Life is grand!

On weekends when she has coffee with her great-grandpa (a splash of coffee in a cup of warm milk), she saves half for me. This happens without fail. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, she sets it on the nearest side table or puts it in my hand. "Here Mommy, this is for you." I know she wants to finish it, but she's always thinking of someone else. That's the heart of my Natalia. Sweet. Kind. Precious. We've been blessed with another birthday, and it feels so good. My baby is seven. Oh yes, life is grand.

M + M

My story with this bride goes back — like waaaay back. We were born at the same hospital in the same city, just five days apart. Fate would bring us to each other the summer before seventh grade. Click. We were best friends when Melissa moved to a different high school. Exactly ten years later (how's that for timing?), I got a phone call from her asking if I was interested in doing some freelance writing for the ad agency she was at. (My daughter had been in the hospital for several months and after long days there, I had been heading to my office to work through the night. I'd just quit and was panicked as I held out for other options.) My resumé landed on Melissa's desk and was overseen by a client. Within a week, I got a phone call from the Vice President of Marketing at the hospital where Natalia was being treated ... with a job offer. He had no idea Natalia was sick. It was entirely an act of God, and one of the most powerful displays of God's work in my personal life. My Melissa was literally a Godsend. Fast forward a year and we were working together at that hospital — the same hospital where we were both born, just five days apart. We were happy office neighbors and we had the most solid lunch system (order two different things, split and share). It was there where I first heard about Mike ... Mike, this guy that I used to date back in high school. We went out last night and... And the rest is history. Melissa and her Mike will be married in exactly one week. He swept her away to Amarillo, Texas before they settled in Las Vegas. Their engagement story is sweet as pie (he was standing in a circle of rose petals when he asked her). As for the wedding, I now understand where the "honor" in maid of honor comes from. And Mike ... well, he is one lucky man. Melissa is one of those people whose energy is electric, who is loved by every person she crosses paths with. She will laugh with you and cry with you. And in my case, for many years, she's done both. The way God has been so present in our friendship makes her more than just one of my very best friends; it makes her my soul sister. I pray that He blesses M+M for the rest of their wonderful lives, wraps them in everything good and beautiful,  and lifts them into bliss. Yes, Mike stole the best lunch date e-v-e-r, but I'm sure he's worth it. (Happy life to you both!) Enjoy this couple's photo session. Bisous, L

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On location in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Win, Place and Show was their spot.

On location in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Win, Place and Show was their spot.

Paris

It's been many months since I've blogged. Somewhere between three rambunctious and sweet little girls and enjoying our life and our days, time spread its wings. Our summer was laden with love. Our Charlize Allaire turned one, and we flew to Paris to be with family and each other. It was busy and it was happy. The girls and I traveled to Germany to see our cousins. And we cheered for our favorite Olympian in London. But it was Paris that stole my heart. It's a city that you can truly never stop exploring. The history is deep, the food is incredible (don't get me started on the pastries), and the architecture is breathtaking. If you want it to be, it's a world all its own. And now, I have a lovely Frenchman and a vivacious little one-year-old Frenchwoman that make it home. The girls walked along the Seine, said hello to Mona Lisa, sipped hot tea from cafes in the Marais, and gasped at the twinkle of the Eiffel Tower. For now, it's nice to be enjoying 80-degree November weather (the cold and I do not get along), but Europe will call me back soon enough. As for blogging, I am back for good. I have so many sessions to share, including a beautiful engagement session you can see at the end of the week. I'm shooting a wedding this December ... an American girl and a British boy. Kind of a familiar love story. Bisous, L

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I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris, why oh why do I love Paris
Because my love is near.
— Ella Fitzgerald

Two years and counting

May 17, 2010 was the day Natalia finished two and a half years of chemotherapy treatments. Two years later, she is here. She is mine. And I'll be damned if I take a minute of it for granted. She wears a bracelet that says BE BRAVE. Yes, baby, because of you — I will. On this blessed anniversary, I celebrate YOU ... with love, with respect, with thanks to God.

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