Friday, December 16, 2011

A follow up to "The Rebellion Begins"

Just a quick post to follow-up on my previous one on Daisy's school Holiday plans. (See here if you missed it.)

Despite having personally spoken to at least 10 people prior to that post, with the intent of trying to figure out why on earth a gift label needed to be so vague, nobody could provide a reasonable explanation and everyone was just as befuddled as me.

BUT, I forgot to consult the interwebs. Silly me.

My friend, Brandy, through a series of Facebook exchanges, finally made sense of it all for me: if bringing a book for the exchange was optional then so it follows that there may not be enough books to go around, so the school would have to make up the difference. Hence, nobody wants to embarrass the kids who did not bring the book (especially since that was their parents choice, not theirs) and some kids would end up with books from the school and others from school friends.

With a reasonable explanation I send a humble apology out into cyberspace (since I'm sure nobody at the school knows of this blog.) "To: My friend. From: Your friend", it is.

I still stand by not having to pay for school when there is no school. Sorry, you decide to provide no service, I should have to provide no payment. I think my issue with this was exacerbated by the fact that this scheduling information only reached me at the end of November. Fortunately, I have parents who are my back-up child care. Not everyone is so lucky.

Which brings me to the point of this follow-up post.

Once upon a time a wise friend (you know who you are) advised me against solutionless whining. At the very least it's unattractive and the very worst, it's darn right destructive. And as someone who likes nothing better than to get to the bottom of why things are not working right and then fix them (it's my thing, as you'll know if you've ever worked with me) I am going to do something about "this".

I am sending a proposal to the director of Daisy's school by email today and will report back later.

And if "this" is all a bit vague right now, it's intentionally so. Stay tuned...

The rebellion begins

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Daisy's school. She loves it. I love it. I love the teachers. I love the vibe. I'm very happy with it. But a couple of things are irking me right now...

The school is doing a little gift exchange for Christmas and, in keeping with the learning theme, we had to bring in a wrapped book to donate the exchange pile. Cool so far, I like it. Daisy will definitely not say no a new book. The problem is the school's instructions for the label.

TO: My friend
FROM: Your friend


I mean, why not just say "To you. From me"? And then, in that case, why even bother with a label at all? I think it's clear to even a toddler that the gift came from someone and is being given to someone; they don't need a label to explain that basic concept.

Then, there is the fact that 2 and 3 year olds can't read, so what the hell does it matter what the label says? Plus, what is the big deal about saying who the book is from? I totally get why it doesn't say who it is "to" but really what's the point in giving and receiving a gift if there is no joy or appreciation derived from either side when the recipient opens it?

Perhaps the intent is to ensure that any crappy book given doesn't reflect poorly on the child who gave it? Well, maybe if the gift had to say who it was from then there would be more pressure to present a worthy choice? And it's not like cost was an issue: we were told to spend no more than $10.

Maybe the teachers are worried that the receiving child will hate it, throw it across the room, and have a toddler-fit, thus upsetting the recipient? Well, what about the opportunity to teach kids the valuable lesson of appreciating gifts for the thought and effort not just whether or not it was on their wish list? Plus, won't most kids know which book is the one their family donated anyway? I know Daisy will. They may be only two but they're not stupid.

Finally, I find it hard to believe that a room of curious preschoolers will not ask the inevitable question: "Who bought me this?" And what will be the teachers' response? Will they say "Santa" delivered it? I'm guessing no or the "From" would have been Saint Nick himself.

So, I'm totally perplexed and quite pissed and the stupidity of it all.

Hence, I left the label off completely. I mean, there was no actual point in the label, so why waste one?

Unfortunately, husband let me down. He dropped Daisy and said, wrapped book off this week and when the teacher took it from him she examined it, determined it didn't have a label, and said she would put one on it for us. And what did Hubby say? Did he say "Actually, we left it off purposefully because we thought the wording made absolutely no sense"? No, he did not. He said "Ok," OK!? OK!!!!??????

Yes, he totally thwarted my rebellion, which is leading me to more drastic measures. I will now spend all weekend prepping Daisy for the gift exchange, making sure she relentlessly demands to know who her book is from and ensuring she loudly identifies the book we donated when it is pulled from the pile.

I will undo this P.C. insanity one way or another.

And while I'm ranting about the school... it's all but closed next week. Of course, there is no reduction in tuition which, over the Holidays, would be much appreciated. Sure, it's open on Monday (when Daisy doesn't attend anyway) and Tuesday, but Tuesday is basically a throwaway because school is only from 9am to 12:30pm and the whole day is dedicated to the Christmas concert, puppet show, and Santa visit... all of which we parents are expected to attend (which, of course, I will... happily.). What's even more annoying is that there is a sign-up sheet for parents to provide the food!

Let me get this straight: I pay you $700 a month; you eliminate one week of school and force me to find alternative care for my child but provide no refund; and THEN you want me to bring food to your Christmas celebration which, incidentally, I had to take time off to attend!?

Where's the Holiday spirit in that!?


And yes, I fully intend to pay no mind to the fact that this is my first post on here in months. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

From confusion and self doubt, clarity and focus

It came to me in the shower today. What makes my photography what it is. What is makes my sessions "mine".

So I had to write it down.

The four words I chose as my tagline for MbyM are: Fun. Fresh. Real. Memorable. That's where I started.

All my sessions are designed to be fun. We all look best when we're happy, don't we? So doing something you enjoy is the best place to start. I want to know: where do you (and your family) feel most comfortable being yourself? That's where we'll shoot. Doesn't matter if it's the park, the pizza parlor, or the local farmer's market. One client once told me that a session with me was like taking a walk in the park with friends. Yeah, like that.

It's the style of my photography, from concept to final editing. I like bright, happy colors, clean lines and clean light. Think about a basket of fresh fruit on a warm, summer's day. Yummy.

Although my sessions can run the gamut from staged and carefully-planned to completely loose and carefree, the goal is always to set you and your family up to capture real emotions and personalities. Often, I've found, these happen in the moments between moments. Sometimes we show up with a plan and your children are just not into it. It happens. We ditch the plan and we go with the flow. Whatever works. We'll get the shot. Promise.

It's in the title, so I should hope so! Everything from the session to the final photos should be something you remember fondly. I take time to bond with you, to get to know you, to make your session unique. Then, I edit your photos with that uniqueness in mind. There's no formula -  although there's always that MbyM "freshness". Finally, all my print products are delivered on high-quality professional printed, coated, and mounted photographic paper, ensuring that those memories last for generations. I have photos on my wall of my grandparents that I completely cherish. Back then photos were printed on some sturdy card-stock. We kind of got away from that with our inkjet printers and cheap WalMart prints that fade and whither all-too quickly. Let's save WalMart for vacation snapshots and capture something real, fresh, and memorable that lasts.

Sound good?


This now resides here.

Me happy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A creative condundrum

Yesterday I posted a request for feedback on Facebook, to help me choose 3-4 of my favorite photos to produce as samples both for client demonstration and a couple of events I am attending.

What came back was a bit of a surprise. Despite me being a big fan of color and really wanting to define myself as a "colorful photographer", the most popular images were black and white. One friend even went as far as to say that I should choose just black and white images to help me stand-apart.


I'll be honest... my heart sank. I don't want to be identified by my black-and-white images, or as the "black-and-white" photographer. Granted, these are just opinions and I am the ultimate decision-maker in how I define my work but it was a little jarring to realize that people connect more with my black and whites. Since I create images for other people, I cannot completely ignore what this is telling me.

There could be some logical reasons for this, of course.

First, I will readily admit that some images have a particular emotional pull for me and that, in many of these cases, I choose to edit those images as black and white because the color can distract from the emotion. So, maybe what people are reacting to is this relationship my black-and-white choices have to the emotionality of the images?

Secondly, maybe people, in general, prefer black and white images. Maybe I am alone in loving the beauty of color.

Lastly, of course, it could be that the way I process color images is not appealing. 

Hmmmm. Again.

Although I want to personally define how I creatively process images, I am interested in hearing YOUR constructive opinions here. 

What do you think is behind this? Is there something about my color images that is lacking for you? If so what? Or am I totally overanalyzing this?

If you need some reference point, I invite you to visit my website: and click on Portfolio, or visit my Flickr Stream at

What think you?


Friday, September 16, 2011

It's been a while...

... since I messed with of the I Heart Faces Fix it Fridays. But I loved this photo of this beautiful little girl so much, I was compelled to participate this week. Sometimes it's just so fun to edit someone else's image because you have no attathment to it, except for the aesthetic.

Since I'm keeping a tighter reign on the content of my Memories by Michelle blog these days, experimenting stuff will now come to Ms. Ranty Pants.

BEFORE / Straight out of Camera

AFTER / My edit

Fix It Friday 9.16.11 edit

See more cool edits over at I Heart Faces

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The knee post

As opposed to the hip posts of yore.

Sigh... yes... now knee problems.

And yes, my hip bone is connected to my thigh bone which is, in turn, connected to my knee bone. Hence, it's all connected.

More sighing.

As you know (and are no doubt tired of hearing at this point if you're friends with me on the Face Book) my right knee has been hurting, getting progressively more painful over the last few weeks. It started with some pain in my kneecap whenever I lunged during my workouts. So I backed-off for a bit, only to find that, without my regular PT workout (which includes lunges) my back began to hurt. The pain in my knee came back during certain lunges, however. Crap.

Then, all of a sudden, about a few weeks ago, it began to hurt walking up stairs also. Given I live in a 2 story home with an office and bedroom upstairs, this is a problem. Despite trying to stay away from aggravating activities, icing, and taking supplements like crazy, the pain progressed to a point where I had to crawl up the stairs yesterday.

Meanwhile, of course, my back is upset because it wants me to do my exercises that make IT happy.

Insolent little joints!

Today was my P.T. appointment. I'm not sure how many physical therapists this is for me now since 2005 but off the top of my head I can think of 5. I'd love to go back to my last PT who quite literally gave me my life back from S.I. joint and back pain, but the reality is that my insurance doesn't cover them and at $60 a time, I just can't do that right now.  Fortunately, I found another good therapist, Felicia, and she quickly put me through my paces.

The lamen's diagnosis is that my knee joint is a train that keeps veering off the tracks and, where it's crossing the line, there is friction and, therefore, pain. A more in-depth explanation is that my continued issues with a tight I.T. band (which extend back to before my hip surgery in '08), which connects from my glutes (which are, coinkidentally attached to my S.I. joint) mean my knee is being coaxed off the tracks. I also have a bit of a strained A.C.L., thankfully not torn but definitely causing destablization and exacerbating the problem. My knee, when I flex my quad muscle, is therefore being pulled up and out, to the side, causing the cartilage in the joint to rub and, potentially over time, degenerate.

Here's a pic to help those of you out who aren't big on anatomy (which I wasn't either until I started to hurt it.)

In the pic below you're seeing the front of the thigh. The tensor fascia lata on the left, connected to your glutes (butt muscles) at your hip and then turns into the I.T. band (Iliotibial tract) which then connects to the knee (patellar) and knee ligament. Fascinating, huh? (Or... not.)

In short: there's no doubt about it. I'm not making it to my grave able-bodied.

The good news is that she does not think I need surgery. Hallelujah because I really thought this was another kind of impingement that would require more people cutting into me, more recovery, more P.T. and back on that whole cycle again. No way. NO. WAY.

The bad news is that I have to add a whole new set of exercises to my P.T. repertoire to stretch my I.T. band, strengthen my glutes, and coax my knee back onto the tracks. Seriously, I could make doing my P.T. exercises a full time job at this point. There's the neck and shoulder exercises, the lower back and hip exercises, and now the knee exercises. All told, I can work out for 90 minutes just on this stuff alone. And many of the exercises should be done >1x a day!

Felicia also conceded that the hip surgery likely had something to do with all this. Since I had the surgery, whenever I lay down at night, my leg turns outward - I just can't stop it - and this is because my I.T. band is tight. It was tight before the surgery, likely pissed off by the traction during the surgery, and never really released after the surgery.

And so back to P.T. I go, 2x a week for 3 weeks. Because, you know, I have nothing better to do on my lunch hour.

I'll keep you posted. (I know, the suspense will kill you.)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Random Thursday night thoughts...

On Thursday nights I get a night off of bedtime duty. It's just an extra 30 minutes in my day but I'll take every extra second I can get these days.

So, on Thursday night, I have thoughts.

Random, adult thoughts. (Gasp.)

And so, for your pleasure, and in no particular order, here they are:

  1. There are not enough teenage vampire TV shows in the world. I am SOOOOO excited for the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries, it's embarrassing. All hail September and new shows!
  2. Two year olds are a force of nature. At what point in our lives do we lose that kind of power? Yeah, yeah, I know, if we all behaved like toddlers all the time, the world would come to a very ugly and untimely end. But what I'm thinking about is the energy, the power, the sense that you can bend the world around you to your will. I hope there is some way to bring Daisy up as a productive citizen without having her lose this spirit because, correctly channeled, it is powerful and empowering. She sure is a daily inspiration (and challenge) to me!
  3. I am having SO. MUCH. FUN. with Memories by Michelle, it should be illegal. Working on the website, the branding, the new materials... it's just hitting all my creative and strategic hot-buttons. Unveiling the new website ( was like giving birth to a second child. I also have a Google ad campaign working out there, am looking into other online advertising opportunities, and am working on promotional materials for grass-roots promotions. I am LOVING all of this. Yes, I love the photography most of all but the fact that I get to make my own decisions on marketing, design, copywriting after 15 years in the corporate world... LIBERATING and EXHILERATING. Yep. 
  4. I AM REALLY TIRED OF MY BROKEN BODY. My knee pain is know knees pain and getting worse. WTF!?  Bad knees mean I can't do my other P.T. exercises for my back which equals... bad back Gimmeabreak!
  6. I am ridonkulously excited about having joined a new gym. Yup, I took the plunge. I joined Rollingwood Raquet Club, just a quick 15 minute walk or 5 minute bike-ride from my house. It's so close, trying to form an excuse as to why I can't make it would be pathetic. Plus, my mum joined with me and we're going to go together 2 days a week. After trying the at-home workout-video path and being stuck with #4 and a general sense of lethargy and boredom, I signed-up for a 7-day pass, fully expecting to "fail" at this routine also. But something funny happened. I got into that gym and I felt myself be "myself" for the first time in a long time. I grabbed some dumbells, stood in front of a mirror, and felt just a little bit giddy. I remembered my former self, when I was strong, fit, and powerful and I saw remnants of that "me" in the mirror; I wanted more. I'm excited to start a new routine beginning tomorrow!
  7. I am seriously depressed that I have not even been able to find the time to see the final Harry Potter movie. I've been DYING to get to the theater since it came out. FAIL.
Alrighty then. Ending on an odd number and heading to bed to torture myself with a travel essay or two.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Let me be clear...

I am only having one child. 

This is not a fleeting thought. It's not the mad ramblings of someone who hasn't yet "recovered" from baby #1. It's not something I'll "get over", "move beyond" or otherwise change my mind about. 

This is a considered decision, jointly, by me and my husband, as a team, around what we want from life, the lifestyle we want to lead, where our priorities lie, what we feel we are capable of and what kind of parents we want to be. It has nothing to do with me being an only child and I have not strong-armed him into making this decision with me. We made our decision about only having one child much the same way we made our decision to have a child at all: with much thought and planning.  

It's also not something I will change by "accident". I am not a teenager with uncontrollable urges who thinks she can "get away with it".  Included in our plan is a pretty fail-safe method to ensure no accidents, thankyouverymuch.

This is not to say that I think that having an only child is the way to go for everyone. It's our personal decision much the same way that you having more than one child or none at all, is for you.  

There is nothing wrong with having multiple children, as many as you want and can provide for. It's probably fantastic to have siblings. I don't personally have any but I'm sure that I would have been equally as happy in my life if I had. If you have siblings, I'm also sure that you would have been just as happy as an only child. Seriously, I know this is hard to grasp because you love your brothers and sisters and cannot imagine life without them - as it should be. But you can't miss or mourn what you never had.

As an only child, my daughter will not be lonely or unsociable. But thanks for your concern. When I was a child, my house was always full of children; my friends, who loved to come over and hang out at my house. As an adult I consider myself to be sociable, outgoing, and no more selfish than the average person, so I think it's safe to say that being an only didn't turn me into a social pariah. Incidentally, I know plenty of selfish, unsocial folks with siblings: just sayin' 

There is also nothing wrong with having no children by choice. It's not selfish to recognize that parenthood is not for you. In fact, if you did have that realization and decided not to have children, I applaud you. Society begs you to be otherwise at every turn but having a child just because it's what everyone else does is a piss-poor reason, IMHO. 

In short, no matter your parental (or non-parental) status, whether you have brothers or sisters or are an only child, I do not judge you nor ask you to defend your decision. I may not understand your reality but that doesn't mean I don't respect your choice. I don't ask you "if you're sure" when you decide to have baby number 3, nor espouse the many joys of parenthood you're missing out on, if you've decided to have none. We all make decisions that are right for us and this one is right for our family. 

This post is directed at nobody in particular, by the way. I know a recent exchange occurred on Facebook on this topic but I am not mad at anyone or about anybody's comments. But the comments did spur me to write this post because they are part of an ongoing conversation that my husband and I continue to have with people in general, about our decision. 

As there becomes an increasing number of only children in the population I hope the attitude toward only children and their parents changes. There has been a stigma associated with this lifestyle choice for a long time and it is without empirical merit - read this if you're interested in learning more.

Comments on this post are disabled because this is not a subject up for discussion. Thanks for understanding.

Friday, August 19, 2011


One of the very many reasons I love my friends and love meeting new people is because they bring perspective to my life.

I'm the sort of person who is never happy with where I'm at in life, I'm always wanting to strive for the next new thing, create the next goal, the next project; change this, move that. This doesn't mean I am "never happy" just that I am always trying to get to "anywhere but here", both geographically and in terms of this moment in time.

My "anywhere but here" issue of late is my day job. You know, the one that pays all those pesky bills. I don't hate it but I don't love it. It's certainly not my passion. However, it has a lot of perks: I work from home, I don't have anyone breathing down my neck (most days), I control my own schedule, and I get a lot of input into how the company is run. Am I sick-and-tired to the hilt of being "coached", "assessed", and "moulded"? Absofrickinlutely! But would I want to work anywhere else? You know, in one of those cubicle farms with a supervisor and all that? Ughh... no. (I firmly believe myself to be unsupervisable.)

Today I met with another local photographer and now, I hope, friend, and we chatted about business stuff. She does this full time, lucky gal, and she is looking at making some changes in her business. As a result, she's going through a lot of the same stuff I am right now: pricing, web content, branding, direction...

What I realized in that chat is that, as much as the golden-handcuffs are 8 hours of my day where I am not pursuing my passion, they provide me with some financial freedom to take chances and fail; risks that are much more nail-biting when photography is your main income, your livelihood. The stakes are higher, the ramifications greater if you don't make the right decision.

So, while I still dream of a life where I have a regular stream of business and income from photography, and where I can cut those chains to my corporate life, right now I am given the luxury of experimenting with my business on my own time, in my own way, and without the fear of failure.

Like I said, perspective.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Neck, shoulders, hip, back, and knee

Yeah, it's been that kind of week (or so).

The past week or two I had been dealing with muscle spasms in my shoulders. This is a recurring thing that happens to me when I am under a lot of stress. It happens once or twice a year maybe and passes in a couple of weeks. I have some good PT exercises to speed-up the recovery and a great massage therapist to push the timeline further.

Last Saturday, as I was heading up to Lake Tahoe with Mum and Daisy, I finally felt my shoulders release with a deep exhale. Driving long distances is very therapeutic to me and just the thought of the long drive ahead allowed me to let everything go.

Ahhhhhhhhhh. Sweet relief!


I picked Daisy up in a hurry as we were leaving the beach and strained my lower back and left I.T. band (a tendon that runs from your butt down the outside of your thigh and connects to your knee.) Ouch. Again, not a new thing for me. Back to some old PT exercises to release it.

It just started getting better a couple of days ago and then, hey presto, my right knee started getting shooting pains whenever I lunged forward to kneel down or (now) walk up or down stairs.

I mean, can I get a break PLEASE!?

Knee pain is new for me, sadly. Fortunately, at least right now, it is only hurting in those certain planes of motion I mentioned and there is no obvious swelling. Performing some Google research suggests that I probably have patellar tendinitis (also known as Jumper's Knee), likely a result of the increased number of plyometric workouts I have been doing to get back in shape. (So much for that.)

I have an appointment with my doctor next week for a regular cracky-cracky and we'll see what he says.

All I can say for certain is this: I AM NOT GETTING KNEE SURGERY. I am so done with surgeries. I just hope this doesn't result in months and months of physical therapy again, because I'm kinda done with PT too. I don't have time for this (or the money!)

Groan. I hate to be a moaner but nothing puts me in a worse mood than physical limitations.
edited to add:

Shortly after writing this post I got excrutiating nerve pain in my lower back and hips; pain I have not had in a long, long time. I literally had to ice it until my ass was a popsicle, medicate with NSAIDS and do yoga breathing until I fell asleep sitting up. The side effect? Pain in my knee appears to be all but gone.

The ever-so-delicate phrase WHAT THE F***!? springs to mind.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tilt shift

WOW. Most days your life's axis operates on a relatively even keel. The odd wobble here and there but otherwise, you manage to keep your balance.

Other days, something happens to tip your axis. Someone gives it a nudge at the right time and in the right way and before you know it, life is spinning in a different direction.

That was my day yesterday.


It was a day of dichotomies. The first half of the day was filled with life and self-affirming positivity and the second half with professional frustration and challenge. Yet, strangely enough, both situations were closely linked.

Let me explain. (it may take a bit but hang in there.)

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to her favorite photographer, based here in Sacramento. (For a few reasons, I'm going to keep the photographer's name out of this post but email me if you want to know who she was.) Anyway, I of course checked out said photographer's site. To say her work was unusual for the Sacramento market, was an understatement. There is really nobody else I have found like her in this area. Put your feelers out to the Bay Area or further afield - sure - but here, in good-ole Sac, notsomuch. Which is not to say that there aren't great photographers here - there truly are - but this lady is an artist. Everything about her work and her branding have a distinction and style that is clearly and personally defined. Her entire body of work has a voice. It slapped me around the face quite quickly that she was unique. (I'm also guessing that, since my friend is in the sales/marketing field, she got slapped similarly.)

After perusing the website, I found a paragraph about the photographer herself and part of that addressed budding photographers who were looking to pick her brain. While she doesn't host workshops or mentoring sessions, her words suggested that she was open to sharing some inspiration with me, if I got in touch. Which I did. And she was.


She agreed to meet me for some coffee. Yesterday was our coffee-date.

I admit, I went in almost without agenda. I had a short list of questions I wanted to ask but no clear goal for what I wanted out of the session. Honestly, I didn't know how much she would be comfortable sharing and I wanted to be respectful of that fact; it's one thing to nurture new, local photographers in your community, another to give-up your hard-won experience and insights for the price of a cup of coffee.  If nothing else, I thought I would get to meet and learn more about the person behind the work and come away having had a nice chat about photography.

Man, did I underestimate this lady.

In many ways, our conversation was very esoteric, which is typically not my comfort zone. At the risk of stereotyping our deeply complex and multi-faceted personalities, she is a calm and thoughtful owl and I am a panting, over-enthusiastic puppy dog. I don't know if that makes sense, maybe it does, maybe it doesn't but without 500 words, I don't know how else to boil it down for a blog post. But that's how I felt during the conversation. She speaks slower than me; she has a steady gaze to my darting eyes; and her body language is calm while I constantly fidget and gesticulate. And, while I have spent the last fifteen years of my life learning to say fifteen words when only five will do, in order to package every question or thought for public consumption, she discards the package, removes the fluff, and dives right into the issue before her. Her ability to read between my words, digest my randomly expressed thoughts, and interpret my body language within such a short period of time and then poke me in the ribs with her laser-focused and spot-on insight, was uncanny and a little unsettling.

In many ways, I felt very jealous of her path to her passion and saw starkly, in just that short time, how our lives had shaped us. She went to art school, has been mentored by great photographers, and has followed the artist's path through her life, being positively encouraged to nurture the expression of her innermost self to feed her art. I, on the other hand, have spent the last 15 years in the corporate world, being encouraged to suppress and/or change my expression of my innermost self to suit other people. The fact that we approach photography through different lenses is therefore unsurprising.

I am not ashamed to say I left in tears. Good tears. It was exactly what I needed to hear and never even knew it.

Like I said, it was a tad esoteric so some of it was "you had to be there" dialogue, however, let me summarize what I got out of our hour together:
  1. I need to stop looking at other people's work. I am overstimulated and distracted by it and it is preventing me from defining who I am as a photographer.
  2. I need to work from within. Forget (most) workshops, classes, guides, actions, presets... what do I really want to get out of them? How to learn to be someone else? What I have to offer as a photographer is already inside me. It's my own artistic vision not someone else's vision, it's who I am when I'm with my clients not who I think I should be, that will help me be the best that i can be. I can't get that from someone else. I have to spend time nurturing it within and pulling it out of me.
  3. The words that resonate for "my style" are: contrast, color, drama, warmth emotion, clean lines, and a little whimsy. Make everything about these words from the way I take the photo, to the way I edit it, to the way I brand myself. 
  4. Don't blog every session, only your best work. 
  5. Spend less time editing. Significantly less time. I mean like, cut it down by two thirds. Whoah! This one smacked me in the face. What am I fixing? Either I took a good photo or not. Either I know what my editing style is or not.
  6. Find beauty in the world around you. Be content in yourself and thankful for your life and express that through your art. Beauty comes from within. (This isn't something I can just turn-on, granted, but it's worth remembering.)
  7. Learn off-camera flash. (I've been wanting to do this anyway.)
  8. Take pictures of 30 things that are ugly and make them beautiful.
  9. Take one picture a day, every day of the same thing, from a unique perspective.
  10. Breathe and slow down. Get out of my head and into the moment. Focus on being present with my surroundings and my subjects. (#1 will help with this.)
  11. Forget weddings. Not forever necessarily but for now. Go back to why I got into this in the first place - I love taking portraits. Quite apart from anything else, being gone at least one full weekend day every weekend during the summer, does not work well for my family. 
Like I said before, in a lot of ways all of this is like asking me to undo what I've spent several years doing to myself.  I can't even begin to express here what a huge thing that is to me. If your life hasn't been like this it may be hard to connect with. Yet in no way am I saying that the last 15 years of my life were bad or worthless - in fact I learned many, many valuable things that will benefit my photography business. But what I'm trying to get across is that this is a completely different skillset, a completely different way of approaching "your job". I mean, like a whole 180. I feel like a coat that all of a sudden has to be able to turn inside out and become reversible.

LOL. I know, you're thinking: that's a lot for one coffee date. Like I said, I was surprised myself. It was quite possibly one of the most valuable hours I have ever spent with a stranger.

And wasn't the timing perfect, given my post of just the day before?

Clearly, I have a lot to think about. At the same time, I feel more focused and am generally re-energized. I can't wait for my next client session, truly, because each session opens up a new opportunity for me to work on all this stuff - as well as, of course, delivering some cool images for my clients!

Speaking of which, right when I say I'm going to do fewer sessions, I get three inquiries from my website and schedules three new sessions this week. Isn't that how life always happens?

In terms of the other half of my day, I can't really share too much because it's a work thing and I don't blog about work things for a multitude of reasons. Let's just say that something went down that has big impact to the company and to me , was not my fault, and where the responsible party will not take ownership of the problem or the solution and is, in fact, placing the "lesson" on my doorstep. There is history and back-story here that would take forever to explain but the long and short of it is that I'm fed up with overcompensating for other people's weaknesses.

Not only did it result in one of the most challenging phone conversations of my entire career, the eventual outcome wound up telling me a lot about the priorities of the company I work for and I can't say I'm too happy about them. Such is life, I guess.

How is this related to the first half of the day? Well because the message of being true to myself resonated here too. I ditched allowing myself to be the punching bag, treading on eggshells for a quiet life, and dealing with the issue from a place of "I'm bound to be wrong" (and by wrong I mean ME as a person being wrong, not me being wrong about something. Different things.) 
Instead, I was authentic and honest in my response to the situation. It made it harder work, more emotional, more challenging, and ultimately I'm sure there will be repercussions. But the one thing I can say for sure is that I am not second-guessing my decision to handle it the way I did and I will not apologize for it in retrospect either.

I have no doubt that this will only further entrench certain people's opinion of me as being overbearing and stubborn or however I have been previously pigeon-holed but I actually just don't care anymore. Here am I in one area of my life being called upon to nurture who I am and bring that out in a positive way and it only calls to attention even more the other half of my life where I am constantly being negatively judged for who I am asked to be someone else. Like I said, dichotomies.

Not sure where that leaves me but there you go. I'm just going to let this loose-end flap in the breeze for a while and be ok with it.

In the meantime, me and my camera are gonna have some fun.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Learnings and reflections on being a part-time photographer

    I just finished editing my very first wedding photo shoot.

    For a first foray into the wedding photography world, I think I did ok. I mean, I've been to weddings, I've been a bride twice, and I immerse myself in the work of other photographers doing this kind of thing every day. But outside of that, I've never been a 2nd-shooter with a professional photographer and have never been through the flow of a wedding from the perspective of a photographer.

    So, I knew, up-front, that I had a lot to learn. I wasn't wrong.

    Here are my key take-aways:

    1. Patience and focus. Don't let external variables, personalities, or timelines distract from what you have been hired to do. (Which is not to say, be stubborn and inflexible, just focused.) This is obviously easier to do if you have a ton of experience under your belt and the process is old-hat.
    2. Pre-wedding communication. How are the couple scheduling their day? Have they built in enough time (with cushion, for the inevitable delays) for you to get the shots they need?
    3. Alignment with your style and goals. Is the photography as important to the bride and groom as the results will be to you? Is their style of wedding one that matches your style of photography and your goals for your portfolio? This relates to a whole set of variables: time to take photos; tolerance of the bridal party for getting the images you would like to get to make them happy; how comfortable the bride and groom will be working with you etc...
    4. Posing. I typically lean toward a more candid style of photography but, for weddings, you need to give your subjects more direction. I think this will come with experience. I'd really love to work as an assistant/2nd-shooter for an experienced photographer at this point. I feel the "lacking" if you know what I mean.
    5. Time to edit = a lot. My biggest challenge, doing this after my day job, was finding a clear block of time to edit the photos. It took me a few weeks, which is no time at all for a full-time photographer (most of whom take 6+ weeks) but usually this is at least in part because the photographer also has other sessions to edit. I felt the process lacked creative consistency for me because I was editing in 1-2 hour fits and spurts. By the time I was half way through I almost wanted to go in a different direction with the style of the edits but then had already committed myself and didn't have time to change the first half. All of this means I lost my momentum and enthusiasm (not entirely but I was feeling overwhelmed/dejected.) Honestly, I had a hard time with the editing, run out of steam, and I think it showed in the final product.
    6. Time. Time. Time. Weddings require a lot of time, a lot of focus, a lot of creative energy both in preparation, on the day, and subsequently in choosing and editing the final photos... or, at least, this one did for me. Right now, this is hard for me to fit into my life. It makes me question if this is an aspect of photography I should pursue right now. 
    Don't get me wrong, I make this sound negative: it wasn't. I had a great time and I'm thankful for the opportunity. Learning about where you need to improve is just as important as having a positive experience that reaffirms your strengths.

    Yet, as I think about the next 12 months for Memories by Michelle, I have a definite vision for where I want to go, what I want to achieve (creatively and from a business perspective) and it all seems a little overwhelming. I just don't have the time to devote to it that I want/need to do things to the standard that will make me satisfied. Further, I know I have made choices this past year that don't fit in with where I want to go in the next 12-18 months

    Part of what this wedding, and the build-up to it with a ton of sessions this year, has taught me is that, as I referred to in #5 and #6, to achieve what I really want to achieve with my photography, at the standard at which I want to achieve it, I need to be more strategic in the way I approach my sessions.

    Basically, I need to do fewer sessions to avoid burnout, and only accept clients whose vision for their end product not only matches where I want to go with my photography but also makes the time I spend working on the images worthwhile from a business perspective. Otherwise I run the risk of losing steam, getting sloppy, and devaluing what I want to achieve in the long term.

    It's been an interesting and fun 12 months on this ride so far but I'm tired and I feel it - which is not a good place to be when you need to pour your passion and enthusiasm into your work. I've loved every one of my photo sessions (32 in 9 months) and have learned so much but now I feel I need some space. Some time to do some workshops, attend some seminars, and experiment with different techniques. At the same time, I don't want to stop doing sessions. I want to BUILD this business still. I want to move forward. I just wish I could press pause for a while.

    Let's not even get into: the time away from my daughter (both mentally and physically); the strain on my husband and our relationship (do we have one right now?); the fact that my relationship with my parents has pretty much paired-down to seeing them as I drop off/pick-up my daughter; the housework and laundry that rarely gets done; the fact I haven't watched a TV program in months and have very little idea of what's going on in the world; and the short-term memory lapses that result from being spread too thin and that drive everyone in the family crazy.

    No, this is not a woe-is-me post. I am not seeking sympathy. These things just are. They're a reality, a trade-off to pursue a dream, and I have to take note of them before they spiral out of control. I've been out of balance and I need to fix that.

    So, I feel in a bit of a quandry. I'm sure it's not unique and I'm sure I'll push through it but I'm trying to absorb everything I am feeling, process it, and turn it into positive action.

    I'll share as I go along. Of course, advice is always appreciated.

    Friday, July 08, 2011

    10 random stream-of-consciousness wants and wishes

    1. I STILL want to de-clutter my house. I just don't have the time. But I notice that the busier I am, the more untidy and more cluttered my environment is but the more frustrated I become because I don't have time to waste looking for things.
    2. I wish I knew where my brain cells went. I feel like my cerebrum has been lobotomized. I have almost no short term memory to speak of. I am always losing, misplacing, or forgetting things. (See #3)
    3. I want to find my house/car keys. It's really bothering me. I have two sets and one of them I used on Monday during our driveway fireworks session to open my car and get my tripod out. Haven't seen them since. I'm kinda worried I left them on the grass or the driveway somewhere and some random person picked them up and plans to either steal my car or cart-off all the stuff in my house (if they can find any of it under the clutter.)
    4. I wish I knew what died in my fridge. We've cleaned it out from top to bottom but still, every time we open that door, it smells like 4 month old chicken breasts. GAG.
    5. I wish I could stop thinking about planning a vacation. Every inch of me is itching, except for the part of me that says: you can't afford it. (Note: this is usually the part of my brain that is wildly out-voted - possibly why I never actually "have" the money to go on vacation. Hey, maybe American Express lobotomized me for this exact reason!?)
    6. I want to have time to take my 52-week pictures BEFORE they're due. I so want to be creative but the time just eludes me. This week's topic is "windows". Betcha there's some cool shots to be had Downtown. Not going to make it there, though, so maybe I have to clean the windows of my house grab my #1 prop - my daughter - as second-best idea.
    7. I wish I could take away the troubles of a few of my friends right now.  Some people who I am very close to are going through a tough time - the kind of tough time where you're sort of at a loss to do anything to help them. If you're reading this and can think of anything, friends, just email or call, k?
    8. I want a pool in my back yard. OK, I said it. It's too expensive, financially it doesn't fit in with my life plans, and realistically it's not going to happen for those reasons and more but I want it. I want it like a kid wants candy before bedtime. 
    9. I want an assistant. A free one, of course. I could be so much more productive with someone to do all the little things, ya know? Anyone at a loose end and independently wealthy may apply by posting in comments with their email address. Thanks!
    10. I want book 11 of the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries. I've just finished #10 and my friend has #11. I am so tempted to run over there and get it from her but I'm delaying the pleasure because it's the last one right now. Plus, in the meantime, I can actually FINALLY finish reading my e-book on setting up Memories by Michelle as a profitable business and brand for 2012, or watch one of my many photo tutorial DVDs at night instead. Oh, but what I really want is hot, vampire sex.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2011

    Our 4th of July...

    ... was supposed to be like this:


    ... but wound up like this.


    Sigh. Parenthood. Full of curve balls.

    In short, my 4th of July weekend was supposed to go like this:

    1. Arrive in Tahoe on Friday afternoon. Reeeelax with my good friend, Kim.
    2. Wedding photo shoot on Saturday. Return home. Drink wine with Kim. Watch our kids play.
    3. Sunday and Monday. Swim in the lake. Drink wine. Hang out with family and friends. Reelax.
    Instead, my Friday was hijacked by my day job. Completely insane amounts of work. My drive up to Tahoe was 3 hours long, stuck in traffic. The wedding went great but on Saturday night Daisy did not sleep barely a wink. I think I got 4 hours of sleep... intermittently. On Sunday morning it was obvious that things were not heading in the right direction: Daisy was lethargic and unhappy. By Sunday afternoon, she wouldn't sleep and had a temperature. Hubby and I conceded: we probably needed to go home. Nothing wonderful could be achieved by staying in Tahoe with a sick toddler who was constantly whining for home.

    So we left the house we'd rented with friends in Tahoe, the beautiful 80 degree weather, and drove back down to the hellish heat of Sacramento, exhausted and dejected.

    I was not only pissed that we'd wasted money on a vacation rental we had barely had time to enjoy but I had really looked forward to spending some time with my good friend, Kim, and relaxing for a couple of days before heading back home to my insane schedule. It just seemed horribly unfair, given how stressed I had been about getting up there in the first place: the preparation, the packing, the trying-to-close-out-work, all with little pay-off. Sigh.

    Instead we abused my willing mother and passed our sick toddler off to her for the majority of July 4th, while Hubby and I sought an afternoon's break from the heat at the movie theater. We then bought $90 of ear-piercingly loud fireworks, which we half-heartedly set-off in front of our house the minute the sun went down.

    As it turns out, it was just as well we left Tahoe. A visit to the pediatrician this morning confirmed that Ms. Daisy has a raging ear infection. Poor kid has had a low-grade fever for a few days now, her nose won't stop running, and her eyes are watering like crazy. I feel so bad for her (and us!)


    Here are some photos from the two halves of our doomed weekend.


    Hudson, who Daisy was having a blast with until... well... you know.


    Hudson and Kim, braving the FREEZING lake water.


    The calm before the storm



    Beautiful Lake Tahoe, where the water was clear, the temps relatively cool, and where snow still capped the mountains.


    Back down to triple-digit heat and a more low-key 4th.






    For all July 4th photos, click here.

    This is the 2nd of 3 Independence Days as parents that have been goddamned awful. I am living in hope that future ones will prove to be more fun.

    Maybe it's the ghosts of the Founding Fathers paying some kind of rotten joke on the Brit?

    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    Orangevale Farmer's Market

    I live in Orangevale, CA. It's one of those unincorporated backwaters of Sacramento County, stuck between the more prestigious zip codes of Fair Oaks, Roseville, and Folsom. Where they have new home developments, manicured lawns, and higher-end retail, we have horse property, farm animals, wild turkeys, dusty roads, and a bit of a reputation for being quirky. I kinda like that about it. We're close to everything but without the burden of having to host any of it. Of course, I'd rather be downtown in a big city, but that's a whole other conversation. As far as areas of Sacraghetto go, it's one of the better ones.

    Recently, the local Dairy Queen (hub of Ovale, second only to WalMart, of course) decided to start a Farmer's Market. You know how these things go: you show up ready for some major fruit and veggie deliciousness and find one, lone dude peddling funny looking strawberries. Well, my parents showed up expecting more a couple of weeks ago, got talking with the owners, and hey-presto the Farmer's Market became fruits, veggies, and "crafts".

    And that's how my parents wound up with a 10x10 outside Dairy Queen tonight, selling little bags and trinket-type things that they couldn't sell in previous retail ventures.

    We turned it into family night. Burgers, fries and blizzards on the dusty pavement.








    Yeah, we know how to have a good time around these here parts.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    What I'm working on, that keeps me from blogging

    A business plan for Memories by Michelle for 2012. Yes, 2012. There are a lot of components:
    • Pricing (how do I make money!? can I!?)
    • Market Positioning (who am I? where do I fall in the grand scheme of local photographers? how do I identify myself?)
    • Marketing strategy. Where are my 2012 clients coming from?
    • A new website. Flash or no flash? Simple and minimalistic or colorful and full of flair. The first will be cheaper, the latter will require thought, design $, AND programming $. Either way, I want it to reveal just as much about me and what it's like to work with me as it does about my photos themselves. Both are part of the experience.
    • A possible branding make-over (not losing the existing logo but expanding on it)
    Editing photos - there have been a lot of sessions lately... yay! Oh, and blogging about them. Blog previews, FB previews... trying to be everywhere at once.

    Scheduling new sessions - if you can believe it, I'm actually booking sessions for holiday cards. NO KIDDING. I also have my first wedding session this coming weekend in Lake Tahoe. Excited, scared, excited...

    The "other" job. It's busy. We're launching a new product in August. I'm doing marketing, promotion, P.R., sales and training videos, online live trainings, technical writing, sales strategy... I need more heads and hands.

    A vacation. I am just biting at the bit to see a softly sloping white-sand beach and a, calm, aquamarine sea. Oh, but the flights are SO expensive right now. I looked at Jamaica (of course) and 7 days for two adults and one kid is almost $12k - that's as much as our larger group of 4 adults and 1 infant paid in 2010!

    So, personal blogging is taking a backseat. In fact, I need to swoop out of the office right now to run to Daisy's school. Changing gears to Mummy mode....

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Welcome to my first foray into: Grab a beer and look at what I did last week

    My friend, Kimberly, of the much-loved local blog, Yep, they are all mine, started this thingumajig several weeks back where she took pictures she had taken throughout her weekly shenanigans and posted them along with some fun and sarcastic comments about what she and her gaggle got up to. It was so much fun that it became a weekly thing. And then it became a linky-thing. And everyone has been doing it. Well, that is, everyone but me. 

    (I know, this is where I say "I've been busy!"...yawn)

    Well, last week I said "NO. MORE." No more will I be left out in the blogger cold. No more would I miss the opportunity to shamelessly cross-promote myself on the blogosphere. No more would... Ok, right, you get it. And I should get on with it.

    So, quite literally, grab yourself a beer (or you beverage of choice - I know I have some mothers-to-be reading this and I don't want to be responsible for corrupting you and your fetus) and let's see what the hell I got up to last week. Which is still this week but, again, I digress on a technicality.


    Daisy said: "I want to stay home today, Mumma."


    I turned to Hubby and I think the look of panic on my face was plain. I had stayed home yesterday afternoon with her. Gulp. 

    We lounged around in the house in our PJs and did the odd little thing here and there. Like wash laundry...


    ... and fold laundry. Which Daisy promptly hijacked, unfolded, and ran off with.



    Predictably, we were out of the house by noon to Panera for lunch and to Safeway to buy some meat. You see, I had decided to give in to my inner domestic diva and cook my famous Winter Pot Roast.

    Yes, in June. Had I forgot to mention that it was cold and rainy? Yes, in California.

    Some of the ingredients, waiting for toddler naptime for me to attack them.


    While all that was percolating and Daisy was napping, I had a glass of wine (or two, maybe three) and edited some photos. (I swear, the wine makes me more creative, not more careless. Promise!)


     And then, the final product. Yummy!



    Ha! You didn't know I could cook, didya? I have such depths.


    ...looked like this...



    No, I didn't move back to the U.K. There is the palm tree to prove it.

    Daisy played outside in the rain in her sandbox. The benefits of "Nanny Day"



    What a difference a day makes!


    Frickin' Sacramento summers. They don't creep up on you, they jump out at you from behind a tree and say "BOOOOO!"

    So, of course, there was ice cream instead of hot chocolate after school.


    In fact, it was SO sunny that Ms. Daisy put on a pair of sunglasses.


    You don't understand. Daisy DOES. NOT. put anything on the sacred shrine that is her head - hats, bows, pony-tail bands, or glasses. Thus is the testament to the sudden brightness of the afternoon.



    Second morning in a row that I had to wake Daisy up, or we would have been late for school.
    She's like her Dad in that she doesn't wake up quickly or easily. 



    This is not anywhere near as kinky as it looks.

    I spent my lunch hour working on a self-portrait for my 52-week photo project.

    I was going to work out or read a book but then I realized this was my last real alone time of the entire week to get this done. As it goes, it was a flippin' good workout. The number of times I had to run from the bed to the camera, squat down, prep, and run back, was ludicrous. Yes, I do have a remote shutter release button but it's not wireless and the wire did not stretch far enough. I could have switched to my 24-70 lens, which would have helped me get closer but, meh, I like my nifty-50 better.

    Here is one one of the better ones I didn't decide to use.
    You'll see the final picture on the Memories by Michelle blog on Monday.


    How much "airbrushing" did I do? I tried not to do a lot, although I confess to fixing the dimple that runs along the top of my nose (I may not be vain but I am human!) I basically wanted the pics to be pretty raw because "self-portrait", to me at least, kind of demands that you reveal something intimate about yourself. And in reality, this is how I look on any given day working from home. Of course, I don't spend all day laying on my bed reading (I WISH) but the vampire book is pretty true-to-life if I could/did!

    Photo shoot in the a.m. and then nut burgers with mum and Daisy at Sunrise Drive In, in Fair Oaks.
    FINALLY, a sunny weekend.


    And we have come full circle.

    To see all the other folks who grabbed a beer, head on over to Yep, they are all mine.

    Friday, June 03, 2011

    Brit Bits Part Three: The Big Sheep

    That's right, I said "Sheep", not "Sleep'.

    The thing I can almost GUARANTEE you don't know about England (unless of course, you live there) is that there is SO MUCH TO DO if you have children. And, being it's a fairly small country (750 miles approximately from top to bottom and, on average, about 125 miles wide), wherever you're at there is always something close by.

    One of the most ingrained memories from my childhood was summertime Sunday day trips with my parents. We would jump in the car and start driving, usually with no particular destination in mind. We would ALWAYS find something to do - a pretty village to explore, a summer fair, a castle, a stately home, a steam railway, a Roman ruin, an amusement park, a model village (haha, you've never heard of these have you?) a zoo, a safari or wildlife park, a petting farm... I could go on-and-on...

    Most of these activities are relatively low cost and cater to a broad variety of age groups, so there is something for Granny, something for you 13 year old, and something for your toddler.

    The Great British Day Out is really something I have missed. I was literally ACHING to share it with Daisy and Hubby.

    When we arrived at Trimstone Manor, I immediately grabbed a ton of tourist brochures and set about determining where our first port-of-call would be. It was a difficult task, weeding through everything close by that I thought Daisy would enjoy - and of course, if we were willing to drive more than 90 minutes, there was even more I could have come up with. But given we'd already subjected the poor thing to a 24 hour travel day, I was looking closer-to-home.

    Hence THE BIG SHEEP.

    You can click the link to learn more about everything this theme park offers but basically it is a young child's fun zone, themed loosely around sheep and farms. I expected it to be an hour visit, maybe two, but we spent ALL DAY there. Daisy had a blast.

    There were sheep to pet and feed, up close and personal.



    There were fun little rides for Missy to mess around with





    And most importantly, there were the bouncing cushions.



    ... which were even more attractive for being surrounded by a sand pit (sorry yanks, we don't have sand "boxes" in the UK.) Daisy LOVES sand. Or, at least, she does now. We could have done with that enthusiasm a year ago when we were in Jamaica.


    It wasn't entirely clear if she loved the pillows or the sand best but it was her favorite spot in the park.

    The frustrating thing, however, was watching all the other kids of the same or similar age bouncing around merrily on their own, while Daisy WHINED for me (or, when I forcefully abdicated responsibility, my Mum or husband) to go with her, hold her hand, or pick her up. Hence, it turned into my mission to get Daisy to bounce solo by the time we went home to the U.S. because it really sucks to be the only adult not enjoying a nice sit down while your kid runs off and happily joins in with the other kids.


    (Clingyness and whinyness, as we well know, are on the top of my list of mummy no-nos. I just don't do them. Period.)

    Just when you're ready to write your kid off as scared of her own shadow and completely unadventurous (yes, I jest... slightly) we head into the awesome indoor play area for lunch and some more fun.

    Inside there was this really tall slide. You know, the kind with all the bumps and where you need to sit in a little mat to get from top to bottom? I looked at it and thought: NEVER. But I asked Daisy anyway. She said she would go with me. And so we did, me fully anticipating that we would get to the top and she would balk at the ride down, monkeying on me and screaming blue murder.

    But she didn't.


    And she went with Daddy too!



    And, just like that, my faith in her was restored all over again.

    She even went in the ball pit. (Albeit, with Daddy in tow - the only adult in the ball pit.)


    If your kid is the sort of kid that naturally runs off to run, jump, climb, slide, swing, or explore, this may not seem like a big thing to you. But Daisy is not like that. Her first word is usually "no" (please, no commentary from my friends - I get the irony) and she is a tad cautious, generally speaking. As an only child, I worry she doesn't have a sibling egging her on and so she'll sit back and not try stuff. This is my BIGGEST parental fear, in fact; that she will let opportunities and experiences pass her by. I know, I gotta let it go a little bit because she is who she is but it doesn't mean to say I can't be happy when I see her try new things and jump in feet-first!

    And so BIG SHEEP was a success. I always knew one of the main reasons I wanted to have a kid was to share things with him/her, to look at the world afresh through his/her eyes but I never realized just how amazingly fun and heart-fulfilling it would be to actually do it!

    We were only on Day 2 and already the trip was turning out to be everything I hoped it would be, and more.

    Tomorrow: Watermouth Castle where there was this....


    and where we communed with gnomes.

    (Hey, I said there was a lot to do, I didn't say some of it wasn't bizarre!)

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