Sunday, January 15, 2012

OpLove {Homecoming}

Friday evening brought more families back together again!

 This sweet little 4 month-old was such a little trooper waiting for his Daddy to come home from Afghanistan. He played, got a little nap in, and simply just looked adorable in his little Army outfit. How cute is this onsie with the little boots? I love it!
 As always with homecomings, I loved seeing all the faces light up with big smiles when they get that first glance of their Soldier in formation! {Below: middle row, far right}

A huge "Welcome Home" and even bigger "Thank you!" to all the Soldiers who came home this Friday. To this family especially, I am glad I was able to be there for you to capture this wonderful day.
OpLove Disclaimer:
 "The photos and other content of this publication do not constitute or imply any endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Defense."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

For the Birds....{lazy day project}

One of my New Years Resolutions is to stop, breathe, & truly relax with my hubby on Sundays. No checking e-mail, no editing photos, no placing client orders...basically, undo the 24-7 work habit I got into while my hubby was deployed. {how'd I do today? I made it until 3 PM before I checked e-mails and wrote back; I give myself points for trying.}

Another goal is to take a short break every week and do some sort of little project just for the sheer enjoyment of doing something. I have tons of magazine pages torn out & websites flagged with simple little ideas, and it's about time I started doing them!

Today I got started on both; we slept in, then enjoyed some yummy omelets together while watching a show a recorded. Then it was outside we went to enjoy the warm weather while it's here....a nice long walk with our crazy dog, followed by chasing her after our playtime in the park turned into her getting "adventurous." This afternoon, while my hubby relaxed with some NFL games I checked off my first little project - hanging birdseed-covered pine cones on a tree out back; partially to help out the birds, but I'll admit I also hope our cat enjoys watching his feathered friends while he sunbathes on our screened- in porch.

Need a little rainy day project? Gather some pine cones on your next walk and let them dry out. Attach some cording (strong enough to hold up to the elements), slather on some cheapy peanut butter (bonus points if you use a Tigger cheese knife), and then sprinkle on some bird seed. Hang them at varying levels from a tree...keeping in mind to hang them far enough out of reach from predators so that the birds can feast without fear :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The past two weeks have been so wonderful getting to celebrate Christmas with my Hubby home safe & sound. I am incredibly blessed that my soldier has returned from Iraq 3 times now, without so much as a scratch. I will never stop thanking my lucky stars for that, nor will I ever forget the sacrifices so many others have made...

As part of OpLove I have had the honor of photographing other families together; this time I got to turn the lens on my own family. And I am incredibly grateful that they had their cameras as well so that when the time came I could drop my camera and run to my Soldier...those hugs & kisses were much needed in deed!

Above is the plane carrying my soldier coming in for the landing. As soon as those wheels touched the ground the crowd broke out into a huge cheer. Moments like that you will never forget....the breath you've been holding for the entire deployment just finally lets go, and for the first time you can allow yourself to believe your Soldier is really there...and that you'll soon be reunited.

Below is one of my favorite captures from the homecoming....after I got my hugs & kisses in I was able to grab my camera in time to catch my Soldier getting a welcome home hug from his Uncle, who happens to be a retired Army Veteran himself. Knowing the bond that they share is more than just one of a typical Uncle & Nephew makes this photo priceless to me. It is one I will always cherish.

Below are the moments after the plane landed, when we all stood patiently as the Soldiers exited the plane and got into formation. The Patriot Guard  was there to line the walk they would pass through as they entered the hangar for the ceremony.

Families arrived about an hour or so before the plane landed, and we were all glad to see that Santa himself was there to make sure our special deliveries arrived on time. I think the kiddos especially loved the little treats he handed out...helped make the time tick by a little quicker before all the Mommys and Daddys finally arrived!  Below that is my Mom & Dad with the welcome home signs they each made for my hubby. My Dad wanted to make a sign that he knew would stick out in the crowd; one Mike would see and know for sure it was meant just for as only a true Mountaineer fan would want to see, Mike was greeted with the traditional WVU anti-Pitt slogan. Priceless.
These memories below were all captured by our awesome cousin, Melody, who was part of the crowd there to honor Mike. This is the first homecoming where we've lived close enough to family that some of them were able to get here on such last-minute notice to help celebrate the homecoming. It meant the world to us to get to share that moment ... and I'm so thankful for having these memories to share with our friends and family.

It goes without saying that hopefully we will never have to face another deployment again, but knowing that we have such amazing friends & family to help us through those long months apart makes is bearable. We are truly blessed....

To all the Men & Women who are serving our Country - Thank You for all you do, and I wish all of you Safe & Joyous Homecomings. XOXO

Baking with Busia {Holiday Traditions}

One of my favorite traditions from childhood was spending a day in the kitchen making homemade Pierogi with my Dad. We always kicked off the Holiday Season by destroying the kitchen and getting in trouble with my Mom for the amount of flour we'd inevitably get everywhere. This was always done the day after Thanksgiving, and we'd top the day off with me begging to get out all the Christmas decorations and have them all up that night ... I was never one for patience....

This year was the first time in several that I was able to make Pierogi with my Mom & Dad; we made them here in NC the day before my surgery...and yes, soon after I was begging for help to get all of my decorations out. 32 years and nothing changes...I don't know how my parents put up with me.

But as special as it was for me to once again share that tradition with my family, I was even more excited to be able to be in NJ visiting my parents at the same time my brother and his family were there. Not only did I get to soak up some much needed snuggle-time with my two adorable nieces, but I got to capture my oldest niece's first time baking Pierogi with her Busia! (that's our word for Grandma) These are the moments you remember about childhood, but often don't have photographs of; I hope someday years from now J will find these memories in an album and just get a huge smile on her face...

 Pajamas, new toys, and snuggles from your Busia & PopPop....perfect childhood mornings! That's miss J playing with PopPop, and below is the First Birthday gal, miss C, getting some snuggles from her Busia.

My parents have this carousel that plays Christmas music, and since she was a baby miss J has always been enthralled with it. I am so glad I happened to have my camera nearby to catch her once again watching the animals go 'round and 'round...this is one of those memories that I know my Mom & Dad will always cherish of her. Whenever she comes to visit them, she goes straight to the carousel....they can't put it away after the Holidays anymore or they'll be in trouble!