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Everis // Six Months

Last weekend, my husband and I celebrated 12 years of marriage. If someone would have told us twelve years ago that someday we would have four children, I'm not sure we would have believed it. Four would have seemed like a lot. And it is. In fact, I cried for a solid week when I took that positive test last April. Just that morning, we had been laying out our plans for the future and another baby was honestly not in my plan. Pregnancy is uncomfortable, birth is painful, and newborn sleepless nights are downright exhausting. But God's plans? They have been proven better than mine yet again. 

This baby girl has brought so much joy into our home. Adored by her three older siblings, and always ready to smile, she is simply a delight. The capacity of the human heart to grow with the addition of each child is baffling to me. You think with the first, there's no possible way you can love another child the same. Then the second comes along, and he's just as adored as the first. Then again it happens with the third, and now fourth. So yes, four kids would have seemed impossible twelve years ago. But goodness..I'm so glad that my plans didn't work out. 

Everis Anne Barker, you're pretty great.

Strawberry Picking

Once upon a time, I used to add content to my blog. Well, maybe that's an overstatement; I've never been great at updating it regularly. But, it's now been well over a year since I've really posted anything, not for a lack of desire, but simply because life. In the past year, we've bought a house and moved (same neighborhood, but 4th move in two years), and had a fourth baby. Needless to say, I've been a bit busy, so posting here had to take a back-burner. But today, a look back at my previous post has me feeling nostalgic. That little toddler in the previous video posted below is now a talkative, opinionated three-year-old. Back then she was just trying to keep up with her older brother and sister, and now much of the time she acts as though she's running the show.

Yesterday, we went to a little farm to pick strawberries. Taking advantage of the weather while it's still bearable, and getting our hands dirty picking strawberries straight off the vine was just what we needed. Life is flying by at such a hurried pace these days, and my heart longs for slowness. So, I thought perhaps it was a good time to dust off my camera instead of the phone in my pocket, and get back to what I love--capturing these littles and the simple joys of childhood.

**The newest baby girl will get her own post soon. She was too busy napping to pick strawberries. 

A Warm December

On a warm December day, we ventured out so I could film and photograph my little family. I've been wanting to experiment with video for some time because, while I adore a still photograph, I also adore the giggles and gestures that can't be captured in a single moment. It is shaky and imperfect and at times out of focus, but it's my attempt at holding onto memories of these little ones in the best way I know how. 

Emelia // One Year Old

Tomorrow my baby will be one.  On Wednesday, just before a cold front came through, making us pull out our winter sweaters once again, we snuck out for a few one year pictures.  There was quite a bit of leaf eating, crawling away and looking at anything but me, but I absolutely love this age.  I love watching as she absorbs the world.  And just to commemorate some of her favorite and not so favorite things, here's a little list:

Likes: Brother and sister, teddy bears, bananas, broccoli, clapping, dancing, smiling and snuggling.

Dislikes: Sippy cups.  

That's right, she likes just about everything in the world except sippy cups.  In fact, she gets downright angry when I hand her one, especially if it has milk in it.  Sometimes she'll sip water, but absolutely refuses milk in a sippy cup.  It's pretty funny.

So here she is.  Baby girl at one year. 

And if you'd like to see sweet girl as a newborn, click here, and at six months here.

Our Days Lately

Our days have looked a lot like this lately.  Simple.  Messy.  Mundane.  

I spend almost all day, every day with my kids.  And if I'm honest, sometimes it's really hard.  I'm asked constantly for snacks, drinks, books to be read, help with a craft.  I sweep our floor at least twice a day and load and unload the dishwasher just as often.  It can become very monotonous, boring even.  In the past, I've made a few feeble attempts at documenting our days, whether by a 365 days or 52 week project or the like but can never seem to keep on track with them.  So I've taken up just keeping my camera out, ready for the mundane moments when my heart tends towards complaint.  In those moments, I snap a picture.  Then, I'm able to look at these photographs a few days later and realize that yes,

Our days have looked a lot like this lately.  Long. Lovely. Worth it.

Buddies

These five have been buddies since birth.  One of the hardest parts of our move back to Houston was leaving such dear friends in Dallas.  Explaining to our kids (even three months later) that we can't just go over to their houses on a whim is sad, but when we do have a chance to see them it's like they haven't missed a beat.  And while we know new friendships are already being built here, there will always be something extra sweet about these.  

Maybe, just maybe, someday some of these snapshots will be part of a rehearsal dinner slideshow.  That would be a fun story to tell. 

Of Pictures Past // A New Series

I don't have any first day of school pictures to share today, but it should come as no surprise that I take a lot of pictures of my kids.  Sometimes I quickly share them on various social media platforms, but mostly they sadly end up in folders on my computer.  I sort through them every once in a while and reminisce on months and years gone by when my babies were still babies, momentarily escaping the fact that they're becoming less baby every day.  

From June 2012, Eisley was 2 1/2 and Easton was 15 months.

From June 2012, Eisley was 2 1/2 and Easton was 15 months.

For one more year they will spend their days with me.  We'll take trips to parks and museums, meet friends for picnics, and have mid-morning dance parties in our pajamas.  These days are sweet and they pass by faster than I care to admit.  I'll continue to photograph our adventures, but I have intent to share them more.  Not because anyone (other than grandmothers) may be particularly interested in seeing all the small moments of our lives, but because those small moments turn into days and weeks and months and years and they shape these little souls.   Someday my babies will be big and I want to remember all the small moments that got them there. 

That's the beauty of photography.  It gives us visual representation of a mind full of memories. The photographs aren't of more importance than the actual doing, just a gift to help remember what's been done.  So, I hope you'll oblige me as I begin a series of posts of pictures past. Nestled among peeks of current client sessions, I'll be sharing some of my favorite personal photos from the past few years (yes, years).  

And to those who sent kids off to school today, I'm shedding a tear along side you just thinking about the future.  In the spirit of school pictures, here's a little throwback to two years ago when these two went to "school" for the first time.   

 

Chubby Easton in a backpack and Eisley's short curls...be still my heart.  August 2012.

Chubby Easton in a backpack and Eisley's short curls...be still my heart.  August 2012.

Nominate a Mom // Session Giveaway

If you're a mama, you have no doubt had days where the simplest tasks end up taking twice as long as you've allotted.  Tantrums and boo-boos need to be tended to in the middle of the Target aisle.  Coffee spills and potty breaks amid a basket full of groceries seem to make a "quick trip" to the store almost insurmountable.  Then a stranger, inconvenienced by you and your children, says something that's completely unnecessary, proving that  "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is a categorically untrue statement.  This was our morning.  

My kids played witness to my tears of anger, disappointment and embarrassment as we left the store. Anger quickly resolved to sadness for the stranger who, for whatever reason, found it necessary to take out her own frustrations on us.  Then I moved on to thinking about all the single mamas out there that do this daily task of parenting, often times without the help or affirmation that they deserve.  Rather than giving that woman's harsh words any more voice today, I remember these:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,

the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

In honor of moms, I'd like to offer a few free photo sessions to single moms, two in Dallas and two in Houston.  If you know a mama who deserves some updated pictures with her little one(s) and you would like to nominate her, please email me the following

  • Your name and contact info
  • Your nominee's name and contact info (phone and/or email)
  • A brief statement about why she's a great mom  

Some additional details:

  • I will choose up to two women in Dallas and two women in Houston to receive a free mini-session.  Dallas dates will be limited to upcoming trips I already have scheduled.
  • Submissions will be taken until Friday, August 29th, 2014.  
  • At this time, the giveaway is limited to single moms.
  • If your nomination is not chosen, you will have the option to purchase a deeply discounted session as a gift for her. 
  • If your nominee is chosen, I will contact you before getting in touch with her.  

If you have someone in mind, let me know.  And better yet, send her a quick note or phone call of encouragement today.  She may need it more than you know. 

**Submissions are now closed.  Thank you for your nominations!!

Emelia Quin // My Newborn and a Quick Update

The last several months have brought several changes for us, including a baby, a move, new job and new church.  We are delighted in all of these changes, but as seasons like this one tend to do, tasks like blogging fall far down the things-to-do list (as if I was great at keeping up with it in the first place).  But now that our new home is mostly put into order, kids are napping, and free time is making a slow comeback, I'm happy to sit down for a bit and share a quick update.  

Emelia

In March, after a very quick yet very painful birth, Emelia Quin made her entrance into our lives. These pictures were taken a few days after she was born but she is now a very squishy five month old.  She receives approximately 1000 kisses a day and smiles after each one, and I'm trying to soak in her baby-ness as much as possible.  Eisley and Easton are both smitten as well, just as she seems to be with them.  Her sweet and gentle spirit are already so apparent, and we are so in love with this little one.

In other news..

In July, 2006, Brandon and I moved to Dallas not knowing we would call it home for eight years. All three of our babies were born there and countless friends-like-family made.  And yet, not long after Emelia was born, we began packing up the house we've lived in for the past five years and to the delight of our parents, siblings and extended family, recently moved back to Houston. Brandon is now the teaching pastor at Sojourn Heights, a church that has welcomed us back to the city so abundantly well and in our short time here has already become like family.  If you're in the area, please stop by and be welcomed in the same way.

Lastly, I will now be offering photo sessions in the Houston and surrounding areas as well as seasonal sessions in Dallas.  Please see the Upcoming Mini-Sessions page for details or contact me for future Dallas dates.

 

Ducks and Swings | Summer at the Park

If you take a peek at what I post most often, you'll learn one thing very quickly.  I photograph my kids often, usually while they're simply living their little lives.  And although I'm honestly not sure how interesting the pictures are to those who may be reading this, they are very special to me.  I get one chance to watch my kids grow up. One chance to pour into them the things my husband and I feel are important and know to be true.  Simply taking them to the park, talking about how God made all the trees and the bugs and the ducks is a responsibility I don't take lightly.  I've fallen in love with them and grateful that I've also fallen in love with photographing them while we explore the world together.

This particular evening began with a walk through the woods of a lovely little park near our house.  We brought animal crackers along as a snack, which soon became dinner for the ducks instead.


Then we finished up the evening on the swings, full of sweat, bug bites, and smiling faces.

Bum Eyes and Trolley Rides

Today marks 7 years that Brandon and I have been married.  That's roughly 2,555 days, not accounting for leap years.  A lot can happen in seven years, and a lot has.  A move to Dallas, completion of a seminary degree, the loss of three grandparents and two babies due to miscarriage, and the joyful births of two more.  Though we've definitely seen some difficult days, the good far outweigh the bad.  And sometimes we need the bad days to remind us and make us aware of the good.  I have much more to say about the sanctification that marriage and parenthood brings, but for now I'll save it for a future post.  

Instead, I'll share a few pictures from our family date night last week.  Our family has seen it's fare share of eye ailments over the last month, including styes, infections and bug bites {as seen on Eisley below}.  Somehow, I've been the only one unaffected.  We took the kids for a Trolley ride in West Village, followed by dinner and gelato.  And sometime soon, I'll make sure to be included in some of the pictures, rather than just taking them :0)