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How do I pick? …HostelBookers #7 Supershots Challenge

Leave it to a friend to remind you to take some time to reminisce as well as get you back on track with something that is important in your life yet you always put off for another day.

Last night I received a tweet from @tweepwife (www.lifecache.ca) challenging me to search through the thousands of photography files that have built up on my hard drive and participate in the HostelBookers 7 Super Shots.

What I found through the search was that I love my photos and sharing with others should be something that I dedicate more of my time to. What I also determined was narrowing the choices to only seven was hard!

So I limited my choices to those taken in past the 18 months and this is what I’ve decided to share as I walk down memory lane….

1. A photo that… Takes my breath away

This photo is a moment I captured when my father-in-laws barn burnt down. It takes my breath away for a few reasons. First the colours & composition just worked. It showed the viewer exactly the intensity that those of us present felt at that moment. You can feel the heat, power and allure that a fire of this magnitude creates. The living body a fire becomes is breath taking and every time I see this picture, I am reminded of that fact.

2. A photo that… makes me laugh or smile

The moments I cherish most as a parent are those I see the true love and devotion my kids have for one another. When they give each other a hug of support or take the time to sit and read together. Or, as in this photo, when they take each others hands and together run into the world full of hope, love and excitement. Catching these moments on film are few and far between but when I do, it allows me to relive that feeling of pride as I sit back and smile in reflection.

3. A photo that… makes me dream

What makes me dream isn’t the actual photo but the subject it highlights. For those of you who know my family, one of our goals is to change the way the world sees my daughter. To change the preconceived notions surrounding Down Syndrome and all individuals our society deems “less” in some way. Everyday I see the beautiful smile, bright eyes and determination in the face of my ladybug and I remind myself that together will meet all of her challenges head on. We will build her up and make all her dreams come true. We will strip away the labels and show society that she and all of her friends have something to share with this world. That is our dream.

4. A photo that… makes me think

To appreciate the true magnitude of this image, click to enlarge

Our family had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC last year. During our tour of the area we showed our children many monuments and buildings of significance. My son found the Korean War Monument most preeminent but for me Arlington Cemetery gave me the greatest pause. The vastidity was overwhelming and I spent much time thinking of the individuals & families who suffer as a result of the hatred within our world.

5. A photo that… makes my mouth water

Last summer we visited Nashville for a conference about Social Media & Agriculture hosted by AgChat. Before we departed this lovely city we took some time to visit the local farmers market. The colours, the smells, the freshness of the produce touched every sense as we walked through the stalls. This is just one of the numerous images from that day that, as farmers, we felt showcased the value of agriculture as well as tempted ones taste buds to reach out and grab a bite!

6. A photo that… tells a story

This is a photo that I’ve shared online before but that captures a very precious story for our family. My husband was raised on a dairy farm. He spent his whole life around cows and as a family we had hope to raise our children the same way. Unfortunately, that dream will not come to fruition as the dairy portion of his family’s farm was retired last July. Prior to that our kids spent many hours in the barn helping with chores and acting as the “Welcoming Committee” to new arrivals. Having this moment with our girls and a brand new “steaming” calf captured on film is priceless and is a token for them to remember being a part of their family’s history.

And finally my last pic for this challenge.
7. A photo that… I am most proud of (My National Geographic shot)

First, I need to clarify… I don’t necessarily believe this is the photo “I’m most proud of” but I could see it in a National Geographic spread. I wanted to include this image in this challenge because it’s different than the others I’ve shared and, in my opinion, the movement, colour and composition are bang on. I was thrilled with this shot and wished at the time I had a magazine to share it with. This photo was taken on our Floridian vacation in one of the perfectly lit Sea World Aquariums. Jellyfish always seem to draw me in with their fluid movements and gracefulness and this picture captures that for me. I find these exotic creatures fill me a calmness few other things in this hectic world can and I’m grateful to have this photo to remind me of that feeling.

As I bring this post to a close I would like to thank @tweepwife for getting me back to my blog and my photography. This challenge reminded me that I have passions of my own and I need to take the time to embrace them again. To fill my soul so that I may fill others.

And now, I spread this challenge to others. – I have choosen seven bloggers (instead of the requested five) to give it their best shots in the HostelBookers 7 Super Shots:

My choosen Agriculture reps include…
@JPlovesCOTTON from http://janiceperson.com
@kmrivard from http://kellymrivard.com
@AR_ranchhand from http://agricultureproud.com

My choosen Down Syndrome reps include…
@CarrieWChildren from http://www.carriewithchildren.com/about-carrie-with-children
@DownSideUp from http://www.downssideup.com/

And two extras who I would like to represent Huron County with the brightest lights…
@sarahnadian from http://atransparentlife.com/
Melissa Wormington (who’s not on twitter but who’s blog should be seen by many!) from http://melissawormington.blogspot.ca

Go to it girls and guy! Show the world what you’ve shot!

Jen

Illness, Commitments, Loss and Indifference

I started off this year with high hopes of writing often. Photographing everything and documenting all our highs, lows and daily grinds…

Ya, that didn’t happen.

So what did? Life, I suppose, but that’s no excuse.

I started off ok but then January 25th my youngest got sick and then, shortly afterwards, I got sick.

Now I don’t mean I had a cold, or a headache or anything minor that I could or should have pushed through (although, I did try to for the first 5 days). I mean I got sick. Pneumonia to be precise. Three full weeks in bed with the inability to move, eat or even get myself to the washroom. Ya, sick.

Then, a week after I first got laid up, my little ladybug got sick. First with pink eye, then with an extreme asthma attack, followed soon after by pneumonia. Ya, that’s just how we roll around here. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another! Anyway, pneumonia isn’t fun for anyone but for my ladybug it can be very dangerous. She has very narrow airways and any kind of congestion is bad but once it gets to the pneumonia stage she’s walking on thin ice.

But I’m sick, remember?! Step in my husband Wayne.
Let me premise this with the statement that Wayne is a fabulous father. Helpful. Loving. Engaged. But when it comes to the medical knowledge of our kids, well, that’s my department. Wayne does not do doctors, hospitals or needles… EVER.

But he stepped up. He held down the fort so to speak. He came through when the chips were down.

Even when, just as I was starting to get some wind back in my sails, our youngest fell to the virus in our house, Wayne held strong.

Fast forward to the end of February – we’re all run down and still coughing but life is starting to return to normal. Wayne takes us to Ottawa with him while he attends a conference. We visit friends. We visit museums. We rest.

Then my mother delivers some tragic news. My Aunt Lynn (a fabulously positive and determined women) passed away. After successfully beating cancer twice in her lifetime, complications arising from her third fight took too big a toll on her body and she could fight no more.
We were on our way home from Ottawa but Wayne couldn’t attend the funeral. He had commitments he couldn’t postpone or miss so I took the children on to Midland alone. Still recovering from being sick, I tried my best not to cough on everyone and not to spread pink eye that was still circling through my children over and over again.

When we finally returned home, much delayed and fighting exhaustion I was indifferent. Lost. I felt disconnected from everyone and everything. I couldn’t get motivate. I put on almost all the weight I had lost prior to getting sick. I couldn’t write, tweet, or engage.

I celebrated my thirty-ninth birthday during this time. I wasn’t depressed about my birthday (I don’t get to worked up about my age, my son turning 8 soon is another story!) but still so indifferent.

In comes March Break. Usually I am not a fan of March Break but this year proved much different thanks to the weather.
I am a sun girl and this week has offered up weather that literally makes my heart sing! We’ve been outside everyday soaking up the rays. We took a trip to the Welland Canal. We’ve walked on the beach. We’ve started our seeds for our garden.
Things are looking up!

So, although I did completely dropped the ball on my New Year’s Resolution and even though I’m not a fan of excuses, I’m going to let myself off the hook for the past (almost) two months and try to just get back on my horse.

How have your new years resolutions been going? Anybody else dropped the ball? Are you going to start over or give up?

Jan 7 – Too Cute for Words






Tea parties have become a regular thing in our house this Christmas Holiday. Usually we get buns, soup, strawberry pie, grapes, juice and of course tea. Today, Sammy (the bear) got special service because he wasn’t feeling well.

LOVE days at home!
Jen

Jan 6 – Winter Walk

Not really the winter weather we’re used to in Huron County but the milder temperatures definitely make taking some afternoon walks much more pleasant.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough snow for the toboggan and too much wet sticky snow for the wagon.
:-/

Summer Fun!

Canada Day Parade!

Yesterday I was thrilled to be apart of the first ever Club 21 Canada Day Parade Float!

With the help of a tractor & wagon from one of our farm families, some strategically placed Canadian flags and a few not so subtle Down Syndrome Awareness signs, we loaded up some of our kids and families and joined the festivities as we made our way around the Square in Goderich for the annual Canada Day Parade!

The float was a great success and more importantly, we all had a fantastic time!

Our Canada Day Float

A Bear and a Ladybug waving to the crowd.

Our message to the crowd... "don't DIS my ABILITY!"

and "more ALIKE than DIFFERENT"

Brought to you by Club 21 - Huron County!

HAPPY CANADA DAY from Club 21 – Huron County!

My 2011 DPI Photo Pages

Each year the photography group I’m a part of puts together a book of the work we’ve created throughout the year.

This is my spread for this year.

2011 Photo Spread

A Loss and A Gain with the Help of Social Media

As a lot of you know, last week I stalked the SM forums to ask, plead and beg for everyone who follows me to vote for a picture I submitted to a Huron Tractor (John Deere) calendar contest.

The photo I submitted - "Heading to the Barn"

The contest opened in April but I didn’t get involved until May 11, leaving us way behind the leader in the vote department. Luckily, this contest wasn’t just about the votes, they were also using a panel of judges to determine the winners.
The contest allowed people to vote each hour and each hour found me sending out pleas to everyone who was online to take a moment to vote. “Please vote, did you vote? If you did vote don’t forget to go back in a hour and vote again!” I was driving people crazy, I’m sure.
Considering we had 6.5 days and the leader had 21 days to vote, I think Twitter and Facebook proved their power.
Our average was 166 votes a day and the top vote getter had 67 a day. We totalled 1081 and they got 1407. That’s impressive!
Now, like I said before , there were judges involved in the decision process so when the final choices were revealed, my picture was not one of the winners and, for the record, I’m ok with that. I like most of the chosen pictures (you can see the winners here) and the images that beat us in the voting process were not selected, for that I am grateful. They were bad pics. #JustSaying
Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all the people who voted, RT, passed our plea on to their friends and family.

We may not have won a lawnmower or got my photograph in a calendar but you did show me the power of Social Media, love of family and friends, and the benefit of a little OCD behaviour.
Thank you to you all.

Oh, and just for the record, I think it would have made a great cover!

What do you think?

My idea for the Calendar Cover.

Photographic Scavenger Hunt 2011

For those of you who don’t know, once a month I’m allowed to escape my kids for an evening and join some fellow photography enthusiasts at our local Digital Photography Club meeting.

It’s a chance for me to remind myself that I do have a creative element outside of play dough and colouring books.

Each month our little group (based out of Elizabeth’s Art Gallery in Goderich, ON) chooses a theme to shoot and off we go. Once a year we complete a group scavenger hunt. The challenge is to see who can get the most “things” on the list (in the month alloted), whose image is most creative, funny, etc. It’s a fun to see how everyone interprets the clues and the variety of pictures that are presented.

Anyway, this year, due to previously scheduled obligations and the fact that my youngest decided to get sick this week, I was behind the eight ball. So yesterday, the last day for this challenge, I started out. 9 am found me taking my first shot and by our 7 pm meeting I had all my pictures found, taken and edited.

Here are the results.  Let me know what you think.

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Twitter helps me help the Easter Bunny.

Easter.

Another holiday that has been turned into a candy saturated day. Another holiday that I find myself scrambling to avoid the sugar. I refuse to allow my children to eat candy by the truck load and I won’t accept the toys they don’t need, use or want.

This year, since we’d already been to a Easter Egg hunt where too much sugar was acquired (candy that will no doubt still be here by the time Hallowe’en rolls around), I decided I will not add to this insanity. But what could I do?! I can’t let the Easter Bunny forget them. I wanted EB to do something but I didn’t want him to feel pressured or think I was demanding any extra effort on his part, so I did a little research and came up with some helpful suggestions from some twitter friends and a few creative websites. I DM’d him some ideas I thought just might work and this is what the Easter Bunny came up with for our family…

On Saturday night we swirled some eggs with cousin Cassie and hoped the Easter Bunny would be impressed with our awe-inspiring egg painting skills!

Eggs

And Sunday morning we found this…

Empty Baskets

Empty baskets with a single note attached…

An explanation.

All that was needed to do was follow the clues on a Bunny Styled Scavenger Hunt and Easter would be saved!

Everybody ready?

Ready!

Charge!

A tree that was dressed up for the season.

A cookie for each of our family of five and a clue were found at a tree that had been dressed up for the holiday!

Then off to another tree in our yard where the bird feeder was found to have strange food tucked inside. (And yes, it’s chocolate but surprisingly our son gave his away to his cousin who came for a visit later this morning.)

Strange food for the birds!

Another clue!

Looking for a “bright door where a treat from a guide would be found”.

Girl Guide cookies for Daddy!

These cookies were for Daddy because he was disappointed no Girl Guide came to our house selling cookies this year.

Special Delivery

A ‘delivery’ was left in a ‘normal’ sort of place but alas, it was another gift for daddy. Then off to the ‘ride that Sadie loves best’ (her slide) to find a spring gift to get Mommy’s Garden started.

Spring gift for mom.

The  next clue set us farther from the house to Daddy’s workshop in the barn.

You look that way...

The search at the barn took a little more effort but Daddy finally found our “Hot off the press” collection.

Books for our bookworms!

Then around to the back to find the ‘animal that likes our grass long’ to look for a gift to help the summer along.

Around to the back!

After finding three new ball gloves (that I don’t have pics of) sitting on our John Deere lawn mower, we were set back to the house to look for an envelope in a window.

Found it!

With a little help from Daddy, Sadie found this gift. It was a gift card for dinner at one of our favourite places to eat.

Next we were set into the house to were the ‘whales like to stay’ (bath toy drawer) to find a surprise that we could use on Monday.

Matinee Tickets to see "Rio".

Tickets to go see a movie!

Then back on the hunt we were sent to the basement to look for some more family entertainment. They found a bag full of stuff to make tie dye shirts. One for Daddy, one for Mommy and Peanut, Ladybug and Bear! (again no pic)

Our final clue took us back upstairs to the place where we found our first note from EB and there where our empty baskets had been sitting were three pails o’dirt with one easter treat! (My peanut tells me that the Easter Bunny’s magic allows such tricks.)

Pail O'Dirt

Thank you to the Easter Bunny for all his hard work. We had a morning full of fun & excitement and our afternoon was saved with no sugar caused tantrums. Both Mommy & Daddy are grateful for it all!

Happy Easter Everyone.