On Your Mark…

…Get Set…

Young children know when to take action.

They just know…

Even if it’s just the spark of fun ignited by a soccer ball and the chance to race dad up and down a court at the neighborhood park.

charlie soccer 12-26-19 2 copy

They don’t wait for instruction at the age of 3 ½.

They don’t second guess themselves.

Rarely do they wonder what to do next.

Or hesitate to debate all the possibilities.

Or weigh every risk.

soccer dec 26 2019 copy

Rarely is there self doubt…

Only a response to pure instinct…

Before fulfilling a simple wish…in a simple game…for the exhilaration of out-of-breath, heart pumping movement.

One kick at a time.
One step at a time.
One jump at a time.
One giggle at a time…

…GO!

Shrieking with confidence.
Under a sunny sky.

soccer kick copy
We have much to learn from such joyful spontaneity.


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Doubly inspired…

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #78: action

…think about where action is needed in your life, or in the world in general. The word itself does not need to appear in your post, but the movement should be obvious.

A Photo a Week Challenge: At Play

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO (OR MORE) OF PLAYING.

Holiday Highlights

Inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo: Holidays

The challenge for this week is to bring out the magic that you find in the season and share it with one another!

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A good friend of mine has a saying: Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a season.

I would further elaborate.

It can bring out the goodness in people. The willingness to share with those less fortunate. The willingness to share an extra smile. Doing what they can to brighten someone’s day. Bringing real meaning to the greeting Happy Holidays.

I spent the week of Christmas in Washington, DC at my daughter and son-in-law’s home. Surrounded by love-infused holiday festivities…marked by delicious meals, cookie decorating, present opening, cooking and baking side by side. Playing pretend with my grandson. Reading stories. Building Lego cities. Singing Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

One night we all went for an early evening walk…parents, grandparents, 3 year old and two dogs…

Let’s go look at the lights! 

house lights

house lights 3

house-lights-one.jpg

A holiday season highlight…

light night

…a once a year magical moment.

 

 

Photo a Week: Christmas Memories

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Christmas Memories

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE ONE OR TWO OR MORE PHOTOS OF YOUR CHRISTMAS AND/OR HOLIDAY MEMORIES.

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Christmas memories fill up my photo albums. All the best ones involve my family…when our children lived at home and we celebrated together.

Choosing just a few was indeed difficult…

One of my favorite memories was the year my son was a fast moving – very curious – toddler. At the tender age of 13 months, he was able to dash from one end of the living room to the other, quicker than we could catch him.

The Christmas tree presented a special challenge that year…as he was fascinated by those shiny things hanging from the branches. As well as the colored lightbulbs strung on green wire. Which he could unscrew, shouting HOT! HOT!

Barricades were in order…

christmas barricades

…until we removed them on Christmas morning…

Which presented the perfect opportunity for ornament inspection and removal…while daddy and big sister were opening their stockings and getting their pictures taken…

christmas 1988
1988

However, nine years later…

decorating 1997
1997

..he was the expert at hanging the ornaments up ON the tree.

One more special memory.

 

 

 

 

Pause to Listen

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #77: Pause

As the world bustles, and we rush to meet deadlines, check off to-do lists, and fulfill those party invites, find a moment to pause, look, and listen. Share a photograph, thought, or inspiration.

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It’s been a busy week. Next week – with Christmas in the middle – will be even busier.

However, I realized the need to…pause…in my usual December madness of holiday planning, shopping, wrapping, card writing – and all that leads up to the 25th.

This past Tuesday I flew to Washington DC to attend my daughter’s commencement ceremony at the Univ. of Maryland College of Education. Where she received a doctoral degree in Education Policy. How could I not go? Even if it was the week before Christmas. She worked extremely hard and I am so happy for her. Oh…and proud too.

Traveling is one of my least favorite activities as I’ve gotten older…especially in winter weather. So imagine my rising anxiety level on Tuesday with the snow falling at a steady clip as I rode the bus to the airport. No surprise when I found out (after boarding) that the plane was delayed.

I sat and waited….with a look out the window…

plane snow

Two hours later…

rain plane

All the while hoping the flight wouldn’t be cancelled.

rain plane window

My only choice…trapped in row 14 for 4 hours…was to pause, look and listen…

…but mostly to think…about the ceremony I would attend the following day, along with my son-in-law and grandson.

This would be the last of many graduations I’d attended for the little girl who grew up so fine and fast. Who loved school and learning from the age of 3. Passionate and driven by a desire to make this a better world for everyone. Not just for people like her…who are blessed with opportunity and privilege.

She was also the commencement student speaker.
I told my grandson, snuggled in my lap…Mama will be making a speech!
Why? he asked.
Because she has important things to say! I answered.

speech

She proposed a different approach for those graduates entering their postgraduate lives – the flip side of talking and sharing their voices…

….Pause. Close your mouth, calm your mind, allow for silence. Cultivate humility. Acknowledge the limits of your education and engage in the practice that scholars and advocates call “radical listening.” Community organizer and activist Chanel Lewis describes radical listening as “intentionally quieting your internal voice and judgments thereby offering your full mental space to the speaker and suspending what you presume to know about someone and their experience in our shared society.”…Radical listening, I argue, is a crucial skill to help move our world toward greater justice….
Dr. Kristin Sinclair

This is just a snippet of her three minute speech, but it caught my attention.

Pause.

You don’t hear that advice very often.
Usually it’s…Speak Up. Talk. Be heard.

Pause and listen…listen without judgment.

Perhaps that is radical.

But I like it.

It gave me much to think about on the plane the next day…

plane sun

…before returning home to my holiday to-do list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nostalgic Cookie Sing-Along

Inspired by:

Lens-Artists Challenge #75: Nostalgic

…I look forward to seeing the nostalgic moments that are most special to you. Past holidays, times with family and friends, travel moments, or just something that reminds you  fondly of days gone by – it’s your call. Give us a small peek into the things you’re nostalgic about.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #76: Music

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Get out the red and green sprinkles!
And the tiny chocolate chips!
Cookie sheets!
Cookie cutters!
Start the music!

It’s Time!

IMG_1598

When I was raising my children – and by the time each was around 2 years old – we made Christmas cookies together as a family. Simple cream cheese sugar cookies.

We used the same aluminum cookie cutters I used when I was a child.

Our tradition? I made the dough the day before so it was easier to roll out.
My daughter – and then my son – learned how to use a rolling pin and press a tree or bell shape into the flattened dough.

1992 t
Let the decorating begin…

Creativity was serious business.

The teenage years sparked unique decorating ideas such as the occasional anatomically correct gingerbread man. Ahem. All in good fun though…

Every year we were accompanied by the Sesame Street Christmas Sing-Along album pumping through the speakers (yes, we had speakers in the kitchen!)…and the clicking of the Canon camera.

My husband, I and the “kids” continued this annual family tradition for over 25 years…always accompanied by Big Bird, Cookie Monster (of course!) and the rest of the gang.

Cookies in the making. Oven warming. Four voices singing – the muppets’ lines memorized to perfection…

It’s that time of the year
When we all want to hear
A Christmas sing-along…

Or

Count, count, count — counting the days,
Count, count, count — counting the day…
I’m counting the days, ’til Christmas day is due…

(just a sample taste of this fabulous album – released in 1984 – just in time for our family).

A bit of nostalgia I never tire of revisiting…

1995 k t cookies
Cookies!
Decorated or about to frosted!

…both in pictures and in song.

Photo a Week: Babies

Inspired by Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Babies

Super cute, super funny, super whatever, human, animal, or whatever, we want to see your babies!
IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO (OR TWO OR THREE) THAT FEATURES BABIES.

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I don’t need much inspiring when it comes to baby pictures. And there’s no way I can limit this post to three photos. Be warned.

I have always believed that babies are the most fascinating subjects for photography. They are just…who they are. Their faces…their expressions…. Transparent. Open.

Happy. Sad. Tired. Bored. Sleepy. Curious….the list is endless.

Choosing just a few family photos for this challenge was…challenging! They were all taken with a Canon 35mm (film) camera – except for the last one which was with an iPhone.

When my kids were babies, I took a weekly photo during their first year. I think they got used to it…all I know is I got some interesting glimpses into their personalities.

For instance, my 10 month old son first thought it was hilarious…then not so sure……then I’m outta here.

My daughter loved getting her picture taken anytime, anywhere.

kris baloons

Although easily distracted by rug or blanket fibers…

…which soon became an afternoon snack…fine motor skills already well developed.

When my grandson was 10 months old, he enjoyed his first tour in a shopping cart up and down the toy aisle with Grampa and me…

shopping

…clearly amazed at the experience.