Hello there!

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My name is Susan, and Designs by Prater is what you could call my creative outlet that pulls together my photography, art and graphic design endeavors! The most important thing you should know about me is that my life revolves around my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, my family (especially my husband Todd, son JD, and puppy Lexie), family and friends. Other than that, I am pretty much obsessed with photography, Coca-Cola, and the color green (and all shades of green for that matter, especially teal). I love sports but cannot play them worth a lick. I would not trade my time as a college student at Mississippi State for anything in the world. The friendships and memories made there will stick with me forever...Hail State and Go Dogs! And I am very picky about my chocolate chip cookies, grilled cheeses, and shaved ice (gotta be SnoBiz watermelon flavor).

Monday, July 16, 2012

a recap and a renewed focus {monday's memory}

i think i have apologized before for the lack of posts on this blog, but i am not sure i have ever explained why that has been the case. but before i can move on to sharing with you my goals for {designs by prater} and this ol' blog, i feel i owe you that explanation! so please bear with me as it might get a little emotional, but i hope hearing more about the person and family behind the camera might help you learn a little bit more about what makes up {dbp} and the style of photography i shoot. :)

this last year has held both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for our family. Almost 12 months ago, we welcomed our precious son JD into the world!!! after a scheduled 8 am induction, 14 hours of labor, almost two hours of pushing, and a c-section, he was born late on August 2 weighing in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces. and that day and every day since, we praise God for the sweet little boy we've been blessed with and thank Him for the opportunity to love on and care for one of His children this side of Heaven.

first family portrait
while not glamorous, our first family of 3 portrait that i will always treasure
then 10 days later, the hubs and i celebrated 5 years of completely blissful marriage! hahaha...if i am being honest, though, we are like any other couple - learning each day a little bit more about the other and how we each tick. we've fought over the important and the silly stuff, forgiving each other every time with a renewed  commitment and promise to always put our relationship before our momentary emotions. Thankfully, the love we share only continues to grow stronger as we live, work, play, serve, and worship alongside the other daily. plus, we truly enjoy each other's company and love to laugh together, making life a lot of fun! :)

wedding reception
cutting the cake at our 2006 wedding reception at the palmeiro center in Starkville, MS
(many thanks to our wonderful photographer, Kathy Stephens)
fast forward another month, and we loaded up the car (and i mean loaded it up!) with everything we thought we needed to take our newborn to the beach for a long weekend to meet up with my hubby's family and celebrate the nuptials of his sister Megan to her now-groom Eric. and yes, i was blessed to have been able to photograph their wedding ON.THE.BEACH...

prater and wicker family
the Praters and the Wickers after the wedding
 ...and capture some very special memories that we will all cling on to so dearly for the rest of our lives. and here is why...

that beach trip was one of the last trips we would get to take with my mother-in-law and gave our son JD some very precious time with his nana that he now won't be able to get again this side of Heaven...

jd with nana and papa out by the pool the day after the wedding
Late last fall, nana's cancer spread with a vengeance to her colon and she needed surgery on top of her chemo to hopefully rid her earthly body of the cancer. after spending both thanksgiving and christmas in a hospital with only a couple of weeks at home in between the two holidays, her body, weakened by the chemo and an infection, could no longer fight off the disease.

on the hardest day of our lives, we made what seemed like both the quickest and longest 2.5 hour trip ever down to columbus, mississippi, to be alongside nana and family as we made the decision to take her off life support and release her spirit to inhabit her Heavenly body right next to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, where she has been completely healed. i cannot begin to express what those moments felt like as we witnessed both a tear run down her face once she knew she was leaving us behind and one last smile grace her face as she saw her Heavenly Father and ran into His arms.

one last glorious God-given day when nana got to spend time with all her grandbabies
just days before she went home to be with the Lord...this day was such a miracle!
 ...........so the next several hours, days, weeks, and months have been us learning how to move on. and we won't lie, it's been tough. while i only knew her 6 short years, i feel like i knew her all my life. she loved, and i mean LOVED, her family SO deeply, and our sweet JD and his cousins Peyton and Macie were the apple of her eye. and her husband and children grieve her loss every moment...when they long to hear her laugh or even her get on to them about something silly or stupid they just did. while they rejoice that she is no longer in pain, their hearts still break and their lives feel a deep void. but we keep going....Lord willing and Savior sustaining....we keep going....and we smile....and we enjoy life...and we tell JD HOW MUCH his nana loved him....and we show him pictures of their precious time together.

jd with nana on the quare
this is WHY i take pictures...constantly.

but wait...we aren't finished yet. somehow in the midst of this, life decided to throw a shoulder injury at todd that somehow managed to turn into an infection in his joint leading to surgery, a week-long stay in the hospital, 6ish weeks of daily IV antibiotics through a PICC line in his arm, and many weeks (still counting) of occupational therapy to get full mobility back in that shoulder...all without his mom there by his side. but we keep going...

jd hanging out with daddy in the hospital
we are healing. we are remembering fondly. and we are making memories together.

so that's why it's been hard to get back to life as usual in {dbp} world. but from here on out, you're going to see a newer {dbp}, one more refreshed and, hopefully, a little bit more polished and interesting! so for the next few months or so, i am challenging myself to blog at least 5 times a week with a mix of personal posts, business posts, and tips for you to make sure you are capturing and preserving memories for your family.

so here is what we are looking at for my new blog schedule:
monday's memory: blogging a personal pic from the past, coupled with a personal story
tuesday's tip - tip for you on taking photos at home, displaying photos at home, etc.
wednesday's window - sharing photos from a recent portrait session or wedding or family trip
thursday's trend - talking current trends found on pinterest and even attempting some of them :)
friday's five - sharing fave products, recent discoveries, and random thoughts

and yes, you guessed it! today's post was the first installment of monday's memory...so i hope you made it through to the end. i promise that future posts won't be nearly as long, i just had a lot to catch you up on this time. thanks for listening and take care!

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