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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Me:

Me:

Friday, April 30

Miss Teagan | St. Louis Children's Photographer |

Oh my goodness, we had fun with this session!!

Teagan was 10 months old when we did her session, and can I just say that I am convinced that 7-10 months is the BEST time for a baby session? Never mind the traditional six months or one year mark... This age has been golden for me! The kiddos are lively and happy and curious, but mostly content to stay in one place still, and just sit there being incredibly cute. And all my dorky, insane, loud, embarrassing actions and tricks work like MAGIC on them! The disenchanted two-year olds make me work harder for my shots... but 10 month olds like Teagan? She gifted me with smile after smile and coy look after coy look. Because of this, it was a heady, addicting session. :)

Add to that, Teagan's mom was SO into the planning part of this session. It was the best collaboration, and she came armed with an incredible array of props and possibilities. Teagan was so incredibly good and sweet and we were all having such a good time that I confess--- I overshot a TON. We just kept going and going. It was too fun to stop! So... get ready. This little spunkster I'm finally getting around to showing you has about a zillion outfit changes and "looks"... And I don't regret a minute of the extra time I spent with this whole production.

I'll stop yabbering... Enjoy Miss Teagan:

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

Teagan

And oh, these fruit loops--- What a crack up!! Teagan had only had Gerber puffs at this point in her life, but Mom gave me the okay to play with the Fruit Loops and Teagan was in SUGAR HEAVEN. Fistful after fistful of the stuff, and barely a moment to spare to look at the camera. It was a perfect end to the whole session!

Thanks, Debbie for making my job so FUN! Teagan is a DOLL, through and through!

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Thursday, April 29

Calling Out For Ideas... I'll Make It a Contest!

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I need some help, folks.

So... With the madness of moving to this house, then the onset of the busy season for photography... the uncertainty of the future, and on and on, my little teammate and I have slipped out of any kind of effective routine to our days. We were doing really well with our Morning Art, but that has slipped terribly. I default to the television WAY more than I care to admit, especially since we've moved into a house with a DVR and Noah knows he can request favorite shows at any time.

We do a snack or two, and we have a pretty good naptime routine (1-3ish)... And we do get out and about to do fun things a couple of times a week.

But.... I think it is time for some more structure. Especially since Noah is getting to a really great age for learning more structured things. Especially since summer is coming and that always makes me fondly recall my own childhood and our summer routine. Especially since I have been so busy that I haven't gotten to sew in ages, and I think I could pencil it in if I had a routine.
Especially since I think it's time for Noah to learn how to "free play" without whining for me so much.

So here's the deal.

I want you to design a daily routine for us.

Think about what has worked for you if you are a parent yourself... Or think about what you think should make up a toddler-day even if you aren't a parent. The sky's the limit here. Your entry can be whimsical and silly, designed just to make me laugh (or dream big!). Your entry can be rigid and detailed, or provide for lots of "and/or's". You can draw one with little sketches and scan it in to submit it, or you can type one out on Microsoft Word and email it... or you can jot it on scratch paper and take a photo of it... Or just list it in the blog comments. You can make it "Emily-centric", thinking about Noah and me specifically, or you can make it more generalized.

You don't have to design seven whole days... unless you wanna. Mostly, I think we'd be good with one basic day's routine. You don't have to stress that I will hate parts of yours and so disregard the whole thing: the final goal here isn't for me to actually adopt one submitted routine with no modifications... My goal is to enjoy your ideas and pick and choose from each of them to make up my ideal new routine. The fun is in making it a contest and seeing what comes my way. I love the idea of sifting through dozens of individual routines and enjoying your ideas.

And the contest part? I figure I will choose my favorite three and give each of them a little handmade prize--- probably picnic-related, since the summer months are coming. And that means ANYONE can win... ya just have to submit an entry.

To do so, you can email me at: southerlandgirl at yahoo dot com and attach a photo or document. Or you can post your entry right in the comments. Pop by the comments even if you email me, just to tell me you did.... we can keep tabs of entries that way.

I'll run this contest for one week--- With three winners announced on Friday morning, May 7th. I'll even blog some of the entries I get throughout the week leading up to the winner.

It's kinda like the poster contests you used to do in elementary school--- all submissions taped up in the hallway.... Three with blue ribbons on them, but all of them getting a white ribbon for entering.

So doll it up, ya'll. Make yours fun or pretty or insightful or just USEFUL.... and we'll all get some great ideas from seeing all of them.

Sound good?

Okay, GO! I need these things!! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Oh, and if you are having trouble getting started, a few notes about what Noah and I typically love to do:

~ we love outings and field trips
~ we love books and stories
~ we are musically inclined
~ we are artistically inclined
~ we could use a bit more exercise
~ Noah naps for 1.5 to 2.5 hours ish
~ I don't work during the day, so you don't have to factor that in
~ I'd be cool with an hour (max) of tv a day
~ I'd be up for trying some "pre school" stuff

Is this getting the wheels turning??!

Wednesday, April 28

Lamby's ABCs: Noah's Favorite Book

Remember Noah's Lamby? the one he calls "Mai"? For Christmas this past year, I had the most brilliant brainstorm, and even though I (as usual) procrastinated the actual creation of the project, I managed to get this great gifty together in the nick of time to give it to him for his Christmas gift. Introducing Lamby's ABC Book, by yours truly:

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It's a hardcover gift book... Filled with photographs of Mai with objects that go with the letters of the alphabet. Each page has it's own letter, and a gently smiling lamby posing for Noah's enjoyment.

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Believe you me... Getting moments alone with Lamby where Noah wasn't tagging along was TOUGH. 'Cause obviously, the best time to do this sort of thing is when the kiddo is sleeping. But.... Well, Noah SLEEPS with Lamby! So.... It was a bit tricky. Also, since I did this whole thing at the eleventh hour, there was some scrambling to get things to fit the letters I needed. As a result, the "K" page has my half-used bottle of ketchup. Awkward. But kinda funny. :)

And then, of course, I had to include Noah himself when I got to "N".... So I got to take care of two tasks-- photo for the book, and a memory-preserving photo of my baby with his lovey.
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(Like the "O is for Octagon"? Noah calls stop signs "octagons". It makes me smile EVERY TIME. The "O" page preserves this fleeting memory of Noah's early years...)

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And there ya have it! I've been meaning to post about the book for AGES, but.... well... ya know. Life gets in the way sometimes.

Anyhoo.

If you love the book enough to own one, you are welcome to buy one, actually! (Not that I think there's a huge market for Noah's grungy ol' lamby as a supermodel book subject. Ha!) But I thought I'd mention it, for fun...

The info/link is HERE:

Lamby's ABC Book

It has a softcover option for $16.95 +shipping/tax or a hardcover for $29.95 +shipping + tax.

And alternately, check out Blurb.com and ponder the possibility of making an ABC book of your own! There are a million ways to do your own take on this. And the kiddos LOVE having a book that feature their own life.

So. Smile. Enjoy. And thanks for peeking!

Saturday, April 24

The Bookends of My Week:

ACK! It is Saturday already! I swear I have had a million thoughts and a gajillion images I've wanted to blog about, thought about it as I drift to sleep at night or as I am driving, or as I am making dinner... And then, when I am finally in front of the computer, LIFE, WORK, OTHER PEOPLES' NEEDS suddenly consume all the time I get...

and it becomes Saturday without me even knowing how I got here.

And this night is quickly running out of time... as I prepare to get to bed and sleep a decent amount so I can drive to Wisconsin with energy tomorrow morning. I get to go meet my dear friend Stef's new little baby Sam, and hold him and photograph him and smell his newborn baby hair...

So. While I want to post much more, I am afraid all I can do right now is give you the bookends of my week... Two sessions that filled my creative well in ways I was really craving. Two little sessions that both came about in a last-minute, crazy-idea kind of way. The bookends of my week cradled the rest of the insane days and allowed me to feel a bit more in tune with my ART, and not just my JOB.

Monday was all about Joseph and Sao:

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Mama is from Liberia, Africa, and is a recent newcomer to my church congregation. She is deeply beautiful in such a wordless way... and her small new baby is, too. I was humbled to spend time with them... and I was timid, in a way-- wanting to make her know her little man was safe in my hands. Hoping she knew I was trying to do something beautiful for them.

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Then came Tuesday and groceries, and Wednesday and print orders and bookkeeping, and Thursday and swimming pool play dates, and Friday and sessions, and this morning and early trips to the train station to drop off a friend..... and at the end of all that bustle was Ariel:

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Lovely, poised, brink-of-adulthood Ariel... Who let me get buzzy with excitement about the carnival a mile down the road... and even better, let me drag her through the RAIN and a TORNADO WARNING to get just a few shots in her vintage dress among the carnies. She was the delightful end to a whirlwind week.

And we survived the severe weather. Just in case you wondered.

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And.... I am out of time... for now.

I'll be back in town Tuesday, likely still on a newborn high from baby Sam... But until then, may your weekends and Mondays be MARVELOUS. Thanks for being you--- friends, family, lurkers, and so on... Miss you!

Monday, April 19

She'mell, My Fierce Beautiful Model {St. Louis Senior Photographer}

Oh Ms. Sha'Mell--- this senior was a delight to play with when we had our session. She came ready to pose, ready to act, and ready to just be gorgeous. Her skin was incredible: rich and totally blemish-free. And she laughed so easily... even when ALL my jokes were lame. Which they always are.

Take a look--- this girl is FABULOUS!

Sha'mell Senior

Sha'mell Senior

Sha'mell Senior

Sha'mell Senior

And her EYES? Wow... they were so deep and dark... You could get lost in them!

Sha'mell Senior

Sha'mell Senior

Sha'mell Senior

Sha'mell Senior

Her spunky lil' car made a cameo...

Sha'mell Senior

Sha'mell Senior

Plus, did you see her headbands? This girl is a girl after my own heart. I kinda wanted to borrow them from her!

Thanks, Sha'Mell, for trusting me to navigate our adventure, and for giving me so many FIERCE great looks. :)

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In other news, many of you have asked about Joe and the Bell's Palsy... I wanted to report that after a week or so of steroid treatments, he is feeling nearly 100% again. PHEW! Thank goodness this freak ailment is usually short-term. It was REALLY bringing him down. And plus, it's just nice to see him SMILE again... not just smirk with half his face.

Love that boy.

Also, we are still COMPLETELY in the dark about what comes next for us. Still waiting on four schools to tell us yay or nay... and quite honestly, the longer it takes, the less hope we have. So. Heck-- we may just stay put for a while... While we regroup and figure out a plan B.

That's us... How 'bout YOU?

Saturday, April 17

Crappy Days? Crank the Music!

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Honestly, sometimes there's no way around it. Life is ROUGH. And some seasons seem to just keep kicking when your down. Nothing feels like it is going your way, people hurt you, you get a ticket or dent your car... and then you get sick on top of all of that. I'm generalizing here, but if you know me at all, or have followed along for the last few months, you'll understand where I'm coming from. We have had LOTS of challenges thrown our way in the last nine months or so. We are REALLY being tested... put through that refining fire.

And while most days, I manage to keep my optimism... keep smiling... Keep creating and singing and hoping... There are just those days when I cave in to the fear, the anger, the hurt... and I settle in for a good long cry... Give in to the dark cloud I've been pushing away for weeks.

And don't let ANYONE tell you to "cheer up" when you finally allow that mood to breathe. Because I absolutely believe that one in a while, we all NEED it. We NEED a good cry or a good punching bag session or a good run or anything that finally allows some of the pressure to boil off. As long as it is a healthy release (not, say, drinking or drugs or using a PERSON as a punching bag, etc.)... I think it is good to give in once in a while and BE SAD. BE MAD. BE SCARED.

I have found that if I stop pretending it is okay, and allow myself to stop tiptoeing AROUND the issues and feel THROUGH them, I am really better able to truly grow and find inspiration and guidance for getting to the next step. Sometimes ya gotta just let yourself BE IN THAT DARK EMOTION. Pass through, not around.

I've had a couple of these "sessions" this week. Feeling THROUGH the ugly feeling instead of distracting myself AROUND them. It's not been fun. I'm not glorifying this as some kind of incredibly glorious cleansing. It basically SUCKS to give in and bawl your eyes out. It hurts. But...
I don't know... in the pain this week, there has also been TRUTH. And a necessary humbling.

And I feel better prepared to plow ahead and get through this season. I even feel stronger, having faced the ugly feelings and survived.

Anyway... I'm nowhere near the edge of this big, deep lake of trouble. But I'm hangin' on with the help of God, family, and beloved friends. With the help of faith and prayer and music.

Which brings me to what prompted this post in the first place. I was working out this morning (don't fall down dead, I know. It's a miracle. Ha!) and listening to my iPod. Scrolling through til the RIGHT song came on. You know--- the song that FITS your mood. And my sweet little iPod was reading my mind and giving me lots of really good songs. And I began to think about how much I need/love/use music to help me through the tough stuff. Surely I'm not alone in this?

So as I was driving home, I compiled a "Crappy Days" playlist in my head... not the one that is supposed to buoy you with peppiness (you know, like with "Sweet Caroline" and "Dancing Queen" on it), but the one that lets you just SINK into the mood and feel CRAPPY... with some of the tunes helping me wallow, some of them showing me a glimpse of hope, and some just being "sing loud and with feeling" songs.

And I thought... well... Maybe I'll share them with you. List 'em here... and then, if anyone is feelin' crappy too, and wants a mix for their own, they can comment, or email... Even pick and choose the ones they want/don't want from my list so their CD is a bit more "custom". And I will TOTALLY make them and mail them. I'm not kidding. I'll even use that collage above as the CD cover. Haha! :)

So anyway... even if no one else wants my Crappy Days mix, here's what I'd put on it.... Based on how I feel this week:

1. Nothing Else Matters....Metallica
2. Hold On....Sarah McLachlan
3. Everybody's Fool....Evanescence
4. Dante's Prayer.... Lorena McKennit
5. Saturday Night.... Bon Jovi
6. Be Still My Soul.... either Lisbeth Scott or my BYU choir
7. The Climb.... Miley Cyrus
8. Anything But Ordinary...Avril Lavigne
9. I Can't Make Music... The Carpenters
10. Funny.... City of Angels
11. I Still Believe.... Miss Saigon
12. Top of the World....Dixie Chicks
13. Over the Rainbow....Eva Cassidy
14. Calling All Angels....Jane Siberry/k.d.lang
15. Pie Jesu....Rutter's Requiem
16. Going Under.... Evanescence
17. Sage of Lamberene....Kurt Bestor/Sam Cardon
18. Not a Day Goes By.... Merrily We Roll Along
19. Nightminds....Missy Higgins
20. Mama.... My Chemical Romance

And... hm... Turns out I am more wanting slow, moody songs.. Not too many high-energy songs here. Oh well.

Anyway...

There's one way I cope... Music, as much as possible. As the honest truth is---- even with things being as rough as they are.... even if things get worse.... I am okay. I have the most incredible circle of love around me. The most amazing blessings being poured out upon me. so when I am done feeling icky, sad, and scared, I really DO feel good again. Not just good enough.... but GOOD. There is joy to be found in these dark seasons. In fact, I believe that we have an even more acute ability to experience joy when we're in the middle of heartache. The contrast makes the good stuff even better.

Anyhoo... That's all I got for ya. Seriously, though... If you want a CD, lemme know. Tell me what songs you want skipped... or whatever. :)

Laters, all...

Thursday, April 15

The {L} Family {St. Louis Family Photographer}

It has been INCREDIBLY nice to have lovely weather once again... Getting to stretch my creaky outdoor photography muscles... seeing green grass again... I am in HEAVEN. Thank you Spring, for coming back year after year!! :)

Sharing a cute cute family session that made me smile the whole time I was with them. Their little guy, Weston, was only 7 or 8 months old, so he was so good at sitting up and staying put, letting me make goo-goo eyes at him and giving me the sweetest expressions. It was just an added bonus that some of my crazy faces and noises also got Mom and Dad smiling, too:

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

We did most of our session together in the gorgeous outdoors, but we saved a bit of the session for some studio time with cute Weston. We took him to my sunroom and caught some added portraits of just him... something to frame for grandmas and such. I love these!

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Leinweber Family

Thanks, Michelle, for letting me play with you guys for your family session. I had such a fun time, and think you are gorgeous. The boys are just your arm candy, actually. Heh heh!

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Thursday, April 8

Baby Harrison {St. Louis Newborn Photographer}

Oh my, there is nothing like a newborn. The beautiful mama from a few days ago brought this sweet baby into the world and only four days later let me come and capture his photographs for them. He was so sweet, so sleepy, and utterly perfect.

Meet Harrison, four days old:

Harrison newborn

Harrison newborn

Harrison newborn


And my absolute favorite set from our session-- Harrison as a sweet little garden gnome!
Harrison newborn

Harrison newborn


Harrison newborn

Harrison newborn

Harrison newborn

You can just see the love radiating from his mama and papa:
Harrison newborn

I love this one--- the wrinkled little shoulders, his stretchy sleepiness and his daddy's serenity...
Harrison newborn

and this one-- the beautiful line of both of their profiles... the smallest little kiss...
Harrison newborn

Harrison newborn

His daddy was so in love that he was keeping his hospital bracelet on as long as possible... to keep that moment he became a papa fresh in his mind. How sweet is that??

I am always in awe of the beauty of a new baby and the way it changes a family. I cannot wait until my next newborn session. (Ya hear me, Stef??)

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The boys and I are headed to Nashville tomorrow for a photography get-together weekend. We'll be away til Sunday. Don't miss us too much! :)