Hi my little peanut,
We’re inching closer to your birthday than your birth. Can you believe that? In the next few months, you’ll be crawling, and pulling yourself up to things, and walking. You’ll be stealing Henry’s toys even more than you already are. You are enamored with him, swiveling your head around just to find him in the room, keeping your eyes on him always. He is the first to make you smile and the first to distract you from drinking your bottle. (I particularly love when I ask, “Where’s Henry?” and you immediately start looking for him.) He loves you so much and is always helping to entertain you, giving you toys (except the ones he wants, of course), and giving you good night kisses before he turns on your sound machine and throws away your diaper. It’s no wonder you adore him so much.
You started sitting on your own shortly before you turned 6 months old and, I swear, it was only so you could see what is happening around you. You have serious fear-of-missing-out and now you get mad if I lay you down (except for nap time, thankfully, when you roll over and fall asleep). I have a feeling you’ll be quicker to move than Henry was strictly because of your motivation to keep up with him.
You recently started doing this thing where if you get mad or are really tired, you throw yourself backwards, no warning and no hesitation. It’s so alarming and it’s particularly hard if I am carrying you and my other hand is full. So please stop. It cannot be good for your little spine.
You’re transitioning to two naps a day, dropping that third catnap in the early evening, and I forgot how hard this transition is. You’re tired and the evenings are often a power-through to bedtime. We try everything: going outside, taking baths, singing songs, switching out toys. And speaking of toys, your favorite thing to chew on (because teething, ugh!) is a yellow hot wheel car. You pilfered it from Henry one day and it’s since become yours and is constantly covered in saliva.
Speaking of, the drool is constant these days. I have no experience with baby’s getting teeth because Henry didn’t pop his first one until after he was a year old. (Though, for the record, one is definitely still a baby, but moving on…) I can’t feel any teeth coming in, but given your unusual fussiness and drool, I think something’s moving around in those gums of yours.
The summer is winding down—it’s August already!—and though that normally doesn’t mean anything to us since no one is in school in our house, this fall will mean a big change with Henry starting preschool. It’ll just be two mornings a week, but it will be different for all of us. So those will become our times, baby girl. You and me, hanging out.
My sweet girl, I know it could be assumed that I love you, but let me never make you assume that. I love you. I love you so very, very much. You are special. You are unique. You are beloved. It is a joy to be your mother and my heart continuously bursts with overwhelming love and pride. I love you, Perrin.
Loves: music & singing & reading, sitting up, swinging, stroller rides, eating food, having people talk to you/getting attention, “talking”, your pacifier
Wears: 6-9m in clothes, size 3 diapers
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 2 long naps a day
The day of the wedding started out gloomy and cloudy with unseasonably cooler temperatures, a twist from what we are used to in July in Iowa. By noon, the sun was shining and the breeze rustled the leaves on the trees with the temperatures still only rising to a comfortable mid-80s. For a couple who lives in Pheonix, Arizona, I’m sure it felt great.
When we arrived at the Celebration Farm barns, the centerpieces were being arranged, the bridesmaids were snacking on lunch, and the general hustle of a wedding day was just started to pick up pace. Just a few quick hours later, Eva & Aaron pledged their faithfulness, love, and friendship to each other for the rest of their lives. Their ceremony was filled with their overflowing love of Jesus and centered completely on Him. Since Eva’s family attend the same church as us, I knew many of the people there, which is always fun.
Eva & Aaron first met at college in the fall of 2016 and their first date was shortly after. “I remember I really enjoyed being single at the time,” Aaron recalls, “But I knew I’d be the biggest idiot ever to pass up a chance to take this girl on a date. So at this point, we both knew we liked each other and planning that date was something I was admittedly a bit nervous about.” He decided they would go to his favorite restaurant and then meet up with some good friends of theirs to go to a pumpkin patch & corn maze. “The date was great and I was hooked,” he recalled. “My love for singleness was thrown out of the window and I knew that something in me had changed.”
They both knew pretty quickly into their relationship that they were in this forever. Eva says she knew around 6 months in and, ironically, they both said their I-love-yous at the same time. “At the end of June in 2017, I took Eva on a date to a Mexican restaurant and then we walked around a park. It was that day I was going to tell Eva I loved her, but just two minutes before I was going to do so she asked me if I loved her! So of course I started laughing because that just seems to be typical of our relationship. But it was about a month before that when I was sure she was the one. Towards the end of May when Eva was in Iowa and I was back home I knew for certain. We volunteer with the elderly and one elderly lady once told us that distance makes the heart grow farther and that long distance relationships fail. I love that lady, but she is crazy! Ours wasn’t really even long distance since it was only a month apart from one another, but it was during that month that my heart certainly grew fonder and I knew that she was going to be my wife one day.”
And finally that day arrived! Eva & Aaron, I’m so honored to have witnessed the start of your marriage and I wish you all the best as you start this beautiful journey together!
Eva recorded a video message for her dad before their first look. Her sisters, Rachael & Mary, played it for him and there were tears all around.
Meanwhile, Aaron was finishing getting ready to see his bride for the first time that day.
Their joy was absolutely contagious!
After dinner, we snuck back out for a few more minutes of portraits and they were absolutely breathtaking!
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography
Wedding Coordinator: Tweedt Weddings
Venue: The Celebration Farm
Florals: Fountain of Flowers & Gifts
Cake Artist: Teddy Bear Bakery
Catering: Bread Garden Market
DJ: Unique Events of Iowa
Makeup: Maddee Whitehead
Hair: Eden Salon & Spa
Videography: Schwab Videography
Paper Suite: Allegra Iowa City
Bridal Gown: Brides by Jessa
Maids’ Gowns: Sorella Vita from XOXO Bridal
Suits: Men’s Wearhouse
I had vague ideas of photographing this room before Perrin was born, but, lo and behold, she’s 6 months old and I finally took the photos. I’m not mad though because as you will see, because I waited, she is in some of the pictures, which are obviously my favorite.
So for starters, I should say I didn’t do a lot to this room. I had been selective back when I was pregnant with Henry in making this room gender neutral so that it could be used for either boy or girl. I did swap out a few things to up the girly factor, but really, the room was basically ready to go when we moved Henry into his new room last fall. This is what it looked like when it was Henry’s room and, scroll on, to see what it looks like now.
The canvas above the bed was one I made digitally and had it printed. I still love it so much! And that geometric mobile is such a fun art piece hanging over the crib.
I adore (adore) these Sarah Janes prints. Henry had these all memorized when this was his room so when he was done with diaper changes, he would stand up and go counter-clockwise saying, “Be fwendly, be happy, be smawt, be cewius, be patient, be nice!”
We chose this verse for Perrin for her baby dedication.
My mom made this quilt for Perrin and the colors are absolutely perfect. Not just for her room, but for her personality. I love it so much.
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Crib: Hand-me-down/gifted (similar HERE and HERE)
Dresser: Craigslist (we sanded, patched, and painted it)
“Be” wall art prints: SARAH JANE STUDIOS
Picture Frames: Michaels, Target
Canvas art: I created it on the computer then had it printed on canvas
Glider: BEST BRAND TRUDY GLIDER (custom ordered white wood with gray fabric cushions)
Side table: Amazon
Green geometric throw blanket: TJMaxx
Toy basket: LAND OF NOD
Bow shelf with hooks: Amazon
Rug: Rugs USA
Verse print: Custom calligraphy by Kayla Schlabach
Elephant rocker: Gifted to us at a baby shower from our registry (RESTORATION HARDWARE)
“Along Came Polygon” Geometric mobile: Modcloth (out of stock)
Curtains: Custom-made by my mom (I purchased the polka dot fabric from FABRIC.COM and the sheer from WAREHOUSE FABRICS)
Bumper pads & bedskirt: Custom-made by my mom
Door-silencer: Custom-made by my mom (similar here)
Baby quilt: Custom-made by my mom
Paint: Valspar Signature from Lowe’s, Sandstone Gray, #7004-18
We had a trifecta of elements working against us, all of them out of our control: downtown Jazz Fest traffic, construction road closures (including a major bridge between the ceremony and reception venues), and intense heat & summer humidity. But I promised Brooke you wouldn’t see any cranes in the background of her wedding images at Hancher and the spot that I picked for their downtown images was easy enough to shoot around the pedestrians. The heat? Well, we worked fast. At one point, Brandon asked if there was any way to get out of those outdoor photos and I promised him that I would be faster than he imagined. And I think I surprised all of the guys with how quickly I got them back into the air-conditioning.
I hope that looking back on the day, no one remembers the heat or the uncomfortable shoes or the tight timeline to get everything done. I hope all you see is the beauty of a perfect day for the beginning of a marriage. Brooke and Brandon have been a joy to work with; both filled with such fun and laughter and Brandon especially cracking jokes from start to end.
When Brooke describes Brandon, she says she admires “how hard of a worker he is and how he can just befriend everyone he talks to.” She also said that he is positive, energetic, and dedicated. He said he admires “her drive towards being a teacher and helping kids learn” and that she is caring, loving, fun and adventurous, and persistent. In the short time I got to know them both, I would complete agree!
Back before their engagement session, I had asked them both what they looked forward to most about their wedding day. Brooke said, “I’m looking forward to celebrating with all of our closest friends and family. Also, I’m excited to get to start our new life together and become Mrs. Smalley!” Brandon added that he was also excited to be “celebrating with friends and family about finding the perfect partner and combining our lives together for the best future!” And truly, it was such a joyous celebration that I believe their wishes came true.
Brooke & Brandon chose not to see each other before the wedding, but they did want to exchange letters so they did a “first touch” outside the church. It was a tender moment that had them both in happy tears.
The u-shape of First United Methodist Church lends itself to the most beautiful photos. It also provides really great access to photograph different perspectives fairly unobtrusively.
My absolute favorite thing about these exit photos–which I didn’t even notice until I was editing them later–is both of Brooke’s grandmas beaming at them as they came out of the church.
Brooke was living her Cinderella dream all day. She looked like a princess.
You’d laugh if you knew the struggle we had with this stunning veil. I love long veils and they are usually so easy to photograph, but the wind was working against us so much during all of these pictures. I was determined to get at least ONE photo showcasing her gorgeous veil–and I did–but we had to work pretty hard to get it!
This cake was just as delicious as it looks. I joked that I chose my profession based on the cake, but, really, it is an excellent perk of the job.
It was getting dark quickly, but we ran back outside to grab some evening photos (the sun had already dipped so we missed “sunset”, but just look at these and you’ll know why I’m not even a little mad about it)!
It was the weekend before July 4th and Brooke and Brandon decided to surprise their guests with a fireworks show! I had never photographed a couple with fireworks before–and told them that beforehand–but I did my research and ended up getting a great assist from the videographers and I love the images I was able to get!
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography
Videography: The Vine Productions
Florals: Every Blooming’ Thing
Cake Artist: Tip Top Cakes
Catering: University Catering
DJ: Unique Events
Makeup: Melissa Banes
Hair: Eden Salon & Spa
Paper Suite: Allegra
Bridal Gown: Casablanca from White Willow Bridal
Maids’ Gowns: Bill Levkoff from XOXO Bridal
Ceremony Venue: First United Methodist Church
Reception Venue: Hancher Auditorium
My darling girl,
A few nights ago, we were busy and you missed your late afternoon catnap, the one that gets you through the evening until bedtime. You were so tired and grumpy that I finally just rocked you, trying to hold you off until bedtime. But you fell asleep in my arms, cuddled so close to me that our breaths mixed, your face tucked into the curve of my neck. If there is anything perfect in this world, that was it.
There’s a lot of ugliness in our world and I won’t burden your sweet, young soul with the details, but not a moment goes by that I don’t think of how lucky I am to be with you. To have you in my arms. To watch you giggle at Henry. To tuck you in every night. To kiss your chubby cheeks a thousand times a day. To tickle your tummy. To hold your innocent gaze. (And by the way, locking eyes with a baby is another perfection in this world. Adults don’t lock eyes anymore; we somehow become self-conscious to hold a gaze for too long, but babies don’t have that self-consciousness yet and I can get lost in the depths of your eyes.) To see your beaming smile when I wake you up from a nap.
You are my child, a brand new person who started your life inside my own body, and to know your absolute trust in me takes me breath away. You have no fears. You have no doubts in my abilities to care for you. You have unwavering faith that I’ll get you from your bed, that I’ll feed you, that I’ll change your diaper, that I’ll sing to you and talk to you and hold you and play with you. You trust me with absolution. One of my biggest fears in life is breaking that trust, even non-intentionally. To have something happen to prevent me from being able to meet your needs and be with you. I say all this because that ugliness I mentioned? It’s my worst nightmare happening to other loving parents. And the events that are playing out in history right now make me all the more aware of every blessed moment I have with you and Henry. When I say I’m lucky, I know how true that is. I don’t take a moment of it for granted.
I read this recently in a book, “There’s just something about daughters. From the very beginning, I felt a rush of wisdom that I wanted to impart to her about womanhood: how to be brave, how to build real confidence, and fake it when you have to, how to respect yourself without taking yourself too seriously, how to love yourself or at least try to and never stop trying, how to decide who opinion to value and whose to disregard quietly, how to believe if yourself even when others don’t.” (from What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton) That paragraph resonated so deeply with me that I returned the iPad ebook to the library and bought the hardcover just so I could highlight the physical pages.
You’ve just recently started sitting on your own. You still have some spills when you get excited or tired from sitting too long, but you’re getting visibly stronger every day. We have reached this magical, unicorn stage of babyhood where you can independently sit, but you can’t yet get anywhere. We have a very limited time before the baby gate will need to go up and Henry will have to put his small toys out of reach. (I can imagine how mad he’s going to get the first time—or several times—that you get into his stuff.)
I can’t believe how fast time is going and I’m not just saying that in cliche mom-talk. You’re eating food like a ravenous girl (like, you will aggressively try to pull the spoon if I’m not getting to your mouth quickly enough), you are learning how to drink from a sippy cup (how are you old enough for this?), you are sitting up, you’re funny and adorable and interactive and incredibly curious about what everyone around you is doing, mostly Henry. Your smiles are bright and big for your daddy. You have moved from the carseat-in-the-stroller to just sitting in the stroller like a little girl. You can sit in a baby swing now and you love it! You are so cuddly and not just because you are squishy (you do have the most amazing rolls!). You are cuddly in that you actually love to snuggle close. You like to take my face in both your hands and then just head butt me to get your head tucked against mine so that my lips are lined up with the top of your head, perfect for kissing. You giggle when I kiss your cheeks and neck and then snuggle back in for more. (Similarly, when Henry’s in a snuggly mood, he asks for “nineteen four twenty” kisses, a number whose origin I don’t know, but it’s consistent every time. “Nineteen four twenty”.) In so many ways, the things that I had been looking forward to—longing for—back when you were first born are already here. Bam. You’re a half a year old and when we do the same amount of time again, you’ll be walking.
What a joy to be your mama. What a great responsibility—and I mean that not as big, but as wonderful—to have your trust in me to provide for your needs, to be there for you always. The way you look at me is filled with pure, undiluted love and I echo that right back to you. “There’s just something about daughters…”
I love you with abandon.
This smile…it’s the most angelic whole-face smile I’ve ever seen.
Arts Fest downtown…
…and Tractorcade with Grandpa
My friend saw this picture and said, “She looks at you like you are absolutely the only thing she loves in the entire world.” <3
Loves: your jumperoo, music & singing & reading, sitting up, swinging, stroller rides, eating food, having people talk to you/getting attention, “talking”, your pacifier, being in just your diaper
Wears: 3-6m in clothes, moving into 6-9m, size 3 diapers
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 3 naps a day (two long ones and one shorter one in the late afternoon)
They, quite literally, ran into each other a few years ago. They both were out on the town–Bryan with his brother and Caroline with her friends–on a summer evening. “It was a busy night and it was difficult to maneuver through the crowd and the big goof that I am ran into Caroline…or maybe we ran into each other. I forget what I said, but it was enough to get a laugh out of her,” Bryan says.
Caroline fills in that she had been waiting forever at the bar to get drinks and when she finally had them, she “swung around and ran into tall scruffy man. He smelled amazing and my eyes were level with his pearl snaps. I looked up and noticed his kind blue eyes right away. He said something funny and I laughed.” They exchanged numbers and he soon realized that the number she gave was legit and “we haven’t stopped talking to each other ever since.”
Shortly after their first run in, they went on their first official date. They spent hours talking and laughing and then, when it was time to leave, they walked to the parking lot together. “[We] stood outside my car,” Caroline says. “And I was perfectly prepared for him to give me a good night kiss. Bryan pulled me close and lightly kissed me on the forehead and that is when I knew he was different, special.”
Thirteen months later, Bryan proposed to her. “I had just gotten through a two-week process of picking out the band and the diamond. I am a very eager person and when I want to get something done, I try to accomplish my goal quickly. So, the day after I pick up the ring I made arrangements to go pick out our Christmas tree together. The whole way there, I made my best effort to be engaged in our conversation and also think through what I was going to say. When we parked the car I made an excuse to get back into the cab of the truck to ‘get my gloves.'”
“Bryan said, ‘Caroline come here.’ I impatiently said, ‘whaaat?’ He pulls me close and said ‘I love you.’ I said, ‘I know! Let’s go!’ and I grab his hand and pull him towards the rows of trees. He swings me back towards him and that’s when I see him lower to one knee. ‘Oh my gosh, it is happening,’ I think to myself,” Caroline says.
“I then called her back to the truck and I just spoke from my heart and told her I love her and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I got down on one knee and after the tears and excitement settled down she said yes.”
It’s always most interesting to me to find out what a couple most loves and respects about the other. Caroline says, “His heart, he is so patient and kind. His ability to forgive his a great reminder for me. You can tell this just by looking into his blue eyes.”
“Her smile and her devotion to not only her work but her love for the children she teaches,” Bryan says. “She has so much passion that it carries through to my life. I would just be a lump on a log if she didn’t push me to be better and I really respect her for doing that for me.”
It was so quickly evident to me how much Caroline and Bryan love to laugh together and they were so much fun to photograph because they just oozed joy!
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