Sunday, November 27, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Just as suggests, at 3-months-old (and 6 days), Naomi Janelle will smile at just about anybody; especially if they look her straight in the eye and talk to her. However, it's also obvious that she's beginning to sort out who's who in her life. Behind mommy, Justin definitely gets the warmest welcome out of the 3 non-milk-providers in the house... which is probably fitting since (even at 3 months) I'm already starting to see a lot of similarities in their personalities. But in the presence of anyone else, she'll search for any of us in a room and moves her arms in excitement or smile when she finds us... Which is reminiscent of yet another similarity between our first and third born children: They both loathe solitude.

In other news, she has also gained control (full control might be a stretch) of her arms and legs; grabbing what she can and pumping her fist and feet like a Jane Fonda fitness video (that's right... I said Jane Fonda... welcome to the 80's). Eating is still sporadic, but her sleep patterns have definitely settled down. I don't know the last time Venesa has slept this well at night. Welcome back, normality. We missed you.

If you talk to her, Naomi will also do what she can to hold her side of the conversation... but she won't say a word with a camera rolling (Can you say, Jasmine at 3 months... and pretty much for her first 2 years of life. The epitome of camera shy). And when placed on her stomach, she'll lift her head and shoulders mountain high, giving her a better view of what's going on around her (Reminds me of Jasmine being too noisy to eat at this month). But rolling over? Evidently that's for the birds. Or maybe she's just saving it so that I'll have something to write about at the 4-month mark.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Passing Through

The Colliers made us part of their road trip to GA, and Justin and Jasmine were thrilled to see an old friend from Virginia. They also pulled me out of semi-retirement and twisted my arm (just kidding... I offered) to take some family photos with their newest edition. And as I blew the dust off of my shooting techniques, that got me to thinking... Maybe Hartsville could use another family portrait photographer after all. We'll see what happens in the Spring.

With their 3rd photo session, they also broke the tie and officially became my most photographed family. I need to get them t-shirts or something. My official poster children.

The door is always open, guys. It was a pleasure.

Fire Dog

The things that this dog puts up with...

He Said She Said II

Jasmine @ 2
I ate my food off
Translation: I ate all of my food

My eye is skipping!
Translation: undetermined

Justin @ 3
My dungay hurts
Translation: dungay = stomach

Justin @ 4
Justin: Where are we going?
Mommy: Someplace fun! With a lot of toys and cool things to do.
Justin: Oh... Are we going to heaven?
Mommy: Not yet.

Friday, November 18, 2011

He Said She Said

A father/daughter moment that brought new meaning to the words, "brutally honest":

[Daddy and Jasmine driving to pick up a coworker on a Friday morning]
Jasmine: Daddy... where are we going?
Daddy: We're going to pick up one of daddy's friends from work.
Jasmine: But Daddy...
Daddy: Yes, love?
Jasmine: (in a very matter of fact tone of voice...) You don't have any friends.

Man... children are... brutal. I think I just got sucker punched in the gut. I felt like I should've come back with a "yo momma" joke or something. But instead, I took the psychological battle scar and kept it moving. And of course she had to repeat it, just to make sure I heard her correctly. And to remove any ambiguity, for the 2nd time around, she added the fact that, "mommy has friends... but not daddy." SMH... that was cold, homey. And thus was born a new blog category: Kid Quotes.


Venesa keeps a journal of what I call kid quotes. It's a compilation of all of those adorable, hilarious, or sometimes just off-the-wall and blatantly politically incorrect things that our children say. Most of them are either inside jokes, or simply things that only a parent could appreciate or even understand (like mispronunciations that you refuse to correct because it's somehow hilariously adorable when your child butchers the English language). After some thought, I've finally decided to keep a tally of them here as well. My thinking is, (a) who knows where that journal of hers will be in 10 years, and (b) these are the little things that will connect moments to fond memories as we get older and struggle to remember the details of what made this time in our live so enjoyable. One day I'll print and bind this blog of ours (been thinking of doing so for a while now), so I may as well pack in what I can. So I apologize in advance for adding a category that will likely have little to no meaning outside of our home. But hey... it's our blog. Sue me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Columbia Zoo

Day trips to visit with fam has been an obvious perk of our South Carolina migration. A couple of weekends ago, we hit the zoo in a belated celebration of Lela's birthday. The kids had a great time, got to spend time with their kinfolk, and everyone was home for bedtime; no worse for wear.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Disney on Ice

The kids were definitely not as utterly blown away as Justin was when we took him to see Elmo two years ago... but I'd still venture to say that they had a great time. If the show was 2 hours, I'd say that they knew about 30 minutes worth of characters. Mickey's crew, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Aladin and Jasmine come to mind. As for the others... the kids didn't have a clue, and truthfully we didn't know 1/2 of them, either. I'm sure that some of that has to do with us not having cable television. And some of it can be attributed to our firstborn being a boy (plain ol' clueless on all that princess stuff... but working on it). And a lot of it probably has something to do with the age-appropriateness of some the Disney stories (For example, I've never seen Mulan before, but that particular skit seemed a bit out there for preschoolers). However, we did feel a hint of shame when the crowd erupted for Lion King and our kids looked at us like, "um... who's that? and why is everyone asking for hakuna matata? Can I have some?"

With all of that aside (pun alert) it was still a very cool experience. Memorable. Good family fun. And a whole lot cheaper than a trip to Orlando. I'll take it.

Monday, November 14, 2011


We got beat by another tenant. There's nothing like driving up to your own rental property and finding it empty with zero notice and (of course) zero rent in hand. The irony is that, as we approached what I believe would've been the end of this particular tenant's 4th year with us, Venesa and I had pretty much resolved not to renew her lease in the Spring. Well, she obviously beat us to the punch (and oh what a sucker punch it was). Our reasons for thinking eviction? While she never missed a payment in those 40+ months (praise God for silver linings), the hundreds of dollars in late fees that she steadily paid (seemingly more often than not) never seemed to outweigh the heartache of wondering when our luck would run out with her. [As an aside, I remember one string of months last year when she paid late fees for so many months in a row, that I honestly forgot how much her rent was really supposed to be]. Renting to her was like playing a hot hand at the poker table: You knew it wouldn't last. It couldn't last. It was all about getting out while you were still ahead. Well... so much for that window of opportunity. Doggone thing slammed shut right on my finger tips.

I could write an entire book on everything that led up to this particular incident, and two more chapters entitled, "Where do we go from here?" But at the end of the day, the only productive thing to do (after some solid prayer) is to pick yourself off the floor and get to work with the development and execution of a well-laid plan. In the meantime, I pray that God continues to honor our obedience to Him and cover our family (financially, emotionally and spiritually) as we navigate this storm.

Doggone Deadbeat Tenants.