Saturday, January 30, 2010

End of Month Update

It's the end of the month and I thought I should update you (and myself) on my new year's resolutions:

Here is the list from my 1st post:

In the year 2010 I WILL:
1) Adopt a child. (Become foster parent as part of process(?))

Still the same. Husband needs to get a job OR we need to hit the lottery: Translation-we need to pay off some bills.

2) Exercise regularly

I am pulling together some exercises from magazines. need to buy new shoes because my last venture into exercising ended in Patellar Tendonitus after 5 days of 30 minutes exercise (and not a lot of jumping!) I am considering taking up running. NEed to wait for bitter cold to go away sonce it aggravates my asthma.

3) Eat healthier
I have modified my lunches to things like hummus and pita, beans and corn tortillas. I hate to pack sandwiches so this is win-win. May start South Beach Diet-need Hubby to agree to diet with me first.

4) Minimize the clutter in my house

I am making headway in the main part of the house-I went through all the magazines gathering dust and tore out the articles or recipes I wanted to keep. Cleaned my closet and night stand. hubby cleaned his night stand. Need to go through the knock-knacks and get rid of the ones that no longer appeal to us or have no sentimental value. Hubby needs to be in on this-I am planting the seeds as he is the ultimate pack-rat and needs to get used to the idea.

5) Grow out my nails
No Progress.

6) Pay off my own credit cards.
No progress in this-they are probably higher since hubby has needed glasses and is in process of some major dental work. We have instituted a cash-only system to buy things. Once cash is gone-if we need something it has to come from our dwindling savings-we are hoping that this will help us stop stupid spending. Paying with debit cards is just too easy and no connection to how much we actually spend until we pay bills.

I think it has been a decent month for my resolutions-not great-but a decent start.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Challenge 2-ISO

This week's photography challenge involved using ISO. We were challenged to take a picture of toys and/or children playing with toys without flash and changing the ISO. Not having any children and not willing to take my camera with me to work to photograph some toys at one of the preschools where I work, I took pictures of my dog's toys and her playing with her favorite (tennis ball).

ISO 1600

I also took pictures of her (and the cat's) basket of toys-and yes, they go and find a toy to play with-and no, they do not return the toy to the basket-that's my job apparently. This isn't a very creative picture-but I took each one-several different angles-at every ISO so it took a while. These were the best of the bunch:

ISO 800

ISO 1600

All of these pictures look kind of orange to me-I know it is because of the light level-can this be fixed without using a flash-or do they look "normal" and I am just over-analyzing because I am used to bright-white flash?

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What if they say No?

I have been watching the coverage on the earthquake in Haiti and the successful endeavor to bring the orphans from the BRESMA orphanage to the United States. More than one person has suggested that my husband and I adopt one of the "unmatched" orphans. My response has been level and cool. I don't want to talk about it. Some have wondered why.

OF COURSE we want to adopt one or two or four. OF COURSE WE DO. However, it isn't that simple. First, there are A LOT of people wanting to adopt the 7. Some of them are "adoption-ready" (Home Study complete, etc.). We are not.

Do you know our adoption options? Let me detail them briefly:

1) Foreign adoption. Cost $20,000+ (fees, home study, travel)

2) Domestic newborn adoption: Cost $20,000+ (fees, home study mainly) Oh-and then there is the fact that you have to be chosen by the birth Mom. We will be great parents but even I would choose the parents who can "buy the kid a pony" over the can't afford to be a stay at home Mom (me). We have not been encouraged when we have contacted agencies in the past once we discuss our income and their fees. Not turned away-but not overly encouraging.

3) From Foster Care-fees are nominal. Child must be in foster care for 18 months (?-I just read that somewhere but it may vary state to state) and all relatives must be contacted and either be unfit or turn down the child. Many many kids in foster care have "needs." Needs we are not prepared for. Severe behavior, etc. Most are Elementary school age and older. Most young kids get adopted by their foster parents or go to family members-and all chances are given to birth parents so some kids go back and forth until the parents are deemed unfit.

We are not opposed to any of these options. We would prefer a child in the infant-preschool range-but absolutely not opposed to early elementary school-aged. We don't care about the race of a child. We don't have the money for Options 1 and 2. It can take 2 years to complete any of the processes. We are not sure we will be here in PA. Hubby just graduated and is job hunting. Limbo sucks.

Here it is:

The real reason is I am afraid. Afraid of rejection. My one last hope. What if we are told no. What if we don't measure up. What if we are not good enough. We don't have much money. We need at minimum 6 references. I'm not sure I have 6 friends who meet the qualifications (must know for a period of time, etc.) I could go on and on and on about the things I worry about.

What if they say NO?

I don't think I could handle a final rejection.

It's that time again!

Every time my husband gets new glasses he becomes a little OCD. He asks several times a day-sometimes several times an hour-if his glasses are straight. He looks good in most glasses and they appear to fit well but some how he ends up getting his glasses adjusted 60 zillion times. He says they are off center-too high-too low-I have lost track of the complaints.

This year it has been worse than ever due to the fact that twice the store has had to place his lenses due to manufacturing/cutting errors. So he gets them for awhile and then they take them back and put lenses in-which means they need readjusted.

He also decided to get lenses with frames only on the top which apparently are hard to get used to. This year, I decided to take pictures so he could also see they were straight. It worked. Then he ran into a wall. Another trip to get them adjusted. More pictures.

Oh-and lenses had to be ordered AGAIN because the store cracked them when they cut them. So I know in 2 or 3 weeks we'll go through it all again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Photography Lessons

I used the macro (flower) setting on my dial.
Aperture: f/5.3, Shutter speed: 1/60 Focal Length: 38 mm, ISO speed 220-What this all means--not sure. Flickr helped me out under my picture properties.

One of the things I wanted to be "when I grew up" was a photographer. I wanted to take pictures of people-famous and not-and scenic breathtaking pictures. I was at an inservice for work one year and the speaker was a National Geographic Photographer. Even though the purpose of the inservice was not about photography-the photographs and stories he used to illustrate his message were inspiring. (My apologies to him-the years have erased his name from my memory-I remember the photos but have not (yet) found them). I bought an digital camera-one of the best point and shoots of the day-with a 10x zoom (very new at the time). I have thousands of pictures now-and I have a few that are surprisingly good. (Once, the manager at Walmart would not let my friend print the photos I took of Steven Tyler at a toy run because he thought she was violating a professional photographer's copyright.) But I still don't really take great pictures-I just take A LOT so i can go through and delete the many, many bad ones (the digital memory card is one of my favorite inventions EVER!)
Last year, My Husband spent too much money on me and bought be a Nikon D60 DSLR. I Love it. A year has passed-I have taken some decent pictures...but I am no better a photographer than I was before. (although, honey, I still think it is because I don't have a zoom lens yet-and Santa apparently forgot)
SO-I am embarking on a journey-hopefully one with lots of scenery. I am attempting Project 365. I am also participating in several online photography assignments via blogs. Both are daunting. Attempting Project 365 without having a child to photograph (I mean, how many pics of the dog can one REALLY take?) seems impossible-but the optimist in me believe this will open my eyes more to the photography opportunities around me.
The first blog assignment I chose was posed by Manic Mother:
Chose any one of the modes on your camera other than full auto and take a Winter-themed picture. Then come back next week and share it with us (we'll have a linky to link your post on Tuesday!). Include any information you have about the mode and settings that you used when taking your picture, so that we can all learn!
Since I am new to this blog-thing I cannot figure out how to put the picture at the bottom. So see the one above.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Day!

Today is a day off from work because of the weather. Working with special needs children in educational settings means I follow "the district where my office is located" schedule. So, every so often (and in the district I am located that translates to "we are the very last in the county to close so it happens almost never") I get a snow day. It isn't a free pass, however-I will have to make it up in the spring during a week I would have had "off".
I started thinking of all the weather days I have experienced:
When I was IN school and I would pray for snow days. I would jump and cheer and make plans with my friends-mostly involving sled riding and snowball fights! Growing up here in Pittsburgh I remember LOTS of snow days! I lived in WV for my senior year I remember my friend, who was an exchange student from Germany, not believing it when we had a snow day.

When I started my career I almost did not get hired because Christmas break was extended for over a week due to a blizzard-and the School Board in that county could not meet to "approve" me. Luck would have it that there was a few days of good weather-I was approved, hired, started and then we had 17 more snow delays or cancellations that year. That, for the record-was the highest in my 12+ years of working now.

When I lived in Florida I missed snow delays! I would fondly recall them and think "Just once I would have like to sleep in "unexpectedly". Then, one year Charlie, Frances, Jean and Ivan (and some other storms way down in the ABC's I can't remember) brought "Hurricane days" Wow! and the best part? Some of these days were sunny and dry-no hurricane. When our county opened shelters and issued any type of evacuation the schools closed because, well, the schools ARE the shelters. That year, due to multiple storms in Florida resulting in this, our governor asked some counties to open shelters when the storm wasn't expected to hit us-since shelters in affected areas had been damaged! Woot! Free (warm and sunny) day! Do you know where you were the day after 9/11? I do-home, because we had a hurricane day-but that storm went north of us at the last minute-still, a day off!. I loved hurricane days! (Call me crazy but you should know all of the hurricanes that actually hit my area came on Saturdays and Sundays)

My first year back living here was the year of the ice storms and a fair amount of snow. I was so happy when we had snow days because I seemed to have lost all my snow driving skills-I.was.terrified.

Now, I think I would rather just have a delay so I can sleep in a bit. It sucks having to make up days in the spring.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

And Who Are You?

Today a woman called out my name and said, "Hello" to me at the grocery store. She asked how my Mom was doing after her surgery. Clearly, she knew me. Clearly I had contact with her in December because she knew about the surgery. It took me the entire conversation, a "See you Tuesday" from her and the frigid walk to my car (hello -2 windchill) before I realized she is the Mom of one of my students.
Once warmed up in the car I realized this is a fairly common event in my life. Another parent talked to me when I stopped in a clothing store where she worked. It took her telling me her first name for my brain to click. Over the last few years I have had multiple conversations with people and while on the outside I am chatty and seemingly on top of thing-inside I am going all "Who the Hell are you?" Don't get me wrong-I love to see people I know outside the day-to-day context I usually see them in. I am friendly and outgoing so talking to a complete-at-the-time stranger is no problem for me.
Now, one must realize I attended 5 (?) Elementary, 3 middle schools, 3 high schools (no, not an Army brat-just restless "movin' on up parents). I have worked in 3 states during my professional career. And while I don't run into people from Elementary or Middle School-I have run into high school, college and old work colleagues. Most notably when I interviewed for a job in Florida and halfway through the interview I stopped and started asking one of the people present where she went to school, where she lived, etc. until I finally figured out we went to (undergrad) college together. Needless to say- was hired. Or what about the Steelers fan who talked to us when we were at a local bar in FL watching the Steelers playoff game as if we had known each other for years. It wasn't until a few days later when he waved to us from his mail truck that we realized he was our mailman (and had been for years) (and for the record it was my hubby who figured it out-not me.)
I have, in Florida and here in PA, lived in one county and worked in others (or lived in one part of a county and worked on the other end of it) so running into people I know has always been somewhat limited. So when I do see someone I know (or who knows me) I am mentally running down a list to see if any of these categories fit the person:
Burgh Mom?
WTH??? If you are part of this category you probably need to wear a sign with your name in lights.

So now, when you see me and say, "hi" look for the semi-glazed look behind my cheery smile--I probably have no idea who you are-but that's OK I'm used to it-and if it makes you feel any better I will obsess on who you are-up all night if needed until I figure out who you are.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2009 and Hello 2010.

I am tired of making "resolutions."
Instead, I am going to set goals.

In the year 2010 I WILL:
1) Adopt a child. (Become foster parent as part of process(?))
2) Exercise regularly
3) Eat healthier
4) Minimize the clutter in my house
5) Grow out my nails
6) Pay off my own credit cards.

These goals to me are more like Demands. They must occur. (Ok-growing out my nails isn't essential but I really, really want to have pretty nails)