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Big Love Turns 6

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There is a garden in her eyes, where roses and white lilies flow.
— Thomas Campion

Sometimes I wonder what my heart felt before I had children. I don’t remember. What I have in my heart for my girls is infinitely larger than whatever it was before they came to be.

Big Love turns six tomorrow. And while I usually have mixed emotions about her growing older, this year the mourning became a little less…and the celebration a little more. She’s amazing.  When I was planning her 6 year session, I had visions of hazy summer light and whispering winds.  I envisioned her sitting under a big oak tree on a hill in her dreamy little world because that’s where she often resides.  But when it rained the motherload of all rains the evening of her session I simply couldn’t wait another day to do it and so we trekked out to the farm the next morning, the same farm where I took her 5 year pictures last year.  And I’m glad (for once) that I let my impatience get the best of me.  Not only was it overcast and cooler, but my sweet Big Love created her own hazy summer sunshine and whispering winds.  I watched her talk herself into her little world and she let me look in.  We talked about hopes and dreams and what she wants to be when she grows up.  We talked about the rain and the fog and the different types of grass.  She picked grass and made it into different shapes.  And it was ever so quiet out there, ever so peaceful.  No traffic.  No computers or cell phones (gasp!  I didn’t even take mine with me).  No tv or music.  Just us.  And it was perfect.  And what I got were images of my beautiful 6-year-old growing up little girl.  I’m so glad she brought Lovey along too.  It’s almost the only thing left that keeps my Big Love…well, little.
















Sneak Peek {Birthday}: Emerson Turns 1!

Meet Emerson! She recently turned 1! Her birthday bash was most certainly one to remember. Pretty pretty pink everywhere! White Family, thank you so much for letting me in on this wonderful event and important part of your lives as a family! Happy Birthday, Emerson!

Happy 30th Birthday

We used to paint puddles in the sky,
Jump around on trampolines and never go inside.
We’d wake up in the mornin’ and decide
What we would do for the rest of our lives
But the rest of our lives came quickly…

Oh my darlin’
Oh my babe
How long will it take
To be carried away
To go back to the younger days…

Katie Herzig, “Oh My Darlin”

Today I have left my 20’s.  In so many ways I’m excited about the rest of my life.  But in many many more I am not.  I wonder what I’ve done with the ten years that were supposed to be some of the most exciting and vigorous of my life.  And I long to go back and try again.  To do things differently.  To make better choices.  My life is so crazy, so full that I haven’t actually had a chance to reflect on who I am now.  The person I see in the mirror is not the same in real life as she is in my head.  Somehow, some way, I must figure out who this Liz is and what she stands for.  And maybe by the time I’m 40 I will long less for the younger days.  Maybe by then I will be more comfortable in my skin and I will be better able to embrace the me that is real and cast out the one that is not and never will be again.

Or maybe…quite possibly…I will have a similar post waiting.  Maybe I will discover that the person in my head is really who I am and whether she looks 18 or 80 she will always be that person.  And that’s quite ok too.

Avery’s Birthday Part 2

Avery’s birthday and birthday party were a smashing success!  Thank you to everyone who helped make it so fun and wonderful not just for her, but for all of us!

We went to the lake with some friends the day of her birthday.  It was rainy, but we had a blast!

The gift!

The first cake.

My parents got her a big box full of Zhu Zhu pet stuff.  She loves it!

The “birthday party” cake!  Delicious!

The birthday girl and her daddy at the pool party.  They are so cute!

The next group of pictures are courtesy of my dad!  Thanks dad for taking such wonderful pictures and for being there for Avery’s 5th birthday party!

And just as her party was winding down and all the cake-filled, wound up children grabbed their balloons to go home, it started to rain.  It was appropriate really.  The end of the party, the end of the celebration of Avery’s birthday.  The moving forward.  The downer after every high.  As I packed up all of our things in the truck, the rain trickled down my cheeks and face like random teardrops and, while I was sad that I was then forced to accept that Avery had turned 5 (as if I could have stopped it anyway), I was also content in knowing that she had a very, very happy birthday.

The Birthday Girl is 5 {Part 1}!

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The prime purpose of being four is to enjoy being four – of secondary importance is to prepare for being five.  ~Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook, 1985

“Your loss is her gain.”   – My mom.

Avery has most definitely loved being 4 and prepared for being 5, but what about me?  I’m not ready.  I’m not prepared.  I am in no way, shape, or form desiring of my baby to be 5.  It may seem melodramatic.  It may be over-the-top, but I don’t want her to be 5.  And I know that there are moms out there that feel the same way.  I want her to be who she is now for much longer than she will be.  How could something that seemed decades away when she was born have happened already?!  The truth is, that I must accept that her sweet little life is not about me.  It’s about her.  I am quickly coming to accept that while I mourn the passing of her babyhood I must at least put on the face of excitement for her childhood and for the upcoming events of her life.  My views on education, the world, and religion will make a huge impact on hers. And so it is.  She will be officially five in a matter of hours and my heart is braced for impact.  My face has a smile and my voice has enthusiasm, and my hope is that if I fake it long enough, I truly will be happy that she is turning five.  When that happens, I know that no matter how I was feeling at the time, my sweet, smart, lively, simply fantastic little girl will have had a wonderful birthday.

My darling first born daughter,

We have been through so much together, so much since your surprising conception.  You have endured hardships that were not of your own doing.  You have overcome obstacles that were placed in front of you by someone else.  You love and forgive like no child I have ever met.  You have so suddenly erupted out of babyhood and into the whirlwind of a girl that you are today!  You are so very, very special, Avery.  Your perception of people and your world is so often far wiser and clearer than mine, and your love for life is so evident to all.  You amaze me in so many ways.  You love God and you love other people, and your nurturing has already proven fruitful, fruitful for me.  Thank you for loving me as you do, for forgiving me as you do, for correcting me at just the right moment and in just the right, respectful way of a child.  Thank you for being unique and for holding your own, for behaving so well, obeying so well, and for being so willing to  please.  You have been and continue to be the most wonderful surprise I have ever received, and I am privileged to know at least some of the reasons God blessed us with you when He did, in such a time that we were poorer than poor.  Throughout our family turmoil, you held steady.  You aged, but you were always my little girl.  You comforted me.  You served your family without even knowing.  You are a wonder and a miracle to us, Avery. I hope that you will look back on your childhood with “happy tears” as I do and know that no matter how much I will miss you at this age, I will love you always as you are, where you are, and for who you are.  Happy 5th Birthday to my first-born, God-ordained surprise!

Love always,

Mayci Grey’s First Birthday Party!

I had such a great time capturing Mayci’s 1st birthday party! I think a first birthday is such a momentous occasion for both the child and the parents. The child has survived growing almost 3 times it’s birth weight, popping teeth, possibly walking, going from bottle to cup, amongst so many other huge transitions! The parents have survived their child’s infancy!!! They may be starting to sleep a little more and have a little less work to do as their baby starts to become a little independent person. Mayci’s first birthday was a celebration of all of this and more! Thank you, Christy and Scottie (as well as all of your friends and family) for letting me capture all those special moments! I had a hard time picking my favorites, so there’s a bunch here to look at!

I was fortunate to catch this expression, the true feelings a father has when putting together a toy!

They played a game where two teams had to roll each of their partners in toilet paper.  The first one to finish the roll won!  It was cute to watch!

The kids were so much fun to watch and take pictures of!

I have a series of pictures of these two sitting here eating.  They were hilarious!  She was trying to push him off the seat and he didn’t think it was funny, but she was just crackin’ up!  I watched them throughout the party.  I think they have a love/hate relationship.  I bet they’ll get married….lol.

Happy Birthday Baby Bean!!

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  ~Elizabeth Stone

My dear sweet Anabel,

When you were born, you caused us so much grief that I thought I could never feel about you the way I do today. You are the epitome of life. Your eyes shine with mischief and love. You are a serving, love-giving, vocal, sweet, smart, precious girl, and I feel my heart swell at the thought of you. Your sweet voice echoes with joy through our home morning, noon, and night.  You are so smart!  You know your colors, body parts (even elbow and eyebrow) and can count to 10.  You can even recognize some of your numbers and letters!  You love books, are inquisitive, and ever so mischievous. You are my baby. You will be my baby until I have another baby, and even then you will always hold a special place in my heart. You and your sister each hold your own special and unique place there. You are my only second sunshine!  There is only one you and that makes you very very special!

Today, you turn 2. I’m overjoyed daily that you were born and that you wake up every morning, that you are safe and sound in your crib. So many parents do not get that luxury. I am so blessed by your life, I cannot tell you. It is so cliche to say that you will never know the love I hold for you in my heart, but it is so true. You won’t.  My heart wells with love of great proportion every day for you.  Between you and your sister, I often feel overwhelmed by the love I have for you both!  Often, though, I am simply overwhelmed by my love for you.

Your mommy is still just as selfish as she was last year on your birthday. I still don’t want you to grow up. One day you won’t be 2 but 20. You will know the dangers, the good, and the evil of the world. You will learn that monsters are real and that catastrophes do happen. You will learn that in this world, innocence does not last forever. And honestly, I don’t want you to learn those things. I think I’d be perfectly happy if you remained 2 forever. I really don’t mind the dirty diapers or sippy cups. I don’t mind cleaning your sweet, chubby little hands and face after each and every meal. Each night when I rock you and sing your favorite songs, I wonder how much babyness you lost that day. I won’t know right away, but I will see it slowly but surely slip away.

I love you my darling sweet baby girl. My hope for you is that if you must grow up, that you remain sweet, kind, and serving of others, that your eyes always twinkle with mischief, that you never lose your special spunk, your love of shoes and necklaces, or the unique spirit that makes you my Anabel Rose. I hope that if you must suffer, that you will know that you can share the burden with me and that if you must see the monsters that you won’t know them personally.  I hope that you will find comfort from God and know His love, grace, and forgiveness.  I hope that if you must, at some point, lose your precious innocence, that you will not lose your zest for life and that there will always be a part of you somewhere in there that was my sweet innocent baby.

Happy Birthday Anabel!

Love always,


The pictures above by Angey Price Photography.