Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

May 16, 2012

I Am

I am so happy that the weather has warmed up around here. I’m not holding my breath but the last week has just been awesome. Our local outdoor pool opened last weekend and we’ve already been twice. I love that they are open later into the evening. I took the kids over there last night after dinner and it’s just such a great way for them to get some exercise before bed. My favorite thing was watching Simon swim on his back all the way down and back (50 yards) and watching the overall joy he gets from being in the water. It’s so good for him and it makes me so happy.

I am putting energy into my yard. I’m learning about stuff like the sprinkler system and planting more peonies and a few tomatoes and just generally doing stuff out there – joyfully. I attended a fundraising breakfast for Habitat For Humanity yesterday and it was another reminder to me of how thankful I am for my home. Also really loved this post from Tara the other day about home and wants and perspective and attitude.

I am making time for books again. I’m just about done with The Buddha In The Attic. It’s a quick read and the thing that really struck me right away is her writing style. It’s the first book I’ve read that employs the technique of repeating the same first few words for each sentence in a paragraph (a favorite journaling technique of mine). She covers a wide range of experiences and emotions with that technique. One of the reviewers listed on Amazon called it an “incantatory style.” I’m not sure it’s as effective for an entire book – after awhile the repetition feels well, repetitive. I almost stopped reading it before finishing, but I’m determined to get to the end now. The Newlyweds and The Reinvention of Edison Thomas (recommended by Simon’s developmental pediatrician) are up next.

I am thinking about a summer manifesto and looking at the calendar and figuring out the who, what, where, when and how of the next few months.

I am thinking a lot about my experience of writing my 31 stories for 31 Things. Rather than feeling burned out on writing I’m wanting to write more (there’s lots of projects where I get to the end and feel like I’m so done…this one has been a different experience). I definitely feel done with the actual project but I want to take that level of writing into other projects. I’m excited for the class to begin and hope it’s as meaningful for you as it’s been for me. If you’ve registered the message boards are now open and you should receive your first prompt via email tomorrow. There’s still time to sign up – registration closes on May 23.

I am thinking about unfinished projects and projects on my list and trying to figure out what travel album to tackle next.

I am really working on being present for Anna. I had one of those moments on Monday where she was looking at me and I was looking at her and we were engaged in a conversation about Bubble Guppies or Jake And The Neverland Pirates and in my mind I was thinking, “Anna, you are so awesome.” And then by later in the evening when she was having a 5pm meltdown (I should have given her a bigger snack) and needed to take a break in her room I was calm enough to be thinking, “Anna, you are still so awesome. How can I be calm for you so you can learn to be calm too.” Calm heart, calm mind, calm voice and a big deep breath.

I am in-progress with Project Life for last week and a video-overview of my Week In The Life album (a couple questions came up in the comments that I want to answer via video too).


  • 1.
    Lisa H said…

    Oh Ali, your words about Anna are so similar to my words for my son. He is such an awesome kid – just a few months older than Anna. And when he starts shouting I am so proud when I have remained calm and coaxed smiles. And other times I feel my frustration coming though and wonder how I will ever be able to model calm for him. 3 is such a challenge, isn’t it?

    • ….
      Sarah said…

      And mine for my three year old daughter…so hard but this time is so precious too!!

  • 2.
    {vicki} said…

    I AM so happy that the last day of school is friday (although not as happy as my son is)

    I AM so grateful for your blog—I get the coolest ideas!—Thanks Ali!

  • 3.
    patty said…

    ali… you are just too freakin’ cool! YOU are moving UP!

  • 4.
    Paula said…

    I AM so glad I read this post this morning, thank you. Great way to start off my birthday in the midst of a bittersweet year.

    • ….
      Ilona said…

      Happy Birthday Paula!!

    • ….
      kelly libby said…

      New birthdays are a great chance to celebrate and a chance to look forward!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Happy Birthday Paula!

    • ….
      Paula said…

      Thank you all very much :)

  • 5.
    Jan C. said…

    My favorite part of this post was when you recounted that you were able to look at Anna during a meltdown and think, “you are still so awesome.” Everyone needs people in their lives who can look at them when they are at their worst and say, “you are still so awesome.” Congrats. You did, at least in that moment, what we all strive to do–you provided truly unconditional love for your child. Way to go. Of course, even on the days you can’t find it in yourself to think that, you are still such an awesome mom. :-)

  • 6.
    Meghan said…

    Ali, you are incredible. Not only do you inspire me to be better at recording the lives of my family, but you inspire me to be a better mommy. You find, in all you have to do, time to be an incredible mom and to listen to your children, including to listen to their needs that they cannot express verbally. I find my two girls still have those needs, even at 8 and 9, and sometimes I forget that… that they don’t have the capacity just yet to put it all into words. But your post here reminded me that being present also means listening to all they cannot say. I just wanted to tell you thank you for giving my daily life a boost I don’t get from anywhere else. You are a gift! I hope you have a wonderful day, and p.s. I loved the Tara post as well… also spoke to me as I too get all frustrated with what my home isn’t instead of what it is… :) Happy day to you!

    • ….
      Paula said…

      “I second this emotion!”

  • 7.
    Jen Hart said…

    Great way to look at the world, calmly. My son is eight now and he still can’t cope if you aren’t calm with him :)

    Ok, i’m in, just signed up to your class and bpc. Off on the school run now, but looking forward to finding my way around later.

    Beautiful weather here in North Devon, England too :)

    • ….
      susan garner said…

      Hi Jen. I used to live in Instow Nr Bideford North Devon many years ago. Nice to see that we both follow Ali Edwards.

  • 8.
    Sheila said…

    Love this. Have to say thank you for Tara’s link and WITL. Both have really reminded me that my life may not be what I envisioned but it’s pretty darn good. :) . And that I have the power to make it even better!

  • 9.
    Andrea Q said…

    You forgot You are awesome too! Thanks for sharing….I had to think about some of the things you said…..they were just what I needed!!!

  • 10.
    kelly libby said…

    it’s really difficult to remain calm when dealing with little children on a daily basis. I’m a full time nanny caring (7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. most days) for a 3 1/2 year old girl and her 1 year old brother. I love them so very much but some afternoons are less than “awesome”. it’s nice to hear another woman say how tough it can be to remain calm amongst the afternoon chaos that are 3 year old girls. I had one of those not so great afternoons yesterday. What do you do to stay calm and not yell, or threaten with idol things. What do you try to be the best person/mom you can be? How do you not fall into the trap of showing your frustrations?

    Sometimes, when they are both crying (more like screaming), once they are safe in their beds/cribs/rooms, I turn on the kitchen stove fan (it’s really loud) and literally lay on the hard wood floor for a few minutes and ….just breathe. ahhhhhhhh. Sounds so ridiculous but it’s amazingly helpful.

    And, a big P.S.
    My friend bought me your 31 days class!! I cannot wait. Maybe this would be a great topic for me to write about!~

    Thanks for keeping it real!!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      It’s super hard and something I’m really working on and fail at a lot :) .

    • ….
      Sarah Jane said…

      While reading many of the comments on your blog, Ali, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are A LOT OF US in your shoes.

      I have an almost 3 year old and a just-turned 1 year old; I stay home with them and the days DO get long sometimes. I, too, find it difficult – at times- to remain calm and quiet when my older ones temper tantrums and testing-the-boundaries challenge me. I recently bought some books – in hopes of changing MY OWN habits for THEM to be able to remain calm – and I look forward to reading them (hopefully sooner, rather than later). Just flipping through them, I like what I see, so far:

      Ain’t Misbehavin’: Tactics for Tantrums, Meltdowns, Bedtime Blues and Other Perfectly Normal Kid Behaviors

      Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years

      Parenting With Love And Logic

  • 11.
    Shauna said…

    Ali, a part of this post reminded me of a powerful mothering lesson I learned 22 +/- years ago when I had small boys who loved telling me, with great intensity, about the latest episode of Babs and Buster Bunny (cartoon show). I remember one day thinking “Oh my gosh! If I have to listen to one more story about Babs and Buster I will DIE!” And then a voice came to my mind and said, “You need to listen. You need to look in their eyes and listen. Someday they are going to have very important things they’ll need to talk to you about and they need to know they have a mother who will listen.” And so I continued to listened to those young boys tell me all sort of things. And then those boys grew up and had VERY big and hard things to go through in life. And they came to me to talk and they knew I would be there to listen. As mothers we are always planting seeds, of one kind or another.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Yes. I so get this and I really felt that the other day with her – looking right at her with my full attention.

    • ….
      Janie said…

      My kids are 13 and 16 and they still want me to “listen” to them babble on… most of the time it is watching a video that are suppose to be funny or a new song that they found on itunes.
      I HAVE to take that time… when a teen wants to talk or show you something (which most teens don’t) it is all the more reason for me to stop what I am doing and pay attention and engage in what makes them happy.
      It gives me a glimpse into what they are thinking and interested in.

    • ….
      Michele H. said…

      shauna – i love what you said here “Someday they are going to have very important things they’ll need to talk to you about and they need to know they have a mother who will listen.”

      thank you so much for sharing this!

    • ….
      Marie-Pierre said…

      WOW! That’s all I needed to hear today. Thanks so much girls!!

    • ….
      Sarah said…

      LOVE this reminder. Am going to write it in my PL.

    • ….
      Kim b. said…

      This is very powerful, Shauna. You put it so well. Love the dialogue here as always.

  • 12.
    Jessica B said…

    My daughter is about the same age as Anna and I’m due any day now with my second child. As I progress in my pregnancy, I am finding that I am constantly telling myself to stay calm so I can be in the moment with my little girl. I treasure our one on one time and I know over the next few months finding the balance will be hard. Thank you for your words. Some days I don’t know which I love more about your website, your blog or projects. Keep them coming…

  • 13.
    Marie-Pierre said…

    Ali, I love your way of writing a lot and making it feel not long, and while keeping it short, you are saying so much! I love to write (my) stories but I often find myself writing too much and still feeling I didn’t say everything I wanted to say. And when I look back at my pages later on, I often don’t even feel like reading my journaling because it’s just too long! So I look at the pictures and feel like there’s something missing. Do you understand what I mean? I’m amazed every time I read one of your long post. :)

    Also, thanks for sharing your real life. My 3 years old also had 2 meltdown yesterday and I couldn’t not yell at her and I felt really really bad after that. I think we are all in the same boat after all, even if when we’re in the middle of it, we often feel very lonely. So, thanks for sharing. :)

  • 14.
    Hannah said…

    My 3 yr old daughter loves eye contact, and if I’m distracted and not giving it to her, she grabs my chin and turns my face. Sometimes this really irritates me, until I realize that all she’s asking is for my undivided attention for just a few precious moments. I’m working hard on making more of those moments before I wake up and find she’s all grown up…. also working on the keeping calm and not losing it in the midst of the tantrums and tears! :)

  • 15.
    Michele H. said…

    LOVE this post Ali!

    And we’re totally counting down the days until our community pool is open. we have such great summer memories there (especially knowing that’s where I swam as a kid) :)

  • 16.
    Ruth G said…

    Wonderful! Lots of important thoughts and idea from you, Ali, as well as all of the ladies above! I guess another thought I’d add is that it’s so fabulous when we keep it together and succeed as parents, but when we fail as parents there’s so much teaching that can go on in how we deal with our failure. As long as we apologize and discuss how your love never stops no matter what you say or do that’s wrong and that as humans we will fail and that as long as we work hard to try not to and apologize when we do fail, then we can go on knowing we’ve done our best.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Totally agree Ruth – I was thinking about that as I was writing too.

  • 17.
    dawny dee said…

    i am … thankful that generous souls like you are willing to share your journey in such a non judgemental, honest way that it connects so many people. you are a blessing and so very awesome yourself.

  • 18.
    Janie said…

    Thanks for the reminder for the class…. I just went an purchased it. I just took my last final yesterday and I officially am done with my Business Management Degree!! So now I have time to WRITE for FUN ! No more stinkin’ papers!
    I am so excited….

    • ….
      Christine said…

      Congrats on your degree! You really deserve some “me time”. I remember when I finished my last paper for my graduate program I wandered around the house in a daze saying “I can’t believe I’m done!”
      So I know exactly how you feel. Enjoy Ali’s class.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      So awesome Janie – congrats!

  • 19.
    krugthethinker said…

    I just love this post. I am so happy for all these beautiful moments you experienced, and even more happy that you shared them with us. Thank you!

  • 20.
    Susan said…

    I am not sure what triggered this but as I read the “Being present for Anna” moments I sit here in a puddle of tears. I just got through my second Mother’s day without my mom and somehow this reminded me of the last time I was with my mom before she died. I had no idea that it would be the last time and as she droned on about something I wasnt’ interested in, I reminded myself that I need to be present in the moment and enjoy these times because it was my mom and she was always there for me. I am so thankful that I was because 48 hours later she was in a coma from which she never awoke. So Ali thanks again for that reminder and I will just add be present not only for our children but for ALL the important people in our lives….

    • ….
      lisa said…

      So sorry for your loss, Susan. Your comments spoke to me – my mom is still here and sometimes drones on and on. I’ll be better about listening.

  • 21.
    marisa said…

    You truly are so inspiring to me.

  • 22.

    “How can I be calm for you so you can learn to be calm too.”

    Wow, that resonated with me today like a big ringing bell.

  • 23.
    Deb J said…

    Great post. Enjoyed the one by Tara too. Signed up to 31 Things today. Looking forward to it.

  • 24.
    Laraine said…

    Just wanted to say a massive thanks Ali – you are an inspiration. I am a great procrastinator but even I have five December daily albums completed, two Weeks in the life and I used that concept for a two week holiday with my granddaughter – very good for me.

    Weather looks great in your part of the world, it’s been pretty grim in the UK and not looking good for June either. Despite torrential rain for weeks we still have a hosepipe ban in London so no sprinklers for our gardens.

    I also envy that you can take photos practically anywhere in the US, cameras are banned in our swimming pools and most places where kids hang out.

    Sending warm wishes to you and your lovely family. Thank you again.

  • 25.
    Shannon said…


    Thank you for this post and for the link to Tara’s insightful message about home. I felt like she was writing what I think all the time. Isn’t the Oregon weather fabulous??! My kiddo’s and i are enjoying it just as much. Happy Sunshine days to you, Anna and Simon.

  • 26.
    Jen Hart said…

    I have just come back to say that the class looks fab, I have had a very pleasant couple of hours watching, reading and planning. This has come just at the right time for me. I look forward to the email tomorrow. Thanks.

  • 27.
    borcherding said…

    I AM…feeling so stressed out and guilty about not being present in any d*** thing i do lately and just worrying, stressing and more stressing.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I’ve been there. I understand that feeling. Start with one thing – be present in just one thing (even the littlest thing) and it will get better.

    • ….
      borcherding said…

      Thank you Ali!! :)

      ps. In the 31 class and I am LOVING it and how it’s making me think so far…

    • .
      Ali said…


  • 28.
    Erica Hettwer said…

    Your post today, especially the part about Simon, reminded me about this post I recently read and loved!

    It’s so important to love your kids and let them know you love them.

    • ….
      Susan C said…

      Thanks for sharing this post, it brought tears to my eyes and I know these are the words I too need to say to my kids…because they are so true and because they need to know.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Erica – that is an AWESOME post. Deserved to be shared.

  • 29.
    Miranda said…

    So many honest and insightful comments from you guys, it’s always inspiring and thought provoking. In support of why we need to be present, and be able to empathize with our kids, read any of Stanley Greenspan’s amazing parenting books. ‘Great Kids’is one of my favourites, but ‘The Challenging Child’ is also really helpful.

  • 30.
    lisa said…

    I love this post and reading what everyone says. It really spoke to me – that i need to stop and turn when my children want to tell me something and really pay attention, not just brush them off.

    On the other hand, who’s listening to ME! I have a wonderful, supportive husband who can go on and on and on about the same subject and I want to just say “SHUT UP” sometimes. I never do, but if I wanted to go on and on about something equally as (in)significant, I’d never get the same attention back. I’m lucky, I don’t have big issues (today at least, lol) that I want to ramble on about but some days, I need to just let whatever is running in my head out and the only way to do that is to talk to myself :-)

    Ok, thanks, now I DO feel better :-)

  • 31.
    Robyn :) said…

    Ali, you are awesome, too!!

  • 32.
    kate Adderley said…

    Hi Ali, great story writing, loved it – love that your getting outside and doing stuff in the garden, this is so rewarding and good for the soul, love that your reading and inspiring us again and again, thanks for always sharing your live and also your challenges with us all- you are so AWESOME- SO AWESOME that l have included you in my PL this week, l had kept every Creating Keepsake mag l had from 2005, because of the AE Studio write ups, but storage has become a problem and l had to mimimize my stash, so l took out all my favorite sections of the mags , and now l have a AE STUDIO binder and other 2 on Becky Higgins and other scrappers that l love, so l did a 2 sided baseball page on you and AE STUDIO, its nothing fancy – l kept it simple, but its a thanks for inspiring me for all these years, even if l dont scrap what everyone else has done it is a great inspiration book to have when l have a l cant do and think moment, l would love it if you popped over to my blog and had a –cheers

  • 33.
    Moira said…

    Hi Ali,
    Just want to say hi from a 31T student … I loved the first prompt and can’t wait to do the rest! I have been writing for a long time and recently finished a big project … your prompts will help fill the void!
    Best wishes to you.

  • 34.
    Bev said…

    I love what you have to say. It reminds of a previous post that links to a blog where we are reminded that just saying “I love watching you be you” is a great thing for kids to hear and feel.

    But what jumped out at me is Bubble Guppies. I recently found Bubble Guppies with my 4 year old grand daughter. What cute little show. She loves it and I enjoy enough to sit with her while she watches it. It is now on our list of favorites when she visits.

  • 35.
    Robin said…

    “How can I be calm for you so you can learn to be calm too.” Calm heart, calm mind, calm voice and a big deep breath.

    Thank you for writing those words. My two little boys are particularly ornery today. This will be my mantra until bedtime. Only five more hours… :-) Thanks.

  • 36.
    Stacey K said…

    Ali as I read this & all the comments & have tears in my eyes. At the moment I am struggling to be calm & there is a lot of yelling & fighting between me &my eldest daughter. I am trying the Hands Free Mama thing when my girls are around, I had an experience the other day…no signal on my phone so I couldn’t surf at the cafe like I usually would so I engaged with my middle daughter, reading stories & looking at recipes, I really enjoyed the moment I would have missed if I had my hands full.
    I just did an insert for my project life of a note from my daughter (age 9) saying “you are the best mum EVER” & she gave me that note on the evening of a day when the fights we had in the morning were terrible, it made me glad that she still sees me as the best mum even when I am at my worst, I still see her as the best too, but I should tell her more. I hope to gain more best mum points by taking to heart what you have said.
    I am going to quote your words in my project life & my one little word albums “How can I be calm for you so you can learn to be calm too” thank you as always for your inspiration, you are amazing.

  • 37.
    Christy Cochran said…

    I love reading your blog. You are truly an inspiration. Great post.

  • 38.
    Liz said…

    Beauitful. Really enjoying 31 days… You inspire me to want to write better. And I always love your book suggestions.

  • 39.
    Angela said…

    I find it funny that your local pool in Oregon is open, but my neighborhood pool in Houston, TX doesn’t open for 2 more weeks.

    On another note…I am fully embracing the 31 Things class. I’ve completed day one and two and I’m loving the time to sit down and think about and reflect on ordinary things.

  • 40.
    Beatrice said…


    This is one of my most favourite posts from you. I, too, struggle with staying calm in the midst of chaos from my twin boys. There are times when I end up in tears because of guilt and the thought that I’m probably the worst parent because I should’ve handled it better and didn’t.

    I sometimes wonder what and how much of their early childhood they will remember(they are 6 now)and if they will remember most, the times when I have failed to be the best parent? I shudder and resolve to try even harder with the next challenge.
    Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to do even better.

  • 41.
    Kara said…


    Thanks for always being an inspiration through your words, photos, and willingness to share your life. This post inspired me to write something similar: I always enjoy your words and am loving 31 things (I’m not active in the class but I’m loving the daily emails and am writing more again).

  • 42.
    ruhama said…

    A lurker who wants to give another shout out to The Reinvention of Edison Thomas–it’s a Wisconsin author! Our award committee named it one of last year’s honor books.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Just got it – Simon’s developmental pediatrician recommended it too.

  • 43.
    Laura Reaux said…

    Reading this – “Anna, you are still so awesome. How can I be calm for you so you can learn to be calm too.” Calm heart, calm mind, calm voice and a big deep breath. – with tears in my eyes. I don’t visit your blog much, and found myself here… and those were my EXACT thoughts today. My 3-year-old twin boys have been really acting out and I want to remember to set a great example of how calming yourself down looks. xo

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Peace to you Laura – and thanks for visiting today.

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