Age: 8 and a half
3 words to describe herself: helpful, caring, giving
Motto: “Work Hard. It will pay off.”
Meet Danica. Her family moved here from Chicago and she had to leave all her friends and family behind. “When I started my new school I made a lot of friends, and that really helped me a lot.” She was nervous about making new friends at first but she had this advice for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation: “Just start talking to people. Just start by saying ‘Hi.’ and saying your name, then ask ‘Do you want to play with me?’” She said from there, she just made friends, and now she really likes living in Richmond.
As a matter of fact, in a few short years, she’s gone from the new kid trying to make friends, to a brave confident kid who stands up for others! “There was this kid at my school who has Autism and some second graders were telling him to swat at a bee. I told him not too because I didn’t want him to get hurt and I didn’t want the bee to get hurt.” Danica said she wasn’t nervous at all about speaking up in that situation because of her love of people and animals.
She’s passionate about animals. All animals, even ones that can potentially sting her! I mean, have you ever met an 8 year old bee-keeper? Her two little sisters haven’t been brave enough to try the beekeeping thing, but Danica can totally understand why people might be a little nervous to jump right into it. “If it’s your first time it might be a little scary because you’re going into the hive when there’s like 40 thousand bees in it. You’re afraid they might sting you but if you have a bee suit on and you have a visor and a hat, the bees won’t come in and sting you.”
It’s not just bees that she’s passionate about. She also loves horses and has worked really hard on her horseback riding skills. “I was proud of myself when I won second place in a horseback riding competition. I tried really hard, and I worked for it and it paid off. Alot.” She’s been training since she was five, but she says that all the hard work is worth it.
When she’s not hanging with bees or horses, she’s working on honing her music skills. She’s been playing guitar since last Christmas. “I play the guitar and I’m really into playing instruments. I take lessons at my favorite music teaching place called Mako Music School.” She’s even performed songs with a group of other kids and has even written her own song. So basically, she’s a total rock star with a heart of gold.
Wanna give your kiddo the opportunity to feel like a super star for a day? After a video interview and custom photo shoot they leave feeling like a million bucks. Add to that beautiful wall portraits to surround them in their home everyday and you're boosting their confidence to amazing heights!
I'm seriously bursting at the seams to share this new project I've been working on. I'm now including video interviews with my photo shoots! This is Georgia. I met her when I did preschool portraits at a local preschool. Her mom was quick to put her school portraits up on Instagram and tag me. Since then I've been following their adventures on social media and when I had this new idea I decided to reach out to her mom. I can't wait to see what other kids have to say in front of the camera. I'm looking for kids ages 4-18 to interview. If you think your kiddo is pretty awesome and has some things to say, hit me up! I'd love to talk to them!
You know that feeling when you're on the verge of doing something awesome. You feel excited and nervous at the same time. You have butterflies in your tummy and you can't wait to see how it all plays out? Well, I've been taking some time to dig in and do some serious work in my personal life and in my business life and I think I'm on the verge of something great. Stay tuned for more deets. I can't wait to share more as it develops! (no pun intended)
I always knew I wanted children, but before having Lydia I couldn’t have imagined how much becoming a mother would change me. Pregnancy came with lots of Opinions – my own and everybody else’s, but I was tenacious and stubborn, and determined to do parenthood exactly the way I wanted to.
I decided to have Lydia at home with midwives, which apparently is still fairly uncommon for first-time mothers. I transferred care at 32 or 33 weeks, which is pretty late, but it felt like the universe conspired to bring me my beautiful midwife and her team. The birth of my daughter happened just the way I wanted it to – gentle, safe, and in my home, with an easy and uncomplicated 10 hour labor. She nursed within an hour, my milk came in 2 days later, and we were off. The first couple weeks came with the typical challenges – very sore nipples, some bruising, and the constant, constant demand for milk. It seemed like she never let go. My midwives would talk about “when she is done…” or “when she falls asleep and pops off the breast…” and she just never did. She never let go except in deep sleep. I didn’t really mind, and I loved the closeness it brought, but early indications that something was not right began to tickle at the back of my brain.
Lydia was born 8 pounds even. She did not gain weight well at all. Our pediatrician is extremely supportive and very conservative when it comes to telling parents how to parent, and she reassured me that as long as things were headed in the right direction, she saw no need to supplement. I read once that a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby takes a stubborn streak that runs bone-deep; it is so incredibly hard. I’m surprised now how little I really knew before we started. I had a breast reduction at 20, and I knew it might impact my ability to nurse, but when my colostrum came in I figured it would all work out. “Low supply” seemed like such an abstract concept, and certainly my deep commitment to breastfeeding would be all I needed. Right?
At 3.5 months old, Lydia had not hit 10 pounds yet. I was feeling deeply stressed and insecure, and I felt everyone in my life looking at me, waiting for me to admit defeat. I took every galactagogue on the market, and several that aren’t. I ate oatmeal three times a day. I massaged my breasts until they hurt with essential oil, and reeked of maple syrup and fennel. Finally I did what I wish I had done immediately, I called a lactation consultant. She was the best decision I made. I started pumping, something I had literally not had time to do “between sessions” since one session bled right into the next. I power pumped when Lydia slept. I pumped in the middle of the night. I meticulously logged my output every time, and I was getting maybe 10mL per pump. I was so defeated, so angry at the bait-and-switch I felt like I got from the universe. One night in the midst of this I stood in the living room and wept to my husband at the unfairness of it all. It shouldn’t be like this – I should be able to do this. What kind of mother can’t feed her baby? Why wasn’t wanting it enough? Why wasn’t I enough?
We started supplementing with a homemade formula I made, which softened the feeling that I was feeding my baby something that was not of myself. Lydia gobbled it up greedily. I was so relieved to see she was getting what she needed, but so guilty and ashamed that this whole time she had been so hungry. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to spend every day unsatisfied. I wonder a lot how that time will end up shaping her personality. At least she never lacked for devotion, even if I couldn’t fill her belly.
Lydia started packing on weight rapidly. My skinny little newborn became a chubby little bucket of sunshine. She was always a happy baby, but looking back it’s plain that something changed in her. Satisfaction and peace radiated from her. And she still loved to nurse for every other reason babies love to nurse – security, bonding, warmth, comfort, boredom. Her commitment never waned. Supplementation was just that, a supplement for what I was already providing her. I got a prescription for medicine that made my output jump from 5-10mL in a session to 1 – 1.5 oz. We used an SNS (supplemental nursing system) for feeds so that she would get formula and breastmilk straight from the breast. That accommodation really helped me find the last bit of peace I needed.
Lydia turned 2 a couple weeks ago, and she nursed that day, just like she does every day. My toddler breastfeeds, for all kinds of reasons, but she no longer relies on me as a sole source of nutrition. Since I don’t need to worry about production or output, we are free to enjoy our nursing relationship for what it is: her touchstone, her safe space, and the most profound intimacy I have ever known. Nursing a toddler is not always easy or comfortable. She gets in my way, she is wiggly and restless, nursing in public becomes increasingly awkward. But I am so grateful to have come this far. It is such a gift to feel so close when so much is changing and so quickly. Being needed, being wanted, in such a physical way keeps me grounded and present and able to appreciate the fleeting details of my daughter that I might miss if I weren’t made to sit still and take her in. I don’t know how long I will get to keep this part, so every bit of it is precious.
*UPDATE: Amanda wrote this blog post back in October, then life kept happening, and I'm just now getting around to posting it. But she let me know that she and Lydia are now 2.5 years into this gig and she doesn't plan to quit any time soon :) Yay! You go girls!