2013 will be known as the year I got 12 months behind in my personal photo editing. I photographed four weddings and countless other photo sessions. The year is a mist of late nights with photoshop, and somehow I managed to have a regular life at the same time. As I emerge from the fog into 2014, I can finally look back and see what things happened throughout the year! One of the most fun things were the births of five goat kids on our little hobby farm. The first ones were twin pygora goats, a doeling and buckling, named Starlight and Orion. These are my favorite pictures of that sunny day in April when they were born.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Monday, December 23, 2013
Here's the thoughtful part of our annual Christmas letter. Usually I try to do this strange meshing of the newsyness of our year and the philosophical types of thoughts that inevitably run through my head at this time of year, and I was too tired, because man, I stayed up until 4:30AM wrapping presents with my dear friend Josie, and that is too hard for my brain. So here's the thoughtful part of the letter, minus the newsy part. You can read the newsy part if you're lucky enough to be on my Christmas email list or actual mail list. :)
Christmas Letter 2013
This past year has been one immersed in imagery and symbolism for me as my photography business, Slow Lane Images, has decided to keep me very busy. For one who has, since a young age, been very used to communicating with words in print, it is fascinating to me to work instead almost entirely in pictures. Last year, I stayed up until the wee hours of the night writing in my blog, and this year, it was endless clicking and zooming in on Photoshop documents that created the blue late night glow from my windows.
I can understand a bit of what the software developers must experience as they develop their new language of pictographs. For them, a series of sentences must be distilled into one simple shape. In portraits, the placement of a hand can imply great love or subtle tension, and I must be careful to decide what each image wants to say. It is strange to put so much thought and time into something that represents 1/320th of a second, but I have come to love this challenge to attempt to accurately represent so much within the confines of a simple rectangle.
There is, however an uneasiness that is ever present in working in this way. It is easy to begin to see everything as simply packaged and to forget the depth of meaning that brought us to this place. A scroll past a beautiful photograph, a +1 or "like," and soon it is forgotten. A simple click of a picture calls my friend, and I don't even have to know her phone number. Here is where it seems very important to be countercultural. Instead of a scroll through Facebook, how about a conversation with my husband? Instead of a Youtube documentary, how about some rich Wendell Berry poetry? These advances are earth shattering. They are wonderful and fearful all at the same time. We won't need book burnings like in Fahrenheit 451, no. We have the internet. I say these things mostly to myself, but also out loud too, because I think they are important to remember.
And now, at Christmas time, I want to remember that baby Jesus is more than a symbol. He is not just the cute and roly-poly Little People toy in our nativity set, not a myth created to represent purity and redemption. I want to remember that Jesus is the small child, but also that he is also the Teacher, the Friend, and Savior to whom, in spite of all my doubts, I cry out directly to in my darkest times. He is more than an icon, and He loves with a love that is wider than I can understand or portray. This…to remember the mystery and wonder behind all the things that have become maybe just a little too simple…to remember to cherish real conversation and complex texts and the story behind a work of art. This is my challenge for the year ahead.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Today I thought I'd try to check out other plans on #WaHealthplanfinder.com because I talked to my current health insurance company and found the new plan I'll have to go on to be unsatisfactory. They told me I might want to check out the government website to see if something else might work better for us. The pictures above are screen shots of what I got when i tried to log into their website.
I called my insurance plan and asked for comparisons between the new government mandated plan and the old plan I had. I had and HSA Catastrophic 4000 plan with Group Health at $691 per month and will be required to buy the ACA Bronze plan at $802.58 per month. My family deductible under the new plan has doubled from $4000 to $8000. My out of pocket limit has gone up from 12,100 to 12,700. We have 5 children.
For the additional $111.58 per month, and $4000 per year in deductible and $600 in out of pocket expenses, here's what I get.
1) Maternity care. No more babies here. Sorry.
2) Prescription drug coverage...yay! Wait, no, only after you pay the $8000 deductible
3) Annual Pediatric dental exams.--this is actually nice. We pay for a separate plan through Washington Dental Service, which means we can bill this plan for the annual exams and "save" a little bit....if they cover our dentist.
4) Annual Pediatric vision exams and one pair of glasses....this is very awesome because I have one kid who wears glasses. Not sure if it covers contacts. We can transfer that cost over to what we pay for this plan.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Through the strange phenomenon of noise canceling headphones, earbuds and pbskids.org, I sometimes find myself in a house filled with both people and silence at the same time. I wrote this after reading some Wendell Berry poetry from his Timbered Choir seried of poems. He says at the beginning of the book that it is good to read the series of poems in a quiet place, like the woods where they were written. And yet tonight I stood in the center of my kitchen surrounded, but very much in solitude.
the quiet noise,
at the center
of my hearth.
a beginning of
Thursday, October 17, 2013
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
This poem...I had never heard it before, and yet it resonated with the chord my heart was playing just last night. I could feel the despair setting in...had I released my children into this world too soon? We home-schooled exclusively for nine years. Last year, the two eldest children went off to middle school, and this year our ten year old is in a local elementary school. Just the youngest girls remain at home for the day with me.
The past two years have been punctuated by times of deep mourning for the times we had all together. It feels like my family is split into tiny pieces throughout the day. Sometimes my heart can't bear the feeling of being in so many places at once and I crumble inside.
And yet this time has also been permeated by a deep sense of peace; an understanding that only comes from resting in the truth that my children are cared for and loved... not just by me, but by God, family, friends, neighbors, teachers, 4H leaders, sunday school teachers, mentors. The ripples just keep going wider and wider. I was not given these children to clutch tightly to me like a baby's blanket. I am not meant to hide them in a fortress or stubbornly cling to my need to provide, even as I am depleted and weary.
Have I prepared them well enough? Can one ever really be prepared enough for anything? Maybe equipped is a better word. A bird does not prepare himself for the day ahead, worrying about where he will find this worm or whether the raindrops will hinder his flight. Instead, he is diligent as he searches for food he does not doubt he will find and is confident in the downy fluff that keeps him dry and warm. This kind of confidence is what I have seen growing inside my children as they move out of the comforts of our home into the unpredictability of life.
And so today, as I sat with my friends, drank coffee, talked about children and homeschooling and our youth and the state of the world in general... as I stood with them and husked the most beautiful corn I have ever seen...I rested.
I rested in the same grace that Wendell Berry must have felt as he lay there near the water. We marveled together at each individual kernel of this rare heirloom variety of corn known as "Glass Gem." We noticed the spot on each kernel where the silk had been. It reminded me a bit of a child's belly button!
There were ears as blue as a pair of Levi jeans, and others more beautiful than the most brilliant rocks found along the shores of the Sound. Each kernel glowed with a potential and hope that inspired thankfulness in my heart for a Creator who cares enough to make light and color, texture and taste, and a capacity within us all to love all of it.
And I knew that my heart might not feel any different. It will occasionally feel defeated, lonely and despairing as life changes around me and my children walk their various paths in life. More often though, it will beat steadily within as I move forward in the faith it takes daily to get out of bed and do the day's duties. And sometimes it will occasionally skip a beat with the kind of joy, wonder and anticipation a beautiful little glass gem seed can inspire as I see them reach the potential I saw gleaming in their eyes as toddlers. This means that I can sit beside my husband, nestling my head into his shoulder at the end of each day and have true peace.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
It had been thirteen years since my last trip to see family in Indiana. At that time, I had only one child. Four children later, and with my grandpa around 87 years old, I realized it was about time I got out there and reconnected with everyone. Thankfully, my parents were going too, so we ended up having two family reunions.
We stayed with my grandpa and his sweet wife, Fran. They were so gracious to let us invade their peaceful lives with our intensely chaotic visiting and touring around. That couch grandpa and Dad are sitting on was my bed! It was an emotional time for me too, because my grandma had passed away suddenly just a few months after my last visit.
To see my grandpa's face... to hear his voice as he talked with my dad about just anything that came to their minds...this made my heart very happy, and the sadness at grandma's absence lessened some. I had been so frantic to soak up every bit of family history that was in that place, but soon I realized that I simply needed to relax in the joyful reality of this father and son reunion I was witnessing.
It was in this moment that I remembered the deep blessing it is to have a dad and grandpa who have a special connection with one another, and in turn with me. Thank you dad and grandpa, and happy father's day. Your example of faithfulness to your families reminds me in turn of God's faithfulness to all of us.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
This is one of the small joys in life: sitting in the passenger seat. My husband was driving us into town on a road I always drive, but this time I finally was able to take a picture of the cottonwood tree I always admire. It is beautiful without leaves in the winter, and when the salmon are running we have seen countless eagles in it. I have seen its silhouette against many sunsets. Yesterday it was just these beautiful clouds that caught my attention. Right now, the fluffy cotton like seeds of the cottonwood are blowing everywhere, and it's like snow in spring time and every place around them looks a little bit magical. Of course, if you're a child, you must gather big handfuls up, take a deep breath send them back into the breeze.