An Open Letter to my Son: Just be Yourself

Posted: January 13, 2015 by Rachel

Since before my son DJ was born in March 2013, I have been writing to him in the form of a book made up mostly of words of guidance that I hope he will hold dear to him as he grows older.

In this day and age, where we are inundated with “perfect” images of everyones’ “perfect” lives across social media, I found this particular letter to be of utter importance.


If you take away only one thing from this book, DJ, please let it be this: just be yourself.

You are good enough. Most people are afraid to do things because they are afraid they’re not good enough, afraid they’ll fail. But you are good enough — learn that and you won’t be afraid of new things, won’t be afraid to fail, won’t need the approval of others. You’ll be pre-approved — by yourself.

There will be people that cross your path that will try to tell you that you aren’t good enough – not smart enough, not pretty enough, or athletic enough. I’m here to tell you that whoever you are, the kind of person that you grow up to be, will always be enough. You will always be enough.

You will find out that there are people in life who feel poorly about themselves, and think that the only way they can build themself up and feel better about themself is by tearing others down. These people, DJ, are more insecure and confused about themselves than you could ever possibly be. Do not let them get you down.

Don’t be afraid of who you are. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, whoever that may be. DJ I promise you that there won’t be anything you can do to make your father and I stop loving you. Be proud of who you are and where you came from. You are the product of two parents who love you so fiercely and wholly. You were created in me, grown in me. You are a part of me, and my body. Nothing you can do would or could ever change that.

This next one can be tough, DJ. I know from personal experience that so much of growing up is discovering where you fit in, and so sometimes that means you try on a lot of different hats. Still, don’t try to be someone else, whomever you think you should be, meaning: don’t dumb yourself down for someone, or pretend to be into basketball, or ballet, or boxing, when you really aren’t. There is such a thing as compromise, yes, but it is different than claiming to like something when you don’t. Don’t pretend that you’re in to reading if you’re not. Don’t take an art class just to impress a girl, take it because it is something new and different and it will challenge you.

Just be yourself. You’re already amazing.

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Posted: January 10, 2015 by Rachel

“A portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

DJ – This week I‘ve seen a real shift in the toys you play with. As in, there are a select few. As a result, I’ve packed up a lot of your toys, put some aside for hand me downs, and put the others in your toy chest upstairs. I love that you’re taking more of an interest in the puzzles and blocks these days.

I never really considered not continuing on with this project this year since I ended up capturing some great moments last year. My hopes for 2015 are to really focus on telling a story with my images. What my son is loving these days, what frustrates him, what we do together as a family.

DJ, at 21 months

Posted: December 28, 2014 by Rachel

I want to remember the way you say “mmmm” when you eat something you really enjoy.
I want to remember how when you get a hold of something you know you shouldn’t have, you turn to us and hold up your index finger close to your face as if to say, “I just want to play with it for a second!”
I want to remember how much you love the bench at our new table. That you seem to eat much more if we set your plate down and let you eat standing up at your own pace.

I want to remember how until I bought you the Mickey Mouse plush toy, you had shown absolutely no interest in stuffed animals. Now you carry it around with you like it’s your best friend.

I want to remember the way you run for the door when we say “let’s go on an adventure” or that as soon as we pull out your shoes you sit down on the floor so that we can put them on you.
I want to remember the sound of your laughter when I tickle your armpits, and the way you lift up your shirt when we ask where your belly is. You’ve even started lifting our shirts to look for our bellies.
I want to remember that you tug on the fridge doors when you want a drink, yet refuse to say “juice” or “baba” no matter how much we encourage it.
I want to remember your obsession with “doing your hair.”
I want to remember the way you will run across the room towards me when I ask for a kiss. And that you walk around giving Mickey Mouse eskimo kisses. How did you get to be so sweet?
I want to remember you pointing at the sky with wonder every time we hear an airplane, your eyes squinting because of the light.
I want to remember the way you say “sssshhh-aaaa?” with that great inflection at the end, your way of asking “what’s that?” and how when you want something, you point at it and say “hi.”
I want to remember that you say “nigh-nigh” every time we walk into your room together, even if it’s only for a diaper change or to get dressed.
I want to remember that you found a pair of cowboy boots in your closet that were handed down to us and despite them being far too big for you, you are obsessed with wearing them in the house. Clack clack clack is all I hear right now, and then cries of frustration when one falls off and you can’t get it back on.

I want to remember that you’re going through a phase now where everything is “MINE!” Oh boy.

 ( Inspired by this post by Elise, which she then turned into an awesome project life spread.)

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Posted: December 28, 2014 by Rachel

“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014”

Another yearly tradition in the bag: family photos at Christmas time in the Bellagio atrium. So happy that we have done this for five years now.

And just like that this incredible, frustrating-at-times, inspiring series comes to an end. Will I continue on in 2015? I think I just might…

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Posted: December 20, 2014 by Rachel

“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014”

This week, despite it being so up and down, he blew me away with how much he is beginning to really understand us. I’m truly starting to feel as though my baby is officially gone.

this untitled post

Posted: December 13, 2014 by Rachel

It is 12:15 on a cool, Saturday afternoon and my son has just gone down for his nap. With a steaming, black cup of coffee beside me, I finally have a moment to sit and get some of these thoughts out of my head.
I feel as though I have reached an all-new level of exhaustion. This one is different from the debilitating exhaustion you feel with a newborn, and beyond that of the average stay at home mom. I’m exhausted with myself; with my emotions and the million excruciating thoughts that domineer my mind. I’m exhausted by the status quo, and how long I’ve been merely existing instead of truly living my life.
The worst side effect of this new level of exhaustion is that I feel as though I’m angry, all the time. I stepped on a duplo block and nearly twisted my ankle? Angry. My son won’t stop throwing his apples on the floor? Angry. My husband talks to his cousin on the phone about cars for twenty minutes while I continue struggling to entertain our toddler that hasn’t stopped fussing the whole day I’ve been home alone with him? Very angry.
All roads these days lead straight to anger. And that shit’s not healthy, people. I know that as well as the next person.
I honestly never thought I’d be a stay at home mom at all, let alone for so long. I believe there are women who are truly made for this role, and others who are not, like me.
I miss busy-ness. I do. I like having a schedule, deadlines, someone praising me when I complete a task, someone to report to, a pay check.
I don’t know what 2015 will bring, but I do know that I am going to seek out more of the real kind of busy-ness, the good kind. The kind that fills your heart to the brim, that sends you to bed happy. I don’t have enough of this in my life. I need more of this in my life.
Maybe, just maybe, it will help me to stop being so angry. Because if I look around me, there is a hell of a lot to be thankful for.

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Posted: December 13, 2014 by Rachel

“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014”

To date he hasn’t shown even the slightest interest in stuffed animals. When I spotted this Mickey toy, I had a feeling he would adore it. Turns out, he can’t get enough of it, and carries it around constantly, always tucked closely against him. It was meant to be a Christmas present, wrapped under the tree. I’ll give him just this one early. 

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Posted: December 6, 2014 by Rachel

“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014”

This age, like any age, comes with its complications. But my goodness, this kid. He has my whole heart and so much more. 20 months is the best yet.

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Posted: November 29, 2014 by Rachel

“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014”

He‘s stubborn and opinionated, hates what he hates and sure loves what he loves. Keys, remotes and “doing his hair” are among his true loves as of late.

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Posted: November 22, 2014 by Rachel

“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014”

It feels like every day he becomes more adventurous, more daring, more confident. I feel so blessed that he is mine and that I get to watch him grow like this.