Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Special Bedtime Friends

Believe it or not, this is me as a baby. Don't you love those 70's colors! I am just turning one. My very first birthday. And my Grandma gave me a present that stayed with me until I got married. That furry pink monstrosity is Bow Wow. He was my Velveteen rabbit. He now sleeps in a box up in my Mom's attic, but he used to sleep with me every single night in my bed. He warded off nightmares (or at least put up a valiant effort). He made me feel loved, even through those tough teenage years where all the world forgets to love you. He is the only thing I know of that survived all my growing up - my only "baby" artifact. He is special. Girls love there "special" things. And so do my girls!
We emptied out Sara's crib for this little exercise. Let me remind you, she doesn't sleep in a normal spacey crib. We have her in a port-a-crib. So the space is limited and she takes most of it up herself. But she finds enough room somehow for all of the rest of this stuff. She usually has even more books in there. How can she sleep. Many of these things have to be in her crib. As we carry her to bed she will point to this or that toy or treasure that absolutely must spend the night with her. All four blankets must be ceremoniously draped over her at bedtime. Blue, the baby she is holding, is a MUST. And Sophie, the oldest of her babies who never seems to have clothes on - this picture is no exception, is almost always there too. These are Sara's special things. She is too little to have refined them down to her very favorites. For now she has to have it all and somehow gets a good night's sleep.
Katie has a few go-to cats. Meow, the black and white cat, was the first. She got it for her 2nd Christmas from her Aunt Meghan. She loved him immediately. I am still surprised his tail is still attached and he hasn't needed any TLC. Brownish, Meow's brother with the stripes, came a few years ago. She was so excited to see him in the store because he, "WAS MEOW'S BROTHER!" And that was a big deal. This year for Christmas she got baby Brownish in her stocking. Santa is so clever! Sugar is the grey cat on her lap. She is the most important. The vital friend in the bedtime routine. Kate absolutely can not go to sleep without her. She too was a Christmas present from Santa. Teresa is a doll I made for her last year. It has made me so happy that Kate loves her so much. Usually all of these treasured toys are in her bed at all times. Poor thing swears that she will have nightmares without Sugar!
Emily has never been one to sleep with a bunch of comfort friends. It has always just been Coco, her beloved brown bunny that is definitely worse for wear. She got him from her Grandma DeWitt for her very first Easter. Coco has been through a few restorative surgeries. And no amount of washing can make him look any snappier. He is permanently nappy. Coco still travels with her. She write stories about him too. She has adopted the two dolls this last year. Lisa, the one with blond hair is the doll I made for her. She made the other doll, Mary with her achievement day class through the church. Many years ago Emily was jealous of Chase's baby blanket which a friend of Grandma Wilcox had made for him. She wanted her own "special" blanket. So I made her one. Actually three special people were involved. I put together the blanket. Then it was mailed to her best friend Eliza's mom who embroidered her name on it. Then it was mailed off to Grandma DeWitt who sewed on the binding. I thinks it makes it extra special since so many loving hands were part of its creation. Now a days in addition to Coco and the blanket which are still in bed with her, there is always a book. She wanted to have me photograph the Peter and the Starcatchers series because it is her favorite. When I go up to tuck her in one last time before going to bed myself she frequently has a book over her face. She fell asleep reading and there it stayed (so uncomfortable).

These are my girls treasures. I can't wait to watch them grow older and see which treasured friends continue to be a part of their lives. Will Blue, Sugar and Coco stand the test of time. Will they finally be packed away when they head off to college? Will they make it all the way until marriage when my sweet girls find someone better to comfort them at night? Will they remember them fondly when they are 33?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bahamas...Oh Bahamas, We Will Never Forget You

We will never forget you that's for sure. There's no denying we loved your simplicity and laid back nature. Your beaches were lovely and the weather was warmer...BUT we would have really liked to avoid:

-Having our wallet stolen and losing our travel cash
-Having only one, single, solitary sunny day
-Getting super sea sick
-Issues with Scuba companies
-Snorkeling all over the place looking for signs of life
-Way too much time at the airport

And last but not least oh dear Bahamas...we really could have done better without...(you must read further - AHHH HAAA HAAAA - that's my evil nature, I'm going to make you endure the suspense laugh)

First of all, why do people take vacations. Sometimes they seem like so much more work and stress than just staying at home and experiencing day to day life. I might expect to be stressed if I traveled like some people (I'm calling you out Mom ;-). Always something to do, some place to see. I swear my parents had our family vacations planned down to the minute with the exception of two vacations. Thank goodness for Yosemite and the Italian Alps. But Dave and I are pretty easy going. We rarely schedule anything. We go with a place to stay a list of things we could do and then we go from there. Just a nice spontaneous, relaxing vacation. But I got home from this vacation feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation!
In spite of our plans to make this short little get away a breath of fresh warm air, we had a rough time. Who wants to come home from vacation and say they endured to the end and tried to find some good in it all?

Trouble started the minute (almost) that Dave's sister Sallie dropped us off at the airport. We were standing there trying to scan our boarding bar code looking like total dummies. First we tried the print out with the little bar code in it. Then we tried the confirmation number, next the passports then the credit cards...you catch the drift. TROUBLE. Finally Dave realized that we were trying to check in at the Delta kiosk instead of Jet Blue. After all that aggravation we weren't thinking all that clearly and didn't notice Dave's wallet sitting right there on the stand. (unfortunately we were oh-so-cool and used our passports for all the security checks and what not) It wasn't until we were boarding the plane and I asked Dave for two bucks to buy headsets that we noticed the wallet was missing. When I think about what might have been:

Us stuck in the Bahamas with no cash, credit cards, debit cards, bank....

Well we got the wallet back. Some wonderful good Samaritan had returned it. After he kindly removed all of our travel money! We didn't really need it, for sure it wouldn't be missed (sarcasm). What is that? A half way honest person. An, "I'm going to do half a good deed" kind of guy? So we got back the plastic but no cash! Then I endured a grumpy Dave on the long flight to better days.

We got to the Bahamas and a 30 minute taxi ride later we are at the Scuba shop signing in for Dave's dive. No way I'm swimming with sharks. Thank goodness I'm not certified. Dave really likes to experience cool things WITH people. You know, so you can reminisce together. Unfortunately for me he really wanted to experience this not-so-cool but super terrifying event in his life with someone too. Thank you rules and regulations. (I am having so much fun being sarcastic that the crazy trip seems more worth it now) So our rotten luck continued. Even though I have our confirmation print out in my hand, saying he is registered and payed to go. The good people there have no records showing Dave even exists. For who knows what reason they argue about this for several minutes (probably because they don't think they've been paid - we ended up paying again and will wait to see what the credit card statement shows) After they finally agree to write Dave in - how hard was that? They start to take issue with the fact that Dave hasn't been on a recent dive. Well -- I didn't have anymore patience. I know I am never great at these customer service head to heads. Even though I have a serious mean streak I am incapable of using it even in its smallest, "I'm just really going to get my way", form. So I point out to them that not only is this requirement to have a recent dive nowhere on their page's long list of rules when booking your dive that you must read and acknowledge, but that we called twice to make sure everything was good and ready. There was no way that Dave wasn't getting on that boat. Not when we came to this island only to do that and there was nothing else to do except big touristy stuff that we both hate! So we argue. For another 15 minutes. They are holding up the boat for us. I am totally flustered. At long last we get her to call her manager who agrees to let Dave go as long as he signs the liability waiver (that he is going to have to sign anyway). Why do people make things so complicated???
So off we go. I already know at this point that my leisurely boat ride in the sun was a bust. It is overcast and threatening to rain to say nothing of the wind. The poor boat is pitching and rolling and Dave, who gets sea sick, has just eaten a nice big lunch. Recipe for disaster. He got sick, really sick. The kind of sick where you loose all the color that a poor pasty Washington resident has mustered over the years. His eyes told it all. He went from being really excited to looking like this after his first of the two dives. In our 14 years together Dave has never thrown up. He would rather die I think...he came really close that afternoon.He was really excited about all the shraks he saw. There were dozens of them. He got brushed and bumped several times. And the poor guy feeding the sharks actually got bit!
In the end it was all good. He got off the boat and nearly collapsed on the dock. He lay there trying to recover as I looked at the pictures from his dive. Never have I been more grateful to not be scuba certified. I was terrified just looking at the pictures of Dave. He looks pretty terrified too. So even though there was no sun, and his stomach was doing the mambo I think he had a pretty good time.

The next day we headed to the hardly populated island of Eluthera. We rented a perfect little bungalow right on the beach.
That's it in the distance there nestled in the palm trees!
I was so excited! Best of all the sun was shining. It was a wonderful 80 degrees. We were on an island all to ourselves - or so it seemed. And I swear the people of Eluthera are the friendliest people I have ever met. There was the man that rented us our car without having us pay. (Apparently they are on a cash only system on the island and well...we were a little short on cash) He didn't want to strip us of the little cash we had. So he sent us on our way with a promise to pay him when we returned the car after visiting an ATM. Then there was the lady at the local grocery who let us return our milk after we had stoped by earlier to pick up some necessities for our bungalow and then driven 30 minutes to the bungalow only to realize too late that we couldn't check in until 4:00. It was 9:00. So back to the grocer we went with the strange request to put our milk back in the fridge. When we returned at 10:00 way after the shop closed we had no hopes of milk for our breakfast cereal. But there she was inside cleaning. She came to the door, let Dave in and we had milk. The lady we rented our snorkel gear from even came to work an hour early on the day we flew out so we could return our stuff and get our deposit back! Everyone waved, no one was pushy for tips, and it was really wonderful. We enjoyed a beautiful beach, some not-so-great snorkeling (we saw a conch- and that as about it) and then ate delicious food at a resort restaurant all by ourselves wishing we could see the sunset behind all those grey clouds that had rolled in.
That evening I took a bath (I miss baths! We haven't had a tub in our master bedroom ever.) It was second only to a hot tub which I wished they had but didn't. We opened all the sliding doors and fell asleep to the lulling sound of crashing waves right outside our door.

I set the alarm to awake with the sunrise. As I walked over to the window I knew we were not going to have a repeat of the day before. The sunrise was hidden behind a dense bank of clouds and it was raining. Sigh...what were we going to do all day stuck in our little house? We slept in, leisurely ate our cereal under the protection of the porch and then when the rain slowed to a drizzle we went for a walk on the beach. There was no waiting the weather out so we decided to make the most of it and off we went to visit the rest of the beaches on our list in hopes of better snorkeling than the day before. We were enamored with the pink sand beaches. At the end of the vacation it would all be worth it. It would be a really expensive (even though it was supposed to be quite affordable) trip to the Bahamas to collect pink sand for my sand collection. The snorkeling never did wow us. I can't believe how sterile the ocean was. Hardly a hint of life. We found a this nice sea star and others like them, some sand dollars a very few fish and this sting ray. It wasn't that bad, snorkenling in the rain. We were all wet anyway.
Then night came...and it was long and horrible. Here it is...THE NUMBER ONE THING WE COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT!

BED BUGS!!!!!!!!!

We tossed and turned all night. Then awoke to feeling like our skin was on fire. No amount of itching brought relief. I counted the bites on just one arm - 50! And it was equally bad everywhere else. I had a bite on my eye lid, bites on my ears, little buggies had crawled on my face and bitten me here and there. Every knuckle of my fingers. I had bites on top of bites. Even Dave who is pretty resistant to bug bite itchiness (is that a word?) was itching. I was writhing. I would endure one plane flight of trying to sit still and not look like a total freak only to disembark, run for the bathroom, strip and scratch until my whole body was red enough to looked sunburned only to get back on another plane. Once we got to the states the first order of business was to find an airport shop that carried Benadryl. I don't know if I have ever been more thankful for modern medicine. Once we got home we threw everything in the wash. If I could have boiled all of our stuff I would have. I was so grossed out. Then the paranoia set in as I read about the obnoxious critters on the Internet. Had I brought this vermin into my own bug free home? We didn't sleep on our own bed for three nights. Every morning I woke up freaking out as I tried to determine if a particular bite was new or just suddenly itchy. There were just so many bites it was hard to tell if one might be new. I am going to have permanent memories of our little Bahama trip. Many little scars from compulsive itching. I have just now relaxed. We are pretty certain we haven't brought any critters into our home, the bites are just now stopping to drive me crazy and soon my face will look more normal (I didn't go to church on Sunday - the bites were the real reason - but I was grateful for Sara's runny nose to give me cover)
So all in all it was great to get away from the kids. Even better to have some good one-on-one time with Dave. I am supper excited to add some new sand to our collection. The kids had a vacation of their own with Grandma and Aunt Sallie who were awesome to them. And as evidenced by this beautiful welcome home sign they made us, were actually happy to see us again. And I have just laughed through a very lengthy documentation about a trip that went awry and packed a punch but was all worth it in the end.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A New Calling - Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

I was blog hopping this morning. There are a million better things for me to be doing, but I am addicted to my computer. If I'm being honest, the Internet and I are involved in a sordid love affair - don't tell Dave. I have this new collection of blogs that I like to visit. They all deal with photography in one way or another. And I came across a video clip that had me bawling buckets of tears yet made me feel uplifted. Go figure right. It's because it spoke to me, like I have been looking for something all along and now I've found it.

Some back ground. I think most people know that I LOVE children. Sometimes it is easier to love others people children...but I truly have a deep love for little people. In general the littler they are the easier it is for me to fall head over heels. Every talent I have I feel relates to kiddos. I love teaching, I love playing, I love being silly (my kids will be shocked - don't tell them please). I went into teaching because I was a natural, I loved it and admittedly I knew that for me it would be easy (compared to nursing - that was my second choice). Every job I have ever had that I loved was about children. My favorite was Sunshine preschool. I LOVED that job. I still remember those kids names! My favorite place to serve in the Church is in the Primary. I am languishing in Relief Society (women) right now. And most of all I really, really LOVE being a Mom and the great blessing I have to stay at home with my four children. But in addition to all of that I have always felt this yearning to give back and serve. To share my talents, and love children that need it most. I have always thought some day that I would like to volunteer at a children's cancer center. Just doing everyday things like reading books, doing puppet shows, playing with play dough...just trying to uplift children who are having to deal with adult things while still in their childhood. I may still do that someday when my children are grown. But this new wonderful way to serve I could easily do NOW! (maybe I could volunteer now too...) and it goes hand in hand with my efforts to develop my photography talent.


It is an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I had never heard about them before. They are an organization of photographers and support people (assistants, editors etc...) that photograph babies with their last moments with their new families. It makes my heart ache to think that society sometimes tells parents to get over it and move on. Sometimes it seems like parents are encouraged to keep as little evidence as possible of that little life to "help" their own emotional healing. I know I don't speak from experience, but hypothetically speaking, I would want to be able to celebrate the life of my baby. It would be painful, but I would be grateful for that little slice of time to bond with my child. This organization helps parents get in touch with photographers to do just that. They come to the hospital to take photos of the family with their little one. I couldn't find information about fees...but I hope it is a free service. If not I will do it on my own without being a volunteer of NILMDTS.

I went straight away tho their website after watching the video on the blog I was on. It turns out there is some serious qualification stuff to deal with. First I have to get my website up and running. Then I apply and a board looks at my work to decide if I am good enough! I love it. They are sending real professional photographers to these aching families. I WANT TO BE PART OF THAT!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kate's First Story

In the dark, dark woods there was a flower and the flower had sunlight. But there was a dragon. And the dragon liked to eat flowers. The flower liked sun and the dragon liked dark. It was sunny so the dragon died. The flower was alive. The end.

Katie 4/13/2010 Age 5

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Last Weekend

If you are in anyway hungry for a little baby to warm your arms and heart. Do not scroll down this blog! In the past week I have gotten to hold and love two of the most handsome little boys ever! Little Baby S here was a mover and a shaker for sure. I turned to his Mom at one point and said, "did he wiggle like this in the womb?" He did not want to sleep...he wanted to go places!

One of the things I am really loving about having my own boutique photography studio for newborn photography is that I get to be with babies. I have to face it. My feisty two year is definitely no longer a baby. And I am pretty sure (there is a little wiggle room there) that I don't really want another. But babies just like kittens and puppies are irresistible. Now I don't have to miss the way they smell, there cottony soft skin and just being around there sweet innocence. I hope my clients don't mind that I fall in love with their little ones when they come to see me.

I have to enlist Dave's help in choosing the best, because I love so many. But here is Baby S, one handsome little man in the making!

Busy With Beautiful Babies

Well...this is what I've been up too. In the middle of company, holidays, school projects and all that fun stuff like laundry and shopping I've been snapping away! My wonderful girlfriend Sara Wilhelm let me mentor her during this shoot with one of her friends. Other than being super frustrated with my lens a couple of times I was happy with the experience. Little baby C is going to be one little handsome fellow. Have you ever seen eyebrows so perfect on a baby before?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's Called A Banana Split

Chase loves when Grandpa comes to visit. Inevitably there is always wrestling. And all though Chase is pretty scrappy, he still isn't strong enough to take Grandpa down. Grandpa got Chase in this invincible hold. We had lots of fun laughing. According to wrestler Dave (his previous life) it's called a banana split and always leads to a pin. I wonder how many more years until Chase is king of the wrestle tournaments.

Rain or Shine It's Tulip Time

I knew my Mom would love the Tulip festival. She is a budding photog herself. And there just isn't a prettier canvas than the Skagit county. We had sat through several rainy days already since she came to stay. We were all restless. So we decided rain or shine we would drive up and pray for better weather as we drove.

It did end up being a beautiful day. I was a truly horrible mother though. I loaded the kids up with movies, donuts, chocolate milk and pop tarts and made them wait in the while my Mom and I photographed the tulip fields. I let them out at Rosengarde Gardens to stretch their legs and regretted it mostly. I had just set loose four children with lots of pent up energy and a well manicured garden. Rosengarde I am sorry!

We finished off the day trying to make it up to the kids on Whidby island. You know shakes at Jack-in-the-box, and hour or so at the beach, spitting off the bridge at Deception Pass (no I don't condone the spitting...they do it anyway - I figured it's better than rocks).

This is one of my favorite pictures. I photographed him last year too. I actually asked him this year instead of just trying to get a picture as he walked by. I totally embarrased him. All the women in the field were laughing so hard. I think he is handsome...and he just happens to ALWAYS be the the one holding the cut flowers!


I am sitting here staring at a prescription for anti-depressant meds and thinking really, do I really have to take a drug to be happy? My wonderful husband, beautiful and mostly sweet children, a gorgeous house, my dream yard and lots of great opportunities...why don't they make me happy?

I have had this stupid prescription for a month. It sits there in my purse - a cruel reality check every time I go shopping (which is frequently...trying to be happy) that I am broken some how.

I have written and then deleted who knows how many posts about this cloud that hangs over my head constantly. Is it something that I should share. I go back and forth. I think, well, it is my journal - I need to write about it. And then I delete it because does the world need to know about it? Then I write it again, why should I be ashamed to let my friends and family know. And then I delete it again, because I don't want anybody to know.

I just want to cry all the time. Cry because I'm not happy. Cry for being unhappy when I should be happy. Cry because I might start taking a drug to make me "Fake" happy. Thinking about how much of a better mother I could have been makes me cry. Then there are the times when I thought my marriage was falling apart - where those real or exaggerated misperceptions caused by my brains inability to produce happy juice. And more crying because with all of my blessing I want to just stay in bed all day and sleep it all away. What a waste. My life is a waste.

I went to the doctor thinking I had thyroid problems and I came back knowing I had psychological problems. After that, I started thinking and remembering all the times I have brushed shoulders with knowing and turned around and ran. Way back in middle school, my teacher had me visit the school psychologist. I guess my poetry was too depressing. Several years back there was a trip to a counselor who instead of helping with the issues at hand couldn't get past her desire to focus on her belief that I was depressed. We never went back...I was so insulted. How dare she, she didn't know me at all. Then two years ago, a visit to the doc, she told me she thought I was depressed (I went in for my annual exam of all things). I laughed it off in a nervous chuckle of denial. I even talked with a friend about it in the park who did make me feel like depression wasn't leprosy...but still it wasn't me. Years passed and now here it is again. This time more concrete. Lots of tests were run and all I have to show for it is phantom unhappiness and a prescription for welbutran.

But I am outgoing. I love to have a good time. Can assertive party addicts be depressed?

Do I want to fill the prescription? If I do will I be on meds for the rest of my life? Will I be happy...knowing I am faking it, not just with my fabulous acting skills anymore, but chemically.

Anyway this time I am going to publish this dumb post. I think my children should know someday when they are reading this back that I wanted to be a better person. But I am broken. And for right now I am too scared to do anything about it.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Golden Egg Drama - Swiper Strikes

This was the scene that laid out before us as we waited for the kids to find the Golden Egg (very special egg with $5.00 in it). We have been hiding a golden egg for the kids every Easter for the last 8 or so years. The kids love it. And they hunt like wild animals for it.

This year we bought the kids a play structure. We didn't have time enough or good enough weather to assemble it before our Easter hunt. So I thought a great place to hide this years golden egg would be under the tarp hiding the play structure boxes. We left the slide on top of the tarp to draw the kids curiosity. Can you believe that those crazy kids were so focused on finding the egg that they never even thought to look under the tarp. They walked all around it for several minutes. Even touched the slide and never said a word...

Finally as the rain started to come down we hinted that maybe they should check over by the tarp. Chase sped over and lifted it up but didn't notice the egg. Kate who was a few feet away saw it and ran right over to it. Poor Chase realized his blunder and did an amazing, body sacrificing, award worthy swan dive in towards the site trying to swipe it away at the last minute.

I love the look on Katie's face. She had just been robbed. The look of, "did you see what just happened to me" is priceless.

Of course Chase had to relinquish his stolen treasure. What a stinker he is.

The Easter Bunny

What do you do with four active kids home for Spring Break on a VERY rainy Easter?

You borrow bunnies and do a photo shoot!

And then you listen to four very persistent children beg for bunnies for the next few hours...or days...