Land of the Free



I finally did a session for my own babies this year!  I thought a summer patriotic theme would be sweet and I wanted to shoot it in the desert.  The AZ desert has been so picturesque post monsoons!  Desert shoots can have their challenges but also a very unique beauty.   Mosquitoes have been out in full force (and we are lucky that us desert dwellers don’t typically have to fight with bugs very much) so that was a bit of a nuisance but other than that…pretty smooth sailin’.


My four precious ones.  Tanner age 13, Ty age 10, Tori age 6 and Troy age 3.
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Two great things about this spot.  It’s walking distance from Papa and Sweetie’s house and our home is in the foothills of those mountains.


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He’s growing up before my eyes.  So beautiful and so sad for mama.
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Always gigglin’.


Good view of a six year old smile.  🙂
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I did the above session at sunset but decided to get the kids up really early the next day and do a couple more at sunrise in a different spot.  We had to walk up a hill for the view I wanted.  By the time we got to the top, we were so swarmed with mosquitoes that we were miserable.  The kids were doing a frenetic mosquito dance as was I making pictures impossible.  I took this first shot:


And then seconds later…

I don’t like to be bested by much but the mosquitoes won and I called it quits.  I giggle every time I look at above shot though because that is a great representation of my daughter’s pout.  Perfect.

And my nephew reciting the Pledge seems a good way to end this post.  🙂   I love this!



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Back in June, my cousin Katelynn came out from Missouri for a visit with the family.  Our kids LOVE with Katelynn comes to visit and we managed to get in a few days at the beginning and end of her trip (we do have to share her with everyone…unfortunately).  Katelynn graduated from college this year and I thought it would be fun to take a few downtown pictures of her while she was out.  Little did we know, that Comicon was the grand event downtown on the weekend we showed up.  I am sure our expressions reflected our shock and awe as we watched hundreds of costumed folk gather into downtown Phoenix.   What an adventure!   And later, I wanted to KICK myself for not getting pictures of what we were witnessing.  I was in photographer mode I guess and was feeling anxiety over how on earth to get shots of K without superheros and such in the background.    Due to the crowd, excessive walking to avoid the crowd, a six year old, and the heat…we didn’t get a whole lot of shooting down but it’s a memory we will never forget!

Loved having you visit K!!!  Miss you!   XXXOOO

Summer Recap 2014



It is the end of August and I am terribly disappointed with myself for the incredible lack of personal pictures this year.  I have never had a year so bad with my own family photography.  I would like to hope that I can pick up the pace in the last four months but that is doubtful.  I do have a summer session planned at least.



Tori has lost several teeth this summer and got her ears pierced (as of two days ago).  She is looking very SIX.  She will be starting the first grade in September and I expect to have a busy year because 1st grade brings more to the table.  I find teaching K-3 to be the most challenging actually because you are teaching all the fundamentals.



Tori lost her top two teeth on the same day when the dentist pulled them.  He was so good with her that she didn’t realize until she got in the car that she had two teeth missing.  As you can see, the adult tooth was coming in behind.  Sometimes dentists do not extract for that reason but in her case, she was at risk of an under bite if they weren’t extracted asap.  She didn’t have that toothless look for more than a minute though since that adult tooth was already descended.

We have had some interesting tooth fairy conversations this summer because Tanner and Ty were both losing teeth as well.  One night I overheard this:

Ty:  The tooth fairy isn’t real.  It’s mom.  She sneaks money under your pillow when you are asleep.

Tori:  Are you sure about that?  MOM!  Is that true?

Me:  I can’t tell you.

Ty:  Tori.  When she calls the tooth fairy, mom doesn’t even let the tooth fairy talk!

Tori:  Well!  She did last night!  She talked for awhile!

So that is what it came down too?  How much phone air time I allow the tooth fairy?  Only Ty.   Later, when he lost a tooth, he spent a whole day being baffled because he KNOWS he saw me fall asleep in bed BEFORE he got tooth fairy money, so how on earth did that money get there when I was asleep?   Oh the mystery.


The kids all had their well checks.  Tori stats came in at 45.8 inches and 37% and 42 pounds 21%.


Ty and Tori both learned how to swim this summer!  Major accomplishment!


On me buying a Yoga book…

“We should probably skip some parts we can’t do.  It’s gonna be bad!”


Tori to Jamie when cousin Katelynn was visiting and Jamie was taking her out to dinner…

“Jamie!  Have Katelynn back by 9:00 PM!”


“Keep your eyes on the road Mom!” (Talking to Sweetie in the car while driving)


Kids reading a movie rating…

Ty:  What is suggestive themes?

Me:  Sexually inappropriate things usually.

Tori:  Ya.  Like cousin crushes.

Not exactly what I was referring to but….LOL


“It’s too strong for me!” (Meaning it is too heavy)


For the first time, I decided to TRY taking a few more cell phone pictures this year.  I hate cell phone pictures.  Hate them.   BUT…I am learning to appreciate the convenience so here are some from 2014:



Technically, this was 2013.  The only pictures I took at Disney at all.  I was busy being in the moment.  As you can see, Troy has not got over his animal suspicions.



This was Troy after his eye surgery back in January.


Family days at the lake.




A recent family day up north.


Here we have, Troy and cousin Quinn and Troy and cousin Lucy.  As you can see, Troy is the size of a 2 year old and not a 3 year old.  He and Quinn are 6 weeks (3.5 months actual) apart.  He and Lucy are 1 year apart ALTHOUGH, Lucy is in the 95%+ so she isn’t really a fair comparison.  He loves these two girls and both are pretty decent at ordering him around.  LOL.   Images on right are of Ty hitting a solid bulls eye at archery and Tanner doing a helium experiment at home for school.


Tanner will be in the 8th grade this year.  He turned 13 in May so I now have a teenager in the house!  For teen privacy sake, I won’t post his well check stats but he came back pretty average.  He is looking forward to starting soccer again in a month.  His summer love has been fishing.  Watches fishing shows, bought a fishing Xbox game, begs anyone to take him and then he is a die hard that one more cast might bring in the big daddy.  He has been slowly taking on some more babysitting responsibilities for me and that has been a huge help.  I actually got to have lunch with a friend yesterday and Jim and I went to a late movie one night – all with kids safely home with Tanner.   Awesome!  I had to laugh one day though because Troy takes advantage of the situation and talks Tanner into several more songs and books at nap and bed time than I agree too.  He even got Tanner to write and sing him a car song.  “Drive drive drive your car gently down the lane, merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream.”  Unfortunately, Troy is the only one privileged enough to actually hear Tanner sing.  Tanner and I got to playing with DuoLingo this year and I discovered that Tanner has an interest in foreign language.  I ended up buying the Rosetta Stone Spanish which we will begin this year.  I want all my kids to know Spanish.  We are both a little scared of the immersion approach but hopefully we will pick it up.  I took a year of spanish but wasn’t a fan of my spanish teacher and can’t say I got much out of that experience.


Ty will be in 5th grade this year.  My tiniest baby will, no doubt, be my biggest kid.  He is 59.5 inches 92% (wonder what his percentage would be if his actual age was accounted for?) and 78 pounds 58%.  He is so skinny I was surprised to see his weight percentile.  The kid has so little fat on his body.    Looks like Ty might be having surgery this year too.  Last summer, a developmental ped suggested I have his tonsils and adenoids removed.  Now days that is avoided but Ty’s past (and possible present) apnea issues make this a different conversation.  He snores terribly, has huge tonsils, and I strongly suspect he still has some amount of night apnea.  I would feel better, in Ty’s case, if that wasn’t a concern.  I have him scheduled to see an ENT this week and then will get him scheduled for a sleep study.   The Dr. also tested his thyroid, liver and kidney function (thyroid needed to be tested before sleep study) and since I didn’t get a call on it, I am assuming all checked out on that front.


Talking to Papa…

“Papa aren’t you so glad you have a daughter like my mom?!”   LOL.  Loved that.


My boy makes friends everywhere he goes.  He attracts people.  He knows several Circle K clerks by name and there are always bright smiles when Ty walks in.  Circle K by our house has a customer service rating system via monitor set up by the cashiers and Ty has taken to rating the employees a five the second he gets in line (sometimes multiple times).  I am sure they love that too.   I took the kids to the mall one day and had to giggle at how many times Ty got into conversations with various store clerks and then reached out to shake their hand when he left.  Baffled, Tori kept asking me if Ty was supposed to do that.  LOL.  I enjoy watching people interact with Ty.  Neither of us ever know what to expect but it sure is an adventure. Recently, in the grocery store, he struck up conversation with another shopper and they were fully engaged in dinner and recipe discussions.  Too cute.


I got a call from Papa this summer.  He wanted to know why he received a random picture from Ty via email of a teenage girl.  My investigation revealed Ty’s first crush.  Bree Davenport from Disney’s Lab Rats.



I thought this would be a flash in the pan discussion but no…it has lasted the entire summer.  He even asked Uncle Darin to be his best man at his wedding and John Fletcher to be a groomsmen (much to their delight I am sure).

This is old news but since I found the picture on my phone, I wanted to preserve it for future amusement:



For Ty’s 10 birthday this year, he wanted an all boy slumber party.  I decided to do an all girl slumber party simultaneously for Tori’s birthday so I took girls to Sweetie’s and left Jim in charge of all the boys.   Before I left, Jim posted above sign of his planned agenda.  He also created parent permission slips.  (This was a cousin party so it was siblings that had to waive their rights).   My husband had a devilish grin and I laughed.

When I got to my mom’s the phone calls started coming in.   Two things struck me as hilariously funny.  1.  My siblings believed he was for real (on some level).  2.  They ALL signed the waiver anyhow.

This serves as incredible evidence as to the amount of faith they each put in James Paul huh?

I was telling all of them over and over…he is joking!!!!  He isn’t planning any of those things.   But they kept returning, “Doni!  There are piles of soda, and cinnamon, and toilet paper set out!”

I knew this of course.  Jim was taking his gag over the top just to see who would sign the waiver.  Right?   Rigggggghhhhhht????

Joke was on me.   Jim did far more of this list than I suspected.  LOL.  The boys had an epic party.


NO knife throwing contest

YES to soda guzzling

NO blindfolded pin the clippers on cousins head

NO to night hide and seek

YES to toilet papering –  he let them do our home.

YES to ding dong ditch but they actually did NOT have permission for that one.  I think a couple of rascals made up retrieving soccer ball excuses for that one.

YES to cinnamon dragon challenge (though he monitored that and only gave them 1 tsp)

YES/NO to sugar shots.  Jim says “no”.  Some cousins said “yes”.

A party they will not soon forget I am sure.   Only Jim.  I love that no one batted an eye when they left 9 boys with Jim.  (Having said that, I do suspect some will say “Doni, have you met your brothers?!”  Touche.)



Oh has my baby been a rapscallion this summer.  Three really is harder than two.  Anyone watching my facebook posts would have seen that Troy was adding to my greys.   He has done artwork on nearly every door in the house.  Flushed who knows what down our toilet.  Between him and Ty, we keep replacing our silverware over and over and over.  He destroyed my makeup (and my bathroom in the process), blue toothpaste on the carpet, so many spill and mixing disasters I couldn’t even count.  One day, I caught him squirting hand sanitizer into his drink.   Freaking out about that, I took a sip to see what the dilution was.   HORRIBLE!!!   He had no ill effects so I have to assume that unlike his sister (recall the famous Scope saga), he was not prone to take a second drink.


One fine day, he inserted several kitchen utensils including a nail file into my 128 oz oil container.  That was a mess but I was grateful only about a cup got spilled.  That could have been epic had he spilled the entire thing to boot.   I later found him in a timeout corner and nearly panicked.  He put himself there and I knew that couldn’t be good.  I never did discover what mischief prompted that attempt at self discipline.

His little voice is the cutest ever and I really hope that I capture more on video soon.  I love the way he says:

I wuv you mommy.

Dopper – for diaper

He says “t” for “c”

Cake, cookie, can, are all take, tookie, tan.  He calls Quinny “Tinny” and “How tome mom?”

He says D for Th as in Dat instead of That.  (Tori still does this some too actually).

“Dat’s not too toot mom!” – That’s not too cute mom!

Sometimes P is CK as in “I wait uck mom!”  I waked up.

He is finally speaking in short sentences and maturing his communication.  He is talking about his emotions more too.  The other day he couldn’t find his pacy and he said “I sad mom.”   When he found it, I asked him how he felt and he said “I feel better!”  At 3, still behind for sure but DEFINITE progress.  Tanner and I were playing a hidden object game on my kindle this week and he was trying everything to get it into his hot little hands.  Finally he says to Tanner, “Let me try Tanner!  I good at puzzles!”   He is good at puzzles too.  We bought him a Kindle Fire for his birthday with Kindle Free Time Unlimited.  He loves it!  He loves the puzzles and the alphabet games the most.  He has a super long attention span.  All the learning games may give us a head start on K-garten too.  That is a plus for mom.

Speaking of his birthday, we celebrated his third birthday at Aunt Jodi’s house this year with several other June birthday kids.  I made him cupcake Lorax trees for fun.


On his birthday, I was able to make use of the neighborhood Swip Swap and found Legos and Tinker Toys at an awesome price.   I loved it when Troy came carrying in his tin of Tinker Toys to Jim saying “Wook Dad!  I got my hoppy burt tay!”


I am a little bummed that the baby calls me “Mom” instead of “Mommy” most of the time.  When you have older siblings who say “mom”…it is a natural end result I guess.  On the other hand, he uses the word “mom” in most sentences.  That is cute.

“Mom com here!  I show you somefing.”

As I am typing this, I heard him call out to Jim (who was leaving for work after lunch) “Dad!  Bye.  Love you.  Love you too!”   Darling.



As you can see, we haven’t addressed the pacy yet.  He won’t go to college with it. I promise.


Troy’s Well Check went as expected.  He is 35.3 inches and in the 5th percentile for height and 26 pounds (fully dressed) and under 3rd percentile for weight.   I asked the Dr. why the palms of his hands look so wrinkly and he told me that is a common problem with excema babies.  Troy’s excema is significant in the percentage of overall skin that it effects but July and August are good skin months for him.  Spring seems to be the worst but winter is no walk in the park either.

I had the Dr. test his hearing in the office. His hearing seems fine (and I think it is) but he is still so difficult to understand that it makes me at least wonder if he is hearing things differently than he should.  He failed the hearing test but that was no surprise because we were depending on a 3 year old to tell us when he heard a beep.   The Dr. wanted to schedule a Baer exam (electrodes on the head to read brain activity) but when I found out that he would be put under a general anesthesia for that, I slowed that down.  I don’t think I want to go that far at this stage.  We do have an audiology appointment at PCH tomorrow where they may be able to find a happy medium to test him.

I also had an A1C blood panel to test him for potential diabetes.  It need to come back under 5.6 to be in a safe zone and it came back at 5.3.  The range is very narrow so I think 5.3 is a decent number.  I was worried because of the issues I listed in the last post…a lot of sickness this summer, his small size, that 6 week mystery virus that kept prompting acetone or sweet smelling breath, tired baby….etc.    He seems to be okay for now so mama has laid down this concern.  Don’t borrow trouble right?

I think his eyes are looking pretty good and am starting to hope that we can avoid a second surgery.   He wears his glasses around his neck more than they are on but I am trying to get at least 2 hours a day out of him.


Troy shares his Dad’s passion for donuts.  He LOVES donuts.  I have even found him squirreling them away in the bookshelf for later recovery.   The kids were mad recently because he sniped the last piece of chocolate cake.  With his accusers gathered around, he happily stated to mom, “I did it!  I ate it ALL in my tummy!”


One day he put on his dinosaur costume from last Halloween and was trying to scare me.  Playing along, I pretended to be afraid.  This concerned him.   “I am not scared! (meaning “I am not scary”)  I help you!”  He is still my very sensitive little guy.   He is so truly loving and cuddly.  I lucked out in this regard and the baby is truly my baby.  Darin recently was asking me how I could possibly handle that much cuteness in one day.  Hee hee.  He melts every heart because he is just so genuine and loves people.   As Darin said, “When he hugs you, it feels completely genuine.”


When Jim asked about a particular shot in the Dr.s office…

“Dr. hurt me and I cwy wike a baby!”


I don’t love it when I hear this…

“Uh oh!  I makin a mess!”


Due to summer monsoons, my children have been trying to relocate to our bedroom at night.  Tori is driving me crazy with this.  She sneaks in and gets kicked out multiple times at night lately.  Clearly, I haven’t tried hard to truly solve this problem.   Last night, in trying to avoid her (she pulled out a sleeping bag and cot and planted it in the middle of my bedroom during the night), I tripped over the laundry basket and fell into my hope chest.  The morning pain from that event ignited my temper to work harder to ensure proper boundaries tonight.   Troy, does not visit my room at night however.  He crawls in bed with Ty or Tori.  The last couple of nights I have found him in Ty’s bed reading a book.  Ty propped on pillows reading a book on one end and Troy with his tractor pillow, blankets, and a book on the other.   He is insisting I leave his door open at night and I am thinking that it isn’t really about being scared with the door closed so much as wanting a quieter escape.  I giggle every time I see his blonde head dashing down the hall hoping I won’t see him in my peripheral vision.   He is still a napper but lately I have been hearing “I not seepy Mom!”  too often.  I really need him to nap.  Badly.


A couple of weeks ago a cousin of mine came to town.  His name is Troy and coincidentally, his wife (my cousin) is named Lorene (and this is coincidental because my grandparents names are Troy and Lorene).   Anyhow, when he introduced himself to the baby, my Troy was clearly confused and said, “You Troy?  I Troy!”   After it was established that both of them have the name Troy, with wonder my little guy looks up and says, “Are you Poppy?????”

I was shocked!  My Poppy died when Tanner was 18 months old.  Troy was named after him.   I had no idea that my 3 year old son had digested that information until he said that to my cousin.  That was so precious to me.



Not much else to say about our summer really.  The kids and I were sick so many weeks that it made summer fly by too fast.  We did get to have some fun going up north and going to the lake a few times and lots of swimming and family parties but no vacation to speak of.  We are preparing to go up North again for 4 days in a couple of weeks and we are really looking forward to that.   I have been busy this month trying to cram in all my before busy season and school start lists.   Next up is summer kids session and all the prep work necessary to start a new school year.  Last year I had everything planned out week by week and we stayed on target all year so it was well worth the investment on the front end.   The monsoons have been quite destructive this summer.  We went up to the Yarnell area this weekend and when we returned home our neighborhood had a lot of downed trees.  Thankfully we were spared.  Yesterday we got the average year rain fall in less than an hour!  This was significant because we have been in a drought and we really needed the rain BUT getting it all at once presents its own set of issues.   The flash floods were terrible.  In fact, Nate and Ali’s  parents may have lost their home in New River (two feet of standing water on the ground floor).  Some of the worst of it happened within a mile of us.  I was reading facebook and noticed a picture someone posted of a flash flood on I-17 that was like a small river flowing south bound.  I recognized the foot bridge near our home.   I haven’t seen water like that in two decades.  Phoenix does not handle flooding well.

This first shot shows that the southbound side of the freeway was under water near Dixiletta.   Apparently, Skunk Creek and the Aqua Fria both flooded over.

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What a big mess BUT all of us valley photographer’s (I know, I know, photographers in this sentence is plural – not possesive!  When blogging, I type fast and don’t take much time to proof read.  Someday I will read back through all of this and be really horrified) photographers are humming a happy tune because this means green days are on the way.  Yay for that!


Off to go scout my location for my own kids summer session!  Wish me luck.








Jacob {Phoenix Newborn Photography}


This is “little” Jacob.   Weighing in at a mere 7 pounds 14 oz, he was tiny compared to his 10+ pound older brother.   Caleb was born in 2012 and I loved his “tire” picture (dark haired baby on a stack of tires) so we had to recreate an inspired tire picture for baby brother.   I have been grateful for the help of J and C’s Daddy twice now because he helped me engineer the tire setup once again.


Jacob’s mama is a long time Winnie the Pooh lover and she painted that ADORABLE prop.
Caleb may be familiar because he has appeared on my blog several times now.  Love this little toddler.  He took to call baby brother Jacob “cub” while Jacob was in the womb and it stuck.  As a result, we needed several “Cubbie” shots.   You know, Tanner, Ty, Tori, and Troy can be quite the tongue twister names some days but I must say that so is Caleb and Jacob.  I think I will be calling this duo the wrong names for a good long time (as I do my own children).


The A family loves the beach in the summer.  Since Jacob was a summer baby, they crafted the surfboard for his session.  I thought they did a fantastic job on it.
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Jacob’s Dad is a mechanic so he hauled in a tool shelf and other accessories for us.
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Melts my heart.


I am having trouble choosing a favorite but this lamb shot may be the one for me.  Love love that sweet little kissable face.  Pure baby bliss right there.

Mickey ears are also a must for the A family.  🙂   Caleb had them for his session too.
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Black and White or color?  I couldn’t decide.  Loved both versions.

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When we told Jenna the plan for a tool heart, she quickly offered to fashion it stating, “I have an eye for these things”.  After she was done, I was quick to agree.  She does.


Can’t wait to see this little man again in about 7 months!   Love you all sweet A family.

Mackenzie {Phoenix Senior Photography}



Mackenzie is my sister Brooke’s niece.  So that makes me a bit of a surrogate Aunt too right?  I have known this beautiful young lady since she was born after all.

Believe it or not, Mackenzie was very nervous about her session.  While driving to our spot, she was downright fluttery.   She had no need for apprehension either.  She is such a natural.  Mackenzie is a real and completely authentic young woman.  No pretense.  Her energy, zest for life, and infectious joy spilled out over her whole session.  In fact, with the exception of Ty, Mackenzie may have the most joy filled spirit I have encountered.  The glass was half full on every topic (and Mackenzie and I can chat up a storm so we covered an abundance of topics both the mundane and significant).  I left feeling like I had been given the gift of the evening.  Time with Mackenzie is very well spent.
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Sometimes the wind can drive ya a little crazy.  Sometimes it is AMAZING.

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And we were even blessed with a beautiful Arizona sunset.

See what I am talking about?  She is radiant and her joy is contagious.


Much love to you sweet girl.  Wishing you the very best in this new and amazing season of life.  XXXOOO.