Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There are no words.

What a tender weekend we just had.  We felt an overwhelming amount of sweetness, heart ache, gratitude, love and blessings.  I'll let the photos do what they do best... speak for themselves.
Before the funeral could really get under way, we had a little gift for Grandpa.  Grandpa loved his loaders. We know he'll be an equally powerful tool helping further God's work on the other side.
How blessed we are to be a part of his great legacy. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Boys Make Me Happy

This little one has a special place in my heart today.

I love the way my children fill me with love and joy.  (Even when it makes me cry!  As you can be sure I am crying right now.)  Earlier today I was talking to Marshall about our visit we were going to make to Grandpa at the funeral home and I reminded him that we have spirits and that our spirits live in our bodies.  When our bodies die, our spirits go to live in Heaven with Heavenly Father and Jesus.  After a few minutes on this topic Marshall asked his first question about the whole situation.  He asked me, "Is Grandpa feeling better?"  I told him of course and explained to him that it is our bodies that get tired and sick and that our Spirits are strong and that Grandpa is now happy and healthy and busy at work with Jesus in Heaven.

So this afternoon our family headed up to have a little visit with Grandpa before everything got busy this weekend.  We laughed and cried and had a nice time.  Before we left we sat at Grandpa's side again.  I had Marshall in my arms and he whispered, "I love you Grandpa."  Then he turned to me and said he wanted to give Grandpa a kiss.  So I lowered him down and he softly kissed Grandpa's shoulder.  Once we were out in the parking lot Colby was holding Marshall and he kept saying he wanted to go back in.  "I want to tell Grandpa..." and then he'd never finish the sentence.  Once he finally decided what to tell him he told us, "I want to tell Grandpa to have a great time." I hope I never forget how sweet it was to hear him whisper those words to his Great Grandpa.  

Thank you Marshall for your sweet wisdom.  We know he'll have a great time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heaven Sent

I'm so glad I have this treasure.  I happened to be going through a bunch of pictures from last winter and this one caught my attention.  You see, a few weeks ago Grandpa Stratton went into the hospital.  When he was in ICU, Colby and I thought a few pictures of the family would help lift his spirits and hopefully speed up his recovery.  I found all kinds of pictures... but not this one.  Probably a week ago I came across this one and thought, "Wow.  I didn't know I had a picture of just Grandpa and the boys.  I wish I had seen this a couple weeks ago when I made that poster."  

Early Monday morning Grandpa passed away.  We were all a bit surprised and have been slowly getting used to the idea for the last couple of days.  On Monday there was some talk of putting together a slide show of Grandpa's life and I thought, "That picture!"  It was perfect.  A perfect snapshot of a perfect moment found at the perfect time.  So for two days I've scoured my computer for the picture and I could NOT find it for the life of me.  I even started thinking I must have had a dream that I had this picture because it did not exist on my computer.  

How grateful I am that I found it today.  It was one of those tender mercies, you know?  And then I realized I hadn't seen many pictures of Grandpa with Tyler.  Sure enough, this is the one and ONLY picture of Tyler with his Great Grandpa Stratton.  It breaks my heart a little bit to know we didn't take any more.  But how grateful I am for this one.

Grandpa was always so happy and loved his little ones.  We were visiting him in the rehab center the night before he died and he just smiled at our boys as they scurried here and there through his room.  They were being so curious and he was just happy to have them there.  A few days before he told my boys they were the most handsome boys he had.  Of course then he told them that if any of their other boy cousins were there as well, he'd say it to them all.  He always smiled as he reminded me to take care of my boys when we'd leave their house on Sunday evenings.  To be honest, it was rare to see Grandpa without a smile.  He was a great man.  "One of the greatest" as so many people have told me the last few days.  My heart is flooded with so much I'd like to express about our dear Grandpa.  Too much to share here.  I think I need to spend a while with my journal in the next couple of days.

We love you Grandpa.  Can't wait to see you again someday.  Thanks for all you taught us. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Going PRO

Baby Taft is going pro.  He's being featured on my "professional" blog now.  Don't miss out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The best $7 ever spent.

Bad guys beware!
Marshall earned $6 at the county fair this year.  He had two photographs that won BLUE ribbons!  Daddy promised him that he could buy a toy with his prize money.  How excited do you think he was when he found this Transformers costume on clearance for $7?!  I was happy to pitch in one dollar for this awesome find!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yes. Yes it does.

My birthday came as a welcome break to chaos this year.  Marshall took charge of choosing the gift this year and it was a winner.  He must have noticed that mom doesn't eat popcorn very often and the reason must be that I needed an air popper.  I must assure you the reason could not have been (note the sarcasm) because it is on the bottom of my favorite food list.  Marshall, being an amazing problem solver, insisted that "Mom needs a popcorn machine."  Which successfully resulted in a giant bowl of freshly popped pop corn being our treat while watching "The Blind Side" last night.  Colby couldn't stop laughing once I opened my gift because he tried to convince Marshall I needed all kinds of other things, but Marshall knew best.  :)  

My birthday was full of lovely greetings and kind words.  It made me feel so loved.  It was almost overwhelming...  I even was treated to see a handful of far away relatives too.  

My boys spoiled me as always.  They each chose their own card for me.  Can you tell who gave me which?
This one was from my Tyler.  His awareness is uncanny!  
I've never seen a card that was meant for me the way this one was.

Does that seem appropriate for this momma to you?  
Why yes.  Yes it does.

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Happy Boy

There once was a boy that looked forward to school.  He cried the day his mom told him he had to wait until he was older.  He talked about Kindergarten for an entire summer and insisted he WAS five years old, not three.  When August rolled around his mommy called the preschool around the corner and got him all signed up.  He waited anxiously and talked about preschool every day for that week and a half until the first day arrived.  When it was time to go he was SO excited.  Can you tell?
I didn't think so :)
And now the mom can't believe her eyes.  She even shed one or two little tears at the thought of him being old enough for such a big adventure.  The little boy loves Preschool so much that he asks to go every single day.  He's so awesome!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Unveiled with a GIVEAWAY!

Taken from the official Andrea Stratton Photography blog:  "For the last eight months I've had so much fun building my business while remaining a full time Mommy and wife. I've been happy to include snippets of my 'work life' alongside my 'personal life' on our family blog. Each photo shoot has been a lovely addition to my regular, day to day stuff and each client has become a greater friend. For a little while now I've felt a need to separate my work from my family life. I've hesitated because I wanted it all to be perfect. Yet I have been reminding myself that I enjoy the fact that my life is perfectly imperfect, and if I really expected this element of my life to live up to such a high standard of ultimate perfection it would no longer be MY business.

So I'm taking small steps starting with an official Andrea Stratton Photography blog.  You will find changes coming slowly but surely and I hope you enjoy the journey.  Isn't that what my work is all about...?  Catching small parts of your journey in a photograph so you can enjoy these moments over time?  I sure hope so."

Now get over there to find out who won the giveaway for a $50 Portrait Session.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dedicated to Papa Perry

The boys and I would like to dedicate this song to the greatest Perry in the world!  
We love you Papa.  Can't wait for you to come home again.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Featuring AGGRESSIVE from "The Passive-Aggressive Mother"

It's been a weird day.  Both of my boys took naps THIS MORNING, at the SAME TIME.  That is so rare.  So I wasted a ton of time trying to figure out something really productive I could do and settled on 1) making cookies & 2) sweep and mop the floors.  Then this afternoon we got a short but giant rain storm.  It was pouring buckets for just 10-20 minutes and then it cleared right up.  I had to run a couple of errands but we waited until the rain had died down.  We drove past a group of kids tubing down the gutter.  No joke!  I wish I had my camera.  The gutter was WAY full and it was out into the street almost 10 feet and the kids were just playing with their inner tubes.  I tried to get out there and live it up like a kid, but Marshall said he'd rather stay inside than go jump in puddles.  Darn.  I guess I'll convince him next time.  You'd think this would make for a heavenly day.  I thought so too.  But the last couple hours have been a jumble of weird emotions that only find their way out every once in a while.

Well, we got home and I decided we better check out the damages to my humble garden that consists of spaghetti squash, serrano peppers and tomatoes.  I have three pepper plants, but only one has produced any fruit and its been tiny.  Well, I noticed that the producing plant looked like the rain knocked all of the leaves off and then I saw them.
These three giant caterpillars ate all the leaves off my ONLY PRODUCING PLANT!  My voice was on the verge of screaming as I was calling them "stupid bugs" and telling them they are not welcome in my garden.  Apparently my suffering garden broke this camel's back.  I was so furious.  I exclaimed, "I'm gonna go inside and get my camera so I can take a picture of the little jerks!"  Marshall thought they were really interesting creatures but also didn't like that they had eaten the plants we've worked so hard on.  

Then I looked over to my squash and saw the critters I'd been suspecting for a couple weeks now...

They're kinda hard to see, but a small fraction of them were clustered on that dead leaf.  I started cutting off all the leaves they were camping out on (to avoid the "torrential flooding" of the garden) and set them on the cement.  Then I realized I didn't want to squash all the bugs with my shoes, so I grabbed a shovel and let them have it.  Soon I can hear my dear oldest child,
"We are killing all these freakin' little jerks!"
  And then I turn around to find Tyler behind me with his own little shovel smashing what's left of all the little garden eaters.  

So here I sit, confessing my wrong doings.  I taught my son those naughty little words.  And I'm sorry.  Especially if he ever utters them in your presence.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

...a sneak ...

It is a humbling experience to be the one to capture rare family moments in just a few photographs.  
Here's a tiny taste of the fun we had out in the sand.