[And welcome to my little blog.]

I'm Amanda! So happy you are here. Grab a glass of wine, read along, and let's be friends.

Our Friday night

Saturday, April 30, 2011
One year ago today Kevin's parents Dick and Rose were hosting the most beautiful rehearsal dinner for our wedding.  How has a whole year passed by already?

Tonight we went out to dinner with both Kevin's parents and my parents.  It was the perfect way to start our one year anniversary weekend.  Thanks dad for snapping the pics of Kevin and I. 

It's official!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

After several days of mulling it over... and scheming... and planning... and budgeting.  It's decided!  We're going to leave for Africa on November 16th for a ten day trip.  I still can't believe we're doing it.  It's so expensive, and it's so far away, and it's so freaking beautiful and awesome that it hasn't sunk in that we're really doing it. 

If we can survive the long flight to Africa... (Omaha to Denver; Denver to Washington;  Washington to Johannesburg; and then Johannesburg to Capetown), we'll be spending five days in a hotel/ apartment in Capetown called the More Quarters.  We'll be in the more "authentic" area of Capetown.  And since Kevin and I love pretending we're locals, this is right up or alley.  We're still figuring out all the things we want to do in Capetown.  From what we've read so far there are a ton of cool things to do... penguins, wine tours, hiking, swimming with great white sharks... it'll be hard to decide.  Then after 5 nights we'll fly North to spend three nights at private game lodge, the Lions Sands River Lodge.  THE SAME PLACE THEY STAYED ON THE BACHELOR.  I seriously don't mean to yell, but we're so flipping excited!

Here is a typical day at the Lions Sands River Lodge:

5:30 am:  Wake up for morning safari.
7:45 am:  Coffee & tea in the bush.
9:00 am:  Hearty breakfast.
11:00 am:  Relax.  Nap?
12:00 pm:  Lunch outdoors on the wooden viewing deck.
12:30 pm:  Rest & Relaxation: Massage at the spa or relax at the pool.
4:00 pm:  Tea time before evening safari.
5:30 pm: Sipping cocktails in the bush, safari, and watching the sun set.
8:00 pm:  Dinner and bonfire under the African stars.

We decided to push the trip back to November in order to save more money and take less vacation days by going over the Thanksgiving holiday.  This will be a crazy expensive trip for us, but we decided to sacrifice spontaneous weekend getaways, clothes purchases, expensive nights out, etc. over the next few months to go on this trip of a lifetime. 

Africa, here we come.

Leadership Lessons: Life Story

A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the lessons I had learned through the book True North by Bill George that I read as part of one of my MBA's classes on leadership. The premise of this book is that you can't be a great leader until you understand yourself, and part of understanding yourself is understanding your life story.  Here are a few quotes from the first chapter of the book that struck me:

"Authentic leaders frame their life stories.  Their life stories provide the context for their lives, and through them they find their passion and inspiration to make an impact on the world.  The story of your life is not your life.  It is your story.  It is your story that matters, not the facts of your life.  Our life stories are like permanent tapes playing in our heads.  Over and over, we replay the events and interaction with people that are important to our lives, attempting to make sense of them and using them to find our place in the world.

We can never directly replay all those along the way who help us, but we can have a positive impact on those coming behind.  You don't have to be CEO to make an impact.  You can do it every day, starting with your next-door neighbor.  Leadership happens at every stage of your life.  If no one else is willing to lead or capable of leading, then it is your obligation to step up to the challenge."

At the end of the chapter were a bunch of questions to prompt you to reflect on the content of the chapter and apply it to your life.  Here was one of the questions:

During your early years, which people had the greatest impact on you? 

By far the people that had the largest impact on my early life were my parents.  I think most people would probably say the same.  Whether your parents were present or absent, good or bad, I think it'd be hard to argue that they didn't have a tremendous and long-lasting impact on your life.  And I have to admit, I hit the parent lottery.  I've said this so many times, and I wish there was a less cliché way of putting it, but I really couldn't ask for better parents.

They were, and still are everything you would hope for in two people.  They even had complimenting skills; the areas where one parent was weak the other was strong.  My mom was extremely loving, nurturing, caring, selfless, and loved us unconditionally.  My dad told us stories, played with us, coached us, and taught us.  This is over-simplifying it, but without going into great detail, I think you get the idea.

I have so many memories of how my parents impacted me, but when I think back to an early memory, one of the first ones that comes to mind is a memory from when I was six or seven years old standing on the front porch of our home in Richmond, Virginia bawling uncontrollably.  My feelings were hurt.  To this day I can’t recall what the situation was, or even which friend of mine hurt my feelings, but I'll never forget what my dad told me.  He didn't hug me or kiss me or coddle me.  He said calmly and logically, "Only you can hurt your feelings.  Other people can't hurt your feelings.  You choose who you allow to hurt you."

Sort of a serious conversation to have with a seven year old.  A simple hug would have probably been temporarily more helpful.  But I did internalize something that has had an impact on me ever since.  You are in the driving seat of your emotions; you're not dominated by them.  You are not the victim of someone else's mean words.  You have a choice to think positively and move on.

I think this early lesson probably had a more profound influence on my internal ability to bounce-back then I realize.  That's one of the cool things that happen when you stop, pause, and reflect about your own life story.  You have the chance to connect some of the dots that have shaped you into the person you are today.

And just because I hate a blog post without any pictures, here's a picture of my dad and I:

And here's a picture of Kevin and I when we were around 6 or 7.  Mind you this was the last time I played any sort of sport involving a ball until junior high school (and even then, I only played softball for about two weeks before I quit).  Kevin's hoping our future kids get his hand-eye coordination, not mine :)

Photographing the basketball star

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
So the other day I bought a beginner's photography book off amazon.com.  One of the book's suggestions was to take your camera everywhere with you.  If you want to learn how to take good pictures you have to practice.  And to practice you have to have your camera with you.  Duh.  So why haven't I been bringing my camera with me?  Part of the problem is that I don't like carrying a bulky camera around with me.  Finally, I think I've solved that problem with this purse that doubles as a camera bag that I bought last month (click here to check it out).  Now it's just a matter of getting in the habit of making sure the camera actually makes it into my purse. 

Tonight was Kevin's last game of basketball and I hadn't seen him play yet, so I decided to come along.  I actually remembered to bring my camera with me this time, and took a grand total of 96 pictures.  I didn't get a single amazing picture out of the whole bunch.  Sigh.  Low light, fast basketball players, and an inexperienced photographer... not a good combination.

Here are some of the best pictures I took, and they're still not very good.  At least Kevin played great, and his team beat the only undefeated team in the league.  I always tease Kevin by calling him "basketball star"  :)

After looking at some of the data on the pictures I think I understand part of what I did wrong, and can hopefully use this information to improve.  The first problem was that the camera's shutter speed was way to slow to freeze the action of the fast moving players.  I had the F stop cranked down as low as possible, which increased the shutter speed, but I completely forgot to check the ISO.  I only had it set at 200 rather than the 1,600 I should have had it set out.  Maybe an ISO of 1,600 would have increased the shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action?  If none of this paragraph makes any sense to you, and you're interested in learning more about photography, I'd totally recommend that amazon book I bought.  Click here to check it out.

On another note, I just discovered the usefulness of Picasa web albums.  Rather than simply choosing to "upload" these basketball pictures to my blog, I created a Picasa album and then uploaded the pictures to that album (it's faster than uploading them directly to the blog).  Then I chose the pictures in the album that I wanted to post to the blog.  But, the best part is that other people can download the pictures from your album or easily print off the pictures using their favorite photo printing site.  Here's a link to the Picasa web album I created for these pictures.  Check it out here

I like the idea of putting my pictures in a "cloud" so that if something ever happens to my computer or hard drive, at least my pictures are backed up.  For my blogging friends (Steph and Stacie!) here is how Picasa syncs with blogger:

So any photography advice for me?  Books I should read?  Thoughts on Picasa?  Thoughts on Kevin's basketball skillz?  :)

A new human and some Easter snapshots.

Monday, April 25, 2011
Isn't baby Caleb adorable?  Kevin's cousin Nicole and Pete are going to be such great parents.  I think he may be the first baby that I was around for his parents' engagement, wedding day, and now him!  He's two and a half weeks old and so sweet.  He's so sweet I was even too nervous to hold him, I just watched him from a far and took and snapped some pictures.  Is it just me, or is anyone else scared to hold brand new babies?

Welcome to the family Caleb!

Do you think we had enough camera's and video camera's?  I hope we captured it.  :)

My mom made the most wonderful meal for Easter.  She is an amazing cook, but I honestly think she outdid herself.  Balsamic strawberry salad with homemade fried goat cheese... um... yes please. 

And my dad even set up the tripod and did a full-up family picture.  My mom only gave him two tries to get the shot right since she was in the middle of dinner.  We all managed to avoid blinking.  When does that ever happen?

Happy Easter everyone!

Don't you just want to squeeze them?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter everyone!  Kevin and I got to babysit our niece and nephew last night.  We may be a little bit biased, but common, they're pretty freakin cute, huh?

 And just for fun... some pictures Kevin took of their dog Bailey.  He's a good ol' doggie.

And I couldn't help but snap a few pictures of Journey's black, white, and purple nursery.  So cool and totally fits her little personality.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...