Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pro Gig - Lessons Learned

This weekend, I enjoyed the good fortune of snapping photos for my first ever professional job. I feared that I would be nervous - I'm the nervous type - until my mom reminded me that I take photos in this venue all the time. The job was to photograph a party --- an anniversary party to be exact. But the concept of party photography I have done countless times. Mostly at school. Of children familiar with my lens in their face and in love with hamming it up for me. But still, successfully!

Once I realized the similarity, I took a deep breath and convinced myself not to be so nervous!

I asked to see the location prior to the event. Pretty smart on my part, I thought. I wanted to check out lighting (any northern-exposed windows for natural light?) primarily, but it was also good to know where the festivities would take place.

In hindsight, I wish I'd been more direct about encouraging natural light. Or at the very least be more direct about posing photos in front of that northern exposed window. In fact, next time I think I'll be more direct, period. I tried to be a sort of candid fly on the wall - staying in the background (yeah right, as my camera went clickety clickety click!!!). But, and as I peruse the photos, I wish I'd asked the anniversary couple to tilt their heads together. To give me a smile...In reality, the pictures I took of the happy duo appear quite American Gothic. Which, of course, has it's own artistic intrigue. Yet, not necessarily the charming look I was going for.

I also asked what specific shots the hostess desired. I think I covered this concept successfully. I took candid and posed photos - I captured some sweet moments of a mama and her boys kissing her sweet face. (Daddy's in Iraq, so I want those to be smashingly good!) I snapped countless photos of hands (I love hands!) - particularly one that I adore where the couple's granddaughter (fuzzy in the background) held out a seashell (in focus) --- I love this look! Who knows if they'll like it, but I went for the traditional - and what was requested of me - and the less traditional --- what I've seen in books and online that I think make intriguing images.

The reality is, I spend quite a bit of my night time looking at images online of photographs/photographers I admire. I peruse books, looking for the angles I like that I hadn't previously considered. And I have a LOT to learn.

I'm frustrated by the photography learning curve. I suppose if it were easy, however, everyone would be doing it...much like a marathon, as BigDaddy would relate. {I finished running 17 miles just 45 minutes before the start of my ProGig! HELLO!}

Still, I am grateful for the opportunity to practice. For a first timer, I learned some things. I'll keep practicing. And that's what will help make me better at this li'l hobby of mine.

Monday, February 22, 2010

God Took the Binky

Sasha is a binky girl.

It's just true.

She loves it.
We have been able to sanction it to nap- and bed-times only, but she's tricky, that one. Sometimes, she'll place it in her bed at just the spot where a little toss of the pillow and a tug across the sheets and she's got her nubby back in her lips. Of course, we always send her straight back to her room to put it away again. And, usually, she does.

Apparently, some other times, however, she hides it in a secret place that only she knows. And when we aren't watching, when she needs a little extra security or a drag on that bink, she's unseen for a while until I find her hiding in the boys' room with it in her mouth.

Yesterday, Daddy told Sash to put her binky back in bed.

We don't know where she put it.

And neither does she.

Needless to say, last night, at bedtime, it was ugly.

There was much crying and gnashing of teeth.

And then, Sashi's crying started.

In an effort to assuage the anguish, I told Sash about the day Pookie and T decorated a small brown box with markers and stickers. How they gently {and lovingly} placed their binkies inside. And how they marched their box to the front of church. And left it on the altar. Where all the binkies go for God to give to the next generation of babies.

I gently suggested, as I wiped away the tears, perhaps it was Sasha's turn - to place her binky in the box - so to speak - and learn to sleep without it.

This morning, in all her 2 years of infinite wisdom, Sasha acknowledged that she'd slept through the night. That she'd fallen asleep for the first time without her security system.

"Yah. I know," she lamented. "God took my binky. And He didn't give it back."

Hmmmm...not exactly the take-away I was going for...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

40 Bags in 40 Days

I contemplated calling this post:
It's a 'Coffee's On' Lent!

Cuz if you know me, you know that for 5 years in a row, I've given up Bread Co. and Icee Mochas, specifically, for Lent. And then you know that some years I was more successful at this than others.

This year, I'm drinking the coffee. I am, after-all, running 16-18 miles (consecutively) in just a few days. What Forgiving Lord wouldn't want me to have coffee before doing that to myself?

That being said, my Catholic friend once told me that her mom added things during Lent rather than subtracting. With the end goal truly being to develop a closer relationship to Christ, I decided that would work for me this year, too.

So, I began The Love Dare. Which truly teaches us to Love our spouse as Jesus loves His bride.

And what muddles up one's clarity - clearly seeing and searching for Him - than chaos? Mental chaos. Physical chaos. Chaos. So, for 40 days, I will be bagging up 40 bags of stuff, things, messes, dirt, junk, whatever I need to to relieve my life of a little bit more of the excess that isn't. To make way for The One Who Is.

Look at that first pic again. You were distracted by the cutie. Did you see the chaos all around her?

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, lemme assure you.

P.S. Thanks, Sarah, for the idea!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Dare

Edited: I really was exhausted last night - so I put together this post without any links. Now we're linked up! Participating in The Love Dare really means purchasing a book (here is a sample chapter). You might consider seeing the movie, but this book is a guide with journaling pages that will walk you through the 40 day journey.

The Love Dare from Mike Stecker on Vimeo.

Now, here's my Dare to you:

I have been beyond exhausted all day - and am not long for the awake world, but I wanted to issue a challenge to you all out there ... my regular readers (I love you!) and the droppers-by (Howdy/Welcome/Beinvenue!) ...

One year ago, during the Lenten season - 40 days - I completed the Love Dare. I did not tell my husband. I didn't have to do it. Maybe in a way I needed to do it, but I didn't need to do it...

And it changed everything.

My marriage has been better than ever.
And it took a commitment of 40 days ... and really, BigDaddy noticed within 3 days. But the changes I saw in myself and my attitude towards him and our marriage have been so remarkable that I am going to complete The Dare again. This Lenten Season.

And I challenge you to do it, as well.

Talking to my pastor recently, and through talking to other women, I am stricken with how our marriages are suffering today. I encourage you to consider completing The Love Dare alongside me. Perhaps we can share ideas/encouragement while we're at it.

I'm thrilled to get started. Again.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Boy Do I Feel Like A Fool

So, in keeping with the theme here,

I *heart* The Mehlville Fire Department.

Tonite, after our frantic trip to WalMart to find Valentine's suitable for the kids' class parties tomorrow, I came inside the house to a horrible smell.

The house smelled like burnt wires.

I ran from room to room, eyeing the outlets, the lighting, the ceilings.
I saw nothing.

Before Christmas, a house near ours had a fire - one that started in the chimney and spread through the house within 15 minutes.

I ran outside and scoured the roofline. I came back inside and went through the basement, sniffing. Back upstairs. Sniffing. Definitely a stronger smell upstairs. Worse in the bedrooms.

I called my husband.

Isn't that funny? Do you do that - call your husband at work when
there's an emergency at home? Like he can do something from 50 miles
away. Um, hello? Our house might be on fire. Can you do

He told me to call 911.

I went to the neighbor's.

Our (man) neighbor opened our front door - by now the kids are back in coats and shoes outside. He stepped back from the smell. He noted the smoke coming from the pipes in the roof. He said, "Call 911."

Fastforward. Two fire trucks. A police car.

The furnace.

Very unceremoniously, the fireman said, "You don't need us. You need a good furnace repairman."

Well don't that just beat the band?
Glad you came out, sir.

And then I burst into tears. Because that's what every good mother does, standing in a t-shirt in the middle of a snow-packed street, her kids climbing into fire trucks, and the baby insisting, "Fi-uh twucks aw for hewping us. Did you check the fi-uh pwace, Fi-uh Fight-uh?" Her poor little hands shaking from her intensity. Her mama shaking from relief.

A Favorite, Some Food, and A Question

I love framing meaningful art. I've done it before here and saw it done best here.
I also love baking. Next fall, when we all start doing the football thing again, you'll want to make these:

and these:

Does anyone know how to get those "You might also like" links at the bottom of your blog posts? I *love* those links, too, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get them on my blog!
3 days to go!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Family Moments

I *heart* them.

So much so we began Family Sundays. This day occurs the first Sunday of every month whereby I force *I mean* beckon my family and extendeds to come spend time with us at our house - or theirs, as the year goes on - and enjoy a good ol' fashioned Sunday dinner. Or a bowl of cereal. Whatever. I just want us to get together more regularly.

I like my family.

And I remember as a kid tons of family gatherings - my grandmother always fretting over what we'd be eating. Giant skillets of fried chicken. Homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. O.M.G. My mouth is watering. We wouldn't clear breakfast before she'd be planning dinner (the mid-day meal when you were Country). You know what I mean, don't you? Your grandmother was the same. But we don't do that. I mean, sure I concern myself with what I'll be eating for lunch (that mid-day meal now that we're City), but we don't sit down to Sunday dinner. Well, at least we didn't.

But I asked my family, and they complied. So at least once a month, my kids are getting to know who they are - via they're family. The way that I know who I am. Because I know from where I came.

Here we are yesterday, a.k.a. SuperBowl Sunday. Yesterday's menu was chili. Not so much Sunday dinner-esque. But I still thought the scent of savory spices and corn bread wafting through the house made for good olfactory memories.

And keep in mind, this was at the end - just before the Saints kicked the Colts' butt. So we're looking pretty over the whole Sunday Family dinner thing. Or we ate too much chicken dip and cheesy salsa. (Look - even the dog's passed out in the corner.)

Nevertheless, I love Family Sundays.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I *heart* PJs!

After becoming completely inspired by this post @ A Little Loveliness, I decided to make Pookie and Sasha matching pj's! And further, I made their MiniMe (American Girl) dolls a set, as well.

Now, I'm still busy sewing, cuz along came the SuperBowl and all the gettings-ready that that requires, but here's enough to let you know how completely adorable they'll be in their entirety when I finish them! (probably sometime next year!) Plus - the t-shirts are fine for everyday Valentine wearing!

Friday, February 5, 2010

What I Love :: Day 5

I'm not good at math.
So the days of my series have to go with the date.
I can't bring myself to say Day 3 when it's Day 5 - a.k.a. February 5th.
And because I just like to be a little eccentric.
Cuz it's only Day 3 of the series, but it's fun in my head to skip 4 altogether and jump straight to 5.

So that's what we're doing.

And today, I'm loving kids. Sort of their spirit, their child-like faith, they're irreverent ability to turn something kind of cruddy into something wonderful and fun.

I'm not like that.

I get cranky.

I simmer and stew and pout.

Sort of like a child, but even a pouty child can turn their frown upside down within ... moments, really. BigDaddy will say to Pouty Sasha: Show me your attitude! And she immediately grins.

I like to wallow in it a while longer than that.

Case in point, Wednesday night. It was our annual cookie platter making extravaganza for the heart group. (I've mentioned that before.) Unbeknownst to me, it was also hubby's week to be late manager on duty (he's like the Undercover Boss in some respects - he likes to do the same work as his people, I guess. But I wasn't all too happy with his timing, I'll just be honest with you). On the same night that both boys had karate, and then the Pinewood Derby weigh-in, plus eve of Hubster's birthday, so there was present-purchasing to be done. And cookies to make. And deliver. But they didn't get delivered.

So Wednesday night, I'm sitting, slouched over the table with a few dozen frosting-stuffed, sprinklific, heart-adorned blobs o' cookie mass meant for medical professionals, but sitting in front of me. Wondering what I was going to do with all of them. I think I even cussed at them. But just once.

When what to my wondering ears did I hear, but one little voice asking, "May I have one?"

"Sure." I answered dully. "Have as many as you want."

Off she skipped.

Discovering that big sis had a fistful of sugar, in came another. Then another. Then another. Until all that remained was a few crumbs.

And a row of smiles.

And a camera.

And a new attitude.

So, in a nutshell, I love kids. Especially mine.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The What I Love Series :: Day 2

And now I'm two days behind. Perhaps this will be a month-long series - 14 posts, every other day. Would you grow absolutely sick of all my *hearts* by then, or would that just be me?

Anyway, in truth, this is Day 4. And don't groan because it's cliche. It's his birthday. I have to post about him on his birthday! C'mon!

To make it even more sugary sweet, here are specifically 37 things I love about this guy.
1. He makes me laugh.
2. Even when I don't want to laugh, he makes me laugh.
3. And then he makes the kids laugh, and that makes me laugh, too.
4. He is an awesome provider for this family.
5. He has an incredible work ethic - which is one reason why he is such a phenomenal provider.
6. He thinks differently than I do.
7. He thinks so differently than I do that sometimes I am amazed by how differently two people can witness the very same event. And I like how he helps me to see things differently.
8. He is logical.
9. He is intelligent.
10. He challenges the kids to also be intelligent.
11. He is my spell-checker. "Honey, how do you spell nostalgic? Check...Honey, how do you spell ..." Anyway, he's almost always right. At spelling words.
12. He's almost always right. But he admits when he's wrong. And he knows how to apologize.
13. He is always well-informed. Wanna know anything about politics, sports, the iPad, Tiger, squid off the coast - he's your man.
14. He buys me Icee Mochas. And brings them home to me.
15. He takes me to the Bread Co. for breakfast every week.
16. He makes amazing waffles. M&M for the kids. Blueberry for me. And butters them and cuts them, dowses them with syrup. And sprinkles on powdered sugar. (Those should count as more than one!)
17. He cleans the waffle maker after making waffles.
18. His bacon makin' skills rival the best chefs.
19. He is handy with tools.
20. He saved us hundreds of dollars by designing and building two separate custom-made entertainment centers - and used recycled wood.
21. He takes care of the yard.
22. He cleans up the dog poop.
23. He rarely asks for help taking care of the yard.
24. But he likes it when we help.
25. He's awesome at involving the kids in his home work.
26. He put a picture of Meiners in his workshop after telling him he was his "Little Helper."
27. Meiners grinned for days.
28. He sometimes finds Sasha's binky in the dead of night.
29. He soothes her when she screams, "But I want my mama! Mama?!?!?!?!?!"
30. He doesn't put up with crap from the kids.
31. He disciplines them, and he stands behind my discipline.
32. He says, "If Mom ain't happy, I ain't happy."
33. He always tries to make me happy.
34. He succeeds.
35. At just about everything.
36. But if he doesn't succeed, he keeps trying.
37. He is my best friend.

I love you, BigDaddy.
Happy 37th Birthday!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What I Love :: A 14-Day Series

And I'm already a day late.

So here we go: I love this idea from Shawni. (And I just love her and her blog in general -- her photography; her spunky, feisty adorable 2 year-old who rivals mine in [apparent] tantrum abilities; her insight ... everything. And not in a weird way - at all.)

Heart Attacks.

We'll be doing this this week and next!

~See you tomorrow!
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