Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tea party gig....

Today Anna threw herself a little tea party and I was invited to attend.  Not as a guest mind you, but as the event photographer.


"Mama, will you take the pictures at my party?"



This was quite an exclusive event.  Guest list: Anna and her favorite bear "Ada Pockets."  


Anna brought out her finest china and her guest enjoyed the best pretend tea available.  Imported, I believe.


Of course, Anna was a fine hostess.  Telling the best stories.  Asking the most intriguing questions.  Making her guest feel right at home.





As for Mama?  Well,  Anna did offer me a cup of tea.  I guess she thought she had to offer me something....I was working pretty hard!


As with all of the best parties, time went much too quickly.  But a fine time was had by all.


Until next time.....



Friday, January 28, 2011

Catching up....

My online photography class Picture Winter is coming to a quick end.  I have really loved it, and I'll be sad to see it go.  It's amazing what kind of community you can build with people all over the world, simply by sharing pictures.  Here are some of my latest prompts:

My husband loves computers. Builds them. Fixes them. Understands them. To him, this component is a thing of beauty. To me? Well, I liked the reflection.


Magic Shadow

Lately, Anna (my 3 year old) has been noticing shadows everywhere. So, I have been noticing too. I love how kids do that. They pay attention, and give us the gift of doing the same.


Magic Indeed

My beloved sister is in the Peace Corps in Rwanda. Via technology, we've been able to share in her experiences and learn about a new culture. This was nearly impossible even five years ago. The photo is from Christmas morning. Instead of gathering around the fireplace, we gathered around the laptop. Magic!


(The amazing thing is that after I posted this picture and description, another Picture Winter participant in the class said that her cousins were also in Rwanda in the Peace Corps.  Turns out, they are in Annie's group.  She knows them!!  Okay, that is a crazy small world....)

I think this next photo is one of my favorites....

A Beautiful Mess
My desk. Stacked with notebooks and binders and books and ideas and inspiration. All collected as I work towards a new creative venture. As chaotic as this might seem, I have a clear vision of what I'm reaching for.

It's all. Just. Right. There.....


A final note:
My free photo sessions (see the post below) are filling up fast. (I promised Ray only one a week, and I'm doing my best to stick with that!!)  So, if you would like to set up a date but haven't confirmed it yet, contact me as soon as possible.  When they are gone, they are gone....

Also do take a look at the "Help Me Practice" link above.  That provides more information about my style, what to expect, etc.

Happy weekend!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Free, free, free...

FREE!  That's supposed to get your attention, right?

(this is an image by the amazing Tara Whitney).

Today is my blog's one year anniversary, so I wanted to do something, as the quote above says "that I've never done before..."  So, here goes....

(insert breath-holding.)

I am scheduling portrait sessions between now and the end of June at no charge.  And I welcome anyone who is interested to sign-up. I'm ready to move beyond the kindness of friends, to the kindness of strangers.  (although friends are certainly welcome to contact me too!)

So, in exchange for your time and good looks (and willingness to work with someone who is still learning), we'll take photos for an hour or two.  Then, a few weeks later, I'll mail you a DVD with at least 20 (but probably many more) images.  They are yours to keep and do with what you will.

Complete details are available on the link above "Help Me Practice."  (please check out that information.  I'm not a traditional photographer, and I want to be sure my style fits what you are looking for!!)

Feel free to forward this on to others who you think may be interested.  I can't wait to get started!!


One of my vacation projects was to print some of the pictures I've taken of the kids these past months, and actually hang them on the wall.  This project is always such a big process...choosing the images, sizing them, ordering them, finding frames, finding the right wall space, and then actually getting them up on the wall.  (It seems that last part always entails a little too much math for my liking!)

I was thrilled when my pictures arrived yesterday.  And the day prior, I found exactly the frames I had been looking for on sale at Michael's for $4.00 each.  (Yahoo!) 

I laid the pictures out last night, and just thought about the right order for awhile.


After way too much math and measuring, I hung the pictures this morning....


I love that Henry is admiring the photos, but Anna couldn't care less. So typical of each of them!

And I'm glad that I could cross this item off my vacation to-do list.  

Back to work tomorrow....I'm so grateful for such a wonderful two weeks.  It was glorious!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Clarity at Twenty Below

When we woke this morning, the temperature outside was 20 degrees below zero.  (Yes - 20 below!)  There was no way I was going outside to take a picture.  But fortunately, I woke up in time to snap this sunrise through my bedroom window.

The light was changing so fast.  Just five minutes later and it would have been gone.

(I did get out of bed to take the shot.  However, had I been able to stay under the warmth of my comforter all morning long, I certainly would have....)


There was also a heavy layer of frost on all of our windows.  It didn’t make my husband very happy, but I thought it made for a pretty interesting shot.  I'm amazed at how those bottom ice crystals formed. 


So I think all of this crazy cold weather today helped me clear my head a little bit....  

This morning after I dropped Henry off for school, I had an hour for a quick cup of coffee by myself.  I've really struggled these past few weeks with a constant unsettled feeling. And with it, too much self-torture and angst.  But today, I think a few breaths of cold searing air gave me some much needed clarity.  (Well that, and an extra large cup of coffee helped too!)

Finally, I get it!!  All of this tension was my wake-up call.  My personal neon sign flashing with the answer to a question I really didn't even know I was asking.  Finally, finally, I paid attention and listened. And, can I tell you how great I feel?

(Hmmm.  Amazing what can happen when you work with, rather than against yourself...)

So, with my new-found clarity, a huge weight has lifted.  I have direction and intent.  I know what is next. And I am so very relieved.
However, next time I'm in need of blistering clarity, I'd much prefer it take place at a mild 80 degrees instead!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Looking up...

In just a few days, I will celebrate my blog's one year anniversary.  Sunday will mark the 365th day of Everyday Extraordinary....135 posts (!), countless pictures, sharing things I never imagined I would, a new found blogging community.  And oh-so-much gratitude.

To my great surprise, I've loved every minute of this little venture.  Who knew??  I never ever intended to be a blogger.  But here I am. And I'm amazed....

The picture below is from this summer.  Anna was climbing at the park.  She was reaching for the monkey bars and they were really high up.  But she wasn't scared.  She didn't look down.  She just looked up, determined.  She knew where she was going and damn if she wasn't going to get there. 

And she did.  Without missing a step.

(I am so often overwhelmed by the lessons that my kids teach me....) 


I have no idea what this next year holds.  But, I know that just like Anna, I'm going to keep looking up.  And out.  And beyond. 

My thanks to everyone who stops in from time to time.  Your comments and kindness mean the world to me. I am so very honored to have a little bit of your precious day. 

[This picture is posted to Paper Heart Camera.]

Monday, January 17, 2011


Having time off is fabulous.  Plain and simple.  I have loved every minute of these last days off, and I so look forward to the coming week too.  But, I must admit that among all that joy and relaxation, I spend way too much time thinking about how quickly time is going.  About how much I still want to do.  About how many days are left until I go back to work.  About all the things I won't be able to get done before next Monday....


I swear I am my own worst enemy. I do this to myself all the time. Weekend, holidays, vacations, whatever.  I just may drive myself crazy one day.

Now given this lead up, you'd think I have a miserable job that I despise, but that is far from the truth. I have a great job.  A job I really enjoy and feel very fortunate to have.  Yet, I still play these mind games with myself. 

It all comes down to my feeling that their isn't enough time for everything I want to do. Or should do.  (the dreaded "should...")  Instead of being in the moment, I too often feel deprived of having enough time.  And I constantly refer to that three page to-do list in my head.  The list that never gets completed.  Not even close....

Of course, while I'm wrapped up in my head, I end up missing the beauty and life going on right in front of me.  (you know, the Everyday Extraordinary stuff....). 

One of my 2011 goals is to live in a state of abundance. I will do my best to recognize and celebrate all of the great abundance that I do have in my life.  And for everything else, I will live "as if" I do have it in abundance and then work to create it in my life.  Basically, fake it until I make it.  Simple as that.  

Clearly this time thing is a sticking point for me.  Funny thing is, if I'm honest with myself, I do have enough time.  Time in abundance. It's more about how I use my time.  I need to rid myself of all those time-wasters, regardless of how big or small.  I need to make sure my time is spent on the things I value and cherish the most.  And if that isn't possible right now, I need to to actively work to make it happen.

Most of all, I must take a deep breath and be fully present with whatever is right in front of me.  Right here, right now.  (Screw multi-tasking for a change.  I need to focus!)

This weekend, I decided to practice.  I vowed to do my best to be present.  To be mindful and grateful for what was unfolding in any given moment, without allowing myself to wander off.....

You know what?  It was hard.  Really hard. (of course!) But, having a lens to look through helped.  It gave me something to focus with.  And to focus on.  Clearly, everything I really want is right in front of me, right through my lens. 

The following pictures are a snapshot from our weekend. "As is."  It is my attempt appreciate all the extraordinary, from moment to moment.  In all of it's simplicity and mundane-ness and beauty.


Anna told me she was drawing "Mama with big hair."  (looks like my cut from the 80's)


Anna, post bath....


The kids LOVE riding their scooter/bike in the house. I LOVE that they can get some indoor exercise without me having to get all dressed up and go outside with them.  (I live in Minnesota, and I HATE being cold.  Go figure...)




A group hug for Grandma and Grandpa, from Anna.


Anna got a haircut.  To date, I think this is her third cut in her nearly four years.  Her hair is growing in excruciatingly slow.  Turtle-going-up-hill slow.  But, even so, a good haircut makes it much better.  (Anna loves a chance to go visit her stylist-friend Marina.  I can guarantee Anna will talk about Marina for the next three weeks.  Plus, Anna gets a sucker at the end.  Or three.)


Oh, this is MUCH better.

Our nickname for Anna is "curly," which has nothing to do with her hair.  But, clearly Anna's nickname was a sign of things to come.  Mama, with hair as straight as spaghetti, covets that natural curl....


Thankfully, there was still enough length for a pony-tail.  With more than a few clips, we were able to pull it off. 


Henry's new obsession is the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.  He received the set for Christmas, and we're plowing through them really quickly.  They are perfect for his age.  They are chapter books, but also have drawings on each page, which really help him gauge the context of the story.  And, even if he isn't reading one of the books, he seems to be toting one along with him.  (If you'd see my bag, you'd realize he gets that book hoarding tendency from me). 



I really did my best to be mindful the entire weekend.  When I cooked....


And when I was cleaning up afterwards....(my zen dish-washing meditation...)


My favorite pictures from the weekend captured all the love and laughter and just plain fun.

Anna would squeal "no can't get me.  You can't give me a kiss."  Her favorite game.  Then she'd run, but not too fast.  When Papa would catch her, she'd insist "no, no....more, more..."



Oh look.  It's me in my new readers. (I figured I had to be in at least one picture!)


Legos, legos, legos.  Henry's other obsession.  Henry had a sleepover with his friend Josh the other night, and this is nearly all they did.  Mind you, I'm not complaining.  At all.  I love that he wants to build and create and make up big lego adventures.  It's just that I keep stepping on the darn things. 



There were lots of quiet moments.  Anna and the iPod.


Henry, early morning....



Be still my heart....


Henry loved making these next pictures.  Zooming by the camera.  Just a blur.  "Mom, I'm SO fast!"



Finally, a bedtime snack and the weekend is over. 



So, I did my best.  Clearly I have much work to do.  But I am determined to live with abundance.  Because that is what I have.  Abundance.

And, as always, I will be grateful!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Warm my heart...

Picture Winter
I am behind in posting pictures from my Picture Winter e-course.  Below are the latest few.

As much as I've loved this class, I've found that I've missed taking people pictures.  That is where my heart is.  Everyday.

So, tomorrow, check out the new post: people!!  (yeah, yeah...they might be the same people again.  But they are MY people.  And, I'll take their beautiful faces and expressions anyday over a bowl of fruit!)

January 9th: Bundle Up
Anna's favorite boots.


January 11th:Warm Your Heart


These arrived today. My first glasses ever.


They are just readers, but a big milestone for me none-the-less.... I say "all the better to see you with my sweethearts!!"  XOXOXO


January 12th: Signs of Life
With the holidays over, Anna has been asking when the snow will melt so she can go swimming outside. Today, I found her swimsuit hanging on her door. Right next to her snow boots. I guess she's hedging her bets.


January 13th: Everyday Chaos
Life may be chaotic around here most days. But, at least I know where the fruit is.


January 14th: Beyond the Chill
Sweet sunshine...



January 15th: Cooling It
A forgotten ornament in the "solstice tree" just outside our house.