Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Monday, April 30, 2012

D12: The Sequel

Back to The Hole.

I recall the hole digger's wife (her initials are Alison Mothershead) was fairly irritated with her husband for this act of ridiculousness. Jennifer did not like the fact that The Hole ate up shady space under the canopy.

Who would have guessed that such a thing would result in so many laughs and so many creative ways to use it? Take 10 slightly crazy adults, throw in a 2-year-old who loves animals and likes to imitate them (along with her 28-year-old uncle), and you have a pretty silly, video-worthy episode.

In the end, the critics saw the error of their thinking. Chris actually got kudos for that hole.

Kate was dancing at every opportunity; even while trying to keep an eye on the ladderball game.

We spent almost every waking hour on the beach, taking lots of pictures during the week.  This about sums it up.

A quiet moment with Ali and Kate

Keeping warm

Kate busting out in vacation stance

Kate color coordinating ladder balls. She got the organizing gene.

The McCalmont Family

Group vacation stance

Pretty mommy and daughter, Jennifer and Kate

My crispy crew!

Kate with Aunt Tasha and Uncle Justin

The 2 Entertainers

Attractiveness and Cuteness - No Charge

More Cuteness

The Lovebirds, Laurie and Ross

And the cuteness continues with Chris and Ali


My proudest accomplishment and the best job I ever worked myself out of, being their mom.
The "Old People"

Kate decided to brave the ocean on our last beach day. She ventured out onto the sand bar with her parents and other family, net in hand, hoping to catch some critter or sea shell. You did it Kate!

The view from our table
Lastly, I have to mention the sweet gift Leland and I received from everyone; a wonderful dinner at Louisiana Lagniappe. Justin told us to be ready at 6:15. He picked us up in his very large, black SUV--limo style--and dropped us off at the restaurant. He had pre-arranged a table overlooking the water, and had chosen a bottle of Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc, which was presented after we were seated. It was beautiful--delicious seafood, atmosphere, and relaxation that we rarely seem to get at home.

How can I adequately put into words how God has truly blessed me, and not make it sound cliche or trite? I am honestly, to my core, grateful beyond my ability to convey, for my beautiful family. They make me proud every day of their lives and I love them with all that a mother's heart can hold.

Please, can we do this reunion thing again next year? I don't think it will take much arm twisting, right everyone?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

D12: Family Reunion

If I were to make a movie of our week in Destin, that's what the title would be.

And here is the movie poster photo:

Left to right: Kate, Laurie, Natasha, Justin, Jennifer, Jon, Leland, Me, Chris, Alison, and Ross 
When Leland and I arrived at our fantastic beach house for the week, the first thing to do was get our hug tanks filled. The next occasion was to greet our son-in-law-to-be, Ross, when he and Laurie arrived. Sidebar ---> Welcome to the craziness, Ross!

There was so much laughter, so much fun. The weather was perfect. The beach was perfect. The water was beautiful shades of blue and green, and clear--like glass. There were even waves, much to Leland's surprise.

It was almost this deserted while we were there--so relaxing. Photo credit: Jon McCalmont
This sand bar was a favorite spot. Photo credit: Lynne Holder

Kate had never seen the ocean before and it was wonderful to watch the awe on her face as she took it all in for the first time--the sight of a vast, blue ocean, the sound of the surf, the feel of the soft, white sand on her feet, the seagulls, and sandpipers scurrying along the edge of the water. Being the nature girl that she is, she loved the birds, and was fascinated by the starfish Aunt Ali found in the shallow water.

The ocean was a little overwhelming for her, so her place for most of the week was a safe distance from the water, in her beach chair.

The rest of us made camp under 2 canopies, with all the necessities of beach lounging: chairs, towels, sunblock (still, red stripes were abundant), coolers stocked with drinks, and tunes. Ladderball was the most strenuous activity of the week.

Kate decided to ref for Justin and Chris

I think Chris might have gotten bored with all this relaxation at one point, because he started digging a hole under our canopy. It got big, then bigger. Kate had a great time disappearing and popping out of the hole.

Photo credit: Lynne Holder

The hole continued to grow, until it got big enough for Justin to fit into, so he decided that he would hide in there and surprise Kate when she returned from her potty break. Here's video of the surprise. FYI, the elephant noise Justin made was one of Kate's favorite things. He did this all week and she never got tired of it. I was pretty amused by watching him decide whether or not his drink was worth consuming at the end, as well as with Kate's reaction to finding Uncle Justin.

There were so many funny things going on all week that kept us all laughing ourselves silly: reciting movie lines from all their favorite movies (Kung Fu Panda was the movie of the week--Skadoosh!), Kate dancing and everyone dancing with her, vacation stance (you had to be there), body surfing sand rashes (Chris beat Leland, with the bloody forehead). And there was the unbelievably sweet gesture from the kids, treating Leland and I to dinner at Louisiana Lagniappe.

In an effort to keep this recap a reasonable length, I will post "D12: The Sequel", soon. More to come!

How blessed am I? L to R: Jennifer, Laurie, Justin, Alison, and the happiest mom on the planet.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life Is Contrast

Leland had a great March with lots of business, and mostly all clients paid in a timely manner. As good as that was, April has been the exact opposite. We are halfway through the month with an upcoming week away and no bookings for the remainder.

We met with Dwayne last night. While I appreciate the fact that he would take time out of his very busy life to spend an hour working on our financial mess, I have reached the point where I truly believe I have had enough.

Dwayne looked over the spreadsheet and the receivables, and the hammer came down.

Directing his comments to Leland, he said, You guys need income or you aren't eating. Set a goal date, and if you haven't seen an increase in your income by then, it's time to do something besides photography.

To someone who has been shooting for 32 years, what else is there, I asked.

Dwayne shrugged his shoulders, followed by something about Starbucks or Home Depot, but I had zoned out.

I excused myself to go to the kitchen for a cup of tea. It was my only escape.

We have both applied for jobs; everything we could find, from Trader Joe's to Lockheed Martin. It's not like we haven't been trying, but we have not even had the first response to any of our applications. There are so many people competing for every opportunity out there.

As we wrapped up the torture for the evening, Dwayne was apologetic for being so harsh sounding, and being the nice guy he is, tried to lighten things up by talking about our trip to Florida for the family reunion.

Too little, too late.

After he left, I numbly set about gathering up my clothes to be ironed; my mind whirling with conflict over the reality of our situation and God's promises for provision, a future and hope. The battle raged, in more ways than one. Leland and I ended our night with me losing my patience and him yelling and cursing at me. I have never seen or heard him like this, and it scared me.

I turned away, went upstairs, and proceeded to cry Niagra Falls as I sat on the top step. Stella sat next to me, front paws up on my leg, and with her usually perky ears drooping, looked me right in the eyes as if she was trying to say something.

I think it was, I love you. At least, that's what it felt like.

We leave tomorrow for our Great Escape--the long-awaited week with my beloved family. I have far more pleasant things in my future; a newly-engaged daughter, and a future son-in-law to welcome to the family.

Joy in sorrow, blessings in troubled times--the contrasts of life in this physical realm.