the hardest and the easiest thing i’ve ever done…

Before our little guy arrived last spring, we knew that we had a fairly good idea of what to expect with bringing home a newborn.  We had done it before only two years earlier with our little girl, Ensley.  Our life had already been changed immensely when we became a family of three and all of the thoughts and fears of becoming parents again were accompanied by that little bit of confidence that second-time parents get to have.  Instead, my thoughts were more often consumed with what our little girl was going to think about becoming a big sister.  We were almost laid-back about the whole “newborn thing” when I think about it… not worrying about barely finishing the nursery in time (this time we knew that we’d barely use that room until the baby got older), we didn’t have a closet all full of clothes for his first year, we didn’t have a name all picked out and ready to go, and all of that anxious anticipation that comes along with the first was there… but just overshadowed by the day-to-day life of chasing around our adventurous 2-year old.  Everyone reminded me how awesome it was to be making an addition to our family and not to worry, that the intense love that I felt for our little girl would just grow to include our new baby too.  It felt impossible to imagine our life as a family of four – but even still, as a mom, I felt pretty ready. 9A3A9671-3

Over the past year I’ve realized that becoming a mommy of two has been the hardest and the easiest thing I’ve ever done.  Of course I learned that I wasn’t as ready as I thought – you probably saw that thought coming, huh?  I was ready for things like knowing how many diapers we’d need and how little sleep we’d be getting, but I wasn’t ready for what going from one baby to two would do to my heart.

We went from holding on to everything “little” about our 2-year old to suddenly asking her to be a big girl.  Overnight she became a big sister who had to share mommy and daddy’s time, her house, her toys… her world was turned upside down, and it was hard.  So hard on her, and hard on us too.  I’ll never forget how my heart broke during those first few nights home when she would lay on my legs while I was feeding her new brother, sobbing because she wanted me to be holding her instead.  As I did everything I could do to hold her at the same time too, it wasn’t the same and she knew it.  I knew it too, and through my own tears I kept telling myself that this would only last for a little while.  Before long her and her new brother would be best buddies and these tough moments would be distant memories.WEBMJJ14-193

Well, now they are.  These hard-to-think-about memories are now replaced with the look of pride that Ensley gets on her face when she’s the one who makes her little brother smile or giggle from his toes.  Now I can instead think about our mornings, all three of us snuggled together on the couch while the kids enjoy their morning popsicle (don’t judge me, haha).  I think about Ensley saying “don’t worry bubby, we would never leave youuuu” as she squishes his chubby little cheeks in her hands, mimicking what I would do when Landry is sad about us walking out of the room.  I think about how she now instinctively says “shhh shhhh” to him if he’s fussing while I’m in the shower, or how she quickly sings her own speedy version of “open shut them” if Landry falls and is sad about bumping his head.

I knew the hard part wouldn’t last forever, but boy am I ever glad that our new normal is finally here.  My heart feels mushy just thinking about adjusting to the life with two kids that I love so much now.  Motherhood is tough, but like all moms will tell you – it’s the best job in the world.  It’s the kind of job that makes you feel absolutely helpless at some points in the day, hoping that your kids will never remember just how upset they were about not being able to have a bowl of ice cream before breakfast, and then you can feel like the best mom in the world later in the day when the kids are both happy, full, and rested – laughing together playing in the pretend kitchen.  It’s the hardest and the easiest thing I’ve ever done.WEBMJJ14-396

I love that we are the age that we’re at and have the amazing opportunity to start our families at the same time as many of our friends.  There’s nothing better than watching your friends experience becoming parents themselves when you already know just how much it will change their lives for the better.  A friend asked me “how is it having TWO kids now?”  After giving my best explanation – being totally honest about the really hard times, but not wanting to leave out the really great times – she said… “so you just do it, right?”  And I’ve thought about that so many times since then.  She was absolutely right.  You just do it.  Life goes on and you have great moments as a parent, not so great moments, you worry, you cry, you smile, you praise, and you just love them as much as you possibly can.  At the end of the day (okay, probably more like end of the week), on that off-chance that both kids are sleeping at the same time and you’re the one awake, you start to think… I’m doing this.  All of this time has passed, far too quickly I might add, and you’ve been doing it all along.  All of the worrying about making sure that both kids are happy and healthy has turned into these unforgettable memories.  It was hard in the moment – very hard at times, but looking back on the months that have passed, it feels easy now.  Ensley’s crying about me feeding her new brother turned into her yelling “feed him, mama!” when she sensed that his fussing might mean that he’s hungry.  Learning to be okay with letting go of some of the things that made Ensley seem so young still has allowed me to embrace the big girl that she’s becoming and share in her pride when she gets dressed all by herself.  Any thoughts about how my heart could possibly ever love another baby just as much as I did Ensley were quickly met with this very familiar, totally overpowering emotion that only a mom can understand.  After it all, my thoughts come back to this…9A3A2881

Loving them more than you could ever put into words is the easy part… and loving them more than you could ever put into words is the hardest part.

 

the studio… it’s still there!

This past year has meant a lot of changes for the building at 144 Merchant Row in Milton – the building where the Don’t Blink Photography studio is located.  A change of tenants and construction improvements have breathed new life into the building and now you can often find the space buzzing with people eager to get their morning treat from the bakery (http://www.fullhousebakery.com), picking up their evening dinner from Paul Revere’s Pizza, or checking out the latest crafts at Cranberry Cottage.  All of the recent changes have had quite a few people asking me… where is your studio now?!?  The answer… in the same building, just down the hall :)

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In order to fill the spaces that best fit all of our tenant needs, Don’t Blink Photography just moved into a different space right down the hall.  We still have our logo on the window, but without the storefront I know that it had a few people confused.  I’m still there!  And I still use the studio for most all of the same purposes as before.  Here’s what they are…

As most people know I’m a natural light photographer.  This means that instead of using studio lighting and equipment to achieve the lighting that I need for sessions, I shoot outdoors or in areas indoors that have enough available light that extra equipment isn’t necessary.  The reasons why being that I prefer the look of natural lighting in photos, my skillset better matches this type of photography, and also because a lot of my work involves chasing little ones around :)  We all know that it’s much easier for a two-year-old to play outside and get their picture taken rather than being asked to sit in a little space!  Even with this being said, there are a few situations that require the studio lighting to achieve the desired final product, and these are:  high school senior headshot photos for the yearbook, and professional headshots.  I use the studio throughout the year to enhance my senior sessions by offering headshot photos and then also have the chance to take professional headshot images for local business people to use for their business cards, advertising, campaigns, etc.  The studio is also a great spot for me to meet with clients about upcoming sessions or weddings, and a space where I can show clients product samples or meet them to deliver print or product orders.  There are lots of times when the space comes in handy for Don’t Blink Photography, but I just don’t do my lifestyle portrait sessions there.

I’m also proud to be an approved vendor for http://www.theorganicbloom.com.  If you haven’t checked out their unique frames yet – you have to visit the site!  If they look familiar, you might’ve seen these frames used in the Extreme Home Makeover houses that Ty Pennington designed!  They can make an awesome addition to your home decorating and come in tons of color choices (see photo below!).  I also showcase canvases in the studio, which are also available through Don’t Blink and also professional print samples!

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Happy Friday!

♥ Erin

winter wedding

The winter months are typically a little slower when it comes to wedding photography.  I was so excited when Stephanie and John asked me to take pictures at their December 28th wedding this past month!  There is just something so magical and cozy about a winter wedding, and this event proves it!  Taking place at the Barn at Harvest Moon Pond in Poynette, WI – this gorgeous wedding carried the spirit of Christmas through an event that was both elegant and festive at the same time.  Guests were greeted by a warm, crackling fieplace, holiday lights, and even mistletoe as they made their way up to the loft of the barn for the dimly lit, romantic ceremony.  The dinner and party that followed were also rustic and fitting with the scene, as children could visit the hot chocolate bar or adult guests could sample the bride and groom’s favorite mixed drinks.  Thank you to Stephanie and John for letting Don’t Blink Photography be a part of your special day!

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happy days

I knew this would happen.  That I’d be coming back to the blog after months (… and months!) of putting it on the back burner, feeling guilty for not writing more.  I just re-read my latests posts and realized that not only have I not posted the majority of the 2012 or 2013 photography season, but my last personal post was when my little girl was only four months old.  Dang.  There are so many things that I’ve missed writing about on here!  I love being able to blog for a couple of main reasons.  One being that I can share lots of pictures and some backstory on the amazing clients that I’ve had the chance to take pictures for over the months.  Also, on the personal side that I have a means of sharing a few of my thoughts and feelings on being a new mom.  Wait… can I even call myself a “new mom” anymore?!?  Believe it or not my thoughts lately have been on how I feel about being a mommy to an almost TWO YEAR OLD!  Ahhh, the words just don’t even seem right as I’m typing them.

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There are so many feelings that come with those momentous first couple birthdays.  Of course I have lots of people ask and say “can you believe it’s been two years already?”  Absolutely not.  I actually have a hard time thinking about it too much, because I’m sure that I’m on the verge of a nostalgic breakdown, realizing that my baby is hardly a baby anymore.  It’s becoming more obvious every single day.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just looked at Ensley in amazement lately when she remembers something that I never thought she would, or when her little feet pitter patter around our house like she’s always known how to run!  She’s witty and funny and I feel like she’s our little sidekick, just happy to be doing whatever it is that we are at the moment.  I can’t imagine our life without her now and can’t believe how she makes the ordinary, everyday things like sweeping the kitchen, folding clothes, or putting away groceries so much more enjoyable.  Just the other day after an epic trip to the grocery store, I started putting away groceries and had to stop and chuckle at the scene in our kitchen.  She’d emptied almost every bag onto the floor and had out three different popsicles, two ice cream cups, and the trail mix – she couldn’t wait to try them all!  You might be thinking, “oh what a mess!,” but I couldn’t help but look at that little girl with ice cream all over her cheeks and think about how boring life would seem without her in it.  I’d take a messy kitchen floor full of groceries to be put away any day to have the times with her like this one where we can sit on the floor and giggle together.

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I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how lucky we are that Ensley gets to be a big sister this spring!  We’re looking so forward to welcoming a little boy into our family in early March!  Lately I’ve been daydreaming about how fortunate we are to get to be parents again and how I can’t wait for all of these family memories to include our little guy too!

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So I guess that what I’m trying to say is… life is good.  It’s been so good and so full of happy days that blogging fell to the wayside.  Not a bad problem to have, I know, but I’d love to get back to sharing!  So, thanks for stopping by – for reading this post – and I’ll look forward to updating you throughout the months with all of the happenings that are going on and memories that we’re busy creating at Don’t Blink Photography!  Happy New Year!

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some things i’ve learned…

Today is the four-month mark since Ensley has been here. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and every day is better than the last. Even though I often wonder where on earth my little newborn has gone, it’s so much fun to see our little girl learn new things each and every day. I was actually thinking this past week how much I’VE learned in the last four months too. I’m certainly not the same person that I was before becoming a new mommy, and I know that this experience has changed me for the better. On May 23rd it had been exactly one year since finding out that we were pregnant and that our world would change forever. Looking back, I thought about how much I had yet to learn as a soon-to-be, first-time parent. Even though life seemed “different” to me the moment I found out that I was going to have a baby, I just can’t hardly imagine now how we ever lived without her. Here are just a few of the things that I’ve learned since our beautiful little girl stole our hearts…

It sounds cliche, but time goes too fast.

I know that I’ve blogged about this topic before. I remember back to days where I was working my full-time marketing job in the middle of the busiest fall photography time, and I’d be up until 2AM sometimes working on editing, only to wake up at 5:30 AM to start all over again. Of course I thought to myself then that there just wasn’t enough time in the day and that the hours just flew by too fast. Well that was nothing compared to how quickly the time goes by for me now. Most adults, and especially my dad, had always talked about how they couldn’t believe that the day was over with, that the week had just flown by, or how the years passed so quickly. Well, now I get it. I’m not sure what it is about having a kid, but I swear that it pushes the fast-forward button on life. It’s Monday and then the next time that I sit down and think about things, it’s Friday! Of course there have been times where I’d welcome the speedy days, weeks, and even months – but not now! I’m savoring every moment that I have with my new baby and I just wish it would all slow down.

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Becoming a parent changes EVERYTHING.

You’re probably thinking that of course this statement is true… but as a new parent, I can’t believe just how much having a little girl has changed the way that I look at the world. It started when I was just newly pregnant at the beginning of last summer. I would fret over just about anything – breathing the air in a nail salon, standing near people who were smoking, being too close to loud noises. I didn’t want anything to affect my baby, and the thoughts were always in the back of my mind. Now that she’s here it’s even worse. I think about all of the crazy things happening in our world, and I just want to keep her safe from all of it. I’ve seriously considered if I would someday ever be able to let her stay overnight at a friend’s house, get her ears pierced, or study abroad in college. Right now I say no way to all of it! I know, I know… I’ll have to let her have her own experiences, but my point is just that the world is such a scary place sometimes and I’m just not sure if I’ll be ready to ever let her out of my sight :)

Our house is too small. And it will never stay clean like it used to be.

When it was just Mitch and I, we loved our house. It was perfect for the two of us and our dog, Mya. It wasn’t too big where it took forever to clean, but it wasn’t too small where we felt cooped up inside. Well we soon learned that someone as tiny as our little baby could take up the most room! From the playpen to the bouncer seat to the changing table – our little house filled up fast. Our small place doesn’t make it easy when it comes to bed time either. A little back story on this is that Ensley is such a light sleeper! From the moment that she was here, the quietest sounds can startle her from what you think is a deep sleep to being awake. Many people told me about how they used to do everything from vacuuming to turning the TV up as loud as they could to get their baby used to sleeping through sounds. Not our little Ensley. So, once she’s “down for the night” we have a rule in our house that we don’t even flush the toilets anymore! Those precious hours of sleep used to be pretty hard to come by, and we’ll do anything we can to let her keep those beautiful eyes closed! Even though the house seems small, and it’s a far cry from that magazine-looking home that I used to think I wanted… it’s okay with us. This is the house where we brought our little girl home to, and I’m starting to like that “lived-in” look anyway.

Taking a shower is like going to the spa.

This might be a unanimous consensus between new moms, but there is just nothing more relaxing than taking a hot shower. It’s the closest thing to going to the spa. Especially after a night of waking up every few hours for feedings, and after you’re just too tired to get up and change your shirt after being spit-up on a time or two… nothing compares to a hot shower.

Every age is my favorite age.

Before Ensley was born, I often thought about what baby age was my favorite. At first, I was so excited to have a squishy, sleepy little newborn to hold because I was sure that this would be my favorite age. Then, I was so excited to have an alert and just-starting-to-smile one month old, and that became my new favorite age. Then, I had this sweet and cuddly little two and three month old and I changed my mind again. And now I have a giggling, toe-grabbing four month old, and right now I’m sure this is my favorite! I certainly can’t make up my mind on what baby age is my favorite, but I do know one thing for sure… I love it all. Every stage and every age becomes my new favorite.

There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my little girl smile.

I know that seeing a baby smile is heartwarming, no matter who the baby is. But I just can’t even begin to describe how genuinely happy it makes me to see Ensley happy. Every little smile just completely melts my heart. I’m sure that all parents can agree with me that there’s just something about your own baby showing you that gummy little grin that makes everything in the world seem right.

I still like to hold her when she’s napping (even if it’s for hours)… and that’s okay.

When Ensley was brand new, I hardly slept at all because I wanted to hold her and just stare in wonder at how beautiful she is. Putting her down to sleep has always been hard for me, just simply because I’d rather be holding her. As she’s started getting older and life has returned more towards normal, I’ve tried laying her in her bouncer seat or on the couch to nap because I thought that I needed to get to the point where I could function as a mom and still get things done. Well, I’ve decided that sometimes this is true, but most of the time it’s more fun to enjoy this little baby that we are so lucky to have, and I’m completely okay with that. I know that I still need to answer my emails and pay the bills, but these things just aren’t quite as important as cuddle time. I’ve come to realize that being a good mom doesn’t mean that you have to keep up with your life in exactly the same way that you would’ve before. Nothing about your life is like it was before, and being a good mom can be enjoying the new most important thing in your whole world. Even if that means getting absolutely nothing done and hanging out in the recliner all afternoon for a marathon napping session.

There is no right answer. Do whatever works.

Something that I had to learn as a new mommy is that there is no “normal” when it comes to having a baby. Every baby is so different, and every parenting experience is so different too. I remember that in those first weeks I used to wonder how on earth I would ever go back to being able to pick up the house again or take a shower, let alone do some work while I was at home. Part of my worry was that I never wanted to stop holding her, and the other part was that she didn’t want me to stop holding her either! I knew that things would get easier as our lives started to fall into a routine. A great example of this “whatever works” strategy is our morning naps. Although in the first month I probably never showered before 3PM, I started to realize that I wanted to “get ready” for the day. After a couple different tries, we found out that Ensley would nap in the bathroom, in her bouncer seat, with the fan, shower, and hair dryer going… all while I took a shower! It was like magic! She actually is still taking this morning snooze in the bathroom almost every day. The best part is that with all of the noises that put her to sleep, I can even wash the dishes without waking her up!

This is why everything turned out the way it did.

Throughout my life I’ve often looked back on the way that things have turned out and wondered how differently everything could be if I had just made one different decision. In most cases I look back and think about how lucky I am that it all went the way it did.  What if I hadn’t said yes to “going out” with Mitch that spring day of our freshman year? What if I had taken a job in a different state? What if we would’ve waited another five years to have a baby? I almost don’t even like thinking about how everything could’ve turned out because that would mean that it wouldn’t be exactly how it is right now. From the very moment that we saw Ensley for the first time, I knew that this was right. For all of the times that I had questioned my decisions, our new baby reassured me ten times over that life happened the way it was supposed to.

I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.

To be fair, there were probably lots of days last summer when I questioned what on earth I was thinking when we decided to have a baby. The sickest I’d ever been in my entire life, for about four months I couldn’t decide if I wanted to camp out in the bathroom forever or just pull the covers up in my bed and sleep for about 10 years because I was so exhausted. It was rough! I specifically remember one day in particular when I called my mom, bawling, because I wasn’t sure if it was okay that I was THIS sick! She kept telling me that it would all be worth it in the end. I remember her saying that there were moms out there who were this sick for the whole nine months and then they would turn around and get pregnant again! I couldn’t believe it… but now I understand. The moment that you get to see your sweet little baby, everything else becomes a distant memory. It’s true what everyone says – it’s all SO worth it in the end. Even though right now I can’t hardly imagine sharing my heart with another baby, someday I know that we would feel so blessed if we had the opportunity to be parents again. Everything about this is everything that I ever wanted, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, especially now that I know how the story ends.

love is in the air

It was a warm spring day when I had the opportunity to take pictures for Matt and Kaitlin’s engagement session in Madison.  Planning an October 2012 wedding, it’s obvious that these two are head over heels!  Enjoy these photos and I can’t wait to post pictures from their big day later this fall.



 

baby bump

Maternity sessions took on a whole new meaning for me this spring, as I now have a little one of my own.  It was so much fun taking photos for Falicia and Justin… and their baby-to-be.  Such a happy time in their life, it was fun to capture these moments for them, especially because I know all to well how quickly this time goes by.  As I’m posting this, their little girl is now here!  I can’t wait to share photos from their newborn session as well!


minnesota love

I was so honored to be the engagement photographer for these two love birds this spring.  This gorgeous bride-to-be is a friend of mine from back in first grade!  When life took her to Minnesota, she met the man of her dreams and they started their own “happily ever after.”  Congrats to Kelli and James!

spring seniors

Not only is the high school senior in this post absolutely stunning, but she also happens to be my cousin-in-law :)  Congratulations to Cassie on her last year of school before her next big adventure!  We had so much fun shooting on this overcast day (my favorite weather for sessions!) in Madison.  Spring had just started turning the world green again, and one of our favorite parts were all of the gorgeous flowers that were starting to fill up the trees in the neighborhood where we held our session.  Enjoy!


giggles

I found out last week that there’s no sweeter sound in the entire world then hearing your baby laugh for the first time.  It’s so sweet and innocent and amazing all at the same time, that it brings happy tears to your eyes before you can even realize what is going on.  It’s a moment that you’d just like to hit replay on a million times whenever you want to.  Luckily, once that first little laugh comes out there are many more to look forward to – but there’s just nothing like that very first time.  It’s so reassuring to know that your baby is truly happy, and I’ll never forget those first giggles…

We had known for a couple weeks that we were going to hear those little giggles soon.  We were to the point where sometimes Ensley would smile so hard that it just seemed like a sound was the only thing that she could do to show that she were any happier.  Looking at herself in the mirror seemed to be her favorite, and when we would get all excited and say something along the lines of “…mommy is going to give you kisses…” and then nuzzle into her little neck, she would smile and even squeal with excitement.  We thought for sure that this would probably be how we’d hear that sweet sound the first time.

Last week after her bath, Mitch laid her on the floor in the living room to put her jammies on and talked with her as she cooed and listened intently to all of the sounds and words he was saying to her.  She’s always such a sweetie, but even more so when she’s all relaxed and content after her bath.  Before long their conversation turned to “daddy’s going to give you kisses…” and in that excited voice Mitch would lean over and nuzzle into her little cheeks and give her kisses.  I’m not sure if it were the great mood she was in, or the fact that she just loves everything about her daddy talking to her, but then we heard it.  A sweet little giggle came out, and Ensley just looked up at us and smiled just like nothing new had happened, waiting for the next kisses.  Mitch and I looked at each other like we couldn’t believe what our ears just heard.  It made our hearts so happy.  I reveled in the moment for a minute and then grabbed my phone to try and record what was happening, knowing that I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone so that they could hear just how sweet it really was.  Once my camera was rolling, she was done with the giggling for the night – but that was okay.  I love the fact that this special moment was just between the three of us.  We loved talking with Ensley so much that night, knowing that a laugh could be coming any moment, that we kept the poor little girl up until after 9:30!

Ensley’s getting plenty of practice showing us her beautiful smile these days – it seems to be her favorite thing to do.  She’s our happy little girl, and we just can’t get enough of her.  Just over three months old, this age just seems to be magical.  Her personality is showing more and more each day, and we’re looking so forward to all of the “firsts” that we’ll be experiencing with her over the next few months.  Since last week we’ve been lucky enough to hear her laugh a handful of times after that first giggle, and we absolutely can’t wait for more!

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