Thursday, May 30, 2013

Butterfly kisses

I don't talk about it much on the blog anymore but every now and then I feel compelled to share something about this journey of healing after losing my sister to breast cancer last year when she was only 41 years old.

I'd like to say each day it gets easier, but I think it got way worse before any sign of sunshine appeared. Details of my nieces that I can't share have been the most heartbreaking watching them pick of the pieces of losing their mother way too young have been the hardest. Seeing my mother experience the unimaginable of losing a daughter has also been agonizing. At times, I'm not the "fun" and "cool" aunt anymore, I'm more of the rolling-your-eyes-at-me-because-I'm-acting-like-your-mom aunt.

The hardest times are the ones that I just wish she was here to see something or ask her something about what she would want for her girls. I go with my gut but I throw in a good "you should know better" for good measure like I know my sister would.

Most recently, my oldest niece had her senior prom.'s a huge event in the life of a teenager and here she is about to graduate high school and my sister isn't here to see it. Talk about gut-wrenching.

I remember right before Tonya died, when we knew she was terminal, Tonya and I were talking about how expensive Madison's dress was for her junior prom. Tonya said, "Well, I'm not going to see her in her wedding dress, so I told her to get it."
I'll never forget that.
Madison looked beautiful in her dress that cost more than my wedding dress. (Since when did that happen?)

I'm not sure how she made it all night in those shoes. Those are what I call 15 minute shoes.

As I'm taking Madison's pictures, I look over at my youngest niece, Avery, who is holding this big beautiful butterfly in the middle of this urban/industrial area. I asked her where she got it and she said it was just sitting on the ground a few feet from us. I'm not talking about one of those tiny little butterflies, I mean this butterfly was showing off it knowing it was so huge and beautiful.

For those of you who don't know, my sister's middle name means butterfly and shortly after her death we released butterflies in her memory and it was also very symbolic with her battle with cancer.
That butterfly stayed on my niece's hand for at least 5 minutes, and then went to each girls' hand. It stayed nearly the entire time we took photos. I've had small whispers of her presence since her passing, but this wasn't just a whisper, this was as good as Tonya just showing up and saying, "Hey girls, what's up? It's me, Mama and ain't no way I'm missing my baby's senior prom."

 I can't shake this from my mind. I know that without a doubt it was her. And how perfect that even after her death she finds a way to still be a mama, because more than anything that was what was most important to her.

So I know next week when my niece is walking across that stage to get her diploma and in everything in her life thereafter that her mama, without a doubt, isn't missing a thing. She's there and just when we think she's missed some life event, she sends us a sign to say, "I'm here."
I'm so grateful for this visit from her even as brief as it was.
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a beautiful butterfly." (Proverb)

All Aboard

What's better than a snow day? Well, no snow day but having Good Friday off on a BEAUTIFUL day to go spend time with my family. I called up my best friend, Angi, and we went to go ride the train in Trinity Park. It's so cute and my kids love it. I had never taken Landry to ride it so I thought it might be fun. 
 So Angi and I and her younger sister gathered up our daycare crew and took a ride. I get a little nervous watching kids at parks. I'm still a little traumatized from our park experience two years ago when losing Campbell at the park for what seemed like an hour but was only about 60 seconds. 
But we didn't lose anyone and no one fell out of the train so I call that a successful day. It's amazing how the smallest things entertain our kids. I'm so thankful for that. I'm dreading the years when they're teenagers and the only things that entertain them cost a lot of money. 
Popcorn and a $3 train ride, it doesn't get much better than that if you're a kid. Heck, it doesn't get much better than that for me as an adult!  
Landry and Rylan are forced BFFs...whether they like it or not. They seem to like it.
 Best birthday party ever by the way was when we had Campbell's birthday party there well minus the June heat. But what wouldn't I do for this face?
It works on the ladies too. Reese wanted to sit right next to him.

I got to sit next to Tucker and Landry. Tucker was being protective of Landry (or making a move). That boy can ask some questions! 

Even Nolan at 7 still thinks it's cool. 

After the train ride, it was a first for me...a food truck park. It's a new sensation down here to go outside where a bunch of food trucks are. Who would have ever thought that would be a phenomenon to eat food cooked out of a truck but I gotta say, it really was good!
Minus a few meltdowns near lunch time, it really was a great day. Meltdowns are always our cue that our forced family fun outings are almost done.
It was indeed a Good Friday. 
Our husbands wonder why we do these forced family fun adventures to ourselves when we know that at any moment they could turn disastrous. Thankfully, this one wasn't.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spring Fever

I do it all the time....overextend myself. It's been the mantra of my life for the past year. Say yes and never say no. I think I want so badly for this photography gig to work that I pour myself into it, sleep deprived and all. My spring break was no different. I promised my kids that I would take them to do things and committed myself to SEVEN sessions over the break as well.

So one day over spring break while I was editing photos, I had pangs of guilt. Motherhood does that a lot to me. I was sitting at the computer with the blinds open watching this beautiful day unfold from a window and I dropped everything, packed a lunch, loaded Landry in the stroller and we headed to the park by our house.

It was so beautiful outside. Spring and Fall always have a fight every year to see who will win first place in my heart as my favorite season. So far, Spring is not disappointing.

This little girl can make me go all kinds of crazy in the car with her fussing and fit throwing about being in a car seat, but you give her some play time outside and you'll never see a smile leave her face. 

Some days whatever is on the agenda has to be wiped clean and you have to enjoy what you have right in front of you. I hope my kids remember me as a hard worker, but more importantly, I hope that they also remember that I also dropped everything and played with them too.

Because even if it was only to capture this, it was worth it. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Catch up

Oh c'mon Summer break. You're so close, I can taste it.
I had a small taste of summer over spring break and it was glorious. We fit in the Fort Worth Stockyards with my best friend, Angi, and her sisters. We look like we're running a daycare field trip when we get all of our kids together. I do photo shoots a lot down there but it's rare that I take my own family to do some exploring. 
Every day they have a cattle run down the middle of Exchange. We've always wanted to try it but have never had the chance. The longhorn cattle walk down as the kids watch. I think we built it up like it was going to be some kind of amazing City Slicker scene. After it was done in about 2 minutes, the kids asked, "Was that it?"
It's a good thing that there was plenty more to do like mazes, trains, and lunch. It's a major perk that my brother-in-law owns a mechanical bull, ponies, and a train down there. I should be down there every weekend to entertain my kids! 

 Landry was a trooper for the most part, but one thing I've learned is that once that girl is out of the stroller, good luck getting her back in. She's in this independent stage and goes full blown fit-throwing if you try to buckle her back in. Like people are staring at me if I'm trying to put her back in the stroller. She makes friends everywhere she goes. I can't imagine where she got that with having such a introverted family (insert sarcasm).

Landry loves babies. Even though Rylan is totally older than her, my little Amazon girl, takes on her motherly personality and hugs and snuggles her like she's the older one. Poor Rylan looks like she might think Landry is a little too much with her lovin'.
My kids (and this mama) were WORN out after it was done. I don't think Landry even made it out of the parking lot before she was asleep. How is it that 2-3 hour outings wear me out like I've just run a marathon? Guess that's the feeling when your kids are this little, especially when you go on outings without your husband. 
I don't edit every single photo like I used to. Shhhh! Don't tell. I just can't keep up with it anymore. But I picked a handful to edit of my favorites from the day. 
I love the Stockyards. I love how you can feel like you're going back in time and it's only 15 minutes from my house. 
Looking forward to a lot more of these outings with these three this summer. 


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