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'  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 :)

time warp days

every now and then, i'll have a day that knocks me on my emotional butt.  a day when the reality of time hits me harder than a glass of wine started and finished while cooking dinner. they happen once every few months, and they have a tendency to sneak up on me when i least expect it, and they leave me feeling all the things there are to feel, all at one time.  

i'm a person who is easily distracted- by the monotony of daily life, by the way my body decides to feel on any given day, by the weather, by current events, by the sudden lack of daniel tiger on netflix- what i'm saying is, it's easy for me to lose sight of the things that are standing right in front of me because i allow my attention to be stolen by other, less important things.  that's not to say i don't notice things, because i do.  i hear my 2 year old sing the abc's for the first time, or watch as my 3 year old zips up his jacket on his own after weeks of practice, but with my mind unfocused and my heart in denial, the reality of what they mean often escapes me.  

and then, i'll have a time warp day.  a day like today, when all of a sudden, i see my kids for the first time as these people who are not the same people they were 8, or 6, or even 2 weeks ago.  i manage to look up through the haze of meal planning and cash budgeting and the second migraine this week and it hits me- really, truly sinks into my heart- that they have grown.  parts of them are gone, discarded, left behind in their memories and my heart and a few gigabytes on my hard drive.  and at the same time, i'm able to see other parts that are completely new.  i watch my big get dressed all on his own, and the last 3 weeks of him getting dressed without help rushes at me like a crashing wave and even though i saw it happening, i didn't understand.  not really.  not till today, when i realize that this is no longer a skill that we're working on.  he has arrived.  he has practiced, mastered, and gained this independence, and i smile with a fierce, deep pride while i cry as i say goodbye to this part of him that i'll never get back.

and then my little, my baby, looks up at me from across the hall and says "momma, i put daddy's shoes on".  and all these weeks of him speaking longer sentences, all the text messages to his daddy sharing the latest cute words, all the praises of his efforts to communicate with us, they all combine together into this one sentence that hangs in the air between us, and what it really says is "time is moving past us, and i am moving with it."  and i am reminded that everyday, there is something new, but to make room for the new, they have to shed the old.  his words now are so beautiful and precious, his voice one of my favorite sounds, but my heart aches for the days when he would wander through our house and growl, simply for the sake of hearing and feeling the power of his voice.  i am so excited to welcome this little one who now likes to dress up in daddy's shoes and pretend he goes to work too, but a part of me mourns the loss of the even littler one who would rather just sit and chew on the shoelaces.

the truth is, i need time warp days.  i need to take the time to notice- to really, truly, honestly see- how incredibly my children are growing.  i need a submersion in reality, and not the reality of laundry and dirty dishes and cleaning the toilet seat for the 800th time.  the reality of what being a child means, of what the rewards of the work of motherhood are, a reminder to slow down and cherish it all, because eventually all of it will be gone.  time will gradually take who they are and replace each part bit by bit with a newer, older, more independent part until one day, even though they'll always be mine, they won't really be mine anymore.  they will be their own, and they will continue on through life carrying a piece of my heart with them.  and when that day comes, i will be grateful for these pictures i have of them, so i can have a whole new kind of time warp day.  i can go back and remember how round their cheeks were, how wild their hair was after a long hard sleep, how their legs looked so long but so chubby, how their little dimpled hands found mine when they were overwhelmed or lonely or just looking for reassurance of love.  i take these pictures and collect these moments so that when we're done living them, i can have them to remember, always, the beauty of the time that passed us by.

the wonders of a new park

so the theme for this week is landscape photography, but let's be honest- i'm terrible at landscape photography.  i also don't have much of an interest in getting any better at it because i'd much rather devote my time to improving on my skills that have potential ;)  so, i think i'm going to leave the landscape photography to my talented friends who have a true eye for it and intentionally go off prompt this whole week.

today's weather is absolutely glorious, and i have a new 2 year old who is eager to ride his new tricycle uninhibited by petty obstacles like hills that are too steep to pedal up or streets that are too busy to ride in, so this morning we packed up the bikes and headed to our local elementary school.  we've never stopped at this particular playground because if school's not in session, then we're usually at the pool or at a different park, but all of our usual stops are overrun with summer camp kids, so we had to venture outside of our comfort zone a bit today.

turns out, that was the best thing that could have happened for all three of us.  the kids loved the equipment, there was an enormous amount of blacktop space for bike riding, and ample shade for me to hide in when the sun got to be too much.  in fact, i hadn't even intended to do a blog post today because i didn't anticipate getting many keepers from our little outing, but i wound up with 17 images that i just couldn't part with, so here we are.

^ when you tip your tricycle and refuse to let your mom help you up, she will take pictures of you moping instead.

happy monday all <3

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 

personal photojournalism: june photo dump

once you're done checking out my month, make sure to scoot your way around the blog circle by checking out crane creek photography's post- amanda's gwinnett county family photography is just beautiful!

i've noticed that the older i get, the faster time seems to slip through my fingers.  when i was a kid, an hour could stretch the span of an entire day; even as a teenager, time was a thing that i impatiently waited to pass me by.  

now that i'm grown, married, and have two kids and a husband that i would like to cherish, it seems that a day barely lasts an hour.  don't get me wrong, there are pockets of time within each rapidly passing day that feel as though they stretch across a lifetime (i'm looking at you, grocery store temper tantrums), but overall, i would give anything to have those days back where the first week of a month would keep going for an eternity.

all of this to say that the month of june breezed past me like my 3 year old streaking through my living room- i knew it was happening, but by the time i had a chance to look up and really see what was going on, it was already gone.  

i took a ton of pictures this month, many of which never made it past my desktop, so i decided i'd share some of them in one great big photo-dump post for this month's personal photojournalism blog post.

 i figure if i can't slow down time, then i might as well use it to the best of my advantage and document the moments i wish would last.

i already look forward to years from now, when they don't fit in my lap anymore, when they'd rather be alone in their rooms than racing cars around the floor with me, when their voices are deep instead of raspy and soft, to pulling out these photos and being able to remember.  

it will be like retrieving the minutes and hours that have slipped past without my permission and holding on to them for just a little longer.

the painful truth is, these days i'm living now are fleeting.  they are beautiful and joy-filled and frustrating and exhausting, but i know that i'll blink and they'll be over.  and because of that, i'm thankful for these images i have, these little pockets of time collected and saved to be re-lived and re-loved and to stand as proof that it really did happen, and it really was as wonderful as the memories make it seem <3

happy july everyone- make it a month to remember :)

bowling with your best friend

i have so much to discuss on here.  like how amazing the camera i rented last week was.  or how it's important to have a back up plan when your speedlite decides not to work for a wedding ceremony that gets moved inside at the last minute due to a thunderstorm.  or how rearranging 1/3 of your house and getting a new desk makes you even more excited to do your work than you were before.

unfortunately, i have no time to talk about any of that.  somehow it's already 10 o'clock at night, and i'm only halfway through everything on the night's to-do list.  so instead, here's a photo dump from this morning of what it looks like when 2 best friends take their 4 kids, ages 2 months- 3.5 years out to the bowling alley.  enjoy :)

when the floor turns to lava

my husband and i are in full "rearrange the house to maximize everything" mode (this randomly happens to us from time to time), which means that every day for the last 4 days, the furniture in our living room has found itself in a different place than the day before.  my children, whose pictures appear in the national geographic encyclopedia of rare and exotic animals next to the entry "creature of habit", are handling the (somewhat) organized chaos in two different ways.  my youngest has turned into a stubborn blob that alternately cries while hitting anything that dares to come too close and claws his way up my legs in order to try to climb into my shirt so he can kangaroo there for eternity.  my oldest, on the other hand, has taken his already overactive imagination and turned it up to 11.

today, the floor was lava.  happiness ensued :)

here's to never being so grown up that we can't allow ourselves to get lost in the imagination of a child <3 

any other saturday

today was a fairly run-of-the-mill saturday in our house.  with the exception of taking the big to get his stitches removed (which hopefully does not become a normal part of life around here), we did the sorts of things we usually do- woke up slow, watched some tv, made family french toast for breakfast.  the little napped earlier than usual because the trauma of his brother leaving the house without him to go to the doctor was too much to bear, but it worked out well because once he woke up (and i got him sitting at the table long enough to eat), we were able to head out to visit my parents for the afternoon- something we're thankfully able to do every other week or so.

what i liked most about today was that it was an excellent reminder that there's quite a bit of magic to be found in ordinary days.  there's the mood transforming magic of sitting down and eating a meal with family.  there's magic in exploring in mimi and grandaddy's light-filled backyard, and there's certainly a special, quiet sort of magic in winding down for the evening on the couch with daddy.  

some days, i feel guilty for how many of our days boil down to being the same thing done over again.  i feel like i should be providing experiences and for my children, to introduce them to as many corners of the world as we can get to while they're still little and learning- but then we have days like this where the sameness is what makes the day beautiful.  living life on repeat gives you the chance to get it right, to try again, to really look for the new and different while surrounded by the safety of the familiar.

in a few weeks, we'll be stepping out of our routine and taking a vacation that is new and different, and i'm so excited for all that trip will bring.  but, for now, i'm letting myself lean in to living within our world of repetition and predictability.  i'm learning to embrace the opportunities that sameness brings, and i'm thankful that this is where we are right now.  i wouldn't have it any other way <3 

two days in one, with 200 days to go

for those who haven't been following me long, i'm currently on my second project 365, which means that since january 2015 i've been taking, editing and posting at least one photo a day.  in that time, i have only missed posting a daily photo twice- once was a few months ago when i was very sick and unable to effectively use my arms, and the second time was yesterday, when my big decided that instead of our usual evening routine of a family walk followed by bath, bed, and then me getting my daily photo done, he would rather bust open his head on the driveway and spend 2 hours in urgent care with me.  so, even though i had taken several photos throughout the day yesterday, by the time i got him stitched up, back home, and asleep in his own bed, it was late and i was d.o.n.e.  i decided that having to experience the trauma of my 3 year old experiencing the trauma of getting stitches for the first time was a valid excuse for skipping a post, and so this post is a combination of day 165 and day 166.  

this is kind of neat (at least for me, cause i'm a nerd) because day 165 would be the "200 days to go!!!!" day for a normal project 365- but this year is a leap year so technically, day 166 is the "200 days to go!!!!" point.  so instead of feeling squirmy and needing to choose which day to highlight a (mostly meaningless) day in this project of mine, yesterday's missed post means i can skip deciding and do a happy dance while smooshing the days together- because sometimes, crap happens (3 year olds with stitches), and other times, life wraps itself up neatly into brown paper and ties itself up with a sweet little bow and sits happily on my desk while i work (this post).

so, here's day 165 (i only got 2 keepers... yesterday was a hard day):

and here's today, day 166:

please notice, in the above images, that his legs are covered in frozen band aids.  these are the band aids that i spent a ridiculous amount of money on this morning in order to bribe him into covering up his head wound so that i don't have to stare at it all day.  upon purchasing these band aids, he developed an immediate and pressing need to cover every blemish he could find on his legs until every movie character was adequately represented with each stride.  but, when i asked who he wanted to cover up his stitches:

notice the lovely gash just below his hair line.  this is a spirited explanation of how he got his boo-boo and why stitches obviously don't require a band aid.  he's a hand talker, just like his momma.  poor thing.

and so, his unscathed legs remain covered with half a box of overpriced licensed band aids, and his 3 stitches remain oh-so-pleasantly uncovered in plain sight.  sigh.  at least he's cute ;)

and hey- 200 days to go!!!!


movies with preschoolers

several weeks ago, we decided the time had come for our 3.5 year old to be done taking afternoon naps.  however, in order to help me maintain my sanity, and to prevent him from becoming too painfully grouchy by the end of the day, we've instituted the rule that he needs to have "down time" while his little brother naps- which translates to him watching a movie on the couch for an hour and a half every afternoon.  it's been going really well- he enjoys his special movie time, and his bedtime routine has been cut almost in half.  so, today, when we were out visiting our favorite friends and nap time rolled around, my friend offered to pop in a movie for all 3 boys to watch and i quickly agreed.  her 3 year old has a similar routine to my big, and the little was so tired from not being conked out in his own crib that he was slowly turning into a blob of glazed eyes and drool (in a cute way, of course).  the point is, i thought it would be fun to see how these three friends did hanging out together on the sofa watching a movie at nap time, and i was not disappointed.  here is a brief visual breakdown of how it went:


left: I'M SO EXCITED!!!     center: ohmygoshi'msotired     right:  it's okay, just stay awake!


this is the best thing ever.

starting.  to feel.  tired.

need space.  spread out.

must stay awake.  must watch movie.

after i took that last one, i ended up sitting next to them and getting sucked in to the movie myself... for about 10 minutes, at which point both my kids started to cry from tiredness/the break in routine/they sensed i wanted to watch the movie, and then my friend's 2 month old woke up, so we decided it was time to scoot (i'm a great friend like that- sorry my kids woke up your baby... BYE!).  now we just have a good excuse to watch the second half of inside out the next time we visit :)

strawberry picking

my children love- L.O.V.E.- strawberries.  they also (mostly) love being outside.  i, too, love strawberries and being outside.  and i really, really love finding things to do that get my children out of the house and engaged in something that doesn't involve climbing on me or hitting one another.  so it should come as no surprise that i've been checking our local orchard's website twice a week since mid april to look for updates on when the strawberry crop would be ready to pick this year.  finally, they posted that they would be open on memorial day, so i looked at my calendar and chose a date.  i told the kids we were going, and i'm pretty sure my youngest said the word "strawberry" 50 times in under a minute the whole time we were getting ready.  it's not hard to get us amped about new things around here :)

the thing about strawberry picking is that it's equal parts awesomely fun and overwhelmingly stressful.  the big was old enough this year to give him basic instructions and let him loose without constant supervision, which worked to reduce the stress quotient- for about a minute, and then his insecurities got the best of him and he decided he had to ask if every.single.strawberry that he picked was "red and shiny enough".  

then, after adding approximately 13 berries to his quart container, he declared it full and asked to start putting his berries into my container instead.  still, it was easier to handle him than his little brother.  this guy, bless his sweet beautiful heart, made it his mission to pick the tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiniest strawberries growing on every bush.  and, because the berries he chose were so small, and his hands are the preciously chubby, clumsy hands of an almost two year old, by the time each berry made it to the container, they were basically just mushy blobs on stems.

add to that the constant need to remind them which row to pick from (and to watch their feet), my unsolicited appointment to leader of the taste testing prevention squad, and the attempt to actually fill both quart containers with ripe, edible strawberries, and by the time we were done, i was grateful.  

still, even with the hectic-ness of it all, i wouldn't trade that day for the world.  listening to my little chime the word "strawberry" in his raspy little voice every time he plucked a berry made my smile grow bigger.  and my heart was so full as i listened to my big chat in his lively little voice about how strawberries grow and which ones were the best to pick and how much fun he was having.  and of course, there was the few minutes we spent enjoying the fruits of our labors (get it? ha!) before climbing into the car to head home.  strawberries are never sweeter than when they're still sunshine-warm, and little fingers are never as lovely as when they're juice stained and sticky and asking for just one more <3 

here's to starting summer off right :)

shooting street

i've been wanting to try street photography for some time now.  it's a style that has always intrigued me, but the thought of actually doing it was always so intimidating that i never bothered to try.  besides, i didn't have the equipment or ability to even think about attempting it until after my kids came on the scene- and the idea of juggling my children while also tackling a brand new style of photography (in public, in an unfamiliar setting) was enough to make me want to hide in my house and never leave.


but then, an opportunity presented itself for me to try street shooting in philadelphia with a group of other like-minded women- and the best part was that it was an event that was scheduled for 2 days after i turned 30.  there couldn't have been a better opportunity for me to step out and try something new just for me.  so, i lined up a babysitter (coughmyparentscough) and signed up.

of course, i was crushed when the city walk was canceled due to weather.  but, like so many things, an unfortunate situation ended up turning into something even better.  a friend i met online through my first 365 project only lives about 30 minutes from me, and when she heard of my disappointment, offered to meet up with me to take our own walk through the streets of lancaster city.  my wonderful husband agreed to take over for the afternoon so i could have a few hours to worry about nothing but what was on the other side of my lens, and so michelle and i headed out for lunch and a relaxed stroll around the city while we chatted and snapped away.

we started at the market and then headed over to the convention center, and from there i honestly don't remember where we walked.  i'm directionally challenged to begin with, and add that to being entrenched in finding interesting things to photographing and it's a miracle i'm able to even remember that we were in lancaster.

and while these images that i took that morning are nothing spectacular, they still have meaning to me.  i'm eager to get out and walk the city again so that i can work on creating images that have life and connection, but these images will always be the proof that i tried something new and different and that i was finally willing to step out of my box.

i'm already going through these and looking at everything i want to differently next time- switch lenses, go out at sunrise, get lower, shoot higher, slow down- but i also look at these remember that every great thing starts somewhere.  i hope this can be my starting point for something new that i can continue to pursue and improve.



pocket full of sunshine

so i'm in this amazing facebook group- i've talked about it before, the one where the focus is on finding different kinds of light- and the new theme for this month is pockets of light.  this theme is awesome and i love it.  shooting using pockets of light creates really dramatically lit images with gorgeous contrast that i can't get enough of.  plus, when you're shooting documentary, it's a really fun challenge to find ways to get your subject into the pocket.  sometimes it means moving yourself until you get the right angle, sometimes it's setting up your shot and waiting until your subject moves into the light, or maybe it's baiting your three year old by placing a brownie in the light pocket on the kitchen counter at 7 am (i mean, what?  i would never do that.  i'm an excellent mother).

i would also never, ever let my kids watch netflix on my phone at the end of our morning park excursion because of a cool bench and well-placed light.  

honestly though, i had so much fun light hunting today.  i've enjoyed every theme that's been presented since i joined the finding the light group, but i think this is one that will really occupy my brain.  everywhere we went today i was noticing pockets of light and trying to be sneaky and creative in photographing them.

here's to a month full of pockets that are full of sunshine.  happy june :)

personal photojournalism: bubble play

i think for this month's blog circle post, i'll let the images speak for themselves.  all i'll say is that we decided to celebrate the arrival of warm weather by breaking out the bubble machine a few weeks ago, and it was a wonderful morning.

when you're done here, make sure you click over to houston documentary photographer samarie-lei's blog to see how her family has welcomed summer.

day in the life- self portrait style

starting last year, when my little turned a year old, i decided that birthdays were the perfect occasion to shoot day in the life sessions of the people in my family.  i've done one for each kiddo so far, although i admittedly skipped my husband's birthday this year.  it fell on a weekday, so 9 hours of his day would be missing from the photos (and following him to work with the kids and my camera is oddly frowned upon ;) ).  so, when my 30th birthday rolled around, i thought- LIZ.  this is a GREAT opportunity to do a day in the life session of yourself.  you should totally do it girl.

except then i chickened out.  i was way too intimidated by the idea of setting my camera up every time i went to do something, especially with two kids around and no one to help me referee.  but then, 2 weeks later, someone in one of the groups i'm in posted asking if anyone would be down for shooting a self-portrait day in the life along with her.  i couldn't ignore it.  i should have done it on my birthday, but this was the perfect opportunity to make it up to myself.  so, yesterday i set up my camera all day long and captured what a day looks like from my perspective.

a few disclaimers before i share- first, i started the day off really optimistically, with a twinkle in my eye and a spring in my step.  there are lots of morning pictures.  by the time nap time ended, my energy had all but fizzled.  there are not as many afternoon/evening pictures.  also, many of these photos are not stunning examples of beautifully executed photography.  i was moving fast whenever i set my camera up, both in regards to my settings and with getting my camera balanced on whatever shelf/object i was perching it on (i had left my tripod in the car, and my husband happened to take my car to work that day, so i had to get creative- as seen with the shopping cart pictures... the trunk of my husband's car has a deceptively steep slant).  normally when i shoot, i make every effort to get it close to perfect in camera so i don't have much post-processing work to do.  with these, i was making every effort to make sure i caught the moments without disrupting our routine too much, so more of these than i care to admit were saved in post (especially the bedtime ones... you'll see what i mean).  oh, and there are lots of head/limb/body chops.  it's hard to compose when you can't see where you'll be in the frame ahead of time- and i just didn't have the option of running back and forth to the camera to fix positioning with two kids to look after.  and lastly, i usually do posts like these with pictures and words.  not this time.  this is it for the words.  i'm going to post the pictures chronologically and let them tell the story.

enjoy :)

a glimpse of summer

the weather today was, in one word, glorious.  even better than the day we went to the forest last week and i went on and on about how gorgeous the weather was.  that's the kind of perfect today was.  normally i would have packed the kids up and headed to either the park or back to the forest to take full advantage, but we were car-less today so we had to make the best of the day in our postage stamp sized front yard.

i think we did okay :)  we're not much for fancy around here-  as much as i would love a real water table for the kids to play in, we've found plenty of joy in scavenging random buckets and bins from around the house and hauling them from the kitchen sink to the front sidewalk along with some extra cups and colanders.  water is water, no matter what kind of vessel you're scooping it out of and dumping it from, after all.

one of my favorite things about these types of activities is the way my (and all, really) children grow and evolve them into something way beyond what my original intention was for it.  today i kind of thought they could fill up the two empty yogurt containers and use them to transfer water between the bins- which is why i brought three out.  i think that happened maybe twice.  instead they worked to find ways to dry off the different items we brought out once they got wet (their hands included):

and they spent some time discovering the lines of run-off created whenever they dumped a new cupful onto the sidewalk:

they also noticed how fun it was to get the stairs wet (although for the life of me i don't see the entertainment value in that), and they spotted the shadows created by flying water if they positioned themselves in a sunny spot.

of course, as they so often do, they went from being completely absorbed in their play to over it and ready to go back inside in less than 30 seconds.  fortunately, i had anticipated that and locked the door so they'd have to help me clean up before abandoning the great outdoors for a chance to raid the pantry and strip down to their skivvies in the name of drying off.  and they got some great practice in going safely down the stairs.  mom: 1, kids: 0   ;)

into the forest

today finally, finally, finally felt like spring.  it was one of those rare perfect days where the weather just is.  no chill in the air but not hot either, a light breeze with warm sunshine- you can feel it, but you're not distracted by it.  it's the kind of day where you breathe deeply and the air fills you up and the sunshine recharges your soul and no matter what may be going on, you're reminded that life is good.  like, really, truly, deeply good.

days like today are not to be wasted.  they're made to be lived in and run through and soaked up and inhaled so that we can carry them with us through the days that aren't quite so perfect.

so, that's what we did.  after a morning at the playground, we came home, fed and napped the kids, and then packed back up and headed out to a local forest, which happens to be my new favorite place in the world.  seriously.  i would spend everyday there with my kids if they would let me.

we started out finding rocks and tossing them into the creek, which happens to be one of their absolute favorite new things to do.  it took some convincing to keep them out of the water since we usually let them wade around in the creek at one of the parks we go to, but once they realized what an abundance of rocks they had available to them, it became a non-issue.

this kiddo here is intrigued by the details- rocks, sticks, bugs, anything he can dig up or take apart or closely observe- and i love watching him explore the little things of the world.

after awhile, we left the creek and headed out to a new trail we've never walked before.  it was flat, which was nice for the kids, but still had plenty for them to see/pick up/climb on- and had plenty of stunning light for me to play with :)

these next three images may seem a little redundant, but i've got my momma goggles on when i look at them, so they all got to stick around.  i have no idea why he was walking this way, but it was so cute i could have cried.  he is developing into such an incredible little guy, and it is beautifully amazing to watch.

it was just the most perfectly wonderful afternoon, and i'm so thankful for everything about it <3

a story and a snack

i had an idea for a panning shot in my head today, but when i tried it, it was such an enormous fail that i decided to take a break from shooting for technique and instead just shoot for fun.  i'm glad i did too, because i was able to document a truly significant milestone for my little- i mean, who doesn't remember their first solo counter snack?   :)

this was one of those moments where it hit me just how fast he's growing up.  i remember so clearly the first time i let his big brother sit on the counter to munch through a bowl of cereal without me standing there holding onto him- how is it possible that this guy is old enough to be doing that?

lately when i plopped him on the counter, i start out with my hand on his knee, and then slowly drift a cabinet's length away for a few moments before scurrying back.  he's a wiggly one this guy.  but then today it occurred to me- he's wiggly and busy and wild and adventurous, but his movements are calculated, both at home and on the playground.  he's aware of his body and the cause and effect of his movements.  and, he's highly invested in snack time.  so when i put him up there today, i took a step back.  and then another.  and then another.  and then i let myself trust him and went to the other room to grab my camera, and when i came back in, there he sat, beaming atme and crunching away on leftover morning cheerio #8,753.

oh, and see the dog hair on his foot?  that's cause of this:

(look closely at this first image)

it's remarkable how patient she becomes when people food is involved :)