One month down. I wanted to keep it simple this month and just get a feel for being in front of the camera and working with the intervalometer. It was harder than I thought, but to be completely honest, the hardest part is getting up the courage to post these. And why? I don't know. I'm just not used to being the one in the frame, I guess... Nevertheless, January is done. Bring on February.
click images to enlarge
I've been taking stock of my wardrobe lately and weeding out the things I don't wear, and pulling forward the things that I wear on repeat. It's funny the things that we hold onto *just in case* we want to wear them... or will fit into them by some miracle... I've been dropping inches lately since starting to eat clean again, but let's be honest, I will never fit into that green halter top from college. Nor should I, good Lord...
Can I tell you something kind of silly? I really like being able to have an extensive wardrobe, but I hate shopping, and I need to do it without breaking the bank. So I buy most of my stuff at thrift stores and consignment shops and I'm in a couple of those Buy/ Sell/ Trade groups on Facebook and IG.
I got this grey tunic in a sell and swap that I'm a part of and it's easily my new favorite item in my closet. It's super lightweight, so it'll last me well into the spring, but if I pair it with this fur vest (also bought secondhand) it's warm enough for winter. Side note, I vowed never to buy a fur vest because they remind me of that "See My Vest" song that Mr. Burns sings on the Simpsons- anyone know what I'm talking about? But when I saw this one for just nine bucks at a local thrift shop, I caved and I haven't looked back. It stays in the "wears constantly" section of my closet now. Also in this section: approximately fifty-seven thousand white shirts, and even more black shirts, tanks, tunics, and trapeze slips. It's a sickness...
What's on repeat in your wardrobe lately?
Hat: Old Navy Men's- "borrowed" from husband... and never given back...
Shirt: Hi Beam- secondhand
Vest: no tag- thrifted
Jeans: Old Navy- thrifted
Boots- Target 2014
If you know my daughter, or if you follow our #vessiedressesherself hashtag on Instagram, you know that the child has an affinity for dresses and skirts. The bigger, the more sparkly, the better. I let her dress herself with just a few rules:
1. Must be weather appropriate
2. No jammies
3. No costumes outside the house
The particular dress in question- the cause of much weeping and gnashing of teeth- broke all three of these rules, and I wasn't going to budge. Another tidbit of info you may know regarding my daughter is that she has a flair for the dramatic. But here's what I want her to know about being pretty:
You were in tears on the stairs and I was in no mood to play hostess to your dramatics. We were in a rush. We're not usually in a rush, to be honest. I avoid rushing at all costs and I can mostly get us out the door in a timely manner, but today... we were in a rush. And now this display. And all over a princess dress.
The waterworks on you will surely someday earn you critical acclaim. But this time, real tears welled up in your eyes and rolled down your red cheeks. This time, your tiny four year-old self was truly in the midst of a tragedy. But I said the same thing I usually find myself saying to you in instances such as these,
"You're being ridiculous..."
You quieted. Then sniffled.
"But Mom," you whispered, "if I don't wear a dress, I won't be pretty! I'll be so ugly!"
And you meant it. In your world, your lack of a princess dress was honestly the gauge against which you judged your prettiness. And I was crushed. Who told you that? I mean it. I want names. Who told my barely-been-on-earth-long-enough-to-know-what-pretty-means-daughter that what it meant was a glittery dress and sparkly make up? But more than that, who told you that without those things you would be ugly?
Listen to me, child... pretty is not a physical trait. It's a heart trait. It's a soul trait. Pretty is what happens when your heart is open and loving and kind. Pretty is the sparkle in your eyes that happens from recognizing the pretty hearts in other people, and from building them up over and over when they don't feel so pretty. Pretty is when we see people the way Jesus sees them, and love them the way He would love them... And you have it, baby. The prettiness. That heart is pure, sparkly gold and I've seen it make other people's hearts feel pretty too. Including my own. But pretty didn't come from a box at the store. It came from within.
It's an understanding that you and I and all other women have that regardless of what we're wearing on the outside, our hearts are all the same, and we have to care for each other's hearts in order to keep them that way. Pretty, I mean. And your heart is my responsibility. It's my job to remind you what pretty really is. So let me be clear:
You might not always be fancy, but you will always be pretty.
Your clothes won't always sparkle, but your heart always will.
You can put on make up, but you can't cover up a hateful heart.
The world will sell you glitter in excess, but no amount of flash and shine can ever make you love yourself... that has to come from within... from that pretty heart.
Don't sell yourself short, baby. That that cheap, flimsy dress couldn't possibly hold the entirety of your worth. It doesn't even hold a candle to your beauty. You are made in the image of a God who loves you. You are lovely because he loves you. Inside and out.
I don't know why you love me. I don't deserve you even a little bit- the way you work so hard for our family and encourage me to follow my dreams and love our children and fight for their hearts and point us toward Christ- it's more than I ever could've dreamed of. I love your dreams and ideas and thoughts and laughter and words. I love you. And I'm so... so glad you were born. Happy birthday, my love. Please be mine forever.
I'm not one for putting unnecessary restrictions and obligations on myself, so resolutions aren't really my thing. Instead, I choose a sort of underlying theme for the year. Last year it was "Be Present," and I think it helped me keep my priorities in line throughout the year. But this year, my theme for the year has some big changes that will come along with it.
This year's theme is "Live well..."
This will be a year of not just living life to the fullest, but redefining what it truly means to live *well*- as in, healthy- Redirecting my thoughts about loving myself from giving in to staying strong. Because I love my life, but let me tell you how I've lived it for the past several years: I'm lucky enough to not have any major health scares, but I do suffer from allergies, eczema, frequent headaches, dry mouth, irregular cycles, digestive issues, hip bursitis, sciatica, and chronic neck and back pain. I exist in the no-man's land where exhaustion meets insomnia, and I can't remember the last time my brain felt sharp. I basically subsist on a steady flow of Tylenol and coffee to manage pain and exhaustion. And honestly? Management isn't enough. I want to feel alive again...
Because here's what happens: I think that I'm doing everyone a favor by pretending I'm fine. I push through dull aches and pains until I become desensitized to them. I store it up and shove it aside and a few nights of uncomfortable sleep becomes weeks and months or a year's worth of an issue that is now serious. And I'm done.
I'm done with food that isn't food and being unable to function without medicine or caffeine. I'm done with ignoring what my body is telling me is wrong. It's time to start giving myself and my family the wellness we deserve.
My husband and I started a slow-carb diet in the Fall with great results, but soon realized it wasn't a sustainable option for long-term nutrition. We've settled on a complete lifestyle change of eating mainly whole, unprocessed foods and being diligent about doctor visits: dental, chiro, annual, etc.
No more shrugging off dentist appointments or ignoring back pain or allowing fast food to turn into a habit. This is the year of wellness for us...
What's your 2016 theme going to be?
It's been a beautiful year for us. We bought our dream house, started a business, began homeschooling, and closed a chapter of my photography journey. I wouldn't trade a single second of it, and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for 2016!
Here's a look back at our year:
I mentioned a few posts back that I'm taking time off from my professional photography business in 2016. It's a huge change that I'm excited and terrified about all at the same time! I won't be taking on any clients, but I am really looking forward to a few projects I have rattling around in my head. I’ve decided instead of becoming stagnant, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to relearn myself, and acquire some new photography skills.
Photography is something that will always be a part of who I am. It’s something I’m very passionate about, but I’ve photographed other people’s families for so long, that I’ve sort of fallen into a routine and neglected to really reach outside the box for a while now. I also haven’t been appearing in photos of my own life as much as I’d like. (This is a mom problem. We are always the ones behind the camera and rarely are we able to step in front and express who we really are and be captured in the moment with our family.)
So at the beginning of the year, I’ll be starting a personal project- a Self Portrait Project! One Self-Portrait per month, for the entire year. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have gained some insight into myself as a person- a wife, a mom, a woman- as well as some new photography skills. It will be a creative stretch for me that will require me to think outside the box, and I'm looking forward to the challenge!
I’ll be posting the portraits on the blog each month, as well as a few on Instagram, so you can follow along with the hashtags #everydaylightself, either way, I hope you'll come along for the journey!
I don't presume to think that we live a glamorous life. But I love it so much... I love the light and the love and the laughter we share each and every day. So today, I'm going to share a peek into our #everydaylightlife.
These were each edited using the new Indoor Light Set by Sarah-Beth Photography. I rarely use actions or presets, but these are just so good! Go check them out! Enjoy. (click images to enlarge and read captions)
So how'd it go? Was your Thanksgiving as happy as your Christmas cards are promising me it was? Did the turkey turn out perfectly and on time? Pies set all the way through? Everyone got along and there was no awkward conversation at the dinner table? Was your Thanksgiving outfit on point?
Yeah, us either.
This year, we decided to do something unprecedented: we cooked our own meal, in our own home, for just the four of us. This was a big deal for me, because I'm used to doing Thanksgiving at my grandparent's or in-law's house. Sometimes I bring a pie or a salad if I'm feeling extra thankful. But this year, since it's our first year in the Ahlgrim Haus, we wanted to do it our way, and on our own time.
And my favorite part? My husband volunteered to do ALL the cooking. So here's how it went:
Thursday morning, Ryan got up and started smoking the chicken. (That's right. We're so rogue that we didn't even eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Deal with it.) He also made all the sides and pumpkin pie for dessert, while I kept he kids entertained by watching the parade and letting them help me decorate the Christmas tree. The tree is now only decorated on one side on the bottom third. It's perfect.
The chicken wasn't cooking fast enough, so we sat down and just ate all the sides (which were amazing, by the way) but before we dug in, we took a self-timer photo of the whole clan at the Thanksgiving table. In our pajamas. And out of nearly thirty frames, ZERO got our faces in focus (Although, that half-decorated Christmas tree in the background is looking sharp!)
Here she is in all her out of focus, unedited, sleepy-eyed, pajama-clad glory:
And yes. I do this for a living. Not nearly as easy as it looks...
We did put on real clothes and venture out to see family (and have an extra slice of pie or seven), and one of us thought it was a grand idea to stand in the rain on Thanksgiving evening to get two TVs...
He was right. We have two new TVs.
It was crazy. It was so unplanned and thrown together and so out of character for us, and it looked nothing like the prettied up versions of Thanksgiving that we always want to project to the world... and you know what? I loved it. We had the best Thanksgiving I can remember... perfectly imperfect.
I hope yours was too.
Our century-old home has over a dozen windows on the ground floor alone, and many of them still have the original antique glass in them. They are magnificent. Each piece is unique and has waves and twists and imperfections that make them special. When the afternoon sun filters through trees and through the wavy glass, it makes the light dance across dusty old floors and various pieces of furniture- almost as if they were ablaze with fire. They’re a filter, these windows, and looking through them is a bit like watching the world through water- shapes bending and moving, refusing to stay still- and everything seems to move just a bit more slowly. Looking through them can be disorienting and hypnotic and peaceful. I can’t decide which I love more- the light burning in, or the water dancing out…
My daughter will be four in a little over a week, and thinking back on our last five years is like looking through the wavy glass. I can remember desperation and hopelessness in the year-and-a-half that it took to finally conceive our little girl. I remember months of being uncomfortable in my new, rounded body, carrying life inside of it. I remember a delivery that was a breeze, and weeks after that were some of the loneliest times I’ve ever experienced as I battled post-partum depression and desperately clawed my way back into light. From there, it’s all a blur of moving shapes that refuse to stand still- watching her fly through milestones and learn new things, another positive pregnancy test, and seeing my baby hold my new baby. Fits of screaming and flailing as we learned our new normal and she stepped into her role as “big” sister, even tiny as she was. Phases I thought we’d never grow out of; the bad ones, yes- refusing naps, throwing food, and oh the potty training regression- but the good ones too: open-mouth kisses, learning to walk on wobbly, chubby legs, sweetly sleeping with her feet tucked underneath her tiny frame…
But here we are four years later… dancing in the burning light of our wavy glass windows…
My name is Chelsea. Redeemed. Wife. Mommy. Photographer. Light Chaser. I hope you find light here too.