Dear Moms, Get in the Photo

Sep 30, 2015 in Your Story / Comments

Dear Moms,

You’re one of the most important people in your children’s lives. You may even be THE most important. They run to you with scraped knees, bumped heads, and hurt feelings. But when you flip through your family photo albums years down the road, will you be present? Do you exist in those photos? Will the photos show how important a role you played in your children’s lives? Or will you be absent because you hated that you were carrying a few extra pounds or didn’t like your hair that day?

Well the truth is that you have no excuse these days. Even if we don’t make time for a professional photo session with our family, we have cameras right in our pockets most of the time. And every time we reach for our phones to check an email, text a friend, it only takes two seconds to also snap a photo of ourselves. Do it as a gift to your children and grandchildren so they are able to look back and literally SEE your love for them, years later.

In between those loads of laundry and puzzles, take a deep breathe. Grab your phone, snuggle up with your child, and snap a selfie. Or better yet, set that phone on a table, set up the self-timer, and go play. Give them a tickle. Have them tell you a joke. Read a story. Capture your every day selves loving on each other.


Happen to have a curvy sided phone (like the iPhone 6) that doesn’t sit on it’s own well?

Here’s a quick tip: Use your charger as a tripod by placing your phone between the prongs. Just be careful to have the back of the phone lean against the prongs rather than on the screen, potentially scratching the glass. Scratches on my screen make me sadder than craving Chick-fil-a on a Sunday afternoon.

My Honorary Nieces

Sep 23, 2015 in Klein TX Childrens Photography, Klein TX Family Photography / Comments

It honestly seems like a miscalculation when I state that we’ll have lived in Texas for 4 years come January 2016. But it’s true! We’ve gone nearly 4 years living 1000 miles away from our families, which is undeniably hard, but it also has made for some wonderful visits too. It’s sort of cool to be able to show our family a new city, state when they visit, especially when it gives them a break from the ice and snow of Minnesota.

Just over a year ago, a former work friend moved down to Texas too. Thanks to Facebook and the internet, I had actually become good friends with his wife after only meeting her in person once. Periodic Facebook updates over the years had allowed me to watch their two daughters grow up, with a third on the way. They moved to a home just a few minutes away from us right after baby Callie was born and we’ve basically become family since then as, they too, now live a thousand miles away or more from their families.

Here’s a peek at just a few photos of my three honorary nieces from our recent photo session.

North Houston Family Photographer

Spring/Klein Childrens Photographer

Forest Oaks Houston Texas Family Photographer

Family Photographer in North Houston

Three fun facts:

1. This session took place the weekend of our first fall cold front bringing our temp down to 59 degrees, the coolest temp we’d felt since May 3rd! (Once a weather nerd, always a weather nerd!) I think I spent 99% of the weekend outside soaking it up. I hope you did too. So wonderful!

2. At each of my sessions you’ll find me asking my clients to follow some pretty silly requests in order to get those precious natural smiles. “Now shake your bum!” I say from behind the camera. Giggles follow and that’s the moment that I click the shutter. We dance and snuggle (well YOU snuggle), and I capture the bright and happy moments. I want you to walk away thinking, “Having our photos taken has never been so fun!”

3. I gifted that pink ‘one’ shirt to Callie for her first birthday recently. I made it the same way I made Ephram’s ‘five’ shirt (you can check out the tutorial here) and I’ve got a ‘three’ shirt in the works for Alwyn’s birthday coming up. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but a small part of me would totally rock a ‘thirty’ shirt myself. Who says kids at the only ones who get to celebrate their age?!

The Importance of Sharing Your Stories

Sep 4, 2015 in Personal / Comments

My father passed away this summer.

I shared some thoughts about his death on Instagram, however I’ve struggled to write about it on the blog for some reason.

When I returned home after his funeral, I struggled to jump back into life right away. Instead of figuring out how to get back to normal, I let myself get lost searching my family’s history.

I’m very fortunate that a distant cousin of mine has created an in-depth online family tree of my dad’s side, and included is a report my dad wrote about my great great grandfather and his move to the United States in the 1800s. Many puzzle pieces have been put together on that branch of my family tree, and the stories I read motivated me to move onto my mom’s side and even my husband’s family tree.

As I make more connections on my family tree and put faces to names using scanned copies of vintage photos my grandpa had, I start to learn their stories.

Stories, our Ancestors, matter

A photo of my great great grandfather’s general store and his children – a store that still exists (now as a bar) with my family’s surname still visible on a top brick.

A posed photo of my great grandfather wearing a tie – a man with a college degree in the early 1900s.

An incredibly sweet love letter my great grandfather wrote to a woman who would become his wife and, one day, my great grandmother.

With every story I discover, I feel closer to my ancestors. Family members I will never meet or know, who will never be able to personally share their stories, but are a part of my family’s history.

My dad, myself, and my grandpa at Thanksgiving 2014

Tomorrow my grandpa, turns 103.

He has already outlived my dad by 34 years. He’s lost two wives, and now a son. But he has so many stories. And I’m so incredibly thankful that he’s still able to share them, along with several other grandparents.

Driving to the cemetery at my dad’s funeral, my grandpa recalled meeting my grandmother.


He spoke about friends setting them up to meet and first gathering at someone’s apartment, where they ate dinner. Later that evening, they spent some time together until she finally asked, with some irritation: “Well, aren’t we going to eat?” Of course, he had to take her to somewhere to eat then…but he said, “that settled it…he really liked her speaking up like that.”

Stories like these are so important to who they are, and to who I am, and it makes me a bit sad to think I may have never heard this story. Known how they met and how her strong personality stood out to him that evening.

And then it makes my heart heavy to think that there are stories we will never hear.

Family stories are important!

Though he told me many, my own father cannot share any more stories with me. I suppose that’s why I’ve thrown myself into tracking down the stories of my ancestors. To make up for the ones my dad never got to tell me.

These stories only live on if we tell them.

Stories live forever, but only if you tell them.

Write your stories down.

Pair them with photos.

& most of all, share them with someone else.

xoxo, -donya-

In honor of my grandpa’s 103rd birthday: These crazy facts about life in 1910 America will make you appreciate the little things.

What will this summer mean to you?

Aug 21, 2015 in Personal / Comments


Today is the last day of summer for my kids.

Monday we begin the back to school routine. Another milestone. Another reminder that time is moving at the speed of light and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

Except snap a photo (of course).

This summer will forever be the one they were finally old enough to play together. Especially by the end. They were (mostly) playing without argument. Both being creative (with legos or crayons usually). Both able to communicate with one another. Both laughing. At nearly 3 and 5.5 years, they’ve finally reached ages where they are friends, not just brothers.

What moments are you going to miss about this summer?

What made this summer different from the last?

Today, Say Yes.

Jul 22, 2015 in Personal / Comments

More Yeses | Donya Luana

Social science research says that as a child, you heard the word “no” about 40,000 times by the age of five, before you even started first grade. And how many times had you heard the word “yes”? About 5,000. That’s eight times as many nos as yeses. Eight times the force holding you down, compared to the force lifting you up. Eight times the gravity against your desire to soar.

[ Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge ]

Today is for more yeses. As in, yes you can cut the strawberries all by yourself and create a big strawberry mess.

Because, how else will you learn?

How else will you feel lifted up and capable?

I hope this never leaves my mind.

Remember how uplifting the yeses are, in addition to those necessary nos.

Today, say yes.