Today is slow-it-down-sister Sunday. I named it myself. Sunday is getting a bad rap in my house, and I’m sad about that. So today I’m going to start fresh because the little motivational sign in my kitchen says “Believe in fresh starts and new beginnings.” But as we all know, believing in something is one thing; putting it into action is another. Today is a commitment to slowly doing the laundry throughout the day, going for a walk, making grocery shopping enjoyable (somehow), and doing a little around the house here and there - just enough to sleep peacefully on a school night - maybe, just maybe, push off those Sunday Scaries. More importantly, in a season for me when there is so much new, I’m claiming a day, maybe several actually, for taking a look at what has always been there. It’s in this place that I believe I can find reassurance that where I’m going is good and right.
So first, I’m zooming in on a family that deserves way more of my gratitude than I openly give to them. This crew, starting with Julie JOHNSTON & Richie, would not take no for an answer when I arrived in their lives in 2009, single and with an empty social calendar. They took skeptical me along, wearing my zebra print cardigan, to watch a dodgeball game. I vaguely remember the drive over to the court. I was sitting in the back seat, listening to them wonder if one or the other blew out a candle before we set out to the court. A couple street blocks and several worries about new pup Wyatt later, they agreed to turn around and double check. I remember thinking, huh... this is adulthood. Oh, how that was the beginning of so much more. These two taking a chance on me would set the stage for countless events in my life - marriage, careers, first marathons, first babies and more babies. Step classes and tanning beds were even back in there somewhere. These days, the Olivers, party of five, are still dragging me out of what’s comfortable, pushing me to my limits, dishing out the tough love, and in general, caring for me as one of their own. Not a thing has changed. (Well, with the exception of the step classes and tanning beds. None of that.) I’m struggling to come up with a repayment plan for the many ways they show up for me and my Carmichaels. A tangible thing doesn’t seem quite right, and no matter how often I offer to babysit their squad, they manage to keep telling me it’s not necessary. And so, I just keep coming to their door with my camera and occasionally a batch of vegan pumpkin pie fudge. It’s just about all I’ve got, apart from these words which are long overdue.
My camera love started around the same time as sweet baby Elizabeth’s personality started to shine through. Eli’s baby blues were and still are mesmerizing, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to take the pictures that were forming in my head, mostly because shutter speed and I were strangers at the time and that baby was on the move. I tried to bring a cute teal Christmas tree for Eli and big sister Sadie to decorate. Again, the picture in my head never quite happened. For some reason, Julie humored me and kept on letting me show up and try. Today’s update: Eli is still incredibly on the move, but I’m getting pretty darn close to catching up with her.
This is Eli.
This joy? Her very special 3rd birthday, complete with magical unicorns and the best of friends and family. Now I have been to my fair share of tiny child birthday parties, y’all. Never has there ever been such an ecstatic guest of honor. I think this is what happens when the spotlight shifts to the middle critter, and she’s finally old enough to put the pieces together. There’s something special about Eli though. She spent much of her little party wandering around calling her little cousin Esley and my little Evie Mae princesses and guiding them around her house.
I adored watching her talk to her favorite school buddy, “Char Char, I need you in here!” and stopping to grab her mom and dad’s necks periodically for birthday girl snuggles. What a dreamy little lady. Note the curls.
E is sandwiched between the best of siblings: Sadie and Patrick.
Sadie is equal parts sensitive and bold and brave, and perfect in my eyes, though I realize I might be a biased godmother. Patrick is the baby boy we’ve all been waiting for. Truly a miracle, it’s unbelievable that he's only been in our lives for five months. Together, these five Olivers make quite the tribe. They grace our greater community through their friendships, full-time professions, dance and gymnastics classes, dodgeball STILL, volleyball, football, and running teams - j u s t for f u n and f i t n e s s. They call out Sunday suppers and host all the playdates. Meanwhile, they deal with the challenges of being a part of this generation and at this stage of life - just like the rest of us, and on top of all of that, they deal with little ole me. :) If you’re looking for someone to speak truths about balance and living with authenticity - The Olivers will have your covered… (I mean - keep looking because they’re all mine!!)
Love you, Olivers. Endless gratitude for investing in me and always helping me figure out which way is forward.
Cheers to the many, many birthdays to come.