Sunday, October 15, 2017

September Self Portraits

I'm always the most clothed person in my house. #thingsiwanttoremeber

On my Birthday the year my daughter was born I had a photo taken with my two
kids and my Birthday cup cakes.  Every year since, on my Birthday I have
continued this tradition and now have a collection of 12 years of photos
starting when my youngest was 6 months old and my eldest was 2 and a half.
This photo along with their hand made Birthday cards are the two things that
mean everything to me.

For the one that flew away.

Most days, I don't realize I'm only in my mid-twenties... Being where I am in life, I feel ten years older than I actually am. I'm married to a man with a very stable career, I'm a stay-at-home mom with two kids, we own a home, live over a thousand miles away from our families, and most of our friends are at least 5-10 years older than us. Ever since meeting my husband, our lives have been on the fast track. We became parents as teenagers and we've worked our asses off over the years to make it where we are today. I took these on my birthday and I feel so incredibly thankful to have these two crazies in my life! I wouldn't have it any other way.

Last week my husband and I found out we are pregnant. This baby has been planned and loved and wanted before it even existed. 
And yet this has been such a bitter sweet time for me. 
I had two babies when I was very young. No one celebrated. Some days I felt that I was the only one who loved and wanted those babies. I raised them totally alone, and now they are big kids and I am so proud of who they are. 
But this pregnancy has been somewhat of a grieving process for me. I have grieved for what my babies missed out on. I have grieved that they didn't have a daddy around to want them and love them and guide them and share the joy of their existence with me. I have grieved for my former self and how tough she had it back then. Some moments I feel almost guilty about how good this baby has it. 
Is that okay to say out loud?

Genevieve Williams
One of my very favorite things in life is being at the pool with my kids.
My 4 year old had my go pro at the pool as we were packing up tonight and asked if he could take a picture. Sure, kid.
Looking at this, I laughed at first. Funky angle, postpartum belly. But look at that smile! I had to edit it and save it, just so I could look back oneday at the joy I felt, soaking up the evening at the pool with my 3 crazy kids.
I hope this is the view my kids remember when they looked up at me. Smiling and full of joy.

Elena Pendell
The first day of school.

19 weeks and 19 months.

A few nights ago, I was searing a roast in a pan for supper. It somehow slipped off my fork just as I held it up to turn and it fell into a pan full of oil and drippings. It splashed all over me. My face, neck, arms, and chest were instantly covered by grease (luckily I wear glasses, so my eyes were miraculously spared) and the burns and blisters were immediate. 
The next morning, I was looking at my battle wounds in the mirror and started crying a bit. I was feeling embarrassed of how I looked and was nervous about going to the school pick ups and drop offs and being seen by a bunch of people with a face like this.
Just then, my five year old daughter walked into the bathroom and saw me looking at myself. I was nervous that I looked scary to her and I was about to apologize for how I appeared and tell her that I didn't have to walk her up to the school playground if she didn't want me to...but before I could say anything, she gasped and said,
"Wow, mom!! Now you REALLY look like Wonder Woman! She got roughed up just like that when she tried to save the world from war! You are JUST like her now!"
Where I saw ugliness and shame, my amazing daughter saw strength and bravery. I walked my little hero straight up to the school doors every day this week despite my scars. My girl thinks I'm a badass. I can dig it. I'm so grateful to be raising our girls in a time where women are viewed as strong and courageous and that their mirrors reflect superheroes. And I'm grateful that my girls aren't ashamed of their mom who can't cook a roast with out seriously injuring herself…"

Conversation with my 4 year old daughter the day after I came home from the hospital with her baby sister: 
MJ: "Mom, can I see your tummy?"
M: "Sure" Lifts up shirt to show her my stomach
MJ: Runs her hands over my stomach and analyzes the size and shape. "It's not big anymore, cause the baby is out...well it's a little big." Said very matter of fact. 
M: "Yup, when mommies have babies it takes awhile for their tummys to go back down because it took awhile for them to get big." 
MJ: "But your boobs are big"
M: "Why do you think that is?" 
MJ: "Because you have momma's milk in them!" 
M: "Yup, so your sister has milk to grow up big like you."
MJ: Still staring at my stomach, tracing the stretch marks with her tiny fingers...
M: "What do you think about all that?"
MJ: "It's beautiful"
Out of the mouths of babes.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

August Self Portraits

This is my heaven.  
When we took these, the boys were being stinkers, and the mosquitoes were eating us alive.  Will I remember that?  No.  I'll remember how sweet they were at this age with the cuddles and giggles.  I'll remember how Bear gave his brother hugs and kisses to say he was sorry about who knows what.  I'll remember how content they were in our arms, and how they just melted into my chest.  The looks of glee from the tickles or being tossed up in the air - and Bug's inevitable look of terror after one to many times, that always made us hug him and laugh before he wanted to go again.  

Take the time to get in front of the lens.  Find someone to help you, that you trust, to take the short amount of time you have and make some magic.

There was this constant need to lose weight all around me. My aunts and mom would often hold contest to see who could lose the most weight. With that and the million comments "you need to be careful. You won't always be that small." 
I struggled with an eating disorder for 5 years because of that I was a vegetarian for 7 years.
When I was pregnant with my first it was hard to gain weight. It was hard to be okay that I had gained 50lbs. I tried not to look at the numbers on the scale. Yet even with that worry I felt confident in my body for the first time in years. 
With my second I gained 45lbs but it still didn't bother me as much as I thought it would have.
With this last baby I was on track to only gain 35lbs. (My ob was finally happy with me) The last month I my ob informed me that just like my previous pregnancies I had gained too much (45lbs)
This last pregnancy really changed my body. My foot grew a half size, my hips are wider, I have stretch marks I didn't get with my other pregnancies.
But I am a mommy to a sweet little girl. At times I feel saddened how my body has changed but I keep reminding myself I never want her to feel the way I did growing up.
I carried 3 babies in 3 years. I am going to be the best damn mom to my sweet little girl.
I'm striving to learn to feel confident for my daughter

Nearing the end of my midday coffee.
I already dozed off watching cartoons with the boys and now this mountain of warm, clean clothes looks cozier than ever. I know I should be folding it but...

My baby is 7 weeks old. We almost exclusively pump and feed via bottle, but I do nurse him 1-2 times a day. It was a process for me to feel proud of solely breastfeeding my baby because he rarely gets it directly from my breast. But now I am incredibly proud and grateful for the journey. This image is a celebration of that journey.

41 weeks got me like

This is what nightmares are made of! In fact, I am expecting our 6th child in a month, and a few weeks ago I dreamt I was in labor at the hospital, but all of our laundry was in the delivery room and I had to fold it all before the baby could come! Word to the wise: don't let the laundry soap run out... you'll be up to your eyeballs in clothes! 

I took this image of me and my three girls on Mother's Day at home with a shutter release and tripod. I think it's one of my favourites and I'm so honoured to have it stand alongside the talent you showcase on your blog.

After every storm, comes a rainbow. This is our rainbow and our miracle baby. Our OB told us that we were going to lose him (also) when I was 7 weeks pregnant. I was devastated, but I truly felt like she was wrong. The nausea told me she was wrong, too! Every day after that horrible office visit, I panicked. This went on for weeks before I finally believed that he was, in fact, a healthy, growing baby boy! Those smiles mean the world to me and I’m so lucky to be his mama! The way he looks at me, just melts my heart so capturing that to keep forever is double the joy!

Her little fingers, wrapped so tightly around one of mine, so trusting... a self portrait of a detail that makes my motherhood special.

I was just doing a quick test shot to see what the setup looks like.. I was gonna change myself, change the baby, fix up my hair, but I honestly think I'm not even gonna worry about it anymore cause I'm in love with this! It's us, not staged, styled, just doing what we do.

My little girl is down to breastfeeding once a day. I am so not ready for our journey to end! I am not sure how to deal with it. So this is me savoring every time she latches because who knows which time will be the last.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Self Portraits

One week shy of 15 months. She is officially the the same age as her older brother was when he weaned. Things were much different then - all of the comments from friends and family got to me and I felt pressured to stop. It's funny how after your first child things change. The comments don't bother me anymore. I don't foresee an end to this journey anywhere in the near future. I will not nurse her I'm hanging on to these moments.

An ode to my baby belly.
Motherhood changes you in ways you’d never imagine. I stand in the mirror and try to remember the body I lived in before my two sons arrived. My hands always find their way to my soft and jiggly skin below my belly button. I remember how tight the skin felt when my belly was full of life. It takes a daily consciousness to appreciate the journey my body has been on.

My stomach is like a passport stamped with all of my adventures. One of my favorite lyrics, thanks to the Goo Goo Dolls, is “scars are souvenirs you never lose.” My abdomen tells the story of a ruptured appendix, two corrective laparoscopic surgeries, two failed navel rings, and most important of all, two c-sections which sit right at my bikini line. My linea negra still hangs around thanks to the cocktail of hormones that allow me to continue to breastfeed my 7 month old. It pulls towards the left, likely because of all the internal scaring thanks to my ruptured appendix. The story you can't read directly from it is the years of infertility and pain in wondering if I'd ever get to hold my own children. I am proud to wear these battle scars as I snuggle my children.

In short, during my 33 years of life, my body has been through a lot. How can I expect it to look like it did 15 years ago? Does any living thing look the same after 15 years? I am thankful for my jiggly tummy, painted in scars. It has provided me with my two beautiful boys. Cut your body some slack, use it up and live life.

12 weeks.

Balancing work & motherhood is tough, but dang I want to remember these days. I'm an RN in an emergency room and work four back to back 12 hour shifts in a row. It's exhausting, and its my dream job. My oldest loves to cuddle and I try and give him some undivided attention each night when I get home before I put him in bed. So here I am, just walked through the door, still in my scrubs, and so happy to snuggle my boy.
Genevieve Williams 

I'm a big person, currently down 86 pounds in 3 months, I have never felt comfortable in my own skin. some days I want to curl up in a ball and some days I feel like the prettiest girl in the entire world ! today was one of those days, and even though I know I don't have the perfect body, today I felt beautiful!

This is so my life right now: messy top bun, comfy cotton t-shirt, my favorite coffee in hand, and my kids loaded up in the mini van. Seriously, as a mom, sometimes I feel like I only get through my days because of coffee and lots of prayer. Motherhood is exhausting... Thank God for Starbucks. 

"I just hope that she always looks at me like this."

This week we said goodbye to our first home; the first home we ever owned together and the house we brought our two boys home to . Change is hard and I know we'll miss this place but we're excited for this next chapter in our lives. We'll miss you 5 Harland View.
Robyn Gallaway

This is me and my baby boy, I hope he still looks at me this way when he's 17, I know I will! 

Liz DeGroff

Liz DeGroff

My husband is going to be so mad, if he finds out I shared this but I just can't resist! We have five other sinks that he could have washed his hands in, but he chose to walk right in front of my camera and use this one, knowing I was taking pictures. So in my opinion, he was asking for it. lol Our toddler and I may be the ones in focus but I think we all know the real star of this photo is... DAT ASS!

 I took this on the 4th of July on Lake Michigan in a place called Door County, Wi.  It is my favorite place in the world where my family has a cabin and has been coming for over 60 years.  I spend about a month here in the summer with other extended family from all over the country.  My two kids are running around somewhere with their many cousins.

Motherhood with twins, and a gold star if you can spot my toddler amongst the legs and bottles. The twins have started to get jealous if the other is in my lap, so lunch has become a complicated juggling job. And they aren't supposed to be using bottles, so that's a parenting win...But you know what? I'm IN THE PICTURE and that is huge.  I want my children to see me when they look back at photos, I want them to know that while I didn’t put on make up or brush my hair into anything but a ponytail for 3 years, I was there, I was stressed, but I was in love with all of it.  

Friday, July 7, 2017


“Here I am. Standing still in the moment wishing I could stop the time. Just for a little while. Everything is happening right in front of my eyes but sometimes I feel like those moments are just one big blur because they are passing by so fast. Slow down little ones. I'm not ready to let go of those tiny hands that want to be held each night just as you fall asleep. I'm not ready to let go when you start riding your bikes all by yourselves. I'm not ready for those baby teeth to fall out just yet. I'm not ready for you to grow up. Not yet. Slow down little ones.”

"I worked all night, had just hit my 24 hr mark of being awake, but my sweet boy was so excited see me. Instead of hitting my bed I went outside and laughed with this boy in the grass. I couldn't have asked for a better moment. Luckily I set my settings and handed my camera over to my husband who snapped this pic, I just love how it turned out!"

"Some days I feel like I can't do anything right. I finished all the laundry but let it sit unfolded in baskets, I vacuumed the whole house but that stain is still on the rug from two weeks ago, I wrote a special note on the napkin I put in my son's lunch but didn't make the sandwich right, I picked up all the toys but didn't play with my toddler enough, I bathed the kids but I haven't showered in days, I cleaned the whole house but I forgot to plan dinner and we have to get fast food...again. Imagine you're swimming in the ocean, while simultaneously juggling at least ten different balls. It's impossible to do it all, so you must decide which balls you're going to drop and attempt to juggle the rest, while also keeping your head above the water. This is how I feel every single day. It's exhausting. And some days, I just feel like giving up. This was one of those days."

"Shedding some light on what is likely the LEAST glamorous of motherhood duties. With 4 boys, potty training has definitely been a chunk of my ordinary days. With my first son, I remember thinking that "naturally" my husband would teach him how to properly execute this masculine rite of passage. Unfortunately, since my husband travels quite a bit for work this duty was left to me. Though I will say, after training all my little men I've got better aim than a sniper by now :P haha"

"Nursing a toddler can be stressful at times especially when nursing a newborn as well, (add summer heat), but these moments I love when it's just him and I. We are all relaxed at the end of the night, him getting tired, twiddling, tickling, laughing and looking up at me. I will FOREVER love this image because it means something to me."

"I skip over the bed head, pillows without pillowcases, the fact in the other room his brothers were fighting like cats and dogs and its only 7 am and focus on the fact that my little munchkin wakes me up so he can mess with me and make me smile."

"My mommy used to wash my curls. I used to close my eyes and pretend I was a butterfly in a cocoon. Now, as a mother...I found myself almost in tears washing my own daughters hair. comforting her when she tensed, singing to her. My mother shaped me into the woman I am today.
I pray that I can do the same for my Eden."

"I was shopping today when I heard a woman a few aisles over exclaim "Wow! Look at her belly!!". I knew she was talking about me and attempted to head in the other direction. She FOLLOWED me and spent several minutes telling me how huge my belly is and that I should be worried about my baby being gigantic and how I must be SO sore all the time, etc. If you've ever been 38.5 weeks pregnant (and yes, measuring 4 weeks ahead), I'm sure you can imagine how I felt."

Christine Trimble

"I wasn't feeling good about myself today. It was a gorgeous sunny morning and I got into the pool with my baby. While he was playing I made the mistake of looking at my body under the harsh sunlight... and I broke down in tears. I saw my after-baby body, which is so different than it used to be. I've always had self-image issues and pregnancy didn't help. I could write about why I should love my body and how beautiful it is for having created a life. But at that moment that was a silly cliché and I couldn't care less about it. I quickly stopped because I didn't want my baby to see me crying or to feel my sadness. But I decided to do something about it. Normally, the last thing I would think about in a moment like that is to get in a photo. But photography is my therapy so I decided to give it a try... and I'm so glad I did. I put a blanket on the grass set my camera on a tripod and lied there with my baby. We tickled each other, we sang, we clapped, we did all the little things that make us happy. And I see all that in this photo. I'm so happy I created this memory for us... I'm a mother and I'm beautiful."

"We were so glad to finally have baby Rosie here. It felt like she’s always been a part of our family when they laid her on my chest. I don’t have any birth picture from when my son was born so I made it my goal to get some this time around and I am so glad to have them. They mean the world to me. There’s nothing more amazing than a new life!"

"Laundry helpers and apartment living"