Baby Levi | Bloomington IL Newborn Lifestyle Photographer

The day following our highly-anticipated snowfall last week (after no snow in Bloomington-Normal since December!), I visited this adorable family to capture their newest addition, baby Levi, and their new lives as a family of four.  Andy and Melissa's home already had BEAUTIFUL natural light, but that sunlight bouncing off the white winter wonderland outdoors really made every single room so light and airy! Aside from all the gorgeous window light, I loved the blue and aqua nursery, baby boy's tiny feet and long toes, and big sister Maggie's bright eyes and loving smiles. And baby Levi was SO wide awake and alert! As you'll see, he didn't fall asleep until I'd slipped on my boots and zipped up my coat... so I had to add just one more "sleepy baby" image for mom and dad's gallery.

newborn lifestyle baby boy bloomington illinois il photographer
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Thank you to Levi's family for inviting me to photograph this precious new season of life. Your family is so beautiful!

Interested in booking your newborn session? CONTACT ME. I offer in-home "lifestyle" sessions for newborns, as shown here, and I offer natural, organic newborn studio sessions as well.

Summer Sunset Session | Bloomington IL Family Photographer

As a photographer, there are nights when all the pieces fall into place during a client session and just... magic happens. This was one of those nights. I met mom, dad, big brothers and new baby sister (now one-year-old!) at one of my most recent favorite spots for shooting photography at dusk. The golden sunlight was in the perfect spot, making mom and baby Claire's red hair glow. Stunning. Their outfits coordinated perfectly (mom's dress! GORGEOUS!) and between the balmy summer haze, silly, oh-so-real boys making faces at the camera, and cozy snuggles among this family of 5, we captured portraits I hope perfectly tell the story of this season of their life.

Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer baby sunset session
Bloomington IL family baby photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer baby sunset session
Bloomington IL family baby child photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family baby photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL peoria illinois family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer baby portrait sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session brothers siblings
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington Illinois family photographer summer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer children boys brother sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session
Bloomington IL family photographer sunset session

CONTACT ME to schedule your portrait session!

Want a FREE maternity session?! Here's how... | Bloomington & Peoria IL Maternity/Newborn Photographer

August Special! Complimentary maternity session with booking of newborn session. Becky Hoschek Photography & Branding Design.

August!

It's the month I first became a mommy. To celebrate, I wanted to do something special! All month long, I'm gifting anyone who books a newborn session with me a COMPLIMENTARY maternity session! The little one (or ones, multiples are always welcome too!) might have a due date just around the corner, or months from now. All that matters is that the newborn session is booked sometime in the month of August.

The fine print: maternity sessions can be scheduled throughout the later months in pregnancy, but the ideal time is between 32 and 37 weeks. My maternity sessions are held outdoors, usually on a weekday evening about an hour prior to sunset. My newborn sessions are scheduled within baby's first 12 days. These sessions are held at my home studio in Hudson, Illinois (About 5 min. north of Bloomington-Normal, and about 40 min. from Peoria.)

If you have a little one on the way and would like to take advantage of this August offer, contact me HERE. If you are looking to gift a loved one with maternity and newborn photography, gift certificates are available! Get in touch HERE and we'll get that gift on its way!

Red Lake, Ontario: The Hoscheks' Adventures in the Canadian Wilderness

I might have been crazy.

Might have been crazy to plan a family trip to northern Ontario with two four-year-olds and a six-year-old. No internet. No cell phone connection. No air conditioning. No vehicle for a week, because there are no roads that lead to where we were going.

A fishing trip.

Planned as a Christmas surprise for Jeff - hunter and fisherman and lover of all things outdoors. From the moment he opened his three gifts that spelled out the surprise... colorful, glass-blown Christmas ornaments in the shapes of a fish, a rustic cabin and a Canadian flag, he had been pining for the day we'd take off for the Bow Narrows Fish Camp in Red Lake, Ontario.

He spent months carefully curating his selection of lures that would fill his tackle box. He researched everything we should take with us, from rain gear to waterproof boots that would keep the ankle-biting horseflies away. He crafted the most comprehensive first aid kit you've ever seen - complete with everything he'd need should one of us get into trouble and require stitches. It was impressive.

Me? I'm most certainly not a fisherman. But, I love to travel, and I dreamt of capturing these experiences and memories on my camera. Of photographing every detail. Of seeing new scenery. Of driving through a new country. A LOT of driving through a new country. And, although he teased me about what my life might look like that week with zero access to email, texts or Facebook, I secretly welcomed it. I also secretly hoped to catch the biggest fish. And maybe to catch a glimpse of a moose.

To be honest, I kind of romanticized about the thought of these incredible family moments that we would share, bonding without distractions from any technology. Of late nights playing games around the cabin table. Of relaxing boat rides across a crystal clear lake shimmering in the summer sun.

In reality, we had a few sunny days and a lot of rainy, windy, chilly ones. Some of us preferred to spend the days from dawn to dusk in the fishing boat (Jeff, Henry). Some of us needed to take breaks at the cabin every afternoon (everyone else). We saw stunning scenes on a vast lake and we all caught fish. We saw bald eagles by the masses. We saw open skies with no telephone poles, power lines or wind mills in the way. We ate fresh fish, learned that Henry has fishing in his BLOOD, watched the little Hoscheks jump off the dock to swim in the lake, and taught Annabel to play Scrabble (or Scramble, as she calls it). We played with the camp's ornery chocolate lab, Cork, who has a habit of swiping things right out of your hands when you're not looking. We fed a family of woodchucks, and (of course!) we found a patch of four-leaf clover. We made some awesome memories.

And now, for our week of adventures in photographs.

After 18 hours of driving, we made it to Red Lake. It was a beautiful, mild day and felt like my favorite early fall, September-ish weather.

After 18 hours of driving, we made it to Red Lake. It was a beautiful, mild day and felt like my favorite early fall, September-ish weather.

At the marina in Red Lake, ready to meet Dan from Bow Narrows for our 35-minute boat ride to camp.

At the marina in Red Lake, ready to meet Dan from Bow Narrows for our 35-minute boat ride to camp.

Our first glance at those rocky shorelines and bottle-brush pines.

Our first glance at those rocky shorelines and bottle-brush pines.

Our cabin.

Our cabin.

Some of us didn't want to leave the camp at Red Lake. Some of us were super excited to sleep in our own beds again. All of us made some great memories as a family.

 

 

Sweet Lucy | Peoria & Bloomington IL Newborn Photographer

Say hello to the sweetest little 9-day-old... Lucy. This adorable girl with hints of mama's red hair showing in her own strawberry blonde wisps was such a dream baby to work with. Those neutral blush colors complimented her near perfect skin, too! What a doll.

A doll that is going to be watched over quite closely by her two big brothers, in fact! Unfortunately they weren't able to join us for our session, but this did leave us ample time to play dress up with baby girl! I never tire of the sweet simplicity and beauty of fresh newborn portraits.

Bloomington IL newborn photographer Becky Hoschek. Simple, fresh, timeless newborn, child and family photography throughout central Illinois.


Thank you to Lucy's family for allowing me to capture these precious moments of their brand new girl.

I photograph newborns throughout central Illinois - including Peoria, Bloomington, IL and surrounding communities. Contact Me to schedule your newborn session!

Summer Fun in the Sprinkler

As a mom, I often try to remember, and then recreate, the simple fun of my own childhood. Especially during the warm Illinois summers. I remember being just giddy when we got to play in the sprinkler. Why? I'm not so sure. Water play in the backyard is always fun, but there's something whimsical and unpredictable about the moving sprays of a sprinkler coming your way. As much fun as it was for me as a kid, one thousand times better is to hear my own three giggling about, dodging the sprays or trying to leap over them.

Bloomington Illinois Peoria Illinois child photographer, capturing the everyday moments of summer in childhood.

As a photographer, I'm trying to be more and more intentional about capturing the everyday JOY in our lives with three young children. The quiet moments, the moments that sometimes seem too routine or "everyday" to capture... because I'm remembering, these everyday moments fill up the majority of childhood! They may seem routine to me right now, but they too, are fleeting.

Capturing candid summer fun. Sprinkler shots by Becky Hoschek Photography and Branding Design.
Photographing playful fun in the sprinkler. Capturing water droplets and summer fun by Becky Hoschek.
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What kind of everyday moments could you be capturing?

Strong and Kind.

The past week has really gotten me thinking. It seems like it has a lot of us thinking.

First, the horrific shooting in Orlando, a hate-fueled massacre taking 50 precious lives. Then the unimaginable catastrophe of the alligator at Walt Disney World drowning a two-year-old boy. As a parent, learning of both of these - very different kinds of tragedies - was gut-wrenching.

It made me want to do something. Anything. But what?

In times like this, it's easy to feel completely overwhelmed by the evil that exists among us. We live in a broken world. Bad things happen. For reasons that make no sense, and maybe, never will.

That passion for bringing in more good into the world that is reignited in response to a devastating tragedy like the Orlando shootings can be squashed by the enormity of the concerns, the fear, the uncertainty of the times we live in. We can stop in our tracks thinking, "Really? I'm one person. What can I really do?" We may feel like, if we don't have the resources to start a global initiative, it isn't worth it.

But it so is.

There is hope because we can do so much right where we are. We don't need a global platform to start positive change. Just BE the change. Be the example. You have a circle of influence in your world. Start there and it will multiply.

Over the weekend, when I thought about "What can I do?" two words came to mind: strong and kind. I can be strong and kind. I want to be these both so desperately, to be an example to the three kids in my home who are watching my every move. For my friends and family who are feeling uncertain in their decisions, in parenting, in faith - even just in life in general. And I want to be surrounded by the strength and kindness of others. Don't we all?

When we're feeling defeated by the ugly we see in this fallen world, we can find hope knowing that we can plant the seeds for change in our daily living. We can be strong: in faith, in character, in our beliefs, in our confidence, in admitting our mistakes and striving to be a better version of ourselves each day. We can be kind: to ourselves, to those who are kind to us and those who are not; to those we love, those we need, and those strangers who need us to show them some light in the world. We can be kind to those you are just like us, and those who couldn't be more different.
 

I've realized in my most important job as a parent, there is nothing I desire more than to help raise strong, kind adults.

Remember James Keller's words: "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."

becky-hoschek-be-the-light-strong-kind

So friends, take your candles, and go light the world.

NEWBORN GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO SESSION | BLOOMINGTON NORMAL ILLINOIS BABY PHOTOGRAPHER

I think of a newborn baby and think of a simple, innate beauty. On a blank canvas of simple, light backgrounds and little to no adornments, the beauty is in the details. In the back wrinkles. In the sheer, almost invisible eyelashes. In tiny toes and even teenier toenails. In wisps of hair and curled up baby fingers.

With bigger children it's the big bright eyes, expressive faces and giddy laughter that I love to capture; but for these newborn sessions, with fresh new little people, it's these subtle nuances that will so quickly fade. The start of a brand new story that has just begun to be written.

For Norah, her story begins as the first baby girl in the family... a little sister to love after three boys. Mommy is a teacher, Daddy is a firefighter and, between them, and three older brothers, I think Norah's story will be full of love and affection. Welcome to the world, sweet Norah.

I love the precise simplicity in her images. The purity of white. The simplicity and perfection of a new little being. This baby girl is truly precious and unique and I loved creating these images that help to tell the story of how baby Norah's life began.

In addition to these in-studio images, I had the pleasure of photographing Miss Norah and her parents at our Fresh 48 Hospital session.

simple newborn baby girl wrapped in white
newborn baby girl in a natural pose lying on a white blanket
smiling newborn portrait baby fists head wrapped in pure white cloth
sleeping newborn baby girl lying on belly on textured white background and light gray wrap
sleeping baby girl newborn overhead shot details of hair and nose simple and minimalist
naked natural newborn baby girl simple relaxed pose on solid white background
simple newborn baby girl on pure white blanket with squished cheeks and hand under chin
minimal clean detail shot of newborn baby tiny wrinkled feet pink toes
sleeping newborn baby natural fetal position simple clean on pure white backdrop
criss crossed newborn baby legs and toes detail image on simple background
relaxed sleeping newborn baby girl curled up in white headband with tiny yellow flower
close up photograph of newborn baby girl sleeping in sweet floral headband with a yellow flower
simple portrait of tiny newborn baby toes little feet brand new
peaceful newborn baby girl sleeping under white knit blanket with tiny fists in the air
8 day old baby girl in cream lace romper curled up on textured white lace blanket
newborn baby girl in natural sleeping pose wearing oatmeal lace knit romper and white floral headband
sleeping newborn girl in simple neutral colors resting with hand on criss-crossed legs
adorable newborn girl lying under pink and cream knit blanket while snuggling with tiny teddy bear
sleeping newborn baby girl with simple white background and brown furry teddy bear

Sweet dreams, little Norah.

CONTACT ME to book your newborn photography session!

Follow me on Facebook. Visit my Instagram feed! Check out my Pinterest boards.

Baby Norah | Fresh 48 Newborn Hospital Session | Bloomington Normal Illinois

I love Fresh 48 newborn sessions.

They are so real. So emotional. So precious.

The overflowing affection poured out by an over-the-moon mama and daddy. The cuddles. The tiny wrinkles and flakes of new skin. The inspection of noses, ears, eyelashes, fingers and toes to see whom baby resembles.

It's the most natural love story of all time. And to somehow be part of that, to capture those little moments, that adoration, those parts of baby that will change oh-so quickly, is such an honor and a blessing.

Baby Norah arrived on a Tuesday in spring... just days after Mother's Day. After THREE brothers, her mommy was SO excited to bring out all things pink! The blankets, the outfits, the BOWS. She is a little dolly who will no doubt be under the watchful and protective eyes of her daddy and three big brothers!

With perfect skin and the most gorgeous tiny features, she is one of the prettiest newborns! Congratulations to this sweet family on the safe and healthy arrival of their long-awaited baby girl. See more of baby Norah's newborn images from our in-studio session HERE.

BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
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BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK
BLOOMINGTON NORMAL PEORIA ILLINOIS NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER FRESH 48 HOSPITAL SESSION BECKY HOSCHEK

Central Illinois Newborn Photographer:Mother's Day Giveaway!

Mother's Day is just one week away! I want to make it extra special for one expecting mama... so I'm giving away a newborn session! Be sure to share with all of your expecting friends/family in the area!!!

Entrants should be able to travel to my studio, which is five minutes north of Bloomington/Normal, Illinois. The expected baby should be due in May, June, July or August 2016.

Registration is open NOW through next Saturday, May 7, 2016 at midnight CST. Click HERE to enter!

 

Josh + Jake : Twin Brother Senior Portraits

Twin brothers! Gah! Get out the tissues, I told myself. During this fun senior session with Josh and Jake, two incredibly sweet, friendly and kind young men just about to graduate from Normal Community High School in four short weeks, I was flashing forward 13 years when my own twin boys will be reaching this momentous milestone.

Teenage guys aren't known for wanting to be in front of a camera, but these two were such champs, so photogenic with those genuine smiles, and playing right along with my antics to create images that (I hope!) their proud parents will treasure for years to come. These senior portraits are just a snapshot of their current season in life... a chapter that is soon wrapping up so that new adventures can begin; so that new doors can open.

Congratulations Josh and Jake on graduating from NCHS - I hope the upcoming year is filled with all good things!

Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers
Becky hoschek photography bloomington normal illinois senior photography guy twin brothers

Why I Love Being Thirtysomething.

Today I turned 36.

birthday 36: I woke up to 3 very excited little hoscheks, and a new sleep shirt covered with their artwork! Love it! photo credit: daddy jeff hoschek


birthday 36: I woke up to 3 very excited little hoscheks, and a new sleep shirt covered with their artwork! Love it! photo credit: daddy jeff hoschek

I've now known my husband for 10 years. I've been out of college for almost 14 years, and it was 20 years ago today that I got my driver's license. What?!? (For some reason, it's that last factoid that gets me. 20 years!)

I've never been one to try to hide my age. I didn't freak out when I turned 30. In fact, it was the best year ever because I had always dreamed of being a mom, and I turned 30 as the mother of a 6-month old baby girl! Six years down the road, I am still loving this decade so much.

In our twenties, we're really just trying to figure it all out. Who we are (who we really, truly are), what we want to be when we grow up. We're figuring out our priorities, what we believe in, what we don't, what is worth fighting for. What defines us.

So far, my 30s have been about FREEDOM. It's so freeing to be who you are without the need to apologize for it. To get to a point where you see (and experience) how fleeting life is... which makes caring SO much about some things - and not caring much at all about others - so gratifying. My thirties have been about letting go of certain friendships while pursuing new ones. Realizing that life is a journey where not everyone is meant to sit with you on the entire ride. It's about life culling - simplifying and getting rid of those relationships and things that don't make our lives healthier or happier. It's about holding firm on those core parts of me that will always, unashamedly be me, but being open and flexible to being molded into the person I am becoming. It's been the end of comparing myself to others, and the beginning of focusing inward on how I can better love, evolve and give of myself. There is such freedom in this place. It's refreshing and humbling and comforting.

In my twenties, I'd go to a movie with friends and have my ID checked to confirm I was old enough to see an "R" rated move (this seriously happened), but now I walk into any movie just fine, and no longer get carded if I order a glass of wine at dinner. I guess I don't look 16 anymore. :)

Today, I look in the mirror and see a lot of wrinkles on my face. They are reminders of the life I've lived. And am living. The laughter, stress, sadness... all of it. They are reminders that no, I am not 16 anymore. At the same time, I am still evolving into the person I'm meant to be. And I love that.




Baby Leah | Fresh 48 Newborn Hospital Session | Bloomington Normal Illinois

The morning after our first official snow day of the year, I made a visit to St. Joe's Medical Center in Bloomington to photograph this little GIRL's first hours with Mommy and Daddy. Baby number three's gender was a complete surprise. Lots of hand-me-downs from big sister are coming her way! These moments are so fleeting, and for parents, some that we most quickly forget. Those first yawns and stretches, those flaky, wrinkly hands and feet, and in little Leah's case, unhappy moments when Mommy wasn't holding her, are so much fun to capture - especially because they change SO MUCH in those first few days and weeks.

Welcome to the world, baby girl.

If you are interested in scheduling a Fresh 48 Newborn Session for your baby's upcoming arrival, please contact Becky HERE.

Our Vintage Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel.

Ever since purchasing our home in 2008, we'd been dreaming of a new kitchen. (And I'd been dreaming of a modern farmhouse kitchen.) Then life happened, and babies started coming, and we were too caught up in sleepless nights and showerless (is that a word?) days to think about it much more. But a couple of years ago, with 3 small children all under age 4, we realized that we were at a crossroads - we needed to either relocate, or stay put in our home and make our house what we wanted it to be. My husband is hopelessly in love with our large, tree-lined backyard, and so it was the latter option that won. We started saving up for this investment, and I started dreaming up ideas of what this new space would look and feel like.

Practically speaking, our wish list pointed at something more spacious and roomier for our growing family. Jeff and I both love to cook and be in the kitchen, so we needed more counter space and prep area, as well as a bigger island for family seating and "project" work space. Aesthetically speaking, my wheels started turning, brainstorming how we could incorporate the details of old and new: loving the simplicity and clean lines of modern design, mixed with the neutral color palette, vintage textures and diverse materials found in more rustic farmhouse kitchens.

Needing help to bring the "visions in my head" (and on numerous Pinterest boards) to life, we chose to work with Amy Raber of Prairieland Designs. Amy's expertise in space planning and kitchen design were so incredibly helpful. She was able to transform our space into a design plan that really made sense for our family, and she was excellent at translating my personal style and tastes into suggestions we loved!

For a family of five, a summer without a functioning kitchen, which meant lots of microwavable mac-and-cheese a la the garage microwave, was... interesting... but so worth it! Here are the before and after images of the light and airy, gorgeous kitchen we love waking up to each morning.

The Balancing Act.

Back in my first few years as a mom, I vividly remember a coffee date when I'd met up with an older mom friend at Starbucks on a damp and overcast fall day. Clutching my toasty warm Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand, I welcomed the adult company and the quiet break away from my two-year-old daughter and twin babies. I needed that break. My body and mind needed that break. My SOUL needed that break.

Like me, my friend was also a mom and a business owner. She too, was even a mom of multiples, though her littles were older, so she was a few steps ahead of me on the "mom" journey. She had been in my shoes. And, as it would turn out, this coffee date to both catch up with one another, and to allow me to consult with her on some branding and marketing concerns she had for her own business, would turn into something much more. It turned into a true "God moment", as I like to refer to them - one of those times when someone else's words to you become such a blessing, you hold onto them forever and know they just had to be divinely inspired.

As my friend and I talked, words and feelings that had been weighing on my heart spilled out onto the table between us. We spoke about motherhood and identity, that need for something of our "own" that as moms, we sometimes cling to when we feel pulled in so many directions by everyone else in our world. At that time, I was working as both a part-time photographer AND had just launched a second business name (was I CRAZY?! Yes, I think I was.), under which I was creating designs and marketing pieces for other photographers and small business owners. I remember sharing the words, "When I'm spending time with the kids, my mind drifts to what I should be working on for the business, but when I'm sitting at my computer working, all I can think about is that I should be with my kids." It was a double-edged sword constantly stabbing at my guilt-ridden mother's heart, and I couldn't figure out how to make it all work together.

"How do you do it?" I asked her. "How do you find the balance?"

She sipped her latte as a wise, all-knowing smile spread across her face. "Oh honey," she sort of sighed and laughed to herself at the same time, indicating that she really HAD been in my shoes, "there is no such thing."

"Huh?" I thought to myself. "What?" How could there be "no such thing"? I had been elusively searching for the magic key, the secret words, that single piece of advice I needed to hear to be set free from this exhausting race to make it all work... and it didn't exist? Yikes. These are not the words I had been expecting to hear. And yet, they were exactly the words I needed to hear.

Our conversation continued, with me hoping to expunge every last drip of her more-experienced mom wisdom. We talked about that quest for balancing it all that will never end, because life isn't about balance so much as it is about priorities. Everything falls into place when our priorities are set. The hamster wheel of thoughts in my mind was turning, and I continued to think about her words long after our coffee talk had ended. I prayed, asking God to help show me how He wanted me to be using my time. Maybe I had it all wrong, trying to juggle all of this on my own. Maybe I was doing it all backwards?With a lot of prayer, and a lot of careful listening, I started to recognize that a balanced life isn't set in place by the number of hours in the day we have (or don't have!) or the length of our to-do lists, but by living life on purpose. With purpose. This shift in perspective CHANGED by world.

But, what does "living on purpose" mean? I think of it as the choice between letting life happen to us vs. making deliberate choices in our lives based on our priorities and our purpose. There are only so many hours in a day. How do we decide what to do with those hours? Matthew 6:33 tells us, “Seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Had I been seeking God first when starting my days? When defining my purpose? When setting my priorities? No. I was consulting myself and struggling, really struggling to find meaning and purpose in the things I thought that I should be doing. I was looking for answers in all the wrong places. Looking back, I really was doing life backwards... then wondering why everything felt so out of balance.

But you know those "magic words" I was relentlessly searching for? They were there the whole time. God has outlined in scripture His secret for finding balance and determining what our priorities are to be. That secret is to seek Him. I love reading John 15:4-5: "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Unless we first seek and rest in Him, we will not find the necessary energy and focus to be productive in our lives. To feel some sense of balance.

We can find more inspiration in John 15:1-2: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” God wants us to be contently productive and focused - more fruitful! Doesn't it make sense that God would have created our days with enough time for the things He knows we need time for? He doesn’t want us to waste time on things that aren’t bearing fruit, nor does He want us to exhaust ourselves or lose sight of our priorities by not remaining in Him. His involvement in each of our days is the key to a spiritually balanced life.

Here we go!

It's happening, folks. I'm blogging.

Something that's been on my list of "things to get to", "things I should do" and "things I'll do eventually-when-the-kids-grow-up-and-maybe-then-I'll-have-time" (yes, I see how silly that concept is as I type it out. Because obviously when they all grow up, all my time will be spent crying!). The thing is, I've been called to write for sometime now, and this is the now.

What a better day than today, eh?

So let me say HELLO! with my first visual.

Photo by sharon guillotte

Photo by sharon guillotte

I am blessed to do life with this gifted, funny, hardworking man who drives me crazy in both good and bad ways, and together we have the three most adorable/beautiful/smart/whiny/challenging (depending on the day) children on earth. Add two dogs to the mix and we definitely, "have our hands full", as the well-meaning strangers in the grocery store all seem to say.

My life is beautiful mess (some days more messy than others) and I am far from having everything together. Oh boy. So. far. from. it. But I love to write, to encourage and inspire, share funny stories, share life lessons and thoughts, with photographs of my daily life and my professional work (photography and branding/design) sprinkled in along the way.

So welcome to my new online home, friends! I hope you find it filled with giggles, authenticity and gratitude.

And cheers to a new year, and to starting new things. | BH