Christmas Eve & Christmas 2015

I can't quite believe that Christmas has already come and gone again. I look so forward to it all year and then I blink. Gone. This year was a good one, one for the books. Having a child around at Christmas time makes it even better. This time last year, Marin wasn't walking yet and wasn't totally aware of Christmas and presents. This year, she was all in. That kid made out like a bandit. We won't need to buy her another toy for a long time. 

Christmas Eve started at the Hollen's for brunch and presents. 

Since I work for a church, my afternoon and evening was spent working on Christmas Eve. We held a service at our building. There were a million cookies, hot cocoa, and glow sticks to end the night as we sang "Silent Night." It was a wonderful evening but I was very glad to go home and put my feet up. Ryan and I opened a few gifts from each other before bedtime. 

Marin has been taking Thomas everywhere. 

We woke up fairly early the next day to finish opening our gifts and for Marin to open up her gifts from us and of course, Santa Claus. I was so excited to give her the toy kitchen and all of the fun food stuff that comes with it. Ryan also killed it with my gifts. We haven't been able to afford gifts for each other the past few years so it was really fun being able to buy for each other this year. He is a great gift giver. 

We headed down to my parent's new home to open up presents with my side of the family. It was really fun being in their new home. Marin is in toy heaven. Christmas evening was spent at my Uncle's and Aunt's home eating amazing food and having a White Elephant gift exchange to end the day. 

Christmas of 2015 was a good one. I love that almost all of our families are close and that we can celebrate with everyone. Christmas time though the eyes of a child is like nothing else I've known. 

Merry Christmas, everyone. 

The Hollen Home | Christmas 2015

I clearly have a throw pillow addiction....

Decorating for Christmas is one of my very favorite things to do in our little home. My husband can attest to the fact that this year I was a little early on the decorating and had mostly everything done the weekend before Thanksgiving. I know...I know....I'm breaking some cardinal rule but I love the soft glow of the lights and the tree. I want to enjoy them for as long as possible without heading into the territory of...So...when will you be taking your tree down? Valentine's Day? 

I bought a few new things to add to the Christmas decor this year. Since we don't have an awesome fireplace with a mantle, I use the top of the piano instead. Someday I want a house with a mantel that I can decorate. 

I still love our white Christmas tree. 

All of the presents but one or two are now wrapped and under the tree. Now if I could find a way to keep the cat and the kid away from them...that would be good. 

Marin enjoys pointing out all of the Christmas trees in our house. We have some on the TV stand. A bunch on the piano. A few in the master bedroom. They are kind of all over. The best part is that she doesn't pronounce it "Christmas" but "Criptmas." Pretty darn adorable. "Merry Criptmas!" 

And of course, we have to set out Blinko the Snowman. Marin says hi and goodbye to him every time she goes up and down the stairs. "Hi Snowman! Hi Blinko!" 

I thought it would be fun to put links to the decorating of Christmas Past. It's fun to see how our home and decorating has shifted over the last few years. 

Thanksgiving | 2015

I went far more off the grid this year for Thanksgiving than I have in years past. I purposely didn't lug my big DSLR over to the Hollen's house. I tried to keep my phone in my bag during the meal. The photo above is the only one I took all morning while we were at home, looking at the snow and getting ready to eat donuts. I wanted to soak it all in without the distraction of getting the shot of the table settings, even though it was beautiful as always, and the smorgasbord of delicious food covering all open counter space in the kitchen. 

I wanted to rest, to recharge. To soak it all in. 

We made cranberry brie bites. I made homemade cranberry sauce from our Bountiful Baskets haul. (Which, sidetone, I love BB and I am pretty obsessed with them.) We made the cliche but always needed green bean casserole. We consumed turkey, veggies, corn casserole, potatoes, carrots, rolls, lefse, the list goes on and on. 

Marin didn't nap all day. We tried in the morning before we headed over for festivities: nothing. We tried after the meal...nothing. Needless to say, our tired little girl was zonked out in bed by 6:30pm Thanksgiving night. 

We ate too much. The turkey coma commenced. It snowed all day. 

I couldn't help but be thankful for everything in our lives. We are healthy. We have a warm home that is filled with things, some of which we probably don't need. Our fridge and cupboards have food to nourish our bodies. Our bank account isn't in the red. We are able to pay are bills on time. We get to spend every day raising up an amazing little girl that surprises us all of the time with the knowledge that she already has. We have good jobs. I can actually say that I love my job. I am thankful for good coffee and quiet mornings. We have an awesome church community that has been hit hard in the past week due to the death of a young boy. I am thankful for people that are willing and able to band together to live through the tough times, the hard times, the devastating times. 

I am thankful that we were able to slow down, even for a day. May I be ever aware of the pace of our lives. 

Hollen Photography | Little Natalie

Katie and I have been in each other's lives for a very long time. We met at a youth group event many years ago and have been in each other's lives in some capacity ever since. We ended living together in Washington and experienced some of the best and hardest moments of our lives. I photographed much of that journey. I photographed her engagement. I photographed her wedding. We worked together in healthcare. Now, I was able to photograph their baby. I was getting super emotional as I edited these photos the other day. We have all come so far. We have been through so many things in the past 15 years of our lives together. They hoped for little Natalie for so long and now she is here. We may not see each other nearly as often as we once did because life has gotten in the way, but I count myself blessed to know these good people. 

We are now at the point in our lives where our friends are getting married and having kids. It's been a quick shift to that season in our lives and I have enjoyed being able to capture it along the way. I haven't done a ton of newborn photography so this was a fun adventure. Little Natalie is so adorable and makes me have baby fever big time. Someday heart, someday sooner rather than later. 

We also, of course, took some adorable little naked baby bum photos but I decided not to post her adorable little tush all over the internet. 

I would like more shoots like this one. 

Slow Mondays | Estes Park, CO

Slow Mondays are good Mondays. Yesterday we took a drive up to Estes Park as a family. We ate pizza. We walked around and saw the changing colors in the trees. We ate too much ice cream. We always need days like this. It's good for us. Marin was such a rockstar and I love being able to just spend slow days with my little family. 

I would like many more Mondays like this one, please.