The week in review: swearing preschoolers, more rain, and a little local history

When I got back from picking up a few groceries one day this week my 11-year old niece let me know that my daughter, who will be four in October, had been placed in time out while I was gone for taking the Lord’s name in vain. My niece didn’t call it that because my niece hasn’t been brought up in the church so she doesn’t know the Christianese my family does, but she felt that my daughter saying “Jesus!” emphatically several times in a row was not appropriate and so she made her sit in time out. My daughter didn’t mind sitting in time out, by the way, but what did send her into a crying fit was when she was told she couldn’t watch any cartoons for the duration of the time-out. Her time-outs are three minutes so it’s not like not watching a cartoon for that duration is the end of the world, but I suppose it’s a big deal when you are almost four.

Now, in my house I have said “Jesus” several times in a row but not as a swear word. I deal with some chronic health issues so I have been known to say the name Jesus when I can’t think what else to pray. And sometimes I even say it emphatically. I thought maybe this is what my daughter was imitating but I didn’t really have time to try to figure it out at that moment because she needed a nap. I thanked my niece, took Little Miss up for her nap, and didn’t think much about it again until that night at bedtime.

We read The Oscar the Grouch book two times and then she told me she’d learned something that day.

I said, “oh? What did you learn?”

“I learned that geez louise is a really bad word,” she said seriously. “It is not good to say.”

I said, “is that what you were saying today with your cousin?”

“Yes,” she said, nodding and looking a bit bewildered by it all.

Though her brother says he heard her and knows she was saying “Jesus” I have a feeling she thought she was saying “geez louise” and never thought she was somehow swearing at the heavens.

I let her know that geez louise isn’t necessarily a polite word but in our house, it isn’t considered a swear word. After that conversation, I felt relieved my daughter hadn’t picked up an offensive way to speak about Jesus and looked forward to the day her articulation is more developed.


It rained all week again, which left the little town I grew up near dealing with some flooding. I live about 40 minutes north now and we escaped any major damage but we were ready for some sunshine and a change of scenery by the weekend so we traveled to a historical site near us called French Azilum.

It’s touted as the place where Marie Antionette was going to live if she had escaped France alive, which, of course, she didn’t, instead losing her head to the guillotine. A group of her servants traveled on ahead, however, eventually settling the land in the area along the river before some of them eventually returned to France and others left the settlement and founded other villages around the county, including the village I grew up in.

One of the main highlights of the site is the Laporte House, which was built in 1836 by John Laporte, a son of one of the original French settlers. The home is original and provides a look at how life was lived in the early days of our country. Mr. Laporte was a US Senator, a state representative, his family name was carried on in the town name of the county seat of our neighboring county, Sullivan County, and apparently, he was also a very tall and large man at 6′ something and 300 some pounds. A tour of the home and where his family would have lived is something that I had never experienced before, despite living in the area my entire life and having visited the site more than once over the years. My mom has told me I did tour the house at least once, as a child, and though I don’t remember that tour, the house did seem vaguely and eerily familiar to me, which I figured was simply because I grew up in and around very old houses.

A Civil War encampment had been set up on the grounds, unrelated to the historical site, and we were being given a tour by the local historian and camp commander when he was called away to a cast iron frying pan throwing contest. Yes, you read right – a cast iron frying pan throwing contest.

 

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We decided this wasn’t something we wanted to miss so we headed to a field to watch women in long dresses toss cast iron pans toward the camp commander to see how far they could throw. I believe the longest toss was about 37 feet and it was a young girl with a wicked pitching arm. Apparently, the tossers normally have their husbands or intended stand out in the field as a “bit of motivation” for their throw. This time they had the local historian instead and luckily he came out unscathed.

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I was asked to participate and I declined, a decision I now regret, because, as I told my sister-in-law later in the day, I don’t feel you’ve fully lived until you’ve tossed a cast iron pan at a man in a field. If I’m ever asked to toss a pan again I’ll definitely take them up on the offer.

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Did you miss it? Catching up for the week…

In case you missed it, I had some fun posts this week and last, featuring a chef, a photographer and an author and some ramblings from me.

Last week I featured local chef Jason Wheeler for the Tell Me About feature. 

“We are changing the food culture and reminding people that the best food really is grown close to home.”

 

This week I featured photographer Mina Mimbu for the Tell Me About . . . feature. 

“Children are my biggest inspiration. I believe they see a world differently than us adults.
I think the world to them is much bigger, brighter and more colorful, and full of wonder and excitement.

On Monday, author Lisa Hurst wowed us with a column about being victory!

“God recently spoke to me when I was thinking about needing His breakthrough in several different areas of my life and He said, “You are victory!” In a flash, I saw that all the victory that I will ever need is already stored up inside my heart. Like a keg waiting to have a tap put into place, my heart is brimming full of His victory!

Tuesday I shared about our family day at my parents on Mother’s Day.

And Friday I featured our quest to build a garden in our backyard.

Enjoy poking around the blog and catching up for the week!

Week in Review

Each week I’ll be posting images from the previous week that were my favorite, or I simply liked, or that define the previous week’s activities.

 

The week in focus | Elmira NY Child Photographer

Last week we had a mix of nice and rainy days but Little Miss didn’t care what the weather was because she rain outside to slide on her new slide no matter what the sky was spitting.

It’s a inexpensive slide meant for toddlers but even her brother found a way to have fun with it, by leaping off it and attempting 360 turns in mid-air.

It doesn’t matter the height of the slide, Little Miss, who isn’t even 2 loves them and finds a way to get to the top and slide straight down to the bottom.

We visited a playground last week that had three different size slides. She was in toddler heaven, running back and forth to each one. She has no fear, climbing up a ladder to the top of the one playground set that had even me a little nervous to climb.

If she’s this much of a daredevil at 19 months, I have no ideawhat the age of 2 will hold!

 

Spring is so close. . . | Child Photography Athens PA

We have had a very mild winter so I really shouldn’t complain and actually I’m not complaining, but I am saying I’m ready for spring. I’m ready for days without cold temperatures followed by days with slightly colder temperatures then weekends with warm temperatures and then back down again. The yo-yo weather is not something favored by my sinuses, but of course, blooming flowers probably won’t help those either.

After a week of super cold temperatures we were tempted with signs of spring this past weekend when the weather was warm and dry enough for me to grab my kids and my son’s friend and head to the local playgrounds for time on the slides, but also for more important things, like sword fights (or pretend ones at least).

 

Winter weather, cold babies, and weekly favorites | Athens, Pennsylvania Child Photographer

Part of my Weekly Favorites series, where I post some of favorite photos from the week.

She stood there in her winter coat and boots and made those questioning little trills she makes with her voice when she is curious about something or asking if she can touch it. She wouldn’t keep her mittens on and the wind that day was one of those winds that feels like needles being shot into your skin.

Once her feet are on the ground she takes off down the sidewalk or the road to see what she can see and experience and learn away from home and mom’s voice of caution and concern. I honestly wasn’t expecting this to happen so early. I had hoped she would wait at least until

I’m convinced she would have ended up at the end of our street, half a mile away, if I hadn’t stopped her. She didn’t seem to understand how cold the air was that day until about ten minutes after we’d been outside. Her expression changed from curiosity to confusion and soon she was reaching up for me and tears were pouring down her cheeks from the cold wind.

Her brother, a lover of all things snow, didn’t even last as long as he normally does after our first snowfall. He threw the snow up in the air a few times and then was more than happy to retreat inside for hot cocoa and cartoons before homework.

Inside, Baby Girl immediately wanted to nurse, to find comfort in the warmth found against her mama, confused by the tingling pain in her fingers and face. I didn’t even take our coats off.

Instead I sat in the floor in the entrance of the house and held her against me as she clutched my chest and played with my hair and enjoyed the moments I knew would pass by too quickly.

Why I photograph | Pennsylvania Photographer

Recently I’ve been watching photography documentaries and reading about various photographers and why they photograph. Consequently, I’ve been thinking about why I fell in love with photography

It’s pretty simple.

I wanted to document life, my life and the lives of those around me. I wanted to capture a person how they really were in a particular moment.

The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” — Andy Warhol

I still want to document life and since my life now entertwines with those of my children, I find my lens often focused on them.

I document the lives of my children so I can remember the good, fun, crazy, true, and real moments of their childhood and through that they can remember them too.

Photography captures that one specific moment, isolating it from all the others. Photographs tell a story when words can’t or simply aren’t enough.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.

When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” — Ansel Adams

Capturing a specific moment or person and revealing the truth within the frame is something that is so clear in the photos taken by Vivian Maier. Maier never shared her photographs with anyone. Instead her art was private to her and for her. Her images captured the lives of the children she nannied but also the characters of Chicago in the1950s, 60s, and 70s. More than simply “taking a picture”, she revealed the souls of people most of us never see. We see a man on the sidewalk and he’s wearing a torn shirt and his shoes are covered in mud, but we don’t really see him because we are on our way somewhere, or maybe he makes us uncomfortable and we are afraid to make eye contact.

In her images we have the chance to truly see the people, and the world, she photographed. We see them the way she saw them.

The chance to slow life down and truly see it, each part of it, each detail, each person, each place, each memory is what draws me to photography.

I find myself wondering why Maier didn’t want to share her art with others. We each see the world in our own way and sharing how we see the world can be both exciting and terrifying.Maybe Maier photographed what she saw so she would know she was there. Many of her images featured her in either reflection or shadowed form as if to say “I was real. I existed. You didn’t see me, but I was part of this adventure called life.”

She wanted to remember life in her own way, document it in images, instead of words.

Photography, like any art, is often selfish. We want to capture or freeze a moment in time for our own pleasure, our own benefit, our own need to interpret life somehow.

Artists document their view of life in paintings, in sketches, in photography, in the written word.

  I’ll admit that I compare myself to other photographers too often. Last week I told my brother’s wife (who incidentally has her own blog called Dispatches from the Northern Outpost), that I was submitting to a photography magazine but that I felt my work wasn’t good enough.

She told me: “You have to maybe trust the other voice, not the ‘I can’t,I’m not, It isn’t possible’ voice, but the one that made you pick up a camera in the first place.”

Sometimes that voice is drowned out by the screams of doubt, or the voice of some other photographer or artist.

I’m finding myself struggling to hear my own voice most days and the prominance of social media makes the struggle even harder.

This next month I plan to turn down the volume on the other voices and raise my own voice again.

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“I have heard other photographers say things like, ‘I went to photography school and I don’t know what to shoot because when I shoot something I mentally compare my image to so and so or so and so,’ And finally they feel so weighted down by references that it hinders their photographic practices. I don’t have any photographic influences, I don’t have any master, and I prefer to stay a good distance away from photographic culture. What matters is shooting what you feel like shooting, concentrate on that and the equipment comes second.”

Alain Laboile, photographer, France

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Find Vivian Maier’s work here: http://www.vivianmaier.com/

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Finding joy. Even in winter.

I’m not a fan of winter. Winter depresses me. It is cold, obviously, void of sun,most of the time and it is long and dreary and yucky and I hate it — so there.
I thought I would have longer before it stretched out its bony fingers but alas, snowflakes started  falling this past weekend, two weeks before Halloween. Yuk.

Before those flakes made their unwelcome appearance, the offspring and I enjoyed some time outside in the sun. I breathed in the smell of warm sun on brightly colored leaves crunching under my feet. I delighted in the sight of my children walking without coats, knowing all too well they would be soon bundled up and constricted in winter fabric.

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Constricted is how winter makes me feel. I feel trapped in my home but also inside myself. I feel like my creativity fades away with the sun and my excitement for life crumbles like the dead leaves strewn across the ground.

But this year I’m going to try my best to find joy in the dreary. I’m going to draw on my son’s enthusiasm for each season. He finds the good in what otherwise could be bad and I want to be more like him. I want to seek and find joy.

Yes, winter is cold and nasty and dreary and sad and all that is bad, but it is also an excuse to have an extra cup of cocoa and stay home to cuddle under a blanket. It is a chance for the world to slow down and families to find each other again as the snow piles up or the cold scrapes against the windows and doors.

I will not let winter steal my joy this year. This year I claim joy even in winter.

And I will enjoy Fall as long as it is here; until the last brightly colored leaf falls from the limb of the naked tree limbs.

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