Sunday, December 26, 2010

A December of Laughter and Love

Another Christmas come and gone. Each year my holiday cheer seems to intensify and I try to attend as many Christmas-related events as possible, planning time to see extended family and friends. It's certainly been a busy month, one that will make the scrapbooking and art journaling all-the-more rewarding this year.

Nearby resident's Christmas display

Lights at the Magic Kingdom

Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Mom and Rick visit from Michigan

Gingerbread house at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Seeing the ICE! exhibits at the Gaylord Palms Resort

Andy, my cousin from Seattle, visits Orlando; we pose for a picture with Grandpy.

Attending Dusty's Christmas concert at the First Baptist Church in Lakeland

First Christmas in our house.

James' Mom, Cindy, experiences the Dancing Lights for the first time.

My nephew's joy. :)

Jolyon and his oldest brother Julian.
An appropriate gift to my nephew Gabriel.
Angela makes a new friend this Christmas.
My dad and stepmom flew down from MA to surprise me!!

No Christmas is complete without a gingerbread latte.

I hope your holiday season has been filled with family, friends, laughter, and love!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Smartphones and Social Networking: What You Want Is What You Get

I’ve had my smart phone – my darling Droid X – for just about five months now. And I don’t know how I ever lived without it. My calendars are synced, my personal and school email accounts arrive on my phone with a pleasant notification alert, my quest for visiting every Starbucks in Orlando is easier via the built-in GPS, and I have an electronic to-do list that happily taunts me throughout the day.

As I tout my newfound technological expertise and know-it-all aura, my husband views me as more of a technological lemming. Because, let’s face it: I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with technology. Mostly my loving it and it hating me.

Aside: According to the app that I downloaded on my beloved Droid X, a “lemming” is a small arctic rodent noted for periodic mass migrations and mass drownings. In my pre-Droid X life, I lived in a world where many minutes were lost sifting through pages of a dictionary or firing up my slug-speed laptop to access the site. But now, friends, I can confirm the definition of my word of choice by pressing one button on my mobile device’s home page.

Aside to the aside: I knew what a lemming was…

I had a point with this entry. Oh right. Social media.

While I argued with myself about the topic before, I’m clearly the epitome of the Millenial generation: the cell phone-clad kids in their Facebooking and texting glory, the love of constant connection and the social infusion of life onto this 5” x 3” device.

The difference between myself and most Millenials? When sending a text message or conversing via Facebook, I use full sentences, proper punctuation, and appropriate syntax. (And, for the record, I do neither while driving.) Not adhering to simple sentence structure, punctuation rules, and basic grammar is the quickest way to make me “hide” your Facebook commentary. In some extreme cases, I’ve deleted people entirely because they’re offering nothing to the community (I’ve talked about this topic before), and when I read their posts, I want to smear my red editing pen all over the screen of my phone.

In fact, if you’re one of those people who struggle with forming a sentence before you update your Facebook status (and actually care how you're perceived), you might want to consider “friending” any of the following pages:
Moving on.

I’ve also discovered a slight irritation bubbling up when someone calls me. My device’s ringtone is fairly foreign; most people know that emailing is the best way to elicit my response. I mean, the nerve of someone actually calling my cell phone. (Wait, what? People still use cell phones as phones?) Well, the hell with them – to voicemail they go!

I was a bit shocked at this new internal response, as well as my disregard for the phone’s original use. Of course, there are certain topics and discussions that are better suited for an in-person or over-the-phone conversation. But that differentiation calls for another post entirely. Anyway, I was never a “chatter” in the phone sense, and since the advent of Facebook in ’05, I’ve welcomed the new communication method – and any platforms that make that communication easier.

Enter the smartphone and its assortment of downloadable apps and widgets, many that are tailored to make our social networking quicker. I’ve been able to whittle down my “Friends” list to a manageable number of updates and commentaries (that I genuinely care about) – all sent to a widget on my phone in real-time, accessed by a simple finger-swipe on the screen. And if my stalker mode is set to extra curious on any given day, the entire “Friends” newsfeed is accessible by touching one additional icon on the screen.

Regarding Facebook and the zillion companies that have created their own marketing pages, I’ve started evaluating them online just as I would offline. Do they say things that make sense, or do they offer inconsistent advice? More important, do they offer information I’m interested in? And I apply these evaluation questions to people in my “Friends” list as well, particularly those people who I haven’t seen in five years, or talked to in ten.

Anyone remember McDonald’s slogan and catchy jingle from the early 90s: “What you want is what you get at McDonald’s today”? Having a smartphone is pretty much like that, minus the weight gain and general self-loathing that results from too much fast food.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shellyon's First Wedding Anniversary

Rewind through graduate school enrollments, a job promotion, buying a house, and a job change... and we're back in time, one year ago, to our wedding weekend on Captiva Island. It's been an eventful year for Shellyon.

I had a blast planning our wedding, and I love reliving that weekend - thanks to our amazing wedding photographer, Sara Kauss, and my many friends and family memebers who shared their photos with us. And our original wedding website is still intact as well.

But more important, I've loved the past year with my husband. We'ved lived, laughed, and loved just as we vowed on that windy day on the beach. Happy first anniversary, Jolyon!

Michelle, in the presence of our family and friends, I pledge to be true to you, to respect you, and to grow with you through the years. Time may pass, fortune may smile, trials may come; no matter what we may encounter together, I promise here to love only you. I will make my home in your heart from this day forward. With laughter and love, these are my vows to you.

Jolyon, I take you to be my husband and my best friend for life. Together our lives are truly enhanced. I will communicate with you open and honestly. I will navigate the changing tides with you in all seasons of our life together. Through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future, I promise to be faithful to you, to challenge you, to comfort you, and to laugh with you. These are my solemn vows.

All photos by Sara Kauss Photography.