Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012: Gingerbread & Capitol Tree

I was so busy this December. So, so busy. Between photoshoots, a trip to Boston, room-momming (yes, I just made room mom a verb) the third grade winter party, co-chairing the PTA holiday bazaar, running the school book club, and TWO HUGE parties at my home with editing and blog press, so many things we usually enjoy doing during the Christmas season were snuck in whenever we had a free moment. It was NOT a relaxing holiday. But, really, I can't complain. I have a full life and many, many blessings.

I ended up dropping a lot of our fun family traditions to free up some time but our tradition of decorating gingerbread houses was happening - even if it had to wait until almost Christmas. The bright side to waiting until three days before Christmas to decorate gingerbread houses? The kits drop down to $5 and my hubs was home from work.

Mike has never been home when we decorated gingerbread houses and I was completely surprised at how much he liked it. I handed the more complex kit over to him and Charlie while Henry and I decorated the one that didn't require additional ingredients and rolling out fondant!

So many times we women want things to look the way we would do them. I try very hard to quiet the voices in my head that want to tell my husband he is doing it "wrong" when it isn't how I would do it. As he squeezed TONS of icing out to glue the gingerbread shapes together into a house, I feared we'd run out of icing (husbands don't know how little icing you get in the kits!) and I chimed in "Babe!! That's too much icing!!" He looked over at me and said, "Charlie and my gingerbread house is being built to withstand hurricane force winds. It will be the most structurally sound gingerbread house of all time. That requires a lot of icing." These are the times when I remember I'm surrounded not only by all men -- but also, engineers. So, I told my voices to shut up and I let them do their thing.
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Henry REALLY didn't care about decorating but he LOVED the candy. He was totally content to let me take the reins as long as I didn't cut off the supply of m&ms.
Love this shot of Henry trying to move in on Charlie's candy when his ran out... Ha ha! Siblings.
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Gingerbread houses are messy. But so fun.
Mine and Henry's on the left and Mike and Charlie's is on the right. I love them!!

I really wanted to find the time to see the Capitol Christmas tree this year. Everyone told us to see the Capitol tree over the White House tree because it's less crowded and not blocked off -- you can walk right up to it. Mike proposed to me at night on the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol so, of course, this makes the Capitol my most loved "monument" in DC. I really wanted to take our boys there to see the tree and make the place even more special than it already is.
I looove shooting at night and rocking low light! The tree was so pretty and the top of the Capitol building was well lit -- it was just beautiful. My new full-frame camera has pop up flash -- but I have NO CLUE how to set a camera on manual for flash (learning this and using a speedlight is my 2013 goal) so I always have to click over to auto for husband-use and flash images. I don't mind. When I'm always the one behind the camera, I'm totally willing to be in flash images that are blurry. As long as I'm in them with my boys, my photography standards lower and being in them is all that matters!

Charlie was freezing and crabby and Henry just wanted to run in circles. They could have cared less that it was a special place. But that's ok. It IS special. It's where Mike and I committed to be their parents -- so even though they were obnoxious, I was in heaven.
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Christmas 2012: Santa Claus

Get ready, folks! This is part one of a barrage of Christmas blog posts!

Long gone are the days of the Beaumont, TX Santa experience where the "long" line lasts twenty minutes. We saw the Northern VA mall Santa on a Monday night at 7pm and waited for TWO hours. Seriously!? Who goes to see Santa on a school night during the dinner hour!? Besides us, of course. But no one else was supposed to have that same idea. Mall Santa Fail... It was painful. Mostly for Mike who hates doing any sort of chaotic activity after work much less waiting for two hours - in a mall - with tired kids.

But as we got in the back of the line, the family right behind us happened to be my girlfriend and Henry's preschool buddy, Kyle! That added two additional iPhones, an iPad, and friends to the wait -- and things were much better!
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Shooting under fluorescent light is truly difficult. It doesn't exactly make your subject look pretty or their skin tones natural. Add in the winter motif with blue and purple spotlights and man, it's just rough for a lady who refuses to pop up the flash!! But it was a fun challenge! I also took the opportunity to try and get the boys to take "blowing snow" photos with all the fake flakes that were lying around. Ok, well they weren't lying around. The snow was technically part of the decor behind velvet ropes that I crossed to scoop up. I'm such a photography rebel!
Henry did not quite understand what to do...
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Henry's preschool buddy, Kyle, was wonderful to have in line with us. Henry and he found lots to do together -- like, climb. Everything. Kyle's oldest sister is just about Charlie's age so they played on all the gadgets while being cool big kids.
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How cute are these boys!?
After an hour and a half in line, we finally made it to the snow room where the kids get to run around while snowflakes come down out of the ceiling. Talk about terrible lighting. It was literally BLUE inside with a giant, awful spotlight in the middle. Editing was brutal attempting to get their skin to look a little more human and a lot less Smurf.
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And finally, we saw Santa. Charlie was stoked. He knew exactly what he was going to ask for and had been rehearsing the list so he wouldn't forget anything. Mike and I really weren't sure how well Henry would do with seeing Santa this year. Last year, he screamed in terror. But... as they tend to do, he'd grown up a bit and better understood the concept -- Santa was bringing toys. That seemed to be motivation enough to just go for it. He climbed right up there with his big brother and started telling Santa that he wanted Team Umizoomi toys. It was precious. My kids. Ah! Swoon! I love them so.

They both smiled and looked at the camera. How boring! But cute!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Well, That Was Fun

A few weeks ago, Rachel had an idea. She thought we should have our hair done at the new Dry Bar in Georgetown before the company Christmas party. In the middle of the afternoon. On a Friday. In December. Despite the fact that we were guaranteed a horrible traffic experience, we made appointments because we don't like to turn down each other's ideas. Like, ever. The location was amongst the adorable shops and restaurants of Georgetown and we nabbed a coveted meter spot within a block of our destination {score!} right in front of the world's cutest macaroon shop {yes, we bought some. And no, we did not wait for them to come to room temperature before scarfing them down}. The Dry Bar was amazing! It was decorated in grey and yellow {my favorite!} and my blow out was fab. It took two hours to get home... But, my hair lasted for THREE days. Unreal. Sooo worth it.
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Mike's company Christmas party was amazing {and so was my hair! Can I get that done everyday?}! They moved the party from the usual fancy Tysons hotel ballroom to the Dulles Air & Space Museum. It was amazing - AMAZING! We love the Air & Space Museum anyway -- but to be there at night in a pretty dress on my husband's arm with cocktails and desserts served around the Discovery Space Shuttle - I mean... AMAZING!!! I am VERY grateful to my husband's company for such a lovely party. We never made it to the dance floor but we ate delicious food and talked to LOTS of great people. I was thrilled to know the photographer -- a really fabulous talent out of Leesburg, Jeanette Burkle. After last year's party, I started taking classes with her. She taught me so many things about photography and really sparked all of my ambition this year. It was a really beautiful evening.
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A few weeks ago, I had an idea. I really wanted to see The Nutcracker ballet this Christmas and since I don't have any daughters and my boys all refused to go, I convinced my dear friend, Rachel, to be my date. {Did I mention we're really good at agreeing to each other's ideas??} We saw Septime Webre's production put on by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theater. I'd never seen The Nutcracker performed before and it took my breath away. This particular production was set in historic Washington DC with Clara's home in Georgetown, a George Washington Nutcracker, Red Coat Rat King and the Waltz of the Cherry Blossoms! Oh! How I just loved the DC-ness of it!! The costumes were so beautiful with my favorite being the Cherry Blossom fairies who wore tutus of dripping pink blossoms. It was dreamy and I really think I should be a ballerina for the next chapter of my life. It's easy to pick that up, right??
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On Sunday and for the third day in a row, I went into the city. Without kids. What a weekend vacation!

My friends and I had a girls shopping day in Georgetown! For some reason, most of my friends are Type A -- so this Type B was the only one who was on a desperate mission nine days before the holiday needing to still buy all the Christmas gifts! Luckily, everyone was totally fine following me around to the stores on my list! With a stop for lunch at Thunder Burger with brunch mojitos and raspberry mimosas, those charge cards were most happy to splurge and indulge! I bought a hat which was not on my list but OH-SO-CUTE! And the perfect accessory for a day in Georgetown!
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We had tickets to see The Killers play at the Patriot Center!! I first heard of The Killers with their debut hit - Mr. Brightside -- which came out eons ago when I was studying at George Mason University. I remember seeing the video for the first time while eating lunch in a cafeteria that was playing MTV-U and falling in love with Brandon Flowers. Being back on GMU campus for the concert seemed oddly cyclical. We were also with our best friends -- who were the only other people who knew The Killers back when we lived in Nowhere, Texas. We all used to put the kids to bed and gather in front of our Wii to play Guitar Hero and strum along to When You Were Young or blast the album on our iPhone speakers during a driveway party. It was all so perfect to be where we were with the people we were with.

I also love my pair of really amazing hipster-like red-rimmed glasses and all the teenage-esque instagram kissy faces that just felt right while wearing them.
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Well, that was fun. A lot of fun. The most fun I've had without my Nikon in a long time. A very lovely break. With a lot less editing.