Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This year's Christmas card

So this year's Christmas card marks a major shift for us -- we've decided that our kids are way cuter than we are, so the front of our card features just them.  Plus, it's significantly easier to get a cute portrait of them than it is to do a remote/timer shot of all four of us at once...  ;)  I did manage to eke one out this fall, so the back of our card has a black and white photo of all four of us.  Which is one of literally only two photos I have of all four of us together this year...  Any photographers in central NJ want to do a family photo swap sometime next year?  :)

Joshua and Sophia were actually kind of happy and excited about photos this crisp late fall morning when I dressed them up for Christmas photos.  Joshua thought it was hilarious, sitting on the leaves -- he kept asking Sophia if she saw the leaves, and laughing when she would try to eat some.  :)  And Sophia was just excited to be outside, giggling when the wind blew and content to sit and smile at the world around her.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our 2013 special ornament

So far, we've managed to continue our little family tradition of having a special annual Christmas ornament to commemorate the year... This marks our eighth year of doing this!  Pretty soon, I'll have to find a different way to display these ornaments...  :)

2013 was a big year of change and growth for our family.  Both David and I have had exciting new challenges professionally -- me with my new job ventures, David with his ever-evolving responsibilities in campus ministry.  Sophia continues to grow and change in leaps and bounds every day, adding new words and new motor skills seemingly by the minute.

But perhaps the biggest, most obvious change to our family rhythms this year was the introduction of formal school for Joshua.  Starting preschool has brought so many exciting and wonderful changes in our little guy's life.  He's grown so much in vocabulary and art skills and other immediately obvious "learning" skills.  But it's also been amazing to watch him grow in understanding in so many different ways -- from complex sentence structures, to empathy for other children, to remembering what he's done during the day and being excited to relate extended stories about what he did, it's all been such a joy to watch!

And having Joshua in school three mornings a week has opened up a lot of time for the rest of us.  It *is* a bit of a scramble on school mornings to get Joshua fed, dressed, and out the door by 8:15.  But once he's there, I've had some really sweet one-on-one times with Sophia.  And when she's taking her morning nap, I suddenly have decent stretches of time to catch up on life.  :)

So we thought that it would be fitting to get a little school-themed ornament this year, to remember the beginning of this new season in our family's life.  We're so thankful that Joshua's first experiences of school have been predominantly positive, and we pray that he'll continue to enjoy his time learning and exploring and growing through his entire school career!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some fun kiddo updates

Earlier this fall, Joshua taught Sophia how to play a version of hide and seek.  It starts with all three of us sitting on the floor of the living room.  Joshua then asks me, "can the two children go away from you, Mama?"  Which is my cue to tell him, "yes, let's see if Sophia can find you!"  He then crawls quickly away, over to the kitchen, and calls Sophia's name.  About half the time, Sophia will take her cue and start crawling over to the kitchen to look for Joshua.  Even though he's always, always in exactly the same place, she'll look under the dining table, in the bathroom, and then make her way to the kitchen.  When she comes into view, they both start squealing with glee.  Cutest hide and seek ever!!


Joshua has started learning how to take pictures with my cell phone camera.  He'll hold the phone, compose a shot, tap the shutter button, and then immediately hit the camera roll to see the photo he took.  And then get distracted by scrolling through the other pictures and then ask if he can find Thomas (i.e., watch YouTube videos).  :)  But in that brief moment of focus, he's actually got a pretty good eye!  Here's his first photographic attempt, an image he's titled "Purple Cadillac Needs Help."


Words that Sophia definitely knows how to say now and uses regularly in the right context:

- hi
- please ("peesss")
- thank you ("hmm-ooo" with a glottal stop in the middle)
- no
- no touch (usually said when she's trying to touch something she knows she shouldn't!)
- no hit (usually said indignantly to her big brother)
- bye-bye
- dada
- mama
- yum yum
- cheese
- bless you


We had our first snow last week, and Joshua woke up super excited to see it falling.  He came into our bedroom and glued himself to the window to watch the snow.  Sophia was still asleep at first, so it was just the three of us and the snowfall.  Then Sophia started stirring, which drew Joshua's attention to the video monitor on my nightstand.  He immediately picked up the monitor, and following the principle of "if I can see you, you can see me," he pressed the monitor to the window, saying earnestly, "Sophia! Look at the snow!!"

More snowy fun: when David goes out to clear the car, Joshua insists on getting his boots, coat, and mittens "just like Papa," so he can "wipe the snow" alongside him.  :)


(This was posted verbatim on FB, but it's too good not to share here!)

Sophia: *indeterminate screaming*
Me: *holding her, rocking her, walking her around*
S: *more indeterminate screaming*
Me: Sweetheart, what do you need?
S: *deep breath* Chzzz.
Me: Cheese? OK, we can get you cheese!
S: Peessss ["please"].
Me: *handing her cheese*
S: Hmm-ooh ["thank you"] *happy and quiet snacking*

Communication, y'all. It works wonders!


The kiddos' favorite part of Stone Hill Church?  The food!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stone Hill Church of Princeton

One other thing that's kept me busy this fall?  I've started a new part time job!

The legal recruiting gig that I started back in January has been great in terms of its flexibility, and I can see how it could be a wonderful work-from-home income generator.  But in this season of our family's life, with two very young children at home, I just haven't been able to carve out the hours that the job really would require.  I've had some promising opportunities (and one that may still work out this year), but after taking a hard look at our finances and our needs, we decided in late October that I should probably start looking for something that would be a better fit.

Just when we came to this conclusion, our senior pastor called and asked if I would consider taking an executive position at our church.  Totally out of the blue, perfect timing -- God saw our need and opened a door that I never would have considered a possibility.  And the job is such a wonderful fit for me, and for us!  Officially, I'm the Executive Associate to the Senior Pastor.  We're all still working out exactly what that means, but essentially, I'm here to provide logistical and executive support to Pastor Matt and, secondarily, the other pastoral staff.  I'm in charge of church public relations, I'm coordinating special events, I'm working out feasibility analyses for Pastor Matt and Pastor Tracy (both of whom are big idea guys, so my detail-oriented persnickettiness is actually of use!), and I'm taking basic executive functions of their plates so they can better focus on ministry work.  And I'm loving it all!

It's been a critical season of work for the church these last few months, too -- because after over 25 years of trying, planning, and praying, Westerly Road Church has finally built a new church building, and transitioned into being Stone Hill Church of Princeton this month!

"When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, 'The LORD has done great things for them.'  The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad."  (Ps. 126)

I took some photos of the old Westerly Road Church building on our last Sunday in that space.  Small though it may have been (see the odd L-shaped sanctuary, where an office wing was repurposed to make more room for the congregation?), it was well-loved!

And then I had the pure joy of taking some photos at the first worship service at the new Stone Hill Church.  The name was chosen in part as a nod to the geographic location -- the building sits on a very rocky piece of land, on a bit of a ridge, near the township of Rocky Hill.  But there are also deeper theological shades of meaning to the name.  The "stone" could reference Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of the church, and all the members of the body as living stones out of which God builds His church.  And the "hill" evokes, among other things, the city on a hill, with the light of the gospel shining forth in the darkness.

After so many years of praying and hoping, it was such a JOY to worship together in such a beautiful space!

The Atrium is a truly lovely space, and for the first time, we now have the ability to stay and talk and actually see other members of the church, rather than being quickly forced outside due to space limitations!

Joshua and Sophia loved the Atrium, too.  :)

What a beautiful space, and what a joyous occasion!  As Pastor Matt preached and prayed on Sunday, may the gospel come in power in this place!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 in North Carolina

This year, for Thanksgiving, we made the drive all the way down to North Carolina to spend a few days with my parents and brothers.  It was a long drive, with lots of crazy holiday traffic, but it was definitely worth the effort to make this visit!

Sophia is old enough now to be beyond most of the worst of her stranger anxiety, so she deigned to allow her grandparents and uncles to hold her and play with her.  And Joshua is old enough to really play with others and appreciate all manner of fun games!

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, got to meet my brother Eric's girlfriend Heajin, went to see "Catching Fire" while my parents watched the kids, and generally had a lovely time.

Next time we visit, I'll have to bring my proper camera.  :)

Thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Joshua's first school picture!

One of the preschool rites of passage that I was most looking forward to was seeing Joshua's first school pictures.  You can never tell whether it'll be hilarious or cringeworthy, but with Joshua, I knew either way, it would be super cute.  :)

On picture day, we spent the morning before school talking about photographers and cameras and how super happy fun exciting it would all be.  One of the "Thomas the Tank Engine" episodes Joshua loves to watch includes a segment with a photographer taking pictures of the trains, so he had a fun point of reference for the whole experience.  (Read: more fun than the times mama forces him to sit next to Sophia and smile and look at her annoying camera!)

When I picked him up from school that morning, I asked him about the photographer, and he was full of fun stories.  "There was a 'tographer at Joshua's school! I liked the 'tographer. I sit down in a chair! TWO kids sat on the table. One kid was sad. I was sad, Mama, I was sad. The 'tographer took my picture! And I was sad! I liked the 'tographer."

So, um, I really wasn't sure whether the photo captured him in a happy frame of mind, liking the chair, or if he would be sympathy screaming with another kid...

The photos came in a few weeks later, and oh my goodness, y'all, look at this cuteness!

When I get a chance, I really need to scan in the photo, but this cell phone shot will do for now!  I'm so very, ridiculously pleased with this first school picture.  So impressed that the photographer caught a genuine smile from our handsome little man!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Random Instagrammy goodness

Just some fun Instagram shots from this fall, to record these memories for posterity.  :)

I can't get over how cute Sophia is when she plays peekaboo!  Her chubby wee hands are juuuust barely big enough to cover her eyes!

He asked me to build a tower with his cars.  I told him it wasn't possible, and tried to steer him to other toys.  Minutes later, I see this.

Fifi's first pigtail!

"I make a big tower!  And now I make a big smile!"

A lazy Saturday morning playing in the window seat.

Joshua's first field trip -- to a farm!  With a bus, and a hayride!

Sophia loves wiping up, and will try to help clean any time you give her a napkin or cloth.

With Shaddai on Ms. Angela's birthday, at small group.

Sophia's pumpkin butt sleeping position (deeply asleep on a Monday morning, just before I have to wake her so we can pick Joshua up from school...)

Playing with friends' water bottles during Wednesday small group!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

One of Joshua's favorite books this year has been "The Story of Ferdinand," so we decided together that he would be Ferdinand for Halloween this year.  And since Ferdinand loves to "sit just quietly and smell the flowers," we thought it would be appropriate for Sophia to be a little pink flower!

And Joshua is old enough this year to get into the acting part of being in a costume -- I asked him to smell the flower like Ferdinand does, and he fully complied!

We had two Halloween-related parties with Joshua's preschool class this year.  The first was a fun little gathering at Thomas' house, where the kids dressed up in their costumes and had lots of fun unstructured playtime and Halloween treats.  (For days afterward, Joshua asked if we could go back to Thomas' house so he could have lollipops!)

And then there was a costume parade and celebration at Joshua's school.  The kids went one by one across a low balance beam, stopped in the middle, and announced to the crowd of parents what they were for Halloween.  Joshua marched out happily when it was his turn, and proudly shouted out "Ferdinand!!"  I was so proud!

The kids finished up by singing some fall-themed songs and gleefully showing all of us parents their favorite hand motions.

So, so absurdly cute.  :)  And so much fun, now that Joshua is getting old enough to really enjoy holiday traditions like this!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Going pro

One of the things that's kept me so very busy this fall is my growing little photography business.

...And I'm pretty sure that's the first mention of Christina Keddie Photography I've made on this here blog.  Which is a little absurd, since I've been legally in business since May 2012!  So let's backtrack just a bit, shall we?

When I left my last law firm job, a dear friend of ours, who is himself a photographer and also works at the University communications office, mentioned that he might be able to throw some freelance photography work my way, as a small way of supplementing our family income.  So I went through the process of making myself a legal small business owner, thinking I would take the occasional job from the University but not do much more than that.  I registered myself with the state and filled out all the appropriate forms, did a little bit of market research to figure out a fair quote for freelance event work, and slapped together a portfolio.  Which was thankfully pretty diverse and full of Princeton-related event photos already, thanks to being the unofficial PEF photographer for so many years!

I got to do a few paid gigs for the Princeton Alumni Weekly and the Ivy League Christian Observer, and had such a blast doing them.  I found, to my surprise, that not only did I enjoy the photographing and post-processing work, but I also really liked thinking about the business side of things and being an entrepreneur.  Slowly, I started diving into the world of running a business -- writing up a basic business plan, learning how to market myself, painstakingly figuring out a good and sustainable pricing model, drafting contracts (for myself, not for a corporate client!)... I found myself voraciously reading everything I could get my hands on about pricing, client relations, photography business structures, and following all kinds of rabbit trails through this exciting new world -- usually while I was up late at night nursing Sophia.  ;)

So last October, I officially launched my business Facebook page.  I ran my first mini-sessions special, and started putting myself out there to attract portrait and wedding clients.  This past April, I shot my first wedding as the primary photographer.  And over the summer and fall, I've had a steady trickle of bookings -- referrals from friends of mine, and, excitingly, people who just found me via a Google search and decided to hire me!

I'm consciously keeping this a part-time venture for now (you know, while I have another part-time job and two very young kiddos at home!).  My goal is to have an average of two portrait sessions per month and two to three weddings per year.  And this fall, during the photography busy season (October into November), I'm booked solid!

So I just wanted to share a few of my favorites from this year.  I feel like sharing them here makes it even more real that I am, in fact, a professional photographer.  ;)  I'm so thankful for work that I love and that fits well with our family's needs in this season of life!