The Kids at the Park

Three kids; Three Moods
Three kids; Three Moods

Funny thing about this is that I could say this reflects their moods, but really only Stella is being genuinely Stella. Usually you can’t catch Sam without a smile on his face (although he *is* going through the whiny 2 year old phase), and Scarlett’s the most neutral.

Scarlett’s recital

This year Scarlett did hip hop as her dance class and the instructor selected a Pink Ladies meets Hip Hop sort of outfit for the kids. Like last year I did a portrait session with Scarlett in her costume. Unlike last year, it actually came out nice this year. (Last year I rushed it and the lighting was off)

After seeing another dad do it last year, I decided to rent a lens this year so I could have much better low light performance. I rented the 70-200 II IS L lens. On the plus side, I was very happy with how close I was able to zoom to Scarlett without having to push the ISO past the limits of my camear. On the minus side, I just don’t have that much experience with dance photography and this year Scarlett’s class only had one dance. So although the lens was a reasonable $100 to rent, I am not sure if I’m going to do it again next year (assuming Scarlett does dance class again) since I only got 3 photos worth sharing.

“School’s OUT!” – Scarlett’s Recital Photos

Their song this year was School’s Out by the Disney-affiliated Kyra Christiaan.

The part above is Scarlett shouting “SCHOOL’S OUT!”

Scarlett’s Recital Photos

I love how dynamic Scarlett is in this photo. And you can tell it’s in focus if you look at her shoes or bow. She’s just moving faster than the shutter speed.

Scarlett’s Recital Photos

Mt. Vernon

Danielle and I went to Mount Vernon back when we first moved here and were exploring new things to do in our free time that were unique to the area.

Scarlett at Mt. Vernon
Scarlett at Mt. Vernon

We’d thought of bringing our parents to see Washington’s house and property, but the timing never quite worked out – you really want to visit in the Spring or Fall, not during the Summer or Winter. So it remained a place we’d only been to once even as we made multiple trips to the same couple Smithsonian museums and zoos.

Scarlett with mature dandelion

Last year, in pre-school, Scarlett learned a bit about the presidents: mostly that we have one and that some of the old ones are on Mt. Rushmore. This year, they still aren’t learning too much civics (they’re too busy teaching them how to read, write, and math), but Scarlett listens around the house as we’ve spoken about the current president. Which reminded her there were some famous ones and I think the school made a big deal of President’s Day in February.

Stella with mature dandelion

That said, Scarlett’s only six – 4 years ago she was just starting to talk and 5 years ago she could just barely walk. So she kept getting confused between Mt. Vernon and the White House. On the day of the trip she asked if we were going to Donald Trump’s house.

So many dandelions!

Once we got there, Scarlett marveled at the giant “doll house” model of Washington’s house. But what she enjoyed most was being our navigator. She got the map and she was in charge of telling us which way to go.

Stella

It was a very busy day, with lots of tourists there so the pace was a bit fast and the docents didn’t get to explain things about the house as much as I remember them doing the last time I went there.

Dandelion seeds fly away (you may need to open at 100%)
Dandelion seeds fly away (you may need to open the photo at 100%)

We didn’t explain slavery to Scarlett. She got a mini-crash course on it at school because she asked me some interesting questions in February. But the concept is so alien that she didn’t quite understand what she’d learned. Personally, I think it’s a deep enough and screwed up enough concept that I’m content to wait another year or two for her to be able to understand what it meant, what it said about us, etc. It’ll also be interesting to see how they teach it here. In Florida (when I was in school) they didn’t shy away from it like I ehar in other southern States, but I didn’t understand it completely until AP American History.

Stellal up against the wall

On the subject of Washington’s mansion, I tried to point out to Scarlett the ways in which the house was different from ours – the kitchen separate from the house, etc. But it’s only been 1-2 years since she could understand the concept of Danielle and I as kids. And, from what she’s said, I don’t think she thinks the world is much older than her great-grandparents. So it might take a bit more for her to appreciate those types of things.

Scarlett and young dandelion
Scarlett and young dandelion

You guys know I like to just post one interpretation of a photo, but sometimes I can’t decide. Which do you think is better? Color (above) or black and white (below):

Scarlett and young dandelion
Scarlett and young dandelion

As far as stuff like mortality goes, our current line is that only old people die. We will sometimes mention disease, but don’t want her to freak out at a bad cold. So she was able to understand the Washington crypt on the site.

Dandelion Sword

We ended the day with the photos you see here in a field where the kids wanted to pick dandelions.

Lots of Young Dandelions

I don’t blame them. Even as an adult, I do find it fun to blow the seeds away. What a beautiful way to pollinate.

Sam
Sam

Easter at the Farm

This Easter we went to the farm so they kids could hunt for eggs there and then enjoy the farm. Unlike my childhood, Easter’s pretty cold up here as you can see.

Stella and the Goat
With Aunt Dina’s help, Stella gets over her fear of petting goats.

It’s pretty ridiculous to me, considering almost my entire childhood consisted of going to the local park.

Stella’s been enjoying horseback riding for a bit now, but this was the first time she was old enough to do it on her own without me holding onto her the entire time.

Stella on Horseback
Stella on Horseback

Sam made big strides this time by actually allowing us to put him onto a horse.

Sam gets over his fear of riding horses to the degree that I can stand far away to take the photo.

And no trip to the farm would be complete without a session of feeding the goats. This time with Stella losing her fear of feeding them.

Feeding goats
Feeding goats

Sam and Stella’s First Disney Trip

Back in November we took the twins on their first trip to Disney. This time around Scarlett wasn’t as interested in the parades as she was last time, but the twins were REALLY into them. Surprisingly, both twins ended up warming up to the characters. Sam’s reluctance with Mickey on the first day made me think he was going to try and avoid them the entire trip. But as you can see in the video, he eventually got into interacting with the characters.

The twins were a little more patient about waiting in line – not sure if it’s because they had Scarlett to copy or if they’re just a little more patient than she is. It was a little tougher with three kids’ schedules to balance, but the twins also eat a more varied diet than Scarlett did at the same age so they weren’t constantly hungry like she was. We’ll see what happens in the future as they all get older, but there weren’t really too many arguments or disagreements about what rides to go on.

It was also special that my parents once again went for the grandkids’ first time. The kids just about enjoyed their time with their grandparents as much as their time on the rides and at the shows.

Enjoy my favorite photos from the trip.

A Fall Visit to the Farm

Back in October, we went to the pumpkin patch to do our annual pumpkin patch portraits.

Sam inspects pumpkins
Sam inspects pumpkins

Unfortunately, the twins were not amenable so we just did the other farm activities.

Stella checks out the portrait photos
Stella checks out the portrait photos

Sam and Stella’s first visit to Coney Island

Earlier this year we took the twins to Coney Island for the first time. They were not amused.

Scarlett’s First Dance Recital

This year Scarlett concluded a season of ballet and tap with a recital. It was pretty neat to see it all come together after having seen it in bits throughout the season. Here are some of the photos I took. I think next year I’ll do the same thing the guy behind me did and rent some f2.8 glass so I can freeze the action a bit more and get less motion blur.