Monday, August 29, 2016

The thing I realized my toddler craved: Control

Facebook showed me a memory from 2 years ago yesterday. It went like this: "Darrow may look like Cameron, but I'm pretty sure that just now when I pulled him off the bookshelf for the 10th time in a row in a series of 2 minutes and yelled, turned his back to me, banged his head on the floor, and then gave me a dirty look as he crawled back to the bookshelf, that it was 110% me. Neat."

And that statement has been proven true time and time again over the last 2 years. But, I realized something about a month ago that is making a huge difference. And I feel like a dork that it took me nearly 2 years of butting heads with a toddler to realize. 

It's all about the control, ('bout control, 'bout control -just channeling my inner Meghan Trainor there).

See, I like when I have everything under control in my sphere and with things relating to me. I like to plan my own day, have my space the way I want it, and things going the way I planned. It took me 2 years, but I realized that if Darrow is like me (and he's proven that over and over again), then it only makes sense that he's feeling the same way! He wants control. He doesn't want to be directed. He needs to feel like he's in charge of his sphere.

That light bulb was huge for me. I don't know why, but it was. You'd think that'd be an easy one, but it wasn't.

So I've been working to make some changes around here, and is hard! Giving him some control means me giving up some control. But isn't that what Motherhood is about, giving up what we want because what your child needs is more important?

Now, we're not just giving him carte blanche around here. There are things that are non-negotiable, such as staying in the yard, not playing with the oven, no throwing toys at Ione, not running away when we call him, etc. But I've found areas where if I give up some of my control over the situation, he can then exert his control. And it has made a world of difference! This is a much happier boy lately.

The first big one was bedtime and naps. Darrow is a night owl through and through (also a trait he got from me). Bedtime was often a huge fight. We'd put him to bed, he'd get out. We put him back in bed, he'd get out. We tried all different methods over the 2 years from various articles. Silently putting him to bed with no eye contact, calmly explaining why he needed to stay in bed, spanking, lying by him and wrapping our arms around him so he couldn't get off the bed until he cried himself to sleep, sitting down the hall and getting after him every time he got off the bed, and the list goes on. Nothing worked. Naptime was the same. He needed a nap, but it was a huge fight. 

So no instead of bedtime and naptime he has afternoon quiet time and bedtime quiet time. The rules are he stays in his room (in the afternoon it's a designated 2 hours-which is how long he usually naps). That's it. At night we get him in his jammies and do his nighttime routine (brush teeth, read a book, sing a song, prayers, kisses, milk, water, you know covering the excuse bases), and then he goes in his room for nighttime quiet time. During quiet time he gets to choose what he does and it's fine as long as he's in his room. The first 2-3 days he didn't nap, he just played in the afternoon, and at night he stayed up playing until 10 or midnight. But then the novelty wore off. 

Now for afternoon quiet time he plays for a little bit and then probably 4 times out of the week he'll climb in his bed and take a nap. At night he goes in and plays and probably 4 nights a week he is asleep by 8:30 or 9, with the others being up playing until 10-11. And then he sleeps later! Hallelujah! We moved Ione out of the room (she's an early riser and would wake him up before he's ready), and that's made it all even better. 

Everything we read said that kids needed a firm bedtime and a firm routine and having that nighttime schedule was important. So we tried to get that in place for 2 years and it just never worked. Darrow needed to feel that control. That one change has made the biggest difference out of everything lately. 

Beyond that I try to remember to let him choose things as much as possible. Are we playing in the front yard or backyard. What he eats for breakfast (I decide dinner and half the time lunch, but he gets to choose what he eats for breakfast). Which way we go when we take walks. Stuff like that. And it is enough that he feels more in control of his surroundings. 

On my end it means a lot of biting my tongue to keep from getting after him for things that are minor or trivial. Like smashing his sandwich flat before eating it (wiping up the bit of mess is easy, I can do that), or dumping all his toys out in his room just after we put them away, or flipping the curtains around, or carrying our shoes all over the house. I'd rather he didn't do those, but he's not being bad, he's not being destructive, and it's something I can just relax on and not be so uptight. 

So that's it, that's been the magic trick to a much happier, more well behaved, and much more rested Darrow: me giving up complete control so that he could have some control of his own!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Simple DIY Luau Decorations

Not too long ago I was helping come up with the decorations for another youth stake dance (this seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life, but I sure love it!). This time, the theme was a summer luau. Pulling ideas from Pinterst, past dances, the store, and the closet of old decorations that was passed down from previous youth leaders, we had more decorations than we had time to put up. 

Time. Now there was an interesting part to all of this. 

I was excited for this and headed into town to do my errands, pick up final supplies, and head to the church cultural hall to start decorating. I got all the way to Walmart (because that's our choice around here), 20ish miles away, and discovered that I didn't have a cent on me. My wallet was back at home. 

I couldn't really do anything without it, so back home I went and got the wallet. That was nearly an hour wasted. 

But finally I got the last supplies, got to the church and began unloading my car and searching the closet for any luau supplies (which there were buckets full...literally buckets). About half an hour after I got to the church, our President arrived and I went out to help unload her car, only to discover that I'd let the door close behind us, locking us out. See, being the only one at the church for just a little bit I'd only unlocked the one door long enough to get in and then closed it behind me. We were locked outside with no keys to get back in. Along with the church keys were our car keys and our cell phones. There was no way to get in touch with anyone who could help! 

So I went to a nearby house where I knew a church member lived hoping they'd have keys. And they were gone. We were getting ready to start canvasing the neighborhood when out of the corner of my eye I saw the missionaries leaving a back door of the church. We'd had no idea they were even in there! We dashed over there like crazy ladies (which we might have been getting close to at that point), and they let us in the door so we could get back in and decorate. More time lost. 

So in the end I didn't end up making the palm tree, or the palm leafy backdrop, or a few other things. But you know what...the kids had a great time, they ate almost all the refreshments, and it was a positive activity, so it's okay! 

I did get a few decorations made though! I want to share two of them with you because they are super easy and super cute! 

The first was our tiki pole.

I found this idea on Pinterest, linking back to the Design Sprinkles blog. Not wanting to ruin the paper bags, I used masking tape in a loop on the back of each face part to attach them to the bag. Beign in a hurry, I didn't make all the cool different shapes you see on the original bags, but these did the job well!

I had the idea to drop battery operated lights in them to make it a glowing tiki pole. Great idea, but it didn't work. The bags were too thick. I think next time instead of doing a tiki pole, I'll do tiki heads, luminary style with lunch bags so that they can glow all around the room. How cool would that look?!

We also found that if you stacked more than 4 of these up, it fell. So we ended up with 2 small stacks rather than one large one.

The other quick decoration I want to show you are our mini tiki torch lanterns.

These were a mini version of the lanterns found on the Design Sprinkles blog. I had a stack of 5" squares of scrapbook paper that I used for this. I followed the original instructions (folding in half to get a crease, and then cutting strips evenly around the paper, leaving a margin on top and bottom). Next I wrapped one margin end of the paper around a battery operated tea light and taped it in place. I couldn't find our scotch tape and didn't want a chunk of masking tape visible, so I stapled the tops closed. Not the smoothest look, but it sure did the job fast to use the stapler. These looked really cool out on the tables and glowed nicely!

After the dance we threw away the face parts of the tiki pole, but were able to keep all 6 of the bags for future gift giving, and the paper from all the tiki lanterns. It was all easy to put together and quick clean up!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

10 Years Down!

As a photographer, I get to tell stories. Stories of families with worn out but happy parents. Stories of new love. Stories of college anticipation. Stories of those who have passed on. No two stories are ever the same. I coach clients on adding in memories and meaning to their sessions, because that will make them more special. I encourage people to dive deep into the shoot and get everything they can out of it. 

And then it came my turn and I felt a little paralyzed! About a year ago we started talking about doing something special for our 10th Anniversary, and I knew as a part of that I wanted photos (just like we did for our 5th Anniversary). But then I got stuck. How do I plan that? Of the millions of ideas, how do I narrow it down? It was overwhelming at first and I had a Pinterest board full of gorgeous ideas. But then I realized I wasn't even taking my own advice. If the encouragement is there for my clients to add meaning in, then shouldn't I? And after that everything started falling together, and we ended up with such a magical and meaningful Anniversary Session with Trisha Shelley Photography

When it came to the location, I wanted it to be beautiful but have meaning. Narrowing down a spot was hard! Do we do it where we live now? Do we do it back home in New Mexico? Down in Tucson in the Sonoran Desert we miss so much? We just weren't sure. And then as I was talking plans with my friend Trisha, we realized that we would be up in Idaho at the exact same time. Light bulb! That was it! Something new for us as far as scenery for photos goes, but something so completely embedded in meaning for Cameron. Cameron's Mother's family is from Idaho, and Cameron spent a few summers living in Idaho working for his Uncle. It was perfect. So Idaho was set (more on the specific location later), and we started getting all the plans put together after that.

I wanted there to be meaning with everything possible. Right now my wedding dress does not fit (2 kids and a ton of cookies will do that to a girl), so I spent HOURS online looking for just the right dress. I wanted something orange, and I wanted to feel completely elegant and classy. I wanted it to embody who I am! As most of you probably know already, orange is my all time favorite color. At first I had truly orange dresses picked out, but they wouldn't quite have the soft feel I was going for, so then I went with peach. And found this beauty! (links for all pieces given at the end of this post)

I was nervous. This was a dress I ordered from China. I've already had my China dress problems. I've seen so many others that order dresses from China that have problems. A few vendors offered this dress, but I made sure to find the one with the best reviews, the best grammar, and the best ratings, and then just hoped that it would work from there! I put in my expedited order, added in my measurements and just hoped. The dress wouldn't get here before we left on vacation, so I shipped it to Emilee and just hoped that it would get there in time. The dates on the shipping estimate ran from 2 days to before the scheduled shoot to 3 days after. There was a chance it wouldn't come in time. And then 3 days before the first estimated arrival date Emilee sent me a picture of a package sitting on her doorstep. It was the dress! And it was GORGEOUS! So it was here on time (fear #1), and it looked phenomenal (fear #2). But I wouldn't get to try it on until the night before the shoot (fear #3). When we did make it up there and I could slip it on, I was ecstatic. It fit perfectly. Seriously amazing!
Cameron would like to point out one extra added meaning in the above photo. He built that water feature that you can see behind the dress. Pretty cool huh?!

After that, even though it wasn't a wedding, I decided to incorporate the "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue" poem as a way to get intentional with what I was bringing and wearing.

Something Old: Black Hills Gold necklace. 
This necklace was a gift from Cameron on our honeymoon. It's one of my sweet treasures. A piece from the very beginning. It was perfect!

Something New: The Shoes

Alright, so these ones don't really have embedded meaning. My wedding shoes are pretty hashed by this point, so I wanted some new pretty shoes. I fell in love with them the moment I saw them online and they fit the look so well!

Something borrowed: Emilee's Lipstick

For me, the meaning was not in the lipstick itself, but that Emilee, one of my dearest friends, was there to help me get ready. She drove 3 hours (one way!) just to come do my hair and make up, and that meant so much to me. She's such a sweet friend and talented cosmetologist. So really, I borrowed Emilee and just used the lipstick as her proxy in the detail shots. :)

Something blue: My Tanzanite Wedding Ring

My something blue is and forever will be my Tanzanite wedding ring. A few months back I realized that there is a big chip in the side of the stone and showed it to Cameron. "Well, I can get you a new one after the summer maybe?" But I won't hear of it. This is my wedding ring, and it is such a perfect representation of our marriage. "Something blue" stands for fidelity, love, and loyalty. Always. Not just when it's easy and pretty. Not just when things are shiny and fun. Always. Through ups and downs. Through trials. Through chips. Through hard days, weeks, months. Through disagreements. Through triumphs. Through life. Our marriage isn't perfect. It's not pristine. It's chipped and dinged. But it's there and worth keeping and polishing. If anything, that chip reminds me even more what a special thing our marriage is, and how grateful I am to have this man stand beside me still after 10 years.

And now the flowers. Oh the flowers! I knew I wanted a bouquet, and thought about getting a real floral bouquet, but with the delivery of the dress being up in the air I didn't want to order a bouquet and then have the shoot not happen up in Idaho but still have this bouquet wilting without use. So I decided to make my bouquet, just like I did for our 5th Anniversary Shoot! This time instead of making all the flowers I ordered most of the supplies from, got the orange ranuculus silks from Walmart, and then the giant Poppy and some white ranunculus from Hobby Lobby. My Mom also supplied some of the greenery and a few random white blossoms from her stash. I modeled it after a bouquet I'd seen on Katelyn James' blog (I'm just slightly obsessed with Katelyn James), and only pulled it apart and redid it twice. I love how it turned out! The pops of orange are so fun, and I love the giant poppy in the middle with the delicate french anemones mixed in. It's so me right now!

While Trish took all the above amazing details shots, Emilee worked her magic on me. Confession here: I'd never had my hair and makeup done professionally before! It was really fun! I felt so pampered.

I'm in love with this photo of Em and I! I miss her so much. It was so special to have her there after not seeing her for a year!

And then it was time to head out and go meet up with Cameron! We were slightly late, but Cameron took that chance to go fly fishing. When we drove up he was out there on the river with his rod and it just made me smile. That's exactly the man I married.

For Cameron's outfit we wanted to get pieces that he could wear to teach in, but that would still look dashing. He wanted it to look like a gentleman fisherman, and I think he pulled it off nicely!

Apparently the bottom button is supposed to be left undone on these vests? I had no idea, but Cameron informed me of the protocol when I drew his attention to it. He's so full of random trivia, I love it.

We chose this location carefully. Cameron's Grandfather was the Water Master in Rexburg for years and years, as was his father before him (I sound a little Star Warsish there). This spot on the Henry's Fork is where the water is diverted out and where his Grandpa spent a good amount of time. Cameron has great memories here with his Grandpa. This river means so much to him and his family. That is why we chose this spot. Not only is it beautiful, but this spot holds so many memories and feelings for Cameron.

One thing I loved while planning this was how "all in" Cameron was. He was excited (but wouldn't admit it to anyone else of course). He even asked, "Can we do a First Look?" You bet! Trisha was so good to work with us and to get this all documented for us. It was fun to have the whole experience!

Bahaha, in spinning around, the veil end floated off behind me and landed in the river. It was heavy and all stuck together, so Cameron fixed it. :) Centrifugal force for the win!

As we stood there in the river together, we could hear the fish jumping and watched an ibis fly away. It was pure magic.

We never had a first dance at our receptions. At the time we didn't even have "Our Song" picked out. But we do now, and we love dancing to it. So there on the river rock, in our bare feet, with Jay Ungar's "The Lover's Waltz" playing on the phone we danced. Or at least we tried to. The dress was a little to much and, as Cameron put it himself, he has Princess Feet. But we got in about 30 seconds of dancing! Baha.

Wrapping up Cameron's Herpetologists heart was made happy...a little snake swam right up to us. And he catches anything he can. So of course this little guest made his cameo in our anniversary photos.

This whole experience was amazing. These photos are treasures. Trisha did an absolutely beautiful job preserving this time in our marriage, and in capturing such great emotion. I loved getting to pour all the meaning I could into the shoot, it's made it all the more special to look at the images. Most of all though I loved the time with this man, and getting to celebrate 10 years together. 10 years! Parts have been easy. Parts have been tough. Parts have been sweet, and parts have been sad. Marriage is not easy, but it is worth every ounce of work, tears, joy, and heart that it takes to make one work. One decade, many disagreements, plenty of moves, a plethora of memories, a bucket of tears, and of gallery of smiles in the there's eternity to go. And I'm so grateful to go it with him!

Photographer: Trisha Shelley Photography

Dress: Click here

Shoes: Trends SNJ

Hair and Makeup: Emilee Goutcher of @Vicarioushair

Floral Supplies: or @afloral and Hobby Lobby

Suit Jacket: U.S. Polo Assoc.

Vest: Cavani

Suit Pants: Kater Shop, Logan UT