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Monday, December 27, 2010

{A Cozy Christmas}

Blake's choir singing for Grandma at Canterbury
A well deserved nap!
She's taking a hint from nana...
Our colorful fire
A midnight snack
A family tradition

Papa watching the Wings

Merry Christmas ...
 from some very cute little reindeer!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2 Little Lines

I have been composing this post for a few weeks now.  Mark and I have been keeping a secret from you.  In some ways it feels sneaky and fun, knowing that once we share, you can't "unshare" it.  On the other hand, I don't think I've ever lied so much in my life, and I am looking forward to finally coming clean.  Early morning a few weeks ago, I stumbled to the bathroom and quietly unwrapped the test.  While everyone slept deeply, I stared at it.  Blinking the sleep away, I decided to walk away and come back to make sure it was real. 

Two Lines.

Over the next few hours and days my mind started running through all the enormous things those tiny lines represented. 

It means there will be another place setting at our table. 

It means our house will be filled with laughter and noise for years to come.

It means C-man will not be the baby, and my niece will have a cousin to play with. 

It means God has granted me the longtime wish of the full family my Grandma was blessed with. 

It means we will have one child beginning middle school, one 4th grader, one kindergartner, and one infant. 

It means this will be my last ticket on this roller coaster ride called "pregnancy" and I promise to embrace every moment, every kick, accordingly.  Feel free to remind me of this.

And Mark would tell you that it means I finally got my way.  (He would also tell you that this is not anything new) I love even numbers, and have talked about 4 kids since the day I started dreaming of my family.  However, as the thunderous gallop of the baby's heartbeat echoed through the dark ultrasound room, a whoosh of laughter and surprise came from that calm cool fellow, who insisted for years that if God wanted us to have 4 kids, He would allow it. 
 I realize that some of you may think we are absolutely nuts, and some days I would probably agree with you.  But I can hardly wait for July 2011 to round out "Team Peterson" at a solid 6 members. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I love this picture...

wow.  somehow I captured it.  the love, tenderness, and instant connection between an auntie and her niece.  just thought I'd share to make you all warm and squishy inside. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Patiently awaiting Papa's arrival.  He's headed up north to the "cabinet" (his word for Mio cabin) for the rest of the week!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

{etsy love}

I'm a huge fan of supporting businesses that are run well.  Customer service is #1 priority with me, and I will go out of my way to keep people in business who really care about their customers.  I have ordered many items from "Brag About It" and been very happy with her work.  Recently I had to update my SIL's brag tag with her newest addition, and Melissa was so wonderful to work with.  Naturally, I want to share with all of you, so you can start your Christmas shopping {crazy, I know but Christmas Eve is exactly 2 months from today!} She is a true artist and her pieces are just precious.  Here is an example of her work:


Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

{mini sessions}

Hello everyone!  I realize it's been awhile since my last post.  We have been battling the flu bug around here which has put a huge damper on my creativity!  As things begin to settle down, I have gotten time to be thinking about my clients and looking forward to this weekend... Sunday I have booked an entire day of mini sessions at a local park, using the beautiful fall colors.  This will allow many families to get a jump on their Christmas cards this year.  I want to offer an extra little "diddy" for those who have signed up... A customized Christmas card!   Here are two layouts that I will offer for no extra charge. 

These layouts will allow you to print any amount you want at home or a photo lab for the price of a normal image! (around 15 cents at Costco!) Wowsa!  IF you signed up and would like to work with another color scheme or layout, I can create whatever you have in mind for a small fee. 

Have a happy day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

because I just have to.

Today I moved my grandma from assisted living across the parking lot to the Alzheimer's unit.  My mom needed help sorting through her clothes and hanging pictures on the wall. I never gave the chore a second thought, as it is just one more thing to check off my to-do list.  I had no idea what an impact this chore would have on me.  I came home to hurdle myself in to my husband's arms. Needing him to remind me that right now is special.  We are blessed.

As we started through her closet of clothes I couldn't help but think of the life my grandma has led.  The journey that has taken her through finding the love of her life, raising a family, and now leading a very different, quiet life.  One that only requires a bed, two chairs, and a closet of clothes.  Her roommate Betty was watching quietly from the other side of the room, making sure I wasn't packing up any of her things while the oxygen tank hummed in the background.  Every once in a while, when I didn't recognize an article of clothing, I would hold it up for her to see and she would smile and shake her head.  Suddenly Betty broke her silence "I'm sure going to miss her."  As her sentence broke off sharply, I turned to see her body shaking with sobs.  She covered her eyes and I walked to her bedside.  I realized that grandma is still touching people with her kindness and connecting with people even in that small nursing home.  We talked a little about how wonderful Joanne is and how this move really is the best thing for her.  I assured Betty that no, grandma won't think she had to move because of her.  And yes, you will still get to see her. 

As the movers were loading the larger items into my grandma's new room, I wandered over to the building where my mother had told me my high school french teacher lived.  Madame is also a victim of Alzheimer's, and as I crossed the parking lot, I couldn't believe how time has flown, how it could be possible for such a brilliant mind to fade?  I was buzzed in by staff and greeted by an ancient gentleman who's glasses kept slipping down his nose.  The staffer turned to him and, pointing at my 4 year old "Look John, isn't he cute?" John stared at him, and the staff person put a finger up to slide John's glasses back up again.  Carter and I wandered over to a table where there was an equal number of staff and residents and I immediately spotted Madame.  I walked to her and introduced myself.  "I'm Amy.  I used to be in your french class, and we went to Paris together."  She smiled and gave a small giggle.  I spouted off some of the sentences I had memorized all those years ago and she gave me a look that assured me that she understood what I was saying.  The other women marveled at Carter and wanted to know if he had started nursery school yet.  A woman who told me Carter had my nose also advised me to get him in school, it's good for him.  I said goodbye and felt a tug at my heart remembering Madame and all the people she invested in throughout her teaching career.  How many lives she touched, and she can't account for any of it now. 

I was buzzed into grandma's building and saw her at the table, playing Yahtzee with her new neighbors, and a handful of staff.  Grandma turned to me and Carter and gave us each a hug, whispering "they can't make me play".  I don't think she knows who I am anymore but somewhere deep down I hope she realizes I'm family.  As they took turns shaking the die,  3 people would nod off , sitting straight up, mouths slack with sleep.  The staff jovially moved from person to sleeping person rallying them to shake the dice with a song or even a dance.  Another staff person walked in slowly escorting a frail old man, eyes weeping, mouth wide, maneuvering his stiff body into a nearby chair. Then she wiped the sides of his mouth with a cloth.   I left grandma to check out her new, smaller room.

As I unpacked grandmas clothing into her new closet, a woman came bursting through the door.  "COME HERE. " she bellowed at me.  "Come see this.  You won't believe this." She gestures toward her room, "come ON!"  I follow her obediently and she continues into her bathroom.  I follow the woman into her room, wondering what could be so awful that she had to summon me, a virtual stranger in to her bathroom.  "Look at this." she shook her head gesturing to an empty medicine cabinet.  "They took it.  All of it.  Can you believe it?  Ugh, that's it.  I'm going to call my son and I am leaving here.  That. IS. IT." So I politely took her by the arm to find a staff person to report this terrible crime.  As we walk down the hall, she glances down at Carter seeing him for the first time and her expression softens.  "I had all boys, and then THEY all had boys.  No girls in the family.  Just boys."  She shakes her head sadly.   We reported the crime, and the sweet staff person did not look a bit shocked.  She reassures Martha that her room had been locked the whole time and nothing was missing.  She took Martha's arm and walked her back to her room, and I got to hear the story of Martha and her first car, a corvette from her dad.  She tells me she was pretty spoiled by her dad because she was an only child, but she got good grades, so that makes it okay.  I really think I'm gonna like Martha.

I know that this is the cycle of life.  And on every other day, it's easy to digest the changes that come. Right now, I'm having all these feelings bubbling up and I just needed to write it out.  Name each one just to clarify. 

1.   Awe.  The people who work in nursing homes are angels.  They genuinely love their patients, and I'm sure they don't get paid what they deserve.

2.  Sadness.  Life is short. I'm so afraid I'm missing it.  I have to remind myself daily to listen to my kids.  To play with them. 

3.   Hope. I don't want to be forgotten.  I want my life to glorify God in great ways and leave this world a little brighter when I'm called home. 

4.  Compassion.  The people I met today are inspiring and wise.  We need make time for them.

5.  Humor.  I can only imagine what I will look like at that age.  But I'm hoping I can keep some of my spunk.  Just like Martha.


I have been composing this blog post in my head for several weeks.  As it all unfolded, I knew immediately I had to share it with you.  I was in Clarkston shooting family photos, in addition to individual pictures of Miss Haley.  While I was snapping pictures, I joked and played trying to get the biggest smile possible.  I enlisted help from mom, knowing that she would know the best way to get the smiles we needed.  Mom glanced at me and asked "Are you ready?" I answered "yes" then "wait....ready for what?" I have to laugh now because all I had to do was peek through the lens and click away while she revealed her secret.  Here is what Haley looked like at this point...

Mom begins... "Tomorrow you are coming with me and your friends to see JUSTIN BIEBER IN CONCERT!!!!!!"  Here is the play-by-play that occurred in the next 60 seconds...

Add in a couple "ARE YOU SERIOUS??? , "I DON'T KNOW WHY I'M CRYING!!!", and a bunch of bouncing to what you see here and that was the scene... I am so honored that Jill chose to do this while I was there.  These pictures are absolutely priceless.  And hopefully they will help her remember every emotion she was feeling at this moment.  Anyone else have a story like this one?  One that you will take out of your memory bank, dust off, and cherish just as Haley will with this one?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

{almost} missed moments

Miss M decided she needed to learn how to rollerblade.  All her friends know how and she just couldn't bear the thought of showing up to the rolladium tonight wearing regular rollerskates.  This is a tough spot for someone who doesn't take direction well.  It ends up looking a little like this...

{note to self-- clean the door ASAP!}
Shortly after turning down my services as skating coach {can't say I blame her, but it hurt just the same}, I caught a glimpse of something wonderful out of the corner of my eye.  One of those beautiful, unprompted, sweet moments that I prayed wouldn't end while I ran to grab my camera. 

I caught it.  Just in time. 

Big brother spent about 20 minutes patiently helping her to learn, hand in hand.  With no arguments.  {big sigh of relief}
Hoping you get the chance to catch a moment like this today!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

{Coming Soon to a hospital near you}

I sing to her the ABC's whenever I can. 

I marvel at the miracle.

I love her already and I haven't even met her.

I can't wait for her to change our lives forever. 

She's almost here. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Guest Blogger Takes Over!

In April, Amy Peterson graced my family as our photographer for a family gathering.  My father had just turned 70 and it was just a couple months before my parents' 46th wedding anniversary on the 4th of July.  My dad always said he married a firecracker!  At that gathering, Amy captured this photo of my dad tenderly smooching my mommers' nose.  This photo captures much.

It has been said (and sung) that a picture is worth a thousand words.  I may use that many to describe some things to you, as I give you a testimonial of the value of Amy's incredible eye for photos - at least to me and my family!  In January 1982, my mother (I call her Mommers) was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had her first mastectomy on my 12th birthday the next month.  In some ways, I am ever grateful that I can never forget that particular date.  It marks for me the extension of my life with my Mommers.  In January 1990 she had a recurrence.  In January 2004 she was hospitalized with a collapsed lung; the fluid around her lung contained breast cancer cells.

In the years since 2004, Mommers has battled through multiple surgeries, through numerous chemotherapy treatments.  She saw me marry the love of my life (who happened to have been the boy next door growing up) and become a mom to Vincent (4) and Verona (2).  This past January, her cancer markers increased significantly; it was spreading - and it was already in her sternum, ribs and liver.  The night that my dad called to tell me this news, I called my siblings (who both live out-of-state) and asked them to come for Easter, Dad's birthday, and to see Mommers without having to say it was a trip to see her.  This gathering marked the last time we would be together, as our YiaYia (Greek for grandmother, my mom's mom) passed away in May.  I had the forethought to ask Amy to capture these moments.

This photo I've posted is one that has touched so many.  My dad immediately asked me for a large print of this when I first showed him.  A stranger once likened it to the work of Annie Liebowitz (I immediately called Amy to tell her this).

Last week, my dad asked my sister - who has taken more than a month away from her own family and life in North Carolina to come and do the important task of caring for our Mommers as she has entered Hospice care at home - and me to go with him to the funeral home at which he has pre-arranged a funeral for the love of his life.  He wanted our help in choosing a casket.  As we were shown around the facility, he saw a woven throw blanket that had a picture of a couple - the funeral director's grandparents.  She told us that this was something they did for the family.  My dad turned to me, eyes welling with tears, eyebrows lifted in a hopeful manner.  I knew instantly:  he wanted this photo to be crafted into such a throw.  It would be the enlargement he wished for, and it would also be a way for him to wrap himself in the love they have always shared, to hold his wife after she leaves this plane to join God - restored, in perfect form.

This photo meant so much to my family and me when Amy captured it and we saw it for the first time.  It has come to represent the growth and depth of my parents' love.  It reflects their tenderness.  It shows my mother's beauty, even with all the battles she has faced for nearly three decades.  I am grateful to have that captured, commemorated.

I'm grateful to Amy for inviting me to be her guest blogger to share my thoughts.  Perhaps you thought you were going to read some scandalous story from a mystery person hacking onto her blog.  I am grateful to those of you who took the time to read what I have shared.  You have participated in my therapy as I try to come to terms with the challenges of learning to let go so that we can all Let God.  Kiss your loved ones.  Share your feelings.  Embrace the moments...and even find the way to smile through sadness.  My Mommers recently asked me with a voice stronger than she should have right now, "Please don't cry."  I'm going to attempt to honor her request right now...

With gratitude, JuliAnne Pardon Diesch...Amy's guest blogger on 21 August 2010.

Monday, August 9, 2010

a post to celebrate {love}

In honor of my parents' 35th anniversary, I would like to dedicate this post to LOVE.  Don'cha just love love???

the dictionary would define love as:

-a profoundly tender passionate affection for another person

-a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection

There are many different kinds of love that can completely change that definition; infatuation,  romantic love, unconditional love {the kind that I don't deserve from my heavenly father}, puppy love {a certain teeny bopper idol comes to mind}, maternal love {you know the one, it can turn an otherwise sane woman into a grizzly bear ready to attack in 0.2 seconds if her child has been hurt in ANY way} , brotherly love, tough love... just to name a few. 

Even within the same relationship, love can evolve and look different at different ages and stages of life.

And since I'm a visual learner and you may be too, here are a few images to bring my point home. 

Happy Anniversary to you, mom and dad.  I love you.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

this summer...

As the summer days get shorter and back-to-school ads dominate the TV, I begin thinking about whether I have accomplished all that I had planned with my family...

There are days where I want to put off laundry for the 57th time (who needs clean undies when you can wear your bathing suit all day?)  and just gaze into my baby's shiny green eyes framed by those tangled, dark lashes...

Walk past the piles of papers (and COUPONS) just to help Miss M print up yet another picture of Woody for her to hang in her room. 

Or just plop down on the couch with my world famous cuddler, and try to say something to make him giggle that infectious giggle he has.  He's going in to FIFTH grade this year.  stop.  just. stop. the. ride.

Then there are the days that I want to lock myself in the closet. 

They are the days that I count down the hours until hubs walks through the door.  And bless his heart for never saying a word about the piles of clothes on the couch, piles of dishes in the sink, unpacked bags from the farmers market, a sticky floor, a dog in time out, an edgy wife who hasn't even thought about starting dinner. 

Even on those days I thank God for the beautiful sun, take a deep breath and look forward to tomorrow because it's bound to be better.

Whats left on my list?  Soaking up those quiet moments, staying patient through the chaotic ones and remembering to cherish my time with my babies because it's flying by.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Know what I love?

I love it when I get the privilege of photographing people who have been in my life for years.   It's so easy to catch the real 'candid' moments because I know what I'm looking for.  A few weeks ago I headed north to take pictures for some very good friends.  I had the added bonus of being able to photograph in one of my favorite places on this earth...   Lake Leelanau.  Here's a few glimpses of my visit...

Friday, July 16, 2010

{Family Moments}

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu