Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Accidentally on hiatus

I must apologize for the lack of blogging lately.  It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's that I just don't have the time to say it! I have been busy with life, loving on my hubby and girls, working, photographing, and just trying to stay sane.  Life is good.

Alex and Kathryn are both doing great.  We moved them back to the old daycare that is close to my work territory (but far from our house) and it was the right decision.  Although it is inconveniently located, we feel completely at ease with the people caring for our children, and Alex is being challenged and enriched on a daily basis.  She is so excited to go to "school" and she runs through the hallways to get to her classroom, happily screaming her teachers' names.  When I pick her up at the end of the day, she yells to her friends, "BYE BUDDIES!" and to her teachers, "I LOVE YOU THIS MUCH!!!!"  Even after eight weeks at the other daycare, she cried every single time I left her.  We are so happy with the move.

Kathryn is really coming into her own lately.  She is able to sit upright without support for a bit, she loves her exersaucer, and she is absolutely enamored with her big sister.  Alex can make her bust into a fit of belly laughs just by looking at her and saying "Hi Baby Kat!!!!" It is hilarious and heart-warming.

Alex's favorite things lately are Snow White, Snow White, and more Snow White. Which is really funny, because I'm truly not a fan of the "princess culture." I don't want to raise my girls to be princesses.  I hope they are intelligent, strong women who create their own destiny.  The Disney Princess culture teaches girls that they should wait for Prince Charming, rely on their beauty, and simply exist in society as an object to gaze upon.  So NOT what I want them to learn.  Yet, here we are, at only 2+ years old, and Alex is OBSESSED with all things princess.  Obviously I haven't gone out of my way to shield her from it, and I really don't worry that she will learn all of her life-lessons from the Disney movies, but isn't it odd how it has infiltrated our culture so much!  But enough about that.  I have a Snow White costume to  purchase! *wink, wink*

Other things that Alex loves are Play Dough, cooking with me in the kitchen, and playing outside.  She is definitely still her strong-willed self, and things have been very trying lately with tantrums and fits.  She screamed bloody murder in the grocery store checkout line today for NO REASON! I have no idea what upset her, but there was no calming her down.  I could not get out of there fast enough; it was pretty embarrassing.  Let's just say the time-out corner has been visited frequently in our house lately.    

I celebrated a birthday yesterday.  I took the day off work and spent a wonderful day with my mom and the girls at the pool and Rich spoiled me with a fancy dinner out last night.  He even arranged for the babysitter!

AliKat Photography is booming with business.  I'm limiting my photoshoots to one a week so that I don't take away much time from my precious family, but I'm booked out for eight weeks!  I'm even starting to get some paid gigs! Fun stuff! More than anything, I am just absolutely loving the creative fulfillment that it gives me.  It is the perfect balance between my day job and my creative side.  And I am learning so much with every single shoot.  The more I do it, the more I realize how much of a novice I am, and how much I still need to learn!  I am sure that I will be so embarrassed of these early images that I have taken in a few years, but how will I ever improve if I don't jump in and make my mistakes?!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Now introducing....

Well, I don't mess around.  One week ago, I decided to really do it.  And I did!

I'm so excited!  I have been so sick this week, with a cold turned sinus-infection, turned chest nastiness, but it doesn't even matter, I'm still on a high because I am doing something new and exciting and creative!

My new business is called.....drumroll please........... AliKat Photography! After I posted my offer to do free photoshoots, I quickly became completely booked for the month of September, and I'm filling up October too.  I have a maternity shoot, 2 newborn shoots, an engagement shoot, a 1 year old shoot and a family shoot.......Woohoo! I am not sure how I am going to fit all of this into my schedule, but we will make it work.  I'm planning photo shoots for Sundays, when Rich has off,  and luckily it is football season now, so it's not like we would be spending time together anyhow, since I become a football widow from now until Super Bowl.

And though people are reluctant to do photosessions with me for completely free, it really is a win-win.  I am going to build up a portfolio and gain invaluable experience while they sacrifice their time (and probably patience).

The name AliKat comes from the source of my photography inspiration, my two girls.  I got my first DSLR over 5 years ago, and have loved photography for nearly all of my life.  But my passion for photography really took off after the birth of Alex (Ali) and has continued to grow after the birth of Kathryn (Kat).  AliKat is the perfect representation of why I love photography---it's about making those memorable life moments last forever.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking the Leap

For quite some time now, I have been struggling with a decision about my photography hobby.  I have loved photography for the better part of five years, but despite some encouragement from friends and family, I have been very resistant to developing it into a business.

There are a few reasons for this:
  • The first and biggest reason is lack of confidence.  I recognize that I am still learning.  I am a perfectionist at heart, and I cannot bear the idea of putting myself out there and not feeling like I am the very best at it.  I can critique every single picture that I have ever taken.  But when it is for my own personal enjoyment, and for the walls of our home, it doesn't matter that I have flaws.  Charging people money for a talent that is still growing just doesn't feel right to me. 
  • I am worried about turning something that I love into a chore.  As it stands right now, photography is my outlet.  It brings me joy and happiness, and I never dread taking photos.  Never.  But what happens if I have to take photos in order to pay the electric bill, buy groceries and clothe my children? Will I begin to dread it?  Will I think of it as a JOB?  It would be a great sadness to lose the joy that photography brings to me.  
  • It's mine.  Similar to my piano, I have a tendency to keep things that I cherish close to my heart.  I took piano lessons for 12 years before I played in ONE piano recital.  And the one recital that I did was for my 92-year-old Romanian classical piano teacher because it was my last year with him, and he begged me.  (And he was the cutest man, my Mr. Grabow, I just couldn't say no to him!) I hated being the center of attention, sitting by myself at that piano, with all the eyes on me.  It's not a stage-fright thing, it's a "I-don't-want-to-share-what's-mine-with-you-thing."  Pretty selfish huh? :) 
  • I'm scared.  I am not a risk-taker.  I like salaried jobs with 401Ks and benefits.  I like guaranteed paychecks.  I like to plan 6 months from now and know that I will be able to afford X dollars to spend at Christmas.  Running a business is the opposite of this mentality.
But I was reading from one of my favorite books, Conversations with God, and I came across a quote that spoke to my heart.  It is a quote that I have loved and come back to many times, but sometimes you can come across something that you see every day, and suddenly it speaks to you.

If you think your life is about doingness, you do not understand what you are about. Your soul doesn't care what you do for a living--and when your life is over, neither will you. Your soul cares only about what you are being while you're doing whatever you're doing. It is a state of beingness the soul is after, not a state of doingness.

And I realized that my soul is not pursuing this state of beingness.  I have been pursuing a state of doingness for awhile now.  So I am thinking about taking that leap and pursuing my photography as a business.  Because even though photography is just a different thing to be "doing," I know how my heart feels while I am doing it.  It is that state of "beingness" that I need.

And no, I'm not quitting my day job! I still need to pay the bills too. :)

So.  I need experience!  Lots and lots of experience.  Before I take a single dollar, I want to have loads of photos of families and babies, and couples and kids (and not just my own!).  Who wants free photos? 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

I'm out of titles for the blog posts.  But when I'm trying to come up with ways to make my girls smile (or even just give me a disparaging look, in Alex's case) for the camera, I come up with random phrases, usually uttered in a ridiculous sing-song voice that would make most adults cringe.  "Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater" (in a British accent of course) is a great one.  It worked once.  My jokes are only funny to them one time.  Sometimes I can make Kathryn giggle, so of course I try to repeat whatever nonsensical thing I was doing that tickled her funnybone, only to get the most deadpan expressions, and I just know she is already embarrassed by me.  

In other news:

Kathryn has her first ear infection.  Only three weeks in daycare and already on antibiotics.  Lovely.  (She's fine!  In fact, I didn't even know she was sick, poor thing didn't get diagnosed until her well-baby visit.  She is such a happy baby, she didn't even show any signs of fussiness!)

We will be trekking back to the old childcare place near my work.  We have mixed feelings about the place they have been in for the last few weeks.  The infant teachers have been great, but Alex's room is in a constant state of moving teachers back and forth between rooms (and children too) to keep the minimum State Child/Teacher Ratios.  Instead of hiring teachers for each room according to the enrollment of that room, they just move kids and teachers around into other rooms when they exceed their minimum ratio.  It doesn't sound that bad, but it ends up with Alex being shuttled into the one-year old room half the day and there just isn't any continuity of care.  They also gave her foods that she can't eat (she's on this no-fruit diet right now due to a pretty unfortunate bout of Toddler's Diarrhea.  ugh.)  And a few other little things that have just added up to a general feeling of unease.  So we are pretty excited to take Alex back to her old teachers and friends, and also to introduce Kathryn to some of Alex's former infant teachers who we all loved. 

I didn't get laid off.  I came back to work from maternity leave on August 1st, only to learn that my company was doing layoffs on August 18th.  Not stressful at all!  But luckily I'm still employed.  This is the 3rd layoff in 7 years with my company and I have somehow managed to escape them all.  This has nothing to do with my level of skill--I really do believe it is a matter of luck.  Lucky us!

Alex is talking up a storm.  She has a personality that makes us laugh (and pull out our hair!).  She is in the full throes of the terrible twos.  Lots of tantrums and stubbornness, followed by the sweetest periods of gentle loving.  It is amazing how quickly she can go from happy to angry and back again!

We are all generally doing great.  Rich has been working very hard, but we have been getting a babysitter sometimes so that we can enjoy date nights again (yay!)  I'm really close to my pre-pregnancy weight.  So close that I'm losing my willpower since most of my clothes fit me (though I wouldn't say they are all comfortable!)  My goal is to stay focused on the diet until my birthday (in about a month) and then try to maintain from there.  But my obsession with baking is not helping things.  Ack!

Kathryn rolled over from her tummy to her back for the first time yesterday! She has been so close to doing it for awhile, and she was very pleased with herself!  

That's about it! 

And for your viewing pleasure...........

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kathryn at 3 months

I'm not sure why I'm surprised, but time seems to be flying by even more quickly with our second baby than with our first.  I guess it is the craziness of taking care of two children that keeps us even more distracted from the clock.  Kathryn's personality is really starting to come out now.  She is so much more interactive with smiles and coos.  She reaches for toys and pulls them to her mouth.  She takes her binky out of her mouth and puts it back, and then she looks at us with this proud expression, as if to say "Did you see what I just did?!"  She giggles, especially when you rub noses with her.  Rich's nickname for her is Muncher or Munch (due to her healthy appetite!) and Baby Kat.  I tend to like her full name, but sometimes call her Kit Kat to go with my nick name for Alex, Ali-Kat!

She has been doing great in daycare since I have returned to work.  The two ladies that take care of her are really sweet, and they can't stop saying what an amazing baby she is.  They said that they could only wish that all their babies were as good as Kathryn.  I have been having a much harder time returning to work though.  I just have such an awareness of how fast this time goes and how much I am missing by being away from her and Alex.

I'm still part-time at work, so I took some time last week to do a fun photo-session with her.  In order to get decent lighting in my house at certain times, I have to open up the front door and set up my "studio" right in the entryway.  It must be funny if any of the neighbors are looking in at me laying on the floor, standing on chairs and generally making a fool of myself while trying to get the perfect shot!

I love this expression full of attitude while she is in the bucket!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Peachy Vacation

We decided that Phoenix is too hot in the summertime, and what better way to escape the heat than heading to chilly Georgia! Huh? Yeah, not really.  Let's just say we didn't go for the weather.  But we had a great time visiting family despite the humidity and heat.  And Alex is a BIG big fan of the country.

Highlights of this trip:

-Alex's walks....down the driveway, through the fields, through the woods, around the lake, repeat.

-Alex developed a new hobby on the trip: stick-collecting.  There were so many sticks everywhere that needed to be harvested! We eventually had to get her a bag because her hands were overflowing.

-Riding in the golf cart.  

-Three, yes, THREE trips to our favorite Georgia eatery, The Varsity.  My arteries were hurting by the end of the week.  But those who are from Athens or Atlanta know that you can't skip a deep-fried peach pie if the opportunity presents itself.  Just sayin.


-Getting in some photography time (for me)

-Spending time with some very special people.  Alex and Kathryn were in heaven with all the attention and love from everyone. 

Goodbye for now, Georgia! We will see you again next year!

Monday, July 25, 2011


The picture on the left is Alex at 3 months old, and the one on the right is Kathryn at 3 months old.  It's safe to say that they are related, wouldn't you agree?!  I can see some differences of course, but it is kind of amazing how similar they look! Kathryn is a bit cheekier (ha!) and I think her nose is a little different, but if you aren't comparing their photos next to each other, I bet you would have a tough time picking out which one is which!  I'm pretty sure they will start to look quite different as they grow, but it's kind of fun seeing how similar they are right now! :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Maternity Leave and Family Planning

Life is moving so quickly right now.  I have 3 more weeks of maternity leave, and I have to say that I am dreading my return to work.  Once I get back into the groove of things, it will all be fine.  But thinking about leaving Kathryn for a full work-day when I have not been apart from her for longer than a few hours is making me so anxious.  She is so sweet and easy, and I just savor our days together.  We spend our time snuggling, listening to her cooing and smiling when we talk to her.  She loves to watch her big sister, and she is obsessed with the ceiling fan and lights.  

I'm sad thinking that this might be our last baby.  I wouldn't say that a third baby is an impossibility, but it's definitely not a probability.  We like the idea of being a family of four.  Two girls, two parents.  It works.  But then I snuggle with Kathryn and take in her sweet baby smell, and I think, are these the last snuggles I will have with a newborn?  Are these the last few times I will marvel at my baby smiling at me and cooing when I say her name? It makes me want to stop time!  But three children seems impossible to us.  Especially as a working mom.  And I think it would take a small miracle to convince Rich to try for a 3rd!  He doesn't even miss not having a boy; he is completely happy with his two girls.  

And why, you might wonder, are we even thinking or talking about this only 2 months after I had a baby?  Because I'm a planner.  And part of me needs to know if this is it.  So that I can prepare my mental image of what our family looks like.  So that I can tell myself to savor each and every milestone.  Which is hilarious, because it's not like I wouldn't be savoring them even if we were planning on having another child one day.  But I just want to know.  And life is funny, because sometimes you just can't plan things and you just can't know what the future holds.  

Do other people think about this so shortly after having a baby? 

Alexandra is 2!

Time to get some updates done!  We celebrated Alex's 2nd birthday by going to San Diego with the family.  It was nice not to plan a big party while I've been occupied with taking care of the new baby.  Next year, the parties will recommence! :)

Alex and Kathryn were pretty good for the car ride because we left at 8 p.m. and they slept through most of it.  I sat in between their two car seats so that I could calm down Kathryn if she got fussy for the long ride.  It was beyond uncomfortable and totally unnecessary since she was completely asleep for the 6 hour drive.  I won't be doing that again!

We got to the hotel around 2 a.m. and got in a few good hours of sleep to help us make it through the day.  On her actual birthday, we went to the beach.  Although we took her to the beach in Maui when she was 7 months old, of course she was too little to get it.  But this time, she looked out at the ocean with huge eyes and she played in the sand like it was the coolest sandbox.  It was adorable to watch.

The next day, we woke up early to get to Sea World at opening.  It was a perfect day!  Alex got to see all of her favorite animals (fishies, turtles, penguins, whales, OH MY!) and she was the center of attention.  The best moment of the day was the Shamu show.  Her mouth literally fell open when the show started, and she clapped and laughed through the whole thing.  It was awesome to see the wonder on her face and to try to see the world through the eyes of a two-year-old.  

We inaugurated the double stroller for the trip, and it worked out great.  Kathryn slept in it for nearly the whole day, and she was pretty much an angel baby for the entire trip! We are so in love with this sweet mellow baby! 

We had cupcakes and gifts with the rest of the family when we got back in town.  I would say that Alexandra was one spoiled birthday girl!

Happy Birthday to my BIG GIRL! I cannot believe it was only 2 years ago (and already 2 years ago!) that she came into our lives and brought us such happiness.  I can't even remember what our family was like before her.  We can't wait to see what this next year holds for her!