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May 26, 2020

When Henry was just a baby, I posted about some of our favorite children’s books. Perhaps obviously, at that time, we were solidly in board books, but we have always been a family who reads and our book collection has grown and grown and grown over the years. Currently, my kids are 2 and 5 so, while my 2 year old still enjoys some board books, she’s entering the full-on picture book phase. And my 5 year old, now a self-taught and avid reader, is moving into chapter books, but he still loves a good stack of picture books (doesn’t every kid?). So, while this list cannot possibly be complete, I have compiled it based on both of their shared interests at the present time. In other words, these are books that both kids love to read.

For parents and grandparents trying to grow their own home libraries, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years of collecting:

  1. Hardcover books are more expensive, but they are worth the extra money! Hardcover books get read more because the spine is clearly visible on the bookshelf. Softcover books tend to get hidden in the shelves and most don’t even have a spine so the only way to find out what they are is to pull them out and look at the cover. We always read the hardcover ones first because the spine is what my kids see and read when they are picking out stories from the shelves. They also hold up better in overall use so factor in longevity, especially if you plan on having or have more than one child.
  2. Always check consignment shops for books. They are so cheap (!!) and are usually still in decent to good condition. I know our favorite authors so it’s easy to scan through quickly and see if there are any books that we’d like.
  3. I keep a list of books we love but we don’t own yet on Amazon where it’s super easy to keep tabs on any sales or price shifts.
  4. Books are a great reward/incentive instead of toys. We have plenty of toys, but if I have to choose between the two, I’ll any day spend money on books over toys.
  5. The best way to find your favorite books is to use your library! Books that we keep repeatedly checking out are books that we usually end up buying. We have checked out thousands of books at our local library and we keep finding new favorites every time!
  6. Lastly, pick and read stories to your kids that include a variety of ethnicities and cultures! The best way to start teaching inclusivity and anti-racism to really young kids is with books that show lead characters in a variety of skin colors, clothing and hair styles, and traditions.

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April 27, 2020

This family was so fun to meet this past November. Lincoln had reached out to me on Instagram last fall to see if I would be available to photograph her family over Thanksgiving when they would be visiting from out of state. It ended up working out perfectly with my schedule and we were lucky to be able to use any of the space and buildings on the property that they are renting. It was a really dreary day and fairly chilly out, but everyone brought cheerful attitudes and followed the philosophy that I think every family should adopt: “There are only two days that your mother gets every year…Mother’s Day and photo day. You smile and do whatever she says on those days.”

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April 16, 2020

I shot their wedding on an unusually cold day in October 5 years ago and I got to photograph their family a few years ago (first here and then here) when Jackson was much smaller and Beckham wasn’t born yet. So getting to hang out with this sweet family again was, simply put, a joy. Beckham was at the age of not being shy at all and had plenty of smiles to give and, oh, if I could’ve just held him for hours; he’s the squishiest baby I’ve ever held. Jackson was a little shy, but as long as he was close to his parents and his lion, Taggy, he did just fine.

I met up with this family at Wilson’s Apple Orchard in Iowa City on a beautiful fall afternoon. With little kids, I try to keep sessions fairly simply and really relaxed and I knew Emily and Shamus would appreciate that and love the realness of the interaction photos. As a bonus, we got to end the session with them picking a few apples and then grabbing hot apple turnovers.

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April 14, 2020

The last time I photographed the Prieskorns, there was a lot more height difference. Funny how that works.

Melissa and I met years ago at the gym and we (normally, but not right now obviously) see each other several times a week. She brings lots of sarcasm and humor everywhere she is and, let me say, it was a delight to see her daughters also carry this trait. This was the only family I photographed this past fall with older kids and it was so much fun to see the camaraderie and sarcasm that the girls brought to the session. fossil_gorge_family_emilycrall_photo_1903.jpg
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April 13, 2020

Of all the family sessions I did, this was the only first-time family. Mary Kate had found me on Instagram and reached out about family photos. Since meeting them, we’ve discovered that we work out at the same gym and our youngests are the same age, providing some fun play dates. This family has a heart of gold and are so generous with their love. When we couldn’t make it to a birthday party for Jesus right before Christmas because the stomach bug hit Henry, they dropped off leftover treats, crafts, and reindeer food for Christmas Eve. It has been such a treat getting to know the White family and I love that it can be traced back to social media, which, for all its failings, has brought some truly wonderful friendships into my life.

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April 8, 2020

Just look at this sweet girl! She grew so much in a year! (I know, I know. As children do… Look at her itty bitty little self from the year before.) Charlotte was a little hesitant about me at first, but with enough of my antics, she started smiling and it was completely worth it! Also, how much do we all just want her polka dot vest?

Corey and Sara are another former wedding couple of mine (coming up on 4 years, you guys!!) and they are just a delight to be around. (Also, just spent a solid 10 minutes scrolling through their wedding photos and reminiscing! Their wedding day was so, so hot and humid, but it was also just so perfect in every way. I can’t stop smiling.)

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