Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On his terms

Not quite yet old enough to grow facial hair,
but he's getting there. 
My 7 1/2 year old son is growing up.  He is finding his voice and letting me know how its going to go down.  I am still getting used to this "new" Ian. 

I love to take pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  I always have a camera available and I am not afraid to use it.  I thought the kids had gotten used to this by now, but I guess not.  When we were walking in to Cox Farms on Saturday, I 'warned' Ian I'd be taking pictures and he better cooperate.  He instantly came back with, "You can take 10."  I loved that!  He told me the limit he'd be comfortable with and I knew I'd get 10 chances to take a picture with him smiling and being happy I had my camera out.  It was a win-win for both of us.  What a smart cookie he was to come up with this idea and compromise.  And we had fun keeping count of the pictures I had taken and how many I had left to go.

At the beginning of the school year, I put a note in Ian's lunchbox.  It was the kind of note that had a tiny little envelope to go with it.   When Ian came back home at the end of day, I cleared out his lunchbox and found the note, still in the envelope, completely in tact.   I said, "Ian, How come you didn't open the note I left you?"  Ian, replied back with an exasperated voice telling me he didn't want the note and to not do this kind of thing any more. 

I think I made it a whole two months before I attempted something similar again.  On whim, as I was packing his lunch, I took a post-it note and wrote something quick like, "I hope your having a great day.  I love you." and put it in his lunch.  Ian got in the car at the end of day and quickly said with excitement, "I got your note at lunch.  You can do that again.  Not like all the time, but every now and then a note would be nice."

Also at the beginning of this school year, I made the off-handed comment that I couldn't wait to surprise Ian at school for lunch.  Last year, when he was in first grade, I showed up, on average, about once a month and ate lunch with him and his friends.  I loved it and so did he!  It was always a surprise, more because I never knew if my schedule was going to be free during his lunch time and I didn't want to disappoint Ian if at the last minute, I couldn't make it.

Very quickly Ian made it a point to tell me, that in no uncertain terms was I to come to his school for lunch this year.  He didn't want surprises and he didn't want me around during lunch time. I was only 'allowed' to come and eat with him and his friends, on his birthday (not until the end of May!!!!!!!!!!) and when he is made Star of the Week, because Thursdays are designated to eat lunch with your child when they are made Star of the Week.

Really?  Really?  Ian is only in 2nd grade and I am already embarrassing him?  I knew this was going to come at some point, I just didn't think it would start this early. 

The other day Ian gets in the car and says, completely out of the blue, "You can come to my school and have lunch with me sometimes.  Just not all the time."  Ian then sets the ground rules and says I can come once every other week.  Wow!  I feel like I've just been given keys to the city.  I'm not going to come nearly as much as Ian says its okay to come, but once a month would be nice (and ok by Ian's rules).  Woo-hoo!!

So, to whatever mother out there that has been sending notes in their kids' lunch box and showing up to eat with their child, THANK YOU!  Your making it cool for me to do this too, at least for this year. 

Ian is growing up.  I need to grow up too and let him. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

I heart Honda

Numbers displayed in the photo are real, not made-up.

Does anyone buy a car thinking that they will see it turn 160k?  I sure didn't.  Maybe 75,000, 100,00 tops,  but certainly not 160,000.   As long as my 2002 Honda CR-V will have me, we will have it.  These cars are built to last.  And since the likelihood that a pile of cash will not become available to get me a new car, I am now taking bets to see how high the mileage will be when Ian learns to drive on it.  I could see Ian sitting behind the wheel, navigating the streets of Burke. 

I drove the car off the lot with exactly 4 miles on the odometer, back on January 18, 2002.  It was a very exciting day for me as I never had a brand new car before, nor had bought one completely on my own.  I enjoyed inhaling that new car smell each day I got behind the wheel.  I think that smell lasted for at least a month, if not more. 

Fast forward close to 11 years later, and we are still going strong together.  I only take my car to be serviced at the Honda dealer I bought it at.  They are good to me and know that when I have a kid or two by my side, I need to get in and out quick. I have followed their recommendations for all scheduled maintenance and love the fact that I can trust my car on long road trips to get me where I need to go.

I will never own another car other than Hondas.  My dream car is the Acura MDX (Acura is made by Honda), but will settle for a Honda Pilot if given the chance, any chance to get a new car.  And by the time I am getting a new car, it will have all the bells and whistles that it can come with, plus a few others they haven't thought of yet.  Because, as experienced by me, once it becomes part of our family, it can never leave.  I am just thankful that back in 2002, it was standard for my model car to have automatic windows, doors and a sunroof.

The only really good thing about having a car this up there in age is that every October, our personal property tax bill is something completely manageable.  It's not even scary opening the envelope to see what we owe.

Three cheers for Honda!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


The other day, a friend asked me how Samantha was doing.  She knew all I had been through and was wanting an update to see if Sam's temperament and all her many issues have gotten any easier to live with. 

Yes, for the most part, Sam is a lot easier to be around.  She is now charming and funny more times than not.  She is caring and demonstrates her capacity to love us daily.  Sam still has her moments, but I am pleased with where we are at and repeatedly get excited over having a girl to do all the mother/daughter things I dreamed I'd be able to do.

So, when it came time to answer my friend with how Sam is doing, I summed it up best as this,

"There is going to come a day when a boyfriend tries to break up with her.  I envision the conversation will go something like this -

The Boy Sam is dating:  "Samantha, it's not working out.  I no longer have the feelings I once had.  I want to break up."

Sam, in a calm voice replying back:  "No, we aren't breaking up.  I'll let you know when we break up.  This isn't it."  

I really think this sums Sam up best.  She is in control.  She will not be messed with. And it will be on her terms. 

Gosh, I am madly in love with my little girl.  She is beyond brilliant and knows exactly how to get her point across loud and clear.  It takes a lot of energy and forethought if there is any chance of outsmarting her. 

G-d help her future boyfriends.  They have no idea what they are in store for.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

North Myrtle Beach, Part 5! - Final wrap up.

From extreme, competitive go-karting to the dolphin cruise, to playing on the beach, or hanging out in the pool, the location doesn't matter. It's all about being together with family that counts. North Myrtle Beach did not disappoint. It was a great destination for some serious Mazer vacation fun!
Being there after the height of the season had ended, had many, many perks. Wherever we went, we dominated and took over.  If not by the sheer number of us, then by the loud, boisterous laughing that we proudly wear as an accessory.

Obviously, the restaurants did not have any wait for a table.  And, the cooler weather made it bearable to be outdoors.  The one thing that would've made this trip the absolute best it could've been, was a friend for Ian and Sam their own age to play with.  I got very spoiled hanging out with Jen and her boys this Summer.  ;)

We had a theme during our week together.  Rita had found this plaque with the words, "Don't be crabby, your at the beach."  Whenever any one of us said something even remotely grumpy, we all were quick to come back with, "Don't be crabby, your at the beach."  It was very funny.

One of the funnier billboards we encountered in Myrtle Beach was a sign advertising for the "Golden Corral" restaurant.  Apparently they offer catering too.  Now, there's a scary thought. 
Another particularly funny moment came (more for me, than anyone else) was when I was on the sidelines for one of the go-kart races.  I asked the ride operator to play a prank.  I requested that when the ride was over, he make a general announcement to the family to tell them they weren't being nice out on the track and they weren't allowed to ride anymore.  You should've seen their faces!  It was pretty hilarious.  The operator kept this joke going a little too long and they all started getting out of their go-karts to leave the track.  Ha!!  I had to tell him it was ok to let them know it was just a joke.  

I need to give a quick kudos to Jeff.  Anyone who knows him, knows he hates the beach.  Absolutely despises it.  I am very happy to report that he kept his disdain for the beach quietly to himself and the kids still have no idea.   I am trying very hard for Ian and Sam to grow up loving the beach and all it has to offer as much as I do.  Meanwhile, Jeff is counting down the years until the kids are old enough and I won't need another pair of hands to help out.

We did a great job of estimating how much food we would eat in the condo and how much we would go out to eat.  With having a washer and dryer at our disposal, it was so nice to bring back every item of our clothing clean and ready to go back in our closets.  Got to love not having to deal with dirty clothes upon our return.

One of the best surprises about our trip was how amazingly well Sam slept each night.  At home she averages 9.5 to 10 hours.  Each night at the beach, she slept for 12 to 13 hours.  Wowee!!  That alone was enough to make me want to live there permanently. 

I can't possibly end this trip wrap-up without a quick summary of how connected the Mazers were. 

Between the 9 of us, we had the following:

2 iPads
2 Netbooks (mini computers)
7 Smartphones
3 Laptops
1 Portable printer
1 Desktop computer (affectionately referred to as a mainframe by my dad).

Yes, Ben brought his whole entire system!  Here is a picture for your viewing pleasure.

 Ben even brought his guitar!
I joked that next year, we don't have to actually go anywhere.  Just as long as we are all in a room connected to our devices we can be happy and be together.  :)
Inevitably, at some point, we always discuss ideas for next year's trip.  Dad makes it a point of saying that it will be Gatlinburg, Tennessee as it has been a few years since he's been to visit the land they own on top of the mountain.  However, until the road is actually built that goes all the way to their property line, I'll just hang out in the car and take their word for it that it really exists.
Ian has finally spoken up this time around and said where he'd like to go.  Where is that, you are curious to know?  Brooklyn.  As in Brooklyn, New York.  Why?  No idea. But he thinks he'd like to visit there.

Like I said before, it doesn't matter the location, it's being with family that counts.  And mine rocks!

Lori and Ben recreating the "Titanic" ship scene.

Dad and his 3 girls.  It should be noted, I am the favorite.  :)

Nana with Ian and Sam -- just 2 of the reasons I am the favorite. 

There is a seriously funny story behind this picture. 
Unfortunately I can't write about it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

North Myrtle Beach, Part 4! - Hanging out.

Our week at the beach was winding down.  On Thursday morning, Jeff took Ian to the arcade, and I took Sam to the activities room to make a few crafts.  We found that mornings are not best weather-wise.  It definitely takes a few hours before the sun comes out and the temps get a bit warmer.  Sam enjoyed making a tie-dye shirt and paint a bird house. 

Thursday afternoon, we hung out at the pool (specifically the Lazy River).  I think I can make this bold statement and state that our family excels at floating in inner tubes, letting the current take us around in circles.  We do this extremely well.

We found an excellent Aisan restuarant for us to have dinner on Thursday night.  It was a huge hit and pleased this vegetarian (Lori) - 'non-designer food' (Dad) - gluten-free eating (Me) - kid friendly (Ian and Sam) - foodie (Ben) family very much.  In fact, Jeff said it was the best lo mein he has ever had.  I could totally see us being regulars at this place if we lived close by.  It was that good.  Hard to believe Aisan food was done this well in a place like Myrtle Beach.   After dinner, Dad and Rita took Ian & Sam back to the condo.   Me/Jeff and Lori/Ben headed to the movies.  We saw "Argo".  Excellent movie and makes me reminded again, how much I miss having family nearby who can babysit.

Incidentally, it should be noted that on Wednesday evening I had some of the best gluten-free pizza I've ever had.  It was from a place called, "Benitos", which was also just up the street from where we were staying. 

Friday was our last full day and night.  I was determined for us to make the most of it.  We woke up to rain and very cloudy skies, but by 9:30am, the sun was shining bright.  If we weren't such early risers we'd never know how dreary it had been.  The beach was calling our names.

By this time in our trip, we had said good-bye to Meghan on Wednesday night.  She flew back home so she wouldn't miss class on Thursday.  Dad and Rita left on Friday morning to head back home.  It was just my Toppall team and BenLo (we affectionately call Ben and Lori this nickname) to finish out the week. 

Stay tuned for North Myrtle Beach, Part 4! - Final wrap up.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

North Myrtle Beach, Part 3! - Dolphins

Each year we get together, Rita has a shirt made for us all to wear.  These shirts run the gamut from only-a-little-embarrassing to I'm-not-sure-what-she-was-thinking!

So far, my most favorite was the year that we all had written where we'd rather be.  My shirt said, "I'd rather be in Australia."   Jeff's shirt said, "I'd rather be in Vegas."  My sister, Lori's shirt said, "I'd rather be in Thailand." and so forth.  My dad's shirt said, "Well I am paying, so we will go where I want."  And that was the year we did the cruise. 

Our 2007 T-shirt and my personal fave.

Then there was the year Rita tried to get creative and had these little cartoon characters that was supposed to be representational of us, printed on the upper right hand corner of the shirt.  Jeff's was a business man carrying a brief case, mine was a woman holding shopping bags, etc.  The main problem with this idea was that it was printed on a black t-shirt and we all looked like we were black (or African American, if I am going to be politically correct).  I still laugh every time I see Jeff wearing his shirt around the house.

This year, the idea was "We put the fun in dysfunctional".  The green color shirt could not be any louder, unless it glowed-in-the-dark.  Actually, it probably does.  This makes our group of 9 even easier to spot and take notice.  But the shirt also serves as a warning to all those we are about to encounter.  :)

We are only required to wear the shirt once during our trip. Usually, its the first opportunity when we were all together, out in public. It should be noted that we get paid handsomely by Rita to wear the shirt.  And the theme of the shirt is kept top-secret until the big reveal, which happens when we come together.   This shirt alone has become a bit of an 'event' in itself.  I must admit, I am most impressed that even Sam has been trained to not question wearing the shirt, no matter what it looks like.  This is one area she goes with the flow.   

On Wednesday, we signed up to do a dolphin cruise, wearing our shirts.  The boat can hold 130 passengers, but on the day we went, only about 35 came aboard.  Considering we were 9 of those passengers, it was perfect for us.  I am really enjoying going to all the hot-spots and not having to deal with the typical peak-season crowds.

The Sea Thunder guarantees you get to see The Dolphin.  And if you don't see The Dolphin, then you can ride again for free.  Yes, the website actually calls it The Dolphin.  This got me very suspicious and made me think they keep a dolphin caged up, ready to release when we are sailing by.  Fortunately, it was just bad Website copy and it wasn't one specific dolphin they were referring to. 

The ride out to the ocean was scenic and the sea was calm.  We passed two bald eagles hanging out in a tree.  Definitely not something you see every day. 

 Then the Captain brought the boat to a stop and said this was where we'd most likely see dolphins.  And, boy did we!  It was unbelievable and such a beautiful site.  There were dozens and dozens of dolphins all around our boat.  They were jumping out of the water and a few did some really cool flips.  It was so incredibly cool.  I am pretty sure almost everyone on the boat was in awe of all of this dolphin action as much as I was.  As the Captain put it, there had to be about 50 to 100 dolphins, all very close to our boat.  It was magical.

The dolphin cruise went beyond our expectations.  We loved it!  And the best part was, no one got sea sick!

Two of the Captain's helpers to get us back to the dock.

Stay tuned for North Myrtle Beach, Part 3! - Hanging out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

North Myrtle Beach, Part 2!

You think the competition is getting fierce between Obama and Romney?  You ain't seen anything until you put a family of Mazers together for go-karting.  On Tuesday, we went to Nascar Speedpark (click link if you want to see their website).  This place was fun!  One of the best go-karting places we've been to.

We had many things going for us.  The weather was phenomenal, a slight breeze in the air and a perfect non-beach day.  Nascar Speedpark was empty!  There were at the most 2 other families visiting while we were there.  Incidentally, we did manage to upset a member of each of those families at various times.  Like I may have mentioned before, we take our go-karting very seriously.  My sister Meghan accurately commented, "It's not called nice-carts."  Hey, if you can't play in the big leagues, you should be sitting on the beach, where that is more your speed.

Being able to stay in our go-karts and ride around and around and around was the coolest.  We all took turns sitting in the 2 seater cars with Ian and Sam.  They had a blast too.  There were 2 tracks we went back and forth on riding as a family.  Additionally, Ian had his own track he was tall enough to drive a car.  And even Sam had a track she was tall enough to drive on her own.  It was awesome!

We were there for 3 hours, left to have dinner and went back again to close the place down.  By then, we were friends with all the operators and they were even getting in on the action telling us which Mazer won the race. 

During our last ride on the bigger track (Family 500), I somehow convinced the guy to let Ian drive his own go-kart.  And he let him!  Ian was a good 6 inches shorter than he needed to be to legally drive the car.  This meant the world to Ian.  I quickly told everyone to NOT BUMP IAN!  When you see the black colored go-kart, go easy approaching it.  Do not scare Ian.  Ian loved it and has a taste for speed now.  Watch-out!  We have another Mazer competing. 

Ian and Rita
My dad
Sam and me enjoying the speed!
Ian getting to drive on his own track.

Sam driving on her own track.
As soon as she got her seat belt on, she took off!
She didn't wait for the guy to say "Go!"  Love it.

Getting a picture with our go-kart operator.

On your mark, get set, go!!!!!!!!!

Ian, taking his first go-kart experience very seriously.

Pretty stiff competition.

I won the first race!  And that's what counts, right?  Poor Jeff never stood a chance.  We'd fly by him and he'd look like he was barely moving.  I guess he can only be a Mazer by association.  Maybe you have to be born in this family to be a true competing speed demon.

One of the funniest moments was when the guy was showing Sam where her gas and brake were.  Ian hears this and says to all of us standing nearby, "Wow, our cars don't have brakes."   Meghan replies back with, "They do Ian, all the cars have brakes.  We just don't use them."   Spoken like a true Mazer!

Gosh I love my family.  I just don't see how anyone can have as much fun as us when we get together.  What a great day!

Stay tuned for North Myrtle Beach, Part 3! - You want dolphins?  We got dolphins!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

North Myrtle Beach, SC

I feel like the Jefferson's.  We are living large in North Myrtle Beach!  We have a gorgeous 3 bedroom condo all to ourselves!  Not only do I have a bedroom to sleep in this for this Mazer family vacation, I scored the MASTER BEDROOM, baby!  Of course, I have Jeff sharing it with me. 

Dad/Rita, Lori/Ben, and Meghan are in the other 3 bedroom condo right next door.  This place is lovely and we have more room than we know what to do with.  I'm loving it! 

The ride down to S.C. took a little more than 6.5 hours.  Other than when Jeff got pulled over for speeding (82 in a 70 mph zone), you couldn't have asked for better conditions (no traffic, kids were great, and the time seem to fly by). 

The weather has been delightful and so far, we've only experienced rain late Monday evening.  It's actually a little on the cool side.

Hard for Sam to cause trouble when she is buried in the sand.

Ian dives for it and catches the ball!

Rita and Sam check out sea shells.

Lazy River!  How fun!!

We're off to a good start!  Stay tuned for North Myrtle Beach, Part 2 - Adventures in Go-Karting!  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Heard and Observed #36

Jeff developed a system so the kids wouldn't fight over whose turn it is using the TV.  Each hour is appointed with an alternating name, Sam, Ian, Sam, Ian, etc.

One morning before a school day, Ian wakes up and comes downstairs.  He sees that Sam has already woken up and is happily watching a "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse". 

Ian looks at the schedule and says, "Awww, it's my turn to watch TV".

Sam replies back with, "Well, you should've woken up earlier then."


Sam has been acting very whiny and demanding, more when we are at home, than anywhere else.  It's the kind of noise that grates on you.  Jeff and I refuse to do anything to help her get what she wants when she is screaming at us.  Ian, however, likes to swoop in and be her savior.  He'll go to her and give her a big hug and do his best to calm her down.

After witnessing this last Ian-comes-to-the-rescue session:

Jeff:  How sad, Ian is a better parent than us.


My mom came for a visit this past Tuesday.  On Monday, I heard Sam say to Ian:

"Just one more sleep Ian and Mom-mom will be here!!"


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Beach Bound.

I know it seems odd, just as the new school year gets under way and we get used to our busy schedules, we take a week off to go to the beach.  But that's the way we roll!

My dad tries hard to bring the family together every year for a time-out from the hustle & bustle of our regular lives and give us a chance to hang with the family.  We've done Gatlinburg, Tennessee more times than I can count.  Cocoa Beach was the destination two years ago.  A cruise to the Bahamas before that.  And, we've even done a staycation that had us visiting various theme parks in Florida.  It really doesn't matter what the location is, being around the family is the best.  I adore everyone I am related to.  No matter what the situation, we laugh till our sides hurt.  And then, inevitably, we start reminiscing about previous get-togethers and laugh all over again.  Rehashing stories is what I enjoy best about being a Mazer girl.  That, and my superior driving skills. 

Tomorrow we will be in Myrtle Beach, SC.  We have (2) three bedroom condos to stay in from Saturday, 10/13 to Saturday, 10/20.  I think I am most excited about this upcoming trip because there is a good chance, I will get a bedroom to sleep in.  I usually end up on the pull-out couch in the living room.  Yes, I am the oldest of the three girls!  Yes, I am the only one to have given my dad and stepmother grandchildren!  You would think I'd have some clout and could pull my weight to snag a good bedroom.  In theory, every single year, there should always be enough bedrooms for me to have one.  But somehow, it is me, always me to end up on the pull-out sofa.

The only small hiccup in my grand plans of sleeping in a bedroom is the fact we are arriving a day later than everyone else.  My great friend, Wendy is getting married TODAY!!!!!! and we are staying local an extra day to see her get married.  Everyone else will be getting to Myrtle Beach on Saturday, and we won't arrive till Sunday afternoon.  As we all know, possession is 9/10ths of the law. 

But I am hopeful.  I think me being in a bedroom this year is actually going to happen.  It helps that I can now put Sam and Ian together in the same room if need be.  It also helps that Meghan has to leave Wednesday evening and get back home for school.  Therefore, Meghan isn't bringing a friend with her, which usually is the case each year.  So if I am doing the math correctly, Dad/Rita in one room, Lori/Ben in another room.  Meghan in a third room.  That leaves 3 bedrooms for my Toppall team and me.  It's actually even looking good that I could be sleeping in the same room as Jeff.  Wow, what a concept.

I am grateful to my dad and Rita for making these trips and time together a priority.  Other than a few days here and there doing side trips, Jeff, me and the kids have never had a full week off for a vacation together.  It's so nice that due to my dad and Rita's generosity this becomes possible. 

I am really excited about our trip and have some fun things planned for the week we are there.  It does seem a little "off" that we are going to a beach town after the summer is over, but knowing my family like I do, this just means less people around to get in our way.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Write this.

You know the Web site, Pinterest, where everyone "pins" everything under the sun from recipes, to crafts, to books, to pictures of beautiful locations, to design ideas, to even just pictures of shoes they love?  I seriously think there is a board or pin for EVERYTHING!   It really is amazing how you can put in a random word (any word) like "chair" and get thousands of ideas (step-by-step) on how to refinish one, different kinds of chairs, many examples of rooms with chairs in them, kid's chairs, rocking chairs, and so on.  The word "chair" alone will incite thousands and thousands of pins, all neatly organized.

So, I am on Pinterest just like the rest of the free world.  And, yes, I do enjoy repinning things from time to time.  I love all the ideas and get grand illusions of thinking I'll do them.  Ha!  Other than trying out one recipe, I haven't done any of them yet.  But boy am I ready to go if I decide to get going. 

I came across a pin recently that inspired me right away.  I don't think even 24 hours went by before I got my idea in action.   

Here was the pin as I saw it:

Mom and Me journal. Write letters back and forth with your kids. Ask a question, answer a question. Leave under their pillows...I love this idea.

I saw this and knew I had to do it with Ian. I couldn't wait to go out and get a journal for us to use. 
On the inside of the front page, I wrote the following:
I write you little messages, or ask you questions, or maybe tell you something funny that has happened. 
I'll leave this for you under your pillow to find.
When you've read it, written something back to me, or maybe just draw me a picture, you can put it under my pillow for me.
This will be our journal to use.
Love, Mom
I wrote my first entry and put it under Ian's pillow that afternoon.  I was so excited for him to find it.  He had no idea I was doing this and I had visions of all this wonderful writing going back and forth between us.  This was going to be something special just for us.  I thought about the future and how if something was troubling him, it might make him feel better knowing he could write it down.  Or when something really cool happens, he'd have a place to document that too.  An opportunity for us to keep the "conversation" going when he gets too big to want to tell me everything, like he does now.  This journal wouldn't go back and forth between our pillows every day....maybe just one day a week or randomly when something comes up.

This was going to be our thing.  Just me and Ian. 

Ian found the journal and opened it.  He read my instructions page and my first entry.  Then he ran with the journal and put it back under my pillow (while I was in bed reading).  That was it.  Hmmm, ok, maybe I need to start off asking him a question or two so he'll know to use the attached pencil.  The next night I put the journal back under his pillow to find.  My entry asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.  And then I also asked if  he could visit any state, which one would it be and why?  

Ian answered the questions and again, ran back with the journal to return it to me; trying very hard to be sneaky getting it under my pillow (again, while I am in bed reading).  There was no new entry with writing, questions, or a drawing back for me.  But we are making progress.  I think Ian is having fun with this and I will stick with it.   And if Ian ever feels inspired to do more than just read what I write or answer my questions, then he will have a place to do it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being Silly.

My Toppall team and I got silly trying out the new camera. I wanted to make sure I liked it and was happy with how the pictures were turning out. I was very ready to take it back if necessary. After spending this much money on a camera, it had to be a keeper in every situation I'd be using it.

The morning after it's big arrival, I was shooting various pictures to see how it performed indoors. Sam and Ian both said take a picture of us on top of daddy. So I took a bunch of the following picture.

Then, someone said to me, "You should get in the picture." Since the self-timer is something I would use from time to time, I needed to make sure I knew where the buttons were and how it works. So, we tried the photo with the four of us stacked on top of each other.

Only in our first try, Sam didn't even get close to making it on top of us. Those 10 seconds went by very quickly. You can see her in the left bottom corner.

Here Sam has done a bit better, but still she hasn't managed to get on top of us. We had no idea how close Sam came until we looked at the picture afterwards.

At last, we got Sam in the photo. We are giggling very hard, and managed to compose ourselves for when the red light flashed quickly to let us know the picture was about to be taken.

I think we spent about 30 minutes trying to get the picture to take with all of us in it. Turns out is impossible for Sam to have enough time to not only get in the picture, but also try to lay flat on top of Ian. She gets about 4 seconds to complete her part of the picture and its simply not enough time.

Pushing the button for the timer and then running into formation was hilarious. Poor Sam had the toughest job needing to climb up all of us.

It was a very fun morning. And I am very happy with how the camera did. And I now know that if we ever had to get moving in a hurry (you know, like a fire or something), we can do it in under 10 seconds. I just have to click the button on the camera to see everyone move into action, very fast.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Camera Fun!

I got a new camera.  I was tired of how washed-out looking the pictures were with my old camera.  And it was time to see how technology has improved over the years.  I think I am going on 4 years with my old camera.    As much as I love the idea of a DSLR, I really wanted one that I could keep in my purse and take out on a whim.  I am pretty sure I take more pictures than anyone else I know, and always like to have a camera ready to go.  I wanted a point and shoot type camera, but it had to take amazing photos, indoors and out. I researched a bunch of cameras and settled on one that CNET gave an "Excellent" rating to. 

This is it!

Sony Cybershot DSC-HX30V

Check out the size of lens!!

So the camera has a wireless component that will send photos to my computer without any cables.  This only took a 59 minute call with Sony's customer service to figure out why I couldn't do it with mine.  And, no, it had nothing to do with our computer's firewall.  But once I got it working, it has been a breeze to do ever since and is a really cool feature.  The other thing it can do is send photos to my iPhone.  This way, you can post to FB, email, etc.   This only took a 25 minute call to Sony's customer service to figure out.  But again, now that I can do it, I can keep doing it easily.   All the other settings/features, I've been pretty good about figuring out. 

I haven't mentioned Heather in a's a picture with her and her
two youngest.  This is a great example of an indoor picture, with normal lighting.
Love it!

An action shot.

Self-timer.  What a beautiful picture! 

The camera takes amazing pictures.  It works well in any kind of situation.  I love it!  We have a beach trip coming up and I can't wait to see how the pictures turn out. I am very happy I took the plunge and got it.