I think about it all of the time, but I seldom write about why I am a photographer. This week I was reading a brilliant autobiography called "Clara's War" by Clara Kramer. It is a survivor's story about a young Polish girl hiding in Nazi invaded Poland from 1939 throughout the war. While reading this book I came across a couple of passages that resonated within me for days:

"We had already lost so many friends. We mourned the fact that we had nothing, not one photo, to remember our friends by. We decided to go to Mr Domanski and get our pictures taken to have something to remember each other by. We wanted a token of our friendship to survive the war, even if we didn't."

"'Please, Bolek, there's a wooden box with pictures in it. Can we keep it?' He hesitated, then opened the trunk and took out the box. He still hadn't said a word, but he finally looked me in the eye. The box was hand carved from Russian birch and inlaid with an intricate pattern. He could tell how valuable it was. I didn't care about the box's value; I just wanted to keep the photos that proved that our family had once existed in an almost divine state of happiness and love. Our life was all there. The weddings, the brises, vacations in the Carpathians, trips to Rosa's in the country. And even the picture of the four of us on our way to Paradise Hill. There were dozens and dozens of photos..."

These descriptions reminded me of how much my images mean to me. Photography took on a whole new meaning and purpose when I became a mother in 2006. The moment I realized my newborn was changing, changing so quickly and in ways I might not remember in detail many years from now, I started to record those details with the camera. When my husband deployed to Iraq after our second son was born, he watched The Baby grow through my images. When he came home from Iraq he would search through the thousands of pictures I had taken and see all of the moments that had passed while he was gone. I do, always, have the sense that someday, generations after me, will have the images in hand, they will see the love our family shares, they will see traditions, they will see history, they will perhaps see places that no longer exist. It's really pretty powerful, the photograph, when you stop to think about it...

Today I take pictures because The Bundle is two weeks old. And he will never be just two weeks old ever again...

Despite the fact that I'm not posting too many images, the camera is never far out of reach... I find myself focusing on the older boys as much as possible and doing as little as possible on the computer these days. Here are just a couple favorites from the week:

We have officially survived week number one with our new little Bundle. He has gained 6oz on top of his birth weight and grown a 1/2 inch! One of the occupational hazards of being a photographer and a new mother is the self imposed pressure to capture every moment in detail and I frequently find myself on the itouch during those late night feedings, scrolling through newborn images for inspiration. I have made similar portraits for a dozen clients, so why wouldn't I try for the same with my own family?! Easier said than done. The scene: 5pm. Our front porch, a black backdrop and a wall full of windows. (Sorry, forgot the shot of the studio set-up.)The two big brothers, one who has napped and woke up grumpy, one who has had a full day of play and preschool, armed with Nerf croquet mallets, a gift received earlier that morning from a well-meaning visitor, fighting over who has the better "cheese maker" built from the family erector set... My husband and I on the other end of the porch, cluster nursing The Bundle to get him good and sleepy, attempting as many shots as possible with the naked bottom before The Bundle does his business. The screaming of the two boys escalates, we ignore them, we plead with them, we referee briefly. Then my husband takes the camera and I take The Bundle, after a quick nip he's asleep again, and my husband goes to work like a pro! He's half pressing and re-composing like the best of them, I am beaming with pride, maybe not over the fact that I have just given birth to this amazing little person, but because my husband has been watching me work and he makes a handful of amazing captures. I am seldom in front of the camera, so when he gets a good one, I swoon! And here are my favorites:

The Boy & The Bundle: The Boy wasn't interested in a photo shoot until he found out he was going to get to lay on the dining room table... The Bundle is showing some serious "Pirate Eye"...

Big strong Daddy arms holding The Bundle...

The Bundle's expression says it all... And Daddy is laughing because he's nervous about me having instructed him to take off the diaper...

Oh, that little mouth just melts me to pieces!

The husband gets all the credit on these two images of me...

Maybe we should change his web name from The Bundle to Little Budha? I can't believe the double chin at one week old, this kiddo is going to plump up like a brined turkey!

And, the non-participant, who couldn't give a flying hoot about the chance to get on top of the dining table...

I would be getting so much more rest if I weren't a professional photographer. When he sleeps I should sleep, I know this. But I also know I only have a mere ten days after birth to get the curled up newborn images we all love so much... Still working on those... But here are two from today that just stole my heart, The Bundle with his baby blue eyes open! And The Baby bonding with The Bundle, which he hasn't yet had much of a chance to do since he has had a cold. I love when there is literally a ten second opportunity to snap an image, and you actually manage to get a good one. Oh how sweet it is to watch the two older brothers dote upon The Bundle... And oh my, isn't that Koala Boutique knit onesie just adorable?! Gonna be sad when he outgrows that, which will probably be next Tuesday!

Thank you to my big brother and his sweet bride for the gorgeous spring bouquet filling my home with the most wonderful fragrance!
Thank you to my super sweet neighbors, for loving on my children the night we were gone, and for adorning our front and back doors with festive Baby Boy balloons for all to see!
Thank you to the extremely thoughtful family sharing our duplex, who not only filled a generous gift bag with adorable baby must-haves, but topped it off with two butterfly nets for our older boys, who haven't put them down for a moment!
Thank you to all of the friends and family who have sent emails, snail mails, and facebook posts checking our health and progress!
Thank you to my Aunt Peg for the lovely hand sewn quilt that arrived today!
Thank you God; for giving my husband the patience and energy to act for two, for allowing me the time and ability to hide away from the world and snuggle the most precious gift, for crock pots, for feeding, bathing, clothing, and finding hugs for everyone today, for finding 30 minutes of down time on a beautifully lighted sun porch for my most favorite activity, my camera. I know this may not happen most weeks. I am grateful for every blessing.

Thank you everyone. I thought I would be stressed out and overwhelmed, but I'm really just intoxicated with happiness and love. Let me share the LOVE:

I know what Julie is thinking here, "oh no you didn't, putting that baby in a basket..." as I have told her hundreds of times "I don't do baskets" but the light was so beautiful and he is so malleable and The Baby walked into the room carrying the basket on his head calling himself Darth Vader, I just had to give it a whirl. I still can't believe that he actually fit inside my bump something like this. It's no wonder I was so uncomfortable.

A big Thank You to our friends out in San Diego who sent this super bright onesie that photographs insanely well!

The first thing he wants to do in the morning, and the first thing he wanted to do when he got home from school, was to hold the baby. I am in awe of how grown-up he is behaving, how loving, how patient, how interested, how gentle, I almost cried when I saw this picture.

When Mom asked for hospital photos this morning I quickly realized that I had no good pictures of my husband or myself with The Bundle, so that became the day's top priority.

He's still sporting a large bruise on the forehead, and no, I'm not going to photoshop it, some things are just real and should be. I'm laughing as I remind my husband that all images of the new Mommy must be taken from above. For snapping just two or three before running out the door to preschool, he did pretty dang good!

This week at I Heart Faces is, ready for this? "All Bundled Up". I couldn't help myself, I just HAD to have my baby THIS WEEK! And, I have to break the rules and give y'all more than one image, because I don't care about making the top ten this week, and I probably will not participate in weeks to come; I predict total chaos moving into my home. So, for all of my cyber friends and family, here he is, savor them, it could be awhile before the next batch:

March 15, 2010 - 1:36am
Weighing 8lbs 12oz
Measuring 21" long
Labor: relatively easy
Epidural: my first, and amazing! Why on earth would you NOT want one?!
Recovery: already home and, obviously well enough to be on the blog...

Introducing: The Bundle

P.S. The Bundle was born face up, and thus the bruising to the forehead, which should clear up in a week or so. For now I call him my "little Clingon".

I was perfectly content with two bouncing baby boys... then I caught my eldest son standing on his head, which, if you are familiar with wives tales, means one of two things: a.) Stock up on contraception or b.) You are too late. This is precisely the position he displayed a week before we found out we were pregnant with boy number 2, and again, boy number 3...

Other things I should have paid closer attention to:
a.) Under no circumstances should a woman in her twenties EVER drink water that has not been imported in a sealed container while living in the city of Fort Hood, Texas. For those of you who don't know- Fort Hood is the baby making capital of the world. To be safe, avoid the ice as well.
b.) One should exercise EXTREME caution when standing close to, snuggling with, or even making eye contact with a Soldier Spouse recently home from a 15 month deployment- they are the most potent men on the face of the planet.
c.) Thou shalt not sell a single baby item in a PCS garage sale (PCS is when you move from base to base in the military world). Regardless of how cumbersome the strollers, car seats, and play gyms seem, you should always make room for them in the moving van and never give them away or God forbid, resell them...

This is quite possibly my last belly shot, taken on 3/2/2010.

And for comparison, here is a little collage of ALL the belly shots I did manage to accomplish over the course of the pregnancy:

And if this has been posted, it most certainly means we are on our way to the hospital to greet baby number 3!

Everyone is "Jumping for Joy" at I Heart Faces this week. Maybe if I participate with some literal jumping of my own I could be surprised with the joy of a newborn sometime this week... My husband is a total ham. This image never fails to make me smile. Is it his natural ability to make my children cackle with laughter and smile, or maybe it's the fact that my officer husband can leap in this nature in front of his home, just a few doors down from the General's house, without a second thought. Thank God he has a sense of humor or we would never survive these final weeks of pregnancy.

I'm going to do some jumping jacks, you go check out the other great entries in this week's Jump For Joy contest at I Heart Faces!

It dawned on me that once I have a newborn in my arms, taking photographs everyday is going to become considerably more difficult. So this past weekend I found myself attempting to capture more of those random everyday moments as we trekked through our simple weekend routines. Photography at this point has become difficult, more of a standing, point and shoot effort, rather than my preferred "hang upside down with the child" methods. I used to wonder why the hippos at the zoo weren't more active; why we would only ever see them laying around, or standing at the trough. Well, at 36 weeks pregnant, and quite resembling a baby hippo myself, I know that hippos don't do that much because, well, it's just not possible to romp and run and play and squat and duck for cover when you are sporting all that girth! I apologize ahead of time, this first image is going to cause everyone to want to head out for fresh donuts...

"Mummy Yummy!"

Now if that smile isn't worth the effort of going out for donuts, I don't know what is!

The donut shop has two booths outside. It was about 55 degrees and perfect for a hot cup of coffee and some fresh sunshine. Someone didn't care for my frequent interuptions...

My, how he has grown, and the higher he climbs the more terrified I become of the teen years...

"Anything he can do I can do better! But this is getting a little high.... um, help?!"