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“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Family Category

Church.

Stillness was one of my words for 2017. Cultivating stillness — not necessarily remaining still, but making sure to find time to slow down, or stop. Scheduling that in, making moments of quite and peace a priority. I am a better everything when I am making self care a priority. We are all better, calmer, more patient with each other, when we focus on creating moments to stop and simple be quiet with ourselves, to check in.

We have not been very still this month. We indulged in a rather lazy March, taking time to slow down almost to the point of stopping. Not rushing, not living just to survive and put one foot in front of the other in front of the other. So, you know, that meant we were behind on everything, in April. So these last two weeks have been working weeks, actually following through on tasks and making sure we do projects that have been on the to-do list for a little while. I’ve undergone some major changes in my work, dealt with some situations. Did a lot of making choices and deciding what was most important to me, weighing my priorities.

We’ve been busy, we’ve been working hard, being responsible. Pushing ourselves to be social and productive. And we were tired.

So — finally, I got some comp time for working on-call. Our plan was simple — the same thing we always do if we actually manage to both get a day off and good weather and no pressing demands. I went to work for a couple hours, came home, packed up my family and headed over the river to Lake Glendale.

Taking trips, even shorter ones, with a baby can be — well, complicated. There’s a lot more planning than there used to be. We try and be minimalist in our packings, but we also like to be prepared for potential-probable situations. And you know, trying to stick a time table with Baby can be laughable. If you really need them to nap before you leave, and they usually nap at 9:30, you can bet the day trip will be the day she decides she doesn’t want to nap at 9:30.

But although we aren’t experts, we’ve grown enough in our parenting chops over the last 8(-almost-9-ugh)months to the point where we know we can handle it. We know Ari will get fussy at some point during a longer jaunt out, and that we are capable of handling that. We will try all the tools in our arsenal, and if for some reason, those don’t work, we’ll get inventive new ones until we handle the situation. And, if worst comes to absolute worst, we can always go home. Has any parent not had that moment where you went, ah, this isn’t worth it, and left your shopping cart or the drive-thru line or the party early, and just went home. It’s rare, these days, and I’m so grateful for my baby girl’s empowerment and growing patience — but it’s nice to know it’s always an option.

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The drive went smoothly, Ari had had a little nap but not for long that morning. She started to think she maybe-kinda-coulda been a little sleepy on the drive, fussing here and there, but generally content, easily distracted. The sky was that stupid spring blue, like audacious with those big cartoon clouds. The fields were full, golden flowers, white lacy ones, tall grass. We had the radio playing, we took our time we did not rush. We arrived and found the park nearly empty. Already, sitting on our picnic blanket, the pines stretching overhead, the dogwoods fluffy — we realized how still it was. We didn’t have radio or TV or phones or internet or conversations or gossip to distract us.

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A Two-Month Letter to My Daughter

[Previously in this series…]

Dear Ariadne,

Just the other night, your papa said, man, she’s been here eight weeks. Just eight weeks.

Eight weeks felt like an eternity. Or I guess what I mean is, the actual time you’ve been here with us feels like an eternity. To say out loud, eight weeks, two months — those phrases sound like a short amount of time. An impossibly short time — surely, you’ve been with us forever? I remember my mom, your grandma Marmee Suh, saying to me while I was pregnant, once she’s born, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without her. You won’t be able to remember what it felt like to live life without her. It’s so true. It’s only been eight weeks — the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of years and decades. But now that you are here and we have spent a good chunk of time with you, I really can’t remember what life was like before you.

I suppose you could say some of the newness of having a baby is worn off.  I still have moments of that holy wonder and shock — this is my child, I made her, she belongs to me and I am  her mother. But they’re spread out through the day now. Every single moment isn’t a moment of wow, woah, how anymore. We’ve settled into our roles as mom and dad and daughter, and while your papa and I aren’t experts yet, we seem to have managed to learn how to take care of you well enough to the point where some (some!) of the time, it feels easy and familiar.

I am cherishing every minute I get with you these days. I will admit, there were a few days here and there, around weeks five and six, where I got a little — not burnt out, exactly. But I felt more comfortable in my mothering skills, and I’d had weeks of being home and taking care of you, and I took it for granted, a little. I set you down whenever I had the chance. I tried to buy a little extra time in bed snoozing before I got up with you. I still loved being with you and being a new mom — but I was happy to have my arms free, or get more accomplished during the day. And then it hit me that this maternity leave home with you won’t last forever, and I was coming to the final weeks home alone with you every day. I really thought about what it would mean to leave you with others for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Do my 40+ hours. I couldn’t imagine it. I’d known it was coming, all along, but I’ve been dreading going back to work after having you literally since I was pregnant.

I won’t focus on that now, because we still have some time left, and I want to enjoy every minute, instead of weeping off and on all day long like I did that day. After that day, I stopped taking this new mothering time for granted. I knew my time with you would be limited once I went back to work, and so the more menials tasks of taking care of you stopped seeming like chores. It is a privilege and a delight to rock you to sleep, even at four in the morning. I am lucky to have you fall asleep on my chest, and I spend even more time looking at you, drinking you in, stocking up all these memories for when I go back to work. I’ll be wearing those moments of bonding like armor as we all transition into this next stage together.

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Photography: Emi’s Maternity Session

Emi, Family, Friends, Jackamo, Maternity, NaeNae, Photography, SB, Travis - Emily - September 6, 2015

So, first things first — I’d never done any sort of real photo shoot before this. I’ve always pestered my friends and family by taking a hundred million pictures at every event big or small, and this year, learning more about photography was one of my goals.

It started with buying a nicer camera, and learning how to use it. Then I started trying to really frame pictures, pay attention to the light. And then — I needed an opportunity, and one of my best girls, my soul sister Emi gave me that opportunity.

Back when Shaun and I were getting married, we gave someone a similar opportunity. A coworker’s sister had always taken pictures in a sort of amateuer photograph capacity, if someone just needed or wanted some nicer than average pictures of their family. But she was looking to branch out further — and she happened to work out perfectly for Shaun and me. After the warm-up engagement session she did with us, we were completely confident in her ability to shoot our wedding. She needed that opportunity to shoot her first wedding ever, with a laid back, easy-going couple willing to take a chance on someone who had never shot a wedding before, but wanted to learn how.

I feel like Emi gave me my turn for her maternity and family shoot. She wanted some pictures, I wanted the opportunity to shoot them — to challenge myself and see what I was capable of, to see if this was an avenue I should continue pursuing. I felt so nervous — one the one hand, this was something I felt in my gut that I could excel at — and on the other — I am always full of self-doubt. I didn’t want to fail my best friend in such an important request. I didn’t want to talk a big talk and then not live up to expectations.

Happily — I’m really, really pleased with the end result.

Shaun and I took Travis, Emi, and the little ones Jack and Norah to the nearby park. Shaun fought monsters with Jack and Norah while I shot Emi and Trav, and then we all wandered over to the woodland trail to do some shots together, and some of Emi with her babies. These kids are absolute dolls, there is never a dull moment, with Jack imagining monsters and bad guys and heroes of all kinds, and Norah picking everyone flowers, and naming her fuzzy-wuzzy Sally. Sally’s a boy, though, she’d correct you gently. Always, with this family, I can see plainly how much they love each other, how much these two young parents care about their kids, and care about raising them into incredible human beings.

I can’t wait to meet Baby#3 (SB) in just a few weeks — especially as I’m going to be birth photographer, and will get to photograph this same beautiful family again.

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