Mini Time Capsules

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One thing I love about photography is how it can reveal so much about a specific moment in time. You’ll notice that photographers often resort to what seems like cheesy cliches to describe photography and time, but honestly, there’s great truth to what we’re trying to express!

This image charms me for many reason. I’m finding that age ten, for my child, is truly an in-between age. She’s not a babe any longer but she’s not a teenager yet either. She’s ten. She’s looking to the future and growing up (note the incredible growth from this past year and, yes, the eye makeup in this shot) and yet still a kid at heart (self-imposed bunny ears, anyone?). Look closely and you’ll find something that gives away 2014 as well; Livia’s got a rainbow loom necklace stretched across her forehead as a headband of sorts. If you’ve got an older girl in 2014 then you’ve experienced the insane popularity of the rainbow loom.

Age ten is so much fun. It has Jeremy and I feeling kind of in-between as well. We remember well the baby cheeks and toddler babbles of the past and we look forward to seeing who Livia will become as she grows up. We’re not in a hurry these days, rather we’re loving our girl, in all her bunny-eared glory, at age ten.

Happy Joe Day!!

This little one, placed in his adoptive parents’ arms as a newborn discharged from the hospital, was adopted today! He turns two in a few days and, my goodness, this is an amazing birthday present. Happy adoption day to our boy Joe! We love you and your family so much and praise God for the joy you’ve brought to all of our lives. [Photos taken Fall 2013.]

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Happy Friday

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P Family Portraits

There once were two girls who moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. They started junior high and quickly became best friends. They grew up and met wonderful boys and married them and had the most adorable children on the planet. And then in May 2014 one friend took photos of the other friend’s adorable family. The end. Or rather, the beginning. Or really truly, the awesome story continues. Who knows what grand adventures are right around the corner?

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The Well-Made Bed

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I came around the corner and had to laugh out loud at the sight. My recently-made bed had a big bump in it. A throw pillow was knocked into a different position, but it was the crazy bedhead sticking out from the duvet that revealed the culprit. My ten year old, in my cozy bed, happy as a clam.

Later in the morning while bemoaning the way items were thrown all about the house as normal household items often are—dishes on the counter and dining room table, socks left on the living room couch and hair accessories on my office desk—I felt mounting frustration at the way playing pick-up is never truly completed. I recalled being so diligent this morning at getting up and making my bed because, really, I love a well-made bed. Everything else can be in chaos but if my bed is made I feel like I have a shot at finding some measure of control in my day. That is, until Liv climbed right in there and made herself at home. I later returned to the room and found, interestingly enough, an Adobe Photoshop manual open and face down (as though it was halfway read that morning), a magazine rack pulled out, my bedside drawer wide open (and rifled through) and a flashlight twisted into two pieces, sans batteries, right under the covers. Well, at least she had a good time in there. I hope she also enjoyed putting it all back because that’s what I insisted she do a bit later.

I remember loving my parents’ bed. It was so big. And so clean and neat. And nothing felt out of place in their room. And Mom was in there. I loved it. It was pretty much the polar opposite to my own room, which explains why us kids would throw ourselves on that bed at every opportunity. At least once I remember Mom telling us that we’d like our own rooms much more if we’d make the beds, too. Such wisdom, my mom. And I’ll never forget it. Years and years later I’ve made it a habit to figure out what makes a bed look so inviting. Cozy, thick covers. The right amount of pillows. A sheet turned back to welcome you in after a long hard day. A clean, comfortable place to lay down your head that night and rest in peace.

I don’t make up my bed everyday. But when I do I can feel the way it contrasts the dirty dishes in my kitchen sink and the blot of hardened toothpaste in the bathroom sink and the gerbil cage that always invites cleaning in my office. It’s a small stand against evidence of the Fall in my house, a smidgen of redemption in the ever-present work of life with a family in this space we call home.

My Heart

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This kid’s got me. For almost ten years solid, she’s had my heart and now our stories are woven together forever.

On Waiting

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I have a calendar from Livia’s first year of life that I used to mark all her “firsts.” Across the weeks in the month of June 2004 there is one word: waiting.

First week of June. Waiting.
Second week of June. W a i t i n g.
Third week of June. W a i t i n g.

Then during the fourth week we got the call, the go-ahead and on June 26 Livia was laid in our arms for the first time. June 26 is our Gotcha Day, lovingly referred to as “Livia Day” in our house. And if you think we celebrate June 26 then you’d be right.

I recently came across this calendar and smiled upon those weeks of waiting. Compared to international adoption where you get a picture of your child and then wait a really long time for placement, those weeks seem short indeed. But honestly, the heart knows nothing of a short wait. Each month, each week, each day, each hour can feel very long when you are waiting for something so specific and so specially good like a child. Time seems to unfold in a mysterious fashion and the only thing I can compare adoption waiting to so that the general public can understand is to ask if you remember your wedding date.

Do you remember the weeks and months leading up to that day? Do you recall people asking you about your planning and how things were going and sometimes you honestly couldn’t concoct an answer because the whole process was very much “hurry up and wait”? Though you’ve found a florist and ordered the flowers, you can’t actually pick them up until the the day of the wedding. You’ve got an appointment to get your hair done and you’ve got the final fitting arranged for your wedding gown, but again, you can’t do those final things until your wedding is actually happening. So in the meantime, it’s hurry up and wait.

That’s very much what life is life for a parent waiting for a child to come home.

And then when you’re a foster parent, there are a few more twists and turns to expect.

It’s still hurry up and wait, but with a few major caveats. Hurry up and wait… and don’t get too excited because this kid might not ever set foot in your door after all. Or hurry up and wait… but be prepared to fall in love with this child while at the same time cheering on his biological parents and preparing for the day their family is reunited and your family lovingly grieves the loss. Or hurry up and wait… but there will be no welcoming baby showers or gifts freely given because no one expects this child to stay. Or hurry up and wait… but start tentatively planning for questioning looks and unique conversations you will have when this child is actually part of your family. Not only will you need to fairly represent him as a foster child, but you know you’ll actively try to present your own personal longing for permanency while balancing the reality of the tenuous nature of fostering. Deep deep down in your heart you have hopes and dreams, but they aren’t allowed to take root just yet and you need to give lip service to working in the system for as long as this case calls for. So mama, hurry up and wait already.

Waiting.
W a i t i n g.
W a i t i n g.

Oh, the intricate joys and pains of the waiting process.

16 Years by the Grace of God

Happy anniversary, Jeremy Tredway! I love you.

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Summahtime

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My little space on the world wide web isn’t getting much attention these days. It’s not that I don’t have time really, but my creativity is often expressed outside the internet realm. It’s summer time. And for this freelancing photographer and part-time SAHM, it means I’m here full-time with the spectacular Livia Raine. Our days are filled with lots of face-to-face time, which can be entirely fabulous or entirely draining depending on the moment.

We do Mommy School in the summers on most mornings. Not only is it a way to encourage personal and academic growth, it also serves as a way to keep me from answering the “I’m bored” statement (which is really a demanding question, isn’t it?) and thus being cast immediately in the role of cruise ship director where I plan activity after activity to keep my only-child occupied. No one needs that. And yet, Liv doesn’t have a sibling to play with, so really, Mommy School helps us out—for a few hours at least. We read, we solve problems, we do math, we write, we play. It’s all good. And all the structure inevitably encourages more independent playtime later. Win-win.

There are those summer activities everyone wants to participate in. Camps and clubs. Hours logged at the swimming pool. Park playdates and evening strolls with ice cream. Museums and road trips. We’ll get some of those in as well.

I find the transition to summer to be challenging. I love the solid assurance of the normal 8:00am-3:00pm school day. Life gets mapped out in neat little chunks and I can fit my ESFJ self into it. On Wednesdays I have bible study, which means I get to study the word of God, might get to lead the study, have lots of girl time and drink hot coffee. Some Mondays include Moms in Prayer and then it’s like a smaller repeat of bible study days. And in between I’ll take on a photo job here and there, edit the shoots, have lunch with my mom or other women, and arrange all the usual things it takes to keep a household running. By 3pm I am All Liv All the Time. And I eat it up. It fulfills both the scheduler in me and the spontaneous part of my personality that is far more P than J.

Summer, well… Summer changes all that. As I said, lots of face time. Lots of free time. A lot less adult time. I get a little lost for the first few weeks as I struggle to gain my footing. I ask myself why I feel so off-kilter, why it feels like I’m wearing a shirt that just. doesn’t. fit. right. Is it the tag? Is the neck too tight? Is it a loose thread? No, it’s just summer. Free-wheeling, kid time, unstructured summer. And eventually I adjust. I build the structure I need and go out to coffee dates a lot more. I find other moms who are at home and I inundate them with texts and Facebook messages and phone calls until I’m satisfied. I dream of the next date night with Jeremy and am excited when it rolls around.

I might even write a little. I might shoot a lot of pictures. I might get creative. And I might show some of it here.

Then again, it’s summer. So I might not.

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Peonies at Sunset

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Peonies are one of my absolute favorite flowers, and these are shared from my parents’ garden.