Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Movers are here...

The movers arrived yesterday.
My desktop computer is packed - most of my house is packed.
I don't know whether to feel happy or sad - this is our first home together in the US, so it is sad to leave, but ahead lies a wonderful new page in our life with our new home in Arkansas - I am on a rollercoaster of emotion.

We leave here tomorrow afternoon and begin our 4 day, 1600 mile roadtrip. I am going to be offline for a few days, but rest assured I will be taking hundreds of photos and will share them with you once I am up and running pc wise again.

Catch you all on the other side

Have a wonderful day
Lou :-)

Friday, December 07, 2012

Flip Flop Edit Challenge - December #2

It's really quite funny, because all of a sudden I feel quite anxious about our move and feeling the need to clean everything in sight, but I am also finally managing to make myself find the time to do some editing. Perhaps not in as much depth as I would like, but it is a welcome release from the chaos that is my mind at the minute.

OK so here is my entry for this weeks Flip Flop edit. I hope you like it. I decided to make the whole image darker so I could increase the intensity of the tree lights. I also straightened and cropped a little.

and here is the original, just so you can see what I did...

Have a great weekend everyone, and don't forget to go along and check out the other flip flop entries - Just click on the button below.

Little Adventures

Feeling it for Gorgeous G....

Of all of us, I think our impending move is actually hardest on the Gorgeous G, and this last day has really brought home to me just how hard it is. Let me explain....

G is 14 years old and a Freshman in High School.  Here in California the 1st school semester ends on the 21st January. In Arkansas the 1 st semester ends on the 21st December. A whole month earlier. This might not seem like a big thing, but at the end of the 1st semester there are tests. Tests that will go on school records and will affect GPA's. Because he will not start at his new high School until after the Christmas break, this school will have already done their end of semester testing, and he will be officially starting the 2nd semester. 

This means that in order to get his grading and to actually officially end his 1st semester, he must take the end of semester tests here in California a whole 4 weeks early. Here in California they obviously haven't yet taught the students everything they need to know in order to pass these tests, and this is why I am really feeling it for poor G. Since we want to Arkansas and found our house and put the wheels in motion for the move, he has his already huge school workload doubled if not tripled because of all the extra stuff he needs to have covered so he can take his tests early. He has not been given any extra tuition by his teachers to help him with this, he has merely been given the extra work,and he is essentially teaching himself. G is in AP classes for all his subjects and has a GPA of 4.0 which he is justifiably very proud of. We were talking on the way into school this morning and I said that sadly it is just one of those things, and if his GPA drops a little, it drops a little - it's not the end of the end of the world. I told him that no-one doubted how hard he worked and it was by no means a reflection on him, just a result of the differing semester dates between states.To which replied that I just didn't understand - it mattered massively. It mattered to him and it was something he was going to be carrying with him throughout his school life. I then succeeded in making him angry by saying, that not getting his best results would not matter anywhere near as much as not having the results at all, and at least he would have results on his record and would not be in danger of not graduating High School because they were missing! Apparently I don't understand. Maybe he is right, maybe I don't fully understand the school system here yet, but I do understand the work that he is putting in to try and ensure that he maintains his 4.0 GPA, and my heart feels the stress that he is putting himself under in order to do so.

Along side the school work, G has also been training extremely hard to achieve his purple belt in Hapkido before we move. He has been helping out with the teaching of the lower belts in exchange for free classes for himself, and I have continued to pay for lessons as well, so that he can train 5 days out of 7 because we know how important Hapkido is to him. He has injured his knee and we have been strapping it up, so that he can continue to train with it because this is so important to him - His dedication is amazing! Last Friday evening was testing and at 7pm I went up to the Hapkido school to watch him test. I was amazed at how many parents there were there, I had not realised how much the school had grown since it opened earlier in the year. Anyway, when I arrived the yellow and white belts were doing their testing. G was the only orange belt, so he had to wait until the end to complete his testing, and also had to work with his instructor, Gary, as his sparring partner, because there was no one else at his level to test with. I was amazed at how calm G was. He doesn't like doing anything publicly and yet here he was showing all these parents just what he had learned and taking it all in his stride. When the testing was over the judges called the groups before them, first the white belts, then the yellow belts and finally G. The judges spoke of his dedication to the art and how he had been the first student on their register, the first to get yellow and orange belts and now the first to achieve purple belt too. They said how much they would miss him now he was moving and hoped that he would continue with his dedication to the art. I was quite choked by what was said. I was even more choked when at the end, the parents clapped and cheered for him, something they hadn't done for anyone else.

Yesterday when G got home from school, he was exhausted. He had been on a trip with the NJROTC to a navy base in San Diego, and since they had left for the base at 3am that morning he has spend the previous night at the school with the rest of the students, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor. He told me that he had been unable to sleep at all, and so was tired from the start. He said the trip was a monumental waste of everyones time, and he had no clue why they insisted on taking part every year. He said they were given a 1 hours briefing on the exercise they had to take part in, but then the exercise itself lasted only about 10 to 15 minutes. Then they all got back on the bus and made the long journey back to Pasadena. After telling me this he said "My head hurts, I need to lie down. Can I have a nap for about 20 mins?" and off he went to bed. After an hours sleep I tried to wake him to eat some dinner, but he was just too tired to surface. After another hour he woke but said he didn't want anything to eat and that his head still hurt. He sat on the sofa and was instantly back asleep. After another hour he woke, said he felt dreadful still, but really needed to do some school work or he would never get it all done. He worked for half and hour and fell asleep again. He woke again later and said he needed to go to school super early this morning because he had forgotten his English book and needed to do the homework before English class which is his first class. He then returned to bed and slept through until this morning. At 7am, I dropped him off at school so he could do his homework.

G looks dreadful....
G is exhausted....
I feel so so bad for him. I admire his diligence and his commitment, but this is beyond a joke now....
Next week he takes all his end of semester tests. I don't care if he doesn't get A's for everything, but I hope for him that he gets them, because he wants them so badly. He has worked so hard over the last month to ensure that he maintains his 4.0 at school, and also so hard at Hapkido to ensure he gets his purple belt. He has even made sure that he doesn't let down the other students at Hapkido in his teaching of them....
He is a superstar in my eyes - but he is a superstar to me without all the work!

I will be so glad when next Friday comes and all the testing is over and done with, and he can just relax and allow himself to recover from the mental and physical stress he has been under....

I don't want to see my baby looking the way he looks now. 
I love my son with all my heart, but now I have found a new respect and admiration for him as well.

Have a great day

Photo Friday #77 - December Decor

Well after my total amazement at having my photo of S as the featured photo from last weeks Photo Friday, I thought I had better make sure I find the time to enter again this week.

This weeks theme, as you can guess from the title of my post is 'December Decor'.
Hmmmm a bit of a toughie for 2 reasons. Firstly, I never ever put my decorations up until the week before Christmas and secondly, with our big move from CA to AR happening next week, there is not even a sign of a Christmas card going up.

Not to be deterred, I have scrolled through images of Christmases past and have found some to show you. They aren't exactly December Decor but they are Christmas snaps, so please enjoy.
Snow on Christmas morning on the road where my parents live in Cheshire

The Christmas Eve Fair in Edinbrugh

Big Wheel at Christmas Eve Fair in Edinburgh

Carousel at Christmas Eve Fair in Edinburgh

My niece Lizzie on Christmas Day walk in the snow

Lizzie showing that she isn't always pulling a face

Youngest son - Handsome H getting ready to snowball his younger nieces on our Christmas day walk
With everything in full swing for our move, I am really looking forward to waking up Christmas morning in our new home, and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature around us. No cars speeding up and down the street and no sirens going off. It will be such a pleasure to be out in the countryside of Arkansas instead of the suburbs of Los Angeles. It might even give Christmas at my sisters in Scotland a run for it's money - you never know!

Now you have looked at my images, please don't forget to head over and check out the other entries for this weeks Foto Friday.

Have a great weekend
Click on this image to view other entries

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

10 days....

OK so there are 10 days to go until the big move commences.
Actually that is not strictly true - the movers come a week today, next Wednesday, to start packing up our belongings. They say they will spend Wednesday and Thursday packing. Friday is loading day and bye bye furniture and everything else. Saturday morning, we will set of in the truck with the trailer loaded with all the stuff the movers won't take like acetylene tanks from the garage, open bottles of bleach from under the kitchen sink and the open jar of jam out of the fridge!

I am actually starting to feel really really frustrated with it all. Because the company hubby works for (you all know who that is I think - and hey we're moving to NW Arkansas who else could it be!) are paying for the whole relocation thing, I am not allowed to pack anything, A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G, not even unbreakable stuff like towels. I keep wandering around the house thinking "I need to start doing something, we move in 10 days" but there is nothing for me to do. I can't clean anywhere yet, because if I do I will only have to do it again once the furniture gets moved out. I am on top of all my washing and ironing - there is literally nothing to be done and yet I feel I need to do something - hence my frustration!

S doesn't fly home until Tuesday, and you all know by now, I don't sleep well when he isn't here, so my frustration is getting exaggerated because I am getting super-tired. I just want everything at this end to be done and sorted, so we can get on the road and enjoy the sights on our little 4 day road trip from here to there, before chaos ensues because amazingly the movers, whilst packing everything, do not provide the opposite service and unpack at the other end!

Also this week I started a discussion on LinkedIn and asked for critique on my photography website...You can see what said there can't you "critique on my website". Most people made comments about my website layout and gave some really inciteful advice. However one woman, who shall remain nameless a: because I couldn't care less what her name is and b: because she knows who she is, saw fit to launch into a stream of if I need to ask for the opinion I shouldn't be in the business, and followed on with a tirade of how I have no relevant experience in my profile, am not a member of any associations etc etc. Told me how I needed to have a Facebook photography page, a Flickr account and then proceeded with the need for a business plan and market research and, and, and - it went on and on. She really got my goat - I responded when perhaps I should have taken a deep breath and counted to 10, and asked her if she had even bothered to look at my website, told her that my LinkedIn profile highlighted what I wanted to highlight and just because I didn't feel the need to shove my past careers in everyone's face didn't mean I didn't have the know how and how dare she suggest otherwise (giant pause for breath). I then also pointed out that I do have a Facebook photography page and a Flickr photostream, and Twitter and Tumblr and and.........

After my return tirade on this woman, and after I had calmed down, I ventured to look at her LinkedIn profile and guess what - she has been in the photography business about 20 years she claims - she has no website listed on her profile and no website that I can find via google and her company name. she does have a facebook company page - it has 1 photograph on it and only 1 like. She does have 3 Flickr photostreams but has not uploaded one single image to any of them. Her LinkedIn profile shows that she has a BA in Business, but has no photographic qualifications whatsoever and the only professional associations she has are with groups on LinkedIn - and she was questioning my abilities - "Errrr lady...get a grip, get a life"
So now I am kind of angry and amused by her. I have come to the conclusion that her life must be so miserable that she is unable to read what was originally asked of anyone on my LinkedIn post "critique of my website" and she was telling me, not suggesting to me, telling me what I need to do when she obviously hasn't done any of it herself.....The phrase silly cow comes to mind, but that may be too polite for how I feel about this woman and I wouldn't want to offend any actual cows with the comparison!

Told you I was frustrated....

Have a great day

Monday, December 03, 2012

Don't pass out with the shock Amy....

Flip Flop Edit Challenge - December #1

It has been  quite some time since I found the time do actually do one of these edits, and anyone who doesn't follow me on Facebook will not have a clue what this is - as of course it was originally a Facebook and not a blog thing.

The whole moving thing seems to have taken over and I have not found the time to edit anything let alone a photo. Still as I sit here tonight, unable to sleep, I decided I would actually edit the Flip Flop Challenge photo and take part. Of course it will probably be another month or so before I find the time again, but at least you know the spirit is willing is everything else is otherwise occupied.

Again for those who read my blog but don't know what this is. The lovely Amy at Little Adventures posts an original photograph twice weekly that you can download and then edit. Once edited to put the photo in a blog post and link back to the Flip Flop Edit Challenge and the photos are judged for their overall appeal, creativity  etc. It's fun!

Hope you like my efforts

I have to be honest and say I have done this in a bit of a blur. I clarified, sharpened and then did my levels and curves thing with Wyatt's beautiful eyes. After all that effort I then converted to black & white which was my intention all along, and I have to say, this is what I do - get the colour image to look exactly how I want it and then convert to black & white. To me it just creates a better image that way.

Anyway, finally I did something I rarely do, and used Picmonkey to add the Christmassy bit at the bottom and the line from 'While Shepherds watched their flocks by Night'

Have a great day
Don't forget to check out the other entries here
Also don't forget to check out my Photography Website - Lou Bradt Photography

Little Adventures

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Foto Friday with Lori....

This is a first link up for me and I have no clue of I have got it right. None of these photos are super recent, but the theme is black and white and they are all black and white - Is that right? I hope so, and please if I got it wrong, someone let me know because my head is all over the place at the minute and I am trying to regain some sense of normality.

Anyway - anyone who knows me, knows that black & white is my thing. I think it truly brings out the character in a photo - here are some of mine.

Don't forget to look at all the other photos using the link below, and thank you for taking the time to look at mine. All my images can be found on my website "Lou Bradt Photography"

Have a wonderful day