Project 52: Week 13

Week 13: The Sick House
I nearly didn't take any pictures this week because we were hit with the stomach virus.  But I managed to grab a couple (not so hot) shots of Dylan building Legos while Matt and I were too busy either being sick or taking care of a sick Aaron to play with him.  It's a big enough set to keep him working on it for a while.  Dylan, so far, is the only one who has stayed healthy, even the dog has been sick, UGH.  But there's still time.  In addition to his posted "Sick rules" (which he created and he are posted on the wall right behind him in the first shot.) we have also gone over "what to do if you need to throw up" emergency procedures.  Initially he said he should come find me, but I told him he should go find a bathroom first, and I'll come to him.  I've been puked on enough thank you very much.


Aaron at Two (and a half)

Aaron discovered a dinosaur sticker book in Dylan's room.  He can't just wear one or two stickers on his hands, he has to wear them ALL.  I think by the time he was done he had overlapped a good dozen or so on each hand.  Sometimes when he really runs out of room he starts sticking them on my hands, or on our cheeks.  They eventually fall off, all over the house.  And then it's time to start again.


Staying Up Late

I just wanted to try some black and white conversions on older pictures.  It's kept me up way later than I intended and I have that googly eye feeling after staring at the computer for too long, so there's a good chance I'm not seeing very well and tomorrow when I look at these with fresh eyes I'll hate them and take this post down.  But for now, I'm pretty happy. 

Update:  I didn't look at these again until days later, because immediately after publishing this post Aaron started throwing up in his crib.  So after dealing with him (and eventually myself as well, yay!) having a stomach bug this weekend, I've decided that these pictures are beautiful, especially in comparison to what I have spent most of my time looking at the past few days.  Ah, perspective.


White Flower no. 2

Lensbaby, ISO 500, 1/100s

I have reached the end of what is possible, and now it is beyond what I can stand.  the temptation is to say “this much is enough,” but I will not give in.  I am fighting… fighting the pain, fighting the doubt.  And I will not give in.  I will conquer it.  And I will conquer it alone.
-George Sheehan


Project 52: Week 12

with Lens Baby, ISO 640, f/?, 1/100ss
Week 12: Morning Coffee
Since I'm the only one in the house who drinks coffee, I use a french press for my daily coffee.  It's something I look forward to every morning when the kids wake me up way earlier than I really want to be woken up.
I'm currently borrowing my dad's Lens Baby.  I'm determined to do something cool with it, but so far I haven't been able to figure out what that is yet.  So I'll keep working on it.

Dylan at Six (and three quarters)

So I've been working on photography a lot lately (obviously), but I realized that I have stopped taking pictures of the kids.  Which is a shame, because that was part of my motivation for starting.  I think I haven't really been doing much with them lately because 1- they aren't interested in being photographed all the time, and 2- I was judging the less than ideal (lighting etc) conditions that most of our life occurs in too harshly.  In an effort to stop caring about perfection and begin caring about doing things I want to do I've decided to restart my Dylan at... and Aaron at.... posts.  Obviously they aren't 5 and 1 anymore.

My dad invited us over for pizza this past Sunday.  Growing up he used to make pizza from scratch every Sunday night for dinner.  I think he had something to do with a bet he made with my mom involving a surgery she had and how many staples she wound up with afterwards.  However it came about, it resulted in lots of good pizza during my childhood.  This time Dylan helped out in the kitchen.

Dylan at Six:  Making pizza with Opa.

And then my camera battery died.  
But the pizza was good :)


I want to emphasize the fact that increase disappointment does not mean going backwards in the work.  There is no such thing as going backward in anything.  There is increased and decreased awareness, that is all, and increased awareness means increased disappointments.
-Agnes Martin


Project 52: Week 11

28mm, ISO 500, f/2.5, 1/200ss
28mm, ISO 800, f/5.0, 1/125ss
Week 11: Vegetable Still Life

The low key kale image is one that I REALLY like.  This came out pretty much exactly how I wanted it to.  Nice and dark, with the focus and attention on the curly ruffles.  But that's because I seem to do better with single items without a background.  

The second image is an example of trying to push past my shortcomings.  My brother challenged me to do a still life with 9 different kitchen related objects, one of them had to be the mortar and pestle and something had to be cut (the tomatoes).  I have some images with all 9 items (some dry spaghetti and an olive oil bottle were the other 2 objects), but it always looked weird.  I just couldn't figure out a good composition for them, so I took a couple away and tried more of an overhead shot (mostly because that eliminates the background, which I've already established is one of my weaknesses).  I'm pretty happy with the light, color, and overall image.  But it isn't at all what I set out to do.  Which is why I see frustration when I look at this.  I spent most of this "session" just trying to position things in a way that didn't look awkward.  I shot this using natural light from a window.  I definitely could have used a reflector for the second one so the knife and tomatoes weren't so dark, but I didn't catch that at the time.  I'll have to pay more attention to the shadows next time.  It's not great, but the only way it will get better is if I keep trying.  So I will.


Project 52: Week 10

55mm, ISO 250, f/5.6, 1/200ss, with polarizing filter

300mm, ISO 250, f/5.6, 1/125ss with polarizing filter

Week 10: A walk through the snow.
I decided to use my big, but not fancy, 55-300 zoom lens this day.  These were my two favorite pictures and just happen to show the extremes of the focal length (which I didn't even realize until I looked up the metadata to include in the captions).  I think I under use this lens because it's one of my kit lenses and therefore "lesser."  However, more often than not, especially outside, I wind up with some pretty decent pictures.  Plus, it has a ZOOM.  My other lenses (a 50 and a 28) do not zoom.  I think I need to start using this lens more often.  A couple other quick comments... 1- landscapes are hard, as much as I struggle with composition, it is never so obvious to me as it is when I try and do a landscape.  And 2- I really like how these black and white conversions turned out.  I feel like the more I get into photography, the more I turn everything black and white. 


2014 Running in Review

Last year was my year of running.  After running during the summer of 2009 to help (successfully) lose stubborn baby weight, I decided to do the same in 2013 when I had another round of stubborn baby weight that wouldn't come off.  Mostly due to the fact that I wasn't very active, unless eating is considered active.  So in March I slowly started running again.  With a crazy goal of running the Leesburg 20k that August.  It didn't happen.  It was too much too soon, especially for a non-athletic person like myself, and I ended up with a hip that hurt so bad I barely wanted to move.  So I backed off for a while, sat out the 20k (didn't even manage to run the 5k they offer the same day).  And in October of 2013 I started running again.  One mile at a time.  With no goal other than to put on my shoes and go.  In December I crazily threw my name into the Cherry Blossom 10 mile lottery, thinking I'd get skipped over the first year I entered, which was fine, since I was in no shape to run 10 miles, but then maybe the following year I'd have a better chance of being picked.   Instead, I received an entry.

And so in 2014 the training began, but this time, I wanted to be smart about it and avoid injury and bad pain.  I increased my runs by no more than half a mile every 2 weeks, added some strength training, and did more speed work (my running nemesis).  And slowly was able to run farther and farther without bothering my hip.  In April, I ran the 10 mile Cherry Blossom race.  My first time hitting double digits.  I finished 10 minutes faster than my goal (I think largely due to race day adrenaline and a very flat course).  It felt great (other than the sore legs), so I signed up for a half marathon at the end of May.  Only 3.1 more miles than I had just run, so how hard could it be?  A week after the 10 miler I had a minor surgery, but after 4 days of a very easy and pain free recovery I started running again.  That first run was TOUGH, apparently the IV sedatives stay in your system longer than you realize, so even though I wasn't hurting at all I had about zero energy.  During the month of May I doubled my mileage goal, over 100 miles for the month, the last of which were the half marathon.  Which was a great run, even if I did feel like it was never going to end during miles 9-11.

I knew enough to know that I wasn't ready for a marathon even though that seems like the next logical step after a half marathon.  I'm not even sure I want to run a marathon, except for the fact that I like running longer rather than faster.  But at this point in my life, I know I dont have time for the training I would need to do in order to run it well.  And I've decided that's when I'll know I'm ready for a marathon.  When I can run it well.  Whatever finish time that means isn't important, I just want to know that I can do my best.

Over the summer I decided to work on my 5k finish time.  I felt (and still feel) kind of embarrassed by how slowly I run.  I am capable of running a mile in under 9 minutes, but sustaining a pace like that for any length of time feels nearly impossible.  But I decided to push myself and see if I could finish a 5k in under 30 minutes.  For me, it wasn't an easy task.  But I did it in July, with a finish time of 28:56.  It felt like my internal organs were exploding one at a time while I ran.  It was AWFUL and PAINFUL and MISERABLE.  I'm so glad I achieved that goal because I never want to run that hard again.  Ever.

At this point I was in a pretty good routine.  Running three times a week...  a speed routine of about 3 miles, a challenging pace run of about 6 miles, and a long, slow distance run of between 10-13 miles on the weekend.  Once I even made it up to 14 miles.  But only once.  At this point I was also officially addicted to running.  I started doing it to lose baby weight, but now I do it for so many other reasons that finding the motivation and the time to make it happen is a huge priority.  I do it for physical health, emotional health, my own quiet and alone time, to prove to myself that I can do things I didn't believe I could, I do it to feel good, centered, strong, calm, and joy.  If I miss a run, you do not want to be around me.  I do miss runs, because life happens, and I have to remind myself that it's okay, sometimes other things are more important (like when Aaron was sick and we wound up in the hospital for the night... it's okay to not run then).  And strangely enough there are now two things that are pretty much guaranteed to make me cry due to crazy emotions... music (duh) and inspirational running stuff.  Like visualizing crossing a finish line (letting alone actually crossing one), reading about other people's amazing accomplishments, even just those silly inspirational quotes can do it.  And I have a whole notebook being filled with those.

I managed to run the Leesburg 20k this August!  Redemption for my Did Not Start last year. It felt great, and... also... boring.  It was an out and back course on the W&OD, which I enjoy running on (it's an essential part of my weekend run), but it got kind of repetitive after a while.  And I usually run on the dirt trail next to the paved trail which weaves along the trail and goes up and down some little but steep hills, but for the race I stayed on the "official" course, which just wasn't as exciting.

After the 20k I pulled back on miles because I found I was exhausted ALL THE TIME.  I also started doing some P90X to help with other areas of fitness, but the time commitment for that was just too much so I haven't really been able to incorporate as much as I would like.  I'm lucky if I manage 1 or 2 videos a week, let alone a video every day.  I still need to figure out some kind of cross training/strength training that I can actually stick with because when I've been consistent with it, I do notice a big improvement.  Something to figure out in 2015...

So since August I haven't done any races.  But I still run.  I went back to lesser miles for a while, thinking I'd try to get a 10k in under an hour.  I didn't quite make it (by a mere 48 seconds!), but that just gives me something to work on this year.  I hope I got my sustainable pace to be a little faster, more like 10:30 miles instead of 11:30 miles, but when I compared my December 2014 running log to my December 2013 running log I didnt actually see much improvement in speed.  Distance, yes, but not so much speed.  I mean, I can run a single mile faster, but my sustainable pace and my longer runs are still pretty similar, speed-wise.  It was a little discouraging, but at the same time I'm trying to accept that that's just how I'm going to run.  And maybe it means I should just stick to some longer runs and not worry about the fact that I'll never finish a race in the top of my age group.  So now I'm back to getting longer distances a part of my weekly routine.  I ended the year with a 10 mile run in the rain and it felt really, really good.  In fact, my last mile was the hardest (thank you hills) and the fastest, at 10:05.  I kind of didn't want to stop, but it was getting dark and I was soaked, so it made sense to stop.  Next week I'll just be able to go that much farther.

So here are some basic stats for my 2014 running year:

Fastest mile: 8:25, admittedly on the treadmill.  So far I've only ever managed to run 1 mile in under 9 minutes outside and that was way back in April.  Speed is so much easier for me on the treadmill where I can force myself to keep a pace.
5k best: 28:56
10k best: 1:00:48
10 mile best: 1:44:45
Half Marathon: 2:23:21
Farthest Distance: 14 miles
Total Miles Run in 2014: 718.1!

Total Miles run in 2015:  0 (so far)


2014 in Review

My blogging New Years tradition...  

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?Okay, these are almost all going to be running related... Ran my first half marathon, ran a mile in under 8:30, ran a 5k in under 30 mins.  And I had my first lobster roll.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I kept them as best as I could.  And even the ones that I "broke" still had an overall positive impact on me, which is all I can really ask for.  Yes, I am making resolutions for this year.  Apparently a lot, I think I need to scale back so I don't get in over my head.  Basically these are the big ones:  1- complete my Project 52, 2- continue to run 50 miles a month, 3- stop stressing out about having a super clean house.  Then there are lots of little sub goals like: run a mile in under 8 minutes, run a sub 1 hour 10k, do another half marathon, save up for a full frame camera (I've got my heart set on the Nikon Df but I just cant justify the cost at this point), eat more salads, actually wear my flouride trays at night (thanks crappy teeth), and on and on.....  we'll see how things go.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A few of my friends had babies and my aunt Maureen had her second (last year she had her first)...  and my sister's going to have a baby soon!  I can't wait to finally be an AUNT!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. Where did you visit?
Hampton Beach in New Hampshire over the summer, and Orlando in the fall.  We came about 5 miles short of having driven up and down all the entire east coast states from New Hampshire to Florida this year.  We tried to go to Maine but a really, really bad rain storm and thick fog cut us about 10 miles shy.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
After 2 week long 12+ hours of driving each way trips with the kids (which were fun, but not very relaxing) I think it would be nice if Matt and I could manage a little kid-free getaway.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Probably the 2 weeks of vacations we took.  Lots of good family memories.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Meeting so many of my running goals :)

9. What was your biggest failure of the year?

Not finishing my photography 365 Project.  I think I bit off more than I could chew though.  So I'm giving it another shot, only this time I'm doing a Project 52 instead (one photo a week).  Not finishing my push-up a day challenge.  Although I quit that because it was hurting my back too much... which I took as a sign that I need to do some overall strength work, and I have been.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
nothing too note worthy

11. What was the best thing you bought?
running gloves (soooo much better), a wide angle camera lens,

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Dylan's... because of how excited he is by everything he's learning.  It's fun having another reader in the house!

14. Where did most of your money go?
house, food, kids

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
our vacations, it was so nice to spend time together as a family.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Probably Everything is Awesome from the Lego Movie.  Which we watched everyday for months after it came out... and it's the first song Aaron sang.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or Sadder?: happier
ii. Thinner or Fatter than last year?: um, I weigh a little more, but I'm thinner....
iii. Richer or Poorer?: richer in all the ways that matter.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I think I did a good job of doing the things I enjoy spending my time doing.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
waste time

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
At home with the family.  Janet and Joe came over for a little bit in the morning.  Then my brother  came over for dinner.  And the kids opened every single new toy.  I also read an entire book by 10am (thanks Sarah!)

24. What was your favorite TV program?
WALKING DEAD.  otherwise I hardly watched TV this year

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?
Oh my goodness, I read so many books this year... like close to 3 a week (amazing how much reading you can do when you stop watching tv. it also helps that I mostly read YA books, which tend to be quick).  My favorites: Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Running and Being by George Sheehan, and the Throne of Glass books by Sarah J Maas, and then just before the year ended The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Long Run Distances by Matthew Inman (of The Oatmeal)

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I really like the Milk Carton Kids, especially the song Michigan.  And the new Conor Oberst "Upside Down Mountain" album is one of my favorite from the year.  And they both have fabulous Tiny Desk concerts: 
Milk Carton Kids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp0xjVzmKxY 
Conor Oberst:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIfTCmwgIbY

28. What did you want and get?
A wide angle lens, running gloves.

29. What did you want and not get?

a weekend all by myself.  probably won't happen for a really really long time

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I actually went to the movies this year a couple times... I think the best one I saw in the theater was Guardians of the Galaxy.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Matt and I left the kids with my in-laws for the night and had a nice dinner out, and in the morning saw a movie.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if only I could have gone cross country skiing at some point

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
I didn't really try much this year... mostly I wore comfortable house clothes and workout clothes, and if I was going to see people I'd put on jeans and sweater or something.

34. What kept you sane?

Running, photography, reading, yoga 

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014?
TV is overrated.  Also, that running helps me connect with myself, and photography helps me connect with the world.  They work well together, for me, anyway.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Pretty much just listen to the Conor Oberst album :)