Just Peachy Mothers Day Minis – and my blessings….

I feel the need to share stories from this weekend and to express my gratitude for the experiences I have had during these Mothers day mini sessions.  I have never been so emotional over a set of minis in my life…and though my mom died over 15 years ago, I can usually talk about it and celebrate her without crying.  I’m not much of a cryer when it comes to talking about her death and I’m not entirely sure why seeing as I can cry on the drop of a dime over anything that pulls at my heart strings.  Maybe because it’s been a long time.  Maybe because in the end it was what was best (her fighting stomach cancer that was killing her one day at a time was a horrible way for her to live)…or maybe I was just trying to be strong for her, my then 16-year-old sister, and my then-3 year-old daughter.  I don’t know exactly why, but here we are.

I have had a few pictures surface lately of my mother and me when I was child, that I had never laid eyes on.  The thoughts that go through my mind when I see images from the past and now that I am a photographer, are always “I wish I had more pictures” or “I wish she could see these pictures”…or “why didn’t I think to take pictures WITH my mom?”.  Always.  So when I do Mother’s Day mini sessions, I often think of moms and their little one’s…but being reminded with the image of me with my mom that I had never seen before…I realized I should help spread the word and get out there to kids who aren’t kids anymore – and have them do pictures with their moms!  I actually had a 30 year old book this mini with her and her mom.  HEART STRINGS!!! And wait til you scroll down to their image and hear just a touch of their story (bring out the Kleenex).  But this year a lot of moms…brought their moms and not just their kids.  IT IS SO IMPORTANT PEOPLE!!! So important that after one of my clients mentioned it to me…I will also be doing fathers day sessions.

Pictures are 2 things.  1: Important.  How many times have you lost a parent or loved one and find yourself wishing you had MORE of them?  More pictures.  More memories (“pictures”)…and how many times can you recall as a teenager or a child where someone tried to take your picture with a parent / friend and you were threw your hands in front of your face and said “NO WAY”…now wishing you had that picture maybe?  It’s IMPORTANT. 2:  Under-valued.  People place their value in sometimes the craziest, silliest things.  My husband and I will drop a couple hundred bucks for dinner and a movie…as I’m sure many of you would as well.  How much money as women do we spend a year on hair?? Make-up?? Nails??  Shoes?? Clothes?? toys for our kids?  toys for our car?  toys for our homes?  Then ask how long do these toys last?  I mean we’ll drop how many thousands of dollars on car that will get us maybe 6-8 years AT BEST to which we can then MAYBE sell it at a fraction of the cost then move on to drop a few thousand more on another car?  Or how much do we spend on a TV with all the amazing stats of that TV…to find a better one less than 5 years later?  How long doest that brand new furniture last? Or mattress? Or bedroom set? Or…or…or….yet $1000 on pictures? “NO WAY”….yet they last a lifetime.  I so wish I had more pictures with my mom.   My sister.  My dad…time is short.  I need to place my values somewhere other than the crap I attain/purchase/collect in this lifetime.

Some of you know that I am a paramedic and I have to share with you that when I go and pick up patients in retirement homes and nursing homes, they really have nothing left that they have collected in their lifetime.  But the one thing they have in common – is pictures.  Framed images from their childhood, or their wedding 50 years ago…things that they value.  Where did their furniture go?  Their sofas from years gone by…their crap from all the rooms that they had in their homes?  The trinkets, and collectables…and just junk.  Where is it all now that they live in a one-room nursing home?  They have a single bed.  A nightstand, a recliner chair, a dresser and a television.  What sits on their walls or dresser?  Framed pictures that mean more to them than life now that they are alone in one room…where their children may or may not visit them on a daily basis.  Spouses may have passed away…their previous homes now sold to new families…and here these people are (just like YOU and I will someday be…)…and their most valuable things in their tiny little dwelling…are pictures.  I often find myself after calls like these, looking at my home and thinking “wow…do I ever have a lot of CRAP”.  I now sell stuff, and am truly trying to get rid of things that mean nothing in my home.  I’m printing pictures so they don’t sit on my computer.  I’m hanging family pictures on the walls…because lets face it – THAT is the true art in my life.

Well, now that I have had a serious case of verbal diarrhea, let me move onto this past weekends sessions and all that these photos mean to me.  Each family has a unique story and reason for WHY they chose to do these pictures this weekend.  But I have a few that I would love to share.  Why did I cry so much this weekend?  Well let me start with the first session that started off my weekend filled with minis.

I had a client book the first spot of the day on Saturday, and though I normally do not refund deposits, her little guy was so sick that I just felt I had to give her the refund of her booking deposit.  She’s a regular client, very good to me and I know when she says her son is sick – he is really sick (turns out he actually went by EMS later in the weekend…so he was truly ill)!  When I told her I wanted to refund the booking deposit…she wrote me and said she wanted to donate it instead to maybe someone who couldn’t afford it.  (Ummmmm….heart strings #1 of the weekend being pulled thank you very much).  So while her son was very ill, she didn’t care to get her money back – she wanted to give it to someone who could be blessed by it.  So.  I posted on my facebook page which you can see HERE that someone wanted to donate their session.  A while later, someone writes me and tells me how this single mom of 4 would love this session and that her husband had passed away.  That’s what I knew…and then my heart was like “YUP this one’s for her”.  So at 8:30 on a Friday night, this mom was told to be at my studio at 9:30am the following morning with her 4 children ready for a photoshoot…and ready she WAS!!!!  Here is a little sneak peak from their session:

After a full day of minis, I culled the images from the day and checked my facebook messages.  I had received a message from this gorgeous momma who said that she wasn’t sure if I knew her story, but that when she was just 9 weeks pregnant with her youngest daughter, her husband died in a car accident.  But that she wanted me to know that before he died, they were having a conversation one day where she said to him that all she wants next mothers day is pictures with her girls.  Even now – I am literally brought to tears.  I mean COME ON!!!! This is his gift to her!!!  What a story.  I can’t even imagine this woman life on a daily basis.  The heart ache, yet the laughs from 4 rambunctious GIRLS, then the moments of frustration, then loneness, then utter joy from just one child’s smile in the morning.  She is amazing.  Encouraging.  Courageous.  Beautiful.  An inspiration.  I was so blessed to be a part of this story.  Even if only for a moment.

Another amazing client to follow after this family, who has come to me for session after session… which means the world to me!!  Even when they came for Christmas minis…she couldn’t make it so she sent her husband and GAH…they are the exact same person!  I adore this family to bits!!!  And seriously – look at those DIMPLES!!!

This next family I have been photographing for almost 6 years.  Twins.  They were very difficult to get into this world and they have so many complications with illness’s in their lives, yet they are here, happy, strong and SO LOVING!!!  Getting trusted to capture family portraits year after year is so crazy amazing, just that alone makes me want to cry.  I mean think about it – you had a difficult journey getting two babies into the world…then once they are here, you hand them over to a photographer TRUSTING she will love on them and carefully capture these memories while taking the utmost care of being gentle, and patient with the miracles that shouldn’t have been here in the first place?  Then year after year…trusting the same thing will happen with the utmost care.  So emotional for me AND …I get hugs at the end of every session! COME ON!!!

THIS child…I have been blessed to photograph a couple times over the years too, and though I can’t really share much about this family – I can tell you I am blessed to be a part of their lives. <3

Small world…when I did this little guys newborn session, I found out mom is a nurse at one of the hospitals I take my patients too.  Honestly – this world gets smaller the older I get.

Another family I have been photographing since newborn.  This little guy is mister serious lol.  I could NOT get him to smile and he (like many his age) just LOVED my studio floor so wanted to play on it every chance he got!  Plus – this woman booked back to back sessions so she could do a full session with her son…but then a full session with her MOM!!! YES YES YES!!!!!!!  A full mini session with your MOM???  Heart strings pulled AGAIN!!!! HONESTLY!!

Check out this GORGEOUS momma who is due with baby #2 in just TWO WEEKS!!! In fact, we weren’t sure she would make it to this session as she had already had her first daughter by this time with her pregnancy.  I am so blessed she made it.  Gorgeous family…and they have accents which I don’t know about you, but for me…that puts a notch in my “you are freeking amazing” book LOL!  I can’t really share how we came to be together for this session, but saying that I hope to photograph this newborn is an understatement.  I love this family!! TO BITS…and only photographed them for the first time this weekend!

And to end my first day of minis with this family was a smile on my heart.  Having photographed them a couple times now as well just makes me smile.  Ainsley isn’t exactly the happiest to me when I’m photographing her (LOL)…but I love every minute of it!! Chaos is my jam.  I love doing minis (especially outdoors) with kids who love to run because it’s more of a game and playing…and running and chasing for not just them – but me lol.  I love it.

Onto day 2.  More stories- more Kleenex, more heart strings pulled and the ugly cry came out too!

So Saturday night I get a message late from a friend on facebook who says to me “I know I’m being bold by asking this, but a friend of mine has breast cancer and is going for surgery Monday.  Any chance you could do a photoshoot TOMORROW?”…well, my friend your boldness just got you ahead of the game because HECK YES I CAN!!!  I had a spot in the morning on Sunday that didn’t fill (and usually I Sell out)…tell me this wasn’t meant to be??? We did a quick mini boudoir session for this woman who is about to face the fight of her life.  And her girlfriends were there to support her.  I can’t imagine being given that news.  Not only do I see cancer all the freeking time as a paramedic…but my mom died of it, my grandma died of it, my grandpa died of complications from surgery that they THOUGHT was cancerous (turned out not to be)…but I also lived through my then-11-year-old sister fighting leukaemia.  Cancer has surrounded my life and has not touched my body yet…so to hear “you have cancer” is still not something I can imagine.  I pray against it, and believe it will never touch me…but you never know.  And for this woman to be so young too…and to have something removed that society associates with your womanhood is devastating to say the least.  But she is brave.  Strong. Courageous. A FIGHTER!  and her friends and family are their to support her through this battle that lies ahead….

I am blessed to do this session for her.  I hope to photograph her again … very soon!

Strength. That’s what comes to my mind when I show you this next mom.   A mom of two who had some complications at the birth of baby #2…and fought her way through the NICU and then two rambunctious threenagers and toddler…AND she’s in school!!! Writing her last 3 exams this week, losing weight from the stress of this crazy journey of motherhood and student…and for something so complicated (physics biology…craziness), she is just so strong!  How exhausting to face the day trying to be the best parent you can be, a student and being the best you can be so you can pass and provide for your family in a job that is very difficult to get…just W O W.  Everyone has a story to tell.  Stop and ask someone sometime…take the time to sit and have coffee with an old friend, a neighbour, maybe even family you never thought to ask about.  Listen.  Hear their story.  Be inspired.  Be blessed.

She’s a paramedic.  Was a 9-1-1 dispatcher and I have known her since we went to collage together when were hired at the time for Hamilton CACC.  She finally met the man of her dreams and had a son into her 30’s…and though we never actually hang out, I feel like I can talk to her about anything.  She understands me.  We can talk about work stories, dispatch stories…and stories of kids, and just life.  She gets me.  I get her.  And to photograph her for the first time since her son was a newborn, was just awesome.  Lisa – you are a fantastic mom!! (and by the way we forgot to get the hair brushing pic!!) So you’ll just have to come back <3

Okay get out the Kleenex.  This ‘kid’ booked her session for her and her mom.  Which, by now you know that I just adore that.  BUT during this session I had them sit on the bed and told mom to talk of a childhood story about either her or her daughter that would make them laugh…but as soon as I said talk about the story…mom started to tear up.  She tells of how her daughter is a miracle and wasn’t supposed to be here.  She talks of pregnancy and loss and that having her one and only child was such a blessing in her life.  As she talked and tears started…her daughter reached up to wipe her tears away.  COME ON!!!  My heart people!

I just love that this session wasn’t about little kids.  I love that these two cherish not only each other, but the making of memories.  And I got to be a part of this one.  Even if they never remember my name years from now…they will always remember these photos from that “mommy and me session we did years ago where I cried about your miracle story”…

So…I just finished telling ^^^ them both about the loss of my mom and how proud I am of these ladies for dedicating this session to themselves and not looking at this set like it was meant for children only.  How I wish I could have done this with my mom and how I cherish pictures that I have of my mom even though they are so few and far between.  I felt emotional, but though I’m pretty sure my eyes filled with water while speaking of my story, no tears actually fell. WELL.  In some Sarah who has had me photograph all three of her newborn boys.  The oldest is almost 7…so it’s been a long time capturing some pretty spectacular times in their family life.  I have never done a mini session for them and have only captured them for their newborns…so when Sarah told me she had a gift for me, I was a little surprised and couldn’t think why on earth would she gift me something? It’s not Christmas…my birthday isn’t until July…so why the gift?  (I love gifts for no reason…Im a huge giver of gifting for NO reason…so to have it gifted back…was throwing me off).  Well, she gave me my gift before her session started which I think was a mistake because after opening it – I couldn’t see.  Enter:  UGLY CRY.  Even now writing about it, my eyes fill up with tears.

So here’s the story.  A little while ago I facebook posted about a picture of my mom and me that was sent to me and that I had never seen before.  You can see that post HERE .  I wrote about pictures and how important they are and that I wish I had MORE of my mom…more WITH my mom…just MORE.  Well.  She gifts me with a hand made rosary …took THAT picture from facebook, wrote “mommy and me” on the back, put my name in the rosary and an angel pendant…all things that mean the world to me, and she gifted me with it..and why?  Because this weekend I celebrate “mommy and me” and my mom isn’t here…and this picture I just had sent to me and had never seen before and she did it because it would mean something.  For no reason.  Time from HER day with HER family and HER children…to make ME something so beautiful.  COME ON!!!!!!!

Here is this beautiful selfless mom and her amazing three boys:

and here is the gift she blessed with me:

God is good isn’t He?  I mean He is real.  Real in my life.  I will share the story of how I met God one day…but with the stories of this weekend and the blessings I experienced…I can’t help but fall to my knees in thanksgiving and prayer for the God who breathed life into me and gave me these people!

Let me just talk about this next family for a moment.  Deb is a paramedic who got me the job in Haldimand County.  Back story (I’ll make it fast if that’s even possible)…I took the paramedic program in 1997, graduated in 1998…had a baby in 1999…got hired as a dispatcher in 1999 and though I could never be a medic since I was out of school for ‘too long’) Deb used to come and bring the dispatchers coffee after doing a transfer from west Haldimand to Hamilton.  I got to know her and in getting to know her she encouraged me to put my application into Hagersville to be a medic.  I thought after being out of school for a year there’s no way that I would get a job…but BAM I got hired.  That was 18 years ago now and I have been there ever since.  Deb was like a sister to me. I remember her daughter when she was 19 (and now my baby is 19)…

Deb and I worked shifts together where she taught me a lot.  I remember working a shift and she had been “on the road for 10 years” and I remember thinking “WOW THAT IS SOOOOO LONG”.  She was an awesome medic.  Knew her protocols, fantastic with patients, just overall amazing!  She has a past where she got screwed and then found love again.  She’s also a mom of one ‘baby’ girl – who now has 2 kids of her own and is getting married this fall.

Deb has been off the road for a few years.. Before she was ready.  This amazing medic was told she had stage 4 of the “C” word….and here she is in remission kicking cancers ass might I add!  She is my hero.  She is that one friend who you might not talk to for a few months / weeks at a time, and yet it picks up right where you left off the very next chat!  I’m so blessed to get to photograph her family memories and the important moments.  I’m sure she can attest to how important photos are!

Deb is always thinking of me and treats me like I’m her daughter.  (though I feel like she’s just my big sister).  Once again, she spoiled me with this beautiful gem:

I am SPOILED with the love and stories from this whole weekend! xo

And last, another paramedic who works the city of Hamilton.  Raising a son who I cannot believe is already so OLD (lol)!  It’s been YEARS but Jaime, I’m so glad you came out and brought your mom along as well.  To your mom who made the 4 hour commute last minute to come for these pictures:  I hope it was worth it for you! It was a pleasure to meet you and photograph you and I hope I was able to capture this memory just how you would hope <3 xo

Happy Mothers Day coming up to all the moms, and grandma’s and aunts and sisters out there!  May you get spoiled with love, with moments of silence (lol), with chocolate or flowers, or even just a nap <3 Thank you all for trusting me to capture this amazing time in your lives! xoxo

Blessings,

Tonia

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