Wednesday, October 7
I'm on the last day (thank the lord) of single-parenting while Joe is in Las Vegas for a conference. He left Saturday around lunchtime, and has been gone Saturday night, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and all day today until midnight.
I've managed: Saturday dinner (potatoes supreme), making a fire in the firepit and having a late night out in the backyard with flashlights and hammock snuggling; baths for everyone and a shower for me Sunday morning, Sunday clothes, Sunday morning session of General Conference in the chapel. Sunday lunch and dinner (pumpkin chili and blueberry muffin bread) as well as listening to the second half of Sunday conference. Sunday bedtime. Monday morning getting Noah off to school. Lucy to and from preschool both Monday and Tuesday. Some Project Life'ing. Some laundry folding and putting away. a Quinn mini-session in the garage. Monday night outing to the mall to eat dinner and play in their play area. Monday bedtime. Approximately 50,000 poopy diapers, since Lucy still waits for her bedtime diaper to poop... (okay, maybe only 15 total. But still.) Getting Noah on the bus Tuesday AND making him a lunch first. Quinn to and from his mini-preschool Tuesday morning. Bookkeeping a bit. Making the last 2012 Blurb photo book and finalizing all three 2012 volumes and sending to print. Some major Lucy meltdowns. A manicure. Managing leftovers WITH a side of veggies for Tuesday dinner. Some cross-stitching. Tuesday bedtime (barely). An hour in the middle of the night with Quinn on my lap as we listened to soft music and I wrapped up editing. Editng client sessions every night after kid bedtimes. Getting Noah off to school today. A full morning-midday with Quinn and Lucy at the Museum of Transportation (after I ended up having Lucy play hooky from preschool because this morning was too much. I just.... couldn't get myself moving). Some tidying up. Preparing Jamberry to mail. Dishes every day. Another leftover dinner at home (hooray fighting the temptation to dine out again)... Getting Noah (and the sibs) to Taekwondo early. Managing the littles at the playground while Noah kicked and hit for an hour. Bedtime just now (though Quinn is wailing at me to come back up because he wants red juice in his cup and not water).
I've managed a lot.
I'm ready to be done.
Joe is a major asset to my life.... And these times without him confirm to me, unequivocally, how much he helps me to be a better mom.
The rage-iest I've ever been as a mom has only ever happened when Joe is away for a long stretch. That tells me I NEED him in order to be my best me.
I'm grateful for him.
And ready for him to be home.
Posted by Emily S. at 9:48 PM
Monday, October 5
Noah as a 7-almost-8-year old has grown into a kid who is confident in the things he is good at and loves, opinionated and determined to teach (and correct) anyone about the things he is passionate about... and yet still so young and innocent. He feels hip, I am sure... knowledgeable and savvy about things he and his peers are into. He is a natural leader, both with his friends and with his younger siblings. We trust him to do and handle a lot of things around home. He has moments of self-awareness and clarity with regards to his feelings on deeper things... but is still largely a child and more self-interested than empathetic.
It's fascinating to take a moment to consider his change from "little kid" to this "almost big kid". He's on the cusp of that season where more and more "loss of innocence" happens... Nothing awful (we pray), but just that general coming-of-age where one realizes that parents are fallible, Santa might not be real, and girls are actually kind of cute. He's not quite there, but he's close. I love it. Both the not-quite-yet, and the soon-to-be.
Once upon a time, I was 7-almost-8.
I was the second-oldest of then-5 kids, and had many of the same parental expectations upon me that Noah now has. I was immersed in my own world of friends and my own inner world of stories and make-believe. I loved art, music, dress-up, and friends. I was pretty naive-- not naturally "hip" or anything.... Luckily for me, I had a marvelous best friend who was naturally more stylish and with-it than I, and she was such fun. She loved me the way I was, but also nudged me to stretch my wings a bit. Her name was Bonnie, and I adored her. I have so many memories of fun times with her and her family... of watching her brothers play Atari and her older sister taking time to spare us a moment to help us with fashion or hair. I remember sleepovers and Barbies. Road trips. Talking about boys. (Yes, already!!) Learning from Bonnie how to have a crush and eyeball cute boys out of the corner of our eyes. And I remember Bonnie playing trendy music and nudging me to help her make up dances.
Which is how I landed on my very first "favorite song" ever: Irene Cara's "What A Feeling" from Flashdance. Bonnie introduced it to me, and declared it to be OUR song. We listened to it as often as we could so we could learn the words. We used pretend microphones and sang along, loudly. And with the help of Bonnie's confident encouragement, I got braver about pretending to be a rock star in front of other kids.
This song stayed my favorite song for years and years... Even after my sweet friend had to move away and we both grew older and found other songs, and other friends to play with. And my fondness for my first "best friend" stayed, too. We eventually lost touch, as is common for little kids to do, even when they vow to be pen pals forever. But bless Facebook. Whatever critics may say, I thank heaven for Facebook's way of bringing old friends back together, and letting them slowly re-learn about each other... to meet the grownup version of each other and begin to build a new relationship. I love having my Bonnie back.
In fact, I think we're overdue for a good old lip-sync session, complete with dance moves and pretend microphones. You're never too old to act like a kid again, right?
Posted by Emily S. at 11:32 PM
Friday, October 2
Five for Friday is a fun one today--- I'm taking you back FIVE YEARS to a family photo session I planned and dreamed about for ages, one that was so utterly perfect in so many ways that it's kind of ridiculous that all anyone ever saw from this was our Christmas card that year. Does anyone else do that??? Scramble like mad to get marvelous photos, use them on their Christmas card, then forget/fail to ever do more with them? No prints, no albums, no sharing online... Just a disc of beautiful photos doing no one any good?
As your photographer, I implore you to STOP IT! Use that disc of images like mad. Share them everywhere. Print them huge! Commission me to make you a coffee table book! Something!!
But as the flip-side person-- the client-- well... you can see that I'm as bad as anyone at taking my own advice. I mean, FIVE YEARS? We didn't even have Lucy or Quinn at this time. And there are so many sweet/cute/great photos here. Why are they not on my wall SOMEWHERE? (Actually, that's a long and irritating story re: weird jpg file not getting recognized by a canvas printing website and mama giving up after many many many many attempts, but I won't bore you with that tale.)
I will say, in my defense, that even though we planned this session for weeks, and even drove 3 hours from home to get to the Missouri State Fair to make them happen, God had a sneaky plan in place that summer, and I ended up freshly pregnant with Lucy a couple of weeks before this shoot. So not only was I fluffing out a bit and desperately donning Spanx already, but then the weeks following our session, when I got my files from our lovely photographer, Kari Wright, I was just too first-trimester-ish to ever do more with them than make that Christmas card.
But that doesn't excuse the four years afterward. Except maybe I was like, "Oh, those carnival photos that I love so much are obsolete now that Lucy is here. Darn it." Which is a normal thought, but in hindsight I am beginning to see the value in honoring ALL the family photos from EVERY stage of our family's life. From pre-kids to old kids with kids of their own, every family photo is part of the whole story.
So anyway. Today was finally the day I remembered how little I had done with these carnival photos I loved so very much when we did them. And it's been the day I've been slowly getting them prepped and put into a Blurb coffee table book (finished and in queue to print! Yahoo!) and ready to blog. And here, five years later, I am so enchanted by them all over again. I don't notice that bloaty mama I thought I was here. I don't feel like anyone or anything is missing in these frames. It was us, right then, on a hot August day in Sedalia, Missouri, wrangling a mostly-unwilling 2.5 year old Noah, trying to stay photogenic even as we sweat under our fancy duds. It was an adventure we'd planned for, Joe had tolerated me preparing for, and one that turned out so so well, in spite of the heat, the crowds, the naughty toddler, and the poor photographer who'd just barely met us (only a few phone calls to set it all up) and tried like mad to get the photos I dreamed of WHILE keeping Noah looking her way. (Bless you, Kari. You were magic. Your daughter was an AMAZING assistant. You made my carnival photo dreams come true, and I will never forget your willingness to take my call and let me be that crazy lady proposing crazy ideas to you, begging you to be our photographer.)
So enough meandering journaling. You wanna see my carnival family photo session, shot at the Missouri State Fair in August of 2010, by Kari Wright of Kari Wright Photography? Go ahead. Enjoy. I bet you a thousand dollars you won't love these half as much as I have been loving them all day today, as I finally give them a place of honor in my life story.
"Get me OUT OF HERE, mom. Stop. Stop squeezing me."
Posted by Emily S. at 4:01 PM
Monday, September 21
Hallooo! I'm just going to post a super-quick, but super-cute little Music Monday tonight... I intended to write a memory one like I've been doing, but I've been super tired all day, and I probably need to go to bed. So instead of a flashback, here is my favorite two-year-old singing "our song", the one I sing to him as often as I can, and that he now requests when he's sad or sleepy. In this video, I keep nudging him to keep singing, because he's distracted and a bit tired as we go to pick up Lucy from preschool. My voice is a bit tired and raspy, but it'll do. the point is Quinn's little voice, his little quirky ways he sings the words, and just... I mean.... Seriously. He melts me so entirely. I love that I nabbed this video. (And added below, Karla Bonhoff singing "The Water is Wide", a song I've loved since I heard James Taylor's version back in 1991.)
Posted by Emily S. at 11:18 PM
Friday, September 18
This set of five photos is brought to you by:
1. Lucy deciding she wanted to watch a pirate Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while wearing her pirate Mickey ears.
2. Lucy then deciding "we could make a boat! With seats! for a pirate!"
3. And me looking at the clock and seeing we still had a hour before naps, and deciding this could be easy and fun, AND CUTE.
4. And hey, I could take some photos and I'd have my "Five For Friday" in the bag!
5. And then Quinn getting on board (pun) with the idea.
6. And also, coincidentally, tomorrow is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. I swear Lucy must've been tapping into the Collective Unconscious on that one.
So ARRRR, Matey! Shiver me timbers and yo ho ho-- Happy weekend!
(Bonus: HERE are some pirate terms and phrases for you to try out tomorrow.... In case you needed some help. )
Posted by Emily S. at 7:22 PM
Monday, September 14
Our reception opened with a small-time bluegrass trio playing the background music as people strolled into a bare-bones open lawn decorated with homemade paper lanterns and a few decorated tables, some terra cotta pots of herbs and some silver dishware and candlesticks to dress the event up. (My only two decor regrets, honestly: I wish I'd rented darkwood chairs. And I wish I'd splurged on floor-length white tablecloths. Ah well. What's done is done. It was still so lovely.) We did a meet and greet for the first part of the reception while the bluegrass trio played. And then, as it got dark, I serenaded my new husband (that's for another Monday) and then a DJ helped usher in the dancing part of the night. Our song: "Fields of Gold", originally by Sting, but sung by the superlative, impeccable voice of Eva Cassidy. It is the most achingly sweet, heartfelt song, and it was a perfect dance, being held by my groom as Eva sang to us in the darkening September night.
Our 11th anniversary is this Thursday... And you could've never convinced then-Emily of this truth: that young newlyweds who love so deeply truly have no idea what love REALLY is... And that love eleven years later looks 100% different than she thought it would. And 100% better.
I love you, Joe. Thank you for our first dance. Let's do it again sometime.
(September 17, 2004)
Posted by Emily S. at 10:58 PM
Monday, September 7
After living two years alone in a tiny shoebox apartment above the seediest of only two bars in Provo, Utah, a time I cherished deeply for being a time of incubation and growth and self-development, it became apparent that the need for such a place had run its course and it was time for me to reenter the world and reestablish skills in living with other people.
Enter Melody. A sprite-like, spunky artist, she was a friend I'd met in our ward, BYU 212, and had clicked with quickly through our shared love of anything aesthetic and funky, and the new, insane film "Moulin Rouge", which we both saw in the theater obsessively the spring it was released. After a summer of hanging out and further bonding, when Melody found herself in need of a new roommate, she came to me with the offer. I confess it was an agonizing decision-- to choose to leave my haven, my self-imposed cocoon with the asparagus green and October sky blue walls, the rickety old staircase leading to the front door... the rooftops at my disposal.... But the lure of constant company, of spending time with a roommate who adored hostessing guests and was a magnet for other cool artist-types--not to mention the strong realization that my time for being alone really had run its course--I finally knew I needed to tell her YES.
So after Christmas break, in the winter of 2002, I painted my new bedroom lavender and moved my stuff in. It took no time at all for Melody to make me play her the banjo, and for us to spend evenings huddled around her computer practicing putting our heads on cover models' bodies via Photoshop... For us to lounge on her bed swapping journals and talking about everything under the sun.... We were instantly completely ourselves with each other, and we laughed and listed to each other's favorite music on LOUD. And I introduced her to the musical Godspell. Specifically, I played for her the frantically silly song, "All For the Best", a duet from the play that uses a vaudevillian and whimsical tone to teach its scriptural message. I'm not sure how it went from just listening to us making up our own silly dance to it... But we went there. And we did it laughing the whole time. We perfected a little goofy dance routine to this song from Godspell, and then, as if that wasn't memorably absurd enough, Melody insisted we perform it for any guest who ever came over. Ever. We danced that dance ALL THE TIME. I still cringe/laugh to think of it.
But that was Melody. That was my time with her, in our Shaklee Mansion. I have a dozen other similar stories with that girl.... But when it comes to music... to songs that never leave me, my time with Melody is wrapped up in memories of that song. The Godspell duet, "All For the Best". Because for that season, she helped me feel unabashed, hilarious, and free, and I thrived in my re-entry into social life and re-learning to live with other people again.
(Oh Melody.... I just love you. Always.)
Posted by Emily S. at 11:42 PM