I’ve known Todd and Jessica for 12 years, since the days when all three of us were loosely affiliated with the same event-planning company. Over the years, these beautiful people have made themselves a special home in my heart. We might not see each other as often as I’d like, but when we get together, I find myself feeling the same love and admiration for them that I’ve always felt. But that’s not quite right. I admire them more now than I ever have. The amazing relationships Todd and Jess have not only with one another, but also with their children, inspires me. My own two kids are the great blessing of my life, but man, sometimes they just kill me. From time to time, I think of families with three or four kids, and my gut reaction is basically, “There but for the grace of God go I.” But not with Todd and Jess. This is a family that makes it work. They respect and treasure one another at a level I know is exceptional.
When I show up at Todd and Jess’s place for this shoot, my car door is hardly open before the four kids-Hayden, Caroline, Joelle, and Cameron—are rushing toward me, their arms outstretched for hugs. And not just one each. A whole bunch of hugs. It’s about the sweetest welcome a girl could ask for.
We do the whole shoot at the house, which is perfect for this family. For as long as I’ve known them, Todd and Jess lived in the same house, but in March, seeking more space, they moved into this new one. As Todd is wont to do, he had already customized the place, including the addition of a new woodshop, all constructed by Todd himself. Since Todd has worked on my own house any number of times, I’m well aware of the fine work this man can do, and I make it a point to use the new shop as a backdrop during our shoot. For pretty much the entire session, we just chase the light around the back yard and driveway. Toward the end of the shoot, I take Todd and Jess across the street for some romantics in the last of the evening light. Otherwise, it’s just this family in the place they love most.
These kids are special, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve known all of them since they were babies. Hayden, 13, is gigantic now—close to six feet tall—but he remains the considerate and empathetic kid he’s always been. This past summer, he took his first mission trip, to Nashville, and helped build handicap ramps for two retirees. Caroline and Joelle are sugar sweet, leading me by the hand around their yard, showering me with affection. Seeing such openness from these two girls gives me hope for my own daughters—if my own my kids develop such a willingness to care unabashedly for others, I’ll consider myself the luckiest mom in town. And Cameron…he’s just a pistol. Some of my favorite shots are of Cameron in his hat. They pretty much sum up his spunk and spirit.
I was so happy to have the chance to reconnect with Jess and Todd and their happy quartet. They’ve given so much to me and to my family, and I think often of how, when Todd and Jess came to my wedding in Nantucket, Jess was—unbeknownst to her—pregnant with Joelle. As usual, they were there to support us—Jess to plan, and Todd to DJ—and that’s essentially what I think is the heart of this family: loving another and caring for others. I’m lucky to have them in my life.