Celebrating M.O.M’s: 2015 and Beyond (A Recap)

Well here we are, approaching the end of another year and gee whiz it’s been wild! I don’t know about you, but 2015 has been packed full of adventure, growth, dreams taking shape, and incredible progress in my personal life, and FUN. Insane, but fun.

Some of the most fun I’ve had this year (and last!), was the Celebrating M.O.M. event we had here on the blog! Seriously, this went far beyond what I ever expected it would or could be, and proved to be one of the funnest events I’ve ever planned or hosted.

Since we began, we have featured 11 Moms including myself, and brought you a bit of their lives and mine, to be celebrated through a series of photos and objects that represent each one of us. It has been 16 months of pure bliss and so much beauty and creativity, and now that it’s over, I thought it would be fun to do a bit of a recap.

Here goes.

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First there was me, and a little dream I had. I was six months into the journey with my second born, my son Emerson, and basically he cried a lot and most days I felt like an exhausted mush pot of emotions and jiggly thighs. But I was determined to celebrate every moment of his babyhood, so one day I asked my friend, Thalyta to come take some pictures of my mess.

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As soon as I said it, I realized what was in my hand. A breast pump. It was such a source of frustration and yet it was mine and my baby’s lifeline. I realized then that nothing was as precious as this time that I have, right now. And even that would pass way too quickly. So my husband sent me to get pampered for a day, and get my hair done, and it felt so lovely and SO GOOD, that I decided right then that every single mother that I knew needed to have that kind of experience. I posed in front of the camera with various objects that represented the phases of motherhood I had just come through and it was such a life-changing and rich experience, I knew this was a gift I wanted to give to all of my mommy friends. And so began a dream. What if I could give this to all my friends and make them feel as I did-truly appreciated and celebrated, in the middle of the mess and the “Moments of Motherhood” (M.O.M)?

My friend Thalyta immediately came on board with the idea, and a few weeks later I invited a bunch of women to a photo shoot, where me and a team of friends pampered and massaged them, curled their hair and spritzed their faces with homemade “glow” spray and then we took their pictures.

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(photos above by Emily of Sweet Justice Photography. Thank you, Emily!)

The MOM’s all came away transformed, and expressing such deep gratitude, that I knew it was the start of something truly rich and amazing, and something I wanted to continue. And so it did.

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(photo by Emily of Sweet Justice Photography)

A few months later, we invited more women to another photo shoot event, and I was ecstatic to see once again, my dream coming to life, and to see all the love and care that was poured into these women, my dear friends and fellow mommies.

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(photo by Emily of Sweet Justice Photography)

It was truly a team effort and a labor of love from everyone who helped, including my husband, who did so much behind the scenes to make these events happen. Major major gratitude to you Babe, and all who brought this vision to life!

The vision was to celebrate moms in all those fleeting stages of baby birthing and raising, to show us how rich and meaningful our life really is. To stop in the middle of our mundane “moments of motherhood,” and to say “hey, you are beautiful. You are valued. You are appreciated.”

That’s what this was about. And that’s what we did.

Some were still heavy into breastfeeding and baby wearing, and others were headlong into the trenches of toddlerhood, still others were in the throes of preschool and backpacks and dropping kids off at school. But each one brought their smiles and their gifts with them…and I wrote their stories. One by one, I looked at their pictures and prayed over them. One by one I remembered their words and their objects and thanked God that I had such an amazing team of women and mothers in my life. I truly loved each story, and according to you, you all did too!

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There was Ashleigh, The Beautiful Balancer. And oh man, what a ball of fire and beauty she is! Such an honest soul and an inspiration to many!

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And then there was Charissa, the hope-filled wonder of a woman who never ceases to give her gifts-those of prayer and healing and speaking fulfilled promises-to everyone she meets. What a woman!

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And of course, Ani, the Sunny Believer. The one who always believes, and always looks for the good, whether it’s a massive miracle or just those tiny “I love you’s” from God. She lives her life aware of the miracles that happen daily in her life and others, and we love her for it!

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Then there was Jennifer, the Preservering Flower, and what a gem she is! She is not afraid of the desert or the difficult places in her life, and she just keeps right on shining, even when life gets hard. I’m definitely not the only one that appreciates this beauty!

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And how could we forget Sarah, the radiant caregiver?? Graceful, devoted and with a deep, deep love and concern for the world, she gives of herself effortlessly and without expecting in return. I am so richly blessed to be in her circle!

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Things got spicy and fun with Hannah, the gorgeous mother-child who lives with abandon and all out passion in raising her babies, loving her husband, and being a loyal friend to many! I know I can always count on her and I am forever in awe of her determination and grit.

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We definitely weren’t going to leave out Valerie, the gentle warrior woman who has transformed my life with her strength and zeal and vulnerability, and with the courage she constantly speaks to me and everyone around her. She brings a serious dose of light and hope to the world!

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We couldn’t leave out tough chick, Crystal, who rocks the cowboy boots as well as the flip flops, and isn’t afraid to get a little dirty! You guys loved her adventurous spirit, and so do I!

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And oh boy did we ever love Rebecca, that beautiful woman with a heart of gold and creativity to span the seasons and the years that we’ve known each other! What a gem! So glad she’s back in my life!

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And last but definitely NOT LEAST, there was my sister Christina, who’s been rocking my world since we were childhood trouble makers, and I’m proud to say she is still one of my very best friends. Beautiful, devoted, and patient like no other, she is a friend to many and one of the most courageous women I know. To say I’m proud of her would be a massive understatement.

And there you have it! There’s a few of the women that make my life so fun and good and amazing!

I told you at the beginning I would bring you 12 women in 12 months. Well, we didn’t quite make that (a few women were not able to make it at the last minute-we love you, Lisa and Brooke!) but we DID however, bring you 11 women in 16 months! And what a joy it’s been! What an incredible journey to bring you ALL of these women, and let you see a little bit of the light I see in them.

I hope to bring you some more in the future, but until then, I wish you all the most amazing “moments of motherhood,” and a happy, happy holiday!

Peace!

-Ruthie

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all photography credits belong to Thalyta of Thalyta Swanson Photography. Please do not copy, alter, or share them without permission or without this article in its entirety. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Layers.

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Fall always brings out the layers, and the depths in me. Layers of childhood stories, of adult pain and places I’ve been, of people I’ve met, and those I can’t see, but are always there…forever in my heart.

This is for all of you today. You are loved, you are beautiful, and you are seen. No one can tell your story like you can. No one paints the sky like you do! You have a place. A purpose. A never ending reason to smile, and to keep going.

You make at least one person’s world go round. Remember that.

So, here’s to you and to all the layers, the good, the bad, and the unforgettable, that make up my history, my life story.

I wouldn’t be who I am today, without your affection, your smile, your friendship…the way your eyes dance when you tell a story. The way you listen with your heart and come closer when it gets hard. You always come closer.

I want you to know that it means something. It means the difference between suffering and dying silently and knowing that you have a friend, that everything’s ok.

Here’s to you, in all your grand beauty, and the layers in your own soul. The ones that sparkle with color and the ones that are weary and gray with the years. And to the ones underneath that no one sees.

You are loved and you are treasured. Like my favorite pair of jeans. You are appreciated, like the layers of blue on this beautiful fall day.

And always.

Love, Ruthie

Twelve Years.

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It had been twelve years since he had ridden up with his horses and proposed to me, so we spontaneously decided to stop there, after a day of hiking and sightseeing, to celebrate and to reminisce a little.

We held hands as we walked to that spot where it had all began, while the sun made shadows out of our beginning and danced upon our sorrows in between. We talked, as our hearts stretched across the years and the canyons of past hardships, our present happiness and all of our ‘ever afters’. The sage leaned gracefully toward us and our future and a soft breeze blew on the memories we had brought with us…memories of that day.

How beautiful and perfect it had been! I had met him there after he had ever so thoughtfully placed flowers on the path, leading me to the “picnic” that he had made for us, complete with fruit and cheese and champagne. That’s when he had rode up with his two horses and met me there. We talked about that first kiss, and how that I had said “YES” and how we never could have known how beautiful it would be, or how IMperfect it would become.

These twelve years.

They had been full to the brim of tears and laughter, of deaths and births and hard work and the happiest of days. Of smiles and fears and adventures and goodbyes.

Twelve years of “yes!” Of coming and going and yet finding ourselves back in each other’s arms, again. And again.

We laughed about how naive we were and yet how we would do it all over, a second time. Or a 98th time.

For those births, for the smiles, for all the love we had found and discovered along the way. For those were the births of our babies, and one of them was taking our picture, the other was yelling at us from the car. We talked about how lucky we were to have them, and, how we wouldn’t go back, even if we could.

That as hard and excruciating as it sometimes is, this shared together-life, we would still choose it and them and US, for what we’ve become.

We decided that nothing was as rich and full as this, and that this was everything. This was the life we had chosen and created, twelve years ago, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Not even for a moment (or a lifetime) of peace and quiet.:)

That as beautiful and difficult as it had been…

it was totally and completely worth it.

Celebrating M.O.M: Christina, the Sister Friend.

So, we’ve come to the end of this series. Sad, I know.

It’s been such an amazing journey, celebrating some of the Moms that are in my life, and I’m bummed that it’s coming to a close, but. Lucky for you, I’ve saved the best for last! This month, I’m bringing you my very own sister to be our featured M.O.M!

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Yep, that’s right. This is my sister, Christina.

She is creative, lively, frugal, and inspiring, and I’m happy to say that this is the girl I grew up with! This is the woman I used to sneak a whole Tupperware of chocolate chips under the spruce tree with, while our Mom did the laundry and other important things.

She’s fun like that.

She’s also the one that helped me build teepees and catch tadpoles and “drove” me around our family’s circular driveway like a horse in a buggy, with a REAL harness and bit in my mouth, and then be perplexed that people would stop to take our picture. Yep, this is that one.

I’m so lucky to have her!

We made so many memories together as children, and I’m so thankful that now we get to be Mommy’s together! What a gift to watch our children now growing up and doing the same, and for me as a Mom, to learn so much from my sister.

Christina is one of the absolute best Moms I know. Truly! She is patient, kind, and loyal. There is no limit to the amount of sacrifice she would make for any of her loved ones, but especially for her children, Felicia (11), Adin (9), Shawn (5), and Evelyn (1). She takes her role in their life, seriously, and spends much of her time teaching, praying, guiding, and caring for them.

She homeschools the three oldest, and if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is either picking up, holding, changing, or nursing the baby, which is why she brought a homeschool book and a pair of pink baby boots, to the shoot. “This is my life!” she says, with a huge grin on her face.

When I asked her what is the best thing she has learned from Motherhood, she replied, “to roll with the punches!!”

And I’d say that no one does this better than my sister. She is an expert at taking life as it comes, and approaches its difficulties with determination, a bit of gusto, and a hearty laugh.

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In fact, this is what I like best about her. Her laugh. It is genuine and infectious and if you’ve ever been around it, you know that it instantly makes you feel comfortable around her.

She is the happiest when she is thrift shopping, upcycling, drinking coffee, and camping. She loves the outdoors and puts a lot of thought and creative energy into making her home a welcoming and inviting place for those who would stop by.

I personally LOVE to go to Christina’s house! She might not know this, but it IS actually one of my top favorite happy places. It’s clean, relaxing, and peaceful, and I always feel inspired when I come away from there.

Christina describes her life right now, as: “fulfilled.” And yet she dreams of retiring with her husband, Dave, in a seaside cottage, and loving on her kids + grandkids, and of traveling to other lands!

The most important thing she wants to teach her children is “gratefulness,” in her words, because “it has a positive effect on their outlook in life.”

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I agree, and I for one, am so grateful. Grateful that she’s my sister and I can always count on her, no matter what I’m going through.

She will be there, and she will always be my dear, sweet, amazing sister friend.

(Love you, Christina! You inspire me and so many with your abandoned faith in God and trust in the process and I hope we get to make much more laughter and many more memories together, in this crazy thing called life!:))

On Loaders and September and a Boy Turning Two.

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Well, here we are, weeks into September and my baby turning two and me, wondering whatever happened to Summer and to that tiny soul that I used to hold constantly so he wouldn’t cry, and to those days that stretched on forever, because all I ever did was nurse and change and bathe and hold a helpless little human.

Whatever happened to his chubby, dimpled hands reaching for mine to help him take his first steps. Whatever happened to his little feet curled around mine in the sleepy hours of the morning, and me never wanting to move, but to stay there for an eternity just to catch another glimpse of his precious face next to mine.

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And yet here we are, and that baby face just turned two, and life just keeps on hurling by. So I made a cake to commemorate the day that he and I and everyone we know is relieved and happy to see.

Two years!

Needless to say, I’m just as smitten as the day that he arrived and his smile still makes me as weak as it ever did.

So I made him a chocolate cake with LOTS of frosting, and then his daddy and I went to town, scraping and frosting and scooping out a construction site with it.

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Well, mostly it was John that did the scraping, I just went to town, buying all kinds of toppings, including gum drops for the construction signs, and mini Twix bars for the bricks, and then told my husband have at it.

He was so excited to make this cake, and it was so much fun to watch him in full-on, little boy wonder, as he carved out a road, filled the hole with “sand and gravel” and strategically placed backhoes and loaders on it, to make this a dream come true for our little boy!11178-MMS-1440872113110-attachment1-20150828_192402_Sophia

I used a Pamela’s gluten free mix for the cake and baked it in an angel food pan, so it would have a hole in the middle. We then filled it with granola and oreo cookies from Whole Foods, to make the sand and gravel.

Not too bad, considering it was vegan and gluten free, right? And you know what? It tasted really good, too! I just subbed out the eggs for flax seeds and vegan-ized this chocolate frosting from http://www.food.com. So delish!

And boy oh boy was it a hit! I had let Emerson “help” me with the beginning stages of frosting, which basically just means that he licked and ate it ALL, then followed me around for the next two days, saying “gake, gake, GAAAKKE!”

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By the time his party came around, he was completely fit to be tied and ecstatic about his “gake!”

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Oh Emerson, you persistent, beautiful boy.

What would I ever do without you, and that crazy wild imagination of yours? You will make the world proud someday, with your sparkle and your creativity. I’m so lucky to be your Mama.

Someday, I will find the words to tell you just how much you mean to me.

But for now, I will celebrate you with “gake” and “loleys” (loaders) and all the things you love.

Because you, my boy are growing too fast and turning two only happens once. So here’s to you and the amazing things you are learning and becoming.

This is for you.

Tracey.

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Holding and remembering Tracey in the sacred space of my heart today. I met her yesterday. She is deaf and homeless. She couldn’t speak very well, so we hugged a lot. She told me in broken sentences about the abuse. The beatings. The nights she still can’t sleep. And how she just wants a job like every normal person. A home. A safe place. She cried in my arms, and I can’t forget her ever since…

So today, I pray.

“Dear Jesus, remember your daughter, Tracey? She needs a little help. All she has is a dog and her too-small shirt and worn out heart, and now, the 20 dollars that I gave her. Twenty dollars! That is all! That will buy her 3 fast-food meals at most, and a little water. It will do nothing to protect her from the predators that come and take what little she has left. It can not even begin to heal her heart. She needs you, Lord. She needs you to heal what is broken and she needs people. Your people! To comfort. To clothe. To bring safety. Please let me be one of them, and please, don’t forget your daughter, Tracey. Amen.”

And now I’m asking you, my friends…will you help me in remembering Tracey today? Will you pray with me for her safety? I’ve reached out to several local people to see if we can get her a place to stay. She can’t go to the homeless shelter. She gets raped there. I’m sorry if that is uncomfortable for you but, that is the sad reality of so many women on our streets. This woman desperately needs a HOME, with doors that she can lock, where she can live her life in peace. Please send positive thoughts, prayers, and love her way, and help me find a home for Tracey!

(P.S. If you are local to the Northern Colorado area, and you know of a place for rent, or any other way that we can help Tracey please comment on here, or send an email to: happylittlesurprises@ gmail.com. Thank you! -Ruthie)

Today is a Good Day.

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Today is a good day
For coffee and reading poetry
And taking a look at the grains
Of wood
And sand
That make up the fiber
Of my being
And my time here on earth.

Today is a good day
For resting and pausing
To reflect on all the things that become beautiful
With time
And love
And how nothing can
Come between
That isn’t meant to be.

Today is a good day
For remembering how good it
really is and how it will always be
Beautiful, and
Sweet
With friendship and coffee
And words and laughter,

For those are the things
That make this day good
And nothing can take,
Replace, or
Exchange
This happiness and
this bliss,                                                         for it is mine
And yours
And as long as it’s me and you,                     It will always be a good day.

-ruthie gayle