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Posts tagged as “Sarah”

Playground

What do you do with two toddlers who are losing their minds because Daylight Savings has totally messed up their sleep schedules? You take them to the playground!

Penny is super into throwing herself down slides right now, and Bea is a little more cautious. You’d think it would be the other way around (and at another time it was) but that’s how it goes, I guess. Kids.

The autumn sun was giving us beautiful light even if the girls wouldn’t sit still. Enjoy the photos.

Pumpkin Patch

It’s October! That means a trip to the pumpkin (or “PUMPIE!” if you are the kids) patch was on the docket. I was looking forward to it, too. Last year was great and all, but this year the girls are much more mobile and much more interested in the world around them.

They ran around like a couple of kittens let out of a carrier. Each pumpkin was the most exciting pumpkin they’d ever seen in their lives. There were many attempted pumpkin carries and some surprisingly successful pumpkin carries. Bea spent some time wandering around by herself while Penny contented herself by relocating handfuls of hay from the ground to the wheelbarrow, on top of pumpkins, and into her own hair.

All in all, it was a successful day. Pumpkins came home with us and meltdowns were few. Enjoy the photos.

Tennis Courting Success

It’s not a tennis court. It’s a pickleball court. But, talking about pickleball courts is silly. Does anyone even know what that is?

I’ll tell you what, Bea and Penny have no idea. I’m making an official editorial decision: we’ll continue to call it a tennis court in all future references to the pickleball court.

All this huff is to say that we took the girls out on a sunny morning to run them a little bit. The last time we availed ourselves of the tennis court Penny wasn’t quite walking. Now, however, she is a champion walker, sometimes walking as much as all over the damn place. It was time to revisit the location.

I decided to play around with a wide zoom I purchased around Christmas time. I’m a bit hopeless with a wide angle lens, so I thought a little exercise with it couldn’t hurt. Plus, photographing toddlers is an especially physical type of sports photography allowing me some good practice. I also threw a diffusion filter on because why the hell not. I wanted to see what it looked like under bright, sunny conditions. It’s nice!

Enjoy the photos.

Sarah Dances – Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

Do yourself a favor and watch this one fullscreen.

Last week was Sarah’s birthday. Happy birthday, Sarah! Beyond celebrating my wife’s birth, the event lit a fire under my ass to finally finish the dance video we started shooting last fall. Between the children and greenhouses and all sorts of other stuff, it seemed like there was never time for it.

I started the cut when she was away this July and made decent progress, but then I lost steam. I wanted to have it done for her birthday, but I found the project difficult to work on. Sarah’s dancing is great and fun. The song is driving and easy to cut to. The footage is really nice and allows for flexible decision making. But whenever I got into the flow state that editing something I care about requires, the project made me think of Olive and the hell we went through trying to keep that poor baby alive. I would get choked up while working and have to walk away, go talk to the babysitter or play with the girls or whatever to gather myself.

And as soon as I walked away, focus shattered.

So it took me a whole year to get through the video. That’s quite a long time for a three and a half minute dance video. But I felt so much weight tied to it. Like, I needed to really nail this one because of Olive. And that made it pretty scary. I mean, not in some “life or death” kind of way, but more of a “confronting hard emotional truths” kind of way. Which is still scary!

I think the video turned out pretty nicely and I am proud of this silly, little, emotionally fraught project. It was a good trial run for a camera I purchased just before the pandemic that I had some plans for which never really materialized. I tried out a bunch of new edit tricks and spent a whole lot of time in Resolve working on the color. It was great having raw footage for the first time on a Sarah Dances production.

I hope you enjoy it. I had a hard time with this one. I’m having a hard time even writing about it, actually. But it’s good. And it’s fun. And I hope it brings some brightness to your day.

Download the audio for this post.

A Couple Of Dang Turkeys – November 25, 2021

Picture this:

It’s Thanksgiving. The 23-pound turkey is in the oven and cooking nicely. Stuffing is warming in the slow cooker. The first bottle of wine is open and halfway to the bank. Your kids are dressed like little turkeys in outfits gifted by the babysitter. You find yourself with a brief moment before the sun dips behind the horizon.

What do you do?

If you’re me, you throw the kids on the lawn and take some dang photos. And, with the help of our friendly neighbor Doug, you get a couple almost-good family portraits. To be fair to Doug, he had the barrel of the lens pointed directly into the setting sun. A valiant effort, but we’ll have to try again.

Enjoy the photos.

A For-No-Particular-Reason Photo Shoot – October 25, 2021

Sometimes you just bathe the kids and force them to sit near a window as the sun sets so you can get some photos. I think it is important to make regularly scheduled photos of the girls, even if you have no great purpose. They’re just growing so dang fast.

A bunch of these came out really nice. I find I have a hard time editing out photos because I have emotional feelings about the subjects. So, you get bloated, unfocused galleries. No big deal.

I was playing with a diffusion filter I purchased recently. I think it added a pleasing, dreamy haze to some of the photos, even if it wasn’t quite the right light for it. In other photos, it kind of just looks, I don’t know, soft? Diffuse? That’s the point, of course, even if the outcome wasn’t exactly what I normally like.

The Inaugural Pumpkin Patch Visit – October 28, 2021

One of the nice things about working from home is that I can decide to get up and go to the pumpkin patch in the middle of the day on a Thursday in late October with Sarah and the girls. And no one except my dwindling prospects and collapsing career can tell me otherwise! Supreme freedom!

It was a beautiful day here in lower, slower Delaware and we couldn’t bear to miss the opportunity to drag the children out for photos. And I think they’re pretty dang cute in their Halloween-y witch outfits. They seemed to enjoy the trip. Penny was totally jazzed the rest of the day, until 6pm when she promptly fell asleep.

Sarah’s Address to Olive.

Sarah wrote a powerful piece on the loss of Olive and her experience of grieving over on Facebook. In the interest of storing it for posterity, I am reposting it here.

Losing a child feels like the whole entire universe is reduced to a grain of sand.

Empty, yet somehow filled with so much energy all the same. An unpredictable kind of force that will blind you. Grief is a tricky thing— it’s not linear. It sneaks up on you, and it doesn’t care if you have plans. It’s absolutely ruthless and there is no map.

Things still come in threes. As the days and months go by, I find myself sifting through gifts sent in three, gifts sent with love and without the unthinkable notion that we wouldn’t be bringing all three of our baby girls home. I cycle these gifts in and out as the girls continue to outgrow them. I always know when they’re wearing something that has a third, and it’s painful but I also find it comforting. I find myself desperately holding on to these moments— because it’s a reminder of the time before, the time of “is” and not the now of “was” that breaks my heart daily. It’s a reminder of a joyful time when we were just thrilled by our new reality of raising three little girls. And while it’s hard to see the third onesie or the third set of eating utensils, I’m actually more terrified of reaching the day when things start coming in two.

Moments like these have a particular kind of sting. They make me feel farther away from the time that Olive was here, and more thoroughly a part of the now where we exist without her.

I know by now that nothing will actually keep me from Olive, that there is no without, because she’s with me every moment. When I wake up and when I go to sleep, and in every step I take. Even still, I feel like I’m desperately hanging onto right now because I don’t want to keep taking steps that move me forward, creating this inevitable distance from the time that I last held her in my arms. I want that time back, I want to be back there. It was hard, but it was so beautiful.

I still hear the sounds of monitors in the PCICU, in the streams of the shower, the dishwasher, in traffic— everywhere. I often wake up expecting to head to the hospital, just like I did every day for months. I realize that’s not the case, and it just reminds me of how impossibly hopeful I was that things were going to turn out okay. I long for the time when there was still a true flame of hope. But honestly, I can still feel it burning in my heart months later. Even though Olive is gone, it persists. It’s as though that hope hasn’t completely caught up with reality. Hope doesn’t know how things are going to turn out, it exists regardless of outcomes.

I can’t express how badly I wish I could see Olive again, boop her nose, call her muffin. Some days are just more painful than others, but every day I’m considering every moment in terms of what it would be like if Olive came home. What would this whole experience of parenting feel like with Olive here too? Would she need a million hugs like Bea? Or would she be more independent like Penny? She would absolutely be something entirely her own, something 100% Olive. Ask any of the amazing staff at Johns Hopkins, Olive was not to be messed with— she was a sass machine, and she was also the sweetest baby and delicate in so many ways. She was little but not without personality, her impact vast and infinite.

I constantly feel the absence of her, I feel it framing my every experience. I feel it so deeply that sometimes it’s hard to breathe. I miss her. I just really miss her.

There’s a lot of not saying things throughout this process. There is a lot of skirting around the darkness with new acquaintances and coworkers. Almost every day I’m meeting new people at work and answering questions about myself, that’s kind of how it goes in a small town. People are interested in my life, my story. Do you have any children? What are their ages? Inevitably, I find myself answering the question I dread: you had twins?! I hesitate, I hope they can’t sense my hesitation. People are excited to share in the wonder of twins, I get it. It’s something that stirs up joy in just about everyone. But my mind travels to a hard place. I’m still figuring out how to navigate this loss. I tell myself that when it feels right, one day I’ll tell the whole story. Or maybe they’ll find out some other way— they’re actually triplets, not twins.

At their check-up, both nurse and doctor asked if Penny and Bea have any other siblings— we say no, but we think something different. I wonder if they “know” and how it feels for them to ask a loaded question that they are simply trained and required to ask.

It’s been a little over three months since Livvy passed. Last month the girls celebrated their six-month birthday. It’s a complicated celebration, a messy jumble of sincere joy for our two little ding-dongs, combined with feelings of great loss and immense aching for the now that could have been— the now of three and not two.

I’ve been hesitant to speak on or with anyone concerning Olive for the last few months because I’ve been too scared to move forward. I’m still just so scared and so unbelievably sad. But I do believe that the steps present themselves organically.

Just last week a coworker heard about our loss and asked a question that helped me turn that corner. She asked me, “What was her name?”

Olive. Olive, I told her.

It felt so good to speak her name. And I realized that my fear is that people will be too nervous to say her name— when all I want is to hear it. Olive. Never be nervous to ask about Olive, and please continue to say her name.

There’s still so much to uncover and learn in this process. I’m still figuring it out, and I’ll probably always be figuring it out. But I feel ready to start. I feel embraced by the love I have for Olive, her sisters, and her father. My heart got bigger because of Olive. It got stronger too.

The world is better for having had Livvy in it for whatever amount of time. Not enough time, that much is certain. But time feels different to me now. When Olive died time changed completely. The short time that Livvy was on this earth was enough to expand and fill an entire universe ten times over, absolutely crushing the trivial meaning of time. A few months, a few years, or a hundred. The love we have for Olive is infinite. My heart is a lifetime. To the moon and back, Livvy bear.

“We are photons released from a dying star
We are fireflies a child has trapped in a jar
And everything is distant as the stars
I am here and you are where you are”
— Nick Cave