she should really get her own bubba.

I think we all know who Lucy was very thankful for on Thanksgiving.

Her and I may (may) have gotten is a slight disagreement about who actually owns Bubba.
Lucy: My Bubba.
ME: Actually, my marriage license would beg to differ. He's my Bubba.
Lucy: No. My Bubba.
ME: I'm pretty sure I just laid out a very convincing and solid argument that would be upheld in a court of law.
Lucy: No. He's Mu'Bubba.
(When she drops the -y in "my", it's basically like she's throwing down the gauntlet/walking away from the conversation. She's said what she needs to say.)

Fine. We'll just agree to both own Bubba and both be thankful to have him.

shelley hosted thanksgiving.

I can say without reservation, hesitation, or any other -tion word that I am far more traditional than my sister. I think we can all agree with that.

Actually, my friend Karen once suggested Shelley write a parenting book about all her very UN-traditional ways of raising Lucy. No one has ever suggested I write anything like that, anything "unconventional or nontraditional". Instead, I get questions about etiquette and manners because I'm boring and safe and trust me, Shelley is not.

Shelley has, without a doubt, been my favorite person since March 29, 1986. And I think, without a doubt, that March 29th is about the last time we did something the same. Or in the same traditional manner.

We both came from Fe.

That's about the last time our lives moved in any sort of similar fashion.

This year, Shelley announced that she and Lucy would be hosting Thanksgiving Dinner. I figured having a turkey was as close to tradition as we'd come with this meal. And, God love her, I was right.

I don't think you can expect green bean casserole from someone who serves Asian Food at their daughter's first birthday party. Or crescent rolls from someone who put a yoda hat on Lucy and sends her off to her first Santa picture.

A traditional dinner was not going to happen.
A Shelley-Giving would, instead.

Shelley did decide to prepare a turkey. With a plum glaze.
For sides, we would have roasted fall vegetables, carrots and shallots cooked in pancetta, sweet potatoes cooked with banana and brown sugar, an arugula salad with roasted grapes and shallot vinaigrette, and stuffing (spinach, cashews, currants, and bacon).

With Shelley, apparently when tradition goes out the window apparently ambition fills the void.

This menu was crazy ambitious. Have a look at it again. I'd say a 5 star difficulty level with a 22 month old running in the wake. I would maybe (maybe) try one of those recipes but only on a Sunday. These are not "after work" appropriate. And all of them crammed together in one meal and one kitchen. My sister. She's nothing if not adventurous. And seriously in love with the Epicurious app on her iPhone.

I convinced Shelley to come to our place the day before to "prep" her meal. This was the real Thanksgiving Day, but Lucy was at her Dad's (and who wants to eat without angel face running around?) so Shelley came to our place for some company while she prepped. (We had our Thanksgiving on Friday when Lu was back.)

Shelley ended up needing a lot of company.
Shelley prepped her meal for a solid 5 hours. I've never done anything for 5 hours straight. Bad attention span.

I died while she destroyed my kitchen.
Not because she destroyed it, more it was the amount of food she was making and the effort involved.

I told her this is why I cook with cans.
She went back to chopping her parsnip.

Maybe that's why most everyone has green bean casserole.
Or rolls. Or cranberry sauce and yams with the little marshmallows on top.
They're easy.
Then again, anything is easier that roasting beets for an hour in olive oil and parsley.

Friday (our Thanksgiving) Shelley would need to cook it all. 5 hours of prep needed to come together in a kitchen where Lucy is King.

Shelley called in reinforcements.
Me as sous-chef.
Chuck as child wrangler.

Chuck and Lucy accidentally wore matching outfits during the day.

It didn't seem to bother them.

Shelley cooked.
And she cooked.
And she cooked.

And another 5 hours later, the most beautiful, perfect plum-glazed turkey I've ever seen came out of her oven.

That is also what I said when Lucy was born.
Except minus the plum-glazed part.

So with all the nontraditional Shelley moments we've all watched, why did it catch us off guard when Lucy came out in her Thanksgiving outfit??

I guess what's terrifying is that Shelley claims (there is no proof) that she wanted Lucy to wear the traditional girly holiday dress but Lucy wouldn't have any of it. "No MA! Pants!" Lucy picked out the outfit.

Then added her Ruby Reds to it because it hadn't gone far enough.
Like Mother, like Daughter, isn't that what they say?

After 10 hours of cooking her very nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner, Shelley was ready for us to eat. Her table isn't big enough for all that food and the counters were covered. We'd given up on "clean cooking" during hour 3 of the second day.

I would have been mortified.
Shelley was almost, no, she was extremely happy to serve her dinner from the floor.

And it would have seemed so weird to do this at my house.
At Shelley's, it kind of felt right.

And in the end, her nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner was one of the best I've ever had. I can't believe she pulled it off. I can't believe we ate on time. And I still can't believe Lucy wore a tux.

But then again, it is my sister.

let's just say "happy thanksgiving"

and I'll explain this in the morning.

Until then, enjoy.
Soak it all up.
And get your questions ready.
(I'm gonna assume you'll have a few.)

this is what he thinks is funny.

I heard him open the fridge.
It's 9:37 p.m. so I didn't even turn around to see what he was doing. I knew. It's the same thing he's done every night for the (roughly) 3,285 nights that I've known him. It's evening cereal time.

I knew what I had to say was not going to go over well.
"There isn't enough milk for cereal tonight and tomorrow morning. It's going to have to be one or the other."

If Ugg slippers can make screeching tire sounds on hardwood floors than that's exactly what I heard coming from the kitchen, followed, naturally, by the tantrum of a 28 year old man who may (may) be a bit obsessive about his cereal and, more, his ritual of eating cereal twice a day - morning and night.

I actually didn't turn around to see what he'd decided to do. I knew he wouldn't have his bowl tonight (in the Chuck Cereal Eating hierarchy, morning cereal is basically the CEO and night time cereal is a temp), but I didn't look to see what he would eat instead.

In 3,285 days, you would think I'd have enough previous experience in "Chuck" to know that he'd find something to eat. No matter what it was or how creative he'd need to be to eat, he'd come up with something.

But I didn't see it.

Even though Chuck can be a tad obsessive.
A bit RTC (resistant to change) and stuck in certain "traditions".
He's almost more routine in his random acts.

These are Chuck's Peanut Butter and Jelly sliders.

PB&J sliders.
This is what replaced Chuck's cereal tonight.

Sliders. He made sliders.

what i've been doing lately

Right before Lucy was born, I had this epiphany or dream or something. You get it.

I would photograph and document her life in the best way possible. She would have amazing childhood pictures to look back on. She would look like those happy, smiley babies in the fancy photos that we all drool over (I mostly drool here and here because these girls are fabulous and the stuff photographic dreams are made of).

But it definitely meant breaking up with the Canon Powershot that I stole from Fe in 2006. I would need one of those fancy-ish cameras that every Mom has (ok, so I'm not a Mom, but it's my sister's baby, defacto, wherein, there to, My Baby).

I had literally no idea what I was doing with that big thing.
I thought, permaps, that great pictures just came with the camera.
Buy the camera. Have great pictures. Done and done. Sign me up.

It didn't actually work that way.

Exhibit A
Lucy at 2 months.
I had no idea you could change the white balance on your camera (that's why it's yellow). I had no idea what an ISO was or that you could adjust it (that's why the picture is grainy). I had no idea that shutter speeds and f-stops were real things and not mythical creatures like the tooth fairy and good hair days when you need them.

I was devastated.

So I did something I rarely do.
I read instruction manuals. I scoured the Internet for information. And I listened to anyone that knew anything. Chuck's friend Paul showed me how to fix the white balance. Dania's friend Kris taught me about ISO. And the Pioneer Woman (God bless her) explained f-stops in Susie Friendly language (mostly with short, single syllablewords).

I think at this stage I know 5% of everything there is to know about cameras and pictures. But, hey, that's a 5 percentage point increase since January 2009 so WIN.

Lately, pictures are all I'm doing.
Since mid-October I've had 2 to 4 shoots a weekend and that is bananas to me.

That's what I've been doing lately. Pictures, pictures, pictures.
It's crazy when people ask me to shoot them. I blush, and coo, and still don't know what to think about that. And I still get nervous before each shoot because six months ago this was definitely a hobby and 18 months ago, I took pictures like this:


I'm trying to find my "voice" in my pictures.
I'm also trying to decide how far I'm going to let this go.

But for now, it's a heckuva ride and it's been amazing spending time with friends I'd lost touch with, ones I'm just falling in love with, and people I've just met for the first time. I've been blessed to be asked to capture happy moments in time and I'm thankful for the little journey I'm on right now.

This past week was especially bananas. I did one engagement session, three family sessions, and a quick Christmas card shoot with Dania because I love her and I can't say no to that face.

{Andrea and Canyon}
Alki and West Seattle High School
July 30, 2010

{The M Family}
Gas Works Park

{The L Family}
Point Defiance Park

(The K Family}
Point Defiance Park

{The C Family}
also known as Dania, Jeff, and Paisley
Central Washington University

Thanks for all your support, friends.
For inviting me to photograph your lives, for sharing my name. I'm still amazed.

it's finally over.

No, not our marriage. Tempting, but no.

No one's lucky enough to be done with us (yet). Chuck and Susie or "Suckie" (as our friends have called us since Bennifer made couples adhere to the one-name policy) will probably be around at least through 2010. Rough estimate. Don't hold me to it.

What's over, finally, is Chuck's career as an airline pilot.

One more finally and then I'll move on.

I have not been this happy since, well, since Chuck got hired as an airline pilot. Funny little paradox isn't it?

You knew Chuck was an airline pilot, right? Well, was an airline pilot.

See, once upon a time Chuck decided he was going to be an airline pilot. This was sometime between the ages of 1 and 2, and he never relented. He went to college to become a pilot -- they have an aviation program at the school we went to. In between English 101 and Geology 144, Chuck and his aviation friends were doing solo flights, simulator training, and check rides.

We thought this was very cool.
I mean, wouldn't you?
Ok, picture this: You're 18. You just left home. You live in the dorms. The guy across the hall just learned to fly an airplane by himself. I think this is, and remains, the only time I've ever thought Chuck was cool. In fact, I blame the acquisition of his Private Pilot License freshman year of college for our entire relationship. When you're 18, driving fast is cool. Driving an airplane is literally off the charts.

Here's a funny story, if you can spare a quick divergence:
When Chuck got his pilot license, Me and the other dorm kids pitched in some money to rent a plane for a few hours and head into the sky with Chuck. We did a bunch of stalls, Lee threw up, it was awesome. WE WERE 19. What the heck were we thinking? I wouldn't do that now. 19? Saddle up.

Bottom line. We loved flying. We loved it. Chuck worked all through college to become the best pilot he could, and he really is amazing at it.

After Chuck graduated, he worked as a flight instructor. You do this to build "time". Aviation is all about how much time you have. How many hours you've flown and how many engines are on the plane you were flying. It's all very confusing. I'm sparing you so many details, you should thank me.

Chuck built his time.
He built his resume.
And one day, the happiest day, he got hired. At a real airline. We were so happy. His family, my family, we were busting. I told people "My husband is an airline pilot" with the type of reverence you use when talking about angels.

It was like getting called up to the Big Leagues.

And then finding out that working in the Big Leagues meant making less than a first year school teacher or a grocery truck delivery driver. Oh and he worked for one of the better paying airlines. We have lots of friends making $15,000 a year flying you from point A to point B. Consider that next time you fly.

For Chuck, it also meant you worked about 5 days a week. But not weekdays and not always consistently. Some weeks, you have Tuesday and Wednesday off. Some weeks, it's Thursday-Friday. Which is great because so many other people have those days off too... Oh and remember that the days you're working, you don't come home those days. You leave day 1. You come back day 5.

And the days you're working. Well, you're probably not. You're on what's called "reserve" for years. Years. Reserve means sitting in the airport for 8 hours hoping to be called to fly. You get paid for 4 of those hours. Consider that lifestyle for a little bit. Sitting by yourself, in an airport, for 8 hours, everyday.

Then some days, you do fly. You take off, which is fun. You land, which is fun. In the middle, autopilot is on so it's like cruise control driving through Montana. What are you doing with yourself? And you do that over and over until you land in another city and you stay alone in a hotel. You have dinner alone. You wander the city alone. You watch TV alone.

And while Chuck was doing that and having "fun", everything else was happening without him. Every holiday, every birthday, every time I was sick and needed someone home, every time our friends were in town. We called 2007 and 2008 the years Chuck missed. Because he missed everything.

I was miserable. I was living, essentially, alone in an apartment missing him. I may (MAY) have gone a little crazy from the lonely and started sleeping with lights and radios on, with boxes barricading our front door, and -- you'll enjoy this one -- the remote in my hand to use as a weapon , just in case. We started spelling crazy S-U-S-I-E.

Chuck had, what we in teaching, call an "a-ha" moment.
He was alone in a hotel eating Taco Bell over the sink. Taco Bell had forgotten his spork so he was eating a enchorito, covered in sauce, with his fingers. He looked at himself, wearing a stripped down version of his pilot uniform, covered in fast food sauce, and had that "what am I doing with my life?" moment.

Neither of us wanted to be the one to say it.
Flying was his dream. I wasn't going to be the wife that forces him out and he didn't want to admit that it wasn't what he thought it was going to be.

There are people everywhere that talk non-stop about how you can't leave aviation right away. You need to stick it out, it'll get better. Your schedule will get better. Your pay will get better, But really, so many of those people that we met were still hoping for it to get better 8, 10 years down the road. And better is still working weekends. Better still means living out of a suitcase. Better still means doing most everything alone. And Chuck noticed that most of the guys who encouraged the "it gets better" mantra were on wives 2 or 3. We didn't want to get AIDS (Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome). We kind of like each other and we kind of like seeing each other on a daily sort of basis.

Right about the time Chuck and I were starting to think maybe the Pilot Life wasn't for us (and it is for some, just not us), the economy crashed. I know this sounds awful, but it was perfect timing for us. The Airlines announced there'd be lay-offs and fingers crossed, Chuck would be one. (Who prays for their husband's termination?? This girl.)

Chuck started looking for a new job before he was ever laid off (because he's smart like that) and six months later he found one. And it's even aviation related so his degree wasn't for not. He took a leave of absence from the airline and was officially furloughed January 2009, two months after he took his new job.

Technically, the entire time I've known you, Chuck has been an airline pilot. He's been technically employed with the Airline, just not working because of the layoffs. Technically, they could "call him back" and he'd have every opportunity and right to go back.

And most everyone in the aviation world assumed he would.
Because, why wouldn't he?
Why wouldn't he want to be an Airline pilot?

Well, the letter to go back has arrived.

And he turned the Airline down today.
He officially resigned.

Not that I'm shocked or surprised or anything like that, it's just that it means (officially) that it's finally over. The age of Chuck the Airline Pilot is behind us. It's like the elephant finally walking out of the room.

It's over.

Chuck's not a furloughed airline pilot working somewhere else.
He's just an employee at a great company that gives him weekends off and holidays off and lets him come home for dinner each night. No seniority needed.

And that is what we call years of bottled up emotion dumped out on a blog.
I feel so much better.

photoshoot: mom, kids, and baby number 3.

I'm starting to branch out with this whole photography thing. I have no idea how this happened, but it did. I blame my family, they gave me the camera. I blame my friends, they started sharing my name.

Kayleen is definitely the first "stranger" photoshoot I've ever done. I'd never met her more than a few emails about pictures, and she was full of ideas. She wanted train tracks. She wanted brick walls. She needed some Christmas card pictures, some photos to send to Mr. Kayleen (he's been deployed and needs updated photos), and some pregnancy shots to document baby number three.

And now that I've done of few of these photo things I know enough to say that I'll take a Kayleen any day. She knows what she wants, she knows what she likes, and I like that in a girl. Plus I thought her outfits were fabulous and wonder if they come in non-pregnancy sizes.

It was a tall order, but it was a beautiful day.
Beautiful kids, beautiful Mom, simply perfect.

And then some maternity pics.
Baby Kane will join the family at Christmastime. What a lucky little boy!

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