I love how Nora's 4-year-old photos turned out. They represent a true lifestyle session: a location we love and visit regularly, a favorite and often-worn outfit and genuine activities and expressions (both smiles and stubbornness, both of which Nora gives us a healthy dose of every day). This is Nora.
Making the session happen was a challenge. I was holding my camera and a screaming infant, while pushing her loaded-down stroller and trying to convince Cricket to be helpful but stay out of the frame. But you know what? I remembered that I've captured most of my favorite photos ever with a baby in one arm. I even bought my current camera partially based on its weight, so I could hold it in one hand if needed. I'm just a little out of practice. Hard-earned images are the most memorable though.
On my long drive to school this morning, I spotted a bald eagle soaring overhead as I crossed Jordan Lake. My emotions were already running high, and somehow the sighting seemed so significant—I wasn't sure exactly how—that I started to cry. And then I cried for the remaining 20 minutes of the drive.
Today marked many lasts for us: the girls' last day of preschool for the year, Cricket's last day of preschool forever, and our last day at the preschool we've been attending for three years. (Nora will move to a school closer to our new house in the fall.) If the percentage of mothers sobbing while hugging their teachers goodbye is an indicator of quality of experience at a school, I'd say our school couldn't be better. We were batting 100% this afternoon.
It wasn't until hours later when I told a friend about the eagle that I understood its significance; the last bald eagle I had seen was flying over the lake as we drove across it was on the first day of school last fall. On that day, I was about 9 weeks pregnant with Piper and had no idea how I was going to manage to get the girls to school each day and walk them in without passing out or throwing up in front of everyone. (My pregnancies were all fun like that.) There were so many days when just standing up was a challenge, both from nausea and a lovely condition called pelvic girdle pain that sent shooting pain through unmentionable places every time I shifted positions for the last half of the pregnancy.
But I knew that if I could just get the girls to the doors of their classrooms, their amazing teachers would give them all the energy and attention and patience that I couldn't muster. And you know what? I got them there just about every day. And those teachers made the year incredible, magical even. The physical, emotional and intellectual growth we've watched in Cricket and Nora this year has astounded us. And even more importantly in preschool, those teachers loved our girls, and all their students, to bits.
To be honest, I just enrolled the girls at our school because it was close to our old house, one neighbor said she liked it and I had a good feeling when I visited. I had no idea that it would become our community, our people, over the next three years. Saying goodbye today was painful. But seeing that soaring eagle once again on this day of all days gave me the sense that the family we found over the years at our school was more than just luck; it feels a whole lot like fate.
In a few months, we'll move past these "lasts" to a slew of "firsts." First day of kindergarten. First day at a new preschool. And on and on. But boy have these last three years set us up for the adventures ahead. And boy have they been grand.
Piper is already 6 weeks old, has lost half her impressive newborn locks and quadrupled in size (well, she hasn't grown quite that much, but her number of chins really has quadrupled). She and her sisters are our dream come true, and I am so happy to share (finally) her birth announcement with you.
We prepped Piper's nursery before her arrival but left the queen bed set up for guests until we move her out of our room. Between great light, the bold wall color (Blueberry by Benjamin Moore) and the large bed, we had a perfect backdrop for a meaningful lifestyle session. Piper is wrapped in one of my favorite scarves.
Somehow our wild older girls have had a calming influence on Piper since day one. She is actually smiling in the photo with them, despite being just three days old. Cricket and Nora are smiling out of pride—and also the knowledge that they would earn the cupcakes our neighbors brought over if they were on their best behavior for the session. Bribery is the only way, my friends.
Thank you for sharing in our joy as we watch this new life unfold. It's always magical, isn't it?
Cricket has been dying to retake this photo (above left) since we found out last summer we had another baby on the way. She finally got her wish last week. Everyone was randomly coordinated the other day, so I grabbed my camera and assembled them on the screen porch. We had neither the same clothes nor the same house, plus one additional human; we had to make some adjustments. There was much controversy over Nora's new position, since Piper would be "playing Nora." Where should Nora sit? Which girl should Daddy be kissing? But I think it turned out pretty well in the end.
We also tried to recreate the hand shot (below left) from the same sitting. It quickly devolved into little hands smacking each other, but here's one non-smacking version.
Jeff and I still keep looking at each other and saying, "We have three kids!" How did we ever get so lucky?
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.