Every age, milestone and memory has been my favorite, but seeing her…
Viewing entries tagged
He is so loved and I think you’ll see just how much in these images.
They see the scoreboard and post-game snacks. Their parents see sportsmanship.
One day, I'll look back on this blog of warm, summery images finally shared in DECEMBER and think:
When your kids are grown, they won't want the shoebox full of posed portraits wearing outfits they hated. Instead, they'll be fighting over the images that show them doing what they love, with who they love, wherever and whatever that is.
Before we turn the page to 2017, I wanted to relive our year with all my favorites.
The big things in life - the things you'll truly miss the most - are actually the little things.
Just an average weekend with my family. Except in 5 years, or 10, and even long after that, these documentary images of who we are as a whole will be so much more than average...
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.)
HOSPITAL SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER.INTEGRIS
His arrival may have been a whirlwind, but the hours after overflowed with grace & gratitude that danced around the room along with his welcoming crew.
He will be a newborn through the seasons, but only this new for what seems like seconds.
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.
NEWBORN SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER
Isn’t life fun(ny)?
After months of anticipation and hours of labor, it takes just one second of seeing your infant to feel a love so deep and heavy it aches.
During what you’d probably agree to be the happiest season of your life, you find yourself on the edge of every emotion and only a simple mishap away from a full-blown breakdown.
It was in those first days when he was mostly asleep that you felt the deepest deprivation of sleep physically possible.
And then, before you can say ‘maternity leave', you’re standing in your closet holding your 12-week old and trying, through blurring tears, to see your wardrobe options for your impending return to work.
How is it fair that the most delicate and sentimental stage is over before you realize it, yet you were barely awake to remember it?
One too many details from those days are buried under a fuzzy fog of forgetfulness. The difference, though, is every soft touch, tiny sound, and sweet smell are easily recovered when you reminisce through these pictures.
Your child is young for awhile, a toddler for a fast few years, and somehow, only a newborn for days. DAYS.
But best off all? He's yours.
Just like these photos.
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.
IN-HOME LIFESTYLE SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND FAMILY & CHILDREN PHOTOGRAPHER
“We had our second date here," she said. “It was in the bathroom I stared in disbelief at those two little pink lines and then paced these floors while counting contractions.”
“Kate took her first steps here.”
So many pieces of our lives happen at home, adding up to an entire collection of memories we’ll remember well past our childhood. It’s ultimately the environment where you’ll raise your children and help embed their favorite pastimes of hide-n-seek, blanket forts, and messes that stretch across the entire kitchen.
These memories from home are what live on long even after you’ve moved.
How many years ago was it when you arrived home, sunburnt and happy, to congratulatory cards and wedding gifts piled high on the kitchen table? Sadly and far too quickly, the honeymoon was over, but it felt SO good to finally be home. Together.
Home is where your marriage would begin, blossom, and eventually grow into your family.
What do you remember most about your firstborn? Is it the song you whispered as you paced the living room floors in the dark hours of night, bouncing her back to sleep in your arms? Or maybe it’s the rocker in the corner of the bedroom where you stared for hours, mesmerized, and memorized every feature of your baby.
Unbeknownst to visitors, the middle couch cushion has been flipped over to hide spilled juice. The walls, which acted as crutches to your teetering one year old, have been repainted in areas to cover those tot-sized fingerprints. Outside, your driveway is a museum of chalk art that will take many rains to fade the rainbow-colored dust.
Your home is your haven for laughter and for tears. It’s your refuge for anger, grief, arguments and make-ups.
Your home is alive with life and growth.
Realize it. Remember it. Get proof of it.
Because guess what your kids will relate home with?
Get your very own Life Within session here.
MIDTOWN OKC SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND FAMILY & CHILDREN PHOTOGRAPHER
“Wow. You really have your hands full.” How many times have you heard this not-so-clever comment from the stranger at your favorite restaurant or even in the cereal aisle of Target? (I hear grocery shopping alone happens too rare these days.) All you wanted was a dish-free evening out with your family or some dang lucky charms (because, MARSHMALLOWS), but not without being noticed first. You’re left awkwardly haha-ing with a stranger, tongue-tied and slightly baffled.
I mean, let’s get real for a minute. Do they expect you to say “I know, right? Who signed me up for this?!” I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt - their intentions are likely harmless - and it's probably just a little slip of innocent honesty.
Oh, how I bet Tyler and Nichole have become so immune to this, though.
The strangers who just can’t help but blurt that opinionated comment apparently don’t have children. Whether you have 1 child or 19, you chose that wonderful path of raising children, just as they probably chose not to.
To each his own, amiright?
Before I give up understanding this for parents everywhere, can anyone tell me what it even means? Does it appear to them that you don’t have it under control? Maybe they missed the moment when you were juggling that hot plate with a sippy cup of chocolate milk and searching for the missing yellow crayon under the table, all while paying attention to your daughter’s day at school. Or maybe the few minutes of disarray and dropped cereal boxes looked chaotic, but what they didn’t see was you in control of that so-called chaos.
Does this sound familiar, Tyler and Nichole? With every “it’s a girl!”, you’ve become well-adjusted to parenthood, so by now you’re experts at family outings and are only reminded of your large brood with kind compliments and curious stares.
Don’t get me wrong. Life with 5 girls probably isn’t always child’s play, but from the outside looking in? I'm all, "sign me up!" because this looks like a whole bunch of fun!
If you ever see these 7 Smith’s out, you’d probably gawk just a bit. Who wouldn’t, when Tyler is outnumbered by 6 beautiful females? How can you not peer into their family dynamic and imagine the fun they have when the array of their daughters begins with a well-mannered teenager all the way to a spunky toddler? On a few occasions, I witnessed the shy middle girls huddled together, giggling in their own little world. I was immediately sent reminiscing to the 90’s, huddled with my own sisters, recording cassette tapes of radio music and braiding friendship bracelets. I already know the bond these sisters create over the years will be undoubtedly tested but unshakably true.
It is so apparent to me that Tyler, Nichole, Taya, Livia, Ella, Liana and Vayda have the coolest kinship. It was obvious in Tyler and Taya’s playful banter, in Nichole’s bond with her baby, in Liana’s full personality and in Livia and Ella’s quick response to hold a hand, console and comfort their little sisters. And then when Mr. and Mrs. Smith had some time alone? Well, just see that for yourself…
Like parents everywhere, they probably have ‘those days’, but full hands?
Of course they’re full. Full of five healthy and bright daughters and all of the wonder and pride that parenthood presents.
TOP PHOTOS OF 2014. OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND MATERNITY/NEWBORN/CHILDREN/FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER
How?! How on Earth is it New Years Eve of 2014?
Somehow it is, just like somehow our busy days dragged on while our weekends flew by.
The real me wants to get really mushy with you and remind you how much this tiny speck of a business (in the grand scheme of things) means to me and how I can never, EVER thank you enough for hiring me, inquiring about a session, reading my blog, liking a post, hearting an INSTAGRAM photo or heck, even knowing Sunkissed & Free even exists, but even then I don't feel like that's sufficient enough. Every day, this creative outlet for me continues because of YOU. I promise you this: you'll never know how appreciative I am to be asked to tell your story.
And now, the best of 2014!
And ending 2014 with two of my favorite of all favorites:
The kids who have my heart and call me Auntie, bellied up to the same ice cream counter where I grew up ordering single scoop sugar cones.
And lastly, the photo I hope to take every few years. Why? To see him grow. To see me grow.
MATERNITY LIFESTYLE SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHER
I would lay awake at night, giddy with magical excitement only children experience, straining my ears for hints of jingle bells and wondering when Santa and his reindeer would arrive on the roof. For the most part I thought I was well-behaved, with the exception of one year. I bawled behind the Christmas tree, crying so hard my parents were unable to understand my apology, but they reassured me I indeed was not getting a stocking full of coal. (Shoo! Close call.) Every Christmas Eve, I would fight my heavy eyelids. I would hazily drift off to dreamland with thoughts of remote control cars and soccer cleats, only to bolt awake in panic of missing Santa. I knew giving in to sleep would make morning come sooner, but the anticipation of every child’s favorite day of the year kept my mind racing.
With only weeks remaining in her pregnancy, sleep is probably evading Reagan, too. Not because of a cheery, bearded man bearing gifts or a hungry, needy newborn (yet), but because of your spinning thoughts and wandering worries knowing labor is nearing. ‘But now is the time to catch up on sleep’, they say. How? When you’re weeks away from meeting your first child, your nervousness causes restlessness. Your mind jumps from thought to thought, rather than sheep to sheep, spinning your emotions into a bundle of excitement, impatience, butterflies and nerves.
Before crawling into bed (just to wrestle sleep), I would carefully choose the perfectly baked ginger cookies and stack them on Santa’s plate while Mom and Dad poured milk into a Welch’s jelly jar my sisters and I used as drinking glasses. (My favorite one with the purple dinosaurs etched on the side, worn and nearly translucent with years of use.) I would memorize the placement of the cookies and make note of any minimal crumbs so when morning came, I’d know if Santa really did eat the cookies.
With a due date of December 25th, you ignore the negative murmurs of December birthdays and happily imagine the holiday season a year from now. With one year of parenthood under your belt and a successful 1st birthday party complete, tiny toddler fingers will be 'helping' you hook plush ornaments on the tree and footed Christmas jammies will teeter at your feet while tugging on your flannels. Leftover birthday cake will be left by the fireplace for Santa instead of cookies, and without meaning to, a new tradition will begin.
At days break, I'd shoot up out of a slumber, upset that I fell asleep and slept through Santa's visit AGAIN. Eager to wake up the entire household, I’d start with my sisters who were in twin beds next to my makeshift bunk of carefully stacked couch cushions. It was our sibling tradition to sleep together on Christmas Eve, a memory I didn't fully appreciate until I grew older and recognized that as the baby of our family, my sisters continued the spirit of Santa solely for my sake. (If you ask them, I believed foreverrrrrrrr. Y’all, 12 years isn’t forever. I mean, 6. I totally meant 6.) We’d make our way downstairs as a family, me leading the way, bounding down the steps and skipping as many as physically possible. I'd round the corner to a twinkling tree, stretched stockings, stripes and plaids and snowmen wrapping paper, and best of all, the unwrapped gift straight from Santa's workshop. If not for the animated Christmas spirit of my nieces and nephews, I’d have to rely entirely on my own imagination to see the true essence of a child on Christmas morning. It absolutely is the most wonderful time of the year.
Deep down, you know it’s time. Still, you’ll probably time a few more contractions before waking Kyle from his deep slumber. In between the worsening pain, your excitement and fear will be replaced with a mental check list: hospital bag, CHECK; boppy pillow, CHECK; iPhone charger , CHECK; text photographer, CHECK! Hours of wavering labor, genuine support from the nurses, multiple check-ins from your doctor and endless encouragement from Kyle, the anxiousness to meet your firstborn child is an emotional whirlwind. It will be forever before you forget your tears of pain and joy and being completely overcome with a feeling that has yet to be defined when the Doctor raises up your baby and gleefully shouts, "It's a -------- !"
...To Be Continued...
FAMILY SESSION.OKLAHOMA CITY/EDMOND FAMILY/MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHER
I can't help but wonder what their next chapter will feel like. Things will change, I assume. Quiet cuddles and coffee will turn to full hands, effectively multi-tasking toddler toys and newborn feedings.
Schedules will be adjusted, bottles will be juggled with sippy cups, and nap times will be nonnegotiable. Some days, you'll dominate. Other days? When Will walks in from work, you'll having nothing left in you but tears of relief, frustration, weariness and defeat.
The first few weeks will be an emotional blur, but don't ever forget how fast time flies.
Savor the wait without the rush. Until it's time to turn the page, keep bottling up the memories of today and tomorrow's party of three.
As for you, Kate?
You're just merely months away from meeting your lifelong best friend.