Friday, July 25, 2014

An interview with Z Step

Today is Z Step's half birthday.  In honor of that, I decided to snap a few photos and give him a mini interview.  I had seen the idea on pinterest numerous times, but always felt like he was a bit too young for them.  Today I learned that he is absolutely old enough now.  I hope to continue these every 6 months.  We had a ton of fun with these questions.  He was laughing and telling me funny things about each question.  I can't wait to see how they change in the years to come.  

While doing this interview, I learned so much about my child.  I already knew that he loved grapes, and he has been telling me his favorite color is green for 2 months now.  I wonder how many times that will change before he turns 4?  

I am pretty sure that the only reason he said that Mommy was the coolest person on earth was because I was asking the questions.  Usually when I ask who he loves he answers with all of our names.  He doesn't choose favorites.  Though if I am asking him to do something he usually runs to Daddy, and visa versa.  

I was fascinated that he said firetrucks are his favorite toy.  He has this huge firetruck that he chases the dog around the house with.  It was packed with our things in May, and he hasn't seen it since.  We haven't talked about it either.  I can't believe he still remembers.  I hope I didn't get rid of it during the move.  I really hate when he chases the dog around the house with that thing.  He usually runs my feet over in the process.  

When he answered that he made messes as a baby I couldn't stop laughing.  For one, he was never much of a messy boy.  He must see his brother making messes and think he did that too.  Now, when his brother makes a mess (dumping all the legos out) Z Step gets mad and yells at him.  It is quite funny.  He usually cleans up after him, and then when he does it again he cries.  

Z Step is obsessed with his space book right now.  It is an advanced book for his age, but he loves learning about the planets.  His favorite is Saturn because it has rings that are icy.  He also loves learning about Neptune, which is the windiest planet.  He opens the book and points to all the planets and tells me about them.  I will teach him more about space in the future.  

When I asked what he wanted to be when he got bigger, I thought he would give me an occupation.  I was happy to hear he said bigger, because how cute is that?  I am sure he will be bigger when he grows up.  

We have been singing Herman the Worm for a week now.  He loves it.  His brother laughs the entire time, and they both lose it when I tell them that the worm burped.  It was one of my favorite songs at camp.  We have been talking about camping a lot lately.  We look forward to camping at Joshua Tree in the fall when he cools down.  

Both boys have always loved trains.  E Step is constantly saying "choo choo" even when he sees trucks.  I really hope to get them on a train soon.  Even if it is just 10 minutes.  

Finally, Z Step's favorite quote always cracks me up.  When you ask him how his day was?  "So Good!" How's your dinner Z Step?  "So Good!"  He really drags out the "So" part, which always cracks me up.  

I loved doing this, and snapping these photos.  I can't wait to do this again.  I think some of the questions will change as he gets older.  Now I just have to remember to do this!  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Santa Monica

This weekend, we decided to leave "the hill" and travel west.  This place gets a bit boring after too much sitting around.  We needed a mini getaway.  

We decided on heading into Santa Monica.  It is 2 1/2 hours from Twentynine Palms, and was a great place to sight see.  

Santa Monica is not actually a place I ever really had a huge desire to see.  However, since we are semi close, it was a must see on our bucket list out here.  It is a famous place, and I have seen snapshots on television quite often.  

The drive out to Santa Monica was a bit of a culture shock.  California drivers are awful.  They are probably the worst drivers I have ever seen.  And that is staying something, considering I have lived near New York, D.C., and in Japan.  They are self centered, and in a constant rush.  There was one point where we had to merge from 5 lanes to 3 because of an accident.  Nobody wanted to let anyone in.  We are definitely in California.  

Eventually we made it, and were refreshed with the cool air.  It has been over 100 degrees every day since we have arrived in Twentynine Palms, so the 80 degrees felt wonderful.  

The beach was beautiful, but we never ventured into it.  It is far too cold.  There were lots of crazy children playing in the waves, and both boys loved watching.  Z Step made it a point to say "they playing in the Pacific Ocean!"  We had told him that this was a different ocean from before.  He really remembered everything we said.  

We walked around the pier for awhile, just sightseeing.  There were "street" performers, artists, and lots of odds and ends.  I was amazed at how rude and stupid most of the people were.  Even the street performers were rude.  We overheard a teenage girl asking what 197+5 was.  She honestly was stumped.  I suppose we have really been spoiled with our education.  I am sad for the future generations.  

One of the rude performers.  He was yelling at the crowd, and singling people out.  

Z Step showing me the Pacific Ocean
We made our way to the rides, and got on the landmark ferris wheel.  It was a nice ride, where we got to see the view from up high.  The boys had a great time looking at the beach.  
My favorite photo of Z Step

Look at that hair!  

Z Step and Mama Step

E Step playing with Daddy.  He was actually really cranky
We had lunch after this at Bubba Gump Shrimp. We had been to the one in NYC before, but it was nice going to a different one.  It was pretty much the same.  We even had a friendly waitress.  The nicest I have seen so far.  She even reminded us of the military discount they offer, after I told her about our cross country move.  

We walked around a bit more, Z Step and I went on the scrambler ride, (which he loved) and we picked up a christmas ornament for our tree.  We could probably decorate an entire tree with all the ornaments we picked up along the way in our marriage so far.  We are so lucky to get to travel like this!  

Santa Monica was also the end of Route 66, which we traveled along for most of our trip out west.  Though most of the road is closed today, we were still able to say we traveled along part of it.  We really are on the west coast now, aren't we?  I look forward to more traveling in Twentynine Palms!  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Desert Super Moon photography

Something I was looking most forward to in the desert was seeing the stars.  As a kid, I went camping quite a few times, and spent my summers up in Moodus, Connecticut for summer camp where we would sleep without tents under the stars.  My dad used to take my brother in the back yard in the summer to look at the moon with his telescope, and every August my brother and I would sit by our pool and look for shooting stars to wish for a great school year.  I always loved looking at the stars, though I knew we were only catching a glimpse of how beautiful the could be.  We lived in the suburbs, and I knew there was so much more to see out in the western sky.

I haven't been able to see too many stars yet because we are on base, but this evening I was able to see a super moon.  A super moon is when the moon is closer to earth than normal.  This was the first super moon of the year, and I was anxious to see it on the west coast.

It was absolutely beautiful.  Closer than ever, and so big!  You could see the craters clearly.  I had to take my camera out.  I quickly snapped a few photos, but looking at my camera I knew they weren't doing it justice.  I couldn't figure out what to do to capture the perfect moon shot.  I tried slowing my shutter down and propping my camera up.  That created blown out highlights.  I headed in to try to find something out.

Eventually I found an article that talked about shooting with a low ISO speed, which I was not doing. I was shooting at 1600 ISO, and the article suggested shooting with 100!  I never would have thought that!  It also suggested shooting f/11 when shooting the moon.  And the last piece of advice it gave was to shoot at infinity for your focus.  The camera gets too confused when trying to focus on auto focus.  These settings seemed to work, but I am still struggling a bit.  My camera is getting pretty out-dated and I think I am due for an upgrade soon.  I have learned too much recently, and a rebel simply was not enough anymore.  I hope to upgrade within the year.

I learned a lot about my camera this evening, and look forward to catching the next desert moon.  I heard it will be the biggest super moon of the year on August 10th.  I can't wait!