Monday, June 25
We've been busy around here...
The Lucy Mud Occasion happened one evening while Noah was out of town at Grandma and Grandpa's house for a few days. LuLu was helping me water plants and seemed hell-bent on finding the dirtiest spots in the yard. So I gave up deflecting her attempts and stripped her down and let her have at it. She was in heaven.
And it reminded me that kids wash off quite easily. So what harm is a little mud play?
So the Noah Mud Event happened this past week when I let him have free reign of the dust hole in our yard. Total free reign. (Well, okay, no-- I did plead with him not to SIT in the mudpit.) And he was utterly delighted.
And he also hosed off quite nicely.
Lessons in letting go and loosening up a little.
Meanwhile, we are getting ready to head out of town for two weeks. So if I've been scarce lately, that trend will have to continue. We've got some road-trippin', family and friend visiting, junk-food eating, mountain-viewing, trying to stay flexible adventuring ahead of us. We'll see you on the flip side.
Posted by Emily S. at 10:46 PM
Friday, June 22
2006: Paris, France. Oh, I yearn to go back to France and Italy.
2008: Noah meets Nolan for the first time.
We'll be repeating this meeting in just over a week. How much they've grown in 4 years!
We'll be repeating this meeting in just over a week. How much they've grown in 4 years!
2009: Noah and myself at the circus. We just did this again for the first time since then, this past week.
It was still utterly magical. Noah enjoyed it even more as a 4.5 year old.
It was still utterly magical. Noah enjoyed it even more as a 4.5 year old.
2010: Noah with his Father's Day gift to Joe. This feels like yesterday to me.
But somehow he's gone from 2.5 to 4.5. So strange.
But somehow he's gone from 2.5 to 4.5. So strange.
2011: Lucy, just over 2 months old. I was enchanted with her eyes, her smiles... But we were starting to realize she was also colicky. This was before it got its worst... I don't have any PTSD feelings when I look at this photo. Just warm fuzzy feelings about her.
Posted by Emily S. at 11:55 PM
Wednesday, June 13
Lucy, 14 Months Old:
My sweet girl is 14 months old today. She is the absolute sunshine of our whole family. At 14 months old, she-
* is not walking, but is a very fast and proficient crawler who loves to cruise the L-shape of the couch and try to climb the first three steps of our stairs.
* Lucy LOVES to sing. She does a very exaggerated curled tongue as she says, "La la la!" in imitation of my singing "la la la" to her. She also has mastered the "EIEIO" of Old MacDonald, except she says, "AYE-ee-AYE-ee-AYE!" right in time with the song. She is loud!
* Lucy loves her Bunny Bunny, but has also adopted two mooshy bunnies I made for her and tucked into her crib. She clutches the trio of bunnies to her when she sleeps, and calls all bunnies "DA DA!". Don't tell Joe she's not really saying HIS name. :)
* She says, "Hi-eee!" to everyone she meets. A lyrical, expressive hello that gets a lot of attention and almost always compels the stranger to say hi back to her. After which she'll say "Hi-eee!" again. They respond again. Repeat 5 more times. Without fail. She is a total FLIRT.
* Whenever she hears a beep-- either from my cell phone alerts or from a car honking or a construction vehicle beeping, she perks up and says a staccato, "Det!", her own version of a beep noise. She adores doing this.
* Lucy is definitely in the pre-verbal stage where if she wants something, she stretches and reaches for it with a terribly obnoxious whine. I cannot WAIT til this habit is kicked.
* She totally has rhythm. She will bop her head or flap her arms or otherwise dance to almost any song that comes on the radio with a good beat. She loves LOVES music. We even have a few songs that she goes NUTS for, looking over to Noah for affirmation that he is also dancing hard, then letting loose and dancing like crazy with a huge grin on her face. It is nearly my absolute favorite part of the day with her.
* Lucy loves water--- the hose, the swimming pool, the bath, a squirt bottle... you name it, she wants near it.
* Lucy loves cheese, applesauce, ice cream, blackberries, strawberries, watermelon, peas, green beans, lunch meat, and anything we are eating that she can't have.
* She's starting to fit 12-month clothing, but is still a small little thing. The part of her that has been growing the most has been her hair. I am totally in love with her wispy blonde curls.
* The photo above is from this evening... Joe helped me take Lucy out to get a few photos with the basket of citrus I'd gathered for a client session last week. I knew I'd love the results of my blonde sweetie in the same setup, and she did not disappoint. Daddy was the perfect clown behind me, getting her to laugh and smile for my camera. She was perfectly content to stay in the basket and be cute, so she made me a very happy mama and photographer. We'll see how much longer I get to con her to be good for photos. We're close to the era of "running away from the lens", I know.
* I am so enamoured with my Lucy Lu--- It boggles me how much I can delight in the tiniest moments and physical details of this baby of mine. And not just her, but my sweet Noah, too. Our capacity as human beings to love amazes me, and is never more apparent than when I am in the role of mother. I am so in love with my children.
Thank you, sweet friends (and some VERY sweet strangers) for your positive comments and thoughts and advice last week. It meant so much to me to be reminded that we're all in this struggle in one way or another, and we are all getting better, even if we take a few steps back now and then. I should've come back to report sooner, but honestly, the VERY next day was a vast improvement for me. I woke up the morning after writing that post and remembered my feelings of the night before... and from that moment, I vowed to practice mindfulness that day. If nothing else changed, I wanted to at least get back into being mindful and purposeful with all of my decisions. To be honest, not much outwardly changed. We still went on an outing that day-- got out of the house instead of practicing contentment in our own home-- but for the first time in weeks, I made that decision with awareness and purpose and I knew WHY I was doing it instead of just doing it.
And I reveled more in the simple things again.
And I just felt...... back on the right path. Not necessarily at my destination (established good habits, slower pace, balance, etc.)... But on the right path. Back on track.
So thank you. I truly feel that receiving encouragement from you guys helped keep me aware for most of this past week.
It's an ever-constant work in progress, this life of mine. But I'm handling it much better, thank you very much. For now, at least.
Meanwhile, I get to be tested a bit in my ability to stay flexible and keep hold of my goals even when life throws a few curveballs. Tomorrow, instead of getting one more slow day with just my Lucy-Lu while Noah spends his last day on his trip to my parents' house, I get to have him home a day early, but still only get one or two hours with him before taking my small packed bag and heading on a very sudden, very last minute road trip to Utah with my parents and 3 sisters for my grandmother's funeral. I'll be leaving my two kiddos and my husband behind for this quick trip, and I'm already missing them before even leaving.
I'm surprised that I'm not desperately sad at the loss of my grandmother. I can't feel anything but joy for her, to be completely honest. The last year and longer, she's been trapped in the body of a frail stroke-victim, and she's not been able to be her truest self for a long long time. I feel peace in my faith that she continues on in a better place-- that she is reunited with loved ones and is back to her best physical self once again. I KNOW I will see her again, and until then, I am thrilled she is free and joyful. I am grateful for the opportunity (though peppered with stresses) to go to her funeral and to celebrate her with my extended family. This is a good thing. It is worth the last-minute worry about babysitters and meal arrangements and other things suddenly at the top of my to-do list before I leave tomorrow.
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
It is good.
Posted by Emily S. at 12:55 AM
Wednesday, June 6
Yesterday. Monday. First day of another full week. This day started with only one car, the 2-door Civic, since the 4-door Civic was in the shop for a too-expensive new starter. The day started with a mad dash to get my house a tiny bit orderly so I wouldn't be too embarrassed to have my friend Michelle see it when she, along with her toddler, came over to babysit my two kids. In between picking up and straightening my living room and dining room, I worked in my photo room to compile all the things I needed for a minisession at a client's house. A pile of portable backdrop stands, backdrops, props, blankets... Probably far more than I should've packed for a minisession. All crammed in the 2-door Civic in a feat of Tetris-like juggling of space. All packed in while my two kids ate breakfast and were semi-contained with the task, enough that they wouldn't try to run in the street while I loaded the car.
Arrival of friend/babysitter. My quick 8:30am departure, Pro Photographer hat firmly on. I drove through traffic (stress! worry!) to get to my appointment on time. The session was a fun window of time with a repeat client and two VERY cute kids, but even the fun of it was mixed with a sense of hurry and worry (the usual feelings I get when shooting... the anxiety of being in my head too much when shooting and wanting my work to be better better better). I kicked over a waterglass and doused my fake flooring... got my shooting space a bit muddy... one more thing to work around...
Then after packing that 2-door Civic BACK up (Tetris!), I drove back at 8-10 miles over the speed limit because I'd gotten the text report that Lucy had basically melted down the whole time I'd been gone.... NOT typical behavior for her, and I felt guilty for saddling my friend with that kind of frustration for two hours. In record time, I was home-- and Lucy was indeed wailing at the top of her lungs. I took her and tried to calm her while apologetically thanking Michelle and trying to get the Pro Photographer hat all the way off so I could don the Mom hat.
Lucy was clearly not herself, and though I've been trying her out at one nap a day at noon, she was obviously tired at 11:00, so I fed her and put her down. She was out in mere minutes, thankful to be napping and at peace.
I'm sad to say I don't even know what the next two hours included--- I think Noah played on the iTouch and I read a book and dozed a little... I know I postponed lunch far too long and did not give Noah very good direct attention. I know I put him into his quiet time late and conceded he could still be done at the usual time-- shortening his quiet time by 30 minutes or more. I just knew Lucy would be awake earlier than her usual time and so we might as well get going on the pile of errands I had for the afternoon sooner than later.
I'm not sure how I used the brief quiet that came after Noah was resting and Lucy was still asleep. It troubles me I can't recall this. It says something about my mindfulness, clearly.
I do remember, vividly, that once Lucy was awake, I set Noah free from his quiet time even earlier than the early release I'd promised him, and I bustled the children out the door to tackle:
I do remember, vividly, that 2-door Civic, and wedging the pumpkin carseat behind my driver's seat to buckle it into the backseat, Lucy already inside... then hunching over to the other side of the cramped backseat to buckle Noah into his seat, then trying to get the front seats repositioned and all doors closed and all necessary bags, boxes, etc. in place before even leaving the driveway.
I remember vividly the reversal of the exhausting process just to get one box mailed at the post office. That 2-door Civic. Curse you. Lucy said "hi" to the postal worker (she says "hi" to everyone), Noah shyly peeped over the too-tall counter and received a coloring book... And then we were back at that car, jamming kids back in, the back seat an oven of summer heat and sweat and too-small space with too-wiggly kids needing buckling...
The bank: my frantic rush to get the checks logged and signed and prepared for deposit so I wouldn't hold up the line too long...
Then Walmart, where I decided to just do all the shopping at once, though it costs more to get groceries at Walmart than Aldi... but that 2-door Civic. Hell no was I gonna keep taking those kids out and putting them back in like I'd been doing... So I dug them out of that awful backseat just that one last time for the Walmart trip and we took our time getting the shopping list taken care of... Oddly, the Walmart browsing time was the least frantic of the whole outing. The checkout line brought it all rushing back, with the longest line ever and the slowest (friendly) checker ever... Noah begging for his toy and me not wanting to take the time to pay attention to what bag she'd put it in... Lucy saying "hi" to the checker (she says "hi" to everyone)...
Then it was raining. Yes, raining. BUCKETS. And we stood at the entry of Walmart and waited for it to die down enough to get to the car with SOME dry clothing left. And I stood thinking about getting those two kids buckled in the back of that 2-door Civic... AND the 15 grocery bags into the trunk... while it poured rain...
I was tired. I was DONE. I was hungry. I wanted this day to be OVER. We took the first opportunity to run to the car and we did get wet... but not drenched. Still-- I threw all the bags in the trunk without looking, and did NOT get Noah's toy out, and was NOT patient with him as I buckled him into that 2-door backseat as he asked if he could have his toy now...
And I drove through Jack in the Box because I knew dinner was not going to get made in time to stave off my "hangry" mood coming on...
And that's how Joe found me at 5:10 pm--- grocery bags all over the dining room floor, both kids at the table eating Jack in the Box cookies so I could eat the two tacos ($1.00) and potato wedges in some sort of peace... no energy to do anything but sit. Eat. Recover.
THIS is the life I am aiming for? This?
Two summers ago, I'd reached a saturation point where I was DONE with the sense of purposelessness I'd accidentally sunk into... the lethargy of bad habits and auto-pilot routine. I'd lost a true sense of who I was and where I wanted to end up... so I put myself though a self-imposed bootcamp. At the end, after a few weeks of processing it all, I wrote this post. And this one.
Tonight, I just reread that second one.
And I will be 100% honest- I was shaking by the end of it. After truly changing that summer, truly discovering a new way, truly converting to all of that truth.... somehow, almost two years later, I've lost it all. I was stopped dead in my tracks. EVERYTHING I JOYFULLY CLAIMED TO HAVE FORSAKEN I AM BACK TO DOING AGAIN.
Especially these first couple of weeks of summer. It's been the mindset of, "Oh no! Noah is out of school and home all the time now, so I have to keep us from going crazy by go go going and doing and experiencing!" But that leads to far too much consuming of fast food and cheap thrills and stupid toys and time time time.... And where does it leave us? All of us, Joe included, though he's not part of the actual flurry of activity?
Drained. Emptied of purpose and peace.
Beholden to the To-Do List as a sense of WORTH.
And activity begets more activity. Because enough of that activity is actually fun-- going to the library, the pool, the City Garden, fairs, festivals, trips.... And the thrill of the fun brings a need for the next "high"... and I forget that "high" isn't always "happy"... and sometimes SLOW is the way to real joy. Real memories. Real moments.
How could I have gotten so lost?
This would be the time to talk about the rocks.
But I've wasted so much of this blog post recounting my current reality and feeling so low about the discovery of my lost soul that there is no more room for philosophy... For the profound truth of the rocks that I discovered last autumn and have clearly also forsaken, along with the truth of slowing down.
And maybe I'm punishing myself--- I don't deserve to discuss the rocks when I am so far removed from the goodness they produce in my life. Silly... it's when we're the lowest that we need truth the most.
Here's the thing. I look backwards and see SO MANY TIMES God has blessed me with clarity. New awareness. New truth. And with it, a chance to CHANGE and become BETTER. I don't even want to know how many times I don't even notice the gift. But I can see with my own eyes these milestone eras in my life when I DID see the gift and I seized it and began to live a new way.
Yet I can also look back EVERY TIME and see that I've lost the way, eventually.
And that is breaking my heart tonight.
I HAD something true and real and good. I found truth and I practiced it and I was made better from it... Not once. Not twice... but SEVERAL times in my nearly-35 years.
And where am I tonight?
Remembering that I brushed off Noah's pleas to play with him so I could do just one more stupid thing (probably inessential)
Eating fast food too much because it's just easier when I'm out and about
Filling our days with outings for the sake of outings... But not planning enough "nothing time" where our imaginations and relationships can expand and thrive
Unable to account for chunks of time when I could have been mindful and in the present moment with my children and husband
Starving for spiritual food
Not maintaining my 30-minute walks
Angry with myself
How? How does this happen? Surely it is not just me. My gosh, this is why we are asked to attend to our religion weekly--- because going to church once isn't enough to convert us. We need to re-convert every single week... every single day, really. And we as humans are so easily given to forgetfulness. We forsake light and truth in favor of easy ways and comfortable habits. It is human nature to slack off.
And I am so upset about it.
To be mad at myself for a while. Maybe then it'll sink in and I will really commit to making some changes again.
To immediately cease the habit of finding something to do outside my home every single day. To fight though the withdrawals of that kind of activity addiction until we remember how to be home and be still and create our own activity.
To tell you the story of the rocks. I really do. Because it is part of the cure I need to immediately apply.
To breathe more deeply.
To regain some discipline.
To learn how to be what Noah needs most these days... Surely he cannot need me to be his imagination game partner the WHOLE day? But if I could figure out what else he needs, then maybe I could be a better play partner for the times we do play instead of being half-assed every single time.
To love deeper.
To take quiet time for me. Meditation, if you will.
To get back to taking walks.
To let go of the To Do List=Self-Worth
To remember truth I've learned.
I want: more of this--
And less of this:
Forgive the raw emotion and rambling of all of this. It was not my intention to be so random and so frustrated. But I think I need to see this for what it really is so I can begin to process how to proceed. So I can regain some of the goodness I've found before and get it back into my daily round once again. I've succeeded before. I can succeed again. Especially now, as a full summer looms ahead and time is long... yet short at the same time, since I only have one more year with Noah before he goes to kindergarten. The time to change is now. And to regain my center. My focus. My sense of purpose.
So. Here goes. Tomorrow I WILL do thing differently. I vow it.
(If only I hadn't stayed up til 2 am with this mess on my mind... how will I have any kind of focus tomorrow when I'll be exhausted? I make my own messes, I know it.)
Posted by Emily S. at 2:07 AM
Friday, June 1
One last session from before Lucy's 1st birthday... a little set I'd had in mind based off of this Pinterest photo. I loved it so much that I commissioned a very similar hat from the ever-impressive Farrah Jobling, who did an amazing job.
And then one not-super-chilly February day, I used my new "front-door studio" and my snowflake branch (for a few shots) and my favorite grey backdrop paper, and made some magic with my Lucy. Sweet, blue-eyed Lucy, utterly irresistible in the soft purple cap and her soft baby skin...those silly bottom teeth:
Oh, even just one of the above photos would have been more than enough. But Lucy gave me so many sweet moments before she finally had had enough. This trio of shots shows her decline. Ha!
And for fun, here are some "behind the scenes" shots, featuring:
1. Her super goopy nose, which Joe and I kept wiping to keep the snot out of the photos.
2. The open front door and the space heater
3. The toy chicken that kept her happy for most of the shots I needed, but which I finally had to relinquish to her actual hands to get any last shots. She LOVES that thing. It's so goofy.
How is it that these photos were already 4 months ago? I still see this exact sweet face in my mind, every time I picture her... Never mind that now she has her prominent 4 top teeth and so much hair that I can't get through a day without pinning it back or putting it in a topknot pigtail...
My baby keeps growing.... A super fast crawler now, (still not walking) so I've not even attempted formal photos in a while. (Though I have a session planned for next week. I'm getting excited!)
I'm rambling now... point is, it feels good to have finally wrapped up her first year of photo sessions. And it is, as always, bittersweet to see them grow and change. These children of mine. They are so dear to me... What a blessing it is to be their mama.
Posted by Emily S. at 11:39 PM