Sunday, August 30, 2009

vignettes from a florida sunday

setting out for the long drive there, i settle familiarly into the passenger seat with a writing book, two photography books and a pile of magazines. three miles in and i've been updated on what kourtney kardashian is craving, how long us readers predict renee and bradley will stick together and who wore armani's latest the best. i ditch the magazine and opt for the writing book.

the ride is quiet but for the sounds of the dvd in the back and the boys' random laughter at all the funny parts...cueing lainey to interject her own laughter with a precise two-second delay. she doesn't exactly know what she's laughing at, but if her brothers think it's must be.

a monster truck with scantily-clad-women mudflaps rolls along two cars ahead of us. pulled behind is a rusted twin engine boat, sloppily painted with Team Nauti Boys. i imagine they are headed out for some sunday fun for sure.

i notice for the first time all the panther traffic signs along the way. official yellow road signs with panther silhouettes as if their crossing is as ordinary as the common pedestrian. i've never seen a panther cross these streets.

the trees get lusher and thicker as stores and gas stations grow more sparse. of course there is the oddly-placed outlet mall in the middle of nowhere that suddenly appears. i always expect it to be closed, but miraculously, it goes on...a few random cars parked in its old parking lot. i wonder exactly how many outdated suitcases the samsonite store sells each month. i imagine there are many a days when not a one customer shows up at this poor place. i also imagine that hell might be waking up employed at this very outlet mall...banished to the dingy walls of the dress barn selling frumpy green paisley sack dresses here on the most god-forsaken stretch of 951.

the green sign finally appears. isles of capri and a single arrow, pointing you far away from the dress barn...past the magroves, the bait store, the impressive marina for such a tiny island.

and we arrive.
and unload.
and settle under shady umbrellas.

the tide is low.
the seagrapes droop.
the sea foam recedes, pulling with it broken shells and 'beach pencils'.

it's hot and my hair sticks to the sunscreen on the back of my neck.
but she's happy.

transporting shovels of sand from the beach to the large blue bucket ready to float away at the edge of the tide...until finally, she's piled enough sand into it to weight it steadily into the mud.

we spend most of our time partially submerged in the gulf today, its salty water stinging the shaving cuts i apparently acquired this morning. she floats and splashes as i eat cold cantelope from the chair i have half buried in the shallow water.

and later, we venture back to the hot sand to watch the boys dig deep tunnels.

soar the blue skies with daddy and austyn.

take a 'crab walk' with mama.

and smile every time one of our fish house friends comments on how we're finally 'showing.'

it's a girl. we exclaim.
another baby to tote along for sunday memories...
to sleep in the moses basket on the old wood floor under the palm-thatched roof of the tiki bar.

and then, before the sun sets, we head home...

the drive home is always cozy as we huddle under beach towels, the air seeming a little cooler against salty, damp suits. it's quiet again but for the random laughter...and two-second delayed laughter. i close my eyes and prop my sandy feet on brett's dashboard. i take them down when he frowns at me.

and when we pull into the driveway, the herd exits wildly, running toward the pool where everyone jumps in to clean off sweaty, sandy, sunscreened bodies. i hear them all from our bathroom as i always opt instead for the more refreshing waters of a real shower. a long shower with a clay mint mask and deep conditioner. and after donning a warm nightgown straight from the dryer, i join them at the edge of the pool where we watch the sun set behind the woods...

...and baby lizards emerge from their hiding spots under mossy pool rocks to entertain little eyes...

and now the house is calm. quiet...but for brett's football game in the other room and the dryer tossing a load of beach towels.
and the tea is finished.

thoreau may have wandered into the woods to live deliberately and suck the marrow out of life...
us? well, we have enough marrow right here.

sucking it, breathing it, sharing it...


*note: i forgot. i hereby give credit to brett for the pregnancy shots. he was proud of his work as he scanned the camera screen after the shot.
'if this goes on the blog, you're so crediting me,' he said..., um...'humbly'.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

this is how we do it.

despite the sighs of pity some may offer at the mention of it, i embrace it for the gift it is and have absolutely no problem answering the what-exactly-do-you do question with just that: i stay at home with my baby. i feel no need to further explain i used to teach. or i am also a photographer. or there are some days i think i work so hard i would surely take the i-did-more-than-you-today prize from any 9 to 5er. because for me, it is the most beautiful job in the world, and based on my own memories of spending afternoons sitting on the worn shag blue carpet in our family room, making my way through the lollipop woods and molasses swamp in a rip-roaring game of candyland with my mom or trailing behind her through a fabric store while she thumbed through butterick patterns knowing a trip to the ice cream store--just her and i--was sure to follow...well, i can't say enough just how sweet those times were or how good it feels to be able to mimic as much of that goodness as i can.

and i don't take it for granted. i really don't. and i know so many mamas that would love to stay home but can't and i wish i could share the gift a little more. but i also know that there are all sorts of mamas...good mamas...and some need time away, love their work environments and have these flawless set-ups where their babies are loved and nurtured during the day and they come home and balance it all the same. because they choose to work. and they're just as good.

and i guess the point i'm trying to get to is that yes...this staying home thing is just purely beautiful...but it's not always perfect. i would love nothing more but to bake and craft and read goodnight moon a trillion times to her while we spooned under cold sheets and planned our breakfast menu. but it's hardly like that.
i do work. i work at home...a lot. and while i think it is the coolest thing in the history of mankind that i get to both work and be with her, it presents its difficulties. i can't always read. i can't always craft. and there are many a times when i'm on a call, editing photos, answering e-mails, scraping burned scrambled eggs off a hot pan while holding her all at once.

but you know what? we rock it out. we really do. she's this super-cool toddler who finds things to do and with a little set-up can easily entertain herself with a pile of crayons, a cup of water, a drawer full of clothes to try on...while my presence is near. there are days where we bake, and days where we eat chicken nuggets. days where three loads of laundry miraculously make their way through the entire line of command (traditionally stopping, of course, at that wrinkled standstill between dryertown and foldedland), and days where the dirty pile grows ominously on the bathroom floor.

hold it. perhaps i should mention the shakedown. oh, the shakedown. a term invented by sister which, by definition, is the 45 minute blitz you frantically set out on right before your husband comes home which magically transforms your home into looking like you've been june-cleaver-in' the place all day. can't tell you how many times i've been gabbing with my sister at six o'clock only to wildly cut the call short with a "--crap, i have to go...shakedown time!" which is always met with empathy and a 'you'll-get-it-done' on her part. and i always do. in fact, if i don't say so myself, i've been known to turn a pit-gone-mad into martha stewart's living room, spit-shine the kitchen, throw something into the crockpot, turn the dryer on, light some candles, crank some diana krall, dispose of my pajamas, and smear some lipstick on in thirty-seven minutes flat. and he'll be all like 'wow' when he comes home. and i'll be all like, if-only-you-knew.

but, all that aside...
sometimes there are days like these.

days when magically...we do it all. like there were 72 hours in this one little day.
i mothered. the good-kind of mothered.
instead of looking like one of the boxcar children, all oatmeal-covered and half-naked, we were cutely dressed and tightly pony-tailed by 7:30...right when the morning light streamed its welcome into her room for some early reading.

quintessential little girlhood: skinned knees and chipped polish.

we crafted. and not just crayons and cheap coloring books. no... we're talkin' gluesticks and sequins.

we escaped to the park where the mid-morning breeze swished her pony-tails while she gasped and grinned on high-flying swings... (and yes, we had a wardrobe change, thank you)

(and bravely conquered the no-hands pose with pride!)

we picked up tuna subs and ate them on the ground, right there on dirt and grass with nothin' but nature.

...and headed home where she napped and i painted her nursery rocker a rich fallish shade of bordeaux to make its debut in our living room where new baby girl will be rocked and nursed and snuggled come january.

afternoon had us winding through aisles at the grocery where she kindly helped me pick out bananas and tote bratwurst and peppers in her basket (so bringing her little cart next time. she wants to be a mama-shopper so bad, but the basket weighed as much as she did and all the old people gave me mean looks like i forced her to carry it).

she's so big...would much rather walk beside the cart and help her mama than sit in it.

and then finally back home where we simmered a pot of hot wassail with mulling spices for an afternoon treat.

(apple cider with unmeasured orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, cloves, allspice, and orange slice floaters...skim off the spices before serving)

and then...don't ask me how...but i threw in a photo shoot tonight.
sweet siblings devin & lexi.

this little thing was very into eating nature.

so there. not to pat myself on the back, but...oh, who am i kidding. totally patting myself on the back. because, for all the times it doesn't work out. for all the times i've gone to bed thinking i could have done more. for all the piles of laundry that don't get washed or the goodnight moons that don't get read...there are days like these. when everything goes just right.

and at the end of the day, there is this...

...the greatest reward for all the work in the world.

and we just love. and we just be. and that, my how we do it.


Monday, August 24, 2009

the new bed...and other happy ramblings.

hello little blog...

i've had all these words stashed away for your sweet blank slate and no time to do it...all these moments where i was inspired by bright blue skies or a delicious bite of heavenly food, moments where life poured its splendor deep into my soul and i wanted to run and write...string together the perfect words to ignite even more all those wonderful feelings i want to remember about the little things that make our days so much more than little. but we've been busy and sometimes life trumps writing about life. and so be it.
however...i have a quiet break from work here while the little is sleeping and the tea is steeping and my big mug sits with its peppermint tea bag awaiting. to the nook to catch up.

beginning with...

i guess i didn't realize just how anxious and scared and worried i was about this 'lil babe until my ultrasound friday when, after i heard that the blood clot was shrinking and things will probably be just fine and i can proceed as normal and chill out, she's perfect...i walked out with tears and months of tension that finally released their wicked stress through a massive two-day head ache. oh, but relief...sweet relief...and the image of our little bean who was practically bent in half suckin' her toes on the ultrasound. i forgot how cute they are even when they are only eighteen weeks...and perfectly formed and developed already. this week, i finally felt those first heavenly flips and somersaults.

"does it hurt?" my neice asked.
"does it tickle?" she went on...
"a little bit."
"what does it feel like?"
hmmmm. i thought...and feels like someone is giving you a butterfly kiss in your tummy.

i love these butterfly kisses and the metamorphosis of growth and love that is happening all at once...almost half-way...

oh, the love.

my dad brought my sister's littlest down to stay with us this weekend, and it has been such a joy watching her and lainey play and interact, two girls...doin' their thing.

which happened to, i'm sorry, include...dressing up latte and taking her for a walk.

our poor dogs.

we went out for a pizza dinner, snuggled on couches for movies, slid down big slides at the water park, dipped in the gulf, and enjoyed a late-night family pool party...

so somer will take home sweet memories.

and the big news at our house these days is the big girl bed...all set up...and i love it.

it's everything i wanted it to be, but better because we got crazy deals on everything...the bed, trundle and two new mattresses on craigslist...
and then as if things couldn't get any better, i had this dream for an old quilt. one that would match the room perfectly with hints of pink and black but nothing overpowering. i wanted it to be heavy...there's something about a good quilt that lays heavy on you. and, being that there are no current quiltmakers in our family, i set out to look on etsy and ebay but came up with nothing under $300. but then, in a moment of sheer glory, i happened upon this beauty in marshalls on clearance for $20. yes, $20. and i practically wept.

it's a beauty. and all the pillows and cases, i found tucked in our linen closet. mind you, some needed to be dyed which a few tea bags and boiling water took care of it, but throw in some books, floppy bunnies, ratty teddies...and there you have it. my dreamy big girl's bed. she climbs on her little stool and reads up there...several times a day. and while we are gradually getting her used to the idea of night time in there, naps are going splendidly.

for some reason, the bed changes everything. new routines at night...reading together..all of us lying among pillowy clouds...

oh, yes...the boys are home and the reunion was monumental. lainey walked in the house, saw them all three sitting indian style on the floor awaiting her arrival...and she shreaked. like blood-curdling happy screams, smiling, jumping...running and kissed and hugged each of them down the row. and did it again. wish i had the video camera, but then again, those unscripted moments in life don't often get recorded. it was beautiful, none the less.

..and new traditions are born. something i've always wanted to do with my littles...
a night-night tradition of dream dust. i found the corked glass cruet at target, burned the edges of some linen paper, glitter-stickered it all up, tied a ribbon, funneled some baby powder and shimmer into it...and voila. magic dream dust.

we sprinkle it on her pillow before bed...a little in my hand, a little in hers...and the pixie dust falls. sssshhhh, i whisper as she smiles. it's magic. it will give you good dreams...sssshhh. don't tell anyone.
she smiles again and whispers back...ssshhh. don't tell gaga.
you can tell gaga...but nobody else.'s magic.
i hope she always remembers dream dust. and someday, when off to college she goes, i will send her care packages of dream dust. because everyone needs sweet dreams.


and finally, the girls and i headed to the beach this morning. early...before the seagull and sandpiper prints were brushed away, before the good shells were taken, before the sun scorched the sand with its late summer heat.

the sky was vivid, like a painting, and this tranquil blue saturated everything with pure happiness. we were unprepared, without suits or towels, but sometimes i think those are the best trips. lainey stripped down to her saggy little rose-bud unders and somer opted to dive into the gulf fully dressed.

and we sat in the sand, not saying much, but completely happy. there was no need to entertain them anymore than the beach was doing on its own. no pails, no shovels, no piles of beach-to-dos. just shells. and sand. and seagulls to chase.

and on the way back to the car, we stopped at the corner beach store for some ice cream.

freaking love this picture.

somer, still dripping wet from her dip in the gulf, lainey covered in melted ice cream and sticky sand, her crocs all backwards on her little was so...summer. the last bits of it.

and, on our trek over the boardwalk, i girl has a quirk.
she doesn't step on cracks. no, she babysteps one plank of wood at a time, tediously moving her crooked crocs across the small span between cracks, carefully making sure not to edge her toes over the empty strips between the wood. and this went on for about fifty planks before i noticed what was going on and being that we had about 494 planks to go, i finally swooped down and carried my little monk across the rest of the stretch lest we never make it to the beach.

i love you, my funny, happy, quirky big girl.

leaving you with my sandwich. because good food must be shared.
i made this sandwich three times this week.

after the first, i was so excited about how delicious it was and how stoked i was to create the masterpiece, that i called my sister three times. she didn't answer, so i finally texted... pick up your phone. i have to tell you about my sandwich. because that's what sisters do. and, within three minutes, she called back and listened as i retold, in detail, the making of this little piece of wonder. in fact, i pretended i was on a cooking show and she was my audience.

sesame bagel...soft.
tons of hummous shmeared (yes, shmeared) on both sides.
feta cheese sprinkled.
cold cut cucumbers.
sliced tomatoes.
alfalfa sprouts.
purple onions.

and there you have it.
it's so good.

and...reminder...they're booking up and my calendar is starting to get all peppered with shoots. offer ends september will LOVE these cards!

little christmas preshow today with sweet baby chase...

and loving the storyboards lately! wonderful holiday gift! (20x20 here)

also, i have only THREE slots left for Fall Mini Shoot Day (September 26--see post below)...will be a fun thing to bring the kids, refreshments, craft table, and you walk out with a mini shoot, a CD and 25 cards to send out. E-mail me if you want one of the final spots!

...enjoyin' all that good stuff. ~k