Life, Joy, Laughter

Jordan’s Wish – Make a Wish® Montana – Helena MT Photographer

Posted by in Family Portraits, Life, Joy, Laughter

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Jordan.  Jordan was a very happy little girl and was much beloved by everyone who knew her.  But when Jordan was about five years old she started having episodes of illness, and as she got older the episodes got worse and worse.


Finally when Jordan was nine, her parents insisted that she be tested for pancreatitis—the doctors were skeptical, but it turned out that Jordan was indeed suffering from chronic pancreatitis.  Jordan was a very very sick little girl, her illness caused her excruciating pain and it got so bad that she couldn’t even go to school.  Instead, Jordan would lie on the couch and sketch and clip pictures from magazines and dream about fashion design.


Jordan also dreamed of visiting Europe, so plans began for a wonderful trip to be made to Europe with her grandparents, Caroline and Del.  A Mediterranean/European cruise was booked for the spring of 2011.  However, two weeks before they would have left for their trip, Jordan and her grandma both got very sick and ended up in the hospital.  Jordan was having complications with her pancreatitis and Caroline was having complications with breast cancer.  Their trip to Europe was never made.


Jordan finally had surgery for her pancreatitis in December of 2011.  She was eleven years old.  The doctors removed her pancreas, spleen, gall bladder, part of her intestine, and part of her stomach.  They also transplanted islet cells into her liver (a fairly new medical procedure that will hopefully help Jordan produce some insulin even without a pancreas).  Jordan will still have to be on insulin for the rest of her life, but after the surgery her health began to improve tremendously and everyone in her life rejoiced.


Unfortunately, Caroline’s prognosis was not as positive and eight months after Jordan’s surgery Jordan’s grandma passed away.  It was a very hard loss for Jordan and her family.


Months earlier, Jordan’s story had been submitted to Make a Wish, and the folks at Make a Wish knew of Jordan’s love of fashion and Europe.  But they had told Jordan’s family that a wish that “big” was rarely granted – it was far more likely that Jordan would get to go to LA for a fun fashion-related trip.


Now at this point you are probably wondering about all of these loose ends and random details – but for you to fully appreciate the ending to this tale I had to explain it all:)


A couple months after Caroline’s passing, it was decided by Make a Wish that Jordan was not going to receive a trip to LA.  Instead, she was going to be granted a trip to Europe—the trip she had never gotten to make with her grandparents!  Not only that, but her wish was going to be sponsored by Macy’s, the very place that Caroline had worked for eight years.  Clearly Grandma Caroline was working her own fairy godmother magic to make sure her granddaughter got the trip they had planned to go on together.  (goose bumps, yes?!)


So on the afternoon of December 14th, twelve year-old Jordan and her family came to Macy’s to deliver a huge stack of letters to Santa (as part of a fundraiser for Make a Wish – read more about Macy’s donation for every letter to Santa here and here).


Waiting for them was a crowd of friends and family (and of course lots of Caroline’s co-workers from Macy’s) and a table full of gifts.  All in celebration of this very special young woman who had overcome such obstacles in her life.


It was only then that Jordan found out that she was having a wish granted by Make a Wish and Macy’s (it had been a COMPLETE secret up until that moment!)—and that her European trip was coming true in a way she could have never imagined:  she and her family will be visiting Paris this spring for the “fashion trip” of a lifetime.


And we all know that Caroline was there among us sharing in the happy tears and joyous hugs.



I was asked by Make a Wish Montana if I would be willing to document these moments for Jordan and her family – and it was such a great honor to do so.  I can’t say I was able to hold back the tears behind my camera, but I do hope I was able to do these beautiful moments justice.


I also hope this story and these images touch your heart as much as they did mine.


Here are some of my favorite details and moments from this special afternoon….


Santa listened to the wishes of children at Macy’s as we waited for Jordan to arrive.



Part of the surprise were several items autographed by Taylor Swift, one of Jordan’s favorite artists.  Jordan also received signed items from Jessica Simpson and Hope Solo, soccer player and Olympic Gold Medalist.



The fabulous Paris cake was made & donated by Dani Morris of Piece of Cake Creations.



There was an entire table filled with gifts – many donated by local Helena businesses (Leslie’s Hallmark, Ben Franklin, and employees of Helena’s Macy’s store).  I thought it was really special that Jordan’s brother was also remembered with many gifts perfect for a young boy.



Jordan finally arrived – and before she found out the REAL reason she was there she helped her little brother mail a stack of letters to Santa.



Dawn (the manager at Helena’s Macy’s store and a friend of Jordan’s late grandma) is finally able to tell Jordan why she’s really at Macy’s on that Friday afternoon.



And from that moment on there weren’t many dry eyes….




Especially from Jordan’s mom & dad….








Jordan was interviewed by several TV and newspaper reporters (talk about a poised young woman!).



Jordan’s little brother just kept saying “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my GOSH!”



Several of Jordan’s elementary teachers came to give Jordan big hugs.



But no one was more happy than Jordan’s little brother and her mom and dad.





And the love of this family for each other…well, that’s really what this is all about….


Make-A-Wish ® Montana is a non-profit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. The Foundation serves all 56 counties in Montana and granted its first wish in 1987. Since then, more than 350 wishes have come true with the help of more than 60 volunteers. For more information on how to refer children or to volunteer, please call Make-A-Wish at 1-877-574-9474 or visit its Web site at


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A Visit from Santa – Helena MT Photographer

Posted by in Kiddo Portraits, Life, Joy, Laughter

We had a visit from a very special somebody last night….  Yep – SANTA was at our house!

Claire was so excited that she was almost a little shy at first:)




But she warmed up pretty quick – especially when Santa asked her what she wants for Christmas.



Claire was quick to tell him all about the doctor’s bag that is her greatest heart’s desire (this is the same thing she’s been asking for for months, **whew**).



Santa thought that would be no problem:)



Which  made for a very happy Claire.







Aw!  Such a lucky little girl!



Thank you for coming to visit Santa!  We’ll be sure to leave you lots of cookies and milk tonight:)

Wishing ALL of you a very Merry Christmas!  May your holiday be filled with love and laughter.







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Spooky Spider – Just One of Those Days at the Lane House – Helena MT Photographer

Posted by in Life, Joy, Laughter

I’m one of those people who is not at all creeped out by spiders – so when I saw a giant one crawling across the floor today (“giant” as in looks-EXACTLY-the-same-size-as-the-plastic-spiders-people-put-in-the-cotton-batting-at-Halloween-time) I though “oh, what a perfect opportunity to show Claire that bugs are nothing to be afraid of!”

Because our child was somehow born with the I-AM-PETRIFIED-OF-ALL-BUGS gene…to the extreme bewilderment of her mommy & daddy.


Not a single person in her life (Mommy*, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Grammie, Papa, aunties, uncles) shrieks at the sight of bugs.  Or even reacts really.  Not a single person.  But when our child was ~8 months old she noticed her first dead fly – and Scott and I thought she had torn off a limb.  For reals.  When we realized the source of the hysterics was a dead fly we were both…confused.

And though we have done our darndest to curb this fear – it persists.  Our child who would happily spend every waking moment outside.  Our child will touch dead deer eyeballs and dead elk tongues without a shudder (true story).  This same child is just downright terrified of bugs.  **confused face**

So back to the GIANT spider at our house today.  [yeah, this whole convoluted story started there:)]  So I see this ginormous  spider crawling across the dining room floor and I quickly scoop it up in a glass and then call Claire over so we can check out this “super cool!” spider together.  Which we do.  And then [for some reason] I think to myself “hmmmm,” and I check out the belly of this giant spider.

And I see the red hourglass shape as clear as day.


Hello giant black widow spider.

And then I think “weeeeeeeell, maybe the whole black-widow-spiders-are-SO-poisonous thing is one of those exaggerated urban myths,” so I Google it.  And I find the following: “The black widow spider has a potent neurotoxic venom and is considered the most venomous spider in North America. However, the female injects such a small dose of venom that it rarely causes death. Reports indicate human mortality at well less than 1% from black widow spider bites.


It “rarely causes DEATH.”  I feel so much better.  [NOT]

Now realizing my little “we don’t have to be afraid of bugs” activity has backfired somewhat I say to Claire “So honey, if you see a big spider like this you really shouldn’t touch it, ok?”

And she turns her big brown eyes to me and says with complete serious confidence, “See.  I told you Mommy.  We DO need to be afraid of bugs.”


Well, damn.  She kinda has me there.

So much for that perfect life lesson.

That’ll teach you Mommy.

Just kill the dang spider next time and keep the life-lesson to yourself:)





(*Full disclosure – my I’m-so-not-afraid-of-bugs attitude does not extend to grasshoppers.  Grasshoppers are an ENTIRELY different story as they are THE creepiest things on this planet.  **shudder**  But I never let my child see that.  I just silently shriek in my head and pray they don’t jump with their icky sticky crunchy legs on me – ohhhhhh ick ick ick ick ick ick!!!!!)



How bout you guys??  Any bug phobias out there?  Any I-am-the-perfect-Halloween-decoration-except-I’m-real-and-poisonous items show up at your house lately?  And anyone else with me on the grasshoppers thing??????? :-)



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Mitch & Erica – Mountain Top Wedding – Holland Lake Wedding Photography

Posted by in Life, Joy, Laughter, Wedding Photography

Sometimes the things you wish to write about are so big and full of emotion that it’s hard to know where to start….  How to describe the relationship I have with my little sister – my best friend, confidant, cheerleader, voice of reason, semi-twin…?  [Whew.  Fan at eyes.  Breathe.  Smile.  Breathe.  Continue.]  How to describe the relationship she has with Mitch – their joyful, fulfilling, love-filled partnership…?  How to describe how it feels to stand on the top of a mountain with a waterfall roaring at your back, and say the words that help join two people’s lives?  How to describe how it feels to witness God’s incredible creation all around you and His love, not only in the promise of the two people joining their lives, but also in all of the relationships around you?

Pretty impossible to describe.  But truly awesome to experience.

On September 21st, 2012 my little sister Erica got married to her honey Mitch.  They planned an incredibly intimate celebration that was so very genuine and perfect for the two of them.  They invited their immediate families (which made for a party of thirteen adults and one 4-year old) and they planned for us all to hike up to Holland Falls for the wedding ceremony and then for us to spend the weekend together at Holland Lake Lodge.

It was truly a celebration of those things that make life most rich:  love and family, joy and laughter.  We hiked to Holland Falls for their ceremony and then “yahoo-d” and cheered for Erica & Mitch’s first kiss as husband and wife.  We drank Champaign on top of the world and Scotch back at camp.  We played beanbag toss & frisbee in the sunshine and paddled our canoes and kayaks on the breathtakingly still lake.  We ate LOTS of super yummy food at the Lodge and sang & danced by the firelight.  We hung out in our jammies and swimming suits during the day and got dressed up for dinner (well, us girls got dressed up, the boys got to wear whatever they wanted;).  We laughed and laughed and laughed [and laughed] and we cried happy tears for two of our most favorite people in the whole wide world.

Erica and Mitch – there are not enough words for me to express how happy I am for the two of you, and how very much I love you.  Blessings blessings blessings upon this happy happy union.  xoxoxx

And now, because I can’t help myself, here is a *tiny* bit longer blog post than normal…:)


The happy bride (this is her “eeeeeeeek!!!!!  I’m so excited!!!!” face:)



Mommy & Daughter

(this one gets me every time…oh *sniff*)


Seeing my sister so happy…well, there really aren’t words…tears maybe, but no words:)

(and are you all so proud of me for not just blubbering like an idiot through this whole day?!?!?!?!  Whew.)


And I think the Groom is equally happy:)




Ug.  I loooooooove this picture [and how about this dress!!!! which we found during an AWESOME trip to Eskay Bridal in Bozeman, MT – a little shout-out to those girls who helped us – thanks for such a fabulous experience ladies!:)]


This one makes me smile.  Every.  Single.  Time!:)




And a few more of the happy happy couple….




Two of my favorite girls in the whole wide world!


So different to be on THIS side of the camera!!!:)


The beautiful hike up to Holland Falls.


The Hand-Off:)


The Prayer.


The Top of the World.


The Laughter.


The Love.


The Flower Girl!:)


The Happy Couple.




And then the next day we did a Rock the Dress session in Holland Lake.







And just a couple more:)



I love you two.








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Red Lodge Get-Away

Posted by in Life, Joy, Laughter

Scott & I had a little get-away to Red Lodge two weekends ago—it was so fun!  I had never been to Red Lodge before so it was fun traveling to that part of the state and with Claire staying with Grammie & Papa it was a treat to have some “couple” time:)  After doing a bunch of research online we decided on the Pollard Hotel—a historic hotel right in the middle of downtown Red Lodge.  The room rates were extremely reasonable (less than $110/night including a full breakfast the next morning and tax!).  We ate dinner at the Pub in the hotel (SUPER yummy!) and the breakfast the next morning was awesome.  No pics cause we were on “vacation” but you can check out their website here ( if you’re curious.  Has anyone else ever been there before?  Or stayed at any other great places in Red Lodge…?:)



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