baby portraits

Waiting For Eleanor | Maryland Maternity Session

"I'm confronted by the irrationality of love by my children.
They are these stealth Love Torpedos.
They are powered by an inexhaustible id,
powering through whatever defenses I thought I had
with absolutely no respect for my rational, adult concerns.

That's what love is.
It's irrationality taking the place of logic.
It's emotion taking the reigns where intellect fears to drive.
How would we live without that?"

(Meghna Chakrabarti)

The power of a pregnant woman captures me. I might be wrong, but I think there is an admiration alongside whatever other feelings or opinions may exist when it comes to a woman with child. We know it is hard. We have that sense of bow-and-honor. "Good for her." "Man, I don't know if I could do that." "Go supermom." Of course observation is the front porch to the home of personal experience. Now that I have been pregnant, I'm as intrigued as ever by the miracle it is to carry a baby.

Not to mention that watching a family's story unfold behind my camera is "why I do what I do." I photographed Eric and Erica while they were still dating, then for their wedding, then with their first newborn, and most recently as they waited for Miss Eleanor to arrive. The love they share with each other, and now growing bigger with their children, is a sweet joy. I loved watching Eric and Emmett's connection. I loved catching Erica rubbing and looking at her belly. I loved the laughter and eye-contact mom and dad found in the little guy. I loved their chill, relaxed happiness.

"My love for my son makes my fundamentally irrational too. I give up sleep, food, money, energy, time, and all sorts of other things for this child... and I do so willingly! It goes against all we need to survive, and yet... we give into it all the time. Why do we do this?  'Forgive me, my logic is uncertain where my son is concerned.'" (Meghna Chakrabarti)

This session had such a Christopher Robin/Calvin & Hobbes/Tom Sawyer feel to it and is one of my favorites ever! Everything nostalgic that childhood should be - barefoot, anticipating, throwing rocks, "present," outdoors, and silly with the whole family.

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I love you guys! And am so happy dear Eleanor is safely into your arms, hearts, and home!

Harper Joy | Nashville Newborn Photography

"Ohh, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside
Then dance for Jesus."

Chris Rice - Untitled Hymn

I love pictures of babies in the first week of life (it's just such a tiny, fast, final stage) but I don't know if it gets much cuter than the "chub up" part. Miss Harper is the sixth daughter of dear friends. I think it's a little bit of magic to have half-a-dozen little girls. I met the family after their third, Alivia, passed away and I've been so in love with them ever since. Not everyone has to face the "hell" parts of life, but those who do often seem to have a special 'substance' to them. Each one of the kids and both parents have such strong, distinct and lovable personalities. I can't wait to see their family evolve over the years. I'm especially excited for the mom of this brood and her new instagram feed and online shop, Vintage Farmhouse Interiors. She has incredible taste and makes such a warm, happy home! I love love you all! Thanks for letting me squish your newest baby, and for all the bowls of soup and slices of bread. You are favorites forever.

Mamas + Cubs | Portraits

inspired by huffington post's recent publishing of ken heyman's photographs of mothers.  an idea like this had been in my brain-idea-bin for a while, and this finally gave me the motivation to follow through with it.

Dear mama and mama-figures (whoever you may be),
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Thank you for your hips...
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... your cheeks,
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... your forearms and the crook above your elbow.
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Thank you for your time,
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... (your night-time
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... and your day-time) -- for a lifetime.
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Thank you for monster socks,
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for lots of yummy yogurt because it's my favorite and makes me nice and chubby,
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... and for your patience.
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Thank you for loving me even more now than you did then...
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Thank you for calm,
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and for your exhausted,
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for your proud,
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and for all that you've memorized; for all only you know.
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Thank you for confidence,
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thank you for fluffy towels,
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and thank you for being so brave.
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Thank you for sharing your house with me,
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...your humor with me,
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...your body with me.
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Thank you for helping me learn life basics,
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keeping me safe,
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and also clean (the best you can).
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You are comfort. photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen126of42.jpg
You are the last of the day.
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You are where I say good-bye.
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You are a queen without a crown.
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You are reinforcement, "You can do it!," and proof that: your joy is my joy.
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You make me feel like I am the apple of your eye.
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You are "I will never let you go"...
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... and a shoulder to rest on.
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All the "up-up!"s, "hold you?"s, "one more story?"...
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... and attention to little and long ideas don't go forgotten.  Maybe unnoticed, but never forgotten.
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You are beauty. (And a total weirdo)
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You are strong.  (And you cry the best sadness.)
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You are hope.  (Even when I'm not with you.) photo mamas_and_cubs_im_kristen114of42.jpg
Thank you for every wrinkle, ache, heartburn, cramp, nap, car ride, prenatal vitamin, hug, lunch, tear, vote of confidence, high-five, eye-contact, long night, laugh, iPhone picture, cheer from the stand, Christmas gift, stretch mark, sip of water after bedtime, coupon-cut, back rub, conversation and moment.
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With as much heart as you've given me,
Your cub.

--- + --- + --- + --- + --- + ---
to book your own i'm kristen family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)

Introducing, Our Son, Rowdy

crickets calling wing to wing 
someday baby you will sing
tanya goodman - someday baby
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(ALL picture credit to our "life" photographer, Lydia Jane.  
I can't wait to be able to do the same for you someday, friend, so you'll know how much of a blessing aaaaalll these pictures are to us.)
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On June 14, just minutes after ten o'clock in the evening, Caleb and I met and held and looked at our son in person - and he looked at us back.   He was flawless - rosy pink, pudgy, smooth and snuggly.  Our string bean weighed seven pounds, twelve ounces and was almost twenty-two inches long.  My mom says he's the strongest baby she's ever seen.  His hands and feet are huge.  We love his long spindly fingers and knobby knees.  Heck, we love everything about him.
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The little "tornado" hair swirl on the back of his head.
The fact that when he was born he didn't have a double chin,
but the night after we came home from the hospital he did.
The weird cross-eyed kissy-lip face he makes when he seems confused.
The sole "WAH." he'll blurt out when he's tired but wants attention. Not a string of fussing - just dozing in and out of awakeness with a random "WAH!" It's hilarious.
The way his little knuckles leave marks in our skin when we hold him still for an hour.
The power kicks and almost-roll-overs (seriously!) and dreamy smiles every time he sleeps.
The eye-contact and how he knows my voice.
The voice daddy makes only for Rowdy.
The way time runs together in finger-paint-ease; hours float together and somehow it's been a week?  Already?
The way everyone - everyone - responds to his presence.  Our families, our friends, strangers at Chick-fil-a and Target, the doctor and nurses.  Everywhere we go people smile and chat and come out of their shells.  He brings out kindness and love.
The idea that God loves us as naturally, easily, eagerly and tenderly as we love Rowdy.  And then some.  We're the King's babies and I love getting to experience the parent-side of this love.  It makes me tear up when I think about God - He really, really does love me.  Wow.
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spirited and enthusiastic; full of liveliness, vigor, or courage 

At our almost-10-week appointment, we were able to watch Rowdy on the sonogram screen for a few minutes.  He was the size of a green grape, and we obviously didn't know he was a "he" yet.  His head was still larger than the rest of his body.  We heard his heart pumping away, steady like a Native American drum beat.  His arms, about as long as two grains of rice, were up along his face, with his fists resting next to the place his ears would be.  Initially he was completely still, but as the technician moved the wand and "prodded" him, he stirred.  His big head slowly rocked side to side and his arms batted across the screen.  When the tech didn't stop, he began furiously kicking his legs and swimming "away."  His arms pumped harder and he spun himself over so we could see his back.  I cried, Caleb cheered him on and the tech laughed: "Wow!  What a lively little guy you have!"  He was so human and animated and... tiny!... and ours.

At our 20-week appointment, when we found out Rowdy was a dude, he started out asleep and laying perfectly still.  But after a few minutes he began to karate-jab the doppler.  One HARD kick/punch, right in the center of the wand.  Once it was hard enough to cause the tech's hand to lift up into the air!  He didn't "kick kick kick kick."  No, it was a single, aimed, full-force kick followed by another minutes later.  I cried again.  As the tech continued, he took matters into his own hands and rolled over, made himself into a "tent" with his butt pointed up, and was on lock-down so we could't "get in" and see.  He wouldNOT budge.  I know he was awake.  I know it.  Feisty muffin.

The single-punch "get off of me!" moves only continued into the pregnancy.  The midwives always commented on how especially strong and vigorous he was.   So when we came across the name "Rowdy" and read what it meant, it just seemed to fit our boy.  We had a different name we were 99% sure we were using (and we even called him it before he was born!) and we had two other "contenders."  But once we had him in our arms, the other names just weren't "him."  They weren't our spirited, animated, determined, enthusiastic, sandy, rowdy Rowdy.

Baby, we are praying that you will indeed be a spirited person, truly full of courage.  Brimming with life!  Life is a super great gift, and we want you to enjoy it and the One who gave it with all your heart.  There is so much good to be savored, even when the hard is raging.  

"God gives life and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them... 
and be to happy in our toil β€”this is a gift of God...
God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart."
ecclesiastes 5:18/20
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passionate champion; victorious 

"You belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory..."

Caleb and I both look back on our walks with God and our lives in Him and agree that we didn't understand the entirety of the gospel for far too long.  I used to think "the cross" was "the gospel."  When asked I could easily say "Jesus died for my sins!" (using the five fingers on my hand for each word).  The Gospel was the story of God dying for His people and thereby saving them from the wrath they deserved - all because of Love.  

What we failed to cherish in our hearts, minds and souls was that this was only a part of the gospel.  It's a beautiful, intense, necessary, moving, real part of the gospel of grace.  But it isn't the whole story.  It's not all of the good news.  The rest of the good news is that now that we are saved, we get, we are entitled to, we are heirs of the greatest gifts.  The rest of the story is that Jesus didn't just die, but He rose.  He rose from hell and beat death.  Death lost.  He won.  If the gospel was "the story of the cross" we would miss out on the benefits of the empty grave and the filled throne.  Because He not only lived, and not only died, and not only lived again, but He returned Home, with eternal scars in His palms, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, and entered the Holy Places with our adoption papers, ready to intercede on our behalf forever.  We aren't waiting to find out what the final score will be, we are waiting for the awards ceremony.  We know who won.  We know what the prize is.  We're now celebrating the victory of the grace, unshackled and unashamed, never to be bound by sin or death or fears or flesh or Satan or Hell or powers or hate or evil again. We're celebrating now.  "You have already won.  You belong... now."

"Are you also confused? Is our champion helpless to save us? 
You are right here among us, Lord, and we are known as your people!” 

"...keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
 Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. 
Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. "

"Christ is risen from the dead 
Trampling over death by death 
Come awake, come awake!"

We happily gave our son the middle name "Neil" in honor of his great-grandfather's brother, Neil Morris and his son Neil Morris Jr., his grandfather, Terry Neil Morris, and his father, Caleb Neil Morris.  No matter what the name meant, we would have wanted to carry this tradition on for the fourth generation.  But wow.  What a perfect definition.   The error in thinking of the gospel "only" as the cross displayed itself in manic obsession with personal obedience, fear and shame when we made mistakes, disappointment with ourselves over and over as we failed time and again, harsh and stony judgement of those who lived in ways we disapproved of, robotic adherence to the rules, and hunger for the praise and approval of the Christian people we respected.   We "so quickly deserted the one who called us to live in the grace of Christ and turned to a different gospelβ€” which is really no gospel at all."

Baby, we are praying and planning and so looking forward to raising you in the triumphant, sweet news we hold so dear.  We can't wait to tell you the stories of the generations that have gone before you - your family tree is incredible.  How you even exist is incredible.  We can't wait to tell you all the lessons we have learned from our parents and grandparents.  We want to live out life with you as as happy, free, rejoicing people, and we want you to join our singing.  That's our greatest prayer, Rowdy Boy.

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Rowdy, being yours has been really nothing but wonderful.  Wonder upon wonder.  And just when we think we couldn't love you more, you do something (like hiccup) and our hearts somehow have room for just a little more love.  We're so happy you're here.

"Oh well I look at you and say
'It's the happiest that I've ever been'
And I'll say I no longer feel I have to be James Dean
And she'll say 'Yah well I feel all pretty happy, too'
And I'm always pretty happy when I'm just kicking back with you."
Five Years Time - Noah and The Whale

Shelby Leigh + Brian + The Three Girls | Newborn + Family Portraits

"is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? 
any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me?"
elise mckenna - somewhere in time
Not many hours after Esme Rose snuggled into her first days of "outside" life, this beautiful family and I met up again for one more story time.   We started back in December, with simple portraits of a mama-and-dada-to-be.    Within weeks, we were huddled together in a bathroom, with a couple more daughters and supporters, watching Shelby and pleading to Esme with our hearts - "Come on, sweet girl.  Come out!  We're waiting for you!".   This brings us to early spring and a family of five.
Inside the white picket fence, and red front door, up the wooden stairs, past the dusty rose and khaki nursery, on a white bright bed was a crew full of sunshine.
The ladies of the house are, well, stunning.  Each and every one of them.
And papa is a brave soul ;)
The delight I had left behind that cold night was just as complete when I came back in the daylight.  The big sisters were still intrigued and comfortable.  The whole house attracts itself to mama and baby.  They all love to be near.
Esme had quite the stare-down!  It's breathtaking!
Soon the little cupcake won't be eating every hour or two.  Soon she will know her sister's names.  Soon she will jump on dad, and break mugs, and fill up a little purse with goodies, and count to eleventeen and beyond.  Soon she will clap for herself.  Soon she will ask for what she wants with words.  Soon she will ask dad about his tattoos and if she can play with mom's hair and "are we there yeeeet?"  Soon she won't be a baby.  But today she's quite baby.  And absolutely incredible.  She is loved, and has been for some time now.  She is here and she is there's.
It's been honor and fun to be a part of this story; to record and tell something that can never be told again.  Esme Rose will never go back into her mother's belly or be delivered or be a few hours old ever, ever again.  And it really resonates in my heart the sweetness I've been able to join in on by photographing this entire, lovely family.  

What Little Behrs Know | One Year Portraits

Little Behrs live with full-emotions.  Little Behrs don't know about self-control or fear of man or peer pressure.  They know about swinging, though, and they know swinging is really good.
Little Behr's don't know about laundry or stains or shipping costs or coupon codes.  They do know about grass and outside and crawling wicked fast.
Little Behr's don't know about hiding emotions or keeping secrets.  They tell you everything they're feeling.  "I AM HAAAPPY!"
Little Behr's don't know about L-lenses or savings or business investments or faster shutter speeds.  But they do know about shiny, and they would like so much to touch what is shiny.
Little Behr's don't know about betrayal or broken promises or lies.  Little Behr's do know that dada and mamma never ever drop him when he's swinging. He always wants to do it again.
Little Behr's don't know about calories or The Food Pyramid or BMI's or organic.  Little Behr's do know about eating, though.  They love eating.  Eating is a joy to Little Behr's.  However, they still aren't sure if leaves are good for eating.  They'll have to decide later.
Little Behr's don't know about enemies or fake or disingenuous friends.  They do know that Other Bear's are perfect for sneak attack hugs.Photobucket
Little Behr's don't know about depression, heart-break or hate.  They do know about being sad... and it is very sad when the doggie walks by and doesn't stop to say hello.
Little Behr's don't know about grammar, sentence structure, clever delivery or wit.  But they do know about funny, and that NO one is funnier than dada.
Little Behr's don't know about jail, police men or law.  But Little Behr's do know what "no" means, even if they pretend they don't.
Little Behr's don't know about comparison, self-conciousness, or not measuring up.  They do have big ears, and they drool, and their hair grows un-evenly.  And Little Behr's don't even know how handsome! And cute! And, just, beautiful! they are!  They don't even know.
Little Behr's don't know about politics, or swear words, or judgmental Christian's, or car accidents, or terrorists, or homework, or stealing, or eternity.  But Little Behr's do know that being alone in the night isn't as good as being held by mama.  Come on, Little Behr's aren't stupid.  They also know about teeth.  And teeth hurt a lot.  So don't tell me they don't get it.
Little Behr's don't know about productivity, to-do lists, failure, haters, bills or commutes.  Little Behr's DO know about walking, though.  Even though Little Behr's choose to fall over and crawl when they could walk all on their own.  Sometimes Little Behr's just aren't ready for the next step.  And that's okay... because Little Behr's won't get to crawl around forever.
Little Behr's don't know about a lot of things.  But Little Behr's know a lot more than me, sometimes.   They know about trust, living in the moment, not worrying about the future, smiling whenever, and the joy of almost everything - especially bath time.
Thanks for all you've taught me, Little Behr.  I miss seeing you everyday.  I miss hearing your "Oh wooow!" exclamations.  I miss watching you do and try new things every single morning.  But I love you, Little Behr.  Happy 12 Months of life and living.  Stay little as long as you can, okay? Love, Aunt Titi

Juliana Kate | Baby Portraits

A couple of years ago Alex + Lauren decided to hunker on down and be each other's always and one and only.   Just before two years of ooey-gooey-marriage-goodness ( ;) ), they found out that they were not just "man" and "wife" but "mama" and "daddy"!  Juliana Kate is now in their arms and in their home.
The first few days of Jules' life turned out to be quite scary.  Right away her breathing wasn't as strong as it should have been.  Baby One was whisked away to the NICU.  The next 48 hours included poor jaundice levels, a possible seizure and some - okay, maybe more - tears.   But now she is eight days old, fit as a fiddle, home and making their world sweeter with every passing hour.   While she was in the NICU Mama Lauren would come rub her cheeks and sing her pretty songs.  Even at this young age, she responds with pure delight when she hears her mother sing.  I didn't really believe Lauren when she told me she smiles a lot - especially during songs.  But, check it out for yourself!
We haven't even covered the beauty of this baby.  Eight days old and almost oddly flawless.  Not a wrinkle, pimple, rash, bump or funny new-baby "issue."  To be honest, I even think the little old man hound dog scrunches or zitty-fresh faces are super cute!  It's just part of being brand new!  But this little looker is made from porcelain.  I didn't edit a single thing from her face.  No blending or cloning or band-aiding.  And she's not even seven pounds.  Tiny, smooth and happy... gaaaah!
Alex and Lauren are dear with her.  He is a broad, dark, ex-hockey-playing, adventurous manly man.  She is sweet, tender, very careful and glowing.   They did everything as a team.  They both know her cries, one holds her head while the other lifts the shirts on, they know the "tricks" their little lady especially likes.
I just... I mean... right?
I love when babies make grumpy faces in their sleep.  I feel like that's my face when someone turns the light on in a dark room when I'm asleep.  I'm all "eeeeeeeh!" with my grump face ;)
Note to self: buy my daughters small white bows.  They're angelic.
Juliana was so much fun because she was SO alert.  She was looking around at all kinds of things!  She had my camera shutter to catch her attention, her mama calling her name, her dad walking around in the back-round... and she was very aware of all the "fuss."  She kept her eye on us... until, of course, that just got exhausting.
Welcome to your family and to this wild-giddy-yap thing called life.  We're so delighted that you're here and that God wanted to make you.  Your parents are super cool - they've prayed so much for you, and they are smitten with you.  I wish I had taken a video of them getting you ready for this pictures.  You probably would have laughed watching it someday... but then gotten a little teary, too.  They love you.  Oh!  And you have some crazy great aunts, uncles and cousins.  Yeah, you're gonna have a good life.
All my love and gentle squeezes! Muah!

Baby Autumn | Daily Life Portraits

"love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup."
danny's song - anne murray
For some reason, being a child in a big family prompts unusual family-planning questions.  As a little girl I was frequently asked "Do you like being in a big family?"  Well.  I liked being in my family.  And it was big!  So, yes!  I did like being in a big family.  "Do you want to have a big family someday?"  "Yes, I would!" (I wish I would have responded with "Do you like being in a small family?  Do you want to have a small family someday?" but I never did.) Sometimes people remarked that I might change my mind when I got older, or that they just wouldn't be cut out for that.   But over the last decade as I've heard and answered that question, the most common response has been:  "You must love children, huh?"  I was always a little confused by that question ("You mean, there are people who don't love children?") but I always answered my third "yes" of the dialogue.  [I have more to say about this paragraph, but that's not for right now.]

As I've gotten older, I've spent more time studying, researching and thinking about children than any other topic.  Whether it be scripture, TIME magazines, internet forums, conversations with friends (or strangers), various books or my own thoughts - I've had plenty to mull over.   I've watched adults interact with children in public and private settings.  I've watched their reactions to an annoying or angry child.  I've watched their responses to a pretty and "good" child.  My little radars shoot up when children are around.  I watch closely - the children themselves, and the people around them.

In all this time, I'm not sure if I've encountered a better sentence about my heart towards children, said by the author of Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown: β€œI don't think I'm essentially interested in children's books. I'm interested in writing, and in pictures. I'm interested in people and in children because they are people.”  

In my house, and therefore in my world, children were people.  I don't mean that anyone thinks infants and toddlers are dogs, or matter, or subhumans.  I know we all "know" they are people, but, even subconsciously, many put them in a different category.  "Children are so difficult!"  "Children are so funny!" "Children are a lot of work!" "Children are expensive!"  Well, yes.  But people are difficult, and funny, and work, and expensive.  Some people I enjoy very much, others kind of get on my nerves - that includes newborns to the very elderly.  But no matter what they're like, or much effort it takes, I, with all my heart, believe that everyone should love children.  Because I believe that everyone should love people.  

Obviously there are a variety of personalities and "strengths" that sometimes do better with different kinds of people ;)  I honestly am not the best with kids.  I love being around them, but I think my kid-skills were so much stronger when I was 17 and 18.  Part of how I know this is because of my little sisters.  Shannon and Lauren are nine and eleven years old and could probably care for a 6-month old completely on their own for 24 hours.  And they have lived a life without infant siblings.  They are so good with little people.  

For two days we've watched a girl named Autumn.  It's been fascinating to see my family made up of elementary school children, pre-teens, college students and 50-somethings, transform for this little person.  Everyone wants a turn to hold her, to feed her, to dress her, to play with her.  Even the boys.  I don't think she's been put down since she's arrived.  We all squeal at her funny faces, re-tell stories about "what Autumn did today," work hard to keep her safe and happy.  She has brought joy to our home - and mess, and noise, and smells, and "work," I guess.  But, who cares about that?!  She's an incredible person.  And she has made our daily life sweeter and better.   

She's helped me love my sisters more - they honestly are capable beyond their years.  She's helped me love my brothers more - they have such a doofy soft side that she brought out.  She's helped me love my parents more - mom always knows what to do with her!  She's so experienced and gentle.  Dad is so funny with his "baby voices" and quirky insights.  "She is 98% eye-ball.  This isn't a baby, it's a life support system for two eyes!"  She's helped me love my husband more - he was so patient when she cried at 3:00 am last night, and so sweet as he got ready for work as quiet as possible so she wouldn't wake up.  

You are loved, little A!  Come back and visit us soon.  You're one of our favorite people!
Her Happy Food Dance ;)Photobucket
She was trying to "share" her sweet potatoes with Kevin.  Kind soul ;)