Got this email from a past student last week and couldn't help feeling like a proud mama who wanted to share:
Karen, I am registered to audit your class coming up in March. I wanted to take a minute and show you where I came from and where you brought me since your class last March. "Thank you" just doesn't seem like enough. Love, Juliana Underwood"
Where Juliana came from as a photographer...
And where she is now...
"Congratulations" doesn't seem like enough either Juliana - I'm in awe and can't thank you enough for sharing these with me!
I won't be around here this week (We're heading out on Spring Break with the kids.) but will be back the following week with lots of photos.
Will try to post a few shots on Instagram while we're traveling, (I joined, but haven't yet figured out how to take a decent iPhone photo.) but there's a good chance we won't have cell coverage since Josh Downs likes to take us to what feels like the most remote places on earth. (My username on Instagram is snapshotsofagoodlife)
And if you'd like to take the next Photographers' Workshop, it's kicking off on Monday, March 31st.
Regular Seats are full, but I'm still taking Auditors. (Auditors can ask questions, post comments, upload photos, complete assignments, read my evaluations and have access to everything Regular Students have access to. The ONLY difference between Regular Students and Auditing Students is that I do not provide evaluations for Auditors. That said, if you decide you want your images evaluated during or after the workshop, you can always schedule a telephone/Skype consult with me.)
I met her for the first time at a pizza parlor on her third birthday. (This photo was taken on a trip to the Portland Zoo a few months later, which was the first time I ever photographed her.)
That means I never got to hold her as a baby.
I didn't get to see her first smile, I didn't get to hear her first words, and I didn't get to see her first steps.
But I've been here for nine years now and that means I've got to be there for a lot of other 'firsts' like her first time riding a bike without training wheels, her first day of kindergarten, her first missing tooth, and her first crush.
Today, she's turning 12.
And just a couple of days ago, Josh Downs and I picked out a new birthday bike for her. We decided to get something she could grow into and use throughout her teens, and talked about it being the last bike we'd end up buying for her.
And last night she called me (She was at her mom's house.) just so I could hear what she sounded like as an 11 year old for the last time.
And I know there are still plenty more 'firsts' to come, but I guess there's just something about birthdays that heightens my emotions to all of the 'lasts.'
1. We couldn't find Courtney's helmet, so Josh let her wear his.
2. Its an 8-mile round trip on our bikes. (It just took five hours because we stopped for photos, stopped to pump up Courtney's five times, stopped for pizza, stopped to throw rocks in the pond, stopped to try to catch geese, etc.)
3. Right now I'm using this Joby camera strap and when I wasn't using my camera, I just slung it around to my back.
I woke up tired yesterday. (Perhaps it was the four hours of sleep I got?)
I made the usual rounds of waking up kids in the same order I always do. Annie first because her bedroom is closest to the stairway. Cole next because his room is next on my route. And Courtney last because her bedroom is at the end of the hallway (plus she's usually the only kid that wants a hug before she even gets out of bed, so its a nice way to end my rounds.)
I got breakfast ready, but couldn't muster up anything fancier than peanut butter toast.
I packed their lunches, but couldn't come up with anything more interesting than apples, cashews (for Annie), pistachios (for Cole and Courtney) and peanut butter sandwiches.
And then I filled my orange polka dot kettle with water and put it on the stove to make myself some 'coffee' since I kicked my Starbucks habit a few months back and replaced it with something healthier:
- 2 Tablespoons canned coconut milk (This stuff is the creamiest - I just keep it in a Mason jar in the fridge.)
- A few drops of Dark Chocolate liquid Stevia (It used to take a lot to make it sweet enough, but now that my taste buds can't remember what a Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha tastes like, I don't use nearly as much.)
And then I stood drinking my 'coffee,' staring blankly across the kitchen as my kids ate breakfast.
When they bickered, I was too tired to intervene, and decided they'd have to figure it out on their own.
When I noticed their hair was a mess, I was too tired to grab a brush and decided there was nothing wrong with sending them all to school with bed head.
When they didn't want to eat all of their breakfast, I was too tired to insist on one more bite so they wouldn't get hungry before lunch.
When I heard their electric toothbrushes turned on for no more than 10 seconds, I was too tired to care if all of their teeth rotted out of their heads.
When they weren't getting ready on time, I was too tired to care if they were tardy.
Had Josh Downs been getting the kids ready for school, this would not have been cause for concern on behalf of my children (because that pretty much sums up his approach to parenting) however, since my approach to parenting is much more hands-on (aka uptight) it was cause for great alarm in my children, who one by one, took turns trying to brighten my morning.
First, Courtney Lee hugged me before quickly reaching her arms around to squeeze my backside (I know it sounds strange, but everyone in this household with the exception of Cole regularly grabs my derriere.) and started singing, "Booty, booty, booty everywhere, booty, booty, booty everywhere." Please don't ask how my soon to be 12-year old knows that song.
And then Cole walked over, rubbed my shoulders for a few seconds and kissed me on the forehead. (I'm a total sucker for kisses on the forehead.)
And then Yans came up and started talking in her best pet-owner-offering-their-dog-a treat voice, saying, "Who luuuuuuuuvs their mommy? Whooooooo luvs their mommy? I do, I do, I luuuuuv my mommy, oh yes I do, oh yes I do!"
I think amongst the muddy shoes that never made it to the shoe bin, the toothpaste smeared all over the bathroom sink, the dirty socks that were left on the kitchen table, the endless amount of thoughtfully-packed lunches that weren't even eaten, the Rainbow Loom rubber bands dropped on the floor in every single room of the house, and the stacks of personal belongings set on the staircase that they walk right past for days without picking up, that I generally feel unappreciated, unvalued, and unknown as a mom.
But even if I am unappreciated and unvalued (Welcome to motherhood!) I realized yesterday through their individual responses that I am not unknown by my children.
In fact, they know me quite well.
Well enough to notice when I'm not myself.
Well enough to know what I value in relationships. (Thoughtfulness and humor being high on my list.)
And well enough to know what I needed. (Bun pinching, forehead kissing, and a good laugh.)
And to feel known feels good.
They might not ever be willing to give me a decent group shot, but at least they know me...