Maya Laurent Photography
simple is beautiful
Ending Well

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There are so many things we want to pass onto our children but certain ones stick out. Number one, we want our children to know God, love him and run after him and his crazy ways, no matter how strange it seems to others. The next, to love others in a way that shows God’s love to them. And, to never stay in a comfortable place, to jump outside of that zone and go for it if God’s calling you to it. As Bob Goff would say, “Love God, Love People, Do Stuff.”

Part of jumping out of that comfort zone will be failing. We don’t want them to have a fear of failing because we learn so much from it. And other times they might not fail really, but it will just look different than they originally thought.

And that’s exactly where we stand today. Today, we closed the door to our studio/offices for the last time. When we started this whole journey to create The Blank Space we felt like God was screaming at us to take the leap of faith, get a space and also have my office there. And we did it. We had so much help from friends and family who came to work on getting the space ready to donating everything from paint to tile. When I walked around this afternoon, I looked at it all and remembered the smiling faces of our friends as they laid laminate flooring, painted walls and the teenagers that were spray painting chairs in the front lawn. It all feels like just yesterday and yet God has taught us so much in the past couple of years.

First of all, we still do not have a non-profit status for The Blank Space. We are going on the third year in waiting, have only heard back once about additional questions (which they gave us a week to respond…after they took almost two years to get to that) and now nothing again. It’s super frustrating and The Blank Space evolved as we tested out students coming in after school and finding out there was more a need for art shows for teenagers. We hope to still continue those and offer scholarships eventually to those pursuing art in college, but for the meantime, we have to let it sit until we hear back from the government.

Due to the evolution of the space, I had taken over more space than I needed. Truly, I only need a space to meet my clients for consultations and ordering appointments. Pat having an office was a luxury. Before Veda was born, we had been feeling out the idea of leaving the space and moving our work space back home. As you know, we have a small house but we knew we could make it work. We waited on those thoughts for several months and God certainly showed us that it was time to close the door on this chapter. We hung on a bit longer because so many had helped with their hands and funds. Friends came to the space to prayer for us and what would happen there. We didn’t want to let them down. But someone reminded us that those people choose to serve us and that alone shows how God was moving. Finally, we decided to move on, we figured out a way for me to meet clients outside of our home and we’ll be doing the rest of work from our family homestead.

Once we made the final decision and started moving forward on leaving, things started happening. Pat has been doing awesome work and God reaffirmed some things in my business too. Plus, we’re already realizing what it means for our family and the time we’re together or available for one another. We have a dream of having a home with a little bit of land and a barn or garage we can turn into a studio space for both of us. Paying rent to someone else just didn’t make sense if we ever want this to happen. We’ll see if that is what God has in store for us.

The bright blue door welcomed us this afternoon as we carried in cookies to have a picnic treat on the floor. We did the same thing with our family when we first got the space, eating pizza on the floor and talking about all the people that would come in and out of the space once we had it ready.

Here is what I know…God showed up in that space. Friends filled it to get it ready, students helped prepare it for kids their own age. It became a place that five-six students came twice a week and bonded with each other and Pat. The first art show held in the space had over 100 people show up, causing us to hold the next show offsite for more space. I laughed with with my clients as I got to know them. I watched moms and dads cry as they viewed the photos I captured of their seniors. I’ve hugged moms as they’ve shared with me stories of struggling with their teens and I’ve watched confidence rise in front of me as a senior sees her photos for the first time. He’s been there the whole time…filling that space.

We’ve been talking very openly about all this with the boys and Zane said last night he was “feeling a little sad about it and excited too.” And that’s where we all seem to be right now. Sad for the ending of something we envisioned and truly felt God’s push towards. But yet we are excited because God’s tugging us another way. I can’t say that I understand it because I’m still confused a bit but God doesn’t always move in ways that are for us to grasp 100%. I do know that I look back on the past couple of years and I am proud of us for going for it. For stepping out in faith and saying yes. It might not have “failed” completely…rather it just looked different. As Pat prayed for us, standing in the middle of the empty space, with our boys not understanding the depth we were feeling everything, I had tears running down my cheeks. Honestly, they’ve been flowing frequently tonight. We are at peace with this decision and how God has led us there but it still hurts to leave a place we really did love.

The future is unknown and I know God will only continue to pull us towards him and what he desires for us to do for this world to bring glory to him…whether we understand it completely or not.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

Jude: 3+10 Months

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Jude,

Oh our joyful, energy filled boy…you lighten our days! I adore the above photo of you. It captures your love for life so well. You take it all in with TOTAL excitement with your WHOLE body. Sometimes it can be a bit much for others to handle but Daddy and I are learning to recognize it for what God has given you to show others joy and it’s something we never want to change about you.

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You have always been our helper but the past couple months you have taken on permanent roles as head gardener and baker in our house. You are always at my side pulling weeds in the garden, watering and picking our ripe veggies and berries. Now if I could just get you to eat all of the veggies that would be a huge success! I can barely start to get ingredients out in the kitchen before you run over, pull up a chair and ask if you can stir or pour something to help. I love kissing the top of your head as you whisk together what we’re making. You have no patience for ice cream making and cannot understand why we have to wait for it to become ice cream. It cracks me up every time.

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Since Zane has started school it’s been fun to have some time with just you and Veda. Because you have a big brother, you tend to “play up” when it comes to toys and watch shows that are more for Zane’s age. But when Zane isn’t around you go after the things you are into like Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, playing trains and constantly playing board games. You drive us crazy with the board games and making up your own rules for the ones which are a little advanced for you. But we play along and get out all the Battleship pieces just to put the red on the boats and say we sunk them without ever really playing. This is what parents do!

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You have such a go-go personality and your body seems to decide to just shut down on you sometimes. Now that you have dropped your nap (not my choice, you just weren’t napping anymore), we really have seen the crashing in funny spots happen more often. It seems to be about once a week that you pass out in the car or someplace else and are so deep in sleep that we can’t wake you for anything.

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I love watching you and Zane play. When you’re playing well together it’s a pure joy to see you two imagining dragons in our house, making our pillows into brick walls you can’t pass and hiding in the shadows like ninjas. When you fight, I want to become a ninja myself and knock the meanness out of you two! You two go for the blood and know exactly how to annoy one another to each others’ breaking point. I know it’s normal but I catch myself having to take deep breaths so I don’t scream at the top of my lungs to STOP IT or just walk out the door and hope you guys don’t burn down the house fighting over the broken Spiderman who is missing an arm! We really don’t want to be referees for the rest of our lives so we are trying to teach you guys how to work it out. Hopefully this continues to develop!

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You make the funniest faces right now. There’s one where you curl your lip a bit, which is usually followed by the phrase “I’m nervous.” You don’t seem to even know what the word nervous means but you continue to say it. You also love port-a-potties. Yes, you can share that with your kids one day! You used one with me at the IMA one day and were fascinated by it, touching everything, saying how cool it was. Yuck! Since then, every time we see one, which is a lot with all the construction around us right now, you yell PORT-A-POTTY! We have laughed so hard from this we have been crying.

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You continue to try everything your big brother does. Right now you follow him on your bike as he rides his bike up and down the street and down GaGa and PaPa’s hill. But know this buddy, just because your big brother is doing it, you don’t have to jump into it too fast! It makes us feel like you are growing up at turbo speed. You had been so excited to go back to school since Zane started and leading up to your first day talked about your friends none stop. Of course, the first day of preschool this year looked a lot like last year with you refusing a photo. I have a feeling I’m going to have to get used to this each year.

Thank you Jude for continuing to bring joy to our family in ways that we least expect it. You have such a gift for making others smile!!!

Love you,

Momma & Daddy

Veda: Two Months

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Veda,

Hello two months! You are growing so much, in fact way faster than your brothers ever did. Two pounds in a month is normal for lots of babies but it’s never been the norm in our family. But you’ve been eating like a champ and it shows.

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These past few weeks have been another round of changes for our family with Zane going back to school and you dropping your late night feeding time. When we asked Zane what he was worried about with going back to school it was the fact that he wouldn’t get to see you as much. He has wanted to hold you before he goes to school and right when he gets home. You two have such a special bond.

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Your relationship with Jude might be a bit a different. Not because he doesn’t love you dearly, but because you two are closer in age. You seem to already know when it’s Jude that is coming in for the kiss or hug. You instantly get the sad lip going and can’t decide if you should be happy or upset. It might be that he is a bit overwhelming with his affection whether it be too tight of a hug or just smothering you with attention. Before leaving the house recently, I went to fill water bottles up and looked over to see Jude sitting on top of you in your carseat! After yelling at your brother and checking if you were okay, you just looked at me like you were thinking he was crazy. Jude told me he was “keeping you warm.” I hope you know that he loves you dearly and says the absolute sweetest things about you. He just might be a little rough but we can already tell you’ll go with the flow.

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To watch our house go from two children to three has been a gradual change but we’re starting to see the differences. I now have way more laundry to do than before! Surprisingly, our house doesn’t feel too cramped with your swing and bouncy seat placed in different spots throughout the day. You are so easy going with being the third child. We always feel so bad when we have to put you in the seat while we get breakfast or dinner ready but we all talk to you and try to keep you entertained. You watch us with the wide eyes and attempt to take it all in. There’s a lot going on during those moments in our house!

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We try to have you join us for reading time whenever you’re awake but we’ve learned it puts you to sleep. I let Zane hold you the other day while I ran to the bathroom and came in to find him reading to you, except you weren’t paying attention…you were passed out! One day the books will keep you interested. You seem to like to sit on my lap in the morning when we have our Bible study time with the boys so maybe you’ll stay awake for that!

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It’s funny how keeping up with the house work, running two businesses and juggling everyone’s schedules and needs catches up with us. Daddy and I have our days that we are exhausted but a new rhythm is settling in and our family seems to be grasping it. Like I said before, you just go with the flow and can handle sleeping through the sweeper, your brothers yelling loudly as they race around the house and you love music (it’s another thing that you pass out to). You’ve survived many dance parties and sword fights too. Thankfully you’ve only been hit by the sword once and it was a foam one. Whew! You didn’t even react!

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You are the only girl in the mix of cousins and somehow you fit already.   Your cousins love hugging and kissing you too and you sleep through all their cousin loudness! We keep laughing thinking about how you will fit into the boys running around the lake house yard, swimming in the lake and arguing about sharing. We kind of think you’ll be bossing all four of the boys around telling them what to do but we will see. Both sets of grandparents love any time they can get with you and don’t believe in you sleeping in a bed. They would much rather hold you!

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As you have become more alert we’re noticing things you like to do, or pay attention to at least. Your “jungle gym” keeps you looking at everything and Jude always chooses to join you during that time. Of course, the gym is all twisted somehow (my guess is this has to do with your brothers playing with it), but you could care less. You are trying to focus on everything right now and it’s so funny to watch you follow sounds and movement around the room, especially your brothers or Luna. Sometimes this means you are moving your head back and forth, back and forth until you just give up.

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One of the best parts of this past month is your smile has arrived! I’ve only captured it on camera a few times because the second I bring the camera up you look at it like “What is that and where did my Momma’s face go?” At first, you were just smiling for me and your grandmas but now you do it for Daddy and your brothers too. You get this huge grin with your tongue out and all. You have Daddy’s squinty eyes when you smile. This past week has brought about all kinds of new sounds from you. Every time you make a new sound the boys go crazy and start laughing. It’s precious.

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Your cry is so different than your brothers at your age. You start off with snorting and crying and if you are really mad it turns into the screechy scream. I can only imagine what this will sound like as a toddler!

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You still remain Daddy’s little girl and pass out on him in the strangest of positions. Your favorite is to just let your head hang a little over his arm. You also get in all kinds of crazy positions while sleeping in your swing and bouncy seat, with your head turned in a way that looks so uncomfortable. We’ve started to notice that you are soaking your crib sheet because you suck on your arm or your fist as you fall asleep. You are fierce with it! If it enables you to sleep from 8:30pm till 6:30am like you are right now we will take it!!!

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A few days ago I was stressed about a lot of different choices Daddy and I have to make right now. I was holding you as you were drifting off to sleep and letting my mind take me to stressful situations. Watching you breathe deeply as you attempted to fight off sleep reminded me how precious our time is with you and your brothers. We have created a family work/life style that isn’t for everyone but it is perfect for us. We get to have flexibility to be with you more often and at times that might be hard to balance but it’s completely worth it.

We love you precious girl!

Momma & Daddy

 

July Reading Lately

One thing I’m so happy I mastered as a nursing mom is how to hold a book and nurse at the same time. With Zane, I watched a whole lot of TV and it actually made me feel worse about myself as a new mom. Whether I wasn’t able to cook the meal from Food Network or knew that exploring the world on the Travel Channel wasn’t in the cards anytime soon, it made my current position feel less than ideal, even though it was a beautiful place to be. So with Jude I picked up a book and began to read during the times that I fed him. Yes I spend time looking at Veda and just taking her in too as she feeds but sometimes you need to keep yourself awake and a book helps do that for me. Here are the books I read in July as I fed her and dreamed of her reading one day too.

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1. Carry On, Warrior: This was a perfect book to read after having a new baby. Melton does such a great job of making you feel normal as a mom and realizing the lack of perfection that should come with it. I loved the honesty and openness within the book.

2. The Silver Chair: I have been reading the boys the Chronicles of Narnia. We are starting from the beginning but I wanted to refresh my memory on the other stories so I dove into The Silver Chair. I’m always amazed at Lewis’ way with words and connecting God into these children’s’ classics.

3. One Thousand Gifts: Many people have recommended this book over the past couple of years and I’ve never gotten around to reading it. Again, another wonderful read with a new baby. As I finished the book, I decided to begin writing down a few things each day I am thankful for…which has been a beautiful experience so far. (Although due to the new baby…I haven’t always done it every single day). There are parts of this book that are gut-wrenching but so true to life.

4. The List: I have to jump into a YA book every once and awhile, or sometimes a whole lot more frequently. This book takes you through the starting day of an annual list of prettiest/ugliest showing up at the high school. Each girl that is on the list then tells her story of what happens after being named pretty or ugly. It was a simple read but actually a great perspective on high school drama and troubles.

5. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald: I kept putting this book on hold at the library and I could never go grab it when it came in. Finally I got my hands on it and dug into the story of Fitzgerald’s wife. Being the Great Gatsby fan that I am, this fictional account of Fitzgerald’s life, with his wife and involving Hemingway, was one that kept me interested in the next turn of events. It was interesting to read about all the research Fowler did for the book and how she tried her best to base it on true accounts. Truly fascinating to have a different perspective on the Fitzgeralds.

6. Hands Free Mama: Oh how I needed this book and all the reminders it held within! The title pretty much speaks to the book’s contents but I was happy to see how it explored other areas beyond just technology-free ideas. I was thankful for the eye-opener on things I do as a parent that distract me from taking in this stage of life with my children. I took a ton of notes of wonderful nuggets of inspiration.

52 Weeks: June & July

Keeping up with the whole 52 Week Project did not come as easy towards the end of my pregnancy and once Veda arrived. However, I’ve tried my best and here is my attempt!

June 2nd Week: Jude got his first black eye while wrestling with Pat and Zane. I say first because I’m sure there will be more with this active child. I was just thankful it went away before Veda arrived so he wasn’t in every photo with his baby sister with a black eye!

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Zane still cannot take a normal photo. He cracks me up.

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June 9th Week: Skipped this week…Veda arrived and that week was crazy!

June 16th Week: Our family was a bit exhausted from a new baby in our house. Some of us fell asleep with swords tucked into our shirts.

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Zane makes his bed and sets up all his stuffed animals. He’s even filmed his stuffed animals before, describing each one in detail.

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Miss Veda! Oh how sweet she is when she passes out.

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June 23rd & 30th Weeks: I’m combining these because with a new baby, again, I didn’t get to pull out the camera a ton…except for Veda!

Jude loves fishing at the lake. He hasn’t caught a single thing but he will stand out there all day trying.

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I can’t capture enough photos of Zane being so precious with Veda. He has taken on such a caregiver role to her.

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Veda relaxing at the lake because that’s what the lake is for!

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July 7th Week: Veda sleeps all the time with her hands like this and when she gets startled she swings them to her middle in a movement we refer to her as “Michael Jackson” because it looks like something out of Thriller.

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We have come to the stage where showing off your muscles is fun.

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Jude does not understand how the showing off of muscles works though.

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