can't wait

sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself. - author unknown

i have a secret longing for the middle of nowhere. and even starting over, hence the military life and i getting along so well. and i can't wait to get back to this space.  this space (almost) in the the middle of nowhere.

in tampa, we don't camp in the summer (99 degrees with 99% humidity is rather miserable); we camp in the winter. and i ache for all that camping has to offer...

bonding as a family. away from the noise. solitude. freedom. the sounds of nature. fresh air. the smell of the woods. no obligations. no deadlines. nightly campfires. s'mores. hiking. bike riding. geo-caching. hammock resting. football throwing. book reading. wildlife. exploring. imagination and creative play. embracing dirty. overall rejuvenation. cherished time together. simple days. the memories.

these were taken back in march, on one of our camping adventures and i can't wait to get back to doing this. soon!!

yep... i can't wait. p.s. kiele was out of town during this trip.

quiet

have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully. - norton juster i've been quiet the past few months.  i needed to.  last year was amazing but i needed to digest all that happened and reflect. i needed to do some soul-searching. i needed a break. i needed to focus on my family. i needed to bring balance back into my life. i simply needed some quiet.

yes, i've been quiet... but i am here, striving to be present, fully present, each and every day!

and i wanted to share this incredibly beautiful video and the story behind it. took my breath away...

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.

hearing for the first time

i saw this video on TV the other night (can't remember what show). a 29-year-old deaf girl hearing for the first time. her mother-in-law cashed in her pension to pay for her daughter-in-laws implants.

and this morning, i learned that the story continued -- on ellen.  such a beautiful, inspiring story.  and i'm blown away how good the deaf woman's speech is...

the esteem (the device that this woman was implanted with) wasn't available when kiele was implanted.  it is a completely internal device.  kiele has an internal and external portion, which she wears behind her ear (kind of like a large hearing aid).

we love advanced bionics (the makers of kiele's cochlear implant), but having a completely internal device is awesome -- and one of the main reason's why kiele continues to not have her second ear implanted.  technology keeps improving.  hopeful that one day advanced bionics will come out with a fully implantable device.  i think it's only a matter of time -- and maybe by then, kiele will be ready for the surgery and a second implant.

this was kiele's reaction the day her cochlear implant was activated.  not quite as joyful; she was rather confused about the sound she was hearing.

i also found this video, which simulates speech and music through a variety of different channeled cochlear implants.  kiele's implant has 16 channels. it all just blows my mind!

my sweet kiele.  she amazes me each and every day...

thank goodness for the water

most who know me know that i've been having a hard time here in tampa. i really want to just pretend we're moving to germany this summer and start packing things up. but the reality is that we have no idea where steve will be stationed next and the kids and i very well could be here in tampa an extra year by ourselves, to get kiele through high school.  i'm hoping we will know something regarding steve's next assignment by december. with all of that said, one of the things that always makes my heart happy and keeps me sane while here, is shooting in the water. it feeds my soul more than i can even explain. i think about it constantly. i long for it. i ache for it.

here are some photos from an evening spent in the water, with the littles and my friend, jen, when she was visiting us a couple weeks ago from atlanta. i wanted to post these earlier, but ended up with a flu bug that kicked my butt -- and i'm still battling.  anyways...

i think it's fascinating to view our two sets of photos -- how very different the feel / mood is between our photos, yet shot together, many of the frames fired within minutes of each other...

and yes, i do think about the fact that there might not be water at steve's next assignment location, but i'll deal with that when the time comes and...probably be quickly planning my vacation trips back to tampa. lol.

i did edit some images in color. maybe i'll post those tomorrow.

what _____ looks like | month thirteen

a month of settling back at home after a very busy summer (most of it spent away), awesome friends visiting, a trip to crystal springs and LOTS of time spent in the water.  here's what august looked like... back with kiele.

hanging out at honeymoon island.

payton and the mermaid barbie she found rescued from the water.

kayaking and swimming at three sisters spring -- where the water is a constant 72 degrees and the manatees like to hang out in the winter.

the whole gang.

the security guard at our hotel, who has lived in the area his entire life, told us that three sisters spring was named that because three sisters had died there.  he shared that it was shut down for quite a while. so when editing the photo below of my friend, it kind of creeped me out to see three hands in the image (heather's plus two reflections of each hand).  but of course, it also made me love the image that much more.

twister with friends.

at our hotel.

jumping into the river, where we saw five manatee swim by.

celebrating jen's birthday.

lake time.

swimming at home.

playing in the street puddles.

me, shooting in the rain, in the street [taken by jen].

shooting in the smelly bay with jen & the littles [more photos from here coming soon].

and of course, the first day of school [taken after school].

there’s a small circle of photographers participating in this 'what ____ looks like' monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link] — starting with leah zawadzki | orange county family photographer.

at the lake

let yourself be open and life will be easier. a spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. a spoon of salt in a lake goes unnoticed. [buddha]

beyond grateful for my week in minnesota and all that it offered me...

questions & answers regarding my underwater shooting:

Q: what camera do you use? A: i shoot underwater with my D700 and 35mm f/1.8.

Q:  do you use a waterproof camera? A: i don't use a waterproof camera (refer to next Q & A).

Q:  what underwater housing do you use? A: i first purchased an equinox housing, but it was way too big and heavy, for the type of photography i was doing. i later purchased an SPL housing, which is what i am currently using.

Q: what are you able to adjust once your camera is in the housing? A: i'm able to adjust aperture and shutter speed, once my camera is in the housing.

Q: were you able to stand while shooting the lake photos? A: i was able to stand some of the time. other times i was doggy-paddling or floating in a tube (so not easy).

Q:  are you wearing any special gear or clothing during the shoot? A:  no special clothing; i wear a bikini and sometimes a rash guard. if i'm shooting in the pool and need to stay underwater, i sometimes wear a diver's weight belt (refer to next Q & A)

Q:  how do you stay down?  do you use weights in shallow water? A:  if i'm shooting underwater, in a pool, i sometimes use a diver's weight belt.  if i don't, i'm pretty quickly floating back to the surface.  when i'm shooting in the ocean or lake, no weights with me.

Q: do you use the lensbaby or filters on these shots? A: i cannot use any other camera or lens in my housing except D700 and 35mm. and no filters.

Q: how do you keep things so sharp? A: same principles apply as regular shooting (out of the water).

Q:  do you do much to your photographs post-shooting? A: no, i don't do much to my underwater photographs in post-shooting. basically just standard post-processing, similar to my regular (out-of-water) photographs. i never add any additional blur, textures, etc.

Q:  my questions are a little different as i'm interested in how you fell into this - if you are open to sharing the images that sparked the idea, any thoughts around the creative experience - roadblocks or challenges you found along the way and how you worked through those to these today.  A:  i'm not exactly sure what initially sparked my interest in underwater photography, but i do know that it wasn't images.  i think it really was just something i wanted to try. my first attempt with underwater photography took place about four years ago when i lived in san diego. i rented housing to do underwater maternity photos of a friend.  while it was definitely challenging, it was at that moment that i fell in love with underwater photography. even back then, i dreamt of shooting underwater in tampa.

it didn't take long for me to purchase underwater housing here in tampa, since we have a pool in our backyard, we're surrounded by water and it's hot as shit half of the year. and i quickly confirmed that underwater photography is not easy!! but i continued to experiment in the water -- shooting of my kids and friends in my backyard pool. recently, i moved into the ocean and then last week, i had the opportunity to shoot in a lake.  i've come to prefer the ocean and lake, to shooting within the constraints of a pool.

some of the challenges / roadblocks with underwater shooting -- it's a bit challenging to adjust settings and things on the camera are hard to see. a lot of patience is required.  i also have a problem with the 35mm lens i'm using, and when the problem occurs, i have to take apart my housing to reset the lens (very frustrating!).  the simple task of getting someone to the ocean or a lake, to shoot, is not exactly easy (i'm about 50 minutes from the ocean). and my dreads. :-) they take forever to dry, so getting them wet often can be a bit problematic.

regarding the creative experience -- for me, the creative process is the same; i shoot no differently in the water than i do out of the water (martha can attest to that, as she was with me the entire week, while at the lake in MN).  it's what's in me. it's how i shoot. it's what i see. and...it's difficult to explain.

if you look at my underwater work over the past year, it's definitely evolving and growing -- and i'm trusting. it will be interesting to see how things feel when i get back in the pool. it will be interesting to see how things continue to progress.  one thing i know is that i absolutely LOVE shooting in the water. i can't help but feel it's exactly where i'm meant to be!!

i'm not sure where the water will take me, but i'm sure enjoying the ride and oh-so-grateful!  you can see more of my recent water images HERE.

Q:  I would love to know if you are ever worried about water leaking in? A:  the first time i put my housing and camera in the water, i was a bit nervous, as i ever-so-slowly submerged it under water.  but now, i do a quick initial dunk, check if any water leaked in -- and start shooting.

+++

if you're interested in purchasing underwater housing, i highly recommend renting one  before purchasing, as many are custom-made, not returnable and NOT cheap (around $2000).  or maybe even play with an underwater disposable camera, point & shoot or casing for your phone first.  for a very casual underwater shooter, i'm not sure expensive underwater housing is the answer.  just my honest two cents.

i'm not sure where the water will take me, but i'm sure having fun and enjoying the ride!  you can see more of my in-the-water photographs HERE.

xox

deb

ETA:

Q: I am wondering what else you need besides the housing for the camera. Do you need specific rings? What if you want to use a different lens. Is it possible? Are you happy with your housing? Have you ever heard of Sea and Sea? I

i don't need anything else besides my housing. if i wanted to use a different lens, i would have to buy a different front piece for the housing, which would cost about $700. i cannot use a different camera, as my housing is designed to fit only the D700. yes, i'm happy with my housing. i have never heard of sea and sea.

what _____ looks like | month twelve

hard to believe i've been sharing these monthly posts for a full year now. although technically, this is really post eleven since i didn't share last month. BUT i think i had a pretty good excuse, being in tanzania and all -- and  i think i made up for it with my RIDETZ posts. :-) july was an exciting month for us, filled with lots of traveling: san diego, CA carson city, NV tahoe, NV san francisco, CA vegas, NV (an unplanned stay & ER visit) battle lake, MN.

we spent less than a week at home in july, which was perfectly fine by me.

what our july looked like begins at camp oma's in NEVADA...

with the cousins

my animal lover

izzy and her walking stick, on our hike

at the top

and back down again

the 1989 van

hands off

sky & great grandma mary

guitar practice

morning

TAHOE lake stop

our hotel in SAN FRANCISCO

cool paintings that filled the walls of an entire alley way

overnight at alpana's

sick at the airport causing an unexpected two-day layover stay in vegas, NEVADA

back home in TAMPA & boating with our besties

a week family vacation in MINNESOTA with martha & her family. new friends...

sometimes, but not often, cheering up was necessary

with daddy

at our cabin, which we didn't spend much time at all (thanks to martha & her fabulous family :-) )

photo shoot of ellie & sky (shooting with and styled by martha)

cabin break

paint by number

soul sisters

lots of swimming in the lake and some super fun time shooting in the water.  a separate post on that coming soon.

there’s a small circle of photographers participating in this what ____ looks like monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link] — starting with stephanie moore | tucson family photographer.

and with that, i say good day and...

an evening in the water

last weekend, our dear friends asked us if we'd like to go out on their boat with them.  we absolutely love spending time with the skubins, so of course, our answer was an overwhelming yes, yes, YES!!  having not shot underwater for quite a while, i decided to bring my D700 and underwater housing with me.  it was different than what i'm used to (shooting in my pool) but i loved it just as much.  there's something about shooting in the water that so resonates with and speaks to me.  i don't think i could ever get enough of it (except for dealing with my wet dreads).  lucky for me, we're headed to MN for a week -- to a cabin on a lake, where i'm connecting with the amazing  martha (of i see the moon photography). martha and i dream and talk about lots of shooting together, including underwater.  :-) and i so cannot wait!!! here's a few of my favorites from our amazing evening together just off of our (almost) private island...

ETA:  nothing like just finding out that tropical storm debby is continuing to leave her mark in the pinellas county waters.  the pinellas health department just issued a health advisory declaring that the waters at five popular beaches are a potential health risk because of high bacteria counts.  why? because of...

FECAL MATTER that was washed from the land into the gulf.

OMG, how gross!  of course, the waters we were in is one of the affected areas.  yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck!

 

wild & free

if one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams,and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. [henry david thoreau] a new favorite photo. :-)

i hope i never forget to live deliberately -- wild and free...

and i couldn't help but fall in love with these words of henry david thoreau...

...be yourself -- not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.

i went to the woods because i wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if i could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when i came to die, discover that i had not lived. i did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did i wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. i wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.

what _____ looks like | month ten

wow! hard to believe that it's been 10 months that i've been working on this monthly project.  beyond grateful to those who invited me to participate. without further ado, THIS is a bit of what our may looked like...

a san diego business trip, shooting portrait clients and an editorial

two of my most favorite people in the world

joey's last photo :-(

me...right before dropping my camera and smashing this lens

a gymnastics meet

hearing for the FIRST TIME, while in the water

lots of swimming

a star student

favorite color: green favorite book: hop on pop favorite movie: avengers favorite sport: soccer when i grow up, i want to be: a zoo keeper i'm special because: i am nice favorite food: popcorn i have a pet: 2 pets -- a fish and a dog the person i most admire is: my mom and dad my favorite school subject: math

a brave little girl, who got seven shots, 6 scrapings and a mole biopsy

and a bunch of everyday life, which so often revolves around our living room.

there’s a small circle of photographers participating in this what ____ looks like monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link] -- starting with stephanie moore | tucson family photographer.

 

let your dreams fly free

most people never run far enough on their first wind,to find out if they've got a second. give your dreams all you've got, and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you. [william james]

this is what i came home to yesterday...

KIELE:  mom, can i show you something? ME:  sure, what? KIELE:  you have to come in my room. ME: okay, what?

and she brought me into her room to see what she had drawn, cut and taped up on her wall...

sigh -- i love this child and the magical soul that she is.  she's taught me a lot over the years, that's for sure.

ETA: she told me today what she wants for her birthday (may 3rd) -- a vintage bird cage from the store down the street so that she can put it on top of her art cabinet (underneath her LET YOUR DREAMS FLY FREE).

what ____ looks like | month seven

where has february gone?  it seems to have just flown by.  but i guess, really, every month seems to feel that way.  here's a bit of what our everyday-kind-of-days in february looks looked like... as with every month, four trips to the horse farm / petting zoo.  always a new friend or two. and many old friends.

the new barn kitten had an eye infection, but my kids loved all over him anyways. and a rat got loose but didn't go far from his hairless friend.

fighting for attention.

falling off the new horse.

and bravely getting right back on.

barn windows.

the reptile room -- one of his favorites.

tire swing at the farm.

his new walking path.

 

feeding.

the aviary.

my boy.

dirty feet -- more often than not.

boat ride with friends.

seeing dolphin along the way.

our almost-private island.

heading home.

hands off!

a visit with jen.

and shooting with jen.

one minute up | the next minute upside-down.

sky and ryder with my camera.

twisted.

few quick photos during our shoot.

balancing act.

trip to the state fair.

building the snail a home of shells.

which ended with the boy yelling in the girl's ear and the girl giving a throat punch.

after gymnastics.

portraits with my new lens.

chicken, for the school 'moosical'.

his first speaking line -- "but others are boiled and made into chicken soup...buccbuuuuuuk."

the gift she made her best friend, using the separation of cool and warm colors.

peace.

there’s a circle of 12 photographers participating in this what ____ looks like monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link]. next up… chubby cheek photography | child photographer.

how we roll

this is how we roll in this family...

have been wanting to try an animated image for quite some time now. and just happened to take these of skyler, at my in-laws house over the holidays. we seem to find her rolling, swinging, flipping much of every day.

hope you're having a great weekend!

be present

where are you? what are you doing? do you know what you want? are you listening? pay attention. stay focused. stop looking at your phone and computer. turn them off. put them away. be here. now. in the present. be with who you're with. talk with them. live with them. take some time. think. do you understand who you are? what you were called to do? pause. take it all in. what is your community? who is your community? what does local mean to you? do you have a presence? if you left your community, would you leave a mark? lead in the place you're called to. don't worry about the past. the future will come later. it's all about now. here. go all in. be rooted. when you're home, be home. focus. look at the big picture. be present. - adapted from a 'catalyst' mailer

19-jan-12-11-Edit

i received the above quote in an email the other day, from hands & voices, a non-profit deaf | hard-of-hearing organization.  and it basically stopped me in my tracks. i read it. and re-read it. and read it again. and it's had me thinking ever since. i long to be present -- i mean REALLY present -- in my life, in the lives of those i love and care about, and in all that i do. i think being truly present is such a gift. and something i will be vigorously striving for in 2012.

are you present?

i love you...

after weeks of cutting out letters and words, my kids and i made this the other night -- an 'i love you' collage on a 20x20 canvas. and i love it so!

originally inspired by this 'i love you' collage

next, i'm going to make the 'I WILL SURVIVE' pot from this post.

ETA:  i've been getting some questions regarding how i made my 'i love you' collage.  so, here's what i did...

i started with a 20x20 canvas purchased from michaels. i didn't want the background stark white so we painted it a light beige. then the kids and i spent weeks cutting out letters from magazines, junk mail, etc. -- all shapes and sizes. to place the letters, i painted a layer of modge podge and then began sticking 'i love you' letters and words. the hard part is making sure that a complete word goes all the way to the edge, so begin thinking about this when you get close. once i had a few rows done, i modge podged on top of the letters. once the entire collage was done, i did a final two layers of modge podge on the entire thing. note: we were very low on Vs and Ys and had to do some more cutting of those letters. it was quite a time consuming but worth every minute!! it was super fun seeing how creative the kids got with the letter cutting -- a dragon's tail became a letter O, an eye became a letter I.

family favs | 2011

sharing some favorites of my kids from this past year.  my goal was to narrow it down to 20 images; however, i didn't quite make it.  28 images | 35 photographs...

one of the best changes i made with my photography in 2011 was to take more everyday photos of my kids.  i plan on doing even better in 2012.

it's that time of year

...to finish and upload my family's annual book. makes me teary as i look through our family photos from this past year and put together our book. and i so love that my kids look through the books over and over again, giggling as they flip through the previous years' books.  they just happened to be flipping through the books today -- showing me all the pages that bring back memories or simply make them laugh. :-) mmmm...i treasure these books more than i can even express. worth every bit of time it takes to make them!! not to mention, they make fabulous christmas gifts too.

here's this year's layout...

[larger version HERE]

and here's a few of my favorite page spreads...

makes my heart so very happy!!!

so thankful

being military and living wherever the military sends us, we rarely are surrounded by family during the thanksgiving holiday. i actually can't remember the last time i saw family at thanksgiving [probably in my 20s]. but we almost always have invitations from friends [often our military family] on thanksgiving day. this year was no different -- loving friends opening their hearts and homes to us, for thanksgiving dinner. BUT we declined those invitations because we thought we were going to spend the day at disney world.  UNTIL we learned that even thanksgiving day itself is one of the busiest days of the year at disney. so very last minute, we decided to do a simple thanksgiving late-lunch [turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, strawberry jello salad and pumpkin pie] at home, followed by a movie [hugo to be exact]. we are so blessed and fortunate. and i am so thankful...

for every little bit i've been blessed with.

wishing you all a very happy thanksgiving -- surrounded by and doing whatever you love and choose to do on this day of celebration and gratitude.

thank YOU! xo

what ____ looks like | month two

since i was traveling (shooting in san diego and chicago) the first two weeks of september, here's what 12 days in september looks like... hanging out at the (closed) golf course.

new bikes.

purging and the birth of a growing goodwill pile.

TV trance.

the build-a-bear bed that charley loves to sleep in (even though he's way too big for it).

more new friends at the horse farm.

goofing around (until someone usually gets hurt).

a few of her drawing spaces.

the joy of handmade cards.

his bottom bunk and hanging animal friends.

her taped american flag. and the surprise gifts she leaves me, which i love so much (even if his eye keeps falling off).

fun at a friend's birthday party.

if you're not familiar with the project, here's the initial post with a bit of an explanation.  there's a total of 12 of us participating in "what _____ looks like". i hope you’ll now head on over to stephanie's blog to see what she shared this month — stephanie moore | tucson family photographer. and if you're playing along with us or have your own monthly project, please share your link in a comment.  i'd love to follow your project too.  :-))

ETA: i just got out of the shower and this is how i found the littles, watching TV, of course. couldn't help but add it to my 'what 12 days in september looks like'.