Tuesday, November 24, 2015

If a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words...

Then I just ordered five-million of them.  I'm not kidding.  I have not cleared off my camera card in almost a year, and after receiving a 50% off online coupon from Walgreens I decided now was my moment. 

But there was a time limit on the coupon, so I spent many hours yesterday uploading images and then going through and selecting sizes and quantities, etc.  Then there was a long stretch of trying to place my humongous order which the internet was understandably confused by.

I know I'm rare in actually wanting to print physical photos anymore.  Most people when they show you photos pull out a phone and start swiping at a little screen.  That's fine, and there are certainly advantages to it, but I still like having a physical photo in my hands.  I just do.  I like having an image that doesn't rely on batteries, that I can slip into the pages of a book I'm reading, or keep on my desk.  A printed photo has time-defying properties, and is portable in a way you can hold close and feel connected to. 

So, I like printed photos, and I like to believe other people do too, which means I tend to send packets of photos particularly around the holidays.  I don't expect people to keep them all--just to flip through them for a little while, then pull out their favorites and let the rest go.  It makes me happy to share those memories captured on my little camera and remind people I'm thinking of them. 

But normally I'm better about clearing off my camera card at regular intervals.  This year has been nuts.  I have been more pressed for time than I can think of in recent memory and there has not been a chance to think about photos or update albums or any of that.  So when I looked at my camera card and saw the first photos on it were from Mona's last birthday party, and we just booked our plans for her next one in a couple of weeks, I realized I had to do something or it will be too big a hole to climb my way out of soon and I will never get a handle on photos again.

I uploaded all 3300 photos onto the Walgreens site.  (That took a long time.)  Then I selected which ones I actually wanted to print.  (That took longer.)  There were many photos I didn't bother to print that can wait on my computer just fine, but things that felt important I wanted to have copies of to share. 

The thing is, all the pictures of my dad when he was alive now feel important.  And there are a lot of those.  Not many of them even that good, but I need to have them, and to share them with people who loved him, too.  It hurts to look at them, but it helps at the same time.

And Rivyn was born this year.  How can I not want to print up all the pictures of that adorable baby?  So there are a lot of Rivyn pictures.  And a lot of Rivyn with dad pictures, and these are among the only ones of those that will ever be.  Printing them out grounds those moments a little better in my mind somehow.  I printed out a bunch.

And my kids keep growing and changing and doing interesting things.  I love the pictures of Quinn performing on the grand piano in the recital hall, and the girls doing archery, and biking with Ellora by the lake.  We've been to New York and Ohio and slept in tents and put up a new trampoline and there was just a lot to document.  Photos are the only way I have to make everything that's rushing by slow down a little, even if it's an illusion.

Anyway, by the time I selected everything and hit "Submit Order" I had over 5000 items in my cart.  (And yes, it took a long time and two different online chat helper people before the website could accept what was happening.)

This morning I got a cheerful, but slightly panicked call from someone at Walgreens.  I asked, "Is this about the world's biggest photo order?"

"Yes" she said.  She wanted to make sure I had really meant to do that.  I assured her I did.  She said no one had ever seen a 5000 print photo order and I'd probably set a record.

Then she added, "Well, um, we have a few problems..."  The first was that it was not going to be done this afternoon.  I told her I didn't expect it to be and that was fine.  The second was that they didn't have enough paper to print the order, but they were in the process of going to all the other Walgreens to get more.  Also fine.  The last problem was the one that had her panicked because the photo order only stays in the system for 24 hours, so they have to finish it before the end of the day or it will disappear.  I told her good luck with that, and whatever happens I'd make it work and I appreciate their efforts.

She then started to make suggestions for if I ever do this again, and I assured her I was never, ever going to do this again.  She sounded relieved.

My mom and my kids all want to come with me to pick up the photos when they are ready.  We're all having trouble imagining what a 5000 picture order looks like.  I don't think it will be in the little file bin by the register. 

I'm just hoping I didn't screw up and accidentally order 5000 of the same photo.  If so, at least I will now have all my Christmas cards for the next few years.  And valentines.  And any wallpaper needs covered.

(Oh my god I can't believe I ordered so many photos.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fish Cake!

Well, chocolate cake, anyway, shaped to look like a fish.
I'm not sure why this year Quinn settled on "fish" as a dessert theme for his birthday (even took cupcakes to school with Swedish Fish on them), especially since his party was at a roller skating rink, but the fish cake was easier than the peacock cake, so I didn't mind.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lessons from the Food Pantry

We don't have as many opportunities to volunteer as we'd like (coordinating the schedules of five people in one house with lots of activities is mind-boggling sometimes) but we try when we can to help at a food pantry on the north end of town.  I'm pleased that my kids jump at the chance to go when I can find someone to cover me at work and can arrange to volunteer.  There are lots of important lessons to be learned there.

In this season of food drives and increased interest in charity, I thought I'd take a moment to share what we've learned at the food pantry in the hopes it may help guide people in their giving.  Maybe these are things that only surprised me as I saw what items people in need selected, but maybe it's information others can use as well.

The most popular items on the shelves of the section of the food pantry I've helped with were: cooking oil, cooking spray, flour, sugar, and spices such as cinnamon and garlic powder.

These are things I have never thought to donate, and yet they are the kinds of things I make sure are stocked in my own kitchen all the time.  Why would I think someone else's kitchen would be that different?  I think it comes down to looking around more at what you can spare when you make donations, rather than for what other people actually need.  People coming to the food pantry need the same things we need.  Now I buy extra of those things so I can spare them.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tragedy Limits

I didn't know anything about the terrorist attacks in Paris until late last evening.  I was at work until almost 7:00 and not in touch with the news at all.  I caught something vague about the attacks on Facebook when I opened my laptop to plug it in to the TV so we could watch something on Netflix for movie night.  When I went to bed around 10:00 and checked my computer once more, that was when I realized the extent of what had happened.

I experienced that sad ache that occurs when seeing tragedy in the news.  I can't tell if we're feeling that with greater frequency anymore, or if I've simply been alive long enough that such stories are having a cumulative effect.  My first thought was for the people who are now dealing with unexpected loss, and next for people who needlessly died in fear.

I hate the senselessness of events like this one.  I am sad for victims of natural disasters who suffer great loss as well, but pointless stunts like this where people are the instigators of the suffering of others is also infuriating.  I'm sad, but I'm also angry.  I wish those feelings mixed together weren't so familiar.  I don't want to form opinions and make decisions based on fear or anger.  I remember after 9/11 wanting someone to hurt for what they did.  I don't want to feel that way again.  Revenge is never good policy.

As I was reading news reports coming into the BBC site, it suddenly hit me that my brother was supposed to be in Paris this weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Do Something Real

This post may come off as a bit snarky.  It's not intended to be.  It's hard to explain some levels of annoyance without it sounding churlish, and I don't ever mean to mock someone who is being sincere in their expressions.  But you can't do better until you know better, and this is my space for sharing what I know, so here goes.

I am irritated with empty gestures on Veteran's Day.  The latest one is a "green light campaign" where people are supposed to screw in a green light bulb to let veterans know... I'm not sure what.  That they are thought of?  In what way?  Don't flags already do that?  Are we done spending money on yellow ribbon magnets and we need to spend money pointlessly on something else?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Beautiful Day for a Biopsy

Well, it was a beautiful day, anyway.  We've had a gorgeous week here, all in the upper-sixties/low-seventies.  I would have loved to have gone biking along the lake, or even spent a nice hour sitting outside, but I've had to be content with simply having my front door to the store open while I admire the sunshine from my workbench.  Quinn and I took a walk the other evening to pick up things at Target and marveled the whole way that we didn't need jackets.  I love a warm day in fall.
Anyway, I decided I really didn't have much choice other than to just do the next biopsy.  It makes sense to rule out cancer, and the whole thing has been going on too long not to try to find an explanation.  But I dreaded it.

It hurt.  I cried during the procedure because of the pain.  I cried at the mammogram afterward because... I'm not sure why.  I was feeling emotional I suppose.  I hate crying in public, but once you start it's hard to stop.

Monday, November 2, 2015

That Hopeless Feeling and Knowing Better

I'm in that awful limbo of feeling tired and frustrated and stuck, and still knowing I should appreciate how much I have.  Nothing is terrible.  But nothing feels quite right, either.

I'm stressed about my breast issue, which never completely went away.  It's improved since July, and I'm not in pain, but after three ultrasounds, two aspirations, and a mammogram they want to do another biopsy and I just don't want to.  I get wanting to rule out cancer, but I don't think it is cancer, and I don't want to go through all that discomfort again just to be back at square one.  But it's hard to know what to do and all of it is upsetting.  I don't feel like there are people I can talk to about it without upsetting them, too.

We have been struggling with the high school application process for Aden.  In Milwaukee you apply to go anywhere, and a few schools (like the High School of the Arts) require additional hoops to jump through, and that has been stressful.  The school issues with Aden in general have been frustrating.  Only other parents going through something similar seem to understand how little control over any of that we have.  Everyone else just seems judgy, which never helps.