Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Awards 2012

And the moment you've been waiting for all night.....

The annual Glen and Lara family Halloween costume awards.  These awards are considered among the most prestigious costume awards around and include the illustrious honor of being mentioned in the family blog books, which my kids regularly consult each year to see what costumes they've worn  in previous years!  

Please, please hold your applause until the very end of the post. 

Most like last year's costume...
(at least he wore a different undershirt, so we can see the difference between the two years' photos)

Thriftiest costume...
($2.99 dress from the thrift store, $1 hat embellished with ribbon, broom made with PVC and paper.  She was quite tickled about her self-created costume!)

Best planned...
(she's had every detail of this costume planned for 2+ months.  I guess that's what you get when you have Halloween in your blood.)

Shallowest costume...
this little farmer's costume was thrown on for the sole purpose of scoring a $2 burrito at Chipotle and was immediately taken off so he could trick-or-treat (one last time) as a "disgruntled teenage youth". 

Most duplicitous costume...
She  threw on a same, but slightly different shirt than Spencer, wore the same hat and went as a cowgirl.  She, however, did not get lucky enough to score a $2 burrito  from Chipotle, a fact which annoys her greatly as she grazes through the fridge at 10:00pm looking for leftovers! 

Grooviest old people costumes....
Nothing like seeing yourself in a photo to see your wrinkles/pudge/gray hair in a true light.   Ugh...

And ladies and gentlemen, that is the end of the award portion of the night.  I ask that you still hold your applause to the end and enjoy a few more glimpses at our Halloween night.

Here is a glimpse of our jack-o-lanterns this year....carved during our "Hurricane" days off of school.  I put the "Hurricane" in quotes, because, in this area, it  turned out to be one of those very over-hyped storms that made for a couple of windy, rainy days and that was about it.  Of course we are praying for those in NYC and NJ that felt the full brunt of it.

Our 2012 jack-o-lantern line-up...
  • The first pumpkin (on the left) was Glen, Emma, and Adam's creation.
  • The second pumpkin (Spiderman) was  Cami and Spencer's, which they happily discovered made for cool lighting on the wall (seen above).
  • The third pumpkin (with eyelashes) was mine and Ellie's and was supposed to look scary and cute--like Ellie's costume. 

Glen was very proud of the scar and wanted me to make sure that I captured a good photo of, so that future generations could be impressed with his excellent jack-o-lanternry skills.   

And lastly here are pictures of our night....

Trick-or-treating (and getting tired of trick-or-treating)...

And candy sorting and trading....

Hope you all had a happy and safe Halloween!  

And here are some previous years' posts:
Halloween Awards 2008
Halloween Awards 2009
Halloween 2010 (somehow skipped doing the awards and instead made it into a cliche filled post)
Halloween 2011


Now you can applaud.  


Emma's Birthday Autobiography

   For Emma's 12th birthday today, I thought that instead of writing up a blogpost in her honor that I would let Emma do the talking instead.   She loves to write (she takes after her mother in that regard) and loves it when people comment on her writing even more (HINT HINT).    Emma's smile and energetic personality have been lighting up our family for 12 whole years now and we are thrilled with the young woman that she is becoming! 

And here is Emma (in her own words): 

By: Emma G.


Chapter One
I was born on October 31st 2000 at 1:40 in the morning. I had orange hair and my mom called me “her little pumpkin baby”. I have two older siblings. My older brother was 5 ½ when I was born and my sister was 3 ½. They thought since I was born they wouldn’t be able to go trick-or-treating, but they still did. When I was about 3-4 weeks old I smiled for the first time, which is something I will never forget how to do.

Chapter Two
15 days before my second birthday my mom had my little brother. I was too young to remember anything, but I know he was cute and he smiled a lot. Also when I was about two years old I would sing a lot. There is a video of me when I was two and in every video with me in it I was trying to have the camera on me and I would be singing.

Chapter Three
When I was three years old I had to get eye muscle surgery. I had gotten glasses when I was two, because I was cross eyed, so they gave me the surgery. When I was four I had to wear a patch due to lazy eye (I didn’t need glasses). When I was in preschool my mom had my little sister.

Chapter Four
When I was finishing preschool and about to go into Kindergarten my mom taught me how to read. My mom taught me out of a big book with many different lessons. I would do one lesson every day. The first few lessons were just about the different sounds each letter made. As the time went on I would read stories with pictures and my mom would cover the picture so I wouldn’t know what the story was about. I remember that I always would try and sneak a look at the picture.

Chapter Five
On Memorial Day 2005 I went to a lake with my family and some family friends. There was a bridge so I walked to it in the water and then I slipped and cut my knee deeply on a sharp rock. I came out of the water and there was a lot of blood. Luckily, one of my parent’s friends was a doctor so he stopped the bleeding. My dad took me to the emergency room and they had to give me four stitches. It hurt. The doctors gave me little teddy bear. I still have a scar from that accident.

Chapter Six
In Fall 2006 I started Kindergarten at Elementary School (which is the school I’ve been at since then). My teachers were Mrs. A and Mrs. S. In Kindergarten I learned many things and skills that have helped me in past grades. In Kindergarten I really loved my teachers and I still do. In first grade I had Ms. Bl. it was in her class that I got my first Paw Power award. In second grade I had Mrs. By. In her class I made some of my best friends. The next year I was accepted into the AAP (Advanced Academics Program) and was in Mr. S's class. He was my first male teacher and a good one too. After that I had Mrs. H. who taught me many things about language arts and social studies. Presently I have Mrs. A (again!) and she is very optimistic and treats everyone well. In fourth grade I became a safety patrol. This was exciting for me, because I got to help the school even though I was on a bus.

Part Two

Chapter Seven
During the summer between fourth grade and fifth grade I did swim team at my pool. I didn’t know I would like it as much as I did. I’m not trying to brag, but I did pretty good in swimming and I really liked it. I had done running and a little bit of soccer, but other than those I didn’t really do competitive sports. I plan on doing swimming again this summer, and currently I’m doing running with the school track team.

Chapter Eight
I started doing a lot of writing in Mrs. A’s class. Almost every day I write something. People have told me my writing is good and I didn’t really know that or think about until this year. Also, I am told I’m a good reader. I like reading and can read books fairly fast (I got that from my mom). I try and think about the author’s words as much as I can. I also, over the years, have gained a better understanding of books that I read or have read.

Chapter Nine
I donated ten inches of my hair to Locks of Love (it makes wigs for people with cancer. My hair was pretty long and although I loved my hair long I wanted to cut it, but my mom was trying to make excuses for me to not cut my hair. This was all before January 10th 2012. That was the day that my older brother went to the hospital, because he was diagnosed with cancer. After that, my mom finally agreed to let me do it (because of my brother). She actually donated her hair too although she likes her hair long.

Chapter Ten
When I was nine and ten years old I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grow up, but now from learning more about the world and global warming I want to be an environmentalist. When I learned more about pollution and global warming and what they are doing to our Earth it made me want to stop it. Many animals’ habitats are different from what they used to be, because pollution causes global warming which is making polar ice caps melt, and other ice. Pollution is forming a giant trash pile (gyre) in the Pacific Ocean. Pollution is also causing animals to die, because animals (mostly birds) mistake plastic for food. Plastic is toxic, but the animals don’t know it so they eat it and then they die. It’s really sad, but if people help it may stop.

Note From the Author
My life may not seem that special, but everybody and everything is different, so my life is special in it’s own way. I believe everyone has a talent even if they don’t know it. I also believe everyone can achieve their goals, long term or short term, and dreams if they really try and work hard to achieve them.

We love you!


For more of Emma's birthday posts:
7th birthday
8th birthday
9th birthday
10th birthday
11th birthday

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Take a Good Self-Portrait

While the wind and the rain from Hurricane Sandy continue to underwhelm us here in the DC area, I thought I'd take this opportune moment while the power remains on and impart on you some important information that will surely stupefy you with its profundity.

How many times have you been somewhere all by yourself and realized that where you are is so awesome that you want to remember the moment forever?

Sure, you could just take a picture of the raging hurricane, but where's the fun in that? You can buy a postcard with a pretty hurricane on it. You want it to be personal. You want to remember that you were in the hurricane too.

So what do you do?

Let me save you some time: skip the fad of just asking a random passer-by to take your photo. Their results don't last and you never know when the random passer-by is going to surreptitiously cut your head out of the picture.

Do you want your kids to remember you as a headless freak?

Not unless you want to frighten them!

But what other options do you have than polluting the world with poorly taken photos?

A self-portrait of course!

Now some people get a little intimidated by taking self-portraits and worry that no picture is better than an up close one of their nostrils.

Not so, though! I'm here today to take away the self-portrait taking mystique that causes people angst and I, Lara, will teach you how to take the perfect self-portrait.

First, here are a few do's and don'ts of taking a good self-portrait.

DO zoom out before turning the camera on yourself, or risk being remembered for your untweezed eyebrows rather than your killer gumline!

DON'T hold the camera down below your face, or you will get a first-hand glimpse of the contents of your nostrils as well as drawing attention to the duplicity of chins that may be found on the underside of your face. Taking the picture at eye level or slightly above is the most flattering angle.

DO check what's behind you before pressing the shutter button or you may get more in the background than you bargained for.

DON'T forget to bend your elbows slightly or you will find yourself having to explain the general flabby state of your arms and random choice of loud colored clothing to future generations.

DO check the lighting on your face, especially when taking pictures in the bright sunlight or you could end up with a creepy Phantom of the Opera face...

or a shadowy face that gets lost in the brilliance of the beautiful background...

or a strange raised-eyebrows kind of look when you're forcefully trying to keep your eyes open as you squint into the mercilessly bright sun.

DON'T sneeze at the exact moment you're about to shoot the picture.

DO wrap the camera strap around your arm a couple of times, so that in the unfortunate event that you should lose your grip on the camera while in your out-stretched arms that the worst that happens is an unflattering shot of yourself taken while catching it and not a strained back from having to pick it up off the ground.

DON'T forget to keep your camera with you, so that you don't miss out on an opportune time to capture a memorable moment.

think about brushing your hair and putting on make-up, even if you do not intend to leave the house. You never know when the moment will arise when you decide that taking self-portraits in a hurricane is the thing to do.

DON'T be afraid to take several shots from several different angles to increase your likelihood of getting a flattering shot. That's the beauty of digital can just erase the pictures you don't like.

or if you're like me....

you can always just do a blogpost about them.

DISCLAIMER: All double chins, nostril contents, and distracting background subjects were fabricated for the purpose of educating the public on proper self-portrait taking techniques. Author is not to be held liable for any defamatory self-portraits that may be taken while using the techniques in this blogpost. These tips are meant for suggestive purposes only and may or may not result in the same level of gorgeousness  as can be found in this instructive blogpost.  

  I'd like to dedicate this post to my sister, AnnaLisa, who taught me everything I know about taking self-portraits.


Battening Down the Hatches

After fifteen plus years in the East, you'd think we'd be used to the weather hype that always seems to precede storms  that come anywhere within 100 miles of us.  Yet again and again, we get sucked into the drama and the hyperbolic television meteorologists who spout such catch-phrases as "storm-of-the-century" and "super storm" with careless abandon.  Occasionally there is a noteworthy storm worth writing home about (September 2003's Hurricane Isabel, June 2012's derecho, and the winter of 2010 being the main three), but most storms here end up being a tad on the anti-climatic side. 

Now we have Hurricane Sandy heading our way, threatening to pummel our area as well as most of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast US.  The meteorologists are talking it up BIG time and while we still hope this is another one of those over-hyped storms, we worry that this one might be the real deal.  After all it's not every day that a category 1 hurricane is heading straight for some of the most populated cities in America....DC, NYC, Philadelphia.      Our whole area is under both flash flood and high wind warnings  and they've already cancelled school for Monday and Tuesday.   We live in a neighborhood full of beautiful mature trees and we rarely have a storm of note without some trees and power lines down somewhere in our neighborhood, so we fully expect to be without power for a few days once this really gets going. 

Here is our checklist of what we did to get ready, figuring that doomsday or not, some things are reasonable and helpful to do anyway: 
Stock up on water--
Buy more batteries--
Find the flashlights--
Fill up the gas tanks--
Bring in the trashcans and lawn furniture--
Make room in the garage for one of the cars--
Park the other car in the driveway away from neighbor's tree--
Plan a no-electricity-required menu--
Charge cell phones and laptops--
Finish up the ice cream--

Pray and look forward to sunnier days ahead--
I took this picture on the road up to the Griffiths Observatory in LosAngeles, CA

"...there is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost but what the lighthouse of the Lord can rescue. It beckons through the storms of life. It calls, “This way to safety. This way to home.” It sends forth signals of light easily seen and never failing. "  Thomas S. Monson


And on the same note, h
ere's my facebook status from today: 

My mother-in-law, Sandy, is one of the sweetest, gentlest, most thoughtful people I know, which makes the impending storm that shares a name with her all the more ironic. We are battening down the hatches and praying that the storm proves to be a little more Grandma Sandy-like than the "Frankenstorm" that the meteorologists are predicting.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Signs of the Time

You go through life and there are signs everywhere.

Some signs make you pause in the middle of your carefree moment and conjure up a fatalistic plan of action should the unthinkable occur....

Other signs are fun and fill you with a sort of longing for adventure...

Other signs give you a little twang of anticipation....

Still other signs are complicated and require reading the fine print...

And other signs are just plain confusing...

Some signs seem glitzy and exciting from afar...

but when you get up close, you realize that the stars are cracked, dirty,  in a raunchy part of town, and really not all that impressive...

And sometimes you realize that the best signs of all are homemade and scratched onto a scrap of paper you scrounged up in your purse....

Clinic Stats:  Weight:  71 kg., WBC:  4.05,  RBC:  4.37,  Hgb:  15.1, Platelets:  147, ANC:  2000+


 All these photos (except the one of Spencer) were taken while on my vacation in California.

Tsunami sign: as we walked down to Salt Creek Beach at Dana Point
End of 66 sign:  on the Santa Monica Pier
Hobbit sign:  in Hollywood
Parking sign:  in downtown LA
Entrance/not entrance sign:  on the door of the Griffiths Observatory in LA
Hollywood sign:  taken from the exterior of the Griffith Observatory
Walk of fame:  Hollywood, CA
Spencer:   at the Pediatric Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders


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