LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle: Blog https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog en-us LJReed Photography (LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) Wed, 30 Aug 2023 21:09:00 GMT Wed, 30 Aug 2023 21:09:00 GMT https://www.ljreedphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u628430181-o821830838-50.jpg LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle: Blog https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog 90 120 Upcoming sessions!! https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/8/upcoming-sessions



Hey everyone!!! I just wanted to give you some formal/informal (you decide lol)  information regarding the upcoming sessions for the remainder of the year!!


Thank you to everyone that I got to photograph and catch up with over the summer months! We lucked out with weather and I didn’t have to reschedule one session!! That is some kind of record!


The first session coming up in September is new!! And sold out! I named it ‘second-summer’ because it’s not quite fall yet. Sure, the colors are changing but they aren’t at their peak foliage until later into October depending on the rain we have.  The tall grass, the deep yellows and browns make for stunning backgrounds but the clothing options are endless for these. You can go with a a brighter fall palette when choosing your clothes and leaves more room for accessories!


I am still plugging away at my senior sessions and have room for 2 more in September and October! Senior sessions in fall are great because of the foliage and colors.

When there is only one subject it just pops even more!


I am building the dates for my fall sessions as we speak. I am going with the standard mini-session offer and going to add a smaller package in case a client would need just some updated family shots! I will update the website and give you some notice as to when they will be announced. Within the week, for sure!


Oh, how could I forget??!?!!! The sibling-sports sessions!! I LOVE THESE!! Booking for these are on an individual basis because they are such short sessions and because everyone has crazy schedules this time of year! We also don't have to limit it to just siblings!! Cousins? That's a great gift for the grandparents!


Once I get this all finalized this week, I will enter into the holiday season…….



THE HOLIDAYS???!!!! Warm weather please don't leave us too quickly!



Have a great day everyone!!!





Here are some previews!!



(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) fall mini-sessions fall sessions greensburg irwin pittsburgh photographer https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/8/upcoming-sessions Wed, 30 Aug 2023 20:47:01 GMT
3 strikes but I am back in!! https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/7/3-strikes-but-i-am-back-in Me and my faves at the Pirate Game. 7/23xr:d:DAFpM28TEmQ:4,j:4228151294850890883,t:23072019


Friends!! I have been avoiding this post for a few months….nothing bad but I just have a lot to say and don’t know how!! LOL


Over the winter I was sure that I was going to put photography on the back seat and find something ‘new’ to do. Not because I didn’t love it anymore but because the market is so saturated, money is tight and the world just seems in an all around bad place these days.


But, like every other time I thought about quitting or giving up on something that I love, I didn’t. I may not have as much time as I would like sometimes but photography is my passion, my release, part of my purpose.  So, I’ve been doing a ton of research, thinking, contemplating and overthinking on how and what I want my photography success to look like for the next couple of years.


When I say overthinking, it’s like the overthinking was overthinking.


Part of owning a business, especially when you’re supplying a service is being your own brand. Posting videos, behind the scenes and just all around being the face of the company. While I love all of that, I am not really the video/selfie taker/poster.


Strike 1.


I love photography but also have many other passions that I want to share with you guys but this is a photography page. My website is established, I don’t want to change that. It’s been my business name for 12 years, why change it now. Name changes don’t ‘rebrand’ a business. It simply changes its name.


Strike 2.


The agony of defeat set in that I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t finding my place in the photography world so I was back to quitting…. I love sharing small businesses, things that I am passionate about, stories, photos with a story but for such a simple problem it surely seemed like a giant one to me.


Strike 3.




So here is what I was able to come up with…..


This morning I was explaining my dilemma to Cam and she goes why not just call it ‘LJReed Photography & Blog’? Ummmmmm, why didn’t I think of that?? I kept thinking that I needed some sort of fancy word or name….nope, just basic.


So, from here on out I will be sharing my photography, my favorite recipes, fun facts and all the things that I love…


My page will only have kindness, love, humor and encouragement.


Take your drama to your momma.


I LOVE to write, I know I’ve tried this blog thing a time or two before but I am not sure why I keep ‘taking a break’.


I hope that you will stick around to see the new and improved LJReedPhotography&Blog.


(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/7/3-strikes-but-i-am-back-in Thu, 20 Jul 2023 19:40:17 GMT
Norwin School District https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/norwin-school-district


I am not sure that being a PTA mom was on my list of dreams to be when I grew up but I became everything that a PTA mom is without the mini-van! If there was an event at the elementary school when my children were there, I WAS THERE!! Sign me up! Put me in coach!! It was a lot of work but it was so rewarding and created the most amazing memories for me as a stay-at-home-mom. I hope that my kids cherish them one day as much as I do!


Not only was I fortunate enough to be asked to photograph a variety of events and awards for the Norwin School District, but I also put together 5 yearbooks between two different schools!! Being able to produce a memory of that magnitude is indescribable, at least for someone like me. People look at their yearbooks for decades upon decades, it becomes a part of them; and I was able to provide that for hundreds of kids....WOW.

This particular event pictured below was such a sweet moment. All of the graduating seniors put their caps and gowns on and went back to their respective elementary schools. They walked through the halls of the school with teeny tiny hands waving at them like they were some celebrities. Teachers hoping out of line to hug a former student. I am smiling at the memory. This is why I love what I do. I get to see these things, I get to feel them, see the innocence of a group of 18 year old kids picturing those hallways full of their tiny faces, remembering how those very small hallways once seemed so large. It sends me back to being the scared kid in a big school to remembering the day that I got to speak at my graduation ceremony a mere 15 years ago... Those big kids ran right to the playground where they probably enjoyed it more than they ever had, not knowing or thinking that the next time that they're on those swings they might have a baby on their lap or a child in the building behind them.

These are the moments that matter.  These are the reasons I will always share my gift with everyone when they need me. 


(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/norwin-school-district Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:59:13 GMT
The Brave Face Project - A mom and her babies.... https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/the-brave-face-project---a-mom-and-her-babies


"With brave wings she flies."

A pillar in the community. A smiling face. A brave soul. Selfless. Loving. Kind. Fighter. Granddaugther. Daughter. Aunt. Sister. Wife. And most importantly, Mom.  You didn't need to know Maria personally to know that she was all of those things, you knew because everyone loved her and then when they needed to, fought with her.

I was so thankful they allowed me to go into their home and capture everyday memories for them. (TBFP captures real, fun, awesome moments for families struggling through certain hardships and illness.) Memories I hope that the boys can cherish forever. Memories, that they can see and smile.

I can replay this session in my mind like it was yesterday.  We laughed, I cried, Nathan swung from the ceiling and JJ just rolled his eyes wondering when that kid would stop.  Maria just smiling, soaking it all in.  Brian hating on her last paint-and-sip masterpiece, nerf guns and swinging.  They told me their story as they both looked at each other thankful and amused.

This is just one shot of the series from that day, but seemed fitting for their family.  They laughed when they needed, hugged and had all the love surrounding them.

Please think of them as they start this new chapter.

Maria, you will be missed by so many but your boys have so much love and memories surrounding them that you will never, ever be forgotten. Thank you for showing us what the real meaning of bravery and purpose is.

(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/the-brave-face-project---a-mom-and-her-babies Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:34:33 GMT
Mommy & Me for Lisa's Loves https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/mommy-me-for-lisas-loves

Team name and logo created by Lindsay.





“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou


Many of you already know that Lisa Sczcepankowski was recently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. We got an overwhelming amount of support and money with the bracelets but I wanted to do more!!


First, I want to explain to you who Lisa and her family are to me. I was their primary babysitter for Taylor and Connor starting when they were 3 and 1. Lisa and Bobby instantly treated me like family and their home was my second home. I could go to them with anything and they would help and guide me through it, a second set of parents.


Watching Taylor and Connor grow up into amazing young adults was and is such an honor. We've always considered each other like siblings. I love that they feel they can turn to me with anything because Lisa provided me that growing up. I am so happy that now they both babysit for me and play a role In my kid's lives. Cameryn and Landon adore them and Nick and Ally. Connor also has a nice love affair with out yellow lab, Harley!


I'm a stay at home mom and when Cameryn was about 18 months old she needed more interaction with kids. I was so afraid to leave her and the only person (aside from grandparents) that I was comfortable with watching her was Lisa. Lisa watched her one morning a week for me to grocery shop, roam target or schedule an appointment. I am so thankful that Lisa got to share that with Cameryn.


I would do anything for the 4 of them and I know that there are a lot of others that feel the same way. Lisa has always loved me unconditionally so these are just small ways that I can show her how much I love her!!


A small portion of the proceeds will go to the Cancer Caring Center and YACS as they continue to support young adults battling cancer.


(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/mommy-me-for-lisas-loves Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:31:49 GMT
The Brave Face Project https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/the-brave-face-project


Brayden on his first birthday!! 

From the time I was very little I have always wanted a way to give back...have my own charity, something of the sort. Nothing ever seemed to fall into place, but recently it did!! I am so happy and honored to take everyone's family photographs and capture special moment's in your lives, but I have added a new project that is very near and dear to my heart and cannot wait to share this with everyone.


It is so hard to lose focus about what is really important around the holiday's and with all of the hustle and bustle, we tend to forget how lucky and blessed we really are. I had the absolute honor to photograph some families that are currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Pittsburgh for various reasons, and I am very pleased to share with you, the Brave Face Project.

The Brave Face Project was inspired by the absolute bravest boy that I know and am lucky enough that he is my nephew, Brayden John Ellis. Bridget, my sister-in-law was just 16 weeks when she and my brother Brad, found out their baby was diagnosed with Myelomeningocele Spina Bifida. It was such a shock to Brad and Bridget, their other two children, Madelyn and Ryan, and our entire family.  But, with the help of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Brayden was given a chance that not many get.

Bridget and Brayden were accepted into a study that would relocate them 4 hours away from home to Philadelphia. They underwent surgery when Brayden was just 19 weeks in-utero. This little miracle is considered ‘twice born’!

Because Bridget and Brayden needed round the clock care in a city that was on the complete opposite side of the state, the Ronald McDonald House became their home-away -from-home for the next 4 months.

I have heard of the RMH and at times threw some spare change into the bin underneath the drive-thru window during a quick McDonald’s trip after a soccer or baseball practice but that was all of the knowledge that I had about the organization.

Well, let me tell you what a life changing thing they offer to people who are experiencing the utmost pain, heartache, and fear as they watch their child(ren) battle for their lives.  The RMH gave my brother and his family somewhere safe to stay while they faced the unthinkable.

Brayden was born August 20th, 2013 at 31 weeks and 5 days at a whopping 3 pounds!!! He was in the NICU preceding his birth and arrived home to Pittsburgh at the beginning of October. No-one knows what to expect with a baby, especially after a diagnosis like this but in pure Brayden fashion, he is letting nothing stop him and runs around like a little maniac. He has the most infectious laugh and silly faces. He is caring and kind and everything that you’d want in your family.

Throughout Brayden’s journey I was having bracelets made as a fundraiser and I needed a perfect name for this cause. The slogan that will be around every time this miracle is spoken about. I randomly looked up what the name ‘Brayden’ meant…

“The name Brayden is of Irish origin and means both "brave" and “salmon”." (salmon??? It's my favorite fish so I left it in the description lol!!)


I found the perfection I was looking for!!!!

After they had arrived home we were at my parent’s house talking about how happy we were that they were home for holidays. Everyone was so happy that he was here and that Madelyn and Ryan didn’t have to split time between the two cities anymore. Then, as the discussion moved to other families they had met and certain situations we began saying things like, ‘thank goodness you’re home now so the kids can do this….’ ‘Thank goodness you’re home now because how could you have gotten this done…’ Everything we were talking about was regarding families that had older children that also needed care. I randomly said to Bridget, ‘how would you even get a photo of your baby if you couldn’t leave? And the holidays are coming…That’s horrible. Memories are so important…’

And this is where the Brave Face Project was born!!

The Brave Face Project has photographed some very brave faces. Parent’s facing the struggle of their infant needing a kidney, a mom with terminal cancer playing in the backyard with her babies, and infinite amounts of people that come together for a variety of causes.

I wish I could put into words the feelings I have when I do these things but I can’t, it’s impossible.

But it feels as though my heart grows bigger and beats with more purpose after I give back in any shape or form.

Now check out some of these beautiful AND BRAVE families.


This girl...how amazing... These necklaces all have a bead..every bead shows a time that she was poked, touched, had an I.V., etc. and these were just her necklaces for this trip to Pittsburgh!! Such an amazing strong young lady!



(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/the-brave-face-project Sun, 08 Jan 2023 22:23:46 GMT
The Front Steps Project https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/the-front-steps-project


Over $1700!!!! Can you believe it?!?! $1700 that YOU GUYS GENEROUSLY DONATED TO FAMILIES IN NEED!!!!

Part of the donation is going to the Stajger Family. Friends of ours who just lost Jon (36), Angie's husband, and father to Aiden 15, Lil, 5, and Ella, 2.

The other part of the monetary donation is going to go to our community that may not be in desperate need right now, but it can happen. A check will be dropped off to St. Agnes church in North Huntingdon, PA who will then hand it over to our local St. Vincent De Paul. 


I cannot even begin to explain how rewarding this entire project was. Not only did I get to do what I love, photography, I got to meet new neighbors and raise money for some great causes at the same time! Thank you to everyone that participated in #thefrontstepsproject!!

Every set of steps offered new energy, new faces, new life. Our plan has been divided into thirds for a very long time and I can attest today that we are #dartmoor. We aren't phases, we are a plan. The reason why we all picked here to live. The sense of community and the sense of 'home'.

I traveled to two other plans and had the exact same response. Everyone was in their element and it was gratifying, funny, and awesome!

At the moment our country is basically on lockdown. We aren't supposed to interact with one another. We are all doing our parts. But, seeing the kids on their bikes, the chalk on the sidewalks, people walking their dogs....it's amazing. We have so much to be proud of rather than not. I received money, fireball, and beer---all acceptable payment... But seeing everyone in their true form was the payment in itself. So I thank you.




(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/the-front-steps-project Sun, 08 Jan 2023 20:44:46 GMT
Beverly's Birthdays https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/beverlys-birthdays

I got to do a thing today. A thing that made me tear up, smile, laugh and learn what children think of their birthday and what makes them so special.


Megs, thank you for picking me to photograph this event for you. You are one of the most caring, kind and thoughtful person that I have ever met. Your personality is contagious and I have been filled with joy all day!


Today, a local school in McKeesport got to shop in the 'birthday boutique' for new clothes, pajamas and hair bows!! This month Beverly's Birthdays celebrated the October birthdays.


If you know me, I LOVE my own birthday and always ask everyone when their special day is, too. So you can only imagine how happy I was that it was totally appropriate to ask 80 children when they got to celebrate. We had two birthday's today and only one that falls on halloween! (He wasn't nearly as excited as the entire crew was!!) And I kept waiting for someone to say October 22nd, my dad's birthday, but no one shared his special day.


The children came out in full smiles; I parked them next to the 'birthday boutique' to capture their 'biggest birthday smiles' and sent them off to shop. One little girl was so giddy that I thought her spirit fingers were going to fall off and her cheeks explode.


When asked why your own birthday was so special, I truly imagined that most would focus on the gift and present part. Nope. A majority of the kids said that they thought their day was special because they got to share it with their family and friends. |insert tears|


The children left the 'birthday boutique' with a duffle bag full of goodies, more warmth in their hearts, and at the very least, a day, a moment, a morning, that was totally for them!!!!


Please, I am begging you, if you are not familiar with Beverly's Birthdays, look them up. Such a simple concept that can change a life forever. So thankful to be included in such a special thing.


#bekind #kindnessmatters #spreadthelove #everylittlebithelps #lovewins



—Helen James


(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/beverlys-birthdays Sun, 08 Jan 2023 20:34:24 GMT
Race For Grace 2022 https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/race-for-grace-2022

Pictured: Grace Ekis's immediate family and grandparents. 


There are truly no words to explain the atmosphere of 'The Race for Grace', if you were there today, you know. If you weren't, please put it on your list to attend next year!

There was a band, a warm-up, a 5k race and walk, dancers, hair donations, baskets, food, and more. But the most important thing there was the feeling of unconditional love and support in the air.

You could just feel it.

And per the usual, right as 'Amazing Grace' was about to start, the sun started to appear and shine down on the event.

(total chills the entire time!!!)

Than you to the entire 'RFG' community and the Ekis Family for trusting me to capture this wonderful event. I will be back as long as you'll have me!

You can still donate to this wonderful cause today and any other day that you should wish, just follow the link, https://www.reflectionsofgrace.org/index.php/donate




(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/race-for-grace-2022 Sun, 08 Jan 2023 15:39:31 GMT
Young Adult Survivors United Golf Outing 2022 https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/young-adult-survivors-united-golf-outing-2022 Young Adult Survivors United Executive Director, Stephanie Scoletti, with YASU member and cancer survivor, Tara. 

This past Saturday, I had the honor of photographing the 2nd Annual Young Adult Survivors United Golf Outing! It was amazing. It was emotional. It was fun. It was mind-blowing.

What was mind-blowing about this event, you may ask?

The kindness.

The love.

The care.

The things that we are missing day-in and day-out in this world. But for 6 hours on Saturday, roughly 500 people felt all of these emotions and more, thanks to one person, Stephanie. The founder and executive director of YASU.

The images that I am sharing first with you will hopefully give you some insight to these emotions.

First, get you a friend like Steph. Immediately. Luckily, she’s been mine for about 20 years!! She kicked the hell out of cancer at the age of 20, right when we were in the middle of college.

(I’ll give you the quick run-down of how YASU was founded.)

Steph realized that there was nothing; no programming, no support, etc, to aid in young adults that were supposed to be flourishing on their own in college, or getting married, having babies, yet facing a cancer diagnosis. Taking semesters off from college for chemo, leaving newborns at home while they underwent treatments and scans. And that is where YASU was founded!! She is able to provide grants for things like rent, hospital bills, date nights, groceries, etc.

Things that we take for granted everyday.

The pictures below depict some wonderful moments.

The one thing that I see the most is Steph’s smile. It’s always been that beautiful and radiant but when I see it now, my heart beams with pride for her.

The first photo is in loving memory of one of her group members, Raelene, who passed away just 3 days after the golf outing last year. Notice the butterflies on her sign?!?! Well, as Steph was speaking of this beautiful ray of sun, a butterfly softly flew into the tent, right past Steph and the group of cancer survivors lined up next to her. To say that everyone was shocked would be an understatement. Chills everywhere.

Then, there’s a photo of Steph’s mom. If you’re a mom, I really don’t need to say how she feels. I can’t even imagine what is going through her mind as she watches her youngest child change the society of young adults with cancer. She never took her eyes off of her.

Next up is Tara. Tara is a melanoma survivor and we were lucky enough to hear her story. The message I took from her story was to be your own advocate. Fight for what you know and believe. She is lucky that she did this for herself, it saved her life. I was speaking with Tara afterwards and as she told me the hardships that she is still facing at the young age of 32 is so disheartening. I wish I could bottle up everything that I could to help her, help them all.


As they began to announce the winners of the outing, foursomes came to collect their winnings, sat down and then walked their monetary winnings and donated them right back to YASU. Then, it just kept rolling.

One golfer won a beautiful flower arrangement, walked over and donated it to a lovely volunteer. You can see her tears as she was so taken aback and thankful for the kind gesture.

This people, is what it’s all about. Forgetting about what’s on TV, politics, social media and coming back down to the core of life. Remembering, that everyone is struggling in some way, shape or form. Remembering that one small thing can save a person from their worst day on earth or encourage them to pass it along.

Thank you, Steph, for reminding me the true value of life.

I will love you forever, friend.

(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2023/1/young-adult-survivors-united-golf-outing-2022 Sun, 08 Jan 2023 14:31:27 GMT
A mother's sadness from 1,600 miles away.... https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2022/5/a-mothers-sadness-from-1-600-miles-away Just a mother’s take on a normal Tuesday that turned into a horrific day in American History.




Yesterday, was like any other Tuesday that I was off from work.  I snoozed my alarm for about 45 minutes and then finally ventured my way up the 6 stairs to Cameryn and Landon’s bedrooms to wake them from their safe, warm beds. I always crawl under their covers and wake them up with a kiss, confirm that they want their usual chocolate chip muffin for breakfast and head back down to await their arrival.


They both came down in a good mode; a rarity for both simultaneously.  We were talking, no one was rushing, it was a nice morning.  What this sassy 14 year old girl and ornery 11 year old boy didn’t know was that their mom was in all of her feels about them that day. More so than normal. I asked them a question that I do pretty often and surprisingly, the answer was, ‘yes’.  I asked them for a picture of them together.


Seems like a pretty simple request, right?


It’s not.


Even as a photographer.


They both happily stood in front of the fireplace, posed and smiled.


I was shocked!


I got the approval from the teen that it was ‘okay’ and we headed down to the car to depart for their day at school. I drop them off at school every day and make them kiss me before they leave. Yes, I MAKE them. They find it annoying but last night they realized why and they were thankful that I do. Anything can happen during the day and we can’t ever leave one another on a bad note. A wise lesson learned from my parents. Thank you.


I’ll touch back on this later.


I was out, running my usual ‘day off of work’ errands and just couldn’t stop thinking about those two humans that give ME life. A purpose. I missed them. Yes, I am with them every single day but it was a different kind of missing.  I missed them being little, needing me all of the time, sitting on the floor for hours playing, the random kisses and hugs. But those feelings and thoughts also bring pride. I am so proud of the beautiful, kind and talented young adults that they are becoming, my heart was just exploding inside of my body.  I had to get it off of my chest.


Around 11:30am I decided to post the photo of them from the morning onto my Facebook page.  I lightened up the photo, added some shadows and posted it with the caption,

“I am in all of my feels today about these two. ‘You are my sun, my moon and all of my stars.’” An EE Cummings quote that I have plastered all over the house and tattooed on my body for them.


I then sent them both a text that went as follows:


Mom: I’m so sad you both are getting so big. I love you guys so much.

Cam: Love you too. Is everything okay?

Mom: Yes, Just sad you’re getting so big. Don’t worry, I will probably be in a bad mood by the time you get home so just enjoy it now! Lol”

Cam: LOL Just making sure.


Landon was nowhere to be found on this message for he isn’t allowed his phone in school but I will never leave him off a message. Why? Because in my sick brain, it could be the last message that he ever reads from me, God forbid something happen to any one of us.


I just had this odd feeling of needing to protect them all day.


Is it because they are getting more and more independent? Is it because we are closing out another grade, another school,  I mean Cam is moving onto high school?


This is part of it.


As another year comes to a close, it’s another year closer to the kids flying the coup.  Another year closer to not having any lunches to pack, practices to drive to, fights to break-up over who took the dogs out. (Who did let the dogs out?) There are days that this monotony of life that we are so blessed to live feels so overwhelming but when you have a day in American history like we did on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022, in Ulveda, Texas, I will take all of my ‘problems’ and enjoy them to the fullest.


There is a problem here. Lots of problems.


When I had arrived home, I was leaning over the counter reading some emails and saw a headline on the TV, ‘Mass shooting in Texas’. No details, just that headline. I read it, put my head back down and continued reading my emails.






When I saw the details unfolding as the night went on I couldn’t help but keep thinking to myself, ‘why in the world didn’t I run over to the tv? Why did I see the headline and keep going about my day?’


Because sadly, it has become the norm.


But why?


As the information was flooding though my TV and social media and the count of children that were lost in a senseless act of violence kept rising, I kept getting sicker and sicker. I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, I was silent, I was still.


Dozens of families had their lives destroyed yesterday, almost 1,600 miles away from me and I could feel their heartache, their devastation.


A city of 15,000 people will never live the same again.


A country feeling the loss of those they’ve never met.


A country divided that can’t get it together to protect our babies.


When it was time for bed, I was heading upstairs to kiss my kids goodnight and the count of children lost was at 19 and 2 teachers. 21 lives in total. I was fighting back the tears as I ascended up that short staircase. Then, I heard something unusual..something odd. Cameryn was in Landon’s bed and they were talking and laughing, this never happens.  I went in and opened my arms and it’s like they knew exactly what I needed. What we needed. I needed to hug them to remind them that they are safe in their home and they reminded me with that hug that I am still needed to do so, no matter the age.


Through the warm tears running down my face, produced inside of my swollen, heavy heart, we talked about what was happening, shared our fears and kept on hugging.


Then, they started to tell me about all of their ‘active shooter drills’.




This is a thing.


I remember in second grade having a fire drill and a tornado drill. Not sure in 1992 there was even a tornado recorded in Western Pennsylvania but we did it. Out of the norm, but okay, acceptable.


Now, my children are trained on what to do and where to go in the event that there is an active shooter in their school.


Babies, I am sorry. I am sorry that this is your world. I am so sorry that you’re taught to hide in the corner of the classroom with nothing but you, a few desks, a lock that may work on the door and one adult that followed their dream to enrich you is all of the protection you have in the event that someone wants to kill you for no reason. In the event that someone comes in with an assault weapon and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to destroy as many lives as possible.


I’m sorry. I am so sorry.


I’m sorry that we’re failing you.


I saw on social media a few people say that they couldn’t imagine having a child in that school.  Yes, me neither. But the reality is, we have a child in A school that could eventually be THAT school. Sadly, Robb Elementary in Ulveda, Texas became the statistic before ours did or yours will.


In 1999, I was a freshman in high school when the horrific mass shooting at Columbine High School occurred in Colorado. It seemed unreal. It seemed like an isolated incident. Well, there have been 229 U.S. school shootings since the Columbine massacre, not including misfires or instances in which a shooter was stopped before inflicting deaths or injuries. This statistic is dated from August 2021. Almost 600 children have fallen victim to a school shooting in the United States.




Cameryn was just 4 when the shootings occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. This was a shock for me. It was the first massacre that occurred when I had a child of school age. Dropping your 4 year old child off at pre-school just 2 days after 26 people were murdered in a school, 20 of them being children, hits you differently.


Now this.


When will this madness stop?


School shootings are considered an epidemic in the US.




But what are we doing about this epidemic? I vaguely remember living through a pandemic that we took every single measure possible to slow down and fight. But, there is nothing being done about this epidemic? We will just let innocent children and people die?


Those who commit these school shootings are individuals classified as often being influenced by a variety of factors such as abuse, mental illness, family dysfunction, victims of bullying, depression and suicidal thoughts. Yet, the mental health industry in America is failing us.


Have you ever tried to make a therapy appointment for a child? One with a psychiatrist? I have. It’s a 6-8 week wait until you can get an actual evaluation. 30 days once you’re acclimated to get another therapy appointment at your local primary care doctor.


What about the low-income families that are living in mere poverty that can’t afford health insurance or even know where to turn for guidance? Why are our schools cutting funding and guidance positions when it seems like mental health hasn’t ever been worse?


I don’t care if you’re for Red or Blue, pro-gun or not, we need peace.


Since December 14th, 2012, the day that Newton, Connecticut changed forever, I have been afraid to drop my children off at school.  I’ve watched them walk into the back door of their elementary school for years and have had the grave thoughts that I may never see them again. The thought that bus number 43 won’t pull up at 3:00pm and let my perfect babies off at the sidewalk.


Why? I need someone to tell me why.


I could go further into the mental health struggle in America. I could touch base on our gun laws. Is it lack of security in schools? Do we need armed guards to protect them? Should my kids even be allowed out for recess?


I don’t know the answer but I do know that we need to be better.


But for now, I will think about the dozens of parents that had an empty bed last night. The ones that will never sleep again wondering what they could have done differently, how they will blame themselves.  The moms who will long for an extra lunch to pack or uniform to wash. The dads that lost their fishing buddies. The birthday presents that were hidden in the closet that won’t ever be opened. The money saved for college that will now aid in burying their babies.


Those babies. The babies that were brave and listened to the teacher to get into the back of the classroom and hide on top of one another hoping they’d be at the bottom of the pile. Those babies that survived, that had to watch their classmates and teacher die in front of their eyes, I hope one day I am as brave as you.


The teachers that tried so hard to protect them. The two that sacrificed their lives to save anyone they could in a classroom that was locked with a mentally unstable 18 year old that held no value to the human life. Those teachers were also someone’s babies that needed to be protected in their adulthood.


You are all brave.


Last night, I was laying with Landon as he slept and I was holding his sweet, soft, innocent little hand. I kept thinking about how much those hands meant. Little hands that smeared chocolate on the refrigerator or colored on the walls. Hands that were going to be something! Now, there are tiny hands everywhere that won’t be held, that won’t walk down an aisle, that won’t get to change the world because of this unnecessary violence and hatred.


I won’t ever stop thinking about those families and babies. I pray that they all had a morning like we did yesterday. No chaos, some laughs and a picture that is worth a thousand words.  And if they didn’t have a good morning, it’s not your fault. Nothing is your fault. No one can ever prepare anyone for what happened at Robb Elementary.



Written by a mom who can’t live without her babies, no matter what age they are.






(LJ Reed Photography - Family and Lifestyle) https://www.ljreedphotography.com/blog/2022/5/a-mothers-sadness-from-1-600-miles-away Wed, 25 May 2022 16:47:24 GMT