personal project \\ six people twelve times \\ 06.10

This picture makes me laugh and I don’t like it and I love it all at the same time.

We were on a walk on a local trail. A trail I found a few months ago and have visited several times since. There aren’t many areas locally with this type of tree cover and natural habitat. I LOVE it. We like to sneak off the trail and walk up the dried riverbed looking for treasure. It gets dark and spooky. They pretend to be in a pirate’s cove. We bring our iPod and play it in a portable dock/speaker. We coax Mckenna, we challenge each other, we try not to let the whining get to us.

June is one of the months in the year that I look forward to. I love that we are nearing the end of the school year and that summer and freedom and sleeping in are upon us.

Anna ended first grade. We made a dolphin diorama for school. She showed off everything she learned and made, walking us around her classroom with her proud shy little face. She started reading chapter books. I catch her in bed, on the couch, in the backseat. She likes books about dogs and horses and girls. It reminds me of me. She sings constantly – remembering words to songs that I can’t believe she can remember. Her favorite shirt is the blue one that says: Pony Rides 5 dollars. After a month in the pool, we have started calling her our brown berry – her olive skin just browns right up, no matter the 50 SPF sunblock, it laughs in my face. And she is just as scrumptious, as ripe, as juicy as a berry.

I love her.

Nate ended fourth grade. He is the tallest in his class. He towers over the rest of the group. Towers over the rest of his friends. I loved going into his classroom, he loved showing us everything he had created. He was giddy asking Jeff and I the questions that were tacked on the board – testing us – which one of us was not smarter than a 4th grader? He likes reading books about dragons. He likes to come home and put on his pajamas. It reminds me of me. His favorite spot on the couch is the corner, with his feet kicked up. I call him the accelerator – you can never hear any specific noise when the boys are rough housing, just grunts and giggles, but you can hear Nathan, he makes sure of it in order to get someone else in trouble. I am onto him but he doesn’t realize it yet. He broke his arm falling off his bike just a week before school was out. He picked blue for his cast. When you tease him he bows his head, but you can see the smile on his cheeks, the sweep of his long hair, his freckles.

I love him.

Drew ended seventh grade. I think I may have witnessed the last time he will get out of the car and say “Bye, Mom. I love you.” With a flip of his hair, shoving his phone in his pocket, hitching his backpack onto his shoulder. But I hope not. It never mattered how many other kids were on the sidewalk. I was always surprised by that. I always secretly loved that. He saved a years worth of English papers to burn in a bonfire at the start of summer. This was the first time his yearbook has been important. It reminds me of me. He carried it to school on the last few days, the only thing needed was that and a pen. He looked so big. It was filled with big sloppy girlie letters and declarations of awesomeness. I so wanted to read through every little bit, but they are his to savor. He picked out his own shoes for the first time. He didn’t need me to help him, or show him what I liked. He knew just what he wanted. Black low top Vans with turquoise laces.

I love him.

Mckenna ended seventh grade, and for me the ending was like a dragged out, bumpy landing with an abrupt stop. We bounced and jostled and gripped the arms of our seats through this year of school, until suddenly, the wheels touched down. Not soon enough. But with relief. She has had issues at school – spitting and cursing at teachers, bathroom accidents, showing a lot of stubbornness and willfulness. Acting out in ways we rarely see at home. She is unpredictable yes, but she is predictable in her unpredictability for us. All of this is so unlike her, I know it is her way of telling me she has had it. I am hoping that two months off can help us to see what needs to change for her. Because not a week out of school, her entire demeanor has changed. She is less stressed. She gets to go slowly through her routines. She wakes up at ten or eleven. She spends a lot of time listening to the music on her iPod – literally sitting in her room for hours, playing the same songs over and over, singing as loud as she can, rewinding to get the words right. It reminds me of me. She likes to run errands with me because she can be in charge of the music in the car. She begged for weeks to go shopping at the mall. I told her as soon as school was out. Two days into summer, I took her to the mall and let her buy whatever she wanted. She wanted long dresses and pajamas from Justice. A pretzel and a cheese on a stick. A new Backyardigans plush doll. Kool-Aid lipgloss and a red rose hair clip from Claire’s.

I love her.

I think this is my favorite time of the year. I revel in the lack of routine. The laziness. The open day. I love asking them what they want to do today, and then doing it. I love not having to shuttle them around to school. I love being home with them. I love that right now I can hear Mckenna belting out “Tomorrow” from the Annie soundtrack in her room. I love that Drew is off ice blocking with a group of friends. I love that Anna is tucked into my bed, watching James and the Giant Peach. I love that Nate is settled onto his favorite spot on the couch, playing his latest video game. We realized this weekend that we only have five more years with Drew until he heads off to college. Five years. Five. Years.

This is time for us.

Summer is ours.



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  1. As a teacher, I always thought that summer was a menace, slowly chipping away at all the good info I’d so carefully stashed away in their brains. I hated summer.
    Now that I’m a momma, I see clearly that summer is when I get to reclaim my boy from the student he spends so much time being the rest of the year. Education is fine and good and all, but for these ten weeks, he gets to be him and remember who he is outside of that box. And I love him outside that box. I love summer.
    Thank you for painting the lovely pictures–your words are as good as the images.

  2. Cherish those five years… I know you will, but it’s a blink and then you are packing his room bit by bit. My son, my oldest, has five weeks to leave for college. I keep thinking of all the stuff I wanted to do this summer, and it’s flying by so quickly. Arrgh.. On the other hand, I have my 12 yoa daughter, who is still with me, and her six years will go by just as quickly. Thank you for your lovely words, you create such beautiful pictures, as well as take them. You and a photo shoot are on my bucket list. Gotta pay for college first! Love your blog, and all the honest emotions that you share. Thank you for keeping life in perspective and remindng the rest of us.

  3. I always check in on your blog. Your stories and photos are always remarkable. I have a couple of sons with “special” needs and can so relate to your stories of McKenna. If it helps, my middle son with CP had an incredibly difficult 8th grade year. So difficult I didn’t know how he would transition to high school… but as you know we can’t stop time. I would say his 9th grade year was almost his best yet. He went from HATING going to school to LOVING going to school. I believe it is a mixture both of the school staff and their ability to handle his needs and also his own maturity – and that part is the same whether your child is “normally developing” or not. Keep the faith. It will get better, never easier, but better.

  4. so gracious of you to share your lovely heart and mind. and just when i was thinking…man..she’s lucky..i thought…wait…i have all that too. thanks for end of the week wake up call:)

  5. these are my favorite posts. I love how you describe each child. I should do that. Monthly. They are so small and changing so fast. Thank you for the inspiration. [How are you going to make this into a book? I’d love to know!]

  6. tara–what a treasure your words are!
    and the shoot that sheye did of you,
    mckenna looks sooooooooo much like you in those
    pictures, just beautiful!!!
    I love how you love your family!!!
    I can’t believe how big they are getting!!!
    I remember when you were pregnant with Anna!
    how weird is that?!
    How tall is Nate?! Savannah just finished the 4th grade,
    and is one of the smallest in the class at 4ft 6″ and 60lbs.

    take care tara!
    I love your personal project so much!
    tara pollard pakosta

  7. Thank you for your post. It really made me stop and think about how much I love my kids. I also, like you love the lack of routine that summer brings. I love not having a schedule to follow. I love not having to drive my kiddos around all day. Most of all I love my kids!

  8. So I kind of got all teary eyed when you said Drewsicle will be going off to college in 5 years… Do you think he will still let me call him Drewsicle in 5 years? :-)

    Love you guys! xoxoxoxo

  9. i love this post. it is the best thing I have read on my computer screen in a really long time. and now I am going to go and write down all of the things about my twelve year old that I will forget if I don’t do it. six. years.

  10. I adore your project, Tara! Makes me happy to feel your love for your family. You express it so purely and deeply. I’ve been joining in too. Thank you for giving me a kick document both the hard and the sweet joys of life.

  11. I look forward to reading your “six people” posts. You always have so much to talk about and emotion to share. It is lovely to read and such a good thing to do that you can look back on. The little details are so easily forgotten. Thanks for sharing.

  12. You just hit on every feeling I had about the beginning of summer vacation with my kids. I LOVED summer vacation because I got them back without the stress of school/schoolwork/activities. The other moms thought I was crazy, but I could hardly wait. We’d make a summer calendar and write out everything they wanted to do — I still have the calendars and the lists my kids are now 20 and 17. We dont do the calendar anymore, they are big and have their own plans, my daughter moved into a house with friends this June 1st. She nannies for my twin nephews. When she started 2 summers ago, she made the calendar and lists for them. Sigh.

    Loved your observations of your kids. You are a very thoughtful mom they are lucky to have you. : )

  13. Hey lady… I must say, I’m impressed that you have stuck to the 1x/month photo commitment!! Your post is so eloquent, I love the glimps into your world! I am trying to keep up with the challenge too. July was the first month I did a family photo including our newest little Griffyn. You can follow the link on my name to my blog.

  14. I have loved your family pictures and wait patiently on the 1st of every month for your next post! I have been greatly inspired and have kept up with my own photos since January. I would love to share it with you but unfortunately am making a book on iphoto so it is impossible to share :^(

  15. Tara – I loved reading this, the unique little treasures about each of my nephews and nieces! They are each so special. I love seeing the uniqueness in each of my kids too and the things that they do that remind me of myself or Jason are priceless. I love the openness and spontinaity of the summer also and taking them to do fun things. I love not having the pressure of schedules, homework and dinnertime hanging over my head and the relaxed atmosphere in the house. I love having the time to say “yes” to all the fun things I would usually not feel like we had time for. There is something magical about the summer season. We love you all so much and I enjoy reading about your life as a family. It makes me feel closer to you in the times when we can’t see eachother that often. Love you! Sum

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