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’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. 

Herndon family strikes again!

And what I mean by that is, the Herndon family delivered incredible, glorious perfection once again during their family photo session this weekend. I’ve had the pleasure of photographing the Herndon’s since the birth of their first child. Each and every photo session is an absolute joy.

Madeline has blossomed into an adorably sweet, friendly little lady.

Avery is a mini-Madeline, but with slightly more toddler energy.

Both of these sisters are unbelievably charming and playful. They somehow remember me from photo session to photo session, even though I only see them annually. 

It’s impossible not to fall in love with this family. The parents are the coolest. They scuba dive, they enjoy good beer, they refurbish mountain cabins. They work hard and radiate in the presence of their children. 

But then again, who wouldn’t?!  LOOK AT THESE GIRLS. They are angels, I tell ya. They are sisters who probably never fight or whine.

 

Even Madeline, who developed a painful blister on the back of her heel for the sake of wearing pretty shoes during the photo session, barely uttered a complaint. 

Thank you, Herndon family, for always coming to life in front of the camera for me, and for trusting me with your sweet memories.

Off to elementary school

Today was just like any other Monday, except that today marked another Busbee entering the enormous world of K-12 learning. 

Together, Natalie and I picked out her first-day-of-kindergarten clothes, and all of us Busbees gathered ’round the breakfast table to fuel up for the big day.

Raise your hand if you are excited for the first day of school!

Baby Cameron was our energetic, encouraging cheerleader.

Natalie was as proud to be a kindergartner as one could hope. She’s been patiently awaiting this day, as have mom and dad. But, oh so suddenly it was upon us.

Our tiny little Nattlebug – all five years of her – stood anchored with her backpack and lunchbag ready to take on this next chapter. 

She had a great helper in her big brother. He passed down loads of valuable information on the car ride to school.

Then it was time to set Natalie free in her classroom. If I recall the details correctly, she did tenderly push me out the door, eager to be an independent kindergartner. 

I held my tears. I did what came next, which was walk away from her classroom and up to the 2nd floor to drop Caleb off in his third grade classroom. He settled in with ease. He wore dark colors and chose a dark backpack and lunchbag, because “that’s what third graders do, mom.”

I collected my thoughts and emotions, shuffled out of the school, got an iced coffee and took a mini hike down the American Tobacco Trail with my only non-elementary-school child, Cameron.

Once I returned to the house, all was well. And then I saw Natalie’s beloved blankie sitting in solitude on the kitchen table bench in our quiet house. I realized that she hadn’t even asked to bring it with her to kindergarten. 

If there was only one sign that she was ready for kindergarten, this would be it. We survived the first day!

B is for bubbles

I attempted to make this session with baby Max and his family all about the bubbles. I thought I could distract from the camera with those enticing bubbles (and a new bubble machine, too). But not all plans are destined for success.

Folks, I was outsmarted.

Max knew better. He knew what I was up to. Don’t get me wrong, he liked the bubbles, but he is also as smart as an engineer. He wanted to dig into the bubble machine and figure out the mechanics. How does this contraption work?

Most babies leave it at, oooooohhh shiny bubbles.

Anyway, so Max made me work for it. I had to beg and plead for smiles. But oh, they were worth the wait. He’s perfection – eyes, nose, lips, brain. Everything. I love this kid and his laid back family.

 

The reward is in the work

I am fortunate to sit on the Board of Directors for a Durham-based nonprofit, The Exchange Family Center. They provide free child abuse and neglect prevention services to area families (either voluntarily or court-mandated cases) and have done so for 25 years now. This video I created recounts those 25 years, from the humblest of early days to present day, when their services are highly sought after, respected and there are burdensome waiting lists. They are working on fundraising to get those waiting lists down, because families in need should not have to wait.

One way I was able to help in their efforts was to produce this video, which ended up being tremendously rewarding.

The Exchange Family Center celebrates 25 years from Melanie Busbee.

 

I’ve only known the Center for six years now, but working on this project enabled me to sift through numerous photos, newsletters, headlines, etc from their earliest days. The folks who founded the Center did so with kind, willing hearts and their vision has continued and grown over the decades. They must be extremely proud and I hope their hearts swell when they look back at their legacy.

Just check out these priceless images…

Congratulations to the Exchange Family Center and here’s to another 25 years!

Ready for take off

For years I’ve been told that the RDU Observation Park is a must-visit gem of the Triangle, particularly with young children. Today, I finally brought my children to check it out, and it did not disappoint. 

It has an observation deck to watch planes of all sizes take off and land, a climbing area built over a sandpit, a “runway,” sprawling grassy areas and restrooms. The air is filled with the soundtrack of jet planes. It is only a short walking distance from the General Aviation Terminal, which is air conditioned and features big glass windows for private flight viewing.

This is one of those magnificent locations that is fun for families, unique and works quite well for some interesting photos. I’m so glad I packed a camera to test out the space on my favorite subjects, my Busbee babies.

Let kids be kids

Would ya take a look at these two sweeties, Cameron and Mia? Their relationship is nothing short of incredible. They like to make one another laugh and they play together pretty seamlessly, despite the 4 years of age between them. 

Photo of Cameron and Mia

We had plenty of fun together during our Sunday afternoon family photo session, and these two had gorgeous smiles each time I aimed the camera their way. But, they were truly at their best when I asked them to do what kids do best — play:  they raced through the grass, they rolled around on top of one another, and they told me their favorite jokes. Sometimes, you just have to let kids be kids. And this applies to “serious” photo sessions too.