It was a relaxing and relatively quiet weekend spent at home. No out of town guests, no friends over, just the five of us; a mom, a dad, and three savages... I have some cute pictures from the weekend, the kids helping with the cooking, none of which they ate, and I mean nothing! But for now, a very Happy, very simple, Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

No, I didn't leave him alone with a marker. No, he isn't showing school spirit for Michigan. Yes, he is breathing just fine. If you've never heard of Gentian Violet, it's an herbal supplement used to treat some conditions associated with brestfeeding. He is being treated; it stains EVERYTHING. You can readily see which fingers he favors. This was just too funny not to post. And during the week we had our family portraits scheduled! Fortunately it went away in time.

Here is one more from my shoot on Saturday. I was sitting here editing while all three boys napped (insert applause for napping miracles HERE) and when I came across this image I just sat and starred. Just because you are a photographer does not necessarily mean that you are as good in front of the camera as behind. Most often I have found that photographers are rather uncomfortable in front of the lens. I just hope when its my turn in a couple of weeks I can appear as relaxed as Sarah and her husband. I just keep thinking how neat it is to capture a mom, in her element, like no other has captured her before. I'm floating today...

It's autumn in Arizona, one of the absolute most beautiful times of the year to photograph in Arizona. Which is why everyone wants family portraits taken in November, everyone including the photographers themselves. Allow me to introduce you to Sarah Neyhart, an incredibly creative portrait photographer/gorgeous mother of one/doting spouse. I've had the pleasure of chatting with Sarah only a handful of times; but that is all that is necessary to know that you want Sarah to be your dear friend for life! Her enthusiasm for her craft is infectious, her easy going nature is perfectly charming. After connecting on Facebook I had the chance to peek into her private family albums, thoroughly enjoying her captures of handsome hubby Bryan and their darling daughter. But I also noticed a distinct characteristic that permeates my own family albums- many pictures of the husband and kids, very few pictures of Mom! I made such a remark and not shortly after the idea was born to photograph each other.

I have long debated the concept of hiring someone to do the work that I personally take so seriously. It is extremely difficult to hand over the job, especially if you are a Type A "I'll do it better myself" kind of woman, which my husband would most definitely categorize me. But the more I thought about it, seeing my family through someone else's lens would be priceless. Seeing pictures of myself with my children would be a treasure to behold. What I didn't expect as I prepared to hold up my side of the trade, was how nervous I would feel. Knowing that Sarah had never before been photographed by another professional certainly raised the bar for me. Knowing that she had ideas and a creative vision brewing in her head sent my own mind spinning - what if I don't even come close to what she had in mind?! I'll summarize by saying that the evening was filled with laughter, the most stunning light one could hope to have on a perfectly sunny autumn day, and Sarah made posing with her lovely family in front of my lens look as effortless and relaxed as when she is working behind the camera herself. Here is your sneak peek: thank you so very much for trusting me to make these memories for you and yours! See you in two weeks!

With the birth of my third child in March, boy number three, all under age four, my mantra shifted from "everything must be perfect, or else" to "Does that thing make life easier? I'll take three!" We went to the Grand Canyon, by train, so we wouldn't have to drive. We went camping this fall, in a cabin, so when it rained, and it did, we wouldn't all be miserable in a tent together. For Halloween, my husband came home with a big old grin on his face and three store bought Star Wars themed costumes. I knew my friends and family would never approve, but I leaped up and gave him a huge kiss for his efforts in making our lives easier. I'm all about making my life easier these days. Especially since the next two months are jam packed with parties, decorations, craft projects, and day trips.

Today I'm featuring a company that makes our lives easier in a big way - Shutterfly! Shutterfly lets me share my hundreds of family photos with everyone I know, for FREE! Shutterfly hosts my sister-in-law's private family website, for FREE! Shutterfly keeps all my uploaded pictures and never deletes them, even if I don't order prints from them. So last year when I spent 2 weeks photographing Christmas homes on Fort Huachuca, and uploaded them to share, and then lost all the originals when my hard drive crashed, I was able to order books and a CD wit all of those images on them to keep forever! That part wasn't free, but it was priceless!

Last year's Christmas card (shown below), designed by yours truly, took me way too many man hours to remember. And, it cost me almost $2.30 per card to print. My husband said "send an e-card" when I wondered out loud when I would find the time and energy to accomplish the growing card list for this year. As if! Christmas cards, the tangible, holdable kind, are what I look forward to. I love catching up with old friends and hearing about new babies and graduations, weddings, and big career moves. I simply can't wait to share a handful of my own photos and show off how much my boys have grown and changed since last year. In steps Shutterfly. I just visited their holiday card selection and was floored to find five whole pages of new designs that will accommodate from 1-6 of my favorite pictures. They will even print a photo inside the card AND a lengthy message so I wont have to hand write the same info in each of my 100+ cards!

What caught my eye? This card features the exact color scheme currently laid out on my bed for our upcoming photo shoot. Gasp! Yes, the professional photographer has made arrangements to be photographed by someone other than the self timer! We are having a camping themed shoot in two weeks, and this card would coordinate with our outfits perfectly! AND, I can order matching address labels! Sweet!

You're interested. No?! What if I told you that you could get 50 cards for FREE! Follow this link to learn how!

I've just finished up some images for this beauty's modeling portfolio and had to share this one. She is just so lovely, a beautiful person inside and out, and the patience of a saint. It will be a shame when Vogue finds her, I'll lose my best babysitter...

Two weeks ago I had a very interesting collection of house guests. John Chua, Canon Photographer and owner of Ad Photo in the Philippines, and his lovely wife were in my living room reuniting with my father-in-law after 35 years of working together in Manila. Joe Cantrell, another talented photographer doing groundbreaking fractal artwork out of Portland Oregon, was driving through town on his way from Oklahoma to Portland. Joe was also part of the good ol' days in Manila. He was giving an impromptu macro workshop on my dining table floral centerpiece. The weekend was full of incredible, New York Times Best Seller quality stories of wartime, love, loss, and the future of digital photography and advocacy work. I bustled like a worker bee between the kitchen, the kids, and the camera trying to keep up with everyone.

Keeping up with everyone, and feeling the need to impress and spoil my guests, I arranged for a local pilot to fly John, his wife, and myself over Cochise County at sunset to capture some desert panoramas. It was an awesome idea in theory. I did not account for extreme air sickness. I did not account for succumbing to altitude sickness either. After 2 hours at 10,000ft elevation in a Cessna 182 with the window wide open I was freezing, vomiting severely, blindly sticking my camera out the window, and feeling a distinct urge to sleep. That would be from lack of oxygen. It's taken me over a week to recover, including a side trip to the hospital for fluids and treatment for the AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). It was an experience I will never forget, and an experience I shall never repeat.

I do hope to find time to write more about this amazing weekend with these incredibly down to earth individuals who so lovingly encouraged me to continue my work and take on some new challenges. Until then I leave you with these captures (the changing quality of light amazes me- for being up there only two hours before sunset, the light changed the lay of the land so dramatically)...

I confess. Online I appear uber organized. But in real life I'm still wearing my pajamas at 2:42pm. There is no picture of all three boys in their Halloween costumes, together, because I haven't taken it yet. The Bundle's Ewok costume hasn't been unwrapped yet. It's November 2nd. Halloween came, our tiniest lad didn't sleep a wink all day long due to a cold and teething, so come 5:30pm as we are costume clad and ready to go out the door for some trick-or-treating, he was ready for bed. So to bed he went. He slept through the fun. But since I'm a mother of three, I let him sleep, because he really had no idea what he was missing. I can take the picture today, or tomorrow, or next week, and unless he reads my blog as a teenager, he will never know. But gosh, he was awake and adorable for his first trip to the pumpkin patch.