Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Celebrating the brave moments.

Last Christmas Georgia got a pair of ice-skates from Tarah and Sharon.  We wanted to try them out but the winter just wasn't much of a winter and when it would work for us to skate there wasn't really enough ice.  I also knew taking her to a rink where there were lots of kids and other people zooming around would be a recipe for failure.  She'd get overwhelmed, intimidated, and just shut down. So the ice-skating never happened.

This winter however, is a different story.  As you're aware we're polar vortexing so there is no lack of ice.  Some friends of ours have a little pond at the front of their neighborhood that has frozen into a perfect little rink.  Last Saturday morning we put G's skates on and headed over.  She watched my friends two little girls skate for a bit while she sipped on hot chocolate contemplating.  Georgia is pretty timid about new things that she thinks she can't master immediately.  She'd usually rather not do them than try and fail.

Eventually though she decided that she wanted to try.  And try on her own.  She got up, shuffled around a bit, let herself fall into the snow around the perimeter of the rink, and got braver and braver.  She was adamant that she didn't really want to hold our hands.  She was good.  

And she was good.  It's the first time in a while that I can remember her being so confident and fearless about something new.  When I really think about it though I don't know that she was actually fearless….she just didn't let it control her actions.  She rose above it; something that makes me realize how old she's getting.  Old enough to give herself some healthy self-talk and overcome something. 

I told her how proud of her I was.  Not for skating as much as for trying, and not worrying about being perfect.  Proud of her for being brave.  It's a little thing, for me, to give ice-skating a try.  But for Georgia it was a big deal.  And all of our kids have them.  Celebrate those brave moments--even when to us--they just seem like an everyday occurrence.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

My "I will nevers."

I will never cook a big meal for my whole family on Mother's Day.  Never.  I won't do it.  I won't even do the whole, "Well....Chris can grill and I'll just quick whip up a salad, and bread, and a dessert," thing.  Because we all know that quick whipping up a salad and bread and a dessert thing ain't quick--especially when it involves six or more people.  And maybe to most of you--not cooking on Mother's Day seems like an obvious choice.  But growing up--we never went out on Mother's Day.  My mom or grandma always cooked.  Always.  We had gorgeous meals.  They were amazing.  And maybe the steaks were grilled, maybe even a skewer of mushrooms was grilled--but the rest?  All mom.

About three years ago when I volunteered to host Mother's Day I declared it would be our first year that we'd be going out and I promptly made reservations at one of my favorite restaurants.  After all, I was one of the moms now.  The day is supposed to be all about us taking it easy (ish), so I was doing it.

And I have a handful of other "I will nevers."  Some stem from my own childhood and some stem from my husbands upbringing.  We've all got them--to pretend we don't is just plain lying.  Even our own parents have them.  My mom hated when her mother made liver and onions and meatloaf for dinner.  She'd never make it for us even though we loved both those dishes and we're eternally grateful for that "never."  She was a morning person, my grandma wasn't.  I'm more of a hybrid and have no problem when eleven a.m. on a Saturday here and there rolls around and I'm still in my pajamas; Georgia (and my mom) can't stand it.  She wants to be dressed five minutes after she's awake at 7:00 a.m.  I'm sure one of her "nevers" will be 'lazy Saturday mornings.'  Oh….and here's an ironic one…..I swore to my parents that I'd NEVER make my children stay at the table until they'd finished all their salad because they tortured me with that nightly….setting the timer, watching me gag, threatening me with an early bed time, and all kinds of horrors (that I now use myself for other offenses).  But guess what…..Georgia begs for more salad…..every night.  My mom laughs a big evil Halloween laugh at that one whenever she's witness to it.

And on-and-on the nevers go.  In general…..I think it's okay.  We all have to find our own rhythm, carve out our own habits and priorities, figure out what makes us tick and how we work best. However, the "I will nevers" have a habit of turning into demands instead of desires a lot of the time.  And that's where things get dicey.

Most of the time….when desires, the way we like it best, and how we think something should be done become demands they start to impact us in a negative way.  And those around us too.  These desires aren't wrong, but when they turn into, "If it doesn't go the way I want, someone's going to pay because of it," that's a problem.

They can ruin relationships because they become a hinge on which your tolerance, grace, reality, patience, compassion, and perspective for others and their circumstances lie.  One tiny tiff about one of your "nevers"being compromised isn't such a big deal….but when it happens over and over……people might start distancing themselves from you, asking you to be involved in less and less, and see you as hard to please. Layer after layer of that becomes too hard to peel back in a reasonable amount of time….and soon…your relationships just aren't what they were.  And all because one of your "nevers" stopped being a desire and became a demand.  Often an unreasonable one because we tend to blow our desires up to gigantic proportions and they become distorted into platforms that we treat like ethical and moral lines in the sand.

Just something I like to think about now and then when I start to think that maybe my "nevers" are getting too prominent.  What are my nevers?  Are they worth it?  Could they flex a little?

Are they becoming demands?

How about you?  What are your "nevers"?

Oh….and here's one of my new ones.  I'll never make puppy chow again…………

I've never really liked it but I was tempted by this cute red velvet cake mix Valentine's puppy chow on Pinterest.  So I made it.  And dealt with the powdered sugar mess that all puppy chow produces.  And the puppy chow was as mediocre as they all are. So there you have it…..I'll never make puppy chow again.  At least that's my desire….if it's Georgia's all time favorite snack….I'm sure I can be persuaded.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Capturing your everyday.

I used to be a professional photographer.  And I own all the fancy camera stuff I should own to shoot weddings and senior pictures and family groups.  But I got tired of eating wedding cake every Saturday all summer long and sometimes Friday night too.  Because let's be honest…..after three wedding cakes in May they all taste the same the rest of the summer.  And the hours I would spend all week between weddings editing photos got tedious and when you stop loving it you have to stop doing it because people deserve to have wedding photographers who live to take wedding pictures.

So now I take pictures just for me.  And a lot of them.  It's one of my favorite hobbies; to see people and beaches, and food, and pretty things through a lens helps me focus on the best parts that the world I live in has to offer.  I'm also a firm believer that you don't need all the fancy gear to take good pictures.  You need practice, some general knowledge of sound photo composition, and some creativity.  Case in point--my IG feed is my favorite body of work.  Body of work--can I use that ostentatious term for something also categorized as a "feed"?  I think so.

Here are some of my favorites from 2013:

MAC Russian Red deserved its own picture.  It dries your lips out like a day in Antarctica….but it looks good while doing so.

Georgia actually took this picture while we were on a school field trip.  She did an amazing job I think…..getting all the important elements of the photo in the picture, it's not blurry, and she's just so proud of it. She'd never have been able to do this with my huge Canon.

Some questions I get a lot about Instagram:

Favorite apps?  

PicFx hands down. Myfavorite filter is PFX5.  I use it almost 100% of the time to get a softness in my pictures that makes everyones skin look flawless and colors pop.

Beautiful Mess is great for adding words to pictures and they have some unique fonts.  Their filter Poppy is also a good one.

There are lots of other fantastic ones that I use here and there but those two are my go-to's.

Do you ever take your pictures in Instagram? 

Hardly ever.  I usually take them with the camera on my phone, save them to my camera roll and then upload them to Instagram once I edit them. It's a lot simpler than it sounds and doesn't take any time.  I also will e-mail myself pictures taken with my Canon DSLR and save them to my camera roll for editing.

Best companies for printing Instagram prints?

Single Prints:  Foxgram--You can get a few sizes of square prints and they're super cheap and delivered as fast as Jimmy Johns.  Prinstagram and Persnickety Prints are also nice sites for printing a variety of sizes. Origrami  is a good deal on packs of prints and the box they send your prints in is prize enough!

Posters, Calendars, Other Products:  Canvas Pop prints amazing IG photos onto Canvases and they're always on sale.  Prinstagram prints incredible posters and desktop calendars.  Sticky Gram creates magnets out of IG prints and they're adorable as well as iPhone and iPad covers.  Blurb will take all your IG prints and put them into a gorgeous glossy book.

And there's a lot more out there--these are just my most favorites and I've used them all so I can vouch for the quality and ease of use for each company.  If you don't use IG but have access to it I'd really encourage you to make 2014 the year that you start.

It's such a personal and fun and easy, easy way to capture everyday moments that are here……..and then gone.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I'm taller than you. Yeah, but my name has more letters in it.

And I'm two months older than you.
But I'm younger than her.
Yeah, well my hair is longer.
That's okay, mine is wavier.
I have two G's in my name.
So, I have an F.
Well…..we both have O's.
My birthday is the first day of spring.
Yeah--but it's hot out when it's my birthday.
I have a bitty baby.
So do I….and a big American Girl doll.
I do too.
I've been to Florida.
Me too…..with you.
I'm wearing a dress today.
Yeah well……

"Hey girls," I interrupted……"you're both wearing a dress.  The same dress and the same leggings."

Oh yeah.

(Proof of matching outfits.  And I snagged this picture from my other online home.) 

I listened to my daughter and her best friend comparing the goods this morning as they sat peacefully next to each other at the little desk in our kitchen coloring.  They weren't looking at each other; heads down, concentrating on what they were doing, talking quietly……but firing back and forth who had what and who didn't. It was friendly.  Just….focused.  I listened for a while without stopping it until I felt like it was teetering on ridiculous…..and let's be honest…..arguing about who has more letters in their name was insane right from the get-go.

But it got me thinking.  As a thirty six year old…..their conversation was just……meaningless.  At least to me.  But it wasn't to them.  Being taller, older, and owning a name full of letters--or the ever amazing letter F was a big, real deal.  Different thresholds of excellence for different ages.

For six year olds……the season that birthdays fall in.
For thirteen year olds…..who texts you at night.
For twenty year olds…..what kind of laptop you have……heck…..I still worry about that too.
For thirty year olds……where you're at in your career.
For thirty five year old moms…..what brand of stroller you have, are your diapers organic, do you make your own baby food, do you have the right kind of baby carrier,  is your car seat top-of-the-line….and really, I could go on here because I'm a thirty five year old mom.

Wait, I'm thirty six.

The point is…..who listens to me talk about this….stuff…... and thinks, "it's funny…to hear her worry about all that…..it's so silly….it's just not a big deal.  It's like when six year olds used to worry about who was older."  

To me it's real.  To those beyond me, who've acquired more life, they know it's fleeting.  I'm not suggesting that what is important to people isn't important.  I WANT my four year old to engage in conversations about age, and names, and states visited…..it's normal and expected for a confident, secure almost-kindergartner, but I want to help her understand that they're not details to get crazy upset about.  And I'm going to talk to my friends about great strollers and maybe even wish I had the latest and greatest toys for my play room from Land of Nod, but the perspective I need to have about those things transcends my mere thirty six years.

So this year…..my goal is to act like double my age…..at least in perspective.  No orthopedic shoes yet….although I'm sure when I reach the age of 72 there will be "cool" orthopedic shoes and knock-offs.  It never ends.  I'm realizing that.

But when it comes to perspective…..tacking on a few years can't hurt.  And I believe in an age where we can all see what everyone else is doing, buying, making, photographing, eating, packing for, driving, wearing, reading, listening to, and engaging in the second they're doing it…..in photo app filtered and edited glory, asking yourself, "What would someone double my age think?" might help you just appreciate the beauty and creativity of others versus feeling down about yourself because of it.

Happy 2014.

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