This Hour

In a (very) random burst of inspiration, fueled by serious lack of sleep, frigid temperatures, and beautiful sunlight, I stepped outside today to take a few shots of the wheelbarrow. And then I walked back in, and proceeded to shoot for about an hour, my life. It’s mundane, but looking back through it tonight, it’s beautiful. I’m feeling grateful today for simple pleasures: popcorn, laundry, library books, beautiful fabric, napping children, forts, iphones, and now, at 10pm, wine.

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The Middle One

I won’t pretend that I try to give my kids equal time on this blog – after all, this started 6 years ago as Ryan’s blog. But my middle, my Finleigh, there’s something extra special about that kid. Maybe it’s my soft spot for 2 year olds (yep, love ’em). Maybe it’s my soft spot for redheads (married one). Maybe it’s just her squishy cheeks. But there’s something about that girl.

She’s fast. She only cuddles on her terms. She likes things HER way, and she don’t give a crap if you have other ideas. We call her Honey Badger. And it suits her. To a “T”.

When she slows down though, oh my, what a sweet heart. I just breathe all her toddler-y goodness in at night, as she’s drifting off to sleep, doing her family roll call (Ryan, daddy, mama, Asher, Finleigh, Zoe, Unca Mike, Annie Allison, Unca Jame, nonna, papa) and naming off all the parts of my face (eyes, eyefrows, lips, ears, cheeks) and pausing with her sweet, slightly sticky, pudgy little hand on my cheek. I melt.

I know I enjoyed this age with Ryan. But I also know I had a lot of other stuff going on then: school, work, the possibility of going back to work, my own inner demons – I had a lot of my own crap. And, hindsight being, as always, 20/20, I know this sweet little moment is fleeting. So fast.
She’ll be 2 in 2 months. And those little hands will lose their pudge, and her cheeks will slim down, and she’ll no longer need me to lay with her at night and give her “nosies”. So, for now, I breathe it all in.

Struggling

I struggle with so many things as a parent; we’d be lying if we said we didn’t. I struggle to get my toddler to eat, my big girl to stop dawdling, my littlest to sleep. I struggle to run 2 miles, to hold a plank for a minute. Somedays I struggle to get a shower or eat breakfast. But these are physical struggles, and I know they can be overcome with hard work and perseverance.

But this is not that sort of struggle. The one I’m wrestling with these days, under the surface of all the other daily struggles, is my belief system, and thus, the beliefs we raise our children with. We’re not very religious people. Spiritual, yes. Religious, no.

We were both raised with a bit of a mishmash of religions. Me, everything from Presbyterian or Mormonism, Judaism to Catholicism (seriously, all of that, one childhood). Michael, raised in an Ashram with world religions all around, but Eastern religions pervasive.

Neither of us gave religion, or what religion we’d raise our kids with much thought. We didn’t think we’d need to. Raise your kids to be good people, et voila, it’s all good. But what we forgot is that we live in a religious society, one where Christianity is everywhere, and we’d encounter religion constantly.

Ryan came home from school the other day with a little rhyme about making the #7: “Through the sky and down from heaven, that’s the way to make a seven.” Of course, she wanted to know what “heaven” was. And here’s where I start to bumble. For someone who’s pretty good with words, I was at a loss. Because really, I don’t know what heaven is. What do I believe in?

I tried to explain as best I could: dying (which is still a tricky concept for her), up above the sky, where God is. Oh, wait, God. There’s another subject she’s unclear on. Again, because I am. (and none of this is to discount Michael’s role in all this, it’s just that I’m the one home, so I get the big questions that usually require immediate answers) Ryan’s told us before that God doesn’t exist. Which probably means I got a little too existential with one of my explanations, and little Miss Literal took it to heart. OK, fine. But God does exist. Maybe not literally, but in some sort of bigger way, something bigger than us, must. Humans have named that God, and given it a (male) persona, but I don’t know if I believe that.

A sweet friend posted a link to a blog the other day; it seemed quite appropriate for Christmastime, and certainly rang true for me.

Women can tell this part of the story this Christmas, the glimpse behind the veil, the life lived in the in-between of the stuff of God. There is a story on your lips, isn’t there, mama? of how you saw the face of God in the midst of fear or pain or joy and understood, really understood, Mary, not kneeling chastely beside a clean manger refraining from touching her babe, just moments after birth but instead, sore and exhilarated, weary and pressing a sleepy, wrinkled newborn to her breasts, treasuring every moment in her heart, marvelling not only at his very presence but at her own strength, how surrender and letting go is true work, tucking every sight and smell and smack of his lips into her own marrow.

(http://deeperstory.com/incarnation/)

It’s what I find wrong with so much of religion; it’s all about men, and how men have made it, forgetting the very humanness of birth.

Michael and I have major issues with organized religion, and we’re both pretty clear that we don’t believe in Jesus as savior. But beyond that? But you can’t raise kids on what you DON’T believe in. I feel like I need to define my beliefs, and maybe it’s less for the kids and more for myself. And maybe I don’t think beliefs can really be defined in such a quantitative way. Maybe I need to explore Buddhism more. Sometimes, I’m quite jealous of friends who have such defined belief systems. It would certainly be easier for me to have one. But I don’t.

Part of this has come up as a natural introspection post-birth. Birth really does bring out the spirituality in so many of us. Part of this is due to the holidays, and our desire to create traditions for our kids, and wondering how to define them without the context of Christianity or Judaism (Solstice?).

So, where do I go from here? I’m not sure. I did find two books that might help: Raising Freethinkers: A practical guide for parenting beyond belief and Parenting Beyond Belief: on raising ethical, caring kids without religion. I’ll let you know where this all lands as it evolves.

What I do know, is that I believe in goodness, and family, and love. And the sun and the moon, and that it all keeps turning. And as the Mamas and the Papas sang, “to everything, there is a season, and a purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

STILL pregnant

No, this is not a comment on comments made…in fact, most friends seem to feel like this pregnancy has flown by.

I, on the other hand, do not feel as such. It seems as though I’ve been pregnant FORever.

A friend pointed out tonight, and somehow this was the first it dawned on me: our lives have changed ENTIRELY in the last 9 months. Since last February, we, as a family:

celebrated Finleigh’s first birthday

found out we were (unexpectedly) pregnant with our third

had our condo on the market

finally got our “maybe house” and moved

Ryan started kindergarten

bought a new (to us) minivan

sold off all of the REgarding Peanut inventory

and, soon, will have our third girl join our family.

It’s no wonder I’ve been reeling lately. It’s no wonder Michael has been on edge. And really, it’s a wonder the girls have been as awesome as they have been with all the stress we’ve had.

But to be honest, this has been an easy pregnancy. I worked out up until 35w. I’ve had very few aches and pains, and have really been pretty comfortable. That said, I’m whiny, cranky, and I’d much prefer to give birth over being pregnant. Now, at 37w, we’re excited to meet this little girl, and introduce her to our friends and family.

I know our lives will continue to grow and change over the years, and that staying stationary is never an option, but I would love (LOVE) to settle, just a little bit, into some sort of routine, just so we can all breathe a bit.

{all photos are taken by my AMAZING photog friend Chantelle of http://www.livelovelaughphotographblog.com/}

This year, I resolve

I don’t DO resolutions, as a matter of course. I’m not one to bother with the whole random whatever kind of resolutions. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it big. Two years ago, it was to be content. 10 years ago? Be nice. And so, this year, I resolve to be more present.

I know some of you think I am already. And for many of you, I am. But for many, many more, I’m not. And this is attached, I think, to a few other things.

First, and foremost, is that I like to talk. A lot. I think it’s genetic. I have verbal diarrhea most of the time. It’s as though I have a quota of words I must use in any given day, and it’s quantity, not quality, that counts. Those that know me will not be at all surprised by this. Hell, those that just read this blog will probably recognize that. And in talking ALL THE TIME, it’s very hard to be completely present in what one is doing.

Second, is that I am very rarely giving my all to any given moment. I’d like to blame this on my small people but it’s not entirely their fault. I was like this well before small people came into my world. I’m usually doing more than one thing at a time, and usually poorly. So, if I’m listening, I may also be thinking (of something entirely different), or interneting (is that a verb? I just made it one), or cooking, or folding laundry, or sewing, or any number of other things. So sometimes, part way through a conversation, I realize I’ve just been going through the motions and now have to piece the story together based on what I’ve caught. (Yes, I realize this may be a confession of sorts, and I’m totally not naming names, and not going to, but I’ve likely done this to many of my dearest friends. I love you and hope you still love me anyway.

I’m also going to be working on attempting a 365 photo project on top of my 52 photo project. I want to try to document our lives as they are: the good, the bad, the cranky, the drippy, the messy and all the beauty that lies in it. I still have a lot to learn about photography, and by pushing my creative boundaries I hope to learn more about myself and my camera. I guess I kind of think that documenting our days with the camera may also help with the whole being present thing.

And so, I suppose this resolution, this being more present in the moment, is going to be tricky. I guess what I’m hoping is that, in some small way, this will make me a better person, mama, wife, friend, teacher.

{one}

I know, it’s a few days late. Better late than never.

inspired by a favorite blogger: {one} photo from the week. {one} photo that sums it up, offers it up. {one} that somehow captures it. what it is, i’m not quite sure. do you have {one}? share it in the comments.

Already?


Already, the sun is sitting a little lower in the sky.
Already, the air is a little crisper and smells a little different.
Already, the leaves have brown edges.
Already, a different breeze is blowing the crispy leaves across the sidewalk.

already, she is sitting up.
already, she eats solid food.
already, she gives kisses.
already, she is trying to move.

Fall is most certainly upon us. And Finleigh’s baby hood is going so much more quickly than I’m ready for. I’m ready for fall. Not so ready for Fin to move. Ready for cooler weather. Not so much for Fin requiring meals beyond mama milk. But alas, with the weather change, it seems that Fin is changing too. And, like the seasons, you just have to go with it.

Why don’t you…

“Why don’t you become a photographer?”

“Why don’t you sell the things you sew?”

I hear these two questions all the time. ALL THE TIME. And I’m going to answer them right now for y’all.

I LOVE TO SEW, CRAFT AND TAKE PICTURES. And I want to continue to love to do them.

I don’t want to be beholden to what others want. I don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s memories because I’m being paid to be. I don’t want to run another business.

I have thought about it. I think about it a lot. It’s hard not to when folks are constantly telling you you should. It’s quite the ego booster to hear that you’re good at something. And that people think you’re good enough to sell what you have. But just because you are, doesn’t mean you have to, or should. I’d probably love it. Right up until I had to deal with that one customer who hated what I’d done. I’ve been in customer service long enough to know that those folks are out there, and I’m done dealing with them.

I do want to continue to sew and craft for the pure joy of it. For the enjoyment of creating something out of nothing. I want to continue to photograph my children, and my friends’ children, and things I think are cool because I love it. I would love to do commercial photography; photographing children’s products. But I have a long way to go and a lot to learn before I can think of that. I’d love to become a birth doula and photograph the births I attend. I can’t imagine anything more special than photographing the moments of transition  into parenthood. I’d love to teach independent childbirth education classes and become a prenatal/postpartum yoga instructor.

And, so, no. I’m not going to sell my sewn or crafted items (not in any large scale, shop opening way). I’m not going to sell photography services. I’m just going to keep loving my art for what it is. Art and passion and something that fills me up.

At the shore…

I adore being at the shore. I know that so many people find the beach revitalizing, refreshing, renewing. And I’m one of them. Michael remarked upon actually getting on the beach that I looked “at home”. And I was. Not that I’m not at home here, near the lake, in our little place that we’ve made a home. It’s just that I think I might have been a mermaid in a past life. Or a fisherman. Or a lighthouse operator. I feel so comfortable at the shore, like I’ve come home. I could truly sit at the beach all day, doing nothing but watching the waves, watching the sun rise and then set, feeling the salty air on my face. Thank goodness I gave birth to two little girls who also enjoy being at the beach. Ryan took such pleasure in frolicking through the waves, and Finleigh got a kick out of picking up (and tasting, of course) sand. I’m so grateful that my family loves the beach like I do. We’ve already made mental plans to go back next year and camp ON the beach. And in my head, I’m already there.