Christmas Card Evolution

Christmas... That special time of year where everything seems a bit more cozy... that time of year where we come together as family and reflect on how blessed we are.  That time of year when we get to slow down, catch up with good friends, have quality time with our kids.  They just love cuddling on the couch together and sip on hot chocolate while watching Polar Express or Elf.  :)  What are some things that you guys like to do? For us, things really slow down... As far as our business is concerned, not many shoots are going on obviously because of the weather and we just have meetings after meetings to prepare ourselves for the new year.  New marketing plans, new ideas, changes that need to be made on the business, new goals, visions, etc... We actually get to have weekends with the kids since there aren't that many shoots.  As far as the Christmas season goes, we\'ve never been a 'typical' Christmas gift shopper.  We just never got into it and in fact this year, we even told the kids that there will be no gifts.  We will of course and absolutely celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas day, but there will be no presents under the tree (uh... our tree still isn\'t up yet. We will sometime before Christmas. hehe) We think this will bless our kids even more than receiving gifts.  We will instead focus on making memories as a family... But!  One thing that we always do is have fun with our Christmas cards.  I must confess that I am a bit obsessed with it.  Well, a lot... I think I have the idea for our card for every year for the next 10 years lined up. I just can't help it.... it's fun and hey, if you have the best photographer as your hubby, why not take advantage of it, right?  ;) Well, we began this tradition the very first Christmas since we were married, and since it's been 10 years, we wanted to share how our cards have evolved as our family has been growing.  It was fun to look for these cards!  We laughed so hard as many memories came along with them.  We hope you enjoy it! This was when it was just the two of us in 2006... before even the thought of wanting kids... we were newly weds... we had no worry in the world... we were just so happy and content with one another.  With no shame, we got in line with other kids at the mall to sit on Santa\'s lap for a pic!  :)  LOL!  We </em><i>bought the digital file and Craig did his little graphic magic... He wasn\'t even a photographer back then.  He was a videographer at our church.  Oh, how we were clueless as to how our lives would change!

Even before we got married, we always said that we wanted to get pregnant after one year of marriage.  Well, God granted that wish and here I am VERY prego with our first child.  I was actually on bed rest at this time, so we had to take this pic quick!  I totally remember Craig putting up the green screen in our small one bedroom apartment (humble beginnings) and setting everything up.  We didn\'t even have a dream or even the thought of having our own photography business here at all... wow, looking back, I can't even believe that!  The talent that this man had and he didn't even know it!  Can't believe this was like 10 years ago!  

This was the year when we had way too many ideas.  We couldn't decide on one and finally decided to go with this, and it's still one of my fav's!  Christmas time is one of those times when being cheesy is ok.  ;)  It was our first Christmas as a family of three, and I just couldn't wait to share with the world our beautiful little girl!

This year was a difficult year for us... in this picture, someone is missing, and that's our other little girl that I miscarried.  It was the most devastating thing I've ever experienced and til this day, there's not one day when I don't think about her and how we could've had four children.  We have one in heaven, and we can't wait to meet our Hannah Lily one day... I wanted a sister for our girl so badly.  I grew up as an only child and longed for a sibling my entire life.  I still do!  So the thought of not being able to give that to my kids made me feel like a total failure in so many ways.  But, God is gracious and through counseling and much time, He healed me.  He strengthened me to be thankful and praise the Lord for what He has already given me and to celebrate our little family of three.

Well... a miracle happened and we got pregnant again!  I had the most horrible time being infertile, but once I realized I had no control and just gave it all up, God blessed us once again... I clearly remember Craig and I crying so much when we found out that we were having another little one.  It was a moment that I will always remember.  I was about 7 months prego here and again on bed rest, so this had to be done in one take!  So thankful that Emma was very cooperative.  Actually, she had a bag of M&M's in her hand, but you can't see it because Craig photoshopped it out.  LOL!  Hey, sometimes, you have to do "whatever it takes...".  :)  Do you notice our first business logo?  This was the first year that we were "officially in business".  :) 2009... seems so long ago!

And, there she is!  We were so happy when this precious one was born.  Being a family of four, I felt as though our family was complete.  I was even more happy that it was a girl so that these two could be sisters!  Seeing their bond even now is priceless... my prayer for these two is that they truly grow up to be best friends and live life together.  That they will always look out for one another and be there for each other...  And on a lighter note, you see all those photos in the background?  Those are real black and white pictures... that Craig taped up on the wall.  Every single one of them.  I believe we printed 400 of them.  I remember his face when I told him the idea... But you know.... "happy wife, happy life."  ;)  He really deserves the best hubby award, don't you agree?  hehe

Well, as you know, life is full of surprises... Out of nowhere, our son decided to join our family... my big belly quite didn't make it in the pic, but if you look, you can see that I'm prego yet again... This was one of our craziest year.  Everything that was happening was a great thing, but boy was it hard or what?!  This was the year when we were moving from one house to another.  Good thing was that our house got sold in three days.  So fast!  The bad thing was that our house got sold in three days, so we were literally homeless.  :)  But!  There's always a but... my amazing friend, Mel, had an empty house for us to stay in until we purchased our next house.  Talk about timing!  I'm telling you guys... God is good and we have some incredible friends.  Mel, again... thank you so much!  For three months while I was pregnant with our son, we lived out of card board boxes.  Not just that, I was on bed rest again... Mm hmm... do you see a pattern?  Yup, I was on bed rest with each pregnancy.  When you sum up all the time of bed rest, it comes out to six months.  Sounds great, right?  No... it was the most miserable thing... especially for my fam.  But, we made it!  After three months, we made it to our new home!

Who knew we would become a family of FIVE?  WOW!  I always said that I would only have two kids my entire life... But, God always has a different plan and I love that He does because His plans are far better than mine.  I can't even imagine our lives without our son!  He melts my heart every moment of the day... Isn't he so cute and big??  Even when he was in my belly, so many people asked if I was having twins because my belly totally looked like a torpedo.  I can't believe I delivered a 9 pound baby.  I definitely thought I was going to die, but here we all are healthy and whole.  :)  I particularly remember this card because of all the shopping I did to find gray/black outfits for everyone.  It wasn't as easy as it seemed!  And, during the shoot, my kids... let me just say that they were not in the mood to take pictures, you know what I mean, parents?  We look so happy and picture perfect here, but I wish you could have seen all the behind the scenes craziness that occurred for this picture to happen.  In fact, we didn't get one where everyone was looking at the camera, so Craig photoshopped Ethan's face from another picture.  LOL!  Can you tell?

I've always wanted to do a Christmas pic with PJ's, and this year was it!  Had the best time shopping for these, and I loved that our kids had fun with it too.  Craig built that white tree and painted it.  (My poor hubby... he has a wife with too many ideas hehe).  And, I'll let you in a little secret.  We didn't take this pic all at once.  Craig took a pic of the two little ones first (don\'t they look like twins?) and then our oldest, then me and then I took Craig's pic.  Craig then photoshopped all of us together... It took hours of tedious work!  But, the work was worth it and he flawlessly put us together... He is the man!

And... if you follow us, you've probably seen this year's card... We are loving black and white photos so much lately, so we decided to do that this year!  I love seeing all of our bright smiles!  Once again, we conquered another year and I just can't be more grateful for all the good and bad that completed our year.  Each one of us have learned so much and hopefully have grown and matured a bit more.  Can't wait to see what the new year holds for us and all of you... Hope this Christmas will bring you a time of reflection as well.  That we all have so much more than we realize.  May you find joy and peace during this season and may the new year be an amazing one!