Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Maternity Session- Phillips Family

I am happy to share the maternity session from this past weekend. I took the photos of a dear friend, my maid of honor and my college roommate. These were very special photos for me and I cannot wait to meet baby Will. Congratulations, Sara and Micah and good luck with the end of your pregnancy! It flies! (I also want to point out that this was my first session that I shot 100% on manual settings! Yes, I'm proud!)

This one totally reminds me of titanic... right?

Check out more on my facebook page at: les photography

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bean Traders

My happy place.... Where else can you ride your bike, walk or jog to and from on a spectacular trail?

Where else can you get your favorite iced vanilla latte in a mason jar? Where else can you run into family and friends daily, just stopping by? It's my happy place. I find joy in every stop we make there. I would say my family frequents the bean (at Homestead Market) at least 3 days a week. And that my friends, is on the low end. 

We have been going to Bean Traders for about 7 years now. Long before it was even expanded and there were only a few small tables to sit around. Long before they had quiche and luna pops... Long before the cookies and cupcakes... Did I mention they are incredible?!  The owners are spectacular and we have been able to watch their children grow up there. It reminds me of myself growing up in a Domino's Pizza store. I have babysat for their oldest and they even attended my wedding. It's so wonderful to meet locals and have our "spot" at Bean Traders. 

There are faces we see every time we are there. No one is shy and everyone talks to everyone just like family. There is a wonderful play area in the back that Riley has already become accustomed to. We have had play dates there and even attended story time with Ellen on Monday mornings. (Ok, well- we tend to miss them frequently because we are lazy...)

The weekends are the best. It's busy and full of laughter. I tend to love a crowd. Riley says "heyyyy" to everyone and everyone speaks to her. It's as if they all have had a part in raising her in some way. I just know that all of these people are wonderful. There is no judgement, no discrimination, no hate... It's the best place in Durham, if you ask me. 

I could go on and on about how wonderful it is. I look forward to Riley growing up here. I love Durham and everything about it. This is just my happy place. I love it. I hope everyone has a chance to visit Bean Traders if you are in the area. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

pregnancy reveal photo session

I have decided to just blog my latest photo shoots on this blog instead of having a second or third... it was too complicated and I enjoy having everything in one spot for now. Anyway- today, I took some very special photos for a wonderful family and great friends of ours. We had so much fun and I cannot wait to meet baby #2!!! Congratulations, guys!!!

check out my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/lesphotographyandmore

vegas baby (a quick re-cap!)

world wide rally- (my third in Vegas)
We had a blast in Vegas! Riley Quinn was a wonderful traveler!  She loved the airplane rides and made lots of friends. We only had one issue on the first flight coming home where descending hurt her ears. All three of the other flights were wonderful though. And even on the one she was hurting, the people around us were so nice. I guess it was an obvious painful cry and not a cranky cry. 
first plane ride

Sunday night when we arrived, we picked up our bags, the stroller and car seat (that we rented- she met us at our baggage claim!)- and we headed to the cab line. We waited all of 3 minutes before getting a nice cab.  Riley was so in awe that she didn't even whimper in the car seat without her dvd player. When we pulled up to the hotel, we got out and grabbed our bags. I looked and Michael and he looked at me...
"Everyone told us this was going to be hard..." We just smiled. It could likely be the easiest trip we had ever taken. Riley was happy- even though it was 7:30pm Vegas time which was way past her east coast bed time. Grandy and Ma Lolo had already checked us into our room. It was considered a "suite" but it was nothing like what we have stayed in before. I won't complain though, because it was still awesome. They did comp the crib since it was mothers' day! We got our keys, headed up, unpacked and hit the sack.
first morning in the hotel
We spent every day out by the pool in a cabana. It was wonderful. I think Riley Quinn wants Grandy to build her a cabana and hire a cabana waitress at home now too! Daddy and Grandy spent a lot of time in meetings, but they still spent a ton of time with us too. We did go shopping one morning, but we didn't stay long and made it back to the cabana by lunch. We spent the first two days pretty much in the cabanas. Wednesday, we spent pretty much the whole day in the pool. It was great to have the cabana for Riley though.
napping in the cabana- we literally stayed there every day- all day

cabana time with daddy

our hotel

new bathing suit and swimming with daddy

the water was cold when you first got in, but then it felt great

this girl LOVES the water

Monday night, Ma lolo and Grandy watched Riley so Michael and I could go see Beetles Love. It was super fun and we had a wonderful time.

On Wednesday (the day before our wedding annviersary) we were all in the pool talking and having a good time. I was completely joking when I said we should have our vows renewed by Elvis. My FIL, MIL and my mom were all for it. We were laughing and I thought nothing else of it. About thirty minutes later, Michael came over to tell me our ceremony was at 6:30. I thought he was kidding. It was 4:30 and I was in the pool!
I managed to get to the room, shower- get RQ showered and dressed and find a dress in mom's closet down the hall. We made it to the chapel with several guests (Mom. Dad. RQ. MIL. FIL. Tim. Austin and one of his GM's). It took about 5 minutes to "plan" our ceremony. It was like a whirlwind and before I knew it, Elvis was walking me down the isle, singing "Love Me Tender."
vegas vow renewel

amazing anniversary

we did it! ...again

It was so much fun. That night, we went to the Dominos Party at the pool. After the party, we went to Revolution with some friends and danced for a couple of hours. It was so much fun. Gigi and Pawpaw stayed in the room with RQ while she slept.

our hotel- the revolution night club

We got up the next morning and headed home. We got home by 7:30 and RQ was in bed by 8:00 and slept until 8:00am the next morning! She is most definitely our world traveler and we had so much fun. I cannot wait to go on our next adventure as a family of three!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

mother's day

Tomorrow is my first mother's day. Well, not really- but the first one we are really celebrating! Last year, Riley was still in my belly and although, I was still a mommy- I REALLY feel like a mommy now. I have never been happier in my life. I couldn't imagine life without my little bean. It's hard to believe that this picture was taken exactly a year ago! Look at my little Riley Quinn starting to grow in my belly!!!! We didn't even know she was a she yet!
My REAL first mother's day- 2011- 16 weeks pregnant with Riley Quinn

This year, I am getting to sleep in and Michael and Riley are going to make me breakfast in bed. I can't wait! I got my present early too! Michael and Riley are just like mommy when they have a present to give. They just can't wait to give it! I have to say, I am so very excited about this present. My hubby did good. I have loved art my entire life. I have a passion for anything "art" whether it be photography, paintings, sculptures, etc. I took many art and design classes throughout life and continue to dabble in many different medias today. For mother's day, Michael and Riley took my passion for art and created a wonderful masterpiece that I will treasure forever. My Riley Quinn used my paints and painted me a canvas.

excuse the no make-up/ "getting ready to go to bed" look

She did it all by herself! Michael even took pictures of the process to show me. He and Riley did this for me while my mommy and I went and got manicures and pedicures together. 
i love it! she's covered in paint. 

looks like she is having so much fun!

While we are on the topic of mother's day- I want to give a huge shout out to my AMAZING mother. She has raised me to be who I am today and has taught me how to be a mommy myself. Thank you, Mom. For raising me to love and treat everyone equally no matter their differences. Thank you for showing me how to love. I hope I can be half the mom to Riley that you have been to me.

P.S. I have already hung Riley's art work! I think I may frame it though! Her very first canvas piece at 6 months old! I LOVE it! 

~let go laughing!~

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not all moms are miserable...

Today, [tomorrow] I am linking up with Kelly from Kelly's Corner. A blog I have read for several years now and feel like I know her. She is a wonderful inspiration to all and I suggest to anyone to check her out. This link up is for new mom's with children under one. I think I can qualify. (As does one of my truest, dearest friends over at Autumn All Year - you should check her out too!)

1/2 birthday party announcement photo

I always wanted an October baby. I don't know why. I just did. That's where it all started. The negativity... "You can't just 'have' an October baby." "It will take you months or even years to get pregnant..." 

 I got my positive pregnancy test on February 13th, 2011. Guess what that meant... If God has this planned for me, I am having my October baby. I was thrilled. Ready to tell the world. I had never been more excited in my life. 

Well... the negativity just got worse. "You're gonna be so sick." "You better sleep now." Or the infamous "just wait!" (it still makes me cringe to hear that one...) "You'll never sleep in again." "You're going to get huge." "I used to look like you until I had kids." "She's your first, you will go at least a week past your due date." "Oh, you're gonna be pregnant in the summer!" "Oh, you will never be able to go out to eat again." "You will never have alone time with your husband again."

If my mom taught me anything in life... in which, well- she has taught me a lot. But one thing I have always stuck to is to stay positive. You have to be positive in life and you will be much happier.

I would always smile and nod at the comments. "I was a great baby" I would respond to some. "I slept through the night the first night home," I would say to others... with only negativity following. 

I had an incredible pregnancy. No morning sickness, little weight gain and little to no pain until the last week or so. Even then, it was bearable. Everyone insisted on telling me how much worse it was going to get... 

I didn't let it bring me down. I stayed positive. I didn't have the best labor and delivery per say, but we got her here. On October 24th, one day shy of her due date. Our not so little 8 lb 9.5 oz, wonderful baby girl. God gave us the most wonderful gift we had ever been given. 

5 day old, Riley Quinn

I wont say we haven't had small battles to take on (breast feeding, reflux, allergies, car seat...) But I will say we have been SO blessed. We overcame it all with positive attitudes and happiness. Our daughter was holding her head up in the hospital bed to look at me the moment she was handed to me, rolling over at 1 week old. She has slept through the night since about 4 weeks old. Even the first night home she was sleeping 4-5 hours straight at a time. We go out to eat probably twice a week if not more. We have since she was 1 week old. Nothing has changed in our life for the "bad." We go about our daily lives but instead of two of us, there are three. People at our "regular" restaurants comment on how she is the best baby they have ever had come into their restaurant. She is happy all the time. Truly- 98% of the time, our child is happy, smiling, giggling or monkeying around... If she is sleepy, she will sometimes get a bit fussy and rub her eyes to tell us it is time for a nap/bed. She puts herself to sleep at night without a single whimper. Even when she got her two bottom teeth, she was slightly "fussy" if you could have even called it that. When she is sick, you can tell she isn't "herself" but even when she had a cold she was still just as happy and smiley at everyone. Her name fits her so well. "Smiley - Riley"

"smiley - Riley"

We STILL get the negative comments. "She's good now, wait until she is a teenager." "Wait until she is teething..." I don't understand the negativity. Is it jealousy? 

Sure, everyone doesn't have it this easy. Sure, some women have horrible pregnancies, colicky babies, etc. But why tear down others who are only embarking on this wonderful journey? I like to share my positive experience with everyone and even if it weren't positive, I would wish that it were for others. I wouldn't try to make such an incredible journey such as motherhood seem anything less than amazing to ANY new mother.

I hope I can instill the same values in my daughters life as my mother has in mine. To stay positive and think positive no matter what the outcome. I pray for others who have a hard time doing that. I pray that I can continue to do so when things get tough. I pray for those who deal with jealousy and deceit on a daily basis and feel they must bring others down to better themselves.

6 months old

For anyone out there who is about to embark on this journey- hold your head up high. Don't listen to the negativity. Brush it off and think positively. Being a mother is the most incredible journey you will ever take. I couldn't imagine anything better in my life. Ever.

If you think and act in a positive manner, your baby will read you that way. I truly think that has a lot to do with it. 

~let go laughing~

letter from the wise....

Such a well written note from my brother to an unnamed person. I thought I would share, mainly for the wonderfully valid points he has written about...

…So you deleted me from your friends list on Facebook instead of sending me a message, picking up the phone and calling to discuss your problems or even sending an email? That’s not fine.  That’s not even close to being fine.  In fact, that actually negates the legitimacy of any mature conversation you and I have ever shared, friend.  Actually, scratch that.  I don’t believe you want to be my friend at all.  Of course, vicinity overrides immaturity in our quest for “closeness”, and we will again share a meal given the nature of our relationship.  Somehow, despite all of this, the disrespect and tarnishing of my name, I still love you.  It does not mean I like you.  We share a common relative by blood.  She will always be a part of both of our lives.  Until you change your bigoted opinions, I sincerely hope that the “part” you share remains insignificant, which honestly breaks my heart. 

You have a drawn a line in the sand on this day that you will inevitably spend years attempting to erase.  But don’t bother.  In fact, paint it pink for all I care.  Spend your days painting it pink, because given the level of creativity and inspiration you’ve borrowed over the last few years, I can’t imagine what else you’re going to do with your creative energy.  I don’t care.   Or erase it.  But don’t think for a moment I won’t know who you are and what you really think about me.  We will probably break bread and I will smile, you will smile.  You’ll crack open a beer and toast to “family”, but let me tell you sister, that is not what family really is.  What’s that you say?  You are entitled to your beliefs?  And if you vote for your beliefs, how can you be a bigot?  Well, friend… we are allowed our beliefs.   That’s true.  Beliefs are essential to our humanity and they make us into the people we are.  Having beliefs does not, in fact, make you a good person.  Many people before you have had beliefs and many of them have been wrong.  Many of them have been right.  Some would argue the KKK has the right to their beliefs, but we would, I assumed until yesterday, never legitimate them by inserting them into our legal system again.  They didn’t much like it when we eradicated the Jim Crow laws, but I think you’ll agree with the enlightenment of time on your side, that they were wrong. 

Oh… this infringes on your rights, does it?  When was the last time you saw me?  When was the last time you called?  When was the last time I spoke to you in person?  I don’t understand how me being allowed to do the same things you and your family do whenever you lock that door at night to protect those sweet babies of yours would impact your life in any way at all.  It might make you uncomfortable, for some reason unbeknownst to me.  Yes, the God you pray to might not like it, but he also spent a good deal of time washing the feet of sinners and loving his neighbors as much as he hated shellfish.   

So to answer the question of how me exercising my civil rights is an invasion into your livelihood?  It is not. In fact it does not harm you, or even have the effect of a light breeze.  The assertion that your beliefs have a place in our government is ridiculous.   Countless bigoted groups throughout our history have had "beliefs". Beliefs that people of different colors, sexes and genders were somehow lesser and deserved to be made to be told to feel that way.  Should that have been a legitimate argument for the legalization of segregation and discrimination against those protected classes?  No. We shouldn't have to BE protected classes.  As people of color, as women, as gay, transgender, bisexual, as Buddhist, Atheist or otherwise people different than you, we should be recognized as humans, as flawed and as beautiful and strong as you.   I find it hurtful that as a woman, you would take the time to pretend to “educate” yourself on the “issue” of my compassionate, unrelenting dedication to the legalization of simply being myself and your tiny opinion of how you think the world should look at mylife, and not take the time to recognize that people, not unlike yourself, have been oppressing women for as long as any gay person has ever been oppressed.  My brothers and sisters hid themselves and consumed their own internal guilt and sacrificed their well-beings for the satisfaction of others.  As a woman, you’ve felt this struggle first hand and were unable to hide from it.  Your sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and great aunts struggled for centuries to have the right to vote, own property, have wages equivalent to that of a man, all because your oppressors bastardized that same book you’re preaching from and said that you, woman, were unworthy of the rights and privileges that a man was. 

This will be made right one day.  Our country will find its way through this darkness in the same way that we have made strides and are still paving our way through the chains of discrimination that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of.  My question for you, sister, is which side of the line will you be standing on? When the dust settles, will you be standing in a dark shadow?  Will you be a part of our history that we look back on with shame and regret? 

I might make it hard for you to sleep at night, because I assure you- gay people, like myself will be just as gay with or without your approval and will continue to build beautiful families, provide livelihood for children and accept ourselves for the creatures we were made to be.  We will take the sanctity of marriage, under the political system, more seriously and in higher regard than even you.   We will do so because given the type of conviction required to assert ourselves into an institution that so many have fought so hard to keep us away from, we will fight our way to it tooth and nail.  You question the sanctity of marriage when within your own home, you spend countless energy, the turn of a car key and a drive across town to assert your hatred.  There is nothing sanctimonious about that. 

You are attempting to, and have briefly been successful in infiltrating the constitution for the sole purpose of your own self serving and self important disgust under the guise of religion.  This country was founded on principles of freedom.  Our constitution was constructed to protect its people, not harm them and deny certain people rights that it grants others.  This is not a country club.  This is the United States of America.  We felt so strongly about religious freedom that our founders left their homes and everything they'd ever known in order to escape the oppression of a government which denied them their rights and asserted a religion they did not believe in into their legal system.   Our founders may have carved this country with inequality and oppression, but we have spent hundreds of years overcoming our dark history and I refuse to watch it fall to the wayside.  I guess what I’m saying is thank you.  You have ignited a fire in my spirit that I didn’t know existed.  Through your petty and disrespectful actions, you have inspired hope in my heart.  Hope that countless others will feel the same way I do.  And together, we can make this world a better place for our children to live and love whomever they choose.  I’m all for teaching my children not to harm others, but unfortunately, instead of using you and your dedication to your “beliefs” as an example of good deeds, I will have to use your discriminatory message as an example of quite the opposite.  JFK famously said “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”  Is this really the contribution you hope to be remembered for?  I hope not.  What will your legacy be?

I've stood by without speaking up for far too long.

Maybe this can be an opening for real conversation between the two of us.

Why don't you call me?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

today, i am hurt

...worse than I have ever been hurt in my life. 

I am not one for politics. This will very likely be the only political blog you ever see from me...

But... to know my brother and my cousin and my friends and so many other innocent people that are no different than you and I are feeling the way they do right now. That so many North Carolinians took time out of their day, took time off work, left their children with babysitters... to take rights away from another human being. Today, I sit and cry because of fear that my daughter may one day be treated this way. That she may one day be discriminated against because of who she loves. Today, I lost friends... or so I thought they were friends. Today, I lost SO much respect for people I know and loved. Today I took a stand to draw a line. My husband, my family I will not subject my child to this type of close mindedness. Sure, she will be around it. Unfortunately... But if I have the choice not to be, I will not.

It is one thing to believe and have your own beliefs. Sure, you may believe same sex marriage is wrong and marriage is intended to be for a man and a woman and to procreate and all of that... Believe what you wish. That is your right. But to banish legal rights of others because of choices they make? Guess what? Had this stupid (yes, stupid) amendment never passed... they still would never have been able to be married.  Deuteronomy 22:13-21- A marriage shall only be considered a marriage if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed... Hmmmmm? So when are we going to put that in the constitution... Oh, wait. 

WHY was this even an issue? WHY was this nonsense even able to be voted upon. What happened to separation of church and state? How can people who voted for this stand up and say they are NOT racist or bigots? 

"Democracy" in ACTION is NOT the majority voting on the civil liberties of the minority. AND DISCRIMINATION is NOT just a "difference of opinion", being FOR INEQUALITY of another person is not an "opinion" it's a direct form of DISCRIMINATION! 

I pray (Yes, I pray.) our world will be a better place one day. At least our area here in NC is AGAINST this discrimination, and honestly, if you voted for it... I have nothing to say to you other than I hope it never affects your family. Your daughters, sons, wives or friends. No one deserves to be treated this way. No one. 

This is a direct quote from a family member of mine.

Jesus Christ was a major political activist. He ministered to people who didn't believe in Him- He didn't pass amendments against them. Actually, He saved His most scathing criticisms for those who had the most opportunities to study the scriptures. The religious leaders of His day had a laundry list of people that they deemed "less than" or worthy of public criticism because of their lifestyles. But the One in whom I believe loved them. If the only people to whom we minister are people who look like us and act like us and believe just like us then we have missed the mark and we don't know Him as well as we think we do. It is difficult to minister to people when we actively seek to alienate them. Delete me or block me if you must- but if you do continue to use our faith as a reason for this type of activity then don't be spoon fed by someone else. Read and pray. Then do it again. I think your heart will change.

This family member no longer lives in NC but still finds this disheartening. As many of my friends and family members do. Unfortunately, people are talking about leaving and moving. That will not help. That will not change. We must stay here, stay strong and make better for our future. This is just a battle in the war. We will win. If there is no equality, how is this America? 

I will end this blog soon, but this will not be the end of my fight. You will not stop hearing about this from me and if you don't like it, oh well. Bigotry is not something I stand for and by all means not something I will teach my daughter. I am sorry that so many people have shunned themselves now from her life and mine because of this choice. I just cannot justify your choice. It was not an "opinion" because "opinions" don't change other peoples lives. Again- you have the right to your opinion, but it doesn't mean it is OK or right. 

I grew up in church and I will tell you the one thing I remember the most. DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD WANT THEM TO DO TO YOU. 

So yes, I have lost friends. I am OK with that. Unfortunately, there is too much hate in this world. You cannot claim "I have a gay friend, and I love him" and then turn around and vote to take away his or her legal rights. THAT is a lie. You obviously don't know what love is. 

I am happy to say that my area and my little bubble of NC is AGAINST this amendment. I am happy to live around such wonderful people. People who care about others and have hearts. 

I will end with a letter I found from a friend. She posted this on May 8th, 2012. I couldn't have said it better to my little girl. The little girl who I love so deeply and hope to share the love with her. I hope to share with her that love is for everyone. You can love whoever you should treat everyone the same. I plan to raise her how I was raised and I am saddened that so many others were not. 

To my daughter:

Today the people of North Carolina are voting on whether or not to amend our state constitution. And it seems like the people are going to vote for it to pass. Usually when a constitution is amended it is to give more rights to people, but today it is being used as a weapon to further take rights away from people we love. And that makes me sad. There is a good chance you are going to see me cry today. And probably tomorrow, too. By the time you read this you won't remember that, which is why I want to take a minute and write to you today.

I really hope that by the time you read this there is no more Amendment One. I hope that it is a short footnote in your history books. One that is talked about with the same shame that haunts other stories of people being denied civil rights.

I can't explain to you why people act the way they do. I have no idea why people would vote to harm others. I wish I had these answers for you. I can help you not be one of those people.

Learn from the mistakes of others. Amendment One is a mistake, so let's learn from it.

There are many different types of people in the world. I'm sure you've figured this out by now. Unfortunately, to some people that is frightening. Don't let it scare you. Embrace it. This does not mean you have to get along with everyone, but please don't let differences of ethnicity, sexual orientation, or handicap ever be a reason.

Advocate. When you see someone being treated poorly for a reason you feel is unjust it is sometimes tempting to sit back and not say anything, because it isn't about you. But when people are being picked on, especially for things they cannot help, it affects us all.

Empathy. Think about how you would feel if you were in their shoes. How about if your friends were in their shoes. Speak up. Say something. Make sure bullies know that they are the ones with the problem. Sometimes adults are bullies too, they just get different names.

Love is important. Be supportive, be loyal, and be there for the ones you love. Especially when the world is weighing heavily on their shoulders. Share the load. When you have the choice between love and hate, it's usually a good bet to choose love.

But sometimes you can't love everyone. Sometimes you have to be harsh towards people who hurt your friends and family. And that is okay, too. You can love without being a doormat for the people who would hurt you.

Remember that it is never okay to choose to hurt others in the name of religion.

Don't let hate win by compromising your own beliefs. Some people have said that if we don't like Amendment One that we should just move. North Carolina is our home. I love this state and cannot let it fall victim to the hatred that seems to be lurking in the shadows. This state is beautiful, and I am not about to let the problems of other people make me run. If we all leave then hate wins.

Your generation is our hope. That is cheesy. But it's true. Younger voters are by and large far more likely to be against this amendment than older voters. Your peers will probably have the chance to make many positive changes in the world. Please let inclusion and love be among the ones that make you most proud. It will make me proud to be the generation that raised you.

Love, mommy