Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Session: Young Cowboys

We met at Myakka State Park on Sunday.  The weather was beautiful, the boys were in good spirits, and I was crossing my fingers that just a few shots would turn out.  It's been six months since I played photographer, and six months since I've done a mock session. 


We enthusiastically headed over to a tree to climb.  The boys hopped up and I snapped a few shots, but then decided I should be up on the limb too.  I attempted to jump up on the giant limb multiple times before requiring assistance.  It made the boys laugh, I got my shot, and also got some motivation to get back to the gym.

After hiking down a trail, and around a swamp, we changed location.  I knew there was this rustic "cabin" not too far down the road.  So, we drove there, climbed out and then discovered it's a bathroom.  Didn't matter...I just wanted the background.  I wanted the texture of the wood. 

It turned out to be a great spot for these young cowboys.

This hobby of mine is still relatively new to me.  I'm still trying to figure out what my "style" is.  I'm trying to figure out what I like and what I don't.  I know I'm not good at posing subjects.  Photos of forced smiles don't really speak to me....not the way that this one does, anyway.


If these were my children, I'd hang this one.  It's unscripted, it tells a story.  A story of a little brother who is looking up at his big brother for his next step.  In the photo, he's trying to figure out what big brother is doing with his hat, but in life, he's learning how to grow up by watching his big brother. 


And I think they'll figure it out together, side by side.


And I love this one too.  It's life with more than one child; kids going in different directions, momma trying to pull it all together, while keeping herself together.  It's one of those moments that just IS.

And it all comes together eventually, doesn't it.  That's the way life works.

So, we ventured down a trail to a real log cabin.  The boys had renewed energy to explore while I tried to keep up.


They broke my camera with their goofy faces and cuteness and then Big Brother tried on his somber face.  He's a stone-faced cowboy and he's mad that his horse ran off.  That's what we pretended anyway. 

Then, Little Brother did some rock climbing.  He seems so small compared to the big giant rock.  And I had the chance to nail my focus. 


As the sun was fading and the mosquitoes started biting, we decided to try one more location.  Down the road we drove to a wooden fence covering the entrance to a trail.  It was a good decision.  I think I took my best photos of the day in that spot.





I still don't know what my style is.  Different photos speak to me in different ways, I just can't pinpoint it, and that's okay.  Maybe my style is that I don't have one.  Regardless, I had a great time, and I hope that their momma got a Christmas card shot out of here somewhere.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Working On - Young Cowboys

Oh, what a 4 day weekend does for the soul!  We had a great time.  I had family in town and hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time.  It was also the first time that my new dining room table was properly dined on, although the room looks just as naked as it did before.  Except, now our Christmas tree is up, and the room has been rearranged to make room for it.  I love how a beautiful tree changes the whole mood of a house and room.  This is, indeed, my favorite time of the year.

So, I have stories and photos to share this week, but first I'll share a few of these.  I had the pleasure of photographing my two favorite boys yesterday.  It was a gorgeous day, and the park yeilded a fabulous venue for this rustic/ranch style session.  It's been a long time since I've given this a shot, and I definitely had issues with my focus being off or just way too soft.  I think I took nearly 200 photos and came up with a handful of keepers.  I'm working my way through them, but here are a few of my favs.


Big Brother was dying to lay on a bench or table for me.  I love it when kids call the shot.  They are always so happy to smile for the camera when it's their idea.  These smiles are real!


One of my favorite photos of the day - who knew a giant stone BBQ could turn into a decent photo spot!


Y'all this room was dark, really dark.  I had to take my ISO up to 3200, and my shutter was dragging, and no tripod on hand.  I attempted to salvage the photo.  It's not perfect, but it's much improved from my original image, and I love the texture of the fireplace.  Next time, Carol, bring your dang tripod..oh, wait, I still need one.  Dear Santa, bring Carol a tripod for Xmas!

There was a mamoth rock across the street, and boys being boys, wanted to climb said rock.  It gave me the opportunity to change perspective a bit, since I was shooting up and toward the sun.  Sure I blew out the sky, but I managed to focus on his eyes in this one.  This photo is like a time machine....I can see exactly what he'll look like at 15, in this photo.


The softer side.
I lovey this one too, although my focus is on his knee, and not on his eyes...I still think it's sweet!  He looks like a lonesome lil cowboy. 

Happy Cyber Monday, Y'all!! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Miracle to be Thankful For

This is Mr. G.  He is the student teacher in Camdyn's Kindergarten classroom this year.  Mr. G decided to change careers and follow his true passions in life, learning and children.  He beams in the classroom and it shows, the children adore him, and he almost always has one, or five, glued to his side.

Just a few days after this photo was taken of Mr. G dressed as an M&M for Halloween, he suffered a massive stroke.  One so dehabilitating that the doctors said there was nothing they could do.  We were informed of this on Halloween night and told that his chances of survival were slim.  Our family began to pray.  Camdyn would pray for Mr. G every night.  Grief counselors were brought in to talk to the children about Mr. G, the hospital, and death (as frightening as that sounds). 

But, a miracle happened.  The swelling and bleeding in his brain subsided, he was moved out of ICU, and rehab therapists were bought in.  At this point he wanted to see children, so Camdyn and I made a trip to the hospital with one of her classmates.  They were shocked and overwhelmed, he didn't look the same, he could not speak, and he looked pale and frail.  His therapist asked the girls to sing "Happy Birthday" with him, and he would sing along.  He tried, but no sound came out.  The girls left the hospital that day talking about how much they love Mr. G.

A week later, and Camdyn is begging to see Mr. G again.  We make another visit with the same classmate and are astounded at his progress.  This week he is wheeling himself down the hallway.  He is holding the Potato Turkey that Cam made him in his hand, and he is grinning the biggest half grin we've seen; his color is back, his soul is shining.  This time when they sang "Happy Birthday" Mr. G sang along and LOUD too.  I was brought to tears.  What a miracle this man is!  He surely has more work left to do on this earth. 

Last Thursday, Camdyn's class had a Thanksgiving feast in their cafeteria.  Afterwards, the parents were invited to the classroom to watch the children perform their Thanksgiving songs and eat dessert.  It was then, that I saw this: 


A piece of artwork depicting what Camdyn is Thankful for.  1.  The Ranch  2. Natr (nature  - OMG cute!)  3:


Mr. G.  She drew him lying in his hospital bed.  When I saw this I had to blink away the tears, I pulled out my camera, my heart swelling with pride.  Her teacher saw me photographing her art and said, "She's the only one in the class that thought to put him on there" and then she began fanning away tears. 

My girl has a big heart. 

These are indeed great things to be thankful for, and now we are hoping that Mr. G., will be a walking and talking Christmas miracle. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Show

It's hard to believe it's been nearly a week since we went to the Taylor Swift concert.  We had been looking forward to this show and a night out on the town with the girls for weeks. 
We started off with a early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  I forgot to pack crayons and a coloring book for Cam, but she did well, and actually impressed with me with her ability to self-entertain.

Of course, we hit traffic on our way downtown, and when we finally got within sight distance of the St. Pete Times Forum, it was 7:00.  Camdyn was so afraid that we were going to miss it, and I was getting anxious too! 

But we arrived, and hadn't missed a beat!  The first stop was the restroom, where Camdyn took this photo with her ticket.  For whatever reason, she had her leg up in the air with her hand on her knee, like Captain Morgan.


And then we got really excited about all the giant Taylor Swift posters in the corridor.

We found our seats, which were pretty killer.  We had a great view of the stage.  Notice that Cam has on a yellow TS t-shirt.  I ordered it off her website for $5.  It's a really old shirt from her days opening for Rascal Flats.  I didn't care.  We avoided the T-shirt line and I saved some $$.  Score!

Here's the girls!  Thanks for coming with us and making our night so special!
TS_the girls

So Sweet!

During a ballad, Cam made the Heart on her own, while she was swaying to the music.  Girlfriend had no problem keeping up with TS.

This is where she came down off the stage and walked the perimeter of the arena and then sat on a small stage at the opposite side.  She was sooo close to us.  (she's blurry and in purple and glows like the angel she is).  We had such a great view at this point in the show, that we actually all sat down and rested our tired legs. 

This is the finale.  She flew on this balcony all around the arena, and ended up flying directly over top of us.  It's also the part where I screamed like a teen-age girl and Cam said "Ow, Mom.  That was right in my ear.  Quit it."  Sorry kiddo. 

And after 2 hours of solid, non stop, entertainment, it was over.  We took a very tired little girl home with us, who absolutely had the time of her life.  I'm sure she won't ever forget her first concert, and I just can't wait to do more mother/daughter things with her (and her sister) in the future. 

**all photos provided by Vanessa

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We are seeing Taylor Swift on Saturday

I am so excited to see this sold out show with my gal pals and my oldest girl on Saturday night.  She is a huge fan although she doesn't know it yet....or maybe she does.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Slide

If I could freeze this moment and the joy on their faces, I most certainly would.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Momma Bear Syndrome

When Camdyn was a toddler I found myself in Momma Bear mode a lot more often than I do these days.  It was easy, back then, to swoop her up and save her from danger, and to solve her problems for her.  I was that mother that would glance a judgemental eye at the woman who let her rambunctious 9 year old (who was violating the height restriction on the play place at the mall) bump into her and knock her over.  I'd get all "This isn't safe, we are leaving.  I'm Momma Bear and I'm protecting you!"   
But then time happens, and kids grow, and circumstances change, and suddenly I'm that woman with a rambunctious 5 year old who accidentally knocks over a toddler at the play place at the mall.  And much the same, the circumstances when I have to go in to Momma Bear mode have also changed. 

I don't protect her physically so much anymore.  Instead, I fight the urge to protect her emotionally, I fight the urge to save her self-esteem, the urge to protect her from a broken heart, or disappointment.  In some situations Momma Bear is warranted, but in most it does her a disservice. 

A few weeks back, Camdyn was taking her first semi-private riding lesson at the ranch.  There were two older girls in her lesson, twins, 8 years old.  In typical Cam fashion she began chatting them up.  The child makes fast friends everywhere she goes.  They went to the camp room and picked out helmets together and then returned to the area where I was sitting.  I asked Cam which horse she wanted to ride and she said, "I want to ride Molly.  I love Molly."  One of the older girls said, "I don't like Molly.  Molly is too easy.  I need a more difficult horse." 

I bit my tongue.  My urge was to say, "Well, Camdyn is only 5 years old.  She is a lot younger than you.  She needs an easy horse and she loves Molly."  But, I didn't.  I wanted to see how Camdyn would respond to the older girl's comment.   Cam didn't say a thing about it.  She just kept on talking about horses, and saddles, and the girls walked to the barn like the best of friends.  She wasn't the slightest bit offended or put down, although I kind of was.

It got me thinking, how often do parents project adult feelings on children?  As adults we forget the amount of innocence in children's conversations.  That little girl was simply trying to state that she likes a horse who provides a challenge.  She wasn't actually putting Camdyn down, she just lacked the maturity and eloquence to say it any other way.  I was the one who interpreted it negatively.  My mind whipped in to Momma Bear mode, and I almost made an bigger ordeal about the comment than necessary. 

As much as I want to protect Camdyn's self-esteem, her innocence, her feelings all the livelong time, I have learned that I can't and I shouldn't.  Remember the incident at Chick Fil A a few Junes ago?  I beat myself up over not saying squat to the kids who were blatantly being mean.  Yeah, part of it is that I have an aversion to conflict, but the other part of it is that I also know that I can not walk beside Camdyn her entire life, defend her every move, fight her every battle, and be her defender all the time.  I need to let her figure out how to handle life herself.  She needs to learn how to stand up for herself, how to properly respond to someone who says not-so-nice things, when to stand her ground, and when to compromise.  Coming from a woman who struggles with exactly that (not due to parenting, but just due to my genetic make-up) I consider the ability to resolve ones issues and stand up for one's self a gift. 

And the next time Cam is on the offending end of the situation, the next time she utters words that are misconstrued as being mean, when she simply didn't explain herself well, I'm not going to jump in to defend her, to declare her innocence, or rectify the wrongs.  I'm going to let her work it out, because conflict resolution is an important life skill....and because I'm going to save Momma Bear mode for when it really counts. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - The Unicorn

"A long time ago, when the earth was green
And there was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen,
And they run around free while the world was bein' born,
And the loveliest of all was the Unicorn.


There was green alligators and long-neck geese.
There was humpy bumpy camels and chimpanzees.
There was catsandratsandelephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the Unicorn."

Poem written by Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends