February 24, 2010

I Am Already Working on Next Year's Free Skate Routine

If you do not know my sister Nicole let me explain her this way. She is determined, creative and loves to celebrate her birthday. It is the amalgamation of these things that brought me back to Michigan this past weekend.

You see my sister's birthday was the night of the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic games. And this year instead of a month of birthday activities (what I call Nicole's Ramadan birthday - because it lasts 30 days), she opted of a one day event in honor of the games. That is how the inaugural Winter Olym-nics came to be. (The name was thought of by her equally determined and creative husband.)

My sister.

It took place at my parents house on Lake Oneida.

As you can see from the photo above (and below) a lot of effort was put into these games by my family. There was a judges table (complete with scorecards and judges' jerseys), a luge, medals, a hockey/figure skating rink, medals podium and curling lane.

Yes, tea kettles were our curling stones.

Before the games even began though, we had a proper opening ceremony, complete with a parade of nations and lighting of the torch. I was the representative of Japan and sported the Kimono my sister had just brought back for me from her trip to Japan. My nephew Jared also played the Star Spangled Banner on his sax.

Once that was over, the games began! There were six events in all. The first was the biathlon (what I believe to be the winter games' strangest sport).

No we didn't have real guns and the skis gave out after the first round of competitors. But that didn't stop us. My sister and I, for our turn, took off on a foot race, worthy of a photo finish.


In case you were wondering, Mike and I won. He's a really good shot. 

Hockey was equally competitive. Two good teams took the ice, with my dad serving as ref.

It goes without saying though, that the highlight of that day's events were the pairs figure skating. Sadly, none of the skates fit Mike. So my friend Dorrie's husband Nick and I took to the ice with a routine that was planned in the five minutes before it began. It was took Blister in the Sun and it rocked. We took silver.

Here are the highlights. Our performance was heavy on the arm movements, light on footwork.

We were no match for the gold medalists though. My sister and brother-in-law invested in costumes. And their routine ended with a through the legs manuver, shown here.

The days events ended fittingly with a medals ceremony. (Pairs figure skaters winners below)

And an impressive fireworks show in which Mike almost lost an appendage (not shown below).

It was an awesome inaugural event to say the least. I honestly can't wait for next year. And the day's events certainly made me appreciate my sister and her determine, creative spirit even more. Happy (belated) Birthday Nicole! I award you a gold medal for the best sister ever.

February 16, 2010

Don't Let the Name Fool You

I went to my first Chicago Bulls game tonight. Mike scored some free tickets from a vendor so we hopped on over to the United Center after work.

Now I had never been to a professional basketball game before, and even though our seats weren't anything to brag about, I was still looking forward to it. I was kind of surprised though by one major aspect to the game. There's a lot of crap going on. I had a hard time figuring out when the game was on and when it was off. There were a few times when I'd glace away during a fan contest or some music montage only to realize the game unbeknown to me had resumed. There was so much going on I wasn't sure where to look when. We didn't even stay through the second half, however in the short time we were there we saw was a bat spin make a shot game, an inflatable bulls race, a virtual bottled water drag race and two dance numbers. And the music. I'm used to sporting events where music only plays when the game action has stopped. At the United Center though, it was constant.

Although the game didn't really capture my interest, I was glad we went for one and one reason only - the second dance performance. The first was predictably by the Luvabulls cheerleaders. Snore. If I wanted to see girls gyrating their hips and flinging their hair around I could go to any old Lincoln Park bar on a dollar beer night. The second dance performance was exponentially awesome-r. It was by the Swinging Seniors. (I highly recommend you click on that link. And then I dare you not to smile.)

Contrary to what the name might tell you, the Swinging Seniors didn't appear to be a sect of free loving grannies and gramps who were looking for a good key party. Instead they came out in their headbands, sweats and Bulls jerseys and performed a little dance to a medley of Old Time Rock 'n Roll and Great Balls of Fire. And while their hip movements may not have been as in sync as the Luvabulls, and one of the grannies may have dropped her hula hoop, the joy on their faces more than made up for the lack of their technical skills. In fact, it more than made up for my rather confusing and somewhat disappointing Bulls experience.

February 14, 2010

A Mother's Love

There is probably no greater love than a mother for her child. Having no children of my own, I can't say this for certain. But I am ridiculously fond of my stupid cats, so it's possible that at some point in the future I could literally smother my own children with love.

That's why I think these few photos from a maternity session I shot last week are the perfect Valentine's Day post. They were taken in her home, and I hope reflect this mother's love for her unborn child.

I should also mention that even though she is less than two months away from giving birth, this mom-to-be is still going to Bikram yoga on a regular basis. That's why she can do this.

She is amazing. And I'm certain she's going to be an amazing mom.

February 10, 2010

Respite From the Cold

Remember months ago when I went to that old church in Evanston to hear my friend sing The Messiah? No? Well read this post. I loved the church and brought my camera hoping to get a good shot or two. I did but I knew they would have been better if I'd had the lens I had been wanting for some time. I have that lens now.

After the polar bear plunge a few weekends ago, Sarah and I decided we needed some coffee. We were walking down Michigan Ave to Borders and passed the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church. It is a beaufitul structure, but I'd never seen it from the inside. Not sure of the entry or photography policy we gingerly stepped inside and began snapping photos.

And I was right, my new lens was so much better.



Fourth collage




The last picture is my favorite because I think that is the same expression I have all the time when I step into old beautiful churches, such as this one.

February 7, 2010

Big Bertha

Mike and I engaged in some home improvements this weekend. We started at about 10 a.m. Saturday and didn't finish until about 4 p.m. today.

So here's the before.

Here is the during:
(Oh lord that sucked)

And here's the after:
I know. Scroll back up because the before and after don't really look all that different. But as I sit here on my couch, I can most definitely tell you that they are different. The big difference is our new TV. I call her Bertha. Bertha because she's so big.

Mike got his tax refund check in this week, so on Saturday he bought a TV he's been eying for months. Literally months. Mike is a man that will research and research and research some more until he's certain the electronic item he's going to purchase is the best price and the best quality out there for a myriad of reasons. He tells me these reasons time and time again and yet I never retain any of this info. When Mike starts talking electronics he talks in numbers, not words. He was actually on the store's computers researching this very TV right before he purchased it. You know, just to make sure.

So Bertha here is big. She's the third member of our family. She's a 58-incher. That's three more inches than our old TV. But this one is much thinner so we actually have more room. And holy lord the picture. Once Mike finally got the TV turned on (which was at midnight last night) I walked into our living room and said "Why hello Mr. Morgan Freeman. Welcome to our living room." That's because Morgan Freeman was life size on our TV and so clear he might as well have been sitting on our couch.

But it took much more than rewiring to get this little living room arrangement in place. The most arduous being getting Bertha and her new TV stand up to our third floor condo. My arms contributed what little they could when it came to the TV. However the stand, the 160lb stand, Mike got on his own. Not because he wanted to, but because my wimpy arms were of no assistance. I need some arm muscles. Stat. I think my relationship depends on it.

In the process of setting up Bertha, we also cleaned the crap out of our home. Literally. The freakin' cats were doing things behind our old TV that we couldn't see. Including I presume growing another cat, given the size of the fur balls back there.

But it's all set up. Our house is as clean as it's ever been and Bertha is right at home perched a top her stand. And now I'm going to bed. It's been a long weekend. On top of home improvements, I also fit in a photo shoot today. I'm beat.

February 6, 2010

Please Explain

I bought a pair of jeans from The Gap a few weeks ago. According to said jeans, they are 30/10r Boot Cut. Translation: 30 inch waist. Size 10. Regular length inseam. Boot cut style. (Sidenote: I can't belive I just published my size on the Internet.) I absolutely love these jeans and the way they fit me. When I bought these jeans The Gap gave me a $20 off gift card to use anytime during the month of January toward my next purchase. Well I'm starting a new job in a week, and this new job comes with a more casual work environment. My present work is not casual, so I decided I needed another pair of work pants, AKA jeans.

On Thursday, I marched back over to The Gap Michagan Ave store and browsed their racks once again for a pair of jeans. Unfortunately I couldn't remember the size I bought last time, so I grabbed any approximation of what I thought might be my size. And it's a good thing I did.

The pair I came home with is a 29/8r Long and Lean Cut. I also tried on a 30/10a Boot Cut at the store, but it was too small. So if you're following me here, in the same store within the same line of jeans (Gap 1969) I am three different sizes. How is that even possible? In a regular length boot cut I wear a ten. Put me in an ankle length and inexclicibaly I go up a size. But put me in a long and lean regular length and hey-o, I drop two sizes. Perhaps I should have kept shopping. Maybe I would have found the jeans that finally gave me that perfect 24 inch waist. Although after a few wears, my size 29/8's are fitting a little loose, so maybe I should have just keep on pushing the limits of the long and lean waistband.

Either I have no idea what my true size is or the clothing industry is running some sort of racket. My guess is the latter. If no one knows their true size, they'll continue buying ill-fiitted clothing, therefore causing them to go out and buy more clothes with the hopes of finding something that actually fits. It's a viscious cycle and I can say I've certainly been caught in it before. It also explains why when bridemaids dress shopping, I have bought literally both a size 8 and a size 16. My weight has never fluctuated THAT much.

For my birthday Mike got me a gift certificate to one of my favorite shoe stores. I fell in love with a pair of black lace up Tsubo high heels there. So pretty. I wanted to try on a pair, and the clerk asked me my shoe size. Even then I couldn't give a straight answer. My reply was "a 9 1/2 or a ten." (I got big feet. What of it.) He came back with a 9 1/2, saying the brand runs slightly large. I pranced around in the store for a bit and determined lo and behond they were a smidge too big. He ordered a nine for me, and after I learned there were no more nines in stock, a few weeks later an 8 1/2 was waiting for me at the store. I tried them on thinking oh well, I can always pick out something else becuase there is no way these are going to fit. But yeah, they fit. They are sitting in my closet right now. I think the last time I wore an 8 1/2 shoe I also may have been wearing Guess jeans and sporting a perm.

I keep going back to the line in Steel Magnolias where Clairee has an extra pair of shoes that she wants to get rid of. Clairee asks her friend Truvy her shoe size. Truvy's response is "Well in a good shoe I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good I buy a size eight." Clairee: "They're 8 1/2." Truvy: "Perfect!"

So what about you? What's your size, shoe or other?

February 2, 2010

Little Blue Eyes

I met Liam and his family in their home on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Having never been to their home, I was afraid there wouldn't be enough light. I assume this about all homes because I am obsessed with a lot of light (and think I live in a dungeon of sorts). I blame my lighting preferences on my mother who would walk around constantly turning on lights in my childhood home, even if she wasn't in the room. She was conditioning me to need a lot of light, be it natural or artificial. It now bodes well for my photographic eye because I need light to get good photos.

When I walked into Liam's home I was pleasantly surprised to see it bathed in natural light. And that natural light allowed me to capture Liam and his big old blue eyes in all their shining glory.

Yeah, I didn't doctor the color of his peepers at all.

Liam could not have been better to photograph. He was happy, he was smiling and he was pretty easy to amuse. And when I first got there he was content just to sit there and stare at my camera. Works for me.


As much as I could have just focused my camera on his eyes, I was glad the whole family was involved. How cute are they? Answer: So cute!

But really, Liam and his lovable attitude were front and center.

I mean really, how can you or I or anyone resist a face like this.
We cannot.