Masthead header

Monthly Archives: February 2013

My dearest pigs,

You are my heart right now.  Your little body is so full emotion, that it often bursts out of you without any warning.

Sometimes that means warm & full hugs and big & soft smooches.

Other times, it means stomping your feet, throwing your hands down (or up, or sideways, or crossways–you name it and I’ll bet you’ve done it), quickly followed by the phrase “I don’t like it, I am not a baby.”

That right there is the hardest part about being your mommy right now.

You are my BABY pigs and it’s so hard not to scoop you up in my arms and snuggle you into submission.

The truth is, you melt me. You smile and I crumble.

Then, after I crumble, I have to pick myself up and remember that as hard as it is, I have to stand firm.

I suppose that is our role in life right now.

My job is to teach you right and wrong, how to behave, all while encouraging your free spirit.

Yours is to challenge me to be better, more patient and to help me remember that you’re my last baby boy and to soak in every moment of it (even when you call me a baby and tell me that I pee in a diaper).

As I type the words I love you,

I hear your voice in my head saying, “I love you too mommy,”

with a slight inflection of your voice when you say “too”.



p.s. Go button–activate cuteness!

Please  help us continue our blog circle by reading the letter Brenda wrote for her son.

Dear Beans,

I am so excited it’s your birthday because five is really the age where I started building memories.  I remember when I turned five, I thought that I would get to start school on my birthday.  I was disappointed to find out that I would have to wait until the fall. When I was five, I learned how to ride my bike without training wheels–which meant that I had to ride down a super scary hill and I was pretty sure I was going to crash.  I can still remember my dolls from when I was five (Rose Petal and Rainbow Bright were my favorites).  I remember my older sister reading me a rose petal book and my mom playing barbies with me.  Those are memories that I hold very close to my heart.  It makes my “mommy heart” so full to know that you will start to remember all these things too.

Since you are turning five, I thought I would share 5 things I love about you (and believe me there are many more than five but if you don’t know this about me yet–you will eventually–I love a theme)

1. Your outlook on life.

As much as you get frustrated with the little things, the big stuff–doesn’t even phase you. You are patient with me when I tell you that something will have to wait (and yes, I know it always seems like I am telling you that something will have to wait until later). Oh and your favorite phrase right now is “oh yeah” only you rock your hips like Elvis (you’ll learn about him later) and give me the finger guns whenever you get to do something cool–like have ice cream.

2. The sound of your voice and laugh.

The other night in the car you and your brother started laughing. Your dad and I just looked at each other and your laugh made us smile because it is so you! When you get going it almost sounds like a witches cackle. I really should record it before you  grow out of it and become a big girl.

3. I love (love, love, love, love, can’t say it enough, love) that you want to hug your dad and me all the time!

4. You are a perfect blend between a tomboy and girl.

You love wearing jeans and converse shoes, yet you get excited to have your nails polished with purple sparkle polish.  The other day at Target, I heard you gasp when you saw the purses.  Its really cool to watch you figure out who you are and what you like.

5. You are like me and that is the thing I love most about you.


Happy Birthday!



Dear Beans,

Being your mom has not always been easy. As a baby you cried, and cried, and cried.  It wasn’t the normal “baby cry”, it was something different. You would cry and my heart would almost stop for a split second and then I would feel your pain.  It was like the pain from your cries would vibrate through my body and resonate in my bones.  I had never felt that pain before I heard you cry.

You were my inconsolable baby.  No amount of rocking, or snuggling (which you liked even less than rocking), or singing (which I did every night at 8pm when you would have your worst fit) could soothe you or make you stop crying.  There were nights where your dad and I would just have to lay you in your bassinet and leave the room because it was too hard to hear you cry.  I felt so insecure as your mom. Did you know how much I loved you? Why weren’t you happy?

But I get it now. Somewhere around the time you turned three, I started to see glimpses into your future and I recognized myself in you.  Your dad says you beat to your own drum. But really you don’t. We share the drum.  You get frustrated over smallest things and instead of letting it go, you panic and scream and cry.  It drives me absolutely crazy! But not for the reason you think.  It drives me crazy because at 32, I haven’t really learned how to, as your dad would say; “stay calm and assess the situation.” It’s indescribably hard to watch you struggle with the same exact things I struggle with.

But we will always have a unique bond because of this. Even though you don’t look just like me (you look more like your dad than you do me), you are JUST like me.  Your struggles–are my struggles. Your insecurities–are my insecurities. Your pain–is my pain. Your laugh–is my laugh (cackle and all). Your sassy nature–is my sassy nature. But, your sweetness, in spite of all your frustration, is a really beautiful thing to see.




I took this picture of her when she was almost 4–she was wearing her Belle dress (Beauty and the Beast) and her hair was a mess of tangles all wadded up in a ponytail. She was sitting on top of the kitchen table waiting for lunch. It was (and still is) the most perfect picture I have taken of her because it so completely captured who she is.

 Thank you for reading and please help us continue our blog circle by clicking here and reading Jessica’s letter.



The Anatomy: Single Frame Self Portrait

Stage One: Conceptualization

I started the process of conceptualizing the frame by journaling what kind of tone/mood I wanted the image to have. The words bare
and fresh, kept coming up during this process, so I knew that it would be a bare image of my face.
Pores, creases, dark circles and age spots–nothing would be cosmetically retouched. Once I had the basic idea, I began to sketch out the image and how I would incorporate the use of water, to further the notion of a bare, fresh face.

Stage Two: The Shoot

Supply list: Canon 7D and 100mm
2.8 L Lens, tripod, remote shutter, expodisc, a garden hose with an adjusting spray nozzle.
I set up the tripod and adjusted for composition, used my exposdisc to set custom white balance and to set exposure. I tested the sprayer, using my son as my assistant (my 7 year old found it very FUN to spray me with water–especially when I let out a huge scream). I underestimated how cold the water would be and how close the camera was, so I readjusted its location and settled on fixing composition in post production. I misted my wet hair first to create the beads of water and then used the full stream shower to simulate rain. This frame was taken right before I got a face and mouth full of water. Initially, I wanted to play with adjusting the shutter speed to change the effect of the rain but I was having a very hard time standing still, while being soaked with freezing cold water, so I quickly wrapped the shoot. I make for a terrible model.
Note: it started raining as we packed up the equipment–the irony.

Stage Three: Post Production

I opened the image in  ACR and adjusted the exposure (the light was in and out the entire time–due to the clouds).
Once in Photoshop (CS5) I did a quick levels adjustment.
Next, I created a new merged layer and set this layer to screen.  I created a layer mask and painted over the eyes with a soft brush (white) and set the layer to 50% opacity.
I created another merged layer and ran smart sharpen to bring out the details in the beads of water (sadly my hair is not over sharpened–it’s just that dry, post baby hair is the pits).
I used an adjustment layer and adjusted the contrast slider to -25.
I used two different curves layers (with masks set to multiply) to dodge and burn parts of the background, hair and skin.
*Saved Photoshop file.
The last thing I did was to increase the amount of negative space. To do this, I used the rectangle marque tool and selected all of the image EXCEPT the camera right portion of my face, copied the selection and then pasted on a new layer. I moved the new layer all the way to the right. I now had an ugly line down the center left half of the image. I used the clone stamp (adjusting blend mode between normal, darken and lighten) to remove the crease, symmetrical rain streaks, and to blend the colors of the background. I also painted a little gray with a soft brush set at 10%-20% opacity to smooth out the sky and add a little depth. Saved for print and web.
The second image:
I opened the saved file from earlier (before I adjusted composition) in Lightroom and recomposed for a vertical image.
Saved for print and web.

The Takeaway: I would have done a few things differently, but with that being said, it was an excellent exercise in creativity. By following a single frame from conception through post production, I was able to be more conscious of when and why I make creative concessions and how to bring back that original vision in post production. 


This year I am participating in a Clickin’ Moms challenge blog circle with a group of extremely  talented female photographers.  Next months challenge is FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY (can you tell by the all caps that I am just a little bit excited for next months challenge).  I am personally challenging myself to create an original recipe and shoot it. I have this crazy fantasy of transforming Starbucks drinks into cupcakes.  Think of all the yummy research I get to do! Which Starbucks drink would you like to see me turn into a cupcake?

For now, please continue our blog circle and visit Lauren Sanderson Photography and don’t forget to leave her some blog love!