2015 Best of 10-on-10

Another year is almost in the books, and that means another batch of 10-on-10s is done! Today I continue the annual tradition of my best of 10-on-10, my personal favorites from all the 10-on-10 photos I’ve posted this year. I’m teaming up with my usual 10-on-10 partner in crime, my dear friend Elizabeth Wendland.

2015 was a year of loss, love, and new life, too. It wasn’t an easy year by any means, but it is still good to look back and see that in the midst of some hard times, there was a lot of joy as well. The kids grew a lot, and my husband and I grew a lot (in different ways, of course), too. And then there was the new baby, who continues to bring us so much joy and is a constant reminder of how blessed we are.

Here are some of my favorites from my 10-on-10 photos. You don’t even want to see what my personal archives from the year look like! I finished with a restrained 2200 images. Ha!

photo of toddler football fan

my lil Hawks fan! S grew the most over the course of the year

photo of laughing girl

my happy girl

photo of three kids

the kids… before there were 4!

photo of toddler boy

he usually isn’t one to sit for photos, but oddly enough I ended up with more of him than any other child!

photo of toddler

mischievous little guy

photo of child on dad's shoulders

One of my favorites: two of my guys just looking happy

photo of kids gazing at divers in aquarium

gazing at the divers at the aquarium

portrait of girl

portrait of my girl

photo of gap-toothed girl

gap-toothed grin

photo of toddler in shadow

dark and light

silly husband

my hubby acting silly

photo of sleeping girl

still some glimpses of babyhood

photo of hospital bag contents

four days before the littlest came, all the things I packed in my bag… and then I barely made it to the hospital in time!

photo of boy pouting


photo of girl

on her 7th birthday

photo of dad and son

another imperfect photo of a perfect moment

photo of baby

more mischief lurking beneath the surface

photo of homeschooling children

a very typical scene at our house

photo of baby

And of course, there was baby E….

Will you think about participating in 10-on-10 next year with me? Are you doing another photo challenge instead? Let me know in the comments!

And in the meantime, let’s visit Beth’s blog to see her favorites from the year, too!

What to Pack in the Hospital Bag…and What to Leave Behind

One question every mom faces is what to pack in the hospital bag for her birth. On my fourth-time around now, I can now consider myself fairly experienced at prepping for a hospital birth. Over the years, I’ve streamlined what I take along to the hospital and also made a few adjustments based on the type of birth I tend to have (quick, hard, unmedicated). So what to take along to the hospital, and perhaps more importantly, what should be left behind? Here are my favorites… and the good news is that almost all of the items would be right at home in your diaper bag AFTER baby’s birth, too!

photo of essential hospital birth bag items

A few of my hospital birth bag essentials… some are fairly typical and some may be new to you! Most also find their way into my diaper bag after birth, too. (iPhone photo)


I’m skipping a few of the obvious items (toothbrush, clothes for mama, nursing bra–nobody needs to see my “unmentionables” but here are some essentials I can’t live without:

  • what to pack for baby: Most hospitals provide a little t-shirt and the ubiquitous pink and blue striped blanket for swaddling. For clothes *in* the hospital, I prefer the newborn gowns with an open bottom, which makes access for heel pokes and diaper changes easy. For the ride home, I like something easy to wear in the carseat (and easy to put on), like this zippered sleeper. I prefer zippers to snaps. A NICU nurse friend of mine pointed out that for NICU babies where access for monitors and leads is necessary, snaps are needed, but fortunately we haven’t faced that with any of our kids.
  • bath wash for baby, and a few sample-sized toiletries for mom: hospitals usually have Johnson & Johnson baby wash, and I just prefer to use something tailored for sensitive skin. My favorite bath wash for my kids is California Baby Super Sensitive body wash. Target has some gift sets with sample sizes that make lovely baby shower gifts for a new mom. The 2-oz. bottle pictured above is perfect to take along to the hospital. I also scrounge up a couple sample-sized toiletry items of my favorites so that I can feel refreshed after birth. Nobody wants to feel grungy and gross. And yes, I know some people prefer not to wash baby for several days after birth, but after my second child was born and was the cheesiest, most vernix-y child you’ve ever seen, I’ve learned sometimes a bath is just a must!
  • lip balm: the hard work of labor can dry out lips. I am a lip balm snob, and EcoLips is my absolute favorite. Usually available in the “natural foods” section of grocery stores, or at places like Whole Foods.
  • phone chargers and spare camera battery: easy to forget in the heat of running out the door, but very inconvenient not to have
  • essential oils: this time around I’m taking along a few essential oils. Test them beforehand and make sure you have no smell aversion to them, as smells that are only slightly annoying when not in labor can become REALLY annoying when laboring. For me, I’m taking along citrus bliss and spearmint (a lovely invigorating mix), deep blue (designed to ease muscle tension and pain), and some peppermint beadlets (I am really sensitive to funky breath tastes/smells when laboring). I have been fortunate not to have really prolonged labors in the past, so I’m able to take a fairly minimal oil selection. This isn’t a must-have, but is a definite “nice to have.”
  • Bible and birth affirmations/verses: I love my small ESV journaling Bible for portability and church, and it’s coming along with me to the hospital. This time around I also copied some of my favorite verses and inspiring quotes onto some Project Life cards and hole-punched them for quick reference during labor if I need a boost.
  • swaddle blanket: hospitals will provide the usual pink & blue striped blanket, but I also like to take along a white swaddle blanket (the bamboo Aden & Anais brand is ultra-soft and big enough to make swaddling easy). The white blanket also acts as a beautiful natural reflector for photos of baby in the hospital, and of course as a photographer I have to consider these things 😉
  • ring sling: I’m a babywearing addict, even in the hospital. I find ring slings my favorite choice for newborns, so I’m taking along a Sakura Bloom ring sling.
  • wet bag: the orange bag above is a “wet bag,” a bag designed to hold wet items and prevent leakage. These have become indispensable for any trip I take, and the hospital is no exception. I fully expect to have some dirty baby clothes to pack up, clothes from me from laboring, and more, and the wet bag is an awesome way to segregate your dirties. And really, every mom needs one… great for swimming, potty accidents, and more.

Now, what to leave behind?  I am basing these recommendations on my own experiences at two different local hospitals. Independent birth centers and hospitals out of the US may provide different items, so you may want to ask your care provider ahead of time. But here are items I have found are best left at home.

  • diapers (yes, cloth AND disposable): the hospital will provide diapers. I love using cloth, but really, you are best leaving the cloth at home. You will likely only be at the hospital 1-3 days, and it is just one less thing to keep track of… and nurses are often NOT used to cloth diapers and that can be an issue, too. I’ve found it best just to leave the cloth at home, where I know it’s safe and no chance of being mixed in with other laundry.
  • tons of baby clothes: again, you likely won’t be there long (and if you are, someone can bring more clothing). Most of the time baby is swaddled and close to you. This is not the time for a fashion show. Minimize the luggage and leave lots of outfits at home. Focus on a couple things that are easy to dress baby in.
  • birth balls: check ahead of time, but most hospitals (at least in the Seattle area) do provide access to the big exercise balls for use in labor.
  • pre-pregnancy jeans: seriously, just don’t. You don’t need that kind of pressure (or possible “downer”). Wear comfy clothes home: a maxi skirt or maternity yoga pants are a good choice.

What are some other items that you found were must-haves during your hospital stay? Leave a comment below to let me know, and let’s chat! 

10-on-10: a special invitation

It’s been quiet on the site lately, and for good reason. Life is made up of different seasons, and while we have enjoyed times of health and abundance and new life in the past, February and March were not that for us. We battled some serious medical issues with our kids, and today we said goodbye to my father-in-law at his funeral, after he passed away only 37 days after being diagnosed with cancer.

I cannot even put into words all that has gone through my mind in the past month and a half… fears of losing my second-born as I struggled to watch him breathe, processing a diagnosis for my father-in-law that we never saw coming, and then realizing that his time with us would be far shorter than any of us anticipated–all of it was gut-punching and breathtakingly fast and has left us reeling a bit.

In the midst of it all, though, I have found solace in the tiny moments of joy that I see around us, even in the midst of pain. And more than ever, I have been thankful that my children and I have many photos celebrating our loved ones and their place in our lives.

As I thought of my father-in-law, Bill, I knew there were a few photos that I had taken last year that really captured my favorite things about him: his love for my kids, his smile, his vibrancy. As I went on my computer to find them, I realized they were taken last year on April 10. I don’t take nearly enough photos everyday of my family, but on the 10th of each month, I’ve made it a discipline to cart along my “big camera,” even when inconvenient, and force myself to take 10 photos. I am so grateful now that I was “forced” to do this, and that my littlest one will have some images that show just how his grandfather delighted in him.

These photos would likely not exist without 10-on-10. And likewise, I have some true gems from last year that I was “forced” to take because I was participating in Project 365 (a picture a day, everyday, for a year). 

10-on-10 is the easiest personal photography project I have undertaken. Ten photos on the 10th of the month. It is achievable, contained to less than 24 hours, and even though it may seem like these photos are unimportant, you cannot possibly foresee now just how important they may be in the future. At the very least, your children will be able to enjoy seeing a glimpse into your everyday life and know just a little bit more of you, even if you are just chronicling a “boring” day.

If you feel ready to take on something even more ambitious, try the photo-a-day challenge. I let my Project 365 slip this year, but I’m ready to tackle a photo-a-day again for the next 100 days, for the Choose Joy 100 Day Challenge (yes, I just made that up). It just so happens there are 101 days between April 10 and my anticipated due date for baby #4, so it seems fitting to approach the next 100 days as I ready for this child with a heart of gratitude, joy, and hope.

Because for me, that is what a personal photo project is all about: each photo should be an affirmation of the joy, love, hope, and faith that embody your everyday. This is why I am so passionate about photographing your “blessed everyday”–because I love seeing the real-life, unvarnished love that we share as families and humans.

Please join me for one of these challenges (10-on-10 or the Choose Joy 100 Day Challenge), and please comment below if you do so! Embrace this opportunity to celebrate your lives and your loved ones. Your photos don’t have to be award-winning or meet some invisible standard; just let your love and “you” shine through.

In the meantime, I want to share the photos that I am now so grateful for, from last April’s 10-on-10 collection.

photo of grandfather with toddler photo of grandfather with toddler, Maple Valley family photographer Covington_MapleValley_lifestyle_photographer_3

2014 Best of 10-on-10

Oh, what a year! Today I continue the annual tradition of my best of 10-on-10, my personal favorites from all the 10-on-10 photos I’ve posted this year. I’m teaming up with my usual 10-on-10 partner in crime, Beth from Life as a Sports Mom.

If 2013 was a year of birth, change and feeling somewhat off-kilter all year, then 2014 brought a bit of stability and (relative) calm. Life with three kids found me at home much of the time, so it’s no surprise that the focus of my 10-on-10 favorites tended to be my kids.

I have always advocated people do 10-on-10 because it’s a fairly “doable” photo challenge, a lot less daunting than a Project 365 or even a Project 52 (a picture a week), and yet over the course of the year it does succeed in capturing a glimpse of life, even if along the way I am grumbling to myself, “These pictures stink; nothing even *happened* this month.”

And yet, a lot happens when you are standing so close to a situation you are almost blinded by its proximity. Over the course of a year, the baby morphed from a crawling 8-month-old to a full-fledged toddler, my middle son from a crazy 3-year-old to a slightly-less-crazy 4-year-old, and my daughter into what now seems like a “real” kid, full of humor, insight and fun.

Without further adieu *drumroll*, my personal favorites from this year’s 10-on-10 collection…

sleeping child in father's arms

Evenings like this are long past now. Our baby would never fall asleep like this anymore!


The sweetest baby face.


Just lounging around… bedtime shenanigans.


E. I love how his personality shines in this one.


The little miss.


A rare serious look at E. Usually he hams it up the moment a camera appears.


The only 10-on-10 picture NOT taken by me, image by my then-5-year-old.


Summertime fun!


The birthday girl.


Just an everyday image, but I like it.


Which 10-on-10 image is your favorite? Are there any that didn’t make the cut that were particularly memorable for you? Let me know in the comments!

And in the meantime, let’s visit Beth’s blog to see her favorites from the year, too!

100 Days of Project 365: 10 favorite pictures

It’s April, and I’ve reached 100 days of Project 365! Project 365 is simple: take one photo a day for 365 days.  I started on January 1, but some people start on their own birthday, a child’s birthday, or simply some random day!

Some fun facts from my first 100 days of Project 365:

* 4 photos feature coffee

*  6 photos that I appear in

* 16 photos do not include a face

Being “forced” to photograph everyday things daily can be challenging. Let’s be honest; my life is hardly glamorous. 🙂 But it is mine, and I want to celebrate it! Today I’m sharing 10 personal favorites from my first 100 days of Project 365.  (To see them all, please check out #365blessedeveryday or browse my instagram account @theblessedeveryday.)


picture of brothers resting

1/1/14: the first pic of the year. Love this pic of my boys.


photo of little boy

1/6/14: “Talk to the Hand”–only 6 days in, and Eli was already weary of pictures


toddler laughing

1/21/14: Late-night shenanigans. Giggles in bed.


photo of girl smiling

1/23/14: Not a perfect picture technically, but love the pure joy on G’s face.


photo of shooter at gun range

2/7/14: at the shooting range, one of the few photos of me so far!


photo of silhouette baby

2/8/14: inspired by Hitchcock. Project 365 gives me the chance to experiment with some different concepts.


photo of baby playing by window

3/21/14: love the light streaming through the window


photo of kids with toy car

3/24/14: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride? The kids take Lightning out for a spin.


father and son photo

3/27/14: one of my favorite images so far, father and son.


sleeping baby

4/3/14: I have lots of sleeping baby photos, but none do I like more than this one, which was captured with the iPhone while Seth was in his carseat.

It’s never too late to start a Project 365. Is this a project you could join? Or is the more modest Project 52 (a picture a week) more realistic for you? Have you ever completed either? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!