I hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas. I would have posted yesterday but I was too busy cleaning my house and doing 47 loads of laundry (both of which I have sorely neglected the last couple of months). But I am back and I have something really fun to share with you today. It is a session with a couple of great kids from the beginning of December. I didn't blog about it at the time because it was a surprise for the mom!! The dad took the kids to get their pictures done and then had 2 - 11 x 14's made and framed and gave them as a Christmas present. How cool is that? Hey guys out there, that is one great present. Don't believe me? Here is what the mom posted on Facebook on Christmas morning: "Best Christmas present ever from my family!! Kudos to Suzanne Jolley. Absolutely beautiful!! Can't wait to see the rest of the photo shoot." Again how cool is that? To get to play a part in the best Christmas present ever? Very, very cool. This session was also a lot of fun for me because I know these kids pretty well from my church. They are twins and they are my youngest daughter's age. The daughter is one of my daughter's closest friends. And the son is terrific too, they both are really fabulous kids. And the day of our session was no exception, they were awesome. It was cold, like really, really cold and they handled it like pros. As a matter of fact, these were the first set of shots that we took.
Since I know them really well, it didn't take them long to warm up to me (too bad that it could not have been literally warming up, did I mention that it was cold?) and let their personality shine through.
They are both so unique so of course we had to get some of each of them alone. I have to tell you, one of the things that the mom was most happy about after the shoot was the natural smile on the daughter. Apparently that is not easily captured. Oh, and she also tried to give me credit because her hair looked gorgeous. I told her mom that I will take credit for helping the smile come out and for capturing it but not for the gorgeous hair, that's all on her.
One of the ones that I ended up liking the best is not very traditional but I just love it. I think that I love it because it not only seems to capture their personalities but also seems to capture their relationship to one another. And of course, her gorgeous hair.
We ended up our day by doing some shots in front of a red barn door (who doesn't love a red barn door?) and then having some fun with the llamas. Post and rail fences, barn doors, fabulous light, and llamas, this place has it all!!
Thanks Buckleys!! It was such a pleasure to spend some time with you and help you with your surprise for your mom!! Outstanding job on the surprise, now I know who to turn to if I need to keep a secret! Please click here if you would like to see the rest of the Buckley's pictures.
I think that it is pretty obvious that I have a good time with my last name, especially around the holidays. I have sent out Christmas cards that have said, "Merry Christmas from all the Jolley happy souls" and "Tis the season to be Jolley" so it is definitely something that I embrace. And I love it when others do too, either intentionally or unintentionally. I especially love the unintentional ones. Like the time that my friend's daughter was singing, "Tis the season to be Synan" which is their last name. When she was asked why, she replied, "Well the Jolleys sing tis the season to be jolly." Ha!! (I think I shared that one before but it's such a good one that it bears repeating). Well yesterday a friend of mine sent me this text, "Funny story - I was driving Sophia to school today & the song Holly Jolly Christmas was on. Sophia says I wonder if Santa's related to the Jolleys - lol." Lol is right, how precious is that?? When the Christmas spirit is present, it makes for some special moments and it is pure magic in children!! In honor of this, this week's Friday Night Video is "A Holly Jolly Christmas". Merry last weekend before Christmas to everyone!! I hope that you all take time out of the holiday craziness to enjoy some of that Christmas magic, you know because like the Grinch thought, "Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more!" Since I spent most of the day yesterday in and out of stores, muttering about how I hate Christmas, I am really, really glad that I had a wonderful second grader to remind me although I do hate the shopping, I absolutely love the spirit!!
I just wanted to let you all know that I am probably going to take a few days off from blogging this week. I am dealing with a tooth issue and have a root canal scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The pain is pretty annoying, so much so that my house is a total disaster, I'm having trouble stringing together coherent thoughts and I have pretty much lost this whole weekend (yeah, now I'm horribly behind in all things Christmas). What does all this mean and why I am sharing with you all? It is just my way for apologizing for not blogging the next couple of days. Hopefully I will be back by Thursday, I hope that everyone has a great week. I have to say that it is kind of a sad state of affairs when I am actually looking forward to having a root canal done. Actually, it may even be the highlight of my week (shh, don't tell anyone). Although that may not be saying too much since there are 3 teenagers and a 12 year old in my house, those that have been there know that some days that can feel like a root canal. By the way, I did sort of dress up for the ugly sweater day at work and for the party (I wore an ugly T-shirt) and both were a blast!! I'm glad that I did because one thing that I've learned through the years is that it is never a bad idea to step outside your comfort zone. Plus really, why would I miss ever miss the opportunity to hang with these guys? They're the best!!
Happy Monday?? Not there is such a thing but look at it this way, at least you all don't have a root canal scheduled for today like someone else we may know!!
This one is for the co-worker that hosted our annual Christmas party last night. I chose this one because she is a big fan of the Jetsons, not because she needs to be visited by three ghosts in order to understand the true spirit of Christmas. Quite the contrary, she embodies the Christmas spirit, at home and at work. At work, she is always so willing to do whatever it takes to make everyone's job easier, often without even letting anyone know it. Honestly the school couldn't function without her. And at home, she was kind enough to open her house and host a fun and festive gathering with lots of laughs. Thanks for having us, it was a blast!! Kind of funny that we are about to get snow today, last year this same person and I had a conversation near the beginning of February about how we were all done with winter. Then she mentioned that she wouldn't mind one more snow storm. A couple days later we were hit with a snowstorm that was so big that it dumped about 2 feet on us and even had a name, Nemo!! And we weren't done yet, we ended up with the 5th snowiest February in history and it seemed like we had a snow day every week!! So be careful what you wish for!!! Anyway, I couldn't find this one on Youtube so a little twist today, you have to click on the title below to be taken to the video.
Happy Saturday everyone, stay safe and warm, maybe we'll get that white Christmas that my kids are always hoping for.
So yesterday, I met with the Farley kids at their house to take some pictures. The schools had a 1/2 day here in Stoughton so that gave us the opportunity to get started a little bit sooner. I was thinking yesterday how nice a 1/2 day is in December, it is a good opportunity to get stuff done with the kids like shopping which is what I spent my day doing aside from the time that I spent with the Farleys. Since I am not the biggest fan of shopping (or my kids for that matter, ha!), photographing the Farleys was a very welcome break in my day. We started in the front of the house by the front door.
Then we attempted to add the dog but it really wasn't working out in the front yard so we decided to move to the back. Look at that coat, isn't it beautiful? Absolutely adorable dog!! Oh, I love the white coats on the girls too, don't want them to feel slighted.
As you can see above, it was a little hard to get one where everyone was looking right at the camera (the kids were so cooperative, the dog not quite as much). But we kept at it until we got them all looking!! Ahh, the power of patience and perseverance!
Don't you just the love the girls' headbands? They were so festive and so cute!!
The newest member of the family:
I don't know who moves faster - puppy or boy? Watching them though, I couldn't help but think of the immortal words of Humphrey Bogart at the end of the movie Casablanca, "...I think that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
It was pretty cold out so we moved inside and took a few there as well.
Thanks Farley family for providing such a nice break in the middle of my day of shopping. It was such a blast getting to spend some time with you all. Happy Friday, everyone!!
Today I am so excited for what I have planned. I am taking pictures of my friend's kids. They are the cutest, you may remember them from last year, look at them, who wouldn't be excited to hang out with them??
Although I do anticipate it being a little challenging. Working with 3 kids is hard enough but when I worked with them last year, the little one wanted absolutely no part of me or my camera. Hopefully she has outgrown that because we have a few other challenges to deal with today. It is supposed to be really, really cold today, we got couple of inches of snow the other day and recently they added a puppy to the family. What's that old show business adage? "Never work with children or animals”. Part of that is because children and animals can behave unpredictably. I know you are now thinking, "Ha, tell me something that I don't know." But the other side of the coin is that once the movie is made, the kids and animals are so adorable, they end up stealing every scene and make it all worth it. Let's hope that's the case with the pictures today!! Happy Thursday, stay warm!
Go figure, the best Christmas story that I have read this year is about a Jewish girl. I recently shared a new book (for me, anyway, it was actually published in 2010) entitled, A Chanukah Noel with my students at my library job. It is the true story of a Jewish girl named Charlotte that moves to the French countryside from America. She is not too sure about the move, feelings that are enhanced when she gets made fun of because she can't speak the language and is overwhelmed by the omnipresent Christmas feeling and decorations in her village. One of the things that really stood out for me is when Charlotte says, "At school, at least, I was a part of the Christmas fun." Wow, this line really saddened me. Because this doesn't happen anymore. Because of all political correctness that is going on in this country, we shy away from sharing traditions and that just isn't right. I personally don't think that kids are being well served by that or that they even like it. I know that as a sub one day, I was thrilled when a mother came in to make potato latkes to help share her Chanukah traditions. Getting to experience that ranks right up there with my favorite sub days because it was so much fun to share in someone else's traditions and I'm an adult (it doesn't hurt that the potato latkes were delicious). I understand that the political correct movement has the best intentions (or at least I hope that they do) and that their goal is to avoid making kids feel bad because of what they do or don't celebrate. But I don't think that our focus as parents and/or educators should be for the kids entrusted in our care to never feel bad or sad, that is just not realistic or healthy. Instead our focus should be on helping them to deal with it and process it when they do.
Okay enough with the soapbox (again!!). Back to the book, Charlotte continues to beg her parents throughout the book to allow her to celebrate Christmas but they tell her that it is not a French holiday, it is a Christian holiday and they are not Christians. I wholeheartedly support and respect this, I think people need to remain true to their beliefs and not bend to pressure from others or even from their children. But then, Charlotte figures out her own solution to her dilemma. Not only did I love her solution but what I loved even more is the fact that Charlotte figured out a solution to the problem on her own. For some reason, it seems like problem solving skills are in short supply in most American children today (too much standardized testing maybe? a subject for a future post, perhaps?). During the course of the story, Charlotte learns that the reason that one of her classmates, a classmate that has not been very kind to her, had not brought in a gift to the classroom swap was because she was too poor (not too much of a grinch, like me). When her classmate finished telling her about Colette's circumstances and commented, "She will not have much of a Christmas, that one", Charlotte indulges in a sulk herself and thinks that it won't be for her either. Later at home, after unsuccessfully trying once again to change the mind of her parents about celebrating, she remembers the story of the Magi that she has heard recently in her new French school. She thinks, they are from far away, I am from far away, they bring gifts, maybe I can bring gifts to someone. She turns to her father and asks him if they could bring Christmas to Colette. After thinking about it, he agrees as long as Colette's father agrees and they don't embarrass the family. When they approach the father, Charlotte sincerely (and cleverly) frames her request as a favor and a gift to her so he agrees. With much joy, Charlotte spends her own money on a gift for Colette and helps her family prepare to "give" Christmas. But imagine her dismay when her father exhorts her to leave as soon as they drop everything off. Fortunately, Colette's dad proclaims that he will not accept the offerings unless they are shared. At the very end of the story, Charlotte says that her heart was filled with joy, all the joy of Chanukah and Christmas together. And really, no matter what we call it, isn't that what the whole season is about?? Joy?? Or maybe it's peace or hope?? I want to wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanzaa, Mele Kalikimaka and on and on! Whether you celebrate a different holiday or just call one a different name, I hope that this season of joy brings you joy as well as a big helping of hope and peace!!
I love when things work themselves out without any help from me. There are a lot of people in this house and a lot to do so whatever can get done without my input is just pure bonus. What I am referring to in this case is the fact that I was not able to go to a Living Nativity that takes place in Acton this past weekend. We went last year with dear friends of mine and had an absolutely wonderful time (I wrote about it here). Well this year, my friends went this past Sunday night but between my youngest being in the church play that afternoon,
and going to pick out our Christmas tree (my children think that this tree is tiny, maybe because it is not quite as large as our tree from a couple of years ago?),
we just couldn't pull it off. Well when I went to the gym today, I just happened to walk by this flyer,
Not only is this only 2 towns away from me but I am free that entire weekend and so is my mom!! So although I won't get a chance to go with my friends, I will still get to see something that I found to be very moving and spiritual. I hope that this one lives up to the high standards of the other one. I will be sure to let you all know!
I love Christmas but I have to admit I am a bit of a grinch about the things that I don't love about Christmas (ok, ok my friends that know me will say a big grinch). I love the music but only after Thanksgiving (certainly not before Veteran's Day which is when my 15 year-old started playing it), I love our annual family traditions and I really love the spiritual parts like going to La Salette or the annual play at our church. The play was yesterday, the picture above is from it, don't you just love the look on the kids' faces as they look at the baby? The baby that looks like he may be praying or giving his blessing? The play was truly fantastic, as always the woman that puts it on managed to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas in such a fun and festive way. The kids learn and have a blast, double bonus!! But some of the other things surrounding Christmas, like the commercialism and the shopping, those not so much. Allow me just a moment on my soapbox here, one thing that I especially hate is stores that won't say Merry Christmas but then use Santa and trees as props, that really bothers me, they are symbols of Christmas, not some made up, good for retailers, holiday (I wrote about this last year and probably the year before, this is kind of theme for me). And then there are the other things that are fun things but just really not my things. Like ugly sweaters parties or days at work (ugly sweater days at work, not regular days of work, those I actually like) or gift swaps or Yankee swaps or really swaps of any kind which brings me to the funny thing that happened to me the other day. On Friday, one of my closest friends was having a cookie swap. It was a swap so that right there tells you I probably wasn't going, actually, I haven't gone the last couple of years (you know, because it's a swap!) so this year I wasn't even invited, now that is a good friend. Well Friday afternoon, 2 of my other friends ran into each other and thought it would be hysterical to send me this text:
I am thinking of having a cookie swap if I do would you come??
At this point, I didn't know that they were together (or plotting against me) so I sent this back:
No I am sorry, nothing personal, Dawn is already having one that I don't go to so I couldn't go to yours and not hers, sorry. Thx for checking.
Imagine my delight when I got this response:
Ok seriously I would NEVER have a cookie party, I went to one and still feel scared. I am at the dentist and Paula told me about the cookie swap and thought you would enjoy being teased, hahahaha
How awesome is that??? Certainly one of the things that I love about Christmas is having so many wonderful people to share it with. I count myself so very lucky to have friends that care enough to put up with and poke fun of my holiday idiosyncrasies (they have a pretty good time with the rest of my year idiosyncrasies as well!). I hope that you all enjoy the Christmas season, I know I will, swaps and all!!
This guy certainly needs no introduction but this cartoon might. This is not the Burl Ives claymation version, this is the 1944 version. The beauty of this version is that it is under 10 minutes long!! Enjoy and happy Saturday. Remember there are only 3 more weekends until Christmas, oops now I just ruined that relaxing weekend morning cup of coffee, didn't I? Just forget that I said anything.
This week's video isn't really an actual music video. I took this clip last night when we went to see the Christmas Festival of Lights at LaSalette National Shrine. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Lights so in honor of that, the shrine has added a light show set to music. I have to say that it was pretty cool. It was a very pleasant addition to what is already an annual tradition for my family. Plus this year, my niece and nephew came with us so that was a double bonus and we all know how much I love those!! By the way, my kids (and I am sure yours) were totally singing, "give, give, give a Garmin" during this.
Happy Friday, everyone!!
This is the Christmas tree that is in my oldest daughter's room. This is also the tree that I had in college. Correction the tree that was sent to me at college my freshman year. One day, my roommate and I went to our mailboxes and I got a package slip. In my college days, it was all about the simple things in life so a package slip in your mailbox was just about the best thing that could happen to you. Although a card with money, that was pretty exciting too. Funny story, once Nana sent me a $20 but couldn't figure out why I had never called to say thank you so she asked my mom to find out. Well I had never received it and had no idea why. Well the mystery was solved about 6 months later when it finally turned up. Turns out Nana had put the mailbox number under the address so the post office read that as the zip code or air mail code. So it turns out that letter had arrived to me via Panama or was it Peru? I can't remember, I know it was a P country somewhere. Anyway back to my package. When I turned in the slip, it was a Christmas tree, complete with decorations (albeit scary, creepy looking decorations)!!! How wonderful when you are away from home during the Christmas season for the first time to receive something in the mail that not only reminds you of home but also lets you know that you are missed!! By the way, in case, I didn't properly express my gratitude the first time, thanks Mom!! That was such a wonderful surprise, one of the best of my life (it still is the simple things for me). Another thing that is pretty cool about this tree is that it will be making another trip to college in the not too distant future. I asked my daughter if she planned to bring it to college and she answered, "Definitely!! Mom, that's my tree." If it makes my daughter remember home while she's at college, then I think that we can all agree that it is pretty priceless. I think my mom said that she paid $10 for the tree some 28 years ago (yikes!), I think that it is safe to say that she got her money's worth!!
Haven't done one of these in a while so here goes.
I just finished sweeping my floor, yikes! You know the part in How the Grinch Stole Christmas where it talks about the crumb that was even too small for a mouse? Well let's just say that is not a problem in my house and leave it there.
How cool is this? The other night my kids decided that they wanted to order Chinese food for dinner and my husband and I weren't really going for it so they got together, figured out what they wanted, anted up and ordered!! The oldest has a job now so that made it a little easier but still, I thought that was pretty cool. And they let us in on the deal (provided we pay, which we did). Of course, the boy decided that he wanted pizza so he ordered that instead!!
How cool is this, part 2? I have a friend that blogs also but hasn't had any new posts lately. Well yesterday, I gave her a little bit of a hard time about it (all in good fun, of course) and said that bloggers need to be consistent. Well imagine my delight when I woke up this morning and not only was there a new post but I got a shout out as well. Oh the power. If you get a chance, check out her blog, it's called saving the world, one second grader at a time and it's great, especially if you have elementary school age children. She is a second grade teacher (duh) and offers such a great perspective. Plus if you read this particular entry, then you will get to see my shout out (it's all about me!)
How cool is this, part 3? Last one, I promise. In its continued effort to make me swear undying devotion to them (it is working), Weebly has introduced some new themes and one new feature that I love. I can now set my own background for my site. I love this, currently I have this picture as the background but I am thinking that I really need to be more festive so that may change very soon.
I think that I thought of a good idea for my Christmas card, I haven't put it together yet so I am not sure but I am always so much happier when I have an idea that I can build on. Especially since in this case, it does not involve any further involvement from the children!!
Guess what day it is??? Woo hoo, Hump Daaaaaay, I hope that you are all as happy today as the camel in the Geico ad.
Yesterday, I mentioned that the Donahue family was my sister-in-law's sister's family (told you, so wordy these extended family descriptions). Well my sister-in-law came along too so that we could get some pictures of her kids done as well. I was so happy to do this because they are such great kids. We actually do this often, go to different places and have "photo shoots" but this was the first time that it was kind of professional (it wasn't totally professional, it was still us after all). My sister-in-law had never been to this place before but I knew that she would love it because it has all the things that she loves.
Like a post and rail fence,
benches and a cool red barn door,
I don't usually think that my nephew looks just like my brother but the other day I totally did. When I mentioned that to my nephew, he said that it was probably because all of the clothes that he was wearing were his dad's! That could do it! They certainly looked great on him, so handsome!
When I put a picture on Facebook, someone commented that it's time to lock up my niece because she is so pretty. Have to agree with that, the pretty part, not necessarily the locking up part.
It was so fun to get to work with them professionally and they were total pros, probably because it was freezing out and they knew cooperate and get in the warm car, don't cooperate and stay out in the cold until you do. They chose cooperation. Hey, maybe I should schedule all my shoots in the cold? Just kidding.
Please click here if you would like to see the rest of the LaFleur's pictures.
So in addition to getting to spend some time this weekend with the wonderful Leo girls, I also got to go back to the same place (one of my favorites, I must admit) on Saturday and spend some time with the Donahue family. Even though it was still pretty cold (really, really cold) on Saturday, this group proved to be as much a bunch of troopers as the girls were (both for meeting me and for being so awesome). And like I said yesterday with the Leo sisters, if I didn't meet them, then I never would have been out which would not have been okay. If I didn't go out, then I would have missed the light. and oh what light it was!! It was just phenomenal, kind of like the Donahues!
The oldest 2 brought along their significant others, so of course, I took some pictures of the couples. I said to their mom that maybe it might help secure (oh, okay buy, all right, it was an out and out bribe) their cooperation. She agreed and then said the youngest 2 got no such accommodations, they just had to go along. True, but I took a picture of just the two of them anyway!
This is my sister-in-law's sister's family (is it just me or are extended family relationships so wordy?), so of course, I had to get a picture of the cousins. I wasn't patient enough though so in every single picture that I took someone had their eyes closed. Thank goodness it was a bonus and not the reason that we went!! If it was the reason that we went, then epic fail! Well maybe not epic, that is still one great looking group!!!
Additionally, mom wanted a picture of her and the kids as a present for husband. In case you are wondering, I had my sister-in-law check with her sister to make sure that it was okay to post it, I certainly don't want to be responsible for ruining any surprises. Apparently her husband doesn't read my blog (or even know it exists) so it was safe (he doesn't know what he's missing, ha!!).
Thank you Donahue family for taking time out of your holiday weekend to meet with me. It was a pleasure, albeit a cold one!! Please click here if you would like to see the rest of the Donahue's pictures.