January Portrait

We live in Grammie's backyard. Her brick house has a long wooden ramp off the back porch for easy access for the elder members of our family. But no one delights more in this ramp than August. Every sunshine moment, he asks to race trucks on Grammie's ramp. 

In the afternoon, after the boys wake from their naps, we drive the trucks over to Grammie's ramp. August runs up and down the ramp, pushing his yellow metal Tonka truck. I kick his blue plastic truck up the ramp to him. The wheels are smaller than the Tonka wheels so it gets stuck often. Boston squeals in my arms. To the joy of both boys, I sit Boston in the back of the blue truck and push him up the ramp, down the ramp and through the grassy yard. They giggle in delight.


The 52 Project: What I Learned

Week 42 of 52
Week 50 of 52

The 52 Project was a challenge to take a portrait of my boys once a week every week in 2015. Whew! What an undertaking! I recently finalized the project and I am here to tell you that it ended up being just as big of an undertaking as I thought it would. At no point did I think to myself "my, this is a simple memory keeping process." I learned a few things in the process:

  1. Set up a weekly processing time. I should have established a method for weekly picture selection and editing. I thought a blog post would be incentive enough to keep me on track but as soon as I fell behind, I had little motivation to catch up. I would have had more success had I scheduled a set time each week.
  2. Take pictures with portraits in mind. I intended to use this as an exercise developing my portrait photography. In reality, I scanned the images I shot throughout the week and picked my favorite. As a result, I do not think my portraiture or photographic eye developed much as a result of this project.
  3. Learn your photography style. I am not sure if that is even a legitimate term but what I mean is that I prefer images that capture bits of the subject's character. Some weeks I selected pictures that were just good, clear photographs. But my favorite images from the year- the ones I want to blow up and hang in frames throughout our home- are the ones where August and Boston's character is oozing through. -- August, bent in concentration stirring a puddle with a yellow leaf. Boston, determined to sleep through company with his jaw set tight and his head cocked up. -- This realization about my photographic style might have made the whole effort worth it. 
In hindsight, I realize that I should not have tried to take on this project the year we added a baby to the family. That was HARD. In addition to our regular family memory keeping practices, Brandon and I already have a rigorous "first year of baby" documenting process. I've shared a bit about my process here. Brandon makes seasonal short films of the boys in order to compile one long movie highlighting the first year of life. Adding a weekly portrait goal was a bit overwhelming. I am not sure what I am going to do with the pictures. Our family albums are already brimful of pictures and memories. Perhaps I will use these pictures as a sort of highlights reel photobook of its own. 

I may try this again in a few years but I do not think this is going to be a central element to our memory keeping framework. That is what I love about memory keeping though- you can easily try new elements and drop old ones that do not work. In 2014, I took a monthly photo of our family of three. In 2015, I took weekly individual portraits of our sons. In 2016, I am going to take monthly portraits of our boys. My aim in the photos is to capture their relationship dynamic. 

What are your memory keeping goals for 2016? Are you trying a new practice? I would love to hear.


Made to Play: December 2015 Family Video

This was our December and Boston's first Christmas. 


(A note on video quality: Unfortunately, blogger will not allow me to upload a larger resolution video. I recommend you do not watch it in full screen. Cheers.)


Capture the Day Session: Winter 2016

Our Day
January 22, 2016
54 degrees and rainy
James Island, SC

8:30 am
The boys are both up in the night. Boston falls asleep after an hour of wakefulness around 3 am and doesn't wake until twenty to nine. August joins us in bed at 6:30 and sleeps until just past 8. We send him to his room for about 20 minutes. He sneaks back in with two white cards from the inside of his library books. He hands one to me and says, "here is your ticket, sir." Brandon gets in the shower for work as August takes his place, turning our bed into a train. He brings his magna doodle with him. He drops it on my face. "You draw a truck for me, sir?" I am drowsy from sleep but rise to dress before Boston wakes. Brandon and August go downstairs and I join them with Boston a few minutes later. Boston is all smiles after a five hour stretch of sleep. I start the coffee before Brandon offers to take over the task for me.

9:00 am
Brandon leaves for work and I prepare a breakfast of leftover chai waffles and oatmeal pancakes. I whip up a quick raspberry and blueberry compote and top them with almond butter before slathering with the fruit. Boston drinks water and eats some waffle. I clean them both up and straighten the kitchen. August asks for "sesal" (cereal) so I give him Cheerios in a yellow bowl. We pick two truck pictures for August to color "for marker time, not crayon time." Boston plays with various rattle toys on the floor. He works his way to the little white table and suddenly pulls himself up to stand at it. He grabs the bowl of Cheerios and spills them everywhere. August is a pretty good sport and laughs about it with me as we whisk them out of Boston's way.

10:00 am
The boys play in the cardboard train, our very own Monkey Man Express. My old green trunk is behind it and August has taken to calling it a freight car. He asks repeatedly for me to "put Boston on the freight car, Mumma." At half past, Boston and I go upstairs for nursing and naptime. It is dark and quiet from the rain. I rock him in our glider and hold him close for a few precious moments.

11:00 am
August and I rearrange and clean the downstairs a bit. We roll up the rug to return to Lowe's, move the desk to the French doors, vacuum, dust and bring down the art easel. Boston wakes at 11:40 when I go upstairs to retrieve Sneezy for August. We listen to Charlotte's Web on audiobook as we play and work. The boys play on either side of the plastic-wrapped rug: August with his playmobils and Boston with the Monkey Man Express and various toys within.

12:00 pm
Boston moves over the floor by pushing himself to sitting then launching forward in the opposite direction. He dives back and forth over the rolled-up rug. I turn on Rend Collective Pandora station and begin to prepare our lunch. We are eating a variety of leftovers: sweet potatoes for Boston, a roast beef sandwich for August and beef stew for me.

1:00 pm
After I clean the boys up from their lunch, I carry them both upstairs. The rain is still falling and covering our porch and stairs. They play for twenty minutes with the police car and monster truck. Boston crawls around the room squealing. I  read a "Mater" story to August on the couch. Because I'm feeling brave or foolish or curious, I set up the pack n play in August's room. We are going to try napping the boys together in the afternoon. I nurse Boston on the couch while August reads books on our bed. Boston fusses when I put him down so I read two stories to August and reheat a cup of coffee.

2:00 pm
Once Boston settles, I put August in his bed. He snuggles in, plays with his magna doodle and falls asleep within 15 minutes. I sip my coffee, text mom about our packing day tomorrow and open my book to read.

3:00 pm
Boston wakes crying  so I quickly close my book and scoop him up before he wakes August. Within 15 minutes, August is also awake. Downstairs, Boston plays on the floor with his toys, I make pizza dough for dinner and August watches Thomas: Splish, Splash, Splosh. We all eat apple slices and August pulls the cookie butter from the cupboard. His smile is too charming to turn down. I catch up on my Capture the Day notes and play with squeely Boston. August brings his empty bowl. "What do I want?" "I don't know, August What do you want?" "Something. Something like Cheerios or puffs." I give him a few wheat thins.

4:00 pm
Boston and I are dancing around the kitchen when Thomas ends. August comes in and runs circles around us sort of hopping and skipping at once. "Splish splash splosh!" he cries as he dances with Sneezy in the kitchen. Then he stops and hugs Sneezy to his chest. "Oh, Sneezy it's ok. You don't like being wet. I'll sit here beside you while you dry." They sit on kitchen floor next to each other for a few seconds. I snap a picture. August turns around and says "no Mumma, no picture."

During this commiserating, Boston crawls to the living room. I look up and he is under the coffee table going straight for Chopper (our heater). We dash over to stop him. August thinks it is a great laugh that Boston crawled under the coffee table and joins him. They both move on to the rolled up rug once more. I explain to August that we will be returning it to Lowe's. I then say, "I am going to take you back to the store to live at Lowe's too." He stares at me, assessing. "No," he answers sternly. "I can't live there alone. I put my work shirt on and I get a piece of wood and I build a house. For you and Boston and Daddy and me." He smiles, proud of his idea.

5:00 pm
Brandon returns from work early and we video call David to wish him a happy birthday. The kids show each other their toys and talk about presents. August tells David he has a train table and David says "wow! that costs a lot of money." I roll out the pizza dough on parchment paper and top the pizzas with sauce, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. While the pizza bakes, I pop popcorn on the stove and set the table.

6:00 pm
August fusses when it is time to clean up his kinetic sand. He likes to bury his trucks in the "dribbly" sand. Once I show him the bowl of popcorn, he scurries off to the bathroom to clean up. We eat fast tonight. Boston munches on apple slices and sweet potato. He squeals for water often.  Brandon and August clean dishes while Boston and I tidy the toys.

7:00 pm
Upstairs, we dress the boys in their pajamas. August requests that I change him so Brandon struggles with Boston's flailing limbs. The night changing is the most difficult as Boston is squirmy and irritable. August brushes his teeth then runs off to play with his train table. We give Boston a bit more water and wrap him in his night blanket. August comes into Boston's nook to turn on his sound machine and say goodnight. I nurse and rock Boston to sleep. Brandon reads "Train" and "Bobbo Goes to School" to August before prayers and bed. I sneak into August's room for a good night hug and read him one last book in bed. I use my phone as a flashlight and try to make it seem like a special treat. August requests I read another book but I tell him its time for bed. I ask him to list three things he is thankful for. "Umm... I am thankful for treats and eyes- eyes that come off, and heads- heads that come off." "Whose heads come off?" "My head and yours and Pops." We talk for a few more minutes, I get him a tissue and kiss him good night. On the way out the door, I call out "Good night, Chitty Chitty." He responds, "Love you. *muah muah* You stay in bed, Mumma."

8:00 pm
Brandon rests in our bed upstairs while I settle August. We change into our comfortable clothes and go downstairs. The monitor is on so we can watch August to be sure he stays in bed. I write up our evening for our Capture the Day and Brandon watches Ridiculousness. I brew a pot of tea for us: Mum's own recipe called Long Purples filled with calming and immune boosting herbs. We watch The Big Short.

11:30 pm
The Big Short ends and miraculously Boston sleeps through it. Brandon and I discuss the film for a few minutes, we talk about our 9/11 memories and of his dad as a banker. Boston stirs about quarter to 12 so we both go upstairs. Brandon watches the monitor as I move into the dark nook. He tells me later: "You should have seen his face when you walked in. Big smile." I nurse and rock until past midnight.


2016: A Word and A Verse

As I noted on Monday, I take the better part of January to process the turning of the year. I have been mulling over our family's One Little Word (OLW) and Scripture for several weeks, waiting to be sure.

2016's Word: MOVE

2016's Verse: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms... I Peter 4:10

It is not without some trepidation that I choose this word. First of all, my parents have moved 15 times in 39 years of marriage. Brandon and I moved four times in our first year alone! We are planning on staying at Treetops for several more years so I prayerfully hope 2016 will not include a house move for the Loys. Second of all, we are so tired. We are in a tricky time with the boys where Boston is not yet sleeping through the night and August is enjoying the freedom-to-wander that comes with a real bed. I hesitate to choose a word that can so easily become "do more things!" I am aware of both of these interpretations of "move," but I do not think they represent our year.

Allow me to share my prayer for the year:

May HE move our hearts towards prayer and move our compassion into action.
May we join the movement of our children on the floor, in the yard, at the park.
May our thoughts and dreams move into deeds and passions.
May the blessing of today move us to serve grace to each other, and to others.
May the quiet of our days together fuel the movement of our lives.
May this be a year of growth and development and progress as a family.


This year I will be documenting my progress with posts here as well as on Instagram using the post tag and IG hashtag #Loysonthemove2016. You can read more about last year's Word and Verse as well as my recap of the 2015.


2015 OLW Review: Today

Gratitude... claims the truth that all of life is pure gift. 
-Henri Nouwen 

I have learned that I take about a month to process the completion of a year. I have spent the last few weeks jotting thoughts as they arise. The Christmas season is a beautiful one and I have worked hard in recent years to slow the hustle. But, try as I might, company and family and activities still require energy and they leave me drained (obviously an introvert here). I definitely need plenty of time after the holidays to process our year. Without further ado...


2015: garage renovation, spring travel, a two-year-old, Little Loy #2, potty training, hot summer days, a mountain escape, fall football Saturdays.

We started the year living in a one bedroom apartment. Brandon worked every spare minute on the garage renovation. I was pregnant and only Brandon knew the baby's gender. This pregnancy left me bed-ridden with nausea and fatigue for the better part of nine months. August played happily on the upstairs porch and in Grammie's wide backyard.

By April 5th, Easter Sunday, the downstairs was completed. We celebrated August's birthday and tried to relax in the weeks leading up to Boston's birth. He took a long time, over 41 weeks, but when he decided to come, he arrived fast and chubby and happy. Then began the long hot summer of transitioning to a family of four, potty training August and postpartum recovery. 

In April, we met our newest nephew: Carver Blake. In May, Grandma and Papi came to meet Boston and play with August. In June, we welcomed 11 dear friends into our home (4 adults, 7 children) for a long weekend of sleepovers and coffee (and other things too). In July, we played everyday at the beach or in the kiddie pool. In mid-August, we escaped for a week to the mountains with my folks and Abram. In September, we hid inside because I couldn't handle sweating another drop. 

October was a breathe of fresh air. The five months of post-partum fog and rollercoaster emotion lifted. I felt more like myself every day the weather turned cooler and crisper. We moved through the fall months with busyness and joy. Clemson played an undefeated football season and rode the polls to the number 1 ranking on their way to the National Championship. Brandon worked long hours. We travelled to Greenville for Thanksgiving and Orlando for an early Christmas with Grandma and Papi. We rode carousels and hayrides and ate all.the.things. Before I knew what was happening, New Year's Eve arrived with college football playoff games and a Jump Little Children concert.

2016 began...

What a full and intense and difficult year 2015 was. I was constantly washed in grace from the Lord as He gently reminded me to "live in TODAY, live for TODAY, you only have to face TODAY." What generous grace to be given the gift of a year to focus one-day-at-a-time.

In the fall, my Bible study worked through Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son. The entire book is filled with beautiful revelations about the Christian faith but one particular section stuck with me:

The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. ... Acts of gratitude make one grateful because step-by-step they reveal that all is grace.
In directing my focus to the daily tasks, the daily challenges and the daily joys, I see now that the Lord was calling me to a year of disciplined gratitude. I was being shown the gift of grace- a perspective I sorely needed.  When I glance back through my IG posts of #theLoystoday2015, my heart is thankful that I did not take the minutia for granted (at least not all the time).

I will end here with our family verse from 2015: This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118: 24


In Honor of Clemson

Because Clemson football is ranked the number 1 football team, meet Boston's best friend: Tigee.