I am grateful. In fact, I am grateful for so many things this year I don't even know where to begin. So I started out by reading my Thanksgiving post from last year and realized that, despite all the changes this year has brought, the things for which I am grateful are pretty much the same.
I am grateful for my family. The girls continue to grow and change at lightning speed, and I am continually in awe of them. Watching my husband love them and share in their care brings even more joy. (And his patience with my endless projects, many of which require his help in some form, is unparalleled.) Each time I see my nieces and nephews, they blow me away with their new skills and the energy they have to take the world by storm. I see in each of them the brightest of futures. Unlike the last several years, this year didn't bring any new babies into the family. But I am grateful to know that in just a few months, our family will grow with the addition of my new brother-in-law! (Marriage is apparently the only way boys join my side of the family.)
Our year was not without losses. My grandpa passed away in May, which still takes the wind out of me when I realize all over again that he is gone. I will forever be grateful for his influence on my life. Over the last few years, we have watched my parents and their siblings give so much of themselves to care for their aging parents. I am grateful for the example they have set for us that, truly, family is everything.
We also lost our beloved companion, Austin, early this year. He stood by us, tail wagging, through more than a decade of life. Amazingly, Cricket still talks about him all the time—how he was a good boy, how we miss him. I hear her telling Nora about him. I am grateful that even though she was just over 2 years old when he died, she got a chance to love him and experience his love.
I am grateful for my friends. As usual, many of them have had a blockbuster year filled with weddings, babies, exciting new jobs and adventures. For some, this year has been, to put it lightly, a challenge. I am grateful that they find the strength to keep going—to repair, to heal, to move forward. And I am particularly grateful that one of my wonderful friends finished more than a year of chemo last week.
I am grateful to the online community I joined almost two years ago with this blog and shop. You validate the need I have always had to create, and you inspire me with new ideas every single day.
Also, I am grateful that so much of the time, my girls are doing something like this:
Okay this is what they actually look like most of the time, but I am grateful that they will be tough cookies if they manage to survive each other:
I'm not sure how it happened, but my tiny newborn is 3 today! I'll be sharing a party post soon. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite 3-year-old portraits.
I knew as soon as I took the photo above that I had captured her. She loves to climb on (and jump off) everything. She loves to throw everything. She is enthusiastic about everything. How blessed I am to be her mama.
Turns out it's a lot tougher and requires more practice to hold up three fingers than just two.
Happy birthday, Cricket!
Here are a few of Cricket's previous portraits: birth announcement, 1 year, 20 months, 21 months, 23 months, 2 years and 2.5 years.
Here are Nora's portraits: arrival, birth announcement, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, 10 months, 11 months, 1 year and 15 months.
This fall has been packed full of exciting projects. In addition to my usual writing and photography and participating in NaNoWriMo (I'm closing in on 50,000 words!), I've been doing some design work. I am so honored that my sister asked me to design her wedding invitations. They are just about complete, and I'm dying to share them with you. But I'm going to wait until after the wedding. (Wouldn't want to accidentally invite any jilted lovers to the wedding now, would we? Just kidding. Sort of.) So today I'm sharing with you my new business cards, starring Nora's trademarked floppy-armed, hugely smiley run.
The silver tray pictured above was given to me by my grandma. She has traditionally selected a piece of silver from her collection as a wedding gift for each of her grandchildren. I've used this calling card tray to hold different things over the years, but it's time to restore it to its original purpose.
I'm making the switch from DVDs to flash drives for larger client orders, which means I get to play around with new packaging. What do you think?
There's nothing like a fall weekend in the mountains. Last October, we rented a house in Montreat, NC, with two of my sisters and their families. This year, we stayed at the new, woodsy, mountainside home of my Asheville sister. One highlight of the weekend—besides my brother-in-law's amazing Indian cooking—was apple picking. We chose Stepp's Hillside Orchard in Hendersonville, NC, because it sounded low-key and offered a mountain view. And it delivered. (As did the apple cider donuts we picked up at a farm stand down the road.)
The clouds hung low and rain pounded the windshield as we drove to the orchard. But while we unloaded the car, the rain stopped, the clouds began to disperse and the mountains emerged. In an instant, it became a perfect fall day—damp and cool and filled with vibrant colors.
The girls were in heaven racing through the rows of trees to find different types of apples. They'd each pick an apple, take one bite and throw it in the basket. You've got to test the goods before buying, right?
Did I mention the orchard grows grapes, too? They were quite popular with the littles.
I'm still a believer in handwritten notes. Sure, email is more efficient. But most of our communications arrive electronically these days, so opening the mailbox to find a note from friends or family, instead of just stack of bills, makes my day.
Do you have notes to write and people to thank this fall? I challenge you to write them by hand. You'll make someone smile.
Here are a few of my favorite fall photos, which are now available as 5x7 stationery notecards (blank inside). A set of notecards would make a great gift for the host of your Thanksgiving celebration, too.
(These images are also available here as prints, framed art, stretched canvases, pillows, tote bags or iPhone/iPod/iPad/laptop cases or skins.)
Above: Yellow leaf against blue sky
Below: Fall berries in orange
Below: Let's pick apples
I'm Julia Soplop. I've spent my life documenting the world around me in writing and photography. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.