Hand Made Smocked Clothes and Gowns for Preemie or Premature Babies

Hand Made Smocked Preemie Premature Clothes

This is slightly off-topic for my blog (hence my need and reason for having a Sidenotes Category), but well worth some publicity to lovingly brag on my wife, Deborah. In case you didn’t know, Deborah is about the best seamstress I know (just check out her blog or her custom made items on the Etsy store), and her work is in the category of heirloom clothes, depending on the particular project she’s working on. She has made, and is making, everything from Easter (see Easter Order) and Christmas gowns (see here), to fun football dresses (here) babies and girls can wear to any worthy SEC game, though she doesn’t discriminate against any school. If you are looking for an incredible dress or gown, get in touch with Deborah for details.

All of this is custom made to order per each individual, and all is hand made one individual stitch at a time. The most amazing work I’ve seen come out of her sewing room lately are these preemie clothes I photographed above. While each ministry is different, specifically because God has gifted each one of us in totally unique ways, this work is over the top awesome. Deborah started making these hand-made smocked (the crinkled stuff around the chest area for the guys reading this post) preemie gowns and clothes for parents who would normally never get the honor of having something special for their own child.

You can’t tell from this photo, but these clothes are teeny-tiny. Deborah even included one for a boy, which most of the time parents never have any clothes for at all. It is just amazing to me to think that somewhere, some as of yet unknown parents, are going to be presented with one of these gowns to put on their baby, probably during a very difficult time in their own lives. For parents to be able to receive something like this (for free), of this quality, hopefully says to them, God loves you, and He loves your child as well, no matter what happens.

This set of preemie clothes was just shipped this week to a large hospital in Miami where the need far exceeded the supply. If you are at all interested in helping with this type of ministry work I am sure Deborah would be more than happy to talk to you about it. For today, it is my Photo of the Day, and quite a challenging photo to take at that.

Heat of Apalachicola and St George Island :: Friday Feet

Today we had a very last minute invite to St George Island, right across the bay from Apalachicola. This had to be our fastest trip ever down to the coast, no wait, second fastest… we once drove down to our Orange Beach marina for Thanksgiving in 2007 only to find out their wifi was not working and then made the 4-5 hour drive right back. We were there for about 60 minutes. This time we were down there for about 20 hours. It was plenty long enough to bake in the blasting heat, read another chapter in the Bonhoeffer biography (which is incredible), take a few pics for today’s Friday Feet, and make it back home.

Hard to believe how long it has been since Deb and I have been down to the gulf. We use to go down there about once a month but it’s been almost two years since we made the drive down there. I was instantly reminded why we use to go down there in December through February. The 100% humidity and 100*F weather going on right now was enough to make you run for cover.

Catalyst West Coast with Hillsong United Band

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Many of you may know about the great conferences put on by the Catalyst folks, well this Wednesday is the big one, Catalyst West Coast.  Having been to the full multi-day conference in October (photos), I know this one is going to be a great time of learning and fellowship.  I feel privileged to have been asked by Catalyst to be one of the photographers for the west coast event (along with Daley Hake on his home turf), so this week I will make my way out to Los Angeles and to Mariner’s Church for the shoot.

Look for some photos here starting around Wednesday or Thursday if I can find a wifi connection (and some time).

Who Inspired Your Life Today, Anyone?

It seems that January has gotten off to a nitro-fueled pace.  We started this new series (Alive) that I am personally already struggling to keep up with.  Anyone else?  It is about mid-week in the first week in January so I figured by now almost everyone has given up on some of their “new years resolutions”, but in light of my post yesterday on how to be creative, I tried to keep my own list in my mind as I went through the day.

So who inspired me us to be creative today?  For me, I started off the day with an unbelievable speaker, Eddie Gran, the former running back coach from Auburn.  He spent much of his career with Tommy Tubberville from Miami to Ole Miss, to Auburn, and of course in light of the current coaching situation is looking for a job. He presented a great testimony which I know had to inspire many who were able to come hear him speak.

Was I able to achieve any creativity on my own.  Who knows.  I wanted to dive deep into my own journal, take some photos, and listen to some new music, but for this day, here is my short list of others who gave me some inspiration for the day.

The last one requires a little explanation.  I am amazed at how I keep learning from my mother-in-law.  Since her death in April I have been pouring over here journals she wrote when she lived in Europe.  She did what most of us are trying to do now with the Alive series, write.  I have been putting her journal one day at a time in a blog called My Life in France.

I sit here and wonder what is or isn’t acceptable in worship.  Why do we do this or that, why don’t we do this or that.  Her entry in her journal today was short, and to the point, and really hit the spot.  This is what she wrote on February 2, 1992:

No English speaking churches in Verdun so we drove to the American Cemetery located in St. Mihiel, France (where 4,000 Americans from the war are buried) and had our own private worship in the chapel there.

Now that is inspiring, at least to me.

Miami Airport Photos and a 50mm Lens :: MIA-ATL

Approach into Miami

Miami Airport in 50mm

Miami Airport under construction

Roof in Miami airport

This the third and final part of my airport in a 50mm lens perspective (see ATL part 1 and DEN part 2), at least until I jump on another plane and end up at an airport other than ATL, DEN, and MIA. Miami was the most difficult out of the three to shoot. It was hot, humid (yes I was inside), very very crowded, and all under construction.

That just means I had to look around more than I usually do and find something that said this was MIA and was (to me) photographically pleasing. For this post, I chose these 4 images below.

I love the second shot, the plane. This old plane was restored and hung from one of the walks between terminal buildings. What caught my attention was the print just below the name of the pilot.

Passengers travel in this vehicle at their own risk

I did find one nice architectural images of this roof line which seemed to open like a bottle top. I would have preferred to get the faces of the travelers but in an airport you must be wise when holding the camera. With so many irritated passengers around every bend waiting for delayed flights, I wasn’t real interested in inflaming the minds of many.

I always liked the Miami airport. So much diversity even in the airport itself, but modernizing the terminals (which they are doing) would also make it a nice place to fly into while waiting for a long connection. All images in each part of this shoot were taken with a Nikon D700 (in full frame FX mode), hand held, with a 50mm Nikkor f/1.4 lens. Comments, suggestions, critique, or criticism are all welcome. These are shown in the order they were taken.

To see the larger sizes all at once just click on the first image to open the light box gallery and you can scroll through the larger sizes that way.

We Decided to Go Book Hunting in Miami Florida

To celebrate St. Valentines day this year we combined business with pleasure, as usual, and took a much needed escape (I mean trip) to Miami. We found a book distributor (NOT – more about this later) in Ft. Lauderdale who sold books by the pallet. We decided to go down and check them out to see if the books were worth our time. On the way down we stayed in Orlando and went to Universal Studios for dinner. We didn’t care much about going to the theme parks, but just outside the entrance to the theme park is the Universal Studios Mall.

It is an open air mall with about 20+ restaurants. The largest two restaurants there, in size and name, are the Hard Rock Cafe and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, where we ate. The atmosphere at Margaritaville was fun and of course laid back. They had a solo guitarist who was loads of fun with his crowd interaction. After dinner we decided to go play a round of putt-putt at a course across the street from our hotel. I won the putt-putt game, even after landing in the ruff, but Scott beat me at the air hockey table in the game room afterward. These first photos were taken with a cell phone so the size is pretty small.


Hard Rock Universal Studios


Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Universal Studios


Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Universal Studios


My expert golfing landed me here.


The Nascar Budweiser Car at Universal Studios

On To Ft Lauderdale to the Book Distributor

The next day we headed for Ft. Lauderdale and the so called book distributor. I say “so called” because we were expecting a warehouse with stacked pallets of books and what was actually there when we arrived was a 30′ x 100′ “warehouse” full of mostly made in Taiwan items. He had books in the back of the unit, but most had either fallen off their pallets, been crushed, or been subjected to so much humidity they were coated with mildew. We opted out of taking a pallet home and decided to continue looking elsewhere. This meant that the utility trailer that we had taken with us to bring back a pallet was still empty and that we now had room to take home a few plants from the wholesale nurseries in Miami. Yipee!!

Miami was packed with traffic congestion everywhere we went, but we managed to make it to the hotel and to dinner on South Beach. The water and sand was wonderful, but we have ruled this out as one of our spots to frequent because of the shear number of non-tourist people everywhere.


Beats the 40 degrees back home!!


The Hotel


Scott on the beach outside our hotel.


The temp may be 84, but the water is still cold!!


Walking with sand between your toes, what could be better?


Cleveland’s Miami Beach

We took the Hwy 997 route back home where we picked up some fabulous plants for our new house and a Key Lime tree just for the fun of it. Across the Everglades and up through Sarasota. The weather was changing as we were on our way back up north. The wind picked up and the temprature dropped from a cold front that was blowing through. We went to the beach anyway. Our last evening we ate at Boston Market (one of my favorite places) and stayed at a Comfort Inn Suites in Ocala that had been open about 2 weeks. It was probably the nicest, cleanest, and best smelling hotel we have ever stayed in. Then it was back to the house and back to searching for more suppliers for books.


Bird on Sarasota Beach


Me, cold again….

Miami to Daytona and a New Honda Nighthawk

Coming Home From Miami and Daytona

Another thing that Scott and I like to do is go to sporting events. These include, but are not limited to, all major league sports, minor league baseball, and college sports of all kinds. We planned this trip so that we could catch a Florida Marlins vs. Houston Astros game in formerly “Joe Robbie” stadium. This is a stadium that I have always wanted to visit.

It was so hot during the game (mid-day game) that we left after about the 5th inning. You can see from the photo that 90% of the stadium was empty right from the beginning of the game. Heat and a “not so good team” were probably the main reasons for this, but we enjoyed the game none the less.

After we left the game and went back to the hotel to freshen up we found a little place on the ocean to eat dinner called O’Mallys Ocean Pub. The dining was outside, with a live band and the tables were about 50′ from the crashing waves. Magnificent!

While we were on our trip to the keys we decided to get serious about finding Scott a bike so we could ride together. We decided to take the “scenic” route home to Alabama through Daytona in order to pick up new bike bells for each other. There is a legend that goes with these bells and they are supposed to be given to a rider by a friend. We picked out our bells in Daytona at a place called “Hot Leathers” (hmmmm) and purchased them for each other, had a spectacular lunch at Johnny Rockets overlooking the ocean (one last time) and then it was back on the road for home.

Scott’s Bike

After arriving home we wasted no time in finding a bike on eBay for Scott. We picked it up the next weekend and have been riding together almost every day since. Here are some photos of the proud new owner of a Honda Nighthawk 750 in the rare blue color.

Loaded Up on the Trailer

We loaded the new bike up on the trailer after Scott took it around the neighborhood for a test ride. The bike is in great condition and although it has a lot more power than my Honda Rebel, they ride great together.