Horse Crazy 2.0

When I was about 7-years-old, I took my first horseback riding lesson. I had been a typical horse-crazy girl, but after that first lesson, my love for those giant animals skyrocketed. I would spend every waking moment at the barn, grooming lesson horses, mucking out stalls, riding out to the pasture to gather up the horses and bring them back to the stable…I loved it. I thought I’d end up riding horses for the rest of my life, maybe owning my own stable some day or teaching lessons. Even though that didn’t exactly happen as I’d planned, it’s been pretty wonderful to watch my kids learn how to ride the past few months. For her birthday this summer, Lucy asked for riding lessons, and she got her wish! She spent the summer riding at Peeper Ranch, the same place I rode when I got back into the saddle a few years back. Even Tate got to take a mini-lesson, and while we thought he’d be afraid, he had a ball! It’s a pretty wonderful thing, watching your kids love something you loved so much at their age. We’re taking a break from riding for the fall, but Lucy is already begging to go to horse camps and workshops at the ranch over the holidays and spring break. I might need to make her muck out a stall or two to earn her keep, but I have a feeling I might end up a ranch mom, with a minivan full of dirty boots and smelling of leather saddles. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

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A Grateful Labor Day

We spent our Labor Day weekend at my parents’ lake cabin in Council Grove, Kansas, soaking in the sun and enjoying some much-needed downtime with my family. Year after year I post about spending time at the lake and year after year I spew out all the cliches about watching my kids grow up in a place I loved as a child, but I can’t seem to help myself. They keep getting bigger and the lake pretty much stays the same. They stare out at the stars as the moon rises over the water and I remember nights on the deck watching the constellations overhead. They cry about the seaweed touching their feet and I remember when I would sit on the dock refusing to get in because of the creepy feeling that wet grass gave me. There are goggles lost to the depths of the water, which probably sit next to countless toys, rings and other trinkets I misplaced 20 years ago, never to be seen again.

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Watching my kids (and my niece and nephews) in this place is like watching an old video tape of my own youth, except, of course, they are more beautiful and lovely than I remember being at their ages. Instead of rocking a discman, my niece lays on the boat deck with her ear buds and iPhone. My sister takes photos with her iPhone and texts them to me. The kids ask to make silly videos of themselves “chicken fighting” in the water. It all feels very new, but also very worn, which is probably why I love it so much. It’s like all of my favorite things are colliding and I get to watch and laugh along.

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I can feel the season changing and as the weather changes, so does everything. I guess that is the one continuous thing in my life thus far…change is constant. My little people are growing and changing every day. Lately, Lucy has refused to let me take her photo. When I try, she makes an angry face or sticks out her tongue. Sometimes she tries (very successfully) to look extremely insane. “Moooommmmm, stop!” she yells when I pull out my phone or my camera. So I have to rely on others, like my sister, for whom Lulu will smile genuinely, to capture her as she really is. Lucy Peters, age 8, full of life and laughter, unless her mom has a camera out, in which case she will quickly turn in to a surly teenager. Sigh. Thank goodness for Tater, who at age 3 still thinks I am all things amazing and wonderful, and will beg me to take his picture so he can look at it later. “Mama, take my picture!” he squeals, calming my mama temper tantrum over his sister’s refusal. She was like that once too, and I know one day he will cringe at my camera. I suppose all I can do is enjoy it while it lasts, or come up with good knock knock jokes to catch them off guard when they are refusing to smile.

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I am so grateful for this full, fun life I’m leading today. I know that happiness comes from within, but the people in my life these days have made the joy more robust than I ever could have imagined. The last year has been really, really hard for me personally, but I really do believe, as cliched as it sounds, that I was meant to go through those difficult times. Today I am so thankful for the simple joys of my life, and I know that the person I was before wouldn’t have appreciated all these gifts the way I do now. I would have expected them and been upset if they weren’t as perfect as I wanted. I feel like a little kid again, reborn and seeing the world with brand new eyes. I feel…full of wonder. It feels trite and silly to say I’m grateful for the hardship my family has gone through, but I know without it, there wouldn’t be the serenity there is today.

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So, at least for today, I am extremely grateful…

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2014 Fall Mini Shoots!

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UPDATE: I can’t thank you all enough for your interest in the Mini Shoots! The October 4th date is currently full, but I am still taking a few more sessions for September 27th. Hooray for photos!

I’m so excited to be able to offer Mini Shoot Photo Sessions again this year! Mini Shoots are a wonderful and economical way for families to capture memories and get some fantastic images to share over the holiday season. I only offer minis once a year, and it’s a pretty good deal, with families saving up to $250 off the cost of a full photo shoot.

Here’s the nitty gritty:

- I’m offering two dates this fall for Mini Shoots, September 27th and October 4th
- The shoots will take place in mid-afternoon and early evening, specific times will be made available after you schedule the date for your shoot (between 4 and 7 p.m.)
- I am currently scouting new locations for the Mini Shoots, so if you’ve participated in past Mini Shoots, these images will have new scenery to work with
- Mini Shoot sessions last 15 to 20 minutes, and prices range based on number of people being photographed
- You will receive 10 to 15 images digitally (Mini Shoots do not include photo printing) to use at your leisure

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If you’re interested in participating, please click HERE to sign up! Once I have the sessions full, I will contact you with available time slots. If you have a specific time in mind, please note that in the “Special Requests” section of the form and I will do my best to accommodate you.

Feel free to email me at megan@crazybananas.com with any questions!

A Little Summer Break

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We just returned home from a little holiday with Trent’s family in Idaho. I haven’t spent much time in that part of the country, but the few times I have, I’ve found it to be a magical place. Maybe it’s because I live in a humid, flat, suburban sprawl, but looking around at mountains, rivers and forests is so peaceful. We drove through Yellowstone and spent some time in Big Sky, Montana as well. On our way to the airport I realized for the first time in ages, I forgot my big DSLR camera at home! At first I was disappointed, but then I realized how nice it would be to travel lightly for once. Are my images as crisp or technically good as I’d like? Nope. But they are wonderful just the same. And I was able to experience all these moments as they happened, instead of through a viewfinder. Good stuff.

Happy 4th of July from Big Sky, Montana! #4thofjuly #family #fun #montana #bigsky #love #mountains #beauty

Lucy's first hot springs...she approves! #summer #vacation #idaho #heisehotsprings #fun #happy #hotsprings

His first time climbing! So proud of this little man! #rockclimbing #bigsky #montana

Bear World comes complete with a kiddie carnival. Score number 2! #whee #bearworld #idaho #carnival

This hedgehog is giving me the stink eye... #hedgehog #zoo #idaho #idahofalls

Bear World!!!! #score #christmascard2014 #growl #bearfamily #idaho

Bye bye, #idaho! #cousins #love #buddies #tateandbrooklyn #cute #family

This will be my last post for a while, as I’m taking my annual Digital Sabbatical for the rest of the summer. Summer is so fun for our little family, and I want to make sure I spend as much time as possible really living it. Sort of like leaving the DSLR camera at home, except this time it’s on purpose! This blog turned 10 years old this year, which is both parts amazing and unbelievable! But in order to keep it going, I need some time to refuel and make sure I’m taking in all that real life has to offer. There is a blogger I love and admire who hasn’t posted in months, and when a reader asked her about it, she said while she misses her blog, she finds she has a much more fulfilling real life when she’s not worrying about blogging all the time. I realize this blog is a part of me, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop posting completely, but a little summer break is definitely needed! Happy summer-ing, everyone!

(P.S. I’ll still be updating the Crazybananas Facebook and Twitter here and there, so follow on those if you’d like to keep up with our summer happenings. And of course, I’m sure I’ll still be Instagramming up a storm, so follow me over there for some images of our fun.)

Schoolhouse Dance Camp!

When we headed off to Western Kansas a few weeks back, we were not only excited to spend time with family, but Lucy got to attend dance camp! Her sweet Aunt Ashley has her own dance school, and decided to offer a week-long camp this summer for the first time. Lulu was so excited! She had fun, made lots of new friends, and got to perform the showcase at the end in a shiny, gold leotard. Pretty much the best!

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For the finale, Ashley invited all the little brothers and sisters up on stage to dance along, and you know Tate and his cousin Brooklyn were ready!

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Thanks for such a fun week, Aunt Ashley! You can follow Schoolhouse Dance on Facebook right here.

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