Twenty Two Days Til Christmas


I just love watching my kids sleep!  They are so sweet; so peaceful.  Every night before I go to bed, I sneak into their room and make sure they are all covered up – warm and cozy under the blankets.  The last thing I want on. this. planet. is for my kids to be cold in the night.  I hate the thought of ice-cold fingers and toes – makes me feel horrible!  But tonight my kiddos were snug in their beds, mostly likely with visions of something dancing in their heads.  Can you guess?:)

Twenty Three Days Til Christmas


So, this isn’t AT ALL a Christmas-themed photo, but I just love it!  I had my newest nephew, Baby Jonah, in my home studio this afternoon, and we got some really cute images.  This one is by far my favorite – I was squealing when we captured this adorable smile!  Now before anyone says it, I’m going to confess….  he’s not REALLY sitting up in this image.;-)

His momma was right there beside him the whole time, holding him up while I snapped a few different portraits – each time she moved her hand to a new spot.  All I had to do was combine the images, erase Momma’s hands, and VOILA!  Baby Jonah in the deep blue sea came to life!

Jonah, from the Bible, was a man who disobeyed God, and even though he deserved to be gobbled up by that great fish, God had BIG plans for him.  He had mercy on Jonah, and spared his life!  This Christmas season, I’m reminded of the wonderful story of God’s grace – He gave us a perfect gift that not a single one of us deserves – Jesus!  What an awesome God we have!!  He loves us a LOT.  So much, in fact, that He sent His son, Jesus, to come to this earth… to die!:( But without Jesus’ death, there would be no hope of salvation!  Wow!

This Christmas, please remember what truly IS the reason for the season! ><>

Twenty Four Days Til Christmas


Oh, how I love Christmas.  It’s my absolute favorite time of year!  By. Far.  But I am the kind of person that literally could celebrate it all year long – no joke!  I’ve been thinking about doing a mini personal project for sometime and thought, why not focus on the bestest of best seasons?  So my own little “Countdown to Christmas” was born!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving was a relatively lovely day – temps were down so the snow was melting.  The hubby and I were able to get outside (without coats) and put up some simple lights and a nativity scene.  That night, we had our boys help us put the tree together, and it sat naked…. for days…. until now!

Tonight we threw on the tree lights, tinsel, and hung our stockings.  We also started our advent calendar, handmade last year by MOI (check out my instagram @jennyminardphoto to see it in action)!  My one-photo-a-day-countdown-to-Christmas-challenge starts off with an image of our beautiful tree adorned with glittering tinsel and colorful, twinkling lights!  You can probably guess we’ve had Christmas music and movies playing almost constantly for the past few days, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How do you get in the Christmas spirit!?

Burlington Iowa Birth Photographer | Baby Lana’s Birth Story


On Friday, July 25th, I got a text from Laura telling me that she was going to be induced the next morning.  I was so excited – I think she was too!  Laura’s sweet baby girl was already four days late (by Saturday, it would be five), and I knew Momma and Daddy were ready to meet her.  I kept my phone on me at all times, the next day, to be sure I didn’t miss anything.  At 6:00 am they had arrived at the hospital where they learned that Laura needed antibiotics after failing the Strep B test.  Soon after, they were given all the necessary paperwork and were asked dozens of questions.

At 8:30 am, they broke her water and allowed her to walk up and down the halls for quite some time.  Labor had begun, and Laura was becoming more and more uncomfortable.  Finally, at around 11:00 am, they made their way back to the OB where Laura would continue laboring in her room.

Around 1:50 pm, Dr. Calderwood of Great River Medical Center (the same doctor that delivered Laura when she was born) checked Laura and she was at a 4/5 and fully effaced.  They started Pitocin, and from there, labor intensified.  After getting sick (and even needing oxygen), Laura was not allowed to drink anything or even have ice chips!  At 5:00, I arrived at the hospital to find John standing by Laura’s bed, rubbing her belly and holding her hand.  She had elected to endure labor without any pain meds – I was so proud of her.  And I was proud of her hubby.  From the moment I got there until Laura started pushing, John stood over her and comforted her during every contraction.  I was blown away!

At one point, during a contraction, John thought Laura had called him “slicko” because he had let go of her hand before it was over.  He thought that was pretty funny, as did I – that is, until I realized she had actually said “you let go,” not “slicko.”  It was one of those sweet, silly moments we can so easily forget, especially during such a long, tiring day.  I was just so glad to be a fly on the wall – to document this funny memory.

At 7:00, we were excited to learn that Laura had progressed to 8 cm, and within the next hour, she was fully dilated.  At 8:18 exactly (trust me, I checked), Laura started pushing.  That warrior of a woman gave it everything she had, and with her amazing hubby and me there to coach her, she kept it up for two solid hours.  Dr. Calderwood left as the pushing continued and stopped back in every half hour or so to check on her.

I could tell Laura was getting exhausted, and she even asked the doctor what else could be done to help with the birth.  Dr. Calderwood checked in one last time and told Laura and John that the baby was not progressing as fast as he’d like.  He then ordered a c-section and instructed Laura not to push – just breath through the contractions.  She would have to wait for the OR staff to arrive and for them to prep the room for surgery.  My heart broke for Laura at that moment – she had worked so hard, for so long!  However, I knew, as did she, that all things happen for a reason, and that now was the time to do what was best for the baby.

The nurse wrapped Laura’s legs with something she explained would help prevent clotting while in surgery.  Laura had to receive oxygen and then just lay there and wait.  Boy did she have to wait.  No meds… no pushing… no water… nothing!  Just breath through the contractions.  For FOURTY FIVE MINUTES!  I found myself checking the clock; glancing up every time someone came into the room – hoping they were coming to get Laura!  I can’t even imagine.  Every moment that Laura buried her face in her pillow, enduring the pain, with no relief at all – my heart broke.

Finally, at 11:00 pm, the OR nurses rushed in, gave her some pain meds, and then wheeled Laura out of the room.  John quickly dressed in his scrubs and waited to be called back.  I told him he looked like a blue ninja (or as my son would say, the blue Power Ranger)!  He took advantage of the short break to let the rest of the family know what was going on.

I anxiously waited outside the OR, directly next to the nursery, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the new baby!  As I waited, Laura’s nurse came out and told me I would be able to go into the nursery and take pictures of the baby.  I wasn’t expecting that invitation, so I was ecstatic!  When John came out, holding the baby, I think I was beaming with pride – the newest member of my family, my niece, was finally here!

Welcome to the world, Baby Lana Sofia!  Born at 11:37 pm, Saturday July 26th, 2014, she weighed 7 lb. 9.6 oz. and was 21 inches long!  What a sweetheart – I’m in love! <3

Burlington Iowa Maternity Photographer | Laura’s Maternity Portraits


If I had to sum up this maternity session in two words, it would be fun and gorgeous!

When I heard that my sister-in-law Laura was pregnant, I was beyond excited!  I immediately thought of all the adorable things I could make, not only for her baby to wear, but for us to use for the newborn appointment.  More on that in a future post!  We discussed a few different location options, but in the end, we chose to do the session on my parents’ land.  They have a beautiful, little slice of heaven just west of Burlington in, you guessed it, West Burlington.  *wink*

I had never before shot a maternity session which included the dad, but as this seems to get more and more popular with new moms, I was up for the adventure.  Plus, who wouldn’t be excited to spend time with their quirky, funny, and entertaining brother-in-law!  Well, I’m definitely happy with the images we captured, and the overcast day served us a big, heaping pile of gorgeous lighting!

Congrats Laura and John! <3

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