Meagan Musing: February 2013

Meagan Musing


Preschool Bentos - Weeks 20 & 21

Sometimes when I throw food away, whether it's in the kitchen trash or down the garbage disposal, I actually envision money flying out the back door.

Now, I'm not particularly frugal when it comes to shopping and my budgeting skills leave a LOT to be desired, but I really hate throwing away perfectly good food. It's just such a waste!

The fact that I almost never have to throw out uneaten food from Andrew's lunchbox makes me so happy. Some days I do have food leftover from the actual prepping of the lunch - mostly the extra bread on cut sandwiches, but I justify this by knowing that he'd probably toss the crust anyway.

And if it's scraps of cheese, turkey or peanut butter and jelly, well, they never see the trash! I usually scoop them right up and add them to my breakfast for the day - ha! Or often I feed cheese pieces to Caroline. She's never met a cheese she didn't love.

So while we might waste way too much food in some areas - does anyone really excel at meal planning? If you do, please tell me about it! - my kids' lunches are not one of them.

I've also found that this bento style lunch prep has spilled over into our dinner foods. If it's one of those nights where I've failed meal planning 101, I can give the kids a little bit of this and a little bit of that, jazz it up with some cute cuts or a little food pick, and they're happy to come to the table!

Caroline is a toddler so some nights make me want to pull my hair out, but for the most part they eat really well. And I'm so thankful for that!

Tuesday, February 19

We are solidly in a Cutie phase and I love it. They're so yummy and Andrew loves them. At home I let him peel them, but I do it for him for lunch. Also, it's way cuter. :)

Thursday, February 21

This meal was a bit of an experiment  He loves little smokeys, but we limit them. And he hadn't ever had them cold so he wasn't sure he'd like them. So I sent a pb&j too just in case, but he ate it all. I don't know if we'll do them again or not though. The little stars are just a fruit strip. I have to stick them to the bread with a little jelly, but they stay!

Tuesday, February 26

Whoa! I sent Caroline to Mother's Day Out! She hadn't been in ages, but she had a blast. Her sweet teachers were happy to see her, and I think she was excited to go. She wasn't even sad when I left her behind. I love that I can use these little flower cups with Caroline. Somehow I don't think Andrew would appreciate them as much. :) She had ham roll-ups, grapes and strawberries and raisins, goldfish and yogurt melts.

Andrew had superhero sandwiches. He's on a huge superhero kick right now, with his Superhero party just around the corner. He also had grapes, yogurt covered raisins, pita chips and ketchup for dipping inside the little Lego box.

Thursday, February 28

I got a few new cups for food packing this week and they're all nice primary colors. They'll be great for boy lunches! They're from this big box I ordered on Amazon. There's no way I'll use them all so I'm sharing half of them with my sister. Sharing is a great way to help cut down on the cost of some of these items that come in big packs.

Andrew loves apples slices with peanut butter so I included some today but I soaked my apples in lemon water before I packed them. He assured me they were still delicious at lunchtime!

As always, almost all of my bento supplies are from Bento USA.

Happy lunching friends!

Labels: ,


Lens Length Comparison

I've had a few questions about the differences between a 35mm and an 85mm lens and what the various focal lengths mean for your photos so I thought I'd try to give y'all a quick lens overview.

There are three general categories of lenses: zoom, prime or fixed, and telephoto.

Zoom lenses are just what their name implies. You can change the length of your lens on your camera - no need to move closer or back away from your subject to change the scene. Some examples of popular lengths are 28mm-70mm or a wider 16mm-35mm. I have a Tamron 28mm-75mm f/2.8 that is wonderful for vacations or day trips. It will work in a variety of situations and you won't spend half the day switching out your lens.

Prime or fixed lenses are a set focal length. In order to change the scene you have to move your feet, getting closer or backing away from your subject. Good examples are the "nifty-fifty", the 85mm and the dreamy 135mm.

Telephoto lenses are typically zooms, they are adjustable lengths, but they are really long. These lenses are often used for sports or wildlife photography. When my kids get old enough for team sports I'll probably want to invest in a good telephoto like this 100mm-400mm to help me capture the action on the field from the bleachers.

So what should you look for in a lens?

Some people prefer to shoot with zoom lenses all the time because of the increased flexibility. I personally prefer a fixed focal length. I can't say why for sure except that maybe I just like to know ahead of time what the scene will look like when I look through the viewfinder. Also, prime lenses are usually a little sharper than zooms. There are fewer moving parts and they can focus just a little quicker than a zoom.

Focal length also plays a roll in how much of your scene is in focus.

Let's look more closely at these photos of my wild children in the backyard. :) I set it up to keep my settings and the distance between the camera and subjects the same. Also, these are pretty bad photos, but they do the trick for what I wanted to share.

Here's my wide-angle 16mm example.

16mm / 1/800 / f/2.8 / ISO 640
There's way too much going on in this photo. You really don't want to see this much of my backyard. :) And most of it's in focus even with the wide open aperture of f/2.8.

When would a 16mm lens be awesome? At the beach. In the mountains. At sunset in an open field. I bought the 16mm-35mm f/2.8L before our beach trip last fall, and I had so much fun with it. It's a great lens!

35mm / 1/800 / f/2.8 / ISO 640
We're pulled in a little more here. There's still too much going on, but it's less pronounced than the 16mm example. I leave my prime 35mm f/1.4L on my camera all the time. It's a great length on my Canon 7D which is a crop sensor. It's perfect for indoor shots. I can get really close to my subject (my kids) and can still get a big enough aperture - I often shoot at f/2.0 - to blur the background quite a bit.

50mm / 1/800 / f.2.8 / ISO 640
The 50mm focal length is a very natural length. It captures the scene pretty closely to what your eyes see. The "nifty fifty" is a great starting out lens because it's a good length and opens up to a f/1.8 aperture allowing you to get a blurrier background than a lens that stops at a f/4 or f/5.6 like a kit lens, but it's super affordable.

85mm / 1/800 / f/2.8 / ISO 640
The 85mm lens on a crop sensor is getting kind of long. I'm standing a long way back from Caroline, but she's clearly popping off the background. You can get pretty good bokeh with an 85mm lens, and it's a great portrait lens because of this. I've been enjoying this lens a lot lately as we've been playing outside more often with our pretty weather. This is a tricky lens to use indoors. You have to put quite a bit of distance between you and your subject so it's really more useful for an outdoor setting.

I hope this helps to clear up your lens length questions. There are a lot of wonderful lenses out there. If you're shopping for a new lens my best advice is to decide what its primary use will be and then get the very best lens you can afford in that category.

I know it's a lot to think about so please leave any questions in the comments, and I'll be happy to get back to you!

Or you can like me on Facebook too! :)



On a Weekend...

The kids are in swimming on Saturday mornings this spring. It makes for kind of crazy Saturdays, but while Caroline and Brian swim, Andrew and I have ended up with some one-on-one time.

This is a rare treat for us, and it's been so fun.

Last Saturday we went to Society Bakery to get cupcakes for Brian's birthday. Andrew was so sweet and we sat outside at a little bistro table while he finished his free sample - yes they had free cupcake samples!

Also? Ombré cake.

This Saturday we ran up to Pottery Barn Kids to buy a baby gift and just one thing for Andrew. He picked out an awesome Batman book.

While we were there Peter Rabbit showed up!

Andrew was so cute. He jumped right up there on his lap like he sat with a bunny everyday. He said, "Mom! He has a giant carrot!" I loved it, and was so glad we just happened to be there and that I had him dressed in a cute outfit. :) You just never know!

It felt like spring today with warm sunshine and a cool breeze. I went to a baby shower and then took Andrew to a birthday party this afternoon. After all that partying we decided we needed a dinner out and it needed to be on a patio. My Dallas friends can attest that the Gloria's patio and a margarita on a spring day really can't be beat.

It's a little different now, what with the constant requests for new tic-tack-toe games and the need to keep Caroline from drowning in the black bean dip, but still. It was awesome. And my kids were quiet and well behaved.

Is there much more you can ask for from a dinner out with two small children?

I hope your weekend was filled with the things you love the most!


Labels: , , , , ,


Family Music Favorites

The TV used to be on in our house all the time. I didn't like for it to be too quiet around here so the background noise was nice.

Then we had Andrew and our house was never quiet again. Ha!

So while we leave the TV off most of the day now, we do listen to music all the time. Everyone loves a good dance party and the right music can completely transform our day. It can help us burn off energy or right a bad attitude.

Gloomy gray cold morning? How about a little Mumford & Sons to get us going?

Crazy evening trying to get dinner on the table? Let's sit down to Jewel's Sammy the Spider.

I'm a little weird and don't really mind kids music, but I like to mix in some grown up stuff too. Luckily Andrew's still young enough to miss most of the nuanced lyrics so as long as there's no swearing or explicit stuff it's not really off limits yet.

And he loves Coconut Records' Nighttiming so much. He does a jig every time Babel comes on and we all love Jewel's soft voice singing Comin' 'Round the Mountain.

Baby Beluga has been a favorite of ours since Andrew's toddler music class. We used to sing the whole song - from memory - every night before bed. And while we don't do that anymore thank goodness, he still picks it out almost every time we ask him to play DJ. You can't go wrong with any Raffi music in my opinion.

Seeing the affect a good song can have on my kids has been so fun for me. A little family dance party is good for the soul. :)

What is your favorite music to share with your kiddos?

Labels: , ,


Eighteen Months

My sweet Caroline turned 18 months old last Friday.

She's pretty pumped about it all.

Actually, this photo sums her up really well.

Caroline is funny, spunky, busy, smart, silly, daring and loving.

At 18 months her list of loves includes climbing up her high chair and standing in it, insisting that she not wear pants unless she's put them on even though she can't really get them on right, eating fruit, nuts and cheese, sleeping with two loveys or "wa-was", making Andrew laugh and saying "no" a million times a day.

She can tell you what sounds a dog, sheep, duck and dinosaur make and she loves to point out your eyes and nose and ears.

She weighs 23 pounds and she's 31 3/4 inches long.

She begs to wear a bow every morning and then keeps it in hair for about 5 minutes before she rips it out and plays with it.


She still wakes up to nurse most nights, and I think I might lose my mind about it soon. For the longest time I was able to go right back to sleep but lately my mind wakes up, and I can't go back to sleep and I'm up for an hour and that's just not going to work. So I need to do something about it. ::sigh:: We'll see.

She likes to read books and she loves Elmo, but she calls him Melmo which is adorable. She has fabulous dance moves, throwing her hands up in the air and party rockin'. She does it anytime she hears music whether it's in the car, on a TV commercial or we're having a dance party at home.

Caroline is on a pretty good schedule. She wakes up about 7:30, naps around noon - 2PM, and is in bed by 7:30. She loves to eat meals, but also snacks a ton throughout the day.

She's already telling me when her diaper is wet or dirty which is amazing to me. Andrew didn't do that 'till way closer to his second birthday, but there's no way I'm even thinking of potty training her for a long, long time.

In my mind she's still a baby, but she's really not. I'm pretty sure I thought Andrew was really big at 18 months. It is so funny to think about him so little now.

It blows my mind that she'll be two later this year.

She might be the little sister, but she has a big, big personality.

And we love her to the moon and back.

Labels: ,


Portaits in the Backyard

My 35mm f/1.4L is on my camera about 90% of the time these days. It's a wonderful lens with rich, full color and it's so sharp and quick to focus. It's perfect for the everyday lifestyle photos that I generally shoot. I really, really love it.

But last week I switched it out for my 85mm f/1.8 for an afternoon. It's pretty long on my crop sensor, but it was fun and it's so different than my 35mm.

Chubby baby wrists...mmmmm. :)

We're getting him a bike for his birthday. He's going to be so excited get off of this toddler sized tricycle.

The bokeh on a longer lens is so creamy.

Most of these are straight out of camera too, just resizing and a little sharpening for web.

This lens also has magical powers to turn my children into big kids. They're so grown up looking in all of these.

I don't know how it happened.

So I'm challenging myself to switch it up more. I'm going to use my 85mm outside for the next few weeks, while keeping my 35mm on my camera for indoor/playtime shots.

I'm hoping it sparks a little creativity in me. Sometimes we all need a little change of pace.

Labels: , ,


Preschool Lunch Bentos - Weeks 17, 18 & 19

It's time for another installment of What's for Lunch!

I only have lunches for Andrew these last few weeks. Poor Caroline has a cold that just won't quit. I think it may be a combination of teeth, allergies and the winter blahs, but it hasn't been worth it for me to send her to Mother's Day Out these last weeks. So we've enjoyed a little extra mama and me time. I think it's been good for both of us.

Thursday, January 31

Andrew had ham, ketchup and mustard, graham sticks, star shaped naan bread, and a tangerine with a strawberry slice. I stuck a few of these little circus animals in and packed it in our frog box.

Tuesday, February 5

Andrew had transportation pb&j's using these little stampers, graham sticks, a cheese stick and lots of kishu mandarins. I also used his initials and a little food separator to keep the cheese stick away from the crackers.

This was also our first day to use the new Lego box. Andrew loves it! I wish it were a teeny tiny bit taller, because my silicone cups don't fit well inside. But it's cute and holds a good amount of food.

Thursday, February 7

I found my heart cups! Andrew had a cold turkey dog (I sounds so gross, but he asks for them all the time.) with ketchup, crackers and heart shaped cheese, peanut butter celery and grapes. This was his favorite lunch in weeks. The turkey dogs get him every time. :) This was packed in our Yubo Lunchbox insert which I love. It's really versatile.

Tuesday, February 12

Valentine's week. Time to go all out! Andrew had ham and ketchup and heart shaped strawberries in our heart cups. I packed them on the heart picks that I found at Michael's for $1. They're perfect for lunches! He also had pretzels, peanut butter crackers and yogurt with micro heart sprinkles.

Thursday, February 14

Today's lunch was packed in the new Lego box. It wasn't quite as Valentine's themed as I'd planned, but it was still fun. He had a peanut butter and jelly heart sandwich with a smaller heart cut-out filled with sprinkles and heart shaped strawberries. He also had green grapes, a few cashews packed in these adorable fruit cups, (I should have used the cherry) and pretzels. I threw in a few heart and love picks and called it a day.

If I'd known how much sugar he was going to consume today I'd have left off the sprinkles even though they made for such a pretty sandwich. :)

Don't forget you can see all our lunches in my Flickr gallery. I love to go back and see them all together. It's great for ideas when I'm trying to figure out what to do with my bread in the mornings before school.

I hope you all had wonderful Valentine's Days filled with love, hearts and way too much sugar!


Labels: ,

Catch Me If You Can at Fair Park

Brian and I had our Valentine's Day celebration a little early this year. On Tuesday we headed to
opening night of Catch Me If You Can at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Y'all, it was so much fun!

Here's where I have to admit that I never, ever watch movies. They're just such a time commitment, and I have a hard time sitting still for that long. But Brian loves movies, and he had seen Catch Me If You Can so he knew the story.

But even though he knew what to expect, and I just knew Leonardo DiCaprio looked good running through airports, we both loved the show. :)

This new Broadway musical is based on the 2002 movie which tells the incredible true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., who runs away from home with nothing more than his boyish good looks and a whole lot of confidence. Lots of splashy hijinks ensue!

The chorus girls were fabulous. Frank was charming and Detective Hanratty was hysterical. I also really enjoyed the way they had the stage set up with the orchestra up high and included in the show rather than down in the pit.

If you're in Dallas, go buy your tickets now! Catch Me If You Can will be in town through February 24th. You will not be disappointed!


Disclosure: DSM provided our family with two tickets to see Catch Me If You Can, but all opinions here are mine.

Labels: ,



Brian's sweet old Granny passed away on Thursday and we left the kids and headed to Houston to be with his mom on Friday evening.

My mom is at our house with my kiddos. This is the first time I've left either of them over night since Caroline was born.

I'd hoped our first weekend away from them would be for a quick trip to New York or maybe a few days in Napa sipping the best of the best.

But here we are, supporting family, which is so very important to us.

And I hear the kids are doing fine.

Caroline has a cough and a cold and her top canines are thisclose to breaking through. I could see their tiny points yesterday morning. So I think she had a tough time falling asleep last night, but she slept through the night and woke up happy, so that was good news.

I slept in until 8:30 - woohoo! And the college me is rolling on the floor laughing thinking of 8:30 as sleeping in.

We'll be home late Sunday night, three bedtimes away from the kids.

I will be so very happy to wake up to their soft footsteps and squeals on Monday morning.

Labels: , , ,


Toddler Times

I've finally started Caroline at weekly Gymboree classes.

Andrew and I went to Gymboree every week for almost two years. We didn't give it up until he was too old to go. I felt like the classes were so good for him. He learned to stand in line and wait his turn and play nicely with other kids. And he had a blast and burned off tons of energy.

I thought for sure I would have started Caroline way earlier, but here we are at almost 18 months and we're just now getting there. It's harder the second time around y'all.

I look at her and she's so big. Why is my baby sliding down the slides and climbing on everything and making the biggest messes that take forever to clean up? Oh. She's not much of a baby anymore.

It's hard though because I compare her to Andrew and compared to him she is just a baby, and I think this is keeping me from treating her like a toddler. I'm sure she's getting away with way more than I would have let Andrew get away with at this age.

Like I let her stand up in the chair at the kitchen table, and I don't tell her not to bounce all over the couch. I would have never let Andrew get away with that! But I guess I've learned what the small stuff really is and not to sweat it.

Or maybe I'm just too darn busy keeping up with the both of them to do anything about all that small stuff.

Yep. That's probably much more likely. :)

And oh my word - I'd forgotten how INSANE these early toddler months can really be.

Most evenings I sit down, take a deep breath and realize I've spent my day with a tiny tornado, full of destruction and energy and no defined path. But then she will say "nigh nigh" and lay her head on my shoulder and snuggle in and pat my chest with her chubby baby hand and I'm so in love.

(Yesterday she repeated, "I lub ooooo." Heart, melted.)

I know she'll be out of these out-of-control months soon enough, and I'll miss them. But right now I'm hoping a little Gymboree time will help narrow her path of destruction. :)

Labels: , ,


My "Craft Room"

My poor dining room used to be a pretty room. And now it's doubling as my "craft room".

I try to keep all this stuff in our study, but that's kind of Brian's room and he works in there at night after the kids are in bed so somehow all my crafty project stuff has been landing in here recently.

Let's take a closer look:

Here's the tube that holds my new Printsagram poster. It's waiting on a frame. I'm either going to buy one and paint it or build one, but I don't have one yet. So it's hanging out in the dining room.

Also pictured is my Silhouette Cameo. I love it so much, but it doesn't really have a home. I've been storing it in the study, but there's not a great spot for it, and I have to haul it to the kitchen when I want to use it. Not really ideal, so here it is in the dining room.

This is a sign I've been painting for weeks. I made a set of two, but didn't like the way one turned out so I decided to start over. Ugh. It's like the project that never ends. But I'm happy to report I finished these this weekend. They are finally ready to hang on our back patio. And they are out of the dining room. Whew.

I'm working on Andrew's valentines and it's all currently sitting out. I just hate to put it all away before I finish, but it takes me a long time to finish things these days. So - here it is in the dining room.

I ordered this little bottle holder from One Kings Lane a week or two ago. It's so pretty, but I haven't found its new home. So, it too is waiting in the dining room.

I think the moral of this story is that I need to clean up after myself.

And I need a basement. :)

Labels: , ,