the right place at the wrong time

(left) 75mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200 (right) 120mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200

I was chatting at a social function last weekend and a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, asked me about life. As we chatted she mentioned my challenge to take photos every day in a congratulatory way. I fumbled around explaining nothing perfect was going on here. In fact, most of those days my photo has been with a phone…or not at all. Life got busy with my dad’s passing, Halloween, then Thanksgiving…and now Christmas. But honestly, those are excuses. Most days when I think of picking up my camera I think “I don’t know what to do” I love photographing people…but during the daylight hours I am often alone (more excuses). It’s time to watch my thoughts and exchange them with- “I know what to do” “this is fun” “I am creative” “I keep my own commitments”

Although there is much room for improvement, these photos are a result of a success. Kate and I rushed to a dentist appointment in October, forcing Sophie to miss tumbling class. We got there just in time and were told by the receptionist that I had the date wrong. They expected us one week later. Kate noticed my camera and said that we could take photos in the parking lot. She volunteered to be my subject that day. I was thrilled. Here’s to having a camera handy…and being at the right place at the wrong time.

(left) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200 (right) 200mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200
(left) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200 (right) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200
(left) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/160 | iso100 (right) 123mm | f2.8 | 1/160 | iso100

our advent tradition

24mm | f2.8 | 1/160 | iso640

Although they would probably prefer advent calendars with chocolate on the other side of a paper window, the advent we do religiously is Christmas books. I have a collection that we keep in storage with the rest of our Christmas treasures. I buy a new book each year, and the rest are wrapped from our collection. Each night {ideally!} we sit together and unwrap one of the 25 and read.

Our new book this year is OSKAR AND THE EIGHT BLESSINGS. It is set on Christmas Eve in 1938, but the focus is Hanukkah. Oskar is a boy escaping the war in Europe, now a refugee in New York City. It is a beautiful book. I love that it shares the connection of Hanukkah which I would love to learn even more about.

the books we are unwrapping this year:

We have done this since our girls were small. My hope is that this will remain a tradition every year. I hope when our girls have homes of their own…I will deliver 25 books for them to open each day in December leading up to Christmas. There is nothing quite like ending the day together on the couch reading a beautiful book.

What Christmas books do you read every year? What should I add to our collection?

27mm | f2.8 | 1/200 | iso640

take care of the girls- part two

cont…from here

Dad was still awake, not seeming as agitated, but also not asleep. He was, however, in bed when the nurse came to check on him. She took his vitals and chatted with him. When she asked him what he needed, he said that he was hungry and sherbet sounded good. As soon as the nurse left we went to the freezer and found rainbow sherbet. Danny fed him 1 teaspoon full, that was all he wanted, and finally, after days of restlessness- he fell asleep.

Food was important to my dad, his love language. He often told me the story of my first time on a plane. He had taken me with him on a business trip when I was a toddler. The only thing I know about that trip was that I ate BBQ ribs, corn on the cob (my dad would laugh because he couldn’t believe how well I ate that corn with very few teeth!) and rainbow sherbet. Because my dad told me that story many times while growing up- I have never eaten BBQ ribs, corn on the cob or rainbow sherbet without thinking of him.

As the day progressed my dad slept…

  • we kept mom company, doing puzzles and chatting
  • sat at dad’s side
  • Ellie, Kate, and Sophie made homemade rolls and soup and brought them to us (how great was that!?)
  • Danny went home with the girls
  • Dede came by for a visit in the evening

After Dede went home, mom got in comfortable clothes and settled into the recliner by dad’s hospital bed with a western movie. Once the time came for his evening dose, I said goodnight, made a bed on the couch and set the timer for 3 hours. The timer woke me up. Dad was still asleep. I gave him his medicine and went back to sleep. Just an hour or so later, my mom woke me up. “I think he’s gone.”

Now rainbow sherbet connects the three of us- Danny feeding my dad his last bite…and that his last bite was a treat that reminds me so much of all that my dad has given me in the world. The gifts from him aren’t visible to the eye. They are generosity, service, respect and love. October 15th will forever be a day we eat BBQ ribs (knowing that they won’t be as good as what we have had from his grill), corn on the cob and of course, rainbow sherbet wishing he was there enjoying it with us.

taken 10/22/17
35mm | f2.5 | 1/160 | iso100

take care of the girls…part one

taken: 10.04.18     phone photo

The two most important men in my life are Danny and my dad.  They treated each other with such respect.  On October 14th I was going to spend the day with my parents.  It was Sunday.  My plan was to go to a sacrament meeting and then head straight there.  Danny offered to join me.  As we were getting ready Dede sent a text-  “could you skip church and come now? it’s been a long night.”  My dad had been on hospice care for several weeks.  He was too weak to walk.  Dede or I tried to be there in the morning until he went to bed because it was a lot for our mom on her own…and 90% of the time it was Dede.  In fact, I hadn’t been there for several days and I was looking forward to being there and relieving Dede.  

My dad had weeks of not being able to hold down or eat food and sometimes liquids.  We were told that the restlessness and anxiety he was experiencing was “terminal agitation.”  The night of October 13th and morning of the 14th the agitation had hit its peak.  He hadn’t slept for two days…and not much sleep the days leading up to that.  Dede had planned to stay until he fell asleep- he never did.  He was afraid.  The hospice staff over the phone told her- “you have to give him his medicine and then stay on top of it-preventative and not reactive.”  He WOULD NOT TAKE IT.  Dede was exhausted and emotionally drained.  

We got there as quickly as we could.  I walked into the back door.  My dad’s hospital bed was the first thing you saw as you entered the back door of their home.  I went straight to him.  I asked if he wanted a hug.  His bed was set upright so I embraced him with both of my arms.  He returned the hug and patted my back.  “Did you have a hard night Dad?” I asked him.  He said that he had.  “Why aren’t you sleeping?” His only response, “It’s nearing the end.”  

Dede, at mom’s insistence, told me more about their night.  He had been combative, yelling and struggling, which was totally out of character.  He truly had been the sweetest patient as we cared for him these last months.  I felt an overwhelming gratitude for all of the time and selflessness Dede had given my mom and dad and wanted to do anything I could to help.  Her only instructions- “get him to take his medicine and then give it to him every three hours so his agitation doesn’t get this bad again.”  She left to get a few hours sleep and mom and I were strategizing about how to get him to take the medicine.  Danny said confidently, “I’ll do it.”  He grabbed the Rx and headed to his bedside.

“Bob, I need you to help me take care of these girls. Do you want to do that?”  He nodded that he did.  “They need you to take this medicine.”  I am going to put it in your mouth.  My dad opened up his mouth…and it was done.  We were shocked.  We hoped he would go right to sleep because it had been days since he slept.  Instead, my dad wanted to go to his office.  Danny wheeled him back there.  Wheeled him back to bed.  Then he wanted to sit on his walker.  Danny gave him a back rub.  Then suggested an “army bath.”  We got warm water, a washcloth, and a bar of soap.  Danny cleaned him right up…joking and lovingly caring for a man he respected so much.  My eyes filled with tears.  I love Danny for more reasons than I can count, and at that moment my heart overspilled with gratitude for these men- my father and the man I married.  

illuminating the fog

50mm | iso 320 | f2.5 | 1/800

I have been in a fog of:

I can’t, I don’t follow through, there isn’t enough time, who do I think I am?, I don’t know how, it’s too much, too hard, not important

Are you exhausted just reading that mess?  These thoughts that run through my mind repetitively create feelings of discouragement and weakness…and they are a total lie.  They are a deception.  They propel me to inaction and distraction.  

35mm | iso 320 | f2.5 | 1/800

In the past, I have tried to fight the inaction and distraction with checklists, schedules, and guilt.  I haven’t seen much any change or benefit from that strategy.  It’s time to change my way of thinking.  I read today, 

“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”

Henri Matisse

My new thoughts to illuminate the fog:

  • I follow through
  • I have gifts to offer the world
  • I know what to do

The feelings these new thoughts will create are confidence, success, and focus.  The actions that follow these thoughts will be a desire to rise early and hit the ground running, to keep the schedule I have made for myself, work with intention and make and keep BIG goals.