I am sooooo looking forward to this post, but also dreading it, because I don't know if I can concisely describe how large of a role this family has played in my upbringing. And I don't know if I can do them justice-if you know the McDonald family, you know what I'm talking about. 

As I walked the few steps to their home last Sunday morning, I couldn't help but think back to all the times before that I had taken this same path to go "play" with Laura & Alan. Eventually, we used the term "hang out" together and usually some kind of adventure would begin. We quickly became the kind of friends that we could walk into each others' houses, help ourselves to whatever was in the fridge, and then announce our presence to the inhabitants.

From things as simple as biking or skating around town, or pulling mammoth weeds out of our neglected garden, to putting on plays directed by my sister and hosted in our living room, or floating down "CowPoo Creek" (otherwise known as HoneyCreek), these adventures were what summers should be made of. And the group of friends that developed through those excursions were closer to me and my heart than just about anybody I spent the school year with in California. These folks drew me to Iowa like a moth to a flame for college and it changed the trajectory of my life entirely. 

I couldn't have been happier when Laura asked me to photograph their entire family to update their frames at home, as a gift to her parents-Tom & Marlene.  Because I had photographed Laura's littlest, Eli, last August, it was time for his one-year photos too, so we did a session- within-a-session. Eli was happy to oblige us with tons of smiles too. :) 

When Laura & I were talking about where to do their session, she unhesitatingly said, "Their porch. That's just what they do." So, we used Tom & Marlene's beautifully landscaped yards as the backdrop and I loved highlighting "just what they do". :) We did a few of all the grandchildren with Tom & Marlene on the porch swing and moved straight to the big group photo while everyone was still happy. :)

To give the kiddos a break, we documented Tom & Marlene. During my summers in New Prov, Tom & Marlene would be at work most days across the street, maintaining the town's Trustworthy Hardware store, so I didn't see them interact all that much. (They were always willing to let us have a "pop" or snack though!) But this morning, I got a great glimpse of just how much Tom loves and dotes on his bride. They were SO CUTE!

I've always admired the music that has come out of this family as well. Marlene accompanies at Honey Creek Friends Church where we would attend in the summer, and her eldest daughter, Elaine, is a renown musician and composer too. One of the best compliments I've ever received came from someone who mistook my piano playing (warming up to do a special at church) and thought it was Elaine! 

And where do you start with the Lone Ranger: Alan? Two things immediately come to mind. 1. He can chow a pizza faster than you can say the name of the company that made it. 2. Laura & Elaine used to treat him like a football when he was little, until he grew the body of a football player. And a bonus third item? Ladies, he's available! ;)

McDonalds: Thank you so much for allowing me the pleasure of photographing your beautiful family! You were such troopers in the sticky heat and the kiddos did phenomenally well (it always helps to have Uncle Alan doing silly stuff behind the photographer)! More importantly, thank you for the influence you've had on my life, showing hospitality, and teaching me through your examples. In short, you guys rock.

Blessings,
Carrie 

PS If you ever want to see these wonderful Friends in person, New Providence hosts a fantastic pancake breakfast every Monday morning starting bright and early, what we call "up town" next to the Post Office. Omelets, pancakes and heart-warming fellowship! Come for the good food, stay for the good company--you may even run into my dad at the omelet station :) 

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