Posts Tagged ‘life’

Things I Am Giving Up And Things I Am Not

Monday, December 4th, 2017

So here’s the thing: I am not a quitter. I have kept up my 365 project for 3 full years now, and I plan to do it again next year. I’ve been trying to catch up on laundry since 2008 and I haven’t given up on that even though I’m pretty sure it’s hopeless. And I made it through 362 weeks (that’s almost 7 years) of iPhone photos. But I don’t think I’m going to catch up. My phone isn’t making it easy to move my photos, the program I use to resize them isn’t recognizing the folders, and the amount of work it takes to get it all together just doesn’t fit in my schedule anymore. I’ve also completely failed to take photos with my phone several days in the past few weeks because if it’s in my hand the baby tries to steal it and if it’s in my purse I’m not taking pictures. No matter how many times I SAY I’m not going to stop, I think it’s time to admit I’m done.

That doesn’t mean I’m letting the blog die. I’m going to go back to more life-documenting with my real camera. I take photos literally every day for my 365 but haven’t been sharing them here. In 2018, the plan is a weekly/bi-weekly post of those pictures, so I have all my projects (years of pregnancy, baby and kid stories, adventures and thoughts +daily life photo documentation) in one place. I’m just working on not letting myself feel like a failure over something as stupid as blog posts, so I feel like making an announcement that I am quitting officially will help.

Besides letting my iPhoneography slip, I’ve actually been holding things together pretty well. Mostly.There was a day last week where I got off the phone from discussing one of the many adult problems I am currently juggling and I briefly considering just canceling everything. Like, just not doing any of it. Not taking the babies to their doctor’s appointment, not calling the plumber, not doing the dishes, not moving the laundry to the dryer, not taking Caroline to ballet, not putting Lincoln on the bus to school, not making dinner, not taking a picture, not changing the dog’s foot bandage, not taking out the trash…nothing. LIFE IS CANCELED.

Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. None of those things go away and dealing with the consequences of not doing them is going to be more annoying than just doing them. Plus my four small humans don’t let me get away with skipping meals or bedtimes or activities they want to go to. It’s good, really. If I didn’t have all these kids I might let myself slip slowly – instead of just wearing my slippers to the bus stop, I might not leave the house at all. Instead of having a fun day baking with the kids and then eating a handful of mints, I might sit on the couch and eat a pint of ice cream every night. Instead of spending maybe probably definitely too much on presents to make this Christmas extra magical, I might let the sadness of missing E this month overwhelm me.

Speaking of E, I finally had a chance to talk to my husband over Thanksgiving. It was such a relief. Even if we don’t get him back for a lot longer, being able to update him on everything that’s been going on and let him know that we’re OK.

And we are. Ok, I mean. Operation Keep Them Busy has been a raging success. December is officially here and we have plans almost every single day. We kicked off the month with the train to the North Pole followed by a day of holiday fun in Mystic. We haven’t been to the aquarium in a couple months and Finnegan was REALLY into it. We’ll be headed back soon so he can run around squealing at the fishes.

Oh and we saw Elsa. Caroline and Linc were in heaven.

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Deployment Milestones: A Brief List

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

A few of the deployment milestones we’ve reached since August:

  1. The day of.
  2. When you wake up the morning after and realize this is just the FIRST DAY.
  3. The moment you get caught up on laundry and put away your spouse’s last item of clothing.
  4. What feels like the first major crisis.
  5. The first time some service person says “Well, talk it over with your husband…” and you say “Well, actually he’s deployed so I’ll probably just decide on my own because I haven’t heard from him and I’m not exactly sure when I will and things are complicated so…”
  6. A holiday.
  7. The first REAL major crisis.
  8. When you finally get an email.
  9. The first time some service person says “Well, talk it over with your husband…” and you say “No, it’s just me”.
  10. The first trip to urgent care.
  11. That moment when you make a big financial decision you wouldn’t usually dream of making alone.
  12. First major crying breakdown.
  13. The first OMG WHAT am I even going to do major crisis.
  14. When some service person says “Well, talk it over with your husband…” and you just say “OK” because it’s easier.
  15.  Doing something you hate and usually your spouse would do but that’s not an option.
  16.  Using your power of attorney.
  17. Losing 10 lbs because being on a diet is easier alone.
  18. Completely throwing your diet out the window because being alone is horrible.
  19. When you wake up one morning and realize this is totally normal now.
  20. HALFWAY.

We’re not at that last one yet, but it’s getting closer every day.

 

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I’m Totally Fine Except When I’m A Mess

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Ways in which I am totally, completely, 100% keeping it together:

  1. I’ve taken the trash and recycling out in time every week so far.
  2. I’m almost caught up on laundry and dishes (as much as it’s really possible to be with a house full of children to clothe and feed).
  3. I cleaned the bathroom floor on my hands and knees with a sponge.
  4. I scrubbed out the sink with lots of chemicals, so it’s nice and white.
  5. I dropped off the bin of clothes and the baby swing at the consignment shop.
  6. All the Halloween decorations are up!
  7. I made an important but unpleasant phone call, like a grown up does.
  8. I have a photo session scheduled for Saturday, complete with a contract, childcare, and a fun new location.
  9. I stopped eating a pint of ice cream every night and I’ve lost five pounds.
  10. All four children were washed with soap and water last night.

 

Ways in which I am completely, unquestionably, 100% falling apart:

  1. The dog has a broken nail and even though I keep cleaning it and wrapping it I’m pretty sure he’s going to need very expensive vet treatment.
  2. I have a huge stack of school papers I haven’t even read yet, half of which needed to be signed and sent back last week.
  3. I have a huge bruise from walking into a parking sign, a ripped toenail from tripping on the carpet, and a painful cut on my elbow that is of mysterious origin.
  4. Evan and Caroline are both now signed up for super expensive activities and I don’t actually know how I’m going to pay for it.
  5. I forgot to order groceries so the kids will be eating PB&J for dinner again.
  6. The light in the upstairs hallway burned out and I cannot figure out how to take the cover off to replace the bulb.
  7. The tires for the snow blower are at a tire shop somewhere. I haven’t figured out where or gone to get them.
  8. The lawn is a disaster.
  9. I haven’t drunk a single thing that didn’t contain caffeine in weeks.
  10. I spend far too much time fighting with jerks on the internet because I need somewhere to direct my frustration.
  11. Every bedroom in the house is a mess.
  12. I saw a mouse the other day but haven’t caught any mice in the mouse traps so there is still a mouse somewhere.
  13. I’ve planned to go for walks/get coffee/have playdates/get together with at least a dozen friends and not followed through or shown up for any of them.
  14. I forgot to meet the bus at the corner yesterday.
  15. The baby chewed through my computer cord, like he’s a rabid animal.

So right now the mess side is definitely winning. If I can hold it together until Sunday I can move some of my to-dos to the finished column and slowly, s l o w l y, slowly maybe shift the balance over so I don’t feel like I’m slipping into chaos. It’s going to mean saying no to some stuff I don’t want to say no to, being a little more patient with my children who cannot seem to remember simple things like “wash the shampoo out BEFORE turning off the shower”, and maybe drinking a bottle of water every once in a while.

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My Week(350) in iPhone Photos

Friday, August 11th, 2017

I HAVE LIGHTS IN MY KITCHEN THAT WORK. They’re actually insanely bright, daylight bulbs and I want to just live in my kitchen now. I mean, except for the fact that it’s filthy and the walls aren’t finished. BUT, LIGHTS!

Sunday:

Mystic family time

Miniature figure heads

This puzzle is really hard

Monday:

Mommy, take my picture

Finn wanted a picture too

Shirts for the book themed birthday party!

Tuesday:

Rainy day seaport camp drop off

Wednesday:

Batman on a dog sled

Super into his ice cream

CLAM STRIP APPRECIATION CLUB MEETING

Thursday:

Basically my life in one photo

Climbing the rigging!

Friday:

“Moby Dik”, obviously

Out walking again

Saturday:

Hemming my husband’s uniform pants, like a good wife in 1950.

Nature center collection

Even more walking

I have one more week to get my life and house together before Linc and Finn’s birthday party. I can only do that once the sheetrock gets out of my dining room. Pray for me.

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My Photographic Eye

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

I read an incredibly interesting article the other day that analyzed the photos Melania Trump has posted publicly on her Twitter account.

(No this isn’t a political post. Yes, the article was pretty critical of Melania. Yes, I agreed with it. No, I don’t want to have a political discussion here.)

If you look beyond the actual subject of that post, the idea of learning how someone sees the world from how they capture it is fascinating. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a photographer, any time you stop long enough to take a picture you’re saying “This is how I see things, this is a moment I want to be preserved, this is my reality as I want it to be presented.” In this era of social media, photos are even more performative – you can crop or filter so your friends (or strangers) can see what you want them to see. You are making a lot of choices, whether they are conscious or not, and looking at those choices can be eye-opening.

Because I’ve been doing a 365 photo-a-day project for three years now, I have hundreds of everyday life photos to look at and analyze for patterns. Once I started thinking about my pictures (many of them not more than snapshots) as a body of work versus just individual photos, it became super clear that my photographic eye says a lot about what I value, what I want the world to see, and what I want to remember.

The most obvious fact about my photos is they are almost all of my children. I almost never photograph myself. I could make a list of my excuses for that, or I could look at it more analytically. My appearance in the photographic record isn’t a priority for me. I don’t want to remember what I looked like during these years. My body doesn’t need to take up space in the frame. It’s incredibly important to me that I witness my children’s lives, but not necessarily as a participant in their activities. This feels both sort of uncomfortable for me (I don’t want to be distant or emotionally separate) and accurate (I’m much more free-range than helicopter mom).  Also, from a practical standpoint, my live as a stay-at-home-mom revolves around my children, so obviously my work shows that.

The next pattern I saw right away is my love of capturing a small body in a big frame. I’ve chosen my equipment (mostly a 35mm lens) so I can focus on my subject while also including a lot of their environment.

When I think about how I framed these photos, I intentionally avoided other people in the frame (unless they were also my children) to make my subject stand out. I didn’t try to blur or compress the environment to the point where you couldn’t identify it – WHERE is an important part of the story. I took photos like these in every season, at home and away, with my subject aware of me and not. Children are small and the world is big. I want my kids to be confident and bold when faced with big things, unafraid of the world, so they remain the focus even though the environment could overpower them.

Another fairly obvious trend in my pictures is that I center my subjects.

 

There they are, right in the middle of the frame. The main focus. There is balance in this composition, and something very calming about a photo that tells you exactly what it’s about. It’s easy. When I think about these photos, I often took them during challenging times, when I didn’t have the energy to devote to seeing something artistic or unusual. Simplicity is something I often value.

Something I was actually surprised to see was my love of taking a photo from behind my subject. I think of my work as being full of faces, so I wasn’t expecting so many of these.

 

These photos are about seeing what my children see, looking at the world from their point of view. I often crouch down, sit on the floor, get low so I can capture their perspective. I want to learn about what catches their eye, what THEY view as important or noteworthy. I’m following along as they direct the show, ready to be supportive but not interferring. Without the emotion of their face, you have to infer feeling from their body language. When you’re raising kids, this feels true in everyday life as well; they often don’t – or can’t – tell you what they’re feeling, so you’re left to interpret what they need.

Something there is slightly less of but still often featured is taking photos of small pieces of my small people.

Fingers, toes, hair, eyes, hands. I love them. They are soft and unlined, a perfect example of how children are unbothered by the realities of life or age. The same way an elderly person’s hand speak to their lived experience, a child’s hands show innocence. Their eyes are clear and open, unguarded. They also are little pieces of where they come from – Caroline’s red hair comes from her father, Linc’s blue eyes are from me. These photos are more personal than any of the others. I do have to be physically close my children to take them, even if the small bodies are in motion and I have to be quick. They capture something so very fleeting – the split second before those feet grow bigger, run faster, carry the children away.

And finally, my neverending love of taking pictures of my kids while they sleep.

The sleeping photos fall into almost all of the previous categories – sometimes up close, sometimes lots of environment, etc – but I took them because of the sleeping so it deserved its own analysis. Children are loud and busy, capturing them at their most quiet and still is a treasure. While they are vulnerable, I watch over them. They feel safe in their home and with their family, which is why they so often fall asleep in places other than their own beds. Our home is comfortable, even if it’s not always magazine-worthy, with plenty of places to take a nap when you need it.

I really loved this exercise for myself, even if putting my emotions and inner thoughts into words was difficult. I appreciate my photographs more and I’m thrilled this record will exist (as a reminder, print your photos! I have both 2015 and 2016 books as hard copies of many of these, the rest are from 2017 and will go in a book in January).

Are there any trends you can recognize in your own photographic record? Go look at your Instagram feed or Facebook photos and see if there are patterns or constants that emerge. Or you can take some of this analysis and use it to inspire your own pictures. I’m definitely going to make an effort to take at least one self-portrait this spring.

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