2013 :: 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One thing that has been sorely neglected this year is my blogging, both personally and professionally. It just hasn't happened. This was both due in part to lack of time and some negative criticism. I'd be the first to tell you I'm sad that I let the latter effect my writing in anyway, as there are so many memories from this year that will undoubtedly be lost.

I can't promise that I'll return to writing with the same frequency as years past, as I just don't find the same time to think reflectively at home, at least, not yet, but I really hope that will change in 2014!

This past year has been an explosion of change.

An absolute explosion.




In all honesty, I look forward to a quiet 2014. 

A good year nonetheless, but quiet.

It begins.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Some days your life changes in very unplanned ways, other days like Friday, December 20th, were counted down for weeks, months or years.

It was a dream realized.

I left Capella, 8 years in the corporate world, 7 years downtown Minneapolis.

I am self-employed.

I've tried writing this post several times and have put it off several times, but I have to write something, even if I don't feel like it will do justice.

What began out of desperation, just short of 5 years ago, when Isaac was born and the idea of returning to work in a position I despised, at a company I disliked even more, has now allowed me to stay home with my children. 

In December 2008, we combined our Christmas bonuses to purchase a Canon Rebel XS and two kit lenses. Reading back, I was surprised to read that it was Tony who teared up when telling me it was what we should do with our money and how proud I was of those 10.1 mp. Two quotes immediately stood out to me:

In what may prove to be the worst money management decision that we have made to date . . .  

It's the most illogical decision we've ever made, but I think that the results will far outweigh the cost!

What I didn't anticipate however was that my pictures wouldn't magically appear professional with just the click of the button. I shot on Auto for a few weeks, but grew increasingly more frustrated, discouraged and ultimately embarrassed, so I put it away.

The pieces didn't start to come together until after I met Gina for a maternity session at 29 weeks pregnant, while she was offering studio mini sessions. It baffles me how much God has accomplished in our lives through our friendship in the last 5 years. Truly baffles me.

With her encouragement and our budding friendship, which only took me a few months to realize that even though we weren't hanging out weekly, the girl kept calling me daily, my desire to pursue photography was reignited. We went from high school rivals to a genuineness and authenticity that astounded me. I honestly never believed a friendship could be so beneficial, uplifting and challenging. From the beginning we didn't stay surface level, we were honest and that honesty has been nurtured since.

The single largest catalyst was when Isaac was born. I was absolutely beyond desperate to change the course of our lives and cried out to God to hear my heart, as I was not in any position to do so. Just prior to having Isaac, my pay had been cut in half, leaving me to change jobs at 5 1/2 months pregnant. Tony and I weren't living extravagantly, but suddenly the income we relied on had been stripped away. Our need to budget became acutely painful and we slashed our bills severely. Our grocery budget for our little family was $30 per week, for all meals. There were some days that I ate a can of tuna for lunch, and that was it.

And there I was, with the pipe dream of starting a photography business.

Tony appealed to my Mom, who was already helping us by watching Isaac at daycare, without charge. He came to my Mom and stressed how much I was floundering and the depth to which I hated being away from Isaac and specifically my job. My Mom in turn picked up an extra daycare child and bought my first nice lens, a 16-35mm, allowing me to shoot sessions indoors.

Tony believed in me, especially when I didn't.

There were so many times I questioned why I was pouring myself into something that clearly would never come to fruition.

But Tony never once, in action or word, ever cast doubt on my dream. He never once uttered a word to undermine my efforts. I find it absolutely astonishing that, even through some truly dark days, he didn't ever lob an underhanded comment. 

I had so much to learn, but Gina helped me at every step, from creating my business, emails, client interactions and letting me 2nd shoot for her. It wasn't a mentor relationship. Our friendship strengthened nearly every day and I'm so grateful that God paired us.

Without a shadow of doubt, I wouldn't be here today without Tony, my Mom and Gina.

I'd be remiss not to mention the dozens of friends and family who early on and have continued to put their faith in me. This blog has also played a part, as I've met several blog readers, some of who have even become real life friends. Thank you.

Last Friday I cried several times.

Not once was it out of sadness.

There wasn't a tinge of bittersweet.

I cried out of feeling inferior to receive such a lavish blessing, or I should say blessings, year after year. Oh, their were hardships of course, but so many more blessings.

I cried to remember how much effort it took to finally be able to say, "I quit." The late nights that started with earlier mornings to edit essentially around the clock. There were months where I didn't get a day or night off.

I cried to think of how much our marriage has survived, how thin Tony and I have stretched ourselves, but especially our relationship, in order to be in the house we are, and the ability to say that I am a full time photographer. I thank God that through it all we chose to find our way back to each other.

I cried to reflect, to actually let my heart hold the weight of so many memories that led to this day. The depth of the panic, desperation, failures, pessimism, all of which shrank in comparison to the effort, encouragement, successes and wonderful connections that led to this day.

I don't know what the future holds.

But I'm not afraid of it.

God has shown His provision and faithfulness, despite our lack of understanding of the circumstances, and I trust in His plan far more than the ones we put together.

I quit, but it only just begins.

It's the final countdown.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our paper chain is looking pretty sparse.

I'm daydreaming about sunlight.

And today I can say that it's my final corporate Monday.

Four days.

In four days, I will walk away from security and pursue the goal that God put before me just short of 4 years ago.

It's a Choice

Monday, December 9, 2013

Last week, as the temperatures plunged, Tony and I knew we were dealing with a bad battery in the car. Unfortunately, story of our lives, we were a little short on time to deal with it.

You know those nights that make you want to cry, so you just have to laugh? That was my Thursday night. Leaving the bus to seek out my car at the Park & Ride, Tony sent me a text "I hope the car starts." I did as well and as much as I prayed it would, it was deader than a door nail. I quick checked in with Tony, who was on his way to Menomonie to ref a college game. He asked if I needed him to call around for help, but with jumper cables in the trunk, I was certain I'd have no issue.

I'd already parked the car facing front out, so I just popped the hood, pulled the cables out and approached the line of vehicles waiting for the next bus, which hadn't arrived yet, to unload. The first guy didn't seem like he'd be one to help, so I moved on to the big truck that had just pulled up, summoned all of my cheerfulness in a smile and asked for the driver's help. Since it was so cold, he did seem a little hesitant, but when I gestured to just how close the car was, cables out and hood popped, he was a little less reserved. He had his teenage son in the truck, who gave him a little grief for not having his jacket on, but within just a minute, we had his truck hooked up to the car.

After just a short amount of time, he asked me to try it and I knew it wouldn't be charged enough yet, but I hopped in and gave the keys a turn. Sure enough, the engine still didn't turn over, so I jumped back out again, shutting the door. As my mind replayed the door shutting, I knew instantly that I'd just locked my keys in the car, including my purse, wallet and phone. It was just as I told my helper this, that his wife came walking up, getting the synopsis in less than 30 seconds. His wife didn't seem put off at all by the situation and instead offered right away to drop me off at my Mom's. I quickly called Tony on her phone to let him know the updated situation and to confirm that the hideakey, was in fact not hidden [I hate when that happens!].

So, I hitched a ride with the family of three, chatting the three minute ride to my Mom's. Only really learning that the wife loved photography and me telling her my business site. I didn't even ask their names, although neither did they ask mine!

I then took my Mom's vehicle back to the P&R, with her phone, called 911 and had them send out a CSO. I was so thankful to be sitting in the warmth of her vehicle, opposed to just outside my car, as the temperature was barely above 0. The Community Service Officer had a little trouble with unlocking the door, but once he got it, I then informed him of my next issue: the battery. He was quick to inform me that he couldn't jump the car, but when I spelled out for him that all I need was supervision to apply the jumper cables he was quick to help. It took a solid 7-10 minutes, but we finally got it jumped!

I then went back to my Mom's to pick up my Stepdad, to bring him to the P&R to get the Jeep! My plan was to go straight to a battery store by myself, but my Stepdad insisted he come with. He did more than that too, with paying for the battery, although I greatly protested!

I type all this up, because the factors of the night were so frustrating and yet, with my interactions with the family of three, the CSO and the two high school kids who were best friends at the battery store, the night was still all together fun. It completely highlighted the number of choices we get to make regarding our attitudes and the impacts that they have on more than just ourselves!
[picture from earlier in the week, as I wasn't quite this happy! ;)]

Well, that's different.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I think I've mentioned it before, but the night we went out to do the pizza pictures, we met our first neighbor. Tony and I cautiously introduced ourselves, as we literally found out that day that our mortgage had been denied and we weren't sure any longer if the house was in our future.

Mike had his two children on the sidewalk with him and within a minute, Isaac and Ben were fast friends. Ben is 5 years old and obliged Isaac when he asked to see his toy. You, as well as I know, that as far as preschool boys go, from there on out they were practically best friends. Progressing from playing with the toy, they were then playing tag in the front yard, declaring who was fastest through excited screams.

I listened with my heart guarded, as Tony and Mike talked, establishing a common desire for pond hockey on our backyard pond, as my eyes drank in the sight of Isaac and Ben chasing after each other. Ezra and Josie kind of pretended they didn't know what was going on and will not think twice about when they first met. I was having a pretty hard conversation with God, trying to refrain from berating Him for this memory. Asking if He was only trying to make the uncertainty of the house harder to handle. I didn't know Mike, and I didn't know his son, but I saw the opportunity for my boy to have a close friend.


Last night we had quite the snowfall and after dinner, as I was surveying the mess of our house [most of which is still in boxes], the doorbell rang. I knew there was pretty much only one option, so without much more of a pause to confirm I told Isaac that it was Mike and Ben. Mike asked if Isaac could come down to play with Ben in the snow as he blew out their drive and that they'd come back to do ours.

You guys, I think the State Fair has only made Isaac happier.

He had a friend.

At his door.

Specifically asking for him to play.

I have so many hopes for this house of ours and all of the changes we've gone through to get here and in just one evening I can see that the ball is rolling.

God is so faithful.



Monday, December 2, 2013

If you follow me on IG, you know that we had our last goodbye at our old house this weekend, with the final push before handing over the keys today. While we were there, Tony had the boys come on inside so that he could rearrange the vehicles in the driveway. Isaac starting whining as soon as he got in the house that he wanted to watch his Daddy, when in mid whine, he stopped and said "Oh yeah!" And off like a rocket, I found him peering out the window . . . just like I had a 1,000 times previously. It's a memory I hope I will always endear of this house.

Even though hockey season is upon us, Tony and I are very hopeful that with the Mounds View house work put behind us that we'll be able to enjoy more time as a family, resulting in more new memories in our new house!

ps :: 16 days to go.


Friday, November 22, 2013

I haven't had the opportunity really to spend any time with the 'stache, so this might be news to most of you, but Tony is participating in Movember this year. Their team is being lead by my stepbrother and for how impressively quickly Tony is able to grow in facial hair, it was about time his ability was used for good!

Tony gave me four variations, including big mustache, medium mustache, Hitler mustache and Fu Manchu to choose from. There was absolutely no winner. It was a lose/lose/lose/lose situation, so I just told him to have fun with it!

And so he did.

I give you the Fontaine Fu Manchu.

If you'd be so kind, he's also sporting a huge goose egg, with nary a single donation.

You can donate to the Movember movement through Tony's link here: http://us.movember.com/mospace/7437033

Girls Weekend

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This past weekend was my annual girls' weekend with my college teammates. I have yet to attend a weekend for the full duration, but considering how touch and go it was for awhile, I'm super glad I was even able to do the almost 24 hrs I was able to this year!

It's amazing how a lot bit of conversation & a little bit alcohol can really bring out what is on your heart. These girl friends and I have shared some of the closest moments of our lives together, or at least, the 18-22 year old version of them and have seen a lot of growth in our 10 years of friendship.

I felt like a babbling idiot through fair portions of our evening though, as we crossed into conversations that I didn't feel prepared to have. About spouses, and children, the past and the future. I hadn't developed a firm opinion about some things that I shared, as I hadn't even fully addressed them until the words, the poorly poorly chosen words were on my tongue.

It didn't take long to realize how many insecurities I've been brushing under the rug lately.

Things that I just haven't had time to deal with.

Like how little Tony and I have been seeing of each other.

The fact that I only get 1/2 a year with Isaac before he goes to Kindergarten. I feel like I've worked every minute of every hour of his childhood and am feeling a lot of guilt that he'll have the shortest time with me. [assuming of course that spending time with me would be a good thing!]

Immense pressure to reach new clients, who will have new friends, who will become new referrals, because omgosh, it's sink or swim time!

I felt like such a mom. Such a completely unattractive, wearing what was clean, absolute fuddy duddy Mom.

The best part is that two of the listed above resulted in my leaving my business cards with the male servers we had throughout the night.


Hello! I'm still a woman and here I am leaving my business cards around.

I'm sure they got a good laugh about the "happily married" woman giving her number out.

Thank goodness, the one saving grace, is that my number actually isn't on my card
[I decided long ago to omit it, because I'm rarely, if ever, available by phone call!]

So, Girls Weekend 2013 will be remembered as the year I was giving my number out.


Change is Coming

Monday, November 18, 2013

A month from Wednesday will be my last day at Capella. Unfortunately, in this moment, typing that doesn't send me into unfettered leaps of joy like I've imagined ever since I allowed myself to dream of it. Buying this house, well, it completely changed the landscape of my self-employment, by chunking off a significant amount of savings.

Couple that with the fact that I've hit a definite lull in inquiries and bookings, peppered with several "You're out of our budget responses [even though my pricing is posted on my site!] and I'm feeling scared.

Naturally, instead of buckling down on our budget, I feel like Tony and I are doing a yo-yo diet approach. I'll try to do a spending freeze and then, it's like my only thought process is "all the monies will be gone, so spend now! Spend!" Super healthy, clearly.

I haven't been great at blogging this year, either personally or professionally, so I hope that with an increase in both, I'll start to see somethings pick up!

I hope.

On the flip side, it seems like the perfect storm to actually crack self-reliance, because you'll note, no where above did I write "so I've been praying without ceasing that God will guide our decisions." Instead, I wrote out and glazed over how I think I'll fix it.

Miriam: Seven Months

Friday, November 15, 2013

Miriam, you're on the move now! You're not quite past army crawling, but you get where you want, with speed. You had your first taste of food and managed to swallow a bit of it. Additionally, you've even scaled the step in Grandma's living room . . . just like your brothers!

Baby girl, you simply amaze us.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Whether through Instagram [leahfontaine] or in blog comments, I've received several requests over the last few months to share the sources of Miriam's headbands and bows.

Here is a small sampling.

A Little Town Boutique
photo 1 (2)

Dear Grace and Parker

A Little Lady Shop

Forest and Fawn [I think I have close to 15 of these ]

ps :: I stumbled across all of these shops on instagram and many of them have been gracious enough to send my headbands, or have included extras in my orders in return for pictures, lest you think I've invested too much money in accessories. ;)

pps :: My heart hurts over how fast the last 7 months have flown by, after reviewing all of these pictures for this post. We're so blessed.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

:: I really miss being able to just come to this format and lay.it.all.out.there.

:: Remember the excitement Isaac had in sharing his new brother and then sister, with every single human being within earshot at the grocery store/Target/doctor's office? Insert "We have a new house!" and he's back at it.

:: Tony's participating in Movember this year on my step brother's team and I resisted the urge to tell him to keep it conservative. He asked me my opinion regarding three different options. Honestly, not one of them is "better" than any of the others, so I just told him to have fun with it. So . . . he's going with a fu manchu.

:: While we've all acclimated pretty quickly to the new house, I still find myself walking upstairs with the hallway light off, entering our room and using my phone light to guide my way. It takes me a few seconds in our room before realizing I can turn ON the light, because I don't have a baby sleeping in my room!

:: Additionally, this morning, for the first time in my life I walked into the garage following our first snowfall and was able to leave without scraping the snow off of my windshield. Insane.

:: We've now had family over twice to our house and have chalked up 4 days of actually being a family. We need so much more time together. I only have 17 more family/engagement/mini sessions and 5 weddings to get back to clients and then I'll get a little time to relax. [ready.set.go]

:: Only 43 more days until 12.20. But in the meantime, I have to get my wisdom teeth out. Yikes!

:: The boys have been fighting like cats and dogs lately. Actually, probably worse, because Lucy and Allie get along a lot better than them! That said, just the other night ago, I stumbled across this scene while going in to kiss the boys goodnight. That's Isaac, sleeping on Ezra's bed . . . those abnormally long legs though? Those are Ezra's, because he's at the bottom of the mattress.

:: Miri has just been continuing to light up our lives. I'm kind of in denial she's almost 7 months old. I feel like I've gotten to spend the least amount of infant time with her, but before I get caught up in mourning the lost time, I'm quick to remember I'll at least have 2014.

:: I say at least 2014, but I'll be honest: I'm a little scared of what lies beyond. I don't foresee myself reaching Rock Star Photographer status and at some point, I'm sure there will be another vocation change. Those uncertainties I'm good with, past those though, well God's got it figured out anyways. It's not for me to worry.

:: I've been too stressed to take care of myself lately. I don't remember the last time I actually ate a meal I made. With Tony working every night on the Woodlawn house, it was very easy to resort to PB&j's for the boys or something similar, while I went on grazing through out the night. While I haven't been completely unhealthy choices, I'm very unhappy with my skin and the amount of my wardrobe that actually fits. So, starting yesterday, I'm back on track. I know I'm disciplined, but it's just got to be a habit again!

:: Speaking of the Woodlawn house: WE HAVE RENTERS! God is so good. I can chalk up very few times I actually felt like God was speaking to me, but He distinctly impressed upon me to lower the rent just $55 to get into a different search bracket and viola, we have well qualified renters in for 28 months.

Bittersweet :: Woodlawn Drive

Monday, October 28, 2013

This weekend we had an all hands on deck work party to give Tony a little boost. He's been busting his butt trying to squeeze out every last drop of the day to ready our little house for rent. What he's been able to accomplish is amazing, but the man can only do so much after work, without seeing his family for days on end.
I've tried to remain very neutral about this house since purchasing our new house, because just as it's turning out to be, it's a little catch 22. It's like a piece of static lint. You keep picking it off and yet there it is, just clinging to you. I didn't want to be sad saying goodbye, because it wasn't rented and it wasn't sold, and here she now sits, our problem.

That said, being in the rooms of the house that took us from newlyweds to a rambunctious family of five, was extremely bittersweet. At every turn I wanted to see the face of one of my children. It's a weird sort of mourning to be in your first house, removed of your belongings and your family.

We painted the walls the same color as we did the main floor bathroom and I love it. I love it so much I wish we'd done it two years ago. Would a can of paint have made me more content in this house? I have so many blog posts loathing this house, filled with way too many hopes for a house with more space. And yet . . .

Again, it's just a very odd spot to be in. Call it buyers remorse, hindsight 20/20 or just a little scared to see how the future plays out, but I miss this house. We feel like we are moving in the direction God wants us. We knew how big of a change it would be to remove ourselves from the Cities, making outer edge suburbs a destination. It's just such a huge difference.

Primarily though, I miss feeling like a family. As I've said, Tony is spending every spare second at the house, finishing the basement and everything else he can think of to get us a renter. Since Oct 11th, we've spent my birthday together & the night we did our family photos [after which Tony went to the house] . . . and that's the extent of our family time, save for 30 min to an hour here or there.

I hate to be second guessing, as I know it will only be a matter of time to make our new house feel like our home, but my heart aches for it right now.

A few have questioned the details, so I'd love to share the listing. Please feel free to circulate, it'd help for sure! Mounds View house listing.

Miriam: Six Months

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Miri, you continue to be the worlds sweetest little love. You bless so many with your dimpled smile and dancing eyes!

The verdict is still out who you most resemble. There are so many votes divided between me, your Grandma Dawn and your Grandma Julie.

Your brothers continue to adore you to pieces.

Did I stress adore enough?

While you're a little bit of a Daddy's girl.

I can't believe it's already been a half a year since I was holding you in the hospital.
photo 1

A half a year.

This is Thirty

Monday, October 21, 2013

 and secretly, I think I like it.

Yesterday was full of laughter, stress, tears, happy feet, chocolate, coffee, friends, family, wine, candle lights on the porch and a very content heart. It wasn't perfect. It started way too early and escalated way too quickly, but our little family life is pretty much amazing.

As I approached my 30th birthday, I grew apprehensive and a little, almost, offended [if that even makes sense] I think, to be done with my 20's. I can't pinpoint why, but in the last week or so before my birthday, my feelings towards the year softened. As a friend wrote on my instagram, it's the end of the decade of my babies, but also the years that I found love, married and established a career. I don't know what the next decade looks like, but I know it has a pretty firm foundation of awesome to improve upon.

The Fontaine's Are Home

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On March 30, 2007, Tony and I, short of our first anniversary, moved into a 1120 sq ft, 2 bedroom, 1 bath 1 1/2 story house. Our little Mounds View house, with it's almost one acre yard, saw 1 dog, three cats, 4 pregnancies and welcomed three precious little ones home.

But, something remarkable happened over the weekend.

On Oct 11, 2013, Tony and I, just past 7 years of marriage, moved our little family several miles from all the conveniences of our centrally located home and gained, this.
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse

I can't lie and say that it's been without worry or downright fear. Our consistent prayer throughout the process was that regardless of how badly we wanted to be here, that we knew it wouldn't be worth it if God wasn't with us.

There were so many little things that led to this purchase though, that while we haven't worked all the kinks out yet, we feel confident that He intended this home for us.

It all started after searching for homes to rent. We knew that our time in our Mounds View home was dwindling and assumed that after 4 years of paying down debt, that the wisest thing for us to do would be to rent our house to rent a larger home. Unfortunately we couldn't find anything reasonable. We were working with Tony's cousin, who is a realtor, and asked that he put together a list of homes. The first day we received the list, our home was on it.

The list of must haves for a home to be considered was pretty short on my end, but they were extremely specific.
1). An abundance of natural light, preferably via North to South orientation.
2). A porch
3). At least 4 bedrooms.

This home had all of my hoped for must haves, so Tony and I contacted Brian to see when we could go see it. Brian said sure thing, but that it'd have to wait until he returned home from a two-week trip. While Tony and I hadn't been in the buying market for long, our friends have been, and in hearing that we'd have to hold for two weeks, we knew the house would be as good as gone. So, we asked if we could see it that night. I already had a wedding consult scheduled, so Tony picked up the kids and met Brian there ahead of me.

Let me tell you friends, do not ever, ever, go house shopping with your kids in tow. Clearly, this is common sense, but I will say, my advice isn't stemming from the resulting disobedience or distraction . . . it was because as soon as I set foot in the house, I was bowled over by an undeniable sense that I.was.home.

The boys were giddy as they ran and jumped and climbed and the sounds filled the house to the brim with such joy as I walked through each sun soaked room.

I cried at least three times.

The asking price was more than what we'd been pre-approved for and we found out that they were in negotiations with someone else. After talking it over and praying about it, we knew that we had to offer the extent of our pre-approval. We figured it was just to feel good about giving it our best shot. So that instead of looking back and wishing for something we didn't even try for, we could say that it just couldn't have worked out.

Except, the very next day, our bank owned home [so we'd been prepared to wait at least a week] accepted our offer.

We were stunned.

Our Mounds View house wasn't in any condition to rent, I was just coming up on busy season and it didn't make any sense at all and yet, we knew God had set the ball in motion.

And He continued it's trajectory, until we ended up here, where the Fontaine's are home, in a beautiful 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom, modified split, with open floor plan & three car garage.
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse
View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/fontainehouse

ps :: We still don't have a renter for our Mounds View house, so prayers are definitely appreciated.
pps :: I have a dishwasher!
ppps :: More pictures will come when there aren't boxes everywhere. I had 13 sessions in the midst of moving, so I was a bad blogger and didn't take any prior to moving in.
pppps :: Tony and I have yet to get a picture in front of our house with a Sold sign! They didn't even put one up on our sign and then took the whole thing down.


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