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

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 

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.

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

Even after nearly 20 years of parenting boys, I’m still befuddled by many of the ways they choose to and love to spend their time: loud-violent movies, silly SpongeBob, internet-surfing, and fighting-gaming.  But one way they choose to spend their time that never fails to thrill me to the core of my being:  seeing any of them engrossed, engaged, enthralled by reading.  Even if only cartoons.  And maybe especially if Bloom County. - Susan Keller

It wont be long until you are too big to ride on Daddy's shoulders...you are now 5 and the youngest of your brothers...growing up just as quick as they did.  I am happy to see you growing up but a part of me wants you to stay little, in this moment, forever..... - Sarah Roberts

The best is yet to come? Or times goes by so quickly? Or how about, today is all there is? Daily I battle those voices in my head and daily I pull myself back to the present to focus on what is in front of me— at that’s this silly, creative boy and his equally silly and creative brother. They made me laugh last year, they will make me proud in the future, and they are my world right now. - Andrea Moffatt

You love this place, the three of you, we’ve been twice already this summer but this was certainly to be our last trip. The cooler air is definitely coming in now, and today we even had to shelter from the rain. It didn’t lessen your enjoyment of the day though, you had a blast on all the rollercoasters and fairground rides squeezing every last moment out of the day. As the sun went down and the neon lights took over, we headed back to the car, stopping only, for freshly made hot doughnuts to tide us all over till tea. - Nina Callow

You're determined to teach yourself how to play drums. I love to peek around the corner and watch the expressions on your face as you try to figure something out. I hope you stick with it because drummers are awesome. - Amanda Caves

What's a boy without a dog?  You guys carry her around like a rag doll, and she happily accomadates you.  She looked slightly worried when you brought her onto the merry-go-round, though.  I don't think she found the thrill of it like you do.  I'm not much a fan of her fur everywhere, or the times that she rolls in nastiness and then wants on your lap.  It might gross me out when I see you rolling around on the dirty floor playing with her.  But, the joy you get from having her around evens it out, I suppose.  - Abbi Ottman

It used to be that the littles were inseparable. But more and more these days I see a shift in the landscape. Owen is realizing that there is this whole other world he wants to be part of with Garrett. Any change has its growing pains but if this is the end game, I'll take them. - Monica McNeill 

Back to the Future | Where the Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

Today is the future. 

10.21.2015, 4:29 p.m.

We drive flying cars, we hydrate our food and our doors do not have knobs. Well, at least in the 1989 version of today. The twelve year old me thought October 21, 2015 was fiction, a day I would never see.

A child of the 80s, I could not fathom how near [or far] 26 years would be.

In another 26 years my boys will be 36, 31, and 29 and that is also a piece of fiction. Who they will become is something I cannot wrap my mind around just as when I held them in my arms I could have never imagined 10, 5 and 3. 

The only certainty is who they are today. 

Our boys play in the last rays of light. 

Our boys are a tribe. 

Our boys save the world. 

Our boys live in routine. 

Our boys explore. 

Our boys believe anything is possible. 

Our boys have each other. 

Our boys create adventure. 

Our boys balance. 

Our boys are students. 

Our boys are layers.. 

Our boys revel in beauty. 

Our boys walk in faith. 

In another 26 years these truths will remain, well, that is our hope. We photograph what is important and nothing is more important the here and now. Welcome to our October collaborative post. We hope that sharing our story inspires you to share yours. 

Here we go......

Monica

The last warm light slips below the jagged horizon. Your knees, faces, hands and feet are smudged with the sweaty adventures of the day. On this day, most families are feeling the coolness of fall setting in, despite our mid-October is just an extension of our summer days. You have no conception of how lucky you are to grow up in the California sun, but I hope one day you'll look back on these long, hot, dry days that give us ample time to play and understand how special this place is we call home. - Kelly Sutton 

It was our last night at our camp we rent every summer, and this was one of your imaginary games. I think you were pretending to be in a tribe, during sunset. Now, that Fall is fully here, I look back on the memory of that evening and smile. We soaked up every last drop of this amazing place before it was time to leave. - Cate Wnek

I’m sure there are times when being the littlest brother is hard, but this is not one of them. When the big boys say “Avengers, Assemble!” and they are looking you square in the eye, as an equal and integral member of their world-saving team, I love seeing you eagerly assume the role. You may be small, but you are mighty. And you are all in. - Andrea Moffatt

We’re nearly into the melodic swing of the school year.  Early risers, hard workers, and then you bound through the door for chores, snack, homework, and finally play.  The homework just feels like ticky-tacky bits of the daily after-school agenda.  I want you all tumbling into the yard or up to your elbows in Lego bricks as soon as possible too.

And yet here in this quiet, new routine you have discovered another thread in your relationship. The rally of academic support between you is real. - Jen Lucas

I love to watch you exploring the world around you. I hope you’ll always stop and pay attention to the small things. - Kelly Noel

Nothing is impossible. The word itself says “I’m possible”. ~ Audrey Hepburn

I hope you always have each other’s backs.  - Ann Woodard

Anything can be an adventure with you.  A trip to the grocery store.  A vacation to the mountains.  Or just simply throwing rocks into the ocean. - Donya Gjerdingen      

Raising a boy, it's a delicate balance between teaching him when to win and when to learn to lose. - Janielle Granstaff 

"We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here. " - Brene Brown

Whether Captain America, or an artist, or a mischief maker I hope that you always know that there is no certain thing or way you need to be. I want you to know that there are no bounds and I will love and nurture every part of you. There is more to you than what society expects and that is my favorite part of walking this journey with you. - Monica McNeill  

“There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.”  ~ Bobbi Lambrecht

You can.  And you should.

Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud. ~ author unknown

 This term at school is all about handwriting. Each week, your duly get out your homework book and practice away with such concentration on your face. It’s beginning to pay off Sprout and your writings coming on a treat! - Nina Callow 

Walk by faith, not by sight. - Michelle L Morris

The Company We Keep | Where the Boys Are, A Memory Keeping Revolution

 

Over the summer the first anniversary of Where the Boys Are came and went quietly without any attention brought to it. But this weekend as I gathered the images and words into this space the significance of that milestone washed over me. 

For a year we have kept each other's company and weaved our stories of motherhood as the lone female together in an intimate way. All so that we can know, and you can know, that we are not walking this journey alone. Good, bad, indifferent, significant, mundane we are in this together. 

These men, yes, they will all become men, are the company we keep everyday and they fill our hearts and our minds with unique perspective on the world. They challenge the stereotypes of what raising boys "should be" and write their own stories. 

I'm going out on a limb here to say that at one  point or another we have each heard something along the lines of our lives being less because we are not raising a girl. And yes, we will never know that life but that doesn't mean a girl isn't being raised in our homes.

These men give us the unique experience of learning and growing and being raised in so many ways that make us better people. And isn't that the point of being mindful of the company you keep? 

I am thankful to keep the company of these women and their sons. 

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

Here we go......

Monica

Being a teenager is so hard.  Being the mom of a teenager is so hard.  Sometimes, I ache for that little blonde-headed boy who was the first to call me Mom.  I want so much to wrap you up in my arms and read to you, where you were safe.  Now here you are, bigger than I am.  Some days you think I'm the worst person on earth.  You seem so distant, and we don't connect like we did when you were a child.  Instead of teaching you to read, I'm scrambling to prepare you for the harsh realities of the world.  But then, there are moments of grace.  I think we need more of those. - Abbi Ottman

For both of you, it’s about the journey. No matter how grand the final destination, you have the extraordinary gift of being able to joyfully soak up the present. Day by day, month by month, I watch you grow and pass milestones it seems like we’d never reach. So here is where you become my teacher… teaching me how to be with you, in this moment.

Every day I remind myself to be more like you. - Andrea Moffatt

The greatest feeling in the world is when you're in that soccer field, definitely your favorite season and Yes! I'm your big fan. - Antonieta Esis

Summer – It’s been a blast! We’ve camped, we’ve played in the park till the sun went down, we’ve swam in the sea, we’ve been on your holidays and you’ve done it all with your big brothers at your side. We will all be sad to say goodbye to the summer.  Cool evenings are already drawing in here and it will soon be time to get on a coat for school! With the winter comes your one big wish! You were almost a baby the last time we had proper snow in the UK so here’s to hoping your wish gets granted and we see some “proper,-sledging down the hill tops” snow here this year!  - Nina Callow

There are moments where you’re covered in dirt, wiping boogers on your clothes, and grossing me out completely.  But then there are moments when we connect.  While discovering and admiring a cute anole lizard.  And I’m thankful for those moments. - Donya Gjerdingen

The transition from one boys to two has been nothing like I expected. Not because babies are hard work, but because I had no idea what it would mean to my 3 year old. How could I explain the changes that would be in store for us to a preschooler when I had no way of knowing what would happen myself?

After the very brief honeymoon following the birth, we had weeks of meltdowns and plenty of ‘I don’t love Mommy’ and ‘I don’t like the baby’ proclamations. Weeks of struggling to find balance and failing. I spent countless nights questioning our choice to have another baby, feeling like we would live with this chaos and tension in our lives forever.

And then, after one of our lowest points following a meltdown in the middle of Ikea, we slowed down. We prioritized giving both boys the individual attention they needed and ignored all of the extra noise for a while. Things began to click. I started hearing ‘I love you a little bit’ instead of ‘I don’t love you’. I found my preschooler comforting his baby brother when he thought no one was looking. It’s still not always easy and I never seem to have enough hands or time, but we’re finally finding our rhythm. - Kayla Maltese

Sometimes I over estimate what it takes to fill up your love tank. I forget that something as simple as playing a 20 minute game of HORSE with you in the backyard like we did the other night does the trick. I could literally see your whole being light up....your eyes, your smile, your tone of voice. You even complimented me on my basketball skills...which seriously, we all know are completely lacking! Despite that fact, you in turn filled up my mama tank without even knowing it. You probably thought I was beaming because I beat you at that game of HORSE but no...it was all because of you buddy. Well, ok...and a little because I totally schooled you and that will most likely be the only time that ever happens!  - Juli Jones

Trying to record the life and bond of two men they were children as seen through their mother's eyes. - Janielle Granstaff

It was getting late but you were determined to see what your big brothers were getting upto down the street....you waved me goodbye as I watched your scooter fade into the darkness...you are growing up too quick my little man.... - Sarah Roberts

Oh, sweet little brother, You want to do everything in the immediate footsteps of your big brother, but you just can't yet. Your quiet, contentment has turned to deafening frustration, magnified by the delay of your words. You want us to know, to feel, to share, how deeply you dislike these limitations set before you. But, we know, baby brother. We all know. One day, it won't all be so hard. Until then, we carry your frustrations as our own. - Kelly Sutton