Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Beginning. . . .

In an effort to be more organized, or at least able to follow myself, I am separating my "personal" blog from my photography "stuff."

There may (and probably will) still be photography stuff on my personal one -- especially if I need to "illustrate" something, :), but not as much "personal" stuff on the photography-related one.

The personal one will still be Random Musings at, but we will give wordpress a whirl with


Kristi is at that age where she possesses a great vocabulary, but sometimes the word still seems to escape her. When that happens, she "improvises."

bsketti = spaghetti

breksbest = breakfast

mimps = mints (of the tic tac variety)

earrings = onion rings (this one took a while to figure out. I could NOT figure out why she wanted earrings. . .)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Go Fish!

We went fishing today on the Qualla Indian Reservation.

There was only one small mishap (that I was responsible for)
and this wasn't it. :)

Kristi has a Barbie fishing pole that is about 2 or 2.5 feet long. I went to cast it for her, and about halfway through, my shoulder said, "Nope, you are NOT!" and without thinking, I opened my hand and the rod followed the hook. What I wish I did have was a picture of Bernard's face. He just said, "Why did you do that?" or something to that effect. Unfortunately, some of the others fishing there saw it. Fortunately, they either didn't say anything or thought Kristi had done it. :P

(Oh yea. The picture. There is a set of power lines going above one of the ponds we were fishing in.)

Travis caught between 15 and 17 (we lost count). This is just one of many that I could have taken a shot of (kinda unhealthy looking, but I promise to all the PETA people that may happen by, he swam off happily a few seconds later)

another one --

Kristi also caught her first fish.

But, frankly, she was more interested in having her picture made!

Bernard caught several. Here's one --

And just in case you don't get enough looking at Bernard -- (ain't he hot!)

I caught five, and would have loved to keep fishing, but the ole' shoulder didn't see a need for that. So, here I sit, heating pad giving me some relief. :P I'm not liking this getting older stuff, btw.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

True Randomness -- Christmas Traditions and Memories

I remember. . .

peeking at a present and being so proud of myself for "rewrapping" it so that it was not noticeable. It was a Sesame Street figure (I was probably four or five).

Using empty wrapping paper rolls, Kelly (older sister) and I would "sword fight" for hours.

Opening said presents and watching my brother never change his expression.

Always getting a BIG candy cane and box of thin mints in my stocking.

Neon socks and penny loafers.

Opening presents, eating lunch, going to Mimaw's -- in that order.

Mimaw's peanut butter pinwheel candy, mint candy, gopher balls, fudge.

Getting the pink huffy dirt bike and riding with Anthony and Patrick (who had just gotten yellow and blue ones) in 6 inches of snow.

Playing Donkey Kong on my Atari for HOURS!

Handel's MESSIAH sing alongs at App State.

Auditioning for "the horse" in Sleighride.

Christmas Eve at Mimaw and Papaw Shuford's -- looking like a domestic violence victim because I had just had surgery to remove wisdom teeth.

A very special kiss later that night. :) :) :) :)

Exchanging presents with Bernard -- and giving him almost exactly what he gave me!

Hot chocolate at the Dixie Stampede.

Christmas lights in Pigeon Forge.

Going to PF -- sick, but insisting on going.

Driving around looking at lights.

Trav's first Christmas -- he was so tired and had so many presents, he almost wouldn't open them at home.

Making cookies with Travis and Kristi.

Family Christmas pictures.

(technically, Bernard took this shot. I had the idea and arranged everyone, and did the "post processing," but he actually set the camera up and pushed the shutter button).

Stockings!!! (My mom is the stocking queen).

Conspiring to ruin Kasey's Christmas.

The year Kasey got a "Throw in a Row"

Kasey getting revenge by arranging "The Christmas Story" Christmas to aggravate Kelly.

The year Pops got at least 6 bottles of Old Spice.

The year Brayden got several boxes of cocoa mix.

Christmas plays, cantatas, and those brown paper bag sacks with two oranges, one apple, a Hershey bar, and a some peppermint candy.


Randomness from 2008

Apparently, my nephews' version includes Joseph wearing dreds. . . . .

What an attitude (the blue mouth is from a sucker she had just eaten)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Cheer!

See, I know what a kitchen is. I will spare you the picture of the chocolate chip cookies, because at the moment I took it, I'm not sure I knew what a camera was. :P

Sausage Balls --

Peppermint Snowballs --

And on Bernard's blog, I alluded to how Bernard was keeping the youth's attention. Well, I won't go into the details, but here is a shot from our church's Christmas party last weekend. . . .

Keep that "ensemble" in your mind (though, admittedly, I probably will enjoy keeping it in my mind more than you will!).

Now, this is a shot of Bernard getting ready for the church service the next morning.

Hmmm, yep, he wore them the whole time. Even while he sang "O Holy Night" (I think that is what he sang, I honestly don't remember -- I was too stricken by the shorts).

Monday, December 22, 2008

IT'S MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Definitely not my normal sentiment towards Monday (which is odd, because I don't work full time so Monday isn't a lot different from the weekend, but, I digress).

However, this Monday is special.

It is the Monday after yesterday, and yesterday was the last big brohaha I was involved with that had stress as part of the equation.

The Christmas Cantata (I'm the choir director) was last week. The Christmas Play (and my itty bitty part) is over. The family pre-Christmas get togethers are over.

I have nothing "scheduled" between now and Wednesday night when we go to the in-laws. How cool is that.

I get to wrap presents! Bake cookies! Listen to Christmas music! Eat cookies! Play with my kids! Look at Christmas lights! Take pictures! Eat more cookies!

Oh yea.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The War on ?????

The Rambling Prophet posts THIS about the "war" on Christmas.

Yes, I have "war" in quotation marks. This would indicate that I do not think such a war exists, and it is time to stop fighting it. Why? Because there are other, bigger fish to fry.

I read Tony's post moments after reading some of the following quotes --

I stated that when I was a child, I sinned. But my sins were absolved by a christian church, just as yours were. When I grew older, I developed my own moral code that I have lived by ever since. And, amazingly, its a pretty easy code to live by.

You seem to assume that maybe one of the religions have it right. What if god IS gay? Didn't god make man in his own image and woman for that matter? Maybe just you and (name removed) will be screwed?

Further, sin has a specific religious context. It's not equivalent to right and wrong, but merely something that's prohibited by a god. For example, killing is considered a sin, but not necessarily wrong because God supposedly demands stoning and other untimely deaths for certain crimes. Now, if you think that particular god is complete fiction, then whatever he/she/it supposedly prohibited is a moot point. So if Athena declared that eating broccoli is a sin, would you consider yourself a sinner for that? Probably not. You'd have a chuckle and a second helping because Athena is fiction and never existed to make such a rule. The same applies to Horus, Odin, Vishnu and 1,000 other gods that you believe to be myths. Most of the world doesn't believe your god existed either, and so those associated sins are simply not applicable. We can still believe in right and wrong... just not because your god said so.

Yes. I am without sin. Just like I am without unicorns and heffalumps. There is a difference between 'sin' and following a moral code.

The whole point of life is to grow and learn. In the last 10 years, I can honestly say that there is nothing I have done that I would question with regard to your idea of sin.

I am not a sinner.

There is no sin in my philosophy, only unfortunate or immoral acts. No sin.

So, while the two ladies referenced in Tony's blog continue to raise thousands of dollars to convince people to leave Christ in Christmas, I'll continue to interact with the "sayers" of the above and convince them by my life and actions that Christ even exists.

If you are a Christian and you read this, consider for a moment that it is not against flesh and blood that we fight. If you show someone who is a non-Christian any less respect or favoritism than you would a fellow believer, you are, imo, sinning. Christ commands us to love all.

We have got to drop this US vs. THEM mentality.



Fighting the atheist over whether to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" would be akin to beating up a Jewish person because he was in a concentration camp. You would be fighting the wrong "enemy." You would be fighting the "enemy" (that's not really the enemy) that you are trying to reach.

Christ can never be removed from Christmas, just as God can never be kicked out of the country. Christ doesn't live in Christmas. God doesn't live in America. He is to live in our hearts, and when we celebrate the birth of Christ by living as Christ wants us to live, Christmas will be celebrated 365 days a year.

And we won't need a "campaign" to convince us to do otherwise.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Mom Song

Now, I know that most of my reader's are male (I think that is why the gender analyzer thinks this is a man-blog), but this is just too funny. Seriously, if you aren't a mom, you HAVE a mom somewhere in the time/space continuum. Enjoy.

The Mom Song from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 10, 1993

Nope, the title is not a typo.

That was one of the best days of my life. 15 years ago.

I was a senior at Western Carolina University -- finishing up my classwork for a B.S.ed in Music Education, and preparing for my student teaching.

I wasn't dating anyone, having broken up with a pathological liar type a few months before.

It was winter and threatening snow.

It was a Friday night.

I saw Mrs. Doubtfire and ate at Shoney's at Exit 44 afterwards. I had a turkey club croissant with fries, and the date, who would later be my husband, had a chopped steak.

I remember being impressed that he didn't eat a hamburger. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

I would like to point out that we had actually met almost 6 months earlier at a funeral. I was standing at the back of the church, and he was singing with his mom and two uncles.

Love at first sight? I'm honestly not sure, but there was definitely a "Hmmmm, there is some potential" at first sight. My immediate next thought was "but he is only 14 or 15, maybe 16, so bug off." (He was around 25 at the time). Long story short, his aunt introduced us, and I didn't hear from him until Fall.

He called a couple of times, we talked, and then I didn't hear from him for several days.

My confident, self-assured person was cool with that. (ha) No problem. (ha) I can handle it. (ha)


I remember seeing his aunt (the one that introduced us), at a restaurant at this time and mentioning that I hadn't heard from him.

He called shortly thereafter, and asked me out.

So, one breakup, a long engagement, a wedding, several pounds, two children, and an open heart surgery later -- we are happily married.

It's been a wonderful 15 years.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Know I Shouldn't, But . . . .

I typically don't post pictures of "clients" without their express permission. However, sometimes I cannot help myself.

The first shot was from the helicopter as flew into to do an on-location shot. It was not in one of the better parts of town, and the house needed a little "pick me up" to be returned to its shining glory.

Then, the next shot is Mr. Bread, as in Ginger Bread, himself.

I love Christmas!

Saturday, Fun Day

Yea, real fun. Well, it would have been if 25% of the family hadn't been feeling, shall we say, a bit woozely. My advice for anyone, after today, is that if you feel the need to strongly, and almost violently, eject the contents from your stomach, something a bit more "leakproof" than a McDonald's bag is definitely recommended. ;)

I didn't take any pictures today, obviously, though the Christmas lights against that awesome sunset (that I saw between naps) would have been nice, but here is one from yesterday. . .

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Things that Make You Go, "Hmmmmm"

There is a particular passage that I have read in the Bible several times. I've heard sermons about it, and it even created a *little* firestorm for the Southern Baptist a few years ago.

From Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Three little verses that make every woman squirm. And not in a good way. I confess, I've had small issues with submission before. (Bernard says, "SMALL?") I mean, heck, it is hard to yield to a husband when you so want to do it your way. Any amens from the sisters?

However, what often happens is that women hear these three verses, get indignant and tune everything else out. Men, on the other hand, hear these three verses and start thinking of everything their wives need to do. I even know of some husbands who use this verse to mentally and emotionally abuse their wives, which makes me want to throw up, but that is another blog post.

As with many things in the Bible, you gotta keep reading. If Dora, from "Finding Nemo" was with you, she may say, "Just keep reading, just keep reading, Just keep reading, reading, reading." Yea, just keep reading. Keep your ears open. Forget the indignation and the gloating. Look what is next.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Husbands get EIGHT verses to tell them how to treat their wives. Wives are given three verses -- a "command" and how to do it in three easy to remember verses.

Husbands, on the other hand, are issue a "command," that appears simple -- "Love your wife." And, then, they are given 8 verses on how to do it. (and wives have a little reminder at the end).

Now, I know how hard it is for me to do "the submission thing" at times. But, seriously, in the context of the rest of the passage, my job is a heck of a lot easier than Bernard's.

AND, if Bernard is doing his job correctly, submission actually becomes easier! For that matter, if any man is following verses 25 - 33, their wives will have a much easier time with verses 22 - 24.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November is Closing

Wow. Only 31 days left in the year 2008. Just wow.

I could probably do a blog post about 2008 things that have changed in my life in 2008, but that would probably get a bit old around, oh I don't know, number 13 or so. :)

Some pictures to end the month --

Friday, November 28, 2008



1 huge deep fried turkey
2 large turkey breasts
1 large ham
big ole crock pot of mashed potatoes
huge bowl of peas
ginormous bowl of corn
2 large cans of cranberry sauce
4 pans of rolls
2 pumpkin pies
1 large cheesecake
1 large pan of brownies
1 large chocolate cake
1 apple cake
1 large bowl of orange jello

People served = 19

Leftovers --

1 small bowl of turkey
1 pumpkin pie
part of the apple cake

Hate it when that happens. No turkey sandwiches for the Shuford household. Though, I must say, we did manage to get some leftovers at Bernard's parents' house. :) Yes, the menu above was for the Valentine family's get together. I come from a talented family, but dang, we can eat!!

I hope Thanksgiving gave you an opportunity to slow down, look around and say, "Thank you, Jesus, for your blessings on me!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a Bit o' Fun

Ran across this on my voyage through cyberspace:

The Gender Analyzer

It's simple -- simply insert the address for your blog and click "analyze."

Then, see if the results are correct.

This blog??

We guess is written by a man (56%), however it's quite gender neutral.

>karmat makes a few checks< I believe they missed this one!

However, I checked several others, and they were correct.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pre-Season Cheer

The music is a "blast from the past," but the main cats are definitely contemporaries!!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just Wondering

I have an online acquaintance. For "identity" purposes, I call him JJ.

JJ seems to be a nice enough guy. He is fairly intelligent, and is very good at his craft/hobby, though I'm not sure what he does professionally. He is also as far left as almost anyone could possibly be. He puts the "L" in liberal. He is also gay, and and atheist.

None of these, honestly, bother me.

However, simply put, JJ hates anything religious. To be fair, not just Christianity, but any kind of religion. He believes it is full of lies, misguidance, and for the weak of mind. He also blames it for all that is wrong in the world. He even goes as far to say that the world would be better off without ANY kind of religion, and "preaches" that message to whomever will listen.

In other words, he is the exact polar opposite of me. With the exception of a few insignificant commonalities (for indeed a commonality that you share with the entire human race while significant in "size" does not account for a whole lot), we have nothing in common.

Yet, he is nice to me, and seems to treat me with respect. He hates everything that I believe and stand for, yet he seems to separate that from "me."

So, when he does something nice for me, and goes out of his way to do it, why am I paranoid? Why can I not just accept a token of friendship.

I realized the answer tonight, ironically enough, during a MAF presentation at church. (MAF is a mission organization that supports missionaries and workers around the world through the use of aircraft, etc. More info can be found at Their Website)

I have gone on several short term mission projects. In my early 20's I felt the call to missions though the doors have never opened for me to pursue that. I have wiped babies' noses, waded through mud and muck, let a little child with TB sit in my lap, handed out food, toys, clothing, etc to those less fortunate with one goal -- showing Christ's love.

I've also felt, here at home, that we must meet people's short term physical needs in order to build a relationship with them so that I can ultimately share Christ with them. (And in Christianese, that translates "getting saved.")

If you are a Christian, you are quite possibly not seeing anything wrong with that philosophy.

I do, now.

Perhaps that is what JJ is doing to me. Building a relationship with me so that he can introduce me to his godless way and have one less "religious" adherent in the world.

I realized, tonight, that I must share God's love with people that may never accept it simply because I love them. I must be willing to give them a glass of water, and laugh and love with them, even if they never, ever accept Christ.

My job is NOT to get them to accept Christ.

My job is to love them as Christ loved them.

Christ loved the two thieves that were killed beside him. One of them never accepted Him.

So, when I serve those in the community, when I take food to someone who needs it, when I ask an elderly shut in if there is anything I can do, when I reach out to my gay/atheist/religious-hating friend, am I doing it because I truly care when he is hurting, or do I have the ulterior motive?

I truly believe Christ doesn't want us to have the ulterior motives. Yes, Christ wants them to be saved. Yes, Christ wants us to share with them.

But, I don't think the wham-bam-hit-and-run visitation program is going to do it. It may have worked 40 years ago, or even 10, but the world has changed. Significantly, even, just since I got out of college 14 years ago.

The world wants REALness, sincerity, and transparency, three things that are lacking in most of society today.

In short, we must truly love people, and through this love, people will begin to know the true character of Christ.

Monday, November 10, 2008


You must not think me necessarily foolish because I am facetious, nor will I consider you necessarily wise because you are grave.
Sydney Smith
English essayist (1771 - 1845)

Sunday's Photo

I take A LOT of pictures of my children. As a result, even my 3 yo knows how to "pose." The good thing is that it is easy for me to get the facial expression I want with little or no prompting.

Unfortunately, it also means that those sheer, unrestrained moments of joy are difficult to capture. I got one today, though. My nephews and my children decided to build a pile of leaves and jump in it. My mom has two huge trees in her front yard, and she doesn't rake the leaves until every last, single one has blown off. They started with a small pile, and the more they picked up, the bigger they decided to make it. At one point, it was so high, Kristi couldn't put leaves on top of it.

The yard looked pretty good when they finished. :)

Then, they took turns jumping in it. My nephews even let me take their picture, and they are very reluctant to do that, on normal occasions. My kids also let me grab a few shots. I really like this one because you can see Trav's dimple in his right cheek, and Kristi's face is, well, just happy. :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thought of the Day

Accepting Christ as my personal Lord and Savior does not automatically grant me moral superiority.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Focus Object

No, I'm not pregnant, and I don't need a "focus object" for labor. (Didn't use the one I had anyway. Focused on the fire alarm/sprinkler because it looked like a pig with a flashing red nose. But, I digress.)

Over the past two weeks or so, I have done five shoots. That has translated to almost 2000 pictures to go through, "process," and upload.

My laptop is an appendage now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Oh yea!

Chocolate ice cream is my favorite -- there is no doubt or argument about that.

However, since I was a little girl, there is another flavor that is a close second. It rarely gets mentioned, though, because it isn't really common. There is a place near Boone, NC that sells it (or used to), and around Christmas, two or three companies market it. I found some tonight . . . .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Passing Through

PaD 11/3

This blog originally began when I committed to taking a picture a day and posting it. I'm wanting to try to do that again.

So today's --

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thoughts on Election Day Eve

But not my thoughts. Well, they are "my thoughts" but Mr. Piper delivers them much more clearly, succinctly, and eloquently than I ever could.

To me, while who wins tomorrow is important in the temporal sense, God is God. One election in the US history is not going to dethrone Him, shock Him, perplex Him, or confuse Him. Heck, it won't even slow Him down.

Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31

We don't "do" Halloween, so I don't have any of those kind of shots, but it was a busy, busy, busy day.

Our morning was sort of typical.

Then, we went on a field trip with some other homeschoolers to the Balsam Mountain Preserve.

Then, a wedding.

Then, the reception.

Then, home.

I am whupped.

But, I learned a lot today. I like days when I learn alot. Maybe it is the teacher in me, but it always feels refreshing and energizing when I see/do/hear something I've never seen/done/heard before.

Lessons I learned:

1. When a naturalist/biologist says, "Let's go for a nature walk," it will definitely have a big downhill walk. To return, you must be ready for a big uphill walk.

2. Ferrets, when dropped from low heights (is that an oxymoron?), bounce.

3. Owls spitting out pellets and cats coughing up hairballs look very similar.

4. Halloween is not a good time to go Wal-Mart.

5. Each and every wedding is different.

6. Sleepy 3 years olds are not the best photography assistants available.

7. Never try to use new equipment in a high stress situation.

8. Sharing large quantities of candy is not natural for a 6 year old.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When Season Collide

It snowed yesterday. I mean SNOWED. Not flurry. Not "blowing stuff." It flat out snowed.

When Bernard left for work, he came in and told me. Or at least I think he did. :) When Kristi woke up, invariably about half and hour before I want to, I told her to look out the window. She's three. I figured it would take her a good 15 minutes to figure out which window she wanted to look out, and another 15 to figure out what she was looking for.

Approximately 13 seconds later, she squeals, "MAMA!!!! IT SNOWED!!!!!! Can we go outside?"

(Note to self -- Do NOT try this any more).

About 15 minutes later, I hear Travis get up, and about 15 minutes 30 seconds later I hear, "MAN! MOM!!!! Can I snowboard????"

We get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, do something resembling schoolwork and then this ---

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Generation Valentine

My paternal grandmother (Mimaw Valentine) loved some very specific things in life. Jesus Christ, General Hospital, baking, her grandkids, Atlanta Braves baseball and Tuscola High School football. If she were still alive, she would be 88 years old, have 5 children, 14 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Today, we got together with several of them.

Front row -- Colten, 13; Brayden,13; Corey,13.

Second row -- Kristi, 3; Olivia, 6; Brooks, 6; Travis, 6; Jared, 8

Third row -- Katy, 10; Chase, 10; Grant, 10; Sawyer, 8

Nice looking bunch, eh what? And well-behaved, too.

Well, mostly.

Okay. Maybe not. :)

Others from today --

My cousin, and her 6 yo daughter.