I started this blog in November of 2011 and the most common question I’ve received, by far, is where the name “schooners” came from. And do we really call our kids that? The answer is yes. I do, anyway. My mom says I’ve been making up words ever since I was little. It’s funny how not a whole lot changes from childhood to adulthood and when you look back you begin to make sense of yourself.
Schooners. It means a fleet of ships, or a tall glass of beer. I went with the first meaning. I’ve always had a love affair with the sea and realized when we moved out west how much growing up near the ocean had influenced me and made me who I was. I guess “schooners” was part of how I could pass that heritage on to my kids. For I believe our quirks are what make us unique and memorable. And I want my kids to remember that I loved the water. I started using the term on the blog and it just sort of stuck after awhile and became so endearing to me.
Today I wanted to talk about photographing the schooners in your life. They are my single most favorite way to fill up my Instagram feed and I’m constantly looking for new and creative ways to keep their photographs interesting. When you have colorful and deviant children, it’s not hard. But man. They keep me on my toes.
NATURAL: I have made it a huge priority to photograph my schooners as they are, and not dress them differently or tell them to behave differently simply because we’ve chosen to make our life public on this space. I want them to be comfortable in front of (and behind) a camera, but not altering themselves because of it. I believe this is huge in not only getting natural photographs, but teaching my little people to be confident and comfortable in their own skin. Not forced. Not pretentious. Not conceited. There are several ways I try to reinforce this idea…
1.) I don’t tell them to “cheese” for photographs. I’ll tickle, give them something fun to do, or cross my eyes to get them to laugh, but I don’t EVER say “cheese!”. This produces natural smiles, instead of harsh ones.
2.) I take anywhere from 5 to 20 photos in rapid sequence to get “the” shot.
3.) I capture photographs of things they’re proud of. Artwork. A new hat. Missing teeth. Cookies they baked. This takes it down to their level and teaches them that photography is a way of remembering what made them happy. And they dig stuff like that. In turn, when I ask to take a photo of something I’m proud of? They are happy to oblige.
4.) I don’t force a photo if they’re not in the mood. Sorry, moms. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, but I believe it’s so important in forming a positive view of the camera. I will try to capture the moment, but if they’re crying or laying in a puddle on the floor? I let it go. I don’t want them to think my contentment revolves around their willingness to be photographed.
5.) I let them take pictures. You read that right. I think half of the fun is seeing the world through their eyes and what brings them joy. And they positively LOVE it! I get to pass on simple versions of perspective, lighting, framing and they get to see how fun it is to see the world through a lens.
LITTLE THINGS: I want my schooners to look back on the photos I took of them and know that that is how I saw them in that moment. I want them to see a mum who celebrated their uniqueness and took the time to relish the little things that make them special. They are so close in age, that sometimes I’m afraid they will feel caught up in the middle of the craziness. But I want them to know. That I, their mum, noticed them and what they responded to the best.
Shiloh is my biggest thumb sucker right now and I although we’re trying to break the habit, I totally take photos of her with her thumb in her mouth. That’s how I’ll remember her when she was four. That and the little top knot she wears with sprouts sticking out so tall.
SEASONS: It took me a couple of years to learn that parenting is all really an ebb and flow with ever-changing seasons. When you have a parcel of schooners, your “hard” children will change at different times and then they’ll become the “easy” ones, and you’ll have a different one needing you and all your spare minutes. (Wait! What are those again?!) The good thing is is that you’ll begin to notice that the issue you’re struggling with right now (ours is contentment and whininess) will pass and you’ll moveon to a different problem. You’ll never be bored, I can promise you that! I love using Instagram as my journal. To see where we’ve come from and where we’re going. I totally put what we’re struggling with on there, but I try to do it in a humorous way. Seasons are worth documenting….you will look back and be so encouraged by the faithfulness of God.
PROTECTION: The older my schooners have gotten, the more I’ve had to be intentional about protecting their privacy. They are so dang hilarious that I could make a book with everything they say and do on a daily basis…only I forget it if I don’t document it right away. But here’s the thing. It’s their life I’m sharing, not just mine, and nothing in the world is more important to me than protecting them. I want them to look back and be grateful about how I saw them and wrote about them. I want them to see a mum who loved them unconditionally, prayed over their mistakes, and laughed at their humor, but I don’t want them to see a complainer mum who acted as if every day with them was such a struggle. That’s my issue if that’s the case, not theirs. There are private things we are working through that they wouldn’t want the rest of the world to know about. So I don’t write about it.
There are some practical things I also do to ensure safety. It is not uncommon to get stalker-like emails and comments (there is definitely an element of faith to blogging) and it’s the unpleasant side of this whole thing. People know the city we live in, I’ve found it’s hard to really conceal that and most bloggers would agree. I don’t post publicly the private places we hang out at. There are fields we love to visit on a regular basis and people ask all the time where we go. If you’ve posted where you think it is on Instagram, then I’ve probably deleted it. I’m not trying to be mean at all, I just need to protect my family the best I know how. There are also the public places we go and I don’t mind mentioning those, but I don’t post a photo until after we’ve left that location. We also got a P.O. box for the first time in our married life about 6 months ago. None of this is meant to be offensive, you just have to be careful. We’ve had weird stuff happen and I want to bring awareness in case there is somebody out there (like I was!) who doesn’t think about the world in light of bad people.
BEAUTIFUL: I am always looking for the beauty in the everyday. It is a passion of mine to train my view of the world, and that of my family’s, to see the good. So often I think we think it is our duty to talk about the trenches of motherhood (and I absolutely know about the trenches!) that we forget to celebrate these little human beings that we get to train to be the next future men and women of our society. That is exciting to me! I think so much of raising children is our perspective. And I need mine checked and re-checked all the time.
I want my kids to look back at my Instagram photos and feel how much I loved them. How much I wanted them to be happy and to pursue their passions with the gifts God gave them.
I tell my kids all the time, especially the girls, “God made you beautiful. And don’t ever forget that.”
This week’s challenge is to take a photo of the schooners in your life. Look for opportune moments to tell a story with your picture using the components we’ve talked about in previous posts (lighting, perspective, framing, etc.). May you see beauty in your everyday this week!!! Hashtag your photos #theeverydayproject.
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