a melody sounds like a memory

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Life is good.  That pretty much sums up the way that I’ve been feeling lately.  It might be partly because the weather is getting nicer and summer is on its way – everyone is usually in a better mood at this time of year – but I know that a big part of it is the fact that I’m just genuinely happy.  Mitch and I now have this beautiful little girl that makes our days that much better.  We love every minute of spending time with her, and last Friday was one of my favorites days with her so far…

When it was just Mitch and I, some of my favorite evenings together were those that happened on accident.  We’d get out one of our computers and look up our new favorite country song that we heard on the radio and play it on repeat on YouTube.  Don’t laugh… but we’d spend hours listening to each other’s favorite songs and then it would remind us of other favorites from the past too.  Before we knew it, hours would pass as we forgot about anything that was bothering us.  We’d talk about what’s been going on in our lives, our plans, and we’d even reminisce about memories from the past too.  I’m not sure what it is exactly about listening to these songs and the lyrics, but it’s always helped me put things into perspective and put me in a good mood.  I’m pretty sure that it makes me feel – grateful.  All of these songs help remind me what an amazing, and fun-to-remember past that we have, and they also makes me feel grateful for how things are right now.

Last Friday, I found out that Ensley might like listening to these songs as much as we do.  It was late in the afternoon and she was bored of our usual routine of laying under her play gym, bouncing on the ball, or walking around the house to look at ourselves in the mirror.  When Mitch started playing the new song by Eric Church called Springsteen on his computer, it was like that was what Ensley was waiting for.  As I held her, trying to sing along (unfortunately I don’t have the “good voice” genes to pass along to her), we danced around the kitchen… and she just melted.  The windows were open, and a warm breeze was coming in.  Her little cheek was smooshed against my shoulder because she was so relaxed.  It was perfect and everything in the world seemed right.  As lyrics sang about remembering summer days and time gone by, all I could think about was how much I loved this moment.  I knew there wasn’t anywhere else in the entire world that I would rather be than right there dancing with little Ensley.  I was sure that this was another, of many, times that I would never want to forget.

Probably the upcoming “country anthem of the summer,” this song will always mean a little something more to me.  I smile every time that I hear it.  “…funny how a melody sounds like a memory…” is a line of the song, and this one will certainly always be a special memory for me.

spring fling

By | Love Birds

Flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and a there’s a warm breeze blowing… wait, are we sure this is March?  It is!  And I’m loving everything about this early spring – or should we say summer?  Our unseasonably warm weather makes me more excited than ever for this year’s photography season.  After my winter break from shooting, it felt so great to get out there and spend an afternoon with these two love birds.  At about 65 degrees, it was a “cool” weekend day compared to the 80’s that we started getting used to last week.  Even still, it was so wonderful to see the trees budding with little green leaves, almost fluorescent against the dark landscape that is just starting to come to life.  Whitney and Mike were so great together, and I think you can tell by their photos that they are head over heels for each other!  Planning an end-of-the-summer wedding for this year, these two made it easy to capture their love and how much fun they have together…

My camera nearly broke when I had to take a picture of Mike in his Bear’s jersey 🙂 … but I’m thankful that he has Whitney now to help set him straight!

On another note, we continue to be amazed every day by our sweet little girl.  Seven weeks old to the day, she has also been enjoying this amazing weather.  It was so neat taking her to the park this past week.  We are lucky enough to have a park less than a block from our house where we can play ball with Mya (our other baby).  We brought Ensley along and just laid her on a blanket and let her take in all of the new sounds and things to look at.  I never dreamed that I’d be able to take her for walks in her stroller during the middle of March!  We can tell that she’s learning new things every single day, and we absolutely love the fact that it seems like her favorite thing to do lately is smile.  Mitch and I were even lucky enough to hear her giggle in her sleep last week, a preview I’m sure, of many more giggles that we have to look forward to!

ensley paige

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For almost the past year, I’ve been thinking about this moment.  The moment where I am sitting down to write in my blog about how the past few weeks have changed my life.  I knew that becoming a mom would be the best experience to ever happen, but I can honestly say that I had no idea just how much of an impact this beautiful little girl would have on me.  From the very first time that you start telling people that you’re expecting a baby, those who have kids of their own and know the feeling, start telling you about how “your life will never be the same.”  I know that before Ensley was here, I took their advice to heart and thought so many times about how different mine and Mitch’s life would be and how we knew that our soon-to-be little girl was going to be a wonderful addition.  But I know now that I didn’t (and couldn’t) fully understand what everyone was telling me.  Until I held her in my arms for the first time, I just didn’t know.  In fact, I had no idea… no idea that my entire universe would suddenly revolve around this little baby who I just met for the first time.  I had no idea that my heart would actually hurt because of how much I loved her from the very moment that I laid eyes on this sweet little girl.  So, for this post (and maybe some others in the future too!) I’m going to write about my new favorite topic in the whole world – my little Ensley.  I know that my blog is supposed to be about photography too, so I’ll include some of my favorite pictures to go along with our story about the day that we became a new family…

After one of our first ultrasounds, when Ensley’s due date was set for February 4th, we were a little extra excited because Mitch’s birthday is on the 5th.  How much fun would that be to have our little girl on her daddy’s birthday?  And what an amazing present for him on a birthday he would never forget.  So, after many evenings of “false labor” or even when the doctor told us in mid-January that he thought we’d be having this baby “within the week,” we were also hoping that just in case he was wrong that it could be on February 5th.  I had long before realized that especially with anything having to do with pregnancy and babies that my trying to plan things (something that I find myself doing with most everything) just wasn’t going to work for this.  So, we spent the last few weeks of January waiting… and waiting… with our hospital bag packed just in case!  But when February 4th came and went and then February 5th came and was starting to pass by – I started considering the fact that maybe this baby would decide to stay put for longer than we thought.

So, with no baby news to keep us occupied, Mitch and I decided to go out for dinner in honor of his birthday.  The ride to the restaurant was a lot like other times, contractions here and there, but nothing that seemed to amount to anything.  Even throughout dinner the contractions weren’t anything close to the “can’t talk, can’t walk, can’t even think” kind of pain that I was expecting – so I just assumed that this was another bout of “false labor” – something that I was starting to get used to.  The only difference this night was that Mitch decided to download a contraction timer app on his phone just for fun.  It only confirmed the fact that the irregularity of these first signs of labor probably meant that it was nothing.  So with that, I went to bed, and woke up around midnight to go sleep on the couch.  For those of you who know about being nine months pregnant – sleeping isn’t easy.  Between trips to the bathroom every couple hours and overall achey-ness you just can’t sleep.  I’ve heard people say that this is probably God’s way of getting you ready for lots of sleepless nights – whoever said this might be right, because it’s like you develop insomnia and quickly learn to function on a mere four or five hours of sleep. So, after watching a few of the middle of the night shows on TV (a schedule that I had memorized – weekdays, weekends – The Doctors, Dr. Oz, infomercial, World News Now, Wake Up Wisconsin, etc….) I started considering the fact that my contractions were actually starting to keep me awake and might be getting a little stronger than I had thought.  As a first-timer, the last thing in the world that I wanted to do was make something out of nothing – or end up going to the hospital thinking that I was in labor just to be sent home and told that I didn’t know what I was talking about.  So, I let Mitch keep sleeping, and just waited to see what would happen…

Well, it didn’t take too long for what I thought was probably nothing to be something.  By about 3:30 in the morning I was sure that if this weren’t labor, then my appendix must’ve burst or something because this wasn’t normal.  Mitch was up by this time and telling me that I should really be timing these contractions so that we could call the hospital and see when it was time to come in – I had been reluctant to time things out or call the hospital up until now – probably partially because I was in denial that this was actually happening!  Within a couple of hours the contractions were about four minutes apart and that was our sign that it was time to head in.  By about 8AM we were at the hospital, and to my relief, being told that this was real labor and that we would be staying until we had a baby.

After a long day of labor, and me realizing that I had the most amazing and supportive husband in the whole world, it was time to meet our little girl.  I’ll spare anyone reading this the details of the day… don’t stop reading yet!  I promise, this is as far as I’ll go and the story only gets better from here!  Meeting Ensley for the first time was nothing short of surreal.  It was like the whole universe just stopped, and it was just the three of us.  Just typing this brings tears to my eyes, reliving the moment.  I honestly can’t even hardly remember what I did or said.  I just remember thinking that our baby… our baby that we had waited so long to meet, was finally here.  I remember her laying on my chest looking up at us, barely making a sound, and just being mesmerized by Mitch’s voice.  I was always so excited to witness the moment when Mitch got to meet his little girl.  I knew that it would be a moment that I would never want to forget – and I was so right.  Between the tears, the smiles, and just the raw emotion of the day, we were both in awe at this precious, perfect little girl that we were meeting for the first time.  We were head over heels in love.  So in love, that for the first half an hour, we completely forgot that we still had to name our new baby.  We just couldn’t believe how lucky we felt to have her.

I’m sure you’ve probably seen the YouTube video of the little boy coming home from the dentist on pain medicine and he says “is this real life?!?”  That is exactly how I felt for the next week, and the best way to describe it.  Not only is having a baby an out-of-body experience, but I think the first week as a new parent is, too.  I know that I spent hours in the chair just rocking Ensley, looking at her, crying because I was so genuinely happy.  I barely slept.  Not because she was keeping me awake (she was actually sleeping most of the time I was rocking her), but because I didn’t want to miss a second of this.  I knew that closing my eyes would mean that the time would go by even faster, and I was already feeling like each day was slipping away too fast.  I remember that I kept thinking that she would only be three days old for just a little while, or that she’d only be one week old for such a short time… I’m even thinking right now that she won’t be one month old for long.  Maybe I should stop typing and go cuddle with her right now :)…

Okay, I’m back… So, that’s the story – even though words can’t even begin to do justice to the way that I feel.  This is the best way that I can describe what it was like to become a mommy for the first time.  I know that our life will never, ever be the same again – and I’m so glad.  From now on, I’ll understand exactly what people mean when they say “your life will never be the same,” and I might even be the one telling my friends who are soon-to-be parents too.  Right now my days revolve around waiting for that next little smile, getting in all of the cuddling that I can, and wishing that the Sleep Sheep sound machine had a timer longer than 45 minutes (who ever thought that 45 minutes was long enough anyway?!)  I am grateful for all of the moments and memories that have led up until now, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of this for years before Ensley. Now we’re all settled in at home, and have been for a few weeks now.  Mitch has been back to work, life is returning to somewhat normal, and I even started taking a shower every morning too!  Haha.  I guess when I say that life is returning to “normal,” that’s not exactly true, because it’s so much better than normal.

what a difference a year can make…

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Tomorrow is the last day of 2011.  The last day of yet another year gone by.  Of course I can’t believe that it’s already this time of year, but I also can’t believe that we’re entering the year 2012.  I remember a time back in grade school when the teachers would ask us to draw what we thought that the year 2000 would look like.  I specifically remember drawing flying cars because that’s honesty what I thought that the future would look like.  Well, cars don’t fly (not that I know of) but I’m still pretty amazed at how different the world is and how much life changes as the time ticks on.  I feel like every year at this time, it’s so neat to reflect on where things were just a year ago.  For the past few years I’ve been making a conscious effort to think about where I’m at at the end of the year and think about how different it is.  Would I have ever expected that things would’ve turned out the way that they did?  The answer is always no, and this year is certainly no different.

There’s a country song that has a line that says “if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans,” and that’s a phrase that I would say sums up this year for me.  I realized this morning that it’s been five years since I graduated from college.  Some of you would say that it’s hardly any time at all, but if you’re my age then you’re probably feeling like I am… like I’m getting old! Haha.  What’s significant about five years is that it’s that benchmark year that you always thought about while you were sitting in class.  Going back to what teachers ask you about the future, professors would always say “where do you want to be in five years?”  Sitting in a college classroom it feels like an eternity away so you can dream a little and talk about having the perfect job and how you’ll have everything all figured out by the time you’re looking back five years from now.  Well it makes me panic for just a second thinking that I’m here already!  This is the time in my life where I’m supposed to have it all figured out… but instead, I realize now that every time I thought I knew how it was supposed to work out, I was wrong.  I’m pretty sure that my answer to my “having it all figured out” back in college would’ve been to be working my way up in a corporate marketing job for a company like Nike or Target (that would be cool, right?), and probably living in the Twin Cities.  At the time, I thought I knew for sure that this would make me happy.  The funny thing is that the way life’s turned out so far isn’t even close… but I couldn’t be happier.

A year ago, I never would’ve thought that my whole world would be turned upside down by this little girl that you see in the picture.  I honestly don’t go a minute during the day without thinking about her and how anxious we are for her to get here.  Here I am, just about to begin the year 2012, knowing that in just a matter of weeks, my husband and I will be holding our new baby.

I also have to admit that photography was never in a million years a part of my “5-year plan” either.  It was a surprise to me, and an interest that kind of picked me before I had the chance to choose it.  Between some of the most character building months after college, trying to find a job, and then finding marketing jobs that just weren’t exactly what I’d hoped for, I realized that taking pictures made me happy.  A hobby that turned into a profession, I’m so excited and feel so lucky that I now take pictures for people part-time and am choosing to make my business a career.

Thinking about how happy I am going into 2012, it’s amazing to think what a difference a year can make…  Here are just a few of my favorite photos from the beginning of 2011.  More to come!

wedded bliss

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I’m so excited to share this latest post from the day that Christen and Matt tied the knot!  What a fun day we had!  It’s not uncommon that I can hardly decide which photos to post on my blog or my Facebook album, but that was REALLY the case with this one!  There were so many fun shots from throughout the day.  We started out with an intimate ceremony at Madison’s “Gates of Heaven” synagogue where the couple recited their own, unique vows in front of friends and family and even carried out a wine box ceremony.  This was where the couple nailed shut a wooden box with their favorite bottle of wine and letters to each other.  The tradition is to open this box years down the road on their anniversary, or sometime in the course of their relationship if they hit a bumpy patch or need to be reminded of the love that they felt for each other on this very day – so sweet!  From there we spent a beautiful afternoon taking photos of the wedding party at the state capital, and ended the evening with a night of dinner and dancing at the Memorial Union on the lake.  It won’t be hard to see what a beautiful couple this is, and what a wonderful day they shared.  Enjoy!

jumping in…

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Here I am again.  Sitting in front of the computer and wondering how on earth I could’ve gone four whole months without blogging.  I knew that once summer was here everything would be busy.  I’ve had busy summers before, but nothing like this one.  I guess the best place to start is right where I left off… May.  I’m not sure what it is about that month, but everything always seems to happen all at once in the month of May.  In 2008, for example, my husband and I finished college, moved to Madison, got married, and he started his job with the police department – all within one month!  I should’ve known that this year things wouldn’t be any different.  I went into the month very excited because not only was I taking a leap and leaving my marketing job in Middleton, but two of my best friends were getting married.  We had Steve and Jeni’s wedding in St. Charles, Minnesota and then we would be able to round out the month with Sarah and Mike’s wedding in Milton over Memorial Day Weekend.  We had such a great time in Minnesota for the LaValla wedding.  My husband, Mitch, and I were honored to be a part of the wedding and I also had the opportunity to take pictures of the day’s festivities.  It was a beautiful day and such a neat chance for all of our friends to get together and just hang out again- something that we don’t get to do as often as we used to.  After that weekend, we headed home and got ready to start another week, looking forward to celebrating our own wedding anniversary that Tuesday, and then Sarah and Mike’s wedding on Saturday.  Little did we know that before we got to any of these things our life would change forever.

It was Monday that week when my suspicions were confirmed… we’re having a baby!  We couldn’t believe it.  We had planned on this happening soon, but knowing that it was really true, it just didn’t seem possible.  The next few days were a little surreal.  It’s funny how you can feel so nervous about something that you were so confident that you were ready for just a short time earlier!  After a few days, and after I had convinced myself that this was real life, it was so much fun to start thinking about how our lives were going to change for the better.  We couldn’t wait to start learning about this new little baby that had already stolen our hearts.  The next few months leading up to today were nothing short of eventful.  Besides being incredibly sick for the next nine weeks, life went on as usual – but a little different all at the same time.  I think I started learning my first lessons about being a “mom” right away (it’s still so weird to even talk about myself and that word in the same sentence!).  Your life can go on as it normally would, but you never approach anything exactly like you did before.  You’re always thinking about this little one in the back of your mind.  Judging by what I’ve heard from others and even my own mom, I’m guessing that this is one of those feelings that just never goes away whether your baby is 20 days old or 20 years old.  For me, it’s made this summer so much fun.  Having something so amazing to look forward to makes all of the events leading up to the big day that much sweeter.  We finished our roller coaster of a week with Sarah and Mike’s wedding.  It was a wonderful day and we were so happy to see Sarah and Mike so genuinely happy to be together.

Just a few days later we had the chance to get our first look at what would soon be our newest addition.  It was amazing.  Even though that early it’s hard to even tell what exactly you’re looking at – it was beautiful just the same.  On that day we were given the date of February 4th, 2012.  A due date is such powerful information.  I never realized how much you will plan your life around that one day.  I found that with every event scheduled into the coming months I keep comparing it to February 4th and trying to figure out how I’ll feel at that time and how I’ll look at that time!  From that first appointment on, we look forward to every four weeks when we get the chance to visit the doctor again and learn just a little bit more about our baby.  Now, only a few weeks shy of the half-way point, we (okay, maybe it’s just me that can hardly contain my excitement!) can’t wait for our next chance to see our baby and even find out if we’ll be buying pink or blue!

If I didn’t have “baby” on my mind this summer, I was thinking about weddings.  Wedding season was so busy this year, but so much fun too!  I know that I’ve said it before, but I’m so lucky to work with such amazing clients.  I had the opportunity to capture memories at so many beautiful events, and there are still a few more this year!  The season took me to Milton and Janesville on a few beautiful summer days, around the state capitol, to the shores of Lake Oconomowoc, to the rolling hills of Lodi for an airplane inspired wedding, and even to the St. Paul, Minnesota skyline!  Here are just a few, of thousands, of photos that I was able to take this summer.  Enjoy!

I am so excited for all of the happiness and excitement that lies ahead – and for so many reasons!  If you couldn’t tell… I love my job!  I get to take pictures of people’s happiest, most memorable times.  Not only have I been taking pictures of brides and grooms tying the knot this summer, but I’ve also been capturing moments between families, little ones, high school seniors, and love birds too!  Make sure that you go to www.facebook.com/dontblinkbyerin often to see my newest posts and keep updated on contests and promotions too!  I can’t wait to share all of my new work with all of you.

I also couldn’t be happier about this new time in our life.  Mitch and I can’t wait to meet this baby and we feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be parents.  It just goes to show that life will happen as it was meant to be, and all you can do is hold on and enjoy the ride.  I think this last photo from my recent engagement session with my friends Holly and Kevin shows this best… you might as well just jump in.

we start and end with family

By | Families | No Comments

For most of us Easter weekend is a reason for everyone to gather and celebrate.  Well this holiday weekend was extra special for the Gerharz family because they were all “together” again.  With their oldest son Ryan, in the marines, their time spent all together as a family is limited.  They take advantage of every chance that they get to just be with each other – and I was honored to spend some of that time with them.  I had so much fun capturing the happiness and love that this family shares.  Enjoy!

spring fling

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There’s just something different in the air this time of year.  It’s almost like people feel lighter… and just walk around happier than usual.  I feel like there’s a true sense that something great is coming and everyone is waiting anxiously for it to get here.  That’s the power that an ever-nearing summer has on us and I just love that feeling.  Whether it’s the longer days, the return of the robins to our yard, or just the absence of snow in general, I’m sure there’s something for everyone to be excited about!

My dog, Mya, is particularly happy about the springtime.  She gets to go to the park more often than usual and she walks around the house in the evening just waiting for my husband or I to say one of her favorite key words.  I can hardly say anything that sounds like “par…” or “fri…” or “sw…” because she automatically assumes that I’m talking to her about the “park,” her “frisbee,” or going “swimming.”  She perks up her little ears and tilts her head from side-to-side in true lab fashion making it almost impossible to tell her no because she looks so cute.  She’s also found a new hobby which is flying around the house leaving divots in our yard going from downspout to downspout checking for the first signs of chipmunks.  She probably remembers a time last year when she trapped one in the tube by using her paws to pound down the metal on both sides creating her very own personal toy to keep her busy for hours!

I also look forward to the surprises of spring.  More than a week ago I was walking in our neighborhood and there it was.  A Crocus flower coming up from the gravel!  On a windy, barely 40 degree day a sign of the coming months to keep things positive!  I’ve also been watching the robins bouncing around our yard, waiting for the perfect time to start nest building.  We must have the best spot for a nest in the whole neighborhood on the back of our house.  Last year we had robins build a nest on top of the motion light out the back door four different times and we got to watch robin eggs hatch over and over again throughout the early summer.  I can tell that all of the birds are out in our yard scoping it out right about now.  It’s these little reminders of summer coming that make the colder, rainy days bearable.  I often wonder if summer would be quite as sweet if we didn’t have to go through a long winter to get there.

Speaking of spring and happiness… I recently had the chance to spend an afternoon with Brett and Katie, lovebirds getting married this coming July.  I know that you’ll be able to tell by these photos just how in love these two are.  I had so much fun hanging out with them and enjoying a beautiful spring day.  We found the beauty of the outdoors everywhere we went, and this photo shoot reminded me just how photogenic the month of April can be.  Congratulations to Brett and Katie and I can’t wait to share photos from their upcoming wedding this summer!

winter wonderland

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The dead of winter definitely isn’t the most popular time to have a wedding.  The snow and undoubtedly cold weather probably have most people thinking that winter just can’t be as “pretty” as the other seasons of the year.  This past January I had the opportunity to shoot a wedding that proves this notion completely wrong!  Alex and Mary were married in Milton at the end of January and I have to say that it was one of the most beautiful weddings that I’ve had the chance to be a part of.  It was definitely snowy and it was, of course, cold… but as you can see in the photos below the weather certainly didn’t stop this couple from having a blast on their special day.  Right down to the details, this wedding defined a “vintage winter” event.  Everything from lace and netting to fur coats and boots kept this wedding party stylish and warm – even though the temperatures couldn’t have been much higher than 20 degrees that day!  Enjoy the photos below and congratulations again to Alex and Mary!

can’t hardly wait

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I am so happy to finally be back in the swing of things!  Getting back to blogging has been something that I’ve been looking forward to for so long now… and I don’t even want to mention the date of my last “real” blog post!  Needless to say it’s been a busy year!  When I look back on all that’s happened since spring of last year, I am just so grateful for all of the opportunities that I’ve had.  I work with some of the best clients ever, and because of this I am looking so forward to this coming season.  In the past few months I’ve worked on the new identity for Don’t Blink Photography and I’m so excited about the new look, website, and blog!  I know that the new site will allow me to keep sharing stories and photos with you throughout the weeks.  I already can’t wait to post the family sessions, high school seniors, little ones, and love birds that I’ve had the chance to work with!  I want to thank you so much for following me to this new site.  I promise that it will be worth your while, and I can’t wait to have you share in all of the fun along the way.

I’m going to start getting back into the blog by posting sessions from last summer and fall in between recent photo shoots as well.  I’m going to do my best to post as often as I can because there are just so many fun photo shoots to share!  In honor of the upcoming nice weather that we’re expecting this week, this post includes photos from an engagement session that I was able to take this past summer.  Brent and Kristi are not only a beautiful couple, but friends of mine from college too.  It is always so special to be able to capture memories like this for friends, and I’m honored to be the photographer for their upcoming wedding in the Twin Cities this August.