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My Latest Obsession

As you may have noticed, photography has become my latest obsession. I've been doing a ton of reading on photographic technique and composition, submitting photos to online communities for critique and publication (so far, none have been up to snuff), and taking a ton of pictures. The question that's come to my mind a lot, though, has been "How long will this last?"

I tend to be very single-minded in terms of what I'm passionate about. A year or two ago, all I wanted to do was play poker, and while I still enjoy it, both my interest and my skill have waned considerably since Jason was born. Before that, it was web design. Before that, movies. All of these things still have a place in my heart, but in terms of active pursuits, I've moved on.

Will I stick with photography? It's hard to say. Based on my track record with hobbies, it looks like I'll probably cool again some time in the next four or five years. On the other hand, although I've only recently taken it up again, I've had an interest in photography since I started high school, which is coming up on 17 years ago now. Too, as long as I have kids in the house, I'll probably have at least a little motivation to document their time with me.

The fact that my skill seems to be growing pretty rapidly (in my somewhat self-congratulatory opinion) helps, too. It's gratifying to be able to see the progress in my work over a very short time. On the other hand, it's also been frustrating since I can see how much more I have to learn. Some of the critiques I've gotten have been difficult to take, even though they were both spot-on and quite civilly delivered. I know: this is how you grow, you have to start somewhere, etc. And I do enjoy the process. But sometimes the gap between where I am and where I want to be seems insurmountable.

Usually around that point I have to remind myself to stop being so melodramatic and self-absorbed.

I think I had a point somewhere in there that I was swirling toward, but I seem to have lost the track. Anyway, here are my favorites from the trip home this past weekend:

Treacherous Footing

Overlooked

Garden Walk

Persistence

Contrast

And the rest of the set:

Picnic Tables and Parks

I didn't get much chance to take pictures this week, so the set is pretty small:

Using a table for things like sitting and eating is boring.

Visiting the park with some friends.

Taking a moment to contemplate the glory of the park.

Mira Mesa Street Art

It's become a bit of a joke to Juliette how oblivious I can be to my surroundings, but since I started taking pictures seriously again, I've been noticing a lot more of the world around me. Last week I was driving home from work when a flash of color caught my eye. I looked over and saw this:

Someone had a sense of humor, it seemed. I came back the next evening to take that picture, and along the way I noticed several more electrical boxes that had been painted. Figuring that there had to be a story there, I did a little digging. It turns out that a group of high school students has been taking part in a neighborhood beautification project, and electrical boxes all over Mira Mesa have been getting spruced up. Saturday morning I grabbed my camera, put Cooper on his leash, and set out to perform a little photographic study.  Here are some highlights:

Oddly, the best picture I got all day wasn't of the boxes at all, but of a crosswalk:

It's funny how much your perspective of a place changes when you're on foot instead of whizzing by in a car. I must have driven by the Mira Mesa Community Park, for example, hundreds of times, but until this weekend I'd never actually walked through it. I'd never noticed the senior center or really looked at the baseball fields or grassy areas before. Makes me wonder what else I've been missing.

Mother's Day Weekend

Mother's Day weekend was a little up and down for us.

Saturday morning we spent some time playing in the yard. Jason can't get enough of his water table, which is great since summer is rapidly approaching.

We went to Lake Miramar later, and decided on the spur of the moment to walk the entire 5-mile loop.

After dinner, because I am awesome, I volunteered to drive down to Mission Valley and pick up dessert from our favorite deli. The folks behind the counter were nice enough to let me take some pictures. (I should probably note that I didn't actually get one of these little pies. I don't know why. But the bread pudding and custard I did get were good.)

We had big plans for Sunday, involving Juliette sleeping in, then going out for breakfast and dinner. Unfortunately, Jason's stomach had other ideas--he woke up at about two in the morning and threw up nine times over the next eight hours. None of us got much sleep, though, as you can see, Jason did manage to catch a late morning nap on the couch. Just so you don't worry, he was feeling much better by dinner time and slept fine last night.

In an unrelated note, I'm trying to be a little more disciplined about which photos I keep, so this week's set is a much more manageable size:

The Yard, The Friend's House, The Pool

A day late again, but here are my favorite pictures from this weekend:

The Mexican sage in our back yard started blooming recently. All in all the yard is looking pretty nice right now.

Juliette and Jason played with the water table on Saturday morning. I love the look on his face here.

Saturday afternoon we went and visited some friends and their daughter, Lilliana. This picture was pretty representative of their interaction--she kept wanting to hug and kiss him and he was like "Why are you doing that?"

Lilliana had these little boxes that I think are meant to teach colors since each one was full of toys that were the same color as the box. Jason was less interested in the boxes' educational value, though, than he was in wearing them as hats. (I don't know why, but he loves hats right now, and tries to turn just about everything into a hat.) Unfortunately, the boxes were a little snug on his head and he had trouble getting them off on his own.

I'm not totally thrilled with how enthralled Jason can be by the TV sometimes, but it does make it a lot easier to get a few things done in the morning.  In case you're wondering, that's Ricky Gervais singing Elmo a "celebrity lullaby" on Sesame Street.

On Sunday we went to the pool for the first time in almost a year. Jason had unfortunately forgotten most of what he learned in his infant swimming classes and was kind of apprehensive about the toddler pool at first, even though it's shallow enough for him to stand up along its entire length. But he loosened up eventually and had a good time.

I had trouble winnowing down the full set this week, but here are some highlights from the rest of the set:

Last Weekend

I meant to post these pictures on Monday, but between Jason getting sick and a particularly busy week at my office, I just couldn't find the time. I know, "Excuses, excuses." In any case, here's what I have from last weekend's photos:

We went to a new park in Liberty Station on Saturday:

We got some lunch at a seafood place nearby:

Then after we ate, I took some pictures of the Point Loma marina:

The rest of the set:

Earth Day

Juliette volunteered to work her school's booth at the 2010 San Diego EarthFair, so we decided to make an afternoon out of it.  Jason and I walked around while Juliette was working, and after her shift was over we got some lunch and hung out.

It was pretty crowded:

Some people were very opinionated:

Others had somewhat questionable fashion sense:

In the end, we had a pretty good time:

And here are the rest of this week's set:

Last Day of Spring Break

Jason managed to drown Juliette's phone this past weekend, but fortunately she was due for an upgrade anyway. One feature of the new phone that she's been enjoying is the ability to record video:

To commemorate the last day of her spring break, we decided to take a trip to the zoo. We have a membership there, which is nice because it means we can just pop in for an hour or two and spend a longer time at just a few exhibits, rather than rushing to try to see the whole park. In any case, we had a good time:

Over the River and Through the Woods

Juliette, Jason, and I were in Virginia this past week, visiting my mom and stepdad. Now, I could go ahead and tell you all the details of what we did, where we went, and what we ate. (I swear I gained five pounds on this trip.) I'm told, though, that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think that this one nicely sums up the whole experience:

What I love about this photo is the unbridled joy on Jason's face. It's a sight that I got to see a lot over the past week, which was a wonderful thing. But as I look at it now, I can't help but feel a little sad as well.

I had been a bit anxious leading up to this trip about how Jason would react to his grandparents. After all, he'd only met my mom a few times, and my stepdad only once, when he was just a few weeks old. Of course, he's a pretty outgoing little guy and very adaptible, and Juliette and I would be there to give him an anchor, but still, we were going to be in a strange place, seeing people that he mostly didn't know. I wondered what I'd do if he couldn't sleep at their house, or if he decided he didn't like being there, never really coming up with any answers.

It turns out I needn't have worried. Jason took to my parents and their house right away. He fussed, of course, but mostly because we wouldn't let him climb up and down the stairs as much as he wanted. By the third night, he was asking for "Gamma" to read him his bedtime story, something he normally wants Juliette to do. And on the plane ride home, he repeated over and over, "Gappa, Ay-go. Gappa, Ay-go." (For those of you who don't speak toddler, that's "Grandpa, San Diego.")

And that gets to the reason for my present bittersweet feelings. It's always nice to come home and to resume the familiar routines of my life. I know that Jason will respond well to being back on his regular schedule. But it broke my heart a little to hear Juliette trying to explain to him that, no, Grandma and Grandpa live in Virginia, not San Diego. He never seemed to quite grasp the idea that they'd be far away, but I'm not sure whether that makes it better or worse. Jason is, like all small children, a creature of the moment, and things don't have to be out of sight for long for him to be onto the next.

This is something I've struggled with a lot over the past couple of years. San Diego is where our life is now. Our careers and wonderful friends are here, and we've begun to put down some real roots. But the closest of Jason's grandparents, aunts, and uncles lives 450 miles away--the ones we just left are on the other side of the country. It's important to me that he have a relationship with his family, but with everyone so far away, it's hard to see how that can happen, at least not in the same way that I had when I was young. Juliette keeps reassuring me that the distance might make things different, but not necessarily worse--after all, she grew up 3000 miles away from her grandparents and still managed to have a very close relationship with them. I still can't help but feel sad, not so much for Jason, but for the rest of the family for not being able to see him as often as we'd like. In the end, he'll hardly remember this part of his life, if at all, and what will stay with him will be times that come later. But I know that now is a time that will always be special in my memories, and I'm sorry that so many of the people that are important to me won't get the same time with him as I do.

While I was visiting, I helped my mom pick out and set up a new computer, and got her a Skype account while I was at it. I'm hoping that regular video chat sessions will help keep Gamma and Gappa fresh in Jason's mind. It's not the same as a trip to see them, but it's what I can do for now. My question for you is this: if you've raised kids far from your family, or if you grew up far from your parents' families, how did you deal with it? Were you able to overcome the distance?

I hope to hear from you.

Quick Photo Links Before Bed

It's almost 1 AM, I'm flying tomorrow, and my laptop has just about run out of batteries, but I've been a total slacker about writing since I've been on vacation and I know you are all dying for an update. I'll give a real update on Wednesday, but until then, here are some photos to tide you over:

Click through to see the rest of the March and April galleries. See you Wednesday!