ReadingIn 2016, I read 21 books, exactly half of what I read in 2015 (when pregnancy and nursing gave me a lot more time just sitting). Some were great and some were duds. I still stalk the "new nonfiction" section at the library for a lot of my reading, but I've also been checking out more books online for my kindle.
A few of the books that stood out to me:1. The Great Divorce. I always learn something new when I re-read C.S. Lewis. The premise of this short book is that a man in hell is able to take a bus trip to heaven, where the beings from hell cannot exist in the way that they are. They are ghostly shadows who can't even bend the blades of grass with their feet. But loving heavenly beings who are solid and bright and friends from life come to meet the bus' passengers, inviting them to stay and trying to help them make the necessary changes. Through the many interactions, Lewis teaches about the many lies we tell to justify ourselves and our behavior. Pride, arrogance, manipulation, and repentance are all on display. I highly recommend it.
2. Invisible History of the Human Race. One of several I read this year about DNA and history, and one of just two that I gave 5 stars to. This one covers more of a social history of family history as well as a bit of the science involved.
3. One Child. This one isn't one I'd want my teenagers to read, as there are some parts of it that are rather icky (such as what men do to satisfy their lusts in the absence of enough women). But still, this book tackled the challenges that China faces as a result of its one child policy. I've read other books about the subject, but this one tackled some aspects I've never considered, such as the point that many of the so-called abandoned children were not really abandoned but often either taken by threat of punishment by the population authorities, outright stolen, or sometimes sold for the money that is the underground child market. It is heart-breaking to see the tragedies.
4. Everest. I watched the movie based on the events in this book (if not based on the book itself) and was fascinated. I still can't picture why climbing Everest would be on anyone's bucket list, but the tragedy and intensity of this story is compelling.
What are your favorite books from the year?
PhotographyI had 50 photoshoots last year, up from 40 in 2015. I took photos for three weddings, two funerals, half a dozen extended families (I love doing those!), lots of adorable, squishy new babies, and many sweet families. I still think of my photography as mostly a hobby, as I do a lot of gift sessions for friends or for my own enjoyment and I don't advertise other than posting on my Hands Full Photos Facebook page (I haven't even invited my friends to like that page, because I stink at self-promotion, but hey, if you want, you could like the page!).
I think I have a great balance with the photography right now. I'm busy enough that my talents don't go stale but not so busy that I feel stressed or resentful of my schedule. That's the main reason I don't promote myself: I just don't want to get so busy that I start to lose my joy and passion for it. I still love getting my camera out and heading out to create something beautiful. I hope I never lose that.
|One of my favorite shots from the year -- we love Breanna and her horses!|
I took fewer landscape photos in 2016. Our busy schedules crowded out some of the "running out to chase the light" evenings I long for, and our fall was so packed full that other than our Yellowstone trip, I didn't get any landscapes of the amazing colors. But on the bright side, it was easy to slip away for a sunrise on many of our family trips and I still have a lot of beautiful favorites from the year, which I'll post on another day.
I entered two landscape photography competitions and won third place and $100 in the Utah Lake Photography competition, and then $500 and best overall photo in the Provo City Photo contest. I've now entered six competitions and have won something in all six.
|My winning photo in the Provo City contest|
I completed my second One-a-Day project with 338 photos, up from 331 from last year's project. I am grateful for the way this project has forced me to pick up my camera more often, capturing sweet memories that I wouldn't have photos of otherwise. While I still got a lot of shots that aren't anything special and some that are pretty terrible (especially the ones I pulled off my phone), I love the record and progression of the year. I love that I have records of silly moments, funny moments, cute moments, and fleeting moments.
Here is one of my favorite photos from each month of the project:
|Hunting rocks in the California desert in January|
|Hailey lived with us for seven weeks before her wedding and her wedding was a whole family effort|
|Joey was on Hooked on Utah this year -- twice!|
|My annual Mother's Day request -- a photo of all my kids!|
|Cute summer project!|
|I love the bond between these two -- Joey left early in the morning to go to a camp in New York for a month and insisted on waking Benji up so he could snuggle him one last time.|
|Back to School|
|I loved our Yellowstone trip!|
|My daughter is a senior. How in the world did that happen so quickly?!?!|
|Joey's Eagle Project was pretty intense. He really pulled it together.|
|Not pictured: Lillian at the piano, and the wild Santa-Benji, who photo-bombed the pageant many times.|