So hard to believe that our youngest daughter is 5.
I just asked Keith, “what do you love most about Gabby?”. His answer, “What I love most about her is what drives me the most crazy!”. She is not wishy washy, she is passionate, she is full of extremes – and most of them will melt your heart. She is full of hugs, and laughs, and tears. She wears her emotion on her sleeve and is just so honest and precious, caring and loving and frustrating all at the same time. She is just so lovable.
When I was snuggling with her this morning in bed, I was laying there thinking about what I love most about her.
I just love her.
I love everything about her. She is priceless in so many ways. There are times I wish we could just squeeze our kids and not them go and hope they stay exactly the same: beautiful, sensitive, intelligent, sweet little girls.
Happy Birthday Gabby.
I love my kids more than anything else in the whole wide world, but every once in awhile I feel overwhelmed raising them. There are times when I am impatient or tired or think life is challenging. But then I try to put it all in perspective and realize that these frustrating moments are fleeting, just growing pains for Keith and I as parents and Isabella and Gabby as kids. This is stuff every parent goes through at one time or another. And some parents go through so much more.
A recent email reminds me of how lucky we are. These tiny little blips in our family life are so inconsequential to what some family’s grapple with on a daily basis.
A few years ago, Keith arrived at a family portrait session – 3 children and their parents. The kids were just adorable. As he was having fun photographing them – the parents mentioned that their little one, Henry had a debilitating condition called mitochondrial disease. The little guy could not eat solid food – he was fed through a feeding tube. “In his first three years, Henry had 12 surgeries and procedures, dozens of diagnostic exams, over one hundred doctors’ appointments (with over a dozen specialists), hundreds of physical therapy sessions, taken several medicines, and the list goes on. And, of course, he had (and has) gear. He has a feeding pump, a nebulizer, feeding tubes and other stuff, an IV pole, bags that depressurize his stomach, a back pack to carry his pump, leg braces, and . . . . You get the picture.”
That’s about the time Keith took the above photo of Henry.
Since that time, Henry’s older brother has also been diagnosed with the same disease. Yet somehow, the parents have found the strength to start a foundation called Henry’s Hope, adopt another child (2 of Henry’s siblings are adopted), write a book called Three Candles and help other family’s with children that have life-threatening conditions.
The email was from Henry’s dad – just keeping us up to date on the family and sending us a link to the Three Candles website.
Talk about putting it all into perspective.
As my children grow, I often wonder what my strongest memories of their childhood will be. So many things happen every day. Days turn into years and before you know it, they will be grown up and gone. Off on their life adventure. When I look back on their childhood, what will I remember? What (if any) character traits will have been with them from birth to adulthood? How will their beautiful faces have changed as they turn into young women?
I don’t keep a diary (oh, how I regret that!) – so I haven’t written anything down. When did Isabella first walk? What was Gabby’s first spoken word? How did we fill their days? Will I remember that Isabella used to call the remote a “merote”? Will I remember that Gabby used to line up her dinosaurs like a conga line? Just how little were they?
Photography helps bring me back to these moments, the moments that define their childhood and their personalities.
There are two photographs from a few years ago that succinctly remind me of who my children are. Each photo takes me right back to the memories of that age and how each of their personalities has remained pretty much the same.
One photo is Isabella when she is 2, standing in front of the Roseclif Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, with a brown and black leopard print fleece sweater and jeans, standing their in the cold annoyed that her dad is taking her picture. So annoyed that she makes a pouty face that has never changed – she makes the same exact face every time she pouts. She may be five years older and have grown a few feet, but that pout is exactly the same every time she breaks it out. Even she laughs when I point this out to her, she looks at the picture (it hangs over Gabby’s bed) – and she recognizes her pout.
The photo of Gabby that I’m thinking of is her having a meltdown in her bed. She is about 18 months old, in her pjs and she is just screaming and crying, so mad about something. Keith captured the image during the tantrum. It reminds me of how all or nothing she is – whatever she does, she does it 100%. And that includes her love of life, her enthusiasm for hugs and kisses, her sweet and generous giving self as well as her ability to do a 180 in a matter of seconds. That photo captured her personality perfectly!
And now, I have this beautiful photograph of Gabriella to add to my favorite and most revealing photos. Gabby was at the park, riding her scooter and became frustrated. Who knows why. She can get frustrated at the drop of a dime, with no warning signs yet she can meticulously build an intricate lego set for hours without getting frustrated, that’s her – how I cherish the dichotomy.
Thank you Keith for the beautiful photos. I love that I can remember exactly who my children are.
Can you think of a personality trait you have had since childhood, what is it?
A charity that we love to donate our time to is The Girls Rule Foundation. Girls Rule is a local Phoenix Charity that creates life changing programs for girls ages 13-18. Such an important time in a young woman’s life!
As a woman with two young girls, I know the importance of empowering girls. My mom was such a strong role model, I hope to follow in her footsteps and instill a strong sense of independence and self reliance in my little girls as she did for my sister and I. Not all young girls are so lucky. That’s why an organization such as Girls Rule plays such an important role in guiding these girls through the difficult teen years.
Please watch the video from this past weekend – Keith had some very good company – lots of women making a difference.
Girls Rule is an organization that provides educational programs that empower and inspire girls in four main areas: how to find happiness within when the world says the opposite, how to be accountable for their own greatness to make wise choices, how to build their self-esteem instead of depending on boys, drugs or peers, and how to become their most brilliant self by learning mapping skills that will powerfully build a step-by-step plan for their future.