A WORD ABOUT BLOGGING AND PARENTING

i have been sharing a bit on here about parenting - things i am working on, successes and failures, joys, and fears sometimes. i share with you stories from our days, thoughts that haunt me, and often i ramble. sometimes lovely people who read this little blog leave me kind responses or sweet words of encouragement. i am grateful and it makes me so happy to hear that such sweet and lovely people are enjoying this little blog. i am happy to have this space to share my adventures as a parent, and i don't plan to stop sharing. 

but today i want to just say this: my blog, and many other blogs show only the best photographs of our children, and the edited stories of our days (yes, even the most honest ones are in some way edited). i do try to be one of those honest people who blog about life's messes, but really, it is not easy to share how lazy of a parent you may have been one day, and it sounds so much better to say that your day was just so terribly tough or horribly tiring, and to lament about how you worked so hard.... blah, blah, blah. i do not tell you how many slices of pie i can shove in my face in just one day. i do not share the photos of the grodiest baby pool ever that chloe decided to sit in on our way out this morning.

because, as much as i like to think of my blog as a place to be honest, to encourage non-judgemental dialogue, and to share my joys and struggles, there are some things that i don't care to remember about our days. i am sure we all have these moments... and in this age of social media, where so much of our lives can be shared, privacy can be a really sweet thing. but as a person who blogs, and also read blogs i often find myself looking at others' photos, or reading their stories and longing for a clean living room, or that naptime wasn't quite so rough... forgetting that these bloggers are people like me, who also show the best photos, share the best memories, and who edit their lives as well.

recently i have been thinking more and more that chloe is a bit of an active child - i don't mean this in a bad way, i do love that she is always on the go. she is fire-y, and bright, and she has such a spirit... she gets so excited. being her mother is a challenge in more than one respect. it is challenging to keep up with and to discipline her, and it is challenging to not squash her spirit. i feel in a constant tension to provide her with all the nurturing she needs and allowing her to run free, while still keeping her safe, happy, and healthy. i get a lot of advice about what i should or should not be doing.... and i listen. i have tried out a lot of what i listen to. but, at the end of the day i feel that i need to do what is best for my child, and i know what this is, even if i have not found it quite yet.... i can feel it in my gut.  some advice i have been given has worked wonders, while other bits just don't feel a good fit for us. i am reading a few good parenting books, and gleaning bits that i feel may work well for our family, but i haven't ever found one book that gives it all to me. i am always leary of giving any advice... other than this: do what feels right for you and your family.

don't feel that allowing them to cry it out is do-able? don't do it.

feel more comfortable sharing a bed with the entire family? go for it.

don't think you even want children? don't have any.

at the end of the day, you need to be able to live with the decisions you make... so read, listen, think, and do what is right for your family. surround yourself with people who support you and love you.

in the coming weeks i am going to be working through some small changes in the things i do with chloe. figuring out what may work better for us, what might be more helpful to her... and i will share these things around here. these posts are not meant to be advice, but just stuff to share (and maybe start a bit of dialogue around here).

... so don't be fooled by all the pretty photos you may see.

but, since it has been mentioned... pretty photos? sure, why not! :)






she took her second trip to the library today... we won't even talk about the first. she was so excited that i could hardly get through two pages of  "the busy spider" before she had to get up to investigate something else. she checked out some books, and played with a computer, but her favorite thing to do was to spin an empty rack meant to hold clear plastic packets of books on cds.




WHAT WE LOOK LIKE


i am not really one to do outfit posts, but today after coming home from our walk i asked christian to snap a photo of me and my babe. i took a look at the photos he managed to get while chlo was still, and remembered my promise to myself, to chlo, and to any future children and granchildren, to take and share more photos that include me. then i decided i would share it here as well.  so, this is what we look like, and how we dress most days... wet pig-tails, a half-eaten apple, and all.  so fancy!

i am wearing: sunglasses from target, thrifted liz claiborne top, thrifted skirt, and sandals from lotta of stockholm.

chloe is wearing: shirt from target (thanks mom-mom!), a skirt made by me, and a pair of saltwater sandals.


summer days like these make me feel downright euphoric! chlo and i take walks in the morning, play in the sprinkler out back, look for bugs, and eat summer fruits all day long. hope you are enjoying them too!








PORTRAIT v. 30

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013"


i grabbed some duck-tape and decided to make a barn to house her horses. she decided the barn was better suited to house her.

cardboard barn diy can found on mermag blog.

favorites this week: che and poet, and bijou and remy

joining in with jodi.




MEND AND MAKE DO


i can remember when i started dating. after my divorce, when i found myself in my mid-twenties, a single woman. i had the pleasure of meeting a few interesting men, and eventually my utterly charming and sexy husband. i can remember a casual date with a man, i don't remember much about him, but i remember talking about how i couldn't wait to make halloween costumes. not for myself, not for me and him, but for my children one day. to make halloween costumes from stuff found around the house or thift shop, it just seemed like one of those things i have been waiting my entire life to do. also, i never trick-or-treated as a kid, so the whole halloween holiday seemed pretty grand to me.

fast forward a few years and i have a little one of my own, and many experiences under my belt that fit into the category of "things i have been waiting my entire life to do". one of these things is not only making halloween costumes (i already have chloe's planned for this year!), but also making her tiny little t-shirts from old adult concert tees, and skirts from sheets, and re-doing her room with thrifted red and white gingham. also on that list is taking her on walks and teaching her what the street signs mean - when we can walk, and when we need to wait. teaching her how to spell her name, and counting with her. we count everything: steps we walk down and up, cheerios on a plate, how many plastic toy bugs can fit into her play frying pan. i was made to do these things. i have been waiting my whole life for it. 

i was going through pictures on my phone today and noticed, with a smile, just how much of her wardrobe i have made. now i won't toot my horn too loudly - most of the stuff is really simple skirts, t-shirts made from old ones, and a couple really simple dresses. but it made me happy to see her wearing them. i do love some store-bought things... but my taste tends to be on the pricey side. you don't even want to know how much time i spend ogling boutique kids clothing - i love comfy, simple, and unique things. alas my current budget allows for very few of these things, so i mend and make do. i love clothes that allow chloe to be a kid, things that wash well and last, things that are easy for her to put on. and i love making these things.

tonight i made her a couple band shirts. during the day i try to play music and keep the tv off. she likes to listen to classic rock, and bon iver is one of her favorite bands to dance to. christian keeps his eye out for concert tees from some of these bands, tees that i can transform into tiny tees for her. i cut the tees down keeping the original neck, then use portions of the sleeves, and hem the bottom. i have an overlock machine, which makes it easier, but i have heard of people doing this with a regular machine set to zig-zag stitch. i love the softness of the tees. i have also made her quite a few skirts from sheet material. the top edge of a sheet usually is a good weight for a fun full skirt, and then the rest of the material can be used for dolls, or quilts, or bags, or whatever.

 
i took this photo while we were playing in the driveway yesterday afternoon. the entire outfit is handmade. the t-shirt used to be christian's. i caught her mid-jump. i figure some day she will either love or hate that i make clothes for her. of course i hope she loves them, that she thinks they are awesome, that she values handmade things... and deep down i hope she learns to mend and make do.

TODAY

i woke up early with grand ambitions. huge ambitions. i woke up with dreams for new stuff to make, crafts to do with chloe. parks to play in, and food to make and eat. i had dinner planned before i even brushed my teeth. i made some coffee. made a quick list, and thought of reading a bit before chloe woke up, but hey, she woke up and so we could just get started on this lovely and busy day without any delay - hey let's go!

(and when i say "hey - let's go" i say it in a sing-song voice, mimicking the introduction to "my neighbor totoro". which has not left the dvd player for over a week).


we got dressed, brushed our teeth, and poured some coffee for the road. we were off. we hit up our favorite local bakery for some flour-ey goodness. ugghh... i have succumbed to consuming flour again, although my stomach hates it, my tongue just can't let it go. i have decided to let myself indulge from time to time, knowing good and well what the consequences are... i just need some danish sometime... especially on wednesday. wednesday is the first day of the bakery week, meaning that all the danish are oven fresh that morning. i didn't plan on ordering myself anything before i walked in those doors and the smell of lemon danish overtook me. a warm oven danish is right up there with chubby babies and a man with a neck that smells like soap. soo good.

we then headed to the craft store and bought some watercolor supplies and yarn, then the party store, to buy balloons. colors: blue, yellow-pink. again. then we stopped at the thrift shop and nabbed some pretty linens to re-purpose into other pretty things. we ended at the drug store to buy me some allergy medicine, and then back home. i had all intention of filling the pool, but as soon as i walked in the door to the house, arms full of our loot, it was as though all the ambition and energy was drained out of me.

i used to say that you know a house is a home when you come home and need to pee. i need to go every time i walk into my house. but when i first bought my house i didn't. it was as though the longer my relationship with a place lasts the more comfortable i feel with it, and eventually it just becomes the rule: home is where you pee.



we didn't make it outside again until after dinner. instead we took naps. i made her some fish sticks, a waffle, and some strawberries for dinner. she ate while making her own "wist". i smiled and asked her what she would do. after she ate i introduced her to the art of watercolor out on the front porch. the husband came home. i grew more tired. it was as though the coffee and nap just couldn't make a dent in my exhaustion. i made myself dye my hair, even though i felt too tired to lift my arms, i made myself do dishes and pick up, and i am now in bed forcing myself to write something, anything.




days like this are not my favorites. they are rough, leave you feeling confused and a little defeated. what happened to all my plans of the morning? why am i so tired when i got enough sleep? why is my body so exhausted when i have been doing so well with my yoga, and even with eating well.. you know, minus that danish. and then something silly happens - like the bananas decide they aren't going to hang on the tree anymore... really bananas?



and i don't have an answer for it, or a way to explain it. some days just don't turn out like you planned... you run out of steam, or your body lets you down, or your bananas can't hold on. i just hope tomorrow will be better.




PORTRAIT v. 29

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013"

on our walk home we stopped at the produce stand. the strawberries hardly made it through the front door.


this week:


this photo of wendie made me wonder why we haven't been blowing more bubbles.

melody's portrait of her little ones telling a story made me think about just how incredible children's imaginations are.

linking up with jodi.




FUN / NOT FUN

thinking about more babies...

fun:

chicago hot dogs from sonic, eaten in the car with chloe, while we listen to oldies on the radio.

listening to chloe talk to bugs.... "hey-low bug! hey-low! you walk? go ou-side?"

long sweaty summer walks.

discovering that your workshop/attic gets hot enough to make a perfect place to practice hot yoga.

babies.... i am thinking more babies would be fun.
 

not fun:

things that go "bump" during the wee hours of the night, when the husband is at work.

bug bites on your baby's soft skin.

listening/watching/talking about the news lately.

gross northeastern humidity!

working triage during insanely busy nights... nobody likes waiting, and nomatter how nice, concerned, or reassuring you are, everyone waiting seems to think you are the triage troll that is keeping them from getting into an ER bed.





SPORTS RADIO



i was driving home during the wee hours of the morning after working last week. i had just finished working three nights in a row, which had left me pretty worn. i wanted to shower, throw on clean clothes, and climb into bed next to my husband, who would leave for work only a few hours later. sometimes our weekends go like this. i work three nights while he takes care of chloe, allowing me to sleep during the day so that i can get up, spend a couple hours with them if i am lucky, and head back into work. the cycle continues until three in the morning. that morning that he will return to work, i will take care of chloe, and we do it all again in about five days or so. we squeeze in a day off together as a family once a week. sometimes he works an overtime shift, which means he is away for twenty-four long hours. and sometimes i pick up shifts that begin as soon as he returns home, leaving us maybe an hour to spend together between.

the time spent in between is crucial. it's a few minutes to talk about something that happened at work, or to give the report of what chlo ate, how she slept, if she had her vitamins already, if any snacks were accumulated that day and where they are hiding. or sometimes it is less than a minute to snuggle next to the other and plant a kiss on the back of their neck before falling asleep, knowing that you are going to be too tired to remember them kissing you goodbye when they leave for work in the morning.

every so often we decide that i won't pick up any time while he is off, and he won't take any overtime, and we will spend a few days together with chlo. before we had a little one i used to schedule myself to work many of the days he did, so that we could spend our days off together. we would sleep in until noon. get up and go about doing whatever we liked. we stayed up as long as we liked and drank a beer or two with our dinner. nowadays we wake up early, figure out something to do together that will entertain chloe and sometimes ourselves, sometimes we nap when chloe naps, and more often than not we even go to bed early. sometimes we grab a six pack and it usually lives in our fridge for weeks, or even months. and sleeping in bed at the same time together, it is so rare and special, sometimes it just feels so lovely and awkward, like when you first start sharing a bed.

while i was driving home sports talk radio was on. i am not sure who the host was, but he was taking phone calls about the phillies. a man called up, a security guard who must listen to the show while sitting watch at his job, and he started talking about how you can't let one game get you down. i guess the phillies had blown a game earlier that night. he explained that you needed to think about all the games before, and the games to come, and keep perspective. i don't think the phillies have had a particularly good season, but i don't keep up very well... my husband will attest to this. just last night he was watching the all star game, and i asked him which team he was rooting for. he looked at me, and answered "the one the phillies are on". i then asked, (of course), "which one is that?". it was as though he was waiting for me to ask it. he grinned and asked "which one do you think it is?". i smiled back. he needs to tell me every year. i know that every year i ask, and every year he needs to tell me if the phillies are in the american league or the national league. because, it really doesn't matter unless you are watching the all star game. even when it comes to the world series, it's one team against the other... if the phillies haven't made it then i don't have too great of an interest.

but, anyway. what got me thinking, and has been stuck in my mind ever since, was the host's response. he argued against what the security guard caller said. he argued that to be a fan meant that you "live and die by every game". that each win and loss was felt deeply by a true fan. that disappointment, excitement, victory, and failure not only involved the members of the team, or the owners of the team, but also deeply involved the fans, at least the true fans. he said that what he loved about his job was talking to these fans, these fanatical individuals who call the station to vent their frustrations with a loss, or to express their joy after a victory. although i am not a huge sports fan, i found myself thinking about what the host was saying, and really taking to heart in a way i wouldn't think that i ever could, sports radio. 

but i am not a baseball, football, basketball, football, or any other type of sports fan. i like going to games occasionally - they are crazy fun when you live in a big sports town such as philly, but i don't really follow any of the teams or players. i like sports, but just never have gotten into them enough to really be able to call myself a fan of them.

what i am a fan of? a true fan of... my family. our little family of three. i think about what our goals are. our failures. our set-backs. what our victories have been... i think about how i proudly and cheerfully celebrate my daughter's achievements, and how i respond to our roughest days. i know that the reason my husband and i work like we do, don't get out as often as we may like, and often feel broke is because we are such dedicated fans to our little family, especially of chloe. sometimes i play a fan to my patients. i think about how satisfied and affirmed i feel when i see one of them getting better, and the defeat and fear of loss that i feel when they deteriorate. i would say i am a fan of my husband. sometimes i think i talk about him and chlo too much... i can't help it. they are my favorites. i think about how our days can be broken down into wins and losses. i think about my family and friends... and what it means to celebrate and grieve together. it is not easy to be invested so deeply in so many people. is is somewhat exhausting to even think about. it's probably one of the reasons i have few close friends.

i try to avoid getting into relationships which involve another person with a lot of highs and lows. the girl at work who breaks up with her boyfriend every other week. the acquaintance with baby daddy or mama drama. anyone whose phone is always blowing up. i know it sounds bad, but i just get too invested and cannot separate myself. i like my friends few, good, boring, and generally drama free.

and then there are even ideas and values i am a fan of. i think about passion, love that gives until it can't spare another drop, but then it finds a bit more to give. i think about conserving, about being responsible and grateful for what one has and making the very most of it. i think about perseverance, about keeping-on and doing it with grace and strength. i am a big fan of challenges, or well, overcoming challenges. actually i love kicking challenges in the ass. after i wrestle with them really good, they pound on me a bit, and almost crush me - then i kick them in the ass. i love watching other people overcome too. i love deep scars - not the physical ones, but the deeper ones that show a person has come so far and is still healing. oh these things make my stomach flutter, my throat warm, and i feel a tingle run from my feet up to my neck,  just a tiny one as i even think about them.  

i am a fan of early modern art, of music, of colors, and lights, and simple good things that help the world make more sense. buttons, zippers, white duvet covers, simple white sneakers, thrifted clothing, cast iron pans, men's deodorant, ikea, overalls shorts on toddlers, water, and coming-of-age stories.

and i know it sounds vain, but i am a fan of taking self-portraits with your phone. a good selfie is something to get excited about, right? and sometimes the bad ones are just too good to delete.

is this beginning to sound like a match.com profile? a bizarre version of "my favorite things"?

as much as i get excited about these things, i vehemently hate things as well.. things like weird visual and tactile textures that turn my stomach. bark of trees can make me downright nauseous. bark-less trees! that's what i am talking about!

i know we need those people who can take it all into perspective. those fans who can look at a game and see it as a picture inside an even larger picture. i am happy they live amongst the fanatical fans like us. i am glad that i married someone who is one of these fans... whose excitement is hardly detectable. because being a fan, one of those passionate ones that live and die by every victory and failure is just as painful and exhausting as it is exhilarating.

yes, you steady fans who don't let a loss or two get you down, and who don't look at each victory as an end, but rather a means to it... you die-hards who keep a cool head we need you too. to tell us it will be okay. to calm us down. to listen to us vent. to put it into perspective for us. we need you, and i think you need us too. maybe you are the opposite of me, always looking for some good baby daddy/mama drama... we totally need you.

even if sports radio says otherwise.

and because i cannot think of any other way to end this post:


PLAY BALL!






FROM LEBO WITH LOVE - SHOP UPDATED!


i have been busy at work, in the attic after the rest of the house is asleep, making some new bow ties! head on over to the from lebo with love shop to take a look at them, and other handmade goodies. i will be adding bow ties for the little ones soon as well. because what is cuter than a little guy or gal wearing a bow tie? (i believe that ties aren't only for the guys!). also, i am always interested in taking custom orders for dolls, accessories, and even clothing!

so keep your eye out for more sweet things coming soon to from lebo with love, and thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for all your support!



p.s. - thank you for all your encouragement, kind words, and for sharing with me in response to my last post. i am grateful for all the love, support, and sweetness sent my way. i appreciate it more than words can say. i know that leaving comments on a blog, or sending an e-mail to someone you have never quite met might not be at the top of your priorities, and that everyone has busy lives, but thank you for taking the time to be so incredibly kind and thoughtful. thank-you. xoxoxo



"AHHHHH-HAAAAAHHH!"


chloe screams at night. not words. she doesn't call. she just yells: "AHHH-HAAAAA, AAAAHHHH-HAAAAAAAH". tonight while i was up in the sweatshop (what i call the un-airconditioned attic where i craft, sew, and now yoga from), i heard her on the monitor. "AHHHH-HAHHHH! AHHHHH-HAAAAHHHH!" 

i let it go for a few minutes. she is no longer an infant, and doesn't need someone to answer her every cry. she has a clean diaper, she was tucked in. i can tell from her tone that she is not in pain... no, she is calling because she wants something, and it is not a life or death ordeal. the reason she does call out is because she knows that we will answer her. because we have answered her.  and so she trusts us. 

this whole situation can be traced right back to infancy. as an infant i never let her cry. she cried and i answered her call. i could tell what she needed and could address it. i loved the way her and i worked. i knew when she needed to eat. i could tell if she was gassy. i knew when she just needed to be snuggled. i knew her sick cry. i knew her tired cry. i could just anticipate what she needed. taking care of a baby was easy, at least it was easy compared to addressing the needs of a toddler. the things she cried for, i could take care of. food, clean diaper, snuggling, entertainment - it was extremely satisfying to give. and i loved it. 

not to say i don't like taking care of her now - i still do, but she is not a baby anymore. she is a toddler. a toddler who knows that her father and mother love her, and will undoubtedly provide for her every need. she has us, and she knows it. she knows us. we taught her this, by attending to her cries, by addressing her needs each time. now she is a toddler, and we must teach her to take care of some of her own needs. but this means trusting that we are not just abandoning her. we need to be confident that she will be okay, so that she will be confident in herself. 

she yells more "AHHHH-HAAAAAH! AHHHHHHHHHHHH-HAAAAAAAAH!". 

mind you, she is not really crying. she is yelling - calling for me. i know the difference between her cry and her call for attention. she is calling for me this time. 

i walk into her room. she is standing in her crib, facing the door, and waiting for me, "HEL-WOW".

"hello chloe. what is all of this yelling about? you are supposed to be sleeping. it is bedtime."

she looks at me...

"milk. mooo. puh-wease."

i tell her she must lie back down, and i leave her door open as i walk down the stairs to retrieve her a small bottle of milk. 

now, don't even get me started about the bottle. i have guilt about the bottle as i have lied to my pediatrician. well, i half lied. chloe will drink out of a sippy-cup, or even a regular cup during the day. she only drinks water during the day, unless there is a special occasion where she gets chocolate milk, or some watered down juice. however, at bedtime she still is adamant about getting a bottle. but when my pediatrician asked "no bottles since eighteen months, right?"... i nodded my head and smiled. every week since then i tell christian we need to stop giving her a bottle... and we just haven't followed through on it yet. it is our own fault, and i feel very guilty about it.

she is still wearing diapers. i haven't even attempted potty training again after our last lousy attempt

she grunts, and points, and doesn't use her words as much as i wish she would. i think she needs to be able to communicate with us a bit better before we can really potty train. i feel as though every five minutes of every day i am prompting her to tell me what she wants, to use her words.. instead of pulling on my leg, pointing, and grunting... she will then grunt, and point, and say "puh-wease?" followed up by a "hank-you" when she receives the desired object, or when i have finally satisfied her request. 

and the tantrums continue. 

as easy as infancy was, toddler-hood has been rough. it has left me feeling very defeated, and often fearful that i am not doing very well at raising a toddler (however, this is not an invitation for unsolicited advice, thankyouverymuch).

i warm up her milk, thinking in my head that this needs to stop. that i need to stop giving in. i need to  "cut her off", so to speak - for her own good. i feel upset that i am failing her as a parent every time i give into her. i am the grown-up, she is the child. i know what is best for her, and as she doesn't meet my expectations of what i feel she should be doing, i fear that i am not doing a good job. i tell myself that tomorrow the potty training is going to start, that all grunting will be ignored, and that bottles will be thrown away. i am still up in arms about the tantrums. but i will take charge and stop being a crappy mom that gives in, and be the firm mom that says "no" and means it. chloe will not be an underdeveloped child because of me. she must talk, and toilet train, and drink from cups. it needs to happen. like now. it is crucial to her development.

right?

i reach her room and i walk in. she takes the bottle i offer and says "hank-you mama". i look down and see that she has tucked her dog in. wrapped him up in her favorite blanket - the one she sleeps with every night. she lies down next to him and pulls on her sheet, waiting for me to cover her with it. my heart melts. 

she has learned to care for others, and to show love. even if it is just to a stuffed dog - it is, to her, another being. she is kind.

and i am proud of her. i tell her i am. i tell her that it is so kind of her to be nice to her animals. i tell her i love her. 

and i know i haven't failed her. 



PORTRAIT v. 28

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013"
taking a little break to enjoy some puddles in the driveway after a rough day spent indoors... we didn't even bother getting dressed. we all have those days right?



this week:

i love these magical portraits of erogene's little ones playing in pretty lights.



linking up with jodi.



THIRTY (is not that big of a deal).

last week i turned thirty. i had been telling myself as it approached that it was not a big deal, and it really isn't. when you think about it... it is only nine years older than twenty-one, and twenty-one year olds are all babes in my book... and when you compare a one year old to a ten year old... they are still both children. now, i might be thinking about it too much, and i might just be trying to make myself feel better... but i don't think that thirty is that big of a deal.

but last week, when i turned thirty, and my hormones aligned just so on the night of my birthday.. THAT is when i felt like thirty was the end of the world. there should be some rule where you are not allowed to get your period on your birthday. i am usually a manageable wreck when those hormones kick in... especially since i know they are just that - some funky hormones which are going to precede me just getting my period, like i do every month. despite my knowledge of hormones, periods, and despite knowing that thirty is not that big of a deal, i had a pretty big melt-down. 

i couldn't keep back the tears, i felt ungrateful for being so unhappy on my birthday when so many people had called, written, and taken time to say so many genuinely kind wishes to me. i was short with my husband, and then apologetic, and then upset, and just a big unhappy apologetic mess... apologizing for crying, for being unhappy, for being so tired, for being thirty. it seemed like chloe was being quite a noodge - not napping well, having more tantrums, and just more labile than her usual self. of course, instead of realizing she is cutting her two top incisors, i was taking her oneryness as a reflection of what must be poor parenting on my part - it had to be my fault. i was annoyingly insecure, asking him if i looked old... trying to make a joke out of it, but you know, deep down i was just checking.... and then when he told me i was starting to show my age - all in jest mind you, i went off again... and once again, apologized. 

he should have known better. 

it wasn't a pretty week. 

but we got through it. when he got home the morning before my birthday he sent me out to get a manicure and pedicure. i hadn't treated myself to one in the salon in well over a year. what once was a semi normal monthly routine is now a rare novelty. i found myself sitting in the leather pedicure chair being massaged and pampered. my short little nails being covered in gold polish. thirty is the golden birthday. it was nice to not do anything other than sit quietly. i don't really make small talk when i go to salons. i am not good at it. i always end up asking questions that are too deep, or divulging information that is just too much... then feeling horribly awkward and hoping the manicurist forgets everything i told her. 

we filled the next few days with some time together as a family. took chloe to see despicable me 2 (she sat through the first house, and her and i strolled the mall the rest of it). i laid out in the back yard for hours at a time when it wasn't raining, and then busied myself with sewing and playing with chlo when it was. i tried to stay quiet and not talk a whole lot. i didn't want to be grumpy. i didn't want to complain. i just wanted to enjoy the people around me and not ruin it. i made a cake and we devoured it with family. it was quiet and nice. when you celebrate your birthday on a holiday it is easy to feel as though every birthday is really overplayed. even though the hype isn't all for you (HBD America!), you start to just want a really toned down day. cake with family feels perfect. 


we spent the evening lighting smoke bombs and sparklers. drank a beer or two and walked back to our house, taking time to pause whenever the sky would light up with short bursts of firework displays arising from various directions. i put chloe to bed and then the tears all came with a fury as i laid in bed. thinking, and over-thinking, and processing, and hormonalizing. it had been a good day. i had loved that day. so why was i crying so uncontrollably? why did i feel so horrible? was it my period? was it just that i turned thirty? what was my problem?

bless that husband of mine for dealing with me on days and nights like those. as crappy as i felt, i know he likes to fix things - especially when his fixing of things can make me happy. there was nothing he could fix about this. he couldn't do anything at all.

 more laying out. more play-time with chloe. a night out where we drove all over the city looking for a place with good food, a pleasant atmosphere, and a decent beer selection... which left us at red robin for burgers and cider, left me feeling much better. we came home, curled up on the sofa, and watched "philly throttle". it was as close to perfect as i felt things could get, or atleast a hell of a lot better than the night before. 

the following day chris took chloe swimming, i sat on the deck relaxing and reading a book. i wrote out a meal plan for the week, and a shopping list to accompany it. i thought about how good christian had been to me over the past couple days. while i had spent time lying outside he had cleaned up the house. he put his and chloe's laundry away. he even cleaned the bathroom. he never cleans the bathroom (i actually enjoy giving the bathroom a good scrub, so i really don't mind)... but it had been a mostly enjoyable and relaxing week, despite my crappy mood. we packed up chloe and took her home for her nap.. i told him about my plans to go shopping once she was asleep, and maybe lay out some more if she took a really great nap. we pulled up at home, and i took chloe out of her seat while christian parked the car. i walked in the door.... 

SURPRISE!

then i cried more. my home full of balloons, friends, and family. i couldn't keep from crying. my whole home full of people who i love. 

i didn't take any photos that afternoon. i snapped this one at the end of the day. i spent all my time relishing the presence of the people that i love. i felt so loved and grateful for such a sweet day. i hugged my dear husband many times. i chased my baby who didn't nap that day either, but ran around with a big bouquet of balloons. 

thirty wasn't that bad. 







MODELING, FOUNTAINS, and BALLOONS


last week we took a trip to the mall. between the weather being everything but sunny, and chloe having a sniffley nose and barkey cough, we had not been out for a while. i like to make an attempt to get out of the house once a day, and if i don't i start to feel as though there is something wrong. after a few days of being in, i can feel myself become a tiny bit anxious, my body starts to fill with both energy and exhaustion, and i guess this is the definition of stir-crazy, cabin fever... whatever you would like to call it. chloe and i both had it. we needed to get out.

it was raining, so i put her in the car and took her to the mall. i didn't have anything in mind that i needed there. i did have a coupon to a make-up store, but chloe wouldn't really give me much time to shop for anything. she was too wired and had been cooped up for too long, so we just strolled the mall. i bought her some french fries, and myself a coffee, and she ran through the mall with me following closely behind, an deserted stroller in front of me holding a few stray french fries. every so often we would come to an escalator where she would slow down and wait for me to catch up. we would ride the escalator up and down in a loop, no less than six times, before i would tell her it was our last time and grab the stroller to drag behind us with my free hand as we would make our final voyage either up or down. 


in the middle of the mall was a kiosk with large black and white glamor-shot photos of children. their arms crossed with one leg sticking out and their back propped up against a wall, close-ups with their hands framing their chubby cheeks, a teen sitting on a stool with her legs crossed and her hands on her hips wearing jean shorts and a huge white teethy smile. chloe was taking a break in the stroller as we passed by. a thin girl in her early twenties wearing all black quickly approached me, "AWWWW!!! SHE IS TOO CUTE! have you ever thought of modeling her?"

i didn't even slow my pace. i don't think i even looked her in the eye. i just quickly replied without hesitation, "thank you, but no, no thanks".

the girl made a quick, but futile effort, "you don't need to sign up for anything! it is really quick! are there any questions i can answer for you?"

"no, no thank-you"

i continued through the mall towards the fountain where i knew chloe would want to get out and run around. chloe is hardly cooperative with letting me take pictures of her. if you were to look at the photos on my memory card, or cellphone you would see the few pictures that i have put on this blog or my instagram, and then five times as many photos where she is a blur, or blinking, or throwing a tantrum. but don't think i said no to the black-clad girl in the mall because of this. there are great photographers out there who i think can get great shots of even the most wiley and wirey of toddlers. 

i know there are many parents who do model their children. they might advocate that it is good for self-esteem, that there is nothing wrong with making a little money by having your child being cute... and honestly, i don't have any problem with these parents. but i just don't feel comfortable with this for my child.  do i feel as though i would be exploiting her by modeling her?

yes. however, to be fair i need to ask myself if i am exploiting her by writing about her, photographing her, and posting her photographs for the world to see. and these questions are ones i have thought long and hard about. these are the questions that limit what i do post, what i write, and help me edit just how much i share on here. because you don't need to know every bit of what chloe does, everywhere we go, or see every photo that i take... and there will come a day when chloe will make decisions regarding her own privacy that i will respect. for now i post photos of our family and keep this blog to show a sliver of our real lives, to relish and remember bits of our days, and to perhaps be a small voice in a big world that proclaims, in my own way: life is very beautiful.

i want to avoid chloe ever being "posed". i don't want her to feel as though her behavior, her appearance, what she is looking at, the things she is learning, or any bit of her is meant to entertain other people... and i guess that is really my issue with modeling my child. when i photograph her i take pictures of her doing whatever she is doing. sometimes this works out and produces a really sweet image that i feel someone else may appreciate, and sometimes i get a blur, eye-lids that are half-shut, and more often than not i do not get a smile. it is fine for her not to smile all the time, and she doesn't need to smile for every photo i take. i don't want her to have a fake smile that she uses for photos. i want her to be a kid, to run around the fountain in the mall, to ride the escalator several hundred times, to play in the dirt and to enjoy the world around her. so yes, i see a big difference between what i do when i take photos of her and share them, and commercial modeling. 

in fact, i don't think chloe understands smiling for a picture.

anyways, chloe is not going to be america's next top model and you will never see her on a tlc special wearing fake teeth and tulle.


i let her run around the fountain, drop every penny from my wallet into it. she loved it. other parents with toddlers stopped by the fountain and chloe greeting them all by walking right up to them and saying "hello". she ran in circles around the fountain, and i watched standing close by. at one point she became a dinosaur and was growling... she growled at a cute family stepping off the escalator. i laughed the tiniest laugh while apologizing... inside all i could think is how much i love this kid and her wildness.

she ran into a department store where balloons were tired to various kitchen appliances. i chased after her and escorted her out. she asked for a balloon and i told her we could go to the party store across the street to buy a balloon. she took my hand and we walked out. on the way out we passed the girl wearing black at the modeling kiosk... she started to approach and then stepped back and smiled. i smiled back.






























PORTRAIT v. 27

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013"

taking a break from playing in the sprinkler to watch some mr. roger's neighborhood on my computer.


 this week:

i am finding olive's untrimmed fringe quite cute (chloe won't let me cut her hair either!).

i adore this sweet summer photo of logan - there is something about summer and childhood that just goes hand-in-hand.

i was captivated by the look in poet's eyes.

linking up with jodi.





BE BACK SOON!


my sincere apologies to anyone who takes the time to check in here. i have been taking a little break for the past week. i will be returning soon, in fact i plan to be back to posting here tomorrow!

thanks to anyone who has come by and checked out my little blog. thank you for your comments and e-mails. i love reading them, and will be responding to you tomorrow as well.




PORTRAIT v. 26

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013"
not my best photo ever. but there is something both nostalgic and new about it that i love. i can remember "hiding" behind sheer curtains when i was little, and i loved pretending, with her, that she disappeared when she hid behind the ones in my room.


this week:

i love the photo that miss james captured of birdie jumping.

this photo of sammy with his trains is so sweet.

joining in with sweet jodi.




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