Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Sunny Day In January

You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for the positive feedback on the last post. I really feared I might lose some people but I just checked the numbers on Google Reader and Blogger and you all stayed with me! Good stuff. It was neat to see how many of you agree that you blog for yourselves (& family) rather than for others.

I spent this week in West Palm Beach for a work trip and will write more about that later.... or maybe I won't. In short, I learned more about policy and statistical reporting and had a FANTASTIC time with two of my co-workers.

Today was absolutely gorgeous and I begged Michael to let me take pictures of him. I know it was on the very bottom of his "How I love to spend my weekends" list but he politely agreed and was a great model. He did request a treat so we went through the McDonalds drive-through and got an ice cream cone for his efforts. He's a cheap date, what can I say.

So here are way too many pictures of Mr. Michael Haynes. I'm quite positive you won't enjoy them nearly as much as I do but that's alright.

Sidenote: As I mentioned in a previous post, I took 230 pictures today. Below are the ones I found acceptable. You do the math. It's a struggle for me when it is super bright outside (as it was today). Being in the shade is necessary but the color isn't nearly as bright. I decreased the saturation on a lot of these so they wouldn't look so blue.

This was his favorite:

The sunglasses were an absolute necessity during the times we weren't in the shade.

Michael thinks he looks a little "vacant" in this picture, but I love it because you can actually see his eyes.

I love this one. Genuine smile. I must have said something hilarious. :)

Before I took this one I actually said, "Open your eyes as wide as you can."

I think I hugged him after I took this shot.

I believe this was picture #215. Can't blame the guy.

Again, I must be hilarious...

And I'll end with a shot of the two of us...

And now I'm off to update his Facebook profile picture. Because that's what crazy wives do.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blog Thoughts About... Blogs

Recently, I've had some conflicting thoughts with my dear old blog. I sincerely hope the next few paragraphs don't offend you, but it's something that's been weighing on my mind.

I wrote my first blog post on June 12, 2007. At that time there were plenty of blogs but I didn't know many and I read very few. I didn't tell anyone about my blog at first, mostly because I looked at it as an online journal for Michael and myself. I eventually told my parents and then a few friends. Two years later, I quietly added it to my Facebook page.

In 3.5 years, I've written 305 posts. Some weeks I write four posts and some months I write four posts. There is no pattern, no rhyme or reason. I write when I want, about what I want, and it suits me just fine.


About two years ago I had acquaintances tell me they read my blog. I had mothers of my friends tell me they read my blog. And suddenly, I had followers that I'd never met. It was a bizarre feeling, but I would be lying if I said it didn't feel nice. No, it felt great. From the time I learned to read, I've loved to write. And to hear that others enjoyed my writing was thrilling.

With this news came big responsibility. In the beginning I would click "new post" and just write. I didn't edit myself, didn't worry about offending anyone, didn't think twice about whether or not the topic was interesting. But now? Now I had an audience to please.

I hated it. I put myself under this ridiculous amount of pressure, when what had brought them to my blog in the first place was my lack of editing. And so I shrugged and went back to what I knew best: writing as myself and for myself. If people liked it, well that was just icing on the cake.

My dad has told me numerous times to put ads on my blog and really promote it so I can retire in a glorious beach town and spend my days drinking fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas (ok, he never mentioned anything past "so I can retire"). But those of you that blog know that there are steps to becoming a big-time blogger. A few options are:

1. Comment the crap out of other blogs
2. Write reviews, how-to's, how-not-to's, etc.
3. Giveaways!

I. Can't. Do it. I read a ton of blogs, but regardless of how popular you are, if I don't connect with you for some reason or another, I just click away. (As a sidenote--I'm a terrible commenter for blogs I love. I need to work on this.) The closest thing to a "how to" was my recent photography post and that was exhausting. And I'm not sure Michael would be cool with me buying things and saying, "I'm going to mail this to a complete stranger because they added me as a friend 15 different ways!"

This is where I tell you that this is a personal decision and I do not, nor will I ever, judge what you do. If I'm being completely honest, I would be over the moon if I had 10,000 followers and this blog was a source of income. But if that were ever to happen, it'd be because those 10,000 people connected with me through my life and my writing, which are both a (wait for it...) work in progress.

I am so grateful to those of you who do read my blog and stayed with me while other blogs blew up. If you're a follower, I know it's because you care about my family. Or maybe it's because you're too lazy to remove me from your Google reader, and that's fine too. One of my favorite things about the blogging world is the overwhelming support people give one another. It's quite humbling but also such an inspiration to me. I hope at least one of my posts has inspired you, even if (or especially if) it's buying a fat cat to spoil. Bonus points if s/he has extra phalanges.

I guess what I'm trying to say is if I lost all readers I'd continue to write, because at its core, this blog is for me.

But I sure would miss you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sick Day(s)

Michael and I were attacked by one of the following:

1) The Flu
2) Food Poisoning
3) Sickle Cell Anemia (Lame attempt at humor)
4) Ebola virus (This is the front-runner...)

It was definitely one of the four. It hit me Sunday night, right after Ricky Gervais made his 17th "Holy cow did he just say that?!" remark, which had us laughing hysterically whilst burying our heads in couch pillows due to the excruciating awkwardness. Michael made it until the middle of the night before his body decided to join in on the fun.

The saddest part of this sob story: The last thing I ate before I got sick was a Sprinkles cupcake. I'm not sure I will ever be able to look at one again. Damn you, red velvet...

Anywho, Michael and I spent Monday and Tuesday in bed, commiserating together over our poor luck. I pathetically saluted MLKJ's dream in between my own dreams. We realized last night that we actually slept more than Thumbs. I rocked an awesome hairdo that would make Marge Simpson jealous. Michael managed to remove his retainer a mere second before upchucking. My stomach, back, neck, and EYEBALLS hurt from ralphing so much. I distinctly remember telling myself at 3am that no matter how cold/good the toilet felt, it was not a good idea to rest my head on it. I refuse to admit whether or not I listened to that voice.


We both went back to work today and by 9:30 were emailing one another asking if it was time to go home yet. We clung to our caffeine-free drinks and saltine crackers and by this evening found something we'd lost for days: our appetites.

The only upside to this tragic tale? My pants were huge on me this morning. I realize this moment will last exactly 37 seconds but I'll take it.

*HUGE thanks to Michael's parents for bringing us Sierra Mist and Saltines. I don't care how old you are, when you're sick you just want your parents. From the bottom of our hearts and empty stomachs, we are so grateful.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You Asked...

I hate the expression, "Don't beat a dead horse in the mouth" because, well, ew. However, a lot of people have emailed over the last few weeks and asked about my camera and why I chose it.

Music to my ears, people.

Now that I know exactly one percent about my camera, I really enjoy talking about it with others who are curious. For those who are not at all interested in the discussion, skip to the bottom and just look at the pictures. And if you're not even interested in the pictures, why are you reading my blog? Rude.

Just kidding.

I wish I could take credit for the camera we own, but it was the Mister who actually did the research and bought it. This article was what sealed the deal for him. There's the original debate of Canon vs. Nikon (a few people swear by Olympus but popularity wise, the other two blow it out of the water). We have a Canon point-and-shoot and love it so this was an easy choice. Once you've decided on the brand it's all about the camera. We wanted HD video so that meant the Rebel XS was out. It was between the T1i (which recently replaced the XSi) and the T2i. The T2i was pricier but had higher megapixels and image resolution. My advice is go to Best Buy's website and compare cameras. If you're not familiar with camera lingo some of the descriptions will mean nothing to you, but you can always do additional research to find out what they're talking about. There are tons of choices and plenty that are far nicer and/or more expensive than ours, but I can only tell you about the cameras we considered.

I'll save lenses for another day but another question some have asked is what editing software I use. Honestly, I rarely edit the pictures. It's not that I don't believe in it, blah blah blah, but I don't know much about it and haven't had the chance to learn. We have a Mac and I use iPhoto when I want to change the levels (saturation, etc.) but for the most part I just leave it alone until I can actually learn how to do it. A lot of people love Adobe Lightroom, and I would too if it weren't for the price. I'm starting to understand why photographers charge so much. :)

Two more things. The first is you have to practice. A lot. No one gets better by using their camera once a month. I have taken thousands of pictures since we got the camera and if I don't like them, I delete them. I'll take 10 different pictures of the exact same thing and only one will end up looking decent. Sometimes not even one. And that's ok. The other thing I'll mention is GET OFF AUTO. I know it's super easy and you don't have time, but I promise your life will change when you are shooting in manual (shooting manual? I don't know). The good news is you don't have to go straight to manual (although that's what my friend/teacher told me to do and I learned the basics so much faster). If that's too much, shoot AV, which is aperture priority. It lets you determine what part of your picture (and to what extent) is in focus, but the camera still decides the shutter speed. Also, do some research on white balance and ISO--you'll be amazed at how much better your pictures are once you understand how to use those features!

Ok--I'm done. For those of you who emailed me, I hope this answers your questions! Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last few months. I think I've improved but I typically like 1 out of every 50 pictures I take. However! Whether or not I like the picture, I LOVE taking it. And that's all that matters. :)

Category: Non-People

(We bought this wine for our 3-year anniversary!) :)

This leaf cracked me up.

Category: People (Or Close Enough...)

Crash Davis

Owen was the subject of my first ever "photoshoot"

You can see us in the reflection! :)

Leslie asked if I'd take a few pictures of her family over Thanksgiving. I had so much fun!

(This was one of the photos I edited...)

Loved, loved, loved the lighting this day. Early morning in November, partly cloudy. Gorgeous. These are my co-workers who've taught me everything I know about photography.

Age 2: The absolute hardest age to photograph. But quite possibly the cutest!

Here's a few pictures that I (obviously) didn't take but were taken using my fantastic tripod from Justin and Michelle! Merry Christmas me!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Thanks to Google Analytics, I've learned that someone found my blog by typing in the following statement:

"you dont wana play nice? then you can kiss the goodgirl in me goodbye! i wasted to much time waiting on you to treat me right.. so ima take this problem to the club put your favourite dress on when i see you i wont pay any attention, ima find another boy and as he leads me to the dancefloor… baby ima walk all over you heart like you did to mine."

I'm so confused. For the love of all that is holy, please tell me that this "goodgirl" and I have nothing in common. Sidenote: I'd hate to have to diagram her sentence.

Ima eat a cupcake and think about this for awhile...

Sunday, January 2, 2011


When I think about who I am and who I want to be, there is one particular area that really needs work: my attitude.

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, but as I typed that statement I rolled my eyes and added a certain obscenity before the word "reason." I've been dealt a lot of crappy cards but I've also been immensely blessed. And while it's easy to find the joys, it's even easier to focus on the frustrations, the headaches, and the road blocks.

My goal for this year is to find the silver lining in the thunderclouds. This is not to say I'm going to become Perky Merd because that's just not me. (Plus, excessively perky people annoy me. Aaaand there's the attitude.) :)

A perfect example: Michael and I are in the final stages of preparing our 2011 budget. After writing down each of the trips we're planning to take, I commented on how much money we're going to spend on airfare. I believe my exact words were: "How the hell are we supposed to save so much money if we're spending this much on travel?"

And then it hit me. How lucky are we to have friends and family to visit at all? It's not like once we reach each destination we're going to be miserable. No, we're going to be surrounded by those we love, having a ton of fun all over the country. Boo freaking hoo, Merd.

So my dear blog friends, my promise to you is to work on my attitude in 2011. I'm still allowed to be my self-deprecating, sarcastic self, but I'm also going to choose my battles carefully when it comes to pitching a fit.

On that note, I'm off to sign up for every single awards program airlines have to offer. If I'm going to be flying amidst the silver-lined clouds, I might as well get credit for it.

Cheers to 2011. And exit row seating.


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