Playing in the Flowers
This evening we headed downtown to snap some pics of Clara in this dress I bought last year for her. She was so happy when I told her I was taking her to see flowers. She twirled in her dress, picked flowers to put in her hair and in the top of her dress.
Sun Valley Gondola Ride
For father's day this year I bought the family tickets to ride the gondola. Jack had been talking about wanting to go up in the summer, since him and I had a nice time in the winter a few years back in 2015. It was opening day for the summer, so there were a lot of bikers on the trails. It turned out really nice. We made it in time for the last ride up the mountain. William wasn't fond of being up so high in a box hanging from a wire as he put it. Clara really liked looking out the window. We saw some deer as we rode up.
Craters of the Moon
June 16, we took Clara to hike around Craters of the Moon. We've been here a handful of times over the years, but it was her first time and it was my brother's first time, too. It was a nice, overcast afternoon, so it was perfect for walking around without burning up.
Our first attempt to take her out here was rough though. A week previously the rain came on so strong, everything was flooded. We couldn't see the roads and were sliding all over the place, so we ended up not hiking that day.
At the end of the video clip below we were being silly and coming up with stories for cloud shapes on the drive back home.
I took Clara to one of our favorite spots along the Boise River that's easy to get to. It's a perfect little spot to escape right in the middle of it all. Although hotels and busy roads surround this spot, once your down on the beach, among the trees, and flowing water, barefoot, connecting to earth, it all melts away. It's also a great spot during late summer to be able to get in the river and play. The water is slow in quite a few places, and in some areas you can just walk for quite awhile through the water. It feels instantly good, which is why I took her.
We both were feeling under the weather; runny noses, lethargic, achy, but kinda stir crazy in the house. She was fussy and wanted to be outside, so I loaded her up in the car and headed for Eagle.
We watched honey bees buzz around purple flowering bushes. I love to watch honey bees, it's really meditative, and such good energy to be around. We watched ducks, threw rocks and sticks, and splashed around. We spent about an hour and half there, and when we left, we both felt better, in a sense of being more relaxed, and ready to go home and rest.
This girl loves rocks. Everywhere we go, she seems to find rocks, and on a rock beach, well then it's all about finding "the one." She was standing in this bush, just standing in it, calm, looking around, touching the long grass, and then her attention shifted. She spotted a rock she had to pick up.
At this point, my brother had called me while he was on his way home from work, which the road he takes happens to go by where we were. So he stopped to visit for a bit. He asked her if he could see the rock, and she was adamant about not sharing her rock with him. The look she gave him was priceless.
"But sweetie, it's just water, it'll dry, this is what happens when you splash in the water."
She had fun splashing, but wasn't happy to get her pretty dress wet. She's so cute. She's been here before in her swimsuit, and regular tank tops, but it bothered her when her dress got wet. She understands the difference between her "nice" clothes and"play" clothes, even though it's not something I really say or instruct her on. It's just something that's part of who she is. She doesn't like to get things like her dresses dirty, but put her in a tank top and shorts, and she's good to go to get dirty. it cracks me up, such a girlie girl, and I love it. I assured her it was okay that her dress got wet, and then she was back to playing.
She cried to uncle that her dress was wet, not being able to talk yet, she held out her dress, distressed, and he assured it was ok, too.
After playing in the water, we explored a little cozy nook with lots of bushes, bugs, and tall trees. She is always so amazed at the size of the trees. I hope by next year we can take her to the Redwoods. I just know it'll be so magical for her.
After standing in awe of the tree, she started talking to it, and even went to hug it. It was precious, and I missed getting a shot of her hugging, because I was just sitting there in the dirt, washed over in so much love for her when I saw her do that. Such a gentle soul, and I get to be her mommy. I feel so blessed.
She babbled to the tree for a few moments. My brother and I both laughed quietly as we watched her standing there, her hands behind her back, chatting away to a big tree. I unfortunately was quite sore, and sat there enjoying the moment, rather than moving to capture it better. I move much slower these days, and she is quite quick. Sometimes not everything gets caught by camera, but that's okay. It's part of why I like to blog too, so I can share the whole stories that take place.
When her conversation with the tree ended she wanted to go explore into this nook more. I encouraged her to go on. She was uncertain at first. I was happy to just let my stiff, sore body sit on the ground, and allow her space to be herself in nature. She ran back to me to kiss me, grab her bunny, and then she went looking around. My brave, sweet, wild child, I adore you so.
High School Begins
HOW DO I HAVE A HIGH SCHOOLER?!
William started high school about 3 weeks ago. I took him and Clara for registration day and I felt so many emotions. I love how excited he is to be in high school, but so sad that my baby boy isn't a baby, and really hasn't been for so long, but now he's taller than me, stronger than me, and mouthy, but not mouthier than me, hahaha.
I took him out shopping for a suit recently because he asked a girl out to the homecoming dance. She seemed excited to go, but then this last last week told him she decided she doesn't want to go to the dance. He was sad about it, because I guess he's liked her since middle school. It's not easy seeing him grow up. I mean of course I want to see him grow up, and I'm enjoying it, but he just asked a girl out to his first high school dance and already feeling the blues of a girl changing her mind and not wanting to g out with him. Which made me think of how hard it'll be to see him when he goes through his first heartbreak. I mean he was a bit sad that the girl isn't going with him now, but you know what I mean, when he actually starts dating a girl, and that inevitable first crushing heartbreak of highschool happens. My heart isn't ready for him to be a teenager in highschool, but because I'm a mom, my heart is also ready to be there for him for whatever he needs and to love him and encourage him through everything that comes up with highschool.
He joined Junior Air Force ROTC. I'm over the moon about this decision he made. I was in both Navy and Army ROTC in high school and they are hands down the best memories of high school that I have. There's nothing that compares to my memories of ROTC in high school. I loved the program, my friends, the teams, competitions, trips, the pride I took in my uniform, and being a part of something, a tribe so to speak. I found my people in high school. William was really inspired when we toured the Mountain Home Air Force Base for an Idaho William video we made years ago. He has said since then that he really wants to join the Air Force, so when he learned his high school has a JAFROTC he lit up.
He's joined color guard, drill team, and rocket team. I can't wait to see him compete and be in parades, and tell me about all the fun stuff he is doing in the program. I love to hear about the new kids he's meeting through the program. I stopped in to mee this instructors this week. We talked about thier JAFROTC program, the things coming up for the school year,and about my experienced in ROTC. They welcomed me to come by anytime to take pictures of William during practice and his teams. And again, in one breath I'm so happy for William, and then my thoughts trail off to if he joins the military, and how that's only four short years away. Don't even me get me going. For now, I just have to parent him through high school. Let's just stay in the present now, because that's a lot as it is.
William had a super tough time with middle school, but it's clear to both of us that high school is going to be exceptionally better for him, and I totally relate. Middle school sucked, and I think most people can agree middle school years are tough, and high school is a whole different and better ball game. ;)
Our 3rd wedding anniversary was August 11, and we decided the best way to celebrate was to take our little girl to a dinosaur exhibit. Clara LOVES dinos. We love to see her happy and smile. I was a little concerned that they might be too realistic and scary looking, but she's got her mommy's DNA, and loves dinosaurs just like I did.
When we got there the building was dark. The only light coming into the Nampa, Idaho Ford Center was from the daylight outside the open doors, and as we made our way in, it was lit by dark colored lights. She could barely contain herself when she spotted the first dinosaur. And within a few seconds she saw the T-Rex. She went running right for it and squared off with it! She squawked at it and roared. It was hilarious and so brave.
She ran all over, so excited and wanting to see every dinosaur as fast as she could. Waving her hands for us to follow her, pointing up at each dino. To say she loved the Jurassic Tour is an understatement. We stayed for hours, just walking around, back and forth to each dinosaur on display. We stayed until she could barely keep her eyes open. It was so much fun for her, which made it fun for us.
There was a triceratops ride, but she only wanted to pet it, not ride it The man working the rides area was really kind. She was too intimidated to ride and we had bought tickets for her. So instead of her riding, he let her come back as often as she liked to pet the Triceratops. We gifted two tickets to a family entering the building when we left.
A "dino band" played near the sand boxes for excavating bones, and a bounce runway. Once she saw the dino band there was no going anywhere for a long time. She kept her face through the fence to watch them play, and danced around. This girl loves music and dancing. If she hears music it'll stop her in her tracks and she will break out dancing.
We took her to buy something from the gift area. She picked out a Triceratops push toy, and walked her new baby around to see all the dinosaurs. She spent a lot of time showing her baby triceratops to the big triceratops on display. It was darling.
We'll probably take her again next year. As long as the magic is there for her, we will encourage it, because that's one of the best parts of being a kid and a parent is to take moments to appreciate imagination, play, and magic.
A link to our dino garden with macro shots: https://www.allisonattitude.com/blog/how-to-build-a-dinosaur-garden-during-naptime
With my back to the dining room, cooking burgers in the kitchen, I hear her struggling. She is getting frustrated, so I turn to see her wanting to open the sliding door to go outside. I decide to go with her, while Jack watches over the burgers.
With the sliding door barely open, both her and the dog bolt outside as fast as they can. She shrieks with joy, seeing the dog running through the grass, but she wants to swing. I steady the swing so she can get up and sit down. I sit beside her. She tugs my shirt down and signs "more" for milk. She wants to nurse again, and I let her. It's nice outside as I rock us back and forth on the slightly faded red porch swing.
There's still a lot of smoke in the air from the fires, and I always feel guilty when I bring her outside in the smoky air, but I can't keep a toddler or a dog for that matter, cooped up all day. At least it's not as bad as the day before when we went to the fair,
I notice a cloud, and appreciate that we can actually see the sky. I tell Clara to look up, over to the left and she points her finger at the cloud. It's getting darker out, The sun had set, and the sky was a bit overcast looking. Still, there was plenty of light to play in the yard while dinner cooked.
I looked down at her, brushed her hair from her eyes, and she pushed my hand away, then pulled away from my breast, and in an instant was off running after the dog. Something in the grass caught my eye. It was her dollar store, plastic, pink slinky. Surprised to see it still in one piece, I walk over to pick it up. An idea struck, and off I was, back in the house to grab my camera.
Jack's voice trailing behind me from the kitchen as I head for the stairs, " burgers are almost done."
Back outside, I pick the slinky up and place it against the glass of my 35mm lens. She runs over to see what I'm doing and laughs when she sees me with the slinky against my camera. I try to snap a photo, and off she runs. Hoping I'll chase after her. And I do.
The only thing to stop her in her tracks is spotting a dandelion in the yard. As I try to photograph her, Jack's voice, behind me again, " Oh, she loves to blow on the dandelions. Burgers are done." She hears his voice and sees him coming towards us, and off she goes, running across the yard again, shrieking and laughing, wanting us both to chase her now. Jack plucks the dandelion, and she comes over to take it from him.
Finally a few seconds that she might be still enough for me to get a photo of her through the pink slinky.
It turns out looking pretty cool, so I start snapping, aperture wide open, knowing I'm not going to get perfect focus and will have lots of motion blur, but I love the way it's looking so I don't mind a bit. Besides it was getting darker, so I needed every bit of light coming in to my camera.
We talked, she played, and I took pictures. The burgers were cold by the time we all went back inside about 20 minutes later. We ate together at the table, but I couldn't wait to go load up the images in Photoshop;. We cleaned up the dinner mess, and Clara was content with her toys in the living room, so I told Jack I'd be about 15 minutes. I just wanted to go see the shots on the computer. Before I knew it an hour had gone by, and I was calling Jack upstairs to come tell me what he thinks, and that we really ought to be getting Clara ready for bed. They were watching cartoons, and Clara wasn't thrilled that it was time to turn off the TV. I huffed and puffed a bit as I made my way halfway down the stairs peeking down at them, telling Jack that he lets her watch too many cartoons, and he had that irritated look on his face when I nag him about the TV.
They followed me back upstairs. Clara saw the photos and was excited to see herself, and kept saying "wow!" as she was pointing to the pink around the images.
Jack loved the way the images looked right out of camera, but I didn't want to edit the color shots. I was drawn to the images being black and white. I had played with editing with a vintage Lith setting at first. I loved how dreamy the images were looking, but I still tend to lean towards more dramatic, dark, and moody. The Lith settings I used were pretty for these shots though. Jack preferred the Lith edits over the grainier, darker black and whites I chose to go with. We're pretty opposite on most things, and the way I edit my images is always one of the conversations we tend to differ on often. However, it was tough to choose, and we were both coming in about 50/50 on liking the Lith and BW.
When we finished looking them over he suggested I stick with the lighter, softer Lith edits, He said it made her look more angelic, and not like an angry child, or a like one of the starving children you see on TV commercials. I laughed at his comment, and replied,
"Really, seriously, that's what you think, when you see these images of her in black and white?! I don't understand that thought process, but sure the lighter Lith isn't so moody looking, and I get why you're saying angelic, but she certainly doesn't look like a starving, sad child. I think your response is quite more dramatic than my editing." He shrugged his shoulders, and said, " I don't know, I just like lighter images, and lots of bright, happy colors, and lots of smiles."
I chuckled a bit and said, " aw, that's sweet, but I guess I'm just moody, because I don't gravitate towards the 'smile and say cheese' type shots. When smiles happen naturally in the moment sure, or when she's being silly, definitely, but my tendency is always to be drawn towards the melodrama in images."
He likes spring colors and I like fall colors. He likes sweet Southern Comfort, Sangria, and Miller's High Life. I like Jameson, Cabernet, and the darkest, muddiest beer I can find. He likes Toni Basil's, "Hey Mickey" from the 80s, and I can't stand that song, but I love Tori Amos, and he can't stand her music. At least we agree on loving every Stevie Nicks' songs with Fleetwood Mac. Anyways, point made. We're different.
So I saved the color images for him, and made the BW for me. It happens that way sometimes, and it's totally okay.
And,... the images in color.
Yes, I still like the color shots that I got in camera, too. The pink is pretty neat to see around her. I think I'm going to play around, do this again, probably with another color, and a real metal Slinky. It was fun to do.
A Doll in Yellow
I saw this stunning yellow plaid jumper and knew it was a must have for Clara. She looks like a gorgeous baby doll in this outfit. It will always be a favorite of mine. The cold shoulder, poofy sleeves, the way the cut and the bow are placed on the back, the wide leg pants, it just makes me swoon when I see her wearing this outfit.
It's an outfit that deserved being photographed outside, and although we live in the southwest desert of Idaho, there are still little gems like this spot, along Indian Creek. When the sun is setting is looks cinematic and magical in the late Spring, early Summer, and once more at the beginning of fall when leaves turn colors. I knew this would be the perfect spot to take her.
Now, getting a busy body 22 month old to not run off every half second is the real trick. One thing about photographing babies and toddlers is that there's a special quality in not posing them. Well, you can try all day long to pose a toddler, but good luck with that. It's much better to just let them do their thing and be as quick as you can with the push of your shutter and timing.
Some shots are soft, even a tad blurry, but I still love them. I love the grain/noise that comes with a higher ISO setting after the peak sunset time. I love watching her explore and run around outdoors. Her interest in every stick, leaf, rock, and flower met with my enthusiasm and adoration over her and her treasures.
The first attempt to photograph her outside in this outfit was almost a bust. There were blooms on flowers I knew wouldn't last long. We had been having lots of wind, rain, and thunderstorms. As the saying goes around here at Springtime, in like a lion, out like a lamb.
But late one evening, the clouds passed enough and the wind calmed, so we headed to the creek to explore.
She ran all over the place as I moved with her, squatting, sometimes kneeling down, or even laying down on the wet grass to get a variety of angles. At some moments the sun coming through the trees was so gorgeous and would cloud and blow out my images, which created some heavenly lighting effects to my shots of her.
We came across some yellow daffodils at one point, but it was getting really late by that point. She was getting a bit cranky, and didn't want to play much anymore. Dad tried to help her stay in the playful mood by swinging her around, but she just wasn't going to have any of it once he set her back down. So most of the shots of her near the flowers are of running away looking grouchy or sad. So we called it a night and thought we would come back the next evening to try again with the flowers. However, like most families, life happens, and it was some time before we went back to make our second attempt.
The Second Attempt
A month and a few days had passed from the first attempt out at the creek photographing her in this outfit. I still wanted more photos of her in it near the yellow daffodils. I wasn't excited about how the images turned out with her by the flowers during the first attempt.. I crossed my fingers, hoping the flowers would still be in bloom, but once we arrived, we saw they were no more. So we played anyways. Maybe next Spring I can try again to get some epic shots by the yellow daffodils.
Catch a Frog
While playing around during our second attempt near the daffodils, we spotted a few tiny frogs. Clara was the first to see one. It immediately intrigued her to see a real frog. I was trying to get her to look up towards me for a photo, but something had her eye. When I asked her a few times what she was looking at she became really excited, and came running. Jack went over to see what she was so happy about. He saw the tiny frog on a leaf and picked it up so she could get a better look at it. Then he put it back down in the grass and she squatted down to watch it for a long, few, quiet moments. When it hopped off she was a little sad to see her new frog friend leave. But it was also our cue to call it an evening. The sun had set and it was quickly getting dark out.
The last shots I tried to squeeze out of every drop of light left before we headed home. I thought it looked pretty neat to see the dappled evening light on her face.
What are some things you can do while your toddler naps?
1. Take a nap and tell yourself your catching up on sleep, which as a parent we all know you just will never do.
2. Do chores around the house
3. Spend some quality time with your partner
4. Relax and do something for yourself
5. If you're like me and work from home, then you have a mile long to do list to choose from.
6. Build a dinosaur garden
Well, it's #6 of course.
Load up your spunky toddler in the car on a 100 degree day to go to the nearest hardware and garden store. when you get there, make her walk everywhere with you, so she burns out. Have her smell all the flowers in the garden center, and try to "help" you lift bags of dirt and rocks.
Get home and realize you just spent nearly $75 bucks for all the stuff to make a dinosaur garden. You hope she likes it, but who knows one day she likes dinosaurs, the next she could be screaming and crying at me for even thinking she still likes dinosaurs, who knows, it's a crazy life with a toddler.
Before you can build it, you have to debate with your husband about the best place in the yard to put it. He doesn't like your original idea, so you both hem and haw about why whatever spot is better. Meanwhile, your getting drenched in sweat, because it's like the devil's armpit outside, but thank God you can't smell the cow farm two miles down the road today.
You finally decide to put the dino garden where your husband wants it, but then elaborate on his spot, and tell him how it could be a cool dino play area. You have the canopy up, put down the yard mat, set up the alligator pool that you know your toddler already loves, and start getting to work on building the garden.
Wait... first get pics of everything to show how to make this thing. Someday she'll look back and see how much mommy and daddy love her and like to surprise her.
So layer 1, add rock for drainage. Jack' s anxiety kicks in and he thinks we need to wash the rocks before putting them in the bottom of the planter, where they'll be covered with sand and potting soil. The rocks look fine, and then he decides that it's pointless to wash rocks when we're putting dirt all over them, and she's not playing with them anyways, and that maybe his wife is right, and there's no microscopic mold growing on the rocks. Never a dull moment around here.
Layer 2 potting soil and plants. Any plant you like will do, depending on the size of the garden you make. Mint, fern, and grass worked for ours.
Layer 3 Add sand and the pond, which is just a .50 cent clear plastic tray that I put some river rock in.
Realize we didn't need as much as we thought, but I figure now is a good time to tell Jack that I plan on building a butterfly garden next, so no worries.
I wait for his eye roll, and remind him years ago of "growing" butterflies with our son. Then figure it's a good time to remind him of all the other ideas I have for things to do in the backyard with Clara.
Now it's time to arrange the dinosaurs in the pot. Hmmm.. it could be bigger. They need more room. I look at my husband and say, " well, this is a start, but we can elaborate as she gets bigger or something, but it'll be fun to create and grow it."
Seeing it complete made me feel giddy. The little girl I was a lifetime ago would've loved a dinosaur garden. Now it's even better, because I can spend all this time playing dinosaurs with my daughter. Totally worth it!
Jack heads inside to take a nap, while I sit on the grass taking macro shots of the dinosaurs, then realize I better get up and get ready to head off to do a photoshoot I was hired for. All the while thinking of all the cool things we can with our new dino play area....we definitely need to look up DIY dino dig excavations for the backyard, right? ;)
After taking the close up pics of each dinosaur, I can't wait to go out and play some more and pose them even better for photos. I think I just found a new side photography hobby. It was a lot of fun to just sit and photograph them for a few minutes before I had to get up and go.
Clara really loves her new dino play area. I love how content she is sitting there playing with her dinosaurs. Once I sort out what I'll do next for this play area I'll probably post an update, or just share more dinosaur photos, because I kinda just really enjoy sitting out here in the shade snapping pics of my baby girl and her dino buddies.
Emmett, Idaho Berry Pickin
The kids and I went out with friends to pick some berries. We went to two farms out in Emmett that we haven't visited before. It was a great way to spend the early afternoon. We love that the berries are grown with organic practices and aren't sprayed. They taste incredible and won't last long the way we're gobbling them up!