• Good news is that we know that L can now climb anywhere.

    Bad news is that she dropped a bottle of Noodler’s Ink from standing on the table.

  • Better run!

  • A: “We need to find you a hip hop class.” C: “Yeah, I’m going to hip that hop!”

  • One is interested in food. The other, drink.

  • “Watch out, Daddy!” Colton exclaimed. “Coming in hot!” he yelled as he ran by.

  • First Shots

    First shots

    “I never knew you did that”, my nephew told me. He was looking at some prints that were delivered a few days ago. Some of the kids. A Sandhill Crane. The family holiday pictures. I was just starting to get back into photography again. “I’ve always been taking pictures. I just slowed down a few years ago. See…here’s one of you from the first family dinner we had together,” I explained. That was nine years ago.

    “And you took all of these?” “Yeah, I did…” I started to explain. “This Sandhill Crane was on the golf course in our backyards. These were the kids on Halloween. And, this one of L, I edited the photo to be desaturated as…” I droned on as I went through each detail of how I masked out her red dress. He seemed to be intrigued in the photos.

    It’s now a new month with a new camera in hand.

    “Do you have any interest in learning photography?” I asked my nephew. There’s some perks in being the oldest in the extended family. “Yes. I think…What does that entail?” “I have a camera for you to use.” “Will you be teaching me?” “Absolutely.”

    There’s only one problem: I took one elective class in photography and that was just because I wanted a fun class for my final semester at community college. That’s the extent of my formal photography education. The book was purged from our house long ago. I don’t have any formal material to give him. Hell, I never had any instruction at first. All I remember is keep the exposure needle in the middle and look at the center for focus.

    We had our first lesson last night. “There’s a difference between a picture and a photo. Do you know what it is?” “…not really.” “Composition and intention. I want you to focus on composition.” Maybe this is a bit of a rough start. “Look at these two shots. This first one is just of this tray of sprouts. Not too exciting. Nothing jumps out. Now look at this one, what’s different?” “Well…” he started “The angle is lower and there’s more of the plants to see.” Good start. “How about this one? Where is your eye drawn?” This is going pretty well.

    We start to talk about exposure a bit. “For this week, keep the camera in Program mode and think about what you’re shooting,” I told him. “I’d rather you start with composition rather than trying to get a correct exposure.” We talk about shutter speed and in the middle of my lecture, he picks up the camera and starts playing. Of course! “I wanted to see what would happen if I made the speed really high.” I know, of course, and he’s about to find out. In this, I forgot that it’s really easy to demo how the exposure triangle works instead of talking about it. He has one advantage: He doesn’t have to worry about wasting film.

    Our time was soon up. I pack up the camera, prime and zoom lens, and spare battery with charger. His homework is to bring back his 5 best composed shots sometime in the next week or two. It’s exciting to see someone get into the hobby and to see the camera get a new life.

  • April: I don’t know what a group of foxes is called.

    Colton, age 4: Are you going to have to Google up the internet?

  • “Cars are trains for the road” - Colton, Age 4

  • After feeling that April has been sweating through the night Colton: “Momma, did you pee the bed?”

  • High complements on my beef taco meat from Colton, the 4 year old. Tasting notes: the seasoning was good. Never would have expected that.

  • Night time snack and coffee

  • “Yeah, there’s french fries in there…I should not have said that to you.” -Me to Lorelai, my fry addicted toddler.

  • A: “The card says ‘I know your favorite villain is ____.’ Do you know what a villain is? It’s a bad guy in a story.”

    C: “Like a bad guy in my life.”

  • I wish I knew what all this baby speak meant but then I remember that we’ll be finding out soon enough

  • "We sit on our Buts"

    A few months ago, my wife was in a bind. We all know the stereotype 3 year old: ready to break down as soon as things don’t go their way. My wife was hitting those limits on a regular basis around the house. She was becoming more and more exasperated with his behavior. It wasn’t that he was bad. It was that everything became a battle. She felt that something had to be done.

    After a bit of research, she picked up the book How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen. This became the guidebook and toolkit she needed to help curb and shape some of the behaviors that our son was expressing. I’ll have a better overview of the book once I fully commit to sitting down with the book. One part of the book that my wife immediately changed was how we, as a family, have discontinued use of the conjunction “but”.

    The book explains the use of “but” negates the emotions of the other party. As an example > “I want a cookie” > “Sure, you can have a cookie, but eat your dinner first.”

    What really happened is that the child heard that they can have a cookie. The dinner part of the statement is completely missed. You may have acknowledged what they wanted a cookie yet your true intention is for them to eat dinner. Two opposing statements have been put together into one confusing statement. The book has other tools for the parent to utilize in acknowledging the child’s request without negating their desire. First and foremost is being clear with what you, the parent, want.

    The word “but” has now been evicted in our household. Anytime the word “but” is used in our house, we cut the other person off and say “We sit on our Buts”. It is frustrating to be cut off mid-sentence when having a conversation. However, I am now fully aware of how much I use the word “but” in casual conversation. No guest is immune in our household from the But Police.

    This has me wondering how much I have used the word “but” as a conditional without realizing that I may have been unintentially negating a thought or emotion someone else had been holding. I makes me consider if there are any other verbal tics that I may have been using. As I have been writing this post, I’ve had to stop myself numerous times to prevent myself from using “but” to connect parts of an explanation together. It forced me to stop, think, and reconsider how to rephrase what I wanted to say.

    As soon as the “buts” had been squashed, we had a new word problem. Our son started to overuse the word “actually” when responding to us or making a decision. Every decision was “I don’t want that. Actually,…” or some amount of rapidly switching between choices. So, the Language Ban Hammer came out again and now “We sit on our Actuallys”. Just like the “Buts”, the “Actuallys” have disappeared.

    But I now know how much I say the word “actually”.

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