newLOVE: OK, so it ain't a baby, and it ain't really new but...

While looking for a spot for an upcoming photography retreat, I came across a little cabin in the woods. I showed Bill... and we loved it so much, we bought it! It isn't huge and it isn't fancy, but it's perfect for us. La Casa en el Lago de Walls:

newLOVE: the cutest little brother this side of September!

My sister's favourite little boy L is the proud big brother to gorgeous C, who arrived just a few days ago to ring in autumn like it's meant to be! C is, in a word, perfect. Perfect little ears, perfect little toes, perfect little fingers, and a perfect little bum... Congratulations R&J on making the a nice baby for me to photograph, and congratulations on being a big bro, L!

togetherLOVE: hamtastic girlies!

I've been taking pictures of this gorgeous family since Big M was 3 months old. She's 3 years old now, and her sister, Little M, is just as photogenic! These sweet ladies hammed it up (as usual) for the camera like nobody's business! C&W, thanks for spending a blustery morning with me at the park! Give those gorgeous and hamtastic girlies a big High Five from Hopey!

newLOVE: Colin is WALKING!?!?!?!

I can't believe that this little guy has found his legs already! Thanks for letting me come and hang out with you guys at the park - and for future reference, you need to have UGLY babies next time so I can pick fewer images, darnit!

togetherLOVE: me and mine

Summer 2009 will go down in history as one of the hardest summers I've ever endured. My clients and friends have been wonderful and understanding and I want to thank everyone for their infinite patience and empathy, and I do sincerely apologize for falling off the grid.

My sister and I took the kids to visit my Daddy's grave the weekend after the anniversary of his death three years ago, which was really really good. I missed my Daddy more this summer and appreciated the relationship I had with him like I never thought was possible, and I appreciate my husband more and more for the amazing relationship he has with his daughter and my sons.

I won't go into details about what prompted the summer blues (frankly, it's nobody's business) but suffice it to say, we desperately needed some punctuation. Namely, we needed a Big Fat Period to end the summer, and that is precisely what we got with our family train trip on the Alberta Prairie Railway. If you've never been, you should go. Really, you should - it's a must. (I'm still waiting for someone to have a newborn baby girl so I can use the new vintage suitcase I picked up at the chachka shop out there!!!)

The train trip did the trick, and totally ended the summer on a high note. Now that it's officially autumn, I am happy to say farewell to summer 2009 and look forward to spending Thanksgiving with my family at our new (to us) casa en el lago, and am already picking up stocking stuffers. Bring on the crunchy leaves, crisp blue skies, and sewing Halloween costumes, curtains, pants, and pillow covers! (I'm even thinking I might try my hand at sewing a quilt or two for out at the cabin... if Gramma Jane will help me...)

oneLOVE: B & C make it official...

I had the pleasure of filling in as second shooter on a wedding with Heather of Pixel Pie this Saturday for the crazy fun nuptuals of B & C. When Heather first asked me to second shoot I said jokingly, "Only if I can shoot the entire day with nothing but the lensbaby and the fisheye..." to which the bride enthusiastically replied, "Yes!!!" So, most of my day was spent hanging with the hilarious (and somewhat crazy) groom and his flock of righteously funny henchmen, and though I did use pretty much every lens I own at least once or twice, I did more or less stick to the fisheye and the lensbaby...

Heather - thanks for letting me tag along - 'twas great fun. B&C - congratulations, congratulations, congratulations!!! Without further adieu, your teasers...

myLOVE: Swayze, August 18, 1952 - September 14, 2009

(photo: Brian Baff)

Patrick Swayze said at the 2008 Stand Up To Cancer Event: "I keep dreaming of a future, a future with a long and healthy life, a life not lived in the shadow of cancer, but in the light. ... I dream that the word `cure' will no longer be followed by the words `is impossible.'"

It's always a good time to donate.

Read more about Mr. Swayze's battle with pancreatic cancer here.

oneLOVE: Melinda & Patrick

Of all the weddings I've ever shot, this was the most un/traditional ever. Melinda and Patrick kind of ooze their love for each other all over the place. Once you've stepped in it, you can't help but get totally stuck on them. Their glued-with-love conglomerate of family and friends joined together to help them celebrate their union, replete with a traditional Indian blessing and Lion Dance. Guests enjoyed their amazing dinner while *my* favourite kind of music floated through the atmosphere (think Magic 99 without the commercials) and by the time the speeches were over, the bride was serenaded with an original composition written by her new husband, and homage was paid to the groom's father who passed away last year, there wasn't a dry eye in the house until they took the floor for their first dance. (The groom's sister assured everyone it was a 'normal'family thing - they cry all the time...) So much joy, silliness, gratitude, and LOVE. Melinda and Patrick, I am honoured to know you both, and wish you a honeymoon that lasts well beyond your 3 weeks in Hawaii!!! (Becks - thanks for double booking ;) - I totally scored! Melinda and I took a special picture for you - can you find it?)

funLOVE: a challenge for my photog phriends

"You need to get in shape."
"I am in shape."
"You are not!"
"ROUND is a shape..."

The cruddy thing about shooting weddings is that the blog suffers - with family sessions through Spring and Fall there are always new things to post, but because I only shoot one wedding per month, the blog goes on hold for me May through September.

The other cruddy thing about that is I often end up feeling like I am all processing, no shooting.  Realistically I know I do not have the time or energy to take on extra clients just to amuse myself, but I do need something fun to do.  So I've come up with a small project and I'm challenging you to join me, if you are bored, want to play, need some inspiration, or just have nothing else going on.  Here goes:

Pick ONE shape and take FIVE pictures of that shape.   We've already (of course) done hearts - so in case you're in need of some shapely assistance, here is a list of other shapes you make want to look for or create: star, trapezoid, pentagon, octagon, diamond, rectangle, circle, oval.  You could try getting fancy and go 3D, too: cylinder, cube, tetrahedron, sphere, pyramid...  If you finish one set of shapes, try another!  Email me your pics to post or post your pics online somewhere and comment here with a link!  Have fun!

meLOVE: ¡hola, amigo!

My Spanish class ROCKED. Besides being taught how to speak 'p' without puffing air and making 't' an interdental sound, I learned how to say some really important things like:

No come las colas peludas de perritos. (don't eat hairy puppy tails)
¡Chico malo, dame los cocos! (Bad boy, give me the coconuts!)
Yo dudo que la mula es en la cama de mi papá con una pala. (I doubt the mule is in my father's bed with a shovel.)

Next up, learning how to make those fancy accent thingers on the keyboard so I look authentic when I tell you to the little bald duck is in my suitcase. (El patito pelado es en mi maleta.)

Me llamo Esperanza, y amo español!

myLOVE: first day of school 2009

For the past week or so I have been experiencing what can only be likened to panic attacks regarding today. I would seriously wake myself up, freaking out (emotionally) about these milestones, alternating between OH MY GOD IN THREE YEARS WIL IS GONE and OH MY GOD SEREJANE IS NEVER GOING TO BE A PRESCHOOLER AGAIN. The fact that Kaelan hit junior high, possibly the filthiest stretch of school anyone ever has to endure, was kind of like the salt on the other two wounds. (There's a reason people say something is 'so jr. high' like it's a bad thing.) Regardless, I am again thanking my lucky stars that Mads wasn't hitting some monumental school division transition too or I'd have been institutionalized for sure.

Leading up to this point, of course, has been emotional to say the least. I've been bursting into tears sporadically, something like a mixture of pride and sadness, and this morning what I had been dreading came to pass... One went off on the bus, one went off on his bike, and the other, dudded up in her new hoodie and un-scuffed Mary Janes with a backpack full of snacks and Kleenex, held my and Bill's hands as we walked her to her first day at the big girl after school care and the big girl school.

I personally start my class for the Fall Semester tomorrow night - Spanish for the Second-Language Challenged. (I swear, that's what it says in the course description AND on the textbook, just maybe in slightly different words...) I'm very excited about it but also sad - Kaelan was supposed to be taking Spanish along with me but his school cancelled it due to lack of interest. Bah. I would have thought by now that Dora and Diego had brainwashed the younger generation into demanding it, but considering how much most older children mock the irritating program I guess I ought not be surprised it wasn't met with more enthusiasm... Oh, well - in a couple of year's time he can take it in high school and by then I should hopefully know enough that I can actually help him instead of fumble along beside him.

We got all the kids packed up last night, ready for this day - one going to Kindergarten, one to junior high, and one to high school - and I prayed with all my might that their first days in their respective new schools would be fruitful and pleasant. Everybody made a new friend, nobody got beat up or had anything stolen, and everyone made it home alive with a smile on their face, eager for Day 2. By whatever measures, I guess it was a successful day.

I count my blessings that our children are all doing so well. But it still sucks sending your babies off to school - it's these indelible and undeniable markers that rub our faces in the fact that our children are growing up. They remind us to hold tight to them as long as they can before they dash off in their eye-rolling fashions to listen to eye-rolling music and hang out with their eye-rolling friends.