Six years ago today, my sweet little Indigo was born. Every year, I do a not-so-wee tribute for her birthday (and indeed for Oslo and Ben!) on this blog. I always get a mix of feelings on her birthday. First of all, I wish I had planned my pregnancies and had my babies in February and March so I wouldn't be in the midst of the craziest time for work so I had more time to plan parties, bake cakes and generally be an uber-mum. My photography can be very seasonal and I am overwhelmed at this time of year so don't have the time to be as cute as I would have been had Indigo been a winter baby when work is less intense. That said, I have found new balance in my life and have become much better at accepting that although it is a busy time, family always comes first. So today, I am going to spend the day gushing about my beloved baby girl. I have posted a gratuitous amount of photos of her in just this one blog entry and have gone on and on about how amazing she is in every way possible! For I have been blessed in life and in particular, with the gift of my heavenly children - literally - they are angels - and I am honoured that this little lady chose me for her mama. Every day I feel my heart swell to breaking at something she has said or done. Every day, I feel a wave of love come over me and I am utterly swooning. Every day, I count my lucky stars that I am sharing my life with someone this imaginative, this dreamy, this loving. Every day.
Last August, we went to Nova Scotia on holiday. We had a blast and I loved how I was able to spend chunks of quality time with Indigo. She had just turned five then and felt like the biggest girl in the world.
In September, she started big school for the fist time. This was her first day just before she joined the queue to go in. I am never sure who the first day of school is worse for - the parents or the kids. It is such a symbolic time of the breaking away from babyhood and starting something so independent. She had seemed so fragile only a few months earlier, but she was more excited than nervous and she grew so much and made such great friends that it is hard to begrudge such an exciting time, even though it did feel like I was losing her.
Every time I have a new idea of a shoot, or when I want to try to encourage clients to see how easy it is to throw something together and what magical images can result, I use the kids as guinea pics. Here we worked to put together this tee pee in the garden, just at golden hour, for I longed to show how I could turn my garden, and indeed my kids, into something not of this time. But even as I look at these pics, I fee nostalgic, for Indigo no longer fits in those boots and that dress is now more of a shirt. Of course I love that she is healthy and eats well, but can't she just stop growing a little bit so I can savour this delicious time a bit longer???
For Oslo's Christmas birthday party, Indigo went as an angel. I always think of Indigo as this delicate fragile baby, but really, underneath it all, if she is really relaxed, she is just a ham. Love her little cheeky ways. She sings Christmas carols loudly and the lyrics are often wrong, like Smashing through the snows instead of dashing through the snow - why is that so cute???
In December last year, we took the kids skiing for the first time. Much to my chagrin, for I get so very cold, they adored the snow and the skiing and all the bells and whistles that come with a ski holiday in Vermont. Not sure if the snow balls or the hot chocolates won out on best bits of the trip, or maybe just the combination and you can't have one without the other. We bought Indigo's snow suit at The Barn (charity second hand shop) and she loved it and wore it every day. Later that the winter, a friend posted on facebook that they were going skiing and did anyone have anything to loan for her daughter. I offered our things and it turned out, this purple ski suit had originally belonged to that little girl. So fun how the love (and warmth!) did its rounds.
Ben and I found this incredible little cafe in Vermont called The Artful Cup. They made the best gluten free crepes and we sort of fell in love with the owners and their family and their life. They were theatre types who were home schooling and had a yoga / dance studio in the back of the shop. They sold these gorgeous hand thrown mugs and other locally made wares, and only served organic food. I think we spent more time there than on the slopes, so one could wonder why we didn't just take a staycation at Rock Island Coffee, but there is something special about getting away. Indigo was afraid of skiing at first but over came her fears, despite the icy slopes and fact that all the bunny slopes were closed so she had to go onto a level 4 mountain straight from a level 1. She thrived after learning she coud do it, and of course, the hot chocolates at the end were enough to drive her to over come any challenge.
Of course, coming home to winter in Bermuda, when you can run naked on the beach with your pooch, ain't half bad either. Indigo's childhood is so much like mine was. So free and without a care in the world. This is the beach I grew up on and to see my little naked angel running about with her pup just makes my heart overflow.
Sometimes Ben meets me at the end of a shoot with the kids. I always take a snap or two of my littles as it makes me realise I spend so much time capturing other families' happy memories that I need to remember to do the same with my own. This is Indigo's favourite dress. Her godparents gave it to her and it is actually Indigo coloured so she feels very special in it. I remember that feeling of thinking something was very very special - almost like it was magical - when I was young.
Every year, I take a photo of the kids in a field of white flowers. This is one of my favourite places to shoot, although the freesia season is fleeting. Oslo had a play date so I told Indigo we could do a special photo shoot just of her. She was so excited as she was getting ready, but then the reality hits when she realises shoots with me aren't actually that fun. She kept crying how boring it was as I begged her to smell the flowers, or spin or dance. The thing is, I think shoots usually are fun for my clients and their kids. There is just something about me when I take photos of Indigo and I get really mean. No idea what possesses me, for she never deserves it, but I am so desperate to capture some of the beauty I see that I can't bear that she doesn't behave how she does all the time when I lift up my camera. Still, I am able to capture some lovely moments, even if the memory of that day won't be that wonderful for her. Hopefully she'll forget that I was mean and think what a lovely mummy she had always taking her photo!
If there is one thing that Indigo loves to do, it is dress up. Costumes, or as she would say, toss-cumes, are a great way for her to slip into another imaginary world. Indigo is desperate to be a singer when she grows up. She is singing constantly, though not anything that I recognise, and if her style now is anything to go by, she won't be a trendy rock star chick like her god mama, but more likely an opera singer! She dances around the kitchen and holds her hands to her heart as she sings with such feeling or slips into the garden unnoticed in the early hours of the morning while Ben and I still snooze, and trails her fingers along the leaves and moss as she makes up lyrics to her soprano tones.
So along the lines of loving to dress up, I thought Indigo would adore to do a themed shoot. I spent an eternity sourcing the perfect wolf for this Little Red Riding Hood shoot and getting together the props and accessories for her outfit. But again, the experience in the freesias was obviously a little too raw still and she did not enjoy the session at all. They say never work with children or animals and here I did both at the same time, but Indigo was such a trooper, despite my threats, and gave me what I needed for the concept. She is such a sweet natured girl that even though she didn't understand what I wanted or why I kept shouting at her (promise don't do it to clients!), she did as she was told, albeit it rather sullenly. But she is very forgiving and bounces back and moments after the shoot, she was loving and cuddling me as always.
One of my favourite things about Indigo is her excitement for life. She is not one of those kids who is blase about anything. She things any party, or planned event, or holiday or tradition is the most exciting ever. She shouts through the house, BEST DAY EVER, all the time and so a simple think like an Easter egg hunt to Indigo is heaven on earth.
Best day ever, until Mummy makes her take more photos. I also have an anual tradition (well, for the last two years since she's only been dancing for two years) of taking photos of Indigo in her ballet recital costume. Her Aunty Amanda, who was a very talented dancer and still dances today, said she noticed a difference in Indigo's body language and abilities between the photos from last year and the year before. Once again, she did as she was told, but this time, I let her little hammy self shine through at the end of the shoot and she adored bouncing as high as she could, in as unballetic (is that a word) way as possible.
In April, I did a very beautiful shoot of a woman in my tub surrounded bu these flowers. It was so lovely that the next morning, after the water had had the cool night air to get sufficiently cold, I insisted Indigo put on her fairy dress and get in! As you have gathered, she is never a fan of my bright ideas for a great photo, but this episode really pushed her limits. The water was freezing, as was the air outside since at that time of year, the weather doesn't warm up to the middle of the day.
I refused to let her out until she gave me one smile, which she did beautifully.
And then the poor little love bug rushed upstairs and into a hot bubble bath which she enjoyed fully dressed.
A friend dropped by today and said our home is the perfect unschoolers' house. There is something do do or learn from in every corner. I think she is very generous with her opinion as most people would simply say our garden looked like a dumping zone with all the mad things scattered around. But as I think about the sort of childhood Indigo is having, it is full of creativity and nurturing her independence. We have loads of pets for her to smother with love, lots of toys (aka photo shoot props) for her imagination to grow, and freedom to wear what she wants (or not wear) and do as she pleases in a safe home and garden.
One day after school, when Oslo had been learning about the Egyptians, we decided to make our own kohl. Not sure how safe what we made was, but has to be better than the regular cosmetics out there that are full of toxins where you don't even know what the ingredients are. Ours was pure cedar and casurina charcoal which we ground up in the pestle and mortar and added a little water. We had a blast painting ourselves, but Indigo wad definitely the best.
As a child, I remembered a May Day party I went to, and back to my obsession of giving the kids amazing memories to shape them, we have an anual party where everyone dresses in all white. Indigo feels so important as all her guests come and I love that body language she gets when she feels special, like the world is watching her. She strokes her hair in a certain way and sways from side to side and looks like she might never let herself relax and play and get dirty. Of course, this lasts for about 30 seconds before she is in the tree fort and charging around the garden.
Ben has grown a kitchen garden at the back of the house and it has been the best learning experience for the kids. A little scary how competitive they get over whose cucumbers or melons are bigger, and if someone's squash grew onto the other's section, then property is 9/10th of the law, but aside from that, it has been so cute. Indigo was very proud or her huge melon though it ended up not being so tasty as we picked it too soon so it didn't ripen on the vine - all a big learning curve but we are getting there.
These perfect little toothy pegs are making way for the big ones to come it. One afternoon, Indigo came up to me and said she had a scab in her mouth. She took my finger and ran it along the inside of her lower gum. I freaked when I saw that she had one tooth fully pushed through, and another on its way completely behind her baby teeth. Ben and I were joking how she had shark teeth and I googled it and sure enough, it is a real syndrome called just that. I read some horror stories where the baby teeth never came out and they finally had to be removed when the kid was actually an adult. Luckily for Indigo, and indeed me, her little shark teeth knew where they were headed and eventually pushed out her baby teeth, but it made them wiggly for ages and ages longer than is normal. Was pretty gross at the end as it dangled by a thread and Indigo took great pleasure from watching me squirm.
When the tooth finally did come out, Indigo was convinced that she saw the Tooth Fairy that night. She said she had lots of helpers who were moths who fly around her room every night checking to see if the Tooth Fairy needs to come. She says she sees them still and goes into great detail about them and the Tooth Fairy herself, and of course, her fabulous wardrobe.
Picking cucumbers from our garden was a favourite way to try to loosen the stubborn little teeth.
Just before we went away in July, we went to visit our dog, Cairo's puppies. They were like little guinea pigs rather than dogs and we just couldn't believe what a proud papa Cairo should be - so delish. Indigo has always been such a natural nurturer and loves loves loves animals. Love that about her - says a lot about a person.
The first part of our trip, we went to see Ben's granny in Weston Super Mare. The highlight is always riding the donkeys on the beach and I think the owners thought they had died and gone to heaven with how many times our kids went for rides - hemorrhaged our life savings but for the sake of this smile, was worth every pound.
Along the way, we stayed in all these amazing places recommended my Alastair Sawday - if you are going anywhere in Europe, if you pick one of his suggestions, you will never be let down.
Indigo became the queen of catching crickets and grass hoppers. There was no afraid-of-bugs button with this little girl. I suppose the fact that I won't use any bug spray that you cannot eat in our house has prepped her for a life of tolerance!
Once home from our trip to France and England, we were able to return to our daily smoothies, complete with loads of Spirulina. Such a healthy green girl.
The other day, I had the most amazing shoot with these stars in the trees. I can't wait to share them, but took a couple of Indigo to test the light and rush processed them in time for this special birthday post. Will do a more full post later and was smitten with the results, but here are a couple for now.
I simply can't believe how grown up she is getting. The other night in bed, after she had done her thankful time, Indigo started to lament on her boy troubles. She said she loved both Cooper and Zander, and she was so confused. But then she said she could tell Cooper was falling in love with Vidya too, so maybe there wouldn't be a problem, but she was still torn and didn't know what to do. Seriously? What happened to dramas like not being sure about using blue or orange on the piggy bank project. I thought she was doing art work from 9 to noon at Kaleidoscope, and here she is acting like she is at a school dance for 16 year olds instead of 5 and 6 year olds. Still not sure how as a parent one is supposed to handle these sorts of chats. Do I act all prude, tell her she has years to think about it, or give her advice on what to do now. I think it is easy to think it is all silly, but clearly to her, it is what is going on in her life and very real. Really thought I had a few more years before we would be having these sorts of talks but anyway, I am grateful she talks to me about it and hope she will always.
I by mistake booked a wedding for this afternoon. Not sure how I didn't notice the date when I wrote it in my diary but there you go. So yesterday, I had a wee tea party for Indigo to celebrate. We never do her party until the autumn anyway, when it is cooler and other friends who are away have returned for the school year. It is actually rather fun as it drags her special day out that much longer.
So since we will do her proper party in a couple months, I just did a makeshift cake out of gluten free cupcakes and brownies. She loved it. It never ceases to amaze me how grateful she is. She reminds me of Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He is so grateful over the smallest thing and Indigo is just like that. Such a lovely quality which I hope she keeps with her always, no matter how spoiled she ever will be in the future.
So happy birthday my sweet little love. I adore our cuddles, and thankful times, and little chats that we have. I adore your generous spirit and loving nature. I love all those expressions in your face and the unexpected way you word things and the imaginative things that pop into your head. I love your squeaks and songs and whimsical ways. You are a very bright star in my life and I am so thankful for every moment I spend with you. Have an amazing birthday. xxx