Matfin Family

Meeting friends of friends is the best!  Last week, I met a family whom I’ve often heard about, but had never met.  My dear friend Carrie and Tammy grew up together in our little town of Gold River.  Since moving to the Comox Valley, I don’t often run into people that know me, but last fall, Tammy recognized me and stopped me and said ‘Hello!’  It was so nice to finally meet her.

We planned to get together for Dallas’ grad photos this spring.  I always love when a family infuses some of their personality into our sessions.  Quite honestly, I believe it is one of the things that makes my sessions so unique.  Going to a location that has lots of personality and bringing meaningful things along, makes our sessions magic.  

I know Tammy knew who I was, but during our session, I asked her if Carrie told her that I was crazy…?  Nope?  Well, I guess that’s just the fun part that my clients get to find out on their own.  haha!!  :)  Crazy, in a very funny, silly, I will make you laugh, kind of way.  Thanks Matfin family for such a fun evening.  One day we’ll get together again and you’ll see that the crazy really only comes out when I have my camera in my hand!  :)

xo Niki

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 Handsome Dallas

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I may or may not have been acting crazy here.  ;)

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Love families that do special things together and let me incorporate their interests into our session.   

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 Brother photos are my favourite!

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 What a stunning family!

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Five People Twelve Times//01.14

2014.  New year.  New goals.  New projects.  Fresh new beginnings.  I always love the beginning of the year.  Love looking forward and dreaming about what is to come.  All of the possibilities available and that’s exciting to me!  Last year I set some big goals and dreamed some big dreams.  The year before, same thing but different.  2013, my 40th year, was big for me on so many levels.  2012 was huge for our family.  New home.  New community.  New puppy.  What does 2014 have in store for us? We’re excited to see.  :)

The first month of the new year came and went in a flash.  We did a 30 day smoothie challenge, got back into the daily school routine and I started a couple of projects.  I have not failed at these, but haven’t been posting as much as I had hoped to.  Still taking a photo each day, just not blogging as much as I had hoped.  That will all fall into place I am sure.  :)  We started a memory jar, where we write all of our favourite moments on a piece of paper… those ones we don’t want to forget.  And, at the end of the year, will sit down together and read all of the sweet memories.  These are not big-memory filled-week long-vacations… these are those tiny, fleeting moments we don’t want to forget.  Like a little boy giggling in the night during a dream.  Like, crazy long uno games together.  Those kind of things.  The jar sits on a table in the hallway, and I have seen all of my family members sneak up to it and grab a slip of paper to record a special moment.  I can’t wait to read them all!!  :)  I went skating with Tommy, we built moonscapes with Owen and planned science projects with Seany.

We celebrated this month, wonderful accomplishments, and the Flynn family was in the paper 2 weeks in a row!  You can read all about it here… and here… 

As I have done in the past, these monthly posts will include a photo of our family.  I have a super sweet one to share that was taken just a couple of weeks before January.  Here’s the crazy Flynns with Santa.  

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Much love to you all.  So thankful to be documenting our family’s memories, again.  

xo Niki

Project 365 ~ Week Two

Week two brought routine, which we have all been craving (well, maybe not all of us… ) Back to work, school & back to homework… and lots of fun times too!

Sleepy puppy after first run with Mom in a long time & patterns and light in my office

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 Creating together with lego & making plans for a afternoon get together

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 Tickle monster… it’s a weekly event!  I just love that Andy’s wearing his #1 Daddy t-shirt.  Cause he is!

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 Owen the chef enjoying breakfast with Dad & chilly boys warming up after showers & before school

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Watching pastry for our turkey pot pie.  Three boys who love to cook with their Mom

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Project 365 ~ Week one

This year I have decided to do a project.  One that will be easy at times, and sometimes difficult, but will be SO worth it!!  In the past, I have done a blog each month that included a photo of the 5 of us.  I had to be in it.  It was called 5 people 12 times.  I am so incredibly thankful for the time that I committed to that project as it gives me a place to see where we were, what we were doing and how our little family was changing.  I am comitting to doing that again this year.  :)  But, in addition, I will do another project as well…

Life is so busy and sometimes we get lost in the every day stuff.  Laundry, work, dishes, homework, cleaning… the stuff that will always be there.  And in this, we miss, or forget about the GOOD stuff.  The stuff that won’t always be there.  The GOOD stuff, that we will miss when it is gone.  And, it goes very quickly.  The stuff that matters.  Hugs, cuddles, triumphs, stumbles, missing teeth, firsts, pillow forts, lego towers, make your own pizza nights, favourite teddies… the things that as our kids grow up, start to slip away.

This year I will take a photo a day.  With my big camera (and sometimes my phone… after all, the best camera is the one that’s with you!)  A photo a day of something that I am grateful for.  And, sometimes that may be the laundry couch, or something as simple as the hooks that the boys backpacks hang on.  But it will be a photo.  And each week I will share them here.  You see, as a photographer, I have lots and of photos of other people.  Some hanging on my wall in my office, all organized on my hard drives and printed for someone to love.  But, I have little of my own sweet family.  They all live on hard drives. Waiting for their day to be printed, and bound together in a book, and loved.  And, this year… that will all change.  This year… the Flynn Family will have their photos printed.  Their vacations bound into a book.  And, their everyday lives documented.  I am excited to do this project.  Excited to get to December 31 and have 365 photos to bind into their own story. The story of 2014.  I’d love it if you followed along… and maybe even take a photo a day of your sweet family.

Week One

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 Sleepy movie afternoons after staying up all night with our besties & starting a green smoothie challenge

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Ham & scalloped potatoes and a hubby who made them & yummy homemade granola

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Parcels packed for people we love, sunny days & fresh flowers, & a baking buddy helping the night before school make cinnamon buns

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Family traditions & 3 sweet boys with so much personality 

See you next week! 

xo Niki

Dream Big!

It’s 5:30 am.  I can’t sleep.  My mind and heart is full of the events of yesterday and I just need to share.

It’s incredible when you set you mind to do something… you can do anything!! 

Yesterday, I ran a half marathon in Hawaii.  In some of the most breathtakingly beautiful surroundings I have ever seen.   It was amazing.  It was hard.  It was emotional. The terrain was rugged.  It was hot.  It was fun.  And it was something I had never even dreamed I could do prior to this year.

In January, I signed up to do Bootcamp two times a week with Sarah Seads from Equilibrium Lifestyle Management. A google search for ‘fitness challenges Comox Valley’ lead me to her and I am forever greatful!   I had committed to twice a week, and a full on fitness challenge where I recorded what I ate, how much I slept, how much water I drank and how often I did cardio, resistance training and stretching.  That first 5am alarm rang, and I was ready to go.  Excited for my first class.  Excited to see the changes that I could make in 10 weeks.  That 10 weeks would end just before I turned 40 and that in itself was a motivator for me.  Turning 40 had me a little bit afraid, I am not going to lie.  But, I knew that committing to this challenge would lead me to that ‘day’ and I would be too busy thinking about taking care of me, to worry about the approaching “40”.

The challenge was amazing.  I loved it.  I loved bootcamp and I started to love early mornings.  5am alarms.  And, if you know me AT ALL, you know simply how crazy that in itself is.  I’m a night owl.  Typically working till 2 or 3am.  But this all switched for me.  I saw great results during that 10 weeks, both physically, cardiovasularly (that’s probably not even a word!) and emotionally.  I had accomplished something great and I was proud.  Turns out there were 4 other amazing people who were incredibly proud of their Mommy, and they got me something GREAT for my birthday to show me that!

I remember exactly where I was standing when Sarah mentioned it in early February.  “Team ELM will be travelling to Oahu to take part in the XTERRA World Championship Trail Race this fall.”  My ears perked up.  There was a 5k, a 10k and the championship 21k course.  My first thought was, I could go as the official team photographer. :)  I told Andy about it when I got home.  Since doing the Great Walk the first time, I had always wanted to do a ‘destination’ event.  I mean who wouldn’t love to go to a wonderful place to complete an event.  Then you just enjoy your time there afterwards.  As time passed, I thought, I could totally do the 5k! (I was also taking the ‘learn to run clinic’ at the same time and 5k seemed totally doable to me at that point.)  Time passed, I got stronger and more fit, and couldn’t stop talking about this event.  But, I was afraid.  Afraid that I couldn’t do it.  Afraid that I would let my ‘team’ down, because I was so slow.  Afraid to even think I was strong enough to do it.  So I talked about it as a ‘wouldn’t that be fun if only I wasn’t a slowpoke who can’t run’ event’.  And even the day before my birthday when I sat on the deck with my beautiful aunt having tea, I mentioned it, but never actually thought that anything would come of it.  I mean, I couldn’t run.  I could maybe run 5k, but that’s a long way to travel to run 5k.

But, in the meantime, my sweet husband was making a call to Sarah.  Telling her that I kept talking about this event. Asking her if she thought I could do it.  And signing me up.  BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER!!  40 didn’t seem so scary now!  I had a renewed love for fitness, a 5k training plan that had just finished and a super exciting race to look forward to in Hawaii!!  :)  And at that point, quite honestly, I was going to do the 5k.

As time passed I thought ‘maybe I could do the 10k.’  That was stretching it for me.  The day in May I paid Sarah for the balance of the training program for Oahu, I said “I’m thinking I’m gonna do the 10!  And Sarah replied, “I’m totally signing you up for the 21… you can do it!”  That day, on the way home, I had tears in my eyes.  But those were greatful tears.  Thankful tears.  And tears of disbelief.  I had Andy and Sarah and so many others around me who believed in me.  Much more than I believed in myself.   That’s a pretty powerful thing.  Pretty amazing thing, and something I am so greatful for. 

Fast forward to August 17th.  The first offical Team Oahu meeting and start of our training plan.  Oh goodness I was nervous.  And excited.  We had a 14 week training plan to follow.  As I read down the page and saw the long runs getting progressively longer my heart started to race.  ‘What on earth am I doing here?’  22k?  That’s a long way to run!  And the disbelief started to creep in.  But as Andy reminded me on many, many occasions over the coming months… ‘Sarah is a great trainer, and she is going to train you and prepare you to do this… don’t be afraid, just do the training and you will be ready!’  And, I was!

Race morning came.  Team jerseys were on.  Tummy butterflies were flying around like crazy.  And I was excited/ nervous/ scared/ happy/ overwhelmed/ and every other emotion you could feel.  We got our numbers pinned on, took our team photo, and got ready for our warm up.  As we stood on the road, ready to head out for our pre-race run, music started to play.  It was the Biggest Loser theme song, (which gets me everytime I hear it) and when I heard the phrase “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” my eyes welled up with tears, I got choked up and I felt it.  Felt the most amazing chest swelling sense of pride ever.  I was so proud of myself.  I had done all the training, the preparations, and here I was standing, on Kualoa Ranch getting ready to run a half marathon with a team of amazing women.  I was PROUD.  Just to be there.  It was incredible!  And when I turned around Sarah said, “Why are you crying? Are you okay?  Are you having fun?”  To which I replied, “Yes.  I’m okay, and this is amazing.”  I was totally okay, not scared for one second, I just stood there and took it all in, the sights, the sounds the smells, the feeling of being a part of an amazing team, and the enormity of it all.  THIS was huge!  It was a pretty great feeling!  And, yes… I cried all over again as I wrote that!  It’s pretty cool.  Cause now, I’ve actually finished the race, and there’s a whole gamut of emotions that I feel following that!  That will be another post!  :)

I could go on forever about this process.  The event and all of it.  And I just may.  In another post.  But, what I was feeling as I woke at 5:30 was nothing short of amazing.  My heart is full, and I am excited to share.  Excited to tell you that anything you set your mind to, you can do!  Believe in yourself, and if you aren’t quite there yet, know that you have an amazing network and support crew of people around you that will, and already do, believe in you.  You really do! 

Make a goal, and say it out loud.  It may be a whisper at first.  For me it was… I didn’t want to tell anyone that I had signed up for a half marathon, because I didn’t believe I could do it.  And I definitely couldn’t handle if someone said, or even thought, “What??? That’s crazy!  You’re not a runner!” 

So I whispered it to one person, and then another, and another, and before I knew it I had this amazing group of people cheering me on.  Not one of them said “You’re crazy”  every single one of them said “Good for you, go for it!!”  And then I started saying it out loud, “Yep, I’m a new runner, and I am travelling to Oahu to run a half marathon!”  and the cheering got louder.  And stronger.  And I believed more and more.  So, know that if there is ANYTHING you want to do.  However crazy it may seem.  Just do it.  And know that you are braver, and stronger and more amazing than you believe you are.  You are incredible and I am cheering for you.  So if you need someone to whisper to… I’m here!

Love to all… thanks for sharing this with me!  Once I get home, I will post photos for sure!  For now, I’m off to enjoy the beach with the 4 greatest supporters of all! 

Niki  xoxo

Family

Family.  The most important thing.  But, when you are like we are, you live very far away from your family, and that’s hard. There’s a line though that this cute crew has crossed with us and we are so thankful.  That line between friends & family. Friends who are family.  Who spend every Christmas together, and every New Years eve, and day, and make memories, and traditions and who we love like crazy.

I have known Ron as long as I have known Andy.  And, that’s a long time!  And sweet Shannon and I go way back to the first day of University.  That’s pretty long ago too!  We were talking the other day about how wonderful it is that all of our kids have known each other since the day they were born.  As our families went from two couples, to two couples who have 8 beautiful children between us… we have shared many memories, many dreams, many laughs, many apple turkeys, and many cups of tea.  I simply adore this sweet family and am so thankful to call them my family too.

So much I could say about these people.  I could go on for days.  But I won’t.  I’ll just show you the beauty that shines through each of them and why I love them all so much!

Niki  xox

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The boys!

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 Sweet Hudson… the only girl in our crew.  Love her so much!

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 Cute kiddos!

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Cute parents!

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Love you so much MacLeods!

xo Niki

Sillycakes!

So, I believe all of my clients are sweet.  But, just last week I may have worked with my sweetest clients yet!  I was thrilled to spend the day with Sarah from Sillycakes and photograph (and maybe even eat) some of her delectable gluten free goodies.

Sarah makes the most amazing gluten free goodies you have ever tasted.  Seriously.  My first cupcake was at our bootcamp wind-up, and I was absolutely amazed that it was gluten free.  I may or may not have had more than one.  :)   I personally have tried a few varieties of her cupcakes, her cookies, and breads… every single one of them have been delicious!  So yummy!!  And, when I brought some of my subjects home after our session, Sean exclaimed, “This is the best cupcake I have ever had!”  (and in our family, Sean is the connoisseur of all things sweet!)  

Sarah too, is as sweet as can be!  If you want to be in the know, and find out first about what she’s got on the go, pop by and follow her on her facebook page here.  I promise you that you will love all of the gluten free goodness.  Promise!!   

Here’s some of the sweetness!  Sarah & Sillycakes are located inside Carmie’s Cafe in Cumberland, and she is there from Tuesday to Saturday.  Gluten free peeps, and all lovers of beautiful, delicious baking, rejoice!  Sarah’s got something on the go that I am sure you will LOVE!!  And, if there’s something special that you’re looking for, just ask… she does custom orders too!

xo Niki

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This brownie was delicious, and disappeared faster than you can say “gluten free brownie.”

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Gorgeous breads & baguettes

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The prettiest, tastiest, lemon cupcakes.  One of my favourites.  Sean’s too!  :)

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Pie!

You know what I want to know…?

Where the term “easy as pie” comes from.  Because for me… pie is NOT easy!

About 15 years ago, a girlfriend at university asked me if I would like some cherries from her tree.  My thought was, “Sure… I’ll bake Andy a pie when he gets home tonight from camp.”

Now, I had never baked a pie before.  But, hey!  Making a cherry pie from scratch sounded like a GREAT idea!

Let’s just say, it went less than perfectly.  I had cherries and pits and flour and crumbs and measuring utensils EVERYWHERE! The cherries were a nightmare to pit, the pastry didn’t go so well either, and I burned it to top it all off.  My sweet, loving husband when he got home and saw the scene, and my frustration after about what felt like an 8 hour ordeal (probably more like 3) said, “Sweetie, why didn’t you just buy a crust and a can of pie filling?”  And then, I started crying.  Flour covered face, and shirt, cherry pits everywhere, stained fingers and countertop… I buried my head in his chest and sobbed… “I just. wanted. to. do. something. nice for youuu…. I know you like pie…. I had this bag of cherries… and. and. it didn’t turn out!!!”  We still laugh about it.  And, last Christmas I got a cherry pitter in my stocking!  Wahoo!!   And, I haven’t baked a pie from scratch since.

Until Today.

Yesterday on the ferry we saw lemon meringue pie and I was reminded of an episode of a cooking show where the girl made a lemon pie from scratch.  It was SO EASY!!  So tonight, after supper, about 8pm, I decided that I would make a pie for dessert!  

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It was kind of a re-enactment of the incident of 1998.  The crust wouldn’t roll out properly.  I had to piece it together in the pan. I forgot to leave the eggs out to room temperature.  My lemons had seen better days…  I was having a bit of a time in the kitchen.

Sweet Owen, sensing my frustration, just said to me, “Mommy, it’s like anything… you just need to practice until you get it perfect.”  I guess 2 pies in 15 years doesn’t count as practicing.  I LOVE baking… I would bake crumbles, cakes, cookies and muffins all day long.  Pies.  Not so much.

Nothing really crazy happened witht this one, except that it took WAY longer than it took that girl on TV!!  ;)  And, I’m seriously like a whirlwind in the kitchen.  Thank goodness I’ve got a big one!

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And, thank goodness for my sweet helper.  Who not only spoke words of encouragement, but helped out a lot.  He loves lemon pie maybe even more than I do.  

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After we finally finished at 10:30, the clean up began, and so did the waiting.  Who knew you had to wait for 5 hours for the lemon to cool?  Not this girl!  Especially not when I decided to make ‘dessert’ at 8pm!  I’m half thinking I’ll set an alarm for 3:30am to get up and to try it out!

Now, when morning came… this pie was calling all of our names.  And… it was totally worth the wait!

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Pastry was flaky.  Perfect texture of the lemony goodness dotted with specks of tart lemon rind.  Lovely meringue with such a sweet flavor and delicate texture.  It was AMAZING!!  The boys all said, “Mama… you did good!”  

And that… I would have to agree!  

Lemon Meringue pie will be happening again at THIS house in the near future!  YUM!!!

AND… maybe I’ll even tackle a cherry one too!

xox N

And, in case you were wondering… Wikipedia says -  As easy as pie is used to describe a task as pleasureable and simple.  It does not refer to the making of the pie, but rather to the act of consuming it, which is usually a simple and pleasureable experience.

:)

Location + Love

One thing that is important to me when planning your session, is to make it feel like ‘you.’  I want as much as possible to have your images reflect who you are as a family.  

Another thing that I do when preparing is go out location scouting.  This usually involves driving around, walking on beaches, looking at pretty light… it’s all quite enjoyable.  When getting ready for Tanya and Greg’s session this past week, I spent time doing all three.  I walked all along the beach in Royston, looking for the prettiest light and location for their sweet family.  As I walked, I found the perfect spot.  I looked up from the beach to mark where I was so that I could come back to it after my lovely evening stroll on the beach.  When I got back and walked up off of the beach, turns out that this perfect spot I had found, was directly across the street from their house (and at the time, I didn’t know that). 

I believe everything happens for a reason.  I must have known intuitively that this beautiful location was where this sweet family spends so many of their days.  We had such a lovely evening.  Rain was threatening to get us, but it held off until the very end.  Their sweet puppy was so wonderful and easy to photograph, and their cat was equally wonderful in it’s attempts to avoid me.  One may say that Pretzel the cat was the perfect ‘photobomber’.  Loved every bit of it!  But I did catch the photobombing kitty in a few shots… I’m sneaky like that!  ;) 

Such a wonderful evening with a wonderful family.  Thank you all so much… Enjoy! 

xox Niki

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I love it when we all have fun, and laugh together!  Oh and look, there’s Pretzel!

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One of my favourites!

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Sweetness…

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Happy dances!

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Simply gorgeous.  What a beautiful place to live!

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Emily ~ Graduation

A random day at the beach.  Grad photos?  Absolutely!

Any day is a good day to have photos taken.  And, if you’re like Emily, that random day means you get to wear your gorgeous grad dress twice.  And, we all know how I feel about wearing pretty dresses more than once!  

What a sweet family.  We started our session all dressed up, then switched gears and had some fun family time on the beach. The light was absolutely beautiful… almost as much as this family.

Sweet Emily.  I remember the day I met you and just how sweet, and teeny-tiny you were.  You have grown into a stunningly beautiful young lady who has big plans and a bright future ahead of you.  All the best to you sweet girl… I look forward to hearing all about your adventures.  

xo Niki 

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Look at those shoes!

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What a gorgeous family!

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 Beach time!

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 One day, I want a photo just.like.this. of my family

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Thank you all so much for such a fun evening!  

xo Niki