Saturday, March 31, 2007

Welcome to our family, MAX!!!

This is Max. He is a 1-year old Australian Shepherd mix. We are guessing Lab is the other part of his parentage, or maybe collie.

We spent a lot of time Thursday looking for the perfect dog. We didn't really find the one dog that we KNEW was our dog. When we adopted Mocha many years ago, we knew it was right. She had come up to us in the adoption center, curled around my leg and looked up as if to say "c'mon, guys - finish the paperwork so we can go home!" She was perfect for us and she knew it! That's what we were looking for this time around.

Friday evening I called a woman who fosters dogs up for adoption. She described Max to me - loves kids, likes walks, a little bit of puppy chewing trouble, but nothing horrible. Max had been with her for three weeks, then adopted out last week and brought back because he wasn't housebroken. It sounded good, so we went down to meet Max.

The minute we walked in, Max let us know he was the one. He was so much like Mocha, it was uncanny - he did the same thing, walking up to my leg and looking up to say "let's go! I want to go home!" He was great with the kids, gentle and sweet. Even when Grace played with his lips, he didn't show any signs of snapping. We filled out our papers and went to the van. As soon as I opened the van door, he jumped right in.

All was well until this morning. We discovered at 5:30 that Max had dug a hole under the gate and escaped. We drove around for 2 hours looking for him. We posted flyers everywhere. Everyone was scared and worried that we wouldn't see him again. I was glad he was chipped, but I dreaded calling the foster mom and telling her that he was missing.

Then, at 7:30, the phone rang. It was the foster mom, and she already knew Max was missing - in fact, she knew exactly where Max was! He had run two doors down the street to an open garage where a man was working on his car. The dog was so friendly, they put it on a leash and walked around the neighborhood at 11 pm trying to find a place where a dog might have escaped. They called the foster mom when they couldn't figure out whose dog it was, and she was so happy to be able to tell us he had been found!

We picked up Max and he's back home where he belongs. We've shored up the gate with lots of cement bricks. Our plans for the weekend include lots of playing and getting to know Max in the hopes that he'll realize he's here for the long haul, and there's no need to run off.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What pretty little girls!

These two little beauties are Hannah and Morgan. They came over for their portraits, but they also brought their bunny Fuzz. Fuzz was a very good bunny, but quite nervous with all of the children in the studio - of course, my own three kids just had to come torment the bunny for a little while! Fuzz wasn't all that thrilled about having his picture taken, but the girls were excellent and cooperative subjects!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good-bye, sweet Mocha

Mocha died about 5:30 PM on March 26, 2007. She was a friendly dog, and often came out to the studio to greet customers. She never nipped or bit anyone, even when the most obnoxious child pulled her tail or sat on her fur.

We had Mocha for 13 years, and had rescued her from the pound when she was about 2 years old. 15 years is a pretty long time for a dog her size - and she had 13 good years with us, filled with love and joy. Now that she's gone, she's left a pretty big hole in our hearts. We got her shortly after our marriage began, and it's weird to not have her around.

We are lucky that she wasn't suffering, so we never had to make the decision to put her to sleep. She got to die at home, lying on our couch and surrounded by love. We all got the chance to say good-bye to her, it seems like she was holding on all day until I could come home from work. After that, it went pretty fast.

I like to think that she was greeted in Heaven by our son Nicholas, who died when he was 11 days old. I'm sure he would love a sweet dog who can now run and play with him without the problems of old age.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

By far the COOLEST senior session ever!

This is my first senior of 2007 - the senior season is just starting up. Already, I have to say this was by far the coolest senior session I've done to date! John is going to be joining the US Air Force after graduation, so we were able to do his senior photos at Luke Air Force Base! What a neat thing, to be able to see the planes and use them as a backdrop for his senior photos!

John was a great subject - cooperative and interesting, especially compared to the toddlers I've been working with recently! I know that he will have a great career in the Air Force and I wish him the best. He was going to be sworn in by the commander of the Thunderbirds during the Luke Days celebration, which is another cool thing! I wish John the best of luck for his future, and thank you for serving your country.

The Thunderbirds!

We got the chance to see the Thunderbirds perform yesterday at Luke Days. We learned our lesson back in October when the Goodyear air show was mismanaged and a horribly bungled event...but the Blue Angels were still awesome. This time, we just found a nice empty parking lot and watched from afar. We were thrilled to see them perform, and even got some nice shots of them flying in formation!

Marie was excited today because she got a letter from "her soldier" in Iraq. Last month she sent a box of girl scout cookies to a soldier from Arizona, currently serving in Iraq. She got the name and adress from and sent off the cookies. She got a letter back today answering all of his questions - no, he doesn't have a dog and yes, he likes pizza. We explained to her that some of the same soldiers who were serving at Luke had probably served or will serve in Iraq, just like "her soldier."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A very great blessing...

This is Grady. He's 9 days old and already the light of his parents' eyes. He is a very special little guy - his mom is featured in an entry back in February, so you can read her story there.

Every birth story is different, but as long as the story ends in the arrival of a healthy baby, every story is a good one. Grady ended up arriving via emergency c-section. So often I hear women lament that their birth plans went awry at the last moment and they didn't have their chance to have a "natural childbirth." If they only knew how lucky they were...

I knew that Grady was going to be born on March 9, that was the scheduled induction date. All day I thought about his mom and I prayed that she would have an easy labor with a wonderful, joyous outcome. At her maternity session, she had told be about Grady's older brother - a little boy who had arrived too early and left too soon. So I was thinking of her a little more than I usually think of maternity clients and their impending labor - we have so much in common, having lost sons to prematurity and gone through difficulties to start a family.

I got a call on the evening of March 9 and my heart just sank. I recognized the number - it was the local coordinator for NILMDTS. She only calls me when a baby has died, or isn't expected to live. Immediately I thought of Grady and his family, and I hoped that it was not them. Of course, the odds were greatly against it - the odds that something would go wrong, and that I would be the photographer "on call" for the NILMDTS person that evening. And it wasn't Grady at all - it was a little girl at St. Joe's who wasn't expected to last long. So I packed my gear and set out for the hospital - grateful that it wasn't someone I knew, but sad knowing that some other mom was going through a horrible time. That mom had gone into the hospital expecting to come home with a healthy baby - and that was not going to happen.

So I am thankful for EVERY birth that has a healthy baby at the end of it - natural, "unnatural," with a midwife, with a doctor, induced, or c-section - they are ALL great options if the outcome is good. Too often I see women who are disappointed because their labor wasn't their ideal - but really, isn't the best outcome of all a healthy baby we can take home with us when we leave the hospital?

Spring has sprung - a tale of two rabbits.

Spring isn't even officially here yet but in Arizona it's already more like summer...five days in a row of record high temperatures, 20 degrees above average - it was 99 a couple of days ago! But even if it feels like summer, it's still spring in the studio and that means Easter eggs, bunnies and chicks.

I was so ready for the Easter thing. I got a bunch of fake animals - ducks, chicks and bunnies. They were perfect - very real looking and so very soft. Looking at the label, I discovered they were made from rabbit fur, dyed to be yellow and orange in the case of the birds. It was kind of ironic, wasn't it - they were using real bunnies to make fake bunnies! I put the animals aside and waited for the big day to arrive.

Then, when I needed the animals - all were accounted for, except one cute little bunny. I figured one of the kids had taken them - probably Gracie, she's 2 and takes pretty much anything she wants. The whole family was looking for our lost rabbit. We went through the drawers, looked under the beds, cleaned out the toybox - nothing. Finally, we looked in the backyard. That's when we found it - the lumpy remains of a poor fake bunny. It turns out the dog was just too interested in the scent of real rabbit, and was fooled into eating my props! Luckily, bunny #2 was fine and able to participate in our sessions.

The future O. Sidney, esquire

This cute little guy is named Oliver Sidney - what a big name for such a little fellow! Mom and I were joking that he could someday become a big lawyer or politician and go by the name "O. Sidney" rather than using his first name - it sounds so dignified, doesn't it?

His big brother is holding him and what a great big brother he is! O. Sidney is a lucky guy to have someone older to show him the ropes.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A new little sweetheart!

Welcome baby Blythe!

Blythe made her grand entrance on February 20. She is so cute and precious - a perfect little baby girl.

Newborns are so interesting to photograph. Even at a young age, they already have a personality. Some of them just want to sleep, some of them are alert and watchful, others are cranky and moody. It's amazing how each baby arrives with a temperament and an agenda! Sometimes I think they spend their 9 months in the womb can I take over the family in the most efficient way? Of course, being cute and beautiful does work in their favor!

Congratulations go out to Blythe's family, and I wish Blythe a healthy and happy life.

Girls 2, boys 0

My streak of boys is coming to an end...for a while! I got to "meet" two girls this weekend - one who has arrived and one who hasn't yet been born.

I don't usually do a lot of black and white - but this image just has so much texture and gorgeous shadow that I couldn't help changing it!

This was such a fun couple to photograph. They were in Surprise to watch a spring training game and have a "babymoon" before their little girl makes her grand entry. What a smart idea!

Babies are a blessing, but they do tend to change your life in ways you never anticipate. It's so important to remember to stay a couple, and not just be a parent 24/7. There's an old saying - "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" That is so true, and all the dads should remember it - keep your wives happy, and everyone in the family will benefit. Moms, keep in mind that you aren't just a mom, but also a wife - and your husbands will love you all the more!

A truly deserved miracle...

I have worked with so many pregnant ladies recently, and every one of them has been full of joy and anticipation. But one of the sweetest and most kind expectant moms came through my door recently and I had to share with you my experience.

Laura is such a beautiful soul - she teaches first grade, and she is sweet as can be. Her little boy is scheduled to join her family tomorrow, March 9. Right before she arrived at the studio, I received a call from the local coordinator for NILMDTS. There was a family who had lost a newborn, and would I be able to go to the hospital to take the photos of their child? I had to turn it down, as I had already scheduled a session. I did feel bad - but then I found out more about Laura and I know that things have worked out the way that they should.

Laura told me that she had lost a baby last year, at 28 weeks. So she knows exactly what that family is going through - the loss of the hopes and the dreams, the profound shock and grief when what is supposed to be a happy day turns horrible. This pregnancy, she was enjoying every single minute - because she realized exactly what a miracle it really is.

A cynical person might ask how miraculous it can be - how many billions of time has the "miracle of birth" taken place throughout human existence? And yet, for anyone who has lost a child or had a pregnancy go wrong, there is no denying that it IS a miracle - no matter how many times it happens.

So tomorrow I ask that everyone keep Laura in your thoughts as she goes in to give birth to her son. If you're a praying person, pray that she has a good labor and that all is well. I know that I really can't wait to meet her little boy, and that he will be loved and appreciated all the days of his life.