Sunday, March 27, 2011

{The Bromance}

What a cute assignment: Photograph your loved one with his "best bud", his "wingman". Truth be told, Cory's favorite guy to hang out with is Dixon. In fact, just this morning he commented that he was "so happy to have a boy." A boy who thinks trains, tractors, balls and trucks are the bees knees. A boy who asks to go out to the garage to play. A boy who loves to roooooaaaarrrr like a monster at his family all the time. After years of fairies, dress-up, and pink princesses, Cory is so happy to have some additional testosterone in the house. Just as I look forward to taking the girls to get manicures, teaching them how to apply makeup, and doing all things girly-girl, Cory looks forward to teaching Dixon how to shave, drive a stick-shift, and shoot hoops. I'm so happy Cory has his male counterpart - his best bud - and an adorable bromance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

{When You Love Them the Most}

On a beautiful spring day in May of 1999 my first children were born. Their mommy, Peanut, gave birth inside a cozy cardboard box on my in-law's front porch. Cory and I, his sister Megan, and their parents were all there to witness the miraculous event. Little Peanut lovingly birthed three boys and one girl (and one other kitty who sadly didn't live). She cleaned them, nursed them, and taught them the ins and outs of being a feline. Cory and I were about to be married in July, so we decided we would take the girl kitten and one of the boys. The timing was perfect since they were able to stay with their momma for a little over two months. When Cory and I came home from our honeymoon, Megan wrapped up our kitties (literally) and brought them to my mother's house where we all gathered to open our wedding gifts. They then traveled four hours south to our first home in Virginia where we lived for three years. We named them Simba and Ariel and they quickly became our babies.

Simba slept beside me every night. We spooned. We cuddled. He cozied right up to me and we've had a love affair ever since.

Simba and Ariel are now almost twelve years old. While Ariel has always been shy and only likes attention on her terms, Simba is a loverboy. He follows me around the house and likes to be next to me almost all the time. Nothing makes him happier than getting loves.
But our special time is still at night. Simba waits for me to head upstairs, do my nightly routine, and get in bed. He jumps in right away, often before I even touch the sheets. And every night he cuddles in the same spot on my shoulder. He purrs, he nudges me to pet him, and he lays his head on my chest and goes to sleep. When I wake up in the morning he is still there, waiting for his morning loves.
I can't describe how much I love this cat. He's my baby. He's my love muffin. I look forward to bedtime each night knowing that he will be there waiting to love me back.

Friday, March 18, 2011

{Going Out}

Here is the assignment from Willette: "Get a sitter and go out on the town!!! Take the point and shoot and take some fun portraits of you together. Tickle each other. Laugh. Have fun!"

Well, I'll keep this quite real. Cory and I rarely go out on dates. We usually have three to four dates a year: our anniversary, Valentine's Day, and maybe two random occassions. So I had to giggle a bit when I read this task knowing that "going out" just isn't a common experience for us. In fact, we have hired a sitter exactly three times since Sasha was born 7 1/2 years ago. But that's also because we have family who keep the kids for us whenever we do want to have a date (which again, isn't often).
And yet, lo and behold, Cory and I actually had TWO dates in February this year! We went to the Stube (a fantastic German restaurant) with his sister Megan and her hubby Jason for Valentine's Day. We had a great time and an amazingly delicious meal. But unfortunately, the best photo of the night was of Cory's pork shank. The photo of us just wasn't flattering at all. Attempt number one to snap a "going out" photo = fail.
The following weekend we went to a unique, tavern-style restaurant called Flannery's with some friends. We LOVE Flannery's and we had great company to enjoy the food with that night. At the end of our meal I pulled my camera out of my bag to take some photos and my heart sank. I left my SD card at home in my computer so I couldn't take any photos. We took some pictures with our cell phones, but mine turned out blurry and Cory's somehow didn't get saved properly. So attempt number two to complete this assignment resulted in another failure.
That's when I began to think "outside the box." I determined that I didn't need a photo of Cory and I on a date in order to capture a "going out" moment. A perfect opportunity to check this task off my list presented itself on Monday. My mother, Dixon and I went shopping together in Gettysburg. We used to go shopping all the time together, but we realised that it's been years since we've had a day for just us. There are always reasons why we can't do it, and we both missed the fun of a good shopping day. So off we went! And don't you know it? I never took a blasted photo. Sigh.
This assignment has become my nemesis.
Tonight, exactly one month after the topic was posted for Joy Of Love, I got my shot. The kids and I went to Nana and Pap's house to celebrate Pap's 60th birthday. Becky, Barry and Emme were there as well and we enjoyed a tasty dinner and star-shaped cupcakes. It was a nice end to a beautiful day! And the best part for me? I got a photo! Certainly the kids with their grandparents at a birthday dinner counts as "going out" right? I think so!
What relief. What success.
Now I'm staying home for the next month.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I really, really loved this photography topic: Take a photo of yourself and your loved one together. Like most moms, I am behind the camera 99.9% of the time. I take photos of my family and all of our activities and love every second of it, but that means that I am very rarely in any of the photos. When my kids look through their scrapbooks and photo albums twenty years from now I want them to see their mom documented, too. I know that I enjoy seeing photos of my mom when she was younger, and I'm sure my kids will as well. So the task of taking a photo of myself with Cory was just the prompt I needed to get one more photo of myself "in the books". Plus, I love that the photo shows Cory and I together - I think this photo shows our connection to one another rather well.

This evening we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday at my sister and brother-in-law's home. I asked my sister-in-law, Megan, to take some photos of Cory and me and this is my favorite. What I love most about the photo is how comfortable Cory and I are with one another. We've been a couple for 17 years - yep 17! And I feel like I know this man as well as I know myself. We go together "like peas and carrots" and this picture shows that comfort well. I'm so thankful that my mother introduced us all those years ago, because I know I have the perfect man for me with whom to enjoy life. We definitely belong together.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

{When They're Gone}

"What is the overall feeling in the home when he / she is gone? What is different? Is the home cleaner, louder, messier, quieter, lonely?" This is one of the photo prompts that has really thrown me for a loop. Sure, Cory is gone a lot. He works long hours and is usually gone for the day before any of the kids or I am awake. But that is our normal life, our normal routine. Cory being "gone" isn't anything unusual. Occassionally he will go away on a trip for a few days, but that doesn't happen more than a handful of times each year. So when this Joy Of Love assignment was posted I was really at a loss as to what to photograph.

Then today happened. My sister Becky had a professional development day for school so I kept her little girl, Emme for several hours. We had lots of fun and I took some photos of Emme with the girls. And it occured to me: These photo assignments always come with the reminder that our loved one can be anyone. Well, I certainly count my sister and niece among my loved ones, so why couldn't I use this photo? Ta-Da!

When Becky is gone for training, home-visits or other work-related activities, Emme gets to visit other family members. Most often it is her great-grandmother, Mom-Mom, her grandmother, Nana, or me. And we LOVE playing with her and getting our baby fix! She is a very happy baby and her personality is developing quickly. Her eyes light up when she sees Clara, Sasha and Dixon as she loves to watch them and try to play like the big kids. Today I discovered that she even loves our dogs! I thought she would be afraid of them so I've always kept them outside when Emme is here, but today has been rainy and they were inside with us. Emme wanted to touch them and giggled every time they got close to her. In fact, the reason she is smiling in this photo is because the pups are right in front of her!
I love watching all of my nieces and nephews grow and become little people, and Emme is no exception. And I'm grateful that every now and then I have a chance to spend time with her while her mom is gone. She is a doll baby and we all love her!

Monday, March 7, 2011

{Face: A Portrait}

After several days of no Joy Of Love blog posts, I NEED to get on the ball and churn out my last few photo assignments! I really thought I'd be done by now, but I've had a tough time getting pictures for these last days.

This particular assignment - take a picture of your loved one's face from the shoulders up - should have been an easy one. How hard is it to snap a photo of someone's face? Not very. But I wanted to get a photo of all of my beloved kids' faces together since I don't have any like that yet for this class. Not only is getting a decent picture of three kids difficult as one child inevitably won't be looking at the camera, has a drippy nose, blinks his or her eyes, or simply won't cooperate, BUT finding a time to get all three kids together when there is good natural light is nearly impossible. The latter reason is the one that really held me up. But today we had a two hour delay because of some light snow and ice, so we had a great opportunity to take advantage of the morning light that streams through our windows so beautifully.

This photo, while certainly not perfect, really captures the personalities of my three kids. Sasha is more reserved and is back a bit further than her siblings (even after I asked her to move forward), resulting in some shadows on her face and less sharpness (focus) of her features. But that's Sasha. She is often shy and reserved but happy to comply at the same time. She loves to please people and her face lights up with pride when she is told she did something well. Let me tell you, she does a LOT of things well! And she's rockin' her new haircut which she LOVES!

Dixon is just a little pip. After I was able to get his finger out of his mouth and his foot down from his face, I said, "Say cheese!" and he gave me a great smile. He is spunky, on the move, and wanted to be front and center for the photo. In fact, when he saw the girls sit down on the floor to take this picture, he plopped himself down between them instead of sitting beside Clara as I had wanted him to do. He knows what he wants and is determined to have his way! Love that little blondie.

And then there's Clara. Clara is the peacemaker, the one who wants everyone to be happy. She is just . . . sweet. While I was taking these photos this morning, Clara kept putting her arm around her brother and sister to squeeze them tightly together. I had to move her little fingers down from Sasha's shoulder because I didn't want to see them in the picture. But that's who she is: aways smiling, always happy, and always loving on her family. She's my doll baby.

These are the faces I love the most in this world. The love a mother feels for her children is beyond any other love that exists. There is nothing I wouldn't do for these kids to make sure they are happy, safe, and growing into the people God meant for them to become. These are the faces of my love.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

{What They Say}

As a mom of three kids who definitely entertain me with the things they say on a regular basis, I had lots of ideas for this Joy Of Love assignment: Simply capture something that a loved one says that melts your heart, shows the love between you, or makes you smile. Boy, do I have a list of doozies that my kids have said over the years! I love hearing the funny things that come out of their mouths that show their innocent creativity.

But I decided to focus on the little man today. He doesn't have a large vocabulary for an almost two-year-old, but he is picking up more and more words all the time. (Hopefully he'll start calling me "Mommy" instead of "Nana" soon!) One of his favorite things to say is "Choo Choo!" This boy loves, I mean seriously LOVES, trains. Cory and I - I mean Santa - got him a train table for Christmas and he has begun to collect motorized trains as well. Anything that has anything to do with a train is gold in his eyes. And lucky for him, there are very busy train tracks practically in our backyard. Trains choo choo past our house all. the. time. While the adults in the house find them a bit of a nuisance (especially Cory), Dixon is heaven. Every time he hears that first "choo choo" sound, he runs to the nearest door or window and choo choos back to the train. The joy in his face is priceless as he watches the train pass by. There isn't much that makes this kid happier than his choo choos!

So here is my boy looking for a train and saying "choo choo" this morning. Poor kid. I had to lie to him and tell him there was a train ouside to get this picture in the beautiful morning sunlight . . . but there was no train and even if there was one it would be on the other side of the house. He choo choo'd in anticipation anyway. What a good boy. Does that make me a bad mom? Perhaps I need to go by him another new train to make up for my fib.

Choo Choo, Dixon!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


OK, so February is over and so is the Joy Of Love photography class. But I clearly have more assignments to complete so I plan to continue posting my photos until I'm done with them all. I have seven more after this one and am looking forward to completing each one!

Anyway, this topic - Where - was a pretty neat one. Where did we know that he was "the one"? Where did we fall in love? Where did we get married? Any photo that shows where some momentous event in a relationship happened works for this assignment.

The photo I chose was taken back in 1998 shortly after Cory and I became engaged. We had our engagement photos taken at the James Buchanan Birthplace in Mercersburg, PA because this is where Cory finally ("finally" because it took him four tries to get it done!) proposed to me. We stood on a little wooden bridge over a stream in the woods, exactly where Cory dropped to one knee and asked me to be his bride. This moment solidified our future together and I knew from then on that I would be with this man for the rest of my life. A year later we were married! From time to time Cory and I go back to the JB Birthplace with our kids and it's amazing to reflect on how our family has grown and changed over the years. The last time we were there - last summer - the girls and I discovered countless wild raspberry bushes and collected a big bowl full of them to enjoy at home. It's a beautiful place full of beautiful memories.

I had to photograph this picture to post since my scanner isn't even in the same room as my computer so the quality isn't that great. However, check us out! Cory was still fighting to hold on to his hair while I was still using a curling iron to roll mine under. GAH! We look so very young and innocent - we hadn't a clue what married life would be like or what was in our future. All we knew was that we were happy and wanted to be together forever. What a treasure this photo is and what a treasure our ever-growing relationship has become!