I love having family close. It is something we rarely experienced over our 12 years in Hawaii.

We have pseudo-family there—you know who you are, and we love you just like the real deal! And (not “but”) it sure has been fun to get to know our blood. . . especially now that they are all grown up and making babies of their own.

These two became parents a few weeks ago. . . remember perfect baby Hadley? It has been a dream to watch Chelsea become a mom. She’s a natural—it’s beautiful to watch. And I’ve been absolutely inspired watching Ben become a daddy. He dotes. It’s breathtaking the way he cares for his girls (yes, Chelsea included), while still kicking butt in medical school. We are so proud of you “Red.”

Here are some images of the two of them—about a year before Hadley Girl came along—doing what they still do best, being blissfully in love.

Enjoy!

Above: Chelsea was only 16 when Richie and I tied the knot, and look at her now!

Oct 19, 2012 | posted in Family Portraits, Personal | 20 comments

We spent the last week in San Diego with these crazy kids.  It was wonderful. (Eh hem . . . yes, these are pictures from our trip in . . . um. . . MAY—just add an inch or so to the babies and warm up the ocean by a few degrees, and you’ve got the idea.)

I miss the ocean fiercely. FIERCELY. I can’t find words for how it felt to smell that salty air. . . or for how it ripped at my heart to leave.

(I think I’m really a mermaid. Mom?)

Pictured (L to R): Racquel Marvez, moi, Manjula Varghese

My episode of The Generations Project won an Emmy last night in the Human Interest category. Pardon the above screen shot of someone else’s cell phone picture, but metaphorically, it’s the perfect example of how last night felt— a blurry moment in the middle of someone else’s dream. It was surreal to say the least.  Wonderful, yes, and totally surreal.

This morning, I woke up to this face. I woke up to real life, and that moment wasn’t blurry and surreal. It was perfectly clear. . . and exquisitely beautiful. . . and filled with real life joy—real life joy that is at least a thousand times more wonderful than all the pretty shoes, fancy dresses and yes, even Emmy awards, the world over.

Over the last 8 weeks, I’ve been really sick. I mean very, very, ill. (No, I’m not pregnant, promise). Because of this, I’ve had to retract from nearly every facet of my life that doesn’t require my absolute presence. Essentially this equates to every ounce of my available energy being focused solely on breathing in and out and loving on my children—there hasn’t been any time left for blogging, shooting, writing, (cleaning, eh hem) . . . or running around like a glorified chicken with her head detached and tucked pridefully under her wing.

And guess what? I finally remember.

I remember that life isn’t about anything except for what’s right in front of you. Oxygen—breathing it in and out, all day long. People—loving them with every last beat of your heart. God—trusting his will and timing, even and especially when it’s confusing and seemingly unfair. Everything else is merely peripheral to what matters most. No, everything else MUST exist solely to SUPPORT the things that matter most.

None of this to say that Emmys (and fancy shoes) aren’t amazing! Last night really was a dream, not to mention an incredible honor! But waking up to that drippy, freckle faced, little boy reminded me, for the trillionth time, that if I want to not only survive but THRIVE in this thing called life, I have to turn down the volume on the things that matter least and emphatically embrace the things that matter most, for therein lies real life joy.

PS. Speaking of fancy shoes, I couldn’t walk in mine. I may be the only person in history ever to walk up on stage to accept an Emmy. . . in bare feet. (Just keepin’ it real.)

Sep 23, 2012 | posted in birth photography, Personal, Portraits | 32 comments

On Friday morning, Richie’s little sister, Chelsea, and her wonderful husband, Ben, welcomed their first child—beautiful Hadley Michelle—into the world. We are all SO THRILLED over this new addition to our family. She is perfectly perfect in every way. We can’t wait to love all over her and watch her grow into a generous, playful and kind-hearted woman, just like her mommy with a wise, committed and happy heart, just like her pop. We love you, sweet Hadley girl. Welcome to our family.

Sep 13, 2012 | posted in Authenticity, Baby Gavin, Brother Gavin, Grief | 38 comments

I had to take some time off to do just a little bit of this, living that is.

I needed to fall apart just a little.

I needed to have a good, long cry—to face the messy parts of what is.

I needed to shake some of the sorrow up to the surface, and exhale it away. . . or inhale it in. (I’m not sure there’s much of a difference with grief.)

It’s been 2 years now, almost 3, but usually it feels like last Thursday.

I go through this madness, thinking I shouldn’t be falling apart anymore. It’s foolish. What will people think? How will they react when they know the truth? What will they say when they know that sometimes, no often, it still hurts like Hell? That sometimes, no often, I still feel like I’m suffocating underneath it all?

. . . and then the sun comes out.

And then despite the rain, despite the thunder and the lightening, despite the begging and the longing and the bargaining and the pleading . . . through all of that weight. . . there’s light. And you know, somehow, someway everything truly is OK.

Out from under all.that.pain, you’re watching a miracle unfold. Right there in front of you. Layer by layer. Breath by breath.

And the miracle. . . is you.

You breathe in deep, flooded with inexplicable gratitude—oxygenating your very soul. Suddenly, for the first time in months, your feet hit the ground. You see all the pieces of yourself—the pieces of your sanity— and you know you can put it all back together again.

A day ago, or even a moment, you wouldn’t have believed.

Now, here it is. . .

Right in front of you.

The miracle of you.