Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mighty Mamas

With a little one at home, I have found lots of excuses for not exercising on a regular basis. A couple of months ago, a friend put a link to a 30 Day At-Home CrossFit Challenge ( I found that the exercises were challenging, but relatively easy to accomplish. The daily workouts only took 5-10 minutes and could be done with a preschooler jumping all around - now that's my kind of exercise!

However, after completing the 30 days, I realized that I hadn't really done much in the way of sustained aerobic exercise for a month. So I decided to up the ante and begin another 30 Day Challenge. The Clean Eats at the Zoo blog has a 'Level 2' challenge that I plan to follow and add to it a daily cardio challenge. In addition, I recently have teamed up with 3 other women to participate in Kennewick's first annual "Guts N' Glory Dash" (, one of these 5K mud runs that are getting so popular around the country, on September 29th, 2012. Our team is called "Mighty Mamas".

So, I will coordinate my 30 Day At-Home CrossFit and Cardio Challenge with the race date and begin on August 27th (with a couple of extra days for good measure). See the complete list of workouts on the post labeled "Cardio/CrossFit Challenge"  so you can join in on the fun!

We did it!

With some cute costumes designed by two of my creative teammates, we looked good and had a blast running the Guts N' Glory Dash. My "Mighty Mamas" teammates are upbeat, positive, energetic women who made me glad that I ran this as a team rather than on my own. I love that these type of events draw all kinds of people - from the super-fit to the super-funny - and makes exercising FUN! I would definitely do it again.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

30-Day At-Home Cardio & CrossFit Challenge

  • Are you ready to get back into a habit of exercise? 
  • Do you just need to mix up your same old workout routine? 
  • Are you looking for a way to get into shape at home?

This 30-Day At-Home Cardio and CrossFit Challenge is for YOU!

With a little one at home, I have found lots of excuses for not exercising on a regular basis. When a friend shared a link to a 30 Day At-Home CrossFit Challenge ( I found that the exercises were challenging, but relatively easy to accomplish. The daily workouts only took 5-10 minutes and could be done with a preschooler jumping all around - now that's my kind of exercise!  However, after completing the 30 days, I realized that I hadn't really done much in the way of sustained aerobic exercise for a month. So I decided to add a daily cardio challenge. The resulting 30 days of workouts are posted here.

Click on the highlighted exercises to see how to do them. Feel free to modify, add, delete, or change the order of exercises or days to suit your needs.

Remember, it doesn't matter how fast you go, just as long as you do it! As a friend once said, "Only exercise on the days you want to be happy." And in just 30 days, you'll be stronger and faster than you are today. Have fun!


Day 1 Cardio: Run 2 miles (jog or speed walk depending on your current fitness level)
Day 1 CrossFit: 20 walking lunges, 10 push-ups, 25 jumping jacks (4 rounds)

Day 2 Cardio: Bike 5 miles
Day 2 CrossFit: 10 burpees, 1 minute  plank, 1 minute side plank (both sides) (3 rounds)

Day 3 Cardio: Run 2 miles
Day 3 CrossFit: 25 air squats10 sit-ups (4 rounds)

Day 4: Rest Day!

Day 5 Cardio: Run 3 miles
Day 5 CrossFit: 10 walking lunges, 5 push-ups, 10 sit-ups (5 rounds)

Day 6 Cardio: Your pick - easy run, bike, hike, swim, or paddle for at least 30 minutes
Day 6 CrossFit: 10 vertical jumps (crouch down, then jump up as high as you can with arms to the sky), 1 minute  plank, 1 minute side plank (both sides) (4 rounds)

Day 7 Cardio: Your pick - easy run, bike, hike, swim, or paddle for at least 30 minutes
Day 7 CrossFit: 25 air squats10 push-ups (4 rounds)


Day 8 Cardio: Run 3 miles
Day 8 CrossFit:10 burpees, 1 minute  plank, 1 minute side plank (both sides) (3 rounds)

Day 9 Cardio: Bike 5 miles
Day 9 CrossFit: 5 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 15 air squats (Do as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes, taking breaks between sets if needed)

Day 10 Cardio: Run 3 miles
Day 10 CrossFit: 20 walking lunges, 50 jumping jacks (4 rounds)

Day 11: Rest Day!

Day 12 Cardio: Run 4 miles
Day 12 CrossFit: 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups (4 rounds)

Day 13 Cardio: Your pick - easy run, bike, hike, swim, or paddle for at least 30 minutes
Day 13 CrossFit: 10 vertical jumps (crouch down, then jump up as high as you can with arms to the sky), 1 minute  plank, 1 minute side plank (both sides) (5 rounds)

Day 14 Cardio: Your pick - easy run, bike, hike, swim, or paddle for at least 30 minutes
Day 14 CrossFit: 25 air squats10 push-ups (5 rounds)


Day 15 Cardio: Run 4 miles
Day 15 CrossFit: 15 burpees, 1 minute  plank, 1 minute side plank (both sides) (3 rounds)

Day 16 Cardio: Bike 5 miles
Day 16 CrossFit: 5 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 15 air squats (Do as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes, taking breaks between sets if needed)

Day 17 Cardio: Run 3 miles
Day 17 CrossFit: 30 walking lunges, 50 jumping jacks (4 rounds)

Day 18: Rest Day!

Day 19 Cardio: Run 4 miles
Day 19 CrossFit: 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups (5 rounds)

Day 20 Cardio: Your pick - easy run, bike, hike, swim, or paddle for at least 30 minutes
Day 20 CrossFit: 15 vertical jumps (crouch down, then jump up as high as you can with arms to the sky), 1 minute  plank, 1 minute side plank (both sides) (5 rounds)

Day 21 Cardio: Run 1 mile, for time, followed by 100 jumping jacks
Day 21 CrossFit: 30 air squats10 push-ups (5 rounds)


Day 22 Cardio: Run 3 miles
Day 22 CrossFit: 15-20 burpees, 60-90 second  plank 60-90 second side plank (both sides) (3 rounds)

Day 23 Cardio: Bike or Hike for 45-60 minutes
Day 23 CrossFit: 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 15 air squats (Do as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes, taking breaks between sets if needed)

Day 24 Cardio: Run 4 miles
Day 24 CrossFit: 20 Forward Leaps (jump as far as you can with both feet) (4 rounds)

Day 25: Rest Day!

Day 26 Cardio: Run (or speed walk) 5 miles
Day 26 CrossFit: 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups (5 rounds)

Day 27 Cardio: Your pick - easy run, bike, hike, swim, or paddle for at least 30 minutes
Day 27 CrossFit: 15 vertical jumps (crouch down, then jump up as high as you can with arms to the sky), 1 minute  plank, 1 minute side plank (both sides) (5 rounds)
Day 28 Cardio: Run 1 mile, for time, followed by 100 jumping jacks
Day 28 CrossFit: 30 walking lunges, 10 push-ups (5 rounds)


Day 29 Cardio: Run 4 miles
Day 29 CrossFit:10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 15 air squats (Do as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes, taking breaks between sets if needed)

Day 30 Cardio: The final CrossFit workout is also a great cardio workout!
Day 30 CrossFit: The final workout will be a combination of the various CrossFit exercises. 20 walking lunges, 10 push-ups, 25 jumping jacks, 20 air squats, 15 sit-ups, 10 vertical jumps, 1 minute plank, 10 burpees (5 rounds)


(What's next?)

Disclaimer: I am not a physical fitness expert; just a woman who is trying to stay in shape and encourage others to do the same. Know yourself and your limits and don't do something if it doesn't feel right.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hells Canyon Relay 2012

I received a message from an acquaintance one day that started, "Crazy question...are you doing anything next weekend?" She went on to explain that she was doing a walking relay with a team of women and they had a member pull out at the last minute due to an injury. Would I be interested in taking her spot? With nothing on the calendar and an amazingly encouraging husband, I found no reason to say no. I'd always wanted to go to Hells Canyon. I can walk. I like adventure. Why not?

That's how, one week later, I found myself in a minivan with five other women,  following another van of six up a dark windy road in search of a bed and breakfast outside the town of Halfway, Oregon.

And how, after a big lasagna dinner and a few hours of rest, I found myself with my half of the team, still in the dark, alongside just two other walking teams, the race organizer, and the mayor of Halfway, at the starting line of a 148-mile course through the Wallowa Mountains and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. 

We are talking remote, rugged, beautiful Eastern Oregon mountains. Our team would spend the next 34 hours race-walking through these mountains. We would gain 8,041 feet in elevation and lose 7,611 feet as we walked from Halfway to LaGrande, OR. Each van of six would alternate walking two sets of six consecutive legs, leapfrogging ahead and trying to get some food and rest in between.

My van of walkers would see two sunrises; take and then lose the lead from the "experienced" walking team; and walk an average of 13.4 minutes per mile (4.5mph). We would sweat, shiver, cheer, talk, stretch, blister, hoot, holler, laugh, yawn, giggle, and walk.

That's me coming up a big hill during my first leg.

I, personally, would get to know five other interesting, fit, intelligent, funny moms. I would lay down for a few hours, but never really sleep, over the course of three days. I would walk one "very hard" leg of 5.6 miles from 4028' - 5393' in 1 hour 13 minutes during the morning of the first day; and one "moderate" leg of 5.7 miles along the Wallowa River in 1 hour and 13 minutes well before dawn on the second day. I would become data keeper and photographer. I would eat, drink, ride, cheer, walk, and be merry. I would proudly put on the event shirt and finisher's medal after our team crossed the finish line. 

I would be glad I said "yes" to an unexpected invitation. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Daughter's Eyes

My daughter is beautiful. I know you think that I am biased just because I am her mother. While there may be some truth to that, the reality is that she is beautiful. I can claim no magical alignment of genes from my husband and me, as she is adopted. I can only imagine that her Chinese birth parents are both very good looking. I wish they could see their beautiful creation.

She was not a beautiful newborn. Indeed, few newborn babies are. But, now at nearly three years of age, she has grown into a beautiful young girl. She is tall and well-proportioned. She has long dark hair with an auburn hint when the sun shines on it. She has smooth glowing skin. Her lovely round face is accented by the perfect button nose, glossy lips, and dark smiling eyes.

almost 3 years old

Yet beauty is not comprised completely of perfect features. The secret to beauty is in the abnormalities that enhance the perfection and thus create something unique. My daughter is not perfect. She has a scar over her tailbone from the removal of a benign tumor when she was one month old. Her skin is prone to eczema and breaks out in little red bumpy rashes from the heat, the pool, the dry air, you name it. And one of her lovely eyes crosses inward.

I first thought that I noticed something was not quite right with her eyes when we received photos from around eight months of age. It really was barely noticeable and no one else seemed to see it. In the complex mess of paperwork and packing to go to China to meet our daughter, the vague concern about her eyes receded to the back of my mind. In a hotel meeting room in Beijing on the eve of “Gotcha Day,” we were handed a red silk fabric covered notebook with everything the adoption agency considered necessary for us to know before meeting our child. Upon opening the notebook and discovering a packet of new photos of our daughter, the rest of the information was deemed completely irrelevant and quickly ignored. Once again, I noticed her eyes, but thought that I was being paranoid and just searching for any sign of an undisclosed medical issue. I pushed the thought aside and absorbed the beauty of this child who was my daughter and would be in my arms in less than twenty-four hours. And once she was, we spent every moment of the next few months just trying to figure out how to meet her immediate needs. We were new to the whole parenting gig and had a lot to learn.

about 8 months old
11 (almost 12) months old

The first year of parenthood went by like a flash. Our daughter had plenty of doctor appointments during that year, catching up with all the necessary vaccinations and having her blood drawn to test for any signs that the teratoma she was born with would grow back. Thankfully, it did not and her development was right on track. Soon, friends started to comment on her eye. I had noticed it crossing more and more over the course of the year and had resolved that I would ask her pediatrician about it at her next annual appointment. After all, she did not show any signs that she could not see well or that it bothered her. A chance meeting encouraged me to make an earlier appointment with a pediatric opthalmologist.

The opthalmologist’s exams revealed that her left eye was indeed crossing inward, a type of strabismus called esotropia, and that her vision in that eye was weaker than in her right eye. He explained that, for a variety of possible reasons, her brain had selected to primarily use the right eye, especially for near focus, thus causing a “disconnect” between the left eye and the brain, called amblyopia. She was farsighted, not extremely, but more so than the average two year old. He prescribed glasses to correct the farsightedness and physically patching over the right eye a couple of hours daily to force the brain to use the weaker left eye and improve vision in that eye. At the three-month and six-month follow up appointments, the ophthalmologist noted improved vision in her left eye but no improvement in the crossing; although now the right eye was crossing almost as frequently as the left which indicated that the brain was reconnecting with that eye, a positive result from the patching. He discussed the possibility of eye muscle surgery and increased patching to achieve the best possible vision in the left eye beforehand. At the nine-month appointment, surgery was recommended.

A second opinion by another pediatric ophthalmologist at the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic, part of the Casey Eye Clinic at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, confirms the recommendation of eye muscle surgery to correct the crossing. Unfortunately, the type of strabismus my daughter has often requires repeat surgeries over the years. Also unfortunately (and this is the part where I wish I could go back in time and make myself heed my maternal instincts), apparently the brain becomes pretty “hard-wired” to the eyes by the age of two years, so although surgery will correct the crossing of the eyes, it is unlikely to improve her ability to use the eyes together to achieve good depth perception, or binocular vision. The good news is that the brain and eyes adapt to poor depth perception by using other visual and sensory clues; and her beautiful eyes will be straight and should track together more often. Vision tests from this appointment indicate that her vision is actually now better without her glasses and that since both eyes are able to fixate and hold focus on an object equally (but not together), we can back off on the patching to just a couple of days a week. We will miss seeing how cute she is with her glasses, but we will not miss the patching as the adhesive from the patch aggravates her sensitive skin.

I do not like the idea of having my daughter undergo any type of surgery, but I want to do what is right and best for her. I am reassured by the second opinion and by having the surgery done by a surgical team that is dedicated to working just with children. I will update this post in November, pre- and post-surgery.

My daughter is not perfect, but she is perfectly beautiful. I want her to see this too, with her heart and with her eyes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mosier Twin Tunnels

Today's adventure took me to a place I had been to before, but this time I used a different mode of transportation and traveled more miles. 

The place: Mosier, Oregon's Twin Tunnels trail 
The mode: cruiser bike
The miles: almost ten? 

This is a really nice paved trail that used to be part of the original Columbia River Highway. It cuts a path through the mountainside by way of two consecutive tunnels. It offers sweeping views of the Columbia River below. There is a fair amount of shade from the fir and pine trees that line much of the trail west of the tunnels.

The last time I explored this trail, I walked. It was spring. I enjoyed the views of the wildflowers and took time to linger at the river overlooks and marvel at the construction of the tunnels. I watched as bikers passed by again and again. I wondered how far the trail went. I thought, hey, I want to come back sometime and bike this trail. I recalled the trail being relatively flat.

A few months ago, my husband got me an awesome new cruiser bike. Oh yeah, old school style with no gears, pedal braking, cushy seat, wicker basket, and a bike seat up back for baby. I convinced a friend to bike with me and convinced myself that the cruiser bike would be much more comfortable than dragging out my old mountain bike. After all, the trail was pretty flat, right? Except for that hill at the beginning, my husband reminded me. Bah, I was in shape and could do it. An extra 33 pounds behind and an extra 3 in the basket? No problem. I learned that it was only ten miles round trip. So, maybe there would be a hill or two, but I've got true grit. And I could walk on any big hills and ride the rest. It's only ten miles.

We packed up, drove to the parking area, paid our $5, ate a picnic lunch, cruised down the hill to the trail head, and started pedaling. Oh, there is a hill at the beginning. And all the way to the tunnels. It was hard. Too hard to keep pedaling, so I walked, pushing the hefty cruiser bike plus baggage. And more hills after you get through the tunnels. Then there is a huge downhill, which I tried to enjoy while my mind kept telling me that the trail is out and back and this downhill would later be uphill. At about what ended up being probably a half mile from the Hood River end point, but before another downhill, I suggested turning around. My daughter was hunched over for a cat nap in her bike seat and I was feeling the strain. It sure seemed a LOT faster to get back to the car. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the downhills, feeling good about myself for pedaling and pushing as much as I did on the way up. I enjoyed the sweeping views and marveled at the construction of the tunnels. I was worn out and very sweaty. Yeah, great cardio workout today! But next time, take a bike with some gears, silly. Remember - this trail is hilly!

Entering the tunnels from the west.

My daughter and friend being silly while I catch my breath.


Monday, August 13, 2012


I am thin.
I am strong.
I am not an athlete.
I can paddle a canoe.
I can hike.
I cannot do a handstand.
I am insecure.
I am lazy.
I am not a couch potato.
I can walk.
I can run.
I cannot do a handstand.
I am flexible.
I am open.
I am not a gymnast.
I cannot do a backbend.
I cannot do a double flip.
But I can do a handstand.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sweet Sweet Peas

My favorite subject for photos these last couple of years is a beautiful, funny, sweet, and amazing little girl. Okay, I may be a bit biased as I happen to be lucky enough to be her Mama. But she realy is all those things and more. So, here I share with you a couple of recent photo shoots of my daughter.

This first series was prompted by my dear friend who got a kick out of a photo she saw of someone surrounded by green peas with the caption "Surround Yourself With Peas". On the day my husband agreed to move forward with our adoption application, he simply said, "We will call her Swee' Pea." That was three years and five months before we were matched with our daughter, Yi Xiao Dai. We continued to call her Swee' Pea until we decided on her American name. Our close friends and we still lovingly refer to her as Sweet Pea on occassion. So, this friend of mine, who happens to grow the sweetest sweet peas in memory of her mother, thought it would be cute to take a photo of my daughter and give it the caption "Sweet Sweet Peas." I couldn't pick just one to share, so here are my favorites.

This next series shows Sweet Pea's silly side, and her first experience with a hammock. Enough said. The pictures speak for themselves.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Fresh Homemade Thai Salad Rolls with Peanut Sauce

One of my family's favorite treats to get when we go hiking near Hood River, Oregon, is the fresh salad rolls from Lampoei's Thai food cart. So, when I was browsing the aisles at an Asian market a week ago and saw packages of rice paper with a pretty picture of salad rolls on the label, I thought, "I could make those." It is so easy to find good new recipes online. I often read through the first two or three I see that have positive reviews and loosely follow one or more, thus creating my own variation of a recipe. The approximate recipes I used follow the photos of my creation. I plan to stir fry some snow peas from the garden with some red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger to go with it. Maybe I'll also put in some chicken or tofu to make a complete meal. This meal would be great for a hot summer day. We are about 10 degrees cooler and 15mph windier than ideal, but we'll have to find a way to enjoy it anyway.

Fresh Thai Salad Rolls

carrots, cut into small matchsticks
cucumber, cut into small matchsticks

rice vermicelli (size XS; I found some from Jiangxi Province in China, where Ellie was born!), cook/soften in hot water, ten rinse, let cool, and chop
mixed salad greens, chopped (I used some from my garden, which has been loving our cool early summer)
cilantro, chopped
scallions (green onions), diced

I tossed the above four ingredients (vermicelli through scallions) with the following light dressing:
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs rice vinegar
a little less than 1 Tbs fish sauce
a pinch of brown sugar

rice paper (banh trang; I used medium size, 25cm)

Soak the rice paper in warm water. Put on some of the greens mixture. Layer on some carrots and cukes. Roll up carefully.

Salad Roll prep

Assembling salad roll

Peanut Sauce:
The amounts are approximate, as I wanted it a little thinner so kept adding a little more water, coconut milk, lime juice, and soy sauce to thin it out and get the taste I wanted.

1 C creamy peanut butter
1/2 C coconut milk
3 Tbs water
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs fish sauce
hot sauce (I used about 1 tsp chili garlic sauce, because that's what I had; use up to 1Tbs hot sauce of your choosing, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 Tbs fresh ginger, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Put it all in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Add some chopped cilantro just before serving, or as a garnish.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lavender Experiment - Part 2

Last week, I attempted to distill lavender oil from freshly cut lavender (see post from June 6). So, I simmered my lavender in a stockpot for a long time. I checked the water that I collected in my glass mason jar and looked for the coveted essential oil. I held it up to the light. I peered at it from many different angles. I thought that I wouldn't get a lot of oil, but from what I could tell, there was none. Alas. I suppose this process is akin to trying to make maple syrup at home - larger quantities and bigger equipment needed. Hmm... Eric wouldn't mind parking his BMW out on the street so I can set up a proper distillation apparatus in the garage, would he?

All is not lost from my little experiment. The water I collected (aka - hydrosol) has a very strong lavender scent, and can be used for many things. I will try to find some small glass spritzer bottles for using the hydrosol as a room/laundry/calming spray. I have learned a thing or two and may even have another go at it, which is more than I can truly say about many lab experiments I did during all my years as a science student and teacher.

Lavender Hydrosol

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Local Calendar Photo Contest

I love taking pictures of the beautiful places I visit. Luckily, many of these beautiful places are not that far from home. I am very much an amateur photographer and have a simple camera. I think I have taken a few good pictures, though. So, when I saw that my electric cooperative was soliciting photos taken by members for next year's calendar, I decided to enter the following three photos. What have I got to lose, right?

Poplar Farm in Autumn

Lone Juniper

Colorful Resting Spot at Rasmussen Farms

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

Today, I am doing a little experiment. I have been growing lavender in my flower beds for years and have always thought that I would like to do something with it, aside from the occassional dried lavender bouquet. So, as the first buds appeared, I browsed the internet to find out how to distill lavender oil at home. I wanted it to be simple and only use equipment found in my kitchen. So, I'm using my stainless steel cookpot partially filled with water and freshly cut lavender flowers and stems; a wide-mouth mason jar propped up on a mason jar ring to collect the oil and hydrosol; and the pot's staniless steel lid placed upsidedown on the pot so the condensate will drip into the mason jar from the center handle. Then, I'll have to separate the oil and hydrosol. Wonder if it has any chance of working. It's fun to find out!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge - Hope

                                           Boxful of damp cool earth
                                           layered with
                                           saggy waxy old tomatoes
                                           shriveled bent broken stems
                                           crisp curled gray leaves
                                           pungent sludgy dark worm tea
                                           Worn sneaker
                                           push shovel in
                                           lean on handle
                                           Warm late winter day
                                           humid air

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge - Simple

A photo of a building is pretty simple.  The building itself may or may not be simple in construct, but taking a picture of one is simple enough. It is large, so fills most of the view. It doesn’t move around or get obscured by pesky shadows. So, for this week’s photo challenge, I decided to take a photo of a building. 

It is a big, square office building without a lot of architectural interest. What distinguishes this building is that the exterior is composed almost entirely of glass windows that reflect the sky and thus seem to emit its bluish hue. In Kennewick, Washington, it is commonly referred to as the “Flashcube” building. I’m not sure if anyone younger than 30 or so calls it that. If they do, they certainly have no first-hand understanding of the term.

To those of us a little older than 30 (or so), the name is very apt and just seeing the building can stir up deep-seated nostalgia. For some, they will recall the late 1960’s when Kodak first came out with their ‘Flashcube’ that would allow four flash photos in a row on their ‘Instamatic’ camera. I remember using these, as well as Polaroid cameras, as a kid in the 1970’s.


All ancient history, as technology now allows us all to whip out our smart phones and snap a high quality flash photo without having to insert a flash on top while hoping that you haven’t forgotten to change the bulb after that fourth shot, right?
Upon a brief perusal of the Sunday paper, I find both Kodak and Polaroid making the news. Does the news reveal that the brands of my youth are still as young and vibrant as I am? Alas, not as far as Kodak is concerned, who finally threw in the towel and declared bankruptcy. I read that they are planning to restructure and hope to capture some elite high-end photo printing customers. Not the same as the good ole ‘Instamatic’.
The news involving Polaroid is more positive, but is still a nod to the past. The article celebrates a display of professional photographer Robert Frank’s images taken in the 1970’s. What is interesting about this story is that it reminds us of a time when it was new and revolutionary to take everyday photos of simple subjects and to expose these ordinary people, places, and things in our lives to the world. Of course, Frank was a professional and still far exceeds us novices in his skill of light and composition, even with our fancy user-friendly digital cameras. However, many of us do take after his documentary style of capturing the simple images of things we see or care about or find interesting.
I am not a professional photographer, although I enjoy taking pictures. I remember using the ‘Flashcube’, although I have spent more years using a digital camera than an ‘Instamatic’. This week, I am celebrating simple images with a ‘flash’ from the past. I wonder for how much longer people will recall waving a Polaroid photo in the air to encourage the appearance of the image or will use the expression “Kodak Moment” to describe a sweet or funny time they want to remember. People do still say that sometimes, don’t they?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

Today, what brought me the most peace was going out alone into a ice-covered world, knowing that there was a cozy home awaiting my return.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Still Smiling

When my two front teeth grew in, they were big. I have no memories of other kids teasing me or calling me rabbit-inspired nicknames. However, with my new front teeth and a "pixie" haircut that my mother swears was in style in the early 70's, my second grade school picture leaves something to be desired. Although my chompers were big, they came in straight and worked well for their intended function and I loved to smile.

On the Friday morning before Valentine's Day when I was a junior in high school, I took a shower upstairs. I dressed in school colors. In stocking feet, I picked up my boom box (the kind that had detachable speakers) in one hand and my pajamas in my other and headed back to my room. On the third step, I slipped and fell. I landed on my butt and thuded down a couple more stairs. My pj's and radio were still in my hands, but one of the speakers was detached. I felt no pain, but my tongue felt a big hole where my front right tooth should be. Needless to say, I screamed. My mom came running to discover what had happened. Then my little brother came. His job was to look for my missing tooth. Below were I sat holwing, there were about five more stairs, a landing, and then four more stairs going both to the right and to the left. After about two long minutes of frantic searching, I heard my brother say, "Oh my God, is this it?!" as he held up an impossibly long white object. Indeed it was. A tooth with its root intact is surprising long, especially one of my big front teeth. My mom wrapped the tooth in a wet cloth and I held another one to my bloody gums. Dad came home to help. He called a family friend who was an excellent dentist at his home as it was before office hours. He agreed to meet us at his office, where he successfully placed the tooth back in its socket. He performed a root canal and sent me on my way, with the warning that I had probably a twenty percent chance of keeping it.

Over the years, the tooth turned a little gray. I finished high school, college, graduate school, moved out west, got married; and still the tooth remained. My current dentist has kept a careful watch and has improved the look of the tooth using composite material. Still, it's big and I have an overbite with extra space between my top teeth. I secretly wished that my teeth had come in crooked so I would have had braces to fix them long ago. As an adult, I never wanted to spend the money and I was used to the way I looked. I still loved to smile.

On last Thanksgiving morning, the gums around my tooth were sore and swollen. I waited until my dental cleaning the following Friday, but the gums were still irritated. I asked the dentist to take another look at my tooth. Comparing x-rays taken over the past many years, he repeated his assertion made four years earlier that the bone was resorbing and the tooth was not being held in very tightly. He pointed to the lack of supporting structure on the x-ray and showed how it has diminished over time. He recommeded that I take control of the situation and, rather than waiting for my tooth to break loose one day, I should begin a course of treatments to fix my teeth properly. First, orthodontics to pull my teeth in and closer together; then oral surgery to extract my tooth; healing time with a temporary tooth; and finally a permanent implant. In the end, my teeth will look the way I always wanted. I was ready.

That's what I thought before I had the braces put on last week. Now my mouth hurts, I can only eat soft foods which subsequently get all stuck in my teeth, the inside of my cheeks are scraped where the hooks and wire ends make contact, it feels weird to kiss my daughter or husband, and I can't whistle. With all the ground-breaking technology out there, braces seem very archaic. I'm sure there are simple ways to make them at least a little more comfortable. All these complaints and I don't even have to have spacers or rubber bands like some poor brace-sufferers. I have a new-found respect for teens with braces. At least it was my own choice to get braces; and I know I will be happy with the results at the end of this two-year torture.

I still love to smile.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year

There is something about the start of the new year. Even though I try to resist making resolutions, I can't help but secretly resolve to make this year better than the last. I find myself signing up for a 21-Day Yoga Challenge. I am drawn to stories about dying people's regrets and resolve to avoid having the same. I conciously make myself be more present when playing with my daughter. At the first sign of sun and warmer temperatures, I get outside to walk and run and play and do yardwork. And here I am, writing on my blog - not because I have a particular story to tell or share something I have written, but to just write my thoughts and to practice writing to become a better writer. So, there you have it, I am a hopeless optimist and have gone ahead and made all kinds of resolutions in spite of myself. Above all, I resolve to strive for more moments that make me and my loved ones feel like this:

Happy New Year!