the dreaded family photo

Another thing on my list of things-to-do-before-Zach-leaves was family pictures. As in pictures of our entire family.

Can I just add something here?



I already struggle with trying to photograph just a few of my kids together.

Getting everyone in the same frame, still relatively clean, all looking in the same general direction and not making a face is, honestly, ulcer-inducing.

Add to that the fact that for the entire family to be in the same frame, I had to figure out the self-timer (thank you, Victoria), set up the tripod (thank you, Asher), and depress the button and run to get into the picture. You know, acting natural and all.

It was not pretty. I’m so sorry to everyone who passed us on that path at the botanical gardens.

So sorry.


But I had a lot of skin in the game. I’d ensured everyone’s cleanliness, dressed them, fixed their hair and driven – two cars – all the way across town to a local botanical garden for pictures. By the time I set foot in the place, I was committed.

Thankfully, we did not leave empty handed.


Professional? Nope.

That’ll-do? Yes.


We even had fun in the process.

Okay, not a lot of fun. But enough as one can home for under such conditions.


I think the Sonic stop for 1/2 price slushies on the way home helped.

The best part? These were the last check box to complete our dossier for Miss Clementine.

Once we receive our USCIS approval (should be soon!) and we will be ready to submit our dossier.

One slightly painful step closer to our sweet baby girl.



  1. Oh, man, I can relate to the stress of dossier photos! And I only have 3 kids! The ones I sent in with our dossier are “just okay,” in my opinion. Yours are actually super cute! We just mailed our dossier to our agency last week and expect our DTC to be 8/1. Can’t wait to hear that yours is on its way!

  2. Angie Rylands says:

    That is SO funny Steph! We made the same “Sonic stop” after our family photos last week! 1/2 price shakes is the ONLY way to feed large families! :-) They are awesome! Well done!

  3. The part where my eyes started to burn and my throat got tight. “One slightly painful step closer to our sweet baby girl.” SO excited for you!!

  4. Beautiful picture and so wonderful to check it off the list!!

  5. Sandy Kreps says:

    WOO HOO!!! DTC is such a RELIEF!! We were LOA today – so I feel your excitement!!

    • NiHaoYall says:

      That is awesome, Sandy! The only thing better than LOA is TA (and CA) 😉 Congratulations on a BIG step closer!

  6. Great job! My kids are such goof balls we never get good photos!

  7. Wow look how big they are getting especially Asher!!! He looks bigger than Chris! Everyone looks beautiful though. Tori is always so photogenic, very vogue! Love everyone!

  8. Rebecca says:

    I just found your blog and I have been (happily) missing some sleep as I read through your hilarious commentary, heart wrenching stories and beautiful photos of your family. We are in the “research” stage of international adoption. We live overseas with the military (wahoo for military families, saw your husband was prior military!) so the situation has its issues. We are debating (and lots of prayer too) on waiting until we go stateside to start (18 months away) or just go ahead now. Thanks for all your vulnerability and honesty in these posts. God has blessed you abundantly!
    In Him, Rebecca

  9. A pain to get the pics, but worth the effort, I’d say. I’m surprised that you and your husband don’t absolutely bust wide open with pride.

  10. Invest in a remote! I use the following one from Nikon and LOVE it. You can even buy a little $2 case that attaches the remote to your camera strap so its always available. I’m not a cannon girl, but i’m sure they have something similar. It is so much easier for mom to not have to run back and forth with the timer!

  11. Jane Klingenberg says:

    Oh, Stef! You make me laugh. Love seeing your family pics. Love even more knowing that you are another step closer to Miss Clementine !! God reminded me to pray for your precious little girl yesterday!

  12. McDonoughclan says:

    I so enjoy reading your blogs and just love your sense of humor. Thanks so much and congratulations, I will be praying for you an your family. My husband and I just got our biometric appointment and we are excited,the last step of completing our dossier. Your blogs help me pass the time especially when I can’t sleep, I always feel to encouraged after reading so thank you.

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