Saturday, May 16, 2009

Grandma's Garden

It is unfortunately fortunate. I grew up all over the world; that's the fortunate part. I didn't get to spend much time with my grandparents or have a solid relationship with them for that matter due to the distance between us; that's the very unfortunate part. My parents did try really hard though to make sure that we visited with our grandparents whenever we were state-side; the memories I have of them are few, simply because we didn't get that much time together, due to our circumstances; that's unfortunate. My thoughts of my grandparents though are bright and crystal clear; they make me smile when I recall them; that's fortunate. I only have one grandparent still living, unfortunate. I plan to see him when I go home to Utah in a few weeks, fortunate.  
The majority of my girlfriends live close to their moms, like walking distance close.  I feel a pang of jealousy when "pop" over to their "mom's house" or "drop the kids off at grandma's for a bit". Jealous on a few levels: that they get to "pop over", jealous they get to see their mothers for a few moments whenever they wish, and jealous that their children are growing-up close to grandma and grandpa.

Last Saturday I meet 10 cousins who are so lucky to have each other and to live close to their grandma and grandpa.

 I visited a most remarkable place: acres of beautifully landscaped garden. There was a main garden, a rose garden, a secret garden, an athletic area for basketball and tennis, a pool, and a play area that had small playhouses for each grandchild. It was similar to Hearst Castle, on a smaller scale and without a zoo. :) It was breathtaking for the obvious reason of its beauty, but also because of the reason it was built and because of the people it helps to gather. 

Bill and Carol designed and built their home and garden with the objective to gather their family, to give them a meeting place. They wanted their grandchildren to have a safe place to flee the cares and worries of this world. They wanted a place where imagination could grown, a place where life's weeds wouldn't sprout, a place where the air would always be fragrant, and a place where the memories will always smell like roses and fresh cut grass. Their home and its gardens act as a refuge for their children and their grandchildren. In the short hours I spent with them I sensed such a strong sense of belonging, from everyone, but especially the cousins. I loved how they interacted together, kissed each other, held one another's hands. I loved their shared giggles, dreams, dances, and unspoken yet powerfully understood language that only family knows how to speak.

This garden is a blessed place.

The people it was built for are more beautiful than the flowers growing there.

There are 10 grandchildren, soon there will be more, but for now they are some of the tightest cousins I have ever met.

Matt is the youngest, right now. (You might recognize Matt and his brother Ryan from the spring chick shoot) I am sure he will adapt nicely to a new sibling, especially with everyone around to still love on him. He was easily enticed for pictures by a little candy. 

He was easily enticed for pictures by a little candy. Note to self: next time don't bring m and m's they resemble tooth decay in pictures. I left his teeth unedited purely for the memory of it...

They were both laughing at this really great monkey thing their dad was doing; I might hire him for my next couple of shoots. :)

Ryan is a super mellow and easy-going kid. Did what he was asked. When he was asked, and didn't ask why. He didn't even need candy, just did what he was told. I would like to purchase that behavior please and shoot it into my son somedays. ;)

He was super chatty too; I love super chatty kids!

AND he is handsome. Nice AND handsome. That is just lucky. 

We tried to get all the littles photographed first since their fuse usually is the shortest. Next cousin: Tommy. I am warning you right now. If you don't believe in love at first sight, that is all going to change in seconds.

In love yet? Tommy was busy. I had to chase him around to get these, but he was so happy the entire time; I love anything that is happy! ;) I can tell Grandma and Grandpa are pretty taken with this little man too. ;)

Loved this moment:

This garden was cultivated for several things, mostly just family time, but also with hopes that someday it would be a place for weddings. There are several ladies in the family that would make lovely garden wedding brides!!

The youngest of this sister-hood, Missy, told me she wasn't sure if she wanted to be married in the garden. I'm sure she will change her tune. ;) 

This gal was made to be surrounded by flowers. These were some of my favorites:

Due to the fleeting light I didn't get to spend as much time with the kids as I wanted one-on-one, but in the short time I had with Christa I learned that she doesn't like bugs, living or dead,  and that she doesn't like being or really seeing any kind of dirty. 

She stepped lightly in some of the places I asked her to stand or sit, and kind of grimaced at some of the places I was standing or sitting in. 

It was sweet and endearing.

I think she is lovely.

Missy and Christa's older sister Anna, was also a pleasure photographing. She is adventurous and brave, great qualities in a big sister.

Loved this shot!! I thought the framing was ultra cool and distinctive:

I thought this was whimsical, another reflection of the secrets they tell in the garden.

A sweet big sister:

It is hard to call it, there were so many, but this is one of my favorite images from the shoot.
I would like a picture just like this of my daughter every year of her life...

Sarah was a natural with the camera, completely at ease, and moved her pose with each click I made. She too was a joy to photograph.

Sarah and her brother, Ben, a handsome pair.

I was so impressed with how well all of these kids listened. That is such a tribute to their parents! They were all such a pleasure to be with and spend a little time with. 

Ben is so darling.

Finally, the oldest of the bunch, Priscilla and Natalie.

I LOVE this image. I want one just like it of my sister and me:

That was something else I loved about all of these brother/sister, sister/sister combos: they hugged each other without being asked, held hands instinctively and genuinely cared about each other. That is really special.

Natalie is full of imagination and dreams. The garden is a perfect place for her to pretend and make-believe. 

Another nice portrait of a very pretty person:

Priscilla is the oldest, and is a really great example to the rest. She is way mature for her age and is totally grounded and smart. I would have really enjoyed having her in my English class.

She was really calm and engaging too; I liked her immediately.

Like I said there is an area in the garden called the "village". It is filled with play equipment, a merry-go-round, old vintage coin rides, and playhouses. I think there was one for each grandchild. All different, all colorful, all wonderful. It took a lot of tries but we finally got everyone squeezed into one for this shot:

Grandma and Grandpa's house comes with different rules: jumping and rough housing on the bed are perfectly acceptable and it is totally alright to eat all the cookie dough and not bake a single cookie:

Loved this moment and their little stuffed mouths:

They are lucky to have each other and to have Grandma and Grandpa's garden as a place to grow together.

Bill, Carol, and all the kiddos, may the garden always be a place to find solace from the world. May the smell of roses always remind you of childhood, a happy place where your heart could dream, and people whose love for you was deeper than an old oak tree.

Thank you for sharing some time with me in such a magical place. kj


'T' said...

beautiful children, and beautiful gathering place. LOVE LOVE the kitchen shot w/ the cook book. sa-weet.

Krystal said...

I have been a fan of yours for awhile now! Your pictures are AMAZING! And your stories...wonderful! What a precious family and I have to agree the kitchen shot is priceless!

Reb said...

I am hoping to channel your talent more and more. these are so fab Kam, koodos!

Kate said...

WOW! Amazing place. Beautiful people. Those are some gorgeous photos. What a fun fun family. And to have garden like that.... WOW.
NICE work, Kams.

*Jess* said...

Wish I could get MY grass to look like that! Great pics as usual Kam!

tracyallegre said...

Wow, what lucky granchildren to get to jump on beds and eat cookie dough. Great shots that I'm certain the granparents will treasure! The Village shot is my fav.

Meg said...

Love all of the pics and I too love the kitchen shot! I feel you on the 'jealousy' of being able to 'pop over to Grandma's.' Have a good Monday!!

Jen Fields said...

LOVE that shot of the kids all peaking out of the little house with Grandma and Grandpa's heads just barely in the foreground. Brilliant Kam! xoxo

Our life is a bowl of Barry's said...

Your photography skills make EVERY child look beautiful!! If you're ever driving through New Mexico....

Annie Jane Photography said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE these as I do with ALL your photos!