4th Of July

Well, its only 2 weeks late, but I'm finally getting to these 4th of July photos.  Truth be told, I actually had these finished a while ago, but have had internet problems. Lots and lots of pictures here!

I love the way these turned out.  Scrolling through them just brings me right back to that day, and I love that. Family mixed with friends.  Yummy food.  LOTS of kids running around.  Great conversations.  It truly was  a perfect way to celebrate our country.

 Look how big baby Huck is!!!

 These three. Always in princess dresses! I can't wait to pull these out when they're teenagers.

 How awesome is that water-slide?! The kids absolutely loved it, although the older kids pretty much took it over.

 Miles and Will kept grabbing handfuls of that mac n cheese with hotdogs, or dipping chips in the salsa.  They are at the height now where they can reach.  And usually if one of them does it, the other is not far behind.  We're gonna be in trouble with those two!

 Treasuring this sweet photo of me and my boy!

 Brody has the sweetest dimples and is starting to give smiles.

Hope you all had equally enjoyable 4ths!

Spring rolls and Chopsticks with a side of grace, please!

I think I've approached the age with Will where I can't take him out to a restaurant anymore. Last week I met up with a good friend, whom I haven't seen in quite a while. We both have had a lot of things going on in our life since we last spoke, and honestly, I really needed some girl time.  The first thing I did wrong was think that I could have an open, authentic conversation with my girlfriend while having my little around. NOT. William was all over the place.  We chose a Vietnamese restaurant for some salmon spring rolls and vermicelli.  Looking back, I think the wait staff at this mom-n-pop place were scared when they saw us sit down because they knew what would come.

The fact of the matter is you can't share your heart on the things you're struggling with when your son is reaching for the Siracha. Or when he's waving the chopsticks around like numchucks (how does he even know how to do that?!), and sticking them in the delicious peanut sauce. Or when he tries to help himself to your friend's fried rice, and his aim is not quite on par yet, so 85% of the contents of the spoon end up on the floor (I think the wait staff just LOVED that.. have you ever tried to sweep up rice?!)   Or when he throws a tantrum because mommy won't let him run about the restaurant, harassing other diners, shoe-less because he insists on kicking his flip flops off every time we sit down.
The longer we sat there, and tried to eat, the more stressed out I became. I was embarrassed that my son was acting that way, and bummed out that my friend and my convo was constantly interrupted. Knowing that I couldn't give 100% of myself to neither my friend nor my son stresses me out. I desperately wanted the time with my friend, but Will wanted my attention also.

I waived my white flag about 10 minutes after our dinner came, apologized, and told her that we just need to go back to our house and finish dinner there.  He was becoming more irrational by the minute, and I knew it wasn't going to end well if we stayed.  I hate to sound dramatic, but I felt defeated.

My friend extended such grace to me the entire time.  She tried keep Will entertained.  She let him eat her fried rice, and helped feed him. She helped me pack up my food, and she even paid for my dinner. It's silly to even feel embarrassed, because it's not like I can control him, but I did.

Once we got back to my house, we set up our dinner on the patio, so Will could play and we could eat.  Almost immediately, the stress melted away.  Will was perfectly happy dumping sand out of the sand box, and playing with the tractors, and my friend and I finished our food and conversation.

A few lessons learned.. for one, no restaurants for a while with my boy.  It's just not worth the stress. Secondly, I want to be better at spending time with my friends. I'm realizing that I am much more introverted and hermit-like than I thought I was.  I am in a stage of life that is incredibly busy, and I've fallen off the radar socially.  Time with my friends is life-giving. Also, it is so easy for me to give grace and be helpful to others, but I have a terrible time receiving it. I guess its a pride issue, that I think I should be able to do it on my own. Typically, when I see a failure, I devise a plan on how to not fail in that way again. This just makes me more self-reliant, and also sets me up for more failure, because failure is inevitable. I get nowhere. I need to recognize and admit that I will fail, and accept God-given grace, in whatever form it comes in.  That day, it was in the form of my amazing friend, who made me feel so loved and supported. I am THANKFUL for friends like her, who can see that I'm struggling, step in, and love me anyway.

Henry Royce Visser

My friends welcomed their sweet baby BOY into the world on May 17th.  Little baby Henry shares the same birthday as his daddy.  What a great birthday present!

Those adorable side rolls!!!  Henry is not even chubby, either.  What a sweet photo of him and his mama.

Austin and Kylee's home is filled with unique mementos of their life.  Its almost like a museum, each item with a story of its own.  Kylee changes things out often also, so every time I go over there, there is something new to look at.  I love it! Their bookcase wall has always been a favorite of mine.  They must have a couple hundred children's books now. Both of Kylee and Austin's parents saved their childhood books for them, and they also received new books as a shower present.  I LOVE that they will be passing along so much history, in something simple as childhood books. I thought this shot would be a great one to look back on because I can only imagine how many time Henry will go to this book shelf and pick out a book for his parents to read him.  This will be a staple in his life.

Before they knew what they were having, they had decided on two names.  During one of our talks, I had told her that I had heard of a little boy Henry who's nickname was Huck, rather than the more common Hank.  To me, he will be Huck :). I love that one of the books displayed was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Also, we couldn't forget lamby, as he is quickly becoming Huck's little lovey.
I love them so much!! How sweet are they?!

Austin was back at work when I came by to take some pictures.  He came home from lunch to be apart of them.  I love that you can see the paint on his work shorts.  There is nothing like being rocked by daddy!
It is kind of hard to see here, but Huck has a little white patch of hair on the top of his noggin.  It's pretty adorable.

There is something really special about watching two people you love become parents.  My two friends have accepted this new responsibility with so much grace and humility. They are honest and authentic about the good things and the hard things. I am excited to be able to share this parenting journey with them. Love you guys!
 This last one represents the epitome of becoming a new parent.  Let the multi-tasking begin! Holding a sleeping baby and baby's musical lamby in one hand, and pouring a cup of coffee with the other. Once, while visiting our cousins in New York, I nursed an 8 month old William, while riding the subway, standing up.  We were in Brooklyn, the car was crazy packed, standing room only.  I put my back against one of the poles, widened my stance a bit, and made sure my nursing cover was in place.  Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do!

The day Brody was born

We all anxiously awaited the arrival of  my sister's little baby.  At Jen's 20 week anatomy scan, the technician found an oomphalocele on the baby's belly. Typically, that kind of defect is also coupled with other physical and genetic abnormalities. I remember my sister telling me about the phone call she received after the results from the ultrasound came back.  In tears, Jen, Daniel and I sat and prayed over that sweet baby.  Prayed, hard, that God would protect the baby, that the doctors would have all the information needed to proceed with care, and that Jen and Daniel would be strengthened and comforted as they walked a road unknown to them. 
They did a lot of testing, and watched the baby as it grew, and PRAISE JESUS, the doctors determined that there were no other defects, and that the size of the oomphalocele was fairly small. Still, the baby would need to have surgery within the first couple days of it's life. All so so scary and hard to process when you are still carrying the baby in your womb.
My sister was a champ.  She remained strong, calm, and graceful, which I know she attributes to God. Because of the potential complications and stress a vaginal birth can have on a wee babe, the doctors scheduled a c-section.

 Daniel texted my parents and I to come out into the hallway at 9:41 am.
 We all took guesses on what she was having. Most of us thought it would be a girl.  But to our surprise, it was a BOY!

 My sister's lips!
 Wheeling the baby into the NICU.

 They only allowed two people back in the NICU room.  My mom and I went in to find that Jen had just been wheeled in from her recovery.

 It was heavy, seeing him hooked up to everything.  And I even had the comfort of knowing that his defect wasn't that bad.  My heart broke for the other babies in the NICU, and their parents.

 Brody's sweet nurses.

His surgery went really well, and he is a healthy baby boy with a bellybutton :) I can only imagine the stories he'll make up as to how he got his scar.

Welcome to the world, Brody!! You are loved!

The Moss Family

I came from a family of three girls, so I know, first hand, what a blessing we all were to my parents :) Dave and Leigh have four.  Four times the sweetness. Four times the cuddles and Eskimo kisses.  Four times the sass!  

I had the pleasure of taking some photos of this family last week.  They were so much fun!  Hailey and Talia are gorgeous. I mean, seriously, look at their eyes! Lillian was fun and silly, and was far more interested in the sand toys someone left behind.  Little Amelia was content to be held by her mom and dad, and to watch her sisters play. It's so incredibly obvious how much this family loves each other.  


 I am IN LOVE with this photo.  This is how they were the entire time.  I'm sure they get annoyed with each other from time to time, but these sisters love each other!

 We were finishing up some pictures of the girls when we turned around and found Dave playing with these trucks.  He had made a little track in the sand.  We had to laugh!  All these girls running around, he had to do boy stuff for a little.

Wes & Miles

I rented a lens a couple of weeks ago (oh, 28-70mm f/2.8, I love you!) and wanted to get some practice with it, so I headed over to my sister-in-law's and took some pictures of her boys.  When I got there, Miles was asleep, and Wes was playing outside in his pool.  I LOVE this series of photos. I simply sat back, and took pictures.  No giving directions, no 'look here, Wes!' or 'say CHEEEEESE!', I just observed their interactions. I hope this will be a sweet memory for them!

 Recognize this little cutie?  This is Miles, and he is also in the picture I chose for my header.  That picture is one of my absolute favorite pictures that I have ever taken. 

This next set is more directed.  It is a couple weeks past the 4th (we're still in July, so it totally counts, right?!), but here are the boys in their 4th of July clothes. 
 Eagerly awaiting an otter pop!

Love them!!

Aaron & Erica + 2

I remember the moment shortly after my son was born when I realized how different my life would forever be. We had been at home for a couple of days, I had a touch of the "baby blues," and darn-it! I couldn't run and take refuge at Target when I wanted to get out of the house!!!  They (whoever 'they' are) say while you're pregnant that "your whole life is about to change!!" And, I knew that was true, but I had no idea how different it was going to be until I experienced the change myself. I have been around a lot of babies, so I felt a little more ready.  It was a huge change, and that was only with ONE baby.

Aaron and Erica welcomed TWO little babies into their family a little over weeks ago.  As I am a newbie photographer, I reached out to her and asked if I could document their new life at home, as a family of four.  She kindly accepted. Erica and I were friends and fellow cheerleaders in high school (SMHS, what UP?!!).  She went on to become a successful hair stylist, married her high school sweetheart, trained hard as a fitness competitor, and never left good ol' North County.  When she announced she was expecting, she kept all of us facebook-stalkers in the know by documenting her pregnancy in one of the most beautiful ways I have seen.  She shared her weight gains, her measurements, and even posted pics of her bare belly. And all along the way, I felt like I was there with her. Basically, she rocks. She has embraced motherhood fully and I felt honored to witness just a glimpse of it.

Aaron & Erica - thanks a MILLION for allowing me into your home to document your sweet little family (Hi Jameson and Chloe!!).  I am so grateful for your openness and trust.  I hope you enjoy these pictures of your new, full, life.  It is a beautiful one!  - MANY thanks, Christina

Jameson only has eyes for his mama!
Love that sweet little hand saying hello!

I love these two photos of Aaron above. Especially that sweet little smile he has on his face when looking at his daughter.