Sunday, 27 June 2010

Becoming a photobug

My interest in photography has really taken off in the last couple of weeks. It was all inspired by a fellow Disney mother of three whom I 'met' online on a travel forum. She had also bought a DSLR camera with the intentions of taking better photos at Disney and taking better photos of her children.

To cut a long story short, I had the privilege of seeing her photos on facebook and I was blown away! What great shots from someone who had only been learning for 6 months. So off I went intent on improving my skills. I enrolled myself into an 8 week course at the local community college. That starts on the 27th July and I'm super excited! But it isn't soon enough. So I borrowed a Tom Ang book from my brother, not too impressed. I decided to bite the bullet and purchased Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure as well as Scott Kelby's book. Besides, I had to take advantage of Border's attempts to price match Amazon...In the meantime, I joined a group to take "A photo a day" on a local forum. The aim being to encourage myself to pick up my camera and use it every day. That is to start on July 1 and hopefully I will last the whole year.

What I've really enjoyed though is the Photography scavenger hunt on the DISboards. The concept is simple. There is a long list of items you have to take photos of. All photos are to be taken in the months of June, July and August. Each photo is scored. The person with the highest scores wins! Surprisingly, mostly from others' photos both good and bad, and with little instruction, I've learnt a lot about composition. It has really encouraged me to take photos of things I wouldn't normally have thought of as "good shots". It has also shown me how little I know! I want to do all these things but I don't know how to do it! The kids thinks its fun and points things out that I need to take photos of. Everyone else thinks I am mad. I find myself doing stupid things like chasing the little train at Darling Harbour so I can take a photo of it from the well as asking the train driver to pose (gave me extra points!). Next was lying down on the ground on my tummy to take a better photo of the boardwalk. I was stalking tourists to see if any would get lost and look at a map. I nearly crashed my car a few times when I saw native wildlife that I needed to take a photo of.

I've even started talking my children to the park voluntarily by myself to practice taking photos of them! We decided to print 3 of them on canvas for my mother's 60th birthday present and thankfully she loved it. Thought I'd share some of my recent efforts.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Photoblog Jonah's Haircut

What are we doing?

Do I really have to do this?

I'm done.

You want me to sit down again?!?!?

How much longer?!?!?

Yeah, finally done!

Time to sweep away the hair.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Saturday survival

Today is the first day of the long weekend with Malcolm being on-call. Preparations included shuffling Lara off to my parents so that I could take Elliot to soccer. For the first time, the team didn't win. It was a draw and a far cry from the 20 nil victories that the boys were used to. The boys took it well. Jonah thankfully was happy to watch for most of the game.

We hurried to Macquarie shopping centre for a fabulously healthy lunch of McDonald's. They've been good to me in the past in my hours of stress and I thought I should show some loyalty. I was lucky enough to get a parking spot straight away. Lunch also went by uneventfully. After a quick visit to the bookshop, we headed towards the hospital for a long overdue visit of grandpa. We were again bestowed with parking good luck and got a spot right outside.

We took some home-made banana and date muffins along with some lime curd. He looked much better and was a lot less short of breath. An angiogram has been arranged for Tuesday and hopefully that will yield positive news as well. Jonah again decided that he was happy to sit still...for over an hour! Was this really my son?!?!? Okay, so it helped that he had an endless supply of food.

By late afternoon, Malcolm still hadn't finished (he was working at the same hospital) so we decided to call it quits and head home. I tried to make new reservations for the Novotel at New York. The rate at surprisingly dropped to US$280 last night. I managed to make a reservation for our family this morning but by the time I finished making our reservation the price had gone up to $355 per night! As we had to go to soccer I left the rooms for the other 2 families for later. I could have kicked myself. When I tried again at 5pm, the cheapest available room rate was...$425 per night! And you had to pay upfront. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Moral of the story when a price seems too good to be true, book it straight away! I tried to soothe my annoyance with some Disney but I couldn't find my all Disney CDs! An incomplete collection?!?!? Arghhhh!!! I could take it no I bought myself the complete 5 CD set on ebay for $24. Money well spent I think. I am feeling a lot more relaxed already...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Terrific Thursday

Thursdays are usually my "community service" days, the day when I make the time to visit, call or help friends, buy presents, cook for others etc. Essentially its the day that I use to do things for anyone that is not part of our immediate family. Today I decided to allocate the day to shop for myself. And karma bit me in the bum. I organised myself to be at the shops right on opening time only to have to evacuate for a fire drill. What!?!??! Who has ever heard of fire drills for shopping centres? My perfectly planned timing for various shops was severely derailed. Luckily my visit to Borders was short-lived due to the unavailability of their e-readers (a present for the in-laws). I managed to get 2 pairs of shoes for Lara for $15 and some new PJs for Lara and Elliot, followed by snow boots for Jonah before doing my grocery shopping. Okay, so some community service was done. I was rewarded for this with a phone call from Malcolm telling me that he had finished for the day. Woohoo!

All plans to visit my father-in-law went out the window. Malcolm insisted that he had already visited him this morning and that it was enough. Yes, father-in-law has decided that it was his turn for a stint at Club Concord. He was admitted over the weekend for chest pain and shortness of breath. They are still trying to figure out what the cause is. So far he has been by cardiology, respiratory, immunology and haematology. Add this to neurology, neurosurgery, colorectal surgery, ophthalmology, dermatology, urology, vascular surgery, chronic pain management, geriatrics, orthopaedics, ortho-geriatrics and rehab (from other family members admissions and outpatient visits) and you can understand why Malcolm is Concord Hospitals' favourite son. The phrase "I'm an Albany" seem to be a magic password for all things nice at Concord Hospital.

"You can't use a mobile phone here"
"But I'm Malcolm Albany's dad. I'm waiting for him to call me"
"OH, in that case, that's alright"

So instead of the hospital, we diverted for a lunch of Korean at Eastwood. Following on from yesterday's lime curd production, I even had time after lunch to bake apple and cinnamon cookies. I was feeling very proud of myself.

Thursdays are also piano lesson days. Today the children played very well seemingly remembering a lot from the "last chance practice" session in the morning. Their teacher was happy and I was relieved. Until, Lara proclaimed, "Mummy, I have chicken pox." To my horror, I saw little vesicles on her hands. Hand foot and mouth disease. It had been going around at church and I knew it was only a matter of time before one of our three got it. Oh well, no school tomorrow for Lara. Lucky me. Luckily she had no other viral symptoms and appear to be well. She told me very firmly that she had to stay in bed all day because that's what one does when you stay at home from school. So maybe my day won't be so bad after all tomorrow...

Last but not least...before we left the house for trivia, we just happened to look at the Periodic table and noted with interest that Einsteinium was element 99 and Curium was 96 and all these other scientists had elements named after them. Guess what question came up? What is the atomic number of Curium? WOOHOO!!!! Tonight we achieved a hat trick. Victories for three weeks in a row. How awesome was that? Go the fruitloops!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Practising for the Osbourne Lights...without a tripod!

Another busy week has gone by. We celebrated 2 mother's birthdays over the weekend. First up was Malcolm's mum on Saturday. A lovely Gordon Ramsay Shepherds pie followed by a lemon and cream cheese pound cake (mmm...) went down really well. This was followed on Sunday by my mother's 60th birthday which was celebrated at Bali Stick. Ah...real sambal and real satay!

Before that, I tried to sneak a quick look at Vivid, a special light show on historic buildings along Macquarie. We took the opportunity to show Shannon the beautiful views from Lavender Bay. Alas, I discovered that I had forgotten to bring my tripod. Annoyingly, the light display on the Opera House took a long time to change over. We didn't have time to fly by St Mary's Cathedral, the other building that I really wanted to photograph.

Well, the results were surprisingly OK! My hands, it seemed, were steady enough. This bodes well for our trip to WDW. And re-motivated me to look for courses that I can do to improve my skills. On a different note, I bought myself a brand new pair of leather boots today in preparation for New York! Nice, soft and comfortable Diana Ferrari super-softs with rubber soles. Things are shaping up, accommodation for Washington D.C. have been booked at a bargain price of $109 per night and it looks like flights from Washington to Orlando will also be finalised shortly.

I still can't work out why I can't move my photos around. Argghhh!!!!