If you’ve been following Cate’s journey you will love this news; Cate has rung the bell at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin signifying her scans showing No Evidence of Disease! Cate has beaten back her cancer and is ready to resume her regularly scheduled life! At her bell ringing ceremony her mom took the time to thank all of the people who did big and small things to help their family through this challenging season. She held Cate’s Beads of Courage, a really cool tradition of collecting a bead for each instance that required her to be brave; a big needle, a scary scan, a trip to the ER in the middle of the night. She talked about how each small moment of courage in the face of fear were just that; one small triumph. But when you string them all together into the incredible chain Cate has collected over the last nine months you really see how much she’s been through and how much she has accomplished. It’s the small triumphs, strung together. She spoke of how their community came around them, not just in the grand moments, the big gestures of help, but in the small, sometimes unglamorous moments like the sister-in-law that cleaned out the family pantry or the family that mowed their lawn all summer or the friends that showed up with meals or rides for Cate’s brother or just a text to say “I am thinking of you and praying for you.” When you string all those little gestures of love together you have a chain that can surround and support a family through a dark and challenging time. That day they all gathered to ring the bells of celebration for Cate’s amazing news.
Yesterday I taught my first photography class to a group of local moms. As part of my lesson I wanted to capture some real-life moments of a real-life family; bedhead, naked butts, bad lighting and all. So I showed up, coffee in one hand, camera in the other, to my dear friend and neighbor’s house. She had no warning. She was, luckily, out of her PJ’s when I arrived. When I got home and started sorting the photos I felt like my heart would explode. I’ve watched Laura go from a newlywed to a mama, twice, with her third now on the way. I have watched her transform and grow into a great mom. She is real. She makes mistakes and yells sometimes and wants to pull her hair out. But she’s also amazing and fierce and wonderful. Watching their little family grow has been so special to me. Gah, I am such a sap. I love you, Laura!
Feeling tired, grouchy and uninspired, I really struggled today. The weather in Wisconsin right now is just UGH. Not the cold, because it really isn’t, but the DARK and the lack of snow. Sigh. I stepped outside, trying to “see the joy” in my world. I took photos of some plants, blah. I noticed my son’s homemade fixie bike leaning up against the woodpile on our front porch, his choosen home for it that drives me crazy because, honestly, this bike is ugly. He built the thing from scraps from the trash and a bike frame from my childhood ten speed; hello 1988. He rides it all around town, to school every day. Just everywhere.
Lately the fragile beauty of life has been front of my mind and heart. I have been struck by this desire to photograph all the beauty and life and love I see all around me. My friends, their babies, my babies, strange babies I see on the street. I want to capture it all. To commemorate all that is lovely and dark and painful and joyful and wonderful about this journey called life. I sound like a sap, I suppose because I am being one. I simply can’t help it. Maybe it’s my upcoming 40th birthday or the realization that our parents are growing older or the true adulting I am seeing in my first born offspring or the loss someone I care about has endured that I have helplessly watched from a distance. It’s likely all of those things and more. Whatever it is, it caused me to reach out again to a friend of mine whose 9 year old daughter has been battling cancer since last summer and was about the complete her final round of chemotherapy. I wasn’t sure she would want to, or would understand my desire to commemorate this challenging time, but she understood exactly what I meant and jumped at the chance to have this moment in time, this most beautifully painful, boring, hopeful, exhausting journey, forever captured in photographs. It feels like an honor, a privileged, to be allowed into this sacred and private place and time. Thank you. We will continue to pray for you, Cate the Great!
Nora, 8 months old. “The first weeks of breastfeeding were challenging and painful. I tried to do everything “right” – keeping track of when Nora nursed and for how long and working diligently on her latch. At her two week doctor’s appointment, I found out that she she was still losing weight and was absolutely heartbroken. I immediately sought help from lactation consultants at the hospital where she was born and even saw a pediatrician who specialized in helping breastfeeding moms. We had to supplement with formula for a bit, but I worked so unbelievably hard to increase my supply. Ultimately, I learned that the best thing I could do was trust Nora – she knew exactly what she was doing and would let me know when she needed and wanted to nurse. I’m still on medication to help maintain my supply and will continue to take it until she turns one (as it it costly), but I wouldn’t change our breastfeeding relationship for the world. Nursing has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and has allowed me to have the most amazing bond with my little girl.”
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