Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Man's Best Friend

  Have you ever had a dog? How about one that was your absolute best friend? Dogs (and cats too of course) are such an asset to our lives, a relational enhancer. They are also just plain fun, snuggly and sometimes a real pain. But when you have one that is family, grows up with your kids and is with you longer than most marriages these days last, when it is time to say goodbye, how is that ever easy?

  We know what good pet ownership should be. Sometimes we live up to that expectation, sometimes we don't. But as much as our pets love us, how can we not be brave enough to do the kindest thing, the most compassionate thing for them? Today my aunt and her family put to sleep their sweet boxer girl, Charlotte. She wasn't a dog, she was people, she was family, and sometimes, she was the Avon Lady and the Taxi Driver among other things. Charlotte was a nursing home regular when my grandpa was there, she was a pet parade participant ( a LOT ), she was nurse maid to many creatures, she was a food beggar (always ~ and she was good at it), she was SMART and knew more tricks than any other dog I know, she was loved to the moon and she was one lucky dog. She lived a great life with a family that loved her. And not many dogs get that chance.  Give your dogs, cats, kids, whatever a hug tonight. Make sure they are warm, fed, dry and loved. Our dogs think we hung the moon. If we could measure up to just a fraction of that, our world would be a better place.

   We love you Charlotte. You were a good dog. And you earned that title.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's time!

 What time? For me, at this point in my life, it is time for a complete restructuring of everything. I have been in a constant state of chaos for the last 2 years. Let me explain. Two years ago, I was facing a year of a lot of change. I roll well with change, but this was the big milestone stuff. So it wasn't really that I was bothered with change, rather, I was having to plan the "what next" part of my life. I had my first baby at the age of 20. I have been a parent and partner, since I started my adult life. Here I was facing my baby going to kindergarten, and my oldest starting middle school. I was having to make plans for being home during the day ~ what was I going to do? Get a part time job? And if so, who would hire me? I have been out of the work force for 10 years or so, and then what about school breaks and sick kids? As I was transitioning into this next phase of my life, I found out I was pregnant. Now I was thrown back to square one. I went from, "Ok, we are done having children, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I am going to fill my days with something a little more for me. A little more free time (much deserved I might add lol). I can focus on getting to know ME." Remember, at that time I was almost 32, and had been every ones everything since I was 20. Who really knows themselves at 20? I was excited to get to know who I was as a person. Then I was right back on the baby train. It really, really threw me for a loop.
   I went from I am done having kids, to expecting again. I was super sick for my first trimester. It was only at my first ultrasound that we knew something was wrong. The second ultrasound at the high risk center revealed that we were looking at not only a very deformed baby, but our 4th baby girl. We also became a rarity of sorts. Our baby, Vivian Jane, had a most severe case of Amniotic Band Syndrome. It was causing her to grow backwards. Without going into too much detail, even the top doctors in our nation had never seen such a case. We tried to get a specialist to do surgery while I was still pregnant. They declined, saying that it was more risk than benefit to her and mostly to me. Torn. The mother in me wanted to move heaven and earth if it was possible to help her. But on the other side was a mother of three amazing girls, who need their mother. At 30 weeks exactly, I delivered her. She was born sleeping. We are forever changed.
   I say all this to get to the point that our experience with Vivian led me to a point to so badly want to pay it forward. Pay what forward? Well during the labor, we were approached by the bereavement nurse to see if we wanted photographs done of Vivian and our family from NILMDTS. I had never heard of it. It is an organization of volunteer pro photographers that come in when this sort of thing happens and gives these families the memories in print. We are from Indiana. We transferred here to Alabama. NONE of our family is here. It is just me, Jim and our girls. If it hadn't been for NILMDTS, our family couldn't have shared in our loss as completely as they did. We are so thankful to these strangers that came into our lives at our darkest hour and gave us a gift beyond measure. I knew immediately that I wanted to volunteer for this organization. But I also knew that I would have to hone my craft. I want to give families a treasure.
   So after these last couple of years, I have dove headlong into photography. It has been healing. It has moved me, and driven me to push forward even on the days when I didn't want to get out of bed. I am so blessed for it. ALL of it.
   Now, it sounds all wonderful. But I had NO idea what I was doing. I know I have a passion for it, but the technical aspect has been such a massive learning curve for me because I am teaching myself ALL of it. It has been a slow, but satisfying road for me. Although volunteering is my ultimate goal, there is more to it than that. I want to build a solid photography business. And when I started, I had no idea what my style was or what type of photography I wanted to do. So I dabbled in everything. I am also thankful for those opportunities. I wouldn't be where I am right at this second if it wasn't for them. I am standing here humbled and grateful. But also wiser, stronger and more determined. I am at a fork in the road with my business.
   In the next year we will be making some major changes. Everything will be restructured. It is a new beginning and I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what is going to happen next. Thanks so much for being along with us on this journey. It really means the world to us to have the support we have. God is in control, and I firmly believe that years ago, He had not told me "No" in regards to photography, but that he just said "Not yet". And that I would have been all about making a profit instead of giving back if it hadn't been for Vivian. Also my other girls have played a huge part in me wanting to be successful. I want to be a good example for them. I also want them to see that I have faith, and try so hard everyday to walk in it. With Him, we will get there. I am very excited. So please hang tight with us! Hopefully by the end of the year we will everything we want at this time underway.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Houston, we have a problem!

   I was incredibly lucky enough ~ no BLESSED enough, to be the WINNER of the Polka Dot Umbrella photography giveaway. The one I mentioned in a previous post. I am STILL super excited about it. I never win anything, and I was the winner of ALL of it!
  One of the items I won was this awesome new blogger template, courtesy of Birdy Photography and Designs. However, I am SOOOOO technologically inept, that my whole page is wonky! I am working diligently to get it straightened out and right side up lol. So please have patience with me, it will be great once it is done. But for the time being, it is a bit of a mess.
  I am loving the wonderful gifts that have been trickling in from the vendors of the giveaway, it's just like Christmas! Stay tuned, there will be new photos soon :)

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