Monday, February 28, 2011

Compromise

When you see those two pink lines, you spend weeks with a goofy smile on your face and big dreams in your heart.

As expectant parents, we imagine our rosy, giggle-filled lives with perfect babies and attainable ideals.  We plan the kind of parents we will be. We absorb information from books, doctors, and other parents.

But the "rules" of parenting seem to change daily.  The books and doctors and studies can't seem to agree. But we absorb and we set our own standards.

There isn't a woman out there that hasn't said "oh, I'll never ______."  {Fill in the blank with "let him cry it out," "let her watch tv," "feed her formula," "let him sleep in our bed," or what have you.}  We all have our "never-evers."

And then a sweet baby with tears and snot and dirty diapers enters your life.  And while you mostly stick to your guns, you also learn the necessity of compromise.

You learn to roll with the punches and do what is best for your family.

I wanted to try cloth diapering and baby wearing, and I did.

I promised myself I would try breastfeeding for at least 9 months, and we are still going strong at 13.

I vowed to read to our daughter every day, and I do. And sing.  And dance.  And pray.

I planned to talk to her often, like an adult, to increase her verbal skills. We do.

But sometimes the best laid plans need to be reevaluated.

I didn't want Kherington exposed to TV for her first year or two.  But I soon learned that it was a bit unrealistic for our family.  I never leave her sitting in front of the tube.  But sometimes nick jr. is on as I cook dinner and she plays with her toys.  Sometimes we watch Christian worship videos, dancing around together. And sometimes adult shows are on, that she just ignores.

I promised to always feed my kids a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein.  And I do.  But when she isn't feeling well, my kid refuses anything but yogurt... and I just keep on spoonin' it in.  And she's tried baked cheetos, and lived to tell about it, too.

I didn't plan on having a bumper in her crib after reading about the dangers of SIDS and suffocation.  But after doing some research, adjusting our bumpers to allow air flow, and knowing my child's sleep habits and abilities, I allowed them and never looked back.

I swore I would keep her carseat facing backwards until the very DAY she reached the maximum weight limit and had to be turned around.  But when strapping her in became a daily battle, I turned her around, put her very safe carseat in the middle seat of my safe vehicle with latch, and drove happily on.

I'm flexible. I make compromises. 

Some parents would not agree with my decisions.  But I'm very comfortable in my parenting skin. I feel solid in my decisions and in the way our daughter is flourishing.

Something I will still never-ever do?  Use a toddler leash. ick.  Never-ever, ever... unless I have 14 month old triplets at Grand Central Station.  and then I'd probably need some xanax, too.

I'm a good mom and I make compromises.

What compromises have you made as a parent?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And God Said...

I have blogged before about sibling spacing.


Before children, Skip and I talked about having kids 3-4 years apart. After Kherington, that dwindled down to 2.5 years.


So we decided we will start “actively” trying to conceive late this summer.


For the last nine months, we have not been preventing pregnancy. With our chances of conceiving less than 2% a month, me breastfeeding, and no pharmaceutical or medical help, we know our odds are really low. We also know that if we get pregnant, that would be a blessing, not an “oops.”


So we have our plan for this summer.

We have no idea if getting pregnant again will be easy, or another 2.5 year medical nightmare with tears and heartache.

But we have a loose plan and we trust God.

We put our family in His hands.


And God said….







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SURPRISE!


I know!

I must have double-checked those two pink lines at least 100 times myself.

{Note: this isn't facebook news quite yet!}



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In early October Kherington will become a Big Sister.

20{ish} months apart. Yikes! What an adventure!


We conceived Kherington on our third anniversary. We learned we were pregnant with her on Memorial Day.


This time we conceived on our daughter’s first birthday. And we learned we were pregnant on Skip’s thirtieth birthday.


And I think that is pretty special.


It might not be what we had planned.


But it turns out we like God’s plan better, anyway!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Love of Learning


Meet Ms. Phyllis, Kherington’s pre-school teacher.


As KherBear’s second “semester” is well underway, I thought I would give you an update since this post on her very first, heartbreaking day.

Then, I worried that I would miss too much and hate leaving her each day. But, I needn’t have worried.

Kherington loves school and has never once cried or clung to me. She goes willingly to Ms. Phyllis and plays happily with her friends. Ms. Phyllis has been in the infant room for 18 years, so I certainly don't have to doubt her abilities.

For a few short hours 4 days a week, they play, learn, read, do crafts, sing, go to worship with the older children, eat, and nap. She is there 20 hours a week, about 6 of which she is asleep. Most children of working parents are in day care at least 50 hours a week. I don’t think I could stomach that, so I’m extremely grateful that what we have works for us.

I love that she has someone else stimulating her brain and feeding her creativity. I love that she is social and comfortable and loved. I love that she is part of the church family.

When I pick her up each day, she is always happy to see me but not always eager to leave.

And my biggest fear when she began? I worried I would miss the important stuff, the memorable milestones. But that was silly; those few hours when I dash off to work don’t even compare to the hours of one-on-one quality time that she and I get in the afternoons and the rest of the week. Every big milestone has been at home, with her proud Mama cheering her on.

I used to think that the best place for a child was always at home with her parent. But I have to admit that Kherington being in pre-school is really good for her. It has opened her mind and allowed new experiences. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the means I might choose to be a stay-at-home-mom/photographer, but I’d still send her to pre-school… just two days a week instead of four. But we do what we need to do, right?

If I have to be at the office, I’m so glad that someone is reading to her and teaching her about God.

I am so grateful to have this affordable Christian learning environment for her that I feel completely comfortable with. God always provides for us, doesn’t He?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letters to Kherington

Dear Kherington,

Tonight I heard you dreaming in your sleep, so I crept into your room to peek.

You were sprawled across the mattress like an X, your monkey lovie in your hand.

As golden moonlight tip-toed across your skin and whispered through your hair, you cooed delightfully in your slumber. Your mouth turned up at the corners in quick, sleepy smirks.

Even your dreams are happy, sweet girl.

What more could a Mama ask for?

Monday, February 14, 2011

V Day

I’m a hopeless romantic.

I’m in love with love.

And I’m madly in love with my husband.

But I don’t do Valentine’s Day.

Ever.

We don’t exchange gifts or do anything special.

It just seems too contrived to me, too commercialized.

I don’t want my husband to tell me he loves me on February 14th because society says he should. I want him to tell me every day, because he wants to.

I don’t want $75 red roses on V day. I’d prefer a fistful of wildflowers on a random Tuesday because they made him think of me.

I don’t want a fancy candlelit dinner out with the rest of America. I’d prefer a cozy dinner at home with my daughter throwing food on the floor and the dogs begging to lick our plates.

I don’t want a mushy hallmark card that he didn’t write. I’d prefer a heart drawn in the foggy bathroom mirror.

I don’t want a fancy date night. I’d prefer a dance with my husband in the kitchen to the rhythm of Kherington’s laughter.

I don’t want chocolate covered strawberries… wait, yes. Yes, I do. I always want that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Parenting Products #2

As I enter new stages in my kiddo's life, I like to share parenting products that are currently rockin' my world. Remember this post when Kherington was teeny tiny?

If they are ever paying sponsors or gave me their product for free {like some of my reviews}, I'll make sure and tell you. Otherwise, I'm just an adoring fan!

Favorite Parenting Products #2:

1. The Munchkin Snack Catcher- hello clean floors and car seat, goodbye Mommy feeding baby one at a time! We use this daily. It rocks.

2. The mamaRoo- After seeing one of these brilliant contraptions in action {and drooling over the sleek design}, I entered a contest every day to win one from 4Moms, and it worked! You can expect a full review and love letter when we have another wee babe to rock. But this baby swing moves in unique ways {like a Mama!}, hooks up to your iPod, and is sure to make your baby happy!

3. Clouds and Stars QuickZip Crib Sheet- genius! I hate changing those tight crib sheets.... pulling out the mattress and wrestling the sheet on. It's awful. This sheet zips around the edge so you never have to pull the mattress out. The zipper is protected and doesn't ever touch my baby. I resisted for months because it didn't match our cute bedding. But now I'm a believer!

4. Badger Basket Corner Changing Table- Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful that I chose this changing table. I love, love, love the feet-towards-me design. Even wiggly toddlers don't roll around, or off! It fits in the corner and holds all my crap. {err... poor choice of words?!}

5. Ergo Baby Carrier- I've been a baby wearer since the beginning. I've used 5 or 6 different carriers {rememer this review}, but the Ergo is now my go-to. It is awesome in all sorts of ways, but what it comes down to is comfort, for Kherington and for Mommy. {even with a 24 pound toddler!}

6. Ella's Kitchen Organic Baby Food- I am not the "only organic" type and I don't buy fancy baby food. But I love to buy some of these varieties every once in awhile. They offer really unique combinations that include hard-to-find things like spinach, rutabaga, and broccoli. Kherington is now almost completely on adult table food, but when the dinner I cook isn't as healthy as I'd like, she scarfs these down with gusto.

7. LeapFrog My Pal Scout- Kherington adores her green puppy that sings to her and calls her by name! A simple toy that you plug into your computer and customize with your child's favorite things, name, and songs. Very affordable.

8. I Like it When by Mary Murphy- this is one of Kherington's favorite books, and mine, too! The bright colorful penguin photos catch her eye and the simple child-directed words are interesting, positive, and keep her eager for more.


Also... coming soon is an update on my Cloth Diaper Review. As Kherington's needs have changed, so have my favorite cloth diapers. I'll share the poop scoop very soon!

But tell me, what are your favorite parenting products?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Our Daughter...

Hoarder of socks.
Remover of fridge magnets.
Eater of yogurt.
Giver of kisses.
Shaker of booty.
Mimicker of sounds.
Stealer of food.
Wearer of cloth diapers.
Climber of dishwasher.
Lover of kitty.
Shaker of head.
Demander of breastmilk.
Player of instruments.
Turner of pages.
Adorer of baths.
Emptier of drawers.
Snuggler of monkeys.
Sorter of laundry.
Generator of laughs.
Feeder of puppies.
Raiser of eyebrows.
Stealer of hearts.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day

On those very rare occaisions that it snows in Central Texas, you pretty much have to bundle up your kiddo {and your husband} for the obligatory photos in the snow...


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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FAQ- Photography

I am a passionate person. I'm passionate about Christ, my family, and photography. Lots of other stuff, too. But nothing else gets me more questions from you!

Photography was my minor in college and evolved from a hobby to a professional career. As a busy working mom, I wish I had more time for it. {I really need to update my website and keep up with the business blog}

For now I'll keep squeezing in shoots, editing until I go crosseyed, and dreaming of the studio I'll have some day. {with much more room than I've got now!}

The number one question I get from blog readers these days is "when are you going to have another baby?" Number two is "where did you get the name Kherington?" Maybe I'll answer those later... maybe.

Number three is "What kind of camera do you use?" And I'll answer. But too many people think the magic is in the camera. The magic is in knowing how to use it. An expensive camera is worth every penny, but it won't do you a bit of good if you shoot in "auto" mode. But I digress...


My equipment:
I shoot with a Nikon D700. It is my best friend. Kidding... sorta.
I have a Nikon 17-55mm 2.8 lens and a Nikon 50 mm prime 1.4 lens
My backup camera is a Nikon D90.
Then I have an old Pentax K110D {many photographers shun pentax, but I stand by it}
I have a Pentax 50mm prime 1.4 lens, a Pentax 28-80mm 3.5 lens, and a Pentax 80-200mm 4.7 lens.
I have various flashes, filters, a lens baby, and all that cool crap.

My settings:
I almost always shoot in RAW format.
I use manual mode 60% of the time, aperture priority 35% of the time, and other modes for various reasons. My camera is never in auto mode unless I'm handing it to someone else to use.

My studio:
I have a very small space with backdrops, studio lights, softboxes, and far, far too many props. When at all possible, I use natural light.

My editing:
I edit with  Adobe RAW, Adobe Photoshop CS5 and sometimes Adobe Lightroom 4. {I still miss a real darkroom}

The second photography question I get is "how do you make the background blurry?" This is called bokeh and you do it by changing your aperture. You want a small number, which means a large shutter opening, which decreases depth of field. Look in your camera manual for aperture settings. I heart bokeh.

Thr third photography question from you guys is a general request for tips on photographing children and babies. First, turn off your flash! It isn't flattering to anyone. Try to put baby by a window and use natural light. If you go outside, shoot in the shade, not the direct sunlight. Experiment with angles... get down on the floor at their level. Focus on details like feet and sparkling eyes. I like naked babies or solid, non-distracting outfits. When they get older and are on the run, increase your shutter speed. Posed shots are good, but make sure you get those sweet kids-at-play photos, too. Let them be themselves!

Finally, keep practicing. I'm still learning every day. I take classes, read books, try new things, learn from other photographers, etc. I get better with every session.

I hope I answered your questions and didn't bore you too much.

Back to Kherington and every single cute thing she does! {as if that doesn't bore you!}

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