Tag Archives: Lena

365 Photos

My Project 365 is finished. One photo, each day for a year, done.

I am somewhere in the mix of proud and relieved. I’m great at starting things, but I struggle to finish them. So, this feels like an accomplishment.

A lot of people said, “How do you complete a Project 365?” Of course, the instructions are simple: take a photo every day. But, the challenge is actually doing it every day for a year. I know, because I’ve started it before and stopped just a few months in.

However, completing it this time, I came away with two big things that I think made it possible to keep this up every day:

I took my camera everywhere. It was pretty much always in my bag. In the few times that I didn’t have my camera, I used my phone. I have photos in McDonalds and Target and the doctor’s office and a whole lot from the school playground. I definitely got a few odd looks. I even had one woman who works at my kids’ school¬†tell me that she wondered why I always had my camera with me, until she mentioned it to Lena’s teacher, who knew about my blog. There were definitely funny looks or eye rolls throughout the project as I toted my camera everywhere, but perhaps a little hidden benefit of the project is that you stop caring what people think of you after awhile. ūüôā

I didn’t try to take the perfect photo every day. Most days, I just tried to be done!¬†This sounds silly, but I think if you do something every day for a year, you’re bound to learn something, probably quite a bit of somethings. But, you’re not always going to get it perfect or get what you want. I got sick twice in my first few months of the Project 365, once with the stomach flu and once with strep.¬†What I was able to accomplish either time wasn’t impressive, but I’m glad I kept going. I think that it would have been easy to¬†give up on those days, but I probably would have missed dozens of photos in future day if I had given up.

Some of you might be wondering what the point of this sort of project is. For some people, it’s the act of documenting every day. That is part of it for me. But, the larger part is that I want to improve my photography skills and the best way to do that is by lots of practice. Committing to take a photo a day will naturally cause improvement.

I made two goals for myself this year.

  • Practice composition, particularly in candid shots
  • Focus on getting images right SOOC (straight out of camera)

Let’s talk about how I did with those goals.

Practice composition, particularly in candid shots

This is still a bit challenging for me, but I feel like I’ve made some improvements in this area in the last year. It feels¬†like baby steps over huge strides. I think I’ve gotten a lot better about “chopping limbs”, meaning that I cut off a foot or hand when it should have been included. I still find slowing down long enough to really focus on composition to be a challenge. I’m also starting a mentorship with another photographer and this is something that we will work on.

Focus on getting images right SOOC (straight out of camera)

This is one area when I feel like I’ve improved a lot. I shoot entirely in manual mode, for the complete control over my settings. I’m spending a lot less time editing than I was a year ago, doing basic corrections. I think it’s still a bit of a challenge sometimes to change my settings fast enough if I’m chasing kids around, but I think that’s just because my kids move fast!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the past year.  There are a ton and it was still hard to pick!


I love the way that these photos help me remember these moments. I also love how they remind me of what is important. Photography helps me see the beauty in moments I might have overlooked. 365 days of beautiful moments.

August Photo Recap

Each month, I share how I did the previous month with my 365 goals and also share upcoming goals for the next month. I’m down to my last month of my 365. WHEW.



August Goals

  • Reconnecting with friends
  • End of Summer Fun
  • Start of School
  • Saying Goodbye to Big L

So, how did I do?

Reconnecting with friends

After visiting my family for a long period of time this summer, it was nice to see our friends again! However, August was still a pretty jam-packed month and we didn’t spend a ton of time with friends. But, the few times and few friends we did see, were well documented instances. Like Busker Fest.



End of Summer Fun

Yes, we had it! We had so much fun this summer, and one of my favorite memories towards the end of the summer was our silly string fights. It was a great way to laugh as a family and have fun!

Start of School

August marked the start of the school year for us. I am continuing my tradition of having the kids pose by the gate for their first day of school. This is an easy way notice their growth!

Saying Goodbye to Big L

I took so many photos in Big L’s last few days with us. And, I’m glad to have all of them.


September Must-Capture List:

  • Gus’s start of school
  • My birthday ūüôā

After School Traditions

We almost always hang out on the school playground for a bit after school. Reed always asks, and Lena and Gus enjoy it, too. But, Gus has us started on a new tradition.

Each day, after school, he asks to open up Lena’s lunchbox. She happily agrees, and then the two of then go through everything.

They finish it off together.

She never eats her cookie, so it’s always his.


I felt a bit silly, continuing to pack this cookies in her lunch which she obviously doesn’t like, so I thought I’d replace it with a bit of chocolate. I knew this wouldn’t fly with Gus, who has started to look forward to that cookie each day. So, I packed them both– more sweets than I’d ever give her for lunch, but I knew she could be trusted. And, I was right– it’s always there, ready for him to find.

Princess Picnic

Lena has a new friend. Brenya is a couple of years younger than Lena, which is perfect. Lena is glad for the chance to be a helper and is also glowing, having a younger friend look up to her. Plus, this two just play very well together.

Anyways, Lena has been wanting to have a picnic. She’s decided it’s perfect weather for it, and she’s right. She had one with her babysitter the other day, but I forgot to give them a picnic basket, so it was¬†not exactly the vision in her head. That same day, we got together with her new friend and they decided that they wanted to be princesses together. Then, I found the beautiful light and open field where I took the photos of Lena from yesterday’s post. And, everything came together.

The picnic was really her idea, and I tried to give her as much control over the execution as possible, helping me with the choices for food and making sure we brought all the picnic necessities– a blanket, napkins, PB&J sandwiches, potato chips and carrots. She helped me pick out the dress, and I did her hair. She was so excited.

Meet her friend Brenya.

Can you tell that these two just adore each other? Late in the evening, I heard Brenya say, “I love you.” And Lena immediately replied, “I love you, too!”
It was perfect. On our walk home, Lena raved about what a wonderful time she’d had. I loved that. Not sadness that it was over, but joy that her night went just as she wanted.

At Six Years Old

My dear Lena,

I look at these photos, and they seem to be the very essence of you, at six years old.

Happiness and wonder.
Sensitivity and gentleness. 2014-04-09_0008
Joy and excitement.
Enthusiasm and beauty.2014-04-09_0004
Peace and big dreams.

Kids always seem to be in a rush to grow up. I remember being a kid and thinking that there was some great secret only adults knew.

Truth: there’s no grown-up secret. We¬†definitely don’t have it all figured out.

But, girl, I think that maybe you do.


[Imperfect Fridays are the day I take out of the week to peel back the polished layer of the blogosphere and get real with you.]

I’d like to not be vulnerable right now. I’d like to not share what I’m about to share. But, that’s exactly why I need to share it.

I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time. I was never a rail-thin kid– I always had that tummy. The one that’s adorable on kids who aren’t me, but of course, I hated on myself. When I quit swimming after 6th grade, I gained weight even more easily, all the while hitting that age where self-esteem really tanks.

And, so began my love/hate/addiction relationship with food. And, my hate relationship with my body.

Sometimes, I look back at pictures of 15 year old me, or 17 year old me, or 21 year old me, and I just want to reach through the screen and say “Girl, you are alright. Don’t worry about your weight… yet.”

But, I could never have convinced myself of that at any of those ages, because I just didn’t believe it about myself.¬†I’m slowly learning is that there’s no point in trying to fix the weight issue(belief or legitimate), until I fix that heart issue.

I will never stop struggling with my weight until I stop struggling with food. Until, I come to terms with my body and come to terms with food.

Maybe that makes no sense. But, here’s the story. Between the two adoptions, I got into weight loss and exercise and eating right. I was probably at my strongest and healthiest (although not thinnest) ever.¬†IMG_2130

Now, almost 3 years later, I’m at my heaviest.¬†I gained it all back, and then some. Yes, that’s what you always hear about fad diets, but that wasn’t me. I was eating well– not diet food, but real food. I was going to the gym– and running and working out at home. I knew and still know what foods are healthy and what foods aren’t. I know my ideal caloric intake in a day, approximately how many calories are in most foods, the calorie deficient needed to drop a pound, and so on. I love knowledge.

So, where’s the problem?

The problem is, I’m also a food junkie. I dealt with my weight issues, not with my heart. Not my motivation to eat or my honest opinions on the person in the mirror. ¬†Are you following?

I had the discipline to cut my calories and work out regularly, but I still didn’t like myself anymore. I still didn’t find a different way to handle my problems than “eating my feelings”. And, so when things got hard, when I felt more stressed than ever(hello, second adoption), I had nothing to fall back on. No better crisis management than my deal old friend carbs. There was no better reward or comfort than the one I found in food.

It’s a miserable¬†cycle– have you noticed? Stress = excess eating = excess weight. Excess weight = more stress = excess eating.

Why am I sharing this? Have I figured it out?

Nope, sorry, guys, this is Imperfect Friday. This is where I air my dirty laundry and try to be a bit more real with you all. I don’t have to figure it out to share, do I?

Tonight, we spent time with some new friends and this sweet mom, a photographer, said, “do you want me to take a picture of you with Lena?” First, my brain said “NO WAY!”, but then¬†it said “Embrace the camera. Save this moment for Lena. She doesn’t think you’re fat. She thinks you’re beautiful.” “Yes,” I told her and passed my camera off.

And, when I flipped back through my photos later in the night, I had the reaction I knew I’d have. It’s the same reaction I had when I saw our beautiful family photos in October. That deep sinking feeling most women, most people, know.¬†“I really look like that?!”

And now, I shared it with you guys anyways. Part of me believes that the first step to healing is to rip off the band-aid.

Not the step to dropping pounds, but the step to reconciling my body and my heart. My biggest motivation of all is that I don’t want to pass this body hatred along to Lena.¬†Whether she’s always lean or whether she’s 300lbs, I want her to get that she’s¬†okay… and she’s beautiful. At 6 years old, she¬†proclaims she is beautiful. I absolutely believe that to be true. And, she frequently tells me I am. But when will she begin to¬†see through my “thank you!” and notice I don’t quite believe it? When will she start to comprehend society’s millions of messages that thin = beautiful and look to my example for truth? And what kind of example can I be for her, at any size, if I don’t truly believe that all people are beautiful, myself included?

No answers, just more questions.


If you’ve been reading A Moose in Moscow for awhile, you know that Lena’s first name is actually Scarlett. She is prefers to go by her birth name, which is also her middle name, Lena.

She dresses herself, which means that she comes up with some unique outfits. I’m always curious to see what she puts together. One day recently, she picked out a red shirt, a red sweater and red skinny jeans. Truly living up to her name.

When I asked her if I could take her outside to photograph this awesome outfit, she chose to add pink piggie socks and red glitter shoes.

I love this girl. She’s sweet.

And also very silly.