staying at home: infusion day

not too very long ago, as i pushed my way through the daily grind of stay-at-home-momhood, it occurred to me that stay at home parents face a unique set of challenges and possess a unique set of strengths.

before i go further let me clarify- every type of parenting is hard. single parenting. working parenting. mixed family parenting. adoptive parenting. special needs parenting. it's not a contest or a competition. we're all in the trenches. 
parenting. is. hard.

all the kinds of parenting share some of the same hard things, but they all each have their own unique hard things, too. and since i'm a stay at home momma, i'm up close and personal with the uniquely hard things that go along with stay at home parenting.

so as i got to thinking about these unique challenges and strengths, i also got to thinking about some of the other stay at home parents i know, and how they handle not only the struggles that come with being at home all day, every day with their kiddos, but also how they handle their OWN stuff on top of that.

cause some of these women i know, they've got some big stuff to handle.

and when i couldn't stop thinking about all of these things, i decided i needed to stop trying to stop thinking about them and start documenting them instead.

so i’m starting a new long term project with no timeline and no agenda other than to capture the realities of what parents raising their kids at home face every day. because there are some days when i feel like i can’t do it anymore, and i simply need to know that i am not alone in order to keep pushing forward, and i’m guessing i’m not the only one who feels that way.

i’m kicking off the project with a woman who is, day after day, my inspiration. she has a heart for God, a heart for others, and a heart for her children that never fails to amaze me. she faces life with grace, poise, faith, and strength, even in the face of difficulty, heartbreak, and uncertainty.

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this is my best friend, meredith. 10 years ago, meredith was diagnosed with crohn’s disease. an autoimmune disorder that affects the GI system, crohn’s disease has no cure and involves pain, uncertainty, medication, and lifelong dietary and lifestyle changes.

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when meredith was first diagnosed, she was newly married and working as a teacher. she was started on IV medication infusions to control her symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. every 6 weeks she would have to take a day off of work to spend several hours in the hospital to receive treatment alongside others with chronic illnesses. as she and her husband started (and then grew) their family, meredith stopped working to stay at home to raise and homeschool their two children. after consulting with multiple doctors and spending weeks praying and researching, they decided that she would continue with the infusions throughout her pregnancies and while breastfeeding. this meant that she now had to find time for her infusions along with childcare for while she was gone. on several occasions she even had to take her infant daughter with her to the hospital.

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and then meredith found out about a program that would allow her to receive her infusions at home. after jumping through the hoops inevitably present with the doctors, the insurance company, and the nursing program, she was able to set it up to have a nurse come to her home every 6 weeks to administer her treatment. this allows her to not only receive her medication in the comfort of her own home, but it also removes the stress of finding and arranging childcare- and, now that she’s expecting another baby, keeps her trips to the doctor’s office to a minimum.

while this change has its obvious benefits, it also presents its own set of challenges as well. on top of inviting a nurse into her home for several hours every 6 weeks, meredith also needs to keep their daily routine going while hooked up to an IV pole. she has to deal with the immediate side effects of the medicine while she continues to be a mother and a housewife.

she plays, fixes hair, makes lunches, does potty runs, settles little bodies for naps, snuggles tears away, cleans up messes, and dances to goofy youtube videos, all with an IV in her arm and a smile on her face.

to add to the balancing act, the day i was there taking these photos, she was still in the process of unpacking and organizing after their move just a week prior, AND she was taking care of two extra kiddos for the day. still, she continued on unfazed, handling the day with a positivity i’m not sure i would have been able to muster even on a normal day.

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the truth is, being at home with your kids every day can be a lonely and never ending cycle of caring for others. laundry, dishes, meals, messes, dressing, pottying, teaching, playing, negotiating, refereeing, guiding, loving, the list continually grows as it repeats itself. to say that it is easy for your own needs to get lost in the shuffle is an understatement. there is a certain beauty in meredith’s situation- her children are learning compassion and understanding for what others are going through. she is teaching them by example how to persevere when circumstances become difficult to endure. she is showing them how to lean on the Lord and His strength when your own falls short of what you need. it is not easy, but in the end, it is so very worth the struggle.

conversation starter

i took some photos today for my 365.

they were not good.

i deleted all of them.

buuuut, i still have a deep rooted need to share a daily photo.

so, i thought i’d take this opportunity to share a new collaboration i’m starting with one of my very most favorite photographers, melissa hines. she is talented and brilliant and always comes up with the best ways for us to work together to help grow ourselves as artists (and humans).

this summer, we plan on having a conversation with one another entirely through photos.

yup.

how cool is that?

i kicked us off earlier this week by sending her this shot:

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and now i’m sitting over here eagerly waiting to see what her response is.

i’ll be blogging our conversation from time to time, with all of the previous images included so you can follow along.

it’s going to be a good summer :)

a video for march

we kicked off spring up here in pennsylvania with a massive snowstorm- which meant two days off of work for my hubby, which meant i got some daytime hours to work on some things just for me :)  not only did i (finally) finish february's video project (see the post just before this one) but i also managed to shoot and film march's video for the group i'm working with.  the theme for this month was black and white- a personal favorite!- so i knew i wanted to keep it short, simple, and a little silly.  it may have cost me two lollipops to get what i was going for from my big kids, but it was definitely worth it!

february's second video

so it's march, and while i *should* be posting my first march video right now, instead i'm 3 weeks late in posting my second february video.  kid number 3 has proven to be an even bigger challenge at night than either of his brothers (didn't know that was possible), and because of that, much of my work time (ahem, all of it) has been consumed with rocking, swaying, shushing, and begging a certain 18 pound bundle of precious frustration to just.go.to.sleep.

anyway, the point is, i haven't had nearly as much time as i usually do to shoot or edit, so i've been prioritizing the best i can and unfortunately the videos i promised myself i'd be making twice a month have dropped to the bottom of the list.  still, better late than never.  the theme for february's video was "minimalism and negative space".  a little tricky as far as video is concerned, but i did my best.  enjoy!

a walk in the woods

it seems like a handful of times throughout the winter, the good Lord will toss us an unseasonably warm day to help us all recharge enough to make it through the remainder of the cold and dreary weather that remains.  today was one of those days.

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we're deep in the trenches of selling our house- today was our third day on the market and the second day in a row of several hours of back to back showings.  after a frantic morning of cleaning the house (because with three littles, clean doesn't stay that way very long), we were all ready for a chance to do something at a slower pace.  to say we were thankful to be greeted by bright sunshine and a warm breeze would be an understatement.  despite their initial protests, we headed to my favorite spot (a local hiking forest), and my kids had a (mostly) awesome time climbing rocks and tree stumps, scavenging for sticks and pine needles, and in general just walking and breathing and feeling the fresh air and sun on their sweet faces.

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to make me feel better about the fact that we haven't done any actual homeschooling since january ended, we had a brief discussion on the differences between conifers and deciduous trees, we discovered tree sap and discussed it's various properties and purposes, and we practiced their very favorite thing- map reading.

despite the fact that my oldest brought home a tiny hitchhiker (anyone else not have ticks on their radar yet since, you know, it's february???), it was a perfect way to spend our afternoon and to refill our tanks to help propel us through the rest of the season as we patiently await the arrival of spring.

an introduction to pears

one of my favorite phases of babyhood- and one that makes the transition from having a tiny squish to a toddling chunk- is introducing my kiddos to food.  my two bigs were ready and raring for food shortly before 6 months and took to it quickly and easily.  this little guy, however, is still a bit unsure, and even well past the 6 month mark is still testing the waters with the whole concept of eating anything that isn't straight from mom's tap.  it's taken some adjusting for me to recognize and learn how he needs to approach food- but it sure did make for a fun video :)

let's tell the truth

here's a little story for you.  it's called "life is really freaking hard with young children but you should take pictures of yourself doing it anyway".  it goes like this:

you have a baby.  you love that baby more than anything ever in the entire universe.  you take pictures of everything the baby does, (including but not limited to the first time a snot bubble appears).  you want to take some pictures of you with the baby too, but you want to wait to take pictures of yourself with the baby until you have a chance to shower and look like a human being again.  you go on taking all the pictures of everything the baby does with your phone while simultaneously trying to survive the endless days of diapers and booger noses and meal after meal after of carefully prepared food that ends up on the floor.  eventually you realize you still haven't taken any photos of yourself (at least that have your face in them) with the baby because you still feel like someone took the word "frump" and stuffed it into what used to be your body but you're pretty sure is now just a floppy skin bag with a few oily strands of hair sticking out of the top.  so then you take a deep breath and decide to get over it and take some pictures with that baby... and the other two babies that have arrived in the interim.  those pictures look like this:

 

10 years later, you get a shower.  after that you go buy jeans that actually fit you.  you wear those jeans while cooking food that you get to eat before it gets cold, and then you sit down on a sofa that's not covered in legos or old cereal or mystery stains that you covered with a dish towel last thursday. once you sit, you pour over a photo album that has pictures of you with a mom bun and crusty pajamas and babies who are looking at you with expressions that have "you are my world" written all over them- and you don't even care that you used to look that awful.  because those days were hard, and long, and you cried, and you wished they would end while also praying that your babies would stay little, and you have these photos as proof that they happened, and they were real, and that you all made it out to the other side a little stronger and closer and happier because you loved each other when things weren't beautiful, and you still love each other now, and you know you'll go on loving each other because you made it through the trenches together.

when photos aren't enough

in case you haven't noticed, i really love taking photos.  i take them of my kids, my husband, myself, my family, and my friends.  i take photos of interesting light or pretty plants.  i take photos of the rain and the snow and the sunshine.  honestly, there's not much i won't take photos of because i enjoy creating them and i think they have a lot of value (even if i'm the only one who sees it).  

but sometimes, no matter how hard i try, a photo can't quite capture the memory i want to preserve.  photos bring so many amazing memories flooding back, but they can't record my kids' sweet little squeaky/raspy/babbly voices.  they can't show how quickly expressions morph from angry to sad to giggly.  and that's why i decided to start learning how to create videos as well as photos.

my goal for this year is to make at least 2 videos per month of something- whether it's my kids or myself or my kids and myself or what a gorgeous day it is outside or whatever.  i want to learn how to take videos that capture just a little bit more than a photo is able to.

so here it is- video one of the year- a short and sweet little film of my kiddos doing what they do best.

third baby blues

you may think, based on the title, that this post is going to be all about how sad i am that i've had my third baby and am now done having babies, especially since this one seems to be growing up 10,000x faster than his brothers did.

but you'd be wrong.  i won't be emotionally capable of writing that post for another 6 months or so (insert winky face here).

no, this post is just a brief observation of the hardships of being the third kid.

day 10|365.4:

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he wants to play with them.  so badly.  he watches their every move.  he has started reaching for them.  he cries when they walk away.  but all he can do is sit, quietly taking all of it in (and sometimes, not so quietly), so that one day he is ready.

i don't think i ever will be, but i'm looking forward to it just the same.

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on trying again

i just wrote a big long blog post that was very well thought out and carefully constructed and heartfelt and just lovely in every way.

sort of.

but anyway, then the internet ate it, and i'm angry about that and still feeling a little grouchy about the bad hair cut i got this afternoon, and the baby could wake up at any moment, so instead of attempting to re-write it, i'm going to give you the cliff notes:

- it's been a long time since i blogged

- a lot has changed since i first started photography (and the corresponding blog) in 2015

- i want to try blogging again but i need to be realistic about how much time it takes and how much time i have

- i'm going to start to blog again as often as i can about a random variety of things including, but not limited to: my daily photo, my daily photo plus bonus photos and/or stories, things relevant to photography, photos other people pay me to take

sorry this wasn't a more eloquent return to my little corner of the internet.  hopefully in the not too distant future, i'll be able to write and then actually share a well written post without it disappearing into nothingness.  until then, here is today's image (and a few extra) as a thank you for joining me here in this little space i call my own.

day 6|365.4: what happens when you leave your 5 year old "in charge" for 30 seconds 

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i can assure you, no babies were harmed in the taking of these photos.  he actually thought it was pretty hilarious.

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