Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Years?

Where has all the time gone?

Today we remember breathlessly holding two babies. Soft snow laying a white background. We could never tell you through our tears and pain, that we would be okay. The next day seemed impossible, let alone months and years.

Yet, here we are. Two years later. It is pretty incredible the transformation and beauty that can be birthed in sorrow. Not saying that we are perfect, quite the contrary. We learn how to live with the imperfections, we embrace our humanity. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and yet we live in a fallen world. It is in the shadows that we realize the beauty of the light.

Two tiny lives that we never really knew have given us a chance to ask questions about life that may have never been asked.

Two years ago, another woman was only a month from giving birth to a child, she too, could not keep. Completely different situations and stories, but I have to believe similar heartache. We don't plan these things.

Two lives made way for another child's future. The situation opened our home and hearts for a different path to becoming parents.

Here we are, tree lights twinkling, snow fall again, Christmas wrap on the floor. During a time of year that has shown us such pain, our hearts are full with the anticipation of Christmas. A little boy's excitement for small and wonderful things. Two parents anxiously await the birth of the new baby. The warmth of a memory of two sweet lives that never were, and yet are always here.

David shared a song with me yesterday. The whole song is wonderful, but this one verse grabbed us both.

the table is set and our glasses are full
though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole
we’ll build new traditions in place of the old
‘cause life without revision will silence our souls

Merry Christmas.


the branches have traded their leaves for white sleeves
all warm-blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe
scarves are wrapped tightly like gifts under trees
christmas lights tangle in knots annually

our families huddle closely
betting warmth against the cold
but our bruises seem to surface
like mud beneath the snow

so we sing carols softly, as sweet as we know
a prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
like young love still waiting under mistletoe
we’ll welcome december with tireless hope

let our bells keep on ringing
making angels in the snow
may the melody disarm us
when the cracks begin to show

like the petals in our pockets
may we remember who we are
unconditionally cared for
by those who share our broken hearts

the table is set and our glasses are full
though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole
we’ll build new traditions in place of the old
‘cause life without revision will silence our souls

so let the bells keep on ringing
making angels in the snow
may the melody surround us
when the cracks begin to show

like the petals in our pockets
may we remember who we are
unconditionally cared for
by those who share our broken hearts

as gentle as feathers, the snow piles high
our world gets rewritten and retraced every time
like fresh plates and clean slates, our future is white
new year’s resolutions will reset tonight
(Artist: Sleeping At Last Album: Yearbook/December)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Do

Thanksgiving week. Late Buck. The chill of November and the excitement of Christmas.

Lip stick checks, heels, boutonnieres, cake, red roses. Church bells.

This cute Puerto Rican firecracker said "I Do" to this handsome fellow...




Yep! That's my dad!

We all know that nobody is perfect. Even more, two people living together doesn't make our problems disappear. I'm not going to tell you how perfect my parents are, or that I never heard a harsh word in my life. However, I do believe that 26 years of marriage doesn't just happen without doing a few things right. More than that though, I want  YOU, Mom and Dad, to know how you are seen by myself, David and Zachary. I want you and everyone that reads this today to know all the ways you've been there for us. As you think back on the 26 years together, think about the good times and be thankful, the tough times and know we all have ours, the beautiful moments and hold each other a bit closer.

You gave me life.
A good one too.

And after a few years, you gave me a whole tribe to grow up with. Six beautiful siblings. What more could a bossy oldest girl want?!

With a few bumps in the road, you've gotten 4 of us through high school. A few more reluctant than others.  Only 3 left! Photobucket

Here and there you took us on some road trips. Who knew some would be more fateful than others?
(* For those of you who might be tuning in, this photo was taken when our family made a trip from Western Washington, to Eastern Oregon for New Years to visit the Henry family. Almost all on behalf on myself. It was during this trip that David and I knew we couldn't live without each other and started plotting our teenage love into marriage.)

David and I in the red coats at the wise old age of 19 and 17.

You've married 3 of your daughters.


Thankfully they get progressively older with each wedding. We've yet to make it out of the teens before the alter.

Mom and Dad, you are truly cherished. Each in your own way you make our lives fuller, richer, happier.

Dad your work ethic, though slightly overkill, is something I hope to teach my children. Never, ever, did I wonder if we would be provided for. Without a doubt we all knew you would do whatever work it took not just to give us the basics, but now as a parent, I know you gave your children so much more than the minimum. You encouraged honesty, virtue and hard work. Recently you allowed me to learn something else. We both enjoy fresh, local food that we've worked hard for. You are always the biggest fan of my backyard tomatoes. You are also one of my favorite people to cook for. You always make me feel like I am a renowned chef. This fall you took me outdoors, pregnant and all. I learned the joy and satisfaction not in killing for sport, but in providing for my family.  Though I don't enjoy hunting stories, guns, target shooting and gutting out an animal, you brought a very fulfilling experience into my life. Sitting in the cold morning air with you made me feel like your little girl again. Your calm, okay not calm, but wise direction and presence made me feel confident. Your reverence and thankfulness for the animal showed me that man has a lot to be thankful for and we must take care to realize this each time we take something from the earth. Even more, you and I worked for hours cutting and packing meat. We talked. You showed me meat cuts. Your dad was a butcher. Though he has been gone a while, I like that you taught me something your dad taught you.

Mom, your hospitality is a beautiful thing. Open are your doors. That includes strange friends, stray cats, dogs, birds, chickens. The fact that a little bit of Grandpa Hollister is in you is undeniable. Not only is the number of children you bore remarkable, but so is the number of times we've all packed your home with hungry friends. You take time for people. Babies are your specialty. Didn't you have 3 of my friends kids plus Zach spur of the moment once so we could do Cinco De Mayo dinner as adults? Late nights are your trademark. I'm beginning to understand, now that I too am a mom. A dark quiet house is like a sanctuary. Though once we hit a certain age, you had a harder time having a dark house to yourself. You've learned the art of sharing everything with your children. I very specifically remember one day that I had seen you give, and give. I was probably around 11 years old. You went and got an apple for yourself, then one hungry small sibling wanted some too. I remember taking up your defense and telling them "No! That is Moms! Leave her alone." I'm pretty sure you smiled at me, but went ahead and gave your apple away. Whenever I have a rough day, and that is just with one sweet little boy, I always shake my head and wonder how on earth you did it! Photobucket

Taking the best of both your strengths, you've made some unhappy times into simply twists and turns in our paths. We've each had them, and will continue to I'm sure. Changing jobs mid life, moving 350 miles from family to a new town. The struggle of making children into adults. To name a few.

For David and I, your support and presence during our most tragic moment helped us through.

Being there when we first met Zachary is such a cherished memory.

Who would have thought our sweet little family of 9 would have grown into this crazy crowd of 14!
With two more grand babies expected in 2011!

And just think, all this before you even turn 50!
We love you so much! Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! You guys look great to boot!


Love, Alyssa

Monday, November 22, 2010


Today came with a feeling of excitement. A slight wonder if I am really making the best choice. The confirmation that I am. A small amount of regret. A happy thought of the future.

Let me explain.

Today was my last photo shoot as Alyssa Henry Photography. For a very long time.  I've been looking forward to being done working. With an active almost two year old and a 6 month pregnant belly, I'm tried. Zach deserves and needs all almost all my attention. When he does calm down or rest, I should take it easy as well. Plus I haven't mentioned the fact that my wonderful husband goes to work 5 days a week to provide fully for us. I like working, I like the purpose it gives me outside the home. I love people, and I really like when I make them happy with my work.

David gave me very first camera for my 18th birthday. I was elated. I had always wanted a camera and to learn photography. I still have a lot to learn. I played with it for a few years and down the road a few people asked me to do small photo jobs for them. One thing led to another and for the past 3 years I've been enjoying every summer doing portraits and weddings.

It's funny as I write about it, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to be done. It really isn't, I guess it just feels weird. I've put a lot of work and time into what it is right now. Though, to be honest, I couldn't be happier about the thought of photographing my own family more often. Who knows, maybe I'll even get around to having some photos in our house! That's the other thing, when you do it for everyone else, you never get around to doing it for yourself.

I have a few photo/art projects in mind that I've always wanted to do. Maybe in my free time I'll actually use my camera for different subjects. I plan on keeping my photo blog for posting photos, just not in the way I have previously.

I thought I'd end my post with one of the very first images I ever took. 6 years ago, I thought this was a good shot. I like looking at it now, trying not to pick it apart entirely (it really is poorly composed for almost every reason) we all have to have our first shots at something new.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

 For the love that comes into our home and hearts. 
And for the kicks and flips that come from in my belly.

Happy Thursday.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween From the Henrys!





"Mom is this smile big enough for that piece of candy you are holding?"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday

In every form of the word "thankful", David and I are.

Long story. I'll try to make it shorter.

I requested to have my ultrasound done at a bigger hospital for this pregnancy. I wanted the "pros" to do it.  St. Luke's to be specific. My doctor didn't mind at all and set it all up for us. When I requested that we had it done in Boise, I just meant at the hospital where the "normal" people get theirs done. My doctor scheduled me at the Maternal Fetal Medicine office. I didn't mind, but they are specialist, they are there for the times that things don't look so good.

Once we got into the office for my appointment, I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. This was where we found out about TTTS with our twin boys. We were early, so we waited. I couldn't believe I had come back here. "What a huge mistake" I kept thinking. The ultrasound tech called us back. She was the same one who told us about the complications. I recognized her face right away. Then she took us to the SAME room. I wanted to run.

She asked me how I was feeling. Then she told us she recognized us from two years ago. We recognized her, but I didn't think anyone there would remember us. She went on to tell us she had heard through our cousin, who had gone to the same clinic for her babies, that we were thinking of adopting. I started to feel a little more comfortable.

The ultrasound went well. Our doctor who so compassionately walked us through the whole diagnosis, surgery, delivery and loss of our boys came into the room after the tech was done. He took a look at the baby. Shook my hand and gave me an A+ for making a healthy baby. We breathed.

Leaving the office with that news gave us a redemptive feeling for the place, time of year and the attempt to grow our family. This time instead of tears and shock, we drove home with content smiles.


I thought I'd share another story that happened today in the ultrasound room.

When we saw the baby's profile, I instantly though "Oh my gosh it looks like Zachary." When the technician left the room, I told David what I thought. We instantly laughed, preggo brain forgot that Zach didn't come from the same little nest that this baby is growing in. I guess it just goes to show how much you can love a little guy, whether he was born to me, a woman in Portland, Jamaica, Antarctica or on the moon!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Frankly, I'm feeling the same way right now. I'm just not as cute. AND I would never post photos of myself doing this.


This happens to be my favorite photo.

May Tuesday not be so tiring.
Good Night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thankful Thursday


Need I Say More?


Because I don't know how to do a blog post without out talking, I do need to say more. There is a story with these photos and it goes like this...

Once upon a time there was a very fussy little boy. Not milk or juice, cookies or cheese, movies or music, nor toys and games and certainly not his mommy or daddy could fix his tears and sorrows. Even the most magical place in all the land could not help this little boy. You see, even at the Park he still cried and threw some dragon-like fits.

His mommy's ears and head were starting to hurt from all the sad noises coming from inside her home. She did everything she knew how to do, then left the rest up to daddy when he got home from work. Daddy did his best while mommy made dinner, but nothing could break the poor little boys spell.

Then, at last, the doorbell rang. Grandma and Papa came in to join us for dinner and though the little boy didn't want to eat and spilled everything off his tray, it was what happened after dinner that saved the day.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Love Struck

I should be working right now. Zach is being watched so I can work. Precious time to be productive without ignoring my little one's needs.

My mind is completely preoccupied.

I've never been that woman that just loves being pregnant. I do have nice hair as an outcome, but I'm not too fond of putting weight on. I love a full nights sleep. Eating more is a benefit, but for some reason this time I am eating too much I am sure. I'm always on the go, so when my energy runs out around noon and I'm completely spent by 7pm I feel like I'm always behind, always, always tired. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I'm not. I am thankful I can be pregnant.  I just can't relate to woman who love being pregnant.

Yesterday I heard the little heart beat at the doctors office. I think I've been love struck since yesterday afternoon! Then I heard my heartbeat in the background. My steady, much slower, calm and strong heart is guiding and growing that fast little pulse. I swallowed back a tear. Oh how many tears have been dropped on doctor office floors from my eyes.

Of course I worry about having a healthy baby.  I don't want to get too attached in-case of all the "what ifs". I can't bare the thought of leaving the hospital without my baby(ies) again.  But something unexplainable happens when you see or hear that little life inside of you. It is completely impossible not to attach. Not to do anything it would take to give it the best chance at life you could give it. Overcome with love for someone you've never met, yet 24 hours a day it is inside of you. We are one.

Maybe I should get back to work.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thankful Thursday

So I haven't been very consistent with my blogging, even less consistent with the Thursday posts about something you are thankful for. I guess it's never too late to try again.

Today is Thursday. I was supposed to be in St. Helens visiting my grandma this week. She only has dial up internet, no cell phone coverage, cooks great comfort food and has the best beds to sleep in! I was really looking forward to my weeks stay. I needed some time to rest, a break from work, and she hasn't gotten to spend much time with Zachary. When our departure date came Zach was really sick. Green sick. So instead of going only for a day or two, we completely rescheduled the trip. I was so bummed! I told my grandma I wanted to be selfish and come anyway, and she said in her wise grandma way "We've all had to learn the disappointments of being a mommy to a sick baby."

I tried to make the best of it, I still took the week off of work (almost), finished and started some house projects and nursed my sick little monster sweetie back to health.

So, today is Thursday and I'm thankful for Netflix. Seriously. We just got it and you can watch older movies instantly online. (We don't have TV or cable or such.) I found 'Kipper Helps Out' an agreeable dog with a sunny smile that learns some valuable life lessons while helping out some new friends. I cut an apple and a few slices of cheese. Put my little man on the couch. Ignored the runny nose and the fussy tones. Don't judge. I got 20 minutes of blissful cleaning done. And this cute photo to boot!

I think he knows how to work it. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dear You,

I've been doing some thinking lately. Some thinking that requires some quiet time, so it doesn't happen very often. I've been finding some quiet spaces here and there in the mornings and a few times while I've been in the car driving.

Many of the thoughts have been about you. Yes, whoever is on their computer reading this now. Some of you have written me emails, others call, some post comments. I'm so happy you like reading my blog; but more than that, why would you? Very few have lost twins to TTTS like us, and few have adopted through DHS. Even fewer are married by 17 and have 6 siblings. I don't pride myself in thinking I am completely unique, but I do often feel strangely that no one has been in my shoes.

During one of my quiet mornings I was listening to a book on tape (well CD) and heard this;

"It is the fashion of today to complain about these missing pieces- to blame our backstory for not having fully prepared us. But I think that's a mistake. I think we are all meant to search. We have all been taught some of what love is, and the rest we have to go figure out. There is a yearning to fill our gaps, to make up for what we have missed.

This is true for us, and it was true for our parents, and it was true for every generation before them. Unfortunately, it will also be true for our children. This is the nature of life. We have not been cheated. We get this chance at life, but we have to hold up our end of the bargain. We have to learn what love is, learn the parts we missed and pass it on. That's the deal."

Now, Po Bronson is talking about family in his book "Why Do I Love These People?". Families that have 'lost their way' and make life-long journeys to love and forgive. Truly it is a great read.

When I heard those two paragraphs, I knew something. Though he was talking about family, it also relates to us as individuals in this life. We are searching. Though you may not have done or experienced some or any of the pieces that make up my story, YOUR story is really not that different.

Pain, suffering, love, connection, being a parent, or being a child. Forgiveness and mercy, deception and despair. Frustration and breakthroughs, triumph and failures. They are what make us human. They are what bind us is sharing this experience in life. What make us brother and sister on such an unknown journey. We each have a past and from it we try to make tomorrow better. Each of our tomorrows are still secret to us, but we hope and anticipate for it. Though mine may not look or read just like yours, the same joy and sadness that I speak of, you have felt.

Loss and beauty are each ours to have. It is what we do with them, how we weave them into our lives that can determine how we see ourselves and our world. Like they are mine, they too are yours.

Thank you for helping this be a place where I've learned, shared, healed and hoped.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This Summer and The Moments

This summer has been vastly different from any other I've yet to live. Having six years of your husband and most of your time all to your self, leaves much to be learned when it comes to mommy-hood.

A few things I've learned, and a few I'm still working on;

1. You can't do it all.

2. Not being frustrated that you can't do it all.

3. I'm not a bad person if we eat cereal for dinner.

4. He isn't a bad person even if his face looks like this Photobucket OR this Photobucket

5. If I'm at the doctors office, grocery store, or home, the most important thing is how I respond to that face.

6. It used to take moments in places like these to make my heart leap and my mind to feel alive. Travel, discovery, and seeing something new for the first time. No one could have told me that waking up to the same little face every morning would be my new discovery. It is now these moments, that truely make my spirit fly. The same gentle touch. His soft hair on my face. Never could these moments stop making me feel like I have the whole world in my arms.

7. Some of the hardest moments have been admitting our faults and short comings. It's hard to see things that you once loved not getting the time and attention they deserve. We only have so much energy, and we must be prudent about how we spend it. Saying goodbye to some dear friends is painful, and yet I have to find comfort that we did the right thing.

8. It's okay to cry.

9. Don't resubscribe to Martha Stewart Magazine. I'm nothing near the "magazine" house, yard, food, ect.

10. Don't be too busy for moments like these...

11. Even though adjusting to a child can be hard at times on a marriage, I am constantly overwhelmed at the love and goodness that David shows our little guy.

12. It's okay if he doesn't think this is as good of an idea as I do.

13. Raising a child that was born to another woman has it's challenges at times. Recently a frequent prayer leaving my heart asks for compassion and love for her. We have some limited written contact and it can be painful, sad and also difficult not to pass judgment for things. I know this one thing, he is in my arms, but I know he is still in her heart and I just pray we can be who we need to be to him first, and second to her.

14. It is okay to cry.

15. Art and craft projects, hosting fancy meals, having a weed free yard, wearing clothes without food remnants stuck to them, blow drying my hair, shopping just for fun, having fresh flowers arranged around the house, and visible vacuum lines in the carpet just can't take the place of watching moments like these...

16. Taking time for each other is so valuable.

17. Remembering that it was because of this person I felt like I had a reason to be better. With him, I wanted to live life. This life.

18. In the craziness of life and all the reasons to fear the unknown, it was this picture this morning that caused me to hope. Believe in life. Maybe for the first time in 13 weeks I was overwhelmed with deep excitement. Finally letting go of some of my fears, I felt the joy and allowed myself to be touched by the delight of new life.