Well, joining this blog circle was supposed to aid in me blogging more…and, um, well, here we are a month later and the August 5 on 5 post was my last one. Oh well.

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So many fun things happened in August, and there are many stories I could tell. Yet, as they’ve all swirled around in my brain, none of them really felt like “the one” I wanted to tell, and then I realized that there was one constant of these last warmer months that stuck out to me. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve had said to me, that kids are our greatest teachers. Usually I nod (but, really I want to roll my eyes) and think to myself, “yep, my kids are super awesome at teaching me how to lose it in about 30 seconds.” Because really, when my husband and I decided to have kids, one of the reasons was never “oh, yes, let’s have kids so that we’ll have tiny humans that can teach us how to be better versions of ourselves.” Except that today, it occurred to me that my son closed out a months-long lesson in persistence.

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This kid loves bugs. And reptiles. And frogs. LOVES THEM. He reads about them, watches YouTube videos about them, asks constant questions about them, and every day he’s searching for them. His adventures don’t last just a few minutes either, he will search all day, and when the sun sets, he demands a flashlight. Early in the summer he saw a picture of a leopard frog in a library book, and he became determined to find and catch one…luckily, one can find them in Iowa. Finding them wasn’t too difficult, but catching them was another story. These stupid frogs are fast and have an unpredictable jumping trajectory. Many days were spent at Grandpa’s house, chasing them through wood piles and gardens, and they would always manage to sneak away. About 2 weeks ago the grasshoppers emerged in full force, and although temporary, his attention was diverted away from catching a leopard frog. Grasshoppers are much easier to catch. I was thankful for the frog hunting reprieve.

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The emergence of the grasshoppers also coincided with the start of the school year. He started kindergarten this year, and I’ve been a little worried about that transition ever since he told his teacher at our home visit that he thinks “kindergarten is stupid.” By the third day of school he had a reputation as the kid that spends all of his recess time looking for grasshoppers and frogs. Yesterday morning before school, he found a huge, bright green grasshopper, and he insisted on taking it to school with him. So, off he went to school, (contained) grasshopper in tow. When my husband walked him to class he was immediately surrounded by kids in the hall, all wanting to see what he had in the container. When I went to pick him up that day, his teacher told me that he now has a following of kids at recess that join him in his quest for bugs. I really love that in feeling free to do his own thing, he attracted a group of kids that want to hang with him. Amazingly, the grasshopper survived its day at kindergarten, and he released it outside as we left the school. His teacher also mentioned that she’d had a hard time keeping him out of a pond that day…because he had spotted a frog.

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Of course he started going on and on about the frog as soon as we got in the car. He described it in vivid detail and wanted me to go looking for it with him. I finally got him to stop by promising that the next day I would take him frog hunting after school. When I picked him up the next day the first thing he said was “I’m ready to go hunt frogs now.” His teacher shot me a knowing look that let me know he’d been talking about it all day. So, armed with a net and a snack, we were off.

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He set out traipsing through tall grass and weeds, and finally, he did it. He caught a leopard frog. Three months of searching later and he found his Holy Grail. He kept that frog by his side for the next five hours. I thought I was going to have to make a late night run to find a frog habitat, but he decided that it would be best to let it go, and he did. After he went to bed that night I thought about all of the hours he logged trying to catch one of those frogs this Summer, and it got me thinking.  I realized this kid of mine has always been unrelenting in his pursuit of the things that he deems make his life fuller. He has always been motivated by nothing but his own will. He often shuns logic and reason to go after what he wants, and he is almost always successful. Now obviously, this has its challenges, but I hope his internal motivation continues to drive him to do great things. So, what drives you? What do you seek? When was the last time you wanted something so much that you were unwavering in your quest to get whatever “it” is? I know what my answers are, and I’d love to hear yours. Next up in the September 5 on 5 is Jennifer Krafchik, Maryland lifestyle documentary family photographer, so head on over and check her out!

 

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So to keep myself accountable to shooting for me, and not just my business, I decided to join a blog circle. And what better group to join than one that shares my partiality for documenting real life? The 5 on 5 project is where each of us documentary-hearted photographers in the circle will tell a story with 5 photos on the 5th of each month. This is the first month I’m participating, so make sure to check out the link at the end of this post and enjoy all of the awesome talent in the 5 on 5 group.

This summer I have made a point of letting my kids be bored (and letting them figure their own way out of their bored state), partly because I’m kind of lazy and have a lot of things to do, but mostly because I think it’s important. Boredom doesn’t have to be bad, and I think it can be a catalyst to growth, and creativity, and magic, and to overcoming challenges. If I allow myself to intentionally rest in a state of boredom, I find that I don’t stay there for long before my mind figures out what to do next. I also feel like that is an acquired skill, and to get to that point where you are able to create your own fun, you have to settle into being bored for awhile. I want that experience for my kids. I want them to be able to find their own adventure, and to feel accomplished for doing so.

IMG_5174The flipside of allowing my kids to direct their own fun, is that I have to be a lot more open to saying “yes” when I really want to say “no”…to saying “yes” when I know what they are attempting won’t work out, or when I know it will result in a big mess, or most any other reason I would typically say “no.” Like when my 5 year old says on a rainy morning , “I want to give some of my toys a bath.” I knew it would end with water everywhere, but eh, it’s just water.

IMG_5162When I was thinking of the story I would tell for my first 5 on 5 post, I knew it would be my kids swimming in the pool. They’ve been in the pool almost daily since we set it up back in June. And because they’ve been in it so much, I’ve neglected taking any pictures of them in it, because I’m guilty of thinking “they’ll be in it tomorrow, I’ll do it then.” And then, right when I decided it was time to drag out my camera and tell my summer pool story, we had a week full of rain, and the rain caused our pool to get super cloudy, and no amount of chemical mixing and professional pool dude consulting could make the problem better. We drained the pool, moment gone, story untold, documentary photographer fail. So now what? I had to wait for another story to find me.

IMG_5175I have a confession. I have a little bit of bathtub envy. When I see pictures of kids in giant claw foot tubs surrounded by gorgeous window light, my heart sinks a bit and the comparison monster creeps in. Wait, what?! The girl that preaches authenticity, and boldness, and not caring about what your house looks like, doesn’t want to take pictures because her bathtub is boring, there are no windows, and the light is gross? Yep.

IMG_5151So when my 5 year old decided to have fun in the tub, I decided to get over myself and my ugly bathroom, and get my camera out. The pool story was no longer, but the bathtub story found me instead.

IMG_5196So in the end, I said “yes” to water everywhere, my kid found his own fun on a rainy day, and I challenged myself to shoot where I hate shooting. Also, I was reminded that he totally needs a hair cut. Oh, and we did refill the pool.

Next up in the 5 on 5 lineup is Spokane Family Photographer, Margaret Albaugh, go check her out and give her some love!

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I could not be more thrilled for this family.

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In 2014 they invited me to join them as they welcomed their son. Getting to that place, the place of being able to say “we are having a baby”, was not an easy journey for them. It was a multi-year roller coaster of hope and heartache and everything in between, until finally, through IVF, they became parents. And then life, as it often does, graced them with an unexpected surprise.

I will never forget opening that Facebook message from Abby on New Year’s Day. They were expecting another baby, and was I available to support them and document the birth- and it was a surprise, natural pregnancy. I’m pretty sure I cried a few happy tears, and I probably made some sort of weird, happy squeal. Life ya’ll, its mysteries never fail to amaze me.

So fast forward a few months. I was driving my daughter to her piano lesson and thinking about Abby. I had decided I would call her soon to check on her. And then my phone rang, and it was Abby telling me that they had just come from a routine prenatal appointment, and that she was dilated to 4 cm and having regular contractions (and didn’t know it). She was excitedly going on, and then suddenly got sort of quiet as she remembered she was talking to me in an elevator full of people, and now, because she had announced to me that she was in labor, they were all staring at her. This is how it went with her first labor as well, she had gone to a routine prenatal appointment where she was told that she was in active labor, and she had no idea. So, given her history, her doctor figured things would continue to progress and suggested that they get something to eat, grab their bags, and come back to the hospital a few hours later to see if things were moving along.

IMG_4490IMG_4486I met them at the hospital around 2:30 in the afternoon and Abby was dilated to 7 cm. She was having contractions every 3-4 minutes, but she wasn’t uncomfortable. Abby does labor in a really cool way. In eight years, she’s the only person I’ve witnessed that can sit on a birth ball, eat popsicles, smile, laugh, and carry on conversations, all while being dilated to 8 cm and having regular contractions- like it’s no big deal. And not just for one labor, but for both of them. When I met them at the hospital the nurses even asked me “wait, why is she here?”, because she just doesn’t act like typical women do in active labor.

Abby and Steve got settled into their labor room, and Abby was looking forward to two things, an epidural and popsicles. The vibe in the room was upbeat and fun, everyone was casually chatting and hanging out. They got the paperwork and all of the other necessary “stuff” done, and then Abby got her much anticipated epidural and popsicles. And then it was time to simply wait while listening to the Amy Winehouse station on Pandora.

A couple of hours passed and Steve and I decided that we were hungry, and Abby decided that she really wanted a sandwich after delivery. Steve ordered sandwiches from Jimmy John’s, and right when they arrived, the nurse announced it was time to start pushing. The doctor wanted Abby to hold off on pushing for about 30 minutes, but her baby had other plans. About 15 minutes later, after basically one long push, their sweet baby was here.

IMG_4600IMG_4583IMG_4586IMG_4632As I stood there witnessing all of the post birth moments, I noticed over and over the sweet way Steve was watching his ladies. Everleigh wanted to nurse soon after birth, so Abby easily got her latched on and then enjoyed her sandwich with her other hand. The ease and the flow, those are two of the things I love to watch at births where the parents have already done this birth thing one or more times. I left the room for a bit to let them bond, and when I came back the room was all smiles, and so I hugged them goodbye and left.

Everleigh, I have no doubt that you will be loved with an endless love. Also, please let your mom drink her coffee in the morning while it’s hot, it’s important for everyone.

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I got “the call” at 2 am, as it often happens. I was actually awake because the weather was crazy that night and my dog had woken me up to go outside. Stacey wasn’t sure if she was really in labor, but wanted to alert me because she knew that I had a mountain bike race planned for the morning (which ended up getting cancelled because we got almost 3 inches of rain). We agreed she would just keep me posted if things started to pick up. About 10 minutes later she called me back and said her contractions were 2-4 minutes apart, and though she wasn’t uncomfortable, they decided to make their way to the hospital because they lived about an hour away.

I met Stacey and Eric at the hospital around 4:30 am, and it didn’t take long for her labor to pick up speed. She had planned to use hypnobirthing techniques during her labor, and didn’t need a lot of support during active labor. The room was peaceful and quiet, filled with the scent of diffusing lavender, a book of messages to reflect on during labor, and a string of birth flags that had been passed around a circle of women and had made appearances at several births.

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After a lap around the hallway, Stacey decided she wanted to get in the tub, and labor continued to quickly intensify. Her two other children had been born in the water, and though she could labor in the tub, she knew this baby would be born on land. Birth is such an intense time emotionally and physically, and having done it a certain way two other times, knowing this birth would be different was weighing heavy on her heart with the unknown at times. She stayed strong and graceful with Eric right by her side, and her birth team reminded her that different is different, but it doesn’t have to be bad. Stacey labored in the tub until she started pushing, and then made it out with about 10 minutes before her baby was born. She tried a couple of different positions while pushing and then decided on being on her hands and knees in the bed. Right as the shoulders came out someone said “look down at your baby”, and she did, and then he was out and went right to her arms. I stayed in the room for a little while, and then ducked out to let them bond before coming back and taking a few more photos.

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This birth reminded me that we are often creatures of habit, especially when we are in situations where we are vulnerable, like birth. Yet so often I get the honor of witnessing women rise above the fear and emerge from it victorious, and the birth of Theodore was no exception.

 

 

 

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