Imagine

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Childhood is so fleeting.

I can remember being a kid- and I am truly blessed with the childhood I had. It was full of adventures, imagination, dreaming in vivid colours. Nothing was out of reach because I could imagine it to be right within my grasp. A piece of string was a spider’s web, a rope swing for Barbie, a leash for the (poor) cat, a snake thrashing in the grass. Coupled with a box, looped over a board or branch, it became an elevator for that same unfortunate cat, a hot air balloon for dolls, a swing.

These days, it seems like kids are having less and less of a childhood. Neighbourhoods become too dangerous for kids to play by themselves, iPhones, iPads, tablets of all kinds, and video games replace simpler toys, bikes, and imagination. Kids lose their sense of wonder early. It’s sad.

As a parent, and one who had such an awesome childhood, I feel like it’s my job to instil a sense of wonder into my kids. Mia is getting into such a fun age- her imagination is developing and she is creating worlds of her own. More than anything, I want to foster that- to give her the ability to create, brainstorm, think for herself, and find wonder in the little things. I want her to be secure, and to know she’s loved, and that she has permission to imagine, and to dream.

I find myself silently creeping around the corners in our house, listening to her chatter away with Mommy and Daddy Barbie, and their babies. Watching her gently place tiny plastic pieces of furniture in her dollhouse- smiling with pride and love as she tells her Barbies they’re doing a good job, or that they’re beautiful, or that she’s so happy to see them. She plays and plays, and finally I can’t take it anymore- I want to immerse myself in her world, to get back just a few minutes of innocent dreaming, carefree playing, full of tea parties, Barbies, and wonder.

We make little beds out of Kleenex boxes, little doll clothes out of pieces of fabric and ribbon, snack on chocolate chips and cereal and throw dance parties for her dolls- which inevitably lead to us dancing together, laughing and spinning until I think I’ll be sick. She’s much more resilient than I, and breathless with laughter she squeals “AGAIN!!!” So we carry on, creating another adventure, doing whatever she can dream up.

Childhood is only a moment, but we’re making memories in those moments as fast as we can.

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Give Beautiful 2013

Ok… So it’s Monday and we all know what that means. I’ve been slacking off on Facebook all day, when really I should be working.

As I was cruising through my news feed, and updating my business page it occurred to me that I haven’t done a contest in a while. Now, I am ultra competitive and LOOOOOVE to win, so contests appeal to me because I like to win. Let’s be honest- don’t we all?

With that in mind, I decided to do my biggest contest yet.

I have openings for two extraordinary women- the grand prize winner will receive a two hour FREE before & after makeover session with myself and my team. (Sorry fellas, this one’s for your ladies- but you can nominate them as well if you want extra, extra brownie points.) She will also get a sweet Beauty Bag filled with awesome stuff- trust me when I say I wish I was getting it! The value of this prize is over $500- so make sure you get your friends voting!

The Runner Up will receive a makeover session at 50% off, and will get a Beauty Bag of her own, just because.

Here’s how it’s going to work.

Head on over to http://www.facebook.com/stephaniemoorephoto and follow the link to the Offerpop contest. Upload a photo, either from Facebook or from your computer, and type a short description telling us your story and why you want to win. You can vote for more than one entry if you’re feeling REALLY REALLY nice or don’t have your own horse in the race, or just gang up on your friends until they vote for you. Either way, the woman with the most votes at the end of March 31st WINS!

Contest closes April 1st at Midnight, so get voting! C’mon, you know you want to!

Here’s a few examples of amazing before & after transformations to see you on your way!

Char Before & After Jasmine-BA Melissa Before & After Tannis Before & After Jamie-7034

The President

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Sometimes I wish I was the President.

Now, before you shut this off and say “ohhhhhh great, here comes the political debate blah blah blah…” let me clarify as to why. Yes, there’s a lot wrong with politics- but the reason I want to be the president is this: he has a personal photographer.

As a photographer, I’m blessed to be able to capture some pretty cool moments in other people’s lives. The birth of a child. Birthdays. Weddings. How beautiful and sexy you feel in that little black dress. A man proposing to the woman he loves and catching her surprised look through tears of joy. Cool stuff- and I’m glad to do it. Love it. Would never do anything else.

But as a photographer, I find that there are a lot of moments in my life that I miss, or that I snag glimpses of with my iPhone instead of my Nikon. It’s sort of like the plumber with the leaky sink.

Take tonight for example. I have one sick little girl on my hands, and all she wants in the whole wide world are cuddles from her daddy. No one else will do. It’s daddy or die. Her little eyes are watery and she is a fountain of snot, and so cute. She wouldn’t eat her dinner unless she could sit on Graham’s lap and snuggle.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Quinn has decided she is in the fourth trimester and needs extra amounts of love. Therefore, she enjoys her dinner on my lap and then promptly passes out.

Graham and I smile at each other over rapidly cooling pizza and salad, smothered in our kids, and he sings the chorus of “Life in the Fast Lane.” It makes me giggle & think about all the romantic dinners we’ve shared together. That time in our lives is pretty much gone- date nights are rare these days. But despite that, I find myself smiling and thinking, “I wish I was the president. This would be a great photo op.”

So, like I’m prone to do, I take out my iPhone and make a memory anyway, because I’m trapped by my littlest love, and dining with my two others…

And I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

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Sacrilegious Macaroni

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It was an unforgivable sin. And I did it anyways.

On purpose.

Even as I type this, I can still see the horror and disbelief in Graham’s eyes. Shock, mixed with outrage. How could I have done such a thing, and with a smirk on my face? Unbelievable.

I changed his mom’s macaroni and cheese recipe. The flavour of his childhood- marred.

Mind you, I’m pretty sure I made it better. (Sorry Barb)

See, I can’t just cook things by the book. It doesn’t matter how good the reviews are, or how treasured the recipe is, I JUST. CAN’T. DO IT. The first time, I’ll try it, but inevitably I change at LEAST one thing. Or all the things.

Like, with the macaroni. The first time, I made it according to the book, although I did substitute shortening (yech) for butter. We sat around the table, and I took a bite… and instead of going “WOW GRAHAM I SEE WHY YOU’VE BEEN BEGGING ME FOR 5 YEARS TO MAKE THIS FOR YOU! OUTSTANDING!!” I went… hmm. It’s missing something.

I watched him slathering a disgusting amount of ketchup on his mac ‘n’ cheese. “How is it?” I asked.

“DELICIOUS,” he mumbled through a mouthful (of ketchupy noodles.) “Just like mom used to make!”

“I’m never making this again.” I stated. Foot. Down.

“WHAT!?”

“I’m sorry honey, it’s not that good. It needs something. It needs more spice. More…. something else.” I was holding my ground. This was a tradition I could not abide. “The flavour of your childhood needs more spice… like MY childhood.”

Hurt. Shock. Tears. (ok, ok… so maybe not tears… but it’s MY story.)

Bound and determined to make him see it my way, like all wives, the next time I made the mac I changed things. I added parmesan cheese. I added garlic. I added onions. I added extra PIZAZZ. I basically attacked the recipe like I attack life; take no prisoners, no mercy, and make it memorable.

It was delicious. It was a gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese worthy of kings. It was the tastiest macaroni I’d ever had. Perfection, in noodle form.

He slathered it in ketchup.

Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all.

Regardless- he did concede that it was good. MAYBE even better than his moms. (Sorry Barb)

Here’s the recipe in case any of you got a hankering while reading this!!

Sacrilegious Mac ‘N’ Cheese

1 cup uncooked macaroni (or, if you cook like a horde is going to raid your house for dinner at any minute like me-2 cups)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs- the really fine ones
1/3 cup breadcrumbs- the crouton-y ones
1/4 cup butter
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 cups grated sharp cheddar- I like the extra old stuff. Yum.
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, whole

Cook macaroni until tender. Drain. Combine with well beaten eggs in a baking dish. In a large saucepan, sauté onions and garlic in butter until translucent. Add salt & milk, and bring just to a boil. Add cheeses and breadcrumbs. Pour over macaroni, making little holes in the pasta so that the sauce can drain to the bottom. If you’re feeling EXTRA sassy, you can also sprinkle extra parmesan on top of everything so that it is extra crispy.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until the top of the mac ‘n’ cheese is golden brown and delicious looking. Enjoy! (with or without ketchup)

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Nothing’s real but life

I lied. I’m not updating this more frequently.

Wow, am I terrible at blogging. Every time I think about it, it’s either 5am and I’ve got my hands full of baby, or I’m out at the grocery store with my hands full of groceries and babies, or I’m writing a horribly inappropriate (but hilarious) post on Facebook to one of my closest friends. In other words… it’s never at a good time. Somehow I sort of look at blogging as something that has to be done like this:

Sit down. Straighten desk just so. Have some deep, meaningful topic that will make people cry/be super insightful. Flex fingers. Write the great Canadian novel. Sigh. Perfect.

IMPOSSIBLE.

First off, now I have two kids. Trying to do all of that with two kids is similar to trying to wrap a cat for Christmas, only with more biting. If I had a moment’s peace, I would have 400000X as much quiet as most parents. It’s a little nutty how fast things change once you add one more teeny tiny hedonistic little ankle biter to your life. People think, it’s a baby- how much different could it be?

A lot different.

Secondly- my desk looks like something out of the movie Twister. It’s a contentious issue with Graham & I. There are no Excel spreadsheets anywhere NEAR the vicinity of my desk, because they’d break into hives and die a slow, horrible death. It’s an organizational nightmare, although I still maintain that I thrive in that environment and that I know precisely almost generally where everything is.

ANYWAY… that’s not the whole point of this. Just wait- it’ll all come together, I swear.

In my last blog post, I was talking about how we were expecting this little bundle, and then everyone got to guessing the gender and arrival time of Baby X. She arrived promptly, four days late, on January 4, 2013. Ok… so maybe not promptly, but that’s never been one of my strong points either so I can’t hold it against her. We named her Quinn Kathryn-Quinn meaning “intelligent” and Kathryn because God is a god of second chances, or so my sister Kathryn says. According to her, the reason we had another girl, and the reason she was guessing we would have another girl from the first announcement of being pregnant, is because we didn’t name our first daughter Mia after my sister. THEREFORE- because God was a god of second chances, we would have another girl and could rectify this unfortunate situation. We did.

Birth is a funny thing. It’s always depicted either as a beautiful experience, or as the worst possible thing that could happen to you, and it’s actually sort of both. (Now hang on to your hats if you’re still with me, because this is where things get a little graphic and REAL.) Nothing prepares you for what labor and delivery is actually like. There’s no set of A-Z guidelines to tell you you’re DEFINITELY in labor and it will be precisely 2-72 hours before your baby arrives. A few of my friends who are about to be first time moms were asking me “how do you KNOW when it’s real? How do you KNOW when you’re in labor?” It’s simple. Here’s how.

If you feel like some savage, crazed beast with huge claws, red eyes, and a gaping, slavering mouth is trying to rip it’s way out of your insides, you might be in labor.

If you suddenly get the urge, without prior provocation, to crush every bone in your husbands arm and hand, you might be in labor.

If you can’t stop making noises that more closely resemble a hippo and a gorilla madly going at it in the bushes than a human being, you might be in labor.

If you find yourself laying on a bed, surrounded by people you just met, with all of your um, nether regions, exposed, and are singing Cash’s “Burning Ring of Fire” to prevent something awful from happening…. you might be in labor.

And if you suddenly want to rip off all your clothes, paint your face, sharpen sticks to a point, drop to all fours and crawl like the primal creature you are… well then you’re definitely in labor.

Ahhh yes. Birth. It’s the great equalizer. So… beautiful? HECK NO- it’s like a Tarantino movie, only with more gore. Granted, you do get a baby out of it, and that’s pretty cool, but it’s definitely not as perfect as a scene from Grey’s Anatomy.

So what’s the point of all of this? Well… in my quest to be a bigger better blogger, I’ve decided something. I need to approach it differently. My life is CHAOS now. If I wait for something particularly meaningful to happen, or wait for the perfect blogging moment to arise, it ain’t gonna happen, and also, I’ve decided that after two rounds of having children in the fashion described above, I owe it to myself to be REAL about this. Genuine. Imperfect. Honest. And mostly hilarious. That’s what my life is like.

I want to be able to just say it like I see it, and be straight up, because I think if I can be FOR REAL about this, then I’ll actually get it done, and the blog and I can go back to being friends. Granted, this isn’t going to be for everyone. There will probably be some people offended. Good, I say. People need a little shaking every now & then.

Here’s the new addition- she is SUPER CUTE and I can’t believe she’s almost two months old already.Mia is infatuated with her, and fortunately Quinn doesn’t have personal space issues yet.

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Here’s to a 2013 of being REAL, no matter what that looks like.

PS- the winner of the baby contest was Chad Diblasio- he’s apparently a baby guessing prodigy! Well done, Chad!!

New Move, New Baby, New Contest!

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Wow- it feels like it has been a million years since I posted on here- and it pretty much has been!! I am a little better at updating my Stephanie Moore Photography Facebook Page but the blog has been neglected. Sorry little blog!!

In case you are new here or haven’t heard yet, lots of things have been happening. We are expecting a new baby on January 1, 2013, and with that big announcement, my family and I made the decision this year to relocate to Cranbrook, BC to be closer to family. It is beautiful here, and we love our new house. I’m looking forward to a milder winter, less traffic, and a slower pace of life-although we’ve been so busy since the move it doesn’t seem like slowing down at all!!

I will miss all of my Calgary clients dearly, but will still try to keep in touch and pop into the city for sessions when I can. I am still taking BC & Alberta weddings for 2013, and will be running select marathons in Calgary and Red Deer in the spring.
Now- a contest.

I posted this morning on my personal Facebook page that we would be taking bets on whether we are having a boy or a girl. We honestly have not found out yet, and although it has been KILLING me to not know what we are expecting, the element of surprise has been really fun too!! Lots of people started commenting, and it gave me an idea for a fun contest. So here’s how this will work:

1. If you haven’t already, Like my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/stephaniemoorephoto

2. Leave a comment on my Facebook page with your official guess- baby boy or girl, weight of the baby, and time/date the baby will arrive.

3. The person with the CLOSEST guess will not only receive a shout-out on my Facebook Page & the Blog (who I have apologized profusely to and promised not to neglect anymore) but will also win A $300 PHOTO SESSION, to be redeemed in the spring/summer of 2013. It can be used toward family photos, boudoir/glam sessions, or baby portraits.
We’ve got 10 weeks to go, so get your guesses in!! The winner will be posted shortly after baby arrives- and I am a Facebook fiend, so look for me to be FB’ing from my hospital bed…. no joke. Make sure to like the page- that’s how I’ll be able to tag the winner!!

I’ve had a few people tell me that is is basically impossible to guess the gender of a baby without a belly shot- so I’ve provided one here- 30 Weeks in the new house!

Can’t wait to see who the winner is!! Good luck everyone, and stay tuned… I have a very exciting photo session this Saturday!!

Because he loved me

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We eat maple chipotle short ribs, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans while we talk about our day. Our overly animated two year old is wiggling the beans in her teeth and we are laughing hysterically, glancing at each other over the tabletop, and somewhere between bites I think “I’ve really got myself a good one.”

He’s my best friend. He makes me laugh, he makes me think, and he makes me a better person. He balances my ahem… creative chaos. He understands me, listens to me, loves me unconditionally, and is the BEST daddy to our little girl. I’m so glad I married him.

My single friends ask me how I got so lucky, and where did I find a guy like him, and really my answer is simple: I knew what to look for.

I am SO blessed to have grown up in a family where the men were stellar examples of integrity, honesty, and true inner strength. My granddad is amazing- he is SO funny, and when he talks everyone listens. He’s created a legacy- he taught my dad how to be a real man, and how to love his family truly and deeply. My dad was always there for my sister and I- we never had to search for a father figure, because we had two incredible ones in our lives every day.

My dad told us he loved us every day, multiple times a day. He made us feel special, valuable, and cherished. He sent us flowers on valentine’s day when we were in high school, from “one who has loved you from the very beginning.” He took us on “dates,” taught us how to shoot straight, and how to really experience and give love. He told us never to take any crap from anyone, to stand up for ourselves, and how to kill a man with a pencil. (Hey, it’s a life skill!)

When I started dating Graham, I recognized a lot of qualities in him instantly. They were characteristics I knew in my soul, traits that felt like home. It didn’t take very long before I started thinking that he would be an awesome daddy to our babies, an excellent husband, and the perfect person for me to share my life adventure with. I knew what to look for and where to start because my dad, and my granddad, loved me.

Guys, if you are the father of a girl you should know that you are her whole world. Tell her she’s beautiful- take your daughter & wife on dates. Make her feel special, cherished, loved, and valuable. You are laying the foundation of the rest of her life- from you she will learn what it is to be a real man and what to look for in a husband. She gets her value from YOU. So much of the heartache, and feelings of “I can never be good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not skinny enough” that girls experience can be solved by you BEING there for them, and being a true father figure. It’s so important. Every day in my line of work I meet women who feel like they need to lose 30 pounds to be pretty, or don’t believe they will ever be worth something to someone. It breaks my heart, because I know why they feel that way- they needed their daddy to tell them they looked like a princess, and he wasn’t there.

After dinner, I wash the dishes and listen to Graham and Mia playing. She’s laughing her head off as he makes her dinosaurs RAWWWWRRRR at each other. She’s splashing in the tub, and they’re having the best time. She loves her daddy, and she KNOWS he loves her. She doesn’t have to ask. He tells her every day, multiple times a day. She’s his whole world, and he is hers, and one day she will look back and say “I’ve really got a good one. I love you dad.”

Happy Father’s Day everyone.

The Beautiful Woman Project- Lisa

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You wake up in the morning, glance in the mirror, and immediately wish you hadn’t. Upon closer inspection, you decide there may not be anything in the world more wretched than your own face without makeup, and feeling down on yourself you brush your teeth, splash some water on  your face, and get to work.

Makeup. Straighten hair. Fix makeup. Inspect hair. Inspect mid section and decide that yes, you are fatter/skinnier/the same as yesterday. The scale confirms your worst fear. You’re up by a pound. Depression.

That was my morning.

When did all of these irritating little things become part of our lives?

As women, we get down on ourselves about the stupidest stuff. We forget we are powerful, beautiful, confident. We erode our self esteem with meaningless critiques. We stop seeing the big picture, and narrow our focus to only see the “bad” things.

That all stops today.

I turned 28 yesterday, and my focus for this year is to make a difference. Every woman is beautiful, and this year I am going to prove it. I’ve started the Beautiful Woman Project, and I am half way through an amazing journey with 12 beautiful women from all walks of life. They are gorgeous, regardless of age, size, race, or other categories we judge ourselves by, and it’s my job as a photographer to make them see themselves that way.

I’ve enlisted the help of Olivia, Emily, and Helen, three incredible makeup and hair artists here in Calgary to bring the transformations to life. They are vibrant, full of life, and the perfect fairy godmothers for the Cinderella experience.

I’m going to post the before and after transformations of these women, who have greatly impacted my life with their willingness to let me in and show the world what I see in them, and how beautiful they are inside & out.

First up: Lisa!!

I’ve known Lisa for a long time, and finally reconnected last year. She’s amazing, and I am so blessed to have her and her awesome wife Vickie in my life. We spend our days laughing until our sides ache, eating her delicious baking, and chatting about the future and anything else we find funny. She was volunteered for the Beautiful Woman Project by Vickie, and I’m so glad she was!

Here’s Lisa’s take on the project, and seeing her transformation photos.

SMP: Tell us about your reaction to seeing your Before & After photo:
Lisa: I was blown away. I am still in shock. I’ve looked at it about a thousand times and it still amazes me that I could look and feel that amazing after only a couple of hours. I sent the photos to Vickie and she was speechless. She was FREAKING OUT about them. She approves!!

SMP: Advice for other women thinking about getting glam makeover photos?
Lisa: Do it, do it, DO IT! Don’t think about it, just do it. It’s worth every penny. You feel AMAZING. That feeling doesn’t go away. Every time you look at your photos, that feeling comes back.

Here’s Lisa’s before and after transformation- I think you’ll all agree with us that she’s stunning!!

 

To book YOUR transformation, contact us!! http://www.stephaniemoorephoto.com

Sisters

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She’s your confidant. She “borrows” your clothes and you never see them again. She spends hours with you huddled under blankets, telling secrets and giggling into the night. She’s the one that you call when you know no one else is going to understand and you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you. She’s supportive, yet brutally honest, the funniest person you know, and drives you crazy at the same time.

She’s your sister.

I had a session this week with two sisters who are just getting started in their lifetime of secrets, barbies, books, and eventually boys. Ava & Kenzie are the cutest little princesses, and oh-so-darling. Although Ava is only six months old, she is such a poser! We had a fun afternoon of giggles, laughing, princess stories, and pretty pink dresses. Kenzie is the BEST big sister and loves her little baby to pieces! She can’t get enough of her sister, and it got me thinking about my relationship with MY kid sister.

We’re the best of friends, and I don’t say that lightly. She has been a fixture in my life since October 1986. We’re thick as thieves, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Spending time with Ava and Kenzie reminded me of Kate & myself- dressing up our cats, hauling them around in home-made “harnesses,” an dancing under the stars in bare feet & nightgowns when we should be sleeping.

I’m so happy for these two little dolls- in each other they have a lifetime of friendship, even though right now Ava is Kenzie’s favourite little toy. In time, they’ll grow older, get bigger, and find strength, comfort and love in each other that they will have nowhere else. Of course, there will be fights, but those will be few and far between and not what they look back on when they are watching their children play together. They’re sisters. They’re together for life.

To make her smile…

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I’ll do anything to make her laugh, and I really do mean ANYTHING. I jump around. I make stupid faces. I tickle her until we are both in hysterics. I love that sound more than she’ll ever know, unless she has a daughter of her own one day.

I think about my daughter laughing, and how pure it is. She knows she’s loved. She knows she is beautiful, because I tell her every day. She doesn’t have body issues. She loves wearing clothes that are big and bright, and don’t match. She loves playing dress up in daddy’s shoes, mommy’s scarf, and whatever else she finds lying around. She’s super confident, rockin’ her camouflage slippers, lime green t-shirt, purple monkey hat and black jeans with her hair standing up in all directions. When she strikes a pose, she KNOWS she looks good. You can see it in her face.

I wish I could be more like her. I wish I could make all women feel as confident as she is.

That’s my “why.” That’s why I want to take gorgeous photos of women- not necessarily in camo slippers… but still. Somewhere down the road of life, we go from rockin’ whatever it is we are wearing with no makeup or coordinating to standing in front of the mirror for hours dissecting what we’re wearing, and how we look. We go from being sassy in dad’s big boots to crying because we’ll never be pretty enough, or sexy enough, or just enough. It’s heartbreaking for me. We tear ourselves down and tear ourselves apart. We forget how to feel beautiful. We forget what it feels like to look at a photo of ourselves and go “that’s me, and DAMN I look good!” We get lost in our negativity, and in never being happy with WHO WE ARE.

What is the bar that we all keep comparing ourselves to?

As a photographer with an intimate knowledge of Photoshop magic, I know that the photos I see in magazines are NOT REAL, and still I tear myself apart. The body image portrayed by the media today is totally unrealistic. For myself, I want to stop comparing myself to models and start comparing myself to Mia.

She’s confident even when she has ketchup all over her face. She’s the centre of attention with macaroni in her hair and when she laughs she brings the whole world joy. She doesn’t care what she looks like because she knows I love her, and that she’ll always be gorgeous, no matter what she’s wearing… and I’ll do anything to keep her that way, and to make her smile.

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