personal

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

"Do I look pretty, mom?"

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This morning she asked me, like she does so often now, "Do I look pretty, mom?" She was adorned with a headband borrowed from my bathroom drawer, a hair-clip she found on her bedroom floor, a pink eye patch, crooked glasses and a smudge of lip gloss.  Every time she asks, my heart breaks a little because I know that one day, someone will inflict wounds upon her with their words.  Someday, she will look into a mirror and see flaws.  She will grow up in a culture that has a standard of beauty that virtually no one can attain.  So I bent down, cupped her face in my hands, looked her in the eyes and said:

My precious baby girl, you were made in the image of God, according to His standard of beauty.

Jesus loves you.  Daddy and I love you.  We will always love you.

You are beautiful.

As I stood up, I began to think about a blog post my husband wrote a few months ago titled "My Daughter's Beauty".  {You can read it by clicking here.} In it, he gave a list of practical ways we, as her parents, will shepherd her heart.  We will tell her that the Lord created her with blonde curly hair and deep brown eyes, just the way he wanted her.  We will give her affirmation,  attention, and unconditional love, just as the Father has loved us.  We will teach her that while man looks at the outer being, God looks at the heart.  Where she hears whispers of unworthiness, we will scream the truth that she was created in the image of a God who is worthy.  We will pray that she hears the words we say and that the Lord grants her faith to believe them.

Then it occurred to me--sometimes I need to be reminded of those very same things. Maybe you do too.  So today, just for a moment, close your eyes and picture God bending down, cupping your face in His hands, looking into your eyes and saying saying to you:

My precious daughter, you were made in MY image, according to MY standard of beauty.

I sent my Son for you.  I love you.  I will always love you.

You are beautiful.

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)


Diaper Cream | Friend and Foe

Perhaps there was a bit too much giggling coming from their room.  Perhaps I was naive to think their laughter was the result of tickles and other sorts of friendly sibling play.  Perhaps I should have peeked into the room just a few moments earlier than I did.

Because as much fun as they were having, and as funny {and cute} as it was, there is a purposeful use for diaper cream and use as a hair styling product is not it.  You see, the purpose of diaper cream is to block moisture from the skin--it's really quite helpful to keep a rash at bay.  However, it also means that it is nearly impossible to wash out of hair.  It's like it was just sitting on top of Easton's head as he sat in the bathtub, laughing at my feeble attempts to remove it with baby shampoo and a comb.  And although it was a battle, I do proudly proclaim I won.  That little boy is now sleeping soundly with a clean head of hair.  It only took about 30 minutes and 20 rounds of shampoo to accomplish.

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It was one of those moments when I just had to laugh, grab my camera and take a picture because this is one of those "someday it'll be funny" sort of things; maybe not today, but someday.  Like, maybe tomorrow.

Consider the Lillies

"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."  Luke 12:27

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In college, one of my absolute favorite classes was Botany, the study of plants.  To this day, I can still quote some trivial knowledge I learned in that class, like, an almond is not really a nut--it's a drupe, in the same family as peaches, cherries and plums.  Throughout that semester, we also dissected an onion and learned about the reproductive anatomy of flowers and pinecones. Now, while to some that may seem like a less-than-thrilling way to spend a few months of time and tuition money, it wasn't to me.  I think part of the reason I was and still am so enamored by the science of plants is because of my understanding of the one who created them.  Not only did God make sweet fruit for us to eat and fragrant flowers for us to smell, he also created them with great, small, beautiful detail.  Details in which Science is still trying so desperately to wrap it's head around.

So each season we get these little gifts that bloom.  Like, right now, the lilies that I bought last week are still sending their sweet aroma all throughout my house.  I step outside and can smell my Jasmine vine that's just started to bloom as well.  These are all small reminders of a infinite God who gives good gifts to his creatures. The God who sees fit, not only to create pretty things with great care for us to enjoy, but who also sent the sweetest gift possible in Jesus.

Lately, life around us has seen much heartache.  Nothing that has directly affected our family, but somewhat constant reminders that the world is truly, deeply, broken; in desperate need of a Savior and longing for his return.  But, even in the midst of sin and sadness, the Lord gives us glimpses of his character through small things like flowers and enjoying them makes the difficult weeks a bit more bearable..  And I'm thankful.