Twelve by Twelve month 2 Home is where the heart is.
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Friday, February 27, 2015
By Laurel
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Home is where the heart is. 

I wanted to use this month's theme to focus on my clients, friends and community. I thought long and hard about how I could do this and I came up with moms.   


They are the heart of the home.  I wanted to "spotlight" moms who have stories.  Significant stories.  I know as moms we all have stories but I wanted to share these life altering stories.  So I reached out to many of my mom friends who I thought "had stories" and who I thought would want to share.  While the response was pretty favorable, I had many turn me down but I also had one mom who introduced me to a new to me mom.  You will meet moms who have endured infertility, death, diabetes, cancer, severe allergies, adoption, foster care, being a young mother, and seizures. 


Meet Jen and her 4 kids.  Jen is a mom I know from my children's school.  I don't know her that well, but approached her when I saw her with A.  Both Jen and her husband had the idea of wanting to adopt weren't too sure.  So they prayed and decided that possibly entering the foster care system might guide them to making the right decision for them and their family.  While fostering has it's challenges it certainly has it's rewards.  Sweet A couldn't be more lucky to be with such a loving family.  



Meet Lori and her 5 kids.  Years ago Lori was a client of mine.  At the time she had 3 kids.  We developed an amazing friendship and also went into business together 2 years ago with a boudoir studio.  Sadly we let it go a year after but continue to be great friends.  She's my personal photographer and I am hers.  It couldn't get any better.  Lori has always wanted to adopt a little girl from Africa.  With many attempts to adopt and many disappointments she and her husband entered into the fostering world.  They took in a 5 yo old boy and then found out their dream to adopt was coming true.  They went from 3-5 in a very short period of time.  She is an incredible mother with a super BIG heart!!!     

loriandkids web

Good news.... on February 11 I had the honor to attend the adoption hearing of her foster son.  The hearing took about 15 minutes but it was quite powerful.  So now they are a TRUE complete family of 7!

Peyton 1 web


Meet Kim and her sweet boys. Kim and I met a few summers ago at the pool through a mutual friend. A year later after meeting, she found out she had a lump in her breast which led to breast cancer.  She went through a double mastectomy and chemo and KICKED that cancers ass.  She is a true warrior!

kim2 web


Meet Donna and her son.  Donna and I have known each other for many years.  We taught together for 3 years.  During that time she met and married an amazing single dad who had a daughter at the school and 2 older children.  A few years later they had their son.  6 years ago in 2009 Donna's life changed in an instant.  Her husband died from a heart attack.  J was 3.  When J was 5, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.   With lots of love from friends and family she has persevered and made it her mission to be the best mom for sweet J.    Donna has been through more than she has deserved, but this lady ALWAYS has a smile on her face!

donna web


Meet Samantha and her little boy.  Samantha and I have been best friends for over 20 years.  We have been through it all together.... failed relationships... unexpected death of a parent, marriages... you name it... we have always been there for each other.  She was in the delivery room for both of my kids births and I was waiting to be there for hers.... however Samantha dealt with many years of infertility.   In February of 2012 she came over and surprised me with a pregnancy test.   Sweet R was born 6 weeks early in Nov. 2012 and I got to witness and photograph it all!  It was nothing short of amazing!



Meet Kerry and her 3 adorable girls.  I met Kerry at the gym years ago.  Over the course of being facebook friends I have watched from afar her struggles with her middle daughter suffering from severe allergies.   She's very vocal about it and the safety of her daughter and other children with severe allergies so much that the family will be moving to NC to a town that is more forward thinking when it comes to the safety of children in schools that suffer from these allergies.   Little Miss M is beyond blessed to have an amazing mom who is such an advocate for her and her health. After spending time in their home for this shoot she shared these pictures of what sweet M goes through when exposed to the things that can kill her.  I had no clue... this is no joke and when a parent says their child has severe allergies PLEASE respect that and remind yourself how blessed you are to have healthy children.   

Kerry gave me permission to share her pictures of her daugher. They are from when she had a reaction to nuts and varous foods.

Kerry 2web


kerry's blog pics


Meet Britt and her two adorable kids.  We met through a mutual friend and she became a client of mine. A year ago they found out their daughter had Type 1 diabetes.  It's been a long difficult road for them as parents and for Sweet I. Managing her diabetes had been tough and they decided a pump was the best thing for her.  You can see it on her waist.   It's pink and I think it's super cute!  This girl has some spunk and it's safe to say this she's not letting this control her life.  The family will be participating in the JDRF walk coming up on April 11.  If you would like to help reach their goal you can donate here.      



 Meet Elizabeth and her sweet son J.  I met Elizabeth when she and her parents moved in next door 10 years ago.  At the time Eliabeth was in High School.  She graduated in 2009.  In her freshman year (2010) she became pregnant. She continued on with college marrying her HS boyfriend and father of her son in 2011 almost a year after J was born.   Both her and her husband attended different colleges and lived apart for the majority of their college education.  Both of them graduated in 2013.  She is now attending University of Tampa nursing school and is planning on graduating in 2016. While working her butt off to finish college and being a mother and wife, her dad was diagnosed with a neurological disease. There were periods of times where they weren't sure if he would make it.  Happy to say her dad is holding his own and doing great.   And this girl has motored through it all. So when you think you can't... you can.  This girl is proof for sure and couldn't be prouder of her.



Meet Alysia and her 3 incredible children... G who is 14, P 11 and A who is 2.   I just met Alycia the other day.  She was introduced to me by a mutual friend Kerry. 

9 years ago their 3 yo son P fell ill with a fever and then began to have seizures.  Their once "normal" bubbly and playful son was diagnosed with Epilepsy and NEVER be the same.  He spent many months in hospitals in Lakeland, Tampa, Gainesville and Miami.  Because of the epileptic seizures P now has a tracheotomy, a shunt (to relieve fluid from his brain) and his bones have been terribly compromised due to the coma. He cannot sit up without assistance. He doesn’t stand and cannot walk. They don’t know if P can see and he doesn’t talk.  He has full time care within the home.  Alysia was very kind to let me photograph her and her children.  She is quite open and wants to share his story.  You can read more about it here.  It's been years since she had updated this website, but it paints a clear picture of what she endured and continues to endure.  

alycia1 web


Thanks for taking the time to read the stories of these amazing woman!  


Now, on to the next photographer in the blog circle, Brooke Hamilton of Hamilton Creek Photography - see her "home is where the heart is” blog post here.

Leave a comment:
Laurel Riffey - Thanks Brookeiebrooke! My beautiful girl!
Laurel Riffey - Thanks Amy! I appreciate your kind words!
Laurel Riffey - Thanks Brooke! It was pretty moving!
Laurel Riffey - Thanks Tiffany!
Brooke riffey - Great joob mommy!
Amy - This is a beautiful post. Such strong women and it was very inspiring to hear each story!!
Tiffany - Beautiful pictures and very powerful stories Laurel.
Brooke - Love your take on the topic this month!!! Great stories and images to go along with the moms!!!