As I was doing my big new years sort and purge, to my computer files, I came across some of my favorite photos of 2014. I know a lot of these are posted on my Projects/Photography page or alternately on Instagram, but I thought I'd curate my best of here, since it will give me a chance to reflect a bit about them.

In July I got to visit my ridiculously beautiful sister in Oklahoma. She indulged my hungry shutter and me while we walked around the luscious Philbrook Museum of Art.

Even though many, many of my most favorite memories are connected to her big smile and laughing face, I thought these reflective ones were so lovely and so like her; full of a gentle, quiet spirit, a stillness which is full of strength.

In the Fall, I got to do some maternity shots for this incredibly dear to my heart family. These were my favorites. Of course, this happened to be a sad day for big brother Eddie, who was still mourning the impending loss of his only-child-ness, so we don't get a good look at his adorable, if woebegone face. It's okay, bud, we all have days like this. 

But it would be a shame and a waste to post pictures of this family without fully demonstrating how magically cute the children are, so let me just show the world another of my favorite 2014 photos, and the photo that currently holds the Mandy Padgett world record for most cuteness possible in one photo...

A photo posted by @mandypadgett on

And, in case you were wondering, baby number two arrived in December and followed in her brother's remarkable footsteps. 

A photo posted by @mandypadgett on

Yeah. See? Magical, magical cuteness. 

Okay. Moving on.

Here's a few of Beech Grove and The Kid. He stuck around for about four months, from breakfast to bedtime, and we made the most of it. We went camping in July and he and Aaron built a dutch bucket tomato growing system. I dragged him to the library, which to me is both sacred and magical. I'm not sure he shared my unwavering sense of devotion and bliss about the experience but I think he enjoyed it at least a little. I let him pick out books and we worked on reading and vocabulary which he enjoyed almost not at all. Probably his favorite; we introduced him to Mexican food and a favorite ritual became riding with the windows down and the Country music up to the local Mexican place. But at the beginning of August his dad got sick and school started back up and one day he just stopped coming. He came by at the beginning of December though and I was glad to see his face. 

You can see below that I managed to get at least one excited face out of him during the mandatory library trips.

A photo posted by @mandypadgett on

Finally, a few less cohesive but dear shots . These pictures each in some way represent for me the fact that if you want to live a beautiful life, sometimes you have to go looking for it and other times you have to stop and notice it right where you are. Like the one with the Koi fish? I found out this Summer that there's an amazing, gorgeous tropical greenhouse at a park about four minutes from my house. I'd lived here for three years before I finally made a point to visit, but I was stimulated and refreshed for my effort to just stop and see something that was already under my nose. 

Or the shot of lake Michigan, which I made a point to go out of my way to get when I went to Chicago to see the incomparable @pennyandsparrow. Or my amazing, snuggly dog, Wally, who every day offers me love and enthusiasm. Each picture reminds me that life is good even when things are hard. 

This was getting rather long, so I decided to break this post into a two-parter. In the next few days I'll make another post featuring a few from the apple orchard, time with my dad and more from some of my professional projects from this past year.