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Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Maldonado Weekend

Fall has proven to be an extremely busy time for this photographer.  Since most of my sessions take place outdoors, cold and rainy weather had me cancelling three shoots.  The result...a weekend with absolutely no work commitments.  So here we are, Sunday afternoon, and I have a smile on my face that won't go away as I think about the last 48 hours with my family.

Allow me to share with you the hilarious, frustrating, awkward, and lovable moments that have captivated my life this weekend.  In each of these moments, the presence of God was so profoundly felt.  :)


Saturday mornings usually find my family seated around the dining room table with one of the following breakfasts: 
biscuits and gravy with sausage or bacon and eggs

This weekend, Rick made the 1st option,  Whenever we have homemade biscuits, Rick makes GG a biscuit snake.  What this really means is that he rolls all the left over dough into a long zig-zaggy shape that resembles a small garden snake.  GG lets her imagination run wild as she dips her biscuit snake into the gravy and then bites of its head!  This simple tradition of Saturday breakfast is one of the highlights of my week. 

After Saturday breakfast, we decided to build a fort. There is just something about a fort that takes me back to my childhood.  We didn't mess around with this weekend's fort either!  It had not one, but TWO entrances!  Gabriella's new favorite line is, "This is girls only!" and so we had some girl only time in our multi-room fort.  GG, Marielle, Genevieve and I pretended and giggled and cuddled in our cozy fort...until...the big dragon (aka Daddy with 2 cups of coffee) came to scare us.  The shrill scream of feigned terror had me wondering if the neighbors ever worry that something crazy is going on over here!
We spent the rest of our day watching football, eating chili, and playing indoor soccer.

This morning, I was the first up (as usual).  As we began getting ready, the same old battle began.  Rick gets up late and I end up feeling like everyone gets to get ready except me!  Just once, I would like for everyone in our family to look good at church at the same time!  Please tell me that we are not the only family that argues over the silliest things on Sunday morning.  For all the times we can get this family of five going, Sunday mornings are not amongst those times.  I hate being late and it's even harder to finagle your way through crowded pews with a almost three year old who wants to talk to everyone she passes and two infant carriers!  Combine that with people who aren't willing to scooch on over and I am about over it by the time I sit down.  This Sunday, we actually got there in time to claim the very last row to ourselves.  We sat there with a twin anchoring our family row, GG in between, and Rick with his arm around me.  Earlier in the week Rick shared with me, "You know, even though I'm home every single day, the first thing I always do in the morning is put my ring on."  That remark struck me as Rick put his arm around me and then held my hand in church today.  A sweet moment interrupted by a weird look when I peeped over and noticed Rick messing with his pants zipper.  I gave him that look like what on earth is going on over there.  Oh, don't worry.  Rick forgot to zip his pants this morning.  Seems in all of the arguing and rushing, Rick forgot one very important detail in his wardrobe.  Yep.  We were that couple with the creeper dad who doesn't zip his pants!  No wonder everyone was staring at us this morning.  Rick said he had felt a draft, but couldn't figure it out.  Please ask me what the homily was about today, so I can tell you the reason I don't know: my husband didn't have his pants zipped...and in church!!  Is there something sacrilegious about that!?  When it was time for Communion, GG joined Rick, but got very upset demanding over and over, "I want that Body of Christ!  I want that Body of Christ!"  Well, I did something really bad... 
to all of the mothers of 1 and 2 year olds who keep telling me their children are potty trained, which makes me feel awful because Gabriella is almost 3 and proudly proclaims that she doesn't want to use the potty because it is easier to go in her diaper.
So, where were we?  Ahhhh....yes, GG wants that Body of Christ.  I actually said, "GG, do you want that Body of Christ?  Then, you need to use the potty.  The only people that can take the Body of Christ are people that go poo-poo in the potty!"
Seriously.  How awful is that?!  Well, I started feeling bad about that horrible use of bribery and tried to explain what the Body of Christ really represents in hushed whispers as the parents around me gave me mortified looks.  I know.  I know.
So, we came home, made finger puppet fall crafts and then GG went down for a nap.  Covering her was her Daddy's Steelers' terrible towel.  She won't go to sleep without it.
As we were crafting this afternoon, I snapped this picture.
GG making decisions about the size of the owl's eyeballs in the foreground, Rick playing with Genevieve in the background with Marielle laughing.  
I am in awe....
of the biscuits and gravy
of the forts
of the chili
of the hand-holding
of the inconsequential nature of Sunday morning arguments
of the unzipped pants
of the Body of Christ
I don't know how or with whom you have spent your weekend, but I bet if you look at the tiniest of details, the smallest of moments, you will see that God was always there.  
I am so appreciative that He, not only reveals Himself, but that He helps me remain aware.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Midnight Deadline

So, to piggyback on my previous post about God taking care of my family's needs, I find myself in a pickle.

Rick does not have health insurance.
It is one of the huge sacrifices we have made so that he can stay at home with the girls.

We have always had that looming fear that if something medically happened, we would be in financial distress.  So, we have always prayed that he would stay healthy and there wouldn't be a need.  I know that isn't practical.  I know that isn't a smart financial decision.  It is a risk we take, better, it is a risk he takes.  

October brings about another year of open enrollment with our health insurance and now, more than ever, I want to add Rick.
it is so expensive to add a spouse.  Not only that, we would have to take a plan that covers less.  Our budget is tight and, in all honesty, can't really handle the extra weight of the insurance addition.

Didn't God promise He would take care of us, though?

So, here I am.  The deadline to add Rick is at midnight and we don't know what to do.  

My request is simple:

I would really appreciate it if you would pray that God leads my family to the right decision.  I've got a midnight deadline and the time is ticking.  To a two-income family, this isn't a big decision, but to us...it is.

I'll be sure to share with you how God leads us...

For now, the time is ticking and we've got a decision to make.

Thanks for listening...or reading,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

If You See Something You Like, Be Impressed By Him

In order to fully grasp the extent of this post, it would probably behoove you to read this post first.  To know where I'm coming from...

When I read that post from just one short year ago, I am in awe of the ways in which God is providing for my family.  I smile as I sense the excitement in that post because I had "four paid shoots."  This week, I have eleven.  Our remaining hospital bills are few, and they have never been so much that we thought we couldn't pay....because of photography.

I remember writing this summer about how my family needed a van and wondering how God would provide that need for us.  Well, I couldn't be blessed with more business right now.  God didn't just give us what we needed, he provided a way for us to do it ourselves.  We are doing, for our family, what we feel in our hearts is right and He isn't letting us down. 

I am truly in awe.

I still can't really claim to know what I'm doing with photography, though! Whoops!  Maybe that's bad for business.

But it's true.

I am honored that so many people want me to photograph their family.  I am honored that so many people respond positively to my work.

Let's be real, though.

If you see something you like, be impressed by Him.  Not by me.
(Likewise, if you see something you don't like, take that up with Him, as well!  ha!) 

Any moment, 
any smile, 
any adoring look,
any revelation of love I capture...

is because of Him.

Maybe my photography serves no other purpose than for you to see how God can provide.  He makes a way...when no way exists.

I'm not real sure where this photography road is leading.  As I'm working on pictures right now, I can't say for certain to what extent I'll continue to do this.  I'm just seeing where God leads me and praying that, at the very least, you get a glimpse of Him in my work.  I see Him all the time.  I hope you do, too.


Monday, October 15, 2012

My Prayer

It is no secret that we still swaddle Gabriella.  This is the way she has gone to bed every night since she was a baby.  Her last new swaddle was actually bought when she was around 1 year old.  It was the biggest size they made.  As Gabriella has grown, her swaddle has slowly covered less and less of her.  Now, she gets wrapped from about the waist down. 

So vested in this routine, Gabriella even rates people on how they swaddle her.  Daddy is the best.  Sometimes, GG will say to me, "That's a good wrap, Mommy!" or, "You're not a good wrapper, Momma."  I suppose I'm inconsistent.

I guess in the long term, Rick and I were hoping Gabriella would always be swaddled.  Think about it...what high school girl that is still swaddled by her parents has any suitors calling?!  Better yet, if we are still swaddling Gabriella when she's in college, all boys in a 10 mile radius will steer clear and Gabriella can be free to focus on her studies, not to mention get a good night's rest.  What 18 year old in a dorm room doesn't need a good night's rest? Sure, she'll be a little weird, slightly peculiar...but such a small price for her to pay to stay a little girl in our eyes.

Well, Gabriella is almost 3 and with no foreseeable hitch in our plan, things have been smooth sailing on the swaddle front.  Until last night...

Not wanting to go to bed is not uncommon for a child GG's age, but last night she was practically fighting us.  She is not a child who throws temper tantrums (yet!), so I knew there was more to the story than usual.  After a series of questions, in a half-hearted, I-know-this-couldn't-possibly-be-it tone, I asked Gabriella, "Do you want a blanket instead of your swaddle?"

Grinning from ear to ear, Gabriella practically ran to her crib.  She has never been more excited to go to bed.  Ever.  I found a special blanket that a family friend made that covered her from head to toe.  GG kept saying how soft it was and when I turned off the light, she was still smiling.

So, there you have it.  
Last night...
For the first time...
Gabriella didn't want to be swaddled.

Dagger to the heart.

Do you remember the first time you realized that your child wasn't a baby anymore?  I know that as your children grow, you have those realizations more frequently, but do you remember the very first time?

For me, I came to that realization last night.  For the past three years, I have never seen Gabriella as anything more than the precious baby we brought home on November 25th, 2009.  Sure, I notice how she's growing, how she's changing, how she's becoming more independent.  But never have I seen her the way I saw her last night...

as a child who is growing up.

If I think about it, the root of my problem isn't the idea that GG is growing up.
  It's the idea that in order to grow up, time has passed.  

I don't know if you've noticed, but I write about time a lot.  Maybe it's because I realize it's value. 
Life is not renewable.  Time is not forever.

As evidenced last night, time is passing.  Apparently, my girls are growing up.

I don't claim to know the ins and outs of my faith.  It's not my intent to lead a bible study or seem like I'm being "preachy", but I would like to share a prayer with you.   Maybe something you might like to pray...

Please help me to be present in each moment of this day.  Help me to be aware of its value.  Help me to see You in ways I never thought possible.

Maybe, just maybe, you can spend today with your time-sense heightened, realizing the significance and value of each minute.

In an effort to not waste your time, I need to bring this super long post to a conclusion! ha!  Everyone in my house is starting to rise and I can't miss out on our day together.  I am already aware.  I hope you are, too.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

What If

"What if?" questions...
The only purpose they really serve is to conjure up a bunch of unrealistic scenarios that are worrisome with no definitive answers that can calm your anxieties.

And if you didn't know, no one can ask a what-if question like a mother.

What if my baby has this...
What if my baby does this...
What if my baby doesn't do this...

Having twins is a whole new ball game and with each stage, I find myself with more what-if questions.
Marielle has not been sleeping.  During the day, she is fine, but nighttime has her up about every 15-20 minutes.  Last night, I don't think she ever slept more than 10 minutes at a time.  Combine this with the fact that at our last doctor's visit, we decided that if her head continued to grow at the rate it was, we would be getting some x-rays.  Baby that can't sleep + abnormal head size = a mother who is asking a lot of what-if questions.

The twins have a 6 month appointment today and I hadn't even planned on going.  After yet another sleepless night (I don't even care that I don't sleep anymore), I just want some reassurance from the doctor that everything is okay.  I want to be there in person.  I don't want it to be a conversation that Rick relays over the phone after the fact.  
So here I've been, since 5am.  Requesting a sub, getting plans together, putting pacifiers in, sniffling, in the dark.  If only you could see me.  I'm a hot mess, but I bet you can relate if you're a mom.  Nothing screams pity party more than a mother in a dark room at the butt crack of dawn worrying about the well-being of her child.  It's like the heart-broken teenager that just keeps listening to that same stupid sad song.  You want to say, "Get a grip!"  Someone needs to slap me and tell me to snap out of it! Ha!  Only, no one can because OF COURSE everyone in this house is FINALLY fast asleep.  
Oh, the irony of my family. 


Just now, as I was waiting to for my pictures to upload, I checked my school e-mail.  I read an e-mail from a colleague who has been taking care of a family member during a very difficult time.  Very difficult.  God sure does know what we need and when to give it to us.  It occurred to me...
What if  my worst what-if questions come to fruition?
Well...then you do what any close, loving family does.
You take care of each other.
And the people around you, your support system, take care of you.


I'm still nervous, but as always, He let's me find humor in my situation and humbles me by showing me the trials of others.

Today, I will see God in the twins' pediatrician as she calms my fears and explains to me everything I need to know.  Does she even realize just how He will use her today?  Maybe I will tell her.  If that won't be too awkward...hehe  :)


Here are some pictures of my family rolling around on the floor last night.  Really, they were just rolling, and rolling, and rolling!