This year...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sweater’s, carols, and egg nog,  oh my!…As I sit here contemplating the year and what to write I find myself once again babbling so feel free to use this as kindling .  I do not journal and although I have entered the virtual world of blogging I am very sporadic. Consequently, these letters and a few Facebook status updates seem to be the sacred words written about our year’s events. 
Here is our year’s month by month synopsis.
January- we after much prayer and consideration decided to join a new church edifice, Bayside Community.  This is a place filled with hope with  young and old alike who love to serve and do genuine outreach. not to mention the fact that it meets in the children’s school and all of our college kids attend here as well and it is our joy to see them all loving church. Worshiping and being in community with such folks is what church is really all about. This and good doughnutsJ.
 February- Our previously postponed trip to Haiti takes place as we Skype with Summer on her birthday.  Technology in the third world…. what an irony…
March-Just listening to my first and second born little girls play Hallelujah on the Violin and Viola, pure delight!
April-after photographing numerous weddings I finally decided to make my 18 years of photography into a business: Kirstin Shontere photography “An Image Boutique”.  I have learned more the past few months than the previous 18 years in spite of all of the classes I took while in college.   I can’t say I am in the black yet due to some serious camera and lens investments.  However the tax breaks alone should be stellar in spite of the current administration’s insistence that “hope and change” really means taxes.
May- was one of the most heartbreaking times of our life.  Roy has gone home to be with the Lord.  We are grateful for his release from pain and the agony of fighting Cancer.  Please keep my mom in your prayers, however, as she will have to learn to live without her husband of the past 18 years. 
June- Resigning from teaching has to have been the hardest decision I have ever considered.  It has been six months since I resigned and I still toil over the decision daily.  All the while, rejoicing that I do not have to spend my days pent up in a room full of frustration, both mine and my students.  I truly believe that every human being has infinite worth. Yet, I was finding the system of standardized testing made it impossible to see my students as anything but underperforming numbers dictating my own  self- worth as well as theirs.  Mind you I was teaching reading to 10th graders.
July – we once again traveled to North Carolina for Vacation and while we saw many elk and waterfalls we once again eluded the dreaded bears.  These mysterious creatures cause my children much anxiety on hikes, in spite of the fact that they have never seen one.  My anxiety however comes from being trapped by growling teenagers.
August- The discovery of Pinterest has both filled me with joy and lots of ideas.  It also steals much of my time. but I do love the idea of having boards filled with pictures of things verses a house full of things.  (Oh wait I already have that so now I suppose I have real things and virtual things)The way tastes change these days, it is a lovely option and beats buying magazines and saving them for years only to collect dust.
September- throws us once again into volleyball season. I must say I am thrilled at the girls’ choice of sport and the fact that they continue to get better each year makes the games worth watching!  Girls at BCS can play some serious volleyball!
October- Ahh a return to my roots.  Dan took me on a trip to Chicago.  As I relished the art Institute, Savannah called me in Chicago to ask for her Social Security number so she could take her driver’s permit test. I was both elated and terrified.  Thrilled she was taking initiative and petrified at the thought of my baby venturing into this crazy world of driving.  Thankfully my mother in law spends a lot of time here and is thrilled to let her drive her car. 
November-Summer remains as entertaining as ever.   She played the ugly duckling in her class play very well I might add.  She didn’t even take offense to this.  Furthermore, she learned to ride her bike without training wheels.  Life without training wheels is tough I am thinking of going back myself. 
December- I fear senility or lunacy may be setting in.  As I stepped out of the car at Home Depot to get our Christmas tree I discovered I had forgotten to put shoes on.  If I were my brother in law this would be fine, however, I do not enjoy the feeling of concrete pressing upon my feet or being unsure of where I left my shoes.
After getting the entire tree decorated it decided it was a little front heavy and fell over,(or perhaps the fact that Dan insisted that it ouch our 11 foot ceiling and put cinder blocks under it to make it taller). Summer made a beeline for the dining room as though it might run after her and to which Sierra exclaimed, “I sure am glad Mom wasn’t here!”  I believe I was out getting more decorations for it.  Thank goodness I am sick of stuff. Phew!
We embarked upon another return to Haiti for our annual Christmas break mission.  Dan, myself and 14 young adults whose heart’s desire is to serve and change the world for the better.  Haiti is truly one of the most dilapidated, filthy, corrupt places on the planet, yet in the midst of the people lays the hope and truth of a God who redeems and dwells with us.  I must state that I have more peace and joy when I am there serving the least of these as they in turn serve me; the gospel paradox.    Having a hungry, thirsty half naked child brush the dirt off of your shoes is as humbling and uplifting as it gets.  Seeing a child relish a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like it is a piece of heaven, priceless!
I constantly find myself torn by the desire to both to save and savor the world. 
May you all be blessed in the New Year and beyond.
Dan, Kirstin, Savannah, Sierra and Summer

This is my Prince Charming! I simply couldn't resisit the perfect light outside the Art Institute of Chicago in the beautiful Millineum park. There were actually three wedding shoots going on around us. I guess great minds think alike. Or perhaps it's monkey see, monkey do. Either way perfect light and texture is what we photographers love. Throw in a great subject and Voila!
Life is sweet, Prince Charming is sweeter!

Life without training wheels

Friday, November 4, 2011

Okay so I know that most people learn to ride a bike when they are 4 0r 5 however, my Summer is not the most fearless kid on the block. Finally, at the ripe old age of seven, in a manner of minutes and a few falls along the way Summer learns to ride without those trusted training wheels. It did take a little encouragement from her dad and sister a long with a some peer pressure from the neighbors. It just goes to show, a little tenacity goes a long way, on both her part and ours. I feel like we all need this renewed sense of accomplishment in life.  Sometimes, even the small things that remain undone leave us frustrated.  Finally mustering up the courage to try try again even if it is a day late, gives us a sense of satisfaction that can not be manufactured or bought. Summer went to bed that night ecstatic, exclaiming " I am sooooo happy for myself!" A little accomplishment even in the small things can really renew our spirits. Thankfully I got home just in time to snap a few pictures...
Life is sweet, accomplishment is sweeter!

I had so much fun spending a Saturday morning with the wonderful Lakewood Ranch English teacher, Mrs. Mandy Kersey and her darling brood of animals. Her miniature horse had a baby mini horse. Gypsy is the size of a small dog and as sweet as can be, I just had to share her picture with you. All the animals were simply hilarious just like a big family with lots of kids. Moo moo is actually the photogenic one in the family...

Animals are sweet, Life is sweeter!

Crazy Love

Friday, September 16, 2011

Summer rain

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweet summertime! How precious to be able to spend some time with my girls, watching Summer Sky play in the rain. how can I resist taking pictures? Not exactly a professional shoot... this was totally spontaneous.
Truly wonderful the mind of a child is....

one year later...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It has been exactly a year since my last post...The busiest year of my life. A year of laughter and tears. I spent the last year teaching tenth grade. This was both trying and rewarding. My students have filled my life with joy and heartache, fun and frustration. I loved being a teacher however, I love being a mother more. I will miss my lively classroom and colleaugues,( especially Mandy) yet I am looking forward to being a part of my own family again. I am so blessed. I have the most wonderful husband and children in the world and I have missed them this past year. So it's the first day of summertime. I can't believe I miss my students already! I would like to share a few of their beautiful smiling faces...