4/02/2014

THAT MATERNITY GLOW



I don't think photographer is a label that fits my skill level. I have a best friend who has taken all of my great photos. She was there in my wild twenties and on my wedding day. She has been beside me and now my family for every major life event and I have the pictures to prove it. She's taken my picture on the coast of California and in the ruins of South America. She's caught me on grimy manhattan dance floors and documented incriminating summer nights. She has taken twice my maternity photos and possibly the most fun we've had together was shooting my newborn babies. To me, she is a photographer. Her eye is well trained and unmatched. Behind a camera she is home. I hope she will always be my friend first, and selfishly still my photographer a close second.              

It's been so many years of her taking my picture. Years of making me feel comfortable under the microscope of a lens. She makes me feel beautiful when I otherwise feel just awkward. I pale in her comparison and a photographer I am not. But I have an entry level camera and want to replicate for others the beauty and joy she brings me in documenting portions of my life. Most of the time I am just taking pictures of my kids - but then a friend visits from out of town and I can't help but record the rare glow that is carrying a child inside you. I know pregnancy doesn't seem that rare, but for me it is. It's only a 9 month span and in the grand scheme of life it's a blip on the radar. And for me, it's a life cycle that deserves to be documented. Looking back at my own pregnancies which I thought I documented enough, I still wish I had taken even more photos of my growing body and soon to be baby.

Here are some of my favorite photos I took of my friend Riki back in early February. She was about 27 weeks pregnant, loosely due next month. Her son Rad was 16 months old. As someone who "baby stacked" similarly - it's been fun to know what is on the other side for her little family of three. Going from 1 to 2 babies in a short time is a surreal experience. A feat you may only do once in your life if at all. They are on the cusp of crazy. They may think their days (and nights) are wild now but they have no idea. I have no words to prepare them because just like anything else in life, they will survive and enjoy it in their own way.  Their hearts will expand and bubble over with new love. They will contemplate why they didn't do more with just one child in tow. The Grand Canyon or The Eiffel Tower. But what did we do with all that time? After the new car smell baby high wears off, we can sit (for just a moment) staring at each other knowing just how insane the other feels. We'll be united by the best exhaustion, and loving every minute of it.




















I really enjoyed my weekend with Riki, Radley, and his baby sister on the way. Thank you for letting me do this!


3/31/2014

A RETURN + A REFILL



snapped in a local bagel place, in an ill bodied delirium state last week

I spent the last day of my 32nd year on this earth away from my children, being glutinous and having fun. We left the girls with family early Sunday morning and drove down to Atlantic City. We met up with our friends who had booked a room for the night at the spa. A mini baby-moon for them, and a 33rd birthday celebration for me. We ate, we talked, we lost + we won. After good times with great friends, we drove back that same night. I thought my voice was hoarse from yelling over the loud slot machines but it started to feel like more than that with every exit we drove past. Even worse I came home to sick babies. The next day it's as if my birthday didn't even exist - with a cold weighing on my head and sick kids on my heart all that mattered was getting through the tough week ahead. I had to leave work early on Monday and took the girls to the doctor on Tuesday. I'd get a ticket for an expired inspection on my way home. We'd stay home again Wednesday and then try again Thursday only to end up leaving work again to take them back to the doctor. Friday was another sick day for the kids with Travis' mom taking the morning off work as I had to go in for a meeting first thing. With two sick kids there was just no way Travis could handle them by himself. I'd spend the afternoon back with my girls, so ready for the weekend but ultimately feeling like crap and still nursing them back to health. Saturday morning would come and find Travis and myself waiting three hours at the walk in clinic - sick, sick, sick. It was a mini flu mixed with a hardcore sinus infection. We had fevers, chills, and our heads were congested shut and weighing in at 100lbs. Family again would come to our rescue as we slowly recovered for the next five days. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all ticked by with no letup. Things weren't really recognizable until Thursday. A full two weeks later since this all started and our house is just returning to normal.

When you're THAT sick, returning to normal feels miraculous. Your strength comes back invincibly and you feel yourself aspiring to tackle everything overdue. I wanted to throw everything out and start over. This weekend I deep cleaned our house, did away with any clutter, and caught up on my laundry. Four bags full to goodwill and that's just a start.

In retrospect I really earned that free-to-me day away from the girls and I really paid some dues the last two weeks. Another birthday, another year of working, motherhood, and life in general. Out with the old, in with the new. Winter is almost finally over (it's freezing rain as I type this) and Spring is almost here. My 33rd year already feels a slight shift from the last. My babies aren't really babies anymore. Maybe this year will be a little bit different. I've spent the last four years pregnant and with babies. Maybe we're on the other side for a bit. Maybe there's a little bit more room for me this year. What do I want to accomplish? What do I need to focus on outside of being a mom? Whatever it is, I feel a little bit stronger this year in my ability to endure. I feel like I know a little bit better this year. Refills are not free.


3/04/2014

RE$ULT$





My thirty day self proclaimed spending freeze was up last week, or two weeks ago maybe (I kept it casual). I'm glad I did it and glad I recorded it here. They say you are something like 80% more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down. I had fails, but overall I think it was a success because it made me pay attention to where I was spending and more so acknowledge the situations where I would have spent, had I not been on the freeze. I guess previously I was just spending as needed it came to me, like a zombie. I make a great living, but The Rockefellers we are not (especially when it comes to Eugenics yeeesh). I will say doing the freeze during the months of the girls' birthday parties wasn't a great fit but whatever.

FAIL$: 
  • one box of Entenmann's Original Recipe Cookies - $3
  • five 7-11 coffees -$10
  • one pizza delivery - $25
  • one box of fancy chocolates and a so not worth it white hot chocolate - $11
  • three McDonald's coffees - $3
  • four Starbucks Chai Teas - $25 (because I re-loaded my card)
  • one Starbucks Gouda Breakfast Sandwich - $4
  • two pairs of gloves for Luna - $1
  • a trip to Friendly's - $35
  • two boxes of waffle cones for Luna's school birthday treats - $4
  • lotto tickets $2 twice a week for 4 weeks - $16 (no winnings)
  • one Little Mermaid princess dress for Luna - $20 (not sure how she convinced me in Target but bravo!)
  • extra/unnecessary birthday party flair for both parties - $100
  • clothes for the girls - $50 (in my defense there was a major sale at The Children's Place and I got about $125 of stuff AND used a coupon)
  • a few lunches out at the office - $40
Total fails over 30 days of trying not to buy extra crap and crappy food - $347


SUCCESSE$:
  • a couch - $500
  • bag of chips - $2
  • keurig coffee maker - $120
  • skinny sweatpants - $28
  • pjs for dakota - $8
  • a book - $10
  • a new vacuum - $300
  • pjs for dakota - $3
  • a yoga mat - $5
  • a coat for myself - $30
  • two pizza deliveries - $50 (oh the self control! I broke down and actual cooked instead)
  • miscellaneous non-essential groceries - $25
  • cute leggings for Luna - $10 
  • snow boots for Dakota - $50
  • 16 lunches made from home groceries - $160
Total successes of things I wanted to buy, but didn't - $1301

Now was I really going to buy a couch? Maybe. A coffee maker or a new vacuum? Sure. I know those are easy to list high priced items but the spending freeze helped keep my wants at bay. Those things are all on my desperately-want-list and without the challenge I really think I could have bought one of them, if not all. I definitely would have bought the smaller things on that list but I'm really happy that I didn't. Bringing my lunch to work was a big saver and I've kept it up since. I also got our tax refunds during the freeze which up'd the ante for me to not spend the sudden influx of cash. I'm happy to say that I didn't spend one penny of it on extracurriculars (but I REALLY thought hard about a new couch). Both our fed + state refunds were used to pay down debt, get ahead on bills, and increase our emergency savings.

I enjoy the addiction that comes from a taste of something good. I like trying to be better and better at something that feels new to me. I like change and movement and progression.

I think I could benefit from a freeze every other month. I've already purchased what I needed for Luna's birthday in the last few days so I might just make March a freeze month (albeit my already planned trip to a ca$ino for my birthday next week). Maybe each month will be easier. Maybe I'll learn more and have less fails. The coffee consumption is an obvious money sucker - but within the last week I started using the Keurig machine at my office which has drastically reduced my visits to Starbucks, 7-11, and McDonald's to (almost) nil.

It's a work in progress for sure, but one I'm willing to be transparent about and continue working on.



2/25/2014

HIM AND THEM














Most mornings are chaos. We're never really all in the same room at the same time. So when this brief hangout went down a few weeks ago -  after taking in a few minutes of this cuteness I was happy to get some pics of these three. Honestly, there's no way this was a weekday, had to be a weekend. Maybe. I don't know. Life goes on.

2/20/2014

DID YOU BURN IT?


(gross) baked crust, before the final bake

I used to think cooking was hard. A god given gift. On maternity leave I invested some time actually following recipes and quickly realized cooking is no different than anything else you can afford to practice. Most of the people I know who can cook have the time on their hands to do so. Retirees, part-timers, or those who don't work at all. It's finding the TIME that's hard for me, not the cooking. I don't envy the stay at home moms in the glory of yoga pants+monotony but I do envy the opportunity in freedom - to use the day how you like and not sell 8-10 hours of it working for someone else.

I have it easier than most though. I don't need to feed a husband (who's always at work) just the two little girls and myself. I remember as a kid, my mom continually telling my older brother to slow down as he inhaled his food. He'd go through seconds + thirds in the time it took me on half a plate. Kids can eat you through house and home, so I'm still appreciating these early years before keeping my shelves stocked is a stress. But I do struggle in finding the time to cook what's on those shelves. On the weekends I make chicken to reheat through the work week which helps. I add one or more of broccoli, avocado, kale, swiss chard, cucumber, tomato, strawberries, blueberries, apples - you get the point - whatever's in the fridge. I'm less a cook and more a prepper. I make quick, simple, nutritious meals using real food. Our neighbors (and landlord) have chickens and I'm embracing the eggs now more than ever. Fried, scrambled, hardboiled, and quiche'd anything. I'm slowly getting good at soups, and sauces, casseroles and crock pots but I'm trying not to stray from the roots of real food.

We don't have a toaster oven so we use our oven broiler as one leading to frequent over toasting - or in Luna's eyes: YOU BURNT IT. She turns away sighing in judgment requesting another try. I eat her burnt-not-that-burnt toast with butter at least once a week. As a mother should - I get distracted. Things simmer a little longer when I stop to play with whoever is rolling around on the floor. Directions are followed poorly as I'm answering life's important questions like "When can we go back to Disney on Ice?" When taking anything out of the oven Luna pipes in - "Did you burn it?" Working full time with two little kids I don't have as much time as I need to be a great cook yet, but I'm getting there. Each day is a little bit better I think.

The pizza pictured above was a calculated risk. A purpose for the leftover coconut flour in my fridge and a haphazard attempt to keep up some gluten free eating. So far every gluten free crust recipe I have tried tastes like crap - but like a gluten free glutton, I keep coming back for more. I already had the sauce and fresh mozzarella (one of Luna's favorites). I googled a recipe, followed it, baked it, topped it, baked it again and let it cool. I crossed my fingers and gave it a taste. I let out a groan sliding the rest of the pizza into the garbage and Luna from the next room over casually yelled "Oh did you burn it?"

"Nope. Just tasted gross, Lu. You wouldn't like it."

"Oh ok mom. Maybe next time."

She knows. I just need more time. Less work, or more hours in the day. I need time to weed through the sea of recipes that is the internet. I need time to read all of my cookbooks and obsess over my favorite food blogs. Maybe less sleep? I mean, it took me a week and a half just to get this post up...

For the record last weekend Luna put on her little chefs hat, apron, and was in her kitchen talking to no one as she made us some soup. She said it was strawberries, chicken, lemons, peas, carrots, and ketchup. I tasted it and praised her. She tasted it herself and said "NO. No mom, this stinks."

When it comes to needing more time in the kitchen, I'm glad to see it's not just me.


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