Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Check It Off Her Bucket List

Holy Schomly...my daughter is an internet published photographer!  And not just by me on this blog or on her webpage...see, I know what you're thinking.  :)  Now, don't get me wrong, I love to use her photography, but as her biggest fan & biggest critic, she really does have an eye.

There are wonderfully talented people in my community.  Artists, artisans, home decorators, fashion consultants, writers, and the list keeps going.  It really is amazing as I stop and think about it.  There are many of them who use their talent, not only to make something more beautiful, but a chance to share about the One who gave them the talent.  It's pretty cool.

One of those people is Buffy York.  Buffy started a very popular blog called The Style Gathering, and features a talented Godly friend, Laura DiFatta, as one of her guest writers.  How Elizabeth came to meet Buffy, and now be a photographer for her is, to me, a pretty cool story.

This past spring, after Elizabeth's 14th birthday, we enrolled her in a photography class.  Hopson & I felt that she has this nice camera & she needs to know how to use it properly.  I could stumble my way through auto-focus, but I wanted her to learn the ins and outs of her camera.  So, every Thursday for 8 weeks, I took miss priss to her class.  I thought the teacher would just be walking them through the basics of digital photography.  Oh no, they had weekly projects.  So, on top of her regular homework, that child was taking her lampshade off, using forks and eggs and laying down in the middle of the street to get "the perfect shot".  All the students had to submit their work online & it was critiqued by the teacher.  I think I would cry.

The pressure of getting the perfect shot would probably cause me sleepless nights.  Not E.  She loved it.  At first she felt a little weird because everyone in the class was old enough to be her parent or grandparent, but she got over it very quickly.  It's amazing how, when someone looks at something you've done and tells you that it is good, it will boost your confidence.  (1 Timothy 4:12)  Elizabeth loved the class, and guess who was also in there...that's right, Buffy.  Elizabeth remembered her from class & actually sat by her at a fundraiser that they were both involved in a few weeks ago.

I was talking to Laura last week & asked her if Elizabeth could take pictures for the blog.  I have been following the blog & loved the pictures they have featured by other photographers.  I figured there was no harm in asking...the worst thing they could say was no.  Laura was extremely sweet & passed on my message & a few days ago E received a text from Buffy to meet her yesterday for a shoot!  Well, today, miss priss has her pictures published on The Style Gathering.

She was so excited she couldn't wait to tell me.  She was at dance and sent me the text you see on the left.  That child is on cloud 9.  Congrats to my crazy snapper.  (if you've ever been around her when she's taking pictures, she does snap those photos like crazy!  you can tell she digitally trained & not film trained.)    If you get the chance, head over to The Style Gathering & check it out, you'll be uplifted & glad you did.

Celebrating life & little girls seeing big dreams come true!
~ashley

PS ~ I'm going to take just a minute to brag on the oldest & youngest for just a sec!

Congrats to Hop for this photo making the AUDM Instagram page.  He was one of the MCs last year & had a blast.  All money raised goes to the Children's Miracle Network.  So proud of my not so little kid.  :)  Just in case you couldn't guess, he is dressed in a Spartan cheerleader costume.  College kids...they crack me up!



Congrats to the youngest, Henry, for being awarded good citizen for the first 9 weeks of school.  Only 4 students were chosen from his pod & he was one of them.  :)  I think you're a pretty cool kid Mr. Hen!   
       

 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Some Perspective From the Cheap Seats

Good gravy the rumors have been flying around this city faster than a forest fire.  I should know because I heard someone ask me if I had heard what was going on.  First of all, yes I know what the rumor is & second, no it's not true.  I know you wondering what this is all about.  I'm going to give you a few minutes to...

...think...
...a little more...
...you know what it is...
...it's the one thing that can make the most rational person totally crazy...
...think a little more...
...it's little league sports.

Here's my take on little league sports, of any kind, both girls and boys.


  1. Little league sports are to teach basic knowledge of the game.  In football it's blocking & tackling; baseball/softball it's hitting & fielding; basketball it's dribbling & shooting;  lacrosse it's throwing, catching & shooting.  Your football player learns that a 42 draw is the tailback (or fullback) going through the hole on the right side in-between the center & guard.  He learns that everyone on the field has a job & they have to do their job or the play won't go right.
  2. Little league sports are to help develop a love of the game.  When I coached diving I made it my goal for the kids to learn to dive well & more importantly, want to dive again next year.  I think coaches forget this rule.  Some are so focused on winning they forget that developing a love of the sport will last long after the child has stopped playing.
  3. Little league sports help develop character.  It can be just as hard to be gracious when you win as it is to be classy when you lose.  Hey coaches & parents, your children are watching you, and they are great at mimicking your behavior.  Show them, don't just tell them what good character looks like.  
  4. Little league sports can ready you for real life.  Have you ever been trucked, blindsided or hit when you're already down by life?  I have.  You know what little league sports teach you?  Get up and try it again.  If you mess up; learn from it & move on.  Don't replay the mess-up, get over it.
  5. Little league sports teach you how to work with a team.  You know why I love football?  (besides the fact that I live in the south...) If one guy messes up on a play, it affects everyone.  Ever seen one guy jump offsides?  Back'em up 5.  One guy get called for pass interference?  15 yards tacked on from the end of the run....  I can keep going, but I think you get the idea.  What you do in a group matters & when you're on a team (and in real life) it's not all about you. 
  6. Little league sports give you as a spectator a chance to praise your child.  Stop  yelling at your kids.  Let the coach talk to them if they mess up.  (I feel yelling as a coach is ok when they get older...like 8th grade & up)  I admit, this is a hard one for me especially since #4 will mentally wander.  Yeah, it drives me crazy, but I've tried to talk to the coaches & let them know what's going on so they can bring the wandering mind into focus.  The good ones do, but the bad ones...well, we won't go there...today.   
  7. Stop treating little kids like professional athletes. Your job does not ride on a bunch of 10 year olds winning your next game, so quit acting like it does.  Please, please, please listen when men, like Dr. James Andrews, give advice.  He's not just blowing smoke and trying to hold your child back from making the bigs one day; he is trying to keep your child safe from hurting themselves.  Besides, he's only one of the world's most renowned Orthopedic surgeons, but I am SHOCKED how so many moms & dads poopoo what he says.  
Now that I have gotten that rant off my chest, I have to say that if you are not doing or following at least a few of the 7 things from above, you might want to ask yourself why you are coaching or allowing your child to play little league sports.  Because you know what mom & dad, it's not about you anyway.  It's about your child & as soon as you figure that out, the better off you'll be. 

You might wonder where I came up with my 7 points?  I've had my fanny in the stands or working different sporting events since my brother was 5 years old.  The year he graduated from high school was the spring Hop was old enough to start playing little league.  30 years I've been watching someone in the fam play sports, and that's a long time.  I've seen some really great coaches & I've seen some pretty horrible ones.  Fortunately, there have been more good ones than bad.  I challenge all coaches to step up & be THAT coach!  The one that teaches knowledge of & a love for the game.  Your players will respect you & thank you for it.

This was my perspective from the cheap seats, so you can take it for what it's worth.  :)

Celebrating life & good, clean sports,
~ashley     

Friday, October 17, 2014

You Know You Want Some

BBQ the Bucs
Big & Midge
#1 on your plate & #1 in your heart

Every  year to raise money for Relay for Life our local high school hosts a huge event called BBQ the Bucs.  (This is one of our big rivals.)  Teams sign up to compete in the category of their choice:  hamburgers, chicken or steak.  The competition is judged and winners are announced.  Who will be king of the grill?  

This is the 2nd year that Harry has competed with his friend Anthony.  The name of their team is Big & Midge.  You understand the name when you see the picture of them together.  :)  Harry and Anthony have been friends, I think, since they were 2.  Old friends are special, and theirs has always been an easy going friendship.  We love Ant.  

Last year Big & Midge came in 2nd.  Harry was not very happy with that.  He felt team Big & Midge deserved to win.  Since they didn't, those two redoubled their efforts.  Harry has been perfecting his steaks for a year.  I had one two weeks ago & it was absolutely incredible.  Juicy and a perfect medium...oh so good!  I'm not saying that as a proud mom, even though I am, I'm saying that as someone who's been slinging hash for over 20 years.  It's easy to mess up a steak.  (trust me, I've messed up 1 or 10 or 20.  Well, not really that many, but a good 5-7...)  Chicken is easy to grill, but I have a hard time grilling a good steak.  Harry has a secret ingredient he puts on his steaks that make them melt in your mouth.  I could tell you what it is, but I'm not.  :)  

For 2014, Big & Midge won the steak division of BBQ the Bucs.  So proud of those two.  They worked very hard to win.  They are #1 on your plate & #1 in your heart!  #bigandmidge  #grillkings & you know you want some!!! 

Celebrating being #1!  Congrats Big & Midge!!!
~ashley          

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

College Edition: 2.1

Well, it is a great day in our house.  Another child will be leaving the nest & heading down to the loveliest village on the plains in the fall of 2015.  Harry received his college acceptance "letter" today.  I have letter in quotation marks because you now find out if you get into college by logging onto the school website.  It's very endearing...said no parent ever.  How am I supposed to have a picture of his smiling face with said letter?  Should I take it with him holding his phone or in front of the computer?  I need paper.  (Kinda like I need a real human voice...)  I need to see the words: "Congratulations Harrison!  You've been accepted for the incoming freshman class to Auburn University".

I am excited for him, paper acceptance or no.  He has no idea what he is about to step into, but I know he and Auburn are going to get along splendidly.  Things have changed a lot in Auburn, but the spirit remains the same.  I love the Auburn Creed & hope that Harry will take the time to live out everything it says, because it's a really great way to go through life.  Now he is joining a much bigger family...the Auburn family.  It's hard to not get excited when your child is going to your alma mater.  I would hack off my arm to go back.  Those were some great years.  I remember how my dad was when I received my acceptance letter.  He was more excited than I was.  Harry is 4.2 to go to Auburn on my side.  (4th generation 2nd child)  I wish my parents were alive to celebrate with him too.

It's hard to see my babies grow up.  They start to leave as they get fun.  :/  Just had to share the happy news.  Congratulations Harry, I'm proud of you!  You're kind of a cool kid.  War Eagle!!!

Celebrating the big things in life,
~ashley        




Monday, October 13, 2014

Please Listen Closely...

...Because our automated menu has changed.

No, no, nonono.  Do you know how much I despise automated menus???  Um, A WHOLE LOT!  I really hate the ones that have the condescending voice with them.  "Ok, let me see if I can help you."  (Charter...)  No you can't help me because you can't talk to me!  You know who I want to talk to?  A real person, who speaks great English, because I live in America!  I've just started pressing '00' to get to a customer service representative every time I hear a d*%n automated voice.  I don't care if the company thinks it's faster, more efficient or better for their bottom line, I need a person. A real living breathing human, who can laugh at me if I do something totally stupid.

I actually changed credit card companies a few  years ago because I always got an automated answering service & it took 20 minutes to speak to a real person.  It didn't take 20 minutes because I was on hold, it took 20 minutes because it didn't  understand my '00', which everyone knows means put me through to the humans.  The system would just hang up on me.  I now use Capital One & you know what?  Every time, and I mean every time, I call I get a real person on the phone after a few rings.  They are chatty when I need them to be, always helpful and just happy.  They are located in Orlando, and I think that's why.  I wouldn't be surprised if Disney owns Capital One, because they are the DW of credit cards. (and no, I'm not a paid spokesperson, but they have my loyalty)  When Elizabeth was going out of the country a few years ago, and I was a slacker getting her a prepaid credit card she could use in Canada, which doesn't exist, Capital One hooked me  up & FedEx'ed me the card to make sure we had plenty of time before she left.  Their customer service is second to none.

You know, if you have good customer service, I'll become a very loyal patron.  If you don't hasta la vista, baby.  Mama don't have time to be listening to a machine.

Thanks for letting me get this off my back.  I have been dealing with automated systems this morning & I just want to jump through my phone and slap whomever thought this thing is a good idea.  Am I the only one who feels like that?  You know misery loves company so I would love to hear your funny stories with automated systems.  :)  OK, now I feel better.  Oh, gotta go, the '00' worked!

Celebrating life & talking to real people,
~ashley




Friday, October 10, 2014

Some People Just Have It

...and some of us try really hard to get it.  Once in a while we'll catch it, and the rest of the time we chase it.

I have realized that I'm a mediocre photographer at best.  Like that blind squirrel, I will occasionally find a nut.  When I take that one really great picture, you better believe that I will get it printed & share it!  I used to think I had potential...but sadly, I don't.  I'm just going to keep hoping I get lucky, and celebrate when I do.

You might be wondering what helped me realize my mediocrity?  It was my daughter, Elizabeth.  A few years ago I was taking pictures at one of Hop's football games & she wanted my camera to take pictures.  I thought, ok, why not?  She was only 12, and it was a chance for her to learn a few things about basic point and shoot photography.  I didn't see my camera for the rest of the night.  Now that I really think about it, I didn't see my camera a lot.  I was fine with it though, because when we looked through her pictures, they were always much better than mine.  Not just a little bit better, but a lot better.  She just seemed to capture the moment perfectly.


She just sees things differently better than I do.  The more practice she has the better she gets.  Every time I go through her pictures I'm amazed at how she captures, well, everything.  For the love, she made a picture of a basketball goal look amazing.  I know what you're thinking, it's a basketball goal net, what's so special about it?  It's the lighting, and the blue of the sky, angle of the net, it's just everything.  Not everything she takes a picture of turns out well, and we have a great laugh a those pictures, but she tries to find out what she can learn from those shots.  Always learning and always trying to do her best.

I recently did a few look books of my favorite pieces for her to show people her work.  (in all honesty, I could probably make 10 of them)  Some of the pictures make me laugh, some make me cry, and some make me want to write.  Am I biased, maybe a little.  But, one thing I do know, she has a natural talent and I'm a wanna be.  :)  We have fun with it.  She is the teacher, and I will try to be a good student.  If I could just get the hang of aperture.... :)

Celebrating life & appreciating children's talents,
~ashley      

Friday, September 12, 2014

525600 Minutes - 102

How do you measure a year in the life?  Yesterday was 9/11.  Do you remember?  Do you remember where you were that Tuesday 13 years ago?  I do.  It took 102 minutes from start to finish.  102 minutes that have changed everything for the United States of America.  I still can't talk about it without crying.  I'm not from New York and I didn't have a family member killed that day, but my heart hurts just the same.  I so wish I could forget, but our country can never go back.  I imagine this is how my grandparents felt about December 7th.  

I watched a special last night on TLC about the 102 minutes.  It was foreboding knowing what was going to happen.  I was heartbroken knowing that the firemen I saw on the screen probably did not make it out of the buildings alive.  I could feel the panic among all the people filming & watching the first tower & then the pandemonium that erupted when the second plane flew into the second tower.  At first there was the unknown question of why is one of the towers was on fire.  Paper everywhere, shrapnel coming off the building; billows of smoke; fire; people jumping....  I remember when I heard someone on tv say there were people jumping, my heart dropped.  Then you see it, the second plane coming in & directly smash into the building.  I saw it happen on tv.  I thought I was dreaming.

For her history class, Elizabeth had to ask me questions about that day.  How am I supposed to pinpoint just one thing?  Because I can't.  Can anyone who is old enough to remember that day just choose one thing that defines that day?  There is one image that I think of immediately as how we as a country felt that day.  I have scoured the internet looking for it, but can't find it.  It is an American woman who was in England on 9/11.  Someone hung a US flag from a tree & you see her holding the flag to her face & weeping into it.  When I think of that day, I think of how we all mourned as a country, no matter where you were.  I noticed there was no looting that day.  There was no added violence outside of the 4 terrorist attacks that I remember.  There was a singularity of being and purpose.  We were Americans & we stand together.


For the year of 2001, our country lived 525498 minutes, because we died a little that day.  102 minutes, that's it.  4 planes, 2 skyscrapers, 1 government building, 1 field in Pennsylvania.  102 minutes that have defined us for 13 years.  It's time for us to remember why we were crushed that day.  We need to say 'No More' to the terrorists that brought this to our doorstep.  It's time for the sleeping giant to awaken, and we need to be the America we were on 9/11/2001.

Celebrating Life & living in the great country in the world,
~ashley