Back in December, amidst all the hustle and bustle of Claire’s Team Canada experience, our boy Ren turned 11 years old!
I took his birthday portraits back in late November and meant to have this post up and running by his birthday, but unfortunately my time fell short and so this post is more than a month late! Nevertheless, I still want to mark his birthday on the blog and chat a bit about our wonderful son.
So, this guy …
… he’s a pretty fantastic little man. This birthday was an unusual one for him in that he didn’t have Paul, Claire and me there; we were in Poland, and Paul’s parents came here to look after Ren the entire time we were gone. We knew he was in great hands and that his birthday would still be special – as he would be celebrating it with some of our closest family and friends – but it couldn’t have been easy on him to have his immediate family away on his birthday. And you know what? He didn’t once complain. He unselfishly took it in stride. I think that’s pretty remarkable for a young dude.
Taking things in stride … I think that was a theme for Ren this past year. When he was little, he would pout whenever he was unhappy or felt he was being treated unfairly. But over time, and this year especially, I can see a new maturity in Ren. He’s accepted new routines and changes stoically and with dedication (e.g. weekly math tutoring with daily practice, a move to a different program at school) and I’m so pleased that it has been paying off for him in school, giving him new reason to be proud.
As always, he is imaginative and playful, kind and compassionate, thoughtful and witty. He continues to be a voracious reader, and I’m occasionally stopped in my tracks by his ever-growing vocabulary or a particularly complex sentence that’s just come from his mouth.
More and more, I can see glimpses of the man Ren will become and it makes me proud. He has a strong moral compass, a natural curiosity and a kind, kind heart. Each year, we see something new and positive alight in him, and we know we are blessed to have him in our lives.
Much love to you, Renchie, and may your eleventh year be your best yet! xoxo
What a whirlwind these past few months have been, much of it due to Claire’s participation on Team Canada Dance!
Back in March, Claire auditioned to be a part of Team Canada Dance (West), which would be competing in Poland at the International Dance Organization’s (IDO) World Championships in Ballet, Jazz and Modern Dance. It took several months before she learned of the good news, but good news is always worth the wait: she made the Team!
From August to almost Christmas, our lives pretty much revolved around her involvement on the team. With seven routines to learn, she spent many hours in rehearsal while Paul and I spent many hours driving her back and forth to the dance studio! As time went on, there were parent meetings, shopping trips for extra dance things she needed, fundraising requirements and finally in November, a showcase of all the amazing dance routines Team Canada West would be performing in Poland – oh, and more rehearsals after that of course!
Finally, on December 1, we departed for Poland. Unfortunately, our team wasn’t able to fly all together on the same plane but Claire at least had several team mates and friends with her. Here they are at the airport before leaving.
The team itself was made up of 61 dancers and three choreographers. The following picture was taken much later in the trip, but it shows the entire team.
We were the one lucky group from our team who had a direct flight from Toronto to Warsaw. The rest of Team Canada West had stopovers in Frankfurt, Munich and Amsterdam.
Thankfully we arrived in Warsaw without incident and boarded our bus for the one-hour drive to the hotel and convention center southwest of Warsaw. Situated about 15 minutes from a small town named Rawa Mazowiecka, our home away from home for the next several days was Hotel Ossa Congress and Spa. It was massive, and even saying that is an understatement.
I couldn’t get the entire thing into one picture so you’ll only see parts of it at a time. The pictures above and below show the main entrance and the theatre wing off to the left.In the next photo, you can see the front wing of another huge section of the hotel. We stayed in the back wing of the far right-hand side of the hotel. I should have worn my Fitbit to count the steps I took every day going back and forth from our room to the far-off theatre wing.
We arrived at the hotel before dinner on Saturday night, and by Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m, these crazy girls were all set to dance!
LOL, I had to include that silly shot because soon enough, the girls had their serious dance faces on!
Now, normally at dance competitions, spectators are not allowed to take photos because there is a professional photography company on site and they want the monopoly on the photos so that they can charge an arm and a leg. At this competition, however, you could buy a special pass to take photos yourself from the audience. I was torn about whether to bother or not, but Paul insisted I’d want to take photos and he was right! I didn’t really have the right lens for it, but the photos are good enough for my purposes.
Their first dance up was their small modern group:
In this category, there were 22 routines from various countries. Whoever made it to the semi-finals would dance again, and then again if they made it to the finals. And our girls made it all the way to the finals! (By the way, in regular dance competitions, the kids only dance their routines once so it was great to see each routine several times over at this competition.)
Our girls placed 6th out of 22 with their small modern group, and we couldn’t have been more proud!
Claire was able to ward off jet lag and exhaustion during competing, but as soon as we got back to our room, she succumbed to it all! Lucky for her she had the next day off to relax.
Tuesday was the debut of their large modern group. By then, they were all (mostly) rested and they danced their hearts out once again.
Their large modern group was one of my favourite routines of theirs. They danced it beautifully, and came in 5th out of 18.
Next up was their small jazz group.
The girls totally killed it in this routine and it paid off BIG! They earned the gold medal!
Here’s the moment they realized they got first place:
Seeing that realization set in upon their faces is a moment I’ll never forget. They were the new world champions for small group jazz!
And here they are on the podium!
When they proudly sang O Canada, with their Team Canada East counterparts to the right in third place, I couldn’t help but well up a bit. It was pretty incredible to witness their joy and pride.
That took place on Thursday which was a crazy day. The girls performed their small jazz group that day (in continuation from the night before) as well as ALL of their ballet routines.
Their first ballet routine that day was their small ballet group.
Both Canadian teams – East and West – performed beautifully and soon only those two teams were left in the running for first and second place. Note in the photo below how Claire (near center) is clasping hands with one of the girls on the right-hand side of the picture from Team Canada East. They became close over the course of the week, bonding over performing ballet duets in the same category.
Team Canada East ended up taking the gold for the small ballet group dance but all was well because we still got to belt out O Canada! Besides, silver is nothing to sniff at!
Ballet large group was next.
Once again, our girls made it to the podium in second place, with Team Canada East in first.
Finally, near Claire’s bedtime, she and her partner Anna performed their beautiful duet.
(Note: the last photo above is from the professional photography company at the event. It was posted on their web page.)
The girls made it to the finals (performing for the last time well after Claire’s usual bedtime!) and came in fourth place!
At one of the merchandise tables, they displayed t-shirts you could buy that contained the name of every solo or duet participant by genre in the competition. Since Claire had a ballet duet, her name appeared on the ballet t-shirt which of course we had to buy!
Friday morning was a little rough considering how late the girls had to stay up the night before but once they got on stage, you’d never know it! They brought amazing energy to their dance and completely nailed the routine.
This, their large jazz routine, was their last routine of the competition. It was a little bittersweet seeing them perform it during the finals because we knew it was their last moments on the world stage. But wouldn’t you know it, they went out with a bang! They earned second place once again, next to their Team Canada East friends in first.
Here’s the moment they realized Team Canada East won gold while our girls took silver.
It was an amazing end to an equally amazing week.
Later that day, I had to capture Claire wearing all of her hardware: one gold medal, three silvers and two finalist medals. (She was also a finalist in their seventh routine but it was a large group and they received certificates instead of medals for that one.)
Dance was the reason we were in Poland but if you ask Claire, what stands out to her most are all the fun times she had with her friends. They spent countless hours in the rehearsal hall together, eating meals together, swimming, exploring, making each other laugh and consoling each other when emotions ran high. These twelve girls are thick as thieves now, and will always share a special bond.
While Claire treasures the friendships she made during this experience, I see additional things that Claire gained. She’s always been a hard worker but she gained more stamina during these last few months, both physically and mentally. She gained more independence. She’s become more resilient. She’s become a stronger, more compassionate team member.
It’s like those articles we dance moms come across from time to time about why we spend so much time, money and energy on our children’s dance if our children are not going to become professional dancers one day. It’s because it’s not all about the dancing at the end of the day. It’s about all the lessons learned and skills developed along the way.
And so, from this mama’s perspective, the whirlwind of these past few months, the jet lag, the long days, the thousands of dollars to travel to Poland … the value of all of these is not the collection of medals earned on stage in Poland; rather, the value or the reward is the culmination of the skills and qualities Claire developed during these last few months. The hardware may get lost in a drawer some day but the intangible benefits of the experience will serve Claire well over the course of her life.
What better topic for a new year’s post than a new baby? (Well, maybe some new year’s resolutions couldn’t hurt, but a baby is soooo much more fun!)
Introducing my beautiful new niece, Josephine Noelle.
My younger brother Stu and his wife Chrissy welcomed this lovely little lady on December 21. Her first name is that of our paternal grandmother, while Noelle is uniquely hers, inspired of course by the season of her birth.
I was very fortunate to be able to photograph baby Josie on Boxing Day when she was only five days old. While I snapped away, Paul and my kids played upstairs with Josie’s big sister, Sophia. From what I heard (and saw on little breaks), Claire and Ren played Ring-around-the-rosie basically non-stop for over two hours. When Sophia wasn’t mauling Ren, that is. She has really taken a shine to her big cousin, and I was proud to see how sweet he was in handling her exuberant affection!
But back to the beautiful Josephine …
Look at all that gorgeous dark hair! Just like her big sister, this baby was born with a full head of dark hair. It’ll be interesting to see if she eventually becomes a light-haired beauty like her big sis (and Mom), or if she’ll stay dark like her dad’s side of the family.
Sigh. Isn’t she amazing? I may be a little biased, but really, I do find every little part of her just adorable. I mean, even her tiny ears make me ooh and ahhh!
When Chrissy was expecting Josie, she knitted (or crocheted?) this pretty blanket. She did something similar for Sophia too.
And oh yes, I had to take photos of baby Josephine in her birthday suit on a (faux) sheepskin rug! For the sake of her modesty, however, I’m not sharing all of the birthday suit photos.
Just look at those little hands and the fine hair on her face in the photo below. She’s so new and perfect.
Speaking of perfect, Josie’s big sister Sophia is simply amazing. Not to say she isn’t going through some of the typical stuff when a new baby enters the home, but her loving and affectionate nature hasn’t wavered.
I’m so happy for Chrissy and Stu to have welcomed another wonderful, healthy girl into their family. Congrats and all the best wishes, Chrissy and Stu, to you and your family of four!
How can it be Christmas Eve already? I feel like it should still be September!
This year has been a year of highs (our recent trip to Poland for Claire to compete at the World Dance Championships – more on that in a separate post) and lows (the passing of our beloved old kitty). There have also been other significant memorable events and moments throughout the year … another trip to Disneyland this past February, a mini-Jiangxi girls reunion in August to name a couple. I haven’t blogged it all – although I meant to – but maybe I’ll get around to it at some point. In any event, it was a good year overall. But I have a feeling that 2018 will be even better!
Merry Christmas to all of you! May you have a safe and joyful holiday season.
I realized recently that after flying several international and domestic flights with my family, I have considerable experience in flying with kids. By the time my children were 10 years old, I’d logged well over 100 hours in the air with them!
We have received so many sweet comments from flight attendants and fellow travelers about my kids’ good behavior on board. Although my children deserve credit for their own good behavior, I’m just going to take a moment here to pat myself on the back for having a hand in it. After all, I do think my husband and I prepared them well. We’ve got to take a bit of credit sometimes, right parents?!
Before I get into my tips for traveling with kids, I want to share the premise upon which most of my suggestions are based, and that is simply to help your children understand what to expect. The unknown is scary and can be overwhelming – for any of us! But if kids are equipped with a basic understanding of what will or may happen on a flight or at the airport, it’s easier for them to go with the flow.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: my kid isn’t even two years old! How am I going to get through to him or her? That’s where my tips come into play. Below, the ideas I’ve shared are all things I did with my first child before she was even a year and a half. (We adopted our second child at 27 months old, and I went over the same things with him then.) I firmly believe that our kids can understand a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for. We just need to find engaging ways to communicate with them at their level.
Tip #1: Play “airplane” well before you fly
One of the best things we did with our kids was to play “airplane” – and we played it often! In fact, we even had a name for our airline: “Claire-Bear Air” (since we only had Claire at the time we started the game).
We would arrange chairs and stools two by two, a few rows deep, with an “aisle” between the sets of chairs. I’d start by explaining how an airplane is set up (rows of seats, with bathrooms at the front or the back, etc.), and that we are expected to remain seated and buckled in for safety throughout the entire flight, just like we do in the car. A flight attendant would come around, help ensure everyone is buckled in safely, and serve drinks and sometimes food.
Of course, I would then have to act the part of the flight attendant while my children pretended to be civilized passengers on board. Ordering their own drinks was something they particularly enjoyed.
We all know kids learn from repetition, but I didn’t want to repeat myself constantly with rules about what they couldn’t or shouldn’t do on the airplane. So instead, I’d get them to tell me the rules in a silly quiz-like session. For example, I’d ask things like:
- Are we allowed to hang out in the aisle?
- Should we take off our seat belts?
- Are we allowed to stand on our seats?
- Should we kick the seats in front of us?
My kids loved answering back with firm “nos” to all the questions I posed. They would then proudly proceed to tell me why these things aren’t permitted. If they wanted, they could turn the tables on me and ask their own questions about airplane dos and don’ts.
Tip #2: Invest in an approved child-restraint system
As soon as our children were old enough, we purchased the Cares Harness Child Aviation Restraintfor each of them. Approved the Federal Aviation Association, this child restraint harness supplements the airplane seat belt, and provides for a much more secure ride, especially in the case of turbulence. In addition to the all-important safety aspect, we also appreciated the harness for the fact that it kept our kids “contained”; my husband is certain that the harness helped impart to the children that they were to remain buckled and seated, just as they are in a car seat.
The harness is quite compact and very easy to install. We never had any issues with flight attendants questioning our use of it, although it was sometimes new to them at the time. I can’t recommend this harness enough. Just don’t forget it on board when you deplane!
Tip #3: Explain about lineups and going through security
If your kids are anything like mine, they don’t like waiting in lines. To help prepare them for going through security and customs / immigration, I explained in advance that there may be long lineups where we have to wait our turn.
Explaining is one thing – again, just helping to set expectations – but the real challenge comes during the lineup itself. Be prepared to chat with your kiddos about everything and anything while waiting in line … their favourite TV show or characters, their favourite stuffies, what they want for Christmas, etc. Just keep them engaged to keep them from getting bored. Remember, kids love our attention, and this is a chance to dote on them while also distracting them from an otherwise boring lineup.
The other aspect of security that can be daunting for little ones is when everyone needs to walk through the scanner separately. My daughter in particular was nervous whenever she had to be separated from me in public even for a moment. Again, just talking this through in advance and then again in the lineup helped alleviate her concerns.
Tip #4: Have your carry-on well-stocked and with like items in ziplock bags
This is kind of a no-brainer, but be sure to pack:
- a variety of snacks (within aviation regulations, of course);
- a compact change of clothes for the kids in case of vomiting or a diaper blowout;
- any required children’s medications,
- formula, diapers, wipes, etc., and
- lots of things to keep little hands and minds busy.
The last point, in particular, is vital. Don’t rely on in-flight entertainment to keep your kiddos busy; it’s not uncommon for the entire in-flight system to be down, or for a particular headrest screen to be nonfunctional. Pack an assortment of new-to-the-child activities that will help keep their interest: stickers, small puzzles, finger puppets, mazes, colouring books, washable markers, etc.
Package like items with like in ziplock bags for easy removal when you go through security, and for easy access on the plane.
Your carry-on bags will be F-U-L-L. In the early days of traveling with our kids, our carry-ons were almost exclusively filled with stuff for the kids. I probably had a magazine or a book in there for myself somewhere, but between their diapers, wipes, formula, snacks, and activiites, there wasn’t a lot of room left for my stuff. But nevermind, I didn’t need things to keep me busy because … see Tip #5.
Tip #5: Anticipate that you’ll be very busy
Don’t expect to relax much on the plane, especially if you are traveling with toddlers. You’ll need the carry-on with all their snacks and activities tucked under the seat in front of you, and believe me, you’ll be accessing it regularly.
You’ll be busy handing your kids new activities, picking up fallen markers, putting things back in the carry-on, holding their drinks, etc. I’m not going to lie, it may tire you out a bit but it is totally worth it for the peace of mind it provides. Tiring yes, but stressful? No.
If you are traveling with a partner who is going to be looking after one of the kids, be sure to familiarize him or her with the carry-on for that child, and prepare them in advance for how busy he or she will likely be during the flight.
By the time my kids were five or six, they were managing all their activities on the plane themselves. They knew the deal. They knew how to behave appropriately. I could finally sit back and relax! So have faith, your time will come too!
Tip #6: Sweeten the deal whenever you can
Dentists would surely not approve, but we always gave lollipops to our kids at take-off (obviously not when they were babies, though!). Not only did the sucking action help with ear pressure, but it also just gave them a happy distraction.
At home, we rarely had juice as a beverage but on an airplane? Absolutely! They thought it was fun to order their juice all by themselves, and then enjoyed savouring its sweetness. You may want to hold their juice on your tray, though, to avoid spillage.
Tip #7: Go to the bathroom before its an emergency
Kids need to know in advance that there can sometimes be long lineups for the bathroom. If they wait until they really, really have to go, they may get stuck waiting in line – or even have to go back to their seats if the plane encounters turbulence. So give them fair warning that they need to tell you if they have to go before the urge is very strong; that they will probably have to wait in line and hold it until it is their turn. Ask them often if they might need to go to the bathroom soon.
Tip #8: Read books together about air travel
I’m putting this great tip last simply because it’s something we didn’t actually do with our own kids. Being book-lovers, I have no idea why it didn’t occur to me to find some books on the subject. I guess we were too busy playing “Claire-Bear Air”.
Here are some that I would consider:
And that’s my list! I hope these ideas are as helpful to you as they were for us. Our children have been very easygoing travelers since the beginning, and I truly think its due in large part to them knowing what to expect, how to behave and being kept engaged with us or their activities. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to alleviate their stress – and therefore ours – on the flight. It may take a little effort on our part – at least in the beginning – but it is so worth it!
Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. If you purchase something via these links, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
We are going to Poland!
Our big family news this fall is that Claire earned a coveted spot on Team Canada Dance! She will be competing at the World Championships in Ballet, Modern and Jazz in Poland in December. Paul and I both jumped at the chance to accompany her. There is no way we are going to miss seeing our girl on the world stage!
The competition itself will be held at a conference center outside a small town southwest of Warsaw named Rawa Mazowiecka. We don’t know yet where we are staying (at a nearby small town or in Warsaw, commuting each day) but regardless, we know that sightseeing opportunities are likely nil until AFTER the competition. Basically, for six days straight, we are going to be watching dance from morning till night! I’ll definitely need to stock Paul’s Kindle up for the trip in case he needs a little break from all that dancing 🙂
After the competition, we will have three days to ourselves in Poland. I wish it were more, but that was the only option (without forfeiting our already-paid-for flight home). With such a short amount of time, we’re going to focus on Krakow for most of our time, with part of just one day in Warsaw. Paul and I would both like to go to Auschwitz but due to limited time and the company of our 11 1/2 year old, we won’t be making the trip there. (There is a chance Paul may go on his own during one of the days of competition; I’d love to go too but I don’t want to miss any of Claire’s routines.)
Whenever I travel, I love to pore over travel guides well in advance, learning about the history of the location and its major sights, and trying to get a handle on its topography. Just as much, I love to find absorbing fiction and non-fiction to help immerse myself in the country and the part of its history that intrigues me. With Poland, there is no shortage of reading material for me to savour on my Kindle. World War II in particular is the historical timeline that interests me the most so that’s what I’ve focused on first.
What I’ve read so far
The Pianistby Wladyslaw Szpilman
This memoir was utterly heartwrenching to read, in part because of Mr. Szpilman’s unflinching candor in describing all that he and others endured while in hiding in Warsaw during the war. He wrote this account very shortly after the war ended, which no doubt aided his ability to recall the events so vividly but also, I suspect, his ability to tell some of the more horrific details in an explicit and almost matter-of-fact manner, (so numbly accustomed might he have become to the widespread suffering?).
From a historical perspective, The Pianist was a fascinating read, as it is a first-hand account of living through an unfathomably painful time in the history of Warsaw and its citizens. I don’t think I ever saw this movie. I’ll be sure to see it soon.
Schindler’s Listby Thomas Keneally
This was another piece of non-fiction that I couldn’t put down. I only vaguely knew the story of Oskar Schindler; somehow I had missed seeing the movie in the early 90s, and now I definitely need to see it. Schindler was a German industrialist who owned an enamelware factory in Krakow and used it as a means of keeping many Jews from harsh labour camps and ultimately, extermination camps. That’s a massive oversimplification on my part, as this is the story of a profoundly courageous man who saved more Jews from annihilation than any other individual during World War II. Supported by many written testimonies from the people he saved, he was recognized as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” – a particular honour for non-Jews, by Yad Vashem in Israel.
The Dollmaker of Krakowby R.M. Romero
This is a children’s book I purchased for Claire but I wanted to read it first. I just finished it the other day; Claire hasn’t started it yet or I’d ask her to offer her thoughts on the book instead of mine.
Beautifully written, this book reads like historical fiction fused with a fairy tale. It tells the story of a doll and the humans she comes to love in Krakow during the war. It is not without tragedy but it is not overly explicit.
The Kommandant’s Girlby Pam Jenoff
Also set in Krakow, this fictional story introduces us to a Jewish girl who obtains the necessary false identity papers to pass as an Aryan, and ends up working for the Nazis while aiding in the Resistance at the same time. Decently written and seemingly well-researched, this novel was a good read and somewhat lighter than the first two books I noted above, if only because its heroine is fictional. The dangerous but often life-saving scenario of Jewish people trying to pass as Aryan, however, is real, and this book is a good introduction to the concept.
The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story (Movie Tie-in) (Movie Tie-in Editions)by Diane Ackerman
Back to non-fiction, The Zookeeper’s Wife was more along the lines of Schindler’s List but not as well-written in my opinion. I found it disjointed in places as the author would often alternate in style between being a storyteller, a biographer, and a historian (and even an entomologist at times – a little too much detail about the bugs!). Somehow, the writing just came across to me as awkward. Nevertheless, the incredible story of the Zookeeper’s family emerged and kept my attention, as I learned how the family assisted the escape of several Jews from the soon-to-be evacuated ghetto, and sheltered so many others in and around their villa at the Warsaw Zoo. Particularly poignant were the wife’s worries and observations about how her young son was coping in the face of such danger and acts of violence.
Normally I’m a firm believer that the book is better than the movie, but I have a feeling I may like the recent movie by the same name more. I’m going to look it up soon.
What I’ll read next
I still plan to read A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising (New York Review Books Classics)by Miron Bialoszewski, which I understand is an unparalleled description of those 63 days of rebellion.
I also want to read about Irene Sendler, a woman whose brave actions were briefly described in the Zookeeper’s Wife. I’ll start with a children’s book, Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaustby Jennifer Roy, and then I may read a biography called Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghettoby Tilar J. Mazzeo.
Getting back to fiction (which is normally my favourite), I’m excited to read A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially Trueby Brigid Pasulka. From the description and reviews on Amazon, it sounds like a beautiful and magical book.
After that, I think I’ll take a break from World War II to focus on some much-lauded fiction of Polish authors. (I intend to focus only on fiction set in Poland, though.) I know for sure that I’ll start with The Doll (New York Review Books Classics)by Boleslaw Prus. Beyond that, I’m not sure what I’ll be reading. I’ve found several titles online that intrigue me, but I need to research them a bit more before I commit to them!
Stay tuned for more about our trip!
Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. If you purchase something via these links, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
On September 7th, we made some very important additions to our family! Introducing our new furry girls, Minka and Nina!
This little one is called Minka but we often just call her “the baby”.
We adopted her at 11 weeks old.
In order to introduce her slowly to our household and our other new cat, we put her in a harness with a leash so that we could keep track of her whereabouts. She is one fast little kitten!
That same day, we also adopted our beautiful new girl Nina. She is about a year and four months old in these first couple of photos.
Her grey coat and green eyes are stunning.
Our first night with Nina was so sweet and funny. While the baby was safely tucked in for the night in her temporary “kitten room”, we allowed Nina to come up to our bedroom with us. She had been sweet all day but not overly affectionate. We soon learned that all changes at nighttime! This cat may not want to sit on our laps but she definitely wants to sleep on our heads! She soon began to knead her paws on my neck, my face, my hair, etc, all the while purring loudly.
The first while was pretty rough in terms of the two kitties getting along. They fought so roughly and we just couldn’t tell if they were play-fighting or if it was for real. Plus, baby Minka had ear-mites so we did want to keep them mostly separated until her treatment was complete.
Fast forward to now – three weeks later – and the two girls have really hit their stride together. Minka, the kitten, is now free to roam the house day and night alongside her big sister Nina. They love to fight together but also love to groom and cuddle each other. We adore their love fests!
This condo in the living room is their favourite perch in the house. It has two sleeping areas but the highest one is the favourite of both of course. I quickly snapped this pic when Nina jumped up to the top where Minka was already curled.
While I still had my camera out, they rearranged themselves in that small area and began to groom each other. First, Nina groomed the kitten and then to my surprise, the baby began to clean Nina.
Such little lovey-dovey babies.
One of the best things about discontinuing my photography business is that I no longer have photo fatigue when it comes to my own family. Before, I honestly had no energy left to document my family’s milestones and growth, which is ironic because that’s actually the reason I loved photography in the first place!
Thankfully, my kiddos humour my now-rejuvenated passion for photographing them. Yesterday, after homework, we hopped in the car and went down by the river for a few casual snaps.
When I do portraits of Ren, I often have him remove his glasses to avoid lens glare. He does have non-glare lenses but it seems the glare still exists. Granted, if I ask him to lower his chin slightly, the glare will disappear but his natural head position is slightly more upward-facing and I have to constantly remind him to lower his chin. Plus, if he is wearing his glasses the glare is inevitable when I catch him in those cute and natural in-between moments of laughter. Argh! I think I’ll need to remember to have him remove the glasses at least part of the session in the future.
Today is actually an important day in our family history: nine years ago today, Paul and I received Ren’s adoption referral. He was soooo cute in those pictures. I’ll never forget that little shaved head, and his glorious smile that captured our hearts.
He’s never had a shaved head since, but his smile is as bright as ever.
And when he’s not smiling, he’s pulling off these GQ cover model looks that just crack me up. (See the third photo below in particular!)
And then there’s our girl.
She is fast becoming a young lady, and I’m not gonna lie: it makes this mama a little sad. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to see her becoming this amazing, confident, independent person; but she is less “mine” day by day, moment by moment. I know she’ll always be my girl but I guess I’m just going through a bit of a nostalgic, melancholy stage of motherhood. I’m sure that this too shall pass. In the meantime, she just laughs at my melodramatic ways!
This little session with the kiddos reminded me that I have no regrets giving up my business nearly a year ago. I’m just not cut out for that business, no matter how much I pushed myself to get over my “issues”, LOL. I’m much too hard on myself in general but especially when it comes to delivering for other people.
For example, when I’d edit a session for clients, my many concerns and insecurities about it could be summed up as, “Is this good enough?” Now, when I’m working on a session for my own family, it’s more like, “Wow, I actually got some good stuff here!” As in, what a delightful surprise! I may wish that I’d captured more poses or had more variety to my backgrounds but since it’s just for me and my own, it doesn’t really matter, because I have only my own expectations to manage.
I actually was super-lucky with all my clients and never had a single complaint but still, it was my own insecurities that got in my way. I know this, and I know I can’t always let those insecurities get the better of me, but I think this was not the fight I wanted to fight with myself.
Well, enough of those heavy reflections. It’s a gorgeous day outside and I’m going to head out there to clean up the yard a bit in the warm sunshine. Have a fantastic day, everyone!
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