School of Rock

Let's hear it for the boys!

This week my girls are with grandparents (one with each set) so they're having great fun and are getting lots of attention I'm sure. So it's just me and the boys, and we're having a blast. Complete with secret words--when someone says it you scream PeeWee Herman style.

Last night lying in bed I had the idea to do a rock star photo session with them and they complied and came through with flying colors. I only had 10 minutes until Cash had to be at school but I coached them into a variety of expressions and the result did not let me down.

These boys are so creative and so much like Jimmy. They brought home a CD player from my mom's house last weekend. They immediately plugged it in and had an air band going within seconds. There is quite a void without their sisters but we've made the best of it and rocked out the week anyway.

Thank you Jackson and Cash! You are my little rock stars!


Always behind the camera...

I recently took photos for the children's ministry at our church. I went around to all the classrooms and tried to capture the kids and volunteers in action. I've actually done this 3 or 4 times. For gifts for the workers, website photos, etc.

Sunday I was taking photos and I went into Penelope's class. She's pretty well adjusted and I didn't think it would be a problem, me going in and out, but I tried to sneak a bit and hoped she wouldn't notice me just in case once she saw me she would want to leave. I was crouched down behind her taking a photo, unseen by her yet.

I snapped a picture and as soon as she heard the sound my camera makes when it takes a photo she turned around and said, "Mommy!" How interesting that she can associate her mother with a sound. Very animalistic to me. She knows not only the sound of my voice but the sound I make with my little machine called a camera. I of course took a picture of her.

Because of my constant state of photography, my kids are very comfortable with it. Cash has noticed he can see his reflection in the glass of my lens so he bends himself into the middle of the frame to do so, no matter who he is stepping in front of. He then makes a face like kid would make in a mirror--totally unnatural.

My photography has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to taking pictures of my own kids. I have the advantage of nice equipment, and experience, but the disadvantage being I take off the hat of mother and put on the hat of photographer when I'm trying to capture a moment. I see mothers laughing with their tiny point and shoot cameras and I'm a bit jealous. They are still totally part of what's going on. They are still living life, they're just holding a camera while doing it. I, on the other hand, suspend my participation in what's going on in order to get a good shot. This is why I often leave my camera at home. I want to watch them through my mom eyes, not through my camera lens.

Here's the picture I took of Penelope right after she identified me by the sound of my camera. And Cash leaning in to see his reflection, illustrating my point. And in the photo up top, I am actually holding the camera. And Penelope isn't really waving, just trying to grab it, which of course goes on all the time.And here's a funny one I got at church. This is a friend from Junior High and High School, Tim Naddy. So since he knows me, (and this is his sense of humor) he was not afraid to pose as if he was asleep on the job. As a photographer I love it when people "work with me." Hey, Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat, right? So he's just being Jesus to the kids! Sleep on, Tim.


Spaghetti Night

Ah, Spaghetti. Such a great go-to meal for a mom like me. It's easy to make and the kids love it. The mess it makes, however is not so easy. Last month we visited my family and my mom was going to serve spaghetti and meatballs. I gave my kids a ham sandwich instead. Because whenever we eat spaghetti it's usually straight into the bath afterward.

When we came home I began feeling a little nostalgic and sad. I remembered that I don't have babies anymore and that my kids can totally handle spaghetti and how odd that I've been so programmed to think that spaghetti equals mess. I felt silly for acting like my kids and me couldn't handle the menu.

Well, it feels good to say, I was right. Tonight we had spaghetti. I admit I cooked it on bath night on purpose. And we had the kids take their shirts off. It was like this crazy feeding frenzy and I had been looking forward to enjoying a normal, quiet meal together. Hello, Julie! Don't you know what goes on in your own house? A meal that is normal? Or quiet? How could I have believed this possible? Yet we are hopeful beings. Obviously!!

I somehow have been assigned to the seat next to Penelope on the bench where she is able to scoot right up next to me and share her tomato sauce in an all too intimate way. And looking around the table I felt as if I had enrolled in the class for etiquette school dropouts. Everyone's face was messy, there was an incident with the ranch dressing (isn't there always) and people who wanted seconds either yelled for them or just reached over their neighbor to help themselves. And of course there was lots of "Watch this, Mom!" as they slurped the noodles into their mouths Lady and the Tramp style.

In the moment, I could barely eat without being totally grossed out and struggled with losing my appetite. Now, a few hours later, I feel grateful for spaghetti and kids to eat it with. But let me say, it's a struggle for me to realize what my life looks like compared to what I thought it would be. Like, my dreams of motherhood never really included eating dinner with a bunch of savage beasts who scream my name not because they love me, but because they want milk. And when I used to associate spaghetti dinner with fundraisers and the Olive Garden, I now think greasy bathwater and laundry stains.

But they LOVE it, so I make it. Over and over again. All the mess and cleaning required is totally worth it to me to give my beloved family a yummy dinner. Period.


Art & Misc

I'll try to make this short. But I'm behind on updating life here and a lot has gone on. Easter and Cash's 4th birthday and a concert to name a few. And I'd like also to share what I've been thinking about lately-- creativity.

It seems as if I've been molded in life for creative things and pursuits. I began as a small child with music. I started taking photographs in high school. I got my college degree in art. I taught drama for a time after college. I write. I long to be good at just one of these things but find myself doing just a little of each and never mastering anything. Yet all of this together actually has made me good at one thing: cheering on the arts. (I was a cheerleader too, so it all comes together.)

I have always felt that one is closest to God, their own creator, when they create. Even the most "uncreative" (so they say) person can make something new. I never believe someone when they tell me they are not "artsy" or creative. I tell them, "You get dressed every day. You are wearing art. And if you don't wear clothes, that's an artistic statement itself." And what's more, we all listen to music and watch various kinds of media every day. Art is everywhere. You can't escape it.

Cash turned 4 this week and we went to a park to open some presents and have a little party with his Nana and Pop-Pop. All he wanted was a chocolate covered granola bar and an umbrella. He got both. He also got some presents. I had found a bunch of Star Wars figures at a garage sale so I snatched them up and wrapped them for Cash. One was Darth Vader. He looked down into the gift bag, saw who was coming next, and began to sing "dum dum dum, dum-da-dum, dum-da-dum" as he pulled if from the bag. Thank you, John Williams. Do you see how art just makes our life more fun? And presses in on us without our conscious consent.

Last night we helped put on a concert by Eric Peters, an independent musician from Nashville, TN. Jimmy and I have been wanting to bring him back to Tallahassee since we saw him here in college a couple times. He put on a great acoustic show and we played a few songs before he went on. Jackson got to go with us to watch. The last time we played a concert was March of 2003. Jackson was 18 months old. So he doesn't remember seeing us play. He video taped it and ran concessions and pretty much had a blast. We left the concert and he told me he wanted to see other bands live. Like U2. Eric or "Mr. Harry Peters" as Cash was calling him stayed with us overnight and Jackson enjoyed showing him his worlds he's drawn and cried when he left. I truly think Jackson felt inspired creatively by the whole experience. It was great to watch.

So I myself am encouraged anew to support art. Especially art done by artists that realize where their gift came from. Creative talents and gifts can only come from heaven itself. I always said I would have a wall in my house that my kids could draw on. I never did this, but my refusal to remove sharpies from the premises have afforded me enough permanent art. My kids are like little creative plants and I hope I can water them every single day. May I encourage them and other artists I meet to "Create, create, create. Produce, produce, produce." And as a result give back to God what was already His in the first place.
About the photos: Cash at his preschool party wearing his "4" crown. And also a good one of he and Libby, whom we now refer to as "the middles." Also some pictures from Easter, when we dyed eggs and ran in the grass in our Easter clothes. And one of Eric Peters, whom I did a photo shoot with this morning before he left.