Monday, September 29, 2014

First Photos of Five

I think it goes without saying, but just in case, I’ll say it anyway…
I love photographs.
Old photos, new photos, my photos, your photos.  I take pictures, I scrapbook, I blog, I share.  I love to display photos in our home, and not just keep them on the hard drive.  Someday I hope to take a photography course, as well as a class on Photoshop, so that I can gain skills and knowledge to take better photos.
I drool over the professional photos that I see streaming through the blogosphere - beautiful outdoor scenery, coordinating outfits, happy, smiley faces.  I have always wanted to be able to have photos like that taken of our family, but until our family felt “complete” {for now} I didn’t want to make the investment. 
So here we are, finally the family of five that I have felt like we waited forever for - done having babies, ready to embrace the next stage of this life, growing up and aging so stinkin’ fast… and I just wanted to be photographed already!
We have a sweet friend whom we know through church, who owns her own photography company, Tiny Dreams Photography.  Ashley specializes in photographing young children and their families, she’s reasonably priced, she’s a friend and we wanted to support her small business.  Win/win all over the place.  We headed out to Chippewa Nature Center last Monday afternoon to, hopefully, make some photographic magic.
Things started really well…and then the boys got comfortable…and then a little too comfortable!  Ashley was so patient with our kids — Reed, in particular, as he decided to go all “I’m a funny guy and I’m just gonna be funny instead of listening to!” which of course caused Drew to be silly and more interested in laughing at Reed than cooperating himself.  I was even more disappointed after having all of that happen after lecturing both boys before we left home on how important these pictures are to me!  Somehow I had convinced myself that my expressing said importance would somehow convince them…  I’m funnier than I thought!  Ha!
I admitted to Ashley after she had shown us the proofs, that I was disappointed when we had finished our session.  I felt like we were going to get very few “good” shots because of the boys’ uncooperativeness.  She said, “I told you you’d be surprised!”
She was right.  My word.  I am in love with these photographs!  And even more so with the candid ones that she captured.  We’re not that polished or proper or put together.  We don’t pose well - we’re a casual, relaxed bunch - and I’m thrilled she was able to capture the goofy that is written all over our family!
Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?  
These are my favorites  — coming to a Christmas card near you! 
Ashley - Thank you.
{Funny story about our clothes… I began gathering possible wardrobe choices over a month ago, laying different combinations out on my bed, figuring out what went with what, with the end goal of buying as little as possible.  I chose Ruby’s outfit first, and coordinated the rest of us around what she would wear.  Her top and skirt were already in her closet (new as they are the next size up), but I did have to purchase new tights and boots.  I also had Drew’s shirt and jacket in his closet, still with tags on as they were clearance rack finds, intended for next spring.  When nothing was quite right for the rest of us, Kohls and Younkers came through in a big way.  So, my “buy as little as necessary” turned into “everyone gets a new top!”  Totally worth it.}  :) 
You can see what Ashley had to say about our session HERE on her blog. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Look

Do your best to see past the blurriness of this photo.
And just look at this girl.
As she gives you her “look”.
Head down.  Eyes up.  Small smirk.  
Her timing is impeccable, too.
Kills me, every time.
Also, she rocks those leggings. 
*Update* – I talked with my parents on the phone the other day, and my mother tells me that Ruby takes after me.  Apparently, I perfected this look before my daughter did. :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

10 Months Old

I have had a moment - or two - this past month where I’ve fallen into a state of reflection - remembering so vividly those first few weeks after Ruby’s birth, how tiny and fragile and still and sweet smelling - only for that memory to be followed very quickly by the reality of the right now - the babbling and the crawling and the grabbing and the giggling and the shrill shrieking.  This could be because once in the last week, very briefly but very deeply, I battled with The Ache - the bittersweet reality that I never again will carry and give birth to another baby.  That, however, is a post for another day.
All of that to say - I am beginning to experience a bit of nostalgia for the days that have passed.  While my outlook continues to be one of “no remorse for yesterday,” I have allowed myself a few moments of missing that itty-bitty baby girl.  They’re not kidding — they do grow up so fast!
For all that newborn baby Ruby was, this Ruby here, she’s something else!  She is spunky and sweet and silly.  She is curious and brave and easy-going.  She is so much fun!
Within days after posting her nine month update, where I mentioned she was pulling herself up to her knees, Ruby went ahead and pulled herself up to her feet.  She was all, “ain’t no big deal.”  And last weekend is when I would say she legitimately started cruising around the ottoman or along the edge of the sofa.  It is very much a slow shuffle, but that girl is movin’!  She is also giving an abundance of hello and good-bye waves, and we’ve found that this girl loves music.  Her favorites right now are Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”.  Also, a third tooth popped through last Sunday.
Ruby’s eating and sleeping habits have remained the same.  Sometime in the next month we’ll eliminate the afternoon bottle and replace it with a real meal, so that by the time we get within a few weeks of her first birthday, we’ll be down to just the one bottle before bedtime.  But again, I’m in no real hurry to rush things along. :)
With the cooler weather here these last few weeks, I have washed up all of her 9-12 month fall/winter wardrobe.  Most of the pants are still too long for her, and she still fits comfortably into her 6-9 month onesies.  Hopefully she won’t have a huge growth spurt come this winter … but if Ihave to go shopping in the baby girl department, I guess I have to….
She loves:  
Pinky, her small, pink, silky and soft blanket.  
Any thing littering our house that she can get her hands on that isn’t a toy - that girl is more satisfied with the drink coasters and old magazines than the three baskets of toys on the floor, clearly within her reach.  Obviously.
Pacifiers.  Although she doesn’t so much suck on the thing as much as she just flicks it around with her tongue.  
Baths.  No toys required.  Just a couple of small cups to throw about and water to splash and slap.  If one of the boys is in the shower or tub, she wants in on some of that!
Her brothers.  Maybe a little too much.  The boys have officially posted the “No Girls Allowed” sign on their bedroom door.  
Her daddy.  He’s her favorite.  And I think the feeling is mutual.
And me.  I’m her other favorite.  Especially when we go to Target and I make her try on hats.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

About the Blog

Dear Friends & Family,
So, it’s been pretty quiet around here lately, huh?  I know.  If you’re at all sad about that, know that I’m sad, too.  It seems something has to give when we begin introducing more and more children into our home!  There are days I wish sleep wasn’t an essential part of survival — do you knowwhat I could get accomplished in the midnight hours if I didn’t have to sleep?!?  Then other days, I wish I could sleep  Because wow.  This motherhood gig can be exhausting!  Obviously, Ruby has been a more than welcome addition to our family and to our life (duh) but along with her arrival has also come a change in schedule and priorities.
Now don’t freak out.  I’m not done blogging.  I love this space.  I love writing and sharing and documenting everything that is happening for us.  I love that we’ll have these stories and pictures recorded forever.  I love that, as I’ve published this blog into a book, my children will be able to look back and see our life, just as we experienced it.
That said, I’ve missed a lot.  For several years, I made it a priority to share photos and record funny stories right away so they wouldn’t be lost.  I wanted to post within the day of an event so that everything was fresh and the little details wouldn’t be lost.  And, as it has been proven the last couple years, the longer I wait, the less inspired I feel to remember and record.  And that stinks.
With the boys now back in school full-time, I’m hoping (and counting on!) a revitalization of this here blog.  I have a fairly lengthly list of past events and experiences that I want to get published, and thankfully, have many of them in the works, and some even all ready to go, I just need to press the “post” button.  What I know is missing, though, are those little stories - the funny things the boys will say or the silly moments we share together.  Like Drew’s one and only imaginary friend or the moment he got his first kiss.  While the big events are fun to write about — for family to share in birthdays or holiday concerts or the new traditions we’re establishing here in our still relatively new town — the every day experiences or funny conversations are the things I want to record for the future.
As our family’s memory keeper, and a scrapbooking enthusiast, I love to document our family’s story.  I love the craft of it, but more than that, I love what it means to preserve our family’s story.  But that also means I have to be practical and I need to figure out how the documenting of our moments will best work in our everyday adventure.  I am still in love with our blog - with writing and sharing - and I hope to get back on the horse very, very soon, and begin telling a more complete story, once again.
Thank you.  Thank you for reading along.  Thank you for sharing this life with us.
We love you! 
{Of note: As I begin to catch up and date and publish older stories, I’ll notify you as to where you can find them.  You know, if you have a copious amount of time on your hands for such nonsense… ;) }
A while ago I did post about Reed’s 5th birthday and party {click HERE} as well as Drew’s first experience playing basketball {click HERE}. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Another New Beginning

The older I get, the weirder things become.  I mean, sometimes I feel like I’m living in some sort of Twilight Zone or Alternate Universe.  There are so many things that seem so natural and normal and we go about our days like it’s no big deal.  But then others just sort of sneak up on me and slap me in the face.  When one event can both be normal and surprising all at the same time - it’s weird.
Today was one of those days.  Another one of those milestone days that I’ve both been looking forward while at the same time, deep down, sad to see come.  Feeling like “we have arrived!” while at the same time feeling like “how can this be?”  
Today is the beginning of a new school year - new routines and new adventures for Drew as he begins second grade.  New *everything* as Reed steps out for his first day of Kindergarten.  
It seemed we walked right back into our regular school days routine this morning.  Not completely normal as I don’t usually cook real food or decorate or take pictures any other school day, but you get what I mean.  We were back into the swing of breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc etc etc before we stepped out for their first day.
I hung our banner last night and made some french toast and eggs for breakfast this morning.  And once we were all ready, we headed to the front step for pictures.
Reed’s been expressing his nervousness about today for the past week.  He was ready but in his typical Reed-way, was a bit difficult and hard-to-convince this morning.
And few jokes from Dad to lighten the mood and he perked up. :)
Second grade?!  Gracious.
We checked into Reed’s room first and got him settled.  Dad stayed with him while Drew and I walked down the hall to his classroom.
This was old hat for Drew.  Quiet but confident.  Such a change we’ve seen in him as he’s grown and gotten used to the school routine.  He’s ready to learn.  Ready to be challenged and grow.
Reed was timid and shy and nervous but he was in the game.  Tentative to let us go, but easy to reassure and comfort.  I’m a wreck…but at least I didn’t cry this time!
I thought about the boys all day, and while I enjoyed a bit quieter house, I was anxious for the end of the day to arrive.  And when I did, there were so many words flying out of both of their mouths!  But the best?  They crawled into the back of the van and discovered that they both had Spanish today.  They thought that was pretty neat.
And seeing them together, now having this school thing in common?  I think that’s pretty neat, too.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dear Reed

Dear Reed,
I asked you today to take some pictures with me.  In your very strong-willed sort of way, you *politely* declined.  I explained that I wanted to get a few pictures of you with me, like I did with Drew before his first day of kindergarten.  You still said no.  I said “But Buddy, pleeeeasssse!?!?”
So Dad snuck this picture with his phone.  You were not happy.
*Mama Confession* Making you mad was worth it to get this photo.  I’m so glad Dad took it.  I’m so glad I got to freeze this very moment in time - you and me, the day before your first day of school.
It’s been you and me, kiddo, for the past two years.  Before you were born, I had my time with just Drew.  And now, with your brother at school these last couple years, it’s been just you and me.  Of course, your sister’s been around the past few months, but I still think of this as our time.  She sleeps a lot and you’re so great with her… there were many, many moments it still felt like it was just us.  I hope you felt the same way.
So, tomorrow, you’re off.  The very first little step of independence and life away from home and to something that is just for you.  And I’m going to miss you, my man.  So, so much. 
These days with you have been full.  They have been busy and quiet and funny and difficult and active and exhausting and snuggly and joy-filled and full.  No one challenges me as much as you.  No one expresses his love for me like you.  You, Reed, are one-of-a-kind.  
A year ago I wondered how on earth would you be ready for kindergarten in time???  In my mind’s eye, you looked so much smaller than Drew when he began school.  Somehow, you just seemed so tiny.  We struggled and fought through bathroom issues, so likely that influenced my belief that you wouldn’t make it to kindergarten any time soon.  Something must’ve happened this summer, though, because here we are, and tomorrow there you go, and *wham* just like that… full-time kindergartener.
You’re excited for tomorrow.  It’s a big moment, and I’m excited too.  But you’re also nervous.  I’m nervous, too.  (It seems these kinds of days warrant a whole slew of emotions.)  It’s odd for me, though, as I’m a different kind of nervous for you than I was for Drew.  Things aren’t quite as new for you as they were for Drew when he started.  You’ve been in and out of the doors of your new school many times already, as we’ve taken Drew and picked him up every day.  You know all of Drew’s friends and you’re familiar with a few teachers.  But walking through those doors tomorrow; it’ll be for you this time, my man.      
And you are so ready, Reed.  You are so smart.  And so social.  And so sweet and creative and thoughtful and sensitive.  I know you will love your teacher and you will make friends fast.  I know you’ll love to learn and explore.  You will have so much fun!  
I am ready, too, Buddy.  I’m excited to see you try new things.  I’m excited to see your eyes light up like they do when you discover something new.  I’m excited for me, too.  I’m ready for my day to slow down just a bit, for some quieter moments to take better care of me.  But goodness.  I’m gonna miss you while you’re gone.
So promise me one thing?  When you come home, will you tell me all about it?  Because I’m going to want to hear about everything. 
I love you so, so much.

Daddy's Little Girl

I was laying on the couch opposite my husband and my daughter, watching as this little chapter of their love story unfolded.
When a man has a baby girl, something changes inside him.  I only know from my own experience of being my daddy’s little girl, but now, seeing Brad with Ruby — it is something more special than I have ever realized.  He looks at her differently.  He sees something in her only he can.  And vice versa.  There’s a closeness there that just cannot be explained.
I’ve never loved my husband more.