Hello friends, each year I like to take off the last two weeks of the year. My amazing husband usually has the same amount of time off. I take time to spend with my family and to give myself a mental break, running a business is exhausting (whew!). I always look forward to my husband being off work. It means I get to worry less, which in turn means I get to be a more fun mommy to my awesome boys. We had so much fun in those two weeks. We went to my parents and helped them put up their tree which is always a glitter filled adventure and we watched Christmas movies that the boys had never seen. We had a whole day of Christmas baking and it was filled with the sounds of two boys playing and singing Christmas carols. We spent hours looking at the beautifully decorated houses and of course we visited Santa.
This is the first year that Benjamin has really gotten this whole Christmas thing and let me tell you what, watching Christmas happen through his eyes was such a joy this year. I have literally never seen him as excited as he was when we were waiting in line for Santa. He got these super big eyes and this smile that looked like it made his cheeks hurt. My typically shy little guy climbed up Santa's lap faster than his big brother. Desmond was a little trepidatious this year. The only thing that rivaled his excitement about Santa was all of the Christmas lights. As we drove home one night he saw lights the first time and boy did he squeal with excitement. His joy and elation for the season was so infectious. I'm so grateful for this. Desmond learned more this year about why we celebrate Christmas and he learned several carols at school which he then taught to his brother and I loved every minute of their tiny little voices singing joyously everywhere we went from the store to grandma's house.
All in all we had a lot of family time, holiday spirit, and some good relaxation and it's time to start the new year. Here's some of our fun.
I hope your holidays were as joy filled as ours. We are getting back into the swing of everyday life. I hope your new year is blessed!
Happy First Birthday
It is amazing to me that you are one. I know it goes by fast. I learned that with your brother. It just doesn't seem possible. I think I almost feel like you are always going to be the baby. Your the little brother. I think I really am going to have to consciously stop myself from always treating you like the baby. You are growing and learning everyday. I have loved watching you grow into your own little person. I try not to compare you to Desmond but you guys are so different that it's hard for me not to.
You don't talk yet but I haven't met anyone who didn't understand you. You are very clear on what you want. You grunt, growl, and yell about everything. It seems to me that you are going to be a very passionate kid. You get so angry when things don't go your way and honestly a lot of times I can't help but laugh. You get so serious so quickly. I hope you always keep that passion but maybe lose the anger.
I guess I shoudn't be surprised that you are a Daddy's boy. Your brother was at this age too. The minute you hear him walk through the door in the evenings you shoot for the kitchen. I love watching you two play, your Daddy loves to make you giggle and you make him laugh, a lot. He often puts everything down when he gets home and spends time with you before doing anything else. He doesn't say it but I think it makes him feel really good that most of the time you prefer him to me. I'm oddly O.K. with this fact too. Your Daddy is amazing and I hope you never take that for granted, though I know you will because what child doesn't.
One of my greatest fears has melted since you were born. I was so scared of what your relationship with your brother would be like. He was such a Momma's boy that I worried how he would feel with you getting so much attention. He has been so excited about you since day one. When we brought you home all he wanted to do was be close and touch you. When ever we go out he introuduces you to everyone. "This is my brother, his name is Benjamin." I don't know how long he will do this but I love how proud he is that you are ours. You two make each other laugh and play so well. Sometimes he's too rough with you but he doesn't mean it so don't take it too personally. He really does love you and care about you. You won't remember these things when you are older so I always want you to know this. He has cried when you cry, several times. He gets very upset if he thinks we are going to leave you anywhere. He has pleaded with the nurses not to give you shots because "He's just a baby!" He takes things out of your hands if he thinks you might try to eat it. I've never really seen him get angry with you and that makes me so happy. I want your brother to be your best friend and your protector. I think he is on his way there.
As for me, I love tickling your shoulder and watching you squeal in delight. I love the clicking noise you make with your mouth when you want to nurse. I enjoy watching you learn and seeing how your brain works. I think I may underestimate the things you are capable of until we try them and I see how amazing you are. I think it is my brain's attempt to keep you little. I promise I will stop doing that. I adore our cuddle time that we have most days. I love that even if you aren't sleepy, if I lay with you on the couch you will still lay there and cuddle on me. I love how well you are able to play by yourself. You will spend long amounts of time just standing at your brother's toy box pulling all the toys out. You love looking at books and turning the pages. Even more than playing by yourself you enjoy when your brother plays with you. You also love when Daddy and I play with you but you don't require our entertainment as often as your brother did. It cracks me up that anytime you hear any beat or music you start to dance. You have your own set of unique dance moves and they are adorably hilarious. I wondered when I was pregnant with you if you would be just like your brother or if everything would be different. I can honestly say that I don't know if you guys could be much more different. You both have one thing in common. Neither of you know how to sleep worth crap. So with that I end this letter saying, please sleep. Mommy and Daddy are exhausted. We would be much more fun if we could just sleep. I promise!
We love you Benjamin and we can't imagine our lives with out you in it. Happy Birthday baby.
And then, in true rock-star fashion...
He was done.
When you are pregnant with your second child you often wonder, how will I ever love another child as much as my first? Then just like the Grinch, your heart grows another size. My heart has grown exponentially in the last year and I am one blessed Momma.-Rachael
The Contest is OVER!
Last year was my first time entering the shoot and share contest. I was amazed by all of it. It was so much fun and so inspiring. Last year there were 110,000 photos entered into the contest and I took second place in the "That Just Happened" category and I was a finalist in the "Personal Work" category. I knew I wanted to enter again this year and I also knew the competition would be fierce. There were way more entries this year, over 225,000 in fact, which meant more (friendly) competition. I told myself in the beginning that I would be happy if my pictures placed higher over all than if I had one or two "winners" and that is exactly what happened. I am very pleased because I know that it means as a whole my work has improved and that is my goal every year. I use this competition as inspiration and drive. I want seeing all of this amazing work to push me to do better every year.
I must say I am utterly shocked by my finalist photo. I was truly guessing it would be out in the first round and have gotten a good chuckle that this accidental picture made it so far.
Here are the images that took some honors. I will tell you what category they were in and where they placed.
Yep that's right, I took a picture of glitter with my phone and it became a finalist. Do you see why I have been chuckling?
I want to say a special thank you to everyone over at Shoot and Share. Your team did an exceptional job of running this contest and doing your absolute best to make the community happy. Great job guys!
I hear it time and time again, "I just don't know that having a birth photographer is right for me." Then I start talking and I talk and talk, because that's just what I do. It's my passion, I could go on and on about birth photography. I wanted to write a post to help people decide whether or not hiring a birth photographer would be right for them. Let's dig in to the biggest reasons to hire a birth photographer.
If you want your partner to be completely present for you: Often it is left to Dad to capture these all too important images when the moment comes to greet your precious child for the first time. This almost always results in three things. The first being that Dad doesn't feel like he gets to be completely present at witnessing the birth of his child. Secondly it almost always results in lack luster images, often coming from a cell phone. Or lastly it ends up being a combination of the two. In the desire to be fully present and take in everything that is going on Dad ends up taking very few pictures of the event. There is another issue that comes from dad being the "photographer", it's very hard for him to be in the pictures. I know from experience. I am so embarrassed and a little sad to share this picture:
This is the only "family picture" we have from the day that our first son was born. Notice anything missing? A baby perhaps? Oh wait there is a tiny little hand (I think) up by my shoulder. It was also taken from a cell phone even though we brought a camera with us. Why in the world didn't he use the camera? His reason was that he was thinking of other things and he didn't have time. The end of my labor was very fast so his reasons were valid. At the time we had our oldest I didn't even know about birth photography. It was knowing there had to be a better way to get pictures of this special moment that led me to becoming a birth photographer.
If you want to relive the amazing journey again and again: The memories fade and get fuzzy within days of delivering your beautiful baby. I truly believe God gave us this ability so that we can forget the hard parts. That way maybe we will do it again someday. But with the ability to forget the bad we also forget a lot of the good. We forget who our nurses are, what the room looks like, what we did to pass the time. What kind of medicine did the doctors give you, what time did you start pushing, which nurse supported you and taught you how to push? There are so many little memories that make up the whole big experience. These are the things you want to remember.
If you want to be able to see everyone's emotions and reactions including your own: I don't know if I have ever had as many emotions in one day as I did the days that my kids were born. Joy, anxiety, hope, fear, excitement, happiness, sadness, pride, pain (ok, so not an emotion but totally valid here), relief, and love. This is a huge reason that totally speaks for itself, it really doesn't need a long explanation. Wouldn't you love to be able to look back and actually see those emotions on not only your face but everyone else's as well?
If it's important to you to capture memories that cannot be recreated: This is a once in a lifetime event. You will never have the chance to recreate this moment. Pictures are so important because when our memories fade our pictures will last, they will remind us. They take us back instantly. A birth cannot be recreated, we cannot get that moment back. The first time you see your son, the first time you hold your daughter, the worry on your husband's face when you have been pushing for 2 hours, the shock on your doctors face when your baby comes out way bigger than expected, the exact moment your baby is born, his first breath. These are all things that go away forever when the moment is over. Unless it is captured forever, in a picture.
You want your partner to be the only one in the room, but you don't want your family to miss out: My husband and I knew we wanted to be the only people in the room when our children were born. We wanted to be the first one to see our babies and we didn't want any distraction from our families. While some people would love to be hugged on and oooo'd and aahhh'd at that was not our idea of a calm relaxing environment. We wanted time to do skin to skin, to be able to try to nurse for the first time, and to look at our baby in awe. We are still so happy that that is what we did and if we had another child we would do it again. However, there was guilt attached to this choice. We knew that our families wanted to be in there. I felt far less guilt with the birth of our second child because I knew that they would get to relive the experience because we had a photographer. She didn't take away from our time with our child, there was no pressure to pass the baby to her, she didn't distract us, she captured our story so that we could watch it again and again and so that we could share it with our loved ones.
Here are a few shots of our birth story. Photography by Abrienne Lorenson Photography.
So if you want your partner fully present for the most important day of your lives, if you want to be able to relive this amazing journey, if you want to be able to see not only other peoples emotions but your own, and you want to be able to share your story with those that you love, than having a birth photographer is right for you! I have never met a mother that regretted hiring a birth photographer. However, I have met several mothers, including myself, that regret not hiring a photographer. So if you find yourself pregnant and wondering "Is having a birth photographer right for me?" The answer is yes. Birth photography is for everyone.
Have a blessed day.-Rachael
Maternity: Ashley, Michael, and Kenley
It would be nearly impossible for an outsider to understand my relationship with Ashley. I've "known" her for close to three years. We know a lot about each other. We have watched each others kids grow. We have watched each other succeed as mothers even when we felt like we were failing. We have lifted each other up when we felt down. There has been happiness, sadness, drama, laughter, disbelief, disgust, joy, pride, and every other thing you could think of in the past three years. But until a month ago we had never met in person. We belong to a special group of women. We are moms, we are wives, we are friends, we are women. We hold each other up when we can't stand on our own. We give advice and we listen. We meet online, and sometimes in person (for those of us lucky enough to), and we are a large group of moms who truly love and respect each other. I'm sure I can speak for Ashley in saying that we as moms are so truly blessed to have found each other in such an amazing group of extraordinary women.
With all of that being said it was amazing getting to meet Ashley in person. I wouldn't normally bring my family along with me to a session but since I drove several hours to be able to do this session they came along and to be quite honest I wanted her and Kenley to be able to meet my boys because we all feel so intertwined. I am so happy I got to work with them and can't wait to do their newborn session.
The kiddos met and instantly started holding hands, it really was the sweetest thing ever.
Have a fantastic week everyone!-Rachael
award winning photographer.
Did you know? It's been months and I still can't believe it. I'm not writing this to toot my own horn or shout "look at me, aren't I special?" I'm writing this to share the major lessons I have learned from this amazing experience. When I learned about this contest I hadn't even been in business for a year. I wasn't shooting with the best camera or lenses for that matter. I am self taught when it comes to editing. When I saw the previous years winners I knew I didn't stand a chance. I entered purely to push myself. I needed to get out of my comfort zone.
I am part of a community of photographers known as Shoot and Share Photographers it is a great community and this contest was full of other photographers from this community. In this contest 110,928 images were entered, 73,883 photographers were involved and 23,154,356 votes were cast. These numbers are astronomical to me. In early March I received and email stating that one (of fourteen) images that I entered was a finalist in the contest. I literally screamed, I then cried. Yes I cried. I could not believe it and I was amazed at the fact that one of my images could possibly make it that far. I had no idea which one or what this meant. Four days later I got another email stating that I was a top finisher. Meaning that one of my images had made it into the top 100. It was in this email that I learned which picture had made it so far. Then I really cried. I was convinced that this was it, this was where it ended in the top 100. There was no possible way I was going to actually place. It wasn't until weeks later that I learned where my photo placed. I learned the same time as every other member of my community did. First the 20th through the 16th place winners were announced and then day by day they announced another place winner. The whole community waited, holding their breath to see the winners, including me. Fifth place, fourth, third, and then second. There it was, there was my picture. Out of 1,253 images in its category it came in second. This one image, this one picture that meant so much to me personally had come in second. Again tears.
I had so much doubt I almost didn't enter. I was too new, my equipment wasn't good enough, these other photographers are so amazing, last years winners were ten times better than I could ever hope to be. Then it happened I actually won, my work had won. For me it was a slap in the face to quit comparing myself to others in my field, to work with the equipment I had and not worry about what I didn't have, and most importantly to have faith in myself. Since winning I have really focused myself on learning something new everyday related to photography (except for a few weeks in there where I gave birth and brought home a new baby and all ;)). My equipment is the same, my fellow photographers are the same, if not better and I don't have that much more experience than I did 4 months ago. The only difference is my attitude but I feel like a whole new person and I've gotta say, it's an amazing feeling.
So I'm guessing some of you may want to see the winning picture? Some of you are probably wondering why this image means so much to me. For one reason this is my oldest son and this little dog belonged to my uncle before he unexpectedly passed away. It was his baby. Since then my Grandma has taken in the dog. This picture was taken while we were dog sitting due to my Grandma being hospitalized. The second reason it means so much is because it was just a simple moment, a real part of my daily life.
Another one of my images got some high praise as well. It is a personal favorite too.
Push yourself, don't doubt yourself, and remember to quite comparing yourself to others. You are the only you.-Rachael
The thoughts of a 38 week pregnant mom of a two year old:
I have been asked countless times in the last week if I am ready to pop. Everyone always expects an enthusiastic yes and with my first pregnancy that would have been my answer. But when you are already a mom and you are pregnant again things change.
I was in such a hurry the first time around. My first pregnancy went so slow and it just seemed to drag on forever. This pregnancy has flown by and I find myself just begging for a little more alone time with my son, my husband and our comfortable little family of three. Like any other expectant momma I am so anxious to meet this new little boy who is only known as "baby brother" around here. I cannot wait to meet him, to see his face, to touch his skin, to kiss his cheeks. Along with that excitement comes a touch of sadness. Which I don't think is talked about much.
I'm a little sad that Des will no longer get all of my attention. I worry how he will deal with all of the changes. I also worry how he will handle baby brother getting so much of mommy's time. I'm sad that Des will get to spend so much time with his daddy this summer while I will be inside spending most of my time nursing a newborn. There is sadness in knowing that it's not going to be terribly easy for my big kid to crawl in bed with me in the morning to sleep in without waking his brother. Which means far less cuddles. I'm terrified of the changes to come, taking care of a toddler is hard enough with out throwing a baby into the mix. I worry that my big boy will be jealous or resentful. I'm also way more anxious about this labor and delivery. Maybe it's because I know just what to expect and last time is still pretty fresh in my memory. It could also be because Des has never been away from us for that long but I think the main reason is because it will be the beginning of this big new change.
On the flip side of all of this anxiousness and worry is excitement and hope. I cannot wait to see my boys grow together. I'm super excited to see if baby brother looks just like big brother or if they will be exact opposites like my brother and I.
I am so excited to introduce Des to his baby brother. I am hopeful that they will grow to be best friends. I am anxious to see all the adventures daddy and Des will go on together this summer. While I know how time consuming breastfeeding is I am hopeful to have a great nursing relationship with this baby. Having two boys means twice the cuddles! I have a lot of hope for our future as a family of four.
So as I sit here bouncing on my exercise ball typing this out I tell myself that it's ok to be sad, it's ok to be nervous, it's even ok to worry because this is going to be a big huge change in all of our lives. It's just so important to remember it is a happy, exciting, joyous change! So to answer everyone's question collectively, while I am so excited to meet this precious little boy I am in no rush to "pop" right now. I will just hang out with my two year old a little longer and get a little bit rounder!
To any other mommas out there feeling this way, you are not alone.-Rachael
I am a mom and a photographer. My love of motherhood led me to photograph all things from bellies to birth and beyond.