Another Round of Summer Soccer

Heather is doing soccer again this year on Saturday mornings.  This week was her first week and it was hot.  Soccer starts at 10:50am and it was already over 90 degrees and climbing.  But she stayed hydrated and I used the time to work on my action photography skills.

It's interesting how a small change in camera settings can result in a dramatic change in image presentation.

I started with the shutter set to 1/100th of a second, which captured images like this:

The scene is representative, and fairly sharp.  You can see some motion in her hands and feet, but overall it is a static image.

Stretching the shutter to 1/25th of a second gives you a totally different result:

She's clearly moving, the background distractions are reduced via the motion blur and she becomes the uncontested focus of attention.  It's a much more interesting, dynamic image.

You can try using a wider aperture to reduce your depth of field to achieve similar separation between subject and background (which I've tried in the past), but that's tough in full sunlight.  You'll need filters to stop down the light and then capturing the subject in focus becomes difficult as your depth of field shrinks.

The trick here is to pan the camera with the subject throughout the shutter release.  It takes practice, but the results are worth it--which is why I've been practicing it.

Here's a couple more shots that came out decently.  In the first one, Heather is jumping over the pile of balls.  And in the second she is dribbling across the field.

Heather's Dance Recital 2017

Heather had an absolute blast in this year's dance recital (as evidenced by the huge smile on her face through the entire dance).  Other than the rather stunning lack of theater etiquette displayed by a seemingly large chunk of the audience this year, it went great (seriously, who fully stands up from the front row during the middle of a performance to amble their way to the aisle and out of the theater!  Which meant my view was blocked completely during much of Heather's big solo!  Grrr!).

The theater provided some pictures (both audience and from the stage) as well as video.  My pictures turned out much better this year than in the past.  Not sure what was different, but they're definitely better.  Not amazing, but better.  The studio's pictures were all slightly over-exposed, so I'm glad I took a bunch of my own.

Not much more to say, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Video at the bottom!

Or download here: Heather Dance Recital - New York, NY - June 11, 2017 (40.4 MB)

Heard from the Girls

Heather, while camping: "Let's have a conversation.  What's your favorite food, drink, and, ummmmm, dinosaur? No wait, just dinosaur."

Heather, while showering after camping:
"Ummm, Mom?  Dad?  Anybody out there except Corinne?!"
[Corinne's interest is piqued and heads for the bathroom.]
"I need a washcloth!"
[Corinne wanders in, grabs a washcloth off the sink and tosses it into the tub.]
"Thanks Corinne."
[Corinne wanders back to the TV Show she was watching.]

Corinne is confident in her identity if not her language skills:
"What's your name?" -- "I Kin!" [She's missing 'r's]
"Are you a monkey?" -- "No! I Kin!"
"Are you tired?" -- "No! I Kin!"
"Are you my little girl?" -- [Throws hands up in the air] "No! I big gul"
"You're not a little baby?" -- "No! I big!"
"You're my big girl?" -- "Uh huh"

These two are goofballs.

Heather on Wheels

We gave Heather a pedal bike on her birthday last year, but she still needed to improve her balance before she'd be able to pedal.  So I took the pedals off so she could focus on balancing (she had outgrown her balance bike).  Last weekend she was ready to level up and add the pedals back.  She really improved her balancing ability and lifting her feet to the pedals went off without a hitch.  She is greatly pleased with this new skill and enjoys riding laps around the neighborhood at every opportunity now.

Download video here: VID_20170513_140642507 (28 MB)

Christmas Break

Okay, the first thing to know about our break is that we've been sick almost the entire time. Heather threw up on Christmas Eve, and Corinne started a fever on Christmas afternoon. But Heather was mostly fine after throwing up, and Corinne's fever cleared up after a day. After that, it was basically just a cold for each of them: congestion, coughing, runny noses...you know, the usual. Nothing too dramatic. And there were plenty of up times in between the periods of misery.

(Also, a lot of these pictures are not great. They're mostly candid shots of the girls in their natural states of frenzy, which lends itself to blurriness. But I wanted to get them blogged anyway.)

We've had some fun playing with different arrangements of the fort (I learned that blocking the TV is not ideal, but they found a way around it regardless):

Heather gave Kyle Wii Sports Resort for Christmas. I think he's played it for a couple of minutes so far, but she's dedicated quite a bit of time to it:

By the 28th, this kid was not looking great. She was snotty and eye-goopy and coughing and all-around yucky. Her mood was a bit improved, though.

We had made a date to go to the zoo with the Spencers on the 29th, and we figured the girls were doing pretty good, health-wise. Heather seemed to be mostly recovered from her cold, and while Corinne was still a bit yicky, she was going to be in the stroller most of the time anyway. And we knew everybody needed to get out of the house, so off we went!

Liam, Heather, and Emma

The goats are always a hit.

The zoo was Thursday. Kyle spent Friday-Sunday at death's door. I was also sick, but not as bad. (My biggest issue was the migraines flared by the congestion.) Aaaand the girls got worse again. New Year's Eve was Heather's turn to spike a fever, so we didn't do any special festivities that night.

Corinne is currently obsessed with moving her food to other containers. Also, practicing her spoon technique.

Heather comes by her bookworm tendencies honestly, at least. I love it!
Trains, yo! And tangrams!

January 2nd, we got the girls in to see the doctor. Corinne's fever was gone by then, but this virus was just dragging on forever. Both girls were still super snotty and coughing and lethargic, though Heather was showing real signs of recovery. Corinne was diagnosed with the first ear infection either of the girls have had. Very special! So she started antibiotics and started improving very quickly.

I don't know if it's clear what Corinne is doing here, but it's one of her current passions: feeding the critters.

Corinne loves pillow corners MORE THAN LIFE.

Wednesday morning, Heather was bopping around, happy as a lark. That night, she crashed pretty hard. Thursday afternoon, she had a fever. Thursday night, she had a coughing fit so long and hard she was vomiting and I had to call the nurse line for suggestions to make it stop so she could eat (pro tip: there are basically none).

So this was us back at the doctor's office again on Friday, where Heather was diagnosed with an ear infection. Same ear as Corinne, even! The doc pointed out that that's one thing they really didn't need to share.

Both girls are doing much better now. For reals, I think. [fingers crossed!] Heather still wakes up very congested, and she didn't go to church this morning. (Actually, none of us went to church on Christmas or New Year's Day. And Kyle missed 2 full days and 2 half days of work this last week. This illness has been a beast!)

I'm hopeful that Heather will be able to go to school tomorrow, but I'm not 100% certain it'll be a great experience if she does. I'm envisioning her coughing for the first 2 hours and crying/screaming for the rest because she's worn out. But she'll be devastated if she has to stay home. So I guess we'll see how she is in the morning!

Coloring this afternoon.