Friday, November 9, 2018

Moments into Memories - Client Print Guide

The hard part (hopefully the fun part) is over! Your session is complete.
But we're not done.

Time passes quickly and moments are fleeting. Digital is awesome but there are so many great ways to preserve your moments.

In our home we have fun collage prints, wood art, framed prints and photo books. But there are endless options to fit your style, home, creativity and more.
I am here to help choose and create art with you.

MEMORIES INTO ART || I would be glad to meet with you or plan a phone call to chat about your desires. Coffee, anyone? A great way to get started is to take a look at this inspiration guide. Maybe this gets the juices flowing. Or maybe you already know what you're longing for... Let's make it happen!

HOLIDAY CARDS || Can you believe it is that time of year? Take a look and choose you're favorite Christmas/Holiday card. Ordering is quick and easy and I take care of it all for you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Blurry baby days and daily ponderings

Are the teeth coming in hurting him and disrupting sleep?
Does he need to drop a nap?
Is it separation anxiety?
Is he bored? Does he need different toys? More baby friends?
Does he need to eat more solids? But food before 1 is just for fun, right?
Will solids help him sleep through the night?
Does he enjoy the farmers market and other outings?

These and other questions like them roll through my head throughout my days lately. They sound so lame but this sweet little man can't fully tell me how he feels or what he needs. And so I wonder.. Is he ok? Are we meeting his needs? Am I  doing this right? I couldn't have anticipated these questions would consume much of my day or that I would "worry" about things like this. Turns out what I  thought I  knew about being a parent was actually nothing. There are so many things I thought I would or wouldn't do as a parent but you really have NO idea until you're in it. Parenthood has already humbled me in reminding me how little I  know about things. It's all a learn as you go  (parenthood, life, each season).

I am guessing I will look back and all these new mom questions/worries/anxieties will be long forgotten. But I  don't want to fully forget... so I  am writing them. One day I will be long past this season and problems of school struggles, friend drama
and future girlfriends will plague me. But today, these are the things that often feel "big".

So often once a season is over I look back and it's all a bit blurry.
Already (and I thought for sure I wouldn't do this) the newborn season is a blur.
How did we survive? How did we figure out those first hours/days/weeks?
Did he really just sleep all the time?
Was he really that tiny? Did he really fit in that?
Did I really worry about that?

What do you remember about the early days of baby life?
Are questions like these a vague memory of mom life past?

Sometimes you are a mystery, sweet Rainier. But you're also a joy, you bring new to our life daily and we love watching you grow in personality and life.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Half Way Point

We're at seven months - this little cub of ours is seven months old.
We have survived 6 months of parenthood!

Tonight he's asleep early and my husband is at work late and I've decided it's time to write. This is my way to process and to look back later when all of this feels a bit like a blur. I    am way behind on this!

I am also feeling sentimental because he's getting his first two teeth.
Who knew I would stop in my tracks and get teary eyed upon this realization? It's just one of those "big milestones" in the beginning and I feel so excited he's growing and also a bit like "how is this happening?".

If I am honest I see fresh little babies and I feel mixed. Partially I feel a fondness to the sweet, sleepy, squishy, take 'em anywhere phase. But partially I feel a bit like, "oh man, that was rough and I am glad we made it out". It's weird how I have already forgotten a bit of the crazy of those beginning weeks but it also still feels fresh and a bit scary. I've said it here before but I just had no idea what bringing home a baby would really look like and the new mom anxieties met my inability to function on little sleep in a rough way. Normally Charles is the optimist and I am the realist but he was much more mentally prepared for the challenge than I was.

Some days I feel like such a pro (I'm not - I just feel so glad I know more than I knew on day one).
Some days I feel just as anxious about new phases and what lies ahead.
I pray safety and protection over him every night. I think God for each new day.
I sometimes lay awake anxious about future decisions and how we'll raise him.

I try my best to soak up each day. Ok, not every hour. Some are hard and I want them to pass by but God is inviting me into a simplicity and presence. He's been doing this for a while but it's different now. Having a baby is definitely not simple. Taking care of home, groceries, meals, a little human, a dog, being wife, friend, business owner... This whole season isn't simple but in this season of getting to be home with my baby I am doing my best to choose presence. And while getting through each day can be complicated; there is a simplicity to sitting on the floor and playing with the same toys, reading the same books, going on the same walks, working on the next nap and doing it all over again. I am here. Somedays those moments feel really long but I feel God inviting me to slow down, say yes to the moment I am in and not rush off the next idea, place or season.

So here we are. Half way to ONE.

He is working out his first two teeth.
He is sitting, working on crawling and wanting to be independent. I try to snuggle him but he mostly wants to move about.
We are learning new rhythms and how to bring him into the ones we've already got.
We are one week from our first plane flight.
We are watching him grow and learn about the world.
We recently took our second camping trip and it was MUCH better than the first.
He still loves the fan and when we ask him where it is, he looks up!
I love seeing the joy on Charles and Rainier's face when they reunite in the evening. Papa's love for this guy gets my heart every day.
I know everyone says this about their own but we think he is the cutest and talk about it all the time (who are we?).
We're learning more and more how to be a team in the parenthood thing.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fall Photo Sessions | The Details

Whether you've never had professional photos taken or it's only been a few months - now is the perfect time! Why you ask?

Well, these limited sessions are a shorter (and cheaper) version of a full session experience and are only offered once a year. Plus..
  • Your family changes fast - it's always a good time to preserve the moments of this season.
  • Cooler weather and Fall vibes.
  • Just in time for your annual Christmas card.
  • Easy, simple and fun! 
  • Why not? Perfect for any occasion. 
They may be mini but you'll end up with much more than a family portrait. You'll have moments experienced with everyone together in front of the camera.
If you're interested, read on for the full details!

Fall Mini Photo Sessions  |  2018  |  $175
These prescheduled sessions happen just two days this Fall. 
Choose your session which includes a 15 minute photo experience, unlimited images captured, individualized editing and a private online gallery with 25+ downloadable images with print rights.
Plus you'll have access to professional printing and Holiday Card ordering to make this busy season simple!

Sunday, November 11: Hiltscher Trail  |  3:20p, 3:40p, 4p, 4:20p
Saturday, December 1: Panorama Trail |  3:10p, 3:30p, 3:50p, 4:10p

To snag your session fill out this quick form.
There is a $50 deposit to reserve your session. The remainder to be paid 48 hour prior to your session.
Times will be crossed out as they are taken.


 For Hiltscher trail think Fall foliage - trees - leaves. 

Panorama Trail is shrubbery - rustic warmth - trees. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

It Takes A Village

These words are from March 8th, 2018. Just a few weeks into our parenthood journey. Read on. Then read the new version below...

You've heard, "It Takes A Village" right? These words ring so true.

I am so, so grateful for the village in place who has supported, prayed for, celebrated and encouraged us in this whole journey! I love sharing life with people and this experience wouldn't be the same without those around us. However, this is hard too.

Leading up to Rainier's arrival we were so genuinely blessed by baby showers, random gift drop offs, questions about how we're doing, celebrations, prayers, offering of wisdom and encouragement and more.
Now that Rainier is here we've been so loved by calls and text, visits, meals that have gotten us through these first few weeks (these are such a gift), people who have reached out through phone/social media to offer support and genuinely ask about how we're doing and answer those "is this normal" question at all hours, grocery runs, sweet gifts, coffee delivery and more.

These things (and the people behind them) are so, so valuable to me. I have felt so supported and this has been so crucial to me in this time. But this is such a lesson for me. It is hard for me to accept all this help. I am pretty good at "doing things on my own" and in this season where people have gone above and beyond to support us I find myself challenged to fully accept all this love. I am experiencing the need for a village in such a real way and really allowing it is such a lesson. Anyone else feel me? I am finally feeling physically "back to normal" and it's tempting to "not need help" anymore. But it isn't really just about need is it? It is love, help and community playing out in it's finest form and that's not about need. Well, not just physical need. It is a mental and emotional need that is being met too. Sure, I could fight that I don't "need" in those ways but I do, and I am so grateful.

Is this hard for anyone else?
I shall do my best to fully receive.
Thank you for being a part of our village in this season and beyond.

UPDATED: 5/10/2018
I had no idea what was ahead and what my village would really mean to me. I am sure I still don't. But dang, my words are different now than what I typed above in early March. I am just now up for air and finding time, energy and desire for things like this; writing, processing, engaging.

So... In late March things took a turn. The short stents of sleep had created a wakeful pattern. So did the middle of the night hours spent browsing during feedings: social media, mom forums and blogs... "How often should my baby eat? What's the best sleep schedule? What happens if my baby gets sick?" and other random things you can find on the internet at all times. Everything from advice, funny stories to trauma. It turns out that stuff messes with you after a while.

Enter, insomnia. Things shifted and I just COULDN'T sleep. At all. My brain was going non stop from song lyrics, to random thoughts to baby fears. Or just being alert. I already got frustrated if I     couldn't sleep. Throw in a baby and a deep NEED for rest and I was getting all sorts of anxious. And then it grew. A few days in my body was depleted and I was discouraged. And soon my husband was going back to work. Enter more anxiety. How would I care for/hold/feed my baby? How would I  feed myself? How would I do this? So began tears, worry, fears, anxiety, loss of appetite, diarrhea (sorry, it't the truth) and being totally overwhelmed. I was really discouraged and feeling at a loss of how to do this mom thing. And I never really

Enter, My Village.

  • My Husband - Man, he has had to deal with a lot with me (and still is). I am hard on myself. I have worried a lot as a new mom. Me sleepless = total chaos. But he has been so encouraging, life giving, grace giving and my teammate. We now share the sleeplessness with shifts so we each get some dedicated rest. This has been such a gift and need. But also hard too. I miss him. 
  • Mom friends. Friends. Friends who are family - They appeared. They showed up. They check in. They relate. They share wisdom. They take walks with me. They pray for me. They held Rainier so I could get a nap. They brought coffee. They texted, called, messaged. They showed up via social media. They brought food. They have been present and I am so thankful. I even made a new mom friend in my neighborhood. We've got babies two weeks apart and sharing our journey has been such a gift. 
  • Family - Support has been huge. I am especially thankful for my Mom who has taken night shifts, done Costco runs, checked in, cleaned and much more. The gift of sleep without worry has been huge! Also, my sister in law who has a crew of kiddos and checks in and empathizes.
  • Jesus - For reals. "Thank Jesus" is thrown around a lot but in the most genuine way. I am so thankful. God has sustained us, nourished us, brought needed support and so presently journeys with us. It's easy for me to overlook Him as I search for help in this season but I have done my best to slow down and declare my needs and seek Him to bring comfort, encouragement and strength. I continue to remind myself to hand over my worry, anxiety and fear. Daily. This sounds like it'll be a lifelong journey in parenthood. But I also get to express deep thanks and joy.

So, dear friends. Whether it is the journey of parenthood or the many other things we navigate in life - find your village. Invite them in. Be honest. Share your needs. If you've read things here before you may know I think one of the worst things is to navigate life in isolation. That's not how were meant to live. Fiercely seek out those who can/will/do support you.

Thank you to the MANY who are my Village. I am immensely thankful to share in life with you and for your support in this season.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rainier's Arrival | Our Birth Story

One month ago today I gave birth to our beautiful son. I know everyone says this but I cannot believe it has been a whole month. Days feel quick and long at the same time. He is changing quickly and it is bittersweet. More to come on our first month..

It is a very interesting process to prepare for labor. You make a plan but you are told to hold is loosely because really, "who knows" how it'll go. So I planned and prepared the best I could (and tried to be open in the process). I was so hungry my whole pregnancy but I tried to nourish us the best I could. I did prenatal yoga to ease the discomfort and prepare for labor. I hired a doula to help and support both Charles and I in this process (also because I was unsatisfied with most of my prenatal care and wanted someone I was connected to in the process). We researched things about the birth process and our babies arrival, stressed, prayed and waiting with anticipation and excitement.

I had my 40 week appointment on Wednesday February 21st. Nothing was happening and I was really hoping our little one would progress naturally before we had to talk induction. We made a plan for the next week with our doctor and she sent us on our way. As we went to leave it all began.

I stood up to leave my appointment and my water began to break. It wasn't like an all out flood but a definite leak that I couldn't control. We asked our doctor to come back in and in a moment she confirmed what was happening and sent us on our way to the hospital. This was quite shocking since I wasn't experiencing anything in regards to labor. We had our pup in the car and we're headed to walk a local trail. Not anymore..

We went home and prepped for the hospital which was quite surreal. Charles did some cleaning and last minute dishes, we ate lunch, packed our final bags, prepped for our dog sitter and made some calls. It felt very logistical at this point.

I really hoped to labor at home but my water breaking put our babe at risk of infection eventually. We arrived at the hospital at 1pm. This still felt very surreal since nothing was really happening. However once we got into our room and I changed into the hospital gown tears began to flow as I hugged Charles. This was happening. We we're going to welcome our child into the world soon (ish). After 9 months of growing, waiting, anticipating.. this was happening!

They hooked me up to the monitors and I was having contractions every 2-4 minutes but nothing I was really feeling. They began to talk about starting pitocin. I was really hoping to wait and allow things to happen naturally. I asked to first take a hot shower and once I began this process contractions started to kick in. My doula Rachel arrived to support us and by 6pm I was feeling some intensity. By 7pm there was definite pain and I could tell this was going to be quite the process. However I wasn't dilating so conversations about pitocin continued. By 7:45pm we started the lowest level of pitocin. I was already in quite the amount of pain and the intensity of contractions increased (and the recovery time between them decreased). Y'all, this was not fun.

Basically from this point on it was all hands on deck. Things progressed faster than anticipated and Charles and Rachel were there to help me cope with each contraction. The nurse was having trouble monitoring our baby's heart beat when I was on the yoga ball so I had to move to the bed for the rest of labor. This didn't allow as much pain relief and ability to cope. It all feels like a bit if a blur from here. I spent most of the next few hours with my eyes mostly closed giving physical clues to Charles about what I needed (pressure on my back, water, rest). Around 10pm they turned off the Pitocin. My rest times were so short. I had such little time to recover between contractions so they had Charles placing oxygen on my in my rest periods so we both could recover between. Each contraction cycle was: immense pain and trying my best to cope (this was an intense and loud process), oxygen during the break, a sip of water, repeat.

As determined as I was for an intervention free labor I was feeling pretty defeated by how painful this was. But I just kept taking it one contraction at a time. Rachel would remind me I was headed to rest each time and I could do it. Charles was my biggest support (cue the tears as I type) cheering me on with encouragement, dedicated support and focus.

I remember looking at the clock sporadically and hoping our baby would be born before midnight (just hoping the end was in sight). By 11:30pm Rachel and Charles suggested they check my progress due to the ongoing pain and intensity. Our nurse said that once I felt pressure in my bowels they would. I was so happy to utter out "Oh, I am. Things are feeling different!". So they checked and our nurse declared I was ready. These words were such a relief to hear.

Thus began the coaching of pushing. This was a reprieve from the pain of the contraction but also so much work. With each round of pushing I hoped our baby would arrive. The doctor came in and it felt to real that this was happening. However Rainier wasn't quite ready to exit and she needed to head to a C-section. They told me to slow down my pushing to every other contraction. This was not good to hear. It allowed a little recovery but also meant I had to sit in the pain more. However if you've been here you probably know once the need to push comes, you can't really stop it. My doula encouraged me to let my body do what it needed to do (again, relief) and so I did. I am so thankful for our nurse who encouraged my effort to push. I could hear her saying that we needed to get the doctor back and we were going to welcome our child before she did the C-section. Ahh, sweet relief. Yes, please, let's do this!

I opened my eyes to see the doctor and the set up for delivery taking place.
Again, cue the tears as I type.
Our baby was making progress towards birth and hearing them exclaim that they could see the head was THE BEST NEWS. This was just the encouragement I needed. I really hoped it would be one push and done. It wasn't. But Charles cheered me on with each push and he watched our baby's head come closer and closer. This was happening! I can't really say how long it was from this point but they coached me and cheered me on and then our baby's head was out. I can't even express the joy in these words. Another push and out came his body. This was the most beautiful feeling. OUR BABY WAS NOW IN OUR WORLD. February 22nd, 2018 - 1:13am we became a family of three.

Since we didn't know the gender we wanted Charles to see and announce the news. I am not sure I've heard such a joyful celebration before (and he's pretty joyful). He declared multiple times with such enthusiasm, "IT'S A BOY... IT'S A BOY!!!" as tears flowed from his eyes. I couldn't even cry but I was so overwhelmed as they placed out baby boy on on my chest. He was here. I am pretty sure that is all I repeated for a few minutes. "You're here. I love you. You're here!".

There was plenty that still had to happen as the doctor finished up the process but nothing else mattered. Our baby was in our arms. I was overjoyed. He is beautiful and in my arms. The team cleared his passage ways and made sure he was healthy. I was so looking forward to this time - The "baby moon" as they call it. The first hour+ of skin to skin connection, breast feeding and quiet time taking in our new little one. Looking into my husband's eyes as we soaked up our baby's presence was the most beautiful time.

I'll be honest. It was tough. I was immediately so thankful it was over. I joked with Charles about Rainier being an only child because I didn't want to do it again. They say it gets easier (I sure hope so). But I was so relieved, thankful, exhausted and filled with love and joy for this little gift.

I loved having a doula. This support and relationship was so valuable as we prepared and delivered. I am also so thankful we had Taylor photograph our birth. If you can, I highly recommend hiring a birth photographer. I was nervous for her (this wasn't going to be pretty) but she was so excited and supportive and I am so thankful she was there. She did the best job capturing the most significant moment in our lives together and the ability to relive our experience after was so beautiful. As Charles and I viewed our photos I had so many questions about moments I couldn't remember or didn't realize. I cried my way through each moment relived.

Here are the images from our sweet babe's birth.. (warning: one has some blood). 

Brief moment of calm. Very brief.. I am so thankful for my teammate.

The supportive duo.

When stuff got real. Sitting up, learning to push.

I remember looking at the clock wanting it all to finish quickly.

THERE HE IS. What a beautiful sight.

Finally. So much emotion and gratitude. 

I love my husbands expressions. So much excitement and love.

Watching over the new babe..

Snuggled close.

Rainier Nicholas Stoicu.

Quiet moments holding my son close. Such relief and love.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Our little baby space | Gender neutral nursery

What does one do while they wait for baby to make it's way in the world? I suppose it's time to document the little space we've created! It is still surreal to think we'll be bringing our little one home to join us in our world. I guess it will feel that way until we do (or maybe even longer).

Honestly this waiting phase is interesting. It is special but it is also a little stressful. But I am embracing the waiting, soaking up the much needed rest and praying for this process ahead of us. 

We don't know our baby's gender and it is funny how people ask, "Wow, how will you decorate?"
I know they mean will but here's how we did it...
  1. What we really need is a functional space to bring our child into. Honestly, this could look a lot of different ways and it doesn't have to be ready by the time he/she arrives. 
  2. We don't desire a super "gender specific" space so that isn't a concern.
  3. We're more into the rustic look with wood furniture and accent pieces. The teal table, giant pillows and green chair were already in our space. Then we just added the needed furniture, some baby items and some art and VOILA - our baby space. 
I love some of the well themed spaces I have seen but I guess that just aint us. Also, I am sure it will evolve over time and once we know their gender. 

So, here's a little look into our space (and the process of it unfolding).


We decided to keep our guest bed in the room for guest we may have while our babe is still sleeping in our room and long nights with babe to not wake each other. This led us to a mini crib (have you seen how BIG cribs are?).

From day one Charles wanted to build our crib. I of course thought it would just be easier to buy one (and honestly cheaper) but I am so grateful for his desire and labor. I love it and it will be so special. Didn't he do a great job?
The mountain art was a custom order from Raw Restorations and was Charles' Christmas gift from me. Of course, photos on display from our maternity session thanks to Tay Joy Photography.

When we hang in here Winston likes to lay in front of the crib. I think he's ready for his new role. 

Charles also build this super custom wall shelf. It has moveable pegs and shelves so we can use it and decorate it uniquely over time.
The small dresser is an Ikea purchase that doubles as a changing table.

Little baby things are the cutest. 

At my shower friends guessed baby's birthday. There's still a few in the running.. 

More little baby details. 

This room gets the best afternoon light. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Our Maternity Session | Baby Stoicu Countdown

I am so thankful for this season and for the way that Taylor captured it for us!

I wanted to capture the moments that summarize much of life lately for us... Hanging with our pup, talking about the big changes to come and of course sipping on coffee together. We look a little more put together that our typical Saturday morning but this was a good reason to ditch my usual sweat pants and baggy t shirt.

I wonder what thoughts will run through my mind when I look back on these.
Will I remember 20 weeks of terrible sleep?
Will I remember the constant hunger struggle?
Will I remember the feelings of not being ready and anxiety?
Will I remember the anticipation and excitement of this new journey?
Will I remember quiet moments once shared?
Will I remember thinking, "Holy cow, we're going to be parents!?"
All I know is they will hold so much value of this nine month journey and beyond. This is why I love photographs. They hold so much more than what is seen at first glance. They are powerful, lasting and filled with memories. (Sentimental pregnant lady rambling over).

So, here's a look into our session.

Our pup Winston pretty much won't leave my side. He insisted on being in just about every photo. I am so curious to see how he will be once this little one arrives.

I miss refilling my cup of coffee but we will reunite soon. A few minutes spent together over breakfast and coffee in the morning are definitely a favorite part of my day.

A typical moment, Charles playing with his mustache. Our kid might freak out once Dad shaves his beard..

I consistently say, "Feel the baby wiggling!" and I swear he/she stops as soon as Charles reaches over. But he has gotten to see and feel these movements and it makes us so excited to meet this baby on the outside. The more it grows, the more I feel like I am getting to know the little human inside me and I get all anxious for it's arrival.

Work in progress: The baby room..
Charles is building our crib and it is almost finished. I can't wait to put some finishing touches on this space. I love to just go sit in it and soak up the natural light, pray for this babe and do some "nesting".  And Winston, he loves to snuggle with us as often as he can. 

Front porch mornings are a favorite part of the weekend. I am so thankful for this home and the life that will happen within it's walls for our family. 

We're not smiling at the bump. Definitely at the pup who wants to play soooo bad. 

The main star of pregnancy, CEREAL. Give it up for cereal. easy, cold, yummy and a good snack for the many times of hunger between meals. 

Taylor! Thank you so much for preserving these moments for us.
I know I will look back with such fond memories of this unique and truly special season. Pregnancy aint easy, y'all, but I am so thankful.

Any tips for taking photos once this baby arrives? I hope I am good about busting out my camera and capturing these fleeting moments! 

Here - we - go...