newLOVE: way way way better than cheap movie night...

You know, some people think it's weird to have photographs or video taken while babies are being born.  For me, deliveries are like crack, BETTER than crack... I love being around when babies are born!

J & I were gracious enough to ask me to be in attendance for Ethan's arrival, and I *should* be trying to get some sleep... but I'm on too much of a high.  Thank you for letting me partake, Mom and Dad.   Welcome beautiful Ethan, 2:40 a.m. Wednesday April 29, 2009, 6lbs 0oz, 19" long.

Congratulations to both of you, and to big sister S & big brother J...

Now.  Off to try and get some shut-eye.  

festiveLOVE: the garden tea party weekend

Anita's beautiful flowers were the perfect embellishment for Serejane's rainbow-sprinkle cupcakes with strawberry-chocolate frosting.

The impatient birthday girl grumpily waiting for the party to get started.

The tea table.

There was time for a little ring-around-the-rosy while we waited for all the guests to arrive.

Once everyone arrived, we practiced asking for, "Two lumps please!" and drinking tea the proper way, with pinky lifted in the air *just like so* but since Serejane couldn't master lifting the pinky on the hand she was drinking with she opted for lifting the other pinky...

After tea, we played STOMP (you attach balloons to everyone's ankles and pop each others' balloons) and musical chairs.

After games it was time to learn some horticlture: planting geraniums..

Everyone put on their gardening gloves, then re-potted their seedling, got a top-up on soil from the 'dirt lady' (Serejane's Gramma) and watered their plants with their new froggy or elephant watering cans.

It was almost too much to watch them waiting in line for the dirt lady. SO sweet... ~sigh~ I was in heaven!

With everyone's plants and teacups safely stashed in their loot bags, it was time for cake and presents.

The reaction when she opened the Leapster was brilliant lol

After opening presents the only way to convince Serejane to not play with her new toys was to ship the kids to the park next door until parents came.

We weren't in the door 3 minutes before Serejane was on the couch playing Dora on the Leapster. She only took a few short breaks to do sidewalk chalk drawings and eat some rice for supper...

Thank you to everyone who came! 'Twas all-in-all a wonderful Saturday, followed on Sunday with a trip to the Telus World of Science to FINALLY check out the Lego exhibit, which ranged from tacky to brilliant to just plain lame. Visit the online album for comments...

debriefing the "I am" exercises

You know, I get sidetracked and busy and read everyone's blog and then forget about posting on my own...  better late than never, of course...

The point of the "I am" exercise was quite simple - to start looking inside for whatever it is that drives you to pick up your camera and take pictures.  Knowing HOW to work your camera is the first step.  After that it comes down to you and the relationship you have with whatever is on the other side of your lens.  

There will come times in your photography travels where you feel lackadaisical, uninspired, confused, frustrated, and even depressed.  In my experience and that of many others I've talked o, it is very easy to allow yourself to be completely consumed by photography, so consumed, in fact, you can't remember why you bother.  The first time this happens it's very easy to feel disillusioned.  The crappy part is, it is just as disillusioning every time you come up against that wall.

Art is an eternal journey, a never-ending process of discovery and exploration.  Look at the history of any creative art form and you will see it isn't static - it changes, grows, expands, contracts... evolves...  from music to sculpture and painting to photography, dance, weaving, fashion - these things are all heavily affected by trends and technology, but are most profoundly impacted by the person making the art.  It's as impossible to not feel how deeply misunderstood and confused Vincent van Gogh was as it is to miss the sense of daring and power with which Gaultier approached designing Madonna's infamous Blonde Ambition tour costumes.

Whenever you hit that wall (and I promise, you will hit it) a good place to go is back to the "I am" exercise.  Every time you do it, the answers should change.  If they haven't, you are in a rut.  If they have changed so much you don't recognize yourself anymore then you know you need to find your path again.  And if you just plain don't like your answers, then you know you are on the wrong track and need to shift gears.

So what about the music?  Well, songs are powerful reminders.  I am sure you can all remember the song you danced a special dance to and know exactly which of your favourite Christmas Carols gets you in the mood every time.  My best friend Tannis and I always pick a song for the season.  Over the years we have always identified songs for our lives, and when we acknowledge the place these songs have in our lives, where we're at emotionally, physicaly, spiritually, romantically, financially - we have an ongoing soundtrack to remind of of where we were at at that point in our lives.  We've exchanged these soundtracks on several occasions over the years, on cassette tapes right through to CDs and MP3s.  If you feel like you've lost your way, throw on the piece of music that you felt connected to and just see what happens.  There's no right or wrong way to feel about the music - you may be moved to tears, to dancing, or to boredom - and those are all completely valid reactions.  Understanding your reactions is the key to breaking through the walls.

Your work can and will and SHOULD change over time.  This doesn't mean it will be better or worse - just different.  My images all have a very important element in them: me.  And there have been times in my life when I've noticed a marked difference in my pictures - growth, experimentation, regression -  because of what was going on in my personal life.  When my daughter was born, when my father died, and when I came back from RD all mark important transitions in my life, and if my pictures looked exactly the same now as they did then, I would say I was in a rut.

And, a quick word of caution about stalking blogs.  It's great to look at other photog blogs, but you need to remember that no matter how much you admire their style, you probably cannot replicate their work.  Nor is that something you should aspire to - even if you are able to pull off perfect Geddes-esque baby portraits, how fulfilling is it?  Aspire to be YOU and you will never go wrong.  

This may all sound a bit hippy-touchy-feely, but sock it away for a rainy day.  When you get derailed or stuck, remember who you are, and balance will be restored.

myLOVE: celebrating 5 years

Grab a hanky - today is Serejane's birthday. She is 5. Of course, the Garden Tea Party isn't until this weekend and I don't have any of the oldies but goodies handy, but I promise I'll put together a little montage in the next few days lol.

I can't celebrate any of the kids' accomplishment without a part of my heart crushing a little bit, that weird bittersweet mixture of pride and pain that is watching your babies grow up. On Tuesday night Serejane rode on two wheels for the first time; I remember like it was yesterday her standing in our kitchen, red Robeez on her feet, big grin on her face, teetering as she stood on two legs for the first time at the ripe old age of 9 months - just days later she was walking. I have no delusions about why I felt compelled to get a dog.

I think, on some very deep level, I needed my little girl to smooth out the rough edges I had after my divorce - someone to sew frilly pink things for and stop being so bloody hard. Our children needed her - she is the biological glue that puts the garnish on our crazy blended family. And my Daddy needed her, too - he needed a chance to hold a baby girl of his own flesh and blood without being a drunk. He said so, a few weeks before he died.

Despite the fact they know they are the centre of the Universe, I doubt any 5-year old on the planet can really fathom the profound impact their short time on earth has had on the people around them. I'm looking forward to an evening spent eating mushroom soup and grilled cheesers (the birthday girl's supper request) then maybe going to the library for some special bedtime birthday books. Then hugging and kissing and tucking in all my babies before they aren't there to hug and kiss and tuck in.

Happy birthday, my littlest cupcake. You are very loved.



Exercise for week of April 20, 2009

I've been trying to visit everyone's blogs - I'm really enjoying what I'm seeing, even if I don't have a chance to comment!

So, this week's exercise involves harassing your family and friends again. Your first task is to find 3 different photographers whose work you enjoy. (Make sure you post a link back to their site!) Pick one image by each photographer and create an image INSPIRED by that image. That means you take their idea and put your own spin on it. There is no minimum or maximum number of subjects, no good or bad style to select, and no right or wrong photographer to pick. You may want to do a pin-up inspired by Cathy Empey, a baby picture inspired by Anne Geddes, and a headshot inspired by Lisette Model... really, the sky is the limit!

Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!

tubeLOVE: poor Queenie!

You know, every now and again, you get a link and you're never sure what it's *supposed* to be, but it's certainly nothing like what you ever *could* have expected. This would be one of *those* links.

bellyLOVE: psychotic faerie and giant do it again!!!

When R&R came to me for pics of Baby Belly #1 in October of 2007, it was one of the most riotously funny sessions ever, earning Mom the monicker of the psychotic faerie after donning a pair of my kids' faerie wings.  Her hubby is, well - tall... hence the giant part.   Fortunately, they make really cute babies, and although yes, this was supposed to be all about the belly (and a family picture) of course it turned into all about Baby #1.  Look at her, though - could YOU resist?

Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks, guys!!!  My bet's on BOY now...

nowLOVE: this is just the beginning...

Say hello to Stacey.  I met Stacey last year during a big family shoot.  Now, don't let these pictures fool you - she's a perfectly respectable girl...  and completely lovable, which is why 30-some odd friends and family came out to help her celebrate her last big night on the town as Miss.  The only rule?  You MUST wear a dress to celebrate.

You see, Stacey and Kyle will say their vows in Mexico in just over 3 weeks, and she'll be Mrs.  I'm really excited to do their engagement photos tomorrow, and even more excited to be hopping a ride in their luggage with my camera.  

Stacey & Co., I'm an idiot for missing the shower but it was truly a blast getting to know you all at the stagette.  I'm pumped about spending a week with you incredible, funny, and talented ladies.  (Come on, Kira is totally talented - everyone else I know including me would have done a faceplant...)

(Was 4 "you'll do" or "I'd rather be single"?)

Pizza time!!!

babyLOVE: a special celebration

I don't even have words.  I just sit and sniffle.  Ms. W celebrated 3 years, and Mr. C, whose homebirth pictures you may recall from last year, has hit the big oh-one.  I'm just... speechless...

Exercise for week of April 13, 2009

Alright!  I've been enjoying last week's 'family' portraits immensely - always a great exercise, and a hoot to boot!  This week's exercise, you FINALLY get to shoot REAL PEOPLE.  Are y'all excited?  Me too!

So this week's exercise is to do some storytelling.  I don't care what you tell a story about, but it should have 3 definite elements: before, during, and after.  I'm hoping for at least 5 to 10 pictures, and invite you to get as creative as you like - baking cookies, mudfight, painting a room, changing a diaper, a make-over - whatever you like, as long as the pictures tell a story without needing a single word to explain what's going on.  Have fun - I look forward to seeing your blogs!

tubeLOVE: yay!

I was given a mixed CD a couple of years ago, with a few unlabelled songs from an unknown artist with a very distinctive voice. FINALLY, I have a name for her! Lhasa de Sela is of Spanish/American descent, and spent many years in Montreal, which explains the elusive quality of her accent when trying to place songs like this one, sung in French with very Spanish sounding instrumentation. I'm SO pumped to be able to share her music. I (heart) her! My other fave is La Frontera, if you feel so inclined to explore her music more...

newLOVE: another roll over for Hope!

Say hello to Miss L.  You may recognize her from her newborn session - she was my first egg basket victim a few weeks back.  Like a sweet cinnamon bun, she's at least doubled in size.

Look at those big blue eyes!  And the red hair - I about peed my pants with glee to have another redheaded baby to photograph!  (I think Kaelan dug out a pretty deep soft spot for redheads in my heart!)

Miss L. Doesn't prefer belly time.  Not at all.  Now, I don't mean to brag, but I do have a knack for causing first-time rollovers at three-month sessions...

Ta da!!!

Miss L. was a little confused but overall, pleased as punch.  Mom, on the other hand, was a little bit in shock.  "Uh, yeah - she just rolled over.  My baby is growing up too fast already."  She even posted about it on Facebook and almost landed me a gig in Toronto for a little boy who is apparently slacking off in the rollover department.  ~smirk~

Of course we can't forget Big Brother C., who has a love-hate relationship with me.  He loves when he isn't being bugged by me, and hates when he is being bugged by me.  He prefers playing with his trains.

In fact, he likes trains better than me OR his baby sister.

However, the lure of taking his own picture still holds some appeal...

When he got bored with me, I tried putting the bunny ears on Miss L.  She hates them.

Too bad this time C. wasn't decorating himself with cookie icing.  Maybe next time I see them I can convince hi to decorate his sister!   As always, it was a lovely morning with two very sweet and edible children.  Thanks for letting me come over and shoot your babies, Mom and Dad!

myLOVE: a Thursday rant

A couple of days ago an amber alert was issued for a 5-month old boy abducted (accidentally) when a 14-year old saw the opportunity to steal an unlocked running vehicle. Read more about it here. Had the vehicle been left (unlocked and running or not) while Mom was buying groceries or getting her hair done it would be one thing, but Mom was across the street picking her daughter up from the school. I don't know if the truck was in sight - I know I've had to park a block away - but even if it wasn't, all I know is that it is a sad day and age we live in when we have to develop so much paranoia as parents.

I always thought I was just being skittish for making sure the car is off and locked when I leave our 14-yo in the car with the little ones so I can zip into the Safeway for a jug of milk (which only happens when the 14-yo is present otherwise I drag them ALL in with me lol.) Apparently, that kind of paranoia is a necessity. So sad. I don't know if I should feel sad for the parents of the 14-yo boy, too - are they the type of parents who will hang their heads in shame and confusion wondering what the hell was going through their son's head, or the kind who will say next time don't get caught, and bring us some beer?

tubeLOVE: day one

My friend Jordan shared this with me today. It sums up how I'm feeling pretty well - the recording isn't the greatest (tinnier than usual) so I thought I'd include the lyrics and encourage you to buy some CD so you can listen to more Sarah Slean (she's a Canuck, eh?) here.

I put my head back
Where it belongs, up there in the clouds
I’m spreading love like a terrorist now

O what a morning
O what a day to be alive
Sweet hope is glowing
In your glorious eyes

Pushing paper ain’t enough
I bet you think that you’re so tough
But all your green won’t mean a thing at all

On day one
Day one

After Boy Wonder
After the dream came out of the mines
Bus boys and bankers
Were wiping their eyes

Be still my lion heart!
A revolution ready to pounce
All passioneers
Up and out of the house!

Beauty faked a heart attack
But now I feel it coming back
And all your green won’t mean a thing at all

On day one
Day one
Day ONE . . .

NOT a can of worms: a clarification on the BF issue

I always feel like I want to explain this to prevent people from feeling personally attacked: The way a debate works is, whatever your position is, you stick to, stand by it, and fight it until the bitter end, whether you believe 100% in what you are saying or not. The point of 'winning' a debate is to make the best arguments, not to be 'right' or 'wrong' at the end. Beyond that, the point of debate in my mind is to GET PEOPLE THINKING. I don't care WHAT side of an issue you fall on, as long as you know enough to pick a side, to understand why you stand on that side, and to be able to explain why you are on that side. The BF debate was put up in a context which would take the issue of BF a step beyond, should it be allowed in public, to WHERE should it be allowed in public. If I had put up, "Should women be allowed to BF in public," knowing my circle and my 'regular' readers at least a little bit, it wouldn't have been much of a debate.

Frankly, there are limits to where it would be safe/necessary to nurse your baby - walking across an icy surface, riding a unicycle, driving... and what seems like common sense to some of is obviously not common sense to others. As far as swimming pools go, I think if a person really wants to stand in the water and nurse, knock yourself out. You wanna sit? Have fun. You wanna tell me that it's a violation of your human rights to be asked to get out of the pool while nursing? Depends. If it had been presented respectfully that the pool had a safety policy in place that included asking nursing mothers to not be fully or partially submerged to enforce "no eating in the pool" then no - I could see the pool's right to enforce their general safety and food policy.

Before everyone gets up in arms about that, let's try and remember that for every person like Gemma who taking a stand for her BF agenda, there is a person who (innocently or ignorantly - could be either) will come back with, then why can't my kid sit and eat in the pool if that baby can, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was someone who came along and said she should be able to do deep-water aerobics while baby-wearing because the child was BF.

However, if you are being asked to get out for the reasons Gemma was - because she might poop in the pool next, because she was making other people uncomfortable with her breast milk leaking in the water, because people didn't think it was appropriate to see an exposed breast, because people thought it looked 'bestial' or animalistic... then we're dealing with a completely different ball of wax, and if the only way to get your point across is to go to 'extremes' then so be it - I applaud Gemma' s win for BFing.

The unfortunate thing about adamant minorities going to extremes in any direction is that they can and do come across as zealots, whether they want to or not. Besides extremists or zealots, those in opposition label them as radicals, shit-disturbers, whiners, militants... and so on. People are afraid to speak up because they don't want these strong and derogatory titles affixed to them no matter how strongly they believe in something. But the radicals, shit-disturbers, whiners, and militants make the world change, for better or for worse. All it takes is for an idea to catch on and it can spread like wildfire, but not if no one's willing to talk about it, openly, passionately, and with enough disregard for social ettiquette to get the point across; whether I agree with the message or not, I'm prepared to listen, to learn, to broaden, to deepen my understanding. I'm grateful I live in a country where I'm allowed to openly debate, to disagree, to stage peaceful protests, and to make choices about policies and leaders without being beaten or sent to jail or fired from my job or martyred.

I don't believe ignorance is bliss. It's the radicals, shit-disturbers, whiners, and militants of today that will become the revolutionaries of tomorrow. Pay close attention or you won't know if you're ignoring Rosa Parks or Hitler.

can of worms: what makes advocates become known as zealots

Some of you may have heard about the nurse-ins that breastfeeding ("BF") mothers have staged to increase awareness and acceptance of the natural, biological function of a woman's mammary glands. Let it be said up front and loud and clear that I am TOTALLY 100% an advocate of BF - in public, with or without a cover-up, pretty much wherever you wanna feed your baby. I nursed my kids, where and when I needed to, with or without a cover-up, and say huzzah for others who do the same. However, at SOME point, there must be some common sense that kicks in, and this is usually the point where a small group of over-zealous advocates goes too far and in fact turn people OFF from their cause.

Read this story. I was all over Gemma's cause until I found out she was fighting to nurse IN the pool. By the end the lifeguards were harrassing her everywhere, but it started off with her being asked to not nurse, IN the pool. OK - whip out a booby and feed wherever - we'll see less skin that way than half the sleezekinis (and any and all banana hammocks) walking around. And aside of the folks who want to admire boobs in a sexual way without feeling guilty or icky when there are babies stuck to them, I don't know who really is offended by that much 'flesh' so whatever. But IN THE POOL? Aside of maybe hygiene (for the baby who might swallow that chemical-laden water, not the people in the pool - there's so much pee, snot, and spit in pool water a little breastmilk ain't gonna hurt the general public) it's the utter unsafe-ness that boggles the mind - can you imagine a nursing baby getting accidentally splashed and inhaling water, or Mom losing her footing, or the slippery baby getting submerged? Yes, I've breastfed, and yes, I've tried to handle slippery kids in the pool, and yes, I've gotten countles facefulls of water AND lost my footing on the floor of even the kiddie pool, and nope, I don't see the need - it just adds up to all kinds of stupid, especially when you're using the defense you have the right to nurse wherever you want, and on demand because your baby is hungry? Get real. ~insert eye rolling here~ I guess now we wait and see who the first in-the-pool BFing mother will be to sue when they end up with a baby who drowns.

So although I never really considered where I drew the line, I've decided just now that while breastfeeding AT the pool is something I feel is a good cause, breastfeeding while IN the pool is not something I support. For the record, I'm adding walking on slippery surfaces like ice and pool decks, skydiving, slaughtering livestock, operating a motor vehicle, and mowing the lawn to the list of 'bad ideas when nursing your child.' I'm afraid I'm with the lifeguards who boot her and her submergable booby buddies out of the water. Gemma my love (et al.) - PLEASE keep advocating for BF in public - I'm in FULL support of you - but use your common sense and be safe: sit on the deck and stop trying to make it look like you're being discriminated against. No one else is allowed to eat in the pool.