I had a moment this weekend. I was standing in a forever long line for the "swings" ride at the county fair for 38 minutes so my oldest could ride. We stood in our own silence as we do, soaking in all that surrounded us. I took a deep breath of the salty-thick air and looked at my daughter. She now stands eye-to-eye with me. A 12 year old in the body of a woman. I can still feel her little fingers tugging at me to be picked up and carried around the fair. She begs for cotton candy and her sweaty arms and legs wrapped around me, piggy-back.

Now there is a legitimate space between us. She leans on the gate, glancing around for people she knows from school. I used to be that girl. Not thrilled to be seen at the fair with my parents. Eager to see friends from school that I hadn't seen all summer. A girl she knows (who is also taller than me), runs up for a hug and they stand there chatting, mom now invisible. I pull out my phone to give me something to do and catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection. And there I am. I am MOM.

Somewhere along the lines I lost that identity of a girl and became MOM. Now, obviously, 12 years ago I became a mother, but this is different. There is a definite difference between being the mommy of a child and the mom of an adolescent. Ugh. This day has come entirely too soon.

Day 28 - Flowers. This is the first hanging basket I've been able to keep alive in a long.... ever.

Day 29 - Black and white.

Day 30 - Self portrait.

Yes, I'm still sticking with my July photo project :) Stay tuned for a quick game of catch-up:

Day 16 - Long exposure. Fun with sparklers!

Day 17 - Technology. Our new toy at work - digital garment printer. It's ridiculous how excited this thing makes us. lol

Day 18 - Your shoes. Brought to you by three furballs and a piece of chicken.

Day 19 - Something orange.

Day 20 - Bokeh. One of my most favoritest things -- creamy, dreamy bokeh.

Day 21 - Faceless self-portrait.

Day 22 - Hand(s).

Day 23 - Sunflare. Not much flare, but I love this shot.

Day 24 - Animal. Bubberfly.

Day 25 - Something pink. Sailor's delight.

Day 26 - Close-up. My new desktop picture.

Day 27 - From a distance. Gloomy morning = boring picture.

Dear 19 year old bride with love in your eyes...

Your wedding day was a gorgeous one! A spring break wedding with one remaining semester before you are handed that degree. You were so nervous but not, at the same time. There was no question that this is what you wanted. You had loved this boy for years by now. He had been your rock during the toughest days in your life, your partner through some of the biggest moments of your life thus far, and a beacon of warmth to come home to at night. And now he was officially yours forever!

You cannot imagine what the next 15 years will hold. You are standing there smiling so much that your face hurts, ready to conquer the world with this boy by your side. You are just babies, not that you feel that way now. You have no real idea how to be an adult or a wife. You both still have so much growing to do, so much to learn and experience... but with that boy by your side... well, you just wait.

Make sure you soak up every moment you can as newlyweds! It will rain your entire honeymoon, but you will be cozy in the cabin in the hills. Linger in the clawfoot tub until you're shriveled up, hike in between showers and revel a the charging waterfall, sit in the hot tub outside in the 35 degree rain and breath in the steam and talk all night. I know you'll miss Cricket, but don't go playing with that dog that comes wondering around. He's not as nice as you think. On your drive home, the sun will come out and you'll arrive home in time to start your new life with this boy who is now your husband.

It's not going to be easy being married. He's going to do things that annoy you, but here's some news: you're not such a treat either sometimes. Sometimes you're going to go to bed angry (even though you said you never would). But it's going to be okay; you just need a little space, and in the morning you'll wake up with a new perspective. Try to remember that he's not perfect and neither are you.

You'll spend a few more months living in the trailer as you graduate college, find your first big-girl job and find just the right house in the fall. You'll move in, spread out, and settle in for your first of many big hardships along the way. You will learn that buying that trailer was not the greatest of ideas. You'll struggle to sell it, but it won't be the end of you (even though it feels that way sometimes). People will help you. It will eventually sell, but not anytime soon.

Remember to slow down. Enjoy married life. Take short trips. Explore. Enjoy each others company because changes and responsibilities and babies come quickly.

Look into that sweet boy's eyes. He will be the one with whom you share life's greatest joy and announce to the world that you are expecting a baby. He will also be there to hold you up in the ultrasound room when you discover the loss of that precious little life.

You will learn the meaning of patience while you try for another baby for an entire year. But she will come, and when you tell that boy he will literally leap for joy! And oh, how she'll be the light of your lives. Life will never be the same again once you are a mama. Your priorities will change. Your attention will be put on the baby. Put the baby in the crib and look at your husband every now and then.

That man will reveal another side of himself that you will love even more (yes, it IS possible). He will be an amazing father. Notice it. Appreciate him. Love him fully. He loves you so much even if he isn't very good at showing how he feels. 15 years from now you will realize just how much he adores you. Listen to his heart.

Another baby, another loss will shake you to your core. But you will get through it together yet again, and this time you won't have to wait as long to meet another new sweet baby girl and complete your little family.

You will be exhausted and sleep deprived and keeping up with the needs of two little ones. Money will be tight. You will learn just how hard it really is to be a wife and a mother, and you will truly struggle. Hang in there. Change is on the horizon.

You will have to start commuting an hour to work, and you'll make lots of new friends. Life will continue to be hard at home because you're never there. Money will always be a problem, and I'm not going to lie, you're going to want to give up sometimes. But just hold out a little longer and you'll see that a layoff isn't always a bad thing. You'll see that something better is yet to come.

Hold tight to the things you love - your creativity, the challenge of something new, the found love of photography. Read as many books as you can. Take time for you, but don't forget those around you. They need you as much as you need them.

Life will roll on faster than you could have ever imagined. Your girls will grow at lightning speed - make sure you stop and absorb their innocence, smell their hair, listen to them playing happily in the next room. These days will be gone before you know it.

All the while, your boy, now a man, will have changed before your eyes. He will have endured his own life-changing experiences. He'll disappoint you and anger you, but he'll also need you and understand you and love you like no other. He'll be there, holding your hand, watching the world change around you both.

Oh sweet little bride, there is so much more that I wish that I could tell you. There is so much that you couldn’t ever foresee, but 15 years from now you will love that boy more than you do on this day. You will grow up together and make the journey into adulthood holding each others hands.
You will change almost completely from the people you are today. There will be moments when you do not recognize the person across the table from you. You will wonder how the heck you got “here.” You will wonder if you’re going to make it… And then, you will.

Things are really tight this year, and with C's upcoming surgery we decided it just wouldn't make sense to take a real vacation this summer. So I found a Groupon for an indoor water park in Sandusky and we did a weekend.

Honestly, we weren't too impressed with the hotel its self, but the water park was pretty nice. The hotel wasn't AWFUL, but it just wasn't extremely clean, the vending and ice machines were broken, the arcade games stole our money and we had to pay like $30 for breakfast. But the room had potential with a king size bed for us and the girls each had their own set up bunkbeds in s separate room. The game room was huge and there were pool tables too where we gave the girls their first lesson in playing. The water slides were impressive and I actually joined the girls in running up the stairs repeatedly to slip and slide down over and over. Fun!
(please excuse the ugly cellphone pictures)