Wednesday, September 29, 2010

College DaZe past and present through rust-colored glasses

I love this time of year (even if I did sound a bit melancholy in my last post).  And I love this time of year in Corvallis!  The leaves are all turning from their lush greens to vibrant shades of yellow, red, orange and brown.  The mornings are cool and crisp (and eventually the days will be also...hello what was it, like 90 degrees today?!). 
One thing I don't particularly love about this time of year (living in a college town) is when the students come back. 
I remember overhearing an elderly woman say something to the effect of, "I love this town...until the students come back!"  That comment fell on a young and vulnerable college students ears...and I was incensed!  How dare she talk about all of us wonderful ADULTS like we are here to mess up HER town!
Fast forward 13 years...
And I heard myself remark to a friend, "You can always tell the week the students return.  They're rude, they're everywhere and they're LOUD!" 
It's official folks, I HAVE BECOME THAT OLD LADY!  So I thought it would be appropriate to take a trip back in time and remember what it was like to BE one of those rowdy college kids...
This very week 13 years ago our car rumbled to a stop outside of Finley Hall on the Oregon State University campus.  It was a warm day...much warmer than the coast.  I was feeling super-cute with my shoulder-length bob and chunky blonde highlights.  I pushed my black sunglasses off of my eyes and onto my head (because it made my hair look even cuter!) and eyed the enormous hall across from us.  It was SO awesome!  There were cute boys EVERYWHERE I looked!  My mom, dad and I all loaded our arms full of my most important possessions (ya know, like, curling irons, make up, hair products, clothes) and walked through the double front doors and into the foyer.  I couldn't believe this was real...and as soon as I had my stuff unloaded my parents were going to leave (sorry mom, I was mildly excited about that) and I was going to begin life as an ADULT! 
My enthusiasm was shattered when we strode up to the elevator (arms already beginning to shake from exhaustion) and found that it was OUR OF ORDER!  Oh, this is the part where I mention my dorm room was #731...that's right on the SEVENTH FLOOR!  It didn't get any higher than that! 
We spent the next couple of hours hauling stuff up those stairs, unloading as much as possible (to make room for my roommate's stuff), running (let's face it, I walked) back downstairs and doing it all over again.  I SO did NOT look cute after all of that exercise!  It was during our escapades that my roommate arrived and we all helped each other with the last few loads.  I had the best roommate (I'm sure SHE didn't feel the same way)! 

Side note: My dear friend, Shirey (NOT ShirLey - rhymes with bouquet) and I had grown up together (along with Amber and Stephanie who would room together right next door to us).  I loved having such good friends around me at such a scary/exciting time in my life.  In hindsight, I probably would not room with people I know again because other people in the dorm viewed us as an already-formed group (clique-ish) and it was hard to make friends.  But I wouldn't trade the adventures we had for anything...hear that ladies...ANY.THING!

Whew, where was I?  Oh yes...the dorms.  We would learn soon enough that the Finley Hall elevator was notoriously out of order!  Sometimes I would come back from class for a short break before the next one, see that the elevator was out and turn around and leave (or hang out in the lounge for a bit).  Yep, I'm that lazy
So we got all of our stuff unloaded and I said goodbye to my parents.  That was hard.  I was caught somewhere between not wanting them to go and wanting them to hurry up and go so I could begin my adult life (what a dork - yeah, we said dork back then, too)!  Shirey, Amber, Steph and I spent some time unpacking, then headed out to explore the campus. 
There were all kinds of activities going on.  People were everywhere!  They were going to show a movie in the quad that night (can not remember what it was...getting old) and there was a big buzz about Rush Week.  I saw all of these sorority girls and fraternity boys in their matchy-matchy shirts and laughed and made fun of them.  Who wants to be a sheep and look the same and do whatever everyone else is doing anyway?  Well, the truth is I did.  I wanted to be a part of a college family and do fun things and look cute all the time!  But, I was afraid I wouldn't be accepted and I didn't bother to try (an oft repeated theme in my life)...so I guess I'll never know, will I?  Dumb.  Don't be dumb like I was...you young people that may be reading this.  If you want to try something worthwhile (even just a little bit to see what it's like), then DO IT!  I, of course, am talking about good activities...not stupid things that can harm you and/or destroy your future, got it?   

Ok...lost my train of thought again...oh yes, the dorms.  I can't possibly talk about our first days in Finley Hall without mentioning Tim Hillman (am I right girls?).  He was our RA (resident assistant, and the nicest, funniest person you could ever meet) and boy did we all swoon over him.  Yeah, and we used cool words like "swoon"...ok, no we didn't, but to say that we fell all over ourselves to get his attention and giggled like little school girls in his company is embarrassing...so I won...oh. Never mind.  Wonder what ever happened to him...I think I'll look him up on Facebook.
Side note: I totally just found him on facebook! 
Yeah, so...it was pretty good being an oblivious the-world-revolves-around-me college girl.  I think I'll cut them some slack then next time one of them cuts me off in traffic...or yells obscenities to their "buddies" across the grocery store.  Hmmm...maybe not.

Anywho, please enjoy the following photoshoot!  I call it, rust-colored glasses: (can you tell what Avonleigh's all-time favorite outfit is? Trust me, you'll be seein' it a lot!)
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Um...can you say Mini Boden?

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

School DaZe 2010

I really was thinking that I had already posted "back to school" photos...but I was thinking of the Back to school feast post!  Oops!  So this is going to be a photo post...lots and lots of photos (it's for the family). Enjoy!

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Our morning did not go as planned, and well, we were late. I know, lame!  All of the school clothes that were ordered came late (like, the day after school started).  Awesome.  The kids were really good-natured and made the best of it.  I think they looked so cute!  I mean, er, handsome, son.  Handsome.

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My handsome boy...who did NOT want his picture taken (especially right outside the school doors...after the bell had rung). Love you!

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My sweet Peanut!  Always happy to smile for the camera (as I was chasing her down the hall...see below).

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Heading to her classroom

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I turned to leave and barely caught this sweet moment...I LOVE her teacher!

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And this is as close as I got to Christopher's classroom.  Yeah...he's in 4th grade, and well, mom coming into the classroom on the first day was not on his "ok" list.


 
Then the younger kids and I headed out to the playground for the welcome back mingle.
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Payton must have eaten at least 10 doughnuts (donuts...is there a right way?  My OCD brain wants to write it "dough" because that's how you spell it!)!

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Avonleigh enjoyed the doUGHnuts as well.  Sorry, sometimes I can't help myself.

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Zeke wasn't having such a good time, so we didn't stay long.  It was a great morning, though!

Avonleigh's first day!  Kindergarten starts later than the other kids.  It kinda stunk for her...she wanted to GO!
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Avonleigh and her bestest buddy, Sheepie

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Cute friends!

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Down the hall they go

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Chris stayed home with Zeke so I could go and document (it's what I do!) Avonleigh's first day.  So after we dropped her off, I took Payton out to the playground for a little fun time!  I couldn't resist a quick shot of that cute tush before I put the camera down and pushed her on the swing. 

My babies are growing up and it makes me want to sob/shout for joy/pull out my hair, all at the same time!  I love that they are getting to experience life away from home, and honestly, I enjoy the bit of quiet time I get to spend with the younger kids; but to see them grow out of their clothes and reach milestones that I remember reaching as a child, kinda makes me frantic to stop time.  In my mind, my youngest child (baby) can't possibly be 19 months old!  I just had him...I was just nursing him...I still have the baby weight to prove it, dang it! 
Stop!  All of you! 
Nobody move and nobody gets hurt (especially me)! 
And, yet, I know it can not be. 
 So I will choose to love every phase as they continue on in their journeys...I just wish I didn't loose pieces of me along the way.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thank you for the music

I hate being sick.  Hate.  Abhor.  Despise.  You get the picture.  And it's really sad to watch your babies get sick.  Well, as most of you have already read (via Facebook or Twitter), our family has been sick for nearly two weeks.  Two. very. long. weeks.  I was the last to fall.  But now that I am on my way to mending, I'm able to do some of the things that I couldn't do when said sickness set in.
I lost my voice for 4 days.  I can't even think of a time when I've been without a voice for that long.  I had to change the way I communicated with the children, I couldn't answer the phone (or make phone calls...just ask the office lady at the kids' school) and sadly, I couldn't sing.  In our house (or car) hardly an hour goes by without music coming from somewhere...the computer, the ipod, the piano, kids singing, me singing...it's everywhere, and we like it that way!  Well, one of the most frustrating things for me, while in whisper-mode, was remembering NOT to sing along with the music around me.  Torture, I tell ya!
Today, after I picked up the older kids from school and we all rode in the car cranking Mamma Mia!, I sang a few lines - scratchy, but hopeful.  And I thought of how grateful I am for the gift of music, and so happy that our kids have inherited that love as well! 
Avonleigh piped up from the back seat with, "Hey Mom! You can almost sing again!" 
Almost...but certainly the music will return soon enough.  And I can be patient.  Now about this cough...

This was the perfect song for my mood today (Mamma Mia! Soundtrack):

Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me...


A few shots I took of my sweet baby boy...growing MUCH too fast!  I could eat him up. breakfast. lunch. AND dinner!  The moon was pretty spectacular tonight too.
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Couldn't resist...a must-hear (not the original, but love her voice)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A farewell to Summer 2010 and help find Jacob Myers

The last weekend before school started was absolutely beautiful and we wanted to take full advantage!  Chris was in Texas visiting his wonderful Aunt and Uncle, so my mom came up from Florence to play with us! 
We went to the Saturday Farmer's Market and took in all of the glorious sights, sounds and smells.  Have I mentioned my love of this city called Corvallis? LOVE it.  We indulged in fresh-squeezed lemonade with honey.  We watched the vendors pack up their booths and put away the array of the freshest fruits and vegetables that didn't make it into someones cloth shopping bag.  And then the enticing smell of warm yeast wafted our way and we were led like horses to water right through the doors of Great Harvest Bread Co.

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The colors are so beautiful inside the store! Grandma got the kids matching Beaver shirts.
We heart Grandma.

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As soon as Avonleigh sees my camera, this is the pose she goes into.  Relax, kid!  But she's so darn cute, that I have to take her picture anyway!  I have a billion of her doing this exact pose.  Really.

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And Payton Jean, so quick-moving, it's hard to get a descent shot of her!  So I held a shortbread cookie above her head...a momtographer's gotta do what a momtographer's gotta do.

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And Mr. Dude - he had it made: sitting back in his sweet ride, sipping organic honey lemonade and munching on buttery shortbread cookies.

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But there was that one time that he got out of the wagon.  He was fascinated with the water he could hear and see running through the drain below him.

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It was hot and we were having a great time, so we let the kids run through the fountain in their clothes. 

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And this.  This was heartbreaking.  We saw a few of these on our walk along the riverfront.  I don't know who this kid is, but I felt the need to take this photo.  My mom and I talked about the various reasons the messages were written, etc.  A few days later, I noticed a MISSING poster outside the bathrooms at Safeway (on Circle Blvd).  This boy is only 15 years old and he ran away from a substance abuse program here in Corvallis.  His family is searching for him and desperately wants him home
I couldn't find any information online about his case, but I figured in this smallish community getting his name out there might help, somewhat.  He's Caucasian.  He has an average build, dark brown (shaggyish) hair and I think brown eyes.  Skater-type clothing in the picture.

Remember when you were a kid and you did [insert worst thing here]?  And you thought nothing could be worse and you knew you were in so much trouble?  Yeah, I remember.  I'm sure that's what Jacob is feeling right now.  "I've really messed up and it would be better if I just left."  Don't do it Jacob.  Life does go on...some day you really will look back on stupid things you did and realize that it all turned out alright.  Good luck, my friend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back to School Feast 2010

We borrowed this idea from the beautiful and inspiring Stephanie Nielson (Nie Nie).  Our family has been doing a back to school feast for the last couple of years.  As I was in the process of planning this years' feast, I received a phone call from my darling friend, Katie.  She had also been carrying on this tradition with her own family, so she decided that we should combined our efforts (but not really, because she did all the work!) and have one BIG feast!  It was awesome (except for my honey not being there)!


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The hostess with the mostest!  Isn't she lovely?  Love her style!

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The delectable spread: Prime rib, Grilled salmon, Sauteed veggies, Grilled asparagus, Pasta salad, Green salad, Fresh-picked berries, Great Harvest bread and butter, Organic sparkling cider.  For dessert: Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and VaNIElla cake with buttercream frosting.

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Fabulous company: President Sherry and Christopher

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The ever-gracious, Ann Sherry putting on Laethym's crown
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Christopher and Frog Prince...cute buddies!

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Potato sack races!
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Three-legged races

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Payton and Boy - she kept holding a "cell phone" up to his ear so he could talk...to whom I don't know!  So cute!

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She was fascinated with roasting the marshmallows

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'Smore anyone?

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President Sherry lassoing Avonleigh

It was such a fabulous evening!  Thank you, Carleski's!  Their family theme was "giving thanks in all things" and I think it's something that we all should be mindful of.

We celebrated our family mini-feast and unveiling of the Zahlmann Family Theme when Chris came home from Texas (the night before school started).

And our 2010 theme is: "OBEDIENCE IN EVERYTHING" (not just when it's easy or convenient - this includes LISTENING the FIRST time)

"If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures."
Job 36:11

Stay tuned for first days of school...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blue Lily GoPro Workshop, Salt Lake City Day 2 (Part 3)

Part of me really hoped that if I put off writing this final installment of my trip, that somehow, I can pretend it's not really over.  Have you ever slept so soundly that you wake up in the exact position that you fell asleep in?  I truly can't remember the last time I slept like that...but in the Party House...oh boy did I sleep well! 

I woke up Saturday morning to the beautiful Utah sun (a stark contrast from the dark, cloudy abyss the night before).  It was going to be a fabulous day!  Everyone arrived back at the Party House that morning and we were out the door by 9am; heading to the heart of down town Salt Lake where we would meet up with our adorable wedding couple and 2 families.  Since you've already seen the wedding couple here, you'll get a sneak peak at one of our beautiful families below. 

We spent an hour or so following around the bride and groom; posing them, yelling at them to "look over here", and moving them around to several different locations in down town.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN!  They were very natural and with their own wedding just a few weeks away, totally and completely smitten with one another (it was actually yesterday! congrats Jared and Trisha!!)! 

Our first family arrived (all cute-like!) and we watched Wendy and Tyler do a session with them.  It was very cool to see how the dynamic duo works - so fast and efficiently, but it doesn't feel rushed.  They really do have it down to a science - a beautiful, art-filled science.  As they finished up with their demonstration, the next family arrived to be our guinea pigs!  I really was so impressed with how well these kiddos did - can you imagine having 14 photographers all around you and shouting out orders (I hope people didn't really feel like we were shouting at them, but just trying to coerce them into doing what we wanted!)?  It was such a treat!  The weather was gorgeous, the people were gorgeous and I felt like I had a good opportunity to tap into my creative juices! 

As the day wore on, that sun beat down on us and it got hot!  We were all really tired/hungry/thirsty, so we said goodbye to our wonderful models and headed back to the Party House.  Once again, Shayna had arranged our catered lunch and she did not disappoint!  I wish I could remember the name of the deli/bakery, but my brain is fried!  Let me just say that they served one of the best sandwiches I have ever had!  Yum, yum, yum...now I want one. 

After a nice lunch, we gathered, once again, at the conference-like table and had more learning/discussion time.  We spent most of the afternoon working on Photoshop/Lightroom/Bridge/ACR stuff and got some stellar editing tips and ideas (not to mention some homemade actions from the BL team)! 

Then we got to play around with some studio lighting.  I would have loved to have done more of this!  It was really cool to try out and tweak - oh, and did I mention that we had like 6 cutie kids come over to the house and be our models for it?  They were soooo adorable!  I think the oldest one was maybe 4?  And to make the kids laugh we had to use "potty words" (such as 'bum' and 'poopie' - what were you thinking?!) per their mothers' suggestion.  So funny!  I didn't get a lot of studio time and with so many of us, the kids were done before too long!  I will definitely be working more on indoor lighting techniques...so be on the lookout!

Ahhh, this day went by way too fast (the whole trip went by way too fast)!  It ended with everyone back at the conference table, exchanging contact information and critiquing each others blogs and photos from our shoots.  I loved these people - every one of them.  Such great people to know.  Tyler gave a heart-felt send off to all of us (just ask his tear ducts...I'm just sayin').  Nobody really wanted to leave, and some of us were still staying another night in the house before taking off Sunday morning in our separate directions. 

So we made a night out of it.  Remember what it was like in college - to go out to eat with friends and have an absolute blast hanging out.  Then you come home and play silly games and talk all night?  Yeah, that's what we did.  It was the best!  We started out with dinner at The Pie Pizzeria in South Jordan.  The cheese pull-aparts?  I die.  So good!  There was 8 of us (Me, Wendy, Tyler, Shayna, Melissa, Jamie, Katie and Stephanie), and we were an unruly bunch - lots of laughing (some crying), thoughts on the workshop and bad Mormon jokes.  It was after dinner that Melissa and Jamie took off and the rest of us went back to the Party House.  Tyler challenged Wendy, Katie, Stephanie, Shayna and I to a game of H.O.R.S.E in the mini b-ball court downstairs.  OH. MY. HECK.  A 3 hour game ensued which pretty much ended with everyone nearly peeing their pants (Bunny-hop Shayna, Stephanie from outside the gym door, me laying on the ground backwards and making it, Katie and Tyler - 'nuf said).  I was in pain from laughing so much!

Tyler is an early riser, so he crashed after our game.  Shayna took off to her hubby (lucky local).  April and Niki came back from their photo trip to the Great Salt Lake, and we all hung out for another hour or so.  It was fun to exchange favorite blogs and discuss other photographers.  When everyone else had trickled off to bed, Wendy and I stayed up another couple hours editing photos and chatting like girlfriends in high school.  I miss that. 

I finally crept off to bed in the wee smalls hours of the morning...and once again, fell asleep in one position and didn't move a muscle all night.  Sigh.  Someday that will be more of a reality in my life...but for now, I will cherish this time that I have to wake up to a child who had a nightmare, a baby who wants to snuggle at 2am, a little girl who just likes our bed better than hers and sometimes, a big boy who hears noises outside his window.  I wouldn't change a thing.

It's good to be home. ♥

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I told you this family was beautiful!  Thank you Cheryl and Ryan!  I missed the chance to take Tess' pictures, but I know somebody did!  Good luck with your newest edition - when she arrives!