An amazing site

I read several photography blogs… for me, they are sources of information and inspiration. I found the most amazing post this morning while drinking my cup of coffee. The photographer’s name is Jose Villa and he shoots with film. That’s right, I said film. This post represents everything that I love about photography and everything that I aspire to do – not just in photography, but in life. I hope you love it as much as I do.


My Girls

My family is fortunate to live in a beautiful community. It is the community where Gary grew up and where his parents still live… grandma and grandpa live 3 doors up the road. The homes are built around 150 acres of nature area and horse pastures, home to several small lakes and thousands of huge oak trees. A month ago, we took the girls out for a long walk and we settled in a beautiful pasture filled with monstrous granite rocks. Wanting to enjoy the time with my family, I left my camera at home… I cursed myself the entire morning. And since that day, I couldn’t wait to go back with the girls and have ourselves a little photo shoot. I waited… and waited… and waited some more. Between the croup, the flu and the rain, it would be a month before we made it back. I knew exactly what I wanted to dress the girls in – their adorable new outfits from our favorite store Peek… Aren’t You Curious.

Without further adieu, here are my favorites from our shoot, which I call “Peek… in Hidden Valley”.

We’ll start with a few of Chloe in her beautiful dress.

And here is Miss Ella in her super cute ensemble made from House of Liberty fabrics (I have a small addiction to these).

Would you like to see some more? Good, because I’ve got lots more! Here are a few featuring the beautiful nature around us:

Check out Ella looking all editorial in this shot! It’s as though she has grown up in front of the camera… oh wait, she has.

And here are a few of my girls being my girls. These are some shots that capture who they are at this point in their lives.

Chloe singing a song

Ella and her blanket Stinky

and Ella dragging Stinky with her wherever she goes

If I had to describe Chloe in one word, it would be sweet

And Ella's word? I'm torn between either smiley or sassy...

And there are just a few samples of our beautiful afternoon in the Valley. I will treasure these shots forever because I want to be able to remember them just as they are right now. Gary likes to remind me that some day they will be obnoxious teenagers… groan. Well, some day when they are, I will have these photos to look back on and to remember just how perfect they really are.

Your Daily Pinecone

Begging for Food

Poor dog… if only her people loved her.

P.S. For any veterinary/ophthalmologist types reading this, do not be concerned that Pinecone has cataracts. It is just some funky light reflecting her left eye. Pinecone thanks you for your concern.

You’re King of the World!

Chloe is not big at eating at the table with everyone else. She takes a few bites of food, confidently states “I’m all done-d” and moseys off to do something more worthwhile. The other night during dinner Chloe raided the cupboard, the one full of her art projects and left over wrapping paper. She made quick work of a piece of blue tissue paper, wrapping it around her neck as though it were a cape. She began running around the house chanting “I’m King of the World!”. I thought it was only fitting the the King of the World have a crown, so I quickly fashioned one for her from a piece of silver tissue paper. And she ran round and round and round the house, cape rustling in the wake of her blistering speed. I asked her to stand still for a moment so I could take a picture of her royal highness. And then I asked her to pose. I said “Chloe, pose like you are King of the World!”. Would you like to see what the King of the World looks like?

Chloe, King of the World!


Chloe firmly planted her feet on the ground, thrust both of her fists in the air and then made the meanest mean face I have ever seen a three year old make. Dare I say she even puckered her lips! I don’t now about you, but I was scared of her. Well, the Hello Kitty t-shirt made it a little hard to be scared. That and the fact that she was wearing a cape and a crown made of tissue paper.

Anyhow, all the girls in the house got a chance to be King of the World. That’s right, I said King. Gary tried to correct Chloe and say “No, you are the queen!” but Chloe would have none of it. Gender clearly is a non-issue to her. Which made the little feminist in me proud. Anyhow, here is Ella in her crown (no cape for her):

Ella, King of the World!


And then it was my turn! I put on my crown and my cape and ran proudly around the house. Chloe trailed behind me in her feather boa proclaiming “Mommy! You are King of the World! You saved the world!”.

Mommy, King of the World!


It’s good to be King!

Ella’s Half Birthday

Dear Ella,

Today you are a year and a half old. Which means that at this time eighteen months ago, you looked like this:

My baby


So sweet, so tiny, so utterly perfect in every way. It is hard to imagine that a year and a half has flown by so quickly. I have not been very good about documenting all of the little milestones (I was just a tiny bit better about with your sister), which I regret. So I will stop and tell you about a few of the cute little things that you are doing at this point in your life.

1) You call your sister “shee sha” which is not to be confused with “shee shuh” or pizza.

2) You like to count, but only from 3 to 9, and sometimes to 10. 

3) You can throw one epic tantrum, which could put even the most seasoned diva to shame.

4) You seem to love all creatures, including our wretched parrot Howard. Which concerns me that you may choose a career in veterinary medicine some day.

5) You are fiercely independent. 

6) You like to stack things. Blocks, soup cans… it doesn’t matter. And after you stack them, you like to put them away.

7) You walk with purpose and attitude while swinging just one arm. People stop me all the time to tell me how cute your walk is.

8) You call your blanket “stee-dee” or “Stinky” which is what your daddy named it. Because you like to stick your blanket in your mouth and chew on it. And it is really hard to get Stinky away from you long enough to wash it.

9) You love to dance, especially to the song from the end of each Dora episode… “we did it!”.

10) You smile, a lot. Which makes everyone around you smile.

Ella, I love you and you will always be my baby girl. I wish that I could stop time so I can appreciate all that you are, for even just a moment longer. And at the same time, I can’t wait to watch you grow into the amazing person you are destined to become. 

Happy Birthday!



The Birthday Girl

Dance Like No One is Watching

Remember what it was like to be three years old and to dream of being a ballerina? Okay, if you are a guy, you probably don’t remember that… and if you do, it’s okay. When I was a little girl, I loved to dress up in tutus and sequins and dance and sing… I still love to do those things, only it is not socially acceptable for a woman of my age to do so.

Which is why I has so much fun watching Harper a couple months back. You first met Harper when I blogged about her and her family here. I took almost a thousand photos that day (and I am not exaggerating!) and have had so much fun going through all of them. Some of my absolute favorites were taken during an impromptu one woman show, performed beautifully on the large granite rock in our backyard (who knew it doubles as a stage?).

It started off very innocently… I took a few pictures of the pensive Harper sitting on the rock, not knowing the spectacular performance she was about to begin.

The Prolouge


First, we must thank the costume designer for assembling such a dramatic ensemble. The zebra-print tank with pink giraffe ruffles, combined with the blue tutu screams STARLETT!!! Although Harper looked the part, she was a little shy at first:

Where shall I begin?


Not to worry, after a few warm-up moves, Harper was a-rockin’!

Here I go!





Not sure what this move is called, but I like it


I wish that my camera had video, because there was some fabulous singing involved. But since I don’t have video, here is a little montage of from the finale of Act I:

Applause, applause.... applause!


As you can see, Harper’s performance contained raw, unabashed emotion. After a brief intermission, Act II promptly began, complete with more singing… more dancing… more Harper!!! I just couldn’t get enough! I took a different seat for the second half, just to have a different perspective. 

A dramatic pause


Can I get some love from the back row?


A one, two, a one-two-three-four!


Harper’s moves were fierce! I think she has a future career on Broadway… don’t ya think?

Future Tony Award Winner


Each time I look through the one hundred-ish photos that I took during this impressive performance, I smile. And during those times when I am feeling a little down, I think about Harper’s production and it makes me happy. So thank you, little one, for being such an inspiration by just being you. And for reminding me to dance like no one is watching.

You go girl


Emergency veterinary medicine is an interesting job, mostly because you never know what may come through the door. A dog hit by car, a cat with an abscess, a goat attacked by a mountain lion (yes… this did actually come in to our clinic late one night). Today was a new one. An ambulance pulled up with two tiny passengers. The medics were posted at a nearby park when they noticed a resident cat stalking two baby ducklings. The medics observed the situation for a while and waited to see if the mama duck would return. After 45 minutes, the ducklings waddled up to the medics who then scooped up the babies and brought them to our clinic. Those poor medics must be deaf after all the high pitched screaming we did when those ducklings arrived. Can you blame us? I mean, look at these guys:

Waddling around the yard

I'll go this way, you go that way...

After a little bit of exploration, the ducklings settled down into a nice spot in which to take a nap:

This spot looks comfortable


Sweet dreams little ducklings

I called Gary and asked him to bring some duck food. He arrived with Ella and the first thing that he said is “NO!” as in hell no, we are not taking those things home! Which is fine because Marsha has already claimed them. She was more than happy to show Miss Ella the babies. Which was a good thing since I was scared, yes, scared of the ducklings. I was worried they would peck my eyes out. Anyhow, Ella was super excited to meet the ducklings:

Marsha introducing Ella to her new duckies

Happy babies

After Ella left, the ducklings spent the early afternoon snacking and napping in the comfort of their private cage. It was really nice to hear the little quack-quacks all day long.

I didn’t think the day could get any better… but it did!

Bath time!

We love water!

You lookin' at me?

Duck races


Almost deep enough to swim

Shake your tail feathers

Flapping my nubs

Okay, so are they not the cutest? I must say that these ducklings totally made my day, if not my week. I didn’t get pictures of them waddling around behind their new mommy Marsha, or curling up next to her outside on the grass. Trust me, it was completely adorable!

Marsha, I envy you for taking these little guys home. Dare I say, you are one lucky duckling!