Tag Archives: photography

You’re 16 Months Old


Dear Ian,

It’s been a couple months since I’ve written you! It’s not because I have nothing to say. It’s mostly because every day I tell you what I want to say to you! But someone reminded me that I might forget the little things when you are older. I forget everything as it is so I’m going to try to keep my favorite little memories locked up tight for years to come. Someday I want to tell you about all the stuff that made you, you!

So much has changed from the time you turned 1 to now! It’s amazing how you went from a chubby little baby trying to stand on your own, to an adept little baby (I refuse to call you toddler yet!) zooming past us like a spry little old man. Your all over chubbiness has melted away overnight and left you with a toned little baby body. It reminds me of the baby dolls I used to play with when I was little. Your arms curve inward and curve out and your thighs and calves are rounded with newly formed muscles. The only reminder of the rolls you once had is the globular belly you keep full at all times. You really do amaze us with your appetite! I’m always gloatingly pleased when grownups are shocked and awed with the foods you eat.  I’m so happy you aren’t keeping Cheerios in business!

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Ok I can’t resist. Most surprising food you like:

  1. Olives
  2. Shrimp and Salmon
  3. Green beans
  4. Mushrooms
  5. Tahini (Unfortunately sesame seed bit the dust thanks to allergies)
  6. Spicy food
  7. Lemons
  8. Black beans
  9. Earth’s best food purees: Carrots n Broccoli (Kind of taste like vegetable stew)/ Carrot Split Pea n Kamut (This one actually makes me gag a little)

Most surprising food you dislike:

  1. Ice cream
  2. Sugar cookies
  3. Avocados
  4. Pineapple

At 16 months you have accomplished quite a bit! You can climb stairs by yourself and you like to do it several times a day! You are very active which is awesome! You also like to climb mom and dad. Last weekend we had lunch with a friend and you bounced on my shoulder looking over the booth wall while simultaneously eating half my salmon. You are learning how sequences in activities go together so you are a very good helper around the house. You feed Chance, (“Ch” or “D” in your words)your dog, his supper, help load the washing and dishwashing machine, sweep and give us a heart attack each time you try to help clean the pool. You love the outdoors and dirt. You would stay outside all day if we let you.

Things I never want to forget about you right now!

  1. You are so outgoing and friendly! You wave to most people and animals and say hi! You melt me with your tender heart.
  2. You are obsessed with going in the shower and making noises to hear echoes. You have to touch the shower head several times too just in case I might turn the water on for you.
  3. You show Chance affection by patting his back and laying you head against it. Then you bow your head to Chance so he will lick it.
  4. When you want someone to come to you, you hover your hand above where you are standing and make an “Ah” sound with a questioning inflection on the end of it. If we don’t come immediately you squat lower and lower to the ground and add more of a questioning lilt to your voice to show more emphasis. It’s absolutely irresistible and always ends with me squeezing you while smothering your wiggly self with kisses.
  5. You love water. I don’t even know how to explain how much you love water. It intrigues you. The sound, the feel, the way it looks. Everything about it pulls you in and captivates you.
  6. So your kind of going through a screaming phase. I’m much better with screaming than crying but your dad has a hard time when you are screaming at him. Sometimes you scream to talk or play with us. Sometimes you scream at night just to hear yourself. Oh but the times when you don’t get your way… those are the screams to remember. We can actually see you inhale to fill your lungs with air while you form a perfect oh shape with your mouth. I imagine the sound you make is similar to that of the Screaming Banshee of Ireland. It leave the ears ringing in protest.
  7. You have happy feet. You stomp them and laugh and I think you’re going to be a great dancer one day!
  8. You learned to emphatically shake your head no while saying no. It’s helpful sometimes and cute all the time.
  9. Ok so I’m super crazy proud of this one. So I hum and sing all the time. Your dad does too actually. Just a few weeks ago you pressed your little lips tight together and with a thoughtful face turned away from me you started humming your own tune. I could not contain myself! When I gushed that it was beautiful you looked so pleased! Now you hum in the car or when you are in a quiet introspective mood. We make sure to tell you how pretty it is. I hope you always hum your own tune in life.

These are busy days where weekends melt into weekdays and weekdays melt into months. The To Do list gets longer and longer and the laundry piles up. While I don’t always know where the time goes I do know that my silver lining likes to put his pudgy feet on my face and giggles when I munch his thighs. I know there is nothing brighter than the big toothy grin you readily give to us and the world you embrace. I know that you are a crazy baby monster who jumps on our back and squeals and laughs and loves. You’re a blessing and I only hope to bring as much joy to your life as you bring to ours.

Until next time little munchkin-butt.

Love you always,

Mama & DAAaaaaa


Breaking even – 9 Months


Dear Ian-bean,

Today we had your nine month checkup. The doc said we have officially reached the breaking even point. You have been in this world exactly as long as you haven’t. I can’t believe it has been 9 months since I was rubbing my stomach and trying to imagine what you would be like.

It’s kind of crazy to think about this past year. For us it has been life changing for certain but for you it has been 9 months of new and foreign things every day. The way I see it is for roughly 273 days you have been climbing the equivalent of Mt Everest!  It makes me realize how strong and ambitious you are! You have woken up every day with the same tenacity and zest for life regardless of how long or overwhelming the prior day was for you. That makes me so proud of you Ian! I hope you will always greet life with the same exuberance and drive!

This month you started interacting with us more than ever before. You question us with your eyes and with noises. You are starting to get better with your motor skills. They say you are supposed to experience separation anxiety around this time but I’m delighted to say while you do notice when we leave, you are still happy to hang out with Grandma and Papa or your aunts. You flirt with pretty girls in the grocery store and reach out to strangers to be held. To be honest you seem to love people and they all seem to adore you right back. To me it seems that you feel secure and confident enough to explore what you don’t know or understand!

So after 9 months of getting to know each other you can’t quite put into words how you feel but I get the feeling that you kind of like us. You are everything and more than what I expected. Your smile can pretty much erase a horrible no good rotten day. I would do just about anything embarrassing or stupid to make you laugh. The sparkle in your eyes reflects the most inquisitive mind. You dedicated to figuring out how every little detail works in this world. Sometimes I just watch you in wonder. How on earth did I end up so lucky? You truly are a unique little boy. You are such a source of joy. You are the baby Don Juan Demarco! God help us if you figure out how successful you can truly be at getting people to adore you!

Something I haven’t mentioned in any of my notes to you is how many people have helped make your first 9 months in this world so special. Your Grandma Atkinson, your Aunt Sarah, your Aunt Kim and on some lucky fun Fridays your Aunt Demeatra watch you when I go to work. So much time is being spent teaching you and showering you with unconditional love and patience. We are very blessed Ian-bean. If there is one thing to remember it is how fortunate we are. If ever you start to think things look bad remember that as long as you have people who truly love and care for you; you are wealthy indeed.

9 months


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So you have lots of fun facts for month # 9!

  1. 4 is the number of teeth the Ian-bean has sprouted
  2. 87 is the percentile for weight and height you are in
  3. 18 months is the size clothing you wear
  4. 7 to 10 ounces is how much solid food you usually eat per meal! (That’s a lot for that little belly)
  5. Your favorite food is bananas and Greek yogurt mixed together
  6. You love to make noises and sing
  7. Your favorite toys – A clear plastic cup and some rubber ducks in the tub and Sophie the giraffe
  8. You like to drink water directly from water bottles. Big gulping sips while soaking your shirt.
  9. You crawled and pulled yourself to a standing position in the same night
  10. You have hair and some of it is curly!
  11. You are learning to brush your teeth!
  12. You like listening to Bob Marley, Billy Holiday, Buddy Holly and recordings of the sitar off The Concert for Bangladesh You still love punk rock though so daddy seems ok with me cultivating your interest in other types of music.
  13. You are sleeping through the night from around 7pm to around 7am. Go little bean go!!!


Everything about you is changing so fast now! I’m sure I missed something but let it suffice to say you are wonderful and I’m proud of you.

I love you yesterday, today and tomorrow too.

Mom n Dad


Shine On You Crazy Diamond – 8 months


Dear Ian,

It’s your mother. I wonder if you will read this someday and laugh. So you are beginning nine months this week. Month 8 was something special! You have changed so much in one month it has me spinning on my heels! In one months time you have managed to sprout more hair, your very first two teeth, and a couple inches in height. I can’t even imagine how shocking this is to you. It is astounding to me.

In one weeks time you went from swaying back and forth in your walker to speed demon roller derby baby. Poor Chance adores you but he is unable to get near you without sacrificing a digit! For months you have tested the spandex in the bungee cord of your bouncy seat. However you have now turned the door frame into ground zero for your personal bungee trampoline.

Something that tickles me to death is how much you seem interested in art!  There is little more you love than to sit on my head and pat the muted pastoral above our sofa. Yesterday you discovered the framed picture I have in the kitchen of a frog painted on a feather. You really like to touch the framed quilt we have too but I think that one is mostly because it’s soft.

The one thing you love as much as art is music. You love to make music with objects. You love to slap your thighs like a drum and hold your fist up to your mouth and make humming noises. You love to sing and hum yourself to sleep and when you wake you love to listen to everything from Fleetwood Mac and The Cars to Buck Owens and David Allan Coe.

Things I want to remember about you from this time:

*You are a sweet boy. You like kisses and hugs and snuggles. You are tender-hearted. Speaking to you crossly brings you to inconsolable tears. However, you also have a stubborn vein that runs through you. You don’t like things snatched from your hand.

*When you don’t want to go to sleep you fight sleep until you are falling over. However, when you want to sleep you will fuss until we put you in your bed. At that point you may sleep for hours and hours until we wake you.

*You are getting so playful! Yesterday you were running in your walker and I was crawling toward you saying “I’m going to get you”. When I came closer you opened your mouth for a kiss so I kissed you back and you squealed with excitement and then ran the other direction!

* You love to crawl all over me and your dad. I think we are your “base” or safe zone while you are trying to figure out this standing/walking thing. It’s hilarious to watch but slightly painful to endure.

* You got your first tooth and then another back to back. They are your two front teeth!

*Just last Wednesday (August 20th) you surprised us and slipped crawling and standing up on your own into your repertoire!!



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So Mr. Ian those are my take aways this month. Your feet are forever growing and your smile stays big and warm so I think we are on the right track.

We love you more and more every day and are so proud of you!


Mama and dad



My Girl


When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy –that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.

 -Mark Twain



On Tuesday I said goodbye to an old friend. For eleven years we rarely spent a day apart. She was an awesome weekend warrior and an irreplaceable sidekick. She was my warm fuzzy at the end of the day and my home sweet home when it was just the two of us girls up against the world.  She welcomed and shared all of our seasons in life with a brave smile that made her beautiful amber eyes glow like bubbling hot caramel. Regardless of how stressed she was she was never too busy to stop and just sit beside me.

Tuesday was quiet and simply spent with family. She was in her eighties and while her soul was young her body had recently become riddled with arthritis and cancer. She was happy but there were shadows in her eyes that seemed to silently say “I love you but I’m tired”. On Tuesday she silently said “Let me go home please. I promise it’s ok to let me go”.  It was time for her even though I wasn’t ready. It was the right thing to do but I didn’t know how I was going to get up every morning knowing she wasn’t there. Tuesday Beta was once again my strength as I told her goodbye. Even though it was she who was the brave one going on to the unknown; it was me who was scared and unwilling to accept the finality of her leaving but accept it or not my girl left me yesterday.

My heart will forever be grateful for the unwavering love my Beta girl showered me and everyone else in her life with. As to how I will get up every morning knowing she isn’t in my life anymore… well I’m going to take a lesson out of Beta’s book and smile because life is sweet and full of many bittersweet moments. The best choice we can make is to enjoy the bumpy ride and appreciate love given and returned.

Top twenty things that I’ll miss about our girl:

  1.  You had more hair on your body than I thought could possibly exist on one dog’s body. I could knit three sweaters from your coat. I could knit one sweater from fur balls floating around the house.
  2. How you would hang your paw on my arm when you wanted attention
  3. The frantic whining ball of slobbery fur you turned into when I pulled you leash out of the drawer
  4. You would hover in the kitchen when I cooked.
  5. You would lay right outside of the kitchen parameters when I told you to get out of my kitchen.
  6. How you hated your picture taken and the many ways you managed to avoid the camera
  7. How you sized up Dave for at least a month when he moved in with us.
  8. Your patience with the much younger dog [Chance] we brought home four years ago. He misses you so much.
  9. You always loved the song California by Joni Mitchel. It calmed you.
  10. Your ability to chew through just about anything (an entire tree stump, a rattan sofa, wall outlet covers, rugs…doors)
  11. Your snore could be heard from the opposite end of the house. It was amazing. I once yelled at Dave to be quiet only to find you sleeping on the other side of the bed.
  12. Whenever everything was crazy I could always look over and find you waiting to make eye contact for a few calming minutes.
  13. I miss your beautiful brown eyes.
  14. Having to trip over you in the mornings when I first get up
  15. Tripping over you when I’m cooking at the stove
  16. Tripping over you when I come in the front door
  17. Tripping over you when I get up off the couch
  18. Giving you baths. You hated them. You tried to climb up me every time.
  19. Your kisses. You didn’t lick everyone and thing in site. You only gave them to comfort or show affection
  20. Your smell. It was God awful when it rained and you were always hot in South Carolina weather…but I would give anything to burry my face in your fur.
  21. You wagged your tail even when we fussed at you. It was impossible to stay upset.
  22. How you would find a secret place to poop in the house so you wouldn’t get in trouble
  23. How you would growl angerly as you rolled on your back to scratch it
  24. How you forgave the twenty year old me though I know I failed you more than once.

Ok top twenty four things I guess!


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Love you Beta. We will never forget you.


Inside The Artist’s Studio


I started sharing her photography with you almost a year ago. However, I have never told you much about her. Art is so much stronger when you know the journey taken by its creator. I think that might be why artist become so much more admired when they have passed. Their work is a reflection of the life that once wondered this earth. I think we don’t always pay much attention to the life behind someone’s life work until their life’s work comes to an end and we are left with no options other than to reach backwards in time to retrieve some small piece of the energy they once contributed to our lives! Fortunately the light Heather’s artistic contributions bring to our lives is alive and well but it should never be taken for granted! I asked Heather a few questions that always come to my mind when I enjoy any artist’s work. I am pleased to share her candid responses with you. I hope you enjoy reading about her experience and inspiration as much as I did!

Inside The Artist’s Studio – Heather DelPalacio


When did you first discover your love for photography and why did you start or rather what has been a seminal experience for you?

Heather: It’s hard to pinpoint one moment.  I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by photos.  I used to love rummaging through the boxes of old family photos we kept in the attic.  Seeing my grandparents when they were young, my older siblings when they were babies, and my parents when they were kids – these moments in time came to life through photographs.  I kind of fell in love with the way a photo can transport you to another place and time.  When I got my first camera (a Kodak 110 film camera) I was around 9-10 years old, and I used to take photos of everything.  Then I got my first 35mm camera as a young teen and I started playing around with composition more.  When I met my husband in college, he gave me a SLR and helped me learn more about the technical side of photography (lighting, etc.).  So really, it has been kind of a life-long journey.  And I’m still learning…so the journey continues. 

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Bridge – I took this photo in Bryson City, NC on one of the annual family camping trips. It was taken with my Kodak 110 camera. It was my first attempt at “artistic” photography. I was probably 9 or 10 years old.

What is your method? How do you pick your subject matter? 

Heather: Honestly, I’m not sure I even have a method!  All I know is that when something speaks to me  – makes me think, inspires some emotion in me – I want to photograph it in a way that sort of conveys a glimpse of those thoughts and emotions to the viewer of the photograph.

Field in Winter

Field in Winter


Field in Summer

Field in Summer

Field in Winter and Field in Summer – the field next to our house on Hwy 421 in Bristol, TN. I think I photographed this field at every season over the years. It was great subject matter for practice as the colors and textures changed with the seasons.


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Mountains in Early Fall – also taken at the house on 421.

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Fenced In – This is another shot of the field on 421; but of the fence post this time. I don’t know why, but this is one of my favorite photos ever.

Who are your favorite artist, art work, and/or photographer? Who would you like to be compared to? 

Heather: It’s hard to pick a favorite when there are so many talented artists in this world.  I guess two of my all-time favorites would be Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams.  While they had very different styles and methods, both were pioneers in photography.  They took breathtaking photographs that captured the majesty of nature and the complexity of human emotion – all before the advent of digital cameras and expensive editing software.  The depth found in their work is certainly something to aspire to.

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Sunset – Hwy 421 Bristol, TN

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Dusk – Hwy. 421 Bristol, TN

What role does photography play in your life?

Heather: Photography for me is a way of expressing how I see the world.  I have absolutely no ability when it comes to drawing or painting.  So there is something magical about looking through a lens and being able to capture a little bit of the world as I see it.

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I took all of the photos in this email in Charleston when I was 16 or 17 maybe? All taken on my first 35mm point and shoot camera.

Finally, if you could give any advise to aspiring photographers what words of wisdom would you offer?

Heather:  I think the best piece of advice I could offer is practice.  Read as many books and articles as you can.  If possible, find someone with photography experience and knowledge to critique your work and give you pointers.  But above all things, practice.  The more you practice, the more you’ll discover your own style and learn which techniques work best for you.

Suzanna – Bristol, TN. That time I bought a roll of black and white film and pretended to be a photographer…lol. I think I only got about 5 decent photos out of that 24 exposure roll. But it was so much fun, and I began to understand lighting a little better. 


It only seems appropriate to end our session with this photo titled Bloom. Maybe it’s me waxing poetic but it seems to foreshadow the budding talent that has evolved over the years into a beautiful body of work that continues to flourish!


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Bloom – my favorite sandals of all time! Back when Adidas still had the bloom logo.



Thank you for taking the time to share a little bit about your passion Heather!


Music From Another Room


Life is full of so many seasons. My own life feels like it could be broken into segments of slow growth followed by spurts of explosive fast burning energy. Older people always told me to enjoy it because life speeds up as you get older and before you know it 10 years have passed you by. I get it now. I just realized 10 years have passed me by. I feel pretty good about most of it but there are memories that seem to be missing. There are gaps in my story and I can’t help but think maybe I was living a little too fast when times in my life seem like a room full of partially illuminated furniture. I can almost make out the patterns but I can’t tell if I’m looking at herringbone or houndstooth.

I never wanted this to happen but some of it seemed out of my control. I remember when I proclaimed to my parents I was leaving the nest and moving into a grown up college dorm (insert eye roll) but I don’t remember the conversation that took place, I just remember the excitement of moving out and being free to do whatever I wanted without having to answer to anyone else. It was pretty scary but also pretty awesome.  However recently I’ve thought about my little sister and my parents. I left her behind without really much explanation. I probably hurt my parents more than a little. All of this could have been avoided if I had closed my blinds to the flashing broadway lights for a little while. If I had just taken the time to reflect and look at my life from all angles right at that moment. In four years I should have stopped at some point long enough to think about it. I’m not a selfish person. I usually try to be very sensitive to other’s feelings but in this case and others throughout my life thus far I have made the same mistake over and over again. Why???

Maybe some people might say I’m egotistical but I tend to think I’m just careless. I live in the moment and when you live in the moment sometimes you fly right past the important things. Sometimes you fly right past the most important permanent details in your life-like relationships and being there for someone. I  don’t plan on trading in my tendency to live in the moment. For all its’ faults I think it’s a gift that not everyone is capable of experiencing. At least that is what I’ve been told. I love being moved by a moment. So I’ve decided to try something. You can call it what you want. I want to be present in my life. It’s great to open up to emotional responses so many things in life evoke but I want to be more accountable. I don’t want to miss the quieter moment. I don’t want to miss the music coming from another room. These, my friends, are my thoughts this fine Friday.

Have a lovely weekend!

– Byrd





7 Months …ish


Dear Ian!

I am your mother and I am a wild mess. Every morning I wake up and look at the wonder of you and then the rat race begins! I tip toe through the house and get dressed in the dark and if your dad is home I give the dogs a scrunch and head to the job. Most mornings I don’t put makeup on until I get to the office parking lot and more often than not I don’t put makeup on at all. I leave an extra toothbrush and deodorant at work for those extra special mornings when I’m really a spastic mess. My bed head that the ever so fabulous and stylish girl in Payroll is envious of, comes directly from my at home hair dresser aka the fluffy drool stained pillow I would really like to be laying my head on right now. Five O’ Clock comes early and it never hurts any less even when it becomes routine but I visualize myself successful with ultra-white teeth, freshly pressed clothing and hair bouncing with just the right amount of body and the perfect shade of color. Sometime when I get to work it is a struggle to speak the English language but I manage to get 8 hours of work completed (most days) before rushing back home to see you and your dad.

I always knew I wanted to be a mom but I pictured myself being much more polished at it! Life is funny and you’ll see that the best way to handle it is to take it all in and learn to laugh and embrace the unexpected things. I hope you’ll learn to have a plan but I also hope you’ll be willing to abandon it when your plan no longer fits where you are in life. Sometimes having the carpet pulled out from under our feet is the best and most exciting thing that ever happens to us!

So you are 7 months and some change! How did you grow so fast!?

You are the most special little stinker in the whole wide world! I feel proud and kind of responsible when you sing because singing is a big part of how I communicate with you. I sing to sooth you and I sing to make you giggle. Your dad plays you records to so I’m certain that is a big part too. When you sit up you smack your hands happily on your thighs and I mimick you to get a laugh. I don’t know what it means but it’s fun to watch! You love hearing your own voice as much as we do! Sometimes you whisper dadadada and mamamama and nananana and sometimes you shout DADADADA and MAMAMA and NANANANA! It’s a big time experiment! Serious business!

Let’s see…you’re 20 and a half  pounds now. You are wearing 1 year old clothes and your feet are pretty big but still really soft and I kiss the arches all the time which makes you smile. You bounce and reach out as we cart you around on our hips, shoulders and wherever else you will fit. You gurgle and hum in your chest when joining in on our conversations and you love looking at ceiling fans.

When you’re sleepy you grunt and rub your drool all over your face while rubbing your eyes. You fuss going down and you fuss waking up but you sleep like a rock. I mena the other day I lifted your armand put it back down and I got no reaction!

Your thighs are roly, your cheeks are round a flush and your little taters (bum/derriere whatever) are the cutest hunks of chub I have ever seen (and yes, I squish them because I’m mom and I can..for now).

I’m sure I’m missing milestones but the biggest milestone is you’re almost 7.5 months! That’s a pretty big deal! It may be time to start planning that 1st birthday party for you! At the rate I’m going I need to start a little early.


Mama and Papa

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