Mama truth photography: Beauty in the everyday crazy

Mama truth photography: Beauty in the everyday crazy

The morning Portland family photographer Ashley of Weeno Photography was scheduled to come to our house for a Mama Truth Session, I nearly called it off. Eric had been out of town for days. It took me two hours to get the girls to sleep the night before. And then they woke up at 5. But I didn’t cancel. Instead, I thought to myself, “Ashley is about to get more truth than she bargained for.”

Lately, the girls have been challenging. They’re chronically tired and we have been struggling to ensure they get more rest. They fight over ridiculous things (“I want the yellow bowl.” “No mine lellow!”). Kiwi cries and throws epic tantrums that we can do nothing to soothe.

So I’m not entirely sure why I thought I wanted a Mama Truth Session, where photographer Ashley LaMattino-Perlberg comes to your house to hang out for a few hours and captures whatever happens, from making a snack to soothing a booboo.

I think it was our initial contact. “The beauty in the everyday is always there,” she said. “And yet it’s so hard to see it ourselves. That’s why these sessions are so important!” Her words resonated deep within me. And it turns out she is so right.

A Mama Truth family photography session from a Portland photographer showed me the beauty in the everyday crazy of motherhood. Ten Thousand Hour MamaA Mama Truth family photography session from a Portland photographer showed me the beauty in the everyday crazy of motherhood. Ten Thousand Hour MamaWhy mamas deserve candid photos of themselves—and not only staged family photography—to show the everyday beauty of motherhood. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I’m so grateful we did a Mama Truth photography session, which Ashley did for free for my family. The photos are beautiful, yes. Even more, though, the photographs showed me the beauty of my everyday life with my kids. And get this: Below, you can enter a giveaway for a chance to win half-off a Mama Truth Session with Weeno Photography. And anyone who mentions this blog post by the end of October will get $100 off a Mama Truth family photography session. Read on to find out more and enter!

We received a free family photography session in exchange for a blog post. As always, all opinions are my own. Read more

Peeper is 4: Fourth birthday reflections

A few days ago, both the girls woke up at 4am. Eric tried to get them back to sleep, but Peeper was having none of it. “Yesterday Mama told me I have three days until my birthday. But now I have only TWO days until I’m 4!” This girl is just a little excited for her fourth birthday.

We’ve been talking about her birthday for a while now, but only recently has it seemed concrete to her. After all, concepts of months and weeks are a little abstract for a preschooler. So the week leading up to her fourth birthday, we talked about how many days were left until she turned 4.

And now that day has come. Happy birthday, my sweet, fierce, loving, compassionate, hilarious, sassy daughter!

Happy 4th birthday to my daughter, the silliest preschooler I know. Ten THousand Hour MamaHappy 4th birthday to my preschooler! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 20 months old: 10 things I love about my toddler

Kiwi recently turned 20 months old, and I love my curious, spunky, opinionated toddler more each day.

She’s moved past her static cling stage (mostly), though she still loves Mama time. She is growing up fast—but not too fast. And I’m definitely not pushing her to speed up!

At 20 months old, Kiwi is learning something new every day and exploring the world in the way she best knows: through experience. She gets into everything, which is simultaneously infuriating and hilarious, like when she finds the pots and pans then reaches into the utensil drawer for a spatula. Instant drum set!

There are so many things I love about my toddler, but I wrote about just 10. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

My toddler at 20 months old: 10 things I love about my daughter / Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 19 months: Her own language

When Kiwi was born, she started talking—not crying—from the moment the midwife placed her on my chest. I thought her beginning moments would be a sign of another loquacious child, like her older sister Peeper, who says things like “lactobacillus acidophilus” without batting an eye.

Yet as another example proving that siblings are anything but identical, Kiwi grew into a toddler who barely spoke. She relied on grunting and pointing more than anything else. But now, as she turns 19 months old, she is communicating more—through expressive grunts, pointing, sign language and a few words—a mixture that makes up her own language.

Language and talking milestones // 19 month old toddler with her own language // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Coming to peace with my daughter’s princess phase

Ever since Christmas at her cousins’ house, Peeper has been wearing a single plastic Cinderella shoe. It’s clear and has a strand of fake pearls on the toe. She had worn it when she and her cousins showcased a Disney on Ice dance they created, and we couldn’t get it off her when we left. Welcome to the princess phase, I thought.

“Isn’t that uncomfortable?” Eric asked her.

She looked down.

“It’s not comfortable but it’s so pretty,” she replied.

Great. She’s 3 and already sacrificing comfort for a great shoe.

The princess phase can be hard on feminist moms. But I've come to accept my daughter's love of tiaras and glass slippers. Here's how. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

3 1/2 years old: Halfway between big and small

Over Christmas break, Peeper and her cousin were sitting on stools in the kitchen. “You’re so big already—don’t get any bigger!” her Aunt Meghan teased. Everyone laughed—everyone but Peeper. She burst into tears.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“I don’t want to stay small!” she wailed.

Peeper loves to be a big girl, but she also craves the security of being our baby. This push and pull between big and small colors every day. Just as she’s halfway between 3 and 4, she’s halfway between big and small.

A beautiful flower crown for my preschooler daughter. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler and my husband have a special daddy-daughter bond. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler's curiosity is wonderful to witness. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small at 3 1/2 years old, I love my daughter more each day. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Halfway to big

Peeper is at the stage where she revels in getting bigger. We persuade our picky eater to try vegetables and take a few more bites because, as she believes, vegetables make you grow. She stretches her arms as wide as they’ll go after meals, showing us just how much longer her arms got after a meal of spaghetti or peanut butter banana. And she jumps with all her might—”Look how high I can jump!”—to test just how much she’s grown in the last 15 minutes.

She also enjoys being a big sister. “Kiwi is saying a new word!” she’ll exclaim. “She’s trying to say blueberries. That’s right, b, b, b, blueberries, Kiwi!”

She also loves to teach Kiwi new skills, whether it’s blowing spit bubbles (seriously so gross), spinning, eating cereal (“You go like this”—crunch crunch) or climbing the elliptical machine. Peeper is her little sister’s biggest cheerleader, applauding her every milestone.

Whether they're dressing up or playing gymnastics, my girls are inseparable. Ten Thousand Hour MamaAs a big sister, my daughter takes good care of her little sis. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy preschooler is her little sister's biggest fan and cheerleader. Ten Thousand Hour MamaSisters in the snow

Halfway to small

Yet being big isn’t always part of Peeper’s plan.

Every so often, she becomes Baby Peeper. She’ll crawl into Kiwi’s crib or lie down on the changing pad. Once she even insisted on wearing a diaper over her undies.

“Gagagaga,” she’ll say, copying baby talk. But then she’ll do a remarkable, spot-on impersonation of her little sister. She’ll point, make Kiwi’s signature “mmmmn” sound and scrunch up her nose in the perfect imitation of her sister’s smile.

Seriously, she could take this act on the road, it’s so good.

And every so often, Peeper will become a baby again, snuggling in my lap in the rocking chair. She’ll tuck her head under my chin and pull her knees up to her chest. While she’s resting on me, I sing her favorite lullabies and marvel that this child, halfway between big and small, ever fit inside of me.

Peeper is all lanky limbs these days. I laugh when she shows us her impressive wingspan (“Look how long my arms are!”) because she takes after her dad, whose arms are so long he needs a specially fitted golf club.

She is changing into a big child. She has lost the baby fat that gave her such beautifully chubby cheeks. She may be halfway between big and small, but she’s hurtling toward big at a pace that takes my breath away.

Halfway between big and small, my preschooler is growing at an astonishing pace. Ten Thousand Hour MamaMy little girl is halfway between big and small. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Staying big and small

Unlike her joking Aunt Meghan, I don’t want to keep Peeper small. I love witnessing how she grows, develops and changes every day.

She wakes up each morning a new person. Although some things are consistent—her favorite color remains purple, she still hates washing her hands—the dawn could bring any other new development.

Tomorrow could be the day she finally lands a perfect cartwheel or

While I wake up just as excited as she does to see what the day brings, I cherish the times she turns back into Baby Peeper. Those moments, whether she’s a goof copying her sister’s baby talk or a cuddlebug who finds a cozy spot on my lap, remind me of the days when she was my everything, my all. When I was her world and she was mine. When the universe shrunk to the size of just us—a mother and a baby halfway between big and small.

No matter how big she gets, my daughter will always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaWhether she's big or small, she'll always be my baby. Ten Thousand Hour MamaHalfway between big and small, my preschooler is just where she's meant to be. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Kiwi is 18 months: 10 memories of my big little toddler

Kiwi is 18 months old—a whopping year and a half. She runs, she throws a ball, she does her darnedest to jump, she understands so much. I can hardly believe how big my littlest has become: a big little toddler.

My big little toddler - Ten Thousand Hour MamaAt 18 months, my toddler loves to go on hikes. Ten Thousand Hour MamaEat dirt? Sure! But good luck trying to get this toddler to eat real food. Ten Thousand Hour MamaThis 18 month old toddler says, "Let's go outside, Mom!" Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I recently read a few past milestone pasts about Peeper. The posts reminded me of some things I’d forgotten (that she used to call oatmeal “wee-mo,” for example). I also realized that I’ve slacked lately on keeping Kiwi’s milestone posts up to date.

This month, as Kiwi turns 18 months, I captured ten things about my big little toddler that make her uniquely her.

At 18 months, I'm capturing memories of my big little toddler. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more