Fire Captain Matt

Ever think about what makes a hero? I mean, really think about it? I realize that sounds like a topic for a first grader’s English paper, but I asked myself this question today. My first answer was “um, Brad Pitt?”. He’s handsome, he’s rich and charitable… that makes him a hero, right? Yeah, in Hollywood. I decided to look up the definition of the word “hero” and found this: a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength. You know what that sounds like to me? A firefighter. House on fire? A firefighter is courageous enough to run into the burning building to save you. Cat stuck in a tree? A firefighter is noble enough to climb the tree and bring your kitty to safety. The entire state burning in a series of wildfires? A firefighter is strong enough to work endless hours in searing heat to protect the lives of people they have never even met.

Today I had the pleasure of attending the Roseville Fire Department’s Badge Ceremony. Fourteen men received their badges, either as new members of the fire department or as promotions. I was invited by my good friend Marsha. If you follow my blog and you ever read the comments, chances are Marsha wrote one of them. Besides my sister and my husband, Marsha is my most loyal reader. Today, her signifiant other, Matt, was promoted to Fire Captain. There were several elements of this ceremony that made it really special. First, Matt’s dad, Ozzie, pinned Matt’s new badge on his son. And second, four of the fourteen men honored today went through the Academy together. It was an amazing experience to sit amongst these men, this family, to celebrate such a incredible accomplishment.

Without further adieu, here are some images from the ceremony today:

The badges

 

Here are the fourteen badges that were presented today: one Division Chief, one Battalion Chief, four Fire Captains, four Fire Engineers and four Firefighter/Paramedics.

The Fire Chief

 

While the Fire Chief spoke as to the accomplishments of these men, I couldn’t help but notice the sleeves on his uniform. I don’t know what all of those stripes and stars signify, but it looks pretty impressive to me.

Marsha and Matt

 

Here’s a quick glimpse of Marsha and Matt before the ceremony. The theater was really dark but I just love the spotlight effect going on.

Marsha and Matt

 

Here they are, a little bit closer now. Aren’t they adorable? Oh my goodness, I just love these two…

The courageous, noble and strong Engineer Matt

 

During the ceremony

 

After some very nice speeches by some very important people, it was time for each firefighter to receive his badge. Each man chose a person to pin the badge upon his chest. Matt chose his father, Ozzie, who is also a firefighter with the Roseville Fire Department. I wish that I had words eloquent enough to describe to you what a proud and emotional moment this was. Hopefully, these next photos will show you:

Matt receiving his badge from his father

 

Ozzie pinning the badge

 

Congratulations Captain

 

After I took these photos, I heard a little sniff coming from Marsha. Thank goodness I didn’t look at her until after I got these shots or else I would have burst into tears, which makes it a little difficult to focus the camera.

After the ceremony everyone got together for some photo ops. Here are a few of my favorites:

Father and son

 

Academy brothers

 

One big family

 

Marsha and Captain Matt

 

The Captain

 

The Captain, with flare

 

This last picture, while flawed with unsightly lens flare, makes me smile. Matt has an expression of happiness and pride, mixed with a little sense of relief. 

Matt, congratulations on your accomplishment. Your future is so bright and I am certain there will be more promotions ahead. Here’s to many more years of courageous, noble and strong service. 

Brad Pitt ain’t got nothin’ on you.

Super Gage

Remember that Superman song by REM? I can’t help but sing it out loud as I look through these pictures of Gage:

I am.......................................................I am............................................I am Superman

 

and I can do anything

“I love Vegas”

I have just returned from the Western States Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. Four days of learning about all things veterinary. Four nights of eating at delicious restaurants followed by window shopping the impossibly hip, hopelessly expensive couture boutiques. My roommate and I had a blast, but boy am I exhausted! Would you like to see some of our adventures?

First, we stayed at the Luxor hotel. All I can say about it was that it was cheap…

King Tut

 

We visited my favorite “old” hotel, Bellagio:

Bellagio hotel

 

Fountains at the Bellagio

 

If you haven’t seen it, the Fountains are pretty cool. Every 15 minutes, a water show choreographed to music, explodes from the lake in front of the Bellagio hotel. The show above was to the song “All That Jazz” and was quite saucy. When the big fountains fire off, it sounds like a thunder storm as water shoots high into the air:

More Bellagio Fountains

 

While on our evening jaunt, we discovered the brand new (and consequently my favorite) hotel, Aria. I can’t remember what hotel used to be located here, but it has been replaced by a futuristic wonderland. 

The Aria and Crystal Shopping Center

 

Not only are the buildings sleek and beautiful, so are the people. The Aria is located near the Crystal Shopping Center in Las Vegas, a luxury shopping experience. I did not shop in there. I don’t fulfill the prerequisites which include, but are not limited to, a) being a size 00, b) possessing an American Express Black Card and c) speaking an ultra chic foreign language. Even though I could not purchase anything, it was nice to look around and pretend that I was one of the beautiful people. Sigh.

Kristine did make a purchase while at the Aria. She is quite the foodie and was on her own personal Patisserie tour of Vegas. We stopped at Jean Phillipe and my friend, the self proclaimed food snob, picked out a few delicious treats.  Look at this fabulous place:

Kristine at Jean Phillipe

 

Would you look at my proud little friend? She is holding a bag full of sinfully delicious treats. I am still basking in the glow of the raspberry macaroon that she selected. 

Here are some more random images from my trip:

The strip from Sushi Roku

 

Some haute couture - Carolina Herrera and Roberto Cavalli

 

Funky decor at Crystal

 

While I enjoyed learning and window shopping, I missed my family. I planned ahead and took a picture of each of my girls before I left, just so I could remember what they looked like.

Chloe

 

Ella

 

Whenever I was homesick, I picked up my camera and stared at these two photos. Gary sent me the occasional photo from his Blackberry, just to prove that he and the grandparents hadn’t neglected them too badly.

I can remember a time in my life when I thought happiness and personal fulfillment came from material things. While I was walking amongst all of the beautiful clothes and shoes and buildings, all I could think about was my family at home. And how no pair of Jimmy Choos or diamonds from Tiffany could bring me the joy that my family does. I may not be able to afford all of those beautiful things, which is okay. Because my family is priceless. 

 

Blockhead’s Family Photo

If you follow my blog, you know that I am hugely fond of my dear friends Mel and JT. Their most handsome son, Gage, is Ella’s husband. Well, not officially… yet. 

Anyhow, JT’s sister, Valli, and her two kids are visiting this weekend from Southern California (Grandma is also in town). Mel asked if I would take some family photos as they don’t have much more than some casual shots taken with a point and shoot camera. Of course I said yes. I owe Mel and JT photos for life because a) they are awesome b) they were my first photo shoot ever and c) JT put Pinecone back together. And then Mel goes and tells me that Valli’s husband is serving in Iraq. Oh, goodness… talk about turning on my waterworks! While I am not vocal about it, I am hugely patriotic. I have tremendous respect for our men and women in uniform, my husband included (go Old Ironsides). To photograph this family today was amazing beyond words. Because I know that it will be appreciated by a daddy who is another world away. So Blockhead, if you are able to read this in Iraq, I was proud to meet your family today. They are beautiful inside and out and are such a joy to be around. I hope that the next couple of months go quickly so you you may be reunited with your family soon.

Without further adieu, here are Valli, Battle and Harper:

Battle and his worm

 

I will never understand boys and their worms. Battle managed to find this fat little fellow in the sand. Boys, boys, boys… And for as much as Battle is a boy, his sister Harper is a girl, girl, girl:

Princess Harper

 

Harper loves to play in dress up clothes. She was not inside our door more than 2 minutes before she stripped down to her undies and put on the first princess ensemble she laid eyes on. 

After some playing around inside, we moved to our backyard as the weather today was outstanding. I was able to catch a few shots of Valli playing with each of her kids. First, here she is with Harper, playing in the girls’ clubhouse:

Peek-a-boo!

 

OMG, how cute are they? Isn’t Valli gorgeous? No wonder Blockhead told Valli that she needs to send some pictures with her in it! And speaking of gorgeous, look at Miss Thang snuggling with Battle on our big rock:

Snuggles

 

After the kids ran the batteries out on the Barbie Jeep, we went for a walk to Oak Lake to play at the park. We stopped along the way to get a photo of the three together:

Blockhead's Beautiful Family

 

I have so, so, so many more photographs from today, and I wish that I could put them all up right now for you to see, Valli. I promise to get through with them as quickly as possible. Certainly before Blockhead gets home… And perhaps when Blockhead returns, we can all get together for a real family portrait.

Valli, Battle and Harper, have a great time in the snow tomorrow – I hope we didn’t tire you out too much today.

To Chris, be safe. And thank you.

Sneak Peek

This is a sneak peek on 2 levels. First level: some of the photos you are about to see will be featured in my new website, which hopefully will launch within the next month. Second, and most important, level: this is a sneak peek for the family of some adorable little chitlins I had the pleasure of spending today with. My friend Nicole asked if I could photograph her brand new niece, who was born last week. I was so excited I could hardly see straight! In addition to the beautiful baby Abby, I was able to photograph her brother and her cousin (Nicole’s daughter). OMG, I had SO MUCH FUN!!! Do I sound like a giddy little school girl or what? 

I took a gazillion photos today (I’m only slightly exaggerating) and I could not wait to start to go through all of them. Here are a few of my favorites from today.

First and foremost, meet the beautiful newborn Abigail:

Shhhhh

 

I forgot about how sleepy these little babies are. And how they have happy little dreams of milk and more milk:

Booby dreams

 

Barely a week old and the little girl is smiling already. Oh my, she is going to have daddy wrapped around her finger! Speaking of wrapping someone around her finger, check out big brother giving his sister some love:

Kisses

 

Oh my goodness, these two are so sweet together. Big brother Jack is just the most gentle little soul with his baby sister – I pity the fool who ever picks on Abby because big brother will most certainly be her protector. And holy cow… big brother is a handsome little man! I don’t photograph boys very often, and I was beyond thrilled to chase this cutie patootie around. He didn’t really give me the time of day and we had to resort to bribery in the form of cupcakes. Thank goodness for the cupcakes because my life would not be complete without these photos:

Big Brother Jack

 

Chillin' like a villain

 

Is this a good looking family or what? And so super sweet! The entire time we were photographing the newest member of the family, Jack and his cousin Kezia were playing with each other, having the best time. They are so lucky to be able to grow up with each other. I wish my girls were able to see their cousins regularly… oh, sigh. Would you like to meet the adorable cousin Kezia?

Love her!

 

Isn’t she beautiful? Of course her blonde hair and blue eyes are beautiful… but check out those cheeks! I just want to squeeze them they are so ridiculously cute! And a word of advice for everyone out there: look out because this little lady here will someday be ruler of the free world. Hilary and Sarah could use a few pointers from Miss Kezia.

One of the things that I just love about photographing babies and families is that I get to be a tiny part of their world for a few hours. And it is so super cool to see how each family has traditions unique to them. This family, for instance, has a few heirlooms that I was so happy to photograph. The first is the “baby ring”. This ring belonged to Abby’s father when he was a baby – isn’t it beautiful?

Baby's ring

 

It was just a tad difficult to get the ring on to little Abigail’s finger – babies love to clench their tiny little fists. After we were able to pry her hand open and place the ring on her finger, there was a distinct fear that it would fall off and become a choking hazard. No need to worry, there were plenty of adults on hand to monitor the whereabouts of the ring. Here is the tiny little heirloom on baby Abby:

Abby and her baby ring

 

There were also several handmade quilts that are a part of this family… one made just for Abby, one that belonged to Abby’s father when he was a baby. But the one that really made me swoon was a quilt sewn by Abby’s great(?) grandmother. I apologize if I have the incorrect quilter – I was so mesmerized by this vintage quilt that somehow the identity of it’s maker eludes me. I have several photos of the quilt itself, but here is one with baby Abby laying on the heirloom with her eyes wide open.

Abby and her vintage quilt

 

Nicole, thank you so much for inviting me to photograph your extended family today. It was such a pleasure and an honor to capture these wonderful children at such an amazing stage of their lives. Each day I am reminded of how fast time passes and how quickly our children grow. And how important it is to stop and enjoy it.