a military war hero returns home

i feel so incredibly honored to have been able to photograph a military hero's homecoming yesterday... twenty-two year old marine CPL nicholson returned home yesterday, for the first time, after being wounded last july.  CPL nicholson lost both his legs and his left arm in a hidden improvised explosive device [IED] blast, while on foot patrol in afghanistan. through his ongoing recovery over the past eight months, CPL nicholson has endured 23 surgeries.  in october, he walked for the first time with prosthetic legs. CPL nicholson will be home on leave, for the next month and then return back to bethesda, MD for continued rehabilitation. his family is hopeful that he will be home for good by the end of the year.

the community support for CPL nicholson was nothing short of beautiful, inspiring and very emotional.  hundreds greeted CPL nicholson at the airport...

friends, family and strangers lined the streets of tampa as the patriot guard riders and patrol cars escorted CPL nicholson from the airport to the welcome home ceremony location...

hundreds more attended the ceremony...

being relatively new to tampa last year, i had not heard of CPL nicholson's injuries.  it was driving by this sign [the nicholson family lives almost directly behind us] a few months ago, that i first learned of CPL nicholson. i immediately emailed the family, sharing that i'd love to help in absolutely any way that i could. i'm hopeful that i will be able to photograph the nicholson family more over the year or two, while stationed here in tampa.

a special thanks to carmen for second shooting with me and making sure i got to each location on time.  and to cliff of the patriot guard riders, for asking me if i'd like to ride on the back of his motorcycle to the church [so i didn't have to keep running there].

and here's a tampa bay times' video of CPL nicholson's return...

fav finds friday | week four

supporting our wounded warriors. "you don't have to support the war to support the soldiers."

i needed to read this the other day. bad.

an important reminder.

this recipe turned out amazing. the kids loved it too.

love this so much.

yes, please. all of them.

i'm excited to read this book, along with two other art history books i just purchased.  and i'm hoping to start an art history class at a local community college in january.

i would like this hanging in my office.

rethinking some wall space. love these large, stacked prints.

i'm in the process of making this.

being reminded my friend to trust and become exactly who i'm meant to be.

honoring those who served

as a former active duty air force nurse and now being married to a naval explosive ordnance disposal officer, i couldn't be more proud to celebrate veterans day and honor those who have served our nation in war...and peace.

do you know how and when veterans day was first declared?

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. [history.com]


the other day, i drove around the corner, to look at the monster house they're building right behind my house.  a couple doors down, i noticed a large sign with an american flag and a marine corp flag on each corner of the sign.  i said to my mother-in-law,

that's interesting. i've never seen flags of support like that on a home depot work sign before.

and then we got closer and i read the sign...

Tampa Bay Community Supporting

Cpl Michael Nicholson USMC

Giving our best for the best our Nation has to give!

Send Donations to: Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery c/o Alley, Clark and Greivwe, PA PO Box 3127 Tampa, FL 33601

as soon as i got back home, i began to investigate and learned that on july 6th, cpl nicholson [22-years-old] was on foot patrol in afghanistan and was attacked by a hidden improvised explosive device [IED], tragically losing both his legs and one of his arms.  i continued to his michael nicholson fund facebook page and found this article about the endless search for IEDs in afghanistan.  i also learned that the young man in the 11th photo down, cpl justin crabbe, who is from the same unit, also lost both of his legs due to an IED explosion in afghanistan.

on october 13th, corporal nicholson walked for the first time since july...

corporal nicholson is an american hero. a wounded warrior. a brave, young man, who has sacrificed beyond words. i can't imagine his pain. his suffering. i honor him -- his determination, strength, dedication...his courage.  corporal nicholson is a true inspiration for us all.

if you would like to donate to corporal nicholson's road to recovery fund, here is the info:

The “Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery Fund” is set up and administered by Alley, Clark and Greiwe, PA in Tampa. 100% of the donations will go toward Nicholson's care, specifically on items not covered by the Veterans Administration. The fund is set up at the Bank of Tampa. Donations can be sent c/o Alley, Clark and Greiwe, PA P.O. Box 3127 Tampa FL 33601. Please only donate directly to them or Bank of Tampa and please make sure checks are made out to "Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery Fund"


being a military spouse, i loved reading this article -- 10 things you may not know about military wives, recently shared on facebook by one of my best friends, gwenn, who i was a nurse with at davis-monthan AFB.


lastly, i share photos of some of the veterans [and their families] that i have photographed over the past few years...

i thank you. i celebrate you. i honor you. today... and every day. so grateful to be part of the military family. HAPPY VETERANS DAY!


if we must part forever,give me but one kind word to think upon and please myself with, while my heart's breaking. - thomas otway

okay, so the quote's a bit dramatic. but that's how i feel right now -- having to leave kansas already is breaking my heart.

it's just not time to part. i'm not done with you yet. can't we just stay together a bit longer...please.

when i think about leaving kansas, i feel so anxious.  i want to in twirl in the fields, run through the corn, pick apples. i feel like there's so much that i want to do. and see. and photograph. i'm just not done!! one year is too short.

yesterday, i took the kids location scouting, for my shoot tomorrow.  and as i drove all around, i thought about how much we have all enjoyed it here.  and how this one-year family adventure that has been so magical almost never happened.

i know military families are probably thinking, don't you feel this way every time you PCS (permanent change of station).

yes, in a way, but i think the shorter the time spent in the location, the stronger the heartbreak.  maybe others would feel the opposite.  i don't know.  i was definitely sad when we left san diego, but after four years, anything not seen, done or accomplished was my own fault. here in kansas, i feel like we just didn't have enough time for a full relationship.

but my memories are many. and i will never forget our time spent here in lansing, kansas -- a place i never dreamed i'd one day live.  and i'm so grateful we did.

thank you kansas for all the fabulous times you brought me and my family this past year. thank you!!

a few shots from our location scouting travels yesterday.  my kids were such troopers, as i drug them all around -- 40-minute drive here, 30-minute drive there, 35-minute drive home.  i promised them that we'll get back to the orchard before we depart -- to play with the dog, cats, chicken and ducks :-)

p.s. don't tell ryder that i showed you this pic.  not sure i have the color quite right yet BUT -- how darn cute is he, with his little farmer's tan and all?  needless to say, temps felt like 100 yesterday, while shooting -- hot, sticky and sweaty...but fun!!