Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Monday, August 31

At a Loss... FreeWritin'.

Just got back from Tucson, AZ. A whirlwind 36-hour trip that happened so suddenly... Such a terrible reason... Such an awful last week or two, actually...
I went to Arizona because when I got the call that my sweet cousin Jami had lost her husband after fighting for weeks to get him well again, I just knew I had to be there. I had to try to show my pain and love and support in SOME way... though my small presence is nothing in the depths of her grief and overwhelming fear right now. Even so, I just.... needed to get there. Crying so hard I made myself sick... hurting so hard for this little family who never in a million years anticipated this future. Oh, Jami. Oh, Kason. I wish..... I wish.... I wish so many things.

I am at a loss. For a lot of things these days. I am at a loss to know how to help a person going through what Jami is going through. I ache to "fix" something, ANYTHING, to ease her pain. Which is, of course, impossible.

I am at a loss for words. For Jami. For her family. For people who ask me about it.

And... I am acutely feeling LOSS in general. It's been a terribly frightening, uncomfortable month altogether. I'm.... still reeling. I know I've been cryptic, and alluded to fear a lot recently... And also said I'd explain eventually. I guess this is as good a time as any. Last Thursday, I was eight weeks pregnant. Last Friday, I was not. Still a fresh wound, and discovered only two days after the terrible shock of Kam's death.

I have to say, though... if there ever is a GOOD time for something like losing an early pregnancy, this would be it-- losing something so small in the face of something so BIG-- it lends a deep, rich, poignant perspective. Truly, I am sad for myself. I am. But. What I have lost is NOTHING like what sweet Jami has lost. What her sweet son has lost. And in the face of my own small faith in eternity, I am forced to see and to understand PERSPECTIVE. That I have my burdens to bear, but in comparison to many people, those who are sick and those who are oppressed and those who are alone and those who are suffering-- in comparison to those, my burdens are but a small load. And I am truly blessed with the life I have.

Still, I am at a loss. Experiencing loss, trying to understand loss... I am at a loss. And I am so far off center. I am not myself these days, and I miss me. I guess... well, I AM me... still. I feel like me. I just don't feel like doing the mundane nonsense and routine I've been doing so much lately. I don't feel like the foggy half-living is doing it for me. I feel, these days, more like: skipping laundry AGAIN and playing with Noah. Taking time off of work and being kind to ME. Reading rich, deep, good books. Listening to quiet, insightful music. Praying. A lot. Walking outside. Hugging Joe for longer. Criticizing less. WASTING TIME ON FACEBOOK LESS. Working less.

Altogether not bad things.... All good things... And all in the name of healing my heart and my spirit. Trying to peel away the useless, the waste, the fog, and get to what really matters again. And yet, even with that sounding so marvelous and ideal, I must confess, I am not really totally succeeding there either... Because, for now still, at least, I am still kind of bummed. And some pockets of the day I just want to do NOTHING-- not the old patterns, not the new patterns... just NOTHING but get through that pocket, that mood. So.... I continue to be gentle with myself. Tell myself I can allow some healing a bit longer.

And... it's been such a strange circle of affirmation, despair, hope, loss, shut-down, connection, goals, understanding, discouragement, courage, and sorrow... all cycling over and over through me and around me with my own loss, with Jami's loss, with the unexpected gifts coming out of this time-- the friends and the notes and the laughter in strange places and the human contact-- the hugs and hands and love...Just strange. And terrible. And wonderful.

And I hope.... I hope it refines me into a better ME, eventually. I hope this is a time meant to help mold me, to change me, to remind me of TRUTH, and the beauty of the gospel. I hope I stay awake at least a little after these upsets. The awareness that life is precious, that people are with us only for a while... that we need to follow through on the promptings and impulses we feel... That we need to give and give and give some more, if we can... The awareness that I AM NOT IN CONTROL HERE.... and I need to have faith.

I'm.... tired. I should get to bed. (Yikes... just looked at the time. Oops.) I just needed to.... write a bit. End the weekend with some pondering. And... to release some of this deep, strange emotion.

If you get a minute, will you go visit Jami's blog? Will you tell her I sent you and that you are thinking of her? She needs... prayers. She needs... any strength that can be sent her way. I wish I lived right next door to her. I wish I could help. Somehow. Singing at the funeral is a minuscule gift to give, and I am left knowing it was not enough.

I am left with so many images from the weekend with them that haunt me... and yet, I am also left with awe at Jami's strength and faith in the face of a future that is nothing short of terrifying.

And with that, my heart hurting again, I'm going to go.... But I want to leave a few photographs of Jami's family, from last summer. From a happy time. Images I hope will be a comfort to Kason when he is older... When he tries to remember his dad's incredible smile.

Thanks for letting me freewrite a bit.... I'm off to bed.

-Em


A note: If you want to help, please send email donations for Jami and Kason (through PayPal) to habanfundraiser@gmail.com. Donate by clicking below.

Thursday, August 27

A Few More Favorites |St. Louis Portrait Photographer|

Before I head out of town, I want to show you a few last favorites from Jewlia's session. Funny enough, they're not of Jewlia at all:

These are her incredibly sweet grandparents, the owners of the gorgeous farm we shot at. And as you can see, they got into the spirit of the evening of photos.

I . LOVE. THESE. PHOTOS. Period.
And.... Do they not just win your heart and make you feel that there is still so much good left in the world?

(Joe, my love.... Let's find our way to THIS... slowly, happily, and surely.)

*

I am off tomorrow... headed to Arizona to support my sweet cousin Jami and her little son during a difficult time. Prayers are welcome on their behalf. I'll try to find more words to talk about it when I return. For now.... I don't have much to say... yet.

Tuesday, August 25

Film, Pt. 2- The Bessie Session |St. Louis Portrait Photographer|

Two bessies + evening in St. Louis + recently seen "500 Days of Summer" + charming blue vintage bike + my recent craving to play with my old film camera + two rolls of Fuji 200 ISO =















=
**swoon!**

(I loved it all, my friends. LOVED. And what a trick to only get 48 shots to do it in. A VERY good exercise for all you photogs out there. GO! Do it!

And Beckie and Kyle and Jenna.... You can come be my muses ANYtime. Just bring that bike back with ya.)

*
Oh, and thank you for the comment love for my lovely subject Jewlia. My favorites? Well, obviously the ones I chose to show are my TOP of the whole session.... But if I had to only pick two favorites, they'd be the red barn yellow balloon shot at the end where she is gazing pensively into the distance, and the blue cloud wall with balloon. Oh, and the moustache-behind-a-tree...
And look for a few last GREAT ones from her session. Probably tomorrow...

Monday, August 24

Wildly Creative | St. Louis Senior Portrait Photographer | (Sort of!)

Note: I am taking a bit of a hiatus for the next week or two... So during this break, instead of current events from my own life, I am going to be blogging sessions from this Spring/Summer busy season I simply have never been able to catch up on. I hope when I return full-force, I'll be back in the zone and able to be my usual optimistic, over-analytical, zany, life-loving self. Til then, enjoy an overload of images. And please still comment, if you feel so inspired. I totally admit to checking my email for comments. I'm a validation junkie that-a-way. Ha!

Catch-Up Session
This is Jewlia, a former student of mine, and a wildly creative and inspired soul. She had an unconventional senior year, so she never got the photographs we always planned. So, a year later (which makes these Not Quite Senior Portraits), we got together to play and stretch the conventions and boundaries of a typical senior session. It became more of an "artist session"... Both she and I collaborating on wildly creative ideas.

This girl amazes me. I love when someone I was supposed to inspire instead inspires me.

Thanks, J. This was a perfect evening.










{psst... if you tell me YOUR favorites and why, I'll tell you mine...}

Friday, August 21

Friday Randoms: Basil and Other Stuff

* Noah helped me plant some basil the other day... Take a look:


* I completely credit my friend Katie and her Mozzarella Caprese while I was in Utah for Noah's and my acquisition of a little basil plant of our own. YUM.

* Other randomness... Hm. Yesterday I attempted a haircut on Noah. My first time with a pair of clippers. I was shaking the whole time. Clearly NOT good for a steady haircut... Haha. But he doesn't look TOO stupid, and he still has his ears... so we'll call it a success. (Just don't look too closely!!)

* My current daily schedule, loosely:
7:00-7:30 Noah and I wake
7:30-8:00 Breakfast
8:-9:00 Morning Art, dishes, playing around, other random chores
9:00-10:00 Sesame Street
10:00-12:30 either we run errands, do stuff around the house, or get out and do something fun
12:30-2:30 Noah's lunch/naptime. I will either usually WORK (*sigh*) or take a nap of my own. Sometimes I just waste time online. Ha!
3:00-6:00 I either have a photo shoot, or Joe, Noah and I go out to play, or we go to dinner, or we just hang out and laugh at Noah's antics in our living room.
6:00 we begin dinner stuff, Joe is often getting ready for work...
6:30 Dinner
7:00 Noah's bath
7:30 Noah's bedtime
8:00 I begin my "work shift"... Editing, emails, orders, bookkeeping... Usually with a movie or other entertainment playing behind my Photoshop screen. My two nights off: Tuesday (for Joe's WoW) and Sunday (Sabbath day holy and all that).
12:00 my PLANNED bedtime.
1:00-1:30 am More often my REAL bedtime.

* Simple little routine, with little variance, but it is working for us. Lots of family time, lots of mama time... and still time for work. The only thing missing from this that I REALLY miss and am trying to re-integrate is art time... Projects and cupcakes and sewing and altered books.... and .... *sigh* MISS IT a LOT.

* I am teaching Noah to sing "Popular" from the musical Wicked. Um, it's ADORABLE. He does the Kristen Chenoweth squeals, loves the spoken "you're welcome", and the sustained finale note. Pretty much it KILLS me every time.

* I will make THIS someday. I pledge it here and now.

* I adore THIS article.

* I LOVE my new cover design for the keepsake photo books I include with all my sessions. It is CUTE. See?
And it is EVEN CUTER in hardcover, which is an upgrade option. (The top two and bottom two in the picture are hardcover. The two in the middle are the softcover.) So appealing to have this little book just filled with cute photos. LOVE. I kinda always just want to keep them for myself.

* The one indulgence I get to have more than a lot of mamas is going to movies. I have not been uncomfortable going alone since early college years, so when Joe has his computer night, if I can't round up a friend to come along, I sometimes just treat myself to a movie anyway. LOVE it. The only thing I miss--- going WITH Joe. Man, I miss that. The snuggles in the dark, the talking about the movie afterwards.... *sigh* Someday. We'll get that kind of time together again soon.

* But speaking of time together, we DID get a date night last Saturday. My sister Beckie babysat and we headed off into the wild blue yonder. Joe was in charge of planning, and he had this elaborate plan to go to Sikeston for the famous "throwed rolls" at Lambert's... But he miscalculated the distance and by the time we got on the road, we would not have made it there in time. So sad. It was the cutest plan. So, please don't laugh-- you'll die when you hear what we spontaneously decided to do instead.... Okay, I'll tell you. (So random.) We stopped in ARNOLD, a hick little nothin' town south of St. Louis, and we chowed down at PONDEROSA. Seriously. And don't blame Joe on this. It was all my idea. And we went into it tongue-in-cheek all along. I mean, when we walked in, the first thing we saw was three big men in line in front of us with the most horrifying mullets ever. Now, I am one to appreciate glorious mullets-- well-kept, groomed... These... Well, these were NOT. There was no mullet-ego with these men. No having one for the sake of having one. It was just.... a given. Who they were born to be. Thereby omitting any need to actually take CARE of the hair. So UGLY. Ha! And....well... that was our date night. Mullets in Arnold. All-you-can-eat cheap food. But ya know? We had the BEST time. Talked and talked and talked and laughed.... Held hands... I LOVED it.

* I have random'ed enough, methinks. So.... On that note. Tell me a recent story of your own: what have YOU done that is out of the ordinary in the last two or three weeks? Good or bad? I wanna know!

(and if you like the Friday Randoms, I was inspired by my friend Mel, who has done them a lot recently... So go do your own. 'K? Or Saturday Randoms. Whatevs. If you do, tell me in the comments and I'll list them here with links...)

Wednesday, August 19

Dear Someone:


Dear Someone Who Loves Me and Clearly Knows Me Well:

I got home today from an impromptu family outing to the CityGarden, and, laden down with diaper bag, wet clothes, towels, and lunch in a to-go bag, I stepped over the pile of mail pushed through our mail slot. Took one step away, stopped, then turned around and went back. Peered closer at the pile. And saw.....

the latest issue of "Real Simple" magazine. With MY name on it.

*squeeeeeee!!!!*

Whoever you are, you are SPOT on. I adore this magazine. It is pretty much a PERFECT magazine for me, from the gorgeous photographs to the clean lines and excellent ideas... The inspiration. And I have never subscribed to it because it it a luxury. Something I can browse at the store and sigh over, but then put back and let go. But to have my very own subscription? TRUE DECADENCE.

Whether my giver intends to reveal themselves or whether it was meant to be an anonymous treat, let me just say--- THANK YOU. This is awesome. I am still giddy. THANK YOU.

And now that I see my OWN reaction to such an unexpected treat, it makes me think... Hm... How can I pay this forward? I'll be pondering that a bit more as I go. 'Cause everyone deserves this bubble of unexpected joy once in a while.

Anyway, to my giver, I am deeply grateful. Have a sunny day!

Love,

Em

Tuesday, August 18

True Courage {St. Louis Family Photographer}

Meet Laurie Jo:
Mom of two feisty brilliant daughters, stepmom to a third beautiful girl... Wife to a sweet hubby... Full of smiles and life and joy and optimism. When you are around Laurie Jo, you cannot help but smile along with her. She's irresistible.
She's also in the midst of the fight of her life. See, Laurie Jo has breast cancer.

And she contacted me back in April to see if I knew of any photographers in her area who would be willing and comfortable enough with her situation to take some "cancer photos"-- some images celebrating her journey and telling the truth about the good and the bad.

And though she was in Maryland, I just happened to be travelling to DC in May and told her immediately I would be honored to have the chance. And a session was booked and organized.

It was one of the coolest sessions I've had the opportunity to be a part of. Take a look...

True Support:
A Sense of Humor... Throughout the Family:
"How Do I Look, Ma?"

I Love You, No Matter What:
See, the point of Laurie Jo wanting this session wasn't to grieve the loss of her energy, her health, her HAIR. The point was, she wanted to show her daughters (and I think herself) that there was still JOY in their life. That there was still LOVE and LIGHT and reason to celebrate. That no mater what, they had each other.
(I love this next one so much...Everybody laughing, everybody IN the moment...)



And oh, what an incredible energy Laurie Jo had the whole time I was in her presence. Her FAITH and her JOY were powerful.

And... I am humbled. For all the fear I might feel in my life, I have NEVER been faced with the kind of fear Laurie Jo is facing EVERY SINGLE DAY. And she is teaching me how to have more courage. She is BEAUTIFUL, isn't she??

(Thank you, LJ... For letting me share some of your most intimate portraits... For letting me be with your family that morning. For showing me what courage is. For being my friend.)

*

P.S. I'll need to check with her, but Laurie Jo keeps a blog about her journey with cancer. Currently, she is done with treatments. YAYAYAY!!!!
If she doesn't mind people coming by, I'll post the address here or in the comments... Check back.