Thomas is One {Phoenix Baby Photographer}


This was my last baby of the year and he was such a good little guy.  I have had the privilege of playing with little Tom three times this year and he just gets more adorable each time I see him.

As I have mentioned before, I like to encourage mom and dad to come prepared to be included in the shoot because I often need them as props.  In this particular case though, Tom upset my statistics because turns out he preferred to be a solo act.

Thomas’s mom made his cake and it was a big hit with baby!  Leave it to the boys to know how to chow down.  Just adorable.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Madyson is ONE {Phoenix Baby Photography}

Is this not the cutest first birthday girl ever?  Custom made by Julie from Juju’s Tutus.  This last month I only took two clients and both were babies that I had scheduled before Troy arrived.   One year shoots are so much fun and I love it when I get to do them as part of a package so I can watch baby grow.  Madyson is such a darling little one and I have really enjoyed getting to spend time with her this year.



Pain in the Neck

Have you ever heard of Torticollis?  Basically it is a twisted neck in which the head is tipped to one side while the chin is turned to the other.  I think Troy has it.  Always something isn’t it?  I will have this confirmed (or not) tomorrow when we take him to the Cranial Specialist for an evaluation.  I have seen the symptoms for quite some time but I didn’t put two and two together until recently and now that I have, I am pretty convinced.  In fact, when I ran it by the pediatrician, he just started writing me a script for physical therapy before he even evaluated it.  I had to laugh at that.  My children’s pediatrician and I have quite a team approach to their medical care.

His symptoms are:

*  Since birth, Troy has never liked to sleep with his head turned.  If I lay him on his side, he can tolerate it for awhile because his neck isn’t actually turned but even then he shimmies until he gets to his back.

*  When I lay him on my chest, I have to make him turn his head or he buries his face in my shoulder.  Again, he doesn’t like to sleep with his neck turned.

*  He leans his head slightly to the right with his chin tilted slightly to the left.

*  Instead of raising his head to look at you, he usually tucks his chin down and raises his eyes (which is quite coy and adorable but my instinct for quite sometime has been that there is a physical reason for it).

*  He has Brachycephaly with (I think) slight Plagiocephaly.  The back of his head is flat.  This is very common for babies with Torticollis.

*  Often times, if I am rocking Troy to sleep, he will fall asleep and then wake up and cry several times.  When I swaddle him and lay him down he stays out.  I am now wondering if sleeping in my arms is uncomfortable sometimes because I hold him with my right arm so I may not be supporting his neck in a way that is comfortable for him.  I am going to switch arms and see if that helps.

*  Additionally, I think something is “off” with his right shoulder because he holds it oddly quite often.  He positions it back instead of forward.

Torticollis can either be a congenital condition or it can occur because of the way that baby was laying inutero.  It can also occur due to a traumatic birth (injury to neck happens at birth).

We will be looking at physical therapy and a DOC Band for his head that he may wear for a few months.  The good news is that he does have good range of motion even still so it seems that time and exercise should really help him.   I am anxious to see what the specialists have to say about this.

He weighed 13.13 at his four month appointment and was 24.5 inches long.  25th% which is pretty AWESOME for a preemie.

Update on Tori:

She is good as gold – THANK GOD!!!!  She weighed 28 pounds at 3 years 9 months and that was fully dressed.  🙂  She, again, screamed through her flu shot then told everyone what a great job she did.  I like her world.

Update on Ty:

Ty will be having surgery soon for his belly hernia.  When babies are born prematurely, they use muscles that are not fully developed and this often creates hernias.  Ty had bi-inguinal hernia surgery as a baby but we were waiting until he got older to do the belly surgery as we were hoping to avoid it.  No such luck.

The excitement never ends around here…


Sleeping Beauty Kissed By God

(This picture taken a week ago.)

If you were following facebook at all yesterday, you know by now that yesterday was one of the worst days of my life.  I want to purge the whole thing from my heart and soul (and writing this will help with that) but it still feels too big for my heart to take in.     Because I am such a griever, I often think that other people worry that I “can’t handle” things.  That is not my opinion of myself.  🙂   I think I actually have an advantage by being a griever  BECAUSE I have the ability to express my feelings so fully.  I feel as though my emotional scars from sad things are these faded white lines in my life.  Lines of battles that remind me of God’s goodness even through the worst of circumstances and His amazing redemptive power.  My wounds heal clean.  They don’t fester.  My great grief washes them with all the salt water of the ocean and drains them of all the rotting flesh eating stuff and they heal straight and infection free.  Then God gives the blessed healing of time and they fade into soft white lines on my soul that overtime I am able to hold dear because they have such significance to me in my spiritual journey.   So don’t be worried about me today that I am going to really “crash” over all this (spoken to my family).   I am going to cry about it (Jim said I will cry a lot hee hee) and I am also going to cherish the gift of peace that God gave me yesterday during one of the scariest times of my life.  That is a gift I will hold in my heart forever and will serve to comfort me in days and even decades to come.  I have had the opportunity to sit quietly with God and hear Him tell me that I would find peace in Him – no matter what happened.

On Tuesday, Troy had an Apnea clinic appointment that resulted in me having to make 4 more Dr. appointments yesterday morning (I’ll explain that one in another post).  Tori woke up about 9:00 AM and shortly after that I was making my phone calls.  I know I was on at least six calls because I also talked to my mom and Jim bouncing off them what I was hearing from specialists.  Needless to say, I was quite distracted with all that.  At one point, Tori and Ty kept coming into my room and I sent them out because they were being too loud while I was on the phone.   I am going to guess that somewhere after 10:00, Tori went into my bathroom, opened the bathroom cabinet (at 3 she knows how to get past the child locks) and drank a significant amount of Scope.  No one saw it.

Once I was off my phone calls, I went into the front room to assemble all the kids.  My girlfriend Laura and I had scheduled a play date a couple of months back and she was expected at 1:30.  I was starting to panic over getting cleaning and school done so I was telling the kids that we needed to discuss how we were going to quickly clean up.  I kept calling Tori and she wasn’t answering.  Ty insisted that she was laying on the couch (which was definitely within hearing distance) so my aggravation was rising.  These are the moments you look back on with regret.  People have (innocently) insinuated that I may feel guilty over her getting into the Scope.  I don’t.  I do feel awful about what I said to Tori though.

I was so frustrated that she was ignoring me because she didn’t want to clean that I stormed around the couch and grabbed her arm to pull her into a seated position.  She had a blanket over her so I couldn’t see her face.  I said “Tori you had better be sick or asleep to be ignoring mommy like this!”  (WHY OH WHY DID I SAY THAT???)   As I pulled her arm to sit her up she slid right off the couch onto the floor – no resistance at all.  She barely opened unfocused eyes at me and I was shocked to find that she actually was asleep.  I got down on my hands and knees to wake her up and was hit by the massive wave of Scope.  Panic hit me in that moment because I knew instantly she wasn’t asleep but had lost consciousness.  I don’t think fast under pressure so I called Jim first and told him I couldn’t wake her up and that I need him NOW.  He told me that he needed me to hang up and call 911.   After that initial slight eye open when she came off the couch, she never opened her eyes again.  I could tell she was breathing and that her heart was beating but her lips were white as could be and nothing would wake her up.

The 911 operator stayed on the phone with me and was sweetly trying to keep me calm.  Tanner picked up the baby and stood nearby watching quietly.  Ty got down beside me and started screaming her name in her ear to wake her up.  At one point she seemed to turn slightly at Ty yelling her name and that mildly encouraged me but we still couldn’t get her awake.  Ty then started repeating over and over “Mommy?  Is Tori dead?  Is she dead or is she just asleep mommy?”.     If I never wondered about Asperger’s before, I certainly did in this moment because he was asking this question in the same relaxed manner that he would have used asking me what I wanted for lunch.  No emotional response visible or audible but he kept repeating the same questions over and over.  The 911 operator was listening to him and encouraging me to show Ty that she was breathing.   I had Tanner call my parents from the cell and told them to get to my house immediately.  Dad later told me that Sweetie was about to get in the shower and he told her that she had one minute to be ready to go or he was leaving her behind.  She had clothes on before he got his shoes on.

It seemed to take forever for the fire truck to get to my home.  I just kept reminding the kids and myself that Tori was breathing.  The paramedics, Jim and my parents all arrived at the same time.   Mom took one look at her grand-daughter and her face validated everything I was thinking.  It was bad.  Very bad.  She started crying and shaking and then did what moms do.  Grabbed me and started praying out loud.

The paramedics asked me what happened and I told them I knew it was Scope because she wreaked of it.  They wanted me to find the bottle.  I went to the bathroom and saw the large bottle on the counter with the childproof cap firmly in place.  I had no idea how she had gotten it off and back on tight.  It was missing about 4 ounces but wasn’t completely full to begin with.  The paramedics immediately told me that she wouldn’t be in the shape she was with that amount of Scope so they were looking for other answers immediately.  That didn’t make sense to me because I thought Occam’s razor applied then if it ever did but then they started asking about Diabetes and I realized that I had no idea if she could have Diabetes in her bio history or not so then the panic set in that the Scope had triggered a Diabetic reaction.  Her blood sugar was at 36.    The fact that her levels were low instead of high also made them wander from the Scope theory because no one thought Scope would drop her blood sugar level (the Dr. later indicated that it can).  They told me that as soon as they started pushing the D50 through her veins that she would perk up in 2 minutes.  Two minutes went by and nothing.  I could see and feel their tension rising.  I later found out that her heart rate dropped down to 50 (which is very low for a 3 year old).  They were trying to reassure us but as the minutes went by, they had less and less to offer in terms of encouragement.  Nobody said it but we all feared she was slipping into a diabetic coma because that was the only logical explanation anyone had at the time.  They were certain she wouldn’t be that sick off the Scope because they said she couldn’t have ingested enough of it for what they were seeing.

At that point, I was at war with myself.  One moment I was covering my ears and trying to escape the room because I could not watch what was unfolding before me.  Then next I was rushing to her because I wanted to be right there when she opened her eyes.  I also wanted to be right there if my Sleeping Beauty never opened her eyes again.

I don’t know how long the paramedics were at the house but long enough to determine that Tori needed to be taken to PCH on a Code Red.  Flying down the freeway, the engineer told me he was driving the engine like he stole it to get my daughter to PCH.  As the minutes dragged on, I asked the engineer if the paramedics in the back with her were going to tell us if she started to wake.  He assured me they absolutely would.  It was obvious to me that apprehension was mounting for everyone because what they believed would take 2 minutes was pushing more than 20.  I called David from the engine (he is a Fire Captain).  My brothers silence (very unlike David) validated my mounting anxiety and I had to get off the phone with him because I knew he had nothing to say that I could bare to hear.

I sat there in silence.  Life slows down in those moments.  I found myself feeling like I had two choices, to allow my emotions to reign and go straight over the emotional cliff or I could grab onto the Father and seek peace.   This is not the first time I have been through a life threatening (and life altering) situation with one of my children.  It was not an unfamiliar place.  In a strange way that made it easier for me.    As I talked to Father in that quiet engine with my sleeping girl, I found myself having perfect clarity of thought.  I calmed down.  I told the Engineer that I knew this was another defining moment of my life and that I didn’t know what would happen but that I knew God would redeem it in a big way in my life either way.  I prayed the lyrics of Blessed Be the Name of the Lord  (He gives and takes away) and I asked Him to flood me with His peace that would reign over the emotions that could carry me away.  Instantly He did that.   If you have never experienced this, I don’t really know how to describe it to you but I will say that in the worst moments of my life, I have felt without shadow of a doubt that my God was present, loving me, and in perfect control speaking peace to my heart and reminding me to lean into Him.  It wasn’t that my fear or grief disappeared.  More so that there was another supernatural gift of peace that just cushioned all of it long enough to keep me sane when life circumstances were just too big for me to keep breathing without it.

It wasn’t until we were about a mile away from PCH (which is quite a distance from my home), that the paramedics in the back let me know she was starting to come to.   When we got to the hospital and they pulled her out of the back, one of the paramedics let me know that she had started talking to him and told him that she loved her mommy.  I took one look at her little face and knew she was in a very altered state because she was giving a goofy grin to everyone and quite chatty.  It would seem that my quiet girl is quite friendly while under the influence.

She threw up pretty immediately in the ER and as I had told everyone, she threw up Scope.  Still, no one quite believed Scope was the sole culprit.  It was then I remembered that we had a smaller bottle of Scope under the cabinet and questioned whether that was the bottle she got to (which was later confirmed by Tori when she showed Daddy what she did when we got home).  At one point, she gave the ER Dr. a good scare because she fell back asleep and he couldn’t get her to wake up again.  She slept through 2 finger pricks and some very rough jostling to get her to wake.  He opened her eyes and her pupils were pinpoints and her eyes crossing out to the sides.  When the toxicology report came back though showing a blood alcohol level of 200 (that is way over the legal driving limit for an adult equivalent of 2.0), everyone was in agreement that Scope was indeed the sole cause of her symptoms and that she had ingested a whole lot more of it than anyone would have dreamed possible.     Jim and I both question how close she was to blood alcohol poisoning.  Considering that we know she was unconscious for likely well over 45 minutes before the D50 kicked in(D50 is used to increase blood sugar), we couldn’t help torturing ourselves with a million “what ifs” like what if she had snuck the Scope before bedtime????

It took her about 9 hours to come down from it and behave somewhat normally but THANK GOD she seems perfectly fine today and no worse for the wear.

I also want to make a point to let everyone know that we discovered the hard way that the smaller bottles of Scope do not have a child proof cap.  In fact, they have a label on them that says “Not for homes with small children” but who on earth reads the small print on mouthwash labels while doing their shopping?  It never caught my attention that this bottle didn’t have a safety cap on it.  It was behind a safety lock cabinet but as I said, Tori is old enough to get past those now.    As you can imagine, we now and forevermore shall have a SCOPE PROOF home.  Did you know that Scope has 15% alcohol in it?  I didn’t.  Did you know that Blackberry Brandy has 18%?  Never did I imagine the danger.  I think most people assume (and the Dr.s and Firefighters confirmed) that a child won’t drink much of it.  Usually that is true.  In fact, based on the comments from everyone, I would surmise that Tori may take the record for Scope consumption at PCH.  You never can predict anything with a kid though.  Who knows why she continued to drink it but the toxicology report indicates she consumed more than 5 ounces of it.

While I am not ready to laugh about any of this because it will go down as one of the most terrifying incidents of my life and that is too painful to invalidate, I do realize that we will be teased endlessly for being the first in our family to have a drunk kid.  Jim and I keep an unleaded only house for all kinds of reasons so my siblings are finding it very comical that this happened to us.  The nurse in the ER tried describing the symptoms of a hangover as gently as possible without using the word “hangover” but when she had to read the dx on discharge of intoxication, no one could keep a straight face.  One nurse in the room started to double over a bit after the word “hangover” left her mouth.  She said “I tried to stop it – I really did but it came out.  I had to say it!”   We all got a giggle out of that.   Definitely a stress release laugh for all of us.  We were taking our baby girl HOME and she was going to be absolutely fine!   You have no idea how grateful we were and are.

One thing I particularly regret is the fact that Tanner and Ty had to to witness all of it.  In the aftermath, Ty seems to be the most expressive about.  Not in an overt emotional kind of way but enough to suggest that deep inside, it’s there and he is trying to figure out what to do with it.  Once we got her home, Ty asked me question after question.  He would distract onto something else and then bring it back up.  “Why would Tori do that?  She knew she was supposed to spit it out.  Did she die?  Was she asleep?  How come she wouldn’t wake up?  Why did they put her on a bed? ”  Over and over and over.   Finally, he asked her to go into the playroom with him to play games.  He brought her back out a few minutes later after he had talked to her and said “Mommy.  Tori told me that she was just PRETENDING to be dead but actually she was only asleep.”  Tori follows Ty’s comment up with “Ya.  That is just how I sleep.”   Made my heart hurt for Ty because I could tell he was trying to understand it all in his own way.  I guess earlier in the day he kept saying things that related to her dying and then would laugh and it was upsetting Tanner but he was just trying to work it out in his mind and heart and didn’t know how to express or understand it.  The day before, I had given him a questionnaire for his writing assignment.  In it I asked him who his favorite person to play with was.  He wrote “My favorite person to play with is Tori”.  That is true.  I think Tori really is Ty’s best friend.  He loves to have her near and she is usually not far from him.  If you hear comments about this coming out of Ty’s mouth in a random way (or hear him joking about her dying), please understand that it IS bothering him but he doesn’t know how to express it to you and he is doing the best he can with it.

I have questioned Tanner several times about his emotions and he continues to say that he was and is fine.  Unfortunately that is ALWAYS what Tanner says.  Tanner will say he is fine when asked an emotional question even when his face clearly demonstrates he isn’t.  He struggles to put words to any of his emotions in a very big way.  Please pray for Tanner because I KNOW that what he saw would have traumatized anybody and I don’t know how to talk Tanner through that when he can’t put words to what he feels (nor can he even admit to “feeling” something at all).  I suspect I will see it come out in other ways with Tanner.  It will come out one way or the other.  I just want to have the wisdom to see it for what it is when it shows up.  (Shortly after writing this paragraph, Tanner came in to my room starting to cry.  He said he was “bored”.  That is not like my Tanner to cry over boredom.  My earlier point was just validated.  It comes out with him.  I just hugged him and told him I can’t stop crying today either).

Tori is a little traumatized still too.  Last night she was happy and doing well but would start to cry every little bit when she would ask a question.  She wanted to know why the fireman put a sticker on her mouth.  That really upset her.  All I can figure is that when she woke up in the ambulance, she was afraid of the oxygen mask they had on her.  She told me this morning that if TY (like how she blames Ty?) ever put Scope in his mouth that she would go get an adult.  I had her sleep in our bed last night because I needed her as close to me as I could get her (and she needed mama too).  She chatted away until well after midnight (the alcohol had her totally amped after the depression symptoms wore off).  At one point I asked her to tell me a story.  I was trying to get her mind off her questions and give her something specific to talk about.  She said “Why don’t you read a story to you?  Reading is a little tricky for me.”  I cracked up.  Leave it to Tori to refrain from saying “I can’t read”.    Right before she finally fell asleep, she cuddled real close, laid her cheek on mine, and said “Mommy Ty keeps saying that I was dead but I wasn’t”.  Poor baby.  She doesn’t know how to process all that she heard and saw either (and will likely remember very little of it thankfully).  She has also refused to take off her leads.  She says that she wants to wear her “alarms” forever because she wants to be like Troy (Troy always has his chords from his apnea belt on).  She has trailed the house today with a red, black, and white chord and Jim and I have both decided that she can wear them until Kingdom come if she so chooses.

As for the adults…well lets just say we are all totally physically and emotionally worn out.  Jim told me that if he ever hung to any hope of not being totally grey by 40 that all hope was erased yesterday.  Daddy was on his daughters beck and call.  Tori was ravenous and was sending Jim on food errands.  I have never seen her eat so much in her little life.  I am sorry that my husband and parents had to see what they did for their sake but I am grateful for mine.  In the aftermath of all this, it is (horribly) validating to have your spouse and parents know exactly what you saw and the mental pictures you are living with.   Jim and I talked last night about how wild it is that we have had so many different trauma experiences with 3 of our 4 children.   Yesterday, though, was the first non preemie related incident.   My brother Daniel (in an attempt to make me giggle), ended his phone call with me yesterday saying “I gotta get home now, eat, drink some Scope, and get off to bed.”   I enjoyed telling him he would have to forego his nightcap of choice because his wife had already dumped every bit of Scope in the house down the drain.   For my sake, please go and do likewise.  Let’s all have bad breath together.  I’ll bring the gum.  🙂

Yesterday my Aunt Karen (a Kindergarten teacher in Apple Valley, CA) asked her class of five year olds to pray for Tori.  When she was notified that Tori was waking up, she updated the kids.  One child in the class said “That is just like Sleeping Beauty.”  My Aunt responded then in a way that I will hold in my heart for as long as I live.  She said “Yes and then God kissed her and woke her up.”

Thank you Jesus.  All my days.




Halloween – My Other Darlings

I must say I am rather proud of myself.  Somehow I managed to get shots I liked of 14 children plus some siblings in the span of about 40 minutes AND I got group shots to boot.  I am thinking that the kids were motivated to cooperate so that they could get the heck out of there and get off to their trick or treating.  I wanted a group shot but knew that I had ZERO chance of getting a perfect group shot so I didn’t even attempt it.  I told them I wanted everyone in the frame and I really didn’t care what they did.  In the above shot I am going to give the best posed award to Zane and I am going to ask my brother David what in the heck he was doin’.  It is always the adults isn’t it?  Seriously.  When I do family shoots the adults can be harder to manage than the kids sometimes.  🙂

Tori gets my award for this shot but both David and Ty look like they have no idea how they even got there.  Have I ever told you how alike those two are?  That reminds me of a funny.  We were all up hunting together recently (those pics coming soon I hope) and my brother David was in the dog house one evening because he demonstrated to Ty how to do an AZ Fountain by spitting a mouthful of water all over him (outside in the cold).  Ty thought it was FABULOUS.  I had to remind David that Tori and Tanner would likely have the good sense not to repeat such thing on an innocent bystander but Ty might now exercise his new trick on virtually anyone at anytime with no warning.  Grrrrrr.  The morning after this incident, my brother Dusty told me that my brother Daniel had the following to say about it the previous evening after I went to bed:

Daniel:  If Doni ever takes Ty to a developmental therapist here is what is going to happen.

Therapist:  Ty who taught you to blah blah blah.

Ty:  My Uncle David

Therapist:  And who taught you…..

Ty:  Uncle David

Therapist:  And what about….

Ty:  Uncle David

Therapist:  Ty you may go now but would you send in your Uncle David.

LOL!  True that.  😉  (Love you David)

Karsyn and Braxtyn take the cake here but Ty is going down hill fast.  (This is his “I thought you said ONE more” expression).

Before I post individuals, I will give you a kid recap:

Tanner – age 10 – Parents Jim and Doni
Noah – age 8 – Parents Dan and Brooke
Zandi – age 8 – Parents David and Aimee
Ty – age 7 – Parents Jim and Doni
Graham – age 7 – Parents Dan and Brooke
Zane – age 6 – Parents David and Aimee
Karsyn – age 6 – Parents Darin and Jodi
Braxtyn – age 5 – Parents Dan and Brooke
Tori – age 3 – Parents Jim and Doni
Ryker – age 3 – Parents Darin and Jodi
Cozette – age 2 – Parents Dan and Brooke
Cooper – age 1 – Parents Darin and Jodi
Quinn – age 6 months – Parents Dan and Brooke
Troy – age 4 months – Parents Jim and Doni

That’s all 14 of them….so far.  🙂

Noah made this costume himself.  I was so impressed.

This is Graham – he loves the outdoors.  LOVES.

Man oh man is our Braxtyn a doll baby.  Brooke wanted a close up of the eyes in the mask and I don’t think it could have turned out any cuter than it did.  Brax has gorgeous – absolutely gorgeous eyes (like her mama).

My Cozy and Quinny were not up for posing alone so Daddy provided the necessary cuddle time and all was well.  Parents are awesome props.

Of all the kids, I think Zandi has changed the most this year.  Last year she was an adorable 7 year old but at 8…such a beauty.  Can someone turn back the hands of time for me?

Zane loves to hunt and is smile is infectious.

Jodi and I both had to giggle when we realized that our girls had chosen the same costume this year.  It WAS a great costume I thought and Karsyn sported it magnificently.  She looks so much like my brother.

Ryker was a VERY scary dinosaur.

As I processed these of Coop I had to giggle wondering if Jodi planned the monster costume after Cooper put some kind of lotion in his hair last week that took seven shampoos to remove.

I thought it only appropriate that Karsyn fly too.  Also allowed me a pic of Super Man.  🙂

And now some cousin fun…(because no I don’t think you have seen enough already).

Just wait world – this quad will be a super power to be reckoned with.

As I was taking the cousin pictures of the girls, I happen to look over and notice that my little hunters were stalking my little dinosaur.  Now THESE are the best captures – the moments that tell the TRUE tale of the day.  The only thing false about this shot is that it appears that the dino was intimated by the duo survivors but alas…we know better.    Ryker can roar plenty.  🙂

Good times family.  Good times.