I had my heart set on being otherwise engaged and unable to post this week. But here we are—past 39 weeks and twiddling our thumbs. So I decided to snap a few photos of my honey and me before he left for work this morning. He's getting a little sad he won't be able to laugh at my waddle for much longer. I am less sad.
Over and out.
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I carefully curate most photos I post to demonstrate a peaceful existence. These outtakes from my maternity session, however, show what is actually swirling around me whenever I'm trying to compose a shot of anything. (The image above could be titled, “Mom, can we please stop now? We've been working for at least three minutes.") Ahh, how dull life would be without my little assistants.
The next five images (captured with my Triggertrap set on a one-second time lapse while I was walking back to the camera) remind me so much of a series I shot in the Galapagos of two baby giant tortoises fighting/playing. (Here's one photo from that series.) The girls recently wrote a song about themselves called, "The Sisters of Toughness," which would make an excellent title for this grouping as well.
Someone has to be climbing something at all times just out of (or just within) camera range.
I'm just going to pull a little harder on your neck to see what happens...
As wild and "helpful" as they can be, I couldn't be luckier to be the mom of The Sisters of Toughness. I just hope this new little one turns out to be as tough as they are. In the meantime, my mom suggested we hire the baby a 24/7 bodyguard.
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If you told me a decade ago how excited I would be one day to post photos of my kitchen table, I wouldn't have believed you. But here we are. And I'm oh so excited.
We love furniture and artwork that represent special places and people in our lives. Enter this farmhouse table. Forty-two years ago, Jeff's paternal grandfather built the table for Jeff's parents, and it was their kitchen table while Jeff was growing up. By the time I arrived on the scene, the table had been dismantled and stored in the basement.
When we moved into our new house this summer, his parents offered us the table. We trekked down to the basement and tried to imagine the table assembled and standing in the middle of our kitchen/living room. It was in desperate need of refinishing and the crossbar had a scalloped edge that wasn't to my taste, but the piece had great bones. As we debated whether it was worth "editing," refinishing and transporting eight-plus hours to our house, Jeff's parents offered to hire someone to refinish it and then they would transport it to us as a housewarming gift. Yes! A million times yes, we told them!
We asked for the tabletop finish to coordinate with our dark kitchen cabinets and the legs to match our bright white trim. They hired Bruce Bartow (Woodworks by Bruce in Wilmington, DE) for the job. Last weekend, my in-laws pulled into our driveway in a rented van they had driven down the East Coast to deliver the table. It couldn't have turned out better.
Now let's back up and look at our original table (below). I acquired it 10 years ago when I was furnishing my grad school apartment. I can't tell you how many articles were written, photos were edited and artwork was created on this table over the last decade. But the finish didn't match any of the wood in our house, and the tabletop had become warped; all the girls' crayons and markers would roll onto the floor as soon as they set them down. With the arrival of the new/old farm table, we retired the grad school table to the screen porch, where I'm sitting enjoying 80-degree weather as I type this post.
Back to the farmhouse table. I can't wait to see all the little masterpieces the girls make while sitting here.
(Can you spot my sick little assistant?)
We pulled some of our dining chairs in to use with the table for now, but I plan to order a set of galvanized or gunmetal chairs as soon as I narrow down my search. I'll post an update when they arrive.
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We've refinished a dresser for each of our kids and hope these unique pieces will last their childhoods. Perhaps they'll even hold up long enough to be passed to their own kids. Each dresser came from a crazy secondhand warehouse in Raleigh called Shelton's Furniture. You can find the first dresser here and the second here. Jeff painted the white dresser, and we actually found a guy to finish the blue one for just $100. Who could say no to that?
Since sanding is annoying in general and terrible during pregnancy, I decided to try my hand at chalk paint for the first time. The original brand, Annie Sloan, is expensive and a hassle to find, so I tried Rust-Oleum's new product, which is almost half the price and available at Home Depot. Mistake! I do not recommend it. Somehow brown streaks kept appearing after the paint dried no matter how many coats I layered on. I'm not sure if it was the interaction of the paint or clear finish with the stain underneath or what, but I won't be buying this product again. There are still a couple small brownish spots that I think I'll go back over with a white wood paint marker. That said, I will definitely use chalk paint again in the future. It's probably worth the extra cash and time to get Annie's though. Voila the after shot:
And here's a little sneak peek of one side of the nursery. Wall paint by Jeff (Benjamin Moore's Blueberry), chalk paint dresser by yours truly and beautiful 36 x 48-inch artwork by my favorite creative duo, Cricket and Nora. They painted this picture about two years ago, and we hung it in the dining room of our previous house. They loved the idea of placing it in the nursery as a gift for the baby.
Well here goes nothing. If you read my blog, you know these things about me: 1) I'm much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it and 2) while nothing makes me feel more alive than a newborn, nothing makes me feel less human than pregnancy. (I think the authors of "What to Expect" are writing a new symptoms section in my honor, and a support group has formed for those upon whom I have vomited over the last six years. Sorry about that.)
With a month to go (or less—please?), I would characterize my general functionality as this-has-got-to-be-some-sort-of-a-bad-joke level. But this isn't my first rodeo. If I really get a healthy baby out of the deal, I know this pregnancy will become just another hazy, extremely nauseating memory. And I know one day that baby will appreciate seeing some maternity photos, especially ones featuring the big sisters.
The logistics went something like this. First I baked cinnamon-sugar doughnuts (and withheld them until after the session), so I had some serious negotiating power with the girls. I wanted Jeff to appear in the photos, but I really, really wanted him to finish painting the nursery that day, so he got a free pass. Hopefully I can snap one with him later. I planned a winter outfit with boots and a coat, but it happened to be 70 degrees, so we did a few shots with coats and the rest in short sleeves. For our family and self portraits, I use a tripod and Triggertrap, which connects my camera to my phone and has a nifty time-lapse remote setting. (No, Triggertrap is not a sponsor. But yes, I love it so very much.) When the sun was right in the late afternoon, we headed to the backyard woods and got to work.
The best part of the session was just letting the girls be their wild selves. They acted as my stand-ins for focusing, made me laugh by dancing behind the camera and forced me to bribe them continuously from start to finish with those fresh doughnuts. And gave the baby an unimaginable number of raspberry kisses. The outtakes and pullbacks are so funny (including a play-by-play fight scene that I missed when I turned my back and didn't see until I uploaded the photos) that I'm going to put together a separate post with them.
Remember these photos from 20 weeks? Well, things have changed a bit since then...
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I'm Julia Soplop. I've spent my life documenting the world around me in writing and photography. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.