Thankful Thursday

Wow, it's a hot one today! It definitely feels more like summer, just in time for the 4th of July. I really love the upcoming holiday - seeing the red, white, and blue buntings on front porches, the parades, and of course - the sparklers. It's the perfect day for grilling, hanging out with family, and biting into some juicy watermelon!


So it's Thursday, and time for a new list of things I'm thankful for, so here goes:
  • Vacations! I'm very thankful that Josh and I are able to take a vacation every summer, and I'm hoping we will have a relaxing (but fun) week away on our trip to NYC.
  • Spray tans. Superficial? Maybe - but since I'm relegated to the shade, spray tans are my new best friend in the summer.
  • 1 year warranties. We purchased a second 5d Mark II this spring and almost right away it was having some issues. Thank goodness for warranties, it's getting repaired for free!
  • Lunch dates with friends. This means I get sushi tomorrow (my fave)!
  • DVR's. Things tend to get kind of busy and I often miss some of my favorite TV shows (and I have a lot, I'm sort of an addict). We've been spending the evening catching up on all of the shows we missed this spring. To the person who invented the DVR - I heart you.
  • Weddings. I'm not kidding when I say I love weddings in my about me section, I really do. Now that it's wedding season, we have two to attend this month (the first being this Saturday) and I can't wait. I love getting to share in the happiness and excitement of two people beginning their lives together, and I also love getting to wear pretty dresses. :)
What are you grateful for this week?

Lupus [My Story]

It started out with a bug, just a little touch of the flu that only took me out of commission for a night. In fact, I didn't even miss a day of work. A day later, my fingers started swelling. Just one, but it was enough that I couldn't get my wedding rings past the first knuckle when I tried to put them on in the morning. The swelling only lasted a day or so, but then tingling started in another finger, and an elbow...pretty soon my feet were swollen too. Finally I'd had enough and made an appointment to see the doctor, apparently my awesome immune system that had kept me from missing a day of work in the past had been knocked down a peg or two by that random virus.

The doctor seemed perplexed. I hadn't been out of the country lately? (No, I'm pretty sure I'd have remembered that.) Well maybe I had a case of Fifth's Disease. Good news - it'll only last a couple of weeks, but we'll do a test to make sure that's what's wrong. The test came back positive, but because that could just mean that I've had it before, they ran the test again. Sure enough, it wasn't an active virus. Apparently I had Fifth's Disease in the past but probably never showed symptoms. Back to the doctor for some more blood tests - this time they tested for everything that can cause random joint pain and swelling...lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever that may have gone untreated, or lupus.

As Dr. Gregory House (love that show) always says..."It's NEVER lupus". Except this time, it was.

The only test that came back positive was the ANA test for lupus, but since not everyone with a positive ANA has lupus, they sent me to the University to see a rheumatologist and they ran more tests. I'm pretty sure the Red Cross was insanely jealous of all the blood I was giving for testing on a weekly basis. Double stranded DNA test - also positive. That result, plus my symptoms, plus a myriad of other test results led to the diagnosis. I found out via a phone call from my doctor - "well, you have lupus," she said, "now you know". I thought I would feel immense relief knowing what was wrong with me, but instead I just felt sort of numb. I guess I had still hoped that it was something that I could take some pills for and after a week or two, it would go away. Instead, I was given a diagnosis of lupus - a disease that is (for the time being) incurable, although treatable.

I'm not gonna lie, I was upset. I wondered how it would affect my life, and more importantly - what did this mean for my photography business (which I had really just begun)? How would I be able to schedule sessions if I wasn't sure if my hands would swell up like balloons? Would I even be able to work my camera if that happened?

As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried so much. Not to say lupus hasn't affected my life, it definitely has, and will continue to until they (someday, hopefully) find a cure. However, photography has somehow been a bit of a haven from this annoying disease. Even on days when I wake up feeling stiff, sore, and swollen, the moment I pick up my camera for a session - I forget about it all. So for an hour (or 8 hours if it's a wedding), I get a break. I don't know if it's the adrenaline, or maybe just the fact that my brain is busy thinking about all of the technical aspects of taking a photo, but even on my worst days it's a reprieve from it all. I don't feel the pain so intensely, my fingers seem to work just the way they're supposed to despite a swollen joint or two, and for awhile...I forget.


The C Family

This photo is from a session that I did a couple of weeks ago, and it was different from most of my sessions because it was a large extended family (formal) photo. I was asked about doing it last fall, and although it's not something I normally do (other than at weddings), it was for a close family friend so I made an exception. :) Unfortunately it was requested that I not share the large family photo on my blog, but I also took a few photos for one of the smaller family groups so they would have a picture to use for their holiday card and they gave me permission to share.

The family below is basically part of my own family, as I've known them for my entire life. Sheryl is the daughter of my godparents (and we're cousins but I'm not sure which # - second, third??) and Randy is the son of very close family friends. Their three kids (from left to right: Will, Emma, and Alex) are really great and it's always fun to get together with the whole crew.

Anyways, I just wanted to share a quick photo - this is my favorite of the short little session.


Happy Father's Day!

“Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad” - Unknown


When I was a kid and it was time for me to learn to ride my bike without training wheels, my dad was the one holding the back of that pink and white banana seat bike. I remember sitting on it in the driveway (probably in tears) while I balanced on it and he held the back, tilting it this way and that so I would learn which way to turn the wheel to correct so I didn't fall.

When I was learning to drive, my dad was the one that was sitting beside me in the passenger seat telling me to "give 'er some gas". I'm not sure if there were tears, but I know I was probably shaking with nerves. See, my dad, although a great teacher - is not always the most patient person and I wanted desperately to make him proud.

My dad is funny, hard working, and could talk the ear off of a perfect stranger. He's a master of finding "deals" (much to my mother's dismay), is a proud father of 6, and always gives me twenty bucks for the slot machine when we're at the casino together (seriously, it's much more fun to gamble with someone else's money. Lol). My dad taught me a lot over the years, not just how to ride a bike or drive a car (or check the oil - which is a great thing to know, thanks Dad!), but also how important it is to work hard and always do the best you can.

Dad - I hope you have a great Father's Day! I love you.


Thankful Thursday


I hope you all are having a great summer so far! Summer is my busiest time of year with my nanny job, then throw in a few photo sessions, weddings to attend, and oh yeah...building a house and you've got me running around like a chicken with it's head cut off! My spring was incredible, thanks to all of you guys! I got the chance to reconnect with some clients from last year, and I also got to meet some new clients as well. Everyone has been great, as always, and although a lot of personal obligations will be keeping me from doing too many sessions in July and August, I will have some fun sessions (including one in NYC!) coming up and I can't wait!

Anyways, with so much going on it's easy to feel overwhelmed so I thought I'd take a minute to make a note of some things I'm thankful for on this sunny Thursday morning!

  • Contact lenses. I had no idea how grateful I was for contacts until I have had to wear my glasses for the past three days. I cannot wait until tomorrow when I can hopefully wear them again and feel like myself.
  • The sun! It's finally shining! I kind of forgot how bright it was at 6 AM until Einstein woke me up this morning.
  • Our new house. With just a little over a month to go until we close, things are really coming together. It's exciting to see it progress, I can't wait until they start putting the flooring, appliances, and lighting in to see how everything we chose looks in the house.
  • Frozen sugar free caramel lattes from Corridor Coffee. Delicious.
  • Good books & the time to read them. Summer for me means a lot of time spent under an umbrella at the pool, which also means a lot of time to read (I love to read). Some of the great books I've read? Bossypants by Tina Fey and The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.
  • Time with family. My family and I went to Fun City in Burlington a couple of weeks ago and had a blast. We haven't taken a family trip anywhere in so long, it was really nice to have everyone together.
At Kingpins in Fun City

I hope you all are having a great summer so far!

Shannon & Kameron [Iowa City, IA and Cedar Ridge Winery Engagement]

Shannon and Kameron both went to West High together, and worked together as well. Kameron asked Shannon to Prom one year and they've been together ever since! These two are so cute together, and you can tell they both have really big hearts. I especially love the way Kameron looks at Shannon like she's the only girl in the world, and Shannon smiles this huge smile everytime he leans in for a kiss. It's pretty much one of the sweetest things ever. I am honored to be photographing their wedding in October, but here's an engagement preview to get you excited for it too...

We did this session in two locations, starting out downtown and then heading out to Cedar Ridge winery. Shannon had emailed me to see what I thought and I was incredibly excited. I love when clients suggest locations and Shannon did a fabulous job - the scenery was beautiful and the light was pretty.
(Random note: I would LOVE to photograph a wedding here someday! *Hint hint*)




See what I mean about the way Kameron looks at his bride to be?















Above photo taken by Josh.

Shannon & Kam - I hope you like the preview and I'm looking forward to seeing you again in October!

Oh the places you'll go...

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
- Dr. Suess

Last week I attended two graduations - one high school and one college. The high school graduation was especially poignant for me, as the young man I've been lucky enough to work with for the past 9 years graduated from high school (not to discount Andrew - whom I've also known for 9 years graduating college - congrats!!). I was so incredibly proud of Dan as he walked across the stage to accept his diploma. I can't help but tear up now as I think of that moment.

So, in honor of Dan's graduation I took this photo of his (incredibly patient, although confused) dog Chester. I'm not sure I would recommend doing this, as it tested my patience on an entirely new level, but it made a cute graduation card (and Dan loved it). Plus, there's nothing like a cute dog picture on a Wednesday afternoon...


I hope you all are having a great 4 day week! I have a fantastic engagement session coming up this weekend and I can't wait. :)