What family THING do you want to bottle up?

Mud. She wanted to remember them in the mud. That was her family thing.

Girl making mud handprint on garage wall in backyard.

When Kara decided to have me photograph her family for an entire day she had one request. She wanted the session to happen when the weather was warm so she would have photos of kids playing in the backyard. More specifically, in the mud.

Quick Quiz: If you could bottle up one thing about family life right now so that it will always be there when you want to remember it, what would that be? Is it a particular routine? An activity? Do you want to remember something about your kid’s personality? Is it a FEELING?

On the day of the shoot, I woke up at dawn-thirty and lingered at a local Starbucks until I got the text that someone had arisen.

Girl wearing nightgown yawning in kitchen with dad nearby.

The whole crew did their typical summer Saturday family thing. No posing. No scripting. No special clothes. And it was totally OK to get dirty.

Another Quick Quiz: Have you honored what it is you want to remember about your family in this stage of life? Do you have photos of it? Have you wrote about it in a journal? Life changes in a blink. Who knows how many days are left where you can give your son an upside down hug or have your heart swell when your daughter laughs uncontrollably?

Not only did we memorialize the mud for Kara, but the routines, the character traits, the activities, and the feelings of what life is like right now for her family are forever safe-guarded.

Boy throwing corn husks in the air while sitting on porch with mom.
Black and white photo of little girl and boy standing on his head on couch.
Photo of girls’ hands and legs while she plays on porch with gems and chalk and toys.
Girl hugging dad while waiting for coffee at Starbucks in New Jersey.
Boy in blur of motion running past sister laying on couch.
Black and white photo of mom reading to son on bed.

Last Quick Quiz: What’s stopping you from celebrating who you are as a family and creating a visual legacy to share with your children five, ten, twenty years from now? Whatever that roadblock may be (e.g. lack of time, deathly afraid of having your picture taken, worries that your family isn’t exciting enough), let’s talk about it. I can brainstorm solutions like a champ!

When her kids have long left the nest, and they ask her what life was like on a typical day of their childhood, she not only can tell them. She can SHOW them.

High end album with linen cover.
Two-page spread of album or photo book displaying color and black and white family photos.
Close-up of high end album spine with blue linen cover
Close-up of album with photo of girl lying on couch while brother runs past.

P.S. Want to get more insights, rants, and musings about parenthood, childhood and photos? Click here to subscribe to my completely un-obnoxious newsletter.

Christine WrightComment
Confessions from Florida | NJ Family Photographer on Self-Care

Let's talk about a dirty word for us moms: SELF-CARE.

I'm writing this from sunny Florida, sitting by the most peaceful pool with a fountain feature.  And I'm currently 1,200 miles away from my kids.  In the last 24 hours I’ve gotten back to basics.

  • I had a full night of uninterrupted sleep. 

  • I exercised today and didn't rush through the workout to face my RESPONSIBILITIES. 

  • I flossed my teeth. 

  • I'm not overeating because of stress.  

  • I sat with a clear head and brain-dumped a boatload of ideas for my business and my family onto paper and then prioritized what to tackle first. 

I can breathe.

rainbow beach umbrella

This is the FIRST time in over EIGHT years us grown-ups in the house have gotten away.  And I'm not sharing this to say "look at me and my fabulous vacation" or to invoke pity or martyrdom that we've never left our children till now.  I'm sharing because I want you to know - and here's the confession - that taking this time for me, myself, and I is absolutely GLORIOUS.

Because as parents we're supposed to GIVE IT ALL to our kids, right?  

All our energy, time, motivation goes to them. Today I'm renewing a promise to myself to make self-care a priority daily, even if it’s only a couple of minutes. And I plead for you to do the same.

candid photo of sandals on beach and man walking into water

Raising kids is exhausting, emotionally draining, and, at times, frustrating AF. Take care of yourself. Not just because you can then take better care of your cherubs, but because YOU DESERVE IT. Whether it be taking an extra long shower where you (God forbid) lock the bathroom door, squeezing in 15 minutes to read a book, watch reality TV, or take a power nap, or dropping the kids at a neighbor’s while you stroll around the block, MAKE THE TIME.

family photo of man running along beach sunset sunset with birds

Give yourself the SPACE to get back to the real YOU.

P.S. I’m obsessed with my husband’s curly hair in that sunlight.

P.P.S. If you’re not on the cool kids email list (A.K.A. my newsletter) you’re missing out on tips, links and musings about photos, kids and parenthood. Click here to remedy that today, friend!

Christine Wright Comment
The ULTIMATE Day in the Life Offer | You'll want to snag this one

It has always been by goal to tell a family’s full story HONESTLY with beautiful imagery. These are more than snapshots. They are images carefully crafted with consideration of LIGHT, COMPOSITION and MOMENT. They are photos that memorialize split seconds of time.

From the conception of my business I’ve been building to offer families a full Day in the Life package with 100% family photojournalism. Now that my own girls are a bit older and my youngest is in school, that time is here.

In excitement over of the release of this package, here’s a limited-time offer for you, friend!

Sessions booked from now until September 30th:

  • Day in the Life Session at 6-Hour Session price

  • 6-Hour Session at 4-Hour Session price

  • 4-Hour Session at 2-Hour Session price

    Note: There is a LIMITED NUMBER of these session offers. Act with super cat speed if you want one.

Wondering what a Day in the Life Session looks like? Check out the slideshow below.

Ready to preserve YOUR beautiful life?

Christine WrightComment
Money talk | Your investment in documentary family photography

I'm going to write about something many prefer to run away from.  In fact, I can already picture the heads of some people I know shaking back and forth as I write this. 

Let's talk about MONEY.  

little boy running in red cape

Because money's a factor, right?  We can't really avoid it.  And I truly want my clients to feel that the value they are receiving from a documentary family photography session is well worth their investment.

It's amazing how once people find out that I'm a photographer, they are quick to spill their photo session horror stories.  (Kind of like when I was pregnant and women would tell me their horror stories of labor and delivery.  No, thank you to that.)

Toddler boy having a tantrum on the floor
special brewjust for you.png

I've heard time and time again how families have hired the mom with a camera from down the street (Not that I have anything against moms with cameras.  I AM a mom with a camera.  But, friends, there can be a world of difference between a professional nurturing a business and a person with a hobby.).  So they thought it was a GREAT DEAL to walk away with a gallery of digital files for $375. 

But, more often then not, that great deal was fraught with awkward poses, miserable children being bribed to sit still, apathetic dads, and stressed out moms.  Those digital files may have made it to Facebook or Instagram, but they never reached the walls or the coffee tables in these homes.  Or, if they did, the images were printed by a so-so lab leaving flat colors, and paper that yellows and degrades before the kids move out of the house.

But what if there's another option?  

black and white image of parents and kids in bed laughing

What if you could spend more but for one day your family could be celebrated for who you are? 

Imagine being in a familiar environment and genuinely having a great time with your kids and spouse.  And someone is there photographing those glorious moments.  THAT's what documentary family photography is all about.  

Naked toddler sitting on mother's lab playing with her hair

In the end, you walk away from a fabulous experience with tangible memories that will bring you right back to those moments when you view them in 5, 10, and 20 years from now. 

When life has changed, when your family dynamic has changed, THIS time will have been preserved. 

Lawd knows that I can't remember what I wore yesterday.  So I know in a few years it will be a struggle to remember what it felt like to hold those tiny hands and join in on my girls' spontaneous dance parties.

Toddler child's hand on mother's shoulder

But even more than investment in your future, documentary photography is an investment in your children.  Recently, I talked about the role of family photographs in the home as a means to fostering self-worth in children.  When kids view their REAL selves in photos proudly displayed around the house, the message is received: "You are loved AS YOU ARE."

father giving a high five to little boy

And let's not forget the investment in yourself, friend.  Because you are worth it, too.

Parenthood is far from glamorous and it's usually thankless.  Documentary family imagery smacks you in the face, depicting how hard you work, how much you love, and how much you are loved.  On days, you're not feeling like momming those pictures will remind you that this life you are building with these little people is indeed a work of art.

NJ family around a fire pit roasting marshmallows and eating smores

Click here to talk to me about making the investment for your family.

More tasty goodies about photos, kids, and parenting delivered straight to YOU when you click here.  Join the movement to rethink the family portrait!

Christine Wright Comments
7 awesome ideas for your fall family photo session | Why you can skip the Pinterest-perfect set-up

The smell of crisp air and the sound of leaves crunching under your feet.  Rainbows of mums in purple, yellow, and orange.  Pumpkins.  (And by pumpkins I mean pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread and pumpkin-flavored coffee.  Oh, and pumpkin donuts.  Can't forget those.)

special brewjust for you.png

Fall is my FAVORITE season and currently it's creeping ever closer.

When I explain to people how I create empowering images of families by documenting their real everyday lives, I often get in response "But what would we DO?  We're kinda boring."

Hear me now: It's not about WHAT YOU DO as a family.  It's about WHO YOU ARE as a family.  Those interactions and your family dynamic will shine through whether your taking a trip to Costco or a trip to Longwood Gardens.

So dig deep, my friend.  What are your fall traditions?  What do you enjoy doing together as a family? 

Here are seven ideas to get you started.

 1.  Apples

Every fall we go apple picking and then make yummy homemade applesauce.  In actuality, the kids pick about five apples each and then run around the orchard like maniacs while I fill and schlep the baskets.  And if it's still really hot, they whine.  But it's all worth it for those five minutes of true excitement they have for yanking fruit off a tree.

child in wagon in apple orchard with sister and mom

2. Fire camps

A couple of years ago my youngest referred to camp fires as "fire camps" and that term has stuck with us.  Marshmallows, s'mores, hot dogs.  Who doesn't love a good ole' camp fire?!

3. Hikes

This year instead of having pictures of your family just looking pretty at the park, document your family EXPLORING the park.  Preserve an adventure.

4. Bikes.

I admit that I am not a bicycle person.  I'm a wannabe bicycle person for what it's worth.  But bike-riding is a past time for many families and it's totally fun to photograph.  So if that's your jam, go for it.

5. Breads and Pastries

Tis the season of pumpkin muffins, apple pies and cookies galore.  In our house the kids are always on board for whipping up some treats.

6. Playgrounds

Keep it simple and head to your favorite playground.  Pack a picnic.  Let the good times roll.

candid photo of girl on seasaw in New Jersey park

7. Pumpkins

A trip to the local pumpkin patch is high up on most kids' fun-meter.  And what happens to the pumpkin once it's home can be a blast as well.  We've carved, painted, glued on, Sharpied, smashed, and hammered golf tees into our fall squash.  How do you decorate yours?

Ready to create your own meaningful fall family session?  I'm here to help you brainstorm.

For more photo-inspiring, kid-inspiring, parent-inspiring content delivered right to your inbox subscribe to my Newsletter of Awesome.  I won't share your email address with another soul.  Unsubscribe at any time.

Christine WrightComment
Lessons I learned from street hockey | NJ family photographer

Prologue: I am NOT a sports person.

I've recently discovered that I can rewrite the stories I tell myself about who I am and then work like hell to make it happen.  Such as:

  • I have a voice and what I say has value.
  • I'm a badass mom and business owner.
  • I live a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly. (This one is a work in progress because I'm pretty sure it requires a break from late-night Netflix.  I'm not quite ready to cut that cord.)

But trying to rewrite myself as a person who enjoys playing or watching most sports.  .  .I just can't do it.

So, of course, I married an athlete.  A competitive athlete, who plays two sports.  He's recently fostered an adoration of hockey in our children.  And even though I'm not a sports person, I can't help but watch them all play together.  What I’ve gleaned from observing and photographing their play, I’ve shaped into six LIFE LESSONS for my kids.  

1. Keep your eye on the ball, even when you’re not swinging. 

You never know when an opportunity will present itself.

little girl playing street hockey

2. Seek out the right teachers.

Find those amazingly good at what they do and learn from them.

Lifestyle image of two girls running after dad with hockey sticks

3. Distraction is a part of life.  Take time to refocus.

Two girls and dad in street with hockey sticks

4. Everyone needs a pick-me-up once in a while. 

Ask for help when needed and remember self-care and compassion.

candid image of father holding child on back

5. You'll never reach the sun if you don’t take the shot.

Failures are part of the journey.  They declare "I tried."  Which is way better then "I didn't do a damn thing."

two girls and father playing street hockey with sun flare

And the most important life lesson of all. . .

6. When the carpenter bees are in full force, stay close to the WD-40.

girl hugging her father in front of her house

More musings on parenting, childhood and photos delivered to YOU personally when you subscribe to my Newsletter of Awesome.

Christine WrightComment
Let them be kids | Fostering self-esteem through photos

I'm afraid my children will be miserable.

That's one of the key concerns moms have when I talk to them about family photo sessions.

And I get it.

Developmentally speaking, children are not wired to dress in fancy clothes, be told where to sit or stand, and smile pleasantly for a half-hour, an hour, two hours. . .

Everything about little kids rebels against that entire scenario.  If permitted to let loose you'll soon find that: 

1. Kids get dirty.

mom wiping cookie dough off of face of little girl
Mom wiping chocolate off of hands of little girl

2. Kids move around.  A LOT.  

candid photo of little girl jumping on trampoline

3. Kids shout and cry.

lifestyle photo of little girl crying at kitchen counter
candid photo of toddler looking upset at parent

4. Kids giggle hysterically.

little girl on learning tower pointing and laughing at her mom

5. Kids give generously.

toddler girl sharing cookie dough with dad in kitchen

6. Kids cuddle on laps like PB sticks to J.

toddler flipping through photo album while sitting on mom's lab

7. Kids sit quietly.  For a split second.  Sometimes.

lifestyle family photo of toddler sitting in chair holding ball

So make photos of your kids being who they are.  Make artful, nostalgic images and put them up on your walls, friend.

Not just because those photos are beautiful.

Not just because they chronicle your family's history.

But also because these images of your children displayed in your home can give them a boost of confidence. 

special brewjust for you (1).png

And that's not just me talking out my bum. 

There's evidence, baby.

What appears to be the most well-cited research of photography and child self-esteem is a 1975 study by Ammermann & Fryrear.  They found that self-esteem behaviors were significantly increased in a group of fourth-grade students who took Polaroid photos of themselves (the original selfies!) over five weeks.  You can find the Abstract to that article here.  

While cruising the web for some more recent information by the experts, I ran across this gem of a blog post by Chris Cummins.  Cummins interviewed four experts in the fields of psychology, art therapy, social work and more and asked about the role family photographs play in a child's confidence and self-esteem.  It's a good quick read.

But if you don't have time here's the take home message: Family photographs around the home increase children's self-worth.  And the printed photograph gets bonus points over the digital one.  Boom!

Last link here: In an article in The Baltimore Sun, clinical psychologist David Krauss asserts that family photo galleries are important.  "What it says to a child is, 'I'm important in this family.'"  

  • I am important.

  • I belong here.

  • I am part of the family unit.

Isn't that what we want our littles to feel?

And, in my opinion, photos that show them AS THEY ARE are even more precious.

This is me and I am worthy.

toddler paitning with water colors with her dad

For more blurbs about kids, parenthood, and photos delivered to you PERSONALLY, join my email tribe.  Start embracing your beauty and chaos today.

Making and breaking plans, a birth story | Voorhees, NJ, birth photography

I liked Julie right from the get-go.  She was pregnant with her second child.  She knew what she wanted for her birth.  She researched.  She made lists.  She was a PLANNER.

I love planners.  I’M a planner.  But eight years into motherhood, I’ve come to terms with having a plan but being ready to ditch it at a moment’s notice.  And that’s the sweet spot with birth.

Have a plan.  Be prepared to toss it.

woman in labor holding ultrasound images of baby

Case in point.  Julie and Dave’s first daughter was conceived shortly after their fertility doctor claimed they couldn’t become pregnant without IVF.  Miracle Pregnancy #1.  When Julie and Dave wanted to have a second baby they followed the same hormone and lifestyle regimen they had implemented before their first pregnancy.  Again, the fertility doctor said it was unlikely they would get pregnant without IVF.  Three months later. . .BAM!  Miracle pregnancy #2.

The fertility doctor had a plan.  He had to toss it.

woman in labor in hospital bed with husband next to her

About halfway through her pregnancy, Julie was diagnosed with complete placenta previa.  If the previa didn’t work itself out, her doctors planned for her to have C-section.  Which was NOT was she wanted.  It was not part of HER plan.

At 34 weeks, the previa had cleared.  Yay!  Now the baby was transverse.  Boo!  

Julie sought out a chiropractor who used The Webster Technique and she started a routine of inversions to help move the baby into a better position.

At 36 weeks, the baby was head down.  Yay!

At 39 weeks, I met Julie at the hospital.  She was having some moderate bleeding.  Thankfully, everything was fine and the baby was still head down.  Yay!  We all went home.

woman's hand on baby bump as she is in labor
special brewjust for you (1).png

Two days later, on New Year’s Eve, Julie notified me that she and Dave were going to the hospital.  She thought she was in labor.  It was just before midnight.  

Do you remember New Year’s Eve 2017?  Yeah, it was cold enough to freeze lava.  I decided to drive to the hospital BEFORE any party-goers got on the road, having left their wits in a champagne bottle.  (Since I was on-call for this birth, there were no bottles claiming my own wits.)  I was still driving at 12 a.m., when my oldest daughter sent me an enthusiastic “Happy New Year” message through our walkie-talkie phone app.  She has been pumped that this was the first year she was allowed to stay awake until midnight.  She can tell time now so there’s no fooling her anymore.

Meanwhile, Julie and Dave shared a New Year’s kiss in the hospital parking lot.  Did I mention it was as cold as f#*@?

woman on stability ball in labor with husband behind her

It turned out that Julie was not in labor BUT now the baby was breech.  Boo!  This was not part of the chiropractor’s plan.  She had never helped a patient flip a baby only to have it flip back.  The doctors admitted Julie to the hospital with intention to perform a C-section the following day.  I drove home to get some rest.

A scan the next morning showed the baby was back to being transverse.  Though her doctor wanted to go ahead with the C-section, Julie asked for one day.  

One day and she would flip her baby.

Julie knew what she wanted for her birth.  She had researched.  She had made lists.  She had a plan.

husband holding wife's head as she's in labor

After a day of doing stretches and inversions taught to her by her chiropractor, a scan showed that the baby was head down.  Yay!  The scan also showed that Julie was hauling around six times more than the normal amount of amniotic fluid.  No wonder this baby was flipping so much.  

Julie’s womb was the baby’s Olympic swimming pool.

Before the baby had a chance to flip yet again, Julie and Dave were sent to Labor and Delivery, her water was broken (picture Niagra Falls), and a Pitocin drip was started.  I joined them shortly thereafter.

I need to pause here for a minute and go back to my initial consultation with Julie months earlier.  When we got together to chat she described the birth images she had viewed online: women screaming in agony, resting peacefully in birthing pools, and laboring resolutely in their own homes.  Julie wanted a hospital birth.  She wanted an epidural.  She was concerned her birth images would be. . .boring.  

I assured her that no matter how her birth unfolded, boring was one thing it would NOT be.  

Birth is the single most moving and visceral of all human experiences.  No matter the journey, it is unavoidably unpredictable and arrestingly beautiful.

sun setting through hosipital window

When I arrived in the L&D room Julie was in her groove laboring along.  The contractions became more intense.  She called for an epidural.  Now here’s an interesting tid-bit.  

There was only one anesthesiologist in the hospital that day.  

So there was some waiting for that epidural.  Once in the room and ready to administer the medicine, the anesthesiologist was called out to help another patient.  More waiting.  Contractions becoming more intense.  

Finally, Julie got her epidural.  Yay!  

IV of epidural and woman in labor

But it didn’t work.  Boo!

The anesthesiologist was called back to re-administer.  More waiting.  More intense contractions.  Eventually, he returned and set up his gear to redo the epidural.  

A Code Blue rang out throughout the hospital.  

The anesthesiologist ran from the room.  

woman in labor waiting for an epidural

More waiting.   A bit later, the epidural was redone and it worked.  Julie relaxed.  Her labor progressed quickly from there and soon it was time to meet her baby.

woman pushing during labor

Julie and Dave hadn’t learned the sex of their child during the pregnancy.  

Their faces lit up as they saw their baby for the first time and Julie exclaimed “It’s a girl!”  

woman seeing daughter for the first time after birth
father crying at the birth of his daughter

Miracle baby #2.

Julie had a plan.  Her health-care providers had their plans.  In some form or another. everyone had to toss their plans.   

Because birth is a fickle beast. 

As for any concern about lack of excitement. . . Julie's birth images are a lot of things.  Boring is NOT one of them.  

P.S. If you're an expectant mom, get the FREE printable list of little jobs your visitors can help out with while you nest with your new baby.  Because you should be drinking up all that newborn goodness and let someone else handle the cooking and cleaning.  Click here to get the printable.

"Please, don't hold my baby." | A message for mothers of newborns

I remember the day my husband and I brought home our firstborn daughter.  She was dozing in her car seat.  We rested the whole baby bucket gently on our ottoman.  We sat down on the couch and looked at her.  We looked at each other.  We looked at our cats who were watching cautiously from across the room.  And then one of us said, “This is really weird.”

And it was.  Bizarre, really.

Over the next 24 hours we were fixated on a single mission: keep the baby alive.  And we did.  Which gave us confidence for the next 24 hours.  And so on.  

Mother holding newborn

Having a baby in the house became less and less surreal each hour that passed.  We were adjusting to a new dynamic.  I soon learned that caring for a newborn put a decent dent in the time that I had previously spent on house work and meal prep.  I began to feel (as 99.9% of new moms do) OVERWHELMED.

Eventually, friends and family made trips over to visit.  It was wonderful to share this exciting time with the people we loved.  

Mother and baby dressed in winter coats

Vibes of possibility and reverence drifted throughout our home.

BUT. . .

(and this is coming from a place of love. . .)

The FIRST thing visitors wanted to do when they dropped by (after the thoughtful washing if their hands) was hold the baby.  Of course they did!  Who doesn’t want to hold a precious newborn baby?  It turned out that the ONLY thing visitors wanted to do when they dropped by was hold the baby.  Again, I get it.  Sweet smelling cherub in the house.

“I’ll hold the baby while you get some rest.”  I heard this A LOT.

Newborn nursing in mother's arms

Now every mama is different.  For some, having another person take care of your newborn while you catch some z’s is pure paradise.  And that’s absolutely OK.  But for me, during those initial weeks, I couldn’t sleep without my baby next to me.  It made me anxious to be in a different room than her for an extended time.  It felt like I was missing a body part.

Even when I was in the same room and not holding my baby for a while it was uncomfortable for me.  When others held her, she ultimately fussed.  Often the well-meaning visitor tried to calm her.  Of course.  Who wouldn’t try to calm a crying baby?  But my baby wanted ME.  And I knew it.  

Mother comforting crying newborn

(BTW, babies are supposed to want to be near their mothers.  It’s not personal.  It’s biological.)  

Do you know what happens when a mama hears and sees her newborn upset?  At least, this is how it went for me.  I instantly kicked into HIGH ALERT mode.  My senses became heightened.  A wave of heat started at my face and moved down through my toes.  My milk let down and I knew I’d have to replace my breast pads.  Not comforting my child became physically painful.

(BTW, mothers are supposed to want to be near their babies.  It’s not personal.  It’s biological.)

At first I was too worried about hurting others’ feelings and asking for my baby back.  Which, in hindsight, was RIDICULOUS.  Surely, my visitors wouldn’t have felt snubbed if I said “I’m going to take her back now for some more mama-baby bonding.”  The people who loved my family were HAPPY to help us.  And I’m certain had I just asked for what I really needed, they would have jumped at the chance.  

Because, dang, did I need help.  I was moving at post-C-section speed.  There were piles of laundry, stacks of dishes, and few groceries in the house.  I was in the mindset that I could DO IT ALL myself, but that’s a big fat sham.  No one can.

Mother nursing baby

By the time I had my second daughter, I knew more about the mother I wanted to be and that resonated with my friends and family.  I was clear to others and myself about what I wanted those first weeks to look like.  

Many friends and relatives came to help, REALLY help.  I also had a toddler running around and was truly grateful when someone stopped by to play with her or took her out for a few hours.  I felt relieved that the necessary housework was getting done and blessed that I had time to get to know and nurture my new baby girl.

Mother holding newborn on her shoulder

For all mothers-to-be who may be lacking confidence in the voice of their mama heart, please, know this:

Your own intuition is your wisest advisor.  

And this:

You will only have this time with this child once.

Hold your baby.

Much love,


P.S.  If you or someone you know is expecting a newborn, download my FREE Visitor Task List to help gently nudge friends and family towards providing you with REAL help!

Don't forget the family pet | Healing and celebrating through photography

"Me with our old dog, Baggins."

That's what my friend replied when I asked her what kinds of pictures she wished she had from her childhood.  I asked her that in mid-February.

Fast forward one month and we lost our dear cat Molly who was with us for more than 16 years.

After we broke the news to our girls, we all sat on the couch and looked through an old photo album from when Molly and her brother Desmond were kittens.  It was healing and comforting to see them young and bright.

The album pictures came from an era before cell phone cameras and before I had a digital camera.  Pages and pages of pictures that were shot on FILM and developed at a drug store.  Most of the pictures were of the cats themselves, but the ones I was most drawn to were me and my husband WITH the cats. 

Those pictures brought me back to the moment. 

Like the photos of Molly resting her head against my husband's chin as she laid on his chest.  I saw her do that just the day before she died.

But for all those drug-store snapshots, I came up short when I thought about what photos I have of our girls with the cats.

Because once the girls were here, that's where my photo attention turned.  This past year I've been more intentional about taking pictures of our pets (we now have two young male cats in the mix), BUT I've been moved to shoot them mainly when they're in beautiful light or doing something obnoxious.  Not necessarily when they're snuggling or playing with the rest of the family.

I wish I had more pictures of humans and pets together.

Your take home message:  Photograph the family pet.  WITH your kids.  WITH you. 

If you have a family photo session INCLUDE beloved family pets.  If your photographer won't oblige, find another photographer.

These are photos that matter. 

And in five, ten, twenty years when you have to say good-bye to your treasured friend, you'll be so GRATEFUL you made effort. 

Christine WrightComment
Dear Desmond and Molly | A letter to my cats

Last week we lost our 16-year old cat Molly.  She died during the night in front of our living room fireplace - her favorite spot to rest in recent months.  My husband had been sleeping not too far from her on the couch, when she passed.  He found her when we woke.  We knew her days were numbered.  We had hoped for more time.  We were dumbstruck when we realized.

Molly and her brother Desmond were our first children.  I adopted them as kittens during grad school while living in Oklahoma.  I had wanted a dog.  I had even checked out dogs books from the library. 

Because I was, and still am, all about research.

My then-boyfriend/now-husband convinced me that cats were the way to go. 

As usual, he was right.  Eye roll.

We named them after the characters in the song "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" because The Beatles was one of the few bands we could agree on.  We became "Mommy" and "Daddy" to our cats.  Don't judge.  They were our babies.  Before we had human babies.  You pet people know what I'm talking about, right?  

And if you don't, you're missing out on one of life's extraordinary adventures.

Dear Desmond and Molly,

I remember the day we first met at the Cats Only Clinic.  I fell in love with you instantly, Molly, your ears WAY too big for your tiny head.  Desmond, you did your best song and dance to get our attention.  And I'm GRATEFUL you chose us.

I can't describe the sheer comfort you brought me when I was half-way across the country from my family.  You were my safety net, my soft spot, my living and breathing lovies while I was in a strange land with TORNADOES and BROWN RECLUSE SPIDERS (come to find out we have those in Jersey too),

I called your names each evening before bed and you both came running like puppies and leaped onto the covers.  We slept cuddled together most every night.  Eventually, Molly, you hung out more with Daddy.  And when the girls were born, Desmond, you pledged allegiance to the only other male in the house.  It's OK.  I get it.  He needed you.

I held you both and cried into your fur the day the twin towers fell.  Together we watched endless replays on the screen in disbelief.  It was terrifying being so far away from everyone.  I thank the Universe, I had YOU that day.

Navigating new mom life was OVERWHELMING.  Times when it felt like too much, Daddy reminded me to "take some Molly's belly."  Because burying my face in your belly fur was PURE HEAVEN.  The softest material ever.  Your dad and I brainstormed ways we could market it should we ever find an unlimited supply.

Everyone who visited us regularly was aware of the "Rule of Molly."  Your father instituted this early on.

Molly is not to be moved or caused to move unless it is for the greater good of Molly.

You were much more fickle than your brother in your adult years and for you to sit on our laps was a gift.  Perhaps this was Daddy's excuse to not answer the phone, answer the door, make dinner, tend to a human child, etc.  But since he practically peed his pants on more than once because he didn't want to disturb you, I'm fairly certain the Rule of Molly stemmed from pure adoration.

We instituted the "Rule of Molly as applied to Desmond" when you both became seniors.  It's not that we loved you any less, Desmond.  It was that you was so stinkin' LOVABLE.  Thank you for letting us pick you up, hold you upside down, and squish you any which way.  Thank you for sitting on Daddy's shoulder like a parrot and for not leaving my side for over 12 hours after I had sinus surgery.  Thank you for making biscuits on my belly when I had cramps.

You two gave us so much more than we could ever give you in return.  We were so DAMN LUCKY to have you in our lives and you will be remembered always.


Mommy XO

Christine WrightComment