Sunday, January 31, 2010

Michael's Karate Award for Effort

Michael's Karate Award for Effort
Originally uploaded by jenafermedina

Friday, January 29, 2010

Before and After-- Playing With Photo Editing Software

As I continue to play with Flickr 's editing software (the premium version) I am in love with the Orton-ish feature. Having so many capabilities, I can edit software almost as if I could understand Photoshop.

Still a bit more learning to do but so much fun!

Here's the before shot:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meg Contemplating


Im playing with some new photo software and loved editing this picture. Theres something about the look in her eyes...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcoming our House Guest: Change

It's 5am and my doorbell rings.

Good Morning Change and welcome to your new home. Let me get your bags for you…you sure did seem to bring a lot of baggage with you.

As Change moves into our home and gets comfortable I realize that he brought more with him than I was really expecting to deal with at one time. While his main suitcase is filled with my husband’s new job—you know the one located in Chicago, the Chicago that’s in another state, another time zone for that matter; he’s seems to have brought much more.

There’s the duffel bag stuffed with my neighbors’ and dear friends’ impending divorce. I was really hoping that he’d decide in the final moments not to bring that bag.

And on top of that is the small round case that has the moving of a dear friend, and it seems that this was more of a last minute item he packed for I really wasn’t expecting to see that suitcase here.

Laying on the floor is the small birthday package wrapped and addressed to me with the shiny numbers “36” written on them. Oh, I seemed to have forgotten that my birthday was amidst all of this baggage.

I open a dingy brown suitcase to find all of the elements that will put a toxic waste dump in my backyard—1850 feet from my home. The case is filled with petitions and letters, emails, and posters. (Maybe we can just stuff this suitcase in a closet for now?)

Sitting in the shadows in the corner is a book on peri-menopause. Why the hell did he bring that?? I am only 35—er, 36 years old!

In a clean new shiny pink suitcase there is a bunch of paperwork and leads on writing for magazines. Oh yeah, I forgot he was bringing that. I’m actually glad to see this suitcase.

Change settles in for the day and makes his presence know.

He isn’t that kind of houseguest that you rarely see and forget is there. The kind that is quiet and courteous and cleans up after themselves. He reminds us often that he has moved in; at dinner by demanding to sit in Pete’s chair at the table, he is in my yard as I glance over the melting snow at my neighbors’ house, he stomps further behind my house where I can glimpse through the leafless trees the place where the toxic dump is planned, and of course one of his most annoying habits seems to be making my kids sad. He doesn't seem to be completely satisfied until he makes one of them cry.

They really don’t want Change living here. They don’t really like him (Neither do I really but I need to keep that to myself). However, I explained that while he may have come in stiff and disruptive, we must give him a chance. A chance to show he really isn’t that bad at all, maybe even misunderstood. He could be a great friend, eventually.

We just need to be patient.

I ♥ Faces: Texture

Here's a great texture shot. My daughter with her head and arms in stocks while we were on a local history tour.
Check out more great entries at I ♥ Faces

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Oven is On the Fritz

There are those people who can cook limitless little buns without so much as a thought and always get great results. Then there are those who one day peek in their oven to be astounded at the fact that there is a fresh warm bun baking without the slightest idea of how it got in there. My oven has never been that reliable but has turned out some great products—with some intervention from some really proactive oven specialists.

I had to test my oven daily to see if it would be ready to bake anything. And when it would finally show that it was ready, it was a rush – a mad dash of sorts- to combine all of the ingredients and a wait-and-see approach to see if the oven would actually bake it.

As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, there was the time that I was baking two little buns simultaneously. They began to cook for a while but then suddenly the oven decided to only bake one.

Or the occasion when I put the timer on for 40 weeks with one little bun and the oven decided to crap out around 30 weeks, having cooked my expected little bun to a mere 3 lb 4 oz. little loaf instead of the anticipated 7lb version.

Or the time when the oven was cooking but somehow kept adding sugar to the recipe hourly. I had to combat this by injecting anti-sugar ingredients several times a day.

After all of these episodes I decided not to bake anymore because it was just too risky to put anything in there.

So its really never been that reliable which is why the newest development doesn’t surprise me much.

I was speaking with a general appliance repairman and happened to mention that the oven was turning on at night and running for a few hours really hot—for no apparent reason. It would get so hot I‘d have to open the windows to cool down the house. And seriously from what I read in the owner’s manual this shouldn’t be happening until the appliance was about 50 years old—still a good 14 years away.

The good appliance repairman explained that every oven is different and some go through this “breakdown cycle” staring after owning it for 35 years. He said that this seemed to be the early stages of the cycle and that it won’t be completely “kaput” for about another 10 years.

Strange. I know I hadn’t planned on baking really ever again. But at least I *knew* the oven was there should I ever get a strong hankering a nice warm little 7lb loaf—an undeniable urge to throw caution to the wind and bake something. Strange to think that this is slightly a bummer.

My oven still wears its age pretty well. Of course there are a few surface crevices showing its age and the passage of time, and the couple of repaired cracks from trying to get the previous baked goods out. But all in all, to look at it—or my whole kitchen for that matter you wouldn’t think that it was on its way out. But it is. It’s entering the stage when it goes completely on the fritz. Circuits will start doing their own thing- misfiring and whatnot. It will run these hot cycles, especially at night. Eventually, over time, it will stop working all together.

But I look at my previously baked goods and revel in the marvelousness that they did cook and are the yummiest things ever turned out of anyone’s kitchen. I can’t ask for more than that.

At least I won’t have to run that annoying cleaning cycle anymore!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Homeschooling Rant

There are days when I really think that I can’t hear one more repugnant comment about homeschooling from people who just can’t seem to grasp the fact. There are days when I see my tolerance of such to be a glass full of water and one more drop will lead to over spillage and a mess to be cleaned up. There are days when I’d seriously like to sling comments back in their direction full of judgment and speculation about their parenting styles.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been collecting a sort of ridiculous list of homeschooling comments that seriously make me contemplate saying, ”Oh yeah, school, my kids go to school…love it. We’re TOTALLY into public schooling” and then try to conceal my obvious gagging on my own words.

I hosted a party not so long ago. Its normally like a neighborhood event where you know most of the people, some better than others, and its all talk about sports and weather. Good times. Good non-confrontational times. But this year I really wanted to invite some of the homeschooling families in our group because I enjoy them. I should have seen the writing on the wall that sports and weather would not be the main topics of conversation.

Some of the neighbors assumed this party was neighborhood exclusive—I really don’t understand why but anyway, when they (God forbid) didn’t recognize some of my guests they had to ask, “How do you know Jen?” The common answer was “From homeschooling”. As this crept from my friends lips, you could hear the worms slithering on the floor as the open can lay there. There were some in my neighborhood who didn’t know I homeschooled. Ok—who isn’t being “socialized” now? I practically wear a banner on my chest declaring I’m a homeschooling mama. Then there were those neighbors who somehow were ok with our homeschooling since, after all, I was a TEACHER. That somehow makes it all ok. So my homeschooling friends were grilled the usual questions as they slowly side-stepped towards the open bar. Were YOU a teacher? How do YOU know what to teach? What will YOU do when your child learns more than you know?” Needless to say, the wine flowed heavily that night as I shot apologetic looks to my friends.

The latter of those questions got asked to me and I took a l-o-n-g sip of my wine while I carefully crafted my response since my initial knee-jerk response was to ask this man if he thought I were some kind of idiot or something. His question was how will I teach my children once they are in like 6th grade. So am I to presume that this man-a guest in my home, drinking my wine and eating my food thinks my education is limited to topics under the 6th grade? Trust me it was a really long sip of wine.

Then there was the gentleman who said how I was depriving my kids of great events like (wait for it) SNOW DAYS. He said my kids would not know the joy of waking up to find out that they do not have to go to school because the weather is so bad. He’s right, my kids will never know that joy because they have never been forced to attend school in the first place. And while his kid is whopping it up on that rare January day when its so cold outside; my kids are reveling in the parks when its sunny and warm outside on a weekday in the middle of Spring all day long. How sad for my kids. And by the way--what about kids in Florida or Arizona? They too are deprived of snow days. Maybe we should lobby for their rights.....

Then there was the person who asked me HOW my kids ended up getting sick. I stood there totally puzzled thinking I needed to give a lesson on how germs get passed on from one person to the other and she completed her thought with “I mean since you guys are homeschooled you don’t come into contact with other people.” Wow. I had no idea we lived in some kind of germ-free isolation bubble. I wonder if that would bring down our health insurance premiums? A discount maybe?

A few days after the party I was commenting to someone about what time the party actually ended—which was around mid-night. She asked who stayed that long listing a bunch of possible choices. I told her it had been the majority of the homeschooling friends I had invited and I went on about what a great time we had. Her response: “That’s so weird that the homeschoolers stayed late. Maybe its because they don’t get out much so they were excited.” Umm, they are homeschoolers, not social-leapers thank-you-very-much.

Then there is the random comments that all end with “ because they are homeschooled.”

Your son is good at karate… because they are homeschooled.

Your child is so sensitive….. because they are homeschooled

Your children are_________ (insert ANY adjective here) because they are homeschooled.

Who will your child invite to a birthday party? They must have no friends because they are homeschooled.

Or another one of my favorites is the whole “WOW I could NEVER do that (the word “never” comes along with feverish head shaking and hand waving) OK—sorry you are apparently incapable of parenting your child for more than a few hours a day. But I’ll have to take your word on it.

And lastly, If I misspell something on Facebook—it is not an opportunity to ask how I will teach my child spelling. It is the result of a stupid tiny phone keyboard not an evaluation of my education. And this is doubly true if it is the middle of the day on a weekday—I know why I’m home but shouldn’t YOU be working NOT Facebooking??

If you are a homeschooler- you know ONLY too well. If you aren’t a homeschooler but somehow come face-to-face with one in a (gasp) social setting, please realize that it is an educational choice almost akin to that of going to a private school. It does not make us freaks, or shut ins, or cult-living people.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Planning for Spring Additions

I had chickens when I was younger. Though I admit having them during a winter on Long Island as compared to winter in Syracuse is very different.

I've been researching both coops and chicken breeds, hoping to find just the right friendly happy little egg-layers to join our family, even if only from Spring to Fall.

I found a coop which is both inexpensive (compared to others) and cute in addition to highly functional.
And with this type of coop, should I decide to keep them through winter, I can do so simply by adding a lighting fixture and water heater.

As for the breed of chicken I am inclined to get I really would like a strong egg layer, as I will only be raising 4 chickens. I'd like to bet on a solid dozen eggs per week. I also need a breed that will tolerate my kids curiosity without trying to peck them to death, as well as being winter hardy.

This has led me to the following breeds: Ameraucana , Deleware, and Brahma.
These three varieties are all characterized as tame and friendly, good to very good egg layers, and tolerate both winter and confinement well. Also the only one that can tend to be a setter/broody is Brahma. Below is a Brahma.

So this is where I am in the planning or preliminary planning stages of our feathered friends who will provide us with yummy breakfasts for the summer and beyond. AS I figure more out, I will update more :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snowed In

We received about 36 inches of snow in 36 hours leaving our out of town visitors stranded here for another day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

We rang in the New Year with wine, and pool, and dancing in the snow in our jammies, and of course-- passing out on the couch.

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