SPOTLIGHT ON...THE STUDENTS OF THE FAMILY HISTORIAN WITH HEATHER ROBINSON WINTER 2017

'There is a reason the quote, “Home is where the heart is” has become such a common one.  It is true.  Our homes are the places where we live.  They are more than that though.  A home is an anchor that keeps us securely planted in the big, churning world.  It is where we begin our journeys.  And for many of us, it is where we end them as well.  But all along the way, a home is the backdrop for the hundreds of thousands of stories that we live out alongside our families.  

In my workshop, The Family Historian, I encourage my students to show respect to the places that house their most cherished memories.  I challenge them to seek out the light that comes shining in their windows each day illuminating the moments that help define their family.  Additionally, I inspire my students to see what matters most in their homes - the inhabitants.  After all, it is the relationships and the connections that we make with those we love most that make a house a home.  My students feel a strong desire to not only show the place and the people who they are documenting, but to also leave behind evidence of themselves.  Therefore, my students place themselves into the stories that they tell.  They do this with their words and their photographs.  They do this with utmost love and respect.  They do this because they are family historians.  

I am insanely proud of the heart and soul that the students from the January 2017 run of my workshop showed each day that we spent together.  It is a wonderful honor to be able to call these women my friends.  Here is a sampling of the beauty that they found at home. '

Heather Robinson | Instructor of The Family Historian

“1057 square feet is what they give us to live in, here. Student family housing, two years, and a collective 10 months of Minnesota winter. The top floor of our apartment provides just enough room for beds and clothes. It's reserved for sleeping, changing, using the bathroom, and not much else. So we actually spend 80% of our day in half of that 1057 sq feet: 528 square feet of kitchen and living room. Our kitchen is part dining area, part art studio, part preschool, part office. We eat, we paint, we study, and we play games around this table. For four people, it's not a lot of space. But it's not permanent, either, and we make it work. It's not uncommon to scoot aside a half-finished puzzle or art project in order to make enough room for lunch. Inevitably there are crumbs mingled with beads on the floor. The corner is piled high with preschool lessons/mountains of coloring masterpieces that we can't yet throw away. Daddy's laptop sits next to the flowers he recently brought home for Mommy, while a half-finished lunch lingers, nearby. In a couple hours, the entire table scape will change, based on the need of the next moment. My life runneth over. It's tight. It's messy. It's madness. Some days I wish I had just a small place of my own to keep clean and run to. But then, I remind myself, I'd miss the ever present closeness of you---you pieces of my heart that I share this small space with. We truly live together, here. Together, beside, and on top of each other's lives in one big tangled mess of love. Maybe some day I'll look back on this time as a heroic adventure. Likely I'll cringe at how short my patience so easily got with everything/one under foot. Hopefully I'll remember these simple, packed days when we have little, learn much, and always try to love more.” Image and narrative by Annie Mangelson

“1057 square feet is what they give us to live in, here. Student family housing, two years, and a collective 10 months of Minnesota winter. The top floor of our apartment provides just enough room for beds and clothes. It's reserved for sleeping, changing, using the bathroom, and not much else. So we actually spend 80% of our day in half of that 1057 sq feet: 528 square feet of kitchen and living room.

Our kitchen is part dining area, part art studio, part preschool, part office. We eat, we paint, we study, and we play games around this table. For four people, it's not a lot of space. But it's not permanent, either, and we make it work. It's not uncommon to scoot aside a half-finished puzzle or art project in order to make enough room for lunch. Inevitably there are crumbs mingled with beads on the floor. The corner is piled high with preschool lessons/mountains of coloring masterpieces that we can't yet throw away. Daddy's laptop sits next to the flowers he recently brought home for Mommy, while a half-finished lunch lingers, nearby. In a couple hours, the entire table scape will change, based on the need of the next moment.

My life runneth over. It's tight. It's messy. It's madness.

Some days I wish I had just a small place of my own to keep clean and run to. But then, I remind myself, I'd miss the ever present closeness of you---you pieces of my heart that I share this small space with. We truly live together, here. Together, beside, and on top of each other's lives in one big tangled mess of love.

Maybe some day I'll look back on this time as a heroic adventure. Likely I'll cringe at how short my patience so easily got with everything/one under foot. Hopefully I'll remember these simple, packed days when we have little, learn much, and always try to love more.”

Image and narrative by Annie Mangelson

“The sink full of dishes is a clear sign that your overly tidy mama is tired from a week without Daddy. It speaks louder than the lack of the fourth spoon. The Thomas bowl that used to be your sister's but is now yours rests near the teacup that is yours but was used to steep the teabag that soothed her fever blister. A cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix...always a cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix. And, sitting on the counter top, is the egg carton sister made with a friend to hold the eggs her family shares with ours. We are not an overly materialistic family but that is not to say that we do not value, even revere objects. Little love worn bowls, cardboard covered in glitter glue, eggs the palest shade of blue green, paintbrushes used so often that the soaking never quite does the trick - my how we love these things. Objects of your work, your play, your hurts, your love left behind when the day is done. These things I carefully tuck into cabinets with a smile or pause to celebrate before loading the dishwasher and wiping the counter clean.” Image and narrative by Sarah Scott

“The sink full of dishes is a clear sign that your overly tidy mama is tired from a week without Daddy. It speaks louder than the lack of the fourth spoon. The Thomas bowl that used to be your sister's but is now yours rests near the teacup that is yours but was used to steep the teabag that soothed her fever blister. A cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix...always a cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix. And, sitting on the counter top, is the egg carton sister made with a friend to hold the eggs her family shares with ours. We are not an overly materialistic family but that is not to say that we do not value, even revere objects. Little love worn bowls, cardboard covered in glitter glue, eggs the palest shade of blue green, paintbrushes used so often that the soaking never quite does the trick - my how we love these things. Objects of your work, your play, your hurts, your love left behind when the day is done. These things I carefully tuck into cabinets with a smile or pause to celebrate before loading the dishwasher and wiping the counter clean.”

Image and narrative by Sarah Scott

“this has been a long few days for both of us sweet girl.  you are so exhausted today.  you were awake last night with a never ending cough that would not relent.  i had to take you outside so that you could breath better.  today is a better day.  you have been off playing with your dolls or coming to momma for a snuggle while sister is at her ice skating lessons with daddy.  i want nothing more than to be here comforting you, but part of my heart hurts a bit that i am not there to see sissy ice skating.  the wonder and pain of motherhood... the inability to be in two places at once.” Image and narrative by Kristin Rutherford

“this has been a long few days for both of us sweet girl.  you are so exhausted today.  you were awake last night with a never ending cough that would not relent.  i had to take you outside so that you could breath better.  today is a better day.  you have been off playing with your dolls or coming to momma for a snuggle while sister is at her ice skating lessons with daddy.  i want nothing more than to be here comforting you, but part of my heart hurts a bit that i am not there to see sissy ice skating.  the wonder and pain of motherhood... the inability to be in two places at once.”

Image and narrative by Kristin Rutherford

“The living room, in our new home.  The room with the window I always dreamt of.  We have lazy mornings sometimes and spend far too many hours in our pajamas.  This blanket has seen as much of the earth as you.  A necklace today, courtesy of that broken seam. And that hair that I can’t quite figure out.  Should we cut bangs? Lucy is always under foot and always watching the squirrels, quivering with excitement for hours each day. You'd never know she's a geriatric.” image and narrative by Sara Stiller

“The living room, in our new home.  The room with the window I always dreamt of.  We have lazy mornings sometimes and spend far too many hours in our pajamas.  This blanket has seen as much of the earth as you.  A necklace today, courtesy of that broken seam. And that hair that I can’t quite figure out.  Should we cut bangs? Lucy is always under foot and always watching the squirrels, quivering with excitement for hours each day. You'd never know she's a geriatric.”

image and narrative by Sara Stiller

"every morning around 6 am, I hear you tip toe into my bedroom and stand quietly by my bedside. I always know you are there even though you don't say a word, and I open my eyes to see you wrapped in your pink blanket, round bare belly sticking out, sleepy eyes, as though your first thought upon waking is always to find me. sometimes I tell you momma needs more sleep, or you climb in and cuddle with me, whispering strangely deep thoughts as though you are still half dreaming, like me. You touch my face with your little dimpled hands so gently, you tell me how hungry you are, how much you love me, you always find a way to get me up. you never ever stop talking. The other morning though, when I felt your presence and opened my eyes, you said to me "momma, sometimes I stand here looking at you while you're sleeping and think how beautiful you are." Your words took my breath away. Your love takes my breath away. I took you in my arms and hugged you. I hoped you felt my love too." Image and narrative by Melissa Lazuka

"every morning around 6 am, I hear you tip toe into my bedroom and stand quietly by my bedside. I always know you are there even though you don't say a word, and I open my eyes to see you wrapped in your pink blanket, round bare belly sticking out, sleepy eyes, as though your first thought upon waking is always to find me. sometimes I tell you momma needs more sleep, or you climb in and cuddle with me, whispering strangely deep thoughts as though you are still half dreaming, like me. You touch my face with your little dimpled hands so gently, you tell me how hungry you are, how much you love me, you always find a way to get me up. you never ever stop talking. The other morning though, when I felt your presence and opened my eyes, you said to me "momma, sometimes I stand here looking at you while you're sleeping and think how beautiful you are." Your words took my breath away. Your love takes my breath away. I took you in my arms and hugged you. I hoped you felt my love too."

Image and narrative by Melissa Lazuka

“Today I bought myself flowers.  Today I gave in and bought myself my favorite cookies.  I came home from the grocery store with flowers and cookies in hand and you just smiled at me.Between the exhaustion, mild case of depression that is now over and extreme nausea life has felt blurry. Days have ran together. But you my dear, have gone above and beyond for me. When did the boy I meet in high school turn into a man? It must have happened right before my eyes.” Image and narrative by Chloe Rosser  

“Today I bought myself flowers.  Today I gave in and bought myself my favorite cookies.  I came home from the grocery store with flowers and cookies in hand and you just smiled at me.Between the exhaustion, mild case of depression that is now over and extreme nausea life has felt blurry. Days have ran together. But you my dear, have gone above and beyond for me. When did the boy I meet in high school turn into a man? It must have happened right before my eyes.”

Image and narrative by Chloe Rosser

 

"I could lay out your clothes from the night before out for you. I could ask your daddy or your grandmother to dress you. I huff and puff whenever I cannot get to you in the morning on time and you're still dressed in pijamas by the time we're eating breakfast. I huff about why does no one else can pick out the right clothes and dress you, they can see I am busy making breakfast...does not one else care? Truth is, subconsciously I might be sabotaging anyone else's attempts to dress you because I want it all for myself. Sure, it's nice when once in a blue moon you emerge from your bedroom all made up. You even make attempts in dressing your little sister right after you have dressed yourself. I love when that happens. It's no wonder you know exactly which pair of pants goes with which shirt and sweater - you watch me like a hawk and you absorb everything I do with incredible speed. Often it worries me that together with the good you also absorb the bad. Like my bossy tone of voice when I just want everyone to behave so I can get stuff done. You order your little sister in the same tone of voice when she's ruining one of your games. I ask you to speak to her nicely, but then I remember who taught you this and I get mortified. Your little eyes and ears leave nothing out, you see me whole, as I am and you see me worthy of aspiring to. It is a beautiful feeling, yet I am ashamed of myself when I catch myself not being the best example for you. I am sorry, mom is not perfect, I want you to know that. I know now how the nucleus effect works, so I am trying hard to show you that change can happen if one put's her mind to it. I am ashamed of some of the behaviors I've taught you, but what encourages me even more is the opportunity to show you my transformation...no matter how slow and painful it might be. And you, my darling, teach me every day the most important lesson of all - how to be vulnerable again. You've pried my heart open when you were born and you make sure it will never be closed again." Image and narrative by Mukarram Dadajonova

"I could lay out your clothes from the night before out for you. I could ask your daddy or your grandmother to dress you. I huff and puff whenever I cannot get to you in the morning on time and you're still dressed in pijamas by the time we're eating breakfast. I huff about why does no one else can pick out the right clothes and dress you, they can see I am busy making breakfast...does not one else care?

Truth is, subconsciously I might be sabotaging anyone else's attempts to dress you because I want it all for myself. Sure, it's nice when once in a blue moon you emerge from your bedroom all made up. You even make attempts in dressing your little sister right after you have dressed yourself. I love when that happens. It's no wonder you know exactly which pair of pants goes with which shirt and sweater - you watch me like a hawk and you absorb everything I do with incredible speed. Often it worries me that together with the good you also absorb the bad. Like my bossy tone of voice when I just want everyone to behave so I can get stuff done. You order your little sister in the same tone of voice when she's ruining one of your games. I ask you to speak to her nicely, but then I remember who taught you this and I get mortified. Your little eyes and ears leave nothing out, you see me whole, as I am and you see me worthy of aspiring to. It is a beautiful feeling, yet I am ashamed of myself when I catch myself not being the best example for you. I am sorry, mom is not perfect, I want you to know that. I know now how the nucleus effect works, so I am trying hard to show you that change can happen if one put's her mind to it. I am ashamed of some of the behaviors I've taught you, but what encourages me even more is the opportunity to show you my transformation...no matter how slow and painful it might be.

And you, my darling, teach me every day the most important lesson of all - how to be vulnerable again. You've pried my heart open when you were born and you make sure it will never be closed again."

Image and narrative by Mukarram Dadajonova

“This moment.  This is the moment that brings me home to myself each day, in the midst of the morning hustle. I get up before the sun, before the birds, before the streetlights so that I can arrive in this moment, wholeheartedly, without feeling the need to rush you. I want you to ease into your day softly, with the warm touch of my hand on your back, and the cozy safety of my lap to rub the sleep and dreams from your eyes. The touch of your small hand on my hand makes my heart skip a beat. The weight of your tiny body nestled into mine is sweet perfection. I don’t know how long you will allow me to hold you in my arms like this, so I drink up this moment, and savor its sweetness.  I don’t ever want this feeling to end. As I have made the transition from being a full time Mama, to becoming a working Mama, the clocks feel like they are in overdrive. All of the days that once felt slow and infinite, are now fast and breathtakingly short.  The times we share together now are the book- ends of my day, rather than the pages. This is hard for me. Leaving you each day makes my heartache. I would give anything to sleep in and snuggle with you in bed and spend all day painting and sword fighting and snacking and hunting for ladybugs in the garden. But now that I must kiss you goodbye first thing in the morning and collect you at the end of the day after both of us are tired and spent, I lean into the moments that I do have with you with everything I’ve got; because I want you to feel my love surrounding and elevating you across the span of the long hours that we are apart from one another. In these quiet moments in the semi-darkness of the early morning that I share with you, I can exhale and return, if only for a moment, to those simpler days that we used to share and hold onto you being little for just a little while longer.” Image and narrative by Chelsea Feldman

“This moment.  This is the moment that brings me home to myself each day, in the midst of the morning hustle. I get up before the sun, before the birds, before the streetlights so that I can arrive in this moment, wholeheartedly, without feeling the need to rush you. I want you to ease into your day softly, with the warm touch of my hand on your back, and the cozy safety of my lap to rub the sleep and dreams from your eyes. The touch of your small hand on my hand makes my heart skip a beat. The weight of your tiny body nestled into mine is sweet perfection. I don’t know how long you will allow me to hold you in my arms like this, so I drink up this moment, and savor its sweetness.  I don’t ever want this feeling to end.

As I have made the transition from being a full time Mama, to becoming a working Mama, the clocks feel like they are in overdrive. All of the days that once felt slow and infinite, are now fast and breathtakingly short.  The times we share together now are the book- ends of my day, rather than the pages. This is hard for me. Leaving you each day makes my heartache. I would give anything to sleep in and snuggle with you in bed and spend all day painting and sword fighting and snacking and hunting for ladybugs in the garden. But now that I must kiss you goodbye first thing in the morning and collect you at the end of the day after both of us are tired and spent, I lean into the moments that I do have with you with everything I’ve got; because I want you to feel my love surrounding and elevating you across the span of the long hours that we are apart from one another. In these quiet moments in the semi-darkness of the early morning that I share with you, I can exhale and return, if only for a moment, to those simpler days that we used to share and hold onto you being little for just a little while longer.”

Image and narrative by Chelsea Feldman


The Family Historian with Heather Robinson is one of our most popular classes and is all sold out for the spring run. This class will be offered again sometime in the fall. If you want to be notified when registration for the next class will open, sign up for our newsletter HERE.