September has recently found a special place my heart. Previously, it was just any other month. There. But lately, it has become a time to soak up those last perfect days of weather with the girls, time for cool mornings and warm afternoons, time for birthdays, time for the last of the glowing wildflowers.
I really loved all the special memories we made in September.
I simply cannot believe it is already October. The summer started, I blinked, and now it’s fall. There’s the saying “the days are long, but the years are fast” which I definitely agree with, but something about the past few months felt warp speed. That’s one of the many reasons why I’ve taken on this project. It slows down life for me, not only in the moment where I pressing the shutter, but also in looking back.
August was a super fun month. I felt like we celebrated my birthday for two weeks (which I didn’t hate), we hit up all of the kid places in Wichita (splash parks, gardens, parks, zoo, etc.), and we had a great time with Josh’s family in Florida. We did have to drive back due to all the hurricanes, but that’s small potatoes compared to those directly affected.
Isla also started Montessori which has been such a blessing for my somewhat overly inquisitive little lady.
All in all, I’m grateful for what was our fast, full, and fun summer.
My Darling Poppy June,
In the days leading up to your first birthday, I was stricken with a severe case of bittersweet sentiment. How could you be one already?! Didn’t you just make your debut on this earth? Truth be told, your first 6 months were a bit of a blur. I don’t want to rehash all of the things so I’ll just summarize and say, it was tough. Really tough. Maybe a stronger mother wouldn’t have been as affected as I was, but I guess that doesn’t really matter because I am your mom. All of the good, and all of the bad. Your mom.
Let me tell you about you. You are our supreme snuggler. I mean it. No one can snuggle like you can. At a very young age, you would wrap your tiny arms around our necks for hugs. You pretty much solely napped being held until you were around 7 months old despite our best efforts. And even now you love to lay your head on my chest, or crawl up to my legs while I’m doing dishes or getting ready and give a big hug and a pat, pat, pat. And before you lay down to sleep, I’ll hold you in my arms, sway back and forth, and sing you a song. It’s one of my favorite things I get to do in my day. And you don’t like to just cuddle with people. You love all soft things: stuffed animals, blankets, towels, scarves, my shirt. If it’s soft, you grab it and rub it on your cheek.
You eat more than I would imagine to be physically possible for your young age. I’m trying to think if you have a favorite, but nothing is coming to mind because you pretty much eat everything. However, we learned you are not a fan of cake at your birthday party. There was no convincing you; I even tried the next day. Nope. You were not having it. You’ve recently started to point to things that you want which is pretty cute, and would be even cuter if it wasn’t followed by your shrillish banshee cry you use to get our attention.
You love music. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind; you’re an equal opportunist. We’ll be driving in the car, and we’ll hear you clap, clap, clapping to songs you like. Or you’ll become a conductor having your arms out and bouncing when the music moves you. And when you’re crying in the car, 9 times out of 10, if I put on the Sinatra XM station, you’ll stop crying. No other station, just old Blue Eyes. Man, oh man, was that a blessing to figure out. You particularly like it when they play Barbara Streisand. You must be a sucker for schmaltzy singers.
While you are a smiley baby, you aren’t much for laughing. I can count on 2 hands how many times you’ve laughed or giggled, but when you do it lights up my whole world. When you get excited about something you scrunch up your nose and stick out your lips, and breathe in and out of your nose really fast. We call it your bulldog face. I’ve never seen a baby do that before, and I think it’s the cutest dang thing in the world.
A blessing and a curse at times, I am your favorite. You love your mama to the moon and back. When you’re upset, no one else will do. Obviously, I love how much you love me, but when you were at your most challenging self, it felt like the weight of your well being was on my shoulders. The older you get the more and more drawn you are to your dad and your sister. Just the other day you saw Dad’s car pull into the driveway, and you were bouncing your whole body up and down out of excitement. You sure know how to be adorable. And obviously whatever Isla is doing is exactly what you want to be doing.
I could keep going and going, because there is nothing in this world that I love more than my family. I hold all of those special memories close to my heart, and I look forward to all the more memories to hold dear.
P.S. Some pictures from your special day.
Durham, NC is simply one of my favorite places in this world. It has things to do, places to go eat, and better yet people to meet. I have many loved ones who live in Durham and this is truly why I love visiting this city. We left for our trip bright and early (early, early, early) on a Tuesday morning and thankfully the flights went smoothly even with a toddler and a baby in tow. We stayed at our friends Brendan and Alissa’s house, and they are among the best people in this world. It was particularly fun to stay with them because they also have two daughters. Both of which are about 3 months older than our own.
It was fun to see the girls whirl instantly into a friendship. The giddiness and girliness that exuded from our oldest girls would be hard to match. As our trip went on our girls would turn into what seemed more like sisters, loving each other perfectly one minute and absolute meltdowns the next. #toddlergirls #momlife. Our days were filled with donuts, PB&Js, museums, parks, gardens, and friends. At night we had quality time with old friends. We ate delicious food, drank perfectly concocted gin drinks, and laughed till our stomaches were sore. While not a restful vacation it was most definitely the perfect trip, and I am so grateful for all of the memories we had this July.
Before I end this recap of Durham I want to write about someone who has been beyond special to me the past 4 years. She will probably try to refute everything I’m about to write, but let me tell you now that it’s all true. My friend Alissa is a vision of what motherhood should be. She is fun, calm, present, wise, and almost unreasonably patience with her girls. She embodies love. And while her girls are adorable, lovely, kind, and smart, neither one of them have been easy. Actually, they have been pretty hard. I know because luckily she has been vulnerable enough to be real and raw with me, and when I was at my lowest of lows I hung onto words she gave me.
The older I get the more I view friendships as a gift from God. That sounds cheesy, and I hate that but I don’t know how else to phrase it. I did not deserve this friendship. I did not expect this friendship to what it has become. But lucky for me I received it, and it has done more good for my soul than I could have ever imagined. And for that I am extraordinarily grateful.
An obnoxious amount of pictures from the month of June. Isla started dance class which we often use as our bargaining tool for good behavior (just being honest). Poppy enjoyed her first month of crawling and eating of all of the food. Looking back of the pictures I realize how much we did. Nothing ground breaking or unique but memories nonetheless. Enjoy.
Buh-BYE 31! Helloooo 32.
In past years, it felt somewhat vain and self-absorbed to get overly excited for my birthday. Like it was inappropriate to think of my life as something worth celebrating. Isn’t that sad? WHY WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE WORTH CELEBRATING?! Geez, younger Jill… you could be a bit of a jerk. But today is a new day. Today I choose to celebrate my life, because now I realize that I am so glad for this day and to get to live it with those I love.
I am so incredibly grateful to all of you who reached out and sent all the good vibes my way after my most recent personal blog post. As a follower of Jesus, I felt like this was a moving of the Holy Spirit to share my struggle. God was asking me to be vulnerable to possibly reach those who may have needed to hear my story. I am thankful that I listened to that whisper. And I thankful for all of your kind words. More than you’ll ever know.
This birthday feels different to me. It feels like hope. Like a big breath of fresh air. Sunshine, donuts, friends, and free moving dance parties all day… and it’s only 3:00 (as I write this). Today I choose to be excited for my existence in this world, because, you know what, I have things to offer. I am a good friend. I am a good wife, daughter, and sister. I try my absolute hardest to be a good mom. I am a good artist and photographer. I am a good singer. I am not the best dancer, but I love to dance anyway. I stop to watch the world around me. I smell the flowers. All of those flowers. I make a mean gluten free cake. And so on and so forth.
I am excited to love who I am so that I can turn that around and love on you. Amen and amen.
There’s a part of life that people don’t often talk about. Maybe out of shame. Maybe to stay positive. Whatever the reason may be, Depression is often a hush hush topic. My lovely girls, Mommy slipped into a deep depression this last year. It was sneaky and mysterious. The lines between typical daily struggle and something darker blurred together to the point where there were no distinguishing differences.
I was 100% my worst self. I did not recognize the person talking to her children, and I did not like her. The scariest part was that I did not recognize that person as someone who was struggling. I thought that was me. The new me. And that’s when things took a turn for the worst. I knew that I wanted more for you then what I had become, and I was certain life would be better without me in it. I hate saying that. I hate admitting that it took me getting to the lowest of lows to realize that maybe this wasn’t me. That I needed help. And fortunately that’s exactly what I received. From your dad, family, friends, my doctor, and one really great counselor. All of these amazing people would help me realize that maybe I wasn’t helpless and such a failure, and that it is 100% OK to take an antidepressant.
As I write this, it has only been 3 months since my “Dark Day” so all of this still feels very fresh. I want you to know that this was not you, nor was it me. It just was. And if someday you find yourself not recognizing your own behavior, I want you to reach out to tell me or someone who knows you well that you trust. Tell them. Tell them the behavior that doesn’t feel like you. Tell them to watch out for you and to make sure you don’t slip deeper. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed. People love you and believe in you.
I hope that whenever you (or anyone else) read this that you find strength. Strength to admit and face your struggles. Strength to be vulnerable. Strength to hope for your future.
My darling girls, I am so sorry for who I was to you during that period of life. With time, I hope to fade those memories by replacing them with ones full of joy.
For a long time, I have wanted to “do something” with my photography. The obvious avenue of choice for most photographers is to start a photography business where one would be hired as a photographer. However, this avenue has never felt like a perfect fit for me. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it or want to continue to do so, but I have felt like something is missing.
I woke up last night with an idea. An idea I love. An idea I hope others will love. What if I use my talent to help others?
You see there is a friend of a friend whose story has touched me. Unfortunately, it’s a heartbreaking story of pediatric cancer. I haven’t been able to get this little boy and his family out of my mind for weeks, and I’m sad to say that today that beautiful little boy’s body could no longer handle that terrible cancer. My heart is breaking for this family I’ve never even met, and I cannot even try to guess the grief they are going through. But something his mom said struck me: we need more funding to help with research for these children and babies. Maybe, just maybe I can help with that.
Everyday for the remaining month of April, I will be selling an 8×10 giclee print of my artwork. All of the profits from these prints will be split between the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, NANT, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. They are $75, but of course you can always give more. I will be posting the print for sale on my Facebook page every morning. A different print everyday.
Having someone purchase and love my artwork would be wonderful, but having it potential help others would mean so much more.