Celebrating Cameron

The baby of our family, Cameron, is now a toddler. Turning two years old today, she has now officially emerged from her little baby cocoon and is on the road to adolescence. Yes, my timeline is a bit dramatic – but I promise it truly does go by in the blink of an eye!

But enough about my emotions. Check out the fun we had today celebrating Cameron, aka Scooby.

She partied topless (and pants-less) for most of the morning, much to her delight. What is it with the desire to run around naked?! I don’t get it. I digress.

Also, we are in a phase where this (see below) is her smile. I promise she’s a happy child.

We decked the walls with homemade decorations in the wee hours before her brunch party. All the big kids helped mommy and daddy with this.

We gave Cameron her birthday gift early so she could play in it the whole day. The kids all enjoyed her new pop-up ball pit. I’m thrilled, because sometimes you just never know what’s going to be a hit and what’s going to be a waste of space, hunk ‘o junk.

Oh, and there’s her “smile” again.

Lots of yummy food was prepared. I love being pregnant and cooking up a feast. I get to make everything I personally am craving. So, yay for me. The menu consisted of white chicken chili, Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Quiche, mustard roasted potatoes, tomato feta salad, white cheddar mac and cheese, lemon yogurt cake and cupcakes.

When party time came, Cammie was appropriately dressed in the same adorable skirt that Natalie wore for her second birthday.

And then friends came over to shower her with love and affection and joy and kindness and delight and sharing of toys and all the things a parent could want their children to experience.

Hubby and I are absolutely blessed by the presence of these folks, who stick by us through all the years and all the kids and all the ups and the downs. We’re an undeniably lucky crew.

We blinked our eyes and Cameron turned two. She’s a much changed girl from last year

This year she embraced the birthday process and the happy birthday song and even blew out her own candle. She also enjoyed the heck out of that cupcake.

With memories still fresh from Christmas, she remembered that opening gifts is awesome and that she should get fired up for this part of her big day.

Cameron received many, many generous and treasured and thoughtful gifts. 

And since we are parents who accidentally scheduled her party during her nap time (because we are brilliant and not insane and not forgetful), Cameron was a tired toddler who almost took a nap on her first gift, a puppy dog sleeping bag.

We have so many friends and family to thank for celebrating with us. It would never be the same without you all.

Here’s to cherishing another blessed year with our Cameron!

What made my year

The year is almost over (seriously?!), but the memories of 2017 will stay with me far into the coming days. I try to make it a habit to look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of each year and make a Top 10 list of sorts. It is a blessing of an exercise just to sort through all the memories, acheivements, battles, failures and wins.

In compiling these lists, I came to the conclusion that anything that sounded good at the end of this sentence should make the cut:
“2017 was the year that such and such happened (Such and such of course being my memorable event).”

Please enjoy my Oh, That Was the Year [THAT] Happened List
(in no particular order):

#1:  My youngest child turned ONE. Cameron, aka Scooby, already lived one full year of her astonishing life. How could it have passed so quickly?

#2:  I became more church involved. I used to feel like such an outsider at my church, and I used to blame that feeling on my church community, staff, etc. I realized over time that it was me choosing to not connect that was causing the distance. I decided to commit more of myself through volunteering in the nursery, volunteering with church needs, teaching Sunday school, joining Women’s Bible Study, joining church-based Facebook groups, and taking road trips with other church moms. It has made all the difference. I now feel like it is MY church.

#3:  Hubby and I looked at one another and said, “Oh crap, we want another kid, don’t we?!” We decided to go crazy and attempt a fourth Busbee nugget. We got very, very lucky and were blessed with a beating heart growing in my belly. I want the world to know that I do not take this budding life lightly. The struggle that I know other hopeful parents face in trying to start a family is one I think about on a daily basis. I just try to do my very best to trust God’s plan for my life and be immensely grateful for it.

#4:  I lost my dearest kitty, Pinto. He was an indoor/outdoor kitty and he went on a hike one day and never came back. He was 15 years old and was notably sick. I think he made the process easy on me by not allowing me to see him suffer. Pinto just went away to rest peacefully, and that’s the best a cat mama can hope for.

#5:  I went surfing in Hawaii, crushing my fear of deep water. This was pretty huge for me. Okay, I was a really bad surfer. But the attempt was real!

#6:  Hubby and I put our faith to the test as I transitioned from the workforce into being a stay-at-home mom and full-time freelance photographer. It is terrifying to leave something comfortable, something that pays a consistent salary, something where I have adult coworkers. Part of that big change of course is living off one salary, giving up office benefits and healthcare, and paying for my own office supplies. It’s been an incredible adjustment!

#7:  We took a cruise with our closest friends. Six days at sea and island hopping. I honestly can’t even remember the destination. It’s the company that counts. We had an absolute blast traveling with our kiddos and the Bowen family.

#8:  I got a new job and I struggled with it. Staying at home full time with my children is hard work. I swear, there are times when I feel not nearly enough for them, like I’m just not built for this job. But I spent the past six months learning to balance life at home, learning to cook eggs to order, learning how to be the sole disciplinarian and home manager. Coupled with freelance, I feel as if I work double the hours as I did when I went to the office.

#9:  Both big kids went to elementary school. My two eldest kiddos are now in school, Caleb in third grade and Natalie in kindergarten. It feels immense. It feels like it all happened overnight.

#10:  We spent a bliss-filled weekend in a mountain cabin. I love the mountains and I love cozying up with family and friends. 

So that was my year. And how quickly it passed!

Exploring an old favorite

I recently needed to get my kids out of the house, because, well, climbing the walls and such. My hope was that the American Tobacco Campus would have its pop-up ice skating rink open for the season. My expectations were low, as I hadn’t seen any media announcing the rink being up and running.

I brought along my camera in the event that I could snag a few photos of the campus’s holiday decorations, which are stunning this time of year.

The kiddos were fascinated by the strands of lights and wondered at the logistics of stringing them along the tower. 

I love visiting the American Tobacco Campus because there is always something new to discover, even for frequent visitors. Like this sweet little mural. I’ve never noticed it before.

And I love that the holidays offer a fresh perspective on a familiar space.

My nuggets, acting momentarily sweet. 

And one final glimpse before we headed home for the evening.

No ice skating rink. Not even close. But a trip to the American Tobacco Campus is always worth the views.

I have my clients to thank


I mean it. This year has been such a blessing, and my clients are a major part of that. 

By internet standards, videos are supposed to be short. So I had to keep this message concise. However, I could have gone on and on and on and would need to in order to adequately thank each and every one of my clients.

From the Aaron family to the Zukermans, my beloved families and customers have made this year one of success. 

As you’ll hear in the video, my decision to quit a full-time gig to stay at home with my babies and focus on freelance work was a scary one to make. My fears and doubts were pretty high leaving something comfortable for something risky.

My beautiful clients kept me busy, which felt like an answer to many prayers and has helped me feel a bit more comfortable in my decision.

THANK YOU over and over again. Here’s to a great 2018!

Women who rock

When I’m not nudging my camera into the personal lives of my clients, coaxing smiles and laughter out of them, I delve into commercial photography and video. It’s very different work from when I’m with my families and it’s uniquely enjoyable.

Recently I was documenting a number of professional workshops offered through the UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive Development Program. Professors from the Business School offer hands-on, intensive training to professionals from across the nation.

As I work these events, I’m a fly on the wall, absorbing what the faculty say, gauging participants’ reaction and interaction as I discreetly capture the workshopping as it happens. There is no posing, no adjustments. My goal is to be invisible while seeking out the best possible angles in a classroom setting. It’s challenging work in the sense that you use the lighting available, the context presented (no props, etc), with the subjects available.

Lucky for me, the subjects are wonderful. They are captivating, energized and welcoming of the camera in the back row.

My most recent assignment was coverage of a women at work session. I couldn’t help but be inspired at every level. 

The participants were all females in leadership in the workplace.

The faculty was comprised of world-class female instructors.

Participants maneuvered through real-life scenario negotiations, on-the-spot presentations and honed in on growing skills. It was fascinating to watch and see the students do so without breaking a sweat. 

Stay tuned for more content around this cool program! 

What’s one more?

Hubby and I have the biggest of announcements and thought we’d share it here, amongst our friends and photography family. Come June 2018, we will be welcoming our fourth little Busbee to our family, and we couldn’t be happier!

This Busbee nugget has been brewing since our trip to Hawaii (baby’s first airplane trip), so I anticipate this child will have an adventurous spirit.

Years ago I would have never imagined having such a big family. Once upon a time I only wanted one child.

As the years have passed, and as we had our first, second and third child, my heart kept bursting with the thought of another. It was a longing I couldn’t quiet. With the birth of each new baby, hubby and I would take a look at one another and say, “we want another, right?” And we kept wanting another.

Baby Busbee No. 4 is the final piece of our Busbee family puzzle. This one completes us. Caleb, Natalie and Cameron are so thrilled with what’s to come, and their joy makes this addition even more incredible.

We are the most grateful humans to have been gifted these blessings by God. And while we are undeserving of his trust in and grace for our family, I am honored and continually shocked to be a part of something so priceless and special. 

I may say a lighthearted, what’s one more, but those are just words that give me courage to perform well at the most important job I’ll ever have, being a mom.

Thank you for the support and well wishes. We are excited for the months ahead!

 

The lights of my life

All the twinkling lights of the season had me eager to get my own sweet kiddos in front of the camera. This can be tricky, because my kids sometimes love to avoid my camera and I.

But this attempt was a success, thanks to my little blessings.

My plan started with two strands of white Christmas lights that I strung (with temporary decorating clips) to the wall and floor. I selected a blank wall at random. My home has many blank walls from which to choose because I haven’t yet decorated it, even though I moved in more than two years ago.

placed a little wooden chair about three feet in front of the lights, not knowing yet if I’d use it or not. 

Then I waited for the magic moment (aka, after homework was finished and kids were bribed). I used a single ring light offset to the right of the subjects.

Oh dear goodness, the results were magical. At least in my opinion, but hey, they are my kids. I would truly love any photo of them.