Nearly 2 years of doing this 10 on 10 project and this might be a first... an entire 10 on 10 without a single picture of my kids! Instead of the usual cuteness, here's a glimpse into Day 1 of the ClickAway conference in San Antonio...
I'm so excited to finally share with you what I've been up to the past month. I've been wanting to learn DSLR video for a while now, and when I learned of Emily Mitchell and her awesome workshop, I knew it was time to sign up. Let me tell you guys - this workshop is INTENSE, but so so so worth it. Whether you want to learn to shoot video for clients, or just to document your own family (me!) Emily teaches you in a way that's approachable, thorough, and supportive. You learn camera settings, stabilization and shooting techniques, editing, audio, music... the whole shebang. I had ZERO video skills when I started this class, but now I feel like I have this awesome tool to help me tell my family's story. I really can't recommend this class more highly.
The video above was my final assignment... a month of taking video and somehow it all came together into this sweet glimpse into life with my 3 favorite people. It's not perfect, but it's us and I'm so very happy to have it.
Summer break with you sure flew by this year! Even though it's only 2 weeks, we always pack so much fun into that short time together. From the backyard to the creamery and many adventures in between, we spent our days being silly and carefree. I think my favorite day was when you and Jonah turned a simple art project into a full on body painting extravaganza. I hope I never forget the sound of your laughter as I hosed you off afterward. :)
As you head back to school this week, I want you to know how very proud of you I am. You have one of the kindest, most thoughtful hearts I've ever known, and that's no more apparent than in your love for Jonah. It's his first week at your school, and while you're very excited that he's finally in the same school as you, he's naturally having a lot of anxiety as he adjusts to new people and new routines. I can't even tell you how proud it made me to hear from his teacher that you went over to his room yesterday to help him feel better, and that his special treat after nap was to go see his big sister. It was your first day back, too, and you had every right to want to spend it playing with your friends. But instead you were there for your little brother when he needed you. That's a big job you took on, and you did it with the grace and generosity of someone well beyond your 4 years. They say our children are our greatest teachers, and you my girl make me certain that's true.
I'm joined in this letter writing project by some very talented photographers. I encourage you to head over to Melissa's blog to read her letter, then follow the links until you land back here!
Another great 4th of July at the cabin! The highlight of the weekend was Emma finally fishing on her own (she's been building up to it for the past two summers). She was fearless, persistent, and hilarious. She named each worm, named each fish, and comforted the fish as Jared removed the hook. She probably caught 10 fish all on her own by the time the weekend was over, and was so thrilled to be a "real fishergirl!" :) /1/ Taking this big sister thing to a new level
/2/ Perfectly capable of doing it on his own
/3/ My favorite old door in all the land
/5/ Got a bite!
/6/ Back to wandering
/7/ Time to cool down
/8/ I believe this one was "Slimy Joe"
/9/ Reel 'em in!
/10/ My guys <3
Please head over to Dominique's blog to check out her incredible 10 on 10!
We were in North Carolina this past weekend, and despite 15 hours in the car with 2 toddlers over 2 days, we had a great time. The kids were especially excited about their first hotel stay (that they remember). /1, 2/ morning cartoons
/3, 4, 5/ when in Rome
/6, 7, 8/ back in the car
/9, 10/ big kid cups are the best
Click here to check out Carri's stellar 10 on 10!
My darling girl... my almost 4 year old. What a joy it is to be your mama. I get a front row seat to the sweet, hilarious, fierce, thoughtful, creative wonder that is YOU. Spring has brought on a new, more mature phase for you... morning goodbyes at school are easier, you're taking on new responsibilities, and you've become so observant and curious about the world and people around you. We even have a special time before bed dedicated to you asking me whatever questions you want. Which always leads to more questions, and more questions after that. I think you'd stay up all night asking me questions if you could.
Your obsession with all things princess continues to intensify, and I'm slowly coming around to being okay with it. I always try to remind you that what makes the princesses we learn about most special is how kind, brave, and caring they are - not how pretty they are or how fancy their outfits may be. I don't know how much of that is sticking, but a mama's gotta try.
More than anything, what's best about this phase is how incredibly sweet you are with your brother and what an awesome big sister you're becoming. You've always been a great big sister, but now that Jonah is bigger and you can really play together it's clear what an important role you're going to play in each other's lives. You are so quick to show him things, share your food and toys, and comfort him when he's sad. He's still learning and not always the best at reciprocating your desire to share, but you're pretty understanding.
Nearly every night at bedtime, you say goodnight to Jonah by singing a song you learned from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. You just randomly started singing it to him a few months ago and we had no idea that you even knew the words, but it was pretty much the sweetest thing we'd ever heard. It goes:
"The moment I first held you, you seemed to me / The most wonderful gift to our family / Goodnight, sleep tight / Dream dreams as sweet as you"
He'll learn to love it. ;)
We love you so much, my sweet girl, and are always so proud to be your parents.
Please head over to Melissa’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!
What an awesome couple of months it's been since I last wrote to you! You are becoming a little boy right before our eyes, cute as can be and keeping us on our toes. You are eating constantly and have recently discovered how to get into the pantry. We have to be super diligent about putting the child lock on so as not to find you arm deep in a container of puffs and about to move on to the raisins. (Not that that happened or anything.)
Your curiosity knows no limits these days, and you're rapidly discovering all the new places you can reach, things you can turn on and off, doors you can open and close. Daddy and I are trying to pacify this desire by putting more Jonah-friendly things within reach, but that stuff is apparently quite boring compared to everything else just out of reach.
What I love most about this stage with you is how much you're talking and how excited you get when you can say a new word. You've put a great priority on learning all the food words (shocker), but you've also started saying "love you!" which is the best thing ever to hear at the end of a long work day. Just this week you finally got a handle on "Emma" (you used to call her Mama, which was rather confusing for all of us), and have been saying her name constantly for the past several days. You two have your sibling moments, but I know she so loves hearing you saying her name and asking for her.
When all is said and done - or eaten in your case - you're still our ever sweet little Jo... a snuggle bug who gives the best sloppy kisses and has one of the world's truly great smiles. We love you so much and can't wait to see what the next couple of months have in store for you.
Please head over to my very sweet friend Ally’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!
/1/ couch slide /2/ Huggle Buggle's turn
/3/ love this kid
/5/ old tracks at Harper's Ferry
/6/ hold on to your hats!
/7/ road weary
/8/ daddy's got you
/10/ time to head home
Now I encourage you to head over to Ann's blog to see her take on this month's 10 on 10!
My sweet Jonah,
What a wild ride this month has been with you! Injuries, illnesses, and your newfound desire to get into everything that isn't nailed down. There's no taking our eyes off of you right now, that's for sure. But for as mischievous as you've become, you're also getting sweeter - and smarter - by the day. You're at this awesome stage right now where every day you have a new word or a new trick and everything is starting to come together for you. As a parent, it's a pretty incredible thing to witness. I can see the baby in you diminishing by the day, so I'm trying to enjoy every single "wovey," "nnnack!," "tank you," and "buppy." I know all too soon they'll turn into "lovey," "snack," "thank you," and "up" and that bittersweet feeling of my baby turning into a toddler will wash over me. Not too fast, my sweet boy... not too fast.
Please head over to my immensely talented friend Ally's blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!
Whew! What a month October was for us! We usually try to avoid throwing a ton of change at you all at once, but this month it was pretty unavoidable. We kicked off the month by moving into our new house, and while Daddy and I were super worried about how you'd react to the move, you handled everything with patience and understanding well beyond your 3 years. You really seem to love the new house, having more space, and you especially love having a playroom.
Only a few days after moving, we left for our long awaited beach vacation. You were SO excited to spend a whole week at the beach and couldn't wait to dig your toes into the sand. We ate lots of Kohr's ice cream and we even bought you your very own kite. You loved running with Daddy to get it up in the air, then you'd take over the string and fly it all by yourself!
You and Zachary ran each other ragged each day, laughing one minute and bickering the next (like typical toddlers!) And you got lots of special time with Nana and Grandpa Ed.
I'll never forget you feeding the seagulls on one of our last days there. You were completely fearless, holding up the bread and letting them snatch it out of your hand. You were in heaven and could have spent all afternoon running around feeding those birds.
Not long after we got home from the beach, you had a school closure and we got to spend a special day just the two of us. While it's often hard for me to manage work and play on those days, I always look forward to them because spending time with you is one of my all time favorite things to do!
We finally trekked out to the pumpkin patch at Gaver Farm, and you had a blast. I think you tried every single activity they had, but your favorite was the cow train. (Which of course I didn't get a picture of!) You also had a school field trip to Mayne's and got to pick out even more pumpkins. It was so fun getting to see you with all your little school friends.
Lastly, the day you'd been waiting for most of all - HALLOWEEN! There is no article of clothing you've been more excited to wear than your Rapunzel dress. (Even now that Halloween is over you like to go into your closet and touch it, and your whole face lights up!) You looked perfect, and having Jonah as your Pascal made it even more fantastic. Once it was time for trick-or-treating you were super shy at first, but after a few houses you really got the hang of it and were running up ringing doorbells all by yourself. We were very proud of you, and it was impossible not to stand back and feel like you were growing up right before our eyes.
It was a month for the record books, my little love, filled with memories that I hope will last a lifetime. <3
I encourage you to head over to my super talented friend Renee’s blog to read her letter to her children.
I’m continuing my “Letters” project this year with a new group of my very dearest photography friends. Each month I’ll write a letter to one of my babies. This month it’s Emma’s turn…
We had Spring Break this month, which meant we had a whole week to hang out and do fun stuff. We started by making homemade moon sand. It was too cold to play with it outside, and I'd already gotten you excited about it, so I braced myself for a mess and let you have at it. My instructions to "make sure it stays inside the bin" apparently fell on deaf ears, but you had a blast and that's all that matters. :)
Next up we painted your toenails! You love having me paint your toes and you even got to pick out a special color at Target ("the red store"). You, of course, picked your favorite color - purple.
The next morning you let me do your hair in special braids and you looked like SUCH a big girl. No more braids for a while because mama can't handle how grown up they make you look.
Then it was off to Green Meadows, the local petting farm and one of your all time favorite places to visit. You know all the animals and especially love feeding the goats. That particular afternoon they even had an easter egg hunt! You were very excited to pick out your eggs, but weren't such a fan of the costumed Easter Bunny they had strolling around. People in big furry costumes aren't your thing.
I think your favorite part of the week was going to our dear friend Leslie's farm in Central Virginia with Titi and your cousin Zachary. You kids had a BLAST feeding the animals, running around the huge property, playing with all of Leslie's toys, and generally being complete goof balls.
After our sleepover at Leslie's we headed back to Titi's to play and get everything ready for Easter. We stayed the night there and, as usual, you woke up way too early. This meant iPad time until everyone else woke up. Hmm, no wonder you like waking up early!
You and Zachary were SO excited to get a very special Facetime call from Nana and Grandpa Ed! They were on a boat in Paris and we could see the Eiffel Tower in the background. You're obsessed with Madeline lately so that part was especially cool.
I apparently got tired of taking pictures at this point, so you'll have to take my word for it that you had an awesome Easter, filled with family, fun, and lots of yummy food. More importantly, we had SUCH a fun Spring Break! I loved having so much time to hang out with you and can't wait for our next day off together.
I encourage you to head over to my friend Ann’s blog to read her letter to her sweet boys.
For this month's 10 on 10 I wanted to do a day in the life series on my husband, Jared... For all the curveballs life has thrown us the past couple of years, and how tough the transition to two kids has been, I look at these photos and know I married the right person. Aside from being a genuinely great guy, he's such a wonderful father and husband. I feel blessed to know the example he's setting for our children of what a real man is. \1\ Start your engines
\2\ He always makes us breakfast on the weekends
\3\ Driving to gymnastics
\4\ Jared to me: "Don't draw attention over here! I just want to eat my yogurt without having to share it with Emma." as he spitefully savors the last spoonful :)
\5\ They're starting to spend more quality time together now that Jonah is going longer between feedings... I love the bond they're developing
\6\ These two have so many little games they play... this one is where he "makes it windy inside" by blowing on her and she just cracks up
\7\ Pre-bath potty time, \8\ brusha brusha
\9\ Story time
\10\ Kicking back
I’m joined in this project by a group of amazing photographers… head on over to Christine’s blog to see a day in her life, then continue around the circle until you end up back here!
I’m continuing my “Letters” project this year with a new group of my very dearest photography friends. Each month I’ll write a letter to one of my babies. This month it’s Emma’s turn…
Well, you are officially two and a half. With. A. Bang. I was naive enough to think we'd somehow, miraculously skip over the terrible twos. But it turns out you're a normal kid with big feelings and you're having a tough time managing them. Daddy and I are trying our best to help you figure out how to express yourself, but sometimes you just need to scream and cry and let it all out. It breaks my heart, but I always tell you that it's okay to be sad and frustrated and angry. I feel that way sometimes, too. We work on taking deep breaths and always talk through things once you've calmed down. Sometimes neither of us handles these meltdowns very well, but we always learn and that's the best we can do. Anyway, enough with the tough stuff... let's get to the good stuff!
Your ability to communicate beyond your years continues to blow us away, and I love seeing the wheels turning as you work something out or make up something silly. You're becoming more and more curious about the world around you and have started asking questions about everything... "Is it Saturday? Yes or No?"... "Is this a boy or a girl?"... "Can I have 2 books or 3?"... "What are these kids doing?" And just today you read The Little Blue Truck to me and Daddy, and I was a big old sap and started crying halfway through. I know you were just reciting it from memory, but it was a glimpse into a day, not too far from now, when you are really reading to us. I felt so proud of you, and so excited for what's to come as you get a little older.
Lately, you've gotten really into playing with your Legos and I just love watching you build your "circus," as you call it. You'll build a tower as tall as you can reach, and then gleefully knock it down so that you can build it up again.
I think my favorite thing about you at this age is how sweet, cuddly, and generous you are. You always have a million moochies (kisses) for me and Daddy and Jonah, and you love to cook for us in your kitchen and share your loveys with your little brother. It makes you so happy to make us feel loved and cared for... it's one of your many qualities that I hope never goes away.
I love you so much, boo boo.
I encourage you to head over to my lovely friend Gwen’s blog to read her letter to her children.
Well, my little love, I can't believe this is my last letter for this project. It has been a year full of changes for you! This was you a year ago in my very first letter: You were still such a baby then, and now you are - without a doubt - a little girl. A year later, and you've weaned, potty trained, turned 2, got a big girl bed, become a big sister, and started at a new school. Some of those changes were easier than others, each one shaping this little person you're becoming - a person I am so insanely crazy about.
You blow me away every day with how smart, funny, and independent you are. "I can do it myself!" is something we hear several times a day, and you even requested a ladder for Christmas so that you could reach all the things you can't currently get to. (Sorry kiddo, not going to happen.) If there's one thing I know for sure about you, it's that you will walk through this world in your own way and in your own time. And when that's not driving me bananas, I find it immensely inspiring.
I can't imagine how much more you're going to change in the coming year, but I'm so glad I get to be along for the ride. I'm especially looking forward to seeing you grow in your role as a big sister... you've started having little conversations with your brother, and you're so anxious to share your toys with him. Trust me, he'll be crawling after you in no time.
I know I've said it in all of these letters, but I sure hope you know how very much I love you. I feel like I won the kid lottery with you and Jonah. Here's to another year of laughter, love, and lots and lots of hugs and moochies.
I am joined in this “Letters to our Children” blog circle by an amazing group of photographers and moms. Together, we’ve been writing these letters every month in honor of our love for our sons and daughters. I encourage you to head over to my dear friend Kristy’s blog to read her letter, and then continue on around the circle!
PS... While I'm sad this project has come to an end, I'm very excited to start a new project in 2014 called 10 on 10, which be like a monthly "day in the life" of our little family. Look for the first post in a few weeks!
Jonah Paul Shellaway... born at 2:54am on September 30th, 2013
You're here! You're here, and life is fuller and more wonderful than we ever imagined. I have been so completely overwhelmed with love from the first moment I held you. You are just the sweetest, cuddliest, sleepiest little guy and I can't imagine a more perfect addition to our family.
It's time for your old mom to get a little sappy on you... We're so close to meeting you and I want you to know what a privilege it has been to be on this journey with you. That's really the whole reason for doing these photos and letters every week - so you can someday see how blessed I felt to be pregnant with you. That no matter how uncomfortable I've gotten, and though some weeks the last thing I want to do is lug out my tripod and take a self portrait, I know that someday you'll be able to look back through this series and see how much I loved you - from the very beginning - and how very lucky I have always felt to be your mama.