My Saturday Read

It is Saturday, and as Hubby doesn’t work I like to sit with him while we drink our coffee and read. I read two very interesting, and very different articles this morning. The first was about a book a Portuguese man wrote about how he feels “Britons were drunk, dirty and deplorable”. He goes on to say that after living and studying in England for 25 years, this is his impression of the people. There are some people agreeing with him, to a point. But it made me think, “what kind of people did this guy chose to hang out with?”

Living in the States we will see the “drunk, dirty and deplorable” in many different parts of the country. Just as you will see in the UK, and I am sure in Portugal as well. But, that doesn’t mean we all live that way, or more importantly chose to live that way. So why did he chose to surround himself with this type of people for 25 years? He complained about how the water temperature in the University communal showers are set to warm or hot, there is no cold. He is upset that he doesn’t have the choice to have a cold shower! This makes the country a bad place? Oh, did I mention he is a cosmologist, renowned for his work towards demonstrating that the speed of light is variable? He also never mentioned having a family, or children. So it would seem to me he was living the single life, in the city. So what did he expect?

This man took the time, energy, money, and resources to write a book in Portuguese just to complain about how bad the Brits are. What a waste . . . I was disgusted. It had nothing to do with being English, it had to do with being a human being. My first reaction was to get on board and bash him, but that just gives him more notoriety. Hence I don’t mention his name, or link to his book. But then I found the second article, which I will link to – “And So There Must Come an End”

This is a read that will tug at your heart and wash away the disgust of the idiot cosmologist. Charlotte “Charley” Kitley has written a blog for The Huffington Post UK for the past year. She had Stage 4 Bowel Cancer, and passed away on September 16th. This is her last post.

After reading Charley’s post the cosmologist’s petty complaints are just that, petty. He has so much growing up to do. Life is too short to worry about things like the temperature of your shower water, or how someone else keeps their home. You need to keep the ones you love close, tell them you love them, and not care a single bit about the guy out there who has nothing better to do with his day but to bash what he doesn’t understand. Now, I just feel sad for him.

mon_benjamin_0181_cropxMy house is nearly always cluttered, but it is clean underneath. We don’t drink a lot, but will raise a pint or two in celebration. And there are times when we get so silly and crazy around here that my side aches from laughing so hard. If that makes us bad people, that I like being that kind of bad.

I will spend my time loving my family and not caring what those that judge may think. As Charlie said, “. . . enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it.” XXX

T-minus 22 days and counting

Yes, we are counting down the days to the wedding. The oldest is getting married in 22 days. Are we ready? No. Will we be ready? Probably not. Will it matter? Oh in the big scheme of things, no. Last year when our son was getting married we had very little to do with the planning of the wedding. His future wife was the only daughter of a mother who was very much into being the mother-of-the bride. We offered help, and did all we could, but it was not a collaboration like this wedding has been.

My oldest is marrying a man who has one brother. So his mother has no daughters to look forward to planning a wedding for. But more importantly to me, she is a sweetheart. So I was more than happy to share the experience. Even more so the kids had been adamant that because they were older they didn’t want their parents paying for the whole thing. So this wedding has been a wonderful collaboration of many, of both families and friends. But now that we are getting down to the wire it is time to organize all the collaborators and make sure there are no holes. That being said, we found some . . . not that they are major. Just things like, oops did we think about ordering the napkins? We never did decide on the Champaign flutes. Who was getting the rocks for the table centerpieces? Yeah, just the little things like that.

So, the last few days have been a bit of a flurry, and I think it isn’t going to stop anytime soon. We still have time. I’m finding that you don’t have to start panicking until you hit the 14-day mark. The kids “Aunty Mame” gets here on day 6, and then I can relax a bit too. I refer to her as that for a reason; she is a take-charge kind of person, and a godsend at times like these 🙂 She is going to be here for 2 weeks. The week before to help prep, and the week after to make sure we relax afterwards.

In the meantime the youngest and I were washing dishes the other night and the AeroGarden that sits in the window had a visitor.  Seemed a little odd, but then again, why not?

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9/11

It is that day 9/11 . . . Like so many others I remember exactly where I was. And you know exactly what I am talking about. Each year goes by, we who were not directly affected don’t necessarily count them. The events of that day did not change the everyday life we live. But to some it was a never-ending change. The loss of a mother, a father, a husband, a wife, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and the list goes on, and on, and on . . .

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I was in New York 29 years ago with my oldest visiting my Dad. My stepmom took this picture of us and the New York City skyline. You would never imagine it would change. There are so many things in life like that, you can’t imagine they would change. But they can, they do.

Today, instead of focusing on what happened, I am focusing on what we have. I look at that picture and I miss my Dad who has been gone since 2005, but I have the memories. I have my daughter who will be getting married in a month from today. She has found a wonderful man who is a perfect, quirky match for her, and they will make a happy life together. The rest of my children are all healthy, happy, and living their lives in a country that, even with its problems, isn’t a bad place to be.

So, I take today to be grateful for them. My sometimes loud, annoying, but loving, caring gang of kids. I wouldn’t want to be without even one of them. My wonderful husband, all the family, and the wonderful village of friends I hold so dear.

All the tragedy that there is in the world. All the loss that the people suffered through 9/11. There is still the ones we have here now, today, that we can hold in our arms. Who can hold us. We will always miss the ones that are gone, but we must cherish every minute we have with the ones we still have with us today.  heart11

Shoot in the Sunflowers

My youngest daughter is graduating from high school in May 2015. It is hard to believe. As part of that we parents have all sorts of traditional things that the kids get wrapped up in, class rings, ordering cap & gowns, and senior portraits. At least for me that has never been an issue as I have always taken the portraits for my kids. What is an issue is that the school won’t accept any portraits for the yearbook unless they are taken by photographers on their ‘approved’ list. These photographers have contracts with the school, and such reap the benefit of being the only ones that can do the senior portraits that are put into the yearbook. It really doesn’t seem fair, but what gets me is that many kids don’t seem to care.

This summer the youngest was talking to a bunch of her friends who come to her weekly open house. We offered to do free senior portraits for them to give me practice getting back in the saddle, and her exposure to what portrait photography is all about. Just about everyone said they didn’t want to have them done. Those that were getting them were doing it because their parents were forcing them. They don’t care what goes into the yearbook, so the standard shot they get each year is just fine with them. It was just fine with my older kids too.

So our idea didn’t go very far, but what we did come up with was in my mind even better. The youngest has had a much different childhood compared to her siblings. She has spent her whole scholastic time in the same schools, with the same people. With two in particular, that she has been friends with since 1st and 2nd grade. She has gone through Girl Scouts with them, school activities, classes, homework assignments, birthdays, Trick-or-Treating, and sleepovers. Over the years she has shared good times, and sad times, and they are still tight friends. So our idea is to do four seasons of pictures of the three of them, individually and together. Then we will put them all together in a book for them for graduation. Of course I will add pictures from the last 10-11 years as well, but it will be a beautiful journey of their growing up together. I am really excited to see the end result!

So, this is some of the fun we started with this week, pretty cool!

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Did You Get It?

In this time of technology I have an observation to make – RSVP, répondez s’il vous plait.  Which is basically French for “please respond”. Now, in the days of old when invitations were delivered by hand, people were not in fear of their invitation not being received. Even in later years, when the postal system seemed more reliable, this wasn’t an issue. But today, when we have so much being done electronically I find we have an issue. Do our invitation reach their destination in the first place? Also, if you don’t request a response how do you know if they received it at all?

In planning the oldest wedding we thought we would send out the Save the Date’s by email, and then the invitations by mail. Well it turned out to be a bust on the Save the Dates, as we had set up an email address to go with the wedding website, and the emails went into people’s spam folders or never got to them. Fortunately I caught it, but it is something you need to be aware of. Make sure you send them from an address the recipients are familiar with.

Then with my son’s wedding, his bride’s mother had quite the time getting people to return the RSVP cards, and was calling, emailing etc. trying to find out what the status was.  Some got lost in the mail, some didn’t realized they needed to send them in for one reason or another (i.e. part of the wedding party). So we have set up an online RSVP, and a phone number included in the invitation, no mailing cards at all. So far so good . . .

But the reason for my observation today is more on a personal note. In the business world we put read receipts on our emails to assure they are read. But what about personal ones? When we write to people, and we don’t hear back, how do we know they got the email in the first place? For me, I send out regular emails to my kids about one thing or another. If I don’t include something in the email that requires a response, and they don’t think to respond, I don’t know if they got it or not. Then we play the ‘tag’ game. This happened just last night. Did you get the email? What email? The one about  . . . I think so, why? So on, and so on. This causes stress, and someone ends up getting upset, me or them. Not good 🙁

So, I guess it is time to establish the proper etiquette for this. Personally if we are talking an email that doesn’t really require a response, I would respond with a “thank you”, smiley face, or a heart. Or just confirming I would be there with “can’t wait to see you”, or “looking forward to it.” But that is me. I think about my son and how busy his life is, and then I think maybe I should just put a read receipt on it so all he has to do is click it. But, that isn’t me, and to be honest I will probably forget anyway. No matter what we come up with I will probably forget the next time . . . *sigh* It is all this newfangled technology. Even though I work in web and graphic design, and in many ways know more about computers than my children, it doesn’t change the fact that the airwaves are full of technology. And Mom just wants to know you heard her <3

Kinship Family Fair

Wow! What a week it has been! Actually the last couple of weeks have been really busy. So the next few days I am hoping to catch up with all the photos I have been taking. Today I went to Cox Arboretum with the wild child and one of our village boys. But I have plenty of other pictures I have to address before I can even think about them. The oldest and her fiancé’s couples shower was yesterday. It was put on by his Aunts and Uncles and was just beautiful. But for this post we are going to focus on the photo shoot I did on Saturday August 23rd.

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Back in 2010 I was working for the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC). This program does wonderful work within the community with very little funding. Which means of course that the people who work there work very hard, (and is one of the major reasons I ended up having to leave – fibromyalgia can be a real bitch) but the causes they work for have always been important to me. The Kinship Caregiver Coalition (KCC) is part of their work and each summer they host the Annual Kinship Family Fair. This year was the 7th time they were to provide free workshops, school supplies, shoes for the kids, and lunch for the kids, grandparents, and relatives raising these kids in their homes.

I was very honored to be given the opportunity to step into my old shoes and pick up the camera for CHC and photograph the event for them. I arrived there just before 9am to find the parking lot full, and had to park way out in the field. This excited me as I knew it meant a good turnout. So I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures as I walked up to the entrance. When I entered I was greeted by Dionne, the Director of the KCC with a big hug as we go back to when I first started working at CHC in 2004. She introduced me to Cindy who is the ‘me’ working there now, and Emi. Then I saw Adel who had been there when I worked there as well, and more hugs. I was then let loose with the camera and had a blast.

Before I tell you how this even affected me, I have to mention all the wonderful people who came together to pull it off. There were many volunteers who helped keep things running smoothly. The presenters, not only for the Kinship Caregivers, but for all the kids. All the sponsors who helped provide the school supplies and support the event, and Shoes 4 the Shoeless who came to the event bring a free pair of shoes for each child, and their volunteers.

But for me, as I wandered around I found myself connecting with certain people. There were children that I would see through my lens trying on shoes feeling sad and resistant, but then later full of laughter and happiness. To see the change, the joy, and to connect with them myself – what a wonderful thing. When I use to photograph these types of events when I worked at CHC I was doing other work as well, so I couldn’t just focus on the pictures I was taking. This time was different. So I could keep going back, and looking for that child to find that smile, to find that happy face, to connect with them. It was so different being able to put my total attention on capturing that ‘moment’.

I did learn a lot too. I learned some weak spots, and strong areas. I know places I need to work on, and equipment I need to work towards. I do feel more confident in myself, but that is the goal with every event I shoot, and every project I take on. So, thank you Dionne for helping me get back in the saddle again. This was a special day on many levels, and one I will not soon forget.

Here is the link to a gallery of just a sampling of some of my favorite pictures taken that day – Kinship Family Fair 2014