Saturday, July 23, 2016

Harrell House Bug Museum and Abiquiu Lake

When you've spent the first five years of your marriage in college, two babies, a new job, a lay-off and job hunting again there isn't much time for vacation. And while vacations aren't necessary, they are awfully fun once in a while. With a new job starting in August and time off until then, Blair and I decided to take the boys on a trip to the mountains (of course). I love love going up into the mountains. They soothe the soul, melt away anxiety and stress and, with their magnitude, put everything little thing into perspective - plus its usually 20 to 30 degrees cooler in the summer which can't be beat! 

We took a four hour road trip up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, stopping in Santa Fe for lunch and too splash around at Abiquiu Lake. The original plan had been to tour the carved sandstone cave in Abiquiu and see the Georgia O'Keefe museum and Ghost Ranch, but the cave requires reservations. Instead we hopped online while eating lunch to find something the boys would enjoy and discovered the Harrell House Bug Museum in Santa Fe. Now, as any mom of boys knows, this was sure to be a hit. 

Do note that the museum isn't in a traditional stand-alone building, you will find the Harrell House inside the Devargas Shopping Center and there is no sign on the outside - at least on the side we parked on. Admission is quite cheap at $6 for adults and 12 and under are $4 and two and under are free. 

Once inside you will be given a mini flashlight (much to the delight of Jack) to help you see in some of the dark cages where the tarantulas are. Did I mention that there are a huge variety of tarantulas? Because there is. One of the biggest collections I've ever seen. Including the one that is known for eating birds because it is so big. *shudder* as in nearly 10 inches across. *shudder* - so fair warning - if you really are an arachnophobe don't scroll down because I have pictures. You will also find lizards, fish and other live bugs as well as an impressive collection of mounted insects. Another aspect that we enjoyed was that the cages start at ground level and there are sturdy step stools so that toddlers like Jack can see more on their own. I think this little (and it is little, guys) museum is a great place for field trips for public or home schooled families or 4-Hers.

Because I am really trying to fit one day of vacation per post here is our stop at Abiquiu Lake. It was hot and the kids weren't napping when we came over a rise and saw the lake. Blair isn't a super fan of wading around so I took the boys to play and he took pictures - which worked out lovely because we've both been trying to get me in more photos. When you are the photographer it is easy to always be behind the lens. 

We splashed, I walked Zane around, Jack insisted on 'helping' when he wasn't tossing rocks and looking for shells. As I was getting shoes back on Jack decided to "rock climb" up the side of the inlet we were at - he was very proud of conquering it. Also? Red sunglasses on a two year old? Killer man, killer. All in all it was a great start to our family vacation.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Play From Above

When I was pregnant with Zane I was so not in the mood for crouching down to get the right angle when photographing Jack. Yet, I wanted to continue to practice and try to grow and learn in photography. What's a unwieldy pregnant chick to do?

As I played around with different points of view I took this photo and my #playfromabove series was born.

Until very recently this series was only captured with my phone and posted to Instagram. It is easier to capture a top down POV with a camera phone, and Instagram provided me a platform to instantly edit and share. This was great because it kept me on track with practicing photography while still being pretty freaking pregnant-lazy (which is an entirely different kind of lazy).

 Once Zane arrived it also gave me a starting point for capturing their relationship as brothers without attempting to get a baby and a toddler to both look in the same direction at the same time. Which was, and is, a sanity saver.

Experimenting with your POV is one of the first lessons in many of the photography books I've read. I am far from an expert, but if you are looking for a place to start growing your photography skills try playing around with different angles. Frame your shot with your camera - you don't need a fancy camera for that. One you learn how to do that you will have taken a huge step in rendering what you see, and what you want to portray. Which is ultimately one of the main goals of photography - not just snapping a shot, but seeing potential, and being able to translate that, first with your eye, and then with your lens.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Summer Evening

I took 500-ish photos on the 4th of July - so that post will be in a bit as I slowly process the best ones (and the just plain adorable ones).

In the meantime, we've had a few slow days since. This evening we drove the kids up to the airport to check out Poppy's airplane and one of the helicopters used to fight the forest fires. It's currently stationed here on stand-by. Since all the cool kids process their avation shots in HDR I thought I'd give it a go. Still a quite a bit to learn, but it was fun! I can't remember the name of the helicopter, just that it is French.

It was much skinnier than I pictured. 

Jack loves helicopters so this was a huge treat for him. We often see it flying over us during training. it was very cool to see it up close.

Here is the water bucket used to fight fires for anyone interested in an up-close view. 

Of course we had to pop over to Poppy's hanger for a "ride" in the airplane.

Not to mention a lesson on engines. 

It was adorable to see both boys at the yoke

Did I mention it was Zane's first time in the airplane? Check out that toothy smile!

To me, a quick 30 minute outing can be just as memorable as a huge vacation. You just have to know how to look. Growing up, a trip in a hot van full of cousins, windows open, the air heavy with humidity as we made our way to the local Sonic for a round of slushies would make my week. I know that for my boys it will be the little moments, as much as, if not more than, the big ones that will bring a rush of happy memories as they grow up. I hope the fact that I take photos of these little moments helps to cement that lesson. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Wildlife West Nature Park

The first of July came rolling around on Friday and it was pretty clear a family road trip was in order. Specifically to Moriarty, NM to the open-year-around fireworks warehouse. As my family firmly believes and John Adams put best:

In a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, he (John Adams) wrote that the occasion should be commemorated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” The first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777.

 The results of that stop - and the one my brother made the day before, and the one my husband, dad, brother and brother-in-law are making today... will be all exploded in full joy tomorrow. 

Since monsoon season has been slowly rolling in, the East side of the Sandias were in the 70's and the usual scattered rains were making for some lovely weather. Blair and I decided, spur of the moment, that it was a perfect day to take the kids to check out the Wildlife West Nature Park in Edgewood. 

Nearly all the art work was in this stained glass style:

Any place that lets Jack 'drive' a tractor is the best thing ever in his book:

The animal enclosures allow close interaction at toddler level! Plus, the lady at the front told us to just let the animals know that you are there and they usually come say hi. 

Zane takes jail seriously. 

The newest members of the refuge are two orphaned 8 month old mountain cubs. They are still very shy. This one peeked out of his cave before we left to see the deer. 

After we left I turned around to see this! Curiosity got the cat. 

Jack and the cub had a cute moment before they mutually scared each other and both ran away. 

Trying to remember to hand the camera off and get in the frame with my boys more!


His baby curls steal my heart every time