[my life, my blessings, my journey]

little red suitcases

When I was a kid we spent a lot of time with my grandparents. When we would stay the night, I packed up my little red suitcase with ice cream cones on the front. I jammed my bag full of pj's, books and any other little trinket I thought I couldn't live without for 36 hours. These weekends with my grandparents were precious. I feel like I knew it even then; that they were days and hours and memories that I would treasure all of my life.

My grandparents were a huge influence and presence in my life. My grandfather passed away when I was 13. He was larger than life. He ran out of gas all the time. I don't think it occurred to him to fill up his little blue Escort's tank...he had better things to do. And hauling my brother and I out of the car and schlepping our way to the nearest gas station was just part of the adventure for that day. I swear my brother never has less than half a tank of gas in his car...he was scarred for life. When we were with my grandpa, there was always an adventure. High school wrestling tournaments, fall days at the apple orchard, maintaining the chipmunk catch-and-release program he had going in his garage, and the list goes on. He taught my brother and I how to ice-skate. He played kick ball in the backyard with us. He was as enthusiastic about our sports and activities as we were. Just days before he passed away, he was in the stands at my junior high track meet, timing my splits in the 400 yard dash so that we could go over them after the meet. We spent many an afternoon at Lake Nokomis swimming and eating the world's best popcorn out of those red and white striped boxes. He liked margarine, not butter. And he ate shredded wheat out of a small wooden bowl for breakfast every day. These are the things I remember about the weekends with my grandparents. These are the things I would talk with my grandmother about during our visits the past several years. We would laugh and she would roll her eyes and say a lot of "Yes, well..." because that's all you really could say.

And when my girls packed up their little red suitcases this past weekend for an overnight at Nana and Papa's (coincidentally, given to them by my grandma several years ago) , I found myself transported and full of nostalgia. I don't have too many photos from our night at Nana's...we were having too much fun and I didn't want to miss a minute.








Boys are found everywhere -- on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping to. Mothers love them, little girls hate them, older sisters and brothers tolerate them, adults ignore them and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket.
Alan Marshall Beck

the case of the missing coffee filter and other random thoughts

I've always loved black and white photographs. Always. Even before I really got into photography myself. They are timeless, honest and full of soul. I love that when an image is in black and white, you really focus on the subject and everything else just seems to fade away. In this whole "try to find my style" game that I'm playing right now, I realize that, more often than not, I convert my images from color to black and white as soon as I open them to edit. I don't always leave them in black and white obviously, but it hit me this morning that I always choose that option first, just to see what it looks like. Huh. Maybe I'm on to something here.


We have a bit of a problem in our house right now. We have a baby...and babies are kleptomaniacs. Here one minute, gone the next. As I was unloading the d/w several days ago, Jack grabbed the plastic coffee filter basket thing that goes in our Keurig. Matt likes to make his own Caribou rather than use the K-cups so you have to have this other little fancy pants basket thing. Jack grabbed the basket and made off like a bandit with it. We haven't seen it since. We have searched high and low...and we are getting crabby without our caffeine. So, Matt put a bounty on that little basket. He told the girls that whoever finds the basket gets a quarter. Make that TWO quarters. Still, no basket. Rather than continue the futile search, Caroline - being the logical Type A first-born that she is - decided that she would make a list and a map of all the possible places in the house that Jack could have stashed the loot. She set up her "detective office" by our front door. She. is. awesome.






One of our favorite things to do while we wait for Caroline's bus in the afternoon is to have a little dance party. Today it was cleaned-up Katy Perry (my choice). Often, it's Taylor Swift (their choice). It is quite clear that, like most of the male population, Jack really digs Katy Perry. He's a little tired of Taylor. You and me both, kid.






"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~Anais Nin

I read this quote today and it was like a call to arms for me. I need this reminder every day. I am comfortable where I am. I am safe where I am. I like where I am. But I know He has big plans for me. My job is to be open to His plan, to embrace His plan, and to live His plan for my life out loud. The more I blog, the more I share, the more I live, the easier and the more beautiful the blossoming becomes.

Super Iz

Isabel was invited to a birthday party today...a party she was really, really looking forward to for lots of reasons.

{Reason #1} the little guy is such a cutie pie and he is her bestest friend at school (she says).

{Reason #2} She was going to the party by herself. A huge deal when you are three, especially since your older sister wasn't invited too. She only rubbed that in Caroline's face about 17 times since rolling out of bed this morning.

{Reason #3} There will be cake. And ice cream. Possibly Izzie's two most favorite foods in the whole world.

{Reason #4} The potential to score a Batman goodie bag. Girlfriend is all about the goodie bag. It's actually a little embarrassing. I picked her up from a birthday party several weeks ago and C's mom (thankfully, a friend of mine so I wasn't quite as mortified)told me that Isabel had asked her about nine times if she could have her princess goodie bag yet. Nice. Moving on...

{Reason #5} Did I mention there will be cake? And ice cream? Thoughts about what flavors said treats may be have consumed my girl's mind today. Seriously. If you know Iz, you know that I am sooo not exaggerating.

{Reason #6} She got to rock this super-sweet Super Iz ensemble. The birthday boy's mom called me about two hours before the party and said that he decided he wanted everyone to come dressed as superheros. Ooooooookay. So, I set to work trying to figure something out for Iz that she would actually wear. And this is what I came up with. Black shirt? Check. Black leggings? Check. Scrap black fabric from some other random project or last-minute costume? Check. A roll of insanely cute zebra print duct tape? YES!!! (Don't ask me why I have zebra print duct tape...I just do.) Score one for this mama.

She had a great time at the party. Of course, as soon as we piled into the Lady Limo to come home, she digs into her goodie bag. I hear squealing and she screams, "I got a diarrhea!" Whaaa??!! She got a princess DIARY in her goodie bag...whew.

As a side note to my photo friends, HELP! Check out the 2nd and 3rd photos below. It's more difficult to see on the b/w conversions but I'm having trouble with what appear to be huge window reflections on the kids' bodies or in parts of my photos. How do I fix this? It seems to happen more when I shoot wide open or close to wide open. Coincidence? Any thoughts or tips would be so greatly appreciated. :)








The weather here is finally (hopefully) taking a turn toward spring. We have had beautiful, warm, sunshine-y days this week and we are jumping for joy. It is truly amazing what the sunshine and a warm breeze on your face can do for your spirits, isn't it?

I love watching my kids experience the world. Jack had his first taste, literally, of sidewalk chalk. He splashed and sloshed his way through his first giant puddles on the sidewalk and in the little trough between the end of the driveway and the street. He took his first walk down the sidewalk, jabbering away to the girls who were biking ahead of him and stopping to stare at the folks walking their dogs. He is experiencing his first spring and he's loving every minute of it. And so am I.


The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.
~Bern Williams

Shakespeare & some photos

"This above all: to thine own self be true." ~Shakespeare

I'm struggling with finding my own style, my own voice, myself in my photography. I follow several really great photography/life blogs - some of the "authors" I know, others I don't. I used to feel really inspired and motivated when I would look at their photos and try to figure out just how they captured it, what lighting they were working with, what the shots looked like SOOC (straight out of camera) and so on. I ask lots of questions and try to practice often. Sometimes life happens - okay, a LOT of the time it happens - and I don't pick up my camera for a few days.

About a week ago, a friend of mine sent me a great article about being yourself and finding your own voice and inspiration. Stop caring what others think - photograph what you love. I'm taking that advice to heart. My friend couldn't have known it, but this was exactly what I needed right now. A big thanks and hug to you, Stacey.

And so, my friends, these are photos that I've taken recently that speak to me for one reason or another. They are not technically perfect (or even great), maybe they aren't composed according to "the rules" but at least for today, I don't care. With the exception of the black and whites, I really did minimal editing. I'm focusing more on getting the technical stuff right and will worry about composition and artistic impression later - a HUGE lesson I learned about myself during my winter workshop. They make my heart happy and that's what counts.



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one year

Today is the day, one year ago, that we welcomed our sweet little boy, John Matthew (Jack), into our world. As I remember that morning, the emotions and the elation all come rushing back. It's like I'm in that hospital room again, squeezing Matt's hand for dear life and knowing that we will meet our baby any minute. When my doctor told us he was a boy, I think Matt and I were both shocked and amazed. We loved the surprise. He looked just like Caroline did and, after his initial big cry, she laid him on my chest and he quieted almost instantly. He looked straight into my eyes as if to say, "hi Momma." In the quiet dark of that Northfield hospital room, our lives were blessed and transformed for the third time. Below are some images from that morning.

This is my amazing husband, Matt, holding Jack for the first time. He's wearing his "baby day" shirt, as we call it. He wore it during the labors and deliveries of all three of our babies and now that shirt has been retired. It's nestled in the keepsake box alongside the newborn beanies and coming-home outfits. I see that shirt and the tears begin to sting my eyes and wet my cheeks. He was such a proud papa that day.




And today. What a sweet and wonderful year it has been.


back in the groove

I haven't picked up my camera in about two weeks. We've just been busy and when I've had some down time, I guess my mind and my hands have been preoccupied. One of my very favorite things to do is spend the morning - okay, most of the day, really - in my pj's at home with my little loves. I love to be home. No errands, no preschool, no playdates, no agenda. Love it. These days seem to be few and far between lately. But this morning we got to enjoy our jammies, a huge and yummy breakfast together without rushing, and toddling back and forth between bedrooms reading books, playing hide-and-seek and getting nice and wrinkly in the bathtub. A little slice of heaven for this simple girl.

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Apparently Izzie takes after me in the make-up department...not incredibly skilled. Do you like the eye shadow uni-brow? I don't do THAT, exactly...



John Boy turns one tomorrow. Prepare yourselves for an onslaught of pictures from that day and wistful gushing from this momma. You've been warned. :)

Happy Wednesday friends.

you should see MY house...

You know when you're talking to a girlfriend and she says, "You should see my house!" and then you say, "No way. You should see MY house."? The toys, the piles of laundry to be folded, the dishes in the sink, the unswept floors, the dusty mantle, the remnants of breakfast still on the table, the dining room table turned amateur crafters' corner, and the list goes on. You get it, right?

During this season of my life, with three littles under the age of five, this is the default state of my house. I'm not proud of it, just keepin' it real. I'm actually becoming more accepting of this "new normal" and have realized that having a clean and tidy home is not always all it's cracked up to be (tell THAT to my Type A personality). Our house is lived in in a big-time way. And the more I look at the toys and the laundry, the more it all just fades away. The feeling that I keep coming back to is more about what I want my "house" to look like for God. What do I want others to see in my "house", our life, that is glorifying to God? I want others to see a soft place to fall. I want people to see our devotion to raising our children in the ways of the Lord, not in the ways of the world. I want others to see that we are using the gifts and talents that God has given us and impacting those around us. I want people to see how He is moving in our lives and know that it can be the same for them too. I want to be able to say to my girlfriends, "You should see my house!" and be really, really proud of it. I want to hear God whisper, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." I know that He is not asking for perfection, just dedication, trust and a willing heart.

Thanks to all of you sweet folks who have left comments and encouragement here on my lil' ol' blog. They always put a huge smile on my face and confirm that this is all good. Stay tuned for a picture palooza this week and next...our little guy turns one on Thursday and we have lots to show off. :)