long overdue photo dump

i've been sitting on some images for awhile now, making them wait until i had some free time to drop them into a blog post along with a nice story so they could finally be free from the confines of my hard drive to roam the big wide world that is the internet.  or at least this tiny little corner of the internet.

but, i don't have free time.  not anymore.  i don't think i've truly had free time since the moment my first made his appearance in this world, but what i did have has continued to shrink with each passing day.  even when i do allot myself some time off to watch tv or go to bed early or actually hang out with my husband, it's not really "free" time.  it's just me deciding i need to switch my brain off from kids or social media or my camera or editing or meal planning or budgeting or lame attempts at homeschooling or the other million things that keep me awake at night.

so, instead of a nice little story or two, tonight you will get a ton of pictures dumped in here and left for you to sort through with your own beautiful and lovely imaginations.  sometimes it's more fun like that anyway.  like one of those picture books with no words where the story can be just a little bit different every time you look through it.

happy imagining <3

/\   that was over a month ago 

\/   this down here was a little more recent ;)

and these next few are just completely random, but i like them so here they are.

personal photojournalism: another walk in the woods

we love walking through the woods over here.  or at least i do, and the men in my life love me enough to humor me every so often with a trip to the forest.

on this particular day, we were all a little tense and grouchy.  the kids were volleying meltdowns between one another and my husband and i were volleying short retorts and frustrated words muttered under our breath.  what i had hoped would be a few hours of time spent bonding as a family was quickly turning into a public display of irritation.

but then, right around this point in our trip, something changed.  our big kid chose a path for us to follow, and suddenly he was invested in our outing, instead of an unwilling participant of family un-happy hour.  seeing his brother perk up, the little decided he'd better follow suit and suddenly insisted on being set down on the ground instead of insisting that he be carried.  and, as is often the case, as the kids became easier to manage, my husband and i were able to relax into the afternoon a little more.  less worried about maintaining control of 2 kids with behavior threatening to careen out of control and more worried about keeping up with 2 kids eager to explore, we were finally able to set off into the forest and just be.

be together.  be a family.  be out in nature and breathe in the air and the woods and creation.

and what better way to end a walk through the woods than with a leaf fight in a beautiful patch of light?  it was the perfect way to wrap up what turned out to be a wonderful family outing.  once you finish scrolling through these images, be sure to circle around and check out  Joy Huber- Lancaster PA Children's Documentary Photographer-  to see what she was up to in October!

personal photojournalism: fall arrives

i'm going to keep the words brief and the images plentiful for this month's blog circle.  as much as i'd love to talk about the fabulous tree at the top of our street that drops its gorgeous yellow leaves several weeks before the rest of the trees in the neighborhood, i think it would be a lot more effective just to show you.

the best part of this tree is that it's right by the special secret spot in our neighborhood where you can almost watch the sun go down instead of just losing it behind the tree line, so there's usually some really yummy light up there at the end of the day.

so when i still needed a picture for my 365 after a long and busy day, and dinner was finished but bedtime still hadn't arrived, and the kids were rammy, the tree and the sunset were calling to us.

it ended up being the most perfect 30 minutes.  the weather was beautiful, the kids were in their element, and the rest of the world just kind of fell away from us as we played and i clicked away.

happy fall :)  be sure to follow the circle around to amanda's post see what she's been up to as the seasons change! Family Photographer in Gwinnett County

another park find

our days of hours-at-a-time spent outside are numbered again as summer ends and the cool weather rolls in.  i was given a harsh reminder today that i don't handle the cold and damp the way i used to, and i realized that we'll probably be spending more time inside this fall and winter than i'd like.  fortunately, the sun was shining this morning (at least at first), so we decided to use one of our numbered days to visit our favorite park again.  

our first half hour was spent exploring the tunnels, stairs, bridges, and slides that wind and twist their way across the park.  one of the things i love most about this park is that it encourages kids to exercise their bodies and their minds.  there's so much to explore and imagine in this place that even i sometimes get lost in the magic of it.

eventually they realized that we hadn't been on the swings yet, so we headed on over to the swing set, both kids hopping onto the big kid swings and giving me a good work out running back and forth between them to keep them going fast enough (we really need to work on pumping).  from the safety of their little red swings, they watched another kiddo swing on the tire swing for about 10 minutes.  once she hopped off, my little made a beeline for it and begged me to put him on- at which point the big decided he was feeling brave enough to try it out too.

to put it simply, they LOVED it.  so much that they were on the tire swing for at least 20 minutes, and i had plenty of time to take a ridiculous number of photos.  prepare for tire swing overload ;)  many of these are painfully similar, so if you're bored you can scroll through to the end- i won't mind.  i just adore the smiles on their sweet faces too much to keep them to myself.

and, since it's selfie week, i figured i might as well jump on and see if i could manage to get any in focus.  somehow, i did :)

happy monday!

we really like school buses

over the summer, my little decided he really loved school buses- which is funny, because we rarely ever saw them.  so you can imagine the excitement in our house over the last few weeks when every morning and afternoon a parade of school buses goes up and down the street.  this afternoon, after the first round went by, the kids went running to grab their own school buses (we've accumulated a surprising number in just 3 years), and we ended up playing with them for the rest of the afternoon.  here's a little peek of what it looked like :)

in honor of having my computer back

over the holiday weekend, my husband and i decided on the spur of the moment that after months of having many large holes in our walls, it was time to finish up spackling and paint our living room.  this was awesome because i now have blank, lovely walls that i can fill back up with holes as i re-hang my collage wall in a new spot.  it was not awesome, however, because it meant all the furniture on our first floor was in disarray for two days, including my computer and desk, which sat unplugged and lonely in the middle of our dining room.  that meant two days of no importing photos, no editing, no blogging, none of it.

my poor heart.

so, as i do a little dance from my computer chair that has been happily reunited with its rightful spot as i gaze dreamily at our new pixel white (which are actually quite grey) walls, i've decided to do a share of the photos i took over the last two days to make up for their lengthy confinement on my camera's sd cards.

enjoy ;)

personal photojournalism: dinner from the snack bar

september is here, which means that summer is officially on its way out.  because my heart is breaking a little bit over the loss of extra sunlight and balmy evenings, sunscreened skin and chlorined hair, and fresh fruit picking and corn on the cob, i decided to dedicate this post to what will probably be our last evening of the year at the pool.

a typical afternoon spent at the pool for us involves me hauling two huge bags in along with myself and the kids- one bag for our towels, toys, and clothing, and another bag full to the brim with food.  granola bars, pretzels, veggie straws, grapes, apple slices, water bottles, you name it, i throw it in.  my kids love to eat at the pool.  and who doesn't? i remember hitting up the snack bar every half hour during our trips to the pool as a kid as my mom's stash of quarters quickly dwindled.  unfortunately, we've got some fun food restrictions to contend with, so we've avoided our pool's snack bar all summer to simplify our lives.  the other night, though, we had had a long day and knew the boys needed to blow off steam- and so did we.  so we grabbed a few bucks, packed some applesauce pouches, and promised the boys hot dogs for dinner.

they loved it, and so did we.  it was the perfect family evening, and i couldn't have asked for a better way to end the summer.

keep circling around and visit christine hurla's blog to see how she ended her summer: Kansas City Family Photos

a monday morning hike

my attention has been divided into so many pieces over the last few months that most of my 365 shooting has been aimed at getting a single great (or, honestly, good) shot each day.  and that's not necessarily a bad thing- it saves me time at the computer in the evenings, it helps me focus on refining my ability to shoot in specific types of light, it gives me a chance to try out new techniques, etc etc etc.

but.

i love telling stories.  a lot.  i love reading them out loud, i love relaying them to friends, and i love using my photos to create them.  so when one of my favorite photography groups on fb had a bit of a revival last week to draw it back to its roots of documentary, storytelling photography, it made me realize that i need to have a bit of a revival myself.

so today, instead of trying for one single great (or good) shot, i dusted the cobwebs off my mental checklist for shooting to tell a story and captured our morning hike through a local forest.  enjoy :)

the first time we visited this forest, this staircase was precarious, at best.  the last time we visited, there was no staircase (but there was plenty of caution tape).  so this time, all three of us were excited to check out the new stairs leading to the hiking trails.

the boys wasted no time, and immediately took off down the trail where they each weaved in and out of the dappled light as the sunshine filtered through the leaves onto the treasures they found less than a minute after our walk started.  and so of course, as they were collecting leaves and sticks, i was collecting a frame or two of the little yellow flowers lining the entrance to the woods.

one of the things i love most about these outings i take with my boys is to watch them as they explore and discover.  they both have such different ways of approaching the world, and they both notice and value different things, but they always look to one another for guidance and encouragement just the same.

and then, of course, we had to stop for a snack break- followed by a hit of the paci and a momma snuggle for the little, who i think was starting to feel a little overwhelmed and certainly a little tired.

now that he had refueled, my big discovered that the forest has a lot of rocks.  first he found the big ones that had collected around the benches where we sat to eat, and after throwing them onto the ground (his favorite thing to do with rocks), he noticed that the path we had recently turned onto was literally made of small rocks.  which meant the rest of our hike consisted of him stopping every 10 steps to dump his current fistful of rocks to replace it with the new, clearly superior rocks now beneath his feet.  and sometimes stash a few in his pocket.  meanwhile, the little imitated him for awhile, and then moved on to his own personal forest favorite- the stick :)

once the initial excitement of the rocks died down a bit, i got us walking again and shortly thereafter we came upon a bridge over a small creek.  in case you didn't know, creeks are the ideal place for chucking rocks, so of course that reignited the need for rock collecting and tossing.  luckily, there was no one else around, so i left them to their devices and took the opportunity to shoot a few details shots, including this massive spider whose web was hanging directly at my eye level smack in the middle of the trail.  i'm just grateful he didn't end up in my hair.

with a little (or possibly a lot) of persuasion, we ended our rock throwing and headed back towards the car.  our last discovery for the day was these cool little pine cones that we found littered across one section of the trail.  unfortunately, they held our attention just long enough for both kids to hit the "i've waited too long for lunch" threshold, and i ended up carrying one most of the way back (until we got back to the stairs and suddenly his legs worked again!) and the other one got a stern talking to once we reached the car.  

the downside (or possibly the upside) to being your own family documenter is that you miss out on catching the moments like that, but i'm thankful for the parts of the story from today that i was able to hold onto.

happy monday all <3 

the greenawald family

it's funny how life works sometimes.  i met my husband in college, like a lot of people do, and while we were there we each made a lot of friends.  some of them were mutual, and others weren't, simply because while a lot of our time overlapped, between different classes and jobs, a lot of our time did not.  at his on-campus job, my husband met a guy named jason, and in one of his classes, he met a girl named samantha.  eventually, samantha became jason's wife.  while i saw jason a handful of times if i happened to stop by the office, i never really got to know him or samantha, simply because life never really allowed us the time or opportunity to cross paths.

fast forward several years, and we found ourselves at the wedding of a mutual friend from college, seated at the same table with jason and sam.  we chatted, as you do at weddings, and discovered that they have a son around the same age as our youngest, and so we were quickly swapping toddler stories- who walked when and how, picky eating habits, terrible sleep patterns, all the parenting stuff.  we laughed and had a lovely time, and on our way home, i turned to my husband and told him that i couldn't believe i'd never had a chance to get to know these two people in college.  they do life so much like we do, and were such fun people to be around, i was sad i had missed the chance to build a friendship with them when they lived walking distance away, instead of an hour drive.

so, of course, i friended samantha on facebook as soon as i got home that night, and i've been enjoying her sweet, honest, funny, and completely relate-able posts about her life as a momma ever since.  

you can imagine how excited i was when she contacted me about doing a session for her and her family to document her growing bump before the arrival of baby number 2.  that meant spending an evening with this totally sweet, down to earth couple, while also getting to meet and play with their adorable toddler- all while taking pictures of them.  i was all-in before i could even finish reading her first message to me.

let me tell you what- the night did not disappoint.  we had a bit of a hiccup when we showed up to the Reading Public Museum and realized it's a hot spot for pokemon-go players (no exaggeration, there were people e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.) but we were able to find ourselves a quiet spot or two and then just let the little guy lead our evening.  the bond he has with his momma? incredible:

although his bond with his daddy was just as clear- and i suspect it's going to grow even stronger once baby sister comes on the scene ;)

they are truly a beautiful example of a family built on love for one another, and even though the weather was hot, and there was much toddler chasing, it was clear that this baby girl is going to be joining a family that knows the value of being together.

oh- and on our way back to the parking lot, we spotted an ice cream truck.  they decided to stop, and of course i asked if i could follow them around just a liiiiiiiiiittle bit longer.  any night that ends in ice cream is a good night :)

walking harrisburg

last weekend, i got to kill two birds with one stone when i met one of my photographer friends in real life for the first time and did some more street shooting as we walked the streets of harrisburg together.  it was just as wonderful as the day i spent walking lancaster with another photographer friend- and i think that i'm very, very slowly becoming more comfortable with photographing random people on the street.  

during my first photo walk, i avoided people as much as i could and stuck to architecture and detail shots.  this time, however, i really wanted to be more intentional about shooting the people that bring the city to life.  i'm a master people watcher (ask my husband; he often points out that i'm staring even though i had no idea), so all i really need to do is put my camera in front of my face and do what i usually do.  the problem is, a lot of people run away as soon as they see your camera, either because they think they're in your way or because they don't want to be photographed, so it requires a little bit of sneakiness to get what you're going for.  i've still got to refine my technique a little bit, and i ended up missing focus on what would have been my favorite shot of the day (amish guy with beard below!), but i did end up with a few i'm relatively pleased with.

here's (some of) harrisburg through my eyes :)

a weekend at the beach

i already write this post once and when i was *almost* finished, the entire thing disappeared.  normally i'd be annoyed, but i'm especially mad right now because i specifically dedicated my 90 minutes of afternoon work time while the kids are sleeping/having down time to getting it done.  so, since i'm letting my kids watch an extra half hour of cartoons to knock it out, here's the short version of what i had planned to say:

1.  this vacation was amazing.

2.  i really like these pictures.

3.  i wish i was in more of them.

and now here's a bunch of pictures for your viewing pleasure.  they're in chronological order, so i'll let them tell the story without butting in with a bunch of words no one will read anyway ;)

the pool at golden hour

so there's this magical time of day that happens in the hour or two following sunrise and the hour or two preceding sunset when the sun is low in the sky and it spills a golden sort of magic all over the world.  photographers call it the golden hour, other people refer to these times as "i'm not getting out of bed yet" and "dear lord can i please put the kids to bed now".  

the truth is, as much as i *love* playing with the light during the golden hour, for about 45 weeks out of the year, it's a completely impractical time for me to be running around taking photos, especially since my main subjects are my children.  if you've spent any amount of time around me in the last 2 years, you know i've always got my camera in my hands and in front of my face, but even i'm not crazy enough to mess with my kids' eating and sleeping schedules.  not even for the sake of super yummy fabulous light.

tonight, however, was a night we made a bit of an exception to the rule.  we decided to take advantage of what was truly a perfect summer day and have an early picnic dinner at the pool.  by the time we were done eating, we were juuuuust entering into the time of light filled magic-y goodness, and so despite the looming risk of my camera getting splashed, i of course whipped it out and took full advantage of our gold coated evening excursion.  i hope you enjoy the result as much as i enjoyed the process :)

looking for birds, as he always does when we're outside <3 

at this time a year ago, i would have deleted this one without a second glance because the focus fell on the table in front of them and not on their sweet faces.  but a year is a long time for learning and growing, and so now i say "forget you, rules".  i adore this image.  everything about it.  so it will stay, and i will love it.

oh, and this basketball court?  this basketball court in the evening is what dreams are made of.  i'm not kidding, it's SO beautiful on this court as the sun sets next to it.  the shadows are drool worthy.  the only thing i'd change is to put a wooden fence around it so there was a nice clean backdrop instead of a chain link fence with cars on the other side.  but you know, reality and all that.  i'll take what i can get  :)

personal photojournalism: when your youngest turns two

welcome to this month's personal photojournalism blog circle!  when you're done checking out my little's birthday, make sure you click around the circle to see what christine hurla, overland park family photographer has been up to.

a little background first: last year, shortly after i realized i wanted to dedicate myself to learning documentary photography, i decided it was time to challenge myself a little more, so i took advantage of my my baby's first birthday and shot a day in the life to commemorate the day.  i loved it so much, and was so thankful to have all those photos, that i did the same for my big's birthday that october.  after that, i realize it would be silly to stop there, so i've pledged to shoot a DITL for their birthdays as long as I'm able to, until they're big and grown and not living in my house anymore.

my little turned two at the beginning of the month, and even though i finished the images over a week ago, i just haven't had a chance to blog them yet, so i figured this was the perfect opportunity.  i ended up with over 100 images from his day, but to save you from having to scroll for miles to see them all, i'll be sharing the abbreviated version here ;)

morning wake up routine: juice, cereal, and cartoons followed by some play time and a diaper change ;)

we've somehow created the tradition of having our birthday cake for breakfast.  initially we would just have leftovers for breakfast the day after, but when you're a toddler and you know there's cake, it's hard to wait all day.

then we got dressed, had a little tantrum (he did turn two, after all), and headed outside so he could get his gift.

the tantrum continued, but he once he realized that a tricycle is actually really cool, he chilled out a little bit ;)

of course, then there was the challenge of explaining to big brother why he didn't get a new tricycle and that he couldn't ride it until after little brother was done.  fortunately for him, his brother needed a break pretty quickly.

we played outside for awhile before we headed in for snack and a potty break, and then we headed back out for a trip to the park before lunch.

then it was home for lunch- but first, tantrum number two that resulted in him refusing to eat lunch unless he was on my lap.

which meant an early nap as soon as he finished "eating".

after nap, we headed over to grandma and grandpa's house for some family time with our cousins and grandparents.

and then, after our gorgeous dinner out on the deck among those we love, it was time to go home and wrap up the day.  bath, book, bed, and the end of birthday number 2 for my baby number 2.

sunflowers abound

last summer, a sweet friend of mine messaged me with the location of a field full of sunflowers because she is kind and thoughtful and knew i might like to photograph it.  unfortunately, last summer was the perfect storm of me not being able to do much because of the age and stage the boys were at, and my undiagnosed RA, so we never did make it out.

luckily for me, that friend is not only kind and thoughtful, she is also smart and persistent, and so she messaged me again a few weeks ago to let me know that the sunflowers were about to bloom- and this time i refused to miss it.  my initial plan was to head out solo at sunrise to catch some pretty light and hopefully not run in to other folks hoping to photograph and pick flowers to bring home.  it was pouring when i woke up this morning though, so instead i waited for it to clear, and then my boys went with me around mid-morning and i'm so glad they did.  we were only there for about 20 minutes, but we really enjoyed walking through the field and choosing our favorite flower to bring home- and truthfully i'm really digging the images i was able to get.  so much so that i'll probably be heading back sometime soon before the blooms are gone :)

 

many thanks to the owners of please wash me car wash for their generosity in allowing folks to come out and take photos (and flowers!) as they please.  gestures like this spread so much happiness and truly make the world a better place to be :)

pool day

i has been hotter than the surface of the sun this last week, and just like i'm a big old baby when it's cold, i'm an equally big old baby when it's hot.  i don't.do.hot.  however, i also don't do kids-cooped-up-inside-day-after-day, especially when we have a pool membership and the pool is approximately a 30 second drive away.  so, today we packed it up and headed over for some outside time.  thankfully, the rest of our township apparently hates the heat as much as i do, so it was pretty quiet today, and we got ourselves a great spot in the shade by the wading pool.

normally, i'm pretty reluctant to bring my camera to the pool with me because there are so many ways for it to get lost, damaged, or stolen, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, sometimes i feel the urge to take the risk.  i love my kids in their swimsuits.  i love the way the light shines on the water.  i love the bright sun and vibrant colors.  i love being that crazy lady laying in the grass taking pictures.  okay, maybe not so much that last one, but the pool is such a big part of our summers that i really do want to make sure that some of our time there gets documented.

as per our usual routine, the first thing the boys wanted to do when we arrived was have a snack while i got our spot set up.  once the blanket was out, they took their granola bars and got comfy.  the big decided it was a good day for sprawling out, and bless his sweet heart the little just had to try to do the same.

most of my picture taking was limited to the blanket today since i didn't have my husband there to be on lifeguard duty in case one of them decided to face plant in the water.  while they were contained and happy, i figured i might as well try a selfie with my boys.  it didn't turn out that great, but i still think it's important to grab shots like this when i can.

and then, right before we left and my little was burned out from the water and hiding in the playhouse, i sent my big into the empty wading pool and gave him permission to splash to his heart's content.  i got my on-prompt backlight image, and he got the chance to do the one thing he's always wanting to do that i'm always stopping him from doing.  win-win :)

adventures in rv camping

it's been 9 days since i last posted here, which is the longest i've gone without blogging all year.  between going away for 5 days, accruing a giant editing backlog, working with a deadline, and mom-ing on top of it all, attending to this space has gotten shoved to the bottom of my priority list over and over again.  still, there's no time like the present to jump back in, and so i'm going to start with a few-words-but-many-pictures post summing up the trip i took with the boys and my parents last week in their RV.  

this is the first vacation that we've been able to join my parents on in their new home-away-from-home, so we were bummed when the dates clashed with my husband's work schedule, but i knew i couldn't pass up the chance to get my boys camping- especially since we had an opportunity to spend some time with my grandparents too.

i was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the entire trip went; from the 7 hour drive down and back, to the nights where i had to put them both to sleep on my own in beds that weren't theirs, to long rainy days and missed naps.  they both did a marvelous job, and we had a fantastic time to boot.

of course, because they're still little and creatures of habit like their momma, we ended up doing a lot of the same things we usually do at home (bubbles, balls, race cars, snack, snack, snack), and we did them over and over (and over) because of the rain, but it didn't stop us from having  fun.  one day we even took a nature hike through the woods while it sprinkled (no pictures of that!) and then got soaking wet and muddy when we played on the playground when we got worn out from walking.

we also took advantage of an offer from my aunt and uncle to take us to the virginia living museum to see their dinosaur exhibit, which ended up being the highlight of our time down there.  i've never seen both of my children so over-the-top excited about anything, ever.  the museum lighting wasn't easy to work with, so these aren't all that great to look at, but they at least give you an idea of the joy this side trip brought.

aside from that, we just leaned in and enjoyed the chance to be away from home with mimi and grandaddy, hanging out and doing nothing of consequence.  we even got to play with some fun new treasures that we acquired while we were down there- like a thrift store scooter, a set of walkie-talkies from my grandmother, and an old pair of sunglasses the big managed to unearth from the back seat of my overflowing little car.

happy camping indeed <3