Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Monday, October 20

Dear Lucy at 3.5 Years Old:

Oh, My Girl, 

You are so incredibly dear to me, do you realize that? You are lovely, with your blue eyes and unexpected blonde hair, and your fine features and your sweet smile. You've always been lovely--- just this little pocket of sunshine that takes my breath away. And you have this sweet little presence. It's hard to explain. But you've never been BIG in your gestures or your explorations. You've never been the one I worried would run into the street or climb a table. You're not the loudest one in nursery. Your gestures are small and sweet, and you stick close to your comfort zone. You take a while to warm up enough (whether it be here at home after you've woken up, or out in the world in a new place) to be talkative and cheerful. I can't remember when this started. I feel like after that hard, hard "colic phase", you bloomed into this little baby who would wake with a smile and be so engaged right away. It was only as toddlerhood commenced that you began to have the side of you that was more cautious, more moody. 

And Lucy, my love--- you are MOODY. For as sweet as that little face is, you have a contrary side that I am really having a hard time understanding. Your first answer to anything is "no"--- not even a loud, aggressive "NO!"--- just a simple, stubborn, "No." My first response to this is, "Well, all right." But in the case of my question being, "Do you want a drink?", for example, your "no" doesn't really mean "no"--- and you get extremely frustrated and mad when I walk away, and you cry out, "I want a DRIIIINK!" or whatever it is you just refused moments before. Or I might ask you, "How are you today?" And you'll state, "No." I have to say-- it does make communication with you rather difficult. I wonder sometimes if you just don't understand the questions, or if you're simply stubborn. 

And though your gestures and explorations are small, there is one area you go big-- and it's an area I desperately wish you wouldn't. You have an extreme sense of territory-- a massive "bubble" around you that you are highly sensitive to, and when your little brother comes anywhere near your space, (a space that gets bigger if you have some toys you are hoarding) you lash out with harsh words and your arms, sometimes a leg. You shriek, "NO QUINN!!!!" You shove him away, sometimes kicking, too. You are so certain he is threatening your very existence by coming near to you. It's almost animalistic how territorial you get. And you display this tendency with Noah on a smaller scale--- using only words, typically, but still keeping him away from whatever toy or treasure you've decided to play with at that time. Lu, this is EXHAUSTING for me to watch. And for me to police. Because in all honesty, I have no idea how to police it. You are so reactionary, there is no "stop and think". And it makes our playtime more contentious than I've been prepared to handle. 

In fact, I think that's really the thing here-- *I'M* not prepared for this. I am not sure I understand your little, special, amazing, different soul. I think Noah is a lot more like me, so it's been a natural progression to parent him. But with you, I am thrown for a loop a LOT, and it's strange for me to begin to realize I don't innately understand you and your motivations and thought processes. It makes for a strange combination--- to be so completely devoted to you-- so in love with you, but also so confused by you. And my love, you're only THREE. I cannot fathom how this will play out as you grow into yourself and your own mind and soul even more. 

So it's my job to learn more about you. To slow down and get to know you, just as you are. It's my job to help you navigate your own journey, even if you are taking turns I never would have. And its my job to trust you, and trust that your heart is a good, strong, beautiful one--- even when you're showing a more defensive face. And I suspect you're an introvert (another mystery to my innately extroverted soul), and I need to nurture that in you--- to help you find joy and love for yourself through activities that you thrive in. I want to help you feel so special. So amazing. And I want you to feel like I am ALWAYS on your team, your biggest cheerleader, even when we don't quite "get" each other. We don't have to be the same to be devoted to each other. 

I love you from the top of your head to the tips of your little toes. I love how you sing little nonsense songs to yourself, even when you don't let me tell you that I love it. I love how you've developed a passion for puzzles--- and I love seeing your whole body puff out with pride when you complete one. I love your little playacting voice you do with your toys, and I love your penchant for little quirky accessories to your day to day outfits. I love that you can thumb through books for hours, and that you still love your Bunny Bunnies. 

And I love your little laugh. Your slow-growing smile. Your growing words and expressiveness. Your hugs. 

We're going to have quite a ride, you and I, I suspect. But I am so grateful to get this chance. To get to be your mama. I am bowed down with gratitude for this chance. I'm going to try my hardest to rise to the challenge and help you fly. 


Sunday, October 19

Pumpkin Patching

On the first sunny day of last week, I took Quinn and Lucy and we headed to Rombach's Pumpkin Farm in Chesterfield, MO to meet Lucy's preschool class for some fun. Despite some leftover mud (a LOT of leftover mud!!) and a reluctant Lulu in the presence of her classmates, we managed to have a pretty good time! And I managed to grab some photos of my littles before we got too busy. October is my favorite, and so are those elusive "pumpkin patch photos"... so the following set of images just make my heart happy. The only thing missing is my Noah, tucked in his first-grade classroom that day. So I included a couple of cute photos of him from later in the day, when he got home, just so he can be a part of this blog post, too. ♥ And we have an Eckert's trip planned in about a week where Noah can come too, so I am making sure he gets this little slice of Octoberness, too.

{Don't look away for a second, or you will miss those rare moments these two crazies can be next to each other without fireworks!! I'm particularly endeared by that hand-holding, because it is a TOTAL LIE. She is either too mean-- pushing and kicking him away-- or she is too handsy in a "Quinn, do this!" kind of way. Le sigh.}

{Oh, that big boy of mine, with his gappy teeth and a book in hand. I love him like crazy.}


Wednesday, October 15

I Should Probably.....

I should probably be using this kid naptime to do one or two of the following:
  •  email some clients
  •  order some client photos
  •  fold the kid laundry
  •  tackle some frighteningly overdue MO state sales tax bookkeeping
  •  prep some dinner
  •  check the four voicemails on my phone from last Friday til now
  •  put away my clean clothes
  •  clear the Hootenanny photos off of my camera cards
  •  begin culling/editing the Hootenanny photos
  •  write a "hello" note to a couple of dear people and mail them
  •  edit some personal photos from either 2010 or 2013 (always behind)
  •  rotate out the living room toy baskets to give the kids some fresh fun
  •  mow a lawn
  •  mail some Jamberry stuff
  •  practice the banjo
  •  put the stroller back in the minivan
  •  put on a touch of makeup
  •  sort the mail pile

I should probably NOT:
  •  begin a new book, since I spent most of today reading the one I just finished
  •  putz around online
  •  think so hard about the things I am not accomplishing

Happy Wednesday, yo. Grey outside, and the grey threatens to seep inside when I think about all of the above. Not sure if avoidance tactics are the best move, or if I should really face down some of my attackers and try to win a battle or two.  The book-reading all day was so completely lovely, as was the pajama-wearing and kid-cuddling (when they stayed still enough to let me).... But at some point, I should probably make an attempt to push away from the inertia. I guess. 

How's your Wednesday going? Any of the above sound/feel familiar to you? Or is it just me?

{Both iPhone selfies are from the other week. Kinda perfect for how I feel today, tho.}

Tuesday, October 14

Meet Me In St. Louieeeeeee....

 If you've seen the old Judy Garland movie Meet Me In St. Louis, you surely remember their glorious house. How could you not??

When Joe and I moved to the Mason Lodge as newlyweds, smack in the middle of the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, we used to drive around and try to find the perfect street that could stand in for the street in Meet Me in St. Louis. Our own street, Westminster Place, was close--- it had such grand old houses, many built right around the 1904 World's Fair era the movie was set in. But the yards were shorter, the houses more closely set together... it wasn't quite right. And for all the other similar neighborhoods we'd explore in the five years we lived there, we never found quite the right looking street... Never THE house. 

Just tonight, a friend linked a fun photo article from Harper's Bazaar that shows several of the most memorable houses in cinema history, and the bit about the Meet Me in St. Louis house actually gave the street address of the original turn-of-the-century home that the movie was based on. So for fun, I Google-mapped it. 

Seriously--- check this out:

Top left is Kensington Ave., where the REAL Meet Me in St. Louis house used to be. Bottom middle is our old Mason Lodge. All those years, we were living less than a half mile from that street we always looked for, and we never knew it. 

I love this. 

Now, we would've never seen THE HOUSE--- it was demolished in 1996 or so. And the REAL house really isn't as incredibly grand as the movie house. The movie house was part of a set in Hollywood that stuck around and was used in other movies later--- and it was definitely more fancy than this actual one:

But still--- it feels like one of the little fun mysteries in my life has come full circle and I love that the answer was right under our noses all along. 

For more fun information about the Meet Me In St. Louis house, both real and cinematic, this blog has a really good post with a lot of detail. Warning--- it might make you need to re-watch the movie again, ASAP. Which isn't really a bad thing. 


Tuesday, October 7

Dear Quinn at 20 Months Old:

{September 2014}
Dear Quinn,

Oh my sweet Quinn. I wanted to write you a little letter this morning to tell you how much I love you. You are such a dear little man, and so important to our family. (well, Lucy still isn't sure she needs you.... but the rest of us adore you!) At this time in your life, you are the cutest ball of energy. You chatter and "talk" all the time, and you have so many words-- even if they're still pronounced more garbled than clear. Because you love your binkie so much, a handful of your words have been learned in a more nasal way, so you can say them around the binkie. The most distinctive example of this is when you make a train noise: Instead of saying "Choo choo!", you say something closer to "Knyng! Knyng!" It's so funny! But then you shift to the front of you mouth and go, "DingDingDingDing!" to simulate the sound of a railroad crossing signal, and lately you even add the little blended word, "Upoat!" ("All aboard!") in a perky, clipped tone. I LOVE your talking. I could describe it for pages. But since maybe I'm the only one THAT interested, I'll shorten the tale and only describe one other thing you say all the time.... Because this one completely melts me, every time.

Quinn, sweet boy-- you say "gank oo!!"(Thank you!) to EVERYTHING. I mean, EVERYTHING. It's like you're the world's most polite boy. It's so endearing I can hardly stand it.

I wipe your hands after a meal: "Gank ooooo!"
I pick up the fork you dropped: "Gank ooooo!"
I hand you a toy: "Gank ooooo!"
I put your shoe on: "Gank ooooo!"
I help you assemble your trains: "Gank ooooo!"
I take anything you're handing me: "Gank ooooo!"

Even when you don't love it, you're compulsively led to say it. Like yesterday-- you got a haircut, and were more than a little quivery and nervous about the blow dryer she used to quickly blast away the hair clippings. Yet, even though you were shaking and worried, when it turned off you said as usual, ""Gank ooooo!"--with a little tremulous voice to be sure--- but you still said it. I honestly swoon every time, EVERY TIME, I hear that little mouth of yours say these words. I wonder if I'll ever become used to it, or you will finally begin forgetting to say it all the time. I hope not.

You love to run. Oh, boy, do you love to run. I've never had such a runner as you--- you practically leap when you do it, and for being not even two, you are FAST and you are BALANCED. Those two little stems of yours, motoring so quickly to get you from Point A to Point B--- you're like a cartoon. I love it!

And you're affectionate. Always willing to give a kiss when asked, or a snuggle. And the best times are when you're feeling mellow (actually kind of rare!) and you are so willing to sit on my lap and press yourself into me as we read a book or watch a cartoon. I can lay my cheek on the top of your head and you don't wriggle away from me. I barely breathe when we're doing this, so that I can make it last as long as possible.

You LOVE your binkie, and you still take a bottle of whole milk twice a day. I know you don't NEED the bottle... but I know you're barely a baby as it is, so if I can get that ritual to stretch until you turn two in a few months, I will do it. It will be my last way of saying goodbye to the baby-ness of you.

Because you are basically ALL boy now. Climbing. Exploring.  Grasping so many new things. Taking hits and standing right back up. Curious about everything. Happy almost all of the time.

You love Noah like crazy--- you call him "wo-ah", and you light up around him. And boy, can he make you laugh! You're a little more wary of Lucy, but you really do like her, and I think you're just waiting until she likes you a bit better. And she has taught you a few things: namely, how to say "No!" over and over... and how to express your frustration. She's more of a hitter, but you're becoming more of a thrower. I like neither of these things.... But I have to trust if I continue to tell you that we don't throw when we're mad, one day you'll grow out of it. Maybe. And I have to trust that one day, Lucy will stop feeling so territorial and compulsive about defending what's "hers", and will start being more of a friend to you.

Because honestly--- who WOULDN'T want to be your friend? You are lovable, happy, funny, daring, brave, silly, smart, and wonderful. You are a joy to your daddy, and you make me bubbly with love for you.

Quinn-- I hope you never stop running pell-mell or finding joy in everything. I hope you're always painstakingly polite and gracious. And I hope you'll always let me snuggle you a little longer, even when you're six feet tall and gangly and itching to get going to the next thing.

I love you, my little man-

Monday, September 29

Monday: What I Hope For This Week

Quinn is starting to stir, but he's not actually up and out of his bed yet, and Lucy is, of course, still sleeping. Noah has gotten on the bus, and we begin the week NOW. The sun rising today is so lovely--- it outlined Noah's sweet head and shoulders as he stood at the end of the driveway waiting for his bus and talking to himself-- some epic dialog about something epic, I have no doubt. The sun also highlighted the slowly-changing tones of the leaves on the trees. We're in that phase now where everything green is a little more golden-green, and some go-getters are actually changing to orange and red. I cannot wait. Autumn is my absolute favorite. I've been teaching Lucy what Fall is, and she's getting it. When she sees vibrant fall color, she cries out, "It's Autumntime!" Awesome. 

What I hope for this week:
  • In spite of this brand-new cold I've just gotten, I hope for positive energy.
  • I hope that our income tax comes in.
  • I hope that I am able to remember to listen to the little things from each of my kids, enough so that they feel heard and cherished. 
  • I hope that we get to spend a little of each day outside, even though Mother Nature is being mean and keeping temps around 82 degrees most of the week. 
  • I hope to get some fabric and get started on Halloween costumes. 
  • I hope that the littles will go easy on me today because I plan to be useless and let the TV play more than usual so I can rest and maybe get better a little faster. 
  • I hope that the rest of the week I don't have to rely on too much TV to survive. 
  • I hope that I can tune in to any needs that my friends might have, so I can be a listening ear or a support to them. 
  • I hope I can remember to bite my tongue when the all-too-easy route of criticizing rises to my throat. 
  • I hope my kids get plenty of time to be creative and to have stories and music in their days. 
  • I hope I can make time for some reading for myself. And editing a few personal photos. 
  • I hope to get caught up on a few very important work things. 
  • I hope to be able to let go when things don't go as I want them to. 
  • I hope to make at least one pumpkin-flavored something this week, and at least one good soup. Even if it really is still 82 degrees. 

What do you hope for your coming week? Is it a busy one for you?  Mine is on the lower end of "busy", and that is a lovely thought.

Oh, there's Quinn. My time is up. Til next time!

Friday, September 26

I Will Try To Write Something.

7:47am, Friday morning. Sit down and try to write something: GO. 

Noah has just gotten on the bus (the bus driver had to beckon me over to tell me she's telling all the parents that the kids need to calm down in the afternoons-- they're getting too rowdy and making her afternoon route difficult) and I am going to try to sit down at this computer some mornings a week just to write...Even though every time Quinn sees me sit in this chair, he pleads to sit on my lap and watch Elmo on YouTube. EVERY TIME. I'm going to pull the ottoman over and try to see if he will detach himself from the idea of my lap and just sit alongside me instead. It does still mean I will have Elmo next to me on the screen while I type... but its a season of concessions, ya know? And I need to write. 

At this point, I will sit, but with no concrete intentions beyond just putting fingers to keyboard-- hence the play-by-play that today's entry is turning into. I know that A.) I need to write ("I will write myself into well-being"- Nancy Mair) just for my own balance and joy. And  B.) This blog is more of a journal in my life than my actual journal has been for many years now, and I cherish journaling. C.) Even if the world of Facebook and Instagram has mostly killed off personal blogging and bloggers and BLOG READERS, I cherish this little world here, and any readers I have left, and I don't want you to give up on me.D.) If I show up and put hands to keyboard more frequently, then perhaps I will write past the brain-dump stage and begin to have actual ideas, theses, themes, topics, stories.... More cohesive things to say, with a planned, writerly beginning and end. Perhaps. Maybe not. Maybe you'll just always be subjected to my freewriting forever, and then you'll leave and go read something much more fulfilling, and that's okay. I'll still be here, trying to write.

(Since 7:47, I've clicked on 5 different "Super Simple Songs" YouTube videos for Quinn. So far, he's content on the ottoman next to me. He has a train in each chubby fist and is riveted by the music and cartoony visuals. We haven't even started on Elmo yet today, but it's early.)

It's been twenty days since I last blogged. For the first time since starting it, this span of time has actually been fully unintentional, and I've even gone for most of the first two weeks not even realizing I'd let it slip. Then this last week, I've been amazed at myself for not even having it on my guilt-radar, which of course, then gets it onto that guilt radar... But no-- it's not just guilt. it's that usually I get itchy to blog so much sooner than this, and that itch wasn't there. Just LIFE, ya know? And it makes sense to me when weeks go by like this, how friends and bloggers I've loved in the past fade away from blogging and try to come back and then try again a few months later, and then.... nothing. It's the end. 

I don't want that here. For above-mentioned reasons. 

And I DO prepare blog posts in my head. All day. Daily. I really do think about my life through the lens of writing and photo-taking. The photo-taking is easier to keep up with, even if those photos don't get culled, edited, shared as much as they get taken. The internal dialog I have all day, though--- that is so much harder to keep up with. I feel like I have these pesonal epiphanies or funny observations or just stories about my little adventures, and the words form in my head and could go straight to paper if I could just sit RIGHT THEN and write them down. But inevitably, the times I finally have some headspace to think thoughts that get deep and fleshed out are when I'm DRIVING. Or holding Quinn for his pre-nap snuggle. Or MOWING THE LAWN. Or going for a walk. 

You too? It makes total sense: those times are meditative. Those times are times when less external demand is upon me, yet I'm still engaged... I'm not answering Noah's questions or meeting Lucy's demands.... I'm not rushing to keep Quinn out of danger. The headspace is open, even as the hands or feet are working. And in this perfect combination of action/non-action, my thoughts are free to flow. But once that meditative time is done- I've arrived at my location, or Quinn has been laid down, or the lawn is done, it's GO-TIME again and I'm back on-duty and of course it's no time to sit at a keyboard and write. But by the time I get time to sit alone, my head has emptied and I'm just glad for a break from ALL of it, thinking included. Constant push-and-pull of this life right now. (We've moved on to Elmo. It's keeping him content. Thank you, YouTube.)

I am not complaining: The trade-off is worth it to me. I am choosing to multi-task less, to require less of myself, to appreciate the way my life looks right this minute. (Oh, he's slid off the ottoman and seemed like he might go play away from me, but no, he's back on my other side and pulling my arm, asking, "Down?" which means "Up?".....My time is ending....) And I DO appreciate this version of life. But I also miss journaling. Blogging. Writing. So maybe I can sit a few mornings a week, right after Noah has gotten on the bus, while Lucy still sleeps, and train Quinn to be okay with Ottoman-Elmo-Time, and get some of this out of me and down for posterity. I'm going to give it a try. Don't look for remarkable-ness.... just look for me showing up. That's a pretty good goal for now.

(8:16. Not bad, actually. Thanks, Quinn.)