Saturday, April 25, 2015

baby a

IMG_8840 I haven’t been posting many previews for clients.  Just so much going on!  But I have to document here that I love my job.  I get to see the best parts of family life and capture them with my lens.  I get to get out of my own life and see into another, different, but similar enough in little ways to remind me that life is pretty fantastic.  I love how photography freezes a moment, strips away all the noise and chaos and lets you look into it the present, to see how truly lovely it is.

I loved meeting this couple and their brand new little baby.   During our session no one tried to push anything and in return this little lady did everything just right.  We had a morning filled with baby peace.  I had to tear myself away to go back to my own little (but much louder) darlings.   IMG_8855 IMG_9026IMG_9164IMG_8858 IMG_9095IMG_8882IMG_9276   IMG_9147 IMG_9260 IMG_9223   IMG_9296 IMG_9319IMG_9311   IMG_9324 IMG_9346  IMG_9404

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Makes me want another one.  Thanks for sharing your little piece of heaven with me L and J.  Can’t wait for you to see the rest. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Easter Season wrap up – 2015

Before reading this post that might look like we had things all put together this Easter season be sure to check out the reality of it all in the post I put up back here.   This post is just to document all the beautiful parts of our Easter season.  There were plenty of ugly parts too, but I talked about them already, so….moving on.

We really did spend a whole month learning about and thinking about and talking about Jesus ALL THE TIME.  It made me realize that the rest of the year needs to have more of that in it.  I often thought about this scripture:

I want my children to know where to look.  And for that to really be in their bones we need to talk, rejoice in, preach, write, act with Christ at the center. 

During the Easter season we tried to replace our regular (well semi-regular) scripture study with an Easter devotional. We loosely followed the plan in this doc.   Like I said before, these devotionals weren’t always perfect, but I LOVED the times where the spirit filled the room and the kids sat wide eyed as I told them stories of Jesus.  Peter and Emmeline especially loved watching the LDS bible video reenactments of the scripture stories that we read.   I loved looking into their eyes as they absorbed this information.  It was as if they were learning something that they already knew, they were like little sponges, so eager to know Jesus.IMG_5977

The devotionals got a little more involved once we hit holy week.  We acted out Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday. I love doing this little play with the kids.  Making the palm branches, saying the word Ass, ridding on daddy donkey….always thrilling.

I raged at my kids on Monday to commemorate Christ driving out the money changers….that wasn’t really the plan, but it gave us all a different angle to think about this part of the Easter story and how we need to cleanse our own temple.

On Tuesday we talked about the Parables Christ taught during his last week.  On Wednesday Hazel lead a game of Parable Charades and we went on our Easter walk (which, again, didn’t go as planned, but still connected us to the Easter story). IMG_6009 We did find some powerful symbols in nature as we walked and felt the warm sunshine.  IMG_6011IMG_6017

On Thursday we had our Passover dinner.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a Seder.  One day I hope we’ll be invited to a real Jewish Seder.  I’m sure our attempts would be laughable by any Jewish person.  But we did put together a Seder plate.  Peter spent a full hour cutting up apples into small bits to make our "Charoset” – a little compote of apples, honey and nuts to symbolize the sweetness of deliverance.  We tried to roast an egg in the toaster oven….next time I should look up how to roast an egg, because my ad hock method didn’t really work so well.  The exploding egg was quite thrilling and funny though.  IMG_6019 We did pull out the plates I bought in Jerusalem during my study abroad there.  We did hide pieces of unleavened bread for the children to find.  We set a place for Elijah.  We cleaned the house (a little) before the meal.  We washed our hands (but no time for feet).  We ate lamb and matzo and drank a lot of grape juice.  Our friend Stacy joined us and told the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage.  We talked about the symbolic foods.  IMG_6022 And we teared up while taking big bites of horseradish.  There was fighting and fussing about the food of course.  But I loved our dining room all filled up with candle light.  I loved thinking about Moses and the way God cared for His people.  And I loved helping the kids make a connection in there, to help them think about what Passover means in a Christian context.  To think about Christ’s celebration of Passover, the last supper.  To draw those powerful parallels of deliverance.   IMG_5945During Easter season Stacey also came over to make these adorable wet felted Easter eggs with the kids.  She has been crafting with Hazel once a week for the past few months and this time the other kids got to get in on the action.  It was so great having someone truly crafty come into my home and help my kids experience that kind of joy.  I enjoy crafts, but don’t have the talent for them really, or the patience it takes to do them with children! IMG_8785 Aren’t they so cute?IMG_8795IMG_6024   IMG_5980We also, at Hazel’s insistence, made Easter sugar cookies.  I HATE making sugar cookies with my kids.  It’s just such a mess, all that frosting and sprinkles and food dye!  But I sucked it up and tried not to let them detect my distain.   They LOVED it.     IMG_6025 On Good Friday the kids had a half day.  I scrambled while they were at school to set up what I wanted to be the most solemn part of our Easter celebrations.  I tried to recreate a stations of the cross type activity for them where we walked through the things that Christ did after the Last Supper and before the Resurrection.  As I was setting it all up I was so worried that they were going to derail it all.  Something told me that bribing them was the trick.  So, when they got home I told them if we could make it through this long, pretty solemn and serious activity together we could all ride our bikes to Zinga.  And, it worked!   They listened and cooperated and it really was quite moving I think for all of us.  At each station we read the scriptures explain what happened and sometimes we had little activities to go along with it.  We tore some fabric (cloth rent), we cast lots, we washed our hands, we twisted thorns into a crown, we carried a heavy beam around the back yard, we nailed in a nail, we tasted vinegar, we blew out a candle.  We said a prayer and sang a song and felt the spirit. IMG_6029

And then we biked to Zinga.  IMG_6026 After Zinga we made it all the way to the end of the bike trail.  The plan is to extend this trail from our town all the way to the ocean.  I’m hoping that really happens.  It was so great to bike with all four kids on their own bikes.  IMG_6028  IMG_6039I made Jeff dye Easter Eggs with the kids on Saturday while I took a break.  That was pretty glorious.  Coming home to all those dyed eggs. IMG_6037 On Saturday we had our annual cemetery Easter egg hunt.  It was cold with patches of snow still spotting the ground.  But the kids were delighted to be outside in the sunshine with candy.  IMG_6038 At one point Peter, mid-hunt, bursting with excitement beckoned me over to see something.  When I got close enough he pointed out to me some chintzy fake flowers “planted” at the base of one of the headstones.  “Mom! A sign of spring!”  I love that kid.  IMG_6041On Sunday morning I convinced my adventurous girls to get up before dawn to come with me to watch the Sunrise.  This was my very favorite part of the whole Easter season.  IMG_6044
We drove all bleary eyed and foggy up to the highest point in our town and got out in the light of the moon to watch the world come alive again.  It was COLD and we had to run around and do jumping jacks to keep warm.  At one point as we shivered and waited Hazel said, “Mom, what if the sun just didn’t come up?”  We had been waiting a while and it did sort of feel like the sun could just stay down forever, leaving us shivering and waiting.  It struck me anew, the beauty of Easter and spring time and new life and resurrection.  The hope and joy that comes with spring, with the sunrise each day and with Christ.    IMG_6046

We shivered and sang and read the account of those other three ladies, up before dawn who saw the Son rise.  IMG_6050

It was a powerful moment for me and the girls.  One I think we’ll never forget, and one that we want to repeat each year. 

The morning also reminded me of an Easter morning exactly 20 years ago when I was able to go to a Sunrise service at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.  The same big nearly full moon was setting over that golden city as we left the BYU Jerusalem Center to walk to the Tomb.  The air was cold but full of hope.  That would be a day I’d relive if I could choose one.  That, and the days my children were born.  IMG_6042

I  guess for centuries it has been a tradition to watch the Sunrise on Easter.  I didn’t really realize this, but when we got home and warmed up we started reading through a few Easter books we got from the library and found that people all over the world get up to great the Easter sun.

I loved reading this book by Lillie Patterson.  It was full of adorable vintage drawings and lots of really great info about Easter throughout the centuries.  It explained the origins of all kinds of Easter traditions.  It made me wish I had found/read it sooner.  I ordered a used copy off Amazon for next year. 

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And to top it all off we came home to some simple Easter baskets.  I had this grand idea to make everything in the Baskets symbolic of real, deeper things… bread for the bread of life, water bottles for living water, a few church activities, but it was pretty half baked.   There’s always next year.    We didn’t make a big deal over the Bunny.  I think my younger two assumed that’s where the baskets came from, but we didn’t really say anything.  The only Easter Bunny worth it’s weight in my book is that Country Bunny with her golden shoes.

There you have it.  Our Easter 2015.  It’s a work in progress, honing all these traditions, pulling these holidays off in a meaningful way.  It’s not all peachy, but, my new mantra: The Whole Glistens. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Enjoy it!!!

I love being a mom.  I love my life.  I am happy.

But boy is it hard to enjoy the moment sometimes.  Life just sort of gets in the way.  Days are long.  Kids whine.  I’m tired.  There’s always too much to do.  It’s cold. We’re late. We’ve got to get to bed!

Sometimes I’ll go through a whole day so focused on moving us through everything only to find at the end of it all that I haven’t really seen the beauty of what’s happening.  This usually hits me when I see my kids in a picture I’ve posted on Instagram at the end of the day, or catch a glimpse of them sleeping when I come in to put away folded laundry.  When things are still and quite, stripped of the chaos of the moment, I see the wonder of the life I’m living.

I love this quote by Anna Quindlen:

“But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make…. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”

Of course it’s impossible to grasp and enjoy every moment of a mothering day.   But I’ve been working hard lately on trying to find a few seconds each day to stop to treasure the doing.  To enjoy the moment.  Because it’s happening, and really won’t be happening like this forever.

As a photographer there are two ways to really capture beauty.  One is by zooming into it.  When seeing your subject up close, all the intricate details pop out and something simple transforms into something miraculous.  The second is by zooming out, way out and seeing your subject in the context of a bigger picture.

In my journey this year to figure out how to enjoy the present more I’ve tried to apply these two concepts to daily living.  When I find myself moving through a day harried and frazzled and devoid of joy I’ve been trying to either zoom in and see more acutely the details of my life or to zoom out and get above the chaos and grind to see what I’m doing in a larger context.  And when I exert the time and will power it takes to change my focal length I can see the joy in the moment.   IMG_4553 

Zooming in can be as simple as stopping for three seconds to see a beautiful but overlooked detail in your life.  I stop to see the dark brown speck in Emmeline’s right eye as she tells me about the game she is playing upstairs with Peter, it is beautiful and in it I can see into her soul.  Or I pause for a split second to listen to Hazel as she talks all motherly to Peter, there is love deeply planted in that sibling relationship.  Or I gasp as I walk out of the store to a parking lot filled with spring air lighting up a pink sky, breathing in the joy of the world.  Stopping to recognize the intricate loveliness in the mundane moments helps me feel the thrill of the present.  Usually it only takes a second, but I can bask in the beauty of that moment for quite a lot longer. 

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Zooming out might take a bit more time, but it is powerful.  We zoom out any time we take a step back from our lives to see it from a different angle.   We zoom out when we go away for a day or take a walk for 20 minutes or just shut ourselves in the bathroom for 30 seconds and breathe.  We zoom out when we walk outside of our house and look in. Suddenly we can’t hear the kids yelling, we can’t feel the crumbs under our feet, we can’t see the piles of laundry (or at least they don’t look so overwhelming).  Through the windows we just see a house with children running around inside, soft light flooding out of the kitchen full of people working to build a family.  We zoom out when we look at a picture someone snapped of us with a child at the beech on a stormy day, smiling, happy.  When we see the big picture of our lives the angsty emotions of the moment are drown out by the beauty of the whole. 

When we change our focal length by zooming in or out we turn down the volume of the chaos or discontent we might feel as move through life.  We see the whole of our lives.   And like a pointillism painting the dark bits combined with the light ones make a beautiful picture.  A glistening whole.  I’m stuck on that idea, that image.  The dark and the light together, the whole of it, experienced in the moment by changing our lens, that’s what makes life glisten.

So.  Speaking of zooming out, I get to come to a Power of Moms’ retreat in Utah in a few weeks!   I’ve been to quite a few of these retreats and they always give me a hefty dose of perspective.  They help me both zoom in and zoom out of my life.  They help me take a microscope to my mothering and think hard about where I want to be and where I am.  But also they get me get above my job as a mother to a higher ground where I can see the big picture and gain some clarity.  I love being in a room full of mothers all carving out space to think about their job as moms.  I always leave feeling inspired and ready to hit the ground running.

Not only do I get to attend the retreat but I also get to present about strategies for living in the moment.  My mom and I gave a speech together about this in March here in Boston and I get to present a big part of it at the retreat in May.

If you’re in Utah the first Saturday in May please consider coming, there is still space, but I know it’s filling up pretty fast.  Click here to find out more information.   I know it’s hard to get away for a whole day, but it is definitely worth the investment.  You’ll re-enter life the next day with a totally new perspective on yourself, on your kids, your husband.  I always go away from those things feeling more powerful, armed with the resources, ideas, motivation and love that I need to really enjoy my job as a mom.   

May 2011 Retreat1

So please join us!  Saturday, May 2nd, Park City Utah.  Click here for the details.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

On kids getting in the way of your parenting.

IMG_6011 We are in our last week of our Easter month celebration, and it has been amazing.  I’ve instagramed lots of Easter moments that might look awesome from the outside and I’ll probably blog some details that might look like we had it all together around here.  But I want to document that it’s also been much more of a rollercoaster than I had anticipated!  I had envisioned lots of spirit filled, sparkly devotionals before bed where the spirit would feel thick and sweet and we’d feel Christ more tangibly in our home.  I was hoping for some kind of Jesus magic to settle in around here and change all the pestering and bickering and button pushing to service and compliments and loving interactions.  Hmmmmm.  Things haven’t played out that perfectly.

Thankfully there have been a quite a few golden moments where we have felt that Jesus magic, where everything has snapped into place and time is slow and the air is crystally and the Savior feels near at hand.  A few times I have noticed my children talk about Jesus spontaneously and consider Him when they think about something new, or make a decision.  And I have certainly felt more bonded with the Savior in relearning so many things about who He was, what he taught and His mighty miraculous power.  But boy have there been lots of moments of chaos and fighting and resistance and refusals.  Lots of mom frustration and kid frustration.  Lots of pushing and resisting.  Lots of plans gone awry. 

Before becoming a mother I think I knew that things would be hard and that everything wouldn’t always go according to plan.  I imagined I’d be tired, that I’d lack vision and energy, that I’d have a hard time controlling my temper, that my kids would do cute little mischievous things, that I'd have to teach them to share and get a long.  But I didn’t realize how much my kids would get in the way of me parenting them!  Isn’t that some kind of oxymoron? I didn’t realize that I’d put in all this work and effort and time and prayer and planning on their behalf only to have them wreck it with resistance, a bad mood, too little blood sugar, a strong will to do something different, silliness, the list goes on and on. 

Sometimes I want to just say to my kids: “Trust me! Just go with it, it’s gonna be good.  Just follow the program! I HAD A VISION HERE PEOPLE!!  And that vision was so much more beautiful than this mess you’re making of it!” 

In those moments I find myself wanting a remote control.  To turn them off, or at least turn them down.  I want to move their arms and legs away from all the buttons they’re trying to push and into a nice folded position.  I want to turn on their ears and off their lips.  I want to rewire their little brains to see things from my perspective.  I want a button to mute, a joystick to move them into place and a pause button to keep them there until I get all collected and ready go.  And I want a rewind button, to go back and get it right.  And lots of times a fast forward button would be nice too (get sugar into their blood stream at fast forward speed!).  

But God didn’t give me a remote control.  That’s not the plan.  As fantastic as it sounds, that would sort of defeat the purpose of parenting.  We are to teach our children to control themselves, to ultimately make good choices without us using the remote of privileges given or withheld.  If we could control them they’d just be little puppets, unable to direct their own lives, and really, that might get a little boring. I’m finding that Motherhood is a constant dance between knowing when to be deliberate and structured and planned out and when to throw up our hands and just shower down love.  When to let things flow in a natural way and when to push your plan through even in the wake of resistance and chaos and discontented children. 

This Easter season has had a hefty dose of that dance for me.  I sat down to dinner on Holy Monday to tell the kids the plan for the week.  All four kids were in quite a state that night.  Maybe too many late weekend nights in a row, maybe too much sugar, who knows.  But one was pestering, one was screaming, one was laughing and one was arguing with me about how tired they were of Jesus.  Can’t we just do some worldly stuff for Easter?  We already know all this stuff about Jesus.

So, that night, instead of teaching them about Christ cleansing the temple I plated my own figurative whip and I put them all to bed in a quiet (but kind of scary) mothering rage and flung myself on my bed to have a good long ugly cry.  The flood gates opened and all the emotions contained for months spewed forth. I cried out pleas for Jesus to come in and clean out our temple here.  Cast out all the filthiness in me, in us, in our patterns of interaction.  I felt hypocritical, like somehow on the outside I might look like I was getting it all right, but on the inside things were a royal mess.  I felt the frightening and utter lack of control that is really the reality of parenting.  I felt stuck and unable to realize my visions, to love the way I wanted to, to teach and enjoy the blessings packaged up in these little children of mine.  I felt the frustration of trying with all your might to do something good and have it go totally wrong. 

I know half of those rushing emotions that night were irrational….hormones flaring up their crazy heads.  But I truly believe that sometimes those crazy, seemingly irrational emotions are also meant to propel us towards something new, to get us back on track, to give us the ambition to change.  So I tried to embrace all the feelings flooding my soul that night.  I entertained them.  I felt them fully.  I wrote them down.  And I woke feeling much better, but weak and reliant on God.  Like all of those tears had washed away my resolve to cling to what I had believed was right, leaving me clear to rethink, a cleaner slate to rewrite. To start fresh and carve a new path, less mired by my limited vision and more inspired by God’s. 

And so Holy Week went on.  One of my newest friends in our ward who doesn’t have children of her own came over to do some cute Easter crafts on Tuesday and stayed for our devotional.  She was a god send.  Everyone seemed to be reset, to be ready to listen and feel and focus again on Jesus.  I relinquished some of the control I had been wielding over to God and was reminded again and again (by the Spirit and by Jeff) that really the purpose of all of this Holy Week, this Holy Month was for all of us to feel love towards each other. 

So, as soon as I felt things were going awry, as soon as I felt that urge to throw up my hands and give up, I just let go instead.  I let things flow.  I delegated parts of our celebration to the kids so that they felt more involved. I modified when things started going south.  I danced that dance right on the edge and realized that with each situation I needed to start with a plan but be so ready to look for God’s way rather than sticking to my own. IMG_6122

On Thursday we met up with Eva to go for an Easter Walk through the (still snow covered) woods at the Ipswich River Wild Life Sanctuary  (thanks so much for this beautiful idea Catherine).  I had printed out little lists of things in nature that I wanted the kids to look for.  At the end of the walk I had envisioned that we’d sit in some nice warm sun filled spot and look through their bags of nature symbols and discuss the ways in which each one points to Christ.  The kids weren’t too excited about this plan and I was bracing myself to be seriously disappointed until I decided to just let it flow.  They traipsed through the woods unfettered and, being led by serendipity instead of the printed sheet they found symbols and signs much more profound and real and thrilling than the ones I had included on the hunt.  IMG_6125 (1)

We stopped still for nearly an hour to feed little Chickadees who fluttered down and ate right out of the kids’ hands.  The excitement was thick as the kids felt a new connection to the wild.   We noticed the thawing earth, the melting ice, the succulent water lily plants poking through the snow, the warm bright sun.  We noted how thorns hedged up some of the way, how the lichen looked so brilliant and alive against the rest of the cold world still waiting for more warmth to bring new life.  We spotted crosses in branches and bright green mossy growth.  We walked through a tunnel carved through stone and stood in the damp middle of that path breathing in the smell of an empty tomb.  We didn’t read any scriptures or talk about anything too serious.  We just let ourselves feel the thrill of breathing in the brink of spring.    IMG_6007

One year we’ll do the Easter Walk I had planned.  We’ll collect beautiful signs and bring them home and make a centerpiece for our Easter Table.  But this year where serendipity took us was perfect. 

Parenthood is a great balancing act.  Of course we want to plan and think and be deliberate and create meaningful experiences for our children.  Of course we should push through lots of things even (and maybe especially) when our children cry out in protest against them.  But this Easter season I’ve been reminded that the minute I feel like my kids are getting in the way of me parenting  is the minute I need to step back, zoom out, re think my plan and connect with God who sees the big picture. 

I can’t wait to post more about our Easter season, because it really was stretching and bonding and strengthened the foundation of our family.  But I wanted to post all of this first because it’s so easy to see all the happy perfect pictures and forget that there was a struggle beneath them.  We can’t forget the struggle because it’s the struggle that  makes everything beautiful.  The dark parts are what make the whole glisten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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