Thursday, October 30, 2014

Family Pictures - How do I choose??!!

You might remember in my very first post that I give nicknames to things, people, places - everything. A few of my favorites:

TK - The Kid
This was the nickname I gave to one of my best friends' unborn baby since we didn't know the gender. 

Clara Mae Shannon
Another nickname for one of my best friends' unborn baby girl. She will always be Clara Mae Shannon to me!

Tommy Thompson
My Mr., AKA The Big One. When we started dating we didn't want anyone to know. The guys at work could tell something was up and started asking questions... put on the spot I had to come up with a fake name and fast. Alas... Tommy Thompson. They saw right through it. 

So from here forward The Big One will be referred to as Tommy Thompson. 


I wish there were more pictures of my family and me over the years so Tommy Thompson and I made a commitment to get family photos taken every year and the Fall seems to be the perfect time to do so. It's my favorite time of year, the farm looks gorgeous with bright colors (actually all year) and Christmas is right around the corner (can you say slam dunk for gifts and Christmas cards?!?).

So this last weekend we invited my good friend Patrick to the farm to take family pictures. I met Patrick years ago at a friends wedding in Deadwood, South Dakota - lucky for me he lives in Ft. Collins. I love the way he worked with the bride and groom, directed the wedding party, captured amazing candid moments - not to mention the pictures were fabulous. I hired him almost immediately to take photos of all the events I directed at my old job and always enjoyed his work. And I always found it hard to just pick a few...

Sunday morning I woke up bright and early for our 9 am shoot (Patrick - what were we thinking???), laid two outfits out for each of us and made myself a ginormous mimosa. The little one and I had gone shopping the day before and picked out his two outfits - the first was a 'nice' outfit, nice jeans, button down shirt - just like his Dad. The second I told him to pick out his favorite outfit in the world. Never mind the shirt he picked out was a CU shirt (Gahhh! Yep - I said it. We're working on it...) I love the idea of a family picture each year of us in our 'nice' outfit and in the clothes we love most at that moment in time. Once everyone was in their 'nice' outfit the little one helped Tommy Thompson gather props. Most photo shoot props include flowers, maybe a blanket, a pile of leaves. In our house they are guns. I distinctly remember yelling for them to not forget my favorites... the gold one (obviously) and the mega. Tommy knows me well and already had them pulled. 

As soon as Patrick arrived Sweet Lucy and I walked him around the farm and discussed the best places to shoot, my favorite spots and what it was we were looking for - and the props. Tommy Thompson makes the farm look like a park so there were more options than not. Of course I picked the one spot he had just moved all the 'junk' to... the rusted oil drum, the rotting wood - Perfect! I so appreciate Patrick's demeanor and willingness to listen to what we wanted yet give direction. (Let's face it - I'm no model...)

Within minutes he was snapping photos, we were laughing - he even got Sweet Lucy to look AND smile at the camera! It felt like just another day on the farm with an old friend. After wrapping up the 'nice' outfit pictures with our rendition of American Gothic we had a race to see who could change into their favorite outfit the fastest. The last one had to make pancakes... wouldn't you know I lost. We wrapped up our shoot in our comfy clothes playing on the lawn which is how we wrap up nearly every weekend. It was a perfect start to our Sunday and our family photo tradition. 

We got the pictures back yesterday and I could not be happier with them. Patrick captured everything and more that I had hoped for. If I could move him into the basement to take pictures of us everyday I would. Now for the hard part... which ones do I keep? Hardest. Job. Yet. 

Thanks again Patrick! If you're in the market for a fabulous photographer check his work out at PhoCo .


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The strong-willed submissive

[strawng-wild, strong-]
1. having a powerful will; resolute.
2. stubborn; obstinate.
3. Shannon. 

[suh b-mis-iv]
1. inclined or ready to submit; unresistingly or humbly obedient.
2. marked by or indicating submission.
3. the exact opposite of Shannon. 

For as long as I could remember I've wanted to be a wife and a mama. Truth be told I never wanted to go to college, and when I did I thought surely I would earn an MRS degree as opposed to a BS degree. This had to be a slap in the face to my mother who after completing two years at a community college got married, got a job, had one perfect child (why not - it's my blog) and still found time to complete her bachelor's degree. Oh - she and my father paid for it all themselves. The simple point - I grew up in a house with a mother who wanted a family, a career, worked hard to get and excelled at it (still does actually). Did she send me to daycare - yes, did I get homemade lunches with handwritten notes everyday - no, did she ever miss a swim meet or school event - no; I knew I was loved, I never went without and I think daycare and hot lunches are pretty awesome actually. 

With her as my role model, alongside two very hard working fathers, I still always wanted to be a wife and a mama as my primary job. Of course I thought about being a teacher, an architect, a landscape architect - even a doctor for a short while (what was a thinking?!?!) - but that was always an aside to the first dream job. 

I did the college thing, changed my major multiple times, after five years I graduated with a degree in Merchandising and a minor in Women's Studies. Still to this day I have no idea what it cost - THANK YOU awesome parents!! Merch classes made me fall in love with the idea of working as a buyer for Crate & Barrel or designing visual merchandising plans for Pottery Barn - but my WS classes found myself in constant conflict with my peers for my thoughts on home life. I was the outcast - the audacity of me, as a woman in the 2000's to desire to be a stay at home mom. My peers just couldn't understand why I would go through college just to quit a job soon after. By graduation I had surmised that I would work - after five years in college I had a boyfriend that I might marry but I would have to work. BUT I would only work until I got married and had a baby. Right...

I believed then just as I do now that feminism gives us a choice - and I choose for ME to make my family my career - not a part of my career. That when men and women embrace their gender differences and accept that we were created to fulfill different roles life is grand. That may be a little too poetic but you get my point. It's interesting as I watch my girlfriends go from singles, to wives, to mamas, how many of them are choosing to be stay at home's, or at the very least desiring to be. 

This plan made perfect sense until I broke up with my college sweetheart. Then proceeded to spend the next seven years dating jerks or not dating at all. I had no choice but to focus on my career and be the best that I could be at it. My family had always taught me that working hard and challenging yourself brings the greatest rewards so that's what I did. I poured myself into my job, changing jobs when I had hit that 'ceiling' so I could continue to grow. It's not what I wanted - I wanted the husband and kids - the house with the big dining room table and plenty of bedrooms for guests, a big mantle and wide front porch to decorate for the seasons, some chickens so I never ran out of eggs - you know, just the basics. But this was the one thing I couldn't get on my own. The house and chickens yes, but what fun are all those things without someone to share them with. What fun would they be without my knight in shining armor to handle the 'manly' things like taking out the trash and mowing the lawn. I was capable of doing all these things on my own, and quite frankly I'd gotten pretty good at it (except for putting up a Christmas tree - I'll save that for a later post) but that wasn't the point. It never was for me. How was it that the one thing in life I wanted most was something that hard work and dedication could never bring me? Ummm where's that Disney classic???

(Are you still there? I should have prefaced the length of this post at the beginning... grab some champagne and popcorn, it's a long one.)

At 30 years old I found myself in a new career - a male dominated and military based industry of which I had no experience to share. Talk about a challenge. More times than not I've felt in over my head, but I work hard, do my job, ask for more responsibility and keep going. Never mind the tears or the swearing that have commenced, I will not give up. This is another step in my career since I had yet to meet my Mr. 

Then I met my Mr.  - at work. We became best friends and when the time was right - he made a move (although he swears I did) and we've been inseparable ever since. Literally. His office is six feet from mine, we travel on the same business trips, we carpool, we live together. It's awesome.... most of the time. He is the person I was meant to do life with. He is my best friend, my soul mate, my mentor and my crush. This relationship allows us to be completely honest with each other, even when the honest truth is hard to hear. That is at home at least...

...Work. He IS our company. He bleeds our logo, his loyalty is unquestionable, his knowledge is beyond impressive, his job is important - we need him. Me on the other hand, my job was created for me, and some may say it has no place here. My energy and strong-willed tendencies have rubbed some the wrong way while others find it refreshing. He is in the middle. He see's my value and wants to protect me from those that don't. Before we became an 'us', and now more than ever, he has been my champion and has wanted me to succeed here. 

I've struggled the last six months on whether to stay or find a new job. There are so many things I love about it, yet some very frustrating times as well. Isn't that the case with any job? Add in the fact that you work with your Mr. Crazy. But when your partner, your best friend, is in the middle of it - that's the test. After a trying couple of days last week over work stuff we were in a heated conversation he said to me 'Why can't you just be submissive to us at work? I am submissive to you at home!'

Submissive. That word. It felt like nails on a chalk board. The audacity of him to say that to ME of all people. I am the opposite of submissive - I am strong-willed and I like that about me. He doesn't know me at all. 

What??? Who am I? Who is this person that after finally getting what she has always wanted she is fighting the opportunity to not just play but to own the role of woman and enable her partner to own the role of man? Suddenly all those years of feeling sorry for myself that I hadn't met my Mr. and focusing on my career had caused me to lose focus of the original dream. He does know me - sometimes better than I know myself. 

After a full night to gather our thoughts we re-grouped. While his delivery sucked (a statement I made no less than ten times to him) the message was what I needed to hear. I am a better employee, friend, partner and keeper of the home we share when I allow myself to thrive at what I do best and allow him and others to do so as well. When I stop fighting it. When I stop relishing the strong-willed in me. 

{I can only imagine the look on my mother's face after that last line. 
Please don't say I told you so - baby steps.}

We're not married yet, and we've yet to have kids (aside from his perfect ten-year old mini me that I adore as my own) but we are sharing a life together and I for one am excited to embrace my role as the strong-willed submissive

UPDATE: As I've thought about this post in the last 24 hours I want to make it perfectly clear that my Mr. is unbelievably supportive of me in everything I do. We work through home, life and work as partners with equality - merely respecting where each of us shines. 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Target Skulls

Fall has always been my most favorite season of all. This year, as with all the holidays in the last few months, this one is extra special. 

We love skulls around our house (more about that in a later post) so Halloween is our month to shine on the decorations front. Which is why I should've been more prepared on a recent trip to Target... A few weeks ago my sweet niece Evelynn turned one. On our way to the party we stopped at Target to grab a gift. I'm an excellent Target shopper - I have a list, I know where in the store to go for my items, taking the path that will run me by all the clearance items on my way. I waste no time in Target, that's a dangerous thing to do in that store. This trip my two favorite guys were with me... this might be a different trip. After narrowing down the perfect toy for Miss Evelynn I found them in the Halloween aisle. It was hard to spot them at first... the little one was incognito as a hot dog. As we meandered the holiday aisles I failed to notice my cart quickly filling up. I blame the big one for distracting me with a foam wig (what?!? foam wig? brilliant!). We were running out of time to make it to the party so we grabbed some gift wrap and raced to the check out. It wasn't until then that I notice the contents of my cart. 


Big skulls, little skulls, skulls. What in heaven's name did we need with so many more skulls? There was no time to ask questions, we had to go, skulls in tow. 

The big one had mentioned placing the skulls on our front walkway - this made sense, there is no room inside for more skulls (I'm sure he'd disagree with this). After all, we needed a Halloween wreath, it would just be wrong to use the same fall wreath for October and November - right? In true Target fashion these skulls were a steal, $5 for the small ones, $10 for the large ones. In preparation for the project I picked up a few items from Hobby Lobby - a grapevine wreath for $8 and $30 worth of half off fall silk flowers.  I had floral wire, markers, the glue gun and wine (imperative) at home. A few evenings later after pouring a way too big glass of wine I pulled out the box of markers, pulled some pictures up from Pinterest for inspiration and decorated a small skull. This decorated skull would be the centerpiece for my new day of the dead wreath surrounded by what else - more skulls. 

I'm sad to say this did not make the cut for Halloween this year
This however came home with us. A fabulous addition to our costume closet I might add!
The skull as I was markering it (yes, that is a word, I'm waiting on the royalties from Webster any day now) 

The finished wreath.

Front porch. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Third times' a charm

I promised myself when I bought my first house I would blog about it. I bought a marijuana grow house to remodel after all - there would be no shortage of commentary. The first set back was losing my camera charger in the move, hard to blog about before and after accomplishes with grainy Blackberry pictures. Then there was the internet. $50 a month for internet could go a long way towards the reno budget. Oh and I can't forget my absolute fear of learning how to blog... but then my friend Lily sat me down and went over it step by step. Like a teacher would a fifth grader. 

Project after project I SWORE I would catch up and write down my progress, the injuries, the phone calls to my mother swearing I had no right to buy a fixer upper as a twenty something single woman, sharing my accomplishments, how much I hated the process getting there. Then suddenly, my project list shrunk, and I found myself re-painting rooms just because (actually, I did this even when my project list was ginormous, if you know me you know I like to re-paint rooms. And re-paint again). The house I swore I couldn't tackle was done. All grown up. Lucky for me the market had grown up as well and it was time to sell. In just over a month my very first home was under contract and I was on my way to a new town, a new job and the hunt for another home to tackle. And sadly, no blog to recount the beautiful disaster that it took to get it there. 

This time, THIS house I would blog about. I had no excuse, I could well afford internet now. And I not only had an iPhone to capture before and afters but a fancy schmancy DSLR. Not to mention a blog domain I had been paying for monthly for the last year and a half - and I thought about Lily helping me all those months ago. No excuses. Then life happened, as it always does, and my beautiful 119 year old house grew up in half the time as the first one, and so did I. I started a new job, met the love of my life, prioritized my remodel list and staked a rental sign in the front yard to start my new life in yet another town, with my beautiful quirky new family. Still - no blog. 

They say the third time is a charm and this being the third time I promise myself I will blog. I'm going to do it. It's a scary thing starting a blog. I think about Carrie Bradshaw writing about her life for all to read and it seems so glamorous and easy. And then I remind myself that opposite Carrie in New York, I live in Longmont Colorado, own not a single pair of Manolo's yet far too many Target brand shoes - but most of all, who would want to read what I have to say?

This year has been amazing - probably my best year yet. By no means has it been easy - just amazing. So I decided... I care what I have to say (in true only child fashion) and if nobody reads this but me - that's ok. I won't do it just because I promised myself I would but to document my life. (This makes me think of my beautiful Aunt Lanita who studies our ancestory - wouldn't it be grand if our great great grandmother had just made the time to write a blog Lanita?) I would write it to remind myself why I chose certain paths, and what I learned from them. To look back on all that I've accomplished and what I have left to continue working on. To laugh and cry over the memories and to remind myself each and every time I look at this blog how lucky I am. 

My new promise to myself is to make this blog fun. Focusing on the things in life I love most, the projects that I get so excited about (both completed and on my to-do list), the people that I can't live without, the places we visit and those we dream about, my sweet little Lucy and food - gosh I love food. And maybe, just maybe to give back. To let those people in my life that I can't live without know how much I love them. To share something I learned - especially if I learned it the hard way. 

Rules for reading this blog... If you haven't noticed already I write just like I talk. My first boss out of college told me that and if there ever were a place to make this trait shine, well here it is. I like to write incredibly long sentences and I catch myself having conversations within conversations. It's fun, you'll see. I absolutely love to entertain. I have an addiction to china, cake plates, brass candlesticks and anything gold. Pinterest makes me feel like wonder woman so you will see many a project that I pinned, even the Pinterest fails. You should know that I give things, people, places, experiences - everything - a nickname. 

Whether this is the next Pioneer Woman blog or merely a place for me to vent - thank you for looking on with an open mind.