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When I found out we were pregnant, something resonated in me:  “Do it differently, Amanda.”

As I’ve previously shared, I’d always been terrified I’d end up the neurotic mom from ‘Modern Family.’ Was I going to lose myself?  Would I become a high maintenance control freak? Would my life revolve around my children?  Would I end up trying to keep up with the Jones’ like our American culture demands? Would financial constraints turn me into a resentful monster?  

Part of me also couldn’t shake icky feelings from my days as a server in Los Angeles, waiting on moms who expected everyone’s existence to revolve around their very special children.  A-very special children.  Or rather, audacious moms and dads, that expected you to be a babysitter, allowing kids to play in the middle of an aisle with an entire backpack of sprawled out toys while you’re serving hot coffee in a tight diner setting.  UGH.  It can leave a bad taste in your mouth for sure.  

But when a friend recently asked what I meant by wanting to do motherhood differently, I was dumbfounded to be at a loss.  What the heck did I mean?  Where does this idea resonate from? Am I just totally full of shit?!  My kid is sure to the color on the walls– I’m not that naive, but how do I want to do it differently?  

In the brief moments I have to actually connect with Baby Soul, I let this idea marinate.  I asked my friend Stacer (now Aunt Stacer!!!) to send me articles about unconventional parenting and like the pro that she is, she has supplied me with articles and podcasts about living minimally, or selling everything to travel the world.  Thus far, I’ve hinted to my sweetie, nothing says good parenting like zip lining through the jungles of Africa and he wasn’t having it.  HE NEVER LETS ME DO ANYTHING!!!!  *hogs remote to watch 127th hour of HGTV* 😉

Before getting pregnant I watched ‘Captain Fantastic.’  SUCH A GOOD MOVIE!!  It’s such an unknown, little independent gem.  If I had the Harvard education and insane physique, I would be over the moon to raise my kids off the grid in the mountains.  Well, “Power to the people!” minus the plot twists.  😉  

Talking with my BF (now Aunt BF!!!) about our shared love of this movie, she suggested I read some queer parenting literature.  After scratching my head for a minute, she mentioned it’s Unconventional Parenting 101.  DUH.  Very true! That’s kind of a brilliant idea. 

I also began thinking about parents I did admire.  Friends that have traveled to Mexico or Italy with their newborn and haven’t let being parents stop them.  Parents that brought their kids to every social party their friends were throwing because having kids wasn’t going to stop them from a social life.  Parents that are still making music videos or auditioning despite being moms and dads.  Parents where the mom brings home the bacon and dad plays Mr. Mom.  Etc, etc, etc… 

In a podcast, I remember Elizabeth Gilbert (now Aunt Liz!!!!)  sharing a story about her mother going into her room and shutting the door behind her two kids.  They knew that for an hour every day, it was mommy’s writing time.  Soon, mommy’s writing time became Liz’s writing time and she still recalls the impact that had on her as a young girl.  She didn’t view it as selfish or mean, it’s just what mom does and it taught them to play on their own and develop their own creativity. WHAT A GIFT!!!

In my ‘Psychic Teachers’ podcast with Deb Bowen and Samantha Fey (LOVE THIS PODCAST!), Samantha talks about doing the same.  Once nap time was over for her girls at a certain age, she introduced ‘alone time.’  The girls would spend an hour a day doing their own thing alone in their room.  They write, they listen to music, etc. This allows their mom to spend time mediating or having the alone time she desperately needs as a psychic to cleanse and get her work done. Not to mention the girls have learned to love it as well!

Obviously, I’m still figuring it out (and have a sneaky suspicion I will be for the rest of my life 😉 ) but what I do know is that I don’t want to live in fear.  I would love for my kid to backpack through Europe after high school. I would love for Baby Soul to learn to fix cars and ride motorbikes like her dad.  Why not a Mother/Baby Soul photography adventure through Brazil?  Maybe a culinary adventure through Paris?  (Nothing says ‘Make mommy dinner, kid!’ like French cheeses!)  Maybe hiking the PCT?  Maybe it just means we don’t let our (potential) daughter watch Disney princess movies because there’s more to life than finding a man.  I don’t know! 

Painting an elephant in Jaipur would be pretty cool to do with Baby Soul? (Ten year visa!) The men who take care of these elephants in India literally live with them in their cement ‘houses.’ The elephants are so well loved, they are practically family members.

But I will love this adventure…  🙂  And I would LOVE to hear what ‘doing it different’ means to you.  Any ideas you’ve had or stories you’d like to share, it would be a LOT of fun to brainstorm.  Not to mention would help a sista’ out.  xoxo

 

 

 

 

When I think back on 2016, it all seems like a bit of a blur.  It was hard.  I was insanely tired. Burned out. Depressed, anxious, confused, unbalanced;  I felt stuck.  For me, a personal emotional rollercoaster for various reasons. Needless to say, when I stopped to really think of what actually took place, I was shocked. I had forgotten SO much!!! Despite those feelings that made it challenging, 2016 was was an epic year of highlights, a million firsts that will forever change my life. I guess a good reminder to myself that everything doesn’t have to be perfect for life to begin.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how I could top this year so ironically, I’m trepidatious to get into 2017.  But I promise you this, I am TOTALLY open to it being even better!  🙂  

Today, I’m reflecting in gratitude all of the great moments of 2016.  Later tonight, I’m gonna dream big for 2017.  

Here is my list of Top 10 things that happened in 2016 that made it a year I’ll never forget:

  1.  I MARRIED MY SWEETIE!!
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Photo By: Stillpoint Photography

Okay, duh. So I totally remembered getting married.  😉  In an amazing feat, my family and friends pulled off our wedding.  Folks came in from all over the country, every one pitched in.  It really is the best day of your life.  You’re marrying your best friend but also all of these people in your life remind you how much they love you?  It leaves you feeling pretty incredible. 

If only my dad loved me more…  😉

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Photo By: Stillpoint Photography

2.  I WENT TO INDIA!!!!  

India was my first foray into traveling abroad. I used my passport and visa for the first time ever and it felt amazing. We went to Delhi, Agra, Alwar and Jaipur… We got to see a ton, took a cooking class, visited the Taj Mahal, spent time at an orphanage and rode an elephant!  I got to paint her, ride her and give her a nice bath.  Elephants are so warm and leathery.  I loved her.  🙂

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There’s so much to say about India and yet I barely remember it now.  I do my best to live through the photos.  I remember thinking I should be keeping a journal but I didn’t know what to say.  It felt just like rehashing the day.  Now, I totally wish I had.  I forget EVERYTHING. I’m also pretty sure I’ve lost a good chunk of my photos.  I guess that will teach me to use a proper workflow.  

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I literally took thousands of pictures in India.  It overwhelms me to think about how to share them in a way that a) won’t make me crazy and b) that will do the experience justice. I’ve decided it’s pretty much impossible.    

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3.  WE GOT OUR BABIES!!!

There is something about raising little kitties from the time they are just babies.  I am totally their mama!!!  They are so snuggly and comforting… stinky and annoying… But I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  They totally have my heart. And their paws on my face. Sniff, sniff… 

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We got Sophelia The Great and Thomas in early July.  They have gotten so big!!! Wahhhhhh!!!!  Little Thomas we sometimes call ‘Fat Cat’ because he scarfs as much as he can during feedings knowing he has to share!  This morning, as soon as just a few pieces of kitten chow were in the bowl, his head was in there.  I literally had to pour food on top of his head to get it in the bowl. It’s crazy. Poor Sophie just sits there until Thomas pulls back for a breath.  Sophie is still Little Sophie but her name has also morphed into Sophatilla and then Tilla or Little Tilla…  Thomas has the big black patch on his face, Sophie has the little wisp… I love them so  much.

“Come play with us Danny…”

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When I think of how small they were when we first got them… I CANNOT EVEN HANDLE IT.   

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My heart literally aches.  I want to cry ugly tears, dry heave for hours.  Whatever… I just… it is literally painful to think of my babies as babies… 

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4)  OUR FIRST TRIP TO STEHEKIN!

I’ll share more about Stehekin in another blog but if you get the chance to go, do it!  It is a tiny town (?) at the very northern tip of Lake Chelan. 

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My honey and I went after the wedding for a few days to visit our friend Tammy, the most exceptional host.  It was so quiet and peaceful, even despite a terrible cold!  Not to mention gorgeous…

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5) FIRST YEAR WITH MY DSLR!

Talk about life changing… For the first time in my life I had $1500 saved for no reason.  That was the exact amount it was being sold for on our local bulletin board.  A Nikon D7000 with a shutter count of 200 that included a bunch of lenses, bag, cards, etc.  It was a steal and I just knew it was meant to be.  Who needs savings?!  😉   I literally can’t imagine my life without it. Technically I bought the camera in November of 2015 but I was too overwhelmed to really use it till this year. One of my first shots… I look back on this period of my picture taking and it makes me nauseous.  Ha!  All part of the learning curve, a lifelong journey, and I’m overwhelmed by what I still need to learn… but nauseating nonetheless!

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6)  OUR TRIP TO LA!

So much to say about this trip as well!  I’ll be sharing these travel blogs as well very soon! We drove along the coast and it rained nonstop… Despite it all, we had a really great time!

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It was all sunshine when we got to Los Angeles… 

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We went to our friends’ Halloween party…

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Walked around Grand Central Market…   🙂

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7) I LAUNCHED MANDICROCKER!

My little outlet where I get to create lots of fun content, share my experiences and projects… It’s a lot of fun.  A LOT OF WORK.  But I have my fingers crossed that this opens up the doors for it to be a paid gig, or even more, opens doors to be able to travel and shoot.  I would love the inspiration/human interest part of this website to become its own thing maybe?  Who knows!   I love doing it all but I think experiencing a new place through the lens is my favorite form of expression right now. We’ll see!  Again, I’m open to it being whatever it is supposed to… even if it’s just for me!  🙂 

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8)  I BECAME A PAID WRITER!

It occurred to me that I also started writing my Mazama column for the Methow Valley News this year! It is such a little baby stipend each month but it technically makes me a paid writer. AND it is totally a stipend that helps! It is a huge challenge to write these every week.  For starters, there’s not too much happening around these parts, I usually have very little time to put into them but the weekly deadline keeps me disciplined.  I also got to do a couple of side articles for our supplications as well!  Click here if you’d like to read one!  

9)  I BECAME A PAID PHOTOGRAPHER!

Every season, we have a Methow Arts Magazine that comes out locally.  I was asked to do the photography for the Fall Season’s artist, Rick Swanson. It was a HUGE learning curve for me.  I was probably asked to do it before I was ready but I think its important to say yes and trust what the universe brings into your life. 

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I also started doing paid portraits, headshots and family photos– another learning curve but a LOT of fun!

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My seester is soooo pretty.  🙂  🙂  🙂

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10)  SISTER TRIP TO SEATTLE!

We are not sisters that typically vacation together. Usually our incomes allow us to merely survive in big cities, let alone have anything extra, but this year we made it happen.  

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It was a bit of a whirlwind… But when the Sisters Three are together, all is as it should be. 

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SO A LOT OF AWESOME SHIT, RIGHT????  And these are all big events!  That doesn’t even begin to cover other little things that happened.  My friend Glen came to visit us, etc.  That’ll learn me!  

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s Eve and heads into 2017 with full hearts and big dreams.  Anything and everything is possible.  I’m going to do my best to remember how great 2017 is while I’m living in it this time!  😉

Mandi