Mama's Little Valentine

So remember that amazing photographer I talked about in my last blog post?  Well, she offered Valentine's Day mini sessions and I wanted so badly to have my little Valentine's photos taken.  But, unfortunately, I didn't have fast enough fingers when she opened the session on Facebook.  (You have to be one of the first ten to respond...the spots were filled in literally seconds.)  So I decided to take matters into my own hands and take some photos of my own!

With a little help from the hubs, I created a "studio" on our deck. 

Outside = natural lighting = the best
Bathroom rugs = backdrop
Props = decor from Michaels

It was warm (for January), but we took the space heater outside to keep nakie little boy even warmer.

I even ordered a cute Valentine's outfit from Etsy (with hopes that I'd have true professional photos taken).

The pictures turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!

My Dream Job

I love my job.  I really do.  I love the kids.  I love my co-workers.  I love teaching.  And I love proving that cool kids can do math.

I also love my baby.  And days off.  And though I've never, ever considered being a stay-at-home-mom, given the right job that I could do at home, I'd do just that.

Enter photography.  I've always loved taking pictures.  I remember getting my first camera in the early elementary grades.  It was purple, Mickey Mouse, and one of those cameras with the flashes that attached to the top.  There were like ten flashes and, with every photo taken, one flash burnt out.  I tried to find a picture of a similar camera online, but had no luck.

Since that very first Mickey Mouse camera, I've gone sans camera only once.  My beloved first digital camera took the brunt of tailgating accident in college.  It may have been alcohol-related, but I was heartbroken.  So I went without a camera for a few months, until Christmas when I received a new one.

Last October, I received my first DSLR camera as a Christmas Octobermas gift from my hubby.  Best. gift. ever.  Soon after, I took a photography workshop from a local photographer to learn how to use the manual settings on my camera.

And that's when I was inspired.  The instructor is this amazing photographer.  Seriously, check out her work on her company's Facebook page.  She didn't go to college for photography, she stays home with her girls during the days, she's super in-demand, but the most inspiring thing?  She got her first DSLR camera three.short.years-ago!  I think it's safe to say I want to be her.

Pre-teaching, I never even thought about photography as a career.  When I was a junior in high school, I decided exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  I wanted to be a pharmacist.  (Clearly that didn't pan out.)  As a result, I took a bunch of advanced classes during my senior year of high school to prepare me.  The pre-pharmacy program at college was so intense, there was no room for additional elective classes.  So never in my educational career did a take one photography class, and never did I explore photography as a career.

But now, after that workshop, I realize this is my dream job.  Or at least my 'fun' job.  Not sure it would be my 'pay the bills' job.  Now right now anyway.  But perhaps after a few years of practice??

I took some pics of my sister's little fam around Thanksgiving and took some pictures of a friend and her fiance last weekend.  She called them engagement photos, but I don't know that my amateur-ness qualifies them as true engagement pics. :)  I'm pretty happy with the results, though I will admit, I got a little freaked out about manual mode and switched it to P mode (semi-auto) more than a few times.  Here are my favorites from each session.

I had so much fun taking the photos!  I'm not the best at posing my subjects, but that's when Pinterest comes in handy!  So, who wants to be my next model??  Like I tell my students "Practice makes perfect" and I'm anxious to get there!

Photo Dump

I should probably just re-think the whole Friday Photo Dump thing, since it only happens about 25% of the time.  Whatev.

Here they are!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom!!  Brantley says you're the hippest 51-year old he knows.  And I agree! :)

Top: Gettin' good at sittin up | Homemade bbq sauce = throw in everything from the pantry | This makes getting up early on weekends worth it
Middle: 65 degrees calls for an iced drink | Trying to steal the dog bone (he succeeded lots, and chewed on it)
Bottom: MLK Day snuggles | Beauty | New fave place to play - the coffee table

For the Record

Yesterday, January 19, was sunny and the temperature reached 65 warm degrees.  I spent the afternoon outside in a park taking some pictures for a friend.  Then the hubs and I took B-Man for a walk and grilled one of our favorite summer meals, ribs.

Today, the temperature is 32 degrees with a frigid low of 19.  We have yet to leave the house and are spending the day next to a warm fire.  One of my favorite winter meals is in the crockpot (roast, carrots, and potatoes).

What a difference a day makes.  Silly Midwest weather!

How about some pictures of Mr. Cute? 

He decided to crawl through the coffee table today.

In one side...
And out the other...
And some more food pictures.  Daddy is a messy feeder...

My Big 3-0 (Part 1)

Last Saturday night was part one of my big 3-0 birthday celebration.  My girlfriends and I headed to Hook Gallery for a little wine-drinking and painting fun!  After a little mishap with the gallery (they double booked and asked us to come earlier than planned), things turned out wonderfully!  They more than made up for their unorganization by giving each girl a pretty significant discount, letting me attend for free, and giving us all $10 off coupons for a future painting happy hour.  Oh, and they're letting me go again for free!  Thursday night painting and wine happy hour, anyone??

We all painted the same thing.  Well, except for my co-worker, Angie, who did her own Andy Warhol-type painting.  The employee walked us through the painting and no prior artistic experience was needed.  Proof in point - many of us are math teachers.  Math teachers have zero creativity.  And our paintings turned out just fine.  In fact, I actually hung my work of art in our master bathroom!  However, two of my bestest friends are art teachers.  I think the gallery employees were a little intimidated by those two.  They were giving the group just as many tips as the gallery folk. :)

Before and afters

My work in progress

All the while painting, we socialized, drank wine, and ate Cupcakes a la Mode.  (Thanks for those, Erica!)  It was superb.  Here are some pictures of our painting party fun!

The group

Our masterpieces

After painting, we headed to Brio on the Plaza for a yummy dinner.  It was the perfect way to ring in my 30s!  Thanks to all my friends for coming out in the January cold to celebrate!  Love you all!

It's a Date Night

So I'm late with my Friday Photo Dump.  But I have good reason.  Last night, the hubs and I celebrated my 30th birthday.  With a date night!  The first since little B-Man was born 6 1/2 months ago.  Dinner and a movie.  Only in reverse order. 

Date night for us meant leaving the babe with a babysitter.  A non-Grandma, high-school-aged-girl* babysitter.  I rushed home from work and made sure to clean our house a bit and organize anything and everything she would possibly need.  But first, a quick stop at the grocery store to grab a few dinner/snack options for her - frozen pizza, Hot Pockets, bananas, goldfish, chips.  I didn't know what on Earth to feed her!  I typed up this cute, little note sheet that I totally stole from Pinterest.  Notes about feeding the babe, putting him to bed, emergency phone numbers, etc.  (Note to self: next time, include our Wifi info.)  I already know I'm a control freak (I mean, c'mon, I'm an uber-organized, type-A, anal high school math teacher), but having to hand over my child to a 17-year old girl for four hours brought out the 'control' even more.  I wanted everything to be perfect and ready for her.

We saw the movie Silver Linings Playbook (totally recommend it--kind of like a love story meets Dancing with the Stars meets someone with bipolar disorder, and not necessarily a chic flick either) and then went out for sushi.  Funny story about that.  We had reservations for a nice sushi place at 135th and Metcalf, but after coming out of the movie (at the theater a mere two minutes from our house), we decided to go to the sushi place across the street.  The one we always order take-out from.  I guess we missed the babe and wanted a quick dinner. 

Our usual** - Dragon rolls, salmon cream cheese jalapeno rolls, New York rolls, and Volcano rolls (not pictured)

We were done by 9:05 and contemplated what to do with our remaining 25 minutes.  We told Miss Courtney we'd be home around 9:30 and didn't want to surprise her too early.  We thought about venturing across the street to Home Goods (I know, we're crazy!) but they close at 9:30.  So, we went to the liquor store and picked up a few 6-packs of beer to re-stock our fridge.  And that is how we spent our first night away from B-Man. 

Brantley and Miss Courtney got along just fine.  We came home to a baby, dressed in his jammas, and sleeping soundly in his crib.  Sound machine and video monitor were both on, just as my instructions stated.  I was one of those people at the movie that kept my phone close by and texted a few times just to make sure things were going okay.  There were, of course.  She said, "He was an angel!"  That's my boy!

So, anyway, here's my weekly photo dump.  Happy {3-day} weekend!

Top: This kid loves to eat | Lovin' the 50 degrees in January! | Birthday cheesecake from the hubs
Middle: Yummo | Painting party before | Painting party after
Bottom: Proof that he's not always an angel | Notes for the babysitter

*A perk of being a high school teacher?  Access to lots of babysitters!
**The hubs has a shellfish allergy, so our sushi options are very limited.  Tuna, salmon, and eel.