October it one of my favorite month’s of the year, if not my FAVE. I mean who doesn’t love layers of clothes, sweatshirts, pumpkins, changing leaves, hot cocoa, soccer games, jumping in leaves (okay maybe not the raking to get the leaf pike) but you get my drift. Just something about the crisp air that makes everything awesome – oh and I was married in October so that’s pretty cool right?? This year we’ll be celebrating 11 years – WTF?? That went fast!!
So it also happens to be one of the busiest months – ALWAYS not just this year – but ALWYAS. So I took a quick glimpse of my calendar and kind of laughed and quickly closed it. But then I opened it again and took a deep breath, paused and smiled. It’s a good busy, it’s a happy busy!
So here’s a little peek into my October:
8 soccer practices
4 baseball practices
8 soccer games
8 baseball games
one Halloween Party
Two days of no-school
2 costume parades at school
2 parties at school
Lunch date with my old co-workers (which had to be scheduled months in advance)
Room Parent for both my kids – so may have impromptu meetings/party planning
Two family photo sessions
Two engagement sessions
Two Weddings to photograph
Four Wedding Consults for 2015
Oh and Trick or Treating!! Stryder is undecided so far – he wants to be something scary but not too scary….Berkeley is going to be Frankie Stein – a girl from Monster High.
The results are in – I’m slow and look ridiculous….but at least I’m laughing sort of! Okay so if you follow me you know that a little over a month ago I competed in a Spartan race. The Spartan Sprint up in Tuxedo New York. It was no lie, one of the hardest things I have ever done – like giving birth – but harder and more tiring. It took about 90 minutes to get to the place and then I started seeing these awesome signs finally so I knew I was in the right place.
I made my way up to registration and got my swag bag, actually it was an envelope, but it had my bib number, timing chip and headband to wear the entire race. Then I made my way to the spot where they take a sharpie and mark your arm, forehead, chest or whatever body part you choose with your bib #…I chose my arm thank you…and yes there is still some remnants of it the 8045 on there! Hoping another day or two it will come off. Now at this point it’s super official, and there’s no turning back now. Of course I never was going to turn back, I was into it for the long haul.
Next was the bag drop off point, the penalty for getting stuff out of your bag before your race once you checked it was 7 burpees…I promised I was good I didn’t need anything else out of it! These Spartan races take their burpees seriously 🙂
I made my way to the start line and started to get really nervous, but then I just tried to calm myself down and just have fun, get through it and ‘Let it Go’ channeling my inner Disney at this point…….
They call the 10:45 heat and they shove us into the chute but before we get to the starting line we have to all go over this wall (walls, ugh more to come on these later) and this is where I get my first injury, seriously, before the race even started – LOL! I smashed it on the corner of the wall while trying to hoist my leg over it – only me! I was able to shake it off and forget about it once the race started.
Basically we had to run up the ski mountain and do some obstacles then run down the ski mountain and do some obstacles and do that 6 times! Of course we worked our way across several mountains and woods, some were the actual ski slopes, but for the most part they were very off-road, steep and tedious. Now the obstacles ranged from walls – my kryptonite – literally I sucked at the walls, thank god I hooked up with the awesome Chris and Mario – they literally helped my big butt over every wall – to lifting and carrying a 65lb. ball of steel, dragging a rock through the woods, carrying a log through the woods, carrying a sandbag, a military crawl under barbed wire uphill, rope climb through mud, monkey bars, spear throwing and the elusive fire jump! I’m happy to say that I attempted all of the challenges. I did not however, complete all of the changes, and that is okay. I had a lot of help with some of the obstacles, and they actually encouraged that. They said right before we started that we could help each other out. It was really exciting to see the mile markers, what wasn’t exciting was I thought that it was a 5K, or 3.2 miles….but what I realized was that it was about 4.7 miles once I had already started!! Oooops!
The day was really hot and the hills were super dusty which translated to slippery. Then once we went into the mud obstacles, everything became super gooey, sticky and even more slippery. But I have to say once I fell off the monkey bars into the mud pit, it felt awesome, minus it going up my nose and into my ears. It really cooled me off. I did have an awesome time, and the beer after was fabulous, except after a few sips I wanted to puke! And the drive home sucked because it was just me. But now I get to call myself a Spartan and you can laugh at these awesome photos that the Official Spartan Photographers captured of me 😉
Our family rotates holidays, I choose Easter because it is easy, we have a big yard for the egg hunt and you can’t mess up ham. Well yesterday went a little less smooth. The kids were up early, like hours earlier than usual, we’re talking 5am, Berkeley busted into our room saying Trick or Treat, look what the Easter Bunny left me!
Fast forward to an hour later my husband and I furiously cleaning/vacuuming and mopping our house (because the day of a holiday is the perfect time to mop)! The day before we couldn’t do much cleaning we had two soccer games and a 2+ hour baseball game plus I had neglected to go to the grocery store all week due to school vacation week! I avoid the grocery store at all costs when my kids are around, it is just so much easier without them. However, that being said it was an absolute nightmare the day before a holiday, what was I thinking!!!
Okay back on track here, so I was able to at least shower and then get dressed quickly guests were arriving around 11:30, perfect timing until I realized I hadn’t yet put the ham in the over or even calculated how long it takes to cook (aka warm up) the ham. Oops yeah 18 pounds of ham is like 3.5+ hours, yeah so it was pretty much down hill from there.
From the kids seeing daddy and Uncle Jay ‘hiding’ the eggs and thinking there is no Easter Bunny to my oven getting to hot and locking me out of it; to my son not wanting to share any of his toys, to my son eating 5 cookies and asking for a cake pop every 5 minutes of the day, dinner being served two hours late, it was Epic alright, an epic fail!
We we at least recovered the no Easter Bunny part by saying the Easter Bunny was really tired and left the eggs in a dangerous part of our really big circle driveway and they had to be moved to the ‘safe’ part of our yard and counted so we knew how many each kid could get 😉 Oh yeah, lots of lies folks…..
Anyway, here are the few photos that I did manage to capture, I don’t think any of the kids are actually looking at the camera at the same time…..
For nine days I took a journey to the Napo Region of Ecuador as part of a team put together by an amazing photographer Alicia Daw. Simply Love 2014, was a group of individuals from all over the country who volunteered to work at Casa Feliz an orphanage run by an organization called Bless an Orphan.
It is really hard to put into words all the things that I encountered in the nine days I was gone, the ups, the downs, the highs and lows, the emotional moments (yes there were many), self realizations and just pure fun. The stories of the 17 children that live at Casa Feliz are so heart-wrenching, it is purely gruesome to hear how awful these children have been treated by their family members lives, but so beautiful to see their smiles and how happy they are now because of the love they have from the generous souls who help make Casa Feliz such a loving environment.
I have wanted to do a mission trip for a while, but as many things go, life kind of gets in the way of things like that. But coming off the heels of 2013, one of the worst years for me ever, the stars aligned and everything seemed to fall into place. I needed to know that there was some good in this world and that I could experience it first hand.
I don’t want to say that it was a soul searching mission for me, but I definitely learned a lot about myself during this trip. Living with 13 complete strangers will definitely help you figure out a lot about yourself rather quickly – LOL.
I feel like I’ve come back with a newer, fresher perspective on life and can really focus better on what is important in life:
I’m not going to beat myself up so much. When I’m presented with a challenge I will take a step back and figure out how to handle it, we’re talking baby steps people; not blowing everything out of proportion…just simply looking at new ways to handle things rather than getting down on myself;
Being more truthful with myself and others. I’m not going to filter so much more of my thoughts, so look out, I’m going to be more honest, it may backfire, but I’m tired of hiding my feelings inside ( “You hear my voice, you hear that sound Like thunder gonna shake the ground.”- Katy Perry Roar – yes I love this song 🙂
I know I can’t change the world, and a lot of circumstances are way beyond my control, I can’t change the past. I realize that. I have to let fate or ‘whatever’ let things be. What I can change is myself and focus on the way I project my own thoughts and feelings onto people and events. I am going to try really hard to let that happen this year.
This year I will learn to accept what I cannot change – whew this is a BIG one for me. And by big I mean hard! I am going to have to remind myself of this everyday and take big deep breaths and really, really, REALLY try hard to do this.
Life is too short – I want to live it to the fullest with my family and enjoy all the moments we can together.
While I was only there for a short period of time I think that I was able to make a little bit of a difference. I participated in projects at the orphanage including organizing all the donations we brought down there (thank you to all those that donated); organized the storage room; helped paint an outdoor chalkboard wall for the children; made corn hole and beanbag toss games; assembled a checkerboard tile area outside for the children; and put on a carnival in a jungle village (pie in the face – that was my station)! I also hope that I helped bring a few smiles to some of the children while I was there, because they certainly brought some smiles to my face.
I cannot say enough about the staff and volunteers of Casa Feliz and Bless an Orphan; they are amazing people who give up their entire lives and move thousands of miles away from their friends and families to help put smiles on these children faces everyday they truly are warriors. And the kids….they are the true warriors after having been through abuse, delinquency, corruption, neglect and worse, they are still smiling and happy to be alive and in a loving environment. This was my first time doing something like this and it certainly won’t be my last.
Now I’m a warrior, I’ve got thicker skin, I’m a warrior I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, – Demi Lovato
Well, 2014 started and it is my first full week of the kids having school and me being 100% motivated to kick 2014 in the um, let’s say face! And what do you know….no house phone, no internet! What??? Of course that happens! I can’t even use my cell phone because those of you who know where I live, Easton…yes that’s in Connecticut! It is in the woods, country land and there is one spot on my driveway that I have cell service, and um if you haven’t checked the weather lately, it’s was a a monsoon yesterday and today it is 6 degrees outside…so cross that spot off the list of my productivity places!
So um yea, instead I went grocery shopping, yeah favorite thing ever…NOT. Except that I have started listening to Pandora with my earbuds to make it more enjoyable and it definitely is (especially without the kids there requesting everything or throwing things in the cart without me knowing). Only downside is when I start belting out the chorus to some songs while picking out my yogurt – LOL
So I guess today was really an unplugged day when you think about it – literally unplugging the modem, plugging it back in, unplugging it, plugging it back in. Saying a little prayer or two hoping it would turn back on! Never happening. So instead of this long list of things I had hoped to accomplish – I bleached the master bath – woo hoo, did some ninja kicks on the cable wires in the basement, created something for dinner in the crockpot…who knows what that will taste like and created a really long to do list for January…….
So I’m heading South…That’s right to South America, to Tena, Ecuador. Yikes! I’m wicked excited; and at the same time a little nervous. I’m going on a mission trip (Simply Love) with complete strangers (except for the organizer, Alicia from No Eye Has Seen Photography), to work for this amazing organization, Bless an Orphan. We will be staying at the orphanage working with the children and doing minor construction projects. We will also be delivering food and clothing to local villages and installing a water well in one village which will give them access to clean water – a major milestone.
I think the most anxiety I’m having right now is that my husband, who normally travels and leaves me home with the kids for weeks/months on end; has so graciously taken time off of work to take care of the kids SOLO. I’m not sure how this is going to work. Considering he doesn’t know where any of their things are – the only good thing is it is school vacation week! So he can’t mess up that bad…..or can he???
What I’m most looking forward to? Rolling up my sleeves and get dirty. I’ve never done something like this, sure I’ve done Habitat for Humanity while in college, but nothing quite like this. I can’t wait to see all the little smiling faces of the children we help, truly make a difference. Show my children that this is something they should be doing. And maybe one day the four of us can do something like this together.
Those of you who know me, know that when it comes time for costumes for the Hanson clan, the kids have to match or at least have the same ‘theme.” One year we did pirates, one year Spiderman and SpiderGirl, another year Power Rangers…the only exception was one year we did a Swamp Monster and a Devil just because the Swamp Monster costume was AMAZING and the devil costume was too cute.
So this year when Stryder said he wanted to be a Vampire (no blood – LONG story) and Berkeley originally said she did too – I was like sweet! This is easy. Then of course she changed her mind. So we searched online for hours and hours and finally found something that was suitable – Baterina – Aka Bat Princess
Which totes works because Vampires turn into bats……..
No, not the TV show, in fact I’ve never even watched The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead refers to what my husband called me as I mustered up enough energy to crawl myself out of bed, stumble down the ridiculously long hallway and stagger into the kitchen and grab some orange juice this morning after being sick for the last three days. The Walking Dead he called me, the kids just sort of looked at me and said mommy why don’t you go back to bed daddy’s got this. However clearly daddy didn’t get this. With today being Halloween parade day at school and party day, there were clear definitions of what could and couldn’t be worn/done at school. I had everything labeled ready to go, the night before. Kids and I had multiple conversations on what they were doing, wearing, carrying on the bus, etc.
Well of course no one listened. As I barely made it back down our lengthy hallway and back into bed chugging the orange juice, apparently as a zombie, I was interrupted at least seven times with questions on what Miss B was wearing and what her costume was again. Because she couldn’t wear her “real Halloween” costume to school (mommy’s orders) she is too much of a hot mess and I knew it was going to get chocolate or dirt or something spilled all over it and be a disgusting mess for real Halloween tonight and even if I felt 1000% I wasn’t going to wash a Halloween costume…no thanks. Two minutes before they had to walk down to the bus, Stryder asks me if he can get his costume over his ridiculously thick sweat shirt that he is wearing, I tell him no way. So I tell him to go and get a long-sleeve shirt on. I’m not sure how these kids made it on the bus…however I give up trying to go back to bed and decide to go and take a shower because it has been a few (okay 3) days since I have taken a shower…so I guess I may have looked like this…
Which I thoroughly have to disagree with…the kids would’ve bolted out the door
But really I think I looked more like this….
Ironically though, they did leave every light on in the house and the TV on…something my husband does get quite annoyed at for me if that happens (which it NEVER does)….
I know it has been a while since I blogged, but that means I’m busy right? Sure, let’s go with that 🙂 Really I have been busy, three hair colors right? Let’s see I started with a reddish/brown hair color, then went blonde so I could go blue, then the blue faded really fast then I kept the blonde and the summer at the beach made it a nice blonde (according to my husband) then I got sick of that and went to a walnut blonde (which now is just gross) so it will soon be another yet to be named color.
So here I am 9 months after making the decision to go full-time into this crazy world of photography. Do I have any regrets? No, not yet? I’m loving my freedom, from my psycho ex-boss, who get this….has been even more psychotic, but also get this…is gone in two days because her interim-ship (is that a word), is over in two days!! Her position is being replaced by an actual person that knows how to run a non-profit organization, WOW imagine that! Anyhow, since leaving those 9 months ago, the stress of that chaotic world, has caused me to refocus and loose 28 pounds, well not just the stress, I’m eating better and working out much more. But the stress of not seeing that let’s call her a witch because it’s Halloween time, is AMAZING!
Plus I’m doing what I LOVE!!! I have the freedom to be creative everyday. What’s not to love? I get to capture people at the most amazing times of their lives – getting married, creating families, sharing family moments – the list goes on. I don’t know everything about photography, don’t claim to be the best, but I am learning, striving to be the best that I can and trying everyday to succeed.