Posts Tagged With: photography

My Newborn

My mom was in the hospital,  where Cam was born, recovering from her second hip surgery. I went to visit, bringing coffee and snacks. We chatted for a while and then she had to go to physical therapy.

When I had Cameron, I stayed in my room the whole time, never venturing past the threshold of my privacy curtain. So, after I left my mom’s room I wanted to go see the nursery floor. I pressed the button to the sixth floor and I was surprised at my emotions. I felt a longing for being back, secluded from the world with only my husband and my son by my side.

face

I walked out of the elevator doors and followed the signs to the nursery. I peaked in windows, expecting to see a bunch of tiny infants, wrapped in their white blankets, sleeping in rows.  But there were no babies in there. They must have all been with their mommas. It was kind of disappointing – like the magic was gone. And then I saw one small newborn being wheeled through the nursery. He was so tiny.

Was Cameron that small eight weeks ago?

radio flyer

 

Everyone tells you to cherish every moment because it goes by fast. Too fast. That is so easy to say in hindsight but in the wee hours of the morning, I caught myself saying things like, “It will be easier when he sleeps through the night.”

When he pees on me, when I am not fast enough changing his diaper, I think, “It will be so much better when he is potty trained.”

When he is screaming for no apparent reason, I think, “I can’t wait until he can just tell me what he wants.”

We have these moments on a daily basis but I try to alter my way of thinking. I know our midnight dates will be gone too soon. I know that capturing his undivided attention on the changing table will turn to squirmy battles and I know that sometimes he cries just because he wants his momma.

pillow

 

I know those moments are fleeting.

So for now, I will embrace each late night feeding, kiss each tear away and hold my baby boy while he still wants to be held.

stocking cao

 

*The photos in this post were taken by Jen Priester of Jen Preister Photography. She is incredibly talented and has as much love and kindness for newborns as their mothers. She was patient and knew how to soothe Cam when he got cranky. If you are in the Detroit area and are looking for a photographer. She is the best. I am now, more than ever, so grateful that she was able to capture the smallness, the newness and sleepiness in his newborn photos.

 

Categories: baby, birth, family, infants, newborns, parenting, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Battlefields and Base Ball Fields

Driving out of Washington DC was nothing short of a traffic nightmare. The drive to Gettysburg was only supposed to take 90 minutes but it took us closer to three hours. My co-pilot who had formerly been handing me Twizzlers, fell asleep. Bored  (because I had no one to talk to), hungry (because someone stopped feeding me Twizzlers), exhausted (from a whirlwind tour of DC) and frustrated (because of the unbearable traffic) I turned up my radio and belted out some classic Disney tunes (secretly and petulantly trying to wake my navigator).

As we neared Gettysburg, the traffic thinned, the speed limit dropped to 55 and the highway went down to two lanes. We drove through gently rolling hills and upon crossing the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line, the sky turned a dark shade of gray. It wasn’t raining but it wasn’t not raining. There was a heavy mist, so thick that at 2 in the afternoon, my headlights came on and I had to turn on my windshield wipers. On our way to the hotel, we drove through battlefields, lined with wooden fences – the mist casually, eerily hung on top of the fences, with the occasional vulture perched on top.

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We arrived at the wonderful Wyndham hotel of Gettysburg. We were warmly greeted by the staff at the front desk, checked in, took the elevator to the third floor, dropped our bags and fell into the white, fluffy, cloud-like bed.

Matt (my husband) plays in an 1860’s Base Ball club with the Royal Oak Wahoos. When his team was invited to the festival this July, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to travel (thanks to Wyndham and Women on Their Way) and he couldn’t say no to being immersed in history for an entire weekend.

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Following our nap, we headed out to check in for the festival and wanted to explore the charming downtown. We landed at Gettysburg Eddie’s– a baseball themed restaurant and host to the weekend’s festival. It was busy but well worth the wait. We devoured our meals; mine: the best fettuccine alfredo with shrimp and broccoli I’ve ever had, Matts – was apparently less memorable because neither of us remember what he ate – only remembering how good it was. The staff was friendly and quick and as we rolled our stuffed bellies out the door, we stumbled upon a walking tour – a historical ghost tour of the town of Gettysburg.

Our guide was a retired Fire Fighter from New York City. He played the part of a Gettysburg farmer from the 1860s. He stayed in character, led us through the town with an authentic lantern and gave us chills with every story he told- he told it with such authority that it was as though he had experienced firsthand. We hung on every word – cautiously looking behind us for signs (or crossing our fingers for no signs) of the paranormal. We heard stories of soldiers and Gettysburg citizens, homes that were haunted, bridges that hid the spirits of confederate soldiers trying to get back south and saw remnants of bullet holes from guns shot 149 years ago.

The next morning we got ready for the base ball (it was two words in 1860) tournament. The clouds hung heavy in the sky, threatening rain on the first game for the Wahoo Base Ball Club of Royal Oak in the Gettysburg 3rd Annual Vintage Base Ball Festival. But we stayed dry.

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Fourteen base ball clubs from the Midwest and East Coast competed in the gentlemanly game of 1860’s base ball at Hickory Hollow Farms; they pitch underhand, don’t wear gloves and wear period uniforms. The hitter is called the striker, the catcher – the behind, the pitcher – the hurler. They say things like, “Well struck, Sir,” when the ball is hit well and “Huzzah” when someone “tallies an ace” (scores a run). They mind their manners and except for the occasional disagreement – they act like perfect gentlemen. It’s base ball from a simpler time – in its truest form.

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The Royal Oak Base Ball Club has been around since 2004, founded by Jon “Preacher” Miller and Tim “Flash” Gorman. Every gentleman in the club has a nickname attributed to his career or hobby. It is truly a joy to watch base ball the way it was played back then.  The Wahoo’s had a perfect record at the end of the festival – they didn’t win a single game – but it can be agreed upon that every member of the club had the experience of a lifetime. And as for me, Innkeeper’s wife, I couldn’t be more proud to have been able to be a crank (spectator) at this incredible festival.

Categories: Baseball, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Happy Birthday”

 

For some reason hummingbirds have always reminded me of my grandma (my mom’s mom) who passed away just over two years ago. I have this vivid image of her, one Christmas, wearing a gray, crew-neck sweatshirt with a hummingbird on it. It may have been her only one – but it is emblazoned in my mind that she loved the little bird and every article of clothing she had was adorned with a hummingbird.

That being said, every time I see one, I think of her. A few months ago, I was with my mom in San Francisco and we went on a wine tour of Napa Valley.  At our very last winery, tired and tipsy, we wandered into the vineyard. Off to the side was this giant flowering bush and I saw something flutter. It took me no longer than a nano-second to realize it was a hummingbird; and how appropriate, on this mother-daughter vacation on Mother’s Day weekend, (almost two years to the day of her death) to feel the presence of my grandmother in the form of this tiny bird.

~the winery hummingbird~

Now, more than ever the two are linked: the memories of my grandma to the image of the hummingbird. So it is no surprise to me that when I spent the day at my parents’ Lake House in Port Sanilac, MI that a hummingbird graced us with her presence there as well.

Every summer, the women on my mom’s side of the family, get together to celebrate their summer birthdays. Having a birthday in March excluded me from this intimate gathering until this year when I had the day off work, a need to get away to the country, and a desire to finally swim in Lake Huron; one of Michigan’s Great Lakes.

~lake huron~

After our first venture into the icy, (50 shades of) blue, water, we sat on the deck to dry in the hot Michigan sun. There, while toweling off, I caught my first glimpse of the Lake House hummingbird. We collectively gasped, smiled and in unison pointed to the spot where she had been. She zipped up to the feeder and I scrambled to capture her on film memory card. She was fast and sneaky. And I missed her. But I was patient.

After filling our bellies with hot fudge cream puffs with Sander’s hot fudge (a Michigan specialty) we sat back on the patio, looking out on the gorgeous lake. Camera poised, the hummingbird came back and was ready for her photo shoot.

 

~so still~

 

The small moments of seeing this hummingbird with the women in my family (the women who have helped shape, support and encourage me – and the rest of my cousins) who represent everything good and brave and inspiring, was an incredible gift.

At the summer birthday party, my grandmother was present. Maybe she was saying hello – maybe she just wanted us to know she was always watching, protecting, loving us. Maybe she wanted to say she’s proud of us and that she misses us too. Or maybe, just maybe, she wanted to say, “Happy Birthday.”

~happy birthday~

 

 

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Perspective Gained

By the time I was in twelve, I had moved six times with my family. I had always hated it growing up but now, it’s what I attribute to my love of travel and inability to stay in one place for too long.

When my husband and I got engaged we were both living in Missouri – about five hours apart. I was in the incredible city of Saint Louis – amazing restaurants, a rich history, The Arch, life. I loved living there – there was always something to do.

Matt lived in Maryville. Podunk compared to Saint Louis. It’s a small rural town, in the middle of nowhere, just south of Iowa in the northwest corner of the state – home to the Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats. There’s a movie theatre, three really good restaurants and a bowling alley. When I visited it for the first time, I thought, this is cute but never imagined living there for close to three years.

But we did. At times it was frustrating that the nearest Target was 45 miles away and the nearest DSW was in Kansas City. It drove me crazy that Caribou coffee wasn’t just a 15 minute drive. I hated being 12 hours from Detroit – my “hometown.”

We moved back to Michigan during the summer of 2010 and were relieved to be back in “civilization”: Starbucks every mile, two Targets equidistant from my house, my dad just a call away to come over to help me install the dishwasher, old friends, convenience.

This past weekend, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to head back to Missouri with Matt to stand up in one of my best friend’s wedding.

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About ten hours into our trip, we were beginning to get a little stir crazy – we needed some fresh air and some fresh tunes. As we turned off the interstate – we got on a small state highway – twisty roads, windows down, country music turned up, farm land on either side  of us corralling us home…I mean back.

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We pulled into town and navigated the small narrow streets to get to campus, our home base for the weekend. As I was driving through campus, a car was coming toward me, so I accelerated so I could get through the rows of parked cars first, he patiently pulled to the side, waved to me and gave Matt a tip of his hat, wearing a happy smile on his face.

Where was I? Had I forgotten all my manners? Had the “big city” made me cold, selfish? This is one of the smallest things that happened to us over the weekend – but it had such an impact on me. Here, at home, when we moved into our neighborhood, full of its own narrow streets, I was appalled at how other drivers navigated them – zipping in and out of parked cars, trying to get through first, using their horn relentlessly. I was sad that no one did the friendly wave or the tip of the hat. Where were our friendly neighbors? Where was common courtesy? And now look at me, what have I become?

The idiosyncrasies of a small town are many – but the good outweigh the bad. Our first night in town – we went to dinner and saw our old colleague and it was as if two years hadn’t passed. In Detroit – we could go out to dinner ten times and not know a soul. While our families were far away – we had built a different kind of family who sincerely supported us and genuinely loved us. While I was looking for beauty in big buildings and big cities – I missed the beauty of gently rolling hills, sunsets that spanned the horizon for miles, and the gorgeous farmlands. While I frequently cursed the small town – I now curse the traffic and that it takes me an hour to get to the bank, post office and coffee shop that used to take me ten minutes on a bad day.

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I never thought I would miss Maryville – and I didn’t until we went back this weekend. An incredible town, full of our loving home-made families and very happy memories. Reflecting back on our time this weekend I am reminded of this quote from Ernest Hemingway, “never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective.”

 

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Wine on a Precipice

After spending the day on the beach, Matt and I drove up the winding road in search of a winery. We had heard nothing but high praise for Santorini wine and need to see, taste, rather, for ourselves.

Because the island has a prominent volcanic past, there is a lot of ash in the soil which helps protect the grape vines from predators. This also produces a wide array of flavorful wines unique to Santorini.

~city on a cliff~

We saw a sign for Santo Winery and decided to pursue it. We parked in front of a giant wooden barrel, used for grape stomping and knew we were in the right place.

We talked to the friendly barkeep and decided to do the classic tasting, which included six different wines with an assortment of bread, olives and cheeses.

~wine on a precipice~

Is it possible that the wine tasted better because we felt like we were hovering on the edge of a precipice, surrounded by the pristine white winery, highlighted with the blue sky and that sparkling Aegean sea, for what seemed to be, miles below us? Maybe. It was probably the best wine we’ve ever had.

Then something captured our attention.We caught sight of this tiny sailboat, making it’s way across the island. It was so tranquil and such a different view than the myriad of cruise ships that came in and out of the port daily. And then the sun began to set on one of the most peacefully perfect days on our trip and in our marriage and we headed back to Apanemo to get some rest.

~perfectly peaceful~

Categories: Greece, Photography, travel, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Feeling of Blue

With summer fast approaching I am reminded of the absolutely perfect weather that found us every day in Santorini.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am sort of a planner when it comes to traveling. I love to plan, organize. I like knowing what I am going to do every single moment of every vacation. This trip was different. It truly was going to be a vacation. And Greece is the ideal place to vacation.

We woke up to the rooster crowing just outside our window at Hotel Apanemo – a twenty-five room complex in Akrotiri, perched high up on the cliffs, on the southwest side of the island of Santorini. We descended the flight of stairs from our one bedroom apartment and stumbled upon the dining room. We drank strong coffee, enjoyed tangy Greek yogurt and savored the fresh fruit all laid out before us on a beautiful buffet, with the Aegean Sea, far below us, as the backdrop to our breakfast.

~hotel apanemo~

While sipping our coffee, Matt and I talked about how we would spend our first full day on the island. We decided to take to the beach. We checked in with Spiros, the owner of Apanemo and he recommended a quiet, black sand beach. He provided us with a tiny drawing of the island that was to serve as our road map to the beach.

We arrived at Perissa beach and paid the cashier ten euros for two umbrella-ed chairs and set up camp for the day. We came equipped with music, books, drinks and snacks. I was about to put on my headphones and then paused. The crashing of the waves was an incredible sound and I thought that hearing the Santorini waves might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so  I opted to listen to the music of the sea instead.

~perissa beach~

The water wasn’t crystal clear –but a deep, dark blue, highlighted with accents of turquoise set against a backdrop of a most impressive, quite literal, sky blue. The day was hot but we were protected by straw umbrellas and cooled by the breeze off the water. The sand was dark – not black like I was expecting – but strange all the same to be feeling the sand between my toes and it not being soft, smooth, and light in color like the sands of Lake Michigan.

~toes in the black sand~

As the day wore on, the wind picked up and the waves grew larger and larger. White caps were now highlighting the formally smooth Aegean Sea. We decided to take a quick swim before we were (read: I was) too afraid to get in.

It was cold.

It was exhilarating.

It was so blue.

Can something feel blue? Well, this water felt blue. Immersed in color, surrounded on all sides by different hues of blue – it was unlike any other swim I’ve ever taken.

After our brief swim we decided it was time for our beach day to come to a close. We packed up and headed to SantoWines – to experience the unique wines that Santorini had to offer…but that is a different story for a different day. (tomorrow, maybe)

Categories: beach, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Sleepy Moment

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines

 Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines

 In two straight lines they broke their bread

And brushed their teeth and went to bed.

They left the house at half past nine

 In two straight lines in rain or shine-

The smallest one was Madeline.”  ―

   Ludwig Bemelmans,    Madeline

As far back as I can remember, this is where it began. My love affair with Paris started with this book. I dreamt about going to Paris, speaking French, riding a bicycle in a striped shirt, with a beret atop my head and a baguette under my hairy armpit. Well, maybe not that last part.

To say that I have been incredibly blessed with the opportunity to realize my dream would be an understatement, I have been to Paris a handful of times though my thirst will never be quenched. It will never be enough.

A few months ago ( it feels like longer) my husband and I were sitting in the Tuilerie gardens feeling jetlagged and exhausted after having been in Paris only one day and spending the majority of that time in the Louvre.  We had just finished our jambon et fromage sandwiches in the park. I looked over at Matt to discuss what was next on the very specific agenda I created, prior to departure, to see him sleeping in the chair beside me.

This was my first visit to the city of love with my husband and he was sleeping. Just as I was about to flick his ear it dawned on me that that might not be so loving. So I sat there overlooking the flowers, reaching their heads to the bright, warm sun, with the Louvre in the background, enjoying a sleepy moment in Paris and a break from the minute by minute agenda.

Categories: France, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Do They Have Mondays in Greece?

 

My husband, Matt and I took our first European adventure together last fall. The final stop, on our self-guided two week tour, was to Santorini, Greece – a small picturesque island in the heart of the Aegean Sea.

 

~santorini~

It is customary in my “culture” (self-diagnosed culture: anal-retentive, non-spontaneous) to plan every moment of every trip. Because I infrequently find myself in Greece, I wanted to make sure we got to do everything we wanted to do and see everything we wanted to see. This trip was different for me though.

I didn’t plan anything.

We wandered.

We mosey-ed.

We hoisted our chins off the ground at the jaw-dropping beauty.

We experienced Santorini like locals.

When our ferry arrived at the Port of Santorini I didn’t even know how we were going to get to the hotel. We were so casually persuaded to rent a car, we didn’t even know we were doing it until we were given a drawing (no maps necessary with one road on the island) of Santorini.  The thought of driving in Greece terrified me because of the switchbacks, hairpin turns and general disregard for anyone else on the road, but what was more terrifying, was the thought of being a passenger in a taxi or a bus – I had images of us in head-on collisions, flying around the backseat with two non-functioning seatbelts or of our tour bus tumbling, in slow-motion, down the side of the cliff, into the sparkling Aegean Sea. While, a poetic way to die, I wasn’t ready yet.

The car was the perfect way to go.

My dad will cringe when he sees this photo (a GM owner through and through) but it gave us the freedom we needed to get the feel of this part of Greece.

~rental car~

Every photo tells a story – I think they are worth approximately 1000 words. No need for that today. Photos of ordinary days, moments, people in an extraordinary setting.

 

It made me wonder if people from Santorini see the beauty, the paradise they are privy to, day in and out or if they appreciate it every single day. Are their Mondays like ours? Do they struggle with deadlines, crazy coworkers, and frustrating bosses? Do their cars run out of gas, alarm clocks fail to sound? Do they wake up on the wrong side of the bed? I wonder if it’s possible to have a case of the Mondays in Santorini and that of course begs the question – what sort of beauty am I missing because of my Mondays?

 

 

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Following in the Footsteps of Vincent

~church at auvers sur oise~

 

In 2005, I took an art history course in Angers, France and realized every girl’s romantic fantasy: falling in love, in a foreign city, with an older man. He captivated me. I could not stop thinking about him. I wondered what he thought, what his hopes and dreams were. Though, I knew in my heart, he was not thinking of me, did not know I existed and had absolutely no interest in me. He was dead.

Vincent Van Gogh has always intrigued me.  When I went back to France in 2011 with my husband, I dragged him with me to Auvers Sur Oise on a personal pilgrimage to see where Vincent spent the last ten weeks of his life.

He was a tortured man. He was lonely. He had some mental problems. It is speculated that he was in love with Paul Gauguin. He had a tremendous love for his younger brother, Theo and the feelings were mutual. So strong in fact, six months after Vincent shot himself, Theo died (in my opinion) of a broken heart.

Despite his shortcomings, Vincent was a genius. He was one of the first artists to use colors opposite the color wheel together – notably red and green.  And maybe I making something out of nothing, but I swear every flower in this town was red resting on a bed of green ground cover. I was (read: am) obsessed.

~a secret tribute to Vincent~

 

 

~red flowers on a bed of green~

After a horrific experience at the train station, Matt, my husband and I were on our way to follow in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh. After about an hour, we disembarked and I had butterflies in my stomach. I had printed out a walking tour and we began our journey with a picnic lunch in Parc Van Gogh, where there was an incredible statue that looked like it was created in the style of his final period.

~parc van gogh~

We continued on our walking tour to the Maison Van Gogh – now a small museum slash tribute to the artist. Vincent spent ten weeks in Auvers Sur Oise and created over seventy works of art.

The town itself was in no way a touristy town, it was quiet, reserved, and paid tribute to the man who put them on the map but in a modest way; the way Vincent would have liked it. There were copies of his paintings throughout the town next to what he painted, so we saw what he saw and then saw how he saw it. The church which he painted, so dramatically, stands towering over the village right at its center and beside the church is a copy of his painting and it makes you wonder was he creative or did he really see it like that? Either way, it was beautiful.

~my eyes~

~vincent's eyes~

 

The last stop on our tour was the fields on the outskirts of the town. He shot himself in one of these fields where he frequently painted – so artistically poetic and so Van Gogh. He died two days later in small house where he rented a very modest room. His brother was able to come in from Paris to say his final goodbye. When Theo died, just a short time later, he was buried in Paris….and then a few years after that, his grave was moved to its rightful resting place next to his beloved brother. Nothing special about their graves. If you didn’t know where to look, you’d miss them. We almost did. (But then again, on a pilgrimage like we were…well, like I was, we looked for them for quite some time).

 

~the simple graves~

At the sight of the grave it’s hard to explain what I felt. Buried here was this incredible man with an incredible talent who struggled from the beginning. He was the second born to his parents after their first child, also named Vincent, died at birth, exactly one year before my Vincent. He never lived up to his parents expectations and was doomed to a destiny of failure in some ways. But look at what he accomplished.

<sigh>

The journey for me was incredibly meaningful. The atmosphere of this tiny village was so tranquil, it was almost difficult to imagine the events that transpired but then again, it wasn’t.

Categories: Art, France, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Small Moment in Daily Life

A few years ago, I developed a love for photography. I was given an incredible camera as a gift and I became obsessed, intrigued. Behind my lens, I felt like I could see a different view than everyone else, exclusive only to me.

On my most recent visit back to Paris, with my husband, we took a short journey by train out of town to Auvers Sur Oise – the petite village where Vincent Van Gogh spent the last few weeks of his life.  There, I captured one of my all-time favorite photos.

The sun peaked out from behind a single solitary cloud and shed its light on the small boulevard through town and warmed our faces. As we meandered through the winding streets, I thought I heard a bike behind us, so I turned around to see that I was right. There was a bicycle but its rider had just dismounted and turned away from us to ascend the hill, leading away from town. She began to walk her bike up the hill and I fumbled for my camera, popped off my lens cap and captured a small moment of daily life.

~a small moment of daily life~

Seemingly insignificant, this photo represents what France is to me. Classy – the skirt she wore for her ordinary ride into town. Old Fashioned – a bike with a woven basket on the back. Historic – the brick wall that frames the photo. Magical – the sun shining down on her at just the right moment. Familiar – she could have been my grandmother (though I never saw her face).

When I see this photo, hundreds of questions are raised. Where was she going? Was she on her way home? If so, why was her basket empty? Was she delivering something? Bread, perhaps. Where did she live? Beyond the hill, there was a large open field that inspired many paintings from Van Gogh but no housing. Was she on a similar pilgrimage, like me, to follow in the footsteps of this tortured, talented man?

Questions, yes. But no answers, only speculations. What I do know, is that I was lucky enough to capture this small moment and catch the briefest glimpse into the daily life of a women in Auvers Sur Oise.

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