:: 2017 :: The Year of Growing Pains & Baby Stains (Part 1)

I went back and read our past years’ posts ( 2011, 2012201320142015 and 2016) because they are such good reminders of what we’ve gone through and how far we’ve come since we took our business officially full time all those years ago! I still can’t believe how long it has been and all the changes we’ve gone through since then. I remember my goal was to make it past the 5 year mark because you always hear that a majority of small businesses fail within the first 5 years – so getting past that point last year where we had been supporting ourselves solely on our photography business (and making it to 7 years this summer!) feels like a big milestone for us – and doing it while caring for tiny twin babies was a whole other accomplishment all together! haha!

As James and I sat down together to look back at 2017 – the title for the post was the first thing James suggested (well, at least the growing pains part – the baby stains idea was all me. haha). The reason behind the title was because James and I went through a lot of growing pains together as we continued to adjust to life with kids while running our business together this past year. (If you read this post recently – you’re probably aware of that already!) I think part of it was because our expectations for some of this past year didn’t meet up with our reality – so that was where the growing pains came in. I think we thought that once the boys were a year old and out of the total “baby” stage – that we’d suddenly have more time for ourselves again or that they’d be sleeping like angels and our life would feel more “normal” again. ha! The truth is – none of that happened and in actuality – toddlers require just as much time/attention (if not MORE) than tiny babies (just in different ways) and so life was really about constantly growing and adjusting this past year. James and I struggled at times to feel connected amid the chaos of juggling all our responsibilities and while trying to maintain some sense of self as well. And like many people out there – when we start to get frustrated with one another and feel distant – we just tend to push each other away and distance ourselves even more. It took a conscious effort of us sitting down to talk things through and figure out what adjustments we needed to make to get to the GROWING part of the GROWING PAINS. You know what I mean? The good news is that we got there and that things slowed down in our business just in time for us to really refocus our energy on getting our marriage and life back on track – thank goodness!!

Oh – and of course – this year was also full of lots of baby stains (as you saw in the title). haha. The amount of food these two eat (and also get all over their clothes, the furniture, cabinets, carpet and car) is kind of unbelievable!! haha. We thought dogs were messy – but they don’t have anything on babies/toddlers – so you know I had to include that! (Plus I love a good rhyme! ;-))

Anyway – when I was preparing to write this post I looked back on last year’s post and was reminded that my word for 2017 was PRESENCE. To be honest, after a few months I actually forgot that I had a word at all – though in retrospect I feel like I did a pretty good job of staying in line with it (maybe subconsciously?!). Certainly there were times I struggled because we were SO insanely busy with work during our fall season, but even in those times I was so much more conscious of spending any time I had with the boys by being mentally & physically WITH the boys.

Since they were older we were more able to get out of the house (i.e. not napping what felt like ALL DAY long) – so we started going on many more adventures in the city and I made it kind of my personal mission to show them ALL. THE. THINGS. Maybe it was a kind of selfish thing in reality – because I love to live vicariously through their excitement over the newness of things… the first time putting their toes in the sand, riding down the big slide, seeing sharks swim by them at the aquarium… all of it – I just live for it! I can’t get enough of their reactions and the look of wonder on their little faces. It truly is the best thing.

Also, looking back on all we did with the boys this year – it’s funny for me to think back on the old pre-baby version of myself. The one who tended to get overwhelmingly anxious before wedding days and had to sleep in all morning on a big work day to get as much rest as possible, and could do literally NOTHING else but prep for the wedding the day before because I was so wound up about it all. Now that we have the boys – our days start so early every day. And so on some later start wedding days we even manage a trip to the park or Farmer’s Market in the early morning before coming home for naps and getting ready for work! I never in a million years would have imagined I would manage any of that all before a full day of work – but I love that it is our reality now, and love that we get so much time with Gabe and Micah before we leave for work!

And I have to say – being more consciously present with them in the moments I had with them, also helped ease any guilt I used to have about needing to be away from them for work. Choosing to be grateful for our business and the life it has afforded us rather than feel it is ever taking away from our family has made such a difference! I mean – we get to raise our boys together EVERY DAY and do what we love!! Having that mentality this past year helped me to be fully present when I was out shooting or in meetings… emailing clients, or even just crunching numbers for our monthly budget. I’m so thankful for what we get to do for a living – to be inspired by the love around us and to be witnesses to love stories every single weekend is truly an honor I cannot even begin to explain!!

From a business perspective – this year was a quieter year wedding-wise for us with just 22 weddings, but we shot significantly more regular sessions to make up for it and balance things out – with almost 100 other sessions filling our calendar, including 4 different mini session dates booked to the brim, and getting back to hosting our workshops again. This year was also in a lot of ways about getting back on track with our business postpartum. It felt like last year we were just managing to maintain things and doing our best to make it through the year… so it was nice in 2017 to feel like we were growing, building, and most importantly – dreaming again! I was worried for a minute there that those days were over, but I’m so glad I got a little more sleep and a little more brainpower/focus back in 2017 too! 😉

Anyway – after looking back at this past year it seemed easy to come to a conclusion about what our word for 2018 would be…


I don’t know why – but that was the first word to come to my mind and it really just stuck. We have so many hopes/dreams we’ve been talking about and I’d like to take this year to actually focus on them – whether they are business or personal! I also was to focus on the people in my life… give more to my family, friends, and to James. Amid that I’d also like to focus more on my health – mental & physical and taking the time I need to thrive and be the best mama, wife, and business owner I can be. Now that my pregnancy brain has hopefully gotten back to normal – I’m hoping for a year ahead spent focusing on what is important and letting the rest roll off my shoulders. 🙂

Here’s to a beautiful year ahead, but not before we look back at what 2017 held for us!!

  • We kicked off the year with lots of family time (with these two dudes who turned 10 months old that month) and enjoyed a very quiet January after one crazy busy first year with babies & a full-time business!!
  • Uncle Josh came in to visit from Oregon and the boys tested their limits with climbing, walking and generally always just trying to injure themselves!! haha


  • We kicked off the month with me driving solo to have a girls’ (plus babies) weekend in Indianapolis!


  • Then immediately upon arriving home we were hit with the norovirus and it was completely as awful as you would imagine with babies!! (Below are ALL photos from that time… lots of only wearing pjs (& constantly changing them because of blow-outs), one nasty rash Micah got at the end, lots of cuddles and rest…. and the one photo of James and I looking happy is from when it was finally OVER!!!!)


  • Other than that – we had some sessions, enjoyed unseasonably warm weather, Gabie took his FIRST STEPS!!! – and I hosted my first workshop back post-babies all while these two turned 11 months old. 🙂


  • March was a big month around here because the boys turned ONE!!!!


  • As you can tell – the rest of March was a lot of goofing off and enjoying the remainder of our “quiet time” before wedding season kicked off in April … including lots of chasing babies and cleaning up their messes! 🙂


  • I also spent my first weekend away from the boys celebrating my sister’s 40th birthday enjoying a spa weekend at The Abbey Resort in WI!!


  • April brought the start of wedding season, 10 years since James and I met (!!!), warmer weather, our flowers blooming (highlight of spring!), a floral workshop with my good friend, Erin, and getting outside as much as possible! (Let’s just not even talk about how this April has mostly been cold weather and snow! Ah!)


  • It also included Easter spent in Wisconsin, and a little perspective as we enjoyed a crazy lunch out with our boys when I realized it was a full circle moment for us.



  • May rolled around with it’s usual excitement – chock full of holidays over here…. Mother’s Day’s, James’ birthday and our wedding anniversary!!
  • We had a low key day for James’ birthday – celebrating by hanging out at home and ordering Thai food!

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  • I also started to panic a bit because our year wasn’t filling up like it normally does work-wise and I swallowed my pride and posted about my feelings of paranoia while trying to remain present in our day to day life. Thankfully, it didn’t take my long to find a Fresh Perspective on it all and remember how blessed we are to have the one gift we always prayed for finally – to be parents!

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  • We rang in 8 years of marriage together by having a date day in which we drank too many margaritas. (We can’t quite hang like we used to be able too! haha)

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  • We spent Memorial Day weekend in Madison with family and friends!! The boys had their first cheese curds and other important Madison/Wisconsin milestones! haha 🙂

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  • And most importantly to me right now – the flowers in our yard looked like THIS!!! These photos are giving me life right now and reminding me that spring will come – SOME DAY! haha 🙂 (Oh and Chloe – just because she’s a dork. :))

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  • June was a quiet month from a wedding perspective, so we once again enjoyed lots of family time when the weather was actually nice enough to enjoy for a change!! Hey-O! 🙂
  • From a life perspective – June was the month the boys were constantly trying to kill themselves by climbing ALL THE THINGS. Seriously so many bruises on their faces at all times, I swear! haha And James and I realized that proposal shoots make for a really good excuse for a date night after (we already have a babysitter)! And looking back this is reminding me what I used to feed them too – just giant bowls of fruit and yogurt for breakfast?! We need to get back to this! YUM. Also – more flowers and beer and family time… oh, and totally crazy fuzzy-topped heads. haha. Solid month, if you ask me! 😉

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  • We celebrated father’s day by waking James up with a card and sneak attack! And we threw our annual client party – which I only managed to take two photos at!! haha

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  • Last but not least, we went on our first family trip and the boys’ first flight!! We flew to Virginia so the boys could meet their great grandmother for the first time. 🙂 We stayed at a beef/cattle farm airbnb in the middle of nowhere and it was magical.

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This post got so long I decided to make it a two-parter!! Blame it on the insane amount of photos we take of these two! haha 🙂 Here is the link to PART TWO of 2017!!!


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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!