You'd think she'd be just a shadow, but nope, not with Fred...
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They see the scoreboard and post-game snacks. Their parents see sportsmanship.
Because what's summer without a snow cone?!
OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND CHILD AND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER.CALVERT'S PLANT GREENHOUSE
We drove 2,000 miles in a minivan to the midcoast of Maine.
Just me, her, and a map made of paper with only the highways we needed highlighted.
For three full days we drove, only exiting every 4 hours for gasoline and Gatorade. I remember the mini-cooler of meals wedged between us for easy access, white knuckling my way through the blinding rains in Virginia, and power walking the parking lot together before crawling into the hard hotel bed.
It was the summer of 2006, and no other memories with my Mom have surpassed it since.
That trek was truly a trip for two, with no phones or Facebook to interfere with what was growing into the most effortless friendship that's only richer today. When I think back to those days, I wish I had more than words to share the details I do remember. Details that I would have Instagrammed today. Details I wish I had proof of, like selfies in the front seat while I spoon-fed her yogurt, or the East coast exits with nothing but a shoddy shack to fill up - our approach hesitant yet hysterical - to the single pump that was so sluggish we had nothing but time to wait for the dreaded dirty wooden bathroom key.
Why am I telling this 10 year old story? Because the story is all we have.
So no matter the moment - road trips with your mom, Saturday morning cereal with your son, or growing your new hobby of greenery and gardening with your girls - it's all about the kinship. Make note of it - snap it, selfie it, print it - just do more than only remember it.
Those memories with my Mom are rooted in my heart, but oh how I wish they were also in my hands.
OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND FAMILY & CHILDREN PHOTOGRAPHER
Force me to, and I honestly couldn't pick my favorite age. Is it only hours old with tightly shut eyes and the newest of everything?? Or maybe 9 months old, with dimples as knuckles that army crawl everywhere, led by drill sergeant drool?
But I don't know, let's think about talking toddlers real quick.
You may be tired of all the words and voices and constant chatter from your littles BUT GIVE ME ALL THE CEASELESS, SENSELESS TODDLER CONVOS.
I love them.
And then there's the age of the tooth fairy. I LOVE missing front teeth and to let the adult chiclets grow in with zero photographs taken before the gummy gap is gone is a sin! (Ok, too far. Maybe just a regret.)
So when your niece has a birthday AND is toothless, it merits a special freaking flower crown (last minute diy birthday present Laura? Brilliant idea! The cussing doesn't count if no one hears it! Keep making all the things all the time!) and a new outfit to celebrate SEVEN because Auntie loves spoiling her 'babies' who now have real knuckles and don't drool (but they're still my favorite talkers).
Hannah, your soul is so good for mine. This garden of new growth and golden rays parallels your personality perfectly. I can't wait for my next favorite age with you. I think it's going to be 13. A teenager! Lemme go grab some popcorn for this, because if I'm remembering my teen years accurately, this oughta be goooood. Don't worry Julie, Mom is living proof she survived it...TIMES THREE! (Woof.)
He was brand new and barely 8 pounds, but you trusted me to hold him, my hands to comfort him, and my vision to turn his delicate details into artistry.
Weeks earlier, though swollen and spent and almost full-term, you relied on me to reveal your beauty amid this swift season of motherhood.
And then, when you feared chaos and crying (because, TODDLERS), you counted on me to connect your crew among your pack of personalities.
Your favorite parts of the past year: PRESERVED.
By choosing me, you trusted me, and sharing your story frame by frame is a privilege you'll never see me take for granted.
LIFESTYLE SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND CHILD AND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER.THE PLANT SHOPPE.
Starting and sustaining a small business is not for the weak.
Neither is becoming a parent to a premature baby.
Both are so fragile and in need of continuous care. Absence of attention to any vital detail could be detrimental, sinking the chance of success.
Sales, expenses, and profits. Weight, temperature, and heart rate. Every day, multiple assessments are taken to measure for growth, and every day, you pray for any improvement. Even the smallest of signs.
The toughest part of all? The part you’re convinced just might break you? Waiting. You’re forced to be at the mercy of time, and being patient suddenly seems impossible.
And there’s no one more knowing of all of this than Jen of The Plant Shoppe and Chad of Bent On Creativity.
When Memphis’ birthday came 10 weeks early, the uncharted waters were rough and dark. Overwhelming. The NICU became your new normal while the hours at the shop were unusual and sometimes, unknown. The shift in priorities was absolutely necessary, but just when your strength started to waver, you became aware that you’re far from alone in this fight.
Gift by gift, the grace washed in. Promises of prayers poured in while sympathetic customers or strangers who simply loved succulents offered up good vibes and patient understanding. Local small shops bared big hearts by joining forces, raising funds and donating sales in support of one of their own in the most selfless style.
Oklahoma City rallied for your boy, your world, and proved there’s no greater community with compassion more genuine than ours.
So here’s to Jen, Chad, Memphis, and the city founded on fellowship.
This is community.
This is OKC.
And this, a true labor of love.
LIFESTYLE SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER
So much for sitting.
Your chores and to-do's layer on top of each other, multiplying like mice, and just when the folded layers of clothes are finally put away, the dryer buzzes and the oven beeps.
A working mom's work is never finished.
alarm. breakfast. carpool. work. pick up. sports. dinner. homework. bath. bed.
repeat. replay. rerun the world. (Girls? No, MOMS.)
Most of the time, it's about staying afloat, treading through your overscheduled day, doing the best you can and tackling multiple (understatement) tasks at a time. You and Chad have a system, tag teaming the kid's schedule and tactfully planning practices and school events around his shift at the fire station.
It's not easy. Ever.
Life rarely allows your undivided attention to anything, let alone the daily shenanigans you're now immune to. Reese's imagination on a cardboard creation travels across the kitchen, behind the stove where you stand making dinner. Max hollers that his homework is ready to be checked, so while you're busy with dinner, he works on his 360° Nerf dunks in the foyer. (Wearing only his briefs, naturally.)
Oh, the guilt. It has a way of washing over you, grabbing ahold of your delicate mom heart. Everything you do, you do for them. Every direction you're pulled, it's to point them the right way. But being a working mom allows very little down time to devote to their playtime. You've mastered the juggling roles of being their best friend and responsible disciplinary, but it still saddens you that your complete concentration can't always be them.
Damn those priorities. Priorities is just an annoying word for demands over pleasure, and who likes to make that choice?
But Moms, this isn't neglect. You're definitely not failing. And please don't see it as a sacrifice. See it for what it is, what you too often forget. Realize that this is one of the toughest, most trying pieces of parenthood. And you're doing it every day! Sometimes, you need to closet cry. Sometimes, you want to throw a tantrum. And sometimes, you feel unnoticed.
But notice this. Notice the wonder and joy in your daughter's spirit. See how she sees her world in color, taken from the example you set.
Look at your handsome son who sports the same tender heart as you on his sleeve. Take pride in his goofy quirks and sweet ways with his sister.
Notice that these aren't just photos of your family. Look deeper, and you should feel the durability of you and Chad, the trust your children have in you, and the potential of your entire crew.
Even amidst your hourly hectic hustle, it only takes a glimpse at the photos of your animated kids and teammate for life in your loyal husband (and his wicked 'stache) to recognize that you don't want any change. Attempt to imagine the days a bit calmer, and you can't.
This is your course.
You are the will to their way.
And they are the greatest reason your work will never be done.