Erin + Matt : Charlotte NC Maternity Photographer : Candy Howard

I met Erin and Matt through through Erin's mother,
who I happen to think is fabulous,
 so it was no surprise that sweet, beautiful Erin and her handsome beau were just as wonderful.  

It was so nice to meet you, and I'm so excited for you all!  Can't wait to meet your newest love!

My favorite dress

First, let me tell you why you should keep reading:
(1) this dress looks fab on
(2) it's on sale at TJ Maxx right now.
Tart Collections
Okay, now that I've got you, this is Tart's Adrianna dress.  It is so well designed - flattering, well made, comfortable, can be dressed up or down AND for my moms to be, this is the dress I tell you all about for your shoots!  In addition to all the other great qualities, it photographs beautifully, and you can wear it before, during and after pregnancy! 

I just saw them today at the Mooresville TJ Maxx store!  They have solid red and a dark turquoise.    I have that turquoise and a beautiful navy and white pattern.  I checked online, and they have black in S and XS.  I'll be checking other stores, too!  At $40 instead of $200, this is a steal for such a great dress!

The one where we had two babies

Sam's birth was a roller coaster.
Musical chair due dates late in the pregnancy, no progression, breech baby, family in for scheduled section, sent home still pregnant because he turned, hoping for no intervention, waiting, no progression, giant baby, section and 12 days after his real due date, a healthy baby.  I was fine.  I was not, and then I was.
Through it all, Sam was just perfect, thankfully.  The week in the hospital that followed is surreal.

There are moments that are crystal clear, of course, like when Joy and Pat brought 15 month old Jack in to meet Sam.
Jack seemed like he had grown two years in the few hours I was away from him.

Jason holding Sam.  He is really good with babies. 

And I'll never forget feeding Sam, holding him close, as I watched someone else's blood flow slowly into my body.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know how dramatic that sounds.

Speaking of dramatic, there are moments that I have to ask someone "did that really happen?" because they seem so unrealistic, as if I've internalized scenes from a movie. 

Did you really leave the room?
Yes, I was about to tackle the doctor working on you but I knew she was helping.

Did she really say I could die if I cut myself cutting a lemon?
Yes, she was trying to tell you to not to take your numbers lightly.

Did you guys really offer to drive seven hours to donate blood for me?
Duh.  Of course.

And then there was Sam....who was the best snuggler...who just went with the flow...who was a constant force for good.  We went from being relatively new parents with a babe fresh from his first birthday to parents with two babies.  And a huge wake up call.  Sleep dep is a piece of cake when you remember that you could have died.  Two under two in diapers?  No problem.  We got this.  I will say that, like most parents with a newborn, Sam's first year went by in blur.  I love our family the way it is, but sometimes I get a baby jones.  Only, I don't want more babies; I want MY babies.  I want that time back because it just flew.  Like the wisp of smoke from a newly lit match.  Gone in an instant.

I think I've watched this about a hundred times already.  Where, where, where did the years go?

Today, TODAY, my Sam is thirteen!  A teenager!  I love that kid, ahem, that young man, so very much.  He is smart, quick witted and a little too sarcastic for his age.  He is also kind and patient - a good teacher when young family or friends (or his mom) need help with something.  He makes me little origami birds.  I'm so lucky to call him mine.

And because he's mine and because I can, here are a few more birthday posts:

Missing Beebop and then I read this...

We brought our pup home in the summer.

11 weeks old

And he loved doing anything outside. 

Except swimming.  Go figure.  But he dug the snow.  Pun intended.

First snow for all three of my boys
 But most of all, he just wanted to be with us.

Resting after a bike ride
  Which is what we wanted, so it worked out pretty well.

Presiding over summer games

Except when he was pushing you over with his great big bum when he just meant to getthisclosetoyou.

Or when you got smacked in the head with his tail because
he was so happy that he had just gottenthisclosetoyou.

But that face.  And those ears.
Those ears...right there.

It was summer when we brought our pup home, and it was summer when we lost him.

I sat on the floor with him and held his face.
 And stroked his ear.  Over and over.
I swear, if he weren't in so much pain, he would have lifted his head and
cocked it to one side as if to say, "Okay.  They're soft.  But that's enough."
But I just kept doing it as he died.
Telling him it was going to be okay.
Trying to believe it myself.

And so, in the weirdest 'six degrees' I've heard of,
summer makes me think of Bishop and that makes me think of his ears.
And that makes me sad.

And then I read this.  (Get tissues.)

Oh boy.
Did you get the tissues?  I told you.
Well, if you've made it this far, thanks.  There's no real reason for this post other than hug your pets.
Go on.  Do it.  Right now. 

Gorgeous Lakeside Home : Candy Howard : Lake Norman Home Photographer

Read about Laura Brosseau, owner of Ain't Miss Bead Haven,
and her stunning Lake Norman home
All images © Candy Howard, Courtesy of Lake Norman Currents