Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Little Toby Becomes a Big Brother

I have known Stephen (the big papa here) as a self proclaimed big-bro since before his lovely Amy and cute little Toby entered his life. Watching him become a sappy husband and proud father is the cutest miracle story ever. And now they're celebrating the little cutie becoming a big brother and you have just never seen anything more happy. Never has a cute little "Bug" been more adored and loved by such proud parents. He is their absolute world and they just have so much love to give their babies and each other. Best family ever. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

How to Make Your Lettuce Last Longer

Everybody in our house loves fresh crisp salads. Even the dog. But he's a dork so that is to be expected. Wait. What does that even say about the rest of us?

It would therefore stand to reason that we would decide to plant a bountiful lot of lettuce in our herb/perennial/raised bed/patio garden thingymabobagoo. Due to our exceptional planning-ahead skills, it became overdue for harvest all at the exact same minute. And what are you supposed to do with that. much. lettuce. at. one. time. sans the going to waste option?

Well, I kind of panicked a little because what is the one produce that is served but one way? Not cooked, not canned, not frozen, not dried, not anything but fresh? Well, it so happens to be that same stuff that was going to seed on the patio and would soon be going to rot in our fridge. Pinterest, however, made a virtual promise of sorts that if I were to package it all neatly into perfect mason jars it had the potential of lasting for weeks.

(Epic: "Pinterest" and "mason jars" all in the same sentence)

I dig potential.

So I cut the lettuce down, took it to the kitchen sink and thoroughly scrubbed it to death a few times because I can not stand the thought of one single aphid surviving my mad salad skills. After a thorough rinse and repeat cycle, I chopped and gently packed into a few of the many wide mouth canning jars I had recently picked up at a garage sale for three crisp George Washington's. Voila. Beauty right there.

Stuck said jars into the fridge and I'm here to say, 8 days later, that said lettuce is not a minute less crisp and fresh than it was the day they endured said brutal bathing. I suspect they have a solid week or two left before we begin to reach stages of wilt; in the unlikely event that we don't eat that many salads. I promise to update further on first hand experience on the shelf life of jarred lettuce. We have planted again, this time we're doing it in cycles. If things go according to plan, we won't be buying lettuce until a few weeks past the first frost.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

When I Look Into Your Eyes | Colton Samuel, 18 Months

A little over 18 months ago you entered our lives, little man. We thought that we were simply once again joyfully embarking on the journey of sweet newborn-scented babyness; that we were just welcoming a little brother for Jimmy into our family; that we had a lot to offer you. What we didn't know was that you had so much more to offer us.

You took us on a journey to Rochester. We learned about trusting competent strangers in an ambulance to take our beautiful newborn safely over icy roads hours away where you could get better. We learned a lot about faith. We learned about miracles. We learned about how much people in our world cared so deeply--about us... about you. We learned that we had nothing to complain about; that even in our darkest, scariest moments we had oh so very much to be grateful for.

We thought we had the parenting thing down pat when we took you home, but you taught us that we were helpless humans with absolutely no idea of what we were doing. You taught us to think more with our heart and less with our mind. We learned how perfect little cherubs like you need a lot of love. A lot of love. We learned about long sleepless nights. We learned that sometimes the only sleeping position is the one with you on your tummy on daddy's chest. We learned about colic. About food sensitivities. We made many mistakes along the way, but you never noticed; you asked for nothing but love. And slowly you got better.

You learned to walk... and run... and climb... and fall. Fearlessly. Keeping you alive is a full time job. You have sharpened our senses. Your favorite thing to do is play with a framed picture of mommy and daddy. You love music. You love dancing. You know no strangers; on the beach last weekend you just went up to a random person who was filming his family and stood beside him, pretending he was your new dad for the moment. You danced out into the street three times at a parade to the giggling amusement of the crowd. You make people laugh.

You taught us about vivacious toddlerhood. You have naughty streaks that are so adorable that we can't help but love you. You live with your heart and your arms wide open. You're tough yet so tender. You have a beautiful and strong spirit. I pray to God it is never crushed or broken.

You taught us about gentleness. About love like we have never known. About selflessness. About giving up our plans and our dreams to make a better world for each other. You taught us to never be complacent, but to constantly endeavor to become better for you and your sweet brother Jimmy. You have bonded us together so tight.

Before you were born, you and I often listened to Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up". I had no idea how much it impacted both of us. It's our song. And I love you and will never give up on being the best that I can for the beautiful boy you are.

When I look into your eyes, it's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise; there's so much they hold.

And just like them old stars I feel that we've come so far
To be right where you are, how old is your soul?
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am

I won't give up on us, even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love I'm still looking up.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Daniel | Class of 2014

I'm finding more and more that photography is just the thing to unwind me from a stressful day. My therapy. The thing that makes my mind and the world right again. Oh the problems my camera solves for me! 

A quiet, slightly overcast evening in downtown Menomonie was just the thing for a perfect senior shoot with Daniel. It was so much fun exploring the variety of architect and backdrops that Menomonie has to offer with such a cool and good sport like Daniel. This has to be the most fascinating senior shoot I have done to date. I'm pretty sure I might have just uncovered my new favorite portrait location. 

And to Daniel, thank you for being so easy going and fun to work with! I am so happy to have had the honor of doing your senior portraits. Congratulations on your graduation! I wish you the best; you have a good head on your shoulders, I know you will go far in life! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

What If?

I hate that I have to admit that the meanest people I know are Christians. And the world is subjected to the daily outcry of their condemning opinions and interpretation of Scripture. Sometimes I just have to hide my face in shame and say, No. If that is what constitutes Christianity then I am not a Christian. I am not participating in all the hurt and the judgment that at one time drove me to question the very existence of God; and if he did exist, what was my purpose in his angry presence? I ran from it all, only to find myself running towards the gospel; to divine love. That's where I slowly learned to experience healing. And hope. But for ten years now, my soul has begged the question; What if?

What if Christians put the gavel down? 

What if tattoos and piercings don't matter?

What if Christians got over how many alcoholic beverages are or are not okay?

What if Christians thought more about loving the little children and less about beating them with the rod?

What if it's okay that a child happens to throw a temper tantrum?

What if a child could only see Jesus through your love?

What if Christians got over the yoga pants?

What if the square centimeters of visible skin showing on a woman's body didn't really matter?

What if men are actually capable of respecting women?

What if modesty were actually a virtue and not just a clothing standard?

What if a homosexual is deserving of your love and friendship?

What if it's okay to not go to church?

What if it's okay to not spend time daily in the Bible?

What if it doesn't have to just be the King James Version?

What if it doesn't matter so much that someone say and do all the right things?

What if Christians could accept someone for being real rather than simply embracing their facade?

What if Christians quit throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and started truly caring for one another and reaching out to others?

What if it doesn't matter so much that you be a world-changer?

What if it did matter that you be the light in a stranger's day, a hug for a lonely friend, a smile for a sad child?

What if your heart were big enough and open enough to be the change in the world around you?

What if preaching the gospel was living the gospel? 

What if Christians could see people through Jesus' eyes?

What if the world could see Jesus in Christians?

What if Christians were known for their love?

What if? What then? What would our world be like?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

My friend Rachel totally made my day... no, my week... no, my year... no... my life!  when she came to visit me last week. You see, we have been friends for about 14 years, if my math serves me correctly. We became pen pals back in our childish days which turned to life-long friends. I'm not really one to pick and choose favorites and BFF's, but she would definitely fit the category, and has definitely been a true and very close friend for... well, 14 years. Which says a lot because we have both grown and changed. Reality can be hard on childhood friendships; particularly those of the long-distance variety. But in this case, reality has just made us better, closer and more awesome.

Her two girls are just younger than my two boys. Yes, we have totally match-made. Our children are as good as married.

But of course as fate would have it, after a steady stream of lovely perfectly sunny happy weather, the day she came the sun chose to hide behind the clouds and the wind chose to be cold and send patches of rain. And while the world seemed very cheery amongst my favorite people, there really was not much time for photoshooting and cute kid poses. But we couldn't let an afternoon together go by without some cute shots of her and her little beauties.

My niece and nephew and their mommy got to spend the day with us as well, and they totally adored 3 year-old Angeline. So enjoy all the cuteness that has made the year 2014 already epic.

Baby River

Diva Angeline

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Barneson Siblings and Family

I love this amazing, laughing, spunky, fun-loving family. I've known them since approximately just before I can remember. Lizz has been a dear friend for just as long. Years pass, we grow up, our families and lives ever expanding and changing, yet somehow we have stayed friends through thick and thin and I just adore it when her marine brother comes home and she asks if I'm available to do pictures. Because hanging out with her and hers makes me laugh a little bit harder and my life a little brighter and I want to turn around and do another session just as soon as I have my gear packed up. But I don't think her brothers, good sports that they are, would appreciate that, so I fasten my seatbelt and just hope she asks again next week... or at least next year.

And how cool is the Banbury Place for a portrait backdrop?