It All Counts | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

How often do you pick up your camera? It used to be that mine was always in hand and each month would generate hundreds of pictures. But lately, well, let's just say I had to hunt for my camera to find my recent card.

I'm not sure what drives the ebb and flow but for me, in these moments of draught, I begin to question everything and that seems to make it even harder to pick up the camera. But then, I think, there are only a handful of images that I easily recall from my childhood - an afternoon at McDonalds with my Dad, pushing a baby carriage as a preschooler with lace on top of my head as if I were a nun, my Mom lovingly gazing at her newborn in a bassinet, a roadside, gas station snapshot of college me with my grandparents.  

No, it doesn't matter how often I pick up my camera it simply matters that I do. Time to stop beating myself up and just know that whatever we do, no matter how much or how little, it will count in the end.  

Welcome to our March collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

As time stands still – you – caught in a moment in time, frozen by the click of a shutter – always there to look back on and remember the days we used to do this! The fun you had with Nanna’s old suitcase full of vintage film cameras, road testing them all and finding your favorite.

This picture is not a recent one, gone are your long blond locks I loved so much, those tiny little toes getting bigger now and that favorite star print tee a distant memory, in the bin after one too many arguments with spaghetti bolognaise!

There are times I long for these days to come back- for tiny you to clamber up onto my lap and fall asleep, so tired from the day you’ve had- just like you used to when you were small. But these times are now few and far between - I’m so proud of how your growing up, how your trying so many new and exciting things on your adventures in life and growing into such a lovely boy! Keep up the good work! - Nina Callow

When the brothers started fussing that you were stealing their friends at birthday parties and playdates and sleepovers we realized it was time for you to have your very.own.playdate.

Rarely do you exist without your brothers. It was so interesting to see who you consider your bestie and what you guys wanted to do with your afternoon together. Turned out it was photo booth on the laptop with silly faces for the win.

Even though we've had a years of playdates in this house this was YOUR first playdate with your very own friend. Lesson for Mama - the roads may feel well traveled but I can't forget to travel them with you. - Monica McNeill 

A Dad leaves his mark in the world through the love he gives his children” ~ anonymous. Watching the two of you navigate the many tasks you come across is truly a joy. - Anna Bein

Since the day you were brought home from the hospital, your brothers have been enamored by you.  They would take breaks from playing to run up and give you kisses or try and get you to smile and laugh.  But now that you are close to being mobile (you’ve got some pretty awesome moves including rolls, lunges & pivots), you are realizing you can sometimes get to them instead of waiting for them to come to you.  I love the look of pride on your face when you get yourself somewhere new or even manage to grab one of their snacks or toys.  And seeing the patience that your big brothers have for you and your new moves makes my momma heart so happy. - Heather Reagan

Meandering through older pictures, I came across this piece of gold; it demonstrates that though my boys are growing and changing and we’re staring down a future with them as adults, that some things will never change.  Like this scenario.  We were at Bryce Canyon National Park.  We stopped in the visitor center for a bathroom break for all of us.  This is what I saw upon exiting the bathroom:  four dudes waiting.  Their expressions saying, "What took You so long?"  My response: "Well, *I* did wash my hands."  Their response: shrug, wry grin. - Susan Keller

It’s as if we are meticulously wringing out the last of our days together- just you and I, no preschool commitment and no older brother presiding over activity choices. Getting you all to myself this year has been such a gift, because through our time, I’ve uncovered who you are, uniquely and without the influence of others. With your older brother, I’ve known since day 1. (He never let me forget!) But, you? You are so go with the flow, so happy to play the games of other kids, that it took a whole lot of digging to reveal your silly, sweet, and deeply thoughtful soul. I’m so privileged to be your mom! - Andrea Moffatt

Sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get you to be confident and brave in your abilities.  But when we go hiking, you shine.  You never doubt yourself as you climb the rocky trails to our destination.  It’s one of my favorite things to watch. - Donya Gjerdingen

New this academic year: there are quiet pockets of time when you two do your own thing after school. It’s almost suspiciously silent; my ears perk at the deafening stillness.  While there are other (many) additional hushed moments that your duo produces youthful shenanigans, I’m noting this mindful independence and putting it in the household WIN column. - Jen Lucas

Stories | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

In the end we’ll all become stories.
— Margaret Atwood

Welcome to our February collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

If there’s anyone in the world who can match your curiosity, it’s Pap. He models a rare quality, quickly becoming extinct in this world. And that is: a learning, questioning, probing mindset that is open to the possibility that there is always room to learn a new trick or change an existing idea to make room for the new. Something tells me that these fading abilities to actively seek out new information and thoughtfully synthesize it are skills that will be imperative as you grow into young men, and - dare I say, key to the future peace of our world. So be like Pap. Never ever, ever stop wondering How Things Work or why people act the way they do. Never stop digging deeper toward a place of understanding. Find your Truth. - Andrea Moffatt

The best part about you being seven is that you are trying out all sorts of new things. And I’m so proud of you that you give everything a go. Slowly but surely you’re getting more comfortable on your skateboard and before I know it, you’ll be over at the skate park hanging out with those ‘big’ boys. Until then, I’ll soak up the afternoon sun and watch you practising in the back yard. - Anna Bein

What life looks like when College Kid comes home to visit … corner of the couch, computer on lap, phone nearby, new tunes for uploading, New Testament Greek to study, jackets hanging on chairs, and [just out of sight of this frame] all manner of stacks of movies and books taking over “his” end of the coffee table and his placemat at the bar.  The clutter arrives instantaneously with him and quietly leaves an empty space when he returns to campus.  Well.  Except for the stuff he forgets.  That I haul up to his room. Out of sight.  To reclaim my space.  And some tiny modicum of tidiness. - Susan Keller

Its happened gradually and its just so sad. It started with the odd complaint here and there and has now escalated into full blown sabotage. You have decided that “its not fair” – “all your life you’ve been photographed” – “surely it must be someone else’s turn?”

It breaks my heart, as I’ve never asked you to pose for a photo and smile, just been there, on the side lines, documenting your days, my way, for us all to look back on in these speedy years that pass so fast – so ridiculously, crazily fast that all of a sudden your 8!

You see the camera, and you screw up your little face, you bury your head in your coat, you run away and now you’ve got the others on board so you are all at it!

Handily for me, there are those moments when you’re so engrossed in what you are doing, that I can just about get away with it. I’ve learnt to be so quick, gone are the days I sat on the floor as you played with your toys, clicking away in my own little world just like you were in yours - as you hear that shutter (even on silent) and I am well and truly rumbled.

Why? I wish I knew…… - Nina Callow

In Kindergarten we don't keep score. It's supposed to be an introduction. This is the ball, it goes into the basket, you bounce it down the court. But the truth is you are keeping score and you know. You know there wasn't a game this season your team walked away the winner. 

I'm the first to raise my hand and say I never played a sport a day in my life. BUT I've been doing life a while now and there are winners and losers in every arena. And I know that you learn more when you lose than when you win. After a game where you kept taking yourself out for one too many potty breaks we found ourselves having this conversation in the hall long after the teams had left. 

M: I am most proud of you when you don't give up. I know you are frustrated but I don't care if you win. I only care that you keep going, you keep working hard and you never give up."

O: WHAT? You don't care if I get a basket? 

M: No, of course I do. What I am saying is that if you try and make a basket I am proud of you. If you try and don't make a basket I am STILL proud of you. What is important is that you try... 

O: Thanks Mom for the confidence. [insert big hug]

It's not fun and it's not easy losing but there is something to be learned from disappointment. And those lessons will carry you farther in life than anything that comes easy. Keep trying sweet boy I will always be proud. - Monica McNeill 

Life is busy.  I’m sure everyone feels that way.  But especially now that we are balancing 3 kids, it feels like we’re always running to something or another.  Which is why I cherish our family time on the weekends.  It’s usually something simple, like going out to eat in between errands or other plans, but it feels good to find the time to just be together. And finding a place with kid’s menus to color and enough noise to drown out any whining or meltdowns that may occur is always a plus. - Heather Reagan

When you were 15 months old, you saw your first real horse and immediately fell in love. You began riding just before you turned three. And after three years of riding, you decided to take a break. I captured this image on the last day of your riding lesson. Part of growing up includes a change in interests (which is hard for me to accept) but I know that there will always be a special place in your heart for the beautiful creatures. - Autumn Nguyen

We're deep into the potty humor stage at our house.  If this humor was a sound, it would be nails on a chalkboard. I'm trying my best to take it as it comes and not draw too much attention to it. Here's hoping it will go by the wayside quickly. - Amanda Caves

How we went so long without a trip to the beach is beyond me.  Sometimes life just passes us by too quickly and all of a sudden we haven’t felt the sand between our toes in over a year.  It is photos likes these that I make sure to print and hang up around the home in the hopes that it reminds all of us to live life more and stay home less. - Donya Gjerdingen

Groundhog Day | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

Confession. Well, ok, two, maybe three ...

One, I spend time like I spend money in my head - twice.

Two, I easily get lost in time and may know the day of the week but not the date or vice versa. 

There was a time almost 15 years ago I woke up knowing that my soon to be husbands birthday was on a Tuesday and on the 21st but failed to realize until it was too late that THAT morning was a Tuesday and the 21st. True story. 

So, when I woke up on Tuesday morning and scrolled through my Instagram feed filled with recaps of January I had an OH SHIT, today is February 1st moment. And that is how our January post is coming to you on this first day of February. And I promise its not the first time and likely won't be the last because see #1 and #2 above. 

I thought about backdating the post but then I thought who really cares? The important thing is that we are back. 

Welcome to our January collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

(ps #3 is that I swear like a sailor and can't stop talking about the study that came out that said people who swear a lot are more honest. Um, yeah, that is totally me.)

Crazy curly hair.  Getting the studies done.  Visions of the future boldly proclaimed.  [Just a little bit of] Attitude.  A peek at Junior Year.

I understand that it’s not my story to tell. Yet, we are so deeply connected that his pain has crippled me. I separate and step back to refill myself so that I may remain strong. For him. To his face, I speak slowly and deliberately and with reassurance that he will get through this. But I cry in the shower and on the phone with my mother and to my friends over coffee. I cry on my partner in our bed and I awake renewed and strong once again. For him. But, in truth, his story is my story and my heart is broken. Together, my child. I will carry you through to the other side. - Amy Drucker

When I was little girl, my favorite movie was Radio Flyer. It was about two little boys who had an abusive father and their plans to help the younger of the two go somewhere where he could be safe. They built an airplane out of a Radio Flyer wagon and the youngest boy eventually does fly away to safety. In the movie the boys had a German Shepherd dog named Shane who tried his best to protect the boys from harm. The German Shepherd named Shane would never let the boys leave his sight. He was also nearly beaten to death in order to help the little boys.

Oh how I loved that movie! In my little girl mind I thought that I too could build an airplane and disappear into the skies. I told my teachers that I was going to be a pilot. I broke tools in the backyard shed. And I knew that one day I would have my own German Shepherd to protect me too.

I made a promise to myself that my children would never have a home that they would want to leave. How naïve I was. How dumb. My boys relived so much of my childhood and I am so ashamed of that. It took me years to find the strength to move on and rebuild my life and theirs. It was so hard for such a long time. We each have suffered in our own way and each of us is still mending in our own way.

Ray, my youngest, was 7 years old when we began rebuilding our lives two and a half years ago, just my boys and I. I hope that all the “it’s never too late” quotes hold true. I hope I am now giving him a home he will never want to run away from. I pray for their healing and happiness.

This is a photo I took this month of Ray, now 9 years old and our new German Shepherd pup… His name is Shane. - Adriana Gomez

I’m pretty sure I’ve shared a similar picture of the two of you, only now, you’re armed with a camera. I know at your ages, you are probably less drawn beautiful light and more happy to be my little shadows - light-seekers, shutter happy brothers. You just want to please your mama. Since I’m lucky enough to be operating on some pretty sound advice from moms who are a few paces ahead of me on this parenting journey (hello, Where the Boys Are community!), I’m not, even for a second, going to look away. - Andrea Moffatt

I recall a moment early in motherhood where I was trying to work at home one night with a very needy toddler demanding my attention. I grew short with him as I was pulled in two very opposite directions - his needs and mine. It seems something of folklore now, but my husband's sentiments in that moment shaped not only that night but the years to follow.

Home time was his time and I had no right to be frustrated with him for claiming it. For years to come I didn't trust myself that I would be able to put his needs first when both were at odds and instead I worked only when they slept, hiding the work from them.

I am still pulled between competing demands for my time but I no longer hide my work and instead do my best to integrate who I am as a professional and as a mother. We share our space and we share our time and we "work" together. While there may be one thousand interruptions in the span of completing one simple task and I may find myself fetching scissors and washi tape and giving recommendations on tracing in black instead of yellow while I simultaneously review tax provision calculations I trust myself that their needs ultimately come first. Yes, there was a time this didn't work but it seems to be the boys are not the only ones growing up in this house.

And I am glad for it. Maybe one day these moments will shape how they mold their lives, their families and become a bit of their own folklore. - Monica McNeill   

Free Range Children – please drive carefully…….

Camping, the summer of 2016, all 54 of us!  You spent the weekend up to your ears in mud! Campfires, toasted marshmallows, cricket, football, rope swings, bush craft – the kind of idyllic childhood I dream of you all having. A moment in time - away from the trappings of the modern day - kids being kids and adults among good friends, making fabulous memories for years to come.  - Nina Callow

It's not very often that I pick up anything but my phone to capture bits of our life lately.  A combination of internal struggle and busyness keep me from putting in the effort.  But, you're all growing so fast.  Figuring out this whole parenting gig never gets easier.  Days, weeks, months... they fly by.  I try to savor the calm, cling to the laughter, and show us all grace in the trials and rocky spaces.  Grace, though, is hard to show myself when I feel such an urgency to impress upon you the importance of truth.  Every gray hair on my head and wrinkle on my face testifies of my seeing this short space of time that you are here, sliding by.  So, together, we "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14) - Abbi Ottman

You're ten going on 17. I know these next few years are going to be the hardest for you (and for me, to be honest).  I pray that your attitude will stay positive through all of the changes that are sure to pass and that you will always be kind and compassionate. - Amanda Caves

This parenting thing is so strange.  One of my favorite quotes that I think pretty much sums it up is, “The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen RubinAnd this is so true.  Some days I felt were so hard to get through (especially when you were a baby and never slept), but then I look up and suddenly you’re looking more grown up.  And more independent.  And at an age where I actually have many many memories of my own childhood.  And I’m not quite sure how we got here so fast and want to know how I can slow things down.  I grab you up in my arms and ask you to stop growing and stay my baby, and you make sure to tell me that that’s not how things work and you have to keep growing and we snuggle and giggle together.  So, I try to focus on all the amazing parts of growing up and all the new things you can experience and learn.  Such as learning to play the piano.  I love that you are taking lessons now and could play me Jolly Old St. Nicholas this Christmas.  I love that music and playing the piano is something we can share together.  But still, could you slow down just a little? - Heather Reagan

While I am at the dining table working away, I hear your constant chatter at the Lego table -- and it is absolutely delightful!  You're fully immersed in a world of imaginative play and I couldn't help but stop my work to watch you with adoring eyes. - Autumn Nguyen

This is you. This is that cute little freckled face that is trying not to crack a smile while showing me his serious side. This is my little boy who is transitioning from babyhood to boyhood and struggling with the fact that his momma still ‘treats him like a baby’. This is also the same gorgeous little boy who is full of love. Full of cuddles and full of beautiful smiles that just can’t hide. The part I get to see every single day and the part that exudes love, kindness and thoughtfulness in everything he does for me. This is you and I love everything, freckles and all.  - Anna Bein

Watching you build, learn, and grow in your knowledge is so fun to watch.  Your great grandparents sent some wonderful, educational gifts for Christmas that are allowing even more of this to happen.  - Donya Gjerdingen

Our serene and beautifully orchestrated bedtime routine of never allows me to not only pause after stumbling on this scene, but also wholly and damn near tearfully appreciate the sweet magnitude of my middle schooler teaching my kindergartener to read.  - Jen Lucas

“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted.”  -  Katrina Mayer

Kelly Sutton

You have a new passion, a passion for freedom, a passion for speed and a passion for mountain biking.  You live and breath for this sport.  As you race down the mountain my heart is in my mouth, however I know not to let you see just incase in knocks your confidence.  I hide behind my camera, it somehow makes it easier to watch you as you hurtle over the rocks.

Words cannot describe how proud I am of you right now, you are growing into an amazing young man. - Sarah Roberts

The Long and Short of It

The short of it is that starting this month the Where The Boys Are project will be back to posting on the last day of the month through October. We've decided that the project will go silent November and December to create more space for our families.


The truth is that I'm never good at keeping it short.

The truth is my life got crazy unbalanced this summer and I did not honor my commitment to this project. And guess what, I'm telling myself that is OK. Sometimes, something has to give. Well, maybe a whole lot of somethings have to give.

I could give you all the details but the heart of it is that it doesn't matter. I think we all find ourselves unbalanced at one time or another. And the "thing" that puts us there will be unique to each our lives.

What is relevant is that last year my eyes were opened to my truth. I was giving my time and energy to a lot of noise and stealing from the essential. So, when I choose a guiding word, aka One Little Word, for 2017 I choose Nourish or perhaps it choose me.

And so I sat in the quiet over the holidays and discerned what I was going to nourish in this one precious life I've been given. My health, my love, my boys and personal family documentation are the buckets I will be filling this year.

I recently came across this old photograph. It was early 2005 and I was a brand new mother on her first day back to work. And while I don't shoot film anymore or with flash for that matter I still believe above all else that documenting our lives matters.

This boy is now twelve and it's not as easy to just plop down in front of him with my camera.

I think whether you are raising a boy or girl it gets harder as they get older to come into their space with a camera. But just because it gets harder doesn't decrease the importance. If anything, it exponentially increases because the moments you do capture are precious. This is certainly one of the truths that put personal family documentation at the top of my priority list for 2017.

Where The Boys Are fundamentally aligns with what matters most to me. I am fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing community of mothers that believe the same. We have made the choice collectively to come back to this project and be all in. We look forward to seeing you on the 31st.

Monica

Little Things | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

Life is a wild roller coaster ride. But what I love about this group, about this project, is that no matter where we are in the ride we still delight in the little things.

Welcome to our August collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

You stopped to admire your own shadows on the last night of summer, the night before kindergarten. I’ve been blessed with this sight many times over this summer, but this is my favorite image because of the timing. It fills me with hopefulness for the year to come. So here’s to you brothers, best pals, partners in crime: let’s dive headlong into the coming year with as much passion and tenacity as we did these last three sun-drenched, magnificent months. We’ll go forward with summer in our hearts! - Andrea Moffatt

There is not one freckle on your cute little face that I don’t love. This photo sums you up perfectly! You’re adventurous, fun loving, strong and a little bit crazy. Your squeezable face and infectious giggle brighten up my world more than you will ever know my little man! - Anna Bein 

Surrounded by mountains and beautifully clear lakes on our hike, you found the biggest joy in finding a caterpillar.  Reminding me that the smallest things matter too.  - Donya Gjerdingen

Brothers – wherever you fall -  I will catch you. - Nina Callow

That moment.  You know, the one right after you guys had spent the entire afternoon together, out in public (and especially at your place of employment), and had returned home, and I asked if you were aware that you were “twinning” and wearing identical t-shirts?  That moment.  Hilarious, right? - Susan Keller 

Sixth grade, huh? One of my favorite things about our elementary is that it goes through sixth grade. It's helped me maintain denial that this year you are bigger and moving on to the next stage of your education. Unfortunately at Back to School night your teachers informed me that the State of Texas considers you to be in middle school. Um, yeah. I'm going to forget I heard that and maintain my denial. - Monica McNeill 

This is what I have always pictured when I think of brothers. Though you fight each other more often that not, it warms my heart to know that deep down you love each other and that you're the best of friends. - Amanda Caves

While it took a half dozen summers for you three to hit your stride together, I’m overjoyedto see these snippets of harmony among you.  It’s not perfect, but it’s real and it’s all yours.  - Jen Lucas

Heart & Soul | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

In our collaborators Facebook group this week I was reminded that "we pour ourselves into this project". Yes, yes we do. 

I have never been concerned with how many likes we get, or how many shares a post receives, or if anyone beyond this little circle ever knows it exists. My measure of success for this project has always been and will continue to be the heart that goes into our shares. And that, that my friends, is what you have here this month. So very thankful for this group of women who encourage and inspire me. 

Welcome to our July collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

For five years, you’ve been mine. I’ve been privy to your most brilliant inventions, ambitious dreams of the future, and wise speculations about the world. We’ve shared hundreds of books, hours of song, days of play and adventures. Now, as the end of summer draws near, I have to pull myself together and make ready to share you with someone else. It might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But you? You’re ready. For new ideas, books, songs, and adventures. My heart begs “please stay,” but in your young wisdom you, once again, are showing me the way to the next big bend in the road. We’ll change course together, sweet boy. - Andrea Moffatt

This is your happy place.  It is one of your favorite parts of summer.  Spending time on Grandma & Grandpa’s farm means playing outside all day, taking tractor rides, digging in the dirt and picking crab apples.  This trip also included water play, building a birdhouse with Grandpa, roasting hot dogs, reading with Grandma and going to town for milkshakes.  This truly is a paradise for you boys. - Heather Reagan

There was a time not so long ago (maybe this morning) when you (often) found yourself in the throes of misery over being excluded from what your big brothers were doing.  They could be mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage or simply sleeping in on a summer’s day, and you’re ruffled if you’re not part of it. Part of them.  And so it is worth noting—no, worth celebrating—your beautiful, oxygenated joy at seeing an image of them having a fabulous time without you. That’s growth.  

Ice cream helps. - Jen Lucas 

If you don't hear my words first, whose will you hear? If you don't see my example, whose will you follow? 

The evening of July 7th I was up late working when I watched events unfold that would forever change the city we call home. In the morning, I had a choice. Do I struggle to find the words to explain or do I stay silent and hope that your awareness will remain oblivious? Knowing this wasn't something I would be able to keep from any of you, I sat you all on the sofa and said, "Last night a bad man hurt good people and our city is sad."

Despite my best efforts you all still had so many questions. And after the littles were out of earshot we had a more appropriate age level conversation with more of the details. 

I needed something more. I needed to work through, in my way,  what had happened so I organized efforts for flags at our neighborhood station mourning the loss of Sgt Smith and ribbons on our elementary campus. Buying supplies and giving our words actions opened the door to  more conversations. 

You, as the oldest, were the quietest about this. But, if I can't make sense of this how do I expect you to? I hope that hearing my words first and seeing my example will one day serve you well. - Monica McNeill 

I never want to forget how helpful you like to be outside.  Right now that means a lot of watering plants and spreading mulch with dad, and to some, that would be boring work, but for you, it brings you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  Now if only we could direct some of that hard work toward picking up toys. - Donya Gjerdingen

This was your birthday, your 12th birthday! And as we do every year, no one opens a single card or present until all 3 of you are up – this can be tough and I’ve definitely witnessed some underhand antics over the years! “no mum – I didn’t wake him up – he was awake already “ accompanied by a dig into the ribs!! Presents are then opened in mum and dads bed, even though on this day dad was already at work long before you opened your eyes.

Unwrapping complete, you decided to grab birthday cuddle with your youngest brother – makes a change from donking him over the head with a light saber I guess!! Happy birthday Ollie – 12 years of you – goes to fast and your teenage ways are already creeping in! - Nina Callow

All too often I look over and you’re zoned out in your own little world. The more I watch, the more I wish for more quiet moments when I just get stare at you without you knowing! Don’t get me wrong, the times when you’re filling the house with lots of noise and giggles are awesome but in these moments, I get to see you completely at ease, at rest and deep in thought and that makes me happy. - Anna Bein

Did my eyes just flash forward fifteen or twenty trips around the sun? The two of you, side by side, navigating in the direction of any adventures, that light up the wires of your imaginations. I hope my eyes do not deceive me. Because this is my wish for you. For my brothers, together. I want the ends of the earth to be your playground. I want to open my mailbox to tattered postcards, scratched with nights under the stars, and miles under your feet. I want you to understand that your humanity is your most valuable currency, and the greatest measure of success. And in that same flash, I am pulled back into our right now, and watch you play in the front seat of our favorite time machine. Side by side. My brothers, together. And on the radio, our favorite song, “And we had laugh through the night, Call the star's, By the fire shining on, Through the night, We will run, To the rising life and on, Through the night, Burn the flames, The world will know our Names...” (Brother, by the Mighty Oaks) - Kelly Sutton 

“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, this job is not befitting that description, but it’s surely a first step.  Here’s to finding and making your “songs” and experiencing your “crowning fortune”. 

ps.  Yay for summer work and free movies!!! - Susan Keller

Connected | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Evolution

This morning as I pulled the images into the post my internal tape kept repeating, man that is GOOD, and then, can't wait to hear the STORY. I may have watermarked the fastest I ever have so I could add the words. 

Nina had me laughing out loud because that is absolutely something I would have done and bravo to our boys for adapting. They are building character, yes?

Susan had tears of joy falling on my face because while I still have littles the oldest and I are dipping our toes into these waters, man she encourages me for what is to come. 

I all too well understood Sarah's space with Teddy as my youngest just decided he was done with all the Paw Patrol toys he begged for only a year ago.

Heather had me going down memory lane and in fact I was just retelling the other day how my oldest was not so sure about a baby but the middle was all over it.

Donya and I share boys who love My Little Pony, is there anything more awesome that a mom who doesn't limit her boys by boy/girl obsessions?

Amy had me nodding my head in agreement; we have a rock collection that is ever growing in our home.

Amanda could have been describing my Owen as last week he taught me that on the bottom of recyclables there is a number that tells you how good the recycling is, or something along those lines!

Jen, oh man, so inspired. My oldest turns 12 this December and this might be one of the most meaningful projects I attempt. So doing this. 

And Kelly, well you got me. Such a tenderness shown and lesson learned. There is always space for love. 

What I love is that despite geographic differences, cultural differences, stage of life differences we are all connected. This is not a group of pre-existing friendships or shared experiences. Paths may have crossed or personas admired from afar but no prior life lived together. So, it's not as though I'm predisposed to see my life in every story shared. However, the tie that binds us is stronger than any superficial difference and I think, I hope, that is what continues to bring you here to this space.

The world is so intent on seeing differences. What if we intently looked for what we shared? I think there would be a lot more kindness in this world. There sure is a lot more joy in mine. 

Welcome to our June collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

Senior school has been quite a steep learning curve for us all in this house. It's been a brilliant year, with lots of high points; you’ve settled right in to your new regime, and we’re so proud of how you’ve made this transition. As we come to the end of your first senior year, you’ve made yourself some wonderful new friends who you love spending time with and who are a joy to have around. What we weren’t quite prepared for was year end exams – we just hadn’t even considered them, and they literally crept up on us.

Having booked a trip away with a very large group of friends, we realised quite quickly that this timing was far from ideal. You were so conscientious though; packing your school rucksack to bring along and stressing about wifi (with me assuming this was due to computer games and later realizing a lot of your study guides were actually on your school web site!) You managed to get up a couple of times – sitting at the kitchen table, books spread all around you, trying to study while your brothers slept off the late night we'd all had.

We are proud of you whatever happens – and the lesson we have learnt this time? (apart from never take the British weather for granted!!) is no more May break holidays for now – time to move this annual trip to a different time of year! - Nina Callow

More so than ever before, I’m acutely aware that I’m minus littles in the house, and that my “babies”, are taller than me (well, two of you, and soon, very soon, the third), and are voting (my oldest), and are making their own hair decisions (those curls, eh?!), and are just generally looking not little-boy anymore.  But, oh, can I just say?... these stereotypically difficult teenage years are actually pretty fun.  My littles have grown into witty, smart, thoughtful, awesome-to-converse-with human beings.  - Susan Keller

Wherever we go, whatever we do, you collect things.  And then you gift them to me.  I don’t have the heart to throw them away, so we save them.  Not all of them, but some.  In vases, as decorations, in the garden.  They are everywhere, and everywhere I look I am reminded of you and your generous soul.  - Amy Lancaster

Your current obsessions change so quickly these days.  From Dragons one week to My Little Pony the next.  The variety is awesome.  I love watching you fully immerse yourself in each week’s interest, learning as much as you can about the topic, and teaching everyone else around you about it as well.  - Donya Gjerdingen

“Can I give the baby a hug and kiss?”  I hear you ask this many times throughout the day.  You have taken your new role as big brother seriously and are already such a natural at it. - Heather Reagan

So here he is...your faithful teddy by your side, going everywhere with you. You will be 6 this year...I know one day your little hand won't hold him anymore.  The time is getting closer, more and more he is left on his own.....a sure sign you are growing up my boy :)  - Sarah Roberts

You're my curious boy. You are constantly questioning, learning, and telling us all what you have learned. One of the most amazing things about being a mama is getting to see thing through your children's eyes.  There's nothing else like it. - Amanda Caves

You’re growing up at double-speed now. All those years where days were epochs, and now our world spins so fast I can’t catch seem to catch my breath. At a whopping twelve, I see you simultaneously holding onto to some of your sweet childhood loves while asking for a longer leash with friends. It’s how it is supposed to be. In my attempt to not miss all your nuanced changes in this densely packed pre-teen year, I’m capturing you each week. I could not be any more grateful. 8/52 

All three of you are now playing ball which means I don't get to be at every game of yours anymore. I knew this day would come but that doesn't mean it's been easy being on the sidelines across town at another game. The fear of missing out is more about me than you. Growing pains for me I suppose.

But today, this day, the 8PM summer game was a gift. As I watched you I was so impressed with your sportsmanship and calm, even nature when things weren't going your way. Watching you I knew that you are learning everything I hoped you would from team sports. You got this, whether I'm in the stands or not. Bittersweet but so proud. - Monica 

Love. So much love in such a small space between our hearts. - Kelly Sutton 

The Reason Why | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

The end of school, the beginning of summer, a season of change and new routines. I don't think any of us are immune. I think many of us walk a very tight rope while balancing a plate on our head bracing for a slight shift of wind that will inevitably cause us to fall off the rope scrambling to catch the plate midair before it breaks.  

So, why add one more thing to that plate? Why every month do we rally in our Dropbox folder to share our images+words in this space?

Telling their story matters. Telling our story matters. Yes, this is my broken record, my soap box for life but it is because I believe it in my bones.

Indulge me if you will. I'm reading the book, Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman, and while I've only just begun reading this on page 18 this weekend alarmed me deep in my core: 

For every 100 females age 15 to 19 who commit suicide, 549 males in the same age range kill themselves.
— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

I'm sorry, what? FIVE times the number of boys see taking their life as a way out of the pain that consumes them in their teenage years?? This is startling. And yet the conversation is always around "mean girls" and girl drama and their self esteem. I get it , I do. Those are important conversations to have. 

But our boys deserve more than a 2 minute post on Huffington about how their mothers are impacted by "only having boys". The links that get shared with me because I am a "boy mom" are always about how I FEEL about not having a girl. 

I want to scream "When will there be a conversation that recognizes that boys don't fit inside the box that as a society we push them inside of?" Our boys ebb and flow inside that box on a daily basis, they are as complicated and ever changing as girls are. 

And that is why a day before our post goes live and we only have one image in our Dropbox folder (ahem, it wasn't mine) do I ask this very special group of mothers to rally with me to fill that folder with images+words.

Someone has to give these boys a voice. Someone has to show the world that yes, boys are superheroes and leaping off furniture and video games but they are also nervous about dancing at preschool graduation because someone might laugh and at four years old want to be a Dad when they grow up because to them that is the most impactful job they have experienced and at almost 12 years old grab their mothers arm and wrap it on their shoulder through the zoo because at that particular moment they need to know they are loved. All of this is their truth and as their mothers there is more to this calling than finding a tree for them to pee at during baseball practice and rolling our eyes at bodily humor. There is so much more. 

We navigate these waters with them. Sometimes the waters are rough and at other times they are calm. We struggle when they struggle and we rejoice when they rejoice, our experiences are forever intertwined. And that is why I share these images+words. That is why I add one more thing to that plate, to that tight rope I walk in a season where I am lightening my load with every burst of wind that has me flailing to catch what is most important. 

In a season where I don't have any answers, where I am only full of questions and wishes for a genie that will grant my wish for an instruction manual on how not to screw up my boys all I know how to do is to share our collective story. 

Welcome to our May collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

I see you. The littles require so.much.energy that sometimes, ok a lot of the time these days, you fade into the background. But I swear, I see you. And so, I will take one of my ten allotted vacation days of the year and spend it here with you. So you can see that I am determined to see you. - Monica McNeill 

I'm not sure this is 'normal' but motherhood on the sidelines brings for me a weighted anticipation of freeze frame moments, like this one - where I'm wishing so hard my heart hurts and I'm hoping… please, just let him hit the ball.    

Is it because I know he's so sensitive?  (Or because it's ME that's so sensitive?!).  I logged many boring hours in my childhood picking dandelions from the fields at my brother's baseball games.  It seemed natural to assume my boys would find their way to playing ball one day too and yet somehow this worrisome feeling crept up on me.  I'm not even a competitive person, I know the importance of failure - it's just inescapable, this raw motherly-need urging me to protect and build my child up with positive experiences that I’m realizing are now and forever largely out of my control. - Amy Bernard

So much of the time, his leaving is all about everyone else. These endless months of planning—of precious energy spent on him—with so much more to do before moving day. I know we’ll have all the time in the world together after he’s gone and that silver lining shines brightly on the horizon. But what about now? How is all of this affecting you today, my Sweet Boy? - Amy Drucker

I think one of my favorite parts about having a house of boys is that everything is epic. It’s always: the highest jump in the world or a trip around the house made in the blink of an eye. New sneakers inevitably make them run faster than their old shoes, and no matter how many people are in the room, my boys are “probably” still the strongest. So either they are athletically gifted (nope), their confidence is extremely healthy (maybe a little), or they are living out a totally rad, memorably adventurous, Epic Childhood. - Andrea Moffatt

Watching you become more independent is taking a toll on me. I’m not ready to let you go from under my wing just yet but you keep showing me signs that you’re more than ready to explore, try and take on this great big world. I have to remind myself to just observe and be there for you when you need me. You’ve definitely got this!   - Anna Bein 

One boy, one thousand feelings. - Cate Wnek

The gang’s all back together for the summer.  One is gaming, one is “surfing.”  Both are being snarky about one another’s Spotify collection song choices.  And the Youngest is greatly amused by it all.  And yes, despite our rather large-ish house, they’re all hanging in the same 25 square feet.  My heart is happy. - Susan Keller

This is us. Our favorite way to be is around, on, below, climbing, or jumping from this table. It has become an anchor for our family, a safe place to shade us from the outside world, so we may be our most authentic selves. And so here I stand, behind my camera, day in and day out, documenting these moments you are in your truest form...curious and wild. There’s no place in the world I’d rather be. - Kelly Sutton 

I now trust that everything is going to be okay. It took me awhile, but I get it. You lead, I’m here in the shadows if you need back up. Go grow in the light, love. - Jen Lucas

Running. Constantly running. Our vacation was perfect for you. There was so much open space to run around. You were truly in your element and it was a treat to watch you enjoy every second of the fresh air and sunshine. - Kelly Noel

Worth Crafting | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

 

I recently spent time in a workshop with Sam Abell and on the last day Mr. Abell, a world renowned photographer, who had a rich career with National Geographic shared his images from our time together. What struck me was not his technique or the way he brings calm to chaos but what struck me were the personal images he shared. Images made in "hostile" environments, aka real life. He said, this is "a moment worth crafting."

When he said those words nothing felt truer in all the fibers of my being. A moment worth crafting. 

We approach these images with the same intent and care as if we were photographing the President because these moments are worth crafting. We don't have to be on assignment for the Geographic or a White House photographer to document history. This is our history as much as anything else. 

Welcome to our April collaborative post (yes, in MAY!). We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

Oh, child.  You are turning 12 this week, which makes you the only one left who isn't a teenager.  I have a photo just like this one from a few years ago when you were much smaller, but so much is the same - same chair, same robe, same determined look on your face for whatever you are doing.  It's all bittersweet.  I love watching you grow, though you are still stubborn as a mule.  We are getting to spend some time, just the two of us, as your older brothers work.  You ask great questions, are intensely observant, and quick witted.  So often I watch you and imagine your dad at this age, you two are so very similar.  I want to soak in every moment we have together, as I see time flying by faster than I can keep up.  Mostly, I'm grateful every single day that God gave me the privilege of being a mother.  It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life;  but the good, the bad, the ugly... it's my favorite thing.  Goodness, I love you all so much. - Abbi Ottman

Four available chairs and this is where you choose to sit for breakfast. It has been worth enduring every little tiff, tattle, or full blown fight between the two of you, to watch you form this strengthening brotherly bond. Perhaps your solidarity comes from the fact that it’s built upon all those sincere (and insincere) I’m-sorries, a not-so-secret language, a pile of punchy catch phrases and inside jokes, and hours and hours of play - just the two of you, your grand imaginations, and a world of possibility. - Andrea Moffatt

When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” – Walt Disney.  No matter where we go or what we’re doing, you always stop for something that sparks your interest. Never stop looking my little man because life is filled with lots of interesting things to do. You just have to find them. - Anna Bein

Even a cold, windy day at the beach is heaven for us. Wrapped up in hoodies and searching for sea shells. It doesn't get much better than that. - Amanda Caves

We have lived in 6 houses, in 3 different countries over the last 6 months as part of our move to the other side of the world, but one thing that has not changed is your love for each other.  That bond you share as brothers has grown, you have seen this whole adventure as just that, an adventure.  One to be enjoyed.  I am so proud of how well you have both adjusted to the changes in our lives, how well you have settled into life in Australia, because it is oh so different to the UK, but it is a lifestyle we are embracing, and for the foreseeable future, this is home. - Amy Lancaster

In the last week, you realized you could build Lego sets all by yourself.  While we were busy, you quietly and carefully followed each page of the directions to build your Star Wars X-Wing while Little Brother watched in amazement.  Later, while we were running errands, you begged to stop at the Lego store and both of you pooled what was left of your Christmas money to buy an Angry Birds Lego set.  As soon as we were home, you sat down and got to work.  You even took the time to give him turns at putting some of the pieces together, patiently teaching him exactly how to do it.  And while it was a much larger set with many more directions to follow, you did it all by yourself (with a little help from your assistant).  I am so proud of the independent big kid you are turning into.  Not only in your abilities to build these on your own, but also in your role as a big brother and leader. - Heather Reagan

We’ve had our share of rough moments recently.  I’m not sure if it’s due to your age (three is way hard than two), being the youngest, or just your head-strong personality.  Or perhaps it’s all three reasons rolled into one!  Luckily, like a light switch, your attitude can go from awful to sweet without a moment’s notice.  And then we’re snuggling on the couch just like we did when you were my tiny baby.   - Donya Gjerdingen

"A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace."  ~Ovid

Just replace horse/horses with brother/brothers, and I think that sounds about right. - Susan Keller

 

I see you. I see your heart. I see your kind and gentle spirit. I see your need to be seen. I will always see you for exactly who you are. - Kelly Sutton

White space. I want more white space. I want you racing down our street without a care in world, not racing to the next thing on a list. No agenda, no purpose, no have to's. More being less doing. - Monica McNeill

Sometimes the picture is behind you. Sometimes your busy taking pictures of something special, and, for no reason at all, you suddenly turn around, like a sixth sense knowing something lovely is happening and there it is – one of those fleeting moments you just catch, the split second that its there before its gone. - Nina Callow

You will be a 6th grader in almost a month and then middle school will be waiting for you and while that day comes my mom's heart have all the feelings for everything new for you, for the bus ride to school/home, a different schedule ... so many new experiences. My boy you are awesome and you'll be fine, I know that.  - Antonieta Esis

So Good | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

 

Can I just say it? This project is SO GOOD.

I was pulling together the contributor images and words for this month and the sentiment SO GOOD was reverberating in my bones. 

You know, when you feel something in your bones? 

What gets me in my bones is the realness, the rawness, the reverence we all share here about our walk (and theirs) on this journey of raising men. Whether they are little, or almost grown or somewhere in between that is what we are all doing, raising men.

For me, at times, being the only one without the ability to pee anywhere I please can feel a little bit lonely but then I come here and I know I'm not alone. SO GOOD. 

Welcome to our March collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

If I close my eyes will it stop? You know, the whole growing up thing that is happening right in front of my face every time I look at you?! The last 2 weeks have been a whirlwind, everything happening at once! Which is kind of fun and awesome but sometimes I wish I could just call a time out, you know?

So the last couple weeks your dad has taught you how to shave, he’s taken you out to practice driving, he’s taught you how to use his power tools and put you to work repairing our fence and I’ve taken you to get your driving permit. I’m pretty sure it was just yesterday that your dad was teaching you how to ride a bike and throw a baseball and I was making sure you were safe while crossing the street.

Not only do I feel privileged to get to witness these moments of you learning and becoming but I get to watch your father doing his thing as well....helping to guide you along the path to manhood, and that makes me all the more grateful. You might not realize it now but you scored big with the man you call dad. That fact alone helps me to know that you are going to be just fine on this journey.

And as much as I’d really like to call a time out, I’m actually on the edge of my seat with excitement for you for whatever is next. - Juli Jones

For all the times you guys fight, there are also times like this where you play so well together and find comfort in each other’s presence.  And it melts my heart every time I manage to catch these sweet moments. - Heather Reagan

You are not a morning person that’s for sure. I’ve learned it’s best not to talk to you too much in the mornings until you’ve well and truly woken up. I think this picture sums it up nicely. - Anna Bein

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” ~Henry David Thoreau

“Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.”  ~ W.C. Fields

You, my son, are an interesting combination of both these ideas.  Sometimes I think you revel in the conflict that arises from your “offbeat”.  And sometimes I think the loneliness and the being misunderstood are palpably painful.  I pray that as you grow and mature and acquire ever more wisdom that you will find a way to be contra mundum with grace and wit and clarity.  May your written words someday positively and powerfully impact this world of ours for good. - Susan Keller

My eldest...I can't believe how quickly you are growing! With each day comes a new challenge, I know that I only have a little time left with you before you enter that big wide world on your own.  I am holding onto you and onto each memory you make for me to treasure... - Sarah Roberts

Most days getting ready for school is a military operation, one of precision, with little time to go “off plan”. This day though, things were a little different. Today we seemed to have time to spare and Instead of me whizzing round like a whirlwind, we had time…. Time to get out the newly purchased “Where’s Wally” book from the day before’s school book fair. You’d finished your breakfast before pulling out your new book and started searching out the little guy in stripes and his trusty pal “Woof”. - Nina Callow

Even when our days are rough, we’re together. You both are my everything. We’re each others’ everything. Today, I needed a hug. I really big hug, full of lots of love. I didn’t even have to ask. You were both there in a second, and it made my heart lighter. True Love.  - Kelly Sutton

After being without a pet for nearly 4 years, we made the decision to add a kitten to our family.  I wasn’t sure how you two would do with a cat, or how the cat would do with you two, but surprisingly, he seems to have fit into our family like a new little brother.  And for that I’m thankful. - Donya Gjerdingen

With sleeves pushed up and determination at the helm, citrus notes begin to fill the room. A basketball rhythmically strikes the driveway and bike bells chime on the sidewalk. And yet our light chatter about school, comic books, silly jokes has seemingly insulated those cheerful, beckoning outside sounds. Recess football plays layer over zesting, and more “and then!” run on sentences about your day as the remaining recipe steps are checked off. A few treasured minutes later, you dust your hands on the back of your pants and zip out to join brothers and friends. 

We should have lemon pie everyday. -Jen Lucas

You lift me up. You are the encourager. It probably shouldn't work that way but I'm convinced its in your DNA. So, when I get the chance to be YOUR cheerleader, I am ready and waiting.

We've been hitting the park frequently and you only have eyes for the monkey bars. Each set at each park is different and so is your confidence level. So, here I stand, ready to catch you if you fall and all the while telling you I know you can do it. You got this. - Monica McNeill 

Plus One | Where The Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

The quiet pauses. The seemingly unnoticed triumphs. The not quite invisible signs of change. 

These are the plus one moments of life and on this leap day there is no better thing to do than to share ours with you. 

Welcome to our February collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

anna bein | feb 2016 | where the boys are

When I sit quietly and just observe, I get to stop for a few minutes and soak up the silence. No stress of our hectic daily routine or me yelling out to you in a frenzy to hurry up as we always seem to be running late. I get to see you for the awesome little human that you are. You're so playful, creative and imaginative and I must remind myself daily that it's ok to hit pause and indulge in sweet moments like these. - Anna Bein

jen lucas | feb 2016 | where the boys are

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” –C.S. Lewis

monica mcneill | feb 2016 | where the boys are

Best Valentine’s present ever.

All year you’ve been volunteering as Safety Patrol and while I’ve been desperate to document this, because it’s something you are really enjoying, I’ve stayed away to respect your space.As we were driving to school this particular morning I casually mentioned, “You know, I haven’t documenting safety patrol yet. Do you think I could take a few pictures?”

As I held my breath you said, “Sure.” In disbelief I asked, “Are you sure???” After the last “yes” I didn’t ask again in fear you would change your mind.

You knew I was there but I stood in the background still desperate to respect your space. I am determined to continue documenting your life as you grow into your teenage and adult years. I do my best to do it in such a way that you don’t find it overbearing.

Yes, I could just take the picture but I find myself asking permission more and more before I do to respect where you are in your journey and hope that you continue to allow me to document your path.  - Monica McNeill

nina callow  | feb 2016 | where the boys are

You are part of the tech generation – a generation of small people who understand the workings of a smart phone or tablet almost better than us adults do. This was you, about to embark on a journey to Nanny and Granddads, house quite a car ride away.  You grabbed your Dads phone and your new Christmas headphones and selected a few tunes to make the journey go faster. - Nina Callow

heather reagan | feb 2016 | where the boys are

You squat down to carefully wash the sand off the clam shell you just found partially buried in the sand.  Your eyes widen and a huge smile appears on your face when you show me how shiny inside your new treasure is and explain to me that it was the biggest one around.  And my guess is you’ve already picked out the perfect spot in your room for it. 

Meanwhile, when I saw it lying there on the beach moments before, I saw it as one of the many similar shells and quickly stepped over it.  When you grabbed it, I made sure to tell you it was the only one you could collect because I didn’t want more things lying around the house. 

But, as you look at me, so proud of your treasure, I realize I am the one missing out on all the fun and honestly, what are a few more treasures around the house?  I love how you boys constantly remind me of all the joy that can be found in the little things. - Heather Reagan

amanda caves | feb 2016 | where the boys are

How he feels about: going to the dentist, cold weather, any food except pizza and donuts, my giraffe shirt, and homework. I think we're close to the point where he needs to stop using that finger to point. - Amanda Caves

sarah roberts | feb 2016 | where the boys

Ted, he goes EVERYWHERE with you!  You are 5 now and I hold onto every bit of you, the way you hold onto your teddy tightly and like you never want to him go.... - Sarah Roberts

 

kelly noel | feb 2016 | where the boys are

I’ve always loved to watch you sleep, but even more so now that you’re so incredibly busy and never stop moving. You’re still in your crib, but you’ve graduated to sleeping with a pillow and blanket and your favorites “Walrus and Shamu”. You’re growing up so fast and I want to remember this. - Kelly Noel

autumn nguyen | feb 2016 | where the boys are

Lately, all you want to do is stay home and play. When I said that we would go for a family hike on President's Day, I was prepared for "No! I don't want to go. I want to stay home." You completely surprised me. "Sure, mama. Let's go."  It wasn't the easiest hike for our little legs but you happily hopped, danced, ran, and skipped along the trail looking for this gem. We soaked in some sun and enjoyed this little slice of heaven. No complaints from you at all. Just a whole lot of happiness -- and pride!  - Autumn Nguyen

kelly sutton | where the boys are

Oh, Brother... Your magnetic pull toward one another transcends even the most glorious of moments. With anyone else, this would be just another beautiful sunset. But, with the two of you, together with me, it will one of my most cherished last lights of my lifetime. - Kelly Sutton

danya | feb 2016 | where the boys are

You can be quite picky about what we leave the house for, being my introvert. (You got that from me, so don’t worry, I completely get it.)  When I’m able to get that genuine smile and look of excitement out of you, it makes all the struggles worth it. - Donya Gjerdingen

susan keller | feb 2016 | where the boys are

It’s been a year and a half.  You’d think I’d be accustomed to this by now.  That I would be settled into my new “normal”.  And I *am* thrilled that my firstborn is currently successfully navigating his way through his second semester sophomore year.  And yet.   I still feel like something important is missing when his silhouette is absent from my frame. - Susan Keller

andrea moffatt | feb 2016 | where the boys are

I can’t believe you are three already. Your identity as Our Baby has been shifting slowly for a while now as you show us all you are capable of— all the jokes, all the one-liners, all the love. Your legs hang off the rocking chair, but you still let me rock you. You can sing the words yourself, but you still let me sing to you. You can walk down the stairs in the morning, but you still let me carry you. As hard as it for me to watch that baby chub stretch out into an energetic, independent little boy, it’s a joy to watch you come into your own. Thanks for easing me into it. - Andrea Moffatt

amy bernard | feb 2016 | where the boys are

Your preschool teacher once said: "All the boys want to be Henry and all the girls want to be near Henry".  This is your super-power. You have a quirky magic about you that simply feels good to be around. - Amy Bernard

cate wnek | feb 2016 | where the boys

The fact is, we are going to forget most of it. It’s the odd bits that we remember that will stay with us, for whatever reason – the sticky fingers and Eskimo kisses.  I’ve started shooting differently now, more for the overall feeling of things. Already, I can feel my heart swell with the warmth of these salty moments running through me as I look at these new, raw pictures. I have the ability to rewire my groovy brain to hold on to these feelings of being their mother, quite purposefully, for myself but also for them, and it’s with photography.  - Cate Wnek

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss.

Eleven | Behind the Scenes With Nina Callow

This post is part of a series of behind the scene posts authored by the Where The Boys regular contributors. This is our opportunity to share with you the very best of us and our different perspectives on mothering / capturing / documenting our sons. Our hope is that in these posts you find encouragement and inspiration in your journey of celebrating your son(s). 

Today's post is brought to you by Nina Callow. To get to know the author better and connect with their work visit their individual page here


I’ve been taking some time lately - back to "school" and learning loads on a photography course in London. Its been amazing, the tutors have been inspirational and I’ve met some lovely new people too. I’ve been taken so far out of my comfort zone on so many occasions, but, you know what, its been ok and I actually enjoyed asking strangers if I can take their pictures- even if initially horrified at the idea! 6 weeks ago, we were set a photo journalism task by the wonderful Emily Stein – and here Emily, is mine.... 

Eleven - oh my – Eleven when did that happen? Eleven is so old, Eleven is senior school and I’m not old enough to have a child at senior school....am I?  

Eleven can be so stroppy, Eleven knows everything, Eleven, - don’t mess with Eleven unless your happy to have a stand off that you’re just not going to win, and yet, Eleven is turning into such a lovely young man, Eleven is quite sensitive to his brothers, a little arm round, guiding them in the right direction, and a rota of who can sleep in Eleven’s new queen sized bed!  Eleven suddenly says good morning to our neighbors, and moves out of the way to let an adult pass, holds a door open, and doesn’t need to be reminded anymore about his pleases and his thankyous

This year has been huge! At 11 you’ve changed schools, off you went, the only one from your primary school, to your new secondary school a bus ride away. Bus passes, mobile phones, PE kit as big as you are, and don’t even mention the rucksack so full of books that looks like you may topple backwards at any moment. 

Off you trot, every morning, after your very early wake up call, to the bus, phone in hand – running some times to meet your friends. I can see you now, sitting up the top (we could never make it up the top you, me and your two brothers –before the bus driver half killed us by pulling away too fast!) but now your just you – you can ride the top of that bus, just as you’ve always wanted. And by the end of the day, your home looking a little disheveled, tie all crooked, shirt hanging out and so stroppy sometimes – tired from the new things you’ve learnt that day.

Eleven is a challenge, a daily battle of frustration and ups and downs, good and bad, a learning curve for all. So here is to the Eleveness of being Eleven and all that this holds for us all.... 

We Are BACK | Where the Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

We were on a break. 

[If you get the reference, while not representative of this situation but still too good to resist, we are forever Friends]

But now we are BACK!! Back to monthly posts, back to sharing on Facebook, back to sharing on Instagram, back to Flickr

Welcome to our January collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

This past October was a pretty exciting month around here as we got to witness our Kansas City Royals win the World Series for the first time in 30 years. I was 10 years old the last time they won, just like you are 10 years old now getting to experience their 2nd World Series win. There’s no doubt in my mind though that you and your brothers were 1000X more into it and more excited than I was 30 years ago!

I was your typical girly girl who never had nor has ever played a sport in my life and watching sports made me want to gouge my eyes out. Fast forward to my present day life as a mom to 3 boys who love sports in all aspects. Funny how life works like that!

Now, of course, watching you boys play sports is one of my greatest joys. I have even learned to like watching them on TV with you guys! There have been so many times where I’ve laughed and said to myself “Who am I?!”. I still don’t know a thing about the rules and all the technical stuff. You all LOVE to tease me when I try and act like I do sometimes and I don’t ever want that dynamic to change.

Our family didn’t miss a single game during the World Series. All rules and bedtimes went out the window. Games lasting until midnight with school the next day, yet we were up cheering like crazy!  I couldn’t have loved it more and was actually sad when it was over. That precious time together bonding as a family over baseball will forever be a favorite memory etched in my mind.

I would have laughed in your face years ago if you would have told me I would sit through a 14 inning game glued to the screen and everything else that has come with this motherhood journey of mine. Thank you boys for how you continue to teach me daily. The mom you boys have helped me to grow into is someone I never imagined I could be nor someone that I thought I would want to be, but is someone I can honestly say I’m proud to be. I can’t even imagine it any other way now and for that I am eternally grateful. Way to go Royals! - Juli Jones

I’ve been watching you become more and more ‘grown up’ as each day goes by. But I can still see my little boy in there. I’m going to soak it up for as long as I can.  - Anna Bein

Slowly but surely you're teaching me how to slow down....one of the biggest lessons of my life. - Janielle Granstaff

From window to table, a sliver of pale light travels over strewn icy skate blades, heaped snow pants, wet mittens, and a confetti Lego sprinkled in for good measure---a 5-year-old’s winter obstacle course. These quiet, snow insulated afternoons belong to us.  The wind hugs the house. Curly steam rises from the heavy pot. I’m acutely aware of how quickly winter evaporates to spring. Then our sweet summer leads to Kindergarten. And my heart hurts in such an unexpected way. I feel compelled to Get Close. To see the light kiss your eyelashes while you eat warm soup on a cold day. - Jen Lucas

I was going to share a beautiful portrait of my boys.  One that they look so handsome and older.  One I’ll print and proudly hang on my wall. 

But this one... This photo of my boys shows my life.  If I was on the inside, I would have begged for them to stop.  I probably would have gotten to the point where I yelled at them to stop.  But this night, I was on the outside.  Their laughter/screams/future fighting words were muffled.  I watched and simply allowed it to happen.  I looked from the outside and saw how lucky I was to have my life. - Erika Ray