Tuesday, October 30
This year I've got one homemade peacock struttin' about, and one store-bought Bumblebee Transformer protecting the world from Decepticons. Both are absolutely delighted with their costumes, and look fabulous. Lucy in particular is literally strutting when she gets that tutu on. She is a born girl, I tell you. And Noah really gets into the persona of Bumblebee-- tough, loyal, and consistent. He makes me smile with his seriousness.
As for the peacock, I got the idea from Pinterest-- a pin that showcased the brilliant tutu idea in this tutorial. I tweaked it a bit for my own purposes, and added a matching headband with one of the felt peacock feathers and some real ones, too. She has on a tunic and leggings from Carters, since my grand plant to RIT-dye a onesie and tights into a brilliant peacock blue color was not working the way I planned... And ya know, I am happy with this alternative. Easy, and she can wear these clothes again. Her socks are Carters, too, and I love the stripey touch they add to her ensemble. Cute all around!
(Can you stand her sweet face? She was a stinker for 90% of the time I tried to get photos, but at the very end, I tricked her into some real smiles. :))
Noah is pure plastic and polyester brilliance from an impossible-to-pass-up deal on Zulily a few months ago. He hasn't been able to wear this until our Boo at the Zoo night last weekend, but I have promised him that once the festivities are all over, he can wear this whenever he wants. He can't wait.
(And what is a photo post of a session attempt with my kids without a couple of outtakes? This is Lucy's REAL attitude during her time in front of the camera:)
Happy Halloween to everyone. Hope you guys stay warm-ish, dry-ish, and get lots of good sweet stuff to eat! Have some candy on my behalf. It's KILLING me to not be able to raid Noah's candy bag whenever I feel like it. Ha!
Posted by Emily S. at 10:38 AM
Friday, October 26
I love October. I really, really do. But year after year, it kicks my butt!! It's a photographer-thing, with all the sessions people beg for in the prettiest fall month... And it's a "crafty mom" thing, with Halloween costumes to make and cute Halloween crafts and projects to attempt... And it's a sentimentalist thing, with my bucket list of ultimate fall experiences that must happen.... It's an Emily thing, I guess. I make my own life insane, and mostly love every minute. Mostly. But I miss:
~ time for sewing
~ date nights with Joe
~ naps for myself
~ making time for walks
~ editing my own personal photos
~ blogging the constant thought trains in my head and image chunks from my camera
So. To dip into those last two, here is, at least, a photo collage from my cell phone that recaps the last couple of weeks of October. My dinky Blackberry is no iPhone, and someday I'll manage to get one of those and my daily random phone snaps will improve... But I gotta say I still love looking through the pics I take on the ol' BB... Because they still catch moments I cherish. Well enough.
Top Row: baby boy Southerland- 24 weeks | Not a door? | Noah's whiteboard tombstones with R.I.P. on them | Lucy slide | Noah slide
Second Row: Lucy is walking well! | Noah's Superhero Squad tattoo | Lucy's Halloween costume in progress | Noah haircut-first pro one in over a year. He was so good for them! | selfie snap
Third Row: Noah's whiteboard drawing of an elaborate "machine" | Lucy in the morning light | Waiting at Dobbs for new tires (boo.) | Bath beards | Fall Festival cupcakes
Fourth Row: Noah's Fall Festival face paint and treat | Finally remembered to take out and stock the Halloween advent! | Sweet daddy putting on baby girl shoes | Dad shows the kids YouTube videos about volcanoes | Happy Lucy
Fifth Row: New goggles on | New goggles off, goofy face on | Pumpkin patch swinging | Pumpkin patch sitting | Sweet sleepy baby girl at naptime.
I hope, one day, that I can manage a phenomenal October without the frenzied feeling behind it... Give myself permission to only schedule two sessions total for my work, get costumes made in August... SOMETHING. But then again... maybe the bustle of the late-night sewing/pumpkin patch going/corn maze in Columbia, MO outing/ playdates/friend dates/ photo session in crisp leaves/etc. is all part of the experience of my love of Fall. Maybe.
I'm going to need a year of doing it the opposite way: slow cocoa mornings, late afternoon stroller walks, a good thriller novel during naptimes, with only three scheduled things total a week on the calendar, and several nights of curling up on the couch with Joe to watch spooky movies... I am going to need at least one October like THAT to really decide which feels better to me.
Because right now, I could use a heavy dose of the latter plan. :)
Ah well. Back to it. Three sessions to edit before Sunday, a magazine article to finish photographing/writing for, two sessions to shoot this weekend, our own family minisession to plan outfits for, the church Trunk or Treat on Saturday (Note to self: I need to make chili!), Noah's Primary Program on Sunday....Oh, and sleep. Somewhere in there, I should probably sleep.
Posted by Emily S. at 12:27 AM
Saturday, October 20
Top of our TV cabinet- tidied and decorated:
Random Musings, in List Form:
* I'm going to paint that room a goldenrod yellow. Eventually. I should probably tackle the rest of the dining room repair/painting first....
* Bat idea from Pinterest... It occurs to me right now that we forgot ears. Hm.
* Wood chip pumpkins from the Target Dollar Spot. Nice!
* I still love those old vintage fans. Don't worry, the cords were cut long before we got them, so no chance of turning them on and slicing off every family member's fingers.
* Today: Fall Festival at Noah's preschool. I LOVE this day. Pony rides, donuts on a string, bounce house, classic bake sale, face painting (I have a shift painting faces at the start of it)... It's lovely, charming, perfect.
*Baked cupcakes all night Thursday, then decorated all morning yesterday, to contribute for the bake sale:
* Ideas are from the "Hello, Cupcake" book. Easy enough, but takes some time to implement.
* Just now, blogging a quick blog has turned into me being a snappish mom (Joe's out at the grocery store, so I'm manning this Saturday morning ship alone) because my kids are, get this-- BEING KIDS. I am not feeling super proud of my reactions. Like getting a blog post up is so critical that I can't handle a little noise, a little mayhem. Ew. I'm a jerk. Stopping now. This wasn't important enough to sink my mood. I'd blame the pregnancy hormones, but I'm probably just a jerk.
I have a fun day ahead. Gotta recapture it. I'm out.
Posted by Emily S. at 8:52 AM
Sunday, October 14
That kid of mine... the one about to turn 5. I love the way his mind works. I love his intense drawings, and his even more intense "technical" descriptions of his work.
This is from last night. He wanted a sheet of my robot note paper. He asked to use the special markers. And he drew a spaceship. In immense detail. Afterwards, when he began telling me about it, he wanted me to write down descriptions of every part. SO I did. Frantic scribbling of words, trying to get as much of what was coming out of his mouth and mind onto paper as I could. It was intense. It was a pure delight. What follows: the drawing, then his descriptors, as best as I could transcribe them. All "typos" are his vocabulary, his brainworks. I cherish every word.
(Reference letters added by me in post-production)
AUTOBOT SHIP by Noah
A. Escape Pod: We escape and look out the windows to watch the explosion. We go and get to the planet we’re supposed to go.
B. Super Visor Weapon: More powerful than the claw.
C. Ship Lungs: The lungs replace special air because we have a speaker. The speaker revides and we speak into it and the ship repeats what we say.
D. Rocket Missiles: The rocket missiles repive only for two ships. They either have to be two Autobots or two Decepticons. Revide all the parts of your science. Make sure that you make more parts of the ship that you replace with more science.
E. Lab: The lab refaces science and all of it makes sure we have remain.
F. The Signal: Revides solar from the space and the moon. Helps us get power to make it go even faster. And helps it to get more powerful.
G. (2205) The Room: Has four different sides that tell you you get to go in each place. You get to go in a tunnel to get somewhere. But you have to pay a secret passage word.
H. Candy Machine: Revides other stuff that was garbage and almost token out to space and the machine revides all that trash and puts it into the machine and it blends it up into candy and out it comes into the signal maker.
I. Signal Maker: Digs the candy from the candy machine and then another machine comes and takes the candy. It goes out into the ship and delivers it to each ship.
J. The Claw: Usually takes evil ships into an evil trash machine and crunches it up. The evil ship turns into garbage and smells stinky just like a skunk.
K. Headlights: The headlights make sure the headlight revides signal-power.
L. Maker Trash: All the trash goes out of the ship and into space. The trash ship replaces it into the back trunk. Then they have a garbage can. The Martians take it into their home and eat it up.
M. Panel: Revides all the signals from the ship into different kinds of ships. The ships come together into the main ship and it makes a fat ship!
N. Reventual Signals: Revide all the signals from the ship and revider 2.0 signals. Revide all the parts and all the signals come into the part.
O. Side Ship: Revides robots into the ship and drives them to a different planet.
Posted by Emily S. at 8:18 PM
Wednesday, October 10
Though I've not blogged much about it, I've managed a few crafty moments in spite of the exhausting work of growing a human being these past few months. One project I've meant to share, because I loved how it turned out so very much, is a set of tote bags I made early in the summer--- one for my sister for her birthday, and one for myself because it was too cute not to claim one of my own.
Glorious in their roomy denim modern-pattern handiness, here are the two All-Day Totes I stitched up:
The design for this tote is an original by artist/stitchery wizard/fabric designer Lotta Jansdotter and the pattern can be found in her book, Simple Sewing (buy it here on Amazon.com).
It is one of the first sewing books I purchased, back in 2008, and it has lots and lots of fun sewing projects for the home ranging from simple to advanced. The very first thing I made was this yoga-mat tote, made to hold my mei tai sling. Easy. At the time, I never thought I'd be a confident enough sewer to make the All-Day tote. Oh how cool to be here, 4 years later, and whipping out "advanced" projects without batting an eye. Proud moment.
So, the All-Day Tote: My versions are a sturdy dark denim on the outside and colorful home decor-weight fabric on the inside- a trendy cheerful yellow chevron on the inside for my sister and a fall-y apple print for mine.
A peek at the fabrics and details (I double-stitched a lot of the outer stitching, all for looks. It looked cuter that way!):
There's a side pocket for phone, keys, water bottle or whatever.
And a vertical front pocket that is not super useful, in my opinion, but looks cute with a magazine or newspaper poking out of it:
It's roomy-- this one was packed up for my sister's birthday with two different basil plants, a thyme plant, some chocolate, a Real Simple magazine, and a giant baguette. Because she is chef-y, and I knew she'd work some magic with the herbs, the bread, and probably some kind of goat cheese and tapenade. She's pretty marvelous.
Mine has ended up far less cosmopolitan in its daily contents: it has become the home for a few spare diapers, a big pack of diaper wipes, a few strands of mardi gras beads (Lucy puts them all around her neck and chirps, "Ditty! (Pretty!)"... A few applesauce pouches, a few granola bars, a sippy cup, a superhero water bottle, a bib or two, a board book or two, an umbrella, rogue Fisher Price people and Transformers, and some crumpled receipts.
But since that's not so pretty to photograph, let's admire my sister's gift bag again.
(Oh, baguette, basil and metal water bottle- you are so pretty. You hold such promise of tasty, stylish moments to come. I love you.)
And I am happy to report, a full summer later, that my tote has held up to the demands of its diaper-bag fate. Which means if you more stylish cosmopolitan types whip one up for your baguettes and herbs, I think it'll definitely meet the challenge. It might even manage to successfully tote a full rack of lamb wrapped in butcher paper fresh from the meat market, as well as a packet of gourmet toffee from the local chocolatier and a pouch or two of quality hot cocoa powder for later. (Can you tell that in my mind, this tote was destined to live in Paris or something??)
So. Get thee the Jansdotter book and get sewing! Or, if that proves to be too much of a task for you, at least go treat yourself to some artisan bread and a latte or something. You've earned it, reading through this silly post.
Posted by Emily S. at 1:55 PM
Monday, October 8
It was Sunday morning. In a flash of brilliance, I assembled a church outfit for Lucy that was so ridiculously cute that I could barely look at her without shielding my eyes from the DARLINGNESS of it. I mean, her church clothes are always pretty cute, but this.... this SURPASSED "cute" and went into "this needs to be copyrighted, it's so cute" levels. And somehow, my mom-mojo rocked on and I accidentally dressed Noah in something that kind of remotely matched. There were stripes in the collective unconscious, I swear it. In fact, when Noah saw Lucy in her outfit, he hollered that she looked just like her doll, Poppy-- and she DID. Even Poppy was in on it.
So it followed that I needed to get this momentous, matching, cute-overload duo captured in photos. It's the natural conclusion when you're a photographer, right?? So, knowing I was going to make us late for church, I grabbed my camera bag, my kids, and Poppy the doll, and we detoured to a little old church two blocks from my house to get THE CUTEST PHOTOS EVER.
Easy. They were already dressed and ready, the stone steps were in shade, and I was ahead of schedule anyway.
Except. Has anyone heard of PCS? Photographer's Child Syndrome?
This is a very real condition afflicting children of photographers everywhere. Caused from an overexposure to a giant SLR camera shoved in their general direction since birth, the symptoms include:
* inability to look directly at the camera.
* unless they are wearing a completely unusable expression.
* especially if there is more than one child. (Only one at a time will look at the camera.
Probably with an unusable expression.)
* temporary deafness.
* extreme wiggles.
* sudden fits of crying.
* general wicked/naughty/terrible behavior.
Oh, laugh if you want to... But this is VERY REAL. Sure, I have managed to get some winners of my own children over the years. But I never tell you HOW MANY SHOTS it has taken to get the good ones. I am not kidding when I tell you it is usually at least twice (usually more) the amount I'd have to take of a client's child who is unrelated to me. SO MANY FAILED PHOTOS to get to one keeper. It's the worst. I won't even get into the other side of the PCS coin-- Photographer Parent Rage. It's ugly, I tell you. Swift, irrational, and ugly.
Back to the story. This one Sunday morning. Cute, cute kids in church clothes. An easy detour to some old stone steps and just a few cute shots to capture it all. Easy.
I took 30 photos. I really didn't have time for more than that anyway, and by photo 15, it was clear this was a lost cause. I present to you all 30. You tell me PCS isn't a real phenomenon.
[We start with just Lucy. She's the primary reason for this detour. Give her Poppy. Sit her on a step. Instant whining, crying. Before shooting even one shot, it takes a few crazy attempts at distraction before I can even get her to stop crying and look at me. But of course, she is reaching for the things I am using to distract her:]
[Try another tactic: "Lucy! Fold your arms!" She does. But the PCS Face is in full force. I am now just trying to get her to look at me AND look cute, so I don't notice myself cropping off her feet. Nice.]
[Fine. Ugh. Let's just switch gears and try Noah in here. Maybe I can get a few of them both before total meltdowns occur.]
[Surely the nearly-5-year-old will be my easy one. He listens, understands bribes, etc. Right? Hahahahahaha. He's always been worse than Lucy. Look, Lucy! Yay, Lucy! Noah? Noah?]
[Note: This church I am shooting at has NEVER showed any signs of life. EVER. In the middle of my own private circus/hell, a pastorly looking older dude comes out from the side of the building and stands from afar, kind of watching/sternly glaring in our direction. No words. Just standing. The heck? I've never seen ANYONE here. Of course, it makes me sweat/stress/get/more frustrated. And it keeps Noah's attention away from me. Awesome. I ignore the dude and quietly hiss at Noah to "Look over HERE!!"]
[He looks at the camera, finally. Nice.]
[Ugh. Fine. Lucy seems in a better mood. I'll zoom over to her and get some tight shots with just her.]
[Okay. We're getting closer to one I might actually KEEP. Too bad brother's arm is in the shot. And I am still cropping her cute shoes accidentally. Blah. I'll take what I can get.]
[Okay. OKAY! Lucy is looking! Sitting still! Almost smiling, even! Noah! NOAH!!!!!! Come on, look this way! Now now now!! And SMILE, dammit!]
[With your FINGER IN YOUR EAR. Nice. *eyeroll*]
[Well, we've lost focus again.]
[Try putting your arm around her. ??]
30 photos. THIRTY. 1 and 5/7ths of them are keepers.
Except I am going to keep them all. And laugh (so I don't cry). And show the world that when it comes to photographing my own kids, spectacular failures are more common than people realize. And that's okay. Hey- I tried.
And even with wonky expressions and tears and grimaces, these are the days, and the moments, and I want to remember them all.
(Incidentally, the cure for PCS is simple: Just stop taking their photos and get someone else to do it. But since I love catching them in the day-to-day as much as in the more "formal" sessions, I'm afraid I'm not open to implementing the cure. Poor them. Poor me. Guess I'll keep taking 1,654,398 photos to get a handful worth keeping.
Posted by Emily S. at 3:55 PM
Wednesday, October 3
I want to remember the sun flooding this half-peeled dining room this afternoon as the breeze came and went through the open windows... gentle folk-y music and the sound of the baby monitor my only companions as I worked to peel another stretch of striped wallpaper... Strangely at peace, happy with the moment and the task at hand.
I want to remember Noah's head dropping to my shoulder for a few moments as we sat side-by-side on his short little toddler bed and read stories before his naptime... His room peaceful, his mind engaged in the stories, his little body so perfectly settled next to mine.
(a bit before naptime, he played so intently and happily with Moon Dough while I began the wallpaper project... God bless moon dough.)
I want to remember Lucy's chuckles through her bottle as I changed her pre-nap diaper and kept poking her belly button and saying, "Be bo!" She was so ready to sleep and in her "zone", but each poke from me would snap her out of it and she'd laugh around the bottle in her teeth and our eyes would meet. And it made me laugh back at her every time.
I want to remember how she settles so readily in my arms as I rock her and sing to her before her nap... And how as soon as I put her in her crib, she rolls to her tummy, tucks her arms and two loveys under her, wiggles her bum in the air a bit, and smiles as I cover her with a blanket and whisper, "night night..." She is so ready to settle to sleep.
I want to remember the peace of a sunny afternoon of solitary wallpaper-stripping... Almost as enjoyable as the times this past week I've done it with good company and great conversation. The task itself, not great, is still oddly satisfying as progress is made but with no imminent deadline to the end of it. Just sunshine, music, and a messy task I have all to myself.
I want to remember the satisfaction of getting the edge of that elusive BIG piece of paper, the one that keeps going, bigger, longer, without a break........ ahhhh! A perfect wallpaper-removing moment. The Holy Grail of peeling.
I want to remember the anticipation of getting to the end of the section at hand, finally done with it, ready for a break, a rest, a snack.... The feeling of cleaning up and stepping back to see the work done, happy to have done it, but happier to be done for now.
I want to remember the snack-- a "doodlesnap" cookie made this weekend by my dad and Noah, a perfect mix of gingersnap and snickerdoodle, one allowed for my carb count, if I pair it with the third of a Snickers bar leftover from earlier today... The sweetness of both paired with the secret weapon treat of my gestational diabetes-- Atkins chocolate shakes (guilt-free chocolate milk I have come to love and look forward to daily)... A perfectly sweet snack in a world where not much sweet is allowed, and a perfect stretch of time to enjoy it in peace... music still playing, babies still sleeping... sun still flooding the room... breeze still wafting in.
I want these days to stay with me, if only because I remembered to be mindful of them in their moments, and then remembered, once in a while, to write them down.
Tell me, what do you want to remember?
(Post inspired by a far better writer than I, Katrina Kenison at her "Ordinary Days" blog, who was, in turn, inspired by THIS post, who was, in turn, inspired by Ali Edwards.)
Posted by Emily S. at 4:37 PM
Monday, October 1
A bushel of fresh-picked apples are waiting to be made into something yummy for fall. They sit on a lovely wide countertop in a charming kitchen filled with sunlight. The kitchen has ample workspace and cheerful colors, and there is an island in the center that is the hub for all activity in this house. Across from the island, I can see a cozy breakfast nook layered with comfy throw pillows and bordered with bright sunny windows that look out over a lovely stretch of green land, the trees at the periphery just starting to turn gold.
It's canning season, and it's time to make apple pie filling and apple pumpkin butter and applesauce and whatever else comes to mind for this bushel of apples. The kitchen is immaculate, clean, wide open, and completely charming.
Once the apples have been processed and are boiling in the hot water bath canner, I take a few small bowls and fill them with leftover apple pie filling and graham crackers and take them to the cozy breakfast nook table where my husband and children have been sitting playing games and enjoying the kitchen smells. It's dessert-time, and we get to reap the benefits of my labor by all digging into the sweet apples and sauce.
Heaven on earth, no?
It's not quite like that. Instead of the sunny, light-filled kitchen with wide, clean countertops and lots of space, I stand in a cluttered little dark kitchen, the sun nearly down and the dark nearly here. I have run out of daylight hours to get these apples finished, and so dinner (a less-than-impressive frozen lasagna) is in the oven at the same time I am peeling and coring apples to get ready for this canning job. The counter-tops are narrow. They are full of paraphernalia from dinnertime needs and also from the necessary emptying of our dining room while the dining room walls are on hold from being stripped of wallpaper. There is barely space to set anything. The floor has bits of crumbs that keep sticking to my bare feet. There is one lone window that looks directly into my neighbor's dining room. Not much of a view. And there's no breakfast nook--- instead, adjacent to the small kitchen is our war zone dining room--- 3/4ths of the walls now stripped to the waist of their striped wallpaper, the bottom halves a forlorn cornflower blue. The furniture is all pulled away from the walls and the resulting piles of Stuff are everywhere--- temporarily displaced from their homes, waiting for the dining room to get finished, painted, reassembled. Many of these stacks of Stuff seem ready to teeter at any moment. The walls are scary in their de-papered state-- many chips of paint peeled off in the process, and one whole wall has crumbling plaster behind the paper. I shudder to think of the work ahead to get these walls to look "normal" again.
Not so heavenly, this cluttered, messy, inconvenient canning project.
The house still smells of apple pie. The kids play around my ankles as I prepare the apples and the sauce. Joe, my beloved, is cheerfully manning the apple peeler/slicer/corer and is keeping up with my requested pace to get these apples done. We're both getting spritzed with droplets of apple juice as each apple goes through the mechanism. He and I are laughing at the things our kids say and do.
When dinner becomes imminent and the apple canning is still not done, Joe willingly takes over the setting of the table and the feeding of the kids so I can keep at the task at hand. From the other room-- that disorganized mess of a dining room-- I hear chatter, laughter, singing, encouragement... And I know they are fine without me as I finish the apple project. All is well.
And there are still those little bowls of apple pie filling dessert. I don't get one--- the gestational diabetes whispers, "You mustn't..." But I sneak a sugared apple slice or two and it is good enough.
And this house isn't MY house. Not the one in my head. The one I dream about. It's a temporary home (if you can call three years in one place "temporary".) And there are many many things I'd change if I could. Many things I wish I had. But.
This is my HOME.
And it is good enough. I'm slowly learning that it does no good to wait until things are "perfect" or things are "right" before proceeding with plans... Because chances are, nothing will ever be PERFECT or RIGHT or exactly how you imagined them to be,... and how much time are we wasting waiting for that?
I want my Septembers to have apple-picking and apple-cooking moments. Would those moments look far better in a dream farmhouse kitchen? (Oh this nook.... aaaa!!) ABSOLUTELY. But does that mean I wait for that kitchen to get going on my wishes? NO WAY.
I will work among the displaced clutter piles and I will scrabble to get dinner done simultaneously and I will let the kids get a little rowdy so I can finish and I will let Lucy eat apple peels off the floor and we will remember this season. It won't be "perfectly lovely".... But it WILL be perfect.
Posted by Emily S. at 3:47 PM