Tuesday, September 29, 2009

But, hey, I'm a supermodel, so it's all okay

I think the Gods of Academia are frowning upon the Z house, and, at this point, are just toying with its adult occupants.

I logged into the university's registration system yesterday to get us signed up for our last MBA class. Yay! We're on the downhill stretch! All we need is BUSN 6200. Only, here's what I found for the six BUSN 6200 classes:


Uhhhhh. I hyperventilated, used a defibrillator on myself and just generally freaked out. I started a frantic e-mail to our academic advisor as visions of extending school to 2010 despite our best efforts to cram it all into 2009 danced in my head. Then I thought, "Oh, f*** it." and picked up the phone. "Hello, registrar's office? Hi. I'm panicking right now. I need only one more class for my MBA and all the sections are full for that class and I really, really need to get in because it's the last class and I want to be done and I want my life back and get to see my family again and not stress out every night and stay up too late working on homework and I absolutely cannot extend this any longer because I really need to just be done..."

The lovely registrar lady was a calm voice of reason, a beacon of sanity on the other end of the line. After taking my name and student number, she commented, "Wow, you have really done the MBA program fast." Which resulted in another avalanche of words about how yes, I had done it fast which is why I really needed this last class so I could just be done already. She said, "No problem. I can squeeze you into section QN." The heavens opened and the sun shone through and a choir of angels sang.

"Oh, thank you thank you thank you! Um, can you squeeze my husband in, too?"

So we're both in, registered for our last class, although we're not in the same section. M whined about that for a bit until I essentially told him to shove a sock in it because we're lucky we're in the damn classes at all.

Crisis #1 averted.

We were scheduled to take our second exam in IT Management last night. Deadline was midnight...no problems. We had 40 minutes to complete a 30-question multiple-guess exam. Cool. First one went okay. We had studied...we were ready.

Only the on-line system wasn't ready. Well, shit. Kinda hard to take a test when one can't get into the test (or any part of the system) to begin with. M called the university's help desk and they started a trouble ticket, but they couldn't tell us when the system would come back up. We sent an e-mail to our prof, alerting him to the fact that we were trying to take the test but couldn't log in, just in case. Always good to show effort.

After awhile, the system came back up. Rock on. We logged in and started the exam. Around Question #10 everything started to slow waaaaaay down. This is not good on a timed exam. It's not good when it takes the test 45 seconds to save your answer and show you the next question, especially when it took you only 10 seconds to read and answer it to begin with. I began to sweat. I was popping through the questions quickly as they came up, but it was taking forever for them to show. At Question #16, the entire system locked up. I had hit the "Save and Show Next Question" button when it stalled. So I hit it again. I kept getting a line of red text, "Saving Question 16..." Over and over and over. I tried skipping to another question without saving. Nothing. I tried logging out. Nothing. Essentially, the computer sat and mocked me; the only thing moving on the screen was the timer for the test, tick tick ticking down as I sat powerless to do anything.

That's when I started hearing the stream of expletives float up from downstairs, where M was taking his exam. We hollered back and forth and then I heard footsteps pounding up the stairs and the expletives get louder. He ran in and checked the herd of blinking boxes that reside behind my Mac and give us magical Internet access everywhere in the house (when they're, you know, actually working). He rebooted the modem, and did a few other things that I don't understand.

He ran up and down those stairs about 12 times, trying to get us back up and running. At this point, I sat back in my chair and thought, "Huh, I should check that voicemail someone left just as things started to bog down with the system." We ignore the phones when we're taking timed tests, for obvious reasons. So I picked up the phone and punched the buttons to access voicemail.

"Hello, this is [unintelligible]. [More garbled speaking] Ann S********* [garbled] fell and is declining EMS. She does need assistance, so please [garbled]. If you have any questions please call us at [phone number given so rapidly that I had to listen twice] and reference case number [again with the litany of numbers]."

Holy f***. That's M's grandma's Lifeline service.

"Hey, babe? Yeah, we gotta go!"

Ditched the computer and test and modem and ethernet and ran out the door. Zozer was at M's folks so we didn't have to worry about her, thankfully. We met the EMS crew at Grandma's house (after going through the phone chain and getting voicemails everywhere, the protocol is for the service to alert EMS, which is appropriate since none of us have a medical background and I'd call 9-1-1 upon arrival anyway as I'd be afraid of inflicting more harm) and got her in bed and settled.

We returned home to restored Internet access and a timed-out test, showing congratulations, you successfully completed exactly half your exam, sucker. We could access the test, but since it had timed out we were not able to finish it. We answered the questions anyway, writing our choices on paper (the good old fashioned way), and then typed up e-mails to our prof explaining the night and begging for mercy.

Haven't heard back from him yet, but given the fact that, before last night anyway, I'm carrying a 100% and M's got a 99.9%, I'm hoping he takes us at our word.

So that was last night.

This morning, as I'm dropping Zozer off at school, one of the other moms stops me in the hallway. "Oh, hey, I've been meaning to tell you...we were messing around on the Internet the other day and a picture of Heidi Klum came up. Jackson pointed to it and said, "That's Zoe's mom!"

Okay, so the kid is 4 and apparently blind, but with that one sentence all the garbage from yesterday was erased. I've gotten Reba McEntire before, and local news anchor Deanne Lane, but Heidi Klum? She's tall and blonde and gorgeous and her hair is long and flowy and does that modelly thing where it always looks like it's blowing softly in the breeze whereas I'm, well, not any of those things. I dunno, maybe at some point Heidi had purple hair, or maybe she went two years straight with little sleep and dark circles under her eyes and a raging desire to run over malfunctioning laptops and burn overpriced textbooks, but even that'd be a stretch.

Whatever. I'll take it. Little Jackson is now my favorite friend in Zoe's class. God bless that little boy and his warped vision.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Busy...but happy

40 hour work week + 20 hour school week + 10 hour image editing week + Mommy time = no time for blogging. Plus last night I went to a kickass lighting seminar hosted by Schiller's. Fanfreakintastic. They brought in this guy, Will Crockett, who is absolutely amazing with light. And gear. I've never seen someone who can so easily churn out a digital image that requires absolutely NO editing in Photoshop. I mean, I don't do much editing - the basics like curves and levels and sharpness - but this guy does none. I know he's working primarily in a studio setting and it's easier to get things right that way (you have much more control over your variables), but still. He threw together gorgeous portraits in minutes and made it look so easy. I'm sure the thousands of dollars of gear he had at his disposal helped, but still, you gotta know how to use all that stuff.

It was so cool to watch, and to be completely immersed in my little world of photography for three hours. We speak our own language, you know. And we all ooh and aah over strobes that you can control in increments of 1/10 of an f-stop. (All together now..."oooooooh!") I mean, really? 1/10 of an f-stop? That's insane!

Anyway, this week has been shot to hell with work and school and photography and having fun with Zozer...I'm having a blast but am turning into a zombie. At some point, a girl needs to sleep. More than, say, four or five hours a night.

Ah, well, that's why God made caffeine, right?

M returns from LA tonight. I fear he will suffer ESPN withdrawal, as he's quite enjoyed that this week. The other night he geeked out by watching Cardinals baseball and NFL football at the same time. The boy could hardly contain himself. I'm hoping he's not too jet-lagged upon his return. He's been going to bed on Anaheim time and waking up on St. Louis time all week, which means he's getting even less sleep than I. We are Mr. and Mrs. Zombie. At least we're in it together, eh?

That's about all I have. Wish I had something more exciting to post. Or even some images. Maybe tonight...if I can get my IT Management chapter read over lunch. Without falling asleep in the middle of it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Balloon Glow

I find myself in the odd state of having a backlog of images to edit and being too tired to do them, thanks to trying to work ahead in school so as to have free time to, you know, edit images. That's what happens when one writes two papers and a discussion board post (which might as well be called a third paper) in one night. Must've had too much caffeine yesterday or sumthin'.

I made myself hang out in the darkroom tonight, although really what I'd like to do is pass out on the couch in front of a West Wing DVD. I'm hoping tomorrow I get my second wind.

In the meantime, here are some photographs from Friday night's hot air balloon glow in Forest Park. The only thing that would have made it even more cool was to have control over the air horn that signaled all the pilots to light 'em up.

Note: My little world here at blogger.com may not be much longer. In uploading images tonight, for the first time in nearly 1,000 posts, I was required to check a box signifying that I agree to the Terms of Service. Since this wasn't required before, I checked 'em out. Turns out by uploading images here, I give Google all rights to reproduce my work to promote Google and its services, free of charge, whenever and wherever it wants. WTF? So. Not. Cool.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sidewalk chalk

Zozer and I cracked open her new giant tub of sidewalk chalk this afternoon (thank you, GG!). She exclaimed, "Look! It's like a rainbow!" I exclaimed, "Wait! Let me get the camera!" We drew all over our patio...smiley faces, ZOEs, stars, moons, a spider web (and accompanying spider, of course), and yes, a rainbow. Zoe asked me to "draw a hopscotch!" and I'll be darned if the little bugger didn't know how to use it.

We had our parent/teacher conference last night, where we went over some standardized testing the school does with all the students. Zoe scored right on the 4-year-old mark for everything but "building" and "numbers/math," where she scored at the 6-year-old level. I looked over to see M beaming. Yep, add another engineer to the family. In a few short years she'll be able to join the debates on the realism of certain Star Trek episodes with the rest of the engineer nerds in our family. As an art nerd, and pretty much the only art nerd, I feel a bit overwhelmed when in the presence of so much brain-power. I console myself with the fact that I have the nicest camera. Hey, whatever it takes.

Zoe is the Star of the Week in the Bunny room this week. That means she gets to wear a crown all week and be the teachers' helper and such. We made an "All About Zoe!" poster where she listed her favorite colors (purple and blue) and her favorite food (pancakes) and showed pictures of her family, her house (I used one of the images showcasing M's beautiful Christmas display, which led to a 15-minute explanation to her teachers), and her pets. There was a box where she was to list her friends. I asked her who they were, and her first response was, "Hootie!" So we posted an image of Hoot and then listed her little school buddies.

The poster rocks...it's such a great reminder of what an awesome little kid we have. I noticed today they have it posted in the classroom under a Star of the Week banner. And it's laminated. So it's all permanent-like now. I remember as a kid it was always way cool to have something laminated. Funny how some things never change.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tiffany, Doug and Gavin

These are my friends, Tiffany and Doug, and their adorable son, Gavin.

I've known Tiff for about a gajillion years, because she's my little sister's best friend and the two of them were damn near inseparable in high school. She might as well be my little sister, too. Tiffany grew up and met this great guy, Doug, and they fell in love and got married and had a little boy. And then they asked me to take pictures of their family. (See? You thought they were normal right up 'til that last part, didn't you?)

I admit, it was hard to concentrate on making images when I really just wanted to hold Gavin and give him smoochies.

This one is probably my favorite of the lot. Tiff is so beautiful, and you can practically see the love and grace and positive energy she pours out to Gavin. Gorgeous.


Daddy's hands make this shot.

A lot of men have trouble bonding with their babies, or expressing emotion.
Doug is not one of those men.
This child will never, ever wonder if his father adores him.

Happy family.

These were some fun shots we took inside after the family shots outside.
I found the fabric the day before, looking for suitable backgrounds for babies.
As we were setting this up and starting to make images, Doug's mom frantically combed through a nearby closet until she found a small photograph of Doug on a bear skin rug when he was a baby. Hilarious. In hindsight, I should have borrowed it to scan and post here in comparison. Dang...next time!

I have more, but these are my favorites and I wanted to get a sneak peek up for Tiff and Doug. You guys were awesome first clients, and made my job easy. Thank you!

(And yes, these are all in color, too - I just like the b/w treatment for tonight. Simply the mood I'm in.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Best Gift-With-Purchase EVER

Not that we're thinking about moving, but dang, if we can get a FREE fire truck...

(A whole fire truck-load of thanks to Aunt Margaret for finding this ad in Ladue News while she was here at my spa getting her hair done today.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Impulse Owls

I am not a shopper. I've never been a shopper. Well, except for when I was pregnant with Zoe and apparently had enough estrogen for two of us. I was a pseudo-shopper, and it was temporary, and it quickly left after giving birth. I went back to my regular self who eschews girly-girl and champions photographic gear and comfortable shoes. Shopping for clothes is so not my thing. It's hell on earth for me, so I do it only when I have to (read: when my clothes are literally falling apart - I once went two years with pants whose hem was held in place by duct tape...hey, no one knew and it was only mildly annoying on cold days when the tape gave my leg a chill). I don't like buying things for the house as I don't like clutter. I prefer my glass to be in a lens and not in a ring. I have learned that material things do not make one happy.

Tuesday, though, on the way to lunch with two colleagues, I passed a small store and saw some little granite stones in the front window, and knew immediately that I had to have them. After lunch I stopped back by the shop and made my selections.

At home later, M asked, "What do we do with them?"
I answered, "I don't know, but they make me happy just to see them."

They will probably hang with me in the darkroom before going to roost in the library.

Our new parliament of owls

(And yes, I shot this myself, using freshly remembered skills thanks to my new kickass lighting book, two pieces of copy paper and a desk lamp. I've managed to impress myself this evening...look at that beautiful sweep and gorgeous falloff!)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Zoe enjoyed her first trip to Chuck-A-Burger. She announced in the car on the way there, "I like Chuck-A-Burger," which made us laugh considering she had never been. She got a bowl of chili, but pretty much held out for the chocolate milkshake at the end.

And yes, she tried out the Chuck-A-Potty.

Monday, September 07, 2009


M had the fanstastic idea of visiting the old Chuck-A-Burger on St. Charles Rock Road for lunch today. I had a Chili Chuck, and he had a BBQ Chuck, and I like ordering everything with "Chuck" attached to the end. I applied a warming filter to these after desaturating, 'cause I like the effect. I guess you could say I used a Warming Chuck.

Headband stealer

I love that a little person in my house keeps stealing the headbands I stash in the bathroom to hold my hair back when I wash my face.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fall begins

Other than the unseasonably cool weather, I got my first sign of fall today. I guess you could say this is my first visual queue to the change of the seasons.

I hope when Zoe is all grown up and has her own children and grandchildren, she tells stories of her crazy mommy asking Daddy to "Pull the car over!" in the Target parking lot so she can hop out to make pictures of tree leaves.

I love fall. I love the colors in the trees and the crispness to the air. I love fall clothes, the safety and security of being bundled up without the bulk of coats, scarves, hats and gloves that winter requires. I love caramel apples and football season and bonfires and hot chocolate. I love the significance of transition (also a bonus feature of spring).

I love Halloween, and that Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) is just around the corner. Hooray for fall!

Dew drops and spider webs

Many times when I pull into work in the morning, I see dew-covered spiderwebs in the landscaped foliage in one of the parking lot berms. It's always so beautiful, these little gleaming gems sparkling in the morning sun. I have shot these damn things every which way from Sunday, trying to capture what I see. Turns out that dew drops on spiderwebs are tricky little bastards. This is about the closest I've come, and I'm still not happy with it.

Ah, well, I guess it's always good to have something to aim for.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Blue lolly for the blue-eyed girl

The child has been earning rewards of M&Ms, jelly beans, or lollipops when successfully using the potty. I purchased a 370-count bag of DumDums from Sam's last night, so you can imagine how it's going. This afternoon, while hanging out in the library and watching her go to town on her lolly, I noticed the pale skin, dark hair, and blue eyes/blue lolly. "Hold on, Zo, Mommy needs to get her camera!"

This child of ours, she's something else. Friday was her first entirely dry day, and today was her second. Tonight, we even successfully pottied in a public restroom, although never have I hated automatic-flush toilets more. Pretty sure the sporadic, unpredictable and loud flushing delayed the action by a good five minutes, maybe more. Zoe called it the Magic Toilet, which is a far cry less offensive than what I'd have called it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Found 2

This little scene was 20 feet from Mr. Orange down there. I never think of painting my window frames bright, cheery colors. But I should, because I like it.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I had a business meeting at a new hotel in the loop. Debated lugging the camera down there. Glad I did. Got two decent shots...this is the first. I just like how his orange shirt pops out of all the neutral colors.

The poop cometh

And Mommy said, "Let there be poop!" and there was poop, and it was good, for it was in the potty - the second day.

As if the two going-pee-pee-on-the-potty occurances of yesterday weren't enough, this morning, without much ado at all (a wee bit of hesitation, and then some extra -read: hilarious - grunting), she pooped.

I swear, at some point, I will stop writing about my child's toileting. It's just so damn exciting right now...the idea of not carrying a diaper bag. M keeps making "cha-ching!" sounds and thinking of ways to spend the extra money we're going to save by not purchasing diapers. Zoe looks at him like he's got two heads, shrugs, and stuffs M&M's in her mouth.

She's at school now; we were a bit late due to our pit stop on the potty this morning, and when I casually asked what she'll do today when she has to pee, she casually responded (with no hesitation), "I'm going to go on the potty." Yessssss!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Victory is ours! Queue Chariots of Fire! Sound the trumpets!

She went pee pee on the potty. Twice.


Pee Pee #1
I arrived at Zoe's school at about 4:40, armed with my cell phone (I normally don't take it in) and determination. The plastic bag and old towels were in the car, just in case she actually lasted until 6 p.m. and the school kicked us out. The cell phone was to call M in case it really did take as long as I feared. By 4:42 I had the lowdown on the day from her teachers (two leaks...we were on outfit #3) and I had her sitting on the potty in the small restroom in her classroom. I sat nearby on a small chair. Her teachers and friends were all out on the playground, so it was just us. (In your mind right now, play that "showdown" music they always have in the background of the old westerns.) She fiddled and twitched and wobbled and demanded to get off. I stayed firm. "We're not leaving until you go. Sit." At 5:10, after much wailing and angst and tears, she couldn't hold it anymore and she went. In the potty. With the obvious relief flashing across her face, I could also see the realization sink in that, "Holy cow, that didn't hurt/wasn't uncomfortable/didn't make the world implode as I expected." She stopped crying just as I felt tears spring to my eyes. Huge hugs, lots of cheers, and we both grinned like a coupla drunks. We ran outside to tell Ms. Pat and Ms. Caroline (and got a hug from friend Leah in the process), then ran to the other playground to tell our old teachers, Ms. Maria and Ms. Kendra. We then drove home to cheers from Daddy, and then we started making the calls. She was so thrilled to be able to tell everyone herself, that she went pee pee on the potty. She got her promised lollipop, too, and was just proud as a peacock.

Pee Pee #2
While M made dinner, Zozer and I got out her new set of Colorforms, delivered from Amazon today. As we sat playing in the library, I noticed she started rocking, bouncing, and just generally being twitchy. "Zo. Do you have to go pee pee?" "No." We went back and forth like this for a few minutes, and then dinner was ready. She ate well, but was extremely fidgety. We asked several more times before I went, "Okay, we've had enough, we're going to go sit on the potty." She went willingly, pulling down her pants and Big Girl Underwear herself. Sat there for awhile, and although she started to work herself up a little, it didn't get very far and she finally went again (it took 10-15 minutes, tops - about 1.5 readings of her new Pooh book from Great Aunt Mary). Hugs and cheers for the second time. A quick bath, then M&M's to celebrate.

Holy smokes. We're getting there. We're really, finally getting there. Hallelujah.

I.P. Freely

Isn't there some old joke about a man named I.P. Freely? I know there is one...I just can't remember it.

Anyway, that was Zoe's name last night.

When I picked her up from school, she was all over the place doing the pee-pee dance (I know you all know what that is). She had to do the pee-pee dance because she hadn't pee'd all day. I made the mistake of offering to let her use the potty before going home (instead of making her use the potty before going home), she declined, and then "leaked" in her car seat.

"Mommy. I leaked."
"Yeah, I bet you did."

Complete soakage. M had to pull the entire carseat out and dismantle it to get the cover off so I could wash it. We plopped her in the tub and gave her a bath, then a fresh pair of undies and jammies while M made dinner.

Then, 20 minutes later, she leaked at the top of the basement stairs, as I was down there putting in the first load of pee-pee laundry.

And by leak, I mean flood, people.

Second clean-up of the night, lots of hugs and kisses and "It's okay to have an accident. How about next time we try to sit on the potty when we need to go, okay?" encouragement.

Talked to her teachers at school this morning. Should she hold it for an entire day, again, we will not leave school until she goes. Preferably in the potty. Which means I will be there until 6 p.m. when the school closes and I'm forced to strap a bloated, wriggling child into the back of my car again (this time with towels!). Should she make it home (I doubt it), and even if she doesn't (because she'll still have a lot in there from holding it all day, just as she did yesterday), she'll sit on the potty until she goes. No more Mr. Nice Mommy. She'll have two choices:
  1. Pee on the potty and then go play or read or do whatever you want.
  2. Stay sitting on the potty all night. Screaming. Whereas I will close the bathroom door and then stick my head under a pillow to drown out the cries.

Let's everyone hope she pees today at school. If for the simple reason that I don't want the girl to develop a bladder infection on top of everything else.


My Papa taught me a fine appreciation for little diners such as this. It's Spencer's Grill, right in downtown Kirkwood. Been there for about 104 years, I think. These places make the best food. Breakfast all day long. Awesome diner chili. Yum. I made this image while waiting for my friend Ryan yesterday. I was in the fifth of five booths (it's a tiny place), and after I got settled and looked around, it just all seemed so timeless. Right down to the newspapers haphazardly stacked on the first stool. No matter what happens in the world, you can always go into Spencer's and have a good cup of joe outside the swirl of everyday life.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


She calls the melted ice cream at the bottom of the bowl, "ice cream juice."

Something just made me remember that, and I wanted to get it out here before I forgot again.