I think every person who manages a household has those things that are important to them, but are not consistent in every home. Some people put a lot of time and effort into keeping furniture clean and polished and in tip-top shape. Some people clean windows or spend loads of money on coverings and treatments for those windows. Some spend hundreds of dollars on baking dishes (Le Creuset…I’m looking at you) or mixers. Me? I’m a framer.

I keep an eye on the clearance frames at Target and buy ones I find too cute to resist. Once we knew we’d be moving I just kept them in a stack to put into use in the new house. In the old house we had one hallways that was lined with frames…black on one side and wooden on the other. I had specific collage frames for specific trips we’d taken. Framed photos hung everywhere. Mostly recent photos because I take so many that I’m constantly updating frames with newer photos.

Now that we’ve moved, I’ve got plenty of frames on shelves and tables, but still haven’t hung and of the photos of people on the walls yet. I wanted to take this move as a chance update photos and also allow for new family portraits as I think we’ll be making a trip to Portrait Innovations at the end of the summer. (If you have one in your town, you should check it out. You get 3 backgrounds and 2 outfit changes and the photo packages are all Wal-Mart/Target studio level affordable.) So…I’ve been spreading out frames on floors and trying to plan out what frames will hold new family portraits (We haven’t had any made with Wes yet.) and then put my own pictures of the kids in other frames.

I look at my workspace above when I’m working on several frames, which I was last night, and imagine it’s something like quilting. I have stacks of recent photos I have printed and several frames/slots in frames. I move pictures in and out of positions and look at the frames/wall as a whole before committing myself. I always want to make sure we have everyone in the family represented as close to equally as possible. (Although across the house NikkiZ wins the award for Most Pictures…she’s too photogenic for her own good.) I also like to make sure everyone likes the pictures I choose of them. I try to make sure we don’t duplicate outfits or settings too often, and I like to make sure to include plenty of candid/non-posed shots. (One day I’d like to have a whole wall dedicated to these photos.)

It’s a weird hobby/obsession…but I think it’s a way for me to turn my digital hobby into something solid that I can enjoy. I love taking pictures of my kids. I take anywhere from 2GB to 5GB of photos a month. Taking the time to frame them and decide where to place them around the house allows me an excuse to print the photos up and to spend time flipping through them while I decide what photos should/could go where.

What about you…do you take a lot of photos? What do you do with them? Are you anywhere near as deliberate about the framing process/choices as I am or am I totally OCD about this? Because that’s okay if I am. I don’t mind.

My Sitting Room

(Oops! I have no idea why comments were off before. They’re back on!)

I mentioned back when we were trying to prep our house for market, that we were taking down personal photos and I was finally framing some of my “real” photography. Of course, we gave up on trying to prep the house while still in it, but I was determined to hang some of the framed photography in our new home as well. As most of you have probably experienced, however, it’s difficult to decide where to hang photos in a new home. There are different rooms and walls and colors and it takes awhile to decide what should go where. I finally finished the sitting room last week, it is the first room to be completely done. This means it is the first room that has stuff on the walls.

Sitting Room: After
Sitting Room: After
Sitting Room: After

I’m very proud of this room as I chose everything from the paint color to the furniture myself. I decided where to put the old furniture and those are my books on that bookshelf you can’t see because it’s by the only light in the room. This is essentially my room and I could not be more proud to finally have some of my photography on the walls. It’s hard to tell because it’s hard to get good lighting in that room, but there are 5 photos of mine framed on the walls. I chose the more girly photos for this room because MrZ wants me to put some in the “Man Room” too. I sit in one of these chairs every day, and just look around.

Now all I need is a reason to invite people over to sit in the room with me. Or do you think people would accept an invitation to simply Sit? I think if they were going to accept an invitation to sit in any room? It would be this one.

You offered me much more than your umbrella.


Several months ago I had an incident at Target where a woman was openly hostile and rude to me when I dared cross her path with my cart and two kids. Since my nature is to immediately feel awful for anything that upsets someone else – and it was so obviously I upset her as she snottily exclaimed, “Jeezus. Just cut me off why don’t you and don’t even apologize” – I followed her to grovel for forgiveness. She was even ruder to me at that moment as she was on her cell phone bitching about me, “This girl and her kids just cut me off without even looking at me…”) and she just waved her hand in my face and shoo’ed me away like, Whatever, little girl. Go away now. I was shaken and upset. I reanalyzed the situation hundreds of times that day and came to one simple conclusion: I did nothing wrong. She was just a bitch. But it still wounded me. Upset me. Causes me to now brace for an attack anytime my cart cuts off someone at the end of an aisle.

I told the story several times that weekend, but I have – since then – slowly started to erase the event from my mind. This is a gift I’ve always possessed, the ability to actually forget the hurt people have caused me. I’ve actually run into people from my past before and been so excited to see them that I’ve hugged them and greeted them fondly. Only to later remember that maybe we ended on bad terms and that they were expecting the cold shoulder from me. I think my subconscious doesn’t want these incidents to have power over me. My conscious self wants to never forget the woman’s face so that if I ever see her again I can punch her in the gut. But my subconscious self? Knows better. Knows that gives this horrible woman power over my positive spirit and I realize that the memory is faded.

I had to go drop off a prescription at Target on Monday. Right as we got there it started pouring. And I mean pouring. I opened the umbrella and it flipped inside out. I usually don’t even bother with umbrellas anyway because it takes away a hand that can hold/carry a child. My theory has always been to move faster in the rain and leave the umbrella in the car. But NikkiZ wanted me to try. Since the umbrella was useless and I didn’t want to sit in the car for hours and wait…I put NikkiZ on my back and carried AndyZ on my front and we started running. There was a kind woman leaving Target who offered us her umbrella was we passed her. She just offered it…Here! You take this! I don’t need it! I laughed, thanked her as forcefully as I could for her wonderful kindness, and kept running.

There was no point in the umbrella. Two steps in the rain and we were already soaked. But we didn’t care. It was funny and we were laughing. Maybe a little cold inside the air-conditioning of the store, but still laughing. But that wonderful woman…she was about to hand over her umbrella…just give it to me…because it was so obvious we were in need. And there are many more like her I encounter every day. People who just smile when I cut them off at Target and commiserate about losing momentum on those buggies. People who let me in on a busy road. People who laugh at my children’s antics instead of grumble that they even exist. There are tons of wonderful and loving people in the world and I want to remember every one of their faces. I tried to stamp the kind smile of that woman who offered me her umbrella in my mind forever. I don’t want to forget her. I want my subconscious to hold on to her face and show it to me when the ugly people of the world pop up. To remind me that I have the power to let the rude and the hateful people roll away into infinity and I can hold onto the kind and the loving forever.

I will figure out a way to repay that woman some day. Maybe not by giving away an umbrella, since I obviously never carry one. But I’ll figure out a way. Even if it’s just adding more kindness to my general interactions with people. Anything to pass on the joy that the woman with the umbrella gave me on Monday. That reminder that there are truly kind and good people in the world. And I truly hope that simple gesture comes back to that woman 100 times over…that her kindness returns over and over again. I’d really like her to know that the crazy lady carrying two kids in the pouring rain will always remember her kind gesture, even if she didn’t take the umbrella.

Family Time.

Insisted on riding alone

I took NikkiZ and Wes on a camel ride at the Zoo Saturday. I was more excited than they were but once we got there, NikkiZ wanted to ride alone. I made her ride with me first, and then we used the Solo opportunity as an incentive to stop whining about the heat already. When she finally got on it she didn’t even flinch. No fear. No hesitation. Just her on a camel, like there would be no reason for her to do anything but ride alone and riding with her Mom was simply an effort in tolerating parental authority.

The rest of the Zoo trip went great. The only animals we wanted to see but didn’t (They were inside, maybe? Avoiding the heat? Shopping some back to school sales? Getting a manicure? I don’t know.) were the Gorillas. Everyone else was out even in the heat and the kids had a ball. We fed flamingos, (OMG…tickled the CRAP out of my hands!) we rode camels, we hung out inside the fence with the Kangaroos while they ate and we watched the Sea Lions do their training sessions. All in all a superb trip. It wasn’t even crowded because the rest of the potential customer base was obviously smart and knew how freakin’ hot it was going to be.


On the way home, all three kids fell asleep. It’s a nice moment, a car ride back from a busy family outing out of town when everyone passes out from exhaustion. I just kept looking in the back of the van at them all. NikkiZ and AndyZ both passed out in horrible uncomfortable positions in their car seats. LilZ spread out across the back bench seat. Everyone snoring and sweaty and quiet. I wish we had the time and money to make trips like that a lot, but between those factors and just the simple fact that someone is always busy – we rarely make it out on big trips as a family. MrZ and LilZ often have their own schedules dragging them away so having the five of us in the van after a successful family outing? Felt very nice. Me and the little ones? We do stuff together all the time. They get bored with me. All five of us? We probably could have spent the day at Wal-Mart and it would have been just as exciting.

Although…Wal-Mart doesn’t have camels.

Good Planning There, Zoot.

Great Day For A Trip To THe Zoo!

Do you see this weather forecast I grabbed from a local Birmingham, AL affiliate? Do you SEE that the thermometer is going to read 100° but the head index is going to be OVER 105°? DO YOU SEE THIS? Guess what I planned for us earlier in the week? A trip to the Birmingham Zoo today! The perfect outdoor activity for such a weather forecast, don’t you agree? (Sidenote: Everytime I try to type in the URL for the Birmingham Zoo, I catch myself typing Birmingham Zoot. Hee.) I just couldn’t take being in this town and working at one of my two houses for another weekend. I had to plan something small to give me/us one small break from the non-stop weekends of labor. So…the Zoo during a Deadly Heat Wave seemed like a good idea.


The last time we went to a zoo was when we took a trip to the Knoxville Zoo with my Dad and brother right before Wes was born. I looked like this:

Taken By LilZ

That picture was taken at the Knoxville Zoo. I used to go there every few trips home but I haven’t been back since that picture was taken. Today we’re going to the Birmingham Zoo which I’ve only been to once and it was when LilZ was around 3 or 4 and he and I made a day trip there by ourselves. I’m sure it’s changed a bit since then and if we can suffer through the elements I’m sure we’ll have fun. This is the kind of hot that people like to discuss which is worse: Dry Heat or Humid Heat. My brother lives in Tucson where he has the dry desert heat reaching the same temps as we do and he and I always agree on one thing: Once you get past 95°? It doesn’t really matter if it’s humid or dry. Anything above 95° sucks giant donkey balls and you don’t want to be outside in it. I mean, yeah, the humid head is oppressive and makes you feel like the air weighs 40lbs on top of the heat. But the dry heat? Tears up your skin and the linings of your nose, throat, and sinuses – especially if you’re not used to it. So, maybe there’s a relative “better” and “worse” to some people – but let’s face it. No one is saying, “Well, it’s 100° but it’s a dry heat so I think I’ll spend the day at the park!” or “Well, it’s 100° but at least it’s humid and I won’t get nosebleeds…maybe I’ll work in the yard all day!” Nope. We’re all saying, “Holy Effin’ Hell — Did I just move to the surface of the sun and not realize it? GIVE ME MY AIR-CONDITIONING.”

And this is when I point out to my kids that A) Mommy grew up in a house without air-conditioning. IN THE SOUTH. and B) Mommy lived several summers without air-conditioning in her car. And some of those summers? SHE WAS PREGNANT.

In other words? No one gets heat-sympathy in my house. My stories of not even bothering to shower in the summers growing up because we’d never actually dry off, the water just was replaced with sweat – or my stories about pregnant commutes in the middle of July? My stories always win out and stop the complaining RIGHT THERE.

Yes, I’m that Mom.

So…we’re off to the Zoo today. Hopefully we’ll make it out alive.