the smell of my desperation has become a stench

With my little girls

Last fall I got the girls dressed up and headed to a studio to have our family portraits taken by a local professional photographer. It ended up being an awful, somewhat traumatic experience with someone who considered his “art” to be more valuable than that of Leonardo da Vinci. Listen, when art is how you make your living I understand that you take it seriously, especially if you have been educated and trained in the finer details of your specific skill. But that does not give you the right to act like a totally insensitive butt nugget.

Afterward I put out a call for recommendations for local photographers, and then my old friend and former assistant Katey hooked me up with her sister Kristi who runs Kendalls Media with their father. She came by in April and took a ton of shots of me and the girls at the house, and yesterday while organizing the hard drive on my computer I found the folder she had sent over with the final shots. Why it has taken me this long to choose my favorite ones must have something to do with time and the fact that it is the primary deficit in my life. How do we manufacture more time? Seriously, by the time I walk away from work and help Leta finish her homework and piano practice and dinner and baths and showers and bedtimes stories, I would sometimes like to pick my nose. But usually our butler has gone home by that point, and I’m certainly not going to pick it myself.

Kristi was the exact opposite of my former experience, and no, she is not paying me to say that. Nor did she take these photos for free. She’s got young kids of her own and knew exactly how to handle, ahem, the younger of my two daughters. I’m recommending her because she healed a serious wound. I was scared to have our photos taken by a professional again. It is not an insignificant investment, especially of your time. My time spent with her was so warmly rewarded.

Thank you, Kristi, for these wonderful memories. These are the ones I’m having framed for the walls. Looking at these I get a little teary at my daughters’ beauty, their personalities, the talent and magnetism they have in spades, their unbridled adoration for each other, the way they both fit into my arms like puzzle pieces. They are the most magnificent gifts.














  • SJ

    2014/09/10 at 5:12 pm

    My favorite is the one where Marlo has her head on Leta’s arm. So, so sweet.

  • schmutzie

    2014/09/10 at 5:12 pm

    Lovely! I approve 🙂

  • Debra

    2014/09/10 at 5:29 pm

    oh my god, heart breaking.

  • sherry

    2014/09/10 at 5:34 pm

    Love Leta’s dress! Where is it from?

  • Roo Ciambriello

    2014/09/10 at 5:40 pm

    Sooooo beautiful! All of you. xo

  • Abbie

    2014/09/10 at 5:50 pm

    Beautiful photos. Absolutely lovely.

  • Krystal

    2014/09/10 at 5:55 pm


  • Stephanie

    2014/09/10 at 5:55 pm

    Heather your smile is stunning!

  • hootenannie

    2014/09/10 at 5:57 pm

    You look spectacular, Heather.

  • Elizabeth

    2014/09/10 at 6:01 pm

    Oh my gosh, that picture of Marlo snuggling Leta’s arm. I am dead. Dead of cuteness.

  • August

    2014/09/10 at 6:55 pm

    What I would give to have photos like this of my mum, and of us together! (She died when I was 24). These pics are precious now, but oh how much more valuable they are going to become as the years pass by.

  • Chelsea

    2014/09/10 at 7:06 pm

    Heather, these are all stunning and so full of love! (And can we just talk about how magnificent Leta’s hair is for a sec?!)

  • Guest

    2014/09/10 at 7:08 pm

    There you go again, making me all teary-eyed, what with all your smileyness and joy.

  • Anamaria

    2014/09/10 at 7:12 pm

    There you go again, making me all teary-eyed, what with all the smileyness and joy.

  • Teal

    2014/09/10 at 7:31 pm

    Thumbs up for “butt nugget!” These photos are gorgeous! I feel like Leta is growing up so fast. She’ll be a moody teenager before we know it! Sigh…where has the time gone?

  • Gus Hinrich

    2014/09/10 at 7:32 pm

    Great work!

  • Kristan

    2014/09/10 at 7:35 pm

    You look RADIANTLY happy. <3

    The shots of You + One Daughter sitting in the background while Other Daughter poses in the foreground = my faves. So so so so good! The one where Marlo is cuddling Leta's arm, and you can see both of their faces, is also fantastic.

  • KristenfromMA

    2014/09/10 at 7:48 pm

    Aw, sweet!

  • Jen Wilson

    2014/09/10 at 9:24 pm

    These are incredible! I definitely laughed, though, at the left of the last two colour photos, as it reminds me of when I ask my 7-year-old to look AT me. She and Marlo seem to be kindred spirits. You three are beautiful, and I love how your personalities shine through the photos. 🙂

  • Tiffany Palella Cronin

    2014/09/11 at 7:18 am

    Smiling suits you! LOVE, LOVE the closeup picture of your two beautiful daughters together with their adorable glasses! All the pictures are so natural and carefree just like you all (on this day, anyway)! 🙂

  • Jenay Hoover

    2014/09/11 at 7:46 am

    The look on Marlo’s face in the 11th pic down, with her and Leta is the funniest thing I have seen in awhile and if you don’t copy that right there and put it on her graduation annoucements I will never read you again!! LOL!! At least blow it up huge and torture her with it when she’s 15…. please

  • TheBlueRidgeGal

    2014/09/11 at 7:47 am

    I LOVE the photo where you can see the bruises on Marlo’s shins! So typical of little girls at that age. Always on the go, tripping, twirling dancing. These are very REAL photos of how the three of you are. xox

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/09/11 at 8:59 am

    That is the most fantastic idea. Let’s hope she graduates.

  • Becky

    2014/09/11 at 9:15 am

    This happiness looks amazing on you :).

  • Lisa

    2014/09/11 at 9:36 am

    I love these so much. The one just over half way down of Marlo making “that face” = SO GOOD! These are all truly so sweet.

  • harugirlie

    2014/09/11 at 9:54 am

    Where can I purchase Leta’s hair? You guys look great!!

  • Carin Sweerman

    2014/09/11 at 10:06 am

    Most beautiful collection, Heather. Kristi did do an awesome job, but then she had awesome subjects. So glad she knows the value of how to handle your customers successfully. The other fellow should be ashamed of himself. My favorite is the b/w with you and Leta rocking it and Marlo flying.

  • Angela

    2014/09/11 at 10:28 am

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. You all are so beautiful!!

  • Jen Moore

    2014/09/11 at 10:30 am

    The black and whites gawww so good. Enjoy xo

  • Jennifer Cafferty-Davis

    2014/09/11 at 10:44 am

    Heather – as a photographer, I LOVE seeing these shots. While everyone loves to have a nice, posed one of the family to hang on the walls, sometimes the candids are much better in capturing the true essence of your children. These pictures convey their personalities, and yours! Cherish them forever. I’m so glad you found someone to come to you and take pics – I personally can’t stand studio sessions or pictures.

  • Dann Ryan

    2014/09/11 at 10:48 am

    Leta is totally bershon.

  • angiewis

    2014/09/11 at 12:26 pm

    Beatiful! All of that gorgeous hair on the three of you – they could be shots for a shampoo commercial! 😉

  • pixistik13

    2014/09/11 at 12:28 pm

    beautiful pictures!

  • Pepper

    2014/09/11 at 1:23 pm

    Also, thank you for letting your daughters choose their look! The matchy-matchy pictures where everyone is coordinated always make me a little sad.

  • Josey

    2014/09/11 at 1:53 pm

    Fantastic photos!! I’m so glad you got a better experience the 2nd time around. Family pics are hard enough without dealing with an asshole photographer!

  • Kristy

    2014/09/11 at 2:03 pm


  • Aurora

    2014/09/11 at 3:11 pm

    These are all beautiful. I especially enjoyed the one with Leta at the piano. It’s so full of contrasts balanced against each other. The sharp focus on Marlo at the center of the photo highlights the chaotic drama of her, all momentum with dogs at awkward half-seen angles around her as she moves, claiming all the space. Leta’s out of focus image contrasts with her own focus, her image frames the whole scene while she herself concentrates intensely on the space where she and the keys come together, a concentration which feels at once won from the scene and integral to it–the tension and richness of that is such a big part of what family feels like. Of course it’s just one moment, and moments can be interpreted to tell all kinds of stories, some entirely false, but the story here seems true and so very in keeping with the stories you’ve shared about the the two of them at this point in their lives.

  • Kristina

    2014/09/11 at 5:48 pm

    Great! I’m getting my family portraits done at the end of the month and I am TERRIFIED! Even though they are with photogs I love who I know will do a wonderful job. Still TERRIFIED.

  • Cat

    2014/09/11 at 8:08 pm

    These are amazing. Uh. May. Zing.

  • Richard Morey

    2014/09/12 at 7:41 am

    Great photos – I like that the girls glasses match their outfits. Was that planned or just a happy accident?

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/09/12 at 9:13 am

    I didn’t even catch that! Total coincidence.

  • Julie Egan Wood

    2014/09/12 at 1:08 pm

    Beautiful! I too love the photos we have of us in our backyard! Such a difference! The photographer was Amazing with our girls too!!

  • KathyRo

    2014/09/12 at 5:10 pm

    Ahhhh…. so pretty! Leta has the most amazing hair color.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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