DID YOU JUST HEAR THAT?

My sigh of relief…

My jumping for joy on the hardwoods…

My arms, flailing through the air in reckless abandon!!!!

No more baseball.

No more school.

No more having to make a kid breakfast before 8am.

No more packing a lunch.

No more having to look at the clock until 4:08p to then leave and get a kiddo from school.  If I leave any earlier, I drive behind buses that stop every block.  If I leave any later, then I feel like a BAD MOM because my kiddo is one of the last to be picked up.  You have to time these things precisely people!

B5 sketch

 


SUMMER… WE WELCOME YOU.

Three months… and counting!

In exactly 3 months… our little Middle Schooler who defies us on studying for tests and can only remember what he had for dessert and sometimes doesn't turn in homework and tells us about his project the day before it is due and still sleeps with the hall light on enters the big bad world of HIGH SCHOOL!

Is it possible to Good Luck?  mature A LOT in three months?  

Is it possible to GROW SOME in three months?

He will be walking the halls of the big public High School with all the BIG kids.

Weird.

They say it goes by fast.  It does.  Except when you're waiting for your 14 year old to get his drivers license.  Molasses slow.  I can't wait to have my AMAZON PRIME and my B!  I'll never have to leave the house unless I need to go to work or play tennis or ride my new CYCLEBOARD!

B just turned the magical age of 14.  It's true what they say!  

I know that I have it pretty easy with this 14 year old.  I can go down the list of 14 year olds that I know and am reminded… I have it very easy.  He's an amazing guy and will be an amazing man.  

HE WILL make it through 9th grade and so will I.  (Because, I already did once people!  And, I'm sure my mom felt the SAME exact way!)

But, if I have to remind him to take his vitamins ONE MORE TIME… to take out the trash ONE MORE TIME… to put his lunch box in the fridge ONE MORE TIME… than this sign, truly, is a moot point.

 

Tuxedo + Bow Tie + Prom

  Prom 2016 J+P-3

After volunteering at Prom-A-Palooza (my last blog post), I was wondering… WHAT ABOUT THE GUYS?  Guys are people too!  Are there guys at the local high school who need a little help renting a tux or other things having to do with Prom?

I (the "I" in this post really means… "on behalf of the community") reached out to a gal at the school, and sure enough… BINGO!

Do you know how expensive it is to rent a tux? RIP OFF!  Seriously folks, these kids aren't getting married!  

I then reached out to some friends… who graciously sent me checks in the mail, to help cover the expenses.  

A million times… THANK YOU!

We did it!  We successfully made a couple guys smile!  We bought a red vest + bow tie for one guy (thank you Amazon for delivering).  We rented a pretty sweet tux for the other, along with buying a corsage + boutonnière!  

They were both SO thankful… in their shy way!

The mom of the guy on the right, asked if there was any way I would be able to just "meet" them before prom so they could say thank you in person.  And, of course, could I really go do this without my camera?    

Needless to say, WE (awesome community) made this happen!

Until next time… keep those checkbooks handy!  HA

 

Say YES to the Dress! (Prom-A-Palooza)

You guys!  I had another shocking, amazing, life changing encounter!

Sunday I volunteered to take photos at this Prom-A-Palooza event.  I was sort of (in my own mind) complaining that I had to actually get somewhere by 10:30am… on a weekend.  Like going to the gym, which I never do anymore but it's a good analogy, it's not until you actually arrive and start working out that you are really glad you went.

Prom-A-Palooza took place over at FosterCares.org, at their huge warehouse.  It's an amazing place.  Any kids in foster care or kids being taken care of by their relatives (while their parents are getting their act together) can walk into this place and get gently used anything for FREE!  (Kids only get anywhere from $0-$19 per day to meet their needs if they are living with a relative or foster parent.)

However, this day… the organization was open only for girls going to prom.  They had collected hundreds of prom dresses in all different sizes.  Plus… shoes.  Purses.  Wraps.  Jewelry.  Makeup.  It was like walking into a ROSS ON PROM STEROIDS!

They had professional makeup artists on hand, working their butts off to put makeup on each girl and send them away with a full bag of makeup!  They had volunteers at every corner and some that were personal shoppers to walk around with the girls to help them hold the dresses they chose to try on, while they continued to shop.  It was service, at its best!  I cried.

I wanted to throw my camera in the back corner and hug every.single.girl that walked in the door and help them find something beautiful to wear.

We all know I have no fashion sense and hate shopping.  But, this new lease on life overwhelmed me and I weaseled my way into a girls life (let's be honest, I did this to a few girls) and walked around with her, helping her choose a dress and shoes and jewelry.  I'm sure the gal that was her personal shopper wanted to strangle me!  But, guess what?  She was a red head like B and I knew, knew, knew… this deep purple dress that she didn't pick out would look fabulous on her with her coloring!  And, it did.  And, it fit perfect.  And, it was like the last dress she tried on after a bit of frustration!  Take that fashion police!  Believe it or not, I also helped her with jewelry.  I was so shocked at myself.  I was having the best time and tears were forming and it was such an amazing way to spend my time!

 

 

Prom Palooza-3

Just one of the many racks of dresses!

 

Another thing that was going on in a back room was a REAL professional photographer with lights set up, was taking photos of the girls in their makeup and dress!  It was amazing watching their shy demeanor change, as Maryann Davidson snapped away and then showed them their photos.  I'm not kidding when I say, we could have had a photo shoot with these 250+ girls ALL day.  These dresses made them feel beautiful, LIKE THEY ARE!  Seriously.  

Next year, I'm bringing tissue.  

 

Important Side Note:  If you live in the North Fulton area and ever feel like volunteering a little time or you have gently used clothes, shoes, toys, baby stuff, etc., please think about stopping by Foster Cares in Roswell!  You'll be glad you did.

 

 

Basketball is already over!

I remember the day B told me he wanted to sign up for Basketball.  There was a lump in my throat.

As a parent (even a "step" one), you want your child to feel as little pain as possible.  And, all I could think of was that he has never actually "played" basketball.  

AND… he's 13.

AND… we live in Georgia.  The home of the free and the land of the "we love our competitive sports and parents don't just sit in the stands and clap and encourage."  They get tossed out by refs/umps.

We signed B up for Basketball.  

I'm not a competitive sports parent.  I wasn't raised that way I guess.  I just want everyone to have a fair, fun game and I don't want anyones FEELINGS to get hurt.  Unless, of course, you are playing YAHTZEE with me.  I'm totally going to kick your ass and I really don't care if you cry.

Braedan Bulls-11
Well, I am super proud of our basketball player.  He started off as a newbie and ended the season with a lot more confidence AND… he made a 2-pointer (thank God for answering my prayer) during one of the last games!  

I would say he had a fun time, learned a lot, got great exercise, met some new kids and wants to do it again next Fall.  And, I would also say that his feelings were hurt and he was sad they barely won and he didn't get the ball passed to him as much as he would have liked.

Here is the beginning of the season, during his first practice…

 

 

 Here is one of the last games (where he actually got some action!)…

 

 

My Very Part Time Gig

I love taking photos.  I have slowly turned it from a hobby into a very part time job.  It doesn't even support my addiction to buying things at the local health food store, that is how VERY part time this gig is.

I have been known to take my fancy camera to weddings and pretend in my head I'm the second shooter.  The photos come out really nice, without the stress of actually getting paid to take amazing wedding photos!  It's wonderful, but I'm broke!  

Here's the deal though… I'm scared of brides.  I'm intimidated of bridezillas.  Big time.  And, once money changes hands, there is this whole EXPECTATION thing that is now out there.  And, I have to meet it!  Yikes!

In the past couple years I have been challenged and pushed to make wedding photography one of my "things" in my part time gig.  And, it's not like I can't do it (because I do, do it now)… I'm just my own worst critic and have this underlying fear that I'll get home from the awesome event and download all the photos, only to find out I used the wrong settings and they are all out of focus.  Or something.

Slowly but surely, I have found the right clients who are having small weddings and need inexpensive, but awesome memories.  And, let's face it… these clients somehow find me.  I'm terrible at marketing myself!  Another fear I have.

So… let's break this down.  I have turned my hobby into a very part time job.  I'm my own worst critic when it comes to my work.  I don't like to market myself.  I'm scared of brides.  When money changes hands, sometimes the expectation can be overwhelming.

Gee… awesome.  Blogging is such a great way to get to know myself, truly.

The only thing that keeps this gig alive and kicking is that I LOVE people.  And, come to find out, I end up with the BEST clients!  Even the brides, amazingly enough!  I also LOVE capturing candid photos of people in all their natural glory.  I LOVE the stories behind the photos.  And, I LOVE when I take photos and I see my work on Christmas cards or on walls or in books.  It's truly a rush that I can't explain.

Gee… that IS awesome!  

I'm going to keep on snapping and hope that each year, my client base grows and everyone needs more photos and tells their friends.

If you want to see more of what I've done… CLICK RIGHT HERE

And then, tell your friends!

B is broke

Braedan has continued to tell us for months, "I'm broke."

So, Jason put together a VERY lucrative monthly allowance sheet.  It's so lucrative that I cannot even post it here.  It's so lucrative that he will be getting sarcastic "thanks a lot" calls from B's friends parents!

He has to do a handful of things each week.  It's not a long terrible list of mowing the lawn or cleaning toilets.  They are the same things that I have asked him to do daily before or after school.

BUT… now that he is actually getting paid for the things he should just normally do as a child for these things, I am no longer asking him to do them.  I'm letting him remember, on his own.  I mean… I don't get reminded by my mom to go to work daily.  And, he's 13 for goodness sake.  He should be remembering things at this stage, right?

Now that I'm not asking him to do these things, he is no longer doing most of them.  In fact, last night he asked me to remind him to put out the trash in the morning.  I said, "Ummmm, you're doing absolutely NOTHING right now, just do it now."  He didn't want to do it right then, so I told him that he's going to have to figure out ways to remind himself about things.  I gave him some ideas.  He wanted NONE of it.  He simply said, "It's okay, I'll remember."

I just got in from putting out the trash cans… 

By the way, one of the caveats for NOT doing a chore is SUBTRACTING $10 from his lucrative allowance.  Ouch.

I actually think he might OWE his dad money now and it's only week 2.

Wait… wait… just wait a minute!  What if Jason gave him his entire allowance at the end of the month and then B had to pay ME $10 for each chore I did that he forgot to do?

Blogging… it's such therapy and revelation!  Christmas gifts for you ALL!

 

B&T

Braedan… too busy to take down two trash cans!

 

If you would have told me…

…back in 1985, when I was watching Back To The Future in the movie theater with friends, that I would be celebrating my NINTH Anniversary AND the birth date of our DOG, on October 21, 2015… I would have flipped you off.  (because I was still flipping people off in that year, surely)

I would have been upset because first, I didn't like anything with hair and four legs at that time in my life AND second, that would have meant I had to wait for an entire 20 years to go by before I was even married!  And, that, my friends, was NOT in the Carissa playbook for sure!  

But, sure enough… we all know the story… it all happened in a span of three months in 2006.  WooT!

And, then, Jason made the worst best decision to buy a puppy, one year later!  (Who is 8 today and has no clue why he got extra hugs this morning!)

Our wedding was the BEST day… full of family and friends and my favorite food and drink.  Which, I did not partake of at all, because I was just too overwhelmed and amazed at the FULL life I was about to start!

And, what a full life it has been!  God knew exactly WHY I had to wait until age 39 to get married!  

<CLINK> to 9 amazing years with one amazing guy!

I'm sure glad you picked me!  (And, the photo below makes you wonder why!)

 

IN8G5406

A CASA I Am!

It goes like this…

One afternoon while watching the 85th youth baseball game of my life… I was "complaining" about something other than baseball  the FACT that I wasn't doing much with my life… helping anyone… and I was so used to volunteering my time, non stop… and I basically felt like a loser in this area.

Well, I was "complaining" to the wrong right person!

She told me about her volunteer years as a CASA.

I had never heard of this acronym.  In fact, not until I was into my 4th hour of who knows how many hours of training, was I actually able to let it roll off my tongue.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate.

Being a voice for children who have been abused/neglected, etc. (and are now in DFCS custody, living with a foster) and helping them find the BEST placement ever… if that means going back to their parent(s) or living with a relative or being adopted.  I will get one case at a time and go to court hearings and meet with the child and also, I will get to be that detective I've always wanted to be… finding out information and truth that will help the child not ever get abused, ever again.

Man… it was a long, hard, much needed training.  I don't think I've ever learned so much in 30 hours, ever.  And, I definitely have never had my emotions rocked (besides being trained to speak up against sex trafficking, which I never even pursued because I just thought I would cry the entire time and  never accomplish anything).

It's amazing how passionate you become about something, once you learn what it's all about and you realize it involves children.  MY GOD PEOPLE… PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN.

This volunteer job will be hard.  It will be one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.  It will use up a lot of my energy and emotions.  It will piss me off and make me love… more than I even know at this moment.  It was one of those things, in the midst of all our Saturday morning trainings, where I considered at times, dropping out.  It would be SO easy to just quit.  And, I felt like God was giving me the option, either way.  I'm such a baby.  I've had the easiest life of anyone I know.  And, I just knew this was something I had to do!  So, I stuck with it.  Because, even if it's one life that I'll influence for the better… I just have to!

Yesterday, I got sworn in.  We all raised our right hand… said SO HELP ME GOD (literally… and I said it twice) at the end… signed the document and got assigned a case.

Someone told us that we could stay and hear the next case… which, without going into detail (because I never can), is an example of what I'm talking about… a 2 year old, walking the streets, naked, at night time, in some neighborhood that no one knows who the 2 year old is, they don't know name, age, nothing.  Yeah, that was up on the docket.

Then, we had cake.

And that, my friends, is life.  It sucks at times and then you eat cake.

 

IMG_0401

Shaking hands…
IMG_0402

Signing…
IMG_0407

My CASA volunteer friends… before eating cake.

 

Buying Crack

This morning at breakfast……. Braedan mentioned that I'd be happy to know that he didn't sign me up to buy candy for his Orchestra class… for their special Spring treat.

I was happy.  Why… you ask?

A couple weeks ago, Braedan told me that he signed "me" up to buy sodas for his Orchestra class that they can drink while they go over the video of their performance the night before.

I went to the store and bought the sodas.  It almost killed me.  But, I did.

While I was walking down the soda lane, I noticed I haven't been down it in awhile.  All the different kinds of soda.  My god!  What are we doing to our kids???!!!

I had to buy four and I just bought what was on sale, because, let's be honest, they are all the same.

Carbonated water, sugar, orange juice from concentrate (2%), citric acid, antioxidant (ascorbic acid), stabilisers (locust bean gum, acacia gum, glycerol esters of wood rosin), natural flavourings, colour (carotenes), preservative (potassium sorbate).

Yum.

I gave him the sodas and I politely explained to him that he basically signed me up to buy CRACK for kids.  (I'm seriously not being dramatic.  This is how it felt… buying crack for his peers.)  And, in the future, if he could sign me up to buy the paper goods or the fruit, I'd be really happy. 

Interestingly enough… I got an email from B's Orchestra teacher, just this morning, that Braedan was warned several times to not play his instrument while she was talking and she finally had to deduct FIVE points from his agenda.  

Hmmm… if I put two and two together… you feed MY child "a spring treat" of candy & soda before 11am (which I do not want him eating or drinking, thank you very much)… you might have some consequences… lady.  

Never fear, that was not how I responded to her email!  And, for the record, I like this teacher and saying she's passionate about the strings is an understatement… however, this is not rocket science!

IMG_0119

HE COULDN'T AGREE MORE!