Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Given the rainy, crummy weather we've had over the past couple of weeks, it's hard to remember we are in the middle of summer.  But, alas, we are. There have been a few great days of hot temps where we've been able to do some fun activities.  I can still conjur up those wonderful feelings of summer from when I was a kid - going swimming to the pool with my friends, playing Atari (that should give you an idea of how old I am!), making mac 'n cheese for lunch and playing Ghost in the Graveyard as the sun went down.

One thing I don't remember from my childhood days are Splash Pads.  There are plenty of them around nowadays and goodness are they ever fun! Since our neighborhood doesn't have a pool, this is a great way for my kids to have fun in the water and cool off during the hot days.

Best friends

Last week, we met up with some friends at a local, newly renovated splashpad right off of our downtown area.  It doesn't take much to make the kids happy - just a big circle of cement with multiple fountains of water coming out at different places. A good time was had by all.  Add lunch to the mix after they've worn themselves out in the water and the day is complete!

Hitting it straight on!

The brave ones went right to the center and sat down.

Taking a break and warming up in the sun.

A perfect bench for 5 little friends.

Can't wait to do it all again!  Until next time....

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Back in the Studio

Once upon a time, anyone who knew me, knew me as a dancer.  Growing up, I spent countless hours in classes and rehearsals and performances.  In high school, I danced upwards of 20 hours per week.  After college, I danced with a professional jazz company for a few years as well as taught the advanced jazz classes at a couple of studios.  My dancer life started around age 3 and ended around age 29.  At that time, I thought I'd take a break and then go back to dance with a different company, but it turned out that I just didn't miss it enough.

My first ever dance solo at age 4

Salt Creek Ballet Company Apprentices 1988

Me and Murray Phillips in "And the Winner Is..." by Susan O'Connell.

Company members as Snowflakes in The Nutcracker

Flash forward to today and almost no one I hang with knows me as a dancer, save a few friends who have been in my life for many, many years.  Life took me on a different path, one I'm enjoying immensely, as a photographer. It's been an interesting change and one I know in my heart has been the right direction for me to go.

For the past 10 years, I've sat on the Board of Directors for Salt Creek Ballet, where I danced in high school and through my first year in college.   As my photography career has developed, it allowed my love for both art forms to intersect during times when I was able to photograph the dancers during various events in support of SCB.  This week, however, I found myself back in the dance studio after more than a 12 year absence, not as a photographer but as a dancer again.

The founder of Salt Creek Ballet, Patricia Sigurdson, passed away this past March.  She had such an impact on so many of our lives and her loss has truly been felt. This Friday, we are holding a Memorial to remember, honor and celebrate Patti's life. In a brief moment of insanity, I agreed to be a part of a piece created for this special event performed by Salt Creek alumnae. Julia Rhoads, former SCB dancer and founder of an amazing dance company called Lucky Plush Productions, has put together a very creative piece following the lines of Patti's life story.  Any alumnae who wanted to participate were welcome to join in. There are about 10 of us who agreed, all from different times in SCB history.  Thankfully, Julia has kept it very simple and not too rigorous, for those of us who no longer dance on a regular basis.  I was a bit sore after rehearsal but I'm happy to report my body wasn't in nearly as much pain as I had expected.

It was wild to be in a studio again.  I felt very comfortable in the rehearsal process as it all came back to me easily with how it felt and how it works.  Watching Julia create this piece for Patti, with input from everyone in the room, was most definitely the best part of the night.  I never thought I'd be in a studio dancing again with my former co-dancers but it happened.  Life can surprise us all from time to time.

I found myself being a part of the dance, but catching so many moments where I had to resist the urge to run and get my camera.  I captured moments where I could as I wanted to share just a little peak into this really cool experience.

I can hardly wait for Friday night to see this wonderful program created in Patti's honor with multiple dancers and pieces performed in her memory.  There will be alumnae from many different years who have danced with SCB and I'm excited for the reunion I think it will be.  I'm thankful for this unique experience I get to have and for the fact that I was able to snap even a few photos to capture it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Peek into the Past....on Daddy's Day

I've spent a good chunk of time this morning looking for photos of my dad and I.  I know there are a bunch in my house, in a Fedex envelope....somewhere.  A few years back, I won tickets to be on John Edward Cross Country. For those of you who don't know him, John Edward is a well know psychic medium. I've actually been read by him twice - both times with my dad coming through.  His production team came out to our house in Illinois after the first reading, which took place in New York, to do a follow up and have our story included in one of his episodes. Our story aired in November of 2007. So, all the photos I wanted to share today are in one safe place that were used for that episode that I now can't find.  I will though - eventually.

My dad and his sister Carey on the moon.

Instead, I'll share a bit about my dad and some really, really cool photos of him from his younger years. Clearly, these are not my images and there's nothing on them to say where they came from.  Bummer.  Regardless, I love having these - a peek back into the person my dad was.  The first thing that comes to mind is how funny he was. He kept us laughing - all the time.  Ask any of my friends from when I was growing up and they'll back me up.  I was embarrassed in restaurants several times - hilarious for my dad, mortifying for me. Looking back, I can now see the humor!  He loved to leave me phone messages with goofy spellings (intentionally) and would often spell things backwards to try and throw me off.  Nevik became my husband's name, instead of Kevin.  He used a ton of hair spray to keep his combover in place (somehow it worked for him) and he wore Brut cologne. I still have the remnants of one bottle in my cabinet under the sink in the bathroom.  From time to time, he would be sitting in his chair and would bust out laughing, seemingly at nothing. When I asked him what was so funny, he'd respond by saying, "Bari, I just told myself the best joke!"  When I was little, my mom, dad and I used to spend Friday nights eating pizza and watching The Love Boat.  He came to all of my recitals and dance performances and school ceremonies.  And darn it, if he wasn't right about whatever issue we were discussing 99% of the time.  I never questioned his love for me, his faith in me and he showed me what being a great dad was all about. I must have learned well because I married a man who is a great dad too. He also taught me about doing the right thing, having a good work ethic, how to have fun and about being a truly good person.

I miss my dad every day. He's been gone for seven and a half years now.  That doesn't seem possible really. For the last 10 years of his life, he had emphysema but never let it slow him down, as evidenced by the fact he used to go to the gym three times a week and get on the treadmill for 20 minutes each time.  He had lung cancer for the last 11 months of his life (which was the end of going to the gym) and it was pneumonia that took him in the end.  He gave us one final gift as he was passing...he died with dignity, grace and yes humor as well.  When his oldest nephew came into the hospital room to say his goodbyes to my dad, my dad extended his hand for a handshake and said, "Rob, you got here just in time..." and then let his head drop and pretended to die. Honest to goodness - who DOES that?  It took us all a beat and we cracked up, along with my dad. That was him in a nutshell. Taking it as it came and accepting what was in the moment.  Another one of my dad's nephews, Richard, wrote a wonderful eulogy for my dad's service, which kept us laughing about 70% of the time.  it was such a perfect capture of my dad and I read it at least once a year.

My dad and his mom, who passed before I was born.

So today, I'm ever so thankful for the amazing Daddy I was lucky enough to have in this life.  I know my kids would have lit up his life - as they did for their first 17 months in this world.  It makes me so happy to know he got to meet them.  My kids don't remember him but they think they do, as I love to share tidbits and random memories about my dad.  I believe he can see them. I only wish I could see him, seeing them.

My dad's parents with him and his sister on the left; My dad in the Navy on the right

Happy Father's Day to my own dad who has already sent me 2 little signs today (thanks, Daddy), to my husband who is also the best daddy I could ask for for our own children and to all the other Dad's out there, wherever you may be - at home, in the service of our country or in Heaven watching over your family as they continue along their journey, like we are.

My dad in between his sister and her husband, my Uncle Sol, with my grandparents in the front.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Little Signs

When you think about growing up, who comes to your mind immediately with your most favorite memories?  For me, it's my Grandma Meg and Grandpa Bob.  I spent 2-3 weeks each summer, starting when I was 8 years old, up in Canada at their cottage on Four Mile Lake.  That lasted until I was about 18 years old.   The cottage was, and actually still is, in between 2 tiny towns called Coboconk and Fenlon Falls in Northern Ontario.  I spent hours reading books, fishing, going on hikes, playing with my friend who lived on the other side of the lake and playing card games with my grandma.  I fed the birds and helped tame the chipmunks.  Bluejays were the most prevalent, chickadees were the cutest and the whipoorwills were by far the most annoying. Heaven help you if you had one decide to land on the roof at 3am! I had a chipmunk we named Rascal who was there every summer, ready to greet me.  She had a half a tail so she was easy to spot.  For six or so summers, I could hid a peanut behind my ear or under my swimsuit strap and she would run up my arm, find it, stuff it in her cheek and take off again.  (I have photos to prove this if you think I'm making that part up).  

In addition to my grandparents, most of the rest of my mom's side of the family is up in Canada. I'm also lucky enough to have other friends that are just like family to me.  In fact, one of those couples now own's my grandparents cottage and so we are fortunate to still have access to it and can still bring our kids up there for wonderful experiences.

Sadly, both of my grandparents have been gone for quite some time. We lost my grandpa at the beginning of 2000 and my grandma passed in September of 2002.  I miss them more than I can say. However, every once in awhile, something happens and I believe they've given me a little hello from wherever they are now.

At my family session this past Sunday, we all moved to a nearby bridge to take a few photos.  I sat on the railing of the bridge and the next thing I hear is one of the little girls reciting letters that she seemed to be reading from underneath the exact spot where I was sitting. Literally, right underneath my legs.  I couldn't figure out what in the world she was doing.  So I move, squat down and see this:

It's been said that, if you are open to them, you'll get signs from your loved ones who have passed on.  There it was. A little hello from two of my most favorite people who have been a part of this journey of mine.   Keep your eyes and your heart open. You never know who you might hear from or what form the hello will take.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mr. Energy & Co.

This might be the most energetic little boy I have ever met.  He was relatively subdued for the first 5 minutes or so. Then, we got to a spot where he started dancing for me and it was awesome. I didn't realize at the time, though, that we had just flipped his on switch and it wouldn't turn off until the session was over. (Even then, I'm not sure it went off!)  :)  The whole family was sweet and the little guy was such a charmer. I had to be fast with my camera as he literally didn't stay in one place for more than 2-3 seconds.  He kept me running but I loved every minute of it!  I'm looking forward to meeting the newest little one who is on his way.

Airborne - his state for most of our time together!

Love the love!

Such a sweet family.

Honestly - every woman should look this stunning while pregnant!

Waiting in the wings...already loved!

Thank you for asking me to capture your family photos!  I hope to meet your newest little person once he's made his arrival. I wish you all the best - and sleep. I wish you lots of sleep!  :)