TBT: Happy Birthday, Jinger

Today’s #TBT picture is in honor of my youngest sister Jinger.

It’s funny that I can’t remember where I put my keys yesterday, or the password I just reset this morning, but I vividly remember the morning in 1986 when our babysitter Joanne woke my sister Jill and me up to tell us our parents left for the hospital, and then later that afternoon when my sweet Aunt Eileen came to pick us up from preschool, yelling down the hall “You are a big sister again! She’s here!”

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Dad Life

Walked in this morning to find Martin and the boy watching music videos and sharing goldfish crackers.

Dad life.

Also, spent the whole day working from home, looking at each other, and it just now dawned on me we’re matching. Ha!

Birthday and a Broken Down

1:22 p.m. – Waiting for hamburgers after playing in a giant inflatable water slide! #summertime

1:45 p.m. – Water fun!

3:15 p.m. – There was some confusion how the birthday boy should eat his cake.#gobigorgohome

4 p.m. – Birthday boy opening gifts with his brother and mom.

6:30 p.m. – Sign of a great time = children who absolutely did not want to leave.

6:45 p.m. – Both kids are already asleep!!

7:15 p.m. – If your minivan is broken down and you gotta wait for a tow truck, wait next to some train tracks so you can be THISCLOSE when the trains go by!!!

7:46 p.m. – I don’t know which of my men is loving this more: my son who is watching or my husband who gets to drive the van onto that truck!!!

8:43 p.m. – I’m currently in the middle seat in the back of a giant tow truck with these two who think this is the BEST NIGHT EVER!!!! (And they are right.)

10:33 p.m. – We are home! While needing a tow truck wasn’t our number one pick for how to spend a Sunday evening, we really did have a great time! Two things that made me laugh …

  1. Lola as we climb into the tow truck cab, sniffing the diesel and oil: “Ohhhh, it smells so nice in here!”
  2. Mr Tow Truck Driver (who looked to be in his mid-20s) as we pull away from the gas station: “You guys messed up.”
    Martin: “Oh, really? How?”
    Mr TTG: “You didn’t get the apple cinnamon donuts [sold at the gas station]. I get one every time I take a call there. I got two, actually, so I have one in the morning. My wife is going to be so jealous.”
    Julie: “Ha! How long have you been married?”
    Mr TTD: “Three weeks.”
    Julie (as Martin starts laughing): “Oh, yeah. YOU won’t be eating one in the morning. You’ll learn.”

10:45 Meant to post this earlier! Proof Martin is home and proof that my son looooooves cake!

Capturing Your Own Future American President

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Photographer Matthew Jordan Smith showing us a preview of his work during our photo shoot with him in Washington DC in August 2013. Photo used with permission.

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]F[/dropcap]or the last two years, photographer Matthew Jordan Smith traveled to every state in America to photograph children from 100 families to create his book, Future American President: 50 States – 100 Families – Infinite Dreams.

The book is a visual story of the dreams of children across the United States, and a reminder that anyone can aspire to and ultimately achieve greatness. By featuring children from diverse backgrounds and every state, the hope is that children will see themselves in the hopes of their peers while informing them about individual state facts and past American Presidents.

Martin, the kids, and I are so honored to be a part of the book. While the Boys and Girls Club of America helped Matthew find a lot of his families, Matthew actually found us through this blog in the course of his research (when Parents Magazine readers named us “Best All-Around Mom Blog“, and of course, we agreed to participate. The book’s theme and intent are right in the step with the things Martin and I believe for our own kids.

And also? I couldn’t help, but be amazed by Matthew’s body of work and experience. Not only has he been featured on America’s Next Top Model, the View, and other television shows, he regularly photographs the likes of Oprah, Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry, Taye Diggs, Vanessa Williams, and countless images you’ve certainly seen in magazines, billboards, and publications. He’s also been recognized for using and sharing his talents to raise awareness for various social issues, such as his first book entitled Lost and Found, which focused on missing and exploited children and was endorsed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Was I initially nervous and slightly intimidated by his biography and the fact that he regularly works with the world’s most gorgeous and famous individuals?


But as soon as we connected, I was  immediately disarmed and won over by his gentle nature and down-to-earth personality. Once we worked out all the details, he flew here to Washington D.C. to photograph us in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and beautiful Tidal Basin. Not only was it thrilling to be the subject of a legit photo shoot in such an iconic setting, but the children really enjoyed watching Matthew and his assistant as they worked. And as a father himself, he knew just what to say to engage the children, and took the time to patiently explain his cameras, how the lights worked, and even handed over his camera for Lola to use as she snapped some images herself. (I don’t think I took a single breath during those moments!)

We’ve seen some of the outtakes from that session, and we can’t wait to see the completed book when it publishes later this year, especially since Matthew is inviting others — including YOU — to put their own future President on the book cover itself.

It’s a limited-time opportunity that’s available now for those who would like to personalize their book.

He put together a short video explaining how to photograph your own Future American President and submit it to the publishers, which you can see below. You can also read about the submission process HERE.

Oh, and did I mention you can actually talk with Matthew and me about the book, the personalized cover, AND ask Matthew anything you want to know about photography and working in Hollywood?

Oh, yes.

That is happening.

On Monday, July 28, Matthew and I are going to hold a Twitter chat.

Beginning at 5:30 pm East Coast Time/2:30 pm Pacific Coast Time, we’re going to take to our Twitter handles and have a conversation using the hashtag #FPChat2014.

If you are on Twitter, you can follow me HERE. You can follow Matthew HERE.

Once you are logged into Twitter using your own Twitter name, you can tweet at us with any comments or questions you have. Be sure to use the hashtag #FPChat2014 so we can see what you have to say and include you in our responses!

We hope you join us!

TBT: I’m Not Saying

Now, I’m not saying that I was raised and conditioned to fall in love with a German and the land of my ancestors, but I *am* pointing out that when a child’s favorite night-shirt shows support for a Bavarian drinking team instead of, say, some cartoon character, OBVIOUSLY there were bigger forces at play. Today’s #TBT photo is from 1988.


Nutella Coma

This is how I found her just now. Must have been quite a day at pre-school!

Nutella Coma is real, people.

You can’t see in the photo, but there’s a spoon tucked under her arm. Found it when I lifted her up to take her to bed. I’m doing some personal reflection re: the example I set for my children.


Reporting to Work

I messed with my coworkers again this morning by showing up earlier than I normally do. I normally work later hours, so there’s always a glance at the clock, and a check of the watches in case their time is wrong. Ha!

Laundry, Yoga, and Other Things

As Jaz and I were waiting for Martin to join us for a web chat, Jaz was using my back as a speedway for his toy cars. The sacrifices I make for these kids…


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]A[/dropcap]s I mentioned in my last post, Martin is away from home again, fulfilling his annual two-week Air Force Reserve obligation (called “annual tour”) at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.

Once again, it’s just the kids and me at home, but this time feels a little different than the previous times Martin’s been away from home. Maybe it’s because we just did this less than two months ago, maybe it’s because it’s only for a short period of time, or maybe it’s because we knew about this one for a long time and everything fell in place according to plan, but in any case, life at home has been pretty breezy, if not the usual controlled chaos.

Martin and the kids on the morning he left.

And for proof that things are, indeed, going swimmingly, I was able to leave the house without the children on Friday night. Ashley came over the hang out with the kids while I ran off to play bunco with my friend Yvonne. I’ve never played the game before, but it wasn’t hard to pick up, and I got to meet several new ladies who all lived in Germany at one time or another, or who had a connection to the military or government work. I had a blast.

Other things the kids and I have done while Martin is gone include:

  • Going to the Native American museum in downtown DC.
  • Taking up yoga. For real. Every day. Our smart TV offers an easy yoga app and the kids love doing it with me.
  • Sorting and purging all our clothes, books, and toys.
  • Got caught up on laundry. Yes. You read that correctly.

As for Martin, he’s doing well down there in Little Rock. He was immediately put on “swing shift” which means he starts working in the middle of the day and doesn’t get off of work until late at night, which makes it a little complicated trying to catch him for a web chat or quick phone call, especially since he’s an hour behind us.

He and the group of Airmen he’s traveled with all went on a road trip to Graceland in nearby Memphis, Tennessee. He was especially pleased when he learned that I’ve never been there myself.

He also had lunch with Livvi, who is the youngest sister of my high school best friend, Jessica, back in Northern Kentucky. The last time I saw Livvi was right after my high school graduation, and she was Lola’s age and still in elementary school. Now? She’s grown up, married, and also serving in the Air Force as a loadmaster stationed at Little Rock. The world is really that small, and I love that we can really go just about anywhere and bump into people we know.

The family that stretches together…

Anyway, he is scheduled to be back next week, and it’s a good thing. From where I sit right now, August is already looking to be a very busy month for us. The girls will be heading off to spend time with family for a few weeks. We will celebrate two birthdays.

And we’ve also heard that the Princesses have returned to a certain wonderland, so we just may have to pay them a visit sooner than later, too.