I can’t believe it. My precious baby is 1 and it happened in the blink of an eye. This year went so fast. She’s talking (baby talk of course), walking, and exploring every inch of our house. I have my stairs blockaded because she’s fascinated with falling and seemingly trying to find new ways to fall farther. This birthday really crept up on me and it’s making me stop. I have to make myself stop or else I’ll miss it. I get very consumed in everyday things, routines, and find myself looking forward to the end of the day when my job is “done”. But my kids are growing up so fast and if I blink I just might miss it. So this is my resolve… to stop far more often and stand in awe of the beauty God has blessed me with in this family. The family I spent most of my life praying for and looking forward to is now here. I want to make sure I see the fun more than the mess; the blessing more than the work. Certainly being a mother is the hardest work I have ever done in my life, but there has never been anything so rewarding. Who knows… maybe we’ll have more children. We’re open to God’s will for our family and at this rate, with it going so quickly, I may look back and ask why I ever stopped. The work is for a moment, the blessings are eternal.
I went out of my comfort zone this month and did something a little different. More of a studio setup but of course I had to throw in some lifestyle shots. I took pictures for a Daddy Daughter Dance. It was definitely one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen! My heart completely melted watching my oldest daughter chase after her Daddy and dance around the room with him. She danced standing on his feet, he picked her up and danced, and she even learned the twist! It was so fun and I actually enjoyed getting out of my photography style for a night, especially since it meant me getting watch my husband and daughter creating incredible, lasting memories.
We had a plan. We had a date to leave and route picked out. But then we lost power… on Christmas no less. So we went to our family gathering and spent the day enjoying great food, tons of kids, and lots of laughter with our amazing family friends. With how cold it’s been this winter we decided we could either leave for our vacation that night or pile our whole family in one bed for extra warmth. So we packed up, grabbed as much as we could think of in 2 hours and took off. We were 3 days early and couldn’t check into the house in NC until Saturday, so we needed to kill some time. We knew that Washington D.C. was on our way so we decided that we would start there. We drove thru the night and then ventured out to the National Mall. It was incredible… and incredibly cold!
Then came the adventure part. 2 more days to kill and no plan. We started driving with no idea where we were going. It was a real family adventure… and it was exhilarating. We decided to drive along the coast of course. We drove on a lot of bridges, which the kids loved. Dave even managed to find a bridge that turned into a tunnel that turned back into a bridge and then back into a tunnel. He took great pleasure in watching me freak out about a tunnel that goes under the ocean but come on! That’s not natural! (Although the idea of it was much more terrifying than actually driving through it.) We wanted to see places we’ve never been before and also keep close to the beach because the kids are in love with the ocean and I still stand in awe of the Creator whenever I stand on the beach and look into the vastness of the waters. The whole process of figuring out where to go and what to do was great and created memories we’ll never forget. I think we’ll make sure we always add a couple of days to our vacations for aimless wandering and genuine family adventure.
A gift from a close family friend who knows that this girl doesn’t like toys anywhere near as much as she loves to be hands on. She has always enjoyed art of all kinds but painting seems to be her favorite. I love to watch her as she concentrates. Even at her young age, you can see she puts her all into every picture she makes. I can’t wait to see more of her passion come out as she grows.
I’m very humbled at this point in my photography, to be a part of something so beautiful. This family is incredible and I’m so happy that I can call them friends. First time parents of twins and you’d think they’d been doing this parent thing always. These babies are so precious and enjoyable to be with. Watching this mom interact and handle, effortlessly, everything they throw at her was inspiring. I’m extremely grateful that I could be a part of this time and more excited than I can say about these photos!
I was on my way out the door and I was in a hurry as always. I looked up and Guy was standing in the doorway with his picture perfect red coat, watching in awe as the snow fell. I immediately saw the photo opportunity and hesitated. I knew it would look great. I knew it was a moment I wanted to capture. Not just because I thought it would make a great photo but also so I could remember this time when the simple beauties of life still stopped him in his tracks (which is hard to do since this kid never stops moving!).
But… I was late, or at least my version of late which is not being 10 minutes early. So I didn’t run and grab my camera. I didn’t capture that beautiful moment because of my terrible tendency to always rush. It stuck with me for a full week. I was so disappointed that I didn’t have that photo! I kept seeing what it would have looked like and what I would’ve done with it and I kept kicking myself for missing it. Partly because I really wanted that memory and partly because I’m in a constant war against that part of me that wants to rush. I fight against this part of my personality because it’s actually pretty oppressing. It puts so much unnecessary pressure on my children and usually puts me in a bad mood because we can never move fast enough to satisfy the voice inside my head. Some days I fight this battle better than others and on this particular day I lost. So I rushed to school to pick up my daughter and we waited… 15 minutes at least. More than enough time for me to have gotten my camera and snapped away. While I was waiting for her to get out of school I decided I would not let that happen again. If I see a shot, I’m gonna take it.
And then today it happened… Guy forgot a toy in the car this morning. He put on all his gear to go look for it and it was back! The moment I wanted to capture. He was standing in the doorway staring at the snow! So I ran. I ran and looked fairly ridiculous, I’m sure, as I grabbed my camera and recovered that lost opportunity.
I can’t believe how big my kids are getting. It’s going so fast and, in a lot of ways, it’s very exciting. My oldest are 6 and 4 1/2. There are so many new possibilities. We can actually go out to eat again. Vacations are much more fun and the kids will actually remember them. Break downs are farther apart than they used to be. In some ways, discipline is actually easier. But this change in our family also exposes my weaknesses. I’m no longer just a caregiver and disciplinarian to them. Now there’s this relationship that has to be cultivated, nourished, and worked on. When I lose my temper, they know that it’s wrong. I’m capable of hurting their feelings and often do. I must react differently to each child based on their personality and not my own.
Right away, parenting teaches you a sense of selflessness because you are forced to take care of the baby before yourself. Feedings, changing, comfort during teething in the middle of the night. But now, as they are growing older, I see that there are still so many ways that I need to grow. I see more than ever that God uses family (marriage and children) to smooth out my rough edges. I realize often that the patience and selflessness I need to be a good wife and mother does not exist in me alone. I am blessed and so very grateful that God has given me the family that I have always prayed for. And now my prayers are changing. I pray everyday for God’s grace to be what each of my children (and my husband) need. That He would fill in the gaps where I’m lacking or failing (and show me those gaps as well), and take away my selfishness and sense of entitlement. I’m not entitled to a quiet night (duh… I have 3 kids!). Instead I want to enjoy these noisy, chaotic nights and days because I know I will miss them when it’s no longer so.
Winter is creeping in here, taking over the last of our apples left on the trees. The kids were ecstatic to find it snowing so much when we woke up this morning. I’m happy with the snow for holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas, even New Year’s. But then I’m just as happy to see it go the first day of January, if only it would go. But still, I love living in Michigan with evident seasons. Christmas without snow is just sad. But it looks like that won’t be a problem this year!
We’ve made it a tradition to put up the Christmas decorations the week before Thanksgiving. I love having that extra week of cheer! Turn up the Christmas music and let the kids go crazy on the tree (although I can’t help but rearrange it once they’re sleeping). I love the joy this time of year brings into the house. It’s funny how having a family of my own changes things. I never enjoyed the holidays much at all before I had kids. Now it’s my absolute favorite! What are your holiday traditions??