One of our favorite photos sessions with one of our favorite families!

When some of our best friends moved away from Phoenix to Sierra Vista, we were more than bummed.

But we quickly realized that having friends who live in a town that stays below 100 degrees, has it’s benefits!  Our positive perspective was confirmed when Ryan called us to help him give Molly a surprise family photo session for mothers day.

We headed down for a weekend of intense late night conversations, tasty meals, hilarious kids, and major life revelations (which is what always happens when we hang out with this family!).

Molly and Ryan had a terrific weekend planned for us.  We started out by heading down to the little town of Bisbee, AZ.

We’d never been there before and we found out that this little European-esque place in the middle of the Desert that is Arizona, is a photographers dream!

(They love baseball!)

It was really hard for us to adjust to walking right past places we could only dream of finding to use as photo backgrounds if we were in Phoenix because there were just too many good shots and we would’ve had to be shooting for a week straight to catch it all!

We also headed down to their favorite little hiking area, Ramsey Canyon, to catch them doing one of the many things they enjoy doing together as a family.

Our big outdoor adventure was followed by a nice dinner at a cute little 50′s diner…

…and then a night of their normal bedtime routines.  Their bedtime routine is one of my favorite things about being with this family.  First, dad gives them a bath time, complete with special treats that the kids absolutely love like tornado time (watching the water go down the drain fast), airplane time (dad tossing them up in the air to help dry them off), and great conversation about life.

The kids all have their toothbrushes in a row and they each brush their teeth while dad dries their brothers off, then they head into their bedroom to wait for the family to finish gathering in there.

Once they are all in the room, they have Bible story time, followed by question and answers (I couldn’t believe the intelligent questions they kids ask!).  They all do “blessings” on each other which is where they each go up to every family member (and Scottie and I) and run their finger over your face in the shape of a cross saying “in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.”  Have you ever heard a 3 year old saying something that intense while looking at you straight in the eye?  It’s so cool!  Especially when he says “fodder” instead of father.;-)

Next they all climb into bed, sing a hymn together, and say prayers.  They really do this together every night! Before they moved, Molly and Ryan were in the class we took that helped us get out of debt (read our blog about that here) so we went over to their house once a week around bedtime and got to witness this routine every time.  So awesome.

Despite how neat all of that was to watch, I have to say that my favorite part was when the 4 year old was laying down to sleep and just before we walked out of the room, he innocently decided to ask one last quick question, “how do we get babies?”.

Oh wow, it took us a long time be able to catch our breathes from laughing after we walked out of that room!  Luckily, we caught that one on video!  Which by the way, we plan on releasing for you all to see soon!

The next day we headed over to the superhero wall.

Superhero mom, Molly, had made all the boys capes with their initials on it and masks go with it.

Oh wow, it couldn’t have been more perfect for pictures!

We just sat around for awhile watching the boys fight crime and then play on the playground afterwards.

These are definitely some of my favorite pictures of all time!!!

Let me just say that you have truly never seen 3 little boys who are so well behaved before.

(These are some little hats that I, Breanna, bought at Michaels and have been saving for the perfect kids photo session… this was it, they loved the hats!)


I spent most of the weekend trying to convince Molly and Ryan to start a blog or write a book because they must have something magic up their sleeve!

They are a very exceptional family who permeate one another’s lives with love, grace, acceptance, and humility.  Even the little 3 year old extends these values to his other family members!

It was seriously moving to wake up every morning and get to watch another day of a family loving one another that well! 

I say all of this because the entire weekend was filled with activity and the kids were totally thrown off their normal schedule…

…and still we did not see one time when it was necessary to discipline the children.  They were just good the entire time… exhaustion and excitement weren’t even enough to bring these amazing kids down!

Molly bought bribery candy for our day in Bisbee and by the end of the day, the grown ups ended up eating it because it was not even necessary to bring out even once!  Unbelievable!  We are so proud to be friends with people who can raise such beautiful, wonderful, sweet, and caring children.

We’re also so thankful we got to meet them before we have our own kids so that maybe we can learn a few of their secrets in time to apply them ourselves!

By the way, when we asked them about their kid raising magic tricks they said the main ingredient is that everyone serves one another… parents serving each other included!

Their explanation totally did make sense after we’d been watching them for an entire weekend.  Molly and Ryan weren’t constantly begging each other to take over with the kids, because one would always hop up first without even a second thought, and we didn’t hear any arguments the entire time over “who’s job it is”.

Molly and Ryan really do serve one another better than I think I’ve ever seen any couple do… and the kids have followed suite.

(Spending the afternoon playing baseball with their kids)

(Molly & Ryan love the “Swagger Wagon” song and this is their homage to it!  If you haven’t seen this hilarious video, you’re missing out so click here!)

How many times have you seen a little 6 year old willingly serving his 4 year old rather than fighting for their own individual rights?  Well, we saw it constantly all weekend!

(The littlest one loves helping his mom cook for the family.  While prepping for this same meal, the middle child is asking if he can be our waiter which means setting the table and bringing us our food).

In fact, Scottie and I saw this family serving each other enough all weekend that when we got home,  we looked at each other and realized that if we don’t start learning to serve one another better, then we’re in trouble when we have kids because they’ll definitely learn more than a few bad habits from watching us.  So thanks to this freaking cool family, our new goal in life is to learn to love others better by working on things about ourselves (the main thing having to do with serving others).

Thank you guys so much for being one of the most positive influences in our entire life.  I can’t even begin to communicate how refreshed, hopeful, excited, etc., etc. we felt after spending a weekend being served by you.  We’ve decided to have Ellison weekend at least 3 times a year because it’s one of the best things we could do to help us become better people…and because we have a GREAT time!!

We love you all!

Click to see the rest of the photos from this wonderful family session!

July 1, 2010 - 4:43 pm

Sarah Mann - I too love this family! They are my best friends and the boys are my son’s best friends. The pictures are amazing and capture their family so well. So glad you all had the opportunity to spend time together and catch these great moments!

July 3, 2010 - 6:11 am

Donna Little - Seems these parents knows what it means to be servant leaders. Even at home where the lines of servitude more often than not can get obscured. They have put the biblical principals of serving one other, instead of lording over each other, to work in their daily lives and instilled the same in the lives of their sons.
What a wonderful legacy to give to your children.

July 3, 2010 - 8:54 pm

Nicholas Leong - Seriously, these were the most awesome pictures I’ve seen in a long long time.

What a perfect family! And the boys have crazily beautiful eyes!

August 18, 2010 - 7:05 am

Toni Brannan - These are incredible! Scottie & Breanna, you truly have captured the essence of the Ellison family. Wonderful job!

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