Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tilden Park

Last Friday, the kids and I went with Heather and JD to Tilden Park in Berkley.  If you've never been, it's a great place to take your little ones.  This was our second time, and the kids loved it just as much as they did the first.  We rode the steam train, twice, played on the playground, fed the farm animals celery and lettuce, and rode the merry-go-round, also twice.  The kids had a blast, and it was wonderful being out of the heat.  On the drive up, there's an area to your left, where you can enjoy a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay.  Wish I'd captured it, but there's always next time.  Here's what I did capture!
That last shot of Ryan has to be one of my favorites of him to date. It tells such a happy story. Love it. It was a really great day. I am so glad Heather lives less than an hour from us.  We've enjoyed so many fun times in the two years we've lived in Ripon. Thanks again, cousin, for a fun last summer outing! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Zoe London

Last Friday, the 27th, I spent a fair amount of the afternoon and evening at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, where my friend, Janea, gave birth to sweet little Zoe London.  She had asked me weeks prior if I would photograph the birth, and naturally, honored and delighted, I said yes.  For as long as I can remember I've wanted to witness a birth, not to watch the bloody gore of it (I saw that in 10th grade Health class, not to mention experienced it firsthand with the birth of my own two), but to just be in the room when it happens; to witness reactions, facial expressions, the bonding between mother and babe, and simply take part in the wonderful and spiritual experience.  I have also, especially for the past six months, grown to love the idea of birth photography.  I am actually to the point, now, where I'd consider doing it solely if enough opportunities presented themselves.  The idea of capturing raw footage of such a glorious occasion, being surrounded by happy people anticipating the long-awaited arrival of a sweet, perfect, new baby, and being able to provide these people with treasured photos they'll hold dear to their hearts forever sounds rewarding beyond measure.  No huge concerns about exposure, perfectly posed shots or coordinated outfits, but rather the real and now of those precious and tender moments, which SO INSTANTLY vanish.  It seems there's a new movement with birth photography, and I really would love to hop on the bandwagon.
Well, while Janea wanted to attempt a VBAC, in the end, she had a c-section (for reasons irrelevant to this post).  The hospital had extremely strict rules, including only allowing 3 visitors in the room at a time, which explains why I spent several hours sitting in the waiting area surrounded by some of Modesto's most interesting residents.  At one point I was able to go back while Jared and Janea waited on the final word from the doctor.  I snapped some pictures, then headed back to the waiting area.  Shortly after that I came home for a couple hours.  Then, just before Janea was wheeled in for her c-section, I headed back.  I was NOT welcome by hospital staff to attend and capture this part of it, which we were all bummed about, but rules are rules.
And after little miss entered the world and Janea was taken to recovery, back I went to snap more pictures, this time of big brother, Taylor, meeting his new baby sister for the first time.  It was just so neat.  All of it. And, on a side note, I can now say I have watched Olympic Opening Ceremonies from a hospital waiting room!

Thanks, Jared and Janea for allowing me to be a part of this very special day for your family.  And welcome to the world, sweet Olympic baby girl, Zoe London!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Teeth and cucumbers

Chloe has been eyeing our two largest cucumbers for a week now, begging me to let her pick them.  Each day, though they've grown significantly both in length and width, I've felt that they could use more ripening.  Well, yesterday when we took a peek and noticed their monstrous size, I decided it was time.  The kids were delighted and each picked one, then proudly displayed them for a picture!

I didn't measure them, but I'm sure they exceeded 15 inches in length.  Despite the healthy size, however, I still worried that they weren't dark enough in color.  But I worried even more that if they got any larger, they'd start to split or rot.  Well, I got it wrong all the way around, unfortunately, because they were terribly bitter to the taste, at least a good 4 inches on either end.  I don't know if you've ever eaten a bitter cucumber, but trust me, it's very BAD!  I was sad, but thankful that the middle sections of each were fine.  Upon further research, it appears I let the cucumbers sit on the vine too long, hence the bitter taste.  Lesson learned!  This morning during our morning inspection, we picked 3 more cucumbers that were about half the size.  I just ate one and it was wonderful!

Here's another bit of exciting news from yesterday!  Chloe lost her second tooth!  This morning I snuck in her room while she slept to make sure the tooth fairy had paid her a visit.  Thankfully, she had.

And here's this morning's harvest! 

Every day I've had this garden I've learned something new. Yesterday's lesson? Don't let the cucumbers sit on the vine too long. Today's lesson? Our watermelons will likely need to be twice the size of the 13 inch baby above before they're ready. I didn't know how large they were supposed to be before harvesting because the little label/tag I stuck in the ground when I planted what was then 2 tiny stems has disappeared in the madness of my watermelon jungle. I don't even know what type of watermelons these are, again, because I can't find the tag, but since we literally have two dozen more (no exaggeration), I figured it wouldn't hurt to experiment with this one. I think after my experience yesterday with the cucumbers, I worried, too, that if I let the watermelons sit too long, they might have adverse events like the cucumbers did.  I lifted this watermelon off the ground, smelled it, knocked on it, and inspected it just as I inspect watermelons at the grocery store.   It appeared to possibly be ready, so I just figured why not and snapped it off the vine.  Well, upon cutting into it, I instantly knew my assumptions were premature, and that I should have let it bake for at least a week longer, and possibly more. It was completely white inside and flavorless. Oh well.  It still looks pretty sitting on the table with the rest of my garden goodies.  I read a few days ago that you shouldn't plant cucumber and watermelon next to each other because cucumber can give watermelon a funny taste. I surely hope this is incorrect, or that I'm just lucky because that's exactly what I did. Their vines have even intertwined. Again, I am learning something new every day.

The largest of the zucchinis exceed even the 11 inch one we discovered upon coming home from our Yosemite trip a couple weeks ago.  That's right.  This bad boy measured over 13 inches!  I would NOT have let it grow this large had I noticed it before today, but it just blended in so well with the rest of the plant that somehow I missed it until this morning.  It's a touch seedy on the inside, but not bad at all, thankfully.  I have more zucchini than I know what to do with, but have actually managed it pretty well.  I have several cups of shredded zucchini in my freezer ready for bread, spaghetti sauce or anything else.  And I'm trying to cook with it whenever I can.  It is so good for you, and I'm trying not to let ANY of it go to waste!

And the Andersen garden adventures, and, well, adventures in general, continue...