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What making me happy this week 06.14.13

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photos:
1. mangos
2. blik eames decal
3. charles and ray eames © 2011 eames office, llc
charles and ray Eames “pinned” by chair bases, 1947, as seen in american masters charles & ray eames: the architect and the painter.
4. converse sneaker made with lucienne day textiles
5. nigella lawson’s old fashioned chocolate cake

My son finished his exams Thursday and christened the beginning of summer by having friends over for a fire in the backyard to burn homework, and to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. (Though earlier in the day he said, “I miss school already.”)

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival started last night. Three weeks of free outdoor concerts, food stalls, late night outdoor movies and many other amusements. I noticed they added some free outdoor yoga classes starting at 5pm on the lawn adjacent to my office. Maybe…

There are also free noontime concerts on Thursdays a few blocks away from my office, Sonic Lunches, sponsored by a local radio station. UM graduate Darren Criss was the star of the most recent one. I wanted to go, but didn’t want to wait hours to get in the door of the Michigan Theater. Most concerts are outdoors and not so well attended. But Darren Criss is now a superstar, having conquered Broadway and now starring in Glee. He also wrote and starred in “A Very Potter Musical” which he created while a student here. Such a talented guy. He has quite a fan base here in AA.

In addition to a free-for-summer child who loves school, the start of summer and the anticipation of the AA Summer Festival, also making me happy this week include:

1. Mangos. I didn’t like mangos for a long time due to my experience with some with stringy texture years ago. My brother had me try one a few months ago and it was amazing. Love them. But still need to learn how to properly cut one…as it is now, my hand turns into a sticky, slimy mess and much of the fruit is left on the stone.

2. I have some Blik decals on my office walls, but I may have to replace them with these decals based on Ray Eames textiles. I’ve been thinking about the Eames lately as they are featured in a current exhibit on modern design at the Cranbrook Institute where they met. I plan to attend at the end of the month.

3. Converse sneakers made with Lucienne Day textiles make me happy. But it makes me unhappy that I discovered these years after they were produced.

4. Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake that may daughter I made this week. I was in the mood for cake. She was in the mood for chocolate. It was better the next day after having been refrigerated.

5. Have you seen these Openculture videos on the Bauhaus, Modernism and American Design?

6. Six Words You Should Say Today, from the Hands Free Momma blog. I love simple suggestions for better parenting. As my sister said, filing this one away with the other important scripts! (One of the best scripts was given to me by my friend, Suzanne, who told me to practice saying over and over again, “I’m sorry, but that would be just impossible.” The period at the end was the most important part.)

7. Libby Callaway’s home featured in the Selby. I probably couldn’t live here, too much going on. But I love looking at it. I love that she’s taken a pretty modest house and really turned it into a spectacular and unexpected space. So much to love here, the chevron rug, the closet, the clothes…though, I’m no fan of antlers, bones or dental casts…

8. Convos with My 2 year Old: Episode 3
Not as good as the first one, but it did make me laugh

Happy weekend to you!

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042113zoeycowboyboots

042113momfinches

what's making me happy this week 04.21.13: cowboy boots, love revolution and label makers

photos
1) my daughter studying in her cowboy boots
2) a never ending stream of colorful finches at my mother’s birdfeeder
3) my niece discovered her mother’s new label maker

What a week. Every day contained deep sorrow at the news from both here in the U.S. and around the world, and joy for time with my dear sister from Seattle who came for a too short visit.

My sister left yesterday and the world spins madly on. Thank goodness the sun is finally out or I may not have made it out of bed today.

While some of the items below may not have actually made me happy, they did make laugh, and that’s a good step.

1. Cowboy boots and my daughter make me happy. (Definitely not in that order.)

2. My mother lives in the country and has a constant stream of birds at her many feeders. I spend a night at her house a couple of times a month and it is so relaxing to sit a her kitchen table in the morning, drinking coffee and watching the birds, and to be in her company.

3. Family I visited with this week– my sweet sisters, my hilarious niece and my dear mom.

4. The only way to deal with heckling from opposing fans – balls.ie

5. Have you seen this? The girls who burns her hair off with her curling iron “how to” video? 12 million hits in 5 days. I don’t know if I would have thought it was funny if I hadn’t also watched her appearance on Ellen. So watch both. Girl wins in the end because she is just adorable.
Watch this one first:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdVuSvZOqXM

Watch this one second:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVzbds5tOOw

6. My son and I volunteered at the Ark last night for Brother Jocephus and the Love Revolution Orchestra. Just what the doctor ordered this week. So much energy! I have never seen our little music club so full of dancing people. They play a mix of New Orleans type gospel/rock, and some interesting covers— like ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky and Queen’s Somebody to Love. The lead female singer, Samia Michelle Mounts, is amazing:
See her here singing Somebody to Love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eL_FGjyCuA
Another video of the band here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPZCnwdlTVc

7. ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky. Old School. So appropriate for those of us living in Michigan. Finally a sunny day!

“And today is the day we’ve been waiting for.”

8. My son and I have a “night time” photography assignment due for our photography class. So, last night after volunteering at the Ark, we drove around Ann Arbor until midnight taking night time shots. It was a lot of fun. We ended up in places I wasn’t so comfortable being at 11pm, but my son reminded me he was big and buff. Haha. Tall and lanky, yes. Big and buff, not so much. It was fun being out and about taking photos in the dark.

I think 8 is more than acceptable for this crazy week. I so hope you have found something that has at least made you smile this week.

eggsredtub

eggbook

photo 111: i am the eggman

photos
1) this is the one I matted and turned in: eggs in a tubtrugs bucket with old green onions peeled from the bottom of the vegetable drawer, winter, sunday morning light
2) outtake: egg on “radioactive: marie & pierre curie: a tale of love and fallout” by lauren redniss. redniss is a “graphic biolgrapher” and if you have not seen her books, you should. gorgeous.
3) outtake: eggs in bowl my sister-in-law made. do you think our windows need a little work…ugh.

In January I signed up for an introductory photography class at our local community college. Blogging was a motivator, but also, I was looking for something that would interest my teenage son, something that would get him off of his computer. He was interested, so we signed up together. Since he is only 15, and dyslexic, I wanted to take the class with him to make sure he wasn’t in over his head. Turns out he helps me more than I help him. (Turns out we also have to keep one empty seat between us in class so we don’t argue.)

We have an assignment every week that we edit, print and mount on matte board in class on Monday night. On Wednesday nights in addition to a technical lecture on our camera, or Lightroom, we have a critique. Our work is displayed anonymously and we have to vote on which photos we like the best—with the idea that clusters of votes will help illuminate key elements to a good photograph.

The matted photos are pinned to a bulletinboard/wall and the instructor puts a push pins above each photo that gets votes, one push pin per vote. Then we go in order, from the most push pins to the least talking about our process and getting critiqued.

I have had many weeks with no pins (votes), but two weeks ago my son and I tied for most votes. He gets votes almost every week and frequently gets the most votes. Once I told him it is even more exciting for me, as a mom, when he gets votes, than if I do. His response was, “No! You don’t get to claim credit for my work! No!”

For our egg assignment, we had to take a photo of an egg with the goal of getting a well-exposed, sharp image. I liked my image and technically it was good. But it received no votes from my classmates. My son put his egg on our pool table and had it in the foreground sharply focused and all of the colored pool balls in the background out of focus. He received many votes. One girl broke an egg in the snow and had a small LED flashlight illuminate it from underneath. There was a layer of snow between the egg and the light. The whole critique was really eye opening to me. Think creatively, or, take the egg out of the kitchen.

We only have 3 more weeks left and both my son and I are sad it’s coming to an end. As much as missing the photography class, I will miss the time with my son. He will get his driver’s license at the end of the summer, and it’s clear to me he can handle the classwork on his own. He is planning to take another photography class in the fall, without his mom. Of course, as a mom, I am proud of his growth toward independence, and I will let him know this, at the risk of him accusing me of claiming credit.

this bond girl

April 4, 2013

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Bond girl?

photos:
1. judi dench as “m”
2. bond’s casino royale swim suit
3. max and his smart girl, agent 99

I watched my first James Bond movie last week, Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. Yes, I said my first. Ever. No, I’m not Amish.

I don’t like violence and I don’t like movies in which the female characters are nothing more than eye candy. But I am a mother of a teenager whom I adore and who will soon be off and running…fast and far away from me. So when invited by this boy to watch Casino Royale and Skyfall, I was willing to give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised by these movies, in fact I look forward to seeing more. There was violence, yes, and I was born with a dominant sensitivity gene, so I didn’t love that part. But it wasn’t quite as violent as I had imagined.

As far as females, well Judi Dench was the most powerful character in these films and she kind of rocked in her toughness. There were definitely creepy parts– please James, sex with two different “owned” women in the same day and no hint of protection? Shall I teach you about STDs and exponents? Yikes.

I have to admit I almost blew my chances at watching Skyfall due to my obnoxious questions and comments during Casino Royale. I could not help but say things like, “Oh, he kissed her, she’s going to die.” “That one is going to turn out to be a bad guy.” My son accused me of seeing the movie before. He just needs another decade of movie watching to see the patterns. And besides, how can you have a new Bond girl if the old one is still alive? No Bond girl survives for a second movie, does she? And if you have a crazy, demented, bad guy, constrained and locked in a “display” cell with all 4 walls exposed, and he’s chill…he is going to escape. Saw that movie. It was called Silence of the Lambs.

When I was anxious someone was going to get hurt I couldn’t help it, “Is he going to die?” “Does he catch him?” “Where are they going?” and the worst…”What did he say?!”

I KNEW I was being obnoxious but I couldn’t help myself. I saw the words shoot out of my mouth and float in the air in front of my face before my brain could tell my mouth, “Shut it!” Guess who I sounded like—My OWN mom. (You are NOT obnoxious mom. You are awesome, ALWAYS. But you do ask questions during movies.)

Even more obnoxious, was when my son laughed at James Bond’s swimsuit, “Look how short his swimsuit is!” and I replied without a laugh, “Yes…just look.”

I’m the worst.

Luckily my dear son forgave my movie watching indiscretions, or maybe he is so used to tuning me out they didn’t even register. He allowed me to watch Skyfall with him a couple of days later. I was much better behaved.

Clearly I’m not the target audience for Bond films, I’m more of a Get Smart gal. But I’m going to keep my mouth shut and fake it, so I that I may be able to spend 20 more movies? 30 more hours? sharing time with this boy I love.

what now son?!

March 29, 2013

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what now snotty son?!

photos:
1. my boy at 4, he looks just like my sister
2. my boy at 6
3. my boy 15, who will now not let me take and/or publish photos of h
im

When my kids were little I remember commiserating with a friend about parenting a toddler.

You may be familiar with the frustrations of toddler logic:
If is see it, it’s mine.
If it touched it, it’s mine.
It I want it, it’s mine.
If its yours, it’s mine.

Her advice was, “Just make sure that when someone walks in on you dealing with your toddler, it’s clear which one of you is the toddler.”

Oh how these words have been echoing in my head as I parent my teenage son. He frustrates me so much sometimes…I’m not sure it would be clear to someone walking in on us arguing, who is the teenager and who is the parent.

We are taking a photography class together two nights every week at the community college. We now keep at least one seat between us so we don’t get into any more arguments during class.

I am sure just my presence- that I exist- often drives my son up the wall. It’s the way I felt about my own parents at his age. I remember blaring the Elton John song “The Bitch is Back” when I was mad at my mom. I’m sure it was prompted by her telling me to clean up my bedroom. What a brat I was. (Sorry mom! You know I adore you!)

My friend Suzanne’s daughter is a junior in college and her daughter, with whom Suzanne has a great relationship, recently said to her, “I don’t know why I couldn’t stand you when I was in high school. I really don’t understand what my problem was.”

I do get it, this need for independence. I think it’s tricky for my son because I know he actually likes his parents. He has told me that he likes taking the photography class with me…though I never would have guessed that by his snarky behavior toward me during class. But I get that too.

Last night I was trying to help him format a paper for school and he was frustrated and stressed with how much more work he had to do. He has some crappy word processor on his computer and I was trying to help him figure it out.

I told him there was likely a formatting window, like there is in MS Word, where he could just put in his parameters, and he wouldn’t have to “eye” it. He told me in a mean and snotty way that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that he WASN’T using MS Word! There IS no formatting window!!! His subtext: You’re an IDIOT and I hate you.

Guess what I found a few minutes later. The formatting window.

OH! What now son?!!
(I didn’t actually SAY that, but I THOUGHT it. And he knew it. See, what I mean about not being able to tell who is the teenager? )

This negative interaction went on until I finally said, “Forget it. You’re going to treat me like this while I’m trying to help YOU? Nope. I’m going to bed.” A few minutes later I heard him meekly call down the hallway, “How do I make a citation?” My reply, “Google it.” And I went to bed.

I felt badly lying in bed not helping him when I know he needed help. I knew he was stressed and frustrated, and none of us are at our best when we are stressed and frustrated. But trying to help seemed to only fuel his frustration, and mine.

He and I both need to figure out how to better handle these situations. Sigh. Is it possible to teach your teenager who both loves and hates you how to treat people civilly even when they are completely stressed out? And when I say people, I mean me.

Luckily his ever-patient father arrived home and helped him with the rest of the paper.

My son is a really good guy. He is funny and loving. He apologizes when he should. He marches to the beat of his own drummer, which I admire. He is dyslexic and dysgraphic, so school can be challenging—but he works hard and does very well. He loves learning. He is comfortable with himself. He is comfortable with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. He still gives his grandmother and aunts and uncles full-on, sincere hugs when he sees them—often towering over them while doing so. I do adore this man-child.

It is tricky business parenting a teenager, and I imagine it is trickier business being one. I supposed if my biggest challenge with this kid is to get him to treat me better when he is tired and frustrated and needs my help…I have it pretty easy.

But I’m not sure that is my biggest challenge with this kid.

My biggest challenge is how I react to his behavior…Ugh. More wine please.