My attempt at answering the questions and addressing the comments that I receive most frequently:
How do you accomplish so much?
I find that this is the question that I receive most often, and it’s also the hardest to answer. The simplest response is that I am quite sure that I don’t accomplish any more than you do. We just accomplish different things. There are times in my life where I find that it’s all I can do just to feed everybody, and even then I still have days where my kids have to ask, “mommy, what about lunch?” Sometimes life is all about a new baby: nursing, changing diapers, and hoping to get a bit of time for myself at the end of the day. Somedays the baby takes a nice long nap, the sun shines bright, everyone wants to play outside for hours, and I accomplish a project that I’ve been hoping to tackle. Some days I go to bed with my house in shambles, too tired to care. Somedays I work really hard and get my entire house clean, only to have it be wrecked by little ones in a span of ten minutes when I finally sit down to take a break. This is life with children. When I write here, I am often celebrating a little accomplishment (or a big one!) with pretty photos, but be assured that the process was probably messy, and I surely let something else slide that day.
Your life is so beautiful!
Well, yes it is. But, I am a believer that life is beautiful. The easy beautiful, and the ugly beautiful. I think that is what you are picking up on when you visit me here. Because even on the bad days, even when I am suffering from sadness or anxiety, I hold onto the truth that life is a gift, and I love it. I lost my best friend to a terminal illness when I was twenty, and losing other loved ones over the years, including my stepmom in 2010, I have become so grateful for the time that I am given here. I have learned to go with the flow of things most of the time (but trust me, not all the time.) I learned during the year after Beatrix (the baby who didn’t sleep, cried constantly, and could never be put down) was born and our adoption was finalized, that life can sometimes spin completely out of control. In the face of the fact that I am ultimately not in control even on the best of days, I learned to find the beautiful and the good, to see the gifts in each day. Otherwise, I would have indeed lost my mind and my joy. If nothing else, I am grateful for the hard times, the times that taught me that beauty is always surrounding me, I just have to scratch the surface sometimes to find it peeking back at me. And on a technical note, photographs make life look beautiful. That must be why I take so many. Photography is an art. A camera is just a tool that when used well, can make even a pile of garbage look beautiful. You can trust that if there were a soundtrack to accompany my photos here, you would hear not only children laughing but fighting as well. You might hear me reading a story to my girls, or me yelling to my boys that they better get back in the kitchen and finish their chores. You would hear the sounds of a big, ordinary family just like any other (well, mine might be louder….)
What kind of camera do you have? How did you learn to use it?
I am not a professional photographer, and shoot candid photos almost exclusively. Sometimes my photos are great, sometimes not. I am self taught mainly through trial and error. My goal is to capture moments and sometimes I am able to capture them beautifully, but not always. My camera is a Nikon D90 and I use a variety of lenses, but usually a Sigma 50 mm 1.4. I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to make minor edits to my photographs but I usually prefer the appearance of an unedited photo. You can find everything that I use listed in my little Amazon shop. The first step to taking better photographs is to learn enough of the basics so that you can take your camera out of auto mode. I highly recommend the book Exposure.
edited to add: As of Fall 2012 I am now shooting with the Nikon D600. I loved my D90, but it was losing steam after many years of hard work. I am very pleased with my upgrade, but will always love the D90!
How would you describe the method of homeschooling you use?
I guess the word eclectic would best suit our learning style. We aren’t unschoolers, but we also don’t follow one specific curriculum. Our homeschool is constantly evolving to best meet the needs of our family. We typically “do school” four days per week.
I would like to learn to knit, can you point me in the right direction?
I was lucky enough to have a friend teach me to knit when I was in college. Back then that was pretty much the only way to learn, one on one with someone, unless you were able to teach yourself from a book. Now the internet is full of tutorials. You can search pretty much any knitting technique online and find videos to help you. Knittinghelp.com is a great website with lots of video tutorials. There are countless books written to teach you how to knit out there as well. I personally used the Teach Yourself Visually guide to knitting to reteach myself after forgetting all that my friend had taught me. Knitting classes are usually offered at local yarn stores as well. So, there are lots of possibilities!
Finally, a question that you might be surprised to know that I receive frequently:
I was raised Catholic and at some point fell away. I’d like to reconnect with my God, and my faith. I don’t know where to begin this faith journey and hoped you might give me some advice.
This is a question that I always feel so unqualified to answer. I am afraid that I will say the wrong thing, but at the same time I truly want to help. You might start with a simple prayer, asking God to help you. I was recently introduced to the Catholics Come Home website and would recommend that you check it out. It’s an amazing resource. Seek out your local Catholic church. Try to find a time that you could visit the church, and just sit inside in the presence of Jesus. Open your heart. Pray. Try to connect with your local Catholic community, maybe through a mom’s group. It was a friend whom I met a local mom’s group who led me to convert to Catholicism after years of searching.
May God bless you and keep you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.