Another year…..

This is something I will always write about…..because it had such a great impact on my life.  Another year will come and go…..without my baby sister.

I’ve talked about her before….we lost her a couple of weeks before her first birthday from meningitis.  It devastated our family.  She would be 29 this year…..and it’s just one of the really weird things that line up for this year…..

I was 10 and in the 5th grade when she passed away 11/9/1990.  I remember the day….it was a half day at school on a Friday.  I was excited to ride the bus home without the high school kids…..we got to sit in the back when they weren’t there.  This year…..my oldest daughter is 10, in the 5th grade, and has a half day this friday, the 9th.  Crazy, eh?  She was also named after my sister, her middle name is Rebecca.  And just a little bit of a stretch….I had Hailey a couple of weeks before I turned 29…..    I can’t help but look at my daughters and the relationship they have with each other.  I’m so extremely thankful I had all girls…..because I missed out on having a sister in my life.  I love seeing them together and knowing they have something so precious.

And at this age……I can look back and see just how many “sisters” I have and had in my life.  They always say that if you can find just a few close friends in your lifetime you have been extremely blessed.  I can say that I’ve had so many amazing women in my life that I can call sister….and even though I still feel heartbroken over the fact I didn’t get to go through life with mine….I’ve had so many women to step in and help fill that void.

So in this anniversary month where I remember my sister, I also count my blessings.  I have 3 beautiful daughters who will get that sister relationship, and I have so many beautiful friends that are like sisters.

Katie 🙂

 

Summer Vacation!!!

I know I’ve been missing…..and it was intentional! I’ve literally not had a summer off since junior high….like most people….and it was amazing!  I was able to spend time with my kids, be lazy, have a garage sale, and finally recuperate my poor brain from all the abuse of the past few years!  I needed this….and I think my family needed me to have this!

I’ll keep this short….no one needs all the details of my amazing summer!  I’ll share some pictures and leave it at that.  School starts for my kids tomorrow and we are all getting back to a routine.  I’ll start up my blogging again…..it’s like my back to school time too!

Katie 🙂

 

Summer Life….

As I took a minute to sit and catch my breath…..I realized I’m a little behind on posting here.  Life has taken over and taken me away……but I’ll be back 🙂

Our family is planning a yard sale, and the weeks since school got out has been filled with camp, and busy schedules, and sorting the crap in our house to sell to other people.  I’m REALLY hoping this weekend is finally it, and I will welcome strangers in my front yard to go through my things and hopefully they will pay me money to take them home.

I’m tired and ready for my house to feel less chaotic…..but just wanted to put something out there that I’m still here…..just buried under life right now 🙂 And almost any free time we have…..we’ve been spending at the pool!!!!

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As always, if anyone ever wants to reach out, I’m always open!  If there is anything someone wants me to touch on when I finally make my way back…..let me know that too!  Just shoot me an email 🙂

But for now…..I’m going back to the boxes and getting this done!

Katie 🙂

Let’s Talk About It….

There have been two very public people who recently lost their lives to suicide.  And yes…..I said lost their lives.  They have made public a very real issue in our world, one that is still so hard for people to talk about openly.  There are so many misconceptions about suicide and mental illness.

I used to be that person.  The one who thought you just had to snap out of it, and you would be fine.  That taking your life was just a coward’s way out.  I thought all of this even after I had my own time of crisis my first year in college.

I truly thought if I snapped out of it and everyone else should be able to do the same thing.  Then life hit again…..and it got bad again, and I couldn’t just snap out of it.  I found myself falling in to myself…..deeper and deeper.  Life was crazy around me and it helped me fall further…..until I actually had to get help.  Mental illness runs in my family.  Depression, anxiety, and I’m sure other undiagnosed things.  I truly believed that you only had to change your attitude and you could be fine.  I also had people all around me telling me…..just count your blessings…..you are better off than most…….you are stronger than this.  Those are people who just don’t know and have never experienced it.  Or they are like me, and don’t know yet just how bad it can be.

Going through cancer and living with my new normal life after gave me a new perspective on life.  Life is complicated, difficult, heartbreaking, and just so damn hard.  And sometimes you just can’t help the way your mind works against you.  When I was going through therapy a few years ago, I told her about something I heard that made it all click for me.  Your brain is another organ in your body…..and just like your heart, or liver, or any other part of your body…..it can get sick.  And when you get sick…..you treat it.  Sometimes your mind truly plays against you.  It doesn’t mean you as a person is bad…..but your brain is sick and makes you think some terrible things.  Some people never get over what their brain is telling them and it becomes overwhelming.  And your brain will tell you that you don’t need help.  Overcoming those thoughts to get help is one of the hardest things……and I will never again look at someone to dies by suicide as weak or as a coward.  Something is wrong and they never got the help they truly needed.  This is controversial!  There are people who strongly believe they are cowards and selfish.  I used to be that person, even in the midst of my own personal trials.

You know when a person you love isn’t well.  You can tell they are different, changing, or in a bad way.  Sometimes you have to be the person they need…..the person who steps in and helps them realize they aren’t alone and they need some help.  Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness.  And getting help can literally be life or death.

NO ONE IS ALONE!!!!!!  Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help, ask for a listening ear, lean on those that are willing to be there.  We have seen recently just how deep those feelings can go, no matter how successful you are,  loved by the world you are, rich you are, or strong you think you are…….this hits everyone.

My heart breaks for those who didn’t realize it didn’t have to be so hopeless……but I also have a better understanding for those thoughts that are hard to fight.  Honestly…..I struggle daily with thoughts that creep in and I know what I need to do if they become to overwhelming or strong.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you feel lost, alone, and hopeless.  I may not have the perfect words or solutions…..but I’m a willing listener and supporter.

Katie.

Milestones

I’ve been struggling this month, facing the reality that my baby is no longer my baby.  I’ve been seeing all these milestones she is passing….and they are the last time any of my kids will pass them.  It’s making me all weepy and I feel like a crazy cry baby.  It’s so freaking hard to look at her and not see my youngest little baby girl.  She is now a sassy, smart, and too big for her own good kid.  On her way to kindergarten.  Ugh!!!!!!!

I posted recently about my struggle to be come a mom, and how blessed I am to have my three amazing daughters…….and that was the start of an emotional rollercoaster that I can’t seem to get off.  MY BABY ISN’T A BABY ANYMORE!!!!!  None of my girls are babies anymore….my oldest is starting act a lot older than I’m ready for her to be!  And even though I’m so happy to be in this stage where they don’t need me as much……I find myself asking……why don’t the need me as much?  I’m all over the place with this!  I know I’m not the only one…..but this is making me feel crazy!

I’m so happy for my baby as she graduated from preschool…..but I’m not so happy that she’s not really a baby anymore.  I know……just wait until high school graduation.  I have  a few years to go on that…..but if my blog is still up at that point…..you will get the same post about my teary eyed self with much older babies 🙂

Katie 🙂

Every Spring….

Every fall I find myself feeling the same way I did when I started chemo.  That nauseous feeling….just that general uneasiness that came with putting poison in your body.  Without fail….every fall…..I’ll have that feeling for a bit.  The same thing happens in the spring….but for a very different reason.  Every May I would find out I’m pregnant…..and morning sickness would come with it.  I have 3 beautiful daughters….so looking back it wasn’t so bad, but my 3 miracle daughters didn’t come easily….and the journey was also filled with heartbreak.  And it’s crazy….that I can actually show the timeline of my pregnancy journey with pictures from when I would go to relay for life.

I was given the go ahead to try for a family after my 5 year mark.  I wasn’t sure how it would go, there were no guarantees…..but we would try!  I had gone in to menopause during treatment, but seemed to come back to normal when it was done.

The first time I found out I was pregnant…..I can’t even describe the excitement we felt!  Like all our dreams were coming true and cancer hadn’t done anything to me!  We were beyond thrilled and even put together special ways to announce it to our families.  We were making plans, going over names, dreaming of the future.  It was just perfect.  But I should have known…..life had already shown me what happens when you think everything is perfect and nothing can go wrong.

I was extremely happy to tell my oncologist’s office….this was their victory too.  This was a big deal, and they were also so happy!  When I attended the Relay for Life that year…not only did I get to celebrate with all those people from the office, but hear my oncologist speak! He’s a brilliant man and he even made a little comment about me….of course didn’t mention my name….but it meant a lot.  The pic below is the moment I realized he was talking about me.

 

Sadly……that day…..I miscarried.  It was ironic that it happened that day…..and it was beyond devastating.  I figured I’d done something wrong….no matter what the books said…..I was sure I did this.  Why would something like that happen after all we had gone through?  It was so extremely unfair and heartbreaking.  I don’t know what our families did with the items we gave them to announce our good news….but thankfully I’ve never seen them again.  We actually tried again really soon, got pregnant, and miscarried again that same year.  Then I took time off.  It was so hard to prepare my heart for the possibility of losing another baby.

So we waited.  Until the year our first child would have been born.  Like I said….we never had any trouble getting pregnant.  It was keeping the pregnancy.  We found out that my progesterone was not staying high enough during the first trimester.  So they put me on a supplement.  A magic pill that “kept me pregnant”.  That’s how it felt, and let me tell you…..that is the only pill I’ve ever taken regularly and not missed a day.  It was hard to stop when they told me I was safe…..and I took them until they ran out.

So my third pregnancy….I was so scared to go to Relay.  It’s funny how you associate things or circumstances with what you have gone through.  The irrational part of my brain was sure that Relay was causing me to miscarry…..I KNOW THAT IS CRAZY!  But….you know how it is.  So yes….I was terrified and actually went to the bathroom every five seconds (it felt like) to make sure all was well.  This is us that year……along with my amazing oncologist and his also amazing wife…..the medical team that saved me and cheered me on!

 

And in February 2008 we welcomed our miracle baby to the world.  It was a journey that was so difficult, heartbreaking, devastating, and overwhelming.  I know that we are extremely blessed to have the outcome we did….not everyone is as fortunate.  img_2035

Getting to bring her to Relay the year she was born felt like a huge victory! Like laughing in the face of evil cancer……like….here she is.  We did it.  You didn’t steal this from me.  That survivor lap was the happiest one I’d taken since my first.

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We were blessed with 2 more daughters along the way, and even though our last was never part of our Relay life, (as we stopped attending), it was special to be able to bring our girls to the event and celebrate the entire journey and the way life has turned out.  I didn’t know if I would survive cancer.  I didn’t know if we could have kids.  I didn’t know if we would be able to have our own kids.

Everything we have gone through has shown us just how precious life is.  How blessed we are.  Every single day with these dorky crazy mini versions of us is just pure happiness!  We just celebrated Mother’s Day…..and admittedly I had to stop and cry when I typed that.  I’m so extremely blessed to be a mom….my girls are the most amazing and beautiful thing that I’ve ever had a part in creating…..and even though my journey to becoming a mom as so hard…..I can look back and say it was so worth it.

 

Katie 🙂

Getting Back to What I Love

Almost 2 years ago I started a whole new adventure.  I left my job of 13 years and started working with Komen Michigan…..my dream of helping other people affected by breast cancer.  That job took up so much of my time, I had to put my other love on hold….taking pictures.  Photography has always been my outlet…..my escape.  I love waiting for, and capturing the perfect shot.  I love exploring and sharing beautiful images with other people.  I’ve always loved it and found it to be a way to handle life without drinking 😉

I tried so hard to keep up on family and wedding photography while spending all my nights and weekends traveling around the state like a mad woman.  I finally had to make the choice to put it all on hold for a bit…..possibly a while.  When I left Komen last year to be home more with my kids I figured I could step back in to it.  Crippling migraines and reality made me realize that time was still an issue, and I just couldn’t justify the time away or the time spent editing quite yet.

My jump back in has been very small.  I’ve had some very loyal people keep asking….but my confidence has been lacking.  My first major “job” was with the ever amazing Taylor Winnell…..her mom and I are great friends, and Taylor is going to be a famous country singer some day.  I’ve taken tons of pictures of her, even for her cd release a while ago.  I couldn’t resist getting back with her and the feeling I got was just what I needed.  She is beautiful and we get along so great…..it was amazing having that again!

This past weekend I had the AMAZING opportunity to take the wedding photos of my sister Amber.  Now…..Amber is my sister by heart…..but I love her to death and it was such an honor to be asked.  Amber is one of those people who is genuinely the nicest person you will ever meet.  She has a heart of gold and has become a huge part of our family.  My daughters love her, and they were asked to be flower girls 🙂  She moved to Utah for a job a while ago, so this is where she got married.  I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was, and getting the chance to take wedding photos there? Yes…..I felt like a kid in a candy store!

It was the push I needed….I felt so comfortable behind the lens again.  I will never put myself up there with the photographers I admire……but no matter what….this is what I LOVE to do.  Good or bad….it’s where my heart it.  This is also the reason for the “lens” in Rosy LENS Life 😉  A little pink, a little photo, and a lot about loving life.

Also…..a huge congratulations to the amazing Ben and Amber Toomer. They are beautiful together and I’m so excited to see what they do in life together!

 

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Katie 🙂