CHRIS & JESSICA – 9.14.2013

Filed under: love,marry me,portraits,wedding — admin at 12:40 pm on Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jessica emailed me about setting up an engagement session – in the snow!

Jessica came to the ARNOT MALL BRIDAL EXPO to book her September wedding – so I got to meet her then! I knew we would have a GREAT time!

It was FREEZING – but they were awesome!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that shot on the right!




Jessica & Chris – I CANNOT WAIT for your wedding!



Filed under: . babies . babies . babies .,babes,baby barden,bardenisms,just because,my family,newsworthy — admin at 4:02 am on Friday, February 22, 2013

“If my heart is overwhelmed
and I cannot hear Your voice
I’ll hold on to what is true though I cannot see
If the storms of life they come
and the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith I will believe”

Brian Johnson – Love Came Down

Google the lyrics – the rest of the song. Listen. And then listen again.

God –

Right now I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I cannot hear Your voice. While I cannot hear Your voice – I feel Your love. Which is strange for me. I sit here with tears streaming down my face and yet I know that You are holding me. It’s strange because while I’ve always KNOWN that to be true – I can count on one hand the times I have been overwhelmed with Your peace and love. And while right now I am sad – I feel Your peace. It’s strange to even type that.

You know my heart. You know my wants. You know my needs. You know every single thing about me. And then some. You know that I’ve been through my fair share of storms – that the road ahead has only been steep – and getting steeper. You know that when I get remotely comfortable and the road starts to plateau – that I get lazy in needing You. I start to rely on myself. And that isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I need to rely on You. Every moment. Not just in the valleys. Not just when I’m climbing and panting and out of breath. Which seems to be much more often than not. Because that’s when I think I need You – ONLY when I think I need you. And that sucks.

I can’t see anything in front of me. Which makes it hard to NOT live in the past. We can’t see what’s coming – so we mull on what’s been. It’s all we have to really see. But I have to hold on to what is true – ESPECIALLY because I cannot see it. I have to lift my hands. My life. In faith. And believe. Believe. Why is that so hard? Believe that You work all things out for my good.

All things. Everything. That’s every single second and moment. The beautiful and the tragic. This is a really hard concept for me to get through my head. Every tear. Every hurt. Every pain. Every word. Every hug. Every struggle. Every kiss. Every breath. You work it out for my good. It’s crazy is what it is. Crazy beautiful.

Tonight I sit here – just having put Fitzy to bed – in absolute wonderment. I’ve stopped crying. The 5th person in about 2 weeks just told me they were pregnant. Again. That word flips a switch for me.

I have a confession – although You being who You are – already know it.

I’m happier for people that are expecting when they’ve had trouble conceiving. Seriously. I’m awful. Horrible. Or maybe I should say that the pain is a little less of a stab in my heart. But I’m still awful.

Because it’s MY heart that everyone should be taking into consideration when they announce their pregnancy. Don’t people understand how hurtful it is to see their happiness all over my FACEBOOK feed. Don’t they know they should be more sensitive.

And yet – in each and every instance – all 5 of them – they seriously DID take my feelings into consideration. They let me know ahead of time that they were expecting. Gave me a heads up – cus they know how hard it is for me.

Constantly. Seriously. Overwhelmed.

We’ve been praying. Asking You to show us peace. And a specific answer. What should we do. Should we see a fertility specialist? After our 3rd miscarriage – my doctor highly recommended seeing a specialist before trying to get pregnant again. Should we permanently call it quits? Should we prevent for a year and then re-evaluate? Should we just be and hope for the best?

It’s all so overwhelming. I’ve asked a few people to pray for us. That we would hear Your voice clearly. That our fears and emotions wouldn’t shove their way in. That we hear what You want – and not what we want.

The thought of not having another baby makes me a little panicky. The thought of having another baby makes Jared a little panicky. The thought of having yet another miscarriage makes us both very panicky.

I prayed for a child. We prayed. I cried and begged. I became obsessed. And I refuse to be that person again – I didn’t enjoy her – and I’ll bet not many other people did either. You answered my prayer with a yes. I have a beautiful baby boy. I prayed for one. A baby. He is sleeping in his crib at this very moment. He is miraculous.

When we got pregnant with Fitzy – and we realized that he was indeed meant for our arms – not just our hearts – I knew that he might be our only. I never thought I would have trouble getting pregnant – but we did. We have trouble getting pregnant and staying pregnant. I savored every moment – knowing full well that it could very well be our only chance. I’ve already accepted this in my heart – well about 90% accepted it. There’s still a little part of me holding onto hope – as hard as that is for me.

So we’ve prayed. And asked people we love and trust to pray. Jared and I both felt strongly that we needed to relax for a year. At least. Last year was really REALLY hard on us. We lost two babies and almost our relationship. And almost our own sanity. It’s been hard. It’s been hard to hope. And the people we’ve asked to pray for us echoed the same – most of them.

I want to be happy. I want to enjoy this little family that You’ve given me. I want to focus on You. On my marriage. On this miracle that you’ve given us. The other day we were at lunch and someone said – how old will Fitzy be? I said – two. She said – well then – it’s about time you got started on another huh? I said – it’s not in our hands. When in reality I wanted to SCREAM – WE’VE TRIED. AND WE’VE LOST. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS FOR US? What I wouldn’t give to just be able to think about getting pregnant and having it happen (and stay) – but alas. That was not Your plan for us.

God – we pray that this year we will be comforted. This year we will feel peace. This year – You will make it clear if there is another baby in store for us. You will calm our hearts and our minds. You will replace our fears with faith. You will help us hold on to what is true – though we cannot see.




Filed under: babes,baby barden,bardenisms,birth,just because,love,my family — admin at 12:44 pm on Thursday, February 14, 2013

In 6th grade – we were asked to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. Teacher is written under my name in the yearbook. By senior year – it probably changed to Architect/Interior Designer – I wouldn’t know exactly without looking. I imagined myself rich and beautiful. Toting around 4 ridiculously cute babies. Two girls and two boys – in that order. Bailey Russell was my girl name. Christopher William was my boy name. I’d have to come up with two others – but maybe my tall dark and ridiculously handsome husband could help.

But looking back – I didn’t really envision my life in the future very much.

When I got to Philadelphia University – homesickness struck. Really bad. I wanted to quit. I packed up three times and called my parents and begged them to come get me. They didn’t. They told me I had to stay. I asked if I could transfer to Mansfield in the spring. Sure – but you are staying for the semester. I stuck it out. By the time the semester ended – I was happier and could have stayed. But I didn’t.

I transferred to Mansfield – cut my hair off a la Felicity – and started anew. That first spring semester was hard. I went home every weekend. I kept to myself and my studies. I lived in the library and in my room. I lived in a suite – but I can’t even tell you the names of the  girls I shared it with. I NEVER talked to them. My roommate moved out mid-semester and then it was just me. Of course there were boys (there are always boys) that I was interested in – and I daydreamed about what would actually happen if they asked me to go out with them. What being a couple would mean – most likely happiness and love and babies and happy ever after. Obviously.

Life didn’t play out like I planned. I was in college but I didn’t love it. I had no idea what I wanted to be. Other than married and pregnant. I picked Accounting because I had NO time left to choose a major unless I wanted to be a professional college student. I had NO intention of being an accountant. Just a mom. I could always find a job as a secretary.

But the boys I loved didn’t love me – or at least – were not IN love with me.

Then I met Jared. He chased me. Pursued me. But he wasn’t tall. He wasn’t dark. While Jared is my love and I find him attractive – he wasn’t the picture of handsome I was imagining myself marrying. He loved me. He loved me before I loved him. He knew right away that I would be the one – and I took a little more convincing. It sounds awful – and I don’t mean it to be. But he just wasn’t what I pictured my life to look like. I didn’t want to be taller than my husband – I didn’t wear heels often – but what if I wanted to. I’m already pretty pale – our babies would be really really white. And aren’t all the pictures of happiness of men with Val Kilmer’s (young Val Kilmer) jaw line? Shallow? Heck. Yes. So. Very. Much. But I’m serious – it scared me a little. Would we travel? Jared was an only child who didn’t really crave babies in his life – and I wanted 4. Lots of me talk in that paragraph. LOTS.

sidenote – the first month we were married – my mom called and asked how things were. I told her that I was terrified of marrying an only child. I had no idea how to deal with his selfishness. She said – and? I said – mom. I’m the most selfish person I’ve ever known. Ew.

I didn’t expect Jared to propose when he did. I was a horrible – rotten – spoiled little child the night he proposed. In reality he should have taken the ring and threw into the dark cold bushes and left me in that field. Alone. But he didn’t. He loved me. He asked me to share his life with him. He trusted me with his heart. A few weeks before he proposed – I called my mom and said – Jared and I have been dating almost a year – I don’t have a reason to break up with him – other than he doesn’t LOOK like what I thought I would marry. Seriously Danielle. Get over yourself. Anyway – my mom chuckled. She said – look at all these guys you’ve pined after – have any of them loved you? Have any of them treated you the way you deserve – which really wasn’t much by the way I was acting. If you give up on what you have with Jared – you might be missing out on your whole life.

Thanks mom.

She was right. So right. I loved this man – as short and pale and really truly handsome as he was. I was terrified of that. Or maybe I was terrified that he really did love me. That he wasn’t leaving. He wasn’t using me. He was after my heart. And I was a jerk.

Thankfully – he didn’t leave me. Thankfully – I got over myself – AM getting over myself.

I look back on who I am now – who I’ve become. And I’m happy. Like I wrote in my THANK YOU AUNT LORI blog – I still have LOTS to improve on – I am very thankful for where I am. I have a successful business that I built. I have a beautiful baby. We live in a house that I am learning to love – very VERY slowly. We have amazing parents. And Jared still keeps me in check. He pushes me to be better. To dream better. To expect better. To act better. He has encouraged my walk with God.

When I was making a list of all the things my husband needed to be – a Christian was in the top 3. But that is where it ended. I didn’t need him to talk to God. To trust God. Just have asked Jesus into his heart. And live it out every once in a while. I’m ashamedly serious.

Instead – I got a man who loves Jesus. A man who strives to live in that love. A man who prays with me and for me. A man who questions and answers. A man who strives to be better with me.

We are not rich – in the terms that you would think. But we are rich in forgiveness. In family. In friends. In love. In blessings. In God’s favor.

While I don’t know where I thought I would be at this moment in my life – I’m POSITIVE that where I am is much better than anywhere I could have ever dreamed.

*H* – 6 MONTHS

Filed under: . babies . babies . babies .,babes,family,kiddos,portraits — admin at 1:30 pm on Monday, February 11, 2013

I met Mary on FACEBOOK. She asked me to put her name on my ever-growing list of “wanting to be mommas” – they wanted another sweet one!

I was SO excited when she told me they were expecting! They live in NJ but she really wanted a session with me. Luckily – my sister lives not far from them!


Baby *H* – you are a sweet girl! I can’t wait to see you again soon!

Mary – I am SO glad we met! Thanks for opening up your home to us!


Filed under: babes,baby barden,bardenisms,birth,expecting,family,friends,just because,kiddos,love,my family,newsworthy,schrute — admin at 1:45 pm on Friday, February 8, 2013

The first night we were in the hospital with Fitzy – the nurse asked if we wanted him with us or in the nursery. I said – if I say nursery – am I a bad mom? She giggled and reassured me that I was not. I said – then nursery it is! They brought him in when he was hungry and then took him back when he was done. I look back on this and I think – I can’t believe I didn’t want to just hold him and eat him up. I can’t believe I let him just lie in that cold cart all by himself. Oh right – I was exhausted – and the nurses took great care of him.

When we brought him home – I had every intention of putting him in a bassinet next to our bed. Which I did – but he cried. As soon as I picked him up – he went to sleep. As soon as I laid him down – he woke up and cried. While I tend to be a non-sympathetic person in general – when it comes to babies – I melt. I couldn’t let my new baby cry. What if he thought I didn’t love him. What if he thought I left him. What if he got scared. Yes – I actually thought these things.

It didn’t really matter. Schrute did not adjust well to Fitzy. I asked my dog-loving friends – they said – wait it out – give him a chance. Every time Fitzy made a move or a noise – Schrute was there in the blink of an eye – and not always gentle. He was jealous and confused. He was anxious and irritable. I didn’t trust him – I was uneasy.

I was exhausted. I would nurse Fitzy in bed and fall back asleep – sitting up – holding him. By the grace of God – nothing horrible happened. Jared was uneasy with it and so was I. We took to sleeping in the recliners in the living room with Fitzy on my chest – I would wake up and nurse him – and fall back asleep with him cradled in my arms – thankfully again – God kept him safe. It wasn’t ideal – but until Schrute found a new home – it would have to do.

side note – finding a new home for our first baby was one of the HARDEST things we’ve ever had to do. EVER . lots of people made me feel bad about it. some people understood. but for the most part – we were horrible for just getting rid of our dog. while he is doing fantastic in his new home – he has also bit two people. because they pet him unexpectedly. isn’t that exactly what babies and toddlers do. that could have been Fitzy – and it could have been fatal. and then I would most definitely be institutionalized.

We found a new home for Schrute. Time to have Fitzy sleep on his own – in the bassinet in our room. Our house is a little patched together. Our first floor is the kitchen and living room. Our second-ish floor is the bathroom and bedroom and laundry room and little cubby rooms. Our third-ish floor has two bedrooms. Our attic is big enough for two BIG rooms and a bathroom and then there is a loft in the attic. Our bedroom is on the second-ish floor. Fitzy’s is on the third-ish floor. WHICH FREAKS ME OUT. (I’m a control freak – remember) and while I try my best to keep it at bay – having my child on a different floor than me is NOT okay. I don’t know if it would ever be – especially such a teeny baby.

We moved his crib downstairs – tried here and there – he wanted to sleep right next to momma – which I didn’t mind. Oddly enough. I NEVER intended to be a co-sleeping mom. Co-sleeping moms are kinda crazy – so they say. That was NOT going to be me. I’ve heard stories about babies that sleep in their parents bed till Kindergarten. Nope. Not me. Not us. Won’t happen. But here we were.

Fitzy didn’t even really sleep through the night until about 14 months. Seriously. Having Fitzy sleep right next to me and get up multiple times in the night – way easier than me getting up and completely waking up. Every night.

Then Jared was not okay with it. He didn’t really let me know at first – it just exploded into this issue (followed by several other issues) and there was NOT going to be a baby in our bed anymore. His crib was moved upstairs (ugh). And since our friends said that they let their babies cry it out – that is what we were going to do. I was NOT happy – to say the least. But I would try it. Fitzy cried for 3 hours. 3 HOURS STRAIGHT. I refused to go get him. We tried the 5 minutes – 15 minutes – 30 minutes – blah blah blah. Only made it worse. But this was something that he was bound and determined would work. Finally – he caved. Ya know – after 3 hours of non-stop screaming.

I was willing to work on it – little by little. But I am not a cry it out mom. Kudos to those of you that are. We moved his crib back downstairs and would put him in it for naps and then to start the night. Naps would last maybe 45 minutes in his crib. Compared to the 2 hours on the couch. So he usually naps on the couch (unless it’s the weekend – then it’s on Jared) while I blog or edit or organize.

He would start out the night in his crib and usually stand up and say MOMMA at about 1. I would pick him up and lay him in bed and fall back asleep. And he would sleep the rest of the night.

We need to renovate our house – like – majorly. New windows. in. every. blasted. room. New siding. on our giant house. New laundry and nook rooms. New electric. New bedrooms. New attic. New attic bathroom. New doorways. Basically you name it – it needs to be done. So the goal is to work on a back bedroom for us that shares a wall with a little bedroom for Fitzy – and by that time – to have a baby that can sleep on his own. All night. In his own bed.

I rock Fitzy to sleep. Have since the moment he came home. I love it. He is an almost 3 foot – 33 pound – almost 22 month old. Kind of hard to get comfortable in a rocking chair with me. He lets me rock him to sleep for nap time. But the past month – I’ve had to lay him down in bed next to me and bop him to sleep. Sing Silent Night – hold him close.

We took the front off his crib and moved it flush with our bed. When he is finally asleep – I move him to his bed. There has been ONE night he slept there in that bed from 9 to 7. ONE. So far he sleeps till about 3 and then crawls over to me and cuddles up and falls back asleep till about 8. (Once when he was little bitty and sleeping in his car seat – yes we tried that trick – he slept all night – those are the two times)

Progress. Slow and steady. I make sure that this issue isn’t an issue in our marriage anymore – that I make time for Jared. That just because we have friends that don’t live this way – doesn’t mean that it’s horrible that we do. And I’ve completely changed my mind about co-sleeping parents. I understand now that some parents choose this option and that it works for them. While I don’t want Fitzy sleeping with us forever – it’s what worked for us then. For now.

And while I am frustrated and exhausted and basically running on prayers and little Fitzy kisses – I still love singing Silent Night. Every. Night.

I wrote this blog a month ago – so to update – He’s been getting worse the past week – he does have a cold – so it might be that. But it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes to get him to sleep and then he gets up at 130 and then again at 330 and stirs till 430 and then again at 630 and stays up usually. I cry for the 30 to 90 minutes it takes to get him to sleep. I cry when he wakes up at 630 – ready to go. I’ve been going to sleep when he does – leaving almost no time with just Jared – and this will not be an issue again. I have an appointment today for his little feet (he walks on the insides of his little ankles – really bad – maybe he’s in pain. hopefully there is something we can do for him. i have an appointment next week to see if we need to go gluten free – maybe it’s his little tummy. i can’t wait till warmer weather where he can run around and play outside and fall asleep on the floor playing – he has NEVER done that)

A huge surprise happened last night! It took 30 minutes to get him to sleep – usually he just wants to play and talk. He fell asleep at 9 and at 5 am woke up – IN HIS CRIB. He crawled over to me and we got up at 8. SERIOUS ANSWER TO PRAYER. And while my old self would say – it’s just a fluke – my new self is thankful for this! SO THANK YOU!


Filed under: . babies . babies . babies .,babes,family,kiddos,portraits — admin at 1:42 pm on Monday, February 4, 2013

I took pictures of little *B* last year – he was one of the best newborns EVER!

I can’t believe that he is already ONE!

Isn’t he ADORABLE!

Some of my favorite shots! He was very serious about his session!


I love those little moments!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE absolutely LOVE those shots!

I had to capture those curls!

Thank you guys SO much for asking me to capture these moments for you! I can’t (but I really CAN) wait to see you again next year! These babies are growing up WAY too fast!


Filed under: beautiful,contest — admin at 2:09 pm on Friday, February 1, 2013

It’s time for BEAUTIFUL again! This is the 4th year I’ve ran this contest – and I LOVE IT!

I will be awarding 2 families a photo session.

Email me @ – write a paragraph or two about a family you know that deserves a FREE photo session.

I will be choosing 2 families from the entries and announce the winners on March 1st. The deadline for the submissions will be February 29th. I need to hear from 10 people to make this contest work!!



If you were a previous beautiful winner – you can’t win again – sorry bout that!