• ~Psalm 46:4-5~

    There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
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Spinning

Life feels a little bit overwhelming. There’s just so much going on right now. At school I just got some awesome new equipment that makes me love teaching again. I’m swamped in a good way with wedding photos to edit for my photography business. At home we’re still wading through the terribly dramatic twos. My sister’s getting married soon. Sometimes I feel a little bit dizzy from everything -like that feeling of spinning around until the world looks like a blur. It’s a happy but stressful way to live. The days just sort of blur together.

So I’ve been trying to step back from the chaos. Bri and I have been going for bike rides after school. Hubster and I have been chilling on the couch when I would normally be absorbed by the computer. And I’ve made an effort to reconnect with my girl friends. It’s been so nice to slow down again and enjoy life.

another reason why parenting is awesome

Tonight Bri took a thirty minute long bath. She loves to be in the water. It’s so hard to get her out of the tub. One of her favorite things to do is to put soapy bubbles on her face and say, “Look Mommy. I’m like Santa Claus. Ho ho ho!” It cracks me up EVERY time.

After her bath, we brushed her teeth and dried her hair. Then she scampered around finding a doll to sleep with (she really wanted to sleep with a wooden piece of pizza from her toy kitchen.)

We said bedtime prayers. I prayed for her to grow up healthy and strong with a heart for the Lord. I also prayed for her future husband, that he would grow up healthy, strong and passionate for God too. (You can’t start too early. ;o) Then she said the prayer we’ve taught her to say. “Dear God, I love you. Please help me to be a good girl. And please bless … Mimi, Gampa, Nana, Poppy, Mommy, Daddy, Missa, Josh, Aunt Beth, Lunton, Aunt Holly …” that list gets longer every night it seems!

After bedtime prayers we trade kisses. She’s learned how to make the smacking noise in the kiss and I love it! She giggles when she gets that one right. I leaned in close until our noses bumped. “Good night sweetie. I love you. You’re my favorite kiddo.”

As I pulled away she clapped her hands around my cheeks and pulled my face close again. “You’re my favorite kiddo Mommy. I love you too.”

And then my heart melted into a puddle on the floor. I love being a Mommy.

Bring on the Bagpipe Music

Bridoodle received this adorable kilt from her aunt M and uncle J for Christmas. They lived in Scotland for a year as missionaries and brought this home for a present. Today, she rocked it out in the church nursery.

Her favorite lovey these days, Baby, gets to travel everywhere with her. We take Baby to daycare every day and to church. (Although this morning I forgot to grab Baby on the way out the door and since church had already started before I’d finished buckling Bri into her safety harness, I didn’t go back. I think the whole neighborhood could hear the wails for “BAAAAAAAAYBEEEEEEEE” on the way to church.)

After church, I wanted to grab some pictures of Bri in her new kilt, so she and Baby modeled for me.  Baby’s pretty good at sitting still. Bri – not so much. She did enjoy showing Baby the view from our window.

Then she hopped down from the couch and brought a favorite DVD over to me. “Watch Elmo Burthday?” She tilted her head and batted her eyelashes at me. I snapped the camera a few times hoping to catch that expression. She turned away annoyed and marched over to the DVD player. Then she pushed the open button, removed the current DVD and put her Elmo Birthday DVD in the slot. I sat there open mouthed before I realized that I should take a picture. (Hello? Nobody would believe this otherwise!)

She was so proud of herself. And so was I. My baby girl is growing up!

asking for “mowh”

The other day Bridoodle and I were eating lunch together, while Officer Hubster was out chasing drug dealers and writing traffic tickets. We were at home in our jammies. I’d whipped up some boxed mac ‘n cheese (with a handful of cheddar added in for extra yumminess) and we were happily munching on plates of steaming cheesy goodness. It was a beautiful mommy-daughter moment. Bri was examining each bite with a “Yummy!” and an “Mmmmm” thrown in frequently for good measure.

As I neared the end of my plate, Bri stopped and looked up at me. “Want mowh.” She waved her fork over her macaroni.

I smiled but upon closer inspection realized that she still had four or five bites left on her plate. “Sweetie, you have plenty. You don’t need any more. Eat the bites on your plate.” It was heart warming that she liked my cooking. (Don’t laugh at me for calling Kraft mac n’ cheese cooking.)

However, a tiny familiar voice piped up inside me. “That’s just like you, Cindy. Aren’t you always asking for more when you already have plenty? Didn’t you just ask God for more money, more time and more funness?”

I listened to the still small voice. I held the thought close to my heart for a few days. It reminded me that I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. That I have an awesome family and plenty of toys. That my job lets me stay home when one of us is sick and then I still get to spend all summer by the pool. That I get to explore the world of photography almost unhindered except for my own habit of spending money too quickly. I really have no reason to ask for more.

I’d almost forgotten about the incident until tonight. We sat down as a family for a simple dinner of buttered noodles and green beans. We had crescent rolls set aside with local honey for a semi-dessert. Bridoodle got a surprise glass of chocolate milk, much to her delight.

She happily ate her noodles and her green beans. We both held our breath watching our picky eater chow down on a GREEN vegetable. (Usually she turns her nose up.) She chattered away between bites. “Daddy eat beans. Mommy eat beans. Bri eat beans.” After eating about half of the green beans she looked up at Hubster. “Want mowh. Want mowh beans.”

I quickly counted up the beans left on her plate. “There’s still …” A movement across the table distracted me.

Hubster picked up the bowl and looked at me grinning. “What kind of father would I be if I denied my little girl more green beans?” He doled out another spoonful onto her plate.

The message slammed into my heart like a baseball bat connecting with a ball. Tears welled up in my eyes. Hubster’s grin fell off his face and he stared at me like I was crazy. “Are you okay, Cindy?”

I squeezed my eyes closed and bowed my head a little, for just a second. I figured my husband could chalk it up to PMS. Father, my prayer was silent, please help me to ask for more green beans and not more macaroni and cheese. Forgive me for seeking things out of selfish desires. I want to ask for the things that will help me grow spiritually. Help me see the green beans that You’re eager to give me. Thank you for this message. Amen.

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! ~ Matthew 7: 8-11

Day 1 ~ Christmas Time is Here!

It’s time for another seven days run! I love this quaterly tradition. Every few months we reconnect with friends by posting self portraits and explaining the stories going on around ourselves. Last year I started out the Christmas run working at home all alone. I had a huge portfolio due at the end of January and I needed to spend Christmas break working on the tedious parts.

This year, I’m taking a break from both jobs. I only have one photo shoot scheduled for my two week vacation. (That’s the best I could do. I am a workaholic after all!)

So I did a mini-shoot with Bridoodle this afternoon and captured some of our Christmas things. I used this mirror again so that the tree could be in the background. I also used lots of Windex but the mirror kept getting covered in tiny handprints. Bridoodle thought that they added character.

While Bri and I played with the camera and the tree, Hubster hung my new picture frames on the wall behind me. I’m in the process of creating a matching gallery for the living room. We’ve designed it to work as a studio for me. Santa’s bringing me some equipment that will allow me to do indoor shoots in the colder months to come.

We had to pull the tree away from its spot for the frame installations. I love the way the lights glowed off of the hearth tiles. This one below ended up being my favorite shot from the series.

It was fun to spend some time relaxing and remembering the joys of Christmas. Somehow it seems a lot more stressful as I get older. I have to make myself pause to reflect on the meaning and wonder of it all.

my big baby girl

Isn’t she just precious? I love this picture. I already had prints of it made for Mimi and Nana. So if you’re reading this, remind me to bring them to you at Thanksgiving! She’s just too cute here, standing on top of the coffee table outside in the driveway.

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anecdotes from today

I had an awesome teacher moment in the halls at school today. I always think of zingers like these after the moment has passed. But today I had the pleasure of saying the witty thing I meant to say at the exact moment that I meant to say it. “Hey you! Making-out couple over there. Get to class. You’re going to be late … in more ways than one.”

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After picking up Bri from daycare today, we headed home and she played while I tidied up a bit. Then I settled down in front of the computer and she came over to sit in my lap. She fell asleep on my shoulder while we listened to music and watched photography slide-shows from my feed reader. It was a magical moment.

 

Update: After I wrote this post Hubster came home from work. Just overheard him in the nursery yelling, “No, No, NO, NO. We do not wipe our booty and then wipe our mouth!” Classic parenting moment.

My Bags are Packed …

I’ll be heading to Chicago in a few days. There’s this little shindig there, called BlogHer. You might have heard of it. Part of me is ecstatic, but that part of me is being held hostage by the part that’s terrified. I’ve pretty much convinced myself that after this trip I will NEVER, EVER again leave my baby girl’s side. She’d better enjoy this break from me, because for the next sixteen years, I plan to be stuck to her like a bump on a log. (We can even wear matching dresses to the prom!) This trip will be a milestone for us. I’ve never been away from her for so long before. FIVE whole days.

She’ll be staying with Nana and Poppy. I know that my parents will spoil her rotten and that she’ll have a blast. She’ll get to stay up late and eat M&M’s. That part is okay. I love the fact that she has adoring grandparents.

I’m just afraid of all of the “what ifs.” Those tiny worries start to add up when you plan a trip six months in advance. I have a slew of them stashed in the back corners of my brain. What if she chokes on an M&M? What if her cold turns into something serious with a fever of 104F? What if she throws tantrums in public when Mom goes to the store? It’s been really difficult to push those worries aside so that I can trust God to take care of her. In the deepest core of me, I feel that I am solely responsible for her safety.

I know that it’s a ludicrous thought. I know things could go wrong under my watch just like anybody else’s. But like Nemo’s dad, I feel the need to promise that “nothing will ever happen to [her].” I feel the need to be humming in the next room or sitting in the chair beside hers at the table. I feel the need to be close.

I’ve talked myself out of going to this conference about a hundred times. And each time I come back full circle. Hubster often reminds me that I deserve this trip. There are lots of reasons to go. It will be good for everyone involved. Staying home would be selfish and wasteful.

So I’m going to go. I’ll be live-blogging from the mommy-blogger sessions. I’ll be passing out blog cards, meeting friends in real life for the first time and sticking my foot in my mouth. I can’t wait for the photo walk and some of the geek-out sessions. There are souvenirs to purchase and swag bags to haul back up to our room. It’s going to be fun.

But I think my favorite part will be coming back home. My bags are already packed.

Dressing Up is Fun to Do

It’s seven days season again! So that means I’ll try to get a self-portrait posted every day for the next week. This evening, Bridoodle and I hung out on the front porch with a tiara. She loves to play dress up right now.

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On a related note, here’s a picture of Bri wobbling around in my high heels. She loves to pull them out and stomp around the house in them. She sounds like a herd of elephants. If I try to take them away, she’ll hug them to her chest while squealing, “Mine!”

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Princess Bri

We were folding laundry. Despite being under the weather this weekend, Bri and I have managed to get quite a bit of housecleaning done. Hubster even helped out with vacuuming and the dishes when he got home from work. As I was folding the clothes Bri was testing them to see if they were “Hot.” And I came across one of the dresses we bought on Memorial Day weekend.

scooting down stairs

Bridoodle wore this dress to church with her cousins last Sunday. (Today we stayed home because our drippy noses and hacking coughs would raise eyebrows.) These pictures just don’t do justice to the cuteness of this dress. I had to *wince* use the flash on my camera for these shots. It was too dark to go without the flash like I usually do. And I really hated to miss this moment between baby cousins.

baby cousins

Anyway, I went to hang up the dress and as I was putting it away, I stumbled across a purple princess dress that Mimi bought for Bri a couple of months ago. She’s never going to get a chance to wear it before she outgrows it, I thought mournfully as I passed over it. I pulled the dress out at and looked at the satin roses and crinoline. Bri leaned around my legs and pointed up at the purple chiffon, “Pretty!”

dressing up

So I did what any good mother would do. I let her play dress up. Forget the laundry! We grabbed the camera and she had fun posing and playing in the glowing morning sun.

playful pose

Then she decided that she wanted to ride the pony. So I staged a few shots with our resident rocking horse as well.

gleeful ride

her royal highness

But don’t let those sweet smiles fool you. There were plenty of royal temper tantrums mixed in with our dress up game. She played her part very well. Maybe she’s destined to be a real princess. (Or maybe she’s just really spoiled!)

pouty princess

“Spoiled? Me? Why you wouldn’t believe that, would you sweet intahnets?” says Bri. “I not spoyed.”

pure innocence

Look out world! She’s irresistable.

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