Wednesday, April 17, 2013

All by myself

The title of this post has been a big theme in our house this week, "I want to do it by myself, Mama". This "I can do it attitude" has brought some pretty exciting changes including pooping in the potty! We've also officially moved him out of the toddler bed in the nursery and into his big boy room with a big boy bed. Kind of a momentous week I guess and perhaps as a consequence, today was the first day out of the last five that he actually is napping. Which is the only reason that I have time to right this blog post now.

My online photography class ended a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't believe how fast 4 weeks flew by. Partly I'm relieved to have some time to get my house and gardens in order before #2 arrives, and partly I'm sad to be done with something that I was doing just for me.  I would have loved to sign up for one of the more advanced courses but just approaching week 37 of my pregnancy, with an increasing frenzy about things to do (plant seeds in my vegetable garden, transplant the seedlings that I started last month, mulch the beds and dig out a new bed for sunflowers and another for lupines and zinnias, get the blackout curtains for my son's new room sewn, wash all the new baby clothes......Oh my gosh, just looking at this list makes me convinced I have truly lost my mind), I know it's unreasonable to take on the next level of photo course right now. I feel like I'm well on my way to understanding the basics, but nowhere close to understanding how to become an artist with my camera. For the next 6 months, I might not have enough time to wash my hair or change my underwear, but I hope I have just a few minutes here and there to capture myself, my vision, my sanity, through the lens of my camera. 

Hmmmm. I think I make it sound like I am not excited about this baby at all. That is truly not the case. But having gone through this once before I know how insular my world is going to be for a while; how incredibly daunting it can be to leave the house solo for even a quick run to the market 1/2 a mile away because your infant might only take a 25 minute nap and might wake up screaming to be nursed while you are gone. I remember how freeing it was when Taran hit the 14 month marker point and became more predictable, at least at nighttime, about falling asleep and staying asleep for at least a few hours (he didn't actually start sleeping through the night until 2.5). It was so amazing to be able to go to a Zumba class in the evening or take myself to the coffee shop up the street to do some lecture prep. I connected a lot at the time to a quote from a Moon Unit Zappa book: "Pieces of myself come back to me like iron filings to a magnet". She was referring to recovering from a break-up, but that feeling of reminding yourself who you are, separate from another human being, is very, very relevant in the context of motherhood too. So I guess I'm just psychologically preparing myself to be entering into a cave for a little while. 

Anyway, I digress, I was talking about photography.... In the process of going completely manual - especially after many winter months shooting indoors - I find shooting outdoors extremely challenging in terms of getting the light exposure right. Lately we have been making a desperate bid to get early spring crops planted while we can before a) it's too hot and b) the baby arrives, so the whole family has been spending every minute of our weekends outside, which gives me ample opportunity for outdoor photo session breaks.  

On the day I took the next few photos, it was strange lighting-wise; at times very, very sunny and then suddenly extremely gray and overcast with a transition between both states happening multiple times within just a handful of minutes. This made getting the exposure correct a bit tricky. I submitted these photos as part of a homework assignment for my photography class and had to include some notes on my thought process for each photo which I'm just attaching below because they are are a nice summary of what has been happening around here in our household. 

Dancing boy photos:
I'm not sure what inspired Taran, but he suddenly burst into a spontaneous happy dance that was pretty fantastic. I love when he does this. I envy his boundless capacity for joy that bubbles up from within at random moments, seemingly unprecipitated by his outward environment. Because he was often dancing towards me, it was very difficult to not cut off joints and to keep his eyes in focus, but I'm hoping that the sweetness of his exuberance makes up for that. 

Digging in the Dirt
I like the light on his head here - the way it's shining on his hair and face.  Maybe not a "perfect" shot because his eyes are shadowed, but I'm still pleased with it. I also love capturing those moments when he's completely engaged in his own thing and hardly cares what I'm doing.

Wheelbarrow pushing
Like I said earlier, this whole week there seems to be a huge developmental leap with Taran. Suddenly he wants to do EVERYTHING all by himself. This has been awesome to witness (if somewhat exasperating when there is a time crunch) and I really wanted to capture some of this when we were out together. He's helping Papa wheel dirt through the yard. In the first shot, you can't see Joe's face, but you can see in the veins in his arms that he's straining. This comes not so much from the weight of the wheelbarrow, but more from the fact that he's having to push in a really awkward slightly leaned back position to make room for Taran to push in front of him. I love the look on Taran's face in these photos - sheer joy that he is "helping"; blissfully unaware of how much Joe is straining to allow this moment for Taran. These pictures makes me love both my boys very much.

Garden rows
What should have taken about 15 minutes took over an hour because Taran kept pulling out the popsicle stick row markers, trying to grab the pen so he could label them himself, making mad grabs at the seed packets so he could spread the seed get the picture. Given the obstacles, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when the rows were actually planted. I like the way the labeled sticks sort of look like cute little soldiers standing tall and I also like the way the sticks are backlit by the setting sun behind them. 

These next few weren't part of my homework assignment, I just like them:

Cooking in kitchen
This is one of my favorite things to do with Taran. It can get really messy, but I'm so happy to be sharing something with him that I love so much and it thrills me that he enjoys it too. I bought him his own special apron for Easter and it sort of matches mine. I kind of like the whole mini-me in the kitchen thing. It's really difficult to get any shots of him when it's just the two of us because I'm simultaneously trying to prevent him from a variety of disastrous outcomes such as using the spray gun on the sink to jet water everyone, chop off his fingers, send the prep bowl full of veggies crashing to the ground.... you know, the typical "curious-toddler-gets-himself-in-trouble" stuff.

Playing tuning pipe
No story here at all. They just make me smile.

In white room
We are having our front porch turned into more usable space now that we are losing one of our bedrooms upstairs. We divided it into two separate spaces: a mudroom and an office. Now Joe can still work from home when he wants and I finally get a coat closet!! The painting of the rooms was starting today and the currently white-primed walls and light wood trim are going away, so I wanted to get some pictures of Taran in there before that happened because it had this almost ethereal feel to it with all the light bouncing off the white walls. Almost made me wish we didn't have to paint at all. The outfit was entirely of his choosing.


  1. I know that feeling of wanting to finish "everything" before the baby comes all too well. I also remember those first six months, and looking back wonder what I spent them doing... Even if you are not taking an advanced class, you can learn plenty on your own during these coming weeks. Set yourself some practice goals, keep snapping away. And hang in there, the next month or so will pass in a flash and then there will be 4!

    1. Liene,
      Thanks for the encouragement. I hadn't pulled out my camera in a week and reading your comment inspired me to try a few new things with it.
      It's crazy to realize that I'm already "full term" and it could be tomorrow or it could be 5 weeks from now. This last leg is always such a surreal time.

    2. Oh, exciting!! Keep up the good work, momma, stay strong - know that you're in my thoughts today/next few days, can't wait for the good news!

  2. Wonderful post, as always. You've clearly found your genius in writing and photos. I always thought this would be your direction!