Friday, March 8, 2013

A Worthwhile Trade

A couple of weeks ago, with Tyler playing happily outside and Matty down for a nap, I made the choice to trade a couple of hours of uninterrupted editing to sit on the couch and watch a mindless afternoon movie. I knew it was pretty unlikely that an entire two hours would pass before I heard unintelligible babble from the nursery or I was bombarded with requests for cookies, a glass of juice or a pair of dry mittens, but I clicked through the channels anyway. I quickly realized that the best it was going to get was The Women. I accepted my fate and began watching and thinking about unfolded laundry, unedited photos and an upcoming birthday party that I was entirely unprepared for.

Aside from a slight case of Meg Ryan envy, I expected to get exactly nothing out of the movie. Except? Near the end, Meg (in all of her amazing hair glory) said something along the lines of “You can have it all. But do you really want it?” This simple sentence on any other day would have slipped right by me, absentmindedly overlooked.  Yet on this day, it didn’t. Maybe it was because this particular day had come after 27 other days in which I had thought long and hard about my priorities and time and how increasingly difficult it was becoming to manage both. 

While I am sure there are women out there who are able to balance the role of motherhood with a plethora of other important roles; that of wife, friend, daughter, employee, gardener, cook and entrepreneur, I learned long ago that I am not one of them. In my world, if too much time or emphasis is placed on one of those roles, the others inevitably suffer. Regardless of how badly I would like to be able to give 100% to everyone and everything, at the end of the day I am forced to make choices. Hard choices. The kinds of choices that are not clearly defined as right or wrong but are more about what is good and what is best. 

During the last few years, I have fallen in love with photography, and it has been good. The chance to meet so many wonderful families and “re-meet” old high school friends and acquaintances who in ten years, have married and become great parents to their own sweet little ones? More than good. Photography, in so many ways, has been a huge blessing to me. It has challenged me in new ways and provided a creative outlet that I didn’t even know I needed. It has allowed me the opportunity to give back to others and for my eyes to be opened to the kindness of absolute strangers. But photography, while good, is not what is best. What is best is being able to tuck my boys in at night and watch the latest Netflix release with my husband while not feeling the least bit guilty that there is editing to be done or thank you cards to be written. Best is a Saturday afternoon spent building a snowman in the front yard or the feeling of tiny arms wrapped tightly around the back of my legs as I attempt to unload the dishwasher. I don’t want to miss out on those things. I don’t want to miss one.single.second of living room fort construction, afternoon board games or Tyler pleading for a “summer machine” for his birthday, despite the fact that I haven’t a clue what it is. Capturing the wrinkly feet of a brand new baby or an adoring glance between a daddy and his daughter feels good. But it doesn’t feel “best.” Being with MY three boys does. And as a working mama with an already limited amount of time, that is exactly where I need to be. 

After much consideration I have decided to take an indefinite break from photography. While I will honor all gift certificates previously sold and very much look forward to the shoots that I have on the books, I will not be scheduling any additional sessions. This decision has been a difficult one but at the end of the day I know that when the time is right, my camera {and hopefully a new lens or two} will still be there. But family snuggle time and children who still beg for “just one more” bedtime story? That's brief. And I owe it to my husband and kids to trade what’s GOOD for the very BEST.  

"Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow, his name is today." – Gabriela Mistral

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Day at the Zoo

A couple of weeks ago, to celebrate Matty's birthday and to get the heck out of the house, we took an impromptu trip to the zoo.

Tyler insisted on bringing his own camera along to ensure he got pictures of all of his favorite animals. I love looking through his camera. It's like a little peak inside his thoughts.

After making an initial stop to see the penguins {my favorite} we headed to the Tropics Trail. We checked out the turtles, monkeys, frogs and flamingos.

Matty was less than impressed and far more interested in what we packed for snack.

We cannot ever pass by this ugly fish without Tyler stopping to say hello. The fish attempts to bite anyone who knocks on the glass, which Tyler finds hilarious. I honestly cannot remember a time when that fish wasn't in that tank. I'm kind of impressed it's still hanging in there.

Next up was the Minnesota Trail. The trail runs outside and it happened to be freezing out {go figure} so I snapped one picture and quickly pushed the stroller through. Tyler's camera? Full of images of a coyote, wolf, bald eagle, wolverine and a fisher. Apparently he was dressed for the weather.

Last stop was Discovery Bay, which is much less exciting in the absence of the dolphins, but fun nonetheless. We touched a starfish and a stingray and took one last peek at the fish.

Then stopped for a quick face painting before heading home. Handsome guy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

For the Love of Books

Tyler loves to read. He always has. When he was tiny, I would rock him in the nursery and recite Goodnight Moon and I Love You Stinky Face from memory while he snuggled into my neck with his right thumb tucked securely into his mouth. As he grew into a curious toddler, his love of books grew right along with him. It was never a struggle to get him to sit through a story and one of his favorite places was the library. If the house grew silent, I didn't worry that he was off coloring the beige walls a bright shade of green...I knew I could always find him parked in front of his bookshelf or tucked into a cozy corner, surrounded by heaps of books.

At nearly six years old, Tyler's collection of books has outgrown the shelves in his bedroom, spilling into Mattys' room, the toy room and various bins and baskets throughout our house. There are books he received for his birthday, Christmas and Easter and many from before he was even born. Classics, lovingly inscribed with sweet messages from aunts, cousins and friends on the day of his book-themed baby shower.

Our compilation includes those ordered from Scholastic, purchased from our church book store and still others that were passed down to Tyler from when Ryan was a little boy. We even have one that I grabbed on a whim on my way out of a local thrift store. As we snuggled in later that night to read it, I noticed there was an inscription inside the front cover and immediately recognized the handwriting as Ryan's moms. The book ended up being one that she had given to a daycare kid as a gift some fifteen years earlier. Small world.

Each night before bed we have the same routine. Tyler changes into his pajamas, brushes his teeth and picks out five books of his choice. Somewhere along the line we made a rule that the number of books we read should coincide with his age. Four books at age 4, five at 5, etc.

Sure there are nights when we read two books and he's out cold...

and others when we read many, many more. 

But for the most part? We stick to 5.

The only other rule is that Tyler's selection of 5 books cannot include more than one Berenstain Bears book. Because if he could, he'd hand us stacks and stacks of those books and we'd be in his room all.night.long. Stan and Jan sure had a lot to say.

Raising a kid who loves to read is by far one of my proudest parenting "accomplishments." And despite the ridiculous amount of books that we already have, I am always on the lookout for great new additions. Below are some of our favorites; please share yours... I'm sure we're missing out on some great ones!

Monday, March 4, 2013


Chinese food, cake and my three favorite boys? 28 isn't looking so bad.

{Loving how Matty's expression never changes. Poor kid is forced to be a part of this crazy clan}