Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beautiful Baby K

I've been taking pictures of newborns long enough now that I'm on the second baby for several families, and this is the case with this little sweetheart. I took her older brother about 2 1/2 years ago, and it's fun to look back and realize that I am getting better over time - thankfully!

Little miss Karsi (her older siblings made up her name) was about a week old or maybe 10 days in these shots. Her mom told me what a set of lungs she has, but she must have liked having her picture taken because she slept through the whole session with me - no matter how I positioned her. Or maybe it was because my house was so hot!

Anyway.... I have color versions of all of these, but for some reason I was in the mood tonight to post all the black and whites. They just seem to work with her dark hair.

She was kind of surprise baby - she's number 8, and they didn't plan her. But it never ceases to amaze me how whenever a family gets the gift of a surprise addition, they don't know what they'd ever do without them.

Would you want to give this kiddo back?

Me neither.

And here's one in color - a tail end bonus, if you will. Just like Miss Karsi.

A Different Kind of Drug Problem

I have read this a couple of times, it was recently sent to me by a friend and it really resonates with me. The picture is me and my siblings when we lived in Montana - back in the days when we were drug to church, drug out to help in the garden, drug in to help with the dishes.....

"The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a met amphetamine lab had been found in an old farm house in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question, ”Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?”

I replied: ”But I did have a drug problem when I wuz a kid growing up on the farm.” I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for
weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.

I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher. Or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me. I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profane four letter word. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and cockleburs out of dad’s fields.

I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline or chop some fire wood. And if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the wood shed.

Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin, and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America might be a better place today."

- Author unknown

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Today was a very sad day for our family, and for Brynn and me especially. Today we lost our sweet Penny pony girl. She and her buddy, Patty, were on pasture across town. I drove past and looked at them yesterday, but today, right in the middle of being totally engrossed in a project, I had a strong feeling I should go check on them. I dropped what I was doing and drove the 5 blocks to their pasture with a sinking feeling that something was wrong.

When I got there, Patty whinnied and trotted over to greet me, acting a little upset, but Penny was nowhere in sight. As I started to walk the pasture, looking behind trees and around corners, Patty followed me, but kept looking toward the back corner of the pasture where a large apple tree was. I went back there, half knowing what I would find, but hoping for the best, and there she was. It looked like she'd gone down without a struggle, and hadn't been there very long, but there was no light in her eyes and I knew she was gone.

What a loss to our family! We got Penny almost 4 years ago as she was being retired from a dude string in Arizona. Our vet looked at her teeth and told us she was probably around 23 years old - just the perfect age and experience level for our 5 year old little girl. She was a little beat up, and somewhat jaded toward people, but was such a sweet, safe, kind old girl that we instantly fell in love.

(photo taken 11/05)

Over the last 4 years, we've just come to love Penny more and more. With her smooth gaits and quiet nature, she was the perfect choice to teach many beginners how to ride and babysit visiting cousins. She helped Brynn gain so much confidence, we always knew Penny would never hurt her, and she never did. If we could custom design the perfect horse for our little girl to start with, we couldn't have done any better than Penny.

The first years we had her, she wasn't very friendly and at first she wouldn't even take treats out of our hands. But I think she could feel how much we loved and appreciated her, because after a while, she came to us in the pasture, learned to love treats (though she ALWAYS took them politely, of course) and even began liking belly scratches in the summer time.

And we'd like to think her final years with us were happy ones. We took good care of her feet, bought her suppliments when she started to show her age a little, got a special pad and saddle for her saggy back, fixed her teeth, and saved her the best hay and cookies.

And never was a pony more loved by her little girl.........

(photos take 7/07)

Unless it was by that little girl's mom, who, understanding how dangerous horses can be, fully appreciated a horse who was as safe as horses can possibly be and who watched over her child.

We love you, Penny. We don't know what we'll do without you. You're irreplaceable.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Savannah and the "nifty fifty" lens

I got a call the other day to take some pictures of Miss Savannah. I was very excited to do them because she's grown into such a gorgeous young thing. She was about 6 years old when I got married and moved here and now she's a senior and ready to graduate.

She's not only beautiful, she's super nice to everyone, makes great brownies and is also the student body president. (My Marty was also student body president here in his day.)

My friend, Nanette, lent me her 50mm prime lens to play with for a little while and this session was the first time I've used it. And, dang, now I MUST have one!

Just look at that delish bokeh! (blurred out background)

Isn't she gorgeous?! We'd have to hate her if she weren't such a sweetheart.

We had a great time and were shady and cool in her grandma's lovely yard. I haven't even finished editing yet, but was excited to share these. She was so natural and comfortable in front of the camera that they were all keepers.

Young people like this renew my faith in teenager kind.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Graduate

My baby has graduated (sniff) from Kindergarten.

How cute is this video of him marching up the aisle (a little unconfidently) ?!

The graduation ceremony was so cute, really entertaining and only about 30 minutes long. They recited poems, sang several songs, did the hokey-pokey and of course had cookies at the end.

Each little graduate came forward and received their diploma, although Lukie doesn't look too thrilled about something - being in front of all of us, having to hug his teacher, having to leave Kindergarten... who knows what goes through the mind of a 5 year old?

One of my favorite things was the adorable silhouettes they'd made of each kiddo and then hung them up on the stage curtain in a collage. The parents were supposed to pick out which kid was their's - we picked out Luke's pretty easily (it was obviously made when his hair was a little shaggier) but some of the parents couldn't pick their kids.

(And here's Ruger pointing his out to his parents.)

But what a great idea, I totally love it. Such a keepsake.

He was very excited that they gave him a green robe, because green's his favorite color. And he looked so handsome in it!

And a little goofy.

My baby.........

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nature In It's Finest Form

Pat Parelli, my horsemanship guru, says that horses are "nature in it's finest form", and of course I totally agree.

Today I took my 4 year old colt, Phoenix - of the barrel rolling fame - to live in my friend, Linda's, pasture for a month. Because frankly, he's bored here at home - the barrels just aren't cutting it anymore. I should be giving him a job - namely, learning to pack me around - but we're not going to have time in the next few weeks, so I thought he might as well go and torment Linda's three pastured horses for a while.

That's him on the left.

Running for his life.

Well, not really, they actually got along much better than I'd expected.

I for sure wasn't going to leave my camera at home because anytime you introduce new horses into a group you're bound to wind up with lots of exciting horse photo opportunities. Like this....

(notice all 4 feet off the ground on both Phoenix and Bo - wahooo!)

Linda has been wanting me to take pictures of her horses for a couple of years now, so it was fun to get a few shots of her "kids" - Whitty and Slurpee and Bo.

Linda, I hope you're reading my blog! (She never reads my blog.)

Isn't this one fun?! That Bo is such a handsome feller - and he's a really good boy too, which makes him even handsomer. You know, handsome is as handsome does.

And the girls aren't bad either....

That big girl on the left is Slurpee - Linda adopted her from the Sanctuary where we work. When she first came in and I found out her name was Slurpee I immediately wanted to change it. And then I got to know her. And she is such a big Twerpee Lurpee Glurpee that Slurpee is the perfect name for her.

And she is HUGE! Last time we officially measured her she was 17.1 hands high. And she may very well have grown a little since then. For those of you who don't understand horse speak, 17.1 hh translates to 69" tall at her withers - or the base of her neck where it joins into her back. That's a big horse, people.

Especially when she's galloping straight toward you and doesn't look like she's going to swerve. I was buzzed by a giant Slurpee 4 times today! Whew, I'm sure it took at least 16 hours off my life.

She doesn't look that big in the pictures because all three of these other horses are actually quite tall. My little Phoenix baby boy is 16.1 or 16.2 hh, which is like 5 and a half feet tall at his withers. I'm talking a long way to fall off when he's doing things like this:

And especially this:

(Can you spot the Giant Slurpee moose in the photo? Whitty is the one in the middle, she's a large, Thoroughbred ex-racehorse. And there's my sexy truck!)

It went well, thank goodness, nobody got mangled. It didn't hurt that the girls were in heat and thought Pheenie was there to see them. (That last photo reminds me a little of the old Pepe Le Pew cartoons - only more pursuers and a gender role reversal.)

And here's one last one for Linda (although she probably won't see it) - good ol' Bo Bo.

I'm tellin' ya, there's nothing lovlier than a horse.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Invisible Mothers

This is a short story that my mom sent to me for Mother's Day:

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible - The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.

"Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?"

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'

I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'

I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner,celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built,
and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man,
'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof?
No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

My Angel Mother

" All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my
angel Mother" ~ Abraham Lincoln

That is one of my all time favorite quotes, and this is my favorite picture of my own angel mother. Isn't she lovely? (And, yes, that chubby little baby is me.)

I'm one of those lucky people who have a true saint for a mother. She is the most pure in heart person I know. She is humble, selfless and close to the spirit. She was the perfect parenting model - even though I'm afraid it didn't take too well with me - she was tough, but extremely nurturing. She was strict but loved us unconditionally. We could always talk to her and come to her with our problems - she was our safe place to fall. She always had great advice and the perfect quote for any occasion.

When I was growing up, my mother always hated Mother's Day. She said she didn't deserve to be honored, that she felt inadequate as a mother, which was a complete mystery to me at the time - even as a kid, I knew she was an exceptionally good mother. But of course, now that I'm a mother I understand why a mother would feel that way.

My mother is an eternal optimist, she can find the bright side to virtually any situation. My mom is a full time college professor as well as a full time caregiver to my dad who's had both legs amputated due to diabetes and is on dialysis and has lost much of his sight. When I called recently to tell her about my own diabetes diagnosis, she cried a little and then asked me why I wasn't more upset. And I said, "There's no situation so bad that whining about it can't make it worse (Elder Jeffrey Holland) -- I learned that from my mother".

She perked right up and came back with, "The best way to live a long, healthy life is to have a chronic disease and take good care of it". ( - J. Golden Kimball)

And I thought, "Yep, thatta girl, that's the mom I know."

In all things, I strive to be more like her. I can't ever thank her enough for being such a good example of motherhood, my spiritual mentor and model of the kind of human being I want to be.

I love you mom. Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phoenix, the Playful Punk!

I took this video of Phoenix the other day. He is demonstrating the epitome of what Parellis would call a Left Brain Extrovert. AKA a horse with a very high playdrive.

click her to see Phoenix rolling a barrel on Youtube.

Ya think?

The Story of Phoenix

Once upon a time, there was a lovely Thoroughbred mare named Riel Anna. She was a broodmare by trade, but after a few years, her aged owner decided to sell off his herd and Anna was scheduled to be taken to auction. A young couple came along (us) and decided that she was too nice of a horse to end up being hamburger, so they bought her and took her home. She was pretty shy and her feet, teeth and uterus needed serious help, but they fixed her up and very quickly, she became a calm, dependable horse who was delightful to have around and wonderful to ride.

A few years went by and we, her family, decided to breed Anna to a fancy Hanoverian stallion by the name of Paganini.
Anna liked him quite a bit (isn't he handsome?!) and got pregnant right away. She had a perfect pregnancy and seemed to feel better than ever - bucking and running around and even getting chubby in her cheeks. But when the time came to have her baby, she didn't.

Pretty soon she was a week overdue and still hadn't had that baby. When she was 2 weeks overdue and getting quite uncomfortable, we began to be pretty concerned about her. During this time, she was also getting a bit lame in one front foot. Finally, she was discovered one day with 2 rather large feet poking out of her back end - yay, a baby, it was about time! But poor Anna didn't seem to be able to push that monster baby out. After consulting with the vet over the phone (he was about 4 hours away at the time), we reached inside Anna and found that the legs poking out were actually hind legs. Oh no! Not good - a breach presentation! Anna was so miserable that she kept getting up and down and we finally had to lay on her neck to keep her down while two helpers (thanks Jen and Leon!) each grabbed a baby leg and helped to pull that little bugger out.

It was a boy! And he was huge! His mother was pretty happy to see him safe and sound, as were we all. He got up right away and went to nursing. He was so tall that his hip came up to my hip bone (and I'm 5' 10" with very long legs.)

In the Hanoverian breed, it is traditional to name the foal with the first letter of the sire's name. We decided to name our new little boy Phoenix hoping that he would rise from the ashes of his traumatic start in life and go on to become a great horse.

He was a cute, bouncy, friendly little foal and loved to play with the kids and run around like a whirling dervish. We really enjoyed having him around and teaching him new things.

But the sad part of our story didn't end there. As it turned out, our poor Anna had a terrible abcess in her foot that refused to go away or get better. But even though she was sick, she was such an amazing Mama! It really touched me to watch them together.

Phoenix had to learn to nurse while his Mama was lying down and be careful and considerate of her. I think he was a great comfort to her in her pain.

We did everything we knew how to do for her - soaking, injecting antibiotics straight into the vein of her lower leg, consulting with experts from across the country - but she just got sicker and lamer and finally got to the point where she could barely stand at all, and no amount of pain medications were helping. We found that the infection had gone into the internal structures of her foot and leg. When Phoenix was 2 months old, we finally had to put his poor, sweet mama out of her misery.

Phoenix had some big boy teeth by this time and was able to eat milk replacer pellets along with cubes and hay. We put him with our 22 year old gelding, Rocky, who was a perfect mentor and babysitter.

He grew and grew, and ran and ran. He jumped and spun and flew everywhere he went. When he was 10 weeks old, he was trailered for the first time (no sweat) and went to a Natural Balance Hoof Clinic and was trimmed by Gene Ovnicek himself! And he was so good to be trimmed, I thought I'd die of pride.

When he was about 4 months old, he marched in our 4th of July parade with his mentor, Rocky, and carried the sign for our family entry. He was so brave about all the sights, noises, water truck, firecrackers, flags and every other scary thing we encountered that day.

But his story doesn't end there. He got to go to Sink Valley and live on a huge pasture. He grew, and grew and grew and is now a big, tall, gangly young 4 year old, ready to be ridden and move on with the rest of his life. .

Stay tuned for more exciting chapters of Phoenix' story.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Brew and Ebbony

The other night, I got the chance to take some more engagement photos. In fact, this is the brother of the last groom I took - although you'd never know by looking at them! The lovely bride is a member of a family I took a few months ago, so it's nice to have repeat customers!

They did so great that we ended up with lots of nice ones - these are a few favorites that I've edited so far.

We went down by a family pond for the first bunch and then drove into town and found a pretty, flowering tree and some green grass for the others. Then, once we finally let Brew put his hat on, we went back to the pond for some more.

Ebbony has the prettiest lips, I can't get over them, they're absolutely perfect! She also has a very pretty nose, eyes and profile, so that makes for fun pictures.

(Hope I'm not embarassing you, Ebbony, but on this blog, honestly reigns. See previous post for proof. :))

Brew, you were a good sport, and it warmed the cockles of my heart to hear all the nice things you kept saying to your bride to be.

I'm so happy for you guys! Thanks for letting me be a part of your wedding plans, I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

I wish you every happiness.

My favorite: