Sunday, September 27, 2015

their toys, take 3

I would say I'm maybe having too much fun with these, but I don't think there is such a thing. Check out the rest over here. =)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

that "turning 35" post I kinda sorta promised

A few days ago I turned 35 years old. It feels like one of those big milestone numbers. Which I guess also feels apt to life right now.

The past year has been one of pretty intense introspection and growth. The past year(-ish, plus a few months) brought a lot of massive changes-- moving across the country, again, to a place that was both familiar yet still different and new; moving away from people who were some of the best friends I have ever had; my brother's death; beginning homeschooling, a venture that has been equal parts terrifying and exhilarating.

Some of these changes were ones we actively chose and had control over, some we did not. Either way, they meant a lot of emotional work. They meant getting to know a new neighborhood and city all over again, finding where all your new favorite local places will be. Trying to make new local friends. Helping my now-old-enough-to-really-feel-the-pain-of-moving kids with the Very Big feelings of loss they felt (particularly D) at leaving behind a beloved home and beloved friends. My first real experience with loss of a loved one. Talking with my kids about death, and facing up to my own mourning and regret over opportunities missed. Examining what I mean by family, who deserves my time and attention, and how to be intentional about making time for those who matter to me.

Homeschooling has led me to re-examining my views on parenting and the relationship between a parent and child, and my attitudes towards many rules/principles within our household. I feel even more firmly rooted in some of my values, and have completely changed my mind on a few others. That is one of the fascinating lessons in growing older, how I keep finding myself finding out about new things, and whole new worlds opening up as I expand my mind to consider new ideas I never would have before.

Zach has now been at his post-MBA job for just over a year, and we've been having many talks about his career and the future, which also include many questions about how we want to structure our life as a family-- what are our needs? What kind of a lifestyle do we want to strive for? What trade-offs are we willing to make?

And among all this, I have also been thinking about my goals. As my own person. About my roles and goals and desires as a Wife, as a Mother, as a Woman. And many of those work together, and many conflict, and how to deal with that? Thirty-five years into life, eleven years into marriage, seven years into parenthood, and these questions remain relevant because the answers continue to evolve and change as all of life does. I used to really shy away from setting anywhere near to concrete goals for myself because setting goals means having to actually start doing work towards them, which is really scary because what if you fail? Or find you just suck? But I'm finding myself feeling more comfortable with thinking about what I want for the future, and what of that I want to try to achieve sooner and what can wait till later. Some of this is smaller things, like taking time to read the books I want to read and watch the shows and movies I want to watch, without feeling guilt at "wasting" time on doing things simply *gasp* for pleasure. Some of it feels bigger, like maybe one day wanting to go back to school or pursuing more with photography.  It's a constant teeter-tottering trying to find that ever-shifting balance between my own needs and wants and those of my family, and how to find that balance, that compromise that feels satisfying without the risk of breeding resentment.

One big goal I have had for myself, and will continue to strive for always, probably, is to be mindful and intentional with my time and my choices. Coping with the shittier parts of life can be a little easier when you chose them as a trade-off for other things you wanted even more. And some things we don't have a choice over-- but even then, we often can make the choice to own the situation we are in, if that makes sense, and try to make it our own.

So it's been kind of a heavy year, and some of it has felt very sad and frustrating, and some of it has been amazing and wonderful.  I have been reminded many times over of what great people I have in my life, who love me and support me and there is no way to describe how incredible that feels. Lately I also have often marveled at how heartwarming and humbling it is to feel so intensely loved and needed by my children, in that way only your children can. Parents, especially we stay-at-home parents, often lament feeling like we have lost ourselves in caring for our children, and I struggle with that sometimes too, but in many ways I also feel the most like MYSELF now than I have ever before, certainly before I had kids. Or, well, maybe like I am at the best version of myself. Like I know myself and (despite that inner critical voice that lingers so peskily) feel most comfortable in my own skin than I have before.

So, I guess, here's to 35 great years, and to (hopefully) many more ahead. And to more pondering and exploring and learning and growing.

Friday, September 11, 2015

random thoughts as I prepare to greet the big 3-5

Things that make me feel like a stereotypical middle-aged housewife:
  • being way super over-excited about a grocery home delivery service
  • day-dreaming of a fancy new vacuum cleaner for christmas
  • thinking that the 90's were only about a decade ago
Things that make me feel like I'm still just pretending to be a grown-up:
  •  our completely mis-matched hodge-podge house, filled with furniture that either came from Ikea or has been with us since college. 
  • my style has changed, like, almost none in the past couple of decades. My daily go-to outfit when I was 20-- jeans, a tank top, and a light hoodie. I still wear the same thing 98% of the time (ok, I sometimes swap out the jeans for yoga pants)
  • I also still pretty much cook the way I did when I was in college (mac & cheese + frozen veggies FTW!)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

including myself in the frame

I am my family's documentarian. I have always felt drawn to capturing moments in time, but becoming a mother really kicked that desire into high gear. I love creating something beautiful (at least to my eyes), and I love capturing my children as they grow, and over these past 7 years I have been able to merge these two things together and it's been pretty wonderful in many ways.

It also means that since I am behind the camera 99% of the time, I am often left out of the photos. Over the years I've tried to find ways to include myself in the picture (literally and figuratively, see what I did there?), using mirrors, timers, or just holding the camera at arm's length for a selfie-before-it-was-called-that. I have a series of "mommy and me" shots with each of the boys that I started with them as babies and has been made much easier since the advent of front-facing cameras on smartphones (one day I will compile these photos into a photo book). When I was 8 months pregnant with Donovan I attempted a "diy maternity photoshoot" which was kinda fun. I even at one point had a wired remote for my camera that I experimented with some, but even then the wire is only so long so you're kinda limited on what you can do with it.

As it turns out, my current dslr has built-in wifi, which can connect to a Canon app on my phone which makes wireless remote shooting really, really easy and awesome. I'm kinda kicking myself for not having become familiar with this system before now. I've been playing around with it the past few days and am pretty excited by the whole new world of opportunities this opens up. I want to try out a self-portrait project, as something totally different and also because my kids aren't very cooperative models these days anyway (Quinn actually yells "Stop taking pictures!!" at me if he catches me holding a camera near him). I'm REALLY excited about this whole new (and stealthy) way to capture the moments of our days, with me and the boys together. Today I set up my camera in corners of the room and captured us doing things like just watching a movie and reading bedtime stories.

I am also realizing that I should buck up and get myself a proper tripod. I have a gorillapod that works ok, we have enough different-height furniture around that I can set it up in a more-or-less desireable height where needed, but yeah. I don't know why I've held out this long.

These are some of the very first pictures I took after figuring out I could do this (also, before I remembered how to set the timer on my camera so I could press the button and have time to hide my phone away), and they're not the best but I also just really like them anyway. Partially because yeah, they capture a lot about our lives right now anyway (me sitting on the floor looking at my phone? Quinn on my lap? Yeah).

I feel excited and re-energized by all the potential here, and it's a really fun place to be particularly since I've felt kinda creatively low for a while.It feels good to feel inspired.


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