30 June 2011

Exciting stuff...

I try not to pimp my LITTLE photog business too much on the blog.  Word of mouth is a place I like to be.  But, I had to share something pretty great with all of you.  I'm doing a couple of blocks of mini-sessions at a secret {super amazing, incredibly beautiful}location in South County on July 24th and July 31st.  The minis will begin at 4pm and the last session will be at 7:30pm.  I already have several slots booked, so if you want pricing info or you want to book a session, email me!  This is a great way to get fabulous, natural light photos at an affordable price.

Also, if you or someone you know is having a newbie...I just got my hands on some great new props in my newborn/infant arsenal.  Take a look at a few {and that pram is the REAL deal}:

The owl hat {pictured with the 'baby' nest}, the elf hat, and the strawberry hat are all made by Tara at My Crochet Obsession {and on Facebook}.  

29 June 2011

Party in the works.

Betsy's favorite thing to eat is probably cereal.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  No matter.  I saw this amazing cereal buffet birthday party on the internets, and I stupidly didn't bookmark it.  I can't find it for the life of me, now.  BUT, it gave me the spark I needed to throw a little something together for Betsy's 7th birthday.

Just her cousins, cereal galore, and Saturday morning cartoons! No cake to bake, no craft to come up with, no stress to kill my party buzz!

Here's what I've come up with so far...
Simple and quick invite I made in Photoshop.

I've hooked up with a few great Etsy vendors to lend their artistic hand.  I found this great shop that makes custom pinatas.  If there is one thing Betsy loves more than cereal, it's a pinata.  Even if she never cracks it open.  She could whack it forever!  Enter the amazing 'Whack'.  Below is just a sampling of 'Whack's' amazing work.  They are replicating the cereal bowl and big spoon from the invite for the festivities.  

I've heard great things about Makmaydesigns from friends.  She was running a great deal on preorders, so I ordered Betsy a t-shirt and ruffle pajama pant set.  She's using the invite as inspiration, and I can't wait to see the finished product!  Sadly, she is closed for the next couple of weeks because she is THAT busy with custom orders.  I'd say that is a good sign!

Here's a sampling of some of the goods...

Then, I found ApropoRoasters.  They're whipping up personalized spoons for each of Betsy's guests.  They are too cute, and something that will actually be used post party.  Aren't they cute?

I'm planning on tying them up with some of those individual servings of cereal you can buy for take home favors.  Like these...

In my searching for the original cereal party, I did find this one from The Purple Pug.

Pretty amazing, right?  I love the oranges with the juicer straws stuck right in.  Fabulous.

I'm really excited about this party.  I think Betsy will LOVE it!

You can find all 3 mentioned Etsy shops on Facebook, too:
AproposRoasters                             Makmaydesigns                              Whack!

What cereals should I include on the buffet bar?  Any favorties?  We are big Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch fans!  You know, the healthy ones.

27 June 2011

Backyard bounty.

We have amazing hydrangeas in our back-yard.  At first, I thought they were old lady colors, but I have completely admitted being in the wrong.  Normally, I am an all greenery, foliage, and white flowers landscape kind of girl, but I have been rethinking that.  Needless to say, I am glad I haven't 'fully' landscaped the front because, much like the interior, I want color!  I don't have high blood pressure, but if I did, all that amazing color would lower it, I'm sure.  It makes me that happy!

Our front yard has gone under a complete overhaul, and would like to know what is your landscape like?  Wild and crazy with color or monochromatic?  I would love to see and share photos. 

23 June 2011

The new abode: living space.

It's been awhile since I've updated you all on the house.  I've had a couple of inquiries.  The photos are a bit grainy as the light was fading away.  Hence, there aren't any good ones of the kitchen family room because the light was really undesireable back there.  I was going to work on finishing up some things in the boys' rooms and snap some photos in there in the upcoming weeks.  If only I could find my mojo.

This is pretty much the view to the left when you step in the front doors.  You can see part of the kitchen and family room in the rear past the dining room.  If you remember, we took a wall out between the kitchen and dining room.  We love the openness.  It is great for when we have parties, which is pretty often.  It's also thrilling to me that we can fit 8 chairs around the table, now.  It's the small things.

That family photo of us on the upper left of the shelves was the inspiration for the colors, etc. in the new house.  I think it's getting there.   I always thinks it takes a good couple of years for a house to be 'done'.  Decorating takes layers, layers take time.  One of my favorite layers is Chopper.  Ha!

This is the view into the living room when you're standing in the entryway near the master bedroom doorway. Not that exciting, but a different perspective.

Basically, the full-on, opposite direction.  You can see into our bedroom if you look close.

This was taken standing near the yellow chair on the side of the fireplace.  The buffet in the dining room is one of the few things I bought new when we bought this house.  I lurv it!  I got it at TJ Maxx of all places.  It reminds me of something from Anthropologie.  It was waaaaaaaaay cheaper than anything you could pick up there.  I think it was $199.  I debated for at least an hour over it.  When I finally decided to buy it, it didn't fit in the back of my mom's CRV.  You should have seen us in the parking lot.  It was a circus, for sure.  Jake had to come and pick it up with the truck.  Pi$$ poor planning, pi$$ poor performance, as my dad would say.

I was standing in the kitchen with this one.  Again, not too riveting, just a different view.

Like I said, I will add more.  I like to satisfy all of the noisy people.  Only because I am one of them, and I always appreciate a good house tour!  So, enjoy...

22 June 2011

Yes, I'm a cheeseball.

We love her!

So does Chopper!

21 June 2011

Strength in Pain.

taken on my iPhone

Recently, I've been 'chatting' with a reader.  She is a breast cancer survivor.  She told me I'm a wonderful mom.  I suppose I try my best.  I think dealing with a serious illness, and raising a family makes her a far better mother than I.  Funny how that all works!

So, I've been thinking a lot about this idea of drawing strength from pain.  Not only pain in our own lives, but the pain that others are going through.  At first, the idea seems a bit wrong.  To find encouragement in the crap that someone else is enduring.  Talk about guilt.  Of which, I think is such a wasted emotion.  But, isn't this idea sort of human nature?

Let me give you an example.  When Betsy was in the process of trying to be diagnosed, she underwent numerous tests and procedures at St.Louis Children's Hospital.  When you sit for hours in the lobby and waiting rooms of such a place, you see things.  Things that rock you to your core.  Sick children.  Parents of sick children.  Children with multiple & severe physical and mental handicaps.  Much worse than Betsy.  Blind and deaf children.  Children with no hair, amputated limbs, burn scars.  Your heart aches for them and their families.  Then, you feel foolish.  Almost all of them are smiling or laughing.  Hugging and kissing.

No matter how happy they seem, you can't help but draw strength from the hell that is their inner pain.  You can't help but count your own blessings.  While in the hospital, I found myself saying silent prayers of thanksgiving that Betsy was healthy.  The worst of the possible diagnosis behind us, she would have a long life ahead of her.  Sure it would be fraught with challenges because of her physical and mental disabilities, but she was happy, healthy, and strong.

Likewise, I've been told that people draw strength from our own story.  I have to giggle at that thought.  For us, it's not a big deal anymore.  At least, not like it used to be.  When you're knee deep in it, it consumes you. Then, as the days goes by, it becomes normal.  Or, at least, a new normal.  I don't think I'm a hero.  I don't think what we do makes us special.  If changing my almost-7-year-old's poo diaper makes me awesome, well, then, maybe I am.  But, I think it just makes me a mom.  Any of you would do it, too.

I wonder if parents of terminally ill children feel this way, too?  If they get to a point where all of the turmoil becomes normal?  Expected?  I pray I never, ever find out.

I do know this...the answer to the question, "How do you do it?".  You just do.  Just like I imagine parents of sick children do it.  Or kids with parents that are sick.  Or families that lost everything in the Joplin tornado.  You just do.  I can't speak for them, but I know we aren't extraordinary.  We don't deserve a medal or trophy.  Sure, I still fall apart every now and then.  Doesn't everyone over something at some point?  

The human condition is a funny thing. I suspect we will never understand it.  But, I think we all sell ourselves short.  I think we all have the possibility to amaze ourselves when faced with challenges.  To rise to the occasion.  

Perspective is essential.  Sometimes I wake up and think meeting the basic needs of my brood is a challenge because all I want to do is get back in bed, or go shopping, or veg out and watch movies and eat junk, or read a book ALL day.  But, I can't.  So, you just do it.  The best you can.  That's all any of us can do.

And, now, I will try my best to clean under the couches and beds.  It's been weeks.  Ewwww!

18 June 2011

Drum roll, please...

I am having trouble pasting the random number generator on here, so you will just have to trust me on this.

The winner is...Nicki!

Congrats, Nicki!  Just send me an email, and I'll get you all set up!

Thank everyone who participated, and a BIG thank you to Methane Studios and Carolyn!

17 June 2011

The delay...

I have had a most hectic day, and am writing this post from my iPhone as I am not at home. I am at Rosie's dance class, in fact. Next, it's off to the boys' end of camp celebration. All I know is that there will be Chik-fil-a there. The point of this very boring story is you still have a few more hours (until midnight) to enter the fab Methane Studios giveaway! Winner will be posted either LATE tonight or early morning tomorrow.

15 June 2011

Hump Day Ear Candy.

Ghostland Observatory.  They are rad.  This is one of my several Wakarusa discoveries.

My favorite...

They tour pretty frequently, too, which is grrrrrrreat.  Nothing beats live music.  NOTHING!

They will get you dancing for sure.  Personally, this is house cleaning music if I've ever heard any.  Funky.

I've been writing a deep post that I think I'm finally ready to share this week, so stay tuned.  Don't we all love my deep thoughts?

Also, don't forget to enter the Methane Studios giveaway, HERE.  Good Luck!

13 June 2011

Giveaway: Methane Studios

The day is here!  One lucky reader will get to choose the letter poster of their choice from Methane Studio's Ransom Letter series.  Feast your eyes...

They are all pretty fantastic, eh?  Honestly, I like a lot of them that aren't even letters significant to my fam.  It would be also pretty great to get one representing each person in your brood, and displaying them in a wall collage.  That would make an incredible statement.

Don't forget to check out their amazing gig poster line-up.  They do lots of Dave Matthew's stuff that would tickle any avid DMB fan's fancy.  My favorite of their DMB arsenal...mostly because it reminds me of when Pee Wee Herman chains up his bike to that psycho looking clown in Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

A couple of my other favorites include, but are certainly not limited to...

They also sell custom designed Keds on Zazzle.  They are awesome!  Check them out here.

Methane's booth at Bonnaroo

As you can probably tell, I think they are pretty great.  I hope you do, too.  

Here's what you need to do...show them some love on Facebook or Twitter.  Let them know it 'twas I that sent you. {If you really want to make us both swoon, buy something.  You won't regret it.} Also, visit their online shop HERE.   You know the drill after that...come back here and tell me you like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and what you would buy or better yet, what you bought!  I will choose a winner on Thursday!

Good Luck!  

09 June 2011

A return & stuff on the horizon...

Well, we made it home in one piece!  It was the most fun anyone could ever have in the Arkansas death heat.  Which really was a lot of fun.  I have some crappy photos to share taken with my craptastic point and shoot from 2006.  You will have to deal.

If you have never been to a major music festival and you're old {like we are}, you may have a bit of culture shock as you pull up.  Luckily, I've had some previous exposure.  The photo above is the main stage camping area.  This is NOT where we camped.  We camped across the road in a lovely, shaded spot called West Woods.  This festival was 25,000 strong {maybe more}, so you can imagine some of the conditions.  It is not for the faint of heart.  I will say that I think the staff did a great job keeping everyone as happy, as comfortable, and as safe as possible!

The main stage grounds were full of fun stuff and dust and sun and sweat.  But also, art, food, smoothies, beer, and, of course, music.  Again, if you are new to this sort of thing...there is music nearly 24 hours a day.  Some of the food vendors serve 24 hours a day, too.  Which is good for fatties like me.

The photo above is of Big Daddy and my super cousin and musical-soul-mate-at-arms, Michelle.  They are walking off into the Mulberry Mountain sunset.  Yes, there is some sun haze/flare, BUT it is also an enormous dust cloud settling over the grounds after Mumford & Sons amazing, foot stomping set.

I'm not sure how anyone in their right mind could perform quite the set they did in long sleeves and jeans.  But they did.  No one passed out, no one gave up, no one disappointed.  It was hot folks.  Hotter than I can put into words.

So hot in fact, that about 98% of that wetness is sweat, and the other 2% is water from a very welcomed water balloon attack.  Michelle even has broken balloon remnants still stuck to her sweatyness.  We may have sweat a bit excessively because we were dancing up a dust cloud.

This is my favorite photo of the weekend.  The ferris wheel and the blue Ozark sky.  Do I need to say anymore?  When I took this, we were headed back to our camp for the night.  On the way we bought some fresh ice for our cooler.  Carrying it back was welcome relief from the heat.

The whole gang {my sis, brother-in-law, hubby, cousin, and me} was getting tired.  We had been on the road since 5:30 am, and couldn't hang any longer.  I wish we would have had some 20-something youth on our side to head back over the main stage area at about 2 in the morning.  It sounded bumpin' over there.  Alas, I couldn't drag my old ass out of the tent.  Nor could anyone else.  I will say that the temps dropped to a very comfortable 70ish that night.  It was amazing.

It really is a beautiful part of the country.  The views are amazing.  The people were friendly.  The music was fantastic.  I'm glad we did it.

In other news...I'm hosting an incredible giveaway early next week.  My friends over at Methane Studios are going to be giving one lucky reader their choice of a letter from their 'Ransom Lettters Series'.  Thanks, Carolyn!

I will post the deets on Monday or Tuesday, and choose a winner on Friday.

Cool, huh?

01 June 2011

Hump day ear candy.

Since I'm off to Wakarusa Music Festival early Saturday morning, I thought I'd share with you one of the Saturday performers.  Taking the stage after Mumford & Sons is Ben Harper.  He's pretty much amazing.  I read somewhere once that if you're a guy, and you're choosing between two girls to date, you should pick the one that prefers Ben over Lady Gaga because chances are she's quality.  I think that sums up is musical ability.

First, I'll give you one of my favorite songs of his, 'Skin Thin'.  Plus, the video is so great!  My sister says I always like depressing music.  I guess she's 1/3 right because I also love show tunes and anything that gets my toe tappin' or foot stompin'.

Second, I'll share with you a great cover he does of the INXS tune 'Never Tear Us Apart'.  Check out how he tears up his weissenborn.  Wow!

Another fav of mine...

I'll leave you with one of his vids with Jack Johnson.  They've done lots of stuff together.

Enjoy, my friends!