Blog a la Cart

Heavy Boots

We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families and our friends, and even the people who aren’t on our lists, people we’ve never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe.

- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Today, I wear heavy boots.

White privilege is me feeling enraged and disappointed at the news from Ferguson rather than utterly terrified. White privilege is me being able to parent my children without fear that they will be hurt or killed due to the color of their skin while many loved ones and fellow parents don’t have such a privilege. We deserve freedom from violence. ALL OF US.

Related: This is a useful, accessible way to understand privilege for those that may question my use of that word.

I am raising my voice because I refuse to reinforce this epidemic of silence that keeps our society functioning under these racist, patriarchal structures. Please raise yours, too.

Welcoming Oliver

Song is “Lullaby” by The Dixie Chicks. And it’s just so perfect for this. Love these collaborations with my sweet, talented husband. I shot and edited the photos, James told the story, Deanna, Dennis and Oliver brought the love.

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Sunny: She’s learned how to do her own ponytail, and so that’s how 50% of her day is now consumed. 

Kaki: Discovered quietly sitting in the sunlight with her cow (a gift bestowed upon me by my high school boyfriend post-wisdom tooth extraction at age 16). That cow’s got longevity. Also? Stripes on stripes on stripes forever amen.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Sunny: We’ve been working hard around Cartwheel Farm to clean up and prep for the winter. We’re a tad behind schedule given what a crazy fall we had, but better late than never. Sunny was less than thrilled about Saturday’s wood stacking extravaganza. Three hours later, and our wood is (finally) stored and ready for a long winter of wood stove use. 

Kaki: Courtland helped with our yearly garlic plant (which is supposed to happen over Columbus Day weekend). Oh well! We first soak the cloves in baking soda and water, and then plant directly in one of our garden beds, fertilizing heavily with compost from our barn, and covering with straw for the winter ahead. As you can see, the Carts love garlic.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

Kali & Mitchell

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A few of my favorite images from my final wedding of 2014. I feel so fortunate to have been trusted to capture these incredible moments for four kind, loving, amazing couples this year. Each wedding had its own style and atmosphere, and yet all of them were equally inspiring and enjoyable. I’ll forever feel connected to these people, and grateful for the trust they put in me with these expressions of love and commitment.

Without further ado, Kali & Mitchell, another Eph/Eph couple that overlapped with me and James while at Williams but whom we didn’t really know until this evening of magic and strength and love.

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Life Lately

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It’s been relatively quiet around these parts, what with our back-to-back travel schedules, a few coughs and sniffles thrown in for good measure, a clogged ear (yes, I’m complaining about an earful of gunk, because hot dang it has nearly derailed my whole week. So distracting and irritating and WAH WAH, Woe, Is me), a car that has bit the dust and is forcing conversations about new transportation a few months earlier than we wanted and at a terrible time of year *ahemhellochristmashoppingahem*, frigid temperatures, and a back log of photography work.

So James and I have spent our evenings (post general bedtime routine for all Cartwheel Farm dependents), hunkered down in front of the wood stove, each glued to our respective computers, editing and processing and tweaking and guzzling tea and editing some more. We wanted two projects in particular (a birth video and my final wedding shoot of 2014) put to bed before we focus all attention on the cleaning and the shopping and the cooking and the table setting and the gobbling and the eating, eating, eating that’s about to go down chez Cart.

I am preparing my stomach accordingly.

This weekend will involve a great deal of prep work, including retrieval of our turkey immediately post-processing at a neighborhood farm, and a jaunt to the community wide farmer’s market. Many of the local farmers and crafters band together in to one big space exploding in locavore love. I’ve got another family holiday card shoot on the agenda, but compared to a birth or wedding, that is a walk in a park.

And Life plows ahead, in all of its harried yet wonderful ways. Kaki delights me more and more every day as her ability to communicate continues to explode, while Sunny humbles me with her adaptability and flexablity as she tackles life in a new school with an entirely new community. My children are my gravity. They keep me grounded and honest. And I wish that kind of perspective for always. xo Ash

“The Uncle Ben”

James’ baby brother (the youngest of four boys) is pure magic. Love this kid. He’s got his own style and does his own thing and is the best party trick in the world with those flips and twirls. You should see the way preschool jaws hit the floor when Uncle Ben starts tricking.

He made this video in hopes of winning tickets to this music festival and could use a little love to help him seal the deal. Give him some props, eh? And if nothing else, enjoy the dance moves.

Sunny and Kaki are currently trying to master the “Uncle Ben” which involves gangly limbs and swirling hips (which, admittedly, they do not (yet) have). Big aspirations – and if they wind up half as fun, with half the ups of this guy, life will be pretty grand indeed.

Last Week

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The past 10 days have been a whirlwind. It began with James’ departure for a conference in Philadelphia and ended with my return from both work  travel slash friend visitation (in Santa Monica, CA, Chicago, IL and Ann Arbor, MI). Parenting without James was hard. Courtland in particular struggled. Being away from the kids was equally hard. I am so grateful to have us all back together again, curled up in front of the wood stove, eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate and just generally being a family.

But the the interim looked a little like this, courtesy of the iPhone…

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^^I wore a caftan gifted by my darling friend Amanda because who says you can’t channel beach energy in November? Sunny snapped the photo. Also, I’ve been rocking my hair in Dutch braids and find that middle-aged white men in particular have taken to complimenting this look. I just love that my hair is finally long enough for creative braiding. It’s been a two year endeavor.^^

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^^I put the finishing touches on a formal dining room which we set up in anticipation for many a holiday meal chez Cart. I’m thrilled to be able to display that oil painting of my great-grandmother and grandmother as a child. The original Weeks women. The other oil painting was done by my tutorial partner in an art studio course in college, Meleko Mokgosi. He created the painting based on a critique I’d given him of his work, and he gifted me the result for graduation. He has gone on to do amazing things in the art world.^^

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^^To entertain the kids while James was away, we did lots of snuggling in my bed, and adventuring to the movies. While we loved Big Hero 6, Courtland was initially terrified of Baymax, despite his cuddly, marshmallow-like appearance.^^

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^^We collected eggs, and walked the dogs, and generally enjoyed daily life in our little slice of Vermont.^^

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^^My friend Sharifa came and stayed with us to lend an additional pair of adult hands, including epic hair-braiding talents. Thank you, Weekend Wife! I am grateful to you!^^

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^^I then departed early Tuesday morning for the airport where I shared a cup of coffee with James on the other side of security, as he had just arrived from Philadelphia. We didn’t even realize that our paths would cross until he texted upon landing and waited with me at my gate. A really lovely, simple surprise. Also, how much do you love that androgynous person throwing shade on our airport selfie?^^

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^^I found rainbows in the airport and thought of my Sunny girl…^^IMG_8442.JPG

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^^I delighted in some face time with the Pacific, even if it was at 5:30 in the morning. My time in LA was brief and work focused, so I was grateful for the time I did manage to squeeze in with my beloved ocean.^^

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^^In Chicago, I ate like a Queen with one of my favorites, Devita. I even had my hair did at Dry Bar which was an extravagant but lovely experience.^^

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^^I then journeyed on to Michigan where sadly my dear friends were wracked with illness, so we lounged in pajamas and drank tea and generally played it super low key. I have no pictures to show from the experience, but fortunately, we’ll all be reunited in April where I shall ensure many a photo to document the occasion. In the meantime, you can enjoy the Rothko in the Sky.^^

It’s good to be home…

I miss them, so.

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I’ve been on the road since Tuesday, a combination of work and play (in Santa Monica, Chicago and Ann Arbor), but boy do I ever miss these sweet faces and their mismatched outfits. While it was tough solo parenting for four days while James was in Philadelphia, I look back on these pictures I took during that time and feel only swells of love and gratitude.

They’re now with James and his parents for a weekend of fun in PA, while I get some much needed catch up time with Sunny’s FGPs and their adorable son. We’ll all be reunited on Sunday – just in time to prep for Thanksgiving festivities and to kick off the holiday season!

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Holiday Card 2014

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It’s that time of year, my friends! As I’ve written about before, I’m a sucker for all things stationery (yes, with an E), and love the yearly process of assembling and addressing holiday cards for family, friends, and colleagues. As in years past, I’ve teamed up with Minted.com to create our family’s holiday card, and in exchange for helping us select our card, you get a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to Minted. Ain’t nothing like spreading holiday cheer!

One of my favorite things about the Minted site is the ability to upload a photo and then preview all of the holiday photo cards at once with that particular photo (select the “Find It Fast” button in the top right corner). It’s a quick way to get an idea of which cards work with a particular image. Then, of course, you have the ability to personalize and customize further. AND, Minted offers FREE recipient address printing, which, while I enjoy the process of handwriting addresses, I recognize is not a universal joy.

These are my favorite designs for this year’s photo. They are all variations on a theme. I was tempted to use one of the fall foliage photos of the girls for the card, but I like the idea of watching our family grow and shift through the years as a whole group on the front of the card, so I’m using this image from our 4th of July festivities this summer.

Details about the $100 Gift Certificate and how to enter below.

So, which one is YOUR favorite?

1. Be Light

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2. A Wonderful Life

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3. Happy Everything

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4. The Best is Yet to Come

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5. Be Joyful

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To enter to win a $100 Gift Certificate to Minted:

• tell me what your favorite holiday photo card design is from the selection above for our family

• for an extra chance to win…
‘like’ Minted and Blog a la Cart on Facebook, then come back here and tell us you like us, you really like us! in the comments

• for you Instagrammers, another chance…
follow Minted and Blog a la Cart on Instagram, then come back here and tell us that you’re digging our snaps

Make sure you enter a valid email address in the email section of the comment box so I can contact you if you win! The winner will be chosen next Monday, November 17 ,2014  at 5pm EST. Open worldwide. Total Value: $100

Below are cards from the past three years, since we started printed and sending Cart Family photo cards.

2013

2012 2011