Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Children's Book: Country Tails by Lori Gerads

Just the other evening I had the pleasure of meeting the author of this charming children's book. Through her poetry and stories she introduces young children to the animals that visit her ranch in a way that is fun and entertaining for young children.

I was a bit pressed for time so did not read the entire book but did skim through it enough to know that it is on my 'Get List' for my youngest grandson.

When I mentioned to her how cute I thought the illustrations were she told me that they had all been drawn by a young man when he was only a boy of about fifteen. I was a bit impressed and surprised as most boys I know would never draw such endearing images. When my boys were teenagers they drew warrior type caricatures, cars, girls and fierce looking animals.

If you have all ready read this book to your children I would love to hear what they thought of the book.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Living My Best Life

Have you ever come across a subject or question that you felt so strongly about you just had to write a post on the subject? Well, that is where this is coming from. Traci at A Star in My Own Universe wrote a great post about Living the best life and it touched a cord within me. She asked her readers if they were living their best lives, and what it looked like for them. When she spoke of her 'vision of what that Best Life would be' I immediately thought of what I dreamed my life would be like. Here is a poem I wrote some years back about my Dream life.
background image courtesy of A.Conant and

Like many people I was in such a hurry to get to the 'Dream' life I didn't realize that life is like a book where each chapter adds to its' richness and without them the final chapters would be dull and boring.

For as long as I can remember the most important parts of my dream were to be a mother and an artist, for me having those two things would make life the best ever. Of course that was only a small part of the dream. In my dream I would live in a house in the mountains, where I could be inspired by nature and spend idyllic days interacting with my children sharing with them the glory of nature and the joy in creating all forms of art. I would have pieces of my artwork on display in some formal exhibit and possibly even have a book of short stories or poetry published. My husband would be the perfect father, husband and provider.

Alright, so maybe that sounds a bit naive and old fashioned. That was for me the vision of the best life ever. Oddly enough, it did not include me making any substantial income nor having a traditional career, neither did it include an expensive home or costly belongings.

For years now my life has been filled with the love of my husband and children and now our grandchildren. No my husband isn't perfect but he has been a good husband and father. I have spent many idyllic hours with children and grandchildren sharing the beauty of nature, the joy of expressing their individuality through artistic endeavors, and yet I still did not think I was living my dream.  Even in the last year when although, I have felt I was getting closer to that DREAM, I still did not think I was living my best life. Sure I have a large loving family. I create artwork both for myself and for clients, some of which has been in various local exhibits. Yet, still I did not feel I was living my dream (best life ever).

Then Traci asked that question. After reading her post and really thinking about what she said it occurred to me that I am living my best life ever. Sure I don't have a home in the mountains, and I am still living paycheck to paycheck.  But the Dream wasn't about money, it was more about a life filled with family, love and beauty. All of which I have around me in abundance.

I was caught up on one small part of the Dream. The desire for a home in the mountains. In all reality it is actually an unnecessary part, and yet it was the part that left me feeling that life was in some way lacking. For years now my motto has been 'you can't change the wind, so adjust your sails'. Now I see that although I have gotten very good at sailing, I never learned to change the ports of call along the way.

So my answer is YES, I am living my Best Life and it just keeps getting better.
May the best of life find it's way to each and everyone of us.

The Miss Adventures of Baby Squirrel

While out for a leisurely walk at the Japanese Gardens I happened to see this baby squirrel. He was running back and forth across each step trying to get down to the next one. It was funny to watch as each time he wound up pretty much falling to the next step. I was so caught off guard by his behavior that I didn't even think to change the setting on my camera so the photos aren't as nice as I would have liked. 

What he did when he finally got to the bottom was so funny I couldn't resist making a cartoon strip from the photos. 
Sorry about not keeping it within the layout but the smaller size just really looked fuzzy. I couldn't believe he literally chased that poor dog. The dog would nose forward then jump back, and the squirrel would advance again. They actually came within an inch of touching noses at one point. In the last photo my camera was only about four inches in front of his nose.
May the little things bring you joy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Music and Memories

For those that enjoyed my poem Dance Partners, I found an instruction video for the basic Cumbia dance steps. Hope you enjoy this.

Now that you have seen the basic here is the more advanced version and is very similar the dance we always danced.

As you can see the more advanced Cumbia is very similar to a swing dance which by the way is my all time favorite type of dance.
I love that through the use of modern technology we can now include not only photos and the written word to preserve memories but we can now include the music that triggers special memories with our photos. These video's are not ones I made obviously, but after these two posts it occurred to me that I should do a short memory video of my uncle combining my photos and our favorite dancing songs.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Night (oops I mean Day) At The Museum

Today I would like to share a bit from my recent trip to visit my niece in Washington DC. I was so excited to be able to spend a few days with her and have her show me around DC. Among my list of MUST see sights was the Smithsonian Museums.
The Smithsonian Castle is the main building of the Smithsonian Institute
Upon entering the rotunda of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History  I almost felt as if I had stepped right onto the set of 'Night at the Museum'.

There was so much to see in such a limited time I focused more on taking photos of exhibits I knew would have special meaning to my children and grandchildren. Here are a few of the photos, that I hope to eventually put into some type of special photo art for my children and grandchildren.
A Giraffe for my sweet niece
A snow leopard for my youngest daughter
A leopard for two of my granddaughters
A sea turtle skeleton for my youngest son
Some type of dinosaur bones for the oldest grandson
A tiger for the youngest grandson
A bat for my Son-In-Law who hates them :D
It was an amazing place to visit, with so many exciting exhibits to see. We made it though many of them but I could easily go back and spend another day or two just wandering those halls. I couldn't help but think how wild it would be if it were like the movie and they all came back to life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preserving Memories Through Poetry: The Dance Partners

Sometimes when there is no photograph of a very special memory that memory can be preserved with the use of a combination of photographs and poetry such as I did for my very special Uncle. Finding ways to preserve my own special memories and helping others preserve their memories are two things that bring me great joy.

Remember the day so long ago
when la Cumbia began to play
you led me in the dance of joy
teaching me la cumbia

Since then partners we became
every time the music played
you'd take my hand & lead the way
for la cumbia was ours to dance

Then too soon my strength was gone
la cumbia I could not dance
I promised you I would get strong
so la cumbia again we'd dance
I want to feel the joy I felt
when the music played so strong
I want to dance la cumbia
just like we did that day

Alas too late my strength returns
for no longer can you dance
and all too soon you will be gone

Now every time the music plays
I feel the sadness and the joy
remembering so long ago
how we danced upon that day

This new promise I make to you
I will do what I must do
So upon the day of your return
I will be there

Partners once more we will be
when the music begins to play
You and I will dance
La Cumbia
For my Uncle with Love
Nita 2003

I wrote this for my uncle when he began losing his battle with cancer. The printed version is in both English and Spanish side by side with the photo at the top. I was going to share both versions just as it was printed for my uncle but couldn't get them to line up neatly side by side on this blog.
What Gives You Joy?
To play along and share the joy visit
Sharing the Joy @ Meri's Musings             

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Family Resemblance

Have you ever looked at a photo and thought "wow I can't believe how much they look like so-n-so"? Family resemblance can be strong or subtle or even fleeting. With my daughter her resemblance to me was strongest at age three and from one angle, the same is true with her daughter.  This collage shows one photo of me, two of my daughter and one of my granddaughter all taken at age three.
While I was going through the photos I took while visiting my niece in DC as soon as I saw this photo it was as if I was looking at a photo of her mother. I have often commented on how much she looks like her mother and yet never felt the resemblance was so strong until I saw this profile photo.
My Sister-in-law passed away ten years ago and yet when I saw this photo all I could see was my niece's mother. I wish I had a profile photo of her mother but these will have to do for now.
Top left and bottom right are my niece, the other two are her mother. The top right photo of my Sister-in-law was taken right about the same age as my niece is now. In the bottom one she is a few years older.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Photographic Messages

There are many ways to tell those you love that you love them. You could take them somewhere special, maybe even send them flowers, or you could spend a lot of money and buy them fancy jewelry or expensive gifts. Yet over time with most of the these the gift and message will become a faint memory. 

Last week while visiting my grandchildren in Virginia, I do believe my seven year old granddaughter came up with the perfect way to say 'I Love You' in a way that will never become a faint memory.  I asked her if she wanted to take some special photos of her for her dad who is in the Navy and deployed at this time. In deciding what type of photos to take she said the one thing she misses most is giving her dad a salute each night before bed.  She asked me to take a picture for him of her giving him a salute. We took a few with her giving the salute and then some general pose shots. I have to admit that the photos of her saluting send a much deeper message than all the rest.

Sunday Best submission

I think my granddaughter has come up with a way to say 'I Love You' that is far better than any other. What do you think?

To share with others in their crowning moments or to share your own check out Melanie's Crowning Moments bog hop.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Just as the summer passes all too fast so did my vacation. Now it is time to play catch up and get back in the swing of working. Of course I took tons of photos, mostly of the kids because lets face it they were my main attraction. We did go out a bit while I was there in Virginia to see a few of the sights but mainly we just enjoyed being together. 

At the end of my vacation I spent Saturday and Sunday with my niece in Washington DC. It was so nice to spend time with her and see our nations capitol. She took me all over showing me many of the museums and points of interest. There is so much to see to do it justice and really take it all in I think one would need at least a couple of weeks. I know I could have spent all day just in the Library of Congress let alone any one of the many museums. 

Through the many photographs I have seen over the years of the capitol I knew the buildings were very large but I was in total awe of how enormous they actually are. The size alone was not the source of my awe, but the extent to which the architects went when designing and building these amazing structures. Each building is so intricately detailed they are in themselves gorgeous pieces of art. 

Capitol Building
Another thing that took me totally by surprise is that in comparison to all the other buildings the White House is actually rather small. I had always thought of the White House as being huge but when you see the buildings surrounding it they completely dwarf it by comparison.
Front view of White House
So many special memories have been made this summer that it will take me a bit of time to go through all the photographs. With so many memories I have decided that instead of a single memory photo of the summer it would be better to create a Memory photo book and video.

I hope all have had a memorable summer as I have, and look forward to catching up and getting back in the swing of things.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Vacation Is Almost Over

My vacation is nearly at it's end. I will be returning home on the 16th after a short stop in Washington DC and hope to resume posting by the 18th. At that time I will be posting more photos from my vacation in Virginia and Washington DC, until then here is one of my favorite shots from my vacation.

I hope you are having a great weekend.  I will be back to posting and commenting soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Remembering Special Times

Today was a special day twice over. I got to swim in the ocean! On top of that my grandson Little J overcame his fear of the ocean!

Over the past few years each time I have visited and gone to the beach it was just to walk along the shore and take pictures. This time I wanted to actually go swimming in the ocean. It's been nearly eighteen years since I have swam in an ocean. To some it is no big deal but having spent more of my youth swimming in the ocean than doing anything else it was huge.

Like myself my daughter and granddaughter Little H, must have some mermaid in them, we all love swimming in the ocean so much. Val and I both thought we would probably have to take turns, with one going in the water while the other watched from the sand with Little J. This would have meant that we couldn't swim out beyond where Little H could go, as we didn't want her in the water without one of us near.

At first that is exactly how it went. Then Val coaxed Little J into sitting in her lap just inside the surf. Gradually she inched forward until the water was at his waist and he decided it was not so bad after all. Eventually he decided he didn't need to be held or even hold one of our hands and played in the gentle waves. We each were able to take turns swimming out farther while the other stayed with the two little ones and we all had a wonderful time. My only regret is that I do not have a waterproof case for my camera or a waterproof camera. I would have loved to have gotten pictures of the kids playing in the surf.

I did get a few photos after we got out and had lunch. Little H wanted to feed a seagull but we warned her that it wasn't a good idea even though a few of the gulls were rather determined and watched us eat from a rather close distance.

Unfortunately a young boy not far from where we were sitting did not know the dangers and tossed a gull one of his chips. I don't think he will be doing that again.

Although I didn't get photos of the two things that made this day so special the photos I did get will help to remind me of this special day. Often memories are tied together in this way and will work as a sort of chain reaction with one memory triggering other memories. When I add these photos to my memory album I am sure they will bring back the special memories for me without even making a single note of them. However, I will include this story of the day so that future generations will understand the significance of the photos.

Goof(y)ing Off!

Let's face it everyone gets a little bored at times, even on vacation. So Just what do you do when you are on vacation and don't have the usual things to distract you? The other night the kids were in bed, my daughter was relaxing playing a video game and I couldn't decide what to do. If I had been at home I probably would have read a book or worked on one of my art pieces or many crafts. Instead, I pulled out my camera and went in search of odd shots. I truly decided to just Goof around.
This beautiful calico cat has a bit of a phobia of hats even those shaped like Goofy's head. Deciding not to torment the cat further Goofy and I sought out other settings for our impromptu photo shoot.

Since Goofy is so good at getting in and out of dangerous situations, I thought this might be a good place for him. Needless to say my grandson was not happy when he saw this picture and wanted to know WHY Grandma was trying to COOK Goofy.
Having decided Goofy just wasn't as photogenic as I had thought, we said our good-byes at the door and I settled down to a movie.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just for laughs

The other night we watched the 2011 version of the movie "Arthur". This second version is just as funny as the first one. The theme is still the same but much of the movie was changed to make it more modern and they did a great job. At one point Arthur states that he doesn't trust horses for the following reason,
For more laughs visit  lisleman's 
I can’t blog

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Little Doll's 1st Birthday

To those that think birthday parties for children under the age of five are a waste of time and energy consider this. The first five years of a child's life are considered the most formative of their childhood. They are learning not only to walk and talk but they are learning about building relationship's and how to get along in society. All of these lesson's are being taught by the people that are active in their lives, not just their parents and siblings but also from close friends of the family. When you have a birthday party for a young child you allow all those involved in these important lesson's to share in the joy of the child's development. It is also another way to document and preserve for the child just how many people cared and shared the early years of their life.

Just last weekend we had the privilege of photographing just such an event. I would like to thank this little doll's parents for letting us help them preserve her first birthday party. Here are just a few of the many precious moments we were able to capture.

We wish this little one and her family many more blessed birthdays.