This session is the most fun I have had in a while. These boys were so excited to “play” baseball this past Monday morning and it was such a joy to watch them have a blast together. I just loved watching my boy come out of his shell and get down and dirty with his buddies. And for me, it was a great reminder of the amazing mommies and friends I am surrounded by. I’m so thankful for these friendships and I am so excited for the relationships these boys have with each other and will grow in the coming years. The shirts and hats these boys are wearing were made my talented friend, Mandy Skelly and the adorable cookies were made by her Aunt Martha Lander. She shipped them to Ohio just for this fun occasion and the boys were crazy about them. Nolan is still asking for more of those cookies. I’m not sure if the boys enjoyed snack time or playing baseball more, but I’m pretty sure it was all a win in their books:) Now please, enjoy some cuteness.
I was up until midnight last night, which was the time I woke up 6 years ago in labor with my sweet Elise. I went to bed thanking God for the precious gift she is to us and praying for the life ahead of her. Birthdays are so special to me as a mom because I can remember vividly the day my children came into the world and I love to think back on them when their birthdays roll around. Not that I’m not thankful all the time, but these days I’m fully reminded to celebrate their life and the unique person God created them to be.
I’m so happy to be celebrating our creative, tender-hearted, happy girl. She is an artist/veterinarian/rockstar/teacher wannabe and is an amazing big sister. Nolan has been a grump pretty much all week. However, when his sister walked into his room this morning to wake him up and tell him the great news that it was her birthday, he was all smiles. We are all excited to celebrate such an incredible girl. I couldn’t be more proud to be her mommy.
Whose birthday is it?!?!
Elise, we love you so incredibly much.
Happy Birthday to our sweet girl!
Mom and Dad
So many thoughts have been running through my head lately. Life is so busy and no matter who you meet, every single person has their own bag of problems, time commitments and things that make them feel disconnected. I have been thinking about how we were made for so much more than all of this. If you are feeling pulled in many directions and worn out, please take a listen to my current favorite song. Kari Jobe’s, “My Beloved” speaks right to my soul. For me, its like a love song straight from God himself. I need the reminder of these lyrics often. I am incredibly loved by an amazing Heavenly Father. We all are and He wants us to find rest in Him. So, take 5 minutes and lock yourself in the bathroom and click the link below. Let Him restore your soul. These pictures of my daughter are a reminder to me of how God sees, not only my beautiful girl, but also me. I am His child, just as she is mine and if I can remember how much greater His love is for His children, far beyond what I feel for my precious ones; well, then that is enough to give my heart some peace. Enjoy:)
I can’t think of a better way to capture you at this stage in your life, Nolan. You are growing up so quickly, but you refuse to grow up too much;) I love experiencing boyhood alongside you and watching your interest in things (especially dinosaurs) grow. What a privilege it is to be parents to such an incredibly sweet boy. Happy Birthday, buddy! We are so proud of you!
Mom and Dad
Naps, pajamas, I-spy books, snuggles on the couch, movies, paper plates and minimal Christmas decorations. This may sum up December 2013 for our family. We knew after moving in November and with another move ahead of us in February, that staying put this Christmas was going to be the best decision for this family. I think that this year may change the way we do Christmas for years to come. I will probably trade in our 4 ft Christmas tree for a much bigger-real one, but this year we were able to rest and enjoy each other’s company for an entire month.
We have been able to focus on the relationships in our lives. I’ve gotten together with more friends this past month than I did the 6 months prior (or so it feels;) With different children’s books from the library (all of ours are packed in a pod somewhere) focusing on the birth of Christ and weekly worship nights as a family, we were able to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Even our elf, Bagoo brought daily Bible verses to help us learn about the birth of baby Jesus pieces at a time. Elise took it upon herself to write her own letter to Santa one day. I love how she tries to sound everything out by herself. These notes are the sweetest to me.
After writing out: a real puppy, the same computer at school, and a kitten, she got too tired and asked me to finish it off by writing: a real cooking set. I then had to explain to her why we can only have one dog at a time, how she will never have her own computer until she goes to college, and that our family will never have a cat (no matter how cute little kittens are).
Well, it turns out part of my daughter’s Christmas wish came true as we got to bring home my in-law’s dog with us last week after an emergency trip to Illinois. My mother-in-law had a stroke and fortunately will be ok after a few months of physical therapy. But in the mean time, we are holding their dog ransom until Jane is healthy enough to make the trip out here to get her back (but mostly to lighten the load on my father-in-law).
(The little white poof in the background is my husband’s fur sister, Mitzy)
2013 was one heck of a ride for us. We strapped in and went full-speed ahead and are thankful for a much slower track at this time. You know the saying, “Hurry up and wait.”? That would be a good description of the past year. We continue to be extremely blessed through the ups and downs, backwards and sideway turns of life.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
I love the nudging of the Holy Spirit, quiet moments with my Lord, reminders of His abounding love, and glimpses of His blessings in our every day life no matter how small or how big they are. I’m so thankful for the rest he has provided for me and my family at a time when we just really needed it.
I pray that this Christmas you may be aware of how God meets you right where you are, in your most overwhelming struggles of this life to what may seem like the best moments of your life. He is right there. Always. Don’t miss Him.
The Claytor Family
Jen, Jonathan, Elise(5) and Nolan(2)
P.S. I’m in the middle of updating the website and blog, so please pay no attention to how it looks:)
Crazy. That describes what has been going on over here in Claytor Land the past couple of months. In fact, life has seemed quite the opposite of the image above. If you follow along on the blog soley, you have probably been wondering why in the world I haven’t posted lately. Well, here is a recap of our lives that past couple of months.
Our firstborn started kindergarten, the busiest photography season EVER began, we sold our house, my husband went on a mission trip to Mexico for a week, he got back and I broke my foot, that same week we officially opened the new building for our church home (the Stow campus of Christ Community Chapel). Meanwhile, we have been frantically looking for our new home with no luck. Needless to say, I have gotten very behind on photo editing and blogging fell to the very bottom of any to-do list. We are going to be moving in a couple weeks and thankfully we have friends who are willing to rent their old house to us for awhile. While life around us seems a little crazy lately, we are holding onto living a little more simply in the next few months and really focusing on time together (because we have been lacking that).
I will not be scheduling any sessions in December so that my children do not start to resent this photography thing. Our poor kiddos have been holding on tightly during this whirlwind-of-a-ride we have been on and I so badly want to focus on what is most important during the Christmas season. I feel like I am starting to be able to breath again and even though we have not found our next home, I know that God will provide and that as long as we are together, there isn’t really anything else we need.
And now that I can breathe again, I plan on trying to catch up on here and blog all the wonderful weddings, family, engagement, and newborn sessions I have had the pleasure of capturing this year.
This morning I heard some stirring upstairs, but I waited five minutes before going up just to make sure she was really awake. I saw the bathroom light on as I walked up the stairs and when I peeked in, there she was. My little girl was looking so grown up this morning. She was all dressed in the outfit she had me lay out on her bed last night. Her headband was in place and she was just finishing brushing her teeth. The time was 7:05 AM. She was ready.
So excited for this new adventure ahead of her, she couldn’t stop smiling. And yes, she knew exactly where she wanted me to take her pictures. “Im ready for my picture, Mom!”
I’m so glad I got all my crying out in the days leading up to now because it was the “I went through a box of kleenex” type of crying. Today I did pretty well, holding it together for my sweet girl. I knew that if she saw me sobbing my eyes out she would be sad for me and then not be so sure about leaving for school. She is just like her momma…super-sensitive and highly emotional;)
So off we went. We had to walk to school today, so that we could have as much time with her as possible. Walking and talking all the way about what the day was going to hold.
I’m so thankful for the past five years I have had at home with this amazing, little girl- all to myself. She has such a big heart and her excitement for life leaves me in awe of her. I can’t wait to hear all of her stories when she gets home today. And you can be sure we will be counting down the hours until we can go pick her up. Bittersweet memories.
To All You Incredible Mothers:
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to capture your heart for your children.
I love those first, intimate moments as they come into the world, those proud moments all along the way, to their wedding day and birth of your grandchildren.
These moments fill up my heart because I know just how you feel. Sure not every day is like a walk in the park, but these moments we get to capture are the most important. They represent you fully enjoying this gift that God has given you in your role of motherhood.
Moments of PEACE, LOVE, laughter and pure JOY, hugs and kisses, and time together…these are the memories we hold onto.
I feel so blessed to walk alongside you all in this journey. Thank you for sharing your heart with me.
Wishing you the happiest of Mother’s Days,
Every Saturday we try to get to ballet class a little early so that Elise can freely dance in the room before class begins. She is getting a lesson in how to practice, focus and what repetition means. The 45-minute class can sometimes be a challenge for a 4 year-old because of those things I just listed, which is why we have to get there early to allow for some free-style time;)
And of course her friend, Lauren has to join in as well because dancing is always more fun with friends:)
I love the excitement from the kids as we got ready to fly our kites, but the wind was crazy that day and the kites were not taking flight. You will see in the next few photos how things took an unexpected turn.
You see, I started taking pictures of the sky and it wasn’t until my daughter started screaming that I figured out what was going on.
Elise managed to get her kite in the air for a brief time and meanwhile Nolan was stripping off his mudding clothing. My son does not like to be dirty. But I loved what happened next because I can’t imagine a more fun way to capture a little boy than naked, dirty and running free in an open field.
Nolan showed us his belly so he wanted to see his sissy’s belly too.
I can’t imagine a better shot to capture the end of our adventure;)