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Family Photos at Home

It started last year–through some rabbit trail of clicks–I was following Milwaukee photographer, Hannah Toldt. Over time, I noticed that she and I had some mutual friends and I figured it would be cool to know her in real life, so I messaged her to see if we could take a crack at getting to know each other.

Hannah agreed and we met for coffee. We talked for a couple of hours, which is pretty unusual for two complete strangers but she was just so dang likable. And when we decided to do family photos this year, I thought Hannah would be a great person to ask.

When we do family photos, we typically head somewhere pretty, snap some poses and go home. This time round, I thought it’d be nice to have photos taken at home. I thought it would be a bit more chill and I’d be able to deal with the usual kid meltdown scenarios easier at home.

BUT. The night before the photos, we were on our way to a surprise party and I realized that my house was a complete wreck and that a photographer is coming tomorrow morning and I have to have myself and 4 girls put together and a clean house by 9a. On a Saturday. Oh, the horror.

But we succeeded in a clean-ish house (thanks, closets!) and by the time Hannah arrived, we appeared to be a normal, put together family.

I typically get pretty self-conscious when I have my photo taken and end up making  dumb faces because I feel awkward. Maybe it was the combination of being at home and Hannah’s super chill vibe that put me at ease.

It was unusual weather in Wisconsin that day–around 90 degrees in September–so we snapped some front porch photos. Lucy brought out her photo album that she had received for her birthday.


I usually overthink family photos (what are we going to wear? what are we going to do? where are we going to go?) but this time, I just Let It Go, Elsa style. The girls want to play legos? Sure. Sage wants to climb the gate to check on the neighbor’s dog? Whatevs. The only thing we had to do that day was make pancakes. Because Saturday.

I honestly don’t know what Greg is doing in this photo,  but I laugh whenever I look at it.

After the  girls completed their proper leaf-fight throwdown, we headed inside to make pancakes. We’ve been using a recipe for Puffy Pillow Pancakes for years. I’ve tried many a pancake and I keep coming home to the Puffy Pillows.

Hannah took us up on our invitation to stay for pancakes because NO ONE CAN RESIST THE PUFFY PILLOW PANCAKE.

These photos of Mari were a complete surprise for me. She had lost interest in pancake making and wandered off, apparently to play the piano and put baskets in a symmetrical row, as one does. Hannah captured this shot of her pudgy little fingers and I just can’t even handle it.

We went through a hard year last year. Greg had some health problems that landed him in the hospital, and the girls were struggling. Greg and I were struggling. So we’ve been working hard this year to re-establish the culture in our home and family. We had all been pretty stressed and anxious about his health and all the medical bills. It was taking a toll on each of us in our own way. These photos are a gift to me because they’re a reminder of how far we’ve come, together.

Thank you, Hannah, for capturing this period in our lives, and for being kind, tasteful, crazy talented and cool.

Thanks for reading.

p.s. Puffy Pillow Pancake recipe can be found here. (We always double the recipe).

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