Celebrating, Capturing & Remembering Life's Special moments
 
The snow has melted away into what seems immediately like summer. I spent a good part of my day today wandering in the sunshine at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with my husband. I was quite thrilled to find these little itty, bitty flowers popping up through the dirt and leaves. Some of them seemed wisely cautious, with their petals still tightly closed, but a few hopeful few opened up their pretty faces to the warmth and sunshine.
I reversed my lens and freelensed, getting in really close to the tiny flowers to create this dreamy effect to represent the hope of Spring after our long, long winter. Although by now (the end of April) Spring better be more than a hope and a dream!
 
Here are the pictures I promised. This particular session was quite fun because Imostly  just followed Joe and Dianne around snapping happily while they played. This is most definitely my favorite way to take pictures. Thus my whole "celebrating, capturing and remembering life's special moments" tagline. I love capturing those real little details and moments as they unfold.
The weather even decided to grant us some special effects (aka snow), which was wonderful considering that just an hour earlier we discussed postponing the outdoor pictures due to the rain and slush. Minnesota helped create a perfect shoot once again!
I am looking forward to the wedding is August! As beautiful as the snow was, I do love sunshine.
 
I can't get enough pictures of the gorgeous crab apple blossoms outside my apartment building. Today I happened to have my camera with me as the sun was setting behind them. So pretty! With time they have faded from the beautiful bright pink of a few days ago to a lovely almost white shade of pink... I can't decide which I like better.
 
The little leaves have popped on most trees and the grass is pretty much all green. Now the trees are starting to bloom. There are several trees full of these beautiful little flowers right outside our apartment building, they look so cheery even on  gloomy days. Thank you whoever planted those trees. They give me an extra reason to smile in the morning as I head off to work.
 
It is Spring. I'm not going to say the snow is gone for good, because being Minnesota it would end up snowing just because I said it. However we have had some gloriously beautiful weeks. The leaves are peeking out, the sun has been shining, and I've started some seeds on our tiny apartment porch. I've also been loving long walks outside. Somehow seeing life spring up all around and having the sun shine down on my face somehow brings life and joy to my spirits as well. Everything seems cheerier with sunshine and green.
One of my favorite things about Spring in Minnesota is beautiful intricacies of those tiny little leaves opening up, shiny with newness and the most beautiful shade of green.
 
Snow day!
It is a rare day indeed when schools and workplaces shut down due to winter conditions in Minnesota, but today is one of those rare days (and a leap day as well).
As much as this kind of snow is mushy, melty, icy and just kind of yuck, it is a reason for young and old to celebrate. It is a wonderful unexpected day off. This kind of day off is the best, because you can't make plans for it. You can't be busy. You just get a chance to sit back, watch the snow fall and be. This leap day really does feel like a whole extra day added to the calendar. :-)
Since I woke up early for work anyway, I went out for a little walk to nab myself some pictures (well after waiting a few minutes for there to be enough light, since the sun is late in making it's appearance this time of year). The pictures aren't quite the most glorious like others I've taken of intricate frost formations against blue skies. This is more of a documentation of mushy, melty, icy, wet snow. The kind that gets you a snow day in Minnesota apparently.

 
For about 3 years now my family has made a tradition out of going to an apple orchard. Traditions like this are super special to me. So, when we ended up at the wrong apple orchard (of the same name) almost an hour away (after an hour of driving) from where we were supposed to meet my family, I just about cried. It didn't help that I was already all sniffley and foggy feeling from an icky cold. I couldn't help thinking "who knows where we will all be next year?" With my siblings growing up, starting/finishing college and passionately pursuing God's adventures for their lives, I don't take for granted that we are all fairly close together right now. Not to mention that we grew up overseas, and even my parents are sensing the itch to get back out there. It really wouldn't surprise me if we all ended up in different corners of the globe within the next few 5 years. Meanwhile, as all that mental drama was tumbling around inside my brain, my husband got us to the right orchard. There we picked a few apples (windfalls were only 50 cents a pound!), I snapped a bunch of pictures and we all spent a few moments talking and just being together as a family.
Most people probably would have wondered if those few simple moments were worth all the trouble (especially since I was already feeling miserable with a cold), but they were SO worth it to me. I'm sentimental and nostalgic. I treasure moments like these. That is one reason I love photography, I can capture those brief beautiful moments in time. Then I can later look back at the memories and smile as I marvel over the adventures (both big and small) of life that God has brought us through.
 
This Fall the colors in Minnesota are take-your-breath-away gorgeous! There have been so many moments this last week where I kicked myself for not having my camera along. Instead of snapping away pictures, my jaw has dropped and my mind has spun in awe of the display as my mind captures memories for me. Just today there was this one moment driving in the car where beautiful red, yellow and orange leaves were falling like confetti on a road lined with trees in such amazing vibrant hues it looked like God was playing with Photoshop. (Which by the way, I did not need to enhance colors on any of these pictures!) I felt like God was throwing a parade just for me and my friend in the car. These are moments where I worship without words, thoughts or actions, instead I just bask in awe and wonder at my Creator. Sometimes awe-induced silence is the the onlyappropriate worship response.
When I was first starting in photography I used the screen name “parasugloria” ("ForHisGlory" in Spanish) because I wanted to always remember why I want to take pictures. I’ve often wondered how I can use my photography in a way that stays true to this purpose. Well these pictures are barely a fraction of the amazingness I have seen this Fall, and all glory truly goes to THE Creator. I hope that God blesses you as he has me with some equally awe-inspiring moments this week.

 
Spinach and strawberries are growing in our garden. I'm discovering how fun it is to eat food straight from the garden. I'm wishing now that I had planted even more vegetables.
 
I've been playing with some of my Spring pictures in Photoshop. Blending different layers and applying different filters. It is fun to learn more about Photoshop's powerful features this way. So much more intersting to experiment for myself than to read about it in a book. This is what I did recently.
My mother in law told me the edited images look like napkins. Anybody work for a napkin company that wants tulip pictures? :-)

P.S. These are the flowers that came from the buds in my previous spring post.