Here are he last of her pictures from our magical session in January. The light was fading but we moved onto the beach and, despite being a little chilly,  Abby was a trooper.

I'm really terrible about getting my pictures off the computer (a horrible confession from a photographer I know!) but I really need to have some of these printed.

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Sorry for the picture overload but I couldn't help myself! And truth be told there are a few more. Maybe I will share those another time.





I've never shied away from sharing a recipe that flopped or went wrong. And while this one wasn't an actual flop per se, it just didn't live up to the expectations I had for it.

Have you ever had the Snicker caramel apple salad? I don't make it often but I love it so when I saw this recipe for it basically in pie form I got pretty excited. (Plus her pictures are lovely and I'm a sucker for good food photography.) But I found mine to be underwhelming, and it didn't really set and sloppy pies just aren't my thing. I'm totally copping to user error and personal preference though since I heard no complaints and my pie plate came home empty. But I think my Snicker salad is going to stay in a bowl from now on.






    
What you'll need:
1 graham cracker pie crust
3 granny smith apples, chopped
15- 20 mini Snicker candy bars, chopped
1/4 caramel ice cream topping
2 1/2 cups Cool Whip
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 oz cream cheese, softened


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What you'll do:
Place chopped apples into pie crust and top with Snicker pieces.
Drizzle the caramel topping on top.
In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth.
Gently fold in  cool whip and sweetened condensed milk, stirring just until combined. *
Spread over the apple and Snicker mixture in pie plate.
Sprinkle a few more Snickers pieces on top and drizzle with caramel sauce.
Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

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*It's been a few weeks since I made this so my memory is unclear, but I am wondering if I used the mixer the whole time and that is why my pie never set? Maybe I caused it to be too thin. Like I said, I can't recall exactly but that would make sense.

So, you know, don't do that and yours will probably turn out fine :-)


Some interesting things come across the Internet and here are a few that caught my attention. Enjoy!

I'm really surprised this story didn't get more attention since it solves decades and decades of debate. Pictures from the first patent for perforated toilet paper from 1891 clearly settle the over or under argument for good. Over is the only way to go.

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This Kelly Clarkson cover of Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason". The girl can sing! But what in the world is going on with her hair?



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And lastly, just how cute is this necklace? Penelope's Porch is the etsy shop where this whimsical goodness is found. Lots of other pretties there too.


So what interesting things have you seen around the www?



One of the things I love about photography is how easily I can change the story I want to tell just by shifting where I am standing and what direction I am shooting. Last week I shared some images of Abby that were full of golden sunlight and sun flare, two things my soul doth love.

But then we moved over a little and turned just slightly in another direction and the pictures we captured are some of the loveliest I have ever taken of this sweet child who is usually so uncomfortable in front of the camera.

It helps too that we live in a rather diverse place of beauty. Most people would be surprised that these were taken at Fort Pickens but they were. It just goes to show you that we can overlook the natural beauty that surrounds us because we get to used to it and stop looking for it.

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Looking at these makes me want to do some more sessions like this! They also make me wish I had a huge wall space to print all of these some of them  one or two of them nice and large.

Friday Photo Journal      Best Shot Friday


You might remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that Claire woke up with a fever and she missed out on a special day at school. Second grade studies ancient Egypt and the study culminates in a huge feast where the kids dress in costume and do some crafts and enjoy Egyptian food. Needless to say Claire was devastated to miss it.

This is where 3rd grade teacher extraordinaire, Mrs. Phillips, saved the day. She offered to come to our house and celebrate Egyptian Day with Claire. It was so much fun! Mrs. Phillips even came in costume! It is not a day Claire is likely to forget.

She loaned me the stuff the school has on hand so I could set our feast table.

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There were books to look at and discuss as well as games to be played.


Mrs. Phillips helped Claire make a cartouche by carving her name into clay using hieroglyphics.

Claire's favorite was making her face mask. She'll join the other kids in painting and decorating it at school.


They also did basket weaving. Long thin reeds are soaked in water and woven together.


Back at our feast table we enjoyed Egyptian stew, cucumbers and yogurt, raisin, grapes with honey, honey carrots, and pita bread with humus.


All in all it was a wonderful morning and we couldn't be more thankful for someone like Mrs. Phillips! She went above and beyond and helped give Claire an Egyptian Day like no other!
Thank you, Mrs. Phillips! We love you and can't wait for Claire to be in your class next year learning all about the Greeks!



Dad decided it was time. We crowded into the bathroom and there was much looking and talking and more looking and funny face making and then a clean shaven upper lip face. (And a little chin action.) Rob pretty much did the shaving while talking Sam through what he'll need to do the next time.

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Best Shot Friday     Friday Photo Journal


He's fourteen today, this amazing man child of ours. That just seems so crazy.

Fourteen.

Life with Sam is intricate and as full of endless possibility as the Legos he's so crazy about. We never really know what he'll construct next.

One of the greatest joys in my life is watching Sam working to keep a straight face when he's trying not to laugh while telling a joke or a story of some sort.

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His beautiful brown eyes sparkle, and his eyebrows come together in a fierce frown for all of two seconds... and then he bursts into laughter.

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He is completely mainstreamed at school. He's doing well grade wise with A's and B's except for a C in math. Pre-algebra gives this concrete literal thinker fits. Seventh grade is quite a transition in a classical school, and we weren't sure how he would do but true to form Samuel surprised us with how well he adjusted. All of the kids in his class are great but there are three boys that go above and beyond to show friendship to a kid who isn't going to give it back the same way. Community is a big deal to him and he keeps his class picture on his bed shelf. It's also not unusual for him to have the last seven years worth of yearbooks open to his class' page laid out in chronological order.


I mentioned his love of Legos. And, oh my, does he ever love them. His floor is usually covered with them and it really isn't safe to walk in his room barefooted. I tried to separate them all by colors and it just seemed to inhibit his creativity, so now we have two giant flat bins that fit under his bed to house his collection.

He's made some pretty amazing things...he delights in creating various famous characters that he thinks should have their own Lego set. Olaf, Grumpy Cat, Mario, and Minions are at the top of that list.

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He designs and builds his own creatures too and also comes up with these really elaborate stories and scenarios for each one. It's pretty fascinating to hear him tell you about each one whether it's their nifty features or the personality he gives them in a story. Please note the little tan Mixel in the background making bunny ears behind his blue friend.

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He doesn't limit his creativity to Legos though. He draws the most amazing cartoons. Like the hilarious cartoon he made illustrating Grandma Got Ran over By a Reindeer and underneath it was a second cartoon of Olaf yelling, "Stop it Sven!" with Kristoff looking rather sheepish next to his pet reindeer. I wasn't fast enough to grab a picture of it. Or of the time he drew the Marvel comic heroes as Minions - you have not seen funny until you see the Hulk as a Minion.

His sense of humor is hysterical - and somewhat exasperating since something will stay funny to him waaaay longer than it does to the rest of us.

The Sunday funnies, Calvin and Hobbs, and Far Side figure regularly in his reading line up. But he's read The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis and Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea for this nine weeks boni libris, so I guess he's pretty well rounded.

He enjoys Star Wars, Harry Potter and anything ever made by Pixar. The Lego Movie, of course, is a huge favorite. That sound track was probably the single biggest mistake as a gift that has ever been purchased in the history of the world. Everything is NOT awesome. Especially when it's on endless repeat at 6:30 in the morning.

He also has the sound tracks for Mama Mia and Shrek, and his taste in music is quite eclectic. Oldies, Bob Marley, Plumb, She and Him, and Jack Johnson are all on his current play list. He doesn't care for country music, and is all about today's hits when it comes to the radio.


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Oh my goodness, that smile of his. It's so contagious!


He's huge and takes great delight in hugging me and tucking my head under his chin. A razor needs to be in his near future and his feet grew two sizes in three months. He eats all.of.the.time.


It is hard to write a post about Sam without any mention of autism. But as he is growing up I am realizing more and more that autism doesn't define who he is, but rather Sam is defining and redefining what autism is all the time.

I have no idea what the future holds for this wonderful man child we have but I am amazed at how God is shaping and forming him and using him to shape and form us.

I love his sense of humor and way of thinking. I love how he draws mash ups of Pac Man with Little Red Riding Hood. And how he thinks high fives and fist bumps are for the guys and when I try to do it with him he gives me this odd look tinged with pity that I just don't get it and gives me a hug while patting my shoulder. Usually saying "I love ya, Mama!"  He is a simple complex walking paradox fashioned just as he is to reflect the glory of His creator.

My prayer for you, Samuel David, on this your fourteenth birthday is that you will always be comfortable in who you are and that you will live life savoring every good and perfect gift that God has given you. Because we savor every moment we have with you. You are a blessing and a treasure to us. Happy birthday, sweet boy of mine!


Be of good courage,
and let us be courageous for our people,
and for the cities of our God,
and may the LORD do what seems good to Him.

2 Samuel 10:12




I seem to miss things sometimes.

Or at least it takes me a while to recognize that there can be, and normally is, more than one part to a thing.

Like knowing and understanding that there is more than "Thou shall not kill" than just the shall not part. Not only are we to not take life but there is an implicit command that we are to give life. 

It's easy to become so convinced that we must die to self that we forget that there is another aspect that is part of the dying. And that is what it should accomplish, not just in us but in those around us that we are dying for.

Without that realization we make the act of self sacrifice a very self centered thing. And a self centered self sacrifice just doesn't make much sense.

If we are in a situation where we can clearly hear the call to die to our own wants, desires, and needs then we must look for what benefit there is for the one that we are yielding too. What do we hope to accomplish with our death?

Christ's death brought us much benefit...namely righteousness. If we are to be imitators of Christ then our self sacrifice should also bring benefit to the ones we are dying for. Our willingness to lay down our life should strengthen and enrich the righteousness of our community.

If a wife is merely letting her husband have his own way because she is tired of arguing then she is not practicing real self sacrifice nor is the husband receiving benefit from it. It will breed contempt and put up barriers that will hinder their relationship.

Here's another way to look at it. A parent can sacrifice time, money, sleep, health, even other relationships to ensure that their children have everything they need or want. But if that self sacrifice does not spur their children to greater righteousness and faithfulness in their walk then it is for naught. All the parent has done is raise a child that thinks absolutely everything can be forsaken for what they desire. And that is an extremely dangerous thing to do to our children.

Righteousness has many facets one of which is doing the right thing with a right heart...motives and actions rightly ordered. The purpose of dying to self should be to pull those two things into alignment in ourselves and in the ones who we are dying for.



The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.
Proverbs 10:32



There are times when my camera feels like a magic wand in my hands.


I always love taking pictures. Whether it's families, or children or even the head shots I've been doing recently. Capturing certain moments...helping preserve moments and events in someone's life...that is just an incredibly amazing thing to be a part of.

But sometimes.

Sometimes, I am surprised and amazed when something I see in my head becomes a reality on the back of my camera.

Sometimes I am startled when it all just comes together and the vision finds expression so perfectly that I want to dance I'm so happy.

It is an incredible feeling however fleeting it may be.

Back in January Abby and I spent some time together one late afternoon and in was one of those magical moments. Rarely have I been as proud of personal work as I am of the images from that day. I'm going to be sharing them over the next several weeks and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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I came across this quote by CS Lewis and it just seemed to fit so perfectly. 


I can't wait to share some more with you!
 


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