Samuel loves trains. He makes choo-choo noises and pushes them around, drives them up and down furniture, and can name them all. I love listening to him go, "Thomas, Pewcy, Jawmes." He'll say, "no diesel!" and smash them together. He's especially fond of linking them as well as stacking them...then subsequently knocking them down. These are just a few moments from everyday that I like.
This little boy makes me smile.
ps. am accepting sponsors for aspire again! email me if you're interested in advertising in october!
I don't know how to write this. You officially turned two on Sunday, and I'm a little overwhelmed by that.
How can you be two already? I remember the day you were born, when we all awaited anxiously for the phone call telling us of your birth. Telling us of you. We didn't know your name until daddy called at 3:16 in the afternoon. Samuel Josiah.
They gave you a good name.
I remember when you were only a few months old, and had a long, funny tuft of hair on your forehead. We were afraid you'd lose all your hair, because you had a little bald spot on the back of your head from rubbing. Like a little monk. You were such a cutie, with your chubby face and little toes.
I remember the day you swallowed the sequin, and how scared I was. You were so little and I was so terrified that we were going to lose you. To have you for such a short time and then to have you no more would have been unbearably hard. But God had big plans for you! I was never more relieved when I heard you were okay. As soon as you got home, we all crowded around you and cuddled and kissed you and cried.
And then in January. The day you went to the hospital. But it had been months before that full of worry. There was something wrong with your stomach. You couldn't eat. You were always sick and tired. There was always pain in your eyes. It hurt my heart to see you not feeling good. And it scared me sick when you went into the hospital. For a second time in your short life, I was afraid we were going to lose you. Not again, I thought.
Those next couple of weeks were the hardest I've ever experienced. Mom and you were gone at the hospital for a couple days, then you came home and were back in and out of that place for several weeks. I tried my best to run the household but it was hard to pretend everything was okay when the little ones asked why you and mom weren't home. I couldn't pretend. But I didn't know. That was the hardest part, the not knowing.
When we found out you had Celiac, Sam, our world was rocked silly and knocked upside down. I was terrified of what it was, terrified of the implications, and terrified for you. There were so many hard changes and difficult choices. It's a long journey that we're still walking along. But you're better now. You're healthy and growing and thriving.
Like I said before, the Lord has big plans for your life, and these trials and hardships are preparing you for something greater. You've been blessed and have blessed our family so much, sweet Sam. I don't know what we would do without you.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, I love you, Samuel, and am so proud of you. I love the way when you laugh your whole body shakes because you're overcome. I love the way your blue eyes smile and your cheeks dimple and you pretend to be shy. I love your roars and your love of john deere and the way you say "me gwooten-fwee!" I love your heart and I love you, sweet Samuel!
And so today, I'm praising God for you. For your life.
You're my absolute favorite Sam ever. Hugs and kisses and so much thankfulness.
My friend Stephanie is a friend and mentor to her little ones as she calls my sister Chloe and her friend Mackenzie. She called and asked if Chloe wanted coffee, and I tagged along and snapped some photos. It was probably the last day that was warm enough to not be sipping some steaming mochas, which made for a fun afternoon of photo taking. What can I say? I'm loving the fall weather and foliage oh, so much.
The days have slipped into cold winds, crisp air, and fall foliage filling the air. I love watching the transition from the steamy summer months to the invigorating weeks of autumn. There's something special about this season -- with the winds wild and world glorious in hue. Along with the transitions outside, there's absolutely cozy transitions happening inside. We've been wearing woolen sweaters and cozy socks, board games have been pulled out, and our dinners have shifted from fresh garden fare, to hearty soups, stews, and freshly-baked treats.
Every year, as Autumn rolls around, we eagerly await the arrival of the delicious pumpkin bars. My mom has been making these for as long as I can remember. I can see her standing in the kitchen, smoothing the frosting over the bars in the long tray. She'd sprinkle walnuts on top and slice them into thick wedges that were just heaven to bite into. The sweetness from the bars isn't just from the sugar. The memories baked into every tray make fall a little better than it already
The recipe is stuffed in a huge folder of my mom's, jam-packed full of clippings and photocopies of recipes from books and magazines, while hand-written directions are scattered among the various sheets. This was my first time attempting the treats, and I daresay they turned out delicious. We were out of walnuts and went without this time, but the little sprinkling on top adds a crunch that is the perfect finish to an already perfect dessert.
Harvest Pumpkin Spice Bars
Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 cups flour (we used gluten free flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar (sweeten to taste)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a jelly roll pan. Beat the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cloves. Spread the batter in the pan and smooth. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until light brown. Let cool completely for one hour. While cooling, make the frosting by mixing the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually beat the powdered sugar in until smooth. Frost the pumpkin bars, sprinkle with walnuts, and cut into 7x7 rows. Enjoy!
Based on how you cut them, there should be about 30-49 servings. Refrigerate any leftovers if you have any. We usually end up eating most of the treat the first day, and the remainder serves as a delicious breakfast the next. Oops. Yes, I mean it. Don't laugh at me! We're not so good about the whole breakfast-for-breakfast thing, as evident by our love for sweets.
It's a tasty way to start your day...and I'm planning on including this homemade pumpkin spice latte into my morning as well. What can I say? I love fall and the changes that come along with it...especially food wise. And what better way to celebrate the first (official) day of Autumn than some oh-so-yummy-pumpkiny treats?
Have a favorite fall treat? Please share! I think I might be on an Autumn cooking kick.
Lately, God has been showing me that His plans are always better than mine. There have been so many choices that I've had to make and life decisions I have to figure out. I've been stressed out with everything -- work, school, ballet -- and have been living in a state of overwhelm.
I think that so often, especially for me, I focus more on the problems (and the fear) instead of leaning on God. Instead of completely relying on Him, I try to "fix" it myself. I've been learning more and more that the Lord has a perfect plan for me and my life...and I just have to be willing to take that step. He has plans for good and not ill, and I just need to trust Him. He doesn't promise that this life won't be hard, but He does promise to give peace during the storm. He promises to be there in the midst of the hardship.
It's such craziness that I can't even speak. We have such a wonderful God! Despite everything I've done, He loves me. His love isn't earthly and flawed, but eternal and perfect. He wants to have a relationship with me. I am chosen, redeemed, and loved by the creator of the universe. Feeling rather overwhelmed with the Lord's goodness right now. I fail and mess up time and time over, yet He's always good. How blessed we are to have a God who loves us despite our actions. His love makes me want to love Him more and more.
That's a good kind of overwhelm to have.
Sorry for the lack of words lately...my computer got hacked/infected with a nasty virus and it's been getting fixed since Fri/Sat. So I'm using a teeny tiny netbook and looking forward to when I can upload my photos and get my laptop back!
My sweet brother Caleb turned six yesterday. I can't believe that he has to use two hands to count his age now. Caleb is smart, funny, loving, tough, and so very brave. We celebrated his birthday with a small party at home, just with us. Homemade stew for dinner (with veggies from the garden), and gluten free chocolate cupcakes for dessert. He told us that yesterday was the best day ever, and after he blew out his candles, said, "you know what I wished for? that every day could be like this one."
He makes my heart happy.
filed under : photography
Aren't these boys the cutest? I had so much fun taking photos of them. I babysat the oldest before the littlest was born, and now the youngest is celebrating his second birthday. Oh goodness. They're such sweet kiddos and they both have the most precious smiles. I loved watching them run around and play with each other -- they both were super to photograph and gave the biggest grins for the camera.
My story is made up of my grandpa's art studio with paint jars in every color, of long walks with my family, of movie nights and heart to heart talks at home. It's albums of old photos and yearly get togethers, it's songs that are sung and trips that are taken. It's freckles on faces and Sunday's at grandma's and pages of sketches filled up with dreams. It's notebooks covered in writing, games played while laughing, flannel sweatshirts and birthday breakfasts at the pancake house. It's the days that I've cried, the years that I've grown, and the hopes that I've dared to hope.
My story is stacking rocks on the shores of cold Lake Superior and browsing the streets at Duluth. It's the smell of books musty with stories, the campfire under the dusky sky deep with stars, the cooking catastrophes and days spent reading. It's the smell of crepes in the morning as my family and I make breakfast, the slap of card games at the lake, the retreat where I sang. It's the family I love, the friends I adore, and the life that I truly believe is worth living for.
That's my story...and it's still being written.
Stories are an integral part of my photography. Not the once upon a times but the stories you hear while sitting at a worn handmade wooden table, light filling the room and streaming from the windows, cookies littering every available surface. Icing in hand, when your grandma and aunts speak of when they were little and did just this. The stories of the everyday that are lost in the bigger picture -- yet so often, we forget that the big picture is made up of the little moments. These moments are the stories that make up the fabric of who we are. And they need to be told.
I've struggled with brand before, yet more and more, I realize that brand is not a pretty website or logo, but an identity -- one that is reflective of who you are and what you love. My style and my voice is a photojournalistic approach to real life and the stories that you have to tell. So I'd like to hear...what's yours?
filed under : simple life
This post was inspired by the lovely KatieThe summer drew to a close on Monday, and despite the calendar stating that the first day of fall is in fact on the twenty-ninth, you can't fool me into thinking that Autumn doesn't begin as soon as summer ends. I'm an autumn girl, through and through, and sometimes wish I could live where it's forever fall.
With this summer being a lovely one, there are several things I want to remember. A good summer doesn't necessarily equate a busy one, and while most of it was spent in simplicity, it made it all the sweeter.
I want to remember...
Eating gluten free berry-full shortcake for dinner, sitting outside on the deck as the sun dipped between the trees and nestled in the middle of leafy branches, shining in dappled rays on the yard.
Waking up at the tent at Woodland, with the light streaming in and the sound of the lake lapping the shore with the woods awakening. The sense of peace and love that filled the week as we were together -- the joy that was found in the simplest things. And the laughter.
Late night movie nights with friends, chewing popcorn quietly so to listen to the movie. Feeling like family with the closest of friends.
Apple-picking Sundays, game-playing Saturdays, and lazy Friday's where we do nothing but enjoy the company of family. Filled with much popcorn eating and tonic + lime drinking.
The sound of crickets in the morning. I sometimes wish I could bottle up the sound and share it as easily as a photo.
Reading books till the early morning with a cup of tea and the night peeking through the windows. Not being able to put them down despite the fact that the clock slowly ticked on and on and the dusk soon turned to dawn.
Lying on the deck journaling with the sun shining down in slats of light on the pages.
And...celebrating the beauty of simple life with people I love.
What are some things you want to remember?
filed under : Family
This boy turns two on September 25th. In his short life, he's had numerous doctor/hospital visits. From swallowing a sequin last summer to being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in January, the past couple of years with him have been a full, joy-filled (and a little bit of crazy on the side) ride. I love him so much that it makes my heart hurt. I'm incredibly blessed and unspeakably glad that I get to be his big sister. XO Sammo, I love you.
filed under : Family
My grandparents (on my dad's side) have a tradition where every year on our birthday, they take us out for a birthday breakfast. And it's ineveitable that each year, we head to a lovely little place tucked in a small mall called The Original Pancake House.
Several of the waitresses there remember me from when I was little -- about three -- when I would color the sheets of animal drawings they gave and make the various noises. A cow goes moo, horse goes neigh, and pig goes oink. They also had Disney coloring sheets and I can vividly remember coloring Simba yellow and Ariel's hair a deep red.
Then, when the food would come, I'd push the pictures aside and eat my pancakes slathered in syrup and lavishly filled with sweet, hot blueberries. With a mug of hot cocoa (topped with a generous helping of whip cream), next to my orange juice, I'd ask for a sausage from my grandma and a bite of my grandpa's Dutch Baby Pancake. It was one of my birthday treats and I would stuff myself silly, knowing that it only happened once a year.
This past year, my grandparent's took both my sister Grace and I out for our breakfast at the same time on my birthday. I watched her slide into the back booth and order the blueberry pancakes along with a piping hot cup of cocoa as well. She chatted happily and dug into her pancakes as soon as they arrived, determined that she would try and eat the three massive blueberry pancakes that were placed before her.
It was a bittersweet year for two reasons. One, the mall that had the pancake house in it was set for demolition in August, so our beloved breakfast place is no longer be there (although I believe they're reopening at a new location). And two, by bringing Grace along, it made me see how quickly and fleetingly childhood lasts.
When I turned fifteen in June, I cried. It sounds silly, but it seemed so official. Like I was truly growing up. Stopping time may be no more than an often wished for fable, but that day, I wanted to bottle myself and everyone I loved in it so that things could always stay the same.
But change isn't always bad, though more often than not, it's bittersweet. I'm excited for this new stage of life and I'm determined to not let it pass by without truly cherishing and seizing the many days of this season. I love looking back to where I was a year ago and seeing who much I've grown. The changes that have come; the dreams that have become realities; the person I'm slowly discovering that is truly me.
For some thoughts prompted by a post on pancakes, my heart is feeling pretty full. Sort of like the feeling after Thanksgiving dinner when you can't eat another bite and barely have the energy to talk, but you're surrounded by family who love you and that itself is enough. It's a good kind of full.