Tuesday, April 24, 2012

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      (Inspired by Lisa Holloway's magic with directional light and Thunder Gray seamless...)

 I think one of these is going to be my big Lucy canvas from her first year. One to go side-by-side with this one of Noah, aged 9 months.


If nothing else, these images are why I continue to work to be a better photographer.

A Little Here, a Little There | St. Louis Baby Newborn Photographer|

Monday, April 23, 2012

One of my 2012 business resolutions was to get back to blogging my sessions. After Lucy was born, it all kind of fell away from my task list--- just one more thing I couldn't manage on top of actually shooting and editing and working with my sweet clients.

So here it is, halfway through APRIL, and I have yet to make good on my resolution. But that stops today. I swear it, I will blog a few favorite photos from each of my sessions in 2012. I fear 2011 is lost forever to blogging, but 2012--- there's still time. Especially since the early months of the year are my slowest months, and I only have maybe 12 sessions total to catch up on.

Let's start at the very beginning: Sweet baby Jacob, born right as 2011 was ending. Since he was a winter baby, I thought it fitting to try this Pinterest idea on him:


And a sweet swaddle shot. I love how soft he looks in this photo!

My next session of the year was a mini session for baby Austin as part of his Baby's First Year series of sessions with me. This was his 4-month session, and he had definitely found his hands by then! He loved eating his fingers! Photobucket Photobucket

He was the perfect age for some lifestyle shots of him with his parents--- we got lots of smiles as he was snuggled and played with by mama and dad.

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I love doing the Baby's First Year plan with clients-- it is really cool to have a front row seat to watch a new little one's life expand from their first weeks to their first birthday. I start to feel like an auntie or godmother of sorts--- getting to know the parents more each time, getting to hold the sweet kiddo and learn how to make them smile--- celebrating their milestones with them as they sit, then stand, then crawl, then walk.

Here is a storyboard created at the end of a First Year experience-- part of the package. This sweet little one had her final photos at the end of December and this got created in early 2012, so it sort of fits my resolution to share it here... :)


And so. Sessions blogged. New beginnings. Feels good. Thanks, dear clients, for trusting me with your special moments. And thanks, dear readers, for letting me put on the pro photographer hat once in a while on the blog-- it IS a part of my daily life, and it's high time I got back to including it in my journals here. 

Happy new week to all! I've got something I'm shooting nearly every day this week. Feels BUSY to me. I hope I can mange some balance! Here's to balance for all of us!

Flashback Friday...

Friday, April 20, 2012

{Joe, casual in his scrub bottoms and scruffy [hot] face, sends me off to prom.}


{Noah, 5 months old, ready for an outing with mama and Aunt Beckie}

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{Mama got a new newborn hat photo prop in the mail and promptly tried it on 1.5 year old Noah. He was not a fan.}


{Joe was in the middle of his scary Bell's Palsy but was a trooper as I tested out my new Lensbaby lens on my boys.}


{Sweet newborn Lucy, Day 9. One of my favorite days of the 30 Days of Lucy}

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Today, 2012: 
{Lucy got to play at a babysitter's house so I could have a "mama's day out" and then a date with just Noah after his preschool. Our original plans were thwarted by scheduling and weather, so we instead went on a Metrolink Adventure and explored the Blue Line series of stations for the first time. We had lunch at a Subway and hiked .6 miles back to our car to save time and make sure we got back to Lucy less than a hour late. Fun... but glad I'm home and kids are tucked away for naptime.  It's chilly today! That caught me off guard. I want to hit up the Thurtene Carnival at Wash U. when Joe gets home, a crazy idea since we're driving to Columbia tonight and should just get going... But who knows? I'm always up for a carnival.}

Wow, Magazines! {Columbia Home Feature + more}

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

See this lovely magazine? It is a beautifully-produced regional publication that focuses on life in my hometown of Columbia, Missouri. Though it revolves around one medium-sized city, it is truly a quality production. Gorgeous art direction and writing, relevant articles and DIYs... Simply a well-done little magazine.


Peek a bit closer--- see the title about the superhero party?


I am ridiculously excited about this. You see, the assistant to the publisher, Lily Dawson, is sister to my bessie Genny. And one day, when working on her idea list for an upcoming issue, she randomly Googled "superhero birthday party" and my blog was one of the first hits she got. It was only after she read through my blog post that she realized SHE KNEW ME. Wild! So she approached me about using some of my images and my party ideas for a feature article.

Um, YES???? So cool! Check it out:

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They were incredibly generous with the amount of pages they dedicated to the article. I just kept turning pages and seeing more! I cannot tell you how thrilling it is to see all of these images in print. I loved assembling this party, LOVED throwing it, loved seeing my son so delighted with it... So it's such an honor that the magazine saw value in it as well.


I admit--- I am extra tickled to see this full-page shot of my cute son. He cracks me up!


To enjoy the entire issue of this incredibly well-done magazine, you can view their online archives and "turn the pages" here: Columbia Home Magazine/April-May.

Lily and Co., thank you for making my YEAR with this amazing feature. I am honored and delighted and still can't quite believe how amazing it all looks. Truly, thank you!


So. In addition to getting the beautiful copy of Columbia Home in my mail the other day, I also got a copy of this magazine. Anyone heard of it?? It's called Seeing the Everyday, and it is breathtaking.

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It came in my mail with no announcement, no fanfare.... And no name telling me who had seen fit to subscribe to it on my behalf. Remember THIS post? Getting a surprise subscription in the mail was so much fun back then, and it was ridiculously happy-making to have it happen again.

I mean, you guys--- this magazine. Oh, SWOOOOOOOON. It is GORGEOUS. It has no advertisements. It is on lovely heavy matte paper. And it is simply full of incredible photographs and small essays about embracing the ordinariness of our daily lives. Reflecting on where we've come from, dreaming of where we'll go... but mostly, it's about BEING IN THE MOMENT. Sound familiar? It is like this magazine was written just for me.  Every new page, every new photo I saw made me even more giddy and joyful. PERFECTION.

I took a few photos of the gift.... thinking I'd come back to the blog and do another dedication and thank you to Anonymous Giver.... And not 30 minutes after snapping the photos, as I'd reluctantly put the magazine down and was stirring a pot of pasta for our dinner, my phone rang. On the other line? My dear best friend Katie. First thing out of her mouth? 

"Did you get the magazine?"

Oh, Katie.... yes. Yes I absolutely did. And it is absolutely perfect. Thank you for knowing me so well. 


Anyone have a magazine they swoon over? Anyone ever gotten the perfect gift at the perfect time? To this DAY I think about my Real Simple subscription from Genny in 2009--- utterly PERFECT-- and am so tickled to add this experience to that pile. I am so lucky to have the friends I do. 

Happy Wednesday to y'all! Hope you get some happy mail of your own soon! 

Lucy: Completing the 12-Month Series

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Well, it's official: Lucy is 12 months old. One year. And it's probably a good thing this monthly photo project of mine was only planned for her first year:


Because my girl is officially DONE with this setup. DONE DONE DONE.


Yes, that IS tape. Yes, you can laugh. It was absolutely the ONLY way I could keep her in place long enough for the three photos I managed to get. Prior to the tape, she was either rolling over and crawling away, or pulling the fabric towards her on either side... and it was bringin' out the CRAZY in me, so Crazy Emily was the one who thought of the tape. Don't blame me!

And since the other months of these photos have included some close-up shots of Lucy in her various expressions, I used another holding technique to keep her in place long enough for a few snaps. This technique had her giggling:

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Until it didn't have her giggling:

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Oh, but Chicken always saves the day. Letting her hold Chicken gave me a couple more cute shots, and then we were done. 

(I could've cropped out the feet, but... well.... they're part of this story, right??)


So this is Lucy, 12 months old. First time in pigtails for these shots. they make her look so much older, don't they? *sniff*

A few things about Lucy at 12 months old:

* She is crawling on her hands and knees now! She'd been getting close for a while, but it was finally being put in the grass for the Easter Egg Hunt that motivated her to take the next step. Army crawling in grass kept her face in the grass, so she had to lift up and actually crawl to escape the tickling. 

* Shortly after her front top two teeth came in, a third tooth up top broke through. That puts us at 5 teeth, with the 6th really close to coming through. 

* She is finally starting to attempt pulling up on things. She has mastered climbing one stair, and would love to practice on more stairs, if I'd let her. Still no cruising, and DEFINITELY no standing/walking.

* She had her one-year doctor appointment. She is 18 pounds, 3 oz. and 29 inches in length. Still small, actually, since she is firmly in 9-month clothing. (I tried to put her in a new cute 12-mo. outfit for her birthday and she was swimming in it!). The doc is not worried, though. She looks great and healthy, so we're on track. 

* Lucy's baby signs are really improving! She signs "all done" pretty consistently, and for the right reasons. She has accurately signed "more" and "eat", but is not so quick to do those on a consistent basis. 

* As for real words, she seems to say "dadadada" and mean it to refer to dad. She says, 'Haaaa!" for "Hi", and she does a soft bark to imitate a doggy. She likes to imitate singing, and just yesterday when I babysat an 8-week old, she imitated the baby's crying. 

* She has fallen in love with books. She loves to turn the pages, to hold them herself, to look at the pictures. She is in heaven with a stack of board books near her. 

* She is starting to love the cause and effect of toys--- watching her problem-solve is really fun!

* She love the songs "Twinkle, Twinkle", "ABC" and "Old MacDonald".

* Lucy still loves the car and the stroller and is pretty content in my ring sling. Hooray for staying content with non-mobility a little while longer!

* We gave Lucy her first sweets on her birthday: of course she loved the frosting best. She's her mama's girl! (I have cake smash photos to share soon!)

* I suspect she is trying to drop one of her naps. For now, I'm fighting her on that. She'll do two naps still about 65% of the time. Waa. 

* Lucy has her first ear infection! She wasn't acting really any differently when we took her in for her 1-year checkup, but the doc found an ear infection! Oops! She's on meds now, and has been pretty cheerful the whole time. 

* Now that the hurdle of ONE YEAR has come and gone, I am realizing that just because she's not a "baby" anymore doesn't mean I have to be sad. There are a million amazing things yet to come, and I am utterly delighted by her and watching her grow. Happy birthday to my sweet Lucy.


And as a conclusion to this monthly photo project, here is Lucy in all her shots from this series, beginning when she was 2 months old and ending with today's image:

(to see the original idea for these monthly photos, click here.


Or if you prefer to see them all at once (the GIF might be making you dizzy!), here's another version of the set, adding in a newborn image of Lucy to even out the grid:

(Oh man, that tape on the last shot still kills me. What a tricky baby. Love her.)

And that's that! On to a new year of Lucy.... perhaps less marked by formal sessions, but a year that will be filled with a million more "firsts" and celebrations. I promise to still check in here and there to share some of those triumphs and milestones. 

Til then, we do still have a few more First Birthday images coming up... So stay tuned. 

Flashback Friday (Saturday): Welcome to the World, Lucy

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It occurs to me, as the weekend of celebrating Lucy's first birthday comes to a close,  that I never shared Lucy's actual birth story from one year ago. For some of you, this is not what you'd consider interesting reading... but for my mama friends and curious onlookers, I'm taking my "flashback Friday" spot and dedicating it to reminiscing about that one day in the hospital, the day Joe and I greeted our daughter and welcomed her to the world. (Is anyone else in LOVE with birth stories? I love them!)

Feel free to read along with me, or skip ahead to the images (nothing graphic, I promise!), or move along and wait for something less gritty and personal. I promise cute Lucy One-Year photos soon!

Flashback-- April 12, 2011:

 Our day began at 9:00 am when Joe and I left Noah with my sister Beckie and headed to Missouri Baptist Hospital for an induction, the day after Lucy's due date. We'd been hoping for labor to start on its own, especially since I was trying for a VBAC, but when her due date came and went, we decided it was probably better to induce sooner than later so she'd not grow "too big" , seeing that I was gestationally diabetic. So we headed in on the morning of April 12 and got settled into a lovely corner room. And we waited. Waited. Waited. Finally, at about 11 am, they started my Pitocin drip at the lowest number, promising to only increase it by a point every hour.

 It was a boring morning. Joe and I played on our iTouches, I checked email and chatted online... I tried to stay on my feet, walking and pacing and sometimes bouncing on the birthing ball--- mostly to keep my body positioned to work rather than slack off. I didn't really have painful contractions for most of the morning with the early dosage of Pitocin. I read a little... I did a little hand-sewing since I had Noah's "baby day present" I needed to finish. I talked on the phone with a few people... We marked time. We waited.

2:30pm, I was still not really feeling painful contractions. They were manageable and slow and mostly I was hungry and bored. My nurse talked about breaking my water at 4:30pm if we were still stuck in the same holding pattern, and we geared up for that as the next big step. Right around 4:15 pm, there was a BIG jump in contraction pain. Suddenly I was sitting up and taking notice, and beginning to realize I'd need to start managing the pain. I texted my birth photographer and told her things might finally be picking up. My Pitocin was at a 10-- pretty average middle-point. Meanwhile, the nurse came in and broke my water at about 4:20, and what had already started rolling came rolling faster. My photographer Jodie arrived around 4:40 and I was definitely breathing though the pain at that point. My primary pain management was to listen to a playlist of music made by a friend for HER birth, through my earbuds, and time the contractions and the pauses. By the time Jodie came to the room, my contractions had started coming closer and closer together. They seemed to be about 50-second long waves of pain, then a minute to three minutes of breathing space, then another 50-second wave of pain.

One hugely disheartening setback at this point though, was that when the nurse broke my water, she checked my progress and I'd not progressed at ALL from when I'd come to the hospital (a 3). I was devastated. Surely after a whole morning of pacing, Pitocin, and increasingly strong contractions, I'd made SOME kind of progress? It really shook my confidence and made me feel incredibly disappointed and doubtful that I'd be able to manage any kind of pain once I dilated further. If it hurt this much at a 3, what the heck would a 6 feel like?

But I stuck with it, determined to postpone an epidural as long as possible. On the advice of the nurse and Jodie, I tried different positions, techniques...None of them improved my ability to focus and manage the pain, and in fact I think I lost my center once I stopped listening to the playlist and watching my timer like I'd been doing the first 45 minutes. At about  5:10, only an hour after they had started hurting, I, feeling lame, turned to Jodie and Joe and asked them if I was a coward if I was ready to give in and ask for an epidural. They asked me what I wanted them to tell me... And the thought of enduring only 1.5 minute breaks for every 1-minute wave of pain... and the disheartening news that I wasn't very dilated anyway and would maybe have to feel this pain for HOURS yet--- I caved. I gave in. I said I wanted them to tell me it was okay to ask for the epidural. They were both so sweet about it, telling my I was not GIVING UP--- it was okay... And I needed them to reassure me of that. I felt so bummed. But we paged the nurse and made the call. I expected to have to wait 45 minutes or longer like I did with Noah, but the anesthetist arrived a lot faster than I expected and I was able to get the epidural started by 5:30 or so. It was HARD to sit still for the procedure! Yowza! I was VERY loud at that time, since without being able to move,  vocalizing was the only way I could manage the pain. Finally, about 5:45, the epidural was in and the edge came off the contractions. BUT. I never got 100% comfy. I felt the most uncomfortable tingling and pressure almost immediately. It wasn't the same pain as unmedicated contracting, but it was never total non-feeling like my epidural with Noah. This crazy sensation, terribly unpleasant with every close-together contraction, made me feel like I had to empty my bladder, so at 6:00pm, the nurse came in to administer a catheter and check my progress. It turns out that all that odd sensation was my body deciding to get the show on the road. I went from a 3 to a 6 between the epidural and the catheter, and while she checked me, I jumped to an 8. From 4:00pm-6:00pm, 3cm-8cm. Crazy.

Meanwhile, Lucy wasn't responding well to the epidural, so they moved me around a lot to get her heart rate into a happy zone. I got rolled to one side--- a little better--- then when it dipped again, I got rolled to the other side.  Eventually they got me on my hands and knees, and WOW, that was by far the most comfortable position for me for relief from that tingling awful pressure. And yes, it's nuts that I was able to get on my hands and knees with a full epidural, but I am CONVINCED it was the perfect epidural-- not so strong I was totally paralyzed, so that I was able to feel the pressure of transition and imminent birth, and
also able to move into the position that best helped Lucy drop to her final position in the birth canal.

At this point, about 6:15pm,  the hospital OB said to call my OB... she was watching my contractions and felt that if I had gone from 6-8 in no time, all this moving around probably was getting me ready for delivery. My doc breezed in at around 6:25, and the other doc was already saying she might have to deliver me. They got me on my back, and the discomfort returned full force. My OB checked me and said I was more than a 9, so they got me in position and suddenly the nurse was talking me through how to push.  It all felt really surreal, like a dress rehearsal. In fact, I truly thought we were "practice pushing" the first two contractions, and was feeling good about her coaching me how to do it for when the "real pushing" began. Little did I know, this WAS the real pushing!  And seriously--- that pushing felt WONDERFUL-- so great to finally have relief from the pressure!! (See what I mean? Perfect epidural!)

So after being coached through two or three contractions, about 3 pushes each time, Joe suddenly said, "She's right there!" My doc had been telling me I was a champ at pushing and asked, "Wanna feel her head?" The realization slammed into me that this was really happening. I was NOT "practicing" and had in fact been making actual progress with each of those "practice pushes". I was incredulous. And gingerly tapped what I was told was my baby's crown. CRAZY. But it was HER. And one more set of pushing, this time with the instruction to "push like you mean it this time!"..... and they were suctioning her... and I had a baby. In my arms. Like it was no big deal. Lucy Charlotte Southerland, born at 6:44 pm.

I remember when she was handed to me, and she was floppy and damp and tiny and REAL, and she had BLONDE hair. Shockingly obvious blonde hair. I was being congratulated for the fast pushing, and really, the rest of the delivery process was a blur-- an easy blur-- while I soaked in the truth of this new little person in my arms, so real and so THERE. So different from the 20-minute wait to hold Noah after my C-section.  It was amazing.

And yet, the memory of that awful, immensely weird, uncomfortable tingling pressure was fresh in my mind, and I remember telling anyone who was listening right then, "Well, now that I've gotten my VBAC, I'm never doing THAT again!" And I meant it! (I've since had the lovely bliss of memory loss in that dept. and would be happy with whatever type of delivery I got to have next time.)

Eventually, a little over an hour later, my sister brought Noah to the hospital and we had a first-meeting/reunion that was joyful, surreal, and heartbreaking all at the same time. It was so special to be able to introduce Noah to his baby sister and see him process what had been vague to him before into a new reality. The heartbreaking part was only when he had to leave--- he'd not realized we wouldn't be going home with him that very night, and was devastated he couldn't bring his baby home. To this day, if I think too hard on that moment, I feel like crying my eyes out. It was truly awful; I wish I'd know better to prepare him for that moment.

But enough of that sad part--- his visit was mostly AMAZING and joyful, and I truly hope one day he and Lucy will both cherish the photos Jodie caught of their first moments together.

And that is that.... The story of Lucy's birth day.

 I still cannot believe how simple it seemed, once we were in place. I cannot believe how fast it went from the start of pain to the end of it all.

More than that, I cannot believe it has been a complete year since that day. My Lucy Charlotte, one year old. Check out the last photo on this post to see a photo of her from just last week. From 7 lbs to 18 lbs, and from 18.75 inches to 29 inches--- she's had a big year, and I am so blessed to be her mama through it all.

Welcoming Lucy to the World:
All photos by Jodie Allen of Fresh Art Photography

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