Hi little ladybug.

A year ago, we were in the final countdown to your birth. Things seemed to be moving along easily and I honestly thought you would be a Christmas baby. I remember singing at church for the Christmas program and we joked that I might go into labor on stage and bring new meaning to “live nativity.” But, just like your brother, you were comfy in there and needed a little assistance to motivate you to come out.

And now, in what seems like a snap of the finger, we’ve been holding you in our arms, kissing your chubby cheeks, and tickling your tummy for 11 months. Oh, how we love and adore you.

Perrin_11_Months_EmilyCrall_Photo_0193.jpgYou’re a complete daddy’s girl. You love him so much and particularly being held by him. You hear the door to the garage open and instantly speed crawl that direction, jabbering “dadadadada”. (You also jabber “mamamamama”, but I’m definitely second fiddle to your daddy.)

You are developing quite an opinion about things and, if you don’t get your way, you have already started throwing baby tantrums, arching your back and crying or balling up your fists and pouting. You particularly love to climb, whether it be stairs or furniture or your brother, and when I stop you, you get especially mad.

A few things I’m especially loving right now:

  • When I lay you down in your bed, especially at night, you immediately roll over and sprawl on your stomach like you’ve just been waiting for this moment.
  • How you easily sit on my hip while I carry you and sometimes act ornery and try to stick your fingers in my mouth.
  • How you point—properly, with your pointer finger—at things that interest you.
  • How you wake up and stand in your crib, staring at the door, waiting for Henry to bust in and say hello. Then immediately try to get away from me when I reach to get you out. You plop down and crawl as fast as you can—which is really quick—to the back of the crib where it’s harder for me to reach you. Then you giggle because this little game of yours is your favorite.
  • How you duck your head to my shoulder when you’re shy.
  • How much you love playing with my childhood doll and what a little mama you are to her. The fact that you’re still a baby yourself makes it all extra adorable.

Just when I think I can’t love you any more than I already do, my heart just keeps bursting a bit more. Parenting is, no doubt, challenging and frustrating and exhausting and overwhelming, but it’s also amazing and confounding and beautiful and astonishing. Nothing in my life has been as fulfilling as being a mother. I have you and your brother to thank for that.

Oh, how I love you. And, in case you ever wonder, nothing—absolutely nothing—will make me love you less.

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I cannot get you to hold still for anything! Thankfully we only have one more photo like this next month because I honestly work up a sweat just trying to get these now!
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Loves: crawling, climbing, getting into Henry’s toys, eating food, having people talk to you/getting attention, “talking”, your pacifier, your brother, trying to touch the TV, your daddy
Wears: 9-12m in clothes, size 4 diapers
Sleeps: 7:30PM-7:30AM + 2 long naps a day
Previously:

We scheduled this session months ago, knowing the it would be after the crash of wedding season and closer to Cortney’s due date. So there was no way of knowing what the weather would be like. We’ve had finicky weather all year (brutally hot when it is normally mild and really cold when it’s normally not), but Saturday morning we woke up to the first snow of the season and it was perfect given that Cortney’s due date is Christmas day!

We had a few locations in mind and went around and around on what to choose, but we finally landed on Kent Park. In part because we knew it would be mostly untouched, fresh snow out there, but also because that’s where I photographed their engagement session! It felt special to go back to the same place to photograph them now, just weeks before holding their daughter in their arms. (I also photographed a night session downtown and their wedding day!)

Going along on couples’ journeys from engagement to marriage is always a beautiful honor, but it’s even more amazing to see them beyond that…to now becoming parents! Cortney and Christian, thank you for letting me be part of your story in my own invisible, behind-the-lens way. I am so so so excited for you to welcome your baby girl and see you guys embrace parenthood!

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Cortttttttneyyyy!!! You are the most gorgeous mama!!!
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Look at this perfect little baby belly.
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My darling Henry,

Four years ago, you took your first breath. You were placed in my arms and you just looked at me, not crying, just taking it all in, this strange journey you had just managed from inside to outside. I loved you from the moment I found out you existed, growing inside of me, but in that moment, untethered of me and your own self-existing human, I loved you more than I ever dreamed possible.

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Of course, as any parent knows, those first few dreamlike moments of meeting your child give way to realities. The helplessness of a crying baby. The exhausting nights and days. The feeding struggles, the constant self-assessment of “am I doing the best thing?” But, also as any parent knows, those newborn realities turn into beautiful moments too. More beautiful than imaginable.

The first smiles. And all the smiles after that. The first giggle. And all the laughter from that moment on. The first “mamamamama” and “dadadadada”. And all the chatter after that. There are so many firsts in a baby’s life, but I’m here, four years in, to give testimony that the firsts aren’t the pinnacle. They are just the start of even better things to come.

The funny things you say now—and, oh, you are hilarious with the stuff you come up with—are ten thousand times better than those first gibberish sounds you made. And that’s saying something because those were amazing. And your giggling now when something really hits your funny bone makes me laugh right along with you. There’s something so pure about your joy.

This past year has flown by in a blur and I attribute that in many ways to the fact that just 6 weeks to the day after your third birthday, you became a big brother. You had stayed overnight on January 1st with your grandpa and grandma and I had cried when we left you there that night. I missed you before we even left. It wasn’t even 24 hours later that I heard your little voice, excitedly, coming down the hospital hall to my room. I had missed you so much, my darling. You came into the room and said, “Are you feeling okay, mama?”

Since Perrin was in the nursery at that point, you and your daddy went to get her. A few minutes later, I heard the nurse wheeling the basinet and you proclaiming to anyone in the hall, “We got a baby!” You were thrilled until you tried to share your animal crackers and we said she couldn’t have them and then you abandoned her.

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Those first few weeks were the hardest. And not for the reasons I expected, having a newborn again and all. I missed spending time with you. I missed being able to hang out with you. Where I used to get excited for your nap time so that I could get stuff done, I now looked forward to her nap times so I could do nothing but play with you or read to you.

We found our way. Perrin grew, as one does, and became less needy. Now, nearly a year later, I’m playing referee on you two as you fight over toys and then, seconds later, fall into fits of giggles over something the other did.

You didn’t leap into being a protective big brother right away—it wasn’t that you didn’t like her, you just also didn’t really care that she was around—but as she started smiling, then rolling, then laughing and crawling and pulling up and climbing and getting into things, you have embraced the role. She just needed to become more interactive for you to understand the dynamic, I think. You’re very much siblings and I won’t sugarcoat it and say that you dote on her, but you do love her, even when she makes you crazy and you fight with each other.

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Becoming a brother very much defined your fourth year of life. But it wasn’t the only thing. You grew leaps and bounds this year and not just physically (you’re so tall now!). You continue to love books, which is, I’m convinced, the source of your fairly advanced vocabulary. You construct sentences I never thought a 3 year old would say. Sometime this past year, I discovered that you can read too. Not full books or anything, but you know tons of sight words and can contribute quite a bit to reading books, even new ones you’ve never read before. (You can also guide me around the grocery store, which is a hoot, by reading the aisle-title words like, “bread”, “cereal”, “baking” “canned goods”. “Okay, mama, let’s see…aisle 7 is where we need to go next to get bread. See? It says ‘bread’ right there.”) And while we still read endless picture books, we’ve also expanded our reading variety to include chapter books. We read through the first 8 books of The Adventures of Sophie Mouse in 3 days.

Of course, one of the biggest changes this past year (aside from the previously mentioned and obvious change in our family size) was that you started preschool. When we went to the meet and greet before school started, you were not having it. Like, you panicked. But that first day of school, you walked right in and that was that. You only go two mornings a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), but you love it so much, you would happily go every day if you could. You ask every morning if today is a school day. It is so fun to watch you learn things. It’s especially fun to hear you sing to yourself new songs that you learned in school as you’re playing.

You have an imaginary friend. His name is Norman. At parent-teacher conference last week, your teacher, Mrs. Winstead, said, “Are you aware Henry has an imaginary friend?” “Oh yes. Is his name Norman?” She just started laughing. Apparently, Norman has joined you in class a few times. He comes with us everywhere. You buckle him in the car beside you. He sometimes sleeps at our house, but also sometimes sleeps at his house, which is apparently nearby. He bikes a lot, sometimes on the interstate going faster than our car. And even though he is invisible to us, he is just as real to you as your stuffed dog, Puppy, is. Both are opinionated, constant companions.

You are still just as much (probably more) into farming as ever. You love watching two YouTube channels: Minnesota Farmer and Big Tractor Power, both large farms that video their field work. You know more about farming machinery than I ever did, but I can now easily have conversations with you about discs and plows and planters and 24- versus 16-row corn heads. But sometimes you still throw me for a loop when you say things like, “Whoa! That’s a classic 89 combine bean head.” I still don’t know if you are making up things or if you know more than we bargained for.

Four years ago our lives changed and I am grateful every day for you. You are fiercely opinionated, exceptionally smart, a little introverted, mostly happy, and always ready for a hug. The world is lucky to have you in it and I am so grateful to be your mama.

I love you so much, Henry Pie.

Mama
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Friday weddings are my favorite. There’s something magical about getting married on a Friday; like the rest of the world is carrying on and you’ve carved out a little nook all your own. So when Diana & Lee hired me for their Friday wedding, I was excited not only because it was a Friday, but because some of my favorite vendors would be there, their color scheme and design style was going to be stunning, and Diana & Lee themselves are so sweet and I knew they’d be so fun to work with.

Their engagement session just a few months ago was hot and humid (and buggy!), but their wedding was a gorgeous fall day with perfect weather. The day started out overcast (which was beautiful for photos!), but the sun came beaming right during their ceremony and cast it’s glorious warm light all over them as they vowed their love to each other.

When Lee proposed to Diana and they started looking for a wedding date, Lee suggested a wedding this fall, which in wedding terms would be a quick engagement season, but he had a point when he told Diana that he loves her and wants to marry her and, well, why wait? They quickly pulled Jennifer of Harper Hadley Events into the planning equation and she took the reins on helping them bring their vision to life. Diana wanted lots of rich, fall colors, but she also wanted to pull in some food elements into the design. Shelly of Shelly Sarver Designs was the perfect choice to make this happen and the incorporation of grapes and pomegranates and pears and apples made each centerpiece a beautiful creation!

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We were on a really tight timeline to start the day so I was extra grateful to be able to split up detail tasks with my second shooter, Summer. We got so much photographed in a short period of time and I had never been so proud of us!
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Diana & Lee shared a first look out at Terry Trueblood Park, where they would later say their vows and dance their first dance. The way they beamed all day long was so heartwarming and beautiful.
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It was so special to have some of Diana’s Ecuadorian heritage incorporated into their wedding, including these scarves for the guests for their outdoor ceremony, the authentic Ecuadorian food (which was so delicious!), and best of all, some of her relatives who made the trip!!

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See how that sun came out???
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Diana’s mom is a master baker and she made all the desserts, including this stunning cake!
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During cocktail hour, we grabbed a few more portraits.
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+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Wedding Coordinator: Harper Hadley Events

Florals: Shelly Sarver Designs

Cake Artist: Cakes by Isabel (the bride’s mom!)

Catering: The Pig & Porter

DJ: Juan Santiago

Makeup & Makeup: Salon Ludic 

Paper Suite: Allegra Iowa City

Bridal Gown: Demetrios Bridal

Maids’ Gowns: David’s Bridal

Suits: Jos. A. Banks

Linens & Chargers: Spielman’s

Venue: The Park Lodge at Terry Trueblood

Reception Venue: 

Oh my darling girl,

You’re getting so close to one year and it’s giving me all the feels. These past ten months have flown by and I’m sad that you’re growing so quickly, while also reveling in all your new developments. You’re my baby and I’m trying to hold onto you as long as I can, even as your chubby legs are starting to get stronger and your tummy is starting to lose the baby fat.

I remember the exact moment when I realized that Henry was growing up. It was when he was much older than you are, probably two or so, and I picked him up and he fit his legs perfectly around my waist as he sat on my hip. And I realized that there would quickly come a day when he wouldn’t fit on my hip anymore. (Spoiler: just yesterday I tried to pick him up so he could see something and he doesn’t fit anymore.) You’re still firmly in the fit-on-my-hip stage and you love being held so you’ll find me or your daddy anywhere, climb up against our legs, and beg to be held.

You have recently started laughing this sort of fake ha-ha-ha laugh. It’s ornery and always makes me laugh. The first time you did it was when we were playing with your stacking cups. The more you could make them crash, the more you’d laugh. I could hardly get three stacked before you’d attack like it was a spider that needed to die. It was endlessly hilarious and fun…for both of us.

You have both bottom front teeth in and your smile is adorable. The top two are working their way in and they’re taking us down with them. There was nearly a full week where you’d just cry. Our normally happy little girl would just wail. The only time you weren’t crying was when you were sleeping and that was often interrupted by you waking up and crying. It was exhausting. To top it off, your nose was a constant faucet and all the wiping made it raw. You developed a little cold too so your voice was hoarse and, girl, it was just a mess. The teeth haven’t come in yet, but you do seem to be feeling better for now and we’re thankful to have you back to yourself again.

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You are a mover. And I mean that quite literally. You can crawl faster than I can run and just last night, you spent 15 minutes rolling around like a crazy person on Henry’s bed while I was reading him a story. The more tangled you’d get, the more fun you thought it was. If you managed to get out from the mess of blankets and covers, you’d just dive face-first back in again. I tried several times to take pictures of you this month and the moment I’d lay you down, you’d roll over and crawl away. When I tried to put you back, you just thought it was a game and would roll over even faster than before. I managed exactly one photo—one—and the only reason I got that one was because I distracted you for 1/200th of a second with one of your stacking cups while I stood up and took the photo. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to grab two more months of these overhead photos…

We’re in November now so it’s that post-fall/pre-winter season where some days are gorgeous and 60 degrees and some days are wintery gloomy and 40. You hate bundling up already and you especially hate being in your carseat. You somehow turn your head and get your hat all crooked so the earflaps are over your eyes then you freak out (appropriately) because you can’t see. We’ve got a lot of winter ahead of us, my darling.

You’re nearly to the point of standing on your own. Every once in a while, you forget to hold onto something and let go, then you teeter, grab on, and balance yourself out again. Your doctor thinks you might be walking before your birthday and I tend to agree.

You’re at such a fun age and I get panicky thinking about how fast you’re growing, like time is just running away from me. October was, as it usually is, a really, really busy month for me with work and so I think that has added to the anxiety because it feels like it all just went so fast, these last 31 days. Here’s to slowing down and taking in the moments.

I love you so much, my darling girl. I cannot imagine a world without you in it. I’m so thankful I have the joy of having my world flipped upside down to be a mother, not just once, but twice over.

I love you, Perrin Lorae.

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Loves: crawling, climbing, getting into Henry’s toys, eating food, having people talk to you/getting attention, “talking”, your pacifier, your brother
Wears: 9-12m in clothes, size 3 diapers (moving into size 4)
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 2 long naps a day
Previously:

They first met in Des Moines last August, when Lindsay and one of her friends were in town for their annual tradition of going to the state fair on Monday. He was a friend of Lindsay’s friend and met up with her (and also Lindsay) for a drink. Lindsay admits that she knew right away he was her one. “I saved his contact info in my phone as ‘Future Husband’ from the very beginning,” she says.

On her birthday, almost a year to the date that they first met, he proposed. Lindsay doesn’t like a lot of attention so Allan, smartly, kept it low-key. He gave her a card that ended with, “to the person I want to spend the rest of my life with” and then he offered up a gorgeous diamond ring and the promise of forever.

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We lucked out with a glorious afternoon and bright sunshine!
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The falls leaves were also right in their peak color and it just makes me so happy to see all this beautiful foliage!!
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