Saturday, June 29, 2013

Conversations with my husband

I sorta have the most amazing husband ever.  I know, I know.  You've heard that line before.  

For real, though.

Not only is he a dad that puts my own meager parenting skills to shame, he spoils me to an embarrassing degree.

Even while the house is pretty much carpeted with children's toys, the last action my oven saw was frozen pizza, and I've declared the "The-Kids-Went-Swimming-Today-So-That-Means-They-Don't-Really-Need-Baths" argument totally valid.

Lord knows why the man not only puts up with me, but by all appearances seems to love doing so--I'm not arguing, though.

He's not only been humoring my new-found hobby/business venture, but he's been very encouraging in it.

Hence, the following conversation:

Him, presenting me with the means and permission to obtain a gizmo I would likely never have gotten myself:

"Just get it.  It makes you happy, so get it.  Here."

Me: "Really?  You're sure?  I mean, really?"

Him: "Yep.  Really."

Me:..."Can we just pretend that I was all altruistic, and turned you down in a graceful display of self-sacrifice, and then you insisted, and I demurred, and then you insisted again until I gave in and finally agreed?  Because that's what's happening in my head right now--but we both know how this is going to end, right?"

Him: "Yep."

Me: "I love you."


Friday, June 28, 2013

Updates Galore

The past few weeks have seen me turn into a crazy woman, trying to get this photography thing off of the ground.  Shockingly, it's going pretty well.  You can now find me on Facebook, and on my website.

I know, right?

There's still a lot of work to be done all around, but I must say that I've kinda surprised myself with this one. I really enjoy doing this, and other people seem to find my services least so far.

I'm not killing myself over it at this point--no plans to quit my illustrious day-job, or anything.  If the market turns out to be too saturated in my area, or my particular skills just not enough in demand, I'm okay with not getting big paydays out of this.  It's rewarding enough on a personal level that I just love doing it, and that's enough for me.

I hope this is okay to share, but this is a photo that sort of encapsulates what this whole thing has been meaning to me.  The special needs event I photographed a few weeks back affected me in a lot of ways, but I just keep remembering this kid.

Let's call him A, hmmm?

His mom is an incredible woman, who does a lot of great things for a lot of people.  Photography is his passion, and he spent the greater part of this event wheeling after people with his camera, snapping away.  He and his mom are one facet of disability--unique, like all of the others, and one that many may not get the chance to see.  

I only spent a short amount of time with A, but it was enough to convince me that he was not the type to feel sorry for himself, or let anything stop him from doing the things he wanted to do. I love, LOVE that attitude--the Move-Or-Get-Run-Over outlook.  

He had things to do, places to go.  Who cares about a little old wheelchair?

I'm enjoying portraits, and kids, and bridals, and landscapes--but people like A are what really fascinate me.  I wish more people would have the outlook on life that this kid did in the scant thirty minutes I spent with him.  I want to take photos that make people see the camera and the passion first for people like A--and see the wheelchair as just an accessory.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Weddings are HARD, y'all

Whew.  My first wedding as a photographer is DONE.  Well, sort of.  There's another round of editing to be done before the final photo delivery, but I have now shot bridal photos, couples photos, macro shots, "getting ready" shots, ceremony shots and reception shots.  ALL IN THE SAME DAY.  Then, I went home and edited for what seemed like an ETERNITY.

I got some REALLY great stuff, and I was so excited to do this.  It went as well as could possibly be expected--the "first" shooter and I worked well together, the couple was super fun, and the bride had not one bride-zilla moment.

But y'all, I am TIRED.  Even though this wedding was on the small side, it turns out you still have to take the same shots of the main events that you would at a larger wedding, just while covering (slightly) less ground.

I know, right?

I even got paid, even though the money has already been spent on (more) equipment.  It's so much fun doing something so personally fulfilling, and I can't WAIT for the bride to see the photos!

Now, time for a little break.  I'm about one Photoshop layer away from going cross-eyed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Annnnd, SCENE

It is dinner time.

Little C: "Dad.  What do you love?"
Dad: "What?"
Little C: "What do you love?"
Dad: "What do I love?"
Little C: "No."
Dad, catching on to the script now: "Oh.  What do you love, [Little C]?"
Little C, promptly: "Peanut butter and banana." *

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how an autistic kid goes from non-verbal to manipulative in just two short years.

The end.

*Side note: Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are one of the only foods my kid will consistently eat.  He loves them like an addict loves crack, and they're pretty much all that sustains him on the nights when he is not refusing to eat a single crumb of whatever we've cooked.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Wow.  I posted this over the weekend, and sent an email to Glennon over at Momastery to pass along our little story.  She posted it on her Facebook page today, and I quickly became overwhelmed at the flood of comments in response.

The internet is a scary place, sometimes.  With all of the communities I lurk in, over time I've learned to always stay out of the comments section, for the most part.  Nothing dents my faith in humanity faster than an open forum on...well, just about anything.  People are human, I know--they want to be right and they want to know better than the next guy.  Comment sections so often make me sad, thinking of all the people who feel the need to put others down solely due to their own insecurities.  Plus, I'm SUPER sensitive to criticism, so hearing mean things always makes me want to crawl in a hole and cry, even if those things are not about me.

As of now, 4,341 people have "liked" that post, and 88 people have shared it.  I've lost track of the comments, but every single one has been positive.  Mamas chimed in their own autism success stories--not in competition, but in solidarity.

Do you hear that?  they asked.  That's the sound of us cheering for [Little C].

THAT comment was the one that started the crying.

Such a small story, just a window into our daily lives, but who knows how many people saw it today--who knows how many got to see a happy side of autism when so often the crying, fretting and self-injurious behaviors are what make for more interesting news stories.

Earlier today, the company I worked for decided to run a little blurb about the 1 in 50 article publication on our intranet homepage.  The company I work for happens to be quite large, and I got several emails throughout the day, commenting on the article.

I usually never read these things, they said.  But I read this one, thank you so much for sharing.  

There were several iterations on this theme, and I couldn't help but wonder--will they remember this article when they, or someone they love, is affected by autism?  What if the words I've used have repercussions much farther than I ever thought they would when I wrote them?

A little intimidating, that.

I guess you never know what's going to reach someone, or how.

So I guess I'll just keep chattering, K?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Toast. I AM TOAST.

Y'all.  Remember that water park I told you I was going to photograph for our local special needs family support center?  Well, that was tonight, and I'm still reeling.  This is probably not even going to be coherent, but here we go.

I've been to walks, I've been to fundraisers, and I kinda thought I was a little inured to the special needs community by this point.  You know, settled in--like this was becoming old hat.  Comfortable, even.

No big deal.

Tonight, though, turned all of that on its head.  I showed up drained from a hot day spent in New Orleans, thinking I would just wander around with my camera, get some practice in, maybe catch up with some people, and hopefully get home in time to hit the sack a little early.

From the first, though, it was just different.  I've gotten a little hyper-sensitive to people's reactions to special needs kids, particularly my own.  I'm always looking for the puzzled frown, the rolling eyes, the impatience at the struggles with simple tasks so easy for everyone else.  There was NONE of that from the staff at this water park.


The head honcho of the park chatted with me casually as I snapped away at the long (LONG) line of people waiting to get in.  He joked around with kids waiting impatiently.  He smiled at frazzled mamas.  He and the army of life guards who were on duty for this thing never batted an eye at anything or anyone there that night.  The facility didn't make a penny of profit from this, although they closed the park early to admit a group of almost 500 people--all individuals or family and friends of those with special needs.

There were specially designed water wheelchairs to allow those with physical handicaps to navigate through the water.

Aside from the amazing-ness of the staff, there were the families, guys.  Parents were able to relax and just let their kids play, without having to bristle at judgmental looks from other people, or worry about whether or not what their child was doing was socially acceptable.  Siblings were able to just have fun and not feel pressured to constantly run interference for their brothers and sisters.

I was struck again tonight by the feeling of privilege in belonging to this community.  I left humbled tonight, guys.  Neurotypical siblings giving their special needs brothers and sisters piggyback rides, helping them down slides, really ENJOYING their company in a non-judgmental environment--without a shred of discomfort or impatience.

I can't wait to go through these pictures.

Aspects of this special needs community can be HARD.

But good GOD, does the fire of it forge some amazing people.

Little Nugget

A little nugget this morning:

We've been working on Little C's motor skills, which are still a bit laggy here and there.  Dressing himself is one of the lags.

We are MAKING him dress himself every morning, and he is less than enthused about this new process.  He often whines, "I can't.  It is hard for me."

I have taken to responding, a la Momastery, "Yes, you can.  You can do hard things."

Then we work on it

This morning, we laid out his clothes for him, intending to work on them with him once we were done with our morning routine.

Baby boy dressed himself, then came to me and said solemnly, "Mom.  I can do hard things."

Yes you can, kid.  Yes you can.