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it’s a good life.

Wow, I guess it’s been a while since I found time to catch up on this blog!   I was blessed to have the opportunity to photograph so many families over the last few months that I know and love.  I promise that I will share lots of beautiful moments captured in upcoming posts but first to catch you up on my little crew…

Summers are crazy busy at our house and this year was no exception.  It was an amazing summer filled with great times with friends & family.  We introduced Addie to camping at our favorite spot, Stonybrook.  I guess our little diva doesn’t really get it yet.  We decided it will be easier next year and made the best of our time there together anyways.  We traveled to NC for a fun reunion with dear friends and got a little sidetracked in Newark on the way back but tried to make the best of that too.  Will & I escaped to Atlantic City for the Dave Matthews Caravan and our feet danced in the dirt all weekend, happy & free.  The boys jumped & sang for Jesus at vacation bible school & had a blast playing baseball & soccer with lots of trips to the local ice cream shop after games.  Looking back, my favorite times together were the warm, sunny days spent right in our backyard & all the gooey s’mores under the moonlight.  I have been loving the hipstimatic on my iphone for capturing all the real moments of our life.  Here is a little glimpse into our days…

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There were life changing moments this summer too.  Moments that reminded us to live intentionally, be courageous & have the faith to follow our hearts. We are adopting another child from Ethiopia.  Although we did not plan to have any more children, God had a different plan for our family.  It started about a year ago, when I saw his big brown eyes staring back at me from the computer on Holt’s photolisting for waiting children.  I don’t even know why I was on there that day but there was a moment of recognition.  Call it divine intervention.  I think a mommy’s heart just knows…

Here is a little about our sweet guy.  We plan to call him Teagan Samuel which is a slight variation from his Ethiopian first name as it is very difficult to pronounce.  We are not allowed to post his actual Ethiopian name but his first name means “found or chosen” and his middle name means “asked or prayed for”.  He was given his name by the person who found him when he abandoned as an infant.  He has been in an orphanage since this time, watching all of the other children come & go, waiting for a family to call his own.  He is now 4 1/2 years old.  There is much unknown as he sustained a brain injury during his first few months of life and has developmental delays as a result.  But one thing is for sure, he is already loved.  He has a baby sister & two big brothers that have prayed for him faithfully every night and a mommy & daddy that can’t wait to bring him home & show him what it means to be loved.

In related news, we have just begun a new well campaign through charity:water in honor of Addie Lou, Teagan & all the beautiful people of their birth country.  The news of the famine in the horn of Africa has been devastating and we support charity:water’s efforts to break the cycle of poverty by meeting life’s most basic need.  We are especially excited that this year donations will go toward purchasing a new drill rig to dig more wells in Ethiopia.  You can find details regarding our campaign & learn all about the project in a video you can fine here.  Your support with our campaign last year meant so much to us and we are hopeful that this year, our friends will continue to give generously to help change lives around the world.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williamson

Class of 2011/ Rochester NY Senior photographer

Driving down the highway saying goodbye to it all
In between the blues and greens we’re following the call
That takes us so far away from summer’s sunny days
You know I’m missing you already and I can still see your face

I can hear us laughing
I remember every part
I’ve got everything we ever did
It’s tattooed on my heart
But there’s a colder wind coming in
And blowing us apart
Until the summer brings us back,
You know you got a piece of my heart

Watching your taillights fading out of my sight
Feeling like the sun just lost a little bit of its light
But you’ve left your memories to linger, new memories to start
‘Til the summer brings you back, you know you got a piece of my heart

-Keri Noble

Congratulations to the Class of 2011!  Enjoy your summer days with each other & with your families before your next adventure begins.  Here are a few of my favorite images of two recent graduates from HF-L, Kristen & Marissa. Aren’t they both absolutely beautiful?!!!   They were so much fun to photograph & I know they both have bright futures ahead.

Kristen

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Marissa

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I absolutely love shooting seniors and am really excited to work with the class of 2012.  I have set aside times for senior sessions in August & September. They are filling up quickly so please don’t wait to reach out to me if you would like to reserve one of the few session times remaining.   I look forward to hearing from you and planning a fun session that will show off your unique style & personality.

sweet homecomings

This weekend our family is celebrating the anniversay of Addie’s homecoming.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year.  It’s even harder to remember life before she was a part of our family.  Her transformation has been amazing.  She has grown into a lively, adventurous, sweet but strong willed little girl.  I can not imagine making the twenty hour flight with her right now as she does not like to sit still and has a tendency to be a bit dramatic when she does not get her way. Which happens quite often, since she loves to get into trouble.  As challenging as it is to deal with at times, I know that it is her strong spirit that got her through the first four months of her life in the orphanage and all the battles that her little body had to fight during this time.

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To celebrate Addie’s first year at home, we are hosting a formula drive through Brighton Their World.  Brighton Their World is a non-profit organization that is focused on helping orphans by providing basic neccesities like formula to orphanages in Ethiopia. Check out this short video to see what inspired the Hoffman family to begin this jouney…

Brighton Their World Promo from Echo on Vimeo.

I knew as soon as I watched this that a formula drive was the perfect way to celebrate the blessing of having Addie in our life. We were dangerously close to losing her in the same way that Brighton died.  Without proper nutrition, many other babies will never have the chance to know what it feels like to come home to a family that loves them. If you live in the Rochester area, please let us know if you would like to make a difference by donating formula. We will be collecting cans over the next month and then will ship them to the Hoffmans so that they can be transported by families that are traveling to Ethiopia.

Speaking of wonderful homecomings, I was recently blessed with the opportunity to capture sweet little Lola meeting her family for the first time after a long journey home from Korea. It was one of the most beautiful moments that I have ever been a part of …
Grab some tissues and enjoy this slideshow.

Finally, another homecoming that was very different but just as sweet. Our family recently joined many others at the airport to welcome home the latest group of WWII veterans returning from a trip to DC to visit the memorial on an Honor Flight. It was so touching to see how much it meant to the veterans as they were welcomed by the crowd and such a powerful reminder of how much the sacrifices they made for our freedom should mean to us.

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new life

Despite the snow that continues to fall outside my window, I have found the promise of spring in this new little life.  Introducing Patrick Joseph.  Seven pounds, eleven ounces of sweetness.  He was wonderful to work with and it was such a joy to see the happiness he brings to his doting parents, Terry & Tracy.  Another family born from the miracle of adoption and more proof that God has a perfect plan.

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their world

I may not have won the give away for a family session from Melissa Zihlman Photography, but I did find inspiration in the series on her blog documenting the every day life of her two sweet little boys.  As I capture this scene unfolding in front of me, I am reminded of why my journey in photography began and I am thankful for the sweet memories captured through my lens.  So that I will remember moments like this, when two little boys still fit in the bathtub together and a curious baby sister got more than she bargained for…

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jay & suzie; a love story continued.

The Good Life.

They have the power of the sun and strength of the soil.

Finding peace in their hearts and faith in their toil.

Sowing love.  Planting seeds.

Growing roots.

Blossoms to be.

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The gift of capturing an ordinary day…

That is what I strive to give my clients and now I am hoping to have the same for my family. I am really excited that we are finalists in the “all you need is love giveaway” from Melissa Zihlman Photography. Melissa lives in Texas but she will fly to the winner’s hometown for a session. I love Melissa’s style and it would be such a blessing to have all of us captured together now that Addie is home. This is the only picture we have of the five of us together so far. We took it with the camera propped on the edge of the playground in the early summer using the timer. I love it, especially for the memories it brings back of a fun night playing together followed by a trip to Dipper Dan’s for ice cream.
…but I would really love some more of this special time in our lives.
this time of falling in love with Addie and Braden loosing his front teeth and Riley on the verge of launching and Will & I more in love than ever.
The contest ends tomorrow and I would truly appreciate it if you could take a moment to vote for us here.
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and so they grow.

My babies both had birthdays this week. It seems so fitting that they are celebrating together since they have such a special bond. Riley simply adores his little sister. He can never get enough hugs & kisses and tells me everyday that she is the most beautiful baby in the world.
img_6221-2As we approach Addie’s first birthday, we feel so blessed that we have been chosen to be her family and are the lucky ones that get to watch her grow. And grow she has. Unbelievably, she is now over twenty six pounds.  As you can see, she is quickly catching up with her “big” brother.  She just started crawling and is into everything. She is a joy to be around (almost all of the time) and has a way of stealing the heart of everyone she meets. When we are out and people see her, they want to know her story. I am hopeful that when people here how she has blessed us, it will open their hearts to adoption.

Here she is on a rare, warm day in the late fall…
img_5301img_5167img_5229-2img_5309img_5340And then there’s Riley. Turning five but still my baby. He is right on the brink of launching and I am slowly being replaced as the center of his world by the much cuter & much more spontaneous little girl that lives next door. Until then, I will soak up all the moments when he is still mine and stow them away for the day he takes off and doesn’t look back.
img_6017-2-21img_6050He is intense with his emotions, passing out from anger & frustration one moment (wish I was exaggerating but thankfully he has almost outgrown this charming quality) and loving me completely the next. He is totally quirky and always the source of entertainment for our entire family. His favorite color is pink, he has imaginary friends that he calls his “work guys” and he says the silliest things because he is constantly mixing up words. He is very shy and not much of a risk taker out in the world but he is our wild & crazy rule breaker at home. He loves to make up songs and told me the other day that Jesus gave us life so that we can give it to others. He is obsessed with chocolate and somehow only weighs thirty three pounds despite the fact that he eats it all day long. If he decides that he is not in the mood to have his picture taken (or to do anything else, for that matter), there is no amount of bribery that will budge his stubborn little heart. On this beautiful summer evening, he decided to indulge me. This image is my absolute favorite. I love everything about it, the sky, the light just before sunset, his favorite hat that he found in Santa Cruz and wore for the rest of the summer, his expression and how he was collecting seeds to grow in our backyard. Sometimes, everything just comes together & the moment is yours to keep forever no matter how fast they grow. img_6128-2-31img_6176img_6177img_6179

Merry Christmas!

…from my family to yours.

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I am so grateful for all of the wonderful blessings that 2010 has brought my family and I look forward to ending the year with a bang! We will be hosting a holiday bash at the Rabbit Room in Honeoye Falls on December 28th. There will be great music, great food and a raffle with great prizes (including a family portrait session and print credit), so if you are in the Rochester area and are looking for something fun to do, come out to support a great cause! The event will mark the end to our three month long “Let it Shine” campaign through charity:water in honor of our little Addie Lou. So far, we have raised almost nine thousand dollars, giving the gift of clean water to 435 people. We are so thankful to our families, friends and strangers too that have supported our efforts and helped make our campaign a success with their donations. We have been overwhelmed by your generosity & will be forever grateful. We hope to fund two entire wells by the end of our campaign on January 4th.

I will be displaying some of my pictures from our trip to Ethiopia at the event but for anyone that can not make it, here are five of the top reasons why this campaign has been so important to me. I will never forget their faces, their joy or their need.

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water changes everything

Just a quick update on our charity water well.  So far we have raised $2,635.00 which means clean water for 131 people!  Our family is so grateful for all the friends, family and strangers who have given so generously and we are hopeful that the donations will continue to come in.  We have 46 days left and are a little over half way to funding an entire well.  We will be matching the highest donation of $1,000.00 from an anonymous donor (plus all the coins that the boys have been saving in a jar), which brings us even closer to reaching our goal.  If your heart leads you to help, you can make a donation here.  Just $20.00 = water for one person for 20 years.

And now, the reason for all of this.  Here’s a recent picture of Addie lou enjoying her favorite activity with clean water.img_5926