The Sort of Hope Who Lived in 2012

Bye Bye 2012

My how times have changed. Mike and I are enjoying a fabulous stir fry that I’ve prepared at home, our very quiet home and now the children are the ones who are out, and we are the ones staying in,  owed in part to this cold I can’t seem to shake. But it’s no big deal, I never cared much for New Year’s Eve anyway. I feel like it’s rookie night. All the prices go up, and the people who never party go out. Not for me, thanks. Give me my pj’s and the quiet. I don’t need the noise and the crowds.

I’ll stay home and watch the recaps. Read about words we don’t want to make it to 2013.. like Yolo (eew) or fiscal cliff. I’ll lament the passing of my treasured light bulbs. I’ll thank the Myans for being wrong. I’ll say a little prayer for all of the innocent children of Sandy Hook and the other victims of terrible, senseless crimes this year ( like Mike’s young cousin Timmy, a murder victim back in Feb of 2012). I’ll continue to think about the people still rebuilding from Super Storm Sandy.

And I’ll praise women like Jennifer Livingston the news anchor who stood up to the bully who called her fat.  ( I blogged about that before here: read on for more..) I’ll be thankful that her words went viral in a matter of hours. I’ll be hopeful that perhaps just one girl will listen. Hopeful that perhaps just one self image of a fragile teen age girl will be saved. Hopeful that maybe 2013 will be the year we can knock social media bullying down a few pegs.


thank you Kevin Brett of Soul Imagery for allowing me to edit this.

And then, because a woman who has walked a mile in my shoes has finally convinced me to stop looking at all things I can’t do and instead celebrate the things I’ve done, I’ll look at what I’ve managed to be a part of in this past year.

2012.. my highlights.

I was somehow able to keep up with my tumble off champ, my All Berks/ All State Player, my Level 7 USA Gymnast who medaled many times, my HS cheerleader/2 time tumble off champ, another NHS member, My Summer Love- (Schuylkill Berks Legion League Berks Co Div Champs )~oh what a season~! , a 2 x Tourny Winning 18Y Berkshire Showcase Team, a permitted driver to a licensed driver. Natalia turned 14 Nick turned 16. Seems impossible. What am I forgetting?

On my birthday I said good bye to the family Jeepster. Jeepster had been a part of our family for nearly a decade. I have yet to replace it.

In 2012 I personally loved a few and lost a few – {my ball buddy ~ “you know what I mean?” },  flew to South Dakota for my first vacation in years, spent 7 whole days with the James Gang & saw my brother get married. Was able to once again participate in Cups of Compassion and feel what it really means to give of one’s self.

Sadly, I’m still learning that no matter what you think, no one or anything is ever truly as it seems and that people can still manage to surprise you even after 40.

I’m thankful for the chances I was given to share my talents this year. I’m so grateful for those who shared theirs with me.

This year I survived another 7 day inpatient coma and 5 outpatient treatments to help control and slow the progression of my 12 year battle with fully body/ internal RSD.

Oh and I started “”.

As far as this life I lead, well, I owe so much of it to you, my friends who helped to keep me in this game called life yet again.

I am grateful for my new audience and as always, treasure my old one.

13 is my lucky number. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be a great year.

Stick around, won’t you?


The Sort of Hope Who $u<k$ at Basketball

Basketball moves fast. Very fast. Much faster then my broken lens and I were prepared to handle.

Natalia just started her High School cheering season for basketball and I thought I’d give basketball photography a go.


Indoor lighting + bad lens + fast moving sport = disaster.

However, never being one to back down from a challenge, I am going to learn how to do this by the end of the season. Not master it, mind you ( though that would be amazing, wouldn’t it? ) I am going to learn it. Goal = set.

I came home that night and spent the evening reading everything I could find on what I was doing wrong , and some of what I had done right. Bearing in mind that much of my challenge is a faulty lens.

Many thanks to my secret helper who sent me all the reading I did that night. I won’t disappoint you. I’ll get this.

Normally, I ‘d be much too vain to post photos that I’d consider anything less than good. This time, though, I thought it would be in my best interest to post my baseline. Then I can look back in a month or two and see how far I’d come. I will admit that the majority of what I shot that night was unusable. I was able to salvage a few good shots. Some of which I shared here.

I know my lens won’t fix itself so it’s up to me to do the best I can with the handicap of the broken lens.

I figure, in a way, my camera and I are a bit alike. We both have handicaps that I have to learn how to work around. And so far, though at times they both frustrate the dickens out of me, neither one has really managed to get the best of me. Yet.

Game on.

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The #@$!! Sort of Hope

Me at treatment. Day 2. Au natural. Hot, right?

Me at treatment. Day 2.
Au natural. Hot, right?

I was all in a dither today. Started before breakfast. I’m still convalescing so my family takes me at face value right now. However, I really was beside myself today. Treatment not withstanding.


(^ that’s what I look like when I think… )

I opened a catalog ( catazine – that’s the new word?)  and found it to be littered with the F word. No kidding. Products proudly displaying it on their covers. Christmas gifts. Mantle pieces. Wrapping paper that proclaimed ” Merry Christmas B!t)h3S!”


I started to wonder when exactly it was that our society became so accepting of that sort of language, and where is exactly was I ? And are we? Really? Is it OK to say that now in mixed company? Is that no longer considered ‘locker room talk’? Do women walk around dropping F bombs like please and thank you’s? Does anyone even say please and thank you anymore?

Then we took our daughter to get her braces off. We got behind a car with a license plate that announced to any and all who had the misfortune to be traveling behind it that “Mikes tattoo parlor does new ink tattoos and in fact, they F -ing hurt”. (only the word was spelled out properly, if there is such a thing as spelling the f word properly.)

I grew up with the sort of mom who changed the channel when a tampon commercial came on because she felt that that sort of thing wasn’t for the public to see.  All day, I couldn’t imagine my mom seeing that bumper sticker,or that catalog. But I’m sure she has, or things like them.

I’m 43 (no comment) and I still haven’t heard my mother curse but maybe once in my life. Admittedly, my children haven’t had that same experience with their mother. In fact, we even play baseball at a field my kids refer to as “the field where mom cursed.”  That’s a story for another day.

Tonight when we all convened at the dinner table, I asked my kids when exactly it was that the F word became so mainstream, so socially acceptable. They were far too eager to tell me. To set me straight. Make me as progressive as I claim to be.

Apparently curse words are no longer curse words and I , as progressive and free thinking of a mom as I feel I am,  am way old fashioned in my thoughts as they pertain to the English language.  Much to my dismay, I was promptly informed that no one views the F word as a curse word any more. (Except for people above the age of 40 apparently.)  It is as common as saying any other word in the English language. Or so my two teen-aged honor students informed me.

Excuse me, but I always felt like if you needed to fill your sentences with words that were once deemed inappropriate it just made you seem like you had very little to say in the first place and I for one, didn’t want to listen.

Don’t get me started on their music.

Then Nick , wise beyond his 16. 11 years raised a very valid point.

What exactly makes a word “bad”? Why did certain words become “bad” words? Why is the F word a bad word and not, for example “Sprite” or ” laundry” ( <-< disclaimer: laundry *is* a bad word for me.)  When did a word become bad? Was it bad from it’s creation? Who deems them “bad”? And does a word ever truly make it from the bad list to the good list? (like so many children hope to do around this time of year.)

Life Transitions. Society Transitions. Progress.

Which started me on this whole train of other thoughts like how society used to think it was bad to show couples in bed together on TV.  I remember hearing that the Flintstones or the Bradys were like the first to show married couples sleeping in the same bed and that was scandalous. Of course I googled it and found out they weren’t the first. But that’s not the point.

The Brady Bed

Now, the line is barely drawn at full nudity- in or out of bed , full on sex scenes and it’s not at all considered scandalous. In fact, it’s considered prime time TV.

All these things…the evolution of language , the integration of “the bad words” into our everyday world, the acceptance of all things nude and sexual… it just makes me wonder what is left for the future for our children.

And dammit, that makes just make me mad.

Pop Calls Them Pixies

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

My daughter Natalia is quite an amazing young lady. Having been put on bed rest at 28 weeks into my pregnancy with her, she is not only one of my greatest challenges in this life, she has also been one of my greatest rewards. I like to tell people though, that even after being put on bed-rest at 28 weeks for premature labor, I ended up going past my due date with Natalia and had to be induced. That’s the thing about my daughter Natalia, she does everything her way. On her on time and at her own pace. And that became apparent at a very early age.  She is strong -willed, stubborn and determined.

She could walk early, talk early and ‘give direction’ ( read was quite bossy) at a very early age. One of our favorite memories of Natalia was when she lifted her beautiful little red head and blurted out in a crowded store for all to hear (at the toddling age of 3 )  ” Mommy, Nicky is antagonizing me!”

We simply had to find a way to channel all of her energy. I was injured when Natalia was only 2. Dealing with 2 toddlers while on crutches full time is difficult. So we needed to find something to do with them to help get their energy out. By the time Natalia turned 3 we had enrolled her into dance classes. By the time Natalia turned 4 her instructor had informed me that a ballerina she would never be. Fortunately for me, their was a mom in our class of a very talented gymnast in the area who recognized what Natalia just *may* be.

By the age of 5 we had enrolled her in tumbling classes. It didn’t take her long to get her first solo. She immediately began to excel.

By the age of 6 her Pop-Pop offered to enroll her in a local gym to try out some of the equipment “just for the summer”, as a birthday present. That  was June. When August rolled around, she was offered a chance to begin training on their “team training program” that they called “The Sparklers” at that time.  It was then that she met her best friend Brianna.

Fast forward 8 years. Brianna and Natalia have grown up together. Theirs is a friendship of mutual respect. I have watched them evolve as gymnasts and as people. I am incredibly proud of them both. Brianna’s family has been beyond generous to my daughter over the years. They treat her like she is theirs. She has traveled with them, stayed with them and vacationed with them. I joke that in the summertime Brianna’s parents and I share custody of them. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am delighted that their friendship has remained steadfast. I have seen very few serious arguments. Very few typical girl squabbles. Maybe because they go to different schools, or maybe because they are just that close. For whatever reason it is, I am grateful.

Bri and Natalia are my 2 favorite subjects to photograph. Brianna will humor me almost as much as Natalia does.

Brianna’s Pop has moved in with them recently. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment for her. But it makes me giggle when he calls them “the 2 Pixies” . I have named my collection of photos of them over the years ” Pop Calls Them Pixies” in his honor.

I love to see their joy when they are together. Love to hear their laughter. Even love to hear them argue a bit over who gets to stand where or wear what. Because that just means they care. And caring is a good thing.

I lost my best friend when I was just 16 years old and I would give the world to hear her crazy laugh again. Or even just to argue with her.

These are a few of my favorite ( older) photos of them. My daughter’s schedule has been so crazy we haven’t seen much of Brianna lately. I’ve been waiting to get them both out in front of my lens again. It’s been too long. I’m sure my daughter will let me know when the time is right.