Cousin’s Cousin

Here is a photo shoot I have been looking forward to sharing.  I enjoy what I do and love when I feel like I’ve delivered some really great photos that the family will appreciate and perhaps even frame.  I especially like it when I myself really love the photos and feel like they are true to the type of photos I want to take.  And I really REALLY love it when the family I am photographing is dear to me, and I know who they are as people, and can try to capture a sense of that in my photographs.  That’s when I feel like a shoot isn’t work at all.

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This little love bug will one day be my kids’ cousins’ cousin.  Get it?  They will have a cousin in common, namely my sister’s future children.  So this little guy will be at family events and celebrations for years to come.  His parents attended my wedding, and I just know that there will be lots of children-intermingling in our future.  That’s why I was so glad to be able to capture them at this very special time when Little G is still so new.  Not that you’d know it to be around them, because they are basically some of the most easy-going new parents I have ever met.

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That is definitely why Little G is such a good-tempered baby.  Everyone around him is so busy loving on him; there’s no stress.

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Thanks for sharing him, Greg, Liz, and Auntie Amanda!  He’s a pretty awesome guy!

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Soccer Star

We are finally those parents; you know, the ones who spend their Saturday mornings juggling conflicting sports schedules, with me taking Em to ballet, JDubbs taking Jax to soccer, and some hapless relative helping watch Little H if we can manage it so Mommy might possibly make it to yoga.  I was a little hesitant to give up one of our precious weekend days to the busy hustle and bustle, but it was only for a few weeks, and we knew that it was about time we put Jax in some kind of organized sport.  The kid is dying to be part of a team and put all that aggressive, boy energy into something positive.

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And so, a soccer star was born!

JDubbs and I have been very hesitant to put Jax in soccer because this kid is 100% a linebacker in the making, and all he talks about when we discuss sports is how he can’t wait to play football so he can “sack that quarterback!”, said with a little shake of his butt and jaunty fists raised high in anticipation.   We thought that other kids’ parents would appreciate if we kept Jax on the sideline for as long as possible, but this year, since he is almost six, we thought he maybe would be able to handle it, and keep his hands and feet to himself (and on the ball).

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 Man, we were right!  He loves it and he is actually really good!! All that excitement and barely contained aggression work out really well in sports.  He charges right into the defense and steals the ball while the other kindergartners look on and wonder what just happened and go back to picking their nose or some dandelions, whichever strikes their fancy.  But Jax is there, ready to compete, and thus he scores almost all of his team’s goals because he steals and dribbles and charges right at the goalie with a You’re Going Down! kind of attitude.  And all of it without an inappropriate push, shove, elbow, or tackle.  JDubbs and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Em and I made it to one of his practices and little sister was kind of bummed she hadn’t been able to play soccer this year, but next year we’ll be even busier, hustling her out of her tutu and into a soccer jersey all before lunch.

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I’m so proud of Jax for finding a niche that helps him gain all the benefits of teamwork and exercise, without being the bully we feared he might be.  And although he does often steal the ball, he’s not a ball hog and is a great cheerleader to his friends as well.  I couldn’t be happier for how his first team experience is going.

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And apparently, neither could he!

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So Long, Summer

I’ve been enjoying what has been a really outstanding New England autumn, with impressive foliage and warm, sunny afternoons.  But as much as I can appreciate living in Vermont at this time of year, I feel a twinge of sadness with every leaf that falls to the ground because I know that winter is not too far behind.  So today I am looking back on our incredibly memorable summer and remembering an afternoon at the beach with just Little H.

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I can’t remember where the big kids were, but I can tell this trip to the beach must have been impromptu, since she had neither swim diaper nor bathing suit.  What we did have was glorious, end-of-the-day golden light and time to hang out, just the two of us.  Two of my favorite things.

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When winter comes, although we are often hunkered down at home, it feels like our days are filled with activities and crafts and other ways to keep three kids happy in a small house.  Summer is so much more spontaneous and carefree; maybe it’s not just the warm weather I miss in the fall and winter, as much as the every-day-is-an-adventure mentality.

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Plus, who doesn’t love a baby walking around in just a diaper, with thighs like those?  Sigh…I miss summer already!

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Graphing Numbers With Kids, 2 Ways

Confession time: I have really enjoyed relinquishing my role as amateur homeschooler now that Jax and Em are in school.  I know that they will get a good dose of literacy, math, outdoor play, and creative fun every single day they are there, and that’s a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.  Now I can pull out a great craft, some fine motor fun, or a literacy game for the pure pleasure of it, rather than any sense of self-imposed obligation (I know, crazy Mommy).  But that also means that since I do it so infrequently, on a morning when Em bats her eyelashes and asks for something fun to do pretty please, I have no excuse but to get my act in gear.

Yesterday, after such a request, I showed her my Rub Some Dirt On It Pinterest board, where all my great ideas of the past are stored for a rainy day.  Sometimes there is a cool activity I did with Jax that I never got around to doing with Em, and she usually latches onto those.  This activity was no exception–she saw something involving blocks and construction and she wanted in.  So although I never intended to do any math games with her that morning, how can I say no to a little learning fun with my girl?

Graphing Numbers With Kids @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The first thing I did was create a sort of number line on the bottom of a piece of construction paper with Duplo block-sized columns running along the length of it.  I numbered the columns 1-9.

graphing numbers with kids @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then, without much direction (because I love to see how my kids interpret situations such as this), I told her to stack the appropriate number of blocks in each column.  Luckily she already knows her numbers (in part because of fun activities such as this) so I didn’t have to guide her; I just sat back and watched (and of course, took pictures.  When are my kids going to realize that moms don’t normally photograph every step of every activity they play? #bloggingmomproblems).  She immediately dug into our Duplo box and began stacking away.

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I noticed a few fascinating things right away, about how she approached the activity and also how different she is from me as far as learning styles (a little metacognition first thing in the morning never hurt anyone).  First, she gravitated toward the larger Duplos with the letters and numbers on them rather than the smaller, plain ones that Jax used when he did this right away.  I knew that she was going to run out of room on the page and that her columns were going to be larger than the paper.  I wondered if that was going to bother her and whether she would start over with smaller ones once she realized it (or if she has a more relaxed attitude about boundaries than her mom because Lord knows it was driving me nuts).  Secondly, she stacked them in her hand, rather than placing them in a line on the paper (which is also contrary to how I would have done it, but definitely smarter).  I also realized before she did that she was not going to have enough blocks of that size to finish the columns.  How would she handle that?

Graphing Numbers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Simply.  She found blocks of the same height (but different depth) and used those.  Now the OCD part of me went a little crazy and I had to restrain myself from “fixing it” for her and searching high and low for matching blocks.  It didn’t bother her, it was a perfectly appropriate solution, and Mommy definitely needs to get a life.

Meanwhile, because don’t forget there was a 1-year-old running around, I was trying to count Megablocks with Little H in a similar manner.  She does like the act of counting and usually wants to do whatever Em is doing.  She wasn’t feeling it that day, though, and when I tried to count with her (“1…2…”) she would say something random, like “nine” or “B,” and run away.  Okay, not interested.  But before I quit I asked Em if she wanted to give the same project a try with the Megablocks and she took the project to a new, 3-dimensional level.

Graphing Numbers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

It was awesome!  I was so proud of her for thinking outside the box. She really is so much more spatial than I am as a learner.  She ran into some of the same problems as before, but she solved them quickly and without any of my OCD tendencies.

Graphing Numbers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

She’s so much cooler than me.  Obviously.

When she was done, she proudly showed me her handiwork.  I asked her if she was very sure she was finished, and when she realized two of her columns were the same height, she figured out how to fix it.

I’m so proud of my Em for seeking out opportunities to learn and be creative, and for keeping me from being a lazy mama.  I am definitely lucky to have her.

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I hope I can be as cool as her someday.

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Third Time’s The Charm

There is no greater compliment to a photographer than when a family comes back to have their photos taken again and again.  It’s especially rewarding when I get to document the growth of a sweet little lady who was just a little peanut when we met last summer, and look at her now!

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These types of shoots are my favorite because all the parents wanted was for sweet little E to be herself, while I stood back and captured the fun.  The weather was a little iffy so she started out wearing rain boots, and they were the perfect and most fun accessory any one-year-old could ask for!  I can’t wait to get some for Little H!

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Sometimes taking photos doesn’t even feel like work.  It’s so much fun!

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So lucky to have the opportunity to hang out with E for a third time!

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An Easel: Take Two

What’s good enough for the big kids is good enough for the baby.  That is, if the baby has anything to say about it!  Let me at that easel!

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Well, since Mommy has a thing or two to say about it, let’s use the chalkboard side rather than all that paint while wearing a white shirt.  Just as exciting, not nearly as messy.  Hopefully.

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IMG_5404 Em, as usual, relished the role of big sister and wanted to show Little H all the easel-y ropes.  Little H thought the rope-showing was incredibly fascinating and loved every second of sitting at the big kids’ table with a piece of chalk in her hand.  Just like big sis.  A dream come true!  Just look at her smile!

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And then, Em showed her the eraser, and Little H’s head exploded.

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Maybe a little too much easel, too soon.

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An Easel: Take One

An art easel is one of those things that all houses with kids should have, but every parent has a love-hate relationship with it.  It takes up space, painting is messy, they never use it…I heard it all when I asked friends if I should buy one.  But even though I knew it might be more hassle than it was worth, I asked my uncles to buy one for the kids for Christmas last year, and I think it was the right choice.

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I don’t pull it out very often, and it does take up room in a house that doesn’t have much extra space, but even if we never use it again, I am happy that I got to watch my big kids work together to create something really special: a picture of our home.

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House, trees, family, sky.  They’re the ones who decided what to paint and it was their choice to share one piece of paper.  I was impressed at their teamwork but also at the finished product.  A truly great work of art!

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One that you know this mama is going to keep forever!

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