My Birthday

Tomorrow, I turn 40 wonderful years old. I honestly would not repeat my 20’s. The 30’s were pretty good.

I am the mother of 3 children. A preteen daughter that is 11 years old and 2 sons that are 9 and 6.

I remember when my mother turned 40 years old and I turned 13 the next day. We spent our birthdays on the Chesapeake Bay and I remember my mom saying she stayed up all night waiting for “something” to happen. She was a single mom and it was the two of us. I remember being the gawky know it all teenager. I could do it all myself. Boy did she struggle with me.
As I reflect on my life, my days as a teenager don’t seem so far off. I genuinely do not feel 40, I like to think I don’t “look” 40.There are so many things I now wish I knew as a teenager. I’m sure many wise adults in my life tried to share these secrets with me when I was teen, but I’m not sure I listened the way I should have. The same struggles that I am having with my own daughter. Hoping to make things easier for her, to not go through what I did.
So today’s blog will be a little different. It will be about little secrets I’ve discovered along the way. Maybe if my daughter reads this she will understand a little more about “Dear Ol Mom”.

Don’t worry about having a big group of friends. What good does it do if you can’t trust them? Instead, concentrate on building close friendships with a few reliable people. Be forgiving of your friends, but know when it’s time to create space from them. If they try to drag you down with them, they are not real friends.

Value your family. Even if they make you angry or say things that embarrass you, be grateful they are around and in your life. Appreciate them, they love you very much.

Learn the power of saying “I am sorry.” Genuinely apologizing for hurting someone goes a long way. Stop with the excuses. Take ownership for your behavior.

Look people in the eye. Making eye contact forms an instant bridge between you and another person. Practice talking to yourself in the mirror.

High school goes faster than you think. It is not the be all end all. Be involved. Become a part of your school. You don’t have to be a jock or popular to fit in. See these years as learning years. Step outside your box and take some chances. Run for student government. Try out for the school play. Be a part of a team. Popularity is overrated. Sincerity is underrated. Look for the good in people, not just whether they are good-looking.

Find your own sense of style. Be who you are, not the person you think others want you to be.

Sex changes everything. If someone tells you it doesn’t, they aren’t being truthful.

Forgive your parents. They aren’t perfect and they will make mistakes.

Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you feel pressured to do something, it’s probably not a good idea. Don’t let others decide the direction of your life.

Be cautious of overusing the phrase “I love you” in teenage relationships. Be cautious of underusing the phrase “I love you” when it comes to your parents.
Put energy and effort into what you love. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing isn’t embarrassing; it’s learning.

Getting a drivers license is a privilege, not a right.

Learn to recognize when it is time to slow down. Sometimes you have to slow down to regroup and refocus. Take a timeout.

Get a job so you appreciate a dollar’s value. Learning the importance of hard work is one of life’s most valuable lessons. If you are given everything, you will appreciate nothing. Set goals. Don’t expect things to be handed to you. How good is something if you never have to work for it? Stop with all the computer toys. Put down your cell phone. Turn off your iPod. Quit texting for a few hours. Learn the value of a good book.

Your heart will get broken. And it will heal. One day, you will meet the right person and you will be grateful for all the heartaches. It will teach you who is right for you and who is not.

Listen to your grandparents when they tell about their lives. Their stories are part of your history.

Get to know your teachers. Regardless of what you might think, they really don’t want to see you fail their class. A good relationship with a teacher can be a lifelong friendship.

Put the same amount of energy into your schoolwork as you do into your friendships. Education really is the key to unlocking opportunity, don’t take it for granted.

Live your life like it matters. Live your life like you matter. Live your life to the best of your ability. Live your life in a way that makes you proud of who you are and where you came from.

Jill and Baby Jax

Jill is the mother of my sons best friend (I think we are becoming friends also:) and was the tiniest pregnant woman ever. In fact I think she was 7 months pregnant before I even realized that she was pregnant. Granted I had not seen her that frequently but I almost hesitated to comment on her pregnancy because I was not sure. We have all been there…. Your pregnant! Congratulations! and the response is a flat…No. You then wonder how fast you can run away.

I immediately jumped in to photographer mode and ask if I can photograph her pregnancy. I needed the experience and what a beautiful subject.

I did the shoot at her house which is an amazing log home on a cattle ranch. Unfortunately is was a very overcast and rainy day and the house was fairly dark. I only had my on camera flash and I was trying to use as much natural light as possible.

I was trying not to do all of the usual pregnancy photos but they always sneek in.

This is one of my favorites. We were able to get a couple shots in before is really started to rain. I was worried that the photos appeared sad and dark.
We were going to try and do another shoot in my studio but Jax finally decided to enter the world the morning we scheduled to get together.

Baby Jax joined his mom, dad, and FIVE brothers and sisters.

Little baby feet are made for nibbling on, love them.

I learned a very important lesson when scheduling a newborn baby session….NEVER wait too long to get them into the studio. Things were hectic and we did not get them taken until he was 5 weeks old. He was a big baby anyways, 8 plus pounds, and was no longer in the curled up baby and he was MAD. He cried a good portion of the shoot, I hope I was able to to get a few that they will like.

Like I said…he was mad!

I would really appreciate some constructive criticism on the photos.

My next post will tell a sad but hopeful story of Baby Jax and his family.
God Bless you Baby Jax.

We felted today

These little guys are so homely they are cute. Almost. Angora goats with lots of hair. Fiber. I love fiber. I sheered my first goat last fall and still had all of the wool from the sheering. Was not really sure what I was going to do with it, but I was really excited that I had actually done it. They were pretty dirty and kind of smelly, but once I cleaned all of locks they were so soft and curly and the lanolin on the wool feels so good on your hands. The wool has been sitting with all of my stuff, staring me down. Challenging me to come up with something to create with it. I am a terrible spinner so that was completely out of the question. Then while on a kindergarten field trip at the Eggbournsville Farm it hit me! The children could felt wool around bars of soap. Why this came to me while the children were leading Lamas through an obstacle course I do not know. It would be a fun, easy project that they could do and they would have a mothers day gift when they were done. The teacher was excited when I told her about it, she said “great, lets do it on Thursday!”

Crap. Why do I do this to myself.

I collected my stuff. Soap from the Dollar store. Dyed wool from the neighbor to embellish the white wool I already had. A wash board from another neighbor, along with little wooden mats they use to make sushi. A carder to card the wool. Wash tubs and towels for the table. My laptop so I could show the kids the pictures I had taken of them while they were at the farm. I needed to make one more stop before heading to the school. A trip to a local downtown hardware store that carries everything, to buy another washboard. This also happens to be right across from a coffee shop, decaf please. I was set.

Oops, I forgot my power cord for my laptop better run back home to get it. Got it! Off to the school.

I get to the school and I am in the classroom and realize that I have forgotten the soap at home. Rats! OK, I have time to run home and get it. While I am home I remember that I could use baking racks to dry the soap and maybe I will use the Sizzex to make tags. Grab it. Got it. Head back to the school. Get half way to the school and realize that I have forgotten the soap AGAIN! Back to the house. Get the soap. Back to school. This is all because I have given up caffeine. I miss my coffee.

Twenty-one kindergartners and twenty-one bars of soap and LOTS of bubbles later we had felted soap. They did a great job. I hope they like their gifts.

The kiss

I have taken on the task of converting all of my father-in-laws slides to digital. That would be fifty years of pictures, thank you very much. The slides start when they were dating to about 10 years ago. I jump around the decades doing a box here and there. I have been on vacations with them, his graduation from medical school and the birth of their three children. I have met almost everyone in the photos at one time or another and it is so interesting to see them as children.
I love this photo. It is genuine. There is nothing posed about it. It was taken in the late 60’s and I wish I could remeber the type and year of the car they are leaning agianst. Susan is getting ready to celebrate her birthday and I made this into a birthday card for her. I think she will really like it. I just love it!

A beautiful sight

The most amazing things happened this weekend.
Being “laid up” and not being able to lift anything over 10lbs can be a little frustrating. I decided to use it to my advantage and take pictures instead of working in the yard. I shoot with a Nikon D50 and this lens is a 105mm macro, it is just an amazing lens with great bokeh. Isn’t that a fun word? Bokeh! I was just wandering aimlessly around the yard looking for things to photograph. Tulips, Grape Hyacinth, Pansies, Daffodils and Dogwoods are all over making things very “springy”.
I am a people photographer and prefer to photograph expressions and feelings. I tend to get bored photographing objects but I was crawling around on the ground trying to look at things at different angle with different lighting.

The next two pictures are the exact same flowers except the first one is taken into the sun with the aperture open wide. Look at how the sun makes the Tulips become transparent.
The second photo was taken with the sun still to my face but the aperture closed way down. Pretty cool huh? Amazing what you can do with light.
But on to the the AMAZING thing that happened. Now to everyone else this may seem so be no big deal but to me it is HUGE!

My daughter learned to mow the grass!!
Life is so glorious!
I am soo greatful.

Evening Rituals

Every evening my husband and I take a walk with the dogs. We walk to a field near our home that is fenced in and not in use at the moment. The owners of the field have had to reseed it and the horses will need to be off of it for almost a year. We have decided that it is the new dog park. We take them on the leash, bring treats and a beer. Kids not invited. OK, maybe occasionally. But this is our time.

We take a Little Tykes bat and hit tennis balls for the dogs. We make them run and run and run. Martha knows the deal. She really is a Golden Retriever. There was no training and explaining for her. She knew what to do right away. The first day that we brought her home 4 years ago, she ran to the end of the driveway and brought the newspaper right to us. Of course that evolved into her bringing all the neighbors newspapers back to us also. She does what she was breed to do, and she does it really well. Hazel on the other hand, really has no clue. May the lord help us with this one. Here she has the tennis ball, I may never see this ball again.

My surgery

I have been out of commission for the past few days and debated whether or not to write about it. One of the many discussions and debates you hear about bloggers is that “they tell complete strangers anything”. I will say, I argued this point with myself many times.
Am I willing to write about my personal situations? Would I write about something that I wouldn’t say face to face?
I have talked openly to friends and acquaintances about the fact that I take Celexa, an anti-depressant and anxiety medication. I started taking it after the birth of my second child. We had just moved to another state and really felt horrible. Going on this medication made a huge difference in my life and I really feel that I could have or should have been on it years earlier. I have talked openly about it too many people and in return have been told that there are many people on medication for this also. I have explained the difference it has made in my life, that I am a much happier person. Not stressing if the house is not perfect and everything is not in its place is not so bad. I am not embarrassed by this and do feel that telling others about it helps others feel that it is not such a horrible thing.
I had surgery on Wednesday. Not fun. But surgery, that I chose to have. Almost every woman I know crosses her legs when they sneeze. I used to chuckle every time I had to do the “stop, cross, sneeze”. I considered it almost a badge of honor; I had 3 children all very large. Unfortunately it started to get worse. It really started getting to me when my son’s soccer team had parents against the kids and I had to abruptly stop playing because I was wetting my pants from running. Then we went sledding in MN over Christmas break. I did one run down the hill and was completely wet. Now I am not an old woman, I am only 39 years old and have been dealing with this for nine years. I had stopped going to the gym. I stopped running. I stopped doing impromptu fun things.
I had a pelvic sling put in place that will support the urethra and will hopefully stop the stress incontinence that I have been having. I will let you know in one month.

For Today….The Washington National Cathedral

Outside the window…is a clear, blue beautiful sky.
I am thinking…that I really should be in the kitchen helping get dinner ready but I will clean up instead.
I am thankful for…the fact that most of the major holidays are done for a while. Well, except for my 40th birthday in June!

From the kitchen..I am smelling a wonderful ham cooking.
I am wearing..My new favorite pair of pants, Old Navy Capri Khakis’( I think they make me look skinny;), a really comfortable cashmere sweater from Cabi that I got at a girls night out clothing swap…thanks Heather.
I am creating….A brown Alpaca scarf on my nifty little portable loom.

I am going….to strangle my kids if they don’t start talking nice to each other.

I am reading…Skinny Bitch, just picked it up at Borders today. I saw it on Crazy as a Loom the other day and it piqued my interest. I love her website and what an awesome name.

I am hoping…That my dogs are being good at the neighbors.

I am hearing…The Master’s on TV and the discussion of the rescue of the Mersk captain. Way to go Navy Seals…I also Love the sound of JETS flying over head.
Around the house…everyone is getting ready for dinner, I am being a slacker…I will clean up.
One of my favorite things….A good cup of coffee in a wonderful mug.
Here is a picture I would like to share with you.
Imagine that the picture is below these words. I, for the life of me, do not know how to get the picture on the bottom.

The Dogwood Tree

The state tree and flower of Virginia is the “Flowering Dogwood”. It is such a beautiful, lacy looking tree. Spring in Virginia always reminds me of winter in Minnesota. Strange I know. There are so many Dogwood trees in bloom that it looks like snow on the trees, and when the wind blows the petals fall to the ground. The wind was really blowing when I was trying to get this picture so it is a little blurry. But is kind of pretty none the less.

A little info you may have not known about the Dogwood tree. Fitting for Easter and for us weavers.

The word dogwood comes from dagwood, from the use of the slender stems of very hard wood for making ‘dags’ (daggers, skewers). The wood was also highly prized for making loom shuttles, arrows, tool handles, and other small items that required a very hard and strong wood.

There is a Christian Legend of unknown origin that proclaims that the cross used to crucify Jesus was constructed of dogwood. As the story goes, during the time of Jesus, the dogwood was larger and stronger than it is today and was the largest tree in the area of Jerusalem. After his crucifixion, Jesus changed the plant to its current form: he shortened it and twisted its branches to assure an end to its use for the construction of crosses. He also transformed its inflorescence into a representation of the crucifixion itself, with the four white bracts cross-shaped, which represent the four corners of the cross, each bearing a rusty indentation as of a nail and the red stamens of the flower, represents Jesus’ crown of thorns, and the clustered red fruit represent his blood