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Pink and Blue, Olivia and Caden {Auburn Baby and Family Photography}

Seven weeks to the day that I had the incredible opportunity to be there for THEIR BIRTHDAY, I was delighted to have a chance to document Caden and Olivia with their family.  There’s been a big learning curve as they’ve gone from a family of three to a family of five and they are flourishing.  Big brother, William, has his special spot and has had lots of dates with mom and dad, and the wee ones are loving being held and cherished.  They are precious and it was such a treat for me to have a few snuggles in between pictures!

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Jasper is Eight, Birthday Portraits with Our Boy

The verse we used at our wedding was, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). When we were expecting our first son, I loved the name Jasper and when we found out the name meant “treasurer”, we knew it fit our boy.

This boy truly does hold things dear to his heart.  He loves little ones: babies and small children.  He doesn’t want any kids to be left out. He is very attached to things that bring him stability and comfort. He treasures being known and loved, and likes to know and love others. He’s sensitive and emotional and yet sometimes completely oblivious to trying to fit in. He has a soft heart. He’s learning and maturing this year and sometimes that sensitivity has backed him into a corner.  Yet he’s choosing to grow and we’re proud of him.

The other night Jasper and I took a walk in the evening sunshine to take his eight year old birthday pictures. Eight seems like a lot of years but those years peel right back when I  remember tying on his soft blue leather shoes, kissing his fat belly until he laughed like crazy and rocking his sweet little self, thinking that no mother had ever loved a baby boy like I loved my son.

He is a treasurer and he is our treasure. We are thankful that God has given us the gift of Jasper. 

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A Day with Rebecca {Seattle Professional Photography}

I know I’m not the only one who’s been loving the beautiful spring weather we’ve been having.  I feel like I’ve been turning my face towards the sun and soaking in the warmth.  Some people can be like that too, though most, in my experience, are unaware of how others just want to be around them.  My lovely friend, Rebecca, is like that.  Her warmth, care and heart draw others near, even when she’s just joking around or being honest about what’s going on with her day.  Her faith and encouragement have been a real blessing to me. 

I loved having the day with her to take some new images for her real estate work. Having clean, strong images that truly reflect a business owner is so important. We forged some crazy wind, walked up steep hills and Rebecca demonstrated her mad parking skills as we went around to some fun spots to shoot.  It was a pleasure to be together and to catch up.  Such a good time…thank you, my friend!

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It’s My Birthday- Liam is One {Auburn Family Photography}

You don’t have a brilliant smile like Liam does without knowing how loved you are and this sweet boy beams all the time.  His nickname, Bug, is so fitting because he is snug as a bug on a rug, he’s an absolute cuddle bug.  I found that when I called him Liam, he barely glance at me but when I called him by his nickname he grinned and clapped his hands.  Elizabeth and Matt are such fantastic parents, super loving and in tune with their boy, and also knowing exactly what his funny buttons are to get him lit up!

We had a very wet, though mild day.  They were super flexible and easy to be with and it was fun for me to catch up.  We started at this bridge, where Liam modeled his crown, to my squeals.  Then we headed to a lovely strip of abandoned railway tracks which ended right behind where I was crawling around on the rocks and railway ties.  Rocks and sticks and trains are the things of little boys and this little boy is taking on the world.

Look out, Liam’s one!

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Away to the Motherland

My whole life, I’ve grown up hearing stories of Holland, where both our parents were born.  We’ve paged through the family albums and seen Dad with his blond curls and wooden shoes with his Opoe (grandmother) beaming behind him.  My mum has made many a batch of boterkoek and boerenkool. We heard them discuss us in Dutch when they didn’t want us to know what they were saying, and we watched them wooden shoe dance with a bunch of other Dutchies (who were very forgiving with my dad’s sense of rhythm).  My parents have been back several times.  My sister, Kelly, has gone and I have also wandered beside the canals, dodging bikes, but we’ve never been there together.

Last year, for my dad’s 70th, we told them that it was going on all our calendars…a trip to the Netherlands with The Original Kasteel Four.  My dad was a tiny bit excited.

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The kids are being left behind with Ben and Dano (we married great guys!!!).   Kelly and I are hopping on a plane to meet my parents in Amsterdam.  We plan on eating croquettes, seeing a museum or two, doing a little shopping and having some laughs.

Here’s some postcards my dad sent us when he went back with his brother, Gerrit, when we were six and three. Now we’ll be the ones sending back postcards to our kiddos.

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So here’s to the first family trip with the four of us since probably high school! Plenty of pictures to follow!

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Six Times Twelve {January 2014}

Three years ago I did this project, a family picture each month.  Six of us times twelve.  Sometimes it was a mad scramble at the end of the month to grab a quick snapshot but it was so fun to have all those pictures of us across  a year and see the kids grow.  So often, it’s Ben or I taking the pictures and I wanted to have a bunch that reflected all of us. We had a good January.  Despite warnings on facebook of families knocked over by the flu, we managed to avoid that, and instead all got a bad cold, thanks to Theo with his goopy, generous kisses.  I’ve been doing a massive purge of the house and feeling like I can breathe again.  It’s amazing how stuff can grow and I was ready to reclaim our bedroom from residual baby items and stacks of unused items that somehow migrated to our closet.  Though I know my house will never be perfect, I sure do love some order.  Ben turned forty this month and we celebrated with his family that flew in town for the weekend to surprise him. He does so much for all of us that it was a pleasure to see his face light up when he saw faces that he loves so much but doesn’t get to see very often.  Ruby has started basketball and we couldn’t be more pleased with this first experience with an amazing coach and such a positive environment!  Jasper and Tymen and Theo have started swimming.  For the big boys, after several repeats of the same classes, I have offered powerful incentives to pass….a Trampoline Nation date with daddy. We’ve been loving all the sunny winter days that we’ve been having and have tried to get out to bike and play as much as we can.  While January can often make me a bit batty, we’ve been trying to stay busy with projects, be cozy, and also relax and catch up on some reading.

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I am also doing seasonal family silhouettes between these trees at a local park.  Can’t wait to blow them big and hang them on the wall. (I’m thinking about offering some “sihouette mini sessions” this summer.  Wouldn’t that be fun??)

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Marrying Up, Karen and Eric’s Wedding

I’m pretty sure that I realized what a treasure she was in the first weeks of grade one and I stuck to her like glue after that.  For twelve years we went through school and were thick as thieves: talking, playing,  plotting, sleeping over and laughing.  With all my young heart, I dearly loved Karen and her friendship is the root of many good things in me. Through the realities of  location, travel and schedules, since then we’ve just seen each other much less but every time I do, the fondness for my old friend runs deep.  My family always remarks, “Karen is just so Karen.”  She is.  She’s still the same clever, warm, loyal, caring, thoughtful person that she’s always been. She’s been busy with school and travel and friendships and family and teaching and now, she’s found true love.  I remember a conversation a few years ago where I shared what a wise friend had told me, that when you meet the person you’re to marry, you’ll both feel like you’re marrying up.  When she told me about Eric, that’s exactly what she said she felt like….and that’s well worth waiting for.  It’s obvious from every look that he feels the same way about her.

People keep saying to me, “I thought you don’t do weddings.”  Officially, I don’t…but unofficially I do make some exceptions now and again.  Photographing the wedding of my oldest friend easily qualified.  What a treat it was to spend the time celebrating such a special occasion.

Karen and Eric’s wedding took place in Friday Harbor on a balmy, beautiful day.  If I picture is worth a thousand words, then I hope this long post of pictures will communicate the thousands of words that could be used to describe the warm sense of family and community that was so encircling the two of them as they joined hearts.  The laughter, memories, hope, happiness, friendship and love were palpable.  There was such a sense of joy at celebrating love and the love that Eric and Karen have is deep and strong.

Much love, dear friend, and may you know great joy with Eric all your lives!

 

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Sweet Light at the School Playground

We needed a day like this….a normal, easy, puttering around family day.  Coffee in bed with Ruby reading this morning until Theo climbed up and laid on us.  Mowing the lawn. Boys biking. Cleaning the garage. Buying school supplies and going to Hobby Lobby with  my girl and her crafty priority list.  Spaghetti for dinner.  And a bike ride to the park.  I followed my little guy around as he laughed and played.  He’s getting so big, this adventuring kisser who laughs and hugs and puts out his bottom lip when it’s time to come home.

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Project 365 {July 2013}

It’s been a busy month: swimming, friends visiting, camp, cruise.  We’re busy and happy and doing a whole lot of laundry after summer days.  I’ve been thinking a lot about where we are headed in this next year and where I’m at with my business.  I feel a big blog post coming on when I’ve distilled a bit more.

Mostly though, these pictures serve as a daily reminder to count my blessings and I am.  My life, like many of yours, is full and chaotic and challenging and messy but there is love and blessing every day.  Somehow when I click the shutter and capture these images, the chaotic and messy isn’t what I see so much,  but the love and the blessing are very obvious to me.

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Unplugged

It’s been a while since I have truly been unplugged but I am looking forward to it.  I’ll be back to return messages and emails on Tuesday, July 30.

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My Bags are packed

My bags are packed and my Starbucks via is stashed away too.  I’m heading to camp with Ruby for a week of kids’ camp wonderfulness.  Send me an email if you need me but odds are I won’t be able to check it until next weekend.  Bring on the s’mores and good times

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Fourth Of July Happiness

Devilled eggs, masks, bocce ball, dirty feet, fire crackers, scooters, chips and salsa, laughing, kickball, pushing swings, Rice Krispie treats, bandaids, grill masters, buddies, baby hugging, helmets, croquet, potluck, loud, laughing, too many Doritos, running bases, cheering, flip flops, flags, group shots, full tummies, folding chairs, friends, thankful, blessed.

The kids said, “Let’s do it again…tomorrow!!”

 

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Parent Photography Workshop June 2013

I totally get it. I'm a mom too. I want good pictures of my kids but alas they are not always angels sitting with their hands folded in their laps while I wait for the sun to hit the perfect angle to illuminate their radiant smiles. Sometimes family pictures look like this:

Cousins pictures this past Easter weekend.

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Fighting over the flower bouquet as all two year olds do.

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But then with a little know how and plenty of help I got these:

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I am LOVING teaching these classes to moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles. After my last class, I got some wonderful feedback including these two notes.

Thanks again Cassandra... it all is SO much clearer to me!! I know fully understand how ISO, aperture and the shutter speed all work together. I had read a few books and my photog hubby answered my questions, but you made it so much easier to understand! I was getting so discouraged shooting indoors in my living room. It seemed to have great light with a big bay window and a couple of skylights, but my pictures never turned out as bright as I wanted. I was always relegated to my kitchen eating area for the best light. Today...I took pictures of my daughter at night in the living room, and with your tips, my pictures looked like it was daytime. They looked GREAT!! So encouraged! Linda

I just wanted to tell you that from all the things you taught (take pictures of kids in action not just posed, how to get genuine smiles, using lines, lights, etc... and of course tech details), I was able to take pretty good pictures that I was proud of from the day that I came back from the class. Thank You!!! Julia

Registration is now open for the next class on Saturday, June 1 from 9:30-12:30

  • It will be held at my home in Auburn (where I’ll also have donuts, fruit, French press coffee and tea).
  • This class is open to moms and dads but also aunts, uncles and grandparents who pick up their cameras. Really, if you want to photograph people at all, this workshop will help you a lot.
  • The cost is $75.

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During this three hour class, we will cover:

  • How to capture your child with genuine emotion in your everyday life.
  • Setting up your shot (perspective, balance, being aware of your environment).
  • Lighting and how to find and work with the best light in given situations.
  • Displaying your photos.
  • Understanding settings on your D-SLR. (We usually have a range of people who shoot from fully automatic to dabbling in manual). How nice it would be if there was a magic button on d-slr's but a little technical knowledge can go a long ways!
  • We’ll spend the last 45 minutes shooting together using what we’ve learned.
  • I'll send you out with a renewed conviction of how important photographing your family is and how you need to be in pictures too. (Warning: most of us get a little teary at one point).

If you are interested, please contact me. Email cassandra@cassandrahamiltonphotography.com, or in the contact form of my website or you can call 253.880.1232. Your $75 registration fee mailed in will save your spot. Class size is limited.

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Mother Daughter Valentine's Party

In this world of legos, firetruck rubber boots and sword fighting (when one of the boys is always crying over getting clocked over the head)....I am definitely glad that I have a girlie too. Craft stores, novels, curling hair and American Girl movies. One of the things that Ruby and I have done for the last several years is have a Mother Daughter Valentine party. It's a time of year where I particularly feel like we need some pink and sugar and I yearn for the girl time. This year we had a load of girls and a bunch of mamas who were just as eager as I was to down some iced coffee and chat. It's kind of a mixed group of friends we've known forever, friends from church, friends from school and it always blesses me to see everyone mix and mingle. We are very, very thankful for friendships and community. This year we had a pedicure and manicure station, manned by our lovely teenage friends, Kaia and Jessa, who always come with their mom to load me up with treats and help out. They glittered up fingers and toes. We did a Two Truths and Lie game and giggled as the girls kept very straight faces as they shared their creativity. However, poor Isabelle just couldn't fool us when she said, "We both love mushrooms!" and then dissolved into crazy laughs. We played a lipstick game where the blindfolded moms had to apply gloss or lipstick to the girls. Ben was upstairs with the boys and could hear the wild shrieks. Then cardmaking and cooking decorating to work up an appetite for snacks which were cookies, crackers and cheese, and fruit.

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The mamas wrote love notes to the girls.

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Our amazing helpers who had everything cleaned right up for me by the end of the night. I told them they are invited to every party I ever throw...ever!

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I know what Susanne is talking about with 95% certainty...the virtues of Norwex!

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And then it tickled me to go in the other room and see the daughters of those moms entertwined and laughing on the couch together.

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Thanks for the fun and friendship....time with you girls was just what we needed!

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Christmas Gift Certificate Special

I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that we are now in the Christmas season! I have heavily been in fall mode, but low and behold I feel the turkey hormone coursing through my system, Thanksgiving is over, and it's the most wonderful time of the year!

I have decided to offer a special deal on Christmas gift certificates until December 20. Drumroll please......

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If there is someone that you've been thinking of blessing with the gift of photography, now's your chance. If you want to add this to your own wishlist, you can hint, send this link to your sweetie, or maybe even buy it for yourself. Hey, you deserve a treat, right?

Here's the fine print:

  • The session must be booked by September 30, 2013 in order to use the print credit. After that the $375 will retain its cash value but if prices go up, you will pay the balance.
  • Photo sessions will take place at a mutually agreed upon location within 20 miles from the 98092 area code (otherwise travel fees will apply).
  • After your session, when I post your whole gallery to your client gallery on my website, you may order prints totaling $150, which I will have printed at my professional lab.

Exciting, right?!

If you are interested, contact me through my email: cassandra@cassandrahamiltonphotography.com.

Merry Christmas!

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Jonathan and Naomi {Husband and Wife}

I told them I wouldn't blog their wedding pictures...but I changed my mind :) . I do that sometimes. The reason I wasn't going to share them on my blog, I carefully explained, was because I'm a family photographer and though I have been asked to do weddings by some reaaaaaalllly nice people and been terrrrrrrribly tempted at times, I have made the decision to stick with families, couples, children, seniors and babies. But this was an exception. Naomi is family to me. Her dad is my cousin and when they kindly asked if I would photograph this day, I pretty much talked myself into it....and I am really glad that I did. When we did their engagement photos a couple months ago, I knew that their wedding would be pure fun. Naomi is radiant, gentle, thoughtful and has a smile that lights up the room. Jonathan is funny, caring, personable and so easy to talk to.

Their wedding was truly a golden day, filled with warmth and joy, laughing and celebration. There were also a few tears. We Kasteels are known for shedding a few. My Opa used to stand on the front porch and have tears fill his eyes as the family drove away after family dinners. My dad cries over newspaper articles. Kevin, Naomi's dad, had tears running down his face during the ceremony. And I was alternately laughing and crying as I was editing these photos. While I was working on one and wiping away a tear at seeing how perfectly happy Jono and Naomi looked, my five year old Jasper walked in. I said, "Oh Jas, this will be you one day! You'll wear a nice suit and marry a really beautiful bride! I'll be sitting there with a big smile on my face and I'll hug you and I might even cry happy tears!" He looked at me and said, "Maybe...or maybe you'll be dead by then." Ha! Maybe this is the last generation of those of us who are overly sentimental!

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I arrived at the bride's parent's home where Kevin was pounding away on his laptop, furiously working on his speech, the cousins were milling around and the bridesmaids were munching down scones and fruit. There was some skyping going on with loved ones in England and though it was busy, and Corinne was making sure everything was on schedule, everyone was happy and relaxed.

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Naomi's brother's made their final preparations for the day. After all, nothing says wedding like the groomsmen carrying guns around.

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We drove up to the gorgeous wedding location, nestled in the mountains, overlooking the water. Jono and his guys were getting shuttled up to the wedding location on golf carts. He was one happy guy.

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Meanwhile, Naomi and the girls (and ring bearer) were hanging out laughing and talking and waiting for the fun to begin. She said she was a tiny bit nervous but you'd never have known. Radiant doesn't even begin to describe the beauty and happiness of this bride.

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I believe these little lovelies could be rented out as professional flower girls. They were so charming and fun and good. When we were taking their portraits, Grace asked in a perfect British accent, "Should we say sausages??" Maybe it's the equivalent to "cheese" in England?

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Naomi and Jono's Wedding

That was one proud dad.

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Their ceremony was one of my favorites I've even been too. Naomi's uncle had everyone laughing good and hard and then truly shared from his heart what God's desire for marriage is. As he described God's intent and plan, it was so obvious that Jono and Naomi have walked this out so well and truly honor each other and the Lord with how they have cared for each other and by the pledges they have made to honor Him first. It was fun and sweet and meaningful. When the wedding co-ordinator (who was amazing!) told us that she and the golf cart drivers had tears in their eyes, it reminded me of what a privilege it was to witness such a special day.

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One crashed on her daddy and one perched on her mama's feet. These flower girls were darling.

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A moment of celebrating with her dear friend as the papers were signed.

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Happy? I think so.

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Then while the wedding party and guests took a break, we took portraits of the bride and groom.

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They were so elated and happy and clearly in love.

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Naomi and Jono's Wedding3

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Then we ran off to take pictures with the rest of the wedding party. Jono asked if they could drive with me and I bemoaned that if I'd had any idea I'd be driving around the bride and groom, I would have at least washed my car!! (However, I don't think they cared at all :) ).The wedding party was such a great group. They were easygoing and fun and lovely to work with.

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Not knowing all these relationships beforehand, it was so neat for me to see how deep the love and friendship ran between them.

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These girls were too fun and held on while I shot and shot and shot.

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When Naomi requested a picture with her brothers, I said that this is what things would look like for my kids one day, the big sister and little brothers. They argued that they're not so little. (They are right). Kevin and Corinne told me that they are all friends as well as siblings and I love that.

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Jono and Naomi, being with you and having this special role on your wedding day was such an incredible experience for me. You are so full of life and love for each other and all the people around you and I am so excited to see what the Lord does in your lives together.

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Texas Sessions 2012 Announced

IMG 5049 copy I've got my ticket purchased and I am one excited girl to be coming to visit my friends in DFW this November. I am flying solo this time and will be staying with my other family who loved me up when I lived with them during college. Deja vu! Mary's already promised to make me strawberry pie and I anticipate lots of talking and laughing:).

I'm packing my camera and I am opening up a day of mini sessions while I am visiting.

Saturday, November 17

Las Colinas

Two Options:

(A) 15 images/ 20 minutes/$185 OR

(B) 30 images/ 30 minutes/$275

I will have your images edited and mailed out to you on disk by Nov. 30 so you can use them for Christmas cards or create Christmas gifts with them if you wish.

If you are interested:

1. Message me through the contact section of my website HERE. Tell me what option you are interested in (A or B) and if you prefer morning or afternoon or if you can be flexible and do either.

2. Once I confirm with you with a time, you can mail me a $50 deposit to secure your booking within two weeks. The balance will be due at the session.

On this trip, I also could possibly fit in another regular session and meet you at the location at your choice. $375. An hour to an hour and a half. 50-ish images. Let me know if you might be interested in this.

Can't wait!! And if I can wrangle this little cowboy into shots like this, your family will be a breeze...for real.

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Fall Mini Session 2012 Information

We have water toys strewn around and flip flops are the daily footwear for every one in the house...but I'm beginning to plan for the fall. Typically, my fall schedule is the busiest of the year. I would recommend that you contact me as soon as possible to get on my calendar as I did have to turn away quite a few people last year. I book until right before Thanksgiving and then take the rest of the year off (except for newborn babies :) ).

It seems like there is quite a bit of interest in fall mini sessions again so I am going to offer a day in October with 6-7 sessions. Besides one person mini sessions which I offer year round, this is the only time that I offer mini sessions for single families (up to six people). It's a great opportunity to have pictures taken for Christmas cards or to just get a family update.

Here are the details:

Fall Mini Sessions

Saturday, October 13

Ruston Way in Tacoma (think big gorgeous trees by the water)

20-30 minutes

15 images on disk with copyright release

$175

A $25 deposit will secure your spot. Let me know if you want a space.  I'd love to meet up with you to create some portraits of your family!

 

 

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Tour of Our Nest- Downstairs.

I'm a nester. I always have been. My family laughs when they recall how, when I was six, I liked to vacuum my room every day and if anyone sat on my bed, I would immediately smooth out the wrinkles. I feel very thankful for our home but have nested happily in dorm rooms, tiny apartments, and our treehouse of a rental when we were newlyweds.

My environment matters to me. When I am super busy, I long for a serene and clean and uncluttered home. There is only so much serenity I get these days with four children and I have had to let some things go. There are usually little legos and cars under my couch, most often fingerprints on my glass doors and laundry which is never quite all done. However, I have found that basic orderliness helps us all to function better. I also feel that letting go of some of the clutter, even when they are objects or toys that we've once used regularly, helps us to enjoy what we do have that much more.

I am working with the kids to participate and clean up one area as they are done with it. By making it a fun race or having a treat at the end, like making their own trail mix when they are done, we keep it a happy task. I also take a few minutes at night to just put the last bits of laundry and things away so I don't have an overflow onto the next day. I like to have my little home in basic order.

We've been updating and working on rooms in the last year or two and I have been wanting to document and record these changes. Our home is always a work in progress. I am regularly thinning things out and pick up items here and there. Some of the best decorating advice I've heard and stuck to is to just to collect what you love and for me, it's worked together. I also have a very wonderful husband who just lets me do whatever and has no real opinions on towel sizes and paint hues. He just lets me go for it.

Our kitchen was completed last summer and I adore it. Like most of you, our lives revolve around the kitchen for a huge amount of our day and I wanted a workable and bright space. My friend, Cheryl, of Bloom Design Group, helped me think it all through and offered suggestions that I hadn't even considered before. She knows my taste even better than I do! Then we were thrilled with the work that Northwest Solid Rock Construction did for us. They completely re-did the whole shebang and we were extremely pleased with their work and the quality service that we had from them.

I love how the white feels so clean, the island which now is completely reconfigured and works so much better for me and for the warmth of the whole space.

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When I was digging around for hours on the internet for lamps, I emailed Cheryl my sad little selections. She wrote back Can I just say no to them all? I'll find you what you want. A couple hours later, she had links to eight different lamps, all of which I adored!

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The room that I worked on after that was the family room which is directly off of the kitchen. We are in the kitchen and family room constantly. We got the sectional last summer and I love that it is wipeable. I wanted comfort and friendliness, with some toys available but I didn't want the room to scream toy room!

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I'm pretty thrilled with how this picture wall turned out. It was a big stretch for my symmetrical soul to depart from perfect symmetry but I think the bright colors make it cohesive. I just spraypainted a bunch of frames we had and some cheapo ones.

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I use "outdoor" pillows in this room. There are some fun fabrics available now and I find that they stand up way better to the wear and tear of the kids.

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These are the decorations over my mantle and the canvas of the kids' feet that I put over the tv.

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I searched high and low for a table that would withstand the beating I knew it would get in this room between toy cars and dishes and banging little brothers. I finally decided on an outdoor table which I knew would hold up better. It is distressed and I knew it could get banged up a wee bit and it wouldn't make me crazy to see the finish on a new table immediately messed up. I also love fresh plants and flowers in our rooms. They make me happy.

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These were inexpensive but also works great in the space, buckets and a shelf from Ikea. The sets are easy for the boys to keep together and I find that when sets are together instead of all our toys jumbled up, they play with them more.

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I also got some wicker storage for our huge Trio collection and another wooden box from Ikea to hide the miscellaneous toys.

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Here's a little bench I found last year to go at the end of the hallway with baskets for library books and some projects.

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I just painted the dining room walls this spring. It took two hours after I'd been thinking about it for about two years. I love paint. I decided to change what I had hanging on the wall there and am still deciding how I want to do it.

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The buffet with my grandmother's dishes.

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Our living room.

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We are big blanket people and I have a basket that we all dig into regualarly.

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We re-did the downstairs bath this year too but I have absolutely no natural light in there....so black and white :) I painted the bath a tone off of the shade in the rest of the house and we had new counters and cabinets put in when we did the kitchen last summer. A new light fixture makes a huge difference in there too. I hung a canvas of the boys in the tub.

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Our guest room or "Oma's Room".

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I love that this room is separate from the rest of the bedrooms upstairs as it's at the end of the hallways downstairs.

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This spring in our laundry room we tore down our ugly wire shelves which were stacked with all kinds of supplies and put up cabinets. Insert: sigh of relief at not having to look at those supplies anymore. Insert: question mark as to why we didn't do this right when we moved in. I also added some fun frames with black and whites of the kids which I used velcro strips to attach. I painted this room the same color as the downstairs bath and Ben is putting in a utility sink for me there.

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The garage is next on my agenda. Next week I'm going to paint and organize (and toss some of Ben's "extra's" like the taxidermy dog head.....). Ah, good times ahead.

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Portraits for Foster Children

Some of you may have read THIS STORY of an awesome adoption of a beautiful girl in foster care to the amazing family of some friends of ours. This happened a year ago this week. Rebecca and Oscar met Tricia at Royal Family Kids Camp and realized that God was putting this precious girl into their family. It's been a year of adjusting and growing and praying and commitment and though hard at times, beautiful things have happened in their family. Tricia and her sister, Bella, and their mom came to one of my Parent Photography Workshops to model for us. This is one of my favorites of Rebecca and Tricia.

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Oscar and Rebecca have such a heart for children and families and adoption. They are a part of the Royal Family Kids Camp team at our church and are preparing for 60 foster children at camp this June. These children are often abused and neglected and come to a camp where they are loved and cared for overwhelmingly. The counselors only have two children each so they can give them the attention that they need and deserve. Their week is packed with activities and teaching and fun with people that show them the love of God which can change a heart forever.

This year, Rebecca was challenged by her team to see how much she could raise in quantities of 60 to bless these children, who often have so very little of their own. One of my friends, Dawnie, had it in her heart to organize and believe for enough people to make double fleece tied blankets for each child. Oh, what a blessing it will be for them! Ruby and I had a great time putting together our girl blanket and boy blanket and when I shared what we were doing on Facebook, we had several other friends jump in to bless these kids too. Here's Ruby working on ours and then leaning on the stack of ours and a couple that were dropped off. I so appreciate people's generosity!!

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I have another friend who is collecting 60 sets of toothbrushes and toothpaste from their dental office. I am sure there are a few donations I don't know about. Here's what Rebecca said about the donations:

60 is the miracle number. The team just challenged me to see how many gifts I can gather for our campers this year. I need 60 of anything! For example: 60 Nanos, 60 Gift cards to anywhere, 60 swimsuits, 60 pencils, 60 backpacks, 60 T-shirts, 60 flip flops, 60 toothbrushes, 60 travel size shampoos, 60 toys, 60 hot wheels, 60 headbands, 60 hats, 60 suitcases, 60 sunglasses, 60 sleeping bags, 60 pillows...... __________ use your imagination! Thank you so much for giving of your time and money to make these blankets... they will be such a blessing to the kids. When we adopted Tricia out of foster care, she moved in with the RFKC duffle bag and 2 black garbage bags of personal items. What you are doing is going to bless someone beyond words. Thanks so much!

I was thinking about what I could do and I had it in my heart to take portraits of each of the 60 kids. Before I could even voice the thought, Pastor Tony (our children's pastor) asked me if I would consider doing just that. Yes!!! What fun it will be to create portraits that reflect who they are and the love they are experiencing!! I am so excited! So I will be heading to camp at the end of June, will take the portraits and have them professionally printed.

Here's where I am wondering if perhaps some of you might partner with me. I would LOVE to frame their 5 by 7 portraits and give them that with some extra 4 by 6 images to give to their loved ones. Would you consider donating some frames or money to go towards this project?  They can be any simple, solid colored frames that fit a 5 by 7 picture. I found these at IKEA the other day for $2.50.  We need 60 frames altogether.

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If you would like to help with this blessing here are the options:

  • You could donate any number of new 5 by 7 frames purchased from anywhere.
  • You could donate money and I could purchase the frames from IKEA for $2.50 each.
  • You could donate 60 of any of the items listed in Rebecca's wishlist (or come up with your own). You can also recruit a few friends to go in on it with you.
  • You could donate money to this whole project so the leadership of the RFKC team can purchase items towards this project.

These are amazing, precious kids who deserve all the blessings and love that our own children do. If you have in your heart to join with us in this project, we would love your support. It's amazing what love can do and how it can change a very countenance! Please let me know if you would like to be a part.

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