Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Living in the Outtakes (New Family Pics)

Of all the messes we make and we are around here, Sunday mornings are the hottest ones.
It doesn't matter what we do or how we try or how everyone slept the night before, we are immune to getting our act together. We're incapable of forging a new path. We're rushed and cranky and on occasion, there is blood-shed.

We fly out the door for church - the one positioned just a breezy, 2 minute walk from our front door - leaving the house looking like a crime scene and the cat happy to have us gone.

On our best days, we squeeze into the pew somewhere during the first hymn.
On our worst? Nevermind.

So it makes perfect sense that I decided on a lark last Sunday to head to the park after church for a few family snapshots.

And if you don't believe me that it makes perfect sense, let me add the following to my body of evidence: It was 84 degrees out with harsh sunlight. Cory is allergic to all temps above 71. (And harsh sunlight.) We had a carry-in after our service. (I "invented" a pasta salad around midnight the night before with bacon grease as the secret ingredient.) Half of us were suffering through Allergies from The Pit of Hades. We had just gorged ourselves silly on church-lady food. The kids had better things to do (aka: anything else in the world besides wear church clothes past noon and pose for family pictures.)

But even more compelling than those reasons? We all kind of matched. And I was having a decent hair day.
The end. Goodbye.

Don't even think about trying to talk me out of this one, Cory Brandon. Don't you dare. I don't care if you're "dripping in sweat". Call someone who cares, but first, set up that tripod LIKE YOU MEAN IT.

We ran past the house to grab equipment before heading across the street to the park, and found our oldest Goober sitting in the driveway on a 4-hour pass from the clink.

Let me say again, This wasn't planned.

So yes, God was good to me. I can't tell you how badly I've wanted a family pic with all 6 of us and I had almost given up hoping.

In a twist of fate, dude was "dressed up" and even more arrogant about his appearance than usual. It worked in my favor. Selah.

But as pretty as that picture looks, of course it's only part-real, part-pretend. It doesn't begin to show all that we are, and for that fact we thank the God of the heavens.

Real life is everything happening just beyond the frame.

It's fun to capture our best selves now and then, but let's not get too attached with an ideal. Let's not forget that just one slim hour before, we were wearing chocolate frosting on our chin and inconspicuously slinking up to the buffet for thirds.

Here's more of what we caught on Sunday:

Oh, homeboys. For the love. Look alive.

The bad thing about Robert is that he lacks personality.
And a sense of adventure.
Also, he's shy and nervous about himself as a person. Afraid of the camera. Insecure.

 Also, he's just not affectionate AT ALL.
Typical teenager.

(Don't tell him I just called him a teenager because technically, he isn't. But in my heart, he shall always be...)
This guy is fairly fond of his big brother and doesn't miss a single beat, as evidenced by this photo and the fact that he picked out high-tops for his back-to-school shoes.

So far, he hasn't taken up smoking.

(I know smoking is not a laughing matter, reader-friends. JUST SAY NO.)

This happened when Cory was trying to set the timer on the camera. Silas climbed onto my lap and cuddled way in like he does when he's not busy raging or constructing elaborate water circuitry. "Take our picture like this!" 

So, duh. We did.

Sister could not stop twirling...

We didn't know Silas posed himself like this until we were sorting through the shots.
I can't look at it without cracking way up.

We had the most painful time trying to get a shot of the two of us, but only because we're the most awkward and weird people we know. (And the whole "allergic to the heat" thing.)

Bottom line: We nailed it.
Then again, the years have taught us to keep our expectations on the left side of the bell curve, if you know what I mean.

These pictures aren't fancy or airbrushed. There was no "golden hour" sun-flare or quirky props. Calvin is wearing his homemade cuff.

This is just us, and I love us so dang much.

Ruby's dress and Siley's T: Tea Collection
My dress: Vintage (from Vintage Twill at Junk Evolution, South Bend, IN)
Robert: Wal Mart (his fave)
Cory and Calvin: whatever.


Hey, guess what? I'm speaking at one of the main sessions at the annual Passion for Orphans conference (Oct. 3-5, 2014) in Boulder, Colorado.This year's theme is Hope and Healing and I'm  honored to have the chance to share with this group of fun, like-minded women about the journey of hope my family has been on through adoption.
"Passion for Orphans exists to serve women involved in adoption, fostering, and world wide orphan care in an authentic and Christ-centered manner." - from their site
They have put together a truly top-notch conference that covers a wide variety of relevant adoption/foster-/orphan-care topics.

Want to join us? DO IT! It's open to anyone who wants to attend and I would love to meet you!

You can go here for more info and to register. They also have a facebook page.


  1. These pictures are beautiful Shannon. I love every one of them!

  2. Y'all NAILED IT! And props are weird anyway. I have never seen a baby sleeping on a vintage suitcase in real life. :)

    1. My sister and I were just discussing the weirdness of props. We decided we needed to come up with a Dr. Suess like rhyme.....think Green eggs and ham.......Not on a car, not on the tracks, not with a suitcase, not looking over your back. Not looking sleezy, not in the weeds............not with a frame ........you get the idea :) Great pictures! The unplanned ones that everyone actually looks like themselves will be your favorites......if not today......in a few years :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. Such a beautiful family! My husband and I are currently going through the adoption process with our local foster system... These pics give me hope that this will be us one day. :) Thanks for starting my day with a smile.

  4. I loved looking at these pictures! I can count on one hand the number of family pics we have, haha. This gives me hope! Now, I just need to remember to bring out the good camera more than twice a year...baby steps.

  5. Oh Shannon, these are FABULOUS photos!!!!

    I just love seeing how prettily, feminine Ruby loves to be. She makes me want to buy more skirts. She is a lovely young lady.

    I love the pic of you and Cory.

    Actually I love them all, real life, love and fun! I love your family and thank you for sharing all of you with us.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  6. So perfect! All of them! I know we don't really know each other, but I'm just so happy for you that you got such awesome family pictures.... My family won't cooperate. I have 2 little boys. I keep telling them all I want is a picture of them in their Easter clothes but it's now August and it still hasn't happened! :(

  7. I love everything about this post. Perhaps b/c my husband is also allergic to sun. And family picture taking. :)

  8. We took family pics every year for YEARS....from the time I was pregnant with our oldest until our youngest (of 3) graduated from High School 2 years ago. Every year it was the same long story fraught with wrestling and squirming and photo bombing.... EVERY.DARN YEAR -- even when they were 18, 21 and 24!!!!!!! :-) BUT, so worth it and it has created a wonderful record of our family! (Thankfully the photographer was a family friend....especially the year they posed with their backs to the camera like they were "watering" the trees!)

  9. Oh Shannan - just perfect! But the one with Robert's arms around you? Melt. My. Heart.

    And on a side note, I'm dying to know how Silas is liking the big world of Kindergarten! xo

  10. love these pictures...you are indeed blessed! the picture of you and Robert...dude loves his mama right there!!

  11. I DIE. These are perfection - especially all the flowers framing you and Corey eh, Flower Patch Farm Girl. LOVE

  12. These are just wonderful! I'm so glad you were able to sneak them in, unplanned; those always end up being the best!

  13. You made me tear up. I might also be in the throes of PMS, but then again there's you and all your kids and wow, look at what God can do.

  14. Precious in His sight, every last one of you - in the frame and beyond.

  15. Uff da, lady. The photo of you and Robert brought spontaneous tears to my eyes. Such beauty from what could have been such ashes.

  16. your dress looks adorable! Great pictures of my favorite little family :)

  17. What a great looking family! Thanks for sharing!

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

  18. Um, Silas' pose. I laughed out loud. Definitely should be in the biggest frame. :) LOVE it.

  19. 'Then again, the years have taught us to keep our expectations on the left side of the bell curve, if you know what I mean.'
    Word. tears are rolling down my face. Could this family be more beautiful? I think not. those lucky jokers in bolder.... better be kind to Shanny Belle of the North. (and you know they will....) You. inspire. Word.

    1. From now on: Shanny Belle of the North! shall be my name.
      I love it.

  20. These photos - and the lives lived in the outtakes - are stunning. Thanks for inviting us in. =)

  21. Oh man, these pictures made me a little weepy.

    And I hear you about Sunday mornings. Every week we tear out of the house like maniacs and then come home after church and I think "What in the...we've been vandalized!" Nope.

  22. These photos couldn't be more perfect!! What a beautiful family ❤️

  23. Shannan, this is all kinds of good. I really hope you already have this blown up on one of those giant canvases, propped against the wall and are still looking for the hammer or a spare nail to hang it.

  24. I big puffy heart all of them! But you know what I big puffy heart more? The fact that you shared the "real life" behind the gorgeous shots. Because that's us all.day.long. I try too hard and end up being disappointed. Sometimes I'm surprised at what turns up. I'm glad life is full of surprises and I'm glad you made Cody set up that tripod. ;)

  25. They are all very sweet. But the one with Robert's shoes parked off to the side of Calvin? Speaks volumes. I hope that biggest brother gets it. <3

  26. These are amazing! Your family is beautiful...and I love the back story and how it all worked out.

  27. Love these photos - but I really love what's inside the frame and your "story." That is the masterpiece!

  28. These just made me smile SO big! LOVE them!!!

  29. Sunday mornings - for real! Gah!
    Love, love the pics. How awesome God worked out that little detail of having your oldest home for them.

  30. I kinda love every single thing about this. You just make me smile to pieces.

  31. I'm stuck on the clink. Can you get him to go to church with you? : - )

  32. I'm loving this! You have such a wonderful way of saying what I'm thinking but can never quite articulate. I LOVE, love, love that all 6 were there. Awesome blessings! Wish I could be in Boulder to meet you.

  33. wait, you are coming to colorado?!?
    could we meet for chips and salsa? do you have extra time?
    we need to discuss this further. asap.

  34. Good LAWD, you make me giggle!!

    raging and water circuitry...Calvin having not taken up smoking yet -I laughed. As a kid I had candy cigarettes. And I've never smoked. Just seemed cool. As did my mom's glasses that made the world seem wonky, fake casts and slings for my arm (I always wanted a broken arm so I could have the cast. I was a weird kid.) and a paperclip fashioned as a top brace for my teeth.

    Be careful what you wish for! I had braces AND glasses! No broken arm yet...or smoking!

    Anyway...you make me giggle. And I thank you!!

  35. These are awesome! The first one seems like a miracle - everyone looking at the camera AND smiling?!?!
    Your family is precious and extraordinarily beautiful.
    This doesn't necessarily relate, but I have been troubled by the cucumbers! I want you to be able to garden! You need to garden. :) Is it the walnut tree? Tell us if you have a plan for next year.

    1. Well, upon second look, Cory is only half smiling. :)
      Is it the heat allergy?

  36. Youz beauteeous. all. I really must get round here much more often. Littles keep gettin big. I'm always renewed.



    Love that all 6 of you together- things just work the way they're supposed to don't they!
    Melissa x

  38. You are all so DANG CUTE!!! Great set of pictures - thanks so much.

  39. shannie!!! these are fabulous!!!!!

  40. Gorgeous family and gorgeous pictures! They are all perfect.

  41. Love, love, love these photos. I don't know you except through your writing, but these seem to capture your family perfectly. and it's so much nicer without the beard!

  42. I'm slow getting here, but I have three things to say:
    1) Cory and I must've been twins separated at birth. I'm right there with him when it comes to heat!
    2) Your "home boys" comment made me laugh out loud. You have three really cute little rascals!
    3) Robert = lagniappe*
    * From our years in Louisiana; pronounced LAN-yap; defined as a bonus or – as used here – an extra gift!

  43. I pulled up this post this morning to share with Neal. That pic of Robert loving on you wrecks me! And it challenges me to live each and every day for my savior! So proud of you all! I feel like these pictures are a reflection of the heart of our savior. :)

  44. I love everything about these family pictures. I love the realness (is that a word?), the authenticity of your family. Your family is truly beautiful and unique. I am so blessed by your blog, Thanks!
    Also, on side note, I totally get that whole husband allergic to heat thing. My husband seems to have the same exact allergy ;)

  45. I see a lot of love in these photos. The way Cory leans in to you shows a lot of souls-fused-for-good stuff that you can NOT airbrush in.
    Ruby looks like she'd be a riot to hang out with, btw.

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