Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Photography & Parenting: Fleeting Moments

Taking pictures of the people and places I love the most is one of my absolute favorite things. I have a camera with me everywhere searching for a moment to capture like a football player waiting for the word 'hike.'



This picture is a beautiful moment between my three sons- my favorite kind of moment to trap in time. It was unseasonably warm today, November 29th, so we took our ball pit maze into the three seasons room to have at it!

There is an interesting connection between picture taking and parenting- how fleeting moments are.

In photography, if you miss a perfect photo by a fraction of a second it can be, for lack of a better word, ruined- sudden movement can make a picture blurry, smiles turn into frowns, people look away or step out of the shot, a person walks in front of a building, and the sun disappears into the horizon. I have an infinite amount of almost perfect pictures :)

In parenting, time can seem to pass by as quickly as that tiny window for a perfect photograph. I'm sitting here watching two 3.5 year olds and a 1.5 year old play... How can that be?!? I still feel like I just brought them all home from the hospital. Instead, the truth is that Nolan rarely asks me to carry him. Judah often makes a stink if I start to dress him ("I do it all by myself") and Carter hardly ever crawls anymore. I will blink and they'll be graduating from high school.

The other fleeting thing about parenting is how quickly "good" moments can turn into "bad" ones. How quickly everyone can seem content and then one toy gets taken from someone, or one person trips over their own feet and falls, or someone becomes cold in the bathtub; it's game over.

The reverse can happen too, which brings me to this photo. Not very many moments before this photo was taken, I was disappointed and frustrated as Nolan and Judah had destroyed the basement (playing beautifully together) but then refused to help pick anything up. I unraveled- raised my voice, stomped around, and got dramatic and theatrical as I put a bunch of their toys way high up and out of reach while saying out loud, "goodby toys." I gave them a 'time out' from toys.

They wanted to say sorry and move on, but today, for me, that wasn't enough.  We talked about the difference between saying sorry and showing we are sorry and I asked them some prompting questions about how they could SHOW they were sorry and left the kitchen to get this ball pit maze thing set up so Carter, who did help clean up, could play. There were tears for sure and it appeared my boys would be toyless (as I now needed to follow through) and I was dreading how the rest of the day would go. I didn't handle that well, kindly, or productive and I knew it, but I couldn't go back now.  I guess parenting has its own fleeting moments too, now that I think about it, something seems like a great idea, you say it out loud, and then you're stuck with it.  I digress...

As Carter played, I saw Judah out of the corner of my eye begin putting toys away in our TV room. Moments later Nolan followed suit. Nolan specifically asked me not to help. They apologized to me, I apologized to them. We reflected on their behavior, both the good and the bad, and the consequences, both the good and the bad, that came from their choices. I thanked them for their kindness. Then, we played.

It took some bad decisions and a few good ones to end up in a place where I even had the opportunity to capture this moment.

Good and bad,  joys and sorrows, positive and negative, seemingly perfect and very obviously unperfect pass in and out of this parenting thing. I'm thankful I think like a photographer so I can capture it, remember it, freeze it... All of it.... As best as I can.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Finding the 'Thankful' in Every Day by JOSHUA HUNDT

I was sitting home relaxing for about four minutes one Saturday after a long day with the boys. It was a rare night when Kristin was out of town, and I randomly thought back to a cold, dark December 25th evening when I was a child. I can remember myself reviewing all the gifts I received, lining them up neatly (some things don’t change), and maybe playing with them for a bit. It was a day full of gifts from Santa, a huge breakfast at my house, two donuts after breakfast, time with my cousins and siblings at my grandma’s house, and my parents letting me have a can of coke with my dinner because it’s very hard to say no to a kid on Christmas. Basically, it was me just thinking about how Christmas day was (still is) always just the most perfect day in the world.

Then my thinking fast forwarded  many years to reminisce about a recent day in our life filled with dirty diapers, a trip to the garbage dump to drop off leaves with the men (one of our favorite fall activities), reading books for naps, debating with the boys about how many of their gluten free fish sticks to eat, walking outside to see the moon, playing a game of PIG in the fireplace room (against Kristin while the boys cheer us on), the bathroom getting flooded because the boys haven’t learned the meaning of the phrase keep the water in the bathtub, reading more books and saying prayers for bedtime rituals, and ending with Kristin and I having our favorite “date” of watching a TV show recorded days earlier, and eating Dusty’s takeout. Basically, it was me just thinking about how that day was the most perfect day in the world.

The realization that a day like the one mentioned above is the most perfect day in the world, is the most incredible feeling in the world.  In our time together we have been through many challenges of sickness in the family, death of family members, fertility struggles, and days, weeks and years so difficult that all we wanted was for them to end. I also realize we will have all these same types of challenges, and more, as we and our children journey through this difficult world. These challenges make me even more grateful for what we have. So It wasn’t a perfect day because every event that happened was perfect- far from it. It was a perfect day because I realized through that day I have every major thing dreamed for in life, and that despite the fact that none of us are perfect on our own- our little family is perfect for each other..

Unlike most ten year olds that played sports all the time, I never thought I was going to be a professional athlete. That simply was never how I viewed a successful adult future for me. When it really got down to what I dreamed for myself as an adult, it was a wife to love, kids to play with (specifically twins, as long as they were different sizes so I didn’t get them mixed up), and a job where I could wear a tie. Somehow, I have been blessed with all of these things and more. 

I have an amazing wife that will always try to put my needs before her own, a wife I genuinely love spending time with, a wife that makes me smile and laugh, and who even occasionally still laughs at my jokes.

I also am blessed to be watching my sons grow up before my eyes, realizing it is about so much more than just playing with them like the ten year old version of me dreamed of. It is about the amazement of things like hearing them learn a new word, find a new country on a map, show compassion for the people of Haiti (taught by Kristin), and them dancing in a circle together singing ring around the rosey. It is about about the grind of teaching them to always listen, to always be kind, to always help their brothers, and to always stay curious.

On this thanksgiving, I am writing this to remind myself not only to be thankful today and every day, but to always remember that at the end of each evening I don’t have to wait 365 more days for another day like a childhood Christmas day, because odds are tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day will all be incredible days on this journey of our life.


Happy Thanksgiving (and Merry Christmas) to all of you! 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Why I'm #notwithhim and I'm #notwithher - What endorsement means to me

I have been politically quiet on social media outlets for many years - like since I had an 'away' message in AOL Instant Messenger.  It's not my thing to post about that.  I consider myself a knowledgeable voter and am certainly passionate about many political topics.  I don't need you to try to change my opinions over a screen and I certainly don't need to change yours that way either.   

Election day is in a couple of days and I find myself more and more disappointed... I know many of you are too.

When looking up 'endorse' on Google, it is defined as to "declare one's public approval or support of."

That word is thrown around a lot during political elections- people giving endorsements, taking away endorsements, and my favorite, people who refused to endorse a candidate at one time then choose to endorse them later. 

My vote in the booth is my endorsement of that person and I take that word very seriously. For many reasons, I will not 'endorse' either large party candidate this election year.  And for many other reasons, I will not be endorsing any popular third party candidates either.  I  just cannot.  

So...

I will not vote for someone just to 'stop' another candidate from winning.
I will not vote for someone because he/she is a part of a political party in which I often times align myself.
I will not vote for someone because he/she is the "lesser" of two evils.
And I certainly will note for someone if I do not feel ethically or morally comfortable declaring my public support of him/her.  

What I WILL do though, is vote on Election Day.

I will vote because I know an endless list of countries who do not give their citizens a say or a voice in how their government or leadership is set up.
I will vote because my gender fought tirelessly for years to be on an equal playing field in that voting booth.
I will vote to set a good example to my three young boys of the importance of being a part of our democratic process.  
I will vote because if I don't, I am part of the problem that set up this election in first place instead of the solution.
I will vote because there ARE American citizens who are over 35 years of age that I DO endorse - that I can publicly declare my support for.  

On Election Day, I will write a name on the line- probably my mother's.  I DO endorse her: her morals, her values, her respect for life and human beings, her character.  If you know her, you would probably agree that all American citizens could use a little more Pat Pavona in their life. 

#PattyforPrezi
#PresidentPatPavona
#TripleP
#AnAngelforAmerica

Many would certainly label my vote a 'throw away' vote. However, I can be at peace knowing I will truly endorse the candidate I will write on that line. I may not support our country's choices this election year, but I can still support the process. I hope you all choose to vote too, for whomever you endorse. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New House: One Year Later

On November 1st, 2015 our family stayed our first night in our new house in Okemos. 

Looking back, I feel so at peace with how things worked out and our decision to buy the house we did.  We are loving the subdivision, our neighbors are fantastic, and going from a ranch to having an upstairs has been a GAME CHANGER for our family. 

When we bought the house, there was something about it that felt right, but it didn't look right... yet.

Little by little, over time, we have been transforming it into really feeling like ours. 

Here is some of the work we've done.

KITCHEN:
Thankfully, we were able to own this house for one month while still living in our old house so because of that, we were able to do the bulk of the kitchen work when five people (including three kids 2.5 and under) were living there.  We re-faced the cabinets and painted them, took out the drop down ceiling and fluorescent lighting, got several new slate appliances and rearranged them, added a backsplash, redid the flooring, painted the room and got new counter tops.  Josh and his parents did the flooring and Josh has been a beast at changing the trim from oak to white (I've helped some too ;) )

We also got some new furniture for the breakfast nook.

BEFORE: Kitchen
AFTER: Kitchen

AFTER: Kitchen


BEFORE: Breakfast Nook



AFTER: Breakfast Nook


LIVING ROOM:
We are hoping this room will be a place to harness some of our genius: to create, to read, to pretend, to learn, to study, to play.  No TV here! :) The living room (which we call the fireplace room) got new paint, new flooring, and new d├ęcor.  Bye-bye stuffed pheasant!  And no, we haven't used this stove... yet ;) 
BEFORE: Fireplace Room
  
AFTER: Fireplace Room

AFTER: Fireplace Room
FAMILY ROOM:
This room of the house has been great because it has a door to shut!  Quarantining people in one area was certainly how I survived the first few months in the house when Carter was still very little and was needing to nurse a lot.  It has also been a Godsend as Carter began getting mobile because we could shut this door and be away from stairs! This room got new paint and new furniture. 


BEFORE: Family Room

AFTER: Family Room

You'll notice only a few rooms featured here.  Even though we've been here a year, we are still continuing to change, paint, and update.  These are truly the only rooms I would consider to be basically "done."  Onward! :)

Happy one year anniversary, house.  We sure are loving you!!