Thursday, October 28, 2010

Front Yard upgrade

Alternative title: My mother in law is Super Woman.

Micah had oral surgery on Tuesday to remove his tonsils and uvula and so weird stuff to his tongue and is home recovering. Because I have no more time off my mother in law has either stayed the night or come over every day to help him and me with the kids.

Yesterday he was napping, I was at work and the kids were all doing daycare like activities so she had a little extra time on her hands.

We had been talking about what I wanted for the front yard and she encouraged me to get some supplies (meaning she bought them for me) and if she had time she would work on it for me. I told her I wanted something visually appealing but that also was functional. Specifically I was wanting a kitchen herb/butterfly garden.

I say functional but really that's theoretical. I don't like kale, I don't know how to make echinacea with the cone flowers or do anything with the chamomile or calendula I plant to plant this spring.

We bought some shrubs for the rear of the area that were 40% off and then bought some cone flowers. Those are in the middle area. In the front we bought some mums (for color this year for fall) and some lovely kale.

I came home to find my front yard transformed from this (plus some overgrowth that had happened since this picture was taken):


I know it's hard to see (other than being able to tell it looks AMAZING) but my wonderful mother in law trimmed the massive stump in the front that was threatening to regrow multiple trees, dug up the edging bricks we had (in the decorative scallop shape), amended soil and filled in the baby pool sized hole we had in the middle, laid fabric, reapplied the bricks, dug at LEAST 9 holes with a PICK AXE because the soil up there is so crummy, planted my plants, laid mulch and moved heavy rocks and a planter as well as some decorative frogs.

While Micah was napping.

I feel awful because some days it's a miracle for me to fold a basket of laundry. Okay, most days laundry folding is a miracle and my mother in law accomplished all of that in the span of 8 hours or less and in 50 degree weather.

If you recall at the beginning of spring it looked like this:

So really, that is QUITE a transformation.

I feel like I keep telling her thank you and thank you but it isn't enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

That's so Gay

You may have heard about the recent string of suicides by some teenage and young adult boys. They were either gay or were perceived as gay and so they killed themselves. They had been bullied and reacted by ending it all.

I have sat and cried at each and every story about these boys I have read. Bright, young, loved young men who will never see another birthday, will never get a chance see their futures, experience love or make a difference by anything than the sacrifice of their lives.

I have wanted to say something for days but wasn't sure how to say it or what to say. I also was aware that I need to tread carefully into this realm. I need to be careful because I have some readers who absolutely, to the depths of their souls, believe that homosexuality is a sin. A sin and a choice because that's what a sin would be.

I also have readers who disagree with that assessment or, at least in one case, are openly gay.

So first, I want to say it out loud, for all to read. I am NOT gay. But people I love are gay.

I don't believe being gay is a choice. Because I can not fathom choosing to be hated. To be bullied. To face rejection and be denied rights that others who are slightly different are granted without question. I can't imagine choosing to be abandoned or judged or persecuted relentlessly. I can't imagine choosing who I love or who I was attracted to and having that used against me to hurt me, to humiliate me, to be used as blackmail to abuse me. No one would choose that. So I don't believe it's a choice.

I believe they are born being attracted to people of the same gender and can't help it, just like I can't help what color skin I have or what gender I was born with. Replace gay with black for example and you'll see that while blacks suffered abuse and being bullied because of the way they were born it was nothing they change.

I also don't believe that I get to judge those who are gay or those who hate gays. Although I would LOVE to judge people (and often I do, I'm not perfect) I don't get to decide who is worthy of love and respect and who is not based on what I believe. Since I believe that I also don't believe that I or anyone else am in a place to decide who can get married or who not get married. I don't believe that letting someone marry someone else of the same gender in anyway cheapens marriage since I believe infidelity and abuse cheapen marriage and that can happen regardless of who you marry.

If one of my children were to come to me and tell me they were gay it would not change my love for them one bit. It would not change the way I feel about them and it would not change my beliefs. This goes for my daughters as well as my son.

I look to God and Jesus for examples of how to love my children. God loves us regardless of what we do. He loves us even when we misbehave. He loves me even when I have hate in my heart. So I love my children, even when they misbehave.

I'm not, however, saying that gays are misbehaving or are wrong. But I believe that God loves them just like he loves me.

There are so many problems in the world. Really and truly there are. Can't we worry about starving children, families without jobs and lost souls and stop hating those who are different than we are.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

15 year olds make awesome parents

Not too long ago a 15 year old got some really disturbing news. She was pregnant by her boyfriend of only a short time who was older than she was. She was scared and anxious but she was also strong and resilient.

She decided to keep her baby when abortion would have been an easy option.

She made the best of her life and tried to make it work with her baby's father as long as she could until she just couldn't anymore.

She worked hard, long hours, sometimes at multiple jobs just to make a better life for herself and her children.

She got very lucky when her oldest child was a young teenager and met the man of her dreams. In a whirlwind relationship they got married and it appears that they will live happily ever after.

Today her oldest child turns 36. (Or 38 if you ask him how old he feels)

Because you see, this isn't my story. Yet. Although it has all the beginnings of mine in some sense.

This story is about my mother in law, Leslie.

On this day in 1974 she gave birth at the ripe old age of 16 to my wonderful husband. She named him Micah after the book and prophet in the Bible. She took him to church, she played with him, she raised him and his brother with love and grace despite some really, really, hard times.

She gave me the best gift I could have ever asked for.

She continues to be one of my people who offer guidance and inspiration on how to live an honest and worthy life.

She gave birth to my best friend. She nursed the kindest man I know. She rocked to sleep my rock. She raised the love of my life.

Thank you Leslie.

Happy Birthday my sweetheart.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What little brothers are good for

According to Lizzie they are good for all sorts of things like being the "prince" when she is the princess:

Or sharing their Gerber baby snacks.

But Saturday revealed something else little brothers are good for:

Apparently they also make a really good footrest.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm not sad for me, I'm sad for you

"Does it get better?" she asks me, wet eyes seeking mine.

"It does." I answer.


"Everyday it's a little better. Today is better than when you got the call. Tomorrow will be better than today."

"I don't feel better."

"Some days you can't feel the better. Some days you're so numb you wouldn't know better if it smacked you upside the head and called you Earl."

She laughs.

"I still get mad and then I feel worse than before." She confesses.

"Me too."

"Really?" She seems surprised.

"Yep. Some days I'm so mad I can't talk. Some days I'm so sad that I feel like I'm drowning. But those days are less and less now. Mostly it's just around her birthday and the day she died."

"So that won't go away?"

"No, probably not. Or if it does it takes longer than 5 years. Or maybe just a better person."

"I wish I had known. I wish I had time to tell her...."she starts to cry.

"You never would have felt like it was enough. I promise you. You would constantly wish for one more day, one more phone call, one more conversation. It would never be enough."

"I try to see her in my dreams but I never do." She's crying in full now.

"I was so mad for a long time too. Everyone else saw my Mom in their dreams but me. It was like she said goodbye to everyone else but ignored me. Months later she finally came to me in a dream.

She told me that she had heard I wanted to talk to her one last time. She sat down at my kitchen table and told me about Heaven. She described it kinda like Florida for retired people. She complained about the smallness of her garbage can. She was wearing a pink sparkly shirt, something she never would have worn before. She told me she loved me. She told me she was proud of me. She told me she was sorry she had to go so soon." now I'm crying and laughing.

"So you think I'll still see her?"

"I do. But you can't make that happen. You have to trust that you'll get the message you're supposed to get when you're supposed to get it."

"I still want to call her. Everyday."

"I still pick up the phone to call her sometimes. Or I think to myself, I can't wait to tell Mom about this." I'm pulling myself together finally.

"I don't know who else to talk to. I'm sorry I made you cry."

"You didn't make me cry. I'm sad for you. I'm so sorry you have to go through this."

I mean it. I'm really not crying for my mom.

I'm crying because she just lost hers.

For my friends Kim and Theresa who both have lost their mothers in the last 6 weeks. It really does get better.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kylie in Fall

Kylie's Fairplay photos are vastly different to me than either Lizzie's or Will's. She is still more often, she knows how to hold herself. She wants the photo to turn out a certain way and so she holds her body, her face, her gaze in such a way as to reflect what she wants.

Or something like that.

Regardless, her photo's turned out well in color but they become more interesting to me, more artistic, when they are turned into Sepia tones.

This is, without a doubt, my favorite shot of Kylie that day. I like her smile, it's generally off the cuff and the trees above it make is so interesting to me.

The eye's have it.

She actually was just walking out of the forest of trees like Lizzie had. Except where as Lizzie was all movement and energy Ky was all deep thoughtful.
This was an accidental in picture. In color you can tell that it's just Ky waiting for me to tell her what to do and to be ready to take her picture. In black and white it looks like she's contemplating something deep. Like how much wood COULD a wood chuck chuck?

The name + tree shot. I love her smile here.

One of the things about Micah and I working together is that he tends to think Macro and I tend to think Micro when it comes to photo's. What that roughly means it, I tend to think about the eyes and what is within a foot of the subject's face where as Micah tends to think about where their feet are and what is above them. These photos were a collabortation of each of us mostly with Micah whispering "Bring it out, we can focus in on the small details later".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lizzie in Fairplay

Lizzie is, without a doubt, my most excitable child (unless you mention money to Kylie, then she's got her sister beat). She is just enthusiastic over EVERYTHING.

When we drove to the mountains I told her it was so we could take pictures. She only wanted to play. Well take pictures and play.

When we left after less than 2 hours she was devastated. She really would have been content to be in the woods the entire trip. With my following her around and taking pictures.

Lizzie's pictures beg to be left in color. Where William has a black and white that turned out lovely and Kylie's photos, once changed to black and white are both fascinating and, I don't know, magical (although her color pictures are lovely as well), none of Lizzie's photo's beg to be black and white. We tried, don't get me wrong, we tried to change them. But they begged to be put back.

I think it's because black and white photo's generally make me think of calm and stillness. And nothing about Lizzie really says "calm and still". Instead she says "happy and bright" and so her photo's are left in their amazing color straight out of the camera. (Except for one. I'll tell you about that in a second)

Her preferred pastime. Running through the trees.

Don't tell anyone but this is the side of the outhouse/shed.

I did this first with Kylie, against the shed/outhouse and Lizzie was immediately under foot wanting to do it too. She even posed like Ky had.

This is the picture I slightly amped up in the processing. Truthfully we didn't amp up much of it though, it was pretty vivid as it was.

Micah's mom and step dad (dad) have this tree with everyone's names written on it. (Except curiously I didn't see mine, Micah's OR Will's) I had each girl stand by her name and took pictures. The first batch of Lizzy were ADORABLE but were almost black for reasons I don't understand. So we did a second round but she was over it by then and wanted to go play. So this is the only one that turned out without a weird face or slouch or blink. I think it's good anyway.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Williams pictures were fairly easy. Micah held him for a few and then we put him by the bird seed. Easy peasy.

The bird seed idea was actually Micah's mothers idea. Will and I had gone to Fairplay the weekend before to visit and she had taken him to hang out in the bird seed area.

To her amazement he became very quiet and still which is unusual for him since he currently is practicing his pterodactyl impression FREQUENTLY. And climbing. He is determined to learn how to climb things even before he can walk.

Yet, for the birds and chipmunks that hang out in the secluded area behind the cabins Will had no problem being still and silent. It was as though he suddenly decided he wanted to be a Ninja and this was his big rehearsal.

Most of his pictures are from the Birdseed Bench but I think they turned out pretty awesome.

Mr. Serious

My blue-eyed boy in the Aspen's. Micah is of course holding him while I crouch to take the picture. It wasn't easy but it was totally worth it.

Oh look! A Bird!

Refusing to look at Mommy.

I love this picture. The bird is SO close and Will is just focused on him like a missile. I love it more in black and white but then you can't see the bird.

Overall I gotta say, Will did pretty good for a 10 month old who sat in a car seat for almost 3 hours.

Of course on the way back he screamed ALMOST the entire way. Almost.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fairplay photos

Fairplay is a city in Colorado, not just good sportsmanship!

Micah's parents have property in the area between Fairplay and BuenaVista (known as Ranch of the Rockies) and so we went up there Sunday for birthday pictures, family pictures.

I tell people such detailed information about where we went because they ask. A lot. I'm killing birds with stones people.

We took a little over 500 pictures. They are not all winners. In fact, a large majority of them are not.

But the odds are in your favor when you take that many picture that a few will turn out well.

We got a LOT of good ones so for the next few days I'm just going to post one subject (aka child) and their photos and maybe tell a story or two about them.

It's not calling it in because I have to upload pictures.

I now present...the jump photo's.

I had this great idea to take pictures of all of us jumping in the air separately and then framing them in a mat.

Coaxing Kylie to jump was like begging a bull to give milk. It was tough. Unlike the bull scenario however, it was not impossible. There are probably 50 photo's leading up to this one and when Kylie sees that I've posted it on the Internet she'll likely freak out. Oh well. It's a cute photo.

Unlike her sister Lizzie needed no prodding and could not WAIT to do the jump picture. Sadly, because she is so light and tiny she didn't get much height but if you look you can JUST see her little pink feet emerging from the scrub brush.

Don't tell Micah I posted this picture. It's not his proudest moment. He says. I think it's awesome. He's holding The Boy and jumping in the small feat for an adult.

Even Will got in on the jumping action...and LOVED it. Dad's throw babies better than Mom's that's for sure.

So I'm sure now you're ready for my picture. Except, here's the thing. I forgot to take a picture of myself jumping. Or even to have Micah take a picture of the jumping that I would have done. Just, plain forgot.

So I may still frame those jump shots for this year and redo the theme next year, we'll see.

All in all though, the picture taking up in Fairplay made me very, very, Hoppy. (Ha! Couldn't resist!)