Thursday, February 20, 2014

To our Avary Grace, on your 7th birthday... | A personal post

Dear Avary,

It seems nearly impossible that you are 7.  There are moments when I can almost feel the squirm of you, my last baby, dancing in my belly.  And in such recent memories you were nuzzling up to my neck, your warm and sweet milky breath on my skin as your body rose and fell in deep sleep.  It feels as if it was just yesterday that I was watching you splash in the tub, your plump little legs kicking, as your laughter and the smell of lavender filled the room.  My baby girl, you will truly always be our baby...the angel girl that was an unexpected completion to our family.  But 7 feels so far removed from the baby days and your Daddy and I are watching you grow from baby to beauty.

I see so much of your Daddy in you--all his best qualities.  You are fierce and determined, passionate and creative.  You can charm just about anyone and love spontaneity and fun.  I admire how fearless and energetic you are and how willing you are to try new and different things.  Your strength never ceases to amaze me and it is why I worry so much less about you than I once thought I would.  I smile when I see the joy you get from helping others, and the love you show to everyone around you makes my heart soar!

And oh, you are my girl, too.  Sensitive and meticulous...always wanting things to be just right.  I'll never forget watching you furiously erasing an answer you had gotten wrong on a kindergarten paper, tears streaming down your face.  "Mommy, I missed one."  I've seen you let go a little, and I'm thankful. You've even gently reminded me at times, "Mommy, things don't have to be perfect."  Don't lose the drive for excellence, but show yourself grace.  (And I promise to try to do the same.)

Secretly, I miss the days when you wrote your Rs and 3s backward and yet, seeing you learn has been an incredible gift.  Hearing you read beautifully and watching you solve difficult math problems, blows me away!  You are smart.  Don't ever be ashamed of that.  But also remember that it isn't your beauty or your brains that truly define you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe and He defines you as a masterpiece...someone worth giving His life for.  That is where true worth is found.

Even though you are 7, some things haven't changed.  You still love to cuddle.  Music still soothes and quiets you at night.  You still love bubble baths and footie pjs.  Your smile still melts all the boys in the house, and you still love for me to read to you at night.  Daddy is still your hero.  I'm so grateful that those things haven't changed.  I kind of think (and hope) they never will.

7 feels like the big time to me.  And I get this sense that I should close this with some wish or hope for your future.  But ultimately, I'm just grateful for who you are right now, today.  I'm inspired by your faith in Jesus, your love and your enthusiasm for life.  And I'm grateful for another year to watch you grow.  Oh how thankful I am to be your mommy.  I love you to the moon and back!


Friday, February 7, 2014

LBR | Part Two: Newborn Session

Sweet little Liam's newborn session was one of my favorites to date.  I love photographing brand new babies in the comfort of their own home.  There is something so special about it and everyone just seems more at ease.  This session took place in the same room as Lauren's maternity pics.

I first started photographing Mike and Lauren when they were newly engaged and it's been so fun to watch their love {and now their family} grow and to be able to document it in photos!  Liam is an absolute doll and I will be seeing him again soon for his 6 month session.  (That gives you an idea of how behind I am on blogging!)

And just one more for the cowboys fans out there. :)

See you soon, Robinson family!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Year to Come | A Semi-Personal Post :)

Since it's February, it's probably time I post this "new year" blog, huh?  I've had this saved in my drafts for about a month now but just couldn't finish it.  I kept changing it and second guessing it and over analyzing.  I do this frequently which is probably why I get so behind on my blog!  But it's time.  So here it is...a "what's to come" post with some personal stuff sprinkled in.

When I started this business, almost 4 years ago, I had a couple of goals in mind.  The first was to pursue a personal passion and to have a creative outlet. I had been a stay at home mom (who had side jobs) for almost 9 years.  It was so good for me to step out and overcome fear, to do something that I loved.  The second goal was to bless my family financially.  I knew I needed to bring in some money and this was a way to do that without getting a 9-5 job that took me away during the day when my kids were still home. The idea was that this little business could be a great blessing to my family.

{Thanks to my dear friend Lauren (Lauren Gay Photography) for these photos}

Fast forward to fall of 2012.  I was more than 2 years into the business and things were hoppin'!  "Busy" became my answer anytime someone asked me how things were going.  That answer was really an understatement.  I was working ridiculous hours, away from my family every weekend and experiencing serious burn out.  One night I had a major breakdown.  {Picture a major ugly cry here.}  Those original goals I started with (pursuing a creative passion and blessing my family) were no longer in sight.  I was merely surviving!  I knew something had to change, but I wasn't sure what.  At that time I had ideas of how to make things better, but I never put a plan together and so 2013 looked a lot like 2012 and this past November, I found myself experiencing the same burn out once again.  (They call doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, insanity.  I was insane!)

So as this year began it was time for me to make some lists--what I was doing right, what I was doing wrong, goals and steps to make those goals reality.  I read a lot of other photographer's year end and year beginning reviews and gleaned thoughts and ideas.  I talked to my husband about what I wanted the year to look like.  He is, and always has been, my greatest supporter.  Then I spoke to my amazing friend Lauren, who has been at this longer than me.  On the way to a wedding in Maryland she gave me great advice and told me things I needed to hear.  (Side bar: I am forever grateful to Lauren for her friendship and the wisdom she's shared with me.  She has been an incredible mentor, and, as you can see above, she has also blessed us with beautiful family photos! I love you, Lauren!  End of side bar.)  And  I prayed.  I prayed for wisdom and clarity and decisiveness.  And the word that kept coming to my mind was SIMPLICITY.  Over and over again that theme kept coming back to me.  I knew then that I was ready to sit down and make a plan.  Honestly, I've debated on whether or not anyone is truly interested in this story, but I feel like putting these thoughts out there holds me accountable to them.  And if this can be helpful to anyone else who is trying to find or maintain balance in their work/family life, then I'm glad I shared!

2014 is going to look much different than the past two years.  I am determined that 1)  my business will be a blessing, not a burden, to my family.  (I heard this phrase...or read it...somewhere else.  I can't remember where and so I can't give proper credit, but if you know who said it let me know so I can quote them!)  and 2) my business will honor God by serving my clients with excellence.  Those sound great, right?  I mean easy that I have those things in mind I'm golden.  :)  Not quite.  I knew that with these two goals in mind, I had to come up with some steps to maintain balance.  I won't bore you with the long list, but I want to hit some high points.

First, I'm going to be working less.  Period.  I am finding incredible joy in this slow season and I'm realizing that the sessions I'm doing now feel more exciting and I'm finding my creativity again.  Trying to slam a billion sessions into a week drains me physically and also creatively.  In order to bless my family and give an excellent product to my clients, I have to limit the number of sessions I take on.  This means saying no, which is incredibly hard for me.  It also means I've raised my pricing a bit.  (A terrifying leap for me!)  But friends, I was making less than minimum wage when I really did the math.  Even when you love your job that just isn't acceptable.  And it meant taking on way too many sessions in order to meet our budget needs.  I still feel that my pricing makes sense and is reasonable for most people and I hope my clients will stick with me.  Fewer sessions means receiving your photos faster (if I can get my butt to the post office!) and receiving a better quality product.  (I'm also working on upgrading my gear, which makes for better photos as well!)  This also means, I'll be scheduling further in advance. Taking only a couple of sessions per week (even in the fall) means I'll fill up quickly.  I will also be offering more mini session dates this year, for those of you who just want a new family photo for the wall or something to use for a Christmas card. :)

Second, I'm going to be limiting my weddings.  I LOVED my brides and grooms in 2013 but all of them got married within a couple months of each other...okay, not all of them but most of them.  And it happened to be in the fall when I was also incredibly busy with family sessions.  This year I am only taking one wedding a month, or if I happen to take two, I will not take a wedding the month after.  This will help me to get my couples' photos back to them far sooner and will help me to not feel overwhelmed with editing. This also keeps me from being away from my family too many weekends in a row.

Third, I will be teaching workshops this year!  I hosted my first in January and had a blast!  I love teaching people how to use their cameras and get the best possible photos of their families.  I'm hosting the DSLR basics workshop in my home.  (The next is March 8th and there are still 2 spots available!)  I'll also be offering a follow up workshop in the Spring as a stepping stone from the basics class.  I see a big future in this and I'm pretty glad to be using my teaching degree alongside my love of photography!

I think that's probably as much as any of you really want to know right now. :)  If you haven't already, check out my website.  (  It's updated for the first time in a long time.  And keep checking back for more blogs.  I'm determined to keep up this year!

And to end, a salute to 2013 with a few of my favorite iphone photos.  If you don't already, follow me on instagram! (mistydrodda)  (My phone is my most used camera!)  Blessings to all of you in 2014!

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