long overdue photo dump

i've been sitting on some images for awhile now, making them wait until i had some free time to drop them into a blog post along with a nice story so they could finally be free from the confines of my hard drive to roam the big wide world that is the internet.  or at least this tiny little corner of the internet.

but, i don't have free time.  not anymore.  i don't think i've truly had free time since the moment my first made his appearance in this world, but what i did have has continued to shrink with each passing day.  even when i do allot myself some time off to watch tv or go to bed early or actually hang out with my husband, it's not really "free" time.  it's just me deciding i need to switch my brain off from kids or social media or my camera or editing or meal planning or budgeting or lame attempts at homeschooling or the other million things that keep me awake at night.

so, instead of a nice little story or two, tonight you will get a ton of pictures dumped in here and left for you to sort through with your own beautiful and lovely imaginations.  sometimes it's more fun like that anyway.  like one of those picture books with no words where the story can be just a little bit different every time you look through it.

happy imagining <3

/\   that was over a month ago 

\/   this down here was a little more recent ;)

and these next few are just completely random, but i like them so here they are.

on rearranging furniture

i grew up in a house that was often rearranged.  every few weeks, my mom would pile us on the couch and let us "go for a ride" as she pushed it into a new corner, with the coffee table and tv stand not far behind.  as a kid, i thought it was just another silly, fun thing my mom did, and i enjoyed it because it gave my brothers and i new "hide and seek" material, new fort building opportunities, and a new angle on our favorite cartoons.  as an adult, and now a stay-at-home mom myself, i'm seeing the whole rearranging thing in a completely different way.  it's not just another activity to fill the time- it's a straight up survival mechanism.  when you're home all day everyday, you can't help but start to notice every little tiny thing that's wrong with your house.  and when you're home all day everyday with your children, who like the do the same things over and over again, you guessed it, all day everyday, the monotony starts to become a little bit oppressive.  there are a lot of different ways to handle this monotony.  some people plan fun, educational things to do with their kids.  some people take lots of field trips.  some people put on headphones and listen to music while they work and pretend their house isn't actually there.  

my mom and i?  we're re-arrangers.  it drove my dad crazy, and now it drives my husband crazy, but it's who we are and sorry guys but it's never going away.  so last week when i started to feel the urge to switch  things up, my frantic brain, in desperate need of change, landed upon our bedroom.  untouched since we moved in 7 years ago, i knew rearranging our bedroom would be the change that i needed to break up the sameness of our everyday and rejuvenate us a little bit.  and, while i didn't admit it at the time, i knew exactly where i wanted everything to go because of the way the light falls in our room.  we get the most ridiculously beautiful afternoon light in there, but i've never been able to really capture it because of the way we had things set up.  but now, well... here's a few (okay, more than a few.  i really like how these turned out) examples of why i'm loving our new bedroom arrangement :)

looking forward

it's been two weeks since i've had the chance to pop on here.  two.  weeks.  that's too long.  like, way too long.  when i started my second project 365 at the beginning of the year, i knew it would be a good idea to step back from daily blogging because truly, it becomes time consuming.  but i also knew i should proceed with caution because if i give myself an inch, i really will take a mile.  case in point, it's been two weeks since i last blogged.  two weeks.  i'm not thrilled about it, if you can't tell.

the truth is though, my proverbial photography plate is much more full this year than it was last year.  last year, i had one main goal- get good at taking pictures- and a bunch of little goals that fell under that umbrella, like getting featured on a community page, shooting a documentary session for humans that aren't mine, etc.  i was fortunate enough to meet all my little goals last year, and i'd like to humbly say that i think i got pretty close to hitting my main goal.  so, i started the year cautiously, hoping to continue to improve but with a lot of other vague ideas of what i'd like to accomplish.  as the year has progressed, i've established some concrete objectives for myself, objectives that are considerably bigger than what i reached for previously, which means they take considerably more time and effort.

this is a good thing and a bad thing.  it's good because it means i'm moving forward.  it means i'm still pushing myself and refusing to become stagnant.  it means i still have the fire and the passion and the motivation and it means i still have the desire and ability to go big or go home.  but it could be bad if i'm not careful.  i don't want to lose sight of where i came from.  i don't want to forget the habits and the discipline that lit the fire and fueled the drive.

the time has come for me to start looking forward to next year- what i want to do day-to-day, and what i hope to achieve throughout the year.  the truth is, i'm going to need to free up some time to work on the bigger projects and goals i've taken on, which means stepping back from my smaller projects.  i haven't decided yet if i'll be doing another project 365 or not.  shooting and/or editing daily is something that i really value, and i think it's important to do, but from a practical standpoint (and for my sanity), i'm not sure if it will be a viable option again.  as a contingency plan, i've decided to join in with a group of (ridiculously talented) women who are doing a  project 52 with a really cool concept- you shoot only for 5 minutes.  today, in the hopes of reducing the number of images to cull through and edit once the kids were tucked in and snoozing, i decided to give it a shot.

i love the results.  whatever else i decide to do, i think i'm really going to enjoy this particular project next year, and the growth it's going to bring.

i'll be back- in less than two weeks :)

baby henry

it's always an interesting thing, seeing the people you knew before kids step into the role of 'parent'.  my husband met our friend jordan in one of their computer courses early on in college, and he quickly became a part of our group.  we would all hang out on the weekends- grilling in the shared yards of the little off campus townhouses they lived in, bar crawling, and in general enjoying a life of few(er) responsibilities.

when we met aliena a few years later after she and jordan started dating, we were immediately struck by how perfect she was for him- sweet as could be, down to earth, but with the perfect amount of lightheartedness to match jordan's goofy, fun loving nature.  their wedding was full of joy and laughter, because they're two people who are full of love and laughter, and when we heard that aliena was expecting, we knew their home would be full of joy and laughter, too.

even still, i couldn't help but be a little surprised when jordan greeted me two saturdays ago with 8-day-old henry curled in his arms.  it didn't take me long to move past that surprise though- these two are such natural parents, it's like they'd had henry all their lives instead of just a week and a day.

they worked seamlessly together as mom and dad- grabbing diapers or socks, checking his schedule with one another, passing him off so they each had a chance to get some baby time and some coffee time.  watching them as a family of three was like watching a scene in a movie where everyone breaks out into song and dance at the same time- there's no way they could have rehearsed it, but still everyone knows the moves and works together to create something beautiful.

that was this sweet family- following each others' leads and making it work moment by moment in beautiful harmony, with henry soaking it all up with the bliss that only a newborn can have.

(many thanks to melissa hines photography for being the inspiration behind the above shot.  it's one of my favorites from the session, and it allowed us to incorporate a meaningful item into their photos, too)

my heart is so full for these friends of mine.  it's such an honor to have been there to document the early days of this transition for them into this wonderful new stage of life.  i'm so excited for all of the amazing things they have ahead of them <3 

monday morning bubble bath

we had a busy, busy weekend where we were driving all over the place, playing hard with friends, and falling out of routine left right and center.  it was fun and amazing, but my kids (and i!) woke up with a weekend hangover this morning that could only be cured with a bubble bath.  

it's a cloudy, gloomy day that has me feeling creatively uninspired, so i decided to take advantage of our time tucked away in our closet sized bathroom to get some practice in with my speedlite.  in general, i really don't love the look flash creates, even when it's bounced or diffused, but that's most likely because i'm still not very skilled at using it effectively.  however, i've found that i do kind of like it when i use it in our bathroom, probably because the space is so small that when i bounce it off a side wall, it actually helps create some dimension where the light would otherwise be pretty flat and boring.

all that to say, i ended up with a handful of images of my boys this morning that i really like.  in fact, i think i might eventually print a few of them to hang in the bathroom :)

my friend's baby is beautiful

remember that birth session i shot back in march for my best friend?  well, it's been 5 1/2 months since then (not sure where that time went), and her little newborn has grown into just the most gorgeous baby girl.  they had a rough start to her journey earth side, but her momma has fought for her in ways that only a strong and dedicated momma can, and now the joy that glows from this sweet girl's face is nothing short of brilliant.  but, since her early months were somewhat unpredictable and required a lot of rocking, snuggling, and babywearing- and since most of the times we were together i was corralling my own herd of children solo- there wasn't much opportunity for photographing her.

today, however, we had the rare opportunity to hang out, just us girls, so for a few minutes as we chatted and reconnected, i pulled out my camera to document the sweet person she's growing into.  i had originally intended to only share a single image on my facebook page, but truly there's no way to choose just one shot of this kiddo.  she's just too darn sweet to keep them all to myself :)

in honor of having my computer back

over the holiday weekend, my husband and i decided on the spur of the moment that after months of having many large holes in our walls, it was time to finish up spackling and paint our living room.  this was awesome because i now have blank, lovely walls that i can fill back up with holes as i re-hang my collage wall in a new spot.  it was not awesome, however, because it meant all the furniture on our first floor was in disarray for two days, including my computer and desk, which sat unplugged and lonely in the middle of our dining room.  that meant two days of no importing photos, no editing, no blogging, none of it.

my poor heart.

so, as i do a little dance from my computer chair that has been happily reunited with its rightful spot as i gaze dreamily at our new pixel white (which are actually quite grey) walls, i've decided to do a share of the photos i took over the last two days to make up for their lengthy confinement on my camera's sd cards.

enjoy ;)

walking harrisburg

last weekend, i got to kill two birds with one stone when i met one of my photographer friends in real life for the first time and did some more street shooting as we walked the streets of harrisburg together.  it was just as wonderful as the day i spent walking lancaster with another photographer friend- and i think that i'm very, very slowly becoming more comfortable with photographing random people on the street.  

during my first photo walk, i avoided people as much as i could and stuck to architecture and detail shots.  this time, however, i really wanted to be more intentional about shooting the people that bring the city to life.  i'm a master people watcher (ask my husband; he often points out that i'm staring even though i had no idea), so all i really need to do is put my camera in front of my face and do what i usually do.  the problem is, a lot of people run away as soon as they see your camera, either because they think they're in your way or because they don't want to be photographed, so it requires a little bit of sneakiness to get what you're going for.  i've still got to refine my technique a little bit, and i ended up missing focus on what would have been my favorite shot of the day (amish guy with beard below!), but i did end up with a few i'm relatively pleased with.

here's (some of) harrisburg through my eyes :)

a weekend at the beach

i already write this post once and when i was *almost* finished, the entire thing disappeared.  normally i'd be annoyed, but i'm especially mad right now because i specifically dedicated my 90 minutes of afternoon work time while the kids are sleeping/having down time to getting it done.  so, since i'm letting my kids watch an extra half hour of cartoons to knock it out, here's the short version of what i had planned to say:

1.  this vacation was amazing.

2.  i really like these pictures.

3.  i wish i was in more of them.

and now here's a bunch of pictures for your viewing pleasure.  they're in chronological order, so i'll let them tell the story without butting in with a bunch of words no one will read anyway ;)

personal photojournalism: when your youngest turns two

welcome to this month's personal photojournalism blog circle!  when you're done checking out my little's birthday, make sure you click around the circle to see what christine hurla, overland park family photographer has been up to.

a little background first: last year, shortly after i realized i wanted to dedicate myself to learning documentary photography, i decided it was time to challenge myself a little more, so i took advantage of my my baby's first birthday and shot a day in the life to commemorate the day.  i loved it so much, and was so thankful to have all those photos, that i did the same for my big's birthday that october.  after that, i realize it would be silly to stop there, so i've pledged to shoot a DITL for their birthdays as long as I'm able to, until they're big and grown and not living in my house anymore.

my little turned two at the beginning of the month, and even though i finished the images over a week ago, i just haven't had a chance to blog them yet, so i figured this was the perfect opportunity.  i ended up with over 100 images from his day, but to save you from having to scroll for miles to see them all, i'll be sharing the abbreviated version here ;)

morning wake up routine: juice, cereal, and cartoons followed by some play time and a diaper change ;)

we've somehow created the tradition of having our birthday cake for breakfast.  initially we would just have leftovers for breakfast the day after, but when you're a toddler and you know there's cake, it's hard to wait all day.

then we got dressed, had a little tantrum (he did turn two, after all), and headed outside so he could get his gift.

the tantrum continued, but he once he realized that a tricycle is actually really cool, he chilled out a little bit ;)

of course, then there was the challenge of explaining to big brother why he didn't get a new tricycle and that he couldn't ride it until after little brother was done.  fortunately for him, his brother needed a break pretty quickly.

we played outside for awhile before we headed in for snack and a potty break, and then we headed back out for a trip to the park before lunch.

then it was home for lunch- but first, tantrum number two that resulted in him refusing to eat lunch unless he was on my lap.

which meant an early nap as soon as he finished "eating".

after nap, we headed over to grandma and grandpa's house for some family time with our cousins and grandparents.

and then, after our gorgeous dinner out on the deck among those we love, it was time to go home and wrap up the day.  bath, book, bed, and the end of birthday number 2 for my baby number 2.

time warp days

every now and then, i'll have a day that knocks me on my emotional butt.  a day when the reality of time hits me harder than a glass of wine started and finished while cooking dinner. they happen once every few months, and they have a tendency to sneak up on me when i least expect it, and they leave me feeling all the things there are to feel, all at one time.  

i'm a person who is easily distracted- by the monotony of daily life, by the way my body decides to feel on any given day, by the weather, by current events, by the sudden lack of daniel tiger on netflix- what i'm saying is, it's easy for me to lose sight of the things that are standing right in front of me because i allow my attention to be stolen by other, less important things.  that's not to say i don't notice things, because i do.  i hear my 2 year old sing the abc's for the first time, or watch as my 3 year old zips up his jacket on his own after weeks of practice, but with my mind unfocused and my heart in denial, the reality of what they mean often escapes me.  

and then, i'll have a time warp day.  a day like today, when all of a sudden, i see my kids for the first time as these people who are not the same people they were 8, or 6, or even 2 weeks ago.  i manage to look up through the haze of meal planning and cash budgeting and the second migraine this week and it hits me- really, truly sinks into my heart- that they have grown.  parts of them are gone, discarded, left behind in their memories and my heart and a few gigabytes on my hard drive.  and at the same time, i'm able to see other parts that are completely new.  i watch my big get dressed all on his own, and the last 3 weeks of him getting dressed without help rushes at me like a crashing wave and even though i saw it happening, i didn't understand.  not really.  not till today, when i realize that this is no longer a skill that we're working on.  he has arrived.  he has practiced, mastered, and gained this independence, and i smile with a fierce, deep pride while i cry as i say goodbye to this part of him that i'll never get back.

and then my little, my baby, looks up at me from across the hall and says "momma, i put daddy's shoes on".  and all these weeks of him speaking longer sentences, all the text messages to his daddy sharing the latest cute words, all the praises of his efforts to communicate with us, they all combine together into this one sentence that hangs in the air between us, and what it really says is "time is moving past us, and i am moving with it."  and i am reminded that everyday, there is something new, but to make room for the new, they have to shed the old.  his words now are so beautiful and precious, his voice one of my favorite sounds, but my heart aches for the days when he would wander through our house and growl, simply for the sake of hearing and feeling the power of his voice.  i am so excited to welcome this little one who now likes to dress up in daddy's shoes and pretend he goes to work too, but a part of me mourns the loss of the even littler one who would rather just sit and chew on the shoelaces.

the truth is, i need time warp days.  i need to take the time to notice- to really, truly, honestly see- how incredibly my children are growing.  i need a submersion in reality, and not the reality of laundry and dirty dishes and cleaning the toilet seat for the 800th time.  the reality of what being a child means, of what the rewards of the work of motherhood are, a reminder to slow down and cherish it all, because eventually all of it will be gone.  time will gradually take who they are and replace each part bit by bit with a newer, older, more independent part until one day, even though they'll always be mine, they won't really be mine anymore.  they will be their own, and they will continue on through life carrying a piece of my heart with them.  and when that day comes, i will be grateful for these pictures i have of them, so i can have a whole new kind of time warp day.  i can go back and remember how round their cheeks were, how wild their hair was after a long hard sleep, how their legs looked so long but so chubby, how their little dimpled hands found mine when they were overwhelmed or lonely or just looking for reassurance of love.  i take these pictures and collect these moments so that when we're done living them, i can have them to remember, always, the beauty of the time that passed us by.

adventures in rv camping

it's been 9 days since i last posted here, which is the longest i've gone without blogging all year.  between going away for 5 days, accruing a giant editing backlog, working with a deadline, and mom-ing on top of it all, attending to this space has gotten shoved to the bottom of my priority list over and over again.  still, there's no time like the present to jump back in, and so i'm going to start with a few-words-but-many-pictures post summing up the trip i took with the boys and my parents last week in their RV.  

this is the first vacation that we've been able to join my parents on in their new home-away-from-home, so we were bummed when the dates clashed with my husband's work schedule, but i knew i couldn't pass up the chance to get my boys camping- especially since we had an opportunity to spend some time with my grandparents too.

i was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the entire trip went; from the 7 hour drive down and back, to the nights where i had to put them both to sleep on my own in beds that weren't theirs, to long rainy days and missed naps.  they both did a marvelous job, and we had a fantastic time to boot.

of course, because they're still little and creatures of habit like their momma, we ended up doing a lot of the same things we usually do at home (bubbles, balls, race cars, snack, snack, snack), and we did them over and over (and over) because of the rain, but it didn't stop us from having  fun.  one day we even took a nature hike through the woods while it sprinkled (no pictures of that!) and then got soaking wet and muddy when we played on the playground when we got worn out from walking.

we also took advantage of an offer from my aunt and uncle to take us to the virginia living museum to see their dinosaur exhibit, which ended up being the highlight of our time down there.  i've never seen both of my children so over-the-top excited about anything, ever.  the museum lighting wasn't easy to work with, so these aren't all that great to look at, but they at least give you an idea of the joy this side trip brought.

aside from that, we just leaned in and enjoyed the chance to be away from home with mimi and grandaddy, hanging out and doing nothing of consequence.  we even got to play with some fun new treasures that we acquired while we were down there- like a thrift store scooter, a set of walkie-talkies from my grandmother, and an old pair of sunglasses the big managed to unearth from the back seat of my overflowing little car.

happy camping indeed <3 

bowling with your best friend

i have so much to discuss on here.  like how amazing the camera i rented last week was.  or how it's important to have a back up plan when your speedlite decides not to work for a wedding ceremony that gets moved inside at the last minute due to a thunderstorm.  or how rearranging 1/3 of your house and getting a new desk makes you even more excited to do your work than you were before.

unfortunately, i have no time to talk about any of that.  somehow it's already 10 o'clock at night, and i'm only halfway through everything on the night's to-do list.  so instead, here's a photo dump from this morning of what it looks like when 2 best friends take their 4 kids, ages 2 months- 3.5 years out to the bowling alley.  enjoy :)

when the floor turns to lava

my husband and i are in full "rearrange the house to maximize everything" mode (this randomly happens to us from time to time), which means that every day for the last 4 days, the furniture in our living room has found itself in a different place than the day before.  my children, whose pictures appear in the national geographic encyclopedia of rare and exotic animals next to the entry "creature of habit", are handling the (somewhat) organized chaos in two different ways.  my youngest has turned into a stubborn blob that alternately cries while hitting anything that dares to come too close and claws his way up my legs in order to try to climb into my shirt so he can kangaroo there for eternity.  my oldest, on the other hand, has taken his already overactive imagination and turned it up to 11.

today, the floor was lava.  happiness ensued :)

here's to never being so grown up that we can't allow ourselves to get lost in the imagination of a child <3 

any other saturday

today was a fairly run-of-the-mill saturday in our house.  with the exception of taking the big to get his stitches removed (which hopefully does not become a normal part of life around here), we did the sorts of things we usually do- woke up slow, watched some tv, made family french toast for breakfast.  the little napped earlier than usual because the trauma of his brother leaving the house without him to go to the doctor was too much to bear, but it worked out well because once he woke up (and i got him sitting at the table long enough to eat), we were able to head out to visit my parents for the afternoon- something we're thankfully able to do every other week or so.

what i liked most about today was that it was an excellent reminder that there's quite a bit of magic to be found in ordinary days.  there's the mood transforming magic of sitting down and eating a meal with family.  there's magic in exploring in mimi and grandaddy's light-filled backyard, and there's certainly a special, quiet sort of magic in winding down for the evening on the couch with daddy.  

some days, i feel guilty for how many of our days boil down to being the same thing done over again.  i feel like i should be providing experiences and for my children, to introduce them to as many corners of the world as we can get to while they're still little and learning- but then we have days like this where the sameness is what makes the day beautiful.  living life on repeat gives you the chance to get it right, to try again, to really look for the new and different while surrounded by the safety of the familiar.

in a few weeks, we'll be stepping out of our routine and taking a vacation that is new and different, and i'm so excited for all that trip will bring.  but, for now, i'm letting myself lean in to living within our world of repetition and predictability.  i'm learning to embrace the opportunities that sameness brings, and i'm thankful that this is where we are right now.  i wouldn't have it any other way <3 

movies with preschoolers

several weeks ago, we decided the time had come for our 3.5 year old to be done taking afternoon naps.  however, in order to help me maintain my sanity, and to prevent him from becoming too painfully grouchy by the end of the day, we've instituted the rule that he needs to have "down time" while his little brother naps- which translates to him watching a movie on the couch for an hour and a half every afternoon.  it's been going really well- he enjoys his special movie time, and his bedtime routine has been cut almost in half.  so, today, when we were out visiting our favorite friends and nap time rolled around, my friend offered to pop in a movie for all 3 boys to watch and i quickly agreed.  her 3 year old has a similar routine to my big, and the little was so tired from not being conked out in his own crib that he was slowly turning into a blob of glazed eyes and drool (in a cute way, of course).  the point is, i thought it would be fun to see how these three friends did hanging out together on the sofa watching a movie at nap time, and i was not disappointed.  here is a brief visual breakdown of how it went:

WE GET TO WATCH A MOVIE TOGETHER!!!  YAAAAAAY!!!

left: I'M SO EXCITED!!!     center: ohmygoshi'msotired     right:  it's okay, just stay awake!

mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooovieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

this is the best thing ever.

starting.  to feel.  tired.

need space.  spread out.

must stay awake.  must watch movie.

after i took that last one, i ended up sitting next to them and getting sucked in to the movie myself... for about 10 minutes, at which point both my kids started to cry from tiredness/the break in routine/they sensed i wanted to watch the movie, and then my friend's 2 month old woke up, so we decided it was time to scoot (i'm a great friend like that- sorry my kids woke up your baby... BYE!).  now we just have a good excuse to watch the second half of inside out the next time we visit :)

pocket full of sunshine

so i'm in this amazing facebook group- i've talked about it before, the one where the focus is on finding different kinds of light- and the new theme for this month is pockets of light.  this theme is awesome and i love it.  shooting using pockets of light creates really dramatically lit images with gorgeous contrast that i can't get enough of.  plus, when you're shooting documentary, it's a really fun challenge to find ways to get your subject into the pocket.  sometimes it means moving yourself until you get the right angle, sometimes it's setting up your shot and waiting until your subject moves into the light, or maybe it's baiting your three year old by placing a brownie in the light pocket on the kitchen counter at 7 am (i mean, what?  i would never do that.  i'm an excellent mother).

i would also never, ever let my kids watch netflix on my phone at the end of our morning park excursion because of a cool bench and well-placed light.  

honestly though, i had so much fun light hunting today.  i've enjoyed every theme that's been presented since i joined the finding the light group, but i think this is one that will really occupy my brain.  everywhere we went today i was noticing pockets of light and trying to be sneaky and creative in photographing them.

here's to a month full of pockets that are full of sunshine.  happy june :)

a story and a snack

i had an idea for a panning shot in my head today, but when i tried it, it was such an enormous fail that i decided to take a break from shooting for technique and instead just shoot for fun.  i'm glad i did too, because i was able to document a truly significant milestone for my little- i mean, who doesn't remember their first solo counter snack?   :)

this was one of those moments where it hit me just how fast he's growing up.  i remember so clearly the first time i let his big brother sit on the counter to munch through a bowl of cereal without me standing there holding onto him- how is it possible that this guy is old enough to be doing that?

lately when i plopped him on the counter, i start out with my hand on his knee, and then slowly drift a cabinet's length away for a few moments before scurrying back.  he's a wiggly one this guy.  but then today it occurred to me- he's wiggly and busy and wild and adventurous, but his movements are calculated, both at home and on the playground.  he's aware of his body and the cause and effect of his movements.  and, he's highly invested in snack time.  so when i put him up there today, i took a step back.  and then another.  and then another.  and then i let myself trust him and went to the other room to grab my camera, and when i came back in, there he sat, beaming atme and crunching away on leftover morning cheerio #8,753.

oh, and see the dog hair on his foot?  that's cause of this:

(look closely at this first image)

it's remarkable how patient she becomes when people food is involved :)

a short monday story

the theme for this week is {season}, and while i'm probably going to go out and do some more nature shots- because i love nature shots and they're a nice break from my normal- when the chance for a documentary take on this theme popped up today, i knew i wanted to take it.

my big is now officially 3 and a half (seeing it written out is making my head spin a little) and he's in this tricky season of his life where he's stuck halfway between toddler and big kid.  he wants to be independent, but he still needs me by his side for new (and some old) things.  he is realizing that he has his own unique and valuable thoughts and opinions, but he's still learning how to express them appropriately and effectively.  and, more concretely, he still kind of needs a nap during the day to help him remain a semi-pleasant human throughout the afternoon, but when he takes a nap, it turns bedtime into a production long and dramatic enough to rival a broadway show.  so, after some discussion with my husband and some advice from my best (who's 3 year old has already mostly given up napping), we decided to try skipping nap and in favor of a "rest time" for the first time today.

we started the nap time routine as usual by taking the little upstairs for his nap, but once he was fast asleep in his crib, the big and i headed back downstairs and got him all set up on the couch with a blanket, a few favorite toys, and a movie.  the rules were that he had to stay on the couch and keep his body calm and quiet until the movie was over so that he could rest and little brother could sleep.

if i'm being honest, it felt very strange- almost irresponsible- to allow him to stay awake during the time that i've always made sure he was snoozing away for the last 3 years.  we're very big on routine in our house, and even though we've all gotten better about going off routine from time to time for something special, intentionally changing things on a normal day was challenging for me.

DSC_9977.jpg

and (more truth telling) it was hard for me to give up that small slice of time that i get to myself.  granted, i still did chores and took care of a few things on the computer while he rested, but i couldn't sit on the couch and dip into my secret stash of chocolate covered pretzels while watching [insert trashy television show here] like i sometimes do.  and while it was cute and funny and warmed my heart to listen to him chatter to me for the first 45 minutes of the movie, i also missed the quiet stillness of a house full of sleeping littles.

but, as with all things, i'm certain that as time goes on, i'll start to look forward to these hushed few hours with just him and me in the afternoons.  i'll find a couple of days each week to set work and chores aside and just sit with him and breathe him in while he still lets me snuggle him close, and i'll be glad for the chance to get to know just him again for a little while, without the distraction of brother or daddy or camera or phone.

so here's to this new season of our lives- his and mine and ours as a family.  may we never stop growing upward and onward <3 

farmers markets and nap refusals

this week, i've been rejoicing over the return of shooting full time with my dslr- so much so that i've had 150+ pictures to sift through every evening since sunday.  most of the images have gotten deleted without a second thought, especially since i've been doing a lot of experimenting for this week's out of focus theme which means i end up with a lot of junk.  and on top of that, much of my shooting has been kind of random and spur of the moment, so i haven't ended up with a cohesive set to share.

today isn't much different, but i did end up with a few that i like enough to warrant a blog post, even though they're all off prompt.  can't win them all right?

this morning, to combat our 17,859th day of rain in a row, i decided to venture out with the kids to an indoor farmer's market about 20 minutes away.  which coincidentally is juuuuuust long enough for both of them to pass out in the back seat.  at 9:30 in the morning.  which means they were both a little... grouchy... when i woke them up upon our arrival.  oh, and remember how i said it was indoors?  apparently "indoors" is a pretty loose term in the world of farmer's markets, and includes, but is not limited to, areas that are covered with a roof but not surrounded by walls.  but i'm new to the world of farmer's markets, and didn't know about this subtlety, so we didn't have jackets.  the point being: our trip was not the relaxing saunter through rows of fresh produce and flowers and cute knick knacks that i was expecting.  it was crowded and cold and windy with melty, whiney kids and not many opportunities to take photos without stoking the three year old shaped fire from smoldering ashes to a full blown, bonfire sized tantrum.

there were a few good moments though.  like when we bought some apples for mega cheap and pulled over for a "please Lord let this improve their moods" snack.

note the tear on his cheek.  he may have dropped his half eaten apple on the ground and then lost it when i told him we had to throw it away.  to soothe the beast, i did the unthinkable and (gasp) let him eat from the side that didn't touch the floor.  it's all about survival, people.

the best part of the morning was when we saw the cows.  i don't know if i've ever seen my big so incredibly excited while simultaneously being thoroughly terrified.

after that excitement wore off, we headed home and i stuffed both kids full of lunch, which seemed to improve all three of our moods.  we played for awhile and then headed up for nap time.  but, since they both took power naps in the car on our way to this morning's field trip, getting them to sleep was enough to make me wish we were back outside at the farmer's market, because at least then i would have been surrounded by other humans who could share in my misery.  instead, i endured a long hour of wiggling, tired-but-not-tired-enough children while trying not to bang my head against a wall.  by the time i got out, all i could do was this:

and then, to add insult to injury, they fell asleep so late in the afternoon after all their nap fighting that i had to wake them up if i wanted any shot of getting them to bed at a decent hour tonight.  fortunately, my big woke up in a really great mood, and even obliged in letting me take a few shots of his silly little self.  it was a great reminder that a bad moment (or morning) doesn't have to define the day.

and there you have it.  the best of today.  i wish i'd been able to take more photos, but i'm grateful for what i did get, and for the turn around in our day.  i'm still praying for sunshine soon though :)