Summertime, so far, in photos

We haven’t done anything very exciting so far this summer, other than my husband starting a new job and our family looking at houses in the area where he’s now working. We have had some nice family time with my parents, especially on the Fourth of July, and my son helped my dad install a pool at his house and start construction on a new shed.

I thought I’d share a collection of photos from our summer so far since I haven’t shared a photo post in a bit.

What are all of you up to this summer so far? Or winter, if you are “down under”? Let me know in the comments!


This is every day. This is special.

She crawls into my lap and I ask her if it’s time to go upstairs for a nap.

“Not yet.” She says.

She leans against me, asks to nurse and I place my arm around her and under her head. I know she’s going to fall asleep in my lap and I don’t want her to. I want to lay her in bed and lay down next to her so I can stretch out aching legs and rest sore muscles.

I look at my phone as she settles against me and into the daily routine of cuddling and dozing. I resign myself to the fact she’ll soon be sleeping and I’ll be stuck here, on the couch, sitting up and unable to stretch, afraid to interrupt her nap and face a night with a cranky toddler. I shrug and turn on the music on my phone, knowing she likes to fall asleep to music.

Your heart is a history book
With pages to fill
If you haven’t found your voice
I know you will

She twirls her fingers in my hair while I stare at my phone, scrolling pass Facebook posts, scanning but not really seeing, hearing but not really listening.

I barely notice her movements.

I don’t think much about it.

It’s normal.

It’s every day.

It’s what we do each day around the same time.

It’s nothing special.

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in
I know you will

I feel her caress my hair and out of the corner of my eye I catch her watching me as she nurses.

Her eyes study and see.

I look at her and a smile tugs at the corner of her mouth as she nurses.

I log out of Facebook and the phone is placed to the side.

“I love you,” I whisper.

She smiles and lets out a quiet, tired sound mixed between a sigh and a giggle.

I want to take it in.

I want to take her in.

I want to freeze the moment and not miss it. I want to see her.

Failure is a photograph
You can put up on your wall
You don’t have to think like that
When you fall

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in


Suddenly posts about politicians or healthcare or essential oils or what food will shorten your life if you eat it seem much less interesting.


I want to feel her hands in my hair, her body warm and solid in my arms, against my belly, against my chest.

Oh the places you will see
The world is full of mystery
Like a city on a hill
You’re gonna shine
I know you will

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in
I know you will
I know you will
I know you will

I don’t want to forget h

ow it feels to be loved without strings.

To be loved without conditions.

To be loved without preconceptions.

To be loved simply because you are a source of comfort, peace, courage, and tenderness to the small, beautiful creature who calls you mama.

I notice her movements.

I see the small fingers.

I feel the soft touch.

I hear the slow, rhythm breathing.

This is routine.

This is every day.

This is special.


Lyrics by JJ Heller. Images by Lisa R. Howeler


10 on 10 for May

This post is part of the 10 on 10 blog circle with some other fun bloggers and photographers. To continue the circle click on the link at the end of the post.

Spring has finally started to come to the area with some warmer days, though you wouldn’t know it the last couple of weeks with all the rain and chilly temperatures.

We’ve been able to get outside and explore more and more, which is a welcome break from being stuck inside watching cartoons (my daughter is newly obsessed with a South Korean created cartoon called Tayo the Blue Bus and it is severely annoying.) or playing video games (my son’s main obsession.)

The only drawback to the warmer weather is my children expect an outing every day after school, which can often make dinner, homework and then bedtime late. Still, the lateness is worth it if it is a full day of fun and some sun, which seems to make almost any day better.

Please continue the circle by following Jacque at Ollipop Photography.

What to capture: family reunions | Athens, PA photographer

This is part of my feature What to Capture, where I give you ideas what photographs you will want to capture at an event or family gathering to be sure you document the day for your memories.

Family reunions: The butt of many sitcoms jokes but actually a gathering many families look forward to. It’s a chance to catch up on the lives of your family members, especially extended family members you don’t have a chance to see throughout the year.
My family is small with mostly older members and family reunions don’t happen often, or really ever. But for many a family reunion is an annual event where members of their extended family gather, catch up and reminisce about each other, their childhoods and crazy Uncle Bob.
For the most part what to capture with your camera at a family reunion is pretty straight forward. You photograph the family all together in one shot.  The big, combined family photo is one of the most important photograph of the day but it isn’t the only photograph you should snap.

Here are a list of suggestions of what you should capture through your lens during your family’s reunion, or any family reunion for that matter.

First, a little advice on that big family photo:
1) Make sure you don’t let anyone leave the reunion early, before that group photo is taken. The timing of the photograph should be somewhere near the middle of the event so enough people have arrived but also so not too many have left. If someone does announce that they need to leave then that’s your cue to stop what you’re doing and announce that it’s time to gather for the family photograph.
2) Push for that photo. Having a combined, large family photograph will be important to your family’s history and future memories. This is your chance to be bold and a bit forceful (in a polite way) because you know at least one family member is going to try to duck out, hide behind a plant or whine that their hair looks horrible. Don’t get into a family brawl over it because that’s not great for family bonding, but do what you can to convince that family member that their presence in the photo is needed to show a true representation of the entire family. Remind the reluctant subject the photograph isn’t about them but about future generations knowing who their ancestors were.

3) Once you have convinced everyone to be in the group photo, I would suggest chairs for the older generation to sit in and that young children sit on the ground in front of the chairs, if that’s possible. File the teenagers and adults in a standing position behind the younger and older generations and try to group immediate family members together when possible. Do your best to layer the groups so that they don’t spread out to the sides too far. Six to eight people in a row is a good number  to avoid the photograph being taken too far back and leaving you squinting to see faces because you, or the photographer, had to stand so far away to get everyone in.
If you have risers to place the teens and adults on to keep the rows short, and make sure you can see everyone’s face, then use them but chances are most people won’t be that prepared, so improvise with picnic tables, rock walls, chairs, or benches. Just be sure all the items you stand a person on are stable because you don’t want to have an ambulance trip ruin all the fun. Should an ambulance have to be called, though, be sure to take photographs because that’s going to be an awesome story for next year’s family reunion as long as there are only broken bones and no serious injuries *wink*.

4) When you look through the viewfinder make sure you can see everyone’s face. Tell cousin Steve to come from behind the tree and Grandma to stop hiding her face behind her fan. Make sure to take more than one photograph in case someone blinks or moves or a child spits up. Ask everyone to look your way for the final image but don’t be afraid to snap a few shots while everyone is getting set up because sometimes those in between moments are the most memorable. If you have two people photographing, have one person focus on the people as they line up for the photograph. Some of the most special interactions can come while setting up for the photograph.
In addition to the family photo here are a list of four other suggested posed photographs you will want to make sure you take in between taking candids.

Immediate family units
If you have a large family, gathering immediate family members from each branch of the tree for individual images is a good idea. This would include, for example, a husband and wife and their children. If you then want to add in the parents and siblings of the spouses you can do that too, but don’t get too crazy or you’ll be taking the entire group family photo again. You don’t have to be too fancy with these photos but try to make sure everyone is looking at you and nothing appears to be sticking out of the top of their head when you snap the shutter. Pay attention to your backgrounds. Be aware that if you place dad in front of a certain background, he could end up looking like he has deer antlers unless you either move him or yourself before pressing the shutter.

Grandparents, grandchildren or great grandparents and great grandchildren
Gathering the grandparents and great grandparents together for their own photograph is a good idea. Add in the great grandchildren with the great-grandparents and the grandchildren with their grandparents as well. Depending on how large your family is this could be quite an undertaking so you will need to decide if you want to do just one large group photo or the individual photos.

New additions
Each year can bring new additions to the family whether by birth or adoption or by marriage. Be sure to grab either a standalone photo with these new members or a group photo with them and their immediate family. And of course they will be included in the larger group family photo if you don’t get the opportunity for individual photos.
Generation photos
Family reunions are a great opportunity to capture a four or five or whatever number generation photograph. This is usually a great grandparent, grandparent, parent, child and grandchild all together in one photograph. It’s important to capture these images whenever you are all together because, not to be morbid or a downer, you may not have the chance again if a member of the older generation passes away before the next reunion.
I usually have the older members of the family sit in a chair or on a couch and place the other members around them or behind them. If there are young grandchildren or great grandchildren involved placing them on the lap of their great grandparent or grandparent not only creates a nice photograph but a nice moment for the older and younger generations. Never be afraid to snap the shutter during those in between moments before you ask everyone to look at the camera. You might capture a special glance between grandpa and grandchild that will mean more to you than the photo where everyone is looking at the camera at the same time.
Don’t be upset if every child isn’t looking at the camera at the same time either. Their expression or where they are looking instead may make a more memorable photograph in the long run.  Repeatedly telling a child to look at the camera can not only create stress  for you but for them as well.
Be sure to capture candid photographs of the day. If Dad is playing a trick on his younger brother, take the photo. Capture laughter, expressions of delight as family members arrive and see each other again, grandchildren running to their grandparents, cousins talking to each other, siblings wrestling each other and any family reunion traditions that might be held.
Bonus tips:

One, don’t photograph people in mid-bite and two, limit how many photographs of the food you take. No one really needs to look back and see Aunt Ruth with a cheek full of hamburger or cousin Frank with ketchup trickling down his chin. The future generation will probably not be interested in Instagram like photos of the food either, unless someone made an amazing cake that everyone will marvel at for years to come or the dish is a special family recipe. As much as possible, try to include a person with each image you take because, obviously, a family reunion is about people and about capturing the memories for those people and the future generation.
If you take the photographs yourself don’t forget to put the camera down part of the time and enjoy yourself, living in the moments of the event without looking through the viewfinder. And don’t overthink the photographs too much and cause unnecessary anxiety for a day that is meant to be fun and memorable.

In closing, here is a short checklist of what to capture at your next family reunion:

Group family photo
Immediate family members
Great grandparents alone
Grandparents alone
Great grandparents and grandparents together
Great-grandparents with their great grandchildren
Grandparents with their grandchildren
New family members (by marriage or new babies)
Generation photograph
Candid images from the day