Archive for October, 2014

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been asked about our move.  “Why are you moving to Tennessee?”  “Why do you want to move away from Maryland and DC?” “Do you have family in Tennessee?”  “Do you have a job out there?”  “What made you decide to move to Sparta Tennessee specifically?”  Amanda loves talking about one guy that asked us the “why” question while including a follow up statement saying “People don’t just move to Sparta, TN from Washington DC.”

That gentleman is right, people don’t just do anything.  There’s always a reason, a cause, that comes before everything.  To be outright open and honest, the #1 reason we’re moving to Sparta TN is because that’s what God is doing in our lives.  He put us in Maryland years ago despite my protest, but I understood it was God’s work, and not mine.  I then understood that if/when God is ready, He’ll also move us somewhere else.  And that’s exactly what’s been playing out before us.  And we have recognized it all along the way because we’ve seen God do other things in our lives.  People have familiar patterns about themselves, and so if we’re created in the image of God then it would only make sense that God would have familiar patterns as well, and my family is very familiar with them at this point in our lives.

I know this sounds extremely odd for some, but very familiar to others.  I’ll admit that the idea of leaving a mostly paid-for home, and a very well paying and secure job with great benefits sounds very scary and anti-commonsensical.  But if it really is God’s work as I believe, then how much more sense would it really make to go against His will?  It obviously makes more sense to go where God leads and He is leading us to Sparta, TN.  And when we get there, we will start our photography business and trust in God to provide for us while at the same time using us to bless others.

So there’s why we are moving to Sparta, TN from Maryland after 10 years of being there.  We are very excited though for many reasons.  We can’t even begin to tell you how much more we enjoy the culture in Tennessee over Maryland.  Ever since we moved to MD we’ve looked forward to leaving.  We do have some friends that we’ll greatly miss, but the overall atmosphere of the area is anything but welcoming.  I’ve never seen more accidents and rude driving in my life.  And yes I have driven in places like L.A. and NYC, as well as Japan and the Middle East.  So I know what I’m talking about.

Aside from all of that, Maryland really is a neat place full of history, amazing architecture, museums, landscapes, and much more.  But it’s also the worst on taxes and the least friendly to military and small businesses, and has the most annoying and over bearing government entities I’ve ever seen and can’t wait to get away from.

I know that no place is perfect, but I’m anxious to be away from DC.  We love our new home, which God provided for us, and already have a handful of new friends.  We can’t wait to go exploring the areas of Sparta and Crossville and other surrounding areas, getting to know so many more people.  Majority of our personal interactions have been extremely pleasant, and much more respectful than we’re used to in MD.  By the way, when I say that God is providing everything for us, I mean EVERYTHING, right down to the finances needed.  I truly can claim no credit; neither can any man give me credit, for making any great achievements that enabled us to move.  Its all Gods’ doing.  God revealed to us His plan to move us, and then He made it happen.  We’re just along for the ride while at the same time seeking His help to make us better stewards with all He’s provided.


red barn and field

View of the back of our property


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Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography

Oct 19, 2014
posted in Open Thought with 0 Comments

So should you use a doctor or a midwife?  Most people tend to automatically think “doctor” when they get pregnant.  Very few people ever think about, or even know about, midwives.  Honestly, this is the work of great marketing on part of the medical community thru means of misleading and manipulative scare tactics against midwives.

I’ve told our story before in my post My New Baby Boy, so I won’t go too much into it here.  But I will say that the life of both mom and baby drove me to do my own research to make sure we were making the smartest decision we could.  I don’t recall who it was, but someone actually recommended we watch a movie called The Business of Being Born.  That was the information than changed everything for us.  In the end, we used a midwife at a birthing center that was only five minutes from the nearest hospital.  Though the particular midwife wasn’t our first choice, we still wouldn’t have done things any differently, and so are fond of midwives.  Keep in mind that they’ve been doing this a lot longer than the doctors have been.

The reason I bring this up is because it’s a topic that continues to be a part of our lives as we have friends and clients getting pregnant all the time and telling us their stories.  Just recently Amanda (my wife), went to stay aside a friend of ours in the hospital during her experience.  Unfortunately the firsthand experience was both frustrating and discouraging.  Please keep in mind that as I’m writing this, I am aware that there some doctors that aim for being more of a middle ground between the way doctors and midwives deliver babies.
When Amanda had Zachariah, her labor was 21 hours long from the time her water broke.  We did get scared as the clock ticked away because you only have 24 hours to deliver naturally after your water breaks before you have to be induced.  But the body knows when it’s ready better than the doctors do, and so she stayed 4cm till the last moment when her body finally opened up and pushed the kiddo out.  Too many people have told us how doctors told them they aren’t opening up fast enough and that they need to be induced, yet it hasn’t even been 12 hours.  Or that they should get the epidural for a number of lame excuses, all of which are more convenient to the doctor than they are safe for mom and baby.

Doctors are a great thing to have, but not for a natural process like birth, UNLESS there’s an emergency or extremely high risk issue.   The problem we keep hearing about is how they tend to REALLY PUSH for women to have drugs when they don’t need them, force them to lay on the bed and not move which is the worst thing for a pregnant woman, and lead them into a situation that often results in a C-section.  I’m not trying to demonize all birthing doctors, but the numbers are far from being in their favor.  Majority women don’t go to doctors to get a C-section, but to deliver in a healthy, safe, and natural manner, yet the majority of women end up with a C-section these days when they use the doctor, while a very small number of women using midwives have to get a C-section.

Shouldn’t it be a concern that so many babies end up in distress in the hospital compared to out of the hospital?  Shouldn’t it be a concern that so many woman are pushed into a birth process they didn’t want?  We are trained to go straight to doctors and shy away from anything else, but is that really the best thing to do?  If you are wondering about using a midwife vs a doctor, please take the time and do the research.  If you’re concerned, you can often times have a midwife with you in the hospital.  If the hospital won’t allow a midwife, then they obviously don’t care about you and your wishes and so you should go somewhere else.  You don’t want to risk yours’ and your baby’s lives in the hands of a medical facility and staff that are going to make things more dangerous and uncomfortable than they are, and are likely going to do as they will regardless of your wishes.  I do say all this fully aware that there are some women that are higher risk and really should just stay with the doctor, but often times they can have a midwife at their side anyways.

As for our friend, she REALLY wanted to go as natural as possible, but the staff scared her into the epidural fairly quickly by telling her that IF there’s an emergency then they wouldn’t be able to get it in later, and then just kept pushing till she gave in.  After that, everything went downhill as she was questioned and given paperwork DURING contractions, her and her baby suffered oxygen loss due to being on her back, and extreme anxiety as she was wheeled away for surgery.  Is she and her new baby healthy?  I’m sure they are.  Is she happy and proud of the process?  Very doubtful.  Please take the time and do your research before choosing a doctor over a midwife.  We loved our midwife and natural birthing experience and wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’ve yet to hear the same positive reaction from doctor births.  Too many of the births in hospitals rob women of their pride in being a woman by giving natural birth.  But the ones that don’t, don’t get enough recognition either.


baby boy in frog hat


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Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography

Oct 06, 2014
posted in Business with 0 Comments

I promised a while back that I would give another update on my use of Simply Studio.  I’m still working on it, but I’ve got some inputs.  First I’d like to point out that their Support Team has been very helpful and on the ball with every email I send them.  They’ve helped me answer some questions and have taken lots of feedback from me and others to throw at the developers for future improvements.  With that being said, I still love the majority of their system, but feel like they’re reinventing the wheel when it comes to accounting.  But I think part of that is because they have introduced the new capability of linking to your bank accounts.

I really do love the linking to by accounts for the purpose of better tracking of my routine expenses or catching unknown expenses.  For those wondering, no you cannot do any banking thru the software.  You only see your transactions and have the option to categorize them or delete them from view.  I learned from experience though that you have to be careful with deleted transactions.  There’s a delete button directly above your transactions.  This seems like the most logical option to select your transaction and hit the delete button.  I did this a couple of times by mistake.  If you look all the way to the right, there’s another delete button that isn’t as obvious unless you are looking for it.  This is the delete button to remove transactions.  The other one that seems more logical will actually delete the account from the software.  But the funny thing that happened to me was that it only really deleted it from my view while the transactions were still showing up in the Profit Loss report.  They had to wipe all the account records for me so I could start again from scratch.

view of accounting tools

The calendar has been nice since I can have it synced with my iPhone and iPad.  I can modify from any of the three and have it updated across the board.  The only thing I don’t like, which I’ve recommend for change in the future, is the functionality of the calendar view.

event scheduler

Here’s what I mean: you click on Calendar to view it, but it only shows you the current week.  No biggie, you just hit the month view button so you can see the bigger picture.  Let’s say the month of April.  Then you decide you need to look at a month (October possibly) later on in the year to schedule a couple of sessions, so you just arrow your way thru the year till you hit the month.  Double click on the day of your first session and it brings up the Event Schedule screen, which is cool.  You plug everything in and now you want to just go right back to the calendar, specifically the month (October) that you were just in so you can add the other session.

calendar month view image

Now you have the problem of “how do I get back to where I was just at?”   The only way to get back is to once again click on the Schedule tab again, click on the month button and arrow your way over October again.  There is no option to go back to the calendar view that you were just in.  Go figure?!  I do believe that this is one of the things in the works for the next major update.

week view of schedule

Other than that, Simply Studio does have some pretty cool features, and for the price, it’s really not bad at all.  I definitely recommend keeping a notebook record of your finances though like I do.  But that goes regardless of what you use for software.

Speaking of their financial structure, I do need to admit that I’m not completely sold or confident yet in their accounting system, but mainly when it comes to income.  At the same time, I believe this depends on how you use it also.  I’m used to manually entering all income and expenses in the book keeping section of Studio Cloud.  It doesn’t exactly work the same way in Simply Studio.  What I’m finding to probably be the best practice is to make complete use of their Invoicing section.  That way it can know what part of your receivables is payment and which is tax money.  Otherwise there’s no way for it to know the difference if you just enter your income as a manual Cash Transaction in Accounting.

accounting view

What I’m not clear about, even after talking with them, is how the accounting works when you account for a payment from a customer thru an invoice, verses when it shows up on your linked bank account as a transaction.  I think they said that the payment doesn’t show up on your Sales report out of the Invoices, but the sales taxes from the Invoices do.  I don’t know, so don’t ask me!

invoice view

Because I don’t use Invoices in the software generally, I was using Cash Transactions to account for some of my payments.  This is pointless of course if it shows up in your linked bank account since you can account for it there easier.  But here’s the problem I had using Cash Transactions.  When I run the report, it only said I have a total income of $318.  But if I clicked on the Sales line it will give me a breakout of income transactions, which for me shows well over $2000.  Call me simple, but shouldn’t the Total Sum of Sales actually be a total sum of payments received?  I asked them about the bazaar math and they said there’s a software problem with using Cash Transactions, and so it’s better to create and use a manual account.  They also had to tell me the backwoods route (the not so obvious way) to delete Cash Transactions.  Once I did that, my total sales number was looking more logical.  This, by the way, is something else that they’re working on for the next major update.

sales report

I do give them a hard time, but they are doing great stuff with the software.  I really look forward to a number of common sense changes and updates.  I’m not a developer, so I don’t envy what they have to do to make stuff happen.  But I do appreciate their magic.  Everything I’ve mentioned here I’ve also mentioned to them, along with many other things, and most of them are already on the list for the next update, so we’ll see.  Keep up and I’m sure I’ll post more updates later on about the Simple Studio software.







If you found this post helpfully in anyway, please let me.  Plus I appreciate Likes and Shares when I can get them.  Thanks for reading.

Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography