Friday, April 29, 2011

right now...

Willette is doing a weekly challenge that I need to be a part of!  I find that I take so many pictures of other kids that I don't grab my camera and document our family right now.  Don't get me wrong, I have so many professional pictures of my kids, but I also want to remember the moments when they aren't dressed to the nine, their hair is hanging in their face, they aren't always looking at the camera, and they are just being kids.  So this is this weeks, Right Now...

Leah and I got Sam on the bus after lunch.  She waved good-bye to the "big yellow bus" and we headed back for more driveway fun.

We started with some coloring...
She even drooled a bit!

She kicked her shoes off to get comfortable.

And had to take her socks off too.
Yes, that's big girl panties showing!

It was no good to leave the socks on the driveway, so she tried to stuff them in her pockets.
Really, I love these images just because of the blue sky and that belly!

We left the crayons behind....

...and entered the street for some bike riding fun.

Then we came inside, used the potty and cleaned hands and headed upstairs...

...where she is sleeping peacefully.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pure Sweetness

Almost makes me want another one.  Almost.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mommy & Me Mini Sessions

OK, Mamma's!  If you are anything like me, then when your kids grow up and look back at photos, they will have lots of pictures of themselves, but they will wonder if you were ever even there!  You aren't IN any of the pictures!  That's because you are the one always behind the camera.  This is the perfect opportunity to be not only in the photos, but the main point of them!

On Saturday, April 30th we will meet at beautiful Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum for an amazing Mommy and Me photo session experience!  The focus of the session will be the sweet and tender relationship between Mommy and her children.  Your online gallery will be available about one week later and will have approximately 8-12 images for you to cherish forever.

Rules and Terms:
*  Session fee is due at time of booking and is non-transferable
*  Session fee may be transferred to someone else for your time slot, but not to any other session or event
*  Your $100 session fee will be credited to your print order in full
*  Packages start at $125, please contact me for more information
*  A la carte items may be added to any package

Experience an amazing session with your most treasured little people with the Moments Photography treatment.  Dad's, this would be a great Mother's Day gift for your wife!  Book today, space is limited!

For questions or to secure your appointment, please email me at or call me at 513.378.9919.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Loving the winters and the floods

It's been raining this weekend.  Again.  All weekend.  That dreary-stay-in-your-jammies-all-day kind of rain.  At least it wasn't as cold this time.  Last week it was so cold and so rainy that it should have just been snow.  That way we could have all stayed home because the city would have been shut down due to 2 feet of snow.  But instead, it was rain.  The lack of sunshine definitely has me feeling the winter blahs (or blues, or depression, who really knows?).  I feel like I need the spring.  I need the sunshine.  I need warmer temperatures.  I need to see the blue sky and white puffy clouds.  I need to hear the birds singing the first thing as I wake up.  I need to feel the fresh air coming through my windows and wash away all the germs and freshen up my house after being closed up for so long.

But I wonder what God wants to teach me during this time.  The winter is a necessary part of the year and it must be a necessary part of my life.

I am reminded of where I was on a Friday afternoon 8 months ago.  God had opened doors and miraculously allowed us (Allie, Emily and I) to go on an amazing adventure to Mexico.  I had high hopes of what the Lord would teach the girls and myself while serving Him and the orphans with Back 2 Back Ministries.  Little did I know (OK, not at all did I know!) that we were walking right into a hurricane.  Literally.  Hurricane Alex, the first hurricane of the season came early in the season and had a direct hit on Monterrey, Mexico.  Right where God had miraculously brought us for His plan and glory.  And little did I know that the Good Lord would still be teaching me from those days 8 months ago.

First Day in Monterrey
Same view on Thursday afternoon (notice the "missing" mountain)
The rain started on Wednesday.  It was predicted we would get 5-10 inches of rain with significant flooding.  Thursday we were told it was too dangerous to leave the walls of the Back 2 Back campus, so we would stay there and try to prevent flood damage to the campus.  We shoveled large piles of gravel to direct the flow of the rain away from the Guckenberger home and other buildings.  The work was hard.  The rain poured without hope of letting up while water ravaged with sewage flooded the ground we walked on.  And as if that wasn't enough, we lost power and most communication.  We were told to ration food and clean water.  The flood water had saturated the ground so much that it was no longer solid, places of the earth were opening up to large sinkholes.  The walls surrounding the campus were breaking under the pressure of a nearly 6 foot wall of water pressing against it.  There was fear that it would break suddenly causing flash flooding through the campus.  Holes were drilled into the walls to relieve the pressure.  What should have been 5-10 inches of rain turned into a relentless 40 inches of rain in only 36 hours.  Significant flooding turned into devastating flooding.  And the hope of getting my two babies out of harms way to the safety of our home on Friday was gone as we were told that there was no way out of the campus.

The beginning of the flooding on Wednesday

Thursday on campus
Working hard
One of the roads out of campus
A hole in the wall to relieve pressure
Unbelievable water flowed through campus

And the thoughts going through my emotional mind seemed just as devastating as the flood itself.  We may have only gotten 39 inches of rain if I could have stopped the tears from coming!  God had miraculously opened doors to bring us to Mexico for this?  Really??  I had expected so much from this trip, but not this.  I even expected danger.  I mean, it's Mexico!  I was nervous to take my young girls to such a dangerous place and was warned by so many.  Never in a million years would I have expected the danger to come from a natural disaster.  How could God to this to me?  We worked so hard to raise the money and make this trip possible and God provided above and beyond what I had ever imagined.  And yes, He brought us here for THIS.  I wish I could say that I accepted that reality then and there, but I think it has taken 8 months and a really long winter to accept that.

Thursday night into Friday was one of my longest nights ever.  I stayed awake listening to the pouring rain, praying that God would allow it to just stop.  As I lay there in bed, I remembered standing outside Thursday afternoon watching the rain come down and thinking that it was just so relentless.  The rain just would not give up!  Then I remembered the words to a song we had sung that night during worship. There was no electricity, but there sure was power in that room and it was felt by all!  The words we sang to our Awesome God, "And like a flood, His mercy rains, unending love...amazing grace!"  Oh, my God, thank you that your love is relentless and won't give up on ME!  I prayed all night that the rain would stop and we would go home as planned on Friday, but as a dim light returned the day I knew that it was not going to be possible.  I was so homesick for Brian and my other two babies, and I was scared for our safety.  Then, Emily woke up saying she wasn't feeling well.  She had a fever and started throwing up.  I could barely hold it together.  At many times, I didn't.

Between taking care of Emily, helping Allie with all of the stress of the situation, and packing, I found myself sitting on a bench under an umbrella talking with Beth Guckenberger.  She and her husband are the founders of Back 2 Back Ministries and if I could spend just one day listening to her words, my life would be richer. The woman is amazing.  I had a five minute conversation with her that is likely to change my life.  As I fought back tears, I told her I would endure this and that I would make it and be OK.  I just didn't have to like it, right?  She paused, in that kind of way that you know you probably said something wrong, and without condemnation, she said, "I don't know.  I'm going to have to think on that one a bit.  I wonder if maybe you do have to like it."  Immediately James 1:2 came to my mind (although I didn't want to admit it!), "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds".  I'm telling you, I did not want to consider this joy!  Giving birth?  Yes, that's joy!  But this flood?  My baby being sick?  Feeling out of control and helpless in a dangerous situation?  I did not even want to try to find joy in it.  I guess I am stubborn that way.  I guess that's why God sent me to a third world country to experience a hurricane.  I'm stubborn!  And God's grace and mercy and love are relentless!

There were three roads to get us to the highway, which would get us to the airport.  One was washed away, one was significantly under water, and one...the only one with hope...was starting to wash away and had at least a foot of water rushing over it.  The National Guard had been called into Monterrey, and had deemed the route from our campus to the airport impassible.  But the staff knew ways the National Guard did not and they were determined to get us out of campus (which was growing more dangerous) and to the airport hotel to get us home.  We loaded our bags and my sick babies (Allie was starting to not feel well too, I think she was so tired) onto a truck and started our long journey to the airport hotel.

The one "safe" road to get us to the highway

The streets the bus drove on to get us to the airport
Downtown Monterrey
We made it home.  Only 24 hours later than planned.  God moved mountains to get Allie and Emily and I to Mexico that week, and I firmly believe it was so we could experience Hurricane Alex.  God did amazing things in my heart that week.  I know this is a long post, but I wish I could go into depth the things He taught me during this.  God works in mysterious ways.

I have learned that God's love and grace are relentless, like a flood.  And for that I am thankful.  I have learned that God does open the doors for great adventures.  And sometimes those doors lead you right into a hurricane.  I have learned that I will walk through the floods of life.  And when I do, God is right there with me.  I have learned that if God is for me, who can be against?  I have learned that God uses all things to work together for His good for those who love Him.  And I have learned that nothing, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (floods!) will be able to separate us from the love of God!  And I am learning to consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds, because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I wish I could have known all of this 8 months ago.  I am so thankful for that time in Mexico and am even thankful for Hurricane Alex.  I pray that the insight that was gleaned from this experience will carry over into the next trial, whatever it may be, and that in the midst of it, I will have joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding.  I wish that God wasn't reinforcing all of this with a really long winter.  But I suppose I need to give up my stubbornness and find joy in it.

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Nope, not really, just haven't been here much!  I can't believe it's been since August since I have updated my blog.  Time has really flown by.

We had a great fall, a fabulous Christmas and now we are anxiously awaiting the spring.  My fall and end of 2010 was extremely busy with my growing photography business.  If you want to stay up on that, feel free to "like" Moments Photography on Facebook.

The kids are getting so big, 3 of the 4 are all celebrating birthdays right now.  Sometimes I look at them and still can't believe they are mine!

Hopefully will be updating a little more regularly!  :)  Until then, stay warm!

Monday, August 9, 2010

If you don't give a baby a cookie...

...or anything else, she will get very fussy.  I wanted to update about Leah's 24 hour fast sooner, but I just didn't get a chance yet.  We survived!  It was quite an experience that I pray we never have to relive, but Leah did great and was such a trooper.  I was just so proud of her!

The sweet girl had no idea what was about to happen to her.

Where are we going Mommy?

We arrived at the hospital about 8:15 on Monday evening.  It was hard getting out of the house.  Apparently, the 3 big kids did NOT want us to leave!  We got checked in and were walked to our room. The nurse (a couple actaully) and a doctor did a full review of Leah's history with us while she explored the room.  Her favorite thing to do was to crawl under the crib!  She was quite curious!  Finally, around 11:00 a nurse came in to give a very tired Leah an IV in her arm.  That was not what was on Leah's agenda!  She cried very hard for it, but when they were done she was allowed to go to sleep, finally.  I laid her in the crib and she went right to sleep.

You would think that by baby number 4 I wouldn't be so in awe of a sleeping baby, but I am.  I just stood there and stared at my sweet baby.  

I had so many thoughts running through my head as I stood there and watched her sleep.  The first and biggest thought was of how much love I have for this sweet girl.  I mean, really, could I love our 4th baby as much as I have loved the other 3?  I am astonished at how much joy she has added to our family.  And of course, my thoughts were consumed with the last few months with our sweet Leah.  Her health has certainly been on the forefront of our minds and at times heavy on our hearts.  Answers could not come fast enough for us, but in the process of this, we are learning patience and how to wait on the Lord.

It was a long night of being awakened every couple hours for blood sugar pricks.  But in between, we did sleep a little bit.  Unfortunately, we were up by 6:45 AM for good.  Leah was so good.  She barely complained at all about not eating, however, my Mommy heart broke into a million pieces every time she would sign eat and please.  It went against every fiber of my being to not feed my child, especially as I watched her sugar slip and she became very symptomatic.

We did play some...

And she walked the hallways a LOT, waving cutely at every nurse she walked by.  It sure does a moms heart good to hear how cute your baby is about 175 times in one day!  Oh I love that girl!  By 2:00 her sugar was down to 50 and she was very sleepy and shaky.  She fell asleep and I thought for sure when they checked her the next time that she would be below 45, which is where she needed to be for the test to be accurate.  So we kept checking while she slept.

Unfortunately, her sugar never dropped below 50.  She stalled out there, even went up a tad bit, for 4 long hours.  The doctor said that sugar is very unpredictable.  Um, yeah!  He did say that it was good that it didn't drop dangerously low again, but that it was bad because we may not get accurate results.  Talk about frustration!  The whole reason I decided to go through with this test was so that we could finally get some answers, and now they are saying maybe not.  They did go ahead and draw the blood (the 10 viles of it!!!), and I am praying for something.  Again, we wait.  

And finally, Leah was allowed to eat!!!  A full 24 hours after she had eaten the night before.  And she was so happy about it.

And they pumped her veins with sugar...

And finally, we were able to go home!  I think Leah was just as ready as I was!

We were welcomed home by Allie, Emily, Sam and Daddy (and Aunt Kelly!) at 9:30 pm.  I wish I could say that the craziness was over, but when we got home, I checked Leah's sugar levels and she was actually really high.  I put her to bed, assuming that it was because of the glucose they put in her IV, but the next morning she was even higher.  When all of this first started back in April, we were told that it wasn't diabetes, that it was probably some form of hypoglycemia to then maybe thinking it was a metabolic disorder, with the possibility of a brain tumor thrown in there, now back to the possibility of it being diabetes in the early stages.  My head is spinning!  We will see the pediatric endocrinologist in two weeks to talk about all of this and hopefully get some answers.

But for now, we continue to wait and monitor her sugar.  This sweet little fourth baby of ours sure is taking us for a roller coaster ride that we didn't expect.  However the Lord continues to teach us amazing things about Himself and we have been so blessed by so many things and so many people through this process.  God is so good and we continue to place our sweet baby, and her blood sugar, in His hands.  He created her and He knows exactly what is going on in her body, even when we don't understand.  He's just cool like that.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A road less traveled

Or one that has never been traveled in our home.  Tonight I will take Leah to Children's at 8:00 to begin her 24 hour fasting challenge.  I am counting down the hours, not out of excitement, and not really even out of fear, but just simply because I can't wait to get on with this.  I am tired of thinking about this test and wondering how she will respond to it and how it will be on me to watch her go through this.  But tonight I can just live it and see it unfold instead of playing out the countless scenarios in my head.  The goal is to fast her for up to 24 hours.  Then, when her sugar drops, they will get this "critical sample" of blood to see what has been causing her sugar to be all over the place.  A problem we didn't even know existed until April 28th.  They want to get this all figured out before flu season hits and she gets sick again, since getting sick could cause her sugar to drop dangerously low again.  So, as much as I don't want to put her through this test, I will do it in hopes that we don't have to ever see her so lethargic and unresponsive again.  And to get an answer.  We have now had 2 pediatricians and 2 pediatric specialists agree that this is the right road to take and I am at peace with the decision...just can't wait for it to be over!

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say refoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will gusrd you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."   Phil 4:4-7