Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2.0

This year Thanksgiving {Day} was different than any other Thanksgiving we have had in the past & different isn't always bad. In fact, this Thanksgiving was pretty perfect. And before I go into great detail about our day and who we spent it with, just know that this year it just worked out this way, we ended up not being with our family but yet we were still with our "family".

I'll explain. For what seems like forever, but really is more like 8 years, we have been lucky to call Justin and Tugce our family. From JG's and I's days in the call center we have been close & that friendship grew & grew to where they spent our wedding week with us at the beach & most big holidays with us. Before kids we would go out to dinner, games or whatever it may have been and then it happened--JG got a promotion at work which was moving him and his wife to Wisconsin. We were so incredible sad to see them go but we knew this was the best thing for them and for their future family.

Over the past 4 years we have jumped on a plane a couple times a year & visited them up North, even making the 8 hour drive last year with both boys. & each year they try to make it down to KC too but since we haven't lived in our new house for all that long, we didn't have space for them to stay with us, so they stayed with other friends and family but not this time! I was not letting them stay any place else--I needed my Garrett fix!

They arrived late on Sunday night & the boys were so excited to see them pull into the drive, as was I.  But after everyone settled in & after some very LONG and overdue hugs, I broke the news that it was bedtime and we had a number of unhappy campers on our hands. Little did they know that they get to play with GG and JuJu for the next 5 days!

I didn't have any extra time off but that was okay, they had lots of people to see while they were in town and then we all met up again at dinner time. Each night some of their friends and family would stop by and say hello & it was so neat to watch all the love that poured through our doors. We celebrated Chanukah for the first three of the eight nights & played the game dreidel a couple of times too. It meant a lot to Justin and I that we got to show our kids about another religion & to let them see that even though we may all believe in something different or believe that it all played out differently, it didn't change who that person was or how much we loved them. And yes, I know the boys don't get all that but it doesn't make it any less important and I am sure we could all learn something from their innocence too.

On Thanksgiving we hosted dinner--Justin was the main chef and Tugce and I were his prep cooks while JG ventured all over the greater Kansas City area looking for wine and liquor--two very crucial menu items. Since we had already celebrated with Justin's family at the end of October and would be going to my mom and dad's the following weekend, we had JG invite his family over to join us.

It was such a wonderful evening and perfect in every. single. way.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Announcement.

& I know what you are thinking---No, we aren't pregnant but it does have to do with family, my family---more importantly, these three.

& although this decision has been a very difficult one, it also has been one of the EASIEST decisions that I have ever made. That we have made. And that is because I KNOW I am doing the RIGHT thing for me, my husband & those two beautiful little boys.

These two boys have been our everything for the last 4+ years. They have been the reason for so many decisions that we made. They were the reason behind why Oliver Beckett Photography was created. & for the last couple of years Oliver Beckett Photography has been such a BIG part of my life. It has been a creative outlet for me & I have learned so much about myself through the art of photography. I have met so many wonderful families, captured so many wonderful moments and milestones along this journey. I mean, it basically started from a friend asking me to take a few pics of their little one and from there it grew to one shoot every other week to now being around 4 shoots every weekend. I look back over the last couple of years and I am just so amazed by the LOVE & SUPPORT that family, friends & clients have given. There has been so much encouragement from those same people & from dear friends who are also photographers. I have seen my images hung in homes, used as birth announcements, Christmas cards and so forth. There are no words to describe what Oliver Beckett Photography means to me & I can't thank those who stood by, encouraged & entrusted me with their family photos, enough.

& that is what makes this so hard--the last couple of weeks I have done a lot of soul-searching & have decided that changes need to be made. I can't do it all. As much as I would love to be able to say that I do or put on a show that I can, I can't. I am not the type of person to give less than 100% to whatever task or job is in front of me but that is exactly what is happening right now. I am a WIFE, a MOTHER, I work full-time (travel 25-35% of the time) & a photographer. Life is busy. I work during the weekday, come home to my family, edit for a few hours after the boys go to bed and then do photo shoots on the weekends. Sure we still do dinner out as a family, we attend birthday parties, I was able to pull together cute Halloween costumes BUT there have been a lot of things that I haven't done. I didn't take my boys to a pumpkin patch this year. We didn't make Halloween cookies. We didn't take walks around the lake as often as we should have or even visited the zoo. Most importantly, I haven't gotten my camera out and captured my own boys since Halloween and before that it was our lake vacation. I haven't blogged about OUR life like I use to & I miss it. So I am not going to allow it to happen any longer. & that is the part that makes this decision so EASY to make.

Oliver Beckett Photography will be closing its doors--so to speak. I will not be taking on any additional clients and sessions going forward. I will still honor all those who are currently on the books & those who are already enrolled in my Watch Me Grow package. I will still probably post pictures from time to time on the Oliver Beckett Facebook page---I mean I do have cute boys, my friends have cute kids and I have some pretty adorable nieces and nephews & I am going to have to get my fix some how--keep the passion alive. Ideally, I'll do a shoot here and there, maybe throw in a mini-session in October or something but all on my own watch. All on my own time.

I don't want to miss my kids growing up. I want to give them 110% of me, as often as I can. I want to be able to pick up and take off for a weekend trip to the lake spur of the moment. I want to wake up this summer and tell my boys that we have NOTHING going on and we can do whatever they want to do for the day. I want my husband to enjoy BBQ competitions, to go to Royals games. I want to sit at home on a weeknight on our patio with my husband while we watch reruns of Modern Family without having to edit away. I want my FAMILY. I need my family. & I know this is the BEST thing I can do for myself and for my boys--all three of them.

So yes, this was a very hard decision but as you can see, the EASIEST ONE I have ever made. Thank you to all those who I have already spoke with about this & for all your kind words of encouragement and support. You will never know how much everything, EVERYTHING, you have said has meant to me.

Lastly, these last few years, Oliver Beckett Photography couldn't have existed without my husband. He has been my biggest supporter, my biggest advocate & really has been the backbone to our family. Babe, if you read this, thank you. Your love for me and our family has meant the world.

So tonight, as I write this, I don't have a frown on my face, in fact I am smiling ear to ear as I think about all the adventures our little family will be having in 2014!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Letter.

I wasn't sure whether or not I should post this letter on here but then again, this blog is for me. For the boys. Its a way to remember those special moments or those every day kind of moments & this is certainly one of those special moments we NEED to remember.

We have made the decision not to send Kaden to Kindergarten next year. His birthday is August 31st which is one day before the cutoff, so technically, he could go if we wanted him too but we don't. We think another year to mature a little more will make a world of difference & we would much rather him be the oldest in the class than one of the youngest. I also know that each child, boy or girl, is different. Some boys that are born on the same day as Kaden may be going to school and that is perfectly fine. We just believe that this is the best thing for Kaden. & since we were going to wait another year, we figured that we wouldn't start the REAL pre-school until Kaden turned 5. Our dear Ms. Brenda has her own curriculum & her goal is always to have her boys and girls ready to enter Kindergarten by the time they go. It amazes me the things that Kaden (and Logan) know & its not because I sit at home with flashcards and beat them over the head with these concepts. Its all Ms. Brenda.

In the last month we have noticed a few changes in Kaden's behavior that got us all to thinking---maybe a couple of days of pre-school a week might be a good thing for Kaden (and Logan too). Kaden is now the oldest at daycare, by at least a year & a half and where the little ones will sit and play on their own and be perfectly content, Kaden likes to have someone to play with him. & frankly, we think he needs to be around more kids his own age & learn what is really expected of him in a larger group & in a school atmosphere. Academically, he could probably go to Kindergarden tomorrow and be just fine but socially, he isn't quiet ready so come next Friday he is off to pre-school. (I am sure I will cry dropping him off!) We actually got to visit his "new" school last week and he hasn't stopped talking about it since. He is so excited that he gets to go to school where Grammy teaches! Fingers crossed drop off goes well.

But back to the letter, we got this letter from Ms. Brenda last Friday (Nov. 1st) afternoon…

Kayla & Justin-

I just want to take a minute to first off give Kaden some well deserved praise, secondly let you know where he is academically. Kaden is doing an amzing job with his learning activities. I believe he is above scale when it comes to printing his name, letters and numbers. Very impressive! He has mastered (with ease I might add) using/holding scissors correctly, his pencil and crayons. That task has been known to be a bit of a challenge, not for Kaden though. He has conquered matching, same and different, shapes and colors. Now making great strides with patterns and rhyming. We will continue to learn rhyming and patterning for his math and reading skills. I will be adding opposites in the next week. He will also continue to practice his printing skills with numbers and letters and have some fun learning to draw with shapes. 

I am so very proud of Kaden!! He is a smart, kind, loving, well mannered little boy and he has achieved so much in such a short time. Great job, Kaden!!

I know he will be starting pre-school soon and I am here to do anything I can do to support all of you with this transition, and to support Kaden in his continuous growth and love for learning.

If I haven't said so lately please let me say it now, its been a pure joy to love and teach your boys! I am so grateful you have given me the opportunity to be part of their lives. True Blessings!

Thank you!! 

Love, Brenda

As one would imagine, tears flooded my eyes as I read this. Not only am I so proud of Kaden but to have found someone who cares as much as Brenda does for our boys is the best feeling. I am sitting here typing this & counting down the house until I have to catch a flight to DC & although I will miss my boys dearly, I am not worried one bit about their safety or care while I am gone. Ms. Brenda is the reason that both Justin and I can work outside the home & she has been (not to steal her words) a true blessing for our family.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thats the Last Time I Do THAT

You live and you learn & boy did I learn something this Halloween.

Our boys really could care less about what their costumes look like. They were perfectly content just being able to dress up, whatever it may be, and chase each other around the house. So I am done with spending lots of extra time and effort on costumes and next year, they can just pick out whatever they want or wear one of the 10 costumes I purchased in the days following Halloween.

But lets go back to the beginning, the part where I had this glorious idea of being SUPERMOM & creating these OH-SO-CUTE-I-WANT-TO-PINCH-THEIR-CHEEKS-COSTUMES.

After Kaden's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday party I just assumed that he would want to be Raphael, after all that is his favorite turtle and he LOVES the color red. Not to mention, we had the costume already. All I had to do was worry about Logan's costume. But then I saw the cutest Facebook profile picture of a client's little man as Mr. Fredrickson from UP & it was over--I got sucked in. As soon as I saw that picture I remembered that I had posted another image on Pinterest earlier in the year and so I Pinterested (yes that's a word) again looking for other versions of Mr. Fredrickson, I found Russell. Which of course meant that it was all meant to be because the boys love the movie, UP, & they could go as a duo. Sure it wasn't Batman and Robin or Leo & Raph but it was a Duo & one I just had to try and pull off.

Over the coming weeks I scoured website after website, made trip after trip to Home Depot and to Hobby Lobby. As each piece of clothing or prop arrived, I sat it aside and watched as my dining room table ceased to exist. It was crazy-I admit it. But I was still super excited about the whole idea. Even more exciting was that Kaden was totally okay with being Russell, he talked about it and was totally on board when I suggested the idea---plus I told him that Daddy was a boy scout when he was little and he would get to wear his old sash as part of his costume.

That was until we weren't able to find it. Grammy Janet found his scarves & a few hats but NO SASH. The sash is what MAKES the costume. Its where the Grape Soda Pop pin is placed. It has all the scout badges on it. We had to find it or at least ONE.

& I did, for around $50 and then I had to spending an additional $20 for shipping & that's when I decided, Kaden didn't know the difference, only I would (and all of you now) but it wasn't worth the money for a mere 3 hours.

In the end it all worked out great. Justin helped me build Logan a cane from PVC piping and spray painted it silver before adding the tennis balls to the bottoms of each leg. We bought a super cheap back pack and poked holes in it to hold all the camping supplies a Wilderness Explorer would need. I cut out the Wilderness Explorer emblem and placed it on a hat, his shirt and a flag. We found the perfect velvet coat with corduroy pants for Logan & found the exact Grape Soda Pop pin that both Logan and Kaden wore. And even though Kaden didn't get to wear his dad's sash, he wore his dad's scarf/handkerchief which in the end, worked perfectly. The finishing touches were a few balloons attached to each boy. Costumes complete. My favorite part of the costumes though, were the drawn on glasses that Logan sported. I think we can all agree that the kid looked ridiculously cute.

They both looked cute & I was super stoked with how it all turned out. They even humored me with a quick photoshoot prior to Trick-or-Treating (later I realized that I forgot my memory card in my camera but luckily snapped a few with my phone too).

It was then off to the show, so to speak--We have a nice little quiet neighborhood, not too many houses, not too few of houses, just perfect. We sat off and started at the other end of the neighborhood to work our way back to our street, leaving our immediate neighbors for last. At each house Kaden would run up and knock, Logan would quietly follow and with a big, proud voice Kaden would say,


followed by a much quieter "Twik-or-Tweet" from Logan.

The houses without kids really didn't know who they were but that was okay, Kaden told them exactly who they were.

"I'm Russell and Logan is Captain, I mean, Mr. Fredrickson. We're from the movie UP."

Smiles instantly spread across the homeowners and my faces. How did my lil' man get to be so big? They each opened up their candy bags and watched as each person dropped a few pieces into their bag. Before turning and heading onto the next house Kaden thanked them & wished them a Happy Halloween. The boys were on a roll and were doing good until we ran into a little dog that came running outside to great the boys and for some reason, Kaden freaked. He was done. He was over it. We decided to make our way back to our house but as we got closer and he saw more kids heading out, he kind of got a second wind but refused to put on his backpack and balloons though. & it wasn't worth the fight to get him to wear them so I just decide not to even go there. & you know, I think they enjoyed handing out candy as much as they did receiving it, which was fine by me.

All in all, it was a good Halloween. Sucked that I didn't have my memory card but that didn't stop me from making them dress up again and going back out for another shoot. & this time we had Grandma Sara there to help. Plus I may have promised a trip to Walmart & while there, we hit the jackpot on discounted costumes. We picked up a cow, a batman mask and a transformer. A few days later while at Target I saw 70% off and picked up a dinosaur, Mike & Sully, a cowboy, two planes, and a ninja. The cowboy hat hasn't left Kaden's head and plus, who said dress-up was only for girls.

And even though I immensely enjoyed creating the boys' costumes this year and they were sooooo flipping adorable, I know we don't have to go to all that trouble to make the boys' happy or to show them how much we love them. They don't judge my love on how much effort I put into a costume and neither should I. They smiled just as much, if not more, as they ran around the house in a green dinosaur and a cowboy hat accompanied by only underwear. So next year, I'll let them pick out their costumes (as long as they are fully clothed) & I'll sit back and watch as they climb higher and higher on the good ole' Halloween sugar high.