Each year I write a birthday letter to my kids on the blog…you can find Lucy’s previous letters here: eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one.

Dear Lucy,

Two days ago you turned nine-years-old. NINE. It’s your last single digit year! How can that even be possible? There are days when I look at you and I can’t help but see that chubby-cheeked baby with the dimples around her eyes. But you’re aren’t that squishy babe anymore…you’re growing longer and leaner, with a face that more closely resembles the woman you will become than the baby you once were. Although I still see the sparkle in your eyes that you’ve had since you were a gummy-mouthed infant, something I truly hope never fades.

Lucy and Mama at the Royals Game

Happy Birthday Lucy

This year was our first being completely overwhelmed with activities and schedules. You are a kid who wants to try anything and everything, which is WONDERFUL, but a bit difficult to navigate in terms of the number of hours in a day. You begged for horseback riding lessons, gymnastics, soccer, piano, guitar and Girl Scouts. You love swim team and book club. In short…YOU ARE EXHAUSTING! I struggle with this as a parent, because I want you to have every opportunity to try new things, but I also think your free time as a kid is so precious, and I felt between school and activities, you didn’t have too much of that this past year. This year, I’m looking forward to working on having less scheduled time, and more time to just BE. So far this summer has been full of free play, swimming with friends, tree climbing and imagination…which is exactly how it should be.

Happy Birthday Lucy

Lucy and Her Guitar

Bedtime with Lulu

I feel like I’m watching you change before my eyes, and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit terrifying. You’re entering that stage of childhood that is just “in between.” You’re not a tween or a teen, but you’re not a little kid anymore either. You love pop music, but you also love nursery rhymes. You’re mature enough to read novels, but you still want to snuggle with me before bed. I know this sweet time is fading fast, and I want to hold on as tightly as I can. I’m aware that before I realize it, you’ll no longer want those nightly snuggles. So instead of pushing them off or telling you I don’t have time, I crawl in to bed with you and we giggle about our days together. I take mental pictures of every moment, filing them away for those teen years when hugging your mom in public will be the absolute worst thing ever.

Lulu Swimming

Happy Birthday Lucy

Lulu in the Rain

I’m so proud of you, Lulu. You’re growing and learning and becoming more “yourself” every day. Watching you navigate friendships and relationships outside of our own has taught me so much about the person that I want to be. I want to be like you. I want to assume the best of people, forgive and love without limits. I want to be proud of who I am, and surround myself with people who lift me up. I want your courage and generosity.

Lucy Laughing

Lucy Laughing

Lucy Laughing

Thank you for this past year, my sweet girl. I can’t wait to experience NINE with you. I imagine it will probably be the best year yet!

Love you to the moon and back,


Lucy Pool May272015

So far, our summer has been pretty wonderful! This week I’ve taken a bit of time off (which as a freelancer means “I’m working from dusk until the kids wake up and then again when they are in bed until midnight!”) to enjoy the first few days of their school break with Lulu and Tate. I am thrilled that next week a new babysitter will be joining our little crew to help us get through the rest of summer with minimal work/life breakdowns. But until then, I power the computer down around 8:30 a.m. and we spend the day reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends and, of course, swimming. Now, the weather in Kansas City isn’t exactly pool weather yet, but my little fishes could care less! We are lucky to belong to a gym with a heated outdoor swimming pool, so we’ve been there every day this week. Tate is so much more independent this year, going down the slides like a big kid and refusing to wear floaties or play in the shallow end. He’s already serving as a bit of a mascot for the lifeguard crew, who know him by name and graciously chat with him as he asks them a million questions daily. From the moment we arrive at the pool, Lulu disappears and I usually don’t see her again until she starts to get hungry. Today Lulu said, “Mom, I love summer. I could swim every day forever.” I hear ya, sister. Me too.

Tate Swimming Memorial Day

Lulu as Leia

Star Wars Day Lulu as Leia

Being the family full of nerds that we are (and proud!) a few weeks back we had to celebrate Star Wars Day (May the 4th). However, the day arrived and both of my kids were not super excited about participating in any of the fun! After a little coercion and the promise that I could make Lucy look like she was holding a real light saber, she decided to play along with her dorky mom and we took a couple of photos of her as Princess Leia. You might remember a few years back when the kids dressed up as Leia and Yoda for Halloween (greatest costumes EVER). Well, we re-purposed a now very small Princess Leia costume for this little shoot. You might notice I don’t show Lulu’s feet…well, that’s because in the past few years she’s grown about a foot and the dress that was once on the ground now stops at her knees!

I’ve been working a lot on my craft and on developing some more artistic photo sessions, and Lulu has become my biggest inspiration. She’s almost always up for fun ideas, and she loves watching me take a mundane set up and make magic with different angles and post production. This session was done in an empty lot behind a gas station, as a big storm started to roll in. We were on our way home from swim lessons, and we just pulled over and ran out in to the small field. Right out of frame is a busy intersection and a line of retail stores. Turns out you can find a little magic just about anywhere!

(Click here for another magical photo in this series of shoots inspired by my creative, daring daughter, Lulu.)

Reading is Magic


These past few weeks have been so wonderful. I am overwhelmed with the opportunities I’ve been given…teaching workshops, traveling to New York City, beautiful photo sessions with families and individuals…I am so grateful! I am, however, totally exhausted. Between all the amazing things happening in my career and the end of the school year for my kids, I am running a low tank! So last week, when we had an unexpected cancellation, my kids and I decided to do a fun project together. My daughter is an avid reader (that’s putting it lightly!) and so we wanted to create an image where the magic of reading was really showcased. We worked together to find a location (my neighbor’s backyard), we set up the shot, and then we edited together in Photoshop. Here is the original RAW file next to the final product…

Lucy Reading Before + After

I’m not usually a huge Photoshopper…but it was cool to make something a little bit different from my regular style. It was so fun for my daughter to see how I do my work, and she was really pleased with the final image. I think this summer we are going to create a few more magical images based on some of her own ideas. She has big dreams, and it’s pretty fun turning them into a reality! Not only was she thrilled, but my creative muscles got a little bit of a workout as well. Magic.

Throwback : Room Makeover with the Land of Nod

This post originally ran in September of 2013, but it’s one of my favorites! I am definitely NOT a decor expert, as made very obvious by the before photos of this room. I was so grateful the Land of Nod offered to help a girl out! I loved working with the Land of Nod, one of my favorite brands, on this preschool to big girl room makeover. I hope you enjoy!


Lulu has grown up so much in the past few years, sometimes I find it difficult to keep up! This week she loves Justin Bieber and yesterday she still loved Dora. A year ago she insisted her favorite color was not just pink, but PINK!!!!! Now she refuses to wear the color and wants everything around her to be blue, blue, blue. She is opinionated and feisty, and I wanted her room makeover to reflect that. We moved to our suburban Kansas City home when she was still in preschool, and her room was a mess of a couple of styles and thrown together looks. Her twin bed actually still sat on the floor instead of on a bed frame, from way back when she’d roll out of it every night as a toddler. For her 7th birthday, Lucy asked if I’d redecorate her room to better reflect her personality, and I jumped at the chance. With some help from The Land of Nod, I was able to make her “blue mermaid party” room a reality!

Before Bed

Before Dresser & Craft Supplies

The before photos of the room really are sort of pathetic, aren’t they? Just keeping it real, over in Crazy Bananas Land. More proof I am not a home decor person. Originally that tent was fashioned to be a cool hideaway and book area, but it was unfortunately way too big for the space. We tried hanging it over the bed, but the darkness scared her at night and it just looked kind of ragged. The wall hangings over her bed were added later, but they were all mismatched and didn’t have any coherency to them. Her craft area was basically a Rubbermaid tub filled with paint and markers, with no real space to create. Her dresser was one I had in college, but attempted to fancy up using nobs from Anthropologie. The block letters spelling out her name were made by a friend for her nursery, and though we loved them, it was time for them to go.

After Header - Bed

Lucy requested her room be blue, her favorite color. The color she picked out was a VERY bright turquoise, but we convinced her to tone it down a bit. She picked out the mermaid bedding from Land of Nod and we designed the room around it. Lucy loves to swim and dreams of being a mermaid herself, plus the reason she loves blue so much is because it reminds her of the ocean, so the bedding is perfect for her. Early on in this process, I created a mood board to give us an idea of where we wanted to go with the design. Once we were inspired, it was easy to pull together an updated room that was fun and perfect for a seven-year-old mermaid in training!


Lucy’s poster bed was mine as a child, then was handed down to my niece, and now finally to Lucy. The beautiful blue moth wall decal from Land of Nod is one of Lucy’s favorite parts of the room. She angled it just so, as she wanted it to look like it was flying across her wall.


The sidetable, chest of drawers and dresser were all purchased from a local furniture store. The bedside lamp was bought at Wal-Mart, and the sketch of a mom and daughter was purchased for $3 in the frame at a local thrift store. The L and the P (her initials) were in her stocking at Christmas a few years back.


After Jewelry Box


The dresser and giant mirror were specific requests from Lucy. She wanted a space where she could get ready every morning in private, as her two-year-old brother has started to impede on her space. We fancied up the plain white with some fun paper letters spelling out her name from The aged jewelry box was given to Lucy by her aunt, and although the original plan was the polish it up, Lucy decided she liked it better as it was. I agree!


After LON Coloring Organizer

The desk was purchased at IKEA, and my mother-in-law painted an old chair with a sample of the VERY turquoise paint that Lucy originally wanted for her walls as a compromise (Can you imagine that on the walls? Yikes!). We pulled in a lot of the turquoise detailing throughout the room, from picture frame to her lava lamp, which her super-cool dad bought her as a nightlight. The pendant desk lamp from Land of Nod brings it all together, using almost all the colors that are featured throughout the room. The yellow art caddy gives Lu a space for her art supplies that she uses on a daily basis, and it can be easily stashed away in her desk cabinet when little brother’s grubby hands are looking for some crayons to color the walls.

After Desk Chair AG Doll


After LON Print

Here is a little warning to all you DIY mamas out there…make sure your husband knows your DIY plans! Originally, the cork board and the frame for the incredible art print by Lucy’s desk were decorated in fabulous washi tape that I used to cover up their bland black and brown edges. But when I asked my husband to hang them for me, he thought it was protective packaging tape and ripped it all off! Oh well, they still look nice, although I probably will update them again at some point. It wouldn’t be an at home makeover project without a hiccup or two!

After Chest Top with Books

The details of the room are my favorite parts. I am in love with the floor bins I found at Land of Nod, as Lucy is a bit of a clutter bug, and they make clean up easy and stylish. The rainbow felt garland brightens up the darker blackout curtains, which Lucy originally hated, but once they were hanging with the garland, she loved. We found some amazing art on Etsy that we hung on the walls and personalized the space with lots of family photos. Lucy loves reading, so we made a space where she could display her favorite books of the moment on her chest of drawers. The cute XOXO bookends are from Target.

Creating this beautiful space for Lucy was such a pleasure and a joy! I am so happy she finally has a real, put together space to call her own, which truly reflects who she is. I feel like this room is child-like, but will grow with her through the years.

The Land of Nod provided products for this room makeover project, but all opinions are my own. Thanks Land of Nod!!!

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