Project 365 Week 20

Such a busy week!  Between the final preparations for the Grupo Liberdade De Capoeira Batizado to the events themselves, our little ones were on the go, focused and determined! And I loved the challenge of capturing the moments collectively and individually (take a look at the post from 19 May for more).   Trips to the Doctor and finding ways to occupy Little Miss who is supposed to stay still made for more excitement!  And I have to say the beautiful blooms on my Mothers Day plant made for a huge smile mid-week.

Project 365 Week 19

Such an exciting week in our household!  Kentucky Derby, Mothers Day and our first baby broken bone – I can’t begin to tell you!  A week of highs and lows, but mostly fun and definitely with some fantastic stories!

Thursday was also 12 May – it would have been my Mom’s 69th birthday.  The day was thoughtful, full of reminiscing and quite a bit of nursing as Little Miss broke her collar bone the day before.  My Mom was my light and I still wish I could pick up the phone to call, get advice or a big virtual hug.  My baby girl still dreams of “Grammy in the gold” so I know she is watching over us.

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Mom and I in The Netherlands, c 2007 at the North Seas Jazz Festival


I am excited to share the most recent accomplishment in the Smith Family… my little ones progressed in Capoeira and got new belts!  A Batizado is an annual event (and reunion) for the Capoeira Community and for us was a series of workshops, exhibitions and a troca del cordel (belt ceremony).  The kids even had the chance to perform at the Youth Showcase during the Newark 350 celebration!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and maybe one day my little ones will be as amazing as the long term practitioners we saw (Mestras, Contra Mestres, Professors, Instructors and more from all over the Americas)!

Little miss joined a Dance workshop (and she was overjoyed to be able to “shake her booty”!) and Little mstr. was able to play in the Roda to his hearts content!

Many thanks to Professora Amazonas and the Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira for such a fantastic event and connection to the Capoeira Community.



Project 365 Week 18

Although not exciting, I certainly enjoy trying to challenge myself to find new stories to tell.  Although this week was more mundane than others, it’s my story.  I was happy to be home after a trip, and to capture a busy weekend of our every day.  And we finished up the week getting ready for a party by spray painting horse shoes — the kids first experience and no one ended up covered in gold!


6 on the 6th (April)

I loved seeing the beautiful work of the photographers that participated in the 6 on the 6th  Blog Circle last month!  The different perspectives, the interesting subjects and the talent combined to make great ‘reading’!  I hope you enjoyed them as well.

April was a month of highs and lows — and a for me a reminder of the power of artistry in life!

My family had such an amazing time in Arizona… the kids enjoyed the time with Mommie and Daddy — and Scottsdale, Phoenix and Sedona provide a great variety of things to do and see!  We had an amazing time learning about art and culture through museums, tours and bumming around!

Then I had a date with my husband and we were able to ‘run away’ to New Orleans for the weekend — so much fun.  A great city, with wonderful music and quality time, can’t be beat!

On the flip side, the world lost an amazing artist… Prince Rogers Nelson was from my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota and created a massive part of the playlist that makes up my life.  I don’t think I’ve been as shaken about the loss of any music icon as I was about Prince.  As I’ve listened to his music over the past few weeks, I’ve been amazed all over again at the phenomenal talent and gift he shared with the world.  A striking reminder of 1) the role that art and music play as foundational elements to life  and 2) to live live to the fullest, being authentic and pursuing your dreams!

All the more inspiration to invest the time to develop my passion…

Here are some of my favorites from the month of April!  From Arizona to New Orleans to New York and some good family time, it was fully of art, history and wonderful experiences!

I hope you enjoy and don’t forget to browse around and look at some of my other posts (and my website); then click on over to see the fantastic work of Jenna Donato Photography and the other photographers in our Blog Circle.






Family Tree!

My children have an assignment for school — to build a family tree!  As they both have the same assignment, we have two trees to do. So we decided to build one for my side of the family and one for  my husbands. This has turned into quite the obsession for me.  I am back on Ancestry websites with a fierce focus and determination to build a picture of our family for the kids to share and to truly understand.  It’s been fun! Digging into old databases and family photos I like to picture the story of their lives.  My Mothers side of the family is very small now given that most of the people I grew up with have died.  That makes my focus even stronger so I can document this history before it fades away.

I’ve been all over, but if anyone has any leads on finding out about Black families in Florida (& Seminole families too) and Maryland in the 1800s and early 1900s please let me know!  There are portions of my family that are a mystery and I am still trying to figure out how to solve them.

Have you documented your own family history- it’s fun, interesting and a great activity to do with the kids!  After the last push we made as a family to cut, glue and decorate, my little ones were super happy with there trees!  They were even sad to take them to school because they wanted to keep them to talk about at home.  My ‘babies’ love photos and talking about our past, hopefully yours do too!


Project 365 Week 15

I love looking back at my photos from last years Project 365 and although I didn’t officially “finish,” the memories that come to mind as I look through the photos I did capture are wonderful.  I am making good progress this year too – not perfect, but pretty darn good, and as I tell my children, I am “being the best I can be!”  I will keep striving and enjoy as my craft and my story continue to develop.

This week was a big one – between a busy weekend, a big trip and nice family time, I love looking at how life is shaping up…

Arizona Trippin’

We spent our Spring Break in Arizona.   For me, it was a chance to enjoy a lovely place and to relive memories of home.  Although I grew up in Minnesota, my family spent the better part of 20 years in Phoenix and Sedona and I enjoyed  sharing experiences old and new with my little ones in the Valley of the Sun.

If you have time in Phoenix, our family would highly recommend:

  • The Children’s Museum of Phoenix!  It’s an amazing experiential museum for children with the most lovely people who play all day for a living.  From the guy who helped little mama build a castle out of huge soft blocks to the women in the art studio they were amazing.   The kids ran, climbed jumped and read their way through.
  • The Musical Instrument Museum! <full stop>!  The history of music contained in one building with a nod to current artists too (Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift have exhibits).  The halls are organized by culture and then country and they have the neatest self guided headphone tours that the kids followed along!
  • The Phoenix Art Museum. Lovely mix of historic and modern art.  We lucked up and found it on Wednesday afternoon (only donation for admission) and not too crowded.  It was great because they had a scavenger hunt for kids and that kept our little ones attention for almost 3 hours!

We also enjoyed:

  • Butterfly Wonderland — although little mama was disappointed that a butterfly didn’t land on her.  (I think it’s because it was too hard for the butterflies to catch her.)
  • The Rainforest Cafe– although kitschy–was a great way to use up some time and have dinner before our late night flight – consider my kids mind blown at the lightning and the moving animals!
  • Lots of time at the pool – making friends with business and leisure travelers  (whether they wanted to or not) and the hotel staff. My kids were making play dates to meet their friends at the pool (not one less than 45 yrs old).

And the last bit… we had some wonderful meals in Scottsdale and they were all super kid friendly:

  • The Breakfast Club for Brunch
  • The Mission for Lunch
  • The Sugar Bowl for Ice Cream
  • Soul Cafe (with a large selection of gluten free items too).

Project 365 Week 14

Another week and I am still hanging in there… hoping to continue and reach another big milestone.  Day 100 is in striking distance!  It’s great practice and I am enjoying finding the mundane moments and trying to tell an interesting story with them.  As my great grandfather would say, “Some days are diamonds and some days are stones!”




6 on the 6

I am excited to join the 6 on the 6 Blog Circle.  It’s made up of a fantastic global group of photographers who share the same camera and same love for Photography!!  Each month we will be posting some of our favorites and I hope you enjoy!  When you finish my post, don’t forget to follow the link to continue through the circle and see some amazing work from my fellow bloggers.

By way of introduction to those who don’t know me, I am Melani Wilson Smith.  I’ve made photos my whole life, but since getting my first DSLR in 2011, I’ve spent a lot of time and paid a great deal of attention to improving my craft.  I love candid storytelling through pictures and I love the feelings they evoke.

I try not to have the camera focused on my kids too much, but they certainly end up in most of my photos.  I am developing my style, but usually spend time documenting life with an occasional opportunity for glamour.

Please let me know what you think – comments are welcome and I’d love your feedback on my story.

Don’t forget to head on over to see the artistry of Elaina B from Bucks County, Pennsylvania — the next up in our blog circle for this month…

Elaina B Photography