blog move ...

It's with butterflies in my stomach that I'm writing this ...

My photography website is live and I'm ready to share it ... wee!! Why am I so nervous??

I have so much to tell you ... so much has been going on that I want to share. The Lord has been at work in my life and in my heart and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

But ... I'll be telling you on a new blog site, as not only am I changing my look {again!} ... I'm changing my blog address as well.

Because I've imported this blog {all posts} into my new site ... this one will stay here static. If you subscribe via RSS, google reader, bloglines or such ... please update your subscription to the new site. Or resubscribe on the new site.

Yeah ... I'm procrastinating. Look at me typing away delaying the new site addresses. And now I've just wasted three minutes, sitting here with my fingers on the keyboard typing nothing. I'm nervous.

Okay, but here goes ...

http://tsjphotography.com {website}
http://tsjphotography.com/blog {blog}

Gaaaaaa!!! I'll be happy to receive any feedback ... good, bad or otherwise! See ya over there! ;)


{via trendy tots}

The name alone will make you want to buy one! I love this adorable little nest ... they're available in a variety of patterns, and you can find them here.

Hint, hint preggo ladies in my life ... or should I be gifting it? ;)


wish list

Oh what I wouldn't do to look this hip when I'm a tad older. Skinny jeans? I can't pull 'em off now ... sigh ...

Lauren Hutton ... hats off to you girl! Way to rock my J.Crew world!


my budding artist

Piper loves art. She's been drawing like a mad-woman since preschool. Her hands are constantly covered in markers ... much like a mechanic's hands have a permanent stain of oil and grease.

When Pipes grows up, she wants to be an artist. Maybe she'll stay close to home and go to MIAD? I can dream, can't I? Anyway.

She came home the other day with this story and I had to share ... There was a cover page that said:

"The anaamls medeen" {translated to: The animals meeting}

Once there was a lion. He had a meeting. He was late!

I'm hoping this isn't a metaphor for our family life! :)

happy st. pat's!

{via the crafty crow}

Looking for a fun St. Pat's craft with the kids? These shamrock pretzel treats are the perfect fix!

And if your looking for some green eye-candy ... check this out!


new lens love!

Today found me playing 'nakie' hopscotch with Hunter. Well ... she was nakie, I was fully clothed. Um, not so cute if mom were nakie! Hunter had just woke from her nap ... I had taken her pull-up off and didn't put her undies on yet before we started playing.

Is it just me, or does everyone have a soft spot for those little dimpled bare bottoms? Again, talking Hunter's here ... not mine {thank you very much!}.

Anyway. With that little bottom right in front of me ... I couldn't resist ... I finally broke out a new lens I've been dying to try out and I love it!! Love, love, love it! Yum! It's a 50mm 1.2 ... I used it here at 1.2 to see what it would do and how fun? Or is it just me? :)

Oh! And I should mention ... yes, my kids are generally dirty and I don't care. But in this particular case, Hunter had a mean mug of hot chocolate before naptime!

easter anyone?

I love this picture ... reminds me of spring, pastels, bonnets, and shiny new white Easter shoes! Does anyone have their Easter decorations up yet? Some have told me I'm crazy ... I've had mine up since the Valentine's came down.

{via black*eiffel}



i fell in love with my husband ...

All over again. Seriously big sigh ...

You know how you just get caught up in the same ol' routines? Day in and day out. Stressin' about this, stressin' about that? We lead a pretty busy and somewhat complicated life and sometimes we just lose ourselves ... our marriage, in all of the craziness.

For Christmas the past couple of years, I've given Curt a trip away for just the two of us. He loves it and hey, it's just icing for me, right?

This year, I picked a place on the Turks & Caicos islands ... beautiful! I've been to the islands twice before and stayed somewhere different, so this was fun to explore a new place.

We were instantly relaxed ... seriously relaxed!

The place was quiet, pristine, private ... totally private! Everyone stayed in private pavilions which were situated on I-don't-even-know-how-many acres. And the pavilions were all nestled back in lush vegetation so you couldn't see anyone else.

Here's a photo of ours. There are three sides of full floor-to-ceiling glass walls, so you could see the views all around you. Seriously beautiful. {warning: I may use the word 'seriously' in this post way too much}

A view from our pavilion deck.

A view from our bathroom ... our bed is just beyond this wall ... you can see the seriously beautiful views we had.

A sunset {reflected off the window}. This is our little outdoor dining area. So the views weren't spoiled, it was built-in ... seriously genius!

The pavillion at night ...

Me on our first night to dinner. Gotta love wearing a $19.00 old navy dress to a fancy-schmancy dinner place!

I surprised CJ one night with a beach cove dinner. Had his fav planned for the menu ... anyone? anyone? You guessed it ... cheeseburger and fries. I can just hear his mommy saying, "oh Curtie!"

Lastly, if you wanted privacy ... they had this little wooden starfish that you hung on one of the lights on the path to your pavilion ... how cute?

We had a seriously awesome time {okay, I think I'm done using seriously ... I may have lost a few readers with that}. It was just so great, and so needed to get away and recharge our marital batteries.

We missed the kids terribly ... but we were able to talk without being interupted, we slept, we laughed, we ate, we laid, we read, we kissed, held hands, walked, and had fun ... with each other.

I think every marriage needs time away. Sometimes we'll just take a weekend and head to Chicago if we can. I just think it's so important for a marriage. It's so easy to get caught up in the kids and the calendar that sometimes you lose sight of what is holding the whole thing together in the first place {after God that is ...}.

Click here to see a few more photos. Now if you'll excuse me ... I've got a couple buckets of mail that need tending to ...

kid couture

{via cool mom picks}

The world would be a happy place if every child I see this spring were wearing these!

a serious.life magazine

The April issue is available ... check it out by clicking on the image below ... enjoy!

Serious.Life Magazine


need a pregnant mama

Who'll let me take a photo like this ... beautiful!
{via kiss the groom}


a boy, a girl & mommy

I was honored to photograph this family last week, and I learned some things too! Most important ... remember deodorant! I have a tendency to be a big ball o' sweat during these shoots and um, well ... deodorant definitely helps in those sitchs!

Okay, seriously ... this is a beautiful family! Dad was at work, so I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with mom and her treasures.

Little miss sunshine was a ball of smiles when I arrived and started playing with her. And of course, as soon as I picked up my camera she was closed mouthed or blowing bubbles ... oh and then there was the complete determination of stuffing her whole fist into her mouth {sometimes her feet if she could get them}. She made me work!

Something I learned is to just let them play. Little man here wanted to get his dracula teeth ... mom was not lovin' that idea. Until I said, "sure, why don't we get a couple shots of dracula." And with digital it's so easy to delete them. Why not make little man happy so we can get some shots mom will love? And honestly, isn't this just a little bit adorable?

Another one where little man had his own ideas for the photo shoot ...

Another hard thing was trying to get one good shot of all three of them. I love photo-journalistic type photography where every frame isn't posed. Just natural shots of the kids playing, interacting, just being. But not every mom is going to want to frame a random shot of the kids playing. Most at least want one shot of everyone together ... I know I do when we have our photos taken.

What I learned is not to be so hard on myself. I was positive I hadn't gotten a single good shot of the three of them together ... but look ... this one isn't bad! And there were even a few more ...

At one point, mom went into the other room to change herself and little man, so I took advantage of her absence and put some cute hats on little miss sunshine ...

I loved their vintage looking furniture ... perfect for the vintage looking post-processing I did for this photo.

And last but not least ... raise your hand if you love a baby in a frilly green skirt!

Thank you Rachel & kids for letting me capture your beautiful family ... truly a blessing! You can find more photos from this shoot here.


for my girls

So ... I should preface this by saying ... most of my 'deeper' posts start out days ahead of time in my head. I just feel a bunch of thoughts coming on and unfortunately for you dear readers ... they usually end up here in a spewed-out mess of jambalaya!

This post started in my head as a list to my girls. A list of who I want them to be, what my wishes and desires are for them. And as I'm thinking of it and listing it out {in my head}, I realized if I did that in a post, it may seem somewhat morbid without explaining why ... especially given that I'm traveling and away from them and God forbid something happened. So ... here is where this post is coming from.

I had a customer at the store who ordered wedding invitations. Through variety of {honest and unfortunate} mistakes her order was never placed. A few weeks later, she called to inquire about her order. Uh-oh! When we finally found her order and realized what happened, I called her back to explain.

She was very nice, but looking for some sort of compensation. "10 percent?" I asked. "I was really hoping for more than that," she answered. We settled on 20 percent. And that I would do my best to get her envelopes printed and pre-shipped so she could start addressing them.

I told her I'd get back to her the next day. I would be traveling, but would call her as soon as I got in. When we landed, I checked my emails to see if the store had an update for me, and thus began a flurry of upset.

I was told this woman called the store and was very upset and felt 20% was not compensation enough. I was thoroughly confused because it didn't sound like the woman I had talked to the night before. I called the number I was given and was shocked to find out it was the bride's mom!

Now, I admit ... I've probably had my mom cover for me for things far beyond the age of appropriateness {i.e., calling in sick for me ...}. But come on!

This mother was horrendous to talk to. Seriously. It was an honest mistake we'd made. I was doing all I could to rectify the situation. I even offered to hand-address all 175 of her invites!

The mother said she just didn't know that she could 'trust' us, considering how we wronged them. Seriously?!? I may have raised my voice at that point {ever so slightly, mind you}, as I explained to her that I don't run my business that way. It was an honest mistake. We realized what happened {mis-filing} and are doing all we can to make it better.

The wedding isn't until the third{ish} week in May. The reply date is the end of April ... they really have plenty of time for these to get out. I understand the frustration ... but are the accusations and drama necessary?

When I finally hung up the phone with her, she had a 45% discount, rush-processing, and overnight shipping {all paid by bwp}. Curt had an upset wife in a bundle of tears ... mind you, we had literally just arrived and walked into our room at this point.

Okay, so the reason for my post? In playing this all over in my head, I began to wonder ... what is this mother teaching her daughter.

To fight, fight, fight ... break someone down to the point of tears, to get an obscene discount and come off as a problematic person/customer?

Definitely not what I want to teach my children. And so the post begins:

For My Girls
be kind, loving, and generous
hold doors open
say please and thank you
be understanding & patient
hold judgement
leave large tips
clean up after yourself
give to others
be courteous
be respectful ... of everyone
be kind
if someone wants to pass you, let them
honor your family
be joyful
jealousy will get you nothing
work hard
be loving
have goals ... and follow them
be kind
have compassion
be honest
marry a Christian boy
smile ... a lot
if invited for dinner, help wash the dishes
count your blessings, no matter how small
take walks
laugh ... a lot
cherish friendships
be kind
love God with all your heart
love yourself


butterfly, butterfly ...

{via 100 percent cottam}

I spotted this today over here and decided to get a few. My girls will love it! And whenever I spot something good, I tend to get a couple extra for my stock pile of gifts. The girls get invited to way too many birthday parties ... wowsers!

That's me ... always thinking ahead {not really, but it felt good to say it ...}


tiny tim ... the turtle

Madness ensues as I'm packing and trying to get the girls settled for granny's visit. How is it you never realize how crazy your life is until you have to explain it to someone else?

CJ and I are headed out of town for an long weekend ... can't wait ... we really need to refresh our marital souls.

Here's a little something to brighten up your day ... Not sure I'll be posting while I'm gone {maybe a preview of the photo session I did yesterday}, so I'll see ya next week!


yes please!

You can find the trench here and the dress here. Still searching for the legs ...


another maternity shoot {for real}

I'm excited about this particular shoot because I had something in mind to do and they were my very own ideas. Huh?

Well you see, I am highly inspired by other photographers and other work I see. And some of the photography I've been taking is 'inspired by' what I've seen done.

Some debate, that it's not real art when that happens and is more like copying. Probably true to some extent ... but it still takes skill to understand your camera, lighting, work with a subject and get decent shots. Right?

I'd like to argue that it's a form of being creative ... being inspired by others and feeding off of their work, helps you move further with your own work. At least that's how I feel.


So my very own idea was to put a bare pregnant belly outside with a big chunky sweater & Uggs in the middle of the snow. Fortunately Aime was up for it and ta-da ... some gorgeous photos ensued!

I haven't played with my photos in a while. And while I liked this shot, it felt a little ho-hum to me. So I jazzed it up a little.

Look at those killer eyes ... love 'em!

I loved these shots of her laying down ...

Isn't this belly beautiful?

See? This 'pose' has been around the block ... but I love it and I think it's a great shot for a new mama to treasure.

Isn't she beautiful?!
I have such a hard time choosing which shots to put here. I wish I could post them all! There are a few more on my facebook page and you can check them out here.

Enjoy! {p.s., if you'd ever like to view any images on my blog larger, just click on the photo}

i'm so glad i didn't miss this ...

At Christmas this past year, Curt played a movie he'd put together of videos he taped throughout the year. A sad realization came over me as I watched it ... I wasn't with during any of the moments that were taped.

They'd been trips he'd taken up here, at the lake. Moments on their little camping adventures and hikes in the yard. Waterparks when I was busy. Moment's I'd missed out on.

But not this time.

I've had an amazing weekend with my family and I'm so glad I didn't miss it. First off ... CJ cooked every meal ... and cleaned up afterwards! He'd shoo me out of the kitchen and I'd spend time with the girls.

And then there's spending time with the girls. Snuggled up watching a movie. Connect Four with Hunter. Apples to Apples with Taylor and Ana. Constant amazement at how big Hunter is getting. And you know that secret glance you give your hubby when no one else in the world's hearts are swelled with love as large as yours, over something your child just did ... I had many of those glances with CJ this weekend.

And I marvel at how great it is to not be consumed with 'busyness' so that I'm able to connect with my hubby through a glance.

Granted, I've logged some computer time as well. I've been working on editing the last maternity session I did ... and I'm excited to share some with you soon.

But back to our weekend ... CJ took the girls out snowmobiling. I'm embarrassed to say, in the past, I usually stay in the house {most likely napping, or locked to my computer}, but not this time. Things are a changin' I tell you!

So he's got a toboggan hooked up to the back of the snowmobile {and today, a small sled to the back of the toboggan} and we took the girls {and dogs} around and around the long driveway circle.

I sat backwards on the snowmobile smiling from ear-to-ear. The girls were having the times of their lives. Even little Huntie. Even miss teenager and friend!

We took Taylor & Ana out onto the golf course {shhh ...}. Curt does not take it easy on them. His ultimate challenge and joy is to whip them off that toboggan. It took a lot of effort, but he finally managed it a few times.

We're packing up to head home soon. Back to the grind, back to the everyday.

My prayer is to remember the feeling in my heart right now and strive for that in the midst of the tempting 'busyness' jungle.


family matters

We're at the lake this weekend and this visit has a particularly special meaning to me ... you see, Curt planned this visit with the little girls. He often brings them up here, because I'm 'busy' doing this-or-that {or, in my own defense, have something going on with Taylor}.

Well ... enough of that! This weekend I am doing away with my 'busyness' and I am here! Present and accounted for. Shout with me ... amen and hallelujah!

Big sigh ...

I had a bible study on Wednesday night. We're studying a book from Max Lucado, Facing Your Giants {awesome read if you haven't already} and this past week we studied Chapter 17, Family Matters.

I've talked about it many times before, but it's something I really, really struggle with. Finding the balance between work, busyness, and family. I think if we're honest, most of us struggle with that balance.

This weeks bible study really hit home with a lot of people ... thank you all for letting me know.

As a side note, I've started feeling discouraged with the bible study ... feeling that people weren't interested anymore, or getting anything out of it. I started looking at other 'studies' we could do {which we will move on eventually} that might be more interesting. But after praying about it and not finding another 'study', I feel the Lord is telling me he isn't finished teaching us what we're studying right now.

I've come to realize Satan is putting these thoughts into my head, and just when I needed it most, the Lord has given me encouragement through you.

So back to 'Family Matters' ... we're studying the life of King David {of David & Goliath fame}. Did you know this great man, who masterminded military conquests, founded the capital city of Jerusalem, who wrote the book of Psalms, and killed the giant Goliath ... failed his family?

I think we can learn a lot from his failure ...

There isn't an account in the bible where David prayed for his family. Out of all the scripture he's written and all the prayers he's said ... we can't find that he's prayed over his family or written scripture for them.

He prayed for his army, his friends, and even his enemy ... why then is he silent about his family?

To paraphrase Max Lucado ... Was he too busy to notice them? Maybe. Too important to care for them? Too guilty to direct or discipline them?

Too busy, too important, too guilty ... and now? Too late. David's son had overthrown the city and exiled David. David was destined to die alone, in a stranger's arms.

But it's not too late for us. I realize chances are we won't be overthrown or exiled. And we most likely will not die alone. And our children and families will most likely be there for us.

But here's a thought ... will they be there out of duty, or because they want to.

Our homes are our giant-sized privilege. We need to make it our towering priority.

A privilege? Yes, a privilege. God has given us our families. He has given us our husbands, wives and children.

For those of us in happy marriages ... thank God. If it were not in his plan, we would be roaming from marriage to marriage. Relationship to relationship.

I realize I've made, and apologize {deeply} for the mistakes I've made along the way. But after many guilt-filled prayers ... I know, without a doubt, this is where God wants me to be.

How about those of us with children? Having children isn't 'a given' ... there are many that can't have children. And for those that have adopted children ... those little souls have been given to you.

We need to honor our families, our spouses, our children. By honoring them, we are glorifying and pleasing the One who allowed us to have them in the first place.

"Your children are not your hobby, they are your calling."

"Your spouse is not your trophy, but your treasure."

Some of us {guilty here!}, put value on what we do. We measure our worth by our accomplishments.

I meet someone at a dinner party and am asked, "What do you do?" And I try my best to list off all my 'busyness' and accomplishments. It somehow doesn't seem justifiable that I stay home with my kids ... or maybe work a desk job part-time so I can make the most of my family time.

I saw Soledad O'Brien speak once {and I know I've posted about this before ... see? I'm still struggling with the same ol' issues!}, and she said something that hit me:

"As women, we feel some sort of pleasure in 'one-uping' each other in our busyness." I think, to some extent, that it's true. But the most important part of her message? "It's not a competition."

Get that? It's not a competition. God hasn't designed us for busyness ... which is maybe why we can't handle it? There's no glory in it. And does it really make us feel better letting someone know how much busier we are?

It used to make me feel better. Honestly it did. I somehow felt justified as a woman, mother, wife. Lord knows I didn't want anyone thinking I sat around watching Oprah and eating bon-bons all day! :)


It's taken me a long time, {and if I'm honest here, a part of me will probably struggle with it forever} but I'm finally ready to give up the busyness. And I truly, truly can't wait.

It was so hard to decide to sell the store. And now that I have, I can't get rid of it fast enough {quite literally ... I'm not getting rid of it fast enough!}.

I have a list of things that I can't wait for ... top of the list being my family. I can't wait to be 'present' for my family.

My broker has said that the potential buyer I met with should be writing on Monday with an answer. I am praying {oh Lord, where are these tears coming from?!?} the Lord 'answers' with an offer.

I've come across a couple of links through twitter this morning, and I urge you to check them out ... both are very inspirational {I promise!}. You can find them here and here.

I believe there's a balance to be had in all of this. As I've written before, I don't want my kids to remember "in a minute" ... "I'll be right there" ... "let me finish this up first."

I started this post last night, but instead of {as I would've in the past} staying up late and finishing it up, I decided to spend some time with the hubs reading in bed. Today has been a mixture of writing, watching a dance show, writing, playing backgammon, writing, piano playing ... well, you get the idea.

The kids call me or ask me to do something, so I put the computer down and go play. And when I'm done with this post, I'll put it away.

I'm a work in progress, and I'm thankful I have a God who works on me a little bit every day.

It's not too late for me {or for you}.

"Make your wife the object of your highest devotion. Make your husband the recipient of your deepest passion. Love the one who wears your ring.

And cherish the children who share your name.

Succeed at home first."


empty bowls

Mark your calendar and bring the family! This is a great organization, fundraiser and family event. Monday, March 2 {11-2 for lunch and 4-7 for dinner} at the Masonic Center in Racine.

We went last year, brought the kids and loved it!

Empty Bowls is a hunger-fighting event to remind us there is always an empty bowl ... somewhere. Choose a handmade ceramic bowl that have been made from area schools and other organizations. Then choose from a variety of delicious soups prepared by local chefs ... find a seat and enjoy music performed by local musicians.

$15 per meal {you pick out and keep the bowl}. $5 for children under 10 {styrofoam bowl}. And $7 for soup to go. Bring in a canned good donation and/or an empty bowl from a previous year and earn an additional chance to win a special bowl set.

See ya there!

calling all newborns ...

Anyone got a new peanut I can put in here and photograph?


rain, rain go away

{via a little sussy}

It's the rainy season ... dreary, cold, damp and wet. But there's something about this bubble that brightens my dreary-day blues.

Best of all? It's only $16.99 at Target!


yummy recipe

I had a bible study tonight. Great subject ... family matters. Thanks ladies for coming and opening your hearts tonight ... I really enjoyed the discussions. Be careful what you wish for ... I was wrong ... you ladies can talk! :)

Anyway, I made this yummy dish for the ladies and it's super easy so thought I'd share it with y'all.

It's the most amazing little party snack! Why? Cuz it's tasty {duh!}, but more importantly ... super, duper easy! Yes ... I did, in fact, just say super duper.

Here's what you'll need:
2 cups swiss cheese {which you can purchase shredded}
2 cups coursely chopped sweet onion {very important it's sweet}
2 cups of mayo {real mayo, not the reduced fat stuff!}

Mix, bake at 350 for 40ish minutes and 'ta-da' {Hunter's been saying 'ta-da' about almost everything lately ... warms a mommy's heart} ... you've got yourself a party!

another maternity shoot

Isn't this an awesome photo? One of my favs from yesterday's shoot ... know why? Cuz it reminds me not to be an idiot next time I'm shooting someone's photos!

Check your settings, check your settings, check your settings. I may need to write this on the board 100 times ...

I was SO excited to get this particular pose {I promise to post the real thing as soon as I'm done going through them all ... Miss Aime was patient enough to pose for them all over again} ... that I just started shooting away!

They were beautiful shots ... at least through my lens. I didn't even check my images to see what I was shooting. About 10 photos in, I decided to check and realized ...

D'oh! I'm an idiot! Bear with me world ... I have not yet blossomed.


do something good!

Okay folks ... this is a no brainer!

We're all starting to use recyclable bags, right? {and come on ... if you're not, you should be!} Well, FEED has designed a product that not only helps the earth ... it feeds the world! Genius!

Purchase one of these reusable bags and you'll help feed anywhere from one child to one hundred children in school for one year ... that's incredible! And a must-do if you ask me.

The FEED 100 bag costs only $30.00 ... a very small investment to feed 100 children.

Don't need one for yourself? Give it as a gift ...


my first maternity shoot

Thank you, thank you Ben & Lisa for being so patient and open with me!

Lisa was up for my suggestions and 'just wanted to help me get my portfolio built.' Thank you ... I think these will be perfect for my portfolio.

I ran into some difficulties in Lightroom {like losing all my post-processed files!}, so it took me longer than I had anticipated ... but I'm done ... and ready for bed! Just wanted to quickly post a few of these.

I also posted a few more on my facebook page ... enjoy!