Celebrating TWO…and my First Home-Water Birth

Celebrating TWO…and my First Home-Water Birth

It’s hard for me to imagine, but this time two years ago, I was barely recovering from having my first HOME Water Birth Story session! Yes, me. I was recovering…from photographing it! To say this birth was eventful would be a huge understatement, as this birth was filled with so much peace, joy, love…and also worry, pain, and uncertainty. Our strong Mommy undoubtedly passed her strength and spirit to her incredible, brave, princess fighter, and through some tears and quite literally a “labor of love,” I watched as this life was brought Earth side. We started at my clients’ home, fairly late in the evening, maybe around 9 pm, but ended up at OU Children’s sometime well after midnight. Thankfully, God had His hand over this family the whole time, and I could not have been more thankful to be a small part of their amazing journey while growing their sweet family. Through the joys of having social media and especially Facebook, I have been able to watch this precious little one grow into now a beautiful little “wildflower” as her Mommy likes to say. I’m sharing today as I think of this child often, and am so thankful for her life and that I was able to witness the beginning of it. With the COVID pandemic taking over our ability to do normal, daily tasks, including various types of photography over the past several months, I have missed being able to meet and document our world’s newest blessings. And this birth was so very special to me, so sharing my love for Births and this Birth Story just seemed natural. 

Here are a couple of images from this special child’s amazing Birth Story, as captured through my lens. I love every image from this Birth Story. Documenting this time is truly an honor for me. To be there, in the room, present with Mom, Dad, the medical team, and of course, God, who makes this miracle happen. I’ve been questioned before about how I can document “births.” “Aren’t they…umm…”  … LET ME STOP YOU THERE. Births are beautiful. They are part of everyone’s story, and documenting the details couldn’t be more fulfilling to my soul. If you can’t see beauty in these images, my guess is that you have some preconceived notion of what you think birth is like, and not what it actually is. Because…just look at these! BEAUTIFUL. GOD. MIRACLES. 

Happiest of Birthdays to you, Eden! Thankful to have been among the first to meet you!

                             

 

xx, 

Shelby 

 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Not sure who all has hung in there with me through these last couple of “Renew:” blog updates, but this one should catch me up to the present! 

Last week, on September 15th, I had my 3 month post op check up with the amazing Dr. Derek Shadid. First, for anyone who may be considering any plastic surgery, I would *highly* recommend Dr. Shadid and his professional staff any day. He and his staff are truly fantastic, and this comes from a highly picky person! I’ve had quite a few inquiries on who I chose as my surgeon as well as why, and to be honest, it was several factors including professionalism of office staff, his location here in Oklahoma City, his education (GO HEELS!), and more…but it boiled down to one main factor. Him. He is polite, kind, spent plenty of time discussing my symptoms and concerns with me and didn’t make me feel like my concerns weren’t valid (like my primary care manager did). Also, his experience! Not gonna lie – I had a very long (like to the extreme) list of questions and concerns for him, but even before I could get to nearly all of them, he had covered the bases with me. I didn’t feel like a burden for my thoughts or that he didn’t understand my ailments. For anyone suffering with chronic illness and autoimmune disease, you know this is very, very rare. Also, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, April, was kind, understanding, and honestly helped put me at ease (hello, vulnerability). I also want to mention Leslie, the front office receptionist as well as Patricia, who deals with the financials. Leslie was beyond patient with my initial questions and did all she could to get me in to see Dr. Shadid in a very timely manner. She welcomed my persistent calls to see when a cancelation might pop up, and that’s how I was able to get in to see Dr. Shadid so quickly last year. She’s a welcoming face each time I have gone in, and working with Patricia to work through the financial aspect of surgery was also so easy because of her knowledge and kind personality. 

Okay, now on to the good stuff. My 3-month checkup! It went very well! I have been cleared for all activity, meaning that nothing that I do should hurt any of the surgical healing process. This is great news since really about a month and a half or so ago, I had already started to feel so much more like myself and have been working out more regularly. Nothing crazy – walking, mostly, but still more than normal for me. It’s still a little tender in there while doing certain activities – jumping on my trampoline, for instance – but overall, I’m mostly pain free. Dr. Shadid said that some of the tenderness and few slightly sharper pains that I may experience could be from nerves waking up a bit more, and that this is normal and I can work through the pains with massage. It’s nothing to be concerned with, however. During the appointment, one of my main concerns, which was discussed pretty much from Day 1, was the idea of a fat transfer. This procedure would be where Dr. Shadid takes fat from my back or wherever he is able, and both slim down that area and transfer the fat into the breast pockets. Although we all agree this procedure would lead to the most aesthetic option for me, I have concerns still over quite a few things, including cost and possibly continuing cost. Additional health concerns to include calcification? Long term effects? Fat dissolving into the body, requiring more surgery?? Sigh. I don’t know. Lots to absorb and think about, so for the time being, I’m going to be as happy as I can be with the explant. Women, obviously myself included, put way too much into their looks every day. I had no idea how many women changed their God-given bodies so much through surgery. Women that I know. Women that aren’t “out there on TV” or wealthy. Just…all types of women. I’m not against it, but I do feel it’s problematic about our society when so many of us aren’t happy with ourselves, especially when I look around at the women and friends that have had some work done, and they are and always have been so beautiful to me, regardless of procedure. It’s still baffling to me, since for so many years, I was ashamed that “I was the only one” who had “work done.” I had my reasons to justify, but apparently we all do.

Back to the idea of a fat transfer – this was on the radar from Day One because, as I’ve been very open about, I have pretty much zero breast tissue. Just wasn’t in the cards for me. That hasn’t changed through weight gain or bearing children who nursed. As I standing in front of April, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, extremely vulnerable for her to update my 3 month pictures, she could see my discomfort as I said that I was once again sorry for my appearance. As kindly as ever, she gently reminded me that I could elect to have a fat transfer to change that. She knows I’m hesitant for many reasons. After that super uncomfortable moment, I waited for Dr. Shadid and again, just like the first couple of post op appointments, he mentioned that if I’m unhappy with my result, I would be an ideal candidate for a fat transfer. I had secretly hoped that, like 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, I’d have been too skinny to pull fat from! HA! Not anymore. Maybe THAT’S the reason for my weight gain…totally kidding! I have some definite areas where he could get possibly up to half a cup size for each breast. I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it…though, the idea of having some unwanted fat removed does pique my interest! I’m truly glad to have my options, but also wonder why I feel such a great need to change. Anyways, aside from that discussion and talking about my incisions and their appearance (I chose a particular kind of stitching process that wouldn’t leave anything in my body but that also dissolves differently so the result is a little different), we ended with seeing each other in a year, I think. Actually, I’ll have to check whether it’s a year or six months…at the time of the appointment I was not planning on being here because of an impending move, but the move has been canceled, so now I need to actually process that!

OH! And, an update on my symptoms! Here’s a short list from my first BII post, which you can find here: Journey to Wellness

InflammationImproved 30+%
Joint Pain – Improved 30+%
AnxietyImproved (not sure on %, because this was a particularly stressful month)
Difficulty ConcentratingSlight improvement – 15%
Memory LossThis one I’m not sure on. Still not great, but that’s been the same since I was about 18
Brain FogImproved!! 50% 
Hair Loss – Improved – Hair growth visible, looks healthier
DepressionAgain, it’s been a rough month, but I believe until this past month, I did have an improvement. Not huge, but some. 
Mood SwingsNot sure, but I feel confident it’s improved. 
Shortness of BreathBETTER!! Improved 50% or more! I had no idea that my breaths had become so, so shallow. Just days after surgery, I could FEEL myself breathing deeper. Even if nothing else changed, this would have been worth it!!! 
Weight GainNot sure. Some weight loss since surgery, but I also did a juice cleanse for five days about a month ago. Unfortunately, I followed that up with a month of Starbucks and eating out. Sooo…between that and the stress, I did lose weight, but it fluctuates, and though less weight than before surgery, I’m not sure how much is from just that. 

I’m adding to this list: 

Chronic Fatigue – SO MUCH BETTER!! Probably 50%. Yes, I still get tired doing menial daily tasks, but what I haven’t done is lay in bed all day pretty much since maybe a week after surgery. Are there days I want/need a nap? Yes. But it’s not daily anymore, and even better, I’m able to exercise and walk without becoming short of breath and tired. I already know that my quality of life has been forever changed. 

One last tidbit before I end this update. 

I forgot that I had also asked Dr. Shadid about my ribcage and sternum, and how to me, they felt deformed. I feel like my sternum protrudes a bit while my ribs that were under my implants are a bit…concave. Yes, my actual ribs. I wondered for a while if maybe I was imagining this, but he confirmed that this was not an imagination, but that my body truly does now have a deformity. It likely isn’t going to cause any future damage or organ damage or anything, thankfully. That said, for anyone who has implants and/or for anyone who might one day consider getting them, PLEASE KNOW ALL OF THE RISKS. We ALL thought we knew going in to our surgeries for implants. I did. My friends with implants did. My new “breasties” (friends who have the same types of issues in various groups) all did. But we don’t. MY RIBCAGE IS DEFORMED, Y’ALL. Forever. I truly wonder if THIS is why back in 2011 I had my first bout of costochondritis (inflammation of the ribs). Was the weight of my implants over those 8 years what caused that? It wouldn’t surprise me. Even as I type, I can remember the feeling of pain in my right ribs, right under my breast, where I would have this terrible dull ache for months at a time. No rhyme or reason. No doctor ever told me that it could be the implants — which is CLEARLY marked on ALL of my medical paperwork. I still have some dull pains, and I expect that it won’t ever “go away completely”…but I doubt I’m doing anything now to make it worse (like harboring toxic, heavy bags in my breast pockets). This deformity may also be causing some of the issue with my appearance — if my ribs go in, it’s likely that the minuscule bit of tissue I have (pretty much zero, but still trying to humor the possibility) is also pulling in, and not having the normal protrusion like most women. Remember, I’m a LOT smaller than most, so those bags (they were small and only got me up to a B Cup) were still big and likely heavy for my frame. I worry for those who I know have much, much larger implants, and the pains they may one day have because of them. 

I really wanted to share this with anyone wanting the updates. I know that women in particular have benefitted from my openness and vulnerability.

As hard as it is, I am thankful that my story may one day help someone who reads this. 

xx Shelby 

**Picture from March, pre-explant. One day I’ll take some updated selfies, but it’s been a little crazy over here since the surgery! 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update
Updating with another post – this one is from two months post surgery, and the difference in lifestyle is so recognizable by anyone who knows me! Explanting was definitely the right decision, and though the struggles are still real, I know I am better off without the toxic, fake breasts taking away from my life. 
 
“Good morning!!
Quite a few people have asked for updates on my post-surgery recovery, and the results speak for themselves! It’s only been two months, and I swear I’ve been more physically active in this time since surgery than the previous four years combined. Yesterday I walked two miles, and this morning (before 9 am!) I walked 2.3 miles! This is in addition to some light workouts, as well as being productive through the day. A few months ago, I could barely get a mile in, and I’d be in bed for several hours after. It’s embarrassing, I know, but that was my life, for way longer than I care to admit. The relentless pain and exhaustion was truly that unbearable.
My pain level has decreased substantially, and while I fully believe my AS autoimmune disorder still exists and will continue to cause issues for me (my spinal pain and hip pains have decreased, but still very much there), I think my body is able to help itself more now that it’s not fighting off something that should have never been in there. I am curious about my Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue diagnoses — so many with BII have those diagnoses as well, and a lot of those symptoms have improved. Not 100%, but a big improvement for sure.
I haven’t really lost any weight since last month, despite my efforts, but I’m still feeling healthier in general. I feel I lost some inflammation immediately following surgery, and that was about it. I’ll be seeing a functional medicine doctor soon, and hopefully more things will improve over time and a bit more digging for answers. Physically, my post surgery wounds are healing well, and though I’m trying to adjust my self-perception and self-esteem, I *do* think it is possible there will come a day when I’m not so saddened by my appearance. Though, it depends on which day you catch me on how I’m *really* feeling. All that said, it’s still worth it.

Seeing all three rings closed yesterday was amazing, but being more active with the kids (i.e. I jumped on the trampoline yesterday…something I’d have thought would break my body a few months ago!!!) and being more productive regularly has been even better!! Continuing to pray for healing 💕

xx Shelby 

 
 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – June 3rd Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – June 3rd Update
I’m playing catch up, again, which seems to be my favorite game! I wanted to make sure these updates on my surgery are recorded somewhere other than Facebook, and are searchable for anyone who might be interested. I have had at least half a dozen women ask me about BII, and I am very happy to help in any way that I can. The biggest takeaway is that you are not alone!!
 
This post is from one week post op, so from June 3, 2020. My surgery was May 27th, so I wrote this about a week later.
I didn’t grab my selfie shot for this blog post, but in any case, you can get the gist of how my post-surgery week went! 
 
“It’s been one week since my surgery, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to say. In fact, this time last week, the recovery nurses and anesthesiologists were still trying to wake me up from my “narcoleptic” state (until I finally left around 10:30 – the procedure began around 1:00 and was about four and a half hours total). Literally, they tried waking me up for longer than the procedure itself 🙈 Every time I’d begin coming out of sleep, my oxygen would drop and I’d pass back out. I was on oxygen for a while and breathing treatments, most of which I don’t remember much about. The flashes of things I do remember amuse me though. I’m very grateful for the care I received from the recovery team (Gail, Jorgie, Dr Chris) and of course the patience that Jason and Amanda had while waiting for me, in the parking lot.
 
The week post-op has been really positive overall; minimal pain meds were used, and I feel more alert and have a bit more energy (which is weird to me since I’m on muscle relaxers around the clock and am healing intensely in my body). My first post op appointment was Thursday after surgery and my second follow up was yesterday. My drains were removed (hallelujah 🙌🏼). I’m bruised, obviously have a long way to go to “heal,” physically and psychologically.
I’m sure it doesn’t help that it seems I awoke to a world literally on fire and in <even more> chaos and disarray. My heart hurts for our nation and it seems like there’s no end in sight.
All that to say, I had so much peace about the surgery itself, going in to the surgery, and now will continue to ask for prayers for healing and peace over recovery – mine, and our country’s. It’ll still be a few weeks of relatively restricted activity, and obviously a lot of physical changes will also be taking place. I haven’t cried or even been upset, yet…so I’m hoping to keep it that way. 💞
 
Below is a quick before and after of one week ago to this morning, just in my face; I hate selfies, and no make up selfies even more, but I think it’s good to look back on and to share. A lot of women can do this before/after immediately after surgery…y’all I was a mess until Friday (I still have almost no memory of Thursday, much less have had the ability for a picture where I wasn’t zonked out) and honestly didn’t see the change others see. I had been feeling a lot of inflammation in my body, my hands and fingers, face, etc for a couple years, and from what I’ve seen in BII groups, this is a real thing. I didn’t see it by itself, but I feel there is a difference in my face when the images are side by side. Same bathroom and lighting, even though the before is brighter for some reason. Anyways, I’m thankful for the outpouring of love and prayers and all of the kindness shown to my family by friends! We’ve had so much food sent to us, as well as lot of people checking in and sharing their stories of BII with me.
Love and hugs to all, and if anyone has questions about #BII, I’m an open book.”
 
xx Shelby
 
Phone picture from my dear friend and surgery care giver, Amanda! So thankful for her time and energy spent on helping me get well and be with me through this time. 
Also, my Baby Yoda is a gift which was hand made by my dear friends, the Spiveys! My friend Shelby’s wife, Liz, makes them, and was a total surprise when they conspired with my husband to give him to me before surgery. 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness

Note: If you aren’t comfortable with complete transparency and personal issues, just skip this post! I’m very real, very honest, and this has nothing to do with photography! I wanted to share because I know others are struggling with similar issues, and no matter how personal, this is an important issue. Sharing might just allow someone to change their mind about how they feel about themselves now, or might open their eyes to possible causes of feeling ill. 

Today, April 9, 2020, was supposed to be the most freeing, anxiety-filled, yet hopeful day for me. What a mix of emotions, huh? A day that I thought about, prayed for, and is truly what made me come up with my “word” for this year, “Renew.” For some, this may come as a shock because before Covid-19 changed the course of all of our lives, I was going to be in surgery for a few hours today, and that may not seem like a sense of…renewal. So why did I think having an {elective} surgery would be freeing, and help renew me, body, mind and soul? 

What I know now, that I didn’t know 17 years ago, is that my sense of self-worth and self-esteem probably shouldn’t have come from what my external appearance is. Unfortunately, and I’m sad to say it, I am not alone in this. We are living in a world where our appearance seems like it’s everything, and we all want to do things to improve our external selves. From magazine article tips, to spa treatments, to laser therapies to invasive surgeries, we all want to look better. I’m not sure exactly how many want to improve their internal selves, but for me…I’m working on both, in different ways. 

Back to my need for surgery. Like many women, I had a breast augmentation when I was younger. I had gone through my teenage years wondering when my breasts would grow in, and alas, they never did. So, at twenty-three, after finding the love of my life in college and having him accept me fully and wholly for who I am inside and out, I still pushed the issue for me to have a breast augmentation, despite his concerns. I can justify my decision for enhancement out the wazoo — I was 4’10”, zero boobs, little self esteem on my facial appearance, and definitely had issues finding clothes that fit. I don’t care how many will jump on this and say it was/is easy for people “my size”…it’s not. And please spare me the, “you can always try kids’ clothes!” Just don’t go there. It’s not funny. Again, appearance does matter in our society, and my appearance didn’t seem to fit the mold of success nor beauty. I had the breast augmentation and after about 6 months, I finally adjusted to having them — it was amazing how well I could fit into clothes and feel more feminine. Dresses didn’t just drape down off of me, blouses fit my breast area beautifully, and I do feel I had more of a sense of confidence! I could wear (and enjoy wearing) bikinis for goodness sakes! 

Fast forward quickly to the present, before I jump back again to explain my ongoing health issues. After tons of research and thankfully having a friend take the time to express her deep concern for my health, and share with me her experience via message in February 2019, I finally, in July 2019, decided to accept what was probably there for about 10-15 years. My health had been in steady decline, and though others had brought it up before her, it finally sunk it that it’s at least a possibility that I have Breast Implant Illness. I don’t know for sure if I do. My case – as all things seem to be concerning my health – is different. I had started becoming…different…around eighteen years old (pre-implant). I had some negative experiences, and I wonder if either trauma to my body or just timing of my age and onset of diseases began. I’ll never know, and I’ll likely always wonder. Things started happening my freshman year of college that were out of character for me – I’d have tachycardic episodes, I had several situations where I passed out, likely because of the tachycardia, and depression set in, along with other ailments like stomach pains and extreme fatigue. Unfortunately instead of understanding and help, I was met with questioning and negativity from friends (like passing out with friends was…on purpose? Apparently it was thought that I was attention seeking, instead of dealing with a medical issue. Sigh.). It was a couple of tough years.

Thankfully, time moved on, I continued a relationship with my now husband, and with his support through the drama that my body caused for me, I was able to live somewhat a normal life. And to be completely transparent, my husband never wanted me to get a breast enhancement. Truly. Very bizarre in my mind, but he absolutely loved/loves me for me. He’s always complimented my beauty and never wanted/wants me to change. So, we married, he started making a steady income, and I wanted to change my appearance. That should have been a red flag – face palm! I love you honey…thank you for putting up with me! So in 2003, I got my breasts augmented, and despite hating them for 6 months, I wound up loving my appearance with them. Those dresses fit beautifully now. I felt like a woman. Life seemed great. Minus occasional ER trips for stomach pains that had no known origin, then chronic fatigue syndrome (did y’all know that to combat that, I should get a night job? That’s according to a military doctor, and sadly that’s not even the worst advice ever given), then a fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2006, and then a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2016. Plus fun tidbits like costochondritis, occipital neuralgia, iliosacral dysfunction, a cataract at 38 years old, and honestly the list goes on. And on. It hasn’t been easy, and although it’s been a unique road to travel for my husband, he has supported me and my lack of ability to truly “work” (unless it’s on my own schedule) for necessary income, and he supports my feelings and how I wish to proceed.

I don’t know if I genuinely have Breast Implant Illness. But here are some things I do know: 

I suffer from autoimmune disease
All of my issues revolve around pain in my body
The pain has increased in intensity over the years
My chronic fatigue is debilitating 

Some Symptoms Include (not an exhaustive list):
Inflammation
Joint Pain
Anxiety
Difficulty Concentrating
Memory Loss
Brain Fog
Hair Loss
Depression
Mood Swings 
Shortness of Breath
Weight Gain

Breast Implant Illness symptoms all correlate with what is going on with me

Even if it’s not BII, I want to renew myself with a sense of purpose this year. That’s what I told myself in January. I want to be intentional in how I treat my body. I want to renew the thoughts of my mind telling me my appearance matters that much to everyone else. Seriously, I used to apologize to people for having to look at me. I know I’m not the portrait of beauty in our culture. But I dwelled on that and kept trying to correct it in ways I could. So now, I want to be the kind of beautiful that people like to be around, because I’m good. I’m generous. I’m ridiculously loving. I’m not super fun, but I want to be, and hopefully, even if I have 10% more energy, this surgery will be worth it. I want to be better for my kids. I want to be better for my husband. I want to be better for me. I want to be renewed. 

So, whenever it is that our country opens back up to being social again, and to having elective surgeries, and to having some sense of normalcy again post Covid-19, I will be ready for this *huge,* sort of defining moment for my life. For now, I’m going to mourn what should have happened today, while still realizing there’s a reason it couldn’t happen. God’s always got this. The next surgery date is for May 27th of this year, but obviously all of that is tentative.

And, for anyone wondering, I do worry about having the surgery and it not helping my symptoms. I do! My PCM doesn’t even believe in BII (another face palm), and thinks that despite all of my symptoms, taking out man made toxic bags won’t help anything (and that the breast pain I have is…not real? Like, I’m imagining it). She might be right – not about imagining my pain, because I assure you it’s there, but that I might not feel better. Or maybe my surgeon who does believe in BII is right, and maybe a small percentage of my wellness will be improved. We’ve discussed at length how this surgery may not help my symptoms because my case is different – my symptoms were starting before my implants. But, here’s the thing. At the end of the day, God didn’t make me with those silicone toxic bags. I wasn’t even a Christian when I awoke from my implant and felt that I had disappointed God by changing my body that much. I felt “wrong.” I am hoping that with the explant will come a sense of peace over who I am, who God made me to be, and at the end of the day, will also eliminate the possibility that my pains and heath ailments come from man-made implants that shouldn’t be in my body. 

More on Breast Implant Illness to come. 

And, a huge shout out to Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole. What a truly remarkable group this has been in uplifting one another, sharing stories, and truly trying to promote wellness. Without this group, I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to take this necessary step. That, and to my friend who went out of her way to share with me in February of last year – you really got me thinking seriously about my illnesses, and the possibilities that may lay on the other side of explant. Thank you all for sharing your stories, your hearts, and your beautiful scars – all to help us recovery from this illness. Healing is possible – and soon I’ll join you on the lighter side. 

xo

Shelby 

*Picture of me, from my 40th Birthday Session that my daughter captured for me! 

Blogging Again? …. Maybe

Blogging Again?  …. Maybe

Hi! 

I get it. It’s been a while. In fact, unbeknownst to me until this very moment, it’s been a YEAR since I’ve last posted! Where has the time gone? 

Well, here’s a bit of an update. And possibly why it should matter.

Last April, 2018, my husband was deployed and was gone for 374 days! Crazy, right? Well, in that time, I was taking care of our two kiddos, ensuring that we attended all of our end of school events, enjoying our summer vacation…and then the craziness of our school schedule returned! Seriously, I have two kids, but the amount of extracurricular activities they enjoy is insane. Karate (x2, two days a week, and one was on the tournament team last year), piano (x2), gymnastics (competition team, 2 times a week, and then meets), band, archery, golf, academic team…and I’m confident I’m missing something! And, I love it. I love watching my children grow in their chosen activities, whether they are “good” at them or not! That said, I was left with little time for “me” (my undeniably bad health issues) and my photography growth. 

Fast forward through his return in May of 2019, and my husband came home, we went to Europe on a Disney Cruise (AMAZING! I’ll post pictures one day…and maybe even do a blog post!), and….then he moved to Washington DC. He was home 1.5 months total between his return and his departure. Have I mentioned lately how much I <<LOVE>> the Air Force? Note the sarcasm. And, although *some* time away is nice – because, let’s be honest, the running joke with our friends is that the pain in my neck is actually a long-term chronic illness called “being married” – working on a second year without a partner in the home to help me raise our kids, to help with things like home maintenance and bills, and to just be there for each other and to enjoy each other has been difficult. Manageable, thanks to an amazing tribe of friends, but nonetheless, difficult. I actually really love and adore my husband, and he’s my other half. It’s pretty tedious going through life without half of yourself. I miss him. But right now, this is our calling – him to be there for the Air Force and his country, and for me to be here for our children. 

I’m pretty verbose, and condensing anything is rather tedious for me! So, to sum up, it’s been a long year and a half or so, and thank goodness I’ve received a swift kick in the caboose from some AMAZING friends! MY TRIBE! I’ll discuss my tribe more later and the significance of me being able to say that, so be prepared for that upcoming post. So, even though I’ve not done nearly as many sessions as I’d like over the last year (still grateful for each and every client who enjoys working with me for my style and vision), and even though I’ve lost some confidence in myself because of this, they won’t let me continue the negative self-talk. In fact, I have at least four friends literally on a mission to help me in any way they can (life, health, kids…all the things) but for this post’s purpose, they’ve been steering me back on course with my photography goals. And although I’m afraid of failure, they have faith in me. And with that…here I am. Blogging for the first time in a year. 

What’s in store for my clients? New sessions, in studio! Up next…Fall Sessions, Halloween themed sessions, and …Christmas! 

What could be better than all that? Christmas WITH Santa! It’s totally happening! 

Want a sneak peek?  

I thought so! Check it out! 

 

 

The Harry Potter-Themed VP Campaign

SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-6  

I know, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been back to share some of what’s going on with my family and with my photography! Things have been a little busy around here, and truth be told, that’s a good thing.

I’m jumping back in to sharing with a few personal images that I thought would be fun and hopefully a little inspiring for your children. My Sweet Caroline is amazing, intelligent, funny, and talented. That said, she’s also *very* shy. I guess I should say that she has been very shy…over the course of the last two to three years, I’ve seen this child blossom in front of my very eyes. She’s been trying new things (karate, karate tournaments, school dances, joining school clubs, etc), and she’s learning to excel in all of them. Not to say she started out amazing in these things, and I dare say she may never actually “dance” for you or anyone else. Ever. But…she went to a dance, twice. THAT’S HUGE, PEOPLE! Here’s proof! Two of these are social butterflies that I am so thankful are in my daughter’s life!

Well, the new school year started, and with that came every Mother’s fear of the dreaded years in “middle school.” Let’s be honest, I know of no one who thought those years were great. But, as with most things with a blanket statement like that, my kid has proven otherwise. She came home from her first day at Brink Jr. High and she said she “LOVED IT!” She commented that she loves the freedom that comes from her teachers instilling more independent procedures for them, that the teachers talk to them like they aren’t small children, and that they are actually challenging her. It may help that she’s chosen (on her own…because this Mommy is still a little nervous about pushing her too hard at this level) all Pre-AP courses, and one course that even already counts for high school (Pre AP Algebra I). Y’all, it’s crazy hearing the teacher say in orientation that we need to know that this is High School level work and expectations. She’s still my BABY! Right? Okay, so maybe not, but in my heart she is, and the last thing I want to do is put too much pressure on her – in 7th Grade. But my Bug welcomed it. And though it has proven challenging (YAY!! She’s actually *truly* LEARNING new concepts for the first time since being in Oklahoma) she’s enjoying it and hasn’t wanted to back out of any of it.

When my historically *shy* child came to me telling (not asking) me that she was going to run and campaign for Vice President (the highest she can run for in this school at her grade level) I was a bit shocked. And proud. VERY PROUD. I understand the difficulty it is for her to be up in front of people (most of us have that fear…but for her, multiply that by like a zillion), and she knew she’d have to give a campaign speech – in front of her classmates. Remember, she’s a military kid – she moves around and has only been here for two years. I imagined some of the kids being here their whole lives and feeling more comfortable with being in front of their friends (though, it’s a huge school for anyone!). Anyways, she and I brainstormed things that she could do her campaign around, and there are a few things in this world she LOVES. 1) Reading 2) Reading Harry Potter 3) Reading. And if there’s a fourth, maybe watching Harry Potter. Soooooo, as someone who isn’t *as* in to all of the HP fanatical stuff, I asked if there were things that she could build a campaign around. She immediately came up with a few slogans, and then after hanging out with one of her closest friends, they came up with all of the ideas for her posters and all of the slogans, and even part of her speech!!! She was really excited. A few days later, with the help of two friends, she got her posters finished, her posters put up in the school, and her speech was given. And, I did some praying. I did a lot of praying. Is that silly?

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I’d love to say that my little girl won the Vice Presidency, but alas, the democratic process spoke, and the candidate that was essentially pegged to win, won. He had a crazy awesome speech, and is very well known and liked by all (I was also informed that the cheerleaders would all vote for him…because he’s cute). We were pretty sure this would happen, but I didn’t know how my daughter would handle it. She did great – she congratulated him, and she was happy to know she’d still be in Student Council as a “Senator.” And that she saved her *good* ideas for being able to share them herself at meetings. That girl has a very level (and clever) head on her shoulders!!!

Here are some of the pictures that she took for her Harry Potter-Themed Campaign for Vice President. I couldn’t be more proud of her – and I am so excited to see where her life takes her! Oh! I should add that she was thrilled to find out that her ideas were completely original and not already on Pinterest!! Originality and creativity for the win!

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This one might be my favorite, though I really like the Sorting Hat one above, too!
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We also had a really good lesson on product placement during her campaign…

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This may not have been the best poster for this particular location 🙂
Am I the only one who thinks that?!

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Anyways, thank you ALL so much for reading this, and for those of you who cheered my girl on and who pray for her on a regular basis…thank you. I don’t have enough words, but she’s a huge blessing in my life, and I already know she is one to others too. She’s come so far, and each day I see more of her personality coming through. I know a lot of people struggle with their children having some issues or different-abilities…just as mine do. God has so much more in store for them and for all of us — we just have to trust Him and the path that he sets us on with our babies.

Blessings,

Shelby

 

 

 

Birge Family – Deployment Homecoming

It’s May. To be specific, here in the United States, it’s May 7th. I say that with the knowledge that currently, so many service members are on the other side of the world, in different time zones, in different climates and vastly different environments. And I am grateful.

I am grateful for families like the Birge Family who went without a husband and a father present in the home for months; and thankfully back in March, he returned to his family, with their arms opened wide for him. I don’t take these words lightly — I know he was always there for them as he could be. But I also know firsthand the struggles that come with being military spouse with babies in the home. Having that extra set of hands is a huge blessing, and I know he would have been there in a heartbeat if he could have. But, you see, he is part of our military, and he had a greater calling, to sacrificially serve his country. And he, like so many others, has done this so well, and still let his loved ones at home know how much he misses them.
Now, this family has been amazing. As military members, as clients, as fellow military spouses…sweet Ebilene and I just clicked! I’m so thankful for not only her cheerful, supportive attitude and presence amongst other spouses and service members, but also for her huge heart and patience. Spouses like this keep the military community running on energy, love, and commitment…not just to the country, but to one another. Our service members are amazing for all that they do, but one would be amiss to miss the work of the ones they leave behind. 

As this family has been super gracious about things that have been going on here on my family’s Homefront, I decided I had to thank her in one of the only ways I think I can…which is going a bit above and beyond, just as she has for so many in her company. If you have a couple minutes, check out this beautiful video, created specifically for the Birge Family to document this beautiful time for them! 

Thank you for your service and your sacrifice! 

Blessings Always,

~Shelby 

Favor Real Estate – Company Headshots

When you live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, it’s very likely that you’ll run in to some of the kindest people…even if it’s just out and about doing errands, at Kohl’s! 

After we chat over a few items and then our military backgrounds, we were comfortable enough to share each other business cards, and out of that came a beautiful friendship and these updated portraits for this sweet couple! As always, very honored to capture moments and images that families will love, as well as to update some business photos as well! 

Also, you can find these images at Favor Real Estate…talk with the Peterson’s if you are interested in an awesome property management duo to help your real estate needs! 

Oklahoma City Lightning – One Stormy October Night

All of these Lightning Captures were taken on October 4, 2016 in Oklahoma City, OK. I have somewhat of an obsession with lightning, and trying to capture in a single moment all of this incredible power, light, and beauty. The particular evening, the lightning show was amazing.

One day, if there is interest, I would love to do a full tutorial on how I capture these gorgeous lightning strikes! I’m sure, like my pictures show, that there are many ways to go about setting up for these, but after taking dozens of lightning images, I think I have a pretty good system so far, but, like many photographers, I am always learning!

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