Tuesday, October 15, 2013

october blog circle: {COMFORT} + 15 ingredients that = BEST comfort food ever.

get cozy. this is a LONG one - long winded and a little transparent today...

i was sitting on my cozy couch yesterday,
a nice warm cup of coffee in hand
trying to decide just which of the many "nikki's favorite things"
to write about for this month's blog circle -
the theme: comfort.

so many things that bring me comfort and calm
came to mind with immediacy:

story time with my three boys,
worship on sunday mornings,
a handwritten note from the hub,
a smile from one of my favorite boys,
a phone call to my mom, my mother-in-law or my sisters,
my favorite tea,
my favorite soup,
a nice long walk,
a beautifully written book,
a brick of cheese (yes, a brick) +
a super size glass of red wine,
sunset magazine,
the photos scattered on the walls of my home,
five minutes in an anthropologie store,
a chunky warm scarf,
am awesome chat with an awesome friend,
or - lets be really real - a slice of heaven {aka lemon loaf}.

i wondered...which amazing, wonderful + comforting someTHING should i write about?

and then i happened to glance over at my facebook feed.
i saw a photo of my beautiful mother - a smile on her face

and i knew exactly what
amazing, wonderful + comforting someONE to write about.

when my mother welcomed my
twin brothers into the world,
she had four other children already at home:
a tweenage son, two nearly pre-teen daughters
and a two year old!
(and i cannot even imagine having a third!!!!)

over the years of

sleepless nights,
skinned knees,
chicken pox,
flu bugs + snotty noses,
report cards,
broken toys,
broken bones,
broken hearts...

she has, hands down become
a MASTER comforter.

in recent years
she has been here, wholeheartedly
comforting us through hurts 
that cannot be fixed with
binkies, treats or band-aids - 
she has held her children up,
held our hands and wiped our tears,
prayed for and encouraged us 
as we have faced
failed relationships,
failed jobs,
drug addiction,
as we have lost loved ones
and battled illness
and faced so many other trials...

my mother has been a rock, helping me get
through one of the greatest battles i have faced.

it was during some weeks my mom and i 
spent on long walks together, training for a breast cancer 3-day walk
that i first noticed pain in many of my joints.
the pain worsened 
and additional symptoms crept in.

my mom was by my side for every appointment 
and test in the months that followed,
calming my fears.
in the thirteen years since i was diagnosed with lupus,
i cannot tell you the number of times
she has dried my tears and put a smile back on my face
or how many times she has said to me
"if i could take this pain away from you and take it upon myself,
you know i would."

my mom was the first to encourage me
and comfort away my doubts when 
i was told i may not be able to carry children -
she reminded me of my own strength and persistence
and of miracles. 

in the years since i became a mommy,
i have called on her so many times -
when ryan cannot be home
and my hands are too sore to 
change diapers and bathe babies - 
she comes to my rescue without hesitation.
when i call late at night, discouraged
that my hands feel broken,
and i have hundreds of photos to edit...
she stays on the phone with me until she can tell
that i am again smiling on the other end.  
she is a selfless, compassionate comforter.

minutes before oliver was born
my mom came into the delivery room,
kissed me on the forehead
and, with tears in her eyes,
told me how excited she was for 
me to become a mom 
and experience the greatest joy that there is.
when she thinks of motherhood,
she pays no mind to the pain that has come along with years of
comforting her children -
the trials she has faced head-on with each of us.
instead, she recalls
first smiles,
first steps,
first words,
art projects,
family game night
dance recitals,
the overwhelming warmth that came with
watching her children run and play
and grow and love...
she recalls joy.

when oliver was placed in my arms, 

i understood.

i understand my mom's unwavering devotion to her children.  
i understand that it is true: your heart lives with your children. 
your need and your capacity to comfort grows a million times over
when you hold your baby for the first time.
there is no pain greater than the pain you feel on behalf of your children
when they are hurting
BUT there is no greater joy than
knowing that your babies are healthy and safe and happy.
to comfort your child's heart is to comfort your own.

my mother is a pillar of strength.
even on the days when she may not think she is -  
as she cries and prays over one her six (grown) babies 
as we face life's battles - 
she is strength.
 and she brings comfort to all of us. 

there are always trials.
i thank God for the incredible people in my life
who help get me through them... 
my husband, my children, my parents, my sibs, my friends
who lift me up, who fill my heart.
they bring me joy.
and comfort.



ps. - on a bit of a lighter note, 
a recipe for the BEST COMFORT FOOD EVER. 

{souper awesome}
tortellini soup 
(courtesy of a rad friend and photographer, christy pelland)

2 zucchinis cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 yellow squash cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 green pepper cut into 1 inch squares
1 red or yellow pepper (include the seeds if you like kick)
5-6 carrots chopped 
1 medium sweet onion chopped 
2 large cans whole stewed tomatoes (juice included)
1 large can tomato sauce
1 lb turkey sausage
1 lb italian pork sausage
4-5 cans low sodium beef broth
1/2 bottle of red wine
3 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper 
1/2 c. unpacked chopped fresh parsley
1 family-size (20 oz) package refrigerated cheese tortellini (i like buitoni)

here's how i roll:

i begin by opening the red wine and pouring myself a glass
(so as to not be wasteful - the soup only calls for half the bottle)

next, i like to saute the onions and garlic in a bit of EVOO
and set aside.
then i brown the sausage in a large cast iron pot.
once browned, i add all other ingredients 
other than the parsley and the tortellini.

bring soup to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about an hour 
or until the veggies are at the perfect 
consistency for your liking.

bring the soup back to a low boil,
add the tortellini and parsley
and boil per the instructions for tortellini
(normally about 10 minutes?).

dish to bowls
and throw some shredded italian cheese on top for 
added comfort
(and sodium and overall deliciousness).


before you run off to the grocery store
for wine, tortellini, etc. -
sit tight and enjoy another blog post
(or many more - I encourage you to follow the circle!):
see what my super awesome friend and fellow teacher
Cheryl Bidleman has to say about COMFORT


Friday, October 4, 2013

A photography book you MUST OWN: Your Child in Pictures {by Me Ra Koh}

my dear friend, mentor + teaching cohort Me Ra Koh 
{a total ROCK STAR behind her camera AND her keyboard}
has done it again -
she has taken her passion for bringing moms, kids + cameras together
and has written another AMAZING book -

a photography book that 
does not put you to sleep with pages and pages of tech, tech, tech....
but rather makes you laugh out loud, reminisce + maybe even cry a little.
this book (just as Your Baby in Pictures did before) left my heart
happy and inspired!

Your Child In Pictures is brilliantly written
to speak to the heart of parents who yearn to
take better pictures of their families -
to capture the beautiful moments that tell their family's unique stories...
to create images that - when looked at years down the road -
will bring you right back to the moment it was shot.
cover to cover, this book offers incredible tips, tricks and photo recipes
for getting the best shots of your child(ren)
at every stage of growing.

this book serves to grow your creative voice and 
boost your confidence from behind the camera
while capturing the "voice" of  your (sweet little)
subjects on the other side of your camera.

from tips for finding great light to
setting up backgrounds with a purpose
to keeping your kids from running when the camera comes out
(and, of course - rad, easy to follow instruction re: camera settings)...
the easy to follow tips you will find in this book
will allow you to dramatically change your photographs overnight.

Me Ra's "refuse to say cheese" approach to photographing children
struck a cord in me years ago.
it is CRAZY to think of the moments, the images i would have missed
if i told my kids to stop and say cheese 
every time i held up my camera

an excerpt from the book:

The Power of Photography:

"...when you pick up your camera to capture your child's life, you are stepping into a creative space that has limitless possibility.  You are not just the family documenter.  You are also a healer.  What wounds of insecurity can you heal today? What taunting voices of not feeling pretty enough, cute enough can you quiet in your nine year old's heart?  What innocent bond between a four-year-old and his teddy bear can you preserve with a single photo?  These are the powerful moments that ask to be captured. 
some of your photos may not turn out, but many will.  in all the trying, learning, and pushing of your own creative boundaries, take a moment to pause - to look up from your focus - and see how you are not only capturing treasured memories but healing the world one child at a time, starting with your own."

i adore Me Ra and I adore this book.

you need a copy.

find it {here}
and be sure to order a copy of the first book in the series,
Your Baby In Pictures too {here}.
love, love, love them
 and i am certain you will too!

you can also WIN a copy by simply leaving a comment below OR
upload your favorite photo of your child(ren)
and tell me about the story you captured with it.
a winner will be randomly selected on 
friday, october 11th.




"the soul is healed by being with children" - Emma Goldman 

ps -

still have a few spots left in my
Photography Workshop.

sign up {here}