Monday, January 9
I'm not chained to the notion that I need to make yearly New Year's Resolutions. There are years I don't really think too much about it, and years I have all sorts of get-up-and-go and make lists and pretty journal pages and everything. And there are years that the overwhelming hunger for change and renewal happens mid-year-- a random hot July day or something. There is no pattern, really.
I think I've experienced enough disillusionment with my own passion for real change that when I get that bug-- that itch and hunger to start making lists of things I want to try, things I want to change, things I want to improve upon, things I want to fix and make and throw away.... I immediately feel cynical, and I try to shrug and say, "Well, resolutions don't really work anyway, so..."
There's something really cool about giving in to that itch and letting the lists come. Pouring out all those ideas that have suddenly come, freeflowing, to my mind and heart and soul. And maybe what I need to tell myself when the doubt and cynicism try to plug up that flow of thought is that there is a gift in just the wanting of change. That there is something happening within me that needs to be recognized and honored. And even if those lists and notes and impassioned paragraphs I write don't end up amounting to much in the long run... if I once again fail to remain disciplined or passionate about those things... If real life creeps back in and I fall back into old tired patterns... Well, there is still a gift in having those times where the excitement comes readily. And maybe, just maybe, each time I have that drive to TRY, there is some actual growth happening. And even when I fall back to old patterns, maybe I'm just a little better, a little further along than I was before.
All that to say, I've been pretty dormant in the "Lets Make Plans and Resolutions" department for a while now. But as 2016 has rolled over to 2017, I am feeling that old hunger awaken. I am feeling that tickle for NEW WAYS and new thoughts and new plans. I am feeling stiff and dusty and ready to stretch and try some new things. I've found myself trying to tamp it down--- that old cynicism whispering, "Why bother?" But the universe keeps sending more signals that maybe its time to have faith that there really are things I can work on and find satisfaction in trying to change. A class here, an online challenge there... a friend recommending an empowering discourse I should listen to. And it's time for me to just give in and let myself feel excited. Feel inspired. And start moving in the direction it all seems to be pushing me.
Funnily enough, the things I want to work on aren't really tangible... nothing any of you would probably even notice. I want to get rid of the old-- old ideas and crutches... old STUFF in my garage... Old hangups. And I want to work on actively seeking inspiration. Being ACTIVE in my own life overall, really. Not just passively watching and waiting for these motherhood "trenches" to get easier. Ha! I hear they don't ever get easier. So I don't want to waste any more time making excuses and "waiting". I want to live with intention again. Oh, and I want to learn to cook good beef. Really, that's the only major external, tangible goal for 2017. Ha ha!
In seasons past, I've wanted to MAKE ART and FINISH PHOTO BOOKS and SEW MORE and do COUCH25K and on and on... and those wishes haven't gone away... I still want all those things. But they're not what's "itching" right now. And maybe if I go back to the basics... tackle my foundations first, then maybe those more surface wishes will more readily find their way to my life.
I feel good. Excited. Hopeful. Nervous. I haven't felt this raw and unsure in a long time. I thought I'd figured myself out for the most part. But it turns out you're always relearning. And I'm back at the beginning again, ready to be retaught.
Maybe you're feeling it too? What does the beginning of this new year feel like for you? Are you more on the side of "why bother?" or are you feeling like you're ready for radical change? What are you wanting to do about it?
Regardless of how our paths may differ or cross, here's to a new year and new adventures ahead. I feel hopeful, for all of us.
(photo of Larkin and Fiona unrelated to today's topic. But we can always use more "cute" in our day, so there ya go. Taken October 2016.)
Posted by Emily S. at 10:39 AM
Saturday, January 7
Larkin at Four Months:
- Well, first of all, I did NOT give this girl permission to turn four months old. I begged her and begged her to stay three months older just a little longer... It's been such a sweet, sweet age, and I am already worried I'm forgetting it all too quickly. Stay tiny a bit longer, Larkin Clementine. *sniff*
- But since December 30th came and went, I suppose I can give a list of my girl's current tricks and activities.
- First, she is 11 lbs 13 oz and 23.5 inches long. She is maintaining her tiny growth curve of 7%, and thriving well, so no worries there!
- Larkin has found both her hands, and her hands have found each other, so they grab at each other and make their way to her mouth all day long.
- She is getting really good at grabbing at toys and things. They make their way to her mouth, too.
- She's on the edge between 4 oz bottles and 6 oz bottles... I think she's currently in a growth spurt, actually.
- She really only nurses during our second-half-of-the-night co-sleeping, so while Id normally be ready to transition from that couch co-sleep thing to a crib full-time, this time I'm feeling reluctant to end our sweet second-half-of-the-night snuggles. I know it will be the end of nursing, and I'm not ready. She and I are both really content with the status quo.
- Larkin loves the "baby in the mirror" and anyone holding her in that mirror, too.
- She is so happy and engaged when she's on her playmat. She manages to scoot herself all over the place within that small area, even without rolling just yet.
- Larkin smiles, coos, and half-laughs, especially at her siblings. The other kids are really finally interested in her and have merged her into their worldview at last. Like, she's passed muster and is one of them. ♥
- She is wearing 0-3mo clothing and some NB pants, still, but is creeping out of both of those things... still almost too small for 3-6mo, but the current set of clothes are getting snug. She is in size 2 diapers, though she does still fit size 1 if needed.
- Larkin is still swaddled and still sleeps in her rock n play, and I know its time to transition her out of both of those things... But she's SO predictable and wonderful with both, and we don't have her crib set up yet, and I'm dreading the rocky transition we're probably in for, and so I kind of just push it all to the back burner. Ack.
- Same with her binkie. She loves it... she does better with it... but she doesn't keep it in well still, so I still "scarf" it in. But once I take away the swaddle, I cannot scarf it in anymore-- too dangerous to have that loose fabric around her with her able to roll and pull it and such. So once the swaddle is gone, it's gonna be "binkie fall-out" drama every time, and.... ugh, I get knots in my stomach thinking about it. Back Burner'ed there, too.
- (Ha! I just reviewed her month 3 post and these issues were mentioned then, too, so CLEARLY it's something I am stewing over. And not yet ready to do anything about. Sorry for the repeat!)
She's just such a good baby. As textbook and predictable as I could have hoped for... When she fusses, I know why. And when she is fed and rested, she is just happy and chill and sweet. If I could keep here RIGHT HERE, just for a few more months... No need for her to learn rolling or sitting up or how to sleep without a swaddle or binkie... No need for teeth or a high chair and baby food.... That can all wait a while longer. I want her just like this, for another few months. Let me really soak it in, so that none of it fades from me because new things keep happening to overwrite the current things. I want to memorize every single thing about her right now. I want the muscle memory of holding her, both when I rock her to sleep and when I play with her during her awake times. I want my littlest one, my youngest, my last to stay here, like this, until I know for certain I've soaked it all in. And then she can grow a bit. But then I want my 6-month old Larkin, then 9-month-old Larkin, and 1, and 2 and 3, and 4-year old Larkin to keep giving me more time than is humanly possible, for each age, each stage... She is my last, and I want to hold on and slow down and breathe it all in before it's completely different.
But I know I don't get to make that call. And I know it's already changing so fast. Not just with her, but with my other babies. And so I continue to take photo after photo and little silly video clips and I hope its enough.... to help me remember when everything is yet again completely changed. Ah, the curse of being so deeply sentimental. A beautiful burden. ♥
Enough of that melancholy... Here are the rest of Larkin's 4-month images, with her many faces, her kicky legs, and her cute little fists that grab at each other and find her mouth again and again. Enjoy!
Posted by Emily S. at 11:23 PM
Saturday, December 31
I'm sitting by the glow of my Christmas tree, holding a sleeping baby in the ring sling and compiling one favorite image from every session I shot this year.... and it's been a quiet and warm-fuzzy way to spend some of my New Year's Eve. I shot a bit less this year because of Larkin's arrival, but not much less! I think this amounts to 52 separate shooting occasions... (Well, and while I only shared two of Larkin's posed newborn images, I did her photos over several days, so if we counted each of those separately, the number 52 would be higher.)
I feel incredibly lucky to get to do this as a way of helping support our family. It's not a full-time gig, and it's not a full-time salary, for sure... but it helps. And I feel so much joy and satisfaction in doing it, time after time, year after year. I am not ever going to be one of the best... But I still grow a little every year in my art and in my ability to see into the heart of the people I get to photograph. I love real emotion, I always love the vivid close-up above any other pose/setup, and I still tend towards safe, clean flat light as my default... though I am always trying to push myself to get uncomfortable and grow. I love every age and stage of the children I photograph, and I love the unique challenges and idiosyncrasies that go with those ages. And I'm still a fast-talker, fast-shooter, slow emailer. (*oof. So lame.)
So here's to another year of Emily Southerland Photography (my eighth, if we go by my business license start year!!). Thank you, clients and friends. I love you guys. I love getting to be a part of your family's story, sometimes more than once.
Please enjoy my favorites from every session, January through just yesterday (an end-of-year wedding!) including any that I shot of my own kiddos this year. Do you see anyone you know? Do you have any favorites? I'd love to hear!
Posted by Emily S. at 10:55 PM
Sunday, December 25
First, here's our Christmas card this year....featuring photos from big cameras and phone cameras, and the talents of my friends Erin Duggin and Kate Benson. I love how in nine photos, it tells our year's story pretty well.
Second, here are photos from earlier this month, with the help of Erin Duggin again. It was a happy day in early December, and we headed to go pick out our fresh fir tree right after this little minisession.
Third, I had time and a wild hair yesterday, so I wrangled my four (four?! Four!!) kids into some quick, "come as you are, except let's add a hat" Christmas snaps. I'm so delighted with what we got. They're cute, they're real, they're basic, and they are TOTALLY THEM right this moment.
Merry Christmas, my beloveds. If you're reading this, trust me: I cherish you. Feel free to leave a comment even if you are a lurker coming out of the woodwork. I'd love to wish you a specific and personal happy new year. Here's to the year that grew Larkin and completed our family. Onward to new ideas and fresh plans for 2017. Much love from us!!
Posted by Emily S. at 1:16 PM
Tuesday, December 20
Today at home, we had nowhere we needed to go. And Larkin Clementine was so sweet and soft and perfectly edible in her new fleece romper that I decided I needed some big camera photos.
She eventually lost interest, obviously.
I also thought to take a context photo, just for fun.... So here is where I shoot my girl's photos when I do her monthly milestone images and the periodic "for fun" photos. Here, in the good light, among the laundry and the cat food and Fiona nearby, usually.
So while I had the big camera out, I decided I might as well grab a couple of Quinn as he was that moment: pajamas and bedhead, playing race car games on Joe's iPad while in his fave spot in the living room:
And then a couple with me in them... awkward angles when you try to wield a 5DIII with a massive 24-70 lens on it for "selfie" shots. Haha! And Larkin really REALLY was done with the whole project.
So there you have a small piece of our day today, at home. Nothing unusual... But a good gig nonetheless. I feel like I am enveloped in this role of "mother of four" these days, in the best possible way. Like this cloak is starting to fit right. I think I like how it feels.
Anyway. It is now 11:34pm. That's at least 30 minutes past when I should be tucking myself into bed. We are still living the "new baby sleep schedule" life and if I don't put myself to bed by 11 (ideally 10:30), I am pretty exhausted the next day. So time to click "publish" and wish you all a good night. ♥
Posted by Emily S. at 11:39 PM