Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happiness in a Click

I was incredibly skeptical of beginning this project 52. Sounds like it should be quite easy, as I am continually snapping away for the blog, but I had something distinct in mind for this plunge. 

In truth, I am rather new to the photo world, and it's a complex world with endless learning possibilities. With that spirit in my heart- I am hoping for this to be an opportunity to really focus on practice, on grasping command, and pushing my comfort level.

Lifestyle photography is really what calls to me- capturing moments and emotions, images that pull you in and incite something deep inside. It's also the area that I feel I need the most work in. It is so difficult to capture those fleeting feelings, a look, an action that you so desperately want to hold onto. They are gone in a flash your subjects attention whisked away to something new. Add in the all to important element of lighting and it is a true feat. 

This little shoot has turned out to be one of my absolute favorites. These images fill me happiness. They capture each of their personalities and hold light deep inside the frames. 

On this particular day the kiddos were not feeling all that well, and they weren't wholly thrilled by the prospect of having their pictures taken. So, I gathered up a  great bag of props, brought a speaker, and we traveled down the hill to some open fields. Blaring some poppin music, I left the bag of props out to be dug thru and played with at random. They had the greatest time, laughing and posing, silliness abounding.

The images come with memories lovingly attached- Eleanor in all her fiest and fury-captured perfectly as a beautiful mess in her little boy pajamas and lavender tutu- the incredible contradiction that she is. Aussie, wearing personality glasses and holding Mobley, her best friend and monkey she has carried with her since she was five months old- creative and one of a kind, finding her way between child and girl. Issac and those beautiful eyes, playing a game of peek a boo with a ukulele, while staring deep into your soul, and my Zain- vibrant yet quiet, clever beyond measure and witty as can be.

My, how I love my people.  


Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I am totally behind the times, and am always so very tardy to the game. It's mildly ridiculous, but as of late, well like years too late, I have fallen hard for instagram! I guess technically I've had an account for a spell, but I never fully participated or embraced this outlet, and I absurdly failed to follow anyone outside of my family and close friends.

Somewhere in the last few phases of the moon I started stumbling  upon these beautiful, heart warming feeds. Creatives who are brilliant photographers, poets, cooks, mothers, and visionaries. There are some that can describe my feelings better then I ever could hope, those that whisk me away with a single image, capturing light and happiness, love and sadness. There are prompts and contest and oodles and oodles of fun to be had.

So, yeah, I'm in. It's awesome!

Here is just a smidgen, a small smattering, of some of my favorites right now:

@oldjoy - her pictures and captions are flawlessly calming, and peaceful in a way I can't even describe.

@mamawatters - she is stunning, her pictures cozy, it's just an all around warm space.

@thegraygang - I'm going to be real with you, I am a bit obsessed with this gal. Her pictures radiate happiness. She portrays exactly what a life of a child should look like- colorful and messy and vibrant. Her writing is deep and heartfelt and somehow manages to make me cry beautiful sappy tears near every day.

@bethadilly - is great for anyone interested in photography. Her images are dreamy and white, full of bokeh and blur. Lovely, simple and lovely.

@denisebovee - Denise Bovee is just cool. Her pictures make me want to move to California, have a bonfire on the beach and dance under the stars:)

Now, while your out and about scouring the instragram world and  you would like to follow along on our adventures, come find me   @chels_holland 

What about you- who are some of your favorites?

p.s. I have written a piece for The Laundry Moms that is up today. I will tell you that to date it was the hardest piece to simply get written. I'm not quite sure of the why's on that, but regardless after much agonizing and procrastination I was able to at least turn something in. Check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you thought!   

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Homeschooling Heart

Yes, we are homeschoolers.

I realized that I've not written about it too often, honestly because I felt I had nothing to offer on the subject. I'm ever so slowly learning that that's just not true. I can't, or more accurately won't, offer advice, or give you how to's, or show you how organized and together we are because that's just not it. Yet, I'm not self-deprecating enough to show you how tragic everyday is and how we rarely get anything done, because that's not our truth either- What I can offer is honesty. My truth on our decision and the reality that lies there in.

I chose to homeschool for many reasons. The main and most important to me, being that I wanted to protect them. I fully realize that everyone is not wholly onboard with that ideal, but for Kaleb and I- our goal was to let them be kids. To retain a semblance of innocence and wonder, for as long as possible. We had a heart that yearned for them to be outdoors, exploring nature and driving creativity- our home and lifestyle is perfectly set up for this avenue of schooling. 

Life is just good here on the farm for a kid. There is much room to frolic and play, and imagination is thick. There is much for us to do as a family whether that be hiking and fishing, chopping firewood or caring for animals. It was a massive help and influence that there is a very large and very supportive homeschooling community where we live, also we were lucky enough to watch my sister in law, already finding her way with her own kiddos, so I got to see first hand the joys and adventures that can be fostered there.

Like everything else in my life, this was not a direction I would have ever foreseen in my future. Before I had these beautiful wilds I was positive they would go to school and I'm quite sure I thought homeschoolers were slightly weird, but as soon as my first little one was in my arms, I knew. Homeschooling just made sense- for our family, for our way of life and it has been a decision that I have never regretted.

There are times when the absolute gravity of this decision hits me. When I realize that these beautiful spirit's education  lies entirely in my hands, and it's a very sobering reality. There are beautiful days that are fun and smooth and easy, and  there are  ugly days when I want to pull my hair out and scream. 

The most difficult part for me has been trying to find what works for us. There are A LOT of opinions and suggestions from wannabe helpful mothers, and it can prove to be quite overwhelming and sometimes greatly disheartening. I have had the most trouble trying to work within the confines of a curriculum. My brain simply finds no creativity there. If I have it I feel I MUST do exactly, everything they tell me. I find no room in my head or our schedules for artistic pursuits and shear joy. At this place in my kiddos education I feel that fostering a love for learning should be my first and utmost priority. So I have been wading my way thru many a plan and an assortment of ideas and learning styles, trying to find what fits. A big factor for me has been putting any and all pride aside, being freely willing to admit when it's not working, and throw it all out and start anew.

I have a picture in my head of what I want our time together to look like- filled with crafts, hands on activities, projects and fun. Unfortunately this requires an extensive amount of researching, planning, time, organization and know how. Right now, I once again find myself in a reworking phase, yet I truly believe the greatest thing I could do would be to just let myself off the hook. Trust that it's going to be ok, realize that I can't get this time back, so just enjoy it.  

I have absolutely no idea how long we will continue. I take it one day, one week, one year at a time. If we come upon a time when this no longer suits us, then we will move on to something else. Any thinking too far ahead into the future makes it far too scary, but day by day it is very doable. If perhaps you are even considering homeschooing I would say yes! I do, I love it. I love being with them, I love being able to watch them grasp new concepts, getting to be a part of their education is  beautifully inspiring. Yet, I would tell you that you must find your own way. Every mom does it differently and each families goals for the day is different. Go into it with no expectations, don't complicate it, and open yourself up to new ideas and intriguing tactics. It's an outlet that has the power to be something truly amazing, if you let it. A journey that can strengthen and seal bonds, one filled with hilarious tales, sweet memories and unforgettable moments.

If you have any suggestions or advice- please, lead on! On the other side, if you have any specific questions about our day or plans or are in need of some homeschooling encouragement, definitely contact me and I will give it my best go. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Hint of Whimsy and A Dose of Random

After baring my soul for yesterday's post, I was in need of a little whimsy. Although, I have been suffering from a complete and total, debilitatingly annoying case of writers block. So,  I'm just going to take this time to shower you with happy images of my wee one and her chicken friends mixed with a little bit of random musings, because we could all use some random musings, right?

I had actually hoped to write a post about this wee one's sweet new shoes (seriously is there anything cuter then these little boots?!)and how they reminded me of my mom. She wore Sorrels everyday when we lived in Alaska. I have such sweet memories of that time and somehow the shoes have become a token of that era. Sadly, the post simply would not come together!

My family and dearest of friends seem to think it's quite funny that I have this blog. First off, I've always had a real aversion to all things social media, and secondly I rare to never like to be in front of the camera. It's near impossible to find a photo of me before I've deleted it. More than all that though, is the fact that somehow people consider me a writer now. I've been asked and given more and more opportunities to write for people and it's really quite humorous. My Dad basically wrote all my papers for me in school, my Mom wrote all my Thank You cards for graduations, wedding and showers and as for my best friends- one has kept a running journal since she was six and the other has dreams, plans  layouts for a book that she will write in her forties- how did I end up here? Life is beautifully strange:)

Anyway, Friday has finally come and I am one happy girl. We are headed to tennessee so I can have a slumber party with the aforementioned besties and then further on to see in-laws. A little getaway will be a welcome reprieve.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend and thank you so much for your encouraging and unbelievably kind comments yesterday. There was so much goodness, so much light- it really meant so much to me, so Thank You.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An Intimate Heart to Heart

If you and I perchanced to be old cronies and somehow you found yourself at the farm for a brief reprieve- quick as a cat, I would whisk you inside with deep hearted promises of warm drinks and a smattering of delectable- albeit healthy treats. 

Sitting by the fire, chunky knit blankets and pillows piled high around us, fully ensconced in noise and chaos and the pattering of little feet, we'd settle in. Eleanor would bring us thousands of books, saying "pookie, pookie" which is toddler code for "read to me!" 

We would chit and chat, immediately falling into our old patterns- even though it's been ages since we've had a proper sit down. In between the interruptions and wails, we would giggle, soaring from the thrill of having a brief moment together. 

Eventually everything would quiet- and then, in that moment,  we would dig in deep to what's really going on in our lives. Sharing half hearted woes and complaints, telling tales of our days and catching each other up on mundane details. Finally, when walls were broken away and the timing was right- I would pour out my heart- telling you exactly where I am. 

I would speak of how overwhelmed I've been. That I've been feeling like I'm not doing my job as well as I could, as I should, that my mind has been elsewhere, confused and distracted. 

I would tell you that I'm at a point in my life where I am faced with a heartbreaking reality- a possibility that my days of babyhood could be passed. That this oh so wonderful chapter of going straight from being a nursing mother to being an expectant mother may be complete. I would impart to you how much I dislike it- that I'm ever so grateful, but the fact that this is a decision based on how sick I will be and not what we want as a family, bothers me. I would cry broken hearted tears that there is a chance that I will never have another delivery day. You would laugh at me and tell me I'm crazy, and I would adamantly stand by the fact that, for me, there is no other day as mesmerizing, romantic and perfectly perfect as delivery day.

I would tell you how blessed I am to have four healthy, vibrant, fascinating wilds and that I feel selfish, like I'm pushing some kind of line or boundary, to even dream or hope of another. I would tell you that I've never been happier in my whole life than I have been right now, and I don't want to upset that, yet still my heart, my arms, ache with the thought of this being finished.

And then, with tears streaming down I would tell you how this is where I shine. This is my prime. I am knee deep in smudges, and questions, in dirty diapers and schooling. I would lament that there is not a clean surface anywhere and I don't own any clothes that fit me, since I've been on a roller coster ride of sizes for the last 8 years. With big guffaws and ugly crying I would ask you how I can move on from here? How can I leave this place that has brought me more joy, more life, more exhausting bone weary beautiful days then ever before? How can I pack the crib away, give away the baby clothes and move on?

I would mourn how many mothers I've heard say "I just knew when I was finished," and I would say brokenly, "I don't think I'll ever feel that way." 

Finally, when you see you've lost, that I will not be consoled, you would say- it will be ok, there is no wrong decision, only life and it will move on whether you're ready or not. 

Then we would hug and you would make some funny comment on how now I could finally get that boob job I always wanted and we would carry on- talking about recipes and gossiping about celebrity hook ups. And while my mind would be no less eased, I would be content, full, knowing how blessed I am, recognizing the beauty of this moment and this life that I love so much.

but, oh how it hurts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oh the Wonderful Things Kids Say

These wilds, I tell you true- they are funny! They are sensitive and wise and say the absolute best stuff. While I may have a terrible memory and am pretty quick to forget, I've been trying to write down a few- to hopefully remember someday. 

So here goes. . .

Zain was quizzing my Mom about why she has a christmas tree still up, and she was trying to explain that it's not just a christmas tree, She said- "it's uh, well it's a," confused and yet so badly wanting to help he says "What is it, an oak?"

Isaac- "Everybody thinks I'm a girl." True story, he's just so stinkin beautiful! Even if we shaved all his hair off I think people would still ask.

Aussie was reading a supposed inspirational poster about parenting hanging on the wall at her piano lessons- the list had all sorts of rules- take them to the movies in their pajamas, laugh often, bake cookies, you know the type. She finished reading it and said, " that's crazy! You do what you can the best you can." Amen sister, Amen.

While watching Andy Griffith (or Andy Giffins as they say) Zain mentioned how pretty one of the girls was "but not as pretty as you mama, you have that long blonde hair." Ha, that sweet boy, never wanting me to feel less.

Eleanor "Yeah" Ok, I get it, that doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but trust me, after months of only hearing "MO" its a welcome reprieve!

When telling a story to the kiddos one night, I said "When the moon is full I turn into a special kind of Mom-" I was getting ready to describe how I get flying powers or how I can spit snot balls, when Isaac said "you're always a special kind of mama." and I melt.

Aussie telling her friends that she was excited because I was cooking "toe food" Ummmm, well, it's tofu.

Zain telling his Grammy that she's a "great gal"- where do they come up with this stuff?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winter Survival Guide for Life with Littles

I don't know about your household, but this time of year, my life with littles can get a little wild. Winter seems to be closing in and everyone is desperate and climbing the walls (literally in our case) to get outside and roam free.

Trying to combat the crazy, I've taken to lots of planned crafts and organized activities. I've tried to compile a list for you, just in case things were getting a little hairy at your home too.

Scavenger Hunts- these are great, you can make them as simple or as difficult as you would like. Bundle them up and take it outdoors or just hunt around the house. It can be as simple as  finding something green, or a specific book, to something as difficult as finding the bark of an aged willow tree or your great grandmothers silver dentures- you get the idea.

Send them out to pick their favorite rocks or acorns and then paint them. So easy, but trust me, the kiddos will love it. I have jars littered all over the house filled with brightly colored, glitter doused gems.

Play Thimble, Thimble. This is a favorite in our home. We use a little chest piece and take turns hiding it. If it gets too hard, we will add hot and cold clues, entertainment for at least twenty minutes right here:)

Glue decorative glass beads on jars to make pretty flower vases for spring, or they could use them to hold their treasures. I don't know about you, but my littles always have tiny treasures that need a home.

Paint- I have so loved doing painting lessons together. I'm no artist, but it doesn't really matter, they love to be taught something and to work on it as a family is especially fun. Here are a couple tutorials we have used and enjoyed- herehere, and here

Make Snow Slime or Cornstarch goo. Yes, it can be messy, but it's worth it. Recipes here and here 

Skits. This is actually so fun! Just use a simple fairy tale, you can read one aloud or tell the story and have them act it out. It's also fun to write a few lines for them to say also. You can get as in depth as you want with costumes and sets, tickets and showtimes, but I would highly suggest having someone video on your phone. There is not much my kids love more than watching themselves on film.

Egg Carton Crafts. Seriously, its slightly annoying to have egg cartons stacked up everywhere, but they are a god send come craft time. A couple ideas here

Toilet paper roll toboggan hats. A bit random, but pretty easy for little fingers. My Dad use to make them with me growing up and I have such a soft spot for these little hats. Directions can be found here

Pine Cone Trees- gather or buy some pinecones and go to town decorating those bad boys. Paint them, dip the edges in glitter(a mothers nightmare I know, but desperate times and all that) and use string or yarn to make tinsel, you can also add some of your painted acorns for an extra bit of zazz.

Make Glue and Yarn Ornaments. Pretty easy and they turn out super cute, simple instructions here 

Magazine Mosaics. No real directions here, just let them cut away and glue their pieces on paper. Surprisingly, it keeps them quite entertained, although give mine a pair of scissors and they are happy campers.

Of course, building a fort is always a great time. Add in some popcorn and a few books and you're set for the day!

Hope this helps thru this cold spell, maybe offer a bit of sanity for those days when you're really questioning your lifes decisions:) I would love to hear your suggestions, leave them in the comments and I will add them in for a comprehensive survival guide.

Friday, January 16, 2015

never a solitary moment

So, the other day I'm trekking into a store- head down, bracing the wind, feet splashing thru deep puddles, the pitter patter of rain falling all around- I was holding the not so chubby anymore hand of my son with my right hand, my oldest on the other side had an arm woven thru mine, which was already holding my babe on my hip and my youngest son was holding on to my back pocket. In this tightly woven mass of chaos and crazy we made our way to the warmth offered up inside.

This is not out of the ordinary, in fact, it's quite the opposite- this is simply getting around with a crew of littles. You see, it's wild. Someone, usually many someones are always hanging on you, questioning you, hounding you, touching you, but somehow that moment snuck up on me, and right there in the middle of the parking lot- It hit me. . . 

My goodness, how blessed am I- to never walk alone.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Project 52

Exciting news. . . I have decided to attempt a project 52! A photo a week, once a week, of my wilds.

I am thrilled, and yet- very, very, wary. 

For you see while I am all aflutter for the practice, the images, and for the new friendship with fellow blogger Helen from I Will Bloom- who is bravely attempting this with me- I am also skeptical.


First, I am world's worst at  follow thru and dedication. I get so riled up about new projects and ventures but rare to never enjoy them once reality sets in. I am so hoping that this will not be the case here. That I won't get thru one month and then decide to quit or even more likely, to forget all about it. 

Second, I am a procrastinator to the core- and I can so see myself remembering late Saturday evening that I have yet to get an image- Poor gal, she had no idea what she was getting into when we decided on this together!


Still, I am hopeful, filling my head with positive feedback and confirmations- "I can do this", I tell myself. 

I read some of the best advice from  Jodi at Practicing Simplicity. She said "pick up a camera and take a picture". Wise words really- I plan on using this as my mantra throughout the year and I think at the end I will have 52 images- some I  will love, some I will be far too critical of, but I know there will come a day when perfection won't matter- more that I captured a time- that will mean the world.

"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever. . .It remembers little things long after you have forgotten everything."
-Aaron Siskind


"You are a pest, by the very nature of that camera in your hand."
-Princess Anne 
(and probably my wilds by the end of this year:)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tapping for Maple

From what I've read it's important that you hold off tapping your maple trees until at least January. Apparently it has something to do with sugar content, but honestly I know nothing here- I'm just a gal in search of some prairie fun. 

After not so patiently waiting, the time finally arrived and with it came the perfect temperatures- below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. We quickly grabbed our gear and raced ahead to begin our maple season.

Ha- maple season is a bit misleading really! I'm not sure that anyone else taps for maple here in Arkansas, not exactly sure why, but most people laugh when we tell them what we're up to! To top it off, Kaleb and I are terrible at planning ahead, so while it would have been quite clever of us to mark trees in say spring- when there were leaves to look at, we like to wait til the dead of winter when there is absolutely no signs to help guide us except the layout of twigs. We're probably tapping oaks and cedars for all we know! 

Oh well, adds to the ambiance.

Still we found 25 of what could be some kind of maple. We drilled our holes and inserted our spiles and hung our buckets, all while tromping thru the cold and laughing at our own incompetence.

It's pretty dreamy really, and I'm beyond hopeful. I'll keep you updated on how this little adventure turns out, but I'm banking on fresh  maple syrup for our Saturday morning waffles!  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lazy Days in the Now

Touching- a scattering of baby books to be read and picked up/ brushing away hair from tiny foreheads/ a warm cup of coffee carried with me but rarely drank/

Hearing- the silence of a baby napping and children immersed in their play/ the crackling of a fire and the groans of an old house with ice clinging to it's eaves/

Seeing- a home, filled with dust bunnies and smudges and so, so much love/ vintage children's desks newly purchased and sitting squarely in front of the window/ imagination at work/

Smelling- wood smoke mixed with orange and cinnamon/ lavender soap/

Tasting- nuts, fruits and home grown meats/ minty kisses/

I am so enjoying a relaxing day of quiet, everyone moving in near slow motion as the weather turns glacial, pushing us in and forcing us into a calm. A day where we rest, and play and read and drink hot drinks and snack and just be.

//I got this idea from the oh so lovely Katie at Katie's Pencil Box- one of my favorite blogs around.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Unending Battle of Baby vs. Beanie

Yay- She wins again!

This little one cracks us up. That little face is just priceless! I just want to smooch her little cheeks over and over.

Have a good weekend! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Moving Forward

The lull that follows directly after the holidays, has had a tendency in past years to get me down. All the excitement and merriment has suddenly ended and a lengthy period of cold days and dark nights descends upon us like a thick woolen blanket- comforting but heavy.

Somehow, this year- I don't feel that. The holidays were so special, so complete, that I was compelled to leave it behind- preserved and perfect. In it's place, I found new hopes, new dreams, and plans, oh, so many plans.

Here are five things I'm most excited about. . .

1. Tapping Maple Trees. I'm quite sure I'm the only fool in Arkansas who taps for maple! Last year, I got a bee in my bonnet to try it, and it was delightfully prairie-ish, fulfilling all my Laura Ingalls fantasies. I got enough to sweeten a few cups of coffee:) which just fueled my fire to go bigger. My spiles have been ordered, my buckets purchased, and I am set to start tapping!

2. I'm weaning myself off sugar and getting back to our whole foods and healthy eating habits. I'm invigorated, inspired and so, so ready.

3. I'm banking on snow this winter. We usually get a handful of days where we are snowed or at least iced in- and they are complete bliss. I love the idea of being secluded, holed up, just us. They are the most exciting days for our posse. We venture out, playing til our bodies can't take anymore then huddle inside cramming around the fireplace until we've regained feeling in our fingers and toes, which means the time has come to head back out and do it all over again.

4. Back to School. Sometimes homeschooling can be overwhelming, tense and downright difficult. Yet, in that same vein- I love it. Cherish the time no matter what come. I miss it when we're off- It provides routine and stability, it paves our day and it's special time that I get to spend with the wilds, one on one. Now, someone please remind me I said this next week!

5. We've had some exciting opportunities present themselves here on the farm. Winter is our slow time, down time to get re-charged, a calm moment for growing excitement and exploring new ideas for spring. The next couple months will be spent going over and over new routes and notions- always trying to align our hopes for the farm with our heart for our family.

Dreaming up new projects and adventures is what wintertime on the farm is all about.

-pictures were from a near all day hike yesterday, I would say one of our first big successful ones here on the farm- no tears and everybody had fun. Anywho, what about you, anything upcoming that's got you all aflutter?