Friday, October 30, 2009

Here comes Trouble!

Mack started crawling at 8 months, on September 11. Within about 4 or 5 days he was trying to pull himself up on the kitchen foot stool and other short things. He mastered that in about a week, then moved on to pulling himself up on taller things like the couch, the computer desk and the fire gate. He started cruising along the furniture this week. He is now 10 months old and has figured out how to open the kitchen cabinets.

Wait for it...wait for it...

"Mama, those pans attacked me!"

I guess it's time to install the safety latches before he discovers he can get into the cleaning supplies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You know you're a Redneck when...

You have a picture of yourself posing with antlers and your friends call you Elmer Fudd.

You own an article of bright orange clothing and there's a chopping block outside your back door.

We've been in Wyoming for over a year now, so I think it's safe to say we've been initiated. But now Dan is officially a true Wyoming Man. He has been on many elk hunts with Brian in years past, but this year was the first time he had his own hunting license. He shot his first elk (a 5 point) on opening day, October 15th. I don't really get the whole hunting thing, I guess it's the thrill of the pursuit or whatever, but I do know it's male bonding at its finest. Processing your kill is expensive and we don't really have anywhere to store a bunch of elk meat, so Dan did what Brian does most years. They both gave their meat to a family in Afton whose children all have cystic fibrosis. Deer and elk meat is really high in protein, and a high calorie, high protein diet is really important for people with cystic fibrosis.

I sent Dan with the point and shoot camera to snap a few pictures of the hunt, but it was so cold that the battery wouldn't operate. I had to settle for a picture of Dan and his rack in our back yard. I think it's better that way- I didn't have to look at the glassed over eyes of a dead elk with his bloody tongue hanging out to the side.

I think we're gonna be on Jeff Foxworthy's Christmas card list this year.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'll do anything for a picture

You ever notice how much less neurotic you become the more kids you have? I remember when Lily was a baby her Nana was visiting and we went out for breakfast. We were having pancakes and Nana let Lily taste some syrup and I was secretly freaking out, "She can't have sugar! She's too little!" Well, here we are at baby number 3 and I'm all about letting him not only have one lick, but several, of a sucker just so I can make a cute video.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today, squeeze someone you love

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in the United States. I'd like to take some time to reflect on loss and love.

As reluctant as I was to join Facebook last year, it has really turned out to be a wonderful tool for renewing and deepening friendships. In August I "friended" Amy Whitney, a bride whose wedding I photographed in Oakland, CA in 2007. The last time I saw Amy she and I were both pregnant (me with Mack) and due about the same time. Whenever I find a new friend on Facebook, I usually go straight to the photos first. Amy's small profile photo showed her and her baby girl and I was excited to see all the pictures of her daughter Alexis Lynne. I was confused when I saw the first image, thinking perhaps I had clicked on the wrong album. It was a picture of a cemetery plot. I clicked over to the next picture, and I knew right away that Alexis Lynne was stillborn.

Memories came rushing back of a summer night when Lily was 5 months old. My sister-in-law Lora had just given birth to her first child, Hope Lynn. Hope was perfect, with wispy brown hair, eyes like her sister Rachel, delicate fingers and rosy red lips. But instead of tears of joy, my eyes were filled with tears of anguish as I photographed my brother Don and his wife mourning the loss of their first child. Hope died from a cord injury, just one day before she was scheduled to be born. Here is an excerpt from my journal on Aug. 17, 2002:

Those were the hardest pictures I've ever taken... It was hard to keep
focusing and taking pictures through my tears, but I was so glad I could be
there to take those pictures for them. They are the most sad and beautiful and
sacred photographs... I am so honored that Don and Lora trusted me enough to be
there and record such a private moment. I didn't get to hold Hope that night, I
just kissed her head and stroked her hair. But in the morning I held her before
the man from the mortuary came to pick her up. Oh, how I love her! She is
perfect and she is an individual and I'm so glad I got the chance to hold her
and love her and grieve her loss... I think I will always remember the anguish and poignancy of Don carrying the beautiful tiny white casket with his baby daughter to the grave site.
Amy, amid her grief, has used her experience to become a voice for mothers suffering from infant loss. She and her husband Zach were fortunate to have the services of a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep at the hospital after Alexis was born. Amy is a digital scrapbooker and has designed a beautiful album of Alexis, detailing all the events of the pregnancy, birth, and memorial service. I think it has been tremendously healing for Amy to make Alexis's scrapbook. One of the amazing gifts that the people at Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep give to the parents is a memorial video of the photographs taken of their child. You can see Alexis Lynne's video on Amy's blog here. But be warned, you WILL cry.

The knowledge of Amy and Zach's loss came at time when I really needed to be reminded of my blessings. I was feeling numb from my responsibilities as a mother and struggling with my emotional attachment to my children. After reading Amy's blog, watching the video, and pondering the loss that I know nothing of, I crept into my childrens' rooms and wept as I watched each of them sleep. Amy was an instrument in God's hand in opening my eyes to the blessings before me.

When things get tough, I remember Amy, and so many others that I love (Becky, Lori, Becca, Samantha, Lora, Victoria, my Gram, my cousin Jen...) who would give anything to trade my trivial stress to have the privilege of holding their infant in their arms. Our children are our greatest blessings, and while God will restore all to those who are faithful, we must always remember to love the ones we have, while we have them.

Tonight, if you are so inclined, gather your loved ones around you at 7:00pm and light a candle in remembrance of all those who have lost a child during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Then go and squeeze someone you love.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking House

800 square feet is not a lot of space for a family of five. It's wasn't too bad this summer because we spent a lot of time outside and Dan took the wood stove and hearth out in May, which seemed to double our living space.

All that glorious space to run around in, dance in, and learn to crawl in.

Alas, no more. Winter is eminent here in Wyoming, dropping below freezing during the night, so Dan hauled in the wood stove last Saturday.

Our living room is considerably smaller now and it seems even more crowded by the fact that everyone wants to hang out in here where it's warm.

I should've taken a picture, but believe me when I tell you that if someone is laying with one of the recliners out on the couch, there's barely enough room to squeeze through between the fire gate and the recliner legs.

Despite the whole shrinking living room thing, the wood stove does have its perks. It's super cozy to sit around the fire and read stories and Lily loves to get dressed in front of the fire before school. But best of all, we kicked off the cold season by making s'mores right in our own living room.

Amelia was hilarious because she never really wanted to eat a s'more or even a marshmallow, she just wanted to critique the way we were roasting. "No, too dawk (dark), Daddy." "I want dohden (golden) bown (brown)." "Ooh, yeah, yeah, yeah that's just right." (Thank you, Goldilocks!)

Dan and I agree that the $190.00 it cost to buy the fire gate last year was the best money we've ever spent. It gives us a lot of peace of mind and now it has the added perk of helping Mack practice standing up.

The one major drawback to the wood stove is the constant mess of wood chips on the floor. I sweep a couple times a day, but Mack still manages to find little goodies to nibble on.

What? A little roughage in your diet never hurt anyone!