Masthead header

    Hi i'm tori, a portrait photographer in Syracuse, ks and i'm so glad you stopped by! I started my business in 2004 and have been on a crazy ride since. I am a wife to jeff and a mama to reid and ivy. Our lives are pretty crazy most days, but I love developing new relationships with everyone who walks through our door. My new studio and I have a love/hate relationship, but we are starting to move into more love. I would love for you to come see me.

baby diapers

DSC_3973Recovering from my mastectomy, getting ready to leave for Denver for my 6 week stay for radiation. The reconstruction has had its ups and downs, very painful at times, but I’m getting used to that! Feeling better all the time and trying to get my house back in order. This is an impossible task. I have a weight restriction of 10 lbs, and I want to throw 100 lb boxes of junk in the dumpster every day, so this is an issue. I seem to be craving a simpler life, less stuff, more time. I just want to completely work my house over. Not having control of anything this past year must be a big reason why I’m taking such drastic measures in my house! So far I’ve done pretty good, but today I had an emotional breakdown. Today I started on the kid’s closet. It’s so full of un-needed stuff, but it’s also full of all the baby stuff. I had been saving a full box of size newborn diapers for the baby I knew I would carry in the future. That baby won’t come. We will never use those diapers, or all those receiving blankets, or those sweet baby sleepers again. I lost it. I don’t know why it was the diapers that did me in, but I can barely look at them.

Reid wondered why I was crying and I told him, it was because mommy can’t have another baby. He said, “well not now because you’re sick, but when you’re all better you can.” I had to tell him, “even then I won’t, it is just going to be you and Ivy.” He thought about that a minute, and said “that’s ok.” When I look at the relationship I have with my sister, or the relationship my brothers have with each other, it just makes me sad. I wanted so badly for my kids to have that same thing. I know we are so blessed to have two healthy children, and I am so thankful for them, but my vision for my family has always been more children. I have had to mourn the idea of that, and keep my focus on what we do have. I’ve been thinking of positives to two children…smaller car, one hotel room, less college tuition…but I never thought about more children as more financial burden, I just saw them as a blessing to our family.

In the beginning of cancer, the hope for another baby was high. My doctor was very confident this could happen. After learning the news after surgery, that not only did I have one positive lymph node (which we already knew about) but two, things changed. They removed two at the time of surgery, our prayer is that those were the only two with disease. This is why the radiation is so important. It needs to knock out any remaining disease. This was a bad day when we learned of the two nodes. I went from feeling like we got it, I’m about done, surgery will take care of whatever is left after chemo….to, what does this mean for my life, am I going to spend the rest of my life in and out of remission? Are my children going to have to live without a mother?
In that moment I knew another baby was too much of a risk. I’m not willing to risk Reid and Ivy living without a mother, just so I can have another baby.
My cancer was fed by estrogen and progesterone, right now they are suppressing my ovaries with a monthly injection. If I were to go off the injection, get back to normal, and have a baby, my body would be once again flooded with these hormones that fed my tumor. I will continue to have faith that my body has been eradicated of any disease, but I still do not want to take that chance. I never want to go through this again.

So, in the meantime, I am looking at those two little kids and imagining their futures. Less fighting, more loving. Having each other, and being best friends. Like Jeff said, “we already have the perfect family.” After surgery, my mom asked me, “why would you want to have another, when you already have two perfect ones?”

We have these perfect plans for our lives, everything just so. Then something really big happens to throw us off our perfect plan, and it’s a hard life lesson. God’s plan is so much more perfect than anything I can think up in my head. Cancer has taught me to be patient, to hand over all control, and to live day to day. This isn’t easy, ever. I have those days, where I am perfectly content, just fine with not knowing the future or what tomorrow will bring. These days I know my heart is in the right place, with God. Trusting, hoping, having faith. I need more days like this, but lately I’ve had a lot more of the other kind. Since I started to feel better, I’m ready to get on with things. Ready for God to show me this big wonderful plan, today. Not tomorrow, or 3 months from now, right now. I’m tired of being patient and waiting around, I did plenty of that in the last 7 months. I help God out by coming up with, what I think are really awesome ideas, and just wait for God to say, “great one Tori! Let’s go with that!” God is reminding me daily to be patient, be still. So, while I’m being patient and still, I’m going to completely de-clutter my house! This could take years.
So…soon I will leave for Denver. I’m trying to think of it as a vacation to keep me positive. At this point, nothing phases me! Except baby diapers.

a little life update…

Over a 1/4 the way done with chemo. I’ve done 5 treatments and have 11 left. Today that feels like too big of mountain to climb, so I’m just going to focus on today. One day at a time, if I think about much more than that I just get overwhelmed. My body is responding great to the chemo, and the cancer is shrinking. This is great news! I felt so encouraged after finding this out, then I came home and started losing my hair. You know it’s coming, but you still really aren’t totally prepared. I can no longer pass for normal. I look like a cancer patient, and this isn’t an easy thing. I keep reminding myself that this is just one more step in the process of getting better. I don’t think it’s really about not having hair, as much as it’s about just looking “sick” and attracting way more attention than I want. I love the innocence of my kids. They don’t care a bit, and for that I’m thankful. It was like just another day to Ivy when Jeff buzzed my head. Like, we do this every Thursday! Reid came in and asked if I wanted my old hair back? They haven’t said a word about it since.
For now this is me, and I’d rather have my life than hair any day! Maybe it will grow back in the most perfect effortless beach wave. A girl can hope.

Doctors seem to think I’ve been doing great, so I’m going to take their word for it. It can always be worse! Seems every week is different, and just when you feel really good again, you get in the car and you drive west and start all over again. More than anything I’m tired. Sleeping at night has become a thing of the past, and naps aren’t happening either. Did you know that Forensic Files plays all night long on HLN? This is my go-to show. For some weird reason I find it relaxing. I think I like it so much because it has nothing to do with cancer. In November I will start on a new Chemo drug, and it’s supposed to be more difficult. I will cross that bridge when I get there. By my calculations we should be all done with chemo on December 22nd. Christmas can’t come fast enough this year! What a great feeling it will be to know I’m done for Christmas.

On the days I feel numb, or tired of this, or sad, I’m thankful for your prayers. I know that the strength or peace I have is not from me. I let myself off the hook and let God carry me. I’m only human, and a really tired one right now. God doesn’t expect me to carry this weight, and He takes it off of me daily. I think sometimes we think we need to be everything all the time, and we don’t. Life is so much simpler than we ever allow it to be.

I remember the first long day we had at the hospital in Denver, we spent all day in appointments with many different doctors and surgeons. It was not a fun day. As we leave the hospital I’m feeling exhausted and sad. Wondering why this is all happening to me? Then I look over to the Children’s Hospital as we turn to head back home, and say to Jeff, “It could be way worse, we could be going there.” He says, “you’re right, that would be way worse.” From that moment on I decided that me having cancer is not so bad. Every single time we drive in or out of our hospital I look over to Children’s and pray for every sick child in there, and their families who deal with the unthinkable. I would go through this 1000 more times to protect my kids. The parent’s of those sweet children are fighting a far greater battle than me. This has a way of whipping me into shape when I need it.

Jeff moved my computer into the house a couple of weeks ago, so when I feel good I can work. I’m doing my best to get caught up. I haven’t forgotten about any of you, I’m so thankful for your understanding! Some days I need the distraction of work, and others it’s just too much, but I haven’t boxed up my computer yet, so don’t give up on me!

We have been completely overwhelmed by the amount of love and support we have received. The cards, letters, gifts, prayers, time, and meals have been unimaginable. To say we have been blown away is an understatement. We just don’t feel worthy of all the generosity, but are so thankful for you all.

Because of God’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 23-23

The next chaper in our lives…

This year has been like no other. The month of June marked the tenth year for my business, but I haven’t been celebrating. For the last several months, my business has all but stopped. Never, in ten years have I felt such a halt. I was feeling very confused and rejected. Doubts just flooded in. I wasn’t good at what I do any more. Everything Jeff and I pursued seemed to be rejected. Nothing was making sense. In this time God was pulling me closer, preparing me for the next big thing. I finally completely surrendered, let myself off the hook and sat back and waited. Waited, on God to reveal to me the next chapter of our lives. I could feel it; we were so close to it. I was excited to see what it was, and I knew we were right on the edge of something. I kept telling people, “I’m taking one day at a time, God has a plan for me that is great, and I am going to trust in Him and be patient.”
Well, the big thing is here. All this time I was expecting something great and wonderful, and instead it is not. On July 8th, my 32nd birthday I had a biopsy done on a lump on my breast, and three days later I learned I have cancer. On this day, my life changed forever.
All this time God was protecting me, preparing us. Closing doors, because He knew. For this I am so thankful, and feel so loved. I am already so overwhelmed by all the love and support we have been flooded with. We are so blessed with such great people in our lives.
Our God is so perfect, and I already know that He will bring good from all of this heartache we are feeling. I am so sad for those around me who are suffering along with us.
I know that many of you have sessions scheduled, and I will contact you individually. I plan on keeping as many of those sessions as I can, and I’m sorry for those who have contacted me and not heard back yet. I haven’t forgotten about you, and I will be in touch when I know more about what is to come.
Thank you all for your patience and understanding. I care about you all!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Mother’s Day!

Mother’s day is one of those holidays that really sneaks up on us! Our mothers leave a lasting impression in our lives, and where would we be without them? I know at this stage in my life I’m just trying to survive most days. I need to remind myself, to “be the mother you want your kids to remember” (stole that from pinterest of course). Our little ones do look to us like we are angels, although I am so far from it most days! “Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother” (this is another steal from pinterest by Lin Yutang)
I am constantly reminding myself, that God put me on this earth to be Reid and Ivy’s mama, and that is my job. Not always glamorous, and not always fun, but the greatest job. This time is so fleeting, we hear it all the time, but the scary thing is, it’s true. I have little memories of my mom when I was young. They are small, and nothing that was important. Very ordinary moments, but they are lasting. I want my kids to have these of their mother, and remember me as being loving, gentle, patient, and kind. Not so sure that is how they would describe me right now. I did not intend for this post to turn into this, but my goodness! Now look what I’ve done! God has a way of convicting us, and teaching us lessons in our daily moments. Well this is one of those for me. I swear, after you have kids you turn into a total sap.
So, after all this…for goodness sakes mothers, take pictures with your kids!! Don’t always be the one behind the camera, get in there with them! Trust me, when they are old and grown, they are going to want to look back and see how beautiful their mother was. They are not worried about that extra 10 lbs, or that bad haircut. They want to see your smile, and how you held them.

Thank you for enduring this emotional moment with me:)I’m going to go hug my kids!mothersdayblgo

The Never-ending session!!

For one reason or another we have scheduled this session many times and failed! Bad weather, sickness…you name it!! Finally got a pretty evening, with only “moderate” wind:)So thankful Lupita was able to come back and do some outdoor. Getting excited about the 2015 seniors!!DSC_1001cDSC_1078 copyDSC_1134DSC_1156 copyDSC_1249 copyDSC_1266 copyDSC_1275 copyr