Week 5: Cardboard sleds

In January my son was scheduled to compete in a school board wide cardboard boat design and race.  On the day of the competition there was a snowstorm and all the buses were cancelled: thankfully the event was postponed to February and not cancelled.

February rolls around and on the day of the rescheduled competition Mother Nature had yet another temper tantrum and there was more snow, the schools were closed, and this time a cancelled, not postponed, competition.

The night before the storm my husband came home with a giant stack of cardboard and three rolls of duct tape and I’ll admit I wasn’t thrilled.  My kids are all obsessed with cardboard and their creations are scattered around the entire house. As are bits of cardboard and duct tape.

The boys spent the entire morning constructing cardboard sleds.  They periodically took them outside to test them in our backyard and then returned to the living room for more tape and more reinforcements.  In the late afternoon we headed to a local tobogganing hill to put their creations to the test.

They didn’t move quickly on the sticky snow but the boys were thrilled they actually worked and as they went down the hill again and again they smoothed out a path for themselves and started to pick up speed.

They say duct tape can fix anything and in this case it certainly did!  Disappointment over missing the competition he worked so hard to prepare for was definitely lessened by hosting our own cardboard creation event.  

Photography Tip:

When you’re shooting on a hill or incline, trying taking photos from different points on the hill.  You can completely alter your perspective of the same scene or subject just by changing where you stand.  It’s also a great way to eliminate distractions. In the photos of my boys I was able to remove the houses, vehicles and people at the top of the hill by laying flat on the hill and shooting really low to the ground.  Just make sure you’ve got fast reflexes if you plan to lay down in the middle of the action!

Week 6: New York

I grew up in the country and love to hike, camp, and spend time outdoors, which is why my love of New York city is a bit baffling to me.  I am definitely not someone who enjoys spending time in the city but for some reason I’m drawn to New York and it’s somewhere I’ve been several times and keep wanting to go back to.  

I have admired Rachel Neville’s work for a few years and on a “maybe one day someday” bucket list put one of her workshops.  But for some reason travelling to New York to take a workshop that would be incredibly creatively fulfilling and 100% for me, seemed unnecessarily selfish.  If a friend told me they planned to take a similar trip I would be endlessly encouraging and supportive but why couldn’t I approach my own dream with the same enthusiasm?

In a moment of strength, which I initially saw as weakness, I signed up for one of her two-day dance photography workshops.  Dance? I know. I am not a dancer. I was not a dancer as a child. I was a competitive dressage rider, which is often described as equine ballet, and so my love of movement and art is definitely not coming from out of left field.  But my love of ballet is definitely something that surprises people!

In February I travelled to New York on my own for the workshop and I have so much to say about the experience but for now I will describe it as transformative.  As an artist who is also a business owner sometimes it’s hard to focus on my artist self because my business requires so much attention and work. I am so excited to experiment with light and movement and to pursue an art form that calls to me and has done so for many, many years.

Photography Tip:

Every week I have been sharing a photography tip along with my photos from my 52 week project.  This week it’s not a tip per se but rather an encouragement to look at your creative bucket list and choose something to do just for yourself.  The arts are so fulfilling and yet they get pushed aside as impractical. When we are busy or our budget is tight, they are the first to get cut or to be seen as an indulgence.  It doesn’t have to be a week long artist retreat it could be as simple as picking up water colour supplies for yourself or maybe taking a free online drawing or music class.

Week 7: Thirteen

When I imagined myself as a mother I envisioned my children as babies but I never thought ahead to what life would be like once we got through the baby and toddler stage.  I think it’s because sometimes I felt like we would never make it past the baby or toddler stage.

The years are literally speeding by so fast it makes my head spin.  Motherhood is this bizarre combination of the fastest slog you have ever endured; simultaneously a sprint and a marathon and the most rewarding and frustrating experience of your life.  

I’m still a bit shocked we have a teenager.  So many days I feel old and tired but having a 13 year old seems like something that should be happening in 10 years.  That’s how fast his childhood sped by.

Many of you have met him because as he’s gotten older, he’s helping more and more with my business.  He’s funny and smart and kind. His sense of humour leaves me in tears and his grasp of math and the stock market baffles me. He bought his first stocks at 12. 12. He loves unicorns and history documentaries (especially British ones) and is obsessed with finding meme’s on Pinterest.

He is this magical combination of laid back and disciplined and watching him figure out what’s important to him is incredible. He still loves to hang out with us and if the teen years are anything like the tween years have been I’m excited by what’s to come.

Photography Tip:

Parents of toddlers think taking photos gets easier as your kids get older but parents of tweens and teens know that isn’t the case.  The weird faces get weirder, the resistance is stronger, the sass (and dabbing and rabbit ears and peace signs) are never-ending. My reminder to all of you this week is to keep taking photos.  Your kids don’t need to be looking at the camera and they don’t need to be smiling for you to photograph them. Take photos of them at home. Take photos of them doing what they love. Take photos of them with their family and friends.  Make sure you’re in photos with them. Don’t aim for perfect photos just keep up your persistent effort to record your child as they grow, hidden faces, scowls and all.

Week 8: The pool

My son started swimming with a local team in their recreation program when he was 9.  Last year he moved up to the competitive program and has spent 4 to 5 days a week training ever since.

It seems fitting that one of my kids would choose a time intensive and early-morning sport since I spent my tween and teen years horseback riding, which involves long hours, and early mornings, at the barn.

Not only has it been incredible to watch him discover a sport he loves and to thrive under his coaches instruction but we have met the most wonderful families and our circle of friends has expanded in ways that I hadn’t anticipated as my kids got older.  

Despite all the time he spends at the pool I have very few photos of him swimming because cameras aren’t allowed on the pool deck where he trains, understandably so, and at swim meets there are 6 to 8 lanes, which means where I find seating and where he is competing is like a jackpot of “will I or won’t I get the photo”.

Our March Break trip provided the perfect opportunity for me to get in the pool and take photos of him doing what he loves.  Thankfully he was happy to oblige AND I managed not to drop my camera.

Photography Tip:

As your kids get older I know that their reluctance to be in front of the camera increases but their hobbies and activities are a great chance for you to get  candid photos of them doing what they love. The majority of my photos of my son on the pool deck are taken of him “in his element” and I love that we see a different side of his personality than what I normally capture in my photos of him in the studio or around the house.  I encourage you to take photos of your kids as they practice, perform, or compete and to focus on telling a story of their passions and activities rather than trying to get their attention for a photo of them looking and smiling at you.