August 30, 2010

And sometimes we use paper towels as napkins

paper towels

We forget, we get busy, lazy, more invested in preparing the meal and setting of the table to eat together as a family. Sometimes we use cloth napkins and sometimes we just use paper towels.

And we'll even put the whole roll on the table.


carter


Sometimes I'll get out my camera, because it's not just the special occasions I want to capture on film wait a second these are the special occasions.


noah

Every single meal together, every story they have to tell, every wild idea.


life hands


It makes the growing up and getting older and letting go a little less bitter and a whole lot more sweet.



August 28, 2010

On my hair, on being a minimalist, and there is a whole lot on my mind.

I haven't had a haircut since the end of January, I think. I'm not for sure but I'm pretty sure it's been that long. And if you saw my hair you'd actually think I took a nap under a tree for a few hundred years. (Or however that fable goes.)

Usually haircuts and colors matter a lot to me, but they aren't cheap, they cost a lot of money really. And I've seen my hairstylist for, almost 15 years? I can't go to someone else, so if I can't pay for her services then I'll wait until I can.

Sometimes if I really need color, like the greys are trying to escape in large parties, then I'll use something out of a box to temporarily cover & hope it holds me over for a while. But I glanced at myself in the mirror yesterday and saw the greys (to be honest, they are more of a silver) and I didn't cringe or feel sad that I need a hair makeover.

I actually felt comfortable. And not in the way that I've just "given up" but in the way that, HELLO IT'S HAIR and it's kind of beautiful au naturel this way.

Kind of how when I don't wear much makeup and I see the lines by my eyes in a photograph, where I'm smiling so big. Those things make me happy.

Maybe going simple is the new going green and I'm just all trendy, or what not, but it just makes sense in my heart. Not only responsibly- because obviously I can not justify spending money on getting my hair done if there are bills over due, but it makes me step back when I sometimes forget to take that step (or two, or three) back.

It makes me sad when you might look at someone and think, they need a makeover. Well, maybe you're (finger pointing at me) the one that needs the true makeover. In your brain.

Why do we have to have sooo much? And, not only so much, but new stuff. What if the old stuff still works fine, it's just outdated, or needs a little cleaning? And what are my kids learning from this always wanting more way of thinking? And why do I feel so duped because I thought I was better at this "stuff" stuff, yet I've gone along with it for so long... and I know better?


My kids won't be going shopping for back to school clothes. This does not make me sad. The same tees and shorts they've worn all summer long still fit and will work great until the cold weather comes. Then we'll see what doesn't fit from last year and we'll most likely buy second hand, or ask on Freecycle, or ask for Christmas gifts. They don't need much. We don't even have very many drawers in our house to fit a lot, anyway. And I'm always doing laundry, so what if Ivy wears the same dress several times a week? She happens to love that dress. And so do I.


And same with me. I have a couple skirts and tees that I feel really good in. Why do I need more than that... to satisfy a need for belonging? For looking like more than what I really have, or really am on the inside? Am I contributing to the big huge myth that I am okay because I have a nice appearance but I'm really one big fat faker on the inside?

This is the stuff that tugs at my thinker in the night and wrestles me into my pillows.

I've really become thankful for our cloth diapers in the recent tight times. Not having to buy diapers is wonderful. I really hadn't noticed the payoff so much until now, when I need it the most.

We already ate pretty healthy, but bypassing convenience foods for homemade really does lighten the grocery bill. "Fruit snacks" to my kids are: fresh grapes, kiwi, orange slices, apples... you know, fruit as a snack.

Eating out at restaurants or via drive thru isn't even an option.

But how excess and short cuts have stolen from fulfillment in my life in the past. I notice it every time I peel an egg, snap green bean, pour the batter, something in my soul is awakened, is set afire.

Saying this is right for you.

With four kids we already sought out cheap or free activities, so local parks, the beach, libraries (why buy books when you can check them out for free??), our own back yard (literally), they are our favorite.

Sure, to many this stuff is booo-ring. And requires PATIENCE: we might have to wait for the book or movie we want, we might have to save up for a while until we go to the zoo, we might have to slow the heck down,

but why in my heart do I think my kids see that as a bad, undesirable thing? Someday they will for sure find out that no matter how fast-food this life is, not everything can be had or bought or worked for in an instant.

I want them to have time to appreciate, to know how to appreciate without being told, to marvel, to delight in the moon and not the image of a moon on a computer screen, but the real-live moon outside on our lawn!

I want them to be able to speak, or put pencil to paper, or even fingers to keyboard and communicate and share thoughts that are their very own, with people that can receive them. And to those people that can't hear it, or won't, may their words leave them asking questions and a desire to know more.


There will always be something new, to temporarily cover- and we'll hope it holds us over for a while...

but how much longer do we really have?

August 27, 2010

There Is A Story Behind This One

not what you think

Oh where do I start?

Well, you know one of my best friends, Beth (also of Beth Fletcher Photography)? She took some photos of our family recently and when we were done, she asked if there was anything I wanted specifically, and I had this wild idea- what if we all lied down in the grass and made the shape of a heart? Would that work? Wouldn't that be kinda cool? She was SO up for at least trying.

I didn't think there was much of a possibility of getting the kids to participate successfully but we tried anyway. I mean, they would have to lie still, after a hot morning photo shoot, but let's go for it.

The resulting photo above is 1) disturbing, 2) not a heart shape, and 3) amazing, because everyone stayed still!

Also 4?) I am so tempted to send in to Awkard Family Photos. What do you think? Want to start thinking up some captions for this one? I'd love to hear them.
Maybe you'll win a prize.

Beth and I just about passed out from laughing SO HARD, naming it all sorts of morbid things, what were we thinking? and oh man, life life life life life is full of stuff just like this and I AM SO GLAD.


I posted and wrote about the (less nightmarish) photos that Beth took of the kids here today, and if you peek around at the galleries on her shiny and new website BethFletcherPhotography.com you'll see some more, too.

Also, if you "like" Beth Fletcher Photoraphy on Facebook, you'll be entered to win a photography session and free photos. Details here.


August 25, 2010

free as a bird now

freebird


She's not yet two, but she puts her head back and closes her eyes

and excites at the wind and freedom

already

and this makes me so so so very very happy.


August 24, 2010

The Last Hurrah

tire swing


I wear flip flops and the mulch clothes my feet in a permanent film, of summer.
It's on their faces, It's on my kitchen floor, I wipe it away but it won't.


look up


It's there until the leaves freefall from branches.
And pencils are sharp, and books smell like sour and library. We do one last park day of the season's vacation. And walk through a secret trail to the school, and the boys find out who their teachers will be.



someday maybe
He said, this is where you'll come someday.


And I thought, in my (head)(heart), I'm not so sure about that. Maybe I'll homeschool her after all. Though, there's no time nor room in my head for those thoughts today.


the original four square
Foursquare



stay there

Blinkety blinkety blink

don't

blink.





August 23, 2010

Girlfriend

ivybar


I had a fun getaway, just me and my girl.

Yesterday morning we woke up and packed the car for home and left Casey's, then headed to downtown Indy. We drank iced coffee and walked around like tourists.

twogether
Peeking in the windows at the Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument.


We have conversations, she talks so well. She's my girl friend.



[funny side note: Emily watched her on Saturday during my session and Ivy called her Mom the whole time.] (She calls me Mama or Mommy, so that's ok.)


We took time to visit with my lovely friend Erin and saw her newly homebirth-ed baby Hal.

On the way home we stopped at a rest area and got candy from the vending machine. Ivy got Skittles and I got a very very melted peanut butter Twix.

We ate them in the car. It was a good time.


*******************

Here's some answers to your questions that I covered in my session about Mom Blogging:


Q. From Calm In The Kitchen, Although my blog is more of a cooking blog, I think the same question would apply. How do you find the time? I have a 4,2, and 4 month old. As I type this I am holding my last while my middle one points at the computer and tries to push every button.

A. I know this very well. I know my answer isn't necessarily the best or right one, and it's something I'm still working on after almost five years of blogging. I stay up way too late, sneak in moments here and there when the kids are resting or playing well together (which if I let it could steal away a whole day). I've been known to furiously scratch posts on the back of the water bill envelope, and occasionally in a real life notebook, but I'm not very disciplined about it and I wish I was. If you are the type of person that can schedule in a set time- go for it.

To me, it's also important to make time not only to write on your blog, but to maintain it and also be engaged with your readers, reading their blogs as well as other blogs you love, commenting when you can (I read a lot from my iphone but only get the chance to comment on a few at a time.) This might happen only once a week or once a month or once every 3 months- whatever works for you.


Q. From Arrows Sent Forth, My question would be what advice you might give to someone just starting out (my blog is about 2 months old). Most of the resources I have found are full of techie jargon that this rookie mom blogger doesn't even come close to understanding.

A. Most of my session was for beginning bloggers. Some of the main tips I have is to ignore the techy stuff as long as you can. LOL. I admit I am still in the dark ages to many of my peers, but I don't care. So a big tip would be: don't stress about it. Write, write, write, and write about something you love or are passionate about. If you want more readers, I suggest reading and commenting on blogs you like with similar readerships as you. Engage, participate in blog carnivals: every day of the week some blog some where is having a big ol' link up (some examples: Not Me! Monday, Tuesdays Unwrapped, Wordless Wednesday, You Capture (on Thursdays), Bigger Picture Moment, etc etc.)

If you participate, be sure to not only link up your own posts, but comment on others when you can, and definitely comment on the blog that you link up on. (Pet peeve is when I see someone hosting a carnival and they have 100+ linked up and only 30 comments. What's up with that?)

One other thing about just starting out as a blogger: keep it in perspective. Remember you are only 2 months in and many of the blogs you read have been blogging for years. You shouldn't expect to have as many readers, followers, commenters, opportunities, etc. as those that have put so much time into it already. Be patient and be yourself. It will come.

Get yourself to a blog conference if you can. Contrary to what many might think, conferences are not just for the serious and professional "big time" bloggers. I've found that most of the information offered is often for newbie bloggers anyway. The big time bloggers just show up to do the teaching and socializing (and many go because it makes them feel important). :P

ShePosts.com keeps a great list of the conferences and bloggy happenings going on, and for any of you that do want to get into the technical side of things, She Posts along with Jennifer James from Mom Bloggers Club offer a free eBook: From Blog To Business.


Q. From MommieV, My question would be ... suggestions for building blog readership. I have kindof a "niche" blog - I write mostly about cloth diapers and our day-to-day lives. I'm also a single mother by choice, so I have a bit of a following in that group. I have joined a couple of groups, but I'm having a hard time building up numbers on readers and followers.

A. I'd suggest finding a blog carnival (as mentioned above) that fits your niche, and if there isn't one already, maybe think about starting one. It could even be something like how I have the Babywearing Blogger button- a blogroll for like-minded bloggers to find each other. Also, read and comment on blogs similar to you. Set up google alerts for a specific topic that you like to read and write about and go over and comment, engage.

Include your blog address in your email signature and when you're commenting on other websites and forums. Have blog cards made up that you can pass out in playgroups or when you're out and about- maybe even ask local stores relevant to your blog to set out your cards.

And again, give it time. Growing gradually and organically feels so much better and is more likely to last vs. a forced or "manufactured" blog.


Q. From DesignHERMomma (aka to Ivy as "Mom"), At what point in your "blogging" career did you feel that you met that tipping point? The point where you realized that others were reading, not just your mom and closest friends. What was the main contributor to getting to that point?

A. It was the spring of 2007- I'd been blogging about over a year and I joined the Ultimate Blog Party on 5 Minutes For Mom. I got a TON of comments (and back then, that was a TON of comments). And some people stuck around. Around that same time I was asked to be on a panel with a few other Mom bloggers at GOOGLE. That was a turning point for me, for sure!

THEN, I have to say, when I blogged my pregnancy and homebirth with Ivy, that got many readers invested and wanting to follow our story. Not that I'd ever suggest you have babies to help your blog, but anyway...


Q. From Hershey's Moma,
Very new to blogging and I have my followers turned off. Should I turn it on if I indeed want more to stop by??

A. If you do want more readers then I definitely recommend making it easy for people to follow your blog- turn your followers on, make your RSS (that funky little pink rainbow-ish icon in my left sidebar) subscription easily accessible, make your comment button easy to find, etc. Also, if you can, visit your readers' blogs and comment.



My Blog Indiana session was also live-blogged by @natfinn - I'm afraid some of the snippets could be taken wrong out of context so if you happen to read it and scratch your head about something, please ask me about it before making assumptions.



Toodles.

August 22, 2010

sweet pea

lulu in her seat
In the back of a session, "sitting still"


movement
taking off, over the auditorium seats.



loopyloo
Can you see her now?


I woke up in the night and looked at her, (marveled), she stirred and
pressed into my chest, her arms around me, hand on my hair, and I knew I'd made the right decision to bring her here.



August 19, 2010

This happened today.

I had the crazy idea of taking my very pregnant friend and her toddler - and all my kids - to a new beach today, one that had parking, oh, like, a mile away. (I'm probably exaggerating.) (But really I'm not.) And also the sand was so hot that Gray and I literally burned the bottoms of our feet.

Why the others were spared? I do not know. But we have blisters. Blisters! I tell you.

And truth be told,

Love is... :)

(while the beach was awesome and the kids had a blast swimming and throwing playing with sand and rocks),


le chapeau de bon chance


The biggest hit was the wash your feet thingy, by our cars, in the parking lot, like a mile from the beach.



love, hands, butterlfly on his hat

And while we were at the wash your feet thingy, a butterfly hitched a ride on Asher's hat- do you see it?

ah!


And she stayed on a long time, until she realized what she was getting into, with all the splashing and such.



wash your feet thingy

Isn't that just like life?

I love it.



*********
Tomorrow (Friday) I'm heading to Indianapolis for the Blog Indiana conference. I'm speaking about Mom Blogging on Saturday morning 10:15 EST and I do believe you can catch my session live somewhere- try here.

I have a favor, could you let me know in the comments if there's a question you might have about Mom Blogging? If you would rather keep it between us, please feel free to email me at stephanie.precourt [@] gmail.com.

I'll be staying at Chez Moosh In Indy and Emily of DesignHER Momma is so generously watching Ivy for me during my session!!

I'm so thankful.


August 18, 2010

We Are [Big] Family


we share
We always bring enough to share.


When I'm running late for the park, microwave popcorn tossed into paper bags is a perfect treat. (PS I'm almost always running late.) (Also, if you're
really running late and forget your water bottles, McDonald's drive thru doesn't charge for large ice water. The kids might not be too happy about only getting water but they get over it.)

kids five
we also go barefoot sometimes.

My kids get sticks in their shoes, or they run faster with them off, and so, I let them take them off. My friend and I take ours off sometimes, too. We get dirty. So what.

We also love each other. (See Gray's tender touch on Bianca's head? And some sweet hand-holding in the photo below?)

mayem on the slide

I was thinking about my kids and wondering how other big families "do the friend thing". Are siblings enough? I've found I prefer to be together as a group with other families vs. just a one kid from the class type of thing, where you might never really know the parents. Or the kid.

We don't all go to the same churches, or live in the same neighborhoods, but we love raising our kids together, to be loving and know love.

Friends that blur the line with family and you kind of forget

that

you're not really related.

But to me

we are.


kid family
we are a big friendfamily


I'm breathless at the beauty of these children.



smashup




August 17, 2010

Augustus

I put my photos in folders with special names for each month, and I named this month Augustus.

beach legs


I've decided that August evenings at the beach are my favorite. Just like running, I feel this desire deep down, like a chain from my heart to my stomach to just go to there. And as soon as the waves are within vision, I feel relief. I am better. It called to me and I came.


k5
[they almost always initiate the hand-holding]


k2
[she is courageous]


k3
[he runs and yells into the water like a muppet]


k4
[they gathered rocks in tee shirts]



August 16, 2010

Return To Sender

Yesterday I attended Jenny's baby's "baptimes" (Noahspeak) yesterday in Chicago. I decided to take just Noah with me, "like a date!"

We stopped by Starbucks on the way, he loves a vanilla bean frappuccino. And I, an iced latte. We listened to Elvis, I told him about today being the anniversary of his death. (It was a day always remembered when I was growing up.)


He kept track of the time on his watch, and reminded me when we needed to feed the meter. He showed me he knows how to spin a quarter.

And when it was time for cake, I made sure he got a really big piece.


spinning quarters



August 14, 2010

In the 'Cago

my bed, all to my self
[I kinda miss this, a lot]

I was away for a couple days, only one night, but it was not like me to go somewhere by myself, and I was nervous. Nervous to be on my own, meet new people, not feeling super confident about my appearance, etc. That was also not like me.


me me me
[glasses, pony tail, this is me.]

I didn't take any photos outside of my hotel room. But I did love my room (at The Wit Chicago- literal next door neighbor to the Chicago Theatre.) I was on a business trip (I feel like I can say that, because I am getting paid in real money.)

felt headboard
[the headboard, worth a photo]

When I lived in Chicago, my most vivid memories are of the hot summer. But I didn't feel any of them flooding back like I expected. There was the el right outside my window, but even that didn't spark anything in my heart. It's like, I'm a grown up now. And while I sometimes miss those days, I look back and am so glad I got through them. And that they're over.

out my window


Jeff didn't email or text me about the kids, like, the whole night. I indulged in a bubble bath and my big bed all to myself and then I hopped up and opened the curtains, with the city lights pouring in, and then crawled back into a dozen pillows. I didn't like not hearing from home. At that moment I would have given anything to just see the kids asleep in their beds. I saw it in my mind, but wanted to see it in real life. And I couldn't.


I ended up calling hubs in the morning and everyone was fine. They'd slept well, and Ivy kept asking if I was at the store "Mommy at the stow?" and then she'd say "Oh, Mommy in the 'cago."

When I got home after midnight last night, I woke her up to relieve my breast(s) and nursed her like she was two days old. Only, it felt like I was holding a teen-ager.

We crawled into bed, with the sheets that won't stay on the corners, and a pile of laundry on the floor. And I decided to stop trying to make friends with time. And we just made peace instead.


August 12, 2010

every day

Morning, curtains

Every morning I sit on my couch facing this window and the sun shines through, every morning, casting shadows from the dogwood bush outside.


It's something so little, so simple, but I love it. It's like a gift.

I remember choosing those curtains (I've been meaning to replace them for a long time now)- they were supposed to be just temporary in a near-end pregnancy fit I was having before Ivy was born. I had to have new curtains. I drove my big belly and three small children all over town, even to one store three times because I kept exchanging for a different style. (I had ironed each set, too.)

Last night at dinner I was telling the kids all about my little business trip tonight to Chicago and what I'll be doing tomorrow. Gray wanted to know if I'll win a reward? Like a trophy?

Carter hoped my prize would be a treasure! Or a fortune! A fortune is worth more than anything else in the world.

Then they all decided that actually fortune cookies would be the most awesome prize of all


Little do they know that they are my treasure, my fortune.
Every day.



[And now, how could we not watch this video together? Hugs!
]




You Capture: everyday things

August 11, 2010

Bad Radio

shorelyAlign Center

I feel like I was
made to be a mother, but I suck as a wife.

It does not come easy for me.



Why am I sharing this on the Internet?

Because I feel really alone in this.


jumper

Yesterday I had the sad. But I finally got out of my head and made a really excellent decision, if I must say so myself.

Before dinner, we got the whole house straightened up, during dinner the kids packed up the car, and then after dinner I cleaned up the kitchen. We took our time, we didn't rush. And then I took them to the beach.

We listened to bad radio. Songs with all beat and not much substance. Noah sat up front. We nodded our heads and swayed our shoulders to dance along, in the car. It made me feel good.

The sun was setting and the sand was like the big hug I was waiting for all day. Ivy ate grapes out of her dress pocket, because her hands were sandy. We stayed until dark, when we were the only people left.

[arms] out to sea

I wish I could stop substituting for sanctuary, for imitation relaxation, settling for sub-par, when this is right here the water crashing to the shore, in real life.

I've got lots of things to work on.


August 9, 2010

But who will point out the good parking spaces?

Gray & Abby

Hubs has always told the boys that when they grow up, they have to have a job first, before they can get married. And somehow over time the boys have added that they are going to need a car before getting married, too.


But, in Gray's little (or, really, not so little) mind he was confusing the meaning of it all, and today in the bathtub he was thoughtful, and finally asked, "do I HAVE to get a wife when I get a car?"

Because he really just wants a car. A Jeep that he can drive to church, to be exact.


photo: an outtake of Gray and my niece Abby from photos for my Mom's birthday post.


August 8, 2010

begonia skies

meitai lover


I'm officially diagnosing myself physically and mentally exhausted. I've been up since 3 am and for the past several days (which really feels like weeks) my nights have been in constant interruption, from all things motherhood related, [of which I am keenly aware I totally signed up for], but I'll get to that another time.

I wrote about the commune I want to live in, here. I would like to add that in a perfect world, it will include lots of glorious sleep-filled nights and lazywarm siestas. And sleepy, neversick children. That sleep.

Also, in a fit of being overly emotional, I declare my love for the mei tai. It's been the baby carrier that has stood the test of time, and as I am asked over and over, I'll say it again and again: a good ring sling and mei tai has met my needs, above and beyond, in all my babywearing days.



[comments closed, would heart your comments here instead.]


[PS sometimes your questions can be answered by clicking on the photo. I try to give extra gems of info on flickr from time to time.]



August 6, 2010

Contentment

chalk drawrings

Tonight there was a swarm of dragonflies that kept circling around us as we played outside. There were about eight of them, and they'd fly so fast they'd crash into each other, their wings tangling and clicking.


(I tried to catch one, with my broom and then my rake. Only to look at, not to kill.)

(I was unsuccessful. Those things fly fast.)

I have no idea why they were around us. My only explanation was that they liked our psychedelic chalk drawrings.

Gray wanted to know what dragonflies eat, so we googled it. This is also how I found out that dragonflies swarm where their food is favorable : mosquitoes. [Please stay, dragonflies.]

There was no mention of chalk drawrings.


I went on a run and it was happy, one of those this is good for me runs, and there was a confidence in my form, my head was high, even the sky obliged, with that look of where the horizon looks like land meeting sea, the clouds could be sky and the sky mistaken for clouds. Or mountains. And I let my imagination trick me, and go there, like those 3D posters, because it was pretty.

On my run I got a call that my laptop was ready, all fixed and since Goldentech is literally down the street from my house, I had just run by, so I turned around and ran/walked back and picked it up. Then I walked home because I was certain if I ran I'd drop my laptop, and two guys walked by me and I crossed the street because it was getting dark and I was carrying my laptop, yo.

I made it home and felt so much better. Happy, really.

Because I ran, and it felt good, and all the songs on my ipod were like little gifts, and I got my laptop back, and I had a good talk with hubs, and I felt confirmation on a certain decision I made about this weekend.



I leave you with the notsosecret secret that I want to visit Paris again for a long holiday, maybe even move there. With the kids of course. I'm brushing up on my French, in the meantime.

Ou la la and que sera sera.


Do you like my moustache?

ivy incognito

WANT: to be [both] invisible and dancing in attention's spotlight.

hachacha

pure

known but not known for being known.

can u see me?

understand the reality of life, and the serious need to still have fun. and enjoy. and live.

for the Very ImPortant moments hiding behind a moustache on a stick.



[My laptop has a virus again. I'm feeling kind of blue and conflicted and blah. The above post was originally published April 2010 and brought to my attention again recently by my friend Elizabeth and I felt like posting it today.]

[I hope you're having a better day, even if it's just starting right now, like me.]



August 5, 2010

Big Wheel In The Sky

bigwheels
Note the pony tail, and the pointed toe. :)


When I was a little girl I had a Powder Puff and my brother had a Big Wheel.

One day I left my crayons out on the picnic table, and they melted and burned my fingers.

Another time I left my purple Miss Piggy watch on the picnic table overnight (even though I remember my Mom telling me not to) and in the morning it was floating in our little swimming pool, ruined. I always thought someone had come into our backyard and put it in the pool. Why would anyone do that? I thought it was so mean. But now I realize that it probably blew off the picnic table, and into the pool. Maybe.


A boy across the street used to give me puffy stickers, and one time I was playing on his swing set - he had the really tall one with the big slide and the bench/glider swing. When we were at the top of the slide he KISSED ME - on the cheek! And I was so mad. I slid down and ran all the way home and I think I told my Mom I was sick and I threw away all the stickers he gave me.

bigwheels2



These were taken with my iphone. I've been really lazy with my big camera lately. But eh, it's summer.

I keep promising the boys we can set out some crayons to melt. We should do that, the sun is out today.


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