Has it only been 11 days?

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Nona bought Wiley a belated birthday gift.

Wiley started Kindergarten 15 days ago. My in-laws came into town 14 days ago. My husband took his dad on a much needed kayak/camping trip – just the two of them – 13 days ago. I had to finish writing music (the piano music we decided on was written for a piano/viola and I wrote the harmony part I sang) for a duet I sang in church – 12 days ago. The Total Solar Eclipse seen from our backyard – 11 days – also said goodbye to my in-laws. My Aunt came into town from Austin, TX to see the eclipse, and stayed in town to visit with me for a day.  My middle child turned 3 years old – 10 days ago. Danny started school. My mother performed in a ballet – took kids down to my parents – had to see the mother perform. Racing home from my visit, to see mom on stage, to teach my Sunday School class….and so on…

All this time I’ve had to let some things slide. A grocery bag of un-openned birthday decorations still sit on my closet shelf.

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They love reading.

Tyler, turned three, had the best day of his life. I gave him everything he asked for that day, I didn’t give him everything I planned, I gave him what he asked for and that made him happy. He wanted birthday donuts – no cake. He wanted to watch Youtube videos (supervised by me) during school hours. He wanted a tricycle – which he rides daily around my living room and kitchen – and Tow-Mater/Lightening McQueen cars. Done and done. Time in the sandbox. Play in the tub. Seems kinda like I was a lame mom for his birthday this year, but the birthday boy got everything he asked for, so I’ll call it a win.

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Park time.

Four days after my in-laws returned home to the Houston, Texas area Hurricane Harvey hit.

I have been glued to social media – watching through the eyes of friends – heart sick – as my old neighborhoods, libraries I visited, restaurants I frequented, trails I used to walk – all flooded.

I’ve been uniting in prayer with friends and strangers for the comfort, healing and rebuilding of Houston, Texas. Just as the country united only four or five days earlier to watch the amazing beauty of the solar eclipse, so many people united once again during the chaos and damage that hurt millions “back home.”

My husband asked me if he should take this semester off from school (where he studies civil/environmental engineering in Missouri) to help clean up and restore his home. My husband was born and raised in Houston, Texas. We met in Spring, Texas. Married in the Houston LDS Temple. Lived in our first home two blocks north of the Temple. In his mind, after spending this summer as a storm water management engineering-intern for the City of Columbia, he felt like he could do a lot of good in the after math of Harvey. My response was, “you’re eight months from graduating with a degree – you can do a lot more good when that is completed, when you’re done, you can improve infrastructure not just in Houston, but anywhere in the world.” Right now, it would only increase our financial burden with him not in school and not working.

Danny will continue to do much good for everyday life as he finishes his degree. He will continue to do much good when he graduates.

I’ll do good here in the home.

So, I am continuing to pray for the aid (physical, financial and emotional) of those hurt by Harvey. In all the chaos of my life, I have not forgotten you or the other people suffering in the world.

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After day four of Kindergarten, Wiley fell asleep like this.

No matter what is happening in our own lives, God wants us to think about and serve others.

Life can wear you down, just stop and rest a bit, but just don’t quit.

You’re not inadequate, you’re the perfect fit.

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family walk time

I got a phone call from a friend I haven’t spoken to since – 2008? Now that I count it up, almost a decade ago! Wow. Thank goodness for social media to help keep tabs on those friends!!

We talked of many things, but something that stayed on my mind was the feelings we shared in our ability to be good mothers.

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run baby run

After pondering on the matter for some time, the thought came into my mind that my children chose me.

They chose me.

Of all the brilliant, kind, talented mothers in the world, these kids chose me.

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run dance run

I don’t have any evidence to prove to you that this is true, it was just something that came to me and brought me peace.

I want to remember that feeling any time the temptation to feel inadequate creeps into my life.

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our deep thinker

They knew you before they came to this earth and thought, “yeah, you’re going to be the perfect fit!”

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He loves to bring me flowers

Keep trying your best. Keep giving them your time, your love, your hugs and kisses.

Keep praying that they will continue to grow up to become the incredible humans you pray they will be.

Keep taking the time to do the things they want to do – even if you can’t finish all the things you want to do.

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They need you. They want you. They are your greatest treasure.

There are still long days ahead. They will need your guidance, your patience, your understanding and most importantly…

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everyone gets a turn on daddy’s back

They need to know that you love them.

Each child will understand, feel and show love in different ways.

Just like you understand, feel and show love in different ways.

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Take the time to learn how they communicate.

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In time you will see that not only were you not inadequate, you were exactly who they needed you to be.

“Life must be understood backward. But… it must be lived forward.” -Søren Kierkegaard

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hold on as long as you will

In writing this open letter to myself I want other parents to know that you are doing better than you think you are.

XOXO

Me

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Enjoying more fully the Light.

I read a story about post-partum depression today, it wasn’t a happy one, which reminded me that I haven’t updated the internet on the state of my health:  mind, body and soul.

It’s good news. [Sigh of relief]

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My baby boy.

I don’t really feel like talking about the depression, it’s part of my past now and I know that it could potentially be part of my future. For now I’m going to tell you what I’ve been doing, about what makes me happy.

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My oldest niece, the Mermaid. (side note, this was a candid shot, I caught her mid-imagination).

I needed more Family time, spouse time and time just for me.

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First, I called my mom and asked if she would pay for my gym membership. I knew that all the time away from the gym was one reason I was sad. I missed regular exercise!! I started making better choices with my food and I started pampering myself.

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Anyone who knows me, knows that when you think of me, you don’t necessarily think “cheapskate.” But, for years I have rarely paid for haircuts (ask a friend or sister to just cut it right over a trash can), I almost never go into a salon, I have never had a manicure and I only get pedicures once or twice a year (because if I didn’t, my entire foot would turn into a callus). I also never spent money on makeup, hair supplies or skincare.

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My sister, her husband and their sixth baby.

My skin care routine – up until this year – was usually going straight to bed without washing my face. Rinse face in morning or just wait till I took a shower…whenever that was.

Wearing makeup was usually reserved for Sundays and the makeup I did own was either purchased for me by a mother or sister or given to me by a sister or my mother (because it came as a free gift during a purchase)! I spent very little money in the hair, skincare and makeup department.

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Candid shots really are the best.

In the spring and summer of 2016 when I struggled with pink eye, I had to throw away all of the makeup I did own – which included some new and nice (gifted) things. In addition to throwing out all my makeup, I threw out all my bed pillows (nice, newer pillows I couldn’t afford to replace).

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We were also very broke when this happened.

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Somewhere between back to back pregnancies, a husband who was gone all the time for school and with church responsibilities, a four year old just barely potty training (read “three kids in diapers”) – I was feeling pretty haggard.

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My sister and her baby and she’s pregnant with her seventh! (how amazing is she?!)

Well, I discovered a multi-level marketing company that has amazing skin care and makeup. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy/wear good products unless I sold some. So, I signed up to distribute.

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Along the way, I started having fun with my life again and taking care of myself made me feel good.

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So, I’m going to the gym, taking care of my body, eating healthier and getting better sleep – now at bedtime, I don’t lay in bed trying to un-wind from a day that pulled and stretched me, I go to bed, I think of all the things I’m grateful for and all the things I can do better tomorrow.

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Then, I stop thinking and go to sleep.

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I started singing around the house more often, letting the messes sit later, snuggling with my babies a little longer.

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I decided that dates with my husband were worth the cost of a babysitter (again, where I tend to be cheap – “let’s just not get a baby sitter and stay in or take the kids with us.”

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These two never want their daddy out of their sight!

I re-took my Athletic Training exam (to re-certify) and was 23 points short of passing!! [I mean, I can’t be too sad, I’ve been out of practice 11 years!! With very little study time I squeezed in, I almost passed!! Yes, I’m taking it again].

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My mother in law fostered a love for the ocean in my husband, and here she is with her grandchildren (whiny and all).

My energy levels increased and the chemicals in my brain have found balance as I allowed for more positive thoughts.

I consciously made it a daily effort to push negative thinking away and only see the positive. I had let negative thoughts camp too long in my mind and I didn’t want to be sad anymore.

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Happiness had been my life before and I wanted that life back.

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I never stopped praying during my struggles. I never stopped hoping. I knew that change would come if I just kept trying.

God knew me, He had faith that I could overcome my circumstances and He has faith in you too. The tools are there, we just need to reach out. Ask for help and take steps to change.

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Those ‘gulls see food and in they swoop.

Postpartum depression is not an old friend, but foe. An enemy I may face in the coming years. But I have hope that my faith and past experience will help me defeat him again.

Disappointments still arrive, but I see the light and know that everything will work out.

Jumping into Dance Photography

Kiana

Ask anyone, I have terrible rhythm…which is probably why I never became a dancer. But one of the great things in this life, other people (not me people) have talents that I can find joy in.

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I asked this little gal if she wanted to be sweet or sassy…I’m thinking she has both.

[I really can’t understand people who get jealous of other people’s talents…like, h e l l o, why can’t we just get excited and love on the greatness of others?? There is room for everyone to be great.]

You probably know by now I love (slightly obsess over) dance. To me, when I watch, it’s like staring at a beautiful painting or listening to inspiring music. It creates this dream I want to step into.

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I asked her sister the same question, sweet or sassy? She wanted Sweet.

A month or two ago, a friend asked if I would come take photos for her dance studio, as the studio was gearing up for the ballet Peter Pan.

I was really nervous, as a hobby photographer, to work as a professional. I spoke to a couple of my friends (who make a living taking photos) for some tips.

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Every time I put the camera on this gal, I didn’t have to tell her how to pose, she just did her own thing and I did mine.

I have read quite a bit about photography in the last few years – natural light and studio are two worlds…and then the thing that makes me the most crazy is photography style.

Not everyone has the same taste…

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Again, this ballerina walked up held this pose and i took a few pictures.

In the end, I decided that if parents didn’t like the photos I took this ballet season, they didn’t have to buy any next time. This is my style, take it or leave it.

Also, as a photographer who relies on natural light, I was really nervous about the two days of clouds that darkened the dance studio for portraits.

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This was taken at the very end of the day, when the light was almost gone. I love the dramatic look it gave this last photo.

It is what it is and when picture day was all over, there is beauty in imperfection.

I like my photos and if it happens to make a mother cry, then I’ll consider myself a true professional.

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Speaking of professional…she’s 15. These two!  They made my job sooo easy. This is a children’s ballet school ya’ll. You want good results? Hire good teachers.

Happy Mother’s Day

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photo a bit over exposed, but her face, it’s perfection.

Mother’s Day my head was in the clouds…I gave the wrong lesson at church on Sunday in the clouds.

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(I gave a lesson that we had already been given…just, wow.)

It all worked out.

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working on taking photos in low lighting.

The good news is, you can give the same lesson over and over and over again…

and it’s like a whole new lesson. Us human beings learn great that way.

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Line upon line.

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Grumpy pants didn’t want to sit in his carseat any more…Can’t say I blame him. But I always get him out last, to help him avoid the temptation to run into the street!

When I called mom to wish her a happy mother’s day, she reminded me that I haven’t given her photographic updates on her grand babies in awhile.

Again, mind in the clouds mom.

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Taken in low lighting…wiggly little boy. Not bad. Not sure what he is thinking about, but he’s holding a ball of play dough and a butter knife. 🙂

I’ve been working on improving my photography, because I enjoy taking photos of my children.

I also love having family photos – it is really important to me – and yet it rarely happens.

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He was begging me to take a picture of the bear…but I was focusing on his eyes.

To make sure that other moms/families don’t suffer from family photo droughts, I like to be handy with a camera. The few photos I do have on my wall, bring me such joy.

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Okay, this was taken with my cruddy cell phone camera, but this kid and food. Hahaha. He’s getting much better.

But, I admit, I got a kick in the pants to pick up the camera again.

My friend who started a dance studio asked me to come down and take photos for her dance classes.

So, in an effort to sharpen my skills, a few families around town were begged to let me take their family photos (there was lots of arm twisting).

In between, I’ve been capturing my wiggly kids.

Thinking of you Mom and Nona – hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day.

 

 

The Out-takes Are Usually My Favorite

We tried – heaven knows we tried – and mothers round the world know what a task it is to get a family photo with everyone looking or smiling.

Culprit Number One - for easily getting distracted.
Culprit Number One – for easily getting distracted.

When the kids are whiny and tired is the BEST time to try to capture their smiles.

Look UP here, UP here, Look UP, HEY GUYS!
Look UP here, UP here, Look UP, HEY GUYS!

We also just came from Grandpa Joe’s Chocolate Shop, so we thought some delicious chocolate might be a good bribe for sitting still.

You're an animal, show me your best prowl moves....no, just the little one in the front, the rest of you look normal.
You’re an animal, show me your best prowl moves….no, just the little one in the front, the rest of you look normal.

My sister really wanted photos in this spot – this had to be the spot – and since I’m not expert in lighting or photography, I kinda just said, “okay, let’s see what we can do.”

now, how about for this next one, one of you looks wistfully off in the distance while, yeah, the older one, strike a pose....this is money, perfect.
now, how about for this next one, one of you looks wistfully off in the distance while, yeah, the older one, strike a pose….this is money, perfect.

I was trying not to crack up the entire time.

DSC_0067So, before I could take anymore…I made sure to have everyone get the sillies out.

If they got the sillies out, maybe they could focus better.

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Now, give me more cheese in your smile.

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I love taking photos of families. There is something really special about capturing a family – a whole unit – that is full of individuals, each with a unique personality.

DSC_0193Ever since I was a child, I have loved looking through our family photos.

playing with manual settings...
playing with manual settings…

Here I am, all grown up, being able to capture my sister’s family photo and contribute to her family album.

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I hope her kids take the time to look at family photos as they get older and “time travel” to their childhood.

DSC_0254It’s hard to remember what life was like when you were really young, without having a photo to spark your memory.

DSC_0286I’m thankful for the new memories of your most recent visit Kelsey, Mike and babies! Thank you for spending a small fortune to fly out to Missouri.

Hopefully, we will see you again soon.

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