Birthday Pictures

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It’s My Birthday Today!  I turn 37, and I’ve been pretty excited about 37 for a few years. You’d think I’d be cringing, as I creep closer to 40, but I’m actually pretty excited about 40. ANNNNND,  because everything “7” is my favorite, 37 is even more exciting! Seven is just my number, probably because my birthday is 7/7, but I just love everything 7. I remember loving 17, and 27 was pretty good to me, too. For the past few years, I’ve traveled on my birthday, and being smack in the middle of the summer, tagging onto the only national holiday in the middle, it’s been easier to do that. Two years ago, my husband and I celebrated in Alaska, and last summer we took a road trip to Tennessee. This year, we are in Ghana visiting my parents! (I’m writing this and scheduling it before my trip). If you want to see all about our Ghana adventures, follow me on Instagram! {It may or may not be a fabulous birthday gift to have new friends on IG, so tell your friends, too!}

For my birthday each year, I just want pictures!  I had dreamed and drooled for months of pictures with gorgeous floral wreaths, and I tried to scheme how I could do some pictures with them. As I looked through pinterest, it seemed it was most often associated with bridesmaids or flower girls. I couldn’t figure out how to fit in the boys with that, so I thought it’d be fun to take some mother/daughter pictures with them. So that is just what we did.

floral crowns with cream and peach

I contacted Michele at Amore Bride on etsy (follow them on facebook here), and she crafted these gorgeous creations for me! I told the boys that this was all I wanted for my birthday, to help me pull this photo shoot off. It would take all 3 of them, and they were totally up for the task. I had gold lanterns, a fabric banner, and it’d take hauling a few ladders to the field down the street to make that happen. If you saw this post on instagram, you’ll see where I got all 4 of my kids to help make the fabric banner.


I often swap taking pictures with other photographer friends, and the one I had spoken to wasn’t available after the crowns came in, so I thought if I got everything set up, I could hand my camera off to my husband and he could take over. He’s done it before, I just had to micro manage quite a bit! I did, he did, and it worked great!

The boys helped hang the banner and gold lanterns once we got there, and we were good to go.  I’m very happy with how the pictures turned out, exactly the feel of what I wanted!

cream and tan and peach floral crowns

Let’s just talk for a second about pictures.

Some people hate them of themselves, and maybe I would if I wasn’t happy with my place in life, but I do feel content with me and my aging self. I’ve struggled with my weight just like most of the world out there, and in the past year, I’ve slacked off and picked up a few extra unwanted pounds, and more recently have been trying hard to take them off again. I try not to let that define how I feel about myself though. I have loved my new (in the past year) red hair, and feel an extra bit of confidence in myself with it. My friend Kiran who does my hair, also gave me some make-up tips, that I think give more of the softer/neutral look I prefer, and I feel better than I ever have. I was recently telling a few friends that I think the red hair pulled me out of a funk that I’ve had the past years, and reminded me that I need to not focus so much on the negativity I’ve felt in my life, and just harness the happy and spontaneous.

throwing flower petals in the air

I mean, I feel like I’m a happy, positive person, it’s part of what I was born with, and part my growing up experience. I feel an overall joyful perspective on life. But dang, I get pulled down by negativity, too. In the past few years, I’ve felt more insecure socially than I ever have in my life, and it feels horrible. I used to be more outgoing, and I’ve turned a bit more intrinsic in public settings, and I hate that it may appear that I’m snobby or something. I feel like I wait for people to come to me, and often they don’t, then that makes me sad again.  Sometimes I blame the blog for that, I blame it for a lot of things about me, but I can’t overlook the positive that has come from this little lady, too. I feel like sometimes I think of the negative people way too much when I’m writing (even stuff like this) and I want to filter myself, but I want to write for the people out there who care like Shawnna who comments nearly every single day, and Aline in Brazil that has been following for years and comments on my “heart” posts. I want to write more heart posts, and less fluff, but then I’m just tired and just want to watch TV to numb all the millions of thoughts that run through my head each day.  (Recently I’ve fallen for the new TV series, Jane the Virgin, has anyone seen it?? Soooo cute! And funny and quirky….but I’m having to buy episodes on itunes, and don’t love that!)

fabric banner as photo prop

I feel like there is a social taboo associated with sharing pictures of yourself, and I especially feel self conscious about it on instagram, and try to make sure there is enough space between pictures of me from the last one of me–because I do make sure I’m in pictures, (I talked about the importance of mom’s getting in pictures HERE) but don’t want to appear vain. Maybe I over think it, I’m sure I do.  But If you are anything like me, when I follow friends, I don’t just want to see pictures of their kids and their food and activities, I want to see THEM!  But that’s mostly what I see–their kids. And while that’s cute, I’d rather see  pictures of them and their kids. So I think of that when I share pictures of myself.

mother daughter throwing rose petals

But I’m trying to move past that, because I’m sharing my life both as a documentation for myself (I’ve been an avid journal writer in the past, and since writing my blog more seriously, I’ve laxed on that way too much) and to share with others that life is beautiful, even through the junky stuff.

floral crowns and glitter glasses

What do you think about the gold glitter glasses? I kinda love them.

mother daughter dancing in the wildflower field

And dancing…I love dancing.

birthday cuddles

But mostly, I love my girls…

dancing with girls in pictures

And sharing my love of dancing with them…       wildflower meadow pictures

And my love of pictures…

small floral crowns for flower girls

And just being free to be them…no inhibitions…

floral crowns for bridesmaids and flower girls

I want my girls to have memories like this recorded, to remind them of their beauty, and of our shared love…

gold glitter glasses

And that you don’t really have to have a real reason to get dressed up and wear floral crowns…  mother daughter floral crowns

Just because it looks fun…and because it’s a birthday wish.

family pictures with gold and cream

Hopefully this will inspire you all to do something fun with your family, that you love. You don’t have to be a bridesmaid or flower girl to take pictures as them! Do it, just because you want to….create your own memories, don’t wait for them to happen.

mother daughter matching small floral crowns

Thank you all for being a part of my adventure, whether a regular blog subscriber, or following on social media and hopping over from time to time. I appreciate it. It’s a weird thing to write to name-less and face-less people, I so appreciate hearing from you, and what keeps you coming back. As I mentioned above, what I want to do with this blog seems to change from month to month, but what stays the same is knowing that people out there keep checking in from time to time.

mother daughter dancing

And well, what is a blogger’s post without a pinnable image? I figured if you want to “pin for later” you can use the below picture!

Mother and Daughter photo session with floral crowns

To see all the fun I shared for my birthday week last year, click on the image

Birthday-Celebration-A-week-of-ideas-and-gifts-and-giveawaysBirthday Celebration Week

Birthday Photo Booth Props // Birthday Printable Yearly Calendar // 101+ Birthday Gift Ideas for Friends // Everything Balloons // Birthday Plate Tradition // Thoughtful and Free Gift Ideas // 10 Tips for throwing a Party

Join The Discussion



  1. Joanna S. says:

    i love your personal posts. I appreciate your openness and honesty. And the way you love your family is fantastic! Today you’ve inspired me to go do something fun “just because.” Thx!

  2. Aline says:

    Happy birthday!!!
    May God bless you with a wonderful year!

    About the pictures… gorgeous!! The second one is my favourite 🙂 Your oldest girl looks absolutely stunning!!!

  3. Kim C. says:

    Love these photos! Good for you for having a vision & making it happen. Happy Birthday!
    P.S. I’m the one that introduced myself to you in Costco a couple of months ago

  4. Shawnna says:

    Happy Birthday Girl!! – I just turned 38 last month on the 8th!! Crazy! I can’t believe I’m almost 40!! Love your pics!! And I hope you have a great day!!

  5. Debra says:

    I LOVE the pictures!!! You all look beautiful! This is something I would love to do with my three beautiful girls, just because it would be fun and so special! I always hate my pictures the rare times I’m in them, I’m usually the one taking them since I’m teaching myself photography, but sometimes I ask my husband or someone to get one of my kids and me or him and me. They will want them when I’m gone, I know. As far as the negative people, you just keep being you!! People are usually mean or rude because they’re jealous. So just feel sorry for them and don’t let it change you, you seem absolutely amazing!!! Thank you for your sweet honesty and openness, it makes the rest of us think and want to be better! 🙂

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Debra, you are the sweetest. I read this on my birthday in Ghana, but didn’t get a chance to comment. Your words mean a lot, thank you…and get in those pictures!

  6. Velma says:

    Happy birthday! I love these pictures! What a great birthday gift to yourself. My daughters are grown (33 and 32 yo) and starting families of their own, and we still love getting together and doing things as a family. This post has inspired me to do something fun with just the three of us!

  7. Happy Birthday friend! You are such a positive light in this world and I love hearing from you in posts like these. I struggle with getting out from behind the camera but think it is important to do so. Thanks for the reminder on that. These photos are absolutely gorgeous and something you and your girls will cherish forever! What a fun idea that turned out so beautifully. I’ve said this before but I LOVE how you include all of your kids and husband in the wishes and celebrations of others – including yourself! What a great gift you are giving to them by showing them to support and celebrate each other, and not forget about you too! I love all of it! Happy Birthday!!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I read this on my b-day, but realized just now that I didn’t comment on any! Gasp! You are so sweet with your words, I definitely am trying to teach my kids to serve and be thoughtful, so it’s nice to hear that you saw that, even though I hadn’t concretely thought about it that way!

  8. Velma says:

    I forgot to mention that I turned 60 last year – everyone thought I was crazy because I was looking forward to it and wanted a big celebration. I love life at any age so I’ll celebrate every year I get. Maybe I’ll start traveling on my birthday too. It’s never too late to start a new tradition.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I love it! Every 10 years definitely needs a BIG party! I’m sorta kinda already planning my 40th!

  9. Nicole says:

    Happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    These pictures are great! So fun and carefree. It looks like the three of you had a blast! I hope you snagged a couple with the male side of your family too… And yes, I also want to see pictures of my friends and family, not just of their adorable kids 🙂

    You know I keep coming back because I want to hear from you. I love when you share. Thank you for sharing all that you do. I keep coming back because of it.

  10. Ines says:

    Happy Birthday Kristen! What a wonderful post with beautiful words and pictures. You all look stunning and I agree with Aline your oldest daughter is gorgeous! And congrats to your husband as he is also a great photographer…I guess he had a good teacher 😉

  11. amy says:

    Wishing you a blessed & happy birthday!!!

  12. Jung A says:

    Happy Birthday Kristen! Love the pictures!

  13. Rhonda says:

    I hope you had a lovely day and I love love love that you did this. Love that you took the time with your girls. Lovely birthday idea! I should totally do it with mine!

  14. Emily says:

    I LOVE the pictures!! Gorgeous! I love your ideas and your execution. And your sentiments are always very honest and relatable. I hope you are having an amazing birthday. Here’s to 37! I’ll be joining the 37 party in just a few weeks 🙂

  15. Jacqueline says:

    Happy Birthday, Kristen!! Good for you for being in pictures (these are beautiful, btw) and encouraging others to do so as well. I like being in pictures too – although like most of us, I’m rather critical of how I look in them! – but you’re right, in our society one is almost expected to not want to be in pictures.
    I always appreciate your openness in this kind of posts! Been enjoying following your Ghana adventures on Instagram as well – safe travels!

  16. Jana says:

    What a fun photo session! I love that you make an effort to be in photos, not just taking photos.

  17. Alysha says:

    These pictures are gorgeous! Happy birthday Kristen! I hope your day is amazing with your new friends that you have met in Ghana.

  18. Suzie says:

    Happy 37th! I love your attitude about it all. Growing older is actually a blessing, if you can get past all of the junk with your body changes. Keep it up! Also, I love your hair color. It looks very natural on you.
    I think these photos with your girls are priceless. I wish I had thought to do that when my girls were younger. Now you will have to do some with your boys 🙂

  19. Jennifer Duke says:

    Happy Birthday, Gorgeous Girl! You never age, so 37 will be a snap for you. As for these birthday shots, Wow. You girls are so beautiful. Miss you!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Look at you, commenting on a blog post. I don’t know about “never” age, but pictures in pretty light are forgiving. Miss you lots!

  20. Karyn says:

    I LOOOOOOVVVVEEEEEE the pictures! Beautiful! Happy Birthday Kristen! I love how honest and open you are! Don’t ever change!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thank you, Karyn, I read these on my birthday, but didn’t get to respond. Your comment means so much to me;)

  21. Kristen, I love these pictures, and I love this idea! As a professional photographer myself, I am so RARELY in pictures! I have three girls that I totally need to do a mother-daughter photoshoot with! And I never would have guessed you are 37! You look 25! I know also what you mean about feeling socially inept. It’s doubly troubling when you feel like you’re “too old” to feel or act this way. I know that’s how I felt! I have struggled for a long time socially and felt bad about myself because of it until I read a book and discovered a program that totally taught me about all my gifts and helped me realize that many of my weaknesses were actually strengths! I wrote all about it in this post:
    You have such a wonderful, inviting spirit. Even though I have never met you, I can feel it through your blog. I hope you continue to feel better, and you really can rock that red hair 🙂

  22. Sarah S says:

    The one of your faces so close with the gold glasses…that one will be treasured forever!!

  23. sandra says:

    I love your post, thanks for being so real. I turned 37 in January and it was a hard year because I ran into some back issues and it made my turning 37 very sad. I have loved every birthday in the past but my back pain was a new unnecessary experience for me. I’m doing better and I always want to be excited about my birthday and you have giving me some wonderful ideas. Thanks

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I’m so sorry about your bummer birthday in January! I hope the back pain has subsided.

  24. sandra says:

    I forgot to ask, where did you find your dresses? They are beautiful!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      The dresses are not new, and from various place. Mine from Downeast Basics over a year ago. Youngest daughter from Target over a year ago, and I think the oldest daughters from Amazon. Google cream lace dress!

  25. Wow these pictures are amazing! love your post and for sharing the importance for moms to be in front the camera. Thats something I struggle with but doing better at. What fun pictures and memories you will have with your girls!