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She’s my Mini because she looks just like me. She acts a lot like me too. I get dejàvu sometimes watching her – and flashback to a memory of my own childhood. Something I said or did, playing out in front of me again, with a different soul.  At other times I’m struck by how much she reflects Hubby.  She’ll smirk or throw her head back exasperatedly and suddenly she’s his Mini too.

She has so many awesome qualities, such a big personality, such out-of-place maturity, such independence. She’s a dreamer, a negotiator, a do-er, a creative. She’s strong-willed, curious, stubborn and confident. Almost everything that makes her so incredible is also what makes her tough to parent. It’s a fine line between molding her into an awesome human and not stripping her of such wonderful qualities.

In less than a month, she’s off to Kindergarten. We will no longer be the only ones who shape her world.  This scares me endlessly. We’ve worked so hard to give her a world  that is full of endless possibility, no boundaries and firm ground.  I’m not ready for her to feel differently about it, or herself.  I know it’s just Kindergarten, but it’s the first moment of letting go and it’s going to hurt. I’ll mourn the loss of my endless time with her, lunches with her knock-knock jokes and seeking answers to her endless questions.  It will be joyful too though, as she embraces it with the verve that only she can.

(photos by Melissa Schollaert)


It was eighty degrees in mid-May, and you were standing at the bottom of a staircase.  I was at the top, negotiating with our planner that- no, in fact, our wedding doesn’t start in 30 minutes.  It starts now.  I was anxious.  I just wanted to get down those stairs and next to you.

Seven years before that day, we had met.  I wasn’t looking, and neither were you.  But then you put your lunch cooler down on the counter, with “MICHEL” written across the side in permanent marker.  I looked up at you and it was as if just for the briefest of moments, time stood still.  I could paint every minute detail of that ordinary scene, it is so fixed in my memory.  In that smallest of moments, I realized I had just met my husband.  You were the first guy that I had to chase. You even told me you weren’t getting married until you were 35, which I think you thought would scare me.  It didn’t because I’m stubborn. And because I knew it was already decided.  I just had to wait you out.

I was used to dating people who let me be the star and were happy to just support, be in the background.  But you weren’t going to be pinned down like that, not for a second.  It took me years to figure out that we had to be the stars together, to trade off supporting, be a true team.  And we did.  We knit ourselves together slowly with long-distance phone bills, stand-by airline tickets, and all too infrequent visits.  I chased you, my dreams, and a future I had once conjured up.  And you, you waited me out.  I came back home and we found our rhythm in the same zip code.

So, back to that hot day in May, and the man I was smiling at through my happy-tear stained veil.  It’s much observed that the two young people saying those vows, rarely understand the weight of them.  And of course now with 10 years behind us (17 really), I know that no couple can. Because the vows aren’t words.  They are actions.  They are alive.  They live and breathe in every moment to come.  With each year that passes for us, I look at those two people in our pictures – smiling as they leave the ceremony.  I wonder if they know that year one will be easy.  That year four will bring heartbreak they can’t fathom.  That year five will see them to the brink of life and back again.  And just when they feel like they have their feet under them, year six will be devastating.  Year seven won’t itch at all.  They will cling to each other harder and faster than they ever have.  As a result, they will be rewarded with one of their greatest joys before it ends.   And year ten.  Year ten will have them looking back, not sure they are where they had hoped to be.  Planned to be.  For sure, that couple, standing there in the spring sun ten years ago – they don’t know these years yet. They think they understand those vows and what will come.  They think they know the path.  They would think year ten should have them in a different place.  But they are wrong.

It’s ten years later, and it’s a cold day in May.  You stand at the bottom of a staircase, clutching the hand of our oldest daughter who is squinting in the sun.  She’s shielding her eyes with her arm, scrunching her nose up to keep her pink-rimmed glasses in place.  I’m at the top, chasing our youngest, who barrels down the stairs, pigtails bouncing, and can’t wait to get to the bottom, to be by your side.  Me either, little one.  Me either.

(photo by Heather Cook Elliott)


It’s been a long time since I’ve just chatted on here.  Let’s catchup!

What a crazy winter it has been.  Mother Nature has lost her ever-loving mind and given us everything from 70 degrees to icy and below freezing, often in the same week.  While few would complain about a mild winter – I am missing the snow.  I had a few couples who were hoping for snow engagement shoots this winter, and it doesn’t look like that will be happening.  *sigh*  The kiddos are a little sad too, as each time it shows snow on my weather app, Mini gets excited, only to be let down by the ‘dusting’ we get that melts by the end of the day.

I’ve been reminding myself it’s still winter though, and trying to hammer away at the “off-season” to-do list.  There’s a long string of unfinished projects to tackle, which I’m happy to say I have been, little by little.  Things like hanging artwork in Squeak’s room and photographing the girls’ artwork.  None of it takes much time, I just have to do it. There’s one very large project happening too – painting all of the woodwork in our house white.  I want it all done by June.  So far the girls’ bedrooms, their hallway and their bathroom are done.  That still leaves 3/4 of the house (likely more, but I’m telling myself I’m 1/4 done), much of which is stair railings.  But I’m doing it!  This is something I’ve been talking about doing for years.  We’ve been in this house for 10 years now.  It’s time to stop talking and start doing.

(occasionally, I include updates on these projects in my Instagram stories…)

That’s sort of my philosophy for this whole year.  I’m staring down a big birthday in December, and I’ve adopted a “moving mountains” attitude for this year.  I’m hoping it helps me to stay motivated and feel very accomplished by the time 2018 rolls around.

The girls are growing like weeds.  Mini turned 5 at the beginning of the year, and we found out she is far-sighted and so we now have a bespectacled little girl.  She’s eagerly awaiting Kindergarten and still surprises us with her maturity regularly.  Squeak turned 2 last fall, and is gaining vocabulary and personality in leaps and bounds.  I’ve always loved the age of 2 – they are still so sweet, and not quite sassy yet, and it’s such fun to watch them learn and develop skills.

I found a new app recently that has been helping me record our everyday lives in a fun way.  It’s called 1 Second Everyday.  Basically, it asks you to record a one second video each day, and then it compiles them into a video for you at the end of the month, and end of the year.  It’s really fun to look back and see all we’ve done in a month.  And, for a photographer who often forgets to photograph her own kids, it’s nice to get a reminder!

Hubby launched a beer festival in February!  The Keg Killer Outdoor Winter Beer Festival.  I was able to help out quite a bit with it, which was good fun.  We lived in a world consumed by buffalo plaid, beer, and all things lumberjack themed for a few months there.  The festival went off beautifully with temperate weather, sold-out status and tons of happy beer drinkers.  I am still so proud of him for making his vision come to life!  Now, it’s on to the next beer event, Summer Untapped.

Wedding season started a month ago for us, with a wedding in February.  I just posted a sneak-peek of their photos on my Facebook page last week.  Check it out if you missed it!  We have another wedding this weekend too.  At the moment there is snow on the radar for Saturday, and I have to admit, that would be lovely….

(this weekend’s couple, Kelsey & Dan, who did get the *tiniest* amount of snow for their shoot)

One of those big projects for the off-season has been an overhaul of the website and blog.  I’ve spent a lot of late nights slaving away at the design and functionality for them both.  Designing, redesigning and then tweaking some more.  The blog is still under construction (as you can see), but the new website will be launching this week!  I can’t wait to share it with you!

I’ve been crushing on a new easy dinner recipe I stumbled upon at a wedding show.  It’s so easy and crazy good, and it only takes me about 20 minutes to pull together.  So, you layer chopped up grilled chicken over a bed of mashed potatoes (sub out rice for something healthier), then drizzle with balsamic vinegar (my favorite!) and top generously with tomato bruschetta (pre-prepared makes this super easy).  The flavor is awesome.

I discover new television not because I get to sit in front of our tv (which rarely happens), but because I “listen” to tv while I edit.  The ability to watch whole seasons of television at once hasn’t helped this addiction.  ;0)  This winter I’ve already enjoyed “The Crown“, “Mozart in the Jungle” and I know I’m super late to this game, but I discovered the hilarity that is “Arrested Development“.

It’s parent participation month at Mini’s school, and I’m teaching an animation lesson this week – so I better go and pull that together. It’s gorgeous outside today in Milwaukee – get outside!


I used to write all about our personal lives here on the blog.  Then one day in 2012 everything changed, and much of our real life wasn’t something I wanted to write about.  I wanted, I needed, to focus on everything else.  So there was less day-to-day randomness on the blog, and more curated content.  I might still find the strength to one day write it all down and share our story – (it’s not a secret, just so loooong).  But I digress, and I tell you this to explain what I’m saying next.  It boils down to one statement for now.


In the past four years, my life has been saved at least four times, in whole or in part, by a blood transfusion.   Our youngest child’s life also has also been saved by two of those transfusions.

I’ve tried to type those sentences a dozen times without tearing up.  I can’t.  I lack the words to accurately describe what this means.  But someone, somewhere, donated blood and because of that I am still here.  My daughter is here.

I’ve respected and taken that for granted in the last four years.  Time makes those feelings more crystalline.  I recently saw the Blood Center of Wisconsin post a picture of a nearly empty cooler of O negative blood.  And it hit home.  They were going to reach into that cooler and come up empty.

So, today I’m going to my first regularly scheduled blood donation appointment.  Because the only way to say thank you is to pay it forward.

I’m hoping that because I said something about it – you will consider making an appointment too.



Hello there!  Enjoying the crazy random early spring we are having?  Oh good.  Now, unpack all the winter stuff again, because in case you haven’t heard – we are getting inches of snow this week.  I’m not sure how to explain this to my tulips whom have prematurely emerged.  Ah, Wisconsin.

Speaking of Wisconsin – did you see that game last night?  Whoa.  I had to temper my excitement as I had a sleeping Squeak laying on my chest.  But what a cliffhanger.  And I still maintain that more than the excitement of our team winning is the joy in just witnessing them fully live the experience.  You can see they are just having the times of their lives and it makes you weep for joy for them.  Hubby found this great video shot by a fan sitting just behind the bench.

I pretty much never mention politics here on the blog.  And you won’t catch me saying who I’m voting for, but I have been doing plenty of reading on all the candidates.  This article was particularly thought provoking for me – and really examines a factor I hadn’t truly considered.  If you enjoy the discourse, it’s worth a click.

Some of you may know I’m a former animator.  So, when Mini asks for a movie night, I do get a tad excited about indulging in an animated film.  Recently she chose (all on her own) the film “Song of the Sea”.  It is gorgeous.  Drop dead gorgeous – from design, to music, to story, to characters, to character design, pacing, and pure magic.  Just an absolute masterpiece and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  We have also seen “The Secret of the Kells” which is another film by the same team – also just wonderful!

Mini was rather excited about St. Patrick’s day this year.  A few games at school gave her the idea to set a trap for a leprechaun.  She and Hubby devised a fairly clever one right outside her bedroom door.  Not wanting to leave her disappointed, I wrote a wee little note from “Sean the Leprechaun” and left her a bit of treasure too.  It’s always fun to take an opportunity for a little childhood magic when it arises.

Wedding season is about to kick off!  Oh yes, just like the early spring, we have an early-bird wedding this weekend.  I’m anxious and excited to see this one and get back into the groove a bit.

Squeak learned to walk!  We’ve known she can for some time, she just sort of refused to do it without support.  And then one day, she just walked all the way across the family room, and that was it – she was walking.  It has been so fun.  I just adore this age.

My Mother and I have a tradition of kicking off Spring with the Milwaukee Art Museum’s annual event, Art in Bloom.  This year’s installment did not disappoint.  A record number of creations, and scattered all throughout the newly renovated museum.  We made the mistake of eating first and then going to the Museum, which only left us with just over an hour to view it all – but we managed.  We had a few clear favorites and had to consider carefully our votes.  It’s always fun to see what my florist friends have come up with,  such a fun and inspirational event!  We did have one disappointment – the installations in the entrance were far from compelling – just kind of meh.

Just one picture of the girls this time.  There was that random day a few weeks ago where we still had a lot of snow, it was perfectly packy, and it was 36 degrees.  We took full advantage and stomped around in bear track shoes, made snow angels and of course, a snow princess.  Perfectly accessorized by Mini.  This was Squeak’s first real foray into snow, and she just kept giggling at it in her hands.  So fun!

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Have a great week!



Dear Hubby,

Have I told you today how lucky I am to be in love with you?

Because I am.  I’ve been so crazy lucky for eight years, and the seven years before that.  Those first seven seemed to crawl by at times – it was a holding pattern to me – just waiting for this life to begin.  I’ve known you were my future from the first conversation we had. Marrying you felt like I won a prize, I remember feeling so accomplished, so victorious that day.  And now I look around and somehow that overwhelming feeling has grown exponentially.

Looking back at the couple from eight years ago; what we didn’t know could fill a few books.  I remember my Dad gave a toast that said something along the lines of  “These two are very accomplished each on their own, but what they can do together as a team knows no boundaries.”  We believed that then, and we have lived it every day since. None more so than these last few.

What we have built with our little family – I could not feel richer.  I sat in Mini’s bed last night reading stories to her and Squeak, the two of them giggling at each other, and I just stared at them in wonder.  I can’t believe it sometimes.  Here are two tiny beings, such awesome renditions of you, and they are ours.  Ours.  We get to raise them. Us! This morning as I woke up I looked over at you sleeping and marveled at my residence in the universe.  We get to live this life together.  Side by side.

So crazy lucky.

I can’t wait to see what year nine has in store for us.  I know that whatever it is; with you it will be filled with laughter, joy and love.

Happy Anniversary,






Waylynn Day
October 29, 2014
6 lbs 4 oz
21 inches

The most common question I get when people learn we have a new baby is “What is it like having two kids?”.  Well, she’s five months old already and I’m just now getting to blogging about her arrival.  I think that fact might just sum it up nicely.  Almost all of these pictures are from five months ago – when she was new and oh so tiny.  She’s obviously bigger now, but pause time with me for a moment to go back.


Thanks to a rough c-section and recovery, I didn’t get to witness Mini meeting her little sister for the first time.  Though I know her excitement was high!  We were so fortunate that the amazing network of photographers in Milwaukee swung into action and made sure someone was there to photograph these moments when our original plan went to pieces (emergency c-sections will do that).  We are so grateful that our friend Sarah Spottswood dropped everything to be there to capture it for us.


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If you are a reader of the blog, you know that my pregnancy with our newest addition was nothing short of dramatic.  I’ll always be connected to this little one in a special way I think – we spent so many hours, days and weeks just memorizing each other’s heartbeats in a hospital bed, just her and me.

She came earlier than we had planned, but late enough to be healthy and safe.  Since she was 6 weeks early, she (and I) spent the first week+ of her life in the hospital, being monitored.  Hubby and I spent those days introducing her to those who love her most one at a time (as per Nursery rules), holding her for hours, and staring at the monitors keeping track of her every breath and heartbeat.



The last two days in the hospital, Squeak and I got to share a room {finally!}.


Taking this little one home was so emotional.  Just the idea of not living in a hospital, of being able to walk out under my own power – mind-boggling.  As we drove home on the blustery day, just an ordinary afternoon – I turned around to see two carseats in the back of our truck, and my older daughter talking to my younger one.  That moment right there was victory.  We had finally made it.  We were leaving a hospital and taking her home!


The sharp-eyed among you will notice that Mini is holding onto a cart that is wheeling my computer out of the hospital.  My office was all set-up there, in my room.  Squeak arrived at the tail-end of wedding season, and there was still a lot of work to be done!

Mini is a wonderful big sister.  She adores the role, and takes great pride in helping and teaching her younger counterpart all the ways of the world.

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A friend once characterized her second baby as a “bonus”.  She was so right.  We are already broken-in as parents, and I’ve found we get to just enjoy Squeak’s baby-ness so much more this time around.  The sweet smiles, the heavenly scent, the never-ending snuggles.  Since she was a preemie, we had an extended period of newborn-ness that was really fun to relish in.  She was so squishy, and preferred to be in the best version of a pretzel she could create, and snuggled up against the closest heartbeat, for months.

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She was so tiny too – that’s a spit up cloth she’s using for a blanket!


I marveled (still do) at her hair – Mini had almost none when she was born, and Squeak has a bunch of light brown locks.  So sweet.  They look a lot alike except for their coloring – we can’t wait to see how Squeak grows into her features.

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This next picture is possibly the best photo I’ve ever taken, entirely for personal reasons.  It turns me inside out with emotion each time I look at it.  Getting our little Squeak was a huge challenge.  Medical complications from Mini’s birth and subsequent surgeries made it unsafe to conceive naturally.  It’s a story that could fill a novel (maybe one day I’ll have the stomach to write it).  Squeak is an IVF baby.  What it took to bring her into this world, it’s not something I can really convey with words.  But this photo does it for me.  This photo was taken just a month ago, on the one year anniversary of the day we implanted Squeak.  That’s her – at 8 cells in that little picture.  A picture we hung on our fridge and hoped with everything we had that it would work this time.  Maybe it’s not something you can understand until you’ve walked that road.  But seeing her hold the first photo of herself – and knowing what an incredible little human we have been blessed with – there are no words.



It’s been awhile dear blog!


Despite a brief snowfall last week, now it is sunny, a tad warm, and Baby Girl and I even saw tulips finally popping up in the yard yesterday!  Spring may actually be here.

Things have been looking up around here lately, and with just six weeks to go before my season kicks into full-gear, I’m buckling down to get my lengthy off-season to-do list checked off.  So much left to do!

The first thing you’ll notice is an update to the website – hopefully coming in a few days.

We took Baby Girl to Opening Day last week for her first time.  She’s been to scores of Brewer’s games, but not an Opening Day.  We had a blast!  Yeah, we got a few side-eyes for having a toddler at what is largely a drunk fest.  But, we didn’t tailgate (just stopped by my Brother to say hi), and we had tickets on the very calm and manageable Club Level.  So, it was actually no big deal, and plenty of fun!

(I haven’t edited the pics from that day yet, so you’ll have to check out my instagram for any peek at it!)

The Badgers winning streak came to an end on Saturday.  Wonk, wonk.  It was a great game though, and well played.  In my totally un-educated-in-basketball opinion – it all seemed to come down to who got lucky with timing and shots, not necessarily who was best.  As Dr. Seuss says:  Be grateful it happened, not sad it is over.  GO BUCKY!

We have just two episodes of House of Cards left.  So sad to see it come to an end….binge watching is awesome.  But then you get so wrapped up in the stories and they abruptly leave your life.

In other tv news, the long-awaited end to How I Met Your Mother happened last week.  We’ve watched the show from the beginning, but Hubby is a far bigger fan than I am.  I was pretty annoyed with this whole last season.  I mean, how can we spend 16 episodes on one little wedding?  And who has a destination wedding, but then gets married on a Sunday?  It just didn’t add up.  But I was okay with the ending for the most part.  Hubby was disappointed.  I thought it all worked, except it sort of glazed over the love that Ted obviously had for Tracy.  Where do you weigh in?

I hit up the Just Between Friends sale on Saturday.  This sale is my little secret to Baby Girl’s wardrobe.  It’s clean, well-organized, and 90% of what I buy each time is new, or like new.  As a bonus, there is such a variety, and we get some things that are more unique.  And you really can’t beat this sale for toys, outdoor items and basic care items.  It’s going on all this week, check it out!

I tried out a Cauliflower Pizza Crust recipe by my friend Melissa last week, and I have to say – it changed my life.  So, So, SO good!  Seriously.  Not vegetable=y tasting, just crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and so crazy good.  It’s this recipe, if you want to give it a shot.  We did change it by adding a cup of flour and two eggs instead of one.

We went to visit my assistant Ashley a couple of weeks ago, and get a few pics of her new little guy and the new family.  I can’t describe the joy in seeing her and Eric as parents!  Baby Girl got to come along since she knows Ashley.  She had never been on assignment with me before, and she was so sweet!  She read us books, and tried to be the baby whisperer for the little guy, speaking the softest, sweetest voice to him.   Now, she lines up her animals on the couch and takes their pictures with her toy camera.  So stinkin’ cute!

Here’s a couple of shots of her in action that day:




Have a great week!


I’ve always felt that I led a fairly charmed childhood/adolesence.  I grew up without much of the usual gender bias placed on kids.  I can recall thinking that anything, anything was possible if I worked hard enough.  I didn’t think  “anything was possible even though I was a girl”.  The girl part was never part of the thought process.

I can credit that largely to my parents who instilled enough confidence in me and almost never said I couldn’t achieve/try/accomplish something for really any reason, much less gender.

(There was that one time my Dad told me I couldn’t play the trumpet because it wasn’t for girls.  I’m positive if I had pushed for it, he would have come around.  But, I couldn’t buzz my lips, so it was a mute point really.)

I do remember being called Bossy.

Friends, teachers, other adults – they all used the word to describe me at some point.  Being in charge came naturally to me, and that obviously seemed odd for a girl or threatened some people.

I remember my mom having gentle heart-to-heart conversations with me about how I needed to be careful about being labeled bossy.  It’s important to note that she didn’t want me to stop leading, to stop taking charge or to stop being assertive.  She just wanted to be sure I was aware of others’ perceptions so that the label wouldn’t hold me back.

So, instead of shrinking (as some have implied the word does), I embraced my inner bossy.  Taking charge, finding ways to lead, organize and be assertive lead me to many accomplishments, not the least of which is running and owning my own company.

It’s why, when I see my two year old daughter telling us to move this here, or that there, and organizing her whole play room into a hospital in a teepee, and then very assertively giving me a direction to check the toy monkey’s heartbeat with her play stethoscope; it didn’t occur to me to call her bossy.  I did call her organized, surprisingly perceptive, and confident.

What she’s doing, what I did, what every successful woman who has been held up as an example by the “Ban Bossy” campaign has done – it’s not bossy.  It’s motivation, determination, having an opinion, leadership, strength, assertiveness.

Banning the word, as Sheryl Sandberg has campaigned, isn’t the answer.  It’s just a word.  Instead, let’s just stop trying to put girls down when they show these admirable qualities.  Because, let’s be honest – there are a lot of other words people could use to put a girl down that are a whole lot worse than Bossy.

So go ahead and call me bossy.  I won’t mind.  It’s a compliment.  Because you know what?  I’m the good kind of Bossy, and because of that, I’m actually a Boss.





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Last year at about this time, my lovely Associate Photographer Melissa was in town.  As is apt for us to do – we hatched a crazy adventure.  So one morning we got up at sunrise and hiked our way to a natural part of the Lake Michigan shore.  I had heard about the ice floes that form when the temps are cold enough.  It was about 6 degrees.  Nothing close to the record temperatures we have here right now, but still plenty cold.  The numb fingers, cold noses and shivering were totally worth it to see Lake Michigan frozen at sunrise.  There is so much beauty in winter, its a shame we spend our time trying to hide from it and often miss it. Ice Flows-

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