Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Flowers on a Cold Winter's Day::January 30

It is amazing how different the same picture can look with warm colors vs cool colors and with the intensity of light changed by just a hair.

Which is your favorite?

Amber and Tino (Tino's idea :) ) gave me a bouquet of flowers for my birthday. They have been beautiful to look at, and now I am having fun photographing them. :)

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

4/52::January 29

I don't know where this month went! I blinked and it is nearly over.

Here is the last photo of Michael for this month.

He loves lights and batteries and flashing stuff, so this pumpkin is one of his favorite things!

If you haven't signed up for a 4x6 over at yesterday's give away, you better do it soon! There are 2 more spots available.

Have a wonderful day today, and give January one more big hug, because it is nearly gone.

Monday, January 28, 2013

1000 Posts!! & a Give Away::January 28

It happened! This blog has over 1000 posts! So... we need to have a give away!!

I will give away a 2013 Animal Calendar to the first person to comment, and a 4x6 pic of my photos (your choice) for the next 5 after that.

Get ready. Get set. Go!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

getting ready for the baby shower::January 27

We took some baby belly shots last night in preparation for the baby shower invitations. Aren't they cute?!

The new little one will be here in less than 2 months. CrAzY how fast time flies!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Cake and Pictures::January 26

"Smile for the camera" So of course I had to give a goofy smile :)

And yes, half of my cake was already eaten. It was cut earlier in the day because I'd made Amber have a piece of cake with me before she left in the afternoon.... and my boys thought it was ok if they had some too. Ah well, I had enough cake to hold some candles for me to blow out, so it worked out just fine :)

Today, Steve & I went to dinner at Cracker Barrel and then went and watch "Jack Reacher" in my favorite movie theater - Amber and Tino really spoiled me with the gift cards for both. ♥

Tomorrow I will be at home, so I can eat lots of chocolate kisses that Aiden and Karen gave me, and I get to wear the watch and/or bracelet that they gave me. ♥

I got many calls singing "Happy Birthday" and wishing me a Happy Birthday and wonderful year. ♥

And I rediscovered the excitement of getting a letter/card in the mail. ♥

And I loved reading all of the birthday wishes left for me on facebook. ♥

Birthdays are wonderful days to sit and soak up love. ♥

Friday, January 25, 2013

The 26th on Guam::January 25

Picture from Sterling

See the clock over on my sidebar? It's set for Guam's time. That is because that is where I was born, and I'm counting down until my official birth time: 8:46 am. :)

Time certainly gets tricky when you're born half-way around the world!

As a kid, I always celebrated on the 26th because that is my official birthday. Then, when my brother lived on Guam a few years ago, and I was trying to figure out the time difference for calling him, I realized the enormous time difference between Utah and Guam, so I started calculating.... What I discovered is that by the time I got around to celebrating my birthday on Utah's 26th, my birthday was technically over. That is when I started celebrating the actual time I was born.

When I talked to my mom about it a few years ago, she told me that she wanted me to have my very own birthday because her sister had been born on the 25th. She wanted my day to be my very own, without sharing. (Happy Birthday, Gwenie!♥)

I also love celebrating on the 25th because it is when my little boy was born back in 1999. He came 15 weeks premature and just wasn't ready to be born. He died 3 days later on the 28th. I love feeling the connection wtih him. (Happy 14th Birthday, Ammon!♥)

Anyway, so at 8:46 am on the 26th in Guam is when I officially turn 43, so I watch the clock for that magical moment :)

Here's hoping 43 is wonderful!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Photos for Tonight's Competion::January 24

This eveing, there is a photo competition with the photo club I'm part of. I have been sick for the past week, and I'm not sure I'm going to make it, but I sent in my pics anyway. Here's hopin'!

I thought you might like to see the pics I entered.

Okay, so there are four categories: Authentic Assigned, Authentic Open, Altered Assigned, and Altered Open - Authentic is for pictures with minimal changes, just touch-ups really. Altered is anything else. We are allowed to send in two pics for each category. The assigned theme for the month is: Fresh.

So for Authentic Assigned, I chose "One Spring Day" and "Freshly Fallen Snow":

For Authentic Open, "A Girl and Her Cat" and "Snowy Cat"

This is my first time for entering the Altered category. I was nervous at how to do this, because many of the pictures I saw from last competition had drastic things done to their photos, like adding another sun or moon. I didn't want to do that, so I played around with different techniques in Photoshop and Gimp, and this is what I came up with - you can see the effects better if you enlarge these (just click on the pic):

For Altered Assigned, here is "After the Snowstorm" and "Freshly Chopped Pixel Salad":

And for Altered Open, here is "Doing What it Takes to Get a Candy Cane" and "Mother and Child"

Not nearly as drastic as adding things to the picture, but I'm hoping it works ok. For "Mother and Child" and "After the Snowstorm", I turned them into oil painings. "Doing What it Takes to Get a Candy Cane" was playing with sharpening masks and turning the sharpening up high; it reminded me of a Norman Rockwell picture. And the "Freshly Chopped Pixel Salad" is an action that I found with Gimp; it literally chops up pieces of the pic and puts it back together, pretty cool!

We interrupt this feel good post with local weather:

I just heard of freezing rain here in Utah... what the heck?! We don't have that here! So my mind is on high alert and I'm trying to decide if the worst is over, or if I better make a mad dash to the story for ready to eat food. Not to mention that I'm panicking that my kids are at school 15 miles away and Steve is at work 30 miles away. What to do, what to do....

Here are some pics of this morning's commute: News Photo Viewer

After that news, I will probably *not* be driving 50 miles away for a photo contest. They can send me the results via email.

I'll let you know how my pics do and how the weather turns out next time. Until then, stay warm, dry, and safe please! xoxo

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

3/52::January 23

He is feeling much better :)

In this picture, Michael made a hoop out of a matchbox car track and threw it back and forth with Jared.

It is so nice to see my boy happy and smiling :)

I hope that you are having a wonderful day!

Monday, January 21, 2013

2/52::January 21

A portrait of Michael, once a week, every week, in 2013.

I missed a picture last week because Michael became sick with the flu. Tonight I decided that I shouldn't wait any longer for him to get well before I photographed him.

He is sleeping with his daddy in the rocking chair. These days he can sleep wherever he lays his head. I am hoping that my poor little one will feel much better later on in the week, and I'll take another quick pic of a perkier boy.

(Just a note: This picture was taken with an external flash - a technique that I am hoping to master throughout the year.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A bit of rambling::January 20

For years, I felt like what I did wasn't important. After all, when Steve worked from home and all I was doing was raising children and homeschooling, people would call and leave messages for Steve with me because they knew he was busy, and they didn't want to disturb him.....

For years, I have labeled myself as a Facilitator. I make things happen, get people where they need to be, and make life as easy for them as I can. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that goes on to make things run efficiently.

Lately, especially since I became a member of facebook, I realize that I am also a cheerleader. I enjoy "liking" people's things, and if I can think of something witty or of worth, I might even comment. "Liking" things is important to me. I like to see who "liked" my stuff; it makes me feel loved when people go out of their way to click that little button for me, so I make sure and do it for others. In real life, I go out of my way to give the gift of a smile, a warm comment, or just holding the door open for someone at the store. It doesn't have to be a big thing to just acknowledge someone else's existence and try to let them know that someone has seen them; hopefully, I am making the world a better place one smile and one comment at a time.

In my lifetime, I have also been concerned about being a good example. I haven't ever wanted to trip anyone else up in my life's journey.

Perhaps I may be called a bridge builder; that is an important title.

The Bridge Builder
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

I remember being a senior in high school, and one of my younger friends, a freshman or sophomore, wrote that she had been watching my example throughout year. It didn't make me feel warm fuzzy, it made me panic. I knew that I had made some bad choices that year, and I certainly hope she hadn't seen those if she was looking to me as an example!!

Years later, when I was a single mom after going through a divorce, there was a teenager who lived across the street from me. I had babysat him when he was a boy, and now he mowed my lawn, and I was friends with him and his mom. There came a day when I was very sick with a stomach flu. I was dating Steve at the time and ask him if he could come to my house after work that night and take care of the kids for me. He did. He made them dinner, and then sang them to sleep, just like we both usually did every night. He also sang me to sleep that night, and he fell asleep in the kids' room.

I woke up about 2 o'clock in the morning and realized that he was asleep at my house. I was still so sick that I didn't want to get out of bed, but I thought of Sam. I didn't want him to think that Steve and I slept together before we were married, because we didn't, and because I didn't want to set that kind of an example for him. I knew that if he saw Steve's car parked outside of my house, that is exactly what he would think. So, I got out of bed and felt like a human pinball as I bounced off the walls all they way to the kids' room. I woke Steve up and told him thank you for taking care of the kids, but that he needed to go home. He told me that he could just sleep on the floor of the kids' room in case they woke up in the middle of the night and that I could just explain to Sam the next day. But, I knew that kids believe what they see a lot more than what they're told, so I insisted that he go.

Years later, now in fact, I still worry about what kind of an example I set. You see, I am a bridge builder, not a bridge burner.

And I think that "like"ing things is important. It lets people know that you see them and like the way they think, and who doesn't need that confirmation?

And I facilitate. I help make life easier for people, and who can't use that?

I've noticed that my daughter Amber has taken to being a facilitator now that she is a wife, and she is a "like"er too, only since she doesn't have the internet, she is a real life liker & encourages those around her. I'm proud of her for being how she is, because there really isn't glory in it, and it is difficult to look past the nose on your own face sometimes, but she still does it. Probably because she saw the examples of people who've gone before. And now she is the example.

And so life goes. On and on. Never stopping or taking pause. And our part is to do our best as we go on too, even if it seems that other's don't really see the important things we do behind the scenes, they are noticed and set the example for the next generation.

Enjoy your Sunday today, whether it is your Holyday or your Holiday, it is an important day of the week.

Friday, January 18, 2013

This Moment::Snowflake on an Icicle::January 18

{this moment}(Inspired by SouleMama) - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

About Art - and my 2013 calendar::Wednesday, January 16

A friend of mine made this comment on my Merrie Melody Photography facebook page yesterday:

Until I made it to college, I didn't appreciate there is an ongoing, centuries old debate about the definition of beauty and art. Students of the humanities get an especially potent dose of this debate, and to most people, it probably seems like so much nonsense. In the end, it's all very personal, but the artist is left trying to balance answering the call to express him or herself with creating art that appeals to and connects with others.

The spontaneous, tender moment and unique perspective you've captured here appeals to me, as do many of your pictures, and I can't wait for your art to find a wider, appreciative audience, something I presume you desire.

in regard to this picture:

It really set the wheels of my brain spinning, thinking about Art and what makes Art.

(As a side note: A few years ago when Steve & I were in Park City, Utah, there was a painting of a nude woman in one of the shops. I was bugged, and he and I talked about what makes a picture simply nude art as compared to pornography. I later discussed this with a female friend, and we decided that if the person in the painting looks better than us it is porn; if we look better than them, it is art. ;)

This is how I responded to my friend's comment:

Everyone has such a unique perspective and life experience for reference that it can be tricky to find a photo that a wide variety of people can relate to and like. The artist himself/herself has to connect with the scene to be shot in the first place. In fact, many times my family will want me to shoot this or that scene, but I tell them that they'll have to take the picture themselves because I'm not connecting to it.

I have come to the conclusion that the artist has to be true to himself/herself and the viewer will either love the picture or not; the artist cannot please everyone with every shot.

I remember one picture that I offered as my assignment in a photography class; I thought was amazing, yet it wasn't voted as a favorite. I had a hard time understanding why, because the composition was correct, the lighting was good, and the subject matter poignant. This was this picture:

I talked to the teacher about it after class, and he praised it as being very good and photo journalistic in style, much like those that show up in "National Geographic". He said that it wasn't voted as a favorite because it made people sad, and since people don't like to be sad, they avoid that feeling even in art. I linked to an article about that very topic this morning:

Art *is* totally subjective. What really speaks to me another may see as ordinary.

I hadn't even paid attention to this picture the first time I looked through the pics on the SD card. It was only today, when I saw it with fresh eyes that I saw the beauty in it. I love this picture, not only because it is of my daughter Emily, but because it could be of any cat lover. I love the unadulterated joy and love that she seems to be feeling at that very moment, and I love how the cat is reciprocating it right back to her. It is a magical moment.

It has been said that artists have a style about their work that is as unique as a fingerprint. This tells me that we need to just be ourselves - show what is beautiful and interesting to us, and others will be drawn to our work because of those qualities. It is difficult to be original; I believe that our humanness wants us to offer only what other's will like, so in the beginning we attempt to mimic someone that we admire. As we practice and become more sure of ourselves, we become uniquely ourselves and create our own artistic fingerprint. It is an amazing process.

The picture of Emily with the cat I found as I was going through folders of my animal pics because I'm getting ready to publish a 2013 calendar. It is a calendar solely of animals: cats, dogs, chickens, baby goats, ducks, and a bunny rabbit.

This is the back cover, showing all 12 pictures - one for every month, though not in this particular order:

After I get it back from the printer and make sure it is exactly how I want it, I will offer one here as a give away, so be watching for it :) I will also offer it in my etsy shop, over at

Have a wonderful day just being yourself!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Self-Portait::January 14

While I was taking pictures of the motel last week, I took one of myself. I was so focused on taking the pic that I forgot to smile :)

As a side note: I have had this shirt for years, and my love for it has waxed and waned. This year, it is my favorite. So festive and happy! Just what I need :)

Have a wonderful day, and don't forget to smile! ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Snowy Kitty::Sunday, January 13

I went out and took pictures this evening; the light was just too good to pass up! Blue sky and sunshine, oh how I have missed you!!

Everywhere I went, our cat Smokey followed behind me in my footsteps. I tried several times to capture him as he looked up at me and meowed, but he looked away whenever the camera came up.

As I looked through the pictures I took of him, this one wowed me:

What a pretty cat he is!

I hope that you have had a wonderful weekend & I wish you all the best for the coming week.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Playing Angry Birds with Pops::January 12

Aiden LOVES playing Angry Birds. More than doing anything else, really.

So Steve sat him on his lap along with the laptop and played Angry Birds while Aiden instructed him where to go and what to do.

"There's 2 more birds left, Pops!"

Then he wanted to do it himself. (He is really good at it too!)

Meg felt left out; she needed some attention too :)

There is nothing more desirable than a man who is kind and gentle with children. It is one of the things that made me love Steve back when we were dating - Josh was 4 years old back then, Amber was nearly 3 and Jared was 1 1/2. I remember being up in the mountains with all of them; Steve was carrying Jared, and Josh darted over to the river to throw rocks in. Steve followed right behind and held on to his belt loop so that he wouldn't fall in. My heart gave a leap, not just in fear for Josh, but in admiration and love for this man who had just barely met my children, yet was taking such good care of them. He wasn't just trying to impress me either, as I have found out through the years, it is just his natural way of being. Fortunately he has distilled those same characteristics to our boys. I am a lucky woman indeed! (And my heart still leaps with love and desire for him ♥)

Friday, January 11, 2013

This Moment::Michael 1/52::January 11

{this moment - inspired by SouleMama} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our Weekend::January 8

Over this past weekend, Steve & I went away. We stayed in a motel room and everything! A rare occurrence, indeed!

We received a bonus on Christmas Eve from Steve's work. So, after being practical and paying some debt off, and since there was a little money left over, and since Steve rarely gets to have fun with the money he makes, we decided to spend some on an early birthday present for Steve & me and a Christmas present for him.

We told the kids, and they received the news less than cheerfully. I was nervous about leaving them, especially in leaving Michael, but we had several talks and when it all came down to it, I was no more ready to leave on Saturday morning as I had the week before.... but we did, and everything turned out excellently!

Amber called and checked on the kids all weekend. She even prepared dinner and a treat for the kids and asked Josh and Karen to bring it to them when they picked up Aiden on Saturday night. Everyone pitched in and had a good attitude and did what they were supposed to do. Steve & I didn't even get any phone calls!

When we were preparing for the weekend, I was talking to Steve about which room he wanted. He opted for the one with the jetted tub. After seeing our room and knowing that it was less than $20 more than the cheapest room, we wondered why we haven't upgraded sooner!

Here is the room:

It had a sitting room/kitchenette when you first walk in, and solid French doors separated that room from the bedroom.

The bedroom was large and spacious and seriously had the most comfortable bed I've ever slept on! The comforter was a duvet; it was light and full and oh so warm.

One of the best parts? We turned up the heat to 75*. We'd never do that at home, because we don't want a super huge heating bill! But it was WONDERFUL! Especially after staying slightly chilly for the past week of sub 0* weather the week before.

Before we checked into the motel on Saturday, we went to a matinee showing of _The Hobbit_ and ate an early dinner at Cracker Barrel.

The rest of the evening we hung out in the room, soaking in the tub and enjoying each other's company. (did you see that tub?! It was HUGE! It was probably 4'x5'. So nice!)

The motel that we stayed at offers a full breakfast.

Bacon, eggs, yogurt, cereal, waffles, fruit, juice, mini danishes and poppy seed muffins.... so yummy, so filling, so wonderful!

We woke up in time to go down for breakfast before it ended at 10, but I think morning came much too early for Steve.

Steve labeled this picture: "This *is* my happy face!" LOL

After check out, we took the long way home. We drove up the canyon and admired the winter wonderland. Afterward, we drove around the lake.

As we were driving, we saw three enormous birds in a tree. As we got closer, we saw that at least one was a bald eagle. I think the other 2 were just hawks.

We tried to get a picture, but it was on a farmer's land behind a fence; we got as close as we could:

I actually think it might be the same eagle that we saw a few years ago:

How I wish that I would have had a telephoto lens to capture a close up! Ah well.

I also took pictures of the view that I love most :)

As we drove around the lake, I was surprised to see that the ice was thick enough for cattle to walk on! A herd of 5 or 6 were walking around on the ice. I was amazed! There were several inches of snow on the ice too; it had obviously been around a while in these sub 0* temperatures lately.

It was sunset as we arrived at the lake, and the scenery was gorgeous:

As I was photographing the sunset, Steve was too, but he was also photographing me:

He posted those pics on facebook and added the caption: "Beautiful!!! (the scenery is nice too)" It made me feel very loved and happy :)

It all ended with a shoot out:

Then we finished driving around the lake, watching the sun as it finally set on the horizon, and drove on home.

The kids were happy to see us and we were happy to see them.

And they told us that it had been a nice break for them too. :)

Bill said that he had expected some arguing and problems while we were gone. He was happily surprised that everyone got along and did what they should all weekend. He said it was a very quiet weekend.

I am so glad that we ended up going. I was nervous. The kids were nervous. Steve was nervous. Bill was nervous. But it ended up being perfect. It was the best birthday present ever!

And this guy that I'm married to never ceases to amaze me. We've been married for 17 years, and yet he still treats me like his girlfriend. He is sweet and thoughtful and says the nicest things.

Yes, we argue. Not a lot, but some. And I have quite a temper; I've gotten angry. Plenty angry. And so has he.

And life? It is not perfect. In fact, that was one reason for the weekend. After looking out at what we know 2013 has in store, we knew we needed to gear up for it.

But I can honestly say that he is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is the yin to my yang. He is just similar enough to hold the same basic beliefs, and yet he is just different enough to give balance to our life. He is exactly what I need. And what I want. I am very thankful to have him in my life.

I hope that you enjoyed taking a photo journey with us. And that I didn't wax so romantic that you threw up in your mouth. Not even a little. ;)

See ya later alligator!