Monday, November 30, 2009

A Treat

Emma was invited to play a duet with her piano teacher for a Thanksgiving Eve service (at the church that houses her school) last Wednesday night.

I love her delicate, feminine touch on the keys. She has very much her own style - different from mine and definitely different from Andrew's.

She did so well and I am so proud.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear me. Thanksgiving now seems so long ago that it is hardly bloggable. We've had such a whirlwind week and next week will be just the same, perhaps even worse!
I'm wrapping up my physical therapy, which is fantastic. Oh, I will miss the massages (even though they hurt), but my schedule will be so happy to have me back.
Chris was home with the kids this past week and they all had a good time. Without me. I had to work. Do you feel sorry for me yet?
Well, don't.
I ate pumpkin pie (made from pumpkins that I roasted) this week. I also ate sweet potato casserole made from sweet potatoes I grew in my back yard. They were smothered in homemade marshmallows. I kid you not. You need to try these stat, by the way. The men in my family who hate marshmallows all loved these!

The kids and I were in charge of decorating our Thanksgiving table this year. It's been a few years since my last turn and normally, I go all out with the table decor. This year, though, I really wanted to include the kids, keep it simple, keep it super-cheap, but still keep it stylish.
That was a tall order.
We plopped a few little pumpkins on top of some candle sticks I already had and connected the whole thing with garlands of paper circles, sewn together with brown thread. Truthfully, once the circles were cut, the sewing only took twenty minutes or so.

There were paper leaves down the middle of the table,

and glittery paper napkin rings.

The best part was the time spent with my favorite small hands in the world - my children's, of course.

Oh. And? My nephew. Who wants to see the baby?

And from there, we jumped headlong into Christmas preparations and celebrations.

I want to share something really special with you - a little preview of sorts. I had the privilege of taking my dear friend's maternity portraits on Friday. There are lots of images that I want to tweak just a little bit, and many that are too personal to share on the internet, but here is my absolute favorite shot, as-is:

With any luck, there will be more of these posted soon!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hold On...

I will have things to say soon. We had an amazing holiday, just as always.
I even made homemade marshmallows for our sweet potato casserole.
I promise a post stuffed to the gills with pictures soon (maybe this weekend?), but tonight, we are busy.

We have no hope that we will finish the tree tonight.
We will simply be happy if we can get the lights on it.

Love and kisses,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Gramps

Today was my grandpa's birthday. It's also the anniversary of the week he collapsed, which ultimately led to his death earlier this year.
We took his ashes to the Florida National Cemetery today. I don't fully know why it wasn't done earlier. I guess it just wasn't time.
I don't know what I expected. It's been nearly a year since his passing and we certainly mourned him. But family gatherings (there are many) have begun to feel normal again. I still get a little emotional from time to time when something reminds me of him. Sometimes it's a wistful smile and sometimes it's a tear.
I don't want to say I thought I was "over it" or anything unfeeling as that. I just feel like I've come to terms with his absence.
So much so that I didn't really prepare my children (or myself) for what today would bring.
My grandpa, like most of your grandpas, was a veteran. He was honored with ceremony and a flag was presented to my grandma. The flag ceremony was so moving. So, so moving. From a distance, far behind us, taps rang out in the misty, cloudy afternoon. My grandpa's brother, a retired minister, spoke some words of Scripture and led us in prayers and a hymn.
Emma wept with abandon and so did I. I couldn't even choke out the first verse of "Abide With Me." My grandma was less the stoic matriarch and more the sunken, bereaved widow than I have ever seen her.
We drove out, past the crisp, neat rows of white headstones and the rain began to fall in earnest. My little nephew slept on, unaware.
We all stopped and shared a bolstering meal.
And I baked a cake - a birthday cake.
When there is a birthday in our family, we all gather for cake and an awful rendition of "Happy Birthday." Many of us are musicians and most of us sing rather well, but there is something fun in singing wildly off-key as a group. My grandpa loved this tradition. He would laugh and laugh, joining in with his own recognizable baritone.
So we sang and ate cake and celebrated his birthday one last time as we said our last goodbyes. Why now? Why so late? I guess it was finally the right time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I seem to be turning into such a sporadic blogger. Hrmph. I certainly didn't meant for that to happen. I have generally blogged at the end of the day to just make sense of things and feel like I'd emptied my head before attempting to sleep, but lately, my days are such a jumble that there is no sense to be made. I'm definitely not being the Girl Who Does It All right now. I'm just the Girl Who Is Trying Hard.
But I'm okay with that.
It just doesn't make for interesting reading.
We had some more car trouble (big surprise) at the end of last week and I got to borrow my baby brother's truck for a while. I really love driving his truck. It's big and nasty and not-at-all shiny. It rumbles and roars and while it takes you where you ask it to, you are jostled and tossed at the whim of the road. But not in an abrupt, sharp way. Just sort of gently moving. Dudes give you The Nod when you pull up at stoplights. This is no pretty suburbanite truck - no. This is a truck. And if you can pop out of that truck wearing a mini skirt, a secretary cardigan, high heels and cat-eye eyeliner, well, you have surprised everyone. And that's pretty fun.
Chris and I had a date on Saturday, and by that I mean all day on Saturday. I got a haircut (Emma did too) and my parents picked up the kids from us in Tampa. We did some Christmas shopping (mostly looking) and watched a movie at the new theatre, at which they serve bistro-style dinners and have a wine list. Seriously - I had popcorn and a nice, cold glass of Riesling. Delish.
That certainly gave me a nice pause in the middle of this crazy time of life. It's so nice to spend a whole day with your honey. And I mean it.
Now I just have to find the will to re-enter life tomorrow. It's my last scheduled week of physical therapy, I have pumpkin to roast for my pies, the kids have table decorations to make, we have family stuff and friend stuff and getting-ready-for-Christmas stuff and just stuff-stuff to do.
I just would rather go back to the movies.

Daily Bliss: living room time with my kids - just hanging out
Wake-up Playlist: Minstrel Number from the White Christmas soundtrack (I guess I'm readier for Christmas than I thought!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Even More Portraits

My brother's house has some really great window light. And my brother Jon has a new Great Dane puppy (His name is Huckleberry! How great is that?). And I needed another portrait or two for my window light portrait assignment.
A convergence of good things.
This one's totally for Winnipeg, my other favorite Great Dane. She would love Huckleberry.

I had lots of fun editing the ones of Mindy and Nolan in Photoshop during class today - just learning the power of what can be done there, even with a good picture.

A couple of things:
My class is almost done. In fact, I'm not entirely sure we will have another assignment, per se. So far, I am registered for the Digital Photography II class. So far. You guys really encouraged me and I thank you. I'm not sure how it'll all work out, but for now, I'm in.
Also, I'm loving the eyeliner tips! I'm going to try all of them! And yes...even purple. Probably.

Daily Bliss: Andrew's symphonic band played at Downtown Disney today and I got to sit on the front row. I am so proud of him! He looked so grown up in his cummerbund and tuxedo pants, and they sounded pretty great too.
Wake-Up Playlist: Debussy, Reverie

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Nolan's surgery went very well. They repaired the major hernia and found one more tiny one that they were also able to repair. He's in recovery now and his Mama and Daddy are breathing a sigh of relief.
Thanks for all your prayers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I'm collecting prayers tonight for my tiny nephew.
He goes in for surgery tomorrow morning to repair a hernia (there may be more than one), which I understand is common for preemies. However, common should not be confused with simple.
He's been such a little Superman so far. I'm sure he will come through this amazingly strong, but still...
Would you?
He's scheduled for 7:00 AM tomorrow.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Random Facts

None of these things make a whole blog post on their own, but provide a glimpse into what's going on in our house.

1. I've been thinking about a new cat-eye eyeliner phase, so I bought some felt-tip eyeliner and tried it out.
2. I kept it on while I took a bubble bath and read the Christmas Martha Stewart Living, which - joy of joys! - I did not have to pay for. Thanks Grandma!
3. I only sort of liked the eyeliner.
4. But Martha has some great thoughts on glitter.
5. Girls' morning on Saturday - thrifting and downtown flea market. Starbucks too. Sigh.
6. I made a whole bunch of appetizers for a get-together my mom was hosting. Most of it was just usual stuff, but you need to try this: slather a round of brie (with the rind still on) with sour cherry preserves - the more natural and fruit-chunk-a-licious, the better - and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Bake @ 350 for about 15 or 20 minutes. Serve with crackers. Holy buckets. It was good.
7. Did you notice that I ate cheese? I seem to be able to do that again. It's been a long time, but I'm really loving me some pizza now that it doesn't make me sick!
8. More cooking - I made a four-layer, vegan, red velvet cake for my brother Jon's birthday party. With cream cheese frosting (see #7).
9. I knitted him some bike helmet ear warmers. He seemed to think they'll be useful. I can't find a good link to them to share with you, but you can find them on ravelry if you're a member. Suffice it to say that they slip over the helmet straps and just, well, keep your ears warm. Genius!
10. I volunteered to cut out felt pieces for the Third Grade nativity set project. They all make a nativity set by gluing felt pieces to chunks of 2x4 lumber. It's cute. Andrew made one in third grade. I cut out the pieces that year too.
11. I forgot how long it takes to cut out 48 tiny, pink, round-tipped triangle shapes to go in the ears of the cows.
12. Also, there are pink nostrils to be cut out.
13. I am soooo going to be done with my mandatory volunteer hours for Emma's school after this.
14. Christmas is coming and I'm freaking out just a little bit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Eating a leftover-chili-dog supper
in the (oh-my-aching) back-soothing bath
while hubby listens and sorts
my pro-and-con thoughts
on taking another photography class next semester.

Three birds, one stone.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Portraits, Anyone?

Mindy was kind enough to swing by my house today so I could try to finish up my portrait assignment for tomorrow's class. The weather has not been cooperative - we've had heavy clouds for something like 4 days now! I had a 30-minute time slot, so we had to really slap-dash some pictures together under less-than-ideal conditions.
Surprisingly, these came out really nicely!
Batteries ran out and babies fussed and all sorts of other little things went wrong. Some of these look very different from the others, as I was really looking for a sweet spot in the camera's settings. And once I found it, well, like I said before, the batteries died. So then I spent a while with the next camera looking to get it just right.
In the end, though, in spite of the very different looks some of these have, I really love them all. There were so many good ones, Mindy. I promise you copies of all of them!

Thank you. So. Much. Mindy Sue! You are so beautiful and so is that baby. It was really fun and I can't wait to do a "real" shoot with good lighting! Soon.

On a funny side note, we were really having trouble coming up with an idea for dinner tonight. I haven't been shopping in just forever, I was coming home late from my piano lessons and various other reasons happened that dictated an easy, low-dirty-dish-quotient meal. I had been thinking chili (the cloudy weather has really got me wishing for winter) but the kids all overheard the phone conversation and complained. Somehow, I landed on chili dogs. I was really feeling guilty for picking something so unhealthy. I mean, normally we eat lots of veggies, whole grains and lean proteins. I cook from scratch, for Pete's sake. But I felt a little better when I arrived home, grocery bags in hand.
"What's for dinner, Mom?" is heard even before "hi, Mom!" is heard. I told them we were having chili dogs.

And neither one of them knew what a chili dog was!

Ha! Much less guilt now. I told them what was up. And Emma said it sounded interesting. Of course, they both loved dinner.
Good stuff.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


How about a few words today and no pictures? I mean, I've still got the car show pictures to post at some point, but c'mon. This isn't a photography blog, now, is it?
With this tropical system - what is it, Ida? - in place, there has been no light for doing any more of those portraits. I'm starting to get concerned that I won't have what I need for my homework! Aaak! In the meantime, though, I'm building a PVC structure to hold my black backdrop so that I can take it anywhere, baby! Just like I'm some kind of real photographer!
We went to Home Depot last night to buy the pipes for it and the kids were very complain-y. They really hate going to those types of stores. They were behaving in ways that I don't normally see from my children. I was getting a little embarrassed. Then I showed them how the plumbing aisle works. How the boxes of fittings are all color-coded to indicate size and how all the fittings work with all the pipes. Like giant white Legos, kind of. Let me tell you, Emma's eyes lit up. She had Big Plans flooding her little head. It's really fun to find those random objects that spark imagination in your kids. It turned an obligatory, dreary task into a moment of fun and learning. Like magic.
We are finding our magic wherever we can these days.
Chris and I watched a little movie called The Brothers Bloom the other night. I don't typically endorse movies and I don't mean to do so now, but I rather enjoyed it and thought it was imaginative. Here's the thing I really loved about the movie: it presents a question that I ask myself often (not out loud or anything, 'cause people would think I'm nuts) - if you live your life like a story you are writing, is it really authentic? If your actions are dictated by the story you're telling, the character you're playing, instead of arising organically out of who you are, are you being real?
I mean, I live my life like it's a story all the time. I sometimes decide what I want to wear or listen to by deciding what kind of story I want to tell on that day. And I wonder if those things that I do, making decisions like I'm writing fiction, make my life less real. If my actions are dictated by an imaginary storyline, are they really, truly mine? Or are they just part of a character I made up?
It's not like the question really, truly bothers me. It was more like, I was watching that movie, identifying strongly with the female lead character (she's eccentric and she collects hobbies! hello, me!) and thinking, "Hey! I totally get what they're saying here!" in a way that doesn't usually happen.
So. Anyway. Cute movie.
My neck MRI turned up little more than normal wear and tear, which is a good thing. Just a little smidge of something that was caused by the accident, but overall, my biggest problem will be that herniated disc in my low back. That was a relief. It looks like I'll only be in physical therapy another couple of weeks at the most, which is also a relief. I'm looking forward to having my life back. I'm even looking forward to the schedule I'd originally worked for this fall, thinking at the time that it would be nearly an impossible schedule to follow. Turns out, it would be almost a vacation in comparison to what life has brought us.
I don't mean that in a bad way, a woe-is-me-way or any kind of negative way at all. I'm just tired. I'm ready to find my mojo again. I want to feel like I'm creative and spontaneous instead of feeling like I'm ruled by the next item on my list. Constantly. And I want to breathe. I want to have time to shave. Big-time. I want to look forward to Christmas this year instead of dreading the stress and hassle.
Will the End of Physical Therapy mean all those things? Nope. But right now, it feels like a step in the right direction.

Daily Bliss: blossoms on my bean plants and a tomato plant that's thriving!
Wake-Up Playlist: Coldplay, The Scientist

Sunday, November 8, 2009


My other photography assignment this week is window light portraiture - black background, black clothing, diffused window light. Simple and lovely.
Check this:

I love this photo so much that it makes me laugh uncontrollably!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Light Painting

My assignment for this past week's photography class was light painting. Sort of like the little pumpkin shot in my Halloween post. The idea is to take a picture with a long exposure and "paint" the shot with light - illuminating what you want and sort of drawing, too, with smaller lights. This leaves a very wide range of creative options, to be sure, and my brain was on overload trying to decide what to do! I borrowed Mindy's super-awesome camera and called up my brother Jon and his wife Sarah to help me out. We trekked around for hours having fun and collaborating. Here's what I came up with.

Some of these are edited a bit to take out, er, mistakes. Some of them are edited better than the others. I don't know that I feel 100% confident about these, so please...I could use some feedback. I'd like to feel finished with this assignment and move on to my next one - portraiture.
What do you think? Which one is your favorite? Which one is just not workin' for you and why?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Giant Post #1

I'm vegging out, nursing some sort of sickness and watching movies. But I've already seen this movie, so I thought I'd post one of those big giant posts I promised.
How about some pictures from last weekend?
We spent the early part of Halloween working a fundraiser for Andrew's TSA club - a bake sale at an outdoor event called Water, Wings & Wild Things. Of course, I baked a little something.

The boys helped set up the booth,

and Chris won a coffee mug shaped like a toilet from the utilities company.

Classy, huh?
Emma made a ladybug cookie,

but we didn't stay very long. I'm trying desperately to volunteer in moderation.
Before leaving, however, we walked around and visited some of the wildlife. There was a butterfly tent!

And the Audubon Society had some beautiful birds there.

But most importantly, though I haven't any pictures to prove it, I met Pockets the Cross-Eyed Opossum. He lives with a local rescue organization whose card I picked up but don't have near the recliner, so I'm going to be a good girl and stay put and not look for it. You can live without the link for now, right? Because I hope you'll hear more about Pockets on this blog. While I was standing there, I heard one of the organization's volunteers mention that they would love to find someone creative who could write a book about Pockets. My hands, of their own volition, flew to my mouth, making it very hard to pretend that I wasn't interested. The director saw me. She said that actually, she only needed an illustrator. I mentioned that I'm a photography student and I'd love to do photographic illustrations. There seemed to be interest. I promised to email. And I'm trying to decide if I'm brave enough to email. It's something I would really love to do - I was so very taken with Pockets - but I don't know if it will work out. I'll let you know if anything comes of it...

Daily Bliss: my hubby took the day off and took good care of me, even though i had to work
Wake-up Playlist: Rossini, William Tell Overture