I’m Moving!

WordPress has been my blog home for over a year now, and it has been a wonderful place to be. But it is time for me to move my blog to her new home as soon I will be officially launching Nicole McArthur Photography. I am so completely nervous about putting myself out there. Up until now, my blog has been visited only by friends, family, family of friends… And once my website goes live, my photography will be on display for all to see. And I am terrified that strangers won’t get me. So when that feeling of imminent failure turns my stomach in knots, I go to my freezer. Not for ice cream, but for this:

This is a page from the Professional Photographers of America magazine. I came home one day and found it stuck on the freezer door. My amazing and supportive husband was thumbing through my magazine (which is totally funny because he reads things like “Feedstuffs” and “Guns and Ammo”) and he found this page. He tore it from the magazine and highlighted a few words with his Sharpie pen. If you know Gary, you know that he is a total smartass. When it comes to photography, he wastes no time in razzing me about my obsession interest. So for Gary to take this out of a magazine, one that I can’t believe he took the time to look through, is a tremendous gesture of faith and support.

Without further adieu, I give you the address of my new blog: www.nicoleslittleblog.blogspot.com. It is super cute thanks to the always wonderful and fabulous Christina Blankenship who designed it for me. I hope that you will stop by and visit us as it is always nice to see old friends.

Something to consider…

I love taking photos… LOVE LOVE LOVE taking photos! Mostly because I love the idea of stopping time, preserving a perfect moment so I will never forget every last detail. And the nice thing about taking the photos is that I am never in the photos. And as much as I hate to look at photos of me, I make certain to insert myself on occasion.

Take for instance my trip to visit my parents. My sister and her son were there, too. It was not easy getting 3 small children, around nap time, to be in one place at one time. But we managed. And 2 of 3 children were even looking at the camera!

The Blackmer family

And there is the day before Mother’s Day. I figured “hey! It’s my day, I should at least be in one photo with my family!”. I took about 10 different shots with my camera on my tripod, and I was critical of every single one. Of all those shots, this is the one I liked the best:

Me and my family

I posted it on my Nicole McArthur Photography page on Facebook and  received some very nice comments on it. But after reading a post on this photography blog, I ordered a print.

So I urge you: take some pictures of you with your family. Set your camera on a table and use the self-timer, hand your camera to a friend, or even a stranger… whatever the means, get a family picture. Six months, 12 months, 10 years from now… you’ll be glad you did!

Happy Mother’s Day

My daughters are so sweet! They sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day with a card that read:

“Thanks for waking up at all hours of the night and giving us milk and a dry diaper. Chloe and Ella”

Best Mother’s Day present EVER!

And a special thank you to daddy, who helped the girls dial the florist and type the card. And I’m pretty sure he let them borrow the credit card, too.

I love you Chloe, Ella and Gary.

Apologies from a bad sister/aunt

I owe my sister and her son a huge apology. When visiting with my family last week, I wasn’t the most sociable person. As I initially reflected upon the visit, I blamed my hermit-like behavior on the fact that I was suffering from a severe case of mommy burnout. All the noise and activity associated with 3 small children was enough to put me on overload. I was content to let the grandparents monitor my kids as I was glued to either my camera or my computer. And I chastised myself the entire drive home for being such a party pooper. Because I see my sister once or twice a year.  And on this visit, I blew it.

Then yesterday I had an epiphany… one that would explain my bad behavior. Note I did not say excuse my bad behavior. I realized something about myself: my memories are stored in the form of pictures. Somewhere in my brain is a lobe that resembles a Creative Memories album on steroids. Which explains my obsession fascination with photography. As I probed further, I realized that my memories are intricately tied to visual images, a sort of mental snapshot of the events in my life. I rely on photographs to serve as my memory. Because I am terrified that my brain will fail me and I will forget the important, and not-so-important, pieces that are all a part of my history.

And that is why I love taking photographs. Because they are a record of who we are, a way to capture all of the tiny little details that make us unique. As memories fade, which they always do… photographs are often our only reminder of the way things were.

Christina and Luke, I am sorry that I did not hang out with you more while we were at mom and dad’s last week. Just so you know, I was there, paying attention. I soaked in everything. And the way that I do that best is with my camera. Would you like to see how I will always remember Luke on this trip?

We’ll start first with a few images of Luke with my daughters. Chloe referred to him as “that kid” and then eventually “my cousin”. And while Ella is too young to comment much on life, I could tell that she enjoyed the influence of her big cousin.

A rare, quiet moment

Kickin' it by the pool

I wonder what a 2 and 3 year old contemplate while dipping their feet in the pool… You know what memories this photo will trigger for me? First, the awesomeness that is my mother-in-law. I asked her to make Chloe a little kerchief to wear in her hair and she sews a beautiful headband that Anthropologie would kill to get their hands on (sorry – I don’t have any photos that do it justice). And second, which is not really visible in this photo, that Luke spent most of this morning running around the pool without his pants. Or diaper. I have two girls and I must admit, I was disarmed by the presence of his little winkie. But I suppose boys will be boys. And I’m sure that Christina got a good laugh out of Luke freaking out his aunt and grandparents.

Ella gets a lesson from Luke

This kid has an arm! He stood atop of these rocks and zinged them right into the stream, one right after the other. Can you see how impressed my little Ella is? I was just happy that he didn’t hit my lens with one of those rocks! Mark my words… this kid will wind up with a Golden Glove or two in his trophy case.

Here are a few more shots of Luke from last week. Luke just being himself.

Luke and his car

Contemplating the bubbles

Playing with mommy

Popping bubbles

T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

No more paparazzi

And that is how I will remember my visit with Luke. Toy cars and bubbles and naked shenanigans by the pool… everything I would expect from a 2 year old boy. Except that this 2 year old boy is special. He is my nephew. And while I did not physically spend much time with him, I will always have this little part of him to keep with me forever. And which I can share with his aunts and uncles and grandpa on the other side of the map.

With that, I will pick up my camera and take more pictures. Because there are lots of memories to be made and I don’t want to miss a second!

Grandpa Bunny’s Farm

Chloe calls my dad Grandpa Bunny. Which is really funny, because my dad is about as un-bunny-like as one can be. And I think it is cute, if not downright hysterical. If you know my dad, you would agree.

My dad grew up on a dairy farm in New England. He milked cows, he farmed… I think he would have lived there his entire life had circumstances been different. Instead, he went on to college and then to vet school. He moved to California and began a long and distinguished career as a bovine practitioner. He carved an impressive niche for himself and, in some respects, changed the profession. And after 35 years of service, my dad officially hung up his sleeve and retired.

But not totally. While most people retire to a quaint little community or travel the globe, my dad started himself a farm. It is my dad’s little slice of heaven, where he gets to work on his cows and farm the land. It seems that his life has come full circle.

Last week, the girls and I traveled to visit my parents. My dad was so excited to take the girls to his farm and show them the cows. And of course, I had to take some pictures! So here is a brief glimpse into Grandpa Bunny’s Farm:

Grandpa's cows on pasture

My dad has all registered Angus cows… which it turns out, are totally different from dairy cows. You would think “a cow’s a cow”. Not so much. Anyhow, my dad called his cows over to come and see the girls. Chloe was not too interested, but Ella sure was!

Grandpa Bunny and Ella

Ella was too excited to see the cows to pose with Grandpa. The cows were pretty excited to see her, too:

Hi girls!

Hey, nice boots!

Chloe could care less about the cows. She saw one of my dad’s barn cats and took off:

Kitty!

Grandpa Bunny was all too happy to show Chloe his favorite kitty, Phantom:

Chloe meets Phantom

Grandpa and Phantom

A quick shout out to the illustrious Dr. Matt Stepnik who put Phantom back together again after an unfortunate misunderstanding with a large diesel truck. Matt – great work!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day:

Ella looking fabulous in the wind

Chloe equally as fabulous in the wind

A pensive Ella

A mischievous Chloe

SImon Says touch your ultra chic pink cowgirl boots!

Rockin' the hat, somewhat

Lest we not forget Grandpa Bunny. After all, it is his farm.

Grandpa and John... Deere, that is

Happiness is...

We watched the sun set over the farm and my dad said something that made me smile. He said “if I ever get to the point where I don’t know who or where I am, just stick me in a room painted green and yellow”. And I’ll be sure that the little green and yellow room has a window with this view:

Grandpa's Heaven on Earth

Dad, thanks for showing us around your farm. The girls and I had a wonderful time and we hope to come back and visit again. Please say “hay!” to the cows for us.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

Peace and quiet

Two words that are scarce in my world. But that is exactly what I experienced for 90 minutes on my drive home from my parents’ house. The girls were asleep, the radio was off… just me alone with my thoughts and the big, fluffy clouds in the sky.

My pets and sunset

Have you ever noticed how completely gorgeous the light is as the sun begins it’s descent into night? It is warm and beautiful and brings back memories of being a kid in the summertime, when you hoped for just a few more minutes of light so you could play outside just a little longer…

The windows in our living room face west and every evening as the sun begins to set, our animals strategically position themselves on the couch. Just like little kids, they try to collect every last drop of sunshine. I grabbed my camera and tried to capture the innate happiness that is sunset in the McArthur living room.

Mop

Even cats with one eye can appreciate a killer (even a not-so-killer) sunset.

Poe

Poe likes to snuggle into the cushions on the back of the couch. Preferably on top of a soft and fluffy blanket.

Pinecone

Pinecone usually curls up in her dog bed. Unfortunately for her on this evening, Chloe tried to curl up in the dog bed as well…

Big Fat Otis

You would think that a 24 pound cat has enough natural insulation that he would avoid warm things like sunset and fire. Not BFO… he gravitates towards both. He will find the smallest ray of sunshine and soak it in.

Milo

And then there is Milo… I think he lays in the sun only because he knows how good his orange fur looks in the warm glow of the sun. Here is another shot of Mr. Sunshine:

Milo, vertical with flare

The smile on his face says it all. And with that… good night.