Falling into Family Fun

IMG_3705Meet the Steven’s Family.

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You may recognize the youngest of this terrific trio, Little Stevens, from my previous post Finding Friends in Maine, but you haven’t yet met Papa Stevens and Mama Stevens.

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IMG_3980I met Mama Stevens earlier this year when she hosted a coffee date for a bunch of ladies from a group we both belong too.  Within the span of a few hours, we discovered that we were peas in a pod.  A very sarcastic, snarky pod.  We’ve been friends ever since and my life is the better for it.

IMG_4060IMG_4046IMG_4070IMG_4048This session just took place this past Saturday, April 13 and oh look, snow.  What was meant to be a rainy day photoshoot involving puddles and umbrellas (curse the weather reports) quickly turned into a snow day full of laughter, snowballs, and oh yeah- icy plunges.  There was a lot of falling.

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A lot.

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Thankfully Papa Stevens was along for the fun (I mean, what’s a family photoshoot without the whole family?) He spent the majority of his time towing the rest of us out of that sneaky white stuff that makes paths look solid….

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IMG_2100  Yours truly succumbed to winter’s delight more than a time or two, and Papa Stevens was there to save the day…..except when he was too busy laughing as I literally plunged into the snow after stepping back to capture a picture of the smiling couple.IMG_2098

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As I sank into the ground, the smiles turned into laughs.  Then the laughs became contagious when Karma came knocking on Papa Stevens door.  You see, the moment he started to laugh at me sitting there in the snow, he stepped back and got sucked into the snowy vortex too.  And yours truly managed to capture the entire hilarious episode.

This was by far one of the best moments of my life.  A tiny, brief moment if you will, because man that snow was cold.  But oh, a hilarious one.  And I got it on “film”. I know they say vengeance is a dish best served cold, but when you’re waist deep in it….I’d say warmer would be better. We shook it off and kept snapping away until it was time to say good-bye.

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Let’s just say I’m glad I have heated leather seats.

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Double Trouble

Meet the Twins.  They’re fun, five, and full of sugar.

No, literally.

Note to self- when babysitting your friend’s twins, do not – I repeat- do not. For. All. That. Is. Holy….do an impromptu photo session after they’ve just consumed what had to have been the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie.

It started out as a noble idea.  You see, with Mother’s Day less than a month away I thought I’d be the coolest friend ever and surprise my dear, sweet friend with a gift.

Yeah, I know.  In my defense, I’m pretty sure my siblings dropped me on my head a time or two when I was little……

Here’s a few of the photos.  It was in the midst of this sugar induced shoot that my flawless plan became flawed.  I forgot one very important fact about five year olds.

They can not keep secrets. Ever.

Me: camera in hand  “Remember, don’t tell mom.  It’s a secret”

Twin 1: squeals with excitement….or sugar high spiral “I can’t wait to tell her!!”

Twin 2: equally sugared up “Yes!!! We’re going to tell her!”

So….I beat them to it.  Once I got them calm enough to sit still I went to work and here below you’ll find a few of the calmer ones.   And if you’re wondering “Summer is constantly doing black and white photos…why?”  Well, because I like them.  And I hope you will too.  Especially the last one.  That’s a favorite of mine and their mom’s.

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Finding Friends In Maine

Passed by for almost a year on my monthly grocery shopping trips to Presque Isle, Aroostook State Park holds the distinction of being Maine’s first state park.  Home to Echo Lake and Quaggy Jo mountain, it’s been on my Places to Go list since last April. Can you believe we’re just a few days shy of our first anniversary since we moved across the country?  I can’t either.

With any big move there’s sure to be big changes.  Most are good: slower pace, gorgeous colonial home where everyone gets there own bedroom (well except me, I have to share….. thankfully I like him.  Wink wink. Nudge. Nudge.)  Making new friends. And so many more things that I can’t even list.  Well I could but you’d eventually just skip all of my blah blah blah and just scroll on down to the pictures (if you haven’t already.)  In short, a lot of good things have come from moving here.

There’s two sides of the coin though and with the good you get the bad.  You know it.  I know it.  That’s just life. We had to say some teary goodbyes and one year later, our eyes are still suspiciously wet when we think of them. Like tacos. Oh and more importantly, and hardest of all – saying good-bye to old friends and working up the courage to make new ones.

Not only have I been blessed with new friends, but my youngest has found a few too, including the youngest of the Steven’s Trio.  And that’s why this post is only one of three that will be posted this week from this past weekend’s photo session.

Practically a halfway point between us, the park was the perfect place to meet up with our newfound friends.  When I asked my youngest if she’d like to go with me and see her friend I had to dive out of the way as she practically flew into the car.  I didn’t even have my boots on yet. Yes, boots, because it might be Spring everywhere else in the U.S, but we’re in a whole other world up here and Winter up here is like that party guest who stays just a tad bit longer than everyone else….. (That’s usually me by the way- I’m that guest.)

Among the many moments captured were a few candids of a fantastic duo and I can’t help but smile when I look at these.

I think you will too.

Join me as we walk through the woods and get a glimpse of the joy of youth and new beginnings.

 

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Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today I was at a Garth Brooks concert with a friend in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Two years ago today, we were headed home when I found out my dad passed away in our hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Two years ago today the world lost a funny, artistic, kind, and intelligent man. One of the world’s best fathers.

He is still loved, he is missed, and every Christmas we stick at least one stuffed animal in the Christmas tree, because that’s what this quirky guy did for as long as I can remember.

I’m grateful for the years we had him. We could’ve lost him before we even knew him.

This guy, a former Marine, an artist, an electronics repairman and so much more- suffered his first aneurysm when he was in his late 20s (I do believe) before he’d even met my mom. It ruptured and he once told me that for decades after, the VA doctors still marveled that he survived.

My grandmother, he told me, helped him rewire his brain through board games like Scrabble and card games. Growing up, these were staples for us. Many hours were spent playing cards and games (Scrabble being a favorite then and still now for me).

So although I’m sad he’s gone, I don’t feel cheated. After all, it’s a miracle we ever “met”.

Moving Forward

This past year has seen a lot of changes.  One of those is that I’m no longer able to see these smiling faces.  img_1978

At least not in person.

That’s the beauty of photography, am I right?  Capturing moments, that no matter where you go, will always be with you.  This photo (and a few others on this post) was taken just a week or so before we loaded up the moving truck and headed up to (a currently) snowy, blustery northeastern Maine.   A far cry from the dry heat and almost constant sunshine of southern New Mexico.

We traded in a view of the Organ Mountains for flora, fauna, and Fall.   A fact that is currently lost in translation, since everything is still slightly covered up by fresh snowfall…. (Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it.  In fact, the townfolk are beginning to wonder if I’m demented or just a few fries short of a happy meal….)

My view outside my window might be one of winter but I only need to click on this pic below to be reminded that in some areas of the world the sun shines in Spring.

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Just a few short weeks after this weeklong photo shoot, I arrived in Maine. Within a month, my camera was aimed and ready to capture the world.  And yet for the past three months, my camera has been sitting untouched in the dark; just waiting to be picked up to for moments like this one below.

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And others like these from the handful of family sessions I did this past year.

 

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We managed to capture some truly magical moments and I enjoyed every single person I’ve worked with, but I’m just not a family photographer.

And I’m learning that that’s okay.

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My pace will be set at my leisure.  My time spent shooting those moments that capture me in their awe and beauty.

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Not confined by the rigors of necessity or priority.  Dictated only by serendipity and fate.

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IMG_8793We should always be moving forward, but it’s good to look back and remember the moments.  After all, each and every one- whether big or small, have a part to play in the evolution of All.  All that we are, all that we believe, and all that we want to be.

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In the wilds of art, that’s where you’ll find me.

The Mystery Box

So I get home tonight and find this giant box on my porch. Addressed to me. From Amazon.

My first thought? “What did I order in my sleep?” My second thought “Wonder what’s inside? Maybe Tim ordered something.”

Being the high tech (stop smirking) girl that I am, I went to our online account to see if he had ordered something.

Mystery solved. Case closed. I’m telling ya, I’m the next Nancy Drew.

Turns out a certain good looking, sweet guy made good on his promise that I’d get my Christmas gift in the spring (courtesy of a certain lil govt shenanigan that foiled his plans).

Honestly, I’d all but forgotten. Mainly because I’ve given myself many “Christmas gifts” since the new year. Clothes, shiny things, shoes, and even the occasional (weekly) baked treat.

Now I’m sure he’s hoping to walk in one day to the heavenly aroma of baked goods, but who are we kidding? He just bought me the world’s prettiest fruit bowl……

Best part? It was exactly a week after my birthday. Which is also why I was confused since I’d already received my birthday gift. Of course, I do tend to get confused easily- I blame motherhood. I read somewhere, long ago, that you lose brain cells with each pregnancy. And have I mentioned I created four humans? I’ve no brain cells to spare now.

Speaking of, I’ll post soon all about how I keep offending my new Echo Show by calling her Xbox and then getting frustrated that she doesn’t obey my every command. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s probably why my kids don’t always listen either…huh.

Ha. The effects of getting older I suppose. But thankfully this lil gadget can now keep me spry.

Yeah, you heard that right. I’m now a very springy 38. In two years I will no longer be measuring my age by years, but rather by levels….

I suppose I should go look up recipes now that involve this new toy.

Hey, XBOX, what can I make with my “fruit bowl”?

Proof of Life Post

Just a teeny tiny post to say I’m not dead.

Whew! Glad to get that out there.

I did have a cold a few weeks back. I tell ya what, that sucker knocked me out for a week. And I let it. I told my husband, ” This ain’t no ordinary cold. I think I got the dreaded man cold.” He stopped and rolled his eyes, then continued to cater my every whim. Karma.

Now that our youngest is a self-sufficient soon to be 10 year old, I finally got to be sick. In fact, at the first sniffle I was grabbing my blanket, commandeering the couch, and taking control of the tv.

I watched a lot of tv that week. So much so that I was running out of shows and patience. The novelty of being sick faded after day four. I had places to go and people to see.

Now two weeks later, the people have been seen and the places have been blessed with my presence, and I’m ready for another sick week.

C’mon sniffles let’s get this party started!!

Okay okay I’m kidding. Kinda.

I’ve realized I’m not as lazy and laid back as I think I am. In fact, I just added to my to do list; weekly band practices with our towns community band.

I walked into the first practice, flute in hand, and terror in my heart. It’s been so long since I’ve played “properly”. Ya know, sheet music and stuff. I’m loving it, but I am most definitely out of my comfort zone.

And that’s okay. Because comfort zones, while safe, can become very tedious. It’s good to mix it up. Scary, but good. I’m a creature of habit and that means I’m constantly in danger of getting stuck in a rut. That’s bad. Summer in a rut is not good. Let’s leave it at that.

Right now all I’m stuck in is my bed because it’s time to say goodnight! We went to watch the late show of Captain Marvel and I must say – it was Marvel-ous.

Get it? Gosh I’m hilarious. You’re welcome. Have a great weekend and I’ll “see ya when I see ya!”

Beneath the Surface

Most people have a junk drawer in their kitchen.  I have a junk room.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not exaggerating when I say that room is a colossal mess.  At least it was a few hours ago and if we’re being honest, it will be again.  It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Occupying the left side of our 1912 colonial, our dining room is pretty isolated from the remainder of the house with only two doorways keeping it from being completely closed off.  It’s proximity to the kitchen and the front hall just makes it too easy to be a dumping spot. Add in the fact that we rarely use the room for actual dining, and well, you’ve got a recipe for disorder and disgrace.

Since Christmas, the giant dining room table has been home to a few of the girls k’nex projects (among other things) so we’ve made the room a no go area for the many littles who accompany their mama’s (my coffee pals) on occasion.  The rest of the downstairs is fair game, but the dining room?  Off limits.  Naturally this has all the littles scrambling right to it.  They just can’t resist it. Including the little guy who came over yesterday.

And so this little post begins.

You see, I’ve been avoiding that room.  I’ll occasionally stand in the doorway and stare at it, but only for a moment.  I can’t begin to describe the emotions that race through me at the sight of the six foot table covered in papers, toys, and decor.  Decor of holidays gone by that should, for all intents and purposes, be down in the basement in their respective storage containers; not mingling with the trash.  Literally.

I try to glance over the pile of discarded clothing and jackets that have begun to call the window seat home.  To say nothing of the overflowing “art box” that’s been shoved into a corner.  The list of atrocities goes on my friends but I will spare you the rest, if only for the sake of my own humility.

I keep saying “I really need to clean this up”, yet I never do.  I just feel so overwhelmed.  Where do I even start?   Besides, I tell myself each time, it’s really not dirty it’s just cluttered.  When I do finally take the time to fix it up, it’ll only be a matter of  minutes, so why bother doing it now?  Funny how the justifications and thoughts can circle around and around ending up in a neat little box with a pretty little bow.

This has been my routine so to speak until today.  I stepped in there armed with a trash bag, a broom and dustpan, and determination- all fueled by good old fashioned embarrassment.  That embarrassment quickly turned into downright mortification and shame.  It was bad.  Worse than I’d thought.  Because beneath the surface of that “clutter” was …well, it was bad.   Let’s leave it at that. So I swept through like a mighty tornado determined to never feel that way again when someone has to chase their little through there.  (As was the case yesterday- the motivation for today’s cleaning spree.)

As I stood in the doorway an hour later, my goal accomplished, I couldn’t help but think about how my dining room is a lot like myself.  Sometimes I seem like I’m all put together, other times I’m a downright mess.  Either way, there’s always more than meets the eye.  There’s so much more beneath the surface that needs to be straightened up, cleaned, and repaired.

I am so beyond blessed that God’s cleaning skills are better than mine.  Daily he’s dealing with me- through prayer, my bible reading, church sermons, and even through the friends he sends my way.  He goes beyond what the human eye can see and he looks upon the heart.  He cleans me up from the inside out.  He doesn’t get overwhelmed.  Doesn’t take shortcuts.  He doesn’t ever, ever give up on me, even when I’ve given up on myself.  My God looks beyond the surface and none are too dirty, too messy, or too far gone.