Tuesday, November 20, 2012

help this mama support her family

I've been working very hard on my Etsy shop the last couple of months, fighting through the sleep deprivation of motherhood, squeezing in what few moments I have throughout my days of chasing around a very rambunctious 6-month-old baby girl. Now that I've built a little foundation, I'd like to use the holiday season to try to get things moving. If you could take the time to check out my shop, Lola Rain Photography, post a shout out on your Facebook or Twitter, or email the link (www.lolarain.etsy.com) on to people in your life that you think would be interested in buying prints for holiday gifts, or for themselves, I would GREATLY appreciate it! I need all the help I can get to get the ball rolling and help support my family!

I will be holding a SALE this week for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (the whole weekend, Friday-Monday). Use the code HOLIDAY10 for 10% off your purchase of any one item in my shop. Other deals (available without codes):

Buy 2, get 15%
Buy 3, get 20%
Free handmade holiday gift wrap and tag with purchase
Free gift with purchase (either a sheet of fine art stickers or a mini print)

For those of you who don't know, I have been passionate about fine art photography since I was 15-yrs-old. I was given an ancient camera, the tools to make my own roll of film, and a place to develop my images while at sleep-away camp. And I was hooked. The camp ended up using one of the first photos I took in one of their printed publications (see it here) and I've had it hanging on my wall as inspiration ever since. In the past few years, I've become equally as passionate about taking portraits, but have had to put that part of my business on the back burner for numerous reasons—moving, a difficult pregnancy, motherhood...to name a few. An artist (of many sorts) is what I am, through and through. It is something I work on daily, something I really believe I meant to do. So, help this starving artist make her dreams come true!

Thank you for your support!

Friday, November 16, 2012

life in motion

We aren't big on "baby holders" in our house, but Grandma brought this Jumperoo for Emerson and Emerson totally hearts it! 

A little happy baby to perk you up on a Friday afternoon...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

this is our life: on sex after baby

It's 4:00 in the afternoon on a weekday. Alex just got home from work. This means we have a half hour before it's time for one of us to start cooking dinner and then the bedtime routine begins. There is no leeway. Emerson is on a tight schedule and she lets us know that she is less than pleased when we deviate from her plan. So, a half hour is what we've got. Every time we have a window like this, I panic. These windows don't come around too often, so I obviously want to use this time wisely, but I've got a running list of about 789 different chores, business to-do's, emails to respond to, phone calls to make, and things I could do to just relax or enjoy myself so it's a tough call. I can't decide. 

Alex plops himself down on the futon in the playroom, looking completely defeated by his day at work. 

"Funky Town?" he asks with a deflated attempt at a wink. (Parenthood fans out there?)

I look at my husband. He hasn't had a haircut in almost two months. He used to go every two weeks, religiously, and I didn't realize how much I appreciated it until we moved to the middle of nowhere, had a baby, and he stopped looking in the mirror. He shaved his head over a year ago, thinking this would simplify things, but really it requires more maintenance in order to not look like a Chia Head. Falling in line with his lax approach to his appearance, he's also stopped shaving. Because, you can't have an unkept head and tidy beard. No. He's gone all Alexander Supertramp on me.

Then I see my reflection in the sliding glass doors of our sunroom. I'm wearing a pair of maternity yoga pants. It's been SIX MONTHS since I gave birth, and I am WELL beyond the still-kind-of-look-pregnant-and-need-maternity-pants phase. I just don't have any clean clothes. Or the time to raid my wardrobe in search of something else that does not say "Motherhood" or "Gap Maternity" on the label. So, I'm wearing maternity pants with the stomach panel folded down….several times. On top, I have a tee-shirt that is way too big, but it's a v-neck and makes for easy access to my boobs...for the baby. And then there's the sweater I grabbed without looking as Emerson was crying—a very Mr. Rogers-esque looking zip-up cardigan. Don't get me wrong, this cardigan can be cute when worn properly. But, with the aforementioned items of clothing, it's frumpy and shameful. It does, however, go well with my mess of hair—half curly, half straight due to a lack of styling time, unwashed for three days with random sections sticking up thanks to my daughter's love of pulling on and eating my hair.

"Sooo, Funky Town, babe?"

"Honestly, your beard is getting so long it smells like dreadlocks. I can't even talk about your hair. And I look like a bag lady. We're not very sexy. Maybe tomorrow?"

We both laugh, not in the least bit offended. 

"What happened to us?" Alex shouts out.

"We used to be so sexy!" I yell to the sky, one fist clenched.

Alex collapses back into his seat and closes his eyes while the baby plays on the floor beneath him. I use the half hour to do chores.

This is our life.

Monday, November 12, 2012

six months of emerson

My sweet baby is six-months-old today (get ready for a lot of photos!). And the past month has been insane. Insane, because Emerson has become a completely different child, and is no longer a "little baby" that we can plop down where ever we please and expect her and/or her surroundings to remain safe. And insane, because this has been the most taxing month (on mama) of all six months that Em-to-the-er-to-the-son has been alive. For real, people. I cannot count the number of times I've felt myself slipping toward the edge of insanity/delirium.

Emerson started sitting up at four-months, earlier than I expected, and decided at five-months to get up on all fours and go crazy (also much earlier than I expected). I was emailing with my aunt about Emerson the day it all began, and my aunt was telling me how my cousin started pulling herself up and crawling at five-months-old. When I read that, I had a feeling in my gut this was about to happen to me. Sure enough, that afternoon, Emerson got up on all fours and started rocking back and forth. What the? And she started pulling herself up (still not a pro at this, but can do it). Not to mention her curiosity has multiplied enormously. All of which means our house is a disaster and mama is exhausted. 

It's amazing what an impact such a small person can have on a house. Every room she enters is left a little bit destroyed. For example, this is how the dinning room looked by the time we finished dinner last night:

  • All napkins on the ground
  • Place mats missing
  • Table runner balled up and thrown to the side
  • Nine toys littering the floor
  • Hurricane vase centerpiece removed from the table after Emerson mistook it for a giant glass and tried to drink from it
  • Three piles of tissue paper crumpled up and half-eaten after Emerson removed them from a box that came in the mail
  • Baby shoes and sweatshirt discarded on table (by Emerson)
  • You get the point, etc. etc.

Most frustrating to everyone in the household right now is the fact that Emerson can only take a few steps forward or backward crawling. Emerson yells and cries as she practices and will. not. sleep. Because she's too obsessed with moving her body. Which means, mama isn't sleeping. Yes, I am more sleep deprived now than I ever was when Em was a newborn. My baby was born a good sleeper, but oh, how things have changed! The past month has been one long fight to get Emerson to go to sleep, night and day. 

I tried to reintroduce a little bit of coffee into my system (which means into my breast milk) to deal with the new state of affairs and girlfriend FLIPPED out. So, I'm apparently going to remain uncaffeinated for quite a while. And other than the ten months that I was pregnant, I have never been able to take naps during the day no matter how exhausted. I just lie there and never fall asleep, then end up more exhausted than before. It's absolutely maddening. So, I'm surviving all of this with no crutches, just brut strength (and a lot of homemade baked goods).

But, I love you, dear Emerson Winter. Even when I am empty and depleted, I will find some scrap of something special to give to you. I will give until I can give no more….and then, I will take a twenty-minute break….and give some more. I have one pair of old corduroy pants and a pair of yoga pants with a hole on the left butt cheek, to my name. My two closets full of rows and rows, piles and piles, of expensive clothes from my former life, will never fit me again. Because I gave my body to you, as well. I birthed you through these hips. And while I may miss the wardrobe a tad, I do not miss those old hips, because they could not birth a baby. And so, I wear the same two pair of tattered pants, both of which always seem to be dirty because I cannot afford to put them in the wash and be without, over and over. Because, I want you to have clothes first. I want you to have everything I have to give even when I am dizzy with frustration because you won't stop fussing and not sleeping and needing and and and. So, when you see me turn my back to you, stomp the floor and let out one loud, unintelligible noise, don't worry. Because, I am going to turn back around, pick you up, and tell you that you're doing a great job, that I am proud of you, that you should be patient with yourself, that you will crawl all the way across the room soon and it will be amazing.

Girl LOVES the guitar.

Daddy trying to speed along the crawling process.
The escape artist. Just turn to the side, push off 
with legs, and you are free from the harness….
although, you will end up head first on the floor, 
but that's okay.
You can sort of make out the fine hair growing on my
little baldie's head.

You see, first I pick this block up...
and then I throw it on the floor with
the others. And I stare at them all
down there….for a while.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

an honest voice

Yesterday, I quickly shot some words out of my brain and onto my computer screen, and hit "publish" before I could second guess any of it. Those words were thoughts….feelings, really….that I've been having for some time. Some part of me felt that if I made that little confession to the world, the Universe would answer. And it did. In the form of a lovely message from a lovely person that grew up in the same hometown as me. I've heard from this lovely lady several times since I became pregnant, and have felt so appreciative each and every time. I'm not sure we ever spoke back in our school days, but now we have something that unites us, something that makes us feel perfectly comfortable making confessions to one another: motherhood. Ah, the sisterhood of mamahood. It's very real, and so important. Long story short, I heard the message I needed to hear from the Universe through this wonderful mama: keep going.

So, here it is. I'm going to keep writing, and I'm going to continue to be real. Because, that's how I roll. If I had a mission statement (for this blog), it would look something like this:

Struggle permeates life. Though the struggle makes us human, we so often attempt to evade its presence. We pretend, we keep it to ourselves, we sometimes believe that we make it easier for others to be around us by hiding it. So much of the world is a polished version of itself. How can we relate to a polished version of reality? There is a reason television has been taken over by reality shows, why we've become so obsessed with celebrity gossip, why we read blogs. We're all in search of honesty, confessions, the imperfection that makes us all alike. 

I want to put an honest voice out there. That is why I write. I want to give others something to relate to, or at the very least, something that inspires others to be comfortable with their own honest truth. Specifically, right now, I feel compelled to share the truth of my journey through motherhood (and previously, pregnancy and birth). I hope that my honesty frees you, inspires you, or simply entertains you.

Thank you to all my readers! And thank you to the others who sent me nice messages yesterday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

confessions of a blogger

My muse
I've mentioned that one of the reasons I've been struggling to post lately is insecurity. Throughout my pregnancy and just after the birth, I felt good about this blog. I felt very inspired and was receiving a steady stream of positive feedback from readers, and felt like I was creating something. I've never been entirely sure what specifically I'm creating here, but it's always felt like part of my path so I continue to write. 

However, as the high of giving birth and having a new baby wore off, so did any sense of confidence in my writing. The truth is my confidence in a lot of things has been shaky for months. I've been hit by the much-expected-hoped-I'd-avoid-it identity crisis that so many mothers experience. Many days I find myself questioning my goals, my daily life, my outward appearance….basically, my entire existence. Nothing is spared. I have toyed with the idea of erasing my blog altogether on several occasions. But, I can't. At least not today. For today, I am writing this confession instead of erasing years worth of writing. I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings….

Thursday, November 1, 2012

this is our life: on improvising

Emerson is going through a new phase. She now fusses and cries from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every night, making dinnertime….challenging.  Most nights I'm not even sure what I ate, because this time has become a chaotic blur of try-to-distract-Emerson tactics. Our first attempt is Emerson's little tabletop seat with her tray piled high with toys. Emerson violently bangs said toys against the tray (and her head) and whirls them in every direction while blowing angry raspberries. Last night a rattle ended up on my plate. This situation quickly becomes unmanageable (and quite frankly, unsafe) for all involved. The next step is mama holding Emerson. Emerson digs her head into my shoulder, intermittently biting me (and occasionally giving me hickeys) and blowing slimy raspberries all over my neck. She pulls my hair. Attempts to detach my nose from my face. Grabs at my fork or smacks her hand down right in the middle of my rice. I tell Alex to eat faster, I give him looks of disbelief when he stops shoveling his food into his mouth for even a second. Emerson has had enough of sitting down. I stand up, press her cheek against mine, and ballroom dance with her (she loves this). After a few spins and dips, I toss her across the table into Alex's lap. He pretends she's flying, he stands her up on the table and makes her put on shows for me. I'm 3/4 of the way through my meal, but I can't handle the fussing (or at times, all out sobbing). I put down my fork. 

We all head upstairs—I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth while Alex takes Emerson into her room to change her diaper and put on her pajamas. This is the apex of the madness. Emerson wails as Alex tries to negotiate four flying limbs and somehow diaper a baby who is spinning over and over like a cyclone on the changing table. I cannot stand the tortuous cries of my baby for long so I decide to brush my teeth while standing next to her. The sight of mama calms her a bit, the fact that I'm brushing my teeth distracts her. She stares at me in silence for a moment, enormous tears painting her face, her eyelashes wet and matted together. Then she remembers she is being tortured and proceeds to sob. I cannot pick her up, because Alex is currently wiping her bum and she still has no pajamas on. And I need to brush my teeth so I can get in bed with her. She is bright red, I can see all the way down her throat as she cries a cry so mighty I wonder if she's in some sort of physical pain. On other nights, I've tried picking her up, calming her down, and then resuming the diapering/pajama-ing again. It doesn't work.

Panic. Panic. Panic. 

And then. With one hand I continue to brush my teeth. With the other hand, I free my right boob from my shirt, bend over the changing table and stick it in her mouth. Silence. Happiness. Emerson looks up at me with a surprised, but pleased look on her face as to say, "genius mom, pure genius." And there we are—a butt naked Emerson holding my boob with both hands and both her feet (yes, for real), Alex trying to get a diaper around a curled up baby body, me in some strange, downward dog type position with my boob dangling over my child's face….while I brush my teeth. I look at Alex, and mumble with a mouth full of foamy toothpaste, "annnnd, this is our life."

[So, I didn't quite demonstrate the art of brevity here, but you get the gist of this new series, right?]