People told me that I would feel different photographing newborns and children once I became a mother. Since I would see the world differently, I would naturally look through my lens and see things in an entire new light. I was excited about this idea for many reasons, one being that I would continue to be challenged and expand my learning. I'm a firm believer that connecting to your clients on a personal level completely changes the game. It's part of the reason I love photography, you connect with individuals and you can have a part in telling their story. Maybe that is towing the line of corniness, but it's true.

So, although we are still weeks away from meeting this wee one, I must say, those people were correct. I hold these sweet newborn, sing songs with their siblings to get them to smile, and make cooing noises to calm a fusy baby...and it all hits home. Right in the gut, and right in the heart. I think, "this is going to be our life," in the most humbling, exciting and (slightly) terrifying way. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones or some of that motherly intuition that is beginning to set in...but I look through a single lens and see this entire new world before me. It makes me strive and push myself for even better photographs, because I can better comprehend how these precious moments just mean so.darn.much.

Dear Belly,
You are making life really difficult lately. Moving from the couch to a standing position requires a "grunt" like effort, and hugging has become slightly awkward. It's more like a belly bump. You also move a lot when I laugh, and end up getting food on you at least once a day. No thanks to my slightly clumsy self. All of that to say, I like you anyway. It's pretty neat having this life inside.
Now if we could only time the videotaping correctly to record how much you move when baby is antsy. I think he or she is having a ball in there!

Dear Discount Tire,
You're my new buddy. Not only did you fix the tire on our new car, you did it for free. This may be standard, but it made me feel special. I'll be back the next time I happen to run over some nails in a parking lot.

Dear Basement,
Your walls are up, electrical finished and the drywall almost installed. There may just be a chance that your ceiling and walls will be painted and looking marvelous by the time baby comes. You may be the longest lingering project in our home, but you'll be well worth the wait. Ping Pong tournaments, football games and baby toys linger in your future.

Dear Air Conditioning,
I've never been more thankful for you. Ever.  You have been really good to me this summer. I won't lie, I was expecting much worse from the Michigan summers. I've only had four days where my fingers have gotten the size of sausages and my ankles have mimicked cankles, and I'd say that's pretty good. We won't be separating anytime soon, you and I.

Dear Betty the BabyMobile,
We researched SUVs for months and months, and finally took the plunge. We still need an offical name for you, but in the mean time, calling you "Betty" is working. It may stick. The only issue is that because your seats are all black, Maizy is easily camouflaged but her paw prints are not. Our home also looks like a Ford dealership- we certainly are Michiganders. Welcome to the family, Betty.

Dear our generous family and friends,
We are still unwrapping and unpacking baby gifts. The UPS man comes at least three times a week and now, he likes to know what is in the boxes. I think it's a fun game for him to see what we've been given. To say we are overwhelmed by your generosity is an understatement. This little family has been spoiled beyond belief and there are no adequate words or a way to properly thank everyone. Baby VK is one blessed baby.

Dear unnamed vessel,
You've provided us with endless hours on the water, and it's been wonderful. However, we still need to get you a ladder, proven by my face and belly plant into the water, followed by using your motor as a stair to get myself back into the boat (thankfully I didn't break it!). I love you little boat, but you were not designed to accommodate a preggers. Cheers to many more graceless moments.

On our way to church today, Kyle and I had a discussion about our faith. Seems obvious, right? To talk about your faith on your way to a building which celebrates it.
However, we hadn't had a "check-in" in a while. Asking those tough questions- when "how are you?" hits much deeper roots than then answer that it typically renders. The conversation continued as we sat outside at our favorite sandwich cafe and munched on Sunday lunch. But two hours later it seemed to have a different tone. I'm all about those non sugar-coated sermons, just give it to me straight. Today was one of them, but delivered in package of incredible grace, honesty and truth (truth that may, for many people- and truthfully, including us- may sting a bit.) I realize that I'm being a big vague, but all of this was to say that we ended the service with this song, and I haven't been able to escape the lyrics all day.
Nor do I want to.
It's the gospel laid out in this brilliant way that draws you directly to the heart of the Father.

If you've never heard this song, just sit back and listen for a few minutes. I won't get all deep on you, but just listen to the lyrics. They may just hit home.

I've been keeping a little list over here of strange/funny/odd/awkward things that people have said to me while I've been pregnant.
People are so awkward sometimes, but I sort of love it. Makes life so much more interesting, wouldn't you agree? I'm always good for one or two awkward moments, so I appreciate the candor.
I can hardly wait to enter the infamous world of opinionated people once the baby actually arrives, if not just for the commiserating with others over stories of inappropriateness and overstepping.

I will give a disclaimer that by reading these you may think that 1)I work in a very strange, maybe inappropriate and open office and 2)my husband is against any "non-traditional" medicine. #1 is true, but we are like family. #2 is not true, but he is a bit of a realist when it comes to things  such as humm..pushing a watermelon out a hole the size of a pea.

Here are some favorites over the past few months:

"Oh sweet baby momma, I'll get that for you!" - the nice janitor at a work conference
"My name is Meredith." , as I reach out to shake his hand.
"Oh, nice to meet you sweet, sweet momma", as he reaches to touch my belly

"Have you gotten to the point where you have had to buy all new bras? At least Kyle will enjoy that, well, until you start milking. Then it's like pancakes instead of balloons."
- a male coworker.

"What sex is it?" - stranger in the park, pointing at Maizy
"Oh, she's a girl" - me
"That's what I thought! Obviously you are carrying a girl!"
"Oh, you meant the baby?" - me
"Duh." -stranger.

"You want to deliver naturally? How delusional are you?"

"I signed us up for a Lamaze class" - me
"I can't come." - Kyle
"What do you mean?" - me
"I'll give you a class. I can't sit through an entire day of crunchies telling us that you won't be in pain." - Kyle
"It's one day, it won't kill you."  -me
"It just may."  -Kyle
"Oh stop. It will be helpful...buttt I also made an appointment to meet with a potential doula" - me
 "WHAT?? I'MMMM YOUR DOULA! (pause) and I'M FREE!" - Kyle
(update: we're going to Lamaze but the doula is still up in the air ;)

"Could the doctor just send ME a note telling the sex of the baby? I need to start buying toys."
- Grandpa

"So, when are you due?" - the woman checking me out at Macy's
"September 7th."
"Oh, so that would make the date..hummm...december?!"
"What date?"
"The you know, the sex date {pause} ...It was clearly a very long winter indoors."

"DON'T lift that!!"
- stranger in the parking lot when I was loading a small bag of dog food into my car

"Can I touch it?"
- old man in the checkout line at Kroger

"You live such a charmed life you are going to sneeze and the baby will pop out! Opp! Babies here, all clean and perfect!"
- a male coworker.
<-- I wish ;)

At a coffee shop:
"Could I have a side of fruit? - me
"We don't sell that separately, but I will ask..."  - barista
I hear her as she turns the corner to ask her boss:
"Could I sell a side of fruit to a customer" - barista
"We don't sell fruit separately" - boss
"But, well...{she whispers} she's pregnant.." - barista

"Are you...hummm...hummm..."  - a family friend that I haven't seen in years
"No, she's just gotten fat. "  - my dad

"You're starting to show!" - a friend at church
"No, she just looks like she really has to poop." - my tactful husband

"Oh, wow, you've humm...grrrowwwwn."

"Hi Ricardo!"- Kyle
"You named your baby RICARDO?!!" - friend
"No, it's Kyle's nickname for the baby!" - me
"Oh good, I was going to say...what on earth!!!!" - friend
(and there you have it folks, why the name is a secret :)

 "Are you not sharing the name because you picked something awful like Apple or Ivy?! Did you name this baby after a FOOD or PLANT??!"
- great aunt

"Don't let the pregnant woman go first in line! There won't be any food left for everyone else!"
- a complete turd of a family friend at a cookout

"Are your thighs touching yet? Wait until your boobs explode!"

"Have you started to leak?!"

"Have you had dreams about making out with everyone you know?!"
"That happens! Just wait."
- coworker

(and because no quote wall would ever be complete without the input of a 2 year old that melts my heart into little pieces...)
"Hi baby cousin" - Hannah, as she kisses my belly

In celebration of finishing the most difficult year of residency- Kyle bought a boat.
Yes, his very own fishing boat. His new baby. His pride and joy.

Let's back up a bit though, as it sounds as if he went out and made a ridiculous purchase. Well, I suppose "ridiculous" could be a word to describe it, but it certainly wasn't a rash decision. He's been whining  talking about having a boat for the past six years. Yes, SIX. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, just a regular ole' fishing boat that he can go out on the water with whenever his heart pleases. "It's for our family!" he'd say, with such excitement you could hardly help but laugh.

Over the past few months, I'm confident that his focus on a fishing boat is what kept him sane (and drove me nuts :). I'd hear  "oh, this is definitely the one.. how much can we spend again?!!," as he'd scroll through craigslist, a very clear indication that his eyes were bigger than our pocket book. I'd roll my eyes and respond with some very supportive comment.

Then, as I pulled into the driveway on Friday afternoon, I met eyes with the newest addition to the family (Name: yet to be determined, we are taking suggestions.) Post-call, he drove an hour to pick up the boat (of course, he couldn't wait to pick it up so he skipped sleeping- this comes as no surprise for anyone who has ever met my husband.) We had a lot to celebrate on Friday - officially closing on our home in Charlottesville, buying a fishing boat, and Kyle's last call shift of 2nd year!

Our maiden voyage was nothing short of spectacular and hilarious. Within twenty minutes of cruising around the lake, it started to rain. Rain, as in downpour. Downpour was then accompanied by some nice roars of thunder and plenty of lighting. We took our towels and covered our heads (with Maizy cuddled right in between us) and tried to wait it out. When it stopped after a few minutes, we came out from under our shelter and began to tinker around.

OH, but what a tease. Within five minutes, we were stuck in a huge thunderstorm in the middle of the lake. We ended up a tavern down the road, eating bar food and watching the soccer game as we dried off. Granted, it took a half hour to get off of the water due to some other boats having a bit too good of a time on Saturday afternoon, and forgetting how to properly drive a boat trailer (or load a boat, for that matter). At least we were entertained as we sat in the pouring rain, counting lighting strikes.

There wasn't a possibility that a little storm was going to ruin the day that my husband has been waiting for "forever!" We ended up on another lake that we often go to with friends and launched the boat there. Attempt #2 was a success! Sky clear, the sun shining.

I'll admit, it took me a while to come around to the idea of purchasing a boat. Just one more thing to take care of and store. However, I'll fully admit that my pessimistic attitude was wrong. I may not agree that it was the "best purchase ever!!," but I'm fully on-board that it was a pretty darn good decision for us. I'm glad I can be persuaded ... sometimes :)

Having something to do that we both will always enjoy, being able to take our child (ahem, children if you include Maizy) and knowing that many memories lie in our future of being on the water does hit a sentimental cord (and not just because just about everything seems sentimental these days due to hormones). While I put my feet up and enjoyed the sunset, Kyle caught fish, and Maizy played fetch into the lake. We excitedly talked about bringing our child fishing, teaching him or her to tube behind the little wake and the first fish they'll catch.

This little family has plenty of lovely days ahead on our currently unnamed vessel.

Oh, and this story would not be complete without our make-do anchor making an appearance. We couldn't find the one we wanted at the store the night before, so we decided to make our own for the voyage. Hey, we never claimed to be fancy.

Rest assured, we now have a proper anchor.

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