After two trips to Best Buy to get a firewire cable (I bought the wrong one the first time), I proudly present a video short of last night's graduation. It's just a few clips, but I think you'll get the basic idea of Sam the Ham. We love you Hammy, I mean Sammy! :)
Tonight Sam graduated from Pre-K. He was excited all day and couldn't wait to get his tassel. Jack was even looking forward to tonight's "gradulation." The ceremony took place at a local church and was complete with slide show, singing (including a Kindergarten Rap) and diploma distribution. Bill's sister Patty and her daughter Stevie came all the way from South Carolina for the show, and it was a treat. I'll have video soon (something about needing a firewire cable), but I can tell you that Sam took a bow after every number. Naturally, he was the only one bowing and you could see him saying: "Thank you, thank you very much." Wonder where he gets that from?
Wish I had more photos from tonight, but I made a rookie graduation ceremony mistake - I pinned myself in the center of the pew and couldn't extricate myself once the program started. And, of course there was a microphone stand right in my eye line so every photo I wanted had a stupid microphone in the way. Oh well. The video should be better anyway.
Needless to say, I think Sam went to sleep with his tassel in hand, and of course I have Sam's diploma for his scrapbook. Yes, I'm finally in one! Thanks to Aunt Patty for this pic
I had the pleasure of photographing the First United Methodist Church of Suwanee's preschool classes this year. The kids ranged in ages from 2 to 4 years old and were exceptionally well-behaved. My niece Shea came with me to serve as my photography assistant, and I'm so glad she did. I couldn't have done it without her. Phew!
It was an amazing learning experience for me on a variety of levels, most significantly a wonderful exercise in personality mapping. I only closely observe my two kids daily, so it was a hoot to see all these little kids with VERY different personalities. Sadly it was over in a snap, but the parents' reaction to the photos has been great. Here are some of my favorites. Thanks to Miss Tammy for being a wonderful host!
Besides my own children, I think the little girl in this post is my next most photographed child. She is the daughter of our neighbors up the street, and I just love taking pictures of her - can you blame me? She's been my subject for photography classes, my recent preschool shoot and now here.
Nadira (5) is only about two weeks older than Sam, so of course I've already betrothed them in my head. Her mother, who I completely adore, also told me recently that Nadira listed Sam and Jack as two of her best friends in a little journal she keeps, so we're part-way there already. :)
Anyway, I was lucky enough to photograph the rest of her gorgeous family two weekends ago -- here are some of my faves.
Love the look on little Corey's face above. I don't think he's impressed.
This week (Thursday and Friday) Bill, the kids and I attended my brother Ian's Army basic training graduation in Fort Jackson, SC. My brother's wife Angela (6 months pregnant), daughter, my dad, and step-mom drove up from Miami/Tampa, respectively, and my oldest brother Joel drove down from Philly. Lucky for us it's also only about 35 minutes south of where Bill's sister lives so we've seen a whole lot o' family on this trip. Unfortunately, we were just shy of everyone -- missing my brother Jason et al who is home recovering from surgery. Nonetheless, it was great to see everyone who made the trip.
The last two days were amazing. While I consider myself patriotic, I've never been one to pay that much attention to our military. Shame on me, I know. My dad, grandfathers and uncles served, and I've had friends join various branches of the armed services, but I didn't really have that strong of an opinion one way or another -- it certainly wasn't for me personally. But, after this week, I feel much different.
Ian (28) has slowly but surely gotten himself together over these last few years. He's gone back to college, married, taken on responsibilities as a step-parent and matured before our very eyes (although he'd still prefer someone else to do his laundry). And, while he's still that same kid I've known all my life, I believe the Army has helped him take that next step -- as I'm sure it has for all of those 1,300 young men and women I saw before me yesterday and today. These are courageous, self-sacrificing Americans who enlisted during wartime and who take their new role as protectors of our land and people very seriously. I'm so proud my brother has joined their ranks. He still has 20 more weeks of training (and safety) before he's stationed somewhere (hopefully Georgia, as in state of) for his next post, and this will come either immediately before or right after the birth of his first child, Liam, this September. That's a lot for this young family or any family to handle, but I'm confident my brother is prepared.
Anyway, below are some pics from the trip. My boys are so excited they have a real live "army guy" in their family. Come to think of it, I am too. Way to go brother! Above was the soldiers' entrance. No one was on the field at the time -- it was quiet. Then, someone yelled over the loud speakers, "ARE YOU READY TO SEE YOUR SOLDIERS???" as colored smoke bombs were lobbed from the forest that lined the parade grounds. Seconds later 1,000+ soldiers and their drill sergeants came pouring out through the trees and smoke. Now, I ask you -- is your hair standing up on the back of your neck? It was incredible, and of course I immediately burst into tears. The roar of the crowd was deafening.
First hug with mom -- thank goodness for a long lens. I was so afraid I was going to miss this!
Hold on tight
I love this photo of my dad and Ian. Goes to show you that you're always a kid to your parents, no matter how old you get -- I just love that. I really thought my dad was going to explode with pride.
Private Jack, and
Pamela and Ian. Never get tired of seeing Vandervalk in print on a uniform!
Today Sam tested for his orange belt in TaeKwan Do. He's been going for about about a year now, but just recently moved to this center closer to our home. I love going to these and watching Sam strut his stuff. He was a little nervous about breaking his board with a kick, but luckily Jack was there to remind him that "Andersons never give up." Good thing for that. The test was at a local high school so had to crank up the ISO to avoid using my flash - apologies for the grain.
Sam broke the board on his first try, and we celebrated with a trip to the soft play area at our local mall. Way to go Sam! Collecting himself before the test. He's in the zone.
Trying to fly - actually just some warm up jumping jacks
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