Archive: December 2010   |   View all recent posts

Happy Birthday, Mia! (... and a Mattagor Replacement?)
WHO: Mia   |   WHAT: Dogs   |   WHEN: December 31, 2010   |   WHERE: Casa de Nicolosi
2 years ago today, New Year's Eve 2008, our (first) little girl made her debut.  I feel a little guilty now knowing that I really didn't want her when we first met her in March of 2009.  I know that sounds bad, and it's not that she wasn't adorable at 11 weeks old. I mean, c'mon... all puppies cute at that age, right?  It's just that I had my heart set on getting another Yorkie since the last one I had was such a great dog, and we were at the breeder that day to see one that was only 4wks old to see if she would be the one we would bring home a few weeks later.  While we were there, the breeder lady had a brother & sister Morkie (Maltese + Yorkie) that were ready to go, and as soon as the little girl snuggled up on Kylie's lap and went to sleep... I knew any notion I had of getting a Yorkie was slipping away right before my eyes. Kylie was putty, and that Morkie pup knew it.

We left and discussed that night what we were going to do, and I still put up a little bit of a fight for a Yorkie.  In the end I compromised, as many husbands do in marriage, and we got the little Morkie.  And to this day, I couldn't be happier because really I've got the best of both worlds... 95% of the time Mia's a fantastic and the sweetest little girl, and the other 5% of the time when she's being less than stellar?  I just sit back, smile, and I tell Kylie, "Well, you picked her."


Poor Mia's had a rough few days towards the end of the year.  Kylie likes to dress her up, and she swears Mia likes it, too.  Yeahhhh... don't Mia's expressions just scream excitement and delight at being paraded around in holiday clown suites?



Hey, exciting news, though!  I think we may have found a Mattagor replacement.  My mom got us an Ohio State gnome for Christmas (as a gag gift, I hope?), and while he's not as regal as Matty was, he might just do.  He's in training right now, but the jury's still out...


... and if Mia's the jury, well, things don't look good for the gnome.  They kinda look related in this next photo, though, don't they?


And to wrap up this post, below are a couple of my favorite images of Mia from the early days.







I still haven't completely forgiven Kylie for the day this next one happened.



See?  More Christmas outfits.  Sorry, Mia.










And finally, this was our first introduction to Mia at the breeders.  This is when I was pretty sure this would be the dog we'd end up coming home with soon.  And I'm glad we did.


Happy birthday, little girl.  Enjoy the next couple months while you still rule the roost around here.  All that's about to change in April.


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Tradition + New Twist = Nearly Dead Tradition
WHO: Me & the In-Laws   |   WHAT: Personal, Random   |   WHEN: December 31, 2010   |   WHERE: Casa de Nicolosi
I'm a big fan of traditions.  Well, except when they're no fun and/or don't make any sense. Otherwise, count me in.  In fact, Kylie and I have talked a couple times about what traditions we'd like to have or start for our family, especially around the holidays.  She started with the idea of getting a new crystal ornament for the tree every Christmas.  Sure, why not.  Sounds good.  My turn.  I suggested we buy me a new $500+ Apple product every year at Christmas. 

[insert sound of crickets here]

Okay, okay... maybe I didn't really suggest that.  In fact, I'm sure I didn't... I was just thinking it.  We're still ironing out what our traditions will be going forward, but one thing Kylie's family does every time they get together around the holidays is gather around a table and put a puzzle together. I've grown to enjoy this piece of familial bonding, so this year I thought it might be fun to take it to the next level.  Well, as much as you can take puzzle-putting-together to the next level.  This year I thought I'd surprise everyone and add a little personalization to this holiday ritual by getting one of my images made into a puzzle.  Great idea... but a little short on the execution.  Not many people think about this (including me prior to this Christmas), but there's a bit of an art to picking the right image(s) to get made into a puzzle.  Anyone joker can just pick an image they like, and that's exactly what this joker did.  I was a bit short-sided in thinking ahead to what it would be like to actually put the puzzle of the image I selected together.  The key is to pick an image you like and one that has adequate visual details and contrast throughout to make it challenging but still enjoyable to put together.  Instead, the image I picked of the Portland Lighthouse from our trip to New England this fall had a LOT of monochromatic sky and a LOT of choppy water and a LOT of similarly colored rock.  And because of that, it was a total beat down to put this debacle together.  My puzzling gaffe nearly killed this family tradition.


See what I mean?  There seemed to be a bagillion pieces that looked the same.


Even Mia could barely watch for very long.



Sloooowly, it started taking shape.  Unfortunately, and this may be a first, we weren't able to finish it before Kylie's parents and grandma had to leave to head back to Indiana.  Even worse, that left just Kylie & I to work on it here and there over the last couple days.  I secretly plotted to accidentally spill one of the 16 (seriously, 16) glasses of Pomegranate 7-Up I've had the past week all over the puzzle and declare it unputtogetherable, but that woulda just been selfish.  How could I deprive Kylie of the countless hours of back & neck ache joy she's experienced workin' on this friggin' beautiful torture treasure.


Finally, 5 days, several Advil and a pair of semi-permanently crossed-eyes later, we finished it this evening.  Just in time to tear it apart tomorrow so Kylie can have the dining room table back for a get-together she's hosting this weekend.


All-in-all, I'm not gonna lie, it wasn't as fun putting this thing together.  At the end of the day (or 5), though, it's kinda cool to see an image I took as a 1008 piece puzzle.  Would I get another puzzle made?  Absolutely.  Will I be smarter in my image selection?  Dear Lord, I hope so.

BTW, if anyone watching at home wants to try this, the place I used to get the puzzle made was www.portraitpuzzles.com.  Uploading the image and ordering was a breeze, the quality of the puzzle was great, I got it in a couple days, and I like the option to have it shipped in a tin box... perfect for a gift or keep sake.


Finally, speaking of gift, if anyone wants this puzzle now that we're done with it, maybe I'll do a freebie giveaway.  Let's see (if it's not obvious yet, it will be shortly that I'm making this up on the fly), how 'bout the first person to guess (Price Is Right style) how many pieces of the puzzle have nothing but sky/clouds on them (meaning no water, lighthouse buildings, or rocks anywhere on the pieces... just sky) wins this thing, and I'll ship it to you free of charge.  My [devious] "gift" to you.  Just leave a comment below with your guess, and I'll announce the (un)lucky winner New Year's Day.  Oh yeah, only one guess per person.


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Kevin, Sara & the Gang ~ Dallas Family Photographer
WHAT: Families, Kids   |   WHEN: December 28, 2010
The holiday fog is starting to lift, and things are slowly getting back to 'normal' around here.  I meant to post these images of Kevin, Sara and their kiddos before I closed up shop before Christmas, but I musta mentally checked out a day or two before I officially turned out the lights. 

I've known Sara for several years now through my work at TI, and her & Kevin are such fun people to hang out with.  In fact, we'll be joining them and a few other fun couples for an early New Year's Eve dinner in a couple days, and we're so looking forward to it.  Oh, and did I mention how cool their kids are?  Since they know me and have gotten comfortable around me, they're pretty easy to work with on the other side of the lens, and we had a blast playing around up in McKinney a few weeks ago.  Well, maybe an Arctic blast.  We moved their session up a day to avoid a cold front that was coming in the next day, but it was still pretty frigid by the end of our camera date.  They were all troopers, though, and we got some awesome images to show for it.  Here are a few of my favorites from that day.

This first image was made possible by...


... mom running a stick through dad's head.  I love it when parents can be silly with their kids; it's so helpful in getting natural, authentic smiles.











Sometimes ya gotta do a little of this...


... to get a little of this.






Love this brother-sister image.








Fantastic moment.



Considering it was probably in the upper 40's a this point, I'm amazed we were able to still get such great images.  These guys were much tougher than I woulda been.









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Merry Christmas
WHO: The Nicolosis   |   WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: December 23, 2010



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A Bittersweet Goodbye... So long, Mattagor.
WHO: Mattagor   |   WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: December 19, 2010   |   WHERE: Casa de Nicolosi
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  Saddly the time was Saturday night, and the activity was another white elephant gift exchange with the couples from our church foundation group, and a bittersweet goodbye to Mattagor.  It was almost a year ago to the day that our family grew by one inanimate member during the last white elephant gift exchange we had with the same group of folks.  That was the night we brought home Mattagor, and what a glorious night that was.  We (and by 'we' I mean 'I') quickly grew fond of this beautiful half lion, half bird (falcon?), and he sat proudly on my desk in my office at home for several weeks, keeping me company while I edited photos (and occasionally voiced tirades at Photoshop).  Granted, he wasn't much a of a conversationalist, but he didn't need words to be understood.  His quiet grace & dignity and his piercing blue eyes spoke volumes.  We were buds.

Anyway, over the course of the next two months, unfortunately "Matty" ended up in the spare bedroom closet when he became a little too distracting (or in some cases, frightening) for some of my visiting clients.  Some people are just intimidated by his awesomeness.  I get that.  So, out of public view he went for the better part of the last 10 months.

When news broke 2 weeks ago that we were having another white elephant gift exchange with our foundation group, I knew what I had to do.  It was a difficult decision, but I new Mattagor deserved better than a spare closet.  And, as you all know, if you love someone/something, you have to set it free.  And so I did.  Saturday night, my buddy Ray was blessed to take Matty home with him.  And for a second, I was grateful... I thought Ray would give Mattagor the life I couldn't.  I thought maybe he'd even bring him back for next year's exchange, and I was even a little hopeful I might somehow be reunited.  But about 5 seconds after Ray acquired Matty, he unceremoniously announced he couldn't wait to give him away as the worst gift in his own family's upcoming gift exchange.  I felt cheated.  And sad.  For Mattagor.  And then I forgot about the whole thing 5 minutes later when we all decided to go get some dessert.

What can I say?  The only thing that trumps ceramic friends is chocolate.  And my wife, of course (Hi, honey!).

To wrap up this nonsensical post, I enjoyed the last day or two with Mattagor before I gave him away, and here's a couple quick images.  In this first one, I asked him to sit proudly on a wooden pedestal in front of our Christmas tree, and of course, he was a pro.  That's what he does.  All. Day. Long.  BTW, the N's in the background were a little experiment where I cut out a circle of card stock and then cut an "N" out of that circle to put it over my lens when I took this photo.  It's an old school trick, but it gives you a kinda cool result when the out-of-focus lights in the background take on the shape of the cut-out.


Don't let this next image fool you... Mia & Matty weren't exactly best buds.  I can only deduce from Mia's incessant barking at Matty that she either 1) felt threatened by him, or 2) couldn't understand why Mattogor wouldn't talk back to her.  With the help of a little treat, I did get them both to sit still for one photo, though.


And just for fun, here's two more images of the tree... one with an 'N' cut-out over my lens...


... and another with a star cut-out over my lens.



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