• Gratitude
  • Day 20 & 21: Humor & Quality Time.

    Yesterday was a crazy day. I somehow thought it’d be a good idea to host an Agnes & Dora online pop-up in my group, and it was a huge success. But that success translated into hours of work, invoicing and packaging, interacting with customers and answering questions. I was getting a little stressed out, it was late and I had missed dinner (HANGRY!). so, yeah, I was getting cranky.

    Then comes in my youngest, Alise, strolling in like this:

    img_3148I know, I know, it’s a terrible picture, but it’s the best one from yesterday. Regardless, it was exactly what I needed to see. I suspect she knew it too, so she walked over to me, scattering little cards while exclaiming, ‘Oops!’, while wearing that diaper on her head. That little girl has spot on timing – she has such a great sense of humor, and I was so thankful for that last night!

    While Willie and Delaney were up north, Alise and I had some great bonding time together. While I was sad to see them leave, in a way it was nice to have this time with Alise. I’m thankful for this qualify time I got in with her over the weekend. She’s a strong-willed girl, with ideas of her own, and has a great sense of humor. She’s a terrible eater, omg – girl turns up her nose at almost everything I gave her! – yet loves to pretend to cook and go food shopping. Go figure.

    I’m a lucky, lucky mom.

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  • Gratitude
  • Day 19: Perseverance.

    It was a long day. Willie’s out of town with my oldest, Delaney, so I have little Alise with me for the weekend. This morning, when I woke up, it feel like a semi-truck hit me, then hit reverse to make sure the damage was done. Well, I was feeling it alright, and of course, the one person who could help me is out of town. Nice seeing you, Mr. Murphy!

    Somehow, we made it through, Alise and me. By midday, I started to feel better so I took her to the park in our neighborhood. We managed to have fun. She’s such a delight to be with, full of smiles and goofiness, curiosity and little toddler bravado. I love seeing her take on the world (well, okay, the big kid slide) with such determination and focus. I’m so thankful that we both persevered throughout the day in our own ways, for different reasons. Despite it all, it was a good one.

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  • Gratitude
  • Day 18: Experiences.

    My oldest left this morning, with her daddy, to Minnesota to visit his family. It was hard to let her go this morning – I had to fight the urge to do that sad little run after the car as it drives away. At the same time, I know how much Delaney loves her family on Willie’s side and how excited she was for this trip. In fact, when we FaceTimed this evening, that little girl was all smiles and happiness and joy. So, I’m so thankful she has this experience, that she has opportunities to shine away from her mom’s watchful gaze, to culivate relationships with her extended family, especially those adorable cousins of hers.

    So it’s just Alise and me the next few days. We had fun exploring the Mckenna’s Children Museum this morning. The drive is rather long but seeing my youngest in her element was worth it. It’s such a great museum, one that I wish we had closer to Austin. Regardless, I did have a nice time catching a glimpse of Small Town, Texas during the drive. Better yet was the chance to see my youngest interact with her little friends – the best medicine, really.

    I’m so thankful that my little girls have these experiences, away from home, outside the little bubble that is family.

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  • Gratitude
  • Day 17: Individuality.

    This political climate is a scary one. I admit it: I’m terrified. It’s become blatantly obvious that Trump has no idea what he’s doing. I see all the smug faces on the Republican side of Congress on CNN and want to throw up. You know they can’t wait to tear apart existing laws to ones that best suit their bottom-lines, their lobbyists and rich friends, and their personal agendas. I, for a while today, wondered if the human race is about to see the end of the world and had to reach for my Lexapro to quell the rising panic.

    Despite it all, I’m glad that my parents raised me to be a strong, independent thinker. I’m so thankful they demonstrated what it means to be compassionate, to consider the wellbeing of others. Yes, even my father, the hard-core Republican, taught me some valuable lessons in what to be kind, to be human. It’s my biggest wish that I pass down the same traits to my girls: to think for themselves, to stand up for what they believe in, to look out for those in The Others category (read: not a wealthy, white, heterosexual male without a disability).

    My 'Nasty Woman' t-shirt is my comfort blanket.
    Hi! It’s me, wearing my ‘OH SHIT’ face and my ‘Nasty Woman’ security blanket.
    Photo information:ISO 6400 | 24 mm | f/2.8 | 1/250 | presets: Garden

     

  • Gratitude
  • Day 16: Photography

    I’m thankful that I’m slowly learning photography because along the way is a precious trail of pictures of my little girls for them to look at when they get older. I’ve always loved photography, it must be in the genes: when I was a little girl, my dad would run around Detroit with me in tow, taking pictures of people out and about (even in the iffy parts of the city). He loved capturing people in that one moment in time, a singular moment that spoke volumes, told stories in an image.

    Growing up deaf in a hearing household, I didn’t have access to a lot of my family’s stories, so many of them went over my head (my family never learned ASL). I’ve managed to piecemeal some of them but am thankful for the photos I’ve had access to, to help me fill in the blanks, to tell the stories of my family. It broke my heart when I found out, while looking around at my dad’s house after his funeral, that a lot of my childhood pictures were tossed out (by who I suspect, was a vindictive second wife – another tale for another time).

    I’m so glad my girls will have pictures like these, even the mundane, everyday kinds, to look back on, to share with their family and loved ones long after I’m gone.

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  • Gratitude
  • Day 15: Family.

    Disclosure: this photo was totally posed (as if you couldn’t tell already, ha). At the same time, we had a blast doing this: the girls would run up to the camera, giggling, demanding to see the resulting photo. After I put my camera away, they continued ‘shooting’ but with a fake camera and demanded that Willie and I fake-drink our wine per their artistry direction. It was so cute.

    I’m thankful for family dinners, for that moment in the day where we all sit together and laugh and eat and talk. It’s become one of my favorite parts of the day, when the iPhones and laptops are put away and the t.v. turned off, and all attention are with one another, at the table, with (usually) good food.

    Good times, good eats, great conversations. Love.

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    ‘Okay, Mommy, can I stop posing now?’ – Alise.
    Photo information:ISO 12800 | 24 mm | f/5.6 | 1/90 | presets: LR B&W Look 4
  • Gratitude
  • Day 14: Coolness

    The mornings now have a crisp chill in the air. I need to put on my long, fugly, heavily-knitted cardigan to hobble around the house and complain about my achin’ joints and where is the coffee, I need the coffee. Holy shit, I’ve totally turned into – not my mother – but my GRANDMOTHER. I skipped a generation in the getting-old process!

    Regardless, i’m thankful for the chilly mornings, for the open windows to let the fresh air in during the days, the need to wear wool socks and heavy sweaters (even the fugly ones), in Texas. It’s a little late, but fall is finally here!

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    Cooler days, happy kids. relieved mom.
    Photo information:ISO 200 | 24 mm | f/2.8 | 1/180 | presets: Garden

     

  • Gratitude
  • Day 12 & 13: Laughing, living and loving.

    Saturday was a long day, so I opted out of updating this blog. The camera didn’t catch a break because I recorded the picture below, of the girls goofing off, squeezing themselves into Delaney’s dollhouse, giggling all the while, all before bedtime. My girls, they are so precious. I’m thankful that they have each other, that despite all the fights and the resulting tears, they find little pockets of joy here and there. It’s all about those tiny fragments of happiness.

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    Today, it was a celebration of birth. We had a party to celebrate Delaney’s birthday; her buddies came over and indulged in some bouncy-house and piñata fun. it wasn’t by any means a Pinterest worthy party, I couldn’t find comic books to do the banners I had envisioned stringing across the garage, the face masks looked like a hack job (dear me: next time, don’t attempt a late-night crafting session the night before the party), and we had woefully low numbers of chairs and tables to go around for the guests. But the most important thing was that Delaney and her friends had fun, burned a ton of energy and hopefully, for their parents, went to bed early tonight.

    I’m so glad to have captured these moments, of a little girl on her special day, feeling loved and celebrated, as she should be (as we all should be). My sweet Delaney, you are so, so loved. I’m thankful for the memories we are creating together.

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    Then it was a celebration of a life. We went to a memorial service for a sweet little boy who passed away from ependymoma, a form of brain cancer. It was a beautiful service: sweet, sad, poignant. People got up to to share stories and memories of little Aydan, each word signed or said kept him alive a little longer, his presence real. And the pictures – oh the pictures. With the help of his parents, he made the most of the short life he had and that was evident from the pictures shared at the service: he traveled, he laughed and cried and loved, he relished in the deep bonds with his family and friends. His days were limited to years, to months and then to days, but the memories he created with his loved ones will transcend the limits of time. Godspeed, Aydan. Thank you for that gentle reminder of the fragility of life, of what it means to have truly lived, and for introducing me to a new food favorite: the waffle sandwich.

    Many hearts are aching for his mom, dad, sister and baby brother tonight and all the days ahead.

    Also, fuck cancer.

  • Gratitude
  • Day 11: Delaney.

    Five years ago today, Willie and I met a spunky little girl who would forever change our lives. After a 4 hour labor, Delaney came into the world protesting her forced exit by the way of pitocin. The nurse laid her on my chest almost immediately afterwards and I was smitten at first sight. Here was this little girl that I was granted the privilege of raising, of being her mom, looking around me curiously, wondering what the heck was up. Then she looked at me and I think right then, she knew she was okay and I knew I’d be too.

    Today, I wanted to make her feel special, so she’d know how much happiness she’s brought us. We celebrated her fifth birthday by doing all kinds of things: a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts, a stop by the Veteran’s Day parade in downtown Austin, then after a rest at home, a meeting with her teachers for the parents teacher conference. Of course, they had nothing but great things to say about her. We then took a ride on the little train at Zilker Park then headed to Via 313 for a birthday dinner (her choice! The Detroit in me is proud) and then opened presents at home.

    I wish I could do so much more for this little girl. I want to celebrate her everyday because she brings so much joy to Willie and me. She’s getting into telling stories, asking questions about everything (why? why? … why?). She’s kind, generous, smart, funny (oh SO funny!), easy-going and many more strong qualities, this post will end up as a novel.

    My sweet Delaney, happy, happiest birthday to you. We love the person you’ve become and can’t wait to see what the next cycle around the sun brings you. Mommy is so thankful for you every day, all the time.

     

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  • Gratitude
  • Day 10: Celebrations.

    Today, I’ve been running around to get stuff ready for my oldest daughter’s birthday. Tomorrow, she turns the big 5. These days, I look at her and am struck by how much she’s grown. During the Halloween costume contest in our neighborhood, they had kids line up according to their age groups. I looked over at her age group and there was Delaney, towering over all the little kids in the 4-5 group. Wait, whaaaa – when did this happen?

    So, yeah, she turns five tomorrow and I’m so excited to make her day special. It’s been a hard week so I’m ready to focus on my family, to celebrate the good that is here now because, god knows, life is going to be very hard once that man assumes his position. But for tomorrow and this weekend, good shall prevail.

    I’m thankful, so thankful we have the means to make our children’s milestones special, and that despite all the craziness, there is still so much good to be embraced.

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    Celebration goods.
    Photo information:ISO 3200 | 24 mm | f/2.8 | 1/60 | presets: Garden