Family Photos

When we were in Langley visiting Shawn’s family at the beginning of July, we got a “professional” photographer to do some family photos for us. Don’t worry, grammar nerds, I didn’t use those quotation marks for emphasis. I used them because I didn’t feel that the whole experience was all that professional. Granted, the photographer is just starting out, but if I was just entering my chosen field, I would want to put extra love and time into everything I did so my business would flourish. Shawn and I didn’t really feel that our experience was very pro.

The lady who did the session, owner of Louroo Photography, did the newborn photos for our niece, so Shawn’s mom thought she would be a good choice, and as she’s just starting out, the session fee wasn’t sky high. She was able to be flexible with two littles along for the ride, so that was nice, but for me, that’s where the good impressions ended.

The whole thing felt extremely rushed; I don’t think we were out for much more than an hour, if that, to photograph six adults and two babies. The time distribution between the three couples was also a little skewed, with us getting the short end of the stick. This was especially noticeable when we got the pictures back; not a single shot of just the two of us made it through. Apparently, they just weren’t good enough.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m getting pictures done and the photographer says something like, “Got it!” I assume they got a usable shot. If they say they got it and I find out later that they’re not happy with anything they took, that’s not likely to make me happy. When my mother in law asked what happened, she did say there was one that she felt okay about sending on, but so far we’ve seen nothing. That’s also not encouraging.

I could just be extremely spoiled when it comes to photographers and their work. Our wedding photographer, Kelly Redinger, was absolutely amazing. For example:

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This is not even one of the best shots. It’s not even one of the retouched shots. It’s just one of the many fabulous things that happened with a little bit of direction and his finger on the trigger. That’s one of the things I loved about him. He took pictures until he was sure he got exactly what he was looking for, no matter how long it took, and he gave us all of them, even the ones where we were blinking or making a funny face. That way, we had so much choice it was insane.

Then, there was the newborn photographer that we used, Kristen J Photography. She had the same kind of philosophy: it takes as long as it takes, and I’ll take as many shots as I need to get the best ones. (I mean, why not? It’s digital. Taking more photos doesn’t cost you any more. Sure, editing them does, but only edit the best ones.) For example:

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She was so patient with all of us, and was amazing at making us feel comfortable. For our session being the first meeting, this was a great skill to have. Also, trusting someone with your brand new baby isn’t easy, but I had no problems putting Finn in her capable hands.

The actual pictures we got from our family photo session were lacklustre. She has the general idea, but she needs to take way more shots to make sure she gets something that’s really great. That’s the joy of digital. More pictures does not equal more money required on the part of the photographer, unless they choose to edit them all, like I stated above. She also need to work a little on composition, but that could be my lack of love for overly staged shots coming through.

So, without further ado, these are the photos I didn’t hate:

I edited this one myself to correct a gap at the bust of my dress that was showing off my white bra. Not flattering.

I edited this one myself to correct a gap at the bust of my dress that was showing off my white bra. Not flattering.

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There were also some where the babies were on their tummies, but I guess Natalya ended up in focus and Finn was blurry. I don’t know how that happened or how she didn’t notice. Oh well. Adorable photo op wasted.

There are a few things I should probably make clear: I didn’t dislike these most of these photos because I didn’t get my hair and makeup done, or because they weren’t retouched. I had one photo with pro hair/makeup above, and one where I did everything myself, and neither of them were retouched. I just think this particular photographer has some work to do. Some of the shots were okay, like the ones posted above, but this is not someone I would consider going back to in the future without evidence of some serious improvement.

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On Cats

I’ve always loved animals. Even when dogs made me nervous as a kid, I still loved them. It wasn’t until we got our own dog that my fear vanished, and I started falling in love with dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Cats, on the other hand, creeped me the hell out. The just sat there, staring at you. You can’t tell what a cat is thinking when they’re just sitting there, sucking your soul out through their big, bulbous eyes. They don’t come when you call them, they’re virtually untrainable and they scratch the hell out of your furniture. Sure, kittens are cute, but all kittens grow up to be cats, and who would want one of those?

My high school boyfriend had a cat. A big one. His name was AJ, and there was very little that was creepy or weird about him. He was fat, he slept, and occasionally, he would try to make a break for the yard when the door opened. I spent a lot of time at this boyfriend’s house, and quickly got used to having a non-dog animal around. I figured that AJ was the exception to the rule about cats. Sometimes, he would come out of nowhere and scare the bejesus out of me, but that was a rare occurence. Maybe cats weren’t that bad.

Shortly before graduating, my dog died. This was particularly hard on me because I was home schooled for most of my high school career, and Otis was a large part of my day-to-day life. He woke my mum up when I was sick in the middle of the night. He stayed with me after I had a night terror. He was the best dog on the planet, and suddenly he was gone. Staying home alone all day got very lonely without my dog, but my parents refused to let me get another pet. I could have fish, but fish weren’t true companions. They didn’t sit up with you and lick your feet when you felt sick. They just swam around, doing nothing. I even had a fish, at one point, that ate all my other fish.

I think the reason they didn’t want any more pets was because they were a lot of work. The dog wrecked the grass and the hardwood floors. He shed all over the place and slobbered on the walls. There was no way I could get away with sneaking a puppy, let alone an adult dog, in to the house. A kitten on the other hand…

My parents went to Mexico and I got a kitten. Me, the person who thought cats were creepy, got a kitten. I went to a pet store, walked up to the cage with the heap of kittens in it and asked the sales associate if there was an orange one in there. (Milo and Otis was a favourite movie of me and my brother, so an orange cat was a must). To my luck there was, and I bought her. That’s where I got this:

094Naturally, she was a lot smaller back then, but she was no less cute. Now, all I had to do was wait for my parents to get back from vacation, weather their wrath, and hope for the best.

The wrath was strong. I got yelled at. They told me I would have to get rid of her. I cried, and not for effect. I was genuinely upset. Luckily for me. Milo climbed in to my mum’s lap, started purring and promptly fell asleep. Now all that was left was for my dad to give his blessing. He said, and I quote, “It can stay, but I’m not having anything to do with it.”

That didn’t last long. The next morning, he heard her crying in the downstairs bathroom where she slept at night and felt that she needed to be let out. So, that morning, and every morning afterwards, she got out, had some kibbles, and slept in his lap until he left for work. To this day, he still says that he hates her, but we all know that he’s full of crap.

I learned a lot about cats after that point. The do, indeed have personalities, just like dogs do. They are smart as hell, too. Milo can open doors, if they’re not shut tight or if they have a handle (not a knob). She can open cupboards and drawers. She figured out, when she was small, that if she wanted to make it up on to the counter, all she had to do was climb the nearest person. Of course, she got big enough to make it up on her own after a while, but the ingenuity of this little creature never ceased to amaze me.

Probably the most shocking thing about her is the fact that she likes water. She got a bunch of cat little stuck in her fur after going in the litter box damp (from being sprayed for being bad), so we ran her a bath. Not only did she not protest, she liked the water hot and up to her neck. She will even get in the bath with me if the mood strikes her, whether I’m a willing participant or not.

She’s nearly eleven now, and getting cranky and set in her ways. There are certain times where she just won’t settle down unless my husband carries her around the house. She likes certain types of food, and will only drink water that’s not from a fountain if there’s ice in it. She turns on the tap to get a drink if the fountain is not meeting her standards, but never turns it off, even though she knows how.

She has had several cat companions, but none are quite as interesting as Odie:

587Odie is our 22 pound shelter rescue. We got him to keep Milo company before we started our big, transitional moving process, and our lives haven’t been the same since. He was very skittish and quiet when we first brought him home, but that didn’t last. Now, he’s noisy, boistrous, and quite fond of laying around the house taking naps in positions that make us suspect that he might have died, from something like heart disease or diabetes.

He is very different from Milo. He doesn’t like being carried around or sleeping in your lap. He likes to sleep next to you, with one paw extended to it touches your leg or arm. He’s no adept at cleaning himself, and sometimes gets a funky cat-smell, which is quite different from Milo’s clean fur smell. He will come when I call either of them, and he’s bad at not using the littler box without sitting in his own poop. They couldn’t be more different, and yet they’re best friends.

The bottom line? Cats are creepy. They are nature’s little serial killers. The skulk around, doing weird cat things, with no regard for anyone or anything around them. But, in spite of the creepiness and weirdness, they make great friends. Odie always comes when I’m crying or upset, all on his own, and licks my hands. Milo will show my mum where I am if she has to rescue me after a hemiplegic attack. They steal food off our plates, clothes out of the laundry and hair ties from the bathroom, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

 

 

Local Jazz! Happy Harbor Comics!

We love comic books! Did you know that? If you’ve been reading, you should have some idea that we love comics, manga and graphic novels. It’s a thing with the two of us. In Edmonton, our favourite place to get the goods is Happy Harbor Comics.

A lot of the comic shops in town feel like caves: dark, cramped and full of mysterious corners to explore. While that kind of store has a certain appeal, I much prefer the bright, open and well-organized space that Happy Harbor has to offer. I can always find exactly what I’m looking for, and if I have any trouble, the staff are always super friendly and happy to help.

They have a large gaming section in the back, and frequently host local gaming tournaments, with Magic: The Gathering being prevalent. They also have a large selection of collectibles, toys and other gear, and a huge consignment section in the back corner. The price ranges on items vary, with some being higher and some lower than other stores, but I’ll take a hit of a few bucks to get friendlier service and a better atmosphere.

They also had no problem in us taking over the store for our wedding photos. We had the run of the place for as long as we needed (and they even warned us that they had a MTG tourney coming in at six), and the artist in residence offered to do a pictured for us. Sadly, we didn’t have time. The results we got were awesome, and it was so nice of them to put up with us wandering around the shop and having our way with things. To our credit, we did buy a few books while we were there. I don’t know many other people who buy comics on their wedding day.

If you haven’t checked it out, you should. Located not far from Grant MacEwan downtown, it’s a great place to stop, browse and hang out. You won’t regret it.

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Professional Photography and Why It’s Worth It

We  decided early on in the wedding planning process that photography was on the top of our priorities list. I have seen bad wedding photography, and it was not something I wanted. What is the point in getting pro pictures taken if you look back on them and hate the images? We also knew that just because you were paying a lot, didn’t mean you were going to get good images. My sister-in-law, for her first wedding, paid a sizable amount for her wedding pictures, and she wasn’t happy with the results. That’s not something we wanted.

However, most of the web portfolios we looked at were not wowing us. The were over-processed. They weren’t processed enough. The were too posed, and nothing original was being done. I don’t even remember how many photographers we looked at online, but it started to seem like it was a hopeless cause. We were going to get stuck with inferior wedding photos because we just couldn’t find someone we liked.

That’s when I came across the website for Kelly Redinger. I liked what I saw from the first image, and the way he wrote about himself and his style of photography had me hooked. Shawn pretty much felt the same way, and I think we were both decided before we even went in to the meeting. After the meeting (a large portion of which was spent talking about books, and had nothing to do with photography or weddings at all), we knew we had found our guy, and we were excited to get started.

I’m not used to having someone follow me around and take pictures all day. I don’t think many people are, but when we went out for our engagement shoot, it didn’t take long for Kelly to have us feeling right at home in front of the camera. We got some great pictures, and I didn’t have any hesitation about what was to come for the wedding.

We were not disappointed. We just got the photos back today, and I’m blown away! Why did they turn our so well? Here are my thoughts:

  • Kelly’s style was what we were looking for, so we didn’t have to fight or push for what we wanted. He already knew what would work and he knew we would be open to anything.
  • He works with a second shooter, so we got all the shots we wanted without having to rush ourselves at any point.
  • Everything we wanted from a wedding package was already included when we talked to him. I hate negotiating, and I didn’t have to do it.
  • Our personalities mesh on a lot of levels. If you’re comfortable with your photographer outside of shooting, the pictures are going to be a million times better.
  • He knows how to edit. We got some stuff that is in black and white, regular colour and filtered, and none of it looks over done. It’s all perfect.
  • He didn’t think our offbeat wedding was out to lunch, at all. Having your vendors on your side is a huge win.

If photography is a priority for you, don’t compromise. We shifted other things in our budget to be able to get exactly what we wanted, and I don’t regret it a bit. Take a look at some of the amazing things he did for us:

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On Nothing In Particular, Part II

The last few days have been remarkably kind to me. Yesterday, we managed to clean the whole house. Today, I did the dishes and did four loads of laundry. I can’t remember when the last time was that I got this much accomplished. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without Shawn. I’m trying to avoid using certain cleaners, and that means he has to take care of some things. Cleaning the toilet, for example, falls under his purview now, which makes sense: he makes most of the mess that requires the cleaning. I really am lucky to have someone who is so willing to help out when I need it. I know that not all husbands are the same.

I did get a bit of a migraine as the day progressed, but it was no wonder. We had a hell of a thunderstorm last night. I haven’t seen that much lightning in the sky in ages! I had the blinds on our living room window half closed, and I could still see everything, as clear as if I was outside. It rained. It hailed. The light show was spectacular. Our clean couch got a brand new layer of cat fur on it because Odie, who hates storms, parked himself behind me and shed for the duration of things. He’s spent most of today sleeping, probably because he exhausted himself last night being so terrified for so long.

It still looks a little bleak outside, but I don’t think we’re likely to get a repeat of last night. if we do, I’m going outside to take a better look. Shawn is off work for the next few days, so I’ll have someone to supervise me and make sure I don’t so anything stupid. I tend to get a little more brave than is practical sometimes (unless we’re talking about roller coasters), and having a firm hand on my reins is never a bad thing.

My “no vomiting” streak was sadly ended today. I don’t know if it was residual crap from the migraine, or whether the Tiny Human was protesting the fact that I chose to have a nap instead of stay up and snack. It was just the once, though, so I’m counting that as an improvement. I think I slept better last night, but it’s hard to tell because I stayed up until the worst of the storm was done, and my bladder seemed to be bugging me more than normal. But hey, we’re having a baby, and I can’t complain about that!

Speaking of the baby, I booked my 18-20 week ultrasound today, which means I’m starting to get really excited again. It’s not until September 11, but it’s in the books, and that’s awesome. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find out the sex. As I said to my OB the last time we saw her, this kid owes me a good view of it’s junk. I’ve been putting up with an awful lot on it’s behalf, so the least it can do is give us a clear picture of the goods. I don’t do well with surprises, and waiting to find out the sec of the Tiny Human is no exception. My dad says he doesn’t want to know, but I think he’s lying. He might think he doesn’t want to know, but if we find out, he will. Besides, we’re planning on starting to refer to it by it’s name, as opposed to Spegg, the nickname my dad gave to it. (If you haven’t figured it out, that’s a combination of sperm and egg. I know, lame and cute at the same time.)

Tomorrow, we get some distraction from baby stuff because we’re meeting with our photographer to go over our wedding pictures! I’m so excited! We had an unplugged ceremony, so I’ve seen no shots from that part of the day yet. I’m actually surprised that everyone was so good about our request to have no cameras out. We’re going to have a lot to look at tomorrow, and I’m already prepared to cry, a lot. I was a wreck walking down the aisle, and that was with minimal, 4-week hormones on board. Now, I’m doomed. I’m a crier as it is, so I’m going to need to break out the waterproof makeup. I just hope it’s a few happy tears and not a full on, snot riddled ugly cry. That would suck, even if it would be understandable.

After we get the photos back, I have the unpleasant task of getting in touch with a certain relative who’s photos of our wedding are all of her child. There are a few I don’t really want her to put up, so I have to send her a politely worded Facebook message letting her know that the dark, unrotated and blurry picture of us cutting the cake and the picture of her kid in front of the head table (where all our heads are cut off just below the chin) are not pictures we want out in public. If she doesn’t want to e-mail me the pictures like I asked, she can take down the ones we don’t want seen. This has been one of my only major bride-cthulu things, and I’m sticking to my guns about it.

Naturally, there will be a post with all the awesome pictures from our photography team, but until then, I’m going to post some more from my ‘maid, Cynthia. She got some good ones, and I can’t keep them to myself. Enjoy!

More dancing fun. The dance floor never looked full because it was so huge.

More dancing fun. The dance floor never looked full because it was so huge.

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A wildly inappropriate (and hilarious) use of the finger tentacle. I'm pretty sure our dear friend William is the one doing the boob hoisting.

A wildly inappropriate (and hilarious) use of the finger tentacle. I’m pretty sure our dear friend William is the one doing the boob hoisting.

I'm not sure when this was, but it's a nice picture. If I could, I would wear that dress every day for the rest of my life.

I’m not sure when this was, but it’s a nice picture. If I could, I would wear that dress every day for the rest of my life.

This is what William's face looks like. He is also another former co-worker and boss, and is a ton of fun.

This is what William’s face looks like. He is also another former co-worker and boss, and is a ton of fun.

For some reason, he refused to eat his own hot dog, but kept pretending to take bites of mine.

For some reason, he refused to eat his own hot dog, but kept pretending to take bites of mine.

This, while hilarious, is also slightly disturbing. It's not a look I ever wanted to see on my friends face, ;-)

This, while hilarious, is also slightly disturbing. It’s not a look I ever wanted to see on my friends face, 😉

This is the great set-up we had for both cards, and the wedding mad-libs we had our guests fill out. It looks great with our borrowed teacups and Ikea vases.

This is the great set-up we had for both cards, and the wedding mad-libs we had our guests fill out. It looks great with our borrowed teacups and Ikea vases.

Cynthia taking a moment with my handsome husband. This is also a great shot of his bout, with the Finn figure I made for him.

Cynthia taking a moment with my handsome husband. This is also a great shot of his bout, with the Finn figure I made for him.

This is a horrible picture of my brother. I don't know what's happened to his face, but he's normally not that goofy looking.

This is a horrible picture of my brother. I don’t know what’s happened to his face, but he’s normally not that goofy looking.

This is pretty self explanatory. Shawn was against going up my skirt, but the crowd  insisted. It was amusing.

This is pretty self explanatory. Shawn was against going up my skirt, but the crowd insisted. It was amusing.

His subsequent throw was terrible. I nearly got mowed over.

His subsequent throw was terrible. I nearly got mowed over.

The back of my dress! It was originally a zipper closure, and you can't even tell it had work done to it.

The back of my dress! It was originally a zipper closure, and you can’t even tell it had work done to it.

Cynthia with former co-worker Kelvin and his awesome girlfriend Melissa.

Cynthia with former co-worker Kelvin and his awesome girlfriend Melissa.

Posing like a champ in the museum.

Posing like a champ in the museum.

On Getting Awesome Candid Wedding Photos from Friends!

Getting all the photos that people took at our wedding has been like pulling teeth; pulling teeth that don’t exist. We had a section in our wedding program asking people not to post any photos to social media sites without our consent. There were various reasons for this, one being that we didn’t want our wedding shared with the whole world until we were ready to share it. We also didn’t want a bunch of horrible pictures being posted, and there are certain people that we don’t want to see the pictures at all. We also, in the same section, asked people to please send us copies of any pictures they had taken, as we planned on compiling a Facebook album of all the shots once we had them.

For the longest time, the only pictures I got from anyone were the ones my mum had taken, and the ones from Shawn’s mom’s camera that were taken by his little cousin. I know tons of people were taking pictures, so this was a little disappointing. Some of the best candid shots can come from guests, so I was hoping for a lot more to be e-mailed to me. A few of Shawn’s cousins put pictures up on Facebook, though. One had no problem taking them down until the professional pictures come back and the other (who was not my favourite person to begin with), put them in a private album for us to view and pretty much refused to send us copies. I still haven’t given her permission to post them publicly, as most of them are of her kid and there are a few I don’t want posted at all. That’s a conversation I get the pleasure of having later.

I finally decided to harass one of my bridesmaids for her pictures. I knew she had a ton of them, and she’s a really good photographer, so I sent her a message. It was part birthday message (I missed calling her on her birthday because I’ve been so sick), part I miss you message (she lives in Tennessee), and part plea for pictures. Lucky me, she started sending them the next day, and now I get to share what she’s sent so far with you guys!

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After the getting ready, but before the dress went on. I was wearing a borrowed sweater, because I forgot to bring something of my own that opened down the front. Genius, I know.

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An alternate angle from what the photographer was getting, but still absolutely gorgeous (if I can say that without sounding full of myself). This was after we were all dressed and ready, but before we left for the venue.

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My lovely ‘maids! I couldn’t have asked for better people to be with me the whole day.

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The three of us (Cynthia, Eve and me). I must say, we co-ordinated with each other rather well.

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Cynthia with Tina, a good friend and our old boss at Eddie Bauer.

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Eve with Tina and Cynthia. Technically, all these lovely ladies are my former bosses. They are also all awesome.

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Cynthia with Richard (another former boss) and his husband Neil (with the mustache).

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Another cake cutting photo. Cutting that work of art really did pain me a little bit.

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Cynthia with my lovely mum!

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Getting our first dance on, to “(If You’re Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To” by Weezer. It is an excellent swing dancing song, and very appropriate for our relationship.

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Eve and her fabulous husband, Aaron.

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Getting our dance on with one of our smaller guests (and my best friend’s little guy).

There will be more to come. Like most brides who are proud of how their weddings went down, I love showing people pictures. We get to view the professional photos for the first time of Tuesday! I can’t wait!

 

Local Jazz! Rowena!

Anyone who is in to the pin-up subculture in Edmonton knows about Rowena. This adorable little shop, right on the Whyte Avenue main drag, has anything that a pin-up girl, or guy, could ever want. From dresses and skirts, to sweaters and shoes, I try not to visit too frequently or all my money would be gone and my closet would be bursting at the seams.

73303_10152497610870651_132369330_n This dress, as well as the fabulous purse, are one of the best things I ever got there. They were perfect for our vintage style engagement shoot, as you can see, and we got several of the elements for our wedding party there. DSC_0178Check out the awesome skeleton part fascinators we picked up for my girls. Cute, no? We also got some cute skull and cross-bone cuff-links for the best man and a great pair of spotted nylons for me. I should also mention that the finger tentacle you may have seen in the photo booth video was also purchased here. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the staff. I’ve never gotten bad service here, no matter the time of day or the traffic level they were experiencing. Bottom line? If you’re in to pin-up and you live in the Edmonton area, check them out. If you want to browse before you go in, check out Retro-Glam, their online store. Happy shopping!