Monday, November 12, 2012

Aye, matey!

 Day 8:  Someone You Love
 When there are so many, how do you choose just one?  You don't.  Not really.  They kind of choose you sometimes.
 Today this buccaneer asked me on a date.
And I said yes, of course.  Because, as has been stated in the past, he chooses Dad 90% of the time.  But today...he chose me.  And he made me feel loved.
So he gets his picture posted.
If you can't tell, we went shopping for his Halloween costume.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Day 7:  Clouds

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands."
Psalm 19:1

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Embracing the Camera

No, I have not petered out on my 31 day photo challenge.  I have been very busy shooting pictures.  I had a Mini-session marathon last Saturday and have been busy editing.  Loving it!

I am going to break the rules here a bit.  Technically my next installment should be "clouds".  Instead I am going to REALLY challenge myself.  I read an article recently called "Mom Stays in the Picture" by Allison Tate that challenges moms to get in front of the camera more.  I have been pondering this for awhile.  I have sometimes wondered if part of what drew me to photography is my desire to NOT be in front of the camera.

My husband can tell you that I am by far my worst critic.  I mean I can be just down right MEAN to myself when I want to be.  I have never been comfortable in my own body.  Definitely not comfortable seeing pictures of myself in my own body.  But I have found motherhood to soften some of my self-severity a bit.  Partially because the love of another human being causes you to take your eyes off your self a bit.  (Thank you, Jesus.)  Mostly because I just simply don't have the extra energy to expend in thinking about it.  (Thank you, Jesus!)  So...I just avoid it.  If I don't have to see it, I don't have to think about it.  This has been healing for me.  The next step in not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less (think about it, you'll get it) is to put myself out there again.  To see the creature that was fearfully and wonderfully made.  A daughter the the King.  And, according to Tate, for my kids sake.  I want them to have record of their Mom WITH them as I record our life.  Hugging them, laughing with them, being with them.  They won't remember what size my jeans were or what color or style (or lack of) my hair was sporting.  They will remember that I was there.  And that I love them.  And that I'm not ashamed.

So here healing!

 Riv's one request for this shot..."Don't take a bite!"

TBird loves it when we both wear our brown boots.

How do you remember your mother?  

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Day 5/31:  Something Green

It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of the farmer's market.  It is without a doubt one of my favorite aspects of living in Minnesota.  I love the camaraderie between farmer and consumer, food-laborer and food-eater.  It is a place where they love my screaming kids and my squirmy dog.  I hear stories about their screaming kids and squirmy dogs.  It just feels right to prepare a meal that came directly from the hands of my farmer friends.  

Today I got a lesson in raising chickens.  All the info I need to know, right there on a picnic bench at the farmers market.  And yes, you can be looking for chicken posts sometime in following months.  Woo-hoo!

When I saw that today's theme was "Something Green", without hesitation I grabbed my camera and hauled it to the Richfield Farmers Market.  

It is sad to see the dwindling green of summer nearing the end of its season.  Green represents life, growth, vibrance.  Soon the snow will come and all green will go to sleep.  But the miracle of green will come again in spring.  And my farmers will be there to usher in the green.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back-Bending Beauty

Day 4/31:  From High Angle

I took my camera downtown to meet Lee for lunch with the kids in the hopes that I could find some fun photo-ops for yesterday's assignment, from "way up high".  There is a lot of "way up high" downtown.  High rises, escalators, sky ways, hanging shiny art sculptures. I even stopped at an overpass foot bridge and snagged a shot of the downtown skyline, something I say I will do every time I drive under that overpass.  It's one of my favorite views of the city.  Gives a sense smallness in contrast to the vastness of the city.  Sometimes I wonder if feeling small is an intrinsic part of feeling human.  Rabbit trail.

When I got home from my photo escapade, Monkey #1 was in the front yard practicing her cartwheels and back bends.  She has been a gymnastics fiend ever since the summer olympics.  I snapped a few shots of her from our front stoop with my macro zoom lens.

As I was perusing and editing my days work, the images I kept coming back to were the last few I had taken in our front yard.  The downtown images were definitely "high angle".  One of Lee's view from his office (a forever view of everything south of the river).  Impressive, but stale.  A couple art works.  Interesting, but one dimensional.  The cityscape.  Just didn't quite capture the impressiveness I feel in person.  This could all have every bit to do with my growth potential as a photographer.  I definitely want to keep working on the cityscape shot.

However, I find that I keep coming back to people.  Those are the shots that seem to have life, to breathe in their stillness.  They are what draw me in, the story they tell.  I have met plenty a photographer who can make a landscape or inanimate object breathe life.  Ultimately I think it is how we distinguish our gifting.  The stories we tell.

I took a few photography courses several years back. I came in to the classes with the assumption that everyone wanted to take portraits, was good at portraits.  Stupid assumption.  When we displayed our final editorial projects, it was beautiful to see the individuality of each artist, how they told their story.  Landscapes, nature, people, abstract, realist.  I love that about art.  We each get to tell our story, from our perspective.

So today's back bending beauty!  (I like alliteration, too)  When I say she has been a fiend, I mean constant, persistent work to perfect a cart wheel, a back bend.  She does it for her entire recess at school.  She does it as soon as she gets home.  She does it "one more time, please" right before bed.  I love seeing that kind of commitment from my first born.  And here she is, in all of her persistent glory...

What are your favorite stories to tell?  Would love to hear!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The hubs suggests I remind everyone of the reason behind my sudden, constant presence in the blogosphere.

This would be Day 3 of my 31 Day Photo Challenge:  A Month of My Life in Pictures.  Everyone with me?

Day 3:  From a Low Angle

Technically today's assignment was supposed to be "Clouds".  But it was a pretty gray, overcast, nasty cloud kind of day.  So I chose to shake things up a bit and do "From a Low Angle" instead.  Because I am a recovering chronic rule-keeper it's a good exercise to break the "rules" in harmless ways every now and again. 

I couldn't choose just one.  That's kind of like choosing my favorite kid.  One of their favorite things to do is a good ol' classic Superman.  Who doesn't love a Superman?  Or as the baby Monkey says, "Supermam".  Don't ask me where the male Monkey got the whole Christopher Reeves Superman pose-thing.  Must be genetic.

These were taken one afternoon in the front yard waiting for the oldest Monkey to get home from school. Just couldn't get over that sky and those clouds.  So grateful to have this captured for years to come.  One of those seemingly insignificant moments of childhood that will consistantly bring me to tears when I am old and gray.  

My Uniform

Day 2:  What I Wore Today

My kids wear uniforms to school.  I love uniforms.  They eliminate so much drama.  One less thing to think about in the morning.  My Lunarfly's are my uniform, so to speak.  I put them on just about every morning on the off chance I might be able to squeeze a workout in.  As you can see, they have been well loved and used.  I never have to wonder if they will go with what I'm wearing (because they rarely ever do).  They are loud and have lots of personality.  They are molded to my feet and blaze my daily trail.  No thought, no drama.

Monday, October 15, 2012


I am taking on a 31-day challenge.

I received my first camera as a gift from my dear hubs after Monkey the first was born.  Initially it was a hobby to catalogue the many changing days os motherhood.  I soon found the more I learned, the more I loved my camera.  What a gift to record life's precious moments.  Mundane moments, special moments, pivotal moments.  Faces and mannerisms that define who we are and how we were.  All of it echoing the glory of a Creator.  I love that.

I have also found that, in this busy, demanding season of mothering, it is easy to set my camera on a shelf and let it sit...and sit...and sit.

Juggling a 2-year old monkey while cooking and carpooling has equaled camera disaster more times than I would like to recall.  

But...if I wait until my life settles, time is more generous, or the pace slows, I will have missed my life.  It is so easy in this current season to check out and exist in task-mode.  Then I look around and days have passed without recollection.  There are evidences of joy all around us, little love-notes from a kind soul-lover.  But oh many I have missed because my eyes weren't open!

So...this is my attempt, my discipline, to keep my eyes open and to see.  My camera helps me to see.  Encourages me to stop and savor for a moment.  Then record the moment so that I can remember.  And experience joy over and over.  31 days of camera seeing, joy images.  

Day 1:  Self-Portrait

Note:  I generally hate getting in front of the camera.  But I am trying more to do so.  This one was hard initially, but when I committed to it, it was quite therapeutic.  I narrowed it to several, but this one spoke loudest to me, of me.

I think one of the gifts motherhood has offered to me is the end of myself.  It is not an easy gift.  It is not always an enjoyable gift. But it is a precious gift.  

This is where I spend a majority of my day.  And this is me stealing a brief moment of still in the middle of the chaos.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just 'Cause

Just a little sass to get your week started with a smile!

Just 'cause.  Cause I think she's pretty cute.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We, along with all of my other Facebook friends, started school this past week.  I think Momma is having a harder time adjusting to the new routine than anyone else!

I've been quiet on the blogosphere of late.  I think I've been waiting for a really profound thought that I just must share with the rest of the world.  Momma's brain ain't workin' that way right now.  I am just hoping to remember my 7am dentist appointment in the morning.  (I already missed it twice!)  So many details for a person not so good with details!

My blogging silence, however, does not mean that the wheels have not been turning.  We celebrated our first year back in the frozen tundra over the summer.  That particular anniversary was cause for much reflection.  We spent three whole weeks down south with friends and family!  Again, much reflection.  I just haven't had the words.  But now I am afraid if I don't attempt to find those words they will be forgotten.  And I don't want that.  

So...I will just start talking.  And reflecting.  And today, in this week of crazy commuting and carpooling, I will highlight one very simple, but special act.  One that has been consistent every single afternoon.  And one that has brought much joy to all parties in participation.

Go Fish!
Monkey #2 of the male type started Kindergarten this year.  I am so thrilled that our school offers a half-day option for Kindergartners because that means I get to do...

It is the one hour of my day that I have pause to sit, look at that sweet, knowing face...and smile.  And take it all in.  The time that is passing so quickly in the midst of these slow days.  The people that are becoming right before my very eyes.
I have this one line from "The Scientist" by Coldplay in my head...
"Nobody said it was easy.  Nobody said it would be so hard."  These people they are becoming have opinions and emotions and preferences.  And it is beautiful.  But it is not easy.  And today...he still wants to play with me.  And today I get to.

My favorite..."Mommy.  Do you have a 'I do not like them Sam I Am, I do not like green eggs and ham?'"

And tonight he asked me to put him to bed (I lose out to Daddy 9 times out of 10).  For the moment I am aware of the shifting sand I hold in my hands.  And I am treasuring it.  Because I know I will forget.  

But today I am grateful for the grace to have eyes to see and know.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I love you anyway, too.

We are big fans of Olivia the Pig at our house.
 My favorite line in an Olivia book comes as Olivia's mom is putting her to bed, haggling over how many books they will read that particular night.  "Olivia's mother gives her a kiss and says, 'You know, you really wear me out.  But I love you anyway.'"
 "And Olivia gives her a kiss back and says, 'I love you anyway too.'"
 I'll be real honest, here.  This monkey wears me out.
 But one look at these pictures, at her vivid lust for life and all things happy and bright reminds me...
I love her anyway.  And she loves me anyway, too.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


What a difference a year makes!

It is birthday/anniversary season at our house.  Taylor Beth recently celebrated a 7th milestone.  Birthdays always invite reflection for me.  

Courage!  It's the one word that comes to mind when I think of the life you've lived this year, my dear.  I must stand by and watch as you determine who you are and who you want to be.  It is no easy task for a 6 year old.  It takes courage.  So, in the words of the Cowardly Lion...

"Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? 
Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? 
Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? 
What makes the muskrat guard his musk? 
 Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? 
Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? 
Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot?

I have not always lived my life courageously.  I have passed on opportunities for lack of it.  But being your Mama has made me brave.  
Strengthened my faith.
Taken me to the end of me.
Brought clarity to what really matters
Who I am and who I want to be.

Thank you for the gift of courage.  You are a gift.  We are grateful for you.

Monday, May 14, 2012

An Understanding Mother

They always say it.  And it it is always nearly impossible to comprehend until you, too, are in its midst.  

"You never really appreciate your mother until you are one."

But its true.  And every day I am reminded by my own blessed monkeys what a gift it is to have your mothering always before me.  You loved us so well!  Still do.  

I don't always love my children well.  Maybe you didn't always, either.  But you did enough of the time for me to feel loved, accepted, safe even well into my adulthood.  

The monkeys and I have been reading through The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.  Ferdinand's mother worried that Ferdinand might be lonely if he only ever sat "just quietly and smell{ed} the flowers" instead of running and jumping and butting heads like the other bulls.  

"His mother saw that he was not lonesome, and because she was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow, she let him just sit there and be happy."

You saw me.  You saw that I was ok.  Awkward, maybe.  Not always like the other kids.  But you, in your understanding way, let me sit.  And I was happy.  

Nature walks, Pony Boy rides, your hands, grocery store trips, hours in the kitchen, your nasty mustard yellow mixer, and a three-fingered "Praise the Lord".  You provided the space, the safe haven for me to find the courage to be me...the faith foundation to at least start figuring out who "me" is.  

And now I have the privilege of watching it cycle back through, on the outside, looking in.  My kids have no idea how blessed they are.  

I love you, Mom.  I am so grateful for your legacy.  So proud of my heritage.  It is a very happy Mother's Day, indeed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mama's Day, Mama Cheryl!

There is a Chinese proverb that states, "Women hold up half the sky."

This woman has held up her fair share.

I have never met another human being with matched energy and vibrance.

Thank you for raising a son who honors and values the women in his life.

My monkeys adore you.  They are blessed to have you, as are we all.  Thank you for loving us so completely.  For never stopping, never giving up, always pushing on.  Always with a smile on your face. 

You have loved me generously, served me endlessly and selflessly, and shown me what hard work and commitment really look like.  I am truly grateful for you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012