Pictures! Cool pictures!

Oh, I've been waiting for a cool family photo shoot. One to make everyone go "how awesome" and "love it." Because thanks to the internet, I know everyone out there is having fun photo shoots but me. Just google "cool family photo ideas" and come back in a couple of hours. But now, thanks to a friend and some graffiti, I've got photos that make me grin every time I look at them. These are just a sample of the awesomeness. (I shouldn't have to say it, but these are copyrighted.)

Here's the background on the background: I've driven past this long-abandoned, graffiti-decorated submerged railroad bed near downtown for years and every time I pass I think it would make an awesome background for photographs. Over the years there has been talk of renovating the area known as the First Avenue Cut into a nice little walking trail. Then I saw they were actually moving forward with the work to connect Sloss Furnaces with Railroad Park. Great for the city but crap, I knew I better move fast before they paint over the awesome. 

So I called my friend Kristina O'Quinn because she's just crazy enough to scheme with me and I knew she wouldn't bat an eyelash at graffiti. Now, Kristina is what you would call an amateur photographer — 90 percent of the time she's got a camera with her to document what's going on in the city around her. I've seen the beautiful pictures she's taken of her kids. She's doing it for kicks. When I asked her to take the photos, I expected we'd go down, take a few shots and that would be that. I kind of forgot who I was dealing with. Kristina scouted the location, sketched ideas, helped me decided what to wear. My friend didn't show up, a professional photographer did. I'll certainly recommend her to anyone who asks. And I should mention, my kids didn't make it easy for her but she handled them. 

I look forward to the new walking trail. It would be nice if the planners kept the graffiti -- it's not your "typical" graffiti of initials and nicknames but lots of inspirational sayings like the above "Don't Worry." I may have to go down again soon and document more of the site before it's gone. I suggest you do the same. Take a Kristina with you too.*

*Does this sound like an ad? It's not. It's just me being totally impressed by my friend's skills. However, she'd be happy to set up a photo shoot with you. I'll introduce you. 


Halloween 2013

What's that you say? Halloween was two weeks ago? It ain't over until I document it. Which means Halloween 2012 is still going strong. I sure thought I had posted pictures. There is at least one photo of Will.

Halloween this year was ... interesting. The four-year-old took full control of his costume. While Will always picks his costume, Nana or Mommy are the ones that make it appear. Not so with Joseph. He had an idea and told me what he needed to be an American Striped Fox.

You may ask, what is an American Striped Fox? It's a fox with stripes. It eats wild chicken, wild pigs, wild cows, pretty much anything wild. It can come in several color combinations — red and black, orange and black, orange and yellow and black. They are friends with bunnies and kittens. If you want to know anything at all about American Striped Foxes, just ask Joseph. 

No, it's not a real animal. See Joseph got a stuffed tiger for his birthday back in May. Striper immediately joined Baby Bunny and Joseph on all their adventures. About a month ago, Joseph declared Striper to be an American Striped Fox. (And no, he had not seen "What Does the Fox Say?"). Forget the Batman PJs already picked out, Joseph was going to be an American Striped Fox too. So basically, Joseph dressed up as his favorite stuffed friend. Sweet, I know.

Blurry but American Striped Foxes are very hard
to photograph in the wild! Good view of the tail.

But Halloween was coming fast. How could we pull this off? I told Joseph I would be happy to make his mask (I'm thinking felt, thread and a couple of nights in front of the TV) but Joseph ran to his room bringing out the mask he decorated at Art at Avondale Park the week before. I got red sweatpants and a turtleneck at the big consignment sale. Joseph helped paint stripes of yellow, orange and black. The tail — oh, I love the tail — was sewn in five seconds by a willing friend who knows her way around a sewing machine. It is a red T-shirt stuffed with polyfill. She sewed the tail to another strip of T-shirt so it was easy to tie around Joseph's waist. He decided not to paint it. Again, he knew what he wanted. 

Joseph asked for a costume for Striper  — 5 seconds
before trick-or-treating!

Will's costume was a little easier. Nana got him some skeleton PJs (PJs are the best for costumes —you're already dressed for bed!). But to make it a little more his style, Will wanted to be a Minecraft skeleton. Not familiar with the computer game? Just ask any little boy ages 8-12 within 30 feet of you (and probably their dads too) and they can tell you all about it. (If you are curious, Will only plays the creative mode, no mindless destroying of things/animals is allowed, and a majority of the time Will is playing next to a parent with a watchful eye. We like Mindcraft for the building aspect. Dad and son are working on an elaborate town — it even has an art museum.)

I got the bow printout here but made the grayscale pattern for the
head myself using InDesign when I couldn't find a ready-made one.

Like Halloweens past, we hit the school Harvest Festival the day before and then on actual Halloween night we walked our street with our neighbor pals and then headed two streets over to walk a few more streets with a longtime friend that has a street as nice as ours. Meaning the neighbors know the kids are coming and have goodie bags or full-sized candy bars waiting. Both boys got plenty of candy! The night ends back on our street at Mavis and Shea's annual Harvest party complete with apple bobbing and hot funnel cakes. After inhaling a bunch of sugar and maybe two bites of apple, the boys go to bed and then mommy does the importing job of "sorting" the candy. One of the best nights of the year!

Trick-or-treaters on our street always know to stop at Mr. Ed's house.
He's got the full-size candy bars!

This mini Stig and Mindcraft skeleton have been
trick-or-treating together since 2006.  

The candy is not even all gone and Joseph is already thinking ahead to next Halloween ... 

He's going as a Beetle Slug!*

*I'm told they wear yellow pants and like to use their amour 
to defend themselves from big brother attacks.