These Little Wonders

A Photo Every Day – A 366 Project


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Post Nap Snack

Put Isla down for a nap and forgot I’d left some toilet rolls on the bed.  Heard a rustling on the baby monitor and figured Isla had woken from her nap – went in to get her and found she’d helped herself to a little snack lol!  Couldn’t stop laughing!  (And don’t worry, I didn’t let her swallow any – she was just having such fun I had to get a couple of pictures!)

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Imperfection

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I call this image “Perfection can kiss my ass” ;-P

This week on the My Four Hens Photography 52 Project I am taking part in, the theme for the week was “imperfection”.  It seems to struck a chord with a lot of the project participants.

I see so many women, not just in this project, but every day saying “I’m not perfect but I try. I’m not the perfect mother but I do my best.” Well guess what ladies – none of us are perfect because perfect doesn’t exist. Not for human beings anyway. Imperfection is what we ARE, all of us. None of us are the perfect parents, the perfect partners, the perfect people. You know that Pinterest mum who always seems to be doing amazing craft projects and packing organic school lunches? You can bet your bottom dollar she ain’t perfect either.

I struggled the majority of my teens and 20s with body image and (not) eating issues. While I have largely overcome those to a practical extent, I still look at my body and see saggy post-baby boobs, a straight-up-and-down ruler physique, unruly untameable hair, a face I don’t like – not pretty, red ruddy skin, slowly accruing the signs of age.

Since the birth of my daughter two and a bit years ago, I have struggled with motherhood. As someone in love with quiet and solitude, I struggle with the chaos, the energy required, the constantness of being NEEDED so damn much and often. So many many times I go to bed, the house in a mess, the day in a mess, feeling I am so much less than she deserves me to be.

But in the midst of all this imperfection, I began to pick up a camera. And photography grew to be to me so much more to me than a record of memories. Photography made me not just see the imperfection, not just accept it – but to embrace it, to love it, to realise that imperfection is what makes life REAL and it is far more beautiful than any fake idea of perfection that doesn’t even exist anyway.

This theme this week was both easy and hard for me. It was easy because the way I shoot has trained me to see the imperfection everywhere. But it was hard because the more you see it, the more you learn to love it, the more you realise that nothing is really imperfect, that everything has it’s own perfection. Or perhaps rather, that everything is imperfect and that is the most perfect, beautiful thing of all. The words become meaningless – perfect, imperfect – it all just IS and shines in its own way.

So this image is me. Me in the middle of my ordinary, messy lounge – my ordinary, messy life. This is me owning my imperfection. This is me kicking perfection’s ass and handing it to it on a platter. This is me but it could be you, it could be any of us. Let’s release perfection’s hold on us – as parents, as people, as photographers – and dive head first in to radical love of self and life in all their imperfect glory.


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{Project: Gratitude 2014} Quiet Moments

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This year I am going to be taking part in Project: Gratitude – a new initiative run by the wonderful Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman of Jellybean Pictures.  If you haven’t checked out her work before, you should do it now – any photographer with the slogan “Real is Awesome” is going to be a favourite of mine!  She’s also a very down-to-earth, genuine lady with a great kindness and honesty for teaching others about photography.

The project is a very simple one with no rules which is wonderfully freeing, especially if you’ve ever done a 365 project or the like.  You just shoot the things you are grateful for.  It can be daily, weekly, monthly or whenever you damn well feel like it.  Just be grateful and document it.

Today is the 31st of December 2013 and I am already grateful.  I have had a tough tough tough couple of weeks in 2 year old land.  It has really pushed me to my limits.  Today was Scarlett’s first day care day in about two weeks and I took the day off work to sleep and recover some of my mental wellbeing.  It has felt way too short but so freaking good (and needed!).

So today I am grateful for quiet moments, wherever I am able to salvage them in this madness called motherhood.  I am grateful for a day carer I trust, a partner who supports me, and above all – sweet sweet rejuvenating peaceful silence and stillness.

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A Changing Perspective

If I didn’t have a child, I wouldn’t be sitting here in a park at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning.

Is the thought that hit me.

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At almost any other time over the past almost 2 1/2 years, this would not have been a positive thought.  This would have been a wistful thought, a longing… a daydream of easier days, of wine nights and sleep in mornings, of the simple hedonistic pleasure of a self-directed life.

But this morning… after a missed nap yesterday led to an early night last night, which in turn led to a 4:30 am wake up today… which in turn led to an early morning park visit to wear a certain toddler out and beat the rising heat…

…. this morning it was different.

I was sitting on the swing next to her, both of us swinging away quietly in the morning sun…

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… and maybe it was the soft cool-warmth of the air or way the light was hitting her hair or the silence of the park broken only by birdsong…

… but the thought hit me:

If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be sitting here in this soft early morning sunlight having a swing at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning with a little companion beside me.

And in that instant, I knew – and felt – that it wasn’t a negative thought.

Maybe… just maybe… it was a very content and blessed one.  A lucky one.  A grateful one.

Maybe – finally – a happy one.

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We speak a lot as parents about children having “milestones” which they encounter and achieve along their journey of growth towards adulthood.

Maybe mothers have milestones too.  Milestones in the inner journey of growing into motherhood.

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Scarlett, my physically wary little girl, went down the slide all by herself for the first time today.

Maybe today was a milestone day.

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These Small Hours – The Reason Behind The Blog Name Change

I started this blog three years ago, when two little pee lines changed my life.  I discovered I was carrying a very surprise pregnancy and I started the blog to share my experiences.  I called it “Life After Two Blue Lines” – because those two lines seemed a watershed moment to me, a defining point in my life of before and after.

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I wasn’t wrong.  For the next 9 months my life revolved around my pregnancy, and for the next year or two after that my life revolved around the challenge and adventure of reconciling myself to the realities of motherhood and embracing the journey it entails.  I haven’t used this blog nearly as much as I should have – as much as I wish I had – to record that journey, but it has been here nonetheless as my little place of self-expression and discovery.

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Lately, however, as I grow into my role as mum, I have begun to feel confined by the name “Life After Two Blue Lines” as I feel it defines me and my life purely in terms of motherhood.  As I grow into this new life, I am able to slowly remember that I am a mum yes, first and always, but I am also more, I am also else, I am also other.  I am also still me – a new me, a growing me, a changed me… but still me.  Still me whole unto myself as well as being “Mum”.

At the end of the day I think my life story will always be defined around the incredible power of those two lines.  And me the mum and me the person will always be completely, utterly and inextricably intertwined.  And yet I feel it is important to maintain a sense of myself, of my own passions and interests, besides the wiping of bums and cuddling of a sweet and cheeky little body.

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The title “These Small Hours” comes from the lyrics of the Rob Thomas song “These Little Wonders, which has always spoken right into the core of me.  From the moment I hear the first bars, the first few words, I feel my shoulders relax and I start to remember what life is really about.

let it go,
let it roll right off your shoulder
don’t you know
the hardest part is over
let it in,
let your clarity define you
in the end
we will only just remember how it feels

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

let it slide,
let your troubles fall behind you
let it shine
until you feel it all around you
and i don’t mind
if it’s me you need to turn to
we’ll get by,
it’s the heart that really matters in the end

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

all of my regret
will wash away some how
but i can not forget
the way i feel right now

in these small hours
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away
but these small hours

these small hours
still remain

 To me this simple, beautiful song sums up so much that is important to me.

It sums up parenthood – how the beauty of it lies in the small hours – these little wonders – the simple magic of the day to day.

It sums up life – not the big excitements and achievements – but the small hours, the ordinary, the RIGHT NOW where all of life exists, where our lives are truly made.  It reminds you to cherish each day and see what is special in each moment and to remember what is really important –

– It’s the heart that really matters in the end.

And it sums up my approach to photography, my absolute passion for it, my desire to document all of those small hours, those tiny ordinary moments and little wonders that make life so special, so that one day, when
time falls away
these small hours
these small hours
still remain.

I’m afraid that in the end – I will only just remember how it feels.

I want to capture and celebrate the small hours.  I want to remember to dwell always in the small hours and see the little wonders that dwell there.

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I want to never forget
the way I feel right now.


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{Rock the Shot Forum} April Photo Challenge – “Motherhood”

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The theme for the April photo challenge over at www.rocktheshotforum.com is “Motherhood”.

As soon as I saw the theme, I knew I had to enter this photo.  This is an “outtake” from a breastfeeding session I did for my lovely friend Cat and her gorgeous little daughter Jazmine.  In fact, I didn’t even realise I had captured it until I downloaded my photos and found this little gem sitting there.

To me this photograph sums up motherhood completely.  Because motherhood is crazy and chaotic and hard and challenging… but every single bit of it is infused with this – just this pure love.  Just this eyes-squeezed-shut, soul-filling, heart-bursting, totally-pure, utterly-beyond-words love.  This photo expresses what cannot be put into words.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.

~ Helen Keller

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14 to 18 Months: An Energizer Parrot!

Sometime around the 14 month mark, Scarlett started walking.  To be honest, I actually don’t remember her “first steps”.  I do clearly remember one day, at a time when she had taken the odd step or two now and then,  that she suddenly walked a series of 3 or 4 steps across the lounge and Daddy C and I just looked at each other in surprise, because we hadn’t been expecting it.

IMG_2628-1-4One of the first times she stood on her own, at about 12.5 months

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From there it was just a gradual process of becoming more confident, and slowly transitioning her first choice of movement modality from crawling into walking.  By 15 months, walking was the mode of choice, with a funny little waddling run thrown in now and then.  I quickly forgot what it was like when she DIDN’T walk and she continued to gain confidence.

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Off a-waddlin at 16 months

I’m not sure I can explain why, but as soon as she started walking, I started enjoying motherhood with her a LOT more.  I struggled with life with a baby, but I LOVE having a toddler!  She is so fun, I love that she can get to where she wants to go by herself – she is less frustrated and is able to communicate better, because anything she can’t say, she can just go to or point at, and it helps immensely.  I love when she goes and chooses a book she wants and bring it to me to read – she is no longer just a receptacle, a recipient… she has her own ideas of what she wants to do and play with, and it’s so much more fun.

Her language also continues to grow and grow.  I made a little impromptu list  on her 17 month birthday, just out of curiosity and as a kind of keepsake.

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However, no sooner had I written the list, than it became redunant.  She is becoming more and more of a little parrot every day.  The things she comes out with these days continue to amaze me.   She also has a couple of sentences: she says “it’s a ___” or “that’s a ____”, for example: “itsa cat!” or “that’s a mummy”.  She also says “where’s ____?” while holding her hands out in an extremely cute little shrugging gesture and searching for the mentioned item: “where’s bowl?” or “where’s minna?”  She’ll say things I didn’t know she can say quite unexpectedly and both blow me away and crack me up at the same time… such as when she threw the flash cards all over the floor and then said “itsa mess!”  Hahaha yes, why yes bubba, it IS a mess!

She is an energizer bunny, she gets up at 6:30-7 am, has one nap and is often still going at 8:30-9 pm at night.  She has the funniest, zanniest little personality and it is so awesome watching it develop as she gets older.  She is such a little girl now… and I am loving it! 🙂

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14 Months Old

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15 Months Old

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16 Months Old

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17 Months Old

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Today on her 18 months birthday 🙂