My amazing mother

I am incredibly blessed to have been given a mother that is one of the most beautiful people in the world, inside and out. This week on Facebook, in honor of Mother’s Day, my friends have been changing their profile pictures to one of their mother. I have seen some photos of some very beautiful ladies…….who’s children love them very much. But every single time I have seen a new picture, I think “Oh, she’s truly lovely, but she could never be as beautiful as my mother.”

Really, my mom is like…model gorgeous. I remember being a little girl, and thinking everyone’s mom wore a lime green bikini regularly at the lake….because mine did. I remember thinking her hair resembled that of a princess, and her sense of style was (and is to this day) impeccable. Mom is the kind of woman that can wear white pants anywhere, and not get them dirty (unlike her very sloppy daughter). I remember my friends frequently commenting on how pretty my mom was, and I totally took it for granted. I mean…she is my mom. Oftentimes, I think my mom’s physical beauty sometimes outshines her kind, giving and generous heart, which is more beautiful than I could ever describe in words. I have never heard her make snarky comments about others, she would always go out of her way to help someone, and she has always put her family, friends, and those in need ahead of herself. Mom spent nearly 15 years as a paraprofessional to special needs kids; and loved it. Before that, she worked at a head start preschool, and also loved those children and treated them with such love, respect, and kindness. Mom has always been a model of who we should be.

I believe that I am such an adventurous and trusting person because of my parents, and much of that came from my mom.  She read me hundreds of books about clever, intelligent and adventurous girls, who accomplished great things. Mom always stressed how important brains were in everything; how an education is critical, and life is never dull if you have books, nature, and friendship. I love plants, gardening, and creating a cozy home because I was surrounded by the beauty she created in and around our home.

My mom has never, ever given up on me (even though I have done things that are terribly disappointing, frustrating, and upsetting), or ever settled for less than the best for me. I am the person I am today, because of her. I am terribly independent, creative and strong……..just like her. I still want to make her proud every day. (Oh, and she let me do all kinds of crazy things to my hair, wear strange clothes, and just “find who I was”….without saying a critical word. THAT tells you lots about her patience.)

I was adopted when I was 5 days old, and like my husband said, I was simply meant for my parents, and them for me. I have never ever questioned how much they love me. I know in my heart how much I have been treasured since the moment I was born. I see photos like these that allow me to see how my entire family gathered around me to envelop me with love……..and how my mother felt to hold me in her arms….and I am filled with gratitude, happiness, and joy. I am infinitely grateful that God gave me my mom, it is one of the greatest blessings of my life, and truly no words I can find will convey that.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You are an amazing mother, wife, and grandmother. Thank you for everything you do, and all that you are….for that I am eternally grateful.

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Welcome to Spring

After a few very stressful weeks, where I felt I had no creative juices, I decided to force the issue yesterday, with my camera and my very photogenic youngest child….who still loves to have her photo taken. We were killing some time while Brynne had a rehearsal, and I had actually remembered to put my camera bag in the car.  We drove to Gage Park’s Rose Garden in Topeka, with a beautiful day, green grass, budding trees and tulips waiting for us. I have learned that it takes me a while as a photographer to “warm up”, and really get creative with my camera. All of the early shots of this day were a bit blah, but as the direct sun started to set, I began to see the possibilities in the beautiful surroundings.

I am so lucky to have a kid that loves to model, and has a great sense of herself to add to a photo. I also feel so blessed to have had these few moments with her alone. I rarely have time with her, as she is the “baby” and the older girl’s activities usually grab my time.
As I spent plenty of time with my funny girl, enjoying the flowers and the grass, I started to feel creative, and to absorb all that was around me, including her fun, vibrant 9 year old energy. Her “serious” poses, her not taking life seriously at all.                    All of that is a beautiful thing. I think people that are feeling down, should simply spend time with kid.                                                                                     As the sun moved closer to the horizon, I busted out my sun flare capturing skills. I just love those moments so much.

This was by far my favorite shot of the day, and totally candid. Ivy was pretending to be a rock star and sing. She had been dancing on a rock, and then opened her arms to the sky. Right at that moment, though I knew I had tons of technical imperfections to my photos, I did know that the world was exquisitely good, and as Bob Marley says “Every little thing is gonna be alright.” Happy Tuesday, friends. 🙂

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The power of invisibility

Luck has it that most every day, I have to cross a bridge over a large expanse of Lake Perry. Our home backs up to the river that feeds the lake, and we can see all kinds of wildlife, when the trees are not leafed out; when that happens, we have a small window to see things on the water from our yard or deck….but the view is nothing as spectacular as the area under the bridge. I absolutely love the moment when I get to cross over the lake, and I can see the sun on the water, or the clouds changing it to a dramatic color, like a spooky gray, or like in the above photo, a surreal blue….but this post really isn’t about the lake at all.

More than once, I’ve been able to witness something pretty amazing as I cross the bridge over the lake….something that feels to me almost like witnessing a miracle.  There must be some sort of air current that flows along beside the lake in one spot very near the road (Perry is a very windy lake…so that isn’t impossible). On certain days, I will pass by this spot, and see a bird (always a large bird…once an eagle, frequently a hawk, and the other day a beautiful pelican) suspended in midair, wings outstretched, head down scanning the water or nearby bank for something. The tips of the bird’s wings will flutter, but other than that, the bird is absolutely still, caught on that air current.  If I wasn’t moving along beside it in my car, I would assume time had come to a stand still, the bird is simply not in motion.

Today, I was (and am) feeling really overwhelmed, and that’s putting it pretty lightly. I have reached a point with my daughter’s illness or condition (we don’t know what it is for sure, so I don’t have a name for it), where I just don’t have control….and that leads to me feeling pretty desperate. I also felt so sad for my friend and family member Beth, who lost her dad to a battle with cancer yesterday…..after losing her mom less than a year ago.  A week ago, some kids I had worked with in my former job lost both of their parents in a murder suicide,  the husband of my two youngest girl’s kindergarten teacher was killed in an accident, and a faithful library patron of mine lost his battle with colon cancer. Let me just say I am not necessarily feeling sorry for myself,  but I think I have just reached the limit of what my already fragile emotions could take. This has led me to think about the beauty of becoming invisible, just for a while….. maybe an hour, maybe a few days?

As I headed over the bridge today, bawling in my minivan, there it was….a hawk…suspended just feet from my window, and caught by the invisible air current. The hawk was being held up completely by something unseen, and it got me to thinking.

Really, all that matters and all that we trust in, is invisible.  We cannot see faith, yet we have it. Even if you don’t have a religious faith, everyone has faith in something unseen. The trappings of the heart are unseen, the thoughts of the mind, the connectedness of our relationships. I know that I have never seen Jesus Christ with my eyes, but I have with my soul……and that is all that matters to me;  that’s all I need to place my faith in him.

I love winged creatures, there is something so amazing to me about something that can fly.  I think my fascination comes from the fact that they move through the air, buoyed by the trust and faith in something, and gracefully touching that which is invisible. I am absolutely positive that is supposed to be a sign to us, just like the eagle, and the hawk, and the pelican were to me.  They say that the soul weighs 27 grams, but even if we can measure that scientifically,  it can never be captured.   I have seen recently, however, a soul can be deeply missed and longed for.   I will just pray that the beautiful, invisible, and trustworthy source of the wind beneath those bird’s wings, will continue to blow beneath the wings of those who need it right now and always. ~

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Happy 9th Birthday….{no joke}

I distinctly remember the very second my 3rd daughter, Ivy Camille, first looked at me.  The whole time I was pregnant with her,  I just *knew* she was going to have those big brown eyes that my husband has; and well, she did. When the doctor placed her on my chest, she peered up at me, just like she wanted to have a conversation. I remember saying to her….”Well, Hi! I have been waiting to meet you for so long!”  I know that’s kind of silly, but it just felt like I already knew her so well.

I had been scheduled to be induced on April 1st, Ivy’s exact due date….but she had an April Fools joke to play on me.

The night before she was born, I went into a nesting cleaning frenzy. Seriously. I cleaned every inch of my house. It was crazy, like I was *driven*. At 11:00, Ken insisted I go to bed, I mean, I was supposed to have a baby the next morning, and the girls were already staying with my in laws….it was time to pack my bag and get the show on the road. So, I did….but I just laid there a few minutes, before I started feeling contractions. I told Ken I felt like I was in labor, but I wasn’t sure. His reply was ” Well, I don’t want to get there too early, and be there forever, like with Brynne.” So, he fell asleep, and as about 30 minutes passed, I was acutely aware I was in labor. I decided that if it hadn’t stopped by 1:00 am, I would get up, shower, and we would go……and I did just that.   Well, anyone who’s ever had a baby knows that warm water stimulates labor. I should have KNOWN that, I was a HUGE devotee of Dr. Sears, and his “The Birth Book”….all about how natural labor works, etc.

As I stood in the shower, it hit me…..very hard contractions. My husband was still asleep, and I was aware that this baby was coming ASAP. After waking him, quickly dressing, and hopping in the car, we were on the way to the hospital, about 30 miles away. About 2 miles outside of town, I realized I left my purse at home, with insurance cards, etc…so we went back. By the time we reached the parking garage of the hospital, I got out of the car, and was CONVINCED I would have my baby in that parking garage.  Still, we walked to the main entrance. Um, why we didn’t go through the emergency room, I dunno. I am pretty sure I had not done a good job of convincing Ken how serious I was. I *loved* sitting through registration, as everyone told me that I was probably not that close, and triage, and getting into a dressing gown; praying that as I stood in the bathroom, I would not have my baby alone on the floor.  As I finally climbed into one of the beds, and a nurse checked me, she said “Oh my gosh, she’s going to have this baby right now!” Seriously.

I smiled as they wheeled me down the hall…..the nurses made note of my calmness. I was ready to meet my baby, and satisfied I had proven how serious I was about having this baby….like now.  The nurses begged me to wait for my doctor to arrive before delivering the baby. I did…..more because Ivy waited. He showed up just in time to deliver her……and place her on my chest….where she looked up at me with those big dark eyes, and a happy expression. She had played a great April Fools joke on us.

My baby girl is now 9.  Ivy has always been very likable. She was a cuddly baby, a calm and easygoing  toddler, and is now a conscientious child. She’s very confident, and has a bit of “star power” if you know what I mean? The kind of charisma that I have felt from friends that have gone on to do big things in a performing career. I don’t know if she’s destined for that, but she does have the belief in herself, and the mental toughness it takes; as well as a great work ethic (but hey, she’s in 3rd grade). 🙂 Ivy says she wants to be a scientist………I’m cool with that, too….whatever she dreams  and wants to be will be fine with me.  

At the end of this post, I am going to put the link to a video that Ivy has loved since she was tiny…..The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” As soon as she could sit up, she would move every part of her body to the rhythm of that song (and others, but that song really drew her in). That tells you lots about her. I don’t think a Seven Nation Army could ever hold her back.

Happy birthday baby girl…..Momma loves you.

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Bookstore Bliss {and being silly}

I met my mom and my two “littles” in Lawrence the other day. It is the halfway point for each of us, and though we planned to spend the day in Kansas City, that just wasn’t going to work out. So, we met up for a wonderful lunch, and a bit of exploring.

Every time I have been to Lawrence,  I have wanted to stop in The Raven Bookstore, but in the past, I have been in a rush, it has been closed, or parking was a problem (that’s when I wish I could bicycle in Lawrence. Parking is difficult to find).

I was sooo glad that I was able to stop in on our trip this week….the Raven is a slightly retro, very independent, very delightful bookstore. I think I could easily make use of one of their comfy chairs on a rainy days, and not leave for hours. Finding a great book there is very easy, as yellow review slips hang out of many, many selections; reviewing being done by the employees and owner of the store.

I love how my girls love books, and how this store seemed to call out to them as it did to me. The cozy feel of it was perfect for children, and it had many nooks and crannies that were magical. Like this red door with it’s retro glass knob. For some reason, I fell in love with it. 

The natural light in The Raven was perfect for photos. I think it would even make a nice spot for an actual photo shoot. It has so many colors that pop, and areas that are so unique.

I love how my girls love the books that I loved as a child. That makes me feel like maybe I’m doing something right. 😉

Um, this is probably one of the only times you’ll see a full length pic of me….in this mirror. Haha. But I thought it was a fun way to capture the scene behind me in a “fish eye” way.


I love, love, love this picture of Brynne. She’s talking about Edgar Allen Poe. She’d just made the connection between “The Raven” and Edgar Allen Poe. She’d also just bought a finger puppet of Poe, who was having a conversation with Jessie, Ivy’s Toy Story doll. Yep, that’s my kids. I love them. They are so my kids.

As we were leaving, I felt a little sad. I think I could have stayed in The Raven all day. The owner said it was the only independently owned bookstore in Lawrence, and it had been there 23 years. I can see why…it is a wonderful place.

Later, we stopped at a nursery (which I am 99% sure used to be a crematorium, or funeral home, or something related to that with the long tall smokestack rising out of the ground.) I was thinking it was interesting to have a business so full of life…..a bursting greenhouse full of lovely plants, in a building that used to deal with death. But I guess that’s house life moves….in a dizzying circle like that.

Sadly, I have only one picture of that….the girls trying on garden hats, as my memory card had been corrupted. I was so sad. But…..I hope to make these new discoveries frequent haunts….so maybe I’ll have photos from there soon. Happy Friday, friends.

PS-Doesn’t Ivy look like she’s doing her best Minnie Pearl from Hee Haw with the tag hanging down on the hat? Whoa. I probably really dated myself there, hmmm?

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She’s 16 today

I had NO idea how overwhelming it would be to have one of my daughters turn 16. For some reason, that milestone is so big. I remember back to when I turned 16.  My mom and dad took me to see David Copperfield perform at the Midland in Kansas City, and bought me a really beautiful bedroom set; something to replace the one from my early childhood. I felt so mature.

I realize now that my girl is getting closer to a woman, and an adult…and further away from a child. Back in the “olden days” she would possibly be married by now. Yipes. I can’t imagine that.

Also, now that I am a parent of a 16 year old, I have some advice for the set that is just raising your babies (having a 16 year old makes me all wise like that, right?)  In raising and loving your children, you get ONE chance, and 18 very fast years. You may have a second child, but never a second chance to raise the first, do your very best the first time. It is HARD to be a parent, the hardest job that you will ever have. You will have time (and more money) to do all of those things that you dreamed of for yourself later, don’t resent your kids for taking that time away from you now, they deserve everything you’ve got.  Having done the job of raising your child, at any less than you have to offer, is one regret you don’t want to carry around with you. And hey, we want a clear conscience as we are living the life on a beach as empty nesters, right?

Oh, and take lots of pictures……that will be something you will be so happy about later, and so will they.

~Blessings, A

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Visit my new sister blog, Sparkling Gnome!

If you are a scrapbooker, you may enjoy visiting my fun new blog The Sparkling Gnome! I decided to create a separate blog for my scrappy fun, because I had lots of things to post, and I thought maybe some folks might be interested in my photography and writing about daily life, and others may be more interested in my scrapbooking creations. I will continue to link Sparkling Gnome, here, however. 🙂  I had a blast creating my icon….who reflects my love for “sparkly things” as Ken calls them, AND my wicked love for gardening and the whimsical things that can be found in a garden.   I hope you will visit, if you are a fan of scrapbooking!
Happy Saturday, friends!

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