Playing In The Leaves

Yay we actually had a Fall this year (kinda)! We went over to my dad's house last week to visit him and his fiancé, and he had raked up a big pile of leaves for Evie to play in! There were pumpkins to carve and we had a great time. I spent most of the afternoon taking pictures, which is what I enjoy doing. Here they are!


5 Years!

Yesterday was Spencer's and my 5th wedding anniversary! It's amazing to think that we've been married for so long. At the same time, it feels like we've always been together. Probably because we almost always have. We've been friends for 12 years now, and we started dating 9 years ago. Nine! Spencer pointed out that another 5 years and we will have been together in our lives longer than we've been apart. What an amazing thought. We didn't have a lot of money to do anything extravagant this year (economy is still getting to us and all our extra money is going to my education) and my mom just had surgery again so we didn't really have a babysitter at our disposal. So last night we waited until Evie was asleep and then my mom (wonderful as she is) stood guard over the sleeping child (who graciously stayed asleep) while Spencer and I went out to dinner at Rodizio Grill. I put my diet on hold for an evening and just enjoyed the occasion. I had a passion fruit martini and gorged myself on grilled pineapple. I enjoyed making Spencer's gifts this year. He's always teasing me about getting on pinterest but he sure enjoyed getting presents inspired by pinterest projects! I made him one of those "52 Things I Love About You" things out of a deck of cards, and I made a chalkboard print that kind of chronicles the last 5 years of our lives. I framed it in white and it's going on our wall in the living room. The last five (9/12) years have been so amazing, I can't wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us!


The Learning Process

At the beginning of this year, I found myself extremely intimidated by the classes I have to take. I was looking at them not as greater opportunities for learning and growing as an artist, but as roadblocks: boundaries between me and what I really want most. These classes are required for all art students in the first year of the program no matter what your emphasis is, and they're designed to give you a VERY general overview of arts and art history.

I have never considered myself very good at drawing. I have always thought of there being this disconnect between my brain and my hand and what I see in my mind just doesn't come out on paper.

I assumed* that my 2D studio would be a year of show up, draw this, and you'd better be good at it. It never occurred to me that they might actually TEACH me to draw along the way.

My 3D studio intimidates me the most. I have almost no experience working in sculpture, and I will admit, fairly little interest in it. I have few ideas for things to build and even fewer ideas on how to build them. But I realized something the other day. I don't have to get through this whole year in one big block of time. Just one day at a time. And anyone can make it through three hours of playing with a hot glue gun.


Birthdays and Back to School

Lots of people in the Miller family had birthdays this month! Mine came first, on the 13th; I turned 26! After a few days it kinda hit me and I got scared. 26 is getting close to 30, and by 30 I REALLY need to have my shit together! I feel like I'm still completely irresponsible and scattered, even though I take care of a house and a child (not to mention the husband…lol). Anyway, Spencer cooked me a lovely breakfast and took care of Evie all day so I could just lie around and do whatever I wanted. It was better than Mother's day! When E was napping Spence and played video games together (such childish fun) and then Spencer made me dinner (spaghetti and meatballs-yum!). For presents I got a miniature Dalek figurine (EXTERMINATE!), a nice bottle of wine, a book I've really been wanting (it's about being a mother, see below for laughs), and get this: a starter collection of vintage cameras! SO exciting! I'm really starting to feel like a photographer now! I also got a haircut, a gift from my dad and to myself; it was time for a change for lots of reasons. Spencer got me an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins with chocolate cake and coffee ice cream-my favorite!

Spencer's birthday is a week after mine, and I tried to make it nice for him. I made eggs benedict for breakfast-it takes about an hour to make and is very labor intensive. It's one of his favorite things to eat but this is only the second time I've made it because it's so difficult! I made a chocolate cake from scratch and we had ice cream to go with. Spencer actually shares a birthday with my mom so we celebrated both birthdays that day, and I had a lot of work to do to make both of them feel special! That afternoon we all went out to lunch with Spencer's parents at Zupa's. LOVE that place! Spencer's parents gave me their present to me, a cookbook featuring classic Irish Pub recipes! I love it! Whiskey and honey glazed carrots? Yes please! And I can appreciate it as a(n) (aspiring) photographer because there are many beautiful pictures of the Irish countryside in it. Someday I will go there. It's on my bucket list.

Monday was my first day back at school, and my first day as a student in the art program. It was wonderful. I really felt different, like I was where I was supposed to be. A few days ago I had a dream about the first day of school. I dreamt I went to the wrong class, chemistry of all places. It wasn't until the class ended that I realized I wasn't supposed to be there, but it ended with enough time for me to make it to the correct class on time. When I told Spencer about the dream, he told me it was a good metaphor for my life. I started at the U in the Biology/pre-pharm program, but I was miserable. I was doing it because I thought it was the kind of thing people would expect me to do. But it wasn't what I wanted. But I discovered what I wanted with enough time in my life to go for it. It's not too late to go for what will make me happy. It's never too late.


18 Months!

As of a couple days ago, Evelyn is officially 18 months old! I can't believe how the time has flown by. She's so big and so bright. She's so special. There are so many wonderful words I could use to describe her, but I'd be here all day. She's everything to me. I thought that to memorialize the occasion I'd make a list of some of the quirky things she does. She has such a cute, sweet personality. She makes me smile every time I see her and every time I think about her.

~before she started learning to speak, we taught her some sign language so she could communicate her needs and wants to us. Now that she's starting to speak, she says and signs some of her words at the same time. It's wonderful.
~When I'm eating something she wants, she comes up to me and says "nom nom nom"
~She's such a lover. She has so much love to give. She'll be playing with her toys and for no reason she'll stop, come over to me and give me a kiss and a hug, and then go back to playing. Melts my heart.
~Her first word was "book." enough said.
~Of all her toys, her favorite is a stuffed marmot. A MARMOT. So bizarre.
~She's starting to learn to count, especially when she stacks her blocks, and she counts one of two ways. Every number is either 4 or a repeated pattern of 6 and 7.

She is such a huge blessing to Spencer and I and brings so much joy to our lives. I'm so happy to have her.


Camping and Spencer's Fencing Tournament

Over this last weekend Evelyn spent a few days with her Mochan (my mom, who doesn't like being called "grandma") and Spencer and I got to spend some time alone on a road trip! We went up to a campground near Idaho City, about 37 miles East of Boise. Spencer is a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) which is a group that essentially does Renaissance reenactments. I'm considering joining myself. He does rapier/fencing and I want to get into weaving. We spent Thursday-Sunday up in Idaho and had a wonderful time. We participated in so many wonderful activities and met so many wonderful people. We made lots of new friends that we'll get to see again soon at other events (can't wait). It was a lovely vacation and so restful and the drive was beautiful and quiet. At the event itself Spencer participating in a fencing tournament (SO much fun to watch!), there was an arts and crafts display (with embroidery, weaving, pewter casting, wood carving, homemade liquors, and a bunch of other stuff), a bardic (big bonfire after dark with drinking and singing), archery, throwing weapons, and heavy fighting competitions, and a potluck bbq. I can't wait for the next event!


Utah Arts Festival

Yesterday the whole family geared up, covered ourselves in sunscreen, and braved the crowds to go to the Utah Arts Festival. It was so much fun. We go every year, but we absolutely HAD to go this year because I heard that Robert Hall was going to be there. He's a photographer who specializes in lithography who is my favorite artist and has been a huge inspiration to me since I started my journey in the world of photography. I met him at a gallery opening in January and he's been in my thoughts ever since. He works strictly with film (a brave thing to do in the age of digital and post-production editing capabilities) and not only did he REMEMBER me from the gallery opening, he told me to get a few more classes under my belt at school, and then to come talk to him and he said we'd see what we could work out in terms of a mentorship! SQUEEEE! To have someone you respect and admire and who inspires you offer to work with you on such an intimate level...I almost started crying right then and there. It was wonderful. And of course I couldn't leave without buying three of his prints.

Me and Robert Hall

Ok I'll stop gushing now

We also saw Justin Hillgrove, who's art is called Imps and Monsters. We considered buying a bunch of his art when we were thinking of doing Evie's room in a monsters theme. His monsters are quite cute. But lately he's been branching into more commercial-themed things, which happened to include some studio Ghibli characters, so we picked up this adorable print for Evie's room (Which, you may recall, is Totoro-themed).

I also found an artist whose use of colors just drew me in...so rich and vibrant. I found a piece called "Baile!" and it's a Flamenco dancer. It really appealed to be because I'm a quarter Spanish. It made me think not of the person I am, but of the person I want to be: confident, beautiful, powerful, passionate.

All in all I'd say it was a wonderful day. :)


Walking on Sunshine

Lately my mom, Evelyn and I have been going for walks during the day. There are a couple motives here; to get Evelyn tired out so she naps better (it's working) to build her confidence in walking, and to get her used to the idea of holding my hand when we're out someplace. She's doing great! We have been walking to the end of the block and back without her showing signs of getting tired and she holds my hand the whole time. She's such a good girl. I love her so much.


Memorial Day and Father's Day

Memorial Day was a lot of fun. My sister's family joined us at the Miller's so it was one huge get-together! Well, not huge by Utah standards, but huge for me. There about 12 of us there, which for me is a lot of people! Lana really enjoyed having kids around so she could get some grandmothering out of her system, and my sister enjoyed letting her kids get some energy out of theirs! Evelyn wore an adorable little patriotic romper that I got on sale at The Children's Place and as usual I was just overwhelmed by how beautiful she is. I just can't get over how blessed I am to be her mother.

Father's Day was wonderful. I got Spencer his gifts early so he could enjoy them: a fencing mask and gorget he can use in SCA. We're going up to Idaho in July and now that he has his own gear he can get registered and actually participate in the tournament. I'm excited for a road trip. It will be fun to go camping for a couple days. Anyway, that's kind of off topic. The friday before Father's Day was my dad's birthday, and he had a BBQ to celebrate both, so Spence, Evie and I went over to his place to celebrate with him and his girlfriend. We had a great time and a great meal and really enjoyed the company. Evelyn was very well behaved...until we gave her a cupcake. Even though she had a bath earlier in the day she insisted on rubbing frosting in her hair (what toddlers do) and had to have another bath before we could take her home. She even wore the cupcake wrapper on her head like a hat for awhile. Silly girl. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate my father, who has sacrificed so much for me, and my husband, who works so hard to give our daughter the life we feel she deserves.


Setbacks in School

Well this is just lovely. Lately I've really been excited for school. I've been really feeling like I'm on the right path and I've been just thrilled about the opportunity to be back in school and looking forward so much to fall semester. But life has placed a bit of a bump in the road as far as school goes. Last semester I had a really hard time and ended up having to medically withdraw from my classes and petition for a refund. I didn't realize that petitioning for a refund would mess with my student loans completely. My petition was approved, so the school had to pay back the federal government for my student loans. Now the school wants me to pay them back for my student loans. And they've placed a hold on my school account until I do it. I'm prevented from registering for classes for Fall semester until I pay the school over $1600. I am completely devastated. It's obviously going to be really difficult to manage. But the idea of anything standing between me and school is just crushing.



Evelyn was sitting on Spencer's lap the other day and she leaned over and pulled a book off the bookshelf. The book she had chosen is called Run: 26.2 stories of Bilsters and Bliss. It was given to Spencer as a birthday gift by his brother Jeremy who runs marathons and ultra marathons (50 miles and longer). It's a book about running and at the same time not; overcoming challenges in general and the satisfaction that brings. What was significant was that when Evelyn opened it Spencer noticed for the first time that not only was it signed by the author, but it was made out TO Spencer with the inscription "Never be afraid to give up good to go for great."

Those words have been stuck in my head for days. It also makes me think of something I read on Pinterest the other day: You can't spell 'challenge' without 'change'" Those two sayings combined make me think of a trapeze artist. She must let go of the first bar and for a split second hang free in the air, and experience the fear of falling, before she can grab on to the next one. I feel like I'm at a point in my life where I've just let go of that first bar. For a minute I thought I was going to fall. But that second bar is in sight. I'm flying through the air but I'm in prime position to grab on tight.


Mother's Day

Our Mother's Day celebration was really more of a Mother's Weekend. Lots of mom's in our family! On Saturday, I took my mom out to lunch at Buca di Beppo. We had a reservation at the chef's table. Mom had saltimboca and I had the prosciutto-stuffed chicken. And we both had a lot of tiramisu! That afternoon Spence took me on a little mini shopping spree to Sephora so I could get some new make up. So much fun! On Sunday Spencer, Evelyn and I went out to breakfast with my dad and his girlfriend Sue. The restaurant was busy but it was a lovely breakfast. Then we came home and a nice quiet afternoon. That evening we went over to Spencer's parents house for a buffet-style dinner and lots of desserts! Kevin (Spencer's dad) is completely wrapped around Evie's finger and loves playing wither her. They had so much fun together.

Monday was my big day though. We couldn't get dinner reservations anywhere on sunday so we agreed to go out on monday instead. We got all dressed up and Spence took me out to dinner and I didn't know where we were going until we got there: Flemings Steakhouse! I LOVE Flemings! It was incredible. They gave us parmesan garlic bread with a chardonnay-infused feta cheese spread. Then to start Spencer had fried pork belly with cherry compote and goat cheese grits (I tried it, it was delish!) and I had a roast beet salad with whipped chèvre and arugula with a pistachio vinaigrette. Then came the main course. I was so excited I don't even remember what Spencer ordered! I got a mango mojito (Since Spencer was driving) and a tea and orange infused filet mignon. YUM! oh it was just superb! and for dessert we shared a chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. Simple, but stunning. After dinner we went on a drive and ended up at Sugarhouse park. We parked on top of the hill just in time to watch the sun go down. It was an incredible sunset. Just for us. I felt so loved and so appreciated. It was wonderful.


Fun Times and The Dentist

We've been having some fun times over here at the Miller house. Last week we went on a picnic with Spencer's parents up at Sugarhouse park. Evelyn got a new little pink chair from Grandma Lana, which she loved. Grandpa Kevin played peek-a-boo with Evelyn during dinner, and afterward we all took turns taking her down the slide. And she even made some new friends! She had so much fun!

Evelyn had her first visit with the dentist the other day. We got to hear a horror story about a one-year-old with four teeth and cavities in all four teeth! Thank God that's not the case here! Evelyn has six teeth and the dentist says they all look great! She was so good for the dentist. There was a monster with teeth and I showed her how to brush the monster's teeth and then she brushed the monster's teeth. She was so good!


My Photography

Since I someday want to start my own photography business, I've started doing photo shoots for my friends. I've started a blog where I can post photos from my shoots. Check it out at Caitlinmillerphotography.blogspot.com !


Evelyn's First Birthday!

Evelyn's First Birthday was celebrated ALL WEEK LONG! We started out on Sunday, celebrating with my dad and his girlfriend Sue, and her daughter Kate (confusing, I know). We went out to brunch and then went back to Sue's house for cake and presents. Evie got an activity cube and a book on first words, and a new outfit, She also got her first taste of cake!

Evelyn's actual birthday was on Tuesday and was pretty quiet. Spencer had work and I had school. But throughout the day we reminded Evie that it was her special day and gave her lots of extra love. Spence brought home a cupcake after work and we sang to her and had a little mini-celebration before bed.

and yes, she is eating the cupcake wrapper and not the cupcake.

The BIG party came on saturday. We hung up lots of polka dot balloons and streamers and made snacks and hung a balloon on the railing outside our front door. I made a polka dot tutu out of tulle and pompoms (Thanks GOD for pinterest!) and we had a special bib that said "ms. one-derful". We ordered a smash cake and invited friends and family to come and spend the afternoon with us. We also had something special planned: while people were there, we had them each write a letter to Evelyn either with a memory or making a prediction about her future, and all those letters are going in a time capsule to be opened on her 18th birthday! Such a fun idea-I'm so excited. I'm going to tease her with it as she grows up. After the party we were cleaning up and the doorbell rang, it was our neighbors Robin and Scott. They had seen the balloon outside and figured out it was Evelyn's birthday, so they wanted to bring by a gift and a card. It was really humbling because they don't have much, so it was a widow's mite type of gift. It's a little stuffed monkey and Evelyn loves it. She smiles and gives it kisses and laughs. After they left we decided to end the day by cutting the balloon and setting it free. It was a wonderful day.


My Experience With Postpartum Depression

I want to say that every woman should read this. That's probably not true. But I think that every woman should read something like this. Something that reminds them they're not alone in this struggle. Maybe if I'd had someone to connect with, this would have been easier for me. Maybe not.

As Evelyn's birthday draws closer, I find myself thinking more about that time in my life and the struggles I've faced since my husband and I decided we wanted to have a child.

When I decided to get pregnant, I knew postpartum depression was a risk. I knew it ran in my family, and I knew I was at an increased risk because I'd experienced depression in the past. I did everything I could think of to prepare myself for what I thought could be an eventuality. While I don't regret the mental preparation I did do, there was nothing that could have adequately prepared me for what I was going to experience.

Being pregnant was the most painful, uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced. It was also the most magical. I felt like I was doing something special and important. I felt like I WAS special and important. I felt glorious, even amidst the pain and bed rest and severe morning sickness. I felt like the center of the universe. When Evelyn was born suddenly, that abruptly ended. The lights dimmed and darkness started to spread. No longer was I important or special. I was just another person. Just another person with a baby, in Utah of all places. Most people I know my age have children. That didn't make me special. And it didn't make me important.

My daughter's birth was a traumatic experience for me. My husband had just left town and I didn't realize that the fluid I'd been leaking for three days was amniotic fluid. I honestly thought it was just mild incontinence caused by the fact that I was 34 weeks pregnant. It never occurred to me that it was possible to leak amniotic fluid; I was under the impression that when your water broke it broke completely. It was naive but I didn't know any better. I thought I had almost six weeks of pregnancy left. I thought I had time to emotionally prepare for the separation I knew was going to take place when I delivered. But I didn't. I mentioned to my mom that I was leaking SOMETHING and she insisted I call the hospital. Good thing too. When the on-call doctor called me back, he actually yelled at me over the phone. "You've been leaking fluid for three days and you're just NOW calling me?!" He told me to get to the hospital immediately; that if I was in fact leaking amniotic fluid I was going to have to be induced. I called Spencer and he started the 10-hour drive back to the valley. I was terrified. I wasn't ready to have my baby yet. I wasn't done. She wasn't done. Would she be ok? Would Spencer make it in time?

When I got to the hospital they confirmed that I was leaking amniotic fluid and told me they would immediately start me on pitocin to induce labor. I had no choice in the matter. Thank God Spencer made it home on time. I got to hold Evelyn for 5 minutes before they took her to the neonatal intensive care unit. I didn't see her for another 9 hours.

I didn't have time to feel much of anything while Evie was in the NICU. We lived at the hospital, sleeping in something akin to a hotel room connected to the NICU. We came home to shower and change our clothes and then we went back to the hospital. We spent hours on end sitting next to Evelyn while she was under the bili-lights. It wasn't until we brought her home that I started to sink. I had a feeling that it might be coming, so I immediately called my doctor and she put me on antidepressants. I wasn't allowed to breastfeed after that. Just one less way for me to connect with the life I had helped create.

I slowly spiraled downward as my maternity leave came to a close. When it came time for me to go back to work, I lost it completely. My third day back, I tried to overdose while on duty. I was taken to LDS hospital and spent six days in the psychiatric ward. Evelyn was allowed to visit me once. I was put on more meds and let go. I couldn't go back to work, but administration would not approve any type of leave. I was fired.

I thought that as time went on it would get easier. It didn't. I grieved for the time and opportunities I had lost. I would progress, and I would backslide. As I watched those around me become pregnant I mourned for what I was missing. I felt myself becoming angry with them. They had something that I wanted and couldn't have. I felt disgusted with myself. Something good had happened to someone I loved and I was sad about it; blaming them for the way I felt. I felt like an even worse person. I felt like I couldn't admit what I was feeling for fear of retribution. What kind of person thinks this way?

Since these feelings of depression have manifested in my life I've felt many things. One of the predominant feelings is a feeling of worthlessness. I look at my friends who are mothers and who are, or at least seem to be, doing well in their roles as caretaker and I feel like I'm less than them. Like because I have these feelings I'm not as good a mother, and will never will be. I understand logically that it's not a competition, but emotions are rarely logical and depression never is. I want to hate myself for the way I feel. A friend texted me yesterday to tell me she was pregnant and I broke down and started crying. Not out of happiness for her, but grief for me. I feel angry, sad, and resentful. And I shouldn't. It's not ok to feel this way, which makes me feel worse. It's a downward spiral and I often feel like I'm getting out of control. I can't control the way I feel and I almost can't control the way I react.

No one talks about postpartum depression. If I've known anyone who suffered from it, they never told me, and went on with their desperate struggle to function in silence. Pretending everything was great in their new lives as moms. I can't be like that anymore. I can't be silent while I suffer so much. My daughter is a joy in my life and I don't blame her for any of this; it's not her fault. And I need to learn to grasp the concept that it's not MY fault, either.

If you've made it all the way through this rant, I salute you. And if you happen to be one of my friends, and if you happen to be pregnant, I have some requests.
~please understand that I truly am happy for you. I'm just not happy for me. There's a difference.
~please be patient with me. I'm doing the best I can just to make it through the day.
~If you suffer from depression, please don't keep it to yourself. Find someone, anyone, who you trust to help you, even if it's not me.

This is the biggest battle I've ever fought. Maybe someday I'll win.


Things To Come

Well I'm in my second semester up at the University of Utah, and have started taking classes specific to my Photography major. I've also been reading a book on business practices in the boutique photography industry. I'm excited about starting my own business (which won't be for several years still) and it's also terrifying (Thank God it's not for several years!). Since I want to specialize in maternity and newborn photography, I've been working with some friends of mine who are pregnant and scheduling some shoots for free. I'll put some pictures up when I have some. Exciting!

Evelyn is getting SO big. She's almost 19 pounds now! And in less than a week, she'll be ONE YEAR OLD! It's amazing, it feels like no time has passed at all. And honestly she doesn't seem THAT much bigger (granted, she's not) but she's learned so much. Though she hasn't said her first word she's talking all the time, and she will walk with help. She can stand on her own and even dance (which is the cutest thing) and she'll dance to any music that's playing. She loves to laugh. She laughs so much.

I'm obsessed with taking pictures of her. She's so beautiful (honestly have no idea how that happened) and she's so well behaved. She eats anything we try to give her, sleeps through the night and is great with sharing. If you ask her to give you something she will. She's just such a blessing and such a joy. Can't wait til her birthday party!