Deanna + Mark

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Deanna + Mark

When I found out that these two would be heading up our Music Boosters for the next couple of years, I was so excited for the opportunity to work with them! You've seen Paul's senior photos and their family photos here before, so before Paul went off to college for his (gasp!) sophomore year, Deanna wanted to update the frames at home. They are a family that verbally and physically reiterate their trust in me as their family photographer, so I took full advantage, took them all over Des Moines and made Trent act like a monkey for our first group shot: 

We have a few with sensitive eyes in this group so, not only did we need to find dark shade (at 9am) but I needed to find deep shade where I'd be in the shade too. What better than a bridge downtown? 

I've had the pleasure of seeing these boys in the band room on a regular basis, but now, Colin has moved on to the high school, so I've just got Trent. *whomp whomp* (j/k!! I get Trent!! whoohooo!! ;) ) He serenades us in the band room most mornings with his piano skills and best attempts at Billy Joel ballades. ;) 

Mark & Deanna: It is truly a pleasure to work with you, hang out with you and share a little bit of life with you in the midst of busy schedules. You both exude confidence and consideration of others and it's contagious to those around you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family's life and for raising such incredible young men. Your example is much appreciated to this Mama of Littles. :) 

Blessings on the start of the school year! 
Carrie
PS You can view more of our time together HERE. 

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Madisen : Class of 2018

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Madisen : Class of 2018

A friend of a friend and former student and seeing my work on Twitter helped get this young lady in front of my camera! I've had the pleasure of teaching her younger siblings and several of her friends and I'm so thankful I got to know Madi during our time together last week. A stellar student and tennis player, I can tell that Madi is destined for great things as she faces college options this fall! 

We had a great time maximizing our space near West Des Moines' Library and thoroughly enjoyed the lighting provided to us! 

We headed over to Raccoon River and had fun with the sunset and water!

Lastly, we hit a quick stop in Valley Junction and added her beloved favorite tennis racket to mark that participation throughout high school:

Madi & Sandee: Thank you so much for trusting me to capture you in this special time of your life! It's an honor and I really enjoyed getting to know a new student outside of the music program. I wish you nothing but the best for your senior year-enjoy your internship in the math department and I know you're going to do awe-some things beyond your time at Norwalk High School. 

Blessings in everything, 

Carrie

PS You can view the rest of our time together HERE. 

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Increasing Capacity

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Increasing Capacity

I started the idea of this post at the end of June--it's been a whirlwind summer filled with very, very good things! But allow me to back up briefly to the end of the school year in May. I'll work to make this long story short by saying that, after asking questions of my administration at my school district, we discovered that my position as a para in the band department needed to change to a certified teaching position in order to continue to teach and assess students. Back when I was originally hired 9 years ago, I knew that if my job ever did shift to a certified position, that meant that I needed to reapply and re-interview for it. There have been several surreal moments along this road and the first one was writing a resignation letter(so they could post the job publicly and I could reapply) for a job I love very, very much. Talk about scary, heartbreaking and nerve-wracking all rolled into one, 3-sentenced piece of paper. 

Fast forward to early June when I re-interviewed for my position and was notified the next day that the job was mine if I still wanted it. (Obviously, yes please!) So, I've changed from a classified position to a certified one. Hallelujah and AMEN! Additionally, because of budgeting, I am considered a .5FTE teacher-meaning I will be working half days. I will be working to get my certification reinstated after a 9 year hiatus, going through the new teacher mentoring training etc. Because of the .5FTE status, I get more time at home in the mornings to take care of Life there. What a beautiful blessing!!! In short, I could really identify with Pinocchio in saying, "I'm a real boy (teacher)!" Surreal reality number two. 

A few short weeks after that phone call giving me my job back, I was awakened from an afternoon nap by a phone call with a Winterset listing. I'm so glad I decided to pick it up despite not knowing who it was. Because it was my superintendent! So I quickly tried to snap out of my siesta's reverie and speak coherently to his statement, "I hear you have a photography business." 

"Yes, yes, sir, I do. How can I help you?" 

My superintendent proceeded to describe a Communications Coordinator position that he envisioned to have a half-time teacher and a half-time Coordinator combination. The fact that I knew how to work a camera and was active on social media was beneficial since I would be managing the district's social media accounts, taking photos at events, updating the website etc. As we ended our conversation, he wanted me to keep this job change private until he got some final checks from other administrators. Surreal moment number three: being at home all by myself after ending the phone conversation, looking at our pup, Ella, and saying, "What in the world just happened?!" Cue the blank stares from our schnauzer....

As the summer has progressed, I've been dipping my toe in the giant ocean that is public relations, communication on a large scale and meeting new people in the Norwalk community and administrators in our district. It's fairly safe to say that I've had more administrative interaction in the past 3 months than in my 10 years of teaching combined. Shortly after being offered the Communications position, I read Joanna Gaines' book 'Magnolia Story' and the quote below struck a chord: 

.... if I wanted to be successful, if I wanted to do important work one day, I would have to increase my capacity. I had to learn to manage disappointment. I needed to learn how to make the most out of those “opportunities” Chip seemed to keep finding.

There have been times in my life where I have felt Capacity being stretched: capacity to still love someone after they've hurt you. Capacity to do hard work in the midst of deep personal struggle. Capacity to try again in the midst of intense fear of failure. All of these kinds of things in our lives stretch us, grow us, and a lot of the time, surprise us as we marvel at our own abilities to keep going despite. Despite fear, pain, anxiety, sadness, lacking. 

This summer has been so wonderful on many levels-we spent a week with each side of our families, had two nights away to celebrate our 10th anniversary, took a weekend away as a family of 4 to relax and unwind. But we also worked our tails off getting ready for the school year, photographing a record 46 sessions in 11 weeks, and now, learning the in's and out's of Communications for the school district. I'm excited for what the future holds for both of the jobs I do for our district now--it feels like a beautiful collision of what I've done for so long outside of the classroom and bringing those strengths to help Norwalk Schools be bolstered in our community and surrounding Des Moines Metro Area. At times, my brain feels like it's on overload as I try to absorb the new things I'm being exposed to, but I'm excited at the prospect for growth in both jobs and getting to work with some truly amazing people.

**Side note: Yes, I will still be photographing for my business as well. No worries!**

Summer of 2016, we grew a baby. Summer of 2017, we grew our capacities. I'm not sure which is more difficult, but both have proven to be an incredible ride! (Below are some highlights of our summer!)

First time all my cousins on my mom's side have been together since 2004!!! All 6 cousins are now married and 10 children have been born since then!!

First time all my cousins on my mom's side have been together since 2004!!! All 6 cousins are now married and 10 children have been born since then!!

We spent a week with Gerard's family in the QC-his sister's family got to meet Lochlyn for the first time and we got to see Mimi off to her trip to South Korea to meet her birth mom! What an honor to help her in that journey!

We spent a week with Gerard's family in the QC-his sister's family got to meet Lochlyn for the first time and we got to see Mimi off to her trip to South Korea to meet her birth mom! What an honor to help her in that journey!

My mom has spent the better part of the last 10 years taking care of her parents and with Grandma's passing last fall, Mom got to spend her first full summer here in Iowa since Gerard has known me! She got to watch Laidy's swim lessons, we caught an ICubs game. Dinners out and spending quality time together has been a highlight of the summer!

My mom has spent the better part of the last 10 years taking care of her parents and with Grandma's passing last fall, Mom got to spend her first full summer here in Iowa since Gerard has known me! She got to watch Laidy's swim lessons, we caught an ICubs game. Dinners out and spending quality time together has been a highlight of the summer!

Gerard & I snuck in two nights away from the kids (don't worry, they knew we were gone and they were in impeccable hands!) to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We talked about future plans, dreamed up big things for our family, relaxed and SLEPT! (And also acted like little kids at a water park in Ames...)

Gerard & I snuck in two nights away from the kids (don't worry, they knew we were gone and they were in impeccable hands!) to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We talked about future plans, dreamed up big things for our family, relaxed and SLEPT! (And also acted like little kids at a water park in Ames...)

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”—Proverbs 31: 25-29

This is my verse for the school year: I hope to compose myself in a strong, confident and dignified way to my colleagues and administrators as I adjust to the newness of these positions. I'm praising Him for the chance to take better care of my home as I have my mornings free. And I pray that my children and husband will rise and bless the work of my hands on their behalf.

Soli deo gloria! Amen. :) 

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Abby + Ben

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Abby + Ben

Abby and I first met in conducting class at Drake and I remember looking up to her as a musician, educator, performer and conductor. Abby plays viola for the Des Moines Symphony and teaches in a nearby school district. It would only be natural that her daughter, Ms. Bella is taking up viola as well. When your Mama is a pro, you know you're destined for great things! 

I was thrilled to find out that Abby had a special someone in her life and over the moon ecstatic when Ben popped the question. When you are blending a family, it only seemed right to include Bella and Ben's son Barrin in a few group shots as well. They were great sports about it and even though Abby was a little concerned about the boys (since they are always goofy in photos at home), the boys were excellent and I wouldn't have guessed them for goofs at all! ;) 

We did a few more family by the water, some of just Abby with Bella and some of just Ben with Barrin too. 

Here's the fun part with just Ben & Abby. I can't wait to see how their wedding day comes together in October!

Abby & Ben (Bella & Barrin): Thank you so much for having me out with you guys! I'm so excited for your family as you start a life together as a group of four! Blessings on your school year transition from summer and the last mad-dash of the planning process for October. I know it's going to be full of joy and laughter (and maybe a few goof-balls) ;) 

Blessings, 

Carrie

PS You can view more of our time together HERE. 

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Tyson : Class of 2018

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Tyson : Class of 2018

It's always a reality check when a former student gets in front of my camera. Tyson was such fun to teach in middle school and he's grown to a wonderfully talented young man. We started his session at Waterworks and while I was able to get smiles from him, when his girlfriend, Rachel showed up, the grin stretched from ear to ear. Tyson's mom and I were chop liver after that and it was too sweet to not capture on camera. . . 

From Waterworks, we headed downtown for a few to catch the sun's reflection as it headed down the horizon. I love leveraging natural light and the fun geometrical challenges it presents! 

We were really chasing the sun at this point in the day, but we made it back to Norwalk just in time for a few baseball shots at the old stadium's seating. Tyson and his peers have grown up watching Norwalk build their new auditorium and stadium. I think they might have been the first or second class to enjoy the auditorium/stadium additions from 6th grade all the way through high school. It was a bit nostalgic to use the old seats with the old press box and concession stand as his backdrop!

Tyson & Kim: Thanks so much for having me out for a fantastic session! I'm so grateful to get to be a small part of Tyson's senior year. Best of luck in the home stretch of high school and I look forward to hearing great things of your future endeavors!

Blessings, 

Carrie

PS You can view more of our time together HERE. 

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