Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Smallest Things

"Sometimes the smallest things 
take up the most room in your heart." 
~Winnie the Pooh

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Blanket of Birds

There is an Alfred Hitchcock movie called The Birds, that I felt as though I had stepped into today. As the weather shifted from a morning freeze to a sunny yet chilly afternoon, I looked out my bedroom window to what appeared to be thousands of robins on the trees and in the yard. I slowly tiptoed outside with my camera in hand trying to get a photo of the blanket of birds, when one of the boys banged on the window to get my attention and thousands (okay probably a few hundred) of robins engulfed me for higher ground. If I was not so afraid of being eaten by a swarm of red-breasted beasts, I might have had a great shot. 

I was so surprised by the large number of robins that I had to look up the meaning of robin in Ted Andrews's Animal Speak book. According to Andrews, the robin signifies the spread of new growth. He says that migration of robins occur due to lack of food and not to avoid cold weather as many believe. If the food supplies are beneficial, the robin will make its home year-round despite the weather. I guess my lawn is like the local Cook Out restaurant because they were all feasting like chow hounds.

I of course texted my neighbor, good friend and fellow animal mystic to tell her about the robins. She had a very profound point that maybe the robins are here to remind us that despite it being wintery and cold, new growth and the life force of mother nature still thrives. I thought this was a powerful interpretation. Andrews says when robin appears it is to help you in the process of creating new growth in your life. 

These little guys have given me some things to think about today; and after I shook off my fear of being attacked by the swarm of these red-breasted creatures, I did get a few cute shots.

Love & Light,

I was really far away so it is kind of a grainy, blurry shot. Plus, I don't think he appreciated me photographing him bathing!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snowmen and Sprinkles

When it is 21 degrees outside, we stay in our pjs and make indoor snowmen.

Here is our recipe:

(1) Search your Pinterest Boards for all those cute things you pinned but have never done. We chose this craft.

(2) Find willing participants.

(3) Dig through cupboard to find ingredients.

(4) Get ready to make a huge mess.

(5) Let go of expectations that your creation will look anything like the Pinterest photograph.

(7) When in doubt, add sprinkles; the more the better.

(8) Enjoy the moment.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cannonballing Out of My Comfort Zone

I recently went well beyond merely stepping out of my comfort zone, I cannonballed into a pool of new adventures. I finally photographed my first boudoir session last week. In preparation I researched boudoir photographs for weeks and have studied more photos of naked women than I have ever been privy to. And FYI, Pinterest is an amazing resource for boudoir photos; you can even create a "secret" board so that people who are following your pins will not think it's odd that you have just pinned 25 photographs of a woman's cleavage to your board. I do have to add that this was the first time Brian took an interest in Pinterest. He was always close when I was on my computer willing to give his "professional opinion" on what constitutes a beautiful boudoir photograph. 

After excessive research due to my somewhat anal (maybe not the right word), perfectionist/obsessive personality I wanted to make sure I fully grasped the skill set needed to doing a shoot of this nature. In my studies, I ran across a world renowned boudoir photographer, Christa Meola. She recently published a book that I had to purchase entitled, "The Art of Boudoir Photography." Even the Barnes and Noble cashier gave me a wink when he passed the book and the receipt back to me and said, "Have fun".  Meola's profound insight about women and boudoir photography had me intrigued and excited to explore this whole new world of art. She writes, "Most women seeking boudoir photography aren't 20-somethings looking to enhance their image. They're women who want to reclaim their femininity. They want to recapture sexiness consumed by motherhood, celebrate their triumph over breast cancer, honor their recent hard work losing weight or becoming more fit, or any of a multitude of other significiant events." 

I began looking at photographs of women's bodies in a different way. It was transformative for me to being to see the art, the lines, the colors, the form and various perspectives. What I may have once viewed as borderline porn, I now see as a celebration, a freedom, an embrace of the physical body. Perhaps because I (not unlike so many women) have a tumultuous relationship with my body. The years of negative dialogue we use to describe our "muffin tops" or "saggy boobs", we rarely celebrate the belly that grew 10 times its normal size to carry our babies or our strong legs that have carried us great distances. 

So after this beautiful Mama of two girls bravely bared some skin for me to photograph as a surprise to her hubby for their wedding anniversary, I was hooked. The beauty of the photo goes beyond the actual image but for those who appreciate the art, it is as if you can hear the essence of the soul speaking in physical form. Or as Brian would attest, it's just hot. And that is a nice added bonus.

Love & Light,

I know this post should include a few boudoir photos, but I promise to post a few soon! Meanwhile here are some recent nature shots.

Walking through my in-law's backyard in NY this past December.

The sunrise rainbow in front of our house last week. It was a full rainbow, gorgeous.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Run, Therefore I Am (not a runner)

My love/hate relationship with exercise is not uncommon to most women. I hate to do it, but I love how I feel afterward. And for me personally, running is the best bang for my buck. It is the only exercise where I feel I exude the most effort in the shortest period of time. It also provides mental clarity and forces me out into fresh open air. However, throughout my long (break-up and get back together again) relationship with running I have come to realize a few things.

There are runners and there are people who run. It is kind of like there are people who sing and there are singers. These are two totally different skill sets. I can sing (very off key and pitchy) but I am not a singer; and the same goes for running. I can run (I have done two half marathons) but I would never say I was a runner. Runners are a certain breed; running is as natural to them as say, breathing. They have a friendship with running, they speak its language. True runners rarely speak negatively of their sport, instead they honor it, displaying 26.2 bumper stickers on their cars and gather in large groups in the wee hours of the morning in 20 degree weather to run. The real runners will be able to spot me a mile away. I am the one with ipod blasting so loud I cannot hear myself gasping for air and my lips mouthing curse words as I try and tackle the last hill to get to my street. They smile and wave in their reflective Nike running apparel and $200 running shoes as they float effortlessly down the road. I am still in the sweat pants that I slept in and the tread is completely gone from the bottom of my 3 year old sneakers, but they are comfortable. 

I am envious of these people and this strange cult like phenomenon. I have a friend who has run every day for over 30 years and she will never call herself a runner, because she hates running. She says it keeps her weight steady and her mind somewhat free of clutter, but she curses each day she ties up her laces. I am also sailing on that boat. Running to me is yet another chore on the endless laundry list of to-dos and usually it is the last thing on the list and the first thing I decide to push until tomorrow. However, not unlike the dishes, if you don't do them, they pile up. If I don't run, my butt and my mind get heavy. Maybe I need to change my relationship with running; maybe it needs to come off of my chore list and onto my gratitude list. Instead of feeling resentment that I have to do it, feeling grateful that I am able to run and that it keeps me healthy. I still do not envision myself ever crossing the finish line to be entrusted with the title of "a runner". And you know what? This is totally okay with me. I run for me, not for the glory of being labeled a runner. 

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." ~John Bingham from No Need for Speed: A Beginners Guide to the Joy of Running (I may have to check that book out of the library!)

Love & Light,

Here are some photos from the weekend.

The boys had a few friends over this weekend.

Almost 70 degrees in January calls for popsicles and bare feet. 

And these three boys (above), were once these three boys (below).

And these two sweet babies (below),

Are now these two best friends.

Friday, January 11, 2013

95 on 95

A common frustration once you become a parent is the diminished amount of alone time as defined as those solo moments you once took for granted as a naive twenty-something that are now a distant memory.  A regular "disagreement" that Brian and I have is about what constitutes alone time. As a stay at home mom, alone time is scheduled and often includes (but is not limited to) grocery shopping, laundry, or dentist appointments. Brian's rebuttal when I complain of not enough alone time is that he too does not get alone time. I respond, "But you go to work, you sit in an office that is completely your own, you drive by yourself, in a car!" He says this does not count, he is working. "It counts!" I respond. 

In those infrequent moments when I am alone in my car, I feel like a different person. A rebel who wants to drive fast, roll down all the windows and let my hair swirl wildly around my face. I blast the radio to loud music with inappropriate lyrics and crank a base that rivals the most obnoxious teenaged boy driving his Daddy's Cadillac with spinning rims.

Now for clarity and to avoid e-mails of concern from my family about potential reckless driving, I don't really go 95 mph on I 95. However, I do have a few girlfriends who escaped for a few hours and were pulled over for speeding on random side roads (those friends will remain nameless, Whit...). If those officers were not single, 22-year-old men who get to sleep in on their days off, they would have fully understood the reason mothers of young children need to speed when they are alone. We need to drive faster than our minds can think, and that is often much faster than 35 mph. There should be some type of "Exemption: Mother of Young Children" card we pull from our wallet to get out of those tickets, because crying does not always work.

All this being said, I feel like I do need to state that I am not saying I don't enjoy staying at home with the boys, because this is not the message that I am trying to send, (although this is the message that husbands often hear). I just sometimes need to be alone, far away from any other living, breathing soul; and sometimes I feel a need to drive fast, and drown my to-do list in Rap music and crazy cold wind that makes me giddy. Then I come home and I feel grounded, I am a better mom, a better wife; just from a little time alone. 

Love & Light,

It was 64 degrees on Tuesday. We picked up a few boys and headed to run free.

This was the best group shot I could get.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What's the Word?

     I am reading the book Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. It is one of those great motivational books that inspires me to be a better mother, wife, friend and all around person. She breaks each chapter down into months to make it easier to digest what steps one needs to take to bring more happiness into your home. As we begin the month of January and a start of a new year, Rubin writes about choosing a single word or phrase as an overarching theme for an entire year.     

I had been giving much thought to what my word for 2013 would be. The word finally shouted at me, cartwheeling out of my mouth, while talking to Brian the other night about how neither one of us has been sleeping well. We decided to purchase a new bed with all new bedding, replacing what we have had since we moved into our house 12 years ago. I told him that I was ready for good quality sleep; which led me to wanting to purchase a comfortable quality bed. After saying the word "quality" about ten times in two run-on sentences, I realized that "quality" was my word for 2013.

Quality is defined as  the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something: (Oxford Dictionary). I am not only referencing purchasing higher quality bedding, or eating a healthier quality diet but living a higher quality life. I am not sure exactly what this will mean or how it will play out but I am envisioning the decisions I make or the time I spend with my family and friends to have a little more thought or substance and a little less impulsivity for the sake of convenience. Or it might mean, the quality of my play time with the boys means I actually play matchbox cars without simultaneously sorting their toys into their correct bins. It is being present really, without feeling the need to be anywhere else, even for a short period of time. 

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives." ~William Foster

What is your word for 2013?

Love & Light,

 My new bed. I LOVE the owl pillows I found!

My quality time alone today at Lewis Ginter.

This origami artwork was amazing!

And the orchids, beautiful as always.

And below, a good quality read. I cannot put this book down.