Real Life | Week 1: Good Morning, Good Night

Back at the beginning of 2015, the amazing bloggers over at A Beautiful Mess launched an e-course titled “Capture Real Life in 52 Weeks”. For my birthday that year, I was gifted a subscription to the class. It has been approximately 109 weeks, and I’ve never really gotten past the first couple of lessons. Whomp. So… I’m starting again, and I’ve decided to blog my progress each week in order to help keep myself accountable.

(Incidentally, that class is no longer available, but they’ve got an e-course called “Everyday Photography” which looks pretty similar.)

I have always loved photography as an art form, ever since seeing a black and white portrait exhibit at a museum in Chicago when I was a young teenager. Since smartphone cameras have become much more advanced in the recent years, I’ve tried to use photography, not just for snapshots, but for personal artistic expression. And, more recently, to document the lives of my children. I have a pretty nice DSLR camera now, too, so I’m working on my technique as well as trying to find my own personal style.

So, back to this e-course. The prompt for the first week is “Good Morning, Good Night”. It didn’t really require stepping out of my comfort zone because sleeping babies, and little kids in general, are cute and relatively easy subjects to photograph. Taking indoor photos early in the morning and late at night, though, when natural light is low, made it somewhat technically challenging. As a result, my photos turned out a bit grainy, but for the most part I don’t mind– it just gives them character.

Good Morning

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 1

When William was a baby, he was a terrible sleeper. In fact, he didn’t start sleeping through the night on a consistent basis until after he had turned two. In order to maintain my sanity and get the most sleep possible at night, I co-slept with him for most of his first year and a half. Nights could be super rough, but waking up next to this sweet sleeping face was one of the best parts of my day.

Now William often comes into my bed– the queen-sized bed I share with my husband that isn’t really big enough for a third person– and snuggles up next to me at night. On the particular morning that I took this photo, Garrett had left early for work and William came in after he had already left so there was plenty of room for both of us. What made it even sweeter was the fact that he brought his own pillow with the Ninja Turtle pillow case that his grandma had made for him.

Even now, some nights are rough, but seeing his adorable sleeping face when I wake up is always a welcome sight.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 2

Winter, on the other hand, wakes up trapped in a crib. Because of the co-sleeping situation with William, he never had a crib– just a mattress on the floor. When Winter was born, I thought I’d do the same type of co-sleeping arrangement with her as well, but just a few months in, we realized that she did much better on her own with walls around her. So we fixed up Garrett’s old crib so that it more or less conformed with modern safety standards, and put Winter in that.

When I hear that she’s awake in the morning and go into her room, the first thing she does is either hand me her bottle or point to where she’s thrown it on the floor. I guess it’s her way of saying it’s time for breakfast.

After that, she’ll jump around in the crib, point to various things around the room, and look out the window when I open the blinds. She’s usually pretty eager to be released from her confinement, though.

William wants breakfast immediately after he wakes up, but I always try to slow things down and get some cuddles out of the kids before heading downstairs to the kitchen.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 11

I thought this would be a good opportunity to get myself in front of the camera too, since I’m obviously a major part of my mornings!

The picture of me with Winter turned out blurry, but it’s still one of my favorites. Despite the lack of focus, her eyes are still perfectly bright!

And finally, who doesn’t love a good outtake?!

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 7

That last pic pretty much sums up our natural state. A picture is worth a thousand words! haha

Good Night

Taking photos of our nighttime routine was considerably more challenging because, well, it was dark. Plus bedtime is always a bit crazy with a couple of toddlers.

After the bedtime storm is over, though, I like to go in and check on them one last time before I go to bed. Often this means fixing Winter’s blankets, since she has an odd habit of pulling them all over her head when she’s sleeping, leaving the rest of her body uncovered.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 12

Not to mention seeing those sweet sleeping faces is a good reminder of what is often so hard to remember during the tantrums and screaming– that my kids are the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given, and I love them so much it hurts.

Little Bird Nest | Good Morning Good Night 13

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Trying to Simplify

LIttle Bird Nest | Trying to Simplify

Garrett and I are in the process of having a new house built for us, and I am beyond excited. Our current house has cheap tan carpet and beige walls– I can’t wait for bright white walls and dark wood-look tile floors. More importantly, I can’t wait for a fresh start.

Right now our projected move-in date is estimated for sometime in October, so we just have to wait. The anticipation is wonderful– I browse Pinterest before bed and dream of ways I’ll make the house into a home. Garrett and I talk about landscaping ideas over dinner. It’s kind of like waiting for a new baby– you have so many hopes and dreams and expectations. And in reality, I hope this house can be a member of our family too. I hope it can grow old along with us, and that we become more attached to it with age.

I’m trying so hard not to let the anticipation of the new house make me resent our current house. We bought the house we’re living in now to be a starter home. We never expected to be in it that long, so we didn’t paint any walls or do anything major, except for a much-needed kitchen update. But even then, we went cheap– only what was needed to make it nice and sellable.

I look around me at the things in our house, and I imagine them in the new house, and I get this urge to just get rid of everything. Well not everything, but I want to purge. To get down to the essentials. The less we have, the less we have to pack, right?

With little kids, it’s hard to do any hardcore decluttering while they’re around. So that leaves me one day a week when they’re at daycare to fill boxes to give away and fill the garbage and recycling with stuff that just has to go. So that’s what I’m doing today. Trying to simplify.

It’s like I’m in a reverse nesting phase for this house-baby that we’re expecting. And I’m embracing it.

P.S. The picture on the dresser is from Brooke Smart’s “Bringing Up Baby” collection. Check her out– she’s amazing!

William Turns Two

We celebrated William’s second birthday on Sunday. For his first birthday a year ago, we had, as many parents do, sent out invitations to our friends and hosted a party at our house which included a cake smash and lots of new toys. I think first birthdays are more for the parents than anyone else– a celebration of making it through the first year with a baby and still having friends and enough sanity left to host a decent party… not to mention a good excuse to finally clean your house after a year of spit-up on the couch and other baby messes.

Will’s second birthday party was, in contrast, pretty low-key. I look at toddler birthdays as opportunities to practice my cake making and party decorating skills before William starts to want to invite friends to his birthday parties. I’m pretty happy with the way Sunday turned out. It’s nothing you would see going viral on Pinterest, but it was colorful and bright and happy.

I had been pretty sick the day before, so Will had spent the night with Garrett’s parents. When he came in the door on Sunday, the first thing he saw was the little pile of presents. So that’s what we did first. (Actually the first thing he saw was the bright colored tissue paper garlands hanging from the ceilings all throughout the common areas of the house, which he called “birthday rainbow”.)

William's 2nd birthdayChristmas wrapping paper. It’s what we had.

My sister sent this epic fort that even has it’s own little ball pit. She and I both agree that it would’ve been awesome to have something like this when we were kids. Will loved it, the cat loved it, the dog would too if we let her, and Garrett and I love that it folds up completely flat and comes with storage containers!

William's 2nd birthdayWilliam's 2nd birthdayGarrett and I gave him a sturdy little cover for the iPad. More and more lately, Will has become the main user of our tablet, so we figured it was time to case it in something a bit more rugged and toddler-friendly. This one seemed to fit the bill. We also rearranged the apps so that all of his are right up front on the first screen and the “grown-up” apps are on subsequent screens. When he opened this one, the birthday celebrations nearly came to a halt as he suddenly decided he’d rather watch Paw Patrol than have a birthday.

Will seemed to absolutely love every gift that he got, but certainly the showstopper gift of the day was the balance bike from Garrett’s parents.

William's 2nd birthday William's 2nd birthdayAfter presents, it was time for lunch and then, of course, CAKE!! I made a chocolate cake with cream cheese filling (I dyed it orange to make it look something like lava) and dark chocolate ganache on top, and then topped it with a couple of candles and a toy dinosaur.

William's 2nd birthdayThe Christmas wrapping paper made another appearance, this time in the form of a hastily made tiny dinosaur birthday hat– though you really can’t tell.

William's 2nd birthdayWilliam's 2nd birthdayAfter cake, we took Will outside to take his new bike for a spin. At first he really struggled with the whole concept of sitting on the seat and just kind of walked with it between his legs. He’s starting to get the hang of it, though, and I’m confident he’ll be cruising on that thing in no time.

William's 2nd birthday William's 2nd birthday William's 2nd birthdayAfter that, Will was more than ready for a nap, so that pretty much concluded the festivities.

Now that William is two, I’m trying to counteract some of the terrible-ness with “You’re two now, which means you’re not a baby– you’re a boy so…..” sit at the table, eat what mom and dad eat, pretty much do whatever we say, etc. Hah. We’ll see how it goes.