Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saying Goodbye

When Mike and I first started dating, he used to make fun of me for how AWFUL I was at saying goodbye. Nothing has changed. He doesn't make fun of me anymore, but I am still the worst goodbye-er EVER.

I don't know when to end a conversation or what to say to bring it to an appropriate feeling close. Who should hang up the phone first? Should we shake hands again? Is a wave sufficient? Am I making too much eye-contact or not enough? You'd think I was homeschooled or something.

And I'm struggling with the sudden departure of 2011. Where has the year gone? What have I been doing for the past 12 months? I guess that's the point of this blog - to help me remember. To help me hold on. And to help me let go.

So this will be my last post in the year 2011. Mike and I are going to dinner tonight and then watching fireworks from the river in Augusta. Then we're going to get drunk by ourselves. All of his work friends are working. He's only off because of the surgery he had on his finger. I don't have any friends to make plans with. So it'll be just the two of us, ringing in the year of our wedding together, drinking cheap champagne and making resolutions that we probably won't stick to.

This was us last new year - I look as pale as Edward Cullen in the shade. 


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Selfies

These are officially my first self portraits using my new studio lighting and backdrop! I hung some Christmas lights in the background to get the playful bokeh. I'm so vain.

Don't you love my scarf? It's 100% cashmere and ridiculously soft. *SPOILER ALERT* I got my mom a pink one for Christmas and never sent it to her. Mom, you'll just have to open it when you come visit in a few weeks. I'm sure we'll still have the Christmas decorations up anyway.

I am seriously obsessed with my new equipment. The reflective umbrellas create such a natural daylight effect. I mean, with the exception of some moderate touch ups to my skin, these pics are basically SOOC.  I used my new fixed length 50mm lens, too. SWOON. So CRISP and SHARP. I was THIS close to sedating Moose so that she'd sit still for some portraits. SOMEONE COME BE MY MODEL! Annahita, I'm bringing my gear when I come take your preggo/family pics so clear some space for the set-up! lol
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Eve

I'm sorry if my post yesterday dragged you down. It was something I needed to write...to feel...to process. It was really an amazing sight to see - thousands of people drawn together over something so sad.

But today is not about that, as all things come and go. I am trying to be happy.

Saturday was a good day. Mike woke up at around 6 AM because the pup we were watching didn't believe in sleeping soundly in his crate. I, however, snoozed until almost 11 and proceeded to sit on the couch in my jammies all day.

We left for Christmas Eve service around 4:00.

Then we spent the night eating finger food at Mike's mom's and watching the kids (and Gena) play Just Dance 3 on the Wii.

We did all of the Christmas presents on Saturday - the first time I've ever NOT opened presents on Christmas morning.
Mike and I were planning on opening our gifts to each other on Christmas morning, but when we got home, that changed. I realized I had to get up in the morning with enough time to make the banana pudding AND get dressed for church. My desire to sleep in trumped my desire to have a traditional Christmas morning.

Mike did good. I am now officially a photographer with studio equipment! Mike got me an elaborate set of studio lighting complete with reflective umbrellas, stands, and backdrops! HOORAY! So, everyone come on over and get your portraits! Naturally I made Mike and the animals model for me.

I'm still going to need some time to play around with the setup. Needless to say, I LOVE IT!
What was your favorite gift this year?
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Officer Scotty Richardson

Today* we celebrated his life.

This morning I woke up knowing that the majority of my day would be spent fighting back tears and wiping my nose. This afternoon a fallen hero was laid to rest surrounded by friends, family, and strangers hoping to say "thank you."
Officer Scotty Richardson was shot and killed in the line of duty last week. He was 33. I was not lucky enough to be counted among his friends, but based on the outpouring of heartbreak and support for the family he left behind (a wife and three small children), I can only come to the conclusion that he was a great man.
The memorial service today and the funeral that followed were heartbreaking. They spoke about his childhood, his doting mother and proud father, his Aiken heritage and the pride he felt for his hometown. They raved about his perma-smile (somewhat mischievous but always beaming), his soft-spoken and gentle nature, and his desire to serve the people and keep the peace. They listed his many accomplishments and his numerous qualifications. They spent time reflecting with his family over funny stories, the love he had for his three sons, and how he felt about marrying his soul-mate. People have had nothing but good things to say about Scotty, and it's clear that Aiken has lost a magnanimous hero.
I've had a tightness in my throat and heaviness on my chest since first hearing about his death. It could have been someone I knew. It could have been Mike. You never know when tragedy is going to claim someone you love. Thousands of officers from departments across the state came to pay their respects to Officer Richardson. Aiken was bursting at the seams with law enforcement today. The whole of downtown came to a screeching halt during the processional. Traffic was stopped both ways. Citizens lined the streets and waved American flags as the horse drawn carriage passed them by. And they wept. Everyone wept.
I'm the type of person that gets teary eyed at the sight of the stars and stripes. My eyes water during the National Anthem. I sob during videos of troops coming home from deployment and swell with pride knowing that so many men and women would willingly take such bold risks to protect the country I love, along with the people in it - more than 300 million strangers. Scotty was one of those souls driven to do something bigger than himself. And we are grateful.

I could hear the bagpipes playing before they entered my line of sight. They gave me goosebumps.
Mike is 4th from the Left!
So now we mourn this man that many of us did not even know, while a family struggles to find their way in such unfamiliar territory. I think about how this pain will hang over them for many holiday seasons to come. I wonder how they will face it. How will they handle such a profound loss? They will never be able to fill the void his death has created. They will never know why he was taken.
But we are human. Surprisingly resilient creatures. And I know this community that can at times seem distant and disconnected, will band together and embrace Scotty's family. It takes a village to raise a child, and his sons are in the protective hands of their newfound law enforcement family.

This was Mike's Facebook status today. I think he said it well, "there are men and women who wake up every day and put on a uniform. They then take to the streets with the purpose of keeping you, your property and the community safe. They knowingly place their lives on the line to accomplish this. Today a wife will return home without a husband and children will return home without a father. All who serve in law enforcement give some, some have given all. May the Lord receive Scotty Richardson and may he keep and bless the family he left behind. Rest in peace Scotty."

 *I actually wrote this on Tuesday. So when I say today, I mean yesterday.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve Eve

[photo heavy]

Friday night we spent at the Horton's. They live two doors down from us, so it's really nice to just be able to walk on over whenever we're ready without much planning. I did make the dessert for the night. Apple Pie Enchiladas. The dinner was Mexican themed. My fave. I didn't take any pictures of it.

We always have a lot of fun when we go to Mike's sister's house. The conversation is good, the jokes are funny, and the house is warm. Not to mention there are always like 13512461 animals around, which I love. Mike had a headache all night, though. And now he feels achy. I hope he isn't getting the Flu.
 We took some family snapshots. The lighting was dim and I don't think they came out very nice.
 We played spoons (card game) on the floor. The kids loved it - even though they usually lost early on. I won the first round and Mike won the second. We're a power couple.
Jamison got to open some of his presents. He was more interested in ripping the wrapping paper.

Then I took some pictures in front of the tree -
 Olivia and Porter
 Olivia and Jamison
 Logan and Static. I can't wait for the day when Gena shows this picture to his first girlfriend. HA.
 Jamison and Logan
 Olivia and Jamison
 Gena and her new babies, Gracie and Kato.
 Jamison and his beautiful Mama, Irish.
And last but not least, Mr. Green! We watched him for a day or so for some friends of ours. They surprised their daughter on Christmas morning. We keept him until the time was right. =) He's sweet and adorable, but he is such a busy body. Kittens require much less supervision. Plus he whined his little heart out when we put him in the crate. I just didn't trust him enough to leave him out all night!
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