Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ready, Set, Open!!

Photographer's disclaimer:
I appologize in advance for the quality of these photos! Sometimes, like on Christmas morning before the sun is even up, it's more important to get the shot than to worry about proper exposure!
Ah! Christmas morning! It takes months to plan and save for, days to select and shop for gifts, hours and hours to wrap those gifts and 4.2333 minutes of frenzied paper tearing to end all of the anticipation!
One of Bren's favorite gifts! Now she can turn the camera on me!

This is the kitty that she asked Santa for everytime she visited him. This was one seriously wanted little cat and Bren's thrilled to have her. Her name is "Piggie-Pie"!

And for those of you who secretly think that I overload this blog with photos after photo of Bren, this is why! Here's what I get 90% of the time I try to take a photo of one of my other kids!!

From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy New Year!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The perfect gift, make believe and a chubby cheeked smile!

Now what could make a better day than that?
My favorite baby boy model came over today to let me photograph him in a few Spring sets.
He did awesome as usual!

Cody's big sister Kayla and Brendell had a playdate while I got to have adult conversation with their beautiful mommy!
I don't know who enjoyed this time more, Bren because she got to bring out all of her toys and play make believe until her heart was content, or me who got to sit and talk to Marica who I find so uplifting and fun to know.

Even Cody got in on the girl's play! Only a real man can look this cute while chewing on the beads of a Dora purse handle!
And as if it wasn't enough to let me photograph her baby and bring entertainment along for Bren in the form of her giggly daughter Kayla, Marica surprised me with these stamped cards, mini-notebook, and box of chocolates!!!!! Have you ever seen a more clever gift? I was just blown away by them and I can't wait to use the cards!!! I'm definitely going to hire her to make about 50 more of them for me!

At Home with Bren......

I've decided that I need to take more photos documenting everyday things instead of just modeling photos or photos where we are doing some sort of special activity. The whole basis of my photography philosophy is to capture connections, relationships and personalities so that our stories can be told to future generations. Aren't our real stories best told in the normalcy of ordinary everyday home life? Where else are we more real?

So, in keeping with what I love best about being a photographer, I'm going to dedicate myself to telling the story of our everyday home life here with my crazy family of six by snapping at least one photo everyday depicting just plain old life with the Clearys.


My challenge to you for the new year is to do the same! Get out your camera and snap at least one photo everyday. Ten, Twenty years from now those photos will be such a gift and you will be so happy you saw beauty in the ordinary!


We'll start with yesterday..... This is Bren being Bren. No designer clothes, no studio lights....just Bren and one of her dolls dancing around the living room.

I think Bren might just be the thirstiest girl in the universe! She's constantly asking for a drink. Her favorite is, "Apple juice in a blue cup." But a red cup had to do for today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Baby's Hug

Ok, so I had my cry this morning and here's why....
I got his e-mail from my Dad.
We were the only family with children in the restaurant.
I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking.
Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.'
He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray.
His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin,
as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.
I looked around and saw the source of his merriment.
It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked
out of would-be shoes.
His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed.
His whiskers were too short to be called a beard
and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.
We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.
His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.
'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik.
My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?'
Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.'
Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man.
The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.
Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room,
'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.'
Nobody thought the old man was cute.
He was obviously drunk.
My husband and I were embarrassed.
We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.
We finally got through the meal and headed for the door.
My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot.
The old man sat poised between me and the door.
'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed.
As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him
and avoid any air he might be breathing.
As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.
Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder.
The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes.
His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back.
No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.
I stood awestruck.
The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.'
Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.
He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though
he were in pain.
I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.'
I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.
With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car.
My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'
I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes.
I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not.
I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?'
when He shared His for all eternity.
The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the
Kingdom of God , we must become as little children.'
If this has blessed you, please bless others by sending it on. Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of what is really important. We must always remember who we are, where we came from and, mosti mportantly, how we feel about others. The clothes on your back or the car that you drive or the house that you live in does not define you at all; it is how you treat your fellow man that identifies who you are.
Dry eyes, anyone?
Thanks Dad!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Slip Sliding Away!

Fun in the snow just would not be complete without sitting on a peice of plastic and flinging yourself down an icy hill side !
All of these photos were taken at our second location. Our first location had a hill way too steep to climb up with a camera. The first hill was a super fast ride consisting of two very long hills connected by just enough of a level area to act as a ramp catapulting the rider into the air for frequent crash landings! It was a blast! I even threw myself off of that first hill and after a forward flip and face plant landing, decided that I was so thankful I had not brought my camera out on this location so that no one could immortalize that proud, ultra-smooth moment!

Even Bren participated at hill number two. She had so much fun!

And so did David!!!! Check out this air!

We took a total of eleven kids ranging in age from 4 to 16. It was fun hanging out with our kid's friends and watching them have such a great time!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow People!

So making snow people in the yard is alot like making sand people at the beach, except that your fingers and toes take hours to thaw out after you're done! And on the flip side, you aren't digging sand out of every nook and cranny for days afterward!
Meet Harriet the snow baby!

And Henrietta, the snow momma!

And Brendell, their designer.....

There's nothing quite as rewarding as taking the time to build memories like these even when you'd much rather be inside snuggled up in the warm house with a cup of hot coco!
Every once in a while it hits David and I of all that we'd be missing out on if we didn't have little Bren in our lives. The other three were off with their friends tonight....and they'd never be caught dead romping around in the snow in their front yard with mom and dad! We'd have missed all the laughter we had tonight making these two snow people.
The magic of Santa would not be a part of our lives anymore since the other three are long past that stage. Playing candy land and memory would be a thing of the past. We wouldn't get big goodnight hugs and kisses anymore or have a little hand to hold when in a crowd. Gone would be the sweet, warm little body that snuggles up in bed with me in the morning while the older kids busy themselves getting ready for school. We'd have no construction paper art work on our fridge. The words "hot", "hat" and "dog", Bren's first self written words, would not be proudly enscribed on just about every flat surface of our home. We'd have no dancing around in tu-tus and no tea parties with pretend crumpetts.
Even though our life presents some unique challenges because of the 12 years that separates our oldest from our youngest and the seven years that separate Bren from the pack, just look at how much she has enriched our lives!
How blessed we are to have each of our children and how awesome God's timing was to give us such a precious gift long after we thought the party was over!

Winter Wonderland

The first major snowfall of the season decended upon us yesterday and boy did we enjoy it!

Zach was the first home from school 2 hours early. He and a friend ( also from Florida and new to snow!) immediately jumped on the sleds I had just bought at Target that morning. At this point it had only been snowing for about an 2 hours. I was about 30 minutes away in Dartmouth, Mass getting some winter gear when the snow first started falling. It was a very scary drive home, but I just took a cue from the locals and followed in their tire tracks even if they crossed the white dotted lines. It seems that the rule is if you can't see the lines, they dont really matter!
I also only drove about 20 mph.....I figured my Florida License plate gave me a pass on that!

About 3 hours after the snow had begun falling...we've got about 3-4 inches here. It was falling at a rate of 1-2 inches an hour!

David tried to get a jump on the driveway and shoveled it off each time 3-4 inches had accumulated.

Michael and Madison had an early dismissal from school as well. They came home at about 2 pm and also headed straight out with Bren to play in the snow.

The snow stopped falling at about 10:00 pm. Here is what it looked like this morning. We got 8-9 inches in our area. It is supposed to be 39 degrees today, so I'm not sure how much will melt off. Tomorrow's high is 29 and then Sunday we should get another storm. A Noreaster this time which are usually longer and more spread out storms instead of the intense compact system that we just experienced.

The kids went to school as normal this morning! I could not believe it! I thought for sure that school would at least be delayed if not canceled, but these New Englanders are built for this kind of stuff! The roads look great this morning and the buses are running on time!
Hopefully enough snow will remain today for us to build a snowman! First I've got to venture out to find better gloves for Bren. Her's kept falling off and her little hands were freezing!
I'll post more pics of the snow as I get them!