In-between Moments

We Are a Mess

Originally published on Bored Panda.

https://www.boredpanda.com/i-photograph-the-chaos-of-my-familys-daily-life-and-found-i-actually-like-it/

And then on Documentary Family Photographers

http://www.documentaryfamilyphotographers.com/we-are-a-mess-thoughts-on-a-happy-family-life-by-kelsey-smith/

 

We are a mess.

My kids stay up too late. We are not neat, nor tidy. My kids clothes are either too big or too small, most likely all in the same outfit. Our kitchen is yellow. Like the brightest yellow and cobalt blue you can imagine. We finally have a set bedtime after 5 years of nailing it down. We are always late to school. Everything we own is wrecked. Like things people had for years and gave to us in pristine condition. Yah, we wreck it within months. My kids aren't multilingual. They don't play any instruments yet. They won't go to the best academy in San Diego and honestly we're not pushing college as a must do rather than an option. We don’t listen to ‘kids’ music. In fact, my oldest knew how to sing “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys way before he ever learned the words to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. They’ve seen more bands in concert already than I saw until I was 18. They love to rock out to Vance Joy, The Pixies, and The Lumineers. We go to concerts at the Open Air Theatre but we don’t buy tickets. We sit on the grass outside and play as a family (and have a bottle of wine). We don’t buy all organic. We can’t, unfortunately. I tried to go to the grocery story three days in a row last week but never made it. The kids pick their own clothes out. They normally look disheveled but happy. We have a google calendar but I’m the only one who uses it. My boys didn't sleep on their own until they were two and a half and the little one still routinely kicks my hubby to the couch on the weekends. One of our family mottos is "Every day can't be the best day". My kids are almost always barefoot. My husband calls them little black foot which of course comes from the fact that he calls me black foot. We have an untrainable dog wild hybrid thing, seriously. We lovingly call our two year old Nick Nolte, and yes it's because he's crazy. The irony of yelling "QUIET" on a daily basis does not elude me.

We get by. We're happy. We are every ounce of mess and we love it.

This Man

This man.

This handsome man. He's the love of my life. That love has been evolving for nearly two decades now and I can honestly say I love him more and more each day. As we grow older, more wrinkly, more weary, and more tired our love grows stronger. As our youth fades, our love shines.

This man would never tell you how hard he works because he's not that kind of man but every single day he puts every ounce of his time and energy into our family. Yesterday, he got up at 5:30 went and worked a full day meanwhile I couldn't get my adulting off the ground. I was overwhelmed and exhausted and behind on life and work. It was one of those days that I kept looking at the clock to see how close we are to Dad coming home. And as soon as he got home he kissed me and knew already I was having an awful day. He asked me what he could do and when I was too overwhelmed to even think of anything he went to work in his shop in the garage, you know to help bring in extra income after he officially spent his entire day doing just the same at a "real" job. And when I handed him the baby and told him I needed to go to the store, alone. He didn't even flinch. He changed out of his work shirt and headed inside with the kids. And when I took an hour to pick up five things, he didn't question me or give me crap. He knew I needed that time and I am eternally grateful for that. And after he helped wash the dinner dishes and put the boys to bed, he went back outside to fix a piece of old equipment he bought off Craigslist. In our almost falling down garage which doubles as his second place of work. Seriously, the biggest tarp you've ever seen doubles as the roof. And when he finished that he came in and returned emails from his business account. And then he slept on the couch because the baby and I always mosey on over to his side of the bed and he wanted us to have a good night of sleep. And he left me an I love you note. Because this man is incredible. This man is the most amazing, hard-working, incredible guy that ever lived.

This man is my love. I have a paralyzing fear when I think of life without him. How could I possibly do any of this without him, how could we ever enjoy life without him


I am so thankful for his heart. For his support. For his beautiful genetic code. My heart overflows because he fills it each and every damn day.

This love of mine.

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Pretty Light Tantrums

Yesterday was one of those days. Not great, not horrible, just a day soon forgotten. Everyone was off as Tuesdays tend to fall for us. My husband leaves for work at 5:30 ish on the Monday morning and we basically don’t see him during waking hours again until Wednesday evening. He works his bum off and we miss him. So usually on Tuesdays, we’re already ready for Wednesday. I fed the kids dinner at 3:30. that’s how excited I was for the day to be over.

So we were bored and irritated and *some* of us were pushing boundaries. And sometimes these days end with everyone going to bed early enough to try again tomorrow but yesterday ended with a sunset. I threw the kids in the car, told the dogs to hold down the fort, and we headed to the sea. I thought the water would magically make the bad moods disappear. It didn’t. We had tantrums and timeouts even there. And that’s just ok because that's just how it had to be yesterday.

I’ll take a tantrum at sunset over a tantrum at home any damn day. 

 

We got some gems like this because basically this is us:

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The boys believe that 'jumping like Kung Fu Panda" cures all:

We're still waiting on Everett's ninja skills to make an appearance:

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Meadow just continued on being world's cutest baby:

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Even with a mouthful of sand and shells:

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Finally, we did catch some of those in-between moments that make my heart full:

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7 down. 100 more to go.

We have this chest. This beautiful, dark wood, massive chest. On the inside, there is a heart. A heart my husband carved along with our initials.

It holds the story of us. A series of moments that make up our love. Letters from the time my husband spent at war, plane tickets, mementos from vacations, photos from a decade and a half ago. It is my most treasured possession.

It hasn't been opened for ages. Before kids, we used to look through it often and reminisce about our story.  Right now it's being used as a shelf to hold our daughter's swaddles and books. This multi useful piece of our heart. The time we carved aside to reminisce has slowly been replaced with extra loads of laundry, beautifully loud children and the humdrum of everyday life. But it's there. Like our love. And it will be there when all of our children have grown. When the walls are quiet and clean and the house is boring. That little reminder of our love that quietly sits in our room until we have time to add to the story of us.

                                                          Photo for proof of chaos

                                                         Photo for proof of chaos

Having 3 Kids

Originally published on Documentary Family Photographers website:

http://www.documentaryfamilyphotographers.com/going-2-3-kids-really-like-kelsey-smith/

What is it like to have three kids?

Honestly, it’s mayhem. But it’s the most beautiful kind of mayhem. The kind you’ll miss when your house is quiet and your family is grown. It is exhausted gratitude. It is an overflowing heart. It is the greatest gift.

Having three kids is crazy. It is the kind of crazy that means getting screamed at by a 2 year-old in a dream state demanding you bring him a book at 6:00 am because he caught you sneaking in to put his laundry away. It’s the kind of crazy that means 5 out of 7 meals will be made in a crock pot some weeks. It means your oldest will always remember when they didn’t have to take a turn for your attention. It means that your heart will break when you can’t be everything to everyone at every single moment. It is repeating yourself about a million and one times every single day. It is being outnumbered. It is entire days in your pajamas because you just can’t even. It is doctor’s appointments and endless fruit cutting. It is being so tired that you don't attach one side of your baby's diaper and she pees...all over your bed. It is sending your emails at midnight so you don't accidentally start typing what your kid is saying. It means your house will more than likely look like a tornado hit, always. It is Costco-sized bags of Pirate’s Booty. It means your baby will base their sleep routine off of school pick ups and drop offs, and you better hope that baby likes being in the car. It is wearing the baby while making dinner and refereeing an argument over toys. It means always looking for a coffee drive through because there is no way you're going to get all your kids out of the car for a cup of coffee. It is stopping your toddler from trying to jump to the couch from a stool on top of a coffee table, while on the phone with your insurance company...as you nurse the baby. It is being parked in the Starbuck’s parking lot and using the free wifi to do work because all three of your kids fell asleep on the ride home. It is putting on one of only three shirts that fits your post-baby body and immediately having the baby throw up on you. It is locking yourself in a room so you can make a 3 minute phone call while you can hear the house crashing down outside that door. It is a fridge stocked with all the wine. It is getting three little people dressed, fed, cleaned and ready for their day in under an hour with as few tears as possible. It is hearing ‘You sure do have your hands full!’ every single time you leave the house. It is being asked how you can afford to send your kids to college. It is a mountain of laundry, seriously, a Mount Everest of dirty socks. It is my husband and I, using one of our two annual date nights, to sneak past our babysitter and kids and watch Stranger Things cuddled up where the kids can’t find us. It is having your heart torn in three directions every day. It is typing this while the baby sleeps, the toddler plays loudly and the big kiddo bursts in every other minute to ask a question I just said no to. It is ALL of your time. It is the never-ending kind of crazy that is somehow the most overwhelming and most rewarding all at once.

It is hard. But damn is it worth it.
Having three children is the best gift this life could have given me. When I was pregnant

with Everett, my second babe, I was so worried I wouldn’t have enough love in my heart for two. How could I possibly love anyone as much as Daniel, my firstborn. I felt so guilty. So unbelievably guilty and scared. Guilty for making Daniel share his family, his toys, his dogs, his room. His everything. And when we brought home our Everett, I realized how infinite and unconditional love can be. One look at him and our love multiplied. Adding a second baby made our hearts grow in ways we didn’t know possible, Daniel most of all. I’ve never seen two humans love each other the way those kids did before Hot Wheels were involved. Daniel was the most gentle, sweetest older brother. He helped get diapers and clothes. He was patient and loving. He would sit for hours and play peek-a-boo with the baby. And Everett still has never laughed for anyone the way he laughed at Daniel. And although they argue over the most inconsequential crap right now, that strong foundation is already there. When they are older, they will have each other and that unbreakable bond. Always. And just when we remembered what a full night of sleep was, we added our little Miss Meadow Mae. We all turned to mush. The mushiest of mush. She was born the day before Halloween with the fullest head of hair and the sweetest smile. The boys, excited to meet their new sibling and dressed in their Halloween best, walked into that room and turned into puddles. They cooed and sang and whispered that they loved her. In their Batman costumes. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen in this life and one of my most favorite memories. This little girl has completed our family. She has healed me from so much of my childhood. She is the perfect amount of sweet and sleepy. I have never had a happier heart than the day I watched all three of my children meet. The love that those three will have for each other will far surpass anything I can ever give them in this life or the next. So yes, having three kids is crazy but there is not one thing in this world I love more than my chaotic life with my little humans.

It is pure love and pure chaos.

Navigating The Murky Waters

Originally published on Documentary Family Photographers website.

http://www.documentaryfamilyphotographers.com/navigating-murky-waters-thoughts-parenthood-kelsey-smith/#more-11971

 

Navigating these murky waters is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes. Sometimes, I am the captain my kids need. The house is clean. Like actually clean. My kids are happy. They are full of laughter and love. The weekly menu is planned, the weekly calendar is filled out. Clothes are washed. We have time to play. Like three days in a row at the park play. Until the sun sets play. I am happy and able to steer our ship.

Other days. The seas are rough. Other days. I can't keep on top of it. Other days. I fail. There is a mountain of laundry either dirty or clean but it's been so long that I'm not sure. The boys’ room looks like a tornado hit. I can see the dog hair blow across the living room like tumbleweeds in the desert. We don't have park time. The kids are arguing over every single toy and who gets to sit where. I am behind on work. We are exhausted. It is overwhelming and loud, and I am solely responsible for sinking our ship. These are the days I apologize for.

The patience I didn't have. The short manner in which I told them to grab their ish for school. These are not the days I want them to remember. This is not the light I wanted them to see me in. But I can't shape their memories to my favor. I say I'm sorry and that I'll try harder. They instantaneously forgive me. Our ship rises together. I let them know I love them, I'm just not so good at keeping us afloat all of the time.

 

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My Little Girl

My little girl. This ever-so-sweet little girl.

She shares our bed in the early morning hours. She nurses, cuddles, grabs onto my finger, and makes the tiniest little mouse squeaks as she drifts in and out of sleep. Her grip fades as she smiles softly and drifts back to her dreams. I run my fingers through her hair because she’s the only 4 month-old I know that has bed head. She wakes and smiles at me. She nods off. She looks outside through the blinds, she has loved to do that since we brought her home. The white noise and the warm bed make it hard to get up. She drifts back to sleep. It is quiet and perfect in our bubble. This tiring bubble. She wakes. She giggles. Her brothers burst in. They climb into bed. They coo at our little girl. Tell her they love her. Everett squeezes her cheeks, hard. She laughs and giggles at him. Daniel kisses her forehead.

Our little girl. Our sweet, sweet little girl.

 

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Tiny, Little Clothes

My husband says to let them go.

I know he's right but I can't. I fold these tiny little clothes. I fold them for the millionth and one time. It is mindless and numbing and boring to fold. Until it's the last time. Until we've both agreed that our last baby was our very last baby. I have tears welling up saying those words. Five years and some odd months ago I had my first son. Today, I blinked and my family was complete. There will be no more pregnancies. No more uncomfortable sleeps. No more belly rubs, belly kicks or belly hiccups.

From now on, they just grow. There is no new life on the horizon. From here forward, it's a matter of nurturing the babes that make our family complete. But I can't let go. I hold the tiny clothes to my chest. I feel the fabric between my fingers. I remember just what my kid looked like as he was wearing this little hat. These tiny pants. That small shirt. I remember how cute and smiley he was. I remember exactly what pictures we took in it. And then I packed it away for his brother. And then I packed it away for his next sibling. And now. Now, we don't need these tiny clothes but I'm having a really hard time letting them go.

With them go the hopes of expanding our family. With them go the memories. With them go the tiny rips and tears from their falling first steps. They are taking a piece of me with them too.

Our family is complete. I keep saying it over and over and hoping the next time it doesn't sting to say. We live in a tiny home with five people and two big dogs. I completely understand my husband’s rationale that we need to find either a massive amount of cash or a house twice the size of ours. It's logical and reasonable and the best thing for our family. But it doesn't take the hurt away. When I think that our family will never meet another member, never bring a new baby home, never experience another personality to call our own. It hurts. It's logical but it hurts.

These teeny tiny little clothes. How much love and life they hold.

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