Vendor Spotlight: Bridesmaids Gifts Boutique

When we got married I asked my friends to stand up in our wedding at a bar…not a classy bar, either. Think loud music, cheap beer, fried food. And although I wouldn’t change the ladies I chose to stand beside me on my wedding day, I’m glad the method of asking one another has shifted a bit in the last nine (yikes!) years.

The most recent wedding for which I was asked to stand up came with a hand-delivered box of wedding goodies and a heartfelt note. I felt special and immediately involved in the wedding — what a beautiful feeling.

My type A self loves hand-selecting gifts and arranging them and finding packaging that’s an exact fit and figuring out the logistics of how to get them to people, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the norm. So for people who love the idea of a custom box of goodies but don’t have time to shop around or the interest in stockpiling packaging (seriously don’t ask how many mailers and boxes are in my home), there is a great online shop called Bridesmaids Gifts Boutique.

This shop all sorts of gift boxes from self care (my personal favorite) to robes, jewelry, drinkware, shawls, totes, etc. Top points for them go to being affordable and customizable, but my favorite part is the themes. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good theme and following through on a vision from beginning to end — I guess that should be no surprise considering my background in branding. This is the first thing your maids will receive and it sets the tone, whether that’s floral, minimalist, beachy, boho, there’s a little something for everyone.

I love my box with the lavender candle, body butter, and loofah soap — something I’ve always wanted to try. In case you’re looking for a way to show the love during social distancing or starting the wedding planning process, this has been a great company to work with. Be sure to check them out at http://www.bridesmaidgiftsboutique.com

Personal Post: Suddenly a Stay at Home Mom

Stay at home mom, business ownerNot every women dreams of being a stay at home mom the way not every women dreams of being a mother. I never wanted to be a stay at home parent. I have to shake off guilt around saying this because I know some will interpret this plain statement, as me not wanting to be with my child, and that simply isn’t true. I love Juniper to the moon and back. She is my world, my playmate, my favorite person. And to those who are stay at home parents and to those whom desire to be, more power to you. The world is currently serving you an extra slice of respect.

For me, I crave time alone in quiet reflection to be my best self. I like to work independently and simmer on ideas in solitude. This way, my spirit is recharged, and when I see my family I appreciate them so much more. I see them with renewed eyes and so much gratitude. I designed my life for this. I built a business and outsourced, found excellent childcare and backup childcare, and set rigid boundaries so I could still spend most of my week with my family. And in my independent time I could fuel my business, source ideas, and make art.

The New Normal

Like many of you, I’ve been living in a “new normal” for the past few weeks, one in which my usual offerings as a business owner are not relevant. One in which I find it hard to even plan for a future in which they are, because the forecast ahead is so foggy. I am uneasy, I am worried, I am adapting. As I develop ideas during brief toddler naps, and try to complete existing work in little pockets of weekend time, I find myself in hustle mode, trying not to panic.

In my time with Juniper I am often distracted and impatient, and not proud of some of the choices I’m making. Is anyone feeling this? There are simply not enough hours to do all things well.

Your Feelings are Valid

I realize right now, I need to stop and check my privilege. People are dying in this pandemic. People are suffering. People are working on the front-lines in healthcare, and food service, and delivery, many of them with preexisting conditions that make them extra vulnerable. People are worried about how they will make rent, how they will get food, and if they will be safe at home. I am not one of those people, and I am constantly aware of how good I have it and how small my struggles are.

But I just need a moment to say that sometimes it’s still hard even when others have it harder. And it’s okay to feel scared or worried. It’s okay to be sad over the holiday traditions you are missing, the favorite spots you can no longer visit, the people you cannot hug, and the regular-everyday-put-on-pants-and-go-to-work life you aren’t living right now. Your feelings are valid. My feelings are valid.

We’ve Never Done This Before

It’s okay to not be ready for a positive spin. It’s okay to not get dressed today. It’s okay to put an iPad in front of your toddler so you can get some work done, or clean the house, or drink a glass of wine while no one touches you or asks you for anything. It’s normal to lose your temper, to feel stuck, to feel resentful. No matter what position you’re in, we’ve never done this before. We’re all just making it up as we go along.

In the meantime I will try to give myself as much grace as my best friends would give me (which is a lot). Because we’re all doing the best we can. My kitchen is covered in flour, my dining room table, in seed packets, and my living room is currently an obstacle course to prove this point. And yes, sometimes I will be working. Sometimes I will send Juniper away or ask her to play by herself so that I can complete a project or answer an email.

And I know, deep down, this isn’t hurting her. Juniper doesn’t need a 24/7 playmate and cook; she needs a mom. And sometimes moms work. Sometimes moms have big ideas they need to act upon. She is seeing this, and even if she doesn’t get it right now, it will be something she will understand later. The world becomes a better place for every woman out there each time we let go of how we were told things were “supposed to be done”. I was never one for arbitrary rules anyway.

Cheers, mamas!

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Film scans above shot on 35 mm Kodak Portra in summer of 2019 and scanned by Dwaynes Photo in Parsons, Kansas.

Personal Post: When Fear Makes You Doubt Your Gut

green bay film photographer parenting blog
For me, 2020 has been a season of big ideas and big doubts. I get excited about an idea, I share my idea, I doubt my idea, then I sabotage my idea. Has anyone else been there?

It’s not outright self-sabotage; it’s me letting fear guide my thoughts, and then letting my actions take me just to the point where things get scary and no further. There is safety in giving something half your heart and there is fear in giving it all your heart.

Fear Keeps Me Safe

Fear is keeping me safe. Fear’s job is to keep me safe. But here, what is it protecting me from? Predators, injury, death? No. Failure, ridicule, discomfort.

It seems silly when it’s laid out like this, but it’s hard to go from understanding your fears are not keeping you safe to making a choice to reach beyond fear. This requires belief in our purpose — belief beyond doubt — and it asks us to recognize that who we are is someone already deserving of what we want. It asks us to step out from the place of “when I do this, I will be worthy of…” and into “because of who I already am, I can do this.”

I Can Make Bad Art Without Being a Bad Artist

I have always been one to value myself based on what I can create and how hard I can work. Instead, I am shifting into someone whose value is already there, without needing to prove it to anyone (myself included). And if I already have value, I can create bad art without being a bad artist and I can make a mistake without being a failure. This provides grace. This provides space for big ideas.

On January first of this year, Jen Berres-Dart of Jenstar Yoga asked a group of us, “What do you want to try that you’ve been avoiding because you don’t think it’s possible?” And now I ask that of you…

What Are You Avoiding Out of Fear of Failure?

In 2020 I am working on myself, I am chasing ideas, I am taking chances, and I want to take you with me. Come join us at Mama + Maker to see what my big ideas are all about, or comment with yours, because ideas are a lot less scary when we say them out loud.

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Film scans above from our January trip to Florida. Shot on 35 mm Kodak Portra 400 film and scanned by Dwaynes Photo. 

Personal Post: This is Two

Kasey and Ben Photography Mayflower Greenhouse, Green BayThis week Juniper threw epic crying fits for the following reasons:
1. My hair was too crazy.
2. She needed to take home a middle grade chapter book at the library.
3. Daddy was being mean. (Daddy did literally nothing.)

This is two.

Two is also wispy hair that makes the teeniest ponytail, a new imaginary friend who she cares for and tortures, and cute catch phrases like, “Ju-per loooooves that; it’s Ju-per’s fave-it” which is said for nearly everything.

Between Babyhood and Toddlerhood

Two is funny because we are stuck somewhere between baby and toddler. When she gets tired, she still wants to curl up in my arms and when she loses her pacifier in the night she still calls for us to make it right. We wander in bleary-eyed in that same stupor that brought us into her room when she was just a few weeks old. But the next morning she is back to her regular self, independent and demanding. This girl starts the mornings at full volume with so much to say. I shake my head thinking that there was ever a time I worried about the number of words she would say.

Juniper has so many ideas of what we should do together, and when she really wants to do them, she mimics my encouraging tone with eyes wide and voice higher, getting as close to my face as she can. She wears socks on her hands every day (it’s a thing) and will only wear her black dress shoes no matter the weather. One week she loves oranges so I buy oranges, the next week “Ju-per don’t ike oranges”. It’s ever-changing, frustrating, hilarious, and heart-warming all at once.

Parenthood is Crazy Like That

I’m not sure what comes next (okay, three, obviously), but I’m in no hurry. For the number of times I am willing the clock to get to 12:30 pm so I can put her down for a nap, an equal number of times I will find myself watching old videos of her 10 minutes after she’s asleep. Parenthood is crazy like that. We crave our independence and when we have it, we miss our babies. It’s really the whole process of growing up and letting go on a miniature scale.

But I don’t have to worry about that right now. Any minute Juniper will wake up from her nap and come wandering out of her room, hair crazy, blanket dragging behind her. She will climb up onto my lap and I will enjoy the 15 seconds of blissful snuggles she gives me before she reaches out for my keyboard and makes an attempt at deleting this entire blog. This is two.

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Photos above from Juniper’s second birthday (cactus themed) at Mayflower Greenhouse in Hobart. Taco bar catered by Moes, amazing sugar cookies by Tina’s Cookie Corner, and tower of itty-bitty succulents by my talented mom.

Retro Arcade & Bowling Alley Senior Photos, Door County, Wisconsin

Green Bay Senior Photographer Door County Senior PhotographerDoor County Senior Photographer

When Liam and his mom arrived to discuss senior photos, before we even got chatting, Liam explained that he was not looking for traditional senior photos in a nature or urban setting. Liam is an artist, set to attend MIAD in fall, and he wanted his photos to be more than a documentation of his graduation. He wanted them to speak to who he is and function as half portrait, half art statement. As many of you know, my background is a bachelors in studio arts, so this spoke to my roots.

Retro 80s Arcade and Bowling Alley

When we got talking about Liam’s vision, he saw a retro bowling alley and abstract lighting. I knew the perfect location immediately: Cherry Lanes arcade and bowling alley in Sturgeon Bay. Liam and his family are not from Door County and weren’t familiar, but as I described the teal and orange seats, vintage arcade games, and our strategy for adding flash gels to create colored lighting, they knew we were on the right track.

Cherry Lanes, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

At Cherry Lanes we started in the bowling alley with editorial posing and playful lighting. Once in the arcade we added more flash gels to mimic ambient game lighting and got fun with lifestyle shots. Liam was up for everything we wanted to try, even when Ben suggested Liam climb under a pinball machine to catch the green rope lighting. (It was worth it!)

Thanks for trusting us with your vision, Liam, we see lots of great things coming in your future. And special thanks to Cherry Lanes for hosting us!

Country and Beach Senior Photos, Fonferek Glen, Green Bay

Fields Nature Senior Photos Luxemburg, Wisconsin Senior PhotographerGreen Bay Senior Photographer

Having attended a small, country high school myself, I always have a soft spot for seniors from rural schools coming into Green Bay for their senior photos. I remember what it was like to graduate with 86 people and want to find a way to set myself apart.

Country Senior Photos in Green Bay, Wisconsin

When we began planning for Morgan’s senior session she knew one thing she for sure did not want, and one things she for sure did want. She didn’t want anything downtown or urban. Bucking the trends of brick and city scenes, Morgan is a country girl at heart with a love for hunting, sports, and working with her hands. The thing she knew she did want was variety. Because of that, we recommended two locations that would make it look like we made four separate stops — field, woods, granary at Fonferek Glen in Green Bay and limestone escarpment and sunset beach photos in New Franken.

Sunset Beach Photos

Morgan is a do it all kind of girl. She rocked the dress and lipstick in a warm, glowy field, showed her badass side in her Shiocton High School letter jacket, then switched into camo and hiked into the woods with her bow. The bright yellow leaves remind us that it was the last week of October, but if you saw her wading into the waterfall or walking along the beach in shorts, you would have no idea that she was the least bit cold. We know Morgan will be able to take on anything!

 

Weborg Point Wedding, Peninsula State Park, Door County

Door County Wedding Photographers Peninsula Park Wedding Peninsula Park Wedding Door County Wedding Photographers Peninsula State ParkDoor County Wedding Photographers

I loved looking through the photos for Kathryn and Marty’s blog because their wedding day was so dreamy that putting the images together was like assembling a story.  The day began in Baileys Harbor where the couple got ready for their day at local Airbnbs. Talented family members assembled a floral arch and centerpieces with bright orange and blue flowers. Everyone packed up and headed across Door County to Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek where the ceremony would be held.

Peninsula State Park Wedding

Weborg Point Shelter was decorated, and the benches had been pulled onto the lawn for seating. The ceremony was led by Marty’s coworker and family gathered together as the heavy morning fog gave way to sunshine. The rest of the afternoon was filled with family grilling out, cousins swimming in the bay, and the joy of friends gathered together. It was the dream wedding for anyone imagining a small, intimate day with beautiful weather and so much love. Congratulations, Kathryn and Marty!

Green Bay Holiday Session with the {H} Family

Christmas Card Pictures Green Bay Family PhotographerWhen Sara and her family contacted us about our Limited Edition Sessions, the first thing she said was that they had never had a family photo with everyone looking at the camera and smiling. This was not for want of trying. Sara’s family had been photographed many times as a group, but since becoming a family of five three years ago they couldn’t seem to get one of them all looking and smiling.

Green Bay Family Photographers

Sara had read on our website that we are a husband and wife team and work together to capture real expressions in even the hardest situations. We met up, I learned about her kids, Natalee, Molly, and Alexander, and that Alex is on the spectrum. He’s a smiley kid, but he’s adventurous and wants to run, play, and explore. We chatted a little more, I learned about Alex’s interests and what gets his attention, and Ben and I prepared for their session (which mostly involved Googling “Hot Dog Dance” lol). When the family arrived, we felt like we knew them already.

Winter Family Photos, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Alex and the girls did great and we were excited to take on the challenge of creating the family photo that Sara and Andrew had been dreaming of. It makes our hearts so happy to get to share these images with their family!

Fall Extended Family Photos, Appleton Wisconsin

Appleton Family Photographer Fall Family PhotosThis year fall came and went faster than usual. Between wind, rain, and sudden cold, there were very few dates with leaves on the trees and sun-shining, but Katie’s family session was on one of those lucky days.

Appleton Family Photographer

The idea for this extended family session came about around this time last year. Katie’s mom, Holly, was putting together her annual holiday card and realized they didn’t have a single photo of the entire family together. As Holly pieced together separate photos for the card, Katie knew the perfect Christmas gift for her parents — a gift certificate for family photos. And in a perfect twist of fate, Katie’s niece, Charlotte, the first granddaughter in the family, arrived just in time to join the photos.

Extended Family Photos

When Katie and I met up in September to begin planning, we tossed around many ideas for locations. With family coming from central Wisconsin, Neenah, and Appleton, staying near the Fox Valley only made sense. And since Katie’s home backs up on a nature preserve, their backyard was the perfect option! The tots did great and baby Charlotte was so smiley.

Extended family sessions are a favorite of ours for a few reasons. Firstly because we know how important they are. Those photos of kids, grandkids, and grandparents are the ones we always wish we could get, but even though we think we’ll snag a few during holiday get-togethers, it rarely happens. Secondly, we love them because of how much value the session has…. all in one session we can take big group photos, grandparents with grandkids, individual family groups, grandkids together, siblings together, *stops to take a breath* and kids separately all at one time while everyone is dressed cute and ready for photos. And lastly, we enjoy these sessions because they are a challenge. Extended family photos means kids at a variety of ages, lots of hands-on posing, and plenty of help with outfit coordination. We have methods for all these things and love a good challenge!

Cheers to Katie and her family!

Woodwalk Gallery Wedding with Sunset Beach Photos, Door County

Door County Wedding Photographer Egg Harbor Wedding PhotographerSmall Wedding Door CountyWoodwalk Gallery, Egg HarborEgg Harbor, WisconsinWe don’t have a running list of our favorite weddings, but if we did, Alicia and Mike’s wedding would be on it. It was everything we love best — an intimate guest list, a small wedding party, the love of family and friends, and a beautiful early fall afternoon.

Woodwalk Gallery Wedding, Door County

The wedding took place at the Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. It is an art gallery and wedding venue and one of our favorite places to photograph because of the incredible scenery and wonderful owners. Their ceremony took place under a pergola in a field of wildflowers. Alicia walked down the aisle with her father, and Mike smiled seeing her arrive. After hors d’oeuvres and drinks on the lawn, we wandered into the sunflower fields for pictures.

Door County Wedding Photographers

The reception was held in the barn space at Woodwalk surrounded by local art with dinner served on a collection of vintage china. Friends and family were laughing happily, enjoying food and drinks, followed by some of the most thoughtful wedding speeches we’ve ever heard.

Sunset Beach Photos, Door County

After a little taste of cake, we drove Alicia and Mike out to the beach for sunset photos. All day long it was cloudy and our plan for sunset pictures looked impossible, but as we pulled in the clouds lifted just enough to give us that bright, golden light that all photographers dream of. We walked out on the pier while wild gusts of wind blew and waves crashed up over the sides. Alicia and Mike weren’t bothered by any of it; they were simply content in being there together.

As we drove back to the venue, we talked about life, love, travel, and all the wonderful future plans they have on the horizon. It sounds like the start of something wonderful. Congratulations, Alicia and Mike!

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