Monday, June 30, 2014

MORE TIME

With our children, we welcome the next milestone with anticipation. Naturally. But I’m feeling this overwhelming desire to push back. My “bigs” are pre-teens…on their way to becoming a young lady and a young man. Not that I’ve given up on keeping them young and innocent, because I do still try, but they simply won’t let themselves be babied anymore. So, my hope for Reef and Ripley, is that they continue being my babies for a really…really long time. I want a million more open-mouthed kisses. I want to hold their chubby wee hands in the palm of mine a gazillion more times. Hear their high-pitched little giggles…well, forever.


When the “bigs” were babies, I would wake in the middle of the night to watch them sleep. To hear them breathe. I was, also, so incredibly caught up in fear that someone might take them from me. Not so much a someone. But, the world. Therefore, I didn’t want to miss a second of their completely amazing existence.

I had heard "Sunrise, Sunset." I'd been warned there would be a time to let go and that the moment would be bittersweet. But I pictured this letting-go happening once, maybe twice: on my child's first day of school, and the day he drove off to college.

But in fact the act of letting go is gradual. Every year, I find myself mourning my son's slow exit from childhood. I can hardly look at photos of our now-14-year-old as a toddler without a lump forming in my throat. I miss the child he was; I want to hold on to the kid he is now. And just when I think I grasp who he is this second, he changes again.



Years have passed. Flewn by, in fact. And I believe in my heart that I absorbed every waking moment with them during their infancy and throughout their toddler years. But between the ages of 6-9 it’s somewhat of a blur. Divorce happened. We moved around 2-3 times, changed schools, changed friends…changed routines. Sometimes, I think to myself that I might even have lost focus during those years. The focus for what was most important…togetherness. Looking back, I somewhat remember one kid in the office on the computer, another kid in her bedroom playing with toys, and I lounging, reading a book or doing some other independent task. We weren’t engaging with one another as much as we should have been. And that’s entirely my fault. As a single mom, I felt I had to run a pretty tight ship. Or so I thought. This mother, formerly a tender voice and gentle touch, turned into a ship captain, marking orders and managing my crew. It was all about proving to myself and everyone else that “I totally got this.” I needed nothing and NO ONE. But working late nights and weekends as a Finance Controller and coming home to cook dinner and clean house and catch up on laundry and feed animals and help with homework and chauffeur kids to & from sports and paying bills, and then waking up the next day to do it all over again, became a routine that left little or no time for chatting it up with the kids and wrestling and crafts and snuggling and game night and just simply immersing myself in their world. THEIR world. Because I was too caught up in mine. Regularly stressed, often exhausted and void of true joy. This lie of being in control is insidious. 

Writing that makes me weepy.

Knowing the pure desire of my heart, God blessed me again with another “little.” And another one after that. A new “sunrise.” In so many ways, they've awakened the loving, free-spirited woman of my twenties. I find myself trying to see the world through their eyes…the complexity and size of everything around them, the love they possess for their family, all the way down to Reef's “mankies”, that locking himself in a pitch black bathroom is scary because it’s the absence of everything he knows and loves, that even the Chewbaca and rhinocerous and musical Santa Claus sitting on the shelves are as real as our friends, that the opportunity to go outside and run is what real freedom feels like…unlike our adult selves, these “littles” take nothing for granted.



The bigs are at an age where I find myself pleading, “Wait, please, I'm not ready!” I want to say. “Give me a couple more years, at least.”

But every now and then they forget we're connected, or pretend to, and they’ll morph into a slightly younger version of themselves. On those days, I’m usually quiet, taking it all in, but sometimes we’ll talk about the future and what it might bring. They’ll tell me about all the adventures he/she can't wait to begin, and while talking I notice how much taller he/she seems, or how much more grown-up his/her face is beginning to look. It's as if I can already see the next older version of them, somewhere up ahead.

I listen, and I hold on a little tighter.






Saturday, June 28, 2014

FRIENDLY REMINDER


God’s plan is always the best. Sometimes, the process is painful and hard, but don’t forget that when God is silent, He’s doing something for you.





Thursday, June 26, 2014

QUOTES & SUCH

I am drawn to good quotes... I am! Reading something that you have felt in your heart, yet someone else says it perfectly. I love that. So, going through Pinterest right now and love this quote so much... "In the end, three things that matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

Another one that resonates with me is this one: "to thine own self be true." I even have a neat little bracelet of this very quote.

Every once in a while, someone will suggest that I write a book. But that’s not my intention with my writing. I don’t even use grammar correctly in a lot of cases, because this is my dialogue. My compilation of thoughts and memories, often written just they are felt, heard, or said. I just don’t view a book in the same way.

Ah, this is a good one, too: "Sometimes what you're most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free."

I think a very many of us are scared to put dreams into fruition. Especially in this competitive and judgmental world of ours. When everyone can see you succeed, or even worse…fail.



Tell me, friend, what dream are you most of afraid of doing?





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

NEWBORN | 05.31.14






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

{meet my guest} MARCH 2 DECEMBER






Give us a little background about who you are and what you do.
I am a 30 year old wife & mom. My life consists of working full time, trying to get healthy, loving who I am, and having fun with my guys. I am an avid digital scrapbooker who is obsessed with panda bears and the color yellow. I also love college football (Go Dawgs!). I am that person who always has some form of camera out. I think documenting our lives is one of the great things about the technology we have toady. 

What sparked your interest with blogging?
I had a scrapbooking blog. Where I posted sales and the newest things. When I was 29, I thought a personal blog documenting my last year in my 20s would be fun.

Has being a blogger changed your life? How?
It has! I have "met" some great women who I talk to on a nearly everyday basis. I have learned new things and shared new things for others to learn. 

What is your most popular post?

What advice might you have for new bloggers?
Have fun! Don't worry about STATs, and blog about what you want and like. Reach out to other bloggers, genuinely. Utilize twitter, like mad. 


You can follow La'Shawn via all her social networks:

Monday, June 23, 2014

THE VULNERABILITY OF MOTHERHOOD



Wee One: [humming] “mmm…mmmm….mmmmmmmm”
Daddy: “is that good juice, Reef?”
Wee One: “Yes, Daddy. Yummy in my tummy.”
Daddy: “What kind of juice are you drinking?”
Wee One: [looks down and studies the picture on the front of the carton] “Butterfly juice, Daddy.”

[sigh]

I'm often prompted lately to tell people his age. He turns 3 next month, and just before I respond with "he's three," I pause, clear my throat and answer, "he'll be three late July." 

I loved his infancy and his one's, but the two's blew me out of the water. So much awe and discovery and growth and vocabulary. He's so much fun to be around! I'd rather hang out with him than an adult any day of the week. Forget wine and steak dinners...I much prefer fruit snacks anyway.

I've never met a more well-mannered two-year old. This kid never misses an opportunity to bless you after a sneeze (even a room away) or extend thank you's. I kiss him and how does he respond, "sank you mommy!" And if he tests the waters and pokes you with one of his golf clubs, and your reaction to that is "ouch," he's quick to run up offering hugs and apologies, "sossy mommy."

All My Happy Endings chronicles the journey that changed me most. 


It is on this blog, in that first post, that I entered into the world of perpetual vulnerability.  Here, where I have experienced more insecurity and heartsickness and wild love than I had ever known in my entire life.
Just a couple years later, and I’m still reeling from the effects.
It has taken me this long to accept that I will never recover. 
The vulnerability of motherhood is what ails me. It is what drives my anxiety and the swallowing down of my worst fears. It is what finds me, begging God above to make me capable of protecting my children and raising them with love and goodness inside. It is a lesson every day in humility, in letting go, in digging in. I will never get used to it. 
But it is the love of motherhood that cures me. It forces me to do more good than I was ever capable of doing on my own. To be stronger than I want to be. To live outside my own narrow point of view. To speak up despite my weakness. Everything… better, more deeply, passionately.. for them.  
It is all written down here.  All the times I’ve been lost. And all the ways my children found me.





Friday, June 20, 2014

MORE POWERFUL THAN FEAR


There is only one thing more powerful than fear; it’s love.

From birthing babies to marrying my best friend (not necessarily in that order), I have been scared to death of both. But love conquered fear. Risking it all on an outrageous God-sized dream was driven by love for God and love for others. Audacious love for others is where we walk in freedom from being afraid.

Do you know what really happens when we look fear in the face?

We live a courageous life. Not because we are brave, but because God is gloried in our weakness.


Do what scares you today.





Thursday, June 19, 2014

LANGUAGE UNFOLDING


This sweet boy. Only one breath away from turning three and is quite clearly in the midst of a massive vocabulary awakening. 

He’s  always been verbal. But he went from putting three and four words together to putting complete thoughts and sentences together regularly – and often. 

It’s so rad how I can almost see his language unfolding before my very eyes. Sure I’m hearing it unfold but to watch his as he's able to communicate what he wants to say – it's amazing. This look of satisfaction and relief that washes over him, like he's getting what he wants to say out and it feels so good. We’re conversing on a whole new level and I can see how pleased he is with the results. Of course it's just as gratifying for me as it is him.

And don't even get me started on the adorable shape of his sweet little mouth when he's saying his words in his mushy little way. Suffice to say it's delicious. 

This week, we have been pushing bedtime to 9 o’clock sometimes 9 thirty,  just happy as a clam and ready to talk about everything. Anything and everything. It is no doubt the sweetest – albeit slightly exhausting – thing in the world. It’s always a rapid-fire, stream of consciousness discussion that just has to come out. Like he just couldn't keep his thoughts in for one more second so until he got them all out then he was able to rest.

I’m worried that we’ve started a new precedent. I’ll be honest, his curious, breathy little voice describing his every thought in the dark of his bedroom? Some seriously happy moments. 





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MATERNITY | 06.14.14






Tuesday, June 17, 2014

{meet my guest} KELLY @ THE LITTLE THINGS


Give us a little background about who you are and what you do.
I'm Kelly, the mama behind The Little Things.  I'm a mother to my sweet little boy Gavin, aka Mr. G, and wife to my loving husband.  I'm also a fur-mama to our very destructively curious kitty, Tybalt otherwise known as Mr. Tibbs.  I love the Lord and feel that he has filled every day with beauty and joy; you just have to be willing to see it.  I'm a stay at home mom by day, a dance teacher by night, a crafter in between, and a photographer on the side. I do a little bit of everything because I love to create.  

What sparked your interest with blogging?
When my son was born I had every intention of being so full of love and new life.  So much joy and wonder over my new little bundle of adorableness.  This didn't happen.  While I loved my son more than I thought possible, I suffered from postpartum depression.  I stopped eating, I could barely get out of bed, I needed an outlet.  I had always found joy and comfort in creating, in any form, that I thought writing a blog may help and I ended up being right!  I was able to find not only other moms but a whole community of wonderful, God loving people!  Blogging brought me back to the real world and out of my PPD hazed mind.

What is your favorite DIY project for 2014?
So far I think my favorite project from this year has to be my DIY spring wreath. Even though it's summer now, I have no intention of taking it down.  I love the colors and it makes me happy just to look at it! I've also really been getting into my new "Easy Eats" posts.  I'm not much of a cook but I can whip up something tasty every now and then.

Care to share any do’s and don’ts of photography?
If you have a DSLR camera, always use the continuous shot feature.  I'm mainly a child photographer so it really helps to catch those spontaneous moments in between.  But it helps with any kind of photography.  It's the candid moments in between the posing that make for some of my best photos.

Don't worry about capturing "the shot".  If you worry about getting the perfect shot/pose, it won't happen. Especially with children.  Most of them hate having their picture taken, or just have no desire to do what you want them to.  Keep snapping away and, usually, more than one will surprise you.

Might there be a shop discount for readers of All My Happy Endings?
My Etsy shop, Knock Knock Shoppe, would be happy to offer 20% to All My Happy Endings readers! Use the code HAPPY20 at checkout! (code ends July 1st)


So HAPPY to be here on All My Happy Endings!





Friday, June 13, 2014

PREPARING FOR A FIRST PHOTO SESSION

The most important step, and probably most difficult, is selecting a photographer. There are so many talented artists out there, which makes it tough to narrow it down to one. Here are a few things to think about:
  • Determine if you want studio portraits or on-location outdoors somewhere. Many photographers specialize in one or the other.
  • Look for someone with an artistic eye who is willing to listen to your ideas and knows how to elaborate upon them.
  • If children or babies are involved, focus more on the photographer’s personality – someone who relates well to children.
  • Price is huge! You do not have to choose an uber expensive photographer in order to receive great photos.

Gone are the days of white shirts or black shirts paired with blue jeans. That ship has sailed! Leave it be. Instead, with a little planning, dress your family in neutrals and/or pastels. Just try to avoid uniforms.


Discuss with your photographer beforehand, the location you prefer and props necessary, if any. Sometimes, photographers and their clients fail to take the reins on either of the aforementioned aspects, and then everyone shows up clueless to the expectations of the other. Below is a list of things either the photographer or client might bring with them to a shoot:
  • Quilt / blanket
  • Scrabble tiles
  • Flowers
  • Chalkboard / sign
  • Empty frame
  • Basket
  • Ladder
  • Pet dog
  • Chair / chaise
  • Sonogram

Tongue and cheek, I might kindly mention that you bribe your kids. I know with my own kids, a photo session is not their idea of a good time. And it’s not entirely up to your photographer to help them pose, smile or behave (though a fun photographer will entice them to do just that). Nevertheless, a little bribery never hurt anyone. And who doesn’t like ice cream anyway?

To gain interest from your children, involve them in the planning process – show them pictures on Pinterest, have them collect and gather props, and let them help choose their attire. Offer them breaks throughout the shoot if necessary, and occasionally remind them of ice cream. J


Final suggestion…be yourselves and have fun! 





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