Recommendations From Moms To Moms-To-Be

I run a Question of the Day (QOTD) on my Facebook page.  It occurred to me one week that not only would I probably like to know various motherhood tips and tricks but that perhaps other not yet moms or soon-to-be moms or new moms would like to know them too.  As a result my questions for two weeks revolved around having kids.  One such question was the one below and I loved the advice!

What is your number one recommendation to soon-to-be moms?

“Take lots of naps! And stick with it through breastfeeding, it’s tough at first but well worth the pain and effort!” – Laura

“Pack your hospital bag at least one month before your due date. Oh and if your partner is going to be there. They should have a bag too at least with snacks. Cause labor takes a while.” – Kelsey

“Allow yourself to heal. It is insane what our body does and continues to do when you have a baby, the whole process so do not feel bad about naps, take MANY baths and take advantage of all the help offered until you are recovered. It is worth it and you will appreciate it forever. No one told me or prepared me for how much I will hurt after having the baby. It felt like I came out of surgery and I had to take care of a baby at the same time, next time will be all the rest I can take, and I am incredibly thankful for my mother in law Sherri Gerecke for all of her help and love!” – Holly


Children’s Books | Book Reviews

I love children’s books.  Last week I read through a batch of seven that were recommended in Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and I loved all but one.  These were all promised to reveal great writer/illustrator relationships – picture books that the illustrators work not only adds color and animation to the story but actually adds to the story itself.

Here are the six I now want to add to my collection.

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type

This is a quirky tale of a farmer at odds with his dairy cows because of a sudden typing ability.  These cows discovered a typewriter in the barn and set to work making demands of the farmer. I was skeptical of this book at first, I figured it wasn’t my type of tale but I’m glad I read it because I giggled my way all the way to the end.


The Wriggly, Wriggly Baby

A set of new parents finds themselves always trying to hang onto their baby.  This little baby is always on the move and, in this story, gets out of the house for a full day of adventures around town.  Without his trusty sidekicks, dog and cat, in tow this story shares what could have been a bad ending if it weren’t for them. This rhyming book is a great read; the illustrations are colorful interpretations of the adventures in ways that makes them worthy of continuous hearty chuckles.


The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

Very simply, this is a story of a niece who misses her uncle.  The tale starts with a letter written by the niece requesting a visit from her uncle.  He replies that he can’t make it but Oliver K. Woodman would love to make the trip in his stead.  The catch, Oliver K. Woodman is actually a life-size wooden doll figurine, so you can imagine how his hitchhiking across the county would be thoroughly entertaining.


Bertie Was a Watchdog

Bertie is a teeny tiny little mutt.  One night a big, bad burglar enters his home and when Bertie sounds the alarm the burglar simply laughs and starts picking on the pooch.  Bertie is clever though and ultimately outwits the burglar.  This is a feel good tale of how even the seemingly inadequate can prevail if they tap into their unique gifting – the perfect kind of book for teaching kids that just because they can’t do things the way the world says they should doesn’t mean they are any worse off to do the things God has gifted them to.


A Very Hairy Scary Story

Sarah stayed too late at her friend’s house.  The minute she stepped outside to walk home she was struck with fear of the night and imagines multitudes of terrifying creatures in her midst.  It’s a tale of learning how to obey your parents the hard way isn’t always the best idea but it sure does stick.


The Day the Goose Got Loose

The goose is a family pet.  One day she gets out and causes trouble in every niche of town.  Ultimately it is a tale of imagination and friendship with a rockin’ rhythm and illustrious drawings.


What Made You Want to Go Into Photography?

Yesterday one of my blog friends asked me this question and with my Wednesday Words post coming up the next day I new I had my topic.

What made you want to go into photography?

The short answer is that when I was in high school my mom called out my passion for it and told me I had an eye for it.  But the long answer is way better…

When I was a Freshman in High School my family took a trip out west.  They picked me up from summer youth camp in Laramie, WY and we trekked further west in our gargantuan RV.  We called him Moby, like Moby Dick the great white whale.

We took two main stops:  Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton Mountains.  What I remember from that trip I mostly remember through the pictures I took with my little Canon point and shoot and journaling.  I don’t remember specifics other than that it was a little silver camera.  But that little camera and I captured a lot of beauty on that trip.  After I got pictures printed I remember my mom looking at them and telling me I had an eye for photography and that she saw I really enjoyed it.  Leave it to Mom to point out that I carried that camera everywhere and, unlike most kids, was more interested in photographing life from weird angles with intentional framing than photographing with my friends.

A couple of years later I took the best class I have ever taken, Yearbook, with Mr. McCallum.  McCallum, I hope you are reading this because any time I talk about why I do what I do I always say something about how your class was the most influential class I have ever taken.  It ignited a passion in me and taught me all of the most important tools and tips I use in my writing today.  In this class I mostly learned about how to write a good journalistic story.  He taught us all about “Be verbs” and storytelling.  That year I won a state yearbook award for a piece I did about a local haunted house.  That simple award pushed me to the realization that maybe writing wasn’t just something I loved doing but something I could be good at.  I also shot the pictures for that story so when the end of the year rolled in McCallum asked me to be a part of the editing staff as either a section editor or a photo editor.  I had a choice.  At that point I knew I loved designing layouts, writing, and copy editing as a “job” but I didn’t know if I would like photography as a “job.”  So, for adventure’s sake, I chose the position of photography editor.

The next year, my senior year, I hit the school scene with my camera always at my side.  I attended events of all kinds and relished photographing every event I was assigned to.  I specifically remember feeling so honored being on the sidelines at the football games, bantering with the guys and with my fellow ninja photographer, Eli.  Only a few months into taking photography assignments I knew I was home.  So I dumped out my pile of college information and selected only the schools with at least two or three photography classes.  My mom and I took an extended weekend in the fall of 2006 and toured my midwest choices.  Judson University was the last school of that tour and not only was I completely underwhelmed by the other schools, but Judson captivated me.  I remember specifically loving the quaint campus, the prospect of being close to Chicago, the Ugandan study abroad option, our tour guide Jaimee Bartha, and something far less material.  This school wasn’t my ultimate ideal, I did really want a rigorous photography program and Judson could only give me two photography classes, but I felt the Holy Spirit asking me to trust in Him and commit to this school.  By October of 2006 only a few short weeks after my tour, I was fully enrolled for a double major in Visual Communications with an emphasis in photography and Media Studies with an emphasis in writing.

I continued through my senior year at Buffalo High School soaking up every minute behind my camera and was so engaged in my college credit courses.  But the capstone of my whole year came at the end of the basketball season when our guys not only made it to state for the first time in 80 some years but they won it.  Each of their games Eli and I sported special press passes like all the big shots with their expensive cameras and official jobs.  We sat with them on the sidelines of the Metrodome courts like equals.

In the spring of 2007 I hit the books, or, rather, my sketchbook, hard.  For the first time in my life I gave up sports for school as I quickly discovered the art program would demand all of my energy.  And, just like in high school, I quickly became known as the girl with the camera.

At the end of my four years I graduated with a major in General Art and a minor in Writing.  My senior show was a photographic examination of water (CLICK HERE to see that project).  My plans of graduating with a photography major fell away when I fell in love with Joshua.  I even visited other schools intending on transferring but when he asked me to stay I simply couldn’t deny him.  But I’m glad I did, because I finished at Judson I also fell in love with engaging with photography as art.  I learned I love marrying my passion for biology and art together in fine art photography.

My photography business wove itself neatly, but discreetly into my life.  I started booking random sessions with families and seniors the summer after my freshman year of college as a way to make a few extra bucks.  Again, this idea came from my mom.  The last semester of my senior year at Judson I quit my part-time job at Starbucks and launched “a Sunshine Moment” full time.  I shot my first wedding a few months later at Hotel Baker.  And then the dreaminess of the job died.  That wedding met me head on with every technical difficulty and misstep.  And the rest of the summer on the job gave no respite.  Building a business identity and client base is hard and I dreaded every wedding and session until I arrived on location; however, when I arrived at each shoot I bloomed with excitement and creativity.

I approached the next wedding season, last year, full of apprehension.  I was nervous I would dread every shoot again, especially since I was booked for around 25 weddings and ongoing portrait sessions.  There was no turning back at this point.  But, lo and behold, I hit the photo scene full stride and brimming with confidence.

And now, here I am, working from home and supporting my family with my photography.  I thank God so often for providing me with the means to do the work I am so passionate about, especially right out of school.  a Sunshine Moment certainly was a leap of faith; self-employment and owning a business is not for the faint of faith.  Yet I cherish every moment of it because it is so much easier to see God’s provision and faithfulness without the guarantee of a steady paycheck.  I am also so thankful for His gift of some key people.  If it weren’t for my mom calling out a gift in me and encouraging me to run with it, McCallum giving me a chance to grow and test my passion, and Josh’s continued support and encouragement there is no way I would be here.  Parents and teachers play such a vital role; by encouraging your kids and students into their gifts and passions you grant them the greatest treasure, work they love!

Created to be Creative

I am an artist.  As an artist I show my work at various galleries on occasion and when I do I always encounter a person or two who approaches me in a sort of state of awe.  Not necessarily about my work, but about the work of having created something.  There is a group of people, perhaps even the majority, that think they are not creative.  I’ve also come to understand that this group of people thinks there are two groups of people:  creative and not creative.  I don’t believe that.  The simple truth is that we were created by the Master of Creativity and if we are made in His image, which we are, then we are not only all capable of creativity, but I would assert that we are all called to be creative.

I am not suggesting that everyone go out and buy a camera or pick up a paint brush.  I am suggesting, however, that each of us uses our innate creativity to bring beauty into our every day, ordinary lives.  Such ordinary circumstances like parenting, marriage, your home, your routine, work, dating, and eating are all areas that can, and should, be subjected to your art of creativity.

Creative Parenting

Parenting is often the root of a mommy and daddy’s existence for approximately 18 years.  I am not an ordinary parent, but I do parent two dogs and it is similar in a lot of ways.  I have found each dog to be so different in personality and demeanor, so much so that they require completely different methods of “parenting.”  I go into depth about the differences in discipline and love languages from dog to dog, or Haley to Sam, HERE.

In my case of parenting my dogs I have transformed a simple walk into a field trip to the park buried in the back of the neighborhood.  Here I can let them off the leash to romp about and play fetch.  I have also transformed the art of a “walk” itself on the occasion I strap on my roller blades and let the dogs pull me all around the neighborhood.

In the case of parenting children the same can be done.  It’s all  about transforming the daily, normal activities and making them not only more exciting and tailored to your children but perhaps even more exciting and tailored to you so you can better enjoy that time with them.  You could transform making meals into family collaboration.  In my experience kids love to be a part of the food making process.  Especially if it involves making something sweet 😉  Or maybe you could transform the bedtime routine into a game – make it a timed race, see who can pick out the craziest pajamas, cleanest teeth contest, etc.

Creating a Creative Marriage

I am married.  Josh and I have discovered that we do best when we customize the way we love to make our counterpart feel it to the full.  I’ve found that the days I’m feeling entitled to being loved a certain way by him are actually the days it is best to focus that attention outward and go out of my way to love on him.  A great way to get started in creatively and intentionally loving your spouse is by picking up Love Dare at your library or buy it (so you can mark it all up).  A less creative although very important way to create a creative marriage is by building each other up in some basic needs like prayer, going to church, dreaming together, budgeting together and MORE.  Once those basic needs are taken care of and you not only have your heart set in the right place but by going to God with your problems you will often find suddenly a creative solution is placed before you and by doing these simple things together you will find you are suddenly inspired to love more and to love better.

Creativity in your Home Space

A home is your habitat.  It is the place that is perhaps the only place you can call your own.

In nature I see so many intentional home builders.  Some male birds build nests to impress the lady they have their eye on, bees build a crazy awesome infrastructure of cubbies, beavers build dams with paramount precision, ants build ridiculously ornate infrastructures of pathways and niches, male clown fish have the job of picking out the prettiest available anemone for their mate and babies to live safely, and that’s just the cherry on the giant, seemingly infinite, sundae of creative home spaces within nature!

So, then, why is it that people often completely neglect the aesthetics of their home?  Now, wives, please to do not bring my article to you hubby and declare, “see, we do need that China hutch I’ve been eyeing!”  No, but I do advocate setting a budget to fix up the place and make any necessary purchases to bring your home to life.  And, more than that, I recommend getting creative with what you already have and see if you can’t repurpose or refurbish things you already own. I just recently finished my own Remaking Home project to infuse creativity within my home space so if you want some inspiration or motivation CLICK HERE to read more about that 🙂

Creativity in your Routine

I once read somewhere that to inspire creativity one of the best places to start is your daily routine.  I am a creature of habit in so many ways so I understand those of you who feel hesitant to give this a try.  However, I have found that with an appropriate ratio of structure and flux my needs to keep a sense of balance and inspire creativity are both met thoroughly.  For example, I set aside Mondays and Thursdays aside for a Sunshine Moment business matters and photo editing; on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I attend to business and blogging in the morning and then I devote the rest of my day to writing, homesteading, researching, or any number of other creative adventures I want to commit to (my areas of flux); Saturdays are reserved for booking shoots and more a Sunshine Moment; and Sundays I maintain as my Sabbath (another area of wonderful flux) and I never miss church unless I absolutely can’t help it.  So there, now you are all too well-informed about my daily work life 🙂

Creative Dating

Josh and I have found that our best memories are of times when we did something a little outside the box or used our money in a creative way.  Maybe there’s a free concert in the park, or maybe you want to go get ice cream, or maybe you can go on a picnic.  Get out and have some fun or stay in and invent a new activity.  The standard dinner and a movie date is particularly rockin’ when you don’t do it all the time 🙂

Creative Eating

This one is simple.  We eat every day.  Those of us that have a passion for food this is your area to get creative!  Spice up your salad, soup, sandwich, or otherwise sumptuous meal with a pop of color, a prop, placement, or presentation 🙂

These, of course, are just a few ways to spice up your life with a little creativity.  There are so many other areas of life that you can concentrate on and make them special.  I know you will find some amazing fruits out of the extra “labor” you put in!