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

Posts for Photography 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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Emoting On: Baby Shower

Sometimes, there’s a day where you get to be treated like royalty.

My bachelorette party (dress up +Mexican food and margaritas and wigs + dance party + yard swimming)  was one of those days.

My wedding day (sleepover + set up in the chilly drizzle + a capella singing in the hide out room + the most beautiful, funny ceremony ever + epic dance party + after party) was another.

And now, my baby shower is a third.

One of the things those three days have in common is they were planned or supported by my special group of women. My Fierce Lady tribe, which yes, can sound super cliche — except it’s so true, so apt. I hope and pray if you’re reading this and you’re a lady of any age, you have this group in your life. If you don’t, I hope and pray you find one. I hope you search them out and cultivate them, in whatever way works best for you. These are my girls who put up with my intense organizational OCD needs, who humor my dramatic sensitive FEELS, and all the novel-length texts that let me EXPRESS MY FEELINGS and maintain some sense of calm. They let me take their picture all their time, and embarrass them with expressions of love, usually in the public eye. Who let me write about them and don’t just appear not to mind (please, tell me, someone, if you mind) but also follow what goes on here and reads.

The girls who let me be me, basically. Sometimes loud, sometimes overemotional, sometimes too analytical me. All the little flaws that make me up — and these are the girls who look past the flaws and just see all the good things about me too, and remind me when I’m having a hard time seeing them myself.

I cannot stop gushing about this group of women and what a beautiful, peaceful, healing little idyll of a party they set up and planned for me — again. My baby shower was one of those days where all of the details seemed — for me, at least — to fall magically into place. The entire party was better than I could have even imagined. When I heard who all was involved planning it, I kinda hoped — but these girls went above and beyond, over the top.

Who was there was a huge part of why it was such a special day. There were people who couldn’t make it, people missing, and I wish they could have been there — but as it was, so many of my favourite people came together. The group was made up of such funny, clever people, there was no way we couldn’t have a good time. Rachel, Alison, Erin, Jeannie and Lauren all worked together to pulled together to create this little magical haven of ladies, it truly felt like a day out of magazine or a book.

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The Home Place.

A visit to the Homeplace in Land Between the Lakes.

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Welcoming Jude, Part III: The Birth!

Part Three: The Birth
Finally, we get to the real heart of this series of posts — the actual birth of Jude, whom I affectionately call SB — Spirit Baby, for the way I told Emi I knew she was pregnant before she even thought was.

Have you read Part I and Part II?

Note: I’m only sharing a select few of these birth pictures, with Emi’s permission. Also — this is long, and therefore somewhat detailed — but not a very graphic birth story, since I was only an observer. Which is to say — you’re not going to get a lot of medical details, and this should be a fairly tame read — but if you’re squeamish about birth, you’ve been warned!

With all that background out of the way, I can finally get down to the actual birth, that experience that so awed and inspired me – and I have to start that story the week before Emi gave birth – not that we knew it, at the time.

There had been some concern, in the final weeks – every expecting woman’s nightmare: Emi’s midwife, beloved Candie was going on vacation on September 23. Emi’s official due date was September 24. Of course, none of us ever know when a baby is going to decide IT’S TIME – but there was a fairly decent chance Emi wouldn’t have the woman she’d trusted and met with her entire pregnancy with her when she gave birth – that she would be passed over to some stranger who didn’t know her preferences and her background.

And I think there was more to it than that – Emi is a doula, she’s worked with Candie on multiple births. There was a trust there, a working relationship – and after I met Candie myself, heard her talk and work with Emi throughout her birth – I knew Candie really wanted to be at Emi’s birth too, for her own sake.

So in the week before, there was a lot of concern, a fair amount of rush. As I packed my doula/photographer bag, slipping in last minute chargers and essential oils, Emi and I texted, pretty darn close to day and night. How’s my girl, I asked every morning, how are you feeling?

Her answers varied. Some contractions last night, she’d say, but they petered out. Nothing too exciting.

I finished my bag, double-checked everything, worked out a schedule to share the car with Shaun to where I had access to drive to Emi and Trav even if Shaun was at work. I admit – I was nervous myself. I wanted Emi to have her baby with Candie, before she left – but it was a difficult week for me in terms of juggling obligations. I’d gotten approval to miss work if Emi went into labor during the day, but this week was one where a fellow team member would be out one day and I would need to be there if at all possible, I had dance classes Monday and Friday, I had a practice for my work’s team Dragon Boat Races  on Friday, and was scheduled to row in the races with the rest of my work team on Saturday. I didn’t want to let anybody down – I didn’t want to make anyone mad or disappointed in me, and I didn’t want to miss out on any of it.

True to form, I tried to stress at first. What if Emi goes into labor on Wednesday when my coworker is out? What if Emi goes into labor while I’m teaching and I have to find someone to cover? What if she goes into labor just before the races start? Or in the middle, and I can’t leave? All the while, I tried not to bother Emi with my worries. My obligations were definitely not her concern, and I didn’t want to shove my potential problems in her face while she was waiting to go into labor, of all things.

After a few days of this, I went right back to that word – trust. You are just going to have to trust that it will work out, I kept telling myself, hearing my sweet mama’s advice in my own head. (Maybe I’m finally learning.) You are going to have to trust that it will work out as it should. Worrying about it is not going to change anything, or make anything happen. Rest, wait. See what happens as it happens.

Thursday is where things started to get interesting.

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