A Rustic Senior Photo Session, Hannah

The morning of the day of Hannah’s senior photo session I thought I was going to loose my mind. Issa was having one of those terrible days where babies just cry and scream and you have no idea what’s wrong because they can’t tell you and it could be anything and the few words they can use, flower, balloon, ball, dada, etc. don’t really aid the situation. It was a day I felt guilty, I felt like I couldn’t be a mom and do what I love. I questioned my ability to mother. I questioned God’s trust in me to do both, mother a child and a business. It was, plain and simple, a very hard day.

Fast forward, we dropped Issa off at a friend’s house, I apologized for giving them that kid, in that state. I shook off the unsettled feelings of the morning and went to work, and it was magical. It was a gift of an afternoon. Perfect weather, perfect cloud cover, perfect location. Perfect client.

I’d met Hannah at Jenna’s senior photo session the week prior, so we already had a good rapport. She’s a fantastic person, outgoing and quite funny and she was absolutely natural in front of the camera, her mom attributed this to selfies on instagram and snap chat. Jenna’s brother was kind enough to bring his pristine 1986 GMC truck, which was their parents truck when they were kids.

And while we were doing the session all the stresses of the day washed right away. It was easy. It was energizing, and it affirmed in my heart that this is also my calling and that doing it makes me a better person and thus a better mom to my daughter.

So thank you Hannah for giving me the opportunity to shoot your senior photos. It meant a lot to me.
Spring Senior Photographer Tomball Texas Senior Photographer Rustic Senior Photos in Spring Texas, Vintage Truck Senior Photography Spring, Texas Classic Truck Senior Photographer Spring Texas Rustic Rural

A Senior Photography Session, Jenna

Jenna found me online, but oddly enough that whole six degrees of separation thing worked because she rides horses at the same stables in Tomball, TX that Jaclyn rode at when I did her senior photo session about two years ago. When Jenna filled out her client info form and I read she wanted to take her senior photos with her horse I was elated. I loved shooting at those stables and horses have a special place in my heart.

The session with Jenna was full of laughter, she brought her friend Hannah along (who also did her senior session with us, more on that later) and her mom. Jenna and Hannah together were hysterical. They’re both fantastic ladies, headed to A&M, and I was just honored to spend some time with them and capture this part of their lives.

Spring, TX Senior Photographer, Jenna and Horse Spring, TX Senior Photo, Jenna and Horse Tomball, TX Senior Photographer, Jenna and Horse Tomball, TX Senior Photo, Jenna and Horse

 

Someone is Stealing Babies

I’ve always had this feeling in the back of my mind that someone might take Issa away from me. The moment I held her in my arms I felt a genuine fear, that at any moment, someone would just walk in and say, no we made a mistake, she’s not yours to keep. I’ve heard other mothers talk about this fear, I’ve heard my own mom talk about it when she had me. I think it’s something all moms feel.

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I had many dreams while I was pregnant in which, someone took my baby. The most vivid was early in my pregnancy, before we knew Issa was a girl. I dreamt we went on a vacation to Mexico, and I was drugged and when I woke I was no longer pregnant, they told me I had delivered my baby, but I had no recollection of it. They handed me a little boy. I kept telling everyone that the little boy was not my baby, that I was supposed to have a girl. In my dream an underground society got in touch with me to let me in on a secret that the Mexican government was switching out American tourist’s babies with native babies in an attempt to smuggle them into the US and they were going to help me get my little girl back. Yes, that part was crazy. My point though, that fear was there. Even before Issa was born, even before I knew she was a she.

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I must also note that even though I thought for sure she was a boy, in every dream I had while I was pregnant, she was a girl. Weird.

But back to the baby theft.

Issa turned one this past Sunday and this has been mulling around in my head for the past week. Our motherly fears are real, and completely valid, the frightening thing is there is someone stealing our babies. Time is stealing them right from under our noses.

Everyone said, “soak in the baby time, it doesn’t last long.” It’s the thing people say to you when you’re pregnant with your first child. And I’ve wanted to say it to many of my new mom friends, but just like you can’t really explain how hard it really is in the first few weeks with a newborn, you can’t really explain how time just swoops right in and you blink and they’re walking and saying balloon and developing into tiny humans.

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I’m concerned about the day she’s a teenager. It’s those days where she’s going to start pulling away, and being sassy, and all of that that really get me nervous. I know there will be a day she’ll slam a door in my face or yell at me to get out of her business or something all angsty and teenagery and I’m going to look at her and think, that’s the baby I held. That’s my little girl. And my heart will break a little because she won’t know. She won’t understand. You always know your parents love you, you just don’t comprehend how they love you until you have children of your own.

So mom, I’m sorry father time stole the baby version of me from you. I’m sorry for when I was angsty and teenagery and rude. I didn’t get it. Not until now. Thank you for being my mom. And thank you for loving me, I’m glad I finally get it.

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But I suppose as moms we learn to let go. We learn to let go of the baby stage, to love it, to cherish it, to remember it, but to let time run it’s course. And maybe in 17 years I’ll be ready to let her go into the world. But in the mean time I’m going to enjoy every moment, every new stage, everything about watching and guiding her into the woman she will become. And then maybe one day, she’ll have a baby of her own and I’ll get to say, “see, now you get it.”

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Social Media, Digital Media and Real Life

My (almost) 11 month old is insanely drawn to my iPhone. If it’s sitting anywhere in the house within her reach she goes for it. We decided long before she was born we would never hand her our phone to entertain her, that we’d teach her it wasn’t hers. We even bought a play phone with buttons and sounds that enthusiastically say things like “hi baby” and “good morning” so that we could hand it to her and say, “no baby that’s not your phone, this is your phone.”

Our purpose was mostly so she wouldn’t grab a friend or family member’s phone, end up breaking it, and then we’re out $400+ buying a new one. Still, there was a small part of me that really thought we could curtail her addiction to screened objects. But still, she always goes for our phones, always.

I really started trying to figure out why, and it didn’t take me long. Our lives are inundated with screens, iPads, TVs, computers, etc. I’m not complaining and I’m not saying it’s wrong, but what I am trying to point out is our codependency. I’ve noticed that even while working at home or watching Issa I make sure my phone is within arms reach. And it’s not in case someone calls. It’s so I can check Facebook, or Instagram, or scroll through pinterest. I’ve noticed myself reaching for my phone and clicking that little blue F icon during lulls in conversation with my husband, or during commercials on hulu, times we used to talk. It’s as if I can not be not entertained. I must fill my life. And as Issa becomes more and more self sufficient and better and better at self playing I find myself reaching for my phone or ipad to fill my life’s dead air time. My daughter sees that. And there’s something really, really awful about this.

It’s because it’s neglect.

Yep, I said it, neglect.

I’m neglecting play/teaching time with my child, or sporadic conversation with my husband, which as I recall, before smartphones, often spurred some of our most interesting discussions. I’m neglecting those natural human interaction moments with my most cherished loved ones to see what is happening on a news feed with someone I don’t even know. I’ve noticed myself just reading Facebook statuses without even acknowledging who wrote them. It’s become filler. And I’m about done.

I’m not saying I’m giving up social media or digital media all together. They’re great. They keep me connected to family and friends far away. There’s lots of good stuff there. But I’ve decided I want to be more intentional. More intentional about what I’m doing during my down time, even if it’s just for a few moments. More intentional about the time I spend with my family. More intentional about when I’m surfing digital media. More connected to those who are physically present in my life.

It’s hard, it’s a habit, picking up that phone when there’s nothing particularly exciting going on. I do it without even realizing it. But the thing that keeps me going on breaking the addition is the idea that one day I might be completely zoned into scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest while Issa self plays and I’ll miss her first steps. Or that we might be missing some sort of bonding or connection or that she might develop slower in some area because of the digital wall I have between us.

So no more wall. No more filler. I must be intentional. I refuse to miss things, miss real life.

After doing a little research I found this fantastic infographic that really shows how we as a country are spending our time.

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Twelve hours? If the average person gets at least 8 hours of sleep that leaves 4 hours a day of non screen time. That’s it. And that’s sad. I don’t want to be that average person and I’ve started doing my best not to be.

 

The Rodriguez Family – A Sun Soaked Winter Family Photo Session

Lori found me through Instagram, through a mutual friend, which kind of blows my mind and totally makes me critique every photo I’ve ever posted on Instagram. It turns out we know a lot of the same people from childhood and on. The world is so small when you get right down to it.

Lori has a very sweet little family who was adventurous enough to book a family session with me. Her daughter is adorable and loves bubbles. Bill did a lot of bubble work during this session but we got some good smiles and some really serious looks too. The light was beautiful and I loved watching their little family run through a sun soaked field with airplane arms. Here are a few of my favorites from their session.

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Thank you Lori for booking a session with us. It was great getting to know you and spending time with your family.

Spinning Wheels

There’s two things happening lately, my brain is reeling, the wheels are turning and turning and turning. I also feel like I’m spinning my creative/business wheels in the mud, spinning with all my might without going anywhere and instead only spurting mud all over everything.

Bottom line, I’ve got a lot on my mind:

Facebook Banner-issa My baby turns one soon, wasn’t I just pregnant? Didn’t I just give birth to her? Every event this year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Superbowl, I’ve thought, “this time last year I was pregnant”. We’ve got a big first birthday party planned and that’s taking up the space in my brain that would otherwise be super emotional. But I scheduled the party for the day before her actual birthday because I’m 100% sure on March 9th, I’m going to be emotional. Heck, I’m almost crying now.

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My godfather and uncle passed away this week. He was a good man. He has two daughters, my cousins, who are the closest thing to sisters I’ll ever have. My heart is breaking for them. He was the kind of man who would play Mall Madness and Girl Talk with us when we were kids. He made the trip from New York to Oklahoma to attend our wedding and danced with all of our friends. About 6 months later he came to our Grandmother’s funeral even though he’d been divorced from my aunt for years. I wish terribly I could be in New York on Friday and Saturday for the wake and funeral. Not only to say goodbye to him but to hold my cousins’ hands and cry with them. Death sucks.

We’re still finding the balance in our household of being parents, homeowners, friends, people who love God, business owners and husband and wife. It’s hard, and ever changing. I read a book once about being a good father. Yeah it wasn’t really for me but our church handed them out and I thought heck, might as well read it. One thing stuck with me, it’s ok to busy as long as you’re balanced. We’re working on it.

Business wise I feel like I’m spending all of my extra time working without lots of results, and it’s because I am. The majority of my time is occupied by a very adorable almost 11 month old and instead of spending an hour long nap time doing something for me like my nails (which have been painted once since she’s been born, for my high school reunion), I’m working at top speed. Nights are spent working. I’m becoming covetous of my time, because it’s so limited. I feel like I should be using it the best of my ability. I love what I do. I have two children, my business and my baby and sharing time between the two can be hard. Being with one produces guilt from neglecting the other. It’s that balance thing all over again. And again, I’m working on it.

I’ve also decided that I need to do some shoots for me. I’ve got a bunch of ideas floating around in my brain and I want them to come out. I’ve done sketches, made prop lists, brainstormed locations. Now I just need the families and folks to plop into my ideas. It’s good for the creative mind. I’m really excited. More on that later.

And that’s all for now.

4 Baby Products that Saved My Sanity in the First Weeks of Motherhood

Note: I drafted this post months ago and realized it never got posted, so here ya go. I’ll be adding an updated version with the products that have saved my sanity more recently as she’s grown.

I’m currently listening to the book Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, by John Medina. If you have any interest in child development or your baby’s brain read it. It’s fantastic. Or if you don’t have time to read it listen to it while you nurse, that seems to be the only extra quiet time I have these days. He states, “If you feel like you can’t do it [parenting] alone it’s because you were never meant to.” He’s not referring to having a spouse or a partner he’s talking about alloparenting, where in addition to the parents, individuals other than the parents act in a parenting roll. Apparently, back in the day this is how it was, people lived close by, grandparents lived with their children and grandchildren, there was community. I suppose that’s where the whole, “it takes a village to raise a child” thing comes from. Because it does. Except we’re trying to do it alone. Which goes back to my post a while back about adjusting to life as a parent and how freaking hard it is.

But, we have amazing friends and family that offer up help often and it’s helped me keep my sanity. Somewhat. Our dream of three kids has been slimmed down to two. Still, over the last 10 months we’ve learned a lot and we’ve grown and flexed and lacked sleep. Through all of it we’ve discovered a few things, products sold in stores that have aided in the sanity saving and I want to scream from the roof tops of their amazingness. So here it goes.

1. The Swing

Before delivery day, or D-Day as Bill has come to refer to it, I was very much in the camp of I don’t want my house filled with baby stuff. I’m still living in that camp but have also come to realize that if I want my sanity to remain in tact I’m going to have to make a few considerations. Enter the baby swing, specifically the Fisher-Price My Little Lamb Platinum Edition Cradle ‘n Swing. It was in a frenzy of sleep deprivation and pure desperation that my mom and I started a hunt for a swing. She said it was one of the only things that would help her get through the day with me. So I figured if genetics played any part it would work with Issa and I might get her to sit, not in my arms, just long enough to eat a warm meal. We ended up with the Fisher-Price My Little Lamb Platinum Edition Cradle ‘n Swing because it was more compact than most swings, the colors were neutral and would meld well into my decor, and as the complete stranger and new father in the aisle stated, “It’s so soft and looks so comfy I wish they’d make an adult version.”

The verdict, she likes it. Most importantly it gives me anywhere from 10-45 minutes of time where I get to do things with two hands, and sometimes for multiple times during the day. Plus it’s the perfect height for Sam to come sniff her and lick her toes.

 

2. Colic Calm

My daughter has gas. Like serious gas. Like man sized nasty dog fart stinking clear the room gas. And unfortunately, sometimes, it hurts her a lot. And then she cries. And then I cry. Until we found Colic Calm. We tried the over the counter stuff the pharmacist recommended, I’ve tried changing my diet. Nothing was working. I had heard about gripe water so when we got to Babies R Us I read through all the ingredients on all the bottles and Colic Calm was the only product where I could understand the ingredients and easily know what they were. It’s all natural which makes this granola mama really happy, and if you want to know more about the ingredients and how it works what the video on their website, it explains everything better than I ever could. All I know is it works, almost immediately and it allows her to pass the gas and it allows us to sleep.

3. Munchkin Lulla-Vibe Vibrating Mattress Pad

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned but my kid likes to be moving. They say never shake a baby, but she loves to be rocked and bounced and jostled. It makes her calm and it puts her to sleep. Which is all good and fine until we put her down in her bed, where she would immediately wake up. I kept thinking there had to be something that could vibrate her bed, a quick google search later I found the Munchkin Lulla-Vibe Vibrating Mattress Pad and I was at Babies R Us in minutes to buy it. This thing is gold. It goes in her bed, in her bassinet, and with us when we travel. I wish there was a mini version for her car seat (she screams when we stop at red lights). Again, most of all it’s allowed us to sleep.

4. The Hava Sling

I was always curious about baby wearing, it’s almost a cult of sorts, and pretty granola too, so I figured I’d test it out. There are about 3,000 slings on the market, some of which have been recalled. So I chatted with a friend who uses them and she kindly let me borrow her Hava Sling. She showed me how to use it and I read all the tutorials online. Let me just say this sucker has allowed me to shop at Wal-mart, Target, and Ikea for 2 plus hours, EACH. Once I get her in there within a few minutes she’s asleep. If she isn’t asleep she’s happily looking around and chill because she’s close to me and doing her favorite thing, bouncing along with every step I take. I will never be that parent who’s child just chills in the car seat in the shopping cart. She hates it. Not to mention car seats were never meant to clip into shopping carts and can tip over at any moment, but that’s another post for another blog.

A 2014 Senior Photo Session Special

Calling all 2014 Houston and Spring, TX area Seniors (or their parents)!! Book a senior photo session before February 28, 2014 and get $25 in print credit! Session space is limited, so book by e-mailing us at info@dilibertophotoanddesign.com. Don’t have a senior? Please feel free to share this e-mail with friends and family. If they book, you’ll both get $25 in print credit!

Senior Photographer Photo Session Special Houston Spring Texas

The Nitty Gritty: Senior session must take place between Jan. 1, 2014 and Feb. 28, 2014. Print credit good towards photo prints only. Print senior print credit and refer a friend photo credit can not be used on past photo sessions and is not transferable. Session fee is $145 plus tax, half your session fee is due at the time you book.

Merry Christmas – A Card of Sorts

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year folks! I thought I’d share our little Christmas card from this year. I’ve shared a few of them in the past, here and here. I’d always thought I’d break into the fancy folded card with tons of pictures once we had a baby, but reality is I barely got cards out in time. We addressed them the day they came in the mail and shipped them off the next day, which was only about 5 days before Christmas. They’re one sided and simple but the picture taken by my dear friend Andrea really captures where we are right now; somewhat put together, a little nutty, but extraordinarily happy. I’m so thankful and honored to be Issabella’s mom and Bill’s wife. I’m ecstatic about what the new year holds and am bubbling forth with ideas and desires and dreams both family wise and business wise. Between our little family, our extended family and our very incredible circle of friends my heart is full. While at some times money may be tight or there never seems to be enough hours in a day one thing is for sure we are not lacking in love.

So with that I wish you the best Christmas possible and many blessings for the new year.

Custom Photo Christmas Card

Love is For the Byrds : A Wedding

We recently shot the wedding of a very good client who has, through our many photo sessions, become a friend as well. I absolutely adore Tiffany’s family. Back in April of 2012 we did a special little photo session of Tiffany and her girls. Then last December we did a huge family session with her entire crew of seven, which I just realized I never did a blog post about. But you can check out some of the images from that session over on our facebook page. Her Christmas card was probably one of the most creative we’ve ever made. One day we’ll top it. One day.

But not too long ago Tiffany and Paul tied the knot in a very intimate ceremony in their living room. I’ve shot many weddings but theirs was so special. Their vows were moving, and there were not only vows between each other but they vowed their love and dedication to each others kids which was one of the most personal and loving things I’ve ever seen. Their story is special as is their love for each other and I’m honored to have been the photographer to capture the intimate moments on their special day.

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Spring Wedding Photographer

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Wedding Photography Group Photo
The above group picture is one of my Photographer Bucket List shots. I’ve always wanted to do a shot with everyone in attendance at a wedding. The Byrd wedding was intimate enough that we were able to accomplish the shot and I love it! Tiffany and Paul also agreed to do a post wedding couples session. We did it the day after the wedding near their honeymoon hotel. Paul still had his tux and of course Tiffany still had her dress. So they got all dolled up again and braved the intense unseasonal cold that day and we got some fantastic shots. I love doing the couple shots the day after the wedding. Everyone is way more calm and less rushed and we have the opportunity and time to get really creative and create amazing art. Its a wonderful time of fun and a celebration of love.

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Thank you Tiffany and Paul! We loved being a part of your day.

Credits: Cake and Cake Pops by Stacy’s For the Love of Cake