Thursday, August 26, 2010

{a change is gonna come...}

"The key to to let go of fear..." ~ Rosanne Cash

Ah change, you guide me and repel me all at the same time...I lust after you and loathe you simultaneously. Why must you play with my emotions like that?!?!

Right now, for where I am and where I want to be...change is a good thing...maybe even the best of things..

So I'm pleased to announce that Fifteen:Fifty-One Photography has undergone some changes of its own; a new look, a new feel and best of all...a brand new blog!

Come over and visit me at

Pull up a chair and stay awhile...the conversation is even better when you're a part of it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

{where were we: part 1...}

"So...where were we?!?!"

This is a question that I find myself using quite often now that I have a baby! It seems that regardless of what conversation I am ends up getting cut off mid-sentence thanks to some child related need! A couple of minutes later, yet another crisis is averted and those four words pour out of my mouth in a desperate attempt to pick up where I left off!

It's been working for me so far! Granted, it's not the eloquent conversation starters that I'm use to dishing out, but what can I say, I'm new at this! It's got a nice ring to it rolls off the tongue so easily! So it's become sort of like my personal mission statement as I aggressively pursue my desire to finish what I've started...and my blog is no exception! Who knows, maybe it will make the perfect title for my autobiography one day!

So...let's begin, shall we?!?!

* My computer died! And I don't just mean that it had slight heart palpitations and then declared it a "close call". I mean, right there in the middle of Starbucks, it full on flat-lined! It was a rather stressful day in the Smyth house as we frantically tried to retrieve the work that I had done on it that morning, only to find that things would go from bad to worse very quickly when we made a very fatal error that caused my external hard drive to kick the bucket at the very same time. Awesome! So there we were, at 2:30am with my laptop in the freezer {because someone in cyberspace told us to and by this time we had nothing to lose!} while my husband fixed my backup. Long story short; the external hard drive pulled through...the freezer actually worked {seriously!}...Apple so graciously replaced my laptop hard drive for free...and my boys bought me a 22" imac for my birthday! So forty-eight hours of total panic turned out pretty well for us in the end!

* Hudson got sick for the first time a few weeks ago. The poor little guy got an ear infection and my normally brilliant little sleeper spent the night waking up every fifteen minutes screaming. It was wretched. What was even more wretched though is the discovery that a new mother with a sick baby for the first time could, quite literally, drive herself completely insane trying to self-diagnose on Google! During the dark, sleepless hours of the night, I had successfully managed to convince myself that my baby was dying and let me tell wasn't pretty! Sure enough though, we saw the doctor early the next morning who not only reassured me that Hudson had nothing more than an inner ear infection...but also suggested that Google and I take a little break from each other for a while!!

* It's going to be August in three days! Crazy! This is somewhat terrifying as I realize how quickly the summer is passing us by! But August is also going to be an amazing and very exciting month for me! I often think that as photographers, the learning curve evolves; you tend to go through waves of inspiration as the seasons come and go, and you also go through times of repetition, in which case it can be easy to lose some of your motivation. As a business owner, I tend to experience much of the same cycle as I get better at my work flow or improve my marketing skills. Everything just seems to have its time and place. I've decided though that this summer, I would like to experience something a bit different on the learning curve; something other than new venues or new equipment...something a little more personal. For many, many months now I've been following the blog of Ewan and Brianna Phelan; an amazing couple who give you a completely beautiful glimpse into their world as wedding photographers. In a couple of weeks, I'm going to be heading to London, Ontario so that they can take me under their wing and show me what it's like to be The Last Forty Percent. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to spend time with these two and to learn from their brilliant minds as both photographers and very successful business owners. And to top it all off...just as I was finalizing some of the details of my time with them...I got booked to shoot in wedding in {wait for it...} London! I suppose this would be a marvelous time to thank fate for its impeccable timing!!!!

* Speaking of The Last Forty high school boyfriend is getting married this weekend and guess who's doing their wedding pictures?!?! You guessed it {or at least I hope you did...because that was kind of a dead giveaway!}! Julio was my first serious first first lust...and my first of many broken hearts! We were together in the time of CrazySexyCool and Motown Philly. He took me to my senior prom and I'm not going to lie...we got in lots of trouble from our parents over the course of our relationship for various rule breaking in the name wanting to see each other!!! But he was the best first boyfriend a girl could ever ask for and I'm beyond excited for him and his stunning fiance {whom I've never met but I can only assume that she is fantastic given his absolutely stellar taste in women!!!!}. Julio and Candace...I wish you an amazing wedding and an even more amazing life together! You make a truly gorgeous couple {we even have the pictures to prove it!}!

And on that note, I hear a little man downstairs in need of a bath and a bedtime story!!! Bath time has officially become my favourite time of day...mostly because it looks a little something like this...

Sunday, July 4, 2010


"Then followed that beautiful season...Summer...
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created all the freshness of childhood."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

More of Sarah & Greg's engagement session coming soon!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

{blog in waiting...}

Dear sweet I miss thee...oh let me count the ways! I miss the way in which you lure me to stay up way past my bedtime and the witty banter that you never fail to provide. But what can I son is just irresistibly adorable and while it's true that you don't randomly pee on me the way he does, you also don't provide that same charming little smile that always manages to melt my heart. But I do miss you all the same...

So this is what it's come to ladies and gentlemen; me, talking to my blog as though it's an estranged lover that I've abandoned so that I can run away with my family to the foothills of some far off mountains!!!! And I can't help but wonder if we'll ever be the same?!?!

The truth is, we've been busy here behind the camera...very busy. And blogging, while I've longed for the return of our special love affair, has had to take a back seat for a little while to the real work. We are full swing ahead in what is proving to be an amazing season and once the dust settles a little bit, I look forward to sharing it all with you our little piece of cyberspace!

In the meantime though, we are plucking away, a day at a time, slowly but surely, and enjoying some well deserved time with each of our clients. Not only are we booking for the 2011 season already, but we'll also be heading on our second client inspired road trip in August for another out of town wedding. I can hardly wait!

So, as we bid farewell to the month of June very shortly, know that there is lots to look forward to in the coming weeks! I'll be blogging about Brooke and Alan's engagement shoot, Kari and Lee's maternity shoot (who happen to be in the hospital as I type this!), Lesley and Bill's engagement shoot, Jocelyn and Dan's engagement shoot, and of course, our 2010 brides and grooms!

But for now, as you patiently wait with me a little bit's my favourite reason for my blog absence {and really, can you blame me?!?!}...

Friday, June 18, 2010

{the new generation...}

Hudson: "I'm a PC {on mommy's mac!} and Windows 7 was my idea!!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

{sylvie & denis: wedding...again!}

Being a wedding photographer, I obviously love weddings. I love the joy, the happiness, the excitement and most of all, I love the romance. Simply put...I love love!

My husband and I will be celebrating our five year anniversary this coming August and I just love looking back on our wedding day; the beautiful weather, the time spent with our closest family and friends, everyone looking totally amazing and of course, my husband. My man, my best friend, my most handsome of beloved.

But, when you put all of the beauty and romance aside, I think that it's worth mentioning that a wedding is not the same as a marriage.

I believe very strongly in marriage. I believe in standing before God and committing your life to another human being. I believe in the act of consciously choosing to witness another person's life. I believe that in a world which is lacking so much conviction, marriage opens us up and challenges us to give the most vulnerable and sacred part of ourselves to another.

Having said that...marriage is not always easy. It isn't always easy to compromise. It isn't always easy to share your goals, your dreams, your finances, your remote control. It isn't always easy to make the effort to grow through life along side someone else instead of on your own. It isn't always easy to show true humility for someone you love.

But it is always worth it. It's worth the effort...the compromise...the passionate love affair that comes with knowing someone so intimately. It's worth every moment.

When my God mother called me and asked if I would be willing to photograph the ceremony celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary, I was overcome with honour. I was the flower girl when she first got married and now, twenty-five years later, I'm pleased to say that not only has my style in hair cuts improved immensely but their marriage is also going stronger than ever!!! The silver anniversary is a rare occurrence in this day and age that tends to take matrimony fairly lightly. To witness two people recommit their lives to one another is beyond magical, beyond inspiring, beyond beautiful.

With their three amazing children by their side and all those that they love looking on, Sylvie and Denis renewed their vows in the same church that they originally did twenty-five years earlier. As I watched and captured with completed admiration, I also concluded that there was simply no better way of starting of my new season, both as a photographer and as a mother...than this very place...with these very people...

Sylvie and Denis...congratulations on 25 years of making magic!

I love you! xoxo

Sunday, June 6, 2010

{rockabye baby...}

For my Hudson...
The littlest rocker in my life...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

{when words fail...}

Her name was Nancy and she came to visit me at our house just after Hudson was born. She had been a nurse for nearly her entire life and was exactly the face that I needed to see after the week that I had just experienced. She was gentle. Non-judgmental. Calm. She was all of the things that I wasn't at the time and she was there to tell me that everything would be alright.

I answered the door that morning in tears. It was my first day alone at the house with Hudson and the world looked very different to me at the time. She very graciously assured me that I was certainly not the first new mother to find herself in such a state. We sat down in our family room, Hudson asleep on the couch, and began to discuss what had triggered this onset of tears. She, of course, already knew because she had seen and heard it countless times before...but it was a first for me.

We sat and talked for nearly two hours. Mostly about the baby and motherhood but also just about life because our new baby had just become our life. As she quietly sat across from me, she began to ask about our future...the life that would inevitably build once this day of endless tears finally passed. That's when she asked me if I was planning on going back to work.

Work! What a strange concept that had become over time now that I was holding a tiny little person whose very survival was dependent on me. Wasn't I already in the midst of the most difficult work that I'd ever do? But I had also left another kind of "work"...the work that I had known for over a decade that didn't involve spit up and changing diapers. Then there was also my camera; the one thing that stood alone in this discussion...

I was planning on returning to my photography less than three short months after having Hudson. Certainly not with the same time consuming schedule that I would otherwise commit to but I was going back nonetheless. And I was excited for it. I had weddings and engagements and maternity shoots all set up; I was meeting with clients about bookings for 2011; I had classes and exhibits registered for, and all the while, it didn't feel like work.

As I began to hear the words come out of my mouth, I found myself defending my choice as though I was defending my honour because somehow, in the midst of our conversation, I had caught myself questioning whether or not this made me a bad mother; whether or not my desire for something beyond motherhood meant that I wasn't cut out to do it in the first place? But my nurse just sat there with the most compassionate of expressions on her face as she listened to me battle it out with the demons in my head.

Because here's the thing...

There are no words for how much I love my son and my husband. There are no words for how much I love being a wife and a mother. There are no words for how grateful I feel to have these men in my life. There are simply no words. And so I give. I give every single fiber of my being into loving this child and the amazing man that sleeps next to me every night. And there are no words for how much I love doing so. But being the woman that I am, I can lose myself in all of the giving. I'm notorious for it.

And so I need my camera to help me be me. I need it to help remind me of the person that I was before I became a wife and a mother. And though I wasn't a photographer before either of these things, I was a person who used her artistic side as her outlet; her passion as her therapy. I need to create in order to find my sense of balance; I need the time alone, behind my camera, to breathe and re-boot. I need to visit those places in myself that are not linked to my son or my husband because in a strange sort of way, I think that doing so helps me to be a better wife and a better mother.

Or at least I hope it does because this past weekend I went back to work; back to my photography; back to my business; back to creating and most importantly, back to building a better mother for this little guy...

I think that my nurse would approve!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

{by any other name...} sister-in-law introduced me to someone the other day as a photographer. This was weird. I actually kind of cut her off mid-sentence and tried to throw a word or two in there to correct her. Instead, the mumbling idiot that I can be only managed to muster up something resembling "uhhh...well, not really...I mean, it's know..." And on the misery went!

This prompted an interesting question afterwards though; why did I feel so uncomfortable actually being considered a photographer?

When I started running about eight years ago, I experienced the same challenge. I would run five or six times a week, trained for various races, participated in running groups and even completed a full marathon...but I never felt completely comfortable calling myself a runner. This would bother my husband to no end. "Anyone who gets up early on a Sunday morning in the middle of winter to run twenty kilometers better either call themselves a runner...or come back to bed!", he would say. He had a valid point! For me though, I always felt like I had to earn the title of being labeled a runner. As far as I was concerned, being called a runner was reserved for those who ran seriously...not someone like myself who run fifteen kilometers straight to the nearest poutine stand! Most of all, I was always waiting for that specific finish line, that specific and perfectly run race that somehow deemed me worthy of being called a runner.

Sure enough, I woke up one day and decided that I was indeed, a runner. I may not have been a good runner or a fast runner and least of all, a "serious" runner...but I was a runner! I would run through the rain, through the snow, through half marathons, through full marathons, and most of the time...I would run my way right through the front door of a Starbucks! What couldn't be disputed though was the fact that I did indeed run....and I loved it! So that became my criteria for being called a runner, once and for all!

I've been trying to apply the same logic to this new {and somewhat larger than life} title as photographer. I've been spending the past year trying to earn my way into these ranks but I never really stopped to ask myself what I considered to be the finish line. I've been continuously looking for that one photograph or that one shoot or that one moment that would carry me over through the realms of worthiness. I suppose I should be realistic enough with myself to acknowledge that my perfectionist nature may never really consider myself worthy of being called a photographer. This can be detrimental or this can be what challenges me to constantly push my creative boundaries. The choice is mine. But what can't be disputed is the fact that I do indeed take pictures...and I love it!

So by that name is Gen...and I am a photographer!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

{the million dollar question...}

I've been having a debate with myself as of late over which is cuter;
babies...or handsome men with their babies...??

I received my answer this morning while brushing my teeth!

Friday, April 16, 2010

{story telling...}

I need to tell you a story.

It’s not a particularly good story and for most, it certainly won’t be a meaningful story…but as I sat in our nursery this morning putting Hudson to sleep, I felt compelled to tell it because our lives are made up of stories. Some stories ask questions, others give answers and in some cases, you might even get a little bit of both.

This, is one of those stories…

Today is a day very much like the day we returned home from Italy a little over six months ago; our flight arrived just after midnight and we were greeted to a cool yet comfortable autumn night. After spending ten days in the sweltering heat of Ancient Rome, it was a very welcome change. For anyone that knows Steve and I well, you know that while we love, love, love to travel…our most favourite part of all is coming home! We walked in the door that night to a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a bouquet of flowers that our friend Jamie had left for our arrival. Despite our exhaustion and rapidly closing eyelids, we found that we just couldn’t sleep. We were so excited to be home and to the months ahead that all we could think to do was to just lie in our beds in perfect contentment.

Once we finally did fall asleep, it was well into the early morning hours and the rain began to fall. We woke up a few hours later to a torrential downpour and a sense of peacefulness that neither of us had experienced in many months. I sat next to the window and watched the rain for what felt like hours. We were home. And life was good.

You see…our trip to Italy wasn’t really part of our plan for last year. We had recently spent a month in Australia the previous spring and in no way was another vacation part of our financial timeline for the year. But, that being said, the six months leading up to our vacation certainly hadn’t been part of our plan either…and plans change. And so did we.

The beginning of 2009 was a very tumultuous time for my husband and I. Our faith, our endurance and our life as we knew it was being tested. Amidst a number of other challenges that occurred during that time, my husband and I were mourning the loss of what would have been our first child. We found out about the pregnancy just before Christmas and seven weeks later, we returned home from the emergency room with the news that we were about to endure a change of plans.

At the time of our miscarriage, I was also struggling a great deal with the direction and purpose that my life was taking. For some time, I had been feeling as though I had lost my way to the comforts of job that was too small for my soul. Beginning anew is hard though…but as I soon came to learn, losing your peace of mind and sense of self is much harder.

That’s when I began to take pictures. I had always wanted to but I had been afraid. Somewhere, in the depths of my soul, I thought that it was easier to believe that I might be a great photographer than to potentially know that I was a bad one. And so it went for the first thirty years of my life…I wondered if I would have ever been a good photographer. But the loss of our first pregnancy made me take a moment to pause…it made me take a moment to recognize the drastic change in direction that our life took not only with finding out that I was pregnant but also the change that came with the pregnancy ending. As I struggled to reason with this reality, I decided that the only thing that I could do was to ensure that something beautiful came out of the extra time that we were being given. So I picked up a camera and decided to find out for real what might come of it. What did ultimately come of it far exceeded my wildest expectations and has led my life in a direction that I never even imagined possible.

And then there is Italy.

Six months after our miscarried, my husband and I decided that we needed a break; we needed some time away to take a breath from all that we had been through. We chose Europe…Steve chose Italy. We decided to go for our anniversary (August 27th) and further more, we wanted to be there to commemorate what would have been the birth of our first child, who would have been due on August 24th. So we piled up all of our pennies and booked a ten-day trip to Rome and Florence.

Two weeks later, we found out that I was pregnant with Hudson…a discovery that left us both elated and terrified all at the same time. We proceeded to spend the next two months cautiously optimistic. When we had our first appointment with our doctor, he encouraged us to take baby steps (no pun intended!) in the progression of our pregnancy. “Twelve weeks” he told us…”Let’s get to twelve weeks” (in which case the likelihood of a miscarriage decreases to less than 1%). So that became our goal…twelve weeks.

I chose to tell this story specifically because it turned out that not only did our twelve week mark also occur while we were in Italy…but our twelve week mark also happen to be the exact same day as what would have been our previous due date; August 24th.

As two very faith-filled people, we chose to spend August 24th in Vatican City. We spent a long time in St. Peter’s Basilica, we visited the tomb of Pope John Paul II, we toured the Vatican Museum and we spent a great deal of time just saying thank you…because sometimes, that’s all there really is left to say.

I am Catholic and my husband is Protestant…but we are both children of God and found there to be a great deal of holiness within the walls of St. Peter’s. We found that there was no better place for us to be at that very time in our lives where the transition of one part of our life was departing and making room for a new one; we were going to have a child, we were all perfectly healthy, I was beginning to see light in my days and closing the door on the heartbreak that I felt from the previous months, and I had found passion in my purpose.

The day after we returned home from Italy, we saw an ultrasound of Hudson for the first time and this morning, as the rain poured down, I felt that same sense of peace with the world that I had six months ago. My little boy – a little boy I never would have met had this story not happened – was asleep in my arms; my husband was asleep in the room next to us; our fur ball was asleep at my feet…and all was well with the world. I am embarking on a new career that would not have been a possibility had this story not happened with an appreciation for my health and happiness that wouldn’t be quite the same had this story not happened.

The bottom line is that this story needed to happen. For my life to happen…this story needed to happen.

A year later, my view of this experience is obviously quite different. I am able to look back and observe our endurance with a new perspective and have certainly become more open to receiving some of the answers that I originally wasn’t ready to hear. The most important of them being trust; trusting in my God, trusting in myself and trusting in the bigger story…one that is perhaps beyond our ability to fully understand. And maybe we’re not supposed to have a complete understanding of every chapter of our life that we go through. Maybe we’re never supposed to be able to turn to the back page and read the ending. Maybe the most important part for us to know is that perhaps no story is really worth telling if there aren’t a few dragons that need to be slayed along the way.

Besides, don’t we all just love a good mystery?!?!


Vatican City, August 24th, 2009

Hudson ~ One Week Old

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

{baby blues & tiny toes...}

Because I just can't get enough of our little man...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

{sweet new love...}

Ladies and Gentlemen...
Please allow me to introduce to you the newest member of Fifteen:Fifty-One Photography...

Hudson Daniel Smyth
Born March 11th, 2010

While I don't think that he'll be coming to shoots with me anytime soon...I definitely think that he'll be my go-to model for the next little while!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

{my southern cross...}

When I was younger, I was just in love with the stars. I was in love with the stars the way most preteen girls are in love with Edward Cullen! My love for them was insatiable and undying! I would passionately memorize the number of light years from Earth to the Moon and better yet, I actually knew the distance of a light year (which has long been forgotten!)! I could tell you all about Cassiopeia and the make up of a horse head nebula. Astronomy took my breath away!

Now this is where my story takes a bit of a bizarre twist...

Around this same time is when my Dad got me my first Nintendo (we're talking the old school original Nintendo that came with Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros.). One of the games that I got with it was the Legend of Zelda; a fantasy action game in which Princess Zelda (of course!) needs to be rescued. The hero of our adventure uses the Southern Cross, a constellation predominantly found in the Southern Hemisphere, to find his way to his beloved and this, my friends, becomes the story behind of how I officially felt the need to see this constellation for myself!

And that's how the story stayed for about the next twenty years; me and a constellation patiently waiting on the other side of the world for our great reunion!

Then, two years ago, my husband and I found ourselves being driven out to the middle of nowhere (also known as the Australian Outback) for dinner and a date with an astronomer and his telescopes. We had booked this night almost six months prior to our trip and even before we got to our destination, we knew it had been worth it. We had flown across the world to one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I was about to see the Southern Cross with my very own eyes.

We were, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. We had driven nearly five hours from the small town of Alice Springs to our hotel and from there, were being driven to a small sand dune surrounded by nothing but red sand as far as the eye could see. We were facing Ayers Rock in one direction and the Olgas in the other. It was, for lack of a better word, spectacular.

As the sun went down, we were served champagne and hors d'oeuvres of crocodile and kangaroo (it's not so bad...kinda taste like chicken!) followed by a candlelit dinner by one of the regions finest chefs and sat under a sky that put a kink in my neck for an entire week! Without any city lights for hundreds of kilometres, the night sky lit up with shooting stars and constellations of the likes that I had never before, and have never again, witnessed in my life.

Then came the best part of all; as we were served dessert, an astronomer joined us with a few of his telescopes and gave us a guided tour of the night sky. From Saturn's rings to a Milky Way that made you want to surf in it, the sky became our playground and would become one of our best memories of our trip Down Under. And there was, of course, the Southern Cross...just as beautiful as I always imagined it would be.

I only took one picture from that night; it's fuzzy, out of focus and taken long before I ever picked up a camera professionally...but it's also one of my favourite pictures ever. As I was recently going through our vacation pictures, it stood out to me because when I look back to the day, when I first longed to look up at that sky, it never once occurred to me that I wouldn't see it. I had decided then and there, that one day I wouldn't just dream about it...I would experience it...I would live it.

That moment matters even more to me now than it did then because there is an entire world out there waiting for us...and with my son due any day now (he's actually four days late...I'm considering grounding him for his tardiness!), I want more than anything for him to not only dream about those things...but I want him to live them. I want him to know with utmost certainty that the world, with all of its wonder, is his for the taking.

Perhaps it won't be the Southern Cross or swimming with sea turtles at the Great Barrier Reef but whatever it is...I hope that we can help him get there because at this moment, when this picture was taken, while he may not have existed in our lives at the time, we longed for him the way my ten year old self longed for the night sky...

Get here soon little man...we can't wait to meet you!

(I forgot to watermark it...but it's still mine!!!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

{literary love affairs...}

It's a cold rainy day in Ottawa today, so I've taken it as my cue to curl up and hibernate in the house. So I'm sitting in front of our fireplace with my Starbucks (not even Mother Nature can keep that part of my day from happening!!!) reading Where the Wild Things Are. The book was a gift to our son from one of my most favourite people in the entire world. Actually, a dear friend of mine recently hosted a baby shower for us in which everyone was asked to bring one of their favourite childhood books for our little boy. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing a gift that is to us!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I need books like I need oxygen! Our house is covered with them! Our dining room, our living room, our nightstands, our dressers, our bathrooms, our family room bookcases...books are everywhere in our house and it's safe to say that I've had a pretty passionate relationship with each and everyone of them! I truly think that books are one of God's greatest gifts to humanity (you know, right up there with forgiveness, grace and peanut butter!); someone's life, imagination, musings and language, all beautiful bound and perfectly put on paper for the rest of us to get lost in. Few things in this world bring me quite as much joy as falling asleep at the end of the day to someone else's eloquent words.

"Oh how I love thee...let me count the ways..."

I don't like sharing my books though! I know that for many, this type of behaviour is nothing short of sacrilegious but for me, I simply get too attached to risk never seeing them again. My books have followed me through life at its very best and life at its very worst; during an especially difficult time in 2001, White Oleander became my only solace. I read Jane Austen for the first time as we travelled through Australia and Eat, Pray, Love is my ultimate comfort food. Basically, each of my books own a piece of my soul and the very thought of parting with them simply breaks my heart. So I just don't! Instead, they act as reminders of my countless literary love affairs that not only tell their own story...but a piece of mine as well.

I suppose it's needless to say that I do genuinely hope that our son develops the same love for the written word as his father and I have. When I consider how much books have shaped each of our lives, I have a really difficult time imagining a childhood without them. I'm still not entirely convinced that a life that hasn't yet experienced Harry Potter is a life fully lived!

That being said, thanks to our friends and family, our son is starting to give us a run for our money in terms of shelf space...and he's not even here yet!!!





So consider yourself warned little man...whether you like it or every life a little Dr. Seuss must fall...!!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

{the making of a nursery...}

I was never one of those kids that had to clean their room when they were little. I never had to clean it because I never let it get messy. While most of my friends had their weekly chore of having to pick up all of their clothes off the floor, I was actually quite the opposite; I was almost obsessive about my room. Everything had its place and its home and any change to that assigned space ended up being quite upsetting to me.

We moved a lot when I was young and I think that having my room the same and "in order" was my way of maintaining a sense of stability regardless of where we lived. It never failed; each time we moved, I would stay up as long as necessary to make my room appear as though I had never slept anywhere else. I would paint, I would organize, I would put pictures on the wall; despite our change of address, I had a way of making it the only room that I had ever known.

Even now, the necessity has never really left me.

When Steve and I moved into our new house two years ago, the very first thing we did after having moved all of our stuff was to paint and set up our bedroom. We were experiencing three entire floors of change and we felt that, at the very least, sleeping in "familiar territory" would make the transition, albeit an exciting one, a bit easier on the soul.

So it seems needless to say that creating a room for our son became a process of great thought for the two of us. I've known couples who have had this space completely prepared five months into their pregnancy. We were not one of those couples! In fact, until last weekend, we hardly had any furniture in his room whatsoever. We actually spent months with the room completely empty so that we could try to get an image in our minds of our little man's space. It's not a big space but it's still his space...and we both believe that everyone needs a little corner to call their own!

At long last, the room is coming together. I'm sure that much like the rest of our house, it will continually be a work in progress, but at least it can now accommodate a human being if need be (which is a good thing given that we're less than two weeks away from d-day!)! With the help of all of our amazing friends and family (who have proven to already love our little boy dearly), we have begun to prepare for the "un-preparable"!!


My Father-in-law makes the most beautiful furniture and it's been a tradition in the Smyth family for each new "Li'l Smytty" to have his or her own Smyth crib. I was in love!

I'm convinced that bath toys alone are a great reason to have children!!!!

We heart Baby Gap and Aunt Jamie for her adorable taste!!!

The other beautiful creation by my Father-in-law...

It took us nearly five months to find a glider for his room! But it's seriously the most comfortable thing that I've ever sat in (and I'm sure that we'll spend many a night parked right there!!!)

The teddy bear (lovingly named Myron!) was a gift from Steve at 20 weeks...

We hope to see you soon Baby Boy!!
And we hope that the gorgeous paint colour we chose radiates many sleep filled nights!!
*wink wink*

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

{excuses, excuses...}

Being eight and a half months pregnant makes me sleepy.
Being sleepy makes it hard to blog.
Blame my son!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

{nocturnal happenings...}

I had read not too long ago about how pregnant women are prone to some rather vivid and unusual dreams! Of all the many changes that women go through while experiencing the various stages of pregnancy…I found this one to be the most hilarious!! Mostly because, for as long as I could remember, I have always had pretty wild dreams to begin with so the thought of them exceeding their current state of descriptiveness was rather amusing to me!!!

For starters, I almost always remember my dreams when I wake up. I’ve never needed to write them down and wonder what the heck was going on in my head during the night because they are always as clear as day when I wake up in the morning. I also dream in colour and mostly in English (if I’ve spent a lot of time that day around my French counterparts…then I have French dreams…like the good little bilingual girl that I am!!)!

Sure enough though, I have found that in the last month or so, my dreams have become so vivid and ongoing that sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I actually have to take a minute to decipher what was real and what wasn’t! On top of that, I find that my sense of humour in the night has gone up a notch and now rest on borderline ridiculous! Apparently there is no end to the delirium that comes with pregnancy!!

Let’s take a couple of weeks ago for example…

For those of you who aren’t keeping up on your entertainment news; Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood recently got engaged over Christmas. This is rather exciting news for those of us living in the Nation’s Capital because Fisher plays for our NHL hockey team, the Ottawa Senators (though this was far less exciting news for many of Ottawa’s single girls as he was also one of our most adored bachelors!!). Since our town is usually plagued with nothing but political news, a celebrity wedding of sorts is always a wonderful distraction!

{I think this would also be an appropriate time to mention that our little man has lovingly been named ‘Lil Fisher while in utero and has since been betrothed to ‘Lil Underwood who’s due to be born in May!!}

But alas, I digress…

So anyways, I had a dream that Fisher and Underwood called me to ask if I would be willing to photograph their wedding (riiiiiiiiggghhtt!!) and I, always aiming to please, was more than willing to shift around some scheduling conflicts to accommodate them! We decided to meet up at their house to discuss some of the details and when I arrived, the lovely couple was eagerly sitting at their dining room table in all of their beautifulness just waiting to talk about their big day! But before I even got the chance to sit down, I noticed three little kittens scurry across their dining room floor! I immediately dropped everything (both literally and figuratively) to go over and play with them! I just sat there on their floor, like the five year old that I am, happily playing with their little bundles of fur and completely disregarding my reason for being there in the first place. Meanwhile, Fisher and Underwood continued to sit at their table patiently waiting for me to get all of this feline fun out of my system so we can get on with our meeting (they were so polite!).

THEN {I know…can you believe there is more to this horror story?!?!}…

Jason Spezza arrived at their house (a fellow teammate that got married in Ottawa last year) with tile samples for the kitchen renovation that he was overseeing at his Mother’s house! Now, the only thing that I love as much as baby animals is home improvements…so it wasn’t long before Spezza and I parked ourselves on the floor (with the kittens, of course) while we discussed the best colours and textures for his Mom’s new kitchen. Jason totally became my new BFF!! All the while, Fisher and Underwood just sat there, completely perplexed and wondering when I was going to start paying attention to them!! They were actually totally adorable considering all of the neglect that I was imposing on them! By the time my alarm went off, I had yet to utter a single word to the happy couple!!! Oh, the shame of it all…

I actually woke up from this dream laughing out loud! Being pregnant really does provide a certain amount of comic relief!

Just for the record though, to any potential brides and grooms out there who might be reading this…I swear that I’m not that easily distracted by kittens and kitchens!!!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

{kenlan's closet...}

Everyone has a past. Everyone has their stories, their journeys, their tales to tell and for some reason, whenever people find out my political past…their first inclination is to ask whether or not I miss it! I’ve always found this quite interesting because in many ways, working in politics was just like any other job but to the outside world, it clearly held a certain mystique that others wanted to know more about.

I got asked this question again last week and it compelled me to think long and hard about my time roaming the halls of Parliament Hill. “There’s got to be something that you miss about it” I told myself, even if it was just the amazing spaghetti that they served on Thursday afternoons in the cafeteria! But the honest truth is no…I don’t miss it. It was a great time in my life but when I made the choice to leave, I was more than ready to do so. And then just yesterday, it hit me…the one thing; The one thing that makes me wish, that for one day, I was back in that one place…the annual Christmas party!!!

Believe me, I get how ridiculous it sounds to say that the single thing you miss about an old career is the party, but it really was a great party! All of us who had spent months upon months running the halls in our most professional attire with blackberries in hand, chasing after rogue politicians while attending committee meetings and making endless travel plans, were finally being given the opportunity to cut loose and paint our political town red! And party we did! We partied until the cows came home…the sun came up…and until, eventually, we had to go right back to work with streamers still caught in our hair!! It really was a truly great party!!

There was a downside though and it’s the same down side that plagues every girl hoping to look her very best when entering a room (preferably with a handsome sidekick not too far off in the distance!); the dress! The perk of being the estrogen dominate ones of society is that we are entitled to a plethora of truly gorgeous creations to help make our already beautiful selves twinkle and shine that much more. The challenge here is that such beauty doesn’t come cheap!! The dress, the hair, the make-up, the accessories…before you know it, you could end up with a mortgage payment worth of an outfit. Lovely? Yes. Ideal? Not so much.

This is where one of my brilliant brides has stepped in to save the day…

My December bride, Suzanne, and her sister Josée, have come up with the ultimate business idea to help out those of us who want to look amazing for the occasion but still have cash left over for our morning Starbucks; Kenlan’s Closet is the long overdue answer to many of our fashion prayers!

In the same manner that men have long been able to rent tuxedos for their big event, these sisters have now come up with a way of providing women with the opportunity to rent designer dresses for their own star-studded evenings. And I think that this is, by far, the best.idea.ever. Kenlan’s Closet is offering the likes of Nicole Miller, Alexander McQueen, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang and oh so many more designers that will make your heart beat faster and your Manolo Blahniks dance with joy!

So ladies, I highly encourage you to not only check out this amazing new business but I encourage you to take full advantage of it! Whether it is for a night out on the town with your girlfriends or to simply bake muffins in your kitchen… either way, Kenlan’s Closet will help you do it in style!

Check out their website here and read a fantastic article about them in the Ottawa Citizen here.

Happy Designer Dreams ;)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

{suzanne & steve: wedding...}

I seriously have some of the best colleagues in the world. Seriously. We are a small group of seven women and on countless occasions, we say that the best part of our job is the people. That being said, we also agree that the worst part of job can also be…the people! And it’s not because we don’t adore each other or respect each other, it’s because like any other relationship in life, they can be trying at times. When you spend eight hours a day, five days a week together; when you share in the ups and the downs of your day together; when you share in the personal and professional sides of life together…you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves from time to time! But it’s a small (and very worthwhile) price to pay for the privilege of being able to work with people that I can call my friends.

It’s actually the single part of leaving my job that I am anxious about. I’m a bit nervous about the loneliness that could come with self-employment and what life will be like without that built-in network of people to see and share with every day. That, most certainly, will come as an adjustment. And there have been times when I’ve wondered if this factor alone would potentially be too much for the extroverted, social butterfly in me.

And then I met Suzanne and Steve…

I met them on a busy Friday night at Starbucks to discuss their upcoming Christmas wedding. I had met them at a time when I was still trying to decide if photography was really the way to go for me. After all of the stability that I had created in my current situation, it often seemed down right crazy to put it all aside for something that may or may not end up working out. I was scared about life outside of an office, life as business owner, and life without the structure that I had so intimately come to know over the last decade. But then there I was with this lovely couple and a half hour led to an hour, which then melted into two hours and before I knew it, I realized I had long overstayed the amount of time I had promised my husband I would be gone! Once I did make it home though, I walked through the front door, poked my head around the corner to where he was comfortably parked on the couch (with my most apologetic eyes, of course!) and when I was asked how our meeting went…I just looked at him, smiled and said “I’m so doing this!”

To say that I like Suzanne and Steve would be such a ridiculous understatement! To say that I wish I could carry them around in my back pocket as my permanent coffee dates would be at least getting a wee bit closer to how much I adore them. Not only are they two of the most wonderful and kindest people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, but frankly…I love them!!! And at the risk of making them sound like a puppy that followed me home…I want to keep them!!! Pleeeeeeasseee…

Not only do they radiate the very essence of love and happiness that I cherish so much in people, but from the moment I first met them, they began to teach me a very important lesson; a lesson that I needed to learn in order to move forward in my photography career; they taught me that relationships are not a by-product of a work place or a work structure…they are a product of the effort you put into them and the parts of yourself that you are willing to give them. They reminded me that it will be people like them that become my new colleagues and the new day-to-day elements of my life. It will be sharing in their wedding days and the time leading up to it that will become my new structure and if I’m really lucky, some of those relationships, just like some of the ones that I’ll be leaving behind at my old job, will long outlive our “designated” time together to become an entity all unto their own. And that is, quite possibly, the very best reward of all.

As I joined my husband back in car after having dropped off their final disc of images, I just looked at him and said “I’m sad!” And I really was. It was like saying a reluctant goodbye to a friend at the airport! I didn’t want their wedding to be over, I didn’t want their pictures to be done and I didn’t want to drive away from my new friends! But then I got a beautiful email the next day that said “let’s keep in touch, okay?”…and just like that, my heart felt better! I didn’t quite get to “keep” them, as in I don't get to see them every day…but I definitely felt like I had been granted shared custody!!

Suzanne and Steve, you’re amazing! You’re amazing in front of my camera and you’re exponentially more amazing in person. Thank you for not only letting me share in your beautiful wedding day, but thank you for being the very best way to end an incredible year. I miss you already!

Gen xoxo

To see more of their romantic winter wedding, click here to see their slideshow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

{so long...}

About five and half years ago, I sat in my doctor's office crying about how I hadn't slept properly in three I was always feeling sick to my I had a constant headache...and most of all, how I was having difficulty breathing. I was convinced I was dying. After listening to my hysteria for ten minutes, he handed me a note giving me the next three weeks off of work and asked me to take part of that time to consider if the field of work that I was currently in was something that I wanted to pursue long-term. "If not" he said, "now would be a good time to make a change."

I was in politics at the time. I had been hired as a political assistant on Parliament Hill shortly after graduating from university and while I enjoyed the experience of it all, over the course of my three years, it had also managed to systematically suck the soul out of me. At the age of twenty-five, I been put on stress leave.

Ten days into my three week leave, I got offered a new job in the field of the fine arts doing marketing and communications. I quit my political job that same day, started my new job the following Monday and swore that my life would never experience that kind of imbalance ever again.

As strange as it may sound, that change of direction in my career was one of the most "divine" moments of my life. It was one of the best and most spontaneous decisions that I have ever made and no part of it had anything to do with prestige or money or even advancement. It had to do entirely with the pursuit of well-being and the proper alignment of my priorities...for what may have been the first time ever in my life. I had surrendered myself in that doctor's office and God had taken over the reigns from there. And He did an amazing job!

In five weeks, I'm going to be leaving that job to become a full-time Mother, a full-time photographer and hopefully, an even more genuine version of myself as once again, God takes the reigns in a whole new direction. And just like last time, I can feel God's presence in this transition as things slowly fall into place; the gentle hand guiding into new and unfamiliar territority but all the while, reminding me that it will all be okay. I've never been more scared and excited all at the same time!

This is why I didn't mind spending my entire New Year's Day in front of the computer putting together my "best of" slideshow for 2009; because it was - in essence - giving some well deserved reflection and acknowledgment to the first of many steps that would change the course of my life. I've always considered it somewhat cliché to do the whole "look back at the year...", but in this case, I felt as though I owed it to myself to take a moment (or an entire day!) to recognize how far I've come in this area of my life...which ultimately, has affected every other area of my life as well. It has also proven that God is far better in the driver's seat than I could ever be (even with the new GPS we got for Christmas!)!!

So 2009...I bid you farewell! 2010...let's kick some ass!

To view my "Best of 2009" slideshow, click here.