31 May 2010

Justin Hackworth

I blogged very briefly about the session with Justin Hackworth here, and he posted photos from the session here.

Justin Hackworth. Where do I begin? Perhaps the beginning; I hear that's a very good place to start.

A long, long time ago I went to Utah, eight weeks if we're being technical. I didn't want to fly with Jonas by myself, nor did I want to fly at all (on standby, especially) being 32 weeks large in the middle region.

But I wanted to take photos with my mother. Our exclusive mother-daughter experiences are few and far between; our photos even more scarce. So when all of the elements connected and somehow I was chosen to participate in the 30 Strangers in 30 Days project, I knew there was a reason. I needed that driving force to get me boarding a plane with my toddler so I could have a meaningful afternoon with my mom.

I have been photographed a few times, all very different experiences so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Some photographers portray me just as I saw myself in middle school--awkward, a little flabby, and unimportant.

Some made me want to run a marathon in order to get away from their bossiness.

Some made me do things that I wasn't that comfortable doing (not bad things; just awkward things, like move my chin in an oh-so-dramatic fashion)

Some told silly jokes that made me groan internally and feel sorry for his wife.

And some were okay.

I must be hanging out with the wrong photographers. (But in all fairness, I'm probably not the easiest person to photograph since I am naturally so un-touchy and standoffish.)

But then there's Justin Hackworth.

He's an artsy man. And artsy people, I usually don't get. Because unfortunately for me, I'm not artsy. I can analyze the heck out of data, but when it comes to picking out window treatments, you may as well be asking me to explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity (oh wait, that's something I could do; I guess it would be more like asking me if your blouse matched your shoes--that, I couldn't answer, not even a little bit).

Justin has a way of making you feel comfortable and respected and beautiful and alive all at once. Even though I just walked off an airplane and still smelled like exhaust, fatigue, and complimentary pretzels, he had me convinced that I was the most vibrant, radiant woman in the world.

To start the session, he asked us about ourselves. As I spoke, I could see him gathering more about me from my body language and eyes than from my words. I know he does it because I do it; I felt he was peering into my soul.

This is where my naturally guarded self would put up red flags and change the topic. I choose what you know about me; you haven't earned the privilege to ask personal questions and expect honest answers. I only share that with people who are unassuming and genuinely interested. But I kept talking because that's what he is--safe, unassuming, genuine--qualities that are even better than his photography. And while I knew he was going to plaster photos on his blog, on Facebook, and in an art exhibit, I also knew somehow my private feelings would be portrayed yet protected.

As he was taking photographs, he asked me to tell a joke; I only had one in my arsenal.

Jennifer: Knock, knock.
Justin: Who's there?
Jennifer: Interrupting cow.
Justin: Oh I know this one (and then he laughed).

So he interrupted my interrupting cow joke. Which was pretty great. And he even laughed at the joke as if it were the best joke he ever almost heard me tell. I got it off of a candy wrapper at the airport which is not typically renowned for their sophisticated humor. And yet he laughed so heartily that I want to tell it again and again (and perhaps buy Laffy Taffy in bulk).

He then said the biggest challenge of doing the project was to take photos of the same topic (mothers and daughters), but make each one unique. I said it was a good thing I was there on day 5, to which he responded that I underestimate him.

That was my other joke. It was uninvited and he still took it in stride.

At the end of the session, he asked me to sing a song for him. Those of you who know me from my open mic days might laugh at how presumptuous this was. Me? Sing? For a stranger? Ha, fat chance. And somehow, he made me want to sing. To make a woman great with child feel beautiful is a skill in and of itself. To make her want to take photographs and do it all day is nothing short of a miracle. To make a person desire to share talents that make her uncomfortable is a gift from God.

I imagine Justin is doing the 30 Strangers project again next year as well. Pity that I'm no longer a stranger, so I would be ineligible. Maybe I can convince him to do a 30 People I Already Met Who Just Happen to Adore Me photo shoot. What do you say, Justin? I would come on the first day, even if I weren't picked.

(Is that flattering or creepy?)

And some of his work.

To view all of 2010's 30 Strangers, click HERE.

29 May 2010

Tutorial: Air Travel with Toddlers

If you have to travel without your spouse, just don't do it with a toddler.

But if you have to travel with a toddler, just don't do it with a restless one.

But if you have to travel with a restless toddler, just don't do it when you are 33 weeks pregnant and still afflicted with morning sickness.

But if you have to travel with a restless toddler while you are 33 weeks pregnant and still afflicted with morning sickness, pray and then do the following:

DO have delicious eats in a new container. It may cost you $5 at the airport, but it's worth it.

DO have an empty window seat next to you, preferably at the back of the plane where your child is not distracted by everything going on behind him. You may even have to explore the tiny airplane lavatory 3-13 times, so it's easier when you are close and know if someone is in it.

DO borrow toys from a friend with strings attached to all the pieces

use velcro.

DO bring new books. Standby favorites are not enough to keep a rambunctious toddler occupied when there is so much other fun stuff to see.

DO employ the use of stickers. They may end up on the paper, window, and your shirt.

DO thank any strangers willing to smile for your child as they pass by.

DO bring small candies to sort and place into small spaces, such as the tiny crevice between the window and window shade.

DO bring toys that roll, but are big enough to pick up easily.

DO bring new treats. Old treats will not do the trick when your surroundings are so novel. Also, be prepared to be eat them yourself because feeding Mommy is even more fun than feeding self.

DO NOT underestimate the power of prayer. Even if your child has never ever ever ever ever fallen asleep in public, there is still a chance. He passed out right when the plane landed. I set him down, grabbed my backpack and diaper bag, picked him up again, walked through the airport, grabbed my suitcase off the baggage claim, tied my diaper bag and enormous toddler car seat to the suitcase, and walked outside to meet my ride ALL while he peacefully (and very heavily) slept in my arms and on top of my huge prego belly.

But again, only do this if you have to.

I can't make all his choices

* Another long-lost post from last summer's draft cemetery. I should probably check more often to ensure I post what I write.

As a mother, I want to make every single choice for Jonas. I want what is best for him and rather insistently, I believe I know what's best.

More quickly and more often than I would like to admit, Jonas shows me that he does indeed have agency. Naturally, he is a strong-willed child. He chooses what food he wants; what activities he wants to do; what parent he wants comfort from. And he doesn't do it quietly or passively.

Right now, it's no big deal. We hear a lot of screaming when he doesn't get what he wants, but he's just a babe. Some day however, the terrifying years when he chooses his friends will arrive. Even at this young age, he is already showing preference.

Some of his friends are because they are family.

Some of his friends are because Mommy chose them for him.

And then there's Merrick. I would happily have chosen this child as Jonas' friend. However, my liking of this little boy had nothing to do with Jonas' choosing him as a buddy. They love to play together. They follow one another around. They share inside jokes.

It is a reminder to me that eventually I will need to relinquish all control. Gradually of course, but it will be a release nonetheless. Let's just hope we teach him what real friends look like so his choices are as good later as they are now.

28 May 2010

You should see the other guy

No, our kid wasn't in a boxing match.

He was just learning to make marionberry jam with Taylor!

Thanks Heather and Taylor for teaching us how to make a new household favorite!

Jet Set Jonas

* I will be putting up old posts for a while so my family can see the little man and then will eventually back-date them to their proper place. Expect picture-heavy and absent of anecdotes. Thanks for your patience *

{September 29}

27 May 2010

CrossFit Games: Event 3

The final event: Group relay

2 rounds if they could beat their first round time. 3 rounds if they didn't.

Jugs (filled with water): run one down, run second one down, run both back
Kettlebell Swings (30 lb or 40 lb)
Run (200 m)
Burpees (5)
Rows (lbs)


The competitors. They're so tough.