I used to make elaborate New Year's resolutions: multiple goals that were divided into categories of physical, spiritual, educational/mental, and personal development. It was good at the time, but in an effort to simplify my life and lower stress levels, I stopped making these detailed resolutions a few years ago. Last year, my goal was simply to "be present wherever I am." I made it my motto for the year, and I think it has helped me be a better mom.
However, I miss the tangibility of measuring a goal, and I have a specific one that I've decided to tackle this year: improving my photography.
While I was encouraged by all your kind words about the wedding photos I shared with you in my last post, shooting that wedding really opened my eyes to all the things I don't know how to do with my camera.
Someone once told me, "If you're ever unhappy with something, there are two options: change your expectation or change something you are doing. That's all you can control."
So, I'm taking control of my photography and changing my actions.
I'm embarking on a photo a day challenge for the year. I will take at least one photo each day, preferably with my nice camera but my phone camera still counts, and I'll post them weekly (I hope) on my blog to keep myself accountable. I'm also going to try to tackle a different skill each month (nailing crisp focus, setting custom white balance, improving shots in low light scenarios, etc.). My goal is two-fold: first, to improve my photography skills, and second, to document the sometimes overlooked aspects of my daily life.
January's skill to improve: learn to manipulate focus better so that the subject is tack sharp.
Here's the first batch of pictures. Enjoy!
January 1: Choo Choo!
January 2: Book Lover
January 3: Serious Science
January 4: Making Sunday Dessert...Like Father Like Son
January 5: Nom Nom
January 6: The Tallest Tower in the World!
January 7: Puddle Stomping
January 8: Float or Sink?
Would you believe this game kept my crazy son occupied for an entire hour?!
January 10: Alfajores (AKA - addicting cookies) for Peru Night
January 10: Wild Man
Walks in January? Yes, please! Especially if there is a stick involved.
January 11: Six Months Old! (Okay, the photo shoot was a few days late)
I've already written about our bustling, busy, full-of-family Christmas. What I haven't explained is that the reason we had so much family around for Christmas was that Graham's brother got married two days after Christmas.
He had to go all the way to Romania to find her, but Consuela is wonderful, and I'm sure Josh would say she was worth the wait.
Planning a wedding in two and a half months is no small task (I know, I did it, too), so I offered to do whatever I could to help. What they needed, in the end, was a photographer. Something about the fancy camera I own must have tricked them into thinking I know how to use it, and they asked me to be their photographer. In truth, I love photography, but I know that I am far from being a professional. Still, I told them I thought I could probably get them a few good pictures.
By the way, did you know that it is incredibly difficult to photograph a wedding? It's a day full of priceless moments that you can't ever get back and that you want to capture in a photo forever. Oh, and it turns out that getting the proper exposure on a shot that involves a white dress and a black tuxedo is tricky. It didn't help that it was beyond cold on their wedding day, which made outside photography tricky. By the time we were done shooting outdoors, I literally couldn't feel my fingers, so I had to keep looking to see if I was actually pressing the shutter release. Brrr!
Still, it was a great learning experience for me, and I loved getting to spend time with Josh and Consuela on their wedding day. It's amazing what you see through the lens of a camera when you're watching two people interact. I loved watching their love.
Here are some of my favorites:
This was a random shot I took as Consuela was trying to stuff her dress in the car when we were heading out to go take pictures, but I love it. She's so beautiful!
Josh carried Consuela every time we walked outside so her dress would't get dirty or wet.
What a good man!
I think this one is my very favorite. They just look so natural and happy.
During the ceremony:
I had to include one of Will as the ring bearer! He actually gave the ring to Josh. Hooray!
Do you ever think to yourself that maybe you got in a little over your head? I have a really bad habit of doing just that. Because of my ambitions to make homemade gifts, entertain various groups of people, attend several holiday events, and keep try to find a clean house, I found myself a bit run down the week before Christmas.
The weekend before Christmas I was madly trying to finish sewing a handful of projects I had started with the intent of giving several homemade gifts this year. I was also trying to finish neighbor gifts, clean the house before company arrived, and plan all sorts of activities related to Christmas. I ended up with a to do list that was more than two pages long. Seriously. We're talking 8 1/2 x 11 binder paper...college ruled. Oh, and I had made two columns per page. Can you say overload?
Needless to say, I was stressed. Graham was stressed. Neither one of us was in the Christmas spirit. As we sat on the couch one evening, overwhelmed and tired, I was reminded of a conversation we had a few days before we got married.
At that time, we had been up to our eyeballs in wedding preparations, and I was trying to figure out how to juggle everything that needed to happen the day before the wedding. Graham was telling me that he would like to schedule some time in the day for us to be together, just the two of us, and I was expressing concern that I didn't know if that was feasible with everything else that was going on. Then he said something that made me reconsider my priorities: "Megan, spending a little bit of quality time with my fiancee the day before we get married is not negotiable to me."
He was right. I had gotten so wrapped up in all the other details of the wedding that I had forgotten what was most important.
This all came back to me on that night a few weeks ago, and I turned to Graham, and said, "Enjoying Christmas is not negotiable. What do we need to change so that we can focus on enjoying family traditions and celebrating the birth of the Savior?"
Mostly, my answer was to change my attitude. I still had a lot to do (you can't host 25 people for Christmas dinner without having some necessary tasks to accomplish), but I stopped trying to be the "Pinterest Perfect" hostess. I could still make sure everyone had clean sheets and food to eat without worrying about having a welcome basket on every bed, hanging all the artwork that had been sitting around for months, and creating a list of fun activities for family members coming into town. I realized our house would be much more comfortable for our guests if I focused on having fun than if I stressed over making place cards and a DIY centerpiece for Christmas dinner.
Graham and I decided that we WOULD enjoy Christmas. And, you know what? We did. It was still crazy, and I was a bit exhausted by New Year's (no thanks to the adorable baby who decided to forgo sleeping for several nights), but I really did have a great holiday.
Here's a peek at what we did:
Wright Sisters (and families) Christmas Eve Crepe Breakfast
Daren and Jason sporting their dino hats I made (they might actually fit by next winter...oops)
Will LOVES candy canes! (Okay, he loves any kind of sugar)
The Kings...we loved having them stay with us for Christmas, and Will loved having cousins around.
Logan opening his very first present (and yes, he's eating the paper)
I didn't know our house could actually hold this many people, but apparently it can.
And after Christmas, the fun continued with a WEDDING! Stay tuned for how I attempted to be a florist and a photographer all in the same day.