a Photo a Day | July 21 – Aug 3

Two Very Full Weeks in Photos!

For more “a Photo a Day” CLICK HERE.

These past couple weeks things went a little nuts.  I had my parents visiting and watching Maisy while I photographed several weddings, then Josh and I traveled to MN for some gigs where I got to see all sorts of family and friends (Maisy is a popular little girl) and photograph a gorgeous engagement session in downtown Minneapolis, we came back just in time for me to photograph another wedding in the Chicago suburbs, and finally Maisy and I tried to take it easy on Sunday (Mom bought her some black and white books and clearly she’s taken by them).

Week 1 |  July 21 – 27

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Week 2 |  July 28 – Aug 3

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Our Annual Photo Spree + Our 3 MO Belly!

Every year, around our anniversary, Josh and I take pictures together. They end up added to a collage we have in our living room that one day will cover a whole wall I’m sure.  I LOVE our tradition!  This year I loved that we got to do our photo fun with Mandy again!  First of all, she is a wonderful, sweet, dear friend!  Second of all, she is an incredible photographer!  She also did our engagement photos and wedding.

Anyway,  I love our tradition because I truly love the time with Joshua and then being able to put up pictures of our ever growing love up around the house!

This year, our shoot was a little more special because we’re having a baby and couldn’t be more happy about it!  In this year’s blend of images you will see some “pregnancy” geared images.  (Our little peanut is 13 weeks cookin’ in these pictures – so, roughly, 3 months.  As I post this we are 17 weeks into this adventure!0001 0002 0003 0004 0005 0006 0007 0008 0009 0010 0011 0012 0013 0014 0015 0016 0017 0018 0019 0020 0021 0022 0023 0024 0025 0026 0027 0028 0029 0030 0031 0032 0033 0034 0035 0036 0037 0038 0039

Big thanks to Mandy Henry for the beautiful images!

Baby Beginnings

We are having a baby!  Yippee yippee yay!!!!!

As most stories start, I want to start this one at the very beginning.  Our big news starts well before conception.  An important tid bit to know about me is I don’t make decisions lightly, particularly not big decisions.  I have an unintentional rule of thumb for myself that I have to have 3 solid reasons for making any big leaps.  For example, before I got my eyebrow pierced I asked my parents for their approval.  When I did ask them my dad asked for my reasons, because he knew I would have them, and I have him these:  one, I was called a “goody-two-shoes” all through grade school because I didn’t flub up morally or rebel so I thought it was time to try and fix that a little, at least physically, specifically in the hopes of reaching those kids that might be afraid to approach a “goody-two-shoes” like me otherwise; two, my dad worked at a second chance high school and I wanted kids like those to feel like I was approachable; third, I thought they looked so cool.

So, you can imagine that if I thought so long and hard about getting a little eyebrow piercing, how convinced I would have to be in order to start a family.  Hence, the Lord obviously prepared my heart for welcoming kiddos into our family for at least a year and in doing so gave me a good, long list of solid reasons to have a baby.

I suppose the very beginning started when Josh and I got married.  We decided we were going to have kids, if we were going to have them, in about ten years – when I was about 30.  None-the-less, we still talked about kids fairly frequently.  We talked about what kind of parents we wanted to be, what our kids might be or look like, and what sort of traditions we would want to have with our family.

When I photographed my first set of twins with Bella Baby Photography at Good Shepherd Hospital our conversations picked up from a rare occasion to increasingly frequent.  There was something about photographing twins that really made my heart swell lovingly.

Then God took me another step forward and decided on the approach of talking to me through some key people.  First, my good friend Hannah had her first little boy about a year ago.  In talking with her about her pregnancy, delivery and keeping up life with an infant my eyes were opened to the reality I had hoped for in having kids.  Hannah has a similar personality and lifestyle to mine so hearing her story confirmed my hopes and dreams about maintaining an active pregnancy, delivering responsibly but naturally, and continuing to pursue career passions with a child.  These things are totally possible and I am so excited to tackle them myself now!

Then one of my best friends from high school, Alicia, had her first little boy.  Again, I had another woman with a like mind to talk to about pursuing a career and a natural approach with children.  Besides, when a best friend has a baby you fall head over heels for that little nephew!

Now, my friend Becky really did me in.  She not only booked me for 3, 6, and 9 month maternity photography but also for newborn and once a month photos of Scarlett over her first year of kickin’ it on planet Earth!  Scarlett is the epitome of adorable.  She’s got those big eyes, round face, and an adorable, dimpled, willing smile.  And I see this cutie once a month!  I remember asking Becky my list of questions after she had Scarlett.  How was your delivery?  How are you feeling?  How are you sleeping?  Were there any surprises with being a mommy?  With this last question, which is really my code question for “is this baby sucking the life out of you,” she answered just as my friends Hannah and Alicia did:  “yes I’m exhausted but I’m so happy to be.”

I hope I’m not putting words in your mouths dear friends, but when I asked you all my questions the first time I saw you with your babies you all totally won my heart over to the side of motherhood.  In the end, the key with all of these women was the fact that they not only were pursing dreams alongside raising their adorable children but they had amazing love testimonies to share!  Truth is, having a family scared me before because I usually heard blurbs about how kids suck the life out of you, how incredibly hard it is, and how they take over your whole life.  But these women told me and showed me what I had hoped for, that having kids is ultimately a blessing and that every day they are overjoyed to be moms!  These women have children in their lives, not children taking over their lives and dreams.

So now my baby fever meter was officially tickled.  I love kids.  I love Hannah, Alicia, and Becky’s babies.  And though I knew I loved kids, I was perfectly content just seeing them now and then.  But God had different plans, so He took to some more drastic measures to really get my attention; He chose a select set of days to turn my baby making decision upside down.

Key day #1:  We had a pregnancy scare.  Scare is harsh because we weren’t scared, and I think that’s the moment when we both realized separately that we were not only ready to welcome a kiddo into our family but that we were hoping the “accident” took an we were, in fact, pregnant.  I guess God didn’t want to impose that on us though, he wanted us to willingly give way before blessing us with a peanut, because we didn’t get pregnant at this moment.

Key day #2:  I photographed a very large and very adorable family.  As the story goes, Beth was desperate to get a session in with her dad and all of his family because she had gotten word he may not even have two weeks left.  He had been battling cancer for some time and the cancer was now officially winning the fight.  It took some maneuvering to get my schedule and that of all her family members aligned but we did it!  Not only was I touched by the story behind making this session happen but, more importantly, I was so moved by the closeness Beth’s dad had with all of his kids and grandkids; throughout breaks in shooting, various kiddos would walk over to him and make faces or sit on his lap or play some other silly game.

Key day #3:  I photographed a vow renewal ceremony.  This was a family of a 6 years married couple and 3 toddlers.  I fell in love with the family almost right away and the couple’s level of patience and absolute joy for their kids.  I also fell in love with their youngest daughter Kaia.  Sounds narcissistic I know, but if you look at the pictures I took of her you’ll see that it was those round, bright blue eyes and adorable chubby face that won me over.  I remember hopping in my car with a full heart and thinking, “I want a family like that and I think I might be ready now.”

Key day #3 continued:  I talked to my mom a little about the idea of having kids.  When I got home from my vow renewal ceremony I chatted with my mom in the kitchen for a while.  We easily ended up on the subject of kids since it obviously was now at the forefront of my brain.  A few key points came up in our conversation:  a good time for me and Josh to have a baby would be in the summer when he is more frequently and predictably home, Mom would come and help me with the baby, and me wanting another puppy was actually me wanting a baby.

Key day #3 continued some more:  I talked to Josh about my new revelations.  My mom asked me the other day how long Josh and I talked before deciding to start our family.  My answer, about 5 minutes.  After I chatted with my mom upstairs in the kitchen I went downstairs to see my hubby.  I fairly quickly worked into what was on my mind, “Hey so I just realized that summer would be a good time to have a baby since you’re home more and Mom said she would help take care of the baby on weekends we both have gigs.”  His reply was just as shocking, “So do you want to make a baby?”  I think I blushed, which is funny because I’m married to the guy, and I stumbled on my words mumbling about how that’s not what I meant but that I just wanted to share my new found wisdom.  He simply asked the question again.  We got pregnant within days and found out officially on October 7th via a pregnancy test.  The coolest thing about all of that is that I had a specific prayer since photographing that set of twins at the hospital that if and when Josh and I were supposed to start the baby making journey that Josh would give us the green light, not me.

So maybe you’re wondering what my list of reasons to make this baby were?  Yes, it is important to me to be able to follow our dreams while raising a family. Yes, it totally meant the world to me to confirm that it was, in fact, more than possible for babies to integrate into the life structure you created instead of them taking over the whole show.  And yes, I did want a baby.  But, honestly, my list was only this long.

  1. God asked us to let go and let him make our little miracle.

That was all I really needed to know.  I know our journey may be tough at times, but I am so excited to be taking this adventure with the love of my life.  I think we are going to have some fun!

Happy New Year everyone!

Trick or Treating with Lauren Grace

I love holidays.  All holidays.  What I particularly love about them is the reason to deviate from the norm, to celebrate.  I love any excuse to celebrate!

Naturally, that means I enjoy Halloween.  I don’t enjoy the spooks and the excuse to live a horror movie but I do love dressing up.  The candy is ok too 😉

This Halloween my husband was out-of-town on a co-writing extravaganza in Nashville so I was left to my own resources.  But fortunately I got a call from my sister-in-law asking if I wanted to join her and the kiddos for some trick or treat fun in her neighborhood.  I was elated!

When I arrived at her house on Halloween I was greeted by the cutest little parrot niece I have ever seen!  She was wearing a zip up hoodie of pastel “feathers” with the hood as a beak and a tail trailing in the back and wore pink leggings.

Shortly after Sarah graciously filled my belly with sweet potato chili Lauren and I embarked on our adventure – Sarah decided to stay back with the little one to hand out candy.  It was lightly raining and chilly but I don’t think Lauren even noticed.

The first house we went to I walked up to the door with her and rang the doorbell.  Just before the owner answered the door I said, “say ‘trick or treat’ when they come.”  When the door opened Lauren proceeded to say, “trick or treat please.”  The man gave her a piece of candy and I hear her tinkling voice say, “thank you.” He looks to me and I say”Happy Halloween” and we turn to leave.  I was grinning ear to ear at my adorably polite niece.

With each passing house I started lingering farther and farther away from the front doors until I was waiting on the various sidewalks for Lauren.  Turns out, my two-year-old niece relished the independence and was more than happy to hit the doorbell herself – on the rare occasion the doorbell was well out of her reach I would, of course, assist.  At every home I hear her melodious voice say “trick or treat please” and “thank you” then she would abruptly turn around and barrel down the stairs and across the lawn to me, stumbling all the way, exclaiming “Kaia I got more candy!”

I always responded with a golden grin and a chuckle, “great job Lauren!”

Every now and then we would cross the street.  Each time I would say, “Lauren can you hold my hand?”

“Sure I can!”

Before long her purple pumpkin bucket was brimming with candy.  Every so often I would ask Lauren how she was doing.

“I’m good!”

Then I would ask if her candy was getting too heavy for her.

With a head bob/nod she would reply in her sing-song voice, “I am strong.”

I chuckled every time and replied with some sentiment like “yes you are!” – I’m all about independence so I was proud of my little trooper.

And hour and a half later our trick or treat fun came to and end and we headed back to the house and laid out her spoils for examination.  Quite a haul for a little tike!  I did notice most houses gave her more than on piece because she was so little and cute 😉

I simply adore hanging out with Lauren.  She’s such a joyful little bugger and really fun to talk to.  Happy Halloween everyone!

For more of my storytelling CLICK HERE.


a Photo a Day | September 9 – 15

Hey friends!  Sorry for the less than regular “a Photo a Day” blog posts.  Josh and I are in the middle of moving and traveling so certain things have been neglected.  We move October first so I’d say “a Photo a Day” will fall back into my weekly Monday blog post shortly thereafter.  Until then, I will provide what I can!  This week, I have 5 days of photos to share 🙂

To see more “a Photo a Day” blog posts CLICK HERE.

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WEDNESDAY Mr. Bee broke a leg so he made for a fantastic still subject and later he was gone so we both won 🙂

THURSDAY disc case for my lovely friends Elyse + Kevin

FRIDAY Joshua and my pops endeavored into some manual labor projects together

SATURDAY  a family photo session at Northwestern College in Minnesota (full blog post coming soon)

SUNDAY  an outdoor vow renewal ceremony at Edgewater Park in Woodbury, MN (full blog post coming soon)