Monday, March 30, 2020

Grief & the mom load during social distancing.

I've got a whole lot of feelings swirling around right now which made me think, "it's been a while since I've written and shared." I came here to write and realized its been a WHOLE YEAR since I    had blogged. That made me sad, too. Now I have even more fuel to be here.

March 2020. You've been quite the month.
Oh wait, so were January and February and they don't seem to be letting up anytime soon.

I realize I've had a unique year but then again as this unfolds it's not so unique. But whatever you're scenario is, maybe you relate. Or maybe someone around you does. Or not, that's ok too.

I've been thinking about the layers that exist in this season for me.
Foe one, mom life has already been a big step toward isolation. In my pre mom days I went to a job where I got to be very social and interact with people both familiar and not. I served in a ministry in which I got to connect deeply on a regular level with young adults I am passionate about. I had freedom in my social life and plenty of space for date nights and random outings with my spouse. Throw a kid in the mix and all that kind of went out the window. I spent long days at home getting to know my baby and our new rhythm. I stopped seeing coworker and friends regularly. Dates were a rare occurrence. Ministry shifted significantly. I am very grateful for the changes our son has brought but they have been big changes none the less. And for an extrovert they have been hard changes.

Speed up to toddler mom life - we've made the best neighbor friends. We see neighbors regularly and being able to step back a bit while our kiddos play has been a mom right of passage and has lifted the load a bit. We have our routine with regular outings to enjoy, friends to see and adventures to have. We've (I've) worked hard for this. This community gives me life and Rainier loves his "fwends" too.

These friends got us through the worst months. The end of 2019 was hard and we were ready for 2020 but when my mom got sick on December 31st 2020 welcomed us with a quick turn downhill. Friends got us through the awful 11 days leading to her passing. Dropping everything to watch Rainier, making meals, bringing coffee, amazon delivering a new toy, simply being alongside us... It was awful but out people helped carry us.

Fast forward to March and that's been stripped away. Sure, there's zoom, FaceTime, texting, Marco Polo etc. but mom life leaves little room for those and none of those bring community for my son. This means my load is heavy. He doesn't fully understand the world around us (thankfully) but he also doesn't understand why our routine went out the window and he can't have the regular social rhythms that we love. He doesn't understand why now we can't stop by when we see a neighbor or use the playground at the nearby park. Sure, there could be a lot harder things to go through than solely entertaining a toddler but doing that on top of deep grief, a huge pile of estate logistics and exhaustion is HARD WORK. Creating space for emotions while managing those of a toddler is hard work. Processing the world around me and the uncertainty of all of this while carrying the motherhood load and my own pain is hard work.

I am not sure if you relate to this at all. I do think there are some great blessings being ushered in in this time but I in this moment I am here to say THIS IS HARD. And if you're feeling that, You are not alone. Sure, a bit isolated but I hope you breath a sigh of "me too" if this hits you a bit.

So many post and articles share the three points to ______ (fill in the blank; cope with anxiety, navigate grief during social isolation, etc.). And the positivity rolling around the internet is such a gift. But this post doesn't include those points. I see a post like that coming but this one is just to say, "Yup, this ish is hard my friends" but we're in it together (in spirit).

My sweet husband comforting our very emotional toddler who wanted to splash in this little creek we found but it was too cold. I feel you, kid. Lots of wanting what we can't have right now.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Happy birthday, little one.

As they say, "How in the world is my baby one?".

It's just another day yet he is ONE. It is surreal and significant and yet time just keeps going.

I so deeply want to sit here and process; to write eloquently about my experience and reflect on this past year but where do I even start?

We have shared 365 days together. It has been a big year.
One whole year of: learning, worrying, adapting, not sleeping, joy, love, growth, bonding and so much more.

They also say, "Just as you figure them out, they change." This feels 1000% true. Just when I had adapted and just when we got into a groove, BAM... Sleep regression, teething, cold, cold, dropping a nap, leap, ear infection, regression, feeding real meals, new breastfeeding rhythm, tantrums, learning to be mobile and getting hurt.. the list goes on.

There are so many directions I  could go... What I have learned about myself in becoming a mother, what I have learned about nurturing a tiny human, how many conflicting "truths" and options there are to sort through on how to raise a child, how my marriage has grown and deepened, how community has changed, what owning a business as a mom looks like, how God has shown up and molded me AND SO ON. Maybe there will be more posts on more topics but for now, how we've grown.

My how we've grown.
You were 7 pounds 4 ounces and 20 inches of love (read our birth story here). As they say, I    absolutely cannot believe you were ever that tiny. What a different one year and 15 pounds makes.
Before seeing or holding you your Papa proclaimed with such joy and honor that you were a boy, our son!
You arrived and we bonded right away. What a miracle that within moments of leaving the womb you knew just how to eat.
Everything was new for all three of us. Everything.
Days were so long and yet suddenly you were one month, six months and now a year old.
Papa took such good care of me so I could spend so much time feeding and snuggling you. You napped on our chests and fit so perfectly. That first month was full of rain, cozy gloom and slowness. Days were simple and we did all we could to soak up this fleeting and special season with you. Some of it is such a blur and some of it is still so real. I am so thankful for the six weeks we were simply together before Papa went back to work. I  saw new sides of him that evolved as he settled into his new role as father that deepened my love for him in new ways.

I struggled a lot with worry. What a significant blessing I have been entrusted with. And it turns out the internet is a dark whole of conflicting chaos and fears mixed with community, encouragement and wisdom. Thanks to your Papa and wise friends I found balance, empathy and support. This is a continual process. I now know as a parent I am in for a lifetime of things to worry about but God has shown up with such gentle reminders that I can lean in and trust His plan for you and for us. This will be a continual lesson, too.

I am so thankful for our breastfeeding journey. What a journey of commitment, physical depletion, joy, bonding and love. For so long it seemed like all we would do. Now it's a sweet, short connection in our day. It once was something I would fret over - the schedule, the amount you were eating, being away from you for too long.. but now it is a free flowing rhythm we've settled into so well (minus the current biting). Bottles, the pump and all it's pieces are now packed away. We used the last bit of frozen milk just before your birthday. I can't believe these elements are now in the past.

I  am so thankful for the people who have come alongside us. I've considered myself pretty good at tackling new things and figuring out how to do them well. You are not a thing and I certainly have not figured this all out. But that has brought me such rich support from so many. Lots of messages shared, questions asked, encouragement given and received, empathy expressed and connections deepened as I  journey further into motherhood. This would not be possible alone.

I  had no idea how much you would change in one year. I had no idea you would go from such a tiny, completely dependent newborn to such a strong, fun, independent little man. Of course, you still need me and want to be near me at most times but you venture off to explore, play independently and show us your personality. You blow me away daily.

I  had no idea how much I would change in one year. I had no idea how becoming a mother would stretch me. I had no idea I could be so exhausted, so in love, so unsure of myself and also so certain I    am who I  need to be for who you are. I  didn't know how much I  didn't know. And I still don't.

We both have so much to learn.
What I do know is I will do my absolute best to love you to the fullest of my capacity. To stretch, grow, adapt and learn as we enter each part of this journey. I will fail. I will mess up. I will disappoint us both. But I sure hope we encounter these moments with grace, deep breaths and that same love. I    will pray, pray, pray. For you, for your future, for the way we raise you, for the world around you and the impact you will have (and it will have on you) and so much more. These are declarations that will be tested and I won't always hold to like I wish I could. But I hope you know above everything else how incredibly loved you are.

There is a whole lot of harsh in this world but there is a whole lot more amazing. May our home always be a warm, nurturing and loving place to land. A place that points to a deeper love continually.

As I finally finish this you are closer to 13 months than 12.
You are so close to walking.
You are dancing.
You are strong in your opinions and feelings.
Your snuggles are the best.
There is nothing like your laugh.
You love dirt, mud and rocks and only want to be outside.
You are the cutest baby ever (said every parent ever).

We are so thankful for you!
You have changed us forever.
We love YOU!
Here's to year TWO.


These monthly moments bring all the feels.




Thursday, January 31, 2019

December Family Sessions

I decided it was time to share more of these images from December's Mini Family Session Day. I just love all these people and the moments that I got to capture with them.

First up - The Johnson Family.
Neighbors turned friends and now in front of my camera.









Next up - The Salcido-Perez Family.
Their sweet little foster babe arrived just in time for their session!







And finally, Rebecca & Michael and their fun little crew!






Thursday, January 10, 2019

Show up messy.

Last night my kitchen was pretty clean and tidy (much thanks to my husband and his nightly magic).
By 10:30am today it's not exactly looking so hot. Seriously. This is a glimpse. Our rental grout is not so cute, our cabinets are poorly painted, my dishes are a mess and I've got food in progress for a meal.

This morning's story time at the library led to some hang with a friend who is also now a mama of a 10 month old boy. We haven't seen each other in a long time and don't even know each other that well but we ran into each other and I invited her to come over to hang.

I knew my kitchen (and most of my home) were less than ready for a new visitor but I didn't really think twice. I love people and connecting and in this season that isn't always easy. So while I could have said, "Come over some time" so that I could prepare, I chose to say "Would you like to come over now?" and invite her into the reality. After all both of our babies were napped and fed so now was the time!

Honestly when she left I noticed things that needed attention and wondered if she noticed them too - the coffee grounds on the floor, the diapers that need taken to the trash, the post weekend trip unpacking explosions. She may have. But I think she gets it. We connected over the challenges and rhythms mom life has held for us in the past 10 months and I think we share some of the same struggles to manage it all. But even if she was nailing the tidy game I am not and that's ok. Sometimes my day doesn't allow it. Sometimes I choose to rest or connect with a friend or shower. But most of the time I am going to choose to invite people in and that includes the real. That's how we want our home to be. That's how we want to be as people. Open, welcoming, real. That is how our conversations were today and both of us left refreshed and grateful.

I don't say this to toot my horn at all. But maybe as some encouragement to show up where you are. Show up messy. Show up in progress. Connect with that friend even if you aren't in the best place emotionally. Invite people into your space even if it looks more like hoarders than fixer upper. Show up with your spouse even if wounds leave you guarded. Pitch that business idea to your boss or friend even if the details are up in the air.

I  read a quote on Instagram this week, "Their grass isn't greener, they are just using a filter."
It's easy to assume their kitchen is spotless, their marriage is without conflict, they are confident in their journey, they are patient with their kids... But we have to remember we never see the whole story. Don't let how their lives appear prevent you from living fully in the reality of yours. We all have our in progress areas and community thrives when authenticity matters more than perfection.


Friday, November 9, 2018

Moments into Memories - Client Print Guide

The hard part (hopefully the fun part) is over! Your session is complete.
But we're not done.

Time passes quickly and moments are fleeting. Digital is awesome but there are so many great ways to preserve your moments.

In our home we have fun collage prints, wood art, framed prints and photo books. But there are endless options to fit your style, home, creativity and more.
I am here to help choose and create art with you.

MEMORIES INTO ART || I would be glad to meet with you or plan a phone call to chat about your desires. Coffee, anyone? A great way to get started is to take a look at this inspiration guide. Maybe this gets the juices flowing. Or maybe you already know what you're longing for... Let's make it happen!

HOLIDAY CARDS || Can you believe it is that time of year? Take a look and choose you're favorite Christmas/Holiday card. Ordering is quick and easy and I take care of it all for you!


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Blurry baby days and daily ponderings

Are the teeth coming in hurting him and disrupting sleep?
Does he need to drop a nap?
Is it separation anxiety?
Is he bored? Does he need different toys? More baby friends?
Does he need to eat more solids? But food before 1 is just for fun, right?
Will solids help him sleep through the night?
Does he enjoy the farmers market and other outings?

These and other questions like them roll through my head throughout my days lately. They sound so lame but this sweet little man can't fully tell me how he feels or what he needs. And so I wonder.. Is he ok? Are we meeting his needs? Am I  doing this right? I couldn't have anticipated these questions would consume much of my day or that I would "worry" about things like this. Turns out what I  thought I  knew about being a parent was actually nothing. There are so many things I thought I would or wouldn't do as a parent but you really have NO idea until you're in it. Parenthood has already humbled me in reminding me how little I  know about things. It's all a learn as you go  (parenthood, life, each season).

I am guessing I will look back and all these new mom questions/worries/anxieties will be long forgotten. But I  don't want to fully forget... so I  am writing them. One day I will be long past this season and problems of school struggles, friend drama
and future girlfriends will plague me. But today, these are the things that often feel "big".

So often once a season is over I look back and it's all a bit blurry.
Already (and I thought for sure I wouldn't do this) the newborn season is a blur.
How did we survive? How did we figure out those first hours/days/weeks?
Did he really just sleep all the time?
Was he really that tiny? Did he really fit in that?
Did I really worry about that?

What do you remember about the early days of baby life?
Are questions like these a vague memory of mom life past?

Sometimes you are a mystery, sweet Rainier. But you're also a joy, you bring new to our life daily and we love watching you grow in personality and life.



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Half Way Point

We're at seven months - this little cub of ours is seven months old.
We have survived 6 months of parenthood!

Tonight he's asleep early and my husband is at work late and I've decided it's time to write. This is my way to process and to look back later when all of this feels a bit like a blur. I    am way behind on this!

I am also feeling sentimental because he's getting his first two teeth.
Who knew I would stop in my tracks and get teary eyed upon this realization? It's just one of those "big milestones" in the beginning and I feel so excited he's growing and also a bit like "how is this happening?".

If I am honest I see fresh little babies and I feel mixed. Partially I feel a fondness to the sweet, sleepy, squishy, take 'em anywhere phase. But partially I feel a bit like, "oh man, that was rough and I am glad we made it out". It's weird how I have already forgotten a bit of the crazy of those beginning weeks but it also still feels fresh and a bit scary. I've said it here before but I just had no idea what bringing home a baby would really look like and the new mom anxieties met my inability to function on little sleep in a rough way. Normally Charles is the optimist and I am the realist but he was much more mentally prepared for the challenge than I was.

Some days I feel like such a pro (I'm not - I just feel so glad I know more than I knew on day one).
Some days I feel just as anxious about new phases and what lies ahead.
I pray safety and protection over him every night. I think God for each new day.
I sometimes lay awake anxious about future decisions and how we'll raise him.

I try my best to soak up each day. Ok, not every hour. Some are hard and I want them to pass by but God is inviting me into a simplicity and presence. He's been doing this for a while but it's different now. Having a baby is definitely not simple. Taking care of home, groceries, meals, a little human, a dog, being wife, friend, business owner... This whole season isn't simple but in this season of getting to be home with my baby I am doing my best to choose presence. And while getting through each day can be complicated; there is a simplicity to sitting on the floor and playing with the same toys, reading the same books, going on the same walks, working on the next nap and doing it all over again. I am here. Somedays those moments feel really long but I feel God inviting me to slow down, say yes to the moment I am in and not rush off the next idea, place or season.

So here we are. Half way to ONE.

He is working out his first two teeth.
He is sitting, working on crawling and wanting to be independent. I try to snuggle him but he mostly wants to move about.
We are learning new rhythms and how to bring him into the ones we've already got.
We are one week from our first plane flight.
We are watching him grow and learn about the world.
We recently took our second camping trip and it was MUCH better than the first.
He still loves the fan and when we ask him where it is, he looks up!
I love seeing the joy on Charles and Rainier's face when they reunite in the evening. Papa's love for this guy gets my heart every day.
I know everyone says this about their own but we think he is the cutest and talk about it all the time (who are we?).
We're learning more and more how to be a team in the parenthood thing.