We photographed the B family at their home in Ridgefield, WA on a gorgeous spring day. They live about as far from town as one can get– their house literally borders the National Forest– and so we had a lot of beautiful land to work with. As luck would have it, living out in the boonies also sometimes means that you have access to some fun equipment, and in this case it meant a very, very cool old firetruck. It was right at the end of the shoot and we’d already done the “we’re a very happy family” pictures in the middle of their field and so we told them to just act a little bit serious. What resulted is one of my favorite family portraits that we’ve ever taken. I love every single member of this family and how they are articulated, especially Wendy (the mom) who is oblivious to all of the shenanigans behind her.
We’ve been doing some portrait work here and there (most of which hasn’t made it to the blog but hopefully that will be rectified in time) but we’ve also been busy doing some life living. One of the big parts of that this year for me was growing a baby. In July, we welcomed our third little girl, Moira Catherine (often called Mae). Moira is Scottish for Mary, a name that is shared by many women in my Scotch-Canadian family, including my grandmother. And, to answer the exclamation I’m sure you’re ready to give: yes, three girls! That’s what I say with a wide smile and a little bit of humor when I tell people and they look at me with either incredulity or a knowing smile, depending on which end of life they’re on. It’s probably going to be a wild ride around here for the next several years, but I’d said all along that I wanted a bit more hubbub because here’s the thing: whenever you see those movies where all of the kids come home, there are never just two kids. It’s always three, sometimes four. We’re pretty happy with three so the likelihood of any more of our own baby announcements are very small. We’re happy for now to just revel in our sweet new little native Portlander.
When I lay in bed and think about what I’d love to have to feel like a fantastic mom is… so many things. But the thing is, they aren’t things, those things that I want. I can think of lots of gifts that my husband could get for me, certainly, but he knows what they are. (I’m notoriously picky and so I actually have a long list, prompted by old requests from his mom, that I add something to whenever I think of something that I’d adore. Things like a kitchen scale, or the Louisa May Alcott book that I loved as a little girl and misplaced somewhere along the way, or a Le Creuset baker.)
But what I really want, deep down, is to know that I’m doing it all right. That validation is the holy grail. In the lonely wee moments, when I’m examining my life, I want to know that I’m giving my girls what they need to be happy, satisfied little souls. And I want to know that they love me, that they feel how deeply I ached for them and now adore them that they’re here. How much I treasure their little individual quirks, the things that make them them, even if there are times that those little things make me want to hide for a moment. And I want them to love each other, too. My sister and I have the usual relationship of two females growing in close proximity but she is still the first person that I call when something wonderful or crazy is happening. And what do I look at, when I want to be reminded of all of that? I go to my favorite photographs. There is one of my two girls that we had taken when Paige was just learning to walk, and Sophie is holding onto her little hands and looking so thrilled. She asked me to put it in her room so that when “I wake up I can see my baby sister.” I look at it, too, and think, “I must be doing something right.” There’s one of Sophie and I, too, and that one reminds me of a better side of us when it’s really needed.
As a photographer I love knowing that I can gift my clients with a tangible reminder of their own inner lives, too. I get to take a peek inside of the emotions of life, the real stuff, when children aren’t watching their smiles and moms forget to look perfect, and the life just happens. I photographed one of my favorite clients recently, to celebrate the birth of their new little baby Kate. You’ll see her pictures soon. But first, you get to see the inside moments from that session of her girls. The first picture is one that Lindsay is ordering for her mom, who was able to be there for the session. The other two are a surprise that she doesn’t know that she’s getting for her own Mother’s Day present (I hope she’s not reading this!) And the last one I had to include because it is so perfectly these two little loves. Yes, they are the two crazies that I love running after. But in the quiet moments they are so sweet, and they really do love each other. I loved being able to capture that, too. When Lindsay first saw these photos she said, “When I just want to scream I can walk away and look at these and think, ‘Yes, those are my two sweet girls.'” Isn’t that what we all need, after all?
Mark and Christie have big, huge, amazing hearts and for years, they were missing children to share them with. Then they decided to adopt a baby– first Addie, then Penny– and their love came full circle. Christie said that they were especially excited to have children given to them who look so vastly different than they do “so that it would teach people that love can come from all kinds of places.” And I know that they’re the kind of people who would shake their heads and say, “Oh, no, there’s nothing particularly special about us.” But they are such sweet people and I had a tremendously fun time playing with them and their girls. Addie is a big bundle of crazy four-year old who didn’t hesitate for one second when I told her to run to the tree and back. But she also cuddled her sister, her sweet little Penny, with an amazing amount of sweetness that literally brought tears to my eyes.
Watching this family who was a product of love and sacrifice made me so grateful for all of the families who are created through adoption. We have friends who have adopted and for a while, before Sophie came, we thought that we might also. I wondered how I would feel– I longed for a baby and wondered if it could really be the same as I’d been told, that your heart opens in the very same way as it would if you gave birth to them. Needless to say, with our little clones, we haven’t been on that side of parenthood. But a few years ago, I got a call from one of my dearest friends. She and her husband had been waiting for a baby for… I think three years at that point. They had been chosen by a birth mom at long last and that day, her son had been born. And through a voice that I knew came from the deepest part of her heart, she said, “He’s mine, Emma. I have a son!” I knew, then, the beauty of adoption. It is a testament that love knows no bounds.
We are uber lucky and live just on the edge of the park that adjoins Sophie’s school. There are too many days during the winter that we drive because Paige has a hard time being out in the yuck. But the weather was so nice that Paige and I walked up to school to get her. Then, much to my delight, they walked hand in hand the entire way home.