June Portrait

It is a Saturday morning in the summertime. We load shovels and buckets, beach towels and sunscreen, chairs and an umbrella in the back of our car. We eat breakfast while we drive in the early morning light down Folly Road. Happy summer music plays on the stereo. We park at 9th Street, cross the one-way street to the walkover and take a deep breath. Only a handful of people arrive before us. We select our spot and kick off our shoes. August and I immediately walk to the water where we fill a bucket and a blue dump truck in the waves. Daddy and Boston get to work with the shovels. We are soon covered in salt and sand and laughing.

See our other monthly portraits here.


Memory Keeping in 2016: 1 Second Films

Generally, Brandon creates our family movies and I make our year albums. He videos and edits; I journal and snap. We overlap but the final processing of files into tangible projects is fairly exclusive. I wouldn't know where to start making a video ("How do I add a video to iMovie?"). Brandon would be a bit lost pulling together our year books ("What was that cute thing August said on the mountain trip seven months ago?").

A few months back, I heard about a phone app called 1 Second Everyday. The premise is you combine several one second videos into a longer movie. As a video novice, I was skeptical at first. How could one second of anything be significant? Brandon reassured me that he often includes very short snippets in his longer films and encouraged me to try it. So I downloaded the app and started taking videos of our life. The boys digging in the dirt, August jumping on the bed, a slow pour of coffee, flowers dancing in the breeze. I have just completed my sixth month of these films and I am hooked.

The app makes the editing incredibly straightforward. Here are a few tips I've learned along the way:

1. Shoot videos horizontally. This is just a general videography tip. Converting raw films to family movies flow much nicer when shot in a horizontal perspective. This is a good habit to get into now to achieve a consistent aesthetic as you grow your home video collection.

2. Limit movement. A single second is a very short clip of time. You want one object or the action of the clip to be readily apparent. One way to achieve this is limiting movement. Either keep the camera still and let the object move or keep the object still and move the camera. This is not always necessary of course but fun to experiment with when you have time.

3. Include the unusual. As the primary caregiver to my two sons, my films are typically filled with dirt, trucks and books. To balance the overload of boys-at-play, I like to include scenes of "other." These can be shots of rain falling, moss blowing in the trees, feet walking, waves pouring in on the shore. Think of the small things in your day that are lovely: shadows on your floorboards, sauce bubbling on the stove, spokes of a bike spinning, a deck of playing cards shuffling.

4. Import videos. Although I film a lot, I don't take pictures and videos daily. We are naturally going to occupy our time with more diverse activities on the weekends. On any given Saturday, we might collect video from a few hours at the beach, ice cream cone licks and sunset walks to our local park. If you miss a few days here and there, use these extra videos to fill up your week. This decreases the pressure of having to film on days we are too busy and distracted by life. This project is supposed to be fun so I recommend you use the "import video" option to give yourself breathing space. 

5. Pay attention to sound. The app doesn't let you mute sound so be sure to pay attention to the sound as you select your clips and snippet them together.

6. Remember your goal. You are creating a snapshot of your daily rhythms. The films don't have to be high quality to be perfect. Be creative and silly and laugh at yourself.

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May Portrait

After our dinner, Boston is too dirty to bother wiping off. I strip his clothes and plop him in the clean kitchen sink. He plays with the sprayer and giggles in delight. I give him a plastic bowl and wooden spoon for play. August, of course, wants to join him. I empty the basin next to Boston and lift August into place. After twenty minutes of laughing and splashing and general mess, the boys are clean and ready for pajamas.

Later that evening as I wash the dinner dishes, I wonder if sinks are made to support the weight of my children. 


Twelve Months with Boston Wilder

I started this monthly highlight series on IG when Boston was 4 months old. I've written the first few months after the fact so they are less detailed. Overall, I find this a quick, simple, totally managable memory keeping method. I am gathering them here in one place for easy reference when I compose our 2015 and 2016 family albums. (Organization is my number one memory keeping tip!)

One month old || expert sling sleeper  • dozes to the sound of brother and friends playing  • loves watching the wind in the trees  • snuggle baby

Two months old || smiling baby!  • sitting in bumbo  • expert daytime napper  •  loves smiling into Mumma and Daddy's face  • wants to be held often  • enjoys electric swing and bouncer seat • tolerates tummy time with August close at hand

Three months old || plays with rattles: whale, llama, "pinecone"  • sleeps like a champ in the mountains  •  enjoys story time  • laughs during wagon rides around Treetops  • hates bath time  • splashes in kiddie pool safely in Mumma's arms  • observes August in awe and delight  •  when on the floor, pulls head and legs into the air in a crunch to watch surrounding activity

Four months old || our bear is getting so big • rolling back and forth • laughing all day with his brother • taking three naps each day • waking (too often) to nurse at night • trying not to fuss as much during car rides • engaging when I read stories • focusing a bit too much on screens for my liking • being adored by all

Five months old || favorite spot is on my hip where you can laugh with August & Daddy • light up when Daddy is near • cuddle blankets and hide beneath them • tiny tiger teddy is your favorite • laugh in your door swing, even when you're pushed too enthusiastically • suck in your bottom lip and make "little noises" to coo and blow bubbles • early this morning, you rolled between Daddy and Mumma making sounds that were so close to "hi" • tasting licks of Mumma's fruit (orange, apple, banana) • finally calm in the car • your gummy smile rocks my world

Six months old || rolls on the floor until he's under the mini table and happily stuck • smiles at everyone so long as Mumma's holding him • licks our veg at mealtime • lays and holds a crunch so he can see what's going on in the room • rides space ships, takes baths and snuggles with August • learns to stick out his tiny tongue • enjoys watching passing trees, swinging in all forms, snuggling blankies and chewing toys • has such a calm, laid-back disposition • his chubby legs earn him the nn "tank"

Seven months old || sits by himself under the tree watching the train go round and round • still loves the view from Mumma's arms • army crawls for his brother's toys • smiles, smiles, smiles • his first two teeth have broken through and if, drool is any indication, another is on the way • babbles "dadadada" when sleepy and when content • soft, chubby babydoll hands

Eight months old || favorite new game is crawl-chasing August around the living room • "dadada" all day long though still directionless • scoots self from ground to sitting, pulls up on objects, even to standing twice now 😭 • top front teeth ready to break through gums • expert at hiding under chairs, in cardboard trains, between laundry piles  • opinionated about feeding himself, by himself • for that matter, opinionated when we take something from him now, things like the space heater, not toys 🙄 • cuddly and squishy and the smiliest baby I've known • laughs right along with August now too 💚

Nine months old || greets Brandon nightly with "dada"  • loves pulling books from the shelf to look at, crawl over, slobber on and chew • plays for long stretches in the cardboard train alone  • HATES diaper and clothing changes and being left at church nursery (still) and being spoonfed • army crawls to open doorway to stare at the trees, squirrels, leaves...  • gums countless melon wedges on his way to four teeth  • beams at his laughing, playing brother  • eats everything in sight (finally) so long as he self-feeds  • water thief  • content, laid-back, adaptable little personality

Ten months old ||  "chats" with books and August • stands and watches busy life around • prefers eating raw fruits and peppers and cucumbers (I spoke too soon last month 😳) • determined to pull up on small, easily toppling tables • watches and copycats August (already?!) • dances to two songs (sh-boom and tractor, tractor) every time they play • five teeth and aching with the arrival of six •  delights in being outdoors and listening to Dada play the guitar • welcomed 10 months with two new tricks: waving and saying "ta" (thank you) • allows me to snuggle him to sleep now and sleeps upright on Daddy's shoulder (but not mine)

Eleven months old ||  smiles, smiles, smiles • stands at our speaker listening to music and bopping his legs up and down • loves swings and trucks and wrecking block towers • fights sleep but naps well • explores the grass, mulch and ramp • wanders his way to the porch, running his fingers along cracked doors until they open • if thwarted, sits at door looking out  • kicks his legs when music is playing

Twelve months old || have you seen this kid smile? • loves music and dancing- whether it's in the car, bathtub, high chair or standing by a speaker- he shimmies his shoulders and bops his butt and waves his arms • if fruit is in sight, forget about it, he has already inhaled it • 7 teeth and another breaking • splashes at the water table • digs in the dirt and sand at A's prompting • waves to strangers • took the tiniest only-a-mom-would-count-it step on 5/4 • responds "ya!" when he wants something and fusses when he's over it • carefully selects the top block off stacked towers


Smells of {Spring in Charleston}

softly falling rain in the bird fountain
minty lantana leaves as toy trucks brush by
heady carolina jasmine in strangers' yards
dirt on my babies' heads
green grass on our picnic quilts
sea salt through the car windows on our beach drive
sour watermelon dried in Boston's skin
tangy apple juice on our fingers
clean sweat in August's hair
purified wind from the air conditioner


My Miracle Labor: The Story of Boston Wilder's Birth

This post is so totally bizarre. I don't know why some pleadings to God are answered and why others aren't. This is my answered prayer. I hope to honor God in the retelling of it. This is the story of Boston's birth and the healing miracle it was for me.

I cannot recall if I ever shared August's birth story. It was not unusual or extremely long but it was traumatic as birth can sometimes (always?) be. I shared my fear and anxiety approaching Boston's birth in this post. This post is long and detailed so do skip if you're feeling squeamish or if you are my brother or father. ;)

I have been having contractions for days, perhaps weeks. Each time I think it might result in labor, the contractions stall after using the bathroom or lying down. On Monday May 4th, I drive to the birth center for my 41 week appointment with the midwife. Judy is working but I also speak with Laurie. They tell me I am 4 cm dilated (or is it 5?) and that I am having contractions though they are not painful. They tell me I can wait a few days for natural labor to begin or I can take a labor-inducing cocktail in the morning. I drive home and make sure we are ready for baby's arrival on Tuesday. I quite like the idea of a baby born on 5/5/15 as well as on the same day of the week I was born. I am also anxious about having to be induced in the hospital.

Through the night, the contractions become stronger but they stall out multiple times. Brandon and I decide I should go ahead and take the cocktail. He goes into work at 8:30 to get some things finished up before a few days off. At 8AM, August and I eat oatmeal pancakes with peanut butter. At 9AM, I take the Zofran pill so that I keep the cocktail down and text my mum and small group friends for prayer. Mum is on her way to play with August so I can rest. Lydia is slated to take over August duties when we leave for the birth center so that Mum can come with us. I pour the chilled ingredients into the blender: ¾ cup champagne, 2 tbls castor oil, 4 tbls almond butter, ¾ cup apricot puree. From 9:30-10, I sip the blended cocktail while snuggling August on the couch. It tastes like an oily peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The champagne gives me a lovely, relaxing buzz. I think to myself that I'd like to take a nap when Mum arrives. 

At 10:45, we go outside to play with plants and toys. I rearrange and deadhead a few of my planters then straighten the chairs and sweep the porch. While I am sweeping, contractions start up again. I use the restroom and sit for a few minutes to see if they abate. They do not so I text Mum to please hurry and ask Brandon to come home. Now. Because suddenly the contractions are three minutes apart and getting more intense. I stay on the porch, marking contractions, while August takes the broom and sweeps the leaves. Mum arrives just a few minutes later and plays outside with August.
Brandon arrives at 11:20 and has me call the birth center. I only speak with Mary at the front desk but the midwives instruct me to come in. We go upstairs so I can change my clothes and gather my things. The contractions are so strong at this point that I need Brandon pressing on my back. Brandon pulls the car around and has the door open for me. August is playing in Mum's car on the far side of ours. I walk around to Mum's car to kiss August and tell him we will be home soon. I sit in the back seat of our Rav4 while Brandon drives. Mum will come along later once Lydia is available to watch August. As we pull out of the driveway, August watches and waves.

We leave the house around 11:50 and this is the longest car ride of my life. The lunchtime traffic and bumps along I-26 make the drive extremely painful. The contractions are painful across my stomach and into my back. Sitting is extremely uncomfortable so I sort of stand hunched over in the back seat. I use the contraction tracker to anticipate the oncoming wave. Brandon uses the CD track counter to talk me through each contraction. The urge to push comes a few times in the car but I refuse to deliver this baby in the car. 

At 12:10, we arrive at Charleston Birth Place. I immediately jump from the car between contractions so that I can stand through the next one. I am sick in the parking lot. Both Laurie and Erin come out to the car to greet us and escort us into the birthing suite. Laurie, my preference, is to be my midwife. They have the tub filling for me and we wait for it to finish. I labor for a few minutes beside the bed with Brandon pressing on my lower back. Laurie tells me she does not need to check my dilation and indicates I can get in the tub at any time. I want to ask about the nitrous oxide but things are moving so fast. Each contraction feels different and the pain moves around my back. I think Brandon is frustrated with me changing the pressure points with each contraction. I know I am not communicating clearly. 

After about 30 minutes in the tub, I say that I want to go to sleep. I am overwhelmingly tired as if I have been suddenly drugged. I rest my head on the side of the tub. The steps are in front of me. Brandon is at my back. Laurie is kneeling beside the tub. She asks me if I have felt my water break (no) and tells me if I'm urging to bear down, to do so. I can't believe what she is telling me. I move to all fours, leaning on the steps. I push through a few contractions without feeling any change. At one point, the pain is so intense I panic and lose focus between contractions. I am breathing very fast and intensely. The nurse comes to my head and encourages me to slow my breathing. 

I feel a shift and I start saying "oh! oh! oh! baby!" I am trying to let Laurie know the time is close. Boston crowns through two searing contractions. At this point, the only difference between a contraction and no contraction is the urge to push. The pain is incredible and stretching. On the third contraction, his head is born. I don't realize this at first and I panic a bit; I have a strong, ridiculous urge to run away. Laurie confirms the head is born and I calm down knowing this will be done on the next contraction. Boston Wilder is born at 12:53PM as Andrew Peterson's Don't you Want to Thank Someone plays on the stereo. 

Laurie lifts Boston and hands him to me. I flip from my knees backwards to rest in Brandon's arms, ecstatic and disbelieving our boy is here so quickly. I truly cannot believe it. We hold him. Brandon is holding my arms as Boston rests in my hands. He is so silent and Laurie is rubbing, rubbing, rubbing. We just speak gently to him as Laurie rubs. As concern sets in, he lets out a little cry. She explains to us that he is born "en caul" meaning the amniotic sac was still around him. I hold Boston for several minutes before they clamp the cord. Brandon eventually cuts it. Meanwhile, Boston opens his little eyes and looks around at us, so aware of this new life. 

The nurse takes Boston from me. Brandon gets out of the tub to rinse off and change. Laurie helps me out of the tub and over to the bed. They give me a pitocin shot. The placenta is loose and deteriorating. There is a knot in the cord. The afterbirth pains are much more intense this time. My lower back and tailbone feel bruised. 

Brandon holds Boston for just a few minutes and then they transfer him to my chest. Brandon walks to the parking lot to see if Mum and Dad have arrived. Dad has just pulled into the parking lot and cannot believe the news. He comes straight in to see Boston and Mum arrives shortly after. They stay for the next four hours as they monitor me and Boston. We take pictures, chat with the visiting staff next door, try to nurse, take footprints, use the bathroom and wait on lab tests. 

Boston's blood is O+, he is 9lbs exactly, 21 inches long. His head is 14 inches around and he scored an 8/9 on his APGAR. 

We leave at 4:45 and drive home through rush hour traffic. When we arrive home, Grammie, Lydia and Betty are in the yard entertaining August. August runs over to our car. He climbs in the back seat with me and Boston. He says "hi baby!" and stares at him, super sweet and very curious. Then he realizes he is in our car and declares, "play! car!" and climbs up front. We unload and introduce Boston to his doting family. 

August asks to hold Boston several times. "Hand, take" he says with outstretched arms and dancing fingers. After his bath, we let him hold Boston. August gives unprompted kisses and smiles. All four of us Loys pile in our bed and read stories together before August goes to bed.

No one can believe I only labored for two hours, especially me. The whole day feels like a wonderful dream. Brandon's co-workers thought he was still on lunch break when he texted in a picture. My dear friends were still responding with "yes, I will pray for you" well after I was holding Boston. This birth was healing in so many ways and was a straight up miracle gift from the Lord.


Meet the Bear: Part 4 || A Loy Family Video

This is part four and my favorite section. Isn't Brandon a genius at pulling your heart strings? This final section sums up the last two months of Boston's first year. The final song in the film, Don't You Want to Thank Someone, is the song that played as Boston was born. As always, thanks for watching and participating in the joy we receive from these two boys.

Photo by Janie Koike of Life Writing Photography, shared with permission.

To view parts 1-3, click here.