Monday, June 27, 2011

Currently... of two cute little boys; determined not to fall behind
eating...crab salad sandwiches on whole wheat toast new hair cut and colour (but still getting used to it)
thinking...about the house
dreaming...about decorating the house
wishing...that someone could style my hair, paint my nails and do my make-up everyday
listening to...a random 'indie mix' I made on Grooveshark (Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, Death Cab, etc)
drinking...water, and can't get enough
remembering...what it's like to have pulled groin muscles while pregnant (I forgot all about it!)
wanting...some fun alone time/date night with Dan leggings and a shirt/dress type thing (running out of wardrobe options)
thankful parents, our real estate agent and our mortgage broker, who are all making this home-owning thing become a reality for us
struggling with...choosing a name for this baby
marveling at...Victor and his ever growing abilities and comprehension
frustrated with...Victor and his ever growing tantrums/picky eating
knowing...I should paint the nails on my other hand
giddy fancy new 27" computer monitor (it's like a little TV!)
debating...whether to skip work this afternoon and head out into the sun
deciding...yes, I think I will

Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Quick House Update

So if you're following me on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen me mention a few things about a house...if you don't, I thought I'd quickly update you on what's going on. It's been exciting and stressful at the same time!

About a month ago we went to the bank to see if we could get a mortgage on our own, with help from my parents, since we had settled on a house (the one above, mentioned in this post here). At first it looked pretty promising, but we then found out that we couldn't get enough because my income couldn't be counted and our debt to income ratios didn't work out. So we were pretty bummed for awhile, and even debated buying a mini-home instead, but then decided to try with a mortgage broker, just to see if our odds were better that way. Well it went really well with the broker, and with a few minor adjustments (Dan is applying alone, so technically I'm not on the mortgage), we were able to get pre-approved for the house we wanted, yay!

So a couple of days ago we put in an offer and yesterday we settled on a price (with some perks, like them leaving behind all the appliances, including a deep freeze and dishwasher, woohoo!). We signed the papers, and now we're in the process of waiting for the lenders to actually approve us for the sale price (and maybe a bit more for some repairs). Once that's done we need to get the house inspected (a very important step since we need to know if there are any major issues in this old house besides the ones we already know about), do the water test, line up some insurance, and if everything is ok, then we can close!

We have until July 8th to meet all the conditions (what I just said above); that kind of stresses me out since I'll be the one doing most of the arranging and logistical stuff, but our real estate agent is really good so he'll be helping me out every step of the way. The closing date isn't until August 22nd, but I wish it could be sooner, I don't know if I can wait that long! haha.

So that's about it...still quite a few steps to go before we can actually say that the house is ours, but we're well on our way, and I can't believe that we might actually be homeowners before the age of 30!

I'll be sure to update again with the results (after this crazy 2 weeks is up most likely). If you could, cross your fingers and send good house vibes our way, we could use them!

Be back soon with some photos of my new hair (see, all kinds of stuff going on around here! haha)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts on this whole photography thing [LONG]

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time now, but I haven't had the time and brain function to articulate what I want to say (not quite sure I do at the moment either, but I thought I would try, on this rainy, rainy June day). I'm hoping to be completely honest about the whole thing, but I may gloss over some details or whatever for my own well-being (and perhaps to spare some feelings)...we'll see. I'm typing without a plan, basically.

First, a bit of background for those who may not know: Last year while I was on Mat Leave I bought a new camera and started taking photos of my friend's kids. I posted them on my personal Facebook, and for some reason (probably semi-purposefully, looking back on it), I included a watermark that said "Genevieve Flynn Photography". Long before I was on Mat Leave I had this vague dream that someday, maybe, I would get to do photography as a career (because I loved it so much). so that's probably the reason I took the 'leap' and included my name on those photos. Well it seemed to have worked, because I started getting requests from more friends and family, and friends of friends, and eventually strangers, to take photos of them and their kids. I was delighted, and jumped into the 'portfolio' building portion of my job (meaning I was charging near nothing and working my butt off). Luckily I was able to do it because Victor was still small and Dan was home for a lot of it. I shot about 30-35 sessions in 2010 and was extremely encouraged.

Around the Fall I started to seriously think about what I would do once my Maternity Leave ended at the end of February. Of course the idea of staying home and doing photography was at the top of my list, so I started researching ways I could do it. My father in law recommended a federal government initiative called the Self Employment Benefit Program (SEB). Basically it was a program designed to help you get through your first year of owning your own business by providing EI payments while you worked. The payments were small (less than minimum wage), but it was meant to act as a supplement so that you could take a stab at working for yourself. It sounded perfect for me so starting at the beginning of this year, I worked on my application and business plan.

Now, before that (still in the Fall), I also started a Fan page on Facebook and a Blogger blog. I bought a professional blog template and worked on it for months, but couldn't 'reveal' it until I knew I was in the SEB program (one of the conditions of the program is that you couldn't be already 'working' at your job, so I had to keep things somewhat under wraps). The dream was slowly becoming a reality.

Then, around February, about a week before I had to send in my application, I saw that positive sign on the pregnancy test. To say I was freaked out and discouraged was an understatement. I saw all my hard work and possibilities fly out the window. Once the initial shock wore off though, we decided not to let the baby ‘get in our way’ of our original plans, so I applied for the SEB program anyway, knowing full well that I may have to quit early to raise the baby in the Fall.

The rest happened fairly quickly; the application/business plan was reviewed, approved, I sent in a few papers, registered my business name, arranged a sitter for Victor, and by mid-March I was ‘officially’ working for myself (and getting paid, too)!

So that’s how it happened, and here I am now, about 3 months in. And so far? It’s been equally awesome and discouraging.

Awesome for obvious reasons; my schedule is incredibly flexible, which means I can still live my life and not have to plan too far ahead and can take life as it comes (important when you have a little one!) The only obligation I have under the SEB is that I need to work 35 hours a week, but those hours can be at any time, so sometimes I work after Victor has gone to bed, or on the weekends. My ‘work’ is also flexible (for example last week I went location scouting with Dan and Victor on a Saturday afternoon, and it really didn’t seem like ‘work’ at all). I LOVE having the flexibility to do what I want, break when I want, work hard when I want and generally be my own ‘boss’. If Victor is sick I can take the day off, or if I have appointments I don’t have to rush through them to get back to the office, the work-life balance is just where I want it to be.

Of course it’s also awesome because I get to do what I love to do, which is to take photos of people. Despite being generally introverted, I always enjoy talking with clients and getting to know them during and after the session (after the initial jitters wear off). I love the blogging, the organization, the inspiration, the editing (well, maybe not so much the editing, haha), the shooting, and just generally being allowed to be creative.

I’ve also made a great ally and friend through all this, and for that I’m very thankful. We’re both throwing our hats into this photography business world together, and it has been so nice having someone to bounce ideas off with, talk and vent to, and just having someone who ‘gets it’.

Now of course, it hasn’t been perfect. Things have been quite a bit slower than I originally thought (and would like them to be). After much debate and struggle, I recently raised my prices to what I felt I needed to survive (and what I felt I was worth), and the response has been mixed (not surprising considering just last year I was shooting and burning for pennies). That of course makes me doubt my self-worth and just how viable having this business will be in the future. While the SEB payments are extremely helpful (in that they are acting as my sole income while any profit money is going back into the business), we’re just getting by as it stands now and sometimes I feel like I’m not contributing enough to the family and towards our dreams (owning a house, for example). I worry all the time if I chose the wrong market (Sussex is a small, lower class town, and professional photography probably isn’t at the top of everyone’s priority list), if I’m being foolish for thinking I can charge more when there are tons of shoot and burners out there (some of them who’s work I feel is less good than mine, yet are rolling in sessions…extremely frustrating), if there’s too much competition, and recently, if my work is just not good enough. I’m full of self doubt and I really don’t enjoy it (I was quite confident in my abilities at my last job, so this is new for me). I’m trying not to pay attention to what others are doing around me, but it’s hard sometimes. I’m proud that I have taken a few ‘risks’ (my one little word for 2011) so far, but the fear of failure is still always right there in my mind.

While I do enjoy working for myself, I often find myself lacking motivation, and will admit to piddling away more ‘work’ time than I’d like to confess (Facebook is evil I tell you!) It’s easy to justify all the online things I do as ‘work’, but really, I need to be more disciplined. Instead of scanning Pinterest for images, I should be out practicing my craft; instead of checking and updating my Facebook several times a day, I should be out meeting people, handing out business cards and finding ways to promote myself. I know all this and yet I sit here, in front of my computer, and passively wait for work to come to me. It’s very hard for me to ‘sell’ myself, so this aspect of owning my own business is definitely the hardest for me. I still kind of stutter when people ask me what I do and I say “photographer”.

Sadly, since photography became my ‘job’, I also take less photos than I used to at home (with the exception of my cell phone). I know this is pretty typical for photographers, but I wish I could get that spark back that I once had for photography, and not let it get bogged down by all the ‘business’ stuff (I read somewhere that owning your own photography business is 90% business, and 10% photography, and I totally agree!) I think that having more sessions would help ‘get the ball rolling’, but I shouldn’t wait around for that to happen, I should get out there and shoot, because once I actually start, I LOVE it. It’s just starting that’s so hard.

I know it’s still really early in the game, only being 3 months in (and really only have about a month of decent shooting weather, if that!), so the fact that I’m not swimming in work shouldn’t be an indication of how things will go in the long run. It takes years to establish a business and brand name, so I know I have a long way to go, I just hope that I can find the courage to not quit and go the safe route of a steady income, less responsibility, and job stability.

And that I can figure out a way to work with a newborn, but that’s another story :S

If you made it to the end of this, bravo! Thank you for letting me spill my mind through the keyboard and the interwebs.

Be back soon with a much fluffier post, about hair! (I have an appointment for Friday, I’m going red! And getting bangs! Oh my!)

Until then,

PS-Are there any other ‘working at home mamas’ out there? Do you have some of the same self doubt issues that I have? Do you love working from home or are there downsides too?

My Photography Website
My Photography Blog
My Facebook Fan Page (come 'like' me!)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

[Dan with Victor at 4-5 days old, and Dan with Victor at 15 months]

I'm sure if Victor could talk, he would say "Thank you Daddy..."

...for feeding me bottles of Mama's milk late at night when I was very small;
...for staying home and building a bond with me in my early days;
...for holding me and letting me sleep on your chest more times than I can remember;
...for letting Mama take a million pictures of us together because she loves them so much;
...for playing "Rocket Baby" with me;
...for staying up late with me on nights when I wouldn't go to sleep;
...for waking up early with me even though you love to sleep in;
...for reading me my favourite books over and over again;
...for letting me touch your guitars even when you are trying to play;
...for greeting me with a big smile every day when you come home from work;
...for carrying me on your shoulders when I'm too tired to walk;
...for holding my hand and helping me down the stairs and on the street;
...for playing peek a boo and chase games and being 'the energetic one';
...for giving my friends Bill and Duckie and Lovey silly voices;
...for playing with me at the park;
...for spending time alone with me so Mama can work;
...for taking me to the store when I'm feeling restless and bored;
...for giving me my baths and playing with me;
...for listening to my 'baby' music even though you don't like it;
...for being PATIENT (oh so patient) with me;
...for being my "Didi" (and for being the best one ever).

[Click to see larger; photos from March 2010 to June 2011]

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

Love, Victor

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Maternity Series |22 Weeks|

Here we are, another 2 weeks later...this pregnancy is speeding up it seems and I don't really like it! I haven't been giving a ton of thought as to what this baby's arrival will mean for us, besides in the general 'wow' terms, so having the weeks tick along on the calendar isn't helping me prepare. Ah well, the baby will get here when it does (in the blink of an eye I bet), and soon I'll forget what it was like not to have two little ones.

Photos taken in my sister's garden on another cloudy/dreary day (you see a pattern emerging here? Gah I hate June...) My companions are Quincy and Nemo, who apparently aren't very camera shy (Quincy stood staring at the camera for about 2 mins, it was kind of weird actually!)

Be back when I'm's that for honesty (ha!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Victor's books

Victor loves his books. Ever since he was about 7 or 8 months old, he's been really into having us read him books, or just flipping through them by himself. He went through a short period where he lost interest, but for the past 3 months or so he's really been back into them. We have them all arranged in the living room and every morning/afternoon/night he'll bring us each one he wants us to read, over and over again (to the point where I have to hide them once they've been read or else he'll keep bringing them back!) It's annoying, but I know it's also good for him to have these books and to hear the same stories, told in the same ways, with the same voices, over and over and over and over again :)

Anyway, as part of my 'use this blog as a baby book' philosophy, I thought it would be nice to record what books Victor loves right now, at 15 months. Most of them we've had for a long time, I find it's hard to incorporate new books into his routine, he loves his favourites, but soon we're going to have to, because these books are basically all torn to pieces!

Snowy Bear and friends. Same series as Squishy Turle and Fluffy Chick. We have this in hardcover, not cloth, but he's starting to like it anyway (I think it's the newest one we've incorporated).

This is probably his favourite right now, even though half of the tabs have been ripped off! I read it to him in French (I make up the words), and Dan reads it to him in English, so that I think that's part of why he likes it, both of his parents can read it to him :)

This is another one that has been ripped to shreds, I think there are maybe 4 tabs left to lift, but he loves it anyway. Cute baby animals :)

He wasn't into this one at first but now I think he likes it more than Squishy Turtle.

This is his favourite French one, and mine too. All about appreciating what you have and what the day brings. Plus I think the little boy looks kind of like him and the cat looks like Shimi!

He's starting to like this one more, I think that's it's a bit long for him, we skip over the last few pages and I shorten the text quite a bit, but it's still cute, more kitties!

This one was given to us at the hospital when he was born and it's very sweet. For younger kids, but Victor still loves it (it used to make me cry when he was younger, but now I try to make it more peppy so that I don't shed any tears, haha!)

The classic. This will always be his 'first' book in my opinion, he loved it sooo much when he first started getting into books. It's not the first one he reaches for now, but we still keep it around and he likes it from time to time.

(A note on reading in English/French: We don't really have a 'right' way of doing this, but I find that generally, Victor knows not to bring the French books to Dan (or if he does he quickly discovers that it wasn't the best idea, haha!), but he does bring the English ones to me (along with the French ones). Some of the English books I've translated to read in French (like Where's Spot), but some of them I'll read in English (like Squishy Turtle or Fluffy Chick). A lot of times I'll read the text in English, then point to the animal and say what it is in French, so he's hearing both words. I don't think that it has confused him, he seems to know what things are in both languages. I've been meaning to write a blog post on my experience so far with raising a bilingual child, but that will probably come later, once he actually starts talking beyond a few babbly words that could be English or French...)

Anyway, another fun thing we've been doing with books lately is incorporating actions into the stories. So on certain key words he'll wave his hand, or clap, or make the animal noise, which has been really fun, you can see how his mind is expanding. The more interactive, the better in his mind (and it's more fun for us too!)

Ok, well that's that, I wish I could say I'll be back with some belly shots but truth is, I'm about 3 weeks behind at this point so I don't know when/how I'll catch up!  'Tis life I guess, I'm terrible at keeping up with projects like this, why do I keep attempting them?!

Be back soon-ish,

Friday, June 3, 2011

8 Years...or so.

8 years and 1 month ago (or so) I met this handsome fellah (ha!) when he subletted my roommate's (and his cousin's) room for the summer. He played guitar, had long-ish hair, and introduced me to Emo music.

8 years ago and 2 days ago (or so), we had a bit too much to drink and had a bit too much fun, and we un-offically started our life together.

(romantic I know.)

8 years later (or so), we're parents to one fun little boy (and soon to be a fun little maybe-girl), adults, in debt, wrinklier, more experienced, maybe more mature, and still in love.

We haven't been perfect to each other over the past near-decade; we've argued, bickered, nagged, judged, and gotten mad at each other...but we've also talked, laughed, been silly, been silent, mended, fixed, built and dreamed together. 

I don't give him nearly all the praise and attention he deserves, but I do tell myself every single day how incredibly lucky I am that he rented that room for the summer and that he has been so loyal and caring to me for these past 8 years.

(Or so.)    

Happy (late) anniversary babe. I love you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dreams, dreams, flitting away...

(Not my family, but I'm hoping to get some shots like this this summer when Dan's awesome cousin Faye comes to take our pictures!)

Still working on those updates, waiting until things are a bit more final before announcing anything, and trying not to get my hopes up (again). In the meantime, I'm leaving you with more of my favourite pins as of late.

I want to make one of these for Victor, he loves the play kitchen at Sara's place, but I think that the handmade ones are so much more cute :)

I REALLY need to get back to work on Victor's blanket. Aim for before this baby's born?

I know Summer just started, but man, I can't wait for Fall again, haha. This would be so cute in any colour though!

I realize that the whole 'dandelion turning into birds' thing is being done to death right now, but it's so so so pretty. If only I could find a way to incorporate the kid's names into it, I think I'd be set.  I'd want it bigger though!

My friend Jelena (from Croatia) got married this past Saturday in Italy (where her husband is from and where she lives). Not sure where's she going on her honeymoon, but I think she should go here, in her own country. Spectacularly gorgeous.

Summertime treat? I think so.

It's creepy, it's gothic, it's mannish, it's not very practical, but I WANT IT.

I miss scrapbooking quite a bit, and have been thinking about doing another 'week in the life' project, but I just don't think it would be practical right now (besides, I did a summer one last year, the next one I'd like to do would be either in the Fall or Spring...)  I need to think of another scrap project to do (besides layouts, I just can't get into those anymore...)

Trying not to pin too many decor/house things, since we're not in a house yet (and it's looking less and less likely like we'll be getting into one anytime soon), so for now these pretty images will just have to stay in the realm of dreams and not possible realities (this kitchen layout it really close to the kitchen in the house we were looking at, so I was particularly inspired by it). I love the colours, floors, and cabinets...sigh.

And this, because it's SO true :)

Ok, sorry for the fluff guys, will be back with more meaty posts later on.

(Who am I kidding, it doesn't matter does it? haha)

Until then,