Laura frames her family's journey
Meet our friend Laura. Faced with a mountain of prints, mementos and family photos, we worked with Laura to craft a gallery wall that could showcase all of her family's favorite moments. From photo strips of her and her then-boyfriend-now-husband Ben, to art from their three boys, to pennants and patches—we loved hearing the story behind each piece. As we often hear from you, each piece represents a special moment in time but together, a collection of pieces can really tell a family's story. We can't get over how sweet and rich and special this collection of pieces turned out.
Laura, where are you from originally? Outside of Chicago
So, what brought you to DC from the midwest? Work. I went to school on the East Coast, and then I worked in the State Department for 7 years before I joined the foreign service. I lived in France for a year and Brussels for a year.
That's amazing! Did you and Ben meet on your travels? We met through mutual friends we went to college with. After living abroad we all ended up back in DC. Ben had just moved back from Denmark, and I had moved here to work for the State Department. We actually met at a dinner party.
"That’s one of the best parts about having children - you get to be a child again."
Fast forward now to being a mom of three boys. Tell us more about the boys!
Jude (the oldest) is about four and a half. As you guys saw, he really likes to ham it up for the camera. He loves to come up with performances and dances and sing songs. He’s a really sweet older brother with his siblings. He and Toby get along pretty well. He likes to be the one to know things, and show Toby how to do things.
Toby (the middle child) is two and a half. Where Jude is sometimes a little bit cautious, Toby has none of that caution. He just does what he wants to do. If he’s sees a ledge he’ll jump off of it. If he sees a pool he’ll jump into it. We joke that he comes by it naturally because he was actually accidentally born at home in the bathroom. I was in labor, but I thought it was going to be a longer labor. By the time I realized we needed to go to the hospital, my husband went to go get the car, and when he came back in I was holding a baby. That’s Toby’s personality. I’m coming in. Here I am.
Oliver (the youngest) is almost six months. He's such a mellow baby. He’s very sweet and always entertained by his brothers. They can make him laugh and keep him from crying more effectively than anyone else. He goes with the flow because he has to.
What do the boys think about seeing photos of themselves up on the wall? With the baby photos they always ask who it is. It’s funny to say, “That was you!” Kids love to see pictures of themselves when they were younger. They think it’s so funny they were that small. They're amazed by it.
"Looking at the wall makes me think about our family history - past, present, and future."
We love that you included a few pieces form you and your husband when you were dating. What's it like to see him as a dad? He’s a great dad. I think we balance each other really, really well. I think where I can be uptight about certain things, he’s much more relaxed about them. It’s funny – I grew up with one sister, so being the mother of three boys I look to him to explain boy things to me. He can translate boy world for me. He likes to roughhouse with them, and play superheroes, and explain the family trees of superheroes.
He’s got a high pressure job, so I think there’s a lot of fun in talking about superheroes and acting like a kid. That’s one of the best parts about having children - you get to be a child again. And, in some ways, recreate your own childhood. You get to introduce them to things that you enjoyed as a kid. You can help them find their “thing” even if it’s not the same as your “thing”.
Looking at the gallery wall as a whole, how does it make you feel? It’s an interesting exercise to pick photos when everyone has 8,000 photos on their phone nowadays. And because the wall is in a playroom I wanted to pick pictures of them playing, and doing playful things. Not necessarily super staged family photos. It was also important to have a couple of things that were more meaningful like the boy scout badges and the brothers pennant to remind them of those relationships. Looking at the wall makes me think about our family history - past, present, and future. Also, the idea of playfulness. That was important to me. To make it a playful creative space.
We loved hanging out with you and the boys. And seeing each of their personalities. What have your kids taught you? I think you see yourself at your best and your worst. It’s a very humbling experience. Every person on the precipice of parenthood thinks they know how they want to parent, but you have no idea who your kids are going to be until they’re born. They’re just going to challenge that idea of yourself as the ideal parent and the idea of them as an ideal child. They teach you how little you know. You learn so much about empathy, compassion, and patience. About what’s important. You think about how your voice is going to be the script of their childhood. What messages are they taking in? It’s a great experience. It forces you to drill down into what’s really important because you have so little time. You really only have 18 years with them which is not much.
Did anything surprise you about the process of creating this gallery wall? It just reminded me of how bad a job I’m doing of not really documenting their childhood! But was great in organizing what I have. It’s so easy with digital photos to have everything living on your computer. For years I’ve been wanting to put things in frames so I can look at them. It tells a story in a different way.
If your family (gallery) walls could talk what story would they tell?