Archive of ‘Personal Life’ category

Personal Post: high tea baby shower at sepia chapel

For years, my mom and I had joint birthday parties with themes and costumes. They were always silly and elaborate with lots of homemade decorations and matching activities (like our Alice in Wonderland party where everyone played a round of flamingo croquet). It’s been a few years since those birthdays, but the excitement we experience over matching details, thrifting just the right pieces, and finding the matching paper suite, has not changed.

When the topic of my baby shower came up, both of us had the same idea without ever discussing it: high tea. We toured venues in the area, and Sepia Chapel was perfect. Gina completely understood our vision, and even offered up her grandmother’s wedding china so guests would have actual teacups and saucers. Planning went so smoothly with Gina coordinating all the linens, place-settings, and beverages, my mother-in-law working hard to make sandwiches and fruit cups, and my mom taking care of salads and all the beautiful desserts. In the week before the shower I picked up succulents and greens from Green Bay Floral, and, with the help of friends and family, every little thing was taken care of.

The shower was incredible. So many people were able to make it, even those who had a little drive to get there. We sipped tea, snacked on sweets and savories, played a few games, and chatted. Before gifts, my Grandma Claudia opened an outfit that would reveal the sex of our baby. Guesses from our guests came in nearly tied: 22/21 in favor of a boy, but Grandma was right (as she always is) and from the bag she unwrapped a tiny sailor dress that we picked up when we were in Maine. It’s a girl!

Thank you to everyone who came to the shower, for those who sent surprise gifts in the mail, and for the special people who care so much about us that they set aside time to help plan, purchase, make, and set-up all the things that made this shower so wonderful. I will be sure our babe knows how much she is already loved.

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Credits:

Sepia Chapel (venue) http://www.sepiachapel.com
Green Bay Floral (greens/succulents) http://www.greenbayfloral.net
Almond & Ivy (macarons) http://www.cakeandcookiellc.com
Ashley Viste (photos of me and some details)

Personal Post: loving a baby after losing a baby

Those of you who follow the blog closely may have noticed a gap in last year’s posts. When I write, I write from the heart – I share about sessions, travels, and thoughts on photography and life in general. But during those months there was only one thing on my mind, and it wasn’t something I was ready to share.

As most of our readers know, Ben and I are expecting a baby in October. I am seven months along and typing this blog as the baby flutters in my belly and I agonize over how much more water I should be drinking. I feel good and capable in my body – an incredible gift. This baby has given me a bigger reason to share what I had gathered up in my heart last year, and now I feel ready to talk about our first pregnancy.

In February of last year, Ben and I learned we were going to be parents. We were overjoyed and reveled in the magic of it all. We fantasized about baby moccasins and sharing the news with our families. I dreamt of nurseries and family traditions. It amazed me how much we loved that baby right from the start, surrounding it with our dreams for a future together.

But at our first ultrasound appointment, eight weeks into the pregnancy, the baby was small. We watched the heartbeat flutter on the screen like a tiny, flickering light, but the doctor said it was measuring at six weeks instead of eight. Two weeks later our little baby still hadn’t grown and our doctor confirmed what we had been hoping and praying against; that baby wouldn’t make it.

We shared the news with our closest family without ever having the opportunity to celebrate our initial joy. I sunk into depression. In my dreams each night I was still pregnant, and when I woke in the morning I felt empty. I had spent the past few months caring for my body with new purpose, seeing everything I consumed as fuel for the baby; so with the baby gone, treatment of my body bordered on destructive. There were complications to my miscarriage that resulted in a physical reminder for days, weeks, months. I couldn’t find myself or the things I was passionate about.

It was easy to feel alone in the loss because I couldn’t explain what I was feeling. There was no memorial service or official goodbye, just a slow, agonizing loss. Family and friends told me over and again “just because this happened once, doesn’t mean it will happen again”. They were trying to console what they imagined was worry about my future. It wasn’t worry; I wasn’t even in a place to consider my future. It was mourning. I was mourning the loss of that baby – that individual whom I already loved.

Months passed by and little by little I fell into my normal routines. Slowly I was able to find moments of joy and reflect with bittersweetness on the memories. There were still days when I couldn’t make it out of bed, but in between I was getting better. It was as though I was reassembling myself from old and new parts. The last feeling to fall into place was anticipation – something I thought I had lost for good.

And now, here we are. Almost exactly one year later we conceived this baby. Doctor appointments have us terrified, and the weeks between them are nearly intolerable. We guarded our hearts, yearning for that golden “12 week mark” and when we hit it, I was still fearful and newly desperate to make it to 20 weeks when we would see an ultrasound. People have asked why we waited so long to announce and why we adamantly held off on celebrating. This is why. When we made plans to announce our pregnancy, I already knew I couldn’t share news of this new life and find perfect joy in it without also sharing our history.

I know this perspective may be foreign to some (even those who have experienced similar circumstances), and I honestly believe there is no right or wrong way to feel about anything – especially something so complex as parenthood. I am simply writing my experience because I need it out in the world. We’ve shared with you our love and anticipation, but my heart yearned to honor our first baby as well.


Above photos taken by KL Creative at 20 weeks pregnant.
Read More: I am Thankful – Pain for Pain, Joy for Joy
See More from our Announcement Session: Baby On Board

Personal Post: baby on board

We’ve been keeping a secret, and it’s time to share! Ben and I are excited to announce we’re expecting a little one to join our family this fall! Baby Hock is due October 27, 2017. Big sister Pieper doesn’t seem to get it, but she’s thrilled about the midday naps!
Stay tuned for more.
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Photo session in Door County by Kayla LeBlanc of KL Creative.

Personal Post: turning 30 and celebrating with confetti

Maybe I’ve watched too much Sex and the City but turning 30 never scared me. I didn’t associate it with growing old, or needing to achieve some unreachable level of wisdom. Instead, my milestone aligns with goals as frivolous as thinking I might figure out how to dress better and cook actual meals (like meat that roasts in the oven – can you imagine?) It’s not as though “growing up” gives us some free pass to no longer think critically and use our actions to make a difference, it’s more that our experience shows us that there is no age when all our questions are answered. As it turns out, divine wisdom doesn’t come down on our birthdays to provide the certainty to feel like we “know what we’re doing” (or if it does, I haven’t hit that birthday yet).

Keeping our eyes high above daily life would mean overlooking our small achievements and disregarding little moments of feeling at peace with where we are at. That’s not how I want to live my life – pretending I’m too [smart, serious, high-minded] to enjoy whatever silly goal I have set or accomplished. Each, deserves recognition.

For me 30 means setting intentions (big and little) but also allowing myself the freedom and forgiveness to quit things that don’t work. It means taking chances that scare me, owning up to what I want, and making time to sit quietly with myself. Big ideas begin with small actions, and sometimes that’s as simple as better sharing the love you have for the people in your life or taking a break when your mind/body says you need it.

So I might not “know what I’m doing” but I can find bliss in the questions, and triumph in the tiny fractions of answers I stumble upon. In the meantime, I will break out the confetti and champagne for the littlest of achievements and I encourage you to do the same. Cheers!


Photos above ^^ taken with Jackie and Ashley, my elementary school buds and closest friends, by Riverland Studios in Charleston, SC. If you liked this post and want to read something similar, please check out Three Years of Marriage and I Still Do and Why We Need to Stop Comparing Ourselves.

Personal Post: girls’ weekend in charleston, south carolina

Birthdays are a big deal in my family. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 3 or 30, it will be celebrated with multiple events, fancy desserts, and lots of family and friends. (Check out The Family of Over-Celebrators blog post after this!) When I thought about how I wanted to spend my 30th, a big party or gift didn’t feel right, and around fall I began thinking about a girls’ trip. I contacted my friends and we started brainstorming places that were warm and historic. When I imagined our trip, I saw long brunches, pretty views, and a little time to draw… all of which I got in our four days in Charleston.

My friends, Jackie, Ashley, and I flew to Charlotte, NC and made the drive south, stopping for high tea at Laura’s Tea Room halfway there. We stayed in a little bed and breakfast rental with a beautiful garden courtyard and felt absolutely spoiled. After an afternoon wandering the historic neighborhood, we made a picnic from goodies gathered at the local farmers market and checked out White Point Gardens. The next day was Magnolia Plantation (where we got a little sketching in) and Folly Beach where I watched my friends dive into waves with exactly the same enthusiasm we would have had in middle school.

Ashley described the trip as a “mental reset” and I think she’s exactly right. With friendships as old as ours and distances so great in between, four days together was a luxury. The more candles on my cake, the more blessed I feel to have a life that allows me to see new places, try new things, and reconnect with my favorite people.

Personal Post: what do you bring to the viewfinder?

People who are makers are makers their whole lives. It doesn’t matter if they are artists or musicians, gardeners or pipefitters; those who were born to make will keep their hands busy and minds wandering.

When I went to art school, I imagined myself as a painter or ceramicist, covered in clay and acrylic. My goals changed when I had my first photography class with Sarah Detweiler. I didn’t love those messy mediums any less, but images took on new meaning. I was amazed at how the simplest objects and scenes were open to interpretation. Sarah explained that each of us comes to the viewfinder with our own voice, whether we know it or not. This photographic voice is built of our past experiences, our opinions and political views, our taste in clothing, our relationship with our families, and so much more. Everything that we are, and everything we surround ourselves with affects what we choose to make.

People often reject photography as a passive medium – unartistic because of how “easy” it can be to take a snapshot and how little we alter our environment before photographing. But I will argue (alongside every photography theorist) that the decision to take the image, is, in itself, and alteration of the environment. As viewers, we are not seeing a hotel or a sign or a person as a whole experience; we are seeing exactly what the photographer has chosen for us to see. Their inflection and bias is added to the image by what they cropped out, what they left in, what perspective they chose, and a thousand other micro-decisions that make up the artwork.

In my “Developing a Creative Vision” class at Peninsula Art School in Fish Creek, we talk about these natural attractions that appear in our work with repetition. As see-ers, we are moved by certain colors, textures, angles, objects, etc and they call us to take a photograph. You can see my attractions simply by looking at two rolls of film from my personal work (above: from September and October 2016). I am attracted to vintage ephemera (hand painted signs, neon, roadside oddities, vernacular architecture). I get pulled in by natural light and faded colors (especially blues and reds). Nearly all of my photographs are “straight-on” – deadpan with no dramatic angles and little action, and it is rare to see a person, especially one who addresses the camera.

When we know what we are attracted to, we better understand the images we are making and how they will function as a body of work. This awareness makes us better see-ers and better photographers. Details on my upcoming class below.

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Above images taken in Wisconsin and Michigan on 35 mm film.
To sign up for “Developing a Creative Vision Class” at Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek on July 13, 2017, please visit PSA .
For more blog posts about thinking creatively, check out: Liking What you Like and Honoring Your Thoughts .

Personal Post: making maple syrup

March is the dullest month of the year. We rush into March with dreams of spring and (as yesterday’s massive snowstorm proves) we are rewarded with another month of winter parading itself as a new season. Stuck somewhere between “winter wonderland” and “budding spring” I usually use these weeks to update our website, clean out the junk drawers, and make plans for warmer days. But last year we started a new March tradition with our family: making homemade maple syrup.

Learning to make maple syrup had been on our bucket list for awhile, and in the summer of 2015 we casually mentioned it to my grandpa at the farmhouse in Door County. Turns out, years ago, when the land was still an orchard, grandpa’s family used to tap the sugar maples every year. Some rummaging through the picker’s cabins drummed up pails and beautiful, old spiles. It was with a complete lack of knowledge and an impetuous spirit that we tackled our new project last spring.

On a Monday afternoon we cancelled our previously scheduled plans and drove up to Baileys Harbor on a whim. Using a hand-drill and hammer we knocked the spiles into the sugar maples around the farthest reaches of the property with no plans of how or when to retrieve them. By midweek the jugs were overflowing and mom and uncle Keven were scrambling to replace them in time. Maple tapping had begun.

Between small cookstove batches, there was a sap boiling weekend where all of us were there together. Gallon after gallon of sap simmered down over the wood fire while we gathered more jugs and spent the long lulls in camp chairs eating hot dogs and drinking coffee. The end result was 30+ jars of sweet syrup and one of my favorite rolls of film to date.

This year we’re making a few changes with some new tools, five gallon pails, and a little more forethought. We will be changing our boiling time to make the syrup thicker and sweeter than last year’s batch. March might not be good for much, but it’s definitely good for maple syrup.


Film scans above from March 2016, Nikon FG 35mm Kodak Portra 400

Personal Post: fall day trips

Wisconsin-Midwestern-Adventure-Photographer-Explore-St-Louis-Crivitz-Northwoods-Vintage-Moped-Cabin-1 Wisconsin-Midwestern-Adventure-Photographer-Explore-St-Louis-Crivitz-Northwoods-Vintage-Moped-Cabin-2You know those Fridays when you are about to pack for the weekend, then realize you never unpacked from last weekend and the ten outfits you actually wear, are in the laundry? It’s the busy season scramble with work to be done, great weather to be enjoyed, and the overnight bag ready for adventure!

In this winter lull, I have a moment to organize our personal photos from the past few months, and in doing so, I realized this fall was filled with fun day trips. There was the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in late August, a day-long moped trip in September, an October weekend in St. Louis (with a stop at the Leinenkugel’s Brewery), and Ben’s birthday celebration at a cabin in November. On Monday we came home with full hearts (and memory cards) and by Thursday, we were already preparing for the next outing. A more practical person may be tempted to feel domestic guilt for all the weeks where our refrigerator only contained mustard and beer, but I know better. There are only so many summer days that hit 70°, and only so many fall days that hit 50°, and if I’m in the grocery store pushing around a cart and missing one of the twenty beautiful sunsets on one of the ten warm evenings, well, that just won’t do.

Photography drew me in because it gives me the ability to capture things. My restless side is just another urge to keep events, places, feelings, and sensations, storing them away in my memory. That way, when there are no trips on the horizon and no sun in the sky, I’ve got memories of day trips like these to keep me warm.

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Photos above are film scans (Kodak Portra 35 mm) from August-October 2016.

Personal Post: i am thankful, pain for pain, joy for joy

Hazel-Door-County-Film-Photographer-Northwoods-Summer-1 Hazel-Door-County-Film-Photographer-Northwoods-Summer-2The day my film scans arrive back is like magic. When we wait for weeks or months, the memories of long weekends and summer nights begins to fade, but in handling the prints, I have those feelings back in tangible way – the good, the bad, and the bittersweet. Every moment is replayed in emulsion with the soft texture of film and I remember vividly how I felt when I made each image.

I have been absent from the personal blog for a few months. When I write these posts I write from the heart, and sometimes it can be difficult to touch upon what I feel and what I want to say about it. Even now, with so many photos I want to share, the clarity of phrasing isn’t quite clear, other than to say I am thankful. I am thankful for my beautiful home, my capable body, and most of all, my family. When things are good, family celebrates in our joys, and when things are bad, they are the people who check in every. damn. day. Not out of obligation, not because they’re sad we’re sad or happy we’re happy, but because they feel it 100% – pain for pain, joy for joy.

I have people like this in my life – family I am related to, and people whose lives have become intertwined with mine in the unlikeliest of circumstances. I am grateful for both. Life is built experiencing the feelings of others in whatever way we can. I am showing up for that – pain for pain, joy for joy.

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Film scans above ^^ from summer events with friends and family around Fourth of July.

Personal Post: why we travel

California-Travel-Wanderlust-Big-Sur-San-Fransisco-Beach-Photographer-Road-TripIf you’re in contact with us often, you’ll find that a few times each year your email will bounce back with an out-of-office message telling you that we’re away somewhere exploring. Sometimes it’s a big trip (like our spring visit to France) and sometimes it’s a few hours north for a weekend in the land of no phone service. I’ve always had the travel bug, and, aside from blaming it on genetics, I often wonder where it comes from. What is it that drives us to travel again and again?

Let’s start with what it’s not. I know it is not dissatisfaction with where we live. I love our little downtown home in a city that’s just starting to rediscover itself, and I love where I’m from originally – the beautiful Door Peninsula with beaches 20 miles in any direction. Instead, I think it has to do with two things: curiosity and re-appreciation. Curiosity is what drives the desire to plan the trip. It’s what has us wondering, “What do the buildings look like there? What does the food taste like there? What does the weather feel like there?” It’s a sort of yearning to experience new things that aren’t a part of our day-to-day lives (which can be as simple – or as profound – as seeing mountains for the first time when you spent your whole life in the flatlands of eastern Wisconsin).

In my experience, if we give ourselves enough time with one place, these discoveries are followed by a humbling gratefulness for being more connected to the rest of the world.

The second part, re-appreciation, is harder to explain. Re-apprceiation (although it’s possible that I just made that word up) is the thing that has us coming home from a trip happier and more bonded to the people in our lives. When we travel as a family, as a couple, or as a group of friends, we are working together to overcome obstacles (language barriers, getting lost, travel anxieties) and there are moments that require skills we don’t often use at home. Partners are reminded of the wonderful characteristics and talents possessed by this person they love that are easily forgotten in our day-to-day lives where so many “conversations” revolve around how much laundry there is to do, or the leak that needs to be fixed, or the obligations that fill the weekend. We can more easily feel those skills – patience, flexibility, creative problem solving, street savviness – when we are out of our normal spaces, away from our jobs, and more open to everything around us, including each other.

This is why we travel. This is why each year includes plans of an adventure to someplace we’ve never been. It’s why my idea book comes home fuller, my film all spent and memory cards depleted, a suitcase of dirty laundry, and that feeling of happy exhaustion.

Images above are 35 mm film scans from our trip to California in late February.

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