I was totally honored and thrilled when Spanki asked me to come be a guest speaker at her Austin workshop in May. I've "known" Spanki online for about a year and we don't live that far apart, but we've never had a chance to meet. What a fantastic afternoon!!!! My only regrets were that #1 it was TOO hot and #2 it was TOO short. I was sad I couldn't stay longer and hang with the girls...we were having so much fun shooting in downtown Austin. was awesome to finally meet you and you are just as beautiful and warm and energetic in person as you are online. I truly hope we can work together again in the future, my dear!
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She is very much herself. She expresses her artistic side through her outfits and accessories. I imaging she was a lot of fun growing up, mom ;-).

Now she's getting ready to graduate high school and start a new chapter in life. It makes me equally happy and melancholy for both her and her mom. I remember how incredibly exciting this time in my own life was, but I also can't begin to fathom getting to this point with my own children.

We managed to find a LOT of color in the most unlikely places this evening. Tired of going to the same places, I decided we should explore an area I hadn't been to in years. It was fun to see it through fresh eyes!

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On this day, we were fortunate that...

1. we were even able to find a parking space
2. we had live music to accompany our session (see #1)
3. the light was perfect
4. the wind didn't carry us away and
5. her mommy was there to help with the bubbles
6. this girlie can do cool tricks
7. we could celebrate her senior year with a fantastic photo session!

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I adore the fact that she brought along some of her record collection for her senior portraits. I adore the fact that she even *has* a record collection...and some great tunes, too! And goodness, she is a lovely girl! Just radiant and confident!
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This is a long one. Grab a cup of coffee. Okay.

About 15 years ago, I was a young, naive college kid and had just landed a job at the Office of Student Activities at my university in Corpus Christi. It was there I met Tracey (gosh...did I really meet Tracey 15 years ago?). She was married, had a young daughter, and was kind of like my older, wiser big sister. I'm not sure Tracey will ever know what she did to guide me and show me the ropes as I was becoming a young adult. She listened, she led by example, taught me a great work ethic, gave great advice, reminded me to stay focused, and helped me through my boy troubles (I later married that boy ;-). A couple of times, she would bring in bags full of her old clothes for me. Tracey was (still is) so stylish and those bags of clothes were like treasure chests to me. I was going to college full time, almost 1,500 miles from the place I called home and I didn't have family close by. I was working and on student loans just to pay tuition, rent, and to make ends meet. Those clothes meant the world to me. I'm getting choked up just remembering.

Tracey also gave me extra jobs here and there to help me get by. One that stands out the most to me was when I watched her then 5-year-old daughter and her new baby brother for a weekend. Well, I tried to make it through the weekend. I ended up getting really, really sick and at about 5 a.m. the first night/morning, I was curled up in their downstairs bathroom, my head in a toilet, trying desperately to keep the room from spinning and to figure out how in the world I was going to survive two more days of this AND care for two young children. And it was there Darrow found me. She was still in her nightgown, she had lovely blonde hair that framed two of the biggest blue eyes I had ever seen. She was (still is) so angelic. Darrow looked at me and then at the toilet and then she said, "Here. Take this," handing me a trash can. "Mommy says when I get sick, I need to use this." I still giggle thinking of how "helpful" she was to me that awful morning. 

And then, fast forward a few more years (actually, almost 12 years ago to the day) when I moved to Austin and sweet Darrow was my flower girl when I married my college sweetheart from Corpus Christi...

[forgive the poor scan quality]

And then fast forward a few more to 2011...and imagine how my heart soared and perhaps broke a little bit when Tracey told me Darrow was graduating high school and wondered if I could take her senior portraits. What an honor!! But what disbelief! I could not even believe this little girl was going to graduate high school. I could not believe her baby brother was a teenager. I could not believe that Tracey went on to have two more children...TWINS, in fact. I could not believe on how much life I had missed out on and was ashamed I had not done more to stay in touch.

Well, we had our session just a few weeks ago. It was positively magical and surreal all at the same time. It was a strange time warp for me...Tracey hadn't changed a bit over the last decade+, but Darrow, Darrow was a young woman. Darrow...was age when I started college and first met her mother. Un.Real.

Tracey and I could barely stop crying when we saw each other. I'm sure it had to have been strange for Darrow, LOL. But I can only hope that when Darrow decides where she's going to college--and especially if she travels far away like I did--that she finds someone who can be a pseudo-mom to her, just like Tracey was for me.
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