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My nephew, Ryder Lee, had a spinal surgery on Thursday. He isn’t even three yet and has proven to his whole world just how strong and resilient he is. Ry is definitely a hero of mine. He, of course, isn’t the only one. Zack is a pillar of strength for my sister and nephew. I am so proud to call him a brother. Rach is so calm and comforting for her little boy. The way she is with him is beautiful.

My whole family constantly astonishes me with their courage, strength, and perseverance. I love each of them deeply and it brings me so much happiness when others comment on our closeness. It has been an exciting journey to watch our family grow as we dated, married, and had children. With each new brother-in-law that joined, we inherited their families as well. I was reminded on Thursday and Friday of how blessed we are that we all have this huge “adopted” family that keeps supporting each other through all that comes our way.

Ryder has had so many people in his life who have helped him progress to where he is today. A lot of them, he may never know. Nurses. Doctors. Friends. Family. I have thought of them a lot over the past few days. I have been overwhelmed by the many people who have sent well wishes and said prayers. They mean so much to my sister, my brother-in-law, and to the rest of us who love Ryder so very much. I hope you all continue to do so in the coming years as Ry has more surgeries grows into an even stronger young man.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Will and I took a trip to the YMCA Trout Lodge near Potosi, MO two weeks ago. We were arriving in celebration of Will’s parents’ anniversary. It was just what we needed. We were able to see his wonderful family and disconnect from our everyday lives for a couple days. It was beautiful at this lodge!

The first day was spent just enjoying the family and focusing on what is most important. The next day was spent saying goodbyes and then exploring a little with our cameras before going back to Nashville. It was the first time in quite a while that I picked up my film camera. It was the first time that I really worked hard at learning how to use it. I used some “play” film I bought at Urban Outfitters and a light meter to try things out. I also wrote the camera settings I used for each photograph I took. [The main goal with this roll was exposure. I wanted to focus on learning that because I already knew this camera had its issues. This was my dad's camera for many, many years (He loves photography, too!). He gave it to me as a Christmas gift two years ago. While it is my only camera right now and a prized possession, there is something wrong with the focus. Yes, I realize that it is all manual but my Dad and I have both noticed something off about it. Also, there are light leaks. Anyway, I say all this to acknowledge the fact that some of these photographs are just not focused right. However, they still make me so happy when I look at them. This is what I have to look back on from our trip. Focused or not, they are special. :)]

Will was there to help me a bit. He is so patient and has been great about answering even the silliest questions I have.

We spent about an hour at the lodge and then started making our way toward TN.

I didn’t finish the whole roll. I’ll be honest, I don’t like wasting exposures just to finish a roll. I want to really work on my skill (I totally said that in a Napoleon Dynamite voice.) and taking no-good photos just to be done with a roll seems silly to me. Anyway, I waited to use up the rest of the film until a trip out to a lake area near our apartment a few days later. It was rainy and everything seemed to have a fog to it.

I felt completely at peace. I realized that afternoon that I didn’t have to drive hours away to get the same feeling I had at that lodge. I could rest at home, too. :) 

Today would have been my mother’s 54th birthday. My family, spread throughout the country, released balloons in celebration of her life. Below are some photos from my release.

 

While shopping, one balloon stuck out among the many “birthday” others. It screamed Carmen. I know she would have picked this one out herself. I could fill up pages about her struggles, her triumphs, and all the memories I shared with her. I love her so very much. While I selfishly wish I could still have her here, I am so thankful I had her for 16 years of my life.

Starting in November, people pick up the pace. They rush around preparing for the holidays not realizing that they are also rushing into the next year. It seems that most don’t give thought to much outside of the holidays until after they are watching them end. Then the review of the last year starts. This is not so for me. Instead, the holidays bring about a whole season of reflection, thought, and gratefulness. Life has been hectic and unpredictable since we moved to Joplin in January. This year has brought almost constant transition and has changed both Will’s and my life. We have made so very many friends and have started patching up last year’s wounds. Things are looking up and our hearts are so full. I have never been so excited for the things to come. I have never had better friends. I have never been more in love. I never understood true happiness…

… but I am sure I do now.

(waves)

Hey, it’s me again. I missed you. :)

I thought you guys would like to know that I am going to attempt regular posts yet again here. This time, it won’t just be photo posting. It will be mixed with fun stuff: some things you want to see here and some things that I want to share with you. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea and want to do it.

Here are some of the ideas floating around in my head:

- Playlist of the day: I listen to music all of the time. And I mean, every single moment that can be is music-filled. So, I feel it is something that would be fun to share with you all. This won’t necessarily be a daily post, just what I have listened to on random days. :)

- What I am eating: As most of you are aware, I have recently adopted a completely different way of eating. I am transitioning to what I hope will be a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Nutrition and proper healthy living is something I have grown very passionate about. I would love to include you in on the journey! I will post photos of daily meals and share recipes for my favorite foods and meals. Most will be gluten free or vegetarian, which I am excited about. I’ll also be juicing a lot so I will share my favorite juices with you!

- Weekly funnies: I used to call cartoons funnies. I got that from my grandpa (I think). I don’t really read Sunday cartoons anymore, but my life is filled with moments that I feel could sometimes make the cut for the weekly strips in the paper. I thought it would be a great way to document the funny stories I want to remember. Plus, you all can get a laugh out of it as well. ;) Maybe I will eventually even have (horribly penciled) drawings to go along with them!

- Photos: Duh. ;-) This will be photos from trips, daily life, sessions and shoots, home projects, self portraits, and prompts that I choose or you suggest.

- Possible features: I go back and forth about this. I like the idea of featuring people who I truly admire and people who I love. You know, people I think are incredible. ;) However, I don’t want people to think I will feature someone because they give me an incentive. While I think it is great that other blogs to do that… this is a personal blog. If I happen to buy something that I love, you’d better believe I will tell you all about it! Why would I have people send me free stuff so I can write about them? It just doesn’t seem right unless it is a gift just because we are friends. :)

(For those of you who receive goodies from people and feature them, no judgement will be found here. Do what you want. I was just speaking in terms of my personal space here.)

- Quotes: I love quotes. I had a 3″ 3-ring binder full of quotes in high school, sitting beside my two 4″ binders full of notes from my friends over the years. I am a sentimental gal, what can I say? (<—- future hoarder?) Anyway, because I spent so much of my childhood buried in books, I learned to appreciate the meaning (and people) behind those precious excerpts. I would like to dust off that binder [Yes, I still have it (<----- h o a r d e r).] and find neat ways to bring those quotes to this place.

- History lessons: No, I am not going to inform you about facts about wars and politics. This would just be little stories about me growing up, things I learned along the way, people I met who impacted my life, and other stuff.

- Writing assignments: I started reading and writing at 3. It stuck. This will be a periodic post that would consist of past writings, reviews of books and my thoughts that were sparked by the content, and any of my future writings.

- This one time… : My boyfriend, Will, has been a wonderful part of my life for almost 4 years. I have never met anyone who I could let loose and be completely true with. He has seen the complete Erin. I can honestly say NO ONE else has seen it. I think it would be fun for him to pop in here every once in a while and share little random stories about our life together. I really want to expand this eventually to have my family and closest friends come here and do the same. While this is taking a huge risk for me to be constantly embarrassed, I think it will finally help me become more comfortable in my own skin.

- He said/she said: Most people would have a hard time believing that Will and I have never truly fought. If we ever had a “rough patch,” it was more like hashing out issues we encountered and then either getting over it or coming to a compromise/agreement together. And pretty much all of that was out of the way by our second year together. I am so thankful for that! How have we managed to stay in peaceful harmony? We are always talking. We discuss everything. We both respect each other enough to listen and accept what the other “brings to the table.” This has led to some pretty incredible conversations. We have ended tons of talks moved to tears, laughter, and excitement. I figured it would be fun to share some of those conversations with you and maybe even elaborate further here. :)

- My style: I hate when someone asks me what my style is because I just don’t know how to answer that. I used to hate outfit posts. However, I am beginning to understand that not everyone who does it is doing it because they think they are the “know all” in fashion. Most girls just want to show off their new outfits or share pieces that make them feel pretty. I get that now and even find myself wanting to post photos of occassional outfits on Twitter. I have refrained for the most part due to the fact I spoke out against (most) outfit posts in the past. I am here to retract that statement and possibly start sharing little bits of my “style” here (most likely attached to other posts). Maybe you guys can put a name on it. ;)

That is all I have at this point. What do you think? Which are your favorites? Any I should get rid of or add? I would really love to hear your feedback. After all, I am trying to make this place better for both you and me. =D

Love you guys. For serious, yo. ;)

love, erin

So, I couldn’t go into the weekend without sharing this photo. When this was taken, the little one was only 5 days old. Isn’t that just adorable?? I had so much fun with this family.

I can’t get enough of this session. I will share more soon. Until then, have a beautiful weekend and enjoy some family time. :)

love, Erin

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