Saturday, June 23, 2012

3 Tips for better parenting and grand parenting Read with your kids!

3 Tips for better parenting and grand parenting Read with your kids!

First tip – I am no expert :D

Second tip – Grandparenting is great. 

  I hear it all the time.  Being a grandparent is great because you can give them back.  Who are you giving them back to? God? That is a good idea – turn them over to God!  Grand parenting is great because it is a good chance to make up for all the goofy things we did when learning on your grandkid’s parents (your kids).
My youngest granddaughter

Third tip – Read with your kids! 

 If your kids are too young to read with then read to your kids.  I am referring to reading the same books your kids are reading.  Regardless of their age, take the time and read the same books your kids/grandkids are reading then talk to them about the books.

My wife and I love to read and my oldest granddaughter is the same and consumes books nonstop (thank God for libraries!)  One morning I was going through my list of books I wanted to start reading and a thought came to me, read the same books as my granddaughter.  I remember her talking about a series of books that she was reading and I decided to read the series too.  (My wife has read with my granddaughter before and always reads to them – [I am a little slower at catching good parenting tips.]  The book series started with The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and it was the first of four books in the series.  (I get entertainment books from the local library and/ has a very large selection of ebooks/audio books that work on your e device or mp3 player and you can check them out for up to three weeks and ten books at a time.  My local library has a small selection but between the local library system, Pittsburgh’s system, and freelibrary, I can usually find what I want.  Now back to the main attraction.

It proved to be an interesting book and kept me engaged from start to finish.  Scattered throughout the book were various life lessons on morals, values, and various character traits (both good and bad).  There were times when the book seemed to go a little too dark for a ten year old and it seemed to ramble with no apparent direction but when I finished the book, many of the ramblings made sense.  Since my granddaughter was on book three, I immediately started on the second book, which is the People of Sparks.  While I was reading the first book, I began the dialogue with my granddaughter about her favorite characters, situations in the book, and the general plot.  The People of Sparks had a few sections that bored me but I am not the intended audience and the plot continued to build. The greatest value with both books is the life lessons scattered throughout the book as part of the dialogue and plot.

This dialogue between us continued into book two and three – The Prophet of Yonwood.  

She did not like the book nor did she fully understand it, which prompted me to finish it quickly to ensure I could discuss its plot and basis.  I found the book to be very dark and it was not until I finished the book did I understand its direction.  It is not a book I recommend for a ten year old (its rated 9 and above) since there are sections which paint a very dismal and odd look at certain items in life. I understand why Jeanne DuPrau wrote it and its conclusion is better than the majority of the book but I believe it should be written with a different stroke of the pen.

Since I read the book and its previous books, I was able to talk with my granddaughter about it and how it related to the previous two in the series;  helping her understand it and the life lesson in the book. 
Reading the same books as our kids/grandkids provides us opportunities to talk and dialogue providing tremendous openings to share our thoughts and values.  Do not stop reading with your kids when they grow.  Hopefully, they continue reading their entire life filling their lives with valuable books, stories, and life’s lessons. 

I love to read and talk to others about the books we read and what we learned from the book and if the book(s) has any value in our life.  There are many people in my life who love to read and we share our favorites and quick reviews as part of a regular routine.  Do you enjoy reading?  Please share your favorites with me!

 My final tip is to make your kids/grandkids part of your reading crowd, then read and talk with them about the books as you go through life together.  Ask them questions and let them talk explaining what they see and vision in the book.  Encourage them to read and build character images in their mind.  Ask them to describe the characters and discuss the characters together.  Do you envision them as tall or short, serious face or do they have a big smile always?  (Don’t make it a lesson but a chance to talk and dialogue with them.  Be a part of their life by getting to know their world and how they see our world.)  Ask them if their friends like to read and are they reading the same books.  Get them excited about reading and help them understand the value of reading books for many reasons.

(We are both reading book 4 in the series – The Diamond of Darkhold and we will discuss it when we complete it.)

Remember this: Life is all a matter of perspective so get out and enjoy the beauty of life!

High School Senior Portraits and Weddings by dr Frank
Seneca Valley Portraits
Montour School District
Black Hawk School District Portraits

Contact dr Frank to photograph your wedding, portraits, or special event.

Specializing in Wedding and Portrait Photography
Beaver County, Pittsburgh, and surrounding communities.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stopping short of our goals because of FEAR (false evidence appearing real) - Cinta Costera

In pursuit of a goal but stopping short because of fear and the unknown

My journey to Cinta Costera

How many times have we set goals but stop short of achieving them because of FEAR (false evidence appearing real) and doubt?  Often we state, “If only I knew the outcome” but many times the journey is what builds our character as much as us reaching our goal.  I heard an illustration once that bears repeating before I get to my story.  You miss your favorite team/sport’s game but record it for viewing later when you return home.  After avoiding the internet, forums, social media, etc all day, you drive home with your mind filled with anticipation and excitement for a critical game.  You pull into your drive way, open the car door and then your neighbor yells over to you, “can you believe the comeback our team achieved in the last 2 minutes of the game?”.  On no! you think knowing that you did not want to know the outcome and enter your home.  After tossing your keys on the counter and slip into your comfortable clothes, the anticipation of the game fades into the distant past.   Even at half-time when your team is down by multiple scores with no apparent chance for winning, the butterflies and knot in your stomach never appear.  Why?  Because you know the outcome and the journey isn’t filled with excitement and wonder.

During my recent trip to Panama City, Panama, I ventured out each night to explore the city.  I wanted to talk to local residents, shop owners, challenging my communication skill in a foreign country while enjoying the culture, sounds, and structures throughout the city.  One evening I asked for directions to Cinta Costera from the front desk personnel at the hotel.  They gave me the directions and I felt confident I could find this beautiful part of Panama.  Earlier in the week, I had a driver take me around the city showing me various attractions and landmarks.  He showed me in passing the Cinta Costera and also pointed out various parts of the city to avoid (for safety reason) and others to visit and enjoy.  During the day and with a guide, these areas where recognizable but at night, everything looked and sounded much different.

Earlier in the day, the weather was rainy and humid filling the streets and sidewalks with puddles and mud.  With my camera over my shoulder I set out for my goal of Cinta Costera believing that I would reach my destination easily and without any set-backs.

The journey –

The first block or two into the journey contained little excitement and interest but then I came upon a section filled with darkness and many unknowns.  I saw in the distance a lone man and wondered is he harmless and what is he doing on this dark street alone at night (but then again what was I doing on this street alone at night in a far away city).  Approaching him with caution, I decided to walk not on the sidewalk but walked between parked cars along the road and managed to step in a deep mud puddle filling my crocks with mud and water.  The mud caused the insides of the crocs to be very slick and awkward to walk in but I continued forward and arrived to the point where this man was leaning against the fence.  Dressed in a uniform type shirt caused some of my fear to dissipate and I greeted him in Spanish.  He acknowledged my greeting in Spanish and continued smoking his cigarette as I walked past him toward a darker section.

The dark section contained fences of various types and sizes causing a magnification of every sound and then I started to hear a faint shuffling sound that appeared to come from behind me.  I quickly turned around but saw nothing but darkness and faint lights in the distance.  Cars passed me as I journeyed along the sidewalk passing a beautiful home with a stone and iron fence surrounding it.  The sidewalk made of pavers and stamped rain covered concrete provided a slick surface for my muddy crocs.  As I walked past this beautiful home, I could see people sitting at a table under a covered porch behind the beautiful fence with faint music playing in the background.  Then I heard the sound again, somewhere nearby I could hear the shuffling sound of someone walking and I spun around looking into all the shadows for what caused the sound.  Was it a stray cat looking for food or was it someone following me?  My mind began to race as my mind focused on “Yea, as I walk through the shadow of darkness, I will fear no evil!” Yes, I know that it is; Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: but my mind kept repeating darkness. 
I decided to move to the opposite side of the street and soon came upon a crowded block, which appeared to be a restaurant with cars parked all around and three large men standing in the short driveway to this restaurant.  Then my over active mind started up again, thinking was this a restaurant or was this something else and these men stood in front to get rid of anyone attempting to enter that didn’t belong.  Excitement and anxiety set in but neither stopped me from taking pictures along the way and I found myself in another section with stranger sounds and the familiar yet still eerie swishing and shuffling sound of someone walking.  After walking through more puddles and my crocs filled with more mud and water, my mind wavered from my goal and focused on my feet.  Wet and sloppy, my body convinced my mind that if a pursuer was lurking and decided to chase me and I attempted to run, I would no doubt slide out of my wet crocs and end up a statistic. 

Not long after this, I came upon a major road filled with lights and buildings. However, at this point my body wore out from an over active imagination (maybe too many war and spy movies) and my mind convinced that the goal was not within reach I decided to turn and head a different direction toward a section of town that I traveled earlier in the week. 

It was then when I heard stranger sounds, the sounds of frogs croaking and the familiar shuffling of feet and as I spun around, I realized who was following me.  It was me!  No, it was not some crazed drunk lurking in the shadows or a gang member looking for an unsuspecting target.  The shuffling sound that I heard was my wet pants dragging on the pavement and through the mud echoed off the vacant buildings, concrete, and fences.  I almost laughed aloud but at this point, I decided to continue my walk toward the section of town that I knew but did not investigate in too much detail earlier in the week. 

I took a handful of shots and talked to many people along the way.  Between my choppy Spanish and their choppy English, I conversed with a few locals including a cab driver and street vendor getting directions and then purchasing a few magnets from the street vendor.  I saw a restaurant that tempted me to visit (Mediterranean food served outdoors) but I did not want to stop to eat as I continued on my journey. 
I am not sure how many blocks I walked but I do know that I did not reach my goal of Cinta Costera and unfortunately did not get to visit it later in the week other than a quick drive by. Yes, I did see other sites and would not have seen them but FEAR (false evidence appearing real) stopped me from achieving my goal.  Will I get to visit Cinta Costera one day in the future?  Maybe and I hope so but I doubt the journey will be the same now that I know the path and the next day I checked on the map and realized I was very close to my goal but the journey wore me out and I stopped short of my goal.

How many times in our lives do we stop short of our goal without realizing that the goal is only a few steps away and only one more obstacle is in our path?  Is the journey as valuable or more valuable than reaching the goal?  Many times, it appears that the journey is more valuable than the goal itself.
Get out and enjoy the beauty and adventures that life brings!

 I did come upon this beautiful church which became part of a different goal for the night - keep on keeping on and always persist, finding opportunity in the midst of a humorous, over active imagination.  
Panama Church

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Panama City, Panama - My first visit in words and pictures part one

Panama City, Panama - Part one
I had the honor of visiting Panama City for business spending four full days in this beautiful city enjoying its diverse look and culture.  On the last full day of my trip, a very kind man attending the workshop offered to take me to old Panama City and give me a walking, talking tour.  Driving out of Panama City to old Panama City he gave me a quick history lesson outlining the work the country is putting into the restoration of this beautiful city and all of the money private investors continued to pour into this beautiful city.  They were tasked with restoring the city to its original charm ans style.

We walked through many streets and he talked to multiple city workers asking which roads were open that we could walk use in our journey.  I could spend months if not years photographing this historic town and realized immediately that I needed to do everything possible to capture a piece of this city's splendor.  We walked to this street initially to tour and photograph the monastery (left side of the frame) but found it closed and locked for the night.  However, I couldn't pass this beautiful view and immediately set-up my tripod to begin composing the scene.  As soon as I began setting up a lady walked into the scene and sat down.  At first I thought (please move one) but soon realized she was staying to feed some stray cats.  In post processing I went more for the painterly look and the lady feeding the cats fit perfect in this stepping back in time look (the only thing out of place are the light post along the roadway (or are they)).  Within the scene is another person - can you see him?  He is not hid and in the near center of the image.

Old Panama City, Panama
Wouldn't it be great to shoot portraits or a wedding party in this grandeur old city?  Can you imagine the shots possible for high school senior portraits?  I wonder if the inhabitants of the area do the same thing that we do concerning the beauty in our back yard?  Overlook it?

Its summertime in North America and time to enjoy the beautiful countryside.  Take the time to visit old cities in your area and step back in time to days of old.  While visiting these cities, do not forget to take your camera, note book documenting your visits as you record memories for future enjoyment.  I state this often during a wedding or portrait session.  Although these images are taken for your enjoyment, the real value is to capture this moment in time and for future generations to enjoy and cherish.

High School Senior Portraits and Weddings by dr Frank
Seneca Valley Portraits
Montour School District
Black Hawk School District Portraits

Contact dr Frank to photograph your wedding, portraits, or special event.

Specializing in Wedding and Portrait Photography
Beaver County, Pittsburgh, and surrounding communities.