This Is Me | Self Portraits

Helloooooooo friendy friends! Happy Monday, I hope your weekend was WONderful (say “wonderful” in a sing-song voice for full effect).

If you follow me on instagram (as you should…@ginadreherphoto), you may have noticed that I have recently gotten into taking self portraits. I think it is SO important to document your kids’ lives; I don’t have to tell you that. But I think it is equally as important to exist in photos. Your kids (and yourself) will love seeing what you looked like 50 years from now. Trust me. YOU are important. So very important.

I wanted to share how I am able to take these self portraits while being in front of the camera. I have to preface this by saying that I am super new to this, so it’s something I’m still experimenting with and learning about!

Here are the items you will need for a self-portrait:
*DSLR camera with a timer
*tripod
*remote trigger
*good light

Before we get into the “how”…let me explain the remote trigger and what that is about. A remote trigger is a remote (duh) that you can use to make your camera take a photo without you pressing the button on the actual camera. There are ones you can use on your phone (though your camera must have wifi capabilities for that), and there are a million fancy ones you can purchase. But keeping it real: I’m a cheapy at heart…so here’s the one I purchased: Wireless Remote for Canon. Eight bucks, people. Yeah yeah. (First pump for full effect.)

And now, here is how you do the thing:

1 – Find an area with good light (very important, otherwise you will probably be frustrated with your results!). Be creative…if it’s night time, find a good lamp to light your faces. Flashlights could be super fun too! (Might have to try that one!)

2 – Put your camera on the tripod, make sure it’s secure.

3 – Set your camera for the lighting situation. Take practice photos to make sure your exposure is properly set.

4 – Set a person or object where you will be in the photo. This is for focusing purposes. Press your shutter halfway down to focus on that person or object. Once your focus is correct, switch your lens to MANUAL FOCUS. Very important, friends. Otherwise your camera will try to choose the correct focus when it takes the photo and (as anyone who has taken my workshop knows) YOUR CAMERA DOES NOT HAVE A BRAIN. (It’s true, don’t cry.)

5 – Set the timer on your camera to the 2-second delay. Especially if you’re trying to catch action or a certain moment, you won’t want to use the longer 10-second time because it will seem like an eternity waiting for the shutter to go.

6 – Go get in the frame. Set everything up how you want it to be. In the case of my photo above, I began playing with my kid and my dog.

7 – Point your remote trigger at the little infrared sensor on the front of your camera and press the button.

8 – Try to conceal the remote trigger if you can.

9 – You have two seconds to make it awesome before the photo is taken.

10 – Take several shots. One right after the other. I’m never happy with my first one. So I change how I’m positioned, or how my kid is positioned and then take another. Once you’ve taken 7-10 shots, go look at them on the back of the camera.

Easy enough, right? My challenge to you is to take a self portrait and send it to me! (via email, instagram, the comments here, facebook) I want to share some of them on my instagram from you!

This is Me | I’m Mean

I have a confession: I’m mean.

Like…I try not to be, and in most situations, that side of me doesn’t come out. If I’m with friends or clients, I’m generally the nicest version of myself. I would bet money on the fact that most of you would say I’m nice.

…but my kids might tell a different story.

Ren comes up with these “taglines” – at least that’s what I think of them as – little phrases he picks up in random places or makes up that he likes to repeat over and over. It’s usually pretty cute. Here are a few we often hear:

“Sen-SATIONAL!!!”

“Ewwww….that’s buh-scusting!”

“Sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time and that’s okay.” (Thanks Daniel Tiger.)

And when he’s in trouble: “NOBODY talk to me.” (Complete with arms crossed and pouty lips.)

The most recent tagline:

“Mommy, I love you just the way you are…even when you’re mean to me.”

Dangit.

Generally my response is something along these lines: (deep breath) “Ren. I’m not being mean. I am frustrated with you because you are not listening to what I’m asking you to do. If you would just listen, I wouldn’t have to get upset.”

Which is all very true.

But I feel pretty terrible when my tiny little muffin baby nugget is telling me I’m being mean to him. Regardless of the nuances in the definition of the word “mean” in that situation to him and to me.

We are pretty strict parents in general. Adam more-so than I (and he gets more respect from our kids than I do because of that)…but he’s a teacher so I think it’s a little more built-in to him than me. So I often think about how our strictness will affect them as they get older.

I struggle with punishing or giving consequences out of a place of love. Full honesty, it is usually out of a place of frustration. I struggle with trying to explain to my 3-year-old “I don’t want to be yelling at you, I’d rather we have a pleasant and happy morning…but when you refuse to find your shoes when I have asked you 17 times to do so, I have to try a different method and that method is usually YELLING.” He doesn’t want need the whole backstory, and yet I feel like I need to explain my frustration. Adam says they’re smarter than I give them credit for, they know why they’re in trouble. But I always fear that they don’t and they just think I’m being mean and then all I can think is…I’m ruining these tiny human people for their whole entire existence.

I get upset and angry when my kids do things that make me uncomfortable. Or annoyed. Or frustrated. Even if those things aren’t conscious decisions on their part…aren’t purposeful acts of defiance. Example? Why, sure! I’m glad you asked.

My lovely friend Tara gave me a really cute Valentine’s kitchen towel. I hung it on the stove handle, ASSUMING all the beings who live in my home would naturally know that if a towel is WHITE, the idea is to keep it that way. That evening, my 7-year-old spilled some water on the floor. I asked him to clean it up. Distracted by making dinner, I didn’t see that he grabbed my pretty WHITE Valentines towel to start soaking up water on the floor. I realized what was happening after a few seconds, run over and grab it away and yell, “Seriously? Why would you use a white towel on the floor? Now there is dirt on here and who knows if I’m going to be able to wash that out!” As I’m watching him while I’m yelling at him, he is trying to keep a stoic face and not cry (he’s a cryer), blinking, swallowing in gulps. I go put the towel in the laundry, sharply tell him to get some paper towels, and I go back to cooking. And thinking. Cooking and thinking (which can be dangerous for people like me who are less-than-talented at the former)…I realize: he had no malicious intent. He didn’t think ‘Hahahaha. Mommy’s new white towel. I’m going to RUIN it!’ No, of course not. He is a kind, thoughtful child (generally speaking) and would never purposely ruin something of mine. And I jumped all over him because I expected a child to understand/think about something that may have been beyond his years.

I feel like I’m constantly asking myself two questions that I DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWERS TO: Am I helping to mold my kids into responsible humans? Or am I expecting too much of them?

We are strong believers that you can’t let bad behaviors slide. The phrase “choosing your battles”…I get it…but in our house we believe that if they’re allowed to get away with it once, they will think they can do it again. But on the other side, I know that a 3- or 7-year-old child does not have the mental capabilities of an adult and literally cannot make the correct decision in every situation.

It is so hard to differentiate. Especially when you are so emotionally tied up in life with them every day that you truly FORGET to see the big picture.

Oh, you need a snack for the 1,704th time today? Thanks for waiting until I sat down on the couch and curled up with a blanket.

Oh, you can’t reach your cup on the table? I just started the laundry but let me just drop everything to help you right this second.

You wanted a cup instead of a bowl for your snack? It’s fine, I’m not doing anything important, my work can wait.

You refuse to wear jeans to school today but wait to complain about it until we’re already 5 minutes late to leave and I forgot to start the car so it’s going to be freezing and I can’t find my flipping purse so I’m going to be driving illegally and I’m starving because I was too busy feeding you that I didn’t have time to feed myself? Oh, okay. Let’s go change your pants, you darling precious boy.

Do you see what I mean? None of these things are remotely malicious. They just do not have the brain capacity to foresee certain needs and make them coincide with the timing of how I am most comfortable.

So if you’re keeping track here, as a mother:

1 – I am mean
2 – I feel constant guilt.

But we’re gonna end this thing on a positive note. (Woohoo!)

I am not perfect. Perfection is not expected of me. The only perfect being is Jesus, and He’s the one who gives me the MOST grace as a mother. Which is pretty crazy, if you think about it. His view of me is all that matters and as long as I am seeking Him and to be like Him…that is all I can do. Grace and forgiveness, and being able to start each day new…these are the things I cling to.

Also, I am a pretty darn fun person when I want to be. Heck, just the other morning, Sutton and I dropped Ren off at school and snuck into Kwik Shop. We bought a box of cinnamon Life cereal and a cheese stick. We drove to Sutton’s school, parked, cracked open our snacks, and shared a second breakfast and a ton of laughs that I totally didn’t expect to have that morning while we were waiting for the school doors to open.

I have literally invented 2 games from the recesses of my brain that we play constantly in our house. The rainbow game, and the foam pit game. I can give you details before I patent them if you’re interested. My kids are always asking to play these games. If I really was THAT mean, I wouldn’t have invented their favorite games, right?

And I wouldn’t have dance parties with them in their underwear (them, not me) to the Greatest Showman blasting at deafening decibels.

And I wouldn’t build Magnatiles(TM) with them for the 1,951st time.

Or read their bedtime story in silly voices.

Or build forts or blow bubbles or squeeze them until their eyeballs nearly pop out, while begging them to stay little.

I’m mean. Whatever. But I can be pretty fun too. I just pray that my kids aren’t ruined by my crazy.

Oh, and PS – the Valentines towel is ruined. I found it further stained with grape juice the next day. Sorry, Tara. It was a really cute towel.

Love y’all,
Gina

Photo cred: Amanda Marie Photography

This is Me | Motherhood

If you have been with me for all of the This is Me posts, you already know about the long, difficult journey that Adam and I had in becoming parents. Through all of that, that time of waiting, that time of longing, that time of thinking about who I would be as a mom…I don’t think I ever thought about life with a child older than 6 months.

When I dreamt about being a mom, I thought about the baby stage. Sure, there were passing thoughts about shopping with my daughter for her wedding dress, or watching my son play sports. But I never thought about how I, as the MOM, would behave, look, feel, express love, or parent an older child.

Let’s get the cliches out of the way: motherhood is HARD. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever love. You will be driven absolutely insane and simultaneously adore that thing that’s driving you insane with every ounce of your being. Did I cover it all?

So here is my confession. The thing that I feel defines motherhood for me is…guilt.

In a way, I feel like that is also cliche to say. Afterall, there is the #momguilt hashtag that is thrown around these days. But it is something that no one prepared me for as a mother and it’s something that I struggle with more than almost anything else.

I don’t love getting on the floor and playing with toys with my kids. And I feel guilty for that.

I don’t have much time in my life for cooking and meal planning and making sure my kids eat healthy. And I feel guilty for that.

A common scenario in my house is parking my kid in front of the TV because I have two galleries due and haven’t even touched the emails in my inbox. And I feel guilty for that.

Another common scenario is letting my kid spend an hour on his iPad even though I’m doing NOTHING because my brain is at utter capacity and I just need a minute. And I feel guilty for that.

Adam and I tend to value experiences, immediate gratification, and being generous with gifts to our kids over saving money for emergencies and future endeavors. And I feel guilty for that.

Sometimes we punish our kids for acting out due to feelings that I can completely relate to. And I feel guilty for that.

I work. And I feel guilty for that.

My oldest cries when he gets home from school right as I’m leaving for the evening for photo sessions. And I feel guilty for that.

I love my job. And I feel guilty for that.

I need help sometimes from grandparents and babysitters because try as I might, I cannot be there 24/7. And I feel guilty for that.

I can be selfish and exasperated and yell at my kids for small infractions because I have bad days of my own. And I feel guilty for that.

I disagree with how Adam handles certain parenting situations sometimes. And I feel guilty for that.

Not necessarily mom-related, but as a little peek into my guilt-laden brain: I drive to the grocery store and think about the gas I’m using and wonder if I could’ve held out a little longer and made the grocery trip next week instead. Our cupboards aren’t bare after all. Should the money I’ll be spending on gas and food should go towards something else? And I feel guilty for that. (Adam was shocked by this one and suggested therapy, but we’re just gonna use this blog post as therapy for now, ha!)

Tip of the iceberg here, people. That’s just the beginning.

In all my years of dreaming and yearning before I had my kids, of loving these babies I hadn’t even met, of mourning the loss of the one I never would…I had not the slightest inkling about the feeling that would overwhelm my heart and life almost more than anything.

And the truth is…I don’t know what to do about it. None of those things will change. I will feel guilty about all of those things until we grow out of some of them. And others I will probably carry with me forever.

I saw this comic recently:

They will remember that you were there.

So. Full honesty here…I have not a single solution for you today. All I’m doing is laying out my problem. Can you relate? Have you found peace? Or a solution? Or a way to change your thinking? In general, all I do is bask in my guilt. I don’t have an immediate solution or a way to even make it a tiny bit less. I guess what I can do is try to think more about the times that I was there:

Putting my kids to bed every night, each with their own special routine. I was there.

Holding my 3-year-old and staring at his face in awe that I get to be his mom. I was there.

Asking my 7-year-old what his favorite part of school was and praising him for doing well. I was there.

Telling my kids I love them (probably too often for their liking!). I was there.

Explaining compassion to my children and telling them how proud I am that this is a quality they both possess…having those important conversations. I was there.

Having special inside jokes with my boys that no one else would understand. I was there.

Spending time being creative together – drawing, coloring, crafting. I was there.

Being the only person they want when they are hurt or sad. I was there.

And in the end…the guilt…it’s worth it. Motherhood is an imperfect science that affects every woman in their own unique way. This guilt is my burden to bear, but if that is what it takes in order for me to be their mom, then I accept it. I don’t love it, but I accept it.

Now. I’m going to go cuddle with my son on the couch because I feel guilty for taking the time away from him to write this post.

Love y’all, 

Gina

 

 

This is Me | Holy Matrimony :)

Before I get into the thick of it, I just wanted to say again that I have been blown away by the support and encouragement that I have gotten from my last few This is Me posts. So many of you have opened up and told me your stories of losses and of waiting. It is such a personal thing, yet there can be so much hope gleaned from connecting with other mommas of heavenly babies. Love you all.

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Not to be self-deprecating, but it’s not an easy task to think about things I’m good at. There’s photography…and then I couldn’t think of any other talents I have. I’m terrible at cooking. I’m not great at keeping my cool with my kids. I suck at organizing (anyone want to come fix my life??). But then I went back to the basics. I realized something that I think is pretty awesome, and that I’m completely obsessed with: being married. Specifically, being married to Adam Dreher.

I don’t want to come off as bragging. I also don’t want to just flat out say “Hey guys, I’m soooooo good at marriage.” Obviously it’s work and I’ve only been doing it for 11 years…we have a long way to go. But I do think we do a lot of things right. We make each other happy. And neither of us have ever doubted that we chose the right person. Adam is my person. I am his. It’s as true as the stars in the sky. A simple kind of easy love.

Adam’s senior banquet, 2002

We recently celebrated a milestone that is (in my opinion) kind of a big deal. We started dating when I was 16, and I turned 32 this year. Which means that I have been with this man for half my life. Most of my memories involve Adam in some way, and I love our story of finding each other so young.

“Muddin”, 2003

There are so many blogs and articles out there that boast “5 Steps to an Awesome Marriage.” Or “7.5 Ways to Keep the Fire Alive in Marriage.” I’ve read many of those, and they usually make really great points! But I wanted to share a few things that I have learned along the way that I haven’t seen on those lists. These are some real, every day, possibly mundane things that we do in our marriage that apparently work. I’ll post some old photos along the way to keep things interesting. Here we go:

1 – Speaking positively about your spouse when they’re not around. My husband is freaking amazing. This isn’t even an opinion, it’s a fact. He also has a pretty large ego because I tell him this often. Ha! As mentioned earlier, I have just the one talent. Adam is good at literally everything he does. He is the most amazing teacher. He’s my right-hand photographer at weddings. His videos are amazing. He can paint, draw, build, create, inspire, and play with our kids like no one else. I am basically a stick-in-the-mud compared to that guy. And I absolutely love other people to know it.

Similarly, I have heard that it is a common thing when guys get together to start “wife-bashing.” They can commiserate about nagging and being stuck with the old ‘ball-and-chain.’ It can be easy to join in, and even sometimes awkward if you don’t. But it is so very important not to. This goes for wives too, even though I singled out men here.

I think that there is a lot of truth in the idea that you can talk yourself into something. And talk yourself out of something. If you speak negatively about your spouse, you will see more negative. If you say positive things about him, you will begin to see even more positive things. No one is perfect, but focus on the good.

2 – Lower your expectations. Whoa. Really? Stick with me here. Adam has never done a load of laundry throughout our whole marriage. Okay, maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe one. (He claims 3.) But you know what? He doesn’t expect me to do it. He doesn’t get upset when he’s out of clean underwear. He knows how busy I am, he knows that sometimes household stuff falls by the wayside because I’m running a business full time and raising two kids. Also full time. If he runs out of clean underwear, he buys new ones (or wears dirty ones??). If he runs out of clean pants, he digs some out of the dirty laundry. And please don’t tell me to make him do the laundry. I don’t mind doing it…and more than that, this is just what works for us. If I forced that issue, or EXPECTED him to do it, it would cause more issues than it would solve, I’m sure. Adam jokes about the fact that our house isn’t often clean and fully realizes that he is mostly the reason WHY it isn’t clean. We are in the trenches at this phase of our life. It isn’t always pretty, so we don’t expect it to be.

Getting ready to leave for college, 2003

3 – Don’t jump to anger.  Adam loves to stand in my way and force a hug out of me when I’m in the middle of running around like a crazy person to get our kids ready in the morning. Instead of being annoyed because I’m frazzled trying to help our helpless children, I generally drop what I’m doing for the 10 seconds it takes to hug him, because to be honest, it recharges me even more than it probably does him. Say your husband puts his arm around you and ruins the hair you just spent 45 minutes curling. Don’t jump down his throat…think about his gesture. He was making an effort. An effort to make you feel loved and to show that you’re his gal. If his effort is met with anger, he might not do it again. Wouldn’t you rather have ruined hair than a husband who doesn’t put his arm around you? 🙂

4 – DECIDE that you’re obsessed with him. We’ve all heard it…marriage can’t survive on love alone. Love is work. Love is a daily decision you make. Being obsessed with your spouse is also a daily decision. Sure he has flaws (so do I, many MANY flaws) but I decided a long time ago that this man I’m married to is the ultimate hottie, which leads me to my next point…

5 – Tell them when you find them attractive. I remember one time, before we had kids, I was sitting in the stands of one of Adam’s indoor soccer games. He was on the bench, getting a drink before going back in, and it just struck me how handsome he was. So I told him. Then you get the little blush and the “whatever…” but you know how good that makes a person feel? If your husband randomly told you how beautiful you were, you would be floating on cloud nine for the rest of the day, right? Make your husband feel that way. It goes both ways!

Wedding day, 2006

6 – Don’t take them for granted. This is definitely one I have to check myself on sometimes. I have been with this man for half my life…it sometimes just feels like a given that he will be there. And honestly, it feels like it’s his responsibility to be. But I need to step back for a minute…what would I do if he wasn’t there? How would my life look if I didn’t have his help in the mundane every day things that we do together? My kid threw up over Thanksgiving weekend. My immediate reaction was “get Adam.” He cleaned up the floor so I had the freedom to tend to the kid. He checked to make sure I had it covered before he went back to be with our guests. What would I do without him? I can’t even imagine. And this realization is big. It helps me keep perspective and gain appreciation for everything that he is as a person and a husband.

7 – Look good for them. This may be controversial, but I think it’s super important to look good for your spouse! Now don’t get me wrong…Adam has seen me at my WORST (every morning he wakes up to what only can be described as the antithesis of a beauty queen), but in general I think it is crucial to do your part to keep the attraction in your relationship. Adam seems to be obsessed with me (though I think he has rose-colored glasses on), and I like it that way. I know he likes my hair down, so I generally wear it that way. I know he likes when I wear dresses, so if we go out, I’ll (sometimes) put one on for him. If I feel like my double-chin is making an unwelcome appearance, I’ll adjust my posture. Bahahahaha. That one had me laughing out loud. I’m hilarious.

Random date night, 2011

8 – Have freaking fun. You know what they say about all work and no play… It’s true. Think about how your relationship started in the beginning. There was flirting and laughing and butterflies and fun. Adam thinks it’s hilarious to tackle me and pin me down so the boys can tickle me. He also loves to text me inappropriate jokes or grab my behind in the grocery store. Having fun makes you genuinely love spending time together. I am definitely not the type of wife who gets really excited for alone time when the husband is out of town. I crave our time together and he’s literally my favorite person to hang out with. He makes life fun. I once had a friend tell me that she found goofiness an unattractive quality. I whole-heartedly, 100% disagree. Being ridiculous is my fave.

9 – Learn your spouse’s love language and speak it. Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages? If not, click here for a description. I completely believe in love languages (I even put this into practice for my kids). Everyone feels and shows love differently. And if you’re only showing love the way YOU feel loved, you may not be speaking your spouse’s love language. Adam knows that physical touch is important to me and that it makes me feel loved. So he will grab my hand or put his arm around me or give me a hug just because he knows how it makes me feel. Adam’s love language is a little more difficult to decode, but I have found that building him up and telling him when he does something well can put him in a very good mood. If this is a new concept to you, I encourage you to figure out your own love language, as well as your spouse’s. It can be life-changing!

Fall family photos, 2011

10 – Keep God as the center. Adam and I both have our ups and downs in our walks with Jesus, as all Christ followers do. But at the end of the day, we know where each other stands with our beliefs. We’re able to openly discuss moral and spiritual issues with each other and to admit when we don’t know the answer to something. We know that we cannot have the perfect marriage – that doesn’t exist. But by depending on God and turning to him when we are lost, heartbroken, angry, joyous, or grateful, we are able to keep our eyes on the only One who can really make us whole. Our own strength and resolve will fail, but Jesus is the steady hand who gets us through it all.

As I said, I am no expert. But I love love, and I love being married, and if you ask me what I know about, well that’s it. Hopefully this has been enlightening or even just served as a reminder for you to take time to make your spouse feel loved.

Here’s my challenge to you: sometime in the next month, get a babysitter. Take your spouse out on a date. Show him love in the language that HE feels most loved. Snap a selfie of your gorgeous selves, post it on instagram, and tag me @ginadreherphoto. Let’s fill up our feeds with some beautiful examples of marriages that are thriving. And one last thing…sneak a kiss with your husband in front of your kids. They will love it and he will too.

Fall family photos, 2017

Love y’all,

<3 Gina

This is Me | Random Ramblings

I asked y’all on facebook to choose what my next This Is Me post should be about, and you must think I have a lot to say because the Random Ramblings idea won! On my drive home from my photo sessions the other night, I was trying to think what I could possibly say that would be interesting. It’s really hard to come up with a topic out of thin air!

This is what I came up with: I’m basically going to interview myself…let’s hope it turns out somewhat interesting. 🙂

What is something I’m bad at? Wow, what a great way to start this. Singing. Like…so bad. I’m in awe of people who have beautiful singing voices, but I am not one of them. Unless I’m in my car. Alone. And the song is in a very narrow pitch range.

What is something I’m good at? You can’t really answer this question without sounding like you’re bragging, so I’m just gonna brag for a second. I feel like I’m pretty good at marriage. I should say WE are pretty good at marriage, because…you know, there are two people involved here. I still think that dude is fine as heck, and he makes sure that I know he thinks the same of me. High five, babe! (Looks are obviously not all that’s involved here, but your facebook vote didn’t sway me to publish my blog about marriage quite yet.)

What is something I feel lucky for? My family. (Awwwww.) But really. I know I could do it if I had to, but I would be terrified to be a girl mom. I didn’t realize that until I found out I was destined to be a boy mom, but I like dem boys. And I feel like we’ve got a good thing going on: we jive well. We’re good at playing hard and being lazy hard too. Teeeeeeeeam DREHER!

What is a fear I have? Okay this is weird and this is me being a little vulnerable. I think the best way to sum it up is that I fear time. Like, I fear each season passing too quickly. I fear my kids becoming older. I fear getting to be an old lady in my industry and becoming irrelevant. I fear being oblivious to things that I will take for granted in the future. I fear the feeling of my “good ol days” being behind me.

Current favorite song? Thunder by Imagine Dragons. Click here for a little dance break.

Describe my ideal day. Wowza. Are we sure we’re ready for this? Okay here goes: Sleep in, french toast for breakfast, go get a massage and get my nails done, go out to an awesome lunch with a friend, come home and take a nap, snuggle with my kids for a bit, have a babysitter come over and go out on a date with Adam. That’s like my run-of-the-mill ideal day. If we’re going over-the-top-extravagant, it would be flying my family and some friends to Hawaii (along with a babysitter) and lounging on the beach without having to do anything for anyone (that’s what the babysitter is for). <Sigh>

What is something that most people don’t know? I never let anyone besides Adam and my kids see me without makeup.

If you were on death row, what would your last meal be? Chili’s chips and salsa, plus my recipe of chocolate chip cookies for sure. Street tacos. Cheese fries. Dr. Pepper. I think that’s it. OH…maybe some strawberry pretzel pie and mushroom pizza too.

Guilty pleasure? TV. I have shows on while I’m editing photos, and my favorite thing to do once the boys are in bed is watch a show with Adam up in our bedroom. Dr Pepper is also a guilty pleasure. And strawberry Hi Chew candy.

Share a funny story. So I needed to sell my old iMac computer. Adam is the Craigslist guy in this house, so he did everything involved in listing it. He had a guy contact him and ask if he would be willing to do a trade, so Adam asked what trade this dude had in mind. The guy sent Adam a picture of a full grown man’s bear costume. Here’s the kicker. Adam was all in. Like…he wanted to do it and was desperately trying to convince me it was a good idea. (Is this real life?) We went out on a double date that night with some friends, and Adam FREAKING CONVINCED THEM TO BE ON HIS SIDE. What is happening. How are 3 people telling me it’s a good idea for my husband to trade my iMac for a bear costume?!!?!?!?!?!

Tell something about my house. When we bought our house, we weren’t even looking to move. I loved our old house so much! We happened to drive by this house for sale and I thought it was extremely ugly. Adam took it upon himself to look it up online. Long story short…here we are. (He usually gets his way.) It was only half finished, and the finished half only had two bedrooms. I feel like it would’ve been weird for most people to buy a half finished house, but it definitely worked out perfectly for us. We were able to make the unfinished half into my studio, office, and our bedroom. Adam and his dad did almost all of the work…we definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford it otherwise!

A wish. I feel like my selfish wish is to be rid of two things in my life: self-doubt and stress. I’m terrible about both and would be so much happier if I could just chill the freak out.

Fave thing to photograph. Before I answer this, let me just say that I have favorite aspects to every type of session I photograph. But through the years, my favorite thing to photograph has changed. I finally realized that I most like to photograph the season of life that I am in…because I can relate most to the people in front of my camera. So right now, the most fun thing is families with little kids. I love seeing the dynamic between the parents and kiddos, as well as the sibling relationships. But newborns are fun too because…who doesn’t love holding (and/or smelling) a brand new baby?!

Starbucks order. Caramel latte. Sugar free with skim milk if I’m trying to be “good.” ALL the sugar and fat if I’m not.

Weird quirk. Those close to me already know this, but I hate my jawline/chin. This is why I rarely ever wear my hair up, because I feel like my hair hides it! I also prefer to be photographed from a certain side, and I feel like I look like two completely different people from the two different sides of my face.

Favorite thing about Adam. Physical or otherwise? 😉 I really appreciate his ingenuity. If he has an idea (and he always does), he will make it happen. He’s not the type to just dream about something, he usually gets after it. Which may leave us with little in the savings account, but at least we’re having fun! (My parents may cringe at that last sentence.)

Favorite thing about Sutton (he’s 7 years old). He is very loving…he’s not like a super physical, constantly on-the-go, crazy boy. He is compassionate, especially towards animals. He has a tender heart and is very much a momma’s boy. It’s hard because this can definitely have some adverse affects on life (#momguilt), but I am grateful that he is this way.

Favorite thing about Ren (he’s 3 years old). Two things: he and I share the love language of physical touch so we are always up for cuddling. And his sense of humor. That boy is FUNNY. And he doesn’t even have to try. I’m very interested to see how this trait plays out as he gets older.

That was a lot about me, now I want to know more about YOU! One of my goals with putting out more personal posts was letting you all get to know me better. But I mean, I already know me…I want to know you! Choose one (or five) of my questions from above and answer it in the comments below. I can’t wait to read your responses!!

And we’ll end with one of our recent family photos by Amanda Marie Photography because every post is better with a photo!

Love y’all,

Gina <3

This is Me | Part 3

I left off my last post with some extremely happy news.

But there was so much more to the story. So before we talk about that wonderful pregnancy and my beautiful baby boy that was born the next year, let’s talk about the journey of miscarriage.

Miscarriage as a word makes me angry. I felt like it is such a clinical term, and something that no one was supposed to talk about. You’re supposed to be all secretive about your pregnancy for the first 3 months in case of miscarriage. You are constantly fearing being unable to find the heartbeat during a doctor’s appointment because of miscarriage. If you finally do say the word miscarriage out loud, the true meaning just doesn’t resonate to those who have not personally experienced it.

Having been through it, when I hear that someone else has gone through it too…my heart breaks. I literally feel a burning in my chest, and I immediately feel a bond with that person, regardless of any other external circumstance.

The word miscarriage is so common now. People are talking about it more, which is a good thing. I don’t think it should be a secret…that struggle shouldn’t have to be endured in silence. But that word. It still gets me. It doesn’t represent any of the pain that it holds. For me, it means painful contractions that are ripping a baby from my body. To me it means intense, gut wrenching loss. It means there’s a piece of me missing for the rest of my life. A single word cannot describe that.

Let’s talk about the positives for a minute. I had an amazing group of people in my life who were there for me and kept me sane. Adam endured my sadness, my anger, my hopelessness. He physically held me together at times. Rachael. Lindsey. Ginger. They were key players who let me process any and every emotion I was experiencing at any given time. With me every step of the way, and seeming to feel alongside me at least a portion of the pain I was feeling. My small group girlfriends were a godsend. A sweet friend Jess mailed me devotional that had helped her through her unimaginable loss. That gift brought me closer to my Jesus than I’d ever been.

There is no explanation for me holding it together during that time except for Jesus. He knew what I was feeling before I felt it. He comforted me through devotions and prayer. He held me…and He held that sweet baby I lost. I found myself thinking more than I ever had about heaven, and about my baby who was there, with Him, who never would have to experience earthly pain. But who would never know his or her momma until that day, far from now, when we would finally meet.

As ridiculous as it is, I also have to mention my dogs. We were hardcore dog parents before we had kids, and during this time Diesel was the baby-sized bundle (with no sense of humor) that filled my empty arms. Diesel is 12 now, and I am still so thankful for his presence during that time. Our other dog was a Doberman named Axl. He died in early 2011, but he was a gentle giant that let me cling onto his neck when I needed to weep while Adam was at work. He would get into hilarious predicaments (empty fry carton stuck on his leg that gave away his illegal extracurricular activities that went on while we were away) that helped me laugh again.

And now to share the journey that brought us Sutton.

At the sonogram that I’d had during my first pregnancy, the sonographer had discovered a uterine abnormality that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. After I lost the baby, we realized that this abnormality could’ve been the reason I had lost the baby. I was referred to a specialist and ended up having surgery to remove a septum that divided my uterus into two sides. If a baby implanted on that septum, there could be improper blood supply, resulting in losing the baby. So before we went through trying to get pregnant again, I had the septum removed. The surgery was on a Thursday and had to shoot a wedding that Saturday. I was determined to become a mom, so I wasn’t going to let my schedule get in the way of that.

Due to my history, I immediately took fertility medicine again as soon as my doctor told me it was safe after the surgery, to try for another baby.

And once again, we got a positive pregnancy test on the very first month of trying. October 24, 2009, is the first day I found out about Sutton.

At 7 weeks pregnant, I started spotting. Just like last time. I was terrified. I was convinced that it was all happening to me again. I called my doctor and he graciously got me in for a sonogram where we saw Sutton’s heartbeat. A strong 167 bpm.

Sutton Grey was born in June of 2010, and he has been the most perfect gift from God. We needed him more than he will ever know. He and I butt heads a lot because we are so different from each other, but he is the most caring, generous, and loving 7-year-old I know.

We were blessed enough to not have to endure the infertility struggle or another miscarriage again. In February of 2014, we brought our second beautiful son into the world, Ren Adler. (He also gave us a scare around the 9 week mark…I started hemorrhaging blood and went in for a sonogram to find a healthy baby next to a sac of blood that was draining.) He has grown into quite the comedian and he loves to snuggle, which I hope never changes.

You see, Jesus had this plan for our family. He knew all along the pain we would endure, the fire we would walk through, the light that would come, and the kind of people this journey would shape us into. Now that we are on the other side, we can see His plan for us, and we couldn’t ask for anything more.

Thank you for keeping with me this far. This has turned into a much longer story than I planned, but once I started writing, I started re-living it. Thanks for reading.

Love y’all,

Gina <3

 

This is Me | Part 2

First off, thank you SO MUCH to everyone who left comments on my last “This is Me” blog. It’s a little scary to step out of my comfort zone and post something all about ME as opposed to my clients, but y’all made it much less scary and so look at me now! We’re doing it again!

I kept thinking and thinking about what to write about that would be interesting for you to read. At first I thought I should stick in the photography realm and my journey with that, but the nagging topic on my mind is not that at all. It’s something a lot more personal…a lot harder to write.

So here we go…this post is about how I became a mom.

Let me start by saying 2 things. First of all, I’m not adding any photos from my pregnancies to this post because I don’t want there to be ANY misconception that I am currently expecting. That ship has sailed. Secondly…full transparency here…the “momming” has been rough lately. I don’t know if it’s the ages they’re at, or if it’s being around each other 24/7 this summer…but the fighting is INSANE and I am now the proud new owner of about 3 more wrinkles. (Discount codes for Botox accepted and appreciated.) As sad as it is for summer to end, I think we will all benefit from a little routine and a little less togetherness. 🙂

That said, my sons and husband are the most precious things in the world to me. I thank the Lord every day for them and would never change anything about our life. I think my journey to being their momma makes me MORE grateful than I would’ve been if it would’ve come easier. It’s just that…motherhood is hard. But that is another topic for another post.

Let’s dive in. The short version of the hardest part of my life.

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When Adam and I were in college, I remember not knowing if I ever wanted to have kids. I hadn’t ever babysat much, and when I did, it was always older kids. I had zero experience with babies, I knew nothing about them. After we had been married for awhile, a switch flipped. That’s the best way to describe it. One day, I was flippant about if I even wanted kids, the next day I was all “I NEED A BABY NOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!”

Just like waiting to get married til one of us had a “real” job, we also decided to wait to have kids until we could afford a bigger house. About 2 years after we were married, we decided it was time for both things to happen. The house thing happened. The pregnancy thing did not.

Once I decided I wanted to be a mom…that was it. That was my purpose in life. It was all I could think about, and it was more than just “want.” It was longing, it was truly something that God impressed on my heart…I. was. meant. to be a mom.

So when it didn’t happen those first few months, it was rough. As a society, we are used to instant gratification and there was absolutely nothing I could do (beyond what we were already doing) to make this come to fruition. I’m sure I was a joy to live with during this time. I think I’ve blocked a lot of it out, but I do recall quite a bit of crying. Poor Adam.

We hadn’t told many people that we were trying for a baby. As desperately as I wanted that positive pregnancy test, I also desperately wanted to surprise my parents and Adam’s parents with baby news that would hopefully be completely unexpected. So this was mostly a silent struggle, and it was very hard.

Here’s where I’m gonna try to really condense the details.

Around Christmastime in 2008, we finally made an appointment with my OB-GYN. After a few months of tests (in “trying-to-get-pregnant” time, months feel like years), my doctor put me on a fertility medicine.

We got our first positive pregnancy test the first month taking the medicine, on April 1, 2009.

I don’t even know how to tell you how we felt. Right now as I’m typing, I can still feel that unimaginable joy. Your heart beats faster, your ears are ringing, you’re scared to believe it’s true but there is real, tangible evidence in your hands (in the form of FIVE pregnancy tests). We were beyond thrilled…and this new life inside me consumed my every thought.

I didn’t have many pregnancy symptoms. No sickness or anything like that. I went into my first appointment and we had a sonogram. Due to all of my calculations, I should’ve been 9 weeks along. Adam couldn’t come to the appointment because he had to work, so my mom came with me. Mom and I saw the tiny little bean, with the heart flickering and it was amazing. However, the baby was only measuring at 7 weeks even though (due to the fertility medicine process) I knew exactly how far along I should be.

I didn’t know a ton about pregnancy at this point, so I just figured that some babies measured smaller and some measured bigger. I didn’t dwell on it, and at 10.5 weeks, Adam and I announced publicly that we were expecting. So much fun.

I believe it was exactly the day after we announced our news that I started having some spotting. Now, for the task of condensing the saga of the most painful weekend of my life.

May 25, 2009. The spotting got worse and I started having terrible cramps that I later came to realize were contractions. I have one particular moment burned into my brain, where I was sitting on the couch in our basement with Adam, watching a movie. I was writhing in pain that would come in waves every few minutes. When you are giving birth, there is pain, but it is pain with a purpose. In this moment, I felt like my insides were being torn apart and I didn’t know why. All I knew was that something was terribly wrong, and this dream of mine that had finally come true was being taken from me.

I had been on the phone with my doctor on and off through that weekend. She had basically left it up to me as far as if I wanted to go to the ER or not…but she told me that if I was miscarrying, they wouldn’t be able to do anything other than confirm it. The pain was so unbearable that I told Adam I couldn’t endure it anymore, so we went to the ER. They did a sonogram and couldn’t find a baby anymore, much less a heartbeat.

The years have dulled my memories of that night. But a few things remain very vivid. One is that I had to get a special shot in case the baby’s blood had mixed with mine and in case our blood types were incompatible. That strangely made things more real. The fact that this was a real person. With real blood, that was different than mine. Another memory I have is sitting for so long in silence in that room with Adam while we were waiting for them to finish paperwork. I remember looking at a wall that had a tacky floral wallpaper border and thinking, “It’s okay. I’m okay. I can get through this. It’ll be fine.”

But that’s not at all what the days and months ahead were like. I wasn’t okay. The day after our ER visit was Memorial Day. Adam and I went out to Lake Afton with our dogs, Diesel and Axl. I sat on a blanket and made a phone call I’d been dreading. I called my mom. She answered the phone in a happy voice, and it was so hard to form the words to tell her that I had lost the baby. She wasn’t going to be a grandma anymore. I remember the phone call was short…both of us processing.

The rest of that year was hard. Beginning the weekend after Memorial Day, I had a wedding to photograph every Saturday, all the way until September. So I was busy, with little downtime. I saw pregnant people everywhere and always tried to judge how big my belly would’ve been in comparison to theirs, if my baby had lived. When my December due date came and went, I mourned. I was supposed to have a baby in my arms that day. And instead I was left wondering…was it a boy or a girl? What day would his or her birthday really have been? I still to this day, see or hear about friends’ kiddos who have birthdays in December of 2009 and think about how my first baby would be that exact age.

But there was something that made things a little easier. I was pregnant again.

To be continued…

Hey Guys, This is Me!

Alrighty, here we go! Kinda scary to push the PUBLISH button on this one…

I have been wanting to start bringing more of myself to this blog, sharing more of my life and letting you guys get to know me (and me hopefully get to know you through some blog comments!) along the way. Thus far, this has been strictly a photography blog for my clients and friends (I feel like my clients are my friends, and most of my friends are my clients so it’s all the same, right?!). I want to bring more content to you and share life with you…funny moments, sad moments, all the crazy moments that come with being the momma of two hilarious boys.

So I figured to start things off, I would share a little of my story. As a side note, I would love any and all questions, comments, input, blog topic ideas that you have…so comment away! Clog up my inbox with your ridiculousness! 😉 Be sure to connect with me on facebook and instagram too, cause those are my jam.

I’m a born and raised Kansas gal. I’ve never lived anywhere else! My parents are awesome and are still living in the house I grew up in with their 3 dogs. I have an older brother who moved to Colorado after college, married my beautiful sister-in-law, and has two super cute kiddos. We try to visit when we can!

I met this cute boy named Adam Dreher when I was 14 years old. He was my brother’s friend from church and I instantly had a crush on him. It was a few years before he took much interest…but long story short, he finally got his act together, figured out we needed to be together, and we started dating when I was 16. Cheese alert: I immediately knew he would one day be my husband. #truth

Adam and I at my high school graduation. Check out that hot college guy. 🙂

After I graduated, I moved to Manhattan and attended Kansas State University for two years. We did the long distance thing during that time and it was terrible. My black ’97 Chrysler Sebring (NOT the convertible kind…in case you were wondering) got lots of miles and a little wear and tear because I drove back to Wichita almost every weekend. When I didn’t, Adam came up to see me. It was so hard being apart during those years. But during the second semester of my sophomore year, I got a job as a second photographer for a Wichita wedding photographer named Marcia Morrison. So now I was driving back every weekend both to see my boyfriend, and to photograph weddings.

Marcia saw my college film class portfolio and <so amazingly> took a chance on me! The first wedding I shot with her, I was actually the THIRD shooter…and it was a good thing, because most of my photos were out of focus and I didn’t know how to use a flash! (Much less, how to shoot in manual mode..holy moly.) She gave me lots of instruction after that first wedding, and I worked with her for a year and a half, shooting countless weddings alongside her. I am so grateful to her for all of that experience.

When I was 19 years old, and on the same day that Marcia hired me, Adam proposed. It was so special and beyond perfect…a memory I will love forever. Downside: we had to wait a year and a half to get married. Both of us were still in school and we thought it would be the responsible thing to do, to wait until one of us had graduated and gotten a real job. I’m so glad we did, but man, that year and a half was basically torture! Almost up there with waterboarding. I kid, but it sucked.

The summer after he proposed, I moved back to Wichita. I enrolled at WSU and planned to finish up my art degree there. I rented a tiny studio apartment for $360 per month, and got a job as a bank teller while continuing to shoot weddings with Marcia on the weekends. About a week before classes were to start that fall (my junior year), I had a life-changing freak-out moment: rent was due, I needed to save money for a wedding and a honeymoon, I had to pay for classes, hold down two jobs and go to school full time. I’d also started doing photography on my own and was trying to build up my portfolio. I get anxiety just thinking about it. Gimme a second…………………………………..k. I’m good.

I decided to take a break from school. After all, by this point I had realized that photography was my passion, and I knew I didn’t need a degree to pursue it. So I set out on a path that felt RIGHT: I was going to marry the love of my life (if you’re following…that would be Adam), I was going to pursue my dream of being a photographer by starting a little business, and I was going to hold down a “real” job to pay the bills. Done and done.

Just 5 days after I turned 21, Adam and I were married on June 3, 2006 and it was one of the best days of my life! No doubts in my mind, we belonged together and finally got to start the life we’d been dreaming of since we were teenagers. We had bought a house, we had two awesome dogs, and I was getting more photography clients each week. Adam (being the brains of the operation) always told me that once I could afford to pay for our health insurance, I could quit my “real” job and go full time with my photography. Just four months after we were married, that dream became a reality! In October of 2006, Gina Dreher Photography officially came to be, and what a ride it has been since then.

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If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you! Good work (high five), and way to stick it out. I have so much more I want to share with you. The story of how we came to be parents is a tough one, but I definitely feel led to share that one. There will surely be tears…both sad and happy as I type that part of our story.

I also want to share with you my day to day. The mundane and boring, the exciting, the weird, the crazy, the ADVENTURE. One thing I can say about our life is that there is always adventure. Lots of yelling at the kids to stop fighting and enjoy the adventure…but still, adventure.

Love y’all, 

Gina <3

Parker | Senior

I don’t do a whole lot of seniors anymore, but I was beyond excited for this session! Parker is my nephew and he drove in from Ohio with his mom and sister at the beginning of this month to hang out with us all for a week and to get his senior photos taken. Parker’s mom and my husband are brother and sister…I started dating Adam when I was 16 and Parker was not even 1. We have some really cute photos of Adam and I with Parker and his sister Emily back in those good old days. I’ll post a few at the end because we had to recreate them, of course! But first, here is my handsome nephew!

So here is Adam as an 18-year-old with a 1-year-old Parker on the left. And Adam as a 33-year-old with a 16-year-old Parker on the right!

And then 16-year-old me with baby Emily on the left, and 32-year-old me with 15-year-old Emily on the right. So fun!

For a little extra enjoyment, here are some sister pictures that Adam’s two sisters (Jessica and Chrystal) and I did during Parker’s session. We like to think we’re funny.