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hard to say good-bye.

Thanksgiving has always been our “thing.”  I wrote a blog post quite a few years back that perfectly describes my sentiments surrounding Thanksgiving (click here).  I could say that going into Thanksgiving this year was no different, but that wouldn’t really be the truth.  My grandparents made our Thanksgiving into what it is… a weekend packed with quality family time.  A weekend full of love and acceptance.  A weekend full of happiness that only spread as our family grew.  And then last year, my Gram passed away (click here).

Going into Thanksgiving this year came with a lot of emotions.   A lot.  Of course happiness was one of them- it just melts my heart to see the pure joy and excitement that my kids have going into the holiday.  It reminds me of my own childhood and how I couldn’t sleep for days leading up to the weekend.   But it also came with some sadness.   For this was the first time that we gathered as a large family since Gram’s funeral.  And the last time that we gathered as a family in my grandparents home.  If you are still with me, gear up because this might be my most picture heavy post ever, but it was extremely important to me to capture these memories (and I can’t take all of the photo credit because my incredibly talented sister/photographer took plenty of these images too!)

There was nothing that gave Gram more joy than watching her great-grandchildren play together, and grow from teeny people to slightly bigger people.   Watching the cousins together gives me the same joy.

You still with me?  I’m not even close to done!  Celebrating my nephews birthday was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend.  Oh my gosh, there is just something hilarious about kids with a pinata.

Ok, tell me that pic on the bottom right is not hilarious.  I mean, my cousin took this pinata bit pretty seriously.  His face makes me crack up every time I see that picture.

As much as we missed Gram this year, we also had SO many good laughs.  If you haven’t checked out the app called “Dubsmash” yet, it’s an absolute must.  We (as in the adults- once the kids went to sleep) spent HOURS making ourselves laugh.  And no cousins, don’t worry… I would never post them and embarrass you (anyone who wants to see, feel free to send me an email and I will send them along… shhh, don’t tell!)


Below you will see our token full group family shot and the cousin line-up.  I always say it, but someday I need to post the entire collection of them… we have been doing these since we were little kids!

So, after we took these outdoor images, a few of my cousins and I sat outside as it got dark.  We sat in the grass, in the backyard, enjoying the quiet and taking in the view.  The backyard overlooks the Mississippi River and as we sat, we shared memories of growing up in the house, and watching eagles fly over the river.  Suddenly, I glanced up and the following image is what I saw.  Believe what you like, but it sure looks like an angel to me 🙂  Hi, Gram.

Ok, if you are still with me, you’ve made it to the end (almost).  Every year, for the past few years, we have done a family music video.  These are some complete gems, and you know I love you all because I’m actually willing to post them and completely embarrass myself (and the rest of my family!) 😉  This one is dedicated to Gram… who danced every chance she could and instilled the love of dance in the rest of us too!  Some of the images from the dances are down below, here is the link to the video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZigvYx8sx6A 


And with that, I sign off!  Goodnight everyone!


I am positive that I just wrote your 1st birthday blog post yesterday (click here), yet somehow another year has passed and you turn TWO today.  I feel at a loss for words (I know that is a big surprise for some of you reading this).


You are still very much my “baby,” but over the past year you have also grown into a “big boy” (even though I still won’t admit it).  You are a walking (usually running), talking (usually yelling), and funny (usually hilarious) little guy.   You love to tell long stories, even if we don’t understand everything you are saying.  You absolutely adore sports of all kinds- if you have a ball in your hand, you are usually as happy as can be.   You also love your “koo-koo twains” (choo-choo trains) and you spend quite a bit of time driving them around your train tracks.   You are still happy to cuddle with me before I put you into bed and you give the best hugs.  You love music of all kinds and you are very specific with your song requests.   Right now you love itsy-bitsy spider (which you pronounce as one big word “ittybittybido.”)  You also love ABC’s, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Let it Go, as well as a whole bunch of top 40 music that you happily sing along to (not many babies know the words to “Bad Blood” but you sure do!)  You know when you are being watched and you LOVE putting on a show, especially for your sisters.

You have an infectious laugh and such a happy personality.  I know that the “terrible 2’s” might be on the way, but somehow all of these phases are easier this time around, knowing you are the baby.   I love the way you love life.  It is impossible for me to express just how much I love you, but I know that I will never give up trying.  Perhaps one of the things I love most is the way you love your sisters, and the way they love you.  I sometimes joke that it will be a rude awakening for you when you figure out that in life, you might not have a cheering squad for every little thing you do.  I know that they will continue to protect you fiercely, and I have no doubt that the day is coming when you will protect them right back.  You ask for them all day long and you combine their names into one, so I hear (at least 200 times a day), “Maymaynenna???” (Maymay and Nenna for Macyn and Sienna).  You absolutely love waking up from your nap, knowing that it is time to go pick them up from school.

Happy 2nd Birthday Asher!  You are such the perfect addition to our family.  And as much as I want to keep you little, I sure can’t wait to see what the next year brings our way.

an oztastic halloween.

Wishing you all an Oztastic Halloween… Full of lots of fun, laughter, and Snickers bars (and if you don’t like ’em, send ’em my way!)

Would you like a few tips to help you capture excellent images of your little ghouls, ghosts and goblins?

  1.  Don’t save the picture taking until Halloween day.   Grab your camera BEFORE the actual day… your kiddos will be thrilled to try out their costumes early and they will be much more likely to look at the camera if you aren’t forcing them to do so while they gaze longingly across the street at all of the neighborhood kids sprinting from door to door.
  2. To make sure you get some great pictures, get outside early in the day and turn off your flash. Try to find a shady spot when taking outdoor pictures so that your child is not squinting in the photos. A bright flash (or the sun) causes children to squint, close their eyes, and act unnatural. Try turning off your flash and click away. If you are in a darker setting and you must use your flash, make sure to stay within 6 to 10 feet of your children (“Flash Range”).
  3. Taking pictures of your child from their level will make your photographs seem much more real. Don’t be afraid to get on the ground (try sitting or kneeling) and keep the camera at your child’s eye level. Your little pumpkin will be much more likely to smile if you aren’t towering above them, and the pictures will be much more flattering.
  4. Don’t forget to zoom in! Capture little details of their costumes; their feet, hands, shoes, masks, capes, and more! Let your pictures tell your child’s entire Halloween story!
Here are a few more images of my Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Wicked Witch.  Just so you all know, my Wicked Witch of the West is NOT angry at me for taking her picture (which is a nice change of pace, since she is usually running away from the camera).  She is simply playing into her character.   And for those of you who know my kids, their costumes are VERY fitting this year, aren’t they? 😉


it’s a…

So this baby bump (click here), became this newborn baby (click here), who somehow overnight turned into this sweet boy (click here), and he is now going to be a big brother!   I was lucky enough to photograph the gender reveal party and through tears was able to capture the moment I found out I am going to be an aunt to a new…

Niece!   Boy or girl, I’d love that baby just the same, but it will be fun to add another baby girl to the mix!  Can’t wait to meet her in just a few short months!