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I am a total hopeless romantic. I love love stories. I love chick flicks. I love happily ever afters. I think Disney nurtured what was in my nature with all their love stories like Cinderella, Snow White and the Little Mermaid at a very young age. My only Ken doll is a polygamist because I made him marry all 33 Barbies that I owned or maybe he was living a double life to the 33rd power?!? I am totally hooked on shows like The Bachelor because in my heart of hearts, I REALLY want them to live happily ever after. So, when a holiday that is specifically dedicated to love comes around…I am ALL.OVER.IT.
When Chad and I were first dating, of course, we did the whole going out to dinner for Vday, gave each other gifts, cards and had a romantic evening together. That carried on until the first years of our marriage…and then…we had kids. As much as I want to believe that “everyday is Valentines'” …um, that is NOT reality with kids. There is nothing romantic coming home to a wife that is STILL in her pjs at 6PM…not the sexy PJ’s ..the ones that are SO comfortable but hideous. Life happens, kids happen. We do have plenty of love, we do share plenty of kisses, we do do the special things that say “ I love you” for each other throughout the year but it IS nice to have a day dedicated to just that.
So, instead of Lighting McQueen or Thomas the Train Valentines Day Cards, I decided to make little Valentines Day Cards of the two biggest loves of my live. For our family and close friends, we mailed them personalized photo cards and for Travis’ classmates, I cut out wallets and got some scrapbooking paper and mounted the picture to the paper. I don’t have the final product in hand since we are still visiting family, but here’s a little sneak peek of what was involved. I’ll share the larger pictures on Valentines Day, but until then, this is your 48 hour warning that the world is going to be flooded with pink, red, flowers and hearts….all.day.long.
I waste a lot of my time by not following the directions. This is definitely not reflective of my personality since I am a very structured person who loves relying on routine. I have no imagination when it comes to cooking so I follow the directions to the T…ok, maybe I add a little more sugar to my baked goods, but whose counting? I love shopping at Ikea and in order to get the “look” that Ikea displayed in their store, you HAVE.TO.FOLLOW their directions since all of their furniture requires assembly and with out that, you’re pretty much screwed. Learning how to operate my camera….all instructions. So, why why why did I skim the “instructions”/get started section over a year ago when I opened my zenfolio account? Err..had I actually looked through their site, I would have know that my account featured a homepage for me to display my photographs and other information…sorta like a website but kinda not really like a website but good enough until I get a website…ya know?!? I’ve been using them to upload my sessions into private online galleries for my clients and that ALONE was worth the fee….so having this additional feature is the icing on the cake. One less thing for me to have to pay for, since I already pay for it. Sheesh, read the freakin’ directions Michelle!
So please humor me and come take a look. You go visit by clicking here! There’s also a guest book at the bottom for you to sign and say hi! And please, don’t hold it against me the music that is playing in the background. Trust me, it was the best option they had….and if I had my way, I would choose my love Michael Buble. Since posts are always better with a picture, here’s one of Travis in front of Grandma and Papa’s house in Canada. The Great White North takes winter to a level that most will never fully be able to understand. This is the pile of snow that the city’s snow removal equipments shovels from the curbs.There are piles on every street like this allllllll throughout the city!
“Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.”
We are very familiar with the 1200 mile drive to see our family in Canada. We know all the McDonalds with playgrounds from Denver to Central Alberta..all of them. We know exactly how far we can drive before our tank is half empty. We know we can drive from Shelby, Montana to Grandma and Papa’s house on a tank of gas, with about 50 miles to spare. We now know where there are Red Boxes along I-25 so that we can rent and drop off a movie all in the same day. We know where the gas station is where we can change the kids in their pajamas for our last stop before we hit Great Falls and load up on energy drinks for the long drive through the night. These are the things we know. What we don’t know is if there is going to be a deer jetting out at us in the dark on the one lane drive from Billings, Montana to Great Falls, Montana…so we white knuckle it all the way (BTW, road kill is on a whole different level in the middle of nowhere). We don’t know if we are going to get a flat in the middle of Nowhereville. We don’t know how much the weather will change as we progress closer north or if we are going to get caught in a freak storm like we have been in the past. There are SO many unknowns, not just on road trips but in life.
Just this past Thursday, we got an call that a family member had passed away. Shock, disbelief, extreme sadness and lots of tears were some of the initial emotions we experience. On the same day we were celebrating my *ahem* “22nd birthday (humor me puh-lease), we got the phone call of his passing. Without going in to too much detail, whether expected or unexpected, death is such a hard thing to deal with. It’s not something you can ever prepare for emotionally. It’s not a feeling that you ever want to feel or experience. It’s not ever something you want to talk about or even take your mind to. It’s just devastating.
I was preparing to write about journey to define my “brand” as a photographer…talk about how indecisive I am when it comes to making decisions about me, how bi polar my fashion sense is, how much interior design and fashion will play a role in my “brand”, bleh bleh bleh. But really, as much as I want to discover and embrace a brand that truly represents me, it’s times like this that make me realize how much energy and emotion I waste on things that are trivial. Bottom line, when I die, my obituary will not tell of how creative and unique my photography brand was in depicting me as a person. Yes, photography plays a large role in my life, but my loved ones will not care if I used grays, blues, greens or blacks as my blog theme. They won’t care if my camera logo has lots of sparkles coming out of it’s flash. They won’t care what 3 types of fonts I chose. They won’t care if I had my own domain or if I use blogspot. NONE of this matters to my family. So why should it matter to me?
As I helped edit the preliminary drafts of Uncle Lenard’s obituary, what stuck out was all the precious memories that each person encountered with him. The memories reflected the joy that he brought to all his nieces and nephews playing “pick a hand”, his funny sayings, his love for bonfires, his love for his children, his love for his family, his character, the things that made Uncle Lenard unique and loved. When I think about the day that my obituary will be read, it really shifts the focus from what I “thought” was important to what IS important. Does this mean I neglect the other things that in the grand scheme of things are considered trivial? Nope, it just means I put them behind the list of things that are most important to me and not allow them to take priority over the things that I treasure. I am not guaranteed tomorrow, so if takes me a life time to define my “brand” as a business, I will be okay with that because I spent a lifetime branding the character and legacy that I wanted to be.“Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them.”
And to the sweet lady who was a complete stranger to us in Great Falls, Montana…thank you for sharing your birthday cake with us. The gift of generosity and kindness was the best gift you could have given me on my birthday!
The best compliment that a client can give me is a referral. If they are willing to share my information and refer their family and friends…that means the world to me because it validates their love for their experience and their pictures. That’s exactly how I met this next family. I was contacted by Amanda a few months back after she saw pictures that I took of our mutual friends and booked her photo shoot. Amanda wanted to get some pictures of her twin sons and it was perfect timing since they were just turning 1 year old.
As a new mom, the first birthday is always a huge milestone, but when you have two 1 year olds, that just takes the one year milestone to a whole other level! Amanda and her husband are my hero’s! I can’t even imagine what it is like having two babies, the same age…let alone two little boys! Their boys are absolutely precious and have these beautiful contagious smiles! I loved seeing how they each had different personalities, different temperaments, different interests, and connected differently to each parent.
We spent a little time outside taking some pictures but had to come up with plan B since in true Colorado fashion the weather turned on us….for the worst. I share the same sentiment with the boys in that I don’t care for the cold weather…at all. So after we tolerated as much cold windy weather as we could, we went to a nearby indoor playground that was warm, full of vibrant colors, and was more of their element Then, after play time the boys got a chance to dig in birthday cake and get as dirty as they wanted! It’s always fun to see a 1 year old's reaction to sweets since typically their birthday is the first time they have any. At first they just dug their fingers in it, smashed it with their hands, then took it to the next step and tasted it. They both had a “I am not sure what to think about this” look but then gave a big smile for their approval. It only took seconds for it to be in their hair, their mouth, on the floor, on the shirts…everywhere! Now that’s how a birthday should be spent! Happy Birthday to two incredibly beautiful and sweet boys! Thank you for letting me share in such a special day!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE his expression! Priceless!
Make the cold go away!
I LOVE his reaction! He’s unsure of this unfamiliar taste.
There was never a question of whether or not he liked cake…he LOVED it. And, he was so sweet, he tried to share it!