Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year!

Did you know (before today) that this year was a Leap Year? I'd heard rumors, but let's be honest, I pay considerably more attention to the weather, the class schedule at the gym, and the preschool "upcoming events" emails than I do the actual date on the calendar.

Leap Day, or Leap Year Day, is an extra day added to the calendar every four years in order to synchronize our calendar and seasonal years. Without Leap Day, in 136 years we'd be ice skating in July and sunbathing in January. Well, WE wouldn't be ice skating or sunbathing, but our great, great, great grandchildren could be ice skating and sunbathing. (And don't repeat that "136 years" statistic...I just made that up. 136 years seemed like the amount of time it would take for the seasons to swap ends of the calendar.)

While performing my Leap Year "research" I came across a few interesting folk traditions associated with Leap Day/Year (thank you, Wikipedia):

- In the British Isles, women could only propose marriage during a leap year. If the man refused the proposal, he was required to compensate the woman with a payment ranging from a kiss to a silk gown. I hardly think a silk gown would improve my mood after being rejected by the love of my life.

- In Denmark, women could propose marriage on the bissextile leap day - February 24th - and refusal of the proposal required the man to give the woman 12 pairs of gloves. Well, that seems fair. 12 pairs of gloves is better than one gown, right?

- In Greece, marriage during a leap year is considered unlucky and even today, one in five couples will wait until the following year to tie the knot in order to avoid the leap year. I just realized that Tom and I were married during a leap year...

But the real reason that I wanted to write a Leap Day post is to wish my Grandma - a Leap Day baby - a happy birthday. Today she turns 20. :)

Happy birthday, Grandma!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Times Are Changing

Updated, 3.2.12, 8:45 a.m.
According to, the TAMU Student Election Commission miscalculated the voting results and Ms. Ketcham will not be in a run-off.

Updated, 2.29.12, 2:53 p.m.
According to the The Eagle, the Bryan/College Station daily newspaper, Samantha Ketcham did well enough in Tuesday's Yell Leader elections to move on to a run-off election to be held on Thursday and Friday. (The newspaper also points out that only one of the five senior candidates - the other female running for the position - did not make the run-off election.) The other three candidates headed to the run-off election all received more than twice as many votes as Ms. Ketcham. The opposition to Ms. Ketcham as a Yell Leader was highlighted in The Eagle's article by a quote from a freshman student at TAMU. Said this student, "It's not that we're against women. You don't want women on our men's basketball teams, and you don't want men on our women's basketball teams. Being a Yell Leader is for men." Kind of makes me wish I had a vote to cast for Ketcham...

Yesterday the Texas A&M University 2012 Yell Leader Elections made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Why, you might ask? Because there are two women - one of whom has and continues to run an unprecedentedly visible campaign - vying for one of the five traditionally-male Yell Leader positions.

I have to believe that Samantha Ketcham, the female candidate and subject of the Wall Street Journal article, is backed by a fair number of supporters. She wouldn't have thrown her hat into this very controversial ring if she wasn't sure she wouldn't end up all alone with egg on her face on election day. And if what I came across online is any indication, many of those in favor of electing a female Yell Leader believe that the time to do so is now because TAMU is already in a state of transition, what with the impending move from the Big 12 to the SEC and the elimination of the annual A&M vs. Texas football showdown.

But my online research also highlighted for me the numerous and equally visible campaigns AGAINST Ms. Ketcham's (and the other female student running in the Yell Leader elections) candidacy, and these campaigns aren't necessarily in support of another candidate...they're just in opposition to her. It seems there are plenty of students, alumni, and community members who believe the long-standing tradition of an all-male Yell Leader squad should live on.

For me, the verdict's still out. I believe in equal opportunity, and if in 18 years Hallie wanted to run for Yell Leader I'd stand behind her 100%. But I'm also a lover of tradition, and I greatly admire TAMU for the work their Traditions Council does to preserve the traditions of this great university.

What do you think?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Library Hates Me

If you work for the Larry J. Ringer Public Library, please stop reading now. No really, just skip this one and reread an older post instead.

You may recall a recent post about a less-than-stellar trip to our public which left the librarians just nanoseconds away from asking our family never to return to their quiet, peaceful, book-housing sanctuary. This post has less to do with the library building or a library experience and more to do with library property, which is why I asked all those library employees who follow my blog to stop reading earlier.

Some of you may have seen this picture (I posted it on Facebook) a couple of weeks ago.

Not because she was mad or sad or bored, but simply because SHE COULD (someone save me), Hallie ripped this library book to shreds while she was supposed to be sleeping in her bed. I learned of the destruction around 11pm at night, when I checked on Hallie before I went to bed, but Tom learned of it when he went in to get her up the next morning. I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office when I received this text from Tom:

Ugh. Sometime in the night/morning Hallie tore every page out of the library book on her bed. We'll have to pay for it. I scolded Hallie and told her she will have to show/tell the people at the library what she did and that she might not get to borrow their books anymore. You might want to add your own punishment later. Sorry...

When I talked to Tom later that morning, he shared with me that Hallie clearly didn't understand why she was being scolded, and that she just kept batting her eyes and saying, "I'm SO sorry, Daddy. Can I get dressed now? I get to go to school today!" Because he was frustrated that Hallie wasn't grasping the gravity of the situation, Tom told her she would have to pay for the book she dresses. That's right, folks, Tom told Hallie she would pay for her sins in dresses, the only currency she understands. Will later told me he thought five dresses would fit the severity of the crime.

So if you see me delivering dresses to the library later this week, you'll know why.

Back to the book... At first I thought Hallie'd just ripped a few of the pages, but when I began my repairs, I found she'd actually ripped every single page, and some pages more than once.

But thanks to Hallie, I'm an experienced book-repairer. 90 minutes and two full rolls of scotch tape later, I proudly showed the fully repaired Little House in the Big Woods no one. No one cared except me.

I also discovered while repairing the book that another young child had torn a couple of pages a few months back and the book had been taped - and the repair documented - as a result. There's a chance that if I just returned the book the library wouldn't recognize Hallie's damage as new, and would attribute it to the previous borrower's dangerous hands...

When I was about seven I went with my mom to a bakery to buy donuts. While she was at the counter, I stood behind her, admiring the tiered wedding cakes on display. The frosting on these cakes looked so beautiful and so delicious, and I just couldn't help myself...I scooped a tiny rosebud off one of the cakes and ate it. As we were leaving the bakery my mom noticed frosting on my lips and asked me where it came from. I've always been a terrible liar, and one "don't you lie to me" look from my mom was enough to break me and force my sobbing confession. She marched me right back into the bakery and made me apologize to the employee at the counter (probably an 18-year-old college student who couldn't have cared less that I ate a flower off a cake). The lesson stuck, and I have never forgotten how completely mortified and embarrassed I was in that moment.

But Hallie is two, not seven. She's not going to remember being made to apologize to the librarians for ripping their book to shreds. That doesn't mean I won't make her apologize, but it does mean I'll have to hand over a dress once the apology is finished. She'll remember that.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photography Challenge - Week 3

This third week of the Photography Challenge required me to actually perform research, something I wasn't counting on when I signed up for this gig.  I Googled "Bokeh", read and reread my camera manual to better understand the settings that would allow me to take Long Exposure photos, and looked through hundreds of examples of Faceless Self Portraits.  But despite spending quite a few hours on research, I'm not all that happy with the results.

My biggest roadblock is time.  I have only a brief window of time each day to take that day's picture.  Now I know what you're thinking..."Erin, it takes like .7 seconds to snap a photo.  Surely you can find the time in between painting your toenails and baking cupcakes to take a couple of pictures."  That's what I thought too.  But it turns out that certain kinds of photos require a great deal of preparation.  The Long Exposure photo, not including the amount of time I spent reading my camera manual, took close to 30 minutes to capture because I had to figure out how to stabilize my camera without a tripod (our tripod is in Tom's lab for an experiment), vary the camera settings, and try different colors of light sabers to determine which one looked best.  Thankfully the picture involved Will sword fighting, something he loves to do; if I'd asked Will to do anything else I'd have lost him five or so minutes in.

Time is also a challenge for me in terms of lighting.  Certain kinds of pictures require specific outdoor lighting, and sometimes that specific outdoor lighting doesn't match up with when I have time to take photos.  The Silhouette photo isn't a true silhouette (the subject isn't completely dark) in part because I couldn't work on the project at the right time of day. 

Sorry for all that complaining...moving on!  

Day 15: Silhouette

Day 16: Long Exposure

Day 17: Technology

Day 18: Shoes

Day 19: Something Orange

Day 20: Bokeh

Day 21: Faceless Self-Portrait

A couple of notes, beyond what I mentioned above:
- Red light sabers don't work nearly as well as blue and green light sabers for Long Exposure photos.
- In case you can't tell, my Technology photo is me taking a picture of me taking a picture.  Will thought this was funnier than when Hallie yelled "bagina" out the window while I was ordering Happy Meals at the McDonald's drive thru window.
- I love my Shoes picture.  And I love Hallie's "magic" freckle on her tummy.
- I also love my Something Orange picture.  I love orange, I love berries, and I love taking pictures of things that don't cry, argue, or run away from me.
- My Bokeh picture is of something growing on a tree at the park near our house.  Sometimes the unfamiliarity of the flora and fauna here scares me a little.
- I don't like my Faceless Self-Portrait.  There were so many other ideas I had for this picture, and I couldn't manage to get any of them to work out.  Argh.

See you next week!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Red Cross Blog Post: The Busy Red Crosser's Year in Review

Despite having left the Washtenaw County American Red Cross more than a year ago, I remain on quite a few of their email lists. Last week I received an email containing the Fiscal Year 2011 Disaster Services Program Review, which while a few months old (fiscal year 2011 began in July 2010 and ended in June 2011), provided some really incredible information about what the organization as a whole accomplished during those 12 short months. If you've ever wondered about what the Red Cross actually DOES, on a day-to-day basis and on behalf of those whose lives have been touched by disaster, this is the post to read.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Take Me Out Tonight

Tom and I went on a date last Friday night. After dropping off the kids around 6pm (we just let them fend for themselves at a nearby park), we headed downtown to Northgate, a small district right next to TAMU that features a variety of restaurants, bars, and entertainment. We feel younger and hipper when our dates are in the Northgate district, as well as when they include two destinations, so we first enjoyed a drink at Dixie Chicken and then indulged in a second drink and dinner at Corner Bar.

We knew we were expected to pick up our kids by 9pm, so with that in mind we finished dinner and started back toward our car around 8:30pm. On the way to the car we walked past Potbelly's, and I decided that a chocolate malt was the called-for nightcap that evening.

After I ordered my malt, the Potbelly employee - a woman of college-student age - looked us up and down and said, "You guys look nice tonight - you heading out?"

Tom and I looked at each other and laughed, then turned back to the woman and explained, "We ARE out. No, we take that back. We WENT out."

She looked confused, for which we couldn't and didn't blame her, because really, who's wrapping up their evening at 8:30pm on a Friday? I provided what I thought was a solid reason for the early night, explaining, "We have to go pick up our kids."

She continued to look confused, at that point - I can only assume - because she was wondering why people with kids would spend the evening in Northgate in the first place. Because we're awesome, that's why. And while that's what I told her, I'm not sure she believed me.

And then we picked up our kids, who, in case you were about to call CPS on us, were NOT at the park.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Now You See It, Now You Don't

It doesn't rain a whole heck of a lot down here, and from what I can tell, when it finally DOES rain, it rains cats and dogs. And even though it doesn't usually rain for very long or for very many days in a row, the inability of the primarily-clay soil to absorb water means that low-lying areas flood very quickly.

I was shocked to discover, during my first Texas rain storm, that the park I regularly took the kids to was completely under water - FEET of water - just 45 minutes into the stretch of inclement weather.

The following day I drove by the same park and found it completely void of water. You would never have known it had even rained the day before.

Just another interesting observation about the weather and its impact down here...

Monday, February 20, 2012

15 Minutes of Fame

Tom and I met at the University of Iowa, on the first day of his freshman year, at choir practice. Despite the fact that I'd already been a member of the Newman Singers - a contemporary liturgical and concert choir based out of the Newman Catholic Student Center on campus - for a little over a year when Tom joined and I was two years ahead of him in school, we became fast friends as a result of this shared musical experience.

While the Newman Singers led worship and performed regularly at the Newman Center in Iowa City, the group also traveled the country doing the same during winter, spring, and summer breaks. Throughout my four years as a Newman Singer I estimate that we toured the Midwest 25 times; toured the country seven times, visiting 29 of the 50 states; recorded music for multiple CDs; and participated in two photo/publicity shoots.

One of these photo shoots resulted in this poster:

You may not immediately recognize me (upper right and lower left, wearing a 
black sleeveless dress) because there is something terribly wrong with both the 
color and style of my hair. I take responsibility for the blinding, brassy blond, 
but a professional hair dresser at the photo shoot is responsible for the hideous style.

As my friend Dave wrote on Facebook when this picture was posted a couple of weeks ago, "This reminds me of how tiresome it was being a rockstar. So many photo shoots, so many autographs, so much paparazzi. Wasn't this the cover of US Weekly?"

In all seriousness, we were never actually famous. We were, however, among the who's who in the Catholic Music Circle, and were treated very well wherever we traveled. We posed for photos with families, signed autographs for little kids, and played a couple of gigs in impressive locations, like The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.

Both Tom and I miss music/singing/performing quite a bit. Since our Newman Singer days, we - along with our musically-talented friends, siblings, and parents - have coordinated the music for weddings of friends and family, and we were both members of the music worship team at our church in Ann Arbor. (I also perform Disney, Raffi, and Glee numbers - complete with dancing when appropriate - for my children. When they'll tolerate me.)

But while weddings and church services and impromptu kitchen showcases are rewarding and special, they're not the same as actual performances on stages with audiences that have come solely to see you make music. I know I'll never become a professional singer (though when my sis-in-law does, I fully expect she'll let me sing back-up for her at least once), and I'm completely alright with that - as Dave said, it was so tiresome being a rockstar.

I also know, however, that I'll always remember and appreciate and hang on to - in the form of a 10-year-old poster - my 15 minutes of fame.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photography Challenge - Week 2

This second week of the Photography Challenge was tougher than the first.  I've learned that 1) I really have no idea what I'm doing with my camera, 2) I don't own the right equipment to successfully complete many of the challenges, 3) I'm not all that creative, and 4) my kids really don't like having their picture taken unless they can look at EVERY. SINGLE. PICTURE. as soon as it shows up on the screen.  I'm hoping I can turn things around next week!

Day 8: A bad habit

Day 9: Someone you love

Day 10: Childhood memory

Day 11: Something blue

Day 12: Sunset

Day 13: Yourself with 13 things

Day 14: Eyes

A few notes about this week's pictures.  
- My "Bad Habit" picture is of my over-plucked my eyebrows.  This is the one thing my mother still scolds me for doing.
- My "Childhood Memory" picture is of my Winnie-the-Pooh.  Neither of my kids believe that my stuffed bear is actually Winnie-the-Pooh though, because Pooh looked so different 33 years ago.
- My "Something Blue" picture is of a mid-flight Frisbee.  The blue sky behind the flying disc was just a coincidence.
- My "Sunset" picture (confession time) was taken a couple of months ago.  It has rained every evening for the last four days, making it impossible for me to take a new sunset picture.
- My "Yourself with 13 Things" picture is of me with 13 different shoes (can you find them all?).  If I had looked ahead to next week's photo assignments I would have seen that one of them is Shoes.  Oops.
- My "Eyes" pictures aren't all that great (it wasn't easy to get those little rugrats to sit still long enough for me to take pictures of their eyes), but I love them anyway.  When I look in Hallie's eyes I see whimsy and cunning; when I look in Will's eyes I see commitment and wisdom.  What do you see? 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Red Cross Blog Post: Crafting for the Cross

This projects covered in week's Red Cross blog post stemmed from the Fire Safety Flop the week prior, but blended together a little Pinterest, a little crafting, and a little School for Little People creativity.  We'd love to hear your ideas for more Red Cross art, sewing, knitting, and baking projects!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ice Skating in Texas

Most of the teachers at Will and Hallie's school spend January and February teaching their children about winter. The kids play dress-up in bulky coats, snow pants, boots, hats, scarves, and mittens (yes, winter wear is basically dress-up clothing here); color and paint pictures of snowmen; and learn about animals who live in cold climates (Hallie's teacher: "Hallie, where do polar bears live? Hallie: "IN A BARN!") and/or hibernate during the winter.

Will's class, along with the other four-year-old classes, received a special winter treat at the end of January...they got to go ice skating.

But not on ice, and not with skates.

The teachers set up a HUGE tarp, duct taped the edges of the tarp to the floor, and then covered the tarp with shaving cream. The kids rolled up their pant legs and skated in a circle - just like they would have done on an actual ice rink - but were allowed to periodically skate into the middle to do "tricks".

Midway into a wipeout.

"Skating" in a circle.

Doing the robot. (?)

Cleaning up.  (Those kids wiped that tarp until it was 
cleaner than it had every been.  I was impressed.)

The kids had an absolute blast, and Hallie and I had a pretty good time watching them as well.  I'm a little worried, however, that Will might think that what they did at school that afternoon was ACTUALLY ice skating...I may need to call on Grandpa Paul (my dad, who happens to be a pretty good ice skater and hockey player, and who taught both of his daughters to play hockey) to set our little boy straight the next time we head north.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Love Day!

I love how excited my kids are for Valentine's Day, and I love making the day special for them. We made heart-shaped crayons and homemade Valentine's for their friends, we baked and decorated heart-shaped cookies, I'll attend both of their school Valentine's Day parties (they both granted me permission to join in the fun), we'll eat red and/or heart-shaped food for all three meals, and per our tradition, the highlight of the day will be our Valentine's Day scavenger hunt to find small gifts for everyone in the family scattered throughout the house.

I also love that Valentine's Day is my parents' anniversary and my sister-in-law's birthday. Tom and I celebrate as much for them almost as we do for ourselves, seeing as neither of us care much for the unreasonable expectations and forced romance associated with February 14th. We avoid the Valentine's Day dinner-and-a-movie craziness at all costs, and usually spend the evening eating spaghetti (at least it's red, right?) and brownies. Mmmm...brownies.

In honor of this day of love, here are a few things I'm feeling the love for today...

These three hooligans.  (This may be my favorite picture ever taken of the three of them.  
Tom and Will are as happy as can be because they've got each other and the Wii, 
but Hallie is super pissed off because things aren't going exactly the way she'd like them 
to go.  Nearly three years later, not a single thing has changed.)

This little love bug, otherwise known as my niece Lily.

Our new home, and the life we've made for ourselves here.

Love on!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let Him Eat Cheese

Dairy Diagnosis
Peanut Diagnosis
Allergy Update #1
Allergy Update #2
Allergy Update #3
Allergy Update #4

We were back at the allergist last Friday morning, assessing our progress after six months of participating in the cooked milk muffin trial. And I can use the words “we” and “our” because while Will actually ate the muffins, the trial impacted the day-to-day lives of everyone in our family.

From baking the muffins every few days (me), to encouraging/bribing/pleading with Will to eat his muffin every day (Tom and me), to listening to Will’s first complaints and then cries about how awful the muffins tasted (Hallie, Tom, and me), this eating extravaganza was no picnic.

For the record, the muffins tasted like cupcakes, but the fact that Will HAD to eat one every day made them less-than-desirable to his taste buds.

Our allergist was incredibly impressed that we only missed two days – Will’s birthday and one day when he was sick with a stomach bug – throughout the entire six months…apparently it’s pretty common for participants to skip muffins on a regular basis. (I’m not sure what part of “eat one muffin every day for six months” wouldn’t be clear, but that’s just me.)

The initial skin test showed a dramatic decrease in Will’s dairy allergy, and I beamed when the allergist attributed the change to us “doing the work”.

We moved on to the milk challenge, starting with a full teaspoon instead of with a ¼ teaspoon like we did last time. The challenge process is slow and tedious and a bit stressful – as I’ve mentioned previously, there’s nothing quite like watching your child eat/drink something dangerous to them and then just waiting to see what happens, Epi-pen at the ready – but regardless of the results (positive or negative), at least challenges provide information.

Will passed the teaspoon, or “level 1” (think Super Mario Bros. levels), as he called it, and only gagged once. While he likes the taste of chocolate milk, Will doesn’t like the way milk feels on the lining of his throat – this is pretty common with people who first drink milk as a child or adult instead of as an infant or toddler – and gags after he’s had a drink.

Will also passed the tablespoon and the ounce by “chasing” his milk with fruit punch. A lot of fruit punch. Three boxes of fruit punch. We went to the bathroom quite a few times during the four and a half hours we were in the allergist’s office.

Finally we moved on to the open, which meant Will drank as much milk as he wanted. It was at this point, when we’d actually almost made it to the end without a positive (positive = bad) reaction, that Will and I tentatively started to talk about cheeseburgers.

When I brought up the possibility of him getting to have a cheeseburger, he looked at me sadly and said, “Mama, I can’t have cheeseburgers. I’m allergic to dairy.”

Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were allergic to dairy. I wonder why we’ve been going to allergists for years and why we’ve been eating muffins for months and why we’re sitting in the allergist’s office right now shoving measureable and increasing quantities of milk down your throat? It’s like he’s never listened to anything I’ve ever said. (Insert apology for never listening to my mom here.)

With a chuckle I replied, “I know, Will, that’s why we’re here. If you pass this final level, it means you’re no longer allergic to dairy. It means the muffins worked.”

The switch flipped in his super huge brain and he excitedly told me that he was going to try his absolute hardest to pass this level so he could have a cheeseburger.

We all have dreams for our children – happiness, health, success, love. I of course want these things for my children as well, but that day, as I sat there in the allergist’s office, my only dream was for Will to get to eat a cheeseburger.

Will passed the open, and was declared “cured” of his dairy allergy. The news literally took my breath away, and as I thought back on the five and a half years that we have dealt with this particular allergy, it was all I could do not to break down in tears right there in the allergist’s office.

We’ve spent the last few days exposing Will to as many dairy products as possible. He enjoyed his cheeseburger and cheddar goldfish crackers, but was less-than-enthusiastic about macaroni and cheese, slices of Swiss and cheddar cheese, and ice cream. (Who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese and ice cream?! ) Pizza, yogurt, and bagels with cream cheese are next. I’ll probably gain a few pounds in the next week…

I would usually consider a post like this one more appropriate for our family blog. I’ve decided to post it here, however, because if we had not moved to Texas I doubt I would have ever been able to write this post in the first place.

Will is a testament to the fact that the team at our College Station allergy clinic cares about more than simply diagnosing allergies and sending patients out the door with prescriptions for Epi-pens. They care about their patients’ – and their patients’ families’ – quality of life, and their mission is to improve it. Congratulations, Paull Allergy and Asthma Clinic…Mission Accomplished.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Photography Challenge - Week 1

Day 1: Self portrait

Day 2: What you wore today

Day 3: Clouds

Day 4: Something green

Day 5: From a high angle

Day 6: From a low angle

Day 7: Fruit

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Red Cross Blog Post: Fire Safety Flop

Just when you think you're doing everything right as a Red Crosser - and a lot of things right as a parent, for that matter - your kids go and show you just how wrong you are. Read about my most recent epic fail here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Winter Wonder

January has been absolutely beautiful here in College Station. With the exception of two rainy days (which I LOVED, by the way), we've seen sunny skies and temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees. The weather has been perfect for evening walks, afternoon trips to the park, snack at the picnic table, coloring on the patio with chalk, playing baseball in the backyard, opening the windows, and giving both the heat AND the air conditioning (and therefore my checkbook) a much-needed break.

Note: I am not bragging. I am simply trying to focus on weather "positives" so that come July, when I've just published my 17th post in a row about how I am actually dying from the Texas heat and how the swimming pools are full of sweat and how the only thing my kids and I do anymore is lay on the floor in the living room under the ceiling fan and cry, you will remember this post and won't ask me why I'm an ALWAYS-complaining Negative Nellie.

The weather has also been perfect for outdoor photography. There are still flowers blooming, and the berries on the bushes in front of our house are a glorious red. Here's a little glimpse into January in Texas.

Not too shabby, eh?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Four Seasons

I love photo series that capture the same location, landmark, or landscape in winter, spring, summer, and fall. As days go by, each one easing slowly and seamlessly into the next, we often fail to notice the changes going on around us. But when we spend just a few short months, weeks, or even days away from and then return to the familiar, that which has changed in our absence seems drastic.

A perfect example of this type of gradual but dramatic change can be seen at the breath-taking Multnomah Falls, outside Portland, OR.  Stunning on any day, the splendor of the Falls is magnified when they can be seen throughout all four seasons at one time.





We visited the Falls last August, and were, as expected, awed by this naturally-occuring architectural gift.  The gift shop sold a beautiful seasonal photo series of the Falls, and if I'd had the money for both the purchase and transportation of the art from Oregon to Texas I'd have snapped it up.

I've attempted to create my own seasonal photo series in the past, but I never made it through an entire year for one reason or another - my camera wasn't high enough quality to capture the images I wanted, I forgot where I'd taken the previous season's picture, the location where I'd taken the previous season's picture had been altered or was unavailable, or I misplaced the pictures I'd previously taken.  This is all quite unfortunate, because seasonal photo series turn out best when created in regions of the country that actually experience four distinct seasons (like Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and New York, all of which I've called home) and not in Texas, where there are only two seasons.  In case you're wondering, the two seasons in Texas are "Mild Enough to Wear Pants" and "Hot Enough to Fry Eggs on the Pavement".

I knew a Texas photo series might not turn out as well as one created up north, but I decided to give it a try last January when we first arrived here.  I selected two locations at a local park, and started snapping.  I returned to the exact same locations (or as close to the exact same locations as I could remember and access) at the park in April, July, and October to complete the photo series.

Here is location #1:





Here is location #2, view #1:





And here is location #2, view #2:





As you can see, my description of the seasons here was pretty accurate; there wasn't a whole lot of visible change between winter, spring, summer, and fall because those seasons don't exist here. I'm sure you can also see that, in general, my photography needs a little work. I should have placed myself more accurately after January's round of photos so the shots matched up exactly in April, July, and October, and I'm still trying to understand lighting and all that aperture, F-stop, and depth of field mumbo jumbo. There's always room for improvement...

Perhaps next year I'll take a photo duo instead, photographing a particular location in the middle of August ("Hotter than Hell") and the middle of February ("Mild").  Maybe we'll actually see some contrast there.  If not,  I may just give up on photo series until the day I once again reside in the land of four seasons.