timeless joy

i had to share these happy spring pictures of lucy playing at the park. playground equipment has certainly evolved in the last few decades, and i love how the classics are still a crowd favorite. i mean, the superspiderwebrockwalls are cool and all, but you really can't beat a good, old-fashioned swing. i was so fortunate to have a stay-at-home mom when i was growing up, and i have such wonderful memories of our afternoons at the park in my little home town. driving to the park was always part of the fun, as i got to sit in the front seat with the windows down (rolled down). the eagles played on the 8-track and my carseat consisted of my mom's forearm in the event of an abrupt stop. these days the safety windows in the back don't go down more than half way, and lucy is strapped in her carseat six ways to sunday - but we turn up the xm radio and open the sun roof and make the best of it. and once we step into the park, time stands still for a delicious moment. i hope down the road, when she is staring 40 right in the face, she'll look back at these days and smile a dimpled smile - and feel as blessed as i do.


this time of year always brings back highschool memories for me. i close my eyes, and there i am, 18 and barefoot, cruising in my bright blue jeep, the distorted 16 candles soundtrack blaring. man, i loved that tape*. my sun-in treated side pony tail whipped in the wind while my monstrous set of mall bangs stayed put, effectively shellacked. (the 80's must have done a number on the old ozone.) i got the chance to take some pictures before the lakeside prom this year, and let's just say prom fashion evolution is a good thing. evan and his date ashley were so refreshingly classy & poised. they looked like they were ready for red carpet - or better yet - a spring soiree on gatsby's sprawling lawn. my prom fell on the same weekend as the high school state tennis tournament. a deluxe oklahoma-grade farmer's tan accompanied my taffeta strapless gown. almost as important as picking out that tea-length dress (!) was planning the after-prom ensemble. it was customary back then to coordinate outfits with your date, in case the deer-in-headlights-flourescent-lighting party pix from the event weren't going to be embarrassing enough later. after much, much debate, i went with a red, navy and yellow number. red swatch watch, pleated bermuda shorts (almost as flattering as the dress), a v-neck sweater vest over a tee shirt with rolled up sleeves (if you were really feeling sassy, you could wear two tees, sleeves rolled up to reveal the bonus color underneath. shockingly enough, the same could be done with socks.) v-neck sweater vest, coordinating socks and cole-haan loafers (the backs smashed down just so). so very page 97 of the preppy handbook. i'm not making up the preppy handbook. i still own my yellowed, dog-eared copy. it's still a great read. thank you, seniors, for inspiring this totally 80's trip down memory lane.
definition for seniors: *tape (n.) - what we listened to before the invention of mp3 players & ipods

look at him! see??? wouldn't he be the perfect 2010 version of jay gatsby? and beautiful ashley would make a stunning daisy! the best part is, she's just as sweet as she is pretty. i've known evan since he was playing peewee football back in tulsa. it's so strange now to have to look up when i'm talking to him. he lives directly behind us, and whenever he's in his back yard, my daughter just stands at the edge of our deck and just watches him, grinning. her first crush at four years old. she has good taste, huh? evan is an incredible golfer, so we thought it would be appropriate to get a few shots on the 18th green before pre-prom dinner at the country club. aren't they gorgeous kids - excuse me - young adults? and no tea length or farmer's tans anywhere....thank goodness. can't wait for your senior picture shoot, evan. you are quite an easy subject. don't tell lucy, though, she'll be determined to tag along!

caleb & eli

we've been talking about doing this shoot for months, and it was certainly worth the wait. i love the way they turned out! caleb and eli have these incredibly beautiful dark eyes, and i've been dying to capture them on film. mom ali added to my excitement by suggesting we shoot downtown at the culinary district. the enclosed courtyard out back has walls bathed in warm, rustic tones and a grand fountain. an old farrier's building stands beyond the courtyard with dirt floors, delicious open light and faded turquoise paint. the horseshoes left behind from many decades past are now embedded into the courtyard concrete. what character!

the boys were quite a delight to work with, as was their mom. they arrived early before the shoot to enjoy a cookie from the kitchen inside the culinary district. as i was adjusting my settings, i looked down to discover a cookie-crumb-faced eli, and had to begin snapping away. mom ali didn't flinch, pull out the baby wipes or anything. she just sat back and laughed as the crumbs flew and the camera clicked. handsome five year old caleb is a star wars fanatic - i'm so glad i was able to get a few shots of him with his star wars guy. you should have seen the look on caleb's face when i told him i hadn't seen the movie since i was in kindergarten. (i didn't dare mention that i slept through the second half!) precious eli has been around for 20 months, and i think he's been walking (make that running) for about 18 of them. what a ball of energy! these brothers are so fun to watch, and so sweet to each other. once, in between shots, i looked over just in time to witness caleb giving his little brother an impromptu kiss on the cheek. arg! why wasn't my camera ready?! thanks, ali! your happiness is contagious and your boys are truly a JOY to be around. what a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

the art church

my first voyage into hot spring's art church was a couple of weeks ago. i took my daughters to a mommy-and-me-style music class directed by my super talented friend, becca. the art church is in art co-op set in a renovated old - you guessed it - church. i was mesmerized the second i entered the building under its creaky bell tower. the early (as in pre - 9:00) morning sun glowed through the stained glass onto the dark wood floors and weathered pews, and vibrant art twinkled on the walls. the children were already singing when we arrived. you'd think after living in this little town for six years, i could avoid getting lost on the way and being late - but that's a whole other story. we entered the music room to the lyrics of simon and garfunkel's Scarborough fair. multi-colored silk scarves swayed over the heads of dancing toddler bodies. it was a '70s moment, and it was beautiful. of course, i jumped at the chance to take some photos at the art church a few days later. my two girls and i met becca and her two boys, grady and peter, for a short & sweet shoot. the icing on the photographer's cake? in the yard behind the building sat a 1950's stainless steel bambi travel trailer (complete with pale turquoise interior!). grady and lucy jumped right in and took over - they were hilarious. what a fabulous morning. thanks, ohmans! the 3 laduke girls sure had fun!

magical, mystical FOUR

well, she did it. she turned 5. under a big texas sky on a glorious afternoon in december, she turned five. i can't believe it. blink of an eye. she's been 5 for a couple months now, and things are already a bit different. the other evening after lucy had gone to bed, i opened up a closet and there was "silky", the pink minky dot blanket that has been her nightly bedtime companion since birth. she had gone to bed without silky, and she didn't even notice. sigh. and she's getting more and more independent with each passing day. you should have seen the lunch she fixed herself a couple days ago. she got the barstool and moved it diligently around the kitchen gathering her supplies. she prepared the food and arranged her plate beautifully: orange slices (peeled by herself), boiled egg (previously boiled - don't worry), gold fish, sliced banana (she used a butter knife), a pb&j cut into a heart shape and a capri sun. cracked me up! she's been drawing pictures of justin "beaver" lately, and asked if we could get a lady gaga c.d.... where is this stuff coming from? then, yesterday as i was driving her to her playdate, we were talking about using manners and being polite to her friend's parents....you know, the please & thank you & yes ma'am, yes sir talk. there she sat in her pink booster seat, blonde hair pulled back sweetly in a headband, gently kicking the seat with little mary janes. her angelic voice was saying, "yes ma'am, mamma...i will"....then after a little pause she added, "aaaaaaand i shouldn't say idiot, butt, stupid, or WIENER, right mamma?? 'cause that would be rude??".... i about wrecked!!! what was that last word she said? excuse me? do i even want to know where that one came from? i gripped the wheel, choked a little, and said, "um, yes, you're right. that would be very rude"...

five is going to be a wild ride. so bring it on. i'm ready - let the wild rumpus begin!
i only have a couple more months to add to this post - i can't believe i have an almost five year old! now, i realize she won't automatically turn into a big kid when she turns five. but, i do know the time will come when she no longer begs to wear her beloved, worn pink bunny tee every day. eventually she will not need "piggy-n-silky" whenever she's sleepy, or simply feeling out of sorts. some day she'll stop tip-toeing into our bed, quiet as a mouse in the middle of the night. maybe she'll eventually stop announcing the details of each and every visit to the bathroom. as time goes on she may not need a band aid for a multitude of imaginary boo-boos. some day soon the word "underwear" will no longer produce hysterical bouts of laughter. i know lots of things will change in the next couple of years. but i hope some things never do: the sparkle in her eyes when she hugs her little sister, her incredibly infectious giggle (will she ever be too old to tickle?), her adventurous spirit, ("can i ski next, daddy?") her tenacity (though occasionally infuriating), her adoration for all living creatures - from grasshoppers & snakes to cats & dogs, the way she gets completely and utterly sucked into story books and movies, the way her sweet, simple prayers can bring you to your knees....i could go on for days. she's just such a cool little kid... and while i know some things are bound to change, i'm pretty sure some things never will.

i'm continuing to add to the post below from spring...images of this fleeting time....the year that lucy is four. i want to remember the pruned pool fingers, the marathon baths, the craft paint that covers my kitchen table (and floor), the cookie crumbs in the porch swing, the unabashed dancing in dress-up clothes when she thinks no one is watching, the bare feet prancing across the hot july pavement on starboard circle. if only time could stand still, if even for a moment...

"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million".
-Walt Streightiff

i will continue to add day-in-the-life images to this post for many months, while lucy is still at this delicious (albeit often devilish) age of four. at the end of this post i've quoted from "To a Child" by Christopher Morley. i've always loved this particular poem, but these days the words are oh so much more meaningful. how quickly time flies! i blinked a couple of times and my lucy grew out of her leg ringlets (no offence, lucy - they were irresistibly adorable. feel free to peruse lucy's babybook for proof if you are up to the task. it weighs a little more than lucy did when she was born - just a little fair warning). four is a truly magical age. in the eyes of a four year old, every-day things suddenly become extraordinary: a periwinkle weed growing through the crack in the front walk, a ladybug scurrying in the window sill, two new teeth peeking out of baby sister's mouth, a pool of rainwater in the sandbox, the first blinking firefly of the evening or a postcard from gammy in the mailbox. each new day brings some delightful mystery only a four year old can appreciate, and i must remind myself to slow down and pay attention. i thank God each day for the priceless gift of lucy, and for the opportunity to see His world through the eyes of a four year old once again.

An excerpt from Christopher Morley's
"To a Child"

The greatest poem ever known
Is one all poets have outgrown:

The poetry, innate, untold
Of being only four years old.
Still young enough to be a part
Of Nature's great impulsive heart,
Born comrade of bird, beast, and tree
And unselfconscious as the bee --
And yet with lovely reason skilled
Each day new paradise to build;
Elate explorer of each sense --
Without dismay, without pretense! .....