Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finding Beauty in the Rhythm of Routines

Checking in.
Photographing everyday routines and rituals was my goal for this week's Slice of Life Project.  Unfortunately, I found it difficult to make these parts of my life look beautiful through the lens of the camera.  As a matter of fact, I think I had the same struggle last time I took the class . . . making me realize I really need to work at capturing the aesthetic that can be found in something as ordinary as going to the grocery store.  That's not to say that I don't appreciate the everyday-ness of life; I believe there is indeed beauty to be found in the rhythm of life and it's our routines that create that rhythm.  What has struck me as I've reflected throughout the week is how much I take these routines for granted.  I find so much happiness retelling Beansprout his adventures of the day just before bedtime or catching up with Dad for Sunday evening phone calls.  I feel filled up by somewhat regular get-togethers with friends and listening to music in the car.  I'm also amazed to realize how similar many of our lives are when we think about the daily/weekly grind everyone experiences!  We all have to cook dinner, fold the laundry, do the dishes, and pay the bills no matter where we live.  Somehow I'm comforted knowing that.  And, I'm thrilled that this course is helping me take pause and remember how good life is.  (Even if I can't seem to use the camera to illustrate my appreciation :P)

What are your routines and rituals?  Any you would be lost without?  Any you wish could be banished forever?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home

During the first week in my Slice of Life Project, I focused on photographing things in my home.  I quickly realized that what matters to me in my home falls into a few categories: eating, playing, and memories.  It's amazing what you see when you take a minute to open your eyes to what you have.  Here's what I've learned so far:

Beansprout really enjoys "fixing" his Strider Balance Bike!  Sound effects and all . . . 

Train table is pretty much a daily exploration.
I LOVE that my home has been taken over by the two-year-old who lives here.  The bike that leans against the side table, the board books on the shelves of our bookcases, and the little ukelele next to Matt's guitar are all things that remind me of the joy this little being brings to our lives.  A smile always crosses my face when I realize how our lives have changed -- improved, since Beansprout came along :)  Some days I hardly think about it, and so I'm thankful that this course is making me slow down and take it all in.  Images of playing are always being photographed these days and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Great cookbooks!

Fresh local strawberries - delightful!

Delicious gift from my mother-in-law!  They make even the simplest salad seem divine.

I can't imagine what meals would be like without the grill - period.

I LOVE food.  Good food.  This is something I've known for a long time, but as I looked around my home to photograph objects that were important to me many things having to do with food kept popping up.  As I take a moment to ask myself why, I realize we have worked really hard to change the way we eat.  I spent a lot of time eating Hamburger Helper (which I still can't eat to this day!), Suddenly Salad, and other packaged foods when I was young.  My dad worked hard to make sure we had meals together, but I don't think he really knew how to cook and he surely didn't have the time to learn.  Matt and I eat mostly whole, fresh foods, try to avoid white flour and sugar, and eat little meat.  Don't get me wrong, we are not at all perfect in our diets - we (mostly) tend to eat too much of the good things we make and I (always) struggle to get the sweets out of my life, but we've come a loooong.

Matt and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary last week!  
This painting has traveled with us from house to house to house, making where ever  we live feel like home.
A box of cards I keep on the shelf in our living room.

I LOVE seeing reminders of the life we continue to build together.  I enjoy trying new things and taking on the future to see what it has to offer, but I also need to feel rooted.  Cards and photos from friends, family photos around the house, books we've read (or hope to), and objects from travels all help remind me where I've been and who I am.  

These are the insights I've gained so far!  Can't wait to see what the class has in store for me this coming week!  Stay tuned . . . 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Holidays and expectations

This is what happens when you miss the boat you hoped to be on!  Asleep before we left the dock.
Recently took a working holiday to the Sunshine Coast!  (Matt was working, Beansprout and I were on holidays!)  As soon as we boarded the ferry to cross over, a felt a little bit lighter and quite a bit excited to introduce Beansprout to the BEACH!  It seemed the perfect type of vacation with a 2plus-year-old: get up and play in the sand all morning, take an afternoon nap, and walk the pier with ice cream in hand in the evening :)  This is where I have to insert a great big HALT and give some background information.  I usually work pretty hard at keeping my expectations in check with my little guy.  I don't push him to do things he is uncomfortable with and I try to remember that he has his own pace for doing things.  Little did I know crossing on that ferry that I was really going to be tested on this all week!  As I look back now, all of this "perfect vacation" talk is about me having certain expectations of what things would be like, and most specifically what Beansprout would like.  Oops.  He had other plans :)
Gotta love the beach shoes and long shorts!

After breakfast the first morning, we trekked to the beach with our blanket, beach umbrella, towels, sand toys, lunch, sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, and water bottles, and got ourselves set up in the perfect spot.  I lathered Beansprout up and . . . after about 5 minutes of playing in the sand he said, "All Done!"  "Home."  Can you hear the sigh!?!  Try as I might to get him to enjoy the beach, it was ultimately a big FAIL.  I had to take him back to the beach house we called home and re-evaluate my own expectations! 
Gelato, need I say more?!?
Evening walk at Trail Bay.
Sechelt Wharf

The good news is, our beach holiday still had plenty of fun to offer me and my little guy!  We enjoyed exploring new playgrounds, walking the rocky beaches, watching seaplanes take off, eating that ice cream on the pier, and best of all, we learned that he LOVES trail walks :)  

I learned that my own childhood memories won't always mirror those of Beansprout, and that I'm perfectly happy with the alternatives.  

ZONKED!  Vacationing can be hard work, ya know!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Family Photos and "Slices of Life"

Beansprout and his gumboots, Slice of Life Project Winter 2011
Family photos in the house I grew up in consisted mainly of point and shoot shots with little attention to composition or detail.  I recently found a picture of me and my dad at my first birthday party and I have to laugh at the fact that the wall behind us at the kitchen table is completely blank except for a cord hanging down plugged into the wall outlet.  The only other photos you'll find are  traditional school pics and photo studio pictures that must qualify for! So it's no surprise that once my child was born, I followed suit and signed us up for a Christmas photo session with a studio photographer. These pictures are adorable.  The photographer, who is now a mommy friend, did a wonderful job capturing the sweet side of my shy guy and our favorite one is still displayed in the living room!  However, though I love these photos, I kept feeling like it wasn't exactly what I wanted out of a family photo session.  Especially with Beansprout being so shy, I wished for something a little more everyday . . . but polished.  Enter Darrah Parker!  Just a short time after this photo session, I was introduced to Darrah through a link a friend posted on Facebook.  Mind you, I've never met her in person, but as I began looking through her blog, I was instantly enamored by her style of photography and captivated by her open and insightful posts about life, love, change, and following your passion.  You can imagine my excitement when Darrah announced that she would be offering an e-course called The Slice of Life Project!  Not only had I found someone who perfectly coined a term for what I love in photography, but she was willing to give away her secrets!!!  I think I must have been the first person to enroll :)  This course was far more than I ever expected it would be - I loved it.  I started with a 3.5 megapixel CyberShot point-and-shoot camera and still giggle at some of the first photos I shared with the group, but I learned a ton from Darrah and the other participants.  I have since continued to try and improve my skills by gaining inspiration from a slew of blogs I've added to my GoogleReader and I've started this blog to share with family and friends afar and to try and give back, if just a little, to the community of bloggers out there.  I'm still learning.  Things are pretty basic around here, but I'm thrilled that I'm able to document this beautiful adventure of parenthood and teaching and life in an authentic way.

Monday I start my second session of The Slice of Life Project.  I'm eager to learn even more the second time  around and look forward to sharing and working with a group of people from all over the world with many different backgrounds and interests.  Look for some posts with my latest pics and leave a comment to let me know what you think :)  Better yet, join me!