Mum The Photographer

I’ve always loved photography.  Often the highlight of traveling for me was new things to take pictures of – I would just go for a big walk whenever I arrived somewhere new and take photographs.

But when bubba came along, suddenly I had the perfect photographic subject – she provided ample opportunity and inspiration, and she made any photo cute just by virtue of being cute – who doesn’t love a photo of a baby?!

Babies are cute!

In late December, I came across the wonderful Georgia from Gregarious Peach, who invited one and all via her blog to participate in a 366 project – a project she called Documenting Delight.  Basically, it involves taking a photograph every single day for a year (2012 being a leap year, that makes it a 366 project).  I decided to take the project on and have been documenting my photo a day since January 1st over at everylittlewonder.wordpress.com.

For the first half of the year, I was using my cruddy old camera.  I don’t even remember where or when I got it, and I was getting very frustrated with it.  It was terrible in anything but the brightest light, and incredibly slow and sluggish.  Daddy C saw how much I was enjoying the project and how much my camera was annoying me, so he promised to get me a good camera for my birthday in July.

My old camera. Aka: hunka junk.

Bless his heart, I don’t think he realised just what he was getting himself in for when he promised me “a good camera”! 😛  I did a lot of research and eventually decided to go with a DSLR – the latest release from Canon, the 650D.

Me and my new camera. I luffs it. LUFFS IT!!!

Well, the camera arrived three days ago and I am in absolute heaven!  I can’t believe the difference it makes – even just the clarity of the photos is amazing.  Not to mention the increased creative possibilities.  I am slowly learning about apeture,  depth of field, the exposure triangle and the rest… with a little bit of photoshop thrown in there for finishing touches.  It’s a big learning curve but I feel like I am slowly grasping it and learning to put it into practice and it’s so exciting!  It’s so exciting to see the potential for a photo and actually be able to produce something close to what your minds eye envisaged, rather than being continually frustrated.

This is a picture taken in the evening with my old camera, straight from the camera. Crap.

 

Photo taken with my new camera, at the same time of day with similar lighting conditions to the one directly above (photo straight from camera). The clarity!  The sharpness!

And yes, I know – I know it’s the biggest cliche ever – the new mum who suddenly discovers a passion for photography.  For me it has always been a latent dream, I swear.  In fact, just before I moved to the UK (where I met Daddy C), I had enrolled in a full time photography course in Wellington – but, being a little lost in life, decided to travel instead.  And besides that – babies are inspiring and there’s nothing wrong with that.  They inspire you to want to capture the precious moments you have with them, to keep forever – cos babies are babies for such a short time.  They inspire you to want to capture everything about them that you love so much.

As I explained to Daddy C – to me, photography is art for people who can’t draw (I suck at drawing!).  It’s a form of self-expression – it’s not just about capturing what IS… it’s about capturing what YOU SEE – your perspective, your vision.  Being a mumtographer to me isn’t just about taking snapshots of your kids – it’s taking the kind of photo where the viewer feels how much you love them just by looking at your photograph.

My gorgeous little monkey

Photography to me is a collaboration with light, with the camera as a tool.  I’m so lucky to have such a generous man who indulges my little passion.  Not to mention such a gorgeous wee subject.  And gosh damn, it’s just so much fun!

11 Months: Chatting

In the past couple of months, I feel bubba’s main development has been in her language.  She’s more confident in pulling herself to standing and scooting along the edge of the couch, and then crouching back down to the ground again.  But her strongest steps forward have been in her talking.

Bubba has a chat with Dad

Not that she’s “talking” in the sense of using words with meaning yet.  A silly little pet peeve of mine is when people claim their child’s “first word” when actually they are still babbling.  Sounds like “dadadad” and “mummmmm” are just babies playing with their mouths and voices for a long time.  I personally consider a “first word” to be the first word a child uses with intent – consciously knowing that making this mixture of sounds is semantically linked with a specific object, person or meaning.

So I guess, in a way, Scarlett has kind of said her first word – “ta” (for readers in the northern hemisphere, we use “ta” to mean thank you, or in the sense of “ta to Dad”, meaning “give it to Dad please”).  She now says “ta” whenever she wants something, and that something is usually food!  Whenever she sees the punnet of strawberries (or as I like to call them, Scarlett-crack), she cracks a huge smile and starts expectantly chanting “ta! ta! ta! ta!”  The other day I was cooking her some fritters and I gave her a bit to taste.  As soon as she finished it, she looked up at me and started going “ta! ta!”  So while “ta” may not be a complicated word, and she may not be strictly using it in the sense of “thank you”, she has still figured out that a certain combination of sounds has a meaning that can be used to communicate her desires… so I guess her first word is “ta!”

Strawberry!!! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta!

She also likes to babble away in her own Scarlett language.  I love to hear her chatting!  She makes sounds I’ve never heard a baby make before – she really likes to explore all the noises her mouth can make.  One of her favourites is “gud” (which sounds disconcertingly like “good”).   “Gud gud gud gud gud” never fails to make me laugh.

I like it when she sits with her books, telling her own little stories.  She is growing to really love her books.  I am a bookworm to the core and I have always derived a great deal of enjoyment from books, so I would love to be able to share that with her.  Her favourite book so far is Hairy Maclairy, a children’s book by a New Zealand author that reminds me of my own childhood.  I love it how she sits there listening, turning the pages and pointing to the pictures.

Reading a story with Dad

She has her moments, but she really is, for the most part, a happy chatty little girl.  I am incredibly blessed that most nights (touch wood!) she sleeps straight from about 8 pm to 7 am (sometime with the odd grizzle for the dummy back in, but resettling only takes a few minutes these days).  She loves daycare – hanging out with the other kiddies, getting dirty in the sandpit and eating lots of yum food.  She’s learning to give dad kisses on the cheek – well, they’re more like open mouthed slobbers, but still!

In two weeks it will be her birthday and I can’t believe it!  Life has changed so much and yet in some ways the time has flown.  I am so blessed to be mum to such a beautiful little girl.

Love my baby girl!

Cluck Cluck Cluck

I am clucky as a barnyard full of chickens at the moment.

It’s crazy, isn’t it?!  After my painful, drawn out birth experience… after how incredibly hard I found the first few months… even with how I still struggle to learn patience and to give up my alone time… even though my brain is in full knowledge of all of that….

I want another one.

Two!  Can you imagine me with two?!  My brain says it’s a ridiculous idea.  My brain says to wait at least one or two more years.  But everything else – whether it’s hormones or maternal instinct or I don’t know what the hell it is – just wants to make another baby.

I think part of the reason I had such a tough time in the beginning with Scarlett is because I was mourning the life I lost.  I was mourning sleep ins, quiet hours reading my book, uninterrupted cups of tea, nights out on the town without a second thought, doing what I want, when I want…. I was mourning a life which revolved around ME.

It was a hard transition for me to make.  I really struggled in those first few months.  If you had asked me then, I would have said Scarlett was going to be an only child and I was NEVER doing this again.  Ah female hormones are wonders for handing out rose-coloured glasses 😛

And yet, I think one of the things that made it so hard for me was the fact that I didn’t realise how rewarding it would get.  I had no idea how much I would really come to enjoy it.  From about six months onwards, I have found bubba so much more fun.  She moves around, she initiates laughter, her personality slowly becomes revealed, she smiles when she’s having fun, she chats.  She’s fun to be around.  She make me laugh all the time, even when I’m grumpy.

Seeing her amazing little personality begin to shine more and more each day, it just makes me think – we made a person!  And… we could make another one!  What would our next little person be like?  What would his/her personality be like, what would make them laugh, what would they find fun?

I’m never going to be childless again, and I feel like I’ve already mourned for that and come to terms with it.  In some ways, maybe that is the hardest part over for me.  For the first few months, the words “mum” and “daughter” didn’t feel right in my mouth.  I still didn’t identify with it – it sounded like someone else.  Now I hear a baby cry and instantly move as if to react – even if Scarlett is not around.  Now telling people I have a daughter is the most natural thing in the world.  I have accepted my new role, my new identity – Mum.

Which is not to say I have lost who I was – rather that who I was has been expanded upon, added to… made better.  Being a mum makes me a better person every day.

Life doesn’t revolve around me anymore – it revolves around her every second… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She adds the dimension to my life that I had been missing all those years of lostness and searching.  Even when it’s hard, I know my life is better for having her in it.

I would love to go through the whole thing again with the knowledge I have now – with less of the unknown, being able to enjoy each step a little more for knowing what comes after it.  Savouring each bit a little more.  Savouring that initial excitement of being pregnant.  Savouring the big fat waddling stage.  Savouring the birth – yes, even that.  Savouring that newborn time when they are needy and teensy and just eat and drink and sleep.  Savouring every bit in that bittersweet knowledge that it lasts just such a very short time in the scheme of things.

I would hope that I would cope better this time around, with the newborn stage, with all of it.  But adding a toddler into the mix… well, that’s just a whole new ballgame isn’t it?!  Who knows… but I really would like to find out.

But don’t go getting too excited, we’re certainly not trying yet, the timing isn’t quite right for us yet, and my IUD isn’t going to be letting in any “accidents”.  So I will just sit and cluck a little longer and enjoy my mini munchkin as she grows.

Cluck.

New Year, New Life

So 2011 draws to a close.  I could wax lyrical about what a year it has been – my first full year in Australia – the year of Melbourne – the year of Scarlett – the fulcrum of my life.

12 August 2012 – the day my life became bigger than myself

Melbourne has turned on quite a day to draw this momentous year to a close too, 33 degrees outside and a stunning blue sky…

Give me a home amongst the gum trees…

But instead I’d rather think about the year to come – and I have a good feeling about it.  We are gearing up here for The Big Move – interstate from Melbourne, across the vast desert to our new house in Perth, which is being built as we speak.  We expect it to be finished around February 2012, so we will be packing up all our stuff and shipping it in early February, before heading off to New Zealand to visit bubba’s grandma and aunties and then onwards to our new life in Perth.

Along the Swan River in Perth

I am very much looking forward to our new life.  Moving into a brand new house is exciting in itself.  But also, for a while now we have known we are moving, so I haven’t made an effort to meet people in Melbourne, knowing we would be moving away shortly anyway.  So I am looking forward to making some connections, meeting other mums, building a network, a home base.

I am looking forward to seeing my little girl grow and change, and building our new life as a wee family 🙂

So I can’t really mourn 2011, as good as it has been… I get the feeling that the best is yet to come, and welcome 2012 in with open arms.

And most importantly… I celebrated the end of one year and the start of the next with my first Coke in over a year…. hallelujah!!

*angels sing*

Cheers to a great new year! 🙂