A New Year, New Surprises!

It’s been a long time and I missed you all!  I believe the recommendation once you start a blog is that you write at least once a week to stay relevant…I failed, much like every good attempt at losing weight.  So here we go again.  It’s a new year, new surprises are on the horizon for Studio Bliss Photography, and there are a lot of great memories from my absence to share with you all. 

IMG_3284.jpg
IMG_3587.jpg

Oh man, the last time I blogged was July.  Take a guess what the dry erase calendar on the side of my fridge says too?  That put together, awesome, stay at home summer mom life ended pretty abruptly in the beginning of July for me.  While on vacation with my family in beautiful  Florida, I received a call from Rochester Schools and was officially offered a job as their Intermediate School Art Educator. Within 24 hours, my husband, Nathan, was also offered his dream job with the Illinois Department of Transportation as a Graphic Designer in their Communications Department.   As soon as we got home, it was time to clean out desks and classrooms and start a new chapter of our crazy and unpredictable lives.  In Nathan’s first week, they sent his work to headquarters in Chicago, and since then, his design work has been retweeted and shared by senators, news stations, and has been seen by thousands of people.  He’s so humble and quiet about his accomplishments, but he can’t help but achieve and succeed at everything he does.  Everything he touches turns to gold and everyone who meets him, loves and respects him dearly.  He is a wonderful man, who never says an unkind word about another living soul.  He makes me a better person every day.  This February marks 17 years that we have been together.  We met in art school and I couldn’t be happier that he finally has a career where he gets to do what he loves every day.  We are both so blessed to be involved in the arts and to share our passion with others.  1,000 kids in 4th-6th grades come through my doors every week.  It is a hectic schedule, but I still love what I do every single day.  My heart aches with joy on that first day back teaching, because there is such a feeling of belonging and a truth in knowing that the classroom is just where I am supposed to be. 

 View from my classroom window isn't too shabby!

View from my classroom window isn't too shabby!

Shortly after the new year started, we made plans to go home for Labor Day.  My dad had his routine physical for work and some of his numbers came back a little higher than they should have.  With his biopsy looming, we all banded together to put new roofs on some of the buildings at my parent’s farm, played, ate well, swam and shared time together in solidarity.   

The results came back two weeks later and we found out my dad had cancer.  I still remember absolutely everything about that moment when we found out, and it was devastating.  I never got to meet his dad, my grandpa.  Cancer.  My grandmother, who I idolized and adored as a young child was gone before I was old enough to really know what cancer was.  Both were younger than my own dad is now and it terrified me.  

 My Grandpa

My Grandpa

 My Grandma

My Grandma

We prayed endlessly, talked on the phone constantly with family for support and sent millions of text messages.   He opted for surgery to remove all of the cancer cells and it was successful.  They caught everything early enough and nothing had spread.  It was a reminder to live life to its fullest, take nothing for granted, ALWAYS make the time, and it brought us closer together than ever. I think my dad needed to keep busy and keep life as close to normal as possible.  We decided to open the Bybee Christmas Tree Farm, despite his recovery.  Not to worry, there were lots of mother hens available to keep him off his feet as much as possible. 

IMG_6809.jpg

I wish I had pictures here to show you just what my family has built from the ground up.  It’s incredible and one of the most special places on this earth.  The land used to be my grandfathers and it was where I was born.  Since then, we have put in two ponds, a shed, a garden house, woodworking shed, built a cabin using stones from the fields and barn boards from a barn that was torn down, planted a prairie, and now they built a house overlooking the land where they grow Christmas trees.  It feels so good to go home and be a part of it all.  The physical labor, knowing that we are still building something meaningful to so many, and making memories with the next generation.  This year, we had people drive up to two and a half hours just to get a tree.  It is year four and referrals kept a busy line of cars at the farm until sundown.  My parents are very special people and when you come to their home, you are family immediately.  I have been lucky enough in my lifetime to be surrounded by people who love and support me, work hard and taught me to do the same, and make me day in and day out want to be the best I can be by their own example of selflessness, kindness and constant positivity.  My brother’s friends who are all about college-aged came to work, my grandparents drove in, my parent’s friends from high school made the drive, and many, many more just to lend a helping hand.  The kids helped get me pinecones, made cookies, and delivered sack lunches to the workers.  Nathan hand makes the wreaths and then he brings them to me to decorate.   From Thanksgiving on, we made the trek up North, put on the snow boots and worked the family business.

IMG_6773.jpg
 It's not all work.

It's not all work.

On one of our many trips back home this fall, I started feeling a little under the weather and passed it off, because the weeks were long, there was a lot of travelling, and we were all exhausted.  But then this happened…(fast forward to Christmas Eve night)

So there you have it!  Studio Bliss Photography is expanding, and we could not be happier.  It has been such a beautiful experience this time around.  We had our first three in three and a half years, so none of them were quite old enough to realize what was happening.  This one has been extra special.  We will be taking some time off in late summer, but no worries, we will be up and ready to go for our busy senior and fall session season.  We hope that you have had an amazing start to the new year and wish you all the very best blessings in 2018!  We are looking to get back on schedule, so you should be hearing from us again soon!