Lessons Learned from Little Fashionistas

I've never called myself fashionable. I have my own sense of "style" I suppose, but you'd certainly be stretching it to call it fashion. Sometimes I pay attention to what the cool kids are wearing, and sometimes I wear too many colors. Or too many patterns. Or just something weird. But that's pretty much always been me. It's especially helpful that I'm an artist so I can pass off any questionable fashion choices on my "artistic flair." ;-)  I bet everyone, no matter how confident they seem, has doubts about their sense of fashion. I know I do.     I think we could all learn a lot from watching a kid who dresses themselves.  It's always been a conscious parenting choice for me to allow my girls to dress themselves for most days.     But generally speaking, my kids have pretty free access to whatever is in their drawers and closets. Sometimes the results are hilarious and I have to stifle my

Why a BIRTH Photographer should Enunciate Clearly

"So what do you do?" (question from a stranger) "I'm a birth photographer!" (my excited answer) "Oh cool, a bird photographer." (response from a stranger, usually a man.) "Whew, cause I thought you said BIRTH." (another response from another stranger, also a man.) "I did. Say birth." (me) Awkward pause ;-) (usually with a quiet "gross" under their breath haha)     Technically speaking, I do take pictures of birds. But birth and babies... that's my THING!      Hey, birth photography definitely isn't for everyone. But if it's for you, BOOK NOW! I'm already starting to fill up for end of fall and early

September “New Year” Resolutions

It's back to school y'all! I've got that "fresh start" optimism that comes from the return to the good old routines of fall.      The smell of a fresh box of crayons is usually what does it for me. It always makes me want to overhaul all my messy closets and sloppy habits. I left the closets alone, but I did take some me-time to journal and dream big for this school year. I know I know... Jessica, YOU'RE not the one starting school again, it's your kids!  Yeah yeah yeah but when they're in school, it reminds me of when I was in school, and it makes me want to buy some crayons and sniff them start some new habits! And I also recently finished reading and discussing The Power of Habit (affiliate link) in book club so I wanted to push myself a little in the application department.     It almost feels like September is a good time for some "New Year's Resolutions" so to speak.  My usual problem given my type-A

An Apology to Susan B. Anthony

  Lovely Warren wrote a beautiful letter to Susan B. and it was so inspiring I thought I'd write one of my own...     Dear Susan B, I'm sorry that I take my right to vote for granted. I'm sorry that I forget it hasn't even been a hundred years since women had that right.     I'm sorry for the naiveté of thinking the fight for women's rights is a thing of the distant past... that I sometimes don't take these matters seriously, even today. I'm sorry for being lazy.     I'm sorry for the elections I could have, but chose not to vote in... for no real reason other than apathy. I'm sorry for not paying attention to local politics, where it can be argued that my vote matters even more.     I'm sorry for neglecting to discuss these matters with my daughters. I'm working on it now, I promise. I'm so thankful to have been able to visit your grave and cry a little bit over

Just Be Okay | The Tension Between Summer and Stillness

  Sarah Kay's poem The Paradox pretty aptly describes my feelings about how summer has gone... When I am inside writing, all I can think about is how I should be outside living. When I am outside living, all I can do is notice all there is to write about. Ohmygosh that has never been so true for me! There have been so many things I want to write about... so many pictures that have gone unedited... so many stories unshared. But that is the beauty of a busy summer, is it not? I've been at camp, I've done photos for a brand new baby and an excited senior and a mother in labor. I've gone on mini trips with Elsa and Anna. I've checked out museums and historic sites. I've gone hiking and camping with friends. Soon there will be a week with my sisters at Acadia National Park and then a week with the rest of the Rawleigh clan in the Adirondacks. WHEW! I struggle with that ironic guilt of how I'm not home and the house is a mess and I haven't been blogging or

If You Need Me I’ll be in the Woods.

I can tell I've been at camp because... I was just a little sad to wash the smell of campfire out of my clothes earlier this week I was smiling whenever I scratched at one of my 8 million bug bites The first night back home, in my half-asleep state, I thought the light on my bedroom smoke detector was a firefly ;-) About two seconds after I left, I was scheming for ways to get back!     I had a heart full of ALL the feels last week cause I got to spend the end of the week creeping on my baby-turned-big-girl who was spending her first week at the camp I grew up at. [Check out Camp Cherith of Western New York here!  We're celebrating camp's 70th birthday this year! It's just an hour from Corning.)     So my Elsa took swim lessons at the pool I took swim lessons at, with some of the same amazing women who taught me as a kid! She learned camp songs I've known my whole life and helped with dishes in the dining hall. She

How Hiking a Mountain is like Giving Birth

  By the end of July, two of my siblings and our bonus sibling will have added their names to the list of crazy awesome people who have hiked all 46 high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY. They get to call themselves 46ers and brag about that for the rest of their lives!      Four summers ago I had the opportunity to climb my first mountain with them. So they took me up a mountain and it was crazy hard but super amazing and rewarding. Since Elsa was only 2 and 1/2 and Anna was 18ish months old, a certain poignant analogy kept popping into my head...     Hiking my first mountain was totally like giving birth to a baby!  1.  No matter how many stories you hear about how hard it is you still underestimate how hard it's going to be.  Labor & Delivery: when the real contractions started happening during labor with my first I was like "This is NOTHING like the book said it would be! oh crap.

Last Day of SCHOOL!!!

  Well I don't know about you all, but we are super pumped about the last day of school today. I am naively excited that I don't have to pack any more school lunches for awhile. Even though I know deep down in the dark corner of my brain that I want to ignore that I only have about three days till the "I'm bored"s start.  So. THREE CHEERS FOR

5 Ways to Preach STRENGTH not Skinny

{Alright you know how this works but just a reminder, any amazon links you see in this post are affiliate links. By clicking on them, you help me bring home some more bacon, at no extra cost to you! You don’t even have to buy what I’m blathering on about, but if you buy anything at all, you are helping support this blog and this business. THANK YOU!}     I'm pretty passionate about teaching my daughters to have a healthy self-image and a healthy view of fitness. I've wasted too many years of my life worrying about how much I weighed or how toned my tummy was. I've struggled with an eating disorder and a terrible results-focused approach to fitness. I want to teach my girls to be STRONG and healthy. Not just thin.     So here are five things I do:    1. Expose them to a variety of types of exercise.  The important thing is starting the conversations. Show them which muscles are getting stronger with the

Otterberg Cistercian Monastery [and New Tattoo]

  There is a village in Germany that means a whole lot to me. It probably doesn't make it to the top 10 list of anyone's travel plan... it's not necessarily famous... it's not even that big. But it was home for four years. I never thought I'd have a "German home town" but I sure do. And a part of my heart will always be wandering those cobblestone streets on my way to the bakery for a fresh pretzel. I learned how to use my camera in this village.  My babies grew up in this village.  Sometimes I feel like I grew up in this village.      In the middle of this village... Otterberg, Germany... sits a 12th century Cistercian Monastery. It's the second largest church in that state and no other church or cathedral I saw in Europe impacted me like this church.     When I first stood inside this church, it took my breath away. I have never stood inside such an imposing building that was so simply designed. It was very