holiday home tour 2020

I have always been one to wait to decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but this year immediately after Halloween I got the itch and felt like we all needed the extra cheer so mid-November I brought up the Christmas tubs from the basement. Mind you, I literally just finished decorating like an hour ago. I mean most of it has been done for at least a week or so, but I just couldn’t fine the right place for the garland I used on my mantle this year and finally decided to hang it asymmetrically above our large wide kitchen window. And then the Command hooks I hung it with fell. Twice. And I had a mini meltdown and then went and got bigger Command hooks and (fingers crossed) the garland is still up.

I didn’t have it in me to shoot the garland AND write this post so instead let’s kick it off with the big girls’ room.

It is like little girl Christmas heaven in there. The dollhouse has trees and garland and twinkle lights. Everything is pink and gold and silver. The tree is from Opal House maybe two years ago at Target, and they hang their own ornaments on there (most are from Trios before it closed and Love of Character…love the felted options for littles!). The wreaths on their beds are from Target two or three years ago, and the garland is the new addition this year from Love of Character. We (as in all four girls in this house) are all obsessed with it.

I must say, I really want to paint their room white and change out their light fixture, and they’re not budging. So for now we just throw pink all over this space and go with it.

Faye’s room has the teeniest bit of decor (kind of the theme of her room…it has been a SLOOOW process putting it together), but I very much dig it.

Nothing in the above photo was in this room last year so overall 100% improvement lol. By the way, I guess I never let y’all know we finished her dresser?! It should also the metal Peace on Earth banner isn’t up anymore becauuuuuse the command strips and hooks (I tried both) fell down. Twice. Lol.

This holiday vibe though. So good. White tassel banner is Hob Lob, white trees are Target earlier this season, but the real heroes of this space are the vintage rattan ornament set my friend Kelly gifted me over the summer and the yellow wood trees (Love of Character).

And last, but certainly not least, our family room. If you’ve followed along on Insta this week you’ve seen (and heard) much of this, but gosh it has brought me so much joy this season.

I’m sure as we continue to renovate our home the holiday decor will evolve and grow. I’m itching to really deck out my dining room, but it currently serves as a dining room/bar/Andrew’s tool overflow storage, and Andrew really wants a tree in our front room so our flocked tree might get a new spot next year. I’ve been on the hunt for a vintage aluminum tree for a couple of years now, and after seeing this pampas beauty I think I can be convinced to switch up the family room next year.

Much love! xo

Family room sources: tree (Hob Lob old), stockings (Pottery Barn old), ribbon for stockings (Joann’s Fabric and Home Goods), paper trees on coffee table books (Love of Character), marble tree (Target old), both sets of hands (Home Goods old), modern trees on mantle (Hob Lob and then spray painted!), vase on mantle (H&M), tree topper (Love of Character), gift wrap (home goods for paper, wooden gift tags are Love of Character), ornaments (various), mini bottle trees (most are Target dollar spot and some Hob Lob), and peace wreath (Sunny Bay Home).

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wichita family photographer: gallery walls

We checked off a major to do that’s been on my list for over two years now – a gallery wall leading down to the basement in our back hallway. It may seem trivial, but it means so much… both literally and figuratively.

For one, it means the wallpaper has been removed, drywall patched and smoothed, walls freshly painted with the same cool, crisp white we’re using throughout our home.

It also means we’re one step closer to getting this space more functional for our family. Andrew’s new year’s resolution was not doing any projects in 2020. ellloooollllloooooollllll!

The kitchen completely wore him out, and it was a lot having work consistently hang over our heads for months on end in that space. So I very much get that he needs a break. Buttttttt, we do have a few things that have to get done this year (including installing new floors in our basement next weekend!), plus little things that got pushed to the back back back back burner because all extra time and energy went to the kitchen in 2019 so it will be good to catch up on some of that. (Things like repair slow-draining bathroom sinks, yard work, continue to update light switches, etc.) Aaaaand I think he’s coming around to working on this back hallway space, ie building and installing a new acrylic stair rail when we replace the wide built-in shelving that currently eats into the passthrough space where I’d like to add a shallow drop-off zone.

Plus installing this gallery wall gives space to letting my kids see themselves in our home. I remember when I worked at the local Boys and Girls Club before I “retired” to stay at home with Henry (and Nelle was on the way) and grow my business. We had a meeting where we talked about ways to show club members that it truly was their club. Seeing their artwork, their projects, and photos of themselves was proven to increase self-worth, self-esteem and feelings of value and inclusion. All things I want for my own kids too and then some.

Why yes, June IS wearing a skirt for a cape/shirt here.

I had one million gallery walls in our previous home (just ask Andrew we bought them all.the.time for a while there), and white frames were my go-to so I used what we’ve had stacked up in the basement since we moved. I thought for sure these were from Ikea, but actually when I double-checked I realized these were actually Canopy brand from Walmart! You could get a similar look from so many places…Target, West Elm, Amazon, etc.

I opted for a more asymmetrical grouping than a symmetrical true grid for a couple of reasons. I like the visual interest, and think it will be even more appealing once you can see through the railing after we install the acrylic (like this if you don’t know what I’ve been eyeing for inspo), and two, I had a couple of obstacles that would have really limited my wall space if I had to stick to a grid – the light switch right by the back door and our swinging door/baby gate.

We used Command velcro strips to hang. I like how they keep everything level, the kids are going to be racing up and down these stairs with their friends now and until the end of time and I wanted the frames to be secure, and also Andrew swore he wouldn’t let me nail things into the wall in this house after repairing one million nail holes in our last house before we moved. Costco has big packs of the large velcro strips; we went through two.

Normally we would have used a level (like this one) for hanging a gallery wall, and we did to start with, but quickly realized it was hard for both of us to fit into the stairwell and work using that method so after we got the far right column hung Andrew ended up making jigs to space the frames accurately from each other, and then we could just slide the frame in next to the jigs and press to adhere the frame to the wall. Highly recommend.

As for spacing, we used a few different widths which I think worked well aesthetically since we did an asymmetrical layout. When I had everything lined out on the floor I think I had about an inch and a half horizontally between frames and about two inches vertically between frames; I think we ended up more like 2 inches between horizontally and even three in some places vertically, but it works. I tend to think gallery walls work best with closer spacing (particularly the smaller your pieces are) so I wouldn’t have gone over three inches here.

It took me more time to choose the photos I wanted framed than to actually hang everything up. (Oh! And I got all my prints from!) All time well spent because seeing these faces as I head to the car 15x a day makes me so, so happy.

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wichita family photographer: the magic of shooting at home, with the meysenburgs

Sitting by the fire with one of my sick kiddos (yes, there are multiple right now), and thinking of all things cozy to make the most of this grey, cold winter day in the house. After many days in the house. Haha.

My favorite chair, a cup of hot tea, a warm blanket, and a snoozing/snoring dog nearby.

Home can be so many things and elicit so many emotions, but for sure I think most of think of it as a safe place, a refuge, a place of calm, and hopefully cozy. I love shooting with families in their home because it’s 100% unique to you, and there’s so much more freedom to just be…which in turn produces some pretty simply beautiful imagery that can only be yours.

Your house doesn’t have to be huge, nor immaculate. It can be small or large, bright or moody, layered or minimalistic, finished or a work in progress. As long as you’re willing to make photos in your space with the people you love the most, beauty will be created.

So proud to share these images I made with Bethany and her family two years ago in their home.

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our new (old) kitchen

If you haphazardly check my Insta stories then you may have seen some of my even more haphazard posts about our kitchen reno that started November 1, 2018. Let that sink in for a minute…two thousand and EIGHTEEN. Lollllll, it’s been a long haul. For me, for Andrew, for our kids all summer when they would barricaded out of the kitchen with plastic tarps FOR WEEKS, when they would happily follow Andrew up into the attic to stomp around and unknowingly send 50+ year old insulation down onto my range…let me assure you that when I say it’s been a long haul, IT’S BEEN A LONG HAUL.

For about 13 months.

And we are so so happy with the new (old) kitchen. And are “done”. Done-ish because there are a few touchups that need to be completed, and at some point we need to repaint the ceiling in there as well as the interior window trim. And THE FLOORS. Clearly we can’t live with brown linoleum and plywood (where the built-in shelf and peninsula used to be) forever. (Or can we…we recently discovered we have the same linoleum in our kitchen as The Family Stone kitchen, and if it’s good enough for Diane Keaton…)

There isn’t any reason a kitchen renovation should ever take this long, but it did in our case because –

1)Andrew did evvvvvery single thing he could possibly do if at all possible. He is a DIYer through and through, 2)two of the three things we did actually hire out didn’t go as planned and we ended up having to start over on one of those and backtracked hugely from a timing standpoint, and 3)we won’t kill ourselves over projects. I hear of people staying up until 2am to work on things, and then get up and go to their day job the next day. Ummm, not our bag. We try to maintain some sense of normalcy for the kids, make time for each other, make time for sanity, get out of the house as a family, etc. Andrew has always said that there isn’t any rush, and honestly there isn’t. (Albeit this tests my patience so incredibly much.) And taking our time really allows me as a non-professional to process the design and get things right.

So. Without further ado…

The day after we moved in. The red walls, the looooow copper hood Andrew hit his head on any time he was at the range, the scallops. Oh for the love of the scallops. The soffit. The chair rail. The darrrrrk back splash. And 1.5 year old Junie.

The install of the larger window was so so so worth it. The view into the backyard makes me so happy…I can watch the kids while they play on the swing set, open the window easily to yell at them when they are doing all the things they aren’t supposed to, etc.

I will say, because our kitchen looks onto a covered patio I still don’t get exceptional natural light in this space. I have dreams of painting the patio walls (and brick) a very light color instead of the heavy dark grey exterior and red brick that we currently have because I think it would help bounce more light through this new pretty glass. But for now, any little extra bit of sunlight that shimmers in I’ll gladly take.

When things went south trying to get our cabinets stained I initially thought I’d just paint them white, but because we don’t get an abundance of natural light I just felt like the white cabinets would never look great. And to be honest (and I know I’m probably going to offend someone (a  lot of someones), but I’mkindoftiredofwhitewhitewhitekitchens. There. I said it. They are gorgeous! White is classic, and if I’ve been in our house and you have a white kitchen I’ve probably loved it.  But I just vibe so much better with depth and textures and tones and all things earthy. For me, this made more sense.

Prepare yourself for this change of view, guys…

Below – taken the day of our home inspection before we bought the house…Andrew is clearly so pumped about the work ahead of us.

This bookshelf…bye, see you never.

(Maybe one day I cleaned those slider doors, but this wasn’t that day, friends.)

Those vintage pendants are SO good for this kitchen. I’m happy I hoarded them for over a year not knowing they’d end up in my kitchen. When you love something, the right place will always present itself.

And when something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I wasn’t in love with the granite countertops the previous owners had installed, but they also weren’t offensive. Since we weren’t changing the functional u-shape of our kitchen it didn’t make sense to put in new countertops. After all, we weren’t creating our dream kitchen, just updating what was already here to make it beautiful and more functional for our family. I’m verrrry happy with the granite now. I used Emily Henderson’s advice from her book Styled and chose three words for the space to help guide me with decisions. MCM (counts as one word in my book), earthy and refined. The granite works impeccably in this space with at direction.

The same can be said for the cabinets. The original cabinets were custom built into the home and in great shape. And most importantly, the style worked so well for us. The flat faces were good before, but even better now in the new color and with new hardware.

And this banquette bench. A labor of love and so much more functional than a table in the center of the eat-in-kitchen space directly in the path of access to the backyard. I used bistro chairs we already had (and would someday like to move outdoors when/if we add on to our patio), found the vintage tulip table base and Handy Andy whipped up a tabletop to complete the space.

And that’s it! We’re so, so happy with it. And even happier that it’s done. Ha!

Do y’all want the nitty gritty details? More thoughts? And I have a few more angles I haven’t shared yet…looking for your feedback on what would be interesting and purposeful of your time in 2020 on this ‘ol neglected blog space.


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Faye Has a Helmet!

I forget that not everyone knows that until we see someone we haven’t seen in a while (the last three months), and there’s a quick surprised/puzzled/confused moment, followed by an even quicker recovery lol. You guys, it’s okay! I probably should have posted something weeks/months ago, and meant to…but life.

Also, talking about hard things is hard.

If you want the short story, Faye has a helmet for a flat spot, and we are so incredibly grateful helmeting was finally determined to be a viable option for her because there were many scary things like CT scans, and road trips to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City and talks of a major invasive surgery in addition to hours of appointments and physical therapy that got us to this point.

The beginning of the long story starts back when Faye was just a few months old (I think?) when I noticed her forehead slanted out towards the right. I brought it up at her four month appointment, and our pediatrician also noted a flat spot on the back right side of her head, most likely because she preferred to sleep towards the right. I diligently turned her head to the left when she slept, but at her six month appointment her head still dipped in significantly over her left eyebrow and gradually slanted out to the right still so we were referred to a plastics specialist from Children’s Mercy that traveled to Wichita throughout the month.

I went into that appointment trying to prepare myself for a helmet recommendation and came out with a likely craniosynostosis diagnosis and a CT scheduled in Kansas City to confirm that one of her sutures had pre-fused.

The next few weeks were awful; I couldn’t sleep, I spent way too much time googling images and medical journals and hospital websites trying to educate myself as much as possible, but also trying to compare images I found with my sweet baby’s head. I had to cut myself off from the internet because sometimes knowledge is power, and sometime knowledge tells you too much about massive surgery cutting your baby’s head open, likely blood transfusions, etc. There were many, many nights when I would nurse Faye to sleep and the be up for hours panicking about her precious head and thinking about her head being cut open from ear to ear. I found praying for Faye and also praying for peace for Andrew and I calmed me the most.

Andrew and I took Faye to Children’s Mercy at the end of March armed with a lot of faith and a bunch of prayers and good friends supporting us and checking in. She rocked her scan, and we saw the same plastics specialist from Wichita a bit later that day. He believed one of her sutures to be pre-fused. However, he wanted us to try and get in with his partner that afternoon since his focus was on other facial corrections (cleft palate, for example), and Dr. Goldstein did handled many more cases with craniotomies. I was devastated and in denial and so glad we could see Dr. Goldstein immediately.

Dr. Goldstein and his nurse were both wonderful, and as he reviewed her scans he noted the spot that Faye’s previous surgeon had seen, but for her age, that suture was supposed to begin fusing. He honestly felt like her flat spot was caused by tortocollis, and that aggressive physical therapy would help. Clearly, Dr. Goldstein was our favorite person that day.

We set up physical therapy through Rainbows United, and they came to our house all summer long working with Faye to loosen up her neck muscles. We also went to Greenleaf Chiro in Delano for cranial adjustments, and checked in with Hanger Clinic to discuss helmeting. No one felt like helmeting was a clear answer. The front location of the flat spot was really puzzling. It’s not common…at all. It was discouraging, but throughout the summer we just kept at it, and her head shape improved ever so slightly. (When Hanger measured her originally her degree of asymmetry was an 11, and she moved down to a 9.) But most importantly, her head had grown AND grown proportionately. Our contact at Hanger felt like helmeting would help. This was the BEST news! We had a follow up at Children’s Mercy the following week, and Dr. Goldstein had hoped her head would have improved more, but she was still cleared from needing surgery. Praaaaaaise.

And so, we picked up Faye’s pink helmet the weekend before we left for our family vacay to Colorado, and she’s been in it all day, every day since.

A month ago her degree of asymmetry had moved down to a 6(between months 0-1), so we’re pleased with her progress, and very thankful for this very expensive piece of headgear. Ha.

We actually have a follow up with Hanger this afternoon, and I’ll be honest, last month was a bit discouraging because there wasn’t any significant movement between months 1 and 2. I think we’re either going to see signs of continued movement orrrr if we don’t, need to accept that she’s just always going to have a slightly sunken forehead on the left side.

Thank you, thank you, thank you friends and family that have been praying for us and helping share our trials. I’m soooo ready to have this behind us, and equally thankful that her story didn’t include surgery or further complications.

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"It's a feeling."

One of the best ways I've heard my work described.

It's like a dream you can't quite get back to, but you know was so so good because when you woke up you had a smile on your face, and you keep trying desparately to remember all of the vivid details you can be present in that in-between state for just a little more  - the warmth of being together, the sounds, the laughter...the feelings.

Here's more on what our work together could be.