Meet Kelsey and Nate Schwenk, a husband/wife fine art wedding photography and film making team in Virginia. They recently won tickets to the Grammy’s and flew out to LA to attend. If that’s not awesome enough, they drove a few hours to my neck of the woods, and I got to photograph them! They are not only beautiful, but as genuine and kind as they come. Some days I just feel like this big ol’ world is full of these moments of intention, when you know coincidence had nothing to do with crossing the paths of certain people. Like it was part of the plan all along, and boy am I grateful for that. (all images shot on film)

Photographing motherhood is such a gift to me. As a mother of two (almost three!), I treasure so dearly the photographs I have of my children with me. They are forever preserved reminders of this exceedingly precious season. Getting to document those tender, beautiful moments for other mothers is something I am completely grateful for; and this session was no exception. I loved getting to spend the afternoon with Krista and her two sweet little ones in the warmth of that sunshine and love that shone so brightly within their walls. (all images shot on film | featured on Lemonade and Lenses)

So often as mothers, our days are saturated with tasks, tears, teaching and care taking, and those less glamorous moments can over shadow the sweet simple moments that stand out the most in our minds and our hearts. I love to remind mothers of these moments, because I need to be reminded of them myself. The light filled, love drenched moments of holding our babies, singing to them, speaking to them as they study our smiles, because we need evidence of those times. We need to wrap those memories around our hearts and think of that sweet simplicity when the days seem long, because these years with our little ones, they are so very short.

These are images that I made during a 1 on 1 mentoring session that I had with the incredibly sweet and talented Toronto based photographer Elza Photographie. She traveled all the way to Central California to spend the morning talking film and photographing this lovely pair. I adore mentoring other creative souls, and am sure that I end up taking more away from the experience. If you’d like to learn more about the digital and film mentoring sessions I offer, send me an email, I’d love to chat! (all images shot on film)

I open my eyes to that blue morning. The sun waking and stretching just beyond the horizon, casting a hazy blue tint over the sleeping hills and rustling trees. The house is quiet and cold. I wrap my sweater over my chilly bones and head for coffee. I sip slowly, drinking in that hot creamy promise of what the day will hold, and open my devotional. I know in part what it will say; don’t worry about the events of the day, for they have already been laid out before you; indeed. There’s a squinty eyed, crazy haired little girl that finds my lap and plops there inside that nest of comfort, and before long a drawn out “moooooommmmmaaaaa” comes sailing through the air from the nursery. He wraps tiny arms right around my neck as I lift him from his crib, eager for juice and a snack. We live there in that semi wakeful state for a bit, cups full of green juice and eyes glued on Wild Kratts, and just after that, when our minds are alert and ready again, our school day begins.

Let me preface this post by saying, homeschool works for us, right now, and no one knows what the future holds. We all make the best decisions we can for ourselves and our families, and although those decisions all look different, they are all the right decisions for each of us. So whether you choose to homeschool, public school, or private school, know that if it sits comfortably and peacefully in your gut, and your children are happy and thriving, then that’s undoubtedly best for your family, which I can assure you, is all, that truly matters. I often get asked if I will continue to homeschool through high school, and my answer remains the same, we will take it year by year. I will continue to pray each year that God provides guidance for us in this decision, and as long as my insides gleam with joy and contentment with teaching my children at home, then that’s just what I’ll do.

I taught high school English for six years before I had children, and somewhere along that road decided that homeschooling was something I wanted to explore when I had my own kids of that age.  So I began teaching Daphne at home when she was two and a half.  We began with The Learning Box Preschool curriculum, and I would highly recommend it for the 2.5-3.5 year old set.  After about a year she was ready for more, so I began supplementing with various materials catered to her age, or one year older.  There are tons of resources that can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.  I know there is a wealth of other resources out there, but I’ve found that I work best with fewer options, so these are the ones that have worked well for us, yet still provide a vast variety.

From the ages of 2.5-4 years old, I would do about 30-45 minutes of schooling with Daphne three mornings a week.  I wasn’t too strict on the days and times, just knew I wanted to commit to that amount of time with her more formal curriculum.  It’s pretty crazy how much you can truly accomplish within a 30 minute period when it’s just you and your child, so don’t let time be a huge factor to you.  I always keep in mind that even now, throughout an entire day, I am teaching my children continually.  They are either with my husband or myself, and in one way or another we are talking to them, explaining things, teaching them about a plethora of topics without being confined to walls or “school hours;” one of the many beauties of homeschooling for us.

Daphne started kindergarten this last fall.  I knew that I needed to be more consistent with our school times, and that we needed to be doing lessons Monday-Friday.  I wanted to make sure we were covering everything she needed in terms of reading and writing and math, while also being able to cover topics like science and history and bible studies in a way that made sense to Matt and I and our family’s values. So for the past six months we have done “school” every morning, Monday-Friday, and it takes us about an hour, sometimes less.  After doing some research and talking to other homeschooling moms, I knew I wanted to do something a bit more structured and laid out for me for this first real year of homeschool.  I wanted a curriculum to follow… and that lasted all of about 10 minutes.  I use Abeka k5, which caters to a classroom situation where there are multiple students.  Because it is just her and me, we can get through the day’s lessons extremely fast, so in order to expand our time learning in the morning, I’ve been doing a few days’ worth of lessons each day, which means we will officially be done with the kinder curriculum by the end of this week!

She’s reading everything (not always a good thing! haha), and her math and handwriting skills are incredible.  I’m so proud of her… and let me be extremely clear in stating that I really don’t think any of that had much to do with me!  She is and has always been very eager to learn, and easy to teach.  Teaching Sullivan on the other hand, is going to be an entirely different experience for us, so stay tuned for a blog post titled “why I chose to stop homeschooling,” ok probably not, but I can guarantee there will be many more hours logged in prayer, and perhaps more chocolate consumed while praying, you know, for my sanity basically.

And with the end of our formal kinder curriculum approaching, I am very excited to get to fill the next three months with other lessons in homemaking, cooking, farming, history, bible studies, and science.  We recently bought this book, which we will be diving into since Daphne adores cooking, and also this book (which has an activity book that goes along with it that we will also be using), this book, this book, among many more.

We have pigs, horses, cows, and chickens, and my husband is an almond farmer, so obviously farming and ranching is something we value and will include in our schooling.  I think that’s where you can really make this adventure your own.  You are in charge of what your children are learning and can therefore add in areas that make sense to your life. I also obviously love arts and nature, and so we are constantly on walks, picking out flowers, leaves, rocks, (bugs!), and taking them home to study, paint, and learn about. There are teachable moments everywhere!

Sometimes it feels like living inside a gingerbread house; surrounded by sugary sweet, idyllic and frosted. Where you stop and think about how much you’ll miss it when it’s gone. You want to scoop it up and pour in a jar to sit high upon a shelf for safe keeping. And there are other times it feels like sitting in a tree outside your window looking in. You see it happening, you hear muffled noises, the branches groaning beneath you from the weight. And you realize you’d better get back inside before it comes tumbling down. And once again you’re enveloped by warmth, muted sounds magnified, the whirring of the dishwasher and pleas from young ones. There are moments of calm, of glitz, of grey. There are moments, and moments never stay the same.

( all images shot on film in San Jose, Ca)