A Visit to the Atlanta Library


Our family loves books, so naturally the library is a favorite place of ours.

We read books every day in school.  We read for learning.

We read for the joy of story

We read because we love reading.

The Atlanta library system (AFPLS) has been so good to us. The Atlanta library system

includes more than thirty libraries.  The five branches we have visited so far

are fairly small, but we can always find a great place to hang out

and lots of books to take home with us.

The best part is that we can order books from any of those 30+ branches

and have the books delivered to our closest library location which is only a little over a mile from our home.

Because it is so easy to order books online our time at the library

is often only long enough to check out the tall stack of books the librarians have waiting for us.

A few weeks ago we had a day with extra time for reading, so we enjoyed an unhurried visit

to the East Atlanta Library branch.  It’s one of my favorites so far.   In the kids’ section there are three

amazing windows with deep window seats perfect to crawl onto and read.

The boys never have a problem finding lots of books to read.

They sit and read while I filter through their stacks of books to decide

which we should take home with us.  They can choose a pile in no time at all, and I always

do my own searching as well. I try to choose books that I know we will enjoy

reading and re-reading to take home with us.

This time it was fun to take time to sit and read with the boys.  Little boys are so active,

but thankfully they are more than happy to cuddle up for a long while

if there are stories to read.

We have read to the boys since they were several months old.

We still read a book before nap time and bedtime almost every day

and we read books in between when we can.

We have always dreamed of having a family of readers.

Some people have asked:

Q: Do you allow your children to pull books from the shelves at libraries? 

A: Libraries are so neat and organized that it can feel as though your children are making a mess.  Libraries were created to be places for people to read and enjoy books. In my experience librarians have been very welcoming and friendly to children at the library.  I allow them to choose big piles of books to look through.  We try to be respectful as we would anywhere, so I wouldn’t allow a toddler to pull books by the handful. The boys often pull a book, read through it, then finding another.  If I know exactly where a book belongs I may put it back, but librarians prefer guests to leave books out on tables to be shelved later than for the books to be put in a spot where they do not belong.    

Q: I get overwhelmed at the library because there are so many books.  How can I find good books? 

A: There have been days I found myself staring at shelf after shelf loaded with books wondering where to start.  There are soooo many good books to read, but there are also mediocre books or books on subjects that don’t interest us much. I’ve found a little system that has worked for me the past few years.  I simply start with one shelf and scan through the books choosing the titles I think look best.  I never make it even half way through one side of an aisle.  The next time we visit the library I start scanning books where I stopped the last time. It’s a pretty simple procedure, really; and it helps give direction.


I’m often drawn to older books and classic stories. Those are books I pull as well as any books with titles

that draw my attention and books written by an author whose name I recognize.

Books that have  been awarded the Newbery Medal (distinguished contributions to American children’s literature)

or the Caldecott Medal (distinguished American picture books for children)

often find their way to our library bag as well.


The best part about visiting the library is leaving with a bag

stuffed with lots of books to read at home.

Well, most times the boys can’t wait until we get home to start reading.






Joye & Phil [An Engagement Session]

Sometimes two people fall in love slowly.

After years of togetherness love opens eyes and the marriage of two hearts begins.

Other times love sweeps in with a rush and grips hearts

with such sincerity and strength.


This is the story of two people who were living life fully,

who were engaged serving God with their time and gifts,

who, after meeting each other once–only once,

found their lives changed forever.

This is a woman who brings joy and energy to everyone around her.

This is a man who is strong and kind and who lives sacrificially.

Together they will be world changers.

They make each other happy.

Like really, really happy.



[Ummm, stunning much?!]

This is a beautiful romance.



Baby Sabrina I Atlanta Baby Photography

Sabrina and her family came to visit us, and her mommy asked if we could take some pictures of her. We took the train into Midtown one evening and walked to Piedmont Park. Sabrina took a snooze as we traveled then woke up so happy and full of smiles.  The world around her was busy, but she had eyes only for her mommy and daddy who clearly adore their sweet baby.  What can we say?  Who wouldn’t fall for this lump of sugar?


A Closer Look: What Makes this Picture Work?

One simple way I’ve enjoyed learning from other photographers is by studying the settings they used to make pictures.  I used to enjoy reading the jargon in photography magazines even before I shot in manual or had any clue what it meant. :)  Now I do understand, and I’ve learned a lot simply from hearing how other photographers decide how to set their cameras and the thought process behind their photos. I haven’t ever posted my settings here on the blog before, but only because it seems too time involving to look back for each shot.  I mean, I’m lucky if I get a post up, right?

I love helping other photographers, though; so I’d like to start adding some helpful posts from time to time. For today I chose one photo from the last blog post on Atlanta’s winter storm to  tell you what settings I used and what I like about it.

This is my favorite snow 2014 picture.  When I clicked the shutter I had that feeling you get when you know you nailed the shot.  Only, I was also chanting, “Please, tell me his eyes are sharp. Please, tell me his eyes are sharp…..” :)  It’s such a bummer when you think you got the perfect shot, but you accidentally focused on the subject’s eyebrows instead of his eyes!! It can happen easily when the subject is a moving child (when aren’t they moving?) and you’re shooting with a narrow depth of field.

I often shoot at f/2.8, but because the boys were crazy with excitement about the snow–running and jumping even more than usual–I set my aperture at f/4.0.  I knew it would give me a better chance at getting a face in focus.

The camera settings for the photo were: ISO 320,  f/4.0,  and the shutter speed at 400

hooded fur coat for babies

I already explained how I chose the aperture.  I also kept the shutter speed plenty fast enough to freeze the action.  200 would have been fine, really.  This day I hadn’t actually spent a lot of time thinking through settings–just came up with a quick formula that worked for the situation.

The picture was a tiny bit under-exposed, but I brought the light back in Lightroom. I think I also added a little contrast and some sharpening, but otherwise this photo received very little post processing. His cheeks and nose are a little red from the cold.  I prefer a natural look, so I choose to keep the redness rather than photoshopping them.

Now let’s talk about what works in this photo:


I used the rule of thirds (loosely), so his eyes are at or close to an intersecting line.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read how the rule of thirds adds blance to your photos and allows the eye to naturally rest on the point of interest. 


Because I used the 70-200 lens at 200 mm, the background is nicely blurred.  That alone brings the focus directly to the baby’s face.  Secondly, the whiteness of the snow contrasts with his darker jacket while the darker tree background contrasts with his face.  Because they are out of focus they do this contrasting subtly–allowing us the benefit of the contrast without being distracting in the least.

What else do we like about this picture?

(Besides for the baby.  He is just so darling.) :)

I haven’t often had the chance to photograph the boys in snow while the snow is falling.  I think it adds a nice bit of movement to the photo.  Also, this snow was powdery, so it provided a perfect dusting on his coat to really give it the perfect wintry feel.  If I would have staged this photo I would have probably tried to sprinkle a handful of snow over his coat, but this time it all happened naturally.  The classic style of the coat gives this picture a timeless look. The fur frames the baby’s face also drawing attention to the focal point.

His expression–I would have been happy with an excited expression or smile, but his face without a smile is still so sweet. I would always, always, always rather have a natural expression than a cheesy smile. Notice that, though he isn’t smiling, his expression is still compelling.

I’d love to hear if this information is helpful to you.  Let me know in the comments or leave a question for me to address in a future blog post.

I hope you have a GREAT weekend!


Atlanta’s Snow in Winter 2014

We were overjoyed to see


in Atlanta this year!!

The predictions for snow started earlier this week.

Some of us smiled knowingly at how the mere mention of flurries

would send people to the store to stock up on bread and milk

while it was just as likely we wouldn’t see a bit of snow.

Others of us hoped with all our hearts that we would have enough to turn our world to white.

Tuesday morning we saw flurries…

and more flurries…

and soon we were shouting,

“It’s snowing!  It’s really snowing!!!”

We stood at the windows watching the beautiful tiny bits of snow

float to earth and transform our yards and streets

into a winter wonderland.



It was too good to be true.

Just when we had give up on a snowstorm we found

ourselves enjoying winter’s best gift.

We licked and tasted,

Made snow angels, and collected snow in buckets.

Piled it, threw it, and tried to shape it into snowmen.

Winter Wonderland


In the evening

Steve took us for a drive

to see the city covered in snow.

 Even though the interstates

were backed up for miles, many of the city streets were easy to navigate.

The Varsity is always a busy place, but for one night

it was quiet with only lights and snowflakes

to keep it company.

North Avenue and Peachtree were covered in a coat of white.


Yesterday the boys went sledding on cookie sheets (Yes, only in the South!) and we loved

that Steve had a vacation day in the middle of the week!

The snow was amazing, and feels as though we’ve really had winter now.

True to a southern winter the temperatures are climbing today,

and the snow is disappearing.  I love our winters.  The fact that temperatures are predicted

to reach 50′s and 60′s this weekend sounds perfect to me.

F o l l o w   o n   F a c e b o o k
R e c e n t   P o s t s