Making Tough Decisions

1-Video 18-72

See that sweet group of girls? This was our end of the retreat shot at Mermaids and Mamas last year. Earlier this week I came to grips with the fact that I wasn't going to be able to see that shot this year. At least not like this.

On Tuesday, I had to make the heartbreaking decision to cancel Mermaids and Mamas Artful Adventure 2013, for now anyway. It was particularly heartbreaking since I had just spent the better part of five days promoting Mermaids and Mamas at One Spark.  The basics of the facts are insurance issues. I had to provide the college with liability insurance to rent the Outdoor Center, and I thought I had it all worked out nearly a month ago. I was working with the agent who holds my homeowner's policy (who shall remain somewhat nameless...cough...State Farm), and they told me in early April that everything was taken care of; I'd have the policy in my hand in about two weeks. Well two weeks came and went and no policy appeared in my mailbox. Monday they called with a few more questions. I answered those questions. Tuesday they called me to say they could not write the policy. "But we have found someone else who can do it for you!" Yeah, at about eight times the cost they had quoted me, and non-refundable. Needless to say, I'm researching new homeowner's insurance agents.

I called my former agent who retired about three years ago, an old family friend I knew I could count on for the best advice.  He gave me a few leads that might have worked, but there just wasn't enough time at this point. I had to commit to the rental, full paperwork ready to go, by May 3...just not enough time to get another policy written. I gave it a day to sink in, praying for a miracle, and then knowing I just had to let it go, contacted my Mamas who had already registered. But I also had a plan to salvage at least a little something. I knew they and their girls would be disappointed, as I knew mine would (I hadn't told them yet), so I decided to invite them all over to my house instead. We certainly don't have room for everyone to sleep over like we would have at the retreat center, but we could at least make a day of it...a back up Mermaids and Mamas at the main Mermaids and Mama's house. Though all the moms were disappointed, they were also incredibly supportive, and to my delight, said, "We'll see you on the 18th!"

So there you have it. Our Mermaids and Mamas may not be gathered on that particular picnic table, but we have one heck of a picnic table at our house that will serve as a great back up. I told the girls today, and though they are very sad we won't be at the retreat center for a sleepover event, they're happy that they'll still get to have an art play day with a bunch of friends. And us Mamas will still get to have an art play day with OUR friends and our girls.  

Thank you, Mamas. You forever have my gratitude. Next year, I'll start on insurance paperwork in November.

Catching Up on Breathing with Best Shot Monday!


It's been an absolutely insane three weeks for me, but a good bit of the chaos wrapped up yesterday. I participated in One Spark Wednesday-Sunday and in the middle of it all photographed a wedding Saturday.  I still have three big events coming up at work (including Commencement!) but other than Commencement, at least my weekends are free for a couple weeks.   

So here's my best shot Monday!  I had the pleasure of shooting Amber and Jarrod's wedding, and this is one of my favorite shots.  I have tons of editing to do but this one jumped out at me to share quickly.  Amber is the daughter of one of my sister's childhood friends (yes, I feel old now).  She was a lovely bride and I know she and Jarrod have a lifetime of happy love ahead of them. Congratulations Amber and Jarrod!  Thanks for letting me share your big day with you! 

Bringing Back Best Shot Monday!

Back porch shell-72

I used to participate in Tracey Clark's Best Shot Monday a while back. I've been trying to get back to a regular blogging schedule and wanted to get back into BSM, but when I hopped over to Tracey's blog, I saw that she had stopped doing it. Well, needing some motivation, I contacted Tracey on Facebook and asked her if she minded if I brought it back, and she happily said sure!  So here's my first crack back at it!

We've had quite a bit of rain lately. This Queen Conch sits at the top of the stairs on the back deck next to where Molly and Isabelle like to stand and watch guard over their domain.  She's about 10 inches long and one of a gazillion shells we have around the house.  Benny found her in the Keys years ago.  I thought she looked so pretty sitting out there in the rain, so I grabbed my camera, with a 55-200mm telephoto lens, and actually took this picture through the glass of the French doors.  It was raining after all!   

Have a picture you'd like to share?  Post it on your blog, or on Flickr, and share the link in the comments!  I'd love to take a look!

And So Are You...

Neon Stripe Socks-72

This is all that matters really, isn't it? The little legs and heart and brain that rise above those neon socks? Sure, they are Sarah's neon socks on my front steps that obviously need a cleaning, but they could be any little girl's socks or any little boy's socks. Or even any big girl's or big boy's socks. It's the person that wears them that matters. Today I was reminded that I'm in a position to make a difference in other people's lives, and that is truly a gift I have been given. I'm in a position to do so much more than help a student figure out what classes she should take next term. Or help a little girl figure out what she should wear to school tomorrow. And I hope I did that today. I hope I had the right words.

But you know what? So are you. Every one of us is in a position to make a positive difference in someone else's life if only we take the opportunities that are often sitting right in front of us, so close that we may not even realize it. We proverbially can't see the forest for the trees. What can you do to make a difference? It's sometimes the smallest of gestures that can have the biggest of impacts.

It's been one of those days...  By the way, have you seen the documentary Waiting for Superman? I showed that to my ENC 1102 class tonight. Watch it. Find it on Netflix. It's worth your 111 minutes.

April Free Bling Friday!

April 2013 Free Bling

Ready to get back to Free Bling Friday!?  I'm changing things up a bit!  I'd still love for you to visit my shops (here for jewelry and here for photography), but each month, I'm going to give you a question to ponder instead of picking a favorite item! 

April starts wedding season in these parts, and I'm photographing a wedding on the 20th and another one next month.  To get your name in the hat for these lovely aqua crystal earrings, share with me your answer to this question: How do you know when you've met "The One"?  Along with your answer, include your location and a way to reach you by midnight May 2. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, May 3.

Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice over there in the right column. And be sure to like my Facebook page or sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website here for specials. Thanks for stopping in! Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.

Sharing a Little Easter Fun

Easter 13-72
Sarah and Olivia enjoying the lake
I don't have much extended family, so I'm blessed that Benny does, and many of them are right here in Jacksonville. Every Easter, everyone gathers down at the lake house on Lake Geneva near Keystone Heights. I'm so thankful that this gang has accepted me as one of their own and so happy my girls can grow up knowing all these cousins.
Easter 32-72
Lily loving the tire swing
Even though the lake was pretty darn cold, that didn't stop the kids from swimming. There's also a great tire swing, which I must have pushed the girls on for at least half the day because I'm STILL sore from it! I've also become the official family photographer, so I enjoy taking pictures of everyone, especially the kids. This year, we finally took a large group photo. Had this been planned, of course, I would have brought my wide angle lens, but as it was, I made due with the one lens I brought with me: a 55-200mm telephoto! It's perfect for catching sneaky shots of the kids, but to get the big group shot, I used a ladder placed about 100 feet from the group! Next year, I'll bring my wide angle!

Easter 26-72
The whole gang!  About two-thirds of this group are cousins!
I hope those of you that celebrate Easter had a joyful holiday!