Wednesday, October 1, 2014

So Glad They Have Each Other {London Child Portrait Photographer}

Through no fault of their own, their little lives have been completely changed. They left behind their home and their school and family and their friends from birth. They were forced to say goodbye to loved possessions and familiarity and had to start over. They have good days and bad days. There have been moments that weren't so pretty, when they bickered and snapped at one another, but I am so glad they have each other. That they get to share this experience (that they will no doubt talk about in the years ahead, hopefully not in therapy) that they are the best of friends.We may no longer be in California, but Finsbury Park isn't so bad when you have the people who know and love you the best to play with. There are good times still to be had. To see them exploring together and having fun, warms this Mama's heart and gives me hope for our future here!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In London

One month ago my life looked so very different! I was living in sunny California, in denial that my life was about to completely change. I mean absolutely and completely. I could not even begin to fathom all that would entail. 

On Friday August 22nd, we received my husband’s visa to enter the United Kingdom…I got online that morning and searched and prayed and bought us tickets to fly the following Monday, just three days later. We had known it was coming, but suddenly we had merely days to accomplish ending our life in America. To empty our apartment of everything; furniture, toys, clothes…memories. I was numb. It just had to be done. There was no time to think, or reminisce, or mourn.

On the Saturday, amazing friends pulled together a going away party for all our well-wishers to come and say goodbyes and we stayed up way too late, realizing these were moments never to be repeated. As we sat around at the end of the evening I fought back tears as I imagined all the future events to be hosted at that house, we would not get to be part of. We belonged there.

On Sunday, as so many gathered around us at church, to pray for us and send us off, the tears started. The tears I had been holding back could be held back no more. The truth was that I did not want to leave this place and these people I had grown to love. I could not imagine another life. The truth is goodbyes hurt, especially when you know the next hello is so far away and in reality, a complete unknown. There were more goodbyes later that evening, the gut wrenching type, full of emotion and no words possible to convey what needed to be said. Just tears…too many tears.

The next morning we had to leave. As a nephew sat sobbing on the steps my heart broke even further. It was more than our lives being forever changed.

I felt abruptly and sharply uprooted, naked and vulnerable with my roots hanging…and I didn’t like it, not one little bit. Over the days that followed there were many more tears, not the pretty ones that roll quietly down your cheek, but the ones that stream as you gulp and force yourself to breathe through the pain and your eyes become big and red and swollen. Because you have friends that can’t be replaced, because they belong with experiences that won’t be relived. Because they understand you, and that has taken years and doesn’t just happen overnight. Because trust like that takes time. There is grief.

And as I write, those tears, they come back again.

Yet, the uprooting has led to a transplanting. I am no gardener, but I know that you can start a plant or seed in certain, protected conditions until it is sufficiently established and able to withstand the environment in which it needs to ultimately be. Similarly, plants outgrow their containers and need to be transplanted to remain healthy. If their roots remain bound up they become unhealthy and slow growing. This was our time and even as I look at both of the reasons for transplanting, I can see that my husband was ready for his new 'container' as I had been protected and nurtured long enough to be able to survive such a move. We have a master gardener at work!

So I am comforted through the changes. It hasn’t been easy, but neither has it been as hard as it could have been. Where I once would have tried to deny emotion, I allow myself to go through the process, knowing it is part of the journey and aids in the healing and the moving forward. We have been welcomed and we feel loved by people who were strangers and we have a common bond. I cannot imagine having decided to make such a huge change for our family on a whim, without leading and direction and provision that I know can only come from God. I do not know how anyone could live this life not knowing Him and how utterly meaningless it would all be. So I am grateful. In the midst of the hard things there is hope and wonder for what is to come.

The sun rises each morning, just as it does where we were before. We share it with the people we shared so much with over the last sixteen years. My children still laugh as their daddy tickles them and pout when they don’t get their way. They walk through the changes with us and though they process in their own way, they trust us, as their parents, to do what is right and they feel safe and they feel loved. 

So we do the same…

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

My littles are blessed beyond the feeble words which so inadequately try to express all they have. A Daddy who is fully present for them, who laughs and listens, who has always been there and always will, unconditionally loving and supporting them and cheering them on. A daddy who is not afraid to show his emotions, who is setting an example of how to live and love, fully and unabashedly. For me to know that we are a team in this parenting journey, that we are partners in this life we are so fortunate to be living together is truly an honor and a gift. I could not have asked for more of the father of my children. Happy Father's Day James Cannan and thank you for who you are and all that you do, you are truly amazing!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 14

Do you ever wonder at the life you are living? I am one of those people who likes to live free from danger, who would probably be perfectly happy to stay safe in harbor, never venturing out into the great unknown and the potential enormity of the ocean. Yes I am more of a row boat than a ship, I suppose.

Really, it is how I have always been, although in my younger years and before we had children, I know I was more prepared to take risks and willing to have a little adventure. My husband, on the other hand loves adventures. So what was I really made for? I know that I am meant to be with him, there are no doubts there, and not just to tie him down and anchor him in the harbor forever.

Sometimes there is a clear path ahead of us and sometimes choices need to be made. Our current 'adventure' is swiftly coming to an end but the horizon ahead of us still seems foggy. I am trusting that we will, at least, be able to see the step immediately in front of us, even if what lies further ahead is shrouded in mystery for a while. It may not be entirely comfortable, we may not have all of the answers but we keep moving forward.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 13

As I look back on our last few years, there are many things I could focus on. We made the choice after our first child, our son was born, for me to stop my job outside the home and be with our children. To be honest, I didn't really feel like it was a choice to be made, I couldn't handle the thought of leaving them. I know people do; some feel they have no other option, some absolutely love their jobs and have worked hard to get where they are and I do not judge them, but I wanted, more than anything to be there for my kids.

I had some pretty great jobs, that I really enjoyed with people that I looked forward to seeing every day, but this...this job of being a mother has and is, by far the most important. We could financially be in a much stronger position if I had kept working, but we have three amazing, beautiful children, who deserved to be loved and taught by us. Who needed to know they were important and they were worth spending time with and being with.

There is school now and there are friends and they are starting to experience life, but I hope that basic values we have instilled, foundations we helped to build will remain strong. We will continue to sow into them as much as we can and encourage and inspire, but it is no longer just us influencing them.

I do not regret for one moment the sacrifices we have made. I would go back and do it all over again. This is the most important job in the whole world.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 12

Sure the photographs of a happy smiling family are often the ones that end up on the walls, but these...these moments are the ones that I will look back on with a full heart. These candid moments, snippets of real life, not posed, will bring the memories flooding back.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 11

It was a glorious weekend, really quite hot for March. The girls had changed into swimsuits and headed outside to drench each other, then returned for towels and snacks. When I glanced out of the window, this was the sight I saw; two best friends sharing snacks and secrets. Does it get any better than that?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reynolds Family Sneak Peek - One Year

Another year has flown by, I swear that's what happens once children enter your life. Try as you might to slow down time, it just seems to keep speeding up. We took maternity photos and the sweet newborn photos, but now Miss. Ruth is almost one year old. We headed over to Crissy Field to celebrate and capture this milestone.

We even finished the session off with a cute cake her Mama made. Her first cake ever, she certainly didn't waste any time and seemed to know exactly what to do with it. What a trooper, she deserved it. Happy Birthday sweet Ruth!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 9

I had a meeting in the city (San Francisco) on Tuesday morning and as my husband did not have any work scheduled, he came in with me so that we could spend time together afterwards. There is so much of this city that I have not yet seen and it turned out it was a day with many attractions offering free entrance.

I had grabbed my camera, as we headed out of the door and for some reason I had decided to also bring my macro lens. It's not one I bring as a matter of course, it's for detail shots and is fun, but not always useful. When I saw that the Conservatory of Flowers was on the list of freebies, I knew immediately that was where I wanted to go. It was fun to wander through, just the two of us and admire plants we don't see in every day life (and without little ones tugging on our clothes to let us know they were bored and ask when we could leave)!

Next time he gets to choose where we head to.

Friday, February 28, 2014


Ah my sweet girl, she turned eight today! This is a child who gets on and gets things done. When she sets her mind to something it is hard to make her change it. She is strong, yet incredibly delicate, still figuring out what life is all about. She loves hard. She does everything at the 100% level, no middle ground or halfheartedness for this one.

She is a sweet, yet sometimes tormenting sister. She is helpful and smart and beautiful. She works hard and plays hard and loves to laugh and have fun.

Sometimes I look at her and can see my mother as a child, she is my only child to give me that gift. My first daughter, we are learning much together and although the road has sometimes been a little rocky we will travel on.

I love her deeply and want only the best for her; to protect her for as long as possible, to encourage and challenge her, as she does me. We have fun years ahead.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 8

The best beaches have sand and rocks. A kid can play and dig and clamber and climb and run from the waves, or just sit and think, for a few moments. Oh what I would give to know the thoughts that run through his mind. He is a thinker.

Can't beat California, sun and the beach in February. It may be colder again today, but these random gorgeous days are such a gift.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 7

Ah my sweet girls. I love to watch their relationship; they love each other to death and are best friends, but of course they know each others 'buttons' like nobody else.

I have recently been learning to crochet and made them each a cute hat last week, which they actually like and are wearing(!), they were so cute together that I had to take a photograph. Any excuse right?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 6

And then the rain came and it wasn't just a soft rain, it poured! The kind of weather that most definitely made me want to be indoors, wrapped up warm (wishing I had a fireplace). When you're a kid though, what could be more fun than to splash in puddles?

Monday, February 10, 2014


Ten years ago we welcomed the most amazing baby boy into our life. A is that even possible? I could not know how much I would love this little guy and how much he would change me. I had no idea what to really expect, how to be a mother...but we learned together. Such a sweet, sweet time.

He is truly beautiful, inside and out. He has a sensitivity, that I know at times must seem like both a blessing and a curse, but I know he will grow into that and will always bless others.

Like me, he sees things very literally and can be an over analyzer and like his daddy he is free with his emotions and wears his heart on his sleeve. He is creative, an amazing artist with a crazy imagination. Although they bug him at times and he craves alone time, he adores his little sisters and I know he would do anything for them.

He is on that cusp now, he is still very much a little boy, but growing all the time; intellectually, emotionally and physically. The small child is standing in the doorway, one foot in childhood still, but peering across into adulthood, he's not quite ready to cross that threshold but it is just a matter of time. It makes me catch my breath...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 5

They grow up so quickly, but watching them sleep takes me back in time. I can see them, once again, as they looked as babies. It is an amazing thing.

This one is, of course, way past needing naps, but after a couple of very late nights last weekend, when forced to be quiet and still she actually fell asleep. I know she needed it. I watched her as she snoozed, so pretty and peaceful and I marveled at the girl she was and is becoming.

Such hopes and dreams we have for our children, that they will be children for as long as possible, that they will grow into confident and strong adults.  The years we fully have with them are so short and precious. I hope we grow to be great friends, moving beyond the parent daughter roles we have today. I hope she will always know she is loved and beautiful. I hope she will speak her mind, even when she disagrees with others and not be afraid to be different. I hope she will take risks and laugh at her mistakes and try again.

I know that she truly has the ability to move mountains, not only in her life but in the lives of others and I hope that she will believe that for herself and be an encouragement to others.

I love this sweet (and spicy) girl!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 4

Meet my nephew and niece. Great kids. The thing I love about family is that there is no pretense, you see the good and the bad and you love through it all. I have watched these children grow up, the cuddles, the tantrums (fortunately not directed at me), highs and lows and I love that I get to see them developing into the people they will become.

If you have children, or grew up not as an only child, you know that they can be the best of friends and the worst of enemies. They love each other, yet they can bicker and quarrel and torment each other. At the end of the day though, they will have each others backs. The shared history, the mutual grievances with parents, the secrets they share, or keep from each other. There is nothing like the bond you have with your siblings.

It's true, over and over again in relationships, from marriages, to parent and child and of course with siblings, no matter how mad each may be with the other, if they can laugh together, all can be right in their world.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Riley Family Sneak Peek {Marin County Family Photographer}

This family holds a special place in my heart. This is our pastor who has the ability to make everyone feel loved and special and taken care of! When I moved to America, their oldest son Jared was away at school, whilst Jon and Becky were teenagers in the high school youth group. Now look at them, all grown up.

Jared is now married and living in Utah, Rebecca is a vet in North Carolina and Jon recently also came on as full-time staff at Open Door Church, in San Rafael, here in California. It's not often that they are all around at the same time, so we had to do a few photos just after Christmas.

They have been married for thirty years and still look at each other like this and can just laugh together, love it!

The 'children' all grown up.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 3

Last week I accompanied my daughter's kindergarten class on a field trip to the Lawrence Hall of Science, in Berkeley. It was so great. Their group had a 'Fizz, Pop, Wow!' science class where they learned about mixing different ingredients and watching reactions, observing the properties of solids, liquids and gases. Then they got to explore the main halls, full of exhibits and hands-on displays. It really was a place that showed how fun learning can be. The groans when it was time to leave, were heartfelt and everybody agreed that the time had been too short.

It is so wonderful to see children's eyes light up as they learn and get excited at discoveries they make for themselves. The joy of understanding something new and feeling empowered. If you live in the Bay Area and haven't already visited, I would thoroughly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sneak Peek - Westbrook Family {Marin County Family Photographer}

This great family contacted me asking for some family photos to use for a ministerial resume. Not quite as formal as regular head shots, but not as informal as one of my normal family sessions. Of course we made sure to get some cute one-on-one shots with the kids and their parents too.

This is one attractive family, with stunning eyes and gorgeous smiles. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

52 Weeks of 2014 - Week 2

We need rain, I know it, yet one of the things I love most about living where we live, is the sunshine. Even if it is cold, our days are normally bright and I have come to realize how much my mood, my outlook is impacted when the sun disappears. When the sun is in hiding, everything seems just a little harder for me.

We had one day of rain this past weekend and I was struck, at one point, about my need to keep perspective, to keep control of my thoughts, to not go down a negative path, you know, one of those that can so quickly spiral downwards.

It was a busy morning, my husband had to go to the city for a music practice, I had to run my son to karate and drag my reluctant girls with me. We had to fit in a few frantic errands, then do a pick up from karate, with two extra cousins and a trunk full, which meant re-arranging the whole car to be able to make seats work...all in the rain. One daughter had to be back in our town for a birthday party while the other two did not want the cousin fun to end and it was all going to be a far too short turnaround. Well the play time got to be extended and as I drove my daughter to her party I connected with my husband, who it turned out was leaving too. I asked him if he'd eaten, as I was starving and he hadn't, I told him I hadn't either. I figured we'd be able to get something together. I dropped my daughter to her party and checked in again to see about our little date we would be able to sneak in before collecting our other kids, only to find out he'd already grabbed something to eat.

I started to feel rejected and sad, then upset. It was quickly escalating and yet, somehow, I was able to force myself to step outside of my situation to acknowledge that my husband loves me and is a good, kind man. He may have been a little thoughtless but he had not intentionally avoided spending time with me. We had poorly communicated. Believe me, there was a battle going on in my mind, that I was completely aware of. It was like one of those cartoons with a demon on one shoulder and an angel on the other, both trying to shout in my ear, each trying to drown out the other...and the rain, the grey day, the rain drops distorting my view. Wow it was hard. I can't say that the clouds broke and I saw the light and all was wonderful again, the rain continued and my mood did not significantly improve, but I chose to not water that seed of negativity any further. I chose to deprive it of oxygen and not feed it and let it grow. I believe it was God who gave me the ability to see a little clearer in those moments and who helped me when I cried out, through gritted teeth, for the strength I needed go in the right direction.

Later when the rain stopped, I could see all the droplets clinging to blades of grass and I was inspired to snap and thoughts started to jumble and formulate in my mind. A drop of water can itself act as a lens, like a very simple camera lens in fact, BUT the refracted image is upside down. It's a true image, but distorted, turned completely on it's head. That's how my mind had been working earlier, the facts were true, but they had potentially been distorted, maybe by all those water droplets? Maybe by outside forces trying to cause division in my family, in my marriage?

We have choices to make every day and we have the freedom to make good or bad decisions. We can stop and wallow in self pity, or anger, or rage or we can acknowledge them for what they are and keep moving forward. It's not always an easy choice, sometimes it can be tempting to stay in that place, but I promise you nothing good can come of feeding distorted thoughts. Do all you can to get the right perspective, call on friends you can trust to speak truth to you, pray, fight with all your might to get out of that place. Force yourself to look for the positives and the things you have to be grateful for and soon enough the rain will hopefully clear and the images will once again be the right side up.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sneak Peek - Baby Bjerke {Marin County Newborn Photographer}

Ah wonderful newborns! There's nothing like capturing those early days...blink and they are gone and without photographs, with the lack of sleep and reduced brainpower it can be hard to remember all those precious details.

These are days you will never get back, which you will look back on with fondness, even if in the moment it can seem so hard and at times overwhelming.

I think that they are all smitten!

Just look at her little personality already shining through and she is most definitely her mother's mini-me as well as looking so much like her brother (click here to see his newborn photos).

So much love to you sweet Bjerkes. Congratulations on your beautiful growing family.

If you are interested in newborn photography, do not hesitate to contact me at or through the contact page on my website