Gray in May

Some of you who follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook may remember how I wore “Gray through May” for my dear friend, Melissa Broz, as she battled her way through brain cancer. Some of you may also remember our community’s heart wrenching loss last August when she lost that battle here on earth. Melissa was so much more than I could ever write about in a blog post – her smile, her energy, her love and compassion. These were all things you felt immediately when you were around her. I went to see Melissa before she died, and as I walked in and saw the sparkle in her little girl’s eyes – I vowed to her that I would NEVER forget the life and love she brought to this world, and even more so that I would do everything in my power to make sure her kids remembered this about her as they grew up.  I swore that she would not just have been a small part of my life that I grew on to live with out – but that her small time in my life would make big, ever-lasting changes in me. And she has. Her love for people and life, her steadfast Faith, her commitment to her family, have all changed me.

The Broz Family

Melissa and her family. This is one of the many beautiful and treasured pictures taken by Cara Yates.

So this year for Gray in May – I will be sporting my gray – but also wanted to do something more – something to honor Melissa.  I contacted her best friend, Cara Yates, who is a phenomenal photographer, and who is the reason Josh and the kids have gorgeous pictures and memories to hold onto. I asked her for ideas of what we could do this month  – and she suggested we each pick a family who has a family member battling cancer – and donate a photo shoot to them. I loved her idea – and so that is what we are doing! I will be posting more about these shoots – so make sure to check back to see these shoots we are doing in honor and memory of Melissa.

grayinmay2013

A few pictures from our 2013 Gray in May

If you want to join us in remembering our sweet friend and too many others that are battling brain cancer – wear your Gray in May and share your photos with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. #grayinmay #melissasmission

 

Everyday with Lulu

I have a confession to make. I’m a professional photographer and have been for almost seven years. I have some pretty nice equipment, and I believe God gave me a unique way to view his world. But when it comes to my every day life – I’ve been trapped by the ease of my iPhone camera. It’s everywhere I go, it’s easy to use, and even easier to share and upload our every waking moment. (You’re welcome…) But every now and then I try to remind myself to get out my “big camera”, with the good lenses and to use that to capture this awesome time in my life. Lately – Lulu’s been the subject, because while the other kiddos are gone at school – we are faithfully hanging out together, playing barbies, eating, doing crafts and painting.

Miss Luella has a little attitude of her own sometimes…

I was chopping up onions for dinner and she insisted that she wanted to eat one, and that she would like it… obviously – she was wrong. 🙂

It’s really the little every day moments that I want to capture in our family. Those things that go by without us even noticing.

We’ve all been there… right?

This morning as I was packing up our bag to head down to the Children’s Museum, I contemplated whether or not I should run back up stairs and grab and extra pair of clothes for Luella, ya’ know, “just in case”. “Nah”, I thought – “she never needs them”…

**One side note I should point out here – the Children’s Museum intimidates me. Not the place itself, or the activities there, but the other moms. Because I only go during the week, I am there with all the  full time stay at home moms, the really good ones. You know the kind – they sew their kid’s clothes from organic fabric, have juice in glass sippy cups that they juiced themselves that morning from the fruit out of their backyards, and homemade hummus and pita bread for snacks made only from the finest and most natural of ingredients. They scare me – so I put on my best show there of “healthy-ish snacks” and hide out in dark secret corners when I have to change a disposable diaper or bottle feed my baby”**

So there I was – being a super mom.  We painted, did crafts, painted her face, milked a pretend cow, I even dressed up in butterfly wings and danced around on the stage to keep the giggles coming from my bubbly, imaginative two year old. I was rockin’ the whole mom thing.

And then Lulu said “I have to go potty” – and as she was “going” on the miniature potty chair, I heard those dreaded words: “Uh-Oh”.  It turns out she wasn’t sitting all the way on the potty – and was actually going potty everywhere – right down into her adorable purple plaid rain boots.  Remember those extra clothes I didn’t need to pack? So I calmly thought (because of my experience in being a mom who is unprepared for such situations – I have mastered remaining calm in them) – what are our options here…

I removed my “long and lean tank top” that I had on underneath my shirt, and put it on Lulu, put her top back on – and “voila” – instant maxi dress… The problem was – she still had no shoes, and no panties on and it was 20 degrees outside. So we gathered up her art work and crafts, and scrambled the heck out of the place trying to ignore the judging looks as I raced to the car with a half naked two year old in the middle of winter.

Lulu kept saying, and I quote, “It’s too strange”. I know baby… I know.

Here’s the thing – I share these stories because it’s HARD being a mom sometimes. Sometimes it’s hard because we make it hard, and sometimes it’s things we can’t control. But regardless – I think it always helps to be able to laugh at the situation and helps even more when we realize we aren’t the only ones.  I will never ever ever be that perfect mom – but I sure do love my kids more than I could ever explain – and I hope as they grow up they will feel like that was all they really needed.

The reason I walk…

As I sit down about to write this post, I’m nervous. I’m not sure why – but I have some anxiety. I’m not necessarily comfortable sharing such personal feelings, let alone put them in writing. But yet there is a part of me that thinks that I at least owe it to my brother, and to all the others out there that have taken there lives – to at least do my part to try and prevent it from happening again on this day of Suicide Awareness. And this is the way I know how. I want to share my story with you. I want you to understand why Sunday at 2:00 I will be walking at the Out of the Darkness Walk in downtown Omaha.

It was nearly 13 years ago, December 31st, 1999. Most of the world was preparing for one of the biggest New Years Eves of all time – it was about to turn to 2000. Y2K was all the rage and we didn’t know if our bank accounts would freeze, the power and computers would shut down – or what was going to happen. I was 17 years old and living with my parents. I had a premature, twelve day old newborn baby boy asleep in the back bedroom. My mom was working her job at a local bank in town, and my dad had taken the day off work and was asleep in his bed. For anyone who knew my dad – this was completely out of character. He never missed a day of work, but he had woken up sick to his stomach that morning – worried about his oldest son, my older brother. My brother had been missing for a few days – some of his friends had told us that he left town – but no one really knew where to. This was a time before cell phones were common and we were helpless to get in touch with him. I remember it was mid afternoon and a police officer came to the door, I quickly answered it and when he said he needed to speak with my parents I told him they weren’t home. I was afraid my brother had gotten into some sort of trouble – and I wanted to intercept the message. The officer asked where they were and said he really needed to speak to them. I reluctantly told him my dad was sleeping – and he asked me to go wake him up. I can’t put into words how awful the next few minutes would become, and how what he would say would change us all forever. I waited in the kitchen while my dad spoke with him, and then my dad came in and told me – my only brother, my best friend, had killed himself. I remember collapsing on the ground sobbing.

The next few days were such a blur. I had a new baby that had to be fed every 2 hours around the clock, we had a casket to choose, burial plots to pick out, and funeral arrangements to make. I remember not wanting to get out of bed but knowing I had a little one depending on me so I didn’t have a choice. The funeral was packed, and our friends and family were steadfast in jumping in and helping any way they knew how. I remember the morning of the funeral my dad asked if I wanted to take some kleenex in with me to the service and I told him no, I didn’t think I could cry any more. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Saying good-bye to someone I love so much was the worst moment of my life.

I have a good friend who has a son that was diagnosed with cancer when he was 5 years old. She often says that after you get through the treatments and the illness you have a choice to make. You either become the victim or the advocate. It’s such a true statement. It didn’t happen overnight for us, it didn’t even happen in the same time frame – but eventually, my family chose to become advocates in our own way.  This is why we walk. We walk to support each other, we walk to honor my brother’s memory and the 19 years of joy and laughter he brought to our family. We walk to bring awareness to suicide. It’s unfortunate but in the past few years I have watched suicide affect our friends and take the lives of the ones they love time and time again. And everyone’s situation is so different. From teenage girls, to daddy’s, to grandfathers. It’s an awful thing – but to put an end to it – we need to shed light on it. So Sunday we will walk – to honor, remember, advocate, and support.

If you would like to support the Out of the Darkness walk – join us at the walk at Miller’s Landing on Sunday. Registration starts at noon, the walk starts at 2:00. If you can’t make the walk but would like to donate please follow the link below. Thank you for taking the time to read and share my story.

http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=324133

Back to School, Back to School…

My oldest two kids have been in school for a couple weeks not, and my little man had High Five Open House the other night at his preschool. Do you know what this means for you guys?! There is a chance that after we survive next week of getting my younger two kids back to school and get myself through a 1st grade field trip – there is a glimmer of hope I might have a halfway normal response time to your emails!

Seriously guys – THANK YOU to all of my AMAZING clients that have been so patient with me through this summer. I have loved all the time I have gotten to spend with my kids and family this summer – but at some point – I’ve got to get back to work! It’s been a crazy ride trying to balance everything and I really truly do appreciate how understanding and patient you all have been!

Just a few pics Jax and I stopped and took after open house. I can’t believe how big my little man has gotten – I’m glad he is just as silly as ever though. 🙂 And yes – I was about to make him change the outfit he picked out – and then realized – he is only going to be five once. Rock on Jax.

Bath Time + Mini Shoots = A Lifetime of Cherished Memories

Taking advantage of our mini shoots is a great way to capture those incredibly special moments with your little ones. I LOVE bath time with my 7 month old. I love watching her splash in the bath and giggle, I love her big eyes looking up at me, I love her face when the water splashes her eyes and runs down her face. I love the snuggly “naked baby” time afterwards when she’s wrapped up in her towel and I love how sweet she smells with her baby lotion on and snuggly jammies. It is one of my favorite things as a mommy.

What are your favorite moments? What do you cherish and wish you could hang onto forever?? Set up a mini shoot with me to capture that special time. We all know how quickly time passes and those moments are gone in the blink of an eye.

Just as a reminder – mini shoots are $150 for up to 20 minutes and you get the rights to all the edited digital images we put in your online album that print up to a 5×7.

I should warn… sometimes these precious pictures come at the cost of eventual tears. 🙂

Still cute – but daddy wasn’t too happy.