DeFord Christmas Card Take 1
After putting this card together I realized it was a little too serious for our style.  This was just before church a few Sunday's ago and this is what we look like about 3.5 hrs a week, tops.

So I went back to the drawing board and the card below is what we look like the rest of the time.  I even added our house and a little desert landscape to round it out. Yes, Hank would totally wear the outfit below to church if I would let him.

DeFord Christmas Card Take 2
(click twice to enlarge)


I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be a successful Christmas card sender.  I have about 60 pictures of our family from a few years ago when I went as far as printing the pictures but dropped the ball after that.  So the electronic Christmas card will have to do for now until I get a personal assistant.  I think the Christmas card tradition is so great and I love getting cards.  This year I've vowed to send cards back to everyone that has sent one so I don't get cut off of anyone's lists.  So let's get down the business.  

Willie  

I would coin 2011 as the year of the electric guitar renaissance for Willie.  He's back baby.  After many years only playing acoustic instruments he bought the electric guitar of his dreams and has since formed a band called Lowlands. They are on the fast track to fame.  The band just made their first demo, check it out here. 

Willie is still with the same law firm that brought us to Grand Junction and is enjoying his civil litigation work.  We are hoping that he will become partner at this firm and that decision will be made in this upcoming year (our fingers are crossed).  

Willie and I ran the Moab half marathon this year and are going to run it again in March.  

Willie's insatiable appetite for reading is still alive and well, and he built the most beautiful built-in bookcase in our library to house his great collection.  This year Willie and I were both published in an anthology of Mormon poets called Fire in the Pasture.  It's fun to think that a small poetry group is where we first got to know each other in college.

Sally

For the most part, I do a lot of laundry, picking up around the house, making lunches, and snuggling with my boys, but I also have a lot of out of the ordinary things going on.  I started off this year with a bang by going to a week long photography workshop in Santa Fe.  It was such a great experience.  The workshop changed everything for me (photographically speaking).  If you are interested in details you can read about it on my photography blog.  Here is my new website. My life is still consumed with photography and I have developed a deep love of film this year and have acquired some great film cameras.  I even set up a dark room in our basement.

I'm still working as the finance manager for studioCase and enjoy how flexible my job is and, strangely enough, enjoy crunching numbers. I had a wonderful trip to New York on business in Oct. then went back about a month later as a freelance photographer for studioCase on one of their jobs. It was the real deal and such a great experience.  

I'm still loving working out with a trainer 3 times a week and feel the strongest and fittest I ever have.  

My calling at church has been the ward community service coordinator and we have had a year of great service together.  We did a habitat for humanity construction project, a food drive for the local soup kitchen, and adopted 8 families through the salvation army this Christmas.  I'm always overwhelmed by how generous and giving the people in our ward are.  

Wyatt  

Wyatt started 1st grade this year and is quite the scholar. He has taken off as a reader and loves books.  He reads 20 minutes every night and is reading close to a 5th grade reading level.  He loves his teacher, Mrs. Tinkle, who is a friend of ours, and has made good friends in his class.  Wyatt is quite the gymnast and goes to gymnastics once a week where he does all kind of daring feats and gets a great workout.  Wyatt is obedient and helpful.  He loves playing with our neighbors.  I just asked him what he loves to do and he said play on the computer and watch TV.  So he's still a normal little boy. It's not all books for him.  He also has a little electric guitar that he like to plug into Willie's amp and make cool noises with a slide.

Hank  

Hank is full of energy and loves to dress up.  Right now his favorite outfits are his superman costume, a suit with a police badge (secret agent), or his suit with a ball cap (security guard), a darth vader costume and his snow pants. I had to hide his snow pants when it was really hot because he still wanted to wear them as "worker pants". I was afraid he'd get heat stroke.  Hank started pre-school this year and loves it.  He has made friends and loves the art projects and the playing and being read to. The teachers are totally supportive of the crazy outfits he wears and tell me they can't wait to see what he's wearing when he shows up.  Hank is short for his age (1st percentile) but has excellent verbal skills so people always thing he's some kind of baby genius.  He is snuggly, affectionate and imaginative. He's just getting into writing his name and recognizing letters and counting.  He wrote his name in marker on the wood floor but I got most of it out and had a hard time chastising him because it was so cute.  Hank is also in gymnastics and the best in his class.  When I just asked him what his favorite thing to do is, he said opening presents.

In general, life is wonderful.  If i have any complaints it's that we are a little too busy and don't live close enough to our families. Our house is full of laughter and little feet running around and excitement.  There is also a lot of lava spraying, wrestling and jail play.  There are neighbor kids coming in and out and friends stopping by.  Willie and I still love playing music together and practice on the back porch with the 17th St. Band.  We love being involved at church and spending time in the great wilderness where we live.  If you read all the way to the end of this, you are indeed a good friend or are totally bored at work.  Either way, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love, 

The DeFords

Last Sunday something so great happened.  But first, a little back story.

A while back we found out that Lucinda Williams (a beloved musician in our home) was coming to Grand Junction but the bad news is that she was coming on a Sunday.  In an observant Mormon (Latter-day Saint) home what you do on Sunday is an important part of family life.  Depending on your family there are different approaches to keeping the Sabbath day holy.  When I was little, swimming was totally out of the question on a Sunday. I now realize that it was because my grandma had a pool at her house and our Palm Springs vacation spot had a pool and for a time my dad was part owner of a beach club at the lake where we lived.  No swimming was a great way to set Sunday apart from the rest of the week.  In our little family, we don't have to worry about swimming.  My kids are deathly afraid of the water and we don't have a pool.  We do have a few basic guidelines that include the regular no stores, restaurants, and we don't pay to go to concerts on Sunday or run races or participate in sporting events.  So I initially just thought we wouldn't go see Lucinda.  I don't have any objection to good music on Sunday, it's paying to go see a concert that gives me pause.  The last concert Willie and I paid to go to on a Sunday was Steve Earl way back in 2002.

This Sabbath observance subject has recently come up between Willie and I because of BH Photo.  B&H is one of the leading sources for anything photo related. I buy almost everything from them.  The company is run by Hasidic Jews and they close their store and website every Jewish Sabbath and every Jewish holiday.  You can't even place an order online.  It's great to see a business put religious observance first, even if it means loosing tons of money.  Now we aren't Hasidic Jews but I like their intensity. So when we were talking about Lucinda coming to town, I suggested we go a little B and H  and pass on this concert.

In stage two, I tried to win tickets to the Lucinda concert to get around buying them.  In a drawing of 13 people with Willie and I both entered, we still didn't win.  Then when I woke up in the morning the original person that won the tickets couldn't go and we still didn't win.  I had finally accepted that it wasn't going to happen, but I was a little bummed.


Then something wonderful happened.  Our friend, Branden Campbell, texted me asking about if we were going to the concert.  Branden is a friend from my mission and he married my dear friend Emilie.  We have all been on some fun rock 'n roll adventures together. Branden is a real life rock star now, see picture above.  He's in the band Neon Trees and I guess he has major connections because he made a call and got us on the guest list for the concert, totally free.  We could not stop smiling all day.  When we arrived at the concert we had front row seats.  I was right in front of Lucinda. It was the greatest concert ever.  I don't want to gush, but we had so much fun.  I'm all wanting to get back into playing the guitar and learning a million of her songs.

Lucinda Williams is one of the greatest songwriters ever.  She's right up there with Bob Dylan and Neil Young.  She's part of my musical DNA.  When I first started getting into the guitar, I covered a lot of her songs.  Once, when Willie and I were dating, we made out to the album Car Wheels on a Gravel road twice through.  It's one of the greatest albums of all time.  This was my fourth time seeing her in concert. I saw her once at the Bridge School Benefit, once in Boston and once at Red Rocks.  This concert was the best.  Branden Campbell's name will be honored in our family for generations to come.  Now, I'm not saying we got around "breaking the Sabbath".  I am saying that I am so glad we went.  We had so much fun and it was incredibly thoughtful of Branden to get us tickets.  Also, our neighbors jumped right in for babysitting since our pool of LDS babysitters don't work on Sunday.  The Nobles watched the kids until bedtime, then Jon Rizzo came over and put the boys to bed.  This was seriously a team effort of good friends.

I brought my camera even though concert photography isn't my favorite.  I prefer to have the attention of my subjects and there are always things cluttering the picture like microphones and music stands.  Plus concert pictures always look kind of the same (unless there is cool smoke). With that said, when I'm excited about something I can't hold back from taking pictures, so that's just what I did. Here are a few.  These are taken with a 50mm lens and a 24mm lens.  I did not have a zoom.  I was actually standing right in front of her.






I've been wanting to write down a few thoughts recently but seem to have really busy days and exhausted evenings. Now it's a rainy Sunday and I have a few minutes.  I have wanted another baby for several years now and Willie just came on board.  Pregnancy and post-pardum are hard times in our life, I could even describe them as dark times. Despite that, I find myself wanting another child.  There are a lot of reason and that's a post for another day but mostly I love Wyatt and Hank so much that the possibility of loving someone else like that makes me willing to go through the hard times just one more time.  With thoughts of getting pregnant again comes trying to get off my depression medication which leads me to this post.

I have struggles with depression.  I am very open about it and not ashamed.  I am not crazy.  I do not appreciate the stigma that comes along with metal illness.  It so unhelpful.  It's very old school.  If you had diabetes you would probably take insulin, right?  If your brain is not making enough serotonin or your own serotonin is not lasting long enough in your brain then you are depressed.  So you take synthetic serotonin or a drug that extends the life of your current serotonin, right?  I can't believe the crazy things I've heard related to depression, like "just be happy" or "all depression comes from sin" or "you just need more exercise".  You get the picture.  Lame. I have a friend who's fiance said he would not marry her unless she stopped taking anti-depressants. There are also a lot of myths about anti-depressants.  Here is a myth busting article if you are interested.   I have found anti-depressants to be such an answer to prayer for me.  I found a good SSRI with almost no side effects (but not being depressed) and there is a generic so it's about $10 a month.  This medication has returned me to myself.  I feel so balanced, I can feel a full range of emotion. I can cry but I can also stop crying at the appropriate time.  The drug I take, Zoloft, has also been linked to birth defects when taken during pregnancy.

After Wyatt was born I almost immediately fell into a dark depression.  Part of it may have been from the traumatic circumstances following his birth but it did not lift, even as his health improved.  I can seriously say that I barely remember those months after his birth.  I cried so much.  I felt so angry. I wanted to escape. I had horrible anxiety that included irrational fears about Wyatt's safety.  I eventually called the doctor and she had a list of questions she asked me and saw me immediately to treat my depression. After starting on medication my life started to get back to normal and I was happy.  That's when my memories start again.

I took medication for about a year and came off it fine.  After Hank was born everything came back but I started on my medication the week after he was born so I started to feel better in about a month.  I came off the mediation a year after Hank was born and after a few months realized I was not ready and wasn't emotionally coping.  Anyone who was present at the Stratford Christmas in Ephraim that year saw my rock bottom.  I started crying at one point and feel like I didn't stop for two days.  I tried supplements, saw a naturopath and drank fish oil, etc and could not get back to feeling normal.  I was very resistant to go back on the medication (a symptom of being depressed) because it meant that I was dealing with something more permanent than post-pardum depression.  I finally started back on the medication and have felt wonderful and really even ever since.

Last month I started to come off my medication again and about a week and a half after had a surge of sadness return.  The feelings are so familiar.  My temper starts to get short.  I'm irritated easily.  Then I start thinking my life is the worst (my life is so not the worst).  Then uncontrollable crying.  AFter meeting with my doctor there are a few things I have learned.  There is a period of evening out when coming off the medication, like a dip before my brain can get an equilibrium.  Also, if I can not function well without my medication he would recommend I take the risk of taking it in pregnancy.  The medication is a category C which is in the middle of 5 levels ranging from safe to extremely dangerous during pregnancy.

I'm on my way off the medication again and am coming up on two week and feel good. I will go a month before tapering the rest of the way off.  The other day I had the impression to spend time in the sun every day.  After researching it a little I learned that sunlight in your eyes is the best way to make your own serotonin.  Lucky for me we live in a very sunny place, almost all year round. On top of sun, sleep must be a priority (no midnight releases of twilight for me), good nutrition and fish oils and a multi.  Also, a major positive force for me is intense exercise.

I am not a missionary for anti-depresasnts and by all means if someone can find a natural way to feel better, then do it.  On the other hand, if someone is suffering from depression and their family is suffering because of it, I think meeting with a doctor and getting some help could really turn things around.

I am supposed to be catching up on work right now but I thought I'd call it a night and write a little about my trip.  It will probably take several posts, and lots of pictures but I have to record it all.  It was an amazing experience.  I was busy this time which was fun.  Last year I felt like Willie and I did a lot of walking around and sight seeing.  This year I was always headed somewhere with a purpose.  I got 5 rolls of film back today and spent a long time scanning. Getting those images makes it all official.  I thought I'd write down what I did every day so I don't forget. I'll delve into details later.  I also got some pictures that I just love.


Tuesday:
Up at 4:30am to go to the airport.  Hank and Wyatt wanted to come and never went back to sleep.
Slept almost the whole way on both flights except for some free on board facebooking.
Took a cab into the city.
Said hello to everyone at the office.
Walked to the camera store to pick up my Hasselblad rental.
Went to a recommend Indian restaurant with all my luggage on my way to meet Sara.
While having public transportation issues, Sara picked me up in her car (relief).
Sara and I drove to Madison Square Garden to see Neon Trees and Duran Duran.
Had so much fun.
Partied backstage with Neon Trees and had a short but sweet time with Duran Duran before heading home.
Collapsed into bed.

Wednesday:
Phone batteries died so alarm didn't go off.
Rushed to get up.
Ran in Frye boots with Travis to catch our train.
Caught train, but got shin splints and sore muscles.
Headed to meet with the studioCase accountant, still sweaty from run and no makeup or hair done.
Took a cab back to studioCase.
Worked the whole rest of the day in much needed office quietness.
Realized I was getting a head cold.
Went home with Travis and had a delicious dinner Sara prepared.
Cleaned kitchen, unpacked and went to bed.

Thursday:
No running to train, just brisk walking.
Rained.
Bought a lot of Kleenex.  So much snot.
Took pictures.
Barely worked.
Work meeting at delicious taco restaurant.
Navigated public transportation to New York Camera club.
Took a 3 hr darkroom private instruction session from the delightful Anders Goldfarb
Had so much fun.
Navigated back to studioCase to meet Virginia Stratford and Travis for a Stratford cousins dinner.
Had so much fun talking to Virginia and talking life, issues, love, family, etc.
Had a 61 minute Chinese massage, drippy nose and all. It only hurt a little and mostly felt so great.
Ate a delicious magnolia bakery cup cake at grand central station.
Walked home by iphone light with Travis through the trees.
Collapsed into bed.

Friday:
Up early to make it into the city for my printing class.
Took a 3 hr digital printing class at the Photo Plus Expo.
So sleepy.  Flashbacks of college geology and the temple movie.
Very interesting class.  Lots of information.  I must get an Epson printer.
Returned to studioCase in time for an in office artisan pizza meal.
Took portraits of the team.
Left en mass for the studioCase fall Gala.
Prepared vegetables and food with Sara and Amy for the party.
Photographed the party while the light was good.
Cleaned up after the party.
Looked through images from the party.
Streamed some TV shows and went to bed.

Saturday:
Slept in until 9am.
Went on a beautiful run with Sara and Enoch in the light snow.
Edited images.
Watched the snow fall.
Chatted with Willie and the kids.
Watched more snow fall and worried that there would be travel complications.
Went to Travis and Sara's ward Halloween party.
Packed.
Stayed up late watching Vampire Diaries.
Slept in my clothes so I didn't have to get up any earlier than 4:20am the next morning.

We've had a really great week around here.  Having two birthday's so close together plus the intense excitement of Wyatt and Hank has made it so fun.

Hank's party was last night and the lighting conditions were not my favorite but sometimes you have to take pictures even if the lighting is not good.  The subject matter made up for it.

Hank insisted on a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting and ice cream and then didn't have any of it.  We had a quick jump  on the Noble's trampoline in the dark. Hank got a boat that he loved so much he started playing with it in the bath tub then decided to take off all his clothes and take a bath during the party.


Wyatt was so excited about his birthday and his party this year.  In general, he is excited about everything but he was counting down the days.  Wyatt invited some friends from school and this year decided that he wasn't going to invite girls, except for Kate Rizzo, because she is not girly and a good friend.  We had a hard to break pinata.  The Nobles (who were out of town) let the kids jump on their trampoline.  They had an impromptu jam session and just played and played.  Wyatt loved all his gifts and ate so much candy, cake and ice cream.

Wyatt is such a sweet kid.  He has tender feelings.  He has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. He is obedient and helpful.  He is so passionate about reading and getting so good at it. He is such a joy to us and we love him so much.  I can't believe he was born 7 years ago. It seems like he's just always been with us.  He is a great big brother to Hank.  Tonight when I was calling Hank to come get his teeth brushed, Hank said his legs didn't work anymore and he couldn't come. Wyatt went and got him and carried him into the bathroom to me.  I love seeing Wyatt and Hank play and make each other laugh.  We are looking forward to another birthday party in a few days for Hank.

We recently found out that our good friends are getting a divorce. It's affected me on a lot of levels.  It's depressing.  It has also made me so thankful for my and Willie's marriage.  I'm really happy that we have each other. I don't have any recent pictures of us together, so I took a few with my iphone.  I think we may need to head over to Justin Hackworth's studio to get some of us.  Most of the ones I have are from our wedding and engagement and I love them because I was so foxy in my younger days, but I wanted something that shows us now. I think about how much better we know each other now after so many years of life together.  I'm planning on many more.




Last Friday when we were in Utah the boys had their first sleep over at Grandma's house.  My mom took the boys so Willie and I could go to the Rooftop Concert Series in Provo. It's a great outdoor concert put on by our friend Justin Hackworth and some of his local friends.  It was so fun spending the night with friends and good music and staying up late.  The sleep over was harder for me than them. I worried that Hank would be up in the night and miss me and I was worried that they would be cold.  I'm kind of a worrier.  So I got up first thing in the morning thinking they would be up wondering where I am.  Well they were both still asleep and they had a great time.  Hank got to sleep in a pretty princess bed.  I love my boys and miss them when we are apart, but they were just thrilled to spend the night at grandma's.


Wyatt started his first day of school.  He has been excited for a long time.  His teacher is one of our friends.  Her name is Mrs. Tinkle and I took the pictures at her wedding.  Hank and I really miss Wyatt during the day.  School starts at 8:45 and he's gone until 3:45. Hank starts asking about picking him up around 1pm so it's a long wait.  Our neighbor's Liam and Ezra go to preschool a few afternoons which is also hard for Hank.  Hank starts preschool next week.  Isn't Wyatt the cutest?  On the third day of school he lost his first tooth.  He got to go to the school nurse and she gave him a little treasure box to keep the tooth in. I love how Wyatt is so excited about everything.  He's really looking forward to his birthday party.


Willie took this picture. It's one of many in a bubble beard series, and I just love it.  I can't express how much we love our kids.



I just got back from a trip to Utah that I really enjoyed.  I'm so glad to be back home but sometimes I get a bit of the blues.  Also, the reason I'm blogging about this is because I want to blog more and facebook less.  I'm a facebook junkie.  I love it. I hate it.  It's my favorite way to waste time.  It's just so fleeting and pointless.  I think the facebook golden era has passed.  In defense of facebook, i've also learned a lot about film photography from a few great facebook groups I'm in.  I just think writing down my life in paragraphs instead of status updates is more fulfilling.  It lasts.  I have two years of blog books to get printed (must budget it in) and hopefully will make one for every year.

Back to the blues.  I feel kind of lonely when I get back. It doesn't help that Willie is in New Mexico for work right now but not having constant adult, stimulating conversation makes things seem so quiet.  I really like being around family and friends.  We laugh so much.  We have deep talks.  I just don't have that enough in my regular life.

I miss having cake and icecream almost every night. It's hard to get back into a no sugar lifestyle.

A week left me so behind on work.  I don't see the end of the tunnel yet.

I miss Midway's climate plus Amy and Brian's AC.  It's hot here and our cooler doesn't help much.

Okay, this one is big.  When I spend time in my sister's condo and my brother's beautiful new house and my mom's great house with her yard and all her views, I want more.  The only way I can explain it is that I feel a wave of materialism.  I am dissatisfied with my house.  I want to remodel.  I want better lighting, more windows, nice tile instead of cracked fake brick linoleum.  You get the picture.  So the way I deal with this is to come home and clean and de-clutter my house as well as I can and let a few weeks pass.  That usually does the trick. I actually really like our house and it just keeps getting better. It just could be improved, endlessly and all with money we need to save.

So right now I am cleaning up my desk in hopes that I can talk myself out of getting a whole new desk setup at Ikea next month.  I'm working on the chi of my desk. I think clean and organized will help a lot.  I'm not even going to take a picture of my desk because it's so uninviting.  Let me paint a picture with words.  My desk is the size of a long folding table, it actually is a long folding table, and it has my beloved cinema display screen, a scanner, mouse and keyboard, two external hard drives and piles and piles of negatives, prints, disks and studioCase papers.  Stay tuned for a picture of it under control.

Want to see pictures of the lovely places I was just visiting?  I'll do a full post on Calder's place.  I also got great coverage of my mom's place on film.  So we must wait.

Here are two from Calder and Starr's house.  All the windows and the excellent lighting and clean layout is so great.


The condo is a beautiful place.  Everything is new and top of the line in quality.  The linens are soft and of the highest thread count.  Evening walks on the golf course are the highlight of the day.  I find myself a little annoyed that golfers are on the golf course durning the day. I just wish it was our park.  At night you can hear the sound of the stream through the windows.



Riding in Grandma's car with the top down.


Cute Stella after a bath with her cousins.  She's such a talker.


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