They met in college; both were in leadership positions which meant helping students move in was mandatory. “She was an RA checking in her students and I was carrying their belongings up the stairs. … The next time I heard Eva’s name was when an acquaintance of mine mention her,” Aaron said.

“Our first date was October 15th. I remember I really enjoyed being single at the time, 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.”

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When asked how she knew he was the one, Eva said, “I knew probably 6 months after we started dating. I was in his room waiting for him to be done with basketball practice that was going long. I was so excited to see him even though I had seen him a few hours before! I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life waiting for him to get home!”

Aaron said he knew last spring. “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, I knew for certain. We volunteer with the elderly and one elderly woman once told us that distance names 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 grew fonder and I knew she was going to be wife one day.”

Though they live in Arizona, Eva grew up in Iowa and they are getting married here this summer. They were back for a short trip over the weekend and I loved getting the chance to meet them (and some of their family!) in person and photograph them. I am so looking forward to their wedding and I know it’s going to be a day filled with joy, Christ-centered love, and Eva’s gorgeous beaming smile.Spring_Farm_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_1084.jpg
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Aaron proposed towards the end of January. “It was difficult for me to keep it a secret for so long because I was dying to ask her. I had her father’s blessing and the ring on December 21st and I wanted to ask right away, but decided to wait for the right time. My plan was to go to Payson, AZ with a small group of some of our closest friends from our Bible study. We were going to go to Tonto Natural Bridge, which was one of our first dates and that was the day I asked her to be my girlfriend. On that date, we went on a little hike and eventually got to the beautiful view of the natural bridge where we took one of our first pictures together. It was in that spot that she thought I was going to ask her to be my girlfriend, but instead I did it later on as we were hammocking. I wanted that same spot we took the picture to be the place I proposed.

“The trip was all planned and when we got back, there was going to be a house full of about 30 of our closest friends waiting for us for a little engagement party. The morning came and we were all loading up in the van when we looked up Tonto Natural Bridge online. It was a beautiful 60 degrees and sunny day in Payson so I was excited. Unexpectedly, we saw on their website that the trails were closed due to icing. I was certainly not expecting this so after having a quick two seconds of panicking, I remembered that champions adjust and I found an alternate place. I decided on Horton Creek in Payson, but I didn’t know the exact spot I would propose. The group I was with knew the signal was when I asked one of them to take a picture of us. That entire hike I was frantically searching for the spot I would do it while trying to remain nonchalant. I knew our time table for the party had also been thrown off too, but luckily I don’t really get stressed out about things so it was all good.

“I passed a number of places that I thought could be the spot and after about an hour of hiking, I suggested that we turn around and start to head back. I was looking for one of the places I had noted in my mind as a good spot. I was also just anxious at this point so I found the first spot I could after we turned around and [proposed]. She was surprised (which I was hoping for), and she also didn’t really know what to do. The moment I told her I wanted to say something to her, she knew and just buried her face in my chest while I talked to her. I then stepped back and got on one knee. I have never been happier in my life than I was in that moment. I was on a knee for a while as she kept saying that she thought it was all a joke. I joke around a lot, but I told her proposing is one thing I will never joke with her about. The rest of the day was amazing as we headed back and joined all of our friends waiting for us back home.”

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My darling girl,

I knew it would happen like this; the longer you’re here, the more I love you. The first weeks were hard—really hard—and there were times when I loved you, but didn’t really like you. Love is like cement though; malleable and a little sticky at first, but absolutely permanent once it sets. And it is long set by now, sweet girl.

You’ve started smiling and cooing and, as I predicted, your smile is beautiful. I’m just so excited to hear more and more of your voice and see your personality shine.

Perrin_2Months_EmilyCrall_Photo_0085.jpgWe moved you from sleeping in your rock-n-play to your crib at 7 weeks. I was really nervous about the transition, but, exactly like your brother back in the day, you swapped over without even seeming to notice. We also switched you from your weighted swaddle to a zip-up swaddle (because you kept getting your arms out of the swaddle) and that too went much smoother than I had thought. Sometimes the things I’m most nervous about are the easiest and the things I don’t even consider being an issue end up being the hardest.

You are my little gym buddy and I’ve been lugging you along to my HIIT classes since you were 2 weeks old. It’s conveniently timed during your nap so you mostly just sleep in your carseat though you occasionally need it to be rocked or jostled a bit. You’ll be able to go to the child care room once you’re three months old and I hope you’ll do okay with that. Your brother will be there too and I’m sure he’ll keep any eye on you.

Speaking of Henry, he’s grown to love you. When you were first born, he was very much uninterested and even dejectedly said once, “Ohhhh. She’s still here.” Now he loves to go with me to get you up and clambers up the side of your crib to lean over you and say, “Good morning, Perrin! Did you sleep good?” When you’re laying on the play mat, he constantly goes over to talk to you (right in your face, always!) and check on you. Just a few days ago, I was in the kitchen, you were on your play mat in the living room, and Henry was bouncing between the two, telling me, “Mama, I’m just going to check on Perrin.” He’s sweet and protective and all of that has happened in the last several weeks. Just a couple days ago, he wanted to help feed you your bottle and he also requested to take a picture with you, both were firsts for him. He will continue to be the best big brother and I can’t wait until you start laughing at his antics because it will just send him into high gear to make you so happy.

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Perrin_2Months_EmilyCrall_Photo_0089.jpgSleep has become really good. At five weeks, you shocked us by going almost 9 hours one night (you slept from 10 PM to 6:45 AM!), but then you dropped back to consistently going 5-6 hour stretches, waking once a night, usually around 3:30. But at seven weeks old, you surprised us again and started sleeping all night (10 PM to 7:30 AM). You must be competitive because when I mentioned last month that your brother slept all night starting at 12 weeks, you kicked it into high gear to beat him. Thank you for that. (Though I still wake up around 3:30 AM to phantom crying in my head…and then I have trouble going back to sleep, thinking you’ll wake up any minute.) There were 4 nights of all-night stretches and I’m not sure if it’ll stick or if you’ll go back and forth between an all-nighter and a wake-up, but if you do wake up, once you’re fed, you go back to sleep.

This week has brought some warmer temperatures so we’ve spent afternoons outside, going on long walks to the park. I wear you in the Tula carrier and put Henry in the stroller and off we go. The bouncing of my walking puts you right to sleep. The fresh air has been good for all of us, especially since Henry got a cough last weekend and I’m trying desperately to keep you from picking it up.

As much as I’ve been counting down to 3 months, I’m also shocked at how fast time is actually going. I’m glad for it at this stage, but once we hit that magical time post newborn stage, I know I’m going to be like, “Stop. Now it’s time to slow down.” But it doesn’t. It never does. So I’m just soaking up the cuddles and the way you loop your arms around my neck when I carry you and your soft little cheek against mine when I rock you. You’re my favorite little girl and you always will be.

I love you to the moon and beyond, my sweet baby.

Mama

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Weighs: 10 pounds, 2 ounces
Loves: your play mat, music, being held upright, having people talk to you
Wears: 0-3m in clothes, size 1 diapers
Sleeping: all night most of the time (!), with an occasional early-morning feed (usually sometime between 3:30-5); bedtime at 7 PM with a dreamfeed bottle at 10 PM and sleeps until 7:30 AM
Previously:

This was how almost all of the photos turned out. You weren’t in the mood.
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And this is the one where Henry wanted to jump in with you. You’re not so sure about it.
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Real mom life:
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I first met Christina back in high school. You know how most people are a little embarrassed about their high school selves? Like, we’ve all improved since then, right? Well, what I remember about Christina is how funny, caring, and selfless she was. Her smile was magnetic and her personality was all-inclusive and warm. She needed no improvement; she was a rare find in a sea of typical high schoolers. Fast forward all these years later and I am feeling so honored to get to photograph her in this season of her life, where all those beautiful, sweet, funny, warm traits are meshed so perfectly with Cam’s that they are just pure joy to be around. Witnessing and documenting their love makes me smile so big. You’ll see why when you keep scrolling down. Fossil_Gorge_Winter_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0980.jpg

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After having met online and spending a few weeks in contact email and texting conversations, they met for sushi. “I just thought it so sweet that we both arrived early and he waited at the front door to greet me with a ginormous smile and a friendly hug,” she says. After a little mishap with the appetizer order, they spent the evening hanging out, talking the whole time. “I had a blast with [him] and wasn’t sure if it was too good to be true.”

Cam recalls knowing very early on, “like within the first couple of dates”, that she was the one, but she was still a little hesitant. “He waited patiently and it sure paid off for both of us! He’s my love and life long partner!” Even during the dating stage, things moved so naturally and effortlessly between them and just a couple of months into their relationship, Christina also realized this was the one she’d spend her life loving.

When asked what he admires most about her, he says, “She is a lady of faith, integrity, and honor. I can always count on her and she is everything I look for in a lady. She has the biggest heart. She is extremely intelligent and gifted, yet humble and empathetic towards others. She is lovely.”
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She had been suspicious of a pending proposal a few times, but knew it would happen at the right time. So when she planned a birthday trip for Cam to La Crosse, Wisconsin for their Rotary Lights show (because she loves Christmas lights!), she wasn’t initially suspecting anything, even though he kept dropping hints throughout the week leading up to it. But she was finally clued in when she asked him if she should get her nails done and he simply said, “Yep, thank you for figuring it out.”

“Friday morning December 15, I was antsy to just get engaged so we could relax and enjoy the day! God is so good though, right? I was reminded that in due time it would happen and sitting back, patiently, waiting and enjoying the moments would be far better than anything else,” Christina says.

“We stopped in Decorah, Iowa and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the drive. The Rotary Lights are apparently a huge deal, so we were lucky to arrive before traffic thickened up. Cam was hoping to drive over to Grandad Bluff and stop at this dive bar, Apine Inn, before the light show. We would have been stuck in traffic, so we sipped a drink at the hotel bar instead. Alpine Inn got bumped to possibly before or after dinner.

“Fast forward to the horse-drawn carriage through the Rotary Lights. I wondered if he’d propose then knowing the ring box had to be burning a hole in his pocket (likely, although I never did a pocket check).

“Cam requested we go to Alpine Inn before dinner. At this point, I realized we were about to get engaged. Being a go-with-the-flo guy, Cam doesn’t usually request much. We drove right by the Aline Inn and up to the top of Grandad Bluff. We were all alone up there, overlooking the city. It had started to flurry, the beautiful kind of snowflakes that keep their unique shape on your eyelashes and coat. Cam talked about our mutual love for God and creation/nature. He said a few more nice things of which I can’t quite remember. It’s crazy, even knowing the proposal was coming, it’s hard to remember alllll the details! The ring was so sparkly and huge! Holy smokes, he outdid himself! Cam even worked with the jeweler to design the ring. It seriously seemed to glow in the dark! Surreal– the ring, on my finger, my finger?! I was officially getting engaged to marry my love and best friend, Cam! What a lovely night!

“We stopped at Alpine Inn for fried pickles and sips of champagne (the bartender couldn’t believe we just got engaged!) and we called our parents and siblings.

We parked the car at the hotel and walked in the freshly falling snow to dinner 7 blocks from our hotel. The hostess seated us in a love seat (how perfect!!!). I wasn’t even hungry, just so excited! We shared a delicious dinner, seared tuna on cous cous with raisins and roasted veggies. In all the excitement Cam shared about our engagement, and they served us a delicious piece of chocolate cake with a candle. My cheeks hurts so much from smiling and laughing! What could honestly be better?!”

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They are just a little over 2 months away from their wedding day and I am so excitedly looking forward to spending the day celebrating their love and commitment to each other! Christina & Cam, you guys are a true joy to be around!
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Hi my sweet girl,

It’s been a whole month, 31 days, since you were first placed in my arms, screaming like your world was ending. In a way, I guess it was. Everything that you knew, all the warm, cozy, whooshing sound of my womb, was instantly replaced with cold, naked, bright, and foreign. You were born in a whirlwind, one moment I was resting in the hospital bed and 5 minutes later, you were in my arms. You’ve been taking us for a roller coaster ride ever since.

I’d be lying if I said this past month has been easy. In some ways, I was more prepared for this stage than I ever was with Henry (because there’s nothing that can prepare you for that first time newborn experience), but in other ways, I realize I had blocked a lot of my memories of the first weeks with him because they were just so hard. So while I rest assured that I know it gets easier this time (I truly thought at one point with your brother that the rest of my life would be like that; I felt hopeless), I am also making it through one day at a time thinking, “Wait, you’re only 4 weeks old? How can we speed this up?” I know we will make it, but, girl, the making it is really hard sometimes.

I hear others saying they just want to slow time down and bottle up this newborn-ness and I’m over here like, “No thanks. Let’s move along, please.” And I’ve realized that it’s okay for me to feel that way. I felt so much guilt with Henry about the newborn stage and truly thought I wasn’t cut out to be a mother because of it. But then he got bigger and it got better and better and better and I realized that it’s okay for me to have a stage of my children’s lives that I’m not good at. I know I’m not good at having a newborn, but I also know that I am good at having a 4 month old. So I keep pushing on, doing the very best I can with you (rocking, bouncing, feeding, shushing, singing, burping, #allthenewbornthings) because I know my thriving days are coming. They are just up ahead.

One of the biggest struggles that I didn’t know how to prepare for is the balancing of two kids. Your brother is 3, very independent by your standards, but also very much needing me still for daily life. And you are 1 month so absolutely dependent for everything. Being so needed is both an honor and a weighted load. Some days I want to just crawl into bed and hide under the covers and hope that no one will find me. And then other days, I’m up and ready to tackle whatever hits us. I am constantly looking around at other parents with 2+ kids and saying, “Look at them. They’re doing it. If they can do it, we can too.” Because that comparison is my only encouragement on the hardest days. Seeing others thriving (or, at the very least, surviving) makes me feel like I can too.

Now, all of this talk is so heavy. I wish I could just talk about unicorns and rainbows and cuddles. But I feel the responsibility to be honest and so this is my honesty.

Amidst all of the difficulties of taking care of a baby, you must know, my darling, that you’re so loved. My struggles as a mother during this stage of your life are no reflection of you. I realized with Henry that I’m not that great during the first few months, but I hit my stride later on and then there’s no stopping me. And while I am so desperately looking forward to hitting that stride with you too, I am in the meantime, loving you with all that I have.

You are perfect. You are a miracle. And the fact that you are ours astonishes me. How did I get so lucky to not only get one child, but two? Not just Henry, but you too?

In this first month, we’ve started establishing a routine. You eat every 2.5-3 hours during the day and, at night, you will go as long as 4.5 hours between eating. It seems like you’re sort of all in or all out as far as good nights go. Either you’ll eat and go right back to sleep at every feeding or you’ll eat and then struggle for an hour to fall back asleep. There’s no mediocre with you. And while I don’t try to compare you with your brother, I’m just here to tell you, he was a 12-hour sleeper by 12 weeks so, you know, if you’d like to be competitive about it, I’m on board.

You are a good eater now that I gave up breastfeeding and instead pump and give you bottles. The first few weeks we struggled with a lot of things. Sometimes you’d eat like a champion and then sometimes you’d fight the entire time. It was exhausting and draining in a way I can’t even describe, made even more so with another child to also take care of. Somehow you gained a lot of weight though and you were already a pound over your birth weight by 2 weeks. You are now 8 pounds, 7 ounces!

Your cheeks are getting chunkier (oh, the sweetest little cheeks to kiss!) and you’re slowly starting to fill out those twiggy little legs and arms. I hope you get little rolls soon. You’re still in newborn clothes, but I know in the next month, you’ll be advancing to a new wardrobe.

Just like you have good and bad nights, you also have good and bad days. The good days are so wonderful. They are the breath of fresh air that I need. The bad days are no fun, but I am constantly reminding myself that you are so new to this world and it’s totally normal for you to be overwhelmed so I’m trying to give myself the same grace that I give you. We will conquer this vast world together, my child.

You’re growing and changing and I’m checking off the dates on the calendar just as quickly as they come, but I’m also trying to lock away some of the little memories that I love, like the way you stretch your arms overhead and arch your back when I unwrap your swaddle. Your little eyes squeeze shut and you scrunch your forehead into little wrinkles and squeak as you reach. I love how you tuck your knees up into your chest and snuggle your head under my chin when you’re falling asleep. I love how peaceful you are when you’re sleeping. I’m convinced that sleeping babies are God’s way of saying, “You’ve got this.”

My darling girl, I am so grateful I get to be your mama. I am excitedly looking forward to all of our adventures together, especially knowing ours will be so different than the ones I have with your brother. Knowing I have gotten two unique gifts makes me want to cry with gratitude. I longed for you my whole life. And now to have you…it’s the most overwhelming challenge and wonderful adventure that I’ll ever face.

I love you, baby girl. I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Mama

Weighs: 8 pounds, 7 ounces
Loves: not a whole lot right now except eating and being bounced
Wears: Newborn in clothes, size newborn diapers
Sleeping: Just starting sleeping 4 (occasionally 4.5) hour stretches at night; we’re all happy about it

Taking pictures is not for the faint of heart; there was a lot of this going on the whole time, with Henry also insisting on taking his own photos. 

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With a little baby on the way, we needed to get Henry moved out of his nursery and the transition has been strangely easy; far easier than we ever expected! His new room was our old guest room and we decided to get rid of the full size mattress and get him a twin size bed instead. Since I’m always trying to organize and create more space, I was on the hunt for a bed with some storage. Thankfully, I found the perfect solution at IKEA! (I linked everything at the bottom of this post!)

I moved some stuff over from his nursery, like the rug, but I’m keeping the nursery mostly the same with a few girly updates (more coming on that room soon) so Henry got some fun new surprises and he was so excited to move to his “big boy room”.

My mom helped me repaint the room. It was a beautiful turquoise color before, but I wanted something light and neutral for Henry. I went with the same light gray color that I had used in the nursery a few years ago so that was easy. As with the rest of our entire house, we used Valspar paint. I linked the exact shade at the bottom. It’s the perfect neutral gray; not too green and not too blue. Little_Boy_Room_EmilyCrall_Photo_0961.jpg

I found this adorable “scenic route” fabric online and once I was finally able to track it down on an Etsy shop (lucky, because now I can’t find it anywhere!), I made some wall art simply by wrapping it around a large piece of foam board and hot gluing it in place. Since it was just fabric + foam board, I could use 4 straight pins to attach it to the wall, making minimal holes! I had gotten enough fabric so that my mom could make a new pillow cover for that large, oblong pillow to match (that pillow was originally in a cute black embroidered case on the bed here). When Henry goes to bed, we put that pillow along the wall so that he has a sort of bumper pad and doesn’t hit the wall while he’s sleeping. He loves cozying up to it as well as hunting for objects in the pattern, like the little squirrels, birds, bikes on trailers, campers, and beavers. He pilfered that yellow pillow from the couch in the living room.
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This custom calligraphy print has the verse we chose for Henry’s baby dedication at church. And that gray wheel cart is from Target. It currently houses some miscellaneous things, like his sound machine, diffuser, some toys, and an array of pull-ups and overnight diapers for this potty training phase of life.  Little_Boy_Room_EmilyCrall_Photo_0963.jpg

I loved the bookcase that we got for his nursery several years ago so much that I got another one for this room too. It’s the perfect size for smaller rooms, tall, but also narrow.
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While I was taking pictures of his room, he kept popping in to check up on me and then he decided he needed to read some books on his bed. I wish I could say I posed him like this, but anyone with a 3-year-old knows how impossible that would be. Since he was just minding his own business and looking all adorable, I decided I didn’t mind him being there so I didn’t kick him out. 🙂

The curtains are blackout curtains I grabbed on Amazon. I didn’t think they’d actually work; blackout curtains tend to never truly “black out”, but I was really surprised at how great they are! I highly recommend them. This kind of curved rod helps too as well as hanging them much higher than the window itself.
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I wanted a way to hang up some of Henry’s art so I grabbed this curtain rod. I debated between this one and these, but ultimately went with this one for no reason other than it was cheap and I can cram lots of paper onto it.

That backpack was a gift when he was a baby and that shadow box has one of his newborn onesies, his hospital tag, and his newborn footprints.
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The bedding is all from Target. I grabbed the plus sign sheets specifically for his room, but the gray blanket on top of his bed was sheer luck, as it was one I had on hand to use for lounging. I got the idea of buying twin size blankets from a past bride, who said the length of the twin size blankets (as opposed to normal throws) was so much cozier and I realized she was totally right! So I had grabbed this gray blanket and a few others over the years. It ended up working perfectly for Henry’s room!
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Lastly, I got those fan knob pulls several years ago at Lowe’s and they are the most genius pulls ever, mostly because the chains are the same length so it was always impossible to remember which one was for the fan and which one was for the light. These are cute, but also fully functional!
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Bedframe & storage drawers: IKEA
Armoire: Craiglist, but originally from IKEA
Cloud wall lamp: IKEA
Beanbag chair: Target
Picture Frame: Target
Verse Calligraphy: Custom by Kayla Schlabach
Wall art fabric: “Scenic Route” fabric by Riley Blake Designs from ParkTextiles
Plus Sign sheets: Target
Gray blanket: Target (no longer available, but similar style here
Gray rolling cart: Target
Bookshelf: IKEA 
Rug: West Elm 
Art hanger: IKEA from Amazon
Wall hook peg rail: Amazon
Blackout curtains: Nicetown from Amazon
Wraparound curtain rods: Urbanest from Amazon
Fan pull chain: Lowe’s (also available on Amazon
Paint: Valspar Signature from Lowe’s, Sandstone Gray, #7004-18

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Last year was the first year I offered mini sessions, mostly because I had a lot of past bridal couples who were begging for family photos now that they had gotten married and were starting families of their own. Fall snuck up on me this year and the weather was slightly trickier; it went from summer-hot to winter-cold without much of a mild autumn in between. We had to reschedule some sessions due to the weather, but I was so glad to be able to photograph these lovely families!

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