Photography

Such Singing In The Wild Trees | a poem

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It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them

were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

-Mary Oliver

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M U D ::: Sensory Delight


Mud
by
Polly Chase Boyden

Mud is very nice to feel
All squishy-squash between the toes!
I’d rather wade in wiggly mud
Than smell a yellow rose.

It was a rainy Monday. Then the sun peeked through the clouds for a bright moment, she lit up.

“Mama, do you want to come and play in the mud!?”

Who can resist… We splashed and jumped, we oozed our toes through the gooey mud. We laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

We’re currently loving this song from our friends Dear Saint Isaac. Especially, when our darling belts it out. Enjoy!

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A R I S E

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  My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
  See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
  Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
  The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Songs 2:10-13

Daddy’s and Daughters

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When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry

A Christmas gift that lives on

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Before our move to Uganda 4 years ago, I wanted to do something memorable for the children. A way for them to remember our home and friends here. In an age of digital media I wanted something they could hold in their hands and cherish. That’s when I decided to make a photo book ever year for each child.

I turned to Snapfish because they have the best prices, especially during the holidays, but there are several good photo book printing services (I used Paper Coterie one year when their prices beat Snapfish). Here’s how I do it:

On a day when Adam can watch the children, I sit down with my laptop and go through our year of photos (every year I kick myself for not being more organized). If I was smart I’d start a folder with their names and monthly add to it. Instead I cram. every. year. Will I ever learn!?

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Anyhoo, back to it: I make a folder with each child’s name and the year on it; I also make a folder titled “family” for our family book. After I’ve made the folders, I make sure the photos are edited as I see fit in Lightroom. You can use whatever editing software you have; if you’re an iPhone photographer, I’ve found VSCOCAM to be a wonderful editing tool.

After my photos are in folders and edited, I upload them to Snapfish one folder at a time. This keeps the photos I want to use in each book together and makes it easier to sort through while making the books. I make sure to upload them at the highest quality (even though it takes more time) because I want the pictures to look their best when they print.

Now it’s time for the fun part: making the photo books! I like to include special events and memories from the year and I let the photos do the talking with very little text. Snapfish’s embellishments look promising this year and I’m planning to try them out. But again, I don’t add much text as I do believe the photos speak for themselves.

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One thing I do add is encouragement for my kids about who they are. I want them to be able to look back at these books and know exactly how I feel about them. How much I love them and cherish them. I want them to remember to believe in themselves and to like themselves! Sometimes we need hope reminders–that’s what I’m making. Reminding them of the beauty of life. Photos do that for me.

Whatever you choose to do, have fun and make it meaningful for you and your family. These are treasures that live on and often times I will find my children poring over our albums. They love to remember. To see how they’ve grown.

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Just a few weeks until Christmas but you’ve got time still to make a lasting memory and meaningful gift.

Grace and Peace.

Yes, Constance

In total, our time at the cabin was just 23 hours, but we feel like we were able to do so much and really enjoyed the short getaway. We were so thankful to our friend Melissa for suggesting Petra Field Camps to us and we’re sure to return.

It was sweet to celebrate our love and these last 17 years together with our children. When you are a freelance artist and have five children, it’s tough to get away alone (or at all), but we truly enjoyed having our complete family there (we did miss  having our dogs, but Petra doesn’t allow them in the cabin, though they do have a smaller house that is pet-friendly).

Wanted to close out this little series with the hilarious reality of having a feisty toddler.

No, Constance, you can’t color on the cabin floors:

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No, Constance, you can’t have marshmallows and chocolate for breakfast:

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No, Constance, you don’t play miniature golf by picking up each person’s ball and placing it into the hole:

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No, Constance, we can’t stay forever:

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Yes, Constance, you are loved and adored a gift to our family.

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The hike, the cave, and the brave (independent) girl

After lunch we ventured out on a hike. Constance had the privilege of riding on my back in the Ergo. It was supposed to be a simple hike with waterfalls and a cave amongst the glorious autumn colors.

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But somewhere along the way we got a bit, er, sidetracked. Lost in the woods with a baby on my back is not my idea of fun and relaxation, but nevertheless, grumbling under my breath, I pressed on. Down the steep, leaf-covered trails.

There was a moment when I was too afraid and wanted to turn back (balancing with a baby on my back isn’t the easiest and I’m not the most fit I’ve ever been), but what happened in that moment was so beautiful. I’m still stunned by it.

The tiny one on my back began cheering me on. “You can do it, mama. You can be brave. It’s okay.” Then she yelled out to the waiting others, “Mama’s coming, guys. She can do it.” I just don’t know. Sometimes we need each other.

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The guys found the cave and though we missed the waterfall, this was well worth the effort.

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I had to let Charlotte go on her own during the hike, my inclination to hold onto her surpassing my ability. Wings spread, she soared.

Mothers and children both grow in the letting go, taking flight.

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We loved the river so much we had to return one last time before leaving. So we ventured off a little farther down the way.

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This is Emma asking if it’s okay to let Charlotte climb up:

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This is Emma telling Charlotte that it’s a big fall and she should let her help her down, and Charlotte refusing that help:

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This is Charlotte sitting her independent self down in protest:

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Emma climbs down after I tell her to let go. Big sisters have to do this sometimes, too. Charlotte told me later, “I was a little scared when Emma got down and left me up there alone.”

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She climbs down. Safely. Stronger.
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Because though she is small, she is fierce.
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Nourished.

All of life is aflame.

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We watch it burn. It warms us. Heals.

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He loves to stoke the fire. Drawing out the rushing, burning moments. Wild.

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Morning light through the pines. Fresh breath. Life. We breathe it in. All this holiness.

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Share a meal and laughter. This is love. This nourishes.

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A game of miniature golf among the flaming wild trees.

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Reminders of Uganda…dangerously made play-sets,
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barefoot babies,

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tire swings,

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freedom beyond fences.

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All this love, this life that surrounds. A gift.

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Surprise! A story in pictures.

Saturday was our seventeenth wedding anniversary and we decided to celebrate in style with our five kids at a log cabin in the foothills of the ozark mountains. We surprised the kids with the news this week and they were all like…


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But seriously it was awe inspiring and beautiful. We drove to the cabin after lunch and just the views on the drive alone would have been enough. But then this. We arrived just in time for the sun to begin setting on the bluff. So to the bluff we headed.

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Then we hopped, skipped and jumped, errr,  I mean drove to the water. Oh my stars it was gorgeous.

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It is always divine to touch beauty. To be still and know. More from our little get away tomorrow….stay tuned. Or just click the tiny link to follow this blog for updates. Thanks, friends.