In Bloom

You might notice a giant blossom on Stephanie Nielson’s shirt. You might almost notice that it disappeared in the cover photo. (Scroll down to see the cover.) After taking a few shots with the flower, we plucked it so the attention would go straight to NieNie’s face — especially her eyes. Kenneth Linge fell in photographic love with NieNie’s eyeballs. Between takes he explained to her that eyes reveal emotion and reflect light (both key ingredients to a great photo). Stephanie’s eyes tell the story when it comes to the photographs, but MY eyes also told me a lot about her. Here’s what I saw … I snapped this photo with my phone (sorry for the poor quality), but I loved seeing Stephanie’s stacks of books on either side of the piano bench. She also had them fanned out under the tree — classic books like “Little Women.” I also saw a wooden high chair near the family table. And I noticed a box containing copies of the Book of Mormon between the couch and the dining table. When NieNie says it’s her favorite book, I believe her. I also saw two friendly faces come to her door. During the interview, Stephanie’s sister-in-law Megan stopped by. And a pregnant sister Lucy popped in during the photo shoot. When she heard we were doing a cover story for Utah Valley Magazine, she said, “That Stephanie!” Stephanie didn’t have to tell me she was sincere on her blog. I saw with my own eyeballs (aka reflectors of light) that love and friendships are everyday happenings in her offline life. “Utah in general is a very caring community,” Stephanie says. “When I go to Target, I see women who would do anything for anybody. We as women need to embrace that and stop feeling like we have to do everything ourselves. We’ve been given people in our lives who can help us.” For Stephanie, one of those “people” is Courtney. Known as “C. Jane” in the blogging world, Courtney is Stephanie’s neighbor and the second mother to her children.“She’s always the backup,” Stephanie says. “And I couldn’t be more grateful for that.” One last photo for today … This snapshot gives you a glimpse of Stephanie’s hallway. At the end is the pre-crash family photo that Stephanie and the other mother looked at during the Oprah episode. If you look really hard, you can also see the initials of the six Nielsons displayed vertically. I love how each individual is acknowledged and represented in this household. In other words, I think Stephanie is The Bee’s Nies. Come back tomorrow and read a handful of quotes that didn’t make it into the Utah Valley Magazine article.