Monday, October 16, 2017

Miami University - For Love and Honor

When I look back and think about different times in my life that were a turning point for me, outside of marriage and becoming a parent, my last years of college were the biggest shift.  Something about being on campus at Miami University in Ohio changed me.  It made me work harder than I ever had and step out of who I was, to become a newer version of myself I didn't even know was there.  I've never known if it was Miami and the friendships I made during that time, or just me getting to a point in my life that I was ready for change.  Either way, being back fills me in a way that other things simply don't - and it's very difficult to explain that to those who didn't live there (my fellow Miamians are all shaking their heads in agreement right now).

So, when I turned 40 this year, and my best friend wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday, we determined that a trip back to Miami together was the very best gift she could give me.  My love language is quality time - so it wasn't just about being back at the place our friendship began together, but also simply about uninterrupted time with my best friend while on the road.

While the landscape of Miami is amazing, and shooting it was definitely on the list, the bigger goal was to both experience and photograph the places that made my memories come alive.  Annie and I came to understand during our visit that the things that represented Miami to each of us were so different.  For me, it was Central Quad and the Sundial.  I walked by this piece of campus many times a day and rubbed those little turtle heads more than I can tell you.  That space is Miami to me.

Of course, there are tons of other iconic pieces of campus.  A visit to Miami DEFINITELY means lunch at Bagel and Deli.  And friends, it hasn't changed in almost 20 years; it's still as amazing as ever.

Another uptown stop I was dying for was You're Fired, a paint-your-own pottery shop that opened up my final semester on campus.  I took a creative writing course my last semester and our entire class painted pottery as a part of our creative expression.  The owner gave the first customers the option to paint a tile to go around the checkout desk and our class was a part of that.  Eighteen years later, my tile is still there and the store was even more busy than I remember it!  To top it off, we got to meet  and talk with the owner (how cool is God?) about our trip and my tile.

After our uptown adventures, we explored more of campus by car, heading first to the stadiums.  The clouds that day were incredible and made taking these shots so fantastic.  Having been Miami Redskins during the first half of our college career, there is not much on campus that holds that symbol anymore, so getting something with that in it was a must.

Our next stops were towards The Hub for more Miami Symbols: Upham Hall, The Seal, and a walk over to hear and see the glorious Beta Bells up close.  

As we continued, we stopped at the new student center, which had an amazing sitting room (thanks to my friend's family) with the most beautiful words: "To think that in such a place, I led such a life."  *sigh*

We went for a ride through the ever beautiful Western Campus and I was able to get some more shots there, before we headed back around to Bishop Woods.  And even though it was so very different than a couple of decades back, it was still a sweet spot of nature, with a new entrance as a nice touch.

After a little more driving, our final stop for the night was a picnic dinner in Central Quad, where I got one last look at the Sundial and the chance to remember my shady study spot in the quad.

I found on our trip that it was the simple things of this place that refueled me.  Time with a trusted friend, wind rustling through the trees and birds singing in the air.  It was a beautiful reminder to me to set aside time for myself with no real agenda, so that God can use the simple things in life to speak into my soul.  I hope you're able to do the same.

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Way He Works (The Crisp Family)

There's something about the way God works.  I have seen it a million times, but it doesn't seem to matter.  Every time, He leaves me in awe.  This is my new friend Grant and his family.  It is no accident that we have met; God made sure of it.  Grant and Keira were friends.  They met as Keira's journey was winding down and Grant's journey was just beginning (you can follow their journey here).  So, when I learned that Grant's family was interested in spending a day of fun together so I could take pictures, we moved quickly to make it happen.

We spent an afternoon doing things that sort of encapsulate Grant and his family right now.  First on the agenda was spending time in the kitchen, where Grant played both chef and adorable photographer.

 With four males under one roof, I feel like you have to always be ready for impromptu physical play.  Introduce monsters in the halls.  But really - I'm not sure who had more fun - Mom and Dad or the boys.

After that, the great outdoors seemed to be calling, so everyone got their shoes on and headed out to the swing-set.

 I really loved to watch everyone play and interact.  It's not always easy to find something everyone is interested in because of their ages, but this one worked!

After tons of play, we headed back indoors for some down time.  My son loved the movie Cars about this age, and this family can totally relate.  In fact, if you are a Cars fanatic, maybe you can see the scene playing out right before your eyes.

 After some fun times with the blocks and at the trains, everyone piled upstairs to have a dance party, because a life well lived involves some great dancing.

 And as Dad got in his work out for the day, and Mom showed off her killer dance moves, things started winding down.  We took this time to snag one "official" portrait and then let my friend Grant have some snuggle time in his favorite spot, with his favorite lovey.

I loved to watch this family come together for the afternoon, and how they are relying on God through this journey.  I hope it encourages you to press in to God when life takes unexpected turns.  To take the time to play on your swing set, crawl on the floor with your kids, and have a dance party in your living room.

Until next time,

Thursday, October 5, 2017

October 5-on-5: Learning with Letters

Since my son is in school and my daughter still stays at home with me, official first day of school pictures are really limited to just him (for now).  Of course, just because my daughter isn't in a school building doesn't mean she can't still be learning.  In fact, she loves to practice her reading and writing, which is just what she did when her new glasses appeared on the scene.

She started with drawing a line through the alphabet and making sure to hit them all in order (with a little help on that l-m-n section).

Beginning letter sounds are a new skill, so the next page was perfect for her to sit and work through.  Lots of slowly sounding words out to hear that first letter.

 And pushing back her hair so she could stay fully focused on her task at hand.

 Got it!  I love her excitement when she shows she understands!

And a final look over to make sure she's done them all right!

I love being able to watch her think and learn. It's one of the cool bonuses of staying home and getting to be her 1-on-1 teacher.  And then I even get to take pictures and share them with you!

Speaking of sharing, I know it's so much easier to stop right here, but it's not nearly as rewarding.  The photographers in my circle are a talented bunch and I would love to know that their work is being seen by YOU.  Hop on over to see Margaret Albaugh, Spokane Photographer.

Until next time,