baby bump 3: week 19

Dear baby,

This was the week! The big ultrasound week. This time I had been lucky enough to get to see you a couple other times with an ultrasound, but this time you were big enough to measure important things and make sure everything was working. And you looked awesome. Your big sisters came with us and Blythe was really into watching you on the screen, but Becks wasn't so sure. You were laying cross-legged and facing my back, but eventually you rolled over so we could see your sweet little profile, and you were sucking your tongue!

And then the sonogram tech asked if we wanted to know your gender. Your dad and I eagerly said YES. It's one of my favorite moments during pregnancy because there are more specific things I dream and pray for you once I know your gender. "It's a girl!" she told us. I glanced at your dad and smiled at him great big and he immediately returned the smile-- we love raising girls. I really had no guess one way or the other as to whether or not you'd be a boy or girl, but when she said you were a girl it just felt right and I wasn't surprised in the least. I am so excited to add another little lady to our family.

After our appointment we met up with your Nini and PopPop and Blythe told them, "I got to see my baby and her name is Girl!"

Towards the end of this week I started having Braxton Hicks/ abdomen tightening. With Blythe I didn't get these until the very last month. With Becks it was a little sooner but not much. So this is new territory to me to have to listen to my body and take it a little easier this early on. But I am older and this is my third pregnancy. Speaking of being older, your daddy turned 30 this week. I will be turning 30 right around the time you're born. This seems like it should be a big deal, but he and I both just feel like we're kind of right smack in the middle of where we thought we'd be when we were 30. And we're so happy to be here.

Love you so much, sweet girl. So very much.
Love, Mom


It's that time of year

It's time to start thinking about Christmas gifts. Some of you probably did this a long time ago and are done. Bravo. If you're like me though, you still have some people pretty much everyone left on your list. Well, maybe I can help you out. 
Last year I offered gift certificates for photo sessions, and I decided to do the same this year! Just for you, blog reader. 

Okay. So here are the details. 

Here are my current prices: 
/ For a child/newborn session, two kids or less: $100/
/Engagement session: $100/
/Senior session: $100/
/Maternity session: $100/
/For a family session, or more than two kids*: $125/
/For multiple family session [i.e. grandparents who want entire families etc] : $175+ 
These prices include up to an hour session and full rights to all edited images. 
*I hate that I have to charge you more just because you have more than two children but it takes a lot more time to pose and edit for more than two children, so that's why I have to do that. 
Please feel free to contact me though if you have any questions and/or $ questions. I would love to work with you and see what we can come up with! 

 BUT, if you order a gift certificate, the last two listed will be $25 off! 
[Family session or more than two kids will be $100 and multiple family session will be $150] 

Maybe you want to buy your parents a multi-generation session. Maybe you want to give your daughter her senior pictures as a gift. Maybe you want to give your son and his wife a family session. Whatever! If you buy a certificate now it is good for the entire year of 2016.

For more examples of my work and the story behind my journey to photography, check out the photography tab in the top right.

If I can help with your Christmas shopping, just let me know! I'll email you the gift certificate as soon as possible!

Contact me:
kelsey [dot] irwin [at] gmail [dot] com 

…and if you're really lucky, I'll even be able to capture some "real" moments…. 

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baby bump 3: week 18

Dear baby,

This is the point in this journey that I like to start documenting our progress together. You're pretty visible now, that's for sure! I just spent some time looking back at my previous letters to your sisters. I wondered what my thoughts were like then, compared to how I feel now. And I can tell you this: I am just as excited about and amazed by this process the third time… because it's YOU, and you're entirely different and new to me.

Our days are so crazy already around here, and I can't hardly imagine squeezing one more thing in, let alone another whole person! But I'm so glad we get to. I'm so glad that I'll get to see your little personality grow each day and eventually turn into some walking, talking BIG personality that will add to our family by leaps and bounds.

I'm definitely "showing" more at this point than my previous two pregnancies, but that's okay with me. I am  pregnant, so I don't mind if I look pregnant. In one week we will have our ultrasound to check you out and measure you and listen to your heartbeat, and if all looks well and you cooperate, we'll also get to find out if you're a boy or a girl. If you're a girl, I'll feel more prepared for what's coming down the pike. If you're a boy, well, Lord help me! Either way, we're ready to hold you and love you!

We love you so much. I may not have as much time to "navel gaze" as I did when I was first pregnant with Blythe, but I know that I love you deeply and fully already. Your little squirms are becoming more noticeable and every time I feel you my heart leaps with joy that you are here and that you are you. Baby, your Jesus is big and if the very fact that I am growing you inside of me doesn't teach you that, you'll have plenty of other reasons to learn just how big He is.

Stay safe, baby of mine. And, lucky you, I'm long past watching what I should and shouldn't eat while I'm pregnant, so you want it-- you get it!

Love you,

baby bump one letters HERE
baby bump two letters HERE

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He sighed deeply

I was reading in Mark the other day. Jesus feeds the four thousand, then the Pharisees come and begin asking him questions and they ask him for a "sign from heaven." And then do you know what the scripture says? It says, "He sighed deeply…"  before he responds to them.

They didn't get it. And Jesus is visibly put out and saddened by it, thus his sigh. Their hearts are hard. Their hearts are greedy. Their hearts are prideful. 

And Jesus sighs deeply.

And most days I am the pharisees. Let's be honest. They are my ancestors. If my blood can't be traced back to them than I'm pretty sure it would be traced back to Judas.

It seems like it should be easier to live into the Jesus way of life: give, love, help people heal, be selfless. That sounds like a better deal than the reverse. But later on in this same chapter of Mark Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Oh. That doesn't sound so fun.

I don't want to die to myself and forgive that grudge. I don't want to take up my cross and pursue a life that leads to death to myself. I don't want to take the money I've "earned" and give it away to someone else. I don't want to take time away from my life to go help someone or feed someone or sit in grief with someone. That stuff is hard.

But I want someone to help me. Feed me. Sit in my mess with me.

And Jesus sighs deeply.

I was reading "Interrupted" by Jen Hatmaker [recommendation!], and she shares how the the story of the Last Supper has changed her view of what it means to live as a Christian. In Luke 22 verse 19 we read, " And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

According to her Greek knowledge, that "do" is a continuos action, not just a one time deal when we sit down at communion. We are to break ourselves as Jesus did. Pour ourselves out as Jesus did. For others. Break ourselves and pour ourselves out. Because Jesus is broken and poured out in us. 

Every day I have to decide if I want to be a Pharisee and serve me and ask Jesus to prove himself to me and show me signs and answer my prayers exactly as I want them to be answered OR if I want to "do this in remembrance of him".  

Every day I have to decide if Jesus will sigh deeply at my inability to see Him for who he really is, or if I will be broken and poured out, nourishing others with the Jesus who is broken and poured out for me.

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what I'll miss

Year one coaching reflection: HERE
Year four coaching reflection: HERE
Year five coaching reflection: HERE

Softball season has ended for me. It ended on a beautiful Saturday with a really tough loss in a District Championship game. With a third baby on the way, I knew this would be my last year coaching, and at a practice towards the end of the season I looked around and started to tear up. I told our other assistant coach, who I got to play softball with for a year in high school, "I just wish they could understand how much they will miss all of this."

To be a part of a small-town athletic team is to experience something that you'll never again be able to duplicate in your life. Playing college ball is different-- it's a different level and there is some intangible messiness and personability that is missing. Even putting together a team of friends later in life and playing in some good ole slow-pitch tournament doesn't revive it-- the essence of the team is missing. Only for that small window of time is something so special able to be created and experienced.

What is that something special? Last year I described it as "the magic." That delirious bliss that happens when your team wins; that you get to be a part of that is some sort of magic. That magic underlies an entire season-- always bubbling just beneath the surface, ready to burst out in one victorious at bat or double play. And as I said last year, there were times that we had to claw through a lot of dirt to find it, but there were times it still surprised us with its presence. And at those times, while I sat on my bucket in the dugout or stood on the first base line, I had to swallow a lump in my throat because that magic? It is strong.

But there is something beyond that magic. There is something beyond hard-work, and winning and losing. Because you will work hard at other things in your life. You will win and lose plenty of things, plenty of times. And then I thought of my last game. It was a cold, windy October day and we lost by one run. I remember numbly shaking the other teams' hands, wanting so badly to be in their shoes. But what I remember most? I remember heading to deep left field and falling into my teammates' embraces as we cried. I remember looking in their faces, streaked and red, and knowing they felt the same loss as deeply as I was feeling it. I knew they did, because I knew them. And they knew me. And we had traveled the same road, endured the same practices, shared the same highs, carried each other in the same lows. During games and in the dugout, I knew who needed a joke and when, and I knew who needed space and when. I knew their favorite songs and their struggles at home or with friends. I knew all of this not because I had a ton in common with all of them, but rather because they were my teammates. They were my teammates in a way that no one else in my life would ever be. That is what I remember about my last loss as a softball player: I didn't know it then, but I was mourning losing my team.

I'm the one in the visor making the duck face

There was a day at practice this season, after a particularly rough game, when I was running the usual core workout. The seven girls in the group were down on the ground, ready to do planks. "Up!" I said as I started the time. One girl wasn't quite ready, or was tying her shoe or something, and missed the cue. She started about 20 seconds later than everyone else. As time was nearing the end, I told her she needed to stay up for 20 more seconds to get her full plank in. "Time," I let everyone else know. Everyone dropped except the girl who had been late… everyone except her and one other teammate, a senior, who didn't flinch but kept right on planking with her. A few others caught on and before I knew it the entire circle of girls were back on their elbows to finish with their teammate. They didn't know, because I tried to play cool, but that small act made me get teary-eyed.

And why was I choking up on a normal day of practice while running my girls through their planks and mountain climbers? It's because last year I was a little bit wrong. Sure, the magic of winning with your teammates is strong, but the real magic? The real magic, the strong stuff that endures through decades, is the stuff that happened that day at practice. It is a teammate staying up in a plank after her coach has called "time" so that her teammate has someone to go along with her.

Most people don't have the opportunity to get to come back to something they loved so much as a high schooler. So as I was reflecting on the end of this season, and the end of coaching for me, I thought about what I would miss. I will miss the actual coaching and teaching parts-- getting to work with a girl on how to properly field a ball or lay down a sacrifice bunt and then see her do it correctly in a game. I will miss the rivalries with other schools. I will miss the bus rides [oh. wait. No, I won't miss those]. I will miss the feeling after a hard fought win. I'll miss having an excuse to chew that many sunflower seeds. I'll miss being outside, working on drills. I'll miss the thrill of getting to see a player of mine make a particularly spectacular catch or waving my arm to send them on to second after a big hit. I'll miss pre-game jitters and lining up for the Star Spangled Banner, anticipation lingering. I'll miss the crowds and the community support. I'll miss getting in free to games, let's be honest. I'll miss my daughters knowing the girls on the team so well. I'll miss the senior cookout and the team movie night. I'll miss thinking strategically about the game of softball.

But when next August rolls around and I don't get to step out on that diamond, I know, without a doubt, what I will miss the most: I will miss being a part of a team. I will miss being a part of something bigger than just me. I will miss inside jokes and sarcasm and high fives. I will miss sharing highs and lows. I will miss the camaraderie of my fellow coaches.  I will miss that real magic.

As the final out was made at our last game this season, and as I once again made it to the outfield to embrace my team with teary eyes, I took a moment to forget the game. I took a moment to forget the agony of defeat and the could have beens and should have beens and what ifs of every inning. I looked around into faces stained with tears. And I realized the beauty of being a part of that circle.

 Sure, I remember every end-of-season loss I've ever been a part of, but as the years roll by the result of the games fade, and in its place I see that jersey I got to wear. I see the team name on the front. I see the faces that wore that same jersey with me. And I think about the real magic of each girl with whom I got to share those seasons.

To the girls in the early 2000's who buttoned up those thick white jerseys with me: thank you for playing with me and for me and letting me play with you and for you.

To Coach Blythe, who made me run drills and then let me run drills with him: thank you for always being for and about the team, and for teaching me that picking someone up and encouraging them after a huge error is more important than what that error cost us in the game.

To the girls I've gotten to coach, who stole my fudge rounds and put holes in my shoes: thank you for letting me be a part of a team again.

The highest highs and the lowest lows of wins and losses will eventually get drowned out by the roaring memories of being a part of a team. It's something you don't get to duplicate again, but it's something you'll be forever grateful to have been a part of.

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