For My Valentine

Your mere existence reminds me every day that anything is possible. Your gentle, patient, loving nature, so unlike anything I’d experienced before. You, my husband are beyond anything I’d ever known.

Nobody makes me laugh like you do. You are so funny without trying.

I’m still in awe of you. I still crush hard on you. You are the one I want to be with forever. You are my home.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you my Love.

*******

AND Happy Valentine’s Day to you my friends! This year Miles surprised me with inflatable stand up paddle boards. I’m SO excited to get out and use them. Stay tuned for pictures of our paddling adventures.

Photography note: Miles staged this photo last weekend. We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs getting that pose.

♥Have a wonderful day.♥

-Rachel McKee

One Year

You kicked and squirmed, I shifted uncomfortably and smiled at my big belly.

I sweat, I cried, I pushed, you pulled.

I squeezed my eyes and clenched my teeth, you saw the light for the first time.

We saw each other and we cried.

I pulled you close and you held on tight.

I talked, you nuzzleddrinking your fill.

You cried the first night, I was weak, Daddy’s arms were strong.

I learned, you taught, we got to know each other.

You needed me, I needed sleep, we were tired.

You laughed, and I understood pure joy.

You rolled over and turned my world upside down.

On all fours you moved away from me, and I scrambled to catch up.

In a high-pitch voice you said “Mama” and I came running.

You looked for “Dada” to come home, and I was just as eager.

You pulled yourself up, and I caught you when you fell (almost always).

You went to sleep a baby and woke up a toddler.

You are one. You are smart. You are sweet. You are brave, and we love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day

There literally isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t thank God for my husband. His gentle touch calms our family, his patience and forgiveness humbles me. He is our hero.  The look of adoration on my son’s face when he sees Miles confirms that I picked the best man to father our son. I will forever be grateful that our paths crossed and we walk the road of parenthood together.

Thank you Miles for being the incredible example our son deserves. Thank you to all of the fathers and father-figures in the worldthis day is for you.

♥R♥

Pic Pick Friyay: Seattle Flight

Miles and I lived in Seattle briefly (six months). During our short stay, Miles surprised me with a flight around Seattle. We had a total blast, and it still warms my heart that he included me on this adventure.

Miles up in the sky (eh, see what I did there?) Miles took some pretty fantastic pictures.

DSC_2223

DSC_2251

DSC_2250

DSC_2239

DSC_2219

DSC_2201

DSC_2197

DSC_2227

DSC_2230

Happy Friyay!

♥R♥

ALL PHOTOS ARE COURTESY OF ©MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY.

Pic Pick Friyay: Methow Valley

Hi guys,

Happy Friyay! My week has been BUSY! I’ve been working like a mad woman on my YA novel.  My manuscript has become my second child and a bit of an obsession.

So, I am happy to spend some time on Pic Pick Friyay. I started Picture Pick Friyay last week with my 50th post. This week I would like to show and tell you about The Methow Valley in Wa. Ladies and Gents, The Methow Valley is the hidden gem of Washington. It holds a very special place in our heart. Miles proposed at The Freestone Inn located in the Methow Valley in October of 2012. We spent our one year anniversary there as well.

I combined two trips into one for this post:

Engagement 2012.

One Year Anniversary 2014.

Ok, I am going to shut up now and let Miles’ pictures do most of the talking.

Engagement 2012

DSC_7854-1
Miles proposed right after this picture was taken. We are standing next to The Lost River that runs past the cabin we rented.
DSC_7860
The Beautiful Vintage Box Miles Made Into A Jewelry Box.
DSC_7866
My Art Deco Engagement & Wedding Ring. Circa 1934.
DSC_7901
The Fireplace In Our Cabin
DSC_7924
Driving Home

 

DSC_7921
Driving Home

One Year Anniversary 2014

IMG_20141019_095707
Celebratory champagne. My last glass of alcohol for 9 months, about three weeks after our anniversary trip we found out I was pregnant!
IMG_20141019_101933
Standing Outside The Freestone Inn.

IMG_20141017_193447

IMG_20141018_101627
If you ever make it to Mazama, do yourself a favor and get breakfast and coffee at The Mazama Store. I dream of their pastries.
IMG_20141018_135318
Good Wine+Vacation=Happy Girl

DSC_7751

DSC_0435
Me Contemplating Nature, Nature Contemplating Me
DSC_0415
Present Me Says To Past Me: “You Are About To Get Pregnant.”
DSC_0419
Fireplace In The Freestone Lodge

DSC_0431

DSC_0358
My Man Crush Always & Forever.

DSC_0375

Happy reading, writing, living, and loving folks.

♥R♥

HOW I MANAGE AS A WRITER AND MOTHER

 

I haven’t talked about my YA novel in a  LONG time. Mostly because I have prioritized other writing opportunities, and lets face it, writing time is precious and rare. A lot of my writing has been personal essays about motherhood because that has been the consumption of my life. It’s easy for me to write about funny, special, horrible moments about motherhood because they happen ALL OF THE TIME and I can complete a short essay while my son is sleeping.

While I want to continue writing about motherhood, I have also made my YA novel a priority again. With all of these writing goals and raising a son I have had to learn some time management and prioritization.

outlining

This is how I attempt to manage writing and motherhood:

CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

This is what my average day looks like:

7AM-8AM

Wake up at 7am and build my social media platform i.e. IlluminatedLiteration (blog), Twitter: @Illuminate_Lit, Pinterest,  Facebook, and LinkedIn. I try to make my rounds as quickly as possible before my son wakes up around 7:30-8:00am.

8AM-11AM

Then I take care of my son (and clean house) until he goes to sleep around 11-11:30am.

11AM-1:30PM

Naps are PRIME writing time. I get two solid hours of uninterrupted writing when he takes a nap. I try to do a lot of my blog posts while he is napping, I also try to catch up on a lot of my blogs that I follow.

1:30-9pM

I’m on parent duty with my husband from 1:30pm- 9pm.

9pm-You can’t keep your eyes open any longer

So guess when most of my writing time happens… late evening and into the night. Sometimes I crawl into bed around midnight or later if I’m on a roll.

Don’t forget to make time to do your research.

If you want to be a successful writer you have to read A LOT. There are some evenings when I skip writing because my brain just can’t even because I know reading your target genre is crucial for a good artistic outcome. Sometimes, if I really need to multi-task I watch a movie adaptation (*gasp*!) and take care of my son. Honestly, the point of writing non-fiction is to tell a story, and watching the movie adaptation of a novel still teaches you structure.

Get Social

This is honestly my favorite part of writingmeeting other writers and professionals in the industry. Unfortunately, this is the step most writers struggle with because at the end of the day, they have to spend a ton of time on their own craft and when you are a mother you have other priorities that you need you RIGHT NOW! I try my best to read other blogger’s work and respond to comments between feedings and when my son is playing and really any time I can grasp a smidgen of time to interact with other writers.

Embrace Chaos And Accept That You Can’t Do It All

I have so many blog posts, stories, words, ideas floating around in my head. I also have a pair of hazel eyes that look to me for nutrition, exercise, learning, and loving. We CAN’T do it all, we can only do our best. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the things we want to do. I know that this blog post could have been 10x better if I had more time, but my son is going to wake up in 30 minutes and I really should eat SOMETHING today.

♥R♥

Daffodils Baby!

Yesterday my little fam and I drove to La Conner, Wa to see the daffodils in bloom. We normally go a little later in the season to see all of the tulips, but we had the perfect opportunity to get away yesterday, so we took it!

We had a blue-sky drive, our son Leif was chatting in the backseat playing with his toys while Miles and I listed to Trampled by Turtles. We laughed and shared some of our day dreams. While driving on Interstate 5, I was humbled, as I am on every drive through our beautiful home state. The diverse landscape is truly staggering,  in a matter of 30 minutes we saw three different mountains (Rainier, Baker, Pilchuck), the Olympic Range, the Puget Sound, and fields of various crops. Spring in the Pacific Northwest is an incredible thing to behold.

My husband is an avid photographer. Some of my favorite shots of his are of the La Conner tulip fields. We try to go every year. Here are a few of Miles’ shots from yesterday.

DSC_2795
La Conner, Wa Daffodils.  Photo courtesy of Miles McKee Photography

 

DSC_2781
Our son Leif taking in the view. Miles McKee Photography.

 

 

DSC_2787
There is the photographer and his apprentice!

 

DSC_2790
Miles McKee Photography

 

DSC_2808
The red tulips are just starting to bloom. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2810
A blanket of yellow. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2820
Leif loved the grass. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2825
Leif wanted to pick the flowers. Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_2832
Miles McKee Photography.

 

DSC_8246
Miles took this photo in 2010. It hangs in our bedroom. I call it “The Kissing Lips”.           Miles McKee Photography.

All photos in 2016 were taken with Nikon D750 and Nikon 80-200MM F\2.8.

♥R♥

 

 

When You Wish Upon a Star and the Universe Answers

Last night after nursing my son I held him in my arms for a few extra minutes. The tension in my shoulders melted as he wrapped his arms around my neck. I breathed in the fresh baby smell that radiated from his warm body after his bath. The scent of banana bread baking wafted through his nursery door. Over the gentle clanging of my husband scrubbing pots and pans, an acoustic version of Disney’s When You Wish Upon a Star played on the radio. I gently began to sway with my son as his body melted into mine and he drifted off to sleep.

In that moment I felt gratitude more profound than at any other juncture in my life. I wished upon a star two years ago for a baby and the universe answered. At that precise moment I felt completely enveloped with the love that surrounded me. My incredible husband was cleaning up the muffin mess that I had made after he worked all day so that I could put our son to bed. One of the many ways he said, I love you throughout the day. My eight month old son told me he cherished me by resting his head on my shoulder; gently giving over to sleep in my trusted arms.

I knew I was experiencing a blessing.

One day when my son leaves the house or he takes a bride of his own, I will resurrect this dance and reflect on that one time I was his whole world. I will remember a time when I wished upon a star and the universe answered. When your dreams really do come true, rejoice.

♥R♥

Blogging the Senses

Cover Image Found @:http://hipster-lyrics.tumblr.com/page/17

14 Pieces of Advice from this New Mom to the Next

DSC_2682

My son will be 8 months old on March 10th. I can utter, “Hello eight months and goodbye eight months.” in one breath. The time went by in one inhale and one exhale. It’s redundant and cliche to exclaim how quickly time flies when you have a baby, but there is a reason it’s repeated day in and day out by parents on your Facebook feed, it’s true.
I guarantee you will spend a good portion of your day frantically Googling every stage your baby is going through to make sure you and baby are up-to-snuff. Let me save you some time, the odds are strongly in your favor that you will not kill your newborn baby. You will find  a wide range of opinion on how you should or should not raise your child. Here are 14 pieces of advice from one new mother to the next:
  1. Kiss your little one often and snuggle them closely, you will hug a slightly different version of them tomorrow. You can’t spoil your baby with affection..
  2. If you fall asleep exhausted in bed with your baby, they will be just fine. You will wake up with the first movement or sound your baby makes. There is much more of a health risk to you, your heart may fall out of your mouth in a panic, but your baby will be fine.
  3. Sleep training is a mean experiment to drive parents crazy! Don’t stress about sleep training and don’t measure your success as a parent by the hours your baby sleeps. (But seriously try to sleep when they do, you deserve it.)
  4. Breastfeeding is one of the most selfless things you will ever do. It’s fucking hard, it’s stressful, it hurts and it’s okay if you swear while your sweet little bundle is ripping your nipple off.
  5. It’s okay if you don’t breastfeed.
  6. The people who judge you for the method you choose to feed YOUR baby are assholes and not worthy of your time or consideration.
  7. You may feel depressed, scared, or like an utter failure at motherhood. From what I hear these “postpartum” feeling will reappear for the rest of your life.
  8. Get ready to feel guilty every day.
  9. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Forgive yourself AND your partner.
  10. Treat yourself: get a pedicure, take a walk alone, go have some girl time. Give your partner alone time as well.
  11. Buy your favorite bottle of wine and stay up late with your partner after baby has gone to bed and watch a sitcom that makes you laugh.
  12. It’s okay if you and your partner don’t have sex for the first six months postpartum, you will again…. one day. Women recover from the PTSD of delivery at different rates and in different ways, start by testing the water.
  13. If your baby doesn’t poop for a week it’s actually okay. Why does nobody tell you this?
  14. Embrace the smiles that you and your baby share. Remember the way they look at you with sleepy adoration when you feed them before bed. Take Polaroids of moments in your mind, you don’t have to capture every moment for social media.
Nobody can prepare you for how fast the time will go by, don’t waste it trying to be the perfect mother, just be their mother, I promise it is enough.

My Favorite Child

DSC_2657Every day I look at my son and think to myself, he will do great things. I don’t know if every mother feels this way, or if it’s just my ego, but I am pretty sure my son is the best.

Does every mother feel her child is the next Einstein? I don’t know, sometimes I see my son playing with his toys moving beads on a wire from point A to point B and he does it in such a precise and calculated way that I have to wonder if every 7 month old puts that much thought into moving beads. Will he be a brain surgeon? A master engineer? Who can say with those bead moving skills?

Does every mother wonder if her child is going to be the next Mozart? When my son “sings” along to Caspar Babypants and sings lalalala over and over again in such a wide range of pitch I have to wonder if my son is the next musical prodigy. Will he play the piano? Mandolin?

Does every mother wonder if her baby is going to be the next Jesus? I mean who does he get those angel eyes from? Definitely not me but wait, his Dad’s eyes are pretty amazing. And when he gently pats my chest while he is nursing and holds his hand over my heart I know he is better than I ever hope to be and his love and compassion are incomparable.

All I know is that he has already mastered the role of son, to me there is no one better.

♥R♥