Posts tagged family
Family Photos (Of Sorts)

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The eternal quest for family photos.  My remote went for a wander a few months ago, so we have been left at the (rather annoying)mercy of the self timer.  The timer itself is not annoying, its the little people who vye to take turns pressing the shutter and then re-focusing, resetting and re-composing the entire image that wears thin.  No matter. When the end product(s) are exactly what I set out to take, I am not that bothered.

The photos were taken using the self-timer.  I set the camera on a tub of hummus and set up the shot in manual.  I exclusively use back button focus, so I don't have the worry about the camera refocussing when I depress the shutter.

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I use some sort of object to prefocus.  In this case, one upside down chicken.  Though a backpack or large stone would work just as well if you don't have a 1 year old that insists on being hung upside down by his feet.

Once the settings are right, then we all jump into shot. I had all of about 30 seconds to set this up, so unfortunately there was no patience left for a reshoot when Theo moved (and my shutter speed was just too slow to freeze him).

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Rather than stress about it, we simply moved on. playing along the way, until we found another flat part of the path.  The second shot was set up with Ellis being my focus point and the two babies jumping on my back while I set up the camera.  (Note: this is where tilting LCD screens come into their own, as it killed my neck to look through the viewfinder).  With a bit more ambiant light, the top photo was taken, quick and sharp.

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Thanks for all of the kind words yesterday.  It was a better day, as is today. It only takes time, hey?

Someone Else's Groove
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Step into my house at 10am, and you will see a picture of domestic bliss.  The house will be reasonably tidy.  My children will be laughing and playing.  I will be the world's best mother.  There might even be a baked good for your consumption.

Step into the same scene at 4 in the afternoon and the view would be vastly different.  Toys strewn everywhere. Dishes piled in the sink. Someone will be crying and its a one in three chance that someone could be me.

I am not good at being of service all day, every day.  Stumbling down the stairs in the morning to cries of "I'm hungry", then to be followed by endless cycles of nappy changes, feedings, meal and snack preparation, play, laundry, groceries, errands...I find it very tiring, very long and exceedingly dull.

In my family, rightly or wrongly, I am the one that provides the flexibility.  I slot into all of the jobs and situations that no one else wants to or can do. I am the fluid one, who helps fill the cracks of everyone else. Not to say, I don't get taken care of in other ways, but my job at the minute is to be of service in the variety of ways my family needs.

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Kevin comes home and a baby is thrust in his arms.  I may not be good at the relentlessness of caring for small children, but I am GREAT at sulking.  I stomp upstairs, throw myself down on my bed and glower at no one in particular.  

And here is the thing...I can see it coming. It happens most days - be it at home, at work, with my family. I am an introvert.  I need time to be quiet and do as I wish.  As my friend, Rebecca, wrote so eloquently, "I'm just someone who needs time and space in my house and in my brain, quiet and freedom to move as I wish,...depending on the day." I can fit into someone else's groove for only so long, before I must bust out.

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After my small toddler-like tantrum, I can hear giggles wafting up the stairs.  A cup of tea is thrust forward as a peace offering by a 3 year old messenger.  He is scooped up into bed with me and we laugh and talk and I am back in my role and happy.

Sometimes, its just a moment I need to recharge...sometimes its more.  Ideally, I wouldn't get hit those low levels in the first place and of course, some days I don't. One of the thoughts that I come back to time and again, is that women being left alone with small children all day is a recent phenomenon.  We used to have family or other women around to share the enormous responsibility. 

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I wish I could make it all look effortless...No, I actually wish it could be effortless.  But its not.  We are a wildly happy, chaotic, crazy and sometimes ever so slightly destructive family with a wildly happy, chaotic, crazy, sometimes ever so slightly destructive mother. 

So probably perfectly normal then.  

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I wrote this post and then say that Day 5's prompt for Creativity Boot Camp is Fluid.  How very very apt.

Shipped

I am sure if your life and livelihood depended upon a boat to connect you to the mainland, it would fade to the unremarkable and perhaps even to uninteresting...but as I have no such familiarity with boat life (it would be hard to find another place in the world more land locked than Lisbon, Iowa), I can't help but get excited at the prospect of boarding a CalMac.My small boy shares my excitement and spoke of little else for the week leading up to going away.

Captivated from the moment he saw the Stornoway ferry pull in to Oban as we waited ours to Craignure, boats were THE discussion point in the 2 year old crowd. 

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Tobermory Harbour

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And now, our feet have found themselves firmly back on the mainland after a wonderful trip.  Breathtaking views, great food (home cooked and otherwise), gale force winds and a wood burning stove all made the trip a relaxing and welcome break from reality.  Ship me there any day.

A Room of Our Own
Togetherness

I suppose it was inevitable, which is why I wasn't that shocked when I suddenly started sobbing at my sewing machine this afternoon. It had been building for a few weeks, or even months.

I'd just wanted to make a small bag to hold the range of plastic carriers that seem to procreate the minute one crosses our threshold.  Simple.  Pattern found, fabric decided upon.  Easy. 

But sitting down and just getting on with it wasn't on the cards.  First, I had to clear away the basket of laundry, the pile of books, cars and tucks and the bag of roving piled high on my desk.  Then, I had to pick fabric paint off the the work surface as well as the 2 log cabin squares I'd finished for Ellis' quilt.  I then realised my good skein of white thread had wandered.  In such a small house, the wide expanse of my desk becomes so many things to each of us: a play ground, a dumping ground, a viewing point for a small boy. Ellis loves to climb up and go through my sewing supplies.  And they go everywhere.  Unorganised at the best of times, devastation is what usually greets me when I sit down to create these days.

And so I haven't been.  I have ignored my sewing machine for weeks and haven't bothered to crochet or knit anything recently.  I could blame the fact that if I even attempt to make anything, I can't find the hook/yarn/needle I need, because it has wandered away on short, 2-year-old sized legs. I finally start something and small hands come and 'help' the minute I sit down.  I can barely write any more, as the moment my fingers hit the keypad, other hands itch with a burning desire to "push buttons".

Its not his fault, I know.  Of course he wants to help his mama.  We cook together.  He helps clean.  We do laundry together.  Why shouldn't he be a part of this too?

I have tried to include him.  But it ends up requiring so much of my mama energy, I am left without  the creative energy to finish anything.  And energy is on short supply these days, as I struggle through the worst period of insomnia I have ever experienced and a rather uncomfortable and, quite frankly draining pregnancy.

After my tears subsided this afternoon, I spoke to a good friend about it all.  She said, quite matter of frankly, "You know what you need to do, Kat.  You have to move to a bigger house where you can have your own room to close the door to other things".  Essentially, I need a 'Room of One's Own'.

We all know the argument, don't we?  As women, as mothers we need a space to close off to the outside world to just be and create. We can only reach our full potential if we have the time, the space and the financial resources to do it.  Small hands have no place in the realm of art.

I do admit I dream of such a place.  It has white walls, with huge windows that overlook the sea.  There is a cappuccino machine and all the caramel digestives I can eat.  Hell, while I'm dreaming, it has a Chihuly chandelier as well.  I sit on the overstuffed corduroy sofa and dream and sketch away.

Its a beautiful dream, something I see in the very real lives of many of the creative women I admire. But a studio, or even a third bedroom doesn't really solve the problem, does it?  I think of this problem like a tree.  A landscape architect once told me that trees only grow their full potential of branches and height when they are planted alone in a park or other isolated position.  Only then do they look like the pictures in tree identification books.

I bet you can see where I am going with this.  They are beautiful and tall and spread as wide as their genes take them, but they lack the system that gives them sustainability.  The other trees to breed with.  The ecosystem that all works together to ensure a different kind of potential.  One that fits beautifully together, piece by piece.  

For some, maybe the isolation is necessary to create, but I see examples again and again of women who create with their family, in amongst their children, in snatches of moments, with few financial resources. It is not in spite of these things they create, but because of them.  Knee deep in life, they find their drive.

Of course, its not all or nothing. Closing off a bit of my space to make it inaccessible to a curious toddler is needed and a 'studio' clear out is in order.  But, fundamentally, I want him to be a part of my creativity, because he is so much of my inspiration and my drive.  I want him to participate in it.  I want him to learn to sew a button on and darn a sock.  I want him to see the things that fuel his parents passions and that possessions don't just appear out of nowhere.

And so, we have to learn together. To grow as an ecosystem where all of our needs are met and we are allowed to flourish. We have to learn to recognise our inherent differences, which includes realigning my understanding of what I can expect of a 2 and a half year old.  Forests take a long time to grow, but its worth it in the end.