Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday 9: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

  1. Do you ever fantasize about flying, beyond the rainbow or anywhere else? Yes, but not without an airplane.

  2. Do you think you have seen The Wizard of Oz more than 10 times? Of course I have, hasn't everyone.

  3. Which Wizard of Oz character would you most like to dress as for Halloween? The Wicked Which of the West

  4. What will Trick or Treaters get when they come to your front door? My apartment complex does not allow trick or treating.

  5. Did you ever TP a neighbor's house or indulge in other acts of Halloween vandalism as a kid? (Don't worry, that statute of limitations is up.) Yes, I egged a neighbor's house and toilet papered my bosses.

  6. Who annoys you more -- people who never respond to your texts/emails, or those who never look up because they're always checking their texts/emails? Those who never look up because they're always checking their texts/emails

  7. Who was the last person you hugged? My dog, Killer. He's a little Pekingese/Chihuahua mix.

  8. What two colors do you like to wear together? Red & Black

  9. Did your alarm clock wake you up this fine Saturday morning? No, but Killer did.
Crazy Sam

Mama Kat's Writing Prompt 4

Write a list of 10 things you have said to your kids that other moms might not say.
  1.  "That's why I call you two Dr. Destructo and his evil sidekick."
  2. "We're taking a trip to Roswell next summer. I figure it's time to take you back to the mother ship."
  3. "Don't listen to your teacher. She can't even spell thought."
  4.  "When you bite into that Hello Kitty marshmallow, let's get the red food coloring, make it look like she's bleeding, take a picture of it, and post it on the internet." {Link}
  5. "If you get in trouble for wearing those pants to school because of that little hole in the leg, tell the principal if she doesn't like what you wear, she can buy your clothes. At least you aren't showing your underwear like those other boys."
  6. "So what if they call you a nerd. You just take after your mother."
  7. Damien: "Guess what we're doing in math class." Me: "Math"
  8. "No, I didn't take any drugs to act like this. I woke up this way!"
  9. Damien: "Oh, that's just a beetle. It's not a serious bug." Me: "Damien, what would be a serious bug, a bookworm?"
  10. Damien: "We sniff flowers because they smell pretty. Right?" Me: "Yeah." Damien: "The center of the flowers are the most fragrant parts, but they are also where the pollen comes from. And, the flower is the reproductive part of the plant. Right?" Me: "Yeah!" Damien: "So does that mean that when we sniff flowers, we are sniffing their genitals?" Me: [sarcastically] "Yeah, Damien, we sniff flowers genitals." Dyl: "Mom! That old lady behind you can hear you." Me: "Well, she has genitals too, Dyl."   

Mama Kat

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Inspiring Staff Writer

Damien is a staff writer for The Cooper Crest, his high school news paper. This is his third year working on the paper, and his articles have always been well written. However, none of them can compare to the article he most recently wrote. For those of you who don't know or have not figured it out yet, Damien is autistic. {I know that it is not politically correct to word the sentence that way, and I should say a teen with autism. However, Damien has educated me on that as well. He said, "You cannot take the autism out of me because it is part of me. I am autistic." So, please, do not take offense that I talk to my child and about my child in the way he wishes me to.}

Anyway, being autistic means, that we do not always see the emotions that fuel my child. He does not express himself in the way that most neuro-typical people, or as Damien puts it, humans do. That is why this article has touched me and brought tears to my eyes. For someone who cannot express his emotions through his voice and the words that he speaks, he writes with an eloquence that evokes emotions in the reader; and his written words give us a glimpse of the emotions welling deep inside Damien.

Here is his article:

"Assembly Was Inspiring

My impression of the assembly that former NFL player Keith Davis performed on Oct. 10 was that it was quite inspiring.

He made me realize just how low my self-esteem is. That is something that a lot of people in my life have brought to my attention, but it took a pep talk from my parent and a motivational speaker to allow me to realize it. Like he said, I had a bad first half. Definitely not as bad as some people, but a bad one nonetheless.

But Davis told us about our second half, that we shouldn't allow these bars to keep us from reaching our dreams, that we have great potential, as big as our dreams, and that we should fulfill them no matter how bad our first half was.

He told us we have a chance at a good second half as long as we bend the bar, like he did, and move forward, whether our bar was just the kids who bullied us, our drug-addicted mothers, our bad lifestyles, or being incarcerated all your life. Our second half is the only part of the game that matters, not our first half.

When he told us about his life, I'm sure it inspired many people, how he overcame his father dying, his mother becoming an alcoholic, and us just seeing the stage where he is now. He told us his bad first half, but we could see his great second half.

Just where he was and where he is now are not the same. I know that I'm better than the way I look at myself. The only reason I treat myself the way I do is because I don't feel like I'm worth anything. In retrospect, the assembly made me feel better about myself. I am better than what some people at school, and I, look at me as." (Damien Brown, The Cooper Crest, October 15, 2012, Volume 53, Number 1, Page 5)

As a mother reading how much my child is hurting because of the bullying he has endured, I had to fight back the tears this story brought to my eyes. My heart aches for my child every single day. I worry as most other parents do, but I feel sometimes I worry a little more about Damien. I worry that his self-esteem issues will keep him from excelling to the man that I know he can and should be. I work hard to encourage this wonderful child that I have been blessed with. His autism is not a curse, but his self-esteem is.

With that being said, I am very inspired by Damien. He does see his self-esteem as a curse, and he is working hard to overcome that barrier. He is now 'bending the bar' and continually fighting against everything that he has been told. Damien is taking my advice, and I am proud that he listens to that advice. "When they say you can't, you prove them wrong." Damien, I am sure your second half is going to be something that will inspire others.

Articles on autism and bullying:

School Bullies Prey on Children With Autism
Why Autistic Kids Make Easy Targets for School Bullies
Combating Bullying
Almost Half of Teens with Autism Bullied: Study

Monday, October 8, 2012

Darren & Me

I have taken the time to photograph the world around me and to photograph other people that I know, but I seldom take the time to photograph my husband, DJ, and me. We have been married to one another for 17 years on September 25, 2012. We have been together for 18 years August 2012. During this time, we have learned almost every single thing there is to know about one another. But, that does not mean that we have stopped learning. DJ and I, as every other person on this planet, are continuously changing, leaving more to learn. Darren (DJ) is my best friend and confidant. Every day that passes is just as precious as the day before, and each day brings us closer to one another. We really have had few photographs to show how dedicated we are to one another, so we took the opportunity to take advantage of the cooler weather by me photographing us as a couple.

I chose the Burlington station as the first place for me to take a few shots. With my Canon Rebel EOS resting on the tripod, I began to fire away. I am fortunate to have a husband who is very photogenic. DJ, who does not like to ever have his photo taken, was a wonderful sport and took direction very well.

As you can see from the third picture of the above shots, DJ also played around a bit. I love this shot because it fits his rock-n-roll style and personality, but it is not one that we will be sharing with friends and family, well, maybe his friends.

The above shots of DJ and the below shot of the two of us together were taken at the back of the station at the loading dock. I love how vine climbs up the door of the dock. It provided great composition and color for the shots. 

The picture above does show us how we are with one another. We are one of those couples that smiles at one another, laughs, plays, fights but gets over it, and knows how to relax around one another. (No, we do not throw punches when we fight. Our fights are just arguments, which makes us a 'normal,' whatever that is, couple.) We had so much fun taking these shots.  

Once I captured the shots I wanted, we moved to one of my favorite places to shoot, under the Martin Luther King, Jr. bridge. I like to shoot here because it is out of the way, private, and full of character. The concrete base of the bridge is painted with brilliant graffiti. Across the road from the bridge is an unused section of railroad tracks that provides an excellent backdrop for photos. 

The day grew cold as the front pushed further into the area, and I twisted my ankle due to my attempt to walk on the rocks around the track with my high heel boots on. So, DJ and I decided to move our photography shoot home. Here, we set up a photography area in the house, and I practiced poses for shots. 

DJ and I finished our shoot with an intimate portrait of the two of us in my favorite antique chair. 

The experience was enjoyable and intimate. I feel that it is the times like these that we take with one another that keep us close and happy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cooper High Fall Choir Concert

Fall has come upon us quicker than ever it seems, and with the coming of the new season, it was time for the annual Cooper High School Fall Concert. Just as with every year, I am proud to attend the concert to watch Dylan and his peers sing. I find myself in disbelief that Dylan has grown so much as both a child and a singer. It seems as if it were yesterday when he had first fell in love with singing and made District Choir while in the fifth and sixth grades. I feel as if only a couple of months have passed since Dylan was performing "Wild Thing" in the middle school choir. I find myself with bittersweet thoughts that Dylan is now a high school sophomore and in his second year as a member of the Cooper High School Choir. This year, Dylan is a member of the Junior Varsity choir, as the Cooper Singing Men has been disbanded. Dylan seems to enjoy Bel Canto more, and I am continually catching him singing songs they are practicing at school.

Tonight, Dylan was dressed in his tuxedo with his new blue tie, and I could not pass up the opportunity to photograph my handsome son with his handsome father, my husband, Darren. With them standing side by side, I noticed for the first time how much of a young man my Dylan has become and how much Dylan favors his father.

Realizing the moments with Dylan at home are numbered and fleeting, I also took this opportunity to have Darren photograph me with Dylan. Since I am normally the one behind the camera, the number of photographs of me with my children are limited. We took the serious shot, but I also wanted a picture that showed how the relationship between Dylan and I has blossomed and developed over the years. Dylan is not just my baby, but he is also my comical friend. We bounce witty comments and jokes off of one another, and we rarely take one another seriously unless the time and situation calls for a seriousness. No matter how mad Dylan gets, I can always make him laugh and vice versa. He understands that laughter is the best medicine when a person is feeling down, and this child has never failed to make me laugh. Therefore, I relished the idea of having a photo that reflects this. It only took a matter of seconds for me to make Dylan laugh.

Dylan, Darren, and I arrived at Cooper early, and Dylan was quickly off to join his peers in the choir room. Unfortunately, Damien was unable to attend the concert, as he was home ill. He will be fine, for this is a sickness that comes with humidity.

The auditorium was fairly empty, so DJ and I searched for a place to sit changing spots several times while searching for the optimal seats for photographing the concert. As usual, the seats we chose happened to be on the opposite side of the stage as what Dylan would be standing. Next time, I am going to make sure I know exactly where he will be standing.

The ROTC Color Guard presented the American and Texan flags, and the crowd stood proudly, listening to the Concert Choir singing "The Star Spangled Banner." After the color guard exited the stage, Bel Canto took the stage. They sang, "Gloria," "I Dream a World," and "Shine Your Light." I photographed the group as well as I could with the limited zoom I have with the lens that came with my Canon. I am ever so anxious to purchase a new zoom that will give me the more versatility I crave.

Regardless of my inadequate photography options, Bel Canto sang beautifully. I had to hold back tears as I watched my baby boy, my young man, Dylan, sing his heart out. The other groups, Red, Rhythm, and Blues, Les Chanteurs, and the Concert Choir sang their songs each and every one having to do with the theme of light. Each group sang beautifully, but my heart this year belongs to Bel Canto.