Recap 2016

Dear 2016,

You have been hard, the biggest challenge of my LIFE, but you have also been a blessing. This year brought me my son, Nicolas, it brought me answers to my health, and it also brought me so many wonderful photo sessions. I say this every year, but I TRULY mean it when I say this, "I am so lucky to be able to be a stay-at-home-mom AND continue working on my passion - my photography." Yes, this year may have been a lot slower because of my Dystonia and yes I had to turn down many clients, but every chance I had to pick up my camera and photograph another family was filled with such a sense of JOY and pure BLISS. Thank you for every single person in my life. I am incredibly grateful for your endless support and love.

2017, I am ready for YOU! I am ready for a year filled with accomplishments, for more answers, for more joy, and more photo sessions with my wonderful clients! 

Maternity Session: Oliphant Family

This beautiful couple has a special place in my heart. They were our neighbors for three wonderful years at our townhome. We became very close friends as we walked our dogs to the dog park every day. Chester and I were lucky enough to be a part of their wedding last year and when Lindsey asked me to take photos as they embark in their new journey to parenthood, I was beyond ecstatic!!! Andrew and Lindsey (and Ellie:), thank you so much for spending the afternoon  with us and allowing me to capture these special moments. We cannot wait to meet your bundle of joy and watch you become parents! That little one is lucky to have you both. :) 

Ruby Dent

This family...I have so much love for them. I have had the privilege to photograph George since he was four months old. And here he is now, sweeter than ever, and proud to be a big brother to his sister, Ruby. He quickly introduced me to her as soon as I walked in their home and made sure to give her plenty of kisses throughout the morning. I absolutely LOVE how their home has so many special touches from their families. We got to incorporate a few special things, like a quilt that was Justin's grandmother and Marlee's flower band that she wore on their wedding.   Marlee and Justin, I am BEYOND grateful for your trust in me to photograph these special moments. I cannot wait to be a part of their next milestone.

My Journey That I Call Life

     I was always a shy girl growing up, but that never stopped me from smiling, raising my arms up to the sky, and saying, "I LOVE my life!" Negativity was not a vocabulary in my body- ever! It was always "I love my family, I love my house, I love everything"

     My left leg turned in when I began walking, but eventually grew out of it. However, It was not until I was 12, when I got a palate expander for about a year and things quickly began to shift. I developed a voice condition called Spasmodic Dysphonia. I also started to walk with my left leg turned in again. I quickly began to become an introvert and hide my emotions…resulting in loosing my friends who didn't stick by me. I started to feel out of place in this unknown body. I vividly remember feeling I was going to pass out when the teachers would call on me to read out loud. I felt like everyone was staring at me and judging me from the outside. 

      My teen years were filled with endless doctor visits, tests, and unanswered questions about my condition. Nothing showed up in MRIs or any tests. Not knowing how to respond when everyone asked me what was wrong was the most frustrating part.

     My brother introduced me to the world of photography and that became my outlet to express myself again. I brought my positive thoughts into my photographs. Over the years, I slowly began to get used to the new "normal" and accept my new body. 

     Fast forward to when I turned 20 years old, the year that I met the love of my life. He accepted me for me and made me an even stronger person. He pushed me everyday to feel more and more confident in my own skin. We got married 4 years later and quickly started a family. We brought our wonderful daughter into our lives August 2014. Daniela made me even stronger! Her smiles and joy for life reminded me of myself as a little girl. She is my constant reminder to remain happy and full of love! Nine months later, we found out that we were expecting another blessing…a little brother for Daniela. I quickly became overwhelmed to the fact that I was going to have two babies. Especially after such a dramatic birth with our first; one that ended up in a c-section, I was not mentally ready to grow another baby just yet. The mother in me; however, could not be more excited to give my husband the son he always wanted.

     It was not until, October when I started to notice my neck starting to twist and I immediately grew scared that this was going to be another quirk in my body that was not going to go away. My grandmother, who I was very close to, passed away that same month. My sensitive soul had a hard time swallowing this death. I visited her almost every weekend with my daughter who always made her smile so big. There was now a void in my weekends. 

     My body continued to grow this beautiful boy as my body continued to twist more and more. And in January, he was born via c-section. Now he is 4 months, and I am falling in love all over again with this tiny miracle that God gave me. The neck twisting flowed up to my jaw, making it even harder to talk and express myself. My mind could not fathom the idea that every few years I was going to get a new symptom. So I decided to get another opinion from another neurologist and he finally diagnosed me with Dystonia,  “a neurological movement disorder. Faulty signals from the brain cause muscles to spasm and pull on the body incorrectly. This forces the body into twisting, repetitive movements or abnormal postures. Sometimes the symptoms are accompanied by dystonic tremor” Finding out that there is no cure is scary. However, I am learning to cope with it and looking for ways to make each day more manageable  The first few weeks after I received these news were very emotional and I began to dig myself in a dark hole. But every morning, I would look at my beautiful kids and a voice inside me told me to stop the pity for myself. Now I need to be stronger than ever because I am a mom. A mom to two amazing kids and a wife to a husband who love me for me. I started to focus my energy on all the good that Dystonia has brought in my life. Everything happens for a reason. I was given this "gift" for a reason. Yes, there are days that are harder than others. But I have learned that on those days, I just have to be a little more gentle with myself and have patience because everyday is a gift and I refuse to let the little things affect my life and my family.

Dystonia doesn't define me but it helped shape me into the person I am today

I truly got to learn and listen to my body in ways that I wouldn't have if I didn't have Dystonia

The years of the unknown was the scariest part of this journey. Now that I know what I have,  I feel more "normal" and at peace with my life

I'm not asking people to pity me...that's the least thing I want. I simply just want to help bring awareness by sharing my story because after so many years with uncertainty, it feels good to finally be able to tell people what I have. Maybe if I had read someone else’s story, I would have discovered my diagnosis sooner. 

“I STILL love my life”

Thank you all for being a part of my journey that I call life.

The Schlueter Family

I LOVE photographing families where their first baby becomes a big sister/brother. The joy in their faces is contagious. They are SO proud in their new role in the family. Etta's energy throughout the session was amazing! She gave ME energy...we got to twirl and jump together as baby June was busy getting fed. When baby sister was ready to be a part of the shoot, Etta showed how much love she has for her. It was truly so sweet to see her take care of June.

Recap of 2015

Every year I am in awe of all that I gain from each photo session. Whether it's a wedding, a newborn session, or a family session, there is ALWAYS something that I learn about life and myself. 2015 has been filled with so much joy and a few surprises. In June, we found out that we were expecting our second baby. We have been blessed with our daughter, Daniela, and now we are waiting to meet our son in just 2 short weeks. (Or sooner, if he decides to come earlier.) My fall season was cut short because of a neck injury and was unable to take on quite a few sessions, but I had to put my baby and pregnancy first and rest as much as possible. My dear clients were so understanding, and for that, I am forever grateful. I'm reminded how lucky I truly am to have such a gratifying job where I can work with such wonderful families. To those families, Thank You! I am so thankful for your support and love.

2016, we are ready for you! I am excited to work with more families and capture more memories. 

Please be sure to click HD (on the bottom right corner of the video window) to view in the best quality possible :)

The Hinman Family

Anjli has a very special place in my heart. She was one of the midwives that attended me during my first pregnancy. She was always so loving, supportive, and made me feel like a strong woman who was about to become a mother for the first time. Anjli's love and support made me feel like a friend, not a patient. Her tender care for women is so inspiring. I was so honored when she emailed me to photograph her sweet family. Her son, Avi, is a week younger than my daughter - and he was such a joy to play with and capture his beautiful personality! 

Anjli & Jeremy, thank you so much for allowing me to photograph these sweet moments! :)

Claire Turns ONE!

Sweet Claire turned one last month and I was literally in awe of her beautiful long hair! She was so fun to photograph and chase around. We listened to music, danced, hugged her dolls, and ate Cheerios. I love this age so much and seeing how they view the world in such a different perspective. I always leave family sessions inspired by the little ones. I can honestly say that I feel so lucky to have such a beautiful job. 

Finn Royal Hawkins

Finn Royal Hawkins was the center of attention for this sweet newborn shoot. But what made it EXTRA special was having all four grandchildren together at "Mimi's" house. The four of them together fill their grandmother's house with so much life and pure joy! I could hear the two boys running around and having the best time together while I was photographing this precious little boy. 

Robby + Aneliese are Engaged!

Robby and Aneliese are one of the most beautiful couples I know...and not just on the outside kind of beautiful. The most important kind of beautiful...the one where you see the true love between the two, the pure joy they have for one another, and the way they make you smile just by being around them! I feel so lucky to be able to capture these special moments for this very special pair. 

Robin + Luke are MARRIED!

It started off as a gorgeous Spring day, but as the beautiful couple started to get ready and the hours passed by, a huge set of clouds rolled through.  The rain poured down forcing a quick decision to have the ceremony indoors. However, the rain did not stop Robin and Luke from being fully present at their moment and letting their love shine through as they vowed to be husband and wife for the rest of their lives. It was a beautiful ceremony and they were surrounded by their family and friends who traveled far to be here for their very special day. The room was filled with pure love and the day was truly magical.

As we approach Memorial Day, we give thanks to Luke and his groomsmen who continue to serve our great country with bravery and courage.  

 A special thanks for the staff at Vecoma at the Yellow River

Jack Nicolas Krohn

It is my greatest joy to photograph these special moments in my family's life. This newborn session was EXTRA special to me because this beautiful mama is my cousin.

Growing up, Ana was like a sister to me. I looked up to her so much. I would be one of her dancers as she choreographed the annual dance for our family every Christmas, we played with our American Girl dolls for hours and hours, and I had my first sleep over with her. She was my role model as a little girl.

On April 29, 2015, she received the most beautiful gift in the world - the gift of being a mother. Jack Nicolas Krohn came to this world and has forever changed Ana and Adam's life. I truly cannot be more happy for them. Ana and Adam, you are both already amazing parents and Jack is so lucky to call you mom and dad. 

Welcome to the world, Julia Karwecka

Every time I do a newborn shoot, my heart fills with so much peace and my passion for newborn photography grows more immensely. There is something so magical about capturing the first moments of a child's life and the love that the parents have for their little precious being. Sylwia and Rafal were so warm and welcoming towards me and opened their home with gracious arms. But the most rewarding part of the day was seeing the pure joy in their eyes and having their beautiful daughter, Julia, in their arms. 

The Leake Family

I met this sweet family in our neighborhood parent's network, Grant Park Parent's Network. I've had the joy to see their son, Alex, and my daughter grow up together in this past year. It's incredibly special to have a group of moms to connect with and feel like you are not alone in this new thing called, Parenthood. I am so grateful for this group and the amount of friends I have gained. 

I had so much fun with this special family. We got to twirl, pick flowers, jump, and blow some bubbles. It was a perfect way to start the month of May. :)