Loving the late afternoon/early evening sunshine that makes outdoor photography so lovely! Easter weekend, my sweet babies enjoyed dressing up and playing in their fancy clothes instead of their usual play clothes. It made for some styling photos Looking for families to book portrait sessions for gifts for Mother’s Day! Email or call soon to reserve your portrait session! firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: ‘Daily Life’
We celebrated our baby girl’s first birthday at the end of September. Amazing to realize how far she’s come since I first met her in October of 2010 when she was less than 3 lbs! Now she is 21 lbs+ and a healthy cruising baby (walking is bound to be soon with all her cruising and almost standing alone).
She is very serious about eating as demonstrated in the photo of her eating birthday cake.
One of her favorite birthday presents was a pair of new shoes…what girl doesn’t like a new pair of shoes….to eat!!
Within days of D’s first birthday, we found out that we were unexpectedly pregnant. I say unexpectedly because according to the doctor who performed Alan’s surgery several years ago & tested him afterwards we were not supposed to be pregnant….We are talking about very low percentage of chance. We believe the pregnancy was due to Alan and I finding out we were dairy intolerant & gluten intolerant and changing our diets (about a year ago I changed first and then Alan changed after the first towards the first of the year…)…and that it was a miraculous gift from God.
Instead of celebrating our pregnancy as we near the end of October, we find ourselves mourning the loss of our little one. At about 6 weeks into the first trimester, I had a miscarriage. Not sure of the reason which is often the case though we’re investigating whether I could have low progesterone or any other deficiencies. We don’t know if we will ever get pregnant again but we are more hopeful than we were before the pregnancy.
Miscarriage…not something I hear people talk openly about very often so I feel like I need to talk about it here because miscarriage is not a dirty word; it’s not something that has to be kept secret (unless someone wants to do so). Blog writing used to be therapeutic for me when I was waiting for our children in the adoption process and it is still something I crave when I’m trying to process difficult emotions so I’m taking time to write about our miscarriage here (and do so in future blog postings) because writing may also help me to heal emotionally from the whirlwind experience of surprise, joy, and grief….all mingled together.
What else helps while my body is healing and my heart is heavy with joy and grief? My sweet miracles of children with whom God has blessed me.
Love love love my precious C & D. They make my heart smile
I have a confession…I come from a family where we typically used frozen pie crust in our pie recipes and people never seemed to notice. It saved time and tasted good to our family. We are Southern so we like our desserts very rich. Then, I married into a Midwestern family whose matriarch was seemingly never too busy to bake a pie, including her homemade crust. She has a reputation for making good pies and her children have tried to learn her very detailed methods for making pie crusts that used Crisco.
Until yesterday, I’d never never tried to make my husband a pie with a homemade crust. But with no such thing as a dairy-free, eggs-free, gluten-free pie crust in my freezer, I decided to be brave and attempt a blueberry pie. Knowing that hundreds of others were participating in a virtual pie party today,(see Shauna/Gluten-Free Girl’s facebook party page at https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=229924600367014).
If my mother-in-law had been standing over my shoulder as I made the pie crust last night, she would have been shocked…You just can’t make gluten-free pie crust using the same techniques as regular gluten pie crust. I basically scraped parts of my crust off of the parchment paper (which I’d been assured in Shauna’s recipe was okay) and played with it and it didn’t mind one bit. It tasted like pie crust to me. My only complaint is I wish it hadn’t been as crumbly as it was. I don’t know if this is because I was using coconut oil and Spectrum shortening or if it is just the nature of the gluten-free pie crust(some of the other gluten-free baked goods I’ve made have been rather crumbly ).
Am I scared of making pie crusts from scratch? I’m not sure that gluten-free/dairy-free pie crusts can look as attractive as the regular old pie crusts…but I’m eager to keep playing with pie recipes and am happy with the tastiness of my pie experiment. Hmmm…which of my childhood favorite pies should I try next? Will it be a chocolate chip pie? Yikes! I don’t know that I’m ready for attempting a custardy type of pie without dairy or eggs, but I definitely see more fruit based pies in the near future.
On June 25, 2008, we first learned of our son’s existence. We weren’t sure if this beautiful boy whose photos we were gazing at over and over was really our son. But we tried to be cautiously hoping he might be…and looking at his photos, we think taken around the time he was 12 months old, was kind of like looking at the “sonogram” of our baby we’d been waiting & praying for. When we decided to go meet him in Russia, it felt kind of like we were jumping off the edge of a cliff and praying God would hold us up and lead us on.
Back when I saw Colin’s face for the first time, I honestly thought his eyes were more of a blue. Now I’ve been noticing they are more hazel in color–sometimes looking blue/gray and sometimes looking green-gray. It still makes my heart leap up when I get to look into his big eyes and see joy there. When I became Colin’s mama, I became a first time mama with a “newborn” 20-month-old baby to teach how to live in a family, loved and protected.
Parenthood has been a little backward for us because we just now experiencing infanthood for the first time ever with Dara. We are enjoying introducing her to foods and my heart sings when I get to see Colin and Dara enjoy each other. Baby girl squeals a special squeal just for her big brother who delights her no matter how silly he acts….And Colin can’t hide that he does enjoy his funny baby sister…at least part of the time. He enjoys seeing the mess she makes as she tries foods for the first time and he does sometimes admit that he wanted a baby sister Can’t believe that she’s been in our family for over 8 months now!
My days are busy with a baby girl on the verge of crawling(already propelling herself across the room by flipping or scooting) and my 4-year old son who has an insatiable desire for pretend play, painting, and books. Photography is a part of my busy days–whether at home in the role of a “Photog-Mama” trying to preserve precious family moments or away photographing other families’ special moments.
Recently, I had the opportunity to test a Once A Month Menu plan, which promised to help speed up meal preparation around here(I tested the gluten-free/dairy-free menu but there are many other options available). I felt crazy shopping for so much food when I took the menu’s list to the grocery store but kept telling myself I was shopping for a month’s worth of meals. One rainy Saturday, Alan helped me to assemble some of the meals. We couldn’t get it all done in one day because of having to tend to our little ones. Having frozen meals (or the starts of meals) has made the last few weeks less stressful so far so I definitely will try Once-A-Month cooking again.
Did I mention that our adoption of our baby girl was finalized in April? So relieved to be done with the adoption process. Loving watching her as she grows & learns. She’s 8 months (by the calendar) and 5 months adjusted age. She weighs over 15 lbs now and is replete with sweet baby pudge. So wonderful to see a healthy little baby after having met her when she weighed less than 3 lbs!
Warm weather is here and I’ve still got some room in my schedule for portrait sessions on-location. Wanna meet me at a park or somewhere special to your family? I’ll bring my camera and creative eye…together we’ll celebrate your family in portraits you will treasure for years to come.
Yes, I am a gluten-free photographer as of around September of this past year…And some days I get tired of the experiments with gluten-free baking which is a horse of a different color compared with regular ole baking…
For St. Patrick’s Day, I tried to make Irish Soda bread like I enjoy doing…I tried to make it using a gluten-free recipe by a reputable food writer but it still ended up kind of tough…lots of tweaking and possible errors with gluten-free cooking sometimes. Take number two (thanks to a recipe from Gluten Free Girl) and I had bread pretty close to what I used to make for St. Patrick’s Day.
I don’t officially have celiac disease but seem to be gluten intolerant. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness says that celiac disease affects 3 million Americans (I assume the numbers for sensitivity to gluten are even higher based on what I’ve read) and 95% don’t know they have it. There are over 300 different symptoms that people might have. I have seen a big improvement in my allergies and asthma (which apparently was not really asthma anyway based on tests at the hospital). I don’t use an inhaler any more. I feel like I can sing like I haven’t been able to in years…I have my wind power back…not ready for American Idol but I’d probably be considered too old for that show anyway. I also don’t have the acid reflux symptoms and other digestive problems I once had (I changed my diet based on my naturopathic doctor’s advice. He actually recommended I try a blood-type diet which entailed avoiding gluten and most dairy. I’d gone to him after my pulmonologist told me that I didn’t have asthma despite asthmatic symptoms). I also avoid most dairy products and oats. Though it certainly was not my plan, I have lost 15 or so pounds since changing to gluten-free and dairy-free partially because I just can’t eat as many sweets and breads as previously.
So this year has brought BIG adjustments for me…learning a totally different way of eating and adjusting to being Mama to two…Blog writing is still something I hope to do more regularly. Still daydreaming about just what the photography blog of a gluten-free, dairy-free, adoptive mama looks like… Feel free to leave comments about what you think might be interesting…
The bottom line is…I don’t want this blog to fit into a box because I’ve always prided myself on being a one-of-a-kind, random person. Hope you will stop by to view my photography and get to know me! For seeing my photography portfolio and contacting me about portrait sessions, please visit my new web site, which is still a work in progress at www.heatherbrandt.com.
I’m starting to feel like I have figured out my little word for the year….It looks like it will be “gifts.” Every day my son pretends to open gifts…since Christmas it has been a favorite way to pretend play. So I hear the word “gift” or “present” constantly. But do I really think about my “gifts” that often or do I dwell on the “what ifs”‘ and “don’t haves.”
Recently, I was given a framed print to review. The distressed black wood and vintage styled lettering makes it look at home in our cozy very much lived in kitchen/dining room. The red really makes the white lettering pop out. For me personally, the words are meaningful to my faith. The print is hanging over my laptop in my kitchen and is a personal reminder for me that I need to look for the “gifts” found in each day. Not necessarily the pretend “gifts” that my son wraps up and wants me to open….but the gifts–seemingly ordinary or amazing.
The framed print boldly states what I’ve been known to say that I believe…but am I consciously looking for the good in every day, every thing? And if I do look for the good, for the “gifts,” in my every-day-may-be-ordinary-by-the-world’s-standards-life, will it truly lead me to experience more joy, more “being” and less stressing?
In my reading over the past month, I’ve been challenged to discover the “gifts” found in my life as “Heather Brandt.” I just read A Thousand Gifts, a book which accounts the life-transformation of Ann Voskamp(her blog has beautiful photography and inspirational writing) as she begins to record the gifts she encounters on a daily basis. For Ann, keeping record of 1000+ gifts has led to a more joyful life. And, yes, I could always use more joy in my life so I’m thinking about starting my own experiment in writing down on paper (real paper with a real ink pen…like in my old journaling days which I’ve drifted from since becoming a wife, mother & blogger) gifts I discover in my every day life. I’m hoping that the act of writing down my gifts will, like taking photographs, help me to see my life differently…call it a kind of “awakening” of sorts.
Thanks for your patience with my blog… I’m still trying to figure out how to consolidate my family blogs and photography blog without driving readers away with randomness in my blog’s content. I was comfortable sharing the print with you all because it is now hanging directly over my laptop in my kitchen. If you are interested in checking out the print for your own home or you’re looking for gift ideas for friends and family, you can visit http://www.incourage.me/category/deals
No matter what you may believe, gratitude has long been touted as a path to peace and joy. Want to take a minute to think of a few “gifts” your thankful for today? Maybe you heard someone you love laugh today and it made your heart sing ( #1–Colin’s laughter when watching Cars again.) Or maybe you were given a hug or neck massage when you were feeling tense (#2–my husband giving me a neck massage without me asking for one when I was writing this blog posting). Write down some of your gifts now…don’t wait for the perfect piece of paper or the perfect moment or perfect wording…just do it and join me in thinking daily on more of the gifts in our lives. I’d love to hear from you if you do!
**Dayspring generously sent me the print to review.
Our littlest sweet heart. Yes, she is a nummy little baby and we love her so!
Here’s a love poem I wrote back in my poetic days….feel free to laugh or compliment it.
“Love cannot be cold, black type fixed to white paper.
It seeks; it reaches; it stretches past the edges.
Love is listening to turtle doves, traffic, and shattering glass.
Love is laughter with children and leaps with golden retrievers.
God is the hand clasped in mine when words hurt me.
Sudden rain, singing springs, green oaks–
Love is the shelter from thunder and the lifeblood of beauty.”
Today was a hard day because we took Colin to get tested for allergies. Any time he steps into a doctor’s office we have learned that there is a possibility that it will remind him of his time in Russia. We don’t know why…He says that today he thought about being lonely in Russia…but that he is in a family now. We gently remind him that he has been in our family longer than he was in the orphanage. At one point tonight, he told us that he wanted to go to Russia and get a baby….We couldn’t promise him that we will ever be able to return to adopt another child from Russia. Honestly, we don’t know that we could be away for a month from Colin and now his baby sister. We told Colin that we may not be able to return to Russia to adopt again….and tell him that there are other ways we can help the children in Russian orphanages…by praying…by giving…and we are reminded that we should continue to cultivate Colin’s sensitivity for others in need…So proud of our sweet Colin and so blessed to be his parents! God replaced my sadness over our infertility with the joy of being Colin’s mama back in 2008 and every time I look in his big eyes, my breath is taken away at how our hearts have been knit together as a family.
Our sweet baby girl is now over 9 lbs! She was only 2.4 lbs when she was born so it is amazing to have watched her come so far in growth and development. She now smiles at us and responds to us more. We’re convinced that she knows how to sign “milk,” “mama,” “daddy,” and “sleep.” We’re using the advice found in the books by Tracy Hogg, “the Baby Whisperer,” to help us implement routines for her that will help her to get more nap time in a household with a very noisy, active 3 year old. She wakes up only one time most nights. Last night, she slept from 1ish to 6:30 without a feeding in between. Yay! She has a favorite book and is playing more with toys.
Next month, she will be assessed by a developmental specialist at a local NICU follow-up clinic to see how she is doing. She rolled from stomach to back for the first time on January 30th and then rolled 2 or 3 times on Super Bowl Sunday (aka Super Roll Sunday)! This is ahead of the predicted time frame for this milestone because she is only one month and 1/2 adjusted age (preemies have an adjusted age based on their original due date. Parents & doctors talk about this until the babies are about 2 years old). We are hoping that the adoption will be finalized in March or April.
Here’s a photo of D last month.