Break Out of Busy

The end of the school year comes with a rush of concerts, recitals, championship games, school events and graduations. It is an exciting time to celebrate your child’s accomplishments and the friendships you have made over the course of the school year. It can also be insanely busy. Like, makes the holiday season look restful busy.

So, how do you enjoy this busy season instead of getting overwhelmed by it?

Listen to Your Child

Make time to talk with your children. Ask them questions and remember to take the time to listen to the answers they give you. Do they need a break?

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If there is a party they want to skip and they can skip it, let them. Sometimes less really is more, so let your children lead you and give them the space to rest if they feel like they need to tap out and take time to restore their energy.

Stay Present in the Moment

Put down your camera. Set aside your To Do List, and engage all of your senses in the moment that you are experiencing. If your child is performing a song she has written, listen to it, look at her. Take in the moment for what it is.

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These moments are short, even though they represent so much preparation and progress. Do everything you can to recognize and appreciate them for what they are - and to encourage your children to do the same - rather than racing from one calendar alert to the next.

Celebrate Each Other

There is a reason why celebrate is our Word of the Year. It is so important to celebrate each other and the wonderful things we do together and on our own. Your children feel proud and happy when you celebrate them and the work they have done.

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As a parent, when you take the time to celebrate, you are also taking the time to slow down and savor the moment. You are giving yourself permission to enjoy things for what they are and to enjoy each other for who you are.

You may still feel exhausted at the end of the school year, but you certainly won’t feel like it was wasted time.

Change is the Constant, and So is Gratitude

My son has decided to grow out his hair- that is after we briefly dyed it purple. He is experimenting with his appearance even while he is still losing teeth. He likes to ask questions and then make jokes about sexuality which seems so grown up but then he  still sometimes wants a favorite stuffed animal to snuggle with.

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He wants to make pillow forts with me and then wants only to talk to his friends. One minute, he is doing impressions of Donald Trump at the family dinner table and the next he is moody and wants to be left alone with the dreaded video games.

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It is a changeable time and one that is uncertain for both of us. And with each new stage of parenting, I am trying to ride the wave, to take it as it comes and to sit with the moments of joy. I am deeply aware that the time is flying, soon he will not want to be with me and that will be appropriate. Soon, he will choose friends over movie nights at home. So, I cherish it all (even the moodiness.) And, I remain grateful, to have this experience, this human, this love in my life.

 And I am grateful to have documented him when I did, because when I miss that six year old smile, I can always look back, remember and celebrate him then and now.

Camp Lessons for Mom

This summer I experienced one of the great rites of passage of parenthood, I dropped off my son at sleep away camp. I had spent weeks, putting together all the things he would need. I had mailed letters to him in advance of his departure and given him tons of extra hugs. Since I felt anxious about the separation, I read a book about it, Homesick and Happy, by Michael Thompson.

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On the day we got to camp, it was a sunny, beautiful day. The weather was perfect. Music blared from loud speakers. The staff was welcoming. It seemed like a big, fun party in a gorgeous location. We got my son settled in to his bunk, made his bed, put his things away and made introductions to his counselors and bunkmates.

When the time came to leave, I had a pit in my stomach. But then something amazing happened. In an instant, my son had his bathing suit on and was making plans with his new friends to swim in the lake. He was excited and already engaged. He barely said goodbye to us.

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And suddenly, I did not feel sad anymore. I felt the relief of knowing that the decision we made to send him to camp was the right one for him. He was ready and now was his time to grow. And I guess, as his mom, I was ready to grow too.

The pace of parenthood always moves me. It goes by so fast. Yet, somehow, when we take time to stop, be present and trust in the growth, it can be beautiful.

Those are the moments we capture on film. Those are the moments we return to when we need them most – as filmmakers and as parents.

When Our Children Stop Needing Us, What Happens to Our Connection?

I have been lucky to have had Elizabeth Eames as part of the Portraits that Move family for the last couple years. Liz has helped me to clarify and  communicate my vision for the company with leadership and with love. We recently had a touching conversation about the bittersweet feelings that accompany our children growing older. I encouraged Liz to write her thoughts and feelings. The result is the beautiful blog post below. I am grateful for her contribution, I hope you will feel the same.

My daughter is six years old and up to this point, time has been marked by milestones that help her to need me less.  Before we head into the Big Kid Years and careen into the tweens and teens, we look at the passing of time as the gaining of independence, and the ease that comes with it.  I eagerly awaited the new things that we could do together - our conversations, the opportunity for me to hear her observations, her own stories.  I couldn’t wait for the day I could take her by the hand and walk to the subway, the two of us heading off on an adventure together.  No diaper bag, no stroller, no extras toys to keep her occupied.

The summer my daughter was an infant, I looked forward to the next year, when she would be running around in the sand.  The summer she was a toddler, I looked forward to next year, when I wouldn't have to pack diapers or plan around naps.

There were days, early on, that I admit to feeling a sense of relief when veteran moms told me how quickly time passes.  Sometimes, we lose sight of the short years when we feel trapped in the long days.

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But something happened this summer.  While she was swimming farther and farther away and I was standing, watching.  Something happened when she was snuggled up next to me listening while I was reading.

Six years old.  This feels like a tipping point.  The changes time is bringing aren’t so much making it easier for us to be together, easier for us to get through our day – our shared day – as they are giving her the chance to make each day, each experience more her own.  And that is exciting.  And it is humbling.  It feels, now, like we are not only gaining with time, we are losing.  Losing the need for constant attention, losing the need for help with little things.  All those little things that connected us.  That kept us close together, in our space and in our hearts.

Next summer, she won’t need me to read her The House at Pooh Corner, the funny book with all those Chapters.  The book that launched her into hours of playtime, and inspired her to get lost in her imagination.  Will she want me to read to her?  Will she ask me to, if she does?  Will she invite me into her imagination?  Will she allow herself to spend enough time there?

In our rush to achieve, in our desire to look ahead to the next milestones, the easier day that’s around the corner, are we forgetting the joy of the journey?  Are we hurrying to a time when we remember the past fondly, forgetting that so much of that past was spent looking to the future?

I want to remember these moments, the summer of independence that we shared.  The start of a school year that I know is pulling her away from me and towards herself and all that knowledge and friendship and imagination will help her to uncover about the world. 

I want to be present, to be present for what is, right now, for her and for me and for us.  And as we look ahead and dream together, and look back and remember, I want to find - and to honor - what connects us.  Maybe that connection is need.  The need to love and be loved, the need to find and share joy, the need to embrace the life and the time we have been given.  And to celebrate it, together.

- Elizabeth Eames, September 2016

Getting Back on the Bike and a New School Year

While on my summer vacation, I decided to do something I had not done in over twenty years. I rode a bicycle.

I am not sure why I ever stopped riding, I loved it as a kid and often rode throughout my suburban neighborhood. It became one of those things where, the longer I went without doing it, the more fearful I became. I am not clear on what I was afraid of exactly. It was not an active pervasive fear, more like something I just did not think of doing.

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In any case, I LOVED IT!!!!  The joy I felt in the freedom of coasting with the wind in my hair was immense. I felt like a ten-year-old again. It made me want to buy a bike and to spend more time feeling that freedom. I giggled and the satisfaction of overcoming my worries was powerful.

It also got me thinking about other fears that are subtle. And transitions. This time of year there are plenty of both for our children and for us. Our children may have anxieties about new grades, homework and routines. And if we are being honest, we likely have our own anxieties. How will it all go? Will the new schedule work?  Will the re-connection with friends be smooth? Perhaps we have anxieties about our children growing up too fast. I certainly do.

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We need to push through these fears, to ignore them and release them. We need to get back on our own bikes of freedom and enjoy the moment. Be present, share in the joy, be fearless. It will be worth it for them and for us.

I wish you all immense ease with the beginnings and transitions of this academic year. And if you need me, I’ll be on the bike path giggling with my son. 

What's in a Name: Why We Are Portraits that MOVE

We took care in coming up with the name for our documentary style family film business, and Portraits that Move is just right.  

Of course, there is the obvious - our portraits of your babies and your children reveal who they are in ways that photography, baby books and memory journals can't.  Because we are filmmakers, we are able to give you the gift of your children dancing, singing, telling their favorite stories, and moving through their space as it is, and as they are right now.

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But there is something more about this idea of moving.  As parents, as families, we are always moving.  Even when we stop to savor the moment, we are aware that these moments are as fleeting as they are wonderful.

As we enjoy the last days of summer, the family time, the adventures, and the discoveries they bring, we understand that we can't stop.  We can't stop our children from growing and changing.  We can't stop the summer from turning into fall and the learning and growth it will bring.  And we would never want to.

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But we can be present in these moments.  We can help you gather them, preserve them, and celebrate them, season after season, change after change.

What the End of School Year Means for Parents

There are few moments when the passage of time is felt as acutely as it is at the end of the school year.  Surely, we are all looking at (and posting) the side-by-side First Day of School/Last Day of School photos on social media and remarking at how much our children and our friends' children have changed over the course of a school year.

Likely, we are also thinking in our more quiet, private moments, about how fast the time is going, how different our kids are from when they started the school year, and anticipating, already, how much they will have changed by the end of the summer, by the end of next year...

Celebrate these moments, mark these changes.  Listen to and look at your children as they are right now, carrying with them what they learned over these past few months, hearing their dreams for vacation adventures and all that lies ahead of them. 

Schedule a Portraits that Move portrait video session today, to honor the now, to preserve this moment, this year, this child of yours.  It doesn't need to be a holiday in the traditional sense, and it doesn't have to be a formal gift to a parent or grandparent.  Let this be your time to celebrate your children, their accomplishments, this moment, right now.

Back to School Help: A Safe Space for Everything Kids Are Feeling

This week marks the beginning of a new school year in New York and with it comes much excitement. I know my son will be thrilled to reunite with his friends, many of whom have been away most of the summer.  It is a time of new beginnings, new teachers, new school supplies, new sneakers.  There is a rush, some anticipation, a jolt of energy that comes with the back to school season.

And it is not only this way for the kids. As parents, we get excited for the year of learning ahead.  We welcome the routines and we are on the edge of our seats, hoping the transition will go smoothly and be full of ease for everyone involved.

Most of all, we cannot believe the time has flown by - they are starting kindergarten, third grade, high school. How could it be possible? They need to feel both our confidence and our questions. In feeling both, we stay connected to them, united, and close.

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It is important to create space to welcome all of the elements of the back to school transition - the fun parts and the challenges. Getting older is hard for everyone and we need to let our children know that all of their feelings make sense, that we, in fact, have and have had the same sorts of feelings.

There is an opportunity here for parents to let our children know that the spectrum of our feelings is healthy. We can feel confident and have excitement. We can trust, yet wonder.

We are in it together with them and even though we are not the ones starting school, the renewal is so for all of us.