oneLOVE: how do we love thee?

Part of the aforementioned super-extended family I was talking about in the last post is the gorgeous Shara, a BFF to my equally gorgeous Jamaica bride.  (And her and her handsome hubby's delicious baby....)

The Divine Miss Shara will be taking the plunge with her dapper fiance Drunken (who has fabulous taste in hats) in a few weeks, and so all her BFFs got together to throw a bridal shower for her.

One of the things the BFFs did was make signs saying, "I (heart) Shara because...." And me, being too busy with the dang camera (as usual) forgot to write one up. So, I'm going to dedicate this blog post to some of the wonderful things I've learned about Shara over the last year and a half:

Shara has a smile like a fireplace - bright, warm, and inviting, and you just want to be near her.  She also has that kind of perfect olive skin that makes you want her to get a nasty rash or outbreak of itchy pimples every once in a while, simply because she never does.  Good thing she's allergic to mosquitoes like me - it levels the playing field at least a little bit.  We won't talk about her curtain of shiny, healthy hair, though, because it'll just make us all bitter.

Shara really really really really really really loves popcorn.

Shara is generous with her time and her kindness for her friends and loved ones.

Shara has impeccable taste, and has trained all her girlfriends well on how to make even the smallest detail count, like these sweet little containers that had words of love for everyone to share.  You should see the amount of thought this girl has put into her wedding details - simply phenomenal!  (She does wedding planning - email me if you want up on that ;) lol)

Shara puts others before herself - while she loves to lavish affection and attention on those she loves, she isn't particularly comfortable at being the centre of attention.  Unlike some of the other (Candis) BFFs who I won't mention.

Shara's a good sport, wearing the stupid hat as well as taking her shots like a man when her fiance sent a surprise questionnaire for her - one shot for every question wrong.

(She got this one right.)

Shara is very loved.

Shara: May your and Duncan's wedding be as beautiful as you've planned it, filled with at least as much joy, love, and happiness as you bring to others.  Congratulations!!!

bellyLOVE: my *other* extended family keeps growing!

For the last 3 years, I've sort of become a stalker of this one family, and their family's friends, all their friends' families, and all their friends' friends... It all started with a family session a couple of years back, and since then there have been a few engagements, some weddings, and even babies.  And we're waiting on this one, due in a couple of weeks, from the incredibly gorgeous mama who invited me to stalk her family that first fateful time.

C & M don't know if they are having a boy or a girl, so they've picked a rich neutral palette of colours suitable for either, which is why there aren't many decorations on the walls just yet.

Does Momma not have the most amazing blue eyes ever? You are so beautiful C, and since M is kind of a looker too I imagine your babes will be just darling! Can't wait to meet the newest addition!

tubeLOVE: A Hawk & A Hacksaw + The Hun Hangár Ensemble - Serbian Cocek

My dear dear friend Laura and I were today having a discussion about how wonderful an instrument the accordion is. She shared with me this brilliant little piece of music, and I am so happy she did - there's a BONUS - as one of the comments on the youTube video says, "hammered dulcimer for the win!" Starts off slow, finishes off with a bang... Fantastic!!! THANK YOU, my little soul sister!!!

babyLOVE: fer lunch!

I met up with a lovely young man for a lunch date a few weeks back.  (His Mom & Dad chaperoned.)  Now, I know I say things like babies are edible and couldn't you just eat them... but look at Mr. G.  Look at him, and tell me he isn't as sweet as cherry pie, as cool as ice-cream, and as clever as... an artichoke?  Never mind.  We all know what I'm saying.  We laughed, we cried, we had a lovely time sitting in a suitcase, and no one got bit, not even the delicious-looking morsel featured below...

(I dare you not to consider nibbling the toes a little, or maybe taking a little nip at those cheeks...)

newLOVE: and then, he started clapping...

There are few things as charming as when a baby discovers that he can make noise by smacking their hands together.  This simple act becomes a means for them to express delight, a primal form of sign-language that allows them to participate by saying, "Yay!" when they lack the words to do so.  As an adult, I know that I am guilty of clapping my hands when I am happy - it seems to be a natural accompaniment to laughter.  So, when you are faced with an adorable mug like Mr. C's, and he is smiling and clapping, doesn't it make you want to clap your own hands and smile???

Now, multiply that by Mom's beauty, and Dad's handsomeness, and big brother L's cleverness, and you have a lethally kissable baby there.  Clap on, my friends, without reserve!!!

togetherLOVE: a family tradition

It's been a few years since I started taking family portraits for this ridiculously photogenic and genuinely funny family, and it's always a treat.  They are always laughing and smiling, and my favourite part about Mom & Dad is that they are totally OK with letting their girls just be themselves instead of trying to force them to sit still and be Stepford kids.  There's no bribing or threatening, no sighs of frustration, no embarrassed, "I'm sorry about my kids..."  The reason I love this so much is because the pictures are so playful and colourful and authentic.  I can't help but smile looking at them :)

So, the tradition here is that I show up at some indecent hour of the morning with my camera, and after about an hour and a half of mayhem we somehow manage to get about a half a million pictures of the whole family being completely normal, completely in love and lovable, and completely beautiful.  Thanks for taking me to the park, guys!!!

togetherLOVE: mash-up!

As a Mom who had kids from different dads and a beautiful bonus daughter from when I remarried, I am personally a big fan of families when they blend, and blend well :)  When I first met this exuberant Mommy, it was just her and her handsome son, so you can imagine my excitement when she asked if I could do a session with her (boyfriend) ~snicker snicker~ and their three altogether offspring.

Apparently these two high school sweethearts have rekindled their relationship I won't say how many years later; let's leave it at... I've seen their "hair" pictures and now that my therapy from that exposure is over, I am happy to say, they are a match made in heaven.

Thanks for letting me send your kids in the mud and up trees in mosquito-infested backwoods trails for a few pictures, Mama!  I'm so happy for you all :)

oneLOVE: a virgin voyage

I lost my wedding photographer virginity when shot my first wedding on the August long weekend of 2002, using a 1978 Pentax K1000 and a collector's dream 80's Topcon with autowinder.  The Pentax was loaded with B&W film and the Topcon with colour, and I took about 20 rolls of film, one of which was stolen as it was still loaded in the Topcon when my garage got broken into the night of the wedding.  Since then I've become very close friends with the entire family.  In fact, just last summer I shot the bride's little brother's beautiful wedding, and in a few more posts you'll get to meet J & J's beautiful daughter.

But right now I need to pause and talk about Mom. Viola has become a very special part of my family's life.  She's had her share of ups and downs in the past decade.  We've hung out with the family on too many occasions to count, sharing in the low times as well as the high ones, and this Saturday, Viola is about to embark on one of her greatest highs ever: she is going to skydive!!!

(I totally stole this from her FB profile and hope she won't kill me for it... no idea who gets photocred!)

Now, not one to do things in a small way - she is a perfectionist with an incredible eye for detail (if you need a wedding planner complete with her own personal talented caterer and wedding cake designer, she's your girl) and a heart about as big as the Grand Canyon - she is not just jumping for the sake of jumping.  A few years ago she did some soul-searching that led her to travel to Africa with a charity organization.  So, she is in fact jumping to raise funds for this cause very close to her heart.  Please take a minute to pledge her (please send an email to the administration so they can identify Viola D. as the recipient) and if you're bored this Sunday morning (Aug 22) join me and my family at the Eden North Drop Zone just outside of Onaway to watch the participants hurl themselves through the atmosphere and raise funds for Africa...

Be there by 9am so you don't miss it!

ramblingLOVE: the little blue ass

A good portion of June and July were spent preparing for our family's greatest adventure yet - a backpacking trip on planes, trains and other mobiles between the Maritimes and Edmonton.  7 provinces, 3 weeks, by plane, train, amphibious bus, tall ship, fishing boat, sea kayaks, minivans, and metros.  I'm paranoid (I can admit it) and didn't really like the idea of publicizing our house was sitting empty for that long, but family and close personal friends were kept updated via a travel blog which I am excited to finally share!  

To sum up, we flew to Moncton, NB, drove through the Maritimes for a week, took the Via to Montreal for a few days, drove another rental van to Ottawa, then took the train to Toronto and Niagara Falls for the last week, with a pit-stop in Winnipeg on the long train ride home.  While it was obviously not enough time to see everything, the idea was to have see and experience as much of Canada as possible, visit family and friends who live out east, and spend some much-needed time hanging out as a family unit, something that often proves difficult with kids ranging in age from 6 to 15.  We started planning the trip 3 years ago, deciding it would have to be 2010 as it would probably be the last year Wil would be young enough to not have other commitments for the summer, and the first one Serejane would be old enough to remember much of the trip.  To finally embark on it was nothing shy of a dream come true.

I didn't want to buy 900 souvenirs, and instead decided that the LBA and the subsequent album of photos would be my souvenir.  Donkey lasted only a day or two before losing his first leg, and by the end of the trip he was down to only one hoof, but he is safe and sound in the house now, with the most Hipstamatic amazing photojournal a plastic farm animal could ever hope for.

PEI: Village at Avonlea, Cavendish Beach, Brackley
Nova Scotia: Halifax, Lunenburg, Peggy's Cove
New Brunswick: Hopewell Rocks, Moncton
Quebec: Montreal Fireworks competition, Montreal Tower, Old Montreal, Biodome, Botanic Gardens, Inn Between -THEE greatest apartments to rent in Montreal, with THEE greatest host on the planet, the adorable, tri-lingual, incomparable Fernando!
Ontario (Ottawa): Capital Hill, family and the tennis courts, Mosaika light show
Ontario (Toronto): my soul sister, Zoo, Honest Ed's, Kensington and Chinatown, CN Tower, Hippo Bus, chihuahuas and great danes
Ontario (Niagara Falls): Skywheel, Wax Museum, Maid of the Mist, Minolta Tower Hotel
Train Ride Home: Winnipeg (the Forks), auto graveyard in SK, sunrise on the home stretch in AB

The pictures from my actual camera are in their own albums above, but the travel blog itself was updated once to several times a day from my iPhone and features pictures of a little blue plastic donkey that came on a frothy and delicious bellini, with longer detailed updates as time and internet connectivity permitted.  It's a lot to read, and there are about 1400 pictures to flip through NOT including the two family sessions I managed to squeak in while we were in the, so grab a coffee and some cookies and get comfy...

Without further ado, X-Can 2010 featuring the little blue ass.

oneLOVE: more fun than a carnival!

I did engagement photos for A & L it seems like an eternity ago, but their wedding fell right between this year's Relay for Life and North Country Fair, so I didn't get a chance to blog it properly, which I plan to rectify right about now.

L is one of my favourite little mens' aunty.  I've known her adorable nephews for longer than her and her fiance, and when she asked me to photograph their wedding it was an honour.  I co-shot the wedding with the lovely and talented Helena of Apple Fresh and had an extra-special third shooter who came along specifically to run the Photobooth.  It was a beautiful day, dripping with laughter and love, and is definitely one of the most fun-filled and emotional weddings I've ever shot.  Thank you A & L for having us out!

(Since we shot the formals before the ceremony but still wanted to have the fun of the groom seeing the bride for the first time, we had A stand facing away while L came out of the car and walked up the road. I think his grin when he turned around and saw his beautiful bride said it all - it was awesome :) haha!)

The Photobooth operator and I went scouting for a spot for the formals the very night before the wedding.  It was VERY last minute because we had had SO much rain everything was a swamp.  It took a while to find some high ground that wouldn't leave the wedding party soaked and muddy, and while we were out and about, we came across a carnival that we didn't know was going to be on. I suggested we go there for the B&G alone portion of the formals and L was SO excited!  They were hilarious, and managed to rack up quite a haul, including some cotton candy and a full bouquet of velour flowers to throw instead of one of the bridesmaid's.

The couple hasn't yet seen any of the images from the Photobooth... here's a sneak peek, L&A!!!

ramblingLOVE: all's Fair...

I promised to catch up the blog, which was last updated properly on June 17th, the day before summer officially began with my favourite summer solstice music festival, so now's the time to get your reading glasses...

For the past 8 years I've been involved with the North Country Fair, but I've not had much luck with the timing and have only been fortunate enough to go a few times.  This year marked two years in a row that I was able to go (yay me!) and it was of course as much fun as ever.  If you've never been, you should go - it's a great big hippy love fest with awesome music, dancing, great people, and beautiful scenery.  There were some pretty amazing performances this year, but the top three for me were Hank & Lily, whose David Hasselhoof rap was deliciously hilarious,  Maria in the Shower, whose performances were energetic and both musically and visually entertaining both day and night, and Gobble Gobble, who came on stage to rock it out wearing nothing but sneakers and tutus - they do a wicked remake of my favourite Pixies song "Where is My Mind" that you might have to force yourself to not shoulder dance to.

NCF is a versatile Fair, with something for people of all ages.  Last year we took the sproglets with us, which was a recipe for family fun:

This year, we went with grown-ups, and had a completely different kind of fun:

The only downside for me is that there are a crapload of mosquitoes - I think the bloodsucker-to-human ratio is about 239857746593 to each person.  It took about 6 weeks for my bites to heal (I'm EXTREMELY allergic) but it was worth every single one of them.

tubeLOVE: ~sputter cough blink blink blink~

Smoky yellow landscape and lunch for one is a perfect recipe for a melancholy day.

iLOVE: my adopted Dutch

Every once in a while we are lucky enough to meet people who enrich our lives in the most unexpected ways.  When our lab got news that we were going to be joined by two students from the Netherlands for a few months this summer, I really thought very little of it.  I mean, we've had several exchange students and visitors come through.  Of course I've always enjoyed their company, learning about their families and University life in their own countries.  But I was totally unprepared for these two students, or how profoundly they would affect the lives of so many around them.

I think I speak on behalf of everyone fortunate enough to meet them when I say that they are two of the most dynamic, driven, friendly people you could ever meet.  To top that off, they both happen to be brilliant students with a keen sense of humour, love of our planet, and desire to learn.  There is nothing they are afraid to try, and they have some pretty big dreams.  Their ability to share their enthusiasm, vision and passion has made it possible for those of us near them to be buoyed up.

The down side of this is, of course, that they are not here forever which means that the happy floaty feeling we've enjoyed for the past 12 or so weeks will come to an end.  In fact, they leave today for almost a month-long adventure through the Rocky Mountains, and will return to the Netherlands upon this trip's completion.  Now, while I don't view them as puppies or abandoned children, I have to admit I did kind of adopt them.  They are now and will forever be part of my family.

If anyone had told me I would be completely heartbroken over two Dutch exchange students I probably would have rolled my eyes at them.  But, here I am, on the morning of their departure, crying my eyes out like a big baby who just lost two of my best friends.  As much as I am excited for them to embark on their adventure, I feel very sad that my friend with the infectious, impish grin that lights up entire rooms and my little soul-brother who gives hugs so amazing they make the cosmic fluff under my toenails vibrate are going away.  

I'm going to miss the lunches and the laughter but the love will keep on keeping on.  As painful as farewells are, it has been my honour, it has been my pleasure, it has been my heretical swan.  Much swaffelen and varkenvlees to you both, and until we meet again, bakkie pleur voor je harses. <3  Rock on.  Get it?  Rock?  On?  (Psst - they're geologists... that's funny stuff right there, "rock" on...)

iLOVE: summer holidays!!!

I apologize to everyone who thinks I have fallen off the planet.  I promise I haven't forgotten anyone, I've just been taking oodles of time this summer as my opportunity to enjoy serious time with my family and friends.  This weekend, watch the blog for about a gazillion updates on all the beautiful weddings, babies, families, and more, PLUS I will open the link to my secret blog called "Little Blue Ass" which covers my family's adventure backpacking across Canada for 3 weeks!  I have over 6000 pictures from the trip, which I've whittled down to a mere 1424 in the first round of cuts.  ~groan~  When it's down to 500 I will put an album up for everyone to see of the amazing places, people, and things we saw in PEI, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba as well as stories and pictures about Relay for Life, North Country Fair, Mabel Babel, my adopted Dutchies, and much much more.

Stay tuned... and polish off your reading glasses.  Have I got tales to tell!!!