Friday, December 31, 2010

Parting Gifts from 2010

Should old acquaintance be forgot...?

I never really understood the meaning of that song. In truth, I never really understood the WORDS to that song. If it's asking whether we should leave our past behind as we move forward into the New Year, my answer would be "not necessarily". Without dwelling on the past, I feel justified drawing from it.

Today, I reflect on the last 12 months of gifts - brought to me courtesy of the Epic Year 2010.

2010 brought me home. Home to my mother. Home to a family I didn't realize was so sorely missed. 2010 brought me to tears. Feelings of loss. Of pain. 2010 brought me to my knees. Praying to the Lord for His guidance and strength. Giving thanks for His love, mercy, and favor. 2010 brought me to my feet. Cheering for my amazing kids. Standing up for myself. Standing up for what is right. 2010 brought me to my senses. Revealed. Renewed. Restored. 2010 brought me out. My circumstances no longer binding me. Free to explore my God-given talents.

They say the present is a gift. I am grateful for the gifts of the past.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Very Obama Christmas

I didn't take any chances this time. My purse remained obediently in the car. My camera was strapped around my neck like a tourist. The camera bag remained obediently in the car. There was no way I was going to risk delaying my latest tour of the White House to see - and photograph - it at its very Christmas-y finest.

It did not disappoint. From the moment we stepped onto the grounds, through the halls, in every room - the beauty of The Season was breathtaking.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jesus Take The Wheel

Make a U-Turn if possible.

This, the urging of my navigation system (I've dubbed her "Navi") if for some reason I veer off of her chartered course. She has never steered me wrong. Even when it came down to her or me during our 2009 road trip to Disneyland...even when I think I know better, she is programmed with the insight I just don't have.

I like to think God is a lot like that. I take comfort in it. He has chartered a plan for our lives. And if we listen to Him, we can't go wrong. All of His maps are instantly, constantly updated. He keeps track of all road conditions and on-going construction. And he adjusts our direction accordingly.

He gives us Free Will. We can opt out of His path. Choose our own way. Find ourselves stranded, out of gas, and in a bad neighborhood.

I'm thankful for the "resume route" option on my GPS. One touch to the screen and no matter where I find myself, Navi will reroute me. Recalculate the directions and tell me the most efficient way to my destination.

God is that type of God. And prayer is the key to resuming the route if we get ourselves off course. It's actually the way to stay on course. If we just stop trying to do things our way and let Jesus take the wheel, we'll get where we need to be. Not that there won't be bumps in the road or unexpected pit stops, tire blowouts, or inclement weather. By knowing - accepting - that God is control, we can sit back, relax, and take in a little scenery along the way.

Destination ahead.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do You See What I See?

So I put it off long enough. Holiday Photo Shoot 2010 was actually a success. Our New Year's cards are ordered (the "Christmas Card" ship has sailed).

Despite my initial apprehension, the kids (read: ISAIAH) cooperated. And before I could morph into Shutterbugzilla, the deed was done. The result is a holiday card I am totally delighted with.

Here are some nuggets that didn't make the cut this year, but still prove what a fun and lovable bunch o' Brownies I have.

The look on his face = something is about to get set OFF


My beauties

You know it's a fun shoot when ornaments start sticking to clothing

Naughtiness was afoot

"Lalalalalala! Can't hear you, Mommy. The shoot is OVER."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beautiful Butterfly

"MyYaYa", my middle cub, turns 11 years-old today. I have learned so much from her. Most importantly ~ how to laugh. She is a riot. And always has been.

Happy Birthday, Sweetness. Watching you transform into the beautiful young lady you are has been a blessing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Suddenly, my days are shorter. By stark contrast, my "To Do" list is growing longer. I've had several false starts with Blogging lately.

So, I'm going to call this *ahem*...

Stuff That Happened When I Wasn't Blogging.

Thanksgiving was beautiful. It was the first time in several years that I was able to sit down at my mother's impeccably set table, feeling awful thankful to be together this year.

Isaiah's Knob Saga is finally, blissfully resolved. After contacting the company directly, Andrew (AKA: my Knight in Shining Armor) came through. He UPS'd not only The Knob, but replacement tires, a new "H" harness, tools for installation, and instructions ~ free of charge. Didn't even ask for our insurance. Other companies could learn a lot from this.

The Infamous Knob

Fall weather is definitely here to stay, with winter licking cold at its heels. Today the temperature dropped 20 degrees in 2 hours. J has been scouring the neighborhood for free firewood. And with two fireplaces to fuel, I'll take what we can get.

Too bad we can't chop up the trees in our yard. They were gorgeous as the leaves changed...

...but J and the kids must have blown and raked up 4.5 million bags of leaves.

And alas, my new camera lens has arrived. Haven't had the chance to really break it in yet. But I think I am already in love.

But please don't hold your breath for that Perfect Christmas Card Photo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mrs. Roada Rage

On the morning of October 6, 1995 - the day of my wedding rehearsal and just before my manicure - I received my very first driver's license. (Psst: to this day, I have a spotless driving record!)

I had my driving permit since I was 15 plus some odd months, but I wasn't one of those kids who just HAD to get her license the second she turned 16. Maybe I was lazy. Or maybe it's because I had an older sister who drove. Or maybe because my mom thought I was too "flighty" to be trusted behind the wheel. For whatever reason, driving didn't rank high on my priority list during my teen years.

After I graduated from college, my mother bought me a car. Hey, I can take a hint. So I decided to take lessons. Real driving lessons. Elderly Mr. J from Sears Driving School (yes, in some ways I did get my license from Sears), would pick me up once a week and teach me everything I needed to know to pass the state driver's test. We parallel parked--complete with cones and flags. And Day 1, he had me out on I-495...white-knuckling it, I might add. It took 15 years for me to try THAT again.

In between our close calls, Mr. J and I talked. Mostly about Dr. Laura. Mr. J enjoyed listening to her show, so many of our conversations centered around whatever she had been discussing.

What Mr. J could not have prepared me for was the bevy of bad drivers that exist in the real world. Being a new driver of a particular age gave me an advantage in some ways. For one thing, I had a degree of maturity on my side. Nothing is worse than a young, inexperienced, careless, hothead. Unless it's a rude driver. They bring out the worst in me. One minute I am happily singing along to "Wait on the Lord"; the next, I lose my religion. Don't know why I let them get to me.

Didn't realize the extend of my "problem" until one day on the way to school, I heard a little voice from the backseat, "What happened to make you mad, Auntie Sharon?" In that moment, I realized how ridiculous it was for me to give away all my power and composure to idiots on the road. So I'm trying not to take any of it personally. And I'm also trying to refrain from calling them "idiots". But they make it so hard.


*What Would Dr. Laura Do?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Presidential Pardon

Apparently, all is forgiven for what I did the last time I was at the White House.

Next month, J and I will be attending a Holiday Open House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And they are allowing photography--something that was verboten on our last tour. That alone is worth a TSA-style pat down.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Photo Carnival "Pick"-Ture

Today I am participating in a Photo Carnival over at Love That Max.

"The Littlest Heroes Project" photographer, Trina Gueck, spent the afternoon of Isaiah's 5th birthday getting to know him. She worked her magic capturing the very essence of my sweet boy in her photography. It's not hard to see why I picked this as my favorite.

See how she caught all that mischief? That head cocked to the side? That infectious grin? All Zaiah. And that independence. Isaiah was learning to walk. See how he's not holding on to the handles on his walker? Eight weeks after this picture was taken, Isaiah let go of that walker for good and stepped out on his own and hasn't looked back. From this photo's perspective, I'm able to see Isaiah as his own person ~ literally a separate, but equally valuable part of our family.

And we are all still here. Standing behind him. Cheering him on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Deck the Halls...or Me

Christmas Card Photo Panic 2010 has commenced.

New year, same scenario. It's officially that time of year when I realize I have to get the perfect picture for our family Christmas card. Or the world will come to an end. When I make my usually tolerant children crazy with my demands to sit next to each other and smile. Again. And again.

Last year, I let myself off the hook, so to speak. Instead of one perfect card, I decided to do two versions: "Naughty" and "Nice". I never got THE perfect shot, so I just capitalized on what I was able to capture.

I need a new plan. It's just all so stressful. Need proof? Here are some outtakes from last year's Photo Shoot:

OK....who farted?

I'm outta here.

Just where do you think you're going?

I know you aren't TOUCHING me.

Come baaaaaaack...

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Year #2 in Review

The second anniversary of Three Chocolate Brownies just passed.

Gotta say, I had no idea I would cover such a wide variety of topics over the course of the last 12 months. Our epic cross-country move. Heartbreaking marital woes. Self-discovery. Reconnecting with my extended family. Elation in Isaiah's negative test results. Pride in my uber Brownies' accomplishments. Renewed faith.

If you have followed us from the start, thanks for hanging in there. If you are new to The Blog, hang on for the ride ~ I have a feeling it's just getting good.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Hallowon't

I seem to have gotten a head start on getting my "Scrooge" on this year. I have done NOTHING for Halloween ~ save a trip to Wal-Mart for candy yesterday.(True story: Mariah actually lost a tooth in a caramel apple a classmate's mom brought in yesterday. Sigh of relief that 1. it was a baby tooth and 2. it was already loose). Usually by now, I would have pumpkin patched, decorated, stitched together a costume or two, and be doing reconnaissance for trick-or-treating. Not this year, though. Zay went to his Literacy Parade Friday dressed like the first grader he is every day. I'm just not feelin' it. Maybe it's the pressure of this being our first Halloween in this house. Maybe it's because the kids are getting older. Maybe it's because I am in denial at how this year seems to be slipping away. In denial at how soon it will be Thanksgiving. And then Christmas. And then 2011.

Bah hallowbug.

In a last ditch effort at enthusiasm, I took the kids out to a local park/farm for some fresh, crisp air and sunshine. Not exactly a pumpkin patch--in fact I only saw two actual pumpkins there--but it was calm place to take in some autumn beauty.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Pop.

Today is my father's birthday. If he hadn't passed away 2 years ago, he would be turning 66 years-old.

Days like today, Father's Day, and the anniversary of his death give me pause. My siblings and I stop whatever we are doing and check on each other. Comfort each other. Encourage each other. And we laugh. Oh how we laugh. Our father provided us with some First Class, Grade A comical moments ~ with the most classic being at his very own expense.

Hey Pop, remember that time at Denny's when Jacoby got a hold of your glasses...?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Baby Fever

Today I found out another friend of mine is expecting. Add her to the ever-growing (no pun intended) list of friends having babies next year. I share in their elation with every announcement. And then, inexplicably, I'm startled and ashamed by my own feelings of envy.

Let's face it: I'm 38 years-old. I have not one, not two, but THREE children. Not only that, but my youngest has special needs. I've been changing his diapers for 6 years--with no end in sight.

And yet, I am not immune to Baby Fever. It's not as though I want another child. My family is complete, as far as I know. It has to be a purely "pregnancy/baby" thing. Unlike some women, I loved being pregnant. Even dealing with polyhydramnios and hospitalization, I would do it all over again.

Oh the wonder of it all. The flutter of the first movements. The pregnancy glow. The attention that belly commands. That literal bond with the unborn baby. I'll never forget the first time I heard my babies cry. I was amazed at my seemingly innate ability to identify their cries in a crowd of wailing infants.

And I'll never forget the first time I held them. With Isaiah, it happened a day after he was born(he was whisked away in the delivery room and transferred to a different hospital. I could only touch his leg through one of the portals of the transport incubator).

I remember the NICU nurse undoing his wires and handing him to me. I remember holding him gently and kissing his face over and over again....whispering into his tiny ear how much I missed Mommy was here he was going to be all right.

Sometimes, I find myself holding him like that all over again--his (now) long legs dangling down near mine. It's in those moments that I can't help but kiss his face like I did on that day I first held him. All over his forehead. Both cheeks. On that recessed chin. On that special place on the bridge of his nose between his wide set eyes. He tolerates it for the most part. Smiles and leans into it---anticipating. But when he's had enough, he's gone like a shot. In search of mischief and adventure like most kids his age.

I guess that's why, at least in my case, Baby Fever is so strong. In those moments, I know why I was put on this Earth.

But if there is anything close to a remedy for Baby Fever, I'd put my money on a borrowed, colicky 3 week-old.

Or a sassy 10 year-old.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Falling for Fall

Today is gorgeous. Rewind 48 hours and you would have thought God had broken His promise and was going to, indeed, destroy the world with water again. The sun is shining now and there's just enough crispness in the air to know that autumn is here to stay. Although, I did have to turn on the A/C briefly last week. So to recap, fall is here ~ unless we get back up into the freakish 80+ degree range anytime soon.

Last weekend, we took advantage of the picture-perfect temps and took the kids down to National Harbor. It was less crowded than the summer months and therefore much more enjoyable. From the charming restaurants, to the picturesque pier jutting out into the Potomac, to the glorious grounds and gardens of the Gaylord Hotel ~ it was a treat for the senses.

This particular batch of pictures was taken prior to "The Event". And I don't mean that new T.V. show with Blair Underwood. My event involved my precious camera.

I handed it over to one of my daughters in order to get a picture of my standing on a rock. Sounds lame now, but trust me--it was going to be epic. What I failed to do was secure the strap around her neck. So when my skittish child was suddenly swarmed by yet-to-be-identified insects, my camera took a dive--lens first--straight to the concrete below it.

My shriek startled even me.

Nominate me for Mother-of-the-Year now because YES: I scooped up and cradled my Canon before even thinking to check my child for harm. My camera and I just celebrated our 1st anniversary together (J bought it for our wedding anniversary last year ~ our 15th anniversary just passed). We had it insured, but its demise never crossed my mind.

Upon further investigation (and a consult with both J's "camera guy" and a geek working at Best Buy), it was determined that the connection between the lens and body was compromised in the fall. One of the connectors on the lens is chipped. I get an error message after every single shot. I can't so much as review the images or take another picture without turning the camera off and back on. Not exactly ideal shooting conditions for a shutterbug like myself.

Soooo, it looks like Mama will be getting a new lens. I have been considering an upgraded lens for a while, but just not seriously. Until now.

Oh and you'd better believe I'll be trading in one of my kids for a really good tripod.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

About a Boy and a Ball

Watch out, Donovan McNabb.