Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumnal Bliss

I LOVE Fall. In my world, the sky would be a periwinkle blue with fluffy cumulous clouds...the weather a perpetual crisp 65-70 degrees with a slight breeze, the grass would have the beginning of leaves on the ground and it would always be Autumn. I love everything about the season....except for the fact that it ends way too quickly and gives way to bitter cold. The crunchy leaves, the colors... I love the deep reds and oranges, the yellows, browns, purples, and the last green holdouts. I don't mind the occasional dark and dreary day, the one where napping seems like the only logical choice along with hunkering down inside for movies, puzzles, and imaginary play. I love bringing out the sweaters, feeling engulfed in an oversized hooded sweatshirt, and sporting my tall black boots for the first time in months.

I love the smells of Autumn...the pumpkin spices and apple cider donuts...the inside air when the first pot of soup is boiling on the stove...candles being lit...the heat turned on for the first time.  I even like the damp smell that a rainy Autumn day brings.  I love football on Sundays and jumping in the leaves, parent nights, and open houses.  I love the abundance of squirrels in the neighborhood, the apple orchards, pumpkin farms, and strolls in the forest preserves.  I love the newness in our lives as school and activities resume amidst the background of the end of the trees' yearly cycle.

But the sights...the sights are my favorite. The shadows the light plays as the sun begins to set earlier and earlier...the drops of rain on the leaves...the magenta and gold smattered with deep greens and browns. The colors on those overcast days just pop and I see things in the shadows I normally wouldn't. Just walking around my property with my camera intentionally paying attention to the details makes me so much more aware of the awesomeness of the season. I love it. Everything about it...until that first blustery my perfect world, it would always be autumn.

Solemn flowers...They look how I feel some days!

Cole couldn't wait to get outside to play. 5 days in a row of rain is too many!

The wind didn't have a chance to remove these leaves from the sidewalk.

5 days in a row of rain left a lot of leaves scattered on the sidewalks.

We made it outside to play in the hour window of no rain. The drops of the leaves were beautiful.

The last hold out...

A lot of the trees in our neighborhood have been attacked by disease. This tree in our front yard had limbs chopped off. I found this single leaf growing from the cut limb.

I plan on venturing out and taking more Autumn photos in the next few weeks as the colors are at their peek.  These pictures were all taken in my yard within the last week.  I made it a point not to touch or manipulate anything I naturally discovered and the photos are minimally edited.  I move myself to get different views without touching a single leaf or flower. I can't wait for the rain to stop so I can get out and capture more of the season.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Regularly Scheduled Lives

School has been in session now for almost a month and I feel like we are finally hitting our stride. We have our routines down...wake up by 7:30, bus by 8:30, lots of Cole and me time, bus again at 3:30, then homework, a flurry of after school activities, dinner, reading, snuggling time, and off to bed. Expectations have been set, teachers have been met, the weather is cooling off, and downtime now needs to be scheduled in.  I like the balance this gives to our summers. Our summer, aside from a regularly planned nap time, is basically schedule-free. It includes impromptu play dates and endless hours at the pool. Vacations and random stops for ice cream.  I relish these days, but am also glad they aren't the norm for the day in and day out of life. We flourish with routine of some sort and our school days provide just that.  Much like me, the girls absolutely love going to school. Their days are relatively drama-free, they come home happy most days and are excited to go back the next morning. There isn't much more that I could ask for. I know the middle school days are not far off in the future and drama will become the new norm, so I will take each day slowly and happily give them all the hugs and kisses they want - even at the bus stop - and hold on to these days as long as I can.

So, what do Cole and I do during the seven hours the girls are in school? We spend time at home, lots of time outside, go to story time at the library, run errands, have snacks, play with friends, go out for the occasional breakfast or lunch, read the same books over and over, and genuinely just enjoy spending our days together. Having girls 4 and 6 years older than my youngest definitely put in perspective how quickly this time goes. And as much as Caillou's voice grates on my nerves and Curious George gets into trouble my 2 year old would like to emulate, and as much as I am tired of picking up scattered toys, setting up train tracks, and hearing "Me Do It!", I try to breathe deeply, remember what a short period of time this is, and embrace the enthusiasm that comes with each new thing he sees and each new skill he accomplishes. It's okay that a trip to Target takes three times as long with him as it would without him, that the chairs and floor have more crumbs on them than I would like, and his desire to open and close every door and push every "butt" makes every move seem like a three short years, he will be at the bus stop and off to school. I will remind him of the time he was 2 and wore his Buzz backpack to the bus stop every morning to see his sisters off and demand a hug and kiss from them as they board the bus. And remind him that his sisters always obliged...another moment in time that I'm sure will pass sooner than I would like.

I am also spending my time working on my photography....taking photos of my kids when the mood strikes and asking my friends for practice with their kids. I'm working on an un-posed style of photo - not fully candid, although some end up that way - but not posed like a portrait, either - and found a great location for practice. I'll be looking for more volunteers in the near future as my kids will soon be wearing the "not again, mom" and "stop shoving that camera in my face" smiles that will definitely elicit some emotion, just not the one I will be looking for.

A sure sign of fall...local farms setting up fun areas for toddlers to run around.  Of course, Cole was all about the train and tractor.

We had a few minutes before Skye had to leave for ballet class and she was in the right mood for some photos!

While Skye was at dance, Sydney and her friend, Ava, decided to learn how to skateboard.

I love how supportive they were of each other as they tried to help each other with balance issues. 

Cole's friend, Tali, was a willing model. Happy 3rd birthday!

...the best "un-posed" shot of the day

A few random pictures taken with my ipod...not the best quality but does the job of capturing them in the moment.

Yes, that's my child shirtless in the middle of Kohls. We were browsing for clothes and apparently he liked this one more than the one he was wearing.  I never saw him take off his shirt so fast.

A Target treat

This is what can happen when I turn my back on Cole for a minute. At least the sink was clean.

Cole treats Target like a park...the toy aisle was a big hit!
Trader Joe's is the perfect "Me Do It" place. We only ended up with a few unintended products.

Next week, my goal is take some candids of Cole doing what he does. Seeing as his plans change about every 2 minutes, I should have plenty of pictures from which to choose.