1.29.2016

Oh Hi Friday

puerto vallarta mexico



Hello, weekend. I'm so happy to see you! Last weekend, The Husband was out of town for four days for a work conference and it was just me and little Rico holding down the fort. It was exhausting and basically required the whole week for me to recover! It also gave me a whole new appreciation for single parents like my mother who were holding down the fort on the daily all by themselves. This weekend, not only is The Husband sticking around but my MIL is also coming up to give us time off from parenting for a day-date! We haven't had time together just the two of us since our anniversary in September and we are both looking forward to it. When I set my personal and professional priorities for 2016, more "just the two of us" dates was high on my list and this is hopefully just the first of many this year. We're not doing anything super exciting - just a movie and lunch - but it's amazing how something that would otherwise make for a bland, typical weekend a year ago is now considered bold and adventurous!

And Sunday brings yet another adventure because I'm finally getting my hair cut - another thing that hasn't happened since September. I'm thinking about playing with color, too, and that has me super nervous. In a good way, but still nervous. I haven't colored my hair since my sophomore year of college! Should be fun ... I hope. Follow along on Instagram if you want to see the results. Assuming my hair doesn't all fall out from the shock of finally getting attention.

What do you have planned for the weekend?

xo

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1.27.2016

Just Say Yes

new years goals
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A few years ago --8 to be exact-- I gave myself a little challenge. It was the summer after my first year of law school and my first summer living in California. I wanted to fully explore my new state, enjoy my new law school friends, and do things my introverted risk-averse self might otherwise be inclined to avoid. So I made it my summer of yes. In fact, my motto from June to September was "Just Say Yes" and it served me well. I had a camping adventure with friends, I tried lots of new restaurants, explored tons of majestic hiking trails, attended a few outdoor concerts, made random road trips just because, and probably the most significant yes - accepted an invitation to hang out and have dinner with a friend who eventually became my boyfriend, then my fiance, then my husband, then the father of my sweet little son. All because I decided to just say yes to whatever opportunities came along.

When you open yourself up to everything, anything becomes possible.

But recently, I've found myself saying no a lot. No to business ideas that scare me, no to outings that sound just too challenging with a baby, no to spending time on myself, no to anything that breaks from my normal, safe routine. And you know what I've learned from that? It takes a lot more energy to say no than to say yes. So times they are a-changin' for 2016. This year, I'm going to Just Say Yes.

Now, sometimes saying no is saying yes. Saying no to obligations that drain me in order to spend time doing those things that sustain me is a perfect example of that. I won't be cliff-diving anytime soon, either, because I'm not crazy and I do believe in prioritizing health and wellbeing. But! I am opening myself up to accept pretty much whatever the universe decides to throw at me this year. I welcome it. I embrace it. I'm saying yes to all of it. Even those things that scare the crap out of me. I'm no longer viewing them as obstacles but, rather, opportunities.

What's the difference between overcoming an obstacle and celebrating an opportunity?

Trick question because they're one and the same! I've come to realize that obstacles are nothing more than opportunities in disguise. Opportunities to grow, learn, explore, develop something new, and improve a weakness all masked as obstacles that seem to be blocking our paths when really they're just redirecting us to an alternate route. The only real difference between the two is perspective and approach.

So this year, I'm trying a new perspective and a different approach. I'm choosing the path of openness and positivity and saying yes to 2016. Yes to new adventures, new endeavors, new risks, and new challenges. Yes to time for myself and time with my family. Yes to new friends and new experiences with the old. Yes to new business ideas that make me uneasy but speak to my heart. Yes to accepting myself and letting go of negative thoughts. Yes to building a life full of love and joy and yes to celebrating the everyday.

If three months of saying yes can lead me to my awesome husband and sweet little family, just imagine what a full year of yes could do.

xo

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1.19.2016

American Jewish University Wedding | Sivan & Daniel

"romantic outdoor wedding reception"
So this is one of those weddings from the archives (it was featured last year in Modern Jewish Wedding magazine!) but I thought it'd be fun to take a look back at Sivan & Daniel's Southern California wedding. They recently celebrated the birth of their beautiful baby girl and knowing that these photos will be shared with her someday, and probably with her children even, gives me the warm fuzzies inside. Wedding photos truly are a family heirloom and are so worth the investment to create something you and your spouse will treasure for a lifetime. The Husband's great-aunt (who is celebrating her 90th birthday next week!) showed me photos from her wedding day not too long ago. She was reminiscing about the whole photo process and even though her wedding was over 65 years ago, she remembered it so clearly. It cost about $100 for twelve photos, she said, and they had to go to the photographer's studio for the formal portraits. (For those who are curious, that's the equivalent of about $1000 today!) But one of the most treasured photos in her album is a candid shot of the happy newlyweds leaving the church. The smiles on their faces and the twinkle in their eyes tell the full story right there in one sweet shot.


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1.14.2016

Thirty-Four

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It happened. That moment when you realize you are officially old. Not arthritis-and-orthopedic-shoes old but definitely not part of the young crowd anymore. I think it happens to everyone at some point in life and typically it revolves around the current slang. You hear a term (or read it online) and think you know what it means. Until you proceed to use it in real life in a wildly inappropriate way. And then it happens. A light bulb appears over your head (and because you are now officially old it's probably a vintage-type Edison bulb, if not a kerosene lamp) and it clicks. You're not young & hip anymore. You've entered a new era. A new sphere of 'cool' where twenty-somethings fear to tread.

For me, the downfall of my youthfulness was 'Netflix and chill.'

I naively thought it meant exactly what it sounds like it means - relaxing on the couch and watching Netflix. I even used it in reference to my own son, that's how convinced I was of the innocent meaning.

"What are you doing today?" "I don't know, probably just taking it easy. Netflix and chill with the baby."

Um...

Apparently that doesn't mean what I thought it meant and as soon as I realized that, I realized something much more terrifying. I'm no longer in tune with current pop culture slang. I truly do not know what the cool kids are saying these days. And the fact that I even described it that way just further emphasizes my extreme lack of hipness.

And yet, I don't feel old enough for that yet. I don't feel like a 34-year old, which after yesterday is exactly what I am now.

There was a time not too long ago in my life when I thought 34 sounded so much ... older. Not old, but definitely older. More mature, more content, wiser. Someone who was 34 must be set in life. Career solidly on track, personal life in order. Freedom and stability coexisting in a smooth and balanced life. Someone who was 34 basically had their ish together.

And yet, here I am, 34 and not feeling like I fit the idea of what I thought 34 would look like. My business is doing well and as I enter year 5 I have big plans for taking things in a new direction. It's a path that I know will lead to growth, expansion, and a bit more creative freedom. And while that looks "on track" from the outside, on the inside, in the thick of things, I feel like the to-do list is neverending and balance is nowhere in sight.

We've settled in to a nice routine in our family life, too, but saying things are "in order" seems like such a lie. Again, from the outside things look great. We have a cozy little apartment in a beautiful city, our baby is happy, healthy, and loved beyond measure, and though our relationship is different now that baby makes three, we are stronger than ever before and more in love today than when we first got married. And yet figuring out parenting and working from home, plus finding time for myself and time for The Husband, feels like a constant juggling routine with every ball just on the brink of crashing down and rolling out of reach.

But maybe that's the trick of it. Maybe the key to growing older isn't to eliminate all challenges but to tackle them head-on with confidence, strength, and love, knowing - really knowing, not just hoping - that things will work out. Because with all those years of adulting now under your belt, you know from true experience that it will work out. Maybe 34 looked so mature, content, and wise precisely because 20 or 24 or 27 were not, but you survived all those stages nonetheless. Even thrived in them. And come out stronger because of them. Maybe 34 isn't about finally being carefree and balanced, but about knowing in the very core of your being that none of those cares and challenges can bring you down.

I may be too old to know what the cool kids are saying these days but I do know enough to know this - I don't really care. I may not feel like I have my ish together yet but I'm not as bothered by growing older as I thought I'd be at 20 or 24 or 27 and that's pretty awesome. Maybe 34 won't so bad after all.

xo

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1.12.2016

Sonoma Brunch Wedding at The Depot Hotel | Kate & Adam

romantic wine country wedding photos

Kate & Adam are another online dating success story. In fact, they were such a great "match" that Adam was Kate's first and last online date! She just knew after the first night of buffalo misadventures in Golden Gate Park that he was made for her. When it came to planning their wedding, Kate & Adam wanted something different - something truly unique to them. They immediately decided on a brunch wedding in picturesque Sonoma, and chose a Tuscan-inspired restaurant with an outdoor pergola and fountain for their ceremony and reception venue, a nod to Adam's Italian heritage.


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1.08.2016

Currently | Vol. 4

currently watching and reading
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Watching Top Chef at this precise moment but Making A Murderer nightly. For the second time, actually. I was so in shock the first time I don't think I fully processed everything that happened.

Reading nothing really, unless you count children's books. One of my priorities this year (<-- not a "resolution") is to make more time for reading. And I mean something a little more adult than Giraffes Can't Dance or The Going To Bed Book.

Listening to Serial season two, mostly while I edit at night. I was a little disappointed that it's not about Adnan but I'm totally intrigued by the story anyway.

Eating lots more veggies and fruit now that Rico is eating solids. I find myself eating a little bit of whatever I'm giving him, and I'm trying to introduce mainly just produce for now, so I end up eating a little healthier, too. Thank god for that because I totally pigged out for the entire month of December.

Drinking coffee. All the time. I wouldn't be surprised if Rico's first word is coffee because I talk about it, make it, and drink it, all the dang time.

Craving a getaway. Something fun in an unfamiliar place that we can get lost in and explore together.

Wishing I could duplicate myself and have one Stephanie to do all the work things and the other Stephanie to do all the house/baby things. We'd trade off, of course, so neither of us gets burnt out.

Dreaming of a whole new wardrobe. Does anyone else get this way mid-way through winter?

Loving the little personality Rico is starting to show. The kid can be a little dramatic and he seems to be developing quite the temper, but he also cheers up easily and laughs at the silliest things. And he's learning to give hugs, which is basically the cutest thing ever.

Wondering what your plans are for the weekend? Anything fun?

xo

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1.06.2016

Old Speedway Meadow Wedding | Katy & Alex

san francisco wedding photography

Katy, originally from Virginia, and Alex, who hails from Sacramento, love living in San Francisco. Together, they take full advantage of everything the city has to offer - the scenic hiking trails, waterfront running paths, and eclectic restaurants are just a few of their favorite things. So when it came time to plan their wedding, a San Francisco theme was a natural fit. The couple knew that for many of their friends and family, this would be a destination wedding so they chose to give them the full San Francisco experience.


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Lands End Engagement Session | Katy & Alex

Ah, January. I truly have mixed feelings about this month. On the one hand, it's a month of fresh starts, new beginnings, resets and rejuvenation, and most importantly, my birthday. But it's also usually gray and gloomy, cold and rainy, with short days and dark mornings. So to brighten up the gloom a bit, I'm sharing lots of love, beauty, sunshine, and pretty dresses with you! I have almost a full season's worth of weddings and engagement sessions I've yet to blog and what better time to flood this space with love than the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day? It's a perfect way for me to get back in the swing of blogging regularly and to celebrate all my awesome clients who made 2015 an amazing year for work despite missing half the season to, you know, birth and raise a little human. And we're kicking it all off with the lovely Katy & Alex.

Katy and Alex are an online dating success story worthy of a commercial all their own. They met on OkCupid and hit it off almost instantly. They're fun-loving, adventurous, and ready to take on all that life has to offer. And the way they look at each other melts my heart every time. Alex's eyes soften just a little bit when he sees Katy, and Katy lights up like a Christmas tree in his loving gaze. It was almost too easy to photograph them!

san francisco engagement photos
san francisco engagement photos



We met up at Lands End to start off their engagement session. We were hoping for clear skies and beautiful sunset views but that pesky interloper Karl the Fog decided he just had to get in on the photo action, too. We made the best of it and found some sweet little nooks and crannies amongst the cliffside wildlife that were totally worthy of this duo's love.

san francisco engagement photos
san francisco engagement photos
san francisco engagement photos

san francisco engagement photos
san francisco engagement photos


Besides being in love with each other, Katy & Alex are also madly in love with San Francisco (just wait till you see their SF-themed wedding later!) so we headed over to Baker Beach towards the end of our session for a few final photos with the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge.  Of course, Karl the Fog was waiting for us when we arrived there, too, but that fluffy white fog is quintessentially San Francisco so we didn't mind. Plus, it meant we had the whole beach pretty much to ourselves!

san francisco engagement photossan francisco engagement photos
san francisco engagement photos
san francisco engagement photos

san francisco engagement photos
san francisco engagement photos

Aren't they the cutest? Their beautiful Golden Gate Park wedding is coming up soon so stayed tuned!

xo

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1.04.2016

Six Months

milestone baby portraits


Loves

Cuddles, naps in the Solly wrap, checking out the Christmas tree, tongue clicking, walks in the park

Hates

Teething, nap time in his bed, teething, oh, and did I mention teething?

milestone baby photography

milestone baby photography

milestone baby photography
milestone baby photography
milestone baby photography
milestone baby photography


Six months. Twenty-six weeks. Half a freaking year. I feel like we've been trudging uphill through the most challenging part of life with a new baby and finally reached the halfway point. The Husband and I are working out the kinks in this whole parenting thing, slowly but surely finding our groove, and after a rough month 5-to-6, Rico is getting to be more independent each day and, consequently, lots more fun to spend time with.

Early in December, the little guy started teething and needed lots of comforting and distraction to feel better. I hadn't used my Solly wrap in a while but I reached for it in a moment of desperation and sure enough, he was totally calm once snuggled inside. I was usually wearing him for a few hours each day, nearly all month long, but I didn't mind it much. He's very interested in the world around him, even when feeling miserable with pesky little teeth busting their way out of his gums, so we took a lot of walks outside to keep him distracted and happy. Then, just a few days before Christmas, baby got his first cold! That's one of those milestone entries for the baby book, right? It was the family's first cold, actually. We all got it! I'm pretty sure I was patient zero and I felt so terrible for getting him sick. The kid loves his pacifier right now and always has it when he goes to sleep, but his little nose was so stuffed up he couldn't suck on it and breathe at the same time! Totally a heart breaker. Neither of us got much sleep for a few days there but his infant immune system didn't waste any time kicking that cold's bootie. It took The Husband and I nearly two weeks to get better but Rico was happy and healthy again in half that time.

With all that happened since his June birth, turning six months felt like a milestone. An occasion worth capturing in a special way. I couldn't let go of the idea of milestone photos that were very simple - a clean black and white so the focus was purely on his sweet features and expressions. To make it extra special, he wore his daddy's white baptism outfit. Yay for vintage baby clothes! I can't wait to capture him in this way for each birthday and document all the ways he changes over time.

xo

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