Thursday, May 31, 2007

I shouldn't be blogging, I should be packing!

I'm leaving this afternoon to go to Georgia for my cousin's wedding, and yes, I am taking the pictures for her. My mom and both of my sisters, Kimberly and Alisa, are going with me, so it's going to be fun, even though we have to drive like, 12 or 14 hours or something crazy! I am leaving the girls with Johnny, but Maddie Kate is already sad and doesn't want me to go, even though they are going to go to Effingham for the weekend and play with Grandma & Grandpa. I'm excited, this is the first wedding for me this year, and it's going to be fun!
This week has been different, now that MK isn't in school and I'm done babysitting. I have had no routine whatsoever, and I have to get used to that! I'm used to having a set time to get up and set things I have to do each day, and now all of that scheduling is gone, so I have to make sure I still do all the things that need doing each day!!
Maddie Kate came down with a fever on Sunday afternoon, so that made things difficult for a day or two. She never did get as sick as Ava did though, so that was good! On Monday, Johnny stayed home to take care of Maddie so I could go shopping with Mom. I was dying to get some new things for the summer, so I did. Ava was pretty good all morning, but by lunchtime she was really crabby because she hadn't gotten a morning nap, and she gave me a pretty hard time during lunch! Then we still had shopping to do, and she was pretty mad about all that. At least she looked cute though!
We went to Target and then amazingly, as soon as we got into the car she fell asleep! I guess she will sleep in a car as long as it is 5-6 hours past her normal nap time! Silly kid! Yesterday Ava was saying all kinds of stuff that I didn't know she could say. We put her in her highchair for lunch, and she said, "Daddy, I'm a princess." and he and I looked at each other and we were like, did she really just say that? And then she said it again! We were so shocked! I questioned both Johnny and Maddie Kate, and neither of them had taught her to say it, so I guess she came up with it on her own! She also is such a little diva! She LOVES shoes and purses. Most of the time Ava is walking around in my or Maddie Kate's shoes (usually flipflops) and carrying 3 purses on each arm! She says "Thank you welcome" all the time and also has started to call herself "Avie Claire" which we call her sometimes, so she has picked up on it. She also currently calls me
"Jess uh ca!" I keep trying to get her to say Mommy, but she keeps going with my name...hopefully she stops that soon, I don't really like it! I mean, it's cool that she knows I have a name and she can say it, but it's not like I'm her step mom or something! :)
Tuesday night and Wednesday night Maddie Kate had ballgames and they won both of them. She has been hitting the ball every time she gets up to bat, and on Tues, she even got a triple! Her daddy and I are very proud of her! (I ordered a large print of the photo collage, I am anxious to see what it looks like in a 16x20!) Next week she has a game Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Friday, so that should be interesting!
Well, I guess I have put it off long enough, the empty suitcases are calling! Have a great weekend!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Maddie Kate's photo collage

Last night was Maddie Kate's softball team pictures, and we went, mainly just to get the group photo. Several people there kept saying, "Why aren't you doing these pictures?"and of course I would love to do something like that, (and in a town like Sesser, where sports rule the town, it would probably be a good field to get into) but just looking around at the organization it must take! Oh my goodness! Pictures: no problem, organization: oh my!! Anyway, when we got home, Maddie Kate and I had our own little photo shoot!

What do you think? I'm pretty happy with it for my first try! I got the idea from a lady on a photo editing forum that I participate in, and I wanted to give it a shot, so here's the first collage!
Today was Maddie Kate's first game and unfortunately, it was at 8 am! I had to get up at 6:15 to get us all ready and be there on time! But at least it wasn't hot. Ava still isn't feeling too good, but she did alright. They lost, but it was a good game, and she hit the ball 3 out of 4 times that she was up to bat, so I'm very proud of her!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hey all you blog stalkers!

I just want to say, I would love to hear from those of you who read my blog! I usually get anywhere from 10-30 hits a day, and only a few comments! I would love to see who is reading this, so if you don't mind, please leave me a comment! I would mean a lot to me!!

Today I am very sleepy, because Ava started throwing up yesterday and running a very high temp. I had to get her up several times in the night because she needed medicine and I had to put her in the tub to bring the temp down! It made me feel so bad because she was blazing hot to the touch, but I'm pouring lukewarm water over her in the tub and she's shivering! She seemed better this morning, and she hasn't thrown up since yesterday evening, so maybe we're getting past it, I HOPE SO!! This is sick Ava with a cold washcloth on her head and a popsicle!

I just have to tell this funny story about Johnny. Yesterday at lunch we were eating outside on the back deck, and Ava had a pickle on her plate (this was before she threw up) that she didn't want, so she set it on the table, and then Maddie Kate wanted to eat it (she LOVES pickles). But the table was dirty, so Johnny didn't want Maddie to eat it. I was like, "Go wash it off first," but Johnny promptly picked it up and licked off the side that had been on the table. I thought Maddie might be grossed out, but it didn't bother her at all, she ate the whole thing! So we wonder how Johnny got Shiga (a rare strain of E.coli) and almost died last year....hmmmm?!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I know I have been blogging a lot lately...

...but I have lots to say right now with all the stuff we have been doing! Once I get started with all these weddings in a few weeks, I may not have as much time for it...we'll see!!
First off, a picture of Maddie Kate with a top tooth missing!
She is so happy once she gets the teeth out, but before they are out it is quite a struggle! I remember being like that! She's pretty proud of it now!
On Sunday we went to Crossroads' homecoming at my in-laws church in Effingham. This photo is Ava wearing a green mustache and goatee from a cookie at lunchtime.
The next picture is 4 generations of Hollis' & Ragland's that were all in attendance that day! (back row: John & Vickie Hollis (Johnny's parents) Jared (Johnny's brother), me & Johnny. front row: Big Papa & Grandma Hollis (John's parents) holding Ava, Grandma & Grandpa Ragland (Vickie's parents) holding Maddie Kate.
Something else I just realized is that my daughter's have been wearing those dresses a LOT lately!! They are new and they match, and I really like them so I guess I just keep putting them on them. Well, next time, I promise to put something different on my kids, they have closets full of other things to wear!! ha!

This picture is Johnny with both of his grandpa's.
I think it is GREAT that he still has all of his grandparents. I only have one! How many people are 28 and have all 4 grandparents? Plus, I always think he looks like both of his grandpa's. It's hard to decide who he looks more like!!

Maddie Kate on Monday, May 21st, her 6th birthday!! She was born on a Monday. Here she is opening her gifts outside at lunchtime. This is her holding her first digital camera! You know that Bible verse about "Train up a child in the way he should go...."! ;) Maybe she'll work with me or take over the business some day!! She and I were testing the camera out this morning, and we uploaded some of the very low-res photos that it takes, and as soon as she saw them she said "Those are bad pictures!" So I have already told her we'll return it for an upgrade! I want her to enjoy it, and for it to be easy for her to use, so I think we'll have to do a little better than this! She is also wearing an old Sesser-Valier track uniform that her Daddy got for her...he's training her too! She loves it and wears it part of every day!

Here's Maddie Kate with her friends and Ava at her Surprise 6th birthday party! It was the funniest, cutest thing when they surprised her. Johnny had taken her to softball practice and then he kept her at the park to play until all her little friends got here. I had them hide in her room under her bed, and when she got home, I told her to go to her room and take her clothes off because she needed a bath. She always whines about taking baths (once she's in, she loves it, but for some reason, getting into the tub is always a hassle) so she was whining and I was videoing her. I followed her to her room she started taking off her pants, and one by one her friends came out from under the bed and looked at her, and finally I yelled "Surprise!" Maddie Kate was standing there in her shirt and panties and could not stop laughing! She was so surprised and so excited! They all decided to go out to play, so I ordered pizza and we ate outside on the back deck (thanks to Johnny for the fabulous Mother's Day gift! We have already used it a lot!) and then they went to play again. Johnny said, "Does she even know that they are spending the night?" and I yelled "Hey Maddie Kate, did you know your friends are spending the night?" and she held her arms up and said, "This is heaven!" That made the whole thing worth it, even though I barely slept that night!! Later we came in to play and eat cake and ice cream. They put on their jammies, played Wii, opened presents, and tore up Maddie Kate's room. I think they had fun! They were watching Full House season 5 (which she got for graduation) at midnight, and they were all awake. I was really tired, so I told them that I was going to bed but I was going to leave my door open so they could come get me if they needed me. At 2 am I heard a noise loud enough to wake me up, so I went to check, and 4 of the 5 were still awake. I told them they HAD to go to sleep! Maddie wanted to get in her bed, so all of the awake ones wanted to go with her. 2 girls got in bed with her and one laid on the floor! I got up at 5 to check on them and they were all asleep, so I guess getting into a real bed made them pass out! I thought it was great to have a party she could love so much!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A week in the life...

I will start with last Saturday. While I was taking engagement pictures, Johnny took the girls to the store to buy Mother's Day gifts. I was home waiting on them when the doorbell rang. I went to answer it, and there was Maddie Kate holding a bouquet of flowers and Ava holding a watering can and a trowel! (Johnny had broken mine when we planted flowers, so I needed a new one) They looked so sweet standing there with their little gifts, and they pointed at the truck, and there was a huge box in the back, and my first thought was, "He has bought a wide screen tv for himself and is calling it a Mother's Day gift!" but as it turns out, it was a patio set for me! We set it all up on the back deck and it is so pretty and comfortable. I keep thinking I ought to put it in the kitchen, it would be cute! I think that has been the first time I have ever had a surprise like that for Mother's Day! Sunday we had church as usual and then we went to my parent's house to celebrate Mother's Day and also the May birthdays, which was Maddie Kate, and my brother-in-law, Tony. This pic is me with the girls on the swing in my parent's yard, and another one I just have to add of Maddie Kate that I love!

We spent the afternoon there, and then went to the Baccalaureate service for the graduating seniors at the high school.
Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal, regular busyness of ball practice and gymnastics and dr. appointments, but Wednesday was the visitation of a sweet lady from our church who passed away and who we will miss very much, Mrs. Reba. Some of the youth group met at our house to go over together and then all the kids came to our house to hang out, eat pizza, and play cards and Wii. The youth coming over to play is always one of my favorite things! They are so fun and so funny! Thursday I had my sister come and babysit Ava and Caleb for me so I could go to Mrs. Reba's funeral and help with the funeral dinner for the family. Valerie and I kept joking that we were "pretending to be grown ups" that day! (Valerie is a girl from our youth group that is in college at FWBBC, but she is currently home for the summer. I also consider her a good friend, and we are so proud of her!) That evening was the high school graduation, and we went to support Jennifer, who is Valerie's sister and also a buddy of mine. She is also planning to attend FWBBC in the fall. We are also very proud of Jennifer, she was one of 3 valedictorians in her class, and she gave a great speech. I am always in awe of people who can give speeches, because I absolutely cannot get up in front of a group and talk. I could take their picture, but not give them a speech!!

Friday was Maddie Kate's big day. She has officially graduated kindergarten (we have the diploma to prove it) an is now officially a first grader, which makes me way too sad to think about it too much! That is just TOO OLD! When they are tiny

babies you never imagine that they will grow so quickly and start doing all these things that "big" kids do! Plus it makes me seem older to have a child that age! Johnny and I both cried at the ceremony, but I didn't really cry as much as I did at the Mother's Day program last week! (The first picture is Maddie Kate singing at the graduation, the second one is her receiving her diploma, and the next one is all the family members who came to see her graduate!)

After the program, we went back to the house and Maddie Kate opened some graduation gifts, and then we all went out to eat Chinese together. Then we all came back to the house and hung out until party time, when some other family members joined us for cake and ice cream, and birthday gift opening (as if that kid needed any presents; we have no room for any more toys!) This picture is me holding a sleepy Ava after graduation.

This is the reaction she had when she saw her new bike!
It was a fun day though, it was so nice to just hang out with everyone and not be working!

After the party most everyone was gone, and my sister Sweed (her name is Alisa, but we all call her by her nickname) decided that she needed to do a photoshoot of me, apparently because I am always behind the camera, instead of in front of it! The thing I found funniest was that I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO POSE! I can tell others exactly how to pose or where to look or how to hold their faces, but when it comes to myself and posing, you can forget it! I also feel really strange being photographed alone, now that I am a wife and a mommy! But Sweed has a good eye, and she managed to get a few shots of me that I actually like, so that is a pretty big deal. She will most likely become my photography business partner someday! She actually is going to do back up work for me at some of the weddings this summer, I'm excited to see what she comes up with! The next 3 photos are taken by Sweed! (edited by me)

The last thing that happened yesterday was Maddie Kate lost another tooth, one of her front top teeth. It was quite an ordeal, because even though she wanted it out, she was very upset about letting us pull it, and she wouldn't do it herself. We finally got it out though, and the tooth fairy paid her another visit! So, it was a VERY big day for Maddie Kate!!

Today we are in Effingham, because Johnny is speaking at his parent's church's Homecoming service tomorrow. We will travel home tomorrow, and the Monday is Maddie Kate's 6th birthday. She doesn't know, but I am throwing her a surprise slumber party that night! That should be a pretty fun time!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Oh my, I know I said things are hectic...

... but the next several days are off the charts! I won't get into all the crazy details right now, but I'm sure I'll have pictures and blogging about it all later!! (You know, MK's dreaded kindergarten graduation is Friday and the 6th birthday is next Monday....)
But I will tell you, Ava has just taken off talking. She says lots of full sentences now, things like, "I have shoes on!", "What's that noise?"and my personal favorite..."I took my pants off!" She is thinking pretty seriously about the potty and what it involves, and I think that's why her pants have been coming off lately! Here's a pic of her from last Saturday. I always do a few test shots with my lights before a photo shoot, so my girls posed, and I really liked this one of Ava. She is her daddy's clone!!

I had the opportunity to take engagement photos for another one of my brides this past Saturday. Their wedding is in October, and I am so pleased with the results from their session. We started out in my living room with studio shots, and then we drove way out to the bride's mom's farm in a rural area.

It was very pretty farmland all the way out there, and at her mom's, there were lots of good spots for photos, like this fallen log in the woods, a pond, and we even used a wheat field! I think the one in the wheat might be my favorite.

I love my job!! Photography has always been a huge love of mine, but the more I learn and the more sessions I do, the more I love it! Getting to meet new people and finding fun new spots to take pictures is so much fun! If anyone is worried about asking me to go on locations somewhere...DON'T BE! I love going to people's special locations for their pictures! It makes it to original and beautiful and special to each individual, and that is important to me. As I told this couple, I don't mind driving out to the farm and tromping through the weeds to get a great shot! So if you've got a location, let me know, I would love to visit it with you for your photos!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The perfect example of a sweet crazy life!

Thursday afternoon we went to check out some of the old buildings for sale in the outrageously huge metropolis of downtown Sesser. (ha ha) We are still trying to decide what we are going to do for my studio, buy and remodel?, or build new? It is pretty wild to me to even think seriously about having a real studio. I mean, this has been my dream forever, so it's just crazy! I don't know what we are going to do yet, but just to be looking and discussing is a really cool thing! :)
Yesterday I got up extra early, because Maddie Kate's kindergarten Mother's Day program was in the morning, and I had to get ready and get Maddie off to school with Johnny and get Ava ready and drop her off. Since Johnny's parents were in town, I took Ava to stay with Vickie at Gpa & Gma Ragland's for the morning, because of course I did NOT want to wrestle with Ava during Maddie Kate's sweet little program! It kinda felt like what I guess most working mom's feel like in the morning; getting up early and getting everyone ready for the day, dropping the kids at the babysitter, etc. I am SO glad I don't have to do that! I would go crazy I think!
Anyway, the program was so cute. All the moms sat in the kids seats, and there were lots of crafts and cards and decorations the kids had made for us, even a little petunia in a pot! The kids came in and sang a few songs and said a poem, and if I do say so myself, Maddie Kate did wonderfully, especially at saying her memorized line. She was adorable! Then the kids served us refreshments and Mrs. White read us a terribly sad book called "Someday" that I have to get. It was so sweet, and of course, all about your baby growing up. I bawled, which you can totally tell I have been crying in this picture of us after the program. The teacher also had made a photo slide show, set to the Beach Boys song "God Only Knows" and it was photos of the kids with their moms and the kids as babies. It was very sweet. All I know is, if I cried that much at the Mother's day program, how bad is it going to be next Friday at Kindergarten Graduation?!
Here's the sweet crazy life part: after the program we came home to change, I answered some emails, we ran out to the Ragland's for lunch, I fell asleep for an hour on the couch (I always get super sleepy when my day is not in my regular routine!!) then ran back to town to pick up Vickie's mother's day flowers and card, ran back out to the Ragland's, everyone came there for a little while, then everyone needed to go home, so we came home and changed to go to MaddieKate's softball practice, ate at the Custard Stand, came home and decided to finish up the landscaping project we have been trying to squeeze in for the past week, (flowers and mulch and all that!) then came in, cleaned up and played Wii with Johnny and MK until it was time to go to sleep! It was a very busy, but very sweet day! By the way, we LOVE our Nintendo Wii! being able to make caricatures of yourself, family and friends to play sports with is lots of fun!
Today I have been trying to clean the house and get ready for the engagement shoot I have this afternoon! I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Two Session Update

I'm finally going to post some pictures from last Saturday. I had two sessions in one day, which is a first for me, so I was a little anxious about it all, but it turned out to be a breeze, and I was thrilled with the results from both sessions.
The first one was for a woman who had won a free session from me at one of the bridal shows I did back in January. She was getting married, but didn't want wedding pictures, she just wanted pictures of all of her family together after the wedding. I got there about half an hour early, and the ceremony was in process, and I couldn't help but take some of the ceremony. The church was beautiful, and so was the cute little couple!

I talked with some of the family afterward and found out that the bride will turn 70 this year, and the groom was 80! Don't they look great?!

I just think it is so neat that this couple could find happiness in each other at their age. In talking with their families, I could tell everyone seemed happy and proud of their parents.

I really appreciate this sweet family allowing me to share in their very special day!

My second session that day was with my husband's cousin. I am taking their wedding photos in July, and these are a few from their engagement session.

This couple should model! They are so pretty, and so easy to take pictures of!

We took these at an old schoolhouse that is on my husband's grandfather's property, and it is about to fall down, but it was PERFECT for photos! In talking with them, it turns out that the bride used to play here as a child, and the couple is actually thinking of building a home here when the schoolhouse is torn down. I thought that was a pretty cool connection. I am hoping Grandpa will let me have some of the barnwood to use in my studio when I get one! :)

I have no idea which one is my favorite, there were way too many good ones. We also took some at a golf course, those were great too. I got loads of great shots of this couple, but I will stop for now!

This week has been so busy for us as a family. My brother in law has come to visit for a few days, and my in-laws came today to see the girls...we haven't seen them since Spring Break.
Maddie Kate has softball practice 2 afternoons a week and gymnastics one evening, so it seems we never have a whole evening at home together! I think May is going to continue to be that way, with graduations and birthday parties, and all the million other things happening in the next few weeks! Hope your May is as hectic and fun as ours!! :)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A fun silly day!

Today was a fun day. Jamie came to visit and brought Mylie, and that itself made today fun! Jamie and I had a good visit, which is so nice, because most of the time my contact with the outside world is online, since I am a stay at home mom and with all the babysitting, I sure don't get out much! (That will change soon though, bittersweet...) It's also nice how there are just some friends that you don't see much, but you get together and you are still friends just like you always were! Those are the best kind, old forever friends! I got to hold the beautiful big-eyed Mylie a lot and it is so amazing how fast babies grow! It seems like Ava was just that size, but I guess she is getting to be a big girl now, she'll be 21 months old on Saturday.
I decided I had better tell a good story about Ava, since so far I have only told bad ones! She has started to sing little songs, and so far there are about 4 that we recognize when she sings. "Jesus loves me," "the ABC song", "Bubbling", and "Ring Around the Rosy". It is so adorable when she does ring around the rosy, because it is accompanied by spinning in a circle and saying "Ashes, ashes, ashes" until she falls down. We all cheer and of course, think that this is the cutest thing we have ever seen! Also, when Johnny and I are close, she will start saying "Kiss it! Kiss it!" and will continue to say it until we kiss. Maddie Kate always used to try to stop us from kissing, but Ava encourages it! They are so different! If you start to talk loudly or yell, Ava will say "No yell it!" and will start to yell this until you stop. You can start a yelling war with her by yelling "No yell it!" at her! She is so much fun! Here is the predicament she got herself into today:

She was trying to get into my stuff on the table and somehow knocked the chair over and was stuck and whining, but since she didn't look like she was going to fall I grabbed my camera before helping her! That's what you get, you little troublemaker!! ha!
We are supposed to be going to the Cardinals game tomorrow night with my sister and her husband, as long as it doesn't get rained out! And I have 2 sessions on Saturday, so I'm gearing up for a busy weekend! I'll blog some pics next week!! ♥