Our Kids Will Be All Right Because We Will Make It So

Four years ago. Just remember, time flies...

Four years ago. Just remember, time flies…

I’m trying to piece my thoughts together this evening. Bear with me.

I’ve shed so many tears in the past 24 hours. I tried to distract myself last night by working on some editing, but my heart and gut knew as the returns were coming in. I broke down several times. Sean, God bless him, just held me and let me feel everything I was feeling. I went to Lil’s room around midnight to take her to the bathroom, and I just held her sleepy body on my shoulder, listening to her peaceful breath. I went to bed, tossed and turned all night and woke up with a raging headache. I puked, but that’s likely more to blame on pregnancy than anything else.

My range of emotions today have run the gamut of defeated to sad to scared to angry to frustrated to empowered and now resilient. I am sitting here feeling stronger than yesterday, because I refuse to let a person take away my spirit. I refuse to let the reality of our country’s current state diminish the fires that have been stoked in my heart and soul.

We spoke with Lily today. We sat on the floor of her room while she played and in the simplest terms, we told her that the girl didn’t win. We told her that we are sad, but in this world, we don’t always get what we want. And we keep trying, even when we’re sad or frustrated, we do our best to be good, kind, open-hearted people moving forward. She said she wanted to be president someday, to be strong and powerful and smart, and I vow I’ll do everything I can for all of my days to encourage her to embrace her own strength and power and brains, not just as a girl but as a human being.

THE KIDS ARE ALWAYS WATCHING, LISTENING AND LEARNING

Since having Lily, I’ve come to realize that we severely underestimate the capacity our children have to love and to learn. I am by no means saying we have a wonder child (maybe we do?), but I am constantly floored at the way she thinks things through, the questions she asks, and how openly she cares for others. So how do we foster this? How do we teach our children well? By teaching and leading by example how to…

BE KIND

Encourage kindness at all times. Reach out to the person who sits or plays alone, or hangs back in the corner, or may seem a bit socially awkward. Say hello and greet people with a smile. There is always room for more kindness in the world.

HAVE EMPATHY

Look at situations from a different angle. Think and talk through reasons why someone else may be sad or upset or having a difficult time at school or work. The world is not black and white and neither are its people. Stretch your mind and heart to reach an understanding towards others.

HAVE COMPASSION

Show concern for others. Reach out a helping hand. Understand that many struggle daily with various challenges and injustices, and knowing they have support can mean a world of difference.

BE EDUCATED

Research what concerns you or interests you. Do not decide on anything at face value. Do not do your research through social media clickbait and major news networks. Check multiple sources. Ask questions. Answer questions. Encourage your children to ask questions and assure them that you will be as helpful as possible in helping them understand.

CONVERSE AMICABLY

Seek out those with different viewpoints and discuss your opposing views. Open your mind to seeing their side and why they believe what they do. Nothing is ever solved when you refuse to see what the other side is fighting for.

EMBRACE YOUR POWER

As a person in this world, you have power. Through your words, your actions, your reactions, and how you choose to conduct yourself in private and public. We all have power and with that we all have responsibility (credit: Spiderman). Power is not a dirty word. How you choose to use your power will undoubtedly affect your family, relationships, friendships, community and greater world. Please use it for good and work to build up those around you.

STAND WITH CONVICTION

If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for? Examine your beliefs. Search your soul. Decide to stand up for what you believe in and don’t hold back. The world needs your voice. Your children need your voice. The oppressed need your voice. The lonely need your voice. The scared and helpless need your voice. I have often remained quiet, trying to keep the peace and avoid conflict, and it has made me feel like I cannot use my voice, even when I feel so strongly about something.

When Sean took this picture yesterday after I voted, I had high hopes that I would be able to look back and talk to Lily about how that was the day that we made history electing the first female president, someone who worked her entire adult life trying to make a difference for women, children, the sick and many more. But that will not be the story. Rome was not built in a day, and America still has a lot of work to do. There are cracks in the foundation and in the glass ceiling. There are leaks and instability. We are far from being a perfect union, and even when a woman is elected president, there will still be more to do, new challenges, and new lessons.

My vow today is to be a better helper. To give support where it is needed. To fight for what I believe to be right and good. To lead my children by example and teach them as best I can to be kind and strong and compassionate and empathetic and not let the bumps and bruises that come along with life keep them down.

Over the past week or so, I have been reading stories from women across the country and the world of being assaulted, insulted, abused, and silenced. At some point in their lives, they were made to feel small, insignificant, unimportant or ashamed.

I’ve read stories about parents, grandparents and great-grandparents taking steps, moving across oceans, working multiple jobs and doing everything they can to give their kids a better life. That this election meant so much with the memory of those who have gone before us, with legacies of hard work, compassion and love of family.

We are allowed to grieve. This hurts. There are several stages of grief and we are feeling all of them.

But we will keep moving forward, with our heads up and hearts open.

This morning, it was rainy and gloomy. How fitting. I took Lily to the trampoline park to burn off some energy, and as we were leaving to come home, I pointed out to her that you could see the sun glowing behind the rain clouds.

“How does the sun do that, mama?”

“It keeps burning, Lil. Even when it’s raining, the sun is burning brightly. And when the rain clouds go away, the sun will still be there. It’s always shining, even when it’s hard to see.”

Keep shining. Sending peace and love to you, wherever you are.

Self-Portraits of Motherhood :: 01

There’s this photo of Tina Fey I’ve always loved. I remember seeing it and being struck by the realness, even though I didn’t fully understand the realness at the time. It’s a picture of her working at her desk, which is a mess, and her daughter playing under her desk, also in the midst of a mess. I think it was an ad, but I remember seeing that photo and was like YES! This looks like a life I could see myself living.

And 10 or so years later, I am. And I love it.

I didn’t know a year ago I’d be in this place, self-employed, actually in the middle of the life I’d hoped for for so long. But this is it. I’m here. It’s all that I want, but not without the hard stuff.

There are days I miss being around adults and having a place outside the house to work.

There are days I struggle with balancing being a badass bosslady and being a badass mom. Like, every day. I dream big about being supermom and having an overabundance of lessons and art projects and enriching things to do with Lil. And then there are days she watches PBS all day while I work.

The mess isn’t always the room I’m in, although there’s plenty of that. Sometimes the mess is in my head or my heart, yearning for the stability I used to have in knowing I’d be paid every other week, how much, and that we didn’t really have to worry.

I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, and so I’ve decided to begin a new series, for no one other than myself. But of course I’ll share it with you.

As a photographer, I’m always behind the camera. As a mom, I’m always taking pictures of Lily. I can’t wait to have #2 and seize ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHIC OPPORTUNITIES. I love photographing Sean and Lily together. Even if 90% of the photos are of them napping together. But it’s time to get in front of the camera.

We are blessed to live in an age of technology that allows me to work on a project like this. I’m blessed to be working from home and have the time to do this. I want to be in the picture. I want to show the beauty, the struggle, the love, the joy, the difficulty and craziness of motherhood and working from home and pursuing my dreams. More than that, I want my kiddos to be able to see me in their lives the way I do, in the every day, not just in a posed family picture every now and then.

I’m not sure how often I’ll post. It’ll depend on life, and it doesn’t really feel right to structure this in any way. But I’m excited to begin, and to share, and I hope it inspires you to also get in the picture.

Self-portraits-of-motherhood-shannon-sorensen

16 Weeks and Enjoying These Moments While They Last

Early on in this pregnancy, I was snuggling with Lily at bedtime, all comfy cozy in her bed and singing her bedtime songs, when it occurred to me it won’t just be us anymore once this baby arrives. I know that’s not rocket science, but it hit me hard. And it’s on my mind constantly, especially at bedtime. I’ve been spoiled with four years of having Lily all to myself, and vice versa. And soon we’re going to have to learn to share. Our adventures will be different, as will our days home, dinner, couch snuggles. I’m preparing my heart to expand with the arrival of Bean #2. But I’m holding on to every little moment I have left with just Lil. It’s been such a gift to have so much time with her.

Other things on my mind – snuggling in her twin bed will not be so easy in another couple weeks. I told her my belly will probably get too big to snuggle in her bed and she basically told me that it’s ok, we can just snuggle in my bed instead.

This kid…

This week I’m 16 weeks! I’m feeling mostly good. I’m dealing with morning sickness, but as soon as that’s done and out of the way, I feel pretty great the rest of the day.

We go on November 3 for our big ultrasound to check all the parts and make sure everything looks good (and find out the baby flavor if s/he cooperates). I’m not feeling particularly pulled towards boy or girl. Some things feel the exact same as my pregnancy with Lil, while other things are different. Lily has actually declared she wants a brother after several weeks of wanting a sister named Rapunzel, so we’ll see!

If you have two or more kids, what are some special things you did with your older kiddo before the next one arrived? How did you help prepare them to become an older sibling?

A New Chapter For Our Family

It has taken me a while to start writing this. I’ve been scared, nervous, trying not to get too excited. I should start at the beginning.

On July 7, I got a positive pregnancy test. It was a Thursday evening, Sean was watching tv, Lil was asleep, and I stood in disbelief over the bathroom counter as my eyes saw two pink lines on the test strip. The second line was faint, but it was unmistakeable. Tears ran down my cheeks because I actually couldn’t believe it. We’d been trying since February, and with a reproductive system that doesn’t like to ovulate, I thought it would take much longer.

I took the peestick out to the living room, plopped down next to Sean and handed it to him. We processed it slowly together, I cried more, and a few days later, I took 3 more tests, because sometimes you just need reassurance. Lots of pink lines and the word “PREGNANT” were impossible to deny. I called and made an appointment that week to see a new OB. They’d see me in late August around 9 weeks. I got excited. I told a couple close friends.

About a week later, I started bleeding. It was a Wednesday night and I panicked. I didn’t know what to do, or if anything could be done. In my mind, I was having a miscarriage. I told Sean and he held me and let me cry. I knew bleeding happened sometimes in pregnancy, but I was scared and sad and completely unsure of what was happening. I spoke to a nurse the next day and they sent me in for bloodwork. The day after that I went in for an ultrasound. We saw a sac and fetal pole, but nothing else. It was too early and with my odd cycles, there was no definitive information for how far along I was or should be.

I spoke with a kind doctor who explained that the glass was either half empty or half full, it was just too soon to be able to tell. So I went home, drank water, rested as best I could, and waited. I went about my day and worked and played with Lil and mentally and emotionally started to detach from the pregnancy. I was hopeful, but also realistic. I had been bleeding off and on every day for 7 days.

We went home to Massachusetts for a long weekend in early August and told our families. We were still in limbo, so it wasn’t anything cutesy or creative. We told them that no matter the outcome, we wanted them to know and needed their support. If I’ve learned one thing over the years from friends experiencing losses, it helps to have people know and be there for you instead of suffering in secret.

I went for the ultrasound Tuesday morning, August 9. Sean took Lily to soccer camp and I told him I’d text him as soon as possible. They brought me right in, squirted that sexy jelly on my belly and put the….thingy, I don’t know what it’s called, on my belly.

“See that flicker? There’s the heartbeat!”

And cue tears. It was there. This small flicker on the screen. There was hope. The glass was half full.

I texted Sean and breathed a sigh of relief. I texted a photo of our little fighter to those who knew what was going on.

We had another scan a couple weeks later and the baby waved it’s little arm at me. Nausea hit. Food aversions and strong gross smells hit.

The first trimester was not pleasant but I will take it a thousand times over because a tiny baby on a screen waved at me.

I haven’t written yet, which has left me feeling guilty. When I was pregnant with Lily, I was shiny and happy and blogging weekly and tracking everything. I’ve felt more reserved this go round. I’ve been more cautious. I’ve been scared to get excited.

I’m at 14 weeks now, and feeling more excited. I’m out of the 1st trimester, which doesn’t quite seem possible. The weeks are just flying by. We’ve started discussing names, thinking of Lily and the baby’s shared room, making plans. We told Lily a few weeks ago and she’s very excited and also kind of occupied with things that are less abstract in her life, like her dolls and Legos and going to school.

So that’s what’s going on with us. I am so thankful every day for our little baby bjorn (baby bear), and being able to share this with Lil. She’s curious and insightful and also a bit impatient. She wants the baby to come out every day, so I’ve explained a few times that it would be very, very bad if the baby came out right now and that it has to stay tucked in and grow for a while so it can come out big and healthy.

I have a lot more to write, but for now, I’m tired and need to get Lil ready for dance class. This time around is accompanied with a healthy dose of real life. I’m tired, but so, so happy.

13 weeks

13 weeks

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Making Changes and an Announcement

Oh, friends, I have a confession to make. I have not enjoyed blogging in quite a while. I didn’t want to admit it and accept it as the truth, but for a while, I have just felt stuck, like I have nothing of value or significance to say. What I have written has felt forced and for the most part out of a feeling of obligation. And I finally connected the dots to when this started.

When I attempted to make Dancing Lily Studio.

Not the Etsy shop, as we know, that egg came before this chicken. But making it a “lifestyle brand”, even typing that is making me flinch. I had high hopes and dreams and the reality is, it was too much for me. I’ve been pulling myself in a billion different directions this past year transitioning from working full time out of the home to being a full time work from home mama, growing my photography business while watching Lily grow into this amazing little kid right before my eyes.

A Life Full of Color Lifestyle Blog

When I strayed from just writing about life and musings, trying to become more structured and “produce valuable content”, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.

So I’m going back to basics. I’m keeping Dancing Lily Studio the Etsy shop, which you can get to through the Shop link up above. And this space here? I’m trying to reignite the fire and love for just writing for the sake of enjoying it and being interested in what I’m saying. Instead of fighting the urge to write about personal stuff, I’m embracing it.

And finally, this means a refresh for the blog. You may have noticed I changed the link and title, both here and on Instagram. I’m so excited about this because it feels really true to who I am, our family and our home. I saw a hashtag on Instagram a few months ago called “#mybeigelife” or something like that and it just made me puke a little in my mouth. I cannot imagine having a beige life. I look around my house and life and see color, and it brings me joy. I couldn’t imagine living a beige life and being excited about that.

A Life Full of Color is largely inspired by a song by Carbon Leaf, The War Was in Color. Give it a listen. It’s beautiful.

So, a new blog name, a new direction, also stemming from another big change in our lives, to be discussed in my next post. Here’s a big clue: When I began Dancing Lily Studio, some people asked me what I’d do when we have another kid, would I change the name to include both so they don’t feel left out?

Well, that time has come.

Shannon Sorensen ultrasound