My Photography Process.

I remember the first time, in more recent years, that I told someone I was a professional photographer.

I was at preschool pickup and someone mentioned something, just something, that reminded me of photography. They may have been talking about clients or phases of the moon or jellybeans. I have no idea. I just know that somehow it was relatable to say, “Yup. I’m a professional photographer and that happens to me.” What did she do? She smiled and nodded at what I said. She didn’t point and laugh or roll her eyes, or say, “You? You’re not a professional photographer! How could you be one?” It turns out, that most (or all) of the mean voices are lodged firmly in my head. And me being a professional..anything…is believable.

That felt good to discover. Really good.

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These days, it’s easier. I talk about my experiences. I hand out my business cards. I get a lot of jobs through word-of-mouth. Through others’ words, or through my very own. I promote, although probably more humbly and not as assertively as I could and should. I can’t change everything overnight. I also cannot handle too much workflow – with the family, the blogging and the occasional data entry, which is not usually such a thing but it happens to be a huge anvil over my head right now. I have my own wacky process, and I see it developing every day. Often I am paralyzed by fright, until I’m not. Until it’s a fluid motion, more natural than most things I know. It can be as natural as parenting and writing, to be honest. When it’s good, it’s really good.

When it’s not working, well, I try again another day.

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Do you remember my post about My Writing Process from a couple of weeks ago? I thought it would be fun and educational (for me or you? probably me!) to do the same post with the same questions, but to write about photography instead of writing.

And here I go. Wheeeeee!:

1. What am I working on?

I’ll keep this photography based, because why on earth would you want to hear me wax poetic about data entry, writing and puppy-wrangling? So I just finished up my sister’s engagement photos but I may tweak some here and there, based on her favorites, because I want them to be PERFECT. I’m working on a real estate job because I want more jobs than only portrait sessions, but I’m not quite ready for wedding insanity. Artistically, yes. Weddings, births, HUGE life events – that’s where I want to be at for my own work. I also love smaller jobs and moments. And I need to catch up on weeks’ worth of my personal photos.

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2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Photography has a sure voice, just the way writing does. I read something positive at Click It Up a Notch in which they said that NO ONE can shoot the way you do. Someone can copy your camera, your lens, your style and your angles, and it won’t look the same. The light changes, after all, and so do visions. So my work shows my vision in a way that no one else can show because they’re not me. I’d like to believe that my work has a lot of smooth edges, for the professional side of things, but that you can still see that rougher edge sometimes. I have a lot of rough edges. I find my photography to be a study of the emotions of others, almost as surely as I find my writing to be a study of the emotions of myself. Sometimes those things overlap.

I also would love to be known for photos of sci-fi events and moose.

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3. Why do I photograph what I do?

It’s because sometimes people pay me to do so! And I just have a lot of ideas in my head and I want you to see the way I see the world. I want things to be really special for everyone I photograph – I think there’s a great power with photographs and memories. We all have these wild and precious lives, after all. I can’t be 100% present with my life, and I can’t be photographing 100% of my life. However there is an urge there I wouldn’t fight. If my hands are at my sides during an afternoon, there’s a reason for that. If my hands are wrapped around my camera instead, there sure as heck is a reason for that too.

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4. How does my photography process work?

I don’t get as nervous as how the job is financially. I get as nervous as how the job is in other aspects. How far and wide these photos will be seen. How needed they are. How important they are to the client and/or loved one. I have walked into $1,200 jobs with less nerves than I have when photographing family members for free as gifts. In the days, or even minutes and hours leading up to a shoot, I will prepare myself with more than enough equipment and all batteries will be charged beforehand. I will ask around if I’m in charge of location and timing, and I will sometimes panic and ask other photographers when I’m feeling lost. I usually blast some loud music on my way to a shoot. I will gaze at the changing sky. I will look for inspiration everywhere.

When I’m there, I never know how it will go. I think before EACH shoot that I’m not sure how it will happen, but I’m gaining confidence that it WILL happen. It always does. Inspiration always takes over, and should it ever somehow not, I have poses and backup plans and more backup plans in my mental arsenal. So it’s small parts technique, and lots part heart.

I take each job seriously, no matter the payment involved, if it’s a serious job. Meaning, if the photos will be used in special ways – websites, brochures, invitations, and even just on the walls of family homes. I may be more relaxed with a client if I know them well, but I’m still all about business. There’s a different way I shoot when it’s just casually. I can take breaks. I can do other things. Not so during a professional shoot. I’m 100% your photographer, when I’m your photographer.

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What is your photography process like?

I Got A Room At The Top Of The World Tonight.

Every now and then, I write to music. Should you want to read this to the song I wrote it to, here you go:

It’s Spring Break this week. And Easter. And Athena’s five-month birthday. Oh, and she lost a tooth on Easter Eve!

So there was this awkward collision on Saturday night in which the Dog Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny may or may not have met at our house in the middle of the night. I’d like to believe that they met and shared a snack around our dining room table, under the watchful gaze of Han Solo. That’s what I’d like to believe. What did they talk about during the night, do you think?

They probably said that we’re nerds. Nerds with good snacks.

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There’s also an awkward collision of leftover winter air and warm spring fronts. The mornings? Frigid. The afternoons? Heavenly. I’m spending a lot of time up in my office, enjoying the spring breezes that occasionally make their way up here. I’m working on a giant data entry project again, and this might be my biggest one yet in the five years of doing this. I’m also working on my sister’s engagement photos, and when I am able, I work on my personal photos. I’m backed up by the hundreds!

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I’m also nursing a two day crying hangover, after being overwhelmed by life on Friday night. This is why I don’t cry a lot. Sometimes I worry I won’t ever stop. The next morning we somehow made it to the Easter Bunny breakfast, with its lackluster food, and then enjoyed a breezy train ride around the park, then took a break for lunch, and then went to the insane egg hunt.

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As I sat down among my recent photos, I saw a common theme – bird’s eye views of adorableness going on while I’m clearly working, because my photos are taken from my second story office. This makes me sad, to see adorableness from a bird’s eye view. Then I realize I’m lucky to see such beauty and that I set my own work and hours, so I can just race downstairs and embrace it all, should I choose. And I chose it. I do choose it. I choose to embrace the adorableness, when at all possible.

And this is what I see when I peek down over the wooden railing:

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“I got someone who loves me tonight
I got over a thousand dollars in the bank
And I’m all right
Look deep in the eyes of love
Look deep in the eyes of love
And find out what you were looking for”
— Tom Petty

Open During Renovations.

Exciting news is being announced this week – Penny’s amazing Ask Away Friday will live on for your enjoyment!

Please bear with us because we’re scrambling to get it back up and running, with some amazing help from many, and we even have a new logo designed by the talented Tiffany. We will be more prepared for next Friday, but I couldn’t resist posting today.

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Introducing

The NEW #AskAwayFriday

Meet Your NEW Hosts:

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Tamara, Tiffany, Christy, Stacey, Amber

How To Join Us

Grab a Swap Buddy…

Ask Them 10 Questions…

Answer Their 10 Questions…

Create Your Posts…

Link Up Opens Thursdays @ 8pm

Link Up On Any of Your Hosts’ Pages!

TamaraLikeCamera



And now for my first partner in the new #AskAwayFriday – Ida from Second Chances Girl! Well, who knows how we met anyway? (maybe she does) Many of you know all of this wonder blurs together for me and I just feel like I’ve known you all from the start. And really, I should have, because it took me three years into blogging to start having blogging friends. Ida is raising a blended family, which reminds me wonderfully of my own childhood. She throws incredible parties, posts thoughtful reviews, and writes about her life in warm and sunny Florida in a way which makes me sometimes (often) regret the whole New England thing.

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To see Ida answer my questions, go HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:

1. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Oh, that’s good. It would be near impossible to narrow down all of the amazing parenting, love, photography and writing advice I have gotten. I’m not positive this is advice, but I think it is, and it came from my mother-in-law. I don’t know that she’s the original source of the quote but she was the first to say it to me and it stuck with me. It’s actually quite simple: “The hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, is to let people in and out of your heart.” It might be “in and out of your life” too. And that’s really it. Let them in. Let them go. All things must pass. It kind of jumpstarts your heart and makes you want to LIVE while you can.

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2. Which fairy tale character do you most associate with?

I tried to cheat and ask Cassidy and Scarlet, but it wasn’t much help. I think I’m a little bit Belle because I enjoy my solitude and my nose is often in a book. I’m a little bit Alice because I know what it takes to grow up, and I still have much more to explore down the rabbit hole. I’m definitely a bit Elsa because I know too well (or I used to) how to conceal, don’t feel. And when I do let it go, giant wonderful things can happen. Or giant, scary ice castles can happen. Maybe I’m also a bit Snow White because I like to talk to animals, and sometimes birds land on my shoulders, and I could probably really rock a Snow White dress.

This see-through, last minute, $20 one isn’t a great example, though:

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3. What’s on your bucket list?

Someone asked me this recently and I referenced THIS POST with a few examples. So I’ll give some different ones right now:

1. See a blue whale. No explanation necessary.
2. Have photos I’ve taken featured prominently on the walls of a home that doesn’t belong to either me or my family. An unrelated family who loves my work that much.
3. Go on a (somewhat) safe Great White Shark Expedition during breeding season off the coast of the Farallon Islands. Some people would be afraid to do that. I’m less afraid of sharks than I am of…like…trying marijuana. So we all choose our battles in life.
4. Either live half of the year or even all of it, eventually, in northern California.
5. See Tom Petty live.

4. Do you believe in destiny, fate or free will?

Whoa, heavy hitter. I do think my opinion has changed/changes throughout my life. I think it’s…all of the above. I guess I believe that our lives/futures are somewhat fated, but that we do have free will. I think there’s a balance, but I try not to think too much about it because life is happening right NOW. We have choices. We also have luck and chance. We also have coincidences. And maybe, just maybe, something a little (or a lot) more?

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5. Let’s talk hair. You have beautiful hair. What do you use to take care of it?

You know, not much. I wash and condition it. I don’t fully dry it. It’s half wet a lot. I don’t use products, but I probably should. At my wedding, I’m certain there was product. It doesn’t curl like that at the bottom so perfectly, but it does curl at the bottom!

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6. I know you grew up in a blended family. What advice would you give to us moms raising blended families?

There is so much I wish we knew then but we didn’t yet have the capacity to know it. It’s about love. And I wish I had known that we’d all grow up to love each other fully and that the word “step” wouldn’t be in our vocabularies. It is complex, though. My situation was born out of grief and not divorce or separation or single parenting, so it might be different because of that added element of pain. We were either too young or too grieving to just admit – this is hard. It will take years to get rid of a large percentage of the thoughts of, “You love your ‘real’ (insert blank – mother, father, child, sister, brother) more than me.” And those thoughts may never be fully gone, but we live on and the love lives on.

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7. Are you planning on involving Scarlet and Des in any extracurricular activities: (playing an instrument, sports, etc..)?

Funny you should say that because the discussion came up TODAY about how beautiful of a singing voice Scarlet has. She sings in key, memorizes lyrics, and has incredible voice control and emotion. Obviously, I’d love for her to sing because it’s an unrealized life dream of mine, and I kinda suck at singing. I’d love for them to learn piano and/or guitar. We’re more of an artsty family than a sports family, but I welcome all physical activity!

I’d also love for both kids to take art lessons with my mom.

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8. You are very open about your life on your blog. What’s one thing you haven’t shared with us yet?

Oh. Gulp. Um. When I was in 5th grade, I stole a rubber shark from a science classroom. I still have it. If I can’t unfriend you on Facebook without it being obvious, I will hide you from my news feed. This feels great.

9. What’s been your most embarrassing moment, so far, as a mom?

It’s hard for me to get embarrassed, and it didn’t even happen when Scarlet talked loudly about if Des’ “pagina” had fallen off, and it didn’t happen when Des had a blowout diaper that flew out of his diaper and onto his clothes AND my dress. I handle those things with grace. I think it’s when Scarlet has pushed me to the point of nearly yelling in public, or this one time at the park that I threw her over my shoulder, while pretty pregnant with Des, and carried her screaming and flailing to the parking lot.

I shouldn’t have been doing that in this condition:

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10. Would you rather go without the internet or a car for a month?

Car. Which sounds totally PATHETIC, but I’d find ways to improvise. Without internet, I’d lose my livelihoods for a month – blogging and sharing photos. And I just can’t have that, can I?

***

Thanks for the questions, Ida! People, link up if you can! Sorry for the last minute!

The Good Mother Myth.

If you’re becoming a mother, and this means YOU to my sisters, you’ll find a copy of this book tucked into your hospital bag.

I have felt very close to this book for a very long time, way before I even read the book and discovered that it’s fantastic. I am friends with the editor, Avital, as well as contributors, Kimberly, Tara, and Sarah. And I met a few more of them when I photographed the local book release party. I also photographed Avital (Avi to me) for the book itself, which was a lovely honor.

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I have to somewhat obnoxiously admit something right off the bat and somewhat early in the post, that I haven’t struggled much with “The Mommy Wars”. I don’t know that my personality really has room for it. Since marriage and children, I quite honestly don’t mind what other people do with their parenting (unless I somehow need to) and I also don’t dwell on what people think of my parenting. I am non-confrontational and I am friendly. I like nearly everyone, until you say or do something hateful and/or intolerant and/or offensive, and that might change things for me. Only might. However, I know what it’s like to fall short of my own parenting ideals and visions. And the way they change after we finally meet these tiny people who have our hearts.

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I knew I would love this book, but I wasn’t expecting just how much it would shake my core and then lift me up – to hear the stories of many imperfectly wonderful mothers who are chiming in together with their tales of setbacks and disasters, downfalls and insecurities, and innermost thoughts on mothering in physical and emotional places that aren’t always as supportive and encouraging as they could be. As they should be. (I received a copy of this book for review, and because I really wanted it.)

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A few fantastic quotes about The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality:

“Rather than painting pictures of idyllic mothers, the pieces debunk the idea that there is one right way to parent a child.”
The Washington Post

“Debunking the myth of the ‘good’ mother one beautiful, touching essay at a time. A perfect collection for all of us interested in being the best parents we can be.”
Mayim Bialik, actress, neuroscientist, and author of Beyond the Sling

I don’t cook and clean very well. I am terrible at crafts and I love Pinterest mostly for the photography, and cookie recipes that I just send to my husband. I don’t seem to have a diligent bone in my body, or at least a very patient once. Long before kids, I was questioning whether I’d be a good wife. When the kids came, it wasn’t those domestic things that made me question my ability to be a “good” mother. It was anxiety. It was about a year into parenting that it arrived, after being dormant for a long time.

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And here is where I question my ability to be a mother, aside from the occasional TV binges and ice cream for dinner nights. It’s anxiety. It’s feeling isolated or shaky when my kids need me, or just the fear that it will be so. Generally it’s ok and I can be there for them. We all have moments or days (or longer) in which we struggle and need the help of partners/friends/loved ones.

I’m learning that’s ok. More than ok. There are as many ways to parent, as there are parents. And most of us are doing the best we can with what we have. I am impatient and I have a tendency towards situational anxiety. Everybody’s got their something.

Every story here is unique, and each one touched me in a different way. In fact, I started making notes about which chapters I wanted to highlight, and I found something in EVERY SINGLE STORY that I found relevant to my own journey. Editor Avi’s story was about her son making a birthday wish about being a big brother, a wish she was sad was most likely wasted. I do have two kids, but for a long time, I was set on having one. And there is nothing selfish about finding happiness as a family of three.

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Tara Jean Bernier’s poem in the book, “Give Me My ‘A’ In Scarlet”, amazes me each time I read it, and I was lucky to hear it spoken live. Twice.

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I was also lucky enough to hear Joy Ladin read from her story, “Confessions of a Born-Bad Mother” and I didn’t hear Kimberly Morand read “Failure To Launch” aloud, but I somehow feel like I have. I read it very early on.

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Nerissa Nields is a gifted writer and singer-songwriter, and she played beautiful music at the release party with her sister:

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Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser read powerfully from “The Adoption Aisle”.

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Stephanie Kaloi’s story, “My Little Early Perfect” had her questioning whether she had done something to trigger her son’s early birth/NICU stay, and she wrote about the back and forth driving, breast pumping dance you do when your child is in the NICU.

“Mama Don’t Cook” by Carla Naumberg made me crack up, especially when she described making quesadillas and apple slices as a dinner at her house. Same exact dinner here! I’m actually quite impressed when I pull that off.

Aly Windsor’s “An Existential Crisis Is Born” made me gasp, because she described so well what happened to me when Scarlet was born. It wasn’t right away but after about two months or so, I became obsessed with death.

I could write for another 3,000 words about every chapter in this book, but I implore you to discover its wonder on your own.

For more information, please visit goodmothermyth.com and the purchase page is HERE.

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***

From the Publisher:

As a society, we are obsessed with the notion of what it means to be a “good” mother. In an era of mommy blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook, manufactured “mommy wars” divide women and pit mothers against each other. Edited by Avital Norman Nathman—a widely published writer and blogger—The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality (Seal Press / January 2014 / $16.00) dismantles this media-fed fairytale by taking a realistic look at motherhood and providing a platform for diverse voices and raw stories. This collection of 35 candid and unapologetic essays adds a depth to the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines.

With a foreword by Christy Turlington Burns—the founder of Every Mother Counts—and a contributor list that includes Jessica Valenti, KJ Dell’Antonia, Sharon Lerner, Soraya Chemaly, Amber Dusick, and many more, The Good Mother Myth reflects on stereotypes and expectations and offers some truth about what it means to be a mother today.
From professors to porn directors and musicians to massage therapists, this diverse group of women writers—some well-known and some up-and-coming— delivers a wide range of experiences and reflections. The contributors of The Good Mother Myth hold nothing back, sharing tales of mind-bending, panic-inducing overwhelm; stories of surprise pregnancies; and even confessions of using weed instead of wine to deal with the terrible twos. The honesty of the essays creates a community of mothers who refuse to feel like they’re in competition with others, or with the notion of the ideal mom—they’re just trying to find a way to make it work. Beautiful and funny, messy and heartbreaking, this compelling collection establishes new definitions of modern motherhood.

For The Love Of Cookies: A Semi-Obsessive Love Story.

I’m nothing, if not loyal. And I’m eating a cookie as I write this.

When I was pregnant with Scarlet, I had this pretty terrible software job at a company in Northampton. I could walk to work, and often I did so, even at nine-months-pregnant and with two of my co-workers nearly ready to call local hospitals or ambulances because they were afraid I had given birth on the bike trail between my apartment and work. Speaking of those co-workers, they were the only two bright points of this job. One, who made me laugh often and made me feel confident in my music knowledge because one day after he snickered through a phone call with a client named “Dr. Wu” I asked, “Like the Steely Dan song?” I’ll never forget the impressed look that flashed across his face. “Dr. Wu” even made it onto a birth mix.

The other bright point was my co-worker, Holly. We became fast friends from the start.

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Right before I went on my “maternity leave” (read: never coming because six weeks unpaid sounds terrible), she brought me a happy face cookie from a local bakery. It had frosting and sprinkles. I was astounded. “Where did you get this?? I’m from NJ and this is like the old school bakeries there! Everything around here is gluten-free, vegan, nutty, crap, cardboard! I want some freakin’ sprinkles and frosting – that’s what I want!” It was just like that but I didn’t shout at her. I just had to know.

Enter Greggory’s Pastry Shop into my life.

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(I didn’t take this photo but it makes me happy.)

The first time I drove through Hadley (a neighboring town), I made Cassidy slow down so we could find Greggory’s. We ran in to find the happy face cookies, as well as cupcakes, cakes, cannolis, and a whole case of various bakery cookies. I remember that I got chocolate chip cookies that day, one of their signature cookies, and it was the best chocolate chip cookie I had ever had. The love story was being written. It’s a cash/check only place, and I’m terrible about cash (and checks), so it became more of a special occasion thing. It wasn’t just about the money – I just didn’t want to EVER get sick of it. Every time there was something to celebrate, or I miraculously came into money, that’s where I wanted to go. Every time Cassidy went to Hadley, I hoped he’d come home with a telltale white paper bag or bakery box. It often happened.. Especially when I looked like this:

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There was this one time that I was short of money and I was counting out change and getting flustered, and it was one of my rare times away from Baby Scarlet and the store was very busy and Greggory was very cranky. He got very mad at me for being unsure of what I wanted right away and then not knowing if I had the money. He made me cry in my car and I left without cookies. I didn’t have the guts to go back for weeks and I made Cassidy go in one day for me and he told Greggory that he had hurt my feelings. I got lots of cookies that day and I eventually went back on my own. Scarlet learned to love “The Cookie Store”

She’d try to kiss the glass cases, and I had to stop her.

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I couldn’t wait to get Des on board when the time came, but there was a big fire six months ago in October, and Greggory’s burned down to the ground along with several other businesses late one night. I was at my parent’s house when I found out through Facebook and I was crying. I had been meaning to go there only a week earlier, because it had been awhile, and now I didn’t know if I ever would again. The first time I drove by there, I was sickened. The first time I drove by there with Scarlet and had to explain how an ENTIRE BUILDING PLAZA was now just ashes was also sickening, but she handled it well. We stayed tuned for updates and found out in January that they planned to rebuild at a new, close location. I waited (im)patiently for details.

About six weeks ago, a temporary sign went up at the new location that it was coming soon! Since it’s on the way to our nearest Target/Trader Joe’s, I would always glance over and check. About a week or two ago, I drove past on the way to Target and it was the same as it had been for weeks, but on the way back, the temporary sign was gone and workers were putting up a new one. Progress! Would I get my beloved cookies again soon?

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Yes. Yes, I would. Last Wednesday, the Facebook page was finally updated to say that they were re-opening the following day – Thursday, April 10th! That was my seven year anniversary of leaving New Jersey! I was so happy I screamed, and Scarlet was mad because she thought I saw a bug. Nope. Only the best news ever! I told her we were going when they opened the following morning. She said, “That’s great..but we don’t HAVE to go so early, do we?” Well..no..but..COOKIES! Who was this kid?

Des would never say that! Hence..the chocolate-smeared mouth.

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We did it, though. We got there before they opened. I was expecting a crowd, but..we were first. Whatever, people. COOKIES!

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We walked in and it was wonderful and I got to give a speech to them about how sorry I was about the fire and how much I missed them. I wanted my face to be one of the first they saw on their re-opening after tragedy and six months of rebuilding. I can’t explain it any other way. I wanted my friendly face to be one of the first they saw, if not the first. I’m friendly.

I like cookies. I like things to mean a lot. I like joy. I like spreading joy and things that mean a lot.

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What I Want You To Know.

As I sit here to write this, on Thursday night (nothing like the last minute), I think about how today was a day of celebration.

For one, I’m going to be a matron of honor (man, that sounds older than maid of honor) at my sister’s wedding!

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For another, it was seven years ago today that I left New Jersey for San Francisco’s foggy, frigid, amazing shores. I never went back to New Jersey when we came back east to raise a family, but I did find a fantastic life in New England.

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Did I mention my favorite bakery burned down in late fall? Yeah. I cried. Today was their re-opening after several months. Did I show up before the bakery opened, at the crack of dawn? Did I get my favorite cookies and cakes? Was it like it used to be? Were my favorite staff members still there? All of that and more..next Wednesday. (Monday is a fantastic book review)

Oh, and it’s Cassidy’s birthday on Sunday and my sister and her fiancé (fancy new word) are coming this weekend for celebrations, snuggles with kids, warm and sunny outdoor play, and a woodsy and probably gorgeous engagement photo shoot.

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And I found out today that my dear friend Ilene named a granola blend after me for her super awesome new business!

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That above logo photo takes you to the product page/description. Also check out her good vibes page!

Not only that, today is Ask Away Friday AND Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party – No Mother Is Perfect! My Ask Away Friday partner is Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy. We “met” on Twitter, which just furthers my point that great things happen on Twitter. She writes about parenting, cooking, and whatever else she feels like! We have hilarious conversations on Twitter.

Domain of the Mad Mommy

To see who else is participating or to learn how to join the fun, head over to visit hosts: Penny from The Real Housewife of Caroline County, Amber from The Bold Fab Mom, Tiffany from Mrs Tee Love Life Laughter and Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings. #AskAwayFriday is their beautiful and ever-growing creation! And contact me if you want to swap some time!

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To see Echo’s answers to my questions, click HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:

1. I am kind of obsessed with your photography! How long have you been in love with taking photos? (I would love to see an old pic you took and a recent one to compare!)

Always obsessed! I loved photography as a kid, but it really grew for me in college when I dated a photographer. I had thought that it was so subjective what could be considered good art, and I was almost afraid to bother with it. He helped me shape my visions into portraits and now I know that there were stories screaming to come out through photos, the way they were through writing. I believe I was born to do this. Here is an old photo I took with infrared film. I thought it was so much fun to use!

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These days I favor more color photography because with everything I’m trying to break into with my photography business – newborn, events, small weddings, real estate, maternity, family, etc. I find that vivid colors make me very happy.

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2. I saw in your “About me” that you have completed 2 cross country moves! How many times have you moved in your life? Are you settled for good now?

I feel pretty settled. Moving is traumatic for me and I’m still somewhat haunted by the last time! We have four acres here so if we came into money or started to outgrow our house, we could always expand on our land. That makes me happy. I couldn’t imagine leaving the friends I have here, but never say never. I have moved a few times in life. After my father passed away and my mom remarried, I first moved when I was five from one town in New Jersey to another. Then I stayed there from kindergarten through college, even though I had four different dorms/apartments in college. None were “home”, you know? After college my parents moved and then I had three apartments in central Jersey while working in inside sales. Then I moved to San Francisco to be with Cassidy. After two years there, we decided to move east and blessedly landed in Northampton. Home.

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3. I have seen a lot of Tardis’ and Screwdrivers on your blog! Do you consider yourself a Whovian?

Absolutely, but it’s more like I married into it first. Cassidy grew up watching the Tom Baker (4th doctor) episodes as a child. He has long loved Doctor Who, since before a lot of younger people in the US knew it existed. Now it’s caught on and that makes it fun. I started from the 9th doctor episodes and I’m about caught up with the present. There are a few David Tennant episodes I have yet to see. (lucky me) You may have seen the shed in our backyard? Our front door is about to look like this too:

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4. Tattoos and Piercings? Are you a fan? Do you have any? (Show us! If it’s appropriate! *shifty eyes*)

Ha! Well I got my ears pierced when I was ten but I never wear earrings. My hair covers my ears anyway. I think I got a second hole pierced in one ear but it closed up. I can’t stand tattoos. Small, meaningful ones are ok although I wouldn’t do it, but I would feel so claustrophobic to have something permanent on my skin. And with pregnancies and aging, what happens to them??

5. I am pretty set in my morning routine. (Coffee, kids, blog) Do you have a morning routine?

I don’t think I have anything set. To be honest, I can’t stand getting up early and yet I do it every morning of my life. It’s a form of torture. On school days, it’s a bit of a team effort ever since we got the puppy in that Cassidy lets her out and maybe gets the kids up. Then I feed them breakfast, and let them play a bit while I shower. Then I make Scarlet’s lunch, put the dog in her crate, drop Scarlet off at preschool, get back, let the puppy back out, have breakfast, and then we begin some sort of busy day.

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6. If you had to pick one dessert to have for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I think ice cream. So many varieties that I love, and rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream would have to be included!

7. Bucket list… Do you have one? Care to share a couple of things on there?

I totally have one. I’ll include a few because some may happen sooner rather than later:

1. Have a photo published in a book or magazine. Or heck, several photos. Hundreds. Thousands.
2. Visit Isle Royale National Park. It’s a park on an island on Lake Superior, in the northern part of Michigan. It’s an island full of moose and wolves, and in which they co-exist fairly harmoniously. Both of their populations are able to grow, despite the presence of the other. Ecologists take note of this. So do I.
3. Be the first to show my kids their first moose sighting.
4. See Northern Lights!
5. Have a home hot tub or jacuzzi bath tub.

8. Your kids are GORGEOUS! Do you plan on having more, are you done or whatever happens happens?

Thanks! I definitely go with never say never, but if we had another, we’d have to decide in the next few years. Financially and emotionally, it doesn’t feel like it could work, but as I learned in the past, these things are highly subject to change. As of this writing, the thought does not make me happy. In fact, I was late by a day last month (probably just miscalculated) and I was really scared and upset at the thought of pregnancy. That was very telling to me that it can’t happen now or probably ever.

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9. You are a photographer and a writer (and very good at both), but if you had to choose one, which would it be?

Ah, that is so, so cruel. There’s a sense of peace and wonder that I find with both. I would feel like half of me was missing to only choose one! And photography is my livelihood and I plan to use it to pay the bills! But..writing. Writing! If I had to choose one, it would be writing. And I’d write about how sad I was that part of me was missing.

10. What is one thing that you want everyone to know?

hm..one thing? Maybe that if the dog is quiet, she’s either using the bean bag chair as a toilet or shredding napkins under the table. Oh, and you can’t get me drunk no matter how hard you try. And that when the voices in my head tell me I’m a hideous, clueless, failure as a human being/mother, I can often tell them to go stuff themselves.

*******

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Thanks for sticking around for #LOBS! This weekend’s theme is “No Mother Is Perfect.” Or “The Perfectly Imperfect Gala!” Celebrate by sharing your imperfect moments! Mothers burn dinners, raise their voices, miss doctor appointments, and use very bad words. Link up your old or new imperfect parenting moments. Here are my Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party co-hosts:

Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life


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Crystal from Mommifried


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Angela from WriterMom’s Blog


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Kristen from Four Hens and a Rooster


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Amber from “City Girl On Hicks Farm“.


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We’d all love to connect with you outside of our LOBS Link Party…Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram…wherever you’d like to connect! My buttons are all at the top of my blog. Write me a note letting me know that you are visiting from the Ladies Only Blog Share or #LOBS, either in the comments below or feel free to send me a tweet or leave me a note on Facebook! I will definitely respond and follow you back! And the rest of my co-hosts would be thrilled to meet you as well!

Now, let’s get started on the link party! Have fun and visit the links below. We ask that you try to visit at least three. Remember to leave a thoughtful comment on the new blogs you’ve discovered and let them know you’re visiting from the Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party! Feel free to pin your blog post to the Ladies Only Blog Share Pinterest board, too! In the URL field, place the link to your post. The name field should contain the title of your post.

Use the hashtag #LOBS when tweeting! Doesn’t it have a nice ring to it?

A few simple requests are…

** Follow and visit all of the hosts and co-hosts

** Link up your favorite post! Please try to stick to our weekly theme

** Please share this link party so others can join

** Visit at least three of the blogs on the link party

And now, party time:

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Winter’s Leftovers.

No doubt, winter did a number on me this year.

There is STILL snow in our yard and on the sides of the driveway! Granted, there isn’t a lot and we were able to put up our swings over the weekend, which was entirely too happy-making for words. We live in a clearing in the woods, so as much as the house itself does get abundant light all year that many of you pointed out when I shared photos of my living room, the tall trees still cover a lot of our property. Our lawn still has snow long after it’s melted everywhere else in town. Everywhere else in MA?

This was taken last April. It was obviously somewhat warm for Scarlet to rock a Cinderella dress in comfort, but there’s snow!

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Slowly, I’m coming out of my winter funk but it’s harder this year than before. I still dread getting out of the shower and I still curse at the pellet stove when I have to put it on in the early morning or late at night. As if it’s the pellet stove’s fault! I still have some frozen remnants in my head and heart. I still have anxiety over little things, like Scarlet’s dentist appointment, my haircut, business lunch meetings, jobs, preschool pickup? I kid you not. Sometimes I’m just so far gone that ANY kind of social interaction and/or chance at letting go, moving on, growing, expanding, whatever. It just makes me a little more jittery.

I may never know why. I know it comes and goes with physical seasons and life seasons. So much to think about. Money and travel. Kindergarten and a two-year-old. Blog conferences and real estate photography. Organic food and chemicals in the air. Illnesses and puppies. Fresh beginnings. Yesterday I woke up and had to take Scarlet to preschool, then relax at home with my mom, Des and Athena, then hit an appointment, and then get Scarlet from school. I had been up since 5:40. Why? Des thought it was a good idea, even if I didn’t. I find waking up before 8:00 am to be barbaric, but try telling that to the rest of them.

I was fuzzy. My phone was buzzing suspiciously at 8:30 am. From Vegas. (5:30 am there) And then something magical happened.

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I called my sister, at the crack of dawn her time, to see what on earth was up. And…she’s engaged!! And he’s a real person with real feelings and a real smile and he makes her happy and he has a very sensitive side, and he once called me from the Disney Store to pick out a perfect gift for Scarlet. And not for nothing, but she was totally playing with the Flynn Rider doll he got her. She took the bridal dress off of Rapunzel and put it on Jasmine. She then took off Flynn’s shirt and asked me for help getting off his pants and boots. She said, “I want Jasmine to come home and find him naked as a funny surprise.” That really happened!

And what a surprise that would be…

So let’s get out these winter leftovers, shall we? Let’s move on and move forth. Let’s think about warm, fresh beginnings with no more frozen remnants hidden in our heads, hands and hearts. These are the last of my frozen thoughts and my winter photos.

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My Writing Process.

It was a BlogHer editor who first gave me “permission” to call myself a writer, even though she made it clear I had been born with that permission. It was after my first post was syndicated on BlogHer and I said, “Can I call myself a writer yet? I want to shout from the rooftops: ‘I’m a writer, a writer, a writer.” And she wrote back these nine words I’ll never forget:

“Yes, Tamara. You’re a writer, a writer, a writer!”

We do not need permission to call ourselves writers, although it took me a long time to admit that I am one. It’s not the fact that I get paid to write, although that helps. It’s not the fact that I co-authored a book, although that helps. It’s not the three-times-a-week blog posting, although that surely made me see it some more. It’s mostly the fact that I have written since I could hold a pencil, and before that, I dreamed in stories and poems. It’s not always as evident/visible as my photography thing..

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..but I can assure you it means just as much.

So when I was tagged/asked by Kerstin of Auer Life to participate in a Blog Author Tour to write about my writing process, I hesitated, but only because I had two sick kids and a new puppy and couldn’t get to my computer. After that, I said “yes.”

“Heck, yes,” in fact. Here are some questions/answers about my writing process:

1. What am I working on?

Oh, what a question! What am I not working on, is more like it? I’m going to answer this generally, because although I’m a writer answering writing questions, there is just much more to the story. I would love to tell you I’m sitting here completing that novel I want to write about love, anxiety and photography – and where those three things meet, but I’m not there yet. Right now I’m working on training a puppy, registering Scarlet for kindergarten and summer camp, learning to understand and translate Des’ “toddlerspeak” and making him very happy and relieved in the process, and I’m also working on building a photography business. Oh yeah – and summer travel, house guests, anniversaries and princess birthday parties. I write in between blog commenting, eating homemade popcorn, and editing photos that are from early January. Better late than never, right?

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2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Oh, cool! Do I have a genre? I’d love to have a genre! I think that it stems from the fact that no two people are alike, so no two writing minds are alike. And since my writing requires less structured thinking, and more free-thinking without knowing what I’m about to say, I’d have to say that my mind is being poured into it. And I have a unique mind the way you do. People have said my writing/photography is like having them over for coffee. So when you do meet me and you see what my kids look like and I open my mouth to speak it’s not vastly different from what you take from this blog. And I have a specific structuring style that I learned with my major in Journalism. I graduated with high honors too, because I am fiercely competitive and ambitious.

Sometimes.

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(My mom scanned this oldie but goodie for me.)

3. Why do I write what I do?

Quite frankly, there’s no other choice! Every time I sit down at my computer, I really have no idea what’s going to come out. It’s how I process anxiety, love and parenting best – through writing. If I have nothing to say, or it’s not ready to come, I don’t really write. I’ll participate in a linkup or I may use a set of photos/stories/truths and lies type of post. It’s rare for this to happen, though. Usually if I post an Ask Away Friday, 30 Things I Want My Kids To Know, or Truths & Lies post, it’s been pre-scheduled.

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4. How does my writing process work?

I do think it’s changed over the years, but not by that much. I generally have a note in my Notes app on my phone and I keep a loose schedule there, along with several ideas. I rarely dip into the ideas because I’m usually backed up with things I want to write about. Which is nice. In the olden blogging days, I would panic on the night before I wanted to post because I hadn’t a clue what to write! And it would always come. I’m deeply a deadlines girl. You give me a deadline and the ideas start flowing. You give me open-ended and I tread water. I ALWAYS make my deadlines. Just ask my editors. I post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and I’m usually about 1-2 weeks ahead with what I want to write planned out. However it’s always subject to changes in my mood, or changes in life. There was a Monday I had planned to talk about anxiety, but I was surprised with a puppy the previous Friday. So I wrote about the puppy on Monday and then pushed the ideas back a few days. The puppy post couldn’t wait!

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On Fridays, I always do Ask Away Friday (#AAF) and every other Friday, I combine Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party with it. It’s a nice break on Thursday nights to write within a structure and formula. I still supply unique ideas and photos, but the outline is already there. I’d love to tell you there is a same time every day that I write, but that’s not very possible with a puppy and a toddler, and preschool dropoff and pickup. Plus with spring here, I am not indoors a lot. I write when I want to write. I write when the words come, and if there’s no time for that when it happens, I at least stop everything (within reason) to jot down notes, and then I’ll write when I can. I like to write when no one else is around (rare in the day) and I put Pandora on shuffle.

***

Next week on April 14th, the Blog Author Tour moves to two fantastic writers: Nancy of The Real Nani, and Lisa of The Golden Spoons.

I actually first knew Nancy in real life and before my blog. We met nearly four years ago at a local farmer’s market. She’s a radiant being with three of the most beautiful children known to existence. Her writing reminds me somewhat of my own, or at least it reminds me of my thinking. ‘Cause isn’t that what writing really is? The way we think? It’s not the way we hold our pens or our keyboards, but how we bring forth our stories and ideas.

Lisa is my blog friend, my co-author of “The Mother of all Meltdowns”, and we’re going to meet soon at BlogU – to learn more about writing, of course. We have had similar processes of becoming mothers and not going back to previous jobs/careers – but instead learning slowly what else we want to do out here in this great big world.

***

What is your writing process like? Streamlined or zany, or somewhere in between?

All The Good Stuff Happens On Twitter.

I’ve been looking forward to this post all week.

I organized a blogging meetup on Twitter. I have also half-joked on Twitter about having a giant Tamara Camera Blog Camp on our four acres of land, tents not included, unless you love neon pink Disney tents. Once Scarlet made a friend at the local co-op and I noticed that her nearby mother looked familiar. Turns out? We had previously had many conversations on..you guessed it..Twitter. I love Twitter. In fact, follow me there! I will never unfollow you unless you unfollow me. I’m petty like that.

And not ashamed.


Last week I realized I hadn’t set up any bloggers for Ask Away Fridays in April, so I put a call out on Twitter and got back four fabulous replies. The first one was Tracie of From Tracie. Tracie is a thoughtful, deep, radiant, exquisite writer and I love her deep-thinking posts, as well as her posts about life in Orlando. She gets a lot of fun blogger opportunities, and shares her stories.

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To see who else is participating or to learn how to join the fun, head over to visit hosts: Penny from The Real Housewife of Caroline County, Amber from The Bold Fab Mom, Tiffany from Mrs Tee Love Life Laughter and Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings. #AskAwayFriday is their beautiful and ever-growing creation! And contact me if you want to swap some time!

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To see Tracie answer my questions, go HERE. And now my answers to her questions:

1. Is there something you are particularly looking forward to doing with your kids when they get older?

Oh, that’s such a good question! Today Scarlet asked me about photography and if I could one day teach her. I would love to do that! And I can’t wait to have more adult conversations about life and dreams, tolerance, acceptance, joy and pain. I want to read “Harry Potter” with them. I want to watch “Doctor Who” with them. More road trips, more moose and wolves, whale watching, sunsets and sunrises over the ocean. Over different oceans. I want to go back to Disney World, time and time again.

Whatever tickles their fancy.

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2. Your photography always amazes me. When you are doing a session for a client, do you prefer to go somewhere special, or to work at their house? And how do you find and choose those special places for sessions (the place with the random outdoor mirror comes to mind)?

Another good one! I find that most sessions are outdoors at a place we both can easily get to – Smith College, local parks, Connecticut River banks, forests, mountains, beaches, etc. I have definitely done professional sessions at my own home:

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At clients’ homes:

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And even in a library!

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Of course I want it in the place the client most wants their session. I offer suggestions based on experience or I ask for ideas from the local photography referral network. Obviously I’m most comfortable at places I’ve been (or live at) because with new places, I don’t know how to anticipate lighting and timing as easily, but I catch on. I studied this for 15 years for a reason!

Your backup plans need backup plans in photography..

3. From reading your blog, I know you are a super taster, so you have a special relationship with food and tastes. Are you a cooking person?

No, I’m pretty bad at cooking. It’s more of a lack of interest thing. I have no doubt that if I really put my mind to it, as with anything, I could be fiercely competitive and innovative and all that good stuff. That said, I’m too paranoid to cook meat and have never really even touched raw meat. (not a vegetarian, though) And there was the time I made sweet potato fries, following the recipe to a “T”, only to have used already baked sweet potatoes instead of raw ones! So they came out limp and burnt. I can bake, though, and I once whipped up these Tardis cookies for Cassidy’s birthday. They were toffee stuffed inside brownies stuffed inside chocolate chip cookies. Nice, right? If you’re awesome, I’ll make you some.

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4. Do you have a quote or message that sums up the way you live your life?

Someone asked me this recently and I gave up this Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

5. I know you love the song Safe and Sound, because reading about it in your blog is the reason it is on one of my playlists right now. What other songs do you love, and do you turn to different songs when you are in different moods or places in your life?

I definitely do. Some constant favorites/soothers/inspirers (or all three) are:

“Learning to Fly” – Tom Petty
“Ten Years Gone” – Led Zeppelin
“Song H” – Bruce Hornsby
“Cloud on my Tongue” – Tori Amos
“Live To Tell” – Madonna
“Layla” – Eric Clapton

And a LOT more. These are all on my desert island mix. They’re all the things I want to remember.

6. Where do you find peace?

Often, within my own head, if there’s nothing else I can reach for. I find peace while typing/connecting in front of a computer, behind the lens, with the kids, when I’m laughing, with the songs mentioned above, and in the woods on our property.

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7. What is something you look back on and think, “I can’t believe I did that, but I wouldn’t go back and change it!”

Funny, because I have that thought ALL OF THE TIME! Saucy things I’ve said and done. Trips I’ve taken. Strengths I didn’t know I had.. A few years ago, I quit an office job with a note that said, “You are verbally abusive to me. I want to cry all of the time. Goodbye.” (and this wasn’t the same place I referenced earlier in which I left in the middle of the day with a banana in a desk drawer). Once, Cassidy and I snuck illegally but accidentally into a safari, but we were caught after the giraffe ratted us out:

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I fulfilled a life dream to go to Yosemite, but I missed most of it because I was with a cute boy. (TMI?)

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8. How do you approach social media, and what is your favorite platform?

Genuine and inoffensive. Connected. Connective. With photographic evidence! Getting conversations started. Showing family and friends the zaniness of our lives. And of course, trying to make money with writing and photography. My favorite is Facebook (despite my above outpouring of love for Twitter). I just like how we’re all in the same place at the same time. So many walks of life! Blows my mind. Imagine if we were all in a room together. Well, it just won’t happen. So we have Facebook.

9. What is one word or phrase that you say a lot?

“Really?? It’s said in a certain sarcastic way that needs a soundbite. I don’t know how to do that! Just watch this video, starting around a minute. It’s more the way Seth says it, and not as much the way Amy says it:

10. I snuck in a couple of double questions up there, so this last one will be less of a question and more of a request: I remember you writing about your fun sock collection. I love fun socks. Can we see more of your socks?

Yes, you can! Here’s today’s gems:

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These socks are my absolute favorites and I wear them when I really need them..

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These funny ones were given to me by Dion of Fire and the Romance..when I was 30. Not 50.:

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Here are some more favorites:

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Thanks, Tracie! You really got me with those. I love being really gotten!

Jump For My Love.

Why the title?

Well..because THIS. It helps to put the video on right now and shimmy in your desk chair:

And also, why the title?

Well..because **THIS.

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There’s a lot of jumping in this post. Jumping on trampolines. Jumping into new friendships. Jumping into better weather and better days, after a TERRIBLE weekend and a TERRIBLE Monday. I have two warnings/disclaimers before you proceed:

1. Some of the photos in this blog post are not up to par with my usual level of quality. You’ll see why soon.
2. The next paragraph or two is kind of gross. Don’t read that part if you don’t feel up to it.

So a main reason my weekend was so TERRIBLE was because Athena had some sort of GI problem, only about a week or so into being in our family! We fretted because the last time we had seen these sort of symptoms were in Cassidy’s 15-year-old husky when she had an intestinal blockage from eating a pinecone or something. And that was probably a $10,000 debacle, in which we were worried sick. So you can imagine how this made us feel over the weekend. She’s gotten her way into our hearts, see..

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On Monday morning she had an appointment with the vet, that we were told we could cancel if she seemed fine like she had the night before. She wasn’t fine. When I got home from preschool dropoff, she had “diarrhena” (Scarlet’s pronunciation that I won’t correct because I love it) on the couch. I was running around to take off the cushion covers and throw them in the laundry. I made her sit outside, which made me sad, but I had a one-year-old running around. Then Cassidy came home to take her to the vet where she would stay all day for testing. I was horrified in 500 ways. Then when I was putting the cushion covers back onto the cushions (a chore that deserves its own circle of hell), I somehow moved my hand in a way in which one of my fingernails..and this is so heinous I can’t bear it…FLIPPED BACKWARDS at a more than 90 degree angle. I..finally know what it looks like under a fingernail. And oh, the pain! It’s unspeakable. It’s better today. She’s better today. Today was better today.

She went back to the vet today (Tuesday, as I write this). They found an infection, and also inconclusive results found on x-rays and ultrasounds. So the theory is that she may have eaten a toy that got stuck and caused a blockage and an infection. Or it’s just an infection. Barium went through her and we’re just waiting for..one good bowel movement. That may tell us more. Either way, she’s home and she’s going to be fine. I’ll uh..let you know if we find anything coming out again. If you want to know..

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Which brings us to what I actually wanted to talk about today – Allie from VitaTrain4Life!

We had been talking here and there about how we both live somewhat close to a new trampoline park. We both like to jump. We both have 4.5-year-olds (and I have a Des). So last week, we made plans to meet there! I admit I was a little nervous, because like she said in her own post, meeting a blogging friend is like meeting a celebrity. On the other hand, meeting a good blogging friend is like..well..meeting a friend. You feel like you already know them because you DO. This blogging stuff? It’s for reals! And now I have met four blogging friends who can attest to me being me, and looking like I seem to look, and having two kids, and..well..people always expect me to be taller. I’m 5’6″. Cassidy is 6’1″ and looks tall compared to anyone!

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So anyway, I walked into the trampoline park, with Des in one arm and Scarlet clutching my other hand. I saw Allie ahead of me in line instantly and she grinned and waved. I relaxed! I waited in lie for about…20 minutes. Seriously. While I waited in line, Des leaned on my shoulder and Scarlet lovingly hugged my leg. We looked like such a nice family. I wondered if Allie (already in the trampoline park with her cute twins) could see us and thought maybe we were a non-screamy family. And..ha to that!

We’re not. And talking to her in person was fantastic, although we were interrupted every..five seconds. We do have four kids between us and all. Next time, Allie, let’s meet without kids and with some other New England bloggers. I can’t wait!

The lighting was terrible and the bouncing was plentiful so the photos aren’t up to my quality. Yet, here is Allie with our kids!

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These are her cute twins (and I can even tell them apart) and a blurry Scarlet:

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It was harmonious (until Scarlet yelled at me). It was real and it was spectacular (which I believe is a Seinfeld quote).

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And I can’t wait to do it again.

Now it’s April and I think Athena is fine now, and we’re jumping into better and brighter days, I hope. March came in like a lion and out like a…rabid bobcat. I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl, though. And my Facebook status from April Fool’s Day:

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**The first trampoline photo was from the first time we went with Scarlet’s grandparents. More on that at a later date.