Homeschool Day #52ish (4.9.21)

Wow! I need to update more, but it’s just a sign that we are super busy and I am very much lacking in free time right 😜! Haha also I must say I wrote this post on April 9, 2021 and I’m just now getting around to posting it (4.27.21)!!! So since we started homeschooling back in January, mine and the kids lives have changed SO MUCH! We restarted the school year in January so my oldest restarted 4th grade and my middle restarted kindergarten, my youngest…well he still runs around like crazy and is a big distraction, but hey at least he is now potty trained and has big sisters to play with ALL DAY LONG (even when they should be doing school). I think we are going to do year round school, and it kind of makes since to start a new school year at the beginning of the calendar year 🤷🏼‍♀️, but it depends on how well the kids do in summer on the assessment tests that are required by the state due in August. *since I wrote this we got the test scores back, and wow I have one smart kid on my hands!*

Most days (unlike today) have been going really well, we are not held to a set schedule and if the weather calls for a school day outside than we move table and chairs to the outdoors and have cows and chickens as our classmates. If the school day calls for more play than work, well at this age it seems just as important to use your imagination as it is to put pen to paper, and if we are just not feeling it, because even little ones need mental health days, than we spend our day cuddling, playing, or whatever my children might need. Because even if they are being “shielded” from the outside world with the drama of COVID-19 going on it still affects them.

Yesterday (4.8.21) we restarted our Thursday adventures back up and went to Fredericksburg to visit the National Cemetery and a Battlefield. The kids had a blast and history was brought to life! I loved seeing my oldest E read the signs to her siblings, I loved seeing history through their eyes as if for the first time, I loved that they saw the layout of a house that is MUCH smaller than ours and wonder at how people lived back than, not to mention the amount of people who lived in the house! Our house in only 1,000 square feet with 5 people, so in todays time it is a very small house indeed!

We had a picnic in the van with cheese, crackers, and fruit, oh was it a feast! The kids loved it from the 10 year old to the 3 year old they had a blast. I also let them each pick something out from the gift shop. Let me tell you that might have been the highlight of the trip 😜 I was/am super proud of little H because he wanted a book! WHAT 3 YEAR OLD BOY WANTS A BOOK!? MINE!!! The oldest E, wanted a quill and ink set, she couldn’t wait to get home to try it. She is pretty good at writing with it, but her favorite thing to do it draw. My 6 year old C asked for a Park Ranger doll that has now become her most favorite toy. I found a new book series that the oldest is in love with and have discovered so many more books in the series that I can get online.

Later that day after a short time at home for naps and a little bit of R&R for me. We headed over to Fort Germanna. If you are local and reading this, that is a nice easy walk by the river with lots of good sand spots for the kids to play. I have to say I slept well that night! Both of these where a good way to start our Thursday adventures back up!

More to come, the next week we headed to Jamestown it was a little over 200 miles round trip 😳

~mary E. J. mason

Homeschooling end of week #2 with a little bit of photography 01.22.2021

I have been wanting to get behind the camera again, I miss seeing things through the lens, I have missed sharing the world as I see it, I have missed seeing my life in black & white. So I am working on an ongoing photography project documenting our homeschool days. Some photographs will be posted with my blog posts but more will be posted in my projects

There are two people from my past that I have to thank for telling me it’s ok to start back into looking behind the camera with the things that are going on in my everyday.

I am now an official homeschool mom, and it’s tough, if you cut me i think it would just be coffee and wine instead of blood to flow out of my veins, did I tell you my 3 year old is potty training… it has been a very long 2 weeks.

It has been worth every minute. My 5 year old is no longer chewing on her hair, something that stated with this school year, my 9 year old isn’t talking back to me as much as she was before, my 3 year old has someone to play with all day. I’m finding i don’t need an escape from my littles like I have in the past…

School is very hands on a perfect way for little ones to learn they get to see, touch, and hear what they are learning, they are no longer sitting in front of a screen all day.

I am starting a photo project, about homeschooling, lets see where it takes me, lets see what my children will teach me, lets see where more inspiration will come from.

~mary E. J. mason

Show Entry… 01.22.2021

So I entered my first show in what feels like forever, I’m sure if I looked back at my last one it would only be a few months. Three photographs where entered and one got in here is the link to that post “Chicken Wire” Fine Art Photography. These two are the photographs that did not get in the show, I am rather happy with them so I am sharing them with you.

“Sunrise” 8×10 Color Photography taken with Fuji X-T2
“Cow Skull” 8×10 Color Photography taken with Fuji X-T2

Gloomy days…

I’m not going to lie… I love gloomy fall days, to me there seems to be a bit of magic in the air, and living in a small house in the middle of a farm with nothing but homemade blankets and second hand, sometimes third hand furniture so everything matches by not matching, this house that I am renting has such a warm and welcoming feel to it. One where you are not worried about sitting on the sofa or taking off your boots before coming in, the wood floors are well worn and in need of some tlc, the walls are covered with both mine and the kids art work, so when you first walk in it’s a lot to take in especially if it is your first time seeing everything, but all of this adds to the welcoming feel.

I’m still feeling “peace” while washing dishes… dinner is in the oven… i have put on my pajamas, and the light from the gloomy day brings in this quite hue that is asking you to light a candle, to turn on one lamp, because sometimes that light you see in the fog can be the most restful, beautiful and welcoming light of all, there is no harshness to it.

Normally I would have made myself a nice pot of tea cuddled up under one of my many handmade blankets to read a book, finish a project, watch a movie, or just watch the rain and listen to the crackle of the wood burning in the stove. Today I find myself opening a beer and washing dishes while the kids scream, the dogs fight and I try to find a bit of peace watching the chickens in the yard looking for their dinner, heck it’s not even a good beer, but it’s a cold one and my nerves are very much on edge.

In the short time that I put dinner in the oven (and it was a frozen dinner) washed a few dishes from this morning the house has been torn apart. My two youngest have taken all my blankets and pillows off my bed and moved them to the living room, they have also emptied the clean clothes that I was going to fold after dinner, the sofa is taken apart… I could go on and on. I am cold because there is no fire in the wood stove, my husband has yet to pull it out from the wall to clean, I would do it, but it is too big of a job for me to do alone with the kids running around crazy, the dogs fighting and heck the size and weight of the stove, it is just a job that I can not do on my own.

I am trying to find the joy in all of this, we have a roof over our heads, and dinner is cooling, there will be clean clothes to wear tomorrow and my van has a full tank of gas, but oh is it hard. The kids have decided that they don’t like dinner without trying it, and the fighting and crying just keeps going on and on.

I may have some wine after the kids go to bed and finally sit down to enjoy the gloomy day with my book, but for now I need to be the solo mom living on the homestead that is full of living things that very much depend on me for life.

But lets be real, I’m most likely just going to cuddle up under my big blanket and fall asleep to do it all over again tomorrow…

~mary e.J mason

Photography; a long lost love…

Oh how i miss photography!!! I miss the not knowing, i miss the smell, i miss seeing the image “magically” appear when i put the paper into developer, i miss having to look a negatives with a light table and loupe, i miss the red light, i miss not being able to see when you push open that heavy door, i miss the total darkness.

I used to hide away for HOURS working at my favorite enlarger in the back of the darkroom… it was the only one that did medium format, and I had a holga that i was in LOVE with… in college i always had a smell to me it was a mix of sweat from working out at the gym, the smell of the darkroom from my hours spent there and the painting studio…I must say my roommates loved me 😷😉

I still shoot with film, I still love my holga and my roily, I shoot with digital also, I LOVE my Fuji cameras, I think it’s because they let you choose a film type to shoot with, it’s not quite the same but it’s much closer than the other cameras. My Fuji cameras also have a feel and look of old film cameras you know like the canon ae-1 or the canon FT-b. My dad turned me onto photography, that turned me onto my first job working in a photo lab right out of high school, and into the darkroom in college. He also turned me onto Fuji cameras.

I noticed that my love or my want to create with photography has slowly been put on the back burner for the past 3 years, the same amount of time that my dad has been gone…

Did I put photography aside as a way of mourning for my dad? I no longer had anyone to talk cameras with, no one to share my excitement with when I discovered a new way to do something. Did I put it aside because he was the one who funded me with my love for photography, I never really had the money to buy the equipment that was needed. Maybe I was or still am scared to enjoy something that was ours to enjoy together, maybe there is a little bit of guilt where there should not be. He would love the fact that I am doing embroidery and quilting now, something that I did not do when he was still with me. But I’m also pretty sure that he would want me to go on with fine art photography, I’m pretty sure he would be sad that I have put it aside and my cameras and they are gathering dust. So here it goes, I am going to open my heart back up to taking photographs.

I’m going to try and start sharing my work a day at a time, maybe than I will post more often, maybe than I will fall back in love with photography, maybe than I will get my third eye back, I used to always have a camera at my hip, right now I normally have a child at my hip, but the child is 3 years, it’s time to have him walk and time for me to put the camera back where it belongs.

~mary e.J mason

6.10.06 – 7.27.20 you are so loved, you will so be missed

We set ourselves up for it don’t we. We give our hearts over to heartbreak. We know it’s going to happen, we know that in the next 10 years or so if we are lucky your heart will be broken with a love that you can never understand a love that you can never explain. A love that truly had no drama involved, no trust issues, no hurt, no anger, just straight out LOVE. The worst part? Most likely you are the one who has to make the choice… that is the most heartbreaking part of it all, you are the one who has to see the pain and decide that they can no longer live with it, you are the one that has to pull the trigger. And yet I would do it all over again knowing how much it will hurt, knowing that in a month I will most likely be expected to no longer morn her, so I will have to hide the sorrow, hide the pain.

14 years ago I made my first big adult decision I brought home the sweetest little puppy, a jack russell beagle mix. It’s a pretty big deal to bring a puppy home, after having babies I can say that raising a puppy is almost like having a newborn at home, you are up every few hours to put them outside, you have your choice of listening to them cry because you are kennel training them at night, or you let them come and sleep with you, I picked sleeping with me, her little whimpers got me every time.

Oh sweet girl how you will be missed! Not only by me but by your best friend, how do I explain to him that you aren’t coming back, how do I tell him to stop looking for her…

I will take a drink for you tonight, I will post random photos of you as I come across them because I have way to many to share, I don’t want to share any of you as an older dog, your pain is not how I want to remember you, I want to remember you as the hyper puppy who always wanted to chase the squirrel and catch the ball. I will remember when you growled at my pregnant tummy the first time the baby moved. How you would always get so excited when my parents came to visit, how you smiled when you where super excited, and yes she really did smile. So many memories are flooding in my mind right now, so much love,

So run sweet girl, run through the fields, sit on my daddy’s lap and kiss him nonstop like you did whenever he came to visit. I will always remember you, you are my “first born” my first “baby” you thought me to love more so than the dogs of my childhood because you where 100% mine, you picked me when you where 6 weeks old, i saw you the day you where born.

So run sweet girl run, you are free, you are loved, you are missed…

One last thing sweet girl… “SQUIRREL”

1 3/4 hours later

H (my 2 year old) is finally asleep, well not finally maybe in his eyes he is finally asleep, we or I am working on cutting out his afternoon nap in hopes he will sleep though the night, so really its 6:30 the earliest I will let him go to sleep. My husband just started a movie with my 9 & 5 year old so naturally I tell him I’m going to bed after I do all my chores with the animals (it was my idea to have them so I am the one who gets to take care of them). We finally had a storm today with a really good downpour, and I’m so happy because, well that is one less thing on my to-do list before going to bed, I no longer have to water the garden. So i feed the rabbits make sure they have enough water and make sure all the kits made it though the day (they did THANK GOD). Next put up the chickens, it’s a little early so I have to convince them with a little bit of food, not to hard, chickens are put up for the night…

I shouldn’t have looked at the garden I should have averted my eyes and just gone inside to go to sleep…

THE WEEDS oh my goodness the weeds where taking over and look at all the fresh veggies that need to be harvested! There is a nice bit of rain happening, enough to keep the heat and the bugs away, and the ground is ripe for the picking, so of course that is what I do, I start to weed and pick all the vegetables both of them could have waited for the morning, but hey why put of what you are able to do, and now in the morning I can enjoy my coffee just a little bit longer… I hope… that all depends on when the kids wake up.

So after the weeding and the harvesting I’m covered in mud so i take a quick sponge bath, I should really take a shower but… I really do want to go to sleep, and than I see all the things that still need to be done inside, I opt to just take care of the animals, yes more animals. 3 rabbits, 7 kits, 3 dogs, 1 cat 2 guinea pigs, and a hamster I feel like I’m forgetting something I hope not, maybe it’s the kids. So everyone is feed i hope and I know that my girls are going to wake me to tell me they are hungry because they didn’t eat dinner and I will give in because I JUST REALLY WANT TO SLEEP. So as I’m doing my last “chore” my 5 year old looks at me and says “mommy I thought you where going to bed” oh sweet girl I am you just have no idea what all comes with going to bed when you take care of the household…

So fingers crossed that my husband can do it, and fingers crossed that my little man sleeps though the night, fingers crossed that the new puppy doesn’t poop in the kids room like he loves to do in the middle of the night, we have no night terrors, and no wetting the bed… the house is still a mess even though I cleaned it about 10 times today, the hamper is still over flowing, and the kids are finally getting along, maybe because they are in front of the tv for the first time today…

Here’s to tomorrow, where we get to do just about the same thing all over again…

~mary e. J. mason

Regrets…

Today is a hard day that seems to always catch me off guard and makes me think of all the things that I should have done 3 years ago.

3 years ago…

3 years ago the day seemed just as hot as it is today, maybe that is because I was 9 months pregnant and my daughter was in the local 4h fair. I should have taken more photos, I should have been nicer, I should have not been acting like a very hot, very cranky, very pregnant with third child person. If I could go back to today 3 years ago and change things I would, oh how I would change things…

You see, 3 years ago was the last time I saw my dad, he died less than a month later, in fact it was the same day that my son was born, that is a whole different post.

I wish I had taken more photos of him with the girls that day, I don’t think I took any… I wish I had gotten a photo of the two of us… none where taken… I wish I had taken more photos with him and my mom… once again I didn’t take any… me a photographer didn’t take any photos, and I kick myself almost everyday when I think about it.

I still have the memory of dad and mom sitting on a bench under one of the tents taking a break from the heat giving each other a little peck, their anniversary was the day before. I wish I had more memories from that day…

I could go on and on about the guilt and what I should have done and how I should have acted differently, but who wants to read a pity party… I just needed to get some words out…

Take that photo, even if you don’t like the way you look, the person who loves you and doesn’t care will thank you later, let that photo be taken of you for the same reason, you can’t get back today… all of us where given a certain amount of time in this life, and it’s one thing that you can’t add more time to, we are all running out of it. So be nice, take that photo, give that hug, give that extra moment because you don’t know if it is your last, try not to yell at your kids, because thats not how you want your last moments with them to be. Be kind, be gentle, be loving…

~mary e. J mason