Wednesday, November 30, 2016

i know, i know~ another blog update and it hasn't even been a week!

now that work has slowed down for
awhile (tis the season) i might be back here on a regular basis.  : )
* hey, if you read my blog and miss seeing photos from my
awesome client sessions, they are now on face book under
brown sparrow studio.

i'm still playing catch up so thought it would be fun to show
you some of the photos from a wedding my youngest, cole, was in
on 9-17-16 ( lars and my 39th wedding anniversary.)

this is greg and lisa lane's wedding.
cole and greg have been friends forever it seems like.
they started hanging in jr. high and have shared the
best and worst of times.

i love this guy. (greg) he is quiet and polite,
at least around me...
he's very handsome and gives great hugs. ; ) 
 even if you're old like me
and he could be your son, you can still appreciate a
good looking dude.
it doesn't hurt that he's a crossfitter and all around amazing
athlete either.

i wish i could get my hands on my favorite picture of these two guys in
senior high. i came home from work one day just as cole was finishing
up giving greg a mohawk haircut out on the driveway.
good stuff friends, good stuff.

greg was a standout football and baseball player in high school and he 
went on to play football for gustavous.
cole was at mankato state at the same time, so since the colleges
were close, they were able to hang out during through those years too.

greg's precious mom passed away from breast cancer when the 
boys were just college freshmen and that was a tough time for the lanes, reminding us
life can knock you to your knees. i think our friends are put on earth to
help us during those times in life.

after college cole and greg both got jobs and started being
real live grown ups and then one day greg called cole and said
he wanted to open a crossfit gym and wondered if cole would like to be
one of the partners. well, long story short, the two of them along with
another great guy did open that gym a year ago and it's greg's full time
career and a part time job for cole.

i'm super proud of them for daring to start their own business
while still in their 20's and working their butts off
(although i'm not going to lie, those crossfit behinds are anything
but missing) hehe.
to get it running and profitable.
they painted and built it out, hauled in equipment, ordered products and
put in countless hours before and since they opened.

so, in september greg married the love of his life, the sweetest girl- lisa, and
cole was honored to stand by his best friends side and see him
really start his adult life!

it's no secret that i love weddings, (i leaned over and said that to lars when
we got seated and he said, "yeah you've mentioned that before...about a million times)".
: )

this wedding had so many fun touches, they really entertained us!

the little flower girls had a tent to wait in to keep the sun and bugs off them.

greg's grandparents have an apple orchard that these beautiful apples were from.
and...greg's sister got married at the family farm just one week prior.
they used a lot of the same gear, (chairs, tables, tent, lights etc.)
 loading it all up and hauling from grandpa's to
bob and sue down's farm where this wedding took place.
the down's son bobbie is another one of the "rat pack" of boys who are
best friends. the boys spent countless hours at this beautiful farm growing up.

this is kim, greg's new step mom.
leslie, i knew you'd pritnear stop breathing over her beautiful dress with the
hand embroidered birds on it, so i asked her if i could take a picture,
so this is for you!


bubbles filled the sky over the wedding site

the 3 lane kids lit a candle up front for their mother before the ceremony~
it was very touching and of course made me weep.

cole and one of the brides sisters

fun fact:   lisa is one of 5 girls. the first 4 bridesmaids are all her sisters!

the family made this cool chandelier.

so you know how the bridal party makes an "entrance" at the reception?
these pictures of cole making his, crack me up.

(pretty sure these moves came from his dad).
*when the tux shop hems your pants too short and one leg is even
shorter than the other what do you do? laugh and just go with it!

cole and donnie ~ another partner in crime. donnie lived with cole for a while in college.

greg and lisa

mr. and mrs.!

when greg's brother tony gave his best man's speech cole laughed so hard i thought
he might split his tight pants.

these are cole's two partners from the gym, greg and shub.

who doesn't love a big old barn for their grooms dinner?

and any wedding with horses is a winner to me!

this is bob downs. he and his wife sue are two of the most beautiful people on the planet.
they have taken in over 250 foster children in their marriage!
bob was an educator until last year when he retired. now i like to think of him
as a "gentleman farmer" and wedding chauffeur. : )
bob is also the person that called us 11 years ago when cole rolled and
totaled my jeep on a windy gravel road on his way to their farm.
when i answered the phone that night, bob calmly said,
"it's bob downs and i want you to know that cole is with me and he's ok. he's had a
bad accident- but he's ok, now i'm going to put him on".
you never forget those moments eh~

fireworks lit up the sky over the lake towards the end of the reception, like i said,
they didn't miss a beat.
it was a magical evening and we were honored to be a part of it.
grey and lisa if you read this, i hope you know that we wish you nothing
but the absolute best in your married life. you deserve it.

our boy with his girl.
this is sarah. sarah also coaches at a crossfit gym and had to miss the wedding,
but she got there for the party!
these two are so well suited for each other~ and aren't they cute? we love her.
: )  : )  : )

and this is so them...

o.k. just have to say it again,
all that love, all the preparation and time and beauty that goes into each one,
feeling all the feels.
it's    just   the    best.


Friday, November 25, 2016


on this day, november 25th, 1913.
(103 years ago)
my grandmother irene isabelle hardwick baldwin
was born.

i've said this so many times, but can i just say it again, the older
i get, the more admiration i have for her.
i just want to reminisce a while today about her, her life and
her amazing legacy.

gram was one of 6 children, 5 girls and 1 boy.
grama lost her mom from pneumonia when she was still a teenager,
and her only brother died quite young too so from my
earliest memory- it was all about her 4 sisters.
edith, leona, evelyn, irene and opal- sisters~and the best of friends.
these 6 children had 2 stepmothers in their lives and
they were both mail order brides who were mean
and ended up divorcing their dad and taking most of his money with them.

my gram met her future husband through her sister evie.
evie and her new husband mahlon introduced his brother and
her sister and the sister's ended up married to brothers.
gram had the first of her 7 children when she was just 17 (and she wasn't even catholic).  
all of her siblings stopped at about 3 kids and i
remember gram telling me that her sisters would say "oh no~ you poor thing"
when she would announce another pregnancy.
galen (grampa) and gram had two boys followed by twin girls, (one of
which was my mother)-
then a 3rd daughter and they wrapped up their family with two
more sons.

my grandparents farmed their whole life and never had a lot
of money but what they did have was a whole lot of love.
they were strict parents but they were also fun.
there is nothing i love more than sitting with some of my
aunts and uncles and having them tell childhood stories.
they all laugh till they are crying.

for most of their childhood they lived in a big rented
two story farmhouse. it was built right on the banks of the chippewa river
near milan, mn.  the 7 kids learned to swim early on and
spent hours of every summer playing in that river. the house
sat atop a big hill so gram couldn't even see down where the
kids played and her sons and daughters used to tease her, that at the end of the day
she'd watch them coming up over the hill and start counting...
"one, two, three"------till she got to six and then when the last
head appeared, say, "shoot---- seven".

she'd just laugh and go along with it- but it wasn't true,
she cherished her family and always said that she wasn't sure if there
was a heaven, but it didn't really matter to her because she felt like
she'd been so blessed in her life that she was already in heaven!

when my mother died right after she turned 30, my gram and grampa
decided that they would raise my sister and i. we had two younger brothers
who a niece of my grandmas adopted. i know it was hard for them to
split us up, but they just didn't feel able to take on 4 more children.

as a mother myself i can't even imagine the heartbreak my gram must
have experienced loosing a child, but she had a strong will and she
never really let my sister and i see her suffering. she raised us to be
tough and resilient. she spent her whole life serving her family,
she grew huge gardens to feed the multitude that kept growing.
she lived long enough to know 22 grandchildren and 13 greats.

our gram sewed for all of us and she knit, embroidered, refinished furniture,
and gardened.  she taught most of us girls
to do all the things she loved. she loved nature and was a "birder" long
before the whole country fell in love with that backyard hobby.
gram loved many dogs, but she had no time for cats.
gram loved what we now call "junking" before that was cool too.
she took dawn and i to countless auctions and she'd buy
something no one else wanted and turn it into something beautiful.

we did a lot of camping as a family and those were some
of the best days of my childhood. we had a huge old canvas tent and
gram and gramps had their own side with a simple wall that
separated any of the grandkids that were sleeping
(or horsing around) on the other side. it was about the only time
i ever remember my gram just sitting around doing nothing.

one of the funniest memories about my gram is that she made most of her own
clothes and she'd make a
lovely polyester pantsuit and wear it for awhile. then the next time we saw
her she would have cut the sleeves out of the blazer and made it into a vest.
by the following summer the pants would be shorts (she was usually hot) and she'd keep
wearing those till they wore out.
it was a big joke between dawn, she and i and we loved teasing her about it.
gram could seriously make something out of nothing and she never (ever) complained
about having to do that, or wished for anything anyone else had.

 gram had a wicked sense of humor and loved
to prank her neighbor friends and dress up goofy to make us laugh.
gram rarely missed church, but religion and politics weren't talked
about around our table- she and gramps let us form our own opinions about
most things in life.

some of the rarest gifts on earth were bestowed upon me by the woman
i was lucky enough to have for both a grandmother and a mother.
she was a one in a million kind of girl who lived a simple life
and could not have been more content.

i'm remembering her with love today,
xo, beth

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

it's thanksgiving week and that means a whole bunch of reminders
that we are lucky.
we're blessed as a family,  we're blessed with great neighbors,
we live in a safe little town and
we have everything that we need plus a whole
big scoop more.

the neighborhood that we live in is about 2 blocks from
the business area of town, but we have wildlife of all
sorts parading through the yards on any given day and this
year guess what joined the deer, rabbits, fox and owl?

a flock of 16 turkeys set up residence and have become part
of the "hood".
they catch my eye if they're in our yard because there are
so many of them, and they are so BIG.
they are also really ugly~ : )
*kind of prehistoric looking if you ask me.

there must not be many predators around because i count them
every few days and there is always the same 16.
here's some photos of them trucking by. they love
flowering crab tree berries and pine cones. they will even
fly up in the trees for better snacking and boy do
they look weird sitting next to a chickadee.

: )

tee hee hee

(not our yard, don't know what our neighbor is planning to build?)

so who doesn't love a good turkey dinner? we bought ours at the grocery store
though - these turkeys are almost like our pets now. : )
(besides you can't shoot things in the city!)
~ i am going to enjoy watching these big guys all winter when
there's not a lot going on outside.
Minnesota got it's first snowfalls in the last week -some places got up
to 2 feet- and i bought black sunflower seeds and suet and hung up
my bird feeders today.
it was less than a week ago that i took these photos below of our deck,
blanketed in leaves, one season blurring into
the next.

i really hope that your heart is full this week and that even if you're
experiencing tough things, that you have people who make you feel loved,
enough to eat and a warm place to
lay your head.
i care about you and if i could i'd give each one of you a great big
sincere hug!
really i would.

*special hugs to my extended family spread out around the state.
you mean the WORLD to me.
(sheriff stacy- your call tonight made my whole week) !

the salvation bell ringers are out now doing their thing and today
while at the grocery store I noticed -really noticed- those grocery bags
already filled- that you can buy for the food shelf.
I've only walked by them a million times and never picked one up,
but today it hit me. my cart was filled to the brim with
 good food yet there are so many families struggling to
put food on the table everyday.
I put one of those bags in my cart and I can't believe how good it made me feel.
 it's funny how doing something for someone else
ends up helping you as much if not more than it does them.
i'm not saying this to pat myself on the back, i'm just saying it as a reminder to
myself to put one of those food shelf bags in my cart every time
i buy groceries because of how it made me feel and hey
if anyone reading this doesn't have an invitation, we have a giant turkey, come on over!

happy thanksgiving dear ones,
xo, beth

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

the 4 amigos ride~

so, i just want to begin by saying that i know it's been a long time since
I've written a blog post.
thank you for your patience and thank you for
checking back to see if there's something new from me finally. : )

october was insanely busy for me as a
photographer. i felt blessed, thankful,
and slightly short of breath for 5 weeks straight.
(not even kidding).
there weren't enough hours in the days and if i
wasn't out shooting a session,
i was home editing the thousands of
photos i took.

i met amazing families and lots of delightful high school seniors
and now the buzz is wrapping up and i can
think about all the things i had to put on the back
burner when business was hoppin~ like my blog.

i left off more than a month ago by telling you that
lars, our boys and our son in law were about to leave on a
"trip of a lifetime".

the big hunt.

i think the idea originated with our son in law as he's gone on
at least 2 prior elk hunting trips with his dad and brother, but
dale and our boys have also been dreaming about taking a trip
further than minnesota and hunting something other than deer, for a long time.
the boys kept saying "we want to do this with dad before he's too old to go".
they were looking for adventure and wanted to make memories to
laugh and reminisce about in the years to come.

they chose the rocky mountains of new mexico for an elk hunt and it was on~

on, in that they talked about it, texted about it, applied for licenses
(which isn't a's a lottery system) and then they waited.
low and behold they got drawn for a week during the muzzle loader season
 and the real planning began.
there were more phone calls and planning meetings,
a ton of ups boxes dropped off on our doorstep.
if one guy got some cool gear, the other 3 wanted it too.
there was no way to know if it would be 20 below and snowing,
or sunny and warm so they had to plan for both.
(and secretly keep buying gear.)

they decided to hire an outfitter near the
pecos wilderness area which was were they would be hunting.
they would be riding horses into the mountains and the outfitter would
provide a tent, cots, a wood stove and basic cooking utensils.

the guys needed to bring clothing for all weather, sleeping bags and pillows,
guns, binoculars, hunting boots, day packs, water purifiers, toiletries, all the food
they would need for a wilderness week and first aid.
the only way you can travel in the area they went to is on foot
or horseback. nothing with a wheel is allowed, not even a wheelbarrow.  they
heard about a guy having a heart attack back there and he survived, but
laid in his tent for 3 days until they could get congressional
approval to go in with a 4 wheeler to bring him out.
*there are no cell phone towers where they were going.

i was pretty worried about the first aid situation.
they thought about a lot of what could go wrong (and so did i) and
even brought a needle and thread to do stitches if one of them
sustained a gaping wound.
(that's got to be why i saw whiskey being packed in a bag- duh-
who would want to stitch someone up stone sober~ewww).

another thing they needed was a way to get meat home if they were
lucky enough to get an elk, so that meant a trailer, a chest freezer and a
generator. they borrowed the trailer, bought an old freezer and eric had
a generator.

what we all worried most about, was how lars and his spoiled/beloved
dog were going to survive the separation. his final words to me weren't
"honey i love you and am going to miss you like ca-razy", they were:
"pleeeease take good care of my dog".

"ive got this, i replied" and as they drove away, i went in the house
and told both dogs, (eric's was here too), "boys, there's a new sheriff
in town. there will be less walks and more treats... now~ it's time
for you both to go take long naps."


they left oct. 4th and took turns driving the 18 hours straight through
 to new mexico. they stayed in las vegas NM the night before heading
into the mountains and took the last real showers they'd be taking for
8 days. this little town proved to be the meth capital of the world, so
they weren't too sad to depart for the woods come morning.  

cole brought his camera and all the photo credit is his. 
i don't really know the great stories of what all
happened on the trip, but i will sprinkle in some comments they've shared here and there
to keep it interesting.

this is long, and i'm documenting it mostly for our family. if i hold
your interest till the end then big kudos to you...
and to me.

as departure day got closer, piles piled up all over.
each guy was allowed one bag that weighed no more than 70 lbs.
that would be carried in on a pack horse and then they could
each have a day pack on their own backs, so they
have to carefully consider what to take and what to leave.


 after a long drive in one truck, here's a first look at las vegas, nm.
it's not all bright lights and casinos here folks. i have a feeling the hotel they
stayed in that night was little more than the tent they were
heading towards. lol

bright and early on the morning of oct. 6th, they headed to the outfitters and
got to meet the trusty steads that would carry them to their destination.
it might be worth noting here that none of these guys is a "horse person".
between the 4 of them they may have ridden 6 times previously.
eric claims he's allergic to horses too, so he brought benadryl  and downed a
couple before he mounted up.

i would have paid money to see the horse part of their journey. i fancy myself a horse
lover, but can hardly walk after i ride, so i kept encouraging lars to do some
hip stretching to prepare for the 2.5 hour ride.
(did he do it? prob not). hey, it's your achy bones my dear.
chris (below-far right) has a look on his face like "hmmmm" how do you drive these
things again?"

i think lars's horse was jojo. doesn't my hubby look happy and ready for adventure here? : )
the leather gloves are a nice added touch hon.
jojo had an idea to just take off and go exploring on her own, and because lars also didn't know
how to drive those things, he needed help getting back to the group and
waiting till the appropriate time to leave camp.

look at those beautiful mountains in the background~

already asleep eric? that benadryl works man!

can i just say that eric is a great storyteller? one of the funniest stories i heard was
that his horse tripped and went down on it's knee just as they were leaving camp and
so for the whole 2.5 hr. trek he was kind of lame. *this my friends is not the
funny part, (poor horsie). the funny part is that every so often the horse would
stumble again and there were parts of the trip where they were hugging a
steep cliff that would have meant certain death had they been 
pitched over, so the fact that "rocky" or whatever his name was was lame and would
occasionally falter, gave eric no assurance that he would even make it to base camp.

thank you jesus for the medication that had him slightly "out of it".

crossing a stream

beautiful golden aspen trees~

so, so gorgeous.

lars, eric, chris and cole.

here it is, home sweet tent.
the tepee was supposed to be for overflow gear but my
happy hubs wasted no time moving in to his own private quarters.
away from the 3 young bucks that all snore like big bears, the
quality of his sleep had just been kicked up a notch.

say goodbye to that horse guys, from here on it's all walking.
miles and miles of hiking every day to get to higher ground.

well look at this! almost as nice as las vegas. and no nasty carpet to deal with,
just nice natural ground. there was even a cow pie (that's poop for you non-farm kids)
in the tent, that they just left.
cole said they laughed many times about what a fit i would have
had about that.
this looks very safe and clean to me.
absolutely mountain lion and bear proof.

settled in, let the fun begin.

this was "their" stream. this stream provided them all their drinking and
cooking water and they fished in it a bit and washed up in it too.

lars had some in a water bottle after he got home and he wanted me
to drink some so i could experience it. i did and it was pretty good.
it tasted like... well, water.

they brought basic fishing gear and gave that a whirl and i think
this was their only catch. one fish taco coming up.

lars, eric and chris

eric and chris


cole's catch

eric sawing fire wood.


self timers come in real handy

shower water warming up?

i think cole may have inherited my love for creative images...

this is also one of my favorite stories, every day cole made "mountain potpourri"
and boiled it on the old stove to make the tent smell better.
(i would have just thrown out the cow pie- but hey- nice touch cole).

they did have a day when they were out hunting and rain rolled in. i guess it
was magical to watch it come in over the mountain peaks.

one night a low pressure system  also rolled in and it caused breathing problems.
lars woke up in his tepee, could not breath and was sure he was having a heart attack. I guess he could not
get any air in his lungs and was pretty sure that was how it was all goin down.
I asked him if he woke up the boys in the nearby tent for help and guess what~
nope, he just laid there scared and gasping till morning and then found out
eric had had a similar experience in the other tent. he too was freaked out, he
too woke no one, but at least he had an inhaler along that helped some.
boys will be boys and i guess that means you just suck it up
if you think you're dying?
really guys?
(they didn't know that the air pressure could do this to you i guess). scary.

the next series of photos are from when they were out hunting.
they walked an average of 10-15 miles a day.
chris was the drill sergeant waking them all up at 4:30 to
get some coffee going and get on the trails. they paired off most days
in sets of two and then when they were close to their destination they'd split
up and go off alone to hunt.
they had heavy day packs full of gear and portable stoves and they'd eat
on the trails during the day.
*sounds scary to me. how did they find their way back to camp?
they'd leave in the dark at about 5 a.m. and come back down from the mountain
after dark again.
gps's are a wonderful thing i guess.

cole's lunch cooking.



back at camp.
at the end of the wooden tent poles, the guys rigged up a

there is a pic of chris showering, but i was pretty sure
he'd rather i not share it.

one day chris decided to head to a different mountain than the
larson boys so he's not in this next group of photos.

i seriously love these photos of dale and his boys the day they climbed a very
big mountain together.
cole chose to take a straight up route that was brutal and
more challenging, while eric and lars went a different way for a
longer, but less steep assent. cole got to the top way ahead of them and that allowed him to
photograph them as they climbed.

cole's first sighting of them... just specks
this doesn't look that steep but the guys said it was. very.

i actually get a little choked up when i look at this picture.
lars taught his sons to love and respect nature and this
picture represents all the years of being in the great outdoors together bonding and
challenging each other~ getting up before the birds to sit in cold
deer stands and suffering hypothermia  together on cold frozen ice.
sometimes catching or bagging some critter for us to eat, but a lot of days coming home with
nothing but cold feet and more stories to tell.
then getting up and doing it all over again,
just for the experience.

oh i should mention that eric and lars worked really hard physically to be ready
for this adventure. lars lost about 25 lbs. and eric lost some too. they walked
and ran up hills and ate good food. chris stepped up his game too and was more
than ready for the hard work.
cole is a crossfitter and all he needed to do to be ready was show up.




it was a good day on the top of that big mountain- they did it.

it was unseasonably warm the week they were in the mountains and
that made for pleasant hunting, but not a lot of elk around.
elk don't like it warm so they go to higher elevations and
the old freezer came back on the trailer empty, but the guys had
full hearts.
grateful for the experience of being together and experiencing this kind
of wilderness camping.

here they're all packed up and waiting for the outfitters to come with
their horses and bring them back to civilization.
they look pretty darn good don't they?
no one needed stitching up- but all 3 of the young ones
banged up their knees falling in rough terrain about the second day.
they ran out of ibuprofen and maybe had to use the whiskey?
lars fell backwards and did a bunch of backwards
somersaults down a mountain, but because he's so
"styrka" (that's "strong" in norwegian) he didn't have any
lingering injuries.
eric had a bear encounter that left him scared and
heading for camp long before dark one day and when
he tells the story it's a good one.
i know as the years go by the bear will only get bigger and closer to him.
that's the nature of a good story.
i'm just relieved as hell (yes i said hell) that it was
just a good story and nothing else.

these 4 guys get along so great and have so much fun that now they're talking about
a pheasant hunt in SD next fall.

i asked lars to bring me back a souvenir from their trip. not something tacky
from a gas station. something from nature maybe? well, chris delivered.
when they got home he threw his gear from one truck to another in record time,
(anxious to see my daughter no doubt) ; ) said "see ya"
and was heading to his truck when he stopped and came back
towards me. he pulled something out of his pocket and said, "oh beth, here's
your souvenir". it was an old horseshoe he found. i love it.

i love that boy too.
love them all...glad they had such a great time and glad they are home.


thanks for reading my short story,
I will now resume my regularly scheduled life,

xo, beth