Our little boy is extremely gifted and interested in some very specific things. Trains, for instance, are his bread and butter. So naturally we bought him some tracks and trains and showed him how to put it together. Now he builds makeshift tunnels under the couch and huge elaborate tracks. He also loves animals, but don’t hold  your breath waiting for us to get him any (it’s not exactly in the budget right now.) His most recent interest/talent has been taking pictures. It all started with our phones, and then the little leap pad he got for Christmas that calls out “cheese and crackers!” every time he snaps a photo with it. One morning a couple weeks ago he got hold of my DSLR while I wasn’t in the room. I have a “NO TOUCH” policy on my camera because it’s so expensive and nice. Instead of running to grab it back from him when I saw he had it, I slowed my steps and watched for a few moments.

“Cheeeese and crackers,” he softly breathed out as he stood straight up, the camera strap secure around the back of his neck, and pressed his finger on the correct button to hear the satisfying snap of a picture being taken. Then he held the camera in front of him to examine his work on the screen before moving on to take another picture. It was adorable. So I stayed close by and let him take pictures for as long as he wanted.

When he set the camera down to walk away I rushed over to pick it up and see what pictures taken by a three year old look like. And I was impressed. So now when he points to the top shelf and says, “pictures” I bring down the camera, put the strap around his little neck, and let him explore his creative side. Not only have we watched our budding photographer flourish, but we’re also getting a unique view of life from his perspective as we see what he thinks is worthy of being photographed.

Morning dancing in the kitchen.

Mama dressing sister for the day.

Sister rocking her “baby.”

View from his car window.

“mama!! say cheeeese and crackers!”

A special blanket.

Peek into his room.

A new friend at the airport.


***all of the above photos were taken by Mareto (with no assistance) and simply resized to fit this blog by me. : ) 

  • Jenny Gutwein - Hello Lauren!! I think you may be friends with my friend, Amber Prevo? Someone commented on your post on Facebook, which brought me here. I just watched your family video & really loved it. When you spoke concerning saying goodbye to your babies it was just instant tears as we also fostered as young parents. It is all very special & your children are beautiful & precious. Maybe we will meet someday :)!!ReplyCancel

  • Belle - Beautiful and breath-taking. truly a look into the treasures of his heart. What a gift!ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - Love having a glimpse into the world through his eyes!ReplyCancel

  • Mimi - Awww! Nothing is better than toddler pictures. I have an old snap and shoot camera I rarely use and I let my five year old have free reign with it! Most of them or close ups of his favorite toys (trains and planes) but there are some real winners in there as well. Love that you are cultivating his love for photography :)


  • sarah hurst - i love this so much! i love that instead of taking the camera from him, you stepped back and watched. i feel like i so often, quickly stop something that my kids are “supposed to do” when if i just stepped back, it may be something magical! what a great mama you are and what a great photographer mareto is! :) ReplyCancel

  • Marie Johns - So excited by this new side of our little guy. It will be an avenue of expression for sure.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Lauren- wow! What a good, little photographer you have! Some of these pictures are just fantastic! Do you ever watch the show “Parenthood”? There is a pre-teen (or maybe teenage now) boy on there with Ausbergers with a real interest and talent in photography! What a neat connection. :-) ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I love this! Sometimes Micah grabs our camera and I am always surprised at how good some of the pictures are. And how they give a peek into his world.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny marrs - I love this!! Very impressive, Mareto!!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I love that you gave his talent space to breathe. What an interesting glimpse into what he sees as beautiful. Love, love, love this post.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Mills - Lauren – this totally made me cry! It’s so easy to say “stop!” and “no!” or “that’s mommy’s”… I just love that you gave him space to explore, and that you took time to see from his point of view, in a number of ways. Just beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Alaina Mayes - These are WONDERFUL shots!!!!! Keep him behind that lens!! LolReplyCancel

I was 19, he was 22. It was Christmas break 2003 and Brad Paisley had a new single out. John likes to say we met in a bar. I prefer telling people that a mutual friend introduced us. Both versions are true. A bunch of friends talking around a table in a local bar turned into just two people immersed in conversation as all the other people faded away… home, to work, or off to another group.

As our waitress brought the checks I realized my friend had forgotten to pay her tab. I looked at the amount and realized I had just enough cash to pay for hers and mine while still leaving a tip. With that taken care of John and I walked to the parking garage where we had both parked. I was driving my parent’s minivan. He was driving his old ford ranger… a navy blue pick up truck. I miss that truck. We said an awkward shy goodbye at the minivan and I started to drive away – the wrong way. Embarrassed, I shifted into reverse and just backed my way down the spiral until I got to a place I could turn around. John was following in his truck the whole time. He was driving forward, the right way, out of that garage.

When I pulled up to the booth (which I had expected to be closed because of the late hour) I knew I didn’t have enough cash to pay for parking there all night. I asked if they took debit cards. They didn’t. I had to fill out a form or two so they could mail  me a bill. John was watching papers pass back and forth as he sat behind me waiting his turn. Confused he finally got out and walked up to my window to see if everything was okay. I was so embarrassed as I explained that paying my friend’s tab had used up my cash so I didn’t have any for the parking garage. He laughed when he realized I was signing an I.O.U to the city and handed the attendant a $10 bill. He walked back to his truck and I took my wounded pride with me as I drove away. But as John drove the opposite way, back to his parent’s house, Brad Paisley’s new single came on the radio and he smiled while he listened.

The next night we went on our first date. We were both broke so we took his mom’s full tank of gas and drove to the state line and back again just talking the whole way. I thought I knew a shortcut on the way home, but got the name of the road wrong and we ended up way lost down a country road. Finally we made it back to my parent’s house where he dropped me off at the porch with a hug and plans to go Christmas shopping together the next day. On his way home Brad Paisley’s new single came on the radio again.

Eleven months later he made a pathway of candles to a single chair in his backyard, got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. While I admired my new ring he went to adjust a candle and the whole right sleeve of his sweater went up in flames. After a bit of flailing it went out easily and we laughed about how I was so in awe of my diamond that I didn’t notice him catch on fire. On our way to my parent’s house to share our news John popped in Brad Paisley’s new CD and we laughed as we listened to our song.

Eight months later we said “I do.” As we drove away from the reception site John stopped at a red light to rip some of the streamers away from the windshield and as he did his VMI class ring went sailing off his finger into the grass across the street. I looked out the window to find my groom sprinting across the road. Not what you want to see just hours after the wedding. Thankfully the ring was right there in plain view and he ran back to the car as fast as he went.

A few weeks later we were settling into our first little apartment and I was learning to cook. John came home from work to find cheese dripping from the kitchen ceiling and me crying at the stove with flour everywhere. I was trying to make my mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese and something (I still don’t know what) had gone really wrong. He immediately started laughing. We ate out that night. And Brad Paisley came on the radio in the car.

  • Amy - So funny! I don’t think we heard about john burning his shirt before…ReplyCancel

  • Annie - I love these vignettes, Lauren. Your telling of them is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • sarah hurst - your love story is perfect! i went from feeling bad and cringing to laughing at all the little bumps along the way! thanks for sharing your story!ReplyCancel