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Grayson – Fourteen Months

Just a few months ago I recall musing on how surreal it is to open the door to Grayson’s room to see him crawling towards me, when just a few months before that he was only able to lay in one place as a newborn. Now, I open the door to his room and our sweet little baby boy, now toddler, WALKS towards me! Talk about surreal! How did we get a toddler already?! Slow down, slow down, slow down!




26 lbs

30 inches

(Above stats from last month, hasn’t been measured or weighed since.)

*Walking!!! We are officially walking, people! None of this four steps at a time thing, he is now walking from thing to thing instead of resorting to crawling! Yay!

*Has a size 5.5-6 feet! Is that normal for his age?! It can’t be, his feet are HUGE!

*Obsessed with grabbing people’s feet…which mommy thinks is really weird, but he thinks is really funny.

*Waves goodbye.

*Knows how to get off the master bed safely by going backwards slowly. He can also go back down staircases.

*Loves standing at the front door people watching.

*Has the best time pushing his stroller around the house.

*Discovered how fun it is to pull the toliet paper off the roll into a huge pile on the floor. So fun…

*Playing with other kids! He loves to tackle his cousin Roxy and gets so excited whenever his cousin Lilah talks to him.

*High five! His momma K taught him to give high fives and its pretty darn cute!

In the Name of Balance

So, I know I have been talking a lot about reclaiming some balance in my life this year…okay, okay, I talk about it every year, but this year I am really doing it! I swear I am! Mostly because having a baby forces you to prioritize and refocus on things, but I also just really want to be present in both my home and work life…not always half way into one of the other, trying to do it all at once, half heartedly. I want to be invested in all aspects of my life whole heartedly and fully present in the moment. So I thought I would share a little glimpse into the ways in which I am reclaiming some balance in my life as of late.


  • Out of Office Days vs. Working Office Days: I’ve finally come to the realization that setting aside certain days as working office days and others as out of office days for meetings and shoots is the key to managing my workflow week to week. Taking meetings and shoots every single day and time, convenient or not,  makes it really hard to have focused time for editing, blogging, and office working. I need dedicated hours and days for just tackling all the office work of my business, from editing to book keeping to submissions to album design, you name it. And with a schedule that is all over the place, in and out constantly, productivity is seriously hard to come by. Because even though a meeting may only take an hour and a half, in reality, it takes up a much larger chunk of my day, with travel time and prep time on top of it all. So, I am now scheduling all shoots and meetings exclusively for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, my set out-of-office days. And with most Saturdays and Sundays being spent shooting weddings or a random family off day if I am lucky, that means Mondays and Fridays are my working office days. And so far this has been fantastic for both my productivity and sanity!
  • Cutting Friday Blogs: Something has got to give in the name of balance and this one is something I have been debating and struggling with for the past couple months. I have blogged Monday – Friday for the past 3+ years now and it is something I am pretty proud of. I love being a regular blogger. I love that people can expect content every week day. I love documenting my life and work on a daily basis. I truly love it! But, boy, it can take up A LOT of your time and energy. And lately, I have found that saving Fridays for office work and wedding prep work has worked out the best for me, especially if I have spent Tuesday through Thursday out on meetings and shoots! Getting a good night’s rest on Thursday nights so I can wrap up emails and such for the week on Friday and get all my gear and such ready for a weekend of weddings and shooting makes me feel like I’m really getting to efficiently wrap the week up and appropriately prepare for the upcoming weddings. I mean, I can’t give up on being a regular blogger even if I tried, but from here on out I plan on focusing on creating better content for the blog on a regular Monday through Thursday basis, just cutting out the Friday slot. So, hopefully this means better content for the blog 4 days a week and a happier more balanced me!
  • Starting the Day With Me Time: Lately, the majority of my work happens between the hours of 9PM and 3AM, and when the kid wakes at 7AM, I’m still so completely exhausted! The rest of the day is spent grappling with working at every interval I can, playing with the tyke, and trying to get just a few minutes for me. That last part doesn’t happen too often and it can leave me feeling kind of deflated at the end of the day. So, now when the little one goes back down for his morning nap, I get out of bed, make myself some coffee and breakfast, and give myself an hour to do whatever I want with. An hour to relax. An hour to spend with just me. Then after that hour is up, it’s off to the office to start my work day before the little one is up again. But, I’ve learned that just that hour to spend however I like without trying to juggle 12 things at once really helps me start the day in the right mindset. I feel more clear and focused to make the most of the day.
  • Audio Books: I know I’ve gushed about before, but getting to ‘read’ books in my free time again has done wonders for my well being! Hello productive car rides! I find myself getting far less worked up about awful traffic and bad drivers when I am in my own little world listening to an interesting book. And sitting down to edit at my computer just got so much more enjoyable with a good book playing in the background.
  • Phone Meetings: A new part of the workflow around here lately is phone meetings. I have long been hesitant to have initial chats with couples via phone conversations because I have a tendency to talk quite quickly and I just didn’t think I could connect with people in the same way as I could in person, but lately I have found the great value in phone meetings. I’m finding that phone meetings are a fantastic way to break the ice and to really determine if we might be a good fit to work together. A brief phone conversation opens the door and lets all those involved decide if they would like to take the next step in setting up an in person meeting.
  • Keeping It Clean: I’m not going to lie, my office has been a complete disaster zone for over a year now. It’s always the last thing on my to-do list and it just never got done. I know I am one for letting cleaning and organizing around the house become total distractions when needing to get work done,  I’m a pro at ‘productive procrastination’! But my office was the one space I let fall to the wayside. I could still edit and do all the work I needed to do amidst the chaos, but it wasn’t easy! Thankfully my spontaneous bout with spring cleaning forced me to finally bring some order to the mess. And now I am kicking butt and taking names! Having a clean space has allowed me to be so much more productive and time efficient. Keeping it clean around here not only helps me keep my head in the game during my working hours to keep my time balanced, it also helps me keep my mind balanced too!

I know these are not miracle cures or the ultimate solution to having a 100% balanced life, but it’s a start! And I have to say I’m feeling pretty good that I am making a little bit of balance a priority in my life lately. It’s been a long time coming and I think even these small steps can not only mean a better quality of life, but also better work as a result!


Emilia Jane - April 23, 2014 - 12:58 pm

These all sound like great steps! I need to figure out a schedule at some point :-P

Christy Tyler - April 23, 2014 - 2:15 pm

I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face – I’m SO PROUD of you, lady!! So glad you’re making these steps for your family and for YOU! And now I’m immediately going to look into! :)

Engagement: Ashling & Mher

I am so delighted to share photos from Ashling and Mher’s engagement session last week! Thankfully, Chicago pulled through with the weather and these two couldn’t help but be as sweet as ever on camera! And I’m more excited than ever to be a part of their wedding this summer!


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Jacqui Cole - April 22, 2014 - 2:01 pm

Beautiful images Amanda!! They make me miss Chicago – looks like the perfect evening :) xxx

Kristina Hambardzumyan - April 22, 2014 - 2:05 pm

You both are so nice! I wish you happiness and joy!

Green Grass and Plastic Eggs


Who knew spending the majority of the weekend outside, sitting in the grass, watching little ones collect countless plastic eggs could be so exhausting, ha! I think all the fresh air tuckered me out, but, boy, was all that time outside desperately needed. We got a little ahead of ourselves Friday evening and took the tyke for a family walk, even if it was a tad chilly out. And then Saturday, Grayson took part in his first Easter egg hunt with his cousins. Which, for him, meant finding the first egg with snacks in it and then hunkering down for a 30 minute snack break in the grass, amongst all the eggs. Sunday looked pretty similar but with our other side of the family. It might be the most concentrated amount of time we have spent outside in a weekend in months and months. That fresh air may have tired us all out, but it also restored our spirit. The never-ending Chicago winter was starting to get me down. And as much as sitting in the grass is not usually my thing…this weekend it was! I didn’t care that my tush was getting a little wet from the damp grass and that bugs were probably going to crawl all over me, I didn’t want to be anywhere but in that green grass with the plastic eggs, enjoying the day with our families. (A glass of Veueve in hand didn’t hurt either.) So, here’s to green grass, shiny plastic eggs, and a glass of bubbly on a beautiful Spring day!


Did you do anything outside and amazingly Springlike on this gorgeous Easter weekend?!

Christy Tyler - April 21, 2014 - 1:57 pm

Sounds perfect!!!

Caili Helsper - April 21, 2014 - 8:16 pm

The best weekend ever is one where you spend most of it outside! Love baby G’s smile in that last one. :)

New Schedules and Embracing Spontaneity with Midday Margaritas

It’s keeping it real time…It’s been a long week…or a few weeks. We are in a  major period of adjustment around here. We haven’t found a childcare solution for the tyke yet. The spouse is constantly coming and going with the new job, out the door by 7AM to be home at an always undetermined time to often have to leave again for a few hours after the kid has gone to bed for the night. Her work phone constantly ringing and pinging. I’m trying to be a present mommy and be there with Grayson when I am with him, instead of getting frustrated he wants to play when I have mounds of work to do. Housework has been piling up. Making daily to-do lists was becoming futile as I never knew how much usable time I would get in the day to tackle them. And, to be honest, I was missing my spouse like crazy. She is often way too busy all day to even shoot me a few texts, let alone call me, while at work. I never know when she will be home for the day and when she does finally step in the door, I flit off to tackle my own work. And next thing you know, the kid is asleep, and we are on separate floors of the house, in our respective offices, working like crazy…as if we are on opposite ends of the world. Not to mention, wedding season is here, so goodbye weekends with my love! I’m not going to lie, it’s bringing me down. And I’m pretty sure it’s a big reason in why I feel so depleted lately. It’s not just being physically tired, but it’s also being not fulfilled emotionally. Who knew our mundane little evenings at home, cuddled up on the couch, did so much for the well being of my psyche! I need that down time to recharge. And I need that time WITH my love to reconnect. To bring me back down when I’m going off the deep end with stress. To lift me up when I’m feeling unsure. To hold my hand just because. To be my happy. To remind me we are in this together, building a life together.


But, instead of wallowing in self-pity about this new way of life of awful schedules for us, I’ve decided we just have to find a way to make it work. Figuring out how to work these changes into our life will be the key to not ending up exhausted, cranky, and totally disconnected people all the time. So, I’m trying to let go of the reigns on my daily to-do’s a little, prioritizing the ‘MUST get done’s’ and knowing what is not essential to accomplish that day. I’m trying to turn off all the tech when I can to spend as much time with my little family as possible. I’m trying to make the most of the time we do have together. I’m trying to make it work the best I can….even when it isn’t easy and feels like I’m getting no where. Because just complaining about it and feeling bad about it all the time is so not the answer here. Having the right attitude about things is half the battle. And at least knowing that we are collectively trying to make the situation better and work with these new crazy schedules makes me feel better about the whole thing. Knowing we are trying to make it doable. Heck, we are trying to make it enjoyable! And for me that means embracing some more spontaneity in our life. As a text book Type A kind of gal, being spontaneous has never come easy to me, but if we are going to make the most of the little time we find together, I need to embrace it head on. So, even though I had plans of hunkering down at a coffee shop and working the day away in between meetings yesterday, when I found out the spouse was 2 hours early for a meeting just a few miles away…I knew we needed to take advantage of the time together. With margaritas, of course! And if midday margaritas are the way to making these new schedules work, I’m all in!!! So, here’s to less whining (on my part) and more trying to make it work with a whole lot of patience and a good amount of spontaneity!



Bridgette Haight - April 17, 2014 - 4:30 pm

Solidarity with you on this! It can be so hard to find the time with crazy work schedules. We should all meet up for drinks near OakBrook soon and vent our frustrations of juggling work schedules!

Brienne Michelle - April 17, 2014 - 6:01 pm

It’s never easy, is it? Hang in there. I’m confident you’ll make your own happy ending with all this. :)

Crystal Carlson - April 17, 2014 - 7:12 pm

Don’t worry, lady! Your full-time nanny will be moving in ASAP!!!! ;-)

Christy Tyler - April 18, 2014 - 3:15 pm

That sounds like a perfect way to make it work, if you ask me! Just take it one day at a time! Adjustment periods are tough but inevitably bring us closer to our loves if we allow it to! xoxo

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