September Trip to Orange Beach

The 3.5 children and I took our annual trip to Orange Beach at the beginning of September. It wasn’t exactly a vacation, and perhaps traveling as the solo parent while pregnant was a little bit ambitious. All four of us got sick while we were there (ear infections and bad coughs), and I barely slept at all between the three sick little ones waking me up. I missed David’s help at bedtime, and at 5:30 AM when the little ones start to stir. But after having a few weeks to recoup and actually sleep more than 2 hours without disturbance, I am feeling more grateful for our time together. Most importantly, Dmitri, Damon, and Eleanor loved the beach. The sand, the ocean, the pool, going on adventures, seeing family- they loved all of it. And I know they hold tight to those memories. At the end of it all, Damon said, “Mama, you are the best mom ever because you took us to the beach.” For that, I am thankful. It was a lovely, albeit exhausting, way to celebrate the end of summer, and now we are fully embracing fall.

And maybe one day my idea of a beach vacation will happen, and I will be sad and missing these busy little ones!

A note about being a photographer and a parent at the same time: I have a little rule about traveling with my camera – I generally choose one day to bring the camera with me. I get the photos that I want to document our trip. And then I enjoy being present, hands-free and able to experience life with my arms wide-open with my three favorites, and the camera stays in the bag the rest of the time. I’ve done this on several trips, and it has worked really well. For shorter day trips and outings, I set a time limit on how long I will take photos, and then I put the camera away. I never want my family to feel like I am too busy being a photographer to be a parent. And that means, for me and my family, having boundaries. We are all much happier for it.

The photo of me is my first pregnancy photo with baby # 4. You know it’s your fourth baby when you wait until 21 weeks to actually get a photo. Baby bump continues to grow, and I’m feeling pretty pregnant these days. I am excited about meeting this baby! Less than four months to go!

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Mother’s Day.

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Today was not a perfect Mother’s Day. No, it was pretty crappy. It reminded me of how unappreciated I can feel sometimes, and I’m sure having some expectation of having a day about me did not help this at all. People bragging about their picture perfect Facebook lives, with their selfless husbands and adoring children ….nope, I’m sitting out on that today. But today, despite all of the imperfections, I am reminded that I have a choice. I could feel sorry for myself (and, I do just a little bit), or I can reflect and focus on the beautiful parts of my life that I am so thankful for. Like the three healthy, beautiful, funny children that give me a reason to participate in this holiday. I am so incredibly lucky to be their mother every day. Or the delicious poutine and chicken and waffle club that I ate at The World Famous today that made a very close second on the gratitude scale today. I’m also thankful for my own mama, who has been my teacher (did you know I was homeschooled?), my friend, and frequently did the duty of two parents throughout my life. These are the reasons I’m celebrating this holiday anyways…not because it’s a day to do the trivial little things that I want.

Yes, today was not the day that I envisioned. And I’m giving all of my feelings a little bit of their own room. But mostly, I’m going to bed tonight choosing thankfulness, gratitude, and joy.

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Mama is the Easter Bunny

We had a very enjoyable Easter that was filled with some of my favorite Easter-y things. I’m thankful for being able to spend it with family – my three littles sure love their cousins. We are lucky enough to have quite a few cousins very close in age! (As of the end of this fall, there will be 9 children 5 and under on David’s side of the family).

David and I did not grow up with Santa and the Easter Bunny, and so we have not passed on these traditions to our own children. In spite of this, our children are completely obsessed with Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the latest fascination- the tooth fairy. (We just had the “Is the tooth fairy real” talk last week). I don’t want to disappoint or hurt their feelings, so I don’t ever actually say that any of these mythical holiday figures “aren’t real,” but instead offer that “it’s a pretend game we play.” They are very adept at pretend play, and often I cannot gauge the extent of their understanding when it comes to holiday existentialism.

This year, Dmitri and Damon were unusually excited about Easter. They have been counting down for weeks, and the anticipation has closely rivaled Christmas. They informed me weeks ago that they would be receiving presents from the Easter Bunny in their baskets, and they have spent countless hours wondering what the bunny will bring (hop-fully, a “weed eater and a real rocket ship”). On Easter Eve, they were flipping, head-standing, and donkey kicking at bedtime, and in exasperation I resorted to saying, “The Easter Bunny cannot come until we go to sleep.” They immediately snuggled under the covers and tried to lay still. They both smiled at me and Damon said, “Mama, you are the Easter Bunny!”

This fact has only made the holiday more fun and magical, for all of us. I like getting a little credit for the effort I put into a holiday. Why yes, I AM the Easter Bunny. And they love that they think their very own mother is, in fact, the Easter Bunny. Not taking my job lightly, I left a labyrinth of jelly beans through the house for them to follow to their baskets, which I fill primarily with art supplies (thanks to Treehouse Kid & Craft!). They were thrilled- and who doesn’t love eating jelly beans off of the floor for breakfast?

I cannot wait for Christmas, when I get to be an elf.

And here, are some photos of our Easter fun.

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