Long Story Short? I want to make a difference.

I have four kids. They are beyond amazing and insane and just overall little tornadoes of chaos, fire, and kisses. Natalie is six, Hazel will be five on Saturday, Lukas is three, Ellie is a year and a half-ish. While being a stay-at-home mom has been an incredible job, as bad as it is, I don't feel as fulfilled as I wish I did by it. I have prayed and prayed about it but I just don't feel that overwhelming sense of pride that some women do when they say that they stay home with their kids. While I LOVE that I can be here for all of the important things (and the little things that make up the big picture), I feel like I am a much better mom now that I am working... Only it doesn't feel like a job because I LOVE what I do.

When I was in high-school, I took all of the art classes that Portage High School had to offer. I especially LOVED being in the dark room. Working in the dark room was many things for me:

  1. Darkness. Not being overstimulated by life, phones, lights, yelling, etc. For those who didn't know, I got hurt in high school. I was blind in one of my eyes and had severe photophobia (a sensitivity to light that made me wear sunglasses everywhere 24/7 for about a year.)
  2. A Place to be ALONE (or close to it). This was NOT a large room by any means. Probably half of the size of my kids' bedrooms... Meaning, not very many people in the room with you.
  3. An escape: Time to think BUT not about anything except art. I typically am uncomfortable in absolute silence. Like the petri dishes in science class, silence is the perfect environment for my anxiety to grow. But when there is a job to be done or something that requires your complete concentration, the quiet isn't so bad. The fight you had with your best friend didn't matter. You were too busy to think about how _____ flirted with that one guy in gym class or went out for lunch with out you. It didn't matter if there was trouble at home. It didn't matter if you were failing algebra. All that REALLY mattered was learning how to properly expose two images on one sheet of paper and have them turn out beautifully.

After high school, I wanted to be a graphics designer. I took a few classes and really enjoyed it! I followed my then-boyfriend to UW Baraboo to get a degree in no-clue-ology... I'd figure it out one day, right? I started wanting to go to school for art, but was quickly told by many family members that I would never use an art degree. Then, I moved to psychology/sociology while taking all of the art classes that Boo-U had to offer. In the end, I wasn't passionate about anything that could get me a degree with a great (high paying) job or anything "important". So, I only went for a year.

After that, I spent some time working at bars/restaurants serving. While I really enjoyed it, I made more mistakes than I can count. in 2013, I enlisted into the Army. While in training, I learned I had a life-threatening blood disease and got sent home to get the care I needed. About a month after returning home, I met my husband and my life hasn't been the same since. Our first Christmas together, he bought me a DSLR (fancy camera with lenses) and about a week later, proposed. I brought that camera everywhere with me... I took photos at all of the family events! We got married in 2015 and life hasn't slowed down yet.

In 2016, we had our first child, Natalie. I remember thinking about how HARD life was with a baby. Boy, I wish I knew then what I know now... When Natalie was six months old, we experienced an unfortunate ectopic pregnancy. In 2017, we welcomed Hazel into the world. She was born a month early and had an extended stay at the NICU in St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, WI. Having a baby in the NICU was HARD. Our oldest was sixteen months old and being passed from my mother to my sister-in-law while we stayed with Hazel two hours away from home. in 2019, we had Lukas. He was such a little ham! Pregnancy was NOT easy for me at all. I was one of those lucky women who had something called Hyperemesis Gravidarum: SEVERE morning sickness that made me lose over 20% of my body weight with every pregnancy (except Lukas'). I am not writing this for the woe-is-me attitude... I just want it out there that I personally get it: PREGNANCY IS HARD! I personally understand what mothers go through to create life. If you are looking for a photographer who gets it, look no further.

December of 2019, we experienced a loss in the family. The day she passed away, Hazel started showing symptoms from the same disease. Long story short, my oldest two were hospitalized for nearly a month with heavy uncertainty if one of the two was going to make it home. Every babies-first-Christmas, we got family photos done except that year. We couldn't find a photographer willing to come into the hospital for Lukas' first Christmas and we sure weren't doing them without the girls. This is what made me want to become a photographer. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be that photographer to go the extra mile because THESE are the photos that matter. Not that I don't appreciate certain styles of photography, but to me, the photos that have a REAL significance are the ones that need to be taken. If it can change a families life for the better, they need to be captured.

In January of 2021, we welcomed our fourth baby into the world. Her name is Ellie and she is just perfect. She is our only baby to make it the full forty weeks and the only one that my husband got to drive us to the hospital while I was in active labor. Husbands, be nice on those bumps and turns, okay?

In December of 2021, we moved our family from Wisconsin Dells to Marshfield. I am SO blessed to live in a wonderful home and town. Once I discovered the non-profit Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (Is that supposed to be underlined or Italicized?), my life has taken a whole new turn. I work with the hospital and photograph babies that aren't going to make it home. This winter, I plan to work with the Ronald McDonald House and offer free Christmas photos for families with kids in the children's hospital.

Family photos MATTER. Now, every single session I do makes a difference in some family's world.