Something to consider…

I love taking photos… LOVE LOVE LOVE taking photos! Mostly because I love the idea of stopping time, preserving a perfect moment so I will never forget every last detail. And the nice thing about taking the photos is that I am never in the photos. And as much as I hate to look at photos of me, I make certain to insert myself on occasion.

Take for instance my trip to visit my parents. My sister and her son were there, too. It was not easy getting 3 small children, around nap time, to be in one place at one time. But we managed. And 2 of 3 children were even looking at the camera!

The Blackmer family

And there is the day before Mother’s Day. I figured “hey! It’s my day, I should at least be in one photo with my family!”. I took about 10 different shots with my camera on my tripod, and I was critical of every single one. Of all those shots, this is the one I liked the best:

Me and my family

I posted it on my Nicole McArthur Photography page on Facebook and  received some very nice comments on it. But after reading a post on this photography blog, I ordered a print.

So I urge you: take some pictures of you with your family. Set your camera on a table and use the self-timer, hand your camera to a friend, or even a stranger… whatever the means, get a family picture. Six months, 12 months, 10 years from now… you’ll be glad you did!

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Apologies from a bad sister/aunt

I owe my sister and her son a huge apology. When visiting with my family last week, I wasn’t the most sociable person. As I initially reflected upon the visit, I blamed my hermit-like behavior on the fact that I was suffering from a severe case of mommy burnout. All the noise and activity associated with 3 small children was enough to put me on overload. I was content to let the grandparents monitor my kids as I was glued to either my camera or my computer. And I chastised myself the entire drive home for being such a party pooper. Because I see my sister once or twice a year.  And on this visit, I blew it.

Then yesterday I had an epiphany… one that would explain my bad behavior. Note I did not say excuse my bad behavior. I realized something about myself: my memories are stored in the form of pictures. Somewhere in my brain is a lobe that resembles a Creative Memories album on steroids. Which explains my obsession fascination with photography. As I probed further, I realized that my memories are intricately tied to visual images, a sort of mental snapshot of the events in my life. I rely on photographs to serve as my memory. Because I am terrified that my brain will fail me and I will forget the important, and not-so-important, pieces that are all a part of my history.

And that is why I love taking photographs. Because they are a record of who we are, a way to capture all of the tiny little details that make us unique. As memories fade, which they always do… photographs are often our only reminder of the way things were.

Christina and Luke, I am sorry that I did not hang out with you more while we were at mom and dad’s last week. Just so you know, I was there, paying attention. I soaked in everything. And the way that I do that best is with my camera. Would you like to see how I will always remember Luke on this trip?

We’ll start first with a few images of Luke with my daughters. Chloe referred to him as “that kid” and then eventually “my cousin”. And while Ella is too young to comment much on life, I could tell that she enjoyed the influence of her big cousin.

A rare, quiet moment

Kickin' it by the pool

I wonder what a 2 and 3 year old contemplate while dipping their feet in the pool… You know what memories this photo will trigger for me? First, the awesomeness that is my mother-in-law. I asked her to make Chloe a little kerchief to wear in her hair and she sews a beautiful headband that Anthropologie would kill to get their hands on (sorry – I don’t have any photos that do it justice). And second, which is not really visible in this photo, that Luke spent most of this morning running around the pool without his pants. Or diaper. I have two girls and I must admit, I was disarmed by the presence of his little winkie. But I suppose boys will be boys. And I’m sure that Christina got a good laugh out of Luke freaking out his aunt and grandparents.

Ella gets a lesson from Luke

This kid has an arm! He stood atop of these rocks and zinged them right into the stream, one right after the other. Can you see how impressed my little Ella is? I was just happy that he didn’t hit my lens with one of those rocks! Mark my words… this kid will wind up with a Golden Glove or two in his trophy case.

Here are a few more shots of Luke from last week. Luke just being himself.

Luke and his car

Contemplating the bubbles

Playing with mommy

Popping bubbles

T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

No more paparazzi

And that is how I will remember my visit with Luke. Toy cars and bubbles and naked shenanigans by the pool… everything I would expect from a 2 year old boy. Except that this 2 year old boy is special. He is my nephew. And while I did not physically spend much time with him, I will always have this little part of him to keep with me forever. And which I can share with his aunts and uncles and grandpa on the other side of the map.

With that, I will pick up my camera and take more pictures. Because there are lots of memories to be made and I don’t want to miss a second!

Peace and quiet

Two words that are scarce in my world. But that is exactly what I experienced for 90 minutes on my drive home from my parents’ house. The girls were asleep, the radio was off… just me alone with my thoughts and the big, fluffy clouds in the sky.

Sunrise

Eight years ago, I was having a bit of a tough time… I was adjusting to several new roles in life: wife, veterinarian, business partner. The stress was unbearable for my young, immature self and I was completely depressed. Gary tried, in his Gary way, to cheer me up.  He offered help in the form of jokes, which helped very little. Because I had sunken to a very low point and I needed more than his humor to lift me out. In an act of desperation, he advised that I “find the beauty in a sunrise”. If you know Gary, this is highly unusual advice. My rough and tumble mountain man is more likely to get a pedicure in a fancy salon than suggest something as fluffy as to “find the beauty in a sunrise”. Instead of making me hopeful, these words made me angry… I couldn’t believe that he was trivializing my emotional torment in such a rude and heartless way. Those words almost broke us.

Fast forward eight years. I am happy to say that I have come a long way , embracing the roles of wife and veterinarian and my new role as mommy. I can’t imagine my life in any other form than the one that it is right now. Sadly though, I am usually too caught up in the day-to-day activities of changing diapers and chasing toddlers to notice how blessed my life is. Not to say that I don’t appreciate it, but I am usually too busy to realize it. I do, however, have the occasional moments of clarity where I am struck by the awesomeness that is my beautiful and wonderful life.

Yesterday I was driving home early in the morning. I had worked a 15 hour shift at an emergency clinic, and was hurrying home so that I could see my family before heading out to my next job. I had only 5 hours of very restless sleep before my drive; to say that I was exhausted is an understatement. My mind drifted to some very odd places during that delirious, 2 hour drive. I was about 30 minutes from home, driving across rice fields when I was suddenly aware of the song that was playing on my iPod. I heard Zack de la Rocha, asking me in his angst-ridden voice “you brain dead? You got a f*@king bullet in your head?”. It was a wake up call and it hit me like a hollow point right between the eyes. I am brain dead. I am so busy trying to get from point A to point B that I don’t stop to enjoy all that is good in my life. My beautiful children, my amazing husband, my family and friends, my job, my house, my motley crew of animals at home. I have taken them all for granted.

And in that moment, I noticed the black sky of night was beginning to glow as the sun was about to rise above the mountains on the horizon. Normally, I would be too focused on getting to my destination that I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. I mean, the sun comes up every morning… I looked at the clock and realized that I had made good time on my drive. I found a driveway along the road and pulled in. I turned off my car, stepped into the chilly early morning air and found the beauty in the sunrise.

Gary’s Beard

My husband has a beard. And his beard has a name: Scrumptious. That’s right, Gary has a beard named Scrumptious. It makes an appearance every year when the weather turns cold, which means that right now, Scrumptious is in full bloom.

Gary works outside and he seems to think that Scrumptious keeps his face warm. Which may be a valid point, but there are plenty of people who work outside without a giant ball of fur adhered to their face. Last year, a herdsman gave Gary the nickname “Yukon Cornelius”… you know, the axe-wielding character from the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie. I would say that is an accurate description. 

Would you like to meet Scrumptious? Well wait no further:

Gary and Scrumptious

 

I know what you are thinking… “that’s hot!”. Well hands off ladies because he is all mine. Would you like another look?

More Scrumptious

 

Don’t you just want to run your fingers through all of that fine facial hair? I would caution against it as you may be bitten by one of the small woodland creatures that has taken up residence in Scrumptious. I suppose if you have had a rabies vaccine, you will be okay.

Just in case you wanted a closer look, here you go:

Ahhhhhh, Scrumptious

 

I thought black and white would be a nice way to capture Scrumptious’s more sophisticated side. 

Oh, who am I kidding. There is no sophisticated side to Scrumptious. Just as there is no appealing, endearing or even remotely attractive side to Scrumptious. I mean, the dog doesn’t even want to go near it:

EEEEEEKKKKKKKK! Run Away!!!!!

 

FYI, this dog eats out of the litter box. Hmmmm, she finds Kitty Roca appetizing, but Scrumptious repulsive… that is a pretty strong statement.

Boyfriend, I know you love your beard. I don’t pretend to understand why, I just accept it. 

And I am hoping for a warm spell real soon…

The Curse

There are days when I feel like I can’t do anything right. I don’t know why… it could be due to my own inadequacies or perhaps it could be a result of how the planets are aligned at that particular moment. Whatever the reason, I have been having more and more bad days. To the point of where I am beginning to feel cursed.

Last Monday was one of those days. I was working my “happy” vet job at a general practice – days are filled with happy and healthy puppies and kittens. But for the past two weeks, the general practice has morphed in to an emergency practice (not purposefully, mind you). And my morning started out with a horrible case. I won’t go in to details because a) you really don’t want to know the details and b) there is the whole confidentiality thing. Anyhow, by the end of the day, I was done with veterinary medicine (again). Because more and more of my days seem to be filled with really bad cases with entirely way too sad stories. 

I went home and poured myself a glass of wine. I tried to make heads or tails of the day’s events and could find no resolution. And then I realized I knew where to turn for enlightenment. The Magic 8 Ball. It is all knowing and all powerful… surely it will guide me through my current crisis and give me the answers I am looking for.

Magic 8 ball, will my streak of bad luck end soon?

Okay, that is good news. Now for the next question:

Magic 8 Ball, should I quit veterinary medicine?

Hmmmmm. Not the answer I was looking for. But I trust Magic 8 Ball and it’s infinite wisdom. 

I was feeling a little better at this point, but I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle. That I needed to do something to break this wretched curse. And then I realized what the problem was, what was the source of my curse.

My cursed blue scrubs

 

That’s right, my scrubs are cursed. It seems as though every time I wear these scrubs, some catastrophe occurs. I usually refrain from wearing these blue scrubs, but my laundry was backed up and it was my only option that morning. The logical half of my brain says “Nicole, that is nonsense” but the superstitious (and dominant) side of my brain knows better. I quickly formulated a plan: I would sacrifice my blue scrubs with the hopes that the veterinary gods will grant me mercy. And here is what happened:

The sacrifice

 

I threw my scrub pants into the fireplace. I sat and watched as the flames consumed my cursed scrubs:

Burn baby, burn!

 

Did you know that 65% polyester is highly flammable? My scrubs created a huge fireball, which I am convinced was all of their bad juju leaving this planet. 

The remains

 

In a matter of minutes, my cursed, evil scrubs were reduced to a pile of ash. And I felt so much relief because I knew that my next shift would be much, much better. 

And that is the story of my cursed scrubs and their eventual demise. 

And yes, my next shift was better. It still sucked, but not nearly as bad.

If only it were that easy

We were sitting at the dinner table tonight, enjoying a delicious dinner made by Gary. We had the most delightful conversation, and it went something like this:

Gary: Chloe, what did you learn today?

Chloe: Magic.

Me: Where did you learn magic, Chloe?

Chloe: At the Magic House.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a “house” for anything we wanted to learn? I have always wanted to learn how to play the flute… I’ll just go to the Flute Playing House. And tomorrow, I think I will go to the Gourmet Cooking House. Perhaps the day after that, I will fit in a trip to the Airplane Flying House.

If only it were that easy…