Monday, December 28, 2009

Battling the 'Bah Humbugs'

You know, I grew up thinking that Christmas was the best time of the year, and back then, it really was. Nowadays I'm the Mom, which means I am in charge of making sure Christmas happens for everyone within my circle of influence.

My husband used to be really terrible in the support department during the grueling Christmas marathon - he wouldn't do a blessed thing to help me stage Christmas at all. But he's learning (thanks to a wee bit of emotional terrorism and aversion therapy from the Christmas Nazi - aka me). This year, he put up lights, wrapped 42% of the presents, helped address Christmas cards and delivered a few gifts. Which all added up to about 6% of what needed to be done. But it was better than nothing and helped me be happier with him which takes away about 17% of my Christmas stress.

This year, not only did I have to provide presents for:

  • kids
  • hubby
  • my parents
  • his siblings
  • my siblings
  • my grandma
  • kid's school teachers (and librarian, secretary, etc.)
  • kid's sunday school teachers
  • friends in town
  • neighbors
  • Visiting Teaching ladies
  • Visiting Teaching companion
  • my colleague (thanks to name draw at work - only one)
  • hubby's colleagues (won't take my suggestion for name draw - so all 5)
  • Marty's Home Teaching families
  • our Home Teachers (actually haven't done that yet - rats!)
  • the "Aunties" who live in town
  • Bishop (cross referenced under friend category)
  • other counselor and members of the bishopric (also cross referenced under friend category)
  • kid's friends
  • etc, etc, etc,.... I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody
(besides the Christmas letter and cards)

.... but I also had lots and lots of photo clients who wanted Christmas family pictures. Which is great, it provided extra Christmas money and is always fun, but it also increased my to-do list by 62%, which decreased my total amount of sleep by 37% and my free time by 100%.

Needless to say, I'm very happy and relieved that Christmas is over and I can get back to my normal life which is always 100% full. And I've actually enjoyed the process of cleaning up, throwing out and putting away the last couple of days. I've always had a chronic aversion to housework, but it's amazing how appealing it can seem when you've not done it at all for several weeks and the mess is closing in on you.

My wise grandpa used to always say, "A change is as good as a rest." At least I've gotten up off my hiney and away from the mouse now that the marathon is over.

We did do a few "true meaning of Christmas" type things that really were nice. Marty and I sing in our ward choir and we really enjoyed learning and performing the wonderful music which was all centered around Christ. And a super special and talented lady in our town puts on a program called "Melody Miss" every Christmas which always helps me to lift and inspire me. She is a lady about 80 years old who has macular degeneration and can no longer read sheet music, but she's put on this program now for over 40 years and it's really amazing and almost makes the rest of the hassle worth while.

We also went to St. George a week before Christmas to finish up some last minute stuff and pick up my Christmas present (which I shopped for myself, of course). We picked up Aunt Sharon and took a little time to go by the temple and look at the nativity and beautiful lights. So that was nice and gave me a little "ah...." break among all the crazy.

This was the temple nativity and they also played a recording by President Hinkley talking about Christ and his role as Savior of the world.

I didn't have my big camera with me, but I do carry a little point and shoot around in my purse at all times for just such occasions, and it did a pretty good job.

The temple is always so beautful, but especially when it's lit up at night and with the colorful lights and Star of Bethlehem in the foreground.

All it takes to make a party for our kids is to have Aunt Sharon there....

We really did have a nice Christmas, but I so struggle with being a "bah humbug". I know that I need to keep working on that, because my poor family has to put up with me being overstressed, underslept, and 39% grumpier than I usually am.

I keep thinking that if I were more prepared it wouldn't be so bad. If I just started earlier....

This year I started in September - perhaps if I started in June?

Or maybe we should just cancel the commercialism all together. Hmmmmm, now that would be an enjoyable Christmas. For me, at least.

Tempting, very tempting.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hammy the Ham

My lovely and talented friend, Emily, has the cutest little boys. Her baby turned one recently and she asked me if I'd take some pictures of him. He's such a fun little guy and his nickname is Hammy. He has this soft, pretty red hair and it's always flying all over the place - Emily wanted to take his one year pictures before giving him a haircut - still laying down pretty good in this picture.

We went outside for the first several and his mom put him in the CUTEST coat. I just loved the colors and they made for such pretty pictures along with his rosy cheeks.

He does this tiger growl thing where he clenches his fists -- too funny. And he really likes his Mama....

Not that I blame him. She's pretty great.

We also got a few good ones of his big brother. This was my favorite...

His eyes are so big and pretty.

We really wanted to try to get a good one of the two of them together. We tried, we really did try...

(The hair's starting to look a little more Hammy-like by this time. Love it!.)

So Em, I hope this is what you had in mind. Enjoy your sneak peak, more later.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Beautiful Baby Bella

It's been a while since I've gotten to take baby photos. I have some new props, hats and fun stuff since last time, so I was excited to try them out today.

This pretty little girlie is 7 weeks old. She looked oh, so lovely in white fur and was smiling up a storm.

It was fun to play with a baby again after having a bit of a break from them. Her good looking parents were fun to shoot, too.

I also got to try out my new Christmas hat - - SO CUTE!!!

And her little feet were to die for.

She also looked pretty in the new green blanket that my friend, Nola, crocheted for me.

What a doll.

Thanks, guys, for letting me take these and spend time with you and your little sweetie today.

The Beauty of a Good Window & the Bonham Kids

This picture: the first one I ever took using natural light. I had my first digital camera - a 3 mp Sony Cybershot. I'd found an article in a scrapbook magazine about positioning your child near a window, turning off the flash and getting a natural light portrait. And I was happy with the result. Much happier than I'd ever been with my previous flash snapshots.

Thus began my interest in natural light portrait photography. I've come a long way with my photography since then, but I still haven't gone far from the window.

The other day, I took pictures of three cute kids who are the nieces and nephews of my friend and neighbor, Jill. And as it turns out, their dad is now our new insurance agent.

We'd had an appointment for several weeks, but it was kind of a rainy day, so we found a big window in Jill's house and had our shoot there.

And we got portraits like this...

and these...

I love the way natural light curves around faces and gives them texture and dimension. I love the way natural light makes catchlights in eyes. And you don't need a fancy camera to get this nice effect.

But you do need cute kids. Cute kids help A LOT.

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful...

When I sent the kids to school this morning, this was what I saw out my back door....

But that's okay, this is what I woke up to in my living room....

(I slowed down my shutter speed to capture the warm, coziness emanating from the fire - cool, huh!)

The kids are always cold when they get out of bed and love to wake up to a fire, so their daddy, knowing how much they love it, has been getting up and building a fire every morning for us lately. What a good guy. There's just nothing as nice on a wintry day as waking up to a warm little wood burning stove.

Ours is the smallest fireplace insert they make, which is fine by me. It's just big enough to warm our little house and it's not so big that Marty can bake us out. Perfect.

It's one of the things I'm really grateful for - having my little stove, living in an area where good firewood is extremely plentiful and having a husband who likes to get wood and will build fires.

And snow.

Even though I'm going to have to go out in it in a few minutes to feed 4 horses and break the ice out of their trough, we need the moisture so I'm grateful for the snow.


Oh, and just for the record, I CAN build a fire too, but for some reason, Marty's are just better.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Photo Session Contest Winner!

Hi Everybody,

I want to say thank you to everyone who entered my first little blog contest. I really appreciate all your nice comments and it was so interesting to learn about people's "beginnings, middles, and ends" preferences.

Just for the record, here are the results of the poll. (Some were more than one so I put them down for 2 catagories).

Beginnings: 4

Middles: 4

Ends: 2

Undecided or all three: 2

Now for the big winner - - Hannah! Yay, you have such a cute little family, I'm excited to photograph them. Let's get together anytime after Christmas. I'll get your # from Katie and give you a call or you can email me at

Thanks again, guys, for taking the time to enter. This was fun, I'll probably do it again sometime. I'm always looking for new victims.... er willing subjects to practice on.

And because no post is complete without a picture, here's one I took today of my little cow boy-man in his daddy's boots. (More of these to follow).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Annie's Beautiful Kids

My friend Linda, who is one of my long time horsie buddies and works with me, has the most gorgeous grandkids. I've always wanted to take their pictures and finally got to last weekend.

These are some seriously cute little people, but Mom and Dad are really going to have to watch out for this girl when she gets older. Her dad told me that he plans to keep a gun handy to scare off the boys. She's so pretty that I'm sure they could hire out as a model - and she's only 4 years old.

Wow, huh.

Big brother's going to be quite the heartbreaker too.

The shoot was short and sweet, but we got lots of good photos. I think this is my favorite:

Thanks for coming up, Annie. Next time, tell Tom to shave so we can get the whole family in on the fun! ;o)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends - win a free PHOTO SESSION

The Parelli Natural Horsemanship horse training program that I study is all about self improvement. There are many amazing parallels with being a successful horse trainer and being a successful and happy human being in general. By being dedicated students of the program, we learn to not blame the horse (or other people) and take personal responsibility when things aren't going well. We learn that horses (and kids) need equal doses of love, language and leadership. We learn that we need to become more emotionally fit in order to be good leaders (parents, spouses, friends).

In my study of this program, I've also learned that most people prefer either beginnings, middles, or ends.

  • A beginnings person thrives on change. They have lots of different hobbies, interests and talents. They get bored quickly and want to move onto something new, fun and more interesting. They are bored by routine and don't feel a real need to finish things.
  • A middles person doesn't like change or being pushed out of their comfort zone. They like repetition and are good at doing a few things very well. They are comforted by routine and aren't bored by repeating things they are good at doing.
  • An ends person likes the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing something - with getting a degree or completing a project. They are great at pushing through the boring middle to get to the end and see the job done.
This concept Is very interesting to me. I think it's important to learn about ourselves, be self aware, and find ways in which we can make our weak places become stronger.

My mom is good in all three areas. As a college professor, she's had to be. As a mom and wife and sole caregiver of an ill spouse, she's had to be. She's also someone who's quite balanced between right and left brain. It makes me realize that we aren't stuck with the weaknesses and personality imbalances that we are born with. We can learn and grow and develop ourselves.

The point of all this rambling is that I have discovered that I'm a beginnings person - BIG TIME.

I have way too many interests. I have dozens of half finished projects around my house and on my hard drive. I'm excited about the next shoot, the next trip, the latest and greatest ________ (most of the time). I do like to accomplish, but I really hate middles - dishes, laundry, endless hours of photo editing, yard work, etc.... But I'm better at all those things than I used to be, or at least my attitude is better. And I want to keep working on myself, I want to keep improving in all areas of my life.

And boy do I have a long, long way to go.


But here's the deal. I've been hearing from a lot of folks who say they read my blog but never comment. So I thought I'd try a little incentive to see who's out there. If you leave a comment on this post, you will be entered to win a random drawing for an (after Christmas) photo session with me.

To be entered, just let me know which you are - a beginnings person, a middles person, or and ends person. Or two, or all three, I'm just kinda curious to know.

If for some reason you have a problem leaving a comment, let me know by email -

Contest ends at midnight on December 5th, a week from now. I will post the name of the winner here on my blog.


And here are a few photos of my kids taken on Thanksgiving day. Love these guys!

We were down at a place called The Barracks where there's a tunnel that goes under the highway.

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Tis the Season to be Thankful!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. What a brilliant holiday! No gifts to buy, no major expense, just good food, a day off, and the opportunity to give thanks.

I was raised in a home with very little money. We had one older car that my parents shared, we each owned one pair of tennies and a pair of church shoes - sometimes a pair of sandals in the summer - usually 2 pair of jeans and a handful of shirts. We moved around a lot and lived in rentals and tiny student housing apartments for much of my formative years. But we certainly never went hungry, we were always clean and cared for and we had all our needs met. We knew we were loved.

We were poor compared to many of our school mates, but we were rich compared to the majority of the world. And I learned that you don't have to have money to be happy. I also learned (from my optimistic mother) that a huge part of being happy is feeling grateful for everything you do have. You don't have to look very far to find someone worse off than yourself.

My kids asked me one time why we weren't rich (they were about 7 and 5). I got a little bit upset at that and marched them into the back room to show them our freezer full of range-fed beef. I also talked to them about how we have our own home, horses, cars, bedrooms full of toys and everything we could possibly need. And to be always wanting more is to be ungrateful.

And ungrateful is something I never want my children to be.

For the most part, they are very unspoiled children. They are used to having modest Christmas' and they get very excited about very little. They always thank me profusely for every homecooked meal - not cooking every night tends to make them more grateful when I do. (It really works, you should try it sometime.) They're happy with hand-me-downs and no Nintendo. I'm proud of them.

And we are rich, definitely rich. It would take me days to list all my blessings and I love a holiday where we take the time to be appreciative. Here are just a few of the things I'm thankful for:

Him, definitely him. I really do have an exceptionally good husband.

And these 3 cute little buggers...What good kids they are.

All of these guys, and the rest of our extended family, you know who you are! I'm so thankful for all our wonderful family.

These 4 - especially the one on the right. That's Patty, she takes care of the kids.

And this sweet girl:

She was our wedding present from my old boss and she's almost 14, three years older than our oldest child and very much a part of the family.

All of my great friends close to home or far away - I love you guys!

The great place I work - man do I love my job and my co-workers!

And I had to specifically mention a few of my closest companions...

And for those of you who have wondered "What the heck is Parelli? and why did she name her blog that?" Here's a picture of my horse training mentors....

Pat and Linda Parelli. They rock! They're changing the world for horses - one human at a time.

I love this picture because it includes two things that I'm so very thankful for - my country and the temple. Many people in this world are not free to worship how they please, I'm so grateful for that freedom and for my religion.

And most importantly, my Savior. My soul aches with love and appreciation for Him and all that he did for me, for us all.

"I know that my Redeemer lives, what comfort this sweet sentence gives."

Gratitude equals happiness and I am one very happy person.

Thanks for listening. Happy Holidays!