Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wedding Photography

I know this is a photography related post, but it's also something personal, so I am putting it here. On my photography blog I'm just sticking to events that have happened, and photos that I have already taken. However, I am excited to say that Saturday I will get to dress in stealthy black and comfy shoes and second shoot a wedding in Ada, MI with the talented Lynell, whom I met via Craigslist, of all places (although now we are friends on Facebook). I was going to buy her barely used camera as an upgrade, and it ended up getting stolen by someone who broke into her home! So, I ended up buying one from B&H and it's all good, although she ended up feeling violated and losing a little bit of her sense of security. They caught the thieves, and one of her cameras was recovered. I used the phrase "ended up" 2 times too many....

Although obviously I didn't get that camera from her, we exchanged a few emails and long story short, she invited me to shoot along with her at a wedding on May 2. At that time it seemed like forever into the future, but now it's just a couple days away! I thought I'd be a lot more nervous, but I'm pretty calm and excited about it. It's such a good opportunity. Some photogs charge rookies like me to second shoot, and even then we might not get to keep our images! I get to keep my images and use them in my portfolio. This will be great practice, as I have been approached by a few people about weddings, and need something to show them.

I have had some recent sessions I am very proud of, and things are starting to pick up more. My flash site has more of a variety of photos in the galleries, and I think I have improved drastically in the past few months. I still learn a lot every time, and I am trying to refine my "style" so it is more distinctive and recognizable. There are so many ways to process images, and I love too many of them, but I need to get focused (no pun intended). I just sort of tailor it to clients and what the "feel" of the session is, as well as their personal taste.

So, hopefully by the end of the weekend I will have some images in my weddings gallery and a lovely blog post over at While I doubt I will ever take on too many weddings as part of my business (I'm not sure I can handle the all-day thing every weekend, and the 1000 images to process afterward), it's definitely something I want to be good at, so I can do them if I choose to.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just Dandy

Last night Ron took Lucy for a walk through the neighborhood (she brought along a magnifying glass to explore nature). I had just put Henry down for a nap, and I felt a little frazzled. I just wanted a break, so I stayed home. Oh, and it's probably better that someone is at the house while our infant son is sleeping in his crib. Anyway, I laid awake on the couch staring out the transom windows at the trees. I did not move a muscle. It was wonderful.

Then Ron and Lucy returned home and came to the front door, strangely enough. In her hands she had a little bouquet of dandelions... how sweet. "Here ya go mama!"

I put them in a little vase with some water, expecting them not to last very long. In fact, by evening they were already closing up and dying. Or so I thought...
I should have known better than to think they were wilting already, they were just going to sleep. They actually woke up in the morning and are healthy as can be, reaching toward the window light. So, dandelions, I know how you feel at the end of the day... wanting to curl up and maybe even looking a little ragged. Or a lot ragged.
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

Don't get me wrong all you other dandelions out there... we are still going to annihilate you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baby Snail

You know those little capsules that you can drop into warm water, and slowly the coating dissolves... the sponge shaped like something fun is revealed. Well, I bought a package of these for Lucy for Easter. I mean, the Easter Bunny bought a package that he found in the $1 bin at Target...

Okay, so Lucy formed an odd attachment to a small red sponge shaped like a snail. She has a large foam snail that sticks to the wall of the tub (who, one fine day, became Mommy Snail after Baby Snail emerged from its capsule). This little red Baby Snail is about 2 inches long, and made out of soft delicate foam. She sleeps with Baby Snail at night, along with whatever favorite animal of the day she chooses, plus Pink Bear (always). You like our names for things? So creative, right? Anyway, I am amazed when she wakes up in the morning carrying this tiny two inch sponge. She makes it kiss Mommy Snail, and exclaims, "I love you SO MUCH!" and they have long conversations in the tub together, take turns rescuing each other from drowning, and compliment each other on their shells. I think that's enough background info.

So, I'm changing Henry's diaper and all of a sudden I hear Lucy yelling something, difficult to understand because she is crying. She runs in and presents to me Baby Snail... one piece in each hand. She accidentally ripped Baby Snail in two. Oh. No. "Baby Snail is broken. Fix it!" So I tell her to hang on and I'll fix it, don't worry... all the while thinking, how on earth can I fix a tiny, soft, flimsy sponge? Should I teach her about death and let Baby Snail go... No! Don't give up yet! So, I actually taped Baby Snail's head and neck back to his/her shell. It's a pretty crude repair. While doing it, I was well aware of the ridiculousness of the situation. I am definitely no pediatric snail surgeon, but all things considered, I did a pretty good job! Mommy and Baby together again post-op:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Check Me Out

Before having kids I never knew what eczema looked like or how someone even got it... apparently it runs in both our families. Huh. I dodged that bullet (for now).
I took this photo Wednesday to "document" Henry's really nasty case of eczema, not for medical purposes, just to show him when he's 16 and he can roll his eyes at me. Forgive the image quality, this wasn't exactly a portrait session (I think it's actually out of focus. eep.). However, this was his "good" side! Those darn neck folds, excessive drool, plastic bibs... Well, we can eliminate the plastic bibs but the rest we can't do much about! What started out looking like a small spot turned into an almost allover rash wrapping around to the back of his neck! I actually don't think this shows how red it was! After trying OTC Hydrocortisone, Eucerin, A+D Ointment, Weleda Calendula Baby Cream... and getting no success (if anything it was getting worse) I resorted to taking him in to see Dr. Joe, who prescribed some stuff that helped reduce the rash drastically after just one day. Yeah! It is progressively getting better and better, and he pretty much looks back to normal. These dry winter months are tough.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Parks and Regurgitation

Saturday afternoon we took the kids to Sunrise Park in Hudsonville. It's kind of small and tucked away, so it's usually not very busy at all. While we were there a few other kids came and went, but it was pretty nice. Lucy is able to climb just about anything (even holding on to her orange kitty the entire time) without making us worry about whether she'll fall off. Last year was a bit different in that respect. Henry hung out on a blanket and tried to eat wood chips, and rode in a bucket swing for the first time. He was smiling and giggling (although not in the photo). It is so important for our sanity to get Lucy out of the house more, and let her burn off some energy!
Ron brought along the Rebel Xt to play around and take photos. I took a few with my big camera too, but it gave me a chance to be IN a couple pictures for a change. He has art background and is probably going to be a pretty good photographer if he can just learn all the technical sides of the camera. I'm excited about the idea of not always being the one taking photos. Although I love it very much, I feel like we have tens of thousands of pictures and I'm in three of them. Anyway, I had him shooting in manual because I think it will help him learn how ISO, aperture, and shutter speed all affect each other, and when it comes to this kind of stuff he is a quick learner. He got a nice one of me and Henry - usually I look like a goober in photos, but I actually like myself in this one!

Yesterday my mom, Lucy, Henry, and I went to Holland to Dutch Village... Lucy got a new, bigger pair of wooden shoes for Tulip Time (although no name burned on them this year, because from now on her shoes are going to be passed down. Sorry Henry). Last year we went on April 25 and it was chilly and cloudy and windy... she got a pair, and then proceeded to "klomp" around in them at home. She looks so young when I look back at those photos! Again this year it was less than perfect spring weather. It was cold and a little rainy. She still had a good time though, and got an ice cream cone at Dutch Village. Henry got a little Dutch hat to wear, but we're skipping the shoes for him until next spring when he can walk in them.

When we got to my parents' house Lucy threw up. Yuck - Let me tell you, I'm not used to this aspect of parenthood at all! She's been an unusually healthy child so I've been pretty lucky. She was okay the rest of the time we were there, but when we went home she acted really tired and subdued, and went to be at 5:00PM! She got up around 10:00, and got sick a couple more times. Poor girl! It wasn't a long night or anything, but she did end up climbing into our bed around 5:00 AM. She had gotten up and went to the fridge for a Capri Sun. We have to figure out what to do about this issue... she is just helping herself to whatever, whenever. A Capri Sun (Roarin' Waters... so it's not even juice, or sugary), isn't a bad thing in itself. It's the fact that she'll drink all of them if we aren't there to stop her. She didn't get to drink it, but I gave it to her later in the morning, trying to get her to take her time and drink slowly. Hmmm. Today she seems to be feeling better, but doesn't have much of an appetite. She's been laying on the couch with a blanket watching cartoons, so that's pretty nice. It's rainy, it's Monday, I'd say that sounds like a lovely way to spend the morning.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Crazy Cakes and Candy

We made it through another week! All that means is a busy weekend awaits... but I'll take it along with this forecast gladly! Ron has been busy working on his grad class, finishing up for the semester. It's so hard for him to focus with so many distractions at home. So, until all that is finished, nothing on the house is being worked on (which is definitely fine with me). Yesterday we took the kids to our friends' house for lasagna and we hung out a bit and let the kids run around - well, Lucy and Lauren, while Henry and Morgan sat on a blanket in the grass swapping spit (via chewing on various baby toys). Maybe a sign of things to come? Nahhh... we won't worry about that quite yet! Went home and put the kids to bed, and then I went over to Tiece's to take some pictures of a cake and cupcakes she made... the girl is amazing! She made a spherical cake that looks like a baseball! That's a bit more complicated than I would tackle. Two other things that amaze me: 1) the amount of Crisco she goes through, and 2) how late she consistently stays up and manages to function during the day. Her friend came to pick up the cake, and we hung out and talked way too late. I wasn't planning on staying more than 15 minutes but we had a good time talking about all kinds of stuff! I even got to bring home a few extra cupcakes... although I still haven't eaten one. Since it was about 10:30 PM when I took the photos, the overhead lights were all we had to work with, so this isn't the best set of images I've ever taken, but at least she has evidence of her creation - just before it was taken away to be devoured by 5 year olds!
Speaking of goodies, I'm amazed Lucy didn't discover those cupcakes yet (Ron must have moved them from their prominent location on the dining table... thank you!), because she woke me up this morning with a chocolate smear on her face. Hmmm, I wonder what she's been into. I got up and found the box of Capri Sun Roarin' Water pouches dumped onto the floor (she drank 1) and an empty candy baggy, and lots of little metallic wrappers all over the couch and floor - that's not counting the jelly beans that don't have wrappers, I'm sure she ate. I said, "What did you do?" and she told me (obviously proud), "I ate the candy all by myself!" Good job Lucy... I can't figure out what to do (partly because if she has access to candy while I am asleep, it might be at least somewhat my fault, but maybe she should know better...?). I don't know, she's 2.5 years old. Candy has been around a lot more lately due to the post-Easter candy surplus. In terms of candy, it seems like Easter brings much more than Halloween. I guess I'll chalk this one up to: both our faults, hide the candy better and don't let it happen again!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Spring break is officially over, and Ron is back to teaching this morning. I'm up, drinking coffee, wearing pajama pants, watching cartoons. However, I hope this is a productive day. There are plenty of little things I need to get done this week... I have a feeling it is going to go by quickly. I am also looking around at the aftermath of a busy weekend, and it's a little overwhelming. I will get the house back in order sometime before the day is done!

It seems like after spring break, the remainder of the school year is the home stretch. I also think we are done with snow and excessive cold, so it will be nice to spend some more time outdoors. I have a couple more sessions already booked for this month and I am finding that slowly but surely I am getting busier. It's pretty cool, but I also find that I need a lot more "free" time in my day to process images and correspond with people. I hate doing one or two here, one or two there, and constantly stopping to take care of the daily household grind. I could also really use a designated office space (even if it's not an enclosed rooom), other than the card table in the basement where our computer is sitting! I think we are at least in the market for a big old desk I can paint a dark, glossy brown and replace the hardware (if it has any). I need to get organized, with a bulletin board and maybe even some shelves. At least we have a file cabinet! Also, I'm the type to scribble things on notepads and scraps of paper, and Ron is the type to enter everything into a spreadsheet (good thing he enjoys doing that stuff for me)!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Weekend

This weekend has been rather busy! Friday afternoon Ron and I did as much as we could to tidy up the basement bedroom and bathroom for Kelly and Heath... despite a disastrous night before:
  • about to install sink cabinet base, screw into the same old hole, right?
  • wrong! old hole now results in screwing into copper pipe
  • leak behind wall, won't stop because there is no shut-off valve for that room
  • shut off water to entire house
  • hmm... Lowe's isn't open at 1 AM, try epoxy patch
  • epoxy patch not given adequate cure time, therefore not effective.
  • plumbing fixed properly next morning
So, be thankful next time you wash your face, make a pot of coffee, flush the toilet, rinse the coating of grout off your hands... water is truly precious. It made me realize, to be without water (without warning) for 1 night, how much I take it for granted. There are people in the world who never get fresh water. We are relatively conservative with our water use, but we definitely are accustomed to having it whenever needed.

The deck boards are all on, and look great. Now we need railings, steps, and the pergola.

Saturday was my sister's bridal shower lunch. We ate at the Blue Water Grill on Northland in Grand Rapids. Wow, the food was awesome! The music playing was as if Kelly or I made a mix tape of stuff we love, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was perfect for the occasion. It was a great turnout, too, with only a couple people unable to come. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I brought a paper cake from DAiSYS & dots that had reds, teals, oranges, and greens... I highly recommend getting one for any party occasion. We filled the slices with Hershey's Kisses. Instead of cake, my mom picked up some cupcakes from D&W she ordered,decorated to have similar tropical colored flowers and palm leaves, because Kelly and Heath are getting married in Mexico.

Later in the afternoon Ron, Kelly, Heath, and I went downtown and took some engagement photos, before heading over to my parents' house for pizza.

Sunday was of course Easter. In the morning Lucy woke us up carrying a small bag of M&M's, saying "open this". Awww, she found her Easter basket. I got up and went to the living room to find that she had already eaten the entire sleeve of Pez I had loaded into the bunny dispenser for her. All the items in her basket and Henry's were mixed up. So, by 7:30 AM she was well on her way to her sugar quota. We went to my parents' house and Lucy found eggs all over their yard, putting them into a basket. She was so excited, and it was really fun to watch her running all over yelling, "there's one! there's another one!" She got so excited to spot one tucked into a tree trunk she didn't pay attention to where she was stepping and took a big spill... Amazing how excited a toddler gets over a bunch of empty plastic eggs (although there were coins hidden in some of them!).

In the afternoon we went to my grandparents' for my Grandma Myrt's 80th Birthday which was actually on Easter Sunday this year. She is an amazing grandma (and great-grandma), and has been consistently loving, selfless, supportive. She is patient and kind, and everyone who knows her loves her. She definitely does not act 80, as she is still buzzing around all over town, and taking care of her family like she has done for over 50 years. Grandma and Grandpa have always hosted holiday parties, birthdays, anniversaries, and just generally had an open door to anyone who wanted to stop by. They do their best to always attend their grandchildrens' recitals, sporting events, plays, concerts, etc., and they are so connected with their community, they know people everywhere they go. She and my grandpa have lived in the same house in Grandville since the 1960's (they moved there from their previous house, about a block away) and it is still the headquarters for all our family get-togethers, like the one we had today. However, this time she reluctantly gave up control and let her daughters plan, cook, and clean up. I know she appreciated it... although I think it threw her off a little, letting others do the work.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to process a good portion of the 5 million pictures I took over the past couple of days, and add some here. But for now - time for bed!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Hot Wings

Ron is on spring break as of Friday, and so far we've had an eventful couple of days. Friday my brother- and sister-in-law came over in the afternoon with their twin boys, planning on frying some chicken wings for dinner. Sounded like a good idea at the time! As the oil was heating on the stove, Ron and Steve worked on the deck a little bit, and then took off to run a quick errand. Julie and I stayed back with the kids, and hung out and talked. Soon we noticed the oil was smoking (!) so we turned the burner off and removed the lid. Julie thought that it would be a good idea to take the pot outside and set it on the concrete to cool, while we de-smoked the great room. I had never heated a pot of oil (nor have I deep-fried anything in my life!), so it sounded fine to me. "I'll get the door."

As she carried the rather large pot of oil from the kitchen area toward the front door, the oil literally burst into flames. The instant I opened the door I looked back to see her carrying a pot of fire - a wave of flames a few feet tall. She hurriedly carried it out the front door to hurl it into the lawn. It was a somewhat chaotic moment, but it almost seemed like slow motion. Some of the oil sloshed out onto the porch and siding, and I heard the whoosh of the fire climbing up the exterior wall a few feet away from me. I actually thought to myself, "our house is going to burn down," which seems dramatic in hindsight, but when you see an 8 foot tall wall of fire on the side of your house (at the base of which is a wooden porch), wow... scary.
At that point, the sloped part of the front landscaping was on fire (grass that we didn't want anyway), and Julie was frantically hooking up a hose to the faucet by the front porch while I ran inside to call 911 and make sure nothing inside was on fire. I glanced up to see the kids in the opposite corner of the great room crying, obviously worried (I can't imagine what it seemed like from their perspective, watching their moms in this situation), but we just couldn't help them at that moment. With the phone in hand, I dashed back outside to help Julie, who had pretty much extinguished the fire with our sprinkler head hooked up to the hose. The porch siding had not caught on fire, although the flaming oil melted some of the siding and singed the front porch slightly. All of this happened in a matter of a minute or two. Later we thought about how having vinyl siding probably saved our house, since what is under neath the vinyl is old, dried, wooden siding. Meanwhile, Ron and Steve returned and we brought them up to speed. They had noticed the pot in the front lawn and I can't imagine what they were thinking. They actually got back before the firefighters came. The 911 dispatch said they wouldn't send a truck, but they did. And a few geared-up firemen too! I told them what happened and they wrote down the information they needed, and we tried to cheer the kids up with the fact that there were real firemen and a firetruck! Henry slept through the entire thing at the room at the end of the hall - so no smoke got to him either. My sister-in-law felt terrible, although she didn't do anything wrong. She kept apologizing, and I appreciated it but tried to remind her that she had nothing to apologize for. It could have been so much worse and I'm just glad everyone is okay. The guys missed quite a scene. Afterward we decided to grill the chicken wings with some Red Hot instead of frying them! The kids got to say hi to some real firemen (who were apparently blown away that a girl knew what a j-channel is), and had cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner, and we had our wings around 8 PM.

I know some might say that the pot of oil should have been left alone on the stove and not moved. I never would have thought that hot oil could spontaneously combust! Maybe I should have known that. Neither of us did, and I can see the logic of wanting to take it outside. Whatever we should have known, or should have done... doesn't matter anymore, because what happened can't be changed. We learned a lesson (I have actually have no desire to deep fry anything), and nobody was hurt. I'm so thankful for that. We can fix and replace things easily.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Chuuuuck E. Cheese's...

::sung to the same melody:: ha ha ha...

Anyway, I have a bunch of pictures from our visit to Chuck E. Cheese's but decided to just create a collage real quick to get some on here (there are none on Smugmug yet). Here ya go (click the photo to see it larger):Lucy climbed under the rope at the entrance when we arrived, before the kid could open it up. I mean, we do control her but she did it in the blink of an eye! At least she didn't run off. Then she was actually quite uneasy, and didn't want to play any games or go on any rides. Slowly she warmed up to the place (after 3 slices of pizza) and we found a few things she was able to do. Being only 2.5 years old, she is a bit young for a lot of arcade games, etc.. The things she loved the most were the basketball shoe, the popcorn game (ping pong balls shoot out and you have to catch them in your "bucket" - bottom right and top middle of the photo), whack-a-mole, if that is what it's still called, and watching Chuck E. Cheese sing on stage. She didn't get a chance to meet him while he was walking around... maybe that's a good thing.

No ball pit. Maybe that's a good thing too.

It definitely has a totally different feel from what I remember. I thought it seemed smaller, first of all (I'm bigger), and there were a lot of scary teenagers and young adults "hangin' out" which I thought was weird. There were a few toddlers there, and Lucy met a boy that was really friendly toward her. We would put her on a ride - like a moving car type thing - and a few seconds after it started she'd climb out! There goes $1! Hahaha. ::Eye roll::

We wanted to have Lucy ride the rocket but she didn't want to at all... until we started heading toward the exit. Then it was, "I wanna go on the rocket!" Of course!

It was fun, and I'm glad we went, but not as awesome as I was hoping. Then I found out my sister-in-law has a coupon that would have cut our expense in half! She said, "You didn't have a coupon!?" Ummm... no... should I have known about this? Woops. Oh well!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Showbiiiiiz Pizza....

I know I put something similar on Facebook but had to blog it too, because I'm just that amazed since finding so much interesting info on the Internet of all places ;)! Quite a blast from the past....

Remember Showbiz Pizza's Rockafire Explosion? I found really in-depth info on the members of the "band". Showbiz's official write-ups are a bit more reverant than this guy's blog post, if it's not blocked for you. Much funnier, and really easy to relate to. Other than the part about trying to look up Mitzi Mozzarella's skirt, which I don't believe I ever tried to do. Seeing these pictures brought some memories back for sure!
I realize Showbiz has been bought out by Chuck E. Cheese's and that the Rockafire Explosion is no longer together... so hopefully Lucy will have fun tonight when we bring her there for the first time. I was told that I screamed my head off whenever Fatz Geronimo (aka the scary gorilla on keyboards) took the stage. No kidding. So, I dug up some pics from my birthday party in 1987...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

6 Month Checkup

This morning I brought the kids to see Dr. Joe for Henry's 6 month well-baby visit. He was a really good boy, and Lucy was very chatty with everybody there! Henry weighs 19 lb. 3 oz. (75%) and is 29 in. long (above 95% / "off the charts"). So, he's shopping in the big and tall department of my nephews' hand-me-downs.

He got two shots in his leg (which ones, I know this sounds horrible but I don't pay that close attention anymore... I've gone through this process so many times) and he cried for literally 2 seconds and then stopped. Amazing Tough Guy! My only "problem" with Henry right now is this nasty drool-rash he has under his chin, but it isn't bothering him, and I can put Cortisol on it or something and it will improve eventually.

Afterward we ran through the snow (what!) to get into the car, and headed over to the high school to visit Grandma and Daddy. Lucy was really social, talkative, and friendly, and Henry never cried despite being up since early this morning, having shots, and no nap. He even had a few smiles left in him after a very long morning. "Pretty good kid" as Dr. Joe would say.

We left around 1 PM and Henry fell asleep in the car seat. I put him in his crib and he stayed sleeping. Poor guy must be exhausted! Meanwhile, Lucy is adding on to her fort in the living room, and needs my help... she never slows down!