A Near & Dear Extended Family Session {The Lai Family}

When I first moved to Canada, I was a teenager. I met some pretty amazing friends then that have since become lifelong friendships. Irene is one of those friends. Our friendship has sustained a lot and we’re much stronger for it. It’s the kind of friendship that you know, no matter how long you go without checking in, that if you picked up the phone and needed a pep talk, or share a new joy, or ask for help, she would be right there for me.

Irene and I were born on the same island in Malaysia and her parents are from the same town as my dad so in some way, our roots are connected. In high school, I would spend a lot of time at her house doing homework, studying for tests, making our home concoction of mochas as we burned the midnight oil, and maybe just a little solitaire. As we did that, her mom, Jenny (aunty Jenny to me) would always make sure we were fed, not just with any food, but Malaysian soul food. Aunty Jenny, is hands down, the best Malaysian cook I know in town. To this day, any invitation to have a meal at the Lai household would not be refused. Besides, Derek would not let me ;). Beyond the amazing food that we would stuff our bellies with, Aunty Jenny and her husband, Frank also housed us for a period of time when my family needed a place to stay while our house was being built. You can only imagine the kind of trouble that Irene and I got into on a daily basis – movies and snacks, board games, and maybe on a bad day, harbouring a runaway friend :). Really, the Lai family is like an extension of my family here in Vancouver, so when Aunty Jenny asked if I would take some pictures for her, I said, “Absolutely-tutely!”.

Irene had a family session done recently by my friend, the very talented Cassandra Hamilton (of Cassandra Hamilton Photography), but was thrilled to get some photos with her parents and sister, Elaine, and her husband, Nate, who are practically newlyweds. We decided to do them at the trails Rocky Point Park, a beautiful spot for a walk on a brisk Sunday morning. The woods are so lovely; throw in a local bird population and fall colours, it made for a gorgeous backdrop for this beautiful family that’s so dear to me.

Aunty Jenny and Uncle Frank with their adorable grand-daughters, Gabby and Charlotte. The apples of their eye, without a doubt. These two little jewels adore their grandparents and are just as happy spending time with them as they do with their parents. One of the wonderful couple that started their life together abroad and continued their legacy here in Vancouver :).

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Here’s my beautiful friend and her sweet smile, her ever-goofy husband Yianni, and their pumpkins, with a little morning magical light entering my lens :).

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I got a request for lots of pictures of these two sweet sisters looking great with their punch of red! Geez, do my friends ever make gorgeous kids!

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I’m not sure if this lovely natural archway was here the last time I did a session in the summer but with the richness of the browns and the morning light, we had more than a few group shots here. One of just the girls, one with Aunty Jenny and her very grown-up girls, and a kiss for papa Frank :).

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Each of Irene’s girls have their favourite grandparent – perfect, I say!

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Irene & Yianni, Elaine & Nate, the very handsome couples of the morning, looking very Fall and coordinated :). The sisters, who have had their fair share of arguments growing up (didn’t we all!) now have such a sweet relationship in their adulthood. For Elaine’s wedding last year, Irene (who doesn’t sew) made her this beautiful patch quilt with pieces of interwoven hand written messages from her family – what an amazing gift to celebrate her happiness!

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To Aunty Jenny and Uncle Frank, I see before you two wonderful women whom you’ve raised to be strong, capable, sweet, and kind. In turn, they’ve shared that with so many of their friends and passed it on to their own children. As one of the recipients, I’m so grateful to you for shaping Irene to be the person that she is – a pretty amazing one. Thank you for extending your kindness and care through all these years. Still to this day, when my belly fills with your tasty food in your warm home as well as our chats, I feel like I do when I was young – extremely lucky to be welcomed as part of your family.

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