Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I have a beautiful 4 year old little girl.

You are just going to have to trust me on that, because she has a strange affliction that is hereditary.

The affliction is "not being able to be in front of a camera without being compelled to make the strangest face that you can." This runs through my family in my gene pool.

It can't be stopped and asking the afflicted one to stop will just make it worse.

Trust me. So you want to know why I have been out in my studio so much practicing....this is what I have to work with. How can someone be expected to work in these conditions??

Even my sister is afflicted. I literally have hundreds of pictures of my sister this way. I have another several hundred of my dad. My memories of my family when I look back through the scrapbook are going to be of fish lips, crossed eyes, lizard tongues and monster mouths.

It's a curse I tell ya...a family curse.

I leave you with my favorite picture from the past week.. What do you do when you have to walk away from a good book?

Dog ear the page, of course....

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Opinion Monday

I finally got to use my studio this past weekend. I had a fun time practicing on my sister and nieces, but realize that there is so much more to learn (specifically the use of the hair and kicker light) I am content with how the pictures turned out. My sister need a shot for her website (since she is also a photographer) and my nieces were just good sports. (You can view these pictures HERE)

After I got done with editing and such; I turned to a few websites for pointers and stumbled into an argument about what a "professional" photographer is. It seems that someone with some years under her belt and high prices was "schooling" a new photographer whose prices were lower and portfolio thin.

I have seen this argument a lot. I'm a "real" writer; I don't blog. I'm a "real" photographer; I'm not a "Mom With A Camera"

What makes these self-proclaimed people any more "real" than anyone else?

I don't consider the person with 5 minutes experience any less "real" than the person with 50 years experience. We all gain experience each time we do something more than once, but what it takes to be a "real" (insert job profession here) is what is behind your actions.

learning spirit
using 100% of your ability

That is what makes the difference in being "real" or not. Don't ever let your lack of experience keep you from proclaiming that you are a "real" writer, "real" photographer, "real" artist, etc. If it is your passion...that's as "real" as it gets!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Being The Parent Stinks When There Are Hard Questions

I haven't been around the past couple of days (this is starting to become a trend) because I had to be a parent. No really...I did it and let me tell you that being the parent really stinks when you have to answer hard questions, deal with heartache and you are the bad guy.

Why can't every day be play-doh and giggles?

Ya'll know that Buzz took the stray that showed up as her "baby". She loved that dog with a ferocity and the pup loved her with the same strength. They did everything together and were inseparable.

This is where something always happens to prove that life isn't fair.

The pup is gone. Buzz blames her father, she blames me and mostly can't put her heartache, sadness, anger, confusion, etc. into words.

I started off being honest with her as I thought good parents should do. Just the facts and I'll help you deal with them. There wasn't anything to hide from her anyways and she's old enough right????

Then came being a parent. That moment when you see them crumpled in the floor, crying their heart out, begging you to fix it and you would give your life to stop the hurt in their eyes. You lie. You say the things that your child need to hear right then. You cry with them because the agony of their pain is too great and because you have now created a "fairy tale" for your child; you have to provide the happy ending. Whatever it takes.

I spent the majority of the day yesterday taking Buzz to every pound, rescue, etc. trying to find her "the puppy who needed her". I kid not when I tell you we looked at no less than 60 dogs and there was not a single one that she liked. Wouldn't even pet them. I thought perhaps she was trying to believe that if she looked hard enough she would find her lost pup.

Then we found Libby.

The moment that she saw her it was love. Libby has some of the characteristics of the "lost one" but is a distinctly different dog. Libby is a long haired dachshund with the face of an angel. She has filled the place that was lost. I snuck in and watched Buzz sleeping last night. Smile on her face and one arm thrown over the sleeping Libby.

I know I can't always give my children a happy ending. I know I will have to answer hard questions. I know sometimes they are going to "hate" me. I know life is unfair and sometimes they will suffer and there will be nothing I can do.

For now though, there is Libby.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Show Me Da Money!!!

I had an interesting email this morning. A company wanted me to review a product that I could offer to you. It was all about getting rich.

I did look at the website that was full of tricks, equations and thought provoking questions to guide you down this path of being filthy rich. It made it seem as though anyone could do it by following these few little steps and properly applying themselves. I'll be honest though, the equations gave me a headache.

First of all, I will not ever recommend a product to you if I don't 100% believe in the product or the company. So you will not receive a link to that company here or see a giveaway soon.

Secondly, let me give you some little tips to be rich (for free, of course)

  • 1.) Rent a super long drill and find oil in your backyard.
  • 2.) Invent a dryer that automatically folds your clothes and places them neatly in a basket when dry.
  • 3.)Marry the only living heir to an overpriced, "Trump"ed up business.
If none of those tips seem to be possible for you, then how about we not focus on getting rich quick but rather being financially secure.

  • 1.) If you don't have the cash in your pocket, then you don't get to buy it.
  • 2.) Live on less than you make.
  • 3.) Get rid of debt.
It's really that easy. You don't need super long scary equations to figure it out and you don't need a 24 week series with some guy yelling at you about investing in copper and green beans to make it big!

That's "My Opinion Monday!"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eating Spinach For Breakfast

This morning while biscuits were baking, I sat down and watched some cartoons with the kids. We watched about 4 episodes of Popeye and while the kids were cheering every time he downed his spinach and came up with super powers; I was questioning why did he wait to the last minute every time.

It was always when things seemed the bleakest that he opened up his spinach and changed the outcome. Why wait though? Why not have spinach for breakfast and be prepared to face the day armed with what it is going to take to conquer the "Blutos" in our life?

All of us have some Spinach available to us. Whether it is prayer, meditation, a chat with a trusted friend or a call to our mom. It empowers us and strengthens us. Yet, why do we wait until we are crumpled in the corner with our thumbs in our mouth to seek help, strength and direction? What if we were to start our day with a good ole' helping of "Spinach"? Starting our day with strength, empowerment and direction. What would the outcome be? It may not erase every "Bluto" in our life, but it would change how we deal with them and how we come out of the situation. I encourage you to try "Spinach" for breakfast for a week and see how you feel!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's Up Wednesday

I stole a little bit of yesterday's post to tell you a little of "What's Up" today, but here are some other items that made headlines in my house.

The oldest child ddecided to bring out her inner pirate and got her leg stuck in a Pringles can. I am now writing a eHow article on chip container removal for those who may find themselves stuck in a can. It's easy to get off because once you pop, you can't stop.

The new stray that showed up at our house over a week ago has not been claimed by anyone and is now an official member of the family. Unfortunately, she has not been "fixed" and it seems she has come into that time, so I have spent outside bathroom breaks playing chaperon with a bucket of ice water to protect her from all the boys in the neighborhood. I have explained teenage pregnancy to her, told her that she has a long life ahead of her and not to have babies too young, but she is determined. She has an appointment at the end of the month to throw a wrench in the cogs of her biological clock.

I am currently writing a letter to Kool-Aid and to the makers of minivans. Both products are marketed towards child use and the creative geniuses behind them need to be schooled. The most popular and tasty flavor of Kool-Aid is loaded with red dye. This dye stains everything it touches from sweet little child lips to carpeting treated with a stain resistant chemicals. Can we please work on a dye-free formula that still preserves that fruity punch flavor? To the van makers, you promote your product to hold up to 6 kids and show how it makes a parent's life so much easier to have 24 cup holders inside the cabin. If you are going to include that many cup holders you are condoning the eating and drinking inside a van; so what is up with carpeted flooring and fabric seats. Can we work towards an attractive vinyl covering inside the cabin? That way after a road trip where all 24 cup holders were employed, I can take the van to the car wash and power spray the interior clean. OK creative product team, I expect you to get on this right away, mm'kay?

I guess the biggest news for you...the thing you care about the most....I received the gift cards from Williams Sonoma for my winning video/recipe in the Tasteful Selections contest. I am ready to throw the contest as promised for YOU to win, but I have a question. Should there be 1 winner of $500 or 2 winners of $250? So many of you voted and helped, I want to make this about YOU! Let me know either in the comments section or you can email me.

So that's "What's Up Wednesday"....What's up with you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


In today's edition of PhoTueday I don't have much to offer in the way of photographs, because I have been too darn busy. Too busy to blog, too busy to do Twitter much...too too too busy. I did get this fun shot of a pool ball. I am not sure why I like it so much...I just do and that's good enough for me.

Some of you know (and some of you don't so I am telling you now) that the reason I haven't been online much is because I am working on creating my own photography studio. We have an outbuilding that contains an apartment and large garage that I am converting. At the same time I am having my photography website overhauled by a professional (because life is too short for the casual adult to deal with CSS code and flash) All of this has made for limited computer time for blogging.

So while this is not the perfect entry for PhoTuesday, it is all about photography. I have had the privilege of bouncing ideas off of some wonderful photographers here online as well as some superb photographers here at the local level. I was concerned about approaching other photographers about their lighting secrets or equipment, but I have to say that I have hooked up with some great people who are just aching to share what they know.

Tomorrow I will be guest posting (I think it is tomorrow) over at MomGotBlog. She has named me "Blogger of the Month" and I am honored to have that title (although I feel undeserved considering my lack of posting lately) I will be chatting about "Parenting With Humor" and why it is so crucial for us as parents and why we should never wait 20 years to laugh.

I have missed you all in the blog world and hope to be posting more real soon. I have received a whole slew of awards lately and appreciate each one of them and will attempt to do the meme's (hate that word!) this week!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guest Post: Looking At Your Marriage

Taking a Look at Your Marriage: Time for a Close-Up

Marriage may seem like a fairly simple concept, but as everyone knows, people and the relationships they have are complex. There's an infinite number of factors that can change instantaneously, transforming the dynamics of marriage in many cases. To avoid downgrading your relationship when you've got a good thing going, you can proactively protect your marriage by making a consistent effort to keep your foundation strong. There are several characteristics of a strong marriage that pertain to every married couple, no matter how different they are as individuals. The following are some of those characteristics, so you might consider evaluating their presence in your marriage, finding out what you're doing right and what could use some extra attention. By doing this, you can become an even stronger couple and prevent life from manipulating your marriage.

Snapshot of a Strong Marriage

Friendship: This goes beyond the romantic connection. It's the foundation of your marriage and needs to be actively cultivated. Friendship is a continuous process of learning about and appreciating the other person in the relationship and means, fundamentally, that you consistently enjoy each other's company. By keeping your friendship strong, you'll be able to maintain your expertise on when your partner's feelings are hurt, what to do about it, how to apologize, and how to control the conflict that's inevitable in every friendship and marriage.

Kindness, Respect, and Nurturing Attitudes: Remember that your courtship should never be over. Keep trying to win your partner's affections, and you'll be able to keep them for the duration of your marriage. By doing this, you weave an emotional safety net that can protect your marriage even when you're experiencing conflict. Maintain respect so that neither of you feels insecure about discussing personal and marital issues with the other. It's also helpful to keep thinking about what you admire about each other, then make sure you talk about it to keep yourselves invested in one another.

Individual Initiative and Participation: You can't and shouldn't control the actions of your partner, but you can control your own reactions and responses. Make sure you pay attention to yourself and your role in the marriage rather than focusing on the two of you as a single entity. Remember to stay motivated and take care of yourself both inside and out. When your partner sees that you place significant value on yourself, he or she is likely to follow suit.

Acknowledgement and Healthy Resolution of Conflict: If you're having an issue or problem, don't cover it up. Choose the right moment and talk about it with your spouse. This will prevent small issues from being swept under the rug and growing over time into seemingly insurmountable problems. Either solve your problems immediately or work together to develop a strategy for dealing with them.

Mutual Maintenance of the Marriage Commitment: Believe in your marriage. If you're both sure of your commitment, you'll be more likely to maintain it by creating a sense of stability and permanence.

Shared Purpose: Be constantly aware of where you're headed as a couple, what your dreams are, what kinds of values you want to develop, and how you want your relationship to evolve. Talk about your hopes and create action plans to help you both achieve your goals, enabling yourselves as individuals and as a couple.

Exploring Marital Advice

If you're curious about evaluating your marriage further and finding out about more professional tips and strategies for maintaining a strong relationship, you might consider visiting the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center page. There's a helpful three-part series of tip sheets on couples' communication, as well as a variety of advice on everything from romancing your partner on a budget to teaching your kids about healthy marriage. Enjoy taking advantage of these great resources to help you keep your marriage strong and happy.

About the author: Heather Green – a freelance writer, mother, and the resident blogger for An Apple a Day… blog, a free informational website offering tips and advice on Online Nursing Education.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


image courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's Up Wednesday

So what's up with you?

If you have been in my community, you will know that I recently discussed a weekly writing schedule. Life has been very hectic lately and I really need the structure. First order of business was needing a small break. I unlugged from Twitter and blogging over the weekend and focused on my family, housework and considering future content.

My schedule is as follows:

  • Sunday Stalker - Where I am going to do link love to my favorite posts of other bloggers from the past week
  • My Take Monday - Opinion Post on products, news, whatever
  • PhoTuesday - Photo post
  • What's Up Wednesday - A recap of what's been going on in my household
  • Thursday Trade Off - Guest Post
  • Friday - 5 Question Friday & Macro Friday (the memes I participate in)
  • Second Look Saturday - Where I revive an old post or rewrite an old post idea.
Hopefully it will be a method to my madness.

So since this is What's Up Wednesday...

This past weekend we spent time unpacking the garage so I could finally park my van inside. Woo-Woot! We stopped unpacking because it was day after day of upper 90s to 110 degrees and I just couldn't handle working in it. The weather has turned to this side of heaven and so we were able to work out there.

Then my mom had a birthday so my parents, sister and family all came over for a birthday cookout. I was in charge of the cake and had seen instructions for Chocolate Leaves. This is where you gather leaves, wash them, paint with melted chocolate, peel leaf off and produce a chocolate impression of the leaf. First of all, you need to know your plants before undertaking this project. Poison Sumac while it has a beautiful leaf, should not be used for this. TRUST ME! After I got done with the Calamine lotion, I went on to create about 30 something leaves and only had a handful turn out. Here is what they looked like. Not too bad and hopefully it has inspired you to try it. Just be sure and know your poisonous plant species before undertaking this.

After we did some serious grilling and cake eating, we went and played a game of football in the back 40. Fun times unless you have manicured nails (so I have heard...I wouldn't know) The birthday girl showed that she could still throw a decent spiral even if she was born before football was invented. Happy Birthday MOM! I learned that my sister is a wicked mean football player and watched over and over as she tried to drill her husband. I'm thinking there was some pent up anger there, but nobody had to go to the ER so it's all good.

In other news, Bitsy has learned to crawl up the stairs. I have looked high and low for the gate connector thing-a-magie pieces, but it appears that they have been lost in the move. She is going today for a well baby checkup. She's been growing in leaps and bounds so I am anxious to see what she weighs!

The other two girls are just fine and still enjoying life in the country. There has been a lot of improvement of Buzz's speech and Belly is talking very well, much better than Buzz. It's kind of sad to watch little sister pass up big sister in speech, but I think it is actually helping Buzz's speech delay to have the competition of little sister being so easily understood. Buzz is in heaven right now because we had another stray dog show up at the house. This time I called each neighbor individually to see who she might belong to and there were no takers. She is a little Dachshund mix and can amazingly jump onto furniture that is 5X bigger than she is. It's like me being able to effortlessly jump onto my roof. Anyways, her name is Nacho...as is Nacho dog. Just a reminder to not get too attached in case an owner does show up.

So that's "What's Up Wednesday"...what's up with you?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Five Question Friday

5 Question Friday with Mama M

Macro Friday

Today's Macro submission is a mason jar. I have always been fascinated by the design in the glass of the jar.

Click the button above to view more submissions this week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Playground Of Death

In the past four years I have warmed a lot of benches on playgrounds. I have been amazed at the evolution of the playground from my childhood days and all the safety measures that are now in place to protect kids from being kids. The playgrounds of today don't even compare to the playgrounds of my childhood.

Today's playground is usually a one piece job. Bright colored plastic that is treated to be antibacterial, covered connector bolts, rounded edges and placed on foundation of a springy rubber mat. The premise is safe fun, but its business is all about reduction of possible accidents.

How we ever survived those deathtrap playgrounds of our childhood, I will never know. I took The Scribblers to our local playground yesterday and found that we didn't have a modern playground. What they did have was everything from my childhood and The Scribblers were in awe.

  • Slide - This job was still metal, reached 12 feet in the air and had reached skin peeling temperatures. The unmistakable screech as a child went down assured you that this slide needed a good dose of Pam cooking spray to prevent a child from sticking as they cooked. The ground under the slide had been worn down from the years of children hitting the bottom and stood a good 2 feet below the drop off of the slide. Not only does your child get a butt burning slide but also a nice free fall at the end of the ride.
  • Swings with metal chains and black rubber seats. Once again a nice butt burn is the first order of business. After that there is always the chain hand pinch; followed by the weight of an empty swing knocking a child clear off its feet in a 5 foot arch backwards. If you don't have a bloody nose by now, you aren't doing it right. There is a rumor that these swings are capable of propelling a child right over the top of the set if you swing hard enough.
  • Metal death cage - This metal dome with criss cross bars is about 6 feet in the air and positioned over gravel. The goal is to climb to the top and either be too scared to back down or to just drop to the ground below and see how much gravel you can lodge into your shins.
  • Tether ball - I have never understood the real purpose of the tether ball game, but kids sure love to launch the ball and watch it swing around the pole. A kid with good practice can actually swing the ball with enough force and direction to knock a wandering toddler clear off their feet.
  • The carousel - My personal favorite, you could always get the thing going so fast that when children tried to get off, they couldn't stand upright for at least 15 minutes. You could always tell the centripetal force junkies by their green faces and weaving walk. Sometimes a child would try to exit, only to be too afraid to let go of the "hang on" bar and be drug on the side for several rotations or until their leg got caught on a branch that just happened to be laying around.
  • Branches and Stones - speaking of that branch that happened to be laying around. A good playground is always full of sticks and stones (Yes, they do break bones, but words will never hurt you) These implements are laying around for the child who is too cool for the actual playground. It gives them something to do as they have rock throwing contests to see if they can actually knock a child off the see-saw or have impromptu sword fights.
As I sit here writing this and subconsciously rubbing the scar on the back of my leg from a metal slide or the dent in my shin from the lodged gravel, I miss my youth. I miss the days that we were allowed to learn the hard way. While I try to protect my children, the playgrounds of our youth can teach a valuable lesson in life. After all, much like a scorching hot rubber swing seat; those hard lessons are the ones that stick. With no rubber matting to protect us, we learned to be more careful after we fell the first time and not always count on a safe, cushioned landing.


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