Thursday, December 31, 2009

aaaaand she's back!

Hi blog friends!

Happy New Year!!

After quite a break that I didn't really mean to take,
I'm ready to revive my blog.

Facebook can kill a blog,
don't ya think?

I post my status and let my friends know
what I'm doing and thinking,
so coming here to elaborate on that
sometimes takes a back seat.

Truth is, I've really missed blogging
so I'm pushing it back up to the
front of my priority list
right behind feeding my family
and playing bejewled blitz,
oh and harvesting my crops on farmville!

2010 brings with it the huge challenge
of my sailor being away from home
for extended periods of time
and you know what that means.

The adolescent sharks will be circling
and mama is on her own!
Melt downs will be inevitable for everyone
and I can't really be held responsible
for the amount of chocolate consumed.
As we face what is sure to be our hardest year and a half yet,
this blog is going to be where I turn to vent,
share, laugh, cry, scream and reminisce.

I'm going to need it and I'm going to need you.

I'm calling 2010 "Operation Lone Ship"
and through my posts you will get a glimpse
at my life....for real.

The good, the bad and the ugly.
By the end of it, you will either love me, hate me,
be surprised, be shocked, be comforted,
find me totally relatable
or totally certifiable,
campaign to have me committed
or commit to walk with me through this.
Either way, I promise I will never lie to you
or candy coat my raw emotions
because I know that someone somewhere
will be feeling what I'm feeling
but just doesn't have the words.
I owe it to her to find them for the two, ten or thousand of us.

A friend once observed that I tend to write myself out of a funk.

That is 100% true.

Writing helps me cope with whatever it is
I'm going through.
It's a way for me to organize my thoughts
so that I can sanely process them.

So, my fresh fruit in the next coming months
may be sour at times,
will probably contain some rather large
and hard to swallow seeds,
will definitely have some sweet spots,
could have a few bruises,
but I can assure you
it will always be freshly picked
from my life among the weeds.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Hero's Homecoming

Being a Navy wife is a bitter sweet existence.
There is really no way to understand it unless
you are one.
Or love one.
Here is a peek into our world.
One that we don't often share with outsiders
because that would not be "strong" of us.
And we are all about being strong.
Unless we are in groups together
leaning on each other and wiping each others tears.

The bitter parts of being a Navy wife can almost
do you in if you let them.
The bitterness of curling up in an empty bed after
a stressful day can almost swallow you whole,
if we were not comforted by the sweet e-mail
we just read from our sailor or soldier before bed.

The bitterness of having to see tears well up
in our children's eyes because they miss their dad
can leave deep scars in our heart
if it were not for the sweet soul to soul talks we get to have
with our kids about life,
honor and family.

The bitterness of separation can leave us cold
and alone
if it were not for the sweetness of
like-minded friends surrounding us with
warmth and companionship when we need it most.

The bitterness of carrying the whole load of a
household on our shoulders
is enough to break even the most
if we were not supported by those who come alongside us
during our hour of need.

The bitterness of worrying about our
soldier or sailor being in harm's way
can leave us a nervous wreck
if we were not soothed by reassuring
e-mails and phone conversations
and whispers of "I love you and I'm Ok".

There is no way to effectively explain
what it feels like to have a loved one
on foreign soil,
deep under the ocean,
flying high above enemy territory,
floating in unfriendly waters.....
for months
and months
and months.
There is no way to describe what it feels like
to wonder what this separation is doing to our kids.
No way to put into words our deep sadness
when the calendar flips too slowly.

There is no way to describe our longing
for the warmth of our loved ones arms.
To feel the soft kisses and sweet caresses
that melt away the day's troubles.
There is no way to make you understand
our great sorrow when we witness
a child's milestone

There is no way for you to comprehend
our anguish when we must endure
yet another delay,
a change,
an extension.

But there is also no way to describe
our sense of pride.
There is no way for you to understand
how honored we are to have
married incredible men
who serve their nation honorably.

There is no way for you to understand
the bond we have with eachother.
The absolute dedication we wives have
to our kind is unequaled.

There is no way that we can make you understand
what it feels like to read love notes from our soldier or sailor
and how we hang on to those words
and read them over and over again.
We can't describe for you the butterflies
we feel whenever we get a phone call,
a letter, an e-mail or skype.

You will never understand the sheer joy
and the incredible adrenaline of anticipation
as we get closer and closer to the
homecoming day.
We can't put into words what that first hug is like
or how blessed we feel to have our eyes on our
soldier or sailor.

How can we ever express to you
how lucky we are to have
a "first kiss" after many years of marriage,
to watch father and child rediscover each other,
to fall in love all over again?!

To take our soldier or sailor home
and celebrate life with them,
huddled close,
thanking God for safe returns,
the love of family,
and the rewards of patience!
You might remember the Rossi Family
from my blog.
I was blessed to do a photo shoot with them
before Giancarlo's deployment to the middle east
and I had the absolute honor of
photographing his homecoming!
Thank you to all of the men and woman
who are serving our country.
And a special thank you to the stateside spouses
who love their soldiers and sailors
in a thousand little ways
across miles and time zones!
God Bless!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dinner, Dancing and Dreams!!

We were so thrilled to have my mom in town
this month for her 60th birthday!!

The weather was incredible in Seattle the entire time she was here.
She was able to clearly se the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

It has always been her dream to take my family on a cruise.

She loves cruising and wanted my kids to have that experience before they
grew up and were out on their own.

We booked Celebrity cruiselines Pacific Northwest weekend cruise to Canada.

We left from the gorgeous Seattle waterfront.

The Bon Voyage dance party kicked off the cruise
and we were off for three days of fun!

It was so fun to be on a dance floor with my kids!
I can't remember the last time that happened.

I also enjoyed watching my boys dance with my mom.
That's another dream my mom had.
So I guess you could say that this cruise
was a dream fulfilling experience for her!

We had two ports.
The first one was Victoria BC followed by
They were both so beautiful.
We enjoyed exploring them on foot.
I can't wait to drive up and have more time
in those two locations.
There seemed to be a ton to do
including ziplines, hikes and snow sports.
We didn't have time to take any big excursions,
so we opted to walk the streets and see what we could see.

Just spending the time together
completely unplugged from our daily lives
was so precious.

Madison and Nana roomed together
and I loved watching them bond.
Madison has changed so much since the last time they were together,
so I was happy to see that they still have a special connection.
It made me smile to see them posing together
while Madison snapped many photos of them
with her cell phone.
It was a small thing,
but Madison does this with her friends,
so it was endearing to me to see her pulling Nana in
in that way.

Each night before dinner there was a show.
We'd get all dressed up and sit together to watch it.
The first night there were dancers and a world class juggler.
The second night there was a comedian,
and the last night was "dancing around the world".
We enjoyed them all,
but that juggler was the most memorable.
I can't remember the last time my boys were in
kakhi pants and dress shirts!
That alone was worth the whole trip!

Each evening after dinner there were
a variety of activities.
Karaoke, Bingo, nightclub dancing,
casinos and endless lounges with fabulous singers.
Bren always wanted to dance.
Before the trip, she came up to me quite despondant and said,
"Mom, what if I can't dance on the cruise?"
I asked her why she thought she wouldn't be able to dance.
She said, Because I don't have a boy."

Daddy was happy to be her "boy" every evening.

She was also happy to participate in the gormet chocolate bar
that was put out at 11pm!
What a departure from daily life where
we try not to give her sugar past 5 pm or
she's wired til mid-night!

My favorite part of the whole thing
was definitely dinner time.
I was so proud of my kids for trying new things
and for adapting so well to the formality.
They learned quickly what fork to use for which course
and how to relax amid such elegance.
We had some great conversations around the table
and some memorable laughs that will
now be inside jokes between them and Nana.
As busy as our family is,
dinner time together has become a rarity.
Sometimes we eat in shifts.
Sometimes we'll eat standing around the bar in the kitchen.
Sometimes we are all there, most of the time we are not.
Every once in a while we'll all sit together and eat,
but that is not the norm anymore.

I remember growing up and having family dinners.
Stuffed peppers or meatloaf
or BBQ's and fish frys in the backyard.
Everyone coming together at the end of the day.
They are such precious memories to me
and I'm trying hard to deliver that consistency to my kids too.
But change is inevitable.
Kids grow up and have busy lives of their own.
Husbands work late.
Schedules get full
and flexibility becomes more important than rules.
My older kids remember family meals
because we used to be very good at it,
but Bren is kinda caught in the chaos of being a little fish in
a big swirling fish pond.
I don't want this to be her norm.
I was thinking about this while we were being served
incredibly delicious, elegant five course meals by
very accomodating professional wait staff.
One night a week.
That's my goal.
One family dinner night each week is still doable
even with all we have going on.

The connection is so worth the effort.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Maybe it's Maybelline.

So Madison is 13.
Man, I remember alot about being 13!!!
There is so much I don't remember about growing up.
I have a horrible memory.
I remember flashes and jumbled up little snipetts of events.
My earliest clear memory where I can recall in exact sequence
how things happened and the details like conversations, or supporting characters
isn't until I was around 12 or 13.

It's a frustration for me
and I rely alot on what other people say happened.
Finding old friends on facebook
has jogged my memory a little,
but I still struggle to
put lots of pieces together from years ago.
My cousin Carrie has the best memory ever.
She remembers what people were wearing, what they said,
how she and others felt, and little details about
certain events that just bring them back to life.
I love learning about my young self from her.
But I do remember alot about being 13,
and it's totally different than today's 13 year old girl.

Madison has always been an old soul.
She was born serious and has been keeping us all on the straight and narrow
ever since.
She's responsible and direct.
Totally capable of making hard decisions and sticking with them.
I admire her determination and conviction.

But she's still 13.
This year is full of so many changes.
I can see her becoming a woman before my eyes.
She's getting to know who she is and
is learning how to best present herself.
Lately I've seen her paying much closer attention
to how she does her makeup
and what kind of clothing she wears.
She's on the conservative side,
which I am so proud of, but
she also has very striking eyes and
she's quite curvy (like her mom),
so playing those attributes up
in a tasteful way requires some style.

In the spirit of trying to start her off right
in the art of self presentation,
and to give myself a refresher,
she and I went to the local Clinique sales rep
and had our colors done.
We had so much fun getting to play with the products.
Of course the sales lady said all the right things
like, "My, you two could be sisters!",
so I left there feeling quite youthful!

Madison was raving about my eyelashes and
I was raving about her glowing skin.
We had a great time together and came home with a bag
full of magic.

So now, we start our mornings off with
a cleanser, a clarifying lotion and a moisturizing lotion
followed by various concealers and shimmering pinks and browns.

Seeing her come into my bathroom with her hair in a ponytail
and asking me if I like what she's done with her eyes,
makes me sad and happy at the same time.

I'm so blessed to have a daughter like Maddie
to share these fun girly things with
and I'm overjoyed that she's already a woman of character,
but at the same time,
I know how fleeting these next five years are.
I can hardly find the curly-haired little girl behind her
perfectly shadowed blue eyes anymore
and that makes me want to stop the clock!
But, I know that my saddness is selfish.
This is her time.
The teen years are full of excitement and adventure.
New discoveries and little tastes of freedom
are around every corner.
She's learning now who she wants to be in the future
and how to get there.
So, while there was a lump in my throat behind my
broad, doting smile,
I studied Madison's eyes
and told her what a beautiful job she'd done on them
that morning.
Maybelline has nothing on this girl,
she was born with it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wedding worries

Last season on So You Think You Can Dance,
I heard choreographer Mia Michaels
say that she feels like she is going to throw up
every time her choreography is performed.
She went on to say that it is that type of excitment
mixed with fear that keeps her striving to
produce her best work.
I love it when experts in their field are transparent enough
to admit that they are scared to death of not being able to
perform to their highest ability.

So many times, I just assume that at that level,
they have it down.
Nothing really rattles them and they can
fully trust their own ability to knock it out
of the park every single time.
It's nice to know that even with that kind of success,
the butterflies still flutter against their confidence
and keeps them running from failure.

I am fully aware that one never gets there.
If one is truely striving for the highest,
they never really get to the place
where they feel completely comfortable.
And if they do,
maybe its time to move on.
It is the very presence of those butterflies,
that lump in your throat,
that worry that you will fall short,
that keeps you pushing toward your own personal best.

So how does all of this apply to me and the
gorgeous wedding photos I've posted here?
The butterflies totally got me.
They almost won too,
but very recently,
I decided to use them to better myself
instead of taking their fluttering as a sign that I will never be as
good as I think I should be,
and should just quit before I embarrass myself,
or worse yet, disappoint someone.
I turned down four weddings in the past year because
of those butterflies.
Ironically, weddings, especially destination weddings,
is something that I see David and I
doing together in the future,
and yet it is the thing I am most afraid of.
I have never shot a wedding on my own.
It has never been my responsibility to get
"the shot", or to make sure
that the wedding couple's story is told
beautifully though my eyes.
I've been a second shooter a few times,
but for very small weddings of friends.

So, when Carmen called me,
the first thing I wanted to say was,
"I'm not very good. Are you sure you want me?"

But instead, I swallowed all that fear
and acted like I knew what I was doing.
When she told me that it would be a backyard wedding,
I knew that I had a chance because natural light
is clearly my thing.
When she told me that she was looking for a
journalistic style of wedding photography,
I knew that my chances of success were getting better
and better.
Maybe I really can do this!

I decided to just feel my way through the whole day
and finally face the fear of failure by
jumping right in to what scared me the most.
That doesn't mean I didn't worry myself to death over it
and spend hours researching new information
and re-reading things I already knew.
It just means that I relied heavily on what I know.
Photography is emotional.
For me it is 90% feeling and 10% techincal.
I know what I think is beautiful.
I know what moments will be cherished 50 years from now
and I know how to capture that.
That's all I needed.

It didn't matter that it was the absolute
brightest day of the year...
and hottest too!
It didn't matter that I don't have the latest and greatest
photography equipment.
All that mattered was that I poured my heart and soul
into telling the story of Carmen and Sonny's
special day in the most beautiful way
I knew how to do.

And that I was brave enough to do it.
David was my second shooter.
He's been working with my d50 for about a year
and is quite good at it.
He was such an asset to me that day.
I'm so proud of him for stepping out of his
comfort zone and getting some awesome shots,
including the one below!
I love how he framed Carmen and Sonny
and captured the expression on her face.

Thank you Carmen and Sonny for having
more confidence in me in the beginning than I had
in myself!
David and I wish you many, many years of happiness!!