Wednesday, December 29, 2010

First Year

Everyone always says,  "time just flies" but when you look at that from the last 6 months in the life of one of my favorite little babies... you can really see the changes that such a short time can bring....  I was just playing around as I finished his holiday set and I'm gearing up for his Valentine set with his pretty momma.... so stay tuned.

I have also acquired some cool new props for new babies in the garage studios.... so stay tuned for that as well.  Now- bring on the New Year and all the new babies!!!!!

xoxo D

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Lights of Christmas

Last night we hopped in the car and made the trip to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens to check out their AMAZING light show.  I was sure it was going to be pretty, and I was expecting lots of lights draped on all the plants there.... I was not prepared for the absolute artistry involved.  It was light sculpture- but unlike anything I've ever seen.  If you have the opportunity this holiday season- go check it out.  It's a cheap date night out with the kids- for a big bang for your buck!  Enjoy!

For more on them- click here:

Oh- and there was a peacock sighting.... thanks momma- I know you would have loved this!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Sometimes, it's the strangest things that turn into a family activity.

I saw a "How-to" on Jodi Friedman's blog for her absolutely fabulous MCP site. {Have I mentioned I love her photo tools??????  I do- I heart them a lot...}.... any hooo... I read that 12.20.10 was to be a fab full lunar eclipse.

I decided to break out the tripod that was still in the box- collecting dust in the corner for oh..... 6 years.... and give it a whirl. 

I'm not going to lie... it was cold as all get out on the patio.... playing with my settings and trying to figure it all out.  Pretty soon- Big Daddy was out there- bringing me a jacket and with his video camera and tripod in hand.  Soon after- the girls came outside- to inquire what on Earth we were doing out in the cold.  They of course had the smartest plan- to watch from the hot tub.  So they disappeared to get suits and towels. We grown-ups had to rely on the rum in our egg-nogg for warmth. {WINK}

We laughed and answered their questions as we watched and waited as big fields of clouds rolled through- giving us the occasional perfect view of  a most spectacular moon.  And as the shadow began to move in to the bottom left of the moon- unfortunately- so did a solid mass of clouds..... and just like that- our perfect view was gone.  We watched and waited, and waited, and waited.... nothing.  I went back out periodically- but you could barely make out a faint light source- and you had to really strain to see it.

And while this is certainly not NASA worthy... I felt it was a decent job for my first attempts with my tripod and new lens.  I shot this with my Canon 50D with a prime 70-200 EF 1:2.8 IS II USM at F11 100 ISO

Thanks again for the tips Jodi!

And- I was able to laugh and spend some quality time with my family.

Go chase the moon tonight!

Friday, December 17, 2010

In the Life...

I'm not really sure where the hell the last year has gone.... I've been so ridiculously, insanely busy- quite on purpose really- that I haven't really given myself the time to mourn or think about my mom's passing.  I've developed amazing skill at swallowing down the tears and marching on with life- like she taught me to do... today is now Friday the 17th... and while the date of death is the 18th... it was this Friday, one year ago that the calendar stopped for me.  It was one year ago that my cell phone rang while I was standing in line at the post office- mailing out the last couple of little gifts to my folks.

It was my dad. ( he doesn't call unless it's absolutely necessary- partly because he doesn't hear well, and mainly because the old cowboy isn't much for chatting on the phone... never has been.)  He told me that mom had been airlifted to Spokane- and that they thought it was her heart.  The grey commercial carpeting in the post office began to swirl under my feet.  My mind raced- how could I make it there the fastest?  What about work- and the kids and their tourney the next day.... and how do I get to Spokane?  I hadn't been there in at least a decade... I remembered drive to Vantage and hang a left.... but I was on my way.  Making frantic phone calls to Ron and work.  Ron happened to be home- he reeled me back in- made phone calls and printed maps while I frantically packed an overnight bag.

A few minutes later I was in my car- fueling up and away I flew.  My phone was ringing off the hook and my foot was buried in the accelerator.  I was on a mission- on angel's wings.  I passed countless police officers on my way down I5 and out 90 driving 85+ MPH with a cell phone to my ear and tears running down my cheeks..... they didn't even blink. 

The news and conditions worsened the further East I raced..... I couldn't get there fast enough- and it was 34* and freezing fog and snow and ice everywhere.... the fact that I didn't end up wrapped around a Jersey barrier is a true miracle in itself....

The rest as they say is history....  When I arrived- she was just coming out of surgery.  And in my mind- we were going to be fine.  We were always fine- no matter how scary- and how many times she and I were at each other's bed sides for surgeries and emergencies over the years... we were always fine.  We were always fine because we were together.  There was never a doubt in either of our minds- for my entire 38 years on this planet- that we didn't have each other.  We'd been through some pretty scary crap together.... we'd be fine.....

Only it wasn't fine.  The full-up, tubed-up, inti bated state that stared back at me, made me want to throw up.   I watched the monitors blink and beep- knowing full well that the numbers I was seeing- were not good.  The constant flood of people in & out of her CCU room were all business... they didn't have time for warm fuzzies.  I continued to pray and think positively.... it wasn't working.  And after several hours of this painful dance.... the surgeon and doctors came to dad and I and told me what I already knew.....  that the machines had been doing the work for hours and the total lack of bp was killing off the tissues... we had to make the call.  Or rather he had to make the call as her husband.  I'm not sure that I have had- or ever will have had a harder time.  I had to raise my voice so that dad could hear me- and tell him as plainly and clearly as I could that we needed to turn off the machines.  The look of pain and terror in his blue eyes rips my heart out every single time I think about that moment.  Having to explain that she had already gone- it was just the machines moving air and fluids.  At first when we explained that it was time to the family who was there to supports us- no one was sure they wanted to be there when the machines were turned off.  It was like a bad movie that you couldn't escape from.  I kept thinking that if I opened my eyes again- I'd wake up and it would all just go away.  No such luck.

There was no doubt in my mind I would be there to hold her and say good bye.  And soon- our small and fragmented family joined me.  And one by one- we all kissed her good bye.  I sat at the head of the bed near her heart.  I remember thinking how perfect and soft her skin looked.  It felt like silk.  And I remember thinking how lucky I am that I got her lips- she had the most beautiful lips and smile- tho she'd tell you she hated her smile.  I remember wondering 'how the hell did we get here?'  I mean really... she's 56- 56 years old.... that's young now  why?  why me?  why her?  What will I do without her?  She was my best friend.... how do you live without your best friend?  The person you talk to several times a week and knows everything about you?  How do you live without that?

A few minutes later- there was just silence.  No more breath sounds.  Just peace.  The nurse marked the time and they turned off the monitors.  I just sat there... dumbfounded.  What now?  I had just driven to the edge of the universe at record speeds, knowing that my presence would surely rally her- and that in a few days- she'd be going home- and my life would "fine"....  now what? 

My Aunti asked me to sing Amazing Grace for her.... ugh.... I had to turn my back on the family- I couldn't look at them- and I could 't disappoint them either..... I was able to rally a chorus- first verse.... it was sad and mournful- probably a minor key.... but I made it through..... and the sounds of sobbing from daddy- just about killed me.

The next few days of the endless streams of phone calls and arrangements, more driving, more arrangements.... trying to hold my dad together.  Trying to hold my kids together.....Thank GOD for my husband- who played quietly in the background helping where he could- snuggling with the kids and whatever else needed to be done.  The other blessing in disguise was that it snowed- a lot the night we got back to Grangeville... so that was distraction for them.

In the spirit of keeping busy- the stream of phone calls and visitors was a welcome distraction and painful reminder.  Sometimes it's so hard to tell if folks want to see if you're just a blubbering mess or if you can keep it together... kind of a sick game really. But that's all water under the bridge now.

Her service was standing room only and the charity of her choice received record donations... evidence of a life well lived.  Folks came from amazing distances in the rotten weather to pay their respects.... something she would have never expected.....  My mom was incredibly loyal and giving- you knew you'd been loved and hugged by her.... even if she never thought folks cared or noticed.  They did.  She was loved and appreciated.  And she is missed deeply.

Her graveside was held in the snow- with flowers from my friends and family from over here- {and guitar pick from a fellow musician back home} laid on her urn.  I picked out the prettiest, girliest- blue inlaid urn I could find.... {she would have approved}. And again- my Aunti asked me to sing.... I'm sure not my finest performance - but  a song that we sang together and that she had sung for countless folks over the years....

I have been dreading this day for weeks... and suddenly it has crept up on me.  And while I suppose that it would be nice to curl up in a ball and have a good cry... the world just doesn't stop for me.  More of those life lessons I got from her I guess.  I have worked harder in the last year than ever before to be the kind of person she thought I was- and that I want to be.  I am making an effort daily to make the most of my everyday, to find the beauty in the smallest detail, to laugh out loud, and live in brilliant peacock color!

I miss my mom's voice, her laugh, her hugs- God knows her cinnamon rolls.... But mostly- I just miss her presence.  I miss knowing that she is a phone call or a 6 hour car ride away.  I miss her point of view- her advice- her ability to talk me out of the rafters when my temper got the best of me.  I miss her so much it hurts.  I have some great girlfriends..... but none that knew me as well as she did.

I'm sure that I've rambled for quite long enough.  If those of you reading this take anything away from this post- it should be this.  Count your blessings daily, don't wait to tell someone how you feel, say I love you often- and mean it, sing out loud, shake your butt and do a little dance, help when you can- sometimes all it takes is a smile or to lend and ear. 

Have a wonderful and meaningful holiday season.  ~Didi V.

** photos from various sources.  Music: Glory of Love by Bette Middler from the Beaches Soundtrack**

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweet Baby Faces

I just thought I'd share a little video creation  of some of my favorite baby shots from the last year or so.  These sweet little faces make my photo world go 'round.  I'm so lucky that folks bring me their little bundles of joy to chronicle their rapidly changing faces!

**All photos by Didi V of Natural Approach Photography.  Music: Silent Night by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr from the album Winterlude.**

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Monkey-ing around.....

So I know.... I'm way behind on this post....  This was from October- on a very wet Seattle day.

I love the zoo- more specifically- I love the Woodland Park Zoo.  It's beautiful- and while I don't love that the animals are in captivity- I'm grateful to be able to see and experience them up close and appreciate how magnificent and magical that is.

Our dear friends {the P- Fam} from Spokane were over for a visit and the kids wanted to go to the zoo... and it was the perfect day to go- there was virtually no one there but us.  We could linger as long as we wanted to with no worry of being in someone else's way.  It was great!  We were also joined by Sean's sister Sarah and her family- so I had lots of absolutely adorable little monkeys to photograph!

If you haven't gone- or been a while- go in the off season- it's a better rate and way less visitors!

Have a great day- go monkey around! xoxox Didi V.

Monday, December 6, 2010

And she could go all the way....

WoW!  What an exciting opening weekend for our girls' rec-league season!  Both girls did great! (and I better start saving my one dollar bills.. told them I'd pay them a buck a basket- not sure how long I will be able to keep that up if they keep scoring like this tho!)

Oni made her first 3 point shot and a few other sweet swishes.  Gabbi had the first four points on the board for her team and played like a Pit Bull out there- she was aggressive and all over the place.  Both of their teams have a group of girls who've never played before... but I saw some diamonds in the rough out there!  Could be some really good athletes with some practice!  Can't wait to watch them grow.

All in all- our girls came out of the weekend with some new confidence as they helped to lead their teams- along with some new bumps and bruises.... casualty of playing aggressively I guess.  Gabbi took an elbow to the mouth in the last 2 minutes of the game and was sporting a really fat and bloodied lip for the weekend... but she's ready to go back out and hit it again!

So proud of my babies!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Boys are back!

I am one lucky girl....  I am- really truly!  Not only did I get to hang out with friends and family and chase all over to sporting events- I got to play and snuggle with some super duper cute babies and their families this weekend! 

My adorable little neighbor baby (who thinks my two girls are the coolest thing since sliced bread and follows them around and wants to play with them from sun up to sun down.)  She's a built in baby doll to them- so it's a mutual adoration.  And makes me giggle that she just comes right in- pulls up the stool at the island in my kitchen and chats or has a bite of whatever we're fixing.  I love that our friends are so comfortable in our home.

Brothers Brayden and Michael popped in with their folks to see me for some holiday studio shots ( we were originally going to go and find some snow- but Brayden has been sick this week- so we just hung close to home.)  And I think both boys have grown just since we shot on Halloween!!!!  And they  both are just so stinking handsome!  Those blue eyes are crazy cool!  I love, love, love that I get to follow my client families- who have become great friends as they grow.

 Oh- and by the way- Gerber and GAP- I have your next models right here in greater Lake Stevens... just sayin.....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blue Christmas

I'll have a blue Christmas without you, I'll be home for Christmas, Silent Night, Silver Bells.... and the Ave Maria... all traditional holiday favorites. And certainly some of mine to sing and memories of mom and I singing them together as we would decorate the tree....

But this year as I break out the egg-nog and decorations and spin the Christmas carols.... it's bitter-sweet. Of all the years since I moved to Washington.... it took my mom's passing- to bring me back home last year. (I am struck with irony and regret on that point....) I am ready to enjoy the holidays- do fun things with my family and sing songs... but a little part of me is feeling overwhelmingly blue...

This week we turn over the calendar to December- to baking and decorating, singing, parties, craft bazaars, shopping, holiday mass.... and to the month where I lost my bestest girl friend ever... my mommy.

I can't believe how fast this year has turned over!.... After losing three of the corner stones of my life in the last year, along with other unexpected peer losses this year.... I'm amazed that it's already time for the holidays again.... and sort of relieved that 2010 is coming to a close. It definately makes you take stock of all the good things in your lives! May 2011 be a fresh start- and may the luck, love and blessings in my life continue.... for I am a very lucky girl!

I'm also reminded again of the quote, "That which does not kill us- makes us stronger..." I was pretty sure that my mom's unexpected death would bury me as well.... how would I survive without my best friend? My biggest cheerleader- my protector and my confidant? I miss her so much- and still reach for the phone to call her.... and then I feel so silly- like how could I forget that?

I decided to decorate for Christmas in her honor.... blue, white and silver- with lots of glass, beads, sparkle, glitter and glitz.... I think she'd approve... it's so not me- but it's definitely her! And if you're a believer of signs..... the big flashy neon sign moment came for me at Target the other night..... I was looking for a couple of things to complete the decorating (as royal blue- not really in my rainbow- that was all momma) and to my astonishment - the one ornament that stood out a me....was ONE, SOLITARY, bright blue peacock ornament.... if you knew my mom- (and she referred to herself as one) she was the biggest peacock ever! If it was bold color, flashy-sparkly, beaded and enough to drive my poor dad crazy..... she'd wear it! And she rocked it too! So I bought that silly ornament and he's sitting proudly near the top to preside over the tree.

That silly ornament was also a signal to me to live in her honor... to live colorfully- and to live out loud. We have to remember to make the most of our everyday.... don't wait to burn that pretty candle... or wear that expensive pair of earrings... or hug & kiss those near you. Life is short- make it a good one!

I wish you all a brilliant December- be safe- and have a phenominal holiday season!

Winter Wonderland

Winter arrived with a small skiff of snow this year- but lots of ice to make it all kinds of difficult to get around last week!

While we had less than 6" of powdery snow- the ice that lie below was wicked. We had had much precipitation and high winds and the drop in temperatures wreaked havoc on the Puget Sound with trees down across roadways and some power outages.

The kids were quite excited that they got an extra two days tacked on to their Thanksgiving holiday.. of course if this keeps up... they'll be in school 'til the 4th of July.... but to be able to play non-stop in the snow for 2.5 days before it rained and melted off- was priceless!

The "Big Dipper" as all the neighborhood kids call it was like a thriving metropolis of kids and sleds and colorful winter wear... and had it not been so danged cold- I probably would have hung out longer- but the windchill was in the single digits!!!!!

Baby O

Fall seems to have been here and gone and winter has reared it's head this last week! I'm so glad that we were able to take advantage of the fall color while it was still here for Miss O's pix!
I'm sure her folks will be happy to know- that her photos are done and on their way!

Have a great week! xoxo Didi V.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sophie and Evan

I'm sure you'll remember Sophie and Evan from a few weeks ago at St. Edward's Park in Juanita.... those lashes for days and flawless skin are a magic combo!!!! They are a hair from being done! Enjoy! xoxo D

Brenna II

Another quick glimpse of Brenna- you are all done and shipped out my dear- enjoy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Riley II

And without further a-do..... Riley girl is done! Enjoy!

xoxo Didi V.

Kolbie II

Had a super productive night last night! finished Kolbie's pix and Riley's family session.... Enjoy!

Let me know what you think about the new look..... trying out my new BlogIt! boards from MCP........

Mwah! {Didi V.}

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gina and Brian's E-session

Wahoo! I'm making progress this week.... Gina & Brian's engagement session at Carkeek Park is done!!! Enjoy the beautiful that they are!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marcy and Wil {part 2}

Wooohoooo! A few more bites from Marcy & Wil's big day- you're all done guys!!!!