Instead of telling you, I can just show you

So here's what I've been up to in the past 10 or so days since you've heard from me... These are the kids from the school pictures shoot I did on Friday (details below); cute as bunnies, every single one of them. It was really, really hard, though - I don't know how the Lifetouch guys do it, or even the Picture People at the mall. You keep 36 kids from going nuts while they're supposed to be standing still and smiling, and I will declare you a miracle worker.

This is from an engagement shoot I did a while back. The happy couple, who were downright adorable in their willingness to play on film, both worked at this bar in Chapel Hill with a balcony dining area. We went up there, and got this incredibly bright idea to climb up on the roof via a rusty, straight-vertical fire escape ladder, and shoot back down at them from up there. Of course I had on sandals, because as you know, there is no point to wearing anything else down here, because it's hot. HOT. So me and my sweaty feet (sweaty from both the HOT and the panic about the ladder) climbed slooooowly up and slooooowly back down. And it was pretty fun, honestly.

This is Charla, immediately after her bridal portrait session last week. Remember how I talked about the HOT? And remember, those of you who have been in this particular getup, how much hotter it is underneath a wedding dress? Then you will understand why my girl ditched the shoes and hit the bench by the Duke Gardens fountain.

Having now conjured the image of your wedding dress in your heads (and if you haven't, bear with me here and imagine eight layers of material, HEAVY material, that you have to burrow through before it can be buttoned up your back) now remember how that burrowing felt, and you will understand Christina's wedding preparation, and how it took long enough for me to get this picture:

Good thing she had some cuteness to follow the wrestling of the dress - here's her ringbearer/new stepson and one of the ushers, who was almost unbearably adorable. I'm fairly sure she said he was gay, though, so my lust only went as far as "ooo, someone to hang out with while he tells me I have good hair."

So then I stopped with the weddings and the brides and whatnot, and I moved over to the dark side of school photography. These are my favorite two - Jay:

And Audrey:

They were awesome kids, but neither they nor the wedding nor the bridals nor the engagements nor ANY OF NORAH'S ADORABLE BABYISMS could make up for this:

Glasses! Damn it!

You see, friends, I used to be an irresponsible contact lens wearer. I slept in 'em, wore 'em way longer than the requisite two weeks, and pretty much assed around. In retrospect, WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING? At my annual "oh man, I'm still blind!" visit to the optometrist last week, I learned that I have neovascularization (and oh my God do not look at this GIS), which is basically what happens when you leave your old, disgusting contacts in your eyes for too long, and tiny blood vessels begin to form on your cornea, a la poison ivy vining across the windows of an abandoned house.

But I have learned my lesson, oh yes, because now I'm not allowed to wear contacts for weeks, if ever again. My reaction to the high-oxygen kind was not good (children with pinkeye were laughing at me) so assuming I want to save whatever vision I have left (not much) I'm stuck in specs. Let my lesson be your lesson: take them out! Let the blessed air caress your eyeballs like a lover! SAVE THE CORNEA, SAVE THE WORLD!

Files from the phone: la fashionista

Camera phone! New hotness! (Except I guess it's not all THAT hot, but I just figured out how to get the pictures off of it, and HEY LOOK I did it!) I don't think I could have gotten any more exclamation points into this paragraph without! doing! this! Please pardon my enthusiasm, but I'm feeling bad-ass, and you know how I get when I feel bad-ass.

Yes, this is Norah in my sunglasses, and yes, she is wearing my mom's dog's collar. I'm sure I'm not supposed to let her wear dog collars, and I'm sure she would have choked within five seconds had we not rescued her from it. But it had a safety release buckle in case Gracie tries to hang herself or something, so whatever - the Nonos was fine. And as sick as this is, she LOVED IT. She has some plastic Mardi Gras beads that she wears nonchalantly around the house, her expression clearly saying, "Yes, I look pretty, but I make the beads. The beads do not make me." But the dog collar sent her into fits of giggles, and she kept streaking the house in her jammies shouting, "I'M GRACIE! I GO WOOF! OOF! OOF! I EAT POOOOOD!' (I'm fairly sure that POOOOOD is just her version of FOOOOOD. Sure it is. Right.)

Anyway. I have a wedding tomorrow and bridals and a consultation on Sunday, and preschool class pictures next week, and the photography gods are either smiling on me or puking on me, depending on how many hours I've been sitting in front of the 'puter. Tomorrow's wedding is a sub-contract job for another formerly local photographer, Kate, whose husband uprooted the family and moved them all to Nawlins. Granted, the uprootery was justified because his new job? SO AWESOME, but the best part is that the weddings Kate had booked here have been transferred to me. All's I have to do is show up, shoot, and mail CDs to her, and a happy little check comes prancing back to me. I wish them all the best in their new home state, but oh boy am I glad they're gone.

So I'm tired, and the house needs to be cleaned in preparation for my friend Victoria, who's staying with the Nonos while Rob's at work, and the laundry pile is consuming most of my bedroom like a hungry hungry hippo after a marble. And yet here I am, blogging. I'm attached to you, internet friends, and so I will LET you distract me from my VERY important housework. Feel blessed.

Chipmunkface and Birdlegs Boy!

As promised, here we are on Biltmore Segways - and apparently, my hair is so frightened by the ride that it's hidden entirely under my helmet. That was probably wise, in retrospect, although I will say that I got much better at driving by the end of the tour. Did try to kill several people first, though. Priorities.

Update: there has been some concern about where Nonos was during this episode. I guess you can't see her in that little backpack we strapped her into, huh? Gosh, that thing was tiny! No, I'm kidding. My parents were also in Asheville, and took her on the gardens tour while we were toodling around trying to stay upright. Norah got to smell flowers, squeeze a snapdragon so its "face" opened up, and generally make my mom giddy with grandparently glee. DO YOU FEEL BETTER NOW, NOSYPANTS? You know who you are. And you know I love you for loving my kid.

Feeling a bit like a tour bus, except with a better back end

Hi! We're back! I guess I neglected to mention that we were leaving town this week, a fact that was pointed out by someone who just assumed I was being a bitch and not answering my email. Truth is, we were partying around Asheville, where my dad was working on a family friend's house. Work on the house = staying in the house = free vacation! Wooo! This picture is from the front porch, where we spent many valuable hours staring at the trees and wondering if/when we should get up and do something. Two guesses what we decided on THAT question.

So we were out. But before we left, we had many things to do, including spending last Sunday touring our state's capital - we decided that since we're all hardcore North Carolina love these days, we should know something about the place. Like who the governor is, or perhaps what the capital might be. Now we know! Thanks, Raleigh!

So, for your viewing pleasure, have some pictures, just to prove that I'm not making all this up from the safety of my desk. Here are Rob and Norah on their way to the courthouse:

And here is Norah, embracing her genetic predisposition to badness by (gasp!) walking on the grass of the courthouse lawn. Grass that, might I add, was as thick as a mattress, probably because other people are considerate and immediately chase their kids off of it instead of laughing at the picture of said kid wrestling the "Keep Off" sign to the ground:

There were several statues of prominent North Carolinians floating around the grounds there, and we tried to get Norah interested in who they were and what they did. However, she was more interested in screaming and running away, because they were eight feet tall and had very serious, somewhat menacing expressions, a requisite for getting your own statue, I guess. She did like the cannons, though, and insisted on looking into every single one. I have to hand it to Raleigh - those cannons were clean. Well done, cannon sanitation department.

After dragging the kid around the courthouse - I mean, exposing Norah to our state's history - we went to Exploris, a kids' museum in the area. While some of the exhibits were maybe a little too old (the stock market exhibit didn't really get her going, but the little fake supermarket - ohh, plastic asparagus! how Nonos loves you!) we both enjoyed the eyeball window:

And Norah liked monkeying around with the joystick at the "Where We Get Our Water" exhibit, although she was somewhat concerned when she monkeyed it too much and it made a very angry noise:

And on the way back to the car, we encountered yet another learning opportunity:

The NC Cannabis Association was having their "legalize marijuana" rally, and while I say rock on to them for expressing their viewpoint and organizing the gathering instead of sitting on their couches eating entire bags of Cool Ranch Doritoes and waxing poetic about a crack in the wall, which is what I would be doing were I a member of their society, I am SO glad that Norah can't read. So, so so glad. I can barely handle it when she gets a splinter; I am not prepared to explain drugs and their illegality/desirability. I'm already scripting that conversation in my head for when she's 30 and needs to know.

What I don't yet have pictures of: Rob and me, touring the Biltmore Estate on Segways. OH MY GOODNESS, you must do this sometime, whether at the Biltmore or elsewhere. My parents bought the tickets for Rob for his birthday next month, and let me tell you, it's the best Rob Birthday Present I ever got. The tour guide took our picture several times, including once when I lost control and tried to kill several other members of our group, and promised to email them to me, so hang in there... the funny is on its way.

Madness takes its toll (please have exact change)

I saw that on a bumper sticker today and it made me snort some diet coke - but it was nowhere near as awesome as the fact that MEAT LOAF is on Dancing with the Stars. Oh sweet Jesus.

So how cute are these guys, huh? They're from my Sunday engagement session at Pullen Park (which, to my local friends with kids, I highly recommend on any day but Sunday, especially a sunny and fabulous Sunday, because if you go on that day you will be eaten by other people's children. Thousands of them.) Sunday's session was just one of a series of appointments over the last week or so - it's crazy, yes, but it's a good crazy.

Rob, you will be pleased to know, made it to the charity auction with several cans of corn, green beans, and Bush's vegetarian baked beans (because I refuse to buy the kind with bacon. Canned bacon, that's just wrong.)

Today's ridiculous conversation with four-year-olds is brought to you by the letter EWWW:

Kid: Annie, are you eating that watermelon?
Me: Um, yes. Is that bad?
Kid: No. Well, not all the way bad.
Me: Why is it some bad [because that makes complete sense!]?
Kid: Because it is mine.
Me: Is your name on it?
Kid: Noo...
Me: Then... why is it just for you?
Kid: Because when I licked out all the seeds, Mommy said that it was ALLLLL MIIIIINE.

Oh God. I love children.