Thankful Thursday: Like Mother, Like Daughter

Last week Meg and I had another great evening at the pier. No big ole’ stroller, I just carried her around and she did a lot of walking–with me holding her hands from the back. She is so funny. Sometimes there are big dogs out there, and they would walk past us on the side walk. Of course, their owners would have the dogs’ mouths covered up and have the dogs on a leash. However, I noticed that the big animals don’t scare Meg at this point. She actually starts walking towards them.

She doesn’t have that fear of the unknown yet. Well, besides strangers. She doesn’t like any stranger trying to hold her or even to get really close to her. The other day we were out there, the ducks were getting really close and feisty. They kept looking like they wanted to attack and take Megan out of my lap. So there were a few times we had to get up and move away from the wild ducks. She wasn’t scared though, but I was taken aback.

She gets so much attention when we’re out. On this most recent outing, it must was about 8 people/couples wanting to play and talk with her.

She used to be scared of the fountain, but she certainly wasn’t last week. The photo below was taken in November and she wasn’t with me on that night. However, it’s the same huge fountain that we sat near last week during sunset. And Miss Meg started taking her shoes off and was trying to wiggle out of my arms and get in the fountain!!

It was hilarious. I sat her down so she could dip her little hands in the fountain, but I was surprised and tickled pink that she wanted to get in there. I think she thought it was bath time since she now takes baths in the regular tub and not the kiddie tubs anymore.

We walked along this pier. I have a wonderful picture of her holding onto the rails and looking at the water. That’s when I thought to myself, she’s going to be a nature lover just like mommy!

The picture below was taken with my cell phone. It doesn’t matter….DSLR (which I never really carry anymore) or cell phone, practice framing your photos! We’ll buy her a camera when she gets older and go on many nature photo shoots.

Thankful.

Movie Break: Get Ready for “The Avengers!”

I am not knowledgeable about comic books and their characters. I just know that I watch Spider Man part 1 and 2 anytime they come on. That’s the most comic book knowledge that I have. And it’s only because of my husband that I am slightly familiar with The Avengers and the super heroes that make up the Avengers.

I absolutely loved Iron Man 2!! Captain America was great as well, and it had such a sad ending to me. 😦 That’s the extent of a movie review that I can give. So, here’s an informative and insightful blog post from my favorite blogger as he anticipates the upcoming highly anticipated movie, The Avengers. He’ll have a movie review of this movie very soon! I just asked him if he thinks The Avengers will make more money than “The Hunger Games.” He said an emphatically “Yes!”, it will! He knows his movies so I believe him. What do you think?

————————————————-

Heading Back Before Moving Forward

On May 4, one of the most ambitious movies ever made will be released to theaters here in North America. That’s right; I’m talking about The Avengers. This has been a franchise in the making for at least four years, due in large part to the rousing success of the 2008 film Iron Man. When that took off, Marvel Studios decided to bring the core group of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to film.

Now, I’ve seen all of the movies, and I think all of the reviews are available here. If not, they should be. At least most of them are. Anyway, you know my format for these, so let’s not lollygag any further, shall we?

Iron Man – 2008

The movie that started it all.  This movie was the kickoff to the resurgence of one Robert Downey, Jr.  He commands the screen as the rambunctiously blunt philanderer Tony Stark, and the Academy Award Nominee is supported by a veritable who’s-who of Hollywood talent.  Academy Award Winner Gwynneth Paltrow shines as Virginia “Pepper” Potts, future Academy Award Winner Jeff Daniels chews the scenery as Obadiah Stane, and Academy Award Nominee Terrence Dashon Howard (as he used to go by) plays the beleaguered James “Rhodey” Rhodes.  Director Jon Favreau had a chore on his hands, and he handled it magnificently.  A driving, rock-based score by Ramin Djawadi sealed the deal for this blockbuster film.  The only complaint that comes to mind is the finale that subscribed to the same tropes as most other Hollywood popcorn films.  The final confrontation could have been so much more, but it looked good for what it was.  On top of that, it introduced the “Avengers Initiative” to the rest of us, and set the stage for what we are looking forward to now.

The Incredible Hulk – 2008

Most comic book movie fans tend to discount the first botched attempt at making a movie about the green superhero, and so shall I.  The movie I’m talking about is the re-imagining starring Academy Award Nominee Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, Academy Award Nominee Tim Roth, and Academy Award Winner William Hurt as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross.  The movie in and of itself wasn’t a bad movie; in fact, it was pretty entertaining.  Liv Tyler’s voice began to grate my nerves after a while, because it was more akin to a high-pitched whine than a speaking voice, but it was only a minor gripe.  It didn’t falter near the end; in fact, it made me happy that it ended strong.  Plus, having RDJ pop in as Tony Stark was just as entertaining.

Iron Man 2 – 2010

The inevitable follow-up to Iron Man brings back the principle good guys, with the exception of Terrence Howard; he was replaced with Academy Award Nominee Don Cheadle.  The cast also included Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, Academy Award Nominee Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, and Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Black Widow.  With the exception of my final rating – I’m knocking it down to Three Times More Epic than Love Jones, my review can be found by following the link.

Thor – 2011

This was one of those Iron Man-type movies: second tier property with a relative unknown, surrounded by a pretty strong cast.  What could go wrong?  Not much.  Chris Hemsworth became a household name as the Norse God of Thunder, Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman did her due diligence as Jane Foster, Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and a host of other characters too numerous to mention in this brief synopsis.  Instead of repeating myself from my original review, you can find my initial thoughts by clicking on the link.

Captain America: The First Avenger – 2011

The final piece in the Marvel Cinematic Universe puzzle is Captain America, and he is represented well on the big screen.  Chris Evans stars as the titular hero, and he’s accompanied by Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes Stanley Tucci as Howard Eskine, and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark (yes, Tony Stark’s dad).  I already gave my thoughts about it earlier, and I invite you to check it out by following the titled link.

So, there you have it.  Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson) – are coming to take over the movie theaters.

The world had better be ready.

Question of the day: What do you enjoy about getting older?

There are so many negatives related to aging, everything ranging from our physical appearance to our general health status is negatively impacted by aging. I think it’s good to find something positive regarding getting older, and embrace it among the sea of negatives that are out there.

I’m 35-years old. (Ouch, that honestly stings to say, because wow, I’m really getting seasoned to say the least. And “35” is a pretty high number. Oh wait, I’m supposed to be discussing the positive side of aging.)

So, only recently have I realized that I truly get better with age in many ways. I can finally understand what Oprah meant when she said, “Life begins at 40.” I was about 15-years old when I heard her say that (I’ve been an Oprah fan for a long time), and I could never understand where she was coming from. I truly thought it was something women said just to make themselves feel better about getting older.  Of course I also thought I knew everything at that age.

Now that I’m 35 (ouch, am I really this old?), I can truly say that I get better with age because:

  • I’m very satisfied with the many things I painfully obsessed over in my teens, 20’s, and even early 30’s. Things such as hair length, hair type, weight (I was either too thin or too heavy),  complexion or skin tone, my hands, my knees, my feet, you name it, there would be some point that I would wish I looked “better” in a particular area. I realize how insignificant those things are in the grand scheme of LIFE despite the emphasis that society places on them. Those things do not contribute to what’s most important in life: Health, strong sense of self, strong spirituality, health, and loving, healthy relationships.
  • I’m okay with being quiet and introverted and realize that I’m never going to change, and why should I have to? I used to desperately wish I could be the popular, social butterfly who loves to party. I’m actually a bit of a wall flower, and that’s really okay. I can make my impact in other ways besides being the life of the party.
  • Becoming a wife and mother, and experiencing, living, and growing in these roles are gifts that make aging a worthwhile treasure .

Art credits: “Butterfly” by Michael Wallace.

————————————————-

What about you?

A Mother’s Spirit

A Mother's Love by Kolonji

I’m realizing I had a void in my life before becoming a mom and that’s partly why I was so drawn to working with kids. Now, I’m like a different person when it comes to other people’s kids. I’m somewhat selfish now, in the sense that I realize how micro my time and life is, and I want all my nurturing and patience to go to my kids/family kids.

That’s actually why I knew it was time to try and have my own, because I kept getting heartbroken and sickened with stress from other people’s abused, neglected, traumatized kids that came into my life. I remember being pregnant and still crying over all these kids I couldn’t help. I always wondered why I would cross paths with such hurting and suffering children, yet I wouldn’t be able to help them out of their situation. It felt like torture, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to have my own child if I didn’t step back for a while.

Now that I have my own little angel, I’m like, wow, I owe everything to her. I can’t let other parents’ mistakes tear me down and I bring that home to my child. I don’t see how youth workers and teachers with their own children not bring that stuff home. I accept the fact that I have a very obsessive, high strung personality and if it’s anything I can’t solve or conquer it runs me crazy(er) and eats me alive. I don’t see how teachers/counselors/youth workers of troubled children turn it all off when it’s time to deal with their own kids.

I’m finally so at peace. I don’t feel like I failed all those other kids in past. The group of 5th grade, inner city, troubled students where I had to quit, though I loved them (probably too much), since having my own child I no longer feel like I failed them or any other kids I couldn’t help. I must have tried so hard, too hard, because I had a void because I wasn’t a mom. It’s amazing how you can look back and put the pieces of the puzzle together. I would like to use my love for education in a different way, not just with kids. I actually enjoyed working with elderly people, to my surprise. I learned so much about living life, growing old, and death.
———————
Art Credit: I believe it is called “A Mother’s Love by Kolonji.”
http://imgfave.com

Movie Break: The Hunger Games

This post titled, “Let the Games Begin” is from Mr.Joseph’s Blog, RamblingBlackMan

A few weeks ago, I sat down and read The Hunger Games trilogy, and I was excited to see how well it would translate to the big screen.  I got my chance to find out today as I went to the 9:30 showing of the first book, The Hunger Games.  The dystopian science fiction action-drama film – which is rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland.  Book to film translations are always a mixed bag; for every Harry Potter, you get a Percy Jackson (I’m only assuming, because I’ve never read any of the Percy Jackson books).  This film has the benefit of having the author of the series serve as one of the writers of the film.  Does the impact and import of Suzanne Collins overrule whatever Lionsgate Films would want to do with her property, or does she stand firm?  Only one way to find out…

The movie begins with an explanation of how the Hunger Games came to be.  Somewhere in the near future, North America as we currently know it no longer exists; instead, what’s left of the continent is divided into thirteen Districts, with all of them reporting to the Capitol.  Sometime later on, the Districts revolted against the Capitol’s regime.  The Capitol eventually won, but they forced the other twelve Districts (District 13 being a casualty) to send up a male and female child from the ages of 12 to 18 to serve as “tributes” and participate in an annual ritual known as The Hunger Games.  The film then switches to 16 year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and 17 year old Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) hunting in the forbidden area outside of District 12.

All goes well until they notice a ship flying above them.  The ship signals the beginning of the “Reaping”, where the Tributes are chosen.  Katniss and Gale have their names listed several times, as they receive enough grain and oil to make it through a year by doing so.  Katniss’ sister, Primrose (Willow Shields), is also up for her first Reaping, but the odds are slim that she will be chosen.  The time for the Reaping begins with a flourish, thanks to Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth Banks), and the first tribute is chosen: Primrose Everdeen.  Katniss volunteers in her behalf, and the male tribute – Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is chosen.  They are whisked to the Capitol, where they meet their mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and Katniss meets her stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz).  Eventually, the time comes for the Games to begin, and the movie takes off from there.

Read more of this wonderful review here HERE

10 things I want to say to my daughter

1)You’re currently 13 months old!

2)You’re not walking on your own yet, but you love to walk while holding our hands and holding onto furniture.

3)You love to push small boxes, chairs, and anything with wheels around the house.

4)We went to the Strawberry Festival this past weekend. When I took you out of the stroller you decided you wanted to push the stroller and you didn’t want me to pick you back up.

5)Your absolute most favorite food in the world is…..RED GRAPES!! You love love love them.

6)You like music, and you like to do baby dances. You also really like the final Jeopardy music and will stop what you’re doing to look at the TV.

7)When you get older, I know that you will like music from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, because that is your momma’s favorite music; so anytime I listen to it with kids in the family, they end up liking, no LOVING those old songs.

8)You are such a mini-me with all of your talking and feistyness. Lately you’ve been pointing your fingers, while standing in your crib and giving some very serious baby talk. I call you the professa (professor). Your dad calls you Preacher Megan when you do that. We’ve got to get this on video.

9) You like to take books and pretend you are reading! Seems like you will take after your dad in this regard and read lots of books on your own when you get older.

10)It’s been an amazing journey with you. May God continue to have mercy on us and allow us to all have a beautiful future together. 

————————————-

———————-

**Hugs & Kisses**

Taking photos and keeping baby happy

I love taking Meg to the pier. Most of the time I don’t bother to take my camera because I have her stroller, snacks, her diaper bag, some toys for her, as well as my cellphone and other personal things I need. One time I was feeling energetic enough to take the camera, but not the stroller. I’m cool with carrying her on my hips. So one time I tried taking photos with her on my hip, lol, my photos were of course crooked and hard to compose.

During our most recent visit to the pier, I brought the stroller, and of course wasn’t free to move around very much. So I wasn’t so sure how the photos would turn out, but they came out fine. For each shot, it took me about 10 seconds to give Meg a snack, test my camera setting, make sure Meg is content, readjust my camera setting to the correct setting (in this case I increased shutter speed to decrease the amount of light coming in), compose the shot, and snap the photo! I didn’t have time to sit there and continue to adjust the settings to see what results I could come up with, but these worked just fine.

The sun sets so very quickly. You have only a few minutes to get it together…

before it’s gone. But then you’re still left with other photo opportunities.

Baby was happy, and momma was happy!

Mother’s Day Ideas!

 I love Mother’s Day!

As I mentioned in this post, Happiest Little Girl in the World, I had a magical, wonderful childhood thanks to my wonderful parents. And of course, we just happen to live in a neighborhood with lots of kids, and a great location that provided us many opportunities to have so much fun.

Mother’s Day is an important day for me. I may let Christmas gifts and Birthday gifts slide, but Mother’s Day is that day where it’s important to make sure mom feels very special and appreciated as you look back on the years she has given so much to raise a family in this challenging world that is about everything but family.

Ideas

1)I’m in the process of starting my own (online) photography gift shop. I’m starting off by offering photo books and 4×6 and 5X7 prints as part of a gift package. My 1st photo book is Rainbow-themed. It will have rainbow photographs that I have taken, as well as prayers, quotes, cooking ideas (How to make a rainbow cake), a photography article (how to photograph a rainbow), and rainbow lesson ideas for teachers and parents. I will like to give my mother (and my motherinlaw) the first copies of my book that I hope does well. More on all of this later.

2)So I will basically like to have an entire table set up for mom with all types of little things, such as:

3)Colorful flowers, something to match the very slight rainbow theme I am going with. Of course this will be a joint effort of my sisters and me.

4)A CD with some family videos of her grand kids. Also will be the Easter speech videos from her grand kids. She saw the Easter speeches on my cell phone as best she could. She asked for these to go on a CD, so what better way than to make it for Mother’s day.

5)I’m thinking of putting together a little booklet where each grandkid write something for her and draw something. Gotta get the rainbow theme in here somehow.

6)A Giftcard for her to, I guess her favorite store.

7) I will need to have a photo of all of the grand kids on it.

8)She has already asked us to cook for her. (Why didn’t we think of that). So for dessert it will be the layered rainbow cake.

Photo Credits:

 http://static.tastykitchen.com
http://chella.typepad.com/
 

Happiest Little Girl in the World

…That would be me, in the mid and early 1980’s. I had the best childhood any kid could ever ask for. There were no trips to Disney, no fancy summer camps, or anything like that. We just used our imaginations and created our own magic. From board games to hide and seek to our treasure hunt bike trails and our dance routines, our club house….and so much more, we always had something fun going on.

But the main reason why my childhood was so wonderful and magical was because of the heaven-sent parents the Lord chose for my sisters and me. They did a wonderful job of shielding and protecting us from the many dangers that hunt so many children and rob them of their childhood. As we got older, of course, they had to slowly let us find our own way in this world, but they certainly laid a solid foundation for us.

I miss the innocence and magic of my childhood so much. So much actually, that years ago I started having these dreams where I am a little girl again. I am very happy and without a care in the world. I’m protected, stress-free, and oblivious to the many ills of the world. I’m playing and enjoying myself, and then suddenly in the dream, the realization comes that this sweet and innocent candy-coated world of mine will not last forever. In the dream I begin to realize the harshness and cruelty that awaits me when around age 11. Things such as puberty, certain family members turning to drugs, the neighborhood becoming violent and beginning to deteriorate, my cousins and friends starting to take a  faster and negative path in life, noticing and experiencing sexism and hatred against females, becoming more  aware of racism….I could list many more things, but basically those are the things I woke up to once my dreamy, lovely childhood was over. It is almost like my entire world changed over night.

Besides those heavy things, things like Saturday morning cartoons, family-friendly and classy Black sitcoms, classy music and videos….playing all the yard games, board games, dance routines, riding our bikes miles away from home, going on long walks away from home, etc would also be coming to an end as everyone grew up, found different interests, and the entertainment world changed for the worse.

So about 2 weeks ago, I had the dream again. I was in my childhood home, walking through the long brown hallway. I had my long ponytails, and was smiling and as happy as they come. Then it hit me that eventually I’m going to grow up. As in all of my dreams like this, I began crying hysterically in the dream and shouting over and over how much I do not want to grow up. I cry so hard in the dream that I can actually (physically, as in real life) feel the tears in my eyes and I can feel the lump in my throat as I sleep. I would wake up with actual tears in my eyes.

But this dream was very different!

In this dream, as I was crying, someone (I don’t know who it was–it was a female), but someone brought Megan to me. In the dream, I was told that it’s time to stop crying and stop grieving for my childhood. The message was now that I have Megan, I can use those same memories as a way to create  magical and wonderful childhood memories for Megan. She is my new magic, innocence, wonder, joy, happiness, and everything that my childhood represented; I can find it in Megan.

So actually, it’s not the end of my childhood. It’s actually a new beginning.

My Baby is One Years Old!

I loved planning our baby’s birthday celebration. Everything went great! I loved having all of the family together, and the kids had a blast. When it comes to kids, all you need is some food and enough room for them to run around and play! The adults were all smiles and enjoyed themselves as well. Everyone absolutely loved the decorations and ideas!

Megan wouldn’t let anyone hold her. She cried & fussed with her little pink tutu on. It’s funny at first, she and I were taking pictures, she was so happy and playful. As soon as the first guests walk through the door she starts fussing. If she doesn’t see you everyday she doesn’t know you at this point. She always loves the kids though.

This was the inside of the birthday card for everyone to sign:

Those are the lyrics from one of my favorite songs called “Black Butterfly” by Deniece Williams. I used to listen to this song all the time when I was a teenager. The song’s full lyrics were posted outside of Megan’s bedroom door. My baby gonna set the skies on fire! What beautiful lyrics…makes me cry.

I’m very picky (extremely!) and am usually very much against invites where you hand write anything, but it really didn’t matter as these weren’t mailed out. They were just given out for fun and keepsake:

I wrapped a computer desk with red paper and made it the ‘Red & White Table’ with peppermint favors at the top…

….And at the bottom, in between these 2 hearts  was a pearl necklace which had “The name Megan means pearl” written near it. There was a label that said “Butterfly Kisses” because the hearts had Hershey’s Kisses in them.

Each of the kids that were invited had to choose a butterfly picture to color. I framed them and put them in an “Art Gallery” for the party. The one below is from my 6 year- old nephew Will. Bless his heart; okay bless his parents’ hearts because he was so excited about the party that he didn’t sleep at all the night before!

This poem was also in the gallery. I didn’t care about the ink getting low; it was readable so I didn’t reprint it. I try hard to stop being a perfectionist so I was proud of myself for letting this stay just like it was. That’s paper I bought during my teaching days.

The display table had this book on it.  Of course none of the kids touched the book, but of course they grabbed those noise maker things. I love my babies.

Below is one of the poems that was displayed. .As I read a lot of butterfly poetry to decide which ones to choose, I noticed that the poems were all so beautiful. WOW. I usually do not like poetry because I usually don’t get it & had to interpret it in High school and my interpretation would always be wrong. Like how am I supposed to know what the authors meant when they wrote their poetry? All of the butterfly poems were so straight forward, deep & powerful I would have made a “Megan’s Book of Butterfly Poetry” if  I would have had time.

Display table. I adore bows and tulle.

Sunflowers. I can’t begin to explain how much I LOVE flowers and especially these sunflowers. Goodness! At first I was going to use Crazy Daisies, but then I saw the sunflowers. I would ask the floral people if the flowers would be in bloom on her party date and was smiling a mile wide when they said yes.

I found information on how sunflowers relate to butterflies and I printed it and displayed it.

These things are hard to photograph because they are very dark in the center but then the petals are very light. Especially since I only have a pop up flash, I try to use natural light & avoid flash most of the time, but that just didn’t happen this time. I had to use flash to get the (somewhat) detail of the center/head.

The jar kept tipping over so I had to position them in a certain way.

Below is natural light coming in from the balcony. So when it was time to take photos of Megan and other people….their movement caused the photos to be blurry as my camera remained set for still life, no flash, so basically wide aperture and slow shutter speed.

As I was reading a critique of someone else’s blurry photo, lol, I was supposed to: 1)Increase shutter speed to freeze motion 2)When you alter one setting you are trading off something else. So since less light would be coming in by increasing shutter speed, I would need to increase ISO. I shoot in Manual Mode and am thrilled with how far I’ve come with understanding how to use available light. However, it’s time to also focus on decreasing motion blur.

partay 0655

My husband took this photo; and it’s a good one! My little handwriting can be rough.

From the Mouth of Babes

My niece (age 9) goes: “Ummm so we’re at a party and we still have to do school work?”

My other niece (age 10) called after the party saying she loved how their pictures were framed and she was giving me some ideas about the Butterfly Kisses & Hershey’s Kisses.

I was so rushing by this time, the day before the party. I was like…ok, 2 pink flower photos of mine plus the green paper fit into the pink & green color scheme. I doubt anyone picked up on that detail. My husband already told me I was quite “special” when I was mentioning how the balloons’ designs and colors need to be a certain way. He said no one will notice. I know that’s true, but I love being super-detailed. This Photo Shop section was for parents & grandparents to pick out past years photos of their kids and grand kids, as well as some tutu photos of Megan. There was a black and white photo of Megan in a gray frame that said “Bless this Child.”

Butterfly jewelry

The paper it’s printed on has jewelry on it. That’s some cute paper I bought during my teaching days.

I made sure I had the silver one. I’m so attached to it.((Heart)) When my mother-in-law came back later that night she still had on her necklace. My best friend said she’s keeping her bracelet because it’s so sentimental. Indeed it is. (Blurry photo)

These are the (common) names of different butterflies. They were placed throughout the party area.

A cupcake cake….also called Pull Apart Cake. There was also some little debbie cakes called Butterfly Cakes because they were shaped like butterflies.

Fly Away…

We had a balloon on the balcony with butterflies on and it, and the kids counted down so that Megan (with my help) can release the balloon into the air. It floated up and behind the building. Awwww, man, we didn’t get to see it float way. We’ll pay attention to the wind’s direction next time.

——————

——————

For an update, view this post: My Baby is 2 Years Old!