Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chicago in December 250-255

I'm so happy to be out of the cornfield! I love Chicago and would move here in a heart beat except everything is so expensive and I don't think that finding a job as a Spanish teacher in Chicago would be the best move for me. I could definitely see me trying something new though, but what? I am always torn between my two loves of places to visit. I either want the biggest city with all sorts of culture and restaurants and places to go every night of the week, or...I want a beautiful beach that's sort of secluded with nothing but me, a little shack, an internet connection and a shower (or a waterfall that would serve as my shower...) If you find that place that lets me have the best of both worlds, please let me know. I also need the temp to stay between 68 and 78 degrees, year- round. Anyway, I'm in the city right now and we had quite the eventful day yesterday. First, we made it to Chicago by noon and went to Gino's East for lunch. Then, we strolled down Michigan Avenue until the kids spotted the Lego store and so we went there for a while. Then, we took a taxi over to the Briar Street Theater for the 5:00 show at Blue Man Group. We got there way too early and stopped for some hot chocolate/ coffee to take up some time, but couldn't find anywhere to sit, so we went strolling over in that area. Went to Blue Man Group, and it's such an amazing show! The kids really seemed to like it and so that was a good time. After that, we went up the Hancock tower so I could take some city shots at night. Then we went to dinner at an Irish Pub around the corner from our hotel and then we went strolling up and down Michigan Avenue again for some night shots of the Christmas lights. Here are some shots I got yesterday: The kids at the Lego Store. I asked if they wanted to go to the American Girl store, but no takers: IMG_5900

 Me and the kids at Blue Man--- obviously, I didn't take this one... IMG_5912

A shot from up in Hancock. There were so many glares on the windows it was hard to get anything too amazing.


Here's a wider shot.  Oh, city, how I love thee.


 An awesome {in my opinion} shot of the river. This is a bit of a long exposure, about 5 seconds, and the wind was whipping through the place, so it's not perfect, but I still like it.


Another long exposure standing in the middle of Michigan Avenue: IMG_5991

And one more shot of Michigan Avenue, a long exposure with a taxi that was standing still. Notice the door? A person got in the taxi, but you can't see the person because of the long exposure. IMG_6002

That's it for now. I still have many more pictures from today and we have a big day ahead of us!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Since I had a day where I wasn't too busy, I decided to take a few more shots.  I actually like these, especially this first one:


The next two shots show what a little white balance adjustment in RAW can do. I like the vertical shot better, and the colors are truer to real life. I didn't really adjust the white balance much in the horizontal one, so the silver kiss looks a little gold. kisses vert kisses

These are the ice cube men that my Mom bought for me about 5 years ago. I thought they were really cute! I like the way the light is reflecting off and through them. icecubes

 Here is an ornament shot. It's ok, I used 30 second exposure on this one, so the twinkle lights have the sparkle lines from them. It's an OK shot. Not particularly interesting to me. twinkle

Now, I put the same picture in black and white, played with the levels, upped the contrast and lightened the vignette around the edges. I also put a bluish tint to it. Now it looks silver-ish to me and I think it's more interesting. twinklebw

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 229-244

Christmas has come and gone and I think it was a success. As long as my kids are happy, then I'm happy. I had a good time with my parents and my sister and her family dropped in for a little while and it was good to see them too. Unfortunately, I don't think I got any really great Christmas shots this year. Of course, I thought I got a lot last year, so I looked back at them, and I don't think I got any last year either. I'm being a tough judge on pictures anymore. Here is the tree, nice and pretty before the chaos begins. I woke up early to get ready for the big day and took this shot. The camera settings are ISO 100, 30 seconds with a shutter release cable, @f5 before3

This is a sideways shot to include all of the presents. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the top of the tree like this because my lens was the 24-200 Tamron. I'm not sure about the settings here, but they are similar to the ones on the previous picture.


Here is the insane mess after the kids are finished opening up their gifts. The shot is a little soft. Oh, how I need some better lenses!!! after

The following are just some random pictures of the kids opening their gifts. I was bouncing flash off of the ceiling and I think the ceiling fan cast a shadow in some. I should have been using my flash diffuser instead, but I don't know where it is right now.

  IMG_5820IMG_5818 IMG_5803 IMG_5811 IMG_5802 IMG_5793

Here are my shots of the food. These turned out ok. The ham looks pretty even though I'm not a huge fan of ham.


 Here are some of all of us: IMG_5853 IMG_5852

 I like these shots of my parents playing with Stephen: IMG_5842 IMG_5841 IMG_5840

 And that about wraps it up. Better luck to me next year on getting the shots that I think are worthy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

224-228 Christmas preparations

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas over here! Of course, there's always more to do, but I feel like I am OK enough that hopefully I won't have to race out tomorrow on Christmas eve and go do a bunch of shopping. This year, Student Council adopted 30 senior citizens at a local nursing home and then we went to their party today. The kids are wonderful and really do a great job spending some time with these older folks and brightening up their day. Elderly people are near to my heart and when I see them sitting there, silent and hunched over or smiling and making a ruckus, it reminds me of my Grandma. She always did nursing home visits and I hope she's looking down and smiling at me. One of the gentlemen kept asking the kids for some scotch when they were serving the drinks. It was cracking them up. Another man kept trying to tell the boys how to hook up with the girls and told me that he would have them set up in couples before they left. I really wish I had more time to spend with these treasures. I also wonder why their families weren't there spending the time with them. IMG_5750 IMG_5754 After leaving the party, I went to the grocery store for the remaining items I needed for our Christmas treats, and then came home and made some Chocolate balls and some Ghirardelli fudge brownies. Mmmmmm! I think the kids have already eaten about 15 of these babies! IMG_5756
 I tried taking some pictures, but since I took SO MANY pictures of ornaments and the tree last year, I can't seem to focus on that this year. I'm hoping that when we go to Chicago next week I will get some great Christmas pictures. IMG_5761 IMG_5757c

Saturday, December 17, 2011

223 My classroom

I'm pretty proud of my classroom.  I try to make it a place where even if the kids aren't paying attention to me, they can look around and see something of cultural value.  Of course, Frida Kahlo plays a big role in my room, as do the Aztecs and Día de Muertos.  

I figure that it's the place that I spend the most time in besides my own house, so I better make it nice and comfy.  I have about 15 more years to go, so I'm going to try to make that time fun!
The kids seem to really love the pictures that I hang up of them.  If you look, the bulletin board is covered with pictures from various events.  The other bulletin board is covered with various Student Council events and pictures, and all around my room are other pictures of my students and people that are very important to me.  The kids like to take pictures with me, print me a copy and then ask if they can be on the "Wall of Fame".  Of course, I love them all, so they're all welcome to be on the board.  Hopefully that makes it feel "homey".  

I moved this year from a classroom that was a bit smaller.  This room has helped a lot with my space issues, but I still feel that during event times when I have large orders, decorations, boxes, etc in my room I could actually use 2 classrooms! IMG_5736

Thursday, December 15, 2011

222- Christmas decor


Just a few Christmas decorations. I love taking pictures around this time of year, especially long exposures. The bokeh from wide apertures and the twinkles from the lights when using shutter speeds about 10 seconds or so is just very pretty to me. I actually want to go take some pictures at a Christmas display somewhere, but I don't know where to go. I feel like I've taken every picture of stuff around my house that I can. snow man

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A wish list?

This is not a post of my pictures, but rather of some pictures that I'm finding on the internet of things that I REALLY WANT!!! First up, I MUST get these two tattoos as part of my half-sleeve that I am slowly gaining enough courage to get. I definitely want the Aztec Sun Stone and something with Frida Kahlo, so something that would implement these two tats would be perfect!

These next two items are things that I found that would just simply MAKE MY LIFE!  That sweater is BEAUTIFUL and I would proudly wear those amazing socks with my jeans rolled up so I could display them to the world!  Cool stuff!
This is part of the weird randomness that I browse when I have a functioning internet signal at my house and I leave the papers at school instead of actually grading them!

221- Richie's birthday

Yesterday my amazing little buddy turned 14.  14!  Jeez-o!  I can't believe he will be in high school this coming year and next year we will be talking about driver's ed and practice hours.  That scares me senseless!  What scares me even more is that in 4 more years, we'll be talking about college and some big life choices.   4 years.  That's definitely not enough time for me to have him as mine.  Can't we change the adult age to 30 or something?


 His present this year was a big ol' gaming computer.  My son is officially a computer nerd like me.  That's awesome!  (Actually, he is pretty much an exact replica of me except he looks like his father and he's a boy...)  He is in love with Battlefield 3 this year and so we bought this souped up computer with extreme graphics and speed.  He's in love with it.


 I started out the day with a doctor's appointment for me.  I ended up having an infected gland that was killing me.  I'm now on antibiotics and even though I only took the medicine yesterday so far, it's already feeling better.  Whew!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

220 Making cookies

 Cookie baking is an annual event in my house. I got up this morning at about 5:30 am, took a bath, started baking at 6:00am. I burned myself about 4 times, swept the floor about 6 times, wiped off the counters and stove about 10 times, and did 3 loads of dishes. I think buying cookies sounds good :)


 Of course, then I wouldn't get awesome moments like watching the kids dropping cookies on the sheets or licking frosting. (Or making anatomically correct gingerbread men.) IMG_5657

 We usually decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving, but I was sick as a dog that day this year, so it was moved to cookie baking day. I'm wiped out. IMG_5692 IMG_5694

 My parents always get in on the action with us. I think my Dad was the first one to make "male" snowmen with 2 m&ms in a special place... IMG_5669
Not this year though. He's still in a lot of pain and awaiting news of how his "cavernous hemangioma" will be handled. I hope that he's still making cookies next year.