Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Saturday, April 27

Quinn Atticus: 3 Months Old



I jotted some thoughts down about Quinn @ Two Months Old, but never added them to his photo post. So I'll list them here, then mention how he's changed in the month since then. 

Two-Month Old Quinn:
  • Likes to grab and "worry" my shirt when he nurses
  • Smiles and vocalizes when you say "hi" in a cooing voice to him
  • Watches the elephants and lion on his bouncy seat
  • Holds his head up well
  • Still hates his car seat
  • still loves slings and wraps
  • Still loves sleeping on a shoulder
  • Nurses about 95% of the time (he'll get an occasional formula bottle at night during Joe's "shift")
  • He's wearing 0-3 mo. clothing
  • He's wearing size 1 diapers

And now, one month later, Three-Month Old Quinn:

  • He's been introduced to his "lovey", a raccoon we have yet to really name. 
  • He seems to already be responding to his raccoon-- we give it to him in the car for him to worry and bring to his mouth, since he still hates the carseat. 
  • Quinn still hates the carseat. But he's had a handful of rides where he's found the "baby in the mirror" and will stay entertained by him for the duration, with NO CRYING. This is huge. 
  • Quinn is now taking at least one nap a day in his rock n play in our room. Up until about 2.5 weeks ago, he was taking almost all naps in a sling/wrap/on a shoulder or lap.
  • As of two nights ago, we're trying him out on a 7:00 or 7:30pm bedtime. Up until this, he's been catnapping in the evenings and not going to bed for good until about 10:00pm. So far, the transition has been rocky. We'll work it out. 
  • Quinn has laughed for the first time.... Usually because I'm getting supremely silly to elicit the response.
  • Quinn smiles at Joe, Noah and I all the time. He is starting to notice Lucy and smile at her, though she often ignores him. 
  • He can sit in the Bumbo with very little "slouch". 
  • He still is apathetic about the sling and about laying on a blanket on the floor for very long. 
  • He does love his bouncy seat and will hang out there or the Bumbo for a little longer. 
  • He's still in 0-3mo clothing, but seems to be getting taller. I cannot imagine that 3-6 mo clothes will fit on his skinny body. 
  • He's still a very regular guy, diaper-wise... We've gone through a few weeks of green diapers, but he seems to be back to yellow. TMI, I know. 
  • He's a GREAT nurser. I have no supply corries AT ALL and we both seem to be a good team. 
  • He ADORES baths-- alone or with one of us, and ADORES being held in the shower. He's a water boy 100%. 
  • He responds well to running water as a way to calm him down. 
  • He's still pretty high-maintenance--- he just REALLY loves to be held, loves his mama, loves the boob as his binkie.... And is not very content for very long when left to his own devices. 
  • But he smiles SO much, and seems REALLY happy in general. He loves his family and is very easily appeased. It's not hard to figure out why he's upset-- so though he gets upset a bit more easily than I'd like, he's not a puzzle to figure out. 

My hopes for the next few weeks:
  • He'll get more content to explore on his own, i.e. on a blanket on the floor.
  • He'll keep finding more things to keep his interest while he's stuck in the car.
  • He'll work out a pretty good nap schedule. 
  • He'll do better at night.
  • He'll laugh more and more.
  • Maybe grab toys and begin bringing toys to his mouth on purpose. 


He's my sweet boy, and I love that little man. I'm loving his photos this month, too. He gave me a lot of random funny expressions, which make me laugh to see all together:


He's not always a face-maker--- mostly if he's not crying, this is my Quinn:


But however he looks at me, he steals my heart every time. Sweet baby boy....



(Just to be real, here is the beginning of his sad face. He is the KING of the Sad Face. His whole face crumples and it's just SAD.)


All right, kiddo. Happy 3-month! 

*

Monday, April 22

An Epiphany.



It was 1.5 years ago. Fall of 2011. Lucy was just coming out of that crazy colic season, and I was finally facing my less-than-healthy state of mind and beginning to see Jamie, my counselor, for the first time. I was finally at a point I could dig out of the trench of Difficult New Motherhood and begin moving forward... could finally focus on ME a little. I felt light beginning to try to seep back in.

It was a fruitful and rich time for me, self-awareness-wise. Talking to Jamie and shrugging out of the too-tight cloak of negative thinking from the Summer of Colic felt freeing. I began to feel epiphany and insight again. And so many of the epiphanies I experienced were so profound, I desperately wanted to come here and share them... explore them a little further within my online community of friends and readers. But while my mind was feeling lighter and more inspired, my hands were still always full, and at the end of the day, it just never happened. I never found the right time to sit and really write about these experiences I was having. 

And now it is 1.5 years later. And I am on the cusp of some new big changes, as well as drawing close to leaving (I think) the trench of Difficult New Motherhood yet again, and so I'm having some deja vu... some parallel experiences. And it is reawakening one of those past epiphanies to me again. 

And tonight, my heart and my head all jumbled with thoughts of change and growth and chapters closing, new ones opening... I am back in 2011 suddenly, and poignantly remembering those thoughts that came to me then. 

It was an average day. And I had managed to find a minute to read some Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach (if you know me at all, you know this book is so dear to me). In the excerpt I read, she was talking about money. About how we think if we just made a little bit more money, we would be happier... we could do X, Y, Z, etc... 
Except, she said, the hard truth of life is that for most of us, in order to make MORE MONEY, we had to invest MORE TIME, more energy. And reading this, I knew that to be true for me. As a photographer, I could certainly ramp up my business and begin taking on more sessions. I could push and market and aggressively seek to work, and I COULD double my income and contribution to our family's finances. But the cost would be great: I would have to lose some things, some very dear things, in order for that to happen. In her essay, Sarah BB asks-- what is it worth? Is more money REALLY going to bring more serenity? Security, maybe. But serenity? 

I stopped and pondered this. Because I was definitely guilty of thinking that just a little more income would make life SO much better. But of course, for us to make more money right that moment, it would mean ME working more. And was that something I would want? Of course not. I had NEVER wanted to be a full-time photographer. I quit teaching to be a mama, and having the time I did to be at home with my babies was precious to me. So it rang true: more money might equal SECURITY, but that didn't necessarily lead to more SERENITY. I needed to shift my thinking about what mattered more: security or serenity. 

And right then, a Big Question popped into my head. A Big Question I know in my heart I was meant to hear with my heart and my spirit. It was a seemingly simple little query:

What if this life RIGHT THIS MOMENT was all you ever had? What is THIS was it? Forever? 

I remember the moment this Big Question came to me. I was in the upstairs bathroom, in a quiet moment of the day. Periwinkle walls, white tile, Simple Abundance book closed in my hands, staring at the wall. And as soon as the question came to me, a flurry of sub-questions followed:

What if you and Joe never made any more money than you do right now? Just this small income from his job and the even smaller contribution from your photography.

What if you never had any more kids? Just Noah and Lucy.

What if you never managed to buy your own home, and you rented this little white house from Kate forever?

What if your life stayed here-- small home not your own, two kids instead of a brood, Joe working at UMSL, living in this blue collar neighborhood, working at photography but never growing it any bigger? WHAT IF THIS WAS IT?

I remember then, the flood of images of what life looked like to me RIGHT then.

Lucy, blond fluff hair, sleeping in her sweet robin's egg blue room. 
Noah, napping with books and Old Mai in his toddler bed in his light green room. 
The light-flooded dining room, serving too many purposes and therefore too cluttered.
The couch that is not ours that is not my style... ugly, even... but indescribably comfy. 
Our bed, just a mattress and box spring, in a room not designed or styled at all, but rather a catchall for everything... but quiet... comfortable... well-loved. 
Joe- satisfied in his work, wearing his corduroy slacks and dress shirt and taking his laptop case out the front door every morning, a kiss for me, a kiss for the babies. 
Me, boho messy mama, just trying her best with these two kiddos... making lunch, driving Noah to preschool, sewing and baking a bit, working after kiddo bedtime... 
A white picket fence outside, literally.
A clothesline in my teeny yard. 
Our orange double-stroller and the walks we'd frequently take.
Our two silver Civics, Sylvie and Slick... sturdy consistent cars with a bit of character. 
A little extra weight on my body.
A little extra weight on Joe's.
Clothing in my closet getting a little old, a little tired. (So much more fun to buy new things for the kids, am I right?)
A kitchen that was cluttery, not very functional... 
A sun room used as a makeshift photography studio, with great light and a really good little supply of backdrops and props. 
My sewing corner, with so many projects yet to do that I'd never run out of inspiration.
My family-- my parents coming at least once a month to hang out... my siblings and my in-laws and their presence in our life. 
Books. Books for the kids, books for me (I was reading "Gift of An Ordinary Day" and seeing my life with so much more tenderness)... Books as priority in our family. 
Music-- always something or other playing on Pandora or iTunes, always some singing, mostly from me.
Memory-keeping: photos being taken, journaling the old fashioned way and journaling via blog, video-taking...
No accolades from the big wide world.
No giant promotions in our future. 
No bought home of our own. 
No status-symbol car or shoes or handbags.
No chance of any trans-continental vacations anytime soon.
No option to get out and eat at fancy restaurants weekly. 
Not a great deal of financial cushion. 

But Lucy. With her fluff blonde hair. 
Noah, with his constant stream of chatter.
Joe, solid and loyal and content and strong.

And me. Messy boho moody artist mama lover dreamer memory keeper basket case wisher.

And the little white house that was not ours. 

What if THIS was all we ever got to have?

It sounds like this internal Big Question and subsequent little questions and visions took a while to transpire. In reality, it was maybe two minutes. Two minutes from the time the question came to when the flood of images and thoughts completely took my breath away. 

What if THIS was all my life ever contained? No more. Just this?

And then the answer, pure and true and resounding:

THIS--- well, THIS isn't bad. Not bad at all.  

In fact, I LOVE this. 

Gosh... you guys, it may not sound that profound. But it WAS. It still is. 

To face your reality in the mirror with no softening of the edges--- to look and REALLY ask if this would be enough---- and to come out the other side knowing with soul-deep knowledge that is IS....

Well, that's powerful stuff. 

And it ushered in one more Big Question, immediately afterward:

If THIS was all you ever got to have, what would you be doing differently?


*

I'm going to end here tonight... It's 11:45 and I'm pushing my bedtime like crazy... And besides, I honestly hope some of you guys are accidentally asking yourself the same questions. And I'd love to know what you are thinking right about now. What WOULD you be doing differently if this was all you were ever going to have? I'll come back and tell more of my story... but stew on that for now. I think it's a BIG QUESTION, and it deserves to be considered. 

For now, to close, I just need to say-- 1.5 years later, I still love this. All of it. The messy, hard, not-fancy life I've been given... the kids, now three of them... the husband, still cheerful and strong... the house, still not our "dream house"... these extra pounds on my body, the basketcase-ness of my heart and mind... I love it. I am grateful for it. Every speck. Good and bad. This life brings me deep joy and deep satisfaction, and I am grateful for it. I am grateful, I am grateful, I am grateful. 

Sunday, April 14

Anyone Miss the Ramblings?



It's a weird limbo I'm living in these days: On the one hand, I'm busy like mad from dawn til dusk... but on the other hand, in the midst of that busyness, I have nothing but time. 

Life with this new little one added to the mix has, by necessity, slowed down, and yet it feels like it is nonstop-- go go go.... do, think, be, help, soothe, feed, dress, undress, change, brush, entertain, answer, assist, calm, rock, swaddle, pat, laugh, kiss, hug, explain, repeat, wait, hurry, climb, crawl, shush, wipe, sweep, sing, read, dance, drive, walk, run, collapse. 

It's odd to feel so CONSTANTLY in motion, yet have many spans of time where my body may be engaged, but my mind can drift/wander/ramble/think. I swear I've have some marvelous epiphanies in these times. But don't ask me to recollect them in any kind of coherent manner.... As soon as the roller coaster ride picks back up again, the thoughts fly away like the wind, and I'm off again until the next slow period. 

And sitting to type with two able hands at any given time for longer than 3 minutes? FORGET about it. 

And I'm missing it. Badly. The decompression of mind-dump blog posts... The time to sort, sift, explain, and come to some peace and conclusion about life through writing. I MISS IT. 

So here I am, 11:11 pm, sitting in my bed with my laptop like I'm in a movie or something (seems all the fancy modern women in movies sit in bed with their laptops. I for one have never actually done it before. I feel fancy.)... My "bedtime" is closer to 10, and I really should honor that time. But if this is the only time and the only way I'm going to manage some typing, then I'm seizing that moment and I'm running with it. It may mean less photos for a while... It may mean a LOT more "ramblings" and less of the tidy, orderly posts of yore. But here we are. I'll take what I can get. You guys will forgive me, right? 

It's that weird limbo. It's just a season of "rolling with it".... In so many ways beyond blogging style. 

And I have to say: I am FAR better at "rolling with it" this third kid around than I ever was with my other two. This third kiddo has forced me to let go LET GO let go in ways I could not have ever imagined. And it's ultimately been so liberating to realize that in letting go, life keeps going, does NOT fall apart, kids adapt, *I* adapt, and we all emerge on the other side intact and even a little stronger than we've ever been before. It's been a lovely revelation.

I still have PLENTY of moments where the old self, the one clinging hard to that false sense of "control", she comes screaming into the picture, tightening the muscles in my chest into knots of anxiety when things aren't going as they "should"... That old self will probably always hover at the edges of the day, waiting to do that.... 

But I'm getting stronger at calming her down and reminding her we're practicing "rolling with it". And we're getting better at it. 

My counselor heard me talking this way and she summarized it so nicely:

"You're much more confident this time around, aren't you?"


Bingo. 

Yes. 

(Except when I'm not. Which is several times a day. But then there are several times a day I do it anyway, and I breathe through it, and maybe that IS confidence--- acting and moving forward in spite of the worry or insecurity... only to emerge on the other side having survived. Every time I do this, I get stronger.)

MORE CONFIDENT. 

Boy, that feels good to hear... and then to examine... and then to internalize as truth. 

Aside: Have I mentioned I have a counselor? Jamie. I was introduced to her when I was struggling with "Lucy-fer" and my own reactions and garbage resulting from that time... She and I worked together for a season then. So when I found out I was pregnant with Quinn, I got in touch with her again and we've been working together since the week before he was born. I don't know why I still feel a twinge of that stigma around having baby blues/mild PPD/or just COPING struggles... I feel sheepish that I don't just come into new motherhood swinging and ready to fight the good fight... But I don't. I'm an emotional being. Add a hefty dose of hormones to that natural side of me, and you get a marvelously emotional BASKET CASE. Enter Jamie. And I will not be embarrassed about her. Because she is making such a difference. In helping ME to stop, pay attention, let go, and be kind to myself. I am proud of who I am with her help. 

*end aside*

See, there's that CONFIDENCE again. Owning it. This is me. Take it or leave it. 

I am a basket case. I am an emotional woman. I am an overthinker. I live for beautiful moments, and push through the hard, icky, rage-causing moments to get to the next beautiful moment. I struggle with this new version of life.... it is HARD. But I am finding more and more moments of peace. And in the end, without much more I can really say for sure about my life, I know, I ABSOLUTELY KNOW, this is exactly where I want to be. What I want to be doing. I LOVE being a mama. I'm grateful for Quinn. New-baby-who-demands-much-cries-lots-needs-mama-all-the-time Quinn. And newly-2-and-proving-it Lucy. And ever-questioning-talkative-validation-needing Noah. I'm grateful for their vulnerable tender selves and for how much they LOVE ME... imperfect-moody-too-fastidious-one-moment-too-unpredictable-the-next-moment MOM.

I love this. Even when I'm hating it. I love it. 

That's all I know for now. 

11:30. Bed.

*iPhone photos
(gosh, are they devastatingly cute or WHAT??!)

Friday, April 12

Happy Second Birthday, Lucy Charlotte.


Don't blink.... She'll go from that tiny little bean of a baby to this REAL GIRL in no time at all....

*

"All the while, life is rushing by us.... hold it tight and don't let go.

These are the days---- the sweetest days we'll know."

*

Happy #2, my sweet girl. You are my sunshine, and I cannot WAIT to celebrate you all weekend. 

Monday, April 8

The Holy Grail of Parenting

At this very moment:
 
I'm near tears, no kidding. Today, Monday of a new week, is the day I decided I needed to begin teaching Quinn to take his afternoon nap in his bed (a rock-n-play for now, later a pack-n-play, eventually a crib.) I was terrified of failing-- enduring a LOT of crying and short irritable catnaps from Quinn all afternoon. 

He was like, "I got this, Mama."

And proved me the fool for sinking into such unnecessary anxiety. 

Well, today at least. 

Meanwhile, Lucy didn't chatter her naptime away, instead falling asleep almost instantly. 

And Noah, who is down to maybe 2-3 naps a week during his daily quiet time, chose today to take one of them. 

Holy Grail of Parenting:

ALL KIDS NAPPING AT THE SAME TIME. 

Now tomorrow? Who knows? But it only takes once to get the award, so here I am, winning the Holy Grail of Parenting. 

I'm a don't know-what-to-do-with-myself fool all over the place here. 

Love, 

Me


P.S. Don't mind my Goodwill pile in Quinn's pic. Every house has their "dark corners", no?

Lucy Tonight.


Lucy, turns out, is scared of an oscillating fan. This is a new development.

Last year when it was warm outside, she didn't even NOTICE the fan in her room. But this year, ohmygosh what drama when I decided it was warmish in her room and time to get the fan running again. Tears. Quivering. 

(Lucy is a champion quiverer. It's so pathetically sad.)

I managed to get it turned on at naptime today without her protesting... so I thought I was in the clear for bedtime. She was warmish herself from a pre-bedtime round of rambunctiousness with Noah, and I really hated to think of her blonde curls getting drenched and sweaty throughout the night.. So I upped the ante and turned the already "on" fan to the oscillating setting. 

Oh man. 

QuiverQuiverQuiver. CryCryCry. WIDE big scared blue eyes. 

I tried to distract her by singing her songs. It almost worked until I actually tried to lay her down. She immediately let her gaze beeline to the fan in the half dark. Oscillating. FREAKOUT. 

I handed her BunnyBunny. I handed her "Daddy" (the stripey sock monster Joe made). I handed her BunnyBunny's blanket. Still tears.

 
I had recently vowed to keep only those two critters in her crib (she's been chattering throughout her WHOLE naptime this week and I thought if I made her nap area sparse, she'd get bored and nap. It's kind of been working.).

I broke that vow and handed her LlamaLlama. Then Grover. Then Elmo. She clutched each new critter to her chest and said them by name. It seemed enough.

But then she looked back at the fan. And cried. And quivered. 

I turned the oscillator off. She whimpered. I picked her up. She cried, "Bunny? Ban-ket? Datty? Off-er? Elmoes? Lllllllllammmma?" I somehow managed to keep every one of her friends in my arms along with her little warm body. I hugged her. I sang her some more songs. I acted goofy and made her laugh. I laid her back down. 

She whimpered. Her little arms were all the way around every critter. A comfort-hug of stuffies atop her. She looked fearfully in the semidark corner at the fan. She clutched even tighter and named them all by name again- 
"BunnyBunny?" 

She's right here, Love. (I tugged Bunny to the top so she could see.)

"Ban-ket? Datty?"

Here they are! (I patted each one to show her they were still there.)

"Elmoes? Off-fer?" 

Right here, Lulu.

"Lllllammmma? BunnyBunny?"

Still here, Lucy. See? 

I watched her take inventory while not once letting go of them to actually sift through them. She needed them each indivdually, and needed them as a unified mass. She needed them. Her wide worried blue eyes, shifting from the dark fan corner and back to me told me everything. 

I gave up. Unplugged the darn thing and took it to the hall. I came back and told her it was all done. All gone. Bye-bye. She lay still under her covering of critters with her worried eyes. She eyed the now-empty corner once more. And then she let me sing her one more "Twinkle Twinkle" and she relaxed enough to let me tiptoe out. 

But she did not once let go of the stuffed-animal-armor layer. 

It's my bet that they're still atop her as she sleeps.

I'm gonna have to figure out something else to replace that fan. 

*

(a few iPhone pix of Lucy in her usually-favorite spot, in happier times:)