cherries in the hall

and sisters.

Not coincidental I'm sure, that when we begin something for reasons we love, then forget when the real work kicks in, reminders return when we come home to what we originally fell in love with.

Baby Chicks + World of Wonders

Papa came home from work one day and asked the kids, "Do you want to go buy a treat?" We came home with three baby chicks that our own baby chicks picked out. Annie chose the black one, Kate the yellow, and Luke the silver.

They are a major hit. Major. Annie sings Elsa to them, reads stories to them, carries them around on her arms and legs and lap and wrists. She is fearless and loves them. While Facetiming her dad one day she said, holding the phone over them and pointing, "That one's mine. He wuvs me...but he's eating his food wight now." She tries to hand them to Kate who is now mostly scared of being pooped on and won't hold them, even though she says she wants to. Luke likes to play, "What if I...." with them. These chicks are the perfect source of entertainment.

While their bright red light was shining down on us while I snapped the photos - it's fine. ha. And I left them in order to tell much of the story.

For Michelle's 24th birthday she woke up to balloons, flowers, waffles and ice cream, a birthday banner and a card that had plan A and plan B in it. She got to choose her day. One of the things we did that day was go to World of Wonders. These are some fun shots from the inside of that children's museum.

My Voice

Ira Glass (host and producer of This American Life) talks about beginning artists and creativity saying, "No one tells people who are beginners...is that all of us who do creative work...we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like, there's a gap, that for the first couple years you are making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It's not that great. It's trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it's not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you...A lot of people never get past that phase, a lot of people quit...they knew it fell short...It's totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work...Because it's only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And your work your making will be as good as your ambitions." (Watch the full quote here.)

After the past year spent trying, fighting, watching, learning, listening, practicing, failing, trying again...I HAVE FINALLY TAKEN PICTURES THAT I FEEL ARE ME! THEY ARE WHAT I'M REACHING FOR, DREAMING OF. MANY OF THESE PHOTOS ARE SO EXCITING TO ME! I  I WANT TO CRY AND SHOUT AND LAUGH AND AHHHHHHH!!!!!!! 

I still have things I want to fix, things I need to figure out, things that will make all of this more...me, but I need time. And I can't "wait for time to pass" until I feel I've made it (and "made it" doesn't exist anyway...) I will keep showing up, every day, doing what I currently know how to do, and every ounce of progress will be celebrated. I am in the process of moving through my "volumes of work" to close the gap and finally make work that "will be as good as [my] ambitions."

Thanks for stickin' around - your positive feedback is encouraging and I love you all!

Hour at the Beach

We were in the car already and the feeling sets in - we can't go back hooooommmeee.

So we went to the beach.

January's feelin' foggy. It's been so hard to pick up my camera, but here's to pushing through, even when I don't love what I made.

Rexburg at -16 Degrees Fahrenheit

December 2016.

Snowmageddon meets graduation meets Christmas meets Disneyland.

That's how I would describe my sister's graduation in Rexburg, Idaho.

We drove two days in a snow storm, packed her U-Haul and cleaned her apartment in the snow storm (of the year, apparently), went to graduation that night in that same storm, then drove home the next day, half the time, in the snow storm. And yes, it was -16 degrees. 

After all of the excitement of the day - add: 8 months pregnant, starving, last undergrad final, can't drive anywhere because of the roads and ice and ice and ice, cleaning out she and her husband's apartment, graduation, Wendy's (requested by said pregnant lady), then...

....finally crashing at the hotel room. Before walking in my dad told the girls he thought Santa came! When they laid eyes on what what in that room they went charging. My sister, Marielle, very thoughtfully rains every holiday upon you, and the girls were opening presents for daysssss.

Since we prefer to stay home (in Seattle) during the holidays, we planned to have Christmas in Rexburg, as we were all meeting there for graduation (minus one brother.) My parents know how much Kate loves horses and bought the larger-than-life pony (well, Santa did, who flew out the window before we walked in...) and the kitchen.

It was a really fantastic weekend - not relaxing at all, but loads of fun. The photos contain shots from our journey there, my parent's hotel, "Christmas," and graduation. We slept on my sister and brother in law's floor, hence the shots of my sleeping beauties snuggled up with one other.

Here are our memories, many of which are freelensed, and almost all of which are manual focused - hence the missed focus. But, of course, we just call that art. Also, a handful of these photos are from using the timer on my camera. On the drive out Tyler went to the gym and we hung at the hotel. It was the first time I put myself in the frame with the babes.

I really love taking pictures. A lot.

Sunrise on the Couch

Kate's first words this morning were, in her deep scratchy voice, "Mommy...chaanngggge mmmyyy bbuummmmm."

I have never done a sunrise shoot - I'm not usually out of bed until after 9am.... In the summer in Seattle the sun rises between 4 and 5am; I'm not getting up that early! But, in January the sun rises around 8am, and today there are no clouds hiding it!

Annie and I were sitting on the couch (she is one early riser!) and watched the sun come up. She proceeded to play by putting on princess clothes.

I have a goal set for myself: take pictures every day. They don't have to be posted anywhere, or even good, but I'm going to take pictures every day, even if just for a few minutes. Here is what came of today (yes, that is our Christmas tree's shadow because it's still on our balcony. And, I originally cooled the photos down and uploaded them but was left unsettled because when the sun pours in these windows it really is as golden as golden can be):

Film - Trying to Understand

My New Year's resolution is: WILLING.

Willing to try.

Willing to fail.

Willing to see.

Willing to love.

Willing to be.

I am trying to understand film - here are some photos I enjoyed from this roll. (I don't know why my camera adds the vignetting. Maybe because it's from 1985...)

I gave Annie a couple disposable cameras that I originally was going to use for fun and practice, but didn't. Here is what she made - I am really in love with some of these.

Random Stuff and Resolutions

I like to blog. I don't know why some photos get the cut. Looking back I wonder, "How did some of these get left out?! I love them!" 

I recently listened to a podcast by two photographers who interviewed Summer Murdock. I loved what Summer said in the end: "Let's keep this in perspective. It's just a picture." For all the grief that can often go into an Instagram post, or blog post, or the worry of what people will think, honestly, it's just a picture. My goals for 2017 revolve around a lot of this. I am reprioritizing. I tell myself everyday, "everything is a process" and pictures are no exception. While I want to be as good as the photographers who have been doing this 9+ years, I am not there yet. I have to be more true to me - take pictures I enjoy taking, share photos I think are moving or inspiring. I am also excited about the freedom that comes from keeping social media off my devices (unless I post a photo). I don't care about followers - my goal isn't go be known, famous, or popular. My goal is to become a photographer who enjoys what she does. I want to do more personal projects, create more videos, and have tons of fun along the way. This is my process and I'm determined to enjoy the journey.

Here are the photos that "didn't make it."

Soccer in the House

It's freezing here. We have been sick (all but Annie), cooped up inside, and cold. Annie kept asking to go to the park, which I couldn't muster the strength to do, so I brought two soccer balls out from storage and we played soccer in the house. It's one of my greatest ideas to date. This Annie girl needs to run - keeps her from picking fights with a dear-to-her-heart younger sis.

These photos are because it was sunny for one day, and any day there is sun I can't not take photos. Annnnd, since Summer Murdock's Magic of Light class sold out in less than 60 seconds, and I wasn't one of the lucky ones, I have to teach myself how to use the sun, light, shadows, and everything in between to take pretty pictures, the old fashioned way, by lots of practice. 

They are all freelensed because it's what I'm obsessed with right now.

Our Christmas Tree

Freelensed. It holds a total of two ornaments - we have preference for the ones made by certain 1, 2, and 3 year olds... I think it's completely perfect - especially because it took Tyler 45 minutes to drag it up the snow packed hill, and another 20* to hike it back to the car.

I love this time of year - a celebration of the Savior of the world, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. The giver of the life-changing, life-giving gift: the atonement. My heart and my mind are overflowing with gratitude. I have been given much - it has all come from Him and I know I have much to give. This year I hope to give gifts that turn others, and myself, to Him: Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God.

*When Tyler read "15" he promptly corrected me that I had to state the fact: it took 20 minutes at least for him to get back to the car.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I love documentary images. While they may not be attractive to the majority of people looking for a pretty picture, these types of images are more moving to me than those.

A football game, snuggles on the couch, babies rocking their babies. Life is beautiful.

What if I Die?

So many more swirling thoughts about a lot of things, so I'll start like this:

This is a morbid post surrounding the questions: What if I die? What if Tyler dies? (Which I'll blame on Tyler because it's open enrollment and he asked if we should take out a life insurance policy on me

And this:

My last post was Of Things that Fade. Doing things, making things, creating things - memories - that last, has also been on my mind.

The most important things to me are the 4 people living within this 700 sq. foot box we call "home." We make up our family - full of good choices and dumb choices and tantrums and laughing 'til we are crying, and let's not forget the dirty diapers; we have lived here 4 years and I haven't known this place without them - mine and theirs.

Our family motto is, "No matter what happens we are going to have fun." Sometimes I have to remind Tyler, and sometimes he has to remind me, and together we pull each other through this roller coaster without any lasting damage (0, 1, 2, and 3 year olds can take their toll on a parent's brain...)

Returning to What if Tyler Dies?

I figured I had a good plan: We would live on his life insurance until the girls were old enough to go to school and then if I wanted I'd go back to work. I would move back to Rexburg, Idaho, teach at BYU-Idaho in the Early Childhood/Specialized Education department (where I completed my undergrad - I majored in EC/SE, and double minored in Spanish Education and TESOL - Teaching English as a Second Oral Language.) I would get my Master's while teaching. It's an amazing program and I could hopefully be home when they got home from school. I wouldn't love living in Rexburg, but it would be cheap and I love the college. We would make it work, and no matter what we would have fun!

But I hadn't thought much about

What if I Die? 

All of a sudden I was thinking about all of the things that are most important to me, things they "have" to know to be the kind, positive, empathetic people I hope my girls would be: 

First off, the biggest lesson I have learned is: This life is about love. If I'm not loving I'm not doing it right. 

It has taken the stress off choices I have to make and the way I see the world. It has lightened my load and made my rose-colored glasses more rosey. Love really does change everything - it changes us. Love is the reason we are here, love is the reason we get to go where we are going, it's the reason people heal and change. Love is central to everything we do and are and will become. My girls have to know this. 

Today Kate and I were walking up a hill holding hands and I said, "I love when my Goosie hold my hand! I love her holding my hand." And she started laughing. Then she said, laughing, "It fun!!!" All of me melted right then.

So, what if I die?

Who will give them cookies or chocolate cake for breakfast? Who will snuggle them on the living room floor until they fall asleep? Who will teach them to be includers and watch for the one who needs a friend? Who will tell them to come back inside so we can kneel down and thank God for every blessing he has given us before leaving for the day? Who will sway and dance with Kate while singing a million times in her ear, "I yuvvv my Goosie girlllll. IIIIII yuv myyyyy Goosie girl. I yuuuvvv myyyyyyyyyy Goosie girl" while she sighs and melts into me, wrapping her arms around my neck, smiling, and drinking in all the love in the world? Who will plop them on the counter to make cupcakes and eat half the batter before baking any? Who will focus on saying "yes" to as many requests that come every minute? Who will get to lay in bed every morning while listening to a 3 year old convince a 2 year old to do all the naughty things, so when said 3 year old gets in trouble she only has to reply, "no, Kaaaaaaaaattee." Who will laugh through all of the prayers we say as a family? Who will teach them we take the Sacrament because Jesus loves us? Who will be serenaded by a beautiful 2-year old voice while driving everywhere in the car? Who will be told, "Mommy you're so pretty in your dress and your skirt and your hair today! You're so pretty!" Who will patiently not interrupt Annie while she stutters through questions and phrases on end? Who will whisper to get toddlers to calm while they are screaming their heads off? Who will "peent" their nails? Who will jump out to scare them as they pass by a doorway? Who will always choose play over chores? Who will they grab around the neck and squeeze as hard as they can when they are happy? Who will they cry to while saying, "Mommy, I'm so sad wite now" and then, "Nuddle me mommy (snuggle me, mommy.)" Who will let them wear whatever they want when they get themselves dressed? Who will tell them they are beautiful and fun and nice and "I love when you share with one another!"? Who will teach them our life experience leads us to believe and think and act the way we do. Who will teach them to choose kindness, always? Who will wait patiently for Annie to be ready to say sorry when she has hurt a friend? Whose hand will Kate hold whenever she walks anywhere? Who will she tell, "Holdjume, holdjume."? Who will tell them "Happy Birthday" every 5 minutes on their birthday, and celebrate all day long? Whose hair will they braid and whose makeup will they do? Who will love them fiercely, proudly, patiently, gently, consistently?

After I thought of everything that was important to me and everything we do together and everything I focus on I thought, "I am a good mom. I love my babies. I love what we do, who we are, and who we are becoming. While it is crazy hard up the wa-zoo sometimes, it is beautiful and fun and funny. I wouldn't trade any of it for anything else - not even the 4:30am cereal breaks, even with Annie screwin' around cause "no, mom, I 'dis bein' funny. I 'dis make Kate laugh. ha ha ha. See, Kate happy now.'" 

While nothing we do is perfect over here, we have learned - and are learning - to listen to one another. We know how to forgive one another and buoy each other up. We are strong, and can do anything, together.

All of it really is too good to be true.

Here are the photos from our trek to the pumpkin patch. I was reminded how much of a city girl I am not, and how one day I hope to return to the boonies with ponies and gardens and egg-laying chickens and green fields as far as the eye can see - or ocean, I'll take that too.

Friends at the Park in the Fog then the Sun then the Fog...

I have two stories I want to document about Annie. The first occurred while in Santa Cruz. She was building a sand castle with her dad, when a huge wave came through and wiped out people and sandcastles on the shore. The wave was so big it left everything in disarray. Without a half-second thought, Annie ran far to her right, grabbed multiple sand toys that belonged to a young boy and his mom (who were playing to her far left) and then ran the toys back to the little boy. She dropped them at the mom's feet and lightning-fast returned to her dad to continue building. She didn't look at anyone or talk to anyone. She didn't hesitate. She acted without a thought, and returned to her post.

The second story occurred days ago while she and a friend were playing at a nearby park. Annie and her friend were playing when another little girl their age began following them around. Annie was holding a bag of pirate's booty - a gift from her friend. She took out a piece of popcorn and handed it to the girl standing by. When the girl took it from Annie she stood and watched her for awhile.

I happened to be sitting nearby and first proudly praised Annie for sharing with this little girl. I then tried to guide her on what to do next: "Annie say, 'What is your name?' then say, "My name is Annie.'" I then said, "Now ask, 'Would you like to play with us?'" Annie asked and the girl nodded. 

I never would have caught these moments had I not been sitting and watching. My heart burst with love and happiness in both scenarios. Each time I felt I couldn't praise her enough for doing what she can - in her small 3-year old sphere - to love the people by her side. She notices them, watches them, and then wants to include them. It makes me want to do more in my small 31-year old sphere to care for those within my reach.

This day at the park was beautiful in every sense of the word. It was sunny, it was warm, it was gorgeous; we chatted, we ate, we laughed, we played. I have fallen back in love with Seattle.

Twirl Sesh take II

Annie and Kate were dancing in the shadows in the fresca morning light that comes in our windows. Well, Annie was dancing and Kate pulled her pants halfway down so she could run and trip and fall on her face - she loves that game. Then she and Annie crack up.

Today Kate and I were walking up a hill holding hands and I said, "I love when my Goosie hold my hand! I love her holding my hand. I love my goosie." She started laughing, paused, and then said, laughing again, "It fun!!!" All of me melted right then.

I used to edit all of my photos bright and white, but I'm playing around with editing...differently.

Many times I also have to talk myself into grabbing my camera because I think, "I've taken 548 photos in this spot, why take 1 more?" in addition to, "I really wish my landlord would let me tear my carpet up so I could have the beautiful hardwood floors underneath, and that stressed leather couch!!!! ^%$^&%##"

But I guess therein lies the challenge - how do I do this differently than I have before? 

I found the girls snuggled up one night in California. The only one you don't see is Tyler asleep on the other side of Annie.

My First Film

Summer Murdock is one of my favorite photographers. ever. She and a few other photographers have a project called the 60 Second Photograph. I love it so much I had to start something similar. This is my first film! There are pieces that make me think, "ya, it's my first film" and I could list them all, but honestly why do that?! I am so happy I made this come to life I'll save the critiquing for another day! (And, if anyone wants to do this with me I'd love to get a group together - it wouldn't matter where you live, we hold each other accountable by posting on the same day each month! iPhones can do anything these days... Come on, people! Be brave!)

Once I get a couple more of these under my belt (back to that critiquing part, I know what I want to do differently next time) I'll offer this as another service!

Of Things that Fade

I have so many goals, aspirations, thoughts, dreams swirling around my head I had to make a game plan to pull myself together.

I feel like the days are flying by. The minutes drag on for years but at the end of the day I feel it lasted 5 minutes, and then it was over, and many times I think, "I didn’t do much - not much that will last. I spent time on things that will fade, that no one will remember."

I don’t like New Years’ Resolutions. I set a goal and forget about it. Repeat. Every year. I have decided that an end-of-year goal is what I want to do! I only have to remember it for two months, and if I like it I’ll keep it into the new year.

My goal is to: Live Life Deliberately. To take charge of my time.

I could spend hours on social media looking at pictures (which really was helpful as I am learning photography). But since my mentoring I have so much confidence that my creativity comes from within me, not without, so I deleted Facebook off my phone, deleted my mail app off my phone, and would delete the Instagram app if I didn’t have to have it to post photos, but let's be real, I'm all about taking millions of photos and sharing them with the world - that's not going anywhere. Where I was previously concerned with gaining followers and “building my business,” that isn’t priority anymore. I still will take gazillions of photos, so please, recommend everyone you know to me ;) and I’m still going to post gazillions of photos on social media, but I have a plan to use my time better.

I’m went back to pen and paper, and it has changed my life. I bought a notebook where I keep photos I’ve imagined up and want to create. I write down my “best things that happened today.” I have a paper-book calendar where I write everything I want to do with the girls: build a fort, make a jump rope for their babies and pretend play, eat under the table, go to that museum. I know we can do fun creative things if I take the time to plan it, even just to think about it. Because I don't let myself be boring, I don't let myself do nothing, I don't give my brain time to think up all of the things I want to do that won't fade - to think up and do the things that matter most. 

I have limited days while my girls are at home, and I know I'll miss it if I don’t change my game plan! As an aside, my great-grandfather is the one who brought TV to Lordsburg, New Mexico. My (non-mormon) grandfather told my (mormon) grandmother that she had to quit smoking before he would marry her. I want to spend time documenting these types of stories from my past. There is so much I want to learn and record, that I have to be diligent about putting boundaries on the areas I’m wasting time. I feel more fulfilled when I don’t tell myself, “I need a break,” and instead am filling my days with fulfilling activities. (And no doubt! There are times I’m screaming and pulling my hair out and want a break! But I don’t want that to feel the norm.)

I want to live a deliberate life, a life not distracted by my screens. I want to live a mindful life. Last night Tyler sat next to me and said, "Can I share something with you?" I moved my computer out of sight and said, "Yes." He proceeded to share some things on his mind. I notice that I have to work extra hard to listen to each word - again, because I haven't let myself think about nothing in so long, I haven't sat peacefully with myself. I'm used to constantly giving myself input through a screen. When others talk to me my attention span is short! I want to be mindful, be able to sit in stillness, feel peaceful, and be slow. And when the girls say, "Yayy down wit me mommy." I want to lay down with them. When they say, "Come watch a moo-mie wit me, mommy" I want to go watch a movie, not first finish cleaning, or finish the dishes.

While visiting our family in California I observed my dad and his parents. Our grandparents do not know the age of not sitting and chatting about anything and everything. My dad wants to chat about everything, reminisce about the good ol' days, tell lots of stories. My grandmother talked to me for 20 minutes, without stopping, about everything on her mind. One of our best trips this year was to the coast where no one had cell reception. We had to sit and stare at each other - talk - and we laughed and played and enjoyed every minute of it, distraction free. 

My end-of-year resolution is to be deliberate about how I use my time, and be mindful in the moments I need to be a wife and a mother and a friend - mindful and not distracted.

I have photos everywhere! And I keep finding more. I actually filled up my external hard drive while on vacation and now am going back and forth between hard drives to find everything I want saved. Wednesday got left behind, so here she is: (My sister in law, Michelle, took all of the photos in the first stack, I took the photos at the bottom in the second stack. I love when others pick up my camera because then I get to be in the shots! Some are blurry because auto-focusing this camera is hard when you're a newbie but they're artsy and I love them all.)

Thursday, Friday in Santa Cruz

Our days of boogie boarding with seals (swimming suuuuuper close), whale watching every day from the balcony and the shore, surfing, being completely slammed by waves, eating cupcakes galore, delicious crock pot meals that allowed us to sit in the sand as long as we wanted, birthday celebrations, fireworks, sand castles, movie nights, laughter, tears, fire pit Lockeford Meat sausages, Bampa's cast iron desserts, s'mores, and mud fights, made nothing short of a perfect vacation. 

I'm always very thankful when we arrive home safely from a long drive, and even more thankful everything is in tact when we get home. Especially after driving home this weekend - the rain never let up, and we saw multiple, terrible accidents. Also, when the day comes to leave my parent's house I'm always a bit cranky and sad that vacation is over and I have to come back home. I have lived in this apartment in Seattle longer than I have lived anywhere in my entire life, and I sometimes get anxious to go somewhere else, do something else... But, every time we pull up the 99 and I see the Great Wheel, the Space Needle, Tyler's building downtown, the water, the ferries, I'm always filled with gratitude that this is where I live. I love my friends, my house, my neighborhood, my church, this city, and wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

After reading Steal Like an Artist I have started a new style of journaling: I ask myself, "What was the best thing that happened today?" It is perfect - it gives me only a few lines to write, and as soon as I start thinking back on my day a flood of tiny memories come to mind - all the things I want to remember when I am old. This is one of my favorites from yesterday:

"Tonight arrived home safely. Relaxed, fun 2-day drive home from California. When I put the girls in bed Kate was screaming and I started singing, 'Amad a Otros.' Kate finally laid down next to me and I started saying a prayer of gratitude out loud. Annie, half way through, copied and finished the prayer. I started our nightly ritual of, 'I love you, Annie.' and Kate shouted, 'Uh-Uh!' Annie then said, 'I yuvvv you mommy.' Kate, not feelin' the love said, 'I. NO. WAN-NIT!!' and then she fell asleep."

Natural Bridges, Our Last Day

Natural Bridges is a state park that is also home to thousands (~8,000) of Monarch butterflies during the winter; here they build a "city in the trees." Fun fact: in the Spring and Summer the Monarchs live West of the Rocky Mountains where the Milkweed plant is abundant. Milkweed contains a toxin, that when ingested by a caterpillar, makes the caterpillar toxic to other animals. This toxin stays in the butterfly as well, giving it protection from those who would eat it (reference). Every year we go see the butterflies and play on this beach. Since we had already checked out of our house and everything was packed we lacked wetsuits. This water was cold! but it doesn't matter how cold it is, Tyler is always going in. Nathan followed suit as well as our good friend, Robbie. Michelle also joined and when I put the camera down I jumped in, too! We spent our last hour at the beach body surfing with the dolphins. We topped it all off with some delicious Mexican food and of course, Marianne's for the best ice cream around.