One second, every day

I'm probably late to the party on this one but one of my favorite apps lately is 1 Second Everyday*, a phone app that helps you take little video snippets of your life and stitch them together chronologically to make a movie. (If you saw the movie Chef, the son used this app in making the movie of his dad's food truck.) 

You might be thinking that the last thing you need is another app or reason to take more photos/movies but I promise this one is easy peasy. No need to think up cleverly worded posts, no fiddling with things at the time you're filming, no need to pose or think about likes or followers. Just take a few frames of video now and then (the more candid and random the better) and later (you don't even have to do it that day) you choose which clip to represent the day and upload it to the app. There's something magical about capturing the lovely, mundane everyday moments as they fly by--and then seeing them in one cohesive movie.

You can also create other projects not based on the one-a-day format. When we went away this long Easter weekend (Australia takes a four-day holiday), I decided to do one to remember our time together:


*not a sponsored post, I just love to spread the joy

The Boys Outback

Last week Sam and G embarked on a four day backpacking trip to explore the highest places in Australia. They had planned and looked forward to it for weeks--packed and marked maps and made lists and shopped and gear checked and off they went. (And yet even as I snapped this picture and waved goodbye, visions of lost campers and injured hikers danced in my worried head. Imagination is so fun!)

Once they were in the Snowy Mountains they faced a day or two of 70 kph winds so had to revise their journey plans midway (hooray for flexipositivity). But they had a terrific trip and ended up summiting five of the tallest peaks on the continent. They would be quick to add that the mountains are all grouped together and admittedly on the small side compared to other continental giants. But still. I was home working in my comfy clothes (and, yes okay, sometimes binge watching Scott & Bailey) so I'm duly impressed.

Sam made a video of the short clips he filmed throughout the trip. I think I've replayed it ten times--it makes me happy and a bit mama verklempt. It's like that father and son time traveling scene on the beach in About Time--these are the moments they will remember and mentally time-travel. Also? What a spectacularly gorgeous place this planet is:

Slightly related note: don't you love this Apple ad? I love seeing the world through their eyes.

Now dehibernating

Hello friends! I've been looking forward to jumping back in here, compiling mental lists and things to tell you, and yet I'm suddenly feeling inexplicably awkward and nervous as I sit here writing this.  It feels kind of like going back to school after a long break--will my friends still be the same? Are rainbow shirts/leg warmers/Guess jeans still in? Will we all still sit at the same lunch table? 

Anyway, I've started three different posts here but I think what I'll do is catch up a little on a few highlights of our last few weeks before I delve into some of the other thoughts patiently waiting (or more possibly shimmying and doing the limbo) in my head. Posts for another day.

Remember how we went to the US for a month at Christmastime? Because we were going to be there that long, we knew we would want to have a home base rather than be nomadic (or impose on longsuffering relatives) that whole time. We really lucked out with this rental--the top floor of a barn made into a lovely guest house that the owners rent out when their own guests aren't visiting. It was heated by this fabulous Swedish tile stove in the center of the cabin; we definitely earned our firestarting merit badges in that month. The kids each had their own lofts with beds and there was even a swing right there next to the fireplace. We'll definitely be back.

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We wanted to fill up on time with family, since we're so far away from our people all the rest of the year. We managed to squeeze in a couple of local friend visits, too, but this one was mostly about getting our family fix. 

Visiting my grandparents at their house

Visiting my grandparents at their house

Sam and my grandma, bookends on four generations

Sam and my grandma, bookends on four generations

All of my siblings were home this Christmas--lots of movies and music and games and laughing.  This photo (of my brother Chris and my dad) pretty much sums it up:

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We got to Skype with Lauren on Christmas. She sounded so good and seems really happy, confident and older. We managed to hold it together until the very end, when we valiantly tried to sing her a Christmas carol but it ended up a sad little mess of a song through our tears. I have never mastered the skill of singing through tears, have you? I need lessons.

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We took the kids skiing for their first time ever. It took a couple of weeks for the snow to arrive but then we hit the local resort where G and I both learned. (I used Sarah's list of gear and it worked like a charm.) Skiing's tough--I remember hating it my first couple of times--but they were troopers, starting from scratch with a new skill/sport in their ripe old teen years. (We did spring for a private instructor because they were not at all interested in the bunny hill school with the little kids.) They really got the hang of it and at least neither of them swore they'd never return to ski again.

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We also tried cross-country skiing. We were total newbies and it showed. As Maddy said, for us this could better be called "synchronized falling." Lots of maniacal falling and uncontrollable laughing. Not a good combination for being able to get back up. Maddy got a shot of this one, featuring G and me. I think we look like we are (or wish we are) at the beach:

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And now, back in summery Australia, I'm surfing the wave of jetlag (early rising, early fading) and feeling recharged and ready for my mundane, stay-put, lovely life again.  I say a big amen to this Ann Patchett line: "I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again." 

So that's where I've been. How about you? 

. . .

p.s. Man, I'm paying the price for my willy-nilly holiday eating. It was the Tour of Food, y'all, and I was the groupie, number one fan, and tour guide all in one!  Time to pay the piper--and apparently the piper likes to be paid in green leafy veggies, moderation, water, restraint, and exercise. 




Selfie esteem

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

- Wendell Berry, "The Vacation" 

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We just finished our spring school holidays here. As an early birthday present, Maddy accompanied G on a business trip to the states so she could (a) tour some universities she's in love with/dreaming of attending and (b) also visit her friends at her old school. Sam and I were on our own here so I gave him free reign (rein?) to choose something  as a consolation prize (if you can call it a prize, going somewhere with your mom when you're a 15-year-old boy)  and he opted to head to the Blue Mountains for a few days of hiking and adventuring. 

Hiking, yes, and instagramming/recording our way through the scenery. If a hike happens in a forest and no one instagrams it, does it really happen? As Wendell Berry asks, can you really be in a vacation if you are constantly recording it? It's a balance, the making of memories and the recording them.

I'm usually the one behind the camera (and prefer it that way, really!) but every once in a while I try to make sure to document my presence. Otherwise my kids will grow up and say, "Man, isn't it great my dad took us so many places. I mean, where's my mom? Did she ever even come on one of these things? I guess she just couldn't be bothered, huh?" Turning over the camera to someone else is an option, sure, but it's still tricky to get a shot you like and it's uncomfortable to ask for do-overs and adjustments (why yes, I do have some control issues, why do you ask?).

Enter the selfie.

I'm a reluctant selfie-er, really. It's a rare moment that I flip that camera around. As my friend Trina said, "Selfies...either a self esteem killer or boost." Mine are usually the killer variety, truth be told. And I feel vulnerable and silly even before I look at the shot. 

Look, kids. I was here. I was in it. Now, here, let me take a picture of you. 

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Do you have a selfie opinion? How often are you in the picture?  Do you ever feel conflicted over the balance of living life and recording of life? 


Some great reads on selfies (via Longreads): 

p.s. If you are in the Blue Mountains of Australia, don't miss the National Pass trail. Spectacular. Selfies optional.