Frank. And only Frank. Thanks, Kid. I’m now sick of Frank.

Every night and every nap for the last two years my daughter has had to listen to Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours” album while she’s falling asleep.

I’ve tried to change the music without her knowing but as young as two she would look at me and say “no. I want frank.” In the beginning she called him “Frank Satra,” but as she grew she knew how to pronounce his name clearly and she let me know no one else would do – no Nat King Cole or Diana Krall or even a different album by Frank.

I finally slipped in some Dean Martin from his “Sleep Warm” album, skipping over the slightly faster songs thrown in the middle of the more gentle and melodic tunes, and she accepted it.

Last night I decided to try some Sarah Vaughn, who I’ve never actually listened to that much, but we only got two songs in before I heard an exasperated sigh in the dark.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, hoping to God she did not ask me for the snack she’d tried to tell me she needed a few moments earlier, even though it was way past her bedtime.

“It’s the music,” she said with exasperation dripping off each word. “It’s just not working.”

Now it was my turn for a sigh. I switched the Apple Music on my phone to the playlist of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

She relaxed in the darkness, obviously content, and in less than five minutes she was fast asleep to the smooth, soothing baritone of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Someday we’ll find another artist who lulls her into a state of pure relaxation but for now Dean and Frank remain our close and repetitive friends.

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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.

I always want to remember | Sayre PA Child Photographer

I always want to remember these days. The days when you grabbed Four, the old cat at Grandma and Grandpa’s that used to be mine, and tried to carry her around the porch like one of your dolls. We were lucky she didn’t try to scratch you, since she’s an outdoor cat and your used to the ones that live indoors.

I want to remember how you took off for the stairs by yourself and reached up for my hand and then walked down those high concrete steps with only my hand as your support. At 16 months of age and already climbing stairs on your own, not crawling but actually doing your best to walk up them on your own.

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.

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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?

Weekly Favorites: August 23 to Aug. 30 | Athens PA Photographer

Our son went back to school this week so it was a week of adjustments. We had to adjust to him being away from home all day, but we also all had to adjust to getting up a little earlier each morning. I think out of all of us, the youngest had the most trouble, even though she ended up getting up earlier only one day out of the week.
It looks like I only photographed my daughter this week, which is partly true, since I’ve been home with my daughter during the day, but I also photographed my son. I simply haven’t had time to edit those images and also have them planned for other posts this week.

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Summer’s End: new discoveries | Athens PA Child Photographer

 
This post is part of my Summer’s End photo project. Summer is a special time in my family. It’s time for us to be together without nights of homework, gaps of separation for school and school-related activities. This year our summer is even more special because we have a new member of the family to participate in all the fun.

I’ve been heading out to the towering tomato plant my dad planted at the beginning of the summer with my son every day for two weeks now, waiting for my cherry tomatoes to ripen. I’m the only one in the family who eats them. Or I was, because our 10-month old daughter decided the other day she’d try them out while I was picking some to see if they would ripen off the vine as my parents had suggested. _DSC7632-Edit

 

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They’re not quite ripe and not the grapes she thought they were, but she still seemed to like them.

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Mornings with Gracie | Athens, PA Child Photographer

From the moment she wakes up, 10-month old Gracie is looking to explore. Our mornings are a blur of movement for about three hours until she crashes hard for her morning nap.
She’s recently started walking so each morning is a new opportunity to see how far her feet will carry her.

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Often this walking and exploring starts before I am even fully awake. Her latest delight is walking but also crawling up the stairs and then waiting for me to carry her back down so she can do it all over again.

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She’s also exploring cupboards and drawers and anything else her little chubby hands can open and get into.

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