FROZEN: No smiles, no frowns.

Everywhere we go, Ri is on high alert for all things Frozen.  She shops for princess items, carrying anything with these Disney characters on them around stores and performing full on fall out fits when we refuse purchase.  In CVS, it was a box of tissues with Sven, Anna, and Olaf. In Giant,  it was diaper wipes with a similar scene.  In Target, it was a reusable shopping bag with princesses (and she filled it with an Elsa notepad and assorted themed writing supplies).  PEZ dispensers, bubble wands, juice drinks. Each time she proclaims “HANNAH!” and leads us unwillingly toward the spotted product.

I’d pretty much had enough of the winter cursed crew.  And then, last Thursday, I discovered I’d also been cursed.  It began with a locked jaw that made chewing a robotic, awkward effort.  Soreness in my muscles turned into frostbite tingles overnight. My fingers numbed.  By Friday, my headaches increased intensity – not quite migraines,  but profoundly disruptive. My tongue swelled (had I eaten something with sulfide preservatives?). Speech slurred.  My face was frozen.

The speech distorted even more by Saturday,  and I’m sure it was hard deciphering my words as I tried to help Chi with her Atlanta Fashion Walk activities. By lunch, I couldn’t eat – the muscles in my jaw weren’t responding to commands.  And my eyes burned, my lids fought against blinking as vision grew progressively hazier.

By Sunday,  I could no longer articulate my thoughts.  My ears hummed, sounds echoed as though tunneled. Voices were amplified and pitched. Images in front of me blurred. My legs stiffened. And my frustration reached a new peak.

I was frozen and no amount of summer heat – of warm hugs – was melting my curse.

Zoo: people watching

It never fails.  We get ourselves ready to voyage to the National Zoo on the same day that everyone else has the same idea. And we elect not to drive in and hunt for parking in favor of the trains (because Ya loves trains, you know?). But Metro decided to delay trains and run intermittent single track service.

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It’s obviously been awhile, because the round trip fare is nearly $11 per person off peak. I don’t remember that… but then, maybe I’ve never taken more than two passengers aboard.  We board at the first stop,so the train is empty and seats are ours to claim – this is especially important when traveling with a stroller.

w IMG1133As the train pulled away from the station, Ya’s expression changed. His excitement turned to queasiness. He looked worried.  Questions. How fast will he go? Why did they stop? It goes underground?  How long will it take? How many more stops? I began to wonder if he suffered not only from motion sickness, but also anxiety.

Ri had never been on a train (in her recollection ), so the whole experience was new. The big seat next to mommy with the massive window -it caught her attention and held it. Whoa! Whoa! She said as the window darkened. She held her ears and eyes widened to see as we traveled through tunnels. But above ground, she chattered away about the passing scenery and waved at the waiting passengers on the platforms.
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At Metro Center, we suffered from tourist don’t know.  Riding one elevator to the upper level only to watch our train arrive on an unreachable track.  We rode the elevator down again, walked the short distance to another elevator and waited to take it to the proper train platform.  The escalator at Woodley Park suffered from rickets. It grinded upwards at a steep incline, shuddering and shaking beneath our feet.  I spent much of the nearly 5 minute trip to the surface with my eyes closed. I vowed silently to wait forever for an elevator rather than suffer that experience again.

The zoo animals made themselves scarce. People of all variety, however, made for fantastic viewing. We waited in line for half an hour to see the Great Pandas, each of whom were sleeping inside.  They looked dead, and the research cameras’ images looked tantamount to forensic files crime scene investigation.
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Despite the beckoning smell, we skipped the $5.50 funnel cakes.  We sipped on our brought from home sodas. Ri snacked on Doritos; Chi, Rico, and I enjoyed sandwiches; and Ya had watermelon.  Mom picked an iced coffee. That stop to the convenience store outside the entrance was just what was needed.

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We spent the most time in The Bird House.  Two males and one female bird makes quite a show, especially when one male has a worm to present. There was some serious courting!  Another bird cackled like her audience. Each time she sounded, her laugh was reciprocated by people watching her. want my worm
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At the outside exhibits, it was like a lens convention. The motto? Bigger is better (and clearly, mine’s bigger). Camera wielding folk quardoned off space and stood alert, willing – praying – some zoo inhabitants would draw near enough to the natural looking parts of the habitats to look “wild” in pictures.
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Near 6pm, the masses moved toward the exit, and we made an unencumbered trip into the Small Mammal House. Naked mole rats?  There’s a reason they hide underground.  A monkey used a sloth as a hanging chair (serves him right sleeping above the food). Lemurs jumped and chased. And the skunks paced.  We were chased out by an officer insisting “I’ve got a lot of other buildings to close. Move out now.”
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At the entrance, families stood in line to pose with the zoo sign.  It’d make a great picture, as the lighting was phenomenal.  But the wait? No thanks. I felt sorry for the mom whose child decided to put on a clown show for the crowd when it was finally her turn to pose. There’s no way she wanted pictures of the child’s contorted face, wildly waving hands, or splayed leg acrobatics.

Again the master of bad timing, we arrived to the station with every Nationals fan from the night’s game.  A sea of red crowded every space in the train car and we ended up separated, clinging to bars as the train lurched along the “one track” service line and stopped without warning intermittently. Passengers continued to squeeze in, despite the cramped standing space. I fought to shield Ya and a sleeping Ri from swinging purses and elbows of oblivious riders. It was an hour of discomfort and I wondered how mom stood so stoic across the isle.

I learned several things on this trip, the most important being that next time I should just people watch at our mall. I didn’t need nearly empty zoo exhibits surrounding the eccentric folk to add interest (though the shared “look, I think I found something!” seemed to create a common connection among strangers).

Ri rising

She lays there, across my bed as though it were hers. Arm above her head, other one tucked under her chin. Legs bent, as though she were racing.  Lips pursed, a tiny break between them.

The rhythmic intact of breathe, an occasional rumbling huff, keeps away the quiet. She stretches periodically,  feeling around for contact.  Balling up a fist, she rubs her eyes, then rolls onto her side.

She speaks: “No. Where are you?” With eyes still closed. Just part of her dream, I suppose.

When she wakes, she’ll decline using her potty (but will gladly fetch a diaper from downstairs ).  She’ll help pick her outfit and determine her hat – or helmet – for the day.
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The clarity of her words won’t hamper her insistence to be understood. Hands gesture as she talks in garbled language I try in vain to follow. If important,  she’ll repeat, selecting another way to communicate. Or, she’ll grab my finger into her hand, pulling me as she says, “Come on,” and leads me to her chosen destination.


Spring break has begun.

We left sandwiched into Mom’s car shortly after breakfast.  Although we suffered through a few hours of traffic, once on 85S, our drive was fairly smooth.

Traveling with a trio of littles means we stop often. Luckily, we planned for leisure. No time constraints,  no rush, and no problems.

As hunger struck Ya, we began to search for the best place to dine. Ruby Tuesdays’ all you can eat salad bar won our selection. And we definitely ate (likely making up for missing lunch on the road ). Of course food led immediately to lethargy, and we had to consider which hotel was best.

Equipped with bug spray -just in case – we found an overnight offering breakfast. The bed was luxurious. ..except the company (my girls) slept as though sleep rolling were a competitive sport and it was championship time.  Breakfast,  unfortunately,  was disappointing. Disc shaped microwave eggs,  sausage, yogurt, and hardened donuts, bagels or toast were our selections.

Despite a 12 pm checkout, housekeeping attempted to break in at 10:15am. Thank goodness for that extra door bolt.  We planned to maximize time relaxing before resuming the travel west towards our destination.

Frozen in time: no Disney here

I’ve worked a bit these past two years on shoots alluding to movies of the mainstream variety. I could argue that since I rely quite heavily on the novel descriptions and not on the cinematic adaptations, that I’m shooting my way through popular literature. Very slowly. As in, one or two shoots a year.

Lately, though, I’ve wanted to delve more into editorial shoots without the novelty of popular influence – – namely, capturing fashion and tween-dom in pictures without the fanfare.

Chi reluctantly obliges. And when she does, she insists I “make her up” with a little eye shadow and, ocassionally, some lip color. But the rest is all her – the hair, the poses, the beauty. She is my original muse and the camera loves her.

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Snow day for five

We ordered up a little snow for the five to enjoy.  It started early,  while I sat scrutinizing my peacock painting at Cheers. First, it looked pretty sparse, just a few flakes wafting through the air before settling and melting. But then, they came faster and began to stick. Suddenly, there was a blanket of white.  Traffic slowed, as caution and chaos battled along the roads.
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And when they called closure for school, we decided to explore the few open spaces that remain in the community. We were first to the hill, with our makeshift sleds in hand.  Why can we never find the real sleds when needed?
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Ri wanted no part of the snow or cold, while JD insisted winter was his favorite season.  But when his wet canvas sneakers began to freeze, he was more than happy to escort baby sister home.

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We gave it a good half hour and left the hill when too many would be sledders joined us on the slope.
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