Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Heart Faces: Scenic Black and White

Since I don't fancy myself a landscape photographer, this challenge was really hard! But as I was searching through my archives, I found the following image. It was taken during the Stewart/Colbert rally at the National Mall on Halloween weekend.

Go check out all the other entries over at I Heart Faces!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Walker Style

by Jaina

There is green beans and ham and bread and peas
Mash potatoes and turkey, Yipee!
We have a big party with people and food
Spending time together is what we do.

Okay, so we didn't have peas, we had green beans. But that doesn't rhyme as well, so I'll let it slide :)

The kids and I are currently residing in my home town of Tucker, GA where I lived from 1990-1997. Even though I lived in Boca Raton, FL from birth to age 11, I barely remember what it feels like to live way down south. When I come back to Georgia, though, it feels like home immediately.

We come down here for Thanksgiving every year. I'm thankful that my stepmom never minds cooking the big traditional meal. I have never cooked a turkey in my life and don't plan on it any time soon!

My yearly thanksgiving contributions usually include some sort of veggie or side and some chocolate pudding pie with graham cracker crust. Yum!! Now *that*, I can handle :)

We've been here since Tuesday evening and its been a whirlwind of adventure! We took the kids to North Georgia to the home of Cabbage Patch Kids. Then I went out with my sister and dad on a "daddy-daughter date" to see Harry Potter 7. Today has been filled with catching up with two out of three of my brothers. Tomorrow will find us visiting my old best friend from High School :) We'll also try to cram a trip to Stone Mountain in as well. Oh, and we have already bought tickets to see "Tangled" in 3D on Saturday morning :)

I hope all of my dear friends and family are having a wonderful time as well on this Thanksgiving holiday. There is much to be thankful for :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More from the Park by the Lake

Jaina's elementary school offers a free dance class on Wednesday afternoons. The only catch is that I have to drive to the school twice; once to pick Jayce up at 2:15 and then again at 3:45 to get Jaina. But, that's what you do as a mom so your kids don't miss out. She really enjoyed going for a while, but then got tired of it.

So now Wednesdays have become our "park days" again :) We don't have ABA until 4:15 so we are free for 2 hours to do whatever we want! This past week we chose to go to the park by the lake. We hadn't been there in forever!

Its funny how willingly my kids tolerated the camera this time! I really think Jaina has been jealous that I've turned my camera on so many other kids lately!! :) Hey, whatever works!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Before and After Blog Hop: Lake Bowen

Its been a while since I've been able to participate in a blog hop! I absolutely love Monica's Before and After one for Thursdays. Editing photos is my weakness and I've already learned so much from all the entries every week!

Here's a Straight Out Of the Camera shot of Jaina.

Ugh. Its not too pretty. I had my camera set on partial metering which would have worked fine if I had been paying more attention to my light meter. And honestly, it would have been much easier to use evaluative for this shot. At any rate, I did not properly expose this image. Its not even that great an image to begin with. I would normally not even save it, but I thought maybe I'd give it a try to play around with :)

Normally I use GIMP for my editing, but today I just tweaked it in Picasa. I adjusted the exposure by adding highlights and brightness. Then I sharpened it a bit. I then experimented with different tints to get a vintage look. And then I adjusted color tone to warm up the image a bit.

Much better to look at :) However, this does prove a point.... editing a not-so-great capture does not magically save your photo. Instead, start with a great image and only use editing to enhance it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No way today is Wordless Wednesday

Not when Jayce keeps cracking me up! His stuff is always too priceless not to share!

Earlier today:

mommy- "Do you want a snack, Jayce?"
jayce- "Yes!"
mommy- "What would you like?"
jayce- "Um, yogurt."
mommy- "Okay, you have one blueberry, one cherry, or some watermelon or raspberry. I'd rather you eat the old ones first."
jayce- "Mommy, I can't eat the old yogurt. It's inspired."

Just a few minutes ago:

daddy- "Jayce, tell me about your Guidance class today! What did you do in there?"
jayce- "I can't."
daddy- "Why not? Did you have Guidance today?"
jayce- "Yes."
daddy- "Then what did you do? Did you play a game or draw a picture?"
jayce- "I can't tell you. We had a substitution."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Boys: A Review

Although our family deals with autism on a daily basis, it has thankfully taken a backseat to our everyday lives. I'm so thrilled I can write that. For so long, autism was first and foremost in our home. Everything revolved around Jayce and his diagnosis and his therapies. It was exhausting, I'm not going to lie.

And although we have not officially lost any labels (He will get re-evaluated when he is 6), Jayce has made so much progress in catching up in his developmental delays, most people cannot tell he is even on the spectrum.

To that, I say THANK YOU to all the hardworking therapists we've had over the past 3 years. Emily, Melissa M., Candy, Christen, Melissa H., Kay, Kelli, Kimberly, Cat, Meg, Samantha, Melody, Cindy, and Allie. Jayce has come so far because of you all.

Its easy to forget for a moment that we deal with autism. First of all, its not some big scary thing to me anymore. That word does not predict my son's future. It does not tell you what things he can or cannot do. It simply means his brain is wired differently than most people's and sometimes he has to be taught in a special way in order to learn new things. That's all. He's still my Jayce.

I was very honored to be contacted by R.K. Albers on behalf of the author Ken Siri, a parent of a child with autism. Bloggers, like myself, were able to preview an electronic version of Siri's new book, 1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Boys for ourselves.

Wow.... one thousand and one tips really add up! This is such a comprehensive book about real-life practical situations and advice on how to find solutions. I'm only 76 tips in with my reading and I'm already nodding my head on absolutely everything. Where was this book 3 years ago??? I am so fortunate that I had many friends that helped lead me in the right direction, but it still took months and years to glean all the information I needed to make informed choices. This book can give you all that information in one sitting!

I love Siri's point of view and agree with it 100%. Autism is not something that can be "cured", but your child can recover from the symptoms and defining characteristics. You have to both act as an educated researcher AND a fighting advocate for your child. I always joke that my college education hasn't done much to prepare me to be a house-wife, but it sure did prepare me for being the parent of a child with autism. I do my research on everything now. What study did I just read? Who conducted it? What was their motive? Who footed the bill for the study? What do the results mean for us?

I've never fancied myself as a political person in the past. But if some government leader is threatening my son's program with budget cuts, I can get as political as necessary. I've never been interested in Law before now, but I had to bone up on some Educational Law as soon as Jayce entered the school system.

Siri spells all this out for new parents. Some topics he covers includes:
-how to make your child's label equal services
-trusting your gut as a parent and getting second professional opinions
-a lesson on IDEA, Free and Appropriate Public Education, Least Restrictive Environment, and school IEPs.
-homeschooling options
-the many different therapy styles and choices

And many, many more!

I can't wait to finish! Now I just need some free time :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

If idle hands make trouble....

... then I've certainly been an angel lately :)

I'm starting to get  a bit overwhelmed.

I received many new referrals for families to support through Family Connections. I think this brings my total up to 17. I originally told them I wouldn't take more than 13 (which happens to be the number my accordion style file folder will hold). I had a really really hard time saying no, hence the extra 4. They really need to hire another Family Partner that specializes in autism. But they don't have anyone to ask. Its just me! When I actually *did* tell them "no thanks, I'm swamped!" about two weeks ago, that referral just sat on the office desk until I was called and asked to take it again. I don't want to stand in the way of parents not getting the help and resources they need, so I took it. I know, I know.. but what could I do?

I thought that I would be smart about this whole "starting my own photography business thingy". You know, do a couple photo sessions each weekend until the weather turned too cold. No more than one on Saturday and one on Sunday, though. Um, yeah. Its that saying no thing again. I obviously haven't learned to do it yet! I had 2 last weekend, 2 this past week, 2 again this weekend, and 3 more lined up for next week. I'm squeezing shoots in after school before sunset, working around Jayce's therapy and actually hiring sitters for my kids (which I said I'd never do!)

So why? 'Cause I'm having so much fun :) I have to be honest, I was really worried about how my love for photography might change once I actually started attempting to please clients and getting paid for sessions. I've heard that it can do that to some people. Thankfully, that hasn't happened to me. In fact, its been the exact opposite. I feel like I can finally be creative and try new things. My kids are SO sick of me following them around with a camera. Its been refreshing to shoot other children and even adults! Surprisingly, I'm not even nervous right before a session! Now, ask me about the moment before the client sees their images for the first time! That does make me nervous!

The bottom line is that my two part time jobs are becoming a full-time job rather quickly. But I love both of them so much. I know it will all work out.

I've been behind blogging my photo sessions on my wordpress photography blog so I thought I'd share a couple of my favorites here :)

And to think... I still have to decorate for Christmas soon, too! Calgon take me away!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 on 10: november

ten on ten button

Well, thank goodness I don't get graded for my blog posts or photo assignments. 'Cause I'm pretty sure I'd fail this one.

The assignment:

Take a single photo each hour for ten consecutive hours on the 10th day of the month.

I started out okay.

7:10 AM... time to take kids to school. Jayce refused to be in the photo and Jaina was specific on where she would stand. So much for natural!

8:15 AM.... well, this one was slightly harder to capture. I was in the shower at exactly 8:15 AM when I remembered I needed to take a photo for my 8 O'clock slot. This is as good as you are gonna get. No one wants to see me naked, I promise!

9:15 AM... found me working upstairs on my computer. I emailed playgroup reminders, organized hostesses for December playgroups for MOMS Club, uploaded pics, and started the editing and selection process from my Sunday photo session. And yes, my desk is that messy all the time.

10:15 AM... still working away! I've completed one photo session and burned a disc. On to the other one!

11:15 AM.... here's where I fail. I pulled up to my children's school right at 11:10 AM. And instantly realized that I left my camera at home on the counter. Crap. I go in and have lunch with Jaina, followed by lunch with Jayce.

12:15 PM... I'm leaving the kids' school and heading all the way back to my house to pick up my camera. Why? 'Cause I couldn't miss this:

1:15 PM... at this moment, my dear friend Angie's 1 day old newborn is receiving her hearing test. I've never seen this done before! She slept right through it!

2:15 PM... I'm racing across the parking lot to pick up the kids from school. Then its back to the hospital to pick up Angie's 2nd oldest who needed a break from the new baby stuff. I totally forgot to take a photo!!

3:15 PM... I swing by the library on the way home to return over due books and videos. Then off to home! We've just walked in the door when the phone rings. Its Becca and she wants us to meet her at the park. Okay!

4:15 PM... One last pic at the park before heading home. Jayce's ABA therapist arrives at 4:15!!

5:15 PM... this next photo is deceiving. Jayce pretty much had a meltdown as soon as Allie walked in the door. He wanted to change all the clocks in the house to say 4:15 PM. We let him change the microwave clock since he could reach it, but it didn't appease him. He pretty much argued and cried and yelled the entire 2 hours she was there. There was a brief moment where he agreed to sit down and write his name one time. Hence, the photo.

6:15 PM... its dark by this time and we have to take Virginia back home to stay with her grandma while Angie is still in the hospital. Another fail on the photo capturing.

7:15 PM.... Ah, dinner. A turkey roast from the crock pot with yummy veggies. And bread.

And that was my day. I'm tired!

Monday, November 08, 2010

I am currently most thankful for....

Soccer being over!!!!

(does that make me a bad mom?)

No more twice a week practices! No more instant meals on those nights! No more dragging heavy chairs to the field! No more Saturday games that take up our entire morning!

The kids are thrilled, too. Well, not because the season's over. They'll miss their friends and coaches very much.

They are just thrilled they got medals :)

Now, we have a small break before basketball and cheerleading!