Saturday, February 26, 2011
So when this Joy Of Love assignment was posted on February 15th - yes, it's taken me eleven days to get brave enough to do it - I majorly hesitated. But I do understand the purpose of the photo. People who love one another obviously do kiss, and it is kind of nice to have this picture. And I think it's important for our kids to see that we love each other. They sometimes ask us to kiss so they can "ooh" and "ahh" and talk about True Love's Kiss. They are definitely big romantics.
I bet that in thirty years they will look at this photo and treasure it for the love it shows between their parents.
So for those reasons, Cory and I bit the bullet and asked the girls to do a little photography session today. They each took some photos, and I must say they came out rather nicely! I don't know if Sasha or Clara took this one so I'll credit them both.
I've been kissing the same man for the past sixteen years and it never gets old. He is my True Love.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Clara often makes "I Love You" signs with her hands. She also likes to point her fingers and draw a heart in the air to send to Cory and me. She is awesome at showing her love with her hands.
I realize that her little five-year-old hands are growing bigger every day and it won't be long before she no longer wants to show her love for us so much. So for now I'm going to treasure each little gesture of affection. And I'm going to pray that she'll always want to draw hearts in the air for her family.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This is his profile picture. It was taken towards the end of our Disney World vacation in May of 2008 and we both thought it was one of the best pictures (out of the thousand we took) from the week. We were relaxed, happy, and a whole lot goofy by this point. When the photo was taken we were sitting in the stands waiting for the Fantasmic show to begin. We obviously had some fun during the wait!
I often think about that trip to Disney World and to this day - almost three years later - I am convinced that it was the best week of my life. Cory and I had so much fun watching the girls (who were then just four and two years old) get caught up in the magic of princesses, fairies, pirates, and all things Disney. I think we got a bit caught up in the magic, too. We absolutely loved this trip!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Sasha absolutely LOVES to draw. Both she and Clara love anything art related, but Sasha has a natural gift for drawing. In fact, when she is home she spends the majority of her time drawing pictures - and she is amazing.
Today she drew this cute picture of herself giving Clara a present. While the drawing itself is sweet, it's the writing that goes with it that really pulled at my heartstrings. Here is what it says:
"I love my sister. She is nise to me. Sometimes we fite but I still love her. When she was in my momys belly I kist it for a pitcher. We like to play together in the dallhouls."
Sigh. Melt my heart. How I love that these girls love each other.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
It was actually tough to come up with an image for this one. As a family we don't have one activity that we do on a regular basis together. Sometimes we play games, sometimes Cory and I do little math or reading lessons with the girls, sometimes we play on the computers, and sometimes we watch tv. It really just depends on our mood. But there is one activity that we seem to do in cycles: we play Wii.
I believe we were one of the last American families to get a Wii. My mother actually asked us if we wanted one about four or five years ago for Christmas but we declined. Cory and I simply didn't want to be a video game family. But two Christmases ago Cory's parents decided to get Cory's sister's family and our family each a Wii as a family gift. I suppose we were ready to venture into the world of gaming because we agreed.
We don't play the Wii consistently. In fact, months can go by without any of us touching it at all. And then we'll go through spurts of playing it almost every day. Right now we are in one of those spurts. Clara is the best "Big Balls" player you'll ever meet. (That's what we call the obstacle course that has big swinging balls you have to run past.) Sasha loves to swordfight. And Cory and I have recently taken up Wii golf. Not to brag, but I went from a +20 on the 18 hole course to a +2 in about two weeks! It is quite addictive.
Since today is cold and windy - Old Man Winter is certainly back with a vengeance - the girls explored the Wii Fit game and did some yoga. Believe it or not, Sasha actually worked up a sweat doing those stretches and poses.
I suppose it's rather nice being a modern, video game owning family.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I'm often reminded of Dr. Harter's words when I look at my wedding band, though. I love it not for its beauty but for what it represents. Cory gave me this ring when I was just 22 years old with the promise that he would love me forever. And love me he has.
This Joy of Love assignment was to photograph our loved one's wedding band or some other significant piece of jewelry. The ring was supposed to be on that person's hand, but Cory doesn't wear his ring. His outward symbol of the reality of our love and marriage is almost always in a drawer. It makes appearances on his hand on rare occassions: weddings and, well, weddings. Every now and then he'll put it on if we're going somewhere special, but not very often. It's not that he doesn't want to wear it (although I do believe he is uncomfortable with it on), but his job makes it impossible. His hand is in some compromising places on a daily basis and a ring would easily become lost forever if he wore it. I'll leave it at that.
I do love his ring. I had it engraved on the inside with the words, "My Valentine" and our wedding date. My Valentine by Martina McBride was the first song we danced to at our reception and Cory truly is my Valentine every single day our of lives.
I'm not entirely sure why I chose the morning teeth brushing for this assignment. It may have been because this is something we obviously do every single day. It may have been because it is a totally mundane activity and one that is typically not given much thought. But I think it had more to do with the fact that it was an easy moment to capture. We are always, always in a hurry to get ready for school in the morning and the girls know that as soon as they are done eating breakfast they are supposed to go brush their teeth. So this photo required no work from me; I just had to follow them upstairs and snap away.
But if I want to get more introspective about this routine, I can see how capturing little moments like this one add to our childhood memories. Some of my favorite photos from my own childhood are just like this: my big sister and I sharing a toilet seat to go potty, me snuggling on my bed with my cat, and other everyday moments. I hope Sasha and Clara will look back at today's photo and remember something about our daily lives during this time.
And hopefully it won't be me yelling, "Hurry UP!!! We've got to go NOW!!!!"
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Dixon absolutely LOVES his pap. He runs right to him whenever he sees him and gets overly rambunctious and excited. My fellow moms know what I'm talking about: Kid sees someone they like and they suddenly have more energy than they know what to do with and feel the need to show off as much as possible. Such is the case when Dixon sees Pap.
As Me-Me and Pap were getting ready to leave, Dixon literally flung himself down on the floor and began to whimper. He then got up and tried to escape out the door with them. So being the nice grandparents that they are, they came back inside and hung out for a few more minutes. Dixon would have been happy if they decided to stay forever.
Photo info: Taken in horrible lighting - overhead canned lights. Ick. Lots of shadows, especially on Dixon's head. I converted the photo to black and white to deemphasize the bad lighting and the "stuff" around Dixon and Pap.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Here is the photo I selected to use for the assignment:
This photo may not appeal to everyone, but I love it. I love that it isn't your typical, full-face photo. The crop makes it different and, I think, interesting. And more importantly, I LOVE how it captured Sasha's gorgeous blue-green eyes.
When Sasha was born she had intensely blue eyes. They almost look fake in some of the photos I have of her as a toddler because they are so incredibly blue. Then when she was about three or four years old they suddenly became more green. Now they are more green than blue, but they change depending on what she is wearing. Mysterious eyes, she has.
I also think she looks a LOT like her daddy in this photo. A LOT lot. The eyes, the eyebrows (those suckers will be waxed the moment she becomes self-conscious of them), the nose, the mouth . . . this little girl is her daddy through and through.
I love her.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
It has been almost three years since Cory and I took our princesses - then 4 and 2 years old - to Disney World. And to this day, we all agree that that was the best week of our lives. Sasha and Clara were in little girl heaven, completely caught up in the magic of Disney. And Cory and I were in our own heaven watching the joy on our girls' faces. It was a perfect week. So one of our family's dreams is to go back to Disney World. We talk about it all the time. If it weren't so darn expensive, we'd take a trip there every year. Unfortunately, we have to be financially responsible and that means waiting until we can comfortably afford to go the House of the Mouse.
When we planned our trip three years ago, the girls and I made a big paper chain to count down the days until we hopped on the plane to head south. We hung the chain - which was quite long since we counted down about 75 days - from a hook on the attic door which happens to be in their bedroom. Every day the girls took turns tearing off a link. It was so exciting to see the chain get smaller, especially as we got closer to the big day! When that day came I couldn't bear to tear off that last link. We had so much fun using the chain and it represented such wonderful anticipation that I didn't want to take it down. It remains there today!
Hopefully we will be able to return to land of magic soon. I'd love to go before Dixon turns three since kids stay, play and eat free if they are under three. He turns two in April, so the countdown will soon be on! This time I think Cory and I will surprise the kids with the trip. Kind of like the commercials on tv that show the parents telling their kids that they are going to go to Disney World that day and the kids jump up and down screaming with excitement. I always cry at those commercials! We can't wait to make our dream come true and feel the magic of Disney within us again!
*This photo is rather, um, yucky. I had to use my flash because there was no light in the room, and that resulted in horrible shadows and glare. I'm certainly not posting the photo because it's a great shot - it's simply to document the dream!
Honestly, I can't think of a single spot in our home that one of us just gravitates to regularly. At least not for comfort. The girls are always either on the floor drawing or in their bedroom playing with dolls. Cory and I are often on our computers. And Dixon just runs around all over the place. None of us just lounge around and get cozy or have a special spot that is all ours.
So I had to really think about this one. Here's what I came up with:
Our puppies (well, they're not really puppies anymore, but that's what I call them) love - LOVE - to sleep on our couch. I can't blame them. It's really comfy. We keep them in a crate at night and when one one is home and they hate the crate, so when they are out they want to snuggle in comfort. The couch is their spot.
Sometimes they will sleep on the cushions, but usually they are on top of the corner of the couch. I have a Tastefully Simple blanket folded there that is super soft and they love it there.
This spot is also a favorite of theirs because they can see out the big windows when perched here. Fiki, the dog we had before these two entered our lives, loved to sit and sleep here too for that very reason. It's a great vantage point for keeping watch of what is going on outside of the house.
Our pups are almost always together, too. They are from the same litter and are inseperable. This photo of Perdy by herself is rather rare, but I can assure you that Jasmine is right below her on the cushions. Nice and comfy. What lucky dogs.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
But I wanted to focus on Cory today. He often comments that I have lots of hobbies but all he does is work. Sadly, that isn't too much of a stretch of the truth. He has hobbies, but he doesn't have much time to enjoy them. However, there is one activity that he truly loves and tries to do as often as possible. My man is a proud owner of a 1969 Mach 1 Ford Mustang, and there isn't much he'd rather do than tinker with it and take it for a spin. When the weather is warm and sunny and Cory doesn't have any obligations, he can be found in the garage fixing up his car or washing it in the driveway before heading out for a drive. The girls LOVE to go for rides in "Daddy's fast car" and he's happy to take them with him. They often find an ice cream shoppe and enjoy a cool treat before coming home. And as obsessed as Dixon is with anything that has wheels, I am quite conident that he will take on Daddy's passion for the pony and be by his side in the garage on many warm summer evenings.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Today's assignment was to photograph the best gift your loved one has given you. I knew immediately what my best gift was (really, is): through Cory's hard work and total belief in the importance of raising our children ourselves, I have been able to be a stay-at-home-mom since the day Sasha was born almost 7 and a half years ago. I haven't missed a single milestone, a single silly moment, or a single opportunity to snuggle, play, and learn together. There is no better gift on earth than enjoying the formative years with your children.
Now, how do I photograph this gift? I thought about it all morning and finally figured it out this afternoon. When Cory and I were newlyweds we lived in southern Virginia. He was in veterinarian school at Virginia Tech and I was supporting us by teaching and waitressing at a Cracker Barrell. I made next to nothing. Teaching salaries get worse and worse the further south you go, and this was 1999. I believe I made $27,000 a year teaching. The waitressing was an absolute necessity to keep us afloat.
Long story short, I spent many, many days in my classroom dreaming about the day I could sit at home with my then unborn little girls watching Cinderella. Instead of trying to teach all those 8th graders how to write an essay, I wanted to be snuggling with my own children, sniffing their hair and getting lost in the magic of Disney with them. Being a mom has always been my dream and I could hardly wait to start a family.
So while it may be a bit odd, this photo captures my dream coming true. I've now watched Cinderella - and shelves full of other Disney and Barbie movies - with my little girls countless times. It never gets old. Sometimes I'll put a movie on for them to watch so I can do things around the house, but I always seem to end up on the couch with them, totally taken in by the same stories I've seen so many times before. This wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Cory and his support. He has given me my ultimate dream and I'll be grateful for him and his gift.
Now for the photography lesson. Today we were supposed to use our camera in FULL manual mode. I didn't realize this until after I took the photo, though. So I'll have to read the instructions more carefully for tomorrow and play around with my camera a bit more. Going fully manual scares me a tad, but I'm excited to give it a shot!
Sunday, February 6, 2011
As soon as I read the topic of today's Joy Of Love photography assignment I knew what I would do. Our task was to photograph someone or something that our loved one(s) love. Well, my girls are always taking about how much they love God. They think He is the greatest artist in the whole world, especially when they see a particularly gorgeous sunset. At the tender ages of 7 and 5, they know many of the stories of the Bible. In fact, when we read stories before bed they often want to read from one of their many childrens Bibles. They love the stories and learning more about who God is. One of the sweetest sounds I've ever heard is when one of them begins to pray all on her own - their little conversations with God are so pure and honest and they aren't at all embarrassed to speak to Him about what is on their hearts and minds.
Even though they don't know or understand much of God's word - who does, really? - they know that God loves them and is offering them eternal life in heaven. They know He is our Father and all good things come through Him. And as they get older they will discover just how deep God's love is, and they will love Him even more. What a beautiful thing.
Of course the first person I thought about was my dear husband. Because although I do love him, he has some habits that absolutely drive me up a wall. But his habits are kind of hard to capture on film. For example, he likes to make weird noises because the kids laugh, but I find it grating after hearing it a hundred times. And he knows it bugs me, so he does it all the more. What a sweetheart. ;)
But both Cory and I become highly, HIGHLY annoyed on an almost daily basis by one of our amazingly adorable children. It may be hard to believe that our little cherub-faced Clara could find a way to drive us nuts - sometimes to the point where yelling and tears ensue - but she does. And this is how.
Clara is a talker. Clara is also easily distracted. And finally, Clara doesn't care much about eating food. Put those three things together and you have a child who makes dinnertime a not-so-fun experience. We sit down to eat and all she wants to do is drink her milk, chatter about nothing, sing songs, or get up and show us a dance move. We find ourselves constantly saying, "Clara, put the milk down." "Clara, take a bite." "Clara, stop singing." "Clara, EAT!!!" Many times she ends up alone at the dinner table because everyone else has finished eating and she still has a full plate of food. It is beyond frustrating, especially if we have someplace to go in the evening.
This morning Cory made pancakes for breakfast so it was a bit difficult to capture Clara's typical distracted behaviour. Pancakes are one of her favorite foods and she gobbles them up without much prompting. But that look on her face - that ornery, "I have something to say" look - says it all. When it comes to mealtime manners, a princess Clara is not.
Flaws like this are a part of what makes us human and loveable, though. As the saying goes, Clara is not perfect, but she is perfect for us. And we love her completely . . . even during dinner.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Anyway, because I've been in Baltimore this weekend I haven't been able to blog my Joy Of Love photos. I actually took Friday's photo yesterday morning before I left but didn't have time to post it. And I haven't even read today's assignment yet . . .
Yesterday's assignment was to photograph what our loved ones wear. As soon as I read the topic I knew I wanted Cory to be my subject. Cory doesn't dress like many men do for work. The dress shirts, ties, and suits that hang in his closet are worn to church, weddings, funerals and the occassional date. They certainly are not a regualar part of his wardrobe.
What does Cory wear to work every day? Layers. Lots of layers during the winter. He wears jeans (sometimes insulated), overalls, Under Armour tops, windbreakers, and finally coveralls. He has to wear so many layers because he is outside on dairy farms all day long. So there is no dressing up. While he does his best to stay clean, let's face it. It's hard to be a dairy vet and not get some yucky stuff on your clothes. So everyday he takes numerous coveralls and surgical jackets with him so he can change into clean ones between farm visits. I wanted to photograph him wearing his typical garb, but he refused. Once all of those layers are on, he looks about 35 pounds heavier than he is. So instead, I photographed a stack of his laundry that I folded. This is actually a rather small stack consisting of several pairs of coveralls and some Under Armour. Usually there are surgical jackets and clothes in the mix as well.
It's always interesting to do Cory's work laundry. Although I'll be honest and say that he almost always does his own wash. I just end up folding it for him. I find many items in the drier that most wives don't find: long plastic gloves (you can guess what they are used for), syringes, operating tools, tape, and needle caps to name some. Someday I hope we'll have a seperate laundry for his work clothes and the rest of the household laundry!
The other part of the photography assignment was to play around with the metering on our camera. The metering is what controls exposure. Depending on the composition of you photo and what you are photographing, you may decide to change the exposure and play around with the metering a bit. I took the same photo of Cory's pile of folded coveralls using three different metering settings. I liked this one the best because it kept the majority of the photo nicely exposed and the colors look natural and true.
I don't know that I ever would have photographed and documented Cory's work clothes if it weren't for this assignment and I'm glad that I got the nudge to do so. These little things are a part of our everyday lives - a part of the lives I love so much. The coveralls are also a symbol of how hard-working Cory is. He loves helping farmers take care of their herds and be more productive. He is passionate about what he does. I'm so grateful that he has such a strong work ethic and is such a wonderful provider. What a fantastic role model he is for our children!
We are very blessed to love the man who wears these clothes.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
For today's Joy Of Love assignement we are to photograph a change in someone. I'm sure I took the obvious path and chose to show how my first-born child has changed over the years.
This is my girl in January of 2006. She was two years and three months old and cute as could be. I vividly remember styling her hair in those "spouts" or "boingers". And look at that little button nose! Be still my heart. And here is my baby today, all seven years and four months old. Her hair has grown thicker and is often in ponytails or braids. Her little nose is now splattered with freckles. And her tiny baby teeth have been replaced by her permanent adult teeth. My baby girl is growing up.