Posts Tagged ‘juniper violet’

Personal Post: Suddenly a Stay at Home Mom

Stay at home mom, business ownerNot every women dreams of being a stay at home mom the way not every women dreams of being a mother. I never wanted to be a stay at home parent. I have to shake off guilt around saying this because I know some will interpret this plain statement, as me not wanting to be with my child, and that simply isn’t true. I love Juniper to the moon and back. She is my world, my playmate, my favorite person. And to those who are stay at home parents and to those whom desire to be, more power to you. The world is currently serving you an extra slice of respect.

For me, I crave time alone in quiet reflection to be my best self. I like to work independently and simmer on ideas in solitude. This way, my spirit is recharged, and when I see my family I appreciate them so much more. I see them with renewed eyes and so much gratitude. I designed my life for this. I built a business and outsourced, found excellent childcare and backup childcare, and set rigid boundaries so I could still spend most of my week with my family. And in my independent time I could fuel my business, source ideas, and make art.

The New Normal

Like many of you, I’ve been living in a “new normal” for the past few weeks, one in which my usual offerings as a business owner are not relevant. One in which I find it hard to even plan for a future in which they are, because the forecast ahead is so foggy. I am uneasy, I am worried, I am adapting. As I develop ideas during brief toddler naps, and try to complete existing work in little pockets of weekend time, I find myself in hustle mode, trying not to panic.

In my time with Juniper I am often distracted and impatient, and not proud of some of the choices I’m making. Is anyone feeling this? There are simply not enough hours to do all things well.

Your Feelings are Valid

I realize right now, I need to stop and check my privilege. People are dying in this pandemic. People are suffering. People are working on the front-lines in healthcare, and food service, and delivery, many of them with preexisting conditions that make them extra vulnerable. People are worried about how they will make rent, how they will get food, and if they will be safe at home. I am not one of those people, and I am constantly aware of how good I have it and how small my struggles are.

But I just need a moment to say that sometimes it’s still hard even when others have it harder. And it’s okay to feel scared or worried. It’s okay to be sad over the holiday traditions you are missing, the favorite spots you can no longer visit, the people you cannot hug, and the regular-everyday-put-on-pants-and-go-to-work life you aren’t living right now. Your feelings are valid. My feelings are valid.

We’ve Never Done This Before

It’s okay to not be ready for a positive spin. It’s okay to not get dressed today. It’s okay to put an iPad in front of your toddler so you can get some work done, or clean the house, or drink a glass of wine while no one touches you or asks you for anything. It’s normal to lose your temper, to feel stuck, to feel resentful. No matter what position you’re in, we’ve never done this before. We’re all just making it up as we go along.

In the meantime I will try to give myself as much grace as my best friends would give me (which is a lot). Because we’re all doing the best we can. My kitchen is covered in flour, my dining room table, in seed packets, and my living room is currently an obstacle course to prove this point. And yes, sometimes I will be working. Sometimes I will send Juniper away or ask her to play by herself so that I can complete a project or answer an email.

And I know, deep down, this isn’t hurting her. Juniper doesn’t need a 24/7 playmate and cook; she needs a mom. And sometimes moms work. Sometimes moms have big ideas they need to act upon. She is seeing this, and even if she doesn’t get it right now, it will be something she will understand later. The world becomes a better place for every woman out there each time we let go of how we were told things were “supposed to be done”. I was never one for arbitrary rules anyway.

Cheers, mamas!

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Film scans above shot on 35 mm Kodak Portra in summer of 2019 and scanned by Dwaynes Photo in Parsons, Kansas.

Personal Post: When Fear Makes You Doubt Your Gut

green bay film photographer parenting blog
For me, 2020 has been a season of big ideas and big doubts. I get excited about an idea, I share my idea, I doubt my idea, then I sabotage my idea. Has anyone else been there?

It’s not outright self-sabotage; it’s me letting fear guide my thoughts, and then letting my actions take me just to the point where things get scary and no further. There is safety in giving something half your heart and there is fear in giving it all your heart.

Fear Keeps Me Safe

Fear is keeping me safe. Fear’s job is to keep me safe. But here, what is it protecting me from? Predators, injury, death? No. Failure, ridicule, discomfort.

It seems silly when it’s laid out like this, but it’s hard to go from understanding your fears are not keeping you safe to making a choice to reach beyond fear. This requires belief in our purpose — belief beyond doubt — and it asks us to recognize that who we are is someone already deserving of what we want. It asks us to step out from the place of “when I do this, I will be worthy of…” and into “because of who I already am, I can do this.”

I Can Make Bad Art Without Being a Bad Artist

I have always been one to value myself based on what I can create and how hard I can work. Instead, I am shifting into someone whose value is already there, without needing to prove it to anyone (myself included). And if I already have value, I can create bad art without being a bad artist and I can make a mistake without being a failure. This provides grace. This provides space for big ideas.

On January first of this year, Jen Berres-Dart of Jenstar Yoga asked a group of us, “What do you want to try that you’ve been avoiding because you don’t think it’s possible?” And now I ask that of you…

What Are You Avoiding Out of Fear of Failure?

In 2020 I am working on myself, I am chasing ideas, I am taking chances, and I want to take you with me. Come join us at Mama + Maker to see what my big ideas are all about, or comment with yours, because ideas are a lot less scary when we say them out loud.

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Film scans above from our January trip to Florida. Shot on 35 mm Kodak Portra 400 film and scanned by Dwaynes Photo. 

Personal Post: This is Two

Kasey and Ben Photography Mayflower Greenhouse, Green BayThis week Juniper threw epic crying fits for the following reasons:
1. My hair was too crazy.
2. She needed to take home a middle grade chapter book at the library.
3. Daddy was being mean. (Daddy did literally nothing.)

This is two.

Two is also wispy hair that makes the teeniest ponytail, a new imaginary friend who she cares for and tortures, and cute catch phrases like, “Ju-per loooooves that; it’s Ju-per’s fave-it” which is said for nearly everything.

Between Babyhood and Toddlerhood

Two is funny because we are stuck somewhere between baby and toddler. When she gets tired, she still wants to curl up in my arms and when she loses her pacifier in the night she still calls for us to make it right. We wander in bleary-eyed in that same stupor that brought us into her room when she was just a few weeks old. But the next morning she is back to her regular self, independent and demanding. This girl starts the mornings at full volume with so much to say. I shake my head thinking that there was ever a time I worried about the number of words she would say.

Juniper has so many ideas of what we should do together, and when she really wants to do them, she mimics my encouraging tone with eyes wide and voice higher, getting as close to my face as she can. She wears socks on her hands every day (it’s a thing) and will only wear her black dress shoes no matter the weather. One week she loves oranges so I buy oranges, the next week “Ju-per don’t ike oranges”. It’s ever-changing, frustrating, hilarious, and heart-warming all at once.

Parenthood is Crazy Like That

I’m not sure what comes next (okay, three, obviously), but I’m in no hurry. For the number of times I am willing the clock to get to 12:30 pm so I can put her down for a nap, an equal number of times I will find myself watching old videos of her 10 minutes after she’s asleep. Parenthood is crazy like that. We crave our independence and when we have it, we miss our babies. It’s really the whole process of growing up and letting go on a miniature scale.

But I don’t have to worry about that right now. Any minute Juniper will wake up from her nap and come wandering out of her room, hair crazy, blanket dragging behind her. She will climb up onto my lap and I will enjoy the 15 seconds of blissful snuggles she gives me before she reaches out for my keyboard and makes an attempt at deleting this entire blog. This is two.

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Photos above from Juniper’s second birthday (cactus themed) at Mayflower Greenhouse in Hobart. Taco bar catered by Moes, amazing sugar cookies by Tina’s Cookie Corner, and tower of itty-bitty succulents by my talented mom.

Personal Post: letters from my mom & letters to my daughter

Husband and Wife Team Downtown Green BayWhen I was pregnant with Juniper, I had a wonderful surprise from my mom. Letters. Stacks of yellowing sheets produced on an electric typewriter in the late 80s. From the moment I was  born and into my toddler years, my mom wrote letters to future me about what it was like to be my mom.

Becoming mothers brings us closer to our moms, and it was even more beautiful for me to have this strange opportunity to connect with her at my same level, in the same shoes… as a clueless new mom to a new baby girl. The letters include hopes and fears and milestones and real life struggles. They are such a gift. And I knew after reading the first one, that I wanted to do the same for Juniper.

Last month my baby turned two years old. We celebrated with a cactus themed party at Mayflower Greenhouse, had family photos taken downtown, and just last week I finished the last letter of Juniper’s second year. As I printed the pages and slipped them into a little folder for future Juniper, I got curious and flipped open to a few random sections…

And there was Juniper three weeks old finally back up to birth weight, five months old having her first dip in a pool, nine months old pulling herself up on furniture, 15 months old saying her first words. I. Was. Transported. It made me realize the letters aren’t just for Juniper, they are for both of us, keeping us on terms with who we were at all these stages.

The method of writing might be different in the 30 years that divides the two packs of letters, but the pages are filled with so much of the same things — pride in milestones, fears about our capabilities as parents, worries about the future, and so much love. Just a reminder that of all the things time has the power to change, the love of a mother is not one of them.

Personal Post: Giving My Daughter Space to “Do it Wrong”

35 mm Film Photos Door County Raising a toddlerTalking about parenting right now means putting a vulnerable voice out into a critical culture. This isn’t to say our generation is somehow more judgmental than past generations; we just see more of one another’s lives thanks to social media. So now instead of collecting “feedback” from your auntie and mother, you can also collect it from that friend-of-a-friend from high school and someone you used to work with. Oh joy. And whether or not you choose to post to social media or comment on the posts of others, you are probably still consuming the media and drawing your own conclusions.

The good news is this criticism has sprouted from the best of intentions: concern for the safety of children. But when concern for safety becomes concern for lifestyle and we aren’t prepared for how to interact in this culture, we end up stuck in a place of shame, guilt, and fear of “doing it wrong”.

Parenting in the Toddler Years

That said, I know some people will find my parenting too hands off (I get looks as my daughter runs through the farmer’s market 20 feet ahead of me) and some will find me too rigid (really mom, she can’t have any juice?) I’m sure others will find ways to see me as overprotective, old fashioned, or crunchy, but for myself, I am quite surprised at the kind of parent I turned out to be.

When I thought of the future, I imagined myself fretting over my child’s every move, holding my arms around her to protect her from bumps and bruises, chewing my nails and saying that warning phrase one extra time to give myself peace of mind. But what I failed to account for when I imagined myself as a mother, is that I would be a mother to a little person with a personality all her own.

Juniper is fast and loud. She climbs everything, devises complicated ways of stacking things to reach what she wants. She likes the fastest rides and the biggest challenges. At two, this kid eats more at a meal than I did in middle school. She is bold and talkative, and usually searching the house for her galoshes so she can find a way to be outside…even if it’s raining…even if it’s 6:00 am…even if it isn’t her house. She. Is. Wild.

But this wildness comes from her curiosity and her passionate impulse to consume everything as though life is something to be swallowed whole. And can I just say what a gift it is to see life this way?

Leaving Room for Imagination

Things I haven’t the smallest interest in, she will find deeply fascinating. Toys which have a specific use will gain new life with her interpretation of their purpose. She wants to reorganize the crayons instead of coloring with them, use the bath boats as teacups, and make car noises as she pushes the doll stroller. And I’m going to let her. Just like I’m going to let her eat the uncooked zucchini that fell to the floor as I was making dinner and wear swim diapers over her clothes. She can ride in the cargo portion of the stroller, wear all my jar lids as bracelets, and refer to every full grown dog as a “little baby puppy” (with her voice high and her nose scrunched).

Doing these things “wrong” isn’t going to hurt her or anyone else. She’s learning what it means to make her own decisions and she’s figuring out how things work (or devising new ways for them to work). And, when it comes right down to it, it would be pretty self-important of me to tell her the “right way” to play.

What Does it Mean to “Do it Wrong”?

My grandma has a story from when she was a little girl that has always stuck with me. She was at school in art class drawing a sky filled with pink, fluffy clouds. When the teacher saw it, she told my grandma it was no good because clouds aren’t pink. Imagine all the ways we can crush a child’s spirit in the name of teaching them the “right way” to do things.

And whether those clouds were pink or neon green or floating underwater or made of cotton candy or drawn with dandelion rubbings, I never want to be the person who makes the world a little smaller by closing the door on possibility and imagination. Grandma gets her revenge every time sunset turns clouds from white to yellow, yellow to orange, and from orange to a bright, rosy pink.

I guess what I’m saying is, Juniper will have plenty of opportunities to learn the correct pronunciation of the word, the right purpose for the tool, the proper way to respond to the circumstance, but for now, there is play. There is big, big play. And I’m going to give Juniper all the space I can to “do it wrong”.

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Film scans above from this summer (May-July) from 35 mm Kodak Portra negatives.

Our Travels to Iceland

Iceland travel photographyhiking iceland babyreykjavik vikWhen you see pictures from Iceland you think “it can’t really look like that, can it?” and somehow it does. While visiting, I found myself snapping pictures of everything in a panic, the way I do when I know I can’t possibly capture something in its entirety. It happens during major changes in Juniper’s babyhood and it happens in moments of great beauty like this.

Reykjavik, Iceland

We didn’t book our tickets because Iceland was our next most longed for county. It was actually that we wanted to take Juniper on her first international trip and after asking around, our well-traveled friends recommended Iceland as an easy, “kid-friendly” destination. We had never been anywhere in Scandinavia, and were intrigued by the black beaches, waterfalls, and culture. The night flight over was shorter than expected, and direct to Reykjavik where we had the cutest two bedroom apartment for Ben, Juniper, myself, and my brother, Josh. We settled in, did our best to adjust to the time change and 22 hours of daylight, and the next day we were off on our first adventures!

Reykjavik is a very walkable city, small and beautiful. Our apartment was near Hallgrimskirkja church which was designed after waterfalls and is very tall and identifiable. Every time we headed uphill toward the church, we were going home, and every time we headed downhill, we were going toward the city center and waterfront. Juniper also adapted quickly. She learned the routine of how we did things there; stand-up showers instead of baths before bed, European high chairs, and Icelandic food were all taken in stride. By day four she knew to go downstairs to get to our apartment when we entered the building. It really was a testament to how adaptable kids are. The heated public pools were Juniper’s favorite part of the city and if there was something I could bring back home with us, that would definitely be it.

The Golden Circle

We took a day trip around the Golden Circle with stops at the Icelandic Horse Center, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Gulfoss waterfall, and the Geyser.  Icelandic horses are famous because the country has not allowed the import of horses for a thousand years (this type of history is astounding to me growing up in the young USA). The breed is small (almost like ponies) but sturdy; I think they look like miniature Belgian work horses. They also grow long hair over their coats in winter and are super friendly. I’m not so much of a horse person, but these horses were more like dogs in their affection and need for scratches. It was Josh’s favorite part of the day.

The waterfalls were beautiful, and we particularly liked Seljalandsfoss because you can walk behind it. The drive itself was amazing with mountains, fields of lupines, and sheep and horses running about without boundaries. Iceland is made for road-tripping, and we were very happy for a baby who does well in carseats and loads of snacks for the long rides.

Icelandic Cottage Life

Other trip highlights include hiking a glacier where we drank straight from the spring and smeared volcanic ash on our faces, taking a puffin sight-seeing cruise (they are so tiny!), seeing the black sand beaches, and exploring Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon by amphibious car (my favorite!). For the last two days of our trip, we rented a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere. To clarify, when I say “nowhere,” I mean this: drove to the last town with a gas station, then drove two hours north until the road turned to dirt, then continued 6 miles, crossed a questionable bridge, scared the living daylights out of sheep who aren’t used to cars, then arrived at cabin and debated if the fog rolling over the hills looked like the start of a horror movie. It’s safe to say I chose the cottage completely based on how beautiful the view would be, and I don’t regret it.

On our last night, we put Juniper down for bed and the three of us gathered up snacks, tea, blankets, and other cozy items and spent the evening on the porch watching a telenovela and the three hour sunset. An hour and a half later I woke up to see the sunrise. It was surreal and magical, just like everything else about the trip.

Toddler Travels

I know many people will read this and think, “Why take an 18 month old on a trip like this when she won’t remember it.” And honestly, I don’t understand. With this logic, I think, “Why take my kid to do anything until she is five and creating substantial memories?”

My “why” is twofold. One reason we are traveling with her young is to teach her skills. We take Juniper to swimming lessons so she learns not to fear the water, we take her to baby gym so she learns balance and coordination, and we take her traveling so she learns adaptability, gets a bigger sense of the world, and develops a love of adventure. These things don’t just appear in our personality when we’re 25 and have saved the money to backpack across Europe; they are learned.

And the other reason is for our own benefit. One of the greatest pleasures of parenthood is sharing new things with our children. Yes the stakes are higher on a six hour flight, but seeing Juniper’s reaction to something as I also experience it for the first time is like a multiplier of joy. We can love something on our own, but we love these things even more when we see someone we love love them. We are blessed to be able to travel and we are more blessed to be able to share it.

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Photos above from our June 2019 trip to Iceland. For details, suggestions when planning your own trip, or licensing information, Contact Us.