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 forever...so 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"

Monday, June 5, 2017

May Self Portraits

My son had to remain in the hospital for several days after he was born. Those were difficult days, but there were also moments of incredible sweetness when it was just he and I alone in the quiet night. 

After losing a baby to miscarriage at 13 weeks last year, I was determined to savor and document this pregnancy in a way that I have never done before. So I began my own personal maternity self-portrait project. This is the third in the series so far and the first to include some of my other children (the youngest two of my five). 

My daily struggle... 
I can never keep up with him. I want to. I want to have a clean house, for me, not because it is an expectation. I want to be more patient, most days I'm not. The guilt piles up every night as I lay his beautiful little head in his crib. He is so forgiving, and loves me even when I lose it. Sometimes I think, I know, he deserves a better mother than me. Motherhood can feel drowning to my inner artist. Some women balance it well, internally it is the toughest struggle for me. The toddler phase is hard. It is impossible to describe the extreme feeling of love I have for him that grows every day while simultaneously pushing me to insanity. So here I sit, feeling overwhelmed but also knowing that everything is ok. He won't be this small forever and one day I'll wish I could revisit this moment and have him destroy my house just one more time.

My annual birthday portrait- this year i was 28 weeks on my 31st birthday.

I knew for awhile I wanted to do a photo like this. My little boy is Beau and he is our fourth, and last, so I want to document everything I can. I love this spot in my kitchen because it showcases some of my favorite things... pretty window light, the handmade wind chime my 8 year old made for me, paper flowers gifted to me last Mother's Day, little clay animals made in art class, my aloe vera plant that has grown massive and often topples over into the sink - ha! From the very beginning, Beau has been so observant and followed faces around the room wherever we go, so when I saw that I got this shot of him looking up at me I totally melted. Love that boy. 

This image. I have struggled with self acceptance since my first, who is now 5. My youngest is 1. It just clicked one day. I'm healthy, there is NO reason to not love this body that I know live in. I'm able to run around and play with my two healthy kids. This belly carried and nourished them. This body brought them into this world. The strength of my body, and the scars I carry...as well as the extra weight, are a constant and wonderful reminder to me of what I have and what my body can do.

The image is a composite of me with each of my kiddos. I do simple, backlit shots of myself with each of them every May...they're now 5,3, and 19 months, and I have a feeling I will only be able to convince them of this for the next few years.

I was a little nervous about trying to capture it all myself since I decided to not hire a photographer for a Fresh 48, but I think it turned out alright. :) Can't wait to capture more moments with this girl.

{12 days postpartum} I debated sharing this photo, but I took it this past week as part of my 365. I wanted to remember how raw and real postpartum feels. Tiny baby, leaky boobs & stretch marks. Sore, exhausted and so in love. This is the third baby I've given birth to. I've had 2 miscarriages along the way and lost one of the twins in my last pregnancy. I sure wish I had gotten to experience these moments with those babies and I'm so grateful to have carried this sweet girl for nearly 41 weeks.

This is the last 64 ounces of breast milk that I donated, making my total donation 1,000 to two different babies.  This was such a labor of love for me and I am so glad I was able to help out two other babies!

The pitter patter of little feet
Leave behind something so very sweet
A precious treasure for me to keep
The memories of your tiny feet.

My husband almost always does bedtime. He's gone for most of our waking hours, so he really makes an effort to be the one to put the kids to bed, not only to give me a break, but to visit with them. I'm often working on my laptop on our bed at that time and he sends them to me after they're pajama-ed and clean with brushed teeth and sleepy eyes. I love giving them one last hug and kiss before sending them off. I set up my camera outside this evening and asked my husband to snap a few pictures of us saying goodnight. This picture was taken through the window of our RV turned tiny home, which we've been living in for the past year. We will soon welcome our 3rd child and learn about tiny living with a preschooler, toddler and newborn!