Saturday, February 27, 2010

A beautiful mama-to-be (My first maternity session!)

I just can't get enough of this adorable little family!

This is the third session I've had with Chad, Brandi, and Cayden, and soon they will be adding another little bundle of joy to their crew - a baby boy, to be named Colby!

This was my first maternity session, and hopefully not the last, as I really had a great time with this shoot.

Brandi is absolutely radiant, and, get this - STILL WEARING HER "NORMAL" JEANS! I have no idea how she got so lucky, but I tell you, I was in maternity wear by month three! And probably NEVER looked as cute as she does, just a few short weeks from delivering!

On to the photos!

Chad, Brandi, and Cayden - it was a pleasure, as always, to work with you again. Thank you so much for trusting me with such an important documentation. I hope you love your photos!

A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on. ~Carl Sandburg

Friday, February 26, 2010

What good is a castle without a princess?

Seeing as Elizabeth has two older brothers who have effectively taught her to behave like a bear cub in the wild, she has grown to be a bit of a tomboy.

Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. In fact, I'm proud that my little girl can stand up for herself and put those boys in their place.

However, you know, I had my fun dressing and playing with two boys, and I sort of thought that maybe...just maybe... I might get to throw the occassional dress on Liz.

I thought wrong.

She throws wild fits when I attempt to put her in anything but stretchy pants! Which is fine & dandy on daycare days, but hey - when we go somewhere "special", I would really love to see her in something a little cuter.

To my surprise, Sue, who is Liz's daytime caretaker Monday - Friday, confessed to me that Liz OFTEN wears princess - yes, PRINCESS - dresses at her house with the other little girls.


MY Liz?

No way.

I'm not sure how I did it (okay, perhaps the lollipop bribe did the trick), but I finally convinced her to put on this GORGEOUS princess dress that my Aunt Vicki made with love for her.

So, without further ado, here is my little Princess, looking beautiful in her gown... in photos I never thought I'd ever get the opportunity to take.

"Hear ye, Hear ye!"

This next photo is my favorite from the shoot! I'm curious to hear... which do you prefer?

The "Normal"?

Or the more "storybook" look? (Do you like this look at all? I'm sort of on the fence.)

The next photo is another favorite. There's something I love about her innocence here. She's getting big, and fast! So I was pleased to capture her in all her baby-faced toddler glory.

Another edit on this photo...

And, of course, I learned a valuable lesson in this:

You can put a princess dress on a goofy little tomboy....

and she's still going to be a goofy little tomboy. (And that's okay.) :)

"A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true." - Cinderella

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fit for a queen (Castle Bed!!!!!)

So, Marc's latest project is his best yet. I still can't believe he even did this; it is SO amazing! Trust me when I say, these photos don't do it justice.

Introducing... a CASTLE BED for Miss Elizabeth!

Take a wild guess at what the thing against the wall is. I'll give you a clue:

The stairs lead all the way up to her awesome bed, and the bottom three steps open up for storage. How cool is that?!? :)

Don't forget to leave Marc some love here and tell him what a great job he did on Liz's fabulous bed!

More photos of Princess Elizabeth in her castle bed to come!

I prefer Princess. I would love to be known as a diva later on in life when I've had far more experiences. ~ Deborah Cox

Friday, February 12, 2010

Monson Photography SENIOR AMBASSADOR search!

Monson Photography is currently scouting for 2011 Senior Ambassadors!

If a teen you know is currently a junior in high school and will graduate in 2011, they are eligible to apply. Please read the FAQ below and pass this information on to someone who might be interested.

If you refer an applicant to me and I chose them to become a Senior Ambassador, I will send you a $10 Wal-Mart gift certificate! (Please instruct the applicant to write your name and phone number on the “How did you hear” section of the application.)

Why would I want to represent Monson Photography?

I enjoy creating a unique session for each senior and love the challenge of trying to get even the quietest of teens to come out of their shell and show a little personality for their senior portraits.

Though I am always sure to capture many “traditional” portraits, I love to get creative with my seniors and set them apart from the crowd a bit. I am not afraid to go the extra mile to ensure every senior receives awesome photos. Snowmobiling, bass fishing, two-tracking, guitar playing, horses, or sports… whatever your passion is, I will find a way to embrace it in your photographs, and believe it or not, we will have FUN doing it!

What’s a Senior Ambassador?

A Senior Ambassador would act as a representative for Monson Photography, distributing referral cards to other high school seniors.
They should be outgoing, photogenic, and willing to approach their peers in regard to senior portrait sessions. It is preferable that they participate in at least one extracurricular activity, even if it is not a school-funded program.

What would the expectations be?

As a Senior Ambassador for Monson Photography, I would expect you to show up and give 100% at your session and try your best to enthusiastically refer other seniors to Monson Photography.

If you are selected, I would invite you to my studio for a session in March/April, so that your referral cards would be ready in time for you to begin handing them out with plenty of time before the end of the school year.

We’ll do an additional, outdoor session during the spring, summer, or winter – your choice. As the 2010 – 2011 school year continues, I would ask that you continue to hand out referral cards.

I would also encourage you to utilize social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. to refer other seniors to my website.

That’s it!

What’s in it for the Ambassador?

In exchange for their services, the Ambassador would receive a few “perks”, such as:

 A discounted Senior Portrait Session – Only $75 for Ambassadors!
 15% discount on portrait orders (excludes graduation announcements/invitations)
 Longer session times, additional wardrobe changes, and more proofs to chose from
 No travel fees for Manistee locations
 20 wallet-sized photos
 $100 cash for every 5 referrals that book and pay for a session
 A special graduation surprise from Monson Photography

How do I apply?

You may apply by copying and pasting the questions below into an email and send it to Please be sure to attach a semi-current photo with your application.

Applications are due no later than February 26, 2010.

Senior Ambassador Application...

2011 Senior Ambassador Application





How did you hear about Monson Photography?

Have you thought about what locations you might want for your senior portrait
session? (List)

What type of clothing do you typically like to wear? Dressy? Or more casual; jeans/tee shirt?

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Are you outgoing? Shy? What types of music do you like? Do you like to be indoors or outdoors mostly? What are your plans for after high school? (Whatever you can think of!)

Please list any sports and/or extracurricular activities you’re involved in, including church activities if applicable:

Other hobbies:

Please tell me why you want to be a Monson Photography Senior Ambassador, and why
you feel you could do the job:

Do you honestly feel you would be able to approach other seniors and encourage them to use Monson Photography for their senior portraits?

Would you be available for a partial session in March?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Introducing...the EDIBLE Nikon D300! (A birthday story)

On 1/30, I celebrated my 29th birthday. Now, I know what you're thinking... "Gosh, she looks just 21!" And while I thank you for that, I must remain honest with my readers. Also, you should contact me immediately so I can recommend a great optimitrist in the Ludington area.

Those of you who followed me last year might remember that back then there wasn't much to celebrate on my birthday, as my beloved grandpa had recently passed away and his funeral was held on the 30th. It was a really awful time, and I truly thought that those feelings would follow me year to year.

However, I'm very happy to report that I had a, the BEST birthday I've had in a long, long time this year. I know Grandpa would be happy about that, too. And I owe it all to my beautiful family, especially my loving husband, Marc.

I started off the day in bed, past 7:30, which is a rare treat in itself! The family then hopped over to Logan's basketball game (I did shower first; I'm just skipping the overly mundane details here... give me some credit!), which has been so fun to watch!

After the game, we came home and I was presented with the BEST birthday cake ever. Just take a look at this thing! Can you believe Marc actually took the time to concoct this thing? It's unbelieveably COOL!

I think the best part of my whole day was having my sweet babies sing "Happy Birthday" to me. Marc held Liz in his arms as she bellowed "Happy Birfday to Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-meeeeeeeeeeeeeee" with an adorable grin on her face. Jackson, mid-song, stopped to slip a necklace over my head - a red "Mardi Gras bead" style necklace he bought for me at school with his good behavior pennies. He had the proudest little impish smile. I loved it. Logan was ad-libbing, being silly as always.

Right up there with the song was getting a card from my Grandma. She's 80 years old and I'm pushing thirty, but bless her heart, the woman still sends me a card and a $10 check. I love it. The money doesn't matter, but I think it's adorable. She has 9 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren and I'm sure they all get a $10 check, too.

After a bit, we headed for Muskegon to do a little browsing. Marc took me to Best Buy to pick out a MP3 player for my birthday. I got THIS ONE and absolutely love it!!! I listen to alllllllllllllllll types of music, so having everything at my fingertips just rocks! You never know what I'm in the mood for.

I found some really, really adorable things for Liz's upcoming revamped bedroom (more on that later... I can't wait to "unveil" Marc's latest project. The guy's a genius!) at Hobby Lobby, and then we went to the Texas Roadhouse for what was probably the BEST steak I've ever had in my life. It was *almost* worth the public humiliation I experienced when Marc quite stealthily arranged to have me sit atop a saddle while it was announced to the entire restaurant that it was my birthday. (Yeah... I even got the "Big, Texas Roadhouse YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HAWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!")

Later, we continued our adventures at the Little River Casino in Manistee, where Marc totally pulled a birthday girl escort faux paus and picked every winning slot machine in the joint, leaving me with the losers. In the end though, sweet, sweet man he is, he split his winnings with me.

We returned home to a nice, quiet house full of sleeping kids (Thank you, Alexus!) and ended our day by soaking under the stars in the hot tub.

So... there you have it! I think it was a darn-near perfect day. I'm so glad that we had a great time and I got to spend my day with the people I love most.

"Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself." ~Tom Wilson

Adventures in Higginsland

On Jan. 22nd, we packed up the family and headed to Higgins Lake for a fun-filled weekend with my sister-in-law, Kelley; brother-in-law Kyle; and nephew Parker at their family cabin. And when I say "cabin", I mean beautiful abode that knocked our socks off. Just beautiful! (In hindsight, I really should've taken photos of the cabin itself. Darn!)

Marc's mom & dad, Ron & Carol, met us there on Friday so we could celebrate a whole "grouping" of recent birthdays. We had a really nice meal, played cards, had a lot of laughs, and called it a night.

The next morning, when Marc woke up at the crack of dawn (I really need to explain this whole "vacation" thing to him...), he hurried back in the bedroom and told me if I wanted a cool sunrise photo, I'd better go and look out the window.

Well, that was enough to rouse my curiousity, so I peeled myself out from beneath the warm blankets to see what the fuss was all about.

The cabin sits right on Higgins Lake, so you can literally walk out the door and set your foot on the frozen lake. It's a big hot spot for ice fisherman, just as Houghton Lake is. When I looked out the window and witnessed the most beautiful sunrise reflecting on this seemingly endless frozen body of water, I knew immediately what Marc was talking about.

I think in order to appreciate just how fast the sun actually rises and sets, you have to try to photograph it. Because once the sun starts to rise up or fall, you really only have a few minutes to get what you need. Knowing this, I quickly slid on my big 'ol winter boots and coat, grabbed my camera, and shot outside with my hair sticking up in every possible direction.

Had I known I was going to get this opportunity, I would've brought my tripod. But alas, the sledding gear, birthday gifts, etc. took precedence over my photography gear, so I had to do the best with what I had, which was my 50mm 1.8 and the two hands God gave me.

You know... it's really QUITE cold when you're standing at the edge of a lake before sunrise in January. Imagine that! So, my shivering got in the way of what could've been some great shots. But I did end up with this semi-decent photo

and even sucked it up and stayed out for a few more captures.

I know this place must be really wonderful in the warmer months, but even in the winter it's just so peaceful and absolutely breathtaking. Although I was freezing my biscuits off... it was well worth the view.

After everyone was awake and received a bellyful of Kyle's delicious pancakes, we decided it might be fun to take the kids sledding. So we bundled everyone up, unbundled some to use the bathroom, then rebundled them, and headed out to what Kyle jokingly (or so I THOUGHT...) referred to as "Suicide Hill".

"Suicide Hill" is comprised of a very wide, long, sloping hill that leads into a patch of forest. Below is not the greatest photo and doesn't do it justice,

but I shot it as I was sliding slowly down the icy slope on my backside. The hill was pretty slippery, but we didn't think much of it and were looking forward to some nice rides.

Being the good daddy he is, Marc borrowed Parker's inflatable sled and prepared to take Liz for her first REAL sled ride. As Marc settled onto the big raft and turned to grab Liz, the sled began to take off on its own. Marc quickly threw Liz onto his lap, and I managed to fire off this one shot before they took off like a bolt of lightening.

I kid you not, they may have broken some speed limits plummeting down Suicide Hill. Every time we thought they were going to stop...they just, you know... kept on going! Which sent Kelley and me into uproarious fits of laughter.

Little did I know, Marc was beginning to get worried, as the sled wasn't slowing down much and they were getting close to the forest. He later told me he was mentally preparing himself to toss Liz off the sled before they hit a tree! Luckily, they came to a stop before someone was injured.

It was then my turn to take Miss Princess for a ride. I decided I'd rather not end up in the next county as Marc did, so we started about halfway down on the other side of the hill. Parker was ready to have his sled back, but since I'm his favorite Aunt :) and he loves "Lizzy", he let it slide. Pun intended.

I sank myself into the big round sled, and before I could get into a good position, Marc plunked Liz on top of me so that we were sort of belly-to-belly and her little rosy-cheeked face was looking up at me.

Before I knew it, we were zipping down that hill at a rate of speed much higher than my comfort level. It didn't take long to me to bust into absolute panic mode. You see, I'm not a "speed" person. I don't like roller coasters, and I'm not much for water slides. In fact, sometimes I even get a little scared sliding down the curly slide at the playground with Liz on my lap. Indeed, I am a wimp.

As I said, I started to panic. With me sunk into the middle of the sled and Liz on top of me, I couldn't see a thing! For all I knew, we were going to hit a tree. So I tried to shift my weight ever-so-slightly to put me in a better position. Well, that back fired and made us zing down the hill at record speed... completely backward. All I could think of is... "We're going to DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!" No, really... my life flashed before my eyes and I had the same thought as Marc, of tossing Liz aside so she wouldn't face greater injury. When you're in one of those innertube-like inflatable sleds, you can't even reach your feet down to slow your pace. You're completely at the mercy of the never-ending hill and ice as slick as motor oil.

Finally, just as I was ready to say my final goodbyes to Liz, we ended up in a patch of thorny sticks that stopped us in our tracks. As I lay there, panting, thanking God for saving my sorry rear, I looked down at Liz and was surprised to see her little SMILING face looking back at me. "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW, Mama!" she beamed, "You did that right! I didn't get snow in my face!" Apparently she was virtually clueless as to our near-death experience, and I wasn't about to fill her in.

To add insult to near-injury, now I had a 1/2 mile trek uphill with a three foot tall person in tow. By the time we neared the top, Liz was on my back and I was hurting from earlobe to toe. I handed Parker back his sled, which had suffered a lashing when we landed in the sticks. It was now dangling from my arm like a wet noodle and flopping in the wind. I felt pretty sheepish and, without looking him in the eye, told Parker Uncle Marc would patch it for him. So much for "favorite Aunt".

As I was still struggling to catch my breath, I was also wondering why I hadn't had any help getting the deflated raft and tired three-year-old up the hill. At that point, I turned to find Marc helping a teary-eyed Logan up the hill. Apparently he'd done some Olympic Trick Sledding himself and had been tossed off and hit his head on a rock! We decided then to call it a day... and keep an eye on him for a concussion.

Later, Kelley relayed to me that Kyle had asked her, "Didn't they see the kids' hill on the other side?" Ummmmmmmmmmmmm no. Nope. We didn't. But thanks for the fun! :) ha ha

By the time we arrived back to the cabin, Logan was still consious and feeling better, so Kelley, Liz, Logan and I thought we'd check out the frozen lake. Liz especially thought it was pretty sweet to be standing on ice.

Mom thought it was pretty sweet to try to bounce flash off of the snow-covered ice. :)

After that, it was hot cocoa time.

Later, we had a wonderful dinner, drank some wine, played cards again, shared many more laughs, and retired for the evening.

The next day it was time to head home (BOOOOO!), even though we were having such a blast. We decided before we ended our fun weekend, we should take the kids bowling first. What a great time we all had there! Here are a few photos from the day.

I can't thank Kyle, Kelley, and Parker enough for the GREAT weekend. We really had the best time and have so many great memories. I am hoping we'll make it a habit of meeting up there over the course of the year. In fact, Kelley and I are planning a girls' retreat in approx. twelve days! (Who's counting?) :)

"Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip." ~Author Unknown