Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday Photoshoot

Pin It Yesterday I took on a photoshoot of two adorable little boys at the park. Admittedly, it was much more complicated in attempts of getting shots of the older brother; mostly because he was so anxious to try this, that, and everything else; he was hardly standing still for even a moment. Meanwhile, his younger brother was a much easier subject from the simple fact that is mobility was limited to shorter legs and thick snow.

The shoot only took about twenty minutes in all; because of the weather they were both soon ready to head indoors to warmth and undoubtedly episodes of Blue’s Clues and Sesame Street; however, I was able to catch a few first-rate snapshots before they did so.

My next shoot is tomorrow…after that, I have nothing else booked for this week’s photo adventure. Well, maybe a trip to southern Utah if nothing else comes up. To be honest, I really haven’t quite decided as of yet.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekend Photoshoot

Pin It Undoubtedly a few of you have probably been wondering where I’ve been for the past few days…

Projects. Need I say more?

I had a photoshoot over the weekend which was fun. It turned out to be one BIG family which consisted of seven smaller families. This is, by far, the largest group I’d ever done a shoot of before (the largest group before this had nine kids (yep, that would be you, Gerb) and their parents. If you’re wondering, I don’t count the class photos that I’ve done for the past few years which generally have about thirty people in them).

We met up at a location in Lehi, which leant nicely to the images.

Here are a few of my favorites..

I’d write more, but I have another photoshoot in about 30 minutes that I need to get ready for….

Friday, December 26, 2008

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas without a tree

Pin It I was reminded the other day of a Christmas I celebrated while I was a missionary in Litchfield, Illinois a decade ago. I remember this particular Christmas because it was the first year I’d ever celebrated the holiday without a tree. My missionary companion wanted to get one, but I told him about a family I knew back in Washington, the Dixons, who’d celebrated the season without one.

I told him about how they’d instead gathered branches, and with pieces of twine, had constructed a manger they’d filled with straw. I told him how they’d placed their presents to each other underneath the manger—a visual reminder of the greatest gift, the one which was given to us all on this holy night we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

That year, I wanted to do the same thing. So my companion and I collected branches from the neighborhood and constructed a manger for our little flat, garnishing it with white lights to help us remember the true ‘light’ of the world. In the manger we’d placed a careworn blanket and the gifts from our families were positioned below it.

That was the year that I really started to understand the true meaning of Christmas…after all, it’s far too easy to lose oneself in all of the goodies, the beautifully decorated tree, and friends who come a-calling. Sometimes we forget the reason we really give gifts when we’re skirmishing crowds at busy shopping malls and department stores.

The true meaning—and reason—for Christmas I think it is summed up wonderfully by Linus van Pelt, from Charles Schultz’ cartoon, Peanuts.

Let us not forget.


Pin It There is a musical group I recently discovered which I now love. The band calls themselves, “Jerrytown,” and they have some wonderful songs.

In the light of it being Christmas Day, I wanted to share a wonderful rendition of, “It Came upon a Midnight Clear.”

As I listened to this song, I decided to look up the lyrics and as I did I was blown away…though Jerrytown only sings two of the verses, the others are hauntingly beautiful…

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

To hear the angels sing

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas.

P.S. You can find three of Jerrytown’s songs here. I especially like, “Big As You Are.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Angel

Pin It It hasn’t felt like Christmas.

To be honest, it hasn’t felt like the holidays for a long time. I remember when I was a kid and Christmas would approach. I’d be filled with a youthful wonder. I’d be unable to sleep. The wonderful thrill of the day to come would overcome both my mind and heart. I’d lie awake for hours waiting, hoping, and anticipating the day to come.

The years have flown since those simpler days, and no matter how one tries to drag their feet, time speeds steadily onward. She does not stop, but instead hastens upon auburn and coffee wings.

To be honest, today felt no different than other days as of late. This is not what I wanted Christmas to be…I wanted snow to be falling from the heavens with gray, overcast skies. I wanted jubilant Christmas songs played while the smell of Christmas cookies drifted about on the warm air. I wanted mugs of steamy, hot chocolate with candy canes and marshmallow foam.

But none of these things were able to awaken the elation of Christmas past. Today was fated to become yet just another day in the history I’ve come to know of as life.

That’s when it happened…but before I go into details, I have to ask the question…

Do you believe in angels?

I’m not talking about glorious manifestations such as those who announced the birth of the Holy Child to shepherds abiding their flocks by night. I know all about those angels…it’s the other angels—the angels around us every day. These are the angels of whom I speak. These are the same type of angels the group, Alabama, sang of in their song entitled, “Angels Among Us.”

When life held troubled times,
and had me down on my knees.

There’s always been someone there
to come along and comfort me.

A kind word from a stranger,
to lend a helping hand.

A phone call from a friend,
just to say I understand.

And ain’t it kind of funny
that at the dark end of the road.

Someone lights the way
with just a single ray of hope.

Oh, I believe
there are angels among us.

Sent down to us
from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me
in our darkest hours.

To show us how to live,
to teach us how to give.

To guide us with a light of love.

This Christmas Eve I had an angel. And to that angel I say, ‘thank you.’ You’ll never know how truly appreciated your visit was.

As the smell of Christmas cookies now waft about the room, as the evening skies darken and the snow reflects the lights of the city, I have to admit…it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

And yes, I do believe in angels.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Forklift Snowplow

Pin It All the snow we’ve gotten over the past few days has reminded me of living in Washington, and the storms we’d get there.

As I was readying for the holidays and clearing out some boxes, I came across a Polaroid snapshot of when I was working at Ernst Home Center and at the Newport Cinemas after I graduated from high school.

As I looked at this photo, I could clearly remember that particular winter where it had snowed quite hard, and I was working out in the lumber yard. Unfortunately, people wanting to pick up supplies were not able to get them if they were in a car without four-wheel drive. We, in turn, were forced to carry these items out to them.

Not too much fun in a foot of snow, to be sure.

To help combat this problem I created this little beauty…I called it, “The Forklift Plow.” It worked like magic, and I was able to clear the entire back lot.

I guess you could say that I was a hero that day.

I could sure use that plow again right now…

Monday, December 22, 2008

The ultimate gift

Pin It I was having dinner with some friends last night, when the topic of photography came up. As the conversation progressed, I bought up the calendar I’d made for my family on the Christmas of 2004.

I remember that Christmas was approaching, and I wanted to give my family something they could use all year long….but what could it be? As I thought about what gift I would like to give, I decided that a calendar would be great. However, instead of merely buying a calendar, I decided to create one.

After some careful thought, I decided that each month would be an advertisement for something. To be honest, I had no idea what any of these items would be at the outset. However, after some time and careful thought, I set out with my ‘brother,’ Jesse, to see what could be created.

On a side note, not too many people really realize the scope of this calendar and just how long it took to create. That is, until you know a little bit about my family. Those who understand that statement I just made realize that this project was a huge undertaking.

Now, for your viewing pleasure (should you decide to stay and take a gander) I present some of my favorite images from the calendar made some four years ago.

P.S. As I look back on these images I realize that if I were to redo it all again today, they would be much better. However, with time comes experience, and with experience comes mastery.
Enjoy these for what they’re worth…

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Return to Christmas

Pin It Do you have a favorite book you like to read at Christmas time? Mine used to be The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, but a score of years ago I discovered another book which has become my seasonal favorite—and it has remained number one since that time. In fact, it’s up there with my top 10 all-time favorite books as well.

Every Christmas I faithfully read this book to my students; they in turn come to love the story too.

The name of the book? A Return to Christmas by Chris Heimerdinger.

What I probably love most about the book is how Chris is able to hook you with a wonderful storyline, and you find yourself dying to know how it can possibly pan out—but trust me, it does.

Read it.

You won't regret it, I promise.

By the way, I found that you can read the first chapter online HERE, plus a the first page of chapter two. That is, if you’re interested.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Pin It The gods of winter were showing no mercy, as I braved the icy roads and swirling cyclones of crystallized air.

I was on a mission.

I had to reach the post office to send off a gift, so that it would arrive before Christmas Day.

I figured that with the weather as terrible as it was, the streets would be nearly empty; those with errands to run, would naturally decide to save their last-minute rushing for another day.

I was wrong. It was as if the bad weather were actually a driving magnet. It felt like rush hour in the middle of town, with everyone creeping along with white knuckles between ten and twelve miles per hour.

Heck, it might even be Christmas by the time I would finally be able to reach the post office.

When I arrived at my destination I was a bit dismayed to see the parking lot jammed full of cars. Wouldn’t you know it, I hadn’t brought my headphones either so my iPod was next to worthless; I was already imagining the line I’d have to stand in which would probably stretch from here until Valentine’s Day…that is, if I didn’t die from old age first.

As I entered into the building I saw that the line was indeed long…how long? Let’s just say that I could have listened to Stairway to Heaven five or six times—the long version—before I would be able to make any headway through that line to send off my package.

I took in a deep breath, braced myself for the worst, and then to what to my wandering eyes should appear? A self-service machine in the foyer with only two people in front of it! Could this be real? I mean, if this machine really did allow you to send mail, why weren’t there more people lined up to utilize its services?

I could only surmise that it was from ignorance.

Well, I promptly joined the ‘self-service’ line and in the time it took Silver Bells to finish playing on the overheads, I was out once-again in a wintry wonderland, and well on my way to a warm, cozy home.

Best of all…I was home before Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I heard the voice...

Pin It Upon arriving home I began to work on various tasks. I’m all about doing the ‘not fun’ stuff in order to get to what I really enjoy. That was when I heard the voice.

It was speaking from the freezer.

I opened the refrigerator door and noticed a white bag which seemed to be calling to me. Now, before you jump to conclusions and imagine disembodied voices, or think that I had a body bag stuffed into my freezer (though there’d be no room for it with the current lack of vacancy in there) I will admit that it was actually a small white bag.

This bag.

I had carefully sealed up this bag over a month ago, ensuring that no air would get inside. I also tucked it away so as it would not to be crushed by other foodstuffs. After all, this little bag was important.

Now, I can almost hear the cogs turning in your brain. “Just what is in that little bag?”

Good question.

It was this…

Remember that cookie I was telling you about before? The one from Safeway which I love so much? Well, it was it.

I had to have it tonight.

So I did...with milk.

I certainly hope that the request I made to my dad for backup wasn’t taken as a joke.

After all, I know the voice will call yet again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is the going rate of a soul these days?

Pin It In my classroom I have something called Bonus Bucks.

These are a type of classroom money the students may spend at the ‘Market Day’ we have four times during the school year. Students usually tend to hoard this ‘cash’ until our Market Days and they hate being in debt—especially when these magical day of buying and selling take place.

Yesterday I had a student whom I’ll call ‘Joey’ who incurred yet another debt for not having a signature in his planner. It is this signature from his parents which indicates that his homework assignments are complete from the night before. As Joey went to his desk to write me an IOU for the amount owed, I jokingly said, “Joey, you’re going to owe me your soul before much longer at this rate.”

Imagine my surprise when I went to my desk a bit later in the afternoon and saw his IOU sitting next to my laptop.

I wonder…just how would I go about cashing this in?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Breakfast Club

Pin It One could blog about how it snowed in their town. They could talk about the hill behind their home, and the troves of children who were sledding down the icy slopes, bundled in warm coats and hats.

I won’t.

I will, however, blog about the breakfast club…a group of friends of mine from my old school. It is these people with whom which I have breakfast once each month. I really do love these people; they I’ve worked with, laughed with, and even cried with over the past eight years of my life. It was wonderful finding out what was going on in their various lives after ‘moving on’ (or not) from the ‘old school.’

It is through these outings that I’ve discovered that it is not really things which make a place special, but the people who are there. Once those people are gone, that special place usually becomes a bit less than it once was…

We ended up sitting there for over 2 hours—just laughing and talking, and it didn’t feel like it in the slightest. Unfortunately, I don’t have a group shot, but only a few of one or two of us…guess you’ll just have to imagine what we all looked like there together.

When it finally came time to leave, I felt a bit sad—it will be an entire month until we all get together again…however, that’s only 30 days, right?

On my way home I decided to take a few photos of the precipitation falling from the heavens, but unfortunately I didn’t have my D60 with me. I did, however, have my new little Nikon CoolPix S550. This wasn’t the camera I’d want to do any serious photography with, but it was better than nothing and I gave it my best shot.

It in return, gave me its best shot as well...

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