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hope.

On this orphan Sunday, please take a moment to watch this:

Creation Groans from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting & photographing many families from upstate NY with children adopted from Ethiopia and other countries too.  It was a wonderful site to see so many that chose to make a difference in the life of an orphan and in return, had their lives blessed and changed forever. 100% of the sales from these pictures will be donated toward our well.  We have raised $1,125.00 which means we have given the gift of water to 61 people.  I am thankful for everyone that has supported us with their donations and hopeful that we will reach our goal of funding an entire well project.  Please consider giving the gift of water and any other way you might change the life of an orphan and other vulnerable children around the world.

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wish.

In celebration of National Adoption Month I will be sharing images from sessions with families blessed by the miracle of adoption.  This is Aiden and his parents, Lisa & Dan, who are absolutely smitten.  Can you blame them?  I wonder what Aiden wishes for now that he is home & loved…

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one less

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Addie and I recently had the chance to take a trip to Seattle for a reunion with the moms and babies from our travel group to Ethiopia. It was an amazing weekend, sharing our hearts, faith and love for each other and for all our sweet babies. Each child is so unique and was placed by God with the perfect family to let their personality shine. Bereket (pink leopard leggings) has such a wise soul, aware of everything going on around her in a way that doesn’t seem possible for an 11 month old. She actually sings the alphabet already and has the sweetest dimple when she flashes a smile. Teagan (green leggings) is a man always on the move and is such a little flirt! He gave Addie with the sweetest, most gentle first kiss in the middle of the chaos of trying to photograph all of the babies together. I was so lucky to capture it. Abraham (blue leggings) is the second youngest and is such a mellow little guy with an understated charm. When he graces you with one of his shy smiles, you can’t help but to melt. Maleah’s (pink stripes) petite little body can hardly contain her spunky attitude. She already knows how to turn it on for the camera and loves being the center of attention. Then there is Moses (polka-dots). He is such a happy, laid back little guy with a whole lot of drool and even more love to share with everyone around him. If I had to guess what qualities about Addie made the biggest impression on everyone, I would say it was her sweet disposition and physique. She is the youngest of all the babies and was drastically smaller when we were in Ethiopia from being so sick with salmonella. She now outweighs all the other babies by several pounds! Each child was given a flower for this photo - if you’re looking for Addie’s, it’s in her tummy…

Here is a slideshow of our time our time together.

I know that adoption is not an option for all families but I am hoping that everyone who reads this will consider helping a child by giving them the gift of clean water. 90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week in the world from unsafe water are children under five years old.

They are children like Bereket, Teagan, Abraham, Maleah, Moses and Addie.

Addie was certainly almost one of them. In her honor, I am sponsoring a well through charity:water. My goal is to raise $5,000.00 in three months to fully fund a well that will provide 250 people with clean, safe drinking water. A donation of only $20.00 will give one person clean water for 20 years. That’s an amount that most of us spend on Starbucks in one week or on a couple of drinks at happy hour. Just think how much farther your money can go and how you could be responsible for one less child dying from dirty water.  Just click on the well link above if you would like to learn more about this project and make a donation & a difference.  Thanks for your support!

And for all the adoptive parents out there that are wondering where we found these awesome shirts, here is the link.  They say “made in Ethiopia” and are being sold on etsy to fund a family’s second adoption.

Teach me to number my days…

Summer days. Nothing makes me happier than bare feet in the grass, being warmed by the sun, little tongues stained from popsicles and watching the golden light filter through the trees in our backyard just before sunset. The days pass way too fast and this summer was no exception. Beginning with a surprise trip to Ethiopia with 9 days notice to bring home our baby girl months before we ever dreamed possible, our summer was crazy busy and full of adventures. We took a road trip to NC for our annual hang-in-the-pool-and-drink dacquiris-all-day visit with my dear childhood friends, hiked at Stonybrook, camped in our backyard, and spent a week visiting my parents. We watched movies in the backyard with a projector and a white sheet, used the hot tub as a mini pool for the boys and shared lots of smores with friends old and new. The boys braved the heat & humidity at t-ball & soccer games and danced and worshipped at vacation bible school. The final adventure was a trip to CA for my little brother’s wedding where we celebrated with an amazing group of friends & family (pictures coming soon!) and had so many other really cool experiences. Like the boys seeing the ocean for the first time and sticking their little toes in the freezing water. Or Braden having the best day of his life when he learned to square dance in the barn at the wedding reception. Or wandering the streets of Santa Cruz where I looked over and noticed Riley sitting with his eyes closed and hand pressed to his cheek, listening to a street musician in a rare and perfect moment of contentment.

Somewhere in between chasing fireflies, catching minnows, and discovering the ocean for the first time, the boys fell in love with their little sister. Riley told me the other day that he loves her the most. If I had been replaced by anyone else it may have broken my heart but instead I melted. Witnessing Addie’s transformation over the last 4 months has been magical. She barely resembles the baby that we brought home. She has more than doubled her weight (22 lbs.!!!!) since we brought her home, is sitting up, rolling around and is just as sweet as ever. Watching her body grow and her spirit come alive has truly been a gift and our days have been so much sweeter with her in them.

Below is a slideshow I did for our family to remember this summer and for anyone who doesn’t want to sit through it but wants to see updated pictures of Addie, here are a few. These are from August so she is even bigger now if you can believe it!
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jay & suzie

Jay & Suzie found each other when they were both enrolled in the UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Apprenticeship.  They lived 14 tents apart and every day they planted, weeded and harvested side by side.  Suzie couldn’t figure out who was leaving her flowers everyday…

in her boots,

by her spade,

in between the spokes of the wheels on her bike.

Then one day while they were picking peaches for market, Jay whacked Suzie in the head with a ladder.  That’s when it hit her.  Jay was the one.  She could not have been happier.

Jay & Suzie continue to live the simple life & have kept their garden love growing.  When they are not farming, they usually can be found on some adventure, backpacking, camping, hiking, running, biking or simply spending time with good food & good friends.   I had the chance this summer to spend a weekend with them on the organic farm in Half Moon Bay where Suzie lives and works.  This amazing site is also where they will marry this August.  It was so special to me to witness and capture their connection to each other and to see how happy Suzie truly makes my little brother.  I am excited for the wedding celebration and wish these two a lifetime full of laughter, love & happiness as they continue their adventure together.
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life is good…

I can’t believe it’s been a little over a month since we have been home.  Addie is such a joy!  She is such a sweet, happy & easy baby and we feel so blessed that she is ours.  It has been so amazing to watch her come alive over the past month.  She soaks up every little bit of attention, giggles at her silly brothers’ antics and greets everyone with a smile when we are out and about.  She loves splashing around in the bathtub and is just about ready to roll over.  Despite the fact that she is currently battling salmonella in her system (which is most likely what she was so sick from at the first orphanage) and a staph infection, she has put on almost a pound a week since we have had her!  She is quite the little chunk now and it makes my heart so happy to see.  Just look at what love can do, first from the nannies at the orphanage and then from us…

Addie at around 3 months old in the orphanage:

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On the day we met her at 4 months old:

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2 weeks at home:

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And finally, Addie at 5 months old after being home for one month:

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Is she cute or what?  Since everyone seemed to like her slideshow (it has been viewed over 1,100 times!), I thought you might also enjoy seeing the rest of our travel group. We were so blessed to walk though this experience with the most amazing group of families that will always have a special place in our heart. We celebrated, laughed & cried together, smooshed together in hot vans through crazy Ethiopian traffic, suffered through a sleepless night in a mosquito infested-no locks on the doors-flooded bathroom floor- hotel together, prayed together and completely bonded together. When we ran into a major problem at our embassy appointment that resulted in me rushing around Ethiopia trying to track down necessary paperwork to bring Addie home, I returned to find that our entire group had stayed with Will & Addie at the embassy, waiting for us and comforting him during a very stressful time. Their support at this moment and throughout the trip meant so much to me and I will always treasure the memories of our time in Ethiopia. It is a very special experience to be able to witness other families falling in love with their children and I hope you will feel a little of what this was like with this slideshow.

pictures of Addie

bringing Addie home…

We are home! Our journey to Addison was an experience of a lifetime. Ethiopia was beautiful and yet so heartbreaking at the same time. We were blessed with an amazing travel group and sweet babies that made the experience as easy as possible. Meeting Addie after dreaming of the moment for so long was surreal. Her nannies called her their “little miracle” because she had come so far since she came to them from the original orphanage she was placed in. While we were at home celebrating her referral, we did not know that she was struggling to survive. At two months old, she had dropped to 5 lbs. due to a gastrointestinal illness, was “emaciated” and “malnourished” and was hospitalized for four days with pneumonia. The Holt staff did a wonderful job caring for her and getting her healthy again. She is an incredibly sweet baby and she has already charmed her way into big brothers’ hearts.

I can’t wait to share more from our trip when I am not so jet-lagged but I know that what everyone really wants to see is pictures of Addie anyways. Thanks for lifting us up with your prayers and support throughout our journey!

Time to fly

I haven’t had much time to blog because I have been too busy packing!  We were thrilled to pass court on our first date for our adoption and completely surprised by a super fast embassy appointment, which means we are off to Ethiopia!  We leave today on the adventure of a lifetime and return home in 2 weeks to introduce Addie Lou to her big brothers.  She will be just 4 months old.  I can not wait to hold her, smell her and really know her after all this time that she has grown in our hearts.

I will be limiting my sessions for the month of June in order to enjoy this special time in our family.  If you are hoping for a session, just send me an email and I will get back to you when I begin scheduling again.

In the meantime, here is another family blessed by adoption.  Dan, Beth, David & Matthew were my first session this spring and they got my season off to a great start!  I loved capturing the special relationship the boys have with each other.

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Shawn-Class of 2010/ Rochester NY senior photographer

This is such an exciting time for the class of 2010 as they make final decisions regarding college placements.  Now the hard part is done and it’s time to just enjoy their last days together, which will fly by much faster than they could ever imagine.  Normally, I only use first names on my blog but this senior is a bit of a star around here.  He is not only ready to launch into life, he is also launching his first original CD!  Shawn Welch will be performing at the Cottage Hotel in Mendon this Saturday from 2:00-5:00.  I had the chance to listen to Shawn play during our session and was really impressed with what I heard.  If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, stop in and support this local talent.  Congratulations Shawn!

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falling in love with a picture

That’s what we have been doing ever since we received our referral two weeks ago for a precious, two month old baby girl.  I have been in a daze since we got the news, dreaming of the day when I will be able to hold her in my arms and truly know her.  We were very fortunate to receive our referral prior to a new change in Ethiopian adoption laws which will require parents to make two trips in order to complete the adoption.  Our next step is to wait for a court date (and possibly a second or third court date) and then once we pass court, we will plan our trip based on our assigned embassy date.  We hope to bring her home sometime over the next four to five months!  Although she is always on my mind, we have some amazing adventures planned for this summer and I’m going to try to be fully present and enjoy every minute with the boys before our home gets even crazier.  

We are not allowed to post the referral pictures until she is officially ours but you know I will make up for it when she is home!  Thank you to all our family, friends and my amazing clients for all of your interest and support and for keeping our family in your prayers.

And since any post without pictures is boring, here’s a link to a beautiful song by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I was able to hear him perform it live last year at Women of Faith and it is a moment that I will never forget.  Will & I were only exploring the idea of adopting a child but I knew in that moment that it was right for our family and that we would be blessed by the miracle of adoption.