Our 11-year-old had just popped open his root beer when we gave him the news.
He only gets to drink soft drinks when we go to restaurants or on special occasions. But we were at the farm, and Aunt Pam had a red cooler loaded with ice cold IBC, Orange Crush and Double Cola. In bottles!
He was right in the middle of a big swig when I remembered what I wanted to tell him.
Every summer, the 4th of July seems to be the signal that summer is halfway gone. I guess it all depends on your school schedule and perspective. But if summer begins at Memorial Day and school starts 12 weeks later, this is, in fact, the halfway point....
I get bored easily. I like new adventures. I love a challenge. I like a freshly-painted room, a new city to explore, the excitement of learning something new.
What I have realized, though, is that I'm not crazy about transition.
I have a hard time saying good-bye to The Old. I worry that even though The New might offer more possibilities, I will miss all the good parts about The Old. Sometimes change can be full of frustration and headaches as I learn to do something a new way.
Those are the things that have been on my mind the past few months as I've contemplated moving my blog. I've wanted to move my blog to WordPress for a while now, but, believe it or not, it's hard to think about saying good-bye to the place I've called my home on the web for the last five years.
Will people come see me at my new space? Will they like it? Will some of the new, better features make up for a few things that I can't take with me? I really worry that my old blog will miss me. I feel so bad leaving it all alone.
After much thought, work, messing around and a few counseling sessions, I'm really going to do it. I'm moving my blog.
But before I give you my new blog address, I just want to ease your mind by letting you know about a few of the things that will remain the same on everydaymom:
1. I will continue to publish the same pointless, random and even boring content that you have grown to know and love.
2. My posts will remain sporadic. Sometimes, I might post something every day. Other times, you will have to wait months for a new blog post.
3. I will continue to write many of my blog posts in a southern accent. You can read them in your mind in whatever accent you normally use.
What's NEW on the new blog?
1. It's really bright. Hopefully, if you don't like the new, brighter colors, they will at least distract you from noticing other things you don't like.
2. It combines my blog with my daily photo blog. Now, it's easier to find everything in one place.
3. It includes commentLuv. I really luv this feature on other blogs. If you aren't familiar with it, just leave me a comment, and you'll see how it works.
4. There's a bunch of other stuff that I love about moving to WordPress, but I'm sure you're dying to just get over there and check it out.
Here's the new address: www.everydaymomlife.com. (Didn't see that one coming, did ya?) (I still have a few more things to do on the new site, so I'll keep posting both places for a bit until I get it all done.)
Check it out and then leave me a comment to let me know you stopped by. Even if you've never, ever left a comment before, it's super simple to do with WordPress. (One of the many things I love about the new blog.) You will make me so happy if you take a second to say hello.
Oh, and PS... What about you? Do you like change? Are you good with starting something new? Leaving the old behind?
For the last four weeks, our family has been counting down the days to June 19. The rest of our life felt like it was on hold as we waited for this one day to arrive.
My husband has been working his tail off — actually his arm off — in preparation for his four-month follow-up visit with the surgeon who worked on his shoulder back on March 8. After that gloomy visit with predictions of a second surgery, I have to admit we were expecting the worst.
We had gone through the four stages of grief as we thought about what it would mean to go back into the operating room for a second time, and we were starting to set up a tent in "acceptance."
As I mentioned in my last post about this, my husband has regained a lot of movement in his right arm since the surgery. But he has one motion that is still only at about 65 percent of its range of motion. Our lives have revolved around physical therapy appointments four days a week, often 2.5 hours long right after his work day, as well as putting on his stretching contraption three times a day to slowly pull his arm and hold it in place 30 minutes at a time.
We resigned ourselves to no vacation this summer since we would need all of his remaining vacation days to recover from a potential surgery. Three of his therapists had a big debate Monday night about what would be his best course of action. He seems to be an anomaly even in their eyes, or at least some kind of fascinating case for someone's future thesis, because of his inability to regain his full movement despite how hard he has worked the last four months.
Is it a scar tissue problem?
Did this all actually start 20 years ago after a bad car accident he had?
Could the problem have been building even before that? A bad football injury in high school? Hundreds of repetitive shoulder movements throwing a baseball during Little League?
An excruciatingly painful "dry needle" treatment last week seemed to show that the muscle in his arm was balled up so tight that it had basically stopped working since the injury seven months ago that sent him to the doctor.
Anyway, even the doctor said he was expecting the worst when he saw my husband's name on the patient list Tuesday.
I was in a different meeting during the appointment, but wanted to jump out of my seat when Capable Dad sent me this text:
"The end is near."
Could it be? The doctor was actually happy with his progress! He was NOT recommending a second surgery!
We couldn't believe it! We are so thankful to the many, many people who have prayed for him the past four weeks and the past seven months. This truly was not the result we expected, so we know God has been working!
The plan now is to continue his therapy at home, but reduce his visits to the PT office to twice a week for about six more weeks. Even though he still has limited range of motion in one area, he seems to be regaining a lot of flexibility and strength in the other directions. The doctor will check him again in six weeks, but he was pleasantly surprised with his progress.
Most people don't regain much more movement after the four-month mark. If that were the case, he might never regain his golf swing. Might not ever be able to pitch a baseball. He would be limited in his ability to shoots hoops with the boys.
Our prayer now is that he will regain that movement. Although those things are all very minor in the whole scheme of life, they are all things that he enjoys. And God has showed us that he can continue to work in ways that seem medically improbable.
It's crazy when I stop to think that this whole journey began seven months ago when we were working on rearranging our basement to clean out a ton of junk and make a nice space for our 11-year-old to hang out. My husband was carrying an armload of big work manuals when he tripped and the books jammed into his shoulder.
During the last two weeks, I have spent most of my free time back in the basement working on that long-lost project. I have been clearing out junk, cleaning and painting. Last night, my husband joined me in the basement to help me put together some storage units as I FINALLY finished up the project.
For the first time in many months, he held a power tool in his right hand and helped me put together some shelves. It was something I had seen him do many, many times during our marriage. And yet this time it was so special.
We had come full circle. We could see life returning to how it used to be.
It's been a long journey. But for the first time we could say it: The end is near.
We couldn't visit St. Louis without going to see the Gateway Arch. The great thing about hanging out with my friend, Kelly, is that we are both equally obsessed with taking photos. So, when exploring a place as photogenic as the Arch, we didn't have to constantly beg each other to stop to shoot a photo.
The Arch is a study in angles. It seems to curve and rotate as it stretches into the sky. Figuring out how to get the best photo was a puzzle we were determined to solve.
We walked around it. We laid on our backs. We walked away from it to look from a distance.
We had a certain photo in mind that we kept trying to figure out how to compose. No matter what we did, that photo never seemed to materialize. Finally, we took a walk through town, and when we headed back toward the parking garage, we saw a clue.
A man and woman were standing in a big open space in front of the Arch. He had his arms stretched into the sky, and she was looking up at him with her camera. We knew exactly what they were doing! We asked to see the photo on their digital camera, and they showed us just the photo we had been trying all day to create.
Looking at him from a distance, he just looked like a strange person with his arms up in the air. But through the camera lens, held at the right angle, he looked like he was holding the Arch.
We rounded up our boys and got them to start posing. It was interesting to me that all day we had wanted to take this funny photo. However, I was convinced that the key was to figure out how to make the person pose in just the right spot.
First, Kelly and I took turns standing just where the man had been standing and holding our arms just like he had his. But when I looked through my lens to take a photo, all I could see was Kelly with her arms up high and the Arch way off in the distance.
A kneeled down farther. I changed my angle. I looked up, and it started coming into view! I moved myself slightly to the right, then to the left. Finally, she was holding the Arch!
Getting that photo really wasn't as much about the subject as it was the photographer.
Soon, five or six other groups of people were gathering on the lawn. They all held their arms up high or pretended to lean. Even though people were all around us, no one was in our way. People could stand in different spots to the right, to the left, in front of us, and behind us. No matter where they stood, they were able to take the same photo without interfering with one another because everyone's camera was pointed at such a sharp angle upward.
Photographing the Arch reminded me of so many challenges I have faced in my life this year. At 630 feet in the air, the massive Arch doesn't change.
But depending on my perspective, it can look like this:
Or like this:
It is amazing how something can look so different based on how I choose to view it. It's strange how you can look at the exact same thing one time and then years later it can look so different. It's interesting to me that you can look at a situation and see what you want to see.
This has been true for me in so many ways recently:
For example, sending my kids to school looks completely different to me in many ways after I have home schooled them for three years.
Enjoying an hour to myself is a treasure that I don't take for granted after having four children.
Going for a short bike ride with my husband is a gift after watching him go through intense physical therapy for four months.
Spending a few days with friends is a blessing after they have moved 900 miles away.
Sometimes I have to kneel down and change my angle to see what I need to see. It's not always the situation that needs to change. It's my perspective.
I've been having a big philosophical discussion with myself lately about portraits. I know this is totally normal, and lots of other people have been talking to themselves about photography lately, as well. It's been getting a little boring to talk to myself in my head, so I wanted to bring my internal conflict to the blog to find out if maybe, just maybe, anyone else in the blogosphere might happen to have an opinion. (Or not.)
You all know I really love to take photos. I'm trying to teach myself to use my camera and take better photos. And I'm trying to do this without breaking down and actually taking a photography class.
I go on web sites and blogs and Pinterest, and I look at photos taken by professional photographers. I study the angles that they use and the background and the way people pose. And then I practice. I take photos of people and dogs and random animals. I drive my family crazy begging them to let me take just one more photo.
Lately, I decided to just focus on taking close-up portraits. Maybe if I can master this one type of photo, I can move on to shooting the whole body or maybe even shooting two people at once! My 50 mm lens makes it easy to take an amazing close-up shot. But I have not even come close to figuring out how to use it more than three feet away from the subject.
I love looking at wedding photos and graduation photos and baby photos taken by professional photographers. But I've always been mystified by how they make the eyes so bright and vibrant.
Well, until a few weeks ago.
I really haven't spent much time, nor do I know much about photo editing. I usually crop my photos in iPhoto and enhance the color and occasionally add a special effect. Once in a while, I will take the time to edit a photo with Photoshop 5 and really play around with the color, contrast and lighting.
But a few weeks ago, I remembered that I got a free copy of Photoshop Elements with a purchase we made. I loaded it onto my computer, and that is when my complete photo editing obsession began!
While the full version of Photoshop can do so much more than Photoshop Elements, PE makes it so simple to edit your photos step by step. It has a feature called "the perfect portrait."
With a click of a button, you can smooth out the skin. You can remove blemishes. Add eyelashes. Brighten the eyes. You can even "slim" the subject! My favorite feature is adding a glow. The only way I can describe the glow is that it makes the photo look like it's in a magazine. Here is a photo of my son with a bit of a glow.
I started going crazy with "the perfect portrait" setting. And that's when my conflict began. There's so much controversy right now about models who are airbrushed and Photoshopped in magazines. I started realizing I was doing the same thing.
When people pay someone to take their photo, they do want it to look somewhat "perfect." But how high should that standard be?
I mainly shoot photos to preserve my family's memories. I also like to try to take photos that are decent enough I can frame a few of them and save money on going to the portrait studio. But am I really preserving a memory if I have brightened someone's eyes to the point they are an unnatural color? It's one thing to remove a blemish on the face, but should I really erase a beauty mark or freckles?
I feel like it's OK to boost the color or adjust the contrast. But how many extra eyelashes are too many? And do I really want a photo that includes a person who was Photoshopped in later?
I guess part of the answer rests in whether the photo is meant to capture a memory or create a piece of artwork. I do love playing with PE, and I'm hoping to learn a lot more about it this summer. But I promise to go easy on slimming someone's waistline, altering their eye color and smoothing out the skin.
I would love to hear what you think about this topic! Does anyone else out there practice taking photos? What do you use to edit them? And do you think you can enhance your photos too much?
Here are a few other portraits I've taken lately (without much editing).