Senior Sessions

Do you remember the summer before your senior year? I remember, going to my high school and taking my senior pictures, and being so excited, only to be let down by a few snaps at various locations around the school.

I have always felt that a senior session should show off who that senior is…who they are on track to become.  Not simply a few snaps of the camera.

When you book a senior session with me, my first question is going to be; who is your child?  Followed by; what do they like to do?  I go on to ask quite a few questions prior to the appointment.  I want their senior portraits to showcase them as people…their coming of age portraits.  It’s an awkward point in life, not a child any longer, but not quite an adult…

So, when I was asked to do Jeremy’s portraits, and his mom said he loved dirt bikes, of course we had to do a session showcasing his talents.  I will be honest it was my first dirt bike session, and I was nervous, but only because I wanted to get it right. These pictures were not only important to him as an up-coming graduate, they were important to his mom.  Jeremy is lucky to be here…and as a fellow NICU mom I understand how precious life can be. I understand how worried you are that they may never see their high school graduation. When you have a baby, and you have to visit them in the NICU, and have to watch a small team, unhook, and then hook your baby back up to the ventilator just so you can hold your newborn, something in you changes.

The NICU traumatized me, I will be honest…for the longest time I watched the monitors instead of my baby. The beeps and hums of the machines she was hooked to told me she was okay.  When it was time to go home, I couldn’t watch the monitors. There were countless panic attacks, and tearful phone calls to my mother in the middle of the night.  Not to mention lots of late night hospital visits.  Life in the NICU goes further than your own child though…you are surrounded by all of these little lives. You hear snippets of everyone’s stories, you see emergencies as nurses and doctors rush to someone else’s child, and as you close your eyes and say a prayer for that tiny baby that is in distress…secretly you are thanking God it’s not your baby they are rushing to this time. Yes, life in the NICU changes a person.

So, yes, I wanted to make sure I got this session just right for Jeremy and his mom.  As always, here are a few of my favorites from Jeremy’s session.

Until next time…

Graduation!

Do you remember your graduation?  I remember mine…

If you ask my husband, my long memory is a curse, but I love that I can remember even the tiniest details.

I remember lining up for graduation practice as they sorted us from shortest to tallest.  I remember everyone trembling with fear as the councilors began to pull students. Even though we knew what our grades were and that we had made it, we were graduating! The big question,”what if?” What if we were wrong? What if we actually failed that english exam? What if they were here to pull one of us?

I remember standing in the senior hall graduation night, chanting “na na na na, na na na na, hey, hey! Goodbye!”  I remember us walking into the gym, not wanting to even look up and find our parents because the teachers had struck the fear of God into our hearts about not acting up.  I remember walking across the stage, afraid that I was going to trip and fall.  Thank goodness I didn’t…how embarrassing would that have been?  I remember not even understanding that I was actually saying goodbye to my high school and my teachers, and my friends…until I hugged two of my favorite teachers. Mrs. Knowles, and Mrs. Jones; my music teacher and my art teacher.  The flood gates opened, and the tears flowed.

This was so much more than my high school…this school represented stability…it was the first school that I had stayed at for a long period of time.  I’m a military brat, so I didn’t stay in one place for very long.  I made a lot of friends in my seventeen years on this earth…and I had lost a lot of friends.  I had packed so many boxes in my short life that I could probably pack and unpack my bedroom in my sleep.  I had said so many goodbyes throughout my life up to that point I couldn’t even begin to tell you the number.  Some of those goodbyes were permanent, some were not.  You grow up quick, fast, and in a hurry when your are a military brat, and the hardest question you will ever be asked is; “where are you from?”  There isn’t an answer…I didn’t “grow up” anywhere…I can tell you where my family is from, I can tell you where I was born.  I can even tell you the place I miss the most out of all the places I have lived (it’s Germany by the way).  Yet, the question remains, “Where am I from?”

So, three years may not seem like a long time to be at one school, and I will never be able to say, “oh we have been friends since elementary school,” like some of my friends. I finished though, I was in one place long enough to finish…I was in one place long enough to look at my classmates and be overjoyed that I was completing that journey with them…as a child who has always been the “new kid,” I didn’t graduate with strangers…I graduated with friends.

Fast forward sixteen years, it was my baby sister’s turn to graduate.  So of course we celebrated her commencement with a mini photo shoot with her and her boyfriend.  As always, here are a few of my favorite shots from that day.

Until next time.

I must get better…

I have been really lazy when it comes to my blog.  It’s literally been a year since my last post! How did I even let that happen?  So much has happened! So many photos have been taken! I simply must get better, there is no way around this issue…it simply must be done.

With that being said…

I want to share some of the photos that have been taken since my last post.

First, Maverick, the baby that I have photographed since before he graced the world with his presence turned one! We had a blast with him that day.  He demolished some cake, we took some really cute pictures as he tottered around, and my little boy got to see how crazy his Mommy can get during photoshoots. I was on the ground making silly faces and noises, then all of a sudden I heard his little giggle. I looked over to where he was sitting in his stroller, and he was looking right at me laughing. Two birds with one stone I say.  I managed to get Maverick to look at the camera, and Sean (my little one) had fun laughing at his crazy Mommy.

Enjoy a few shots from that day…

Secondly, Jade and Bryan got married! How did I not write a post for this amazing couple on their wedding day?  The day was warm for October, but the sun was shining and that was the most important thing for this outdoor wedding…well that and the couple…I guess you need the couple in order to have the wedding.

I think my favorite moment of that day were the letters they wrote to one another.  They didn’t want to do a first look…so instead they stood back to back, hand in hand…unable to turn around and look at each other and read the love letters they had written. It was emotional to say the least.

My second favorite moment was when Bryan saw Jade come down the aisle…you could see the love and amazement he had for his new wife all over his face…sadly that was not a moment that I can take credit for capturing…my assistant captured that moment for me that day, and she did a wonderful job.

Enjoy a few of my favorite shots from their special day…

Let’s see what’s next?

Hmmm…Oh! Prom and social…again!  What more is there to say about this special night that I haven’t said in the past?  You either love it or hate it…and honestly at 33 years old I still love it…photographing it that is.

Enjoy some shots from this years Proms and Socials.

So until next time….

“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory…”

PROM!  It’s the most exciting time of the year…or the most dreaded. Depending on your personality.  In my case it was a fun time for my friends and me.  My first prom was when I was a Sophomore.  The guy I was dating was a junior, so of course he asked me to go to prom. I still remember mom smothering tiny sections of hair one at a time in hair gel and rolling them up in tiny curlers.  I wanted ringlets, I got ringlets.  My grandmother showed up in time to help me get into my dress while my dad took countless pictures.  Then my date showed up in his tuxedo, and the pictures continued outside as we walked to the car just to head to his parents house for us to be “oohed and ahhhed” over again.  I remember standing under the dogwood tree in his mom’s yard as he tried desperately to put the corsage of daisies on my wrist.  Eventually his mom took over and had it fastened to my wrist in no time.

I remember as I got in that car that day my mother was crying…something I didn’t understand until this year when my own daughter got dressed for her social.  His mom was brimming with pride…it’s not everyday you see your children dressed up for a formal affair.  That boy who took me to my first prom passed away this year, and it is definitely true, “you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

Then there was my junior prom…my date was horrendous and I ended up asking him to take me home early. Not all proms turn out to be the fairy tale night that we as teenagers dream it to be…and that will be all I say about that.

But my senior prom, it was truly my favorite.  My date was the man I have now been married to for fourteen years. My dress was designed by me and made by grandmother. A medieval style dress, with sleeves that tapered down to my elbows before opening up into large flowing bells, and the skirt of my dress flowed all the way to the floor.  Made of pure velvet, it was by far my favorite dress.  We danced every dance, we socialized, and took pictures all night long.  It was truly a perfect night, that boy and I have grown up and now have two beautiful children.  And still, those moments are memories that I will cherish forever.

Of all the things that change over time, Prom remains one of the things that are the same. Still girls get excited over shoes, makeup, nails…and of course the dress.  They still fuss over making sure their date’s tuxedo goes with their dress. They still put Prom night up on a pedestal, and sometimes Prom night fails to deliver all that they had hoped.

Relationships will end, some even begin. Girls will argue, then makeup just to argue all over again. Someone will show up in the most outrageous out fit, and everyone will “ooh and ahh” or the mean ones will snicker behind backs.  It’s all a part of that crazy night. It’s Prom…a right of passage.  A moment you won’t realize is important to you until it “becomes a memory.”

This year, my baby sister and my niece went to their junior prom. My daughter also went to her eighth grade social (time doesn’t stop for anyone).  I knew that I would be taking pictures of my sister, her date and my niece…however, my sister also volunteered my services for her group of friends. Something I didn’t find out until a week before prom.  So, my sister, my niece and their group of friends (along with my daughter) all met out at the nature center in town for pictures.  Their prom theme (another thing that hasn’t changed over the years…prom always has a theme) was masquerade ball.  It was fun seeing all the different dresses and the masks they had picked out to go with their formal wear. I hope they had lots of moments that will one day be cherished memories.

Enjoy a few pictures from their night.  I have also included a few of my daughters social pictures as well for good measure.

Until next time!

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First lets show off the whole group.  

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Lastly, my three favorite girls…my niece, my baby sister, and my daughter. 

My Baby Boy Turns 2…Well More Like 2 and almost 1/2…

That’s right, two years five months…see “almost a half.”  I am so busy taking pictures of everyone else that my own children’s sessions are constantly pushed to “next weekend.” Then another call comes in and I say “well, I can do their pictures next weekend.”  You see the pattern here?  “Next weekend” rarely comes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have thousands of pictures, Snapchats, and Instagram posts that feature my babies…but rarely do I take the “big camera” out while at home. I am guilty just like the rest of the population of just whipping out my cell phone and taking a quick snap shot.

Maybe that should be my New Years Resolution for year 2017 (yes, I am well aware we are only in August…I’m just biding my time until October…and yes, I am one of “those people” :P) to use my camera for more than just sessions. To make everyday life one big session.

Anyway, finally “next weekend” came and I got up early, dressed my son in what I had planned for him since March, grabbed the bubbles, a few last-minute “props” (if you could call them that, more like improvisations), my camera, and walked outside for us to play.  Now, I say play, because my son is not going to sit and pose for a portrait…don’t beleive me…here let me show you…

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Yep…that is what happens when I try to get him to sit and pose (insert exasperated sigh).

Needless to say, I did not get all the pictures that my creative mind couldn’t wait to get…not even one eighth of the pictures I had planned out. And, I  had so many shots planned out. I was going to get some in his batman cape, some of him sitting, some…oh well you know the drill, but that was not in the cards for me…no sir.

I did get some pictures though…and you know what? They were perfect. They were my son, all boy, and all wild. Once I accepted the fact that if I tried to get him to do what wanted I would end up with exhibit A (refer back to the picture above), I was able to enjoy just being outside with him. His laugh loud and clear, while his daddy chased him or blew bubbles at him, and I perched un-noticed snapping picture after picture. This was one time I was happy to play the spectator.

I guess you could call what I ended up with a “candid session,” however I’m not worried about what I should label the type of pictures I captured. This was my son.  My second little miracle baby…yep that’s right miracle baby.  See, after we had my daughter we were told she was a fluke my little miracle baby number one (who spent time in the NICU and had her own rough start in this world), would probably never have a sibling without expensive medical intervention. Words that we refused to believe, and for eight years (yes, I said eight) we tried for another baby.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many pregnancy tests were taken and tears I cried. Nor would I be able to tell you many times my husband held me not daring to say the words everyone else muttered in my ear which were “if it’s meant to be it will be.” Every time someone spoke those words to me I wanted to scream, “Yes, I know this!”  A little secret, knowing did not nor does it ever take away the want.  Everytime someone said those words or similar words it was a punch to the gut knocking the wind out of me.

Finally, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to happen. My daughter was now eleven and in middle school. I had wasted so much time being depressed, that I didn’t know how she even got to be eleven years old.  I mean, I had just brought her home from the NICU yesterday…right?  So, I decided to be happy (trust me, it was not as easy as I make it sound).  I lost some weight…alot of weight, we traveled, we loved one another and I was at peace with the fact that I probably would not have another baby.

Then on July 5th, 2013 I decided to take a pregnancy test. I had done the math and realized that it was past time for mother nature to pay me a visit, which was not uncommon for me. But, at this point what was one more negative test, right?  Only, this time it wasn’t negative.  I took three more before I ran down the stairs of our apartment we were living in at the time, throwing the last test at my husband.  He looked dumbfounded for a minute, not grasping what I was showing him, until I finally shouted “I’m pregnant!”

Nine months later, we had a bouncing baby boy…all ten pounds nine ounces of him (nope, that was not a typo).  We all fell in love immediately, even his sister, who by the way was originally NOT excited to be a big sister.  All, I can say is God has blessed me with my babies. While it hurt at the time, I would go back and take every single negative pregnancy test again if it meant that I would finally get that one positive.

So, without further ado…here is my boy, and he is all boy. Rough and tumble, wild, tough, sweet, funny, adorable, and all that falls in between baby boy…

Until next time…

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That’s pure happiness you are witnessing!

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“OK! I’m done…going inside.”

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He was serious, he was right in front of me for this one. Taking my hand right after saying, “mon!” which is “Come on!”

Going to The Chapel and We’re…

I know I say this about all my sessions, but… Agh! I love engagement sessions!  Well, let’s be honest I love them all…I honestly don’t know if I truly have a favorite.  I have said for a long time that Bridal sessions are my favorite…but then I have a session like this one…and suddenly I have a new favorite!

Jade and Brian, never questioned me, well at least not out loud. Now, they may have been asking themselves why this crazy woman was putting them in all these weird positions, but never once did they voice any complaints to me. This session went about as smooth as one could go.  Every shot that was attempted I got on the first try. We started early in the morning before the sun got to high and there were still plenty of clouds in the sky, and to make it even better the rain they were calling for never found us!

This couple is just as cute as can be.  I would tell Bryan, “Ok, lean in…almost kiss her but not quite.” He would lean in and say something funny to Jade and have her giggling. It made my job that day so easy.   Some people are just meant to be together…Jade and Bryan are two of those people.  I loved taking their portraits, and I can not wait until Jade’s Bridal session…and then of course the wedding!

Enjoy a few of my favorites from this session (choosing was definitely a chore this time).

Until next time!

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This one is so intimate…the look on Bryan’s face says it all!

 

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And of course my absolute favorite… I can’t even begin to tell you how proud of this one I am.

Couples That Are Meant To Be…

“Couples that are meant to be are the ones that go through everything that is designed to tear them apart and come out even stronger.” Unknown

Every now and then as a photographer you meet a couple that sticks with you or at least their story. For me, Dixie and Jason were that couple. They were proof that we as humans are still good at the core, and we will still come together when someone is in need.  While planning her dream wedding things happened and Dixie had to put a lot of what she wanted on the back burner…her church family, family, and friends all came together and helped give her the wedding that she wanted.  Small, yet intimate and beautiful. It was definitely a day filled with love for the Bride and Groom. While this post will not be sharing their wedding photos (still editing lol), I did want to share Dixie’s Bridal Shoot…been dying to share her bridal shoot actually.

Dixie contacted me back in 2015, actually she was an old classmate of mine from High School.  She went to South Lenoir for a few months during my sophomore year.  I remember we were in chorus together, and really hit it off. We became fast friends, and then she told us one day she was moving to Alabama.  Well we were of course bummed, but move she did, and as people tend to do we lost touch. However, through the power of Facebook (and I can’t remember who found who lol) we became “friends.” Still not really “in touch,” but (as all of you probably know how Facebook works) I would pop up in her news feed and she would pop up in mine from time to time.  So, of course I was excited when she sent me a message asking me questions about my wedding packages.  It’s not everyday you get to reunite with an old friend and classmate as well as take some beautiful pictures!

Her dress was simply beautiful, in my opinion a lot of the details were reminiscent of the Edwardian Era. Not only that but you could tell she felt beautiful in it, as her pictures were not forced at all.  Her bridal shoot was also proof that everything happens for a reason.  The weatherman had called for rain that day, so as an outdoor photographer you can imagine the panic attack I was having while scrambling to figure out a good indoor location that was affordable and in our area. As well as trying to calm the Bride’s fears that her Bridal shoot was not going to happen on her chosen day. (Did I mention there was no time in my schedule to reschedule her before her wedding due to me being booked completely up?)  Well the brides mom came to the rescue and found a place for Dixie to have her bridal shoot.  It was simply stunning…the house, the grounds…all of it, and to top it off the rain held off so we were still able to get some outdoor portraits! However, the point is had it not been for the forecast we would not have found this place that in all honesty matched her dress and her personality better than the spot I had chosen. Which don’t get me wrong, my spot was beautiful, it just wasn’t the one.

Anyway, enjoy some of my favorites from her bridal session!

And this one (cue drum roll)…

is my absolute favorite of that day!

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Until next time!

Once In a Lifetime You Meet Someone Who Changes Everything…

It has been a while since my last post, but that is not due to lack of things to publish or edit.

It is the beginning of wedding season and I have had quite a few brides to take pictures of…which is great! Bridal sessions I think are probably my absolute favorite sessions to do. It is their time to shine…their Princess moment… it is also their dress rehearsal.

I only have one issue with Bridal sessions…and that is me.  I am an impatient person, and when I get excited about the way a portrait has turned out I want to share it with the world. 🙂 Well, the problem with that is…I can’t.  The grooms for the most part are not allowed to see the Bride in her gown before the wedding day.  So, with that being said there are lots of  pictures sitting in my hard drive right now that I am dying to share.

Thankfully, one wedding has passed and I am finally able to share some of my favorite pictures from one of my Bridal sessions…now I just have to work on the almost eleven hundred photos I took at her wedding.  🙂

Until next time!

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Let us make pregnancy an occasion when we appreciate our female bodies. ~Merete Leonhardt-Lupa

One of my favorite kind of sessions are my Belly to Baby Sessions.  Belly to Baby is exactly that…we take pictures of Mama, Baby and Family while he or she is still getting prepared to join us on the outside…while in the “belly.”  Then once baby is here usually around two weeks old we do a newborn session and bring it all together. Two weeks is really ideal for newborn shots…especially if you are the kind of mama that not only wants those beautiful little eyes photographed but you also want those peaceful slumber shots.

The session I am about to share with you is the “Belly” portion of my Belly to Baby…we are still waiting on the little one to arrive.  Which is amazing because two weeks ago we were worried he wouldn’t wait for us to do pictures at all…so please enjoy a few of my favorite shots of this beautiful family of four that is about to be a family of five in a matter of days.

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Couldn’t decide if I liked the color or the black and white better…so I just shared both!

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Pictures are worth a thousand words…right?

Okay, yes, this is a photography blog…no I do not have any of my work for this post.  I know, I know…kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

Anyway, on to the reason for this post…

A few months ago, a friend and I were chatting online, and she told me about this group called the SCA.  “What is that?” I remember asking.  So she explained it to me very simply, “Medieval reenactments, camping, feasts…etc” (that was literally copied and pasted from our chat).  I didn’t need to hear anymore…she had me at “Medieval.”  Two days later I was riding with her and her family to a battle practice (yes I said battle) about to meet people I had never even spoken to before. This was a big deal for me, because when I am not behind the camera I can be extremely shy. So, yes I was very nervous. I am not sure what I expected…maybe I was going on the countless times I was the “new kid” in school and everyone looked at me like I had two heads. Maybe a small part of me thought that is what would happen when I showed up to the battle practice. I can honestly say that they did not look at me like I had two heads…we had not even fully got out of the van when a member was walking up to us welcoming us.

Immediately we were surrounded by the most helpful people…people who not only answered question after question, but welcomed us into their homes, took us by the hand and showed us how to make garb, told us countless stories, taught us new crafts…if we wanted to learn it, someone knew someone that could show us.

A few weeks later dressed in my first piece of garb, an Irish cotehardie, my husband and I went to our first event. A birthday celebration of the Barony we were befriending.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  All my childhood fantasies of being a medieval princess were being played out before my eyes (ok, I was a commoner not the princess but still).  Men were dressed in heavy armour fighting for the favor of their Baron and Baroness, and children who looked as though they stepped through time were playing, and running with their friends no iPods, or Nintendo systems, not even many cell phones were in sight.

One of the highlights of that day for me was being able to shoot a bow. Something I have wanted to do ever since seeing robin hood for the first time as a child. There I was, bow in hand, arm drawn back, eye on the target, I take a deep breath let it out and with it I let the arrow fly.  No, I did not hit the center, but I did hit the target and for me that was absolutely amazing.  We ended that wonderful day with a feast, music and singing.  Yes, I had a wonderful time that day, however I was still wanting that moment where I felt truly transported in time (I’m an artist, my imagination usually gets the better of me). Even though I didn’t quite get my moment I couldn’t wait for the next event.

I wasn’t sure if we would be able to go to War of The Wings which was the next big event on the calendar, but we managed to pay for our registration.  I will be truthful I robbed Peter to pay Paul for that one, and it is a decision I will never regret.  It was there I really began to understand the SCA.

I think it is in our blood…our souls long for what our ancestors experienced.  I know for me I have always dreamed of what it would be like to living in the fourteenth or fifteenth century when Europe was ruled by Kings and Queens. A time when Princesses had their Ladies in Waiting. Or when we believed stories about the elves, fairies, Merlin, King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table. Fantasy Authors like Tolkien, and some science fiction authors like Terry Goodkind prove my theory. While yes they may write fantasy, our medieval or Western Civilization history has its fingerprints on every page of their books.

This weekend I had my moment…the one that I was longing for when I first started this adventure. Truth be told I had several moments, like when my husband and I were learning medieval dances in the “castle” by the light of torches.  However, my biggest moment…the one that had me feeling like I had truly been transported in time was during the processional. There I was, walking to “war” with my barony.  My husband to my left carrying a black and yellow banner.  My Baron and Baroness in front with our war banner as we marched to the battle field. We were joined there by all the baronies in our kingdom, all waiting to align themselves with one side or another.  Barony after Barony were called forth before the King and Queen, declaring which side they would fight for. The pageantry was far more than I had ever expected, I could hear the heavy footfalls of the “war horses” as they waited for their riders to bring them forward…and for a brief moment all of it was real.  I was not twenty first century Amanda simply standing in a dress I had sewn on my little sewing machine at home playing dress up on a piece of farmland…I was in another time. I could see it, and whats more I could feel it in my bones…I had been completely transported in time, and was completely lost to the game…to the dream.

Later as I sat in the grass on the rapier field with my Baroness, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera.  What self respecting photographer doesn’t bring her camera to something of this magnitude hoping for the opportunity to capture memories that will last a life time…because as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  However,  as I thought about this I realized something…had I brought my camera I would have been focused on what I could capture through my lens and while yes I would have looked back on my pictures fondly…I would not have been able to truly experience this weekend.  Somethings, you have to see to believe…and yes a picture is wonderful but in this case just can not do justice to what truly occurred.

Later that evening I met a woman from another camp, Molly was her name I believe. She asked me to post on the Kingdom of Atlantia’s page about my experience at WOW.  She told me (jokingly) she hoped my only memory of WOW wouldn’t be how cold it was. I can honestly say that yes, we were cold…oh my goodness were we cold, however I walked with my husband through “town” with only starlight and torchlight to guide us, I danced, and laughed merrily surrounded by not only our friends and our barony but our kingdom. It was truly an amazing weekend.

Until next time!!!

Photo taken by my hubby of me on the battlefield.

Photo taken by my hubby of me on the battlefield.