Chea Family | Orange County Fall Mini Session

From our first hello, I could tell this family was filled with so much love. Jenny, you had such a warmth about you and it was so very clear at your fall session that your kids and husband love you very much!

Mini sessions are often perfect for younger kiddos, because they're long enough to get the shots we need, but not too long where we end in total meltdown. The little one from this session did great, and definitely wanted just cuddle time with mommy towards the end. In any case, we were able to get beautiful pictures in a short amount of time... perfect. So not to fear mommas, I can make some magic even if your littles last just a few minutes!

And their outfits... so great! I love when families choose one main color and then have everyone wear various shades of that color along with some neutrals. I love the different shades of blue paired with greys and tans. And the little guy's shoes... they're baby Toms! Ahh! Who doesn't love Toms?

Interested in a fall mini session in Orange County? I have a few spots left in Brea & Orange in October and November!

A Southern California Girl's Guide to Preparing for an Earthquake

To all of my lovely ladies in So Cal:

These past days of watching hurricanes hit our southern friends, an earthquake hit Mexico and wildfires rage across the country have really got me thinking... what if a major earthquake, "the big one" as they call it, hits Southern California? What will I do? Am I ready?

But really... we'll only have a few seconds to decide what to do - there aren't days of "you better evacuate now" warnings for earthquakes. Do you know what you'll do?

If you've grown up in Southern California, you're probably used to the duck & cover earthquake drills we did at school where we hid under our desks and waited until our teachers told us the shaking had stopped. We'd then grab our bag of earthquake food that our parents put together for us and head out to our meeting spot. And that's where the story ended.

But growing up with a dad who is a firefighter, and now that I'm married to a firefighter, I definitely know that's not where the story ends and there ARE some ways we can prepare for the quake itself and the days following.

So now, whether you're a girl who works in an office or from home (like me!), and whether you're living on your own, with roommates, or with your own family, here are a few ways we Southern California girls can get prepared:

  1. Think through "if an earthquake happens now" scenarios and where you'd be and what you'd do in those seconds:
    1. If you're inside, get NEXT TO NOT UNDER a heavy piece of furniture. I know, I know, that's not what we learned growing up. But those spaces next to beds, desks, coffee tables, etc., create void spaces that will protect you from big things that fall. So while you'll still get smaller scrapes from being exposed, you won't get smashed like a pancake if the roof falls on top of the desk. The desk will break the fall, and that void space next to you will save your life.
    2. If you're outside, watch out for things that could fall from buildings next to you (bricks, tiles, etc), power lines or trees that could fall.
    3. If you're driving, don't just slam on your breaks, try to slowly move to the right hand side.
    4. If you're sleeping, roll out of your bed, crouch down next to your bed and put your pillow over your head for extra protection. Keep a flashlight, a pair of shoes, glasses (if you wear them), and a water bottle under your bed so you can grab them easily.
    5. If you're somewhere else in your house, get next to your couch, coffee table or a big piece of furniture and stay away from windows and cabinets.
    6. When the shaking has stopped, put on shoes if you're barefoot (and if you can get to some) so you don't step on shattered glass or items, try to make your way to other people in the house to make sure they're ok, grab your earthquake bag (see below) and then exit the building.
  2. Keep 1 gallon of water (per person/per day) in your house/apartments if you want to be really prepared, or even just a few cases of water will be more than most people have. Buy cases of water bottles and store them inside to prevent the bottles from overheating and releasing toxins into the water. Prep for at least 2 weeks without water.
  3. Put together your own "earthquake bag"
    1. A pair of running shoes + 4 pairs of socks
    2. Any toiletries you can't live without for 2-4 weeks (don't forget pads or tampons)
    3. If you're like me and totally blind, make sure you have extra contacts + contact holder + solution + glasses if you have an old pair you can keep in here
    4. Medications you need for 1 month
    5. 2 sets of clothes + extra underwear (or more clothes if they'll fit in your bag)
    6. First aid kit
    7. Flashlight
    8. Roll of toilet paper
    9. Put all of your items in a backpack or duffel bag so it's easy to carry
    10. If you want to get extra fancy, make two bags - one for under your bed and one for in your car (for if you're away from home)
  4. Have extra dry food in your pantry that you could live on for 2 weeks. This can be canned proteins, fruits, and veggies, (just know what drawer your can opener is in), peanut butter, granola bars, etc. Also! Don't forget food for your pets and babies!!
  5. Learn how to turn off your gas, electricity and water.
    1. If you smell gas, turn off the gas before there's a fire
    2. If you have a water leak, shut off the water at the source (if it's just one toilet, shut it off there)
  6. Pick your "meeting spot" with your family & identify an out-of-state family member/friend to call. Try to plan with either your family if they live close by, or with a group of friends, and choose one spot where everyone will meet after the earthquake. Also identify one friend or family member who lives outside the state that you can call and let know that you're ok. Most likely, county and possibly state phone lines could be down/full, but out-of-area lines will be your next best shot.
  7. Always keep half a tank of gas in your car. As we've seen with the hurricanes, gas can be one of the first resources to go, and you'll want to make sure you have enough gas in your tank to get to your meeting spot.
  8. Have cash in your purse and earthquake bag. If electricity goes out, ATMs won't work and credit cards, well...

I'm sure there are many more things you can do to prepare, but these are the ones I'd really like you to start with :) Share this list with your husband, your friends, and make sure they're prepared too. The big one may or may not come in our lifetime, but I'd rather us all be prepared and ready, and not rely solely on rescue personnel or other people to help. We've got this!

xoxo,
Kristen
 

P.S. This list does apply to guys, too. I really just wanted you ladies to know that YOU can take these steps to be prepared!

P.P.S. I'm not claiming to be an "earthquake preparedness" expert. This list was simply put together by me, my dad and my husband. The American Red Cross has a much more complete list if you'd like to prepare even further.
 

If you implement any of these tips or have a few of your own, I'd love to hear in the comments below!

2017 Fall Mini Sessions in Orange County

Orange County Fall Mini Sessions

I love fall. The crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, the cooler weather, scarves, boots, cozy fires, pine trees... I'll take it all! Even though we're still in pretty warm temperatures, I just know fall will be peeking in soon to say, "Hey there, are you ready for me?" I can't wait.

To celebrate all things fall, we're kicking off the season with fall mini sessions! These are my LOWEST prices of the year and the absolute best deal to get your cute family picture for Christmas cards, or even if you've just been wanting to get in a fun photo shoot with your loved ones.

Fall mini sessions are $225 and include:

  • 20 minute session
  • 15 edited images in online gallery for printing & sharing
  • 10% off printed products (canvases, wood prints, albums, etc.)

MINI SESSIONS:

Sunday, Sept. 24 | Irvine Regional Park, Orange, CA - BOOKED
Sunday, Oct. 1 | Carbon Canyon Park, Brea, CA - BOOKED
Saturday, Nov. 4 | Irvine Regional Park, Orange, CA - BOOKED
Sunday, Nov. 5 | Christmas Tree Farm - BOOKED

Update: Fall mini sessions are fully booked for 2017. I have a few full experience session spots available in November, see details below or join my email list to be the first to hear of mini session offerings in 2018!


FULL SESSION EXPERIENCES:

If you're looking for something more, I am of course offering my signature full session experiences which includes your choice of a date & location, a 1 hour session, all of your images (50+) in an online gallery for ordering & sharing, a USB with all of your images for safe-keeping, and a $20 print credit to purchase beautiful heirloom canvases, albums, wood prints and more. Please reach out if you're interested in learning more about these full session experiences.

I can't wait to be a part of your family's special fall memories!
xoxo,
Kristen

 

Ready to book or have a few questions? Email me and let's get the fun started!

Fall Mini Sessions in Orange County

Our First Little Babe & Our Miscarriage Story

Today we would have been 10 weeks pregnant. Please note the would have been part that I still can't believe is true.

On July 4, a pink and white stick told us we were pregnant. Though, I'm pretty sure I knew a few days before as the pregnancy symptoms I read about were already making their debut.

Kevin and I had been praying for this babe and were so very excited.

Our positive pregnancy test! (Kevin didn't really want me to share this pic, but... I still get two votes, right?)

Our positive pregnancy test! (Kevin didn't really want me to share this pic, but... I still get two votes, right?)

From that moment on, my mind was filled with all things baby. I downloaded multiple baby apps on my phone, calculated that our little love's due date would be March 11, skimmed through long lists of baby names, read up on things to eat, things not to eat, and started thinking of fun ways we'd tell our family and friends our exciting news. I even ordered cookies from my favorite local bakery for our family - little baby onesie cookies with mint green writing that would say, "Auntie," "Uncle," "Gramma," "Grandpa," or "Cousin." 

It's amazing how much you can dream up in just a few short days and weeks.

Everything seemed to be going as it should. The fatigue had kicked in, the nausea was minor, I found myself talking to our baby a few times as I drove about town, Kevin would kiss my pre-bump belly and say, "Hey baby." He even gave me two votes - one for me and one for baby - on which Netflix shows we'd watch and what we'd have for dinner. It was oh so sweet. And I was really starting to enjoy this whole pregnancy thing.

Thursday, July 27 started out like any regular morning. I got up, ate a little something to ward off sneaky nausea, and decided to attempt one of my runs from my training app before I started work. I got about a mile and a half in when I suddenly felt like I was about to pee my pants. I stopped, squatted down, and then realized it felt more like a period sensation... something I should not be feeling. I walked home as quickly as I could and came to find bright red blood all over my underwear (sorry if this is overshare). Something wasn't right.

We were supposed to have our (almost) 8 week ultrasound the very next day - a day we were SO excited about. We were going to see our baby for the first time! I called my doctor and they moved my appointment up so they could see me that afternoon. Kevin came home from work early and we headed to the doctor's office filled with excitement, a little bit of concern, but mostly excitement. I hadn't had any other trouble leading up to this day, so it just had to be a fluke thing, right?

At the office, I filled out the stack of intro paperwork, looked around at the pretty photos of lavender fields hanging on the walls, had my blood pressure taken, peed in a cup. All normal things. The nurse brought us back to a room and chatted casually about how my pregnancy is going, what I do for work, what Kev does for work, what I should stay away from during pregnancy, and that another nurse would be in soon to do the ultrasound.

The next nurse came in and she routinely talked through similar things, just more in depth, and then I told her about the blood. The mood in the room shifted. She then said she wanted me on two weeks pelvic rest - no exercising, no grocery shopping, just rest - and I knew something wasn't quite right. This seemed more serious than some fluke spotting.

She pulled out the ultrasound machine, squeezed that cold blue gel on my belly that I'd always wondered what would feel like, and started rolling the wand around. I had one hand behind my head, the other in Kevin's, and I just kept looking back and forth between the screen and the nurse, hoping she'd tell me what she was seeing. She wasn't saying anything.

"Oh my gosh, why isn't she saying anything!" I thought. I pinched my fingers together to try to distract my tears, and stared at that screen so hard to try to figure out what I was looking at. It was my first ultrasound, after all, and I didn't really know what the different shapes were quite yet.

She took the wand off me, turned to look at us and said, "I don't see a heartbeat."

My heart stopped.

"Is there a baby?" I asked.

"Yes there is a baby. I'd like to try one more way to try to see the heartbeat, just to be sure," she said. So she tried again.

And again she said, "I don't see a heartbeat."

Our babe the size of a blueberry.

Our babe the size of a blueberry.

Everything else after that was pretty much a blur. I held it together long enough for her to say she wanted me to do one more ultrasound at a fancier ultrasound place. That this is very common. That I did nothing wrong. That I could still get pregnant again and have a baby in the future.

And then the tears started.

But I want this baby! Why did this have to happen? I don't want this to be my story. I don't want to be part of the miscarriage club. I want to keep on going with my normal pregnancy, take bump pictures, decorate the nursery, and hold this little baby in March.

The following days we prayed so hard. We prayed that our baby's heart would start to beat. That the doctors were wrong. That God would work a miracle and save our baby.

It was a precious time with Kevin. A time of deep, deep sadness, and yet a time we grew even closer together. Our friends and family filled our home and hearts with sweet flowers, and texts, and gifts, and we were so very thankful.

Oh how I wish this was where miscarriage stories ended. But now we faced the next stage of pain - how my body would actually complete the real "miscarry" part.

Since I had what is called a "missed miscarriage" (which means my body keeps thinking it's pregnant, even though the baby is no longer alive) we saw the doctor again about a week and a half after our first appointment to talk options. Option 1 was to continue to wait and see if my body recognizes what's going on and miscarries on its own, option 2 was to take pills, and option 3 was surgery. Honestly, none of these options are great, and my heart breaks for all of the women and couples who have to face these miscarriage options. They are just horrible, and I am so sorry :(.

Our plan was to wait a few more days and see if my body notices it on its own. That same night, after praying that God would have this happen naturally and quickly and as pain-free as possible, it officially began. I had about 6 hours of cramping and bleeding and passing tissue, and an even more intense 3 hour episode of that the next day. I'll spare you the details, but if you are reading this and going through a miscarriage yourself, please reach out to me and I can share more with you (Vitamin Water, heat pads, music, and someone to be there with you were essential for me).

Today our wonderful doctor (he really is so, so great) confirmed with one last ultrasound that "everything is out." Now hopefully this crazy roller coaster is over and the healing process can begin - both physically and emotionally.

Natalie-necklace

And so, most importantly, to the sweet little babe who made us parents: we love you so very much. It was an honor to carry you, and I hope you're having fun in Heaven with your great grandparents and great uncles. As you peek down on us, your daddy and I hope we can make you proud to be ours. We'll think of you always and can't wait to meet you someday sweet baby.

xoxo,
your mommy & daddy

 

Please note: I share all of this (which is more than I had set out to share) not for pity, but to remember our first sweet baby, to honor that there is LIFE this early in pregnancy, and to help give voice to the experience of miscarriage. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and even though this is so incredibly common, it's still the loss of a life, and sweet mommies and daddies going through this - celebrate your little love, give yourself time to grieve, and lean on each other. My heart is so deeply with you.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
— 2 Corinthians 4 16-18

Cora's First Beach Trip | Corona Del Mar Beach Family Session

I think Corona Del Mar beach sessions might be my new favorite thing.

Some of our best friends came in for a way-too-quick 20 hour stay before they ventured on for the rest of their vacation. They arrived in the afternoon, got settled at our place, and then we headed to Corona Del Mar Beach for an impromptu beach family session to celebrate Cora's first time by the ocean! She was a little unsure about the water and sand, but was a trooper if we held her and I think one day will come to love it.

Kevin and I loved having them in our home, experiencing Cora's first beach trip, witnessing Tara and PJ love each other and love little Cora in such a strong way, and just experiencing so much of Jesus in the way they live. We're missing them so much already, and trying to think of ways to convince these Idaho friends that California is waaaay better. :)

Interested in a having your own Southern California beach family session? Send me a note and let's make it happen!