Thursday, December 19, 2013

Early Morning Lessons

Several weeks ago we received a letter from Tyler’s teacher inviting us to his Kindergarten Christmas play. Accompanying the letter was a note informing us that Tyler had been cast as “The Real Santa,” amongst a flurry of other “Santa imposters.” His teacher kindly included some possible costume suggestions (ie red sweats, black shoes, Santa hat) as well as a note: PLEASE DON’T STRESS ABOUT COSTUMES.  

In the weeks leading up to the play, Tyler diligently practiced his three songs and two very important lines. Ryan and I quizzed him daily and encouraged him to let us hear his best booming Santa impression. I picked up a Santa hat and a red shirt, knowing that he already had a pair of red pants that would work perfectly. We were all set.

Or so I thought.

Tyler woke up this morning, the day of the play, declaring that he did not want to be “The REAL Santa.”

Me: “Tyler, why don’t you want to be Santa? You’ve been practicing your lines and your songs and you’re all ready to go.”
Tyler: “Because my costume doesn’t look like Santa!”
Me: “What do you mean, we picked out exactly what your teacher suggested.”
Tyler: “Yeah, but I don’t look like the REAL Santa! All of the other Santa’s have beards and they look like Santa and I don’t. And I’m supposed to be the REAL Santa!” (insert flailing arms here.)

At this point, Ryan gives me the side eye and reminds me that we’ve had weeks to get his costume together.

Me: “I had no idea he needed a beard. The note said nothing about a beard!”
Tyler: “I’m just not even going to be in the play. I’ll just watch.”
Ryan: “Tyler, you are going to be a great Santa, the BEST Santa.”
Tyler: “No, ______ is going to be the best Santa. He has black shoes and a costume AND he has a beard!”
Me: “ Seriously? The note said: DON’T STRESS ABOUT COSTUMES. And it was in BOLD print. What does that kids over achieving mother do? For real. Apparently she has nothing else to do ALL.DAY.LONG.”

So…before 8AM even rolled around, I found myself at Walmart searching one unorganized shelf after the other for anything remotely resembling a beard. If you know me at all you understand the courage it took to even step inside the door of that godforsaken place. Complete act of desperation. And there were absolutely no Santa beards to be found. Lucky for me, I have a very accommodating husband who was willing to carve some time out of his day to make a trip to Party City. So our kid might not have the boots or the suit or the ridiculously oversized belt, but he’ll have a beard. Call it what you want but I’m going to call it success.

I learned an important lesson this morning. Ok, I learned THREE important lessons. One, there will always be parents who go above and beyond what is required and it is very unlikely that said parent will ever be me. At some point, if for nothing else but my own sanity, I am going to have to come to terms with this fun little fact. Two, it’s absolutely impossible to be an attentive wife, doting mother, full time employee AND ensure that your kid has a costume for the school play, properly fitting apparel for pajama day and a healthy snack to share for the class party. And three, it’s probably a good idea if I refrain from judging how mothers who cannot follow simple attire suggestions spend their time as I’m now sitting here sincerely hoping that the words “What does your mom DO all day?” do not come out of the REAL Santa’s mouth today.

Parenting is tough work, my friends. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Black Friday to Remember

I am not one to participate in Black Friday. Rifling through advertisements, waking up at the crack of dawn and fighting for a parking spot within 9 miles of a store, only to pray to God that  some crazed lady doesn't run you down in an effort to save 3 bucks on a set of Pyrex? No thanks, not my cup of tea. I did brave the cold, crowds and crazies once though, several years ago. And for what it's worth, I did score the last $36 train table. But I also got in a car accident and watched a man punch another man right in the face for cutting in line at Toys 'R Us. I wouldn't exactly call that a win.

This year I spent Black Friday with the boys. And I couldn't imagine a better deal than that. Tyler and I got up early and finished coloring a picture of a turkey for a local post Thanksgiving coloring contest. Ty had a very specific vision of what this turkey should look like and I was allowed to help bring the vision to reality but in no way was I allowed to deviate from the plan. The turkey turned out to be a very colorful little fella. And we're both convinced he's going to win (although if that's going to happen I better get the envelope into the mailbox.)

Next we headed to the basement and dug out the holiday decorations from under the stairs. We set up the Christmas village and for the first time I didn't have to convince Tyler how cool it was (hello, tiny houses!) He was beyond excited.
Even Matty picked out his favorite figurine, one of a man and woman hugging. He handed it to me and said "nuggle (snuggle) awhile?" That's a common phrase in this house. One that used to fool us into letting him stay up just a little while longer...but we're catching on. Slowly.
After decorating the tree and wrapping the banisters with garland (which I took zero photos of because I was too busy trying to prevent Matty from pulling every ornament back off said tree), Tyler and I took a break for a game of Sorry.
He kicked my butt, and it had nothing to do with my lack of effort. He legitimately beat me.
After lunch in our pajamas and some matchbox car racing, we decided it was the perfect afternoon for a little Christmas cookie baking...
 And decorating...
And stealing.
Every time I turned around I caught Matty with one chubby little hand in the freezer (where the cookies were supposed to be cooling) and the other desperately trying to shove an entire bedazzled Christmas tree into his mouth.  
We finished the night with snuggles, full bellies and classic Charlie Brown Christmas flick. Perfection.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall Came....and went.

Fall is my favorite season, hands down. And with Minnesota's unpredictable weather, you can never be too sure how long it's going to stick around. Ryan and I typically pack as many fall themed outings into the months of September and October as we possibly can. A pumpkin patch, a corn maze, a haunted house or two. I'm not quite sure what happened this year (life, maybe?) but we just didn't get as many things checked off our fall bucket list as usual.

We did however squeeze in a trip to our favorite pumpkin patch (6 weeks ago!). It's only a few miles from our house and it's run by a large family. Something about hundreds of pumpkins, free hay rides and the fact that they rely on the honor system when purchasing your goodies is just really neat.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Behind the Photo

This year I booked dozens of photo shoots, met many wonderful parents and took hundreds of photographs of their smiley {or not so smiley} children. Nearly every single one of those sessions began the same; with a sweet Mom who had clearly invested a decent amount of time and energy ensuring that faces were clean, outfits were coordinated and the shoot was not scheduled smack in the middle of Game Day Sunday. And while I most certainly admired the effort, more often than not, those sessions ended the same. With Mom worrying that a redo was definitely in order.
I never scheduled a single redo {newborns not included!} 

Because, here's the thing, "when it comes to kids and photographs, you never know what you're going to get." I hear it all the time. From parents, from friends and from fellow photographers. And sure, there is a bit of truth to that. You don't know if little Jack is going to pull through with that grin you practiced the entire car ride over or if sweet Ainsley is going to decide that her carefully chosen princess dress is the perfect attire for bug catching and puddle jumping. But you do know what you're going to get.

You're going to get goofy grins. 

You're going to get grumpy scowls.

And you may even get a tantrum or two.

You're going to get dirty hands. 

You're going to get wrinkled shirts.

You're going to get imperfect.

You're going to get real

And maybe it's just me but aren't those the best kind of photographs anyways?

So in the coming months, as your newsfeed becomes inundated with smiling faces and your mailbox fills with Christmas cards of families who appear as if they stepped straight out of a LandsEnd catalog, remind yourself that there is always an "imperfect" photo {or 10} that preceded that shot.

And those photos? They might look a lot like skinned knees, squished caterpillars, tear-stained cheeks and husband's who proclaim that family photo day is indeed the "," but don't discard them. 

Print them. Frame them. Love them. 

They are after all the ones that tell the real story. 

Your story.  

**If you're in the Minneapolis area and looking for a photographer, check out Elyse Rethlake Photography. Not only is Elyse insanely talented, but she has a serious knack for catching the beauty of everyday. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Three Years

I will trust you and honor you,
I will laugh with you and cry with you,
I will love you faithfully,
Through the best and the worst,
The difficult and the easy,
I will always be there whatever may come.
As I have given you my hand to hold
So I give you my life to keep
For where you go, I will go and where you stay I will stay.
Three years ago today, I made the best decision I’ve ever made. I married my best friend. The one thousand ninety-five days since have been filled with plenty of ups, numerous downs and lots of days in between. Not every day is perfect, in fact, very few are.  But there is nobody I would rather be spending my imperfect days with than this guy.