Thursday, December 17, 2015

Family Pictures and Christmas Cards 2015

I used to not really be into professional photography...except for our wedding, of course.  I could never justify the money, as they can be a pretty big investment.  I was always content to have a family member take pictures for us, and they usually turned out pretty good.  I changed my mind when Stella was born.  Mark and I both tend to be pretty frugal and it serves us well, but professional family pictures are something I don't mind spending the money on anymore.  They last a lifetime, are impossible to capture on your own, and these days there is an abundant selection of photographers at various price points.  Their talent, creativity, and detailed editing are worth every penny in my opinion!

Last winter I wanted to test out a local photographer before booking an entire photo shoot, so we did a holiday mini-session for a discounted price.  This is also a great option if you are looking to save money and are OK with only getting around 10 images (might be difficult if you have young children because you only get a 10-15 minute time slot, so you just kinda have to judge their temperament).  You can read about that photo session HERE.  I was very impressed with her work, so we did a full session at the end of August this year. 

We had to re-schedule once because it was a gloomy, drizzly day on the original day we booked.  The photographer specializes in her beautiful use of sunlight, that is what drew me to her work, so it was really important to have a day with a good sunset.  We had the perfect day on the second shot!  We met at a local park about an hour before sunset and she was able to get lots of beautiful images.  I was so happy with it!  The only downside to our session was when we tried to get our dog Kaiser in some shots.  He listens pretty well, but he was overly excited.  Normally this wouldn't be a huge deal, he would have calmed down, but at the time Stella was going through a (jealousy?) phase where she didn't even like us to talk to Kaiser.  She cried every time we even said his name.  So in the image with him you will see her tearing up.  I still like the picture, even if not every shot is perfect it is all about capturing what your life is like at that point in time.  That's what you want to remember when you look back!  So that is one of my favorite images of the day :-) 

A few weeks after our photo shoot I went to the (beautiful!) photography studio to view the images and place my order.  She has handmade Organic Bloom picture frames that are simply stunning!  I ordered a collage of those plus an extra frame.  When we re-do our master suite this winter those will be making an appearance!  I was so pleased with the whole experience, Sarah's attention to detail is just amazing.  She even sends you off with a delicious red velvet cake and bottle of wine as a thank-you doesn't get better than that!  If you live in the area you have to check out her work (Sarah Sunstrom Photography).  I see us doing pictures again in a few years!

OK, now that I've bragged on how well our session went and how in love I am with Sarah's work it's finally time to share my favorite images!  I compiled them into a collage for easy viewing, but you can see them all individually HERE (if you have Facebook).
Once I owned the rights to the photos, I was able to share them with family.  I ordered wallets of Stella (to pass out as her 2 year pictures), a few family gifts for Christmas (some came complimentary from Sarah!) and of course our annual Christmas cards from Shutterfly.  I must say I wasn't really impressed with Shutterfly this year.  Their prices have gone up, and when I ordered our cards on Cyber Monday it took FOREVER!  I will definitely be looking into a different site next year.  I also couldn't figure out how I uploaded our Christmas cards on here last year, so I had to take a picture and then upload them this year.  Not the best quality but it will have to do!

I am grateful to say we have been healthy thus far this holiday season (knock on wood!)  My house is decorated, our real tree is up, holiday Scentsy has been burning, and almost all of my shopping is done!  This weekend I'm grabbing the rest of the gifts, wrapping them and we're taking Stella to see Santa (or HOHO as she calls him) and look at Christmas lights.  Tomorrow night we also have Mark's work Christmas party.  I'm excited to try out a new festive appetizer and I bought myself a bottle of sparkling cider...looking forward to a date night before a crazy Christmas weekend!  I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, I will do a post on all our holiday adventures next weekend.  Stay safe, stay healthy, enjoy the holiday and remember the reason for the season!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

18 Week Bump Update!

My first trimester seemed to drag this time...I was so sick and it was hard to wait until we could share the news.  Since I entered the second trimester, however, time is flying by!  I have so much to get done before baby arrives!!  But for now, a quick bump update will have to do...

Physical Changes:
I am already showing, and have been for quite a while.  They say that happens after your first pregnancy.  I haven't gained as much weight as last time though...probably due to all that nausea in the first trimester!  My goal is to weigh the exact same at 20 weeks prego as I did with Stella...even though I haven't gained as much, I started out 7 pounds heavier with this baby.  Then I aim to only gain a pound a week until I deliver, which should put me at gaining about 40 pounds with this pregnancy.  That's 10 pounds less than with Stella, which will help because those last 10 were the hardest to lose!!  Other than my growing belly, I have been fighting terrible headaches (which I finally had to get medicine for from my doctor...basically Tylenol with a little added caffeine...perfectly safe just gives me a boost to get through the headache.  They were so bad a few days I couldn't leave the couch.)  I have also had very sensitive teeth and nosebleeds and stuffiness when I forget to run my humidifier at night.    Heartburn is also starting to rear its' ugly head, time to re-invest in a drawer full of Tums!  Happily I do think I've felt some movement already from my little babe...although they are so small it's hard to tell at this point.  Stella was always behind the placenta so I rarely felt her the whole pregnancy which was kinda sad.  Hopefully I feel more movement this time, it's so special :-)

Emotional Outbursts?
I don't think I've been too emotional this time.  Already having a daughter keeps me pretty busy and grounded, not as much time for irrational fears!  Sometimes I laugh really hard for no reason...which is kinda weird yet kinda normal for me so hard to say if it's the baby doing it to me or not!  My main concerns right now are staying healthy and getting our tiny house ready for 2 kiddos!  I sure plan to make the most of this winter and feeling my best in trimester 2!

Staying Healthy:
Uggg.  The struggle has been HUGE this time.  I was so exhausted, nauseous, and plagued by headaches for 14 weeks, on top of taking care of Stella and trying SO HARD to get her caught up developmentally, that taking care of myself didn't go well.  I did good enough to take care of my baby, but it certainly could have been better.  But now that I am feeling better and have my energy back I am getting myself back on track.  I am putting my exercise, clean eating plans, and motivation back to work so that I can look and feel my best throughout the rest of my pregnancy!  Gotta have some energy for all the work that needs done around here...

Preparing for Baby:
Haven't done much so far!!  After mustering through trimester 1, I started feeling better but then all my attention was on Stella's birthday and now the holidays.  I am allowing myself to enjoy the holidays and experience them stress-free (except the normal holiday stress, of course!).  Then I have lots on my to-do list this winter...clean up the nursery and get all baby's items and clothes out, set up Stella's big girl bedroom, deep clean our house and make a few changes to our master suite, organize our basement (which sadly now looks worse than when we moved in!  so much stuff!), hopefully get Stella caught up developmentally and possibly potty-trained (fingers crossed!), get all my scrap booking caught up, do some work to my blog, and take better care of myself.  Yikes that is quite the list for 3 months, and that's just off the top of my head!  I plan to spend the last month enjoying my time with Stella and resting up for all those sleepless nights!  The timing of this pregnancy is perfect...right when I feel my best the weather keeps us inside so I will have plenty of time to work on all my projects. is due during Mark's busiest time of year (AGAIN, since he has a new job...we gotta quit doing that!) so that timing isn't on our side.  It will all work out :-)

Belly Pics:
Only have one new one for this update...

I did have a check-up last week with an ultrasound, so we do know the sex of our baby already!  We plan to share the news with our families at Christmas, and I will do a public post soon after that :-)