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March 1, 2019

Greta and I first met in prenatal yoga when we were pregnant with our sons. She gave birth exactly a month before I did and we ran into each other at the hospital during those joyous newborn days of desperately needing lactation advice and constantly worrying that our children weren’t going to grow because they possibly might not be eating enough. (We were the epitome of first time moms, but, hey, we were indeed first time moms!) We quickly bonded over not just our shared life experiences in the newborn trenches, but the fact that we both like to be outside, work out, stretch our artistic muscles (her and her husband are both amazing artists!!), and are constantly trying to balance work life with parenting. We also happen to live less than a mile from each other and frequent the same park so, needless to say, we spent many, many days pushing strollers while doing laps and talking. (It should also be noted that since we both have brown wavy hair and bangs, our boys used to often get us confused and would hug the wrong pair of legs.)

I got to photograph this family two years ago and one of the things that constantly sticks out to me when I photograph them is how laid back they are. Their interactions are genuine and fun, and neither John nor Greta have ever tried to stick their son in a box (figuratively, of course) and force him to hold still and smile for the camera. And while, as a parent, we all want “just one good photo” of our family, my personal favorites, especially of the Martinek family, are the ones where they are just playing and letting their then-3 year old son BE a 3 year old boy.

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February 28, 2019

This adorable family is growing! These photos were so fun because little Kane was such a ham for the camera. He’s soon going to be a big brother (!!) so the Albers family used this session for some cute announcement photos. Kane was a big fan of the little football they brought along, which was great because he ended up with the best expressions so long as he could have his football. And look at those cheeks. I mean, seriously.

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February 27, 2019

This family is so special to me. Katy, the lone female of the group, is one of my best friends and we work out together nearly every day with the rest of our best friends. (It’s a totally ideal situation really.) Her youngest son, Noah, is the same age as my son, Henry, so between playing together at the gym while we work out and having play dates together, they are also great friends. When I opened up slots for fall family sessions, the Campbells were one of the first to sign up and I knew I was going to love giving them some updated family photos.

Katy gave me all kinds of warnings beforehand–you know, how moms do–but they all turned out to be completely irrelevant because the boys were angels! She later claimed they have never been so well-behaved, but I absolutely don’t believe her. I mean, case in point:

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Angels. Look at that brotherly love!

The weather was so fickle that weekend, but I’m happy to report that I managed to get every single session done and everyone looks decently comfortable despite the sweeping cold air that blew in. At one point, I remember jumping in my car in between two of the back-to-back sessions and blasting my heat to try to stop chattering. But, as I often say at weddings, if you can smile, relax your shoulders, and unclench your fists, your photos will not betray how cold or hot you were!

And look! I’m completely correct.
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January 18, 2019

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

It was Memorial Day weekend several years ago. They both happened to go to the same local restaurant to hang out on the outdoor patio and enjoy the spring air. They were each there with their own groups of friends, but, as luck would have it, there were mutual connections in their separate groups and it wasn’t long before they all combined into one big group. Catie & Justin immediately connected after being introduced since they are both teachers and had both decided to take a year off. “Our conversation quickly turned to our love of languages and our love of travel. Fate would make it that both just so happened to be taking a sabbatical from our teaching careers and were going to travel for a year. I was going to California and Catie was going to France. We shared our excitement but also our fears about moving away from home and living somewhere new.” 

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Their first date was about a week later. Since school was out, they were in a unique situation of having an entire summer free before packing and moving away. “Normally that is not ideal circumstances to start dating someone new who will end up being the love of your life,” Justin says. “But it worked out great for us! I knew Catie was the one sometime that first summer. We clicked immediately. I wanted to spend all of my time with her. I had initially planned to move to California in August, but decided to stay and wait until Catie left for France. I wanted to shorten the time we were going to be apart. When I decided to move to California, I didn’t know when I would come back to Iowa. However, I remember late July that summer I decided I was coming back to Iowa when Catie came back.”

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January 2, 2019

FILED IN: Personal

Happy birthday, my darling girl!

When you were placed in my arms, you weighed just over 6 pounds. You retain your nickname of “Peanut” with you weight hovering around 18 pounds while your height is a full 10 inches taller.

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In comparison to your brother, my pregnancy with you was easy. Hardly any sickness. Hardly any acid reflux. I was able to work out the entire way through (most memorably working out the morning of your due date when you still hadn’t appeared). And when you still weren’t here by the new year, we left Henry at your grandparents’ house and went in early in the morning on January 2nd for me to be induced.

Birthing you was, dare I say, also easy. In part because I’d already gone through induction before so I knew what to expect and I knew to get my epidural early this time. So at 10:00 AM when my nurse came in to start pitocin, the anesthesiologist also came in to get my epidural going. I ended up only having about 10 minutes of severe contractions before the epidural was in place and kicked in, which was sheer relief in comparison to what I was anticipating.

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December 31, 2018

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

It was just two weeks after they first met that Austin says he knew Maria was the one. “I knew I loved her after a week. And when she sticks around after that, I knew she wasn’t going anywhere. Every day after that, she has shown me more and more how she’s the best person for me and we are meant to be together.”

As for Maria, she doesn’t pinpoint a date, but says it was a lot of little things that added up. “How he’d pack my lunches and leave little notes insides. How well we agreed on big things like our values and how we would want to raise kids. How well he supported me when I was upset. A big thing for us is how well we communicate; so I think how well we work through disagreements or difficult times in our relationship has made us both very confident that we’ve each found the one.”

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Austin proposed nearly two years to the day after their first date. He was planning on proposing while they were Texas, but Maria had absolutely no clue. He had told her, “I’m not going to do it in Texas” and, because he’s so practical and she figured he’d worry about losing the ring during traveling, she definitely believed him. About that, she was right. “I was a nervous wreck,” Austin says.

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