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On the eve of Lyon’s 1st birthday, I began sorting through the photographs I had taken of him his first 365 days.

When looking back at his first few weeks and the words I journaled as a first-time mother – I CRIED!   “I made it,” I thought… Even through the blur of the first 6 weeks, my struggles with nourishing Lyon and all of the inadequacies I felt in being his mother – I made it.

And through it all, I journaled and documented all of my experiences so that one day when Lyon is older, I will be able to share those little moments with him.  That will be a special day for us.

Now, 400 days later – I have the challenge of sorting through all of his first year images into his first album.  This is what I do for a living, yet somehow this seems daunting!

Project Lyon

has been one of the most rewarding, the most joyful, and the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever done.  So much, that I’ve decided to continue documenting Lyon’s life – one day at a time – until he turns 5!  These photographs and memoirs of my son’s childhood are priceless, and I truly believe I am a better mother for it.

I’m going to do a better job at blogging tidbits of Lyon’s life for you all too.  I promise 🙂

Here is Lyon and Kyu strawberry-picking in North Georgia.  Lyon’s shorts were bright red by the end of the afternoon from all of the fresh strawberries he squeezed into his mouth.  Adorable 1 year old…

And of course, Project Peas & Carrots….  A favorite recent photo of Lyon and his buddy Erich.  It’s fun for Chaffee and I to marvel at how quickly these boys have grown, how different they are from one another, and how happy they are to play together.  I can’t wait to see them both in 10 years!  Oh, the trouble they will make together….

My daily project continues….  The start of Year 2 has been just as adventurous!

What we’ve been up to:

383: Just another average day at Gymboree with the ladies.

387: Waving hello and bye bye. It’s the little things that make a mama proud…

394: Wrangling my one year old to change his diaper. Potty training can’t come soon enough.

395: Decided to play hooky this afternoon and take you to the zoo so we could enjoy this insanely great weather. You weren’t interested in the animals, but you loved the rides. We rode the carousel a million times, and I loved every second of it.  Great. Day.

398: Discovered the best toddler invention ever!  Rear-facing Elmo playing on my IPAD during a long car trip to the mountains.  Not a peep (except from Elmo) came in the back of the vehicle…

400: Breathing in that fresh mountain air.

401: Quickly becoming an avid reader.  We never stop, even in the bathtub!

403: These days, life is all about blue trucks that go “BEEEEEEEP!”

404: You held on for dear life, tried your best to get that darn helmet off your head, and smiled with utter thrill every time dad rolled down the hills. I am crossing this off as one of my absolute favorite family memories.

Wanted to share an inspired session shot completely in black&white.

There is something truly soulful about shooting in black&white….  I’m able to dig deeper into my subjects and capture real and authentic moments that I might otherwise lose with color.

Some of my absolute favorite photographs from a recent maternity session with this long time client.  Mom is about to have baby #4, which coincidently happens to be a girl after 3 rambunctious boys.  What a blessing she will be to this family.

I adore this family and their 15 month old girl, Maxima.  Isn’t that the prettiest name?

I’ve been photographing this sweet family for about 4 years now…  They live in a quiet Connecticut neighborhood while dad takes an hour commute to the city everyday.  Ajax loves the rolling hills, playing soccer along the lake, practicing his golf swing, and riding every toddler vehicle that is out on the market.  It’s a good life for these once city-dwellers.

I visit this family several times a year, and it’s so nice to watch and document Maxima and Ajax grow into such sweet little people.  Maxima is a couple of months older than Lyon, and I know they would make such good friends if we all lived closer….  I might bring him up with me during my next visit!

A few of my favorite images from my last visit.  Such a lovely family…

Kyu:  “Can we do something low key?”
Alice:  “What do you mean?”
Kyu:  “For Lyon’s 1st Birthday…”
Alice:  “Oh yea, sure…. no problem, babe.”

That was about as much collaboration that happened in planning this low key get-together between me and Kyu.  I heard his words…. I tried so hard to listen.  But ultimately, the little voice inside that adored beautiful details, planning tasteful events, and being around close friends & family won me over.  Plus, how many times is our 1st son going to turn 1?  That’s right, Kyu….  We owed it to Lyon.

So, of course I turned to my friend and designer Kristen Smith to help me plan a lovely gathering for Lyon’s 1st Birthday.  For Asians – especially Koreans, the 1st birthday is a pretty monumental milestone.  It was important to me to uphold as many traditions for Lyon’s birthday as possible.

We started with a color pallet:  red, white with a touch of gold.  I love the way his invitations turned out.

Kristen also designed programs for Lyon’s birthday party…  We knew that many of our guests would not understand the meaning and significance of the events that would happen that day, so we took some time to describe them.

The little buddha girls on the very right corner, leading the lion dance, is my younger sister and I in 1990.  I love that we are able to pass such a rich tradition from my family to Lyon…

We hosted the birthday party in our backyard.  Kristen had the idea of incorporating colorful lanterns, and I actually really love how it turned out.

One of my absolute favorite details of the party was the string of 3×3 photos from Project Lyon that lined the dinner tables…  My favorite 200 of the 365 photographs I took of Lyon’s 1st year served as the centerpiece for our guest tables.  If you walked the tables, you could chronologically follow Lyon’s 1st year through photos…  Such a meaningful touch that I loved so much.

And of course, there was a feast!  Traditional Korean cuisine and a golden roast suckling pig to add to the menu for our guests…

My background is Chinese-American, so I had to talk with Korean friends to learn about all of the traditions of the Korean dol ceremony.  I took my best stab of it…

One of the key ceremonies was the toljabee.   In short, we lay 5 items in front of Lyon.  Whichever item he crawls to first dictates the future he will have…

And a play-by-play of the action!  Even though Lyon skipped all of his naps that day, he excitedly took part in this event.  What a good boy…

And he chose money!  (I predicted money, actually – because I know of my son’s secret obsession with paper…)

The children had fun painting framed art to take home.  We had 2 versions (both Korean and Chinese) outlining the traditional characters of the word “Happiness.”  Some did a remarkable job!  Some just painted black on the whole frame!

It was a lot of fun…

And finally.  My younger sister and brother-in-law performed a very special Lion dance to close the birthday for Lyon.  This dance is significant to us because this majestic creature is what our son was named after…  He serves to protect the family from evil spirits and guide us towards a fruitful and prosperous future.

Benji and Irene learned the dance the night before.  And this is how it turned out!

It was a first lion dance performance for many of our little guests….  So special.

In the end, Kyu turned to me and commented on what an amazing year it has been for us and how special celebrating it was.  I couldn’t agree more.

Happy 1st Birthday, my little Lyon…

A very special thank you to Jon-Michael Sullivan for perfectly capturing this amazing day for us.

If you ever here me complain about my role as a working mother, I give you permission to roll your eyes at me and tell me I’m weak.  Really…

Meet the fabulous Fabers.  I’ve been photographing their family since the oldest Ethan was 3 months old.  Never then did we anticipate adding 3 to their family simultaneously next…

Owen, Dylan and Piper are triplets who arrived this past summer right around 5lbs each.  Triplets run in mom’s family but they tend to skip generations.  Kerri is a working mother who *astounds* me with her sense of calm and content every time I am near her.  Her babies were sleep trained by 7 weeks, their schedules were like clockwork at their newborn session, and Ethan feels like one of the proudest big brothers I’ve had the privilege of photographing.  Amazing.

Like every session, there is a bit of frazzleness when we began…

But then we move forward, and the really good stuff begins to surface…

Like how the lone sister of the family is quickly becoming the one who will lead the Faber siblings and show them who’s boss.

And how Ethan refuses to for anyone to forget just who he is.

They’re pretty incredible…..and soulful, and kind, and absolutely in love with their family.

And somehow, they make it all seem so incredibly easy…