Friday, March 21, 2014

Ryan Family Misadventures

There I was, listening to a silent hold and waiting for the FBI Analyst to return to our phone conversation or route me elsewhere or ask me to repeat the story for the upteenth time.  How did this HAPPEN?, I asked myself.  HOW it happened might be a forever mystery, but at least it's over... kind of.

So let's start at the beginning.  Friday February 21st was my last day at CBRE, after 4.5 years of service.  We were thigh-high in boxes around the house, planning a weekend house-hunting trip that weekend, kicking butts and taking names.  My workday was rather busy for a last day; training to do, financials to deliver, ad hoc requests popping up.  But nothing I wasn't happy to help with.  And besides, a huge chapter was about to begin for us!  Nothing could have altered our mood as moving day drew nearer.

I was in email contact with my future employer, accomplishing one pre-employment task after another.  The usual stuff: background checks, urine tests, filling out forms to prove I'm a US citizen, etc. etc.  Everything passed, as it should.  A few days before I was asked to complete a fingerprint card, and return it to my employer for a more thorough background check.  Nothing I had ever done before, but I made it happen.  Paid the $30 at the Bartlett PD, was fingerprinted and dropped the pre-paid envelope in the white fedex box.  A day later I received an email from the pre-employment team, saying they needed court disposition notating the status of an old issue on my record.  All they could give me was:  10/04/2007 - Memphis Police Department.

When I read the email I rolled my eyes.
"They need documentation about those expired tags I went to court for, back in the day", I told Michael.  I made a few phone calls, talked to a few people, and was able to get my court disposition faxed to the pre-employment team within a few minutes.  So now we were good to go!  That is where I sat, that Friday afternoon.  Happy and ready.

The phone rang on my bedside table.  I sat indian style on our bed, laptop before me, working earnestly.  My cell screen showed a New Jersey number; this wasn't too strange, as I had already spoken with people in Louisiana, Phoenix, North Carolina -- all assisting with our upcoming move.  So I answered...

"Hello?  This is Marie."
"Hello, is this Marie Ryan?"
"Yes, it is."
"Marie, this is [lets call her...] Denise.  I am with the pre-employment team.  Thank you for sending in your court disposition."
"Sure!  Wasn't a problem at all.  Did that resolve any questions you had?"
"Well, not quite.  On this fax, it shows the resolution of the two instances on your record.  Expired tags and driving w an expired license."
"Yes ma'am -- that was in 2007, but I received two tickets that day.  I appeared in court with an attorney and both items were paid and resolved at that point."
"I see.  Well the problem is, you did not send us anything on the third charge."
"Third charge?" I sat upright in bed.  What?
"Yes.  Your court disposition shows two, but the fingerprint background check shows three.  The third charge to your name, which we need information on, is for..."  I heard her shuffle through some papers at her desk.  "The third charge is for an Unlawful Possession of a Weapon".

I think I laughed.  Honestly, I didn't know what to say.  This had to have been a joke.

"Unlawful possession of a weapon? Hah... you're sure that is to my name?  I'm married now, my maiden name was Marie Balla in 2007.  Are you sure that's correct?"
"Yes ma'am.  Your name now is Marie V Ryan?  Name at the time was Marie V Balla?  Your birthdate is xx/xx/xxxx?  Your social security number is xxx-xx-xxxx?"
"Yes, yes, yes, yes....... but, I've never heard of this charge before.. I-I-I don't know what to say.  It's not mine.  I didn't do that."
"You weren't arrested on 10/04/2007?"
"No!  No... I've never been arrested.  Ever."
"It says here you were arrested on 10/04/2007 and you pled guilty to the charge."
"I'm sorry.  I didn't do this.  I have never been arrested.  I've never pled guilty to anything."

The conversation ended shortly thereafter with Denise telling me she would do some double-checking.  She was confused, although not as much as I.  I sat on the bed, with my head spinning.  I was starring at the computer screen but I couldn't think.  Michael walked into the room and he saw a tear roll down my face.  I repeated the conversation, told him what she had told me, and we both sat there.

"I didn't do this, Michael.  I swear I didn't.  I have no idea what she's talking about.  What am I supposed to do?"  Neither one of us had answers.  I worked as best as I could until I heard back from Denise.  She explained she checked, double-checked and triple checked.  She told me this charge was on my name, no doubt about it.  She said she needed to have a court disposition of the resolution of this charge, or some sort of official letter from the FBI that this charge was cleared.  She told me I needed to provide this to her.  Until then, my start date would have to be pushed back OR Chase may have to retract my job offer.  This was late Friday afternoon, practically at the end of my last CBRE work day.  And I was being told that I didn't quite have a new job yet/at all... because of something I had never done.  And it was now in my hands to prove my innocence.

Que the tears.

She told me more:

-My name was connected with this charge as well as to another name:  Perry Brunt
-My record had my info (name, DOB, SSN) and it had another set of data.  A different name (Mr. Brunt's), DOB and SSN.
-All of Mr. Brunt's charges but the main charge was this Unlawful possession of a weapon

Thanks and Happy Friday.
There was very little I could do that day.  I think I made some more phone calls to multiple offices of Memphis, most of which were dead ends.  No one could bring up this mystery charge.  They put in my name, my info and yet no charge of a weapon.  Memphis couldn't find it.  The lawyer I had hired back in 2007, who accompanied me during my 5 minute court appearance, was GONE.  His phone number and name comes up via Google, but the line must be disconnected.  I tried every which way to contact him.  SURELY he'd have a file on me, or would be able to tell me what to do!  Perhaps that would have been true if I could have gotten a hold of him.
Then it was closing time, no one would be answering their phones any more that weekend.  I pretty much melted down.  I had no idea where to start.  I had no idea how to prove my innocence and maintain my job!  All the pressure was on;  no more income, house is half-packed, trip planned to look at houses, but now all of that was in jeopardy.  And I had all weekend to think about it.

Luckily Michael was my rock, and assured me everything would be alright.  That Friday and then Saturday, I was a mess.  I couldn't believe any of this was happening.  She said the FBI generated this report!  The FBI? What the-?
Michael would snap me out of it.  There was nothing to do now.  All offices were closed.  He assured me we would start work on it early Monday morning and all of this would be resolved.  That Sunday I wrote out a three page Challenge of my Criminal Summary Report and sent it via FedEx Overnight.  Monday morning, I was up early, waiting for 8:15 to roll around so I could call the FBI office of Memphis (random start time, right?).  The rest of the week was a blur;  every day was the same.

Called FBI Memphis office.  Of no help.
Called FBI Headquarters in WV.  Told my story to three people.  Finally one individual started to help.  He referred me to the TN Bureau of Investigation and gave me a few other tips.  Spent the rest of that day and the next and the next on the phone.  It all kind of blurred together after a while.  Calling, waiting for returned calls, emailing Chase with updates, calling Denise and making sure I had all the details correct, called multiple Memphis offices, explaining my story over and over and over and over.  Finally Michael and I decided that talking to a lawyer.  I didn't do this and nothing was really getting resolved.  I was trying not to panic.  We made the call, told my story again, set up an appointment.  Some theories were tossed around.  No one could understand HOW this happened.

I mean... people get their identities stolen all the time.  They get their wallets stolen, birth date and social security number thieved, but NO ONE gets their fingerprints stolen.  When I told my story to officials I would get asked the same questions...

"So, when were you arrested?"
"I WASN'T arrested.  That's the problem."
"But, the arrest is on your FBI fingerprint record.  That means it happened.  Your fingerprints cant be stolen."
Then I would fight the tears.  Sometimes I won, sometimes I didn't.
"In any case, if you say you didn't do this you still need to speak with the arresting department."
"The Memphis Police Department?"
"But--"  I tried not to argue but it was a vicious circle.  The Memphis PD didn't pull up anything to my name, re: a weapons charge.  How was I supposed to prove my innocence when Memphis tells me the charge isn't there, but the FBI tells me it is?!!

I printed fingerprint cards and the appropriate forms.  Checked bank accounts to make sure money was readily available.  Drove to the Bartlett PD to be finger printed; they only do prints Wed & Fri.  We had to come back the next day.  Woke up early every day, tossed and turned at night.  Then, panic.

I was bleeding.  Bad.
This wasn't normal.  This was a lot.
Lots of blood.

I called my doctor, asked for advice.  They told me to come in right away.  Michael and I drove in and we were prioritized;  ultrasound then exam.  Doctor finally reassured us that baby girl 2 was fine.  He wasn't quite sure what caused the bleeding but in the back of my mind I was thinking of the stress.  All of the stress. I knew everything was going to be alright, but every day scared me.  I felt like I was in a bad dream, and I could only hope Chase would hold out for me to get this all resolved.  We went home that day and just relaxed.  No more phone calls.  No more emails.  The rest of that day was for rest.

The next day we were at the Bartlett PD, getting finger printed.  I had gone thru this before.  I knew the drill.  Met nice police officers who insisted this was the best part about their day; getting prints for non-criminals.  I smiled at that.  That's who I was.  A non-criminal.  I was smiling because it was true and I was gonna prove it.  Per the FBI I was to send those prints off to an FBI-Approved Channeler who would run my prints and provide me a copy of my criminal history report.  I couldn't do squat without my own copy.  Drop $30 on the fingerprints.  Drop $70 on the Channeler background check.  Drop $30 for overnight delivery to Oregon.  I didn't keep track of all that we spent during this time, getting everything resolved, but I kept all the receipts.  They are between the many pages of the file that contains copies of every note and every conversation and every email I had those few weeks.

Prints were sent to the Channeler.  Now we waited.  I rested.  I tried not to stress.  The background check arrived and there it was.  The bogus charge in black and white, under my name.  I had it in my hands and now on to fix it.  I got ready to send it off to the FBI but made a few more phone calls.  I'm glad I did because the resolution came fast at that point.  The next three days I was on the phone with multiple people, FBI in WV, TBI in Nashville, Records Dept of Memphis... telling and retelling my story.  Getting routed this way and that.  Leaving voice messages.  But getting into contact with people who were truly intrigued by my story and interested in helping.

One morning, at 7:30am I received a phone call from my contact at the TBI.  She started off by apologizing profusely.  I mean, PROFUSELY.  She didn't know how all of this happened, but she fixed it.

She continued talking but all I heard was that she fixed it.
I think I might have started crying [again].  Tears of joy!  SHE FIXED IT!!!!!
She said the error occurred in Memphis.  Somehow this guy's charge was attached to my name back on 10/04/2007.  I never knew because why would I ever need to run my fingerprints/criminal history report??  Memphis somehow found the error and fixed it, but they never fixed the error on the federal level.  So this entire time I was running around with a federal offense on my record.  Who knows how this could have affected me??  She apologized again.  Again and again.  I was just overjoyed to have it off my record!!  Not only that but she assured me that if I had my background pulled again it would come up blank (so my guess is that they wiped off the old tag charge as an apology)!

I ran into our bedroom and jumped on our bed, like a kid, and shouted "THEY FIXED IT"!!!!

My joy can't be conveyed into words, but I promise that was one of the happiest I have been.  I can only imagine what death row innocent people feel like when a saving grace finally proves they're innocence.

Michael and I had an appointment with our lawyer, so although everything was resolved we attended.  He didn't advise that we pursue any lawsuit.  We left happy.  Now I just had to let Chase know, have them re-run the prints and hope/pray everything did come back clear.

They did come back clear.  Chase said they had never received such a fast turnaround on a background check.  It was done overnight!  The individuals who I worked with at Chase said they were sure I was innocent;  I sent emails to them every day and they knew someone who was guilty wouldn't have been so vigilant.  They congratulated me for getting thru this crazy scenario and rescheduled my start date:  March 24th.

So here I am, having been out of work for almost a month.  3/4th of that time was a dream.  NO -- a nightmare!  The rest of the time I've been relaxing, packing, and looking for houses.  We were able to make a trip down to LA, with no luck of finding a house.  Since then we have been virtually-searching, and hoping we can find something in the next week or two.  Tomorrow we (Michael, Bria, Rigby and I) will drive down.  We will tour houses, then I will start work.  If no house is found, Michael and Bria will head back to Memphis, until we find a place.  If we do find a home, Bria will stay with me (start daycare), while Michael comes back to finish packing and to rodeo the entire moving project.

This is our plan.
But as I know, plans don't always work out.  The strangest and most oddball hiccups happen when you least expect them.  It's what you do in the face of those situations that makes the difference.  If our plan doesn't work out the way we'd like, I know we can get thru it anyway.  We stuck together, managed not to take our stress out on each other, and we rocked that FBI fiasco.  We can get thru anything now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Let Her Sleep

When I attended art college we did a "blindfold" exercise.  The class was standing, with over-sized pads of paper on easels before us.  Our fingers grasped chunks of charcoal (its like the artist's beginner weapon -- they feel if we waste/destroy charcoal not much will be wasted at all).  The instructor turned on a concerto piece, of which I can't remember now, but she told us to close our eyes and put medium to the paper.  She told us to draw what we heard.  To press down when the music was intense, but to lift up when the music was pianississimo.  I was enjoying the project, and my curiosity grew the further into the composition we went because there was both -- soft, slow parts, and then there was a staccato, allegro section, followed by a bold fortississimo.  My drawing -must- have been so dynamic and I felt my 8 years of playing clarinet, listening to the different sounds of each horn, gave me an advantage.  That was when the instructor casually meandered by my easel and said "Ooh... we have an Expressionist here".  My eyes widened, and I couldn't help but look at my lines.  They were all thick and dark.  I had felt my hand lighten its grasp on the charcoal in the soft moments of the music, and I had pulled back from the paper, but my bold streaks were indeed just that -- BOLD.  They over-powered my soft streaks.  But the drawing was still beautiful.  The dark, thick inky streaks followed a pattern on the page and as I looked around the room at the end of the assignment, I realized my paper was the darkest of all of them.  I was a bold expressionist.

But I knew then that I always had been.  When looking at past paintings I really painted in that expressionism tone: what I saw/painted was subjective to how I felt.  Distorted lines and shapes, exaggerated colors are used for an emotional impact.  I am proud to be an expressionist, sharing the category with Vincent Van Gogh, Kirchner, and Munch.

So now, when I complete a painting, I am not surprised when it takes me a different direction than that of which I originally anticipated.  I am currently in the middle of one that is throwing me for a loop.  Of course I can't show you that one until I'm finished, but here is my last piece:

Let Her Sleep
Dimensions: 4' x 4'
Main Theme: Childhood, and lavishing in childish imagination
Pop Culture: My daughter’s figure as seen on her nighttime monitor, and the Sandy Hook shooting
Quote: “Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world”. – Napoleon Bonaparte
Song: Perpetuum Mobile by the Penguin Café Orchestra

Summary: This painting was influenced greatly by childhood and the idea of supporting a child’s imagination, growth, and innocence. My daughter’s sleeping figure established the basic lines and shapes of the painting, of which are not easily seen as it’s an abstract expressionistic piece. Her nightly dreams and her evolving imagination touched me and inspired the bright colors and the varying textures. The painting’s distinct contrasting colors, and some of the brighter shades, were added after the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. Having the news event in my mind as I painted gave it a sense of urgency. Every day with a child is a day to influence their imaginations, and to find a way to make their lives magical. As if the painting started out as my daughter’s dream, it ended up as the dreams of the 20 children who lost their lives on 12/14/2012. The painting was not meant to be a melancholy portrait, but more of a depiction of a child’s dream with the sense of urgency to let it be. The time when imagination is magical is short-lived.

If you would like to commission a painting, please send me a message or email.  Depending on the cost of paint and canvas the prices range from $75 - $250+.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

She lives.

I know, it's been a while and I'm almost ashamed to show my face here again. I mean, do real mom-bloggers ever slack like that?

I should hope so. 

Raising my kid comes first. Then being a good wife (yikes for sounding like I'm outta the 40s). Then being a good family member/friend. Then making the money.

So yeah, blogging falls pretty low on my list. Sorry folks.

BUT, I did realize the other day that I need to blog. If nothing else, to remember. People ask me questions about babies and I'm like "Dude, I dunno. I've slept since then" (which, bytheway, is a total insult to new moms). So going back to review my blogs has helped me remember.

Bria will be 1.5 this month! Look at how far we've come, people! We've kept her alive for one and a half years! With all the tantrums/demon-possessions, messes, health-scares (crazy non-itchy, non-hurting, all-body random rash = weekend trip to the doctor's office), food experiments, diaper discoveries, baby sitters, and more. I'm pretty stoked. I mean, not only do I like this whole "mom" thing... but I'm convinced I'm the best that's ever been.

When Bria grows up she will write a book about how fantastic her mom was (her dad too; he's pretty stellar). She'll praise our tactics (que flashback of us stifling a laugh while she throws a tantrum. Nothing quite as funny as a person throwing themselves down and rolling around, screaming), our tender care (flashback to me putting socks on her bc her feet are cold, even though I know she'll prolly slip on the hardwood floor), our entertainment value (flashback of my "dancing" and "singing" to Jason Mraz/Christmas music/90s music/Doc McStuffins songs), and our beautiful abode (current view: nothing is where it belongs).

...who am I kidding. Being a parent is a whole new level of 'hard'. I'm not trying to be perfect, nor do I claim to have all the answers. Even a year and a half in, I'm trying to figure it out.

"Bria won't eat today" Michael tells me. I shrug my shoulders and feed her something, anything, that she'll actually ingest.

"She just threw a tantrum because I didn't peel the banana fast enough", I say.
Then I eat the banana (trying to teach her that tantrums don't get her what she wants).

She hits/punches/kicks one of us or another adult. (sigh)
Oh the techniques we've implemented and tried to use to cure this. I'll write a blog post when she's 100% cured of her lashing-out. Until then we just read the signs: is she tired, is she rubbing her eyes, is she getting tantrum-y? We've got about 20 seconds before she pops us.
Quick! Put her down for a nap!

So, you see, if you want adventure, and if you are looking for a life that is different every single day... then you want kids, my friend. No day is the same. Every day you are faced with new challenges. No day is ever perfect, or easy. But through all of these challenges, the triumphs far outweigh the defeats. In fact, I try not to classify anything as a "defeat". It's all a learning experience. Those multiple restaurant trips, when one of us walked her around outside instead of eating, those were moments when we learned that Bria can't handle restaurants. Or rather, restaurants can't handle Bria. They were also moments when we realized if we gatta go out to eat, we're doing it at 3pm, and we're doing it at Chili's (or some other kid-friendly establishment, where the other customers aren't expecting a quiet/romantic/serene/clean dinner because they had kids of their own).

Basically, we've got it good. I thank the Lord every day that we have a healthy, happy toddler. I still cherish the simple things (watching her sleep, the tight hugs she dishes out, her smile, quiet time when a sitter keeps her over night, etc). And I still can't wait to expand our family even more (calm down. Its not happening yet). More than anything, Bria has taught me how to approach life.
We could have it SOOOOO much worse than we do.
We could be in a MUCH worse situation than we are.
We truly have been BLESSED.
Whether you're spiritual, religious, or nothing at all... you've gatta appreciate what you've got.


Colts fan? Daddy wishes.

My last bit of advice is to adopt an optimistic view on life. Motherhood, and life in general, are gonna be tough. You know this. I know this. We all know its not gonna be easy.
But be a deliberate optimist. Be a deliberate mother. Deliberately choose joy. Smile on purpose. Work hard at being happy. Work hard at raising your kids right. It's so important to teach your kids that it's possible to make it through the hard times. To teach them to smile even when things get bad, just because they know it will get better again one day. And, if you're the type, to teach them that He's got a plan.


Chocolate lover.

Singing like mommy?

Pillow Fort

And then when you're having a bad day, maybe you've believe it too.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why do photographers cost so much?

So, apparently this topic is a trend right now, and understandably so. There is such a pricing gap out there in the photography market, and with all the competition, its next to impossible to grow your photo biz. Bad juju. Regardless, pricing is the first thing people look for in everything they do, so it makes sense to know what you’re buying. So, why is it some photographers cost so much while others do not?

I’m gonna refer to photographers in two ways today: Full Timers and Part Timers. I’ve been the latter for about 6 years now. I’ve also worked for a company that had set prices/packages, and where some employees made it their living. And I’ve met tons of people making it in between.

But back to the question: WHY?!
Briefly, you’re paying for the time, tools, and talent.
That’s what it boils down to in the service providing business. In some situations, you’re even paying for a product: printed photos, photo books, and other accessories. Depending on whether the photographer requires you to buy a print package or not is a factor there.

So, time, tools and talent.

Full Time photogs have Full Time business expenses.
These folks are the crème de la crème, and are usually the ones barking about "you get what you pay for!", and technically yes this is true. Full Timers make most of their financial living off of their business, which means they invest a lot of their own money into their work. They SHOULD have the time, and tools, to make your photos look superb. They might even have a studio, or lighting equipment, backdrops, websites, photo-viewing services, printing packages, advertisements, multiple cameras, multiple lenses, etc. and you are buying all of that when you go with them.

Time and tools, my friends, time and tools.

If you can swing it, I would highly recommend hiring a photographer like this; you will definitely be investing in a service provider that can give you 100% of their attention.

Part Timers have a different full-time job, whereas photography is a hobby, or at most a weekend job. The majoring of their income is generated by a different job altogether. However, it’s important to note that these photographers are NOT any less serious, less business savvy, less talented, less capable, or will deliver a lower quality photo/experience.

DIDJA HEAR ME? I said part timers are humans too! In fact, they may be able to relate a little more to the average middle-class photo shopper, because odds are you got bills to pay and cant just whip out the plastic for some daggum pictures.

The downfall is time and tools (wow, those two words again?). Part timers most likely do not have 8 working hours in the day to take and edit their pictures. Usually they’re fitting edit time in here and there, or on the weekends. They also usually have limited expenses: 1 camera, 1 or 2 lenses, no studio, no lighting equipment, no website, no advertisements, no taxes, etc.

Something that can sway either way, no matter the business level, is the last T: talent. A part time photographer is not any less talented than a full timer, and vise versa. I have seen, and met, MANY talented part timers (ahem, me included!), that either DON’T WANT to, or CAN’T YET make it to full time status. This is the most difficult thing to price, as well. I mean, this is a service, but this is also an artform, and art ranges in price from free to millions of dollars. Some people base their entire photography package prices on their talent (and time spent using their talent) alone. This doesn’t seem fair to me, because no matter how much money I make, I am always working towards that pay raise at the end of the year. Aren’t you? If I work hard, the value for my time and talent should always increase. But your pocketbooks don’t feel that way, so you NEED to spend your money wisely.

If you’re in the market for a photographer, consider these things:
- You should be paying for time and tools. Their tools are your tools.
- You SHOULDN’T be paying a ton of money for a PART TIME photographer, who only charges outrageous prices because they CAN.
- You SHOULDN’T pay extra for the photographer to use additional equipment. Say you’re doing a natural light shoot, but the photographer says: It’s getting dark, let me break out the strobe light. It’ll cost you a little bit more, but...
- You need to set expectations and if the photog doesn’t live up to them, get pissy: they say a 2nd person will be at your wedding, then that should happen! They say you’ll get your photos within 2 weeks, then that should happen. They say you’ll get online viewing rights, then you should!
- Ask the photog about their equipment. Even if you don’t understand the lingo. Ask them for a list of everything they’ve got, and then Google the stuff, or ask your photog friend. Do they require you buy a photo package? Do they print their own photos? What is the printer name? Can you see samples? Is the photo paper nice? Are the colors a good quality? Do they use a printing company? What is the name of the printing company? Do your research: check how much that photog is jacking up the prices. Do they use more than 1 camera? They should if they use more than 1 lens. Do they use natural, strobe, or flash lighting? Do they have extra batteries? What editing programs do they use?
- Ask about their experiences: How was their first wedding? Great, they say? They’re lying. How many wedding have they done since then?

Whoa, hold up.
Warning: Some photogs get offended when you get nosy about their prices. I mean, they have had other people pay those amounts, and they think it’s fair, so why should you be so interested?? But if you’re gonna put a few thou down on a car, or on a wedding venue, or for your labor and delivery, you wanna make sure you know exactly what you’re spending your money on. If it’s a good fit. If the vendor is honest, and charging appropriately. If you’re getting into a contract with someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, or they’re over charging for prints that you can get somewhere else for a better deal. Seriously. It’s good business, folks.

Lastly, I say all of this as a part time photographer who has the hopes and dreams of becoming a full timer one day. When that day comes, yes, my prices may increase. I will be able to offer my clients that extra time, some extra services (web-viewing), and hopefully use some better tools (believe me, I have a list 10 miles long of lenses I’d love to buy). In the meantime, you can benefit from my part-time status, as long as you understand you’re investing in a part time photographer, full time corporate office worker, full time wife, and full time mom. I won’t overbook my schedule, so that I can get your photos to you in the best time frame possible. I am usually only available on weekends, and let’s make that a morning shoot (cause we both got other things to do).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Parents Like to Party Too

So you may have heard something about M and I throwing a wedding party. It's hard to believe, but we're doing it. Although the major events of our lives kinda happened outta order, we're truly blessed, and truly happy that everything has happened as such. We wanna celebrate. We wanna invite those who have supported us through thick and thin, and we wanna feed them, dance with them, and clink glasses together with them. We wanna congratulate ourselves on making it this far -- in marriage and in family, cause LAWD knows this ain't easy. And really, I think this is a smart choice. I mean, sure spending oodles of cash before you're married sounds like fun but when you actually get your hands dirty in it, in the marriage, and you start a family and deal with a few years of extremes... then you really don't have a whole lot to celebrate yet. I'm proud to say that M and I have made it this far, and we're still wild about each other. If you ask me, that's a pretty damn good reason to celebrate.

So, this weekend we're meeting with our wedding planners! Why wedding planners? Because when you're a busy individual, married with a kid, planning a party isn't something you wanna stress about. Hiring a planner was definitely on my priority list if we wanted to make this thing happen. Luckily for us, we found some FANTASTIC folks. Karla and Mareo have been superb so far (and we've only just started)! I can't wait to get hip-deep, full-throttle, overdrive and overloaded into planning, with the help of IBLE (Inspired By Love Events, Memphis) because I know they're going to help little-ol-spastic-me stay on top of things.

Check out their site here. I'll be singing their praises during this next year, just wait.

The homework I was given for our next meeting includes gathering more details on: colors, theme, vision, budget breakdown, and venue sites. First I tackled the most important (okay, so the most fun); colors, theme, and vision.

The best way for me to describe what I want IN WORDS is:  
Warm, romantic, classic and rustic

But yall know that I do better with pictures, so what I described above might look a little like this:

Is it bad that this picture is my inspiration? 
Mercury glass, burlap/tweed, crisp whites and gold hues. 

With deep navy blue accents.

 Simple and romantic flowers.

Whites and pale yellows maybe?
Love the dreaminess!

Games! I want games like these big domino pieces, maybe giant Jenga, or scrabble?

Texture -- I like the newspaper and brown paper sack textures.

And of course, good/dramatic lighting (only a photographer...). 
These would also look great as mercury glass candle-holders.

No cake for us. Pies please!

Would love to have a "photo booth" in couch form.
Dunno if we can make this happen though.

As for the budget, M and I are trying to stay under $7,000; which is inclusive of the planners, my  dress, M's suit, etc. The ENTIRE party under 7k... can it be done? Creating a budget is probably our best strategy at this point. Knowing where the money is going, and what we'll be spending it on, and how we can cut corners. Every single penny needs to be detailed out. And being that I'm an Analyst during my 9 to 5 its natural that I defaulted to an Excel workbook. I'll share those financial details soon.

As far as venue goes -- hopefully we'll go on a tour of some cool places soon. I'm crossing my fingers we can check out my favorite venue this weekend, and I'm also crossing my fingers that it's cost-efficient enough so we can go with it.

Either way, I'll take pictures, and I'll take notes, and I'll share this experience with you guys as we go.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Baby Shoot // Marian Jackson

Okay, so I lied when I said I wouldn't recap what all has happened in the past few weeks. This is something I had to share because she's just too cute NOT to.

I have been photography-less since April of last year (that's a wopping five months, folks) and kinda lost the itch. I mean, I just didn't have the time! But my best friend recently gave birth to her first baby, Marian, and I offered up my services. One thing that has changed since the last time I've taken to the camera is that I've had a baby of my own. Birthing your own child is the best form of experience when it  comes to infant photography. My session with Marian was beautiful, and now I'm itching for another baby shoot.

It helps that I'm in love with this entire family. Heather, Tommy, and now Marian, are close friends of mine and I so hope they love the pictures as much as I loved taking them. I can't wait for our little girls to grow together, and for our families to create memories. :)

With love,
Marie R.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Forceful Life Phases

Waiting is for wimps. When I want something, I often times go after it (*ahem* Michael *ahem*).
I know that patience is key, but sometimes you just gatta take life by the nips and make things happen.

Troof, right?

So, to celebrate getting shitake done I may be putting a little bit of pressure on myself here to write a blog entry.  Trying to get back into the habit here, so any little cheerleading you wanna do will so encourage me -- feel free! I'm ignoring the stinky stack of dirty dishes in the sink, and turning my nose up from the toys that need to be put away. I'm -GASP- taking a moment for myself, to do something that I wanna do!

Moms, you feel me, don't you?

So, I'm just going to pretend I see you on a daily basis and you know exactly what has happened within the last few months. Not even gonna try to recap everything right now. If you haven't mastered mind-reading, and facebook stalking, then you need to shape up or ship out.

There is a lot currently going on, and even MORE on the horizon. I have oodles of DIY projects currently in the works (literally half done projects litter my house, but its only because I don't have enough hours in the day). Here's my life in bullet points, or slashes... whatever:

// 30 Day Shred (as of yesterday)
// Halloween at work
// Halloween at home! Trick or treating!
// Costumes for the fam
// Picking pumpkins
// Painting or carving pumpkins
// Decorating the house
// Making my first wreath (Pinterest post!)
// Thanksgiving at home
// Christmas at home
// Day Makers Project 2012
// New Years at home
// 2013 Resolution: Organize Our Lives (already in the works, with excel spreadsheet and all)
// Bridal Shower, hosted by moi in OH (April)
// Bachelorette party, hosted by moi in Nashville (May)
// Brianna's 2nd Birthday (July)
// J's Wedding, in OH (August)
// Another J's wedding, in OH (June)
// OUR WEDDING! (Oct) Yes, you heard me right... we have begun the planning process for our "reception" doohickey. Planners have been hired. More details later.

So, this is a great wide open overview. I have multiple excel workbooks on, available to me anytime if I should have a few moments to do more pre-planning (in line at the grocery store, right before bed, after washing dishes and before throwing out the trash, whatever). It's quite insane how much we have going on next year with 3 weddings, one being our own, the Organize Our Lives project (OOL, as I'll call it), Day Makers Project, and the rest. Parties, parties, pinterest, pinterest, prayer, prayer... Think I can handle it?

Well, whatever comes our way I am going to try to get it down on... paper/blog. I hope my misadventures amuse you as much as they entertain me. And remember to laugh a little. What's a list like that without a crazy little good madness laugh?

On my way out, I'll share some instagram lovin' with yall.