Heller Ritz Photography
A day without Sunshine is like, you know, night. ~Steve Martin


Thank you for stopping by! Here, you can join me in my eternal quest for sunshine. You will find posts of my latest photography ventures, peek into the lives of my private sunshine subjects, and learn about my quest for spreading kindness Because of Heller. I would love it if you left a comment to let me know you were here, and to share your sunshine too! If you would like to follow my journey, scroll down to Spread Some Sunshine and join me.

xo Hayley

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Waiting Patiently

Much like The Poky Little Puppy, little boys are often busy..."roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble"...there is much to do. So, the puppies waited patiently (just where the little boy had left them) for his return.

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With so much to do, I too have been a little bit absent from blogging. I hope you are waiting patiently. The New Year holds so many possibilities!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Don't Let it Be Over

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Our nativity calendar is complete, but that doesn't mean that Christmas has to end. Below are some of the lyrics to one of my most favorite Christmas songs. Before I put my holiday CDs away at the end of each year, I play it one last time--a reminder.

If you don't know it, it's worth a listen on YouTube (see below).

Christmas Time Again by Extreme

Christmas always goes too fast
It's up to us to make it last
And all I want for Christmas is love
Come that morning and I see you smile
It only lasts a little while
How come we seem to push it all aside?

St. Nick seems to disappear
He brings us toys but leaves a tear
The day is done but the spirit should remain
It's times like these we need a change
A calendar to rearrange
I'll make sure it'll last all year.

Got to give a little more
Remember what we're thankful for
My love, my God
Let's pretend just this time
Let's keep the flow this time
That our Christmases will last all year!

Don't you know that it's
Christmas time again and
I'm happy for you
You know it comes and goes
So let's pretend that it'll last all year.

Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel

Friday, December 24, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear? Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Like Taking Candy AND a Baby!

My sweet little nephew came down from the frosty North for another visit this week. Oh how I have missed him. It seems we miss so much not living close to the ones we love. With the little ones, I think it is all those "first" misses that are the hardest...

...first little buds of teeth, first laughter, first steps, first words...

Lucky for me I didn't miss this important one.

First Candy Cane!

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Oh you candy cane was sweet, my darling Teagan, but YOU are sweeter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Little Miss Brynn

Shiny and new. She holds all the baby secrets. And, although she was wide-eyed and watchful during her entire shoot, she wouldn’t reveal a single one. Welcome to the world Miss Brynn. It was a pleasure capturing such a tiny spark of sunshine. May your light shine brighter and brighter.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

I Heart Faces - Pets (Something Different)

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The Foreman. The Alpha Dog. The Senior in Charge.

Sam was Heller's dog. They had an understanding. Sam belonged to Heller. Heller belonged to Sam. When the lights went out at the end of the day, we could always find Sam lying in Heller's doorway. It was obvious who held Sam's heart.

In 2007, when we lost our Sunshine, Sam lost his too. I think he decided that no other little boy could ever measure up to Heller, and so he decided not to have a boy. The only other little boy in our house confuses him. Nicholas, a puppy-crazed boy, is often a little over-enthusiastic, loud, and rough (not this old dog's favorite things). So, Sam spends most of his days avoiding Nicholas.

Today was different. Maybe it was the cold weather. Or, perhaps Sam was inspired by the jingle jangle of his holiday trim. Today, Sam found the boy interesting.

Today's theme at I Heart Faces is Pets. I am sure you expected to see Nicholas with Meme (his usual side-kick), but today I am trying something different--just like Sam.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Santa Scope

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Sometimes, you have to take, "You better watch out!" very seriously.

Friday, December 10, 2010

On the FIRST day of Christmas

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Dear Lord,

I was making my list the other day. You know the one. I like to call it my “Yule Log.” It reminds me of all of those things that I must do in order to prepare for the approaching holiday season. There is the decorating, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, parties, and even the yearly visit to Santa Claus.

Every activity had a time and a place. Everything was scheduled perfectly. And, I was significantly proud that I would be able to accomplish it all before the clock struck midnight on the last day of the year.

As I reread my list, Lord, I found something missing. Not only were YOU not at the top of my list, but YOU weren’t on the list at all! I was so wrapped up in paper, tape, and ribbon, that I forgot the most important gift of all—the One whose birthday we are celebrating. I was so tangled up in buying lights and decorations, I forgot the Light of the World.

Remind us, Lord, when making our lists this season, to place YOU at the top, to prepare our hearts for YOU, and to visit YOU first.

You, Lord, are the meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas in the Air Again...

It doesn't take the arrival of Santa on Christmas Eve to bring out the "dancin' sugar plums." Just add music, and this little sugar plum can't be stopped!

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Movin' to the music of the neighbor's light show.
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Rockin' to the tunes of the city's street music.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas in the Air

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Do you have one of those neighbors? We do! In fact, we are blessed with one on each side. When Christmas time rolls around, we often say, “We are surrounded by Griswalds.” What does this mean? It means that our neighbors pull out all the stops when it comes to hanging lights, and oozing good cheer. From reindeer to candy canes, and everything in between, their homes sing with spirit (one of them literally sings).

We are fortunate to have neighbors like these. Not just at Christmas time, but the whole year through, their hearts are always full of cheerfulness and good will. They are so full; in fact, we think they simply burst open at Christmas onto their lawns.

We consider ourselves lucky to be nestled within such joyfulness.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All is Calm...

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I might not send Christmas cards this year. Truly.

No, I am not a scrooge. Trust me when I tell you, I made my list. I checked it…ummm…more than twice. And, Christmas cards were right up there on Page 3. But, the days are rapidly flying by, and I am starting to feel a little bit snowed under.

Today’s kindness reminder at Because of Heller is, Be Kind to Yourself. And, I think I am going to try to practice what I preach. This year, I am going to have a Reality-based Holiday. I’m ready to lose the expectations. That means, I won’t make Good Housekeeping’s Most Beautifully Decorated Homes list, but perhaps I also won’t be the highest strung decoration in the house either.

My husband will thank me. My kids will thank me. And, their smiles will shine so brightly that nobody will notice the house anyway.

Anyway, this year, I might not send Christmas cards.

Note to my family: This doesn’t let you off the hook for holiday photos.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Great Day for a Party!

Today, Nicholas celebrated turning four with many of his most wonderful friends!

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Tonight, Nicholas introduced "Stuffy" to all of his "friends" at home.

Thank you to all who joined our celebration! We had a wonderful time that I am certain Nicholas will NEVER forget!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photostory Friday - Sharing Kindness Through Books and Reading

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Today is Photo Story Friday. Today, instead of telling a story through photos, I am sharing a photo of a story teller. Mr. Bear has been telling the story of "The Night Before Christmas" in our house for the last few years. Before we got Mr. Bear, however, we had an even more amazing story teller in our home--Heller.

At the age of three, Heller was able to recite "The Night Before Christmas" to anyone who would listen. His ability to recite the story came from his love of having the books read to him from his "The Night Before Christmas" book collection.

In addition to sharing this photo, I am sharing a kindness idea. And, I am reminding you to share kindness Because of Heller on December 22nd. One way to share kindness is through book reading and donating books. Once again, you can read more about Heller and kindness day here.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kindness Because of Heller - December 1

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So, December is here. And December 22 is quickly approaching. I am so appreciative of those who have come to capture sunshine with me this year. This month, I hope to bring more kindness and sunshine Because of Heller. This month, I will dedicate to kindness in memory of my little boy, Heller, who left us in 2007 to join his Father in Heaven, but who left behind so much sunshine and kindness because he was here.

I hope you will join me at Spreading Random Acts of Kindness Because of Heller, as well as here at Capturing Sunshine. You may find duplicate posts and messages, as we work to spread the word. Please feel free to share along with us.

So, today is December 1, 2010, and today's kindness reminder is: Play with your children. Make them laugh. Show them your heart, and let them show you theirs. There is no greater force that can ever pull that away!

To read more about the kissing bears and Heller you can go here.

Word of the Day Wednesday - SNOW JOB

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Santa: "Ho! Ho! Ho! Well, if it isn't Nicholas! Have you been a good boy this year?"
Nicholas: "Yes I have!"

Santa: "Do you always listen to your Mommy, and do what she tells you?"
Nicholas: "Yes I do!"

Santa: "Are you especially kind to your animals, never laying on top of them or locking them in your room to stay with you?"
Nicholas: "Yep I am!"

Santa: "Do you always pick up the toys I brought you last year, instead of leaving them for Daddy or Jenny to pick up?"
Nicholas: "Yes I do!"

Santa: "Do you finish your dinner before you cry for dessert?"
Nicholas: "Yes."

Santa: "Are you SURE you do all these things?"
Nicholas: "Um...Santa?

Santa: "Yes Nicholas?"

Nicholas: "I love you SO MUCH!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Only a Hippopotamus Will Do...


Monday, November 29, 2010

I Heart Faces - Black and White Scenic Landscapes

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This week's I Heart Faces challenge reminded me to start capturing more landscapes. You should check out some of the amazing ones that were summited this week. Wow!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This is What FOUR Looks Like!

Happy Birthday Baby!

Happy Birthday to my baby big boy!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Cheer is Sincere - Getting Ready!

Hey! Did you hear? We got snow flurries in Florida today! Some people call them snow "Flakes!" But, the only real "Flake" in this photo, of course, is Nicholas.


Seriously, Nicholas worked very hard to prepare our yard for the holiday season.

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He worked up quite a sweat--literally!

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What? You don't believe that our weather is cold enough for snow? Tell that to Escar ho ho ho, who needs a hat to keep him warm.

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Don't worry. It wasn't all work and no play. Jenny stopped to smell the flowers.

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Did she know they weren't real? It's hard to say, and I never asked her. She was too busy helping Nicholas build our snowman.

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Christmas is coming, ready or not. When you live in Florida, it's hard to tell for sure. Sometimes, you have to help it along. Although it may seem less than genuine, we want you all to know, our cheer is sincere!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Heart Faces - Paper

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It's all about the Popcorn!

A chipmonk-cheeked, contented Nicholas sits with his paper-bag-filled, movie theater popcorn as he watches his afternoon shows on what he refers to as the "rectangle" TV. Yep! It's almost like the actual movie theater.

"No fair!" claims Nicholas as he states his case for his need to view the latest Harry Potter movie in lieu of staying home with his very favorite babysitter. Has Nicholas read the books? Nope. Does he even know who Harry Potter is? Not a bit. But, what Nicholas DOES know, is that movies=popcorn.

So, what is a mom to do? I'll let you in on my secret. I simply buy the large popcorn for hubby, Jenny, and me, and when the movie ends, we grab a refill on the way out the door. It's a total win-win!!

This week's I Heart Faces theme, Paper, was quite a challenge. I am in awe of the many wonderful photos posted. You will be too! Check them out here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

His Word Wednesday - More Sunset Silhouettes

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Monday, November 15, 2010

I Heart Faces - Silhouettes

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There is no holding Meme back from showing off her sexy silhouette after a day of pampering at the local grooming salon! I Heart Faces' Silhouette theme gives her just the opportunity to strut her stuff right into the sunset!

You really need to check some of the other silhouette photos this week. Some of them are truly spectacular!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Photostory Friday - The "Thing"

We always wondered if Nicholas would have a “thing.” We would make a purchase of some blanket, stuffed toy, or other object and think, “Could this be it? Do we want this to be ‘the thing’?” We tried to encourage some of our favorite selections, keeping in mind that Linus has been carrying his blanket around for more than 50 years. Of course, it would never be our decision. It would be entirely up to Nicholas.

In the last few months, a certain someone has become an important member of our family. “Whiskers” has joined us on many an outing. Nicholas, the consummate puppy wannabe, has recently grown very fond of several of his puppy friends including, Big Ears, Red Bow, Red Dog, and Red Nose, but Whiskers reigns supreme because he was made with love, by Nicholas.

Meet Whiskers.

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A single string dangling from his face gives Whiskers his name.

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Sometimes, Whiskers forgets that we should "stick together." Then, we have to go back for him.

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Whiskers smiles for Mommy's camera.

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Nicholas's sister, Jenny, bought Whiskers a new sweatshirt to keep warm during our nighttime walks on the golf course.

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Whiskers loves the trolly--almost as much as Nicholas.

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Whiskers cracks Nicholas up when he yells, "Go Faster! I love the wind in my ears!"