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Welcome to my blog! You'll find my life, both professional and personal, documented here in the form of photographs and short quippy paragraphs.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kids say the darndest things...

Julian was looking over my shoulder one day while I was editing this photo and came to this decision.
"Mom, I don't ever want to get married."
"Why not Julian?"
"Because they have to pin a flower on you and that would hurt."  (Not sure why he thinks it would go through his skin.)
Stephen heard about this and told him he found a woman that was worth the pain of having a flower pinned to him.  

I'm going to Texas with Maggie Lu and D'arcy this coming week.  D'arcy was kind of waving this fact in Julian's face.
Julian says, "I don't even care."
D'arcy says, "Aren't you going to miss mommy?"
Julian, "Yeah, but this will be my first time just chilling with the boys."

On another radom not on the way to the Super Bowl Village downtown today D'arcy pointed out a black car and said "That must be the paparazzi."  Julian follows it up with yelling, "I hate mosquitos!"

I'm not always the best mom.

I mentioned in my previous post that I would share a story to make plain the fact that I'm not always the best ______.  Feel free to insert wife, mom, house manager, photographer, friend, daughter, sister, etc, etc, etc, etc.  I typed this story out the day it happened and ended up deleting it for fear of my defects being public and for fear that people would not appreciate me making light of my mistakes.  And although, I do think the situation I'm about to share could have turned into something horrible, it didn't.  And, in hindsight, it's kind of funny (in a scary, self deprecating kind of way).  So here goes.

My sister-in-law and I took our babies one morning to the central library downtown.  We had a nice time.  We made our way to leave around noon.  There is a lady who sits at a desk by the elevator who noticed our little ones and said hello.  We took the elevator one floor down to the parking garage. I was letting Maggie walk on her own.  She's a confident walker.  We all walk out of the elevator (I'm confident she was right beside me) and immediately start messing with paying our parking tickets at the machine in the "elevator lobby".  At some point, Emily asks "Where's Maggie?"  The elevator lobby was enclosed and we were alone so I was sure she was just at our feet.  I look down, turn around, but I don't see her.  I ran out the lobby doors into the parking garage and call her name.  I didn't see her and plus she can't open doors by herself.  Then I'm realizing the only place she could be was on the elevator.  I push the button.  The door opens and a man with a stroller is standing in the elevator.  I ask him if he has seen a little girl.  He says, "Yes, she's upstairs with the lady at the desk."  He jumps out.  I jump in.  The elevator goes down.   UUUgggghhhh!  A couple gets in.  We go back up.  The couple gets out.  Emily asks if I found her yet.  "No."  I go up.  The door opens.  There is the desk lady and a smiling Maggie Lu.  She seems pleased to have taken her first solo elevator ride.  I kind of explain what happened.  One of the ladies at the desk gives me a "that happens sometimes" look and the other lady gives me a "I was about to call CPS" look.  One look was deserved the other was appreciated.

I'm not always the best mom.

Inspiration 2012: Blogging

My friend Julia suggested I check out this blog.  So this morning I woke up before every one else at 7:45 and pulled my ipad (thanks mom and dad!) into bed with me to give it a look.  Her most recent post was titled "Dealing with Criticism".  Unlike her, I don't have a gazillion people reading my blog and making comments so I don't really get a lot of criticism.  My sister told me once that I sounded a little "know-it-all-ish" at times.  The point was taken (stay tuned for a blog that will solidify in your mind that I am not the best _______ ).   What was most inspiring about this post and applicable to me was the four little rules she came up with regarding blogging.  Here they are.

  • It’s your blog.
  • Be who you are. That is enough.
  • Try to give the good feedback as much weight as the bad.
  • Do all things with love.
A facebook friend asked if anyone had any advice in regards to her starting a blog.  Her first comment was "have something interesting to say".  Yikes!  See the first rule.  

I really enjoy blogging which is the only reason why I have sustained it at this level for this length of time.  It pleases me when I hear other people read what I have to say, and I have to admit, I wouldn't be as devoted if I wasn't receiving some response.  Primarily, blogging has fulfilled my long time desire to journal, and I get the most joy when I go back and have a chance to reminisce. 

And in regards to the blog, be warned of possible addiction and the desire for perfect stuff which could lead to inspiration or discontent.   

I love your style.

Julian likes what is comfy.  He much prefers T-shirts with Star Wars or Superheroes over ones with stripes.  He likes a good pair of boots, cowboy or winter are acceptable.
It isn't uncommon for me to ask D'arcy to edit her look (think Tim Gunn from Project Runway), but I couldn't ask her to take this off.
Stephen has become a layers man.  His corduroy jacket is from urban outfitters and was inspired by a 70's suit jacket that was given to him by a friend of ours from Texas. That one had this spot on the back which I tried to get out but made worse.  He didn't mind the spot so much, but I interceded on his behalf.
D'arcy wears this or her hand me down flower girl dress every Sunday to church.  She has always preferred dresses.  She would have no problem wearing red tights and high heeled shoes in the dead of winter but these boots represent her more practical side.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just Dance

So I stopped drinking Mountain Dew almost a month ago. Here are the changes I've noticed. I pee more often. My teeth don't feel as dirty. That's it.

To my chagrin, I did not lose any noticeable weight. Remember when I told you that after D'arcy was born I gave up Mountain Dew and lost a considerable amount of weight in just two months? Well, I was realizing that I also did the core Weight Watchers Diet which meant I only ate no or low fat items, lean meets, and whole grains. Plus I was breastfeeding for twenty minutes every three hours.

So I didn't lose weight, and I'm at this weight that gives me determination. Whenever I hit this size, my pants are getting tight and I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. It's a feeling that wakes me up and drives me to take drastic exercising.

I have this mental hang up with exercising. Shouldn't physical activity be this natural occurrence in life? Why do we drive everywhere and take the elevator and then spend a bunch of time every day hanging out in a gym? When did this concept of walking in place or biking in place two miles come about? Probably the same year that Little Debbie Snacks were invented.

With that being said, It's important to me to find a way of exercising that I enjoy and can keep up. I don't want to start something that is both boring and painful and time consuming. So, I've decided to use my wii and do Wii Dance each day. They have a sweat option and will roughly calculate how many sweat points you earn with each song. I'm taking the 1000 sweat point option. Sweat points don't correlate to any actual calorie amount...

If I do Wii Dance everyday for a month (give or take a day or two), I'll give myself permission to purchase one of the other versions as these songs will eventually get on my nerves. I've done it for a week and have already noticed some changes.

Why do you care? I'm not sure, but my friend Carrie has been recording her goals recently and she has inspired me. If my goals are lame, go visit her blog here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some of my favorite (wedding) photos of 2011!

I really love to photograph weddings.  I'm probably never going to sign up for one every weekend, but I could totally go for one a month.  Here are some of my favorite shots from my 2011 weddings.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A few of my favorite (client) photos from 2011!

Thanks to Alyssa Anne Photography for the idea of putting together a list of my favorite photos from 2011.  It gives me another opportunity to reflect on 2011 and also to show you the kind of photos that I love and want to take.  In 2011, I had sixty five photo sessions and seven weddings.  This translates to working at maximum capacity for this mama which is a challenge and a blessing.  Thanks as always to my husband for giving me a break from being mama so I can just be Melissa for a bit.  Without further ado, here they are with a little description of why I like them.  

Love that you can see that little girl kicking right by mommy's hand!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Let's be clear, you are entitled to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

If you've been reading my blog very long, you'll know that I have had three of my babies at home. I'm not interested in convincing anybody to hire a midwife and birth from home instead of a hospital. The location of birth is unimportant. I'm not anti-induction or anti-cesarean. I have a respect that these interventions can save lives. I'm not even anti-epidural. However, I strongly believe that a woman's body is well made for birth, that home birth is a valid, safe option for healthy woman experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy, and that we have a bad habit of intervening unnecessarily. I hope to always share information from credible sources that promote these beliefs.

I'm particularly invested in promoting the idea that normal pregnancy typically lasts 37-42 weeks. Although we know that to be true, women (including myself) are prepared to host a child for only 37-40 weeks. Due dates are no longer a median date for the babies birth, but instead are the last day that a woman is willing to be pregnant. The perpetuation of this new normal has personally brought me a lot of grief. With every pregnancy I have found myself working extremely hard to get past this current trend and embrace the scientific truth. Since we learn so much of what to expect from other women's experiences, it has been helpful for me to get to know other moms who have made similar decisions to refuse induction and wait for labor to start (mostly) spontaneously. My experiences don't seem as uncommon when compared with theirs.

Here are a few articles that I wanted to share in regards to this topic.

I just realized that this is my second blog post in a row about babies or childbirth. I might be giving the wrong impression, but just to clear it up, I'm not pregnant.

An NPR article that suggests Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait .

A USA Today article that suggests home births can be just as safe as hospital ones.

A personal story from an OB who chose homebirth.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I went to a baby shower today which explains the content of this blog.

As soon as Maggie turned one, D'arcy declared that it was time for us to have another baby. If it was up to her we would end up with 10 kids and counting. I don't know exactly when we came up with the number five, but at some point that's the number that stuck. It's enough kids to give us this big not quite perfectly balanced family. We have to break this girls and boys tie. It's small enough that we can drive a regular mini van and not lose our minds. Each kid is not just one more mouth to feed but another heart to shepherd. I definitely felt overwhelmed with four, but we went from three to four so quickly. That fifth kid is already in our hearts and we needed to make room for him or her in our lives. Now that Maggie is becoming a big kid, I can see space becoming available for our finale. Now I'm just waiting for Mary Neukam's house to sell. That's when she is free to get pregnant. We've had our last three kids in the same month. Why stop now?

I've noticed that it's become popular for parents to keep their babies name secret. They announce the gender but don't disclose the name. I think 8 out of 10 friends who have delivered in the last year have done this. Maybe it's to protect the name from being made fun of or maybe it's just fun to have something just between mom and dad. Stephen and I have never been able to do this. We can't keep a secret for very long. So in planning for baby 5 I've decided we should do the following. We are going to have the doctor put the gender in an envelope that we won't look at. Then anyone who comes to the house must look in the envelope but not tell us. We will tell our pastor at church to announce it to the congregation. We'll step out for a minute so we don't hear anything. He'll instruct everyone to keep it a secret from us but not to be afraid to mess with our heads a bit.

That's all on this subject until Mary's house sells.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh, January, how I love you.

It's almost embarrassing to admit that I have this tiny photography business. How cliché. I'm a stay-a-home mom with a photography business. Who isn't? Photography is as popular these days as baby hair bows and blogging. I do that too. No, not the baby hair bows.

January is sweeping in though and saving me from melancholy thoughts like these. I love that the coldest month of the year, when the sun shines the least, and depression could flourish is saved by the fact that it is the first of a new year. And a new year brings, for me, the ability to reflect and dream. The fact that it is typically filled with below freezing temperatures gives us all an excuse to pause our busy lives.

I've sort of paused mine. I'm not taking clients in January. I'm not painting any rooms. I'm not shopping or spending money. I'm simply tying up loose ends from last year, and thinking about what I want for 2012. I'm working on my website which needs a touch of something new. Thanks as always to my beloved geek who helps me out. I'm rethinking how many clients I want to take each month, and how much I want to charge. Prices for weddings booked in 2013 will go up a bit. Don't worry, a six hour wedding will still cost less than a $1000.

I'm also pondering what I want to study in my bible. I think I'm going to read all about Saul and David and about David beyond Saul. I'm coming up with a word I want to focus on for 2012. My word for 2011 was peace. I was hoping to have insight on how to have a peaceful home with four kids seven and under. I feel like I gained some insight and now I need to live it out. This year, I'm going to focus on the word inspire. My hope is to be inspired by others; other moms, other families, other christians, other photographers, other bloggers, other women. I don't want to copy or imitate, I just want to see others doing awesome things and leave with vision of how I can do awesome things. I'm surrounded by people doing awesome things. My mom is living through cancer with grace and poise. My sister is surviving twins with grace and poise. My small group, my church peeps, my MOPS friends, my neighbors, my husband are all doing awesome stuff. Hopefully their awesomeness will inspire awesomeness from me which will inspire...

Don't call me corny.

I'm rethinking priorities and budgets and time management. I started making these little rules for myself to help allieviate some minor household issues. For example, I'm not allowing myself to watch TV at my desk anymore (on HULU). I tell myself it helps me edit faster, but then I just get holed up at my desk watching my kids walk from one room to the next. I can still watch some TV but at least I have my hands available to pick Maggie Lu up and hug her. I also made the rule that I have to decide what we are going to eat for dinner when I'm getting breakfast for myself. That way I'm not deciding at 5:30 when I feel exhausted from the day. This has helped us reduce the amount of trips to Wendy's.

I'm also not drinking Mountain Dew which of course you already know about. So far, so good. Two days of caffeine deprivation syndrome wasn't bad. I miss the shot of sugar the most at 5:30pm and 10pm.

Here's to 2012, everyone! Happy New Year!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Melissa + Joy : SATURATED | December Gold

This is the last of our Saturated series this year. I so loved working on this. I felt like it helped me keep in touch with my great friend and pushed me to expand my subject matter. Here is our Gold bokeh style.

Christmas with the Clarks

I have no stabbing stories to tell you about my side of the family.  But I can tell you that my siblings have been fruitful and the grandkid total has increased from 5 to 8 (not including the triplets who we sadly never got to spend Christmas with).  Therefore, the stocking total increased as well.  That's the reason I focused my lens on the stockings instead of the grandkids in this first picture.  It had nothing to do with it being early and my brain not working.  Welcome Tessa, Eowyn, and Rogi to the fold.