Posted in authentic, Days with Gracie, keeping it real, motherhood

The little girl who loved ants

I’m not sure how Miss G’s fascination with ants started or even when but since it’s started we have had to learn to leave enough time before we go somewhere so she can to stop and watch the ants scurry around in their little world on the sidewalk in front of the house. She also needs time to talk to them and have a little conversation.

Maybe it all started when we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and the kids befriended that ant while they were miniaturized. Shortly after we watched it she was on all fours on the sidewalk, talking to the tiny insects about her plans for the day and asking them how they were.

One day I dropped a piece of chicken on the ground while trying to carry the groceries in and by the time I went back out to get the rest of the groceries ants were beginning to swarm the meat, break it down and carry pieces off to their home. 

Miss G had already noticed them but I pointed out how they were moving the food and how strong they were , despite their size and she began watching and talking to them. We broke the chicken into smaller pieces and she tossed pieces down saying “here, ants… food!”, trying to take care of them, much like she does our cats and did our sweet Copper. Of course in true toddler style she sort of forced her hospitality on the animals by following them around with their food dish and demanding “eat, kitty! Eat!”

Her interest has now expanded from ants to other insects, including a caterpillar we found one day on our walk after school. It took a lot of convincing for her to finally leave the caterpillar outside. She had decided he was coming inside to be her pet. We even carried him to our front sidewalk but then I told her he needed to stay outside so he could find his family.

This story backfired on me about a week later when we went to the spare room at my parents to lay down for a nap and found a odd looking insect. Out of panic I tossed a book on top of it which prompted Miss G to say “don’t hurt him! He has to go back to his family!” 

I can just see my future – being like my dad and scooping creepy insects up with a piece of paper and a cup and putting them outside instead of squishing them under my shoe. 

So far she’s decided she doesn’t like spiders, probably because I make it clear I am not a fan of them. At least I don’t have to spare the lives of spiders I find in our house. I’ll do almost anything for this little girl but I’m not sure I can bring myself to scoop up one of those in a cup. 

Advertisements
Posted in Days with Gracie, honest stuff, keeping it real, motherhood, Mothering is hard, personal musings

Denial is the first step to not admitting we’re in the toddler years

I wasn’t ready for it, I’m not going to lie.

The attitude. The firm shakes of the head and the cry of “no!”

The folded arms. The tantrums. 

The deep scowls and body flops to the floor.

She’s not even two. 

Yet these are the reactions I have had as I stare in horror at the Terrible Twos rushing at us like an out of control train. I am being pulled into these years that some moms cutely call “ the testing years”, kicking and screaming. 

Seriously, what is with her hitting the stubborn stage before she’s even 2? All the books say two is when it all goes to hell in a hand basket. She is not two so she is not allowed to refuse to let me help her wash her hands and do it herself.

She is not allowed to try to jump into the deep end of the pool without adult supervision because she lacks fear. She is not allowed to sit in the floor and cry because mommy put on her shoes and she wanted to do it on her own.

She is not allowed to squish her face up in indignant annoyance when I try to hold a cup for her to drink from or slap my hand away in apparent insistence that she be allowed to do it ON HER OWN!

It’s not fair! 

I was supposed to have more time to prepare!

But, she’s been developmentally early in so many other areas, I should have expected this. 

I really should have been preparing for the worst. 

The worst being that my little princess really is a smaller version of me. 

Oh, Lord, give me strength, she has my independent attitude, my stubborn streak and, I can barely manage to write this, my temper. 

This is it.

This is the payback I was warned about. 

And yes, the saying is true. The saying I won’t repeat because I am a good Christian mama blogger. The saying that essentially says, “you are feeling the pain you caused so many others. Enjoy the ride, sucker.”

 

Posted in 99 days of blogging, Days with Gracie, Letters to My Daughter, motherhood, Motherhood in Action, Mothering is hard, personal reflections

Letter to my daughter

At 20 months of age you are insanely clingy and there are brief moments it drives me crazy.
“I need my hands free to push this cart! Good grief! “
“I brought the stroller so you would sit in it, not so I can carry you in the sling while I push an empty stroller and get bewildered looks.”

But those protests are quick ones because there you are, eye level with me, in my arms, secured against me with a sling, and smiling while you lean your head At 19 months of age you are insanely clingy these days and there are brief moments it drives me crazy.
“I need my hands free to push this cart! Good grief! “

“I brought the stroller so you would sit in it, not so I can carry you in the sling while I push an empty stroller and get bewildered looks.”

But those protests are quick ones because there you are, eye level with me, in my arms, secured against me with a baby sling, and smiling while you lean your head against me. You are safe here, arm up on my shoulder, tucked securely against my side, under my arm. All the people towering above you and the ceilings and world so high and far away aren’t as scary if you’re kept safe by the person who is the center of your world.

I can certainly relate to the need to feel protected and sheltered from a world that feels scary and overwhelming. I often long for my own safe haven as I force myself to leave the house when many days I instead want to hide away and not be seen. For years I have forced the introvert within me to be an extrovert and the introvert has decided she is no longer happy with that arrangement. 

Many nights I lay down thinking about and mentally preparing myself for the next day’s errands or chores that will require me to go into public; associate with the rest of the human race. I often try to find a way to avoid the trip, even going so far as to wonder if peanut butter sandwiches are okay for dinner simply so I don’t have to shop among the masses. 

Sleep comes only after I recite a verse that has become a daily mantra: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Sometimes I have to say the verse over and over while trying to chase away the anxiety that creeps up into my throat like reflux from a spicy supper. In the morning I remind myself I can’t be a hermit, no matter how much I want to. I have children to feed or take to the doctor. And I have life to experience because as much as life terrifies me it fascinates me.

The appropriate Christian thing to say is that God is my safe haven, the One who keeps me from living my life behind closed doors, and He is. But sometimes I don’t trust the way I should; I don’t listen the way I should. Thoughts overwhelm me and all I hear is condemnation and criticism. 

I pray so I can find comfort in the One who reminds me He is home even when I’m out in the big, scary world. 
I want you to feel comfort while I hold you, Little One.

I’m so honored to be your safe haven, your comfort zone, the person who you need to make you feel like you’re home no matter where you are.

So cling to me when you need to and I’ll cling back and treasure these simple moments of comfort.

Part of Melissa Firman’s 99 days of blogging and my Letters to My Daughter’s feature.

Posted in Days with Gracie

Hey, I got the shot. That’s what matters.

My toddler loves her some mud puddles so after a rain storm Friday I took her out to find the one small mud puddle that forms in our stone driveway and let her get as messy as she wanted. In the process, while laying on the ground to get what I thought would be a cool shot, I ended up with a streak of mud right across my chest. I was so focused on capturing her enjoying the mud and water I didn’t rush to change and instead followed her into the backyard where her slide is to let her play some more.

That is when the new neighbor brought her daughter-in-law out to meet me, in all my muddy glory. My daughter was in her muddy glory too, complete with a very brown bottom.

But, what was really important for this photographer is that, yes, I got the shot.

Posted in Days with Gracie, Motherhood in Action

There are no cows in that barn | Athens, PA Documentary Photographer

Hiding out from minor family tensions at Sunday dinner at my parents we found ourselves at the barn, barren of cows for probably 60 years.

“I hear a cow in there!” my 9-year old declared with one of his sly grins, knowing full well there was only old tractors and barn swallows in the barn. My 18 month heard the word cow and stuck her little face against the barn door, expectently looking for the animals she currently calls what she calls just about every four legged animal “dog!” 

Instead the “moo” we heard was coming from the neighbor’s barn on the hill, half a mile from the house. She heard the cow, turned herself around and pointed toward the neighbor’s barn, knowing, even though she couldn’t see the cow, that that is where the cows really were. 
“Der! Der! Der!” She trilled. I’m not sure if she’s really trying to say there or not but that’s my theory anyhow.
Her brother is going to have to think a lot harder to get one past this little smarty pants.

 

 

Posted in Days with Gracie, Storytelling Photography

Her little face | Elmira, NY Photography

This photo was taken by sitting the camera at an odd angle and not even looking into the viewfinder because I couldn’t get into the position I needed to get the shot I wanted. If I start Yoga up again maybe I can get into that position some day.. When I knew bending down was going to rip my back out more and give my chiropractor even more business, I put the camera on my knee and shot up because I desperately wanted that backlight around her cute little head. This shot was also edited in Lightroom to give the image even more of the feel I was looking for.

Posted in Days with Gracie, Motherhood in Action, Mothering is hard, personal reflections, The joy of motherhood

This mom stuff is hard

“I’m a horrible mom!” I sobbed into the phone at my mom while waiting for  a call back from the triage nurse. It’s not the first time I’d said these words and I’m sure it won’t be the last, even though I know it should be.

It was the second time we’d called the number in a week, both times for my 15 month old daughter we have affectionately, and aptly, nicknamed The Hurricane.
The first time we called she had fallen off the back of the couch, her favorite spot to perch on, much to the disapproval of her dad and I. On the way to the floor she cracked her head on a bookcase.
She cried and was fine within minutes, even though I had been sure we would be holding back blood on our way to the hospital. We called the nurse on call and I woke up 20 times that night to check on her. She was fine and was left with only a small bruise above her eye. Ten minutes after she fell, in fact, she was trying to climb the couch again.

The second call involved her walking out of the bathroom and toward me, down the upstairs hallway, with an empty bottle of allergy medicine in her hand and a thoughtful look on her face. It was a bottle which had previously been partially full. Apparently it fell off the counter and the lid was either placed in crooked or not tight enough. I had left the bathroom, expecting her to follow me.

Yeah. Right.

Why would a 15 month old follow their mom if there is so much they can get into in the bathroom?

I had pretty much convinced myself she’d been poisoned, but the nurse on call and Peggy at Poison Control felt, based on the fact much of the bottle had been poured on the floor, that our little girl would be okay. And she was, despite trying twice to do a somersault of the end of her brother’s bed while I was on the phone with the triage nurse.

She also emptied my entire box of feminine pads while I was on the phone telling her dad what Poison Control had said and spread them across the bathroom floor, as if she was redecorating.

23863609393_1abddece90_o

I often tell myself I’m horrible at this mothering job. What’s worse is I utter it out loud. A lot. In front of my children.

Being a mom is not a job I ever thought I would have. As a teenager I imagined myself traveling the world, photographing wars and famine and the beauty of nature, not raising babies in a small town only 45 minutes from where I grew up.

But, here I am, a mom.

And many days I question what God was thinking giving these poor children a mother like me.

The day the baby eats cat food off the kitchen island and my son feels ignored because I was chatting on Facebook longer than I intended. The day I yell at the elderly dog because he nipped the baby when she sat on him. The day I sighed heavily when my son talked about Minecraft again, making him feel like what he says isn’t important or of interest to him. Those days are the days I wonder what I’m doing as the mother of these two beautiful and amazing children.

Jonathan and my favorite movie these days is ‘Mom’s Night Out’ and toward the end of the movie Trace Atkins, playing a tattoo artist named Bones, tells the main character; “You all spend so much time beating yourselves up, it must be exhausting. Let me tell you something, girl. I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mama he did. So you just be you. He’ll take care of the rest.”

Oh Lord, it’s why I pray, so often throughout my days: “Fill in the gaps where I fail. Help me care for these children they way you’ve called me to. And most of all, please, Lord, don’t let me completely scar them for life.”

My brother chooses a word at the beginning of each year to set the tone for the upcoming year. He does this in conjunction with another blog and this year he chose the word reinvigorate. I thought the suggestion to choose a word for the year was sort of dumb, if I’m being honest. Still, when I started to think what words I wanted to choose as I moved forward into a new year, it only took me 30 seconds to know what words I needed: Peace and simplicity.

I complicate my life so much and when I do that I lose my inner peace. I lose sight of the peace that only Christ can give and let it be replaced by the chaos of the circumstances around me.

To have both peace and simplicity  I want to work on blaming myself less for accidents, recognizing what is my responsibility and what isn’t, and most of all being less hard on myself as a mother.

So, if you could choose a word, right now, even if it is the middle of the year, what word, or words, would you choose?