Friday, April 4, 2014

photographing babes

photograph of newborn taken by my very talented cousin-in-law Camilla
Digital photography has opened up endless possibilities for capturing moments in a child's life. The medium means that no flash is needed, there are multiple chances at getting the 'right' shot, images are easily manipulated, and sharing can be instant. 
photographs by Anne Geddes
I can only imagine the trials Anne Geddes needed to go through to create her brilliant images. Shooting long before digital photography was available, Geddes was a trailblazer of baby photography and completely changed the way people looked at portraiture. The setup time required, the creation of props, the unlikeliness of having cooperative subjects... then the angst prior to developing the film must have been considerable. Geddes greeting cards, calendars and books have been sought after since the early 1990's. Geddes still shoots and devotes much time and effort to philanthropic causes
Small babies are ideal still life subjects - when they are asleep: posable, not likely to move, and asleep for extended periods! This has negated all the problems associated trying to get a newborn to smile for a camera - or at least to look a little bit awake. Some people have been having a lot of fun and results are very creative. I love the simplicity of the Blackboard Adventures shot by Anna of Cute Moments Photography.
photo from
A couple of mothers have turned their passions into lucrative careers, popular blogs, collections and even book contracts. Queenie Liao created Wengenn in Wonderland using her son as the subject in elaborate scenarios.
photo from
Adele Enersen started a blog posing her sleeping daughter in various poses entitled Mila's DaydreamsThe collection later published in the book When My Baby Dreams.
photo by adele enersen, found at
photo from:
Action Movie Kid is taking all of this digital fun to an extreme. With a dad employed by Dreamworks, this toddler has the most awesomely documented (!) life. My children couldn't stop laughing at the short (mostly around 10 second) movies made by James' father Daniel Hashimoto.
video still from

Monday, February 3, 2014

playground without rules…

I think back to my childhood with very fond memories. School days seemed to be spent in the playground with occasional breaks to learn the basic skills of reading writing and math. At primary school we would wolf down our packed lunch or snack (outdoors) before racing off to dig in the sandpit, jump on the trampoline, play amongst the gnarled roots of the cyprus trees, swing on the monkey bars, hang from branches, kick a ball, tumble on the horizontal bars, play tag, roller skate, play mini tennis or four-square, throw quoits, jump rope, play elastics/stockings, leapfrog the bollards, climb knotted ropes… basically act like kids. Less energetic pursuits involved cats cradle, jacks/knuckles or marbles. The whole school population took breaks together. The playground was alive and full of energy. This energy was contagious. All were engaged somehow.

I look at my kids today and feel sad. They eat lunch indoors, in the cafeteria. There is no play time after lunch. One 20 minute recess is provided per day. This is spent at the teacher's discretion and does not necessarily occur at the same time other classes have their break. Recess is spent outside, dependent upon weather conditions. Recess activities are regulated and there are restrictions on more boisterous activities. At least one child spends the major part of recess in time out. My oldest child tells me they are about to ban kids from playing football as they don't want children to tackle one another. It all seems very static and boring to me. 

Paul showed me this video of a stance taken in New Zealand (originally part of a university study) to remove onerous and stifling rules from the playground. The Principal who adopted this approach speaks about benefits here. The resulting impacts are brilliant. Not only are the children becoming more engaged and creative, there have been the added effects of increased camaraderie, less vandalism, no need for time outs, and reduced bullying. The children are also better equipped to learn as they burn up their excess energy through play. Love it! 

It reminded me of the playground scene in the first episode of the Seven Up series. Apparently, post-war Europe was well aware of the benefits of Adventure Play. See this documentary for a totally convincing case for free play and its benefits (from the 1960s perhaps?). 

For the sake of comparison, here is the American 'take' on removing rules in the  playground.

Monday, January 27, 2014

first visitors for the year

We have just said goodbye to our first visitors for the year. Paul's brother Arthur, his wife Nikki and their daughter Milena.

It was wonderful to finally meet our niece. The kids loved having a little one to entertain and it was great to see them trying to find activities for Milena. It would seem Mietta is totally over her 'stinky baby' reluctance to deal with anyone younger than she. 

It was SO very cold during their visit. So much so that the kids were at home during the entire visit - with snow and 'too cold to go to school' days. This curtailed sightseeing, but allowed for some lovely bonding. 
During a bout of sunshine and less-cold, we attempted a sledding expedition. This was great fun and enjoyed by all until we couldn't stand the cold any longer! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

family values

This was an interesting rum sum sum project I just completed. The request was for a list of family values important to the family that requested it. They plan to put it on the wall to remind themselves of the things they value and find important. 
The poster is going to be printed onto canvas and stretched. I can't wait to see what it looks like hanging on the wall. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

next... on the beltway

Congratulations to our darling Nicolas who after much perseverance (and pain*), finally received his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. So proud of this little boy. 

*unbeknownst at the time, Nic completed his test with a fractured wrist!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

when it rains...

....if it's cold enough, it ice storms! That was how we started the week, with the children having two 'snow days' away from school. Then a nasty stomach bug kept Mietta at home for the rest of the week. The doctor who had examined Nic for his sore wrist rang to say that the radiologist discovered the sore wrist, was in fact due to a fracture... so off to the orthopedic specialist to have a cast fitted. Returning with Nic and his bright green cast, I had a call from the school nurse to tell me Luc was vomiting. Ah! I picked him up from school and returned to our ailing young girl. With a bug (Norovirus) that didn't let go, Mietta was taken to see her pediatrition Friday morning - who then sent us off to the ER to get Mietta rehydrated. 
poor baby with the biggest smile she could muster
It was wonderful to see a bouncy exuberant young lady this morning. Hydrated, sated tummy, happy and back to her usual chatty self. 
A friend noted that this was sure to get all 'holiday drama' over-and-done-with - so we should have a peaceful vacation. Fingers crossed. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

definitely no smart alec

My mind boggles at the pure ridiculousness mentioned in this article. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has proposed a number of strategies to curtail clean and renewable energy initiatives. The strategy that really made my jaw drop was the suggestion to penalize those who have installed solar panels by charging them for feeding excess power back into the energy grid. This appears to be ludicrous. I have written before on the glee that some friends express when they receive a $0 energy bill. Much of that glee is also attributed to the part they play in addressing both climate change and an increasing demand for power.

I am fully aware of the significant costs associated with connecting homes and businesses to the energy grid. Home and business owners who install solar panels also bear considerable cost. The inequity lies with the use and 'cost' of power provision. Solar panels create energy. Excess energy is available to be fed back into the grid. Excess energy costs nothing for the Utility to generate, yet the Utility can take this power for free or for a negligible cost and on-sell it for profit. Utility companies pay significantly lower prices for excess energy than the Utility sells power to the consumer). To charge the consumer for creating excess power would seem as if the Utility companies' want their cake, and want to eat it too - TWICE!