MAGNOLIA IS THIRTEEN
Thirteen Year Session | Franklin Square | Syracuse, NY
My little girl, I love you so very much.
We are different in so many ways...
You are an extrovert, you thrive being with others.
You see the best in everyone and refuse to judge.
You're a giver and a helper.
You are easy-going like your daddy.
You don't care about make-up or fashion or looks.
You're everything I'm not
and you have helped me to be a better person.
I am blessed to be your Mama
and your friend.
My kind, beautiful Magnolia,
I love you just the way you are!
Three Year Old Session | Syracuse, NY
our dear sweet rainbow baby . . .
you're three now.
Every morning you ask Mama to cuddle you on the couch
with your Otis baby (stuffed goat) in one hand
and a cup of kefir in the other.
We watch robot videos together until sissy wakes up.
She is your bestest playmate and partner in crime.
And although you are very different from each other,
in many ways you're a lot like her, too.
I see her influence on you
in the way you empathize with others and show small
and yet breathtaking acts of kindness.
You're affectionate and joyful and so much fun!
That's not to say you aren't a mischief maker.
You like to do your own thing, even when you've been told no.
Then when you see me get upset,
you always ask me the same question
"are you happy Mama?"
And I always reply with the same answer
"I'm happy when you listen Finny."
But the truth is, I'm happy even when you don't.
I'm happy I get to teach you . . .
And to help you grow.
I'm happy I get to be your Mommy.
Even when you cannon ball onto the dog
and try to ride her like a horse.
Even when you dig through the recycling
and litter our home with trash
that you call "robots" and "airplanes".
Even when you scream to sleep with me at night
and when I finally cave and let you,
you scream to go back to your room.
Even with all the challenging bits,
that you are you!
"I like you just the way you are." -Mister Rogers
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Magnolia Turns Eleven | Stone Quarry Hill Art Park | Cazenovia, NY
And just like that, our baby girl is 11.
One of my favorite things about her is
that she doesn’t care about superficial things.
She doesn’t care about looks or fashion or being popular.
What she cares about, is other people.
She’s the kindest soul I’ve ever known and
God only knows how I have the privilege of raising her.
My sweet Magnolia You were born good!
I strive every day to deserve you.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,
I’d want to be your friend even if you weren’t my child. ❤️
Two Year Old Session | Clark Reservation | Jamesville, NY
My sweet, sweet boy.
Who loves music and cuddles
and rocking in the chair.
You've never met a truck, dinosaur or robot
you didn't like.
You're two now
and climbing on everything
that doesn't move.
And even a few things that do.
(Sorry Early Mae)
You're still a complainer
about so many things in life, lol.
And you're definitely not a fan of napping.
But your giggle steals away my breath.
Your love for your sissy
makes my whole world complete.
And the fact that you'll eat just about anything I serve,
makes Mama do a happy dance!
I hear a lot of parents speak of their kids and say
"I can't imagine life without you."
Well, I can imagine life without you.
In fact, I had to, for a very long time.
And it was like a missing puzzle piece
that ached in my soul.
But you're ours now
and the past two years have made us whole.
You were the piece
that gave me peace.
I love you Baby Mine
So far, so deep and so wide.
Magnolia Turns Ten
I was just thinking today...
Our lives are filled with so many moments.
We live each of them and they pass so swiftly.
How many events happen
where we can recall the exact moment in time?
On this day, at exactly 10:41 am
one decade ago
we held her in our arms for the very first time.
We had no idea yet, of her thoughtful ways
and her kind heart.
But in that moment,
and every one since,
she has been loved beyond measure.
We go to Cape Cod every year!
This will be the first year we miss
because I'm shooting a wedding in Connecticut
around the time we usually go.
And we are FINALLY going to Disney World!!!
We just couldn't swing two vacations,
but we aren't even mad about it.
(Because DISNEY WORLD!!)
With all that said,
I decided it was probably time
to blog last year's Cape Cod trip.
I still have loads to edit
because when you're a photographer
you spend all your time working on other people's images
instead of your own.
Finny was only about 7 months at the time
and I was a little nervous about how he would do.
Well, he was fantastic!
He slept like a champ every night.
And we did our best to wear him out
It was his first time touching the ocean.
Both kids first trip to Edaville.
My husband and daughter's first time
climbing and ziplining through the trees.
(Highly recommended btw)
And our very first vacation as a family of four.
We made memories that will last forever.
And here's just a snippet of proof...
30 Minutes in the Life | October 2016
We went on a field trip this month specially designed for homeschoolers.
It was hosted by The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY.
We learned all about a butterfly's lifecycle and did some crafts.
Then we were allowed 20 minutes in the butterfly garden,
which, in my opinion, was the best part of the day.
In addition to hundreds of butterflies, they had a toucan (way smaller than I always pictured them), some turtles (one of which seemed to be doing yoga - see photo below) and a bunch of quail.
Also, one really rad chameleon!
The highlight was when Nolie got to hold one of the butterflies.
An educational experience full of great memories!
Please continue this month's journey, with a visit to the incredible Amanda Voelker Photography!
After our homeschool day today I decided to take Nolie on a little field trip to The Wild. It was our first time there and we were so impressed! It was so clean feeling, which was refreshing for a zoo. The animals were so close and we could feed the non-dangerous species, sometimes out of our hand. Others we could feed through tubes. They have more animals than I took images of including :: Lions, Tigers (one is white), Grizzly and Black Bears, Porcupines, Kangaroo and many more. Next time I will bring a zoom lens to try and capture some of those animals.
Here are the animals I did photograph ::
African Crowned Crane
Reticulated Giraffe (They had names, but my daughter kept calling them Mr. and Mrs. Neck, LOL)
My Little Bear Cub
Watusi (He knew his name and came when he was called)
North American Alligator
Poison Dart Frog
The Wild closes for the winter season at the end of this month. I am so glad we got to check it out before they shut down. We both highly recommend a visit. My daughter even coined it "the best day ever!" (But in all honesty, she has a lot of those, lol.)
"Behind every young child who believes in themselves is a parent who believed first."
-Matthew L Jacobson
Magnolia | Six and One Half
The Girl Who Created a Beach
I haven't taken her picture too much lately, other than for school. I've been busy with work and a million other things. Today was our day off from schooling and we were supposed to spend the whole day cleaning the house. I was upstairs folding my third basket of laundry. . .
. . .she was downstairs spreading out her blankets on the living room floor. The dark blue one meant to represent the sea. She changed into summer attire and rummaged through my over-sized hats.
Her face lit up when she came running upstairs and excitedly said "Mommy come see my surprise, you're gonna love it!!"
When your little girl creates a beach for just the two of you, you innately understand that any mess can wait. So there we sat, under a "palm tree", eating grapes and strawberries on "the beach." When we were done, I asked if I could take a few pictures. She didn't mind at all. I didn't take a lot, just enough to record a memory.
Now, she's taking a nap and I'm about to go back to folding clothes. As I was tucking her in she said "You know what Mommy?" "What?" I asked. "You're a really good friend" she replied with a sweet smile. I know some people don't think that you should be friends with your children. To me, though, it is such a blessing. I know that she respects and obeys me. She definitely sees me as an authority figure. At the same time, she knows she can always come talk to me, about anything. I love spending time with her and comforting her when she needs it. Isn't that the definition of friendship?
"You know what Nolie? You are a really good friend too."
This beautiful man has been my husband for the past 17 years.
He is my "beyond words".
For there doesn't exist enough language in the world to fully describe all that he is,
all that he has been, to me and to all those who truly know him.
He is easy-going.
What a blessing that has been.
I am, as some would say, anything but calm in a crisis.
I am a high-strung, panicky worrier. I am a "worst case scenario" kind of gal.
My husband Greg, however, is cool and level headed.
He is forgiving.
Even when he has a right to be hurt, he has this kind way of letting go..
A way of seeing the best in others.
He's helped me to be a better person, to breathe when I'd rather seethe.
He has an incredible sense of humor.
Not in a joke telling kind of way, but a natural wittiness.
He makes us laugh everyday.
He's a great communicator.
We talk about everything together.
He expresses himself freely and allows us to do the same.
He is thoughtful.
He's been known to clean the entire house on more than one occasion.
To make me breakfast in bed.
Or pick me wildflowers.
Perhaps best of all, he is an amazing Father.
He makes time to play with our daughter even after an exhausting full day of work.
He spends weekends planning Daddy/Daughter days.
He reads to her, teaches her life skills and listens when she talks.
Yes, my husband is quite a guy.
He's not without his faults, but he more than makes up for them.
The thing is, not everyone is here to see the man he's become.
You see, when my husband was just 13 years old
his father took his own life.
He had struggled with depression, most likely bi-polar disorder, for years.
He had, at times, reached out for help, but the old school thinking was just to
"snap out of it".
People didn't understand clinical depression as much as they do now.
There was a stigma attached to it.
Let's face it, no one wants to be labeled "crazy".
I get that.
However, having a mental disorder doesn't automatically make you insane.
And when you look at it with the correct perspective, it makes all the difference.
I mean, no one wants diabetes or cancer either.
Still, that wouldn't stop most of us from getting help if we had them.
Today is the 10th of September. It is national suicide prevention day. It is so important to bring awareness to this issue.
I never got to meet my Father-in-Law.
Yet, I still long to tell him a great many things.
I want to tell him to stay. Tell him "You ARE of value in this life."
I want to show him his grown-up son and say "Look, you made him.
You have so much to live for."
I want to introduce him to his granddaughter.
Our sweet girl who prays for others in her small voice at night.
Who shares so readily and gives the biggest hugs with her eyes closed so tight.
I want to say "I love you"
and wrap my arms around this man I never knew.
To thank him for playing such a huge role in my life.
Please hold the people in your life. Tell them they matter.
More than that, guide them to get help when they need it.
And even more than that, never make them feel bad for needing it.
National Hotline :: #1.800.273.8255