Photography!

So much is going on! New site in the works, a bunch of collabs, so many emails & texts about booking spring dates! AH! I am grateful for and love it all!

Head on over to www.eringalardi.com for now. My new photography site, www.rufflesandtrainsphotography.com, is in the works, along with some fantastic changes!

What’s up? Glad you asked. Well:
I’m using my Master’s in Education and photography skills to train all you busy mamas who want to document the everyday amazing of your own families and lives. This summer, I’m so excited to say that I’ll be offering photography training designed for you ladies on the go! Stay tuned.

A sentiment that I hear over and over from so many mothers is that they often don’t see themselves as beautiful! NOT true! That’s going to change with sunset sessions this spring and summer focusing on empowering women out there with confidence, highlighting the beauty and strength of motherhood. It’s your turn, mama!

Shine

I’m part of the Mommy Blogger Collective. Each month we’re given a one word prompt to riff with. This month’s prompt is *shine.*

Gwenyth, my monkey, came into this world nearly 6 years ago. She has reminded me every day since last Wednesday that she wants a “purple” birthday party, because (this week), it’s her favorite color.

girl with flowers

I’m not sure what I expected from motherhood. Before I had Gwen, the last time I had changed a diaper was 1984 acting as a 3 year old fumbling “helper,” wrangling one on my sister. Gwen was born at 7:22 am. That night, after visitors were in and out, and a thousand pictures of my tiny baby with taken, the nurse assigned to me insisted that I “get some sleep” after my 19 hour drug free labor (!). She promised my bundle of joy would come back to me “in a few hours” to eat. NOT a few hours later…1.5 hours later…I can vividly re-play the creak of the hospital room door, the tiny squeak of the baby-cart and the hideous (don’t roll your eyes and lie, it is awful) shrill of an infant cry, MY infant, as she was pushed into my room by an apologetic nurse who let me know that she and her team “couldn’t console” this little baby like they could the others. Oh, holy crap. This was the soundtrack to insomnia, I was sure. I don’t know what I expected out of my first night as a mother, but I think I (foolishly) expected sleep. (Don’t all laugh at once.) I held Gwen on my chest, pet her tiny back, and she fell asleep in an instant. So it began, and so it went. She slept there all night long, only waking up to eat, for the first 8 weeks of her life, and it’s time gone by that I cherish.

About 3.5 years later, when she first began preschool, Gwen had an inconsolable crying fit (notice a theme?) over an art project. Her teacher couldn’t figure out what set her off. That night when I tucked Gwen in, I asked her why she was so sad, so upset by the project: dip hand in paint, stamp hand down, teacher makes sheep ears, tail, etc. Each sheep was white, identical. My 3 year old explained in a serious way I’ll never forget: “I don’t want to be a white sheep. I want to be pink or red.” My lesson as a mother? My kid, though a bit more difficult, knows who she wants to be. She digs her heels in and can pitch fit when someone tries to define her. Yes. I’m thankful.

Zoom to the present. Tonight I’m editing Gwen’s graduation photos. She’s my free-spirited millennial hippy, who makes fairy rings out of flowers alongside elaborate architectural structures out of found objects. She’s far more interesting than me already.

Jumps when it’s not time? You bet. Talks when it’s not her turn? Guarantee it. Marches to the beat of her own drum? Absolutely. She made the drum. Cried the loudest and longest in the nursery? Yep. Won’t be one of the white sheep hanging on the wall? No way, no how. I wouldn’t change a thing. My little girl shines.

graduate

“Shine” is the June writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Christina of Mouse in Your House. A few words from Christina — At Mouse In Your House, I’m bringing you stories about being a working mom, quirky family lifestyle trends, frugal living, DIY ideas and the talented people who make life something amazing. I hate getting bored and occasionally use Mouse In Your House to ask people very personal questions that I would, otherwise, never get away with. My goal is to find chicks and gents doing something cool and inspiring, which could lead to a feature about a family who took the year off to travel the world one day and the next day’s post could be all about how to dress a stylish toddler. To qualify for a feature, I need only go, holy moly that is frigging awesome….and you may even get a long set of questions for our next Q&A. That’s the way I roll. And P.S. I LOVE budgeting and it has taken over our lives in the past. We recently graduated from living in a 400 square-foot apartment to a 1,400 square foot house in my beloved small town of Knoxville, Tennessee. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

To the new moms: hold on

babygwen1

I feel infinitely smarter since having my children. Not only smarter, but more confident. I guess that comes with the territory of being responsible for the lives of three growing babies, 24/7, for over 5 years now.

Today, I had to admit to myself that my “baby,” Hudson, isn’t a baby at all anymore. Mini-man rarely lets me hold him still so I can kiss his cheeks over and over as he drifts off to sleep. His arms encircle my neck these days, and his legs are so long they dangle down the rocker’s sides. He’ll be two in March, and just like the first time I held his five year old and three year old big sisters, the day he was born is as clear in my mind as this morning.

Where did the time go? I know where it went, and it has been well spent pushing my children on swings, teaching them how to color, count, walk up and down stairs, blow bubbles, swim, slide, ride a bike, use a spoon, make a bed, build a fort….New moms, my hope for you is that you don’t wonder where the time went either, so hold on:

Hold on to tiny hands; admire teeny fingers and toes. Kiss squishy baby cheeks all you want, listen to the coos, giggle and squeals of this new life learning how to be a part of the world. Don’t wonder if it’s a waste of your time to gaze at your newborn’s face hour after hour while he or she sleeps. It’s not.

Hold on to your baby as long and as often as you want. The only thing you’ll “spoil” is your own experience by not doing so. Sooner than you know, your little one will be wiggling out of your arms – then crawling, toddling – and letting go of your hand, whether you’re ready or not – and walking toward his or her own adventure. When this happens, don’t be sad. You are witnessing your child growing.

Hold on to yourself. You transformed from the former you to a mother the minute you conceived this life, but don’t forget what makes you tick, or you will get lost. When you find a nano-second to spend on and with yourself, don’t feel guilty. A mother with charged batteries is a better mother.

Hold on to your spouse, and remind one another that you’re on the same team as you grow as parents, even when you’re both drained of energy and haven’t slept more than 2 hours straight in months.

Hold on to your confidence as you feel like you’re clueless, exhausted, and foreign in your own body as you heal from pregnancy, birth and the wrath of postpartum hormones, all while you navigate through this new role of motherhood. You are amazing.

Hold on to the knowledge that your little one loves you for you, no matter how you dress, cook, if you never exercise, get any laundry done, if you perform well at work, or how fantastic or awful your hair looks today. And you should too.