• ~Psalm 46:4-5~

    There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
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Spinning

Life feels a little bit overwhelming. There’s just so much going on right now. At school I just got some awesome new equipment that makes me love teaching again. I’m swamped in a good way with wedding photos to edit for my photography business. At home we’re still wading through the terribly dramatic twos. My sister’s getting married soon. Sometimes I feel a little bit dizzy from everything -like that feeling of spinning around until the world looks like a blur. It’s a happy but stressful way to live. The days just sort of blur together.

So I’ve been trying to step back from the chaos. Bri and I have been going for bike rides after school. Hubster and I have been chilling on the couch when I would normally be absorbed by the computer. And I’ve made an effort to reconnect with my girl friends. It’s been so nice to slow down again and enjoy life.

growing up and other random ramblings

My love for blogging seems to ebb and flow. Some months, I can find a story or a picture to share every day. Other months find me ducking in to share a quick anecdote and a picture. That’s the way I roll. I’m not apologizing for it, or anything.

But sometimes, after lurking on other blogs instead of writing my own, I find that I’ve lost my voice. That hasn’t been too much of a problem here, but on my professional blog, I am suffering from a major case of laryngitis. I find that I either repeat myself over there and just repost things from this blog, or I agonize for hours over what to type. It’s so hard to just let go and throw my personality into it.

I wonder if this is what it’s like to be shy.

Our darling Bri has been growing up during my long silences over here. She’s such a big girl now. Today we went to the mall with my assistant for practice shooting. Before we left, I packed the diaper bag with her sippy cup and some treats. Then I left it on the counter and marched right out the door! Brilliant! Luckily we keep spare diapers in the van, so all I had to make up for were the forgotten treats. Bri surprised me by using the straw correctly on her juice box. I didn’t know she could do that by herself now! Usually she makes a huge mess by squirting juice everywhere.

She also surprised me by climbing up the flower slide all by herself several times on the playscape. Usually she asks for help, but today she figured out how to do it all by herself.

We were delighted to discover that the pretzel shop was giving away free pretzels in the food court. And even though we got booted from Sephora (because I asked if we could take some pictures – harrumph – didn’t even get to take the lens cap off in the store) it’s pretty safe to say that all three of us girls had a marvelous time.

Bri still says cute little things that I hope I’ll never forget. She likes to say Mumby instead of Mommy and at night when we draw up her bath she asks us to “put bubbles known it.” We have a plethora of baby dolls that she adores. Her most recent treasure came from her Daddy for Valentine’s Day.

We were all sick last weekend and didn’t get to celebrate. So Thursday afternoon, when we arrived home from school, Hubs had a vase full of roses and a new Dora doll on the kitchen table for us. He’d also cleaned the house and bought me dark chocolate. Each of us had a sweet card with his love to us. It was so much more special than the expected commercial holiday! We loved it!

a day in my life

There are so many little moments that escape me as they slide by. I thought I’d try to capture some of them today.

4:56 am – Hubster came in to kiss me good-bye before leaving for work. A few seconds after the door slammed it occurred to me that I should have asked him if the snow came.

5:01- Fell back asleep.

6:30 – Alarm clock radio turns on and our friend the DJ announces that snow did not fall last night. (No surprise.) My school is not delayed. So I have to get up.

6:45 – Bri wakes up and calls for me. She scampers around the house using her favorite phrases. “I watch Sesame Street?” “I eating.” “Want buh-nah-nuh.”

6:56 – I’ve now tried on three different outfits involving multiple layers. I finally settle on two layers of pants, a long sleeved shirt and a sweater. The budget cuts have seriously impacted the school’s thermostat.

7:00 – Start dressing Bri for the day. The laundry needs to be done! Cute pink dress with long sleeves, thick white tights and a pretty sweater.

7:23 – Run outside to start the car. Bri freaks out, thinking that I’m leaving without her. Load up the supplies for the sweet tea lab. Then back inside to make my lunch, Bri’s milk and the pot roast for dinner. (Love that crock pot!)

7:30 – Finally heading out the door.

7:45 – Drop Bri off at daycare. Give her milk and a banana to eat in addition to the toast and grits that the daycare serves. Get a sloppy banana kiss from Bri before leaving. (Best part of my day!)

7:48 – Realize that I’ve left the ladle at home and will definitely need it for lab today. Head back towards the house. Gonna be late.

8:02 – Pull into my parking space at school with ladle and lab supplies. Spot a kid from third period. Wrangle him into carrying lab supplies to the classroom for me.

8:15 – Pledge of allegiance. Moment of silence. Announcements.

8:21 – Begin teaching Chemistry students. Go over homework.

8:35 – Notes on ionic bonding. Oxidation numbers. Electron dot diagrams. Naming ionic compounds. Practice problems.

9:10 – Class changes.

9:15 – More Chemistry students. Lather, rinse, repeat.

10:05 – Class changes.

10:10 – Physical Science kids arrive. Spend twenty minutes reviewing the mixture station labs from yesterday. Discuss terms like heterogenous, homogenous, miscible, immiscible, concentration, molarity, colloids, suspensions and emulsions.

10:30 – Break up into lab groups. Each student gets a small concentrated cup of tea and each student gets a large diluted cup of tea. Groups have sugar and individuals are instructed to add the same amount of sugar to each cup. We discuss concentration, dilution, and the kids get to drink the tea. They record their results and conclusions.

11:00 – Clean up and wrap up.

11:05 – New class of Physical Science kids. Lather, rinse, (lunch) repeat.

12:30 pm – Planning period. Begin typing up lesson plans for next week. Research testing requirements for continuing certification. Realize once again that we have a four day weekend next weekend. Happy dance.

1:22 – Run to the potty. Won’t have another break for two hours!

1:25 – Class changes. New set of Chemistry kids.

2:30 – Class changes. New set of Physical Science kids.

3:20 – School day ends. Clean up sticky wet desks and spilled sugar. Realign desks. Finish typing lesson plans. Post them for parents to see online. Make copies for Monday. Empty splash bucket from lab. Clean up lab supplies and stack them near the door so that I’ll remember to take them home. Lock laptop up.

4:35- Finally leave the school. Head over to the daycare.

4:45 – Chat with the ladies in the front about the photos I took for the Chamber of Commerce. One of the photos is the cover image for the new community magazine.

4:47 – Find Bridoodle playing near the door with Baby (her baby-doll) and a wooden stove. Poor Baby. I squat down to talk to her at eye level and instantly find myself surrounded by two year olds. One little girl hugs me from behind. One little boy plays with my hair. Two kids crowd in to say, “Hi!” Bri becomes protective and jealous. I scoop her up and away from the crowd. We collect her things and head for the door.

5:00 pm – Walk into a cold house. The pot roast smells heavenly. Turn on the heater. Turn on the TV – 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. Sit down to check e-mail, facebook, Twitter, etc.

5:26 – Hubster calls to tell me he’ll be a little late getting home. Nothing major. (I love it when he calls me like that!)

6:03 – Put some rolls in the oven.

6:26 – Prep the table for dinner. Bri sits on her stool chattering away. “I color. I color Mickey Mouse. See? See Mommy? I coloring.”

6:47 – Sit down with Hubs and Bri for pot roast, carrots and potatoes. Yummy!

7:03 – Spontaneously decide to make honey toast for dessert. We all eat a piece. Deliciousness.

7:18 – Hit the shower while Hubs cleans up the kitchen.

7:32 – Dressed in PJ’s with a towel on my head, I find Hubs on the computer and Bri “reading” books.

7:48 – Time for Bri to go to bed. We say prayers together as a family. Bri’s feeling pretty silly tonight. She gives me really long kisses where she wipes her mouth back and forth across my cheek. We laugh hysterically.

7:55 – Start typing this post! Edit photos. Watch mindless TV. Wait for Hubster to fall asleep on the couch so that we can head to bed.

asking for “mowh”

The other day Bridoodle and I were eating lunch together, while Officer Hubster was out chasing drug dealers and writing traffic tickets. We were at home in our jammies. I’d whipped up some boxed mac ‘n cheese (with a handful of cheddar added in for extra yumminess) and we were happily munching on plates of steaming cheesy goodness. It was a beautiful mommy-daughter moment. Bri was examining each bite with a “Yummy!” and an “Mmmmm” thrown in frequently for good measure.

As I neared the end of my plate, Bri stopped and looked up at me. “Want mowh.” She waved her fork over her macaroni.

I smiled but upon closer inspection realized that she still had four or five bites left on her plate. “Sweetie, you have plenty. You don’t need any more. Eat the bites on your plate.” It was heart warming that she liked my cooking. (Don’t laugh at me for calling Kraft mac n’ cheese cooking.)

However, a tiny familiar voice piped up inside me. “That’s just like you, Cindy. Aren’t you always asking for more when you already have plenty? Didn’t you just ask God for more money, more time and more funness?”

I listened to the still small voice. I held the thought close to my heart for a few days. It reminded me that I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. That I have an awesome family and plenty of toys. That my job lets me stay home when one of us is sick and then I still get to spend all summer by the pool. That I get to explore the world of photography almost unhindered except for my own habit of spending money too quickly. I really have no reason to ask for more.

I’d almost forgotten about the incident until tonight. We sat down as a family for a simple dinner of buttered noodles and green beans. We had crescent rolls set aside with local honey for a semi-dessert. Bridoodle got a surprise glass of chocolate milk, much to her delight.

She happily ate her noodles and her green beans. We both held our breath watching our picky eater chow down on a GREEN vegetable. (Usually she turns her nose up.) She chattered away between bites. “Daddy eat beans. Mommy eat beans. Bri eat beans.” After eating about half of the green beans she looked up at Hubster. “Want mowh. Want mowh beans.”

I quickly counted up the beans left on her plate. “There’s still …” A movement across the table distracted me.

Hubster picked up the bowl and looked at me grinning. “What kind of father would I be if I denied my little girl more green beans?” He doled out another spoonful onto her plate.

The message slammed into my heart like a baseball bat connecting with a ball. Tears welled up in my eyes. Hubster’s grin fell off his face and he stared at me like I was crazy. “Are you okay, Cindy?”

I squeezed my eyes closed and bowed my head a little, for just a second. I figured my husband could chalk it up to PMS. Father, my prayer was silent, please help me to ask for more green beans and not more macaroni and cheese. Forgive me for seeking things out of selfish desires. I want to ask for the things that will help me grow spiritually. Help me see the green beans that You’re eager to give me. Thank you for this message. Amen.

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! ~ Matthew 7: 8-11

day 5, day 6, and day 7

I posted my pictures over on Flickr at the right times, but neglected ye olde blog. Here are the pictures for the rest of the week.

day 5: silver theme

Don’t be alarmed. Officer Hubster let me play with his toys. I didn’t really get arrested.

I did however manage to castrate the male part of my tripod so that my camera is permanently … screwed. (I find that lame jokes are my way of dealing with frustrating situations.)

Any tips on fixing this situation?

day 6: T’was The Night Before Christmas

Our Christmas traditions so far have largely incorporated traveling. This is the first year since we’ve been married where Santa will find us sleeping in our own beds! The stockings are hung. The new kitchen set is assembled.

There is one tradition that we’ve maintained through the years though. Even with all of the travel. Hubster always reads the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

day 7: Santa Knows Where I Live

My Christmas toys included a 3 piece studio lighting kit! I am stoked about putting it to good use. But first I need to take a nap! Merry Christmas!!!

It’s been a lovely run and I can’t wait to see you all again in the spring!

Day 2 ~ Treat

Today’s seven day theme was “treat.” I know I’m going to sound so spoiled, but it took me most of the day to pick out a treat for this shot. I had an abundance of options but I couldn’t pick one!

Hubster finally suggested that we go get hot fudge sundaes and rent some movies. That made my ears perk up! So we headed over to *Bruster’s ~ much to Bridoodle’s delight! She loves ice cream!

It was too cold outside to play for very long. Hubster was only patient enough to let me set the auto-timer twice. I was pretty proud of myself for being able to get the shot that fast. Usually I toss out dozens of outtakes.

Did I mention that I have the best family ever? I think setting up the shot was the real treat!

*And just in case you’re curious, I didn’t receive any type of compensation for this post. I don’t do reviews. I just like capturing life as we live it.

Day 1 ~ Christmas Time is Here!

It’s time for another seven days run! I love this quaterly tradition. Every few months we reconnect with friends by posting self portraits and explaining the stories going on around ourselves. Last year I started out the Christmas run working at home all alone. I had a huge portfolio due at the end of January and I needed to spend Christmas break working on the tedious parts.

This year, I’m taking a break from both jobs. I only have one photo shoot scheduled for my two week vacation. (That’s the best I could do. I am a workaholic after all!)

So I did a mini-shoot with Bridoodle this afternoon and captured some of our Christmas things. I used this mirror again so that the tree could be in the background. I also used lots of Windex but the mirror kept getting covered in tiny handprints. Bridoodle thought that they added character.

While Bri and I played with the camera and the tree, Hubster hung my new picture frames on the wall behind me. I’m in the process of creating a matching gallery for the living room. We’ve designed it to work as a studio for me. Santa’s bringing me some equipment that will allow me to do indoor shoots in the colder months to come.

We had to pull the tree away from its spot for the frame installations. I love the way the lights glowed off of the hearth tiles. This one below ended up being my favorite shot from the series.

It was fun to spend some time relaxing and remembering the joys of Christmas. Somehow it seems a lot more stressful as I get older. I have to make myself pause to reflect on the meaning and wonder of it all.

for the bride-to-be

She’s beautiful. The kind of beautiful that lights up a room with laughter and the smell of cookies. I honestly don’t know how her fiancee stands to live fifteen hours away from her. And I say all of this knowing full well her many faults because she is my little sister. I’m very proud of her.

I watched her yesterday, surrounded by friends and loved ones as she opened gift after gift at one of her wedding showers. We’d been asked to write down marital advice for the bride-to-be and I found my slip of paper to be too small to capture the words I wanted to say. In an effort to be poetic I merely wrote, “The early years fly by so fast. Write down the best parts and be patient through the worst.” I felt so sage.

No one tells you what marriage will be like. The good, the bad and the ugly. Most people just stick to the good stuff. And maybe it’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s just hard to put it into words. But every fairy tale seems to end with the magic words, “and they lived happily ever after.” Only as far as I know, nobody lives in the happily ever after.

I wanted to write something more substantial on the card, something that would help her know what to expect in the foggy future of marriage. I wanted to tell her that the new towels she was unwrapping will one day have muddy stains on them. The everyday china that she finds enthralling at the moment will one day be chipped and dirty in a sink full of dishes. The man that seems to hang on her every word now will one day pretend to listen while his brain jogs down more interesting paths.

Of course, I didn’t share these predictions with her. It was neither the time nor the place to be offering that point of view. And more importantly, I was afraid she wouldn’t understand my meaning. It sounds rather dismal at first glance.

You see, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in marriage it’s this – things change. It’s normal. You get a dog. The dog gets muddy. The towels get stained.

You have a baby. The baby spits up all over you at the table and in an effort to clean you up, your husband knocks your plate to the floor. It chips. Then it goes in a pile of dishes in the sink while you head off to take a shower. He takes the baby and cleans her up for you.

That topic that you find mesmerizing – the one you talk about non-stop everyday – it makes you feel alive. Well, he loves you to death, but he finds that topic beyond dull. He’d never tell you. So he pretends to listen because it makes you happy. He’s really thinking about the way your mouth curves when you smile.

Hands down, the best part of her wedding shower was at the end of the newlywed game. The groom had answered a bunch of questions on a tape recorder and my sister had to guess the answers before we heard his versions. She did a great job of predicting his responses. At the very end he had recorded a message just for her. During part of that he said, “Our wedding still seems kind of far away, but I can’t wait for it to arrive. You’re my best friend and I love you.”

What I really wanted to tell my little sister on the advice card that we were given was this: “The towels will get stained. The dishes will get chipped and dirty. There will be days when you feel like you don’t recognize the people you’ve both become. Cling to this. Never forget this. Y’all are best friends. You love each other. As long as those things don’t change everything else is an adventure.”

Ooops! I missed a day.

Honestly, I’m actually surprised that I made it all the way to the half way point of NaBloPoMo (posting every day in November) without missing a day. I didn’t think I’d last a week! The lesson I’ve learned this go ’round is that I’d rather post a few good posts each month than a babbling post every day. I think my posts turn out better when I take some time to stew over them for awhile. So I don’t think I’ll be blogging every day anymore. I’m going to just hit the highlights instead!

So why did I fall off the wagon? It was a pretty good reason in my opinion. Yesterday we had some very special company. My sister-in-law and her husband came over for a visit. It was wonderful to hang out with them because for the past year they’ve been living in Scotland – that’s right – the Scotland – located on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Needless to say we had lots of stuff to talk about and we ended up chatting pretty late.

Then Hubs and I had to make a decision on Bridoodle’s plans for today. She has a pink nose that we think is a little fungal infection. Personally I think it’s kind of cute, but I’m her mom. And her eye started gunking up yesterday which means we have another old friend- pink eye. So I pulled out the eye drops from last year and we’ve been applying some over the counter fungal cream to her nose. Poor thing! We felt like it was a good idea to keep her home today since pink eye is so contagious during the first 24 hours. All the other daycare moms can thank me for playing hookie (hooky?) from work. I’m sooo sacrificial!

 

a bottle of lemonade please

When we were kids, we loved to ride on horseback with Daddy up to the convenience store for a treat. Mama would always tell us about her childhood excursions where she’d get a bottle of lemonade. I think it cost 10 cents.

DSC_0350

My favorite treat was a honey-bun with a grape soda or a Yoo-hoo (chocolate drink). Then we’d ride back to the barn through the woods. I love this little old building. Even though it’s closed now, it reminds me of those days.

DSC_0345

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