Tuesday, August 24, 2010

about to hatch

I said,"Nora, can you give your baby some love and she was up on her tip toes all smiles ready to accommodate." The morning light was perfect and soft and you can feel the tenderness of this time... all her little toddler energy and her mama waiting right at the very end of pregnancy. One of the things I love about taking pictures is getting the chance to share in these really precious times with people who mean so much to me. This is one of my dearest friends Laura, who I've known all my life and I can't wait to meet her new one.

(baby brother or sister makes such a lovely pillow)

I love this wrinkled-nose face.

Monday, August 23, 2010

henna bellies

I know it seems there are some themes around here lately; babies and bellies and new life. What an incredible season it is to be surrounded by people that I love that are swelling with new little people. Over the summer, three of the five pregnant ones in my girls' group have met their babies, and it won't be long for the last two. I really wanted to have some henna parties to celebrate and adorn all these beautiful bellies so we had one in the beginning of the summer and one last week. It really is a lovely way to celebrate. It isn't always easy to watch your body transform and stretch within nine months, but it is so freeing to be among women who choose to embrace every stretch mark and and every change with a respect for what God has made our bodies be able to do: nurture life.
Kelly, one of the girls in our group is an artist whose work I adore, so she was our henna artist. I got the Proud Body Pregnancy Henna Kit to ensure that it was 100% all natural. It creates such a relaxing mood watching the designs take shape and watching baby limbs press against their increasingly crowded womb-abode. It left me feeling a little like I'd been marked with some tribal marking, all of us baring some pretty burnt-sienna colored stain in vines or flowers on our hands or ankles. It smelled pleasant of lavender oil and I thought of all the times I've shared with these women over the years in my living room or anothers...so many stories, so much laughter. I remembered so many prayers, showers and some hard times too. We listened and cried and knit a prayer shawl together when one of us miscarried, some of us knew the heartache first hand but we all understood the depth of loving something out of our control. We've been there for each other in those times, but we've had many more joys and blessings as represented by a growing group of the next generation.
Here's a few shots of a night I want to remember. I'm thinking this will be our new shower tradition. Who doesn't need a little body art now and then?

(this one is due to hatch in less than 2 weeks! amazing)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


(Mara Joy)

(Evangeline Linda)

She was the girl who at thirteen, I thought nothing in the world could separate me from. We were joined at the hip in that strange codependent-adolescent-girl sort of way. We went through every phase of growing up together, summer camp, beach trips, first jobs, first boyfriends, heartbreak , failures. God knew what he was doing when he brought us together because we felt stronger and bolder somehow in each other's presence. We did the same ministries and cheered each other on in every endeavor either of us tried. We both got married young and our lives looked like they were traveling a joint path just like I always thought they would... until everything changed and she told me they were moving back to Philadelphia while we had settled in Tennessee. It was so hard to say good-bye to this deep sisterhood I had known since we were eight years old.
It's about ten years later and I miss her deeply in my day to day life.
Just in time to end our summer Vanessa,her husband and her six children, the youngest of whom I had never met, came and stayed with us. It had been almost two years since I'd seen her. I cuddled her sweet kids and we played and got together with more of our college friends and their children reaching a grand total of sixteen children running around our houses at any given time. We cooked huge meals and swam and stole every opportunity to catch up in the way you can't on the phone or the computer. We are extremely different personality-wise which is part of why we enjoy each other so much and can make each-other laugh till we cry. One night it struck me though...the bitter-sweetness of it. All the kids had finally surrendered their weary selves to sleep and all of us moms stayed up for hours, laying around, drinking piƱa coladas and sharing our souls into the night. I loved listening the hearts of these amazing women I am privileged enough to have as life long friends. The night was filled with honesty, encouragement, inspiration and good thoughts to ponder. It's amazing how much ground a bunch of women can cover when times to just be are few. For several days I didn't want to go to bed, enjoying being able to have my far away friend in my living room, savoring holding her two month old in my lap. The time was deep and rich and I was so thankful to be able to reconnect. But it was hard to get a glimpse of what I am missing. I am so thankful to have a bond that covers the miles between us.
Here are some of the faces from our time together.



( Nora giving her new baby a kiss)

(sisters and Jael)

(What a treasure being with little Eva, who at a glance, looks just like my childhood best friend)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First day of school

Even when a change is good it doesn't mean it's easy. Especially for a girl like me who takes a little while to warm up to change. I was in no was prepared for how hard today would be for me. I think perhaps it was because he is my first, maybe because I home-schooled him so I was with him all the time. I think it is mostly that I know what I'll be missing. It's the letting go...it's painful. I thought about all these wonderful days I have had the blessing of being home with him, holding moments I never want to forget like this day and moments like this and this. I am thankful for the opportunity for a good education for him and dedicated teachers and I have confidence that he will learn and grow beautifully. It is just hard turning the page to the chapter of his life where the majority of his days are spent away from me. Before today I was with him every single day.
For everything gained there are other things lost and it is all part of the process so I am learning. I am also learning that all those times people have said to me, "Enjoy them when they're little, they grow up fast." What they meant to say was, "one day you wake up and realize that things are moving at warp-speed and there's not a thing you can do about it, even when your heart needs slow-motion."
It is strange how vividly I can remember the panic in the room when things weren't progressing normally during my labor with him, even twenty four hours after my water broke. How in that moment I didn't care if someone cut my stomach open with a sword just so I could here that first wild cry from my son. Then in another blink I remember standing in his bedroom door looking in at his perfectly crossed little feet and bottom in the air,(that's how he used to sleep). I was so sad because he seemed so far all the way down the hall in his crib after sleeping in our room for so many months. I remember almost losing him when he was two and how God taught me through that. I remember all of his questions and holding his little dimpled hand and his soft toddler self now undeniably bony and lanky. Somehow when you're in the moment you just don't realize how quickly it will all change.

This morning he was excited and eager bursting with energy. I knew he would be. He has become so independent even just this summer. It was a small grace to me, it would have been so much harder if he was sad or nervous. I was a kind of a wreck last night but I prayed I would be happy and strong for him this morning. I've been wondering if something was wrong with me to be so torn up. Millions of moms send their kids off to school everyday. Oh well, I suppose another thing I'm learning is that I'm kind of crazy sensitive. Anyway, I held it together, hugged him and he smiled and waved with a "see ya, mom" attitude and he was off. I could feel the ache in my chest and barely made it to the car where the flood-gates opened.

I know that this is where God has Him and that he is holding him when I am not.
Things I will miss so much...
~ waking up to little knees and elbows jabbing me, my early morning snuggler
~ how he always makes the librarian at story-time search around for books on snakes or Star Wars or Van Gogh
~ reading book after book while he illustrates everything I read
~ nature treasure hunts and talks and picnics at the Nature Center in the Fall
~ how he makes me photograph all of his latest Lego creations
~ being his primary teacher
~ watching the girls follow him around the house all day
~ how he makes friends with strangers everywhere we go
~ being able to hug him whenever I want in a day

The things I am learning...
~ life is strange and winding and precious and incredibly fast
~ a mother's love is ferocious and deep and aching
~ our kids are not ours to begin with, a brilliant Creator holds them.
~ I never was in control, just entrusted
~ it is the greatest honor to take part in loving and shaping my children for his kingdom, even though mothering is a perpetual practice of letting go
~ someone might have to drug me when my kids leave for college