The Miracle of Birth

Through twists and turns of fate, my best friend and I have now known each other for almost 20 years.  Our lives have remained intertwined throughout high school, college, multiple moves, and marriage.  We try to get together every year for an adventure to stay connected despite our separate lives.  This year's adventure has been the greatest yet... a baby.  I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to be in Tucson as my friend gave birth to her first child.  It was a privilege to document her baby belly and the labor and delivery with my camera, giving them photographs to treasure of this very special time in their lives.  Congratulations, my friends, on your perfect little miracle!

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous.  It is to decide
forever to have your heart go walking on the outside of your body."
~Elizabeth Stone

Skillfully Waiting

My friend's due date has come and gone... and still there is no baby.  To help pass the time, we decided to be crafty and make our own custom picture ribbon board.  A ribbon board is a plush, fabric-covered board with criss-crossing ribbons between which you can display photos and other momentos without the need for tacks or tape.  We took a trip to Michael's craft store and JoAnn Fabrics to buy the necessary supplies.  We collected fabric, plush batting, ribbon, buttons, a staple gun and staples, canvas stretcher bars, scissors, a sewing needle, thread, and a tape measure.

Canvas stretcher bars are sold separately, allowing you to buy the 4 sides in the lengths of your choice.  We chose to make our ribbon board 20 x 30 inches.  I decided to use stretcher bars for this project (rather than the typical bulletin board) because it is easier to customize the size and the overall project weighs a lot less.

First we fit the stretcher bars together and stapled them at the joints.  Next, we tightly stetched our base fabric over the frame and stapled it into place.

Next we stretched and stapled the plush batting into place, trimming the corners to keep the batting flat.

We cut and ironed the top fabric before we stretched and stapled it into place, leaving enough overhang to tuck under the bars for a more finished look.

Arranging the ribbon took some work.  After much rearranging and measuring, we finally figured it out BUT we ran out of ribbon!  We had to make another trip to JoAnn Fabrics to pick up more.  The ribbon was cut to size and stapled to the back of the frame.

Next we sewed buttons at each intersection of ribbon.  We picked some decorative buttons of varied sizes for the front and plain white buttons for the back.  We sewed the front and back buttons to each other through the fabric, pulling tightly to create a slight puckered look.

To make our ribbon board hangible, we used this amazing little clip that simply slides into place - no tools needed.

The completed back:

The completed front:

Our finished project hanging on the wall:

This was such a simple project, so much fun to make, and the final product looks great.  It helped pass the time and occupied our hands and minds for while... until my friend's water broke while she was sewing on the final button!  After hanging our project on the wall and gathering our things, we headed off to hospital to await the arrival of a new little baby boy or girl :)

"I'll be waiting; I can't smile until I see your smile.
I'll be waiting; There's nothing else that I would rather do.
I'll be waiting; 'cause I can't sleep until I hear your heart.
I'll be waiting; patiently I'll wait right here for you."

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrises and sunsets so quickly come and go here in the desert.  Beautiful colors paint the land and sky for a only a fleeting moment before giving way to the harsh reality of day or the vast stillness of night.  These photographs are from the Saguaro National Park here in Tucson.

Sunrise at Saguaro National Park East

Sunset at Saguaro National Park West

"Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Any Day Now

I am currently visiting my best friend in Tucson who is 9 months pregnant and ready to pop at any time now.  Her due date is 23 January which is quickly approaching.  Today I took photographs to document her baby belly at its peak.  I'm very lucky to be here to share this momentous occasion with her :)

"A grand adventure is about to begin."
~Winnie the Pooh

Running Through the Canyon

Today my friends and I headed to Sabino Canyon to go running.  It's a 3.7 mile dead-end paved road through the canyon specifically for walking, running, and biking through the gorgeous scenery.  I ran 6 miles (3 out, 3 back) with only my phone for taking pictures  - let's call this a scouting trip for future photographs :)

"I love running... it is something you can do by yourself
and under your own power.  You can go in any direction,
as fast or slow as you want, seeking out new sights just on
the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."
~Jesse Owens

My First Published Books

My best friend and I have gone on some amazing hiking trips in the past couple years.  For Christmas this year, I made photo books of two of our trips for her.  They just arrived (I didn't order them until after Christmas so it's a late present) and they look amazing!  It's so cool to see my photographs in a professionally made book :)  To create the books, I used and I'm very impressed with the company.  The My Publisher program is a free download from the website and is really easy to use.  There are a lot of options for customizing the cover and pages to your liking.  I chose the Classic Hardcover which is 11.25" wide x 8.75" high.  Once your book is finished, you upload it to the My Publisher website and order it.  The website has a live chat available for instant help and there are always great coupon codes available for use when ordering.  Here are the covers and some pages from each book that I made:

"Take nothing for granted. Not one blessed, cool mountain day or one
hellish, desert day or one sweaty, stinky hiking companion. It is all a gift"
~Cindy Ross

"The biggest prize in long-distance hiking is the gift of time.
Time to look.  Time to think.  Time to feel.  All those hours you
spend with your thoughts.  You won't solve all of your problems,
but you will come to understand and accept yourself."
~Cindy Ross

Early Morning Light

I've temporarily traded in my white furry running companion for tall green prickly ones.  Although the cacti are beautiful, Dulce is a lot more fun to run with.  I woke early to go running this morning.  The sunrise made the cacti glow like golden statues and turned the distant mountains a radiant shade of pink.  Someday soon I'll be heading out early to capture some of the beauty with my DSLR instead of my phone camera :)

Jet Noise and Sunshine

Yesterday was a long day of traveling and waiting!  I am now in Tucson visiting some good friends for the next couple of weeks.  I left Dulce in Seattle and even though I know she'll be fine, I'll still worry about her.  Dulce laid claim to the sweatshirt that I threw on the bed so I left it for her.  I like to think that it will be comforting for her to have something that smells like me while I'm gone.

I had a three hour layover in Denver on my way here and right before boarding, we were informed that our flight to Tucson would be delayed an additional three hours.  By that time, every store and restaurant in the airport was closed and there was nothing to do but wait.  I passed time trying to take pictures of my surroundings without leaving my seat.

The spell-checker people must not work this late :)

I finally arrived in Tucson at 3:00AM.  This day turned out to be much longer than planned!

After a short night's sleep, I awoke to blue skies, sunshine, and the sound of A-10 fighter jets flying around outside - music to my ears :)  I'm really excited to be here.  My plans are to go running often in the warm weather, work on photography, and most importantly, spend time with my best friend who will hopefully be having a baby before I head back to Seattle!

The view outside my window - I LOVE blue skies :)  There is some grass inside the fenced backyards, but between houses there is simply colored rocks.  It's a decorative way to deal with the dry climate.