Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Last Pack of Gummies

Liam bought a box of gummies at the grocery store today for his treat. There were 10 packs of 6 gummies in the box. Liam had some, Cate had some, Simon had one, though he'd been offered more. When it came down to the last pack of 6 gummies, Liam shook the box and realizing that there was only one pack left, he went to his big sister: "There is one pack left. I think we should give it to Simon. He didn't eat as much as we did" Cate agreed. Liam took the last coveted pack of gummies to Simon who said "It's ok, you and Cate can half that pack. I had one. And Mama gave me some potato chips a little while ago." Liam then carried the pack back to Cate "Simon said we could have it, he didn't want it." Cate looked at Liam, and then at the pack of gummies before saying "I am not really hungry for a snack, Liam, you can have them. Thanks for asking for gummies for our treat today though, little buddy" She rubbed him on the head and then continued on with her homework.

This is the reason why I stinking love the guts out of my kids. They are the sweetest, most loving, giving kids ever. I know, I know....it's just one pack of 6 little Super Mario shaped gummies, but they are just so flipping cool about stuff like this. They are not typically jealous of one another, they are not selfish, they are not covetous. They are content with what they have, and are happy to share whatever they have with one another. I wish, so much, that my brother and I were so thoughtful of one another while we were kids. We were not, at all. Watching my kids grow up in such harmonious friendships makes me want to call my stupid brother up and tell him how much I love his stupid ass. My kids inspire me in so many ways. Watching them love each other is one of the most inspiring displays of kinship that I could ever imagine. If they treat their future spouses with the kindness and selflessness that they give to each other, we'll be having some very fun and harmonious family Thanksgivings and Christmas' in 15ish years!

Let me give some examples of how close these kids are:

- Cate is older now. She is 11. On the cusp of the pubescent years. She has that pre-pubescent odor, that need for daily showering, that desire for privacy...When her brothers are "afraid to sleep alone", she will hear them being rambuckious in their room and put on a boring documentary on her laptop(I love you Netflix) and invite them to come watch a show with her. She knows that 15 minutes into any documentary that doesn't involved bigfoot or aliens, they be out like a light. She snuggles Liam close because she knows that he cannot go to sleep without snuggles. And she engages Liam enough so that he talks only to her because she knows that Simon cannot fall asleep if someone keeps talking to him. She is almost a teenager, despite the fact that she is only 11, but she continues to put her own wants and needs second to the needs of her baby brothers. It's flipping brilliant!

- Simon simply worries about Liam day and night. Just yesterday, The boss had carried Liam with him to run some errands. When I brought Cate and Simon home from school, the very idea of caring where Liam was was completely lost on Cate. Simon, on the other hand, searched every room before coming to me in a panic "Mama! Where is Liam!?!?!?" I explained that he was with Papa and so he slowly adjusted to the idea that sometimes Liam has a life outside of waiting for Simon to come home. When Liam did finally arrive home, he was greeted with the most welcoming of hugs to ever he bad, and Liam reciprocated with a tight hug and a "I missed you, today, Simon!".

- Liam is the baby. He is spoiled beyond all reason. I am not joking about this. Liam is, aside from 3 hours of school a day, a ferrel child with no discipline, no structure, and no responsibilities. He just does 2-3 hours of school every day and after that he is this wild child running around drinking coffee and playing minecraft all day. But he LOVES his sister and brother and his cat. He is really the only reason that the cat ever has food or water. He dumps the cat liter bucket in the woods. And just the other day, he found two of the nook chargers and went on a personal mission to find Cate and Simon's nooks to charge them so that we could load one new game for the each so that when they got home and had their homework finished, they'd both have a new game to play.

How boys respond to their sister getting older:

Liam: "She takes showers now because she is almost a teenager."
Simon: "We can't use Cate's bath water anymore because she shaves her legs and underarms and it's gross. But...we *whispered* don't talk about it"

Liam: "Are you ok, Cate?"
Cate: "Yes, I just want to be left alone"
Simon: "Is it the cramps? Do you need some water?'
Cate: "It's fine, Simon, just go away please!"
Simon: "Liam, She has cramps, let's watch TV in the living room, ok buddy?"
Liam:  "Ok"

Mama: "Cate, do you want to, you know, fix your hair a little before school?"
Cate: "My hair is just messy, not much I can do about it!"
Simon: "You look pretty, Cate"
Liam: : "Your hair looks nice, Cate. You look pretty"
Cate: "Thanks, boys! Thanks a WHOLE lot".....you little jerks....

Mama; "Honey, you might want to go do something with your hair"
Simon: : "Her hair is fine, Mama. It looks natural"
Cate: "THANK YOU, Simon! Mama, this is my hair. This is just what it does. I don't see you fussing about how Simon's hair lays or how Liam keeps his hair!"
Mama: "Gee, Thanks a bunch, SIMON!"

Liam: "Cate wants pizza"
Mama: "I don't have pizza, I have corn dogs."
Liam: "Cate says corn dogs make her want to barf. Do we have anything else?"
Mama: "Can you tell your royal highness to come in here and request her own food?"
Liam: " She is not feeling well, but she said she'd take a ham sandwich and a glass of spring water."

Simon: "We don't want to sleep in our bed, we're scared! Can we sleep with Cate?"
Liam: "We hear noises at night!We want to sleep in Cate's bed"
Mama: "Boys, Cate's just in a really bad mood tonight"
Liam: "Simon, we have light Sabers! We can protect ourselves!"
Simon: "Yeah, we can just defend ourselves, as long as we are together, right Liam?"
Liam: "Yep!"

Aaaannnddd that is how you you deal with your older sister turning into a real life, for real, no doubt about it, GIRL! As much as I want to pinch my darling daughters head off these days, I am thankful for her little brothers who dote on her as much as she does them. I honestly never thought that this would happen but I am exceedingly grateful that it has.

It's not always things like that last pack of gummies. Sometimes the gracious acts that they present to one another extend much farther than what us mommies and daddies can conceive. Siblings are our first best friends if we are lucky. I love my silly and stupid brother, but we were never as close as my kids are to one another. I don't know what sparked this relationship, it was certainly nothing we intentionally did. It just happened. I suspect because they are all so close in age, because we forced that "motherly" roll on Cate with the boys when we needed it, but here we are. 3 kids, close as can be, all looking out for one another. They certainly fight and argue. It gets brutal. They hate each other some days. They are normal. The boys, 13 months apart in age, throw down quite often. Liam always wins. He's tough as nails and scrappy to boot, and Simon is kind of a weenie. And to calm them all down, all we need is a kettle of hot tea and everyone is ok. They all love their hot tea. It's like kid xanax.

Our kids are mean and rough and vengeful and horrible to each other like every other group of siblings in the entire world. But what gets us through the fist fights and hair pulling is the sincere love that they give to one another when it really matters. They are the siblings, best buddies, care-takers of one another for ever. We have never told them "This is your family, love them with every fiber of your being!" and yet they do this. It's absolutely beautiful and stunning and I will never stop being amazed by their devotion and affection for one another.I don't even know how they can stand to be around each other sometimes. They just do. And they just do it so well and I love the crap out of them for doing it.

No one will ever convince me that I don't have the best kids in the world.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My 30th, In Great Detail

I have to say... it doesn't feel much different other than the fact that people keep welcoming me to my 30's :-) I had a really lovely birthday weekend. Although I worked all day in Atlanta, I was generously given a super nice work space and left alone for 6 hours. I think the boys felt bad about abandoning me while they worked in the conference room, but it was incredibly relaxing and liberating to be working in an office away from home and away from the kids and the housework. I had an enormous monitor that has spoiled me and I uploaded 300 pictures in less than 15 minutes after I was finished. The work environment made me so productive that I was finished with all of my out standing sessions and weddings, I even had an hour to work on Liam's lesson's plans for this week. AMAZING! I want an office now. When other friends arrived in town and after the boys were finished for the day, we headed out for dinner and drinks. I ate so much I hated myself, but I quickly forgave myself after the 3rd beer or so. Hey, it was my birthday party!

While I was very grateful to have spent my 30th with "my boys", It wasn't the raging party time that I had always had in mind for this particular birthday. I am really only up for one raging party time every couple of months now. Since we just had one on New Years Eve, I was perfectly content with a more quite evening out, which is why we probably should not have stopped by The Earl Saturday night. Loudest bar ever(I haven't been there in years), and we weren't even at the show, just in the bar area. I sat sandwiched between the boys so I could talk to them both. Err, perhaps I should say so that I could shout loudly at them both to repeat everything that they said at least twice. The older I get, the more sensitive I am to loud environments. The beer, however, was very nice. I loved how full pints of beer kept magically appearing in front of me. I never had to ask. I suppose I have the boys to thank for that :-)

Two of our great friends met us in Atlanta for dinner and we all headed to The Earl together, where they meet some of their old friends. We were also celebrating my friends 40th birthday(which is today, Happy Birthday, Cam!), and after a very loud 2 hours, the three of us decided to move along and part ways with our other buddies. I officially turned 30 in a much more quite bar, and I even had cheesecake with a message written in cinnamon beside it. What a sweet experience!

The boss drove me home very late, but I am so happy that we decided to come back home. There is absolutely no way that I would have made it to Mass on Sunday morning if we hadn't. It was extremely important to me to go to Mass on my birthday this year. I had half-considered seeing if I could find a Saturday evening service to attend since I ended up with time to kill, but I really didn't want to go alone, to a church that wasn't my own. I am funny like that. I almost went alone to my church on Sunday but at the last minute, the boss woke up and decided to go with me. He was exhausted after only a few hours of sleep and that meant the world to me that he pulled it together to celebrate Mass with me on my birthday. He gave me one of my gifts on the ride to Rome, a beautiful heart necklace and another gift later that night, a very nerdy inspired hobbit-hole door locket(it glows in the dark...my nerdy heart nearly exploded) So blessed to have this fella. 

After a nice day with both of our families, I was thrilled to come home at 8:30pm and immediately put kids to bed because my darling friend insisted on seeing me ON my birthday. Mindy brought me my FAVORITE roses, wine, chocolate, cheesecake, and a gorgeous new necklace. In return, I made her drink wine and watch Vikings with me because I am actually pretty selfish on my birthday and that is all that I wanted to do. That, and eat cheesecake. I am pretty sure my friends are trying to keep my fat so they can feel better about themselves. Jerks...

I really don't know if I can truly express how precious and thoughtful my best friends(the boss included, he was so sweet) were to me this weekend. So many of them knew that I was very emotional about this birthday and worked very hard to remind me how special and how loved I am. I'm teary eyed even as I type this. I am a very blessed old lady ;-) And yes, I do use overuse the word "very". 

My 3rd and final gift from the boss will be here on Friday. A new kitchen. All new appliances. That will warrant it's own blog post because it's pretty much the best birthday present ever. 

Hope you are all having an easy adjustment back to reality after the holidays! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

Good afternoon and Happy Stinking New Year, y'all!!! 2015!!!! 

Yeah, so that was floating around pinterest all through 2014. Now it's time. Get with it people. 

We had a pretty fun year full of all kinds of crazy things. I think the thing that will always incapsulate 2014 to me will be that this was the year that we released Seth's first film. Blind Tiger was SUCH a huge part of our year, for better or for worse, and I don't regret one second of it. It will also be there year that my kids were Doctor Who character for Halloween, and frankly, I have no idea how we will ever top this years theme....ever. 

This year, we also made several new friends. To me, making new friends is such a precious and magical thing. As I mentioned in my last post, friends come and go, but I am always happy to see them come and I cherish every moment that we spend with them. 

It's been an amazing year for our family, and for many of our loved ones, it's been an incredibly difficult and heartbreaking year that they are more than happy to bid farewell to. Our hearts go out to our dear friends and family who are grieving the loss of loved ones this year, hurting, in pain, or experiencing uncertainty about the year to come. 

Ringing in the New Year was a beautiful experience once again. Along with my darling friend, Mindy, who has become so much more than just a friend to me, we hosted yet another beautiful, sparkling, and fantastic New Years Eve party. It takes us approximately 2 whole days to decorate her beautiful home for this party and many more months and weeks to prepare for it. As always, it was well worth it. How special it is to celebrate the end of a year, and the start of a new one surrounded by our beautiful and amazing friends and families. My goal for next year is to have ALL of my best girls at this party long enough to get a photograph of us all together. I missed besties that weren't there, but I certainly had a blast with the ones who were there....including our sweet Joy! Mandi and I were SO happy that you were there with us! You being there was the highlight of the evening! 

It was an amazing night, complete with evening gowns, dancing(even if it was just a few adults and a lot of kids), plenty of champagne, and sending some beautiful paper lanterns up into the Rome sky at midnight! Check out my facebook album for pictures!

This brings us to the coming year: My 30th year in this beautiful world, with my beautiful friends and family. I have a lot of "resolutions". I type resolutions with quotation marks because I always fail with resolutions. This year, my resolutions are pretty simple. I resolve to be a better friend. That one is a biggie. I have too many people who coddle me and love the guts out of me to simply be a mediocre friend. I am going to try to not do that anymore. As cliche as this sounds, I really do plan to loose some weight this year. I never care to be a size 2 again. But I would love to wear a size 6 dress without having to wear Spanx :-) Basically, I want to tone up. So here's to that! Finally, I feel very strongly, and very passionately, about becoming strong again in my faith. We had become very lazy about going to Mass. There was always something that gave us an easy-out. I'm done with that. About 3 weeks ago, I got up on Sunday morning and started getting ready for Mass. Everyone was getting ready with me, even the boss. Just before we left, the boss said he had an upset stomach and decided to stay home. He didn't want me to "force" the boys to go, but Cate wanted to go with me. Since then, Cate and I have been going together. It makes me sad that the boys are not with us, but I am doing what I can. I want to go, and so does Cate. So we have been going and have been enjoying our Sunday Mass' together. It's not about feeling better about going, it's food for the soul. I have always been a dedicated Christian about going to church, my entire life. Somehow, I have lost sight of the importance of it all. I am not the type of person who believes that you should go to Mass to feel good about yourself, or to boast to other people that you were able to pry yourself from your bed and attend Mass for 1 hour out of our week. We are commanded to do so, and I simply can't allow myself, any longer, to set a poor example for my children. Starting this year, all 3 of my children will be at Mass on Sunday's. I can't make the boss do anything, but I think I know him well enough to know that if his whole family is going to Mass, he's not going to be staying home :-) 

Those are my 3 attainable goals for this year. I have others, but if I mention them, I am sure that I will fail at them. I'll jinx myself. I'm not superstitious but I am a little stitious ;-) (it's a Michael Scott quote from The Office. If you have never watched The Office, make doing so a New Year Resolution, because you will understand a lot more of my humor if you do. It's on Netflix)

Watching less Netflix is NOT one of my resolutions, Btw. 

Happy New Year to you and yours. If you had a great 2014, I wish you an even better 2015. If you had a terrible 2014, I wish you a wonderful and amazing 2015. If you had a so-so 2014, I hope 2015 is not so so-so. Whoever you are, whatever crosses you bear, I hope that you rejoice in this fresh start and enjoy an amazing year. Remember to hug the people that you care about, overuse the words "I love you", speak kindly to people that you don't know, and even kinder to those that you do know. Let's make 2015 the year in which we treat everyone with kindness, respect, and love. Attend parties that you are invited to, call your friends on their birthday's. Tell your kids that you love them and that they are amazing every day. Make time for your spouse, and tell them that you love them and that they are amazing and beautiful every day! Listen to music as often as you can. Every now and then, buy a nice bottle of wine to drink with your spouse, or your friend, or even just by yourself!  Paint your nails, buy books, take a hike through the woods, swim in a creek,  buy a new dress, go visit your grandparents if they are still around. Cook dinner for your mom, have a nice long chat with your daddy over a bottle of Bourbon with some cigars. Reach out to a long lost friend, make a new friend or 5. Support some local business and get to know the owners. Allow someone to cut in line at the check out counter if you are not in a hurry and they only have 5 items compared to your cart of groceries for the whole week. Offer to watch a friends kids so that she and her husband can go out for dinner. Throw a surprise birthday party for a loved one. Make some homemade gifts for your girlfriends on their birthdays. Girls love homemade gifts! 

Whatever you do, think about it today and make a decision to make 2015 a year of giving. If we all give a little, we will all feel it, a lot. 

Happy New Year Peeps! Thanks for a wonderful 2014, I can't wait to see what 2015 brings us!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Turning 30, y'all.

I am highly annoyed with my brain this morning as it saw fit to wake me up at 5:15am and whisper "Hey...I'm bored, wake up and talk to me!" By 5:50am, I was wide awake pondering all the important questions in life like "What is my Apple ID password? Why can't I remember it?" and "What would people say if I went back to being a redhead? I always liked my hair when it was red..." As I rolled off the bed and began putting on whatever clothes I had landed on, it dawned on me that I am now officially less than a week away from turning 30. Now, I have been pushing this inevitable birthday to the very back of my mind for several months because I just wasn't ready to think about it or what it means for me. Time is running out, however, and I have to come to gripes with this dreaded and horrible thing. Dramatic? Maybe. But I am truly not happy with turning 30. It has very little to do with the actual number and even less to do with the aging process. 30 is just one of those big milestone birthdays that people love to include in their 15-year plan that they create in their early 20's. By the time I am 30....I'll have that degree. I hope to get married and start a family by the time I am 30. By the time I am 30, I will have mastered applying liquid eyeliner. I had a few goals for myself and for the most part, I have not let myself down too much. I definitely don't feel like a loser. I think my discontentment with turning 30 comes from somewhere else, and I can't quite put my finger on it. That won't stop me from trying, though. So since I am up at an ungodly hour on a day when I could have slept until noon, I think I will just start typing about seasons and change and see where we end up. This should be... interesting.

Seasons: I used to talk a lot about seasons of life. This happened after I had casually complained to a cousin of mine about being poor and having 3, at the time, very young and needy children. I remember she just smiled, without a single drop of sympathy and said "Girl, it's just one season of life, and seasons change all the time" At the time, I remember thinking "Uhhh, rude." because I was in that period of motherhood where I honestly just wanted to complain and I wanted people to sympathize. The last thing that I wanted was helpful, rational advice on living my life. Sheez. Sometime later, after her words had had time to sink in, I began to love the idea that all of the bad seasons would eventually come to an end. Whatever Winters I would go through would fade into Springs and Summers. And they did. Boy, did they ever! The past few years have been a blast. The money situation hasn't changed much, but we have learned to live with that. After all, who could ever complain about anything when they are surrounded by so many loving and amazing friends! It's been quite a party. But you can't stay at the same party forever, right?

Change: I am beginning to feel change and if you know me very well, you know that I am highly uncomfortable with change. I don't like it when my life changes too drastically, too soon. I don't like it at all when people change. I have never understood that at all. Pick a personality and stick with it. Did you ever become friends with someone in one season of their life and find that they become a totally different person once that season changed? That's the worst. Say what you want about me, but Winter or Summer,  20's or 30's, I'm still the same little weirdo through it all. Meh, thankfully I have plenty of friends, so when someone starts being weird and I can just do the "Uhhh, yeah, so...I'll be over here playing with these kids while you figure that mess out. Laters" thing and try not to take it personally because people do change. They always change. When they say "people never change" they are really only referring to people with poor decision making skills and drug addicts/alcoholics and even the latter of those is debatable. So really, just people with poor decision making skills....The rest of them all change on me at some point, and it gets very distracting. So if I withdraw a bit when someone changes, it's not because I don't like them anymore. I just don't like change very much. So the whole friend thing is shifting a bit, not in a bad way, it's just different and I am wondering if that is something that is going to effect my 30's. 10 years ago, I had a whole different friend group, aside from 3 people. I have had and lost touch with enough friends to know that you can't remain best friends with everyone for ever. People change, circumstances change, and lives change. What brings friends together during one season might very well help push them apart as our positions in life change. It's a natural thing, and while I know that it is nothing to be fearful of, I can't help but feel sentimental and sappy about ever-changing relationships and seasons.

The Act of Turning 30: I will not be entering my 30's without any grand party or celebration. Next Sunday, I will celebrate Mass in the morning, eat lunch at my in-laws, play on my almost-as-old-as-I-am iPod while my in-laws make weird and awkward jokes about me turning 30, then I will probably eat supper with my parents, and go to bed early because the next day the kids go back to school. It's going to be pretty boring and yes, that is incredibly depressing to me. On the other hand, I am thinking maybe I can convince my parents to order Chinese food for my birthday supper because I think Chinese food and wine would make me feel better about having a boring 30th birthday. Boring isn't so bad though. Boring is better than bad. If nothing else you can put a positive spin on it and make it sounds quite nice. "Hey Ape, what did you do for your 30th birthday?" "Oh, I had a nice relaxing Sunday with my family. Very low-key and peaceful" Sounds better than "Nothing. We did nothing." Yeah, we'll go with relaxing and peaceful ;-)

The Next Season: In my next season of life, my 30's, I won't have so many expectations. All I want from this season is to be loved, and to be hugged relentlessly, by my children and my husband(if anyone talks to Seth between now and my birthday, tell him I want more hugs and kisses for my birthday! He doesn't give them out as freely as he used to!). I want to be the best friend without expecting anything from my friends in return. I want to live my simple little life and rejoice in the small things that make it so beautiful. When people change, I will do my best to give them room to grow. When new friends emerge, I will pull them in close. When people that I love hurt me, I hope that I forgive them. I will try to embrace "change" a little more gracefully, without such fear and hesitation. Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. Boring doesn't have to be a bad thing. 30 doesn't have to be a bad thing.

I can't do it all. I can't be everything. I am not going to attempt those things.  But I can be a good person, and I can be myself and if that's the thing that people remember about me one day when I am gone, it's not so bad. As long as they forget what a little turd I was in my early-mid 20's, I'm good!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I think I might be a cat

My pet, Scratch, came to be with us this past Summer. At the time, she was a tiny little kitten, precious and adorable and everyone who came to the house this past Summer absolutely fell in love with her. She'd crawl up on our shoulders and nuzzle her face against our cheeks to fall asleep. She was perfect for us. We honestly needed her at that time. Seth was a ball of nerves and so was I being home with the kids all day. We just adored her. Then...as it happens with all creatures, she grew up. Pets, of course, grow up much more quickly than human children and before we knew it, we had a full grown CAT in our home, complete with a litter box, toy basket, and weekly bathing, grooming routine. Hey, I may be a cat person, but I want a clean cat. Yes, the stupid animal gets a weekly bath. She's getting used to it. Just kidding, she still hates it but she's doing it anyway(don't worry PETA, it's cat shampoo).

Since she's grown and changed physically, she also changed in her behavior. She's getting a little fussy and finicky these days. So, like a good cat-mommy, I googled this stuff and I realized that....I am basically a cat.

Cats rely strongly on body language to communicate. A cat may rub against an object, lick a person, and purr to show affection - I DO this! I mean, I don't lick or purr, but I rub on Seth to show him that I need/want affection. 

The strength of the cat–human bond is mainly correlated with how much consideration is given to the cat's feelings by its human companion.- ME, ME, ME!!! The more people give, the more I give. The more they pull away, the more I compensate for the lack of consideration, at first, and then I begin to pull away. I 

Some people regard cats as sneaky, shy, or aloof animals. Cats have an inherent distrust for predator species such as humans, and often seek to minimize any contact with people they do not perceive as trustworthy.- I distrust humans, too! And I also minimize any contact with people that I do not perceive as trustworthy. Not that people outright betray me, but rather, if I hear your incessantly gossiping about other people when you are with me, I have to wonder what you say to others about me when I am not around? Best friends/sisters excluded, of course. 

Cats relate to humans differently than more social animals, enjoying some time on their own each day as well as time with humans.- I just want a balance of being a complete and total introvert when I want to be left alone and expecting everyone who knows me to show up and party with me when I feel like being social. Is that really too much to ask? Come on....

Cats have a strong "escape" instinct. Attempts to corner, capture or herd a cat can thus provoke powerful fear-based escape behavior. Socialization is a process of learning that many humans can be trusted. - Don't corner me. Don't expect me to give you every detail of a certain thing. Do not, under any circumstances, expect me to defend myself with words...I will flee. I will escape by any means. Avoid conversations about my faith, or my long term goals, or about what I do all day because you will not get any answers. Those topics are not idle chit-chat, they are prying into my personal life and the only people who do that are people who want to use your answers against you. This is based on my experience of humans not being trustworthy. 

Cats like to organize their environment based on their needs.- Do I really need to explain this one?

When a human extends a hand slowly towards the cat, to enable the cat to sniff the hand, this seems to start the process, and can also remind a cat of a human they knew long ago.- 100 times, yes! A precious, sweet, loving, caring, and sympathetic soul can make me completely trust them within just a few hours of knowing them. Apparently, I have an animal-like instinct of detecting trustworthy people and I hold fast to those humans and I never willingly let them go. 

There is a widespread belief that relationships between dogs and cats are problematic. However, both species can develop amicable relationships by reading each other's body language correctly. The animals can better read each other's language when they first encounter each other at a young age, due to the fact that they are learning to communicate simultaneously.- Most of my friends are dogs, and I love them very much. I am married to a dog. We function quite well together, and he is my best buddy. Because I am, apparently, a cat there are times when I hide from him. I hold back, and I do lash out. Because he is a dog, he is forgiving of my behavior and fiercely protective of me. 

In short, My spirit animal is....CAT. No wonder Scratch and I get along so well. 

Here are two short funny youtube video's about Cats VS Dogs, portrayed by humans. It's hilarious. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Eve: Don't look at my floors

I started my day at 4am. I couldn't sleep because of an annoying back ache. I want a new mattress for Christmas. Or a new back. At the very least, a new heating pad because mine died and it was my best friend/inanimate object. I was already awake and I know my body and brain well enough to know that if I am out of bed at 4am, there is no way that I am going back to sleep on a couch or in another bed. I decided to get a jump start on the day and made a pot of coffee. I did some laundry and cleaned the den and yellow bathroom as those rooms are all on the far side of the house, away from the bedrooms, and I could clean without fear of disrupting anyone else's sleep. I crawled back into bed around 7:30 and got a solid 1 1/2 hours before the kids started asking for breakfast :-)

We are having another hootenanny here at the house tonight! Last Friday night we had a few friends over, but tonight will be on a much larger scale and everyone will be in a much more festive mood. It didn't start out as a hootenanny, however. Like most evenings when we host, our guest list always starts off very small and on the day of the hang out, the guest list quickly spirals out of control. There are typically a ton of people in town for Thanksgiving and we love to try to get everyone together, particularly some of our Atlanta besties that we rarely see. I am excited about tonight, as I always am about hosting. I love hosting. I love spending the first part of my day cleaning and getting as much laundry completed as possible. Then I get to do some light decorating, depending on the season and closest holiday. And I usually add a few finishing touches like some flowers or greenery from the yard in pretty vases and of course, what party planning day wouldn't be complete without a good talk-n-to with the kids about how I spent all day cleaning and if they mess it up before my company can see it, I will destroy them.

I consider myself a pretty thoughtful host, at least in the pre-planning stage of hosting anyway. I have guest baskets in my bathroom. One for general company, and one in case anyone decides to play it safe and stay the night instead of driving back home. I am always stocked up on a variety of shampoo & soap, unopened toothbrushes, my best towels washed and sitting right on eye level in the linen closet. There is always plenty of everything at our house. It's not because we love striving to be the best hosts in the world, or because we want to impress anyone. We do this because we want our house, where we are at the time, to feel like a home. We want our guests to feel comfortable and welcome, right down to having more pillows and quilts than they know what to do with. And of course, we want them to have full bellies and a full glass of wine. As the evening progresses and I begin to relax and unwind(that means once I have had enough wine that I stop caring about things other than wine and conversation), I become less of an awesome host, but the ground work has been laid. The freshly cleaned sheets are already on the beds, breakfast meat is thawing out in the fridge, I have already given them free reign to make themselves at home.

For all that I do to prepare for the enjoyment of company of friends and family and their children, There is one thing that I absolutely refuse to do. I don't care if you are the Queen of England. I don't care if you are the biggest germaphobe in the world. I don't care if you think we are disgusting, and terrible, and should be ashamed of ourselves. I absolutely REFUSE to mop my floors before I host a dinner party.

So a word to all those who are my friends, and my family: This house is your home, too, when you are here. We have everything that you need. Unless you need specific medication for a particular condition, or if you are in a wheelchair. We don't have a ramp but if you can get in the door, you're all set.  You will never see us turn anyone away, or tell someone that they must bring food and wine to share in order to party with us. We LOVE having our house filled with our friends and families. But my floors will never be clean. We have 3 kids and a cat. They are disgusting little creatures, and I apologize in advance because, no, it's probably not a good idea for your baby to crawl all over our floor. You will want to boil any object that regularly does into your kids mouth if it is dropped on our floor. But I absolutely refuse to spend an hour and a half mopping a floor that will look like a herd of cattle walked over, after spending 3 days in mud and muck, within 2 hours of company arriving. My pre-party mopping consists of tossing a wet lyson wipe the floor and using my foot to scrub one kitchen floor tile that just looks too gross to let slide. I will mop the next morning after collecting all of the beer bottles, cigarette butts from the yard, and stray plastic kids cups from everywhere imaginable on our property. If this in anyway is off-putting to any guests, I will extend the offer to make yourself at home. If your home has sparkling clean floors, you are always welcome to pick up the mop and make yourself at home.

And with that....I'm going to go into my kitchen and pour a massive amount of Pinot Noir into my largest wine glass and begin chopping the vegetables and assembling appetizer trays.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! I am thankful for you all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Photographers are really thinking: Part 1: Wedding Guests

There are so many things that I hold back as a photographer. I keep my trap shut 9 times out of 10 because many times the things that I would just love to say are unprofessional and unkind and it is very unlikely that anything that I do say will make any difference at all. I thought about posting this on my photography blog, and then I thought better of it because it seemed a little too catty to be perceived as anything other than a bitchy rant. However, after I wrote this and then decided to not publish it on a more public forum, I was having a difficult time not sharing it at all because it is the absolute truth. I know I cannot be the only photographer who feels this way. We put up with a lot and we do it with a smile on our faces, because it's part of the job. Trying to get out of the door and get there on time is a struggle if you have kids. Communicating with everyone during the course of the day...stressful. Working with difficult lighting, equipment emergencies, and cooperating with less than cooperative weather...stressful. Bride freaking out about hair, bridesmaid being difficult, mother being overbearing, wedding director being a nightmare, and where the hell is the florist???....Stressful. All of this takes a great amount of patience and quick thinking on a photographers part. We have to act quickly when the schedule is disrupted. OK, so the florist hasn't delivered bouquets and boutonnieres yet. Wow, the bride is 40 minutes late. We have to roll with the punches, we have to fit everything into whatever time slot we can find and it's not easy. However, I think the most stress that I personally experience from a wedding day shoot is dealing with the guests. I don't think I have ever had a "Bridezilla", my brides have been great for the most part. The wedding party is at least pretty cooperative in terms of scheduled photographs. And I love goofball groomsmen. They are fun, they are sweet to me, and they have usually been in enough weddings to know that the more they cooperate, the sooner they are finished with photos.  The guests, however, can often display such appalling behavior as to make me wonder if they have ever attended a wedding before in their lives. If they have ever attended a wedding, I have to wonder...was it like, a penguin wedding, you know, at the zoo, or something like that? Or, I mean, do you just have absolutely no social skills or etiquette at all? Is there a chance that you ingested a lot of led as a child? Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?!?

So without any further explanation, here is the first of many 10 things photographers would like to tell wedding guests:

10 Things Wedding Photographers Wish That They Could Say to Wedding Guests

10. I have a name. My name is April. It is not "Photographer Lady", it is not "The girl in black", it is not "Picture girl". I'm nearly 30 years old, I have three children...don't call me "girl". I make a point during each wedding to introduce myself to the wedding party, and the parents of the bride and groom, if we have not already met. "Hi Y'all! I'm April and I'll be doing the photography today." Most of the time, if someone forgets my name, they will politely say "I'm so sorry, I forgot your name" And that is 100% ok. It is not offensive at all. It's a wedding day, and it's stressful for everyone involved. You forget your socks, you forget to put on deodorant, you forget the photographers name. Many times, I will be referred to as Ashley, Amber, or Amanda. Hey, at least they remembered it was an A name.  When I begin formal photo's after the wedding, I make a point to say "Hi everyone, I'm April, I'm the photographer, if you could all remember to look at me, stand still, and smile, we'll be finished very shortly and we can all get to the reception." If I can remember the names of 5 bridesmaids, 5 groomsmen, 2 flower girls, 2 ring bearers,  4 parents, and 1 officiant, almost all of whom I have never met before this very day...the least you can do is refer to me as "Ma'am" if my name is too hard, or if you were preoccupied when I introduced myself(it happens, I understand, just don't call me 'girl'). I am flattered that I am so often mistaken for someone to which the term "girl" could apply, but simple life experience should have taught you that you refer to an individual, with whom you are not acquainted enough to know their name, as Ma'am or Sir.

9. Do you want me to tell you what it feels like when you are the photographer that is attempting to get 10-20 people in a group shot? Ok. Imagine that you are trying to heard a group of really hungry, very hot or very cold cats into a small space and then get them to all look at you at the same time and smile. There are 5 or 6 dogs standing behind you with their iPhones, point and shoot camera's with a flash on(unnecessarily) and half of the cats are looking at them, the other half is just staring off into space, or talking to one another. And imagine that while all of this is going on, the cats keep asking you "How much longer? Are we done yet? Wait we didn't get Nana! Someone go get MeeMaw! MeeMaw can't get up these steps, we need to move down. Don't make me look fat! Should we turn those overhead lights on so you'll have better light? Your flash didn't go off, photographer lady."  So, take that example, and substitute "Adult human beings" for the word "Cat" and put "Intrusive, annoying adult human beings" in the place of the word "Dogs". Yep, I'm getting grouchy. It's not because the wedding was stressful, or because the bride was a bridezilla, or that the groomsmen were goofing off....it is because the family and friends made the group shots go 30 minutes over the scheduled time because they couldn't act like adult human beings having their photograph made for 5 minutes.  There is no one in the room more ready to get to the reception than the photographer and the bridal party, so shut your pie hole, get your picture shot, and go away.

7. You're not the photographer. I am. Even if you are A photographer, today, you are a guest. Show respect to the bride and groom, who invited you to share in this day, by putting your camera away and allowing the photographer that they booked to do his/her job effectively and efficiently. If there is any part of you that truly is a photographer, you will comply with this.

6. This is our job. This is our profession. It is what we do for a living. Hey, I apply band-aids to my kids knee's all the time, but that doesn't mean that I am a nurse. The fact that you looked at wedding photography on pinterest doesn't mean that you are a wedding photographer. So please do not tell me what I should be photographing. Or that you "saw this thing on pinterest where the bride and groom did this, and they were like that, and it was SO cute." You are waisting my time, and you are waisting the Bride's parents money.

5. I don't have time to give you a lesson on back lighting with your iPhone. I'm trying to document a wedding. I'm not trying to be rude, I am only trying to do my job.

4. As the contracted professional photographer, I have to abide by the rules of the church/officiant. I am frequently not allowed to use a flash, move around, and sometimes I am not even permitted to take photo's during the ceremony at all. In the business, we call this....professionalism. If you don't see the photographer snapping away throughout the ceremony, that most definitely means that this particular church/venue/officiant has rules that permit photography, or intrusive photography, from taking place during a very sacred and holy ceremony. Be thoughtful of your surroundings and exercise a little bit of respect. If you simply cannot help yourself, photograph from your seat and with your flash off.

3. The bride and groom signed a legally binding contract with me stating, among other things, that I am the sole photographer for this wedding. I am also most likely friends with them on facebook. Standing behind me, after I have set up a shot, and photographing that shot is wrong. When you put your photography business' logo on that photograph and put it into your portfolio, that is illegal.  It's actually illegal.

2. You are not the only person who would like to see the bride before the wedding. You are not the only guest who wants to personally congratulate the couple immediately following the ceremony and tell the bride how beautiful she is. They appreciate your presence and your love. However, they have a long and stressful 30-45 minutes of photographs before they can go celebrate and have some fun. Please, please, PLEASE, do not take just one minute to hug them and congratulate them immediately following the ceremony because you will be just one of 40 people who want just one minute with them. If everyone gets that one minute, that means that no one eats at the reception for 40 extra minutes. No one is being rude, they are just on a schedule. Respect the schedule. I get paid by the hour, so it's no skin off my nose. You're just taking money from their pockets and putting it into mine. Because I generally really care about my clients, I wish that you would not do that.

1. All of the points that I made above, rolled into one single very important thing: This day is not about you. She may be your cousin, who you feel is a little sister. He may be your baby brother and you are so proud. You may be very passionate about beginning your photography career and would love to seize the opportunity to do some real wedding photography. None of this matters, because these are your feelings. You matter to the bride and groom. That is why you were invited. However, this is their day. The single most wonderful and precious day of their lives. They want to share it with you. Let that be enough. Don't make it about you.

At some point I will take the useful information from these "What Photographers are really thinking" posts and compile a well articulated and useful list of things to tell the general public. I want them to be aware. I find that many guests do things so wrong, but they don't realize that they are doing anything wrong. They are just enjoying the day, having fun, and will go home that night to happily share on social media the pictures that they shot, and tag their friends to say "Congratulations!" and that they were blessed to be able to share that day with them. They will never know that the photo that snapped of the bride and groom feeding cake to one another was the shot that ruined the paid photographers photograph because they used their flash. They won't think about the time they used to congratulate the couple cost us precious minutes and that is why the bridal parties grand entrance happened 30 minutes later than scheduled. I shoot weddings. That is my job and as such, I am well acquainted with wedding etiquette, how things are done, or should be done. I notice things that the average guests don't notice. I know things that they would never think of. The more weddings that I shoot, the more I am understanding that the tides are turning. Things are slowly going back to a more traditional way of wedding conduct. I am seeing receiving lines, and I love those. They make everyone feel welcome and appreciated without the chaos of trying to hide the wedding party immediately following the ceremony. Perhaps, when I am ready, I will include that awesome tip for the brides. It takes 20 minutes, but it is neat and organized and on the schedule.

None of this means that I do not love my job. It is amazing. I love every portrait session, every wedding, every event. Like any job, there are things that we do not enjoy. And not every guest is a thorn in my side. Just this past weekend I had two guests at the wedding that really made me love my job even more. A young gentleman with a point and shoot camera is usually my worst nightmare. This one was different. He shot with me before I even started doing wedding photo's. We were just admiring the beautiful scenery. He asked me to help him get a good picture of the waterfall from the bridge. We played with his camera and laughed about the difficulty of photographing running water with sunlight bouncing off of it. Later, at the reception, he asked for my help again but only when he could clearly see that I was not busy. A short time after that, he instructed me to get a plate and take a break. I told him that I didn't have time and he immediately told me "You MAKE time!" So I sat down to enjoy delicious roast beef and salad. Another guest, a lady, helped me coordinate the grooms family for formal pictures after the ceremony. It was becoming very chaotic. She and I made eye contact briefly. She broke eye contact and began directing the family. I guess she could sense my frustration and desperation. Or maybe she was annoyed that I was taking so long. Either way, she was very helpful. And if she was annoyed with me, she never showed it. It's guests like these two that keep me in line. They are not all rude or intrusive. In fact, most of them are prefect guests. But it's those few that display such disregard for anyone other than themselves that really make want to turn around and smack them. I am very protective of my brides and grooms, and of their parents(who are paying me) and I have little patience for self-absorbed guests who think that they are somehow entitled to say or do whatever they like.

My job is to document this wedding. The guests job is to dress up, show up on time, witness the nuptials, go to the reception where they can eat food, drink alcohol, socialize, and dance. So...do I sympathize with the guests? No. No, I do not. A guests job is to enjoy themselves and maybe smile for a few photographs. So please, if you are ever a guest at a wedding...do your job. And please allow the photographer to do their job.


24:365 Seth brought home beer! Hmmm beeeeeerrrrr(homer simpson voice)