Monday, January 25, 2010


It is that time of year again...ALREADY!

This is a Glance at some of last year's Awesome Kids!

I can't believe a whole year has flown by...
I'll bet their parents can't either!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Old Faithful

We recently had a furry family member pass away. My brother-in-law's family dog left them recently to hunt squirrels in the hills of heaven. I didn't think that the death of another person's dog would affect me....but it did. She did her job and served them well for the ten years she was here. I will miss her barking salutation the next time I walk in their house. The absence of the clicks of her little nails on the wood floors will not go unnoticed. She was sick. Even when they are as sick as she was, in the back of your mind, you always believe they will recover. We know, in life, that this is not always the case. Sadly, it wasn't for her.

That night, I walked outside to watch our dog, Avery. Avery has been my husband's dog for 14 years. Long before our years together, Avery was Tom's greatest love and faithful companion. Unfortunately, we are aware that we are in our last years with him. It is a hard thing for me to choke out. We have noticed his struggle to get in a chair. We have commented on how his jumps for the ball are not quite as high as they used to be. His "rabbit" spring into step has been replaced with a slower lean into his back hips to be followed by an easy rise. The old man is more careful with himself now. His looks have always been deceiving. His size says puppy but the gray around his mouth and the shade coming in over his eyes speaks of old wisdom.
Tom and Avery were young together. They learned life lessons together. Avery has been his traveling partner down many roads, many that were concrete and dirt; some that were not. He has been the ideal companion, aside from the occasional garbage can raid or accident on my new carpets.

On the other hand, it has been a love/hate relationship between he and I since day one. I would take up too much of Tom's time and he would leave me a "present" under our bed. So back and forth we have gone...Love/Hate, Love/Hate. I love that no matter how much I yell at him for a certain offense in our home, he is always happy to see me. I hate that he has been the cause of so many carpet cleaners rented. I love that he is always ready to cuddle. I hate that he leaves so damn much hair behind in his wake.
I feel guilty today. Avery stepped down a rung when our daughter came into the world. Fearing that she would inherit Tom's allergies or my asthma, we sent Avery to the backyard. A fence was built and he was put behind it. Not really a fitting tribute to such a loyal friend. I have made a vow to stop overlooking his importance around here and take more pictures of him. We will want to look back at our faithful friend and remember what a good little fellow he was. I am not looking forward to that day but I hope the pictures will help. I am also considering letting him move back in....God help me....I'm going soft.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What's for Leftovers?

Recovery is a tough road...
Hi! My name is Farrah and I have a serious aversion to leftovers.
Hiii Farrrrrah!
If I were to name the most frequent "discussion" in our home, it would be whether we eat out or eat....(DuhDuhDuh)LEFTOVERS...AHHHHHH!
My husband came from a family of "waste not want not" and "clean your plate". His father lived through the Depression. Tom's mother was feeding a heap of children at the table nightly. In a family where eight people would be eating sometimes, I suppose this makes sense. The mantra, "But, Farrah, we have (fill in the blank) inside the fridge" is often heard in our kitchen.
I could care less what happens to be in there. "Let's have leftovers" just sounds like someone offering up a big bowl of backwash for a meal. No Thank You very kindly...Leftovers are like my burgeoning wrinkles, I would rather leave them for someone else to "enjoy". In my family we ate what we wanted! We didn't eat leftovers unless it was after Thanksgiving because even I couldn't reason throwing away a whole bird!

Anyway, a domestic goddess I shall never be. The weekly laundry is taken to the "Fluff'n Fold". I hate to do it so much that we would both rather pay someone to wash and fold it for me. No one has pressed sheets or boxers(I know people who do this). The jeans don't have nice creases down the seams. Alas, "Martha Stewart-Cobb" just isn't in the cards. However, if there is a hot meal on the table four nights out of seven and all children have clean socks that match, I feel successful. Creating fantastic meals from leftover food, however, is a little beyond the ole' girl's ability. My mother-in-law says that "perfect is never popular". It's a darn good thing!
By addressing the leftover issue, I hope to read back and realize how ridiculous this fear is. Yes, I said the word fear. Fear is the opposite of faith..true...but there is little faith in me when it comes to anything that has been cooked and then days later reheated within an inch of it's life. Tom has made an excellent point in his defense of the dreaded backwash. He said that eating leftovers would provide something else that was leftover...No, not violent stomach cramping(as was suggested by moi) would leave us with heavier pockets. Deciding to test his theory on this week's Chicken n' Dumplings, I realized my husband had made a valid point! Shhhhh..Don't tell him. They tasted just like they did a couple of nights before, maybe better. Oh well, happy that I didn't spend the evening crouched over our toilet, we ate in and reheated leftovers all week. With the money we saved, Friday night was spent in front of a sushi bar with Sake to toast his victory!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Dumplin' Side of the Bed

At my annual Smith family Christmas Eve party this year, my younger cousin Haley exclaimed in her wonderful Southern twang, "Girl! What side of the bed did you wake up on that made you not know what a dumplin' is?" Smiling, I thought for a minute and under my breath said, "The coonass side of the bed, I guess." Cue the judgmental eyebrows. Growing up in a Cajun family, we made lots of rice, some potatoes, but never a dumpling graced the table. "Dumplin'" in our family was always a term of affection, and if you had asked me what a dumplin' was this summer...I would have told you that Tom was. What a tragedy to be unfamiliar with what a dumpling really is! What a wonderfully delicious meal! Creamy, saucy, with a little kick...I was an instant fan. I had to find out how to make these little darlings. Next stop, Ame's kitchen. She has made them for years apparently. How I missed them every time she's made them is a mystery. Ame's mother,our beautiful Grandmere, had a great homemade version that had been passed down and perfected, by a few, for years. Should I even attempt the recipe? Me, being the "adventurous pioneer" in the kitchen that I am, decided that I would. The key to this recipe is the thin,uh..."dumplin's". One chicken, 50 paper thin dumplings, and five hours later(yes it took me that long)we had success! Austin(aka: Mr. Picky) licked his bowl and I knew we had a winner! To me, Chicken n' Dumplings just looks like a white lumpy stew....nothing I would have initially considered appealing. However, the taste, the creamy deliciousness is well worth the trouble it is to make it. Tonight, the dumplings are on the menu. Aside from dreaming of being Paula Deen's next protege', the princess of Southern cuisine, I am fancying myself a cookbook photographer as well. I have taken pictures of all the lovely steps to dumpling making! One certainty...It is hard to make a raw pink chicken look inviting in a photograph. So, I thought about how I make my own pale pink skin look nice in the summer...cover it up! This was the result! Another result was my realization that I really like taking pictures of food! There is something very satisfying about it. The drawback is that it makes you hungry. So Haley, if you ask me again what side of the bed I woke up on...I will tell you the "Dumplin's" side because we are loving those luscious treasures tonight!

Monday, January 11, 2010


Fact check: We all love our kids! We all think our particular children are unlike any other in the world. Even if you don't have kids, you know that there is someone out there that thinks that way about you! Can you guess why? It is because we all are unlike each other in very real and wonderful ways! Each and every child is their own unique entity put on this earth for a very specific reason. Austin, my son, came to me like an angel, in a time when I needed him desperately and had no idea that I did. He was my companion and sidekick for five years before I remarried. He was my constant and my touchstone. I don't think he even knows now, that when he was sleeping in his crib and I was pouring over textbooks trying to graduate from college, he was also my secret weapon. He was my own personal Jedi mind trick that I used on myself when I got tired or felt like giving up. All I had to do was look at him and I became a better person. He is my watcher and my observer. He is private and peaceful. He is loving and giving. I never could tell you how he came from me and his dad but he did. What I can tell you is that Austin is who I want to be when I grow up!

I have noticed recently that Austin will disappear when I pull out my camera. He gets "embarrassed" he says. I haven't forced it. I chalk it up to preadolescent angst. Nine is a rough year for boys. Their heads haven't grown into their new teeth. They are kind of skinny,awkward and their hair gets weird. They are, you know, not quite ripe for life yet. They are questioning everything and nothing seems to be the same. Girls are no longer gross but not exactly appealing either. So, being nine, I suppose he would rather fade a little and come back out when he grows into those teeth. He gets away with this a little because his sister(and I say this with all the love in my heart for her) is somewhat of a bulldozer. She will take over any situation and excavate the entire room in the process. I am beginning to see this in my photographs. I refuse to let this happen all that often anymore! I decided today I would take him out with me and do his nine year photos...sans sister. He did a good fading, little embarrassment, still an angel. His mother did alright too! Easy kid to work with as usual! No surprise there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Peeling the Onion

Our daughter had her first haircut yesterday. I have to admit that I have been avoiding this step for some time now. The straight fuzzy "old" hair that she was born with lay lightly on top of all of her new growth underneath giving her the look of a nice little comb over. It was finally decision making time. Do we cut off the old stringy hair, thereby revealing all of her lovely new hair? Do we leave the hair that she came into this world with, thereby letting us hold onto that last little bit of baby she still has in her. What to do? To cut or not to cut..that was the question. The decision came to me while chopping an onion. Weird? Probably. However, as I was peeling the skin of the onion, I thought about what would have happened if the person that discovered the onion had looked at it and thought, "What a weird crunchy ball". What if they hadn't peeled back the layers to reveal what it could be? No one would have ever had a good gravy for their pasta, or tasty gumbo to enjoy. Sometimes peeling back the layers, even when you are unsure of the outcome, can be good....wonderful even. We made the decision to cut. We took her to the woman that cuts my hair and she started chopping away. I tried to remain calm and ignore that lump that crept into my throat and the ache that edged into my heart when she pulled out her scissors and they touched her golden hair. I hid behind my camera and kept myself distracted. I like taking pictures when I don't feel like dealing with a moment at hand. You can escape right there and disappear behind your viewfinder. Perfect for the occasional antisocial moment too. Snip. Snip. Kate was a dream and loved every minute. What we discovered under the mess was a mound of beautiful curls! They would have never seen their full potential if we had held onto our silly fears. What we also found was her "baby face" again. A clip of her baby hair was saved in a tiny envelope so that I may pull it out whenever I please, to feel what her hair used to feel like. I also have some pretty great photographs to remind us that sometimes we just need to dig in and peel. That is good enough for me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Laundry Basket

I purchased a book today on Amazon about photographing children, my favorite subjects. The reason that I left real estate and chose to teach is because there is something that working with children provides that working with adults does honest, authentic experience. Children are everything that is pure and good in this world. I was young when my son was born and I was in a frenzy just to keep him alive and clothed and entertained. I didn't take the time to "smell the roses" as they would say. However, when Kate was born I made a promise to myself that I would open my eyes and watch and enjoy. Babies are very interesting. They have no reason for self service aside from survival. If their needs are met they are content. Simple. Period. They haven't been pressed upon yet. Everything about their attitude and demeanor has to do with the present moment. They don't hold grudges because mommy left their diaper wet too long last night. If they are crying about a is because it is happening now. I took this and thought about it and how wonderfully blissful it would be to not recall past wrongs or avenge some honor live only in the moment and just require what is needed in that moment. My sister-in-law quotes Mark Twain during times of worry, " I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened”. I like this quote because I am a worrier. This fact itself worries me. People get sick from worry. People get depressed from worry. I have no interest in being sick or depressed. However, not worrying about much worries me so I am a little stuck. What I try to do now is to live my moments in life as authentically as I can....enjoy my little times that make me smile where I am getting all that I need from the people around me.
The picture above is a technically bad picture....bad lighting, messy room, messy kids sitting in a laundry basket. Even so, It is one of my favorites and every time I look at it I smile. My children were playing in the "ship" and Austin was the evil pirate. It isn't really the story about what was going on that I love. I love that I am in the time where my children can both fit snugly in a laundry basket enjoying each other in a way that I am sure will change in the next few years. Austin will become a teenager and Kate will be interested in other things. They will not fit in that basket together. I will surely look back at this picture and think "I can't believe they were ever both small enough to fit". I used to think similarly about my heart. I remember when I was pregnant with Kate, I couldn't believe I would ever love another child like I loved Austin. But what I didn't know was that a spot had already been carved in my heart for her. Her own perfect place just like Austin's. They both fit so snugly there now.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Biting the Bullet

Like I said before, I have been tossing around photography in my head for a long time. As with any new venture, there is fear and excitement and nervous anticipation for what could actually be. Several months ago, I made a purchase. Now...Anyone who knows me well, knows that I hate to spend money. Prying anything that I have worked so hard for out of my tightly gripped, sweaty, straining hands is a difficult task to say the least. Even so, I made an expensive purchase of a certain beloved DSLR camera that I keep shoving in everyone's faces. I don't know what it was about Nikon. The name just spoke to me. The first time that I had ever heard the name was in the class that Keith taught. I brought my camera to class for approval and he approved my ancient Canon with a smile. He then pulled out a equally ancient camera that had this je ne sais quoi....this certain something that my sad, underused antique didn't have. Perhaps it was that I knew it must have seen many amazing and interesting things. Perhaps it was that it was simply his camera and he knew far more than I did about cameras. Whatever the reason, N-I-K-O-N didn't spell Nikon, oh no. It spelled National Geographic! It spelled Vogue! It spelled my ticket to distant lands and fascinating people that I could capture and share with the world! But I digress. It has been my wish for a Nikon for quite sometime...maybe an obsession. Maybe a Nikon other camera could possibly be as good. Before my photographical investment, friends of mine would flash around their new Canons and Fujis and Sonys and the like and I would quietly smile to myself and whisper inside of my head, "yeah. nice. but it isn't a Nikon". A Nikon was the key to all successful photography. I was convinced. So I bit the bullet and purchased, reluctantly but surely, the Nikon D200 DSLR! It arrived one sunny afternoon and so had I, as far as I was concerned! Ready to go, I set out to the backyard to try out my new best friend on my baby girl, some azaleas and our unsuspecting dog. I found that I couldn't have been more unprepared to use it than my son would have been if I had asked him to drive our car around the block. I knew the basic mechanics. I knew what all the parts were and how to change the lens. What I sadly didn't know was how I was going to put it all together...again, all I knew was point..shoot. What a disaster! My beautiful daughter was a mess with blurred hair or strange streaks across her ruddy little cheeks. Our dog ran and hid and my decade old azaleas looked no more special than pink carnations in the grocery store fridge. Deeply disappointed and a little embarrassed that I had spent all this money on something that I just couldn't use properly, I decided I should educate myself. That is what I did. I found a book and read it...something about being an idiot and having a digital SLR camera (seemed to fit)and felt more prepared after that. I can say now, that I can take a somewhat decent picture and have it look a little like what I am expecting. I am branching out. I have now found that it is actually the user of the camera and not the camera itself that creates magnificent art...a good user and a good lens. Man is that lens important. Who knew?! The lens just opens up a whole new world! Here I was obsessed with the totally wrong thing! I am now obsessed with the NIKKOR 18-200mm lens with vibration reduction and will soon bite the bullet and make the ridiculously pricey purchase...reluctantly but surely.