beginning to look a bit like christmas

I was an only grandchild until I was 13. While I enjoyed the way my grandparents loved to spoil me, family gatherings were always a little lonely, so by the time my uncle's first child was born, I was thrilled about the new additions. My cousins are the closest things I have to siblings; my aunt & uncle are like second parents to me. The problem is that they're in Minnesota, and I'm in Michigan, so I don't get to see them more than a few times a year, if I'm lucky. 2007 was a lucky year - I saw them in September, and then I visited twice in December - once to see the girls in The Nutcracker (Kristin was an angel; Dani was the "clapping mouse") and once at Christmas. These photos are from the first trip, only a week before my mom and I returned for the holiday.


Bradley (age 10), Kristin (age 8), and a friend, Samuel (age circa 5), spent about half an hour one afternoon sledding down a gentle slope in the backyard. Estimated angle of slope: 10 degrees, tops. They didn't care, though. 1/200, f/14, ISO 200.


Sometimes, the best part of sledding is falling off the sled - on purpose. They kept hoping I would chuck my camera aside and join them, but I couldn't make them understand that when I get cold and wet, I turn into my evil twin. No one wants that. 1/200, f/14, ISO 200.


This is Hannah, younger sister of the aforementioned Samuel. My aunt was technically babysitting these kids for her friend, but for most of the time that Hannah was awake, I was helping my cousins pretend to babysit her. I also got some great photos of her, although I still haven't figured out how to work with the lighting (or lack thereof) in my aunt & uncle's house. 1/100, f/1.8, ISO 1600.

gingerbread house

I was put in charge of supervising the annual creation of the gingerbread house. Please don't ever make me frost one of these again. But once I got the roof frosted without throwing the the house through the sliding glass door in the kitchen, and once the kids stopped telling me, "Melanie, you're not good at this; Mommy can do it better," they had a great time finishing the decorations. It even turned out kind of cute. This is my favourite photo from the gingerbread house shoot, because of the way that Dani (age 6) is holding her brother's arm - totally candid. 1/100, f/3.5, ISO 800.


So the kids don't usually listen to me when I tell them to ignore my camera. Most of the time, I get cheesy grins and bunny ears. But sometimes, I get gems like this, while we were frosting Christmas cookies. (My aunt bakes a lot. She's not related to my mom and I.) I have a bad habit of aiming my camera toward their patio door, so the lighting on this isn't what I'd like it to be, but I'm trying to embrace it. 1/100, f/3.5, ISO 400.

Next time: probably another skating show, actually. I'm getting so predictable. But at least I'm really on the ball with the updates, and soon I'll be caught up, and then I can start taking pictures of random things again.

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