Sunday, May 29, 2011

End of the Year Program for Preschool

Look at my sweet babies! How in this world did they get this big??

Anderson, age 4 and Lydia, age 2
Anderson and Lydia with the wonderful directors of the Pre-school.
Mrs. Mindy and Mrs. Emily
Emily is stepping down this year and it makes me so sad! She is the one that gave us our first tour with Anderson when we were pregnant. It took two years to get him in, but when we did he ended up being in the same class as Emily's son Jack Glyien. Now they are best little buddies and have been on all the tee ball, and soccer teams together. JG will also be attending the private school we are sending the kids too, so I hope they will stay friends for a long time!

Lydia with her wonderful teachers Mrs. Heather and Miss Megan

Anderson with his teachers from the blue room, Miss Eileen and Mrs. Susan.
Our little family!

In life, there are followers of the rules and then the people that really aren't so big on rules. In our house we just so happen to have one of each.... Lydia, while fun and vibrant, is certainly a rule follower. If you have to correct her, she almost immediately will turn her behavior around. Anderson, on the other hand, not so much... Now don't get me wrong, he is a super sweet and often sensitive child....but he will try to negotiate you to DEATH to change your mind on a rule, or reason with you to the point that you start to wonder- "Why was that a rule anyway? Maybe he's right?".

The end of the year program was really a great display in the difference between their personalities. Every year at pre-school graduation the other classes perform a few songs in front of the parents. This has always been a scary prospect where Anderson is concerned. You see, he really does not like music or singing and like most 4 year olds he's not the best at acting like he is enjoying something if he really isn't. In the past he has sat down in the middle of the performance, pulled his short completely over his face and once even tried to torch our church by lighting a piece of hay with a votive candle during an advent service. Bottom line- we never know how he will behave in these situations.

Well this time he did better- maybe age is maturing him a little or maybe Jeff and I threatened him enough to make a real believer out of him! Ha! Ha! He did however get a little carried away with the sticks they use in the performance and accidentally bop the little girl in front of him. I watched it happen and truly know he didn't mean to, but she was not happy!

Here is Lydia walking into the sanctuary. They tell them to put a "bubble" in their mouth and hold it there because when you blow up your cheeks like that it is impossible to talk. Well that was just for when they were in the hallway waiting to come in. Lydia misunderstood and kept her "bubble" in until her sweet teacher, Miss Megan, finally had to tell her it was okay to smile.

Here is Lydia working with her little music sticks trying to stay right on the beat.
And here is Anderson, off to a good start!! He is doing what everyone else is doing! Yay- or so we thought!
...and here we go....he's bored, he's no longer interested and the silly faces are coming out!

...and now we have the incident with the music sticks and this poor little girl in front of him...check out her face.
And this is what he did when he came to sit with us afterwards and I asked to take his photo...silly, silly, silly!

Anderson with sweet Jack Glyien

Lydia with Mary Alice, whose Mommy is a life long friend of mine.

Lydia loving on Miss Heather. She is moving with her husband and children to Virginia and I broke into the UGLY cry at school when I went to say goodbye to her. She was Anderson's first teacher and I am so thankful that Lydia got to have her too before she left. She is a BLESSING to our family and has been so wonderful to my children.
A little Mommy time!

Lydia is officially into the "cheesy grin" when smiling for photos. She literally smile with her whole body!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sandlot Tee Ball Spring 2011

This is our second year to play tee ball through the Sandlot league. Sandlot is organized through the church where Anderson and Lydia attend school, so we always see a ton of friends. They have probably around 10-12 teams and they play on Saturday mornings in a super laid back, hands on environment. This year Anderson was on the Navy blue team, and the kids decided to name it The Blue Martians. Hilarious! Last year he was on the green team and they became the "Jolly Green Giants" at Anderson's suggestion.

We signed Anderson up last year, and he did okay. He was a little young though, and if I had it to do over again I'd probably have waited until this year to start. He kind of became bored with it easily, which was frustrating. Jeff or I were always on the field with him directing him (all of the parents do this) and then the other one was left trying to manage Lydia (not quite two at the time) who had zero interest in watching the game.

This year was MUCH better. He got off to a slow start, but by the end of the season he was really looking forward to games. We still had to be really specific about what to do and when to do it, but for the most part he enjoyed it a lot more than last year and seemed to pick up and retain more about the way the game worked. Here are some action shots from one of the games...

Running the Bases!
My Dad as first base coach
Poor Addison...he really wanted that ball!

Hitting off the tee

Love this sweet pic of him and Daddy!
A little post game refreshment!

...and I'm back

...and this is where I've been! :-)

There is probably no one left to even read this, but after struggling to make time for posts I have recently decided to try again. I love looking back at my posts from when the kids were smaller and I don't want to miss documenting this time in their lives either. The last year and a half has been quite a whirlwind! But things are slowly settling into a manageable routine, so I'm going to attempt to make this a priority again!

In the Spring of 2010 I decided to turn my hobby and love of photography into a full time business. It was a bittersweet choice, because it involved putting Anderson and Lydia in full time daycare. However, since the business is mine, and I create my schedule it has been very flexible and a great compromise between working and staying at home. When the children are out for Spring Break, Christmas and the weeks between Spring and Summer and then Summer and Fall, I simply don't book any appointments. The same thing with their Christmas parties, Halloween fund days at school, etc... Now it isn't a perfect world and there are times when I can't help that things overlap, but for the most part it is working well for us. Ideally this will allow me to take them to school and pick them up at 3:00 on most days when they start "BIG" school and either bring them back to the studio to do homework or watch a movie while I edit or return calls. I can shoot during the day while they are at school. So that is the plan for now....

When I started photographing friends and then friends of friends in the Spring, Summer and Fall of 2009 I never dreamed that in a very short couple of years I would have a full blown studio with an actual employee besides myself or that I would ever be able to drum up enough people that would even PAY me to take their photos at a rate that would even be profitable. I still have to pinch myself on some days to believe that this is really my job and that it is doing so well. Now, having said that the first year in business was TOUGH! Lots and lots of 12-14 hour days, lots of learning and re-doing and making mistakes and figuring out what works and what doesn't work. Lots of trying to figure out what my style is and what it ISN'T! Lots of money spent on start up equipment and getting the space ready to be a studio. Basically looking back on that year now, I'm not really sure how I survived it. I guess it's because I loved the art of photography so much that it really just drove me to do what it took to make it work.

Last April (2010) after months of doing shoots in my living room, we leased a small space in a strip mall in Downtown, Tuscaloosa. I nearly had a full blown panic attack signing that document. Talk about pressure... What if no one called to book appointments? What in the world would I do if I couldn't make my rent payment one month?? Luckily my super awesome husband talked some sense into me and reassured me that I was good at this and that plenty of people had been calling and that they would continue to do so. So after making some structural changes to the space and painting and putting down hardwoods we opened the doors on June 1st, 2010.

That was a great little space and we did so well there, but my business took us both by surprise and really took, whiplash took off. We quickly were out of room for backdrops and props and I was a little frustrated that the space didn't have a separate changing area. it basically was a lobby/ office wrap desk, a huge shooting room, a prop closet and a small bathroom. When we signed the lease I couldn't imagine needing more room, but we quickly ran out of space.

One day on my way back from the post office, I passed (for the zillionth time) an old studio where the photographer had gone out of business about 3 years prior. It had been vacant and for lease for at least two years, but we hadn't even considered looking at it when we leased the first building because it was HUGE and I thought would be way out of my price range. But on a fluke that morning, I called to see how much it was. I spoke to the landlord and he told me the price and shockingly it was totally doable. I called Jeff and said... "You are going to think I have totally lost me mind" I think he is always scared to get calls that begin with that statement. Ha!! We took a tour and boom one week later we signed the lease and began a few minor changes. We moved in at the end of April and it is finally now pretty much the way I want it. I'm going to save the pics of the new place for the next post...

Monday, April 25, 2011

A-Day Game! Roll Tide!

One of my favorite things about Spring in Tuscaloosa is the A-Day game, Alabama's Spring Scrimmage. When I was growing up as a child, no one really went to A-day. There may been a few reporters and a couple of die-hard fans that went, but it wasn't a well attended event.

That all changed when the University hired Coach Saban. He was hired right after the first of the year in 2007. We had been under terrible coaching for years, and everyone was ecstatic to finally have a great coach with a National championship under his belt. That Spring game in April was CRAZY! A-day went from maybe a couple of thousand fans to a full-blown EVENT! It was just like going to a real game. EVERYONE was going. When we got there that day they actually closed the stadium right after we came in because it was at capacity! We are talking 90,000 fans- for a SPRING SCRIMMAGE! ESPN picked up the story and it was quite the buzz. Alabama was going to finally make something of itself for the first time since the early 90's.

Now it is even crazier with even more fans thanks to two stadium expansions since then and aNational Championship. People even tailgate like it is a real game. Needless to say- I.LOVE.IT! We are pretty serious about our football here in the Smith house, so we don't take the kids to games. I actually want to watch the game and that is nearly impossible to do with 2 very small children. When Anderson gets a couple of years older we may try to take him to some, but for the most part, game day is my little get away with Jeff to go and watch my favorite team play my favorite sport. However, A-day is the perfect way to take the kids and let them see the stadium all packed out and get a feel of the atmosphere. We have taken Anderson pretty much every year since he was born. This year was Lydia's first time to go.

Lydia's first time in Bryant Denny!

We were able to secure Zone tickets from a friend. The Zone is kind of like club level seating. You are able to go into a huge atrium and food is provided in buffets as well as drinks. You are even allowed to have liquor in The Zone. They have little pouring rooms with lockers where ticket holders can come and stock there cocktails the week of the game and then have access to them during the game. Anyway, it's almost like sitting in a sky box, but the seats are outside. The Zone is perfect for taking kids, because you can walk inside and mill around if they get bored, but you can still keep up with the game. We had a great time and the kids both really enjoyed it. I can't wait until they are old enough to go with us to games on Saturdays. God knows there is nothing better than a Tuscaloosa Saturday in the Fall!

Packing the house for the 5th straight year!

Cheering on the Tide!

I'm sleepy now!

For the last several years some friends of ours that live near campus have had a crawfish boil right after the A-day game. Everyone comes and brings their kids straight from the game. The have tons of yummy seafood and drinks and even a little band. The kids love going and playing with their little friends and we love going to see our friends and hang out!

Lydia and Libba on the swing set!

Cicatello Crawfish Boil

I'm not sure about this slide thing Mommy!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas 2010

I know it's May, but I had a draft of this stuck back so I thought I would post it..

If I get time I may go back and try to hit the high points missed during my blog sabbatical. :-

Reindeer food!

All of the loot!

The BIG stuff!