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Wednesday by Leah: Sick Day(s)

BabyRoX has been incredibly healthy since birth. He ran his first-ever fever at 12 months. It was roseola, which didn’t seem to affect him in the slightest. High fever for a couple days, then a non-itchy red rash broke out. He didn’t act like he felt bad. Then a week later he got a stomach bug. Two pukey days, a low-grade fever, more napping and less eating, and he was good to go. He didn’t seem to feel too awful then, either. We didn’t need to go to the doctor, although I did call the nurse hotline just to reassure my worried mind.

But this past weekend, my sweet boy felt absolutely miserable. In pain from an ear infection and teething. High fever, runny nose, coughing. He couldn’t get comfortable. He wanted to sleep but couldn’t. He just wanted me to hold him. So much for night weaning- he wouldn’t eat any food, so I nursed him as often as he wanted. Anything to make him feel a little bit better.


Luckily, our pediatrician has Saturday hours, so off to the doctor we went. Thankful it wasn’t the flu or anything truly serious, I left with instructions to give him Motrin as needed and… amoxicillin. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I lean toward the holistic/organic/crunchy side. I’m NOT anti-allopathic medicine, but I’m also not a huge fan of medical interventions unless they are truly needed, because the risk of unpleasant side effects or complications from the intervention is higher than I’d like. I know antibiotics are over-prescribed. I know they strip the body of good bacteria, not just bad. I know they are ineffective if the infection is viral. I know that there are gentle, holistic remedies that can be very effective at treating both bactetial and viral infections. I know all of this.


I also know that I took a sh*t-ton of antibiotics growing up. Big, pink, gooey spoonfuls of amoxicillin. I liked the stuff! I was on hormonal birth control pills for years. I ate Dunkin Donuts every Saturday for 6 years straight. Ok, maybe not quite… But a lot went into my body that isn’t organic. And I’m fine. So why am I so guilt-ridden over giving my toddler one round of antibiotics? His body has been far less “contaminated” than mine was growing up. And, as my awesome and hilarious friend mentioned in this post, he’s going to eat all kinds of nasty stuff anyways! He’s already helped himself to generous portions of cat food, lint, and dirt. (And the chips that my parents like to feed him! Don’t think I don’t know about that!) And he didn’t have a truly sick day until nearly 15 months of age.

So thank you to all my awesome mom friends for assuaging the guilt and giving me a healthy dose of perspective. You know who you are. Y’all rock.

I’m doing ok. You are doing ok. BabyRoX is doing ok. We’re all ok!

And for the record, amoxicillin is no longer pink NOR as tasty as it used to be. The times, how they’ve changed!


Wednesday by Leah: Swarmed

On Saturday night, Mark and I were supposed to go to a super awesome Halloween party. But first, he had an engagement shoot outdoors in the beautiful fall weather. I was looking forward to a fun night out. My parents were looking forward to a fun night with their grandson. And then my phone rang. It was Mark, but he sounded funny. Really funny.

Why? He had been swarmed by a hive (nest? gang?) of angry yellow jackets. He had been stung. A lot. And while he had been stung in the past and never had an allergic reaction, it really sounded like his throat was swelling up and I got scared. He was 37 miles across town with our car. We only have one car. He asked me to call a friend who lived close to where he was to take him to the hospital. I urged him to get in the ambulance that was called instead. He protested. I used my stern voice. I called my friend. Mark called back and said he would go with the ambulance. I called my friend back and told her nevermind. I called my mom and asked her to pick me up and drive me to the hospital. Meanwhile, Mark collapsed, came to, couldn’t see for 20 minutes, and threw up a whole bunch. I’m glad I missed that part.

The EMTs were amazing and basically saved his life. I’m so glad they were stubborn and didn’t drive off like Mark suggested. Because by the time my friend could have gotten to him, my husband would likely have been dead. Or close to it.

When I got to the hospital, I rushed into the ER and found Mark hooked up to oxygen and fluids, shivering on a bed. Cue the Grey’s Anatomy theme song. It felt so surreal… just an hour earlier I was about to put on a costume and go to a party, and all of a sudden I’m in the Emergency Room holding my husband’s hand and kissing his puffy eyelids and feeling exceptionally grateful that he was able to open his eyes and squeeze my hand back.

The nurses pumped him full of fluids and antihistamines and steroids and something to make the shaking stop. He was covered in red welts. But he was alive! And reasonably well. He slept a bunch that night and woke up early the next morning to go shoot  a wedding. Yup, he’s crazy like that. We’re both just insanely thankful that he genuinely felt ok enough to shoot a wedding. That he was alive and breathing and not dead in a parking lot by a mountain.

Paying bills, running a business, parenting, prepping for a move – all the stressors that have been on my mind are suddenly so much less stressful. I’m not glad that Mark almost died, but it IS nice to have my priorities more in order! Also, EMTs rock.

And Happy Halloween!

Wednesday by Leah: Being my own best friend

So last week, our awesome new website was inundated with boudoir photos. My mom wasn’t too pleased with this. My best gal pal was also concerned. (Love y’all both!) While some may view boudoir as risqué, I think our team did a great job taking beautiful, tasteful photos and also writing about the courage and sense of self-worth/love/appreciation a boudoir session both requires and help creates.

And it also got me thinking… how am I treating myself these days? I wrote a bit about making time for myself, and that’s important – and something I’m getting better at! But as I made time for myself, I also made time for being extra-critical of myself. My never-ending to-do list. My stress about paying bills. My feeling two steps behind. Always pulling my hair in a pony tail. Etc. Etc. Etc.


So I decided to give myself a mental boudoir session of sorts. Strip myself down, emotionally. What do I need? How do I feel? And what I need is to be my own best friend. To treat myself the way my friends treat me, and the way I (hopefully) treat them. Instead of letting that critical voice berate me, I need to talk myself the way I would talk to an anxious, stressed-out friend.

Breathe. You’re doing awesome. It’s gonna be ok. Let’s do some yoga and have a glass of wine.

Not only is it of the utmost importance for my own self-care and life balance to treat myself with kindness and respect, but it is also exactly what I want to model for my son. I don’t want him witnessing a frazzled woman being down on herself. I want him to see me for who I really am: a confident, joyful, present, enthusiastically peaceful woman.

I’m a good friend to others. And I’m starting to be a very good friend to myself. Which makes for a super awesome mama. And that makes everyone a little bit happier!

rain | by +elaine

this has been a strange week. but I’ll take strange. wholeheartedly. with open arms. and be glad. because while my week has been filled with introspection and taking stock and appreciating the people in my life, people I know are having a tragic week. a week filled with loss and sadness. affecting them personally and profoundly, while it only touches me peripherally, if at all. separate stories of strangers. car crashes. boating accidents. hit-and-runs. news stories. friends of friends, a friend of some family. gone. all of them young, taken shockingly. abruptly. it’s not like it isn’t always happening, but sometimes it brushes up closer than you’re used to. closer than you’d ever like it to be.

in 2009 Jen Newman, owner and creator of Lillibands, started LilliCares in memory of her younger brother, Ret, who lost his battle to Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2000 at the age of 15. he asked his family to “give back” and help children and their families fighting these terrible diseases. in june, a group of children from Avondale Estates, GA spent the afternoon packaging up and delivering Lillibands and Ninjabands to Egelston Children’s Hospital. they spent time with the patients and were able to learn first hand about what it means to be fighting cancer. I was lucky enough to be a part of this, and to have Intern Christina with me to capture some of these images.

I see bewilderment and anger and oh-so-much sadness all over my facebook newsfeed. from so many different corners. and I see love. love love love. so much love flowing. through remembrance. through words, stories and pictures. my cousin wrote this about a dear young friend of my west coast family who was killed in a hit-and-run on her 30th birthday on monday:

“it is true.
good-byes are always hard.
but they’re the hardest because the hellos were so wonderful.
the great pendulum of life.
this is a little fall of rain compared to all the sunny days Claire Rose gave you.

blessed are we who feel the light in all these storms.”

I see Jen and her family talk about Ret. always laughing and smiling and remembering all the sunny days he gave them. and all the good and happy and love? they send it out into the world, and give it especially to those who need it extra much. because he asked them to. and because that’s the kind of people they are.

I know that all these stories are ultimately not at all about me, but I do what everyone does when they are reminded about how ephemeral life is. I look up out of the busyness that is everyday and stop taking it for granted, if only for a moment. I appreciate it all. I hold on to it and embrace it while I can. I squeeze my husband’s hand. I hug my kids extra long. I kiss them as they sleep and whisper in their ears of love and sweet dreams. I cross my fingers and my toes. I close my eyes and make a wish to keep those that I love safe. and I feel the light in the midst of all these storms.


Wednesday by Leah: It’s Like Pooping

So I know I already wrote about my homebirth experience, and talked a little about what labor and birth were like… but now that I’m out of that initial post-birth haze, I thought I’d share a bit more about what giving birth actually FELT like. And really, it felt like pooping. So much so that I was convinced my child was coming out of the wrong opening! I never had that ring of fire that so many women describe…maybe cuz I was giving birth in water, I don’t know… for me, giving birth was like having a 20 lb (ok, really a 7 lb) bowling ball come out of my butt. Except BabyRoX didn’t come out of my butt. To this day, I would swear that he did, though!  That’s how much it felt like pooping!

Y’all…I wasn’t going to write this post. Mark said I should, though. I’m not trying to be gross. But I do wish someone had sat me down before I gave birth and told me this. I was told that I should push like I was having a bowel movement. I was also told that many women get hung up on their fear of actually pooping during birth. (And I didn’t think I would be one of those women!) But I was NOT told that giving birth feels like taking the biggest dump of your life, and I think if I had been told that, I would’ve pooped out my sweet baby a lot faster! But I kept waiting to feel him coming out of my vagina. And instead all I felt was intense pressure in my rectum. I was convinced that I couldn’t give birth until I pooped. I mean, I thought I really needed to poop first and then I could have my baby. So I kept sitting on the toilet trying to poop…only I was really trying to give birth, and I didn’t know it! Finally my wonderful doula and midwife convinced me that I really just needed to push the baby out and YES that intense pressure on my rectum was normal and YES the baby really is about to come and NO I don’t need to worry about pooping anymore.

Cutest poop in the world!

I didn’t think I was going to be worried about pooping. But I also didn’t realize just how much giving birth would feel like having a bowel movement! I also thought that by the time I was ready to push out my baby, I wouldn’t care if I pooped or not… I thought I would be so out of it, or in so much pain that nothing mattered, or in such a deeply relaxed state that the baby would just slide out and I wouldn’t have a care in the world. I had an amazingly relaxed labor, but when it came time to push, I wasn’t in that trance-like state. I also wasn’t in such pain that I stopped caring about anything else. I was very much aware of the feeling of needing to poop, and very averse to doing that with everyone around me, and completely unaware that the poop-feeling was my baby coming out. So I’m giving the rest of y’all a heads up – when you are nearing the end of your labor and you feel like you need to poop, YOUR BABY IS COMING! Got it? Good. Happy baby pooping!


Wednesday by Leah: Delayed Cord Clamping

It’s standard practice at most hospitals to clamp and cut the umbilical cord very soon after the baby is born. This practice was likely started because you can’t move the baby very far from the mother when the cord is still attached – especially if the placenta has not yet been delivered, which can take up to 30ish minutes after the baby comes out. So no putting the baby under the warmer, cleaning the baby off, weighing/swaddling/etc. We elected to delay cord clamping and cutting. Instead, we waited for the cord to finish transferring blood from the placenta to BabyRoX.

What happens when the cord is cut within 30 seconds of birth? The iron-rich blood in the placenta, which takes a few minutes to transfer to the baby, now has no way of getting to where it is needed. Delaying cord clamping increases the baby’s blood volume by up to one-third (1/3), which helps prevent anemia. Higher iron stores have been found even 3 months after birth in infants whose cord clamping was delayed.

Routine hospital practices are slow to change, but it IS starting to happen as evidence of the benefits of delayed cord clamping mounts.Says one OB/GYN: If the burden of proof is on us to prove that immediate clamping is good, that burden is clearly not met.  And furthermore, there is strong evidence that delaying clamping as little as 30 seconds has measurable benefits for the infant, especially in premature babies and babies born to iron deficient mothers.”

Also, here’s a great video that shows why delayed cord clamping is helpful:

Obviously, each parent must make decisions based on what they feel is best/healthiest for their child. Will a child be seriously harmed by immediate cord clamping? Most likely the answer is no. But why routinely do something that denies a child certain health benefits from the get-go? Furthermore, unless you actively research birth, routine practice, and BEST practice, you wouldn’t even know to ASK for delayed cord clamping at the birth of your child.

What special requests did you/will you make for the birth of your child? What surprised you about your prenatal, labor, and delivery experience?


Food Photography with the Intern Army

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |

– Posted by Mark

Last Monday the Intern Army and I photographed some food in the studio.

Now you’ve probably noticed – we don’t photograph products or food around here that often – so it’s definitely not one of our ‘specialties’. However – this has been a very interesting and educational process – and I’m not even talking about the taking pictures part. That’s actually the easy stuff. The interesting part has been everything we’ve done to really understand what the client wanted as far as the content of the photos, but more importantly, the overall look, feel, and impression left by the photos – along with how to achieve those impressions that we wanted the viewer to have after seeing each photo.

For example – one of the 20 products we shot is a line of different granola. Instead of just showing good, clear, glossy photos of the granola – you want to show people how they might actually EAT the granola. How it might be used and consumed – instead of just taking beautiful photos of a product, you’re taking beautiful photos of the product in a way that’s familiar to the end user. While at the same time, in line with the style of the brand in its current state, or even helping to redefine the brand in a new way. So different from say, being an arrogant wedding photographer/artist that shoots with THEIR VISION and ONLY their vision – you need to really understand and deliver what your client wants and balance that with whatever artistic ego you feel like holding on to.

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |

And there were a lot of different individual pieces and products – so I brought in the Intern Army and we set up three stations in our Studio.

1. Packaging
2. Raw Ingredients
3. Styled (even though they were all technically ‘styled’)

Oh – and this time I was smart enough to hire our Stylist, LoriGami to work on the shoot with us. While my ego might argue that taking/making these photos is hard work – the truth is that the real reason these photos are successful is because Lori did a great job making everything look amazing. When we needed different options, different setups, or new ideas – Lori handled everything. Props, setups, food wrangling, and more.

All we did as photographers was manage the light, and take the photos. Well – of course light is kind of a big deal – especially if you’ve ever tried taking product photos without proper lighting.

See? – we were like a product-photo-factory that day and we definitely knocked out an amazing number of shots in those 7 hours.

And yes – by the end, we had probably eaten more granola that day than we have all year.

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |

Atlanta Commercial Food | Product Photography |


Healing Yourself – chiropractic care | +jo

Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Photographer | Chiropractic Care | Spines

{images and text by +jo}

I know last week I kinda threw out a lot of stuff and one biggie was that I don’t have the greatest health.
I never really have. I’m not saying it’s something as big as cancer but there has always been -something- wrong. Sometimes I do it to myself. Sometimes the world falss on me. And sometimes my body just doesn’t know how work work properly.

I also mentioned I’m using  “holistic/herbal approaches to healing my body.” I figure I should explain that a little more – in case anyone else out there is having health issues and feels like theres nothing that can be done. Because there are options.
There is always a way to heal your body.

Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Photographer | Chiropractic Care | Spines

What’s the one thing you should take care of the most in your life? Your own body. Ya kinda can’t do a thing with out it. I didn’t realize how bad I had thrown my body out of sync until I lost full mobility of my right arm.

It wouldn’t work unless I did something that looked silly and even then my eyes would water from the pain.
No bueno.

I was the teacher’s assistant for a stage combat class and I was supposed to show the class lunging techniques while the professor left the room for a moment.  I had done this exercise a thousand times. Muscle memory was there and I knew how to explain it. My body wouldn’t move. I forced it and it hurt. The students stared and tried to mimic what I had demonstrated… it was all kinds of wrong. The professor came back and saw the fruits of my instruction and shook his head. He fixed my mistakes and I excused myself to do research for a History of Rapier and Dagger paper. During the class break my professor came over and touched my shoulder. “Woah! That’s not right.”

“I know. It’s hurting really bad. I can’t lift it anymore.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“I’m not sure – it’s steadily been getting worse for a couple weeks.”
“You need to go see a doctor” He feels across my shoulders and onto my neck “No - scratch that – you need to see a chiropractor”
“I’m fine, I just need to stretch.”
“No, you’re not. Go talk to M.F. – she sees a great one. Leave. You can’t do anything here today.”
“Are you really arguing about being able to leave class early?”
“nooo…. I’m going.”

And I did. The chiropractic office I went to was amazing. They squeezed me in that afternoon when I told them I couldn’t move my arm. They took x-rays, scanned my spine, adjusted me and put me on a traction/message table. The pain had diminished by more than half. I could move my arm enough to write with out pain.  I was put on the schedule to come back the next day for orientation, view my x-rays and have my second adjustment. I thought it was a little silly, I felt great compared to a few hours earlier. I didn’t see the need to continue going. But trying to be courteous, I went back.

My x-rays made me cry.

By now you know I’m a crazy art person… and being like that means I’ve been studying the human anatomy for, well, ever. I know what the spine is supposed to look like. I know the curves and the ratios and the movement that the body naturally carries. My spine… was not it. My neck was completely straight and tilted forward. {Not the lovely gentle curve angled backwards.} My upper back was curved to the left. {I do not have scoliosis.} I had no idea. I didn’t know. I didn’t feel bad so how was I suppose to know? There’s a lot of technical numbers I could throw out there and I a lot of medical jargon telling you different medical problems are connected to different parts of the spine. That’s for you to decide. But with the second adjustment that night I had zero pain and move my arm completely. Full mobility. Two adjustments.

In the orientation for continual chiropractic care one thing stood out in my mind:
Your brain controls everything in your body. Everything. Your spine is the only thing that connects your brain to every other part of your body. If you have little pot holes here and there along the spine the messages aren’t getting to the end of the road as efficiently as possible. So little minute things will be off, nothing that you can notice, yet they are there just the same. But what do you think happens to your body when there is an entire beaver dam blacking the path? Yeah… that’s what was going on with me. And I’ve always had a lot of problems.

I’ve gone to the chiropractor every week for two years straight. I could list off a billion and one things that regular chiropractic care has helped me heal and overcome. From life long medical problems, simply being sick, surgery and a car accident. My chiropractors are always there helping my body heal in the most natural way possible. By actually letting it work at maximum capacity.