Minnesota Mamaleh: Family Pictures (and your chance to win some)

Oh, the art of being in the moment versus hiding behind the camera. It’s just plain hard to do, isn’t it? For the first time ever, I let go of my camera-control and we had family pictures taken by someone else. Not only that, but I snagged one of y’all a pro photo session for you and yours. I know! I can hardly believe it either! Read on friends. My first ever contest details are the bottom of the page!


I’m sitting at one of ten long wooden tables. The music is blasting, the drinks are strong and the creativity is over-flowing. But what really strikes me? Is the laughter. It’s real. Authentic. Joyful. Almost guffaw-like. Does that sound insulting? It’s not meant to be. It’s just that we’re…free. Free of scanning the room for danger, messes and arguments. Free of bedtimes, mealtimes and snacks. Free of pottys, diapers and accidents.

For the very first time since I started having babies, I’m away without them. And without Jason. I’m with my girlfriends for the weekend in a scrapbooking house. Hello Memory Lane. It’s so nice to see you!

I didn’t have a chance to pull together my pictures or any part of my closet full of scrappin’ supplies, so my weekend is dedicated to writing. Reading. Sitting upstairs on the cozy couch. Listening to the pitter pattering raindrops. And sipping many, many cups of coffee.

I weave in and out of being one of the group and delving within while tip-tapping on my computer keys. Both are absolutely perfect.

I miss my family with a pang in my heart that hurts like no other. But I so needed this break. This time away.

Sunday comes ever so quickly and I gingerly enter our home wondering if everyone’s awake or if the kids are napping and Jason is holed up watching football. If that’s the case I don’t want to mess with the gem that I know all too well is nap time.

But I need not worry. I quickly hear Chloe’s savage sounding, “MOMMY!!!” and I so get it. I’m feeling pretty savage myself. I missed my babies. They each fall into my arms in their own way– gently, wildly, with sweet words, “Mama, why you all gone?” Can you guess which way describes which kid?

And I breathe them in. Hold them tight. We laugh loudly. Brightly. Vividly. Like the ladies and I did this weekend. We jump into a quick game of “I’m going to get you!” And it, too, is wild. And heightened. Each “round” ending with so many hugs. So many kisses. I had been craving this touch. This affection that I often take for granted because it can be just a little…much.

I can picture each and every moment of my time away and of my home-coming clearly in my mind. In my heart. But only there.

I didn’t take a single picture at Memory Lane or of all of the giggles and tickles that followed my entrance back into my “real life.” I stepped away from the camera that I so often hide behind to capture the memory. And I stayed in the moment. And that’s something to write about.

As women we’re such story tellers. We hold onto the family’s memory thread. Quilting and braiding it together in the ways that we know best. Amazing recipes. Beautiful scrapbooks. Pristinely organized photo boxes. Archived pages. Journals. Blogs.

I know several women who are quite literally pure magic behind the camera lens. Each and every one of them have toyed with going pro and they so should– there’s enough good photo karma in this world to go around. The universe is plentiful and we should all follow our bliss, our spark. Because when we do, beautiful things are created in our minds, in our hearts and in print.

One of these amazing women took our family photos this weekend. Gifting me the chance to be “in it” with my family and to have gorgeous photos to adore all at the same time. So we all got hair cuts. Wore neutral outfits. And smiled.

Our session was oh-so-very quick. We bribed Brody with everything we could think of. Daddy’s car? Candy? Louie’s leash? We ran, laughed, rolled our eyes. In my proudest parenting moment I told Chloe that I’d take away her Halloween candy if she didn’t cooperate. In case you’re wondering, that one worked like a charm.

I love our pictures. I love that someone else took them. And, admittedly, I love actually being in them.

So in the spirit of goodness and friendship and karma and beautiful pictures, my friend Nicole Spangler who did not take our pictures but is a seriously kick-butt photographer and runs her own photography business has donated a free photo session to be won by one of YOU! That’s right, YOU!

For my part, I’m passing along the goodness that I got from my photos. On Nicole’s part, she’s donating a free photo session. And on your part?

All you have to do is leave me a comment below about the good stuff. Being in the moment. Family pictures. Girls Weekends. If you’re sadly too far away to grab a cup of coffee with me or a photo session with Nicole let me know that, too.

But, if you’re local and interested in the photo session with Nicole (You are. trust me on this one.), say so in your comment. One lucky winner (YOU!) will be randomly chosen and announced over Thanksgiving weekend in that Friday’s Mamaleh post.

The contest details from sweet Nicole are as follows:


The contest winner will receive a free photo session with Indelible Photography by Nicole Spangler. The session options are infant (3 months to 12 months), toddler, child, or family (up to 4 children). You will receive a photo CD containing 20-40 edited images for personal use. The contest closes Wednesday, November 24th at midnight. And the session must be used on or before August 31st, 2011. Good luck and I can’t wait to see your photos!


About Galit Breen

Galit Breen was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously spoiled miniature golden doodle. Her book, Kindness Wins, is a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. You can learn more about Galit by visiting TheseLittleWaves.com.

Comments. Add Yours!


  1. The pictures are FABULOUS! Everyone I know has been getting great professional family photos this fall, and I am so jealous. My hubby has professional equipment; photography is his hobby and he’s very good. He doesn’t want to hire anyone. He was planning to just set up his tripod. But we realized we would never get our daughter to look @ the camera that way. LOL So a friend of ours who also enjoys photography is coming over this weekend to take a few pics. We’ll see how they turn out. I’m hoping to get something we can use for our holiday cards…

  2. What yummy pictures. Everyone looks so natural! I wish I lived close enough to have coffee with you, just not over scrapbooking. A Twins game maybe?

    I’m so glad you signed on to Twitter so I can keep up with you!

  3. I love the pictures! I am craving some me time over a weekend with friends to journal, scrapbook and read. Must do something about that. 🙂 I’m too far away for the photo shoot but think it is a really nice giveaway!

  4. bummer i am too far away. however, the moment of capturing memories is a paradox. many times the people i know are too afraid of a dslr to work it and capture a moment. also, i prefer behind the camera because i dont think i am photogenic.
    my family photo memories are painful ones. somebody always unsure if they got a pic, did somebody blink. who was picking their nose kind of deal. the other problem was there were too many control freaks in the family.
    now with my own family, i spend photoshop time fixing the moments such that nobody is embarrased. that is the best thing about a dslr and a quick trigger and rapid fire timers.
    here’s to an early shabbat shalom and i will visit nicole’s site to see what is going down in the twin cities

  5. Scrapbooking weekend is a must-do again! I also loved sitting on the comfy couch drinking lots of coffee. It got me out of a rut;)

    I LOVE what you said about following your dreams. What it brings about in life. In your heart. To your family and friends. I love this reminder to just go ahead and do it!

    A photo session would be amazing for the exact reasons you stated. I am almost always the one taking the pictures. Which is fun, of course, but I’m curious to know what I’d look like with my family. Also, as the story keeper of the family I’d love to document our history through a family photo. But my very careful (frugal?) husband can’t see spending the money on pictures! Lol. Love him.

  6. Galit; the photos are wonderful. I especially like the last one where the kids start to run! We all need “me” time – it is rejuvenating and it helps us to again appreciate the people and places that everyone of us end up taking for granted. And, I don’t think we always have to totally get away. Sometimes it just means taking a step back from something we always do – allow someone else to do it. The main reason I moved to NC was to get away from the terrible traffic and to be closer to the ocean – which I love. But, like everything, I tend to take it for granted and have to remind myself to go and enjoy that which I so love. Anyway, it’s wonderful you are offering this contest. I’m not in your area but pre-congratulations to whomever wins! Hugs!

  7. What beautiful photos! Such a family! 🙂

    I find photography to be almost an innate part of me, and I have camera at hand, wherever I go. But, often the photographer misses a moment of nature’s beauty, or joy, sadness, or whatever emotion fits at that particular time, when capturing that moment from behind the lens. The situation is often lost, before we can mentally and emotionally record it, for remembrance, years down the line, when retelling it to others.

    Shabbat Shalom!

  8. LOVE that you got away. Love the photos, too! Gifts all around… & getting the chance to step back & to jump in. How fortunate every which way.

  9. Would love to have family photos taken. Yours are lovely. I don’t like staged studio shots so I take them myself. Just like you, I am absent from most of our photos. So, count me in for the contest.

  10. Wow – the pictures of your family are so beautiful! I would love love love to win a session with Nicole! 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity!

  11. Hi Galit! Count me in for the contest! Such gorgeous pictures of your family. Like others have said, we have few pictures of the five of us . . . one of is always taking the picture. Also, it’s a rare moment when all three kids are smiling!

  12. Pictures tell so many stories- love them.

  13. Love the casual photos! Those are the best kind!

  14. I love that sepia, action shot.

    I went to New York for TEN days the first time I left my kids. Stayed in a hotel by myself, wandered around, saw sights, you know how it goes. Oh and I read. I read everything I took. And no access to the computer. I was ready to come home on the 10th day but not the 9th.

  15. Beautiful pictures. I’m sad I’m too far away to have coffee with you. It’s harder to live without that than to live without the pictures.

  16. Beautiful photos and words Galit. I absolutely believe in the power and importance of recharging your parent battery. It seems to make the ability to really be “in the moment” as a parent much more possible. As we all know, these days don’t last forever.

    Oh, and I would love to be entered into the contest 😉 !

  17. I’m too far away and too old and have no children or grandchildren…BUT, I love the taking of pictures–The catching of “that moment” and as one gets older–these are the reminders od earlier times and in fact, photographs keep those memories alive!
    Great pictures, my dear, and a wonderful idea!
    I treasure all the old photographs that I have—even the ones where I don’t know who the people are, and those who might know, are dead….Still….there is a story in each image and each picture tells a story! As they say: One Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.

  18. Im so glad you posted this.My family photos are very overdue, I think I skipped a year, opps!Love your family pics they are perfect!

  19. These pictures are beautiful, Galit! And what an exciting chance to win! My goodness!

  20. Galit, How fun! A contest, yea! I love free stuff and would be very pleased if I would win a free photo session 🙂 Group pictures always have there challenges for us (someone has their eyes closed, doesn’t want to show there teeth, the forced look) but I still cherish all our photos and the stages and memories they capture!

  21. I would love to be entered in the contest!! Capturing a great moment in a photo is priceless to me…I just can’t get enough pictures of my 3 month old son, he is constantly making different faces and doing something different, but like many others side, I’m always taking the photos and would love to get a family photo of my husband, son and me. Especially if the photos are from Nicole, she takes such beautiful photos. Count me in please 🙂

  22. No Hubby! No children! No obligations!

    Just ‘The Girls’. A glass of wine! And endless story swapping!

    I’m in…save my space!


    Thanx for stopping by my space in bloggyland.

  23. Okay SO MANY THINGS to comment on here.

    1) Your family is beautiful and it’s so nice to step away from behind the camera and allow someone else to do the picture-taking every once in awhile, eh?

    2) You have such an amazing way with words. It truly is a treat to read them and I can’t wait to poke around your blog a bit more.

    3) I wanted to thank you for stopping by on my SITS day and for leaving such a sweet and supportive comment. Bloggers like you are what this community is all about and I can’t tell you enough how much your words meant to me. Thank you, you beautiful mamaleh, you 🙂

    And finally, I am so sorry that I am too far to participate in this photo contest because that sounds like such a great opportunity! But I wish the best of luck to all and can’t wait to see who the winner is 🙂

  24. Your pictures are beautiful but that is easy with good material:) They capture the essence of your lovely family – I love the movement, the energy, the connection that I see in your girls.

    Thank you for sharing!

    The freedom you describe sounds delicious…I am glad you had fun, I am glad you are home – keep writing girlfriend…you are good stuff!

  25. We’ve never had a family photo session before, but I bet it could be surprising and fun.

    And your getaway weekend sounds FABULOUS!

  26. beautiful photos – i am looking forward to another family photo session after the baby comes.

    too bad i’m not local, can’t enter this awesome giveaway!!! 😉

  27. My dear friend! What a joy to share such a great experience and moment with you, I know I need to take care of myself in order to take care of those that I love, but it is such a hard task to accomplish and as much as I want I always find excuses or reasons not to make time for me, …which also can be reflected in all those family pictures that I do not appear in… always doing something for someone else… at the same time I know that making time for oneself is an important lesson to teach my kids.

    So much food for thought….
    I love all the pictures above and love how your family got captured thru someone else’s eyes… makes me wonder what our family would look like thru the eyes of someone else.. so please enter me in this “first ever contest” of yours.

  28. I have a feeling I might be a bit far to qualify for this contest but I wish I could! I’d also love to have a cup of coffee with you and find out about your weekend alone. With no kids. Or husband.

    Since this will never happen to me I’ll have to live vicariously through you!

  29. Gorgeous photos!! So glad you got some time away. Always a great way to recharge 🙂

  30. Lovely photos. It seems the digital age has given a new boost to photography, for the better. I also like how easy it has become to share our photos with people from all over the planet.

  31. Hooray for mom’s time away! Every mom deserves on of those weekends, and it sounds like it was a long time in coming.

    And the pictures? Absolutely gorgeous.

  32. Wow, you could stick your family in a life insurance ad, or maybe one for Ivory Soap, what a phunky photogenic phamily!

    And what an amazing contest! Pity I’m too far away, but maybe I can tempt sweet Nicole to come out to Israel, huh? I’ll feed her…

  33. Oh Galit! What a beautiful family!!! The photos are just wonderful. We are going for our session this week. Hope ours get half as good as yours!

  34. Gorgeous pictures and gorgeous family (BA”H)!

    Too bad I’m also too far away for the contest. In fact, I’m so far away that my first reaction to your pictures was, “Tights? Boots? And long sleeves? In this weather?”

    And then I remembered that where you are it’s actually autumn rather than our seemingly-endless summer… 😉

  35. sooo sweet! i take a lot of pictures but have never had a family session since i’m always the photog! too bad i live far away but i can’t wait to see the winning family!

  36. Beautiful pictures! We just had our done for the first time in over 2 years. It was so worth every penny. One reader is going to be very lucky1

  37. Being a mom has strengthened my belief that children make life more meaningful, more vivid …..more spiritual for sure. (Your gorgeous photographs show all of these things and more!) It is also amazing how even free moments away from our children have more meaning than those we may have taken for granted before our children arrived. Now, a cup of coffee consumed without interruption truly is a gift!

    Thank you for always describing all of these things so beautifully!

  38. I LOVE your family photos. They are so beautiful. It reminds me that I need to get out from behind the camera and make it a priority to get in front for a family photo.

  39. The pictures are great! It’s great how the family misses you when you’ve been away. I love how my kids greet me when I’ve been gone, even for a little while. Luke Skywalker runs up to me and says, ‘You back home, Mommy!’ It melts my heart.

  40. Love this line: “As women we’re such story tellers.”

    This is so very true.

  41. Fabulous photo’s and beautifully written. I love it!

  42. Not sure if this contest is still open, but I would love love LOVE some new pictures of our growing family. Kids change too fast and I am never in any pictures with my son! Thanks for the chance!