the four best friends that anyone ever had

What happens when childhood best friends both marry a pair of  childhood best friends?  An adorable photo session with built-in assistants to keep the kids attention and know how to get them smiling.  It was so wonderful to get to spend time with these two beautiful families.

squeezy hugs

This family.  We have celebrated, laughed and cried together for so many years.  And laughed until we cried.  I am grateful for every moment I get to spend with the Juhls and I'm thrilled every time I get to capture these moments for their family.  

genuine laughter with the loviks

Dave and Amy are high school sweethearts.  Theirs was the first wedding Michael and I attended together.  They were the first to have children.  Because I have known Dave and Amy for so many years, during this shoot, I got to regale their daughters with stories of them before they were parents .  Hilarity ensued.  After almost 17 years of friendship, I have a lot more material.  

chasing pragathi

I met the Narayanan family at a park in Mercer Island.  As the family and I walked to the location, Jayashree began telling me how strong willed her daughter is.  And there was Pragathi, making it perfectly clear to her grandmother that she did not want to wear the large pink bow.  It has been several years since I've photographed this family.  Back then, Pranav ran the show, but this time, it was perfectly clear who was in charge.  The family and I ran around chasing the kids and attempting to take group photos.  But we did it, and the large pink bow was not present in any of them.

mini adventures with the elhardts

I have lived in Seattle all of my life and am always looking for new places to take photos.  Teresa suggested we walk down to the park near their home in Ravenna for their mini-session and it was perfect.  We took some quick family photos on the bridge overlooking the ravine and then celebrated the success with PEZ dispensers.  I'll let them share their family photos with their Christmas card.

meeting baby colin

I finally got to meet baby Colin.  And he was wiggly.  He was moving all the time.  Kelsey said that at eight weeks, he's already trying to roll over.  His facial expressions are hilarious and I even got a few smiles out of him.  As I was packing up, he finally passed out and we convinced Josie to take a few more photos with her baby brother.  I'm so glad we did, they're some of my favorites.

tail winds

I have let the fear of failure get in my way my entire life.  I’m not sure where it comes from.  My parents never placed any kind of unreasonable pressure on me.  But it’s held me back from pursuing a career in photography for years, so I’ve never fully put myself out there.  My husband and friends constantly remind me, I have nothing to lose.  Literally.  I have nothing to lose.  

During one of these come to Jesus talks with a friend, he told me a quote about fear that had resonated with him.  In the series, The Defiant Ones, Jimmy Iovine discussed the number one thing that made him successful.  He said it was when he was finally able to turn fear into a tail wind instead of a head wind.

It makes perfect sense.  I will always be afraid of failure, but it’s time to stop letting it hold me back.  I’m doing this for real.  And it's terrifying.

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it takes a village

I have spent the last several months focusing on my health and my family.  The transition from work to all the sudden, not working, hasn't been easy.  I created my first playhouse at a particularly low point when I felt broken and lost.  The process helped heal me a little bit, so I keep building.  And now I have a village.

Here, there is no such thing as political unrest.  We have a lot of guns but they blow bubbles.  Everyone is treated equally because everyone is equal.  Kindness is better than being right, love is love, and we don't build walls unless they're out of cardboard.  We're all in this together.

I don't know if I could have recovered from this past year alone.  It was the endless love and support from my friends and family that brought me back and have helped me turn something so ugly into something that brings me and my babies so much joy.  I'm feeling more like myself than I have in a very long time.  And it only took a village.

anything can happen, child

Mila and I met last fall when I did a photoshoot for her family.  I wasn't sure she'd remember me, but she let me in and and immediately asked if I had any gummies.  Her mom says that's what she remembers most from our time together.  I remember her style.  This time, the focus was on Mila and capturing her big personality to start her portfolio.  She led me around the garden and picked flowers for me.  She loves Moana and kitties.  She rocked a tiger one piece better than anyone in history and she is absolutely adorable.

one person's trash is another child's treasure

I've been building things out of cardboard for months now.  The kids love it, I'm having so much fun and I've gotten inquiries about building items for other families.  So I thought what better way to raise some more money for BikeMS than to auction off a custom cottage?  I've lived with MS for 17 years and I want to turn something pretty terrible into something pretty amazing.  So here it is.

The Orchard Cottage details:

All of my creations take about two minutes to assemble and disassemble.  The walls are secured with strips of industrial strength velcro and each wall is three layers of cardboard so they're extremely sturdy.  But we all know kids will figure out how to break anything.  This is certainly not indestructible, but the good news is that any repair will likely just require more cardboard, Elmer's glue and maybe some duct tape.

 This is what the cottage looks like disassembled.

Emma is demonstrating that stacked flat, the pieces are roughly seven inches tall.  She would also like you to notice her skirt.  The dimensions when assembled are 40''x 53" with a max height of 56".

It's made out of 99% recycled materials.  The door has real hinges and wood supports since they take the most beatings.  

The doorknobs are made out of recycled baby food jars.  The door curtain is made from a antique table cloth that I has used in my Beatrix Potter inspired cottage and it's secured on each end with spray painted toothpaste lids.

The exterior of the house has sided walls, three large framed windows on each side and a shingled roof, because every legitimate playhouse needs a shingled roof.  The roof is one solid piece of cardboard that stays in place by fitting over the tabs connected to the front and back walls.

The interior of the house is one of my favorites so far.  I sewed the four large curtains out of an old sheet.  The custom made farmhouse sink and marigold cupboard rest against a wall made with Washington Apple boxes.  If you choose to set up the house outside (just remember to bring it in if we're expecting rain) the sunlight will stream into the little kitchen and make you want to be a kid again.

The house also comes decorated with a basket of strawberries (tiny painted jars), an antique Bambi pitcher and a bar of soap for the farmhouse sink made from an Altoid container.  

This house was made with love.  I hope it will encourage someone to bid big knowing 100% of the proceeds will go to support my husband's BikeMS fundraising efforts.  I hope it will inspire hours of imaginative play for some lucky kid.  And don't be surprised if you find yourself hanging out in there as well.  It's nothing to be ashamed of.

Thank you for your interest!  Feel free to DM me with questions.  Details of auction to follow.

Here is the link to my husband's team page if you want to know more about what they're doing to fight MS.  Thank you Wolf Pack Project.

eleven days with baby evie

Whenever I meet new parents, I'm always amazed out how laid back they seem.  It's incredible how quickly we adjust to a new tiny person running our lives and manage to love them more than we ever thought possible.  When I did their maternity shoot, I was struck by the way Kyle looked at Natalie with such genuine adoration.  He looked at Evie almost in awe and Natalie's happiness was contagious.  They are such a beautiful couple and I'm grateful they allowed me to capture these early moments of their new family.

so the adventure begins

This has been a difficult six months.  I had to leave my job in tech suddenly when my MS symptoms flared up.  I never thought it would happen to me, but here we are.  FMS.  But after years of being in software and finance, I found myself with nothing but time and in desperate need of a creative outlet.  We had a huge stack of cardboard in the garage from a furniture delivery that I had planned to get rid of.  But instead, I started to think about what I could build.  While my husband was out of the country on business and my kids were at their grandparents house, I put on some Tupac and stated cutting.  The one requirement I had was that it had to come apart and store flat so Michael didn’t panic at the idea of having a new permanent fixture in the family room.  I built all the walls and brought in the engineer (my dad) when it was time for assembly.  After some adjustments due to my lack of measuring, my first playhouse was standing.  The whole process was incredibly therapeutic.   My kids lost their minds when they got home and when I showed my husband how it velcros apart, he did not. 

In the last few weeks I’ve made a TV, a Macbook, a record player, two cameras and another playhouse complete with a wood-burning stove.  Project “Out of Hand” is in full effect.  I’m sure some of you have questioned my sanity.  I can’t say that I haven’t.  But there are people that build and decorate tree houses for a living.  How F-ing cool would that be?  I don’t know how to use power tools, but I know how to use a box knife.  I have no end game with this new venture.  But for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about what’s next.

welcome to the vhite house

My cousin-ish (cousin by marriage) Brad and I are very much a like in that we both always need to be creating something.  He's invited me to his studio to work on whatever craft I could imagine.  He text me about my interest in helping out with a little project he was working on and I met him at a Ravenna apartment to take some promotional photos with the actors.  I was greeted on the stairs by Ian Hill, wearing a wig and some of best contouring makeup I've ever seen.  Once we had all decided on his dress, he got into full Melania Trump and didn't break character the entire shoot.  I was mesmerized by how much he looked like Melania.  He even perfected her vapid stare.  He and Kinzie we pure magic together and it was by far the most fun I've ever had on a photo shoot.  Turns out Brad's "little project" was producing "My Vhite House* Christmas Spashial with Melania (Live from Trump Tower."  I was lucky enough to get to see one of the live performances and was completely blown away.  I expect to see a lot more of Ian Hill, Kinzie Shaw, Fiely Matias and Brad Cerenzia.

little wolf's first howling

Laura McGee Kvasnosky has been close friend of the family as long as I can remember.  She has the dream job of illustrating children's books.  Ethan has There Once was a Puffin memorized.  When Laura reached out to me and asked me if I'd be willing to photograph a book reading of her newest project, I couldn't wait to find out more.  When I arrived at the Secret Garden Bookstore in Ballard, I got to see Laura and her sister, Kate, do a run through of the reading of Little Wolf's First Howling.  I immediately wished my kids were there.  It was perfection.  They even had a bass player.  Then the people started rolling in.   I didn't know what kind of crowd to expect, but the place was packed.  Laura and Kate greeted friends and signed books, then completely transfixed the audience with their theatrical performance.  And because Laura is ridiculously thoughtful and generous, she left a signed copy for my family.  After Ethan was read Little Wolf at bedtime and we had said goodnight, I heard him in his room howling a half hour later.

the wind, rain, and elliott

I've done many shoots in the rain.  Living in Seattle, if I always canceled because of a little drizzle, I'd rarely have a photo shoot.  The weather report was dicy.   It was a mix of snow and rain.  We took a risk when things were appearing to let up but this poor family was trying to look natural and smile in gale force winds.  Just when we thought we were going to have to give up, Elliot's dad was able to distract him enough to power through and we got the closeups of him his mama was hoping for.  His smile was so big, you'd never know he was shivering.  I certainly was.

love actually

I've never gotten to do a shoot like this one before.  Natalie and Kyle met me in Pioneer Square that was essentially empty due to the rain.  But the weather made for soft lighting that almost looked like it was snowing.  This couple is so in love; they absolutely adore one another.  They really did look like the couple that comes with the frame.  And they used this shoot to announce their growing family  with baby Haitt coming in June!  I am so appreciative of getting to be part of such an amazing announcement.  Congratulations to this beautiful couple!

meeting the bouma family

The Bouma family came from West Seattle to meet me at Golden Gardens. These guys were such troopers.  Even after almost losing a shoe in the mud and nearly running out of treats to help Jack tolerate the shoot, they kept smiling.  And we ended up with one of my favorite kinds of family photos; a moment that captures the pure joy in-between all of the hard parts, which kind of sums up parenthood.

one more jawneh

The last time I saw the Jawnehs, they were celebrating being reunited in Seattle, so we used the gorgeous city skyline as our backdrop.  I was really excited to hear from Beth again this year, and I got to photograph her family at their home.  But there was one more of them this time.  Baby Alaina is everything you'd imagine a one year old to be; silly, in charge and full of joy.  I feel so lucky to get to hang out with these beautiful families.

a hull lot of adorable

This is the second year I've photographed the Hulls.  A lot has changed since last year; Tory is walking and talking (and has finally caught Frozen fever).  Luke's personality has gotten even bigger.  Our families still spend a lot of time together and the Hulls are the kind of people I want in my corner.  If we ever needed anything, they would be there.  I have Shannon to thank for introducing me to a group of a kick-ass moms that help keep me grounded when I'm feeling overwhelmed with work and motherhood.  She's constantly reminding me that we're all in this together.  I absolutely love this family.

the terry family

Courtney and I were in the same sorority at WSU.  This is the first time I've seen her since college and had the chance to meet her beautiful family.  Her and her husband, Seth, are lucky enough to live above Golden Gardens, so we met at one of my favorite locations on a perfect Seattle fall day.  Mila owned her outfit and looked like she had just come from a baby couture fashion show.  I don't think Cora cared what she was wearing; she never stopped smiling and is absolutely adorable.  One of my favorites parts of this job is getting the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.  And I am so grateful to be able to capture these moments with their families, because it really does go so fast.