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January 14 Photo Set

I have taken more photos this January than all Januarys combined since I got my first DSLR five years ago. I much prefer shooting in natural light because of the way our house faces and the window situation~ It really makes for absolutely dismal choices when trying to get the photos I want. So beyond a special occasion, my camera normally keeps the shelf pretty warm until April or so. I had big plans to brave the cold this year, to get out and shoot some beautiful, snowy Minnesotan scenes, however, it has been below zero nearly every day since Christmas and I know I was born and raised in this state but I’m sorry, I’m just not that hearty. So I had to suck it up and work on indoor shooting and I have to say, it’s forced some great practice out of me. Working with the light I have has been challenging, and I only get 1-2 good shots out of every 30 I take, but I’m learning and slowly getting more comfortable and confident about where to position my subject and getting more intuitive about what placement will get me the right shot.

I know I will be MORE than ready to get outside once the temps creep up into the 20s, but for now I’m happy with what I’ve learned and love that My 365 Project is keeping me motivated to get out my camera, whether it’s my Canon or my phone, and capture the life around me.

Here is my full January set, and these are a handful of my favorites…

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Ezra at Fifteen Months

Ezra had his 15 month check up and despite having an idiot for a mother who thought for some reason there were no shots given at this check-up {um, they give pretty much ALL of the shots at this check-up} you handled them like a champ. You actually cried longer when the nurse had the gall to hold your arm gently to your side while she took your underarm temp, which goes to prove what I have suspected all along, that righteous indignation ranks way higher up on your Toddler Importance Barometer than actual physical pain does. Here are your stats:

Height: 31.5 inches 61%

Weight: 22lb 12oz 49%

Head: 18.5 55%

All these numbers really mean is that you’re growing perfectly delicious fat rolls for me to nomnomnom. Good job, baby.

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The good:

After a terrible 2.5 weeks at the beginning of the month, filled with painfully swollen gums and a double ear infection, Ezra has been feeling much better and has rediscovered his ability to self-soothe and play independently in bursts throughout the day.

The awful food throwing habit may have lost its appeal. {Knock on all of the wood, Internet, ALL OF IT.} I have removed his tray and transitioned his high chair to sit up to the big table with us. I put his food on a plate and give him a fork which he holds proudly in one hand, sometimes using it as a comb, while he eats with the other hand. The first few attempts have been mostly successful and while I don’t really mind feeding him as he runs around, I’d like to get him in the habit of eating at the table, but only if he’s not going to waste a third of our weekly groceries.

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After a lovely phase where he’d grab the book out of my hands and throw it every time I opened one to read to him, Ezra is back on The Books and is really getting into storytime. YEA!

His laugh when he’s trying to be silly is an adorable HUH-HAH produced in the back of his throat and I dare anyone to keep a straight face while he’s doing it.

Loves his pets. Luna begrudgingly tolerates him and Fawkes is indifferent but Monk truly loves him, seeks him out and engages with him. And she is by far the most surly of the three so it warms my heart when I see her playfully swish her tail across his face and then flop down at his feet so he can snuggle her belly.

Ez is starting to get into cars which is both good and bad. For one, I’m ready to get rid of some of the clunkier baby toys currently clogging up my living room that he seems to be outgrowing. On the other hand, cars seem to procreate in their bin and spread across the floor like wildfire and OUCH, they hurt to step on.

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The bad:

Trash cans.

Pretty sure he threw our book-light away and god-knows what else has been unwittingly tossed since Ezra’s obsession with trash cans began. We try to keep the bathroom door shut but with two other kids in the house that doesn’t always happen. Also he’s figured out how to snake his arm through the safety locked kitchen trash so I’ve found a number of decidedly NON-trash items in there as well. Until I break this habit, we are now stuck giving the trash a thorough once over before we carry it out to the big bin, which is… lovely.

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Had his first time out! It was rather adorable, although he probably thinks differently. It arose due to the aforementioned trash obsession. Right when he figured out how to get his arm thought the small opening in the safety lock, he started a fun game called “going shopping”. Trash shopping. When the garbage is full enough he is able to pull out all sorts of goodies like banana peels, hardened bread crusts, wrappers covered in old food, etc. etc. On his first offense, where I discovered him with a banana peel in hand, surrounded by an assortment of items covered in some sort of…goo… I gave him a firm but loving “No Garbage” as I shook my finger in the direction of the garbage can {which in hindsight, probably looked like I was pointing to it excitingly, and declaring its awesomness} then I quickly picked up the mess, washed his hands and went back to folding laundry. Two minutes later he came back with a happy grin and a strawberry in his mouth. “Huh, how did you get a strawbe—–NONONONONO! GROSS, BABY!!!!!!!” I peeled the mushy, moldy, half-eaten from yesterday’s lunch berry from his firm grip, squishing the soggy thing all over both of our hands and once I had us both cleaned up I led him to the garbage and maybe a little more firmly, maybe a little less lovingly, told him NO GARBAGE, BABY. NO. NOT FOR BABY. He whimpered a little at my harsher tone but we seemed to have come to some sort of agreement so I brought him in the living room with his toys and I foolishly went back to the laundry. To no ones surprise, .0004 seconds later I heard him haul-ass into the kitchen but this time I was onto him and I caught him shoulder deep in the cabinet. He knew he was busted. In true toddler form he defaulted to tried and true tactics and immediately started to fake cry, in a sorry attempt to gain my sympathy for which I HAD NONE. I took his hand in mine, firmly repeated NO GARBAGE CAN and walked him over to the bottom step where he sat whimpering. At the end of his stair imprisonment {45 seconds or so} I leaned down and said I loved him but not when he was covered in trash so to knock that shit off. Then I gave him a hug. We all learned a little something, I think. Well, except for him. He still likes to sneak into the fucking trashcan.

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Teeth. You have three eye teeth to go and you’ll be DONE with teething until 2ish so I’m just hoping those suckers come in soon and swiftly because your mouth has dominated what kind of day we’re all going to have for the last 4 months and I’m just very, very over it. Plus, your poop is disgusting. No, really. Soso gross. {I would like to give you a firm and hearty THANKS for the days you hold it all in until daddy comes home. Don’t think that kind of thing goes unnoticed.}

He must have had a growth spurt in the last 2 weeks because he can now reach a ton of contraband on our shelves and counters that was previously safe-zoned. His siblings are quickly noticing their tried and true safe spots for their DS’s, iPod and iPads are no longer working. Mayhem has ensued, which, I’m pretty sure, was your plan all along.

Loves:

Books! His favs are Cats, Little Gorilla, Tickle Time, Five Little Monkeys, Pajama time, Blankie, Hey! Wake up, Touch and Feel Baby Animals, and Peek-A-Who.

Blanky snuggles.

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String cheese, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, hot dogs, peanut butter, bagels.

Playing blocks, especially the block train.

His trampoline, good for jumping and taking a little rest with blanky.

Reading and being silly with his big sister.

Sword fights with his big brother.

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Ap-ple cheeks! Ap-ple cheeks! {Take it easy though, Baby. Mama’s cheeks are getting sore.}

Unplugging the wi-fi which he totally does on purpose for the sole purpose of messing with his mother. {STOP IT, BABY!}

The siren on his fire engine. {There is a special place in hell for the maker of this toy.}

Oh, Ezzie. This is all going by too too fast. My favorite this month? At the end of each day you and dad have your special bedtime routine. You have finally started uttering some semi-intelligible words including nigh-nigh which you say to me with a little wave after we blow each other kisses as I leave you two for stories and snuggles.  It is the sweetest moment of my day. We love you so much Ezzer.

1.31.1

Better late than later

Alright. I wanted to do a big holiday recap but for all but the first 2 days of our break, Ez was sick. We thought it was that his mouth was exploding with 4 molars and an eye tooth but after a week of sososo much green mucus, the fevers started in and then he quit sleeping, like, ever. I’m of the school of thought that When Thou Taketh Sick Children to thy Doctor, Thine Sick Children get Sicker, so I always do the wait and see method but this boy has been so miserable for so long, Bill and I packed him up and sat in urgent care for an hour before the doctor could see him. Of course he perked up when we got there, the Tylenol had knocked his fever down and all he wanted to do was run around and lick every germy surface he could get his mouth on so Bill and I just traded him back and forth, attempting to contain his toddleriness while exchanging knowing looks of GOD THIS IS TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY POINTLESS. However! He had a big fat infection in both ears so we are now on day 4 of antibiotics which will hopefully clear up one problem, the other being his teeth which I’m pretty sure will plague us til the END OF DAYS.

Anyway! I wasn’t able to accomplish a ton because of a screamy baby and two very squirrely children but I did finally manage to compile my November and December Flickr sets. November was pretty great {as Novembers go… it is NOT my favorite month} so I did get out a few times. December was pathetic. I don’t think I picked up my 7d more than a handful of times, but I’m so grateful for my iphone to capture the little moments, especially because all the best stuff seems to happen in shitty light and I am not practiced enough to navigate through my settings to get the shots I want, so the phone was my lifesaver this season.

Here they are:

November 2013

One of my favorites:

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December 2013

One of my favorites:

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This leads me to my next project which I started January 1. I follow a few instagram accounts that do 365 projects and was inspired to attempt my own this year. I’m only 8 days in but it has motivated me to pick up my big camera and capture small stuff every day. I know there will be days when I’m gonna regret this but so far it’s been a great experience. Here are my favorites from the past week…

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I tried to focus on Rowan because I knew once school and dance started up again, my opportunities for photographing her would be sparse, plus she is sort of temperamental about getting her photo taken so I have to snap her when I can because I never know when she’ll let me do it again.

I have a lot of stuff in the works right now, both personally and for our family. {This is where I confess I’m cheating on this blog with a new tumblr blog that will be used to work through the massive overhaul of everything I’m stupidly attempting.} We have a BIG 2014 coming at us. The words for this year are WORK HARD. It’s going to be nuts but I’m hoping that this  365 project and my monthly shoot compilations will be a good reminder of all the good parts of our lives together, it is pretty super kaduper after all.

14 Months

I distinctly remember the moment Rowan turned on me. My sweet, happy child, the baby who people always asked, as she smiled toothlessly at them, “Does she EVER cry? She’s so easy-going!” Just after she turned 14 months, I was walking through the mall when she arched her back in my arms, the toddler signal that she wanted to be released to try out her new-found ability to walk on her own two feet, a little trick she had only learned a few weeks before. I didn’t want to set her down but she was persistent so I plopped her at my feet and reached for her hand. In the past she had willingly grasped it without argument but as I bent down to enfold the tiny bit of pudgy knuckles in my grip, she was… not there. In a 10 second time frame she had made her way 20 feet ahead of me and holy crap, when did she learn how to run? Arms flailing, pigtails flying in the wind, she was FREE.

I spent the next, oh, 4-5 years of my life painstakingly trying to contain that girl’s independent spirit. Trying to find the balance of not squashing it all-together, but getting her to just please put her shoes on without a 20 minute argument/meltdown. Keaton was such a miserable little guy for his first 14 months but miraculously, somewhere just before 15 months he transformed into this happy-go-lucky, easy-going little fellow that, sure, pulled a few typical assy toddler moves {in contrast to his sister he was super clingy}, but he didn’t have the attention span nor the motivation to have tantrums and also was not driven to destroy us like his sister was during the toddler years.

So now here we are with Ezra, at this pivotal moment of toddler development and I am maybe a little frightened of what the coming weeks/months/years have in store for us. If there was a spectrum, with Keaton at one end and Rowan at the other, Ezra would most likely fall two-thirds of the way to the Rowan end. He was a happy baby, but not quite as easy-going and smiley as she was. He is independent in many ways, but much more reliant on me. They are both very, very stubborn. The main difference though is that he is way, way, way less verbal at this age than she was and he is very, very physically strong. This is maybe causing me not an insignificant amount of fear for what it will be like to actually have to take him out in public, something I’ve not attempted on too grand a scale since he became mobile. I guess what I’m saying is, uh, if you have any calming, soothing vibes lying around, I would greatly appreciate if you’d throw them at my toddler every chance you can get.

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Now! Here’s how Ezra spent thirteen months…

* He learned to navigate going down the stairs backwards. He mastered climbing up them about thirty seconds after he learned to crawl at 8 months but after a few failed attempts to get down them face first, he just didn’t attempt it, which was kind of nice- I never even had to gate them off. If he went up to the loft, he’d just stay up there until he got bored, then he’d whine and I’d go up to retrieve him, and he just left the stairs going down to the entryway alone. Our house is 90% baby-proofed so he can really wander around wherever he wants and we don’t have to worry too much about what he’s getting into as long as the bathroom and bedroom doors stay shut. A day or two after he turned 13 months he finally figured out that he could make it down the stairs himself and after a few slow, tentative tries, he quickly learned to position himself on the top step, get on his belly, get a shit-eating grin across his face, push off with his arms and WHOOOOOSH,  he flies down backward at break-neck speed. Every time {no really, EVERY TIME} I run because I think he has fallen to his death but, no. There he is standing at the bottom, the grin still firmly planted wide on his cheeks.

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{Full disclosure, he did fall once and crack his head good on the bannister. He got a bad bump but when I called the pediatrician they told us he was most likely fine as he wasn’t wobbly, sleepy or throwing up so to just wake him up a few times in the night to be safe. The bump was already gone by the next morning and it didn’t slow him down a bit, although I watched over him pretty closely for the next few days, impeding on his fun.}

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* Into everything. Here is a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of things Ezra likes to get into {it grows by the nanosecond}: cupboards, bins, drawers, nightstands, make-up, toilet and accompanying paper, diaper stacks, diaper pail, cords, outlets and power strips {don’t forget to drool all over your hands or just go ahead and lick the sockets!} his siblings’ dressers which he pulls open and just starts FLINGING neatly folded clothing out of like there is goddamn buried treasure at the bottom and ohshit here comes mommy, better start flinging faster, must fling it alllllllll…., dog food and water dishes, bookshelves, old DVDs, whatever has been carelessly left on the first two inches of any higher-up table or counter-top, any glass that has been left out must be dumped unceremoniously, Barbies thrown asunder, sword bin ravaged.

12.30.8

I am pleased to report that while we do occasionally have to gate the tree off in the mornings while we’re all running around and upanddown and upanddown the stairs, Ezra has mostly left it alone, or at least there hasn’t yet been any major tree related disasters. He will walk over and bat at the branches while staring at us, testing how long it takes to get the firm No! or uh-UH! but that’s about it.

* Lots of firsts this month! First carousel ride, first time decorating sugar cookies, first time eating Christmas cookies, first candy cane, first ride in a sled, first time wearing boots and snowpants. You pretty much rocked all of it, except maybe the boots which you just… did not understand. When I stood you up after putting them on you, you flopped back to the ground, unwilling to put your trust in the clunky things. Oh well, this being Minnesota, you have a whole loooooong winter to get used to them.

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* What is up with the sock thing, Baby? For whatever reason you hate them and figured out that if you take them off in front of me I just put them back on you so now you not only hide to go pull them off, you then hide the socks. I’ve found them in my nightstand, inside Tupperware containers, inside the child-proofed cabinets {uh, how are you doing this?} and in several random drawers. So far this is my favorite… I … don’t think this is what they mean by hanging your stockings…

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* Language. This is still a tough one. You say your own versions {that mostly only I can decipher} of cracker, cookie, stop, drop, pretzel, nosey, uh-oh, nie-nie, cheeks, sock, thank you, kiss, and some other randoms but still don’t use mama, daddy, baby, please, up, more etc. It’s so frustrating because you understand almost everything we say. You follow commands! You will materialize out of no where, pointing to your mouth, if someone says marshmallow. If I ask for a hug or a kiss you gladly give it. If I ask you to go get your milk, or cup or shoe or ball you don’t hesitate! But you just. won’t. say. the. words. yourself. Grumblecakes. You still MEOOOOOOW. Incessantly.

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*Throwing food. This has BY FAR been the most frustrating thing this month. We can no longert put food on Ezra’s high-chair tray so he can feed himself because after one or two bites he picks up a piece, holds it out to the side and stares at us blankly as he drops it to the dog. It’s BEYOND infuriating. {For us, obviously Luna is decidedly OK with this arragement.} To save food I began just sitting with him and putting bites directly in his mouth but now he just removes them, full of baby slime, and throws them over anyway. He refuses all vegetables and in true toddler form, has become pickier and pickier everyday. We’ve reverted back to the pouches of over-priced baby squeezers because he can feed them to himself, doesn’t throw them until they’re empty and at least there is some freaking spinach in them. I need to do a big diet overhaul for all of us in January, a big part of which will be to break this food throwing habit. Also, his facial eczema has only gotten worse. We cut out whole milk and most cheeses but fell woefully short on removing other dairy with the craziness of the holidays. So lots of food trouble-shooting ahead, after I get the big kids back to school.

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* As far as breastfeeding goes, Ezzie dropped his day feeding completely so we are now down to one nursing session in the morning. I don’t know how long we’ll keep this up, I have a feeling we’re down to our last few weeks of breastfeeding which, sunrise/sunset yadayada.

* His molars are coming in soooooo slooooooow, and have given him a perpetually runny nose that is driving us all bonkers. The top two have broken through and are making their way down, and his gums on the bottom are so damn swollen that I forgive him for being a cranky jerk most days.

* Ezra went to the church nursery for the first time this month! Admittedly, we do the church thing mostly for the kids. I’m not saying all hope is lost, but after being part of the shady-ass Catholic church for 30+ years, I’m finding it really hard to immerse myself in any religion for all the rage and anger I harbor for the terrible things that institution covered up and their disturbing stance on the civil rights issues of today. I do love the very open and accepting little Episcopal church we’ve joined and I’m so glad my kids have a group of wonderful role models to spend a couple of hours or so with each week but, well, let’s just say I wasn’t heartbroken that Bill has taken over church duty for the last six months as services and Sunday school fell right in the middle of naptime. Now that we are OFFICIALLY down to one nap between 11:30- 2ish though, we’ve started to go back as a family. Ezra went willingly to the nursery the first two times but has since decided that having mom or dad chase him up and down the halls is much preferable to a roomful of toys and doting teenagers so we’ll see how long my comeback lasts.

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Oh my Ezra. My very favorite time with you this month has been just after we wave through the window to the big kids as they get on the bus. I heat up my coffee and plop down on the floor. Sometimes we listen to This American Life or Radio Lab podcasts, sometimes we don’t. And then? We snuggle, or roll the ball, or tickle, or sing, or stack cups or build blocks or play horsey. I repeat words, you stare at me quiet and stubborn. You peek-a-boo from behind the couch or from behind your own chubby fingers. We laugh and laugh. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the laundry loads need to be switched, no one’s bed is made but I’m teaching you how to blow kisses and wow, I’m not giving up this moment for anything.

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Baby by treelight…

12.10.1

A Decade of Loss

It doesn’t always feel like that. But today it does.

A decade of memories made without you. A decade where you didn’t hug me once. A decade where I didn’t steal your sunflower seeds or your car keys and get called, for the umpteenth time, The Ever Naughty. A decade where you didn’t see me graduate from college or come out of “the asshole years”. A decade where you didn’t see me get married. Meet my first, my second, my third baby. A decade where you didn’t get to see them grow.

A decade where you didn’t get to see me grow. As a person, as a wife, as a mother. All those hours logged in being my dad and for what? When you last saw me I was a twenty-three year old Aimless English Major Extraordinaire. Not the most hopeful place to leave a child off, huh? Oh, well, now I’m an Aimless Stay At Home Mom Extraordinaire so not too much has changed.

Except everything has.  And I’m sorry you’re not here. Sorry for myself, sorry for my siblings, sorry for mom, sorry for all of your grandchildren.

You want to know something I don’t like saying out loud because it upsets people? I don’t believe in heaven. {SHHH don’t tell mom, it’ll be worse than the Christmas Eve dinner she found out I pierced my tongue and that was no fun for any of us.} I don’t think you get to go up to some magical realm where everything’s perfect and we’re all reunited. Go ahead, all of you shaking your heads, I know you want to pity me so just get it over with. It is a beautiful notion, I’ll give you that, one that I completely understand the draw of… but I call FAIRY TALE.

I do believe you’re with me though, Dad. Your love and your life, the good and the bad, made an impression on my life and my shape as a person. Your love and energy and heart exist somewhere, on some plane, maybe cosmically watching, maybe not. Maybe just inside my heart. Sometimes I think I feel you but most of the time I just feel the empty space.

Either way, I know you’ve left a mark. Because of this, most of the time it doesn’t feel like a decade of loss, but a decade of gifts. You, along with mom, gave me the tools to become Me. Yes, some of it was achieved on my own, {I take full credit for my ability to swear so much over soso little}, but the model you gave has shaped me and I see that shape, your shape, everyday whether I always recognize it at the time or not.

Ten years. A decade. I will remember the gifts, but today the loss… well, it feels so wide, so open so huge right now.

miss you. love you. side hug. patpat.

~EverN

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, SIX!

This boy.

So much, all at once.

Slashing, pewing, round-house kicking.

Jumping, wiggling, couch-flips.

Spinning, twirling, split-jumps.

Hugging, snuggling, kisses blown.

A spy. A ninja, both regular and turtle. A Jedi. A Stormtrooper. A puppy. A little boy whose mom died in a tragic motorcycle accident. A police officer. A fireman. A big guy teenager. A SYTYCD contestant who always gets a ticket to Vegas. A doctor. A patient. A baseballer. A footballer. A basketballer. A soccer baller. Not a hockey pucker, mom, I don’t like to skate. An olympic diver.

A dreamer of dreams so big and so small.

Kindergartener.

A little brother, a big brother.

A middle child.

Writer of names and random pronouns.

Reader of Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and whoever wrote all those stupid Star Wars books.

Lover and love of everyone around him.

Beautiful face, beautiful heart.

Energetic boy. Sweet boy. Our boy.

This boy.

We love you, Keaton.

SIX!

SIX!

Now blow out the candles on your cake... ah. shit. Well, we all know mama's not great with the numbers...

Now blow out the six candles on your cake… ah, shit. Well, we all know mama’s not that great with the numbers…

There we go. That's more like it, six year old.

There we go. That’s more like it, six year old.

Gratuitous lash picture...

Gratuitous lash picture…

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

 

{* Last two pics, Christine Welsh Photography, First three pics, Christina “I can’t count to six” Gunter Photography}