Blog Category: single parent contest


It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon when I finally got to meet this year's Single Parent Giveaway winner. Travis and his daughters are big Captain America fans, so of course we had to showcase a bit of that. I told the girls I haven't seen the latest CA movie, so no spoilers!

We started off at a playground, because really, what better place to take kids?! Chloe and Kendle were so great, and have the sweetest personalities in their own right. :)

Beautiful little girls with such beautiful personalities. Dad has certainly got his work cut out for him, but after meeting him I know he's got this handled. :)



This year I'm happy to share with you our 2014 Single Parent Giveaway winner, Travis and his girls, Chloe and Kendle. I am so looking forward to our session! Travis has a very sweet co-worker that took the time to write in on his behalf. Thanks Traci!

"Travis and I met each other only a year ago, but we quickly became good friends. Behind the quiet ex-body builder exterior is a sweet soul who loves God and his girls more than anything! He loves to laugh, has the greatest smile and a real fondness for superheroes…especially Captain America. When he married his wife, as with most folks, he never dreamed where their life would take them and the harshness of some of the things they would endure. Last year, their marriage ended and Travis became the single parent for Choloe (now 10) and Kendle (now 8).

Chloe and Kendle could not be better girls. They are super polite and always smiling! Travis has definitely taught them well in all aspects of their life. They are both involved in dance and Travis never hesitates to be by their side and be their supporter through it all! He has learned to do hair and make-up for dance competitions and performances like a professional and I am sure he puts some moms to shame! He comes to the office telling me about interesting phenomena's such as hair chalk (that a mother of little boys is strangely ignorant about) and being late out the door because Chloe decided to paint her toenails instead of putting her shoes on. He is super proud to be their dad (and in lots of ways their mom) and isn't at all embarrassed to let anyone know that he would do anything for his little girls, including facials and fingernail polish. His desk shows it as he proudly displays all their works of art and snapshots of them. Travis also loves God and so do his girls. And although at times he (like all of us) questions 'why' God would allow them to walk this road, he does see how God has grown them in the process.

Travis is not only a single parent, but he is also an only child. His parents do a wonderful job of helping when they can, but Travis bears most of the weight of being a single parent on his own. When the girls are sick, have dentist appointments, etc., Travis juggles all that mixed in with work. When school closes due to weather, Travis comes to work with his precious girls following along in his footsteps."



For those of you counting this will be the 6th year we've had this giveaway. This started out for me as a way to honor one of my brothers as a single parent to my niece. And even though he has found himself a partner in life, our family has a new single father, my eldest brother. Anyone who is or knows a parent doing it on their own knows how taxing it can be. They have to be mother and father, homemaker and breadmaker....and taxi driver. :)

So send me your story. Send me your friend's story. Tell me a little about them and how amazing they are. Tell me as little or as much as you'd like. During the month of February I'll be accepting single parent stories of inspiration. The giveaway winner will be notified by March 10th.

Send your nominations to: info@mjwphotography.com and put 'single parent giveaway' in the subject line. The winner will get a complimentary session and receive all their images on CD with reprinting rights along with a 16x20 print of their choice. (total value over $1500.00)

Can't wait to start reading!



I am so excited to share this post with you all!  Meet the lovely children of this year's Single Parent Giveaway winner, Jameson and Harper.  Harper was everything I expected, an energetic toddler with an independent attitude!  :)  She gave me just about every side of her, I think.  Her big brother was such a big helper, and such an easy boy to photograph.

Mom and I had spent a bit of time talking about their personalities and things she might bring.  Sometimes items from home work great, and sometimes there isn't enough time.  I was happy that we got to incorporate a bit of them.  To top off a great session we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.  It was in the high 70's and sunny...in July!  :)



I'm happy to finally be able to share this year's Single Parent Giveaway winner with you all.  Her name is Kyla Gillespie, and she is mom to Jameson and Harper.  Kyla was nominated by her friend, Amanda, and was happy to send me her story in her own words to share.  :)

My story…The Beginning In the Fall of 2003, I began the Master’s Teaching program at the University of Arkansas; an internship of teaching full time 4 days a week, heading to teach dance in the early evenings, then sometimes off to my third job as a waitress, sometimes till 2am.  I was worn out, but enjoyed staying busy very much!  I had been seeing a guy for almost two years at this point, and in November, just 3 months after starting the Master’s program, I found out I was pregnant.  It was such a shock, and even though I had just turned 24, I was still scared to death!  We decided to move in together and see how this next level of our relationship would work out.  Our sweet baby boy Jameson Gabriel-Silva Miller was born August 10, 2004, sharing his birthday with his “Nana”.  It was such an overwhelming experience, and one we will always cherish.  For the next week, Jameson would remain in the hospital, being treated for pneumonia because of the fluid he had built up in his lungs.  I was thankful the hospital released me, but allowed me to stay in an extra room so I could be close to my baby boy. The next few weeks and months would prove to be very challenging.  I began my first teaching and coaching job, and Jameson’s dad continued working.  I worked days, he worked nights.  Needless to say, it took a toll on our relationship, and the following December, Jameson being only 4 months old, we decided to go our separate ways.  The breakup was very rough in the beginning.  We did not communicate very well as parents and adults.  Eventually, he would move back to Kansas City, and I was officially a single mom.  Luckily, my dad moved from Little Rock to Springdale to be closer to his new grandson.  I was very grateful for the extra help.  Fast forward a few years to 2007…Jameson had just turned four years old, and I decided to challenge myself and commit to running the New York Marathon.  I wanted to accomplish something big before my 30th birthday.   That’s when I met the guy I just knew I would spend the rest of my life with.  He was the athletic trainer that prepared my dad and I for the marathon.  I found out that he had graduated high school with my best friend (so he wasn’t a complete stranger), and as our relationship grew, I learned that his grandfather was the doctor that delivered my sister and I into this world.  Talk about a small world!  I just knew it was meant to be.  And it was; we married in July of 2009.  I was ready to open up the family that was just Jameson and I, and share it with someone.  He and Jameson got along really well, and I was looking forward to the future.  Then in January of 2010, we found out we were going to have a baby.  I was so excited.  My best friend had just found out the previous month she was pregnant with her second as well, and we were ecstatic to share our pregnancy woes together.  Our sweet Harper was born later that year, September 27, 2010.  It was another unforgettable moment in my life, but at the time, I didn’t realize just how it would change my life in so many ways…. Harper’s Story (short version) I knew as soon as Harper was born, something wasn’t right.  She wasn’t crying, only gasping for air.  I held her for what seemed like a split second, then the nurses rushed her off to the NICU.  It was unclear at the time what was wrong.  All we knew was she was not maintaining oxygen and something was obstructing her airway.  The doctors here could not figure it out, so the next day she boarded “Angel One” and was air-lifted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  Jameson was very jealous his baby sister was getting to ride in a helicopter.   I was a wreck.  Not released from the hospital yet and wanting to be with my baby girl.  Two days later I was in Little Rock with her, not knowing she would be there for the next four months.  Harper ended up having a tracheotomy at two months old, and a feeding tube put in place at three months old.  There is so much more to tell about her story.  Here is a link to her story that was published in Peekaboo Magazine.  http://www.peekaboonwa.com/?p=686 Our new reality… Harper came home on 1-11-11.  As much as I was looking forward to this day, I still cried as we left the hospital.  Those doctors and nurses became our family, and it was hard to say goodbye to them.  Just like bringing any newborn home, there is an adjustment period, and new parents must establish a routine.  This is exactly what we had to do with Harper, although her routine was a little different because we had medical equipment, scheduled medicines and treatments, and a baby that could not make any voicing sounds because of her trach.  It was quite an adjustment period.  As the months and weeks went by, I found myself feeling alone and overwhelmed.  I was married, but didn’t seem to have any help.  I was told that I was better at taking care of her than he was.  I also noticed a decline in his and Jameson’s relationship.  I felt like a referee, caught up in the middle trying to make peace among everyone.  I remember them telling me in the hospital that oftentimes “special needs” parents end up divorced, but I laughed it off.  We were going to beat the odds right?  But there was a lot of stress there.  We forgot how to talk to each other, I never got a break, and Jameson was always sad; we began to “walk on eggshells”.  We decided to go to counseling, and we continued for nine months.  I finally, after a lot of soul searching, came to terms with the fact that after 3 short years, my marriage was older.  I was sick to my stomach in finding the words to say that I wanted a divorce; I’ve never been one for confrontation and I surely didn’t like hurting people’s feelings, but I knew what I had to do.  As soon as the words came out, and we had been living apart for a day, I felt like I could breathe again.  I also saw a smile on Jameson’s face; even he felt a sense of release (although I know he really didn’t gather all that was going on, as a mom, I just knew he was happy again).  I felt like a failure at deciding to end my marriage, but realized that any man that truly loves the mother of his children would never ask her to choose between them.  So our divorce was finalized January 2nd of this year and I am now a single mom of the most precious kids anyone could ask for. While single parenthood can be tiring and overwhelming at times, I have a great support system and at the end of the day, those two smiling faces fill my heart.  Although it has taken time, I am at a good place co-parenting with Jameson’s dad (still living in Kansas City), and I know in time that my ex-husband and I will hopefully set aside our differences and co-parent just as well.  And maybe one day I will find love again, but I am not going to rush it.  I am at a good place in my life right now.  We just moved into a new house, school will soon be out, and I will have the summer to spend with my kids.  We also have a big surgery set for Harper this summer.  They will do a complete airway reconstruction on her and hopefully if all goes well, she will be living her life trach free.  So we will continue to take one day at a time and enjoy the life that God has given us and all it has to offer.