A Christmas Video – Made with Love

Luke 2 – Christmas 2013 from James Kanka on Vimeo.

The Shape of Things

I’m feeling huge these days, and for good reason! While I am running out of clothes that fit comfortably, I am also reminded of the beauty and blessing of it all. Just last year at this time I was mourning the loss of a pregnancy . Today I am celebrating and giving thanks for our little growing peanut – who is quite the active little guy.

When I was pregnant with Eli, I had James take a photo of my very large baby bump. The other day I was thinking about this photo and decided baby Kanka #2 needed one too. Now if only choosing a name were as easy….

The first photo is me pregnant with Eli at 37 weeks pregnant.

The next shots are of me pregnant with baby boy Kanka #2 at almost 32 weeks.

Life Lately…& a bazillion pictures

Okay maybe not a bazillion – but definitely a lot! But first what we’ve been up to:

  • We closed and moved into our first home -yay!!! (No pics yet – just visualize a charming 1950s fixer-upper)
  • I caught a virus and was sick for 4 weeks. I injured/fractured a rib in the process.  It was truly awful, I would not wish the experience on anyone- ever.
  • My dad came to visit, helped us move, and worked on the house with James
  • I suddenly began to get better after a month of feeling like a horrible useless blob – just in time for halloween!
  • My mom came to visit and help with Eli so James and I could get more home projects done
  • James’ parents came to visit and brought some of our things from Virginia- including a sweet little camper
  • My belly is getting larger by the day and baby boy seems to be doing well. I’m somewhere between 31 and 32 weeks. Random people have started making all kinds of interesting comments on how I look like I could “pop” any day – oh the joy of unsolicited comments….
  • I’ve killed way too many spiders/bugs and raked way too many leaves to count…
  • We’re slowly starting to make our home feel more settled – only a few more boxes to unpack…
As I type this I’m looking around our house and thinking of all the unfinished projects left to do – of all the things I want to get done before the baby comes knowing it probably won’t be. But, I’m also thinking about all that we have right now, all the people we love and all we’ve been blessed with – and my heart is so full. I’m thankful for all our blessings!!!
And if your eyes have glazed over reading my bulleted list – below are the absurd amount of photos that have accumulated over the past few months. And yes, yes they are mostly of Eli :-)


While my dad was here we managed to get out to the zoo for one day of non-house project fun. 
The below pic is probably one of the only pics you’ll see of me from my sick days – I’m sure I coughed up a lung right after this photo was taken. 
We have a TON of trees in our new yard – which means LOTS of leaves – and lots of FUN for Eli :-)
The weekend before halloween I was finally beginning to feel better and we headed out to the pumpkin patch for an afternoon of fall fun.
These pics and his expressions crack me up! They had a tiny play village and he couldn’t get enough of it – he could have played here all day!
Yes, the pretend outhouse was he favorite part….

There was a hay maze for the kids – he was too fast to catch. And too excited to stop for a picture – these were the the best we could get. Can’t blame him – it did look pretty fun!

Below is proof that my child is like everyone else’s – he didn’t want to take a picture with me :-)

Of course he’s all smiles for daddy though ;-)
Eli had so much fun at the pumpkin patch and it made my heart so happy watching him dance with joy – running around checking out all the things to do at the pumpkin patch. By the end of the day we had clearly worn him out and yet he did not want to leave – nor take any more photos.
Cutting the pumpkin was quite exciting too – Eli was thrilled to use the pumpkin carving tools. He wasn’t so thrilled at the pumpkin guts though….
Halloween day we had awful weather. Lucky for us most of the surrounding communities rescheduled trick-or-treat for the next evening. Eli and one of his best buds Anna went trick-or-treating together. It was a beautiful and fun evening! Eli was a fireman and Anna a dalmatian – they made the most adorable pair!
The next weekend we had a fun fall get together with our small church group – the weather was crisp and lovely. We took a bunch of pictures and had fun just hanging out with each other in the park. (I forgot to ask if I could post pics of the rest of the group so I’ll only share a couple of us at the park.)
Thanks to our friend Elisa, we were able to get a pic of all 3 (4) of us :-)
The next set of pics are from my mom’s visit. And yes, I force all my guests into a photo shoot if the weather and sun are just right :-) 
I’m loving all the smiles in these photos – Eli had a blast in the leaves with Grammy!

Exciting NEWS!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above…”   – James 1:17 (NIV)

Today we got to see our baby – it was amazing! You all may be wondering why I’ve waited so long to post our news? While we’ve been overjoyed to tears from the start of this pregnancy  - I honestly felt a little timid to post about it given my previous pregnancy losses. So we decided to wait until after our 20 week ultrasound to officially announce the baby. While we don’t have a name for this precious child yet, we already love him dearly. Eli is thrilled to become a big brother and can’t wait to meet him. Eli was especially exited about the idea of sharing a room with his brother and wanted to immediately “teach him to make toot noises with his mouth!” Love it!

A few weeks ago (yes my belly is even bigger now!) we headed out to the Carnton Plantation here in Franklin, TN to snap a few photos. It is gorgeous out there -especially in the warm evening glow. Check it out!


Adena & Eli

What could be more adorable than these two? Sometimes you just need to dance and play music in the sun – with ribbons! Hope you all are having a lovely thursday :-)

Together Again!

Even though we had to move away last year – these two picked up right where they left off! We headed back to Michigan in May for some family events and we were able visit with Eli’s first best friend Violet. I love watching these two play together – breaks my heart that we have to be so far away but so glad to know they still love each other. Do you remember your first best friend?

The McKelvey Family

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful pleasure of photographing the McKelvey family. What a sweet, kind, and loving family – not to mention extremely photogenic :-) I had so much fun taking their photos – they were rock stars! The sun was up and it was hot, but you didn’t hear any complaining – just smiles. What more could a photographer ask for? It was hard to narrow them down but here are some of my favorite photos from our shoot :-)

…And this girl was a photographers dream!

Of course little sister is simply ADORABLE too!
I love capturing the in-between moments like the image above – pure joy  and so fun :-)

Such a beautiful family! We shot these photos at the Factory in Franklin and I was loving how the light bounced around the alleys.
I love what happens when you let kids be kids – you get the best smiles & a wonderful glimpse of their personalities. 
More sweet un-scripted moments – LOVE!
Thanks so much McKelvey family – you all are beautiful inside and out! I had a great time photographing your sweet family :-)

Personal: Eli is 3

I quietly slip into his room every night just to squeeze in one last peek before I go to bed. It’s these quiet moments – as I’m tucking the falling blanket over his arms- that I most often think about the beautiful blessing we’ve been given. I remember praying for this child – this precious little boy even before he was born. We waited eagerly for him and counted the days until we could hold his tiny hands. I would stay up late pondering the possibly of who he would become and what his character would be. He has grown since the first day we met, but his hands still fit nicely in my own. He reminds me so much of his daddy, but he’s got his own personality too. Now days I soak up all the snuggles, hugs, and kisses he’ll let me have because I know that someday they will be fewer and farther between. I know that my role as his mommy will change over time, as all relationships do – but most nights I wish that time would pass slowly to let me savor him as my little boy a bit longer.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” – Robert Munsch

Eli turned 3 over the weekend – my little boy is growing up! I love him with all my heart and I’m so proud of the little man he is becoming. I cherish all the smiles, laughter, and love he has brought to our little family. He is the sweetest boy I know, and I feel beyond blessed to be his mommy. Happy birthday Eli – you are loved more than you know!

Here are some pics from his special week :-)

Eli is so special they had a festival in town on his birthday! He loved it – and wore his birthday crown the whole time :-)
This past week Eli wanted to have a pillow fight on our bed – so I of course grabbed my camera. I LOVE these pictures – and it was so much fun!

James took some video of Eli the morning of his birthday – this little clip was too adorable not to share!


20130428 01786trim from James Kanka on Vimeo.

We love you Eli – my beautiful, bright, and wonderful 3 yr. old

Personal: Friends

They share pretzels and hugs as they giggle over toddler conversation – and my heart is overflowing with joy. This is Eli and his buddy Anna – they are like two peas in a pod. She came over to play last week and I couldn’t help taking some pictures.

Aren’t they adorable?


Personal: Un-planned Fun!

He smiled mischievously at me as he aimed the water at my toes. His giggles could be heard across the parking lot. He ran around the balcony aiming at anything and everything he could find. It was a beautiful moment of joy and I had to capture it on camera- the real one. Not just my iPhone photos that I love to take for sheer easiness. I grabbed my camera excited to capture my little boy being exactly that – a little boy.

You wouldn’t know it but yesterday morning did not go as planned. My snuggly son came into our bed to give us hugs and got sick on top of us daddy in our bed bed. I quickly realized our day wasn’t going to go as planned. I was selfishly bummed that we would have to take it easy and stay near the apartment. It was a gorgeous spring day outside and I wanted to go enjoy it. As the day progressed Eli seemed to be fine – praise God. (Not sure if the getting sick thing was just a fluke or what but I’m happy to say we avoided the disgusting stomach bug.)  And I began to think – just because the day didn’t go as planned doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves right here, right now. So that is exactly what we did – and it was perfect!

The whole day was a great reflection for me. I began to think about my plans vs. God’s plans and this day was a perfect reminder. How many times does our life not go according to our plans or our wishes? Sometimes we think we are entitled to have things, or  we feel we’ve earned it -only to have those exact things slip away. It’s easy to get mad, frustrated, and feel bewildered. Thankfully, I believe in God and I know He has perfect plans for me and that they will happen at the exact right moment. Even though I can’t see the big picture – I have joy knowing that God does.

Happy spring ya’ll! As a friend put it, yes, I can say that – I live in the south now!

F a c e b o o k