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I am a custom photographer located in Calgary Alberta. Specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, children and family portraits, I provide on location and studio sessions and am available for travel. Thanks so much for stopping by! Enjoy!

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Elf on the Shelf… he’s arrived!! | Calgary photographer

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The day I have been waiting for WEEKS happened. Finally! And a day early. I am a mess for dates right now.
Christmas happens to be my most favorite time of the year. I love having some family time, some Christmas cheer, Christmas baking, going to church. And I LOVE the music. LOVE.
This year Christmas is going to be a little harder. For the first time we have no family visiting. My sister and family is clear across the country. So I am a little sad, and lost. I love to cook for the holidays, and suddenly have not too many too feed. I love to bake… but who is going to eat it? So this year I am a little scared of Christmas.
I decided to focus on the kids, and try to come up with something that would still let our kids feel close to their cousins. I had seen elf on the shelf last year and thought my kids would love it. So I ordered 2, one for us and one for my nephews.

The elf is basically a go between from the kids to Santa. He uses magic every night to go back to the North Pole and tell Santa everything that’s going on. Every morning he returns but in a different place than he was left. And some elves cause trouble…. it’s totally cute. The kids get to name the Elf, tell him their secrets and it just plain old rocks.

So Jenny and I were going to do a big surprise North Pole breakfast together so the kids could talk about it, and it would be a Christmas bonding tradition. Well… all was well and good until I accidentally did our breakfast ON THE WRONG DAY!! Ugh I am still sick over it! We were going to start Dec 1, and I did it Nov 30! I’m telling you… I am a hot mess for dates right now!

So I was up at 5:15 (to beat our real alarm clock Kade. Who wakes us all up at 6am on the dot.every day.) and set up the surprise breakfast. Egg mcmuffins (thanks Pinterest), green and red milk with marshmallows in a rudolph cup (by far the biggest hit), some Christmas donuts, and a little rudolph toy. Kade was COMPLETELY awed. She said ‘Our house is FULL of MAGIC!!!!’ That right there made it totally worth it :) Ro was and is more skeptical (people remember to take the tags off the doll. Seriously. Now I have to explain the tag thing to him lol) but he was up at 6 today ready to go find the elf!!!

After a day of thinking… our elf has a name. Bruno. So Bruno… welcome to the family.

It’s such a fun family tradition that I think can go on forever. If my parents had done it, I probably would still go to their house wondering where they put it! I love it!

I wanted to take some amazing pictures through our Elf journey, but the thing is it’s pitch black out when we get up. So I just have to go with it. lol.

The spread…..

Daddy reading the note from Bruno

Daddy reading the book!

Some pretty happy and excited kids around here!

Ro helping Kade get her special milk :)

Now to see if my nephews Elf has arrived!!!!!

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all day baking and cooking brought to you by Pinterest | Calgary photographer

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Pinterest. I signed up forever ago and didn’t really get it. Didn’t want to put in the time to figure it out either.
A few weeks ago I started pinning… then ran out of time again.
It is a HUGE time sucker!!!

But I love it. Pinterest makes me want to get married (yes we have been together for almost 10 years, have 2 kids and have been engaged for 5 yrs lol), be an amazing photographer, do ALL the crafts with my kids I can find, build my dream house, louse weight, become a baker, a chef, and interior designer. BUT, here I am stuck on the computer because I can’t stop looking at pins, repinning, and liking!!! Time is also wasted by me calling Dion over a thousand times a day ‘YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!!!!’.
Pinterest is a creative, imaginative person’s dream. And nightmare. You just can’t stop!

Today Kade and I had a Pinterest day. We’ve been having a rough couple of days with this child…. she’s overtired and throwing tantrums. Like massive meltdowns where I can’t even physically drive Ro to school because she keeps unbuckling herself in the car. It’s been rough. So today I wanted to shake things up for her. See if I could snap her out of it.

We baked. It’s my favorite thing to do. Music and baking is bliss. And everything we made was off Pinterest.

On the list:
chocolate chip cookies
lemon bars
chicken parmesan bake
homemade garlic toast

And it was AWESOME. Lemon bars still hate me. I WILL CONQUER YOU ONE DAY. But today was not the day.
Everything else was a hit. Rohan ate his whole supper (unheard of) in minutes. Telling me how good it was, and still talking about it at bedtime! The garlic bread was incredible…

If you want the recipes, look me up on Pinterest under my name :) If you’re not on there, send me your e-mail addy and I’ll send an invite! It is an awesome place!

Anyways…. here’s my girl. The girl I love. Who loves spending time with her mama. And we have matching Christmas aprons 😉

‘Reading’ the recipe to me

Being cute

I LOVE this pic :)

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the calm before the storm | Calgary family photography

Monday, November 7th, 2011

The calm? Kathy taking pictures of a beautiful family. Some adorable girls. Playing, talking, laughing….. until the storm.

The storm? Kathy racing with a completely adorable 5 yr old….. until she tripped :( Oh my I feel horrible!! Poor little girl she was having the best time until that fall!! Next time I might not go ‘all out’ playing with the kids…. so sorry Miss M!!! Hope you are not scarred…. for you have some beautiful photos from our time together!


Thanks so much for spending some time with me this afternoon! It may have been chilly, we may have had one major accident, but hopefully this gorgeous pics make up for all the hard work!!!

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Halloween | Calgary photographer

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

It came and it’s over!! Whatever you do, don’t forget to post some of your halloween pics over on my FB page!! Love to see them :)

I didn’t do much for Halloween this year, just couldn’t get into it. I have never been a huge Halloween person (minus the few years I got to get the candy when I didn’t have to buy any!), but this year I was just plain old sluggish! I did manage to get out and buy the kids their costumes, but when we went to try on Kade’s costume a few days before Halloween it didn’t even fit!!! Thankfully a friend stepped in and lent us one. I did NOT have the heart to go out and buy another one!

Speaking of the friend, her name is Shannon and she is running a Halloween picture contest. So thanks for the costume Shannon! She was sure happy :)

So we went trick or treating… with our smaller pails this year. One block and they were full, filling up Daddy’s hoody so they could hit a few houses on the way back. We got so much candy last year I was determined NOT to come home with so much this time! It worked and the kids were still totally happy. Kade kept saying ‘OK time to go home and eat some candy!’ While Rohan kept telling her ‘It’s not about the candy Kade, it’s about the fun experience!’ Sometimes my kids make me so proud.

After we were done I had Dion and the kids drive over to a house I had heard about from a mom at school. I wanted to see a house we park by to get to school anyways, so we went to both. They were AWESOME. Seriously. If anyone trick or treats in Shawnessy, you have to see these houses next year! E-mail me and I’ll give the details. Kade kept saying ‘Oh my, that house was creepy AND cool!!!!’ They were both totally amazed at the houses, and Dion and I were too!! Totally well done :) So I took some pics… it was pitch black out, so I had my iso jacked, shutter speed way down, and app too. The noise gives it the feel I want :) No flash here!

Stuff was moving all through this yard! The ghost slid, pots brewed and bubbled, a skeleton popped out of it’s grave, corpses moved, it was very well done. We watched this man work on his yard while dropping Ro off to school every day last week. It was a huge effort and totally worth it!

Behind the white drop… there were strobe lights. Mummies and skeletons. Women and kids dressed up. Someone laying on the table wrapped up as a mummy just waiting to scare people. Even I was a little freaked out! The strobe lights and all the white stuff with people bumping into with ‘blood’ all over was pretty intense! These 2 families decorated together, and it was pretty impressive!

It looked like the pumpkins were breathing!

Creepy fence posts hey?

Earlier my kids were comparing candy……

before taking their haul home :)

And now? Now it’s time for CHRISTMAS!!!

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more sweetness | Calgary newborn photographer

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

I know I know….. you are just as excited as I am over getting to see this cute little man again!!! I just wanted to share a few more from this session because I love these pictures so much!!!

Oh I love love this picture!!!

Everyone now……. *sigh*

And a fun lil storyboard of the girls… they really stole the show!

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Mini Session Special!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I am so very lucky and excited to be attending a workshop in Red Deer!!! It is with the amazing Laura Brett who is someone I complete admire. I am so excited to take my newborn photography another step farther!!!

To celebrate I am offering mini sessions. These sessions are a pretty sweet deal if I do say so myself 😉
I need 8 confirmed spots to go ahead with them, but they are filling up quickly! If there are more people interested I will definitely open up another day! They will be held on a Sat or Sun in Sept. The dates are Sept 10 and or 11 OR Sept 17 and or 18. The dates will be confirmed once I have the required spots. We will book for the 10th or 11th, but if weather does not agree we will move the dates to the 17th or 18th. Also if more people want the 17/18 I will just book for then! Right now I am taking down preferred dates from anyone wanting these sessions and will go from there!

Session details:

1/2 hr with me in Fish Creek park in the SE
a 15 image online password protected gallery
You choice of 10 imaged on a cd
5 professionally printed images of your choice and size

Cost is $150 for the session, digital images, and prints!! Too good of a deal to pass up :)

If you are interested please send me a message on facebook or to kjongstra@telus.net!!! 2 spots are filled already! The colors will be gorgeous at the park! Please forward  this to any family and friends looking for any type of session! If you refer and they book you will get 30% off a regular session fee for yourself!!! Just a little thank you from me to you for helping pass on the word!

Here are a couple of examples of sessions done at this park. I have 3 pictures of my own kids up on my walls from this park! Love it!

pictures of a cute little man turning one
my kids messing around

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Stampede 2011 | Calgary photographer

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

This Stampede was sooo much different than any other we have been to!!!

First….. we had NO STROLLER!!! There was no worrying about a zillion treats/snacks, diapers, changes of clothes… NONE of that! I brought a backpack with a ton of water in it and some hoodies. That was it. We had a highly overpriced supper,(note to self, next year get pizza NOT burgers and fries. much cheaper.) visited the BMO centre, and hit the rides. Which took almost 8 hours. 8 hours and we didn’t see HALF of what we saw last year! I think that was because the kids were having so much fun on the rides. We just hung out there all day.

Second….. there were barely any line ups!! That is a major plus. Usually the kids get frustrated and we have to stand in long lines. Not this year. It was super amazing. So the kids got to go on so many rides. Kadence (lucky girl) had me take her up that super huge long slide 7X in a row it was so dead at one point. And yes, my legs hurt the next day lol.

It was so enjoyable. All of us had such a good time. The kids are already looking forward to next year. Love the Calgary Stampede. If there is one thing I love about Calgary, it definitely is the Stampede. We are very lucky to live in a place we can share this experience with our kids. It is one they will remember. As will we :)

Hanging out taking some rides in… Kade the ride-o-phobic even turned daredevil! We were amazed at how brave she was and how much fun she had. She was throwing her hands up in the air, hanging her head over the edge and on most rides was yelling ‘AGAIN’ before it was even over!

Calgary Stampede rides

This is my favorite ride picture of them. I feel pretty lucky because I took my D80 (backup camera) instead of  my baby. That combined with tammy left  me with some focus issues in many pics. But I am totally happy with this!

I tried getting some cool photos on the merry go round. Dion had to leave for a while and I was on my own. And my kids…. well we can say my plans were totally FOILED!

So then I took them for sno cones.

While sitting eating the sno cones we discovered we had picked the absolute PERFECT spot to watch the guy get shot out of a cannon! Kade was so excited she told Daddy ‘We saw a guy shooted out of a big gun!!!’ LOL.

Then we grabbed something to eat (Daddy came back just in time) and headed over to the BMO centre. Where the kids JUST made it for face painting!! These ladies were completely awesome. They did such great work – it was amazing! While waiting, Ro got a signed soccer ball and we watched a wicked balloon show. Good times at the BMO center.

He loved his face. Not that you can tell from his mom forcing him to have a picture done 😉

We were so shocked she sat for this. On Canada Day she completely broke down refusing to get her face painted. Here, she saw a princessy pink one and had to have it!

We then headed back to the rides…..

Ro met this girl getting on to the ride. By the end they were fast friends and went on a few more rides together before we had to leave. Such a ladies’ man!

So then… it was time to go. The sun was setting and we had to hit the c-train home. To walk to the car. To drive home. And get all the paint off BEFORE the kids fell asleep. Tall order!
After we decided this though there were still things to do. Like….

watch the band we happened to catch. They were AWESOME!

Then we had to go in search of all the deep fried goodness. Funnel cakes? SCORE. Loved them. Mini donuts are always a hit. Deep fried oreos? Out of this world YUMMY. Depp fried pop tarts? Ummmm try again. Those were terrible. Even if they did put fruity pebbles on top!

And of course…. cotton candy.

Then a few minutes to burn off all the sugar lol.

The end. Stampede…. we love you.

Of course… I did get some cool weather pics to when the rain rolled in for a few minutes…..

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Please talk kindergarten with me

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

It’s official. My baby is off to grade one next year. We both survived kindergarten with some mixed reviews.

Rohan loved it. LOVED it. He had a teacher he adored, a pretty good class atmosphere, and he made some great friends.

I also liked his teacher. She always had full reports on Ro, listened to all of my concerns, and genuinely loves her job. She got along great with students and kept them engaged and interested. She made them want to go to school :)

So school is over. Kindergarten is done and we’re moving on to grade one. And sadly I don’t think my boy is ready.

I am nervous. Disappointed. Worried. Anxious.

I am all of these things because I volunteered a few times in Ro’s class. I got some glimpses into his school days. Now granted, only a few times. NOT the majority of the time. NOT even half the time, or a quarter. But I noticed some of the same things occuring every time. I am all of these things because now I have the books showing Ro’s ‘work’ from class. Now we do get to look at these books at parent teacher (and I did go to all of them). But now that I have all his work at home (they don’t send work home throughout the school year) I wonder if he learned anything (other than french). In fact I have started to wonder if he has gotten ahead, or backtracked. I am these things because after speaking to many other parents both from the school and from others I have noticed a couple of things.  Rohan is behind a lot of the other kindergarten kids we have met from other schools. And not because Rohan is a slow learner or anything, because I don’t think it was taught. Also, many other parents were wondering about what our kids were learning from the same school.

His books have a lot of half completed ‘work’. His pencil grip is still wrong. He can’t read. His printing looks worse as it seems he has picked up habits of printing letters in the wrong order. Like instead of lines going from up to down he goes down to up. Or does loops before lines or loops from the underside up – those types of bad habits. There just doesn’t seem to be much substance to it.

So it seems to me that besides learning french (and he has learned a ton of french and can switch back and forth for some things already. He has also taught Kade a lot of french) he hasn’t really truly moved forward with anything else.

Also… this school seemed to me totally disorganized. We have multiple calendars with different days to watch/remember. Dates combined with days of the week usually didn’t match up. Corrections were sent home (teeny tiny pieces of paper they expected kindergartners to give to their parents). Projects were started, but some never followed through. Even their field trip was disorganized and  everything felt very last minute.  My school fee was lost between banks and I never got my stop payment back as I had to issue another cheque. My driver’s license info somehow got lost 3/4 of the way through the school year (to go with my background check so I can volunteer there). Nothing ever felt organized. Or disciplined. The classroom also seemed disorganized. Not the way I expected for school.

One thing that really stuck out to me was discipline. I was really impressed the principal of this school has a zero bullying policy, as even though Ro was only in kindergarten we were already experiencing one kid in particular picking on him. That was caught straight away and dealt with.

But it seems there is a lot of positive reinforcement. A lot of attention given to the those who are creating problems. Books to go back and forth between parents and teachers to go over children’s behaviour.

Ultimately though, I felt like the children causing the problems and the way they were handled took away the kids learning in the rest of the class. If a child is causing problems, I feel they should be removed from the environment so the teacher can still give her attention to the class. Not going over behaviour, or their books, or having to deal with them more than once when they rest of the kids should be learning. I feel like it was the same 3 kids I noticed, and it always took the attention of the rest of the class. And the rest of the class suffers.

Rohan is my first child in school. I went into kindergarten not knowing what to expect. But I have come out of the experience disappointed. I have started doing lessons at home with him. In a week he was holding his pencil correctly. He is now slowly reading the easy rhyming words card. He is getting much better at addition. I am wondering how far he will get at this pace by fall. And wondering if public school is the way to go. I worry that grade one will give the same results. I am a wreck and it hasn’t even started.

His education means so much to me. I want to make sure it is done right.

Any thoughts of public schools in Calgary, private, experiences and opinions are welcome here. So are thoughts on homeschooling as we have seen amazing results in his learning since school has been over. I am so new to this, and expect him to actually learn at school. I feel like learning at school should be expected. Especially with a kid like Ro. He loves to learn, follows teacher’s instructions and is a great student. I don’t want to be filled with disappointment again. Tips on how to actively monitor what’s going and stuff like that are also totally welcome :)

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Okotoks water park | Calgary photographer

Friday, July 8th, 2011

This is becoming a yearly post!! We really enjoyed the spray park in Okotoks last year and I took some pretty fun pictures there last year. This year is turning out to be no different. Except for one pretty major thing (in my kids life). He stood UNDER the water from the bucket. Not under the covered part on the bottom of the bucket. He got SOAKED. And loved it. He also learned where to stand to get wet, but not drenched after that first time lol. He was freezing cold, shivering, blue lips and all and we could NOT keep him out of there. Go Rohan… you are a child who loves loves fun and excitement. And you do know how to share your joy kiddo :)

Kade was happy enough at the little sprays. A few times she actually got part of her head wet and would come rushing over screaming ‘This time I REALLY did it!!!! I went under the water!!!! Oh my goodness!!!”

Moments like this day are to be treasured forever. If you have not been to the Okotoks water park… you should!!

Notice where he is standing….

And where the water hit….. lol

There is so much water in that bucket!

Nope. He didn’t like it. Time to go home 😉


Take cover…….

Hey Ro… you missed the water. Bwahaha!

How to enjoy a water park Kadence style.

My newly turned 4 year was tired right out!! Fell asleep about 5 min from home and slept until midnight!

One of those rare moments you can take them out of the car and into the house and they stay sleeping. I also got her all ready for bed and put her in bed and she was out. SWEET!!!

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gardens and girls | Calgary children’s photographer

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Last night we stepped out over to the Lougheed house. It is so pretty there I absolutely love taking pictures there. Although I did learn in the summer… go later. Shade is hard to come by there!

This was one of the winners of a lifestyle session. Both dad and mom were under the weather though, so Miss B brought a friend and they had a lot of fun running around, playing with bubbles, drawing with chalk, and telling secrets. Totally found out 7 yr olds can’t keep a secret AT ALL. Hahahaha. And their secrets are pretty random and definitely funny. Although, dont laugh when they can hear you 😉

So here’s a glimpse of what we were up to last night!

Cool bubble! The bee was a bonus lol.

The took modelling VERY seriously.

One of my fav shots of the day!

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