Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A "Last"

It may seem rather silly to many of you, but others of you will 100% know what I mean when I say that packing up baby things after they have been used for the last time can be pretty tough on mommy.

I am almost always too busy to really pay attention to the "last" time we use certain things because, well, one day, he is in the swing...and the next day it is in my way and I have shoved it upstairs in a closet. But now, I don't even remember the "last" time he swung in it - the last time any of my babies will swing in it.

But today marks a special last for me. Maybe goofy for you. But special to me.

Today N wore one of my very favorite outfits for the very last time. Nearly three years ago, I bought this outfit for D. And it quickly became my favorite.

The colors, the fit, the comfort - I loved it all.

When I found out I was having another boy and I went through all of D's old clothes, I pulled out this outfit with love in my heart. I knew that eventually N would wear it.

And wear it he has!

But today, as I got him dressed, I noticed the onsie was really pretty snug. And the waistband of the pants is pretty snug too.

Today is the last time that my last boy will wear this favorite outfit.

So when N woke up early from his nap and we began paying on the floor of his room, I quickly decided to run downstairs and grab my camera.

To capture this last.

Again, this may be silly to you.

But to me, its was important.

So here they are...

The pictures of a "last."


Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Magic

I just thought I'd share a couple images capturing what goes on in my house on any given day.

I am really trying to be more "behind the scenes" in my photography lately. Trying not to pose so much, trying harder to just capture what happens naturally.

I find it all more real that way.

More honest.

Happy week before Christmas, my friends. Enjoy the magic. Remember the Reason.

My baby just being his happy drooly self. In his pjs. At lunch time.

And here is my hubby helping D transition from nap time back to the world of playtime and fun...
It just doesn't get any sweeter.
And my girl. Just being her normal beautiful self.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Broken Hearts and Fear

I don't know if its just that our emotions are heightened at this time of year or if it really is true that more hearts are breaking right now.

It seems like each time I turn around, I learn about a new shaking world for someone.

I have a friend my age battling caner right now. All she wants for Christmas is to see her young children grow up. I have people in my life who are suffering from broken relationships. Long standing relationships, now over...in an instant. There are beautiful, amazing, mature women longing to be married and building families of their own. But as the years go by, God keeps saying, "no, not yet." And then there are those wonderful couples that want nothing more than a baby of their own. And no matter what they do, no matter how hard they try, it just isn't happening.

Broken hearts.

Broken hearts to the left.

Broken hearts to the right.

I have been thinking about this blog entry for a few days. I don't really know what to say or how to approach the subject - the subject of the reality of life.

That life is unfair. That sin is in this world and it isn't the perfect world that God originally designed. And its hard. Very hard for so many of us.

All I can really say is that if I know about your situation, I am praying for you. I know there are hundreds of situations I don't know of, but for those of you that have made your struggles public or for those of you that have confided in me, I am praying for you.

Praying for peace in your heart.

Praying for you to feel the Lord holding you.

And often, praying for a miracle.

My heart breaks for you. My tears fall with yours. And I am up many nights tossing and turning in bed praying and crying out to the Lord with you.

As I think about this whole issue, I am reminded of a Beth Moore bible study video I watched once about fear. She talked about facing some of our biggest fears. She says that one of hers in the past has been that her husband would leave her for another woman. That she wouldn't be desirable to him. That her children would like the new woman and that she would be left alone.

She explained how to process through the fear.

For me, my biggest fear in all the world is losing one of my children. I am sure many of you share that fear.

She told us to press on...

Then what? After your biggest fear happens.

So, if I lose a child, then what?
Well, I'd be devastated.
I'd cry for months.
I don't know how I'd carry on.
I'd be mad, angry, sad, and hopeless all at the same time.
I might think I can't continue living...

Then what?
Well, then I guess I'd eventually get up. My tears may eventually start to lessen.
I'd have to continue on for my other children. Get them fed, dressed, and to school. Maybe I'd get counseling to help process my aching breaking heart.

Then what?
Then I guess eventually life would keep going. It just wouldn't stop, I guess.

Then what?
Then life becomes a new normal.

Then what?
Then God.
He is still there.
He never left.
No matter what happened. No matter how horrible I feel. No matter how angry and sad I become.

If everything in this world was taken from me...

Then God.
My God is faithful.

I heard this message as my husband was deployed. I cried as I listened to her speak. I thought of what it would be like if my husband didn't make it home. Or if something horrible happened to a member of my immediate family. I processed through a lot of my fears.

An although it didn't make my anticipated immediate reaction to those fears lessen any, it reminded me that the outcome is always the same.

Then God.

For those of you who have a shaking world right now, He is there as well. That shaking world is probably shaking because of a fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of dying. Fear of someone you love dying. Fear of never having a family.

It seems like most of what we go through in life that challenges us derives from a fear.

Beth Moore states all of this much better than I even could. If you need an answer. Or hope. Or even if you don't need either, I'd highly suggest you listen to her speak on the topic of fear.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Warning - nursing pictures to follow!

When I was still pregnant with my baby girl 6 years ago, I was talking one day to a friend who had 4 children. I told her that I was a little sad because once I had the baby, there wouldn't be this secret bond between she (baby) and I anymore. See, each time she moved and kicked, only she and I knew it.

Other people would know if I told them, but really, it was mostly just our secret. I was already sad that once she entered this world, that would be gone. No more secret bond.

My friend so lovingly told me that it doesn't end. She said, if you nurse your baby, that secret continues. That bond lives on.

She was right. Right for C. Right for D. And now right for N.

Being that N is most likely my last baby, I really want to remember that secret that we share. After seeing some nursing photography online earlier this week, I thought that a couple pictures may be the perfect way to document and remember this short period in our relationship as mother and baby.

I would have been far too modest to ever do anything like this when I had C. In fact back then, I nursed in dressing rooms, bathrooms, and my car when we were out. Its no wonder I stopped so early on.

But by now, with the third, I see the beauty in breast feeding. I nurse anywhere I want. With no shame.

My dearest over at Sarah Spencer Photography was very willing to help me in this endeavor. What she captured touched me deeply. These pictures are more perfect than I ever imagined they would be. They capture the secret.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sarah. I can't wait to do the same for you.

And just because I love him...

Baby Fun

My 7 month old is a huge bright spot of my day. His smiles. His kisses. His tiny squishy thighs. He is 15lbs of pure joy.

I have decided that I want to start capturing more pictures of him doing his every day type activites....in his every day fashion.

So here is what I got this week.

Some book reading and playtime with his big sister. She was so excited about the "baby" library book she got from school. She immediately came home and tried to read it to him. He only lasted for so long before he decided to just play with her instead.

And then here he is playing on the ground like he always does. With his little diaper rash ridden bottom airing out under his PJs.

Yes, he does pee on the carpet.

No, I don't care.

Its baby pee for goodness sake!

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Mom Photogs"

The more and more I am learning about the world of photography - the actual business of photography I should say - the more I realize I don't like a lot of "pro photographers."

There is this huge issue in the photography realm about moms like myself buying a DSLR, learning how to shoot, and starting a business.

Pros HATE it.

I don't know if some of them are bitter because they are still paying off their photography degree student loans, or if they are just threatened by the shear amount of competition out there. But they hate it. Its on photography forums. Its on photographer's blogs. Its everywhere. They aren't ashamed or hesitant to knock the moms like myself who are just getting started.

I want to ask them...

Didn't you start somewhere yourself? You know, before you became a pro?

Or were you just born a FABULOUS photographer completely proficient in photoshop?
Have you stopped learning new things now that you're a pro? Because you know it all already.

After all, you are a pro, right?

Here is my side of the coin, professional photographers. I have heard plenty of your side.

I live in a world where money is tight. Very tight. We are a one income family and my husband is enlisted in the military. We scrape by paying our bills, our car payment, putting food on the table, and preschool tuition for one of my three children.

I love to take pictures. Its been a hobby of mine for a long time. I bought my DSLR when my first child was born because my silly point and shoot wasn't fast enough to catch her quick movements.

I have a very strong appreciation for photography and always have. For good photography I should say.

I love it. I want it so badly. I have researched many times online for the perfect photographer to capture my children. To make time stand still. To create that beautiful image of my babies.

But the bottom line is, no matter how many times I have researched it, no matter how many times I have planned it, no matter how many times I have pleaded with my husband, the fact remains, we just can't afford it.

We can't afford my taste in photography.

So, I've gone to JC Penny. I have gone to Portrait innovations. I have taken pictures myself. And fortunately, a few wonderful pro photographer friends have taken some pictures for me throughout the years. I even invested in a better lens once to try and improve my own skills!

I finally decided this year to learn to use my camera in manual mode. I figured, if I can't afford the kind of photography that I desire, then I am going to learn to create it myself - or as close to it as I can.

I enlisted the advice of a great photographer friend, and then from another, then another. They taught me the basics. I practiced, and practiced, and practiced. I have taken thousands of pictures in the last 4 months. Practicing. Learning. Growing.

After a little while, friends noticed what I was doing and asked me to do pictures for them. I agreed to do some for a small amount of money and some for a barter of services. Word of mouth got out and I found myself doing more and more of these inexpensive sessions. I realized that I could start a real business!

Starting in January, I will kick off my business for real. Real rates. Real website, Real business.

If I am somehow a threat to you and your "pro" business, I apologize. I thought I was just taking pictures for my friends (and their friends) and making a small amount from it. I am not trying to earn a living.

I am a full-time mom.

And now I am an on-the-side photographer.

Exactly HOW am I hurting the industry? By providing a service to families who otherwise couldn't have afforded family pictures in the first place? If anything I am probably stealing business from Sears, JC Penny, and The Picture People!

Lets compare this to vehicles. I heard one photographer compare this issue to luxury vehicles...She is a pro. Her service is a luxury. She charges accordingly. Her photography is beautiful. Very beautiful.

I think there are plenty of people who drive luxury vehicles. Their BMWs are beautiful. Their Mercedes lack nothing. They are also expensive. They are WAY out of my budget.

So, I drive a Dodge Minivan.

Is Dodge ruining the auto industry by putting out more affordable not-quite-as-fancy vehicles?


They simply appeal to a different group of people. People like me. People on a tight budget.

I see a similar trend with photography. There are some amazing photographers out there producing images gorgeous enough to make me cry. But I could never ever afford them.

Then there is me. Maybe I am like a Dodge. Very dependable. Appealing to many. Not quite as "fancy" as the BMW.

I am more affordable. And I promise to stay that way. I produce images that appeal to a particular group of people. Maybe not the BMW crowd, but definitely to a pretty big crowd.

So, to all you pros that I annoy by just doing what I am doing, I'm sorry. Learn to produce a better image than me. Go market yourself better. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself more business.

But leave me out of it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Little Kids

So today I realized that I don't want my kids to grow up anytime soon. I would like to freeze them just as they are...tantrums, tears, drama, and all.

I know I think that quite a bit, but today it hit home harder than usual.

I took my little ones to a playground in our neighborhood because they were driving me nuts in the house. They ran off to swing, climb, and well, just run while a pretty large group of older kids hung out and played as well. These big kids - a whopping 9-12 years old - were hanging out on the swings and around the equipment. Talking to and mocking each other. Some boy said something rather mean to a girl and she shouted back numerous times, "I WILL beat you you if I have to!"

The mommy in me wanted to break up this spat (which didn't get physical) and send the kids playing and sharing happily and peacefully.

But no, these weren't my kids. They weren't even being supervised by any adult. These kids were on their own.

It made me turn back to my kids. I pushed D on the swing. C climbed a really tall piece of equipment and made me nervous.

I realized that I never want her (or D) to be one of those kids exchanging words unsupervised on the playground. I want to shelter her under the safety of my wings for as long as possible.

Maybe thats not the best method. Maybe thats not teaching her how to "live in the real world" but truthfully, I don't care. The world didn't birth her. The world hasn't poured every last ounce of effort, love, and devotion into her.

I have.

And I think I should have a say in her life.

And I think I should be able to shelter her if I want to.

After a little while, I got tired of listening to the tween drama next to me and I instructed my kids to come play on the little kid playground off to the side. They ran off together and played on the seesaw. Then they raced down a set of matching slides over and over again.

We eventually left and headed back towards our house. They raced to a wooden swing and back to me as we wandered homeward.
Obviously, C won by a landslide, but she casually said as D came trailing behind her,
"Whoever comes in last is the winner."

My heart leapt.

How is it that she is so kind and thoughtful towards her little brother?

He simply shrugged and replied,
"I know. I won..."

He played it cool but I know he was beaming. These days, all he wants to do is race. We race other cars on the road when we drive - well, not REALLY race...he just thinks we are. They race to see who can get undressed for the bath the fastest, they race up the stairs, etc.

C wins every time. To him, winning is big. And he had jut "won" thanks to his gracious sister.

I praised her and validated her kindness.

We stopped at yet another set of swings close to our home and I let them swing off some more energy without the distraction of other older children.

I pushed D and C pumped.

D said, "I'm going HIGH!"

C followed up with,"I'm going high too. I can almost touch the trees!!!"

She then closed her eyes as she swung as if to will herself higher into the sky.
"but I'm being careful...." she added. She knows me, a safety nut, so well.

I tried to soak her in. Soak them both in as they swung. And giggled. And squealed as I ticked their feet.
It made me realize how thankful I am to have these little kids who are not ashamed to play like little kids. They aren't trying to be cool. They aren't trying to impress.

C isn't embarrassed to be seen with, play with, bathe with, and snuggle with her little brother.
In fact, they are the best of friends. They love each other to no end.
And that is why I love having little kids. And I wish I could freeze them at this age forever!
I should note that I didn't actually have my camera with me for most of this outing. It wasn't until I stood pushing D on the swings when I was trying to soak every bit of them in that I actually called B and had him walk my camera out to me. After he delivered it, I begin photographing the kids.

My mind just wasn't doing justice. I was too afraid I'd forget.

Forget their smiles. Forget the hole in C's leggings and her big clunky tennis shoes, forget D's yellow crocks and rolled up blue jeans. I was just too afraid I would forget it all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lessons Learned

Sometime, lessons are learned the hard way. Yesterday D and a friend learned why we do not throw rocks...


I hope this will translate well when I tell him not to throw rocks again, or sticks, or run in the street, or run with a sucker in his mouth, etc...

I am just glad it hit his ear and not his eye or anywhere else on his face.

Sorry if this picture grossed you out! ;-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


My middlest started preschool this week.

I can't really believe we are at this stage for him because it seems like yesterday that I was at Ft. Bragg dropping C off at preschool and spending three mornings a week with just my little baby boy. We bonded. We went everywhere together. He never went in childcare. He always went with me.

And now here we are. I am now taking him to preschool and spending the mornings with my youngest, my next little baby...who goes everywhere with me.

Its like my family and life with D, my middle man, has come full circle in just two short years.

My same baby boy that runs around in a shirt and underwear most days, still pleads with me before every nap to "leep with me, mommy," kisses his sister goodbye moments before she steps on the school bus, and snuggles into my lap sucking his thumb to read a story is now going to school.

Some days he looks so big.

And then just moments later, he seems so little.

He did great on his first day. I knew he would. I said good bye to him twice as he stood on the little rug with his classmates. He was more interested in the children throwing fits and having a hard time saying goodbye than he was in me.

There may have been a part of me that wanted him to throw a tiny fit about me leaving. Or maybe just cling to me a little longer. But he didn't.

He just stood there quietly waiting for instruction from his teacher. Like I said, I kissed him and hugged him twice...and then I slowly walked out the door...peering over my shoulder and watching him as I did.

When I came to pick him up, his teacher said he did great. She said, "he belongs here." I couldn't be more proud of my little big guy. My crazy D.

All I can say is watch out world. D is ready to take you on. He is starting with matching cards, using the boys' bathroom, and learning his 5 senses, but he's coming.

And he's a heartbreaker...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Decorating. In November.

I am one of those "crazies" that decorates for Christmas well before Thanksgiving.

On facebook, I have discovered that for some people, this is an unheard of practice :-(

I say, pish posh to them. I love Christmas and I don't think its ever too early to decorate!

Here is why I decorate so early....

1. I start decorating for Fall in August because by August, I am done with the hot summer and and ready to move on to some Fall colors and scents. So...by November, I have seen my Fall decor for 3 months. I am ready for a change.

2. My kids do a lot of waiting through out the year - They wait months to see their grandparents. They wait weeks at a time to see their Daddy. They wait a year for Christmas. So to me, if I can make Christmas come two weeks earlier than the rest of the world, I will. They get it that much quicker. And it lasts that much longer! Its a win/win.

3. I don't skip over Thanksgiving like some people believe, but for us, Thanksgiving just isn't a big hoopla. We are going to gather with some of our church friends and have a big feast at one of their homes. I am really looking forward to it! This is happening the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving itself, B will be packing to leave for another long trip and I am thinking we may just go out to eat as a little family for a good home cooked meal - maybe Cracker Barrel. B won't be home again until well into December, so at least he will have a little taste of some of our Christmas decorations before he leaves for a portion of the Christmas season.

4. Putting up Christmas decorations take a lot of time. Its a big deal. So, I would rather look at them for as long as possible. Plus, we go home to Atlanta for the last 10 days of December, so we don't get to enjoy our tree then....see why it makes sense to put it up 10 days sooner than everyone else?

5. Most of all, I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I love Christmas so very much. Its in my blood. My mom already has two trees up. My youngest sister already has her tree up. And my cousin fully expects to be fully decorated (inside and out) by this weekend. Its just what we do.

Call me crazy.

It probably wouldn't be the first time. ;-)

So, if you are not completely against the fact that today is November 15th, and I am done decorating my house for Christmas, please feel free to enjoy some pictures from our evening.

As always, I feel the need to capture every moments for our family in Atlanta and for my husband who is out of town once again. He has missed 5 straight years of tree decorating - I am beginning to think he is doing this on purpose!