Have you ever prayed so hard for a friend and, rather than work in mysterious ways, the Lord just plops one directly in your path? It’s nice when that happens- isn’t it? I had three- yep THREE –dropped in my path when I desperately needed them most.
My hubby was deployed and I was a very (VERY!) pregnant first-time mama. I had decided to move home with my parents for the first few months of my son’s life until my husband returned. I hadn’t ‘lived’ in New Jersey since high school. Other than my family, I didn’t really stay in close touch with anyone from my hometown. Everyone seemed to have moved, changed, drifted, or just plain left. I was so lonely. Further, most of my friends weren’t moms yet. I was scared, a little overwhelmed, and a lot preoccupied with nursery decorations. I just wanted a fellow mama to walk through life with me.
First came Kaitlyn. I remember clear as day awkwardly staring at her during my first bible study meeting in New Jersey. She looked alarmingly familiar but I was also certain I hadn’t ever met her. Strange thing was, she was looking at me with the same exact expression. After Bible study we got to chatting- turns out that we had mutual friends in high school (different towns) and had seen each other in our friends’ photos/ heard of each other from them. Our due dates were less than a month away – both our firsts! – and um, she was just awesome. Instant friendship. No seriously, we went to the diner immediately afterwards, ate like only women in their third trimester can, and chatted for hours.
We walked through those first months of mama-hood together. The anticipation before the due date. The first days home. All the ‘figuring out’ we didn’t even know we had to figure out. Bouncing ideas, dreams, and concerns off each other. Kaitlyn was there with her three week old newborn walking my I’m-pretty-sure-I’m-in-labor-and-need-to-take-a-brake-at-each-driveway bootie around the block the night before I went in to have Clark.
Then came Tammy. I had seen Tammy and interacted with her briefly before she dropped dinner off for me the week after having Clark. I was exhausted, emotional, and wondering if I was doing this mothering thing all wrong. She brought chicken. And told me she pain-stakingly cut any ‘gross’ parts off of it before cooking it. If any of you know me, that’s basically my love language! She stood in my parents’ entryway for well over an hour, insisting that she “just wanted to stop by!” (I promise I tried to coax her into a chair!), but couldn’t leave because she was too busy bestowing encouragement, laughter, and straight up kindness.
Remember how I said I was exhausted? By that I mean- so tired all I EVER thought about was sleep? So tired I forgot to eat? (And shower??) Well, Tammy (seriously the biggest sweetheart!!) would invite me over. She’d tell me she made lunch. And she’d hold my baby. It may not sound like a lot- but to a, basically, solo parent… it meant EVERYTHING. Tammy was so cheerful, relaxed, and encouraging that my heart couldn’t help but fill each time we spent time together.
Last, and certainly not least, came Christy. Straight up- Christy is waaaaaay too cool to be my friend. Seriously. She is a gorgeous fashionista with the loveliest personality. A heart of gold. And a son the same age as mine. We joked that Clark and Lucas were each other’s ‘first friends’. Two adorable little boys that we entertained in tandem so us mamas could chat about life. Christy always made me feel an odd sense of calm while simultaneously making me believe that my biggest dreams were attainable.
I prayed with these three ladies- for us, our marriages, our children, and the future. I dreamed, planned, laughed, cried, confided in, and just moseyed a day away with each of them. I’m EXTREMELY grateful that the Lord ‘plopped’ them in my life (and quickly into my heart) precisely when I needed them most. Although I’m back in New Jersey and distance makes it harder, I feel a lifelong heart connection to these amazing mamas. These women of the Lord who befriended a stranger and impacted her life for the better <3
My memory of Allie:
One summer night we went to the Lake George drive in movies. We arrived late and had to pull into the very first row of cars and look straight up to see the movie. But the movie we happened to be seeing, War of the Worlds, had aliens flinging cars everywhere and our sitting so close actually made the movie startlingly realistic.
We had run the AC the entire time. Who knew that kills a car battery?? And when it was time to leave - we couldn't. The car next to us said they'd be willing to jump our car but didn't have cables. So we set off on a mission to find jumper cables. Allie, obviously being the outgoing, personable one, bounced from car to car, a smile on her face the whole time. The locals were surprisingly unhelpful. I mean, how could you say 'no' to Allie?!? Finally someone offered some up and we went on our way. During the drive back Allie started laughing realizing that she had phrased the question "Will you jump us?". I was oblivious how at the time that could have been perceived as off-color, but her sudden realization made us laugh the whole drive home. (and helped us forget how we had been temporarily scared of aliens...)
It all started unintentionally.
Wendy and I had stood outside in the parking lot, our monthly creative entrepreneur meet-up having ended hours ago, continuing to pour out our hearts despite the chilly temperature and our freezing fingertips. We stomped our feet side-to-side unwilling to end the conversation and trying to ignore the cold.
I can’t remember who finally suggested what probably seems obvious to you, but one of us finally offered up a “why don’t we go somewhere to chat?”.
Being 10PM in downtown Rochester, I went with ‘safe’ – and we ended up at the Market Café at the East Ave Wegmans. We both realized neither of us had eaten dinner so we scarfed sandwiches while sharing our business fears and dreams, personal heartache, and our many colorful stories of motherhood. It was such a simple idea, but my heart had so desperately needed a ‘mom’s night out’ and so, apparently, had Wendy’s.
Declaring that we needed to do this again, and knowing how things can get swept to the side if they aren’t actually scheduled, we decided that once a month, after our Tuesday’s Together meetup, we would grab a bite to eat and chat about life.
Almost a year (!!!) later, we’ve taste-tested, and enjoyed multiple Rochester restaurants during our Moms’ Night Out. It dawned on us that other mamas looking for a night out could benefit from our previous ‘scouting’
(let’s face it- we mean eating/drinking/enjoying!!)
So we thought we would share our monthly adventure with you (Hey, when you’re a stay at home mama – a night out IS an adventure!) ;)
Full disclosure- Wendy and I have dined here before. The first time we ate outside (anyone else missing warm weather??) It was a quiet Tuesday and we felt relaxed and, dare I say, doted upon. Our Tuesday’s Together group had just finished being filmed by an Irish documentary film crew (for real! You can watch the trailer here) and would you believe we bumped into the group of Irishmen perusing The Old Toad’s menu? I think they missed home(ish) food? I’m pretty sure they felt us grinning at the humor of this because they ended up scooting away from us (We’re lovely…I promise!) and dining at the sushi place next door.
Unlike last time, we went on a Monday- which unbeknownst to us, is trivia night- and it is POPPING! It was such a fun environment- they award prices for both the winner and the loser. We knew virtually none of the answers: who knew Abraham Lincoln was the only president with a US patent?? But loved laughing at our attempts.
Mon-Thurs 11:30am - 12am
Friday 11:30am - 2am
Saturday 12pm - 2am
Sunday 5pm - 12am
Appetizers starting at $5
Entrée’s Under $15
Casual-ish. You could absolutely rock jeans and a sweater, but you wouldn’t feel overdressed in your slightly fancier I-can-actually-wear-this-without-my-kiddos-destroying-this hot mama dress ;)
Food: 4/ 5
We ordered garlic mushrooms and ‘chips’ with cheese and gravy. Go for the garlic mushrooms -sooooooo yummy!! Both were filling, winter food that were perfect to nibble on while we sipped our drinks and chatted. And the chips?? Dip ‘em, yo! The gravy makes it perfect. But, oh is it filling. So, so filling.
Our first visit we both also ordered the corned beef sandwich- very yummy as well!
Further, they offer a great $5 Moscow Mule. How can you go wrong with that?
Both times I’ve been here I’ve had the loveliest British servers. Yes, they are actually British. Not actors hired to talk with British accents (our first waiter told us he’s constantly asked this). This time we had a bubbly waitress who called us ‘love’ and made me want to visit England again immediately.
Fun, cozy, and warm but a touch masculine for a girls’ night. I’d bump it up to 5/5 when you can dine outdoors in warm weather.
Have a fun Rochester location you think we should taste test, photograph and enjoy??
Let us know!
This was a new type of session for me. And to be completely honest, I wasn’t sure if Samantha was messing with me when she first requested it! But after chatting with her a bit on the phone, and getting a feel for her awesome personality, I knew she was the real deal- and I couldn’t wait to make her vision a reality!
When I found out that Samantha had simply googled ‘Victor photographers’ to find me I was stoked. I love that there was something ‘magical’ and fun about my photography that let her know that- yes ma’am- I would LOVE to do a magical unicorn birthday session!! I zipped out for the most FUN prop shopping ever (confetti, glitter, bubbles!) and counted down to our session.
These three ladies were so much fun. I could instantly tell they were way cooler than me ;) Laughing the whole time, and truly seizing the moment, they made this session a BLAST from start to finish! It’s as if I got to cross something off my photography bucket list that I didn’t even know I needed on it!
I hope you enjoy this confetti and glitter filled birthday session. If you ever feel like rounding up your best friends and dreaming up your own birthday session, I would LOVE to help create some magic for you!!
Looking for a magical photography session in the Victor, NY area?
I’d love to chat with you!!
As you probably know, I am a Victor NY newborn photographer who ADORES capturing baby sweetness all around the greater Rochester area. The toes, the curls, the cheeks, the squishy lips- I could forever gush about all the details! Let’s face it, half of my love of newborn photography comes from my absolute adoration of baby snuggles!
What many expecting parents may not realize is the amount of care, study, and precaution Lovebug Photography puts into ensuring baby’s comfort and safety throughout our session. I have spent countless hours researching, learning, and practicing the safest ways to pose and photograph your precious baby. As a mama myself, I view photographing newborn sessions as great honor for many reasons, and your trust in me is the top of that list!
One of the ways I have recently invested in providing the safest experience for you is attending a newborn workshop in NYC hosted by Blissful Baby Workshops. These experienced newborn photographers travel all around the country teaching posing safety and other skills related to creating a wonderful newborn photography experience.
Here’s a sneak at some of the images taken at the workshop. I hope you enjoy! I’m excited to continue to put what I've learned in place for all my future newborn sessions!
Looking for a newborn photographer in the Victor, NY area? Interested in a full-service, boutique experience? Excited to display heirloom-quality artwork throughout your home? I would love to chat with you and dream up your perfect portrait session!
Normally a Rochester area family photographer, it’s so exciting when I get to ‘come home’ to New Jersey and photograph in fresh (yet very familiar!) settings. The park this sweet family was photographed in was actually my neighborhood playground! I love that I was able to photograph my friend’s sweet girls where I used to play as a kiddo. I’m fairly certain I was never dressed as preciously as this duo was, though! It’s no secret this precious family is one of my favorites to photograph. Without getting too mushy (you know I’m notorious!)- I’ll just say they’re the real deal: fun, genuine, kind and loving. A wonderful little family <3
After their family session, mom requested a special first birthday session for Katherine. She is seriously SUCH a doll! Happy and smiley during both sessions. She never fussed once. What a beautiful little sweetheart! She’s a keeper for sure! ;)
If you are looking for a New Jersey family session or a lifestyle newborn session, I may be able to accommodate you! I make several trips down to North Jersey throughout the year and would LOVE to help tell your story!
Send me a message and let’s chat!
I know it’s entirely too cliché to say that I love my job. But there’s no simpler way to put it: I LOVE it. I love capturing families grow in size, whether welcoming first babies or fourth babies. I am immeasurably humbled when a family allows me the beautiful honor of continuing to capture their story. Watching kiddos that I’ve truly come to care about grow up in front of my lens is so thrillingly meaningful to me. Several months ago I began offering in-home lifestyle sessions, and they are rapidly becoming some of my favorite. While I, of course, love a good portrait session at a whimsical location, there is something so personal, intimate and cozy achieved when I am able to document a family in their home. I also love that as the years go by children will be able to see images of themselves in the place they love most. I know they will be simply treasured.
This precious newborn session is of sweet baby Blaire. Her mama and I went through our first pregnancies together and our sons were born within a month of each other. Wyatt has always been a cutie, but watching his pride as he held his baby sister completely melted me! I have been holding off on sharing this sweetness until the Seabury family could send out their (adorable!) Christmas card but I think it’s now officially safe to share! ;) From capturing Blaire in her beautiful nursery, to the surprise appearance from a Ford Model T, your session was so charmingly unique, and I was honored to have captured it. So much love to your beautiful family!!
During the craziness (but awesomeness!!) of my recent St. Jude’s Sessions at Pottery Barn Kids, I found myself with a ten minute break and a cup full of happiness.. I mean Starbucks…
I was aimlessly meandering around the mall embracing the lull when my heart lurched and I felt a jolt. I’d found myself in front of the Free People store. The only time I had ever been in one was with Allie. And I think about her every time I pass it. How she good-humoredly chided me for never having shopped in one before. “Don’t you love their stuff now, though??” I remember she asked me as we headed on to the next store. I actually really did, but thrift-shopping Jessi didn’t think it would ever be in my budget. When my mom stumbled upon a Free People shirt at 80% of at Lord & Taylor (side note: my mother possesses a crazy bargain finding gene. For real.) I texted Allie straight away. And then rocked that awesome shirt until it wore out.
All this to say, Allie is on my mind constantly. I don’t think I will ever stop ‘seeing her’ in my daily life. And I’m glad of that. I'm sorry I've fallen behind on these posts but I want you to know- she is on my heart <3
(read to the end for one of my FAVORITE memories of her)
'My' Youth Group Kids : Matt, Mel + Courtney <3
I’m not your average youth leader. I’m not cool. That’s obvious right?? I’m hyper and goofy and awkward and unathletic and a little bit shy. Not the greatest resume, eh? But I LOVE people, and relationship-building, and pointing kids to the Lord. And thankfully, that’s enough.
When I started as a youth leader at Huntingdon Valley Presbyterian Church I was thoroughly intimidated by my fellow youth leaders who WERE cool. And athletic. And Bold. And and and.. (you get the picture? Haha) The first few Youth Group meetings I awkwardly tried my best to be like the other leaders (this is never a solid choice by the way) and would walk away wishing I were more athletic and bold and and and…
But one day I started to chat with the group of kiddos who were awesome in their goofiness, funnier then you could imagine, and who also (gasp!) hated dodgeball with a fiery passion. (Matt actually once kicked his own cup over to get out of cup dodgeball hahaha!!)
I adored them. Still do. While I eventually built warm relationships with many of the kids, there was a solid group of kiddos that became ‘mine’. (Is that creepy? I don’t mean it creepily. See? I told you I was awkward!!) Of that group a shining trio still stay in touch, they even drive the six hours from Philly to come visit me and my family. They danced at my wedding, snuggled my babes, and made me laugh SO hard every step of the way. I am incredibly grateful the Lord placed them in my life. From New Orleans to Niagara Falls, you all are some of my VERY favorites, I am SO PROUD of the people you are becoming!! <3 <3
One of my favorite memories of Allie was when she convinced me to take her ‘water aerobics class’. Basically it’s when a bunch of older ladies pile in to The Purdy Center pool and dance around. When I asked Allie was structure she follows for leading the class she said “Oh, I just make it up! Watch- they will follow whatever I do!” I kid you not Allie stood at the edge of the pool shouting out random appliances and creating ‘moves’ for them while a pool full of old ladies tried to mimic her. I still remember the ‘typewriter’ where she had them zip sideways across the pool yelling “Ding!” when they got to each side. AND THEY DID IT. They ALL did it. And they LOVED it. Because Allie made it fun. Allie always made it fun.
It’s especially hard typing these funny stories because I can’t tell if I’m crying because I’m still laughing so hard about the memories, or because I’m missing her so bad. Either way I am SO grateful to have had a friend who makes me feel so much. I miss you.
Many may know the three qualities I aim for every portrait session is for it to be warm, playful and authentic. I love capturing children just as they are. Sure, the smiling straight at the camera photos melt my heart. But the smolder? The 'big cheese'? The concentrated explorer? I love those faces, too. Following Simon around the trails, throwing rocks in the river, playing in leaves, and diggging in the river bank- it was just so him. And I'm glad I was able to capture this adorable, redheaded adventurer in his element. So, enjoy the yellow leaves, the autumn glow, and the many faces of Simon ;)
When my student-teaching abroad plans suddenly fell apart (things were getting a little too dicey near the international school I was going to be student teaching at in Kenya), I felt like I had been robbed of one of my ‘great life experiences’. After resurfacing from my sulking I was hit with a scary, basic truth: I had nowhere to live!
Eastern University didn’t offer half-semester housing (understandably) and, even if they did, my roommate had already shuffled rooms so that she wouldn’t be alone once I left. It was too short a time to rent an apartment and too long for a hotel. Plus, let’s face it, I’m not someone who thrives with independent living (AKA: I’m a big ole’ baby).
I decided to put out feelers for a room to rent, and asked the children’s ministry director (I think that was her title! - sorry if I’m misremembering!) who I worked for once a week if she might have any leads. She called me back that day and offered up a room in HER OWN HOME and this remains one of the biggest blessings of my life.
I always loved interacting with Cindy. A woman of the Lord who brightened any room with her glowing smile. And her family? Just as lovely. Cindy and her husband Peter have four daughters but the older two where off at college, so besides brief visits, I mainly got to know Susie and Amy. I was blown away by how welcoming the Eichlings were from the get-go. Their hospitality and graciousness was so genuine and so refreshing.
Even though those few months of student teaching were exhausting and, at times, overwhelming the Eichling home was always a respite. They modeled family devotionals and prayer in ways that I had never seen. Everything about family dinners seemed intentional, relational, and Christ centered. We would listen to Peter read from a devotional book, share how we had purposeful focused on that month’s fruit of the Spirit, and pray for each other. It probably seemed like any every day occurrence to them, but it molded into my heart a vision of what I would like MY future dinner table to look like.
And now at dinner we have a little Preschool devotional we read, and we sing, and intentionally pray, all because they opened my eyes to what family fellowship could look like.
More than just dinner was the patience they modeled in so many situations where I would have been accustomed to... impatience? ;) Their calm demeanor and gentle advice. My heart really felt at rest walking into their home.
There was also such a natural JOY in there home. Quick to celebrate. Quick to encourage. Their priorities were so, so right.
Even though we’ve drifted over the years (but thank goodness for Facebook! ;), I am absolutely convinced God put them in my path at precisely that season of my life. In little ways they have helped shaped the daily structure, and the warmth of my family’s home. Cindy has made a lasting impact on how I mother my children, and how I seek to be generous.
Thank you all for blessing me so greatly. So very thankful you took a chance and opened your home to me.
PS: Thank you for teaching me to play Settlers of Catan. It remains my favorite game and, not to brag, but I’ve gotten pretty awesome at it ;) ;)
For my memory of Allie I wanted to share a photo I stumbled upon in my 2004 scrapbook. This (oh, so flattering) snapshot squeezed at my heart as I recalled us filling out crossword puzzles on the beach. Haha! Oh, man. We were such old souls sometimes, but Allie could turn around and be so goofy the next minute. Next month I’ll share one of my favorite silly moments of her from that summer. She’s still making me smile <3
Every once in a while a client will request a location that just makes my heart SQUEAL!! It's no secret I love sunflowers- they are constantly on my kitchen table, seasonally in my garden (if I can call it a garden??), and even (surprise!!) in my logo. So when this sweet senior requested part of her session take place in a sunflower field I honestly did a little dance.
This natural beauty was so down-to-earth, genuine, and easy going. I enjoyed so much of our time together! I was truly impressed by her violin skills (yes, she actually played for me!) and loved hearing about her future plans and dreams.
Good luck in all you do, Sarah. I know you're going to shine! <3
Behind the Lens:
Jessi lives near Rochester, NY with her handsome hubby and their three 'Lovebugs'.