100 Stories, A Personal Project | June Stories

I began this year working on a project called "100 Stories". The idea was to create 100 images during the year that told a story and to write a little narrative to go along with each. I think I am already close to 80 images, so will likely be finishing out 2017 with quite a few more than 100 stories. This project is hard. I can't phone it in - especially the writing part. I have to make sure I have focused time to work on the narratives. Looking through the album of the project so far though, I am so glad that I have stuck with it. This year has been a challenge for me - I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety and it seems like my kids have been sick constantly. Looking back over the project images, I see though that there were a lot of good moments amidst the trying ones. It's a good reminder about "perspective".

So this was June. A busy month, with school finishing, pre-K graduation, more sickness, the start of summer, Granny and Pea arriving for a visit, Logan's birthday, and much more.

Watching her with her friends brings me pure joy. She has such an ease about her. She loves other children. In fact, she thrives on company. Her whole demeanor changes when she is engaged in play with other kids. It's like the lights turn on. It seems strange now that I ever worried about her. She is open, imaginative, fun, funny, creative, kind, and compassionate. She is brave. She is a leader. She is a listener. She is everything I wish I could be. 

Nothing signals the start of summer like bubbles. They are summer's signature - at least around here. When the weather finally began to warm, I drove to Toys R Us with Logan one afternoon to prepare. We loaded up our cart with jugs and jugs of Gazillion Bubbles and made our way home with them. On that first evening, when we finally broke them out, after such a long, hard winter, it was like every bubble was carrying my cares away. I exhaled over and over again. Summer was finally, finally, FINALLY here.

Oh it has been a year for sickness. All the way up until the end of the school year. Strep throat the final week of school. We have had it pretty easy up until this year. But now I keep getting pulled under by anxiety. Every cough, every sniffle, and I fear the sickness is back. I try to focus on the big picture. That's when taking so many pictures actually comes in handy. I look back over my pictures of the past seven months and realize that the sick days were actually pretty few compared to the healthy days. So why does it seem like the opposite? Why do I live in dread of the next sickness? Lila has been learning about compartmentalizing conflicts or problems into "big deals" and "small deals". Is it a big deal, or a small deal? This translates into how she should appropriately react. I try to ask myself the same question. Is this a big deal or a small deal? Logically I know it is small. Kids get sick. Then they get better. Its not the end of the world. Then why so often, am I feeling like it is such a big deal??

On the day you turned three, you decided it was as good a day as ever to participate in your first tug o'war. Never mind that most of the kids were at least two years older than you and quite a bit bigger. You pushed your way in between the two boys anchoring the rope, and tugged and tugged with all your might. Your little body was squashed between two others, and you struggled not to fall, but you held your own. You are strong, you are determined, you are brave, you are sure. This is Logan at three.

We started a marble jar system this week. Summer is a challenge, having you both home everyday. The bickering has been unreal at times. And the whining, and the asking for the TV, and on and on and on. My friend Juliet told me about this marble system that she used with her girls when they were growing up, and now much they loved it. So, we are giving it a shot. We went out the other day to a dollar store and bought two jars and a ton of marbles. The rules: Do good, be kind = get a marble. Whine, cry, hit each other, growl, have a bad attitude = lose a marble. When they reach the line I have designated with a rubber band on each jar, they get a treat (probably a one-on-one date with me). So far the system is working really well. Arguments are at a minimum. I wish it didn't take bribery to get you guys to be nice to each other, but sometimes a mom has gotta do what a mom has gotta do!

Granny and Grampy arrived last week and we spent two lovely weeks with them. How lucky you both are to have two sets of such loving grandparents. I hope you tuck away the memories of the last two weeks deep inside your hearts and go back to them often. 

 "All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world."

—L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

Never one to hide your feelings. You express your enthusiasm and joy in equal measure with your frustration and unhappiness. Some days the ups and downs can be quite the rollercoaster, but I admire your openness, your expressiveness, your ability to emote - on both ends of the spectrum. It seems like most kids possess this ability and then at some point it dissipates and we start holding back, we become reserved, we internalize. Or maybe that's just me. I hope you never change.

Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. If you'd like to see more of her recent documentary family photography, head over to her Facebook page or follow her everyday adventures on Instagram. If you are looking for a family photographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family's story in photos or a film, please contact her for a session!