Small Moments

Starting up my daily photo project has reinvigorated my appreciation of small moments in our everyday lives: the way Em looks in the window light, Jax’s big boy swagger on the playground, Little H’s continued obsession with sniffing her Blankie and the kids’ love of learning and art.  Taking time to notice the tiniest things that make them who they are–because they’ll never be this age, at this moment, on this day again–is what brings me back to lifestyle photography every time.

Loving window light and small smiles.

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Looking bigger every day.

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Not too much longer with that Binky!  Stopping to smell the roses…literally.

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Doing what she does best.

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Savoring these small people in their small moments, capturing it all before its gone.

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On The Clock

  Monday afternoons are a testament to this busy mom’s ability to juggle schedules and various after-school personalities, as we begin our foray into dragging siblings along to one child’s extracurricular activity without the other two losing their damn minds.  I know I am just dipping my toes into the sea of insanity, so I’m glad we’re taking baby steps, but the pressure (to remember all the gear, to bring food no one hates or already ate that day, to bring books, toys and my cell phone charger for all manner of distractions…) is real. On Mondays, Little H and I peel into the elementary school parking lot, grab the big kids and head south to make it to Em’s ballet class just in time.  Their school teachers and I barely make eye contact before the kids are dragged out the door by the handle of their backpacks and herded through the parking lot to the van I left running so we can get in and go (if I haven’t even just parked illegally in front of the school and left Little H in the car to shave precious seconds off our time).  There are updates on our days to share, Purell to be passed around and snacks to be desperately devoured (do these children eat at all during the day at school?), and various forms of entertainment to be doled out to the biggest and littlest once we arrive at the dance studio, all before my attention turns to my tiny dancer, because we are on the clock.  Costume change, bun in place, ballet shoes on and she scurries upstairs to take her place at the barre before I have even had a chance to take off my coat.  Half the time I am still stabbing bobby pins into her hair at random as she is halfway up the stairs, Jax’s voice already echoing behind me that he is bored.  The only thing that gets me through it all are glimpses of this through the classroom window, that make it worth the sweat and tears (mostly mine).

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Once back downstairs, the natives have already begun to grow restless, and beyond Little H’s willingness to play PJ Masks for hours on end (“To the Cat Car!”), I usually come to ballet armed with a bag full of new library books to appease Jax and all manner of distractions for Little H.  This past Monday I knew was going to be unseasonably warm, so Jax, Little H and I took a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy some February fresh air and earn me a breather from little people begging to use my cell phone.

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The sky was gray with no sunshine to be found, and even as the sun sunk lower to the horizon and the chill began to penetrate my wimpy bones, Jax and Little H were having a blast.  Could outside play be the key to my Monday afternoon survival?  Since the two of them have only finally begun to find a middle ground–mostly centered around a shared love for Transformers Rescue Bots–and it’s freaking winter and freezing dark outside before ballet is even over, I have not really attempted this tactic before.  I forced myself to man up and stay outside as long as they wanted to see how this experiment would play out.

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The playground was a soggy mess from all the rapidly melting snow, but to my kids, all the world’s a stage, with plenty of imagination at their fingertips, With Jax in rare Patient and Engaging Older Brother form, and Little H not telling him to take a hike as per usual, these two didn’t need me at all.  When they discovered an actual stage, just perfect for an elaborate performance of Rescue Bots: The Dance Party Variety Show, I was in for quite a treat.

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Jax was born to emcee.

Their play was so elaborate and Little H’s dance moves so comical, I actually was sorry for it to end, even if I was shivering.  Stupid winter.  Never fear, I assume I will be attending Part II of this epic saga next week at about the same time, and will keep you posted on the dramatic conclusion of Which Bot Is The Fastest and What Will Boulder Paint This Week?  Ah, the fleeting joys of motherhood.  Cue the nonstop whining that they are hungry for dinner in 3…2….1…

Such is life in this slushy part of the year, with three kids all on the threshold of big extracurricular things.  Mud season appears to have arrived early, and I will attempt to appreciate these wintery afternoons while I have them, while dreaming of green grass and picnic dinners after ballet (even if that would require one more thing for me to remember to pack!).  I’m glad to have found a bit of a key to surviving the Extracurricular Activity Chaos Black Hole, and will try to look on the bright side and appreciate the chance for Jax and Little H to carve out some time together…at least while they’re getting along!

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Turning Seven!

Now how exactly did this happen?  Seven!

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For his birthday, Jax wanted to go see Marvel Universe Live, which was an awesome show and very worth seeing.  Since the tickets were pretty expensive, I told him if he wanted to do that he wouldn’t get to have a big friend birthday party, a deal he agreed seemed fair.  He decided he wanted to spend his actual birthday bowling with our family, something we don’t get to do very often since it’s a bit of a drive away.  It was a quiet, lovely morning, Nana and Papa made the trip with us, and we all had a lot of fun!

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For the grown ups, it was a blast from the past, and we loved watching the kids’ enthusiasm! We all loved it!

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We headed home to build Legos, play Mario Bros. (the theme of the day) and then have cake at Nana and Papa’s.  An easy, simple, lovely day to celebrate my sweet, favorite boy.

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A very happy birthday, my dear Jax.  We love you so dearly!  You are a joy to us all, even on your most challenging day!  I love your intelligent, funny, hilarious self.  Can’t wait to see what this year brings!

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Just Rainbows

Before Jax transformed into Harry Potter on Halloween, he had a chance for a practice run at a local autumn festival, with some of the best face painting I’ve ever seen.  The colors were so gorgeous; the photographer in me was so glad I brought my camera! I can’t ignore a rainbow.

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Jax rocked his lightning scar,…

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…and the girls expressed their inner Rainbow Brite, which I absolutely loved.

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The writer in me would like to pretend there is some kind of metaphor about how they are the light that shines through the rain, the rainbows of my life, but let’s be honest.  That wasn’t my intention at all.  I really just loved their face paint.  No bigger message necessary.

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Sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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 And maybe they are the light of my life, but we’ll save all that for another day.  For today, it’s all about rainbows!

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So Sweet It’s Scary!

This year, Jax and Em decided to be two of their favorite characters from pop culture for Halloween: Harry Potter and Elsa (specifically, Elsa from Frozen Fever).  Little H decided that she wanted to be what she loves most in the world–Em’s sister–so she chose to be Anna to Em’s Elsa.  All three of them were so sweet, so excited, and so ecstatic to be in character, I think it may have been my favorite Halloween yet.

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These two are just a joy.  I love watching what amazing friends they are, listening to them whisper when the lights go out at night, always looking out for each other.  Little H had several ideas of what she wanted to be on Halloween, all based on her own interests and likes, but for right now, there is nothing she loves more than being as close to her sister as can be.

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This guy’s brain is always going a mile a minute, and whether it’s reading at home, processing all the incredible learning that’s going on at school, or just being the cool kid he is, nothing is more perfect for him right now than to be Harry Potter.  It is everything I cherish most about him: his sense of adventure, his love of reading, his boyish charm, his fun.  He’s counting the days until he turns 11 and fully expects an owl to arrive with a piece of parchment in its beak, inviting him to Hogwarts.

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I’m going to have to work on that.

Our afternoon and evening was filled with friends, lots of food, candy galore and very happy children.

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What a memorable holiday!  So very sweet!

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Happy Halloween!

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Words To Live By

“At the end of the day,

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your feet should be dirty, 

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your hair messy,

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and your eyes sparkling.” ~Shanti

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Words to live by.

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The Dreaded Soccer Saturdays

Of all the wonderful and many-faceted delights of parenting young children, there is one upon which I looked with indifference at best, bordering on aversion and dread at worst: youth soccer.  I shudder!

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The hours spent at the field on chilly, damp fall mornings, one hour for Jax, one hour for Em, trying to juggle Little H between parents and keep her occupied for the duration.  The sheer chaos of thirty five- and six-year-olds let loose upon a small area, me trying to keep my head down so no one mistakes me for a parent who has ever once in her life actually played soccer and may, therefore, be willing to volunteer to help.  I’m content on the sidelines, camera in hand, watching my two big kids bounce off their classmates and try to keep their feet underneath them, taking photos of their sweetly determined expressions.

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The more I watched the practices, though, the more I realized that as painful as these mornings might be for me, I know two little people who are gaining all the skills and confidence that come from team sports, even in the beginning stages.  No small thing, that.

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And maybe, just maybe, I know a mom who smiles watching her kids soar outside their comfort zone, improving with every week’s practice, and glows with pride when they both–even sometimes clumsy Em!–show some real promise and natural inclination to do well in this sport.

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So I guess I better get used to these dreaded Soccer Saturdays, with all the happy faces going around.  I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere soon (and I know, I know, I guess I don’t really want them to, either!).

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