September 7th, 2012
Over the past year, I’ve advocated for orphans being hosted through hosting programs, like New Horizons for Children. This past summer, we almost hosted…We were almost ready to agree to host 2 siblings when I found out someone else had stepped up to host them before us. So we became back-up family for these 2 children and I went to training, just in case. I prayed for them and thought of them often as they were hosted by a family here in the U.S. I prayed that God’s will be done…that if they ended up not being adopted after being hosted in the U.S., that we’d take it as confirmation that we needed to host them this Christmas….Then I found out they were not going to be adopted…So I immediately started pursuing hosting them despite the financial obstacle of trying to fundraise and save money quickly to pay the hosting/travel fees required to host the children for 4 weeks this Christmas. Am I scared of trying to raise the $ on one income in such a short period of time? I won’t lie….I’m very scared and struggle with worrying about it sometimes. If I could come up with a flexible part-time job right now that wouldn’t interfere with taking care of our son & daughter during the day, I would (any ideas?). If I could grow a money tree, I would have planted it yesterday. Instead, we are having a yard sale, fundraising web site, book sale, and Alan is busking/playing ukulele at a local flea market this Saturday, The Flea off Market. I’m also considering selling locally & by mail gluten-free chocolate chip cookies…
BUT to the heart of the matter, I’m trusting and praying that God will provide what we lack if we are truly meant to host these 2 children (with possibility of pursuing more—ie forever family?). And I’m trying to visualize and think of the WHY behind our commitment to host these 2 precious children in our home this Christmas. I’m picturing the kids already here (even though we don’t have the $ to write a check for the hosting fees…yet)…taking nature walks, being tucked in at night, playing games, laughing, chattering in Russian and Latvian, and receiving hugs. I’m imagining saying to them in Russian, “You are beautiful,” “You are kind,” “I love you,” and “You are special.”
So in this season of political debate, please forgive me if I spend more time trying to raise money for my favorite cause, children who need the love and support of families. I’m “liberal” with my love for orphans world-wide and “conservative” in my family’s spending so we can do all we can to get these two precious kids to the U.S. for Christmas in our family where they may possibly find a forever family.
Here are a couple of photos of the kids from this summer, when they were hosted this summer.
July 24th, 2012
That’s it…I’m tired of hesitating to post here because it may not have any thing to do with my photography. I am a celebrator of life, I am a dreamer, I am a storyteller and sometimes I just need to write and it may not be about the most photogenic moment of my life. Life can be dirty and gritty sometimes and every second of my life is not about business, but it all contributes to my work as a photographer and living each moment fully does help me to open up to be the best photographer I can be…one who successfully captures beauty in extraordinary moments as well as the mundane.
Getting my writing mojo again…time to start speaking and yes, photographs will be testimony to my words but I will no longer overanalyze this blog. It is both my photography blog AND my life blog and life is about living and storytelling which I hope to share here
Dara, May 2012.
May 15th, 2012
Mother’s Day weekend, I was blessed to spend time with my little family. Dara couldn’t get enough of her new hat so I couldn’t resist taking lots of pictures of my baby girl. I love being a mama and am thankful for how God has designed our family through the miracle of adoption. Time flies by so quickly; don’t forget to spend time each day enjoying the abundance of your life & dreaming of what is yet to come.
April 23rd, 2012
Loving the late afternoon/early evening sunshine that makes outdoor photography so lovely! Easter weekend, my sweet babies enjoyed dressing up and playing in their fancy clothes instead of their usual play clothes. It made for some styling photos Looking for families to book portrait sessions for gifts for Mother’s Day! Email or call soon to reserve your portrait session! firstname.lastname@example.org
April 1st, 2012
What do you get when you put 3 women together who are passionate about pursuing their big dreams in 2012? You get lots of laughter, encouragement & excitement. Recently, I was 1 of 3 local women chosen to participate in a dream/vision board group sponsored by Today’s Woman magazine & led by life coach, Abigail Mueller of The Abigail Academy.
Abigail has taught us to ask “ for what you want, standing arms wide open to your vision, creativity, and abundance, and step in the direction of your desires…” You can read more about our vision board project on page 60 & 62 (online for free) of this month’s issue of Today’s Woman magazine.
I’m committed first to my family and second to my photography business so you’ll continue to see that reflected in my blog and in my photography business. In fact, you should see more growth, creativity and focus in my photography business and personal life (that’s my aim this year!) so stop by my blog every week and see what’s brewing as I embark on big, small, challenging & joyful adventures in living, playing and working (there’s a whole lot of overlap in those areas, I’m learning ).
I’m so excited to open myself up to an incredible future with my photography. Let me know if you’d like me to help celebrate you and your family with a portrait session this spring.
My vision board!
October 17th, 2011
We celebrated our baby girl’s first birthday at the end of September. Amazing to realize how far she’s come since I first met her in October of 2010 when she was less than 3 lbs! Now she is 21 lbs+ and a healthy cruising baby (walking is bound to be soon with all her cruising and almost standing alone).
She is very serious about eating as demonstrated in the photo of her eating birthday cake.
One of her favorite birthday presents was a pair of new shoes…what girl doesn’t like a new pair of shoes….to eat!!
Within days of D’s first birthday, we found out that we were unexpectedly pregnant. I say unexpectedly because according to the doctor who performed Alan’s surgery several years ago & tested him afterwards we were not supposed to be pregnant….We are talking about very low percentage of chance. We believe the pregnancy was due to Alan and I finding out we were dairy intolerant & gluten intolerant and changing our diets (about a year ago I changed first and then Alan changed after the first towards the first of the year…)…and that it was a miraculous gift from God.
Instead of celebrating our pregnancy as we near the end of October, we find ourselves mourning the loss of our little one. At about 6 weeks into the first trimester, I had a miscarriage. Not sure of the reason which is often the case though we’re investigating whether I could have low progesterone or any other deficiencies. We don’t know if we will ever get pregnant again but we are more hopeful than we were before the pregnancy.
Miscarriage…not something I hear people talk openly about very often so I feel like I need to talk about it here because miscarriage is not a dirty word; it’s not something that has to be kept secret (unless someone wants to do so). Blog writing used to be therapeutic for me when I was waiting for our children in the adoption process and it is still something I crave when I’m trying to process difficult emotions so I’m taking time to write about our miscarriage here (and do so in future blog postings) because writing may also help me to heal emotionally from the whirlwind experience of surprise, joy, and grief….all mingled together.
What else helps while my body is healing and my heart is heavy with joy and grief? My sweet miracles of children with whom God has blessed me.
Love love love my precious C & D. They make my heart smile
July 6th, 2011
I have a confession…I come from a family where we typically used frozen pie crust in our pie recipes and people never seemed to notice. It saved time and tasted good to our family. We are Southern so we like our desserts very rich. Then, I married into a Midwestern family whose matriarch was seemingly never too busy to bake a pie, including her homemade crust. She has a reputation for making good pies and her children have tried to learn her very detailed methods for making pie crusts that used Crisco.
Until yesterday, I’d never never tried to make my husband a pie with a homemade crust. But with no such thing as a dairy-free, eggs-free, gluten-free pie crust in my freezer, I decided to be brave and attempt a blueberry pie. Knowing that hundreds of others were participating in a virtual pie party today,(see Shauna/Gluten-Free Girl’s facebook party page at https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=229924600367014).
If my mother-in-law had been standing over my shoulder as I made the pie crust last night, she would have been shocked…You just can’t make gluten-free pie crust using the same techniques as regular gluten pie crust. I basically scraped parts of my crust off of the parchment paper (which I’d been assured in Shauna’s recipe was okay) and played with it and it didn’t mind one bit. It tasted like pie crust to me. My only complaint is I wish it hadn’t been as crumbly as it was. I don’t know if this is because I was using coconut oil and Spectrum shortening or if it is just the nature of the gluten-free pie crust(some of the other gluten-free baked goods I’ve made have been rather crumbly ).
Am I scared of making pie crusts from scratch? I’m not sure that gluten-free/dairy-free pie crusts can look as attractive as the regular old pie crusts…but I’m eager to keep playing with pie recipes and am happy with the tastiness of my pie experiment. Hmmm…which of my childhood favorite pies should I try next? Will it be a chocolate chip pie? Yikes! I don’t know that I’m ready for attempting a custardy type of pie without dairy or eggs, but I definitely see more fruit based pies in the near future.
June 24th, 2011
On June 25, 2008, we first learned of our son’s existence. We weren’t sure if this beautiful boy whose photos we were gazing at over and over was really our son. But we tried to be cautiously hoping he might be…and looking at his photos, we think taken around the time he was 12 months old, was kind of like looking at the “sonogram” of our baby we’d been waiting & praying for. When we decided to go meet him in Russia, it felt kind of like we were jumping off the edge of a cliff and praying God would hold us up and lead us on.
Back when I saw Colin’s face for the first time, I honestly thought his eyes were more of a blue. Now I’ve been noticing they are more hazel in color–sometimes looking blue/gray and sometimes looking green-gray. It still makes my heart leap up when I get to look into his big eyes and see joy there. When I became Colin’s mama, I became a first time mama with a “newborn” 20-month-old baby to teach how to live in a family, loved and protected.
Parenthood has been a little backward for us because we just now experiencing infanthood for the first time ever with Dara. We are enjoying introducing her to foods and my heart sings when I get to see Colin and Dara enjoy each other. Baby girl squeals a special squeal just for her big brother who delights her no matter how silly he acts….And Colin can’t hide that he does enjoy his funny baby sister…at least part of the time. He enjoys seeing the mess she makes as she tries foods for the first time and he does sometimes admit that he wanted a baby sister Can’t believe that she’s been in our family for over 8 months now!
June 1st, 2011
My days are busy with a baby girl on the verge of crawling(already propelling herself across the room by flipping or scooting) and my 4-year old son who has an insatiable desire for pretend play, painting, and books. Photography is a part of my busy days–whether at home in the role of a “Photog-Mama” trying to preserve precious family moments or away photographing other families’ special moments.
Recently, I had the opportunity to test a Once A Month Menu plan, which promised to help speed up meal preparation around here(I tested the gluten-free/dairy-free menu but there are many other options available). I felt crazy shopping for so much food when I took the menu’s list to the grocery store but kept telling myself I was shopping for a month’s worth of meals. One rainy Saturday, Alan helped me to assemble some of the meals. We couldn’t get it all done in one day because of having to tend to our little ones. Having frozen meals (or the starts of meals) has made the last few weeks less stressful so far so I definitely will try Once-A-Month cooking again.
Did I mention that our adoption of our baby girl was finalized in April? So relieved to be done with the adoption process. Loving watching her as she grows & learns. She’s 8 months (by the calendar) and 5 months adjusted age. She weighs over 15 lbs now and is replete with sweet baby pudge. So wonderful to see a healthy little baby after having met her when she weighed less than 3 lbs!
Warm weather is here and I’ve still got some room in my schedule for portrait sessions on-location. Wanna meet me at a park or somewhere special to your family? I’ll bring my camera and creative eye…together we’ll celebrate your family in portraits you will treasure for years to come.
May 18th, 2011
Yes, I am a gluten-free photographer as of around September of this past year…And some days I get tired of the experiments with gluten-free baking which is a horse of a different color compared with regular ole baking…
For St. Patrick’s Day, I tried to make Irish Soda bread like I enjoy doing…I tried to make it using a gluten-free recipe by a reputable food writer but it still ended up kind of tough…lots of tweaking and possible errors with gluten-free cooking sometimes. Take number two (thanks to a recipe from Gluten Free Girl) and I had bread pretty close to what I used to make for St. Patrick’s Day.
I don’t officially have celiac disease but seem to be gluten intolerant. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness says that celiac disease affects 3 million Americans (I assume the numbers for sensitivity to gluten are even higher based on what I’ve read) and 95% don’t know they have it. There are over 300 different symptoms that people might have. I have seen a big improvement in my allergies and asthma (which apparently was not really asthma anyway based on tests at the hospital). I don’t use an inhaler any more. I feel like I can sing like I haven’t been able to in years…I have my wind power back…not ready for American Idol but I’d probably be considered too old for that show anyway. I also don’t have the acid reflux symptoms and other digestive problems I once had (I changed my diet based on my naturopathic doctor’s advice. He actually recommended I try a blood-type diet which entailed avoiding gluten and most dairy. I’d gone to him after my pulmonologist told me that I didn’t have asthma despite asthmatic symptoms). I also avoid most dairy products and oats. Though it certainly was not my plan, I have lost 15 or so pounds since changing to gluten-free and dairy-free partially because I just can’t eat as many sweets and breads as previously.
So this year has brought BIG adjustments for me…learning a totally different way of eating and adjusting to being Mama to two…Blog writing is still something I hope to do more regularly. Still daydreaming about just what the photography blog of a gluten-free, dairy-free, adoptive mama looks like… Feel free to leave comments about what you think might be interesting…
The bottom line is…I don’t want this blog to fit into a box because I’ve always prided myself on being a one-of-a-kind, random person. Hope you will stop by to view my photography and get to know me! For seeing my photography portfolio and contacting me about portrait sessions, please visit my new web site, which is still a work in progress at www.heatherbrandt.com.