Friday, June 27, 2008

Meet Brin's Family

You remember Brin from the session I posted earlier this meet her family!

We went on an "adventure" in the country...

actually it was around Camargo where Brin's dad grew up.

Awww...a mommy/daughter moment in the sunflowers.

Now meet the incredible smiling dog, Rocky! I love Corgi dogs.
They are so cute! And seriously, he really does look like he's smiling!

On a side note, how do you like our famous Oklahoma red dirt?
When foreigners visit our state, they sometimes bottle it up to take home
(just like we like to steal the white sand off of your beaches, Florida--lol!).

These guys were a photographer's dream--so photogenic!

Welcome to our neck of the woods!

When I said we went on an adventure in the country, I meant it.
This is the car from the photo I posted last night.

It had a bit of a "tree problem." It's a wonder we made it out without getting snake bitten, getting tangled in barbed wire fence or contracting tetanus (there were plenty of boards with old, rusty nails) but we managed!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Because I Promised to Have Some Posted on Thursday...

It's 11:53 p.m. so I did it! Check back for more tomorrow, but for now....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Family Togetherness

Hold on to your seats because the next two images have now become two of my all-time favorites!

*Gasp!* See??? Isn't it beautiful?? Kenlee LOVES her animals...I mean she really L-O-V-E-S them, so I think this shot speaks volumes to that end. At least it does to me.

Then again...maybe this one does! A beautiful horse (that totally looked like Bandy Bo Jay--the horse I had at Kenlee's age) and a beautiful girl with killer dimples and blue eyes... I don't know if I could choose between the two if I had to!

But let's not forget little bro. I caught Tate hanging out by the pond near the end of the session. Barefoot boys sitting by a pond...if there's not a country song with those lyrics, someone needs to write one! :)

What a beautiful family and a beautiful evening! It was an overcast day, but it was cool and the wind was still (the pond was absolutely reflective). That is a rare thing in June in western Oklahoma, my friends!

The blue shirts were absolutely the perfect color choice! For those of you who struggle to break out of the "white shirts + blue jeans" box when preparing for family photos, remember: the key is not to match exact colors, but rather have everyone wear something in the same color family.

Have I ever told you how much I adore old red barns. What's not to love???

Toye & Cody were celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary this year.

Her gift request? Family portraits!

Now, that's my kind of gift!

When the Toye contacted me about family photos, she asked, "Do you have much experience photographing animals?" I admitted that I have done several photo sessions that incorporated animals though I couldn't exactly claim it as my specialty. "Good, "she said, "because we're hoping to get a picture with my family, our three horses and several dogs." We were able to contain the horses long enough for a family photo, but the dogs were running circles around us--lol!

One last sweet image--four generations of men. Gotta love that!

Thanks so much for the wonderful privilege of photographing your beautiful family!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sneak Peek: Brin

Here's a quick sneak peek for Brin's family; the rest should be posted later this week in the family gallery.

I wish my kids were younger; I'd make them go back to this location and recreate this image so I could hang it in my living room! Heck, I might just make them do it anyway! :)

Aren't those pink ruffles the cutest??

Oh, to be two again. So carefree!

I love this one! It totally says "childhood" to me!

I was surprised that I actually was able to get the focus to fall on the dandelion because she was moving so quickly!

Anyone with a two-year-old totally understands that...

Doesn't she have the prettiest blue eyes? Thanks for playing, Brin!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Orleans: Wrap-Up

Okay, so this is my final post on our New Orleans experience (promise!). Thought I'd share our mission team video--a complilation of some of everyone's photographs from the week. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Orleans: Church Restoration

I've mentioned in the past that one of my dreams is to restore an old church building(preferably one with fantastic windows) into a studio. Of course, I've also mentioned that I am a bit of a "realist" and understand that such a project would take a lot of blood, sweat and tears...not to mention a ton of cash and more patience and energy than I could find.

The next best thing? Restoring an old church...that is still a church!

Days 2-4 of our week in New Orleans found us at this beautiful church.
It is 122 years old and truly breathtaking.

It did, however, sustain damage during Katrina. The sanctuary didn't actually flood (to my knowledge) because it is high above ground. However, these large front doors blew open allowing the wind and rain to ruin the wall-to-wall carpeting. Also, a large portion of the steeple fell in and had to be reconstructed.

I'm sorry that it ruined their carpeting, but the original pine floors beneath were stunning!

Our main job was to scrape the paint off of the stained glass windows, tape the glass and put a coat of primer on the wood.

{Proof #1 that I was actually working & not taking pictures all day!}

Um....did I mention that there are over 200 panes in each lower half of the windows? And there were 16 windows in the sanctuary alone??

We also did some painting. Okay, quite a bit of painting.

{Proof #2 that I'm not a slacker}

Standing on your feet all day long in 90-degree weather with 90% humidity while staring at thousands of tiny colored windows and meticulously stripping off century-old paint can be exhausting work. A lot of the time, this fan was our only source of air--that and popping open a window (though we were fortunate to get a little bit of air con during the week).

I'll be honest: it was a little discouraging at times. We really hoped to be out and about, meeting new people.

Once, I took a photojournalism break, walking around the church with my camera, when I came across this Bible lying on the pulpit and opened to this page. You'll notice one of the headers on the left-hand side reads: "Do good to brothers." It was the gentle reminder that I needed. I had to lay aside my own expectations for the trip and focus on the fact that even scraping window panes was helping someone in need.

I had met with the pastor of the church earlier and he was trying his best to get the church ready by July. They had used all of the funds mending the steeple and were now relying on volunteer labor to finish the interior, meaning much of the responsibility fell into his lap. He was a bivocational pastor who was juggling a job, a ministry and (I assume) a family while trying to renovate the church building. That's a lot for one man to take on! This opened Bible reminded me that I may not be a world-changer, but if I can lighten the load of one person (in this case, the pastor), it could definitely change that person's world! I feel like that sums up a lot of what we did in NOLA--lightening people's burdens.

We persevered! And by the time we left the old church, we could actually see progress...and we were able to finish all those windows. Yippee!!!

Yeah, I think we made a pretty good team!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Orleans: Meeting Homeowners

I'd like you to meet a sweet lady named Miss Cynthia. In the background you'll see part of the crew who was assigned to help Miss Cynthia work on her home that was damaged by Katrina flood waters.

The thing I find most interesting about New Orleans is that everyone has a Katrina story and they are all so different.

Miss Cynthia was born and raised in NOLA. She had never evacuated through during any other hurricane in her lifetime; it was just a routine part of living near the coast (I equate it to Oklahoma and tornadoes; we just live with them and take it for granted that one day our homes could be totally destroyed). However, one day, Miss Cynthia noticed the guys at work huddling around a computer as they watched the hurricane coverage. She told them that she was leaving and she went home to grab a few things before heading to Houston to stay with her children.

Little did she know that she wouldn't return to her home for two years.

In this photo, Miss Cynthia is holding a picture of her mother. Her mother had suffered a stroke and was unable to communicate. The family was unable to meet her medical needs on their own, so she was placed in a nearby nursing home which they visited almost every day. There was no way that she could take her mother along for what ended up being a long 16-hour drive to Houston. The family was reassured by the nursing home that they had an evacuation plan but were staying put because they were on high ground (in fact, after the storm, the nursing home was made into a National Guard outpost because it was dry and was one of the only areas with power). Cynthia's brother-in-law was able to keep in touch with the nursing home via text messaging until the storm made landfall and broke all lines of communication.
For the next two months, they had no idea where their mother was.

In the end, it was learned that they left the nursing home after the mayor declared mandatory evacuations. Their mother ended up in the Super Dome where a nurse stayed by her side. She was moved around at least ten times that they know of after the storm. Once, she was taken to a hospital for "sorting" (identifying medical needs and moving them to the appropriate locations) and the family thinks that she may have been stationed in the morgue for some time because it was the only cool place in an building with no air conditioning in the August heat. Miss Cynthia thinks that this had a profound impact on her mother. Though she could not communicate, she would have been aware of her circumstances. When the family was later reunited, one of her first and only words was, "I don't want to die alone."
Who knows how long it would have taken Miss Cynthia's family to reunite had it not been for CNN coverage. Miss Cynthia's brother-in-law appeared on CNN several times and once was asked what was most important to him, personally, at that time. He mentioned that they were trying to locate his mother-in-law and CNN posted a photo (albeit an old one). A social worker saw the photo and somehow recognized their mother. She had been wearing the wrong ID bracelet the whole time.

Our crew helped Miss Cynthia paint baseboards that were water damaged. A small task considering that her beautiful pine wood floors were once covered with silt from flooding. Surprisingly, after cleaning up the mess and mopping with bleach water, her floors look like a million bucks! And if we ever thought that our task was insignificant, we just listened to Miss Cynthia who raved about our help and about "how depressing" it was to look at the water damage day-in and day-out.

The "strapping young man" of our crew helped Miss Cynthia dig new flower beds and garden spots, all of which washed away during the floods. "I used to have a beautiful garden," said Miss Cynthia. She was so grateful for our little bit of help that she fixed us a genuine New Orleans lunch of butter peas and rice with andouelle sausage and salad "all doctored up." She even served it at "the family table, because we're family" using her best "everyday china." And, before we left, we were given hugs and kisses, as if we truly were family.

I'm sure many people wonder why, after three years, New Orleans is not completely recovered. One reason is that many people have just recently returned. Miss Cynthia came back a year ago. She had planned to sell her home and move away, but her employers begged her to stay. But, from what I've seen, the biggest reason everything is not back to normal is because the task was monumental.

"Everyone says, 'It's been three years. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps already!' But it's not that easy," said Miss Cynthia.

Monday, June 16, 2008

An Awesome Father's Day Gift

Did you know that my husband is a minister? He is, and yesterday, he got the most awesome Father's Day gift ever: he had the privilege of baptising our oldest daughter who became a believer during our church's children's camp. It was a pretty special day! {And, even though it looks otherwise, she is holding her own nose in the second picture--lol!}

I hope you celebrated all the fathers and father-figures in your life this weekend! As you know, I have been in New Orleans &, this week, I plan to share many posts about our experiences there so don't forget to keep checking in!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Greetings from New Orleans

Hi, everyone! Hope your week is going well. I had a short time of internet access so I just wanted to stop by & tell you that things are going well on our mission trip. I am especially enjoying meeting new people and hearing their stories about Katrina. The human side of the news is always more interesting than what you sometimes see on television. There is still a lot of recovery going on in this city both physically, spiritually & psychologically, so pray for 'em. And pray for us, too! I've been working hard from 8-4 each day and I'm not used to the 90% humidity! :) Hopefully, I'll be able to share some stories and photos from our trip soon. Until then, have a great week!

(P.S. Photo is from Jackson Square; I took the kids to Cafe Du Monde for beignets last night. They were awesome!)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Au Revoir!

Au revoir, y'all....I'm off to Louisiana for a week, New Orleans to be exact. I'm going with some of the youth from our church to work on some mission projects--mostly reconstruction, clean up and painting--for folks in New Orleans. And I hope to find time to get a nice beignet or two while I'm in the neighborhood (but I'll pass on the gumbo). :)

The last time I was in NOLA was the summer that Katrina hit, so I'll be very interested to see how the city has changed since that time.

I'm also going to try to work on a photojournalism project while I'm there so keep an eye out...hopefully, I'll be able to share.

I'm supposed to have internet access, so if you need to reach me, it's best to e-mail. Phone calls are welcome, but I may not be available to answer very often.

Keep checking the blog this week--maybe I can share photos along the way!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Kayla's photoshoot was scheduled for a beautiful day...and by beautiful I mean dark, cloudy and wind-whipping. It was so stormy that I was keeping an eye on the clouds and an ear on the weather reports (I'm sure we were in a tornado watch; we always are this time of the year). Luckily, we were able to meet two hours earlier than expected or it would have been total darkness! All this to say, don't worry about having "perfect" weather conditions for sessions. You'd be surprised to find that cloudy days are actually better in some instances for photos (you can shoot in a greater variety of places), wind can give that glam "wind-blown" look that the NY models aim for (it also adds a little Oklahoma authenticity to an image--have you ever been in western Oklahoma when the wind is not blowing?), and post-rainstorms give a very beautiful color to the ground and sky.

But enough about that...on with the photo show!

My favorite!
Kayla's mom wanted some photos of Kayla in her 4-H jacket with her show animals because she is moving on up to high school and will no longer be showing in 4-H. As a former 4-Her myself, I thought this was a cool idea. I didn't have any show animals (I did show horses for a short time) but I loved 4-H. It taught me a lot about citizenship and community service. "Head, heart, hands, health..." (That's what the four H's stand for, BTW.)

Nothing like a snuggle with a piggy. Check out piggy's eyelashes...I'm so jealous!

Her sheep was a ham (oh wait...that was the piggy--lol!). He was all about posing for the camera!

We did some non-4-H photos, too. I saw this little flowery spot in between the school bus barn and a transmission shop. I'm telling you, there are little hidden spots of photo opportunity everywhere you look!

I love the lines on this image. Know where it was taken? The softball concession stand!

And one more favorite from the day. Isn't Kayla lovely? I'm so jealous of those ringlets of curls! Don't ya love the colors? Guess what that purple is? A slide on the elementary school playground!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Price of Motherhood (Literally)

I was reading an article on MSN that estimated what a salary would be for a full-time stay-at-home mom: $138,095. Not too shabby, huh? If you are a mom that is employed outside of the home, you'd add another $85,939 on top of your regular salary. To arrive at this number, they took into account ten jobs that mothers juggle daily including housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO and psychologist.

So moms, when you are feeling overworked and under appreciated, remember that you are worth this...and so much more!!

(Maybe we should all get together and ask for a raise!) :)

Source: MSN Money