It's Time for Family Portraits!

June 2007

My Christmas picture is done and I am happy! It is a lot work for me to organize everyone to get a nice portrait taken. This year, in honor of our 25th wedding anniversary, we had a professional portrait taken . It was great knowing that our Christmas picture was done in August.

We purchased the disc of photos from the photographer, so we are able to edit and print many different variations of the family. I have a favorite of the entire family, one of the girls, one of the boys, and then one of the four youngest girls, and a last one of Eby and Little Man. I’ll be sure to share them all here, but for today, I want to encourage you to plan your family holiday picture. Ask a friend to take it, schedule a date with a photographer, or plan to do it yourself; just get it done.

In 2005 my friend, Amy, and I waited until November to take each other’s family photos. The day was so rainy that we had to set up a “studio” in my family room. After struggling with poor lighting, we swore we would do it earlier in 2006, and we did!


In 2006, on October 1st, our two families packed picnics and went the University Arboretum where we took one of my favorite family pictures.


2007 was our first year with Dimples, Eby, and Little Man. I thought it would be fun to take the picture on the tractor by our barn . I had everyone wear jeans with a dark colored shirt. We planned to take it after church. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to it until December 9th and it was very cold. In fact, we got the kids down to the barn, and my camera refused to shoot. Russ finally realized it was too cold for the electronics in the camera to function. We ran inside and did some some chaotic shots by the tree. Then Russ took the kids back out, arranged them on the tractor and I ran out with the camera in my coat. I quickly took the photos, and ended up with one we liked, but the kids were cold!


In 2008 we took our picture in October and sent it along with Honeybee’s adoption announcement. This picture is hanging in our entry way and I really like it. I squeezed everyone into the space next to our bay window which allowed enough light to avoid using flash. Window light is great. I have a reflector that Russ held while standing to Dimples’ left (as you look at the picture). The reflector bounced the light back onto the kids who were furthest from the window (which was to the right of Honeybee as you look at the picture). Holding up a piece of white poster board or white tablecloth would also work well.


That leads us to 2009. The photo still needs a little bit of editing before it is ready to share, but Rusty is going to get it done soon. We wore jeans and white shirts again, like we did in 2007. It was the simplest theme to accomplish and right now, simple is all I can manage. Fortunately, it is a look I like!

Here are some tips you may find useful:

1. Choose a day and time when your youngest children are most likely to be happy. This year we took our photo just after an early dinner. It was August so it was still light.

2. If you have big kids, schedule it well in advance. I sent multiple email reminders to my older crew.

3. Choose a unified clothing theme. It can be formal or casual, holiday-ish or not, funny or serious, but you should look cohesive. In general, stay far away from patterns, stripes, or excessively fussy clothing. Our 2008 photo is a good example of how to hide some color problems; Rusty converted the image to sepia. My friend Joy always sends a gorgeous photo; last year they wore jeans with black shirts. Some other friends dressed in jeans with red and green shirts which looks very cheerful on our bulletin board.

4. Go outside where you won’t need your flash or where it will only add a little pop of light. Alternately, place your children near a window that will shine some indirect light on them. You don’t want bright light, just soft illumination.

5. Take lots, and lots of pictures. Back when we all used film, it was more costly to shoot multiple rolls, but now that nearly everyone has gone digital, there is no reason not to shoot dozens of shots. The more people you have in the family, the more photos you should shoot.

6. Put small treats in your pockets to keep the youngest children happy. My little ones like Tic Tacs which don’t make a mess or look big in their mouths.

7. Plan a special reward for a job well done. This year we came home and had ice cream sundaes to celebrate.

It is a lot of work to get a decent family picture, but it is worth the effort to chronicle the changes and growth of your family. I have a future project that has been brewing in my mind for a few years. I plan to go through my negatives and find every family Christmas picture beginning in 1987, the year Sweet Pea was born, and print them all as 5 X 7’s. Then I will frame them in sequence and hang them in my house. It will bless me every time I look at them and I think it will encourage our guests to see how our family has grown over the years.

Have fun, and get that picture take
n! You will be so glad to have it off your to-do list when the holidays arrive.


Home at Last

From Mimi:

Thanks to Sandra for taking these pictures of our parents’ arrival with Honeybee!

Here is the last email that my mother sent to us from Addis:

Subj: On Our Way Home

Hi Kids,

We are hanging out in the Cloud 9 business class lounge waiting to board our flight. Dad’s two trips to Ethiopia last year gave him Silver status on Ethiopian Airlines, so we are enjoying the perks – including internet!

We can hardly wait to be home – it is a long journey from here, but every minute gets us closer to all of you. Last night I dreamed that I was with all of you and Eby was kissing me with a sticky face – it was funny.

We’ll call you when we get to DC. We love you all so much.

We made one last trip to Little AHOPE this morning where we got to hold and love the newest little baby who is less than one month old. What a sweet little guy he is. We said goodbye and gave loves to all of the kids – I nearly cried when I left – I love those kids. To all of my friends with kids at AHOPE, I think I have photos for many of you and will try to send them out once I spend some time loving on my kids and getting Honeybee settled. Your kids are all wonderful.

We ran out to do one last bit of shopping, which was fun until I couldn’t find what I wanted, and when I did the shopkeeper was asking a ridiculous price. I finally found the same things for a much better price just a few doors down. We raced back to the guesthouse to begin packing and managed to finish only a little bit later than we had planned.

We spent the last two days with our friend, Getachew, as our driver. He is a wonderful, trustworthy man and has blessed us in so many ways. He is beginning a business offering 1/2 day, full day, and even two day trips for adoptive families. I think his services will be a great
help to visiting families because he knows all of the great places to go and he offers very fair prices. I will post more about him when we are home.

One of my favorite things we did yesterday – after God rescued us by making Honeybee’s visa come through – was visiting the weavers’ shop where we got to peer over their shoulders and watch then make beautiful, intricate designs. They are so talented. We were able to buy some of their work and had the extra pleasure of buying two things made by weavers who were in the shop at the time when I was purchasing them, so I got photos of them with the shawl and tablecloth.

Last night we had dinner with Hanna who has the ministry for orphaned girls, Children’s Heaven, and our very special friend, Mercy. We love this girl and are so happy to see her becoming part of Hanna’s program. This is the third time we have met Mercy and love her more
each time.

It is time to board our flight. I hope we sleep well!!


Thanks for stopping by my mom’s blog. Honeybee is having a great first day, and Mommy will post soon. If you haven’t seen the post below this one (with the pictures of my parents on the flight), you should take a look. It’s hilarious.


Photography by Honeybee

By Mimi: While our parents (WHO ARE FINALLY HOME!) were putting the little ones to bed, Rusty started uploading photos of the trip to the computer. We stumbled across these, and rolled around on the floor laughing for about ten minutes, before we got the brilliant idea to share them with you.

As the story goes, Honeybee (Miss B.’s new nickname) was getting restless on the long flight home so Mommy and Daddy turned her loose with the camera. These are a few of our favorites:

Full post, with photos…and a BRAND NEW FAMILY PICTURE…coming tomorrow! Mommy wants me to say “thank you” to everyone who has followed her blog throughout Honeybee’s adoption. Although, she might not be quite so grateful when she sees this post in the morning.


A post by Mimi

…Written as we sit around at home waiting for news of our family in Ethiopia. Some of this post is taken from my toast to the bride and groom, but edited to make sense to this audience. Note: All photography copyright Rusty Eyre unless otherwise noted.

My best friend Jessa got married on Saturday. I was her maid of honor, and it was a beautiful wedding. Jessa and I have known each other since the seventh grade, when we took a biology class for homeschooled students together (my dad actually taught the class). During one of the dissection labs early in the semester, all of the students were cutting up worms and my specimen was thin and shriveled and essentially impossible to dissect, so I looked around the room, and saw one girl with poufy hair who had a plump, formaldehyde-y worm. I decided to ask her if she wanted to be lab partners, and we’ve been best friends ever since.

(I snapped this photo a few minutes before we started formal photos with our absolutely brilliant photographer Rusty Eyre.)

Before Jessica emerged from the dressing room, we sent her fiance Joe to wait for her in the church so that they could have a moment alone before we started with pictures. Here she is, about to enter the church (this picture is one that I took):

Her fiance, on the other hand, I met quite a few years later, during the first semester of our freshman year at the U of I…(story continued below photo. Joe is the second from the left)

Jessa and I had a class together at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and one Tuesday in late autumn, it was bitterly cold. Jessa came to school wearing this cute little, white, quilted jacket that wasn’t very warm, and I remember her making some comment about how she was probably going to get hypothermia.

Around lunch time I ran into her again, but this time she was wearing a big parka. I asked her where she had gotten it, and she replied that this guy Joe (who I hadn’t met, but was a music student like herself) had been kind enough to let her borrow it for the day, and he was keeping an eye on her jacket in exchange.
(this picture is one that I took. The church didn’t have any areas we could use for dressing, so Jessa’s parents brought a trailer out for us to use)

Later that afternoon, I was sitting in the School of Music lobby, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy walk past, wearing a cute, little, white, quilted jacket. Bingo. I yelled after him, “Hey Joe!”
He turned and looked at me, clearly searching for name to match my face. No such luck.
I said, “You’re Joe, right?”
He said, “Yeahhhh…?”
I introduced myself, explaining that I was a friend of Jessa’s, whose cute little jacket he was currently barely squeezing into. I knew right then that he was a pretty special guy, but I had no idea just how special he was going to become.

Jessa is the first of her family to leave the nest, and I know it was bittersweet for her parents to say goodbye.

The groom and his groomsmen all went to the same highschool, and this pose is apparently the Cashmere Highschool Official Pose. Or something like that, and the guys decided to immortalize it in one of the pictures:

The wedding was in a tiny white church on top of a hill surrounded by wheat fields. In this picture, you can see my sister Sweet Pea on the far right side, in the pink dress:

The reception was fantastic. Joe’s mother custom-made a gigantic red tent with scalloped edges trimmed with white piping. We had fruit, bread and cheese, teriyaki meatballs with pineapple, vegetables, punch, wine and champagne, and, of course, cake. We danced, and we ate, and we toasted, and partied the night away…

Through the years, Jessa has been so much more than just my “best friend.” In her I have found a therapist, comedienne, teacher, comforter, confidante, and partner in crime. We have done everything together, from road tripping to Portland with the Honors program, to being in a production of the musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” We both suffered through braces for far longer than any human being should have to endure. We have had Bible studies, stayed up all night together writing papers for school, and consumed gallons of coffee in each other’s presence. We have cried in each other’s arms, and laughed until we couldn’t breathe.
Jessa’s presence in my life has impacted me deeply, and I love her like a sister. Joe is so incredibly blessed to take her as his wife, and I can’t wait until we all come together again to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.