52 Weeks Project | Week 30 | Merry Christmas

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🎄Merry Christmas ya filthy animals🎄

I can't believe we are here. Christmas time. And another year getting wrapped up and stacked up on the shelf! 

Christmas has changed so much for me than what it used to be. I used to get SO HYPE about Christmas. So excited to get all the presents. To share that excitement with my family. And spend my days off school doing as much as possible. 

Now? I always give myself about a week off around Christmas time. To recoop from the busy year. And honestly, do as little as possible. To recharge. Relax. And the best gift of all for me really is time with friends and family. Because with me being so busy through the rest of the year, a social life usually takes the back burner. 

But, I'm about to get SUPER real with you guys! Get your tissues ready...

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Christmas is also different for me now because I'm a mommy. A mommy to a toddler who still doesn't really understand what Christmas is yet. 

So, feeling the magic of the holidays these past couple years hasn't really been a thing for me. Because despite what is happening in the outside world, Leo still needs what he needs regardless if I'm sick, it's my birthday, or if it's Christmas and all I want to do is lay on the couch, eating cookies, watching the Griswalds electricute their family's cat and listening to John McClain shout "YIPPIE-KI-YAY" across our speakers. 

Leo's routine dominates my life right now. With his diaper changes almost scheduled. Meals at 8:30, 11:30, and 4:30. A nap between 12:30-3. And a strict bedtime at 7:30 also entails a bedtime routine to help get him there. A part of me HATES the routine. But because it makes Leo a more happy Leo, we stick to it as much as possible. Because a happy Leo is a happy mommy. And a happy mommy is a happy family. 

But, I'm gonna get even more super real with you. 
 

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I found a video about a month ago, scrolling along my Facebook feed, and it stopped me in my tracks. (Ok, I'll admit it... CRYING 😭)

WATCH IT HERE

It reminded me that everything I do with Leo will someday be a memory. And there will always be a last time for everything. 

A last time that I'll wipe a dirty face. A last time I'll clean the floor after he's been painting a masterpiece in his mashed potatoes. A last time I'll give him a bath singing songs about counting and telling the cat "nun-night" in his book. A last time I'll be able to hold him in my arms (and him actually fit on my lap he's growing so big!). And a last time I'll share a Christmas Eve with him plucking all the ornaments off the tree while running around like a madman across the downstairs, giggling the entire way.

(Ok, Mom and Dad, I understand now 😭😭)

All of these little things that happen amongst the routine that are just a little bit different than the day before creates an equation that adds up to such different results every few weeks. That every few weeks, Leo is just a little bit different. And then, looking back even a few months, he's such a different baby. That he's more of a boy now and I almost have to double take how much has changed and realize that there are so many things I have already had my "last time" with. And how many I'll have in my future. 

But then it got me thinking about how this isn't just with motherhood, it's with everything. 

Life is so precious. And it moves quicker and quicker the older you get. Even at the age of 28, it's all starting to blur together the way it all moves now. Weeks feel like days. And months feel like weeks. Years will soon feel like a couple months and when that happens, I'll be fighting to try and make it all slow down. 

But I won't be able to. 

If motherhood has taught me anything so far, it's the immeasurable importance of being present in the moment. To live it true to it's depths and swim in all it's wonder when it's there. Because it comes and goes like waves of seas that are constantly changing. But that's what's beautiful too. The change. We can constantly experience new things amongst the chaos disguised as routine. And within this routine, there are beautiful things happening if we take the time to look at it all. To appreciate that our children are only little once and when it's gone, it's gone. 

It also reminded me of how important my job as a photographer actually is. How being a natural-born documentarian is something I TRULY and WHOLEHEARTEDLY embrace. That I always have. And it's why I've fallen so hard for photography since the age of 16!! Our memories are just blips of time. They make up our stories and create who we are. Being able to photograph not only my own memories, but other people's too, is a bigger blessing than I can even express! And having their trust to capture such huge milestones, to tell their stories, it's just something I'll NEVER take for granted!! 

So, THANK YOU TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!! 

I went ahead and put together something super special to showcase my own memories a bit into what has morphed into a Christmas tradition. 

In 2015, I wanted to take a cute maternity picture since I was pregnant at Christmas time. I was 5 months pregnant. in 2016, Leo was only 8 months old and barely even army crawling. He was a big boy even then - wearing 18-24 months clothes, but still small enough to cradle in my arms. And this year? My little baby has already grown into 5T clothes at just a year and a half old (20 months). He's full of such life, energy, and radiants so much happiness into this world. He's fiercely independent, but still loves to snuggle with his mommy SO much. And although he may be a larger-than-average 20 month old, he's still so little. And it's a beautiful thing to witness. 

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I hope to carry on this tradition for as long as he will let me. Because this Christmas, and every single one I'll experience in my lifetime, will be special. Not because of the food we'll eat. Or the places we might go. Or the things we'll get. But because of the people in it. The ones I can spend it in person, and the ones I can't. They all matter. And they will be what always gets my attention this time of year. 

So, Merry Christmas to you all. 

(And YIPPIE-KI-YAY motherssssssss!!)

PS: This song was a song I used to sing to Leo when he was a newborn. There were only a couple songs that calmed him down and this song was one of them. I will always think of holding him in the hospital, desperate for sleep, and soothing him with hums of this tune.

I love you Leo. More than you'll ever know.