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Family

take off

while another intern season winds down, and a new round of applications ramps up, there are changes upon changes happening at LeahAndMark. exciting, necessary ones. ones that you just may want to be a part of. new plans, new faces, and things moving in a million directions. always moving. and part of that change is me.

in my do SOMEthing post last month, I wrote: “get up off your ass. get going. do SOMEthing. I won’t promise that it won’t be mortifying or embarrassing or painful, whether physically or emotionally. you may fail. or cry. or throw up. or be rejected or laughed at. I’m not saying that any or all of those things won’t happen. I’m only saying it just might be worth every bit of it.” and wouldn’t you know it, those damn words have been pecking at me ever since.

and so, under the heading of Practicing What I Preach… I’m off to DO. to still shoot and blog and learn and grow and share, just over at elaineoyzonmast.com. where I can fully indulge all my narcissistic tendencies with abandon.

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but before I go, let me tell you about the wonder that is the internship. because now is the time to start writing your application answers. and because it’s important to know, because then maybe you’ll see just how hard it is to leave the safety net that is Leah. and Mark. and Baby RoX, and Joy and +Krisandra and +Luiza. each internship season is this beautiful coming together of people with disparate backgrounds, and varying levels of knowledge and experience and passion. all of them with the goal of learning more. doing more. becoming more.

I’m not going  to blow smoke up your ass. it’s difficult. it’s exhausting. filled with potentially clashing personalities, and seemingly impossible demands and schedules. (and then there’s mark’s tendency to give the largest, heaviest gear to the teeny tiniest intern.) if it was easy, everyone would get into the internship, and you wouldn’t be challenged, and it wouldn’t mean a damn thing. but the stuff that makes it worth it are the amazing friendships and incredible opportunities and settings and experiences, so very many incredible people as resources, and the testing of your limits and convictions to find out what you’re made of.

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from the Season SeVeN internship, Krista and I became LeahAndMark Pluses. which is really just another name for Uber-Internship (or Internship 2.0). more learning, more work, more awesomeness. mentoring the new interns, building our portfolios, and being given ample room to figure out a lot of things for ourselves.

out of our season alone, at least 4 of us (Edwin, Eric, Krista and I) springboarded from the internship into pursuing photography as a profession. and that was just one season out of the ten so far. there were also alumni interns Jo and Raven and Gabriel and Debra and Whitney. and still others. just think of the exponential possibilities of artistic awesomeness they’re all putting out into the world.

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and regardless of what the internship has yielded for all of us, personally and professionally, we’ve each of us taken something away from it. and then made it our own.  that’s an amazing gift to have been given. to have been helped along our individual paths toward becoming…well, whatever it is we are to become.

everyone leaves the nest. some take a flying leap, others need to be gently poked and prodded, and still others need to be tossed, flung and/or have their fingers pried from the edge to begin their flight. and yet, we all go.

so now it’s my turn. to unpry my fingers. and fly.

we are

I think I’ve stalled long enough into january to not feel obligated to write about the new year and fresh starts and rah! rah! rah! 2013! I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions. it’s just another day, really. but…there is something about starting or finishing a project or significant event on a clear, clean point. I’m anal enough to appreciate that. because I’m the kind of person who is bothered by things like widowed words, and mathematical remainders and orphaned socks. I appreciate things like the symmetry of a person dying on their own birthday, or twins marrying sibling twins. (wow, this post got weird, fast.)

so instead of a drawn out telling of what 2012 was like (craptastic, with sparks of life-alteringly amazing), and what my hopes and dreams and plans are for 2013 (winning the lottery, and getting a pony), I’ll share with you using my own measuring stick. not of time and calendar, but of family. because my days are gauged by their health and happiness and homework. their extracurricular events and travel and behavior reports. their emotional drama, and independence versus mother-clinging. the juggling of schedule and mom-taxi-ing. their packed lunches and never-enough-snacktimes and dinner requests. this is the stuff I capture and keep, to post on facebook or tuck away in memory boxes.

so right now, no showcasing of weddings or realty or events or models or food. instead, family. this family:

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will

mags

cait

ella

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because this is how I was brought up. family. family family family. sometimes the first to attack, but always the last line of defense. built-in playmates. people who are related friends and everyday witnesses. understanders of jokes and references and house-language that other people find puzzling. this is what I want my children to understand and to feel and to treasure. being together, and the everyday-ness of it all.

Wednesday by Leah: Night Weaning While Co-Sleeping

For the past several months, Jonah has been nursing at night for comfort rather than to eat. While I’m always willing to comfort my child (duh!), I’m definitely ready to comfort with cuddles instead of nursing all night. He’s started nursing way more frequently than he did when he was younger – he really just wants to use me as a pacifier all night, and I’m sorta over it. I’m also dropping weight like crazy, and it’s directly a result of breastfeeding. I’m gonna disappear if my son keeps nursing so much! So we have begun the weaning process around here.

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We also co-sleep, which makes night weaning extra tricky… the snack bar-pacifier combo is right there, Jonah doesn’t even have to get out of bed, and who wouldn’t take advantage of that? So Mark and I discussed how to approach this. We could transition Jonah to his own room to expedite the process. He already naps there. But we didn’t like that option. We really love co-sleeping, most of the time, and we are just not ready to stop…plus Jonah’s room is alllll the way upstairs and that’s too far away for our liking. So the other, more palatable option was for Mark to comfort Jonah when he woke up at night, and for me to sleep in the other room for a few nights so Jonah got used to falling back asleep without nursing and without being too tempted. We actually briefly tried the whole night weaning with me in the bedroom, and that just made Jonah ANGRY. He knew what he wanted was right there and he couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t let him have at it. The boobs, they are too hard to resist!

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Night weaning with me out of the room was definitely the best option. And it’s actually been much easier than I thought it would. Sunday marked 4 nights of weaning, and I was back in bed with my boys. Now *I* can comfort Jonah at night with cuddles and he doesn’t expect to nurse. I put Jonah to bed last night around 7:30 and he woke up 3 hours later and I was able to get him back to sleep without any fuss OR any nursing. He started to wake up again at 3 am but he rolled over and went back to sleep, snuggled against daddy, and didn’t try to claw my shirt off me or anything of the sort. This is huge progress, y’all!

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He still nurses around 4 times a day, and I’m not ready to cut those out yet, but I’ll gradually drop a session at a time over the year. There are aspects of breastfeeding I love, like always having a free, nutritious snack on hand, and there are aspects I don’t love, like leaking – still! – and milk stains and Jonah pulling my shirt down whenever he wants to nurse. I’m so thankful we have been able to breastfeed but I’m definitely ready for Jonah to start weaning. I knew nighttime would be the toughest, and I’m glad it’s going smoothly so far. The first 2 nights were the roughest, with Jonah waking up about every hour and needing rocking and singing to fall back asleep, but 2 sleepless nights are definitely worth it to me and Mark in order to have many many nights of peaceful sleep. This process has actually strengthened the bond between Mark and Jonah, too. Jonah loves cuddling up to Daddy at night now, not just Mommy. And Mommy gets lovely, uninterrupted sleep. It’s fantastic.

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And can I just say how much I love watching my boys sleep all snuggled up together? It’s the bestest.