Friday, April 29, 2011

Photog Friday: Giveaway Winner!

Because it is Friday...

Because I just chowed down on some Chipotle...

Because I have a date with some other mommies...

and becauseI have LOVED reading all the of entries, I have decided to announce the winner of the giveaway.

I went to http://www.random.org/ to choose a random number between 1 and 20 and the generator picked 17!

Congratulations to "G Family" for winning a $200 photo session! Looking forward to capturing all the love in your family :-)

With Love,

Stacy

Monday, April 25, 2011

What It's Like

For this week’s blog post, Steve and I each took on the question, “What is it like to be a mother/father?” Without any further guidance we split off to our respective computers and began to write…
What it’s like to be a mother…
When I was a teenager, I was asked to go on a family vacation with my friend Laura. I can remember that vacation like it was yesterday. It was one of the most relaxed times I have ever had. The vacation started in a quaint town called Ludington Michigan and ended on an island in the middle of the Muskoka Lakes in Ontario, Canada.  It was the only time I was totally unplugged in my life. We slept in a perfectly constructed yet simple cabin. There was no electricity, but it was meant to be that way. It was a place built to connect with family, nature and God and to disconnect with everything that weighed us down in the outside world.  There wasn’t a detail missed in it’s construction.  The front yard came to a cliff edge that faced West and around the perimeter of the yard sat a few Adirondack chairs that welcomed us all  to watch God’s perfectly created sun, set in an array of pinks, purples, orange, and yellows that splashed across the sky. Our nights were filled with conversations about love and our future as we stargazed on a hammock perfectly spread across the covered porch. We fell asleep to the sound of the lakes waters gently breaking over the rocks below. We took baths in the fresh water lake and enjoyed our days sailing across the waters. Our friendship grew tremendously on that trip and it was a time I speak of often and forever cherish.

 Laura and I have remained friends throughout the years and although distance has disabled us from seeing each other, we make the effort to stay in tuned to one another’s lives. Laura had her first baby Leah a couple years before Addisyn was born and while I was pregnant, Laura showered me with support. One day during work she emailed me and told me that the love that I would experience for Addisyn would be like no other love I have ever experienced. I kindly replied by saying that I couldn’t even imagine what kind of love she is referring to, because the love I shared with Steve was out of this world. It was heaven sent and it was all I needed or wanted to know. And my heart was so full it was bursting at the seams.  “Yes”, Laura responded, “but it’s a different kind of love.” I shared this email conversation with my husband. Almost as if I couldn’t believe she was telling me that I would love someone more than my husband. It wasn’t possible.
And several months later, I met her. After an induction, sixteen hours of labor, and two and a half hours of pushing, Addisyn was placed into my arms. And all the things that Laura told me were true. Addisyn made my heart bigger instantaneously and she became my inspiration in a single second.

Sometimes my friends ask me what it’s like being a mother. And today, my answer is this: Being a mother is like God perfectly constructed the most serene, peaceful, beautiful scene in my life and painted it on my heart for all time. No details were missed in the bond between Addisyn and me. To me, it’s sailing the waters, watching the sunset, stargazing, and falling asleep to the gentle sounds of the water breaking over the rocks below. It is the perfect recipe of the most peaceful time of my life and the love I couldn’t imagine, but have experienced every day of my life since January 5th, 2010. That is what it’s like.

What it’s like to be a father

When Addy was still an infant, right around two months old, my buddy Gerald stopped by the house to meet my daughter and to see how Stacy and I were doing as new parents.   Gerald doesn’t have any kids and, after meeting Addy (she was sleeping), he asked me what it was like being a first time father.  I stood before him sleep deprived, stressed, probably a little delirious, and suggested to him the following exercise.       
“Gerald, when you get home I want you to grab your alarm clock and turn it up as loud as it goes.  Change the setting to the loud honking beeps; don’t cheat and use the radio.  After you have the volume maxed out, set the alarm for a minute past the current time.  Then, when it goes off, hold it against the side of your head for two hours.” 

I paused. I think I scared him.  I’m sure Gerald felt awkwardly conflicted between pitying me for having such a bleak outlook on parenting and wondering why he decided to stop by my house in the first place.
“Addy screams and cries, sometimes for no reason.  She wakes up every two hours and so do Stacy and me.  I feel like I haven’t slept in months, I get frustrated over nothing and everything, and I don’t know when it’s going to end.”

Now Gerald was getting obviously uncomfortable.  Poor guy, just wanted to stop by and hear “Parenting? Oh it’s great!  The baby’s a little angel!” and be on his way. 

“But I never want to let her go.”  He looked at me trying to understand.  “When she cries I want her to know that Daddy’s here and he always will be.  When she’s scared, I want to put her at ease.  With her I’ve found a love I’d never known and I can’t remember what life was like without her.”
If Gerald told me today (we’re still very close friends…no harm done from this encounter) that that was the most confusing conversations he has ever had, I would understand.  You just have no idea what it’s like to be a father until you are one.   

Before Addy was born, I will admit, I thought taking care of a child would be kind of like taking care of a new puppy.  She would sleep all night and most of the day.  We’d feed her and play with her when she was awake, and as long as she wasn’t hungry, hurt, and didn’t go poopy, there would be no crying.  Just Addy, Stacy, and I watching T.V. on the couch, reading bed time stories, and teaching her the ways of life until she was old enough to get around on her own.  Can any parents out there see a few problems with this line of thinking?  Well, I’m glad parenting didn’t turn out the way I had anticipated. If it did, I would have missed out on all the good stuff.

Addy is almost sixteen months old now.  There’s still screaming, crying, and sometimes she has diaper surprises that redefine the word “poopy”, but there is also oh so much more than could ever be experienced from the outside looking in.  Like how the three of us are woven together.  My daughter may have my eyes, my hair, and Stacy’s lips, but she also has half of each of our hearts.  She’s given us a love so abundant that it overflows our hearts and spills into our souls.  There’s a moment every day that leaves us wondering what we did to deserve such joy.  She gives our lives life and makes our family complete.
So what it’s like to be a father? To me, it like receiving a priceless gift, finding a daily joy, and experiencing a love unequaled.

**GIVEAWAY**

If you live in DE, MD, or VA, don't forget to enter the $200 photo session giveaway by clicking here. You won't want to miss it! Four days left :-)




 









Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One More for Love The Story: Chapter 15 - Guilty

“I love Golden Grams, these things are delicious!” I said to Melissa, as I was sitting at the kitchen table pouring milk over my bowl of delicious gram crackery goodness.  She was at the kitchen cupboards looking over the cereal boxes for what seemed like fifteen minutes.  “In the commercial when they say, ‘how do they cram all that gram?’ it’s supposed to be a joke, but seriously, how do they do it?” I put a spoonful in my mouth. “This stuff is amazing!”          


“If you were seeing someone else, would you tell me about it?” asked Melissa, clearly not as excited about cereal as I was. 


“Yes.” I said, swallowing and feeling the mood take a more serious tone. “If you were seeing someone else would you tell me?” I asked in return.


“Yes.” Was her response, still deciding between the three cereal options we had available. “If you fell out of love with me, would you tell me?”


“Yes.” I said, trying to figure out where this conversation was leading, “Why do you ask?”


“Just wondering” She said shutting the cupboard doors.  “Nothing here looks good, I think I’m gonna go to McDonalds and come back with some breakfast.”


“Ok?” I responded unsure of the rationale behind this conversation. Before I could ask for a clearer explanation, she grabbed her keys off counter and headed out the front door.


I heard her car leave the driveway and stayed there at the kitchen table eating my cereal and trying to remember everything that happened the night I was supposed to meet Stacy at her house.  I had been through a few relationships and from my experience questions about infidelity and falling out of love were never a case of “just wondering”.  Think Steve, think. Was I even cheating on Melissa?  I was willing to admit I may have been emotionally cheating, but she couldn’t prove that.  She must have talked to someone from my work.  They told her about the conversations Stacy and I would have.  How I’d hang out with her for hours on the bread truck and that we planned to meet up alone together one night at her house.  Wait a second, how can I prove I didn’t cheat on Melissa that night? I started to put my Forensic Files trained investigative skills to the test:


1)  I went to Wal-Mart and didn’t tell her. 
2)  I knew before leaving that there was a good chance that Stacy and I would have been alone together.


3)  Stacy and I had a phone conversation that night.  If Melissa got a warrant for my phone records, she would see a conversation between Stacy and me late at night when I said I was meeting up with “someone from work”. 
4)  Cameras.  Everything’s being recorded these days.  I’m sure it wouldn’t take too much convincing to get the video feeds from local traffic cameras and Wal-Mart security footage shipped to the house.  Then, one night when I’m on my way to work…BAM I’m on Cheaters.


5)  Fingerprints and DNA.  Somehow they always seem to come up in these types of investigations and I had both…guilty thy name be Steve Hart.
Just as I realized how bad the case was building against me (and that I probably watch a little too much CSI), I heard the sound of a phone vibration on the kitchen counter under the cereal cupboards.  I started to get up to see if it was my mine, but noticed that my phone was sitting on the table next to my bowl. 


Broken from my self-interrogating daze, I finished my bowl of cereal and took my dishes to the kitchen sink.  As I passed by Melissa’s phone, I glanced down to see who the text was from expecting it to be from Karen.  She probably had a question about the birthday party we’d be throwing for her on Christmas Eve.  To my surprise, the text ID said it was from one of her supervisors at work, Adam Schefield.


I had met Adam a number of times.  He stood a little over six feet tall in a thin frame with fashionably styled blond hair and blue eyes.  He was in his mid twenties and was the youngest manager at the casino by about fifteen years.  He had been Melissa’s supervisor at the casino for years and would come over to our house for a party about twice a month always driving a new car.  One morning Melissa came home excited to tell me how Adam had let her drive his 2006 Mustang in the parking lot at work, then the next week he showed up at our house for a get-together in an ’06 Ford Lightning. I asked him once why he was always driving a different vehicle and he said he got bored after a few weeks, wanted something new, and always got what he wanted. 


He loved his toys, but Adam was harmless.  On the nights he’d come over to our house, he would bring a bottle of Melissa’s favorite wine and case of beer for everyone else to share.  As the night progressed and we had all loosened up with a few drinks, he would pull me aside and give me a speech about how lucky I was to have Melissa and that I should appreciate every moment her and I spent together.   He was very protective of her because they had been working together for a year or so before I came in the picture. I think he saw himself as something of a big brother to her. 


As I was loading my rinsed bowl into the dishwasher, I heard Melissa’s car speeding up the driveway.  Something must have come up because the round to trip to McDonalds and back was twenty minutes and only about ten had passed. 


“Is everything alright?” I asked as she rushed into the living room toward the kitchen.


“Yeah,” She said, snatching her phone from the kitchen counter, “I forgot my phone that’s all.”


“Oh, you got a text from Adam.”


“Did you read it?”  She asked, flipping open her phone and checking the message.


“No, I just saw who it was from by the screen on the front.”


“Good.  It’s rude to read someone else’s text messages you know.  That’s their personal business.”  Melissa stuffed her phone into her purse.  “Did you want anything from McDonalds?”


“No, but I’ll text you if I change my mind.” I said in a serious but sarcastic tone. 


“Ok.” Melissa said (oblivious to my well time whit) and started back toward her car.


“Hey, Melissa!” I called out stopping her mid stride with the door half closed. “What did Adam want?”


“Just work stuff, don’t worry about it.” She shut the door.


*Don't forget about the giveaway that was on Photog Friday!  Click HERE and enter to win a free photo session worth $200!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Confessions of a Human

I have a confession to make and it goes something like this…

I am human and therefore cannot do everything. Huh….imagine that. 

I have had my photography business for about nine months and I absolutely love it. No, wait…I LOOOOOVVEEE it! There, that’s better.  Not only do I get to photograph people, I also get to tap into my inner entrepreneurial chick to help progress the business. My mind is always thinking of new branding ideas, website designs, blog headers, and different poses. The business takes up all my free time(and then some) and I don’t mind a bit. It’s my Grey’s Anatomy, my LA Laker’s games, and it’s my next best romance novel.  Plain and simple- I love it. And although it is making money, it still comes at a cost- the time I have with my family.  I wish I could do it all and enjoy life, but without quality family time my life loses its mojo.  I can actually sense it happening. It feels empty. Those kisses I get from my husband don’t seem as magical and my heart yearns for some baby laughs and kisses.  Luckily, I can recognize the problem before it gets too late because  “quality time”  is my primary love language. It is how my heart speaks and receives messages of love. So if I am blocking my own self from having that quality time with my family, my heart raises a huge white flag and screams  things like  “I surrender!” and “Mercy!” , to my brain. My brain receives these messages, processes the warning signs, and decides that the best idea is to blurt out all my problems and concerns in one gigantic meltdown to my husband at one in the morning.  Yep, thats my brain- coming up with horrible ideas like bombarding a sleep deprived husband with crazed emotions and expecting good results. Drat!

The end of the story goes like this… We went to sleep, woke up with clear minds, and realized that I needed to get reacquainted with my carefully thought out schedule so that I can maximize all the wonderfulness that IS my life. After all…I am only human.  

**GIVEAWAY**
Don't forget to check out my $200 photo shoot giveaway. Scroll down to see the post below or click here to view the giveaway post and Enter!


Addisyn has discovered the art of stacking. She stacks things to climb up to get a better view. She also loves to turn pages and flip through any book she can find so I am sure you can imagine that with two bookshelves such as the ones below...mommy and daddy get to clean up a lot.





Friday, April 15, 2011

Photog Friday: Love Birds and a Giveaway!

People often wait until special occasions to book a photo shoot. Although I think that is VERY important, I think it is equally important to do keepsake annual shoots. Imagine a bookshelf full of professional albums – one for each year of your life. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to look through your life  and have the ability to share your memories with children and grandchildren? Life isn’t all about the big events, it is about the “in-betweens”, the tiny moments, the relationships you have made along the waythat help define who you are today.
 
 This week I had the privilege to shoot a couple that I am growing increasingly close to. I first met Becca at my church almost a year and a half ago. She is part of the reason why I look forward to attending church each Sunday. Her voice is amazing and anyone who attends CenterPoint Church is fortunate to hear her lead our worship team with her God given talent.  About eight months back we noticed a very quiet, but confident man showing up with her at church. And, as the weeks and months passed we would come to know Dave (and all the creative talents that exude from his pores) more and more.  Dave and Becca have the original Nintendo game system to thank for bringing them together. Although their paths crossed many of times because of mutual friends, the sparks didn’t fly until Becca was able to help Dave by finding a functional Nintendo console.  They instantly clicked over a game of Mario Brothers, and have been a couple ever since.













Giveaway

In celebration of the in-between and very important small moments of your life, I would like to do a giveaway. The giveaway is a one hour session with digital rights to 30-40 edited pictures for a total value of $200.00! Here are the rules:


- Giveaway photo session must be used in Delaware, Maryland,or Virginia and can be used for a family, engagement, maternity, newborn, bridal, trash the dress, or portrait session.


-1st step: become a follower or a facebook fan by hitting the “Follow” button or the “Like” button on the sidebar


-2nd step: Enter your name by commenting on the blog post (on the comment link below) and by telling me about a moment in your life that has brought you great joy that you would love to have captured in memory forever.

-Once I have at least 25 comments, the contest has begun. So send this link to as many friends and family that can enter according to the entry locations stated above.


-Winners will be announced on next Photog Friday post and my facebook link two weeks from now, provided we have atleast 25 entries.


-Winner can book a session any time within a year of the winning announcement                                            

-People who have already booked a session with me for 2011 cannot use their winnings toward their current session, but if they win, I will extend the expiration date for use of an additional session


Happy Friday!




Monday, April 11, 2011

Deal

My dear sweet baby girl,

Today you wanted to sit on my lap, but whenever I gave in to your reaching arms you would pull everything off the desk in front of me.  I would then, in turn, keep putting you down. We did this about five or six times until eventually you had enough of the game.  You looked at me straight in the eyes, grabbed Pisces (our pit/lab mix) around the neck, and gave him a stern (but intentional) head-butt.  After this, I was ready for what was coming next.  You looked up at me with your sad eyes and pouty lip -paused- and began to cry.
 I give you ten points for personality, ten points for toughness (there’s no way I would head-butt a pit-bull), and ten points for effort.

So I’ve gathered from this experience that you are a great thinker, you’re animated, and you are delightfully creative.  I really REALLY adore all of these qualities about you and the ways I am watching you grow daily.  

I know you won’t remember these moments, but I want you to know that you have given me a dose of joy each day since the day you were placed into my arms.
So here’s the deal: I will forever let you sit on my lap as long as you never grow up. Thanks!

I love you,

Mommy











My friend Nicole, over at The Sleepy Time Gal Blog has started a great effort in sending boxes over to Japan. Her goal was 20 boxes and now she is up to 379! Read her loving efforts by clicking the button below and join the cause.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

One More for Love The Story: Chapter 14- Dream Home

I caught a break.  Melissa had to work the night I was going to meet up with Stacy to check out her town home. 

 “And what are you up to tonight?” asked Melissa, headed toward the door with her cup of coffee in hand.


 “The usual.” I said sitting in my recliner watching T.V. “I might get up with a friend.”



  “Really? Who?” She asked.  Blast!  I didn’t think she’d have the time to ask…Ok, vague, vague, vague.  I’m not doing anything wrong, but the vaguer the better here.

 “Someone from work. You don’t know them.”



 “Oh, what are you guys doing?” Don’t you have to go to work or something?

 “They want me to check out their new house.” Improper English I know, but I was betting that if she didn’t know there were 50 states, she probably wouldn’t catch this little bit of word play.


 “Ok, be careful and let me know how it goes.”  Guess I’ll have to cross this bridge when it comes.


“Will do, have a good night.” I said and she left for work.  That was a close one. 



 After I heard Melissa’s car pull out of the driveway, I started getting ready for my meeting with Stacy.  It was about 7:00 pm and I didn’t know what time she would be calling, but I wanted to make sure I was ready to go when she did. 

While getting ready and trying on outfits I entertained a possibility of what could happen that night. 



 When I arrived at her new place, she would already be in the house.  I would park my car behind her and she’d meet me at the front door eager to show me around.  As we made our way to one of the rooms of the first floor I’d notice the fresh sheet rock on the walls and the little piles of saw dust scattered here and there.  Maybe there would be no electricity, so the place would be lit by only the shining of the bright moon light coming in through the windows.  She’d lead me into one of the rooms excitingly telling me about the future d├ęcor.  She’d describe what color and shade of paint she’d have on the walls to create the feel of the room.  We’d talk about what types of pictures and artwork she’d have hanging up and together we’d sculpt the house of her dreams right there on the first floor.  I’d be giving her ideas and complimenting her exceptional fashion sense in interior decorating.  Then I would move to stand behind her to point out a place on the wall where a picture might go and as she turned around to see what I was talking about we’d unintentionally brush against each other’s shoulders.  A shock would strike between us pushing a wave of reality rushing through our bodies that would bring to light the true essence of where we were and what we were doing.  Neither of us had lied to our significant other and we had planned this meeting with every friendly intention of seeing what a townhouse had to offer. But, the effect of the brush would cause our eyes to meet and we would have no means by which to be distracted from the obvious.  It was only her and me. There wouldn’t be a plane taking off, a truck hauling airman to fix jets, or a smoke pit full of people.  No stories, no ratios, no Melissa, no Bolllard, only her and I sharing a moment, locked in a glance, keenly aware of the situation we’d put ourselves in.  Everything would disappear.  What was once my world and her world would become our world.  And in our world, the only thing we’d know existed was space between us that was decreasing by the second.  Without realizing it, my hand would touch her hand and I would gently motion for her to take one step closer.

The ring of my cell phone broke me from my daze.  I quickly grabbed my phone and looked at the caller ID.  It was Bobby.  I didn’t want to be on the phone when Stacy called so I let it go to voicemail.  I shook off my day dream and continued getting dressed.


By the time I was ready to go, it was about 8:00 pm, which was early for us night shifters, but I will admit I thought Stacy would have called by then to at least set up a time to meet.  I wasn’t worried though, I had to make a trip to a Wal-Mart that was right by the neighborhood she lived in, so I got in my car and started on the twenty minute drive. 


I get a lot of thinking done while I’m in the car, sometimes I’ll get so caught up in my thoughts that I’ll miss an exit or pass a turn.  On my drive down to Wal-Mart, thinking about what might happen between me and Stacy; I started getting nervous.  One thing my little fantasy hadn’t shown me was how I was going to act around Stacy.  I really didn’t want to hurt anyone.  I certainly didn’t want to cheat on Melissa and I didn’t want to start a relationship with someone who invites guys from work to her house, loses her inhibitions, and cheats on her boyfriend (assuming Stacy would be playing her part in the story, which the more I thought about it, the more I realized she probably wouldn’t be).  Somehow I had turned a simple invitation to take a look at a house and consider some property options into Danielle Steel’s next best seller.  How did I let this hap…



 “Bollard!” I said aloud letting one thought interrupt another.  Bollard would almost definitely be there.  Why wouldn’t he be there?  What kind of self respecting boyfriend would let his girlfriend meet a guy who she finds “intellectually attractive” (still not sure what that means) alone in the middle of the night.  Bollard was way too insecure to let her go alone!  

As I pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot, I heard the ring of my cell phone.  It was Stacy.  I took one deep breath and picked up.


“Hey, what’s up?” I said in an upbeat tone.


“Hey Steve. I don’t think we’re going to be able to get together to see the house tonight. Chris and I came up with some last minute plans.  Sorry.”



“No problem.” Unsure of how I felt about the cancellation. “ Maybe some other time.  See you at work.”

“Ok, have a good night.” She said and hung up the phone.  I sat in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot surprised at how disappointed I felt about the night that could have been.         

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sucking the Marrow


Oprah has "Aha " moments, I have "waves of peace" moments, and Henry David Thoreau and Kelle Hamptom (my favorite blogger) has "sucking the marrow" moments. 



"I went the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life, and not to come to the end of my life, and discover that I had not lived.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes I have to remind myself that we are all on this earth for only a moment. In the grand scheme of things, our years here are minute on the scale of time. And while it is easy for me to get sucked into the stresses of everyday life, I’d much rather prefer to "suck the marrow" out of life.  But how?  Most of us go about our lives not ever knowing the art of the “suck”. Is it something we are born with? Is it a learned tool? Or is it simply recognizing the life we have been given, embracing it, and even more …loving it!?

Some would look at my material possessions and think - or perhaps judge - my life as “normal”; maybe even boring. I live in a townhouse, my husband and I make an average salary, we buy used cars, we budget, we get excited when we can go to sleep before ten and sleep in past seven. By many people’s standards I lead a very middling life. Yet, by my standards I feel I have been dealt the Royal Flush of lives.

And I am human. So of course the idea of losing loved ones, not having enough money, and failing at being a parent or a wife can find a way to seep past my skin and into the worry cells of my heart. But there are days like today where I have been given the gift of knowing that the very presence of my daughter in my life for the last one year, 2 months, four weeks and two days has given me more desire to…well…suck the marrow.






















With Love,


Stacy

Friday, April 1, 2011

Photog Friday: This ain't no April Fools - The site is up!

I am always one to be a little fashionably late. I honestly don't know how I made it six years in the military where I had to be on time, if not fifteen minutes early, ALL the time. Well, today I am a day late. I had the words "Launch Website" written all over my March calendar pages for months and on April 1st I get to tell you that the website is OFFICIALLY up. I love that word - "OFFICIALLY". It sounds so yummy right now; "I have a website therefore I am official." or "All the words on my business card are officially accurate." I think I am going to have a little skip in my step today; a  feeling of accomplishment; one more check mark on my business things to do list. Yay!

And without further ado...

Check out the website at www.stacyhartphotography.com 

I would love any feedback you can give me...pictures will be added as I have more photo shoots. 

With Love,

Stacy 



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