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Kristen + Dan + Samuel - West Loop Christmas

Kristen + Dan + Samuel - West Loop Christmas

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of taking Christmas photos for a close friend of mine. Kristen and I met two years ago through our church small group. We’ve walked through a lot together, and it’s such a blessing to now see her experience the joy of motherhood!

At the end of summer I actually decided to take a step back from photography. The summer season was busier than I would have liked, and I knew that fall had the potential to be even busier. I never told Kristen this, but with each photography project I declined, I thought to myself “I will only say ‘yes’ if Kristen asks me.”

Taking photos of Kristen, Dan, Samuel, and their pup Kuma was not work. I truly enjoyed our photo session, and it reminded me why I stepped into this business in the first place. This has always been a way for me to exercise my creativity and love others. Since I didn’t see this photo session as work, I asked Kristen and Dan to donate my fee to charity instead of paying me (you can read more about that below).

Kristen and Dan’s son, Samuel, is such a sweetheart. He really was a trooper in the cold and cooperated during an outfit change! I don’t think he knew what to think of my camera (as you’ll notice from the serious look on his face)… but hopefully over time he’ll get used to it (hint hint)! Check out my Q&A with this new family of three, and scroll a little further to see the photos from our time together!

Tell me about Samuel Nikko's name! How did you choose it?

We had a difficult time agreeing on names throughout much of my pregnancy. I was searching names one day and looked up the meaning of Samuel: God listens. After a period of loss and waiting, we were immensely blessed to have Samuel. But what rings true in the meaning of his name is that there have been poignant times in my life where I felt confirmation that God had actually heard me; He listens. It’s one thing to have an answered prayer (which Sammy is)... but it’s another to feel heard in a time of waiting. What a great peace knowing God hears it all... even when we don’t know if or when a prayer will be answered.

Nikko means sunshine/daylight in Japanese and we both loved that name before we were ever expecting a baby... during a trip to Hawaii in the dead of Chicago winter, of course. Being in the sun has always been my happy place. Our little Sammy Sunshine lights up our lives.

What is Sammy’s favorite thing in life right now?

Right now, Sammy loves a little naked play time... put him in his pack n play with just a diaper on and he’s content to hang out with his toys, kick his feet and test out his vocal chords for a while!

Kristen, what’s something you’ve learned about yourself from becoming a new mom?

I’ve learned my capacity to love is much greater than I imagined. I’m basically a big softy. And that I’m physically and emotionally capable of a lot more than I expected.

Your coming up on your first Christmas as a family of three! Are there any traditions you will carry over from either of your families or new ones you’d like to start?

We (well, mostly Kristen) love the tradition of decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. We didn’t get around to it this year, but it’s fun to enjoy the fullness of Christmas season for the whole month! Another tradition, honestly, will be to take family photos (hint hint) but seriously it’s nice to have annual photos to look back on... with everyone looking their best and brightest!

In lieu of paying me for our photo session, you agreed to donate the money to charity! What charity did you pick and why? 

We picked Share Our Spare, a local Chicago charity focused on providing children and babies living below the poverty line with the essentials they need to survive.  1 in 3 mothers has to choose between buying their child food or diapers. As providing for Sammy has basically become my full time job, my heart aches for the kiddos who don’t have someone to do that for them... or whose parents can’t afford to provide fully. A baby with an empty stomach is almost too painful to think about.

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