Thursday, October 30, 2008

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,

We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!

~Humbert Wolfe

*beyond these, there were several more moments from our pumpkin patch afternoon, but these were the one that resonated tonight. So these made the cut.

Oh, they speak to my heart in mysterious ways...

Learning as I Go...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in... it's a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.


Every time I read this, it is so powerful. Truly inspired. Pure truth. And it brings me to a reflection of where I've been... and where I am headed. How many holes am I continuing to fall in? Sure I think about that. I must, if I am to grow... But even more than that thought, for me, right now, is the thought--

How many new streets did I finally walk down after falling so many times?

I suppose because I am at peace with my life right now (with minor tweaks and adjustments needed every day of course), I read this little bit of writing and I am grateful-- deeply grateful that I finally made it to those last two stages again and again with important things. Relationships. Friendships. Career choices. Moral choices. I am grateful that as I moved through my 20's, I slowly figured the lesson out again and again with the things that really mattered.

And yet--- I am pretty sure that EVERY lesson learned came after falling in that hole again and again. Ya know? Just....... knuckleheaded me, stubbornly walking into holes until I get it.

Anyway.... no real point, no real conclusion here... Just reflecting. Glad I made it to where I am. Hopeful I will learn to walk around future holes in the road. Certain of my growth, but deeply aware of the work left to do.

And mostly, grateful for my little life.

{p.s. photos above: #1- circa 1996, age 19....#2- circa last month, age 31}

My Anthropologie Story:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

So, for many many many months, I have had these gift cards to my favorite store in the whole world, Anthropologie. Every time my husband and I go that the mall that has this store, (and it is my closest one, so it is often), I make him go in there with me so I can ogle. I can't help saying EVERY SINGLE TIME, "I wish I could just LIVE here... Look-- a bed, a kitchen, and a bathtub? What else does a girl need? And so many clothes to choose from each day!"...


Though I adore this shop, if you've been there, you know that everything is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. So I have been hoarding these three gift cards, totalling $200, because I know I will never again get the blessed chance to buy something I REALLY want there that is NOT on sale. It’s silly, but I really have hung onto them, waiting for the PERFECT BUY, letting my mind go wishy-washy with every considered purchase over time: Will I HATE that I "wasted" my hoarded gift cards on this? Will is be something I'll love and use for at least a few years? Is it "me”?
I am so weird. I finally realized I just needed to USE these gift cards ($150 of which I have had for nearly one and a half years. Yep. Yikes.) and get them out of my life so I'm not obsessing over them any longer...

So I did. Last winter, after Noah was born, I spent my biggest card, the $100 card. I had wanted to not be huge-preggy when I used the card, gotten for my birthday six months before, so I was excited to finally go, I think in February. I took my common-sense/good-feedback sister, and I was SET on buying something lovely. We started in the sale room, because my philosophy was the same as many of you-- I have $150, how can I stretch it?

(A note on sale things: Sale stuff at a gorgeous store like Anthropologie feels like a compromise--"Oh, it's on sale, and I can love it, so I should buy it".... Instead of seeing it on the rack, catching your breath, THEN looking at the price tag. In the latter, you KNOW you want it from the start. In the SALE room, you're talking yourself into wanting it. But at this time in my story, I wasn’t thinking that way… I just wanted to MAXIMIZE my Anthro experience.)

I tried on lots of stuff... and found a BEAUTIFUL deep violet angora sweater with velvet ties that tied in back and velvet millinery flowers and seed pearls on the front in a beautiful splash. GORGEOUS. And on sale for $78. Down from $148. A STEAL! And of all the shirts and sweaters I tried on, it fit the best. I felt pretty wearing all that soft stuff, and I looked NOT PREGNANT in the mirror, and with my sister's advice, I decided. I WILL BUY THIS! And did. And felt a little nervous that I had just bought a sweater for so much more than I usually spend, but it was lovely and it was ANTHROPOLOGIE, so YAY!.... Never mind that I only chose it because it was the best of the SALE items.

...And the first time I wore it, and looked in a REAL mirror, and not a perfectly-angled, somewhat dim elegant dressing room mirror such as Anthropologie has, I HATED HOW IT LOOKED ON ME. Hated it. The ties made me look all chest, and the bottom half flared out, but not in a cute way, and the purple was a bit garish.... and YUCK. And my heart BROKE. I had just used up most of my gift card stash on a sweater I would never ever wear. And I remember the saleslady saying that this sale was final, so there in my closet this lovely, soft, vintage-look, UGLY-ON-ME sweater sat. $83 dollars (inc. tax) later.


Luckily, and this has a happy ending, I was buying a teensy sale thing (probably a drawer pull or something, for $4) a month or two ago, and told the lady I knew all sales were final, and she said perkily, "Sales are NEVER final!" and I laughed and said, "Yeah right, what about a sweater I bought in February for half off and never wore?" She said, "Yep, that too!" and I said, "But I don't have the receipt, only the tags..." And she chirped, "That's fine!" And.....

So I brought that cursed sweater back over six months after-purchase and got a new gift card for $83 and I have decided never to compromise again.

And so when I saw this:I had to have it. For REAL this time. Never mind the price tag. (Seriously, Anthro—WHY SO EXPENSIVE ALL THE TIME??)
Never mind it would take a bit more of my own moolah to cover the balance.

It was time to free my heart from the Anthropologie Gift Card Burden once and for all. And you know what? No regrets. I love this sweater. And I’ll love it until I don’t anymore, and then, well, I’ll be okay. And maybe one magic day, another Anthro gift card will find me, and we can start this game all over again.

The end.

Another Sneak Peek For My Bessie:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

But that's all you get, for now! To come-- cupcake shots (oh, the beautiful cupcakes! Such poetry in frosting!).... Family shots... Kissy-face shots.... Oh so may great photos still in the works!

(I am LOVING this particular job. Something about getting a peek into the true joy of your best friend on an incredible day in her life... I am honored. And delighted. I can't stop smiling at each new photo I open up to look at.)


And ta-da! Three posts in three days!! ?? !! Amazing.

Countdown- a Survey

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In keeping with my promise to be a better blogger, I present another post! Two in two days! No tag here... I borrowed this from Jodi, who borrowed it from someone else. If ya wanna do it, feel free to borrow it yourself.

And sorry for no photos. I just don't have any at the moment that fit.


Ten Things I Wish I Could Say to Ten Different People Right Now:

1. I remember you. Always would have. Be at peace.
2. You're my favorite and all of it was perfect.
3. I'm sorry. I'd love to know you now, and see if you're still brilliantly witty.
4. You're more patient with me than I deserve.
5. You are angry and unpleasant and I don't miss our friendship.
6. I'll try to be more sweet tomorrow-- because you're not trying to push my buttons.
7. We might need more than one year.
8. Thank goodness you never asked me out!!
9. I'll have a turkey reuben, 10-inch, with a soda, please.
10. You are appallingly thankless, and I don't care if we ever talk again.

Nine Things About Myself:
1. I sleep with my feet poking out of the blankets and sheets. (Sleeping bags drive me NUTS.)
2. I was a singer in a former life.... symphony, choirs, solos, lessons, the whole bit. Now, Noah is my main audience.
3. I start a LOT of things I don't finish. I'm trying to get better.
4. My favorite animal is a humpback whale, and has been since 4th grade. Because they sing.
5. I am a better mom than I thought I'd be.
6. I LOVE sleep and sugar-- my two vices.
7. I spend waaay too much time at this computer.
8. I am content in my attic, and don't need my own house anytime soon. The only things I would like that moving offers is a space to create art, and new couches.
9. I am trying to maximize my October this year-- getting outside each day, enjoying Fall-y flavors and activities.... Just soaking it all in. LOVE this season.

Eight Ways to Win My Heart:
1. Bring me a cupcake or cookie.
2. Make me a mix CD.
3. Listen to my rambling and philosophizing and ramble and philosophize back.
4. Show some vulnerability.
5. Make me laugh.
6. Don't make me feel stupid.
7. Go to a fair/festival/antique shop/thrift store/historical town with me.
8. Give me unexpected little things-- notes, treats, hugs, etc.

Seven Things That Cross My Mind a Lot:
1. Noah's well-being
2. Joe's well-being
3. Sleep and when/how to get it, or if I haven't gotten it...
4. Photography needs/client needs/work stuff
5. Keeping my home in shape
6. Creative little ideas... and guilt about not completing them
7. Gratitude, and reminders to be grateful.

Six Things I Do Before I Fall Asleep:
1. Check my list of online haunts
2. Go to the bathroom
3. Crawl in bed under the comforter and adjust my top pillow
4. Check Twitter on my phone
5. Play solitaire on my phone
6. Roll over a couple of times

Five People Who Mean a Lot:
1. Joe
2. Noah
3. Beckie
4. Mel & Stef
5. Gen

Four Things I'm Wearing Right Now:
1. black fleece lounge pants
2. brown ponytail holder
3. white undershirt
4. my "Onward" stamped typewriter key necklace.

Three Songs I Listen to a Lot: [at the moment]
1. Elizabeth Mitchell's "Little Bird"
2. Rachel Yamagata's "Elephant"
3. Wicked's "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"

Two Things I Want to Do Before I Die:
1. Go back to Italy
2. Own a farmhouse

One Confession:
1. I ate mini candy bars, a cupcake, some caramels, and some chocolate cake today. Among other, non-dessert foods. Seriously-- I have a sugar addiction.

It's Been A FULL Weekend!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Since it has been a week since my last post.... Bad bad busy me! So for my random, non-cohesive check-in, a list of things I'm reflecting on this morning:

I have just turned our heat on... Brrrr! And it smells like that unused furnace smell? Ya know? And I kinda like it... Smells like the holidays are coming and apple cider cravings... I dunno. I'm a very sensory person.

We got home from our long weekend at about 10:00 this morning, and I immediately put Noah down, so he is napping in his own crib (hooray!) and I am wasting unpack/organize/get life back on track time here, catching up and just.............being still. I like it. Whatever, luggage. Don't nag me.

I had a yummy hot chocolate on our drive home. I LOVE fall.

I have four CF cards full of photos to upload and organize and label.... and then PROOF. Ugh.

I have two, maybe three sessions this week, along with friend visits, projects to complete, and another trip back to Columbia for my friend's open house.... So life will NOT be slowing down any time soon.

I LOVED Genny's wedding. Beautiful, simple, autumnal, sincere, warm and loving..... And I LOVED being such a part of it-- snapping photos, decorating cupcakes, spending time with mutual friends and wonderful family.... Photos to come, I PROMISE.

I LOVED family time this weekend-- loud, hammy conversations with several siblings, one-on-one photo followups with Kirsti the Senior, a big birthday present opening session from Beckie (each of us got one, all at one time.), and our Thanksgiving Dinner, done now instead of a month from now so everyone could be there.... Church with everyone, late-night talks, dad's Saturday breakfast, Noah being charmed and charming everyone.... All of it, so good.

And I am feeling good. We survived the out-of-town sleep issues. We survived the stresses and frenzy. And we came out of it with smiles and good memories.

So there ya go. I'm back. Back in business. Ready to work, to be a mama, to be a photographer, to be a wife....The usual.

I also promise to be a better blogger. For real.

Family Photos-- I LOVE Them!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

I used to drive up and down North Union St. in St. Louis to get to work. It's kinda a shady, not-so-great part of town, and because of that, there's a lot of...shall we say.... character in that neighborhood.

One thing Joe and I have made jokes about since our time in the city is all of the run-down, kinda scary CHOPSUEY joints that seem rampant in the ghettos. We have all kinds of speculations as to what they might REALLY be, and why they are popular, and what on earth keeps them in business... And we have had many a laugh on the topic of chop suey.
So honestly, why WOULDN'T we twist my photographer friend Jodie's arm and drag her (along with our beautiful baby boy) to a rough part of town and park at the risk of our lives (and cars) to stand in a pile of broken beer bottles and don't-ask-what-THAT-is trash while we smiled oh-so-prettily and looked oh-so-middle-class in front of my favorite wall in all of St. Louis?

I mean, it's part of our family CULTURE-- to make fun of CHOP SUEY.

(I LOVE it. I'm enlarging this to at LEAST a 16x20 for my wall. I am so serious.)

And thus we began our happy, fun, not-so-typical family photo session with Jodie in tow. Poor girl-- never let a photographer book another photographer-- we are bossy, demanding, weird, and full of too many suggestions... Right, Jodie? And yet she took it all in stride and worked MAGIC with out little trio and our crazy locations ( the ghetto, my back alley, a field of weeds...).
The best part was seeing all the photographs Jodie thought up that I would never have imagined. I love her eye and her quick trigger finger (a necessity with a wiggly pre-one-year-old!). So enjoy a few more of my favorites from our delightful photo session with Jodie of J. Allen Photography... And if I can't take your photos, she's a marvelous substitute!

Now the tough part will be deciding which one to put on our Christmas card.... Any favorites, folks?

(Thanks, again, Jodie. They are PERFECT. You made us all look good!)

Life= Crazy

Sunday, October 12, 2008

{one of last week's snapshots of "everyday life"... My buddy and me, just hanging out.}


I wonder if I'll ever be able to just BE in the moment. I know it is an ideal... and yet we are always looking ahead to when things will be "better", "less stressful", "more money".... Etc. etc... and yet, doesn't every GOOD change come with the inevitable not-so-good things? Doesn't every NEW version of our lives have it's own blessings and curses? Why should we be so quick to wish something different upon ourselves?

Take my new life as a stay-at-home mom.There are SO many good things here:

1. I run the show
2. I get to see all of Noah's "firsts"
3. I get to sneak in a nap here and there
4. I get to take walks as part of my "work day".
5. I don't have to eat cafeteria food or fast food for lunch.
6. I get to sing to an unbiased audience.
7. I have flexibility within the structure.

And yet, the trade-offs are DEFINITELY there as well-

1. If baby sleeps badly, Mama sleeps badly.
2. Noah needs CONSTANT care-- this isn't a part-time job. I need to be focused on his needs and his development and his happiness from the time he wakes up at 7:00 am to the time he goes down for bed at 6:30 p.m.
3. No more freedom to just hop in the car and go wherever, whenever... Gotta make sure it works with Noah's napping/eating schedule
4. Not much live adult interaction
5. Less money for our household
6. New boundaries within my marriage partnership

...And so it can sometimes be easy to think about the downsides too much, and not remember to revel in all the good parts of it.

I bring this up because there seems to be a subtle shift going on in my "regular schedule" I have been settling into for the past three months, and this shift is making me yearn to KEEP what I have had all along... I am not wanting this shift to occur. I forgot to appreciate this mundane, routine, simple, peaceful stay-at-home-mom life, and now it seems to be moving away from that.

As the next few weeks plow onto my calendar, I am seeing a trend towards BUSY, CRAZY, and FRENZIED... Obligations mixed with fun plans mixed with holidays and birthdays and visits and drives and trips... and photo shoots and projects and.... and... and.....!!!

And suddenly, the minor stresses of a baby not napping or a load of laundry not fully dry seem like a piece of heaven. I want my life to stay what it has been!! I am NOT looking forward to the ways my life will be pulled and stretched. I am NOT feeling prepared to balance any more than I am currently balancing. I am just now figuring this current load out! I am just now getting the hang of it!


But no amount of whining or pleading will halt the onslaught of change and expectation coming my way.

So I gotta bless this moment, thank the Lord for THIS day, and brace myself for tomorrow.

and just when I start to get the hang of TOMORROW.... it'll change again.

Such is life.

Tomorrow.... I have some DELIGHTFUL family photos to share with you that my friend Jodie took of Noah, Joe and I. I am in LOVE with them and have already ordered one enlargement, with more to come. Until then, I need to go to bed. So patience, my dears... all in due time.

It's the Little Things:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Borrowing from two blog friends, Andrea, who is listing things she is grateful for, and Melanie, who is keeping it real with a pro and con list, I am gonna write my post as a list today:

What I LOVED About Today's Walk:
~ The way the leaves are really and truly changing, and falling, and crunching beneath my feet
~ The incredible blue of the sky that can only be found in the Fall
~ The feeling of walking, my limbs in motion, my legs limber, my shoes comfy and ready to go
~ Having my little man close to me in his stroller, chillin' as always, enjoying the ride
~ Three stray balls from the school playground. I got to toss them back while Noah watched, completely perplexed
~ Noah's backward glances, checking that I was still behind his stroller, and then his face-wide smile when he saw that I was
~ Cold Mountain soundtrack and the Robert Plant/Allison Krauss song that came on my iPod... They just FIT, ya know?
~ The breeze and the perfect 66-degree afternoon
~ The little cafe where we stopped and had broccoli cheddar soup and Noah got all the crackers for himself
~ The red, and the yellow, and the orange leaves I found and placed on Noah's stroller tray for him to explore
~ And the stick, which he sampled the flavor of... YUM!
~ My glorious neighborhood of 100-year-old homes of brick and stone, with fifty-foot trees and pumpkins on the porches and a feeling of peace
~ Coming home, and my little man's happy kicking flapping body as we climbed back up to our nook in the Masonic Lodge

Ahhh... This week. Such a difference from last week. I am content.

A Glimpse Into My Week:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I've been working on Ali Edward's Week in the Life Project... where you capture everyday moments, pieces of your life... in photographs, notes and journals, and scraps kept. I've been collecting all week. And being a stay-at-home-mom to a baby, my life these days is pretty Noah-centric. It's interesting to see it laid out before me in actual images-- 80% Noah, 20% everything else. And I know that will shift as time goes on... attention paid to other, future children... More adventures outside my home as the kids get involved in school, sports, friends, church... But for now, my simple little life is just that-- small, quiet, and simple. Here, a sample of each day's photographs. I'll come back another day to share the end result of this project, but for now, my week:

...a sleepy-eyed, clingy mama's boy, first thing in the dim morning...

A stroller walk and pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese. Perfect!

Cheerio-wrangling. this can keep a kid busy for almost ALL of Oprah!

...nightly bathtime... Even more fun with Dad, who plays peekaboo with the toys in the bubbles.

BECKIE!! Visiting after a long four months in Iraq. Noah and she have some catching up to do...

Yardsale treasures. Thanks, Jodie! (the bear and book are your "grandma gifts", Mom.)

Noah and Dad say 'Night-'night to the light, every night...


And lastly, a quote from Ali's blog... And my message for the week...
Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.

~Mary Jean Iron


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

{everyday life: an image from my morning walk with Noah yesterday}

working on designer Ali Edward's art challenge this week... Love the idea, the tasks related to it...

But so far, kinda hating the week. I am so PMS out-of-control that even normal mishaps and follies take on monstrous proportion and I spiral into an angry, sad, stressed mess so quickly it would make your head spin. Add to that a handful of not-so normal mishaps and follies, and it's a recipe for failed days, bundled together into a potentially failed week. *sigh*

It's an ugly pit, and I'm not doing a very good job of clawing my way out.

So, wednesday-- what else ya got for me? Hmm?

I'm off... going to try to be productive. Try to find the good moments. Try to be a good mom in spite of the mood. Sorry for the quick, not-so-la-la-la blog post.... Just keepin' it RRREAL over here.

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