Where shall I start..?
I don't think I've blogged Bug's college interview yet, which was back on TP's birthday at the end of Feb! We weren't quite sure what to expect, but parents were invited to attend, so I did. I asked Bugs if he wanted me to disappear for the actual 'interview' part, but most parents seemed to be sticking around and I was surprised (but pleased) when he said he wanted me to also. I don't think he was lacking confidence, but I think he wasn't really sure what HE needed to know about the course etc..., so I was there to help prompt his questions. I was glad I did stay though because his interviewer was not terribly chatty or forth coming about anything really. He sort of talked Bugs through his tick sheet and made assumptions that Bugs knew about stuff on the course he would have had no way of knowing before! He was not a great conversationalist and seemed to be more interested in making sure his form was filled in than whether Bugs was right for the course. I prompted the fact that Bugs had brought a portfolio (it cost us enough money and time..!) and when he saw it he did seem quite impressed and asked Bugs a few questions about certain images. And that was that really. Lastly, he gave Bugs an assignment to complete within 3 weeks. He had to analyse 5 of another photographer's images, take a series of 15 shots of his own on a theme ("A day in the life...") and post 15 images to Flickr (which he already had so that wasn't an issue). I guess this gives them an idea of where each of the students is starting from and also an idea of how they work. Bugs enjoyed it and has now submitted ~ just in time! I think he's going to be a scrape-the-deadline kind of person all the way through, but I think he'll get used to it. The next we should hear will be an invitation to a summer 'tea party' in June ~ a kind of get to know the tutors kinds of thing I guess. And then there may be another assignment to do over the summer break too. It feels all very 'full steam ahead' and Bugs (and I) are really excited about it all.
The one thing that is still a little niggling worry is that the interviewer had no record of the entrance tests Bug's had done! I think it was really just a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, as he agreed, it would be unlikely that they would have offered Bugs an interview for a course they were not willing to accept him onto. However, the next letter that came in the post was a provisional offer based on grades ~ which of course was a standard letter, but not at all relevant to Bugs. I said to him we'd sit on it and wait to see what comes next before we chase anything else. I personally think he's in :D
The following week, at the beginning of March, Bugs and I took off to Birmingham NEC for the day to attend 'Focus on Imaging'. We had a really fun day together; handling cameras and lenses we can only dream of! Bugs took off a couple times when I was interested in business-y type things (like websites and album prints...) and took a couple of shots of one of the models (braver than me!).
I, on the other hand, quite by chance got to go have an impromtu coffee with Steve Gosling ~ one of the top UK landscape photographers! He was really friendly and down to earth, and even though landscapes are not my forte, he was really encouraging and had some good tips for Bugs (who came and found us), who loves to shoot landscapes.
When we were almost done for the day, and considering heading home, a guy came up to us and asked if we'd like to win a tripod. Even though I'd recently replaced the one Bugs broke with a better one, I knew anything we won here would be WAY better, so of course we said we would (who wouldn't!). We had to hunt for a little bit of 'lost' card called Leonard! We were told there were about 100 people looking for him. We truly did not expect to find him ~ the exhibition was HUGE. BUT... we did find him! Well, I didn't - Bugs did! And it took us all of about 3 mins! Seriously... we stopped to look at a Fuji camera Bugs fancies and then set off to look. We turned a corner - Bugs looked up into the corner of a stand - and there was Leonard! And just like that he won himself neigh on £500 worth of kit (tripod (named 'Eric') & all the accessories for the tripod - which, by the way, is also a monopod, a rock bag & a T-shirt for each of us)!!
So thank-you 3LeggedThing for making my son VERY happy that day, and believe me, he has become best friends with that tripod!
We'd both like to go back next year ~ maybe with some money in our pockets!! ;D
The rest of March has ticked along pretty 'normally' with schooling etc... Nothing miraculous to report! DD completed Reading Eggs and moved into the Comprehension part and I know Stitch is pretty close to completing Reading Eggs too. He's not ready for the Comprehension yet though, so I'm going to have to think on my feet a little :D. I'm hoping our subscription to Sumdog will fill the Reading Eggs gap with computer-based English for a bit and I'll add in a bit of paper English when I feel he's more ready for it.
Somewhere near the beginning of March I also took delivery of our very first set of FIAR books (which I got from Conquest Books - who btw, also now stock All About Spelling - Yeah!!). Those books are GORGEOUS!! The short, fun lessons are right up Stitch's street and he LOVES the books too! DD & Lilo also enjoy it. I had feared it would be too young for them, especially Lilo, but it isn't at all and I am definitely glad I took the plunge. I can't fit it in every day, or even every week, but we've done two books so far and it's been fun for all of us ~ no stress! :D
On the subject of All About Spelling... which I wasn't, but I am now... We are now on Level 3. I can see MASSIVE improvements in Lilo's spelling. She still struggles, but what this is doing is giving her the tools & rules she needs to be able to build words successfully. DD is right up there with her, so his spelling is excellent for a 7yo boy! I think come September I will start again with Stitch, back at Level 1. He's quite capable of doing it, but he needs to be able to attend for a decent amount of time, which is where he has issues atm ~ and not just in school! He has about a 20 second attention span it seems at times!
A week ago last Friday, I took a shopping trip my girls and my M-I-L in Chester we had fun and the pics are blogged HERE. We shopped till we dropped and the girls did fantastically well with their money. If you read their own blogs (links on the right) they made lists of what they bought!!
What else to say..?
Well, I guess the other big news concerns me and my photography...
This last six months I have been taking an online course and that ends in just a few days time :(. It's been great. I've learnt loads and I have the course on-file to keep for reference in the future. The last assignment was to do something out of our ordinary. SO, I reluctantly (I mean kicking and screaming) obeyed and hunted for some inspiration. There are SO many photographers who inspire me, but they mostly shoot outdoors (as I like to) and right now it is simply TOOOO cold to head outside with my crowd. SO I needed some indoor inspiration that was doable in my rather busy house!! I fell upon Sue Bryce and instantly knew I could do something like this with my girls. The upshot of it all was this shoot. When I look at these pictures I struggle with two things... first - believing that those two beautiful young ladies are MY little girls!, secondly - believing that I actually TOOK those shots! It's so confidence boosting to have the knowledge that I really did!
Now, the story doesn't end there! Having seen what I was capable of, coupled with some other spiritual inspiration that weekend (see HERE if you're interested), I felt led to do something new. I still believe what I do for my business is right ~ I am definitely a family lifestyle photographer ~ I shoot on the fly and I love it! But I have wanted for a LONG time to 'give something back'. I've wanted to give the gift of photography just because I can, but not at the expense of my business ~ so how and to whom?
A friend of mine (J) runs a charity. She is a professional beautician & masseur. Her charity gifts 100% free treatments to women refereed to her as needing some TLC!! Many of her clients are cancer suffers, or survivors. Many are struggling with bereavement Many simply are struggling with incredibly low self-esteem, for whatever reasons (she won't always know why). She gives each of them 7 free treatments (of their choosing) and, in that time, aims to build them up and help them feel valuable and valued again. She is amazing at what she does and I love her!
As I was editing my pictures of my girls I was just thinking about, and praying for J (as God prompted me), and then it came to me! I shared my idea with J on the Sunday and we have since shared the idea with J's support prayer- network. They have unanimously said we should go for it!
Currently, when J's clients finish their sessions with her, she gives them a bunch of flowers as a gift. The idea that came to me was that we could offer them a make-over and photo-shoot instead! J would do the make-up and I would take the pictures. Our aim would be to make these ladies feel like a million dollars for the day, and then to give them a portrait of themselves that they could cherish & enjoy. We envisage this being all the more valuable for those that are terminally ill. The image of themselves that they will leave behind for their loved ones to treasure, will be one them looking beautiful!
J and I are SOOOO excited about this. I can't wait to get started! I need to scout out a location and then I am going to start with J herself! We figure I need to put together a little 'flyer' so that the ladies can see what's on offer ~ so I need some models in order to do that. We don't imagine that all the clients will want the photo-shoot, but we hope lots of them will and it will be a whole lot of fun for them.
If you are a Christian, I would ask you to pray for our new venture. Pray that I will find the right venue to do this in (light and décor being the main issues) and then that I'll be able get the images I envisage. Pray that we will be able to bless these women with beautiful pictures to build them up and make them feel incredible. Please also pray for the financial side of this. We are doing this at NO CHARGE. Everything will be a gift ~ the make-up, the time, the disk of images, the print - EVERYTHING! We are stepping out in faith for God to provide for this, and trusting Him to be faithful. We both believe the idea has come from & been guided by Him, so please just pray for J & I going forward ~ that we would keep listening and get it right for J's clients and for God!
And on that note I'll leave you with some Sunday afternoon snapshot cuteness...