Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Fun Night for John

You know S's friend John and his wife Jennifer, not to mention his cute little boy Jack, and his mom and aunt that we saw at the Pioneer Woman's book signing...

...well, John, as I've mentioned here and there, is having a time of it recently. Those fabulous lungs he received just a little over two years ago are now being rejected by his body. He's been in and out of the hospital with the complications from this. Not to mention this treatment and that, all trying to stop the rejection. He's back on the transplant list, hoping to get another set of life saving lungs, and trying to stay well enough to endure the surgery that comes with a transplant like that.

IMG_5601 (by Ateupamateur)
Jennifer and Jack at the party.

And Jennifer and Jack have to be emotionally spent too. And his parents. And scores of other friends and relatives. It's exhausting wishing the best for your loved one. Of course, it's the only thing to do - the thing you want to be there to do - but it is draining - taxing - a long haul for everyone involved. Not to mention John is the kind of person who, lying in that bed, I am certain, is on some level worrying about what he can do for all of them. It's a trying, tiring situation where everyone is hoping - waiting - praying - for the best. And feeling the good wishes of friends around them. And the good work of prayer. Nonetheless...it has to be, well, not what any of them would like to be doing.

Saturday night, one of John's friends organized a fundraiser to benefit John and his family. The funds collected from a cover charge for each participant and from a silent auction of hundreds of donated items all went to John's family to help defray the costs of medical care, living expenses while John is away from work, and the general needs of his family. You would not believe the outpouring of his friends and family and the outpouring of total strangers for this auction. There were hundreds - HUNDREDS - of auction items at all price levels. From baseballs to high end vacations and everything in between.

In fact, I went to the salon Saturday to get a little update. While I was there, my stylist and friend Michelle, who happens to be the best stylist in the world in case you were wondering, asked me what we were doing Saturday night. So, I told her we were going to this benefit. She up and donated a haircut/blow dry/style from her to the event. Can you believe that? I thought it was incredibly nice of her. And it brought in some money for John's family. So it was great.


IMG_5609 (by Ateupamateur)

Anyway, the event was held at this very chic bar called the AM/PM Lounge. I am here to tell you one thing I quite know for sure about that place - that I am certainly not cool enough to be part of their regular clientele. Not even close. The event was from 6-8pm, long before the regulars would be coming out to party on a Saturday night. You know, after I'm in bed, comfortably sleeping in my jammies. And I meant to take my good camera to the event, but in the hustle and bustle of the day I totally forgot. So I had the trusty purse camera and you have some grainy, slightly blurry photos to check out of the festivities.


IMG_5612 (by Ateupamateur)
S, Cheryl and Sam

S's brother Michael and his wife Brooke went along as well as S's parents Sam and Cheryl. S and John have been friends since they were in the 2nd grade, so the whole family knows John and wanted to pitch in.


IMG_5606 (by Ateupamateur)
The bidding floor.

We all had a fun time bidding on some items of interest. And we all won something we were bidding on. S won some very nice Nocona boots. I tried to win the one female pair but the bidding got too rich for me. I won some hair products that I use regularly. S's dad won a retro looking radio that he really had his eye on. Brooke and Michael won a portrait session from an acclaimed local portrait photographer. So, it was a good night for us too, I'd say!


IMG_5610 (by Ateupamateur)
A photo of the big, main bar.

IMG_5611 (by Ateupamateur)
The kitchen, just behind the bidding area.

IMG_5595 (by Ateupamateur)
A close up of some auction items.

IMG_5599 (by Ateupamateur)
I thought this ceiling of disco balls was cool.

IMG_5608 (by Ateupamateur)
A cool chair on the way to the restroom.

IMG_5607 (by Ateupamateur)
The restrooms.

Yes, that's right. The restrooms were cutting edge too. They were very "open." Don't get me wrong, the commodes were individually behind those and other doors out of the frame, but you could see right into the men's and women's sides of the space, with that column there separating the area. If you were a woman washing your hands at the sink or checking your hair, any man doing the same could see you and vice versa. Clearly, again, I was totally not cool enough for this place. And I am totally comfortable with my un-coolness.

But, what was definitely way cool - cooler than this place and all the people in it - was the collective way everyone came together for John and his family. That part was way, way cool. And, of course, we are keeping John in our prayers, wishing and hoping the very best outcome of this current situation, and many, many more future, happy reasons to party.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Portrait Attempt

IMG_5868 edited (by Ateupamateur)
Faleena, Caitlin, Mark

Over the holiday break I had the pleasure of photographing my friends Faleena and Mark with their newest addition, baby Caitlin. They were hoping to get a family photo out of the time spent with my camera, and I think we were able to get a couple of decent shots.


IMG_5836 edited (by Ateupamateur)
Some glare issues here with Mark's glasses here, but it's so good of Mama and baby I left it in.

We had some limitations to the photo shoot - we tried earlier in the week, but Caitlin was coming down with a serious ear infection and was not her usual lovely self, as you can imagine. And the weather, you might remember, was unseasonably cold for Dallas for most of the month of December and the start of 2010. Thank goodness this week we've gotten back to some unseasonably WARM temperatures!


IMG_5850 cropped and edited (by Ateupamateur)

Even when Caitlin was feeling better a few days later, she was sort of sober for the shoot. I got a couple with a little smile, but mostly caught genuine sober baby faces, which are cute enough for anyone. And, this photographer isn't as adept at capturing photos of little ones this age...once they start toddling around, I'm a little better. A little.


IMG_5830 edited (by Ateupamateur)

This post showcases a couple of the shots I felt were the most interesting. I hope you enjoy them.

IMG_5881 edited (by Ateupamateur)
We took the inside shots at Mark's parents' house.

IMG_5885 cropped and edited (by Ateupamateur)
I think there is no debating who's running the show here.

IMG_5895 edited (by Ateupamateur)
She's clearly looking at Mommy here.

IMG_5923 edited (by Ateupamateur)
Speaking of Mommy, here's an attempt at a mother-daughter pose.

IMG_5937 edited (by Ateupamateur)
I love this one.

IMG_5949 edited (by Ateupamateur)
And how about a few of the big C by herself.

IMG_5953 edited (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5955 edited (by Ateupamateur)
And I think this one clearly shows Caitlin's thoughts on the photographer.


IMG_5974 edited  - this is my frog - (by Ateupamateur)
The frog turned out to be a good prop.

IMG_5973 edited (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5970 edited (by Ateupamateur)
She's a cute one, no?

Last but not least, we attempted a group shot with the grandparents and the dog. This was almost too much for this photographer. Her skills are of the AMATEUR variety. But, with help from Photoshop, we got the following composite...

family group edited (by Ateupamateur)

I think it looks like they are watching me worrying about the outcome of the shot and wondering that themselves, but if you didn't know the circumstance, they are all looking towards the camera, except the baby, who is looking in the general direction anyway, and have pleasant looks on their faces. So, it wasn't a total washout I suppose!

So there you have it. Some photos of my friends from LA LA Land. Thank you, Faleena and Mark for letting me attempt a family photo for you. I hope you enjoy them!

Since I haven't posted recently, I'll give you a little update on stuff around here. Let me tell you the class is off to a good start. It's a lot of work for me and them, I suppose, but so far so good. And the diet isn't in full throttle yet after the holiday hiatus I must confess, but the good news is I haven't gained any weight since the last official weigh in before the holidays. And that's something! Besides working feverishly at work and on the class, S and I have started working on the little things on the house we have never finished - trim, paint, etc in an attempt to finish things up and have the pleasure of living in a "finished" house. (Does that ever happen?) I have also started taking a look at those closets of mine and I'm making a plan for a late winter purge. We have too much STUFF, people. Too much. God bless us.

Best wishes for the rest of your week and for whatever it is you have on tap for the weekend. See you soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Losing a Loyal Companion

dawson (by Ateupamateur)

Over the weekend our friends Cathy and Thomas lost their first baby, Dawson, a chocolate lab, to bone cancer. He was thirteen. He had a pretty long life, considering his health, for a dog. And he was certainly one of the "good ones" - a very good dog.

He was an integral part of their family and I know he is greatly missed today and for years to come. Dogs - pets, animals - they become such a part of our family, don't they? And they reward us for this inclusion with unconditional love. It is so hard to lose them when they go.

Of course, Dawson's death has me thinking of my own aging pet population here at home. Ellie is ten and Echo is nine. They are not going to live forever. If we're lucky, we have five or six more hopefully healthy years with them by our sides. And then there's Norman, who at twelve, still thinks he's middle aged, showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever.

But our girls, they already show signs of age. They take medicine. They sleep a lot more. They don't want to walk quite as far. I don't know why God chose to give us such wonderful companions who cannot be with us for any longer than they are, but this is a fact of life that we pet lovers have to make part of our reality.

I think it is because we don't really appreciate all that love coming our way. Maybe it's so we do appreciate them more. In fact, I think it's the reason some choose to not have pets - to not go through the grief of losing them. But, I believe the love and companionship they give is worth the grief tenfold.

There are many people who say animals don't go to heaven when they die - that they don't have souls. I am not a learned philosopher or sage in any way, but I disagree with this point of view for two reasons. First, I disagree they have no souls. Anyone who has loved and known a dog in their life knows these animals have old, deep souls that surpass our silly little consciousness in so many ways. Second, I believe if heaven is to be paradise that my dogs will be there with me. No paradise would be complete without them.

I send hugs to Cathy and Thomas and their children as they grieve the loss of their loyal friend. And I'll hug my girls a little tighter and a little longer as I try to capture every moment I can with them at my side.

Best wishes for your week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Texas Christmas

IMG_5768 (by Ateupamateur)

When we made it back to Texas after Christmas, we gathered together with S's side of the family to celebrate the holiday (and his birthday) a little late.


IMG_5775 (by Ateupamateur)
It was mostly about kids opening presents.

IMG_5779 (by Ateupamateur)
This was an unusual gift for Alexandra.

I wish I had a "before" photo. In fact, I thought I HAD a "before" photo. I looked everywhere for it, and it's nowhere to be found, so I guess I don't have one. It is unusual in that we aren't usually the artsy crafty types. We're usually the "cash in hand" type of aunt or uncle. So, this was indeed exceptional prior planning on our part.

Anyway, I picked up that babydoll crib, completely in disrepair, at the same rummage sale where I purchased the little stool that I refurbished. I decided it had potential and the niece closest to the appropriate age for all that potential was probably Alexandra. S sanded down the structure, filled the nail holes, smoothed and repaired the wood. I created a mattress and cover, pillow and baby blanket. I even made a blankie for Alexandra so she and her babydoll would have a matching pair.


IMG_5782 (by Ateupamateur)

I think it turned out pretty well. If you could see the "before" photos you would think so too. Alexandra received a babydoll from Santa that will be perfect for the new babydoll crib. (not pictured here) But, when she opened it, she decided SHE was the perfect size for the babydoll crib. Not exactly the plan, but you know, go with the flow.


IMG_5791 (by Ateupamateur)

Since I was sewing, and Andrew likes to cuddle with soft things, I made this "boy" blankie for him. Of course, he really was more into the wrapping paper than the presents at his age.


IMG_5794 (by Ateupamateur)
The parents opened some gifts too.


IMG_5809 (by Ateupamateur)
Then we were entertained by the munchkins.


IMG_5812 (by Ateupamateur)
That's pretty much how it goes when they are around.
And they are pretty entertaining.

So look at that - even on hiatus, I've managed to recap Christmas before the end of January. I am feverishly preparing for my first class, which happens to be on Thursday. Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it.

Happy Tuesday! See you soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hoosier Christmas

Before 2010 is half over, I figure I should post about the fun we had in Indiana for Christmas. We did all the things we usually do when we go to Indiana - visited family, mainly. We just did them again this year. Another year gone by, new stories to tell. Kids are different ages, into different things. You know, general family stuff!


IMG_5510 (by Ateupamateur)
Cora, reading to Deacon and S.

In that photo up there, S is wearing his "Hawaii Bowl" shirt, which we went out to a special store to purchase before leaving Dallas and he donned on Christmas Eve, you know, for the big game. And SMU won. In case you didn't know it. SMU went to a bowl game. Played on national television. And won. Amazing. A Christmas miracle!


IMG_5602 (by Ateupamateur)
Grandpa and Veda

In that photo, Veda is wearing her pair of pajamas that my mother made. She also made a matching pair for her American Girl doll. They are pink with soccer balls all over. Very, very Veda. Veda is also holding in her hot little hand one of the electronic games that engulfed the kids this Christmas. They do keep them quiet and occupied, but it's a little strange HOW occupied...


IMG_5614 (by Ateupamateur)
On Christmas night, we all gathered to celebrate S's birthday.

We had spaghetti. Of course. And chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. And there was singing involved. And ice cream. It was a regular birthday extravaganza.


IMG_5637 (by Ateupamateur)
We gathered together with all my brothers and their families at dad's house.

And that little on on the left - that's my great-nephew Rolen - he's growing like only a kid can, I guess. So big! And of course, on the right is Ryon, also growing a lightning speed. In the background is my brother Rick, Ryon's dad.


IMG_5663 (by Ateupamateur)
Dad got a leaf blower from the kids.
I'm pretty sure the packaging didn't "blow" the surprise.


IMG_5642 (by Ateupamateur)
This is one of Veda WITHOUT the silly face.
It's because S took it. She likes him better.

IMG_5643 (by Ateupamateur)
Not the greatest photo, but check out Ryon's ensemble...
...cowboy boots go with EVERYTHING!

IMG_5673 (by Ateupamateur)
We took a few family photos - this one I thought was exceptionally good!

IMG_5582 (by Ateupamateur)
We went to feed the less fortunate again this year with my mom's extended side of the family.

IMG_5575 (by Ateupamateur)
The kids set things out in the serving area and helped serve.


IMG_5578 (by Ateupamateur)
Unk and Lori were in charge of the french toast sticks.

IMG_5586 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5591 (by Ateupamateur)
S washed dishes.
In his baggy jeans. We did get him some new pants that fit over the break.
Four inches smaller in the waist...can you believe that!

IMG_5579 (by Ateupamateur)
Steve and I spent some time playing guitar.
We really enjoyed it, even though you can't tell in this photo.

IMG_5727 (by Ateupamateur)
A fun time was had by all.

IMG_5723 (by Ateupamateur)
Yes, the gloves DO help you play the game.

IMG_5522 (by Ateupamateur)
We had a wonderful trip.

IMG_5716 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5705 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5572 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5755 (by Ateupamateur)
Another wonderful holiday to remember.

Best wishes for your Thursday. See you soon!