Childhood is a time of wonder and excitement. Your sibling is your best friend. She will reach for your hand and follow you anywhere. There is a special bond between siblings. Each day is a new adventure you will discover together. Days are spent using your imagination and playing secret games with each other. They are the only ones who know how you grew up. They share that experience with you. Thick as thieves one moment, sworn enemies the next. The friend you can't get rid of. They sometimes know you better than you know yourself. The happiest memories of your childhood include them. You are always practicing on them. Arguing, sharing, fine tuning the art of patience. Lessons learned the hard way and tough love, even at your weakest points. Your sibling. They make you the person you will become. Your forever friend.
I was so happy that this worked out and I was able to photograph this sweet family again while I was back in Buffalo. This location is a special place because mom and dad had their wedding right here. And now they are a family of four. So full of joy and happiness. The last time I saw them, that little girl was still in her momma's belly. Now she is 6 months old, smiling big gummy smiles and sitting up on her own! I am so grateful to watch all of your families grow and to capture memories like these along the way. And those baby gams. Always those baby legs and toes, I just love them!!
7 years ago, this boy made me a mother. All 5 lbs, 7 oz of him. That tiny baby turned our world upside down and changed us forever, in the best way. Because of him, our hearts grew larger, patience stronger, and laughter more abundant. He is strong and loving, kind and fiercely protective. I am so proud of how well he has transitioned from a comfortable life in Buffalo, NY that he knew well, to a brand new one in Orlando, FL. He has adjusted to a new place, new schedule, new way of learning, and has made some great friends along the way.
It always amazes me just how much changes in the course of a year. He has been more shy than I have ever seen him. I suppose at this age, he's also learning that he can be vulnerable. He thinks armpit farts and chickens are hilarious. He is learning by himself that most superheroes are not real, but he still loves them. I feel I have a short amount of time remaining for him to want to watch cartoon movies with me, and snuggle while we watch. We are now reading books together, rather than me reading to him. He still asks for extra hugs at bed time, which I will cherish for as long as he continues to ask.
Most days, he is dressed in a superhero costume. If not a costume, it's mesh shorts and a superhero t-shirt. I had to make him change his two sizes too small Flash shirt for this photo. He immediately ripped it off, Hulk style. He loves adventure and all animals. He can talk for an entire car ride, asking question after question, but has started to read books on long drives. He loves playing hockey, soccer, and swimming. Most of all, he loves his family. He is beast of a boy with an even bigger heart. We are so proud of the person he is becoming.
Happy 7th Birthday, Bubba!
I was so excited to catch up with this sweet family while they were on their vacation at Disney World. The tiny newborn that I photographed 3 years ago, in Buffalo, is now running around and telling me stories about his adventures in Orlando! No longer a baby, he has become such an animated little boy. Both of these little guys had so much fun visiting all the theme parks and making sandcastles, daily, at the resort beach. What a nice break from the snowy winter they have had in The 'B'. The Grand Floridian is so beautiful, there is so much to do, and really, the place makes you never want to leave. They call Disney the happiest place on earth. This extends even to the Disney hotels. Coming from Buffalo, my kids were confused why we won't stay at Disney World for a week like all their friends did when they traveled down here. They think you sleep at Disney World and were not impressed that we could conveniently drive back to our house from the park. The Grand Floridian was pretty impressive. Everyone was so nice and the place was buzzing with happy families well into the evening. When I got into my car, it made me realize I was not actually on vacation. But driving home, sun setting and sandy toes, I realized we do kind of live in paradise. Although I deeply miss our friends and family in Buffalo, we are fortunate that so many come to the Orlando area for family vacations!
There is something about the last few minutes before bed or a nap. This little one is so snuggly. She will back peddle, scootch right into my lap, and look up at me. She lays her head back for a moment and sniffs her blanket. I know she is beyond tired, but these precious few minutes are so sweet that I allow her to linger. Perhaps, it is her way of procrastinating, but it reminds me of when she was a tiny baby and wanted to be held all the time. I notice her wanting to do everything on her own now and it is these quiet moments that I don't ever want to forget.
Pinky is her comfort when she is tired. All three of our children have a blanket they use when they sleep. Our oldest has a scrap of his, but after 6 years, he still sleeps with it. The many nights, naps, and trips out when they were too tired or sick to leave their beloved blankies at home. I know this sole pink blanket will be ripped and shredded very soon. Replacements will be ordered. Pinky has gotten us through the last days of nursing, fevers and teething, and sleeping on trips away from home. It smells just like her.
It is so hard to believe that 18 months have passed since she was born. Days are not perfect. There are tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. But, she turns it on before bed. She scampers out from the bathtub and lies right on the floor, ready to be dressed in her jammies. I know she is exhausted. It's tough keeping up with two older brothers all day. I pick her up and she leans her little head against mine and pats my shoulder with her tiny hand. It melts my heart. I lay her down in her crib. She snuggles up with Pinky and gives me a very enthusiastic "Bye-Bye".
Maybe it's because I know this is our last baby, I am hanging on to every single memory. I keep trying to etch these moments into my brain or write about it so I don't forget these sweet memories. Maybe I'm just getting older and it's hard to remember anything! As they grow, we also grow as parents. We become more observant, more patient. I am learning to find comfort in the tender moments, amidst the chaos of the day, and know that although it seems they are growing much too quickly, we are all growing together.
Photographed on film.
I remember 8th grade being such a unique and transforming year. The feeling that the end is near, but to believe that end is a new beginning, is hard to fathom. It's a huge step moving from middle school to high school. There is the physical transition to a new school and all of the emotions that follow. Friends moving to different schools. Feeling sad to move in a different direction. Excited for the new relationships this journey will bring. Learning more about subjects you never thought you'd care about and learning so much about yourself along the way. It's a beautiful and emotional time. These young people, our daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren...they will all go through it. My children may not be at this age yet, but it is coming all too quickly.
I remember thinking no one could understand. Being an adult now, I know that I really can't understand. Things are very different for every generation. Sure, some of the struggles will always be the same but I know it was sometimes hard for me and some days may be the same for them. Growing up and knowing it. It's a wonderfully fun and incredibly scary thing. I may not always understand, but I can listen. My hope for every young person is that they know they are smart, kind and brave. I hope that we give them the tools and confidence that they will use to succeed. They may be fearless or fearful, but they are the future. They are our future. I truly believe that they will be better, for they have to be. They are ours.
So this is happening. In a few short days. Wow!! It will be all green and sunshine and no snow. What will we do with ourselves?! I think we've packed in as much as we could these last couple of weeks. Lots of visiting with friends and family, eating out at all of our favorite restaurants, and spending time in this little house we bought 4 years ago, never planning to live in it for long, and it has become our greatest sense of the word "home". Even with it's age, never really converting it from a double to a single family residence, and all of the many flaws that have driven me crazy, we will all miss this home of ours. Yes, we will be back for summer but it will still be different, secluded to the upper apartment. I believe that Tommy will remember this place. All of the many "battles" he and Joey have had dressed as super heroes, snuggling up in our bed, playing bubble hockey in the basement, begging to cross the street to play with the "Baloney boys". I really hope Joey remembers, this is the only place he has ever lived. Mini stick hockey is played daily and he sets up all his Starting Lineup hockey guys on "the ice", which varies between our living room floor and the hallway. He uses the Dustbuster as a Zamboni to clean the ice. It is so cute! Tess will have many photographs to remember her first home. I feel change is much harder for me after I've had children. I'm continuously second guessing every decision and wondering if it's right for us as a family, for them. As Tommy keeps telling me he's "already 6 and a half", I can't help but believe that these days we are living - yesterday, today, tomorrow, these will be the good old days. The times when the kids need us, they still think we are cool and they want to hang out with us. These are the times we will look back on and think, "remember when." I find myself reflecting on how big the kids have gotten. When did they grow up? I feel this is magnified as I'm packing up our things and deciding, sometimes gleeful and sometimes with a heavy heart, what we will bring with us and what will be donated or thrown in the trash. As 2017 comes to a close, new beginnings occur for everyone. It's hard to say goodbye to this life we have built in Buffalo, but our new beginning will be to a place where we have family and friends, a place that is familiar and a place that is warm and sunny! 2018 we are (almost) ready!!!
And here are some film scans from the last time we were in Orlando. P was her usual, cooperative self. One day, we will look back on these and laugh! Thanks, Dad, for making me get in a couple photos to calm her down. Don't mind my greasy top knot. Although who am I kidding? That is how I usually roll!
I got the film scans back from Mary's maternity session and I am obsessed! Oh, how much I love these!! I am so happy we decided to do this, even though it was cold and overcast. Mary, you look stunning. Molly and Fran are so adorable. Film is amazing and is somehow always worth the wait. I'm so excited to meet this baby girl! I really hope she arrives before we move!!!
New beginnings are often bittersweet. As I am writing, I'm feeling so many different emotions. My husband recently accepted a new role at his company and we will be moving to Orlando, FL. We are sad to leave Buffalo, but excited about this next chapter. We will be moving in January!
Thank you for all of your support over these last few years. I cherish every friendship, and have loved watching all of your families grow. I plan to travel back to Buffalo for the weddings I have booked in 2018. We are also planning to spend summers in Buffalo. Once I have those dates, I will post them if anyone is interested in a summer photo session! I keep telling myself we will be like snowbirds, basically only missing winter!!
We are lucky to be moving to a place that we are familiar with. We lived in Orlando 5 years ago, before moving to Buffalo. We will be returning to the neighborhood where we used to live and are excited to be closer to my family in Florida and all of our Florida friends. Tommy is worried about missing his friends and meeting new ones which breaks my heart, but he's an outgoing kid so I think he will do just fine. Joey is excited about the move because he wants to go swimming, so there's that. Tess is along for the ride, and it will be a long plane ride with her. We are pretty pumped to be able to come back to Buffalo for summers, because it's definitely one of the coolest places to live, especially during the summer! Most people will never understand that until they live here, but after five years, I've grown very attached to this place and our neighborhood. Even as I look out my window and see 18" of snow on the ground, I love it here. The people in Buffalo are just the best! Hopefully, we will have lots of winter friends trying to escape the cold and snow that will want to come and visit!!
On another note, I got the film back from our last trip to Florida. I shot a roll of the three of them playing, wrestling, laughing...just a day in the life. That little Peanut is not one to be left out, so she's always right there in the thick of it.
Since film is light hungry, it seems sunny Florida will be a good place to continue learning this medium!
What's the best early Christmas gift?! How about a new puppy!!!
It's always so nice to see friends when we visit Orlando. Aren't these dapper little guys the cutest?! This was their first day with their brand new, blue-eyed puppy!! I'm so glad we were able to sneak in a few holiday pics...and this adorable little pup with that brown patch over his eye, kind of makes me want to get a dog! Kind of. Maybe after our littlest animal, I mean toddler, is potty trained.