Falling in Love with Maisy

I knew I loved Maisy even before a pee stick told me I was pregnant.  I distinctly remember praying for her on a run one day, a week before even taking the test was a possibility, and I prayed that she would love Jesus to her very core, be so full of joy, and come out perfectly healthy.

The moment I touched her I knew I loved her.  This love was more a provident love.  I knew all I wanted to do was provide for her and care for her better than anyone else in the world has ever cared for anyone.

But it wasn’t until the day after the hardship of trying to care for a newborn while photographing Sarah + Travis‘ wedding and the full day of mothering maddness that followed that my head love for Maisy found my heart.  The thing is, I knew I loved Maisy but I didn’t feel it for a little while.  Perhaps part of this is due to the zombie-like nature I found myself in for the first week and a half of new motherhood, but perhaps it is the hardship that finally connected my head with my heart.  I have found it is only really “doing life” with someone that seals a friendship.  Maisy is and was an easy baby.  Motherhood and Maisy made sense to me and I was stress free… until Maisy’s 9th day.  On Maisy’s 9th day I photographed a wedding.  The wedding went well and Maisy was a champ, but the next day all hell broke loose.  Maisy seemed desperate to eat all day long despite the fact that overeating only ended in projective vomit (see”Upchuck and Church“).  It was an exhausting day and by the end of it I cried.  The next day I woke up to the same baby but with a new dose of help:  the moment my sleepy eyes met my newborn’s face my heart filled with this most bubbly, lovely goodness.  That was the moment I truly fell in love with my daughter.  A couple days later she knowingly smiled at me and we’ve been best friends ever since.

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So I’m Married to a Touring Musician

He comes home, he leaves, and he comes back again.  After over four years of marriage I have finally adjusted to such a reality.  Just like most couples get used to parting ways on weekdays, I have gotten used to parting with my husband for a day or a few days or a week or a month…

I hear a lot of “I could never do that” or “wow that must be hard” or “how do you do it?”  You don’t have to feel bad for me.  We chose this lifestyle and it does have its disadvantages but it most certainly has its advantages.

Disadvantages

I miss the night time snuggling.  He misses the night time snuggling.  Truth is, I think he has a harder time with this one than me.  At least, when he’s gone, I get to welcome the dogs into my bed.  The best bed snuggles he gets on the road is a butt bump with his brother.

A job on the road is a dangerous one.  Fortunately I am not a worrier.  However, I do have my moments.  Sometimes I get struck with a panic that any given moment my husband’s life might be obliterated while on the road.  They say car accidents are the 9th leading cause of death.  The Citizen Way boys drive themselves across the country overnight.  Crazy folks drive around in the middle of the night you know.  Sometimes Josh will tell me of a close call.  Like one time they were trekking along as usual when a semi truck freakishly swerved from the right of them to fishtailing around the front of them and into the ditch on the other side without even the slightest moment of contact.  I lean heavily on God’s protection and fold myself into the truth that no matter what happens He will get me through it.  There is beauty in that.  Beauty in needing God that way.

Sometimes he has more fun than I do.  Sometimes they play around at an amusement park, completely bypassing all the lines with their fancy VIP passes.  Sometimes they get to go to really warm places in the dead of winter and come home with some nice tans.  Sometimes he gets really cool, free stuff.  Sometimes he gets to go to a place I’ve always wanted to visit.  I love that he gets these things!  But I do admit that I occasionally experience a trickle of jealousy when the most exciting thing I’m doing is culling a wedding.

I just don’t fit in.  When Josh is gone I am half of a couple.  This means I don’t exactly fit in with my couple’s friends and I don’t fit in with single friends.  I think I fit in better with my single friends and, admittedly, tend to enjoy outings that aren’t strictly for the couples more than those that are while Josh is away.  In the early days of Josh hitting the road I would jump at any invitation to be out with people.  Not too long into my readiness though did I find it was hard to always be the single one at the couple’s outings.  I found myself feeling like a little black sheep that people felt sorry for but no one really knew what to do with.  More significantly, I found I became more homesick for Josh.  Sometimes this was a fond homesickness, I longed for him to come home.  Other times I grew frustrated that I didn’t get to be normal and have him around always like my other friends.  You can imagine that the latter was particularly grievous to our relationship.  Bummer for Josh to all of a sudden have a frustrated wife when he didn’t do anything wrong.  All that being said, there are so many times when I love going to couples outings so don’t be scared to invite me!  If I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it I’ll just hang back.

I’m stuck with the full load of responsibility.  When Josh is gone, especially for long periods of time, I soon get stressed by the load that falls on my shoulders.  I am suddenly also in charge of the matters Josh consistently takes care of.  As a result of this phenomenon I happened to take on most of the load on a daily basis.  This way, when he’s gone, I don’t get hit so hard with lots of extra responsibilities, I just get hit with the full load I normally handle.

Communication gets tough.  Those of you who are married know how important good communication is.  When Josh is on the road we are left to the occasional phone call and texting.  Of course this is helpful, but phone calls can only dig so deep.  I’ve come to find that certain good communication habits fall by the wayside when they haven’t been practiced even for a little while.  When we get back together we are suddenly held accountable again for body language or tone subtleties that get masked by a phone call. We tend to misunderstand or misread each other for a good chunk of time before we get adjusted back to good communication habits.  We also find just how much is left out of our phone conversations.  After all, it’s hard for Josh to be as transparent and sociable with me when a whole van of dudes will hear what he tells me too.

Advantages

I can get lots done when he’s gone.  Sometimes friends ask me how I possibly manage to be so stinking productive.  Well, the answer is, I am frequently left to my own devices and a girl’s gotta do something!  This is how I can tackle a photography business, freelance photography work, DIY projects, homesteading, cooking and baking, blogging, writing, and other varieties of productiveness that come my way.  This is, perhaps, the perk I enjoy most about our unique marriage.  I love feeling useful and like I’ve accomplished a lot in one day!  I love that in one day I can get all my photography work done, make a homemade meal from scratch, finish a DIY project or two, take the dogs to the dog park, and still sit down and read at the end of the day.

I get to be Miss Independent when he’s gone.  I basically get to live like a single person while Josh is away.  I get to do what I want, when I want, with who I want.  Sometimes I like to go out with my single friends while Josh is on the road.  Sometimes I rearrange the house.  Sometimes I let the house be messy.  And sometimes I clean the place until it’s sparkling.  Sometimes I like to watch Tangled three nights in a row.  Sometimes I like to make a salad the way I like it.  Sometimes I take the dogs for a long walk along the routes Josh hates.  Sometimes I play my favorite music very loud and dance as undignified as possible.  Sometimes I sit in complete silence for as long as I want.

Alone time is good.  I’m not sure if it’s because of my lifestyle that I value alone time and quiet time so much or if it’s the way I was from the beginning, but all I know is the moment Josh comes home I am struck my how much more noisy my life gets.  When it’s just me at the house I get to choose any and all noise that fills my ears.  Then, suddenly, when Josh gets back my whole day is packed with music or other noise – sometimes I even experience the noise through the night with heavy breathing or as I try to lay down to sleep while he’s still working on a song in his studio.  If Josh isn’t actively writing or rehearsing a song, teaching music lessons, or performing on stage he’s usually still singing some song as he goes about his day.  What I’ve learned in all this is that, eventually, even music just becomes noise.  The bit I miss least when Josh is gone is the repetitive song playing.  When he’s recording or practicing a song I hear the same one line of melody so many times that my feelings towards that line of notes is no different than to how I would respond to a broken record or someone unrelentingly knocking on my front door for an hour.  This admittance pains me because I feel guilty for feeling this way – especially when most folks comment on how I’m so lucky to have my house filled with live music all the time.  I will admit that the first time and even up to the fifth or sixth time I’ve heard the same song in a row I feel blessed and privileged… it’s when the song seems like it’s never going to end that my seams start to split.

The reunions are always incredible.  They say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  Well I’d say Josh and I are well advanced in fondness due to all the time spent apart!  Every time he leaves I am now in the habit if switching gears to life as an off-the-market single woman.  It’s like changing clothes to me now.  Simply switching gears.  My heart lives in this interestingly content place of getting things done, hanging with the dogs or friends, or soaking up some alone time while also wholly looking forward to the moment he walks back through the front doors and into my longing arms.  It feels like the honeymoon stage all over again!  You may be thinking, well I’m sure glad I’m not in the honeymoon phase anymore!  We were way too emotionally insane and unbalanced to want to go back to that!  Let me tell you a secret, this perpetual “honeymoon phase” of ours is a different kind of animal.  Instead of coupling the intense emotional excitement and passion with so much miscommunication and misunderstanding we get only the former!  Cool huh?  Perhaps this sounds totally not fun to you, but I’ve come to love the emotional highs and lows.  Also, to be completely transparent, good ‘ol hanky panky after a forced period of time away is real nice.

Sometimes I get to go with.  For every tour he’s a part of I make a point to make it out to at least one show.  Even this small consolation of a free concert is enough to be a perk but it’s the overwhelming pride and joy I experience as I watch the world’s kindest and most adorable man living his dream out on stage that really takes the cake.  And to top it off, sometimes I even get the opportunity to go with to a really snazzy event or to an awesome location.  Some of my favorite “business” trips with Josh have been to the KLOVE Fan Awards and to the SESAC Awards Ceremony.

Love and Friendship

Even with all of the advantages to our marital lifestyle I must admit I do get significantly lonely when Josh is gone.  It is just me and the dogs at home after all and they aren’t much for conversation.  I know some people are unsure what to do with a lady in a situation like mine.  Do we invite her or not?  If I could choose, I would always be invited!  Even if I can’t make it I am always filled up with warm tingles when I am invited.  The only other alternative is me pestering all you folks to hang out with me and with a husband gone so frequently that truly gets exhausting!  Moral of the story, the best way to love on this lonesome wife is to invite me for a hang.

Moving Forward…

And now we just had a baby, a little girl.  I’m sure a lot of these advantages and disadvantages will start looking very different.  And I’ll probably have more to add now that we have Maisy around too.  Maybe I’ll fill you in after we’ve experienced a couple rounds of Papa being away 🙂

 

About Arguing and Dogs

I love my dogs.  They are simple, loving little creatures who’s life goals are as follows:  play outside, eat as much food as possible, and love and please their mama and be loved by her.  They also sleep often but sleeping for my two dogs doesn’t seem as much of a goal as it is something they do to pass the time between moments when they can be eating or playing outside or snuggling with me.

Sometimes I talk about them when people talk about their kids.  People talk about their kids a lot and the closest things I have to relate with are my dogs.  Sorry if I ever talk about my dogs around you, I’m just trying to join in on the kid conversation.

Anyway, my dogs teach me a lot.  In fact, they taught me how to argue well.

Sometimes Josh and I argue.  When we do my two dogs act very differently.

When Josh and I argue Haley hides and shivers uncontrollably.  If and when you find her again she’s a hunched over mess peering up at you with Precious Moment’s eyes while convulsing like she’s experiencing hypothermia.  Because of such a reaction, Josh and I started learning to tame our tongues in our arguments.  We noticed that the more tame our volume and tone remained the longer we could keep Haley in the room.  Thus, because of Haley, Josh and I learned how to argue civilly much sooner than we may have without her.

When Josh and I argue Sam follows me around with his tail slightly between his legs and his posture is wholly apologetic.

Haley’s fear of arguments is enough to melt my heart.  However, her approach to getting us to stop the flow of angry words can easily go unnoticed for a while.  But now there’s Sam. Turns out, it’s hard to yell at your spouse when there is an adorable fluff ball at your feet pleading for a chance to console you.

This morning Josh and I had a little spat.  I can’t say it was an argument or even a disagreement, just a moment when both of us felt frustrated in various ways that needed to be discussed.  Shortly into the chat I melted onto the floor, too overwhelmed by emotion to remain standing to cry about it (thank you pregnancy), and the moment I did Sam appeared in my lap.  I actually didn’t notice he’d arrived until I was already petting him and feeling much better already.  They say there is something calming about petting a dog.  Sam must know that and that’s why he chooses to sweetly offer his fluffy self up as a sort of sacrificial lamb in the middle of a heated spat.  Brave little bugger.

I think everyone should love dogs.  They teach me so much about God’s love all the time.  In arguments they both have their ways of encouraging the argument to desist.  Through Haley I can picture how God would need to leave the room when Josh and I spiral out of control and wait in the other room until we were ready to come back into his presence and be loving again – His goodness can’t stick around with such sin storming about.  Through Sam I can also picture how Jesus stays right beside me, offering his love like a warm blanket as I discuss hurt with my husband.

Thank God for dogs.

Our Annual Photo Spree + Our 3 MO Belly!

Every year, around our anniversary, Josh and I take pictures together. They end up added to a collage we have in our living room that one day will cover a whole wall I’m sure.  I LOVE our tradition!  This year I loved that we got to do our photo fun with Mandy again!  First of all, she is a wonderful, sweet, dear friend!  Second of all, she is an incredible photographer!  She also did our engagement photos and wedding.

Anyway,  I love our tradition because I truly love the time with Joshua and then being able to put up pictures of our ever growing love up around the house!

This year, our shoot was a little more special because we’re having a baby and couldn’t be more happy about it!  In this year’s blend of images you will see some “pregnancy” geared images.  (Our little peanut is 13 weeks cookin’ in these pictures – so, roughly, 3 months.  As I post this we are 17 weeks into this adventure!0001 0002 0003 0004 0005 0006 0007 0008 0009 0010 0011 0012 0013 0014 0015 0016 0017 0018 0019 0020 0021 0022 0023 0024 0025 0026 0027 0028 0029 0030 0031 0032 0033 0034 0035 0036 0037 0038 0039

Big thanks to Mandy Henry for the beautiful images!

Baby Beginnings

We are having a baby!  Yippee yippee yay!!!!!

As most stories start, I want to start this one at the very beginning.  Our big news starts well before conception.  An important tid bit to know about me is I don’t make decisions lightly, particularly not big decisions.  I have an unintentional rule of thumb for myself that I have to have 3 solid reasons for making any big leaps.  For example, before I got my eyebrow pierced I asked my parents for their approval.  When I did ask them my dad asked for my reasons, because he knew I would have them, and I have him these:  one, I was called a “goody-two-shoes” all through grade school because I didn’t flub up morally or rebel so I thought it was time to try and fix that a little, at least physically, specifically in the hopes of reaching those kids that might be afraid to approach a “goody-two-shoes” like me otherwise; two, my dad worked at a second chance high school and I wanted kids like those to feel like I was approachable; third, I thought they looked so cool.

So, you can imagine that if I thought so long and hard about getting a little eyebrow piercing, how convinced I would have to be in order to start a family.  Hence, the Lord obviously prepared my heart for welcoming kiddos into our family for at least a year and in doing so gave me a good, long list of solid reasons to have a baby.

I suppose the very beginning started when Josh and I got married.  We decided we were going to have kids, if we were going to have them, in about ten years – when I was about 30.  None-the-less, we still talked about kids fairly frequently.  We talked about what kind of parents we wanted to be, what our kids might be or look like, and what sort of traditions we would want to have with our family.

When I photographed my first set of twins with Bella Baby Photography at Good Shepherd Hospital our conversations picked up from a rare occasion to increasingly frequent.  There was something about photographing twins that really made my heart swell lovingly.

Then God took me another step forward and decided on the approach of talking to me through some key people.  First, my good friend Hannah had her first little boy about a year ago.  In talking with her about her pregnancy, delivery and keeping up life with an infant my eyes were opened to the reality I had hoped for in having kids.  Hannah has a similar personality and lifestyle to mine so hearing her story confirmed my hopes and dreams about maintaining an active pregnancy, delivering responsibly but naturally, and continuing to pursue career passions with a child.  These things are totally possible and I am so excited to tackle them myself now!

Then one of my best friends from high school, Alicia, had her first little boy.  Again, I had another woman with a like mind to talk to about pursuing a career and a natural approach with children.  Besides, when a best friend has a baby you fall head over heels for that little nephew!

Now, my friend Becky really did me in.  She not only booked me for 3, 6, and 9 month maternity photography but also for newborn and once a month photos of Scarlett over her first year of kickin’ it on planet Earth!  Scarlett is the epitome of adorable.  She’s got those big eyes, round face, and an adorable, dimpled, willing smile.  And I see this cutie once a month!  I remember asking Becky my list of questions after she had Scarlett.  How was your delivery?  How are you feeling?  How are you sleeping?  Were there any surprises with being a mommy?  With this last question, which is really my code question for “is this baby sucking the life out of you,” she answered just as my friends Hannah and Alicia did:  “yes I’m exhausted but I’m so happy to be.”

I hope I’m not putting words in your mouths dear friends, but when I asked you all my questions the first time I saw you with your babies you all totally won my heart over to the side of motherhood.  In the end, the key with all of these women was the fact that they not only were pursing dreams alongside raising their adorable children but they had amazing love testimonies to share!  Truth is, having a family scared me before because I usually heard blurbs about how kids suck the life out of you, how incredibly hard it is, and how they take over your whole life.  But these women told me and showed me what I had hoped for, that having kids is ultimately a blessing and that every day they are overjoyed to be moms!  These women have children in their lives, not children taking over their lives and dreams.

So now my baby fever meter was officially tickled.  I love kids.  I love Hannah, Alicia, and Becky’s babies.  And though I knew I loved kids, I was perfectly content just seeing them now and then.  But God had different plans, so He took to some more drastic measures to really get my attention; He chose a select set of days to turn my baby making decision upside down.

Key day #1:  We had a pregnancy scare.  Scare is harsh because we weren’t scared, and I think that’s the moment when we both realized separately that we were not only ready to welcome a kiddo into our family but that we were hoping the “accident” took an we were, in fact, pregnant.  I guess God didn’t want to impose that on us though, he wanted us to willingly give way before blessing us with a peanut, because we didn’t get pregnant at this moment.

Key day #2:  I photographed a very large and very adorable family.  As the story goes, Beth was desperate to get a session in with her dad and all of his family because she had gotten word he may not even have two weeks left.  He had been battling cancer for some time and the cancer was now officially winning the fight.  It took some maneuvering to get my schedule and that of all her family members aligned but we did it!  Not only was I touched by the story behind making this session happen but, more importantly, I was so moved by the closeness Beth’s dad had with all of his kids and grandkids; throughout breaks in shooting, various kiddos would walk over to him and make faces or sit on his lap or play some other silly game.

Key day #3:  I photographed a vow renewal ceremony.  This was a family of a 6 years married couple and 3 toddlers.  I fell in love with the family almost right away and the couple’s level of patience and absolute joy for their kids.  I also fell in love with their youngest daughter Kaia.  Sounds narcissistic I know, but if you look at the pictures I took of her you’ll see that it was those round, bright blue eyes and adorable chubby face that won me over.  I remember hopping in my car with a full heart and thinking, “I want a family like that and I think I might be ready now.”

Key day #3 continued:  I talked to my mom a little about the idea of having kids.  When I got home from my vow renewal ceremony I chatted with my mom in the kitchen for a while.  We easily ended up on the subject of kids since it obviously was now at the forefront of my brain.  A few key points came up in our conversation:  a good time for me and Josh to have a baby would be in the summer when he is more frequently and predictably home, Mom would come and help me with the baby, and me wanting another puppy was actually me wanting a baby.

Key day #3 continued some more:  I talked to Josh about my new revelations.  My mom asked me the other day how long Josh and I talked before deciding to start our family.  My answer, about 5 minutes.  After I chatted with my mom upstairs in the kitchen I went downstairs to see my hubby.  I fairly quickly worked into what was on my mind, “Hey so I just realized that summer would be a good time to have a baby since you’re home more and Mom said she would help take care of the baby on weekends we both have gigs.”  His reply was just as shocking, “So do you want to make a baby?”  I think I blushed, which is funny because I’m married to the guy, and I stumbled on my words mumbling about how that’s not what I meant but that I just wanted to share my new found wisdom.  He simply asked the question again.  We got pregnant within days and found out officially on October 7th via a pregnancy test.  The coolest thing about all of that is that I had a specific prayer since photographing that set of twins at the hospital that if and when Josh and I were supposed to start the baby making journey that Josh would give us the green light, not me.

So maybe you’re wondering what my list of reasons to make this baby were?  Yes, it is important to me to be able to follow our dreams while raising a family. Yes, it totally meant the world to me to confirm that it was, in fact, more than possible for babies to integrate into the life structure you created instead of them taking over the whole show.  And yes, I did want a baby.  But, honestly, my list was only this long.

  1. God asked us to let go and let him make our little miracle.

That was all I really needed to know.  I know our journey may be tough at times, but I am so excited to be taking this adventure with the love of my life.  I think we are going to have some fun!

Happy New Year everyone!