soldiers mail... rush like hell

Sixty one years ago, today, January 23rd, my Gran & Pop were married.


In the fall of 2013, my aunt let me borrow all of the love letters my Pop wrote to my Gran in 1951/1952.  He was in the army and stationed in Massachusetts.  He had already been to war (the Korean War) and lived through some incredibly difficult things.  Yet the sweet, young, and even a touch naive tone of his letters amazed me as I went through.  I adored reading his words in a way I didn't know him, and anticipating what my Gran probably was writing back to him (since we don't have her letters).

young-love-letters I've gone back and forth about sharing these next stories, but they feel significant, so I'm going to.  A few odd things happened to me (and my husband rolls his eyes when I tell these stories) however, when I received the letters they seemed out of order - things in the wrong envelopes, mostly.  I categorized all of them, put them in the right envelopes and even made a check off sheet with each one.  I put them away to take back out a few days layer.  When I took them back out they were 100% out of order again.  No one touched them.  Letter #14 was in #2's envelope, not simple misses, but huge incorrect ones.  I put them back together again... but it just felt odd.  I'm a logical person.  I'm an organized person.  I make mistakes, but I don't put #14 in #2, ha!


To continue... I took pictures of all of the letters. I really took my time, doing just a few on any given day... so I can thoroughly read them, and take special care to shoot the details.  Finally, after months of doing this, I was ready to create a book from the 200+ images I had shot, edited, viewed. I even typed up each one with his words, misspellings, etc. When I went to the file with all of the images, there were only 20 files in the folder.  The rest were gone, just gone.  Like I said, I'm organized - and that includes digitally, too. I haven't ever lost a client's images or personal images. I double back everything up to both an online site & a 2nd external hard drive.  These images were G.O.N.E.  Take from this what you will - but quite honestly, I don't lose files.  Anyhow, I reshot all of the letters in one afternoon and it probably saved me time in the long run because it was a bit more orderly, better consistent light, etc.  But it's still strange....


My Pop passed on my birthday, in 2007.  My Gran is still here with us.  They were/are really fun and loving grandparents, each with a bit of an edge to their personalities - helping to make me the fiery and passionate person I am today. I have so many wonderful memories - drinking coffee when my mom wouldn't let me, eating ice cream for breakfast and frequent visits to the dollar store with my Gran (she got a dollar store allowance from Pop).  The way my Pop sat in one spot in their kitchen and him coming into the house, in the fall, in his referee uniform. In his older years, I once put all of his beer in the basement so he'd have to get more exercise.  Everyone in the family recalls him being "so mad" at me, but he wasn't.  It amused him, I saw it in his eyes. He knew I loved him.  Their home was the first place I drove my car to when getting my license and that same home is now my sister's.


The two of them... they loved each other, alot.  They could also argue and fight like the best of 'em! He began most of the letters with "My Dearest Darling" and in one even told her he'd "never have been drunk in front of her if he knew she would be there and that he swore to never do it again"... let's revert to how I put his case of beer in the basement so he'd get exercise...  These are just so neat to read and makes me connect with their thoughts and actions even more.



Thanks to the internet I learned some new acronyms: SMRLH - "Soldiers Mail Rush Like Hell"


So what did I do with all of these images? On Christmas I gave my Gran a book of all of the letters.  Artifact Uprising has these beautiful, simple, and old world feeling softcover books.  I knew they'd be the perfect choice. I printed the books in size 8x6.  They are wonderful and I got a few copies to share with family.


The will forever be together in Sea Isle City...


Christmas Morning Tips...

I occasionally post on Clickin Mom's blog with tips, tricks, and fun posts about me...This was on their blog just a few days ago - so I wanted to share with my clients, as well. I shared this slideshow after Christmas last year, so if it feels like a repeat... it's because it is ;)! _________________________________________________ Christmas morning.  Everyone is looking top notch, straight out of bed, right? Well, not so much, but that doesn't mean it’s not worth remembering!

I typically spend my morning behind the camera watching my two kids open their presents through the viewfinder while missing out on the memories because I’m so busy trying to preserve them.   I'm not even in the pictures -- so no one knows I'm there, but my poor husband is front and center for the whole event.

Last year, when going through my camera settings, I decided to explore the 'interval timer' further.   The heavens opened and I realized I didn't need to take pictures during the upcoming Christmas morning, the camera could do the work for me with just a bit of guidance.

So I set my camera up in the corner (on a coffee table with books piled underneath my 24-70mm lens to keep it propped up where I needed it) and I set the interval times to take an image once every 30 seconds.  These images are by no means perfect.  They are noisy, the light gets harsh in the middle and there is a golden yellow lamp glow.  You know what they are, though?  Real life.  Our morning.


Seriously.  Do this. This year! It's for your kids.  It's their memories and THEY deserve to have YOU in their memories.

What you need:

Camera with an interval timer A room with light (I'm not even saying decent light, this is your Christmas morning, not a photo-shoot!  Memories are memories whether you get perfect light or not!)



Coffee Table and some random stuff to jam under your lens to keep it upright and in place OR if you want to be fancy, a tripod

Some sweet pajamas, coffee, and maybe a hair tie...



1. Set your f/stop to be a bit more shallow then you typically shoot  (I used f/2.8 for these shots, but I was shooting at 24mm from decently far away.  This year I plan to use f/4.0 or f/5.6 ). 2. Focus on someone in front of the tree/where the presents will be and then switch your camera into manual focus so that focus stays put.  I actually set the focus the night before and used my husband to stand in front of the tree.

3. Set your camera to take one image every 30 seconds for about an hour and a half.  It did not take us that long to open presents but I wanted the time to be a bit longer because I could always stop the camera but didn't want to restart the timer.

4. Have the camera begin taking pictures right before the kids enter and finish it after the kids have made their messes and left.

5. Position your fine self in a spot where you look half way decent (practice this beforehand -- please don't make your family wait long-- you are beautiful, even before your teeth have been brushed!)

6. Enjoy your Christmas morning and don't touch the camera!

No interval timer? Set up the camera like I mentioned in steps 1 & 2 and buy a cheap remote.  Every 30 seconds or so, snap a shot.

Your pictures should show an awesome stop motion display of your Christmas morning with you included... scissor finding, kid helping, and happy smiles included.  Practice doing this beforehand.  Practice one more time.  And maybe once more.  Then, let go of perfection.  You bought your camera to get memories, now go get them!


The Story of the Acorn Fairy

Abby and I, with Owen in tow - complete with snacks- went out to Brandywine Creek State Park to take her 4 year old pictures.  She was under the assumption we were going on a fairy adventure.  I did not mention to her that the camera was coming, in fact, I didn't even pull it out for the first 20 minutes or so.  I wanted her to feel like a fairy and really get into playing.  Play and imagine my sweet Abby did..... Abigail has an imagination like I have never seen before.  When she's lonely she plays with her "best friend" Emily.  Emily takes on many shapes and forms.  Abby realizes she is pretend - but "they" have so much fun.  While at the park, and in the woods, Abby didn't need Emily.  Here is Abby's story of the most perfect fairy adventure....   I didn't suggest, just watched and interacted.


"The Fairy Adventure" by: Abigail Stottmann Slightly Adapted by : Mommy

I was flying and turning around to wake up my piggie.  My piggie was purple and cried "wwee wee wee wee".  I was not able to wake the piggie up.  I held the little piggie - and put it down in his nice soft bed - his bed was hard and crunchy.  Follow me sweet piggies.  I held them all at once.  On the way out of the woods, I sat under a tree to think - the animals were hiding, but were all around.  They were sitting quietly. They were so sleepy from our long journey.  I had 12 bunnies and 4 piggies.

I was hiding and peeking out from behind the tree.  I was thinking alittle about my piggies and bunnies flying to church.  They needed to 'jump and jump and jump'.

I stopped to look over at the flowers.  I let the bunnies and piggies free to run and jump in the beautiful wildflowers.  I ran to go get them and reached up to the sky to catch some fireflies.  There were none to catch though.

I found a new green acorn in the trees that had not yet fallen. I needed to help it to grow.  I used my magical powers. My bunnies and piggies help me to get some magic by using their noises.  I call to 'they' and say "BUNNIES AND PIGGIES! I NEED HELP!!".  They come over to me and sit in a circle around me and make their sounds to help the tree to grow.

When the day is over and my crown has been hurting me the piggies and bunnies make me a new crown for the next day.

Then we took the bunnies and piggies to the "House with Pancakes" (IHOP).  She requested chocolate chip baby cakes to share with them.