Friday, July 31, 2009

on apply dapply, mr. pricklepin and the love of books

disclaimer: once and awhile, i will appoint myself an expert on something. i will then pretend to be the obi wan of said subject, throw caution to the wind and let passion override as i wax on...and on...and on. 'tis one of those once-and-awhiles. it began as a trip to the library yesterday and ended in a dissertation on children's literature. forgive me. i didn't realize these emotions existed so strongly until i started writing.

a dissertation on children's literature.

i have a confession.

i went into teaching mostly because i wanted to read books aloud to kids everyday.

it paid more than the story lady at barnes & noble, and i ignorantly didn't realize until i got my first job that there's other stuff you kind of have to do in your classroom besides read aloud to your kids all day. like prepping them for fcat. and math. uuugh.

which is not to say i didn't stretch my after-lunch read-aloud session as long as i could...always pretending to hesitate when the kids begged me to read another chapter after i finished one...even going to the extreme of taking off my glasses, nestling a bookmark where we left off and closing the crinkly pages...almost completely...until i'd smile, reopen...and continue reading.

"chapter fourteen..."

...and the students would all breathe a sigh of relief, lying their sweaty back-from-recess heads again to their desks for another relaxing entrancing if they'd won the battle when really i was fully intending to continue reading the entire time. because i loved it.

i fell in love with children's books long ago...from the first time the boxcar children was read to, take that was little bear and huddling in a corner in a tawas, michigan cabin on vacation, studying it over and over, all by myself, until i realized--i could read every word on my own. and i've always been driven to the children's section over the adults, although sometimes embarrassed to admit it. teaching research, i told myself.

i fell in love all over again when i took children's lit in college and found myself drooling in my uncomfortable desk chair in the little classroom in the basement of the whiteman-gibbs science center, completely bewitched listening to mr. esterline, a very dapper gray-haired retired teacher who wore argyle vests and crisp khakis, charismatically yet calmly bring to life the words of dr. suess' hooray for diffendendoofer day. he had a bit of a spitty lisp, but it totally worked to his advantage as the p's and the d's and the k's came out so tart.

i too can read like mr. esterline, i thought. i too can spit my k's and p's.

then came my obsession with the books themselves. some read aloud better than others, you know. and not just for the choice and arrangement of words. there's lots to consider. the kind of paper the pages are made out of. how well they lift and turn when you lick your finger and grab the corner. how old they are. how heavy the covers are (paper? pshaw. must be hardback). and the epitome of a good read-aloud: a library hammy-down. for it, the holy grail, the golden chalice of a meant-to-be-read-aloud piece of literature not only has an old plastic overlay that crinkles just so, but the pages are soaked with the essence of library. the perfume of all the years it spent nestled between other books, gathering scents of old leather, worn paper, printed ink. and the stories these books hold from the houses they went home to...i wonder, how many children did these books entertain on a cold snow-day home from school? how many moms' potroast scents did their bindings pick up while their pages were being turned on an idle sunday afternoon? how many children learned the lesson of guilt and responsibility when they finally gained the courage to face the librarian with their long-overdue book and handful of late-fee change from keeping it too long?

and then the words. oh, the words. some lending their stoires to be read with great character voices; others dripping with captivating onomatopoeia and smooth alliteration. the title alone of beatrix potter's the tale of the pie and the patty-pan.'s witchcraft. and while i'm on the beatrix potter path, let me just say her imaginative names for characters and the way their sounds roll off your tongue make me wish i could have shared a waffle or two over coffee with her...apply dapply, mr. pricklepin, diggory delvet, mrs. tiggy-winkle, cecily parsley, jemima puddle-duck. it's no wonder with an imagination like that, she was a literary genius.

i find myself getting frustrated sometimes when lainey's shortened attention span wants to turn pages prematurely and point to frogs and yellow things when i'm trying to do a good mole impersonation from wind and the willows or teach her a love of adjectives from the way i annunciate the description of the flowering meadow. oh, how i yearn for the day she will let me read, without interruption, the words of wind and the willows from the gold-rimmed indian paper pages of the hard bound little book i bought when she was just a newborn with this very dream in mind:

(copyright material from kenneth grahame's the wind and the willows)

hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along hedgerows, across the copses, finding everwhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting--everything happy, and progressive, and occupied...he thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. never in his life had he seen a river before--this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. all was a-shake and a-shiver--glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble.

now if all children's books were written like that, perhaps we would have a whole broad of writers on hand for our next generation. i so want lainey to learn and use words like aimlessly and sinuous and meandered and to be challenged by the old writers as well as be entertained by the new.

illustrations, of course, are a bonus, but i am highly critical. i remember both my mom and dad getting excited about illustrators when we were young and, to this day, my mom searches goodwills for vintage copies of out-of-print illustrated favorites--eloise wilkin taking the grand prize with her simple representation of cherubic cheeks, pink pinafores, mary janes and bobby socks...

...and the japanese illustrator, komako sakai, whose book emily's balloon holds lainey's attention before nap for the entire story with no premature page turning, thank you. that is, of course, because the balloon is yellow, yellow is her favorite color, and there is a picture of emily going to sleep with her yellow balloon adorned in a nightcap snuggled next to her which lainey thinks is very funny indeed.

and, not that you asked...but while i'm on it, my favorite illustrators...

mike wimmer...the illustrator of my favorite children's book of all time, all the places to love. if you don't have it, you must, must get it if not just for the very first illustration of a new mama under a detailed quilt in an old farmhouse holding her babe...

and jim lamarche...the way he creates light and the illustrator of the rainbabies, another favorite...completely imaginative and so well-illustrated. lainey loves the tiny babies in it and reaches her hands out to hold them every time.

and finally...any brambly hedge book which, after reading...i promise, you will want to be a mouse and live in a tree. (may i suggest the secret staircase or winter story). not to mention, these books are available in hardback mini size...and mini is always good.

(oh, and can't leave out cynthia rylant's let's go home: the wonderful things about a house.)

with all that said, we went to the library yesterday, and while we love to frequent it, our trips are a little more spaced out than i like. then makes them very special when we go. our library, although beautiful, is very new and very nicely built, nothing like the true character of a real library...the old ones. my most favorite library was one my mom used to take us to every couple weeks when we were homeschooled. taymouth township library it was called, just over the railroad tracks in the little town of burt, michigan. the same railroad tracks i remember my sister getting stuck on when she was learning to drive a stick-shift. so stuck, she cried until my mom had to switch seats with her and get us over the track-covered hump lest we died in a fiery crash.

the taymouth township library was an old house turned into a garden of books where the floor creaked under the worn carpet. there were hidden nooks and cubbies, beanbags on the floor, lamps in corners, and lots of places to get lost in the quiet of a good book. i imagine it's still there today and i'm sure they still use the old card catalogue and hand stamp due dates onto index cards that slide into little paper gloves. yes, that was a real library (much like a real bookstore...say the fictional the shop around the corner from you've got mail, a far cry from the monopolized borders and such).

so yesterday we read. we meandered down aisles of colored-binded treasures and pulled out random ones that we read in big rocking chairs and little cushioned benches.

and i smiled as she ran her little painted fingers along the old pages of books that were far too old for her.

someday i will read these to her in a dark lamp-lit room while she's snuggled under quilts falling asleep to the words of anne of green gables or betsy-tacey and tib. i hope it lasts far through middle school.

for now, we have our growing collection of hardback treasures...

while she has her own accessible shelves stocked with board books and tough picture books, sturdy enough to weather her wear and tear, this high shelf of valued hard-backs is for special times...books chosen to be read on mom or dad's lap...and she already knows they're special and brings them to me to put back if they ever get left out. i inscribe as many as i can..."to my children," i write...and i share why i love the book and where and when we got it...some of them written in far before brett & i even met.

so there. a dissertation on children's literature. from the simplicity of dr. suess to the complexity of wind and the's all beautiful.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

moving on.

i have been doing a whole lotta this lately...

and not so much that i am incapable of ungluing myself off the couch, but more so that i am listening to my body...and brett who tells me to chill out and lie down.

this was, of course, achieved with the great help of my best friend heidi who, upon last week's little scare, booked a ticket to come down from michigan to stay with me this week...even though i assured her i was fine. it actually worked out grand as i was not bedridden but rather free to enjoy four days of a teenage sleepover times ten.

we did nothing but drench ourselves in the lazy pleasures of home. we watched movies. we stayed up late. we laid in bed talking about babies and holidays and all the things we wanted to do in life. brett even gave up his spot in bed for some nice quiet nights in the boys' room while we girl-gabbed and fell asleep to the sound of chick flicks...and lainey snuggled between us.

and heidi cooked every night...sausage and perogies with cabbage, homemade lasagna, lentil soup...

...except i did chip in for a cherry pie...

...that looked like butt (multiplied by the ugly glow of the oven light) when it was finished because i didn't have enough pie dough for a proper fluted edge. that and i wasted it on cherry doo-dads for the top...which, if i had to choose between a proper flute and doo-dads, i'd skip the flute again.

bottom line soul is rejuvinated to effervescent proportions thanks to four days of friendship and truly being able to relax...with no guilt.

and in photography world...
picking up some more work after trying to take a break...and beginning to map out the holiday schedule. searching for some new locations and super excited about a rigged bridal practice shoot coming up with a borrowed designer dress and a gorgeous model...more to come.
in the meantime, i'm working on some new products to offer this holiday, a new affordable album...and have finally splurged on a bunch of packaging materials as i'm a sucker for pretty packaging. i always love when people share their finds and am all about payin' it forward. so, to anyone who's into packaging for whatever reason, i found wonderful boxes available in a trillion sizes (including a shallow one just bigger than an 8x10 to package 8x10s, any smaller prints and cards/announcements) and several colors from this company. after looking at several photography packaging companies, i found this regular box place and was very happy with the quality--uber thick, stiff and a nice glossy black. then to joanns and walmart where i filled my cart with fun ribbons and damask print tissue paper. tie on business card and...voila. something a bit more professional to hand to clients.

and saving the best for last...

something happened. her loveliness just multiplied into fireworks, and i am daily amazed at this girl who happens to be mine.

she talks. finally. like crazy talks. things like...

let's go, mom.
i wanna eat.
i did it.
no nap, please.
that's yellow, mom. (she spots anything yellow).
i love you, gaga.
help, please (a long time coming after numerous fits from getting her head stuck in arm holes from all the clothes she sneaks off to try on during the day).

...and repeats anything and everything we want her to say. and don't want her to say.
my dad reminded me the other day that lainey's way of doing things has always been to wait...figure it out in her head...perfect it...but dare not show anyone what she's capable of until she knows she can do it right. like my late walker who practically moonwalked when she finally gave us her first steps. and pottytraining. and talking. when she does somethin''s gunna be all the way. go big or go home, right?

she doesn't watch t.v. we don't really care and don't make a big deal about it, but she's never been interested except clifford in the car, watching football with brett in the fall, or catching a song/dance/musical number from the oompa loompas. however, she has, two days in a row, become entranced with the martha stewart show. she sat in this chair intently taking in how to make a great rissoto and cut tissue paper into flowers. i love it.

and in true lainey style, she will probably stew over this for quite some time until we come home one day to find a world-class rissoto dinner garnished with a vase of tissue paper flowers from our girl.

and then there's the fact that she can take a shower, wash her own hair, dry herself...all by herself. won't let us help her even if we wanted to. literally, from the time she walks into the shower to drying off and putting her clothes on, it's all done by her and her alone. i don't know when this all happened. ...but i am amazed.

finally...she is officially in love with the dogs and spends a good few hours a day playing by herself with them. she'll carry latte like a baby for over half an hour at a time and does it so gently. the so gently part isn't exactly observed when she later shoves her into a small purse, totes her around the house and violently crams her head back in the hole lest she attempts to, god forbid, come up for air.

but mostly, it's so gently.

i always knew i wanted my kids to grow up with dogs, but it took a long time coming for their love-hate relationship to blossom into something less volatile. now, it's purely precious.

at least once a day, she takes latte into her bedroom, shuts the door and stays in there for a good fifteen minutes. she gets mad when we peek in on her but, from the times we have, she's sitting on the floor reading books to a dog who has obviously been forced to sit in a small rocking chair...and knows, for her own good, not to budge.

and latte always totes along with lainey for all our bike rides.

speaking of, brett called from the garage tonight to see if i wanted to go for a bike ride.
i hollered back, "i'm already in my jammies!"
and smarty girl ran in, grabbed my hand, dragged me into the bedroom where she whipped open my drawer and handed me a pair of jeans. on her own. without a word. like i said....amazed.

so we rode our bikes in the dark and the air was cool and smelled like barbecue smoke. and i purposely steered my tires into every puddle i could find from the heavy rain this afternoon...and the cold spray it splattered over my flip-flops felt good. like summer. i haven't exactly enjoyed this summer like i thought i was going to, but it has been every bit as wonderful in a different way. i will paint our bedroom. have a cook-out. rearrange the living room. but not today.

hey, i made a cherry pie. that's pretty good.

(oh, and for the record...i drove heidi to the airport at 6am this morning going 70 on i 75 with a bag over my head throwing up...all simultaneously. hello, mother of the year. i want my trophy.)

(hey look...the daddy!)

...enjoying the small things. ~k

oh, and i have to say once again...thank you for your comments, e-mails, calls on the last post. wow. i love you little blog readers, and have never been so comforted by not only new friends, old friends, family...but by strangers. that aren't really strangers. thank you, thank you, my friends. everything is good...and we are graduating to pants with stretchy panels. oh, yay.

Friday, July 24, 2009


i sit here at a blank screen amid a quiet house trying to gather some worthy collection of words to express as much of a wrung-out heart my worn-out body can muster. and all i have are tears.
and a title. a title with an all-consuming force that has embraced our family once again. i am humbled and amazed at this little and i am beginning to think i have some sort of hyper-sensitive love-receptive genes--perhaps the "goodness glands" my grandpa used to hold us down and tickle us to find...until he landed on our knees where he would squeeze. "there they are," he'd say..."your goodness glands." and i really believed we were special. because we had 'em.

oh, i love love. and when i find it lavishly bestowed on us, i am awed at how we are so blessed when so many in the world are searching for it. and i am honored...honored and consumed with gratitude in the form of cryderman sappiness, excessive wordiness, and this blogtastic over-the-top need to proclaim...thank you.

i've been alone with lainey this week as brett is out of town on business. and we were enjoying a normal week anticipating his arrival home until early thursday morning.

i woke up at two a.m. to wet sheets. my pajamas were soaked. and after a bit of confusion and telling myself that thirty-year-olds don't exactly wet their beds, i got up and headed to the bathroom.

to find blood. blood on me. blood all over the floor. and a flashback to the day our last pregnancy ended. in the dim glow of the night-light, i fell to the floor and cried. cried like i never have before and begged God to not let this be happening. i fumbled for my phone and shook as i dialed as many numbers as i could. i couldn't get ahold of brett. or my sister. of anyone i randomly dialed. until my friend carie calmly answered and assured me she'd be there in minutes to take me to the hospital.

and she was. joined by laura who kissed my sleeping baby in her arms for almost four hours in an uncomfortable waiting room chair while carie and i waited in a little room behind a light blue curtain for a litle hope that i almost lost.

at 4:30, an ultrasound tech arrived to wheel my bed down long, empty corridors to a dark room where he closed the door and put warm jelly on my stomach. he turned the screen so i couldn't see. i cried. "can you just tell me if there's a heartbeat? can you please tell me if the baby's okay?" i asked. and he apoligized and said he can't tell me anything. that i'd have to wait for the doctor to read it. i cried some more.

and in the dark, he glided his wand across my stomach with a stoic face.

until he stopped for a moment and said...i can't tell you anything but...
and then he turned the screen and smiled.
he didn't have to say a word.
there...on the screen...was a baby. a baby who moved and danced...and an unmistakable little beating heart.
and that, my friends, was a beautiful moment.

and a terrifying beginning to a day that magically metamorphosized into this incredible, beautiful memory.

released on bedrest and instructions to see my doctor the next day to find out what was going on, i returned home in the morning to be pampered and embraced by one of the biggest outpourings of love i've ever experienced. within an hour, my house was filled. with jammy-wearin' friends who hugged me and cried and laughed and yelled in unison for me get back down! when i even suggested i was going to stand up for a moment.

they cried with me. they hugged me. they took care of my little. they found out my favorite vegetable beef soup recipe, went to the store and came home with bags of ingredients that they chopped and simmered in my kitchen while they laughed and sipped wine, told stories, chased littles and reminded me of the joy that follows sadness. they brought lunch and smoothies and piles of movies. they cleaned my kitchen and folded my laundry, changed my sheets and scrubbed my bathroom. they had me in fits of laughter while i laid on my bed watching them organize piles in my closet against my will. they called me from michigan to tell me they bought a ticket to come down and be with me. they canceled their plans, drove from fort lauderdale and arrived at my door after months of missing them to surprise me. they rubbed my belly and said things like i love you, little baby. they told me i needed deodorant and searched the bathrooms to find some (oh, know i love you and your blessed honesty). they kissed my hand over and over when i was shaking and crying and thought it was over and revealed hilarious embarrassing stories to make me laugh when i thought i couldn't. they called me and texted me, asking to help...they prayed and sent reminders that they were praying and loving. they listened and researched and promised it would be okay. they heard me say "i wish i could have a martini" and showed up two seconds later with a grapefruit mocktail in the perfect martini glass.

there are a trillion little things i could write. how we have been so blessed to know and be part of so many loving people's lives, i'll never know. but, man do our people know how to love. and all i could do yesterday was humbly accept it. it felt like christmas. and my house was full of nothing but the sounds of love...where tears and darkness had been just a few hours earlier. it was completely transformed by the power of a little word.

oh, love.

i was not alone last night. i closed my eyes to the sound of happiness and family and friends...and love. and i didn't ask for any of it. they came by the droves to deliver this amazing gift.

are we getting blogtastic and sappy and wordy enough yet? because i can step it up a notch.

oh, and our baby?
no more fears...
our appoinment this morning shows a perfect baby, a normal pregnancy and no need to be afraid. apparently, it was a chorionic bleed...but all is okay now.

say hello to the little stinker who scared their mama...

i am in love and awed by love all at once.
and reminded once again that there is a reason for everything and that things always sort themselves out to reveal beauty. and yes, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and the outcome is not always as beautiful as this incredible couple of days, but there is always love in the end.

thank you to every soul that has been a part of these last two days...every soul that has expressed love in some way.

we are grateful and blessed and humbly left with this incredible gratitude for your love.

so, thank you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


posting right on top of last night's post, but this baby needs to be showcased asap.

have i said i love babies?

...and the fact that i get to see so many of them is a pure gift.
today's gift came in the form of lawson, rescheduled from yesterday's rain...
he is this magical mix of blue eyes, blonde fuzz and just the right amount of chubs.

...and his precious family who love him so...

tell me his mama isn't just beautiful?!

i could have ten of these babies. in fact, i want to give that dugger lady a run for her money. i could so be her...minus the split ends and church skirts. but i could be her with some snazzy flats and lipstick.

clint & amanda...a pleasure. and your little man is pure love.

oh, wait. introducing my new holiday offer. last year, october and november were crazy. so, here's a special offer if you book before september 1. this is a crazy great offer because you get a cd of images to use as you wish for christmas gifts in addition to your custom designed cards and prints, plus a discount. the best gift you can give this year (besides love...or maybe a baby...or an anthropologie shopping spree) is your family memories captured...just as you are.
pass it on...and can't wait to hear from you!

Monday, July 20, 2009

feels like home.

the return to the nook.

the return to normalcy attempts...attempts that are slowly evolving into successful endeavors as full day nausea has been demoted to bouts and predictable time spans of nausea. and i have learned that an apple juice popsicle upon awakening decreases chance of morning visit to porcelain god and five o'clock bowl of cereal offers the possibility of an enjoyable evening.

enjoyable evenings like tonight when everything goes just right.

with a return to the kitchen as well. where wafting scents of pumpkin bread danced through the house this afternoon, making it smell like home. like somewhere you wanna be. like how i want my house to smell every time my kids come home when they're all grown up.

she was thrilled to be called back to the baking station, and her memories of sifting odd combinations of flour and ginger and curry and peanuts swiftly returned as she whisked her spoon in big circles, unphased by the mess that was quickly accumulating under the table.

(i know. aw, crap. i botched her bangs.)

the girl loves creating.

i strangely felt incredibly rewelcomed into my home today, as if i had been gone...and by the looks of it, perhaps many assumed i was.

but today it felt like home again.
perhaps it is the idea that these precious walls will soon welcome another little life that will grow up here. that will sit in the trusty high chair in the kitchen corner and eat pumpkin bread someday...fall asleep in between us in our blessed family bed...spill water outside the already-deteriorating tub that will have bubble-bathed all our babes' sweet skin. perhaps it is the moment i shared with brett yesterday...dreaming of all the little things we want to do to the house a stone fireplace...and a bonus room above the garage where grown-up married kids will return to stay for christmas. perhaps it is budding preparations of new paint and a big girl bed. a big girl bed i found on craigslist for a quarter of the price we were intending on paying...and will have delivered this week.

nevertheless, there is no place i'd rather be (red shoe click, click) ...than home. and after a little hiatus of lost inspiration, i am feeling it return. even in the simple desire to rearrange a bit. add some fresh flowers. burn candles. play bach and vivaldi and mahler after my poor classical selection gathered dust at the bottom of the cd stack. it felt so perfect today...clean and cozy and dripping with ambience. i only wished someone would stop by for a cup of opposed to the frequent drop-ins i encounter when the couch is stacked with laundry, the dog's latest poop dries at the front door and yesterday's breakfast dishes still litter the table.

not today.

even the dogs settled into the welcome comfort.

and after not buying something pretty for our home in so long...i came home from world market today with a smile and my new-found love for these romantic little bohemian candles i dangled from the end of our canopy on our bed. it's very love den-ish.

and then i cooked and cleaned and sang and turned down girls night out to the movies just because i couldn't bare to leave my den where i felt so completely content.

(but last week, girls night out for samantha's birthday did commence and was divine and smashing...)

so it is this constant theme of balance. ebb and flow. acceptance that the downs bring the ups and the ups bring the downs and really, it's all okay.

the creativity, the passion, the's all comin' back to me now. slowly but surely. and i'm finding it again in my camera as well. well, my camera and my girl.

she is my muse. and i could photograph her all day.

(i try to abstain from getting too edit-happy, and this is a bit over-edited but alas, the powers
of photo technology are amazing...and frightening in the same).

and my two latest favorites...

my serious girl...

whose smile can surface at any given moment and rip the soul right out of 'ya.

and lastly...

with bedroom preparations and gradually decreasing nausea, i have to say i am strangely surprised at how much i do think about this baby regardless of how busy i am. like it's our first time again. like i forgot what it's like. and i almost have. forgot that sweet newborn smell and their breathy cries. and i just can't wait to do this again.

and i can't even write this without tears because it's too precious to even put on here...
but now, when you tell lainey her little baby's coming...she holds out her arms to hold...

...and well, the look on her face just kills me. like she sees what we can't see yet. like she knows those little arms will hold something she will love so much so soon. (uuughh...tears)

little baby, if you only knew what kind of love you're comin' into, you'd get here faster. but stay a little longer. you will soon know what it feels like to be home.

home where, for now...before the big girl bed arrives...a little sleeps in a love-den bed enlightened by twinkly hanging candles. oh, i must go join her.

love. ~k