Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just Like Me

It started innocently enough… I walk into Lydia’s room on a Sunday morning and ask, “What would you like to wear today?” Her reply, “Well, what are YOU wearing? I want to wear what you are wearing to be just like you.” Now I hear this refrain multiple times a week and I choose a purple shirt and capris or a black and white dress for Lydia to wear so she can be “just like me.” Lydia declares that her favorite color is yellow, “just like mommy.” And that she wants to play the flute and do ballet “just like mommy.” While it’s humbling to have someone idolize me, she does hear “Lydia looks just like you!” so often from friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances that I can’t help but think the idea has been planted in her brain.

And while it’s “cute” at age almost 5, it causes me to ponder. Does she want to be “just like me” when I speak harshly out of impatience or frustration? Does she want to be “just like me” when I stare at the computer screen instead of her sweet face when she’s talking? Does she want to be “just like me” when I run around frantic cleaning or picking up instead of reading or playing with her? Does she want to be “just like me” when I pray or sing? (she did tell me out of the blue today, “mommy, I like the Word FM – our local Christian radio station) Oh, my, how incredibly impressionable our little ones are. And how we should cherish these times that they look at us with awe and admiration (as I know the tween/teenage years are coming all too fast!)

So maybe the next time I’m interrupted from my “work” I’ll completely divert my attention to my little blessings, little lives longing for love, and be proud when I see them do the same. If they want to be “just like me” than I had better be “just like Jesus” And when I’m not, I will seek His and their forgiveness and we will learn together how to walk in His ways and live life to His glory.

Someday, if they are “just like me” may they honor and glorify the Lord as a forgiven child of God. May they exude grace and kindness and respect and love.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


So last week Shutterfly sent me a coupon code to make a photo book for "40% off". I had envisioned creating this book even before Miriam was born and took this as a sign to just do it! Then today Shutterfly sent me an email telling me I could "share" this book. Again, I'll take them up on their suggestion... Enjoy!

Click here to view this photo book larger

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm back

I have obviously been absent from the blog world for quite some time now (like 4 months or so). I have a good excuse. I swear! I mean, just look at this face, can you blame me? :)

On St. Patrick’s Day we welcomed our dear Miriam into the world.

After much drama with a dangerously low heart rate in utero which made my scheduled C-section an “emergency” one, this little girl entered the world perfectly healthy. What a blessing! Over the past few months we’ve had the typical newborn sleepless nights accompanied by lots of snuggling, binkie sucking, over-the-top hugging and kisses from her big bro and big sis,

and developing in the way newborns are supposed to. Unfortunately, over the past couple weeks Miriam became a fussy eater which took us to the docs. Turns out she wasn’t gaining weight so he ordered blood work (just in case). A couple hours after the blood was taken (via healstick) we were called by the on-call doc informing us of the results of Miriam’s labs: critically high potassium levels which can impact muscle function including cardiac muscle. Off we went to the ER to obtain a venus blood draw. While there, Miriam was such a charmer, gazing at her caregivers and eliciting compliment after compliment on her “pretty bright blue eyes.” Thankfully, the second round of tests indicated “within normal limits” for most of the labs. Now our focus is beefing her up by feeding her more often and supplementing with formula. Our prayers are being answered as she weighed in at 11 lb. 4 oz. today - a whole pound more than three weeks ago when all of this started. Praise God! Now, if we could only get some sleep...

Miriam adores:
• stuffing her hand in her mouth

• grabbing at anything particularly necklaces, shirts, and her cow
• tickles
• bouncing
• faces
• staring at her Snoopy mobile

• supported standing
• “talking” (babbling, gooing, cooing)

Meanwhile the “big kids” have finished up a school year
Lydia at the end of the year "candy scramble". She got so much she was stuffing her bucket down to fit more in ;)

Lydia on stage for her final MDO performance

Tobias with his MDO teachers whom he adored. :)

End-of-the-year ritual: Ritas.

After a few days of mayhem when school ended, I implemented a “letter a day” lesson to provide some structure (and sanity). The kids latched right onto the idea of “lessons” and we’ve really had some fun with it. It’s amazing to see their thirst for learning. Now, just in case you are wondering, I totally do NOT make up these activities on my own. I get a lot of ideas from various homeschooling blogs who provide free printables and ideas. I also get encouragement and inspiration from my dear friend, Melanie who has directed me to resources and shared her knowledge and experiences (she's way more into the online homeschooling world than I am!) for which I'm so thankful. It's fun to share our flops and triumphs while keeping each other motivated...
Here they are creating "habitats" in shoeboxes.

Tobias telling me what he sees

Driving Trucks on the "T" after being dipped in paint

Tobias points out his favorite letter EVERYWHERE – T’s really are pretty popular, from crosses in church, to exit signs, to the pattern frames are hanging on a wall.

Lydia is having a BLAST with her summer activities. She just finished up a Nature Music Class,
Her class was featured on the CVSM Facebook page. Here she is being a butterfly

she's currently at her 2nd Vacation Bible School, and continues with ballet for another few weeks. It’s remarkable that the comments of her teachers and adult leaders are the same: they marvel at her enthusiasm.

Since Miriam’s arrival the kids have truly watched their fair share of television. Naturally a little “mommy guilt” accompanies this truth. However, I smile with pride when these two bring their TV characters into our world. They pretend they are “Diego and Alicia” or “Toby: you are Steve and I am Blue”. They “save the sloths” and “find the clues” documenting them in their “notebooks.” To get this photo I put the Apple TV on "pause"...

Both kids adore going outside. (If we could just get them to remember to shut the door – the AC goes out with them and the bugs enter in…)
Whether it's picking strawberries,

Spending the day at Fuller Lake,

Or splashing in the pool on our deck.

Last week Lydia found a barely alive cicada. With daddy’s help she proceeded to let it crawl all over her shirt and arm. Then, she and Tobias built a house for it. A little drama followed when it passed to cicada heaven (and then disappeared!) but it’s remarkable to me that they love nature so much. In fact, both of them slept in a tent in the backyard with daddy on 4th of July weekend. Well, if you can call a 4:45am wake up by Tobias “sleeping”. They had a blast chasing fireflies with their bug nets, making s’mores, and using their flashlights in the tent.

One of the running “themes” of our big kids’ play is “baby.” (I wonder why!) They take turns being the “baby” and the other fulfills the responsibility of feeding, napping, playing with, and generally ordering around. A glimpse into our world…

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


As soon as I saw the title of this final assignment, I knew what I wanted to capture: some how, some way, my WHOLE family together, one place, one time, loving on each other.

Here is the description: "What do you see in your loved one’s future? What will they be doing? What will you be doing with them? What do you look forward to doing with them? How is their future bright? Take a step in your own personal time machine and capture something with your lens that will foreshadow your loved one’s future."

I've heard this saying many times, but it seems particularly poignant at this moment, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future." Yes, in 2 short weeks we will be adding another little miracle to our family. I don't know if it's a boy or girl, I don't know what his or her face looks like or what type of personality he or she will have. I don't know whether this child will be healthy or have some sort of disability. I don't know how the dynamics will be with my three children...

This I do know, this child was known and created by a loving God. This child is loved beyond belief by his or her heavenly Father and is welcomed into a family who loves him or her unconditionally. This child is loved by family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh, the blessings of this new little life. Oh the love that already surrounds this miracle. Praise God for this amazing gift of life, His perfect plan for it, and His indescribable love!

It has been a great adventure capturing the "Joy of Love" over this past month. Thanks for joining me - looking forward to sharing more love to come...

What they say

Now here's a challenge: "What do they say to you? this can be a favorite phrase or slang that they use OR it can be words that they use to encourage you and motivate you. You can also capture them saying a phrase they say over and over or just find something inanimate that best captures WHAT they say." Tough stuff. Really I contemplated first, "who says what that really touches my heart?" and then, "how the hay do I capture that in a photograph?"

Tobias recently started calling me "Mommo". No big deal, I guess. I mean, I suppose lots of kids have fun names for their parents. Yet, this little nickname has become special to me. It's something he didn't do because of his big sister. It's something special that just he and I share. It's a term of true love and affection. And I cherish it.

I set the camera on "continuous" and had him say, "Mom-mo" over and over again. Here is my precious Tobias saying my name in a way that only he can... (Ok, so I made a "story board" of this on Photoshop but it won't load on Blogger so I'm just uploading the pics)

I'll always be your "Mommo", Tobo!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Ok, first of all, I think the title of this assignment is hilarious. Second, I didn't really follow the instructions which read, "Who do they want to spend all their time with when they are not with you? Celebrate their bro-mance or their relationship with their best bud! Photograph them with their wingman."

When Mark and his friends orchestrate a time to hang out (which, unfortunately, is relatively seldom), it occurs what they call "late night" which means when all of our children are tucked into their beds. While this is incredibly considerate of them, it makes it pretty impossible to photograph them (in the dark). They also tend to "go to the mountains" which means I'm definitely not able to capture what they do. Honestly, sometimes I'm not sure I want to know what they do, so I'll maintain my ignorance about their guy-time and move on to a different type of male-bonding.

As I mentioned before, Mark loves learning about cars. And he is passing this love along to his son. Tobias LOVES watching Mark play "racing cars" on the XBox. Mark lets Toby choose the type and color of car to race and they have fun "zooming" them around the track and crashing into things. When it's convenient, Mark also attempts to catch "MotorWeek" on PBS on Saturday mornings. Here is a photo of Toby and daddy snuggled up delving into the world of "fast cars" for 1/2 hr. We often hear the refrain, "Daddy, I wanna watch racing cars!" I love to watch this love develop between father and son - not their love of cars per sae, but their unity and excitement in a common interest.

When you love them most

This assignment was posted a few days ago. I'm attempting to "catch up" this weekend. I currently have a gloriously silent home so I'm taking advantage to complete these last couple days...

Here is "day 25"'s challenge: What makes you tick about your loved one? What do they do to go out of their way to make sure you are happy and that you have a GREAT day?

So, I am spoiled. My husband comes home from work every day at lunch. I'm not sure how to express how much I appreciate this daily act of service. Sure, he could go to the lunch room and chit chat with his coworkers. He could read or work on school work during his hour lunch break. Instead, he chooses to enter into what he knows will be a little bit of a crazy time (in the midst of a sometimes-stressful work day). He makes lunch for his 2 & 4 year old, he gives big hugs and asks how our day is going, he takes Tobias to the potty and puts him down for a nap, he gets the mail, and all four of us gather at the lunch table TOGETHER. It is a tremendous help to me to have this mini-break in the middle of the day particularly when my morning has consisted of rushing around, transporting little ones to their appropriate destinations, and completing various errands or chores. What a blessing this man is to sacrifice his "me time" for our family. I'm so grateful as he shows me and his children how much he loves us through this gift of time and attention.

Caught him playing games and goofing around with the kids. I love how he's wearing his scrubs and his OT badge is dangling.

We love you, daddy!

Friday, February 25, 2011


Once again, I'm a little behind. This particular assignment was tough because, well, it was relatively impossible for me to get to "where" I knew he was "the one" at a moment's notice. It's also posing a challenge because back then we didn't use digital cameras so I don't have digital files to even upload moments from those days...

Thus, the scanned photos.

Mark and I were in every class together in our Occupational Therapy program with 30 or so other students at Towson University. It was a pretty intimate group and, whether we liked it or not, we became closely acquainted with one another. We became friends, having lunch together periodically and gathering at evening study groups. Somehow (um, definitely God!) we were placed together as partners to create and lead a group in one of our behavioral health classes. I'll never forget the professors response, "That was the best partner project I've ever experienced in this course." We certainly complimented one another well, yet remained "friends" for a couple years.
Study group for Anatomy & Physiology = fried brains

THEN, Mark joined our Habitat for Humanity group on a spring break trip to Charleston, SC. Experiencing him outside of the academic element struck a spark. As soon as we returned from that week, we began dating.
Notice how he has a hammer aimed at my noggin. ;)

It wasn't until about a year later that our relationship moved to the "next level"... I was doing a 3 month internship in Santa Barbara, CA. I was all alone on the West Coast while he was living with his parents in suburban DC completing his internship. His parents graciously footed the bill for a plane ticket and we spent a glorious long weekend sharing sunny CA. This is where we had "the talk" and pursued our relationship toward marriage.
Here we are at one of the missions, typical of southern CA.

So these are the 3 turning points, special places and moments, leading to our union. It was fun to search for these photos and reminisce. Oh, how great is the Lord who orchestrated all of this and faithfully brought us to this day...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


This is a kind of funny, kind of fun, "free day" assignment... "JUST DO IT! You know you have some awesome facebook photos of your loved one. Pick your favorite, copy it (save it) and print it to have forever!"

This has been Mark's profile pic on Facebook for, oh, at least 6 months if not more. We are at a friend's wedding in May of last year (I sang and played flute) goofing off at the reception. Mark stole/borrowed one of the bridesmaid's bouquets and he's infamous for making silly faces in photos without my knowledge. I love how happy we look/are.

And I've already printed it and framed it. Ahead of the game on that one!

I didn't go back to find the original file, just stole it off Facebook for simplicity's sake.

Face (portrait)

For this day (which was yesterday), our assignment was: "Your task today is to just capture your loved one’s portrait. A head and shoulders shot. Simplify the background (find a neutral wall in the home) so that the focus is truly on them and their beauty."

Lydia was available and somewhat willing (or did I force her?) when the lighting was optimal, so I seized my opportunity. For some reason, when I look at these, I just can't comprehend how beautiful I think my daughter is AND how she's grown in beauty... You never can fathom the depth of love you'll have for these miracles when they enter your lives and these photos knock me off my feet with thankfulness for this love-filled life...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


For those of you who have been following the "Joy of Love" adventure, you've noticed that I've taken a few days off. The weekend was Cah-ray-zee, so I opted for a little break. Never fear, I'm back. ;) And since I missed a few days I'll post a few photos per assignment.

Yesterdays was "hands" - we were to get out our "macro" lens and get up-close-and-personal with the hands of one we love. Now, yesterday the lighting was STINKY - it was very dark all day long - overcast/cloudy. Good day for a nap (in which I indulged) not so good for photography with natural light.

I attempted multiple times...

At the breakfast table while Lydia was "organizing" her jewelry box (Lydia's LOVE of girliness)

While we were driving to Kohl's after work (Mark's LOVE of cars)

My mom after family dinner cuddling on the sofa with her 3 grandchildren (LOVE just oozes here ;)

But I just wasn't truly thrilled with any of these. Thus, I attempted again today with the glorious sunlight reflecting from the newly fallen snow streaming into my windows.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - Lydia checking out her photographs on her own little pink camera.

But then, came my favorite... Lydia was playing in the kitchen, turned to me (on the computer assessing the "hands" photos) and declared, "I want to pray". I immediately responded, "Go ahead, honey! You can pray any time, any where." I just so happened to have my camera right beside me and caught this one. I'm serious, it's not posed! Lydia's love of God just makes me glow with joy. The epitome of LOVE: Our gracious God who first loved us, so much that He gave His only Son so that we may have life eternal. To have my children know and develop their relationship with this amazing, loving God - now that's LOVE!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Staying In

It's ironic that on the warmest day this year, almost spring-like, our assignment was titled, "staying in" when everyone just wanted to be OUTSIDE in the fresh, glorious air. Oh well. My kids did have some TV time after nap/rest, so I caught them zoning out with Dora before dinner.

Here is the actual instruction for the assignment: "What do you do when you are home together?" We were, again, supposed to set up the tripod and capture what we do when we're all here together. Honestly, there wasn't much time when the four of us were here at the same time yesterday (work for daddy, preschool, Mother's Day Out, music class, church choir...) so I just got the kids. And I pretty much never watch TV with them. Sometimes they "stay up late" (like 8 or 8:30 ;) with daddy and watch movies, but usually they get a TV show when I need 24-28 minutes (the running time of an On Demand cartoon) of peace like while prepping dinner.

Oh, and yesterday was "rainbow day" at Lydia's preschool. I usually just dress Tobias according to her school themes to try to carryover the lessons into home-life, thus, LOTS of colors and patterns. ;)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

together (self-portrait)

Go figure, the day we are assigned to do a "self portrait" with the one we love, I get negative amount of sleep the night before resulting in some serious puffy, dark-ringed eyes... Mid-day I decided in no way, shape or form was my face going to be in this photo. Mark came home at 415 and had to dash out at 445 for his night class, so in that time I set up the tripod and decided on a silhouette. I've never attempted one before, but today was the day.

Me & my true love awaiting another gift of love...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Pretty self-explanatory. The assignment was to catch a smooch of a loved one. Our instructor gave a warning, "you may have to use your tripod and the camera's self timer to get you with your loved one." so I did. Honestly, I didn't think much about this prior to setting up the tripod. First, I was a little apprehensive about the tripod shots, particularly since it was chilly outside (we were on the front porch) and I wasn't sure how the tripod set-up would work out with focusing, framing, etc. Second, really never know what Lydia might do or how she might react in these situations. At times, she's completely cooperative, which happened to be today, until she got chilly of course. And I really can't blame her, I was cold too!

It was perfect to get Lydia to kiss me because, well, she's a kisser. Often the objects of her affection are inanimate. For example, she kissed her Tinkerbell lollipop she got at a Valentine's party today. She kisses her stuffed animals and other random toys that she's excited about. Basically, if she's thrilled or overwhelmed with joy, she kisses. Love this girlie!

I was chatting with a girlfriend and fellow photog this morning explaining how post-processing is really "not my thing." I love to take photographs, but the editing part somewhat frustrates me, particularly since it has been a "trial and error" process that has not come naturally to me. That said, yesterday I purchased (at half off I might add - score!) a few Photoshop Actions from This afternoon I had some quiet time to play around with them a little and am encouraged by the results. Now, it still took way more time than I prefer, but I suppose, with anything, this process becomes more streamlined with practice. Once again this class has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore uncharted photography territory for me. Fun!


Some days I'm just not inspired. You know, just don't "feel" like getting my camera out and/or thinking creatively. This course is certainly challenging me to push beyond how I "feel" and "just DO it!" Yesterday I was zonked. Running the kids to MDO, working, walking with my love, grocery shopping, cleaning up from Valentine's parties, dinner at my parents... In the midst of all of that I just didn't get the time or the energy to get the right lighting or the patience to get the "right shot". That said, this is what I DID get...

The assignment was to: "Capture that wedding band on his finger today. if your loved one is not married to you, then try to document a piece of jewelry he or she wears." My whole idea for "generations" (a lesson I skipped due to illness) was to get my mom's, my, and Lydia's hands all together somehow with both my mom and I wearing the rings that we inherited following my grandmother's passing. So, I kind of resurrected that idea yesterday and put on Lydia the bracelet from her baptism that includes a charm of her great-grandmother. I wanted to try to get my grandma (we called her "Babe")'s ring in the photo too. My squirmy 4-year old, all jacked up on sugar from the Valentine's party of the day, just couldn't stay still to "pose" for this one. Although it's not what I had envisioned, it still captures the legacy of my grandmother, specifically the cross representing her faith in Christ that lives in the hearts of the generations that follow her...

This is taken about 4:30pm - although the sun was out earlier a huge cloud came through so it was rather dark, taken in the light from our French doors to our deck.

This is what I got of the wedding band. Trying to make our hands into a "heart shape" (I mean, it was Valentine's Day, after all!) Since she asked us to get the wedding band of the one we love, I focused on his ring. February is not the optimal time of year for beautiful skin. I feel like mine looks 80 years old!

"Jewelry" assignment completed. Glad I waited a day to work on the post-processing. I definitely saw things with a fresher perspective today. :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Today's assignment included capturing an aspect of daily "routine" of one you love. I plugged away through the day: potty, breakfast, cleaning up, playing, dressing, church, lunch, nap, family swim time, dinner, groceries... And then realized that I neglected to capture any aspect of our daily routine. However, it seemed fitting that I got my camera out at bedtime because this is one of the most established routines of the day. I know for most young families bedtime can be a long, tedious process: snack time, potty, teeth-brushing, jammies, reading, prayers, songs, sleep (well, this sometimes comes after Tobias attempting to escape his room and lots of chattering between the sibs). Yet, when I reflect, it's one of the most treasured times of the day. Yes, it's annoying sometimes that the kids are so "needy" and I envision a day when I say, "Go to bed." and they do the whole routine by themselves. Yet, at the same time, I relish in this neediness as I know it's fleeting and at this point, they crave our attention and time. Not five minutes ago Mark went to check on the kids after saying the initial goodnight about 1/2 hr. ago. His question: "Tobias, what do you want?" Toby's response, "I want you and mommy to be in here [his room]". Guaranteed some days, this time of day is truly trying, frustrating, exasperating...but I am reminded of the love and lessons and tender moments of this "routine" that makes the long days seems oh, so sweet.

About the photo: Mark reading to the kids (Lydie is on the other side, but I was up against the wall and couldn't get her in the pic), not to mention my big belly got in the way of a more "interesting" camera angle. At 8 months pregnant, I just can't move like a spring chicken any more. I digress. No natural lighting. Used my external on-camera flash bounced at an approximately 60 degree angle. You'll note that both yesterday and today you see scratches on Toby's face, a result of Lydia's fingernails. Seriously, she clawed him in a fight. UGH. Anyway, I kinda like how it shows the tough parts of the day, but at the same time the serenity and intensity of listening to a story before drifting off to dreamland.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Today I'm not getting philosophical or even reflective. I'm just plain pooped.

The assignment: "Today I want you to take a crisp photo of your loved ones eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul, to try to truly capture your loved one’s eyes today."

The instruction included having them face toward a window. My children were less than cooperative, but I managed to sneak out these 2 shots of them. It's remarkable to me how they actually look alike here (which I don't think they do in "real life" at all!)

Our instructor went on to note that she finds the best lighting to be in a doorway or covered porch. I never ever would have thought of this on my own, but accepted the challenge. This afternoon I attempted both.

Lydia in the doorway.

Kids on the front porch.

Simply love these eyes and the little souls behind them. :)