Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Tales of the Stolte Hair Massacre

The good news is, I have quite a few great photos to tell today's story.

It could be this one, but that would only tell half the story. It would only tell of a little boy who decided that "he felt like" using his sister's scissors to cut his hair. It would only tell of a little boy who is a bit impulsive and doesn't really think about the consequences of his decisions. And it would only tell of a little boy who was really, really upset with what was coming.

Or I could choose this photo. Again, this one only tells a part of the story. It doesn't tell how we had to pin Ephraim down to get those beautiful blonde locks off his head. It doesn't tell how much I cried having to shave that little head. And it doesn't tell how difficult it was for Ephraim to see his hair falling off his head in droves.

Or there is this one. Yes, it shows what we had to do to get his hair looking decent again. And yes, it shows how little his head really is. (And yes, it also shows that there is a reason why I pay good money for the professionals to cut my children's hair).

But I think this is the photo that wins the prize. He had calmed down enough after I finished shaving his head to be able to stand and breathe on his own again until he looked in the mirror. Then, the crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth started up again. I'm pretty sure Ephraim will never, ever attempt to cut his own hair again.

The two of us bawling on the bathroom floor was not a pretty sight. But, like I said, the good news is I have options for today's photo.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Love to Hate

I love Mike very, very much.

But that doesn't mean there aren't things he does that drive me nuts. There aren't that many, but there are a few.

A few months ago, the Edmonton Journal called and asked the person on this side of the phone if we might be interested in receiving the paper every day. If it had been me on the phone, the answer would have been a swift and sure "no", and the conversation would have ended quickly. However, as fate would have it, Mike was on the phone, and was excited to tell me that we would soon be the recipients of the paper every day.

And so, a few mornings later, we heard the heavy footsteps of someone coming onto our front porch and the recognizable squeak of our mailbox lid opening and closing which could only mean one thing. Mike rushed out to get the paper, sat down on the couch with his coffee and morning cereal (see here for the evidence) and was very content. Since then, this has become the morning ritual with a bit of variety, but generally it stays the same.

Which is all great. I'm happy that Mike loves to read the paper in the morning. But what drives me nuts is this:

Why, oh why, does there need to be a pile of newspaper at the foot of the couch every morning?
(and, this routine is often repeated in the evening with other reading material, except there ends up being a pair of socks on the floor, only to be found in the morning along side the pile of newspaper)

In the end, it gets cleaned up (sometimes by him and sometimes by me), so it really isn't that big of a deal. And truth be told, if it was Mike writing this post, there would be things that drive him nuts about me.

We all need a little bit of crazy in our lives each day, I guess. And most days, as I am throwing the pile in the recycling bin, I can think of Mike, smile a little and my days brighten a bit.

Definitely something I love to hate.

Who He Loves

One of my 'tests' (read: boxes to check off) before I even considered marriage was to put Mike in a room with my neices and nephews and see what happened. I knew that I had to have someone who would love kids and someone who knew what to do with kids.

There was a moment in my parent's place in Prince George over the Christmas holidays in 1994 when I saw Mike on the kitchen floor playing with my (then) 1 year old nephew and knew he was 'the one'. He has such a gift for playing and just being with kids.

Fast forward over 15 years, and here we are with three little munchkins of our own. He earned the title of 'baby whisperer' (always handy to have one of those around). He has earned the title of 'Daddy of the Year' a number of times over. And it is so d&*m sexy to watch him play with the kids.

I could never in a million years imagine that we would be so blessed with these three little ones. And as you can see, they are pretty happy with their Daddy, too.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What He Wears

Because Mike works in an office 5 days a week, his closet is full of dress shirts and dress pants (all of which, I might add, are ironed by him). Long sleeved dress shirts, short sleeved dress shirts, striped dress shirts, checkered dress shirts, solid dress shirts, black dress pants, khaki dress pants, oh! and a few ties - you name it, it is probably in his closet. Paired with black dress socks and some dress shoes, he is all 'dressed up' and ready to do some serious business.

And so, it is understandable that when he comes home - before doing anything else - he goes upstairs to change into something a little more comfy. Usually jeans, a t-shirt and his beloved navy blue cord shirt.

It is worth mentioning that there is one piece of clothing that is older than our relationship. That means this sweatshirt is over 16 years old, purchased when Mike first started tree-planting. The cuffs are completely frayed and the collar is almost totally worn through, but it is still warm and cozy. It has been tossed into the 'give-away' pile a few times in moments of weakness, and then ends up back in his closet. This sweatshirt has lived through travelling, renovations, camping, and every day wear-and-tear.

Just like the owner, a definite keeper.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Living a Life

A few months, I came across this quote:
"Instructions on living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." (I don't remember where I saw it...if you know, please let me know and I will give credit where credit is due!)

It stopped me in my tracks. I immediately dropped everything and designed something for my kitchen windowsill where I could read it every day, and be reminded of the wisdom in these few words.

At first glance, it looks a bit simple and naive - I'll give you that. But there is truth beyond measure in these three little statements.

The reality is, life flies by. The kids grow up so very fast. Friends move in and out of our lives. Parents die. Stories go untold. Pain happens. Celebrations occur that feed our souls. And the little things - like learning how to play a scale on a saxophone, and kicking a soccer ball for the first time, and dishes and laundry, and sitting up for the first time, and pictures drawn, and books read, and trips to the library - all get unnoticed and are passed over as if they don't 'really' matter. Yes, they make up much of what we fill our days with, but in many ways are overlooked and forgotten.

But paying attention and being astonished about all these moments changes all that. Suddenly, life become more about the moments and little things. Suddenly that pain I feel over a friend's loss becomes important. And the story of a little girl's journey to reading becomes important. And the joy of creating becomes important. And living in the present becomes important. And if I pay attention, it becomes harder to push the "shoulds" and "ought tos" to the front of the queue.

I looked up 'astonished' in the dictionary, and here is what it said: to be filled with sudden and overpowering surprise or wonder; amazement". How powerful to see a little girl learning to tie her shoes through the lens of amazement and wonder rather than annoyance at how she is holding up my errands...

And telling about it? Some would argue that because I am an extrovert, it is easy for me. And that would be partly true. Let me say here that it is a choice that I make - because I know that life is far richer with each little step of vulnerability that I take. It also makes life messier, but telling my story gives my life a depth and thickness that cannot be bought or sold. (and I don't mean to say that everyone should start a blog, but I do mean to say that life moments shared with even one person creates a far richer life).

And so, I would love to share this design with you - just open it in new window, right click it and save it to your computer. It is formatted for a 5X7 size - upload it and print it, frame it, and voila!

Enough of my soap has been a full weekend - keep posted for more 'joy of love' photos in the coming days!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Then and Now

Eighteen years ago, I made a really good friend at university. He was thoughtful and kind. He was funny and he loved beer. He had really long and beautiful auburn hair. He was a treeplanter. He listened. He was intelligent. He was very athletic and biked alot. He was quiet. He loved hanging out and being with people. He had a deep compassion for people who needed help. He drove a pickup truck. He was very passionate about many things. He worked at a gas station. He was an idealist. He loved deeply. (and he laughed at all my jokes!!)

Eighteen years later, not much has changed. He no longer has a mullet. He no longer plants trees or pumps gas for a living. He has traded in his pick up truck for a mini van. He has a few more laugh lines and a few more grey hairs. But at the core, he is who he always has been. He is still my best friend, and still laughs at all my jokes.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

How He Looks

Challenge 2: Capture Mike's TRUE essence/expression/attitude/posture. Take a photo that just screams Mike.

This was no small feat. Anyone who knows Mike can appreciate that 1. he definitely does not like to be put into a box or 'pinned down', so to speak and 2. he can be a bit stubborn at times when asked to play along with something he doesn't want to play along with.

Armed with my camera (and most encouraging smile), I asked Mike to play along with me - at about 10:00 last night - to pose for the lens. Needless to say, with the aforementioned personality traits in mind, it wasn't an easy task. He continued to read his book and did not play along, pretty much ignoring that fact that I was sitting on top of him, trying to get a good angle.

Anyone who knows me can appreciate that I too, can be a bit stubborn, and eventually I was able to wear him down and took a few shots. Granted, he continued to read his book throughout the "photo shoot", but that lent itself well to a few pictures that captured who he is - among many other things, he is an avid reader.

So we went from this look of complete disregard... this look of annoyance... this look of pure enjoyment at the attention (however, he would never admit to it)...

Afterwards, I thanked Mike for playing along and he responded with some sarcastic comment about my addiction to photography. Ah, the honesty of marriage. Gotta love it...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Joy of Love

It being February and all, I thought I would take this freebie online daily challenge class. I took a class last year by the same woman - Finding the Joy - and really enjoyed it, so I thought why not? My initial idea was to capture all five of us each day, but then reality reared it's ugly head, and I had to re-think the project.

One of the themes that comes up time and time again, especially in my Project Life album, is that Mike's face doesn't show up very often. Generally, I take a tonne of pics of my kids, a tonne of pics of me and my kids, and I try to get in a *creative* self-portrait as often as I feel up to it. But Mike doesn't show up very often.

And it isn't because he isn't important. It's just that most of my picture taking happens during the day when I am at home with the kids. And so - for the month of February - I am focusing on Mike. (and yes, I have sort of warned him...). This may be more of a challenge than I first anticipated, but we'll see how it goes.

Day 1's prompt was about "What They Do". An obvious would be work - Mike spends the majority of his days doing amazing work helping others getting their lives back together again. But that isn't all he does, and so I decided to focus on what he does for us outside of providing the financial means to run this household.

Here are a few snapshots of Mike doing his amazing work at home (and by no means is this an exhaustive snapshot...):

Happy February and here's to finding the love!!