Monday, November 30, 2009


Why, hello there, little blog. Miss me?

I am just unpacking, laundering, and detoxing from four days spent off the grid with our cousins from the east in Amish Country, Ohio. While having no cell or internet service whatsoever was a wee bit inconvenient at times, this was my view first thing every morning:

We stayed once again in these charming little cottages smack dab in the middle of a working Amish farm. Our kids spent approximately 18 hours outside every single day and got so dirty it made my mama heart warm. They hiked through fields. They shot bows and arrows. They ran hard. They slept hard. We sat with our husbands around a table and laughed until our sides split.

It was a little taste of heaven.

The farm also allowed our kids to indulge their inner pet ownership fantasies, as the two farm dogs kind of adopted them. One of the dogs is missing a leg, and we respectfully dubbed him Tripod (though his real name was Tango). We suspect he lost the leg while trying to win a race with an Amish horse buggy. He tends to be a little reckless, this one.

Tripod's companion on the farm is a small four-legged dog that our kids called Little Dog (creative naming geniuses at work, clearly). Little Dog sometimes lifts that fourth leg up and runs on only three legs. We think he does it so Tripod won't feel left out. You know, with his disability and all.

Everybody needs a friend like that.

Tripod also has no clue that he is a land-dwelling mammal. He was always frantically scrambling to keep up with the kids on the paddle boats. Pretty good swimmer, too, considering he's minus a limb.

The gratuitous turkey dinner was fed to us by the locals at the one and only restaurant in town. Gabi and I thoroughly enjoyed not having to lift a finger to cook it, and took devilish delight in walking away without washing a single dish.

It makes me wonder why I ever spend the holiday cooking for days at a time.

Plus, it was sinfully delicious and sent us all into that magical tryptophan coma.

Mmmm, tryptophan coma.

On our way home, we stopped in to see some very good friends, and felt sad leaving, as there just wasn't enough time spent with them. It was like we had been together yesterday, instead of four years ago. It was so easy to pick up right where we left off. We drooled over their fabulous home, gorgeous boys, and shared a meal like old times. Remind me sometime to tell you my favorite story of our friend, Chris. He's a good man, that one. He and Emily are the best.

A lot of hours on the road later, and we are home safe and sound. There is mud in every crevice of my children's jeans, a pile of mail to go through, and a million calls and emails to return. But I find my heart is full from the love of it all - good friends, family, simplicity, and time.

I feel so blessed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The double standard

The other day, I was perusing a Victoria's Secret catalog that had come in the mail. The Husband innocently strolled up behind me and caught a glance of the half-nekkid beauties in their skivvies. His eyebrows naturally went up in interest, and I immediately slammed the magazine shut and chastised him for being a man.

It was all in good fun, you see, and he smiled, laughed, and pointed out the fact that I employ a double standard.

Exsqueeze me?

He's right, you see. For the last post recorded on this blog featured a half-nekkid photo of a very attractive, but underage nonetheless, 17-year-old boy. The words written by me were in praise of the boy's glorious nekkidness, and I mooned and swooned verbally for several paragraphs.


Imagine, if you will, that the tables were turned. If the Husband had a blog (bwaahhh! Sorry, the very idea of that makes me laugh) and he wrote a post discussing several hot, young, underage girls. And let's just say he even put up a picture of one of them in a skimpy bikini. What would be the consequences for him then?

Well, we all know what the consequences would be.

I'd be LIVID. He'd be in so much trouble that I'd be getting flowers and diamonds every week for the next five years. It would be completely unacceptable for a grown man to write about a 17-year-old girl in that way. Is it any less so for a grown woman?

The funny thing is - he has no problem with my mooning over the hot young thang. He encourages it! He figures (rightly) that me getting excited about physicality will ultimately benefit him in some way. And the Twilight books? The female equivalent of literary porn. Totally made me want my husband when I read them, ifyouknowwhatimean. But would I allow him to peruse literature that provides the same reaction for him?

Not in a million years.

All this prompted a very interesting discussion and I feel compelled to put this question to you, dear readers. Why the double standard? Why do men not mind when we read things, watch movies, or fawn over half-nekkid young men? Why are we unable to reciprocate the same privileges to our husbands? Are we wrong? Should they be more outraged? Should we be less insecure?


Friday, November 20, 2009

Switching teams briefly because I must

While I take great delight in imagining my brother Dan rolling his eyes over this post, I cringe slightly in dedicating yet another post to what I feel is a slightly embarrassing fatal flaw on my part:

My love for the Twilight books.

Most of you know that already, but there is still a part of my grown up psyche that feels it beneath me to admit that. I wanted to hate them. I wanted to not be able to get partway through the first one before tearing apart and mocking the so-called bestseller.

But I couldn't.

The Edward that was created in my mind became the perfect storm of men. Part Heathcliff, part Darcy, part billionaire, and all solid, chiseled abs. Delish.

(Sadly, the movie Edward doesn't remotely come close.)

But since I just saw the movie this morning (no, not at midnight. I AM a respectable thirty-something cougar, you know), I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you here. (Bye Dan. Lost you at the word Twilight, didn't I?)

Here goes:

  1. Their version of Edward makes my skin crawl. He needs to have those eyebrows waxed. He's more pasty white than most albinos. He's way, way too skinny. It's all I can do to not want to feed him a sandwich and make him take a shower. Why couldn't they tone him up like they did Jacob? He's supposed to be all muscles and money. Plus? Any man that wears more lipstick than me is not a man I want to fantasize about kissing. Yuck.

  2. The movie Bella is so twitchy, it's distracting. I honestly can't tell if she's having a seizure or if she's got Tourette's. It's seriously all I can think about when I watch her.

  3. Aren't the vampires supposed to be attractive? Isn't that part of their charm to lure in the unsuspecting prey? I think they forgot that when casting all these actors and applying enough cake-white face paint to rival the circus clowns. Every single one of them (with Alice and Emmett being the exceptions) look hideous to me. Honestly, did they even read these books before casting parts? Or are the people possibly attractive, but we can't see that because they're covered in so much flour make-up?

  4. Um, that Charlie IS hot stuff. Though I'd definitely make him shave the 'stache before we got to know one another, ifyouknowwhatimean.

  5. And last, but not least, I am declaring myself Team Jacob for the movie version of Twilight.

*Head hanging in shame*

I'm very sad to say that. I was so devoted to Edward throughout the books. I swore that if she put Bella and Jacob together, I would burn all my copies and never speak of them again. But Jacob is DARLING in this movie. He's warm, inviting, gentle, and sweet. Plus, hello? Look at this:

And how very lucky for us that he just so happens to remain shirtless throughout most of the show. It's worth having to gag over Edward for that eye candy alone.


There. That is all. Discuss.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ah, the sense of humor someone has

So, you know how yesterday I posted about how awesome I am and how great my life is?

It's still all of those things. I'm just going to say it more quietly from here on out.

Life thought it would be funny and force me off that high horse today. It decided to send me two MORE sick kids, a husband whose business trip is extended by another few days, rain, a really bad hair day, a sleepless night, and an error of massive proportions on my part involving some clients' pictures and holiday cards.

All right. I get it. I'm not awesome and my life is not perfect.

Happy now, stupid universe?

Don't worry, though. I still think I'm awesome.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today, I am thirty-six.

Lots of people asked me today how I felt about turning over yet another year. And do you know what I said?

I feel so damn good.

For sure, my thirties are a lot more fun than my twenties. In my thirties, I no longer have to change diapers. Most nights I get a full eight hours of sleep. I feel more confident - like I am finally at home in my own skin. My wrinkles are not yet prominent enough to be requiring the botox. And I am slightly less concerned with how large my rear end is than I was in my twenties.

Only slightly.

But still. That's something, right?

Plus, I am actually getting paid to do something I love to do, on my own terms. I spend approximately seven hours every day all by myself. I have three beautiful kids who I can't wait to see at the end of those seven hours. I have a husband who, though out of town today, made sure to send two of my favorite birthday things: Cash and flowers.

I have friends who went above and beyond to make me feel loved and adored today. Friends that are like family. I have actual family who called and texted the birthday love. I have the Book of Face (which happily announces your birthday for you), thereby leading many old and new friends to wish me a happy day.

So as I sit here tonight, proofing pictures from a fabulously rich weekend in Philly, my new favorite soundtrack (Glee) is playing softly in the background, and I can't help but notice it --

I am just so blessed.

Can't wait to see what thirty-six has in store for me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stayin' Alive (but barely)

I have so much to tell you. Where do I begin?

I would like to, first and foremost, complain about whatever hurricane decided to work its way up the eastern seaboard this weekend. Um, hello? Did it not get the memo that I was coming to town and had requested sunshine and blue skies for the photographing?

Apparently it did not.

Which is precisely why the rain and I can no longer remain friends. We had a tepid love affair to begin with, but I have cited irreconcilable differences and vow never to be in the general vicinity of the rain again. Stupid, stupid rain.

I also would like to tell (and show you) all the beautiful people I got to take pictures of this weekend. But I cannot do that just yet. Hours and hours of proofing and edit work will have to happen first. Trust me on this one, though, it's going to be good. Philly is home, not only to the delicious cheese steak sandwich, but to some very beautiful people, as well. And I was lucky enough to be wielding a camera around some of them.

One thing I probably won't be telling you about is a little incident that occurred on the Turnpike when a certain Bee Gees song came on the radio, and oh yes, I did.

I got jiggy with it.

Very, very jiggy.

And to the little old couple driving innocently on a Sunday morning, mucho apologies, for the spectacle you had to witness. But, honestly, can anyone sit still when Stayin' Alive comes on in the car? Ah ah ah ah, stayin' alive, stayin' alive. Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother...

There I go again. Sorry.

Lastly, I will take this opportunity to curse the universe once again for timing my return home with Chase coming down with the swine flu. I don't know what it is, but EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I decide to get on a plane and go somewhere by myself, I come home to a sick child. Why? WHY? Further proof of the universe hating me can be found here, here, and here.

Well, as they say, there's no place like home.

[And there's also no place in this home to fit the mounds of laundry waiting for me either. Stupid, stupid laundry.]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Philly photo phun, here I come!

Well, internets, it is adios from me for a few days. Headed out of town for a spontaneous little weekend in Philly. I get to see her and her, and FINALLY meet her and her. I am giddy with excitement.[ I am also practically paralyzed with fear as I have 11 photo shoots lined up for the weekend.]

Nothing like a little pressure, eh?

But I am looking forward to the trip. Especially the part where I sit on a plane all by myself and read a book for several hours. Bliss.

But before I go, I wanted to leave you with some of my favorite shots of the Great Family B. One of my favorite families anyway, but I am even more in love with them after getting to see them through the lens of my camera. They are some beautiful people, no? And nice? When you look up nice in in the dictionary - you would see this whole family there. Not an exaggeration either. Ask anyone who knows them.

This pic just might be my favorite of the whole batch - love the moment between a daddy and his sweet girl. Love the colors. It was a somewhat accidental picture - we had wrapped up the shoot and were getting ready to leave the park when I turned and saw this. And how, HOW, could I let one like this get away?

Wish every shot was this easy to take.

Have a good weekend, peeps. Don't have too much fun without me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The sun'll come out tomorrow...

During the month of October, I think the sun forgot about us good people of Missouri. It rained and rained. And then when it was done raining, it rained some more. At one point, I turned to the Husband and asked him if he had moved us back to the East Coast without telling me.

The rain? It was bad. And I honestly don't think I could have taken much more of it.

So last week when the sun finally poked her lovely yellow face out, and we got temperatures in the glorious high-70s for days at a time, I remembered why I like it here. And one quiet morning, as I walked through my house, it seemed to me as though the sun was spilling in through each and every window - coming in on all sides of the house. The laws of physics make this an impossible task, I know, but photographic proof tells otherwise.

Because sunshine? Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

[And sunshine on my dirty floors even makes me happy.]

Sigh. Too bad the sun is elsewhere today. What I wouldn't give to sit in my living room, the sun warming my toes through the window, while I plow my way through a good novel.

Tell me, dear readers, is it sunny there today? And if so, got room on your couch for one more?

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Alibi

We interrupt the smorgasbord of photos this week to bring you up to speed on a crime that has occurred in the Casa de Stie.

You see, there was one last slice of red velvet cake (delicious recipe courtesy of the Pioneer Woman Cookbook) left sitting on my kitchen counter.

I was not tempted to eat it because I was swamped this morning.

I was out. Yeah, that's it.

It's been so busy around here - what with me running five half-marathons to raise money for the American Cafeteria Worker's Association.

As you can see, someone snuck into our house and nibbled a corner off the top, right by the delicious chocolate bits.

I didn't see a thing. I was teaching a seminar at Harvard on the importance of flossing.

And then, just when we thought they were done, it happened again.

While I was out last night helping to deliver my friend Maren's new (and very unexpected) baby, suddenly, and without warning, the criminal came back to even out the missing bite in a vain attempt to hide their crime.


Taking an even bolder step, our shameless perpetrator returns ONCE AGAIN to the scene of the crime and steals a little bit more, not bothering at all this time to disguise the thievery. If only I could provide you a description so a sketch could be made and a nationwide search undertaken.

But I was busy giving singing lessons to Zach Effron. He really needed someone with vocal talents like mine to help his weak and untrained voice take song.

Alas! Today when I got home from building the new children's hospital all by myself, I noticed that the remaining lovely chocolate bits were gone. The delicious cream cheese frosting-covered cake is but a remnant of her former red velvety self. WHAT TO DO? Will this madness ever stop?

Ladies and gentlemen, I fear for the safety of food in my kitchen. For as I was working on a cure for cancer in Tanzania, we were robbed again. Who is this horrible person? Plowing through our lives and leaving a ragged wake of gluttony behind?


I am afraid there is no hope left at this point. All is lost. What would have been a delicious after-dinner treat is now nothing but a lone bite on a platter. But who, WHO would do such a thing? I only wish I'd been here to see something. But I was at the local animal shelter, helping to pioneer a new surgery for dogs that will allow them to learn how to read. It's going to be quite groundbreaking, you know.


Oh dear. It's all over now. If only I hadn't decided to donate my kidney this morning to Severus Snape. And if only I hadn't been asked at the last minute to perform BOTH operations while juggling for the Ringling Brothers circus, I might have been here to stop the devilish mastermind from stealing the last bite.


Wait. What's that, you say? I have something red in my teeth?

Oh, well, it's probably just that, uh, I ate earlier. Yeah, that's it. An apple. It was delicious, too. I got it from the President in recognition for my great work with the new program I developed to help homeless veterans become zoo workers across America.

I love my charity work. It's so rewarding. Helps comfort me in these difficult times.

[Note to self: They're on to you. Best be baking up another one to throw them off the case.]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Photo Shoot Week - day three

Thrown in the midst of all these family shoots recently was a very fun senior portrait session. Meet Dani. Five-foot-ten, long legs, flawless skin, and hair like you see in the movies.

I mean, hello? Does she even know how high school was for girls like me? With my bad perms, baby-blue eyeshadow, and pegged jeans?

Luckily for her, she does not.

And after getting to know her a little better on the shoot, I've come to see that she absolutely deserves to be this beautiful because she is just. so. nice.

Thanks, Dani. Here's hoping that before I turn 40, I can look half as good as you look at 17.

(Not bloody likely, I'm afraid)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Photo Shoot Week - day two

Meet family S. While I love and adore their whole family, their sweet little girl has a special place in my heart. She's one of my little nursery friends, and she reminds me so much of Hannah when she was that age. It's like getting a second chance to play with your little one all over again. LOVE her. Love them.

We had the misfortune to time this shoot on one of the 28 stinking days of rain we had in the month of October. Needing to press forward and get it done anyway, we hid out under trees and awnings, and managed to get a few shots in spite of that.

I painted the sky blue in this particular shot because I was so annoyed with the rain. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have known that if I hadn't just told you. What say you, internets? Do you like the fake blue sky?

If only I could do that every day.

Are they not so darling together? I love shooting couples. It makes me so happy.

They really are a gorgeous family, no? And here I thought Michelle knew all the pretty people. I think these lovely Missourians are giving her peeps a run for their money.

Thanks, guys. LOVED this shoot (but hated the rain). Your family is so beautiful, so happy. That just rubbed off on me and brightened my whole day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Photo Shoot Week

Hello, Monday. Is it you already?

There are lots of things I could share with you today. But I really don't feel like talking about Halloween and all the candy I've eaten over the last four days (neither do my thighs). I mean, seriously, there are candy bars in the store year-round. Why must I eat my weight in them every year between October 28th and November 1st? WHY?

I also don't want to remind myself of the 1.6 billion leaves currently blanketing my backyard. I am trying very hard to ignore them. I'm putting my fingers in my ears and singing LA LA LA LA whenever I walk by, hoping the leaves will magically disappear. Yes, have you met me? I live in Denial. It's lovely here.

And I am most certainly not going to talk about my new favorite obsession: The Pioneer Woman Cookbook. I've only had it a few days and I have already made several things from it which were richly laden with butter and sugar. Again, the thighs are begging for my silence. (But they will permit me to tell you that you really ought to buy the book. It's absolutely fantastic.)

One thing I do want to talk about is the plethora of photo shoots I have had the last few weeks. I have so many fun pictures to share with you. So many, in fact, that I am dubbing this week "Photo Shoot with Stie Week" and am going to show you nothing but the beautiful people I've been hanging around with.

Sadly, I don't get any cuter by association. It's not true what they say - beauty won't rub off on others. Crap.

Anyway, here is family K. One of my all-time favorite families EVER. Not only is this lady an entrepreneur, but she's classy, beautiful, and is a lot of fun on a road trip.

Plus, her husband? The master of all things You Tube. If it's funny and on the web, this guy can find it for you.

Here is the beautiful Bec and her daughter Chantalle (though I call her Chantanna Montana because of her super star-like posing abilities. She kind of liked that.)

Balancing out the girls in this family are these handsome devils.

Thanks, guys for letting me shoot your gorgeous family. It was so much fun.