Tag Archives: family

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

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I am just returning to the weekly photo challenges and couldn’t imagine a better way to begin.  With all the beautiful snow came an extended long weekend from school and work, along with the trip to the infamous hill in our neighborhood.

Here is my family trekking through the powder…

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And my four bundles of joy… literally.

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If you would like to join in the fun, go to http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/photo-challenge-family-2/ for more information.

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My Circle of Life…

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Michelle Fitzurka's Art

Charcoal and conte on drawing paper.

Phew!  I know it has been a while, but my days have been moving at the speed of life!!!…

A typical day… Wake up, shower, hair & makeup, coffee, organize kids, kiss husband, kids out the door & into the van, one more kiss… dreamy sigh… Love that man!  Feeling blessed… Oh! The kids! … “Mooo-om! [Yes, the 2-syllable, whiney version of my name]  I forgot my lunchbox!”  back in the house… Jump in the van, drop the kids at school, drive to college, sketch, get into “the zone”, erase, smudge… repeat, repeat… back in the car, run errands, check off ‘to do’ list, chores, eat a late lunch (sometimes), answer emails, back to school to pick up kids, sketch in the parking lot while I wait for dismissal, back home, help with homework, back to school to pick up an afterschooler… and/or drive to the next extracurricular, back home, make dinner while helping with more homework, husband comes home, happy dance with a welcome home kiss, family dinner… homework… kids’ showers, research, chores, prayers, bedtime hugs, …ahhhh… quiet….  decompression commences, collapse on the sofa, laugh with husband about the craziness of the day, brush teeth, go to sleep to get ready to start all over again tomorrow…

I know that is probably a snapshot of most of our lives, especially for a mom with young children… maybe a few substitutions of work, activities and so on… It’s all good, just not a lot of extra minutes for my ‘Shoulda done’ list…  So in the meantime, while I am choosing to focus on what I am able to accomplish in this season of my life, with a prayer for God to infuse me with energy and sustenance, here is a recent drawing I completed for homework just before getting into the onslaught of landscapes… which are so much more involved than I thought they were going to be!  Especially for someone who can get absorbed in the details!… But that’s a blog for another time!

I would love to find out about your circle of life!  Please share!!! 🙂

Healing Through My Sketch Pad…

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What a whirlwind this year has been for our family!  In the past year, we have been through selling a home, building a new home for our spankin’ newly blended family, a honeymoon, a familymoon, and some unforeseen surgeries following miscarriages.  In an attempt to navigate through my grief and mend my broken heart, I began to nurture my love for the sketchpad…

In an earlier post, I described The Carousel Project that I have conceptualized for years.  This project is becoming a healing balm for me now… As I blend my love for whimsical carousel characters with my desire to bring light into my painful loss, I have sketched a Christmas reindeer character for our first son, Nicholas.

Later in the summer, we learned that my father was recently diagnosed with colon cancer.  During some of my prayer time, I was inspired to create a special sketch as a gift.  His wife is Vietnamese and his life has been heavily influenced by Asian cultures.  I chose to sketch a Vietnamese dragon grasping a pearl, as in the Eastern tradition, a symbol of protective strength and healing from Heaven.  He was also raised Catholic, and I felt strongly that the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should be represented within the pearl… a deeply soulful prayer for not only holistic, but also soul-istic, protection and healing.  Embedded within the border is a scripture I felt led to include.  It is a passage that speaks to our faith from John 11:25-26, translated from a Vietnamese bible…

Jesus said to her:  I am the resurrection and the life:

he that believes in Me, although he be dead, shall live,

and every one that lives and believes in Me shall not die for ever…

This is my first drawing that I have ever colored, so I wanted to extend the symbolism through the Heavenly blues and purples in the dragon against the background sunrise of hope… It is my prayer filled healing sketch on its way to Georgia.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge of Crystalline Deposits

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Last weekend, on our return trip from vacationing in Georgia, we had the opportunity to stop at Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I have never toured the caverns… They were absolutely spectacular!  So this week, instead of merging unlikely subjects in my photography, I could not resist sharing some of our pictures from the tour…

Stalactites & stalagmites finally merge to form a pillar as a result of crystallized deposits accumulating over hundreds of thousands of years.

Just to give you an idea of how amazing this cavern is, here is a brief synopsis on how these formations occur…  Very simply, the cave deposits are formed by small trickles of rain water that pick up diluted carbonic acid as it seeps through decaying vegetation in the soil, and into the rocky cavern below. This combined with the cave’s atmosphere, creates a formula for lime precipitation to build in rings that eventually form the long stalactites from the ceiling.  As the deposits then travel down to the floor of the cave, the same process occurs in reverse, where a stalagmite is built up  from the ground.  New deposits actively accumulate at the rate of one cubic inch in 120 years!!!  Over the course of thousands, even millions of years, these stalactites growing downward and stalagmites building upward merge to form a column or pillar, resulting in amazing natural stone formations.

These photographs do not adequately convey the majesty of this cavern… definitely a must-see for any traveler!!!

A draped translucent calcite form of “Saracen’s Tent” at Luray Caverns, Virginia.

This double column formation is one of the largest in the caverns, standing 47 feet tall in the 60 foot high chamber of “Giant’s Hall”.

“Dream Lake” is no more than 18 – 20 inches deep and covers an area more than 2000 square feet. With no movement of the water, its mirror-like quality reflects the stalactites dropping down from the ceiling of the cave.

The “Wishing Well” appears to have a depth of 3 – 4 feet, but is actually closer to 6 – 7 feet at its deepest point. Over $898,000 have been collected and donated to charities since 1954!!!

To find out more about how to be a part of the weekly photo challenge, go to:

 http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/weekly-photo-challenge-merge/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth!

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Earlier in the spring, I brought my children to a butterfly garden at Brookside Gardens.  It was surreal and so delightful to walk into a room with so many stunning colors fluttering around us!  This week’s photo challenge gives me the perfect opportunity to share pictures of the growth cycle for the Monarch butterfly!  …And their chrysalis is among the most incredible I have ever seen in nature!

  

A Purple-y Day at the Beach… the weekly photo challenge continues!

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Have you ever just needed to get your toes in the sand?…  

Thunderstorms in the forecast, sweltering heat advisories in effect… sounds like a day trip to the beach to me! 

Apparently, this was not as original a plan as I had anticipated because we landed in miles of traffic with other like-minded, coastally obsessive optimists.  

A little purple in the grape slushy!

Here, you can see that the kids were contributing to the hunt
for all things purple, as well!

Undeterred, we headed toward Ocean City, Maryland, then passed over to Assateague Island.  I had been there only once in my 20’s, but had never seen any of the wild ponies I had read and heard so much about.  So I could sense the excitement welling up inside me as we finally broke through the backups and began to see sand along the roadways.  Once we parked and unloaded, I felt weeks of tension easing out of my body with every soothing breeze and relaxing sound of waves breaking and rushing toward the shore…

I was able to capture a few purple shots for the weekly challenge with my Kodak Easy Share C813… hahaha!!!  Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  I love admiring the photographs taken by ‘real’ cameras, posted in photo blogs… I just don’t happen to own one yet, so my camera model disclosure serves as a sort of disclaimer.  Just to really give you a sense of my photographic limitations, I don’t even have a viewfinder in my camera!  On a really sunny day, when it is impossible to see anything projected on the 2-inch screen, capturing an image becomes more intuitive… much like using the Force.  Yes, it’s true… I am a photographic Jedi… now you know! 🙂  So these pictures should really knock your socks off!  

Fast forward a few hours… and I was feeling a bit saddened by the lack of ponies on the beach.  There was plenty of… er, let’s say… evidence that they had been there earlier in the day, but as far as I could strain my eyes, there wasn’t a hoof in sight.  So gathering all of our gear, and with swimsuits full of sand, we scrambled back to the van.  

My husband suggested that we drive further down the island toward the National Park with the hope that a few ponies might be snacking along the side of the road.  We drove, scouring waterways and groves of trees… Then suddenly, just as we rounded a bend, there they were!!!  I was ELATED!!!  You would think I had never seen a horse before in my life.  Well, in a sense this was a new experience — I had never seen a wild pony before!!  They were much larger than I had imagined.  I thought they would be more like miniature ponies – I have absolutely no idea why – and despite my husband’s elaboration of what I envisioned an Assateague pony to be… NO, I did not believe that they would be sparkly and gallop between rainbows in the sand!  Although, that would have made for some great pictures!  

…BACK to reality, though…  I don’t know what it is about coming into contact with an animal in its natural habitat, that is so exciting.  In our yard, we see deer, rabbits, a red fox here and again.  But it doesn’t matter how many times we see them, we always run to the window for another look.  That sense of admiration may change when I finally get my garden in the ground sometime next spring, but for the time being, we feel privileged to get a glimpse into their mysterious world.  That was how I felt with these amazing ponies…

The beautiful ponies of Assateague Island (Maryland).

My entire weekend felt complete!  …that is to say, until our bellies started rumbling… So we headed off to a local favorite called Waterman’s Seafood Company.  Being Marylanders, you just don’t go to the beach without gettin’ some crab!  I had two of my favorites… Cream of Crab soup and a Crab Cake!  They were DEE-lish!!!  

A cup of Cream of Crab soup at Waterman’s Seafood Company… YUM!

…and a FANTASTIC crab cake!

…then a lovely end to a perfect day!

Even a hint of purple in this glorious sunset on our ride home…

Festival Mayhem at ARTSCAPE

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     Take 173 exhibitors setting up for 6 days…

                   12 city blocks in Baltimore, Maryland…

                              free admission to 350,000 attendees for 3 days…

                                         and you have yourself a pARTy!!!

“Face Forward”
A 16-foot tall kinetic sculpture
created by artist, Christian Ristow.
[Click on this photo to learn more
about this amazing robotic artwork!]

Now, also keep in mind that 2 out of those 3 days poured buckets from the heavens, so the bulk of the attendance was probably counted on the day we decided to take our first look at this annual Artscape festival… That was yesterday, and I am still alive to tell you about it!  Where do I even begin???…

I have heard about this event over the years, but I am not much of a city gal, especially when I have to do the driving and the agonizing parking, so I just never got up the zeal to brave the crowds and check it out on my own. Enter in my new artsy-pal from my class last semester, Josie, who emailed me that she was thinking about going.  (By the way, you can link over to her fun blog site by clicking on her name.)  I thought it over… art, music, sparkly things, food, ART… I was in!!!  Hopped in the car, traffic wasn’t bad, free parking was everywhere… I was looking for the giant chicken foot to descend from the sky to wake me back into reality… But it was all good and soon after meeting up on the grounds, we were scoping out the tents.

This year the festival was situated on Mount Royal Ave., with free performances at The Lyric and by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.  Three sound stages scattered throughout the city featured musicians all weekend long like Brian McKnight, Clutch, Emma White, Easy Star All-Stars… just to name a few.

The Squonk Opera Roadshow entertaining the crowd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was the Squonk Opera Roadshow who brought their own custom built stage masterpiece to the streets!  I have to say, they were my favorite performers of the day.

Arts and craft exhibitors ranged from the stunningly beautiful to the shockingly bizarre.  On a trip I once took to San Francisco back in the 90’s, I thought I had seen it all… anyone who’s been there has to admit, there is some distinct zaniness going on in that town.  All I can say is that there must be some of the same juice floating in the water out this way, because we just had no idea what to expect at every turn!  I think we were pretty worn out after the 4th hour or so, but pressed on in sheer curiosity over what could possibly be around the next bend!  You gotta love the art-folk!  If you have never been to an art festival before, you may be in for some culture shock at Artscape, but you’ll be hooked on the mayhem and maybe even a little inspired!