Mommy + Buddy Portraits | Maternity + Family

"She sings the tune without the words 
And never stops - at all."
Emily Dickinson
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Four Septembers ago I was figuring out airplane tickets to visit Oklahoma for the first time and Becca was pregnant.  I didn't know it.  I hadn't met Caleb yet.  I had some from friends in the middle of the country I wanted to visit.  Right before my trip I got an e-mail from Becca.  She and her husband were my small-group leaders at church and all of us young'ins' loved to inquire and tease about their someday-baby.  This potential child was affectionately named "Bacon" by us.  After four or five years of marriage, there was a Bacon.  And after all this time!  She was in Oklahoma!  And we weren't altogether to celebrate!  It had been a long haul, but a soul was made and lived inside the caves of my good friend.  But I didn't know any of this...  

...Until I got Becca's e-mail, right before my trip, after Bacon had already gone to heaven.  We hadn't really considered a miscarriage.  Somehow when it takes a "little longer" to get pregnant it doesn't seem fair that those mama's should miscarry.   (Of course it never seems "fair."  Souls and human life don't come and go like making a football team.)  She was sad, but gracious and full of Becca-kindness.  She said she was grateful a friend was coming to town so she and Dre wouldn't feel quite so alone.  He was their Apple Seed Baby, small and good.  He was and is missed.  

For Christmas that year I bought Becca a silver apple-necklace (the size of the fruit's seed).  The month that Caleb asked me to be his girlfriend was the month we found out about a Baby Bear, Apple Seed's little brother.  Caleb moved to Maryland and we helped assemble IKEA furniture and fold clothes for Baby Behr's nursery.  The night he was born Caleb and I slept on the hospital floor.  I was the second friend to meet and hold him.  On our wedding day Behr was a chubby, sweet ring-bearer.  10 months later Behr slept on the same hospital floor while Becca helped us through my labor with Rowdy.

By that Christmas there was a Tiny Baby, little brother to Apple Seed and Big Boy Behr.   Becca and Dre were back to Oklahoma for work.  Meanwhile my mom was closing her chapter in this world, and when she died a sick, pregnant Becca flew back to Maryland with Behr (who wore a dragon costume to my mom's funeral) to be there for me.  A few weeks later, in Oklahoma, Caleb and I found out there was a Baby Ryan.  I was so excited to be pregnant with my best friends (Janet was pregnant, too, with Bobby.)  We all three talked about being huge and bloated at the county fair, newborn Halloween costumes and "three little turkey's" at Thanksgiving.  But before our dreams had a chance to match reality, both Bobby Boy and Ryan Day went to heaven with their buddy, Apple Seed (all being dotingly cared for by Mama Bear, I'm sure).  We weren't pregnant together anymore.  There would be no "triplet" pictures during the holidays.  Now all three of us had babies in heaven.  

Caleb and I buried our baby in Oklahoma, a few nights ago we sent up balloons on Bobby's due date, and now we all wait.  We all wait to meet Tiny Baby.  He's shows us the stubbornness of hope, the gift of anticipation.  But any story points to the story behind it.  And the story behind Tiny Baby is a  big one.   Today I want to make a big deal about his mother.  

She's the Friend of Friends, Giver of Givers.  She has been juggling fire-pins and keeping more than one family going.  She works part-time on top of being a full-time supporter, break-giver, human-grower, wife, listening-ear, and mourner.  Her little Behr Boy loves her, and is an intelligent, creative, weird, chatty lovebug.   They have such a playful, strong relationship.  They really are friends.  In the middle of all the chaos this year has been, she methodically saved pennies and dreamed ideas to make her son a special new room before the baby comes.  There isn't a single item in his space that doesn't have meaning and heart behind it.  "I go to prepare a place for you."  (Oh.  And when I lived with Dre and Becca while Caleb and I were dating, this was my bedroom.  See?  Stories intersect everywhere.)

It was only right to do something a little different than formal maternity pictures.  Instead Dre wanted pictures of the special relationship and big love Becca and Behr share.  Here's to new stories, the thing with feathers, heritage, heaven, tear soup, outie-belly-buttons, hazelnut eyes, hazelnut coffee, bacon, washi tape and mama's with their little boys.

“Sometimes it doesn't occur to boys that their mother was ever young and pretty.  I couldn't stand it if you boys were inconsiderate, or thought of her as if she were just somebody who looked after you.  You see I was very much in love with your mother, and I know there's nobody like her...”
(Willa Cather, My √Āntonia)
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"And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm."

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The Little Ladies | Portraits

“behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.”  
bob dylan
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Just about two years ago I took my sisters out for portraits on the beach.  They moved away to Florida, so when I came to visit I couldn't help but to steep in their beautiful childhood.  Being away and then being with gave me artist's clarity and I wanted to photograph them "as they were."  Mom watched on glowingly.  We ran around the sand until the sun set and once it was dark we ate tacos and laughed.  They were free, funny, best of friends and shockingly engaging (I crave their social skills).   The setting of a twilight beach was utopian and timely.

But now, they are different.  They are older and they are wiser and they ever-more engaging and they watched their mother deteriorate before they're innocently round eyes at only ten and twelve years old.  As they traveled with us across the country on a recent road trip, I was able to "people watch" them in concentrated doses and I had the itch to document them again -- how they are now.  All trip I talked about doing a shoot but it was never 'right.'  As we drove through Wyoming, with it's hard, repetitive, self-shrinking constance, I knew it was time.  We had driven through the night and for 16+ hours, but as soon as we arrived to our hotel I threw them dresses and we ran out to the neighboring pastures.

These little girls have held cold, mottled feet and wept into the chest of an unresponsive mother.  They've caught the stomach bug and cleaned themselves up alone, wishing to crawl into bed with the best nurse of all.  They've witnessed the various outbreaks and processes of other grieving family members, which is sometimes scary.  And they sing along to "The Lonely Goatherd" like sparkling buffoons, purposely off-key and definitely amused.  And my goodness: do they know how to savor and dissect a delicious meal (especially Chicago deep-dish pizza.)  The mix of severe and whimsical I see in their faces, watch in their actions is powerful to me.  I am a proud big sister and I am moved to present my silly, smart, sad, strong, shockingly engaging, happy, all-too-grown-up sisters:
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(I think Mama Bear still looked on glowingly.)

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to book your own i'm kristen family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, or oklahoma to dallas areas