Sunday, November 28, 2010

As is....

This is Uyen. (And Noah). Uyen is one of my dearest friends. A true friend. The kind of friend who cheers your greatest victories and supports your biggest struggles. She inspires me and makes me laugh. And today she gave me a great gift....

Over these last few months, I've given much thought to what story I want to tell with my pictures. How I'd define my style. How I'd share my view from behind the lens. And just the other day, out of nowhere, I had a flash of insight....


Short and sweet and simple. Pictures, as is. Everyday. Not posed and dressed up, but living life. Celebrating life. I want to document the everyday stuff. I want to tell the stories that live between the washed faces and cleaned up rooms and new sweaters with scratchy tags in the back. I want the photos to be a true reflection. I want them to be "as is."

Recently, when I described this to Uyen - basically to test out whether she thought I was crazy or not - - she simply said "come on over...."

(See - - that is the true friend part. The cheerleader part. My guess is that Uyen has a set of purple pom-poms set aside just for when I call or email....)

So today, on an early Sunday morning, I knocked on Uyen's door and proceeded to spend two hours with her beautiful family as they put up their Christmas tree. Tessa talked about kindergarten and jumping rope ten times in a row at gym. Noah talked about first grade and Legos and wrestling with his cousin Pierce. Uyen shared stories about ornaments and holidays past. Keith focused on the lights and enjoyed the long four day weekend with his family.

And I snapped away. Happily!

Here is this morning's story. As is.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pushing the envelope...

On Thursday, Anna really really wanted a piece of pie right after Thanksgiving dinner. However dessert wasn't going to be served until a little later. (the adults had to let things 'settle' before round two).

To Anna, this was crazy. Unthinkable. Why wait?

And even worse, it seemed that Grandma was torturing her by leaving the pies out in the open on the counter. They were right there. Why not just eat them??? Now!!

They just smelled sooooooo good.....

Naughty takes on a new meaning this time of year, and Anna knew she was walking a very thin line....But for pumpkin pie, she figured it was worth taking the risk.

I understand completely....

(A public apology to my family: I'm really not sure who got the piece of pie that Anna had marked as her territory. But the bright side....she's over her cold!)

As usual, great pie, great dinner and great company. Thanks mom and dad for a wonderful evening!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A year of gratitude....

I am the eternal optimist. Always have been. Give me a glass with just a few drops in it, and I'll declare that only a little more would make it nearly-almost half full. It's just who I am. But in spite of all this natural optimism, I've been surprised at the impact that writing down an "Everyday Gratitude" has had on me over this past year....

Everyday there really was something to celebrate or be grateful for or see the brighter side of. Yes, some days proved to be more challenging than others in the grateful department. But those were probably the days that had the biggest impact for me too. And even more wonderful than the act of writing, is how I now move through my day. I am more present. I am seeking out reasons to be grateful. I take time to see the beauty...big and small, monumental and mundane.

I am amazed how this little act has made such a difference in my life. But it really has. (and I highly recommend it!)

Clearly and thankfully, there are many many things to be grateful for. Everyday. All around.

(And the daily writings have been a lovely record of our year too).

Since I've been posting my Everyday Gratitude all year long, everyone else in the household gets to share today (lists are in no particular order)...

Anna is thankful for:
My mama and my Aunt Annie
Grandma Margie
Emily and my friends
My Car
(clearly, Anna didn't get the family memo about the Toyota's permanent demise...)

Henry is thankful for:

Mom and Papa
My grandma and grandpa
And my sister
Mrs. Horning and all my teachers
TJ and my family
World of Warcraft (great...)
Aunt Annie
The world
Lots of food
Our house

Ray is thankful for:

My family
Deb's good job
A roof over our heads
That the new (unplanned) car won't break the bank

And for me...

Simple. All of the above!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Better late than never....

I've meant to post these all week, and finally have a quick minute to do so now....

On Saturday (despite my car breaking down enroute to their home and ending up arriving an hour late), this patient and very fun family let me take a few pictures....

This is Jack. He is four. He goes to daycare with Anna.

Incidentally, Anna did not want me to leave on Saturday, until I told her I was going to Jack's house to take pictures. Then she was all excited. "Go mama. Jack is my friend. He smiles nice."

Yes he does! And so does his sister....

This is Avery. She is a first grader. She was absolutely adorable and a natural in front of the camera. And, she loved her bunny....

Thanks so much Amy and Mitch. More to come soon!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This day...

Like a typical mom, I spend most days running (literally) from task to task to task, whether it be home or work or whatever. Of course, I am a "love-a-good-task" sort of person, so I usually don't mind. But there comes a point when too much is just too much. This crazy list/life can get exhausting.

Thankfully, today was the day. The break. From the moment I opened my eyes this morning, I knew I had to grab my chance. Nothing HAD to get done. Nothing was burning a hole on my list. So, I decided to give myself the day off. No list. No chores. No pressure. No guilt for not accomplishing enough. Day OFF!

And I must say, it was fabulous...

I was up at 6:00 a.m. and read the entire Sunday paper. By myself. No one disassembling the entire paper to get at the funnies, or grabbing the toy section out of the Target ad. It was just me, the Strib and my coffee. (I even had a second cup with half and half - not milk! Talk about joy!!)

About 8:00 a.m, I heard movement coming from Henry & Anna's room, so I bolted upstairs and headed them off at the pass. We all crawled back under the blankets to wake up together. Finally Anna's stomach rumbled and she said "I want breakfast." So, we made blueberry muffins. With lots of sprinkles. A day off deserves sprinkles.

We watched Toy Story 3 at 10:30 a.m. (A Sunday morning movie. Is that pure luxury or what?) Then we elf'ed ourselves for a good hour. And we laughed a lot.

After lunch, the kids took a bath without complaint. (small miracle). Once they were soaped, dried, moussed and lotioned, Henry and Anna got dressed up and we had ourselves a little holiday photo shoot. For an entire half hour, the kids posed. Yes, my kids!! Posed!! I got the holiday shot I wanted early on, but I kept snapping anyway. Who knows when I'd get the chance again...

For the rest of the afternoon, the kids and I colored and did art projects, while Ray cooked an entire pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the fixings. It was amazing. We had this huge fabulous meal, and I didn't lift a finger to make it. And, I didn't feel guilty at all...well hardly.

As I cleaned the kitchen after dinner (that only seemed fair...), Anna danced and twirled and sang around me. Clearly, cleaning up with company is so much better than doing it alone.

In the evening, we all cuddled on the couch, watched another movie and ate ice cream. At one point, I noticed Anna was giving me the stare down from across the room. Like a really intense stare-down. She was clearly contemplating something. Suddenly she hopped off her chair, pounced on me, and planted a big kiss right on my lips. "I love you mommy" she said. It was out of nowhere. It was one of those mama moments I won't soon forget....

After the movie, we read books, and got ready for bed without incident or revolt. Everyone went to sleep peacefully. Before I knew it, the day was over.

I guess good things happen when I relax and give up the list for a bit.

This day was perfection. (may I have another, please???)


Because a blog post really isn't any good without a picture or two, here is a sneak peek from our photo shoot. I'm not going to give too much away, but I'm happy to report that my card was sent off to Shutterfly for processing tonight. (okay, I did cross one thing off the list...)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Three-year-old style...

There is certainly a preschooler in our house.... A sassy, stubborn, independent preschooler. And, there are many many clues that give this away....

For example:

These days, "Anna the Preschooler" is all about dressing herself. She picks out all of her clothes and insists on putting them on without assistance. When an arm gets caught up in a sleeve and I offer help, she yells "NO! DON'T TOUCH ME!" When I suggest two clothing items that might match together, she glares at me and says "I'm in charge, Mama!"

At the moment, Ray and I are pretty much powerless in the clothing department. Which is why Anna came down the stairs this morning in this little ensemble:

Henry was never like this. Never. Clothes? Couldn't care less.

But Anna cares. A LOT! She likes color and patterns. In fact, patterns on top of patterns. (Check out the stripes and animal print). I'm convinced she is trying to make a preschool style statement. In some ways, I think she is quite fashion forward. (Or backwards, depending on where the tag ends up...)

Anna's fashion sense also trends towards layers. Yesterday it was three shirts. This morning, she put on four. Four! (She's counting them to make sure none have disappeared). By the end of the weekend, she may be wearing her entire drawer.

Clearly (and thankfully!), Anna did not inherit her mother's style (black, bland & stretchy). My theory is that style skips a generation or two. I think Anna is channeling her Great-Grandma Helen. Let's hear it for the free-spirits in the family!

You go girl!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Big picture...

So, my intention to take daily photos has failed miserably. And it's only been 3 weeks since I made that promise. (down in flames...)

But, there is hope in sight. Inspiration. And my favorite time of the year. I've just signed up for "Picture the Holidays: 30 Days of Festive Photography." And, I can't wait...
Picture the Holidays is a photo centric daily guide to creatively and
mindfully celebrating the season. With as much light and magic this time of year
can bring, it's easy to be equally hurried and harried. This 30-day (actually
31!) e-class is the perfect remedy for the holiday hustle. Seasonal photo
prompts delivered to your inbox each morning will not only inspire your inner
photographer but will encourage you to take a few moments to yourself each day
to get creatively centered, one photo at a time.
And, even better - - it is led by one of my favorite photogs: Tracey Clark.

So, I'm re-affirming my intention. Pictures everyday. (okay, as often as I can - - it is the season of giving, so I'll give myself a break!)

And if we are encouraged to take pictures of the holiday things we really love, get ready for lots of sugar cookies!

(Remember, I warned you about my little holiday obsession.... )

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First snow...

My poor rosemary plant was enjoying 70 degrees on Tuesday....(But I am not complaining!)

I've always loved the first snow of the season. And now I love it even more with the kids. I think it is one of my favorite days of the year. This morning was no different. It really was beautiful. Not just a few flurries and flakes, but a real snowfall.

As they woke up, the kids ran from window to window, checking out all the snowy angles. They were ready to head outside before it was even light.

Henry said "Mom, we'll make a snow family and snow angels and have a snow ball fight and shovel and go sledding." Anna adds "And we'll eat the snow." (her favorite.)

Being that it was so warm just a few days ago, we hadn't pulled out the hats and scarves and mittens and boots yet. So, we dug them out. Of course, Anna needed to try everything on, putting together just the right ensemble for the snowy occasion.

It took her a few tries to get it all just right....She kept missing one thing or another.

Finally, with a little help, we were all dressed and ready for the snow.

It was really coming down hard mid-morning.

As expected, snow was rolled and scooped and moved and pushed...

And eaten!

Henry proved that he had already knew the most important thing about eating snow: "Mom, don't eat it if it is yellow!" (giggle-giggle...)

After nearly an hour and a half, we headed back in, soaked and ready for hot chocolate. It was perfect!