slide show

Monday, November 30, 2015

She only had eyes for her Daddy

Before I jump into the daily photo minutia of our crazy family...
Today is the LAST day to get $50 off 2 of my upcoming photography classes!
Prices go back up tomorrow morning.
Manual 'n More starts in January, and Composition 101 starts in March. Hope to see you there! 

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Papa has been traveling for work these last 18 months. And when he's not traveling he's working a lot. He always gets home by 5:30 for dinner and the bedtime routine, but often goes back to work at the computer after the little ones are tucked in. And did I mention the shingles? Ya, has made it even worse lately. But even though his spare time is scarce and incredibly valuable, he still makes time for me, the family, and each of the children. Case in point, a very special kindergarten Thanksgiving celebration and one very special little girl who was so so happy to have her Papa be there with her. 
Sweet treasured little moment between Papa and his daughter. The best kind of moments of all really!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

SALE on Photography Classes!

I'm going to spending some extra time baking pies, ya, that's happening today as well as peeling 20 lbs of potatoes, and just being with my family for the holiday. And I hope you are too!

So I'm starting the sale early!

$50 off both the Manual 'n More class that starts in January and the Composition 101 class that starts March.  The sale is now through Monday, November 30th at midnight. This is the lowest prices my classes will be all year, and they usually sell out so don't wait too long to register! Both these classes make a great gift for that special someone in your life that is just starting to take an interest in photography! Or if it's a gift for yourself, (Please just tell him what you want. Don't make him guess. I promise you will both be happier that way!) tell your special someone that this is what you want this year, because it really is the gift that keeps on giving in captured memories and moments!

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why my back hurts and my kid is going commando

I last left you with Clubfoot Relapse Part 4 where Jude had surgery to move and release some of the tendons in his feet. He was again casted in his 4th set of casts, this time "split" plaster casts wrapped in ace bandages for 4 more weeks.
A comfy position for reading a book? 
Obviously, we've seen our fair share of casts and become accustomed. But oh my, these casts were the death of us. Or at least they tried to kill us at every turn. First, they were all the way up to his groin on both legs. And the worst part was that they were non-weight-bearing. Absolutely no standing in them. No weight on them at all so he could properly heal from surgery. So my day ('cause I know this surgery and treatment isn't all about me, but I'm writing the blog so here it is. My view of the the world.) looked like this...

  • Lift Jude out of bed to put him in the wheelchair. 
  • Lift Jude out of the wheelchair and onto the potty. And don't even get me started with getting his underwear and pants down while simultaneously holding him. Like I said, the casts go up to his groin! There are bruises folks! Not on him, on me! 
  • Lift Jude off the potty and back into the wheelchair while pulling underwear and pants back up only to realize that clothing is now wet and try to decide if it's little enough to just dry out or if we need to change clothing. 
  • Lift Jude onto a dining room chair to sit at the table for breakfast. (a pediatric wheelchair leaves Jude sitting chin-high at the table. Not good for eating, so we move him to a chair.) 
  • Lift Jude back to his wheelchair after breakfast. 
  • Lift Jude into the car. 
  • Lift wheelchair into the car and drive to school.
  • Lift wheelchair out of the car once we get to school. 
  • Lift Jude out of the car and put him in the wheelchair. 
  • Go home and take a nap teach classes, make dinner, consider doing laundry and chase the dust bunnies around the house. 
  • Drive back to school for school pick up, and lift Jude back into the car. 
  • Lift the wheelchair into the car and drive home.
  • Lift the wheelchair out of the car once we get home. 
  • Lift Jude out of the car and put him in the wheelchair. 
  • Immediately race Jude to the potty because evidently going potty at school is not going to happen, probably because of the aforementioned underwear pants issue, even though we've gone over the plan and "dress rehearsals" with the school nurse multiple times. Did we discuss the urinal? Well we certainly discussed it with Jude. But he's a smart little guy, and he doesn't prefer it, so he figured out just the right words to use to gain access to the toilet. And it involves something I'd rather not clean out of a urinal. 
  • Lift Jude out of the wheelchair and onto the potty. Again, wrestle with pants and underwear while trying not to drop my son... or get injured myself. 
  • Lift Jude off the potty and back into the wheelchair. 
  • Lift Jude to the dining room table for dinner. 
  • Lift Jude back into his wheelchair after dinner. 
  • Lift Jude back onto and off of potty before bedtime. 
  • Lift Jude out of wheelchair one last time and into his bed.
  • Sleep and repeat. 
Notice that there is no sponge bathing in this scenario. No errands with Jude to the doctor or the grocery store. No going to church or out to eat. No hand washing. All of which happen regularly and require even more lifting. 

And this is why my back hurts and my kid is going commando. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ordinary Miracles Star Student {Dana Ball of Dana Ball Photography}

Are you ready for the first Star Student? I am so excited to show off some crazy amazing talent with y'all!

Dana contacted me several years ago.
She had a camera.
She had 4 gorgeous children.
She knew her camera could take great pictures, but she just didn't know how to make that happen. So we started emailing each other, talking about photography classes and equipment, and Dana enrolled in my Manual 'n More photography class, the one I recommend folks take first. Over the next year or so I watched Dana practice and practice and practice and absorb all I could pour into her. Needless to say with her boundless enthusiasm, her skills took off! One think I gotta say about Dana is that she is always thinking about how to make herself a better photographer and even though sh'es already rockin' her skills, she continues to ask wonderful questions and keeps practicing! With those two character traits, I knew she was going to be an amazing photographer even from the very beginning! I think Dana discovered along the way that she's especially drawn capturing images of older kiddos and families. And I gotta say, I was right! Dana has become an AMAZING photographer! Recently she's been shooting a lot of seniors and families working on building up her portfolio.
Here are a few words from Dana...
“What kinds of camera do you use?” As my photography skills have grown, I get asked that question a lot. I usually steer my friend away from a new camera purchase and instead, I encourage them to take Nancy’s Manual ‘N More class. Nancy’s class gave me the skills to take my camera off auto mode and create beautiful, artistic images by shooting in manual. And the online format was perfect for me because I could work on the class any time of the day or night. One thing that sets Nancy’s classes apart is that she gives you detailed personal feedback on every assignment. And I love her heart – she will get as excited over that perfect shot of your babies as you do! I’ve taken 3 more classes from Nancy, and each one really pushed my art to a new level. ~Dana

Dana and I got to meet up at a photography conference last year, and we finally got to hug and talk shop. She's just as lovely in person as I thought she'd be! And I'm hoping that we'll get to meet up again soon!  

If you're in the Orlando area, you can look her up. I know you'll love the photos she creates!
Here's a link to the Dana Ball Photography web site, just in case you live in her neck of the woods. Watching her learn, find her passion and hone her skills, has been such a thrill for me. This is one of the reasons I love to teach photography after all!

A list of all the classes I offer is here, and the very first class Dana took that she mentioned is here. This class was designed for very beginning photographers who want to learn how to use their camera like Dana did on that first day she emailed me, or intermediate photographers that want to solidify their foundation and basic photography skills like exposure, focus and lighting.

Thank you, Dana, for making my job so fun! It has been pure joy for me to not only have you as a student but watch you grow your photography skills! I cannot wait to see what you do next! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Star Students (Gotta show 'em off!)

I get to do something everyday that nobody gets to see but me. And that makes me sad. Because I gotta tell you, it's awesome! It fills my cup and makes me want to share. Actually I do frequently share with lots of random folks that I come into contact with. My girlfriend that I have coffee with. My husband at the end of a busy day. My oldest daughter before she rushes out the door to class. My sister-in-law at family dinner... I'm usually pulling them aside, shoving my iPhone in their face and saying... HERE, quick... LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT this amazing photographer! Look at the pics that she took! They're so SO amazing, don't you think?! I remember when she was just starting out, and I've seen her skills grow till she takes pics like THIS! 

Because I'm actively teaching and giving feedback to my photography students every day, Monday-Saturday, I get to see them progress. I see there skills move forward and watch what they create with their cameras. Most often they start out with just a camera, a lot of questions that they don't even know that they have yet, a lot of enthusiasm, and a bewildered look on their face. They tell me that when they first took that camera out of the box, it had WAY more buttons and numbers on it than they thought it was going to have. And in the beginning they KNOW that their camera can capture gorgeous photos, of THEIR family and their children, but they just don't know what combination of buttons and numbers to use to take them. And that's where I get the honor (and I really i MEAN that. It's an honor that they selected me to teach them.) to teach them how to create the photographs that they desire.

So, I'm gong to start writing some regular blog posts that highlight some of my students, ones that have taken at least 2 of my classes, Manual 'n More and Lightroom 101. I want to show you just what I'm seeing! I want to show you how crazy ridiculously proud I am of the students I get the honor of teaching. The thing is, long after the classes are over, I hang out with my students via the www for a long while. Sometimes years. We become friends. I'd miss them if they went away! And even though we live all over the country, actually even all over the world, we are sometimes lucky enough to get to meet up in person! So not only do I get to see them initially develop their budding photography skills, but I get to see them fly with their skills and come into their own as artists! It's just amazing I tell you. Some have started their own businesses. Some are hobbyists and prefer to use their amazing talent just to capture their own treasured moments. And that's what I want to share you; Ordinary Miracles "Star Students" and what they've done with the skills they've acquired. I cannot wait to show them off!

I know you'll be as impressed by them as I am! I know you find inspiration in their images like I do. And I'll be sure to include links so you can keep getting inspired by them too. You never know. Maybe one of them lives in your neck of the woods! The first one is coming on this Friday!

And because you know I simply cannot post without a photo, here is some eye candy that will hopefully inspire you to get out there and capture the ordinary miracles that are already all around you.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Photo Gallery (Tess)

This capture was an unexpected quieter moment for our beautiful Tess. 
I don't know what to say.
Except that she still takes my breath away. 

Have a happy weekend all! Spend time with the ones you love. Soak 'em in and invest in being a powerful presence in their lives. That's the stuff that comes full circle. That's the stuff that truly matters in the end!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Out of the fire and into the flame

other wise known as another complainy mess of a post.

We had only been back from Jude's St. Louis surgery for about a 2 weeks, enough time to work the kinks out. You know like sleeping and eating and toileting issues... the stuff that doesn't matter but matters a whole lot to the everyday running of a home... when Papa was diagnosed with shingles.


And among other places, it's in his eye folks.

Double ouch!
And I now have so much sympathy for folks that are afflicted with awful virus! I didn't know a whole lot about shingles until this week except I knew it was something I didn't want to get. And it had something to do with chicken pox or something. I certainly didn't know enough about it to actually make the time to get out there and get a shingles shot. And ya that's gonna happen real soon now! But I'll let you in on a sad little secret... I'm not the most compassionate, bed-side manner kind of gal. I can dole out your meds and keep your ice packs filled with the best of them. I can hound the doctor's office and pharmacy to get prescriptions filled in less than an hour. I can get a handicapped placard, find a schedule therapists and run you all over the nation for care. I will hold back your hair when you toss your cookies, change the sheet and provide a steady BRAT diet of bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast. But when it comes to stroking your brow long term and assuring you that that you're over the hump and helping you feel that things only get better from here on out... my skills are seriously lacking. I got stuff to do to tell you I tell! I got laundry to wash, car pool to drive, groceries to procure and meals to prepare. And life kinda starts to come apart at the seams if I don't do all that stuff. And embarrassingly I don't have the patience to sit at a bedside.
It's bad.
I'm bad.
If there was a class in compassion 101, I know that should take be the first one to sign up! But for now, I'm much better at doing all the minutia that needs to be done to help you feel better rather than be a counselor and tear wiper. Unless of course we can wipe tears and do the counseling in an efficient 5 minutes of less. Usually no chance of that. I'd rather solve your problem through action rather than validate your feelings. I'm just not a girl in this respect.

Back to poor Papa. With shingles in his eye. And a wicked headache for about a week now. And a whole litany of symptoms that not much can be done about. Poor guy. And not a nursemaid in sight.

We found our new normal with Jude and are counting down the days till our next trip to St. Louis. Literally. 10... 9... 8... The lifting of this sweet child to and from his wheel chair, in and out of the car, on and off the toilet, out of his bed and to the breakfast table... my back is calling it quits. But now our attention is mostly to help Papa recover and feel better. Which mostly means keeping the house quiet enough for him to sleep as much as he can. Which is the only time it doesn't hurt. And keeping the remote control handy. And delivering meals bedside. And keeping his water cup full...

And I can do that.

I'll quite gladly do that.

I know he'd do the same and more for me. And really it is a privilege to care for someone as wonderful as this man. And again, in a weird way that makes this another ordinary miracle.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Photo Gallery (5 going on 17)

As I was working she grabbed my reading glasses off the desk and put them on. I couldn't help snapping a pic to remember the crazy ridiculous cuteness of that moment right then and right there. 
Day #308/365

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our big Boo

I know the little ones are disproportionately represented here. In my own defense, the littles are easier to capture with my camera, and they still agree to an M'nM bribe for a photo.

So I wanted to take a moment to share with you about one of the bigs. The one smack dab in the middle of the 7 kiddos. The baby of the bigs. Although he's hardly a baby anymore. Very recently, Boo uncharacteristically agreed to let me take his picture, as long as I was quick about it. So I did. And I'm so happy to have a more current photo of him. And yes, we do call him Boo, even now.

I was 42 weeks pregnant in this photo and only hours away from giving birth to a 10lb baby without any pain relief in a very loud 45-minute labor. If only I had known, I may not have had that smile on my face. Or maybe I would have because 42 weeks is a LONG time to be pregnant and it was almost over.
And I can't go past that photo without commenting on my little girls about to become big sisters, again. I'm pretty sure they were just that young yesterday. And evidently pure white shoes were all the rage. Now they're both nursing students and quickly cleaving (or completely cleft already) from the nest.
We jokingly called him the big-headed baby. Yes, I can attest to that. As a baby his head seemed to be disproportionately to the rest of him. And still remains ginormous.
He's my cuddle bug. He's sensitive. He appreciates my cooking more than anyone else in the family and tells me so. He's the Man Child's biggest fan. He's built like an athlete, but would rather be in the band. He enjoys a glass of cold milk after school each day. He'll play Qwirkle with anyone that will sit still long enough to play. He's my movie buddy, and he's a a pretty good looking Boy Scout if I don't say so myself.
Like his oldest sister, his farsightedness is getting worse the older he gets. He recently started using contacts, and I was reminded what an amazing hazel-grey-gold color his eyes are... the same color as his hair. I'm not sure how he's going to say that on his driver's license. His favorite food is... anything.  His favorite cookies are snicker doodles. He'll eat us all out of house and home if I don't keep up on the grocery shopping. He's a 5'10", 13 year old, 7th grader with a size 12 shoe... and growing like a weed.
He likes to throw shot putt on the middle-school track team. If not cut short, he's sporting an Afro. There's not a curl on either Papa or me, but Boo's hair just got curlier and curlier the older he got. He'd rather play video games than do homework, so occasionally he needs to be prodded. He has yet to get a cell phone, but not from a lack of asking. He seems to genuinely enjoy arguing. He wants to be an engineer and live in a small town. I'm pretty sure he can do whatever he puts his mind to. 
And for right now at least, he's mine. My baby. I know first hand how quickly they grow... and leave.

But I'm not going to think about that right now. Right now he's still here, and I'm going to try to cherish every moment with him. And go to the movies more often.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The best little pirate in the whole wide world!

These might be some of my favorite Halloween picture ever!
And they make me think... really? How did I get so lucky to get to be the mom of THESE awesome kids?!

Here they are... our little pirates!
And every pirate has a parrot, right?

Truth be told, the parrot, aka Livy the Unstoppable, took the reins on the building the ship. Like I said, I'm that lucky to have these kiddos! We had so much fun making it together for Jude! Well I had a blast making it with her. I hope she had fun working on it with me too!
And the girly girl on the left was agreeable to being a pirate only if there were lots of ribbons and lace and a dress involved. Yep, we can do that thanks to second hand shopping!
But it does twirl!
Jude has been a little bummed about Halloween this year for obvious reasons. He attended a couple Halloween events and found there were a lot of things he just couldn't do. But we explained that he most surely WILL get a lot more candy than his sisters this year. And our neighbors didn't disappoint and he did! So all in all, he was happy with the final out come.
I mean, how crazy cute are they?! I almost can't stand it!
Yep, I am again, reminded, that even aside from their cute factor, I am that lucky!

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