Full of Light

December 15, 2014

Who Stole Christmas Performance

I’ve had so much on my mind and so many things I’ve been wanting to share. This has been an incredibly, even unbearably intense time right now. Between my age and all that comes with it (I’m feeling every year of it), this stage of life (being the throes of senior year / college apps with my oldest daughter) every day life has been overwhelming. Finding the time to write about it feels impossible. Or perhaps writing about it might make it all feel too real. Whatever the case may be, life moves along, with it’s ups and it’s downs, it’s challenges and it’s triumphs. With that, I must say, I am so grateful there are always moments that are so wonderful, so filled with pride and joy that they break open my very being and fill me with light.

“And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.”

After watching my brave baby perform her own solo in front of a theater full of people, I know exactly how that feels.


September 8, 2014

Disappointed 2 by Tracey Clark

My daughter has been anticipating the first day of Middle School since the day after her promotion ceremony from elementary school. Days, weeks, months of excitement and suspense that led to a day last week; Middle School, day 1. It started like the other “first days” of the past with a new outfit, new backpack, and big smile for pictures in the front yard. It seemed to have ended well too, as my daughter enthusiastically rattled off every detail she could recall about her day on the drive home. But, a few hours after we got home, she walked into my office with tears in her eyes. When I asked her what was wrong she shrugged and sobbed, “I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would…as much as I hoped I would.”  Ouch.

As it turns out, above and beyond just being totally freaked out and uncomfortable with navigating a new everything (routine, surroundings, friends, teachers, etc.) some girl she didn’t know said something terribly cruel to her at the end of the highly-charged first day and she couldn’t shake it. She assured me that it wasn’t just the comment that was upsetting her and although I recognized that it was a big part of her reaction, I knew it was the experience as a whole that overwhelmed her.

Plain and simple; the unknown is hard. Transitions, shifts and changes of any kind are really challenging and emotionally charged. At any age. At every age. There’s no guarantee that when we make a move, start something new, or take a risk that we’re going to be happy. Or excited. Or satisfied. Especially at first. And especially when we’ve built up this “amazing” thing in our minds and filled our tender hearts with so much expectation and anticipation. We’ve all experienced that kind of disappointment.

Gladly, we’re only a few days in and already these things—worries, reactions, emotions—are balancing out. I hoped they would. As did she. But even with that, I haven’t stopped thinking about my daughter’s initial teary and disheartened response that day…

“I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would…as much as I hoped I would.”

I marvel at her ability to be so honest and vulnerable in the midst of her disappointment. I’m proud that she could articulate and express it so clearly, even through her tears. Sometimes things just don’t work out like we hope they would. Truth. Thankfully, there are times when they turn out way better than we could have ever hoped and although that might be a practical (and awesome) consolation, those things usually reveal themselves after time and in hindsight.

Right now, I’m just taking away what I learned from my daughter, in hopes of following her lead; that sometimes a big disappointment just warrants a good, long cry.

A Year From Now

August 4, 2014

One of my favorite recent portraits of my daughter. She edited the shot, captured by her dear friend.

The title of this post has been swimming around in my head for the past few months. It hit me sometime during the week my daughter came home from high school with news of where her senior friends were deciding to go to school. “A year from now.” I thought, “my daughter will be deciding where she will go.” Gulp. Since then, I have been thinking of all the different things I want to write on the subject and have been planning to compile the perfect post. When will I learn that the perfect post never comes? There’s never really the perfect words at the perfect time. Instead, it’s almost always quite the contrary. The words come (perfect or imperfect, depending on how you look at it) when the emotions bring them rushing to the surface. And, as I’m sure most of us have experienced, that never seems to be the right time, let alone perfect.

A few days ago I caught the title of a post from Cathy Zielske in one of my social media feeds; “How am I Going to do This?” and my heart got caught in my throat. I knew exactly what she was writing about. I know that she’s got a daughter, just a year ahead of my own, getting ready to head to college. I didn’t read the post that day. I waited. Until about a half hour ago and I can hardly pull myself together. And now, of course, I must write because the words have come with the emotion, just like they always do. The irony is that we’re having my in-laws over in a few hours to watch the college tour slideshow and I should be making the coleslaw. Timing is everything.

As for the perfect things I wanted to say about all of this right now, that’s not happening. Not now anyway. I’m still a year out after all from seeing my daughter off, but I KNOW how fast this next year is going to go and with this summer being all about the great college hunt, it’s been on my mind almost all the time. It’s been on all of our minds around here. I guess, more than anything, just want to document it. I just want get it down in writing that I’m scared and excited and nervous and eager all at the same time. For her. For me. For all of us.

Despite the inevitable tears, reading Cathy’s post (and so many thoughtful comments from other moms) comforted me.  It’s soul soothing when you’re reminded you’re not alone; especially in transitions, uncertainty and bittersweet mama moments. It’s so helpful to read words of those that go before you so that you can gather inspiration and courage and arm yourself with wisdom and truth as you walk as graciously as you can through the parts of motherhood that can both fill you with joy and break your heart (often at the same time). I will carry Cathy’s mantra with me this next year and will certainly cherish our family time together, but will also keep in mind that what comes next for my daughter will be hers to claim;  her story, her adventure and her life. And I of course will have the honor and privilege of cheering her on from here, pom-pom in one hand, tissue in the other.


Blogust 2014 : Happy and Healthy Firsts

August 1, 2014

Dr Visit

It’s that time of year again! The time where your comments (and shares and likes) are currency, quite literally. I believe it was the bright and beautiful Liz Gumbinner who coined that phrase 3 years ago (brilliant, yes?) and that idea was the impetus for Blogust; the inspiring and life-changing project created by Devi Thomas supported by the entire Shot at Life team and brought to life by bloggers like you and me. I can’t begin to tell you how much of an honor it is to be an “alumni” of Blogust, having the pleasure of sharing my story on Aug 10 2012. A story, not unlike all the others shared by the Blogust team, where each comment someone shared actually translated into a vaccine for a child who desperately needed one. A simple comment gave a child the shot at the healthy and happy life they so deserve.  And so the torch is passed.

Today, August 1st, I’m thrilled to announce that myself and all the other alumni are kicking off Blogust, round 3 with posts and Instagram pix and a Twitter kickoff party (Aug 1st 1pm ET- Join us)!  Blogust is a blog celebration where each day of August, a new inspiring blogger shares a story about the happy and healthy firsts that they have experienced in their own lives. Follow along each day and leave your comment on each post to be sure you’re contributing to the cause. It’s an important one. And all it takes is a comment to donate a vaccine (thanks to the help of Walgreens). It’s that easy.

In honor of the theme, I wanted to share a window into my world of happy and healthy firsts. Of course, when I think of that phrase, my mind immediately goes to moments like “first steps” or “first tooth” or even “first day of school”. I’ve long passed those milestones with my girls and am grateful for every one. Ironically, the firsts don’t end there. They just keep coming. And regardless how grown up my babies are getting, these more grown up firsts still feel as huge, as exciting, as monumental as those precious early firsts (if not moreso). And with that, I want to share just a few of the images that I was getting in real time via my oldest daughter’s instagram feed just a few weeks ago. Her First College Tour Road Trip. Happy and healthy, as she maps out the course of her bold and brilliant future.

College Pix on Instagram

How amazing is that? Be still my mama heart.

OK, I shared mine (sniff sniff) now you share yours. How about it? Leave a comment here today sharing your favorite “first” to date (or just to say hello) and in exchange, a child will be vaccinated.

Thank you


During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000).  Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world. 

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visitshotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, let’s get this happy and healthy party started!

A Story about the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

June 23, 2014

On the eve of my departure for the Disney Social Media Moms On the Road event in Phoenix, I thought I’d post a little Disney Story featuring some highlights from the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in April at Disneyland.

Needless to say, there were some magical memories made!

I’m looking forward to more moments filled with magic over the next few days in Phoenix where I’ll have the honor of sharing some photography tips and tricks with the attendees (squeeeee!).  I can’t wait!

Wanna create your own Story? Download the free Disney Story photo app. It’s super easy and so fun!

On Growing Up

June 16, 2014


I have started a million posts lately and have yet to finish even one and yet, because I so desperately want to get something down, I will at least start with this image. It’s one that takes my breath away. And it prompted me to at least try to share my thoughts.

June is always a challenging month; busier than the holiday and more emotionally charged. June means transitions, milestones, and endings. June brings a change in weather, attitude, and outlook. June is the start of summer and at the same time is the end of all that the other seasons brought. It’s the end of quantities known and the beginning of so much unknown. June is excitement and reluctance, anticipation and hesitation, exhaling and holding our breath. I suppose it’s no wonder that it’s been difficult to write about it. And because this June brings an end of an era (my baby is promoting out of Elementary School and into Middle School) it makes it feel even bigger than usual.

With each passing year I feel the intensity of what I call the push and pull get stronger. I see my girls both wanting to grow up and become more independent while at the same time both looking over their shoulders, making sure they don’t get too far ahead. Making sure I’m still in sight. They push me away, I want to pull them back. I push them along, they pull me back.  Sometimes I am filled with happiness about it all. Other times I feel so heartbroken. And so it has gone since they were babies.

I came across this quote thought of no better way to express the emotion of it all. Leave it to The Wonder Years to say it better than I ever could.

“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what’s to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn’t have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves… for growing up.”