Friday, January 22
One photo from every month of his cute, sassy, marvelous life. We are so lucky to have you in our family, Quinn. We love you like crazy!! ♥
Posted by Emily S. at 2:04 PM
Sunday, January 17
The first snow of winter, and it happened, all too perfectly, on a Saturday morning. So we had all the time in the world and every member of the family home to go out and play. A snowlady was built, many snowballs were thrown, and at least one Transformer got soaked in icy wet slush... And it was beautiful. Perfect. Magic.
I know the days are coming here winter has lost its charm... But that's not happening yet. And I am glad.
Posted by Emily S. at 9:25 PM
Tuesday, January 5
What a strange month it's been, since my last post. 3/4ths CRAZYBUSYPACKEDGOGOGOGOGO, and 1/4th "I can't muster the will to do anything else and this new kitten has me pinned to the couch so I guess I have to just sit here and be a blob even longer." The first 3/4ths--- Christmas activities and Noah's holiday concert and going to Historic St. Charles (still magic, after years of going) and photo sessions and ENDLESS editing and trying to catch up and gathering supplies for the homemade Christmas gifts I love to do each year, and making Christmas goodies, and in the middle of it all, JOE GRADUATING with his MASTERS!! and whew!! So much. So much good, but still--- SO much. Constant action and activity and turning from one thing to the next. Trying, in the midst of it, to find moments to reflect on the Savior and the beauty of his birth story. Trying, in the midst of it, to remind my children to pause, too. To focus on more than just Frosty and Rudolph and Santa and PRESENTS!!...Trying to keep taking care of each other, even when it seemed we barely had time to breathe.
So much. Too much. I took on too many sessions at the end of November, so the few I always allow for the beginning of December tipped the scales too far and I had TOO MUCH WORK at the time I try to have very little. That wasn't good. Add in Joe's (marvelous) graduation and it compounded the bustle of the month. Joe's parents in town to help celebrate our guy in his gown as he walked and got his Masters diploma-- so proud. Oh, and I had to go back to the dentist to get two crowns finished. And of course I decided that I wanted a dollhouse I'd found in October to get worked on in time for Christmas morning. And I still wanted to make the kids each a tepee for Christmas. And Noah had an end-of-semester project night open house in addition to his holiday concert. And and and.
So much of it good. But too much of it all. Next Christmas, I vow: less sessions in the late fall. I vow to begin (and maybe even finish) the handmade part of Christmas in the summertime. I vow to watch more of MY favorite Christmas movies, since I won't be stuck in front of my computer editing every night from December 1-December 21. I vow to find even more chances to share the nativity story with my kiddos (we did pretty good this year... But we can always use more. More of the best stuff.) I vow to find slowness a few more times than we did this year.
And then we have this other 1/4th: From December 26-January 5. The post-Christmas stretch before school starts up again. TOTAL opposite. The weather turned from mild to chilly and wet and suddenly we couldn't get outside much at all.... Joe had the whole time off, and we were all together all the time for days on end, amid piles of leftover Christmas, sort of restless. Sort of coming down from the craziness and excitement and bustle of the first 3/4ths.... Kind of in withdrawal mode: twitchy, irritable, bored. And really, experiencing a massive pendulum swing from the one way of life to something totally TOO MUCH on the other end--- too much "I don't want to do anything at all", too much "I can't be bothered to make a real dinner"... Too much "I don't have any pressing deadlines so I am still sitting here playing Peggle Blast on my phone and nothing is getting accomplished." Too much time together, so that kids all began sniping at each other and crying when things weren't being shared. Too much clutter and not enough motivation from ANYONE to get it back under control.
So many weeks of TOO MUCH--- first, too much on the calendar, too much to do. Then, too much "We deserve to do nothing and eat only junk and be completely useless."
I am DYING to find the CENTER again. Dying to get back to my center. That sacred middle ground between too much GO and too much STOP. I am trying to remember how to be productive without feeling like all of my self-worth hinges on my output. (That's been hard-- to have week and weeks of productive output, even at the cost of some sanity, then to "reward myself" by not doing anything productive, only to have it crash around me in a pile of lost self-worth. How strange are we? I wanted the break, but the whole break I felt useless and worthless and lazy and critical of myself. WHERE IS THE CENTER?) I need to make my way back to my path. My own personal path through this crazy world. When I'm on track, it feels good.... I feel inspired and want to be making/doing/planning/implementing the many things I choose to do in my life. When I am on track, I can take breaks and feel filled by them, instead of punishing myself for them. When life is centered, I feel gratitude so much more readily. My artist eyes SEE better. Pinpricks of inspiration are more abundant.
I don't have any New Year's Resolutions, really. For the second year in a row, I have this weird quiet peace about making BIG PLANS, and I know I am mostly okay, and just need to work on the things I always work on... Not make lofty new plans. Instead, with kids back in school today and Joe back at work, I am searching for my center. To get that back. To decide what practices might have fallen by the wayside that I can restart. I want to get centered and strong NOW, before the inevitable drudge of late-winter drains my soul (like it always does, no matter how I tell myself THIS year will be different)... So that gives me a few weeks to get centered and strong first. I'm going to ponder a bit today. Listen to good music. Breathe deeply. And I'm going to sit back down tomorrow morning and list some things I want to get back to in order to get back to my better self. (Forget BEST self-- I'm not sure I'll ever be her!!) It's time to get back the balance between too much GO and too much STOP.
It feels good to be here, now, ready to begin.
Posted by Emily S. at 10:34 AM
Sunday, December 6
Yesterday, we had a gorgeous December morning and we headed about an hour away to Heritage Valley Tree Farm to cut our own tree. I think this might be the first time we've cut our own since we've been married. Certainly since having our kids! It felt like a perfect year to attempt it-- the kids are a great age to listen, to enjoy it, and to even help a little. And we really did luck out on the weather! Originally, we'd planned to go get a tree the day after thanksgiving. But that entire weekend was gloomy, grey, chilly, and WET. this weekend was sunny and beautiful, with only a little chill in the air. We had a blast running around the trees and looking for the perfect one.
Without further ado, here are the photos from our morning at the tree farm. 1. Hooray for some Big Camera photos! 2. Hooray that my new lens (85mm 1.8) was partly what inspired me to get out the camera to shoot. 3. Hooray for a pretty day and cute cute kids at a cute cute tree farm!
Up ahead this week: I need to start making three kids' tee pees for their Christmas gifts . I need to get dowels or poles for them, too. We want to go see Santa at our Bass Pro tomorrow. I have three sessions I need to edit and deliver to clients. I pick up my parents from the airport as they return from a trip to Hawaii. I want to finish putting up Christmas stuff so I can take my tubs/boxes back downstairs. I have various appointments and random things on my to-do list.... And I need to try not to spend random money just because something is cute or food to-go is more convenient.
What's up ahead for your week? Happy things? Christmas is starting to sink in over here... Noah even asked if he could hang his old baseball sock on the mantle for Old Mai, so he is feeling the warm fuzzy giving feelings of Christmas, which helps me with my own. ♥ How sweet is that boy?
So happy new week to you! I'm ready for it!
Friday, December 4
(cute happy photo: Christmas 2014)
I'm trying to find my Christmas this year. For some reason, it felt really important for me to hold onto November to the very end, more so than usual... and I think that has stunted my early-excitement for this holiday season now. I'm still whittling down my massive workload from November... We're still waiting to get a tree (darn rain last weekend, thwarting our plans to go cut a tree.)... Joe is super busy with his end-of-degree classload, trying to just get to graduation in two weeks. (GRADUATION! With his MASTERS! I am so unbelievably proud of him! In fact, this might need a mime photo right now, from his last graduation:)
And in spite of the Christmas tunes we're listening to now, and the Advent calendar under way, it still feels a little like..... November. But a stripped-away version of it.
so I'm trying to find my Christmas. My relief Society gave us this amazing little handmade scripture advent this year, and it has been an anchoring piece of my day since December began. It's helping. And when I have a sudden idea about a gift or a thoughtful gesture, I try to immediately go jot it down in my planner, so I can remember I want to do it and actually get it done. I finally remembered to upload all my Christmas music from iTunes into my phone... I think that if I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "The First Noel" a few times, that might open the floodgates more than a little. Definitely Mannheim Steamroller's "O Holy Night" will.
We are 99% done buying gifts for our kiddos. That's pretty rare and amazing. I am going to make some things, like I almost always do, so I am itching to get started on that... Because sewing and making things always helps that Christmas spirit grow. But every night after the kids are in bed, I think about the clients that still need me to edit their photos, so they can have their own marvelous memories to share this Christmas, and I sigh a little and get back to work on those. Those first- then my own wish list.
The world feels like it has turned a little crazy this year... Or else I'm finally grown enough for the illusions to have slipped a little and to understand that we're all flailing in the dark, so SURE we're right about so many things, when the person right next to us is flailing in their own dark, SO SURE that THEIR truth is the right truth... and that's been really hard on my soft, optimistic, artist soul. To realize we're all just a bunch of (mostly-well-intentioned) fools and the older we get, the more we fossilize and harden into our own way of thinking. The disillusionment is hurting me. I know that is taking away from the usual joy of the season for me.
I've been re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird this season, a little at a time. It's not one I can just binge-read. I taught it for four years, so there are layers of meaning and beauty in it for me from the multiple readings I've done of it. But this time is the first time I've read it unabridged. (I did not know I was teaching an abridged version all those times. Can you believe that? I wish someone had told me.) And it's been slower because of it, but also.... it's been more..... raw. To read it as the world goes mad around me. To hear Atticus' voice and ache with his truth, and wish we were all more like Atticus. This morning, in particular, I've been feeling like this... reading and tearing up and wishing and hurting.
I'm not sure what else to do. First, to find my Christmas, and second, to forgive humankind and keep pushing onward. I'm trying to be still. To listen inwardly. To look outward. I'm trying to protect that fragile part of my soul that threatens to be crushed by it all. I'm thinking fervently of my Savior and what He would have me do. I'm trying to start with Him as I get my kids into the Christmas spirit. I'm pondering things in my heart quite a bit.
I think it'll come. Even though this season feels different, I trust that the magic and joy of Christmas, both the fun, nostalgic secular part of it and the deeper spiritual part of it, will come together for me, as it always has. And maybe I'm a little grateful that it will be more hard-won this year. It makes it more meaningful in the end, if I have to tune in rather than zone out in order to find it.
Meanwhile, I am wishing you moments of peace and pondering... Wishing for you to get to hear that one (or two or three) Christmas carol that really does it for your heart. Wishing for you to remember when the universe whispers to you to do some good, so you can follow through. Wishing for you to try not to fossilize and harden as you age, but that you'll be like Jem and Scout and remain open and pure in your view of the world AS IT SHOULD BE. Wishing for you many smiles as you watch your loved ones bask in the magic of Christmas.
It'd going to be okay. "It's not time to worry yet." All is calm, all is bright. For unto us a Child is born. All is well, all is well.
(so grateful my kids decided to sleep in just now, because whenever would I have had the time to sit and think and pour out my heart and even be able to come to a conclusion that I feel peaceful about? Thank you, babies.)
Posted by Emily S. at 8:38 AM
Wednesday, November 18
Monday, November 16
Here. I am here. I've not blogged, but I am here. I am overwhelmed and extremely busy this fall, but I am here. I am happy, mostly. But busy. And that pendulum of busy swings to the far opposite side so that when I can't "do" busy a second longer, I go to bed early and leave major things undone, or I sit on the couch and ignore the work, and that includes sitting to blog, even though it is so cathartic. I just don't make any time for EXTRA sitting at this computer right now because it feels like I need to be here all too much as it is, editing, emailing, scheduling, apologizing, working. So I am here. Just not exactly HERE here, ya know?
Tonight? I feel emptied. Kind of. Just.... so many weeks of busy, added to so many recent things happening in the world that are disheartening, added to so many things left undone, added to some hormonal, rainy-day blahs, and I feel.... sort of emptied, in a deflated, soul-tired way.
I wish something would give me a good, long, face-hurting, cathartic laugh. Preferably with people I love.
I also wish I didn't ever have typos. Ever.
I need to:
Get things ready for Noah turning EIGHT in two days. EIGHT. Luckily, it's not a party year, but I still need to shop for his birthday menu choices, a card, some little doo-dad gifts to add to his few big ones... I need to find a way to get ahold of a friend of his to invite to his one-friend-outing this year. And I need to organize and finalize his baptism plans. Can you even believe this year, this event, is here??
I'm listening to:
Mumford & Sons Pandora, or a bunch of random old songs I've mostly-forgotten that my iPhone has dredged up when I made the huge mistake of updating it to the new iOS, a mistake that has cost me my familiar playlists and favorite albums, and only shown me old weird stuff that I have to try to get used to until I figure out how to get back to some semblance of where I was before this major dumb iOS mistake.
I just finished all available episodes of Orphan Black earlier this month, and have now caught up on Reign (NOOOOO!!!!!), and I am keeping up with Quantico and Blindspot (Blindspot is better), and I need to find another show to edit to now. Though I have both the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea DVDs here, and maybe that's a good/weird segue-way from Reign, since Megan Follows is in both?
To keep Christmas at bay just a couple more weeks. Then I will dive in full-force. Because I love it. But I love the deprivation of it, too. It makes it more acute and special.
Also hoping to catch up with work (particularly the post office side of it and the ordering of prints and products) and stay caught up with the editing side of it. My busy season's end is in sight!!
Someone to plan the upcoming Thanksgiving at our house and the upcoming baptism for me.
No more leaves tracked into our house.
Time (and dry leaves) to finish the leaf-blowing in the front yard. I love the task, but there is never time, thanksalot Daylight Savings.
Time to finish my schoolwork scanning project so I can clear out this office corner of my front room.
Time to do a cute planned photo session of Noah for his 8th birthday.
To spend a full day under my covers, just reading.
A good cry.
A clean room and more storage so my room doesn't become the storage area all the time.
One-on-one time with each of my kids more regularly.
A movie theater date with Joe.
Time to work on my personal photos.
To find my missing fake Ugg boot.
To procrastinate a little longer.
Not to let people down.
Another faux wood phone cover since I peeled mine to heck last night when I was feeling anxious.
To be able to sell $600 in Jamberry this month without doing any extra work.
To have a Favorite Things party with my out of town girls, IN PERSON.
To be tucked in and sung to.
To go for a solitary walk on a brisk fall day, with headphones in.
To sing something loud and emotional.
To putter around with my Project Life instead of work tonight.
A foot rub.
How about you? What are you up to these days?
Posted by Emily S. at 9:16 PM