Thursday, June 24, 2010

Where have all my babies gone?

Last week my lovely husband told me that in about two weeks I would be the mother of a houseful of teenagers. Assuming that he wasn't talking about adopting a bunch of teenagers, I'm guessing that he means that all three of my babies will be teenagers, for about three months. The oldest will turn twenty in October. I'm not sure which fact freaks me out the most. Can one still be twenty-something and have teenagers?

Another reminder that my babies are growing up happens as I check the mail each day. We receive packets and postcards on a daily basis from colleges all over the United States addressed to T-man. As T-man mentions the possibility of attending an out of town school and even an out of state school, I've been having those moments of panic. How am I going to let him go? Mimi is already scheming to turn his room into a sewing room. While I'm right there with her, I'm wondering if he wouldn't mind sleeping in our sewing room.

Today we took him to have his senior pictures taken. When the letter arrived with a date and time for yearbook photos, I told T-man that he would need to dress well for the photos. That meant a suit or sports coat and tie. He put up a weak fuss but knew I was right. He was a very good sport about participating in the shopping process. I also suggested getting a hair cut even thought he just recently got one. I got the NO! Oh well, a mom's got to try.

He did agree to letting me snap a few pre-studio shots. I took a number of those just one more shot. As I told him I was done, I decided I wanted a full length shot. As he began to walk away, I said, "Wait just one more." He said mom you say that and then you take a bunch of pictures. I told him three more and limited myself to that. This is his humor his mom smile.
I thought it was quite timely that the day after the ZZ Top concert, I have my own homegrown "sharp dressed man". He cleans up pretty well don't you think! We raved about how handsome he looked. Mimi just stared at him. When we arrived at the studio the photographer and the photographer's wife complimented him for dressing so nice for his senior pictures. The photographer even shook his hand. We have our annual Christmas photo taken by this photographer and he suggested that we do a formal Christmas photo this year with all the guys in suits, fancy dresses for the girls. I'll have to pull out my pearls for this one. Sounds like a plan.

From Quilting to ZZ Top

In early May I bought tickets for the four of us to see ZZ Top in concert. Doug was particularly excited to see them. Since I did such a good job getting prime tickets for another concert I was left in charge of purchasing tickets while Doug attended the college's spring commencement. I managed to navigate the on-line system and get tickets.

In true form I ended up overbooking myself. In late May I signed up for another quilting class, Quilting Basics 2. It turned out that the second Wednesday class was the same night as the concert and the following week I would not be in class because we booked a family day trip to Chicago. So basically I paid for a three week class and would not only attend one week. In addition there are things I need to learn and practice which is why I signed up for the class. What to do?

I thought about not going to the concert and finding a friend who would like to go to ZZ Top with my guys. Doug wasn't wild about this idea and besides I wanted to do both. So I decided to go to the first two of my three hour class then head over to the concert venue. I would miss the opening band but get to see ZZ Top.

In an effort to get the most out of my class, I worked like crazy to get my homework completed and then more. This particular quilt pattern is harder than the basic squares I've been doing. It was quite the challenge for the perfectionist. After ripping and resewing several times, I finally had to accept that there would be a few places that were not up to my standards. I'll have to make another table runner with this pattern before I'm ready to venture into something bigger.

I got to class and worked. About an hour before I was to leave a storm came up and it poured. I knew that I would get soaked getting into the concert, but what's a little/lot of rain compared to seeing ZZ Top. One of the gals from class offered to drop me off at the concert so I wouldn't get so wet. I hadn't even thought about leaving my car and getting someone to drop me off. So we stayed until a half hour before class ended. She got to a good stopping point and then we headed off. What a nice person!

I arrived at the concert dry and during the intermission prior to the start of ZZ Top's performance. As the music started I was so glad that I went. It's interesting to note that the same three original band members are still together and they have been performing for over four decades. Billy's and Dusty's beards must be forty years old. When Mimi saw the pictures we took, she asked if those beards were real. I unfortunately did not get the chance to verify the realness of those beards. I'm thinking they could donate them to locks of love.

I'm guessing that the coliseum has given up trying to keep people from taking pictures. With camera phones it's pretty hard to keep people from snapping a few. Once again my baby purse camera came in handy. ZZ Top had a very brightly lit stage so the lighting was great for photos. I didn't exactly score the best floor seats. It was very hard for me to consistently see the stage so Doug took most of the pictures. He got some fantastic ones.

Rock on!! Cuz every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Men I Love: Happy Father's Day

A few weeks before school ended the other kindergarten teacher at my school invited me to come to her room and see the gifts she bought for her niece's birthday (her niece had been one of my kindergartners four years ago). When I went in the room she began pulling items out of decorated gift bags and unwrapping the tissue paper. In the tissue paper were frames and a photo album that had pictures of her niece from her circus performance that takes place every year at our school. These were her gifts to her niece. What was so special to me was that I had taken the pictures. I felt so honored that the photos I had taken meant that much to my friend and her family.

Over the past year I've been taking pictures of our church construction. It became this desire to document the past, preserve the progress as our church structure changed beyond anything I could have imaged from simply seeing drawings. In the process I saw the immense precision, creativity, art, and beauty in construction. Due to the kindness of the construction manager, I've had the opportunity to see/photograph lots of the inside structure during the construction process, take action shots as the construction workers and subcontractors worked, and this person has taken the time to explain a lot of the work that was going on (HGTV only takes you so far). For a girl who absolutely doesn't like surprises this has been a phenomenal opportunity to see the church structure change and grow.

I began burning copies of my photos for the construction manager and Monsignor. I've received numerous compliments and thanks from them. It's wonderful to get compliments even though my motives were predominately personal. I really like taking pictures, am fascinated with the construction process, the subject; our parish church is a deeply personal entity of my life, and there is the desire to document where we have come from. As our memories will blur once we are sitting in nice new pews, with reliable a/c, in a beautiful spiritual environment I wanted us to remember the road that we took to get to that point. From experience I knew how soon we would forget the details of this long road. My sister calls me the memory keeper, since I have a wealth of multi-generational family photos, and usually can quickly lay my hands on what she wants or needs. I'm sure there's a bit of couch therapy related to being the memory keeper so those compliments are always a welcomed bonus.

How does this all relate to the men I love? Well, I began thinking about my love affair with the camera. When did I start taking pictures? Why? As I looked through a couple of albums that I have from my early teen years, I see that I took awful pictures. Most are blurry, the lighting is poor, and the subjects are too far away. Why would I have moved beyond just taking the special occasional family event photos? After some reflection the answer was that my fascination with photography is linked to the men I love. Three men in particular.

I remember my dad telling me stories of the the pictures he took with his little brownie camera. He even explained the science of how the camera captured images. Until I was a teenager we never had a sophisticated camera but we always had a camera in the house. I remember the insta-matic cameras and the Polariods. In those days you had to have film and flash bulbs. You sent or dropped off you film to be developed. It took days even a whole week to get your pictures. You paid for all the pictures you took (even the bad ones) and you ended up with negatives that had to be stored if you ever wanted more pictures. I don't remember needing batteries, probably because there were dials and cranks that we had to advance every time we took a picture. My dad took photos on vacations and at our school events. We're mostly glad we have those photos today.I think I was in high school when dad bought our 35mm Pentax camera. You still had to buy film and with this type of camera you had to feed the film just right into the cylinder of the spool that would advance the film. You needed batteries and you had a flash attachment. My junior and senior years of high school I used the camera a lot; as I took pictures for the high school year book. My dad took me to many events and coached me as I worked on getting shots. I had some stumbling blocks along the way like not having film in the camera, having not fed the film in properly and the film crunching up, then getting exposed as you opened the camera to fix the problem, and dead batteries.

The next man in my life is my uncle. I can't imagine my uncle without a camera. Every get together we had involved a camera, camera bag with lenses, and a tripod. Some of my fondest memories are those group shots where my uncle would set the timer so he could be in the picture with us. It was almost magical. Sometimes we waited and waited and ...waited for the click. Just as my uncle would leave the group to check out the problem... CLICK. Sometimes as he was running to get in the picture... CLICK. I know that there exists a picture or two of Uncle Charles running to get in the picture as we are all gathered in our group pose. What I would give to have one of those pictures! My uncle would persevere and we'd get that group shot. I remember walking beside my uncle listening to him talk about the pictures he had taken, watching him as he took pictures, and anticipating seeing the pictures in a few weeks. The times when my uncle set up the slide projector for us and showed us the photos he had taken were the best.
Although my uncle says different, I remember several times as he excitedly talked about getting more pictures out of a roll film than was advertised. (Most of the time film provided 10, 15, 24, or 36 possible pictures. You had the buy the particular roll of film you wanted.) In my uncle's case he might get 38 pictures from a 36 roll of film largely due to how you loaded the film onto the spool. Now on those rare occasions as I walked beside him he'd exclaim that he was on his 40th pictures only to realize later that there was no film in the camera. I found this immensely funny. Eventually I had my share of "getting more" out of a roll of film. That moment of deja vous had me checking my camera to discover no film.

Last but not least in my love is my husband. I first met my husband because of a camera. My college of education, elementary education team (the group with whom I would complete my undergraduate program) decided that we needed a group picture. The gal that organized our group picture knew that Doug was good at taking pictures and asked him to take our group picture. At the time neither she nor Doug had a camera. So I borrowed my dad's camera and met the group at USF. I met Doug had a nice conversation with a little camera talk. Then weeks later met up with him at a party planning party and the rest is history.When I met Doug he already had a keen interest in photography, had taken a class, and certainly had the the knack and patience to take great pictures. We have had many numerous relaxing and joyful outing where we've just gone out to take pictures. Doug has been a great teacher, challenged me, and has supported all my photographic endeavors. Since our marriage we have owned numerous cameras, taken a wealth of photos, and debated style. Obviously our vision, perspective, and style are somewhat different. Yet I still look to Doug for help in capturing that perfect image. I can always count on him to lighten my load and carry the camera bag.In the last eight years Doug bought me my first digital camera. Since it was our only digital camera I began carrying it in my purse so I would have it handy for both school and home. It's been great because there have been so many moments when I didn't think I would need or want a camera and was glad I had one tucked away in my purse.

Since that first camera Doug broke down and bought me a 35mm camera with interchangeable lenses. It's simply fantastic. We both have had so much fun with this camera. The only drawback is that it's cumbersome to tote the bag back and forth to school in addition to a backpack and purse. So this Christmas Doug bought me a new "baby" camera since my first one had begun to be selective in it's desire to work. I've found that a good camera is a lot like a good ball glove. It's hard to equal or replace the well worn favorite. I still struggle with mastering my new light weight camera and I sometimes sneak my old camera away from my daughter.

Even with the digital age I have my moments. How about leaving to take pictures and the battery is dead. How about having a memory stick that is full when your ready to take that very special picture (happens less nowadays with the large memory that the cards contain). Here's the best; downloading pictures and deleting them from the camera and then the computer crashes or they become corrupt.

These men taught me much about family, the joys of preserving moments in time, as well as photography. So to these three great men I love: I love you and thanks for the memories.

Happy Father's Day to my brother, brother-in-laws, great-uncle, uncles, and cousins. I love you too and you never know when you might be the subject of my blog.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Church History

Last week as I was sitting here at the computer blogging my summer to do list; I received a phone call. My cell phone rang and amazingly enough my purse that usually houses my phone was on the chair beside my computer. The ring tone was a generic tone and indicated that the caller was not in my contacts list. My contact list ring tone is the music from The Empire Strikes Back (The Imperial March). So when I heard the phone ring I suspected that the person calling was someone that I did not know. I briefly debated not answering the phone since I was in the middle of blogging. But my responsible and mostly rule following self grabbed the purse, fished out the phone, and offered up a cheery hello.

The man on the phone identified himself as Dr. McClean. I did not quite catch the name but said O.K. I'm thinking what doctor is this. I don't think he is one of my medical doctors. Then I'm think educational doctors. Does he work at the university? Did I have him as a professor? Does Doug know him? Why is he calling me?

Then he says he is with the Office of Catechetic (when you spell it out it's pretty obvious but at 8:00 in the morning you too could be confused). Now I'm sure I don't know this person. I 'm thinking I don't have a catechetic and if I did I wouldn't need a doctor for it. So in my intellectual astuteness I say, "What?". He says "I'm the Catholic Education Director for the dioceses." As soon as he says Catholic I'm thinking I am such an idiot and I've now shared that with this man, a representative of The Church. I hope Monsignor doesn't find out or those that had a hand in my twelve years of Catholic school education.

I had e-mailed this man early in the week inquiring about the possibility of attending a church history workshop that weekend and had not heard from him. I guess he decided to call instead of e-mailing. I reveal my big ah ha with an "Ohhh". He then explains that there was space available in the class and I can just pay when I arrive to attend the workshop. I think I cut off whatever else he had to say and said, "Thank you, thank you. I'll be there." Then I hung up the phone. As I slump down in my office chair I think; I hope he doesn't know what church I attend. Maybe he is thinking I'm not even Catholic. One can only hope. Now that I am mortified I debate the wisdom of showing up at this workshop. Why is it that as hard as I try to project an image of a refined southern woman with a strong intellectual prowess, I manage to reveal that I'm completely dizzy?

As Saturday loomed I begin to realize that the workshop would be at 8:30 in the morning in another town, which would require me to leave my home around 7:00 (giving myself fifteen minutes for the requisite wrong turn(s). This meant I'd have to get up before 7:00 am. Worse than that! What does one wear to a church history workshop? I certainly couldn't call Dr. McClean and ask him about proper dress attire. Well, I did decided to suck it up and face my nerves and embarrassment head on. Much to my surprise Doug had decided to drive me and hang out in town thus greatly reducing the getting lost factor.

I attended the workshop. The speaker was fantastic. He is the type of person you could listen to all day, because he made much of the history come alive. It was much of what I was looking for. I learned a lot, refreshed my high school church history memory, zoned in on periods of time in Catholic history that most interest me, and gathered information on a wealth of resources that I can find and read at a later date. This also saved me from purchasing the $4.99 book of Christian History at Borders. Memories of the usefulness and font of information contained in the $4.99 interpreting dreams book I purchased controlled my impulsive desire to snap up the book on Christianity.

I am now much more intelligent than I was a week ago. The doctor from the Office of Catechetic can call me any old time. I'm ready.

As a little aside I turned off my phone prior to the start of the workshop. Later in the day during a break I checked my phone for messages. At this point I see that my phone is indicating that I am in an area that doesn't offer service to my phone. I'm a bit worried as all my children are at home without any way to contact their parents. I try to send a text to T-man explaining the problem and indicate that he should text me if there are any issues. The text goes through and T-man even texts me back. I return to the table where I'm sitting with two other ladies and tuck my purse beside my chair. The phone that should not be receiving calls begins to ring (The Imperial March-Star Wars). Obviously I forgot to turn the phone off.

Now earlier in the lecture the speaker made a reference to the Star Wars movies and had fans of the movies raise their hands. Yes, I raised my hand and maybe even waved it a little. He indicated that he too was a big Star Wars fan. I'm thinking though that this did not mean he wanted to hear my Star Wars ring-tone while he was teaching. So what did I do as this whole workshop process has fill me with embarrassment?

I stepped on the opening of my purse, to muffle the sound. (I saw the speaker's ears perk up as he kind of scanned the room for the source of The Imperial March. Maybe wondering if Darth Vader might stride into the room.) Then coyishly with my foot I slid my purse under the sweet little old lady's chair next to me so as to deflect any potential attention from me. Not so dumb after all!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer To Do List

I know you have eagerly been awaiting my summer to do list. It's a lot like the top 10 most popular Christmas gifts. I had begun to formulate my list in my mind in May before school was out. I though I would write it out and post it before school ended but there was no time. Then last week I contemplated not having a list at all. Unfortunately I feel adrift in a sea of projects and organizing. I need my list!!

Here it is in no particular order.
  • Finish scanning Hatch family slides and fix the ones that are reversed.
    - The last box and baggy of assorted slides has sat on my Victrola collecting dust for a year (sigh two?). I'm in a clean it all up mode so I need to finish this and put them away in their proper place. Doug has the vision and music for this show, so I think I'll just be the production assistant.

  • Scan photos of my (baby) sister. Close your eyes Cathy if you are reading this.
    - My mom gave me photos at Spring Break and I pulled photos from my albums. I need to pull some from my 1990-2010 containers. Then I can scan them and make her a 40th birthday slideshow movie.

  • Create a slideshow movie of our church construction photos.
    - This is a bit of a challenge since I believe that I have at least one thousand photos, seriously one thousand. I probably have 800-900 favorites. I need to focus and think of my target audience. Focus, focus, focus.

  • Paint kitchen fridge area.
    - In November, we bought a new big refrigerator. We had the cabinet above the old refrigerator removed so that I could get the largest fridge possible. The empty space is just unpainted drywall. I also need to trim down the baseboard piece that was removed, to get the fridge in it's space , and nail it back in place.

  • Paint the repaired wall spaces in T-man's bedroom.
    - In doing the serious deep cleaning of T's pit I found mold in two places on his wall. One area was large and disgusting. Doug called the contractor for me since I was in a panic. Our contractor came over, assessed the situation, and was able to fix and solve the problem. Now I need to paint the patches and then his room will be great.

  • Paint the bathroom off of Doug's and my bedroom.
    - I would call it a Master bathroom but that is way to generous for this tiny space. After painting our bedroom during holy week, the bathroom became the next needed project. I have a whole blog story for this. We'll only need to buy curtains and hang our photos to have this room finished.

  • Finish Mimi's room.
    - Last summer I painted her room. I still need to paint the shelves that were in her room and get them back up on the wall so I can empty her two knick knacks boxes (that are on the floor in her room). Buy curtain rods. Embellish the curtains I bought in December for her room so that I can hang them on the rods I'm going to buy. Then clean, clean, clean. No mold please!

  • Hard Rock Pin Cases
    - I have three pin cases that were birthday gifts a year ago (big sigh). I need to get the pins out of my armoire and into the cases for display.

  • Quilting
    - I took another basic quilting class in May and learned a lot about finishing a quilt. This class took me further that the fall Jr. college class. With this knowledge I'm an evening away from finishing my Halloween quilt. I'm ready to begin the prep work to finish T-man's quilt. I'll probably have to go and see my teacher for one or two reminders. That place where everyone knows your name, well for me that is the Sewing Studio. I told T-man last night that the binding work for his quilt will be my best work yet. Wasn't his Christmas gift from 2009 worth the wait?

    I have two small wedding quilts to make and finish by August. I'm waiting on some specific material that I ordered.

  • Gardening
    - Gardening is always on the list. It's a nice escape when I'm feeling out of sorts. I just go and pull weeds, dig, and rearrange stuff. It's the best free therapy.
My list is all about closure. Remember that New Year's resolution of seeing thing to completions. I want completely finished rooms and projects.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Short Hair

Here she is sporting her new look.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Locks of Love

Mimi has struggled with keeping her long hair tangle free. There are times when parts are almost matted. She has the Medusa look going. I kept hoping that as she entered middle school she would become more conscious of her hair and work on keeping it neat. But alas she seem to be one of those that is comfortable walking to her own beat. I suspect that she has a little bit of Asperger's in her.

She can't stand to have her hair brushed. I mean really brushing the tangles out not just brushing the surface of her hair as she likes to do. I really believe that she has a very sensitive scalp because I am as gentle as humanly possible when it comes to brushing her hair. I use a variety of brushes, combs, and detangling products to no avail. I still get tears and the stop you're hurting me. I need a Valium before brushing her hair unfortunately my doctor won't prescribe any. Instead I'm reduced to deep cleansing breaths and loads of patience. We have threatened and insisted that she cut her hair or take better care of it. All we get are tears and foot stomps.

I've finally gotten to the point where she will let me shampoo, condition, untangle shampoo, condition, brush, and dry her hair. I try to once a week get her in the bathtub so I can take care of her hair. In May right before a class trip to Chicago, I once again washed her hair. As I was washing, I began a new tack to get her to consent getting inches cut off of her hair.

I began with how lovely her hair is. In the water it fans out like a mermaid's. Now I know what you are thinking; how many mermaids have I seen. Other than Ariel (of Disney) I have not had the pleasure of seeing a mermaid. One of my GA preschoolers indicated that the mermaids lived in Ireland (I'm guessing off the coast of Ireland). I'm sure that Mimi's hair would rival any mermaids. Anyway, I told her how some child who had no hair because of cancer or other illnesses would love to have nice thick dark hair like ours. Maybe she should consider one day donating hair to locks of love.

When her hair is brushed and managed it truly is beautiful. As a ballet dancer I know that there is a desire and need to keep her hair long. But it is an overwhelming battle to manage.

Anyway right before school ended Mimi indicated that she was ready to get her hair cut and donate the inches to locks of love. We looked up the information about donating and measured her hair, hoping that we would still be able to pull her hair up into a bun. I made an appointment with our hairdresser and yesterday she got ten inches cut off. We can't quite get it into a ponytail and bun; but I think by October, when the next stage ballet performance will occur, her hair will be long enough. She was so excited and happy about the whole experience.

I took lots of pictures. We joke that she now looks like me only taller. She is waiting to surprise her ballet buddies so she won't let me post a picture yet. On Sunday we go to the studio to view a recorded version of Don Quixote. They will perform this ballet in the fall. So stay posted and Sunday or Monday I'll reveal her new look.