A Nocturnal Prayer


Monday, January 13, 2014

There's a beautiful nighttime prayer that I want to share with you.  I've been reading it with my boys at bedtime.  I discovered it in author Candy Paull's sweet treasure of a book, Christmas Abundance ("From the Book of Common Prayer").  I just think you might like it because it's a simple prayer that quiets our minds as the dark, inky sky enfolds us under our warm blankets before we close out our day...

O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen
and the 
evening comes, and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then in thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest,
and peace at the last.

I love the part that says, "and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done."  It reminds me of our classic childhood favorite with its mood and cadence, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown--

Goodnight comb 
And goodnight brush 
Goodnight nobody 
Goodnight mush 
And goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush” 
Goodnight stars 
Goodnight air 
Good night noises everywhere

We must have read Goodnight Moon a billion times when the boys were babies, and it never got old.  I am also reminded of Mary Anne Radmacher's quote, “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”  I love this.  We do our best during the daytime.  Sometimes we mess up and have a droopy headed Charlie Brown kind of day, and sometimes we have a glittery ticker tape parade kind of day, and we're dancing with abandon down the street.  The only thing left to do when the stars claim their seats in the universe is rest and trust and sigh and be grateful.

And as I finish up the bedtime prayer with my young men, they begin to yawn and succumb to their sleepiness.  I can just feel all of their limbs becoming heavy as I continue.  I think they get the prayer...  Goodnight to you, beauties.



Monday, December 30, 2013

Well, hello again.  I know.  It's been months since I've been here.  It's the end of another year.  Does it have to escape us so fast?  I've been doing some freewriting in my journal just to stop the spinning in my head.  Time to reflect on the past several months and to look forward to the coming seasons.  I am trying to practice patience, gentleness, gratitude, and mindfulness.  Some days are challenging, and I acknowledge that I have not been the best at these things this past year.

For now, this is all I want to share before the year end.  The following ads truly resonated with me.  I am just a simple purveyor of these moments, but they have surely made an impact on me and how my boys are growing up so fast and how each of us is getting older...  The following productions have moved me to tears and contemplation on how I want the next year to unfold with these thoughts and feelings in mind.

Seriously, you might need to grab your hankie before you watch these.  I feel like Rita Wilson in Sleepless in Seattle when she talks about An Affair to Remember!  The power of moving pictures...

I lose it every time I watch this beautiful Apple ad with music performed by Cat Power.  The teenage boy reminds me of my sons in the face of technology and how I want to slow down with them and stay connected with my family.

This lighthearted ad by VW always makes me laugh and cry.  I've had these laughing-until-you-cry moments with my family and friends during our treasured times together, as I'm sure you have too.

This one by Proctor and Gamble reminds me of the sacrifices we make for each other, and those that my parents and elders have made for my siblings and me.  I will always be grateful.

This one with the mother and son, and the part when the little boy talks about when he cried when some kid didn't want to play with him and the way his mother held him is exactly how I feel with my boys.  You just want to protect your young ones from harm and sadness as much as you can.

Last one by Subaru.  We lost our sweet Sammy at the beginning of the school year, and this was our first Christmas without her.  We really miss her quiet presence.  Sometimes it feels like she's still here on her bed next to our big boy, Odin.

And after reviewing these ads again, I'm sitting here smiling and crying and feeling so much love for the people and pets in my life.  Now go and hug those nearest and dearest to you.  Blessings to you in the coming year!



Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Seattle waterfront.  The boys and I are riding the ferris wheel on the pier, and this is our view!

After a couple of rotations on the ferris wheel, we started gettings used to the motion and heights--kind of.

Here is beautiful Sammy.  This old gal is funny around pictures.  I'm lucky to get a non-blurry shot of her.

Here is gorgeous Odin.  He's always up for a photo session and a dance.  He's my special boy.

Vino at the Landing in Renton, WA.  I had lunch with a sweet friend.  Delicious chocolates to finish off the meal.

Mateo at afterschool pick-up yesterday.  He looks for us then follows up with a big hug.

Tomas at afterschool pick-up yesterday.  He comes running out of the building to surprise us from behind.

Just a quick still life on our kitchen table.  We really need to eat those satsumas before they go bad.

Lately, my thoughts and life have been pretty random (as you can tell by the photos).  It's my younger son Tomas's birthday!  He is officially 8 as of February 28.  He was sad for a bit in the morning because he wasn't going to be 7 anymore.  That's my fault for lamenting out loud that he's growing up too fast.  Well, what is a mama to do?  At 6am, all I could think of to cheer him up was that it will be fun to write the number 8 after his name: "Tomas, Age 8" which is what I used to do when I was a kid.  I would write "Charmaine, Age 8" on my books and wide-ruled paper.

For the weekend, we are heading to Whistler, B.C. to celebrate Tomas's special day with family.  It will be a time to relax, snowshoe, ski, snowboard, and eat.  I can't wait.  I also can't wait for the long drive.  We love hitting the road.  Good music.  Great conversation.  Camp-style snacking.  My stash of books and my journal.  Our pillows for napping.  It's going to be a great weekend.

Peace and Light


Monday, January 14, 2013

Now We Are Six | A. A. Milne

I promise to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School; I promise to do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.

Today marks one month since the horrific tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  

As a mother of 7 year-old and 9 year-old boys, this has truly affected me--as I am sure it may have affected you in your own personal way.  Every time I read or watch a story about these amazing teachers and beautiful children, I have had to grab my heart for fear it will break.  I just want to hold these families.  The children who have left this earth--I feel that they were my children too.  I can't even fathom what their families and friends are going through during these dark days.

I pray for every single one of them.  I pray for peace and light.

I hope that this poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye brings some bit of comfort and hope. May her words flow with peace to anyone who has lost someone special.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there.  I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.  I did not die.


Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I am very excited to begin reading the latest book by one of my favorite authors Katrina Kenison called Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment.  Katrina is also a mother of two boys (who are now grown up), and I feel such a kindred connection to her.  The words that she shares always move me and inspire me.  They seem to be the right words when I need to hear them.  She is such a soulful and thoughtful writer.  I wish her a flood of goodness with this latest gem.  If you have not yet read any of her other books, I highly recommend that you add Mitten Strings for God and The Gift of an Ordinary Day to your library or bedside table.  I cherish my copies, and I often give them as gifts because they are just that beautiful.  You will look at your life more mindfully and with an abundance of gratitude.
Sandy Hook 12.14.12, never again. www.causes.com/neveragain

These Days


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day One | 8 o'clock (Saturday Morning: lazy start, reading, warm blankets, cold rain outside)

Day Two | Peace (My real 'day two' was packed with Sunday activities, so I actually took this photo a day late.  Ahhh, Monday peace...)

Day Three | Something You Held (my collection of rosaries from Mom, good friends, my big sister, my sons' baptisms, my travels to Rome and the Vatican...  if you ever need time or space to meditate or center yourself--or if you have a case of insomnia, sometimes praying the rosary really does help.  Repetition, reverence, faith, quiet, solitude, healing, peace...)

Day Four | Black and White (After-school pickup in the rain and cold sunshine)

It's time for a mindfulness tune-up.  What better way than to participate in a Photo-a-Day project?  I always enjoy the list that Chantelle of Fat Mum Slim puts together each month.  I am always inspired when I stop and think and look around.  Now that the end of another year is approaching, I thought it would be a great way to close it out.  It's not too late to join this monthly tradition!  I would love to see what you capture each day.  The hashtag is #FMSphotoaday and my Instagram is @charmainevelasco.

There is so much more of my recent days that I want to collect and share, but for now I have this.  You just have to start where you are and be ok with it.  

How have your days been--especially with the holidays in our wake?  If you need a song to slow you down, here's a pretty one for the season from the lovely Nico: These Days.

Autumn in Seattle


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yellow Taxi

Orange Taxi

Post election day.  What a ride!  A nice time to reflect on the current season.  Grateful for having the freedom to use my voice...

One of my best girlfriends and I met for an autumn afternoon in downtown Seattle last Sunday.  It was a mild Pacific Northwest day, and a perfect time for being out on the town.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my senses captured...

Sight: Golden trees and floating leaves dancing under moody skies along Fifth Avenue.
Smell: The potency of vanilla and fruit in the lip balms and cheek tints that we played with at Sephora.  Girl time can be so fun.
Sound: Although we were not in New York City, I still had Ella Fitzgerald's and Louie Armstrong's duet of Autumn in New York playing in my head as I watched the yellow taxi pass by.
Taste: Piping hot portobello mushroom soup at Palomino's for lunch.
Touch: Intricate paper cutting at Anthropologie during their holiday display workshop.  I don't think I have the patience or talent for paper crafting, but it was still an interesting experience.

During this beautiful and hopeful season, what are you grateful for?

Souvenir Foto School | Food + Foto (Assignment Four)


Monday, November 5, 2012

50mm lens | f/3.5 | 1/30 | iso 400 | natural southern afternoon backlight; white diffuser and silver bounce
50mm lens | f/5.6 | 1/100 | iso 400 | white cake stand; natural southern afternoon backlight; white diffuser and silver bounce

In this final Food + Foto assignment, we got to play with dessert!  My favorite.  It being chocolate was a bonus.  Chocolate Honey Mousse with Sel del Mer.  As I was making this over the stove top, I kept thinking that I must be doing it wrong because it was extremely easy to prepare!  The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit via Epicurious.  You will definitely want to serve in small doses because it is very rich and decadent.  So delicious...

Souvenir Foto School | Food + Foto (Assignment Three)


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

50mm lens | f/1.8 | 1/30 | iso 640 | kitchen ceiling floodlights at night, diffused by white photo umbrella
Our recent assignment was photographing linguine with pesto, but I only had enough time to work with parts of the ingredients.  Hence, the lonely head of garlic!  I shot this image at night.  I usually like to shoot with available daylight, but this was one of those times when I only had darkness, lamps, and lightbulbs.  I wanted to keep the soft, gossamer quality of the garlic skins.  They are so delicate and pretty to me.  I used my photo umbrella for diffusion, I also worked with some gorgeous Photoshop actions created by Souvenir Foto School.

Souvenir Foto School | Food + Foto (Assignment Two)


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

50mm lens | f/2.0 | 1/320 | iso 400 | side lighting from the left, white bounce from a canvas from the right
50mm lens | f/3.5 | 1/60 | iso 400 | side lighting from the left, white bounce from a canvas from the right

Our photo assignment for week two in SFS | Food + Foto was Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Miss Tristan B. of Besotted Blog highly recommended the hand spun mozzarella from the Seattle Metropolitan Market.  Boy, was she right!  Thought I would share my senses of this experience this past weekend.

Sight: During my trip to the market, I loved seeing all of the rich tones of the autumn harvest.  Pumpkins outside the entrance, rows of vibrantly red tomatoes, creamy white tones of cheeses...
Smell: Potently fresh basil as I rip a few leaves from the stems.
Sound: The knife as it hits the cutting board as I slice the roma tomato.  Allen whipping up an avocado smoothie in the background.  The boys laughing while trying to construct their marble game upstairs.
Taste: I couldn't wait to try this caprese concoction.  I wrapped a basil leaf around a bit of mozzarella and sprinkled a bit of salt.  I didn't even get to the tomato yet!  The combination of the cheese and basil was enough satisfaction.  Mild cheese + punctual basil + sip of cool white wine = mmmmm... no words. 
Touch: I was on my way to my girlfriend's house for girls movie night in (we planned to watch scary movies over wine, tortilla soup, and pumpkin spice cake).  The warm afternoon day turned into a mildly chilly evening as I walked out of the market back to my car with my ingredients in hand.  A perfect evening with good friends.

Souvenir Foto School | Food + Foto (Assignment One)


Monday, October 8, 2012

Rosemary :: 50mm lens | f/5.6 | 1/200 | iso 100
Herbed flatbread :: 50mm lens | f/5.6 | 1/25 | iso 200

So here are the results of my first assignment from Souvenir Foto School | Food + Foto.  I am having so much fun and definitely learning a lot from this class.  There will be three more weeks of material.  So please stay tuned for more postings.  Bon appétit!

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