capturing a matchiversary.

Oh my surprises!

I have been cooking this one up since last fall when I first met Janel and Adam for their engagement session. We took shots of Janel in her wedding dress before meeting up with Adam b/c they are having a destination wedding cruise and didn't have it in their budget to get photos in Cozumel. So my session were the only professional shots they would have to remember their big day.

Every bride deserves to have good photos from their wedding day. Don't you think?

And although I would die to be able to hitch a ride to Cozumel with them, this post-baby belly won't fit in their luggage so I'm staying put. BUT, while shooting she did mention to me that they had to tie the knot in St. Louis first to make it official and they were having the BEFORE the BIG day BIG day on their Matchiversary.


Oh yes. The 21st Century at its finest.

February 28, 2008 was the day that they were matched on! And the rest is history!

So back in the fall I just fell in love with them, especially Janel (sorry Adam!), and knew I wanted to be at their Matchiversary wedding to surprise her+them.

I worked with her sweet sister, Nicole, and her mom so that when Janel walked in the sanctuary today I was sitting there. When she saw me her exact words were, "{GASP!} SHUT UP!"

And then she ran over and gave me a big hug. Love her.

So while Janel and Adam became man and wife today, in front of the smallest group of wedding guests I've ever seen, I was there to capture it. And it was awesome. Then of course I dragged them ALL to the most run down building I could find in Maryland Heights for some more photos. And I promised them a sneak peek tonight.

But just to drive them crazy I am going to post photos of everyone BUT them! HA!

Janel's parents:

(They are saying, "we married off a daughter today!")  Just kidding!

Adam's parents:

He just kept dancing with her. I love that.

Janel's beautiful sister:


Janel's Aunt and cousins:


Don't you want to join their gang? Kidding!

And b/c I know Janel is probably freaking out and dying to see herself and Adam (you know you are Janel!), here is one of my favorites (although there are so many others!)…


I love that they are willing to go anywhere I want and do anything I ask. It's an amazing feeling to have someone trust you completely and believe in your vision. Thank you all for that today. For allowing me to be free and create as I saw fit. For just utterly trusting me and freezing your bottoms off following me behind rusty fences and run down warehouses. I hope you love the images and will always remember your non-wedding matchinersary ceremony with a smile! Is that the biggest mouthful or what?

Oh. And keep your eyes out this spring for Janel's final session when we… well, you'll just have to wait and see!

let’s just say that yesterday included having vomit on my face.

And it was not my own.

Grayson woke up at 6:30am crying. I fed him and then he cried. I changed his diaper and he cried. His fever was up at 103.5 and when I picked him up he stopped crying and started making all these crazy noises. So if you can imagine, I'm holding him and put my face down near his to say, "what are you doing little man?" in a silly singsong voice when he PROJECTILE VOMITED IN MY FACE.

As in, dripping down my chin, down my shirt and puddling on the floor.

That, my friends, is how I started my day.

How jealous are you?

TODAY started with more fevers and trying to squeeze G's little man parts into a urination bag to collect his urine. Surprisingly, he didn't even notice as I squished and pushed them in this tiny hole. And now we're waiting for the pee. Once that happens I have to run the specimen to his doctor for testing. (For some reason I really like the word SPECIMEN. What is wrong with me?) I guess they'll be testing for some kind of infection since he's had a fever of 102-104.5 since Monday.

I also have a BIG surprise photo shoot today that I will (hopefully, depending on my sick baby) tell you about tonight.

And now it's my turn to hold the hot tamale baby.

It's Saturday… I'm just going to hold it together ok? Go.

to stretch my legs.

I'm sure that every photographer out there right now is desperate for warm weather, blue skies and a fun family to photograph. At least I know I was. Thank goodness for today.

Not only did I get to photograph the sweetest little 6 pound bundle, I got to photograph one of my good friends and her son while teaching one of my favorite clients how to use her new DSLR. Oh those creative legs. They were tight and in major need of stretching. And to spend just a short amount of time with good friends was such a blessing.

I am tired beyond words but before I call my day done I wanted to post these photos for Emily. And a sneak peek for Sarah, Tim, Asher and Violet.

Babies first don't you think?


***the knit baby sac was made for me by a client's mother, Kathy,  who is my knitting hero! She's been working so hard! Thanks Kathy!!!***20090226_0432b

Sarah thinks that little Violet will have her Daddy's big brown eyes… I think she already has her Momma's beautiful blue eyes!

A great big thank you Crow family!

And now some photos for Emily:


Emily was up for anything and totally willing to be a model while I taught Amy all about camera settings. She even wore a SUPER colorful outfit like I asked her to! I love working with other photographers b/c they just GET IT! Thanks Em and have a great trip Amy! Manual all the way baby!

Well folks, I survived today on 1.5 hour of sleep. Not totally sure how but I did. Us moms, we're tough. My mom took the girls for a sleepover tonight so that we only have to deal with one crazy non-sleeping kid, thanks mom! I'm really hoping tonight goes better b/c sleep just sounds like heaven right now.

Damn Grey's repeat tonight. They just have NO idea what that does to a tired mom. I might write a letter. Ok. Day is DONE.

I didn’t see 5am.

But I did see every other hour in between.

Poor Grayson woke up yesterday night with a raging fever and was up almost all night with it. Yesterday he seemed to be better until the afternoon when it zoomed right up to 104 and I took him in to the doctor. Teething+virus=one sad little man.

Last night was the same, he was up at least once or twice an hour until at 2am he started screaming and just wouldn't stop until I literally sat in bed restraining him and singing. He passed out just before 5am.

After adding it up, I have had approximately 6.5 hours of sleep in the last 3 nights.


And although I know I am tired and my brain is working just a tad slower this morning, I feel ok considering. I'm just wondering when severe sleep deprivation kicks in and what that looks like.


Luckily I have a sweet 7 day old baby waiting for me this morning and a fun session this afternoon. Will I make it through two sessions in one day while worrying and caring for a sick baby? Hopefully. Will I cancel the second one? Possibly. Will I be chugalugging the soda today? Hell yes.

How about if instead of prayers for ME today, everyone just collectively has a soda and maybe the massive caffeine rush will help energize me! Oh how I wish it worked like that.

And thanks for the prayers for sweet little Olivia (from my last post)… the surgery is today so please keep those prayers coming.

This day will NOT defeat me. Sleep will come eventually. I will not collapse into the mess of tears I feel are hiding behind this smile and exhausted exterior. If I can function today so can you so let's go!

prayers for olivia.

Yesterday I met the Wright family. They have two rambunctious boys and one sweet baby girl, Olivia. She is four months old and the tiniest little peanut you've ever seen. She was born with Glaucoma and tomorrow is having a cornea transplant. Oh my gosh I just can't imagine. Such big time surgery for such a little baby. Please keep her and her family in your prayers tomorrow. Pray for the doctors preforming the surgery, for Olivia's recovery and her parent's worry to be small.

Sweet Olivia.


They call her their Little Nemo b/c one of her ears folds down a bit. I love that.

And the bubbles. I love when babies start to blow tiny bubbles!


She's so tiny that her mom weighs her daily to make sure she's gaining weight. Can you believe that at four months she's just 11 pounds?


Such a beauty.


Her mom really wanted a photo of her smiling… they had been having trouble catching it. Thank goodness I have more where that comes from! Lots of smiles yesterday!


I love her hands here.


And what would a day with a baby be without some toes?

Thanks Wright family for letting me come capture sweet Olivia and you will be in my thoughts and prayers all day tomorrow.

is it later already?

Oh my gosh this day flew by!

*My session this morning went perfect… sweet family, adorable baby and two cute boys!

*The kids all took great naps so I could get some work done.

*Chris took the girls to a high school basketball game so Gray and I had some quiet time eating dinner, rolling balls and reading before he conked out.

*Now all three kids are in bed, Chris is in one room working and I'm in the other. Oh the romance. Be still my heart.

Good+busy day. Love it.

So before I get cracking on emails (I swear I'm getting to you!) and photo edits I wanted to share our fun news with you!

Saturday night we went to an auction (silent+live) for the high school youth group at our church. They are raising money for a mission trip this summer. I donated a photo session which was one out of hundreds of donations. It was seriously incredible! Dinner was catered by my amazing mom and MAN was it good! She did a great job and so did everyone else running it. Chris and I had more fun than we've had in a really long time… so fun my face hurt from laughing the next day!

So a few items into the live auction Chris calls my mom over and says something to the effect of, "MJ, if you loved me you'd buy us this trip to Florida!" She laughed and said she'd see what she could do. From that moment I have no idea how this all actually transpired, but somehow she got their good friends who are the parent's of OUR good friends to agree to go in on the trip too. So within minutes our four families agreed to bid on this package!

Kevin, my friend Angie's husband, was the bidder and played it SO cool we were all dying! Long story short, we got ONE WEEK in Santa Rosa, Florida in a 3 story home for $2050! Split four ways! How awesome is that? Here is Kevin playing it oh so cool…



I think his dad is saying, "What are you DOING? BID!!!" But Kevin waited it out to get us the BEST deal ever! Thanks Kevin!


OMGosh we are dying we're so excited! It will be our first family vacation with all three kids and our first time to travel with friends! And the MacBryde family (both junior and senior) are so great, we just LOVE them!

Here is a photo of the house we're staying in!


See that adorable blue house? I'm dying! Can you imagine the photos? Is it sad that that was one of my first thoughts?

If you live in or near Santa Rosa we will be there either early in June or August, we're working out the week right now, and I would LOVE to book a few sessions while there! Bright colors, the beach, oh my gosh I am so excited!


The last thing I want to say about breast feeding, and then I SWEAR I'm done, is that the main reason this means so much to me with Grayson is b/c I wasn't able to nurse Bailey or Parker.

I wanted to nurse them both but it just was awful. I was so nervous with Bailey and she didn't latch well. Then we had a CRAZY lactation consultant that told us we had to ONLY hold her chest to chest to bond with her and make EVERYONE that held her take their shirt off or she would not bond to anyone! Of course we knew it sounded crazy but we were first time parents so we didn't know any better. Truly, it was just a mess with Bailey in so many ways. They gave her a bottle without telling me so then when my milk wasn't in yet she screamed and screamed. I didn't know it at the time but I actually make too much milk so I was painfully engorged with no relief. After 6 days (I think) I gave up in tears on the phone with my mom. I just couldn't be in pain anymore and I was starting to hate motherhood b/c I was so miserable physically.

When Parker got here I was DETERMINED to make it work. Again, she had a bad latch which caused sore and bleeding nipples. This time the hospital told me to pump out the extra milk but it was awful. If I tried to feed her first before pumping she would drown b/c it came out so fast and if I waited until after I had pumped she was usually so hungry and screaming that it was hard to calm her down to get her latch right. I also didn't know then that if you pumped too much it just made more milk and by the end of her first week I could pump 10-12oz PER BREAST at each feeding. It was insane. And painful. And I had a 16 month old. And I was so overwhelmed with two babies I started slipping into a depression and finally gave up. I think I lasted almost 2 months.

So with Grayson I went into it hoping for the best but assuming it wouldn't work and he'd be bottle fed like his sisters. No big deal. I was relaxed and truly couldn't care one way or the other. This time I knew that my sanity was more important than anything and went into it with that attitude. I knew what was best for him but I just had to do what was best for me. Well the little bugger ate like a champ from day one! He nursed so long and so often I never even got engorged in the early days. If he wasn't at my breast he was sound asleep b/c for months that is all he did. Eat and sleep. He never had a latching issue and aside from being sore simply b/c he nursed so much, there were no problems. To me, it was a miracle and a true blessing. And it made my life so much easier.

SO. I guess I just wanted to let you all know that I've been on both sides. On all sides really. The good and bad and worse. And in the end, as long as your baby is happy and healthy, and you're happy and healthy it's really all that matters.

And that my friends, is all I will say about breast feeding!

I promise!

later today.

How in the world do my kids wake up, after waking up multiple times during the night asking to be covered up or get a drink of water or whatever, and have so much energy? The girls are bouncing around here like they are on speed. And they were up so much last night for some reason, one time Bailey said her blankies weren't laying in her bed the right way! SERIOUSLY kid? It's 2am! Get over it! And the little man is still eating multiple times a night, which I keep telling myself is fine b/c I will only be able to do this a while longer, but when I wake up in the morning feeling like i saw every hour I am rethinking the whole "cry it out" technique.


Later today I will post more photos and tell you about our CRAZY night Saturday night!


It involves her.


And him.


And all of them.

And a trip to Florida. Where I will be booking sessions btw. But later on all of that.

Later today I will also talk ONE LAST TIME about breast feeding. So the few men that read this can rest easy that today will be the last day of boob talk. But b/c of the response I'm going to be mega-brave and post just one photo here. So men, scroll past if you want…


Oh man I love that kid.


Of course I love all my kids like this the best! Sound asleep. Ahhhh. Sweet relief as Chris would say!

So I have things for you later. Aren't you just on the edge of your seat?

TODAY:  I have a session with a sweet little 4 month old, the girls+Gray are being introduced to their new Tuesday sitter, Miss Barb and there had better be a mnt dew in my immediate future or my body will continue to move like a slug and this day will never get going. Did I tell you our washer broke? And when the repair man (my MOTHER suggested) came yesterday, after already having gone 4 days without doing a load, he said "Miss, you're not going to like this, but I can't fix a Kenmore b/c I'm from GE." Awesome. Thanks mom. So we now have to wait until Thursday for the Sears guy to come out. This morning when I realized Bailey had no underwear I called my mom in desperation and she came down, in her nightgown, at 7am, to pick up a basket of laundry and bring Bails clean underwear! So she really is the best mom in the world! I won't doubt that again! Thanks mom!

It's cold but sunny and my creative legs are getting stretched today! It's a good one! Enjoy it!

our favorite game. hands down.

I love playing games with the girls. Bailey is finally at the age where she is starting to understand rules and how to follow them. Parker, not so much, but she loves to "play" along with us too. And I would MUCH rather play a game with them b/c I feel like they are learning so much (and it's easy to have Gray on the floor playing next to us while we play together).

But do you ever stand in Target, staring at the massive wall of games and just wonder which ones your kids will LOVE and which will be a big fat waste of money? We have bought some SERIOUS duds. And of course there are the classic favorites like Candy Land and Hi-Ho Cherry-O (both of which my kids LOVE). But there is one game that we play literally every single day. And have for months now. (A big huge THANK YOU to Aunt Abbie for giving us this game!!!)


Found HERE

Seriously. This is the best game I've found for little people ever. We love it.

What you do is start with the tree:


Then you start putting the leaves in all of those little holes… the girls are really good at this part! AND it takes a while which I love b/c it stretches time out…


When all the leaves are in they get to put in the bees… they love this part also!


The bees rest on the bed of leaves. Then you start pulling out the leaves, everyone taking turns, and the one with the FEWEST bees wins.


(This was just me and Parker playing, my 2 year old)

Of course the girls LOVE it when the bees fall out so neither one cares about the fact that you don't actually want the bees! They laugh every single time they all start falling!


Here's Gray watching… he will sit there the entire time just watching them play! It's adorable.


And do you see that little curl in the back of his head? I wonder if when the humidity returns he'll have curls like the girls?

So there you have it! The best game we've ever owned!

And just b/c these were taken the same day… and b/c he is so stinkin cute…



The response about the breast feeding photos was awesome today! I got so many emails I will be answering them as fast as I can tonight before bed! So if you are waiting for the password, it's coming!

I really love that I've gotten emails from both moms and other photographers. I love it that moms just want to see the photos to remind them of their time breast feeding or to just see a beautiful moment captured. I can imagine that in a few years I would love to see images like those and remember my own time nursing. And I also love that other photographers want to see what I did (which is nothing spectacular, let me tell you!) so that they might encourage their clients to allow them to capture these moments as well.

I've been so inspired all day by the stories and photos that people have shared with me I've already asked someone to allow me to come photograph them breast feeding their baby (and I might be looking for a few more models for this so drop me a line if you'd be interested in letting me photograph you nursing!!!). I'm not sure what I will do with all of these images, but I've got some ideas cooking so we'll see.

I just hate that there are still people out there that think it is gross or weird or not normal. But to be absolutely honest with you, I used to feel that way years ago too. I always told myself I would never breast feed my babies b/c it was disgusting to think about a baby sucking on me. Oh my goodness how WRONG I was. If I could join La Leche and help every new mom find the joy in nursing I would! Maybe in my next life. Truly, I have enjoyed this aspect of mothering more than I ever could have imagined!


This little blog is about to hit 100,000 visits this week… anyone have a good idea for a giveaway?

vellum, breasts and thanks.

I'm so excited to show you these photos for two big reasons.


First, how cute is this front door?

Ok no, that's not my first reason, I just love those topiaries!

The first reason is b/c I love supporting WOMEN-run businesses. It is my true passion right behind being a mom and a photographer and a designer and a few other things. I really do try to support women owned and run businesses as much as I can b/c I'm in the trenches with them. I KNOW how hard it is. And I support that.

And this front door and all of these photos are from a store owned and run by a group of amazing women; Vellum.


It's located in my home town of Kirkwood Missouri but they do sell items online also: HERE.


I love shops in old homes. Kirkwood rocks.

Anyway, the OTHER reason I am excited to share these is because I now have a few prints hanging here!


It is my very first attempt at advertising!


The funniest part is that my mistakes seem to be running rampant lately as I meant to order two canvas wraps to hang here and instead accidentally ordered canvas prints. Which meant I had to pay almost double and have them framed as well. Lesson learned I guess!

And to treat you to some more Vellum goodness…


How cute is the way they display their birth announcements? Love it!


And I LOVE that they keep their big ordering books in an old crib! I love creative ideas like this!



How cute would these cups be at your child's birthday party? I love them!


Really, they have so much cute stuff! I'm so excited to be able to hang some prints there! Check them out!


My new favorite photo…


Even though my smile is frightening (seriously, why can't I just look CUTE in self-portraits?), it's one of the ONLY photos of Grayson and I!

Actually, this is from yesterday when I took photos of him nursing. Oh yes I did.

In the last two days I have gotten lots of emails asking questions about my blog and one I've gotten quite a bit is about how I keep it real and stay professional. The honest answer is that keeping it real is way more important to me than attempting to be professional, b/c I'm really not. Professional that is. I try, but yeah.

Keeping it real and showing photos of me breast feeding… there is a line people! HOWEVER. I think the shots (taken in a dim room with a shaking hand trying to hold a heavy camera while keeping a squirmy baby latched) are beautiful and I am totally willing to share. Mainly b/c I encourage ALL nursing mommas to let me photograph them during those intimate moments. These days are so brief. And the moments so beautiful.

SO! If you want to see a few photos of a nursing baby from the momma's perspective, shoot me an email and I will send you a password to the gallery on my website. I'm going to monitor this b/c you do see it ALL in one photo and I want to stop creeps from viewing too much you know?

But if you are a mom or a photographer I would love to share these. They are NOT technically good and there aren't many (and you will know me INTIMATELY afterwards!), but it is something I think every woman should do with their baby… even with a point and shoot… and I am willing to put myself out there to demonstrate how beautiful they can be!


And because it is almost midnight and this week has been sleepless, I want to end by saying HI to the 1800 people that came here today! Holy cow!

And thanks to all of you that have commented or emailed congratulating me about the FreshBlog award! Really, I don't know how the Oscar award winners do it! (haha!) I'm excited and embarrassed and humbled and so many other things right now. Grateful is at the top of that long list though. So thank you. Again and again!

I can't wait to get to know so many of you better!