Sunday, August 30, 2009

My very own titan of industry

The Husband has been asked to speak at a conference next year in New Orleans. He keeps conveniently forgetting when it is exactly, and I keep nagging reminding him that if said conference takes place anytime on or near mardi gras, he will most certainly find himself sharing a bed.


Ain't no way I'm sending the man I love into that den of iniquity all on his own. All those hoochie mamas and their beads.


ANYhoo, he has needed an executive portrait for the speaking engagement, which is something he is absolutely loathe to do. It is a torturous event each year just getting him to pose for ten minutes in the obligatory family Christmas card photo. Getting him to voluntarily submit himself to a portrait session in a suit and tie?

Probably as awful as having to go to mardi gras with your hag of a wife, I'm sure.

But he finally acquiesced and I am happy to show you the results of his my hard work. I give you the Husband, a titan of the health care industry:

(Note the absence of a wedding ring on that left hand. It was lost years ago while he was coaching gymnastics and I've never replaced it. I think it's time I did, don't you?):

(Want to see the same picture straight out of the camera? Taken in my ghetto basement studio, you know, with the un-ironed white muslin backdrop and the un-photoshopped face? Amazing what a few clicks in Photoshop will do for even the best looking face.)

While dashing and handsome even still, he lacks that certain luster that pretty lights and a good photoshop edit can give you. (And he also now realizes that every picture in the magazines is not remotely the straight-out-of-camera shot. Yes, we all CAN'T be expected to look like Elle McPherson. Even Elle doesn't look like Elle, if you know what I mean.)

Here is another of the finished ones. I tell him this is his "Happy-going-to-lunch-executive-look."

Much less stoic and boardroom-like. It's kind of what he looks like if you're sitting across the table with him having a casual conversation.

See, honey? The photo shoot wasn't really that painful.

And I'd say that one of the perks to having your own in-house photographer is getting to wear your plaid shorts instead of slacks, all the cookies you can eat while shooting, and not having to pay your photographer in dollars.

Brilliant, I tell you. The man is brilliant.

And also pretty dang cute, if you ask me. Look out, Na'Orlins. Here he we come!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Some beautiful people for you to oogle

A few weeks ago, I was extremely honored when I was asked to photograph this handsome devil:

I mean, hello? Who wouldn't jump at the chance to shoot this?

This strapping young man has just joined the military and was home after basic training to visit his mama. Yes, ladies, he loves his mama AND he is single. But not for long, I'll wager.

What is it about a man in a uniform? Of course, I'm old enough to be his mother, so I say that in the most maternal, non-creepy, non-cougar-like manner.


A bonus in this photo shoot was turning my camera on his gorgeous sister and her (pretty-much-already-is-but-soon-to-be-official) fiancee. I've waited to post these until I was sure I could say that without blowing the whistle on them, but I think the date is now set. They are going to be a darling family.

Someday to have the most darling babies.

It was one of the funnest shoots I've had in a long time. Beautiful, grown-up people who love their mama and love each other?

Photography heaven, I tell you.

P.S. I crop all my pictures to a square for blog posting, so some of the edges of the photos get cut off in the process. I assure you that all heads and backgrounds are intact when pictures are handed over to the clients. In case you were wondering.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Some good advice for any age

A few days before school, we sat the kids down - as we do every year - and talked about the upcoming challenges and exciting prospects of a new year. Especially with Mack starting middle school this year, we felt it was important for them to be aware of those around them. We want our children to be friendly and inclusive - to notice that lonely soul off to the side and find a way to broaden their circle. They've been the new kids more times than not, and I don't want them to ever forget what that's like.

At these talks every year, we also stress the importance of doing their best. Sure, second grade isn't exactly the pinnacle of academic achievement, but we feel they need to learn to try their hardest, no matter WHAT level they're on. We constantly remind them that their only job right now is to do well in school.

Which really cuts into Chase's hopes and dreams of playing his ukulele on the street for cash, right next to the crack dealers and homeless shanty towns.

I know, we're just cruel like that.

But when I found this list in Hannah's backpack the other day, it really made me smile.

What can I say? Girlfriend likes herself a good list.

I find them often on her nightstand - lists of what she needs to do the next day, lists of books she wants to read, and even lists of outfits she plans to wear.

Clearly, that nut didn't fall too far from the tree.

But this list particular list takes the cake:

In case her little handwriting is hard to read, here is the translation:

  • Try my best on every test
  • Introduce myself to a lot of people
  • Never say anything roude (rude)
  • Never swear
  • Don't do anything that is mean just to be funny for your friends
Excellent words to live by. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone followed that advice? MTV might actually play music again. You could walk the halls of any high school in America without an assault on the auditory senses. And reality television, as we know it, would cease to exist.

I'm pretty sure she just might be on to something.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trading in those three minutes

Do you hear that?

It's the sound of silence in the Casa de Stie. The little people who have been such good company all summer long have loaded their backpacks, donned their new clothes, and took happy steps onto the big yellow bus which steals them from me each year.

The younger two are still in elementary, but the biggest boy is making the leap to middle school this year.

Honestly? I am more terrified than he ever will be. Not because I think he will be bullied or will struggle with the course work. But because these little lives of theirs seem to keep marching by at an ever-increasing pace. I mean, wasn't he just born? Wasn't that like, um, 47 minutes ago?

How is he in middle school now?

It makes me angry a little bit, how fast it all goes. I feel gypped. I want some time back, to make sure I memorized her baby smell or the sound of his toddling voice cheering with glee as he knocked over YET ANOTHER tower of blocks. I want to pinch those chubby cheeks in the highchair and run my fingers through her hair after the first big-girl haircut. I want to play with that excited three- and one-year-old in the park again, only this time, I'll not sit exhausted on the bench. I'll get up and chase them. I'll hug them tight through their laughter, and tickle those round bellies with kisses when I catch them.

I'll forgo the Disney babysitter just this once and cuddle them to my chest, breathing in their sweaty sweetness, and make up story after story about princesses, dinosaurs, and firetrucks. I'll not make such a fuss when their little muddy hand prints appear on the wall. I'll bend down and look at more ladybugs in the dewey grass.

I'll hold them tight. And never let go.

Because you know what? They really don't stay like that for more than a minute. I never would have believed you if you had told me that when I was counting the minutes until they were out of diapers or putting them to bed early so I could have JUST THREE MINUTES TO MYSELF ALREADY.

Well, I've got those three minutes now. And then some.

And I think I'd happily trade them if I could.

Take care of my babies today, please.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Meltdowns, love machines, and things to look forward to

Last week, I had the mother of all meltdowns. I was overwhelmed by all that I had to get done, and was finding myself choked with panic at the lack of time to do it all in. I was exhausted and beat up. I found myself in tears on the phone with the Husband, and later that day with his mother. I had reached my breaking point and knew something had to give.

So, what did I do to deal with the crises?

I threw my hands into the air and took the week off.

I know. How very adult of me.

But I have no regrets, you see, for I played with my babies in the sunshine, soaking up the last few hot days of summer. I laid on the couch and held my (big and jointy) little girl in my arms. I watched movies. I finished a book that was started far too long ago (and LOVED it so much that I am planning to re-read it). I actually cooked dinner a few times, and did not have laundry blocking the mudroom walkway every night.

And, I won't lie to you, it felt damn good.

But I would be remiss if I didn't share with you a couple snapshots from the previous week when we got some time with these delicious people:

Sam, the undeniable Love Machine

Luke, the self-proclaimed Hurt Machine

Emme, the long-lost sister Hannah's been waiting her whole life for

Jake, the Nerf-wielding, wrestling, boxing, sword fighting pal that fit right in around here

We felt so lucky to get a few days with our cousins from the east. The girls took to each other like long-lost sisters and we only saw them emerge occasionally from Hannah's bedroom to grab snacks before they were off to swap clothes and write plays together.

The big boys bonded instantly over our vast arsenal of Nerf guns, prompting Gabi's oldest to immediately rush to Target and spend his savings on a whale-sized Nerf gun of his own. Chase and Jake spent their waking hours traipsing through the woods hunting squirrels and jumping endlessly on the trampoline. It amazed me that they never seemed to get tired.

The little twinks, well, they had each other and big cousin McKay for entertainment. I will forever think of them as the Love & Hurt Machines, and will always regret not snapping that photo of Sam and his hilarious naked typing. (there's one for the wacky google searches, eh?)

But most memorable for me were the poolside chats with Gabi and late night pontificating about all things related to life. She is one of the wisest women I've ever met and I will forever value her thoughtfully rendered opinions. She makes me laugh like nobody else I know, and she has a knack for making you feel beautiful, smart, and put together.

Which my meltdown last week clearly proved otherwise.

But it truly was a magical few days, and we were definitely wishing for more when they pulled out of the driveway to head for home. Luckily, we've conned them into Thanksgiving at Amish Country again.

(Any bets how many times the Husband pleads to go off the grid before we even get there?)

Stay tuned for a busy upcoming week: I've got photoshoots galore to show you. The new business seems to be off and running with a bang, which makes my heart so very happy. Plus, school starts on Tuesday for my babies. (As does my new career as a lady who lunches and sees a lot of movies.)

I am sad, yet I am also secretly excited.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Taking that leap of...I don't know what

One from my most recent shoot with two beautiful people in love

Well, I am doing it. I am hanging up my shingle.

Over the past year or so, I have been so busy with photoshoots, that I decided to give it a go professionally. Pete at Aspen Digital created my beautiful website, and I am now officially open for business.

For you, my best internet peeps, I send you to my new site for a sneak peek.

And when I stop chewing my fingernails, wailing on the floor in a ball of anxiety, and pulling my hair out in droves, I will come back here and tell you all about the fun I had last week with Gabi, and the fun I have in store next week for myself.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'd like some condiments for this foot in my mouth, please

This weekend, we attended the baptism of a very good friend's daughter. This dear friend had family coming from all over the country for this special event - family of hers that I was reacquainting myself with, and family that I was meeting for the first time.

So I am sitting in the chapel, waiting patiently for the event to commence. I am thoroughly enjoying myself as I make small talk with those around me.

I turn when I notice a tall, handsome man approaching the pew where I am sitting. He starts chatting with the family on the bench next to me, who I know to be relatives of my good friend.

I reach out my hand to this tall stranger and say, "Oh, you must be Stuart's Dad. It's so nice to meet you."

He smiles, chuckles and says, "Um, no. Actually I'm Craig, his brother-in-law."


I cringe and felt the oxygen sucked from the room as I realize that I have just mistaken a man in his early 40s FOR ONE IN HIS MID-70s. I reel with horror at my most ridiculous mistake yet, and immediately look to see if it would be noticeable if I crawled under the bench to hide. Better yet, I think, would be a shovel with which I could dig my own grave, and hide in my shame for all eternity.

The Husband, ever on my side, leaned over and told Craig that the only fitting rebuttal is for him to turn and ask me when my baby was due.

Touche, dear Husband, touche.

The very youthful victim of my verbal faux pas

Honestly. How did I mistake him for a man in his 70s? I don't know what I was thinking at the time those awful, irretrievable words came flying out. I have no excuse but my own stupidity.

Fortunately for me, Craig has a sense of humor. Throughout the rest of the day's festivities, he joked and laughed about his old and infirm state. He even smiled and posed the next day while I took some pictures of his darling - AND VERY YOUNG - family.

I think from here on out, I will keep my big yap shut.

These feet of mine don't taste as good as they used to.