Monday, July 21, 2014

Baby Mickey

We have one rubbermaid tub full of baby dolls, blankets, and accessories.


If we put all of our stuffed animals in rubbermaid tubs, we'd have six or seven.

No, I'm not kidding.

And yes, we weed through all the stuffed animals all the time and get rid of ones that have lost interest or sentimental value.

All three of my kids prefer playing house with their stuffed animals over traditional dolls. Jaina and Jayce still play with their Build-a-Bear and Ugly Doll stuffed animals.

I bet you can take a guess at what Jocelyn likes to play with the most.

Jaina has taught Jocelyn an alternate version of "Hush Little Baby" which includes a grizzly bear going to time-out. Jocelyn wanted to wrap her Baby Mickey up in a swaddle so she could sing it to him. Jaina is such a great big sister.

Hush, little baby
Don't say a word.
Momma's gonna buy you
A Mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird
Won't sing
Papa's gonna buy you
A diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring
Turns to brass
Momma's going to buy you
A looking glass

And if that looking glass
Gets broke
Papa's gonna buy you
A billy goat

And when that billy goat 
Gets scared
Jaina's gonna buy you a
Grizzly bear!

(And that Grizzly Bear is going to go to Time-out for pulling your hair!)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cheer Camp

My 12 year old tried out for the Middle School cheerleading squad this past Spring... and didn't make it :( It was the first time one of my kids had experienced real disappointment. I was very proud of Jaina and how she handled it.

At first, she decided she wouldn't try out again. She'd concentrate on her tumbling classes and improving her skills there.

She did, however, agree to one session of Summer Cheer Camp.

And she loved it! Even more than last year!

Her friend Reagan signed up for the same week and rode to the performance with us.

The girls performed at the Greenville Drive baseball game in front of a big crowd.

I recorded the performance at the field, but its on Jaina's phone, not mine. (As are the rest of the pictures I took there!) but I have this recording from practice the day before.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Disenchanted Zoo

Are zoos an essential part of endangered animal conservation or just touristy big businesses showcasing unhappy animals in captivity? This question has always weighed heavily on my mind, even as a little girl growing up in Southern Florida and visiting the Miami Zoo. (Which is now called Zoo Miami. Not quite sure why. Does that actually sound better?)

Don't get me wrong... I have great memories of that zoo. I remember riding an elephant with my dad. I remember feeding the giraffes and watching the lions and flamingos. And then there were those great wax toy molds that you could buy at the end of your visit. My mom and I were just talking about those the other day.

I was 11 when we moved to a suburb of Atlanta. The Atlanta Zoo (Which is also called Zoo Atlanta... why?) is awesome. My favorite exhibit is watching the panda bears. My kids have also been to that zoo several times with me and their grandparents. They love the rhinoceros and the red panda walk through.

But our zoo here? Well, it just makes me sad. Its very small. I mean, very very small. It doesn't have many large mammals that most zoos have. We miss seeing tigers and rhinos and bears. Now add elephants to that list. Our local zoo was not up to code on the enclosure requirements for housing an elephant herd and there is no room for them to expand. They had to find a home for their lone elephant left, Joy.

Sadly, Joy died during transport to a zoo out west. It may or may not have been because of negligence on the zoo's part. There were some safety precautions that were not taken with her.

The elephant enclosure is now permanently closed. A sign hangs on the fence covering the exhibit in memory of Joy.

We had free passes to the Greenville Zoo (which is not called Zoo Greenville, fyi) this Summer. We've just been patiently waiting for a cool or overcast day. We took advantage of this past week's "polar vortex" to enjoy the zoo in 70 degree temperatures. In July. That's pretty awesome.

This was Jocelyn's first time at the zoo since she was 6 months old. I'd say she enjoyed it way more than 2 years ago :)

We met our friends Danielle and Becca there, along with their children Logan, Louis, Cassie, and Livvie. Oh, and Minnie Mouse came, too.

My 50D camera body was in the shop, so these pictures were taken with my Rebel xsi, which is the reason for the poor quality. And I probably should have used my 85 mm lens instead of my 50. Oh well!

The observation glass sorely needs to be replaced. Its scratched and clouded and discolored. I tried moving to the side of the glass and shooting through the wire bars, but I couldn't get close enough to them.

I will definitely bring my 85 mm lens next time. Much better pictures of the lions two years ago!

The giraffes were all outside that day in their enclosure. They are beautiful!

Mommy giraffe Autumn is pregnant again and due any time. What makes me sad, though, is that Autumn and her spouse Walter are just on loan to the zoo. That means the first two giraffes that are born actually belong to the zoos that Autumn and Walter are on loan to us for. The third baby, if there is a third baby, will belong to the Greenville Zoo. The first baby, Kiko, who is 2 years old, will be shipping out shortly. I do not like hearing about mommas and babies being separated so its probably a good thing I don't work at a zoo.

We stopped to pet a tortoise on the way to see the leopards.

Because of the concerns about the size of the elephant enclosure, I was taking a pretty close look at every animal's enclosure and I just wasn't satisfied. Yes, I am sure the zoo is meeting all of their recommended needs but I just don't think its enough. This leopard pacing back and forth his small cage does not depict happiness to me.

The kids did pretty good staying with us the whole time. That is until Jocelyn decided to go out of the leopard observation area the opposite direction than everyone else was going. We had just realized that she wasn't with us when a daycare teacher approached me with a crying Jocelyn. She was only gone for 5 seconds but long enough to freak everyone out. She was assigned to the stroller for the rest of the trip.

Our next stop was to visit the orangutans.  My camera had a hard time focusing on the actual monkeys and not the scratched part of the glass in the observation area. A momma orangutan and a baby were wrestling right in front of the glass.

If you look closely, you can see LIvvie and Jocelyn's reflections in the glass. That's why the baby orangutan looks like he has pink on his head.

Overall, we had a good time with our friends. Jocelyn was disappointed that we didn't get to see a tiger but buying a stuffed animal in the gift shop was good enough for her.

We went swimming at Becca's house after the zoo.

Jocelyn actually wore her swimsuit in the pool instead of using it as day time play clothes or pajamas for once :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Terrific Twos

Age Two looks different on every kid.

Jaina? She was an awesome two year old. But boy could she throw down a tantrum. And I distinctly remember her testing the limits a lot. Yet, most of my memories of her contain dress-up clothes, her first movie in a theater, playing with stuffed animals, and her play kitchen.

(I don't have as many digital pictures of her at this age since I mainly used my film camera back then)

Jayce was a totally different two year old than his sister. He was intense. Some people like to say "high needs" but its basically the same. He needed constant supervision. I do remember a lot of Thomas the Train back when he was two. But I also remember the screaming. And constantly trying to figure out what he wanted and how to make him happy.

It stands to reason that Jocelyn would be her own individual brand of two years old as well.

She is extremely verbal and social, just like her sister was, but much more cautious and slow-to-warm with new people and new situations. She is way more attached to me than either Jaina or Jayce were at this age. Jocelyn is very sensitive herself and shows empathy for other people.

Although I love all three of my children very, very, very much, I have to admit that I am enjoying Jocelyn's two year old phase a lot more than her siblings. Its okay... the Karma gods will make sure I don't enjoy another age and stage of hers at some point :)

I love her personality.
I think its funny that she has an intense love for Minnie and Mickey Mouse, but still has loyal interests with other things, too.
I smile when she says, "I hug you, Mommy!" when she wants to be held.
I laugh when she puts herself in Time-Out in solidarity with Jayce when he gets sent to his room.
I cannot believe that she is so ruthless when she tickles me. She goes straight for my neck and doesn't let up, laughing manically the entire time.
I love how she is so contradictory. "No, I not tired mommy." But if you say you are tired, she says, "No, I'M tired!"

I never want to forget her expressions:

"Are you happy, mommy?" she asks me daily.
"I not a baby, I a BIG girl! But I wear a diaper."
"I don't hear a tinkle tinkle in the potty. It doesn't want to come out!"
"It is not nap time. The sun is still up!"
 "Let me do it!"
"I need help, please. No, only MOMMY help me!"
"I miss my Jayce. Where's my brudder?"
"I not wear clothes. I wear my swimsoup and my swim bottoms."
"These not match. I need pink shoes with my pink swimsoup."
"I so proud of you!"
"Go pick up Jaina? She not go to Kelsey's house. She stay home."

One thing that I regret is that we no longer have our sony VHS camcorder. I know technology is supposed to be better now with camera phones and you tube but its not the same. I have 6 VHS tapes full of 10 years of my older two children's lives. All I have recorded of Jocelyn are snippets here and there.

I recorded this interview with her the other day. Forgive me for not turning the camera sideways. I always forget!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kamee June

It all started when my friend Ami hired photographer Jessica Claire to document her vow renewal in Atlanta, GA. I quickly became addicted to her photography website.

She posted some images from a shoot that included a mom, dad, and preschool aged son and mentioned that the mom was just starting her photography journey herself. Curious, I clicked on the link and found myself following Kamee June's blog.

Both Kamee and Jessica (along with DrewB and Jasmine Star) are photographers that serve the greater Orange County area in California. I just love their own unique styles of photography. I secretly would try to figure out the most cost effective way for me to meet one of these talented ladies, either have a photo session with them, or a mentoring session. Since airfare to California from SC isn't cheap, and a cross-country drive with three children is pretty much out of the question, I just figured that I would never get a chance to meet them any time soon.

Kamee mentioned on her blog that she *might* be traveling to the NC area this Spring. I immediately emailed her and asked if she could let me know if she did end up coming. After a couple of schedule rearrangements, a final date was set in June.


So, then I had to decide if I wanted to have a mentoring session or a photo session with her. I figured her mentoring would be invaluable but I would be disappointed if I didn't have her images hanging in my home. A photography session it is!

I'm going to be honest. Even with the special she ran in the Spring and graciously extended to our Summer session, she costs 3-4 times what an on location custom photographer costs in this area. I had to save my money! My kids were sick of hearing, "No, we can't eat out today. I am saving my money for pictures!"

Choosing outfits was next to impossible. Jocelyn only wanted to wear MInnie Mouse and I wasn't about to wear black and red in the June heat and humidity. I finally picked the following:

We let Jocelyn stay in her Minnie Mouse swimsuit as long as possible.

We left to pick up Jayce from baseball camp and then hit the road to drive to Charlotte, NC which is about 70 miles from our home.

I picked the location of our session to be Belmont Abbey College after suggestions from my FB friends. We arrived a bit early so the kids ran around for a bit until Kamee and her friend Ashley arrived. 

I am really really sad that I didn't get a picture of Kamee and I on my phone :( Now how can I prove that I really met her?

She was everything I thought she would be :) Kind, funny, smart, and very good at her job. Her second shooter Ashley was amazing and great with the kids.

Here are some of my favorite images from our session:

As you can see, Brian was missing from these pictures.

This is what he said when I told him I was doing this:

"You want me to take off of work early. On a weekday. And drive to Charlotte. To take pictures that you are paying too much for. And then do it again in the Fall for Christmas pictures? NO THANKS."

So I told Kamee these were my mother's day presents to myself :P

It was an amazing experience and I am SO glad I got to meet her :)

Now to get my pictures printed!