Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WHAT IS IT? Day three photo . . .

Great guessing, so far, friends!  Glad so many of you are playing!  Please help spread the word to 'like' my Deana Graham Photography page on fb and then check the blog for the photo of each day!  Up for grabs are two sets of the following:

  • one free photo session with the number of people of you choice
  • one accordian mini photo album
  • 2 prints of your choice, up to 8 x 10
  • 30% off of any purchases you'd still like to make
2 winners - the first person with five correct answers and a random winner from among the 'like's on the fb page.  

Here is today's photo - day three . . . 

You may message me on fb or email me at

Good Luck!  Spread the word!

Here are Day one and Day two revealed . . . 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WHAT IS IT? Day two photo . . .

Don't forget the rules, friends.  You will find them just to the right of this post on the blog.   Remember that there are two ways to win - the first person with five correct answers and one winner chosen at random from all of the 'likes' on Deana Graham Photography fb page.

You may facebook message me or email me at:

Good luck and thanks for all of the great feedback - glad you all are enjoying!

Have a look and send your guesses . . .

Monday, February 27, 2012

WHAT IS IT? Day one photo . . .

The contest is back and appearing for the first time on the blog!  Press Pause, you all, and enjoy the game!  Tell your friends to play!  There is a winner for most accurate guesses and a random winner, too!  Contest rules are on the right side of the blog, just beneath the pin of the week.  Let's play!  Have fun!

Here is the Day one photo . . .

Check the instructions on the right and send me your guess.  One try per day!  Good luck!

Friday, February 24, 2012

List 8 . . . A few of the things Sadie is trying to teach me.

We got Sadie four years ago.  She was a 'rescue' dog.  And though a relative once misunderstood and said she wasn't sure what Sadie would be able to rescue because of her small stature, by rescue I mean we got her from a rescue facility.  She is rat terrier; and before seeing Sadie in late January of 2008, I didn't know that there was such a species.

I wasn't sure if I wanted a pet.  I grew up with Sparky, which was wonderful, but I feared that a pet would require a lot of me.  I was afraid I was stretched too far, and a dog would be a big responsibility for us all.  Too much money.  Too much maintenance.  Too much to add to the already overbooked agenda of these crazy lives.

For reasons I cannot remember, I changed my mind.  Thank, God.  Tim and I spent much time and attention on preparing the kids for the big changes that would be required of them to take care of a dog.  We began to look.  We scoured the Pet Finder on the internet, and then we went to see Miss Cindy's dogs.  When I saw Sadie (a dog who didn't seem all that appealing to me at the time) perch on Harry's chest and watched them stare into each other's eyes, it was all over.

And life as we knew it has never been the same.  There is dog hair on our furniture, but our hearts are too filled to care.  I was proved wrong on how much responsibility it would add to our lives because Sadie has been a dream.  We've been lucky.  She needs very little (aside from as much petting as possible) and gives very much.

Sadie has taught us a lot, but these are thirteen of the things I believe she is trying to teach me:

  1. Eat when you're hungry and not when you're not.
  2. Protect those you love - period.
  3. Let people know what you need by your actions.  If what you really want is to have your belly rubbed, turn over.  
  4. Show people you love that you love them . . . all of the time. 
  5. Go on lots of adventures but always know where home is.
  6. Never hesitate to let folks know if you think something isn't right.  
  7. If you are completely exhausted, just lie down.  Take a rest.  And huddle up in a little ball if you need to.
  8. If you feel cold or sad or lonely or just a little down, snuggle up as close as possible to someone safe.
  9. When you find wide open spaces in a regular old day, run like the wind or roll around and around or jump up and down.  Enjoy yourself where you are.
  10. Don't pay too much attention to time.  Be with the folks you're with, enjoy what's happening.  Be content.
  11. Don't spend a lot of worry on things you can't change.  If your ears are too big, it's okay.  Be you.
  12. Keep your eyes open.  You never know what you might see.
  13. Remember that love doesn't need words.

What is your dog teaching you?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Check out these dreams . . .

A few months ago a friend sent me some photos that touched me, photos she found on the web of a baby, snapshots that a mother took while her baby slept.  Many of you may have seen these; they're a treat.  If you have not spent some time on this special blog, I hope you will today.  If you've seen a few of the photos before, you might like checking out the 'behind the blog' explanation and watching the YouTube video.

Remember the post about my dear friends who made their kids a firepole?  (  This story, and the love behind it are similar to me.  This is a story about a mother who actually pressed pause on a fleeting moment, savored it, took time for it.  I think it's a story for us all.  We don't have to be mothers or photographers or artists or anything special . . . we just have to be in the moment.  

Look what this mother did while her sweet new baby slept.  Think of the love, the creativity, the savoring that went into this.  Enjoy.  Take a moment yourself to daydream, remember, imagine.  

What might you do to press pause today?  

Use this link and spend a few moments.  You'll be glad you did.  Enjoy Mila's Daydreams.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2 gifts to begin Lent 2012

As a follow up to yesterday's post, I present the photo above . . . it was Fat Tuesday and we did our part with a party.  There was merriment and mayhem and a ton of happy, dirty, crazy boys to help us blow it out.  If there is any sugar left within a one acre circle of my home, I can't imagine it.  Much was eaten, much enjoyed.  Pancakes were downed, pancakes were flipped in a race and things were done with silly string and canned whipped cream that might make you a bit queasy just to read.  Suffice it to say, it was a celebration.

Now, we get the gift of Lent.  The gift I appreciate, the one that keeps coming back every year, right on time, allowing us all to re-examine how things are going and pause for reflection.  Lent is hard, but I welcome it this year.  It's time to do some soul-searching, some refiguring and some planning.  Time to reign in the eating, add to the exercise and consider the parts of a life that work well and the parts that need a bit of tweaking.

I begin this season with gifts from two friends, two of my favorite humans, and two folks I'm thankful to have along for this journey.

The first gift I bring along into this lenten season is a comment on yesterday's post from my good friend, Amy.  Aside from being the hands-down funniest bi-pedal (how about that flash-back to a previous post) on earth, she is also a dear friend and wordsmith.  Amy is good with words.  She can use them to be humorous and she can use them to speak from her heart.  Her comments from yesterday are a perfect way, as I see it, to begin this time of reflection.  I put them here and I'll be sure to refer to them as I move along the coming weeks.

Sometimes, when we go through hard times (whatever they may be), we tend to get tunnel vision. We complain, we pout, or we simply give up. We focus on ourselves, rather than on God's constant and unending gift of hope. The promise of tomorrow and all that it offers gives me great comfort. I think God presses pause on our lives for a reflect, to renew, and to restore in us what gets lost in our fast-paced lives: our faith. When we lose sight of what's really important, I mean really important, God has a wonderful way of slowing us down. Maybe these next forty days are His way of making us remember what His vision for us truly love wholly and deeply, to forgive and be compassionate, to give freely to others, to laugh and be joyful, and to feel the peace and grace he provides us despite our shortcomings. What a beautiful world it would be if we had the discipline to live this way all the time. So today, I too will bask in the frenzy that begins this season, for I know that my life is good and God is great. Eat up!!!!! 

The second gift is from my friend Melinda.  She hasn't been my friend for my whole life, but it sure feels like it.  I wouldn't want to think of life without her.  I've asked her for the gift she brings today, and she has given it before.  Like Lent, Melinda just keeps coming around to help me, even with things she has helped me with numerous times.  Remember when I referred to those people (I love but don't understand) who create order, enjoy tidying and have lives that make sense?  Well, Melinda is one of those.  Over and over, year after year, in different places and different spaces, she has come to my rescue when I allow my life to lose all sense of order.  Again and again, she has done for me what she can do for herself easily.  She has forced me to clean out drawers, stood in the entrance to closets and not let me out until they're in order and drawn detailed calendars on large sheets of paper to attempt to illustrate for me what times allows and what it does not.  She reminds me about the things that need to be done daily.  She swoops in and tries to move around through the clutter of a blogging, photo-taking, right-brained friend who is always in need of rescue.  She has done it before and she'll most likely do it again.  Once, years ago, Melinda decided I had too many t-shirts, that the drawers were too full of too many items that weren't necessary.  The entire faculty of the school where I worked took part in a pool to predict how many t-shirts I actually had - my friend, Ann, was closest to the total of 106.  One hundred and six t-shirts?  Yeah, folks like me need help.  

I've subscribed to the blogs that promise to get me organized, decrease my clutter and stress and deep-clean my home in 365 days, but someone in my condition gets a bit scared just by perusing the plans.  So far, I've read a few entries but I'm un-surprisingly hesitant to actually get started.  So . . . Melinda is coming to the rescue.  She'll come today and take a look.  She'll make some suggestions and she'll force me to get rid of some things I won't want to toss.  We've done this before.  We'll do it again.  I'm hopeful, though, that each time I take a few steps forward, I don't take quit as many backward.  I guess it's like that for all of us.  We've all got our stuff.  Now, we get this season, this semi-pause on life, to take inventory and do a bit of housekeeping.  

Today, I give thanks to Amy for her words and to Melinda for her actions.  Thankful beyond measure to be living alongside friends who make me better, make me think and give the gifts they do.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Have a pancake race and party on . . .

Shrove Tuesday greetings to you all, friends.  For those of us observing the Christian calendar, today is the day to go wild, to pull out all the stops.  This is the day to grab all of the glutenous ingredients you see in the pantry and bake something delicious (like pancakes), something that you might abstain from in the coming forty days. 

Lent begins tomorrow and folks all over this great earth are partying today.  I've got friends at Mardis Gras in New Orleans, Carnival is going strong in Brazil; how will you party today? 

Why should we party?  What's the point?  What about if times are tough or the sky is cloudy or we just got bad news?  What if our loved ones are suffering or there isn't any money?  What if we don't live in New Orleans or we hate pancakes?  Why should we party? 

I suggest that we should party in spite of all of that.  We should party because the Christian tradition gives us the gift of trying again and again.  We get the gift of the over and over.  Every year we get to try it all again.  We get to keep practicing - and I appreciate that especially in a year when things aren't perfect.  We can prepare for lent today and then we have more than a month set aside to take a good, long look at how we're doing.  And then next year, we get a whole new chance. 

I appreciate that I'm supposed to party today!  I have to party, to get ready for what we'll do during lent.  It's time to throw caution to the wind, and I plan to complete this assignment. 

You might say I'm crazy or you might even say I'm cruising for a bruising (as my Mom used to say, though no bruising followed), but tonight my family will have a force-feeding of Shrove Tuesday.  Tonight we'll celebrate the eighth birthday of my son.  Maybe we're really, really late with the celebration (his birthday was Dec. 10) or maybe it's just all working out the way it should be.  Either way, the party is headed our way!

We'll eat pancakes tonight, I'm ready with the goods for the traditional pancake race, we're going to make a mess and there will be screaming!  Tonight I'll be surrounded by beings whose main objective is the party, the fun.  These guys will have no trouble letting it all hang out tonight, even if everything in the world around them is not perfect.  That's not how it is with them.  They will laugh and yell and play their hearts out.  They'll make a mess and eat too much and run til they fall down in a heap. 

They'll help me remember what today is about, and I'm sure that they'll help tire me into realizing what begins tomorrow.  Tomorrow I'm given yet another chance to take a long look at me and my life and what God and I are doing together.  I'll have forty days and nights to look and listen and think and concentrate and pray.  I get that chance again every year; for that I am eternally grateful.

Tonight, though, it's our homework to party.  It's our task to clean out the pantries of our kitchens, our minds and our houses; to bring out all of the 'good' stuff and play hard.  Mission accepted!  We'll do that and the crew of precious, crazy, noisy, funny boys will help us. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Something good to remember . .

A special event of this weekend took me back - way back.  My kids had their first swim meet, and it was a happy occasion, to be sure!  In just a few short hours of our Saturday morning, I found myself wanting to cram 'a whole bunch of wisdom' into my children.   A swim meet does that, I presume; throws in your face many options for covering your child in what one believes and does not believe about winning, losing, trying, persevering and the like.  The meet started quickly and made me realize I hadn't spent adequate time talking to my kids about winning and losing, about attitude and spirit.  I worried for a moment, and then I decided to relax and enjoy the festive air.

My kids and their friends are not serious swimmers - this is their first year of 'swim team.'  They've never participated in a meet before and all they know of what makes a swim a 'meet' are the force fed memories I have recounted for them on many occasions.  You see, my swim team experience is one I wish I could give them, and it has absolutely nothing to do with perfect strokes and extensive practice.

In the neighborhood where I grew up, we had a pool.  As far as I knew, every neighborhood where everyone grew up had a similar pool.  And, as far as I knew, every child in each of those neighborhoods swam on the swim team.  That's the way it was, I thought.  I don't know how it came to be that my sister and I swam on the team; that's just the way it was.  And I'm thankful.

I'm sure I'm missing a few of the negative details, for surely there were some, but what I remember of it was quite wonderful.  Our summers were eaten up with swimming and the pool was the central focus of our kid lives.  Each weekday morning we jumped on our bikes and rode (often with no hands on the bike) down the hill to the pool.  We joined other friends of all different ages from the other areas of the neighborhood and jumped off of our bikes in unison, throwing them into a pile of colorful medal and banana seats.  I mention this pile of two-wheeled treasure for I picture it perfectly in my mind - it's an illustration of a great time, a time with no bike locks, no perfect order, no helmets, and no vigilant  accompanying parents - it's picture of a big mess of simplicity.  The only worry associated with time at the pool was in needing to leave early for some reason and realizing that you had the bike at the bottom of the pile.

My memories of being on the Cedar Creek Swim Team are these:  early morning practices filled with lots of laughs as we complained that the water was too cold - hard work as coaches and friends pushed us to try harder, to do our best - charts where our times were posted and glee when we watched our numbers get better - lots of fun for the remainder of the day as we went about our days all in the confines of this Athens, Georgia eastside subdivision pool.  Many of our meals were eaten at the pool, we played cards at the pool, we swam in the rain, in the dark, all day long.  I remember putting my towel beside the teenagers and spending whole days learning every word to Philadelphia Freedom and such.  We huddled in the 'chemicals' building when it stormed and hoped it would clear up in time to get back out for more fun, we took turns giggling as we answered the pay phone just across from the shallow end, we taught younger friends how to play Spider and Marco Polo and all of the other staples of summertime in the seventies.  It was fun.  Really fun.  And the only thing better than any old summer day was Thursday nights . . .

Thursday nights were when we had the meets!  Thursday nights were when our friends' swim team came to our pool or we went to theirs, where we painted ourselves with the names of our races, donned our stars and stripes racing suits, proudly wore our swim caps and shouted for our teams.  Thursday nights were 'what it was all about.'

I've thought a lot about those times since my kids' meet on Saturday, and I've marveled at what I remember.  What I remember is what I wish most to give my children, what matters most.  What I remember is a feeling, a full feeling of happiness and love and excitement and a time when I shared simple fun with most of the people I knew best in the world.  Thursdays were awesome, though I know that isn't the word we used at the time (I'm trying to remember what we said, but I know it was good.)

On Thursdays everyone ended up at the pool; the mamas and the daddies, the folks who stayed at home and the ones that worked in an office, they all ended up at the pool on Thursdays.  On Thursdays we didn't eat 'real' food - no way - we snacked all evening on pure junk (this was just before we learned that pure sugar wasn't actually the best way to fuel a body for hard work) and each family had a home base - that was where a parent sat, guarded the towels and the chairs, and watched over the candy, the treasures.  And the parent who wasn't at the home base was either at the end of a lane as timer or working at the concession stand or manning the ribbon table.  There were folks watching over us everywhere.  I didn't think about that then, I just reveled in the fun, in the belonging.  Parents gathered us in the bullpen and coaches gave us last minute pointers and we laughed - a lot.

What I've thought about most in the last few days is what EXACTLY I remember from those times.  And what I DON'T remember.  I have absolutely no idea about the particulars, no clue who was best at which race.  I have no idea who won each heat, but I often see the face of the sweet girl who almost always came in last, and I remember how her spirit and her smile made her the hands-down favorite of all of us.  Though I know I loved breaststroke best, I don't recall which distance I swam most or which heat I liked to be in or which friends I swam against most.  I don't remember any of that.  None of that is part of the magic in my mind.

I remember the feelings, the security, the routine, the knowing about what to expect.  I remember the faces of the all of the folks around the pool, the sights of the parents - mine and my friends - who cheered us on, who wanted us to succeed, who wrapped us in big, dry towels and hugged us and squealed with us about how wonderful it all was.  I remember all of that; I remember exactly what it felt like, how it sounded, the noises of the races in the background, the loudspeaker calling the names of the next racers, the giggles of the babies who ran from their parents.

I remember it all, and I am thankful for those experiences.  I'm thankful for the days of fun, of belonging, of feeling like I was on my own while in the caring, watchful eyes of many.  I remember those times and I smile.  They are good memories, and I regret that I may not be able to afford my own children those times, those early morning practices, those Thursday nights.

My mind drifts back to where we are now, to the present, and I smile as I think back to Saturday and to the faces of my kids and their friends.  I remember how we cheered for each other's children and how we filled the cement at the end of each lane and how we screamed at the top of our lungs and how we sent out as much love as we could for each child in the pool.

It was different, this first meet.  It was inside and there were lots of unknowns.  Our children are just learning and there weren't many kids in the pool alongside them.  But they swam their hearts out and they had a first lesson in looking over, realizing they weren't ahead, and knowing they had to keep trying.  Us adults had our first attempts at shouting out encouragement, at yelling our hopes and wrapping them in the towels at the end of the lane.  We all had our first run at the swim meet.  There wasn't any junk food, save the generic Gator-ade from QuickTrip and there was no pile of bikes.  We brought the kids in our mini-vans and Subarus and we watched their every move.  There wasn't a ribbon table, but everybody got a bright green participation ribbon to keep.  It was different from the old days, it was.  But I'm thankful.

I think we all learned a lot.  The kids aren't quite ready to star in a YouTube video how-to on stroke steps, but they swam - they swam hard and they were proud.  We screamed and we were proud.  It was good.  I can't make it the way it was in 1979, but it's 2012 and my children loved their first swim meet.

I cannot know what they'll remember, but I'm pretty sure they've already forgotten where they placed in each race.  And now they know what it feels like to push and try with all they have and they know what it looks like to come up for air and gaze into the many eyes of caring folks, people who want them to succeed and grow up in love and happiness.  And that is good.  

That's something good to remember.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

List 7 - Ten Reasons You Should Love Tie Dye

The Friday list is back, and this list comes from the heart - my heart.   Apparently, there is a good chance I was born in the wrong decade, for I seem to dress from another one.  I don't necessarily attribute this love to any particular movement, though I do love the idea of peace and I'm ready to see a little of it for my children and the rest of the world.

I just love it!  It makes me happy, and after doing a bit of research, it appears that dying fabric has been making people happy since before the birth of Christ.  Ancient Asian cultures have tie-dyed for centuries.   For goodness sakes, people, if you haven't jumped on the band wagon yet, it's TIME!

Here's a list to help you over the hump.  There are more good points, but I'll keep the item total to ten.  Some of these aid me in my defense when folks giggle about my donning the look - go ahead, friends, I can take it.  I guess I'm really groovy and far out because my love keeps getting deeper.

I had a grand laugh this summer about tie-dyed shirts.  Picture this - I'm in a conversation with a couple of new friends at a church conference center and we are discussing the upcoming 'adult only tie dye class' slated for that evening.  They are giddy with giggles about the fact that they, two grown women, are actually going to make a tie-dyed shirt.  I don't really get what's so funny about it.  We continue the conversation.  This is when I knew, really knew, that maybe I feel differently about wearing tie-dye.  This is when I knew that maybe I'm a little different.  One of them leaned in close and barely whispered, "My little grandson makes me one at camp every year, and one day at tennis I actually wore it when I was walking off the court!  Can you believe that?  The other ladies just loved it.  Oh, me, me."  Hmmm.  Things that make you go, "hmmmmm."  Was I to admit, there on the spot, that half of my clothes are t-shirts and half of my t-shirts are tie-dyed?  Is this normal?  Am I okay?

Well, time has passed and I've given the topic a good deal of thought.  I've figured it out.  I'm perfectly normal and people who don't understand the need for tie-dyed clothing are not.   To follow is a primer, a little help for those of you who still don't get it.  As usual, this is but some of the reasons and they are in no particular order.  There are only a few of us who really understand, and I would be remiss if I did not dedicate this blog post to my good friend, Dan Walden.  Dan is a brother in the fight to make tie-dye the official national clothing and he wears it well.

And so . . .

Ten Reasons You Should Love Tie Dye

  1. People who wear tie-dye are nice.  Don't you want to be nice?
  2. Tie-dye is an art-form, but it is also fool-proof.  Just as no two tie-dyes are exactly the same, no tie-dye project can be messed up.
  3. It is fun to do tie-dye and it makes people sing, smile, giggle and laugh.  
  4. When you do real tie-dye, your fingers change color for a few days and that leads to many opportunities for you to spread the word about how very cool you are.
  5. You can give a kid, any kid, anything that has been tie-dyed and they will instantly love you.  They will completely change their mind about how they first saw you and forever and ever look at you with renewed coolness.
  6. Apparently, it takes courage to wear tie-dye, so people who do so are strong, able-bodied folks who meet the challenges of this life head on. 
  7. The family who tie-dyes together, stays together.  
  8. Tie-dying takes patience and time.  It takes care and consideration.  It is not a quick process and should not be hurried.  One must enter a reflective, artistic, thoughtful place to commence tie-dying, and one will be terribly proud at the finished product.  
  9. Tie-dying is for people of all ages.  My ninety two year old grandmother tie-dyes with us at the beach each summer (I'm not sure she has ever been spotted in her finished products; I'll get on that.) and little tiny people can do it, too.  Even if they can't use a rubber band or tie a knot, they can be perfect directors about where such knots should be placed.  
  10. Tie-dyed shirts make people happy.  Sometimes they can even make you look happy while you are waiting for the happiness to set in, giving folks the outward sign that you are happy and that smiling should begin when you are seen.  

I can but hope that readers will add their own reasons to the list and that we can build an on-going list about why the world should pay better attention.  

Make peace, love everybody, be happy, have a nice day and the rest, friends.  It's all good.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Documenting memories . . .

Wow, I'm glad I do what I do!  Cameras and photographs and art captured me early and I never got over it.  Now, I'm fortunate enough to do what I love, and I'm thankful.  There are so many different parts of photography, so many actions for each image, and I love that process.  I regret that I never learned to develop my own film, never had a dark room, never got to truly learn those steps.  I believe the sequence of events, the slow emergence of a wonderful captured moment would have intrigued me; I would have delighted in the stages of development and in the final product.  I hate that I missed that.

I don't dwell on that for long, though, because there are plenty of moments now, enough steps and stages to create a piece that presses pause on life and adds to a family's history.  It's magic, really, and I am thrilled to have a hand in it.  There is something about still photography; I've said that before.  There is something so powerful about shooting an image, tweaking it in just the right ways, paying close attentions to it's composition and the light around it and having it to hold and to study for years to come.  There is magic in that - having a photograph that captures a moment just the way you remember it or the way it really felt and being able to look back at forever.  I love that.

Find an old photograph that you love.  Take a look at it today.  Remember why you love it so, recall how you felt on the day it was taken and relive for a moment in your mind how it all felt.  Enjoy.

I love these photos because when I look at them, I can hear her squeaky giggle and I can feel her soft touch.  These make me smile . . . hope they make you smile, too.

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