I was upstairs editing photos for a client, when I decided to take a break and go downstairs. To my surprise, not only was Jack cleaning up the dinner dishes, but Clara was helping, and it was just so sweet, so of course I had to grab my camera for some quick snaps. This is her first time helping with the dishes.
It's so great to see her feeling better. The last week and weekend were horrible for her. She was scary sick. She had and ER visit, and two doctor visits before we were able to find out that she has a UTI and bladder infection (and the poor girl had to go through 4 catheter attempts during the second dr visit.). Her fevers ran for days at 104.5, she was pale, shaky, blue lips, icy hands and feet, and projectile vomiting. She cried and screamed at times, and it was just heartbreaking. Luckily the antibiotics are helping her feel better, and she's almost halfway through taking the medicine.
My heart just adores her. Her messy face from dinner, her messy hair, because she won't keep her hair in a ponytail, standing here helping her daddy wash dishes. I just turn to mush. I feel so lucky to be her mom. She's a fighter, she's tough, full of sass, but so very sweet, and so full of love.
A Doll in Yellow
I saw this stunning yellow plaid jumper and knew it was a must have for Clara. She looks like a gorgeous baby doll in this outfit. It will always be a favorite of mine. The cold shoulder, poofy sleeves, the way the cut and the bow are placed on the back, the wide leg pants, it just makes me swoon when I see her wearing this outfit.
It's an outfit that deserved being photographed outside, and although we live in the southwest desert of Idaho, there are still little gems like this spot, along Indian Creek. When the sun is setting is looks cinematic and magical in the late Spring, early Summer, and once more at the beginning of fall when leaves turn colors. I knew this would be the perfect spot to take her.
Now, getting a busy body 22 month old to not run off every half second is the real trick. One thing about photographing babies and toddlers is that there's a special quality in not posing them. Well, you can try all day long to pose a toddler, but good luck with that. It's much better to just let them do their thing and be as quick as you can with the push of your shutter and timing.
Some shots are soft, even a tad blurry, but I still love them. I love the grain/noise that comes with a higher ISO setting after the peak sunset time. I love watching her explore and run around outdoors. Her interest in every stick, leaf, rock, and flower met with my enthusiasm and adoration over her and her treasures.
The first attempt to photograph her outside in this outfit was almost a bust. There were blooms on flowers I knew wouldn't last long. We had been having lots of wind, rain, and thunderstorms. As the saying goes around here at Springtime, in like a lion, out like a lamb.
But late one evening, the clouds passed enough and the wind calmed, so we headed to the creek to explore.
She ran all over the place as I moved with her, squatting, sometimes kneeling down, or even laying down on the wet grass to get a variety of angles. At some moments the sun coming through the trees was so gorgeous and would cloud and blow out my images, which created some heavenly lighting effects to my shots of her.
We came across some yellow daffodils at one point, but it was getting really late by that point. She was getting a bit cranky, and didn't want to play much anymore. Dad tried to help her stay in the playful mood by swinging her around, but she just wasn't going to have any of it once he set her back down. So most of the shots of her near the flowers are of running away looking grouchy or sad. So we called it a night and thought we would come back the next evening to try again with the flowers. However, like most families, life happens, and it was some time before we went back to make our second attempt.
The Second Attempt
A month and a few days had passed from the first attempt out at the creek photographing her in this outfit. I still wanted more photos of her in it near the yellow daffodils. I wasn't excited about how the images turned out with her by the flowers during the first attempt.. I crossed my fingers, hoping the flowers would still be in bloom, but once we arrived, we saw they were no more. So we played anyways. Maybe next Spring I can try again to get some epic shots by the yellow daffodils.
Catch a Frog
While playing around during our second attempt near the daffodils, we spotted a few tiny frogs. Clara was the first to see one. It immediately intrigued her to see a real frog. I was trying to get her to look up towards me for a photo, but something had her eye. When I asked her a few times what she was looking at she became really excited, and came running. Jack went over to see what she was so happy about. He saw the tiny frog on a leaf and picked it up so she could get a better look at it. Then he put it back down in the grass and she squatted down to watch it for a long, few, quiet moments. When it hopped off she was a little sad to see her new frog friend leave. But it was also our cue to call it an evening. The sun had set and it was quickly getting dark out.
The last shots I tried to squeeze out of every drop of light left before we headed home. I thought it looked pretty neat to see the dappled evening light on her face.
What are some things you can do while your toddler naps?
1. Take a nap and tell yourself your catching up on sleep, which as a parent we all know you just will never do.
2. Do chores around the house
3. Spend some quality time with your partner
4. Relax and do something for yourself
5. If you're like me and work from home, then you have a mile long to do list to choose from.
6. Build a dinosaur garden
Well, it's #6 of course.
Load up your spunky toddler in the car on a 100 degree day to go to the nearest hardware and garden store. when you get there, make her walk everywhere with you, so she burns out. Have her smell all the flowers in the garden center, and try to "help" you lift bags of dirt and rocks.
Get home and realize you just spent nearly $75 bucks for all the stuff to make a dinosaur garden. You hope she likes it, but who knows one day she likes dinosaurs, the next she could be screaming and crying at me for even thinking she still likes dinosaurs, who knows, it's a crazy life with a toddler.
Before you can build it, you have to debate with your husband about the best place in the yard to put it. He doesn't like your original idea, so you both hem and haw about why whatever spot is better. Meanwhile, your getting drenched in sweat, because it's like the devil's armpit outside, but thank God you can't smell the cow farm two miles down the road today.
You finally decide to put the dino garden where your husband wants it, but then elaborate on his spot, and tell him how it could be a cool dino play area. You have the canopy up, put down the yard mat, set up the alligator pool that you know your toddler already loves, and start getting to work on building the garden.
Wait... first get pics of everything to show how to make this thing. Someday she'll look back and see how much mommy and daddy love her and like to surprise her.
So layer 1, add rock for drainage. Jack' s anxiety kicks in and he thinks we need to wash the rocks before putting them in the bottom of the planter, where they'll be covered with sand and potting soil. The rocks look fine, and then he decides that it's pointless to wash rocks when we're putting dirt all over them, and she's not playing with them anyways, and that maybe his wife is right, and there's no microscopic mold growing on the rocks. Never a dull moment around here.
Layer 2 potting soil and plants. Any plant you like will do, depending on the size of the garden you make. Mint, fern, and grass worked for ours.
Layer 3 Add sand and the pond, which is just a .50 cent clear plastic tray that I put some river rock in.
Realize we didn't need as much as we thought, but I figure now is a good time to tell Jack that I plan on building a butterfly garden next, so no worries.
I wait for his eye roll, and remind him years ago of "growing" butterflies with our son. Then figure it's a good time to remind him of all the other ideas I have for things to do in the backyard with Clara.
Now it's time to arrange the dinosaurs in the pot. Hmmm.. it could be bigger. They need more room. I look at my husband and say, " well, this is a start, but we can elaborate as she gets bigger or something, but it'll be fun to create and grow it."
Seeing it complete made me feel giddy. The little girl I was a lifetime ago would've loved a dinosaur garden. Now it's even better, because I can spend all this time playing dinosaurs with my daughter. Totally worth it!
Jack heads inside to take a nap, while I sit on the grass taking macro shots of the dinosaurs, then realize I better get up and get ready to head off to do a photoshoot I was hired for. All the while thinking of all the cool things we can with our new dino play area....we definitely need to look up DIY dino dig excavations for the backyard, right? ;)
After taking the close up pics of each dinosaur, I can't wait to go out and play some more and pose them even better for photos. I think I just found a new side photography hobby. It was a lot of fun to just sit and photograph them for a few minutes before I had to get up and go.
Clara really loves her new dino play area. I love how content she is sitting there playing with her dinosaurs. Once I sort out what I'll do next for this play area I'll probably post an update, or just share more dinosaur photos, because I kinda just really enjoy sitting out here in the shade snapping pics of my baby girl and her dino buddies.
Emmett, Idaho Berry Pickin
The kids and I went out with friends to pick some berries. We went to two farms out in Emmett that we haven't visited before. It was a great way to spend the early afternoon. We love that the berries are grown with organic practices and aren't sprayed. They taste incredible and won't last long the way we're gobbling them up!