bio picture

    Mama Loves Moonshine is an honest, heartfelt, photo-centric blog devoted to all things motherhood, pregnancy & maternity, babies, toddlers, children, parenting and more... all accompanied by lots of photos. Julie is a new mother who has fallen in love with being a mom and already feels like it's going by so fast. Julie is married to Jesse, mother to Ramona Moon (aka Moonshine) and lives on an acre and a half in horse country between Boulder and Lyons, Colorado.

    Loving the journey (most of the time),

    Julie (Mama Moonshine)

    Read more about Mama Loves Moonshine...

To My Little Firecracker on Your 2nd Birthday



Momo and Sylvie 4-13-16-9962



Two years ago tonight, I was wishing you a new home—that is, I was asking you very kindly to leave the premises of my womb and move into my arms. It was a hot June evening, the air thick with mosquitos and the intoxicating smell of Russian olives. I could barely walk, but thought a nice stroll in Grandma’s neighborhood might get you moving. You were supposed to arrive 5 days earlier, my body was aching and I wanted your middle name to be June, and there were only a few hours left on the last day of this 6th month.   “Let’s do this, baby…”, I kept saying. “Let’s do this”.


I’ll never forget that evening before you were born. My body swollen, thighs rubbing together and chaffing from the heat and sweat—I was in purgatory. So aware that this might be the last night of our family being a little threesome—I took it all in—both in mourning and in a giddy state of excitement knowing that I would soon meet my baby girl.   Grandma pushed your sister in the stroller up ahead of me and would wait every couple of minutes for me to catch up. Daddy was way up ahead getting some exercise. We went all the way to the horse pasture at the end of the road. Momo and I rubbed the velvety nose of a white pony—her breath as hot as mine. My senses were alive—a sign that I could be in early labor. But alas, nothing.


We stopped at the store on the way home and I bought a tray of brownies—we settled in for the night and started watching “As Good as it Gets” while I ate my emotions. She is NEVER going to come… I surrendered the hope that your birthday would be in June, and then you changed your mind. And that is so YOU, Sylvie. I know this about you now. You were comfortable and too stubborn to even hint at being ready to meet us, until you weren’t. And then you came. From the first contraction that night , I knew that you were going to come fast, and furious. And sure enough, we barely made it to the hospital. I checked in at 9 cm and you came out with your firsts up shortly after, ready to take the world by storm. And you have done just that, my little firecracker. My Sylvie June– born just 3 hours into July. You have always called the shots, and damn, I love this about you.


Two years later, and I’m just now writing this down. Two years later and I have finally carved out the time to take myself out, eat some cake and drink a couple of glasses of wine to just ruminate on you, and the incredible little person you have become.   I’m not going to lie—it’s been a crazy two years of adjusting to life mothering two little girls and juggling a full time photography career. There have been so many days that ended with me passed out, clothes and lights on, head barely on the pillow. I’m exhausted. But don’t ever believe that I don’t cherish every minute I have with you, watching you light up the room with your wild eyes. I wouldn’t trade a second of it—not even for a full night’s sleep.


And while the days can seem eternal, the years have somehow slipped by. I forget that you’re not a baby anymore. In fact, when you were just 18 months old, you reminded me of that when you unbuckled your own highchair and said, “I got it”. You’ve really never been a baby, in a way—you’ve always been a bit of a genius –right on your sister’s heals. But don’t get me wrong, little darling—you will always be my baby. I will never let you grow up without you knowing that. And while I will miss plucking you out of your little bassinette at 4am to feed you and get some much deserved one-on-one time with you, I am even more excited about who you are growing into. You are a strong willed, adventurous little lady who devours “life” and drinks every moment in with wonder and fun. You are fiercely charismatic and can charm the surliest of personalities. You will change this world. I know it. Of all the endless things that I love about you, I will share just 5 today on the evening before your second 2nd birthday.


One. “I want to go”. This might be your favorite phrase–A phrase so ripe with vivacity that it often stops me in my tracks. Just a couple of months ago, you, and your sister and I were out watching a spectacular pink moon make her grandstand on the Eastern horizon. We swooned, but you were particularly captivated. You couldn’t tear your eyes from her and when it was time for me to take you inside to put you to bed you cried out “Moon! I want the Moon! Moon—I want to go!” And just like that, in that moment, I knew—if you ever want to go to the moon—I have no doubt you will find your way to her. The same phrase rings out every time you see a hot air balloon, airplane, pony, roadside carnival, lake, boat, , kids soccer game in the field across from where we are picnicking… You are a GO GETTER, Sylvie June. You are always in motion and this is my dream for you—Get it all, girl! When you “want to go”, go!


Two: As sophisticated and grown up as you often appear, I always melt when you beg for your blankies. Yes. You have two—a pink one and an orange one and you want them both. You tote them wherever I let you. You used to call them your “BDs” but now you can say, “Blankies. I want them both”. Of course you do. Two is better than one in your world. And why not? You can have them both as long as you want them.


Three: You love to sing. You sing everywhere–in the car, when you are playing, when you’re eating, I’ve even heard you sing in your sleep. You’re darn good too. At 17 months you were singing, “Let it go”, with your sister. IN. KEY. Your photographic memory recalls every song, and I’ll often recognize you singing a Grimes song off my latest mix, or some song you’ve heard on PBS. Your favorite song though is “Snowman”. Snowman, snowman, wears a funny hat. Snowman, snowman, arms stick out like that… You ask to hear it every time we are in the car. I kind of hate it until I hear your little voice rising to the chorus and it always makes me look in the rearview mirror, smile and sigh.


Four: You don’t take shit from your sister. Even when you were just 6 months old you’d let out a deafening scream if Ramona took something from you. Now you actually get a kick out of fighting back and ruffling her feathers. Just yesterday, you were taking a bath and somehow got into Ramona’s personal space. She whined and pushed you away saying “don’t touch me, Sylvie”. You looked at her with a smirk and walked spider fingers across the water so that you were “almost” touching her. The slightly sinister look in your eye made me laugh on the inside. Of course, as your mama, I had to say, “Sylvie—back off”. Momo is saying no”, but I was actually quite proud of you.   I’ve always been a people pleaser myself—shape shifting and setting aside my own desires to get people to like me and to keep the peace. You, on the other hand, have no qualms with demanding what you want. And you usually get it. Poor Momo, bless her heart is more like me, and while I completely empathize with her, I respect these traits in you. Don’t ever stop demanding what you want. Don’t let people get under your skin or put you in the corner. Have a sense of humor about it like you do today. Know that it’s usually “their problem—not yours”.


Five. While I love how strong willed and demanding you are, I couldn’t end this without praising you for how polite and kind you have become. We will be eating dinner and midway through, you’ll say, “Thank you, Mama”. Oh, my heart! And you say it as we are pulling out of the parking lot from the pool, or after I’ve combed your hair. You’re also the first to say sorry. And you say sorry from your heart. After seeing that you’ve hurt your sister’s feelings, you’ll always say, “I’m sorry, Momo”, and reach out for a hug. You’ll touch my face when I’m clearly feeling something and say, “you okay, Mama?” You melt my heart daily, Sylvie. You are full of love and compassion and that is something that we cannot teach.


You are my still my baby, Sylvie–always. My little “lady of the forest”, already charming a room and ruling the roost. You complete me as a mama and I am overflowing with pride. And although I can’t always write to you like this, know that I am constantly watching you in awe and wonder, praising God for giving me the gift of being your Mama. Happy Birthday, precious girl. Keep “living”. “Live, always.


Sylvie is 2-9533Sylvie January 2016-7936Sylvie January 2016-6394Momo and Sylvie spring 2016-000063040005

Sylvie 6-18-16-7857





Mary Marshe - love this!!

Jodi Peterson Cox - Beautifully written! XO

Grzegorz Stykowski - Sending Love to You all…

Tracy Whalen Brown - Oh Jules!!!! What words! I love this so much and I love Sylvie even more than i did before. What a treasure

Frederick Churbuck - Maybe for a second, I forgot how awesome it is to peek into the camera that points to the life & times of Julie Harris Chatham. Inside that twinkle in your eye is enough love and hope for the entire world. Here’s to the sweat and tears, to the laugher and the crying–to the unquestioanble and undeniable truth that the only way to get more is to give more. You, like this moment are everything–you risk everything to get everything. What a joy it is to peer in, even if only for a second. XO

Gillian Kessler - Beautiful, cuz!

Jesse Chatham - We are so blessed to have this little girl in our lives. Thank you, Syvie, for being born. We couldn’t possibly love you anymore than we already do. You and Ramona are the best things to ever happen to us. Love, Dad.

A Morning in my Life

I’m always preaching about photographing the natural–about capturing authentic moments and allowing oneself to be photographed in a documentary style, even if that means being exposed or vulnerable.  I’m going to preach it even louder now…

I had the rare and incredible opportunity to be photographed with my girls in this style just 2 weeks ago when my good friend Paige Elizabeth flew in for a visit.  We hung out, caught up, dug up old memories and then photographed each other.  Paige spent the night so that I could photograph her at twilight and then she would wake at dawn (poor thing) and photograph us in the morning doing our thing.  I was nervous.  I feel uncomfortable in my postpartum skin and know that in the mornings, I’m not exactly a sight for sore eyes.  But I cherish these mornings with my girls.  They are truly our “girl” time.  Jesse writes screen plays so he stays up really late at night working and does the night shift.  I wake up early in the mornings and do the morning shift. We also have been sleeping in separate rooms because of our crazy schedule and Sylvie’s night feedings.

And so the morning goes–Momo always wakes me up.  Unless Sylvie wakes me up first, but that is rare–she likes to sleep. Momo likes to catch the worm, (err, chocolate milk) so to speak.  She always brings all of her lovies down with her and gently wakes me saying,  “It’s morning time, mommy”.  Then I need coffee.  Lots of coffee. And then more coffee.  And sometimes we play and sometimes we just wake up in front of the TV for a bit.  They are often long, hard mornings,  as I am naturally a night owl, but I love them–and my girls are growing so fast that I just had to have this ritual documented before it  all changes. Which it does so very fast in parenthood.

Paige documented  our morning so perfectly.  I am IN LOVE with these images and all that they hold within them.  I am eternally grateful to have such a gracious, talented friend that can photograph us so beautifully.  Even with my wrinkles, messy bedhead, and postpartum belly, I am proud of how I look as a mother.

So I am sharing these and am going to preach it again, because I believe every Mama (or Papa) needs images like this.  They are truly moments caught on film forever.  One day we will weep with gratitude over them–I know I will.

Jenifer L Hammond - Tis beautiful because it’s real.

Andrea Brooks Binder - You and your girls are beautiful.

Jodi Peterson Cox - I love these! I want a sleepover!!

Leah Emerick Anderson - Wow!! Paige did such a wonderful job capturing these tender moments at dawn. Julie, you are a radiant mother! XO

Julie Bergquist - Oh Jules. Beautiful.

Elaine Thomas Harris - Oh, my, Julie— I’ve been there for some of those moments. Paige captured them so well. Mostly…I am so touched by the mama that you are to your little girls. I am so very proud of you, darlin’.

Dale Shubert - Magnificent mommy moments. …..wish I had someone capture moments like these……I’m always photographing things……rarely in them……now the kids are teens…..things get busy and aren’t so loose…..need to hug them more I guess…….get that feeling and give it back

MarkAnna Anderson - Julie! your pictures are so beautiful! they are meaningfull!!! not just flowers prety make up and dresses, you show beaty of simple moments of life!! i really adore your phototgraphy

Lauren Penland - Oh my goodness, I am such a sucker for days in the life (or mornings). Lovely!

Michelle Lottner - love love love this!! thank you for sharing!!

Life in the Moment

Even Jesse tells me to put down my camera and be present sometimes.  But only a photographer will understand that for me, looking at life through my lens is being present.  I don’t have to think about the images that I make and the technology has become second nature, so I don’t have to worry about my settings. I just shoot.  I just make images as time unfolds organically, everyday.  If I didn’t have my camera I think that I would miss so much.  The camera forces me to be still and present.  If I weren’t making images, I’d probably be checking my email on my phone.  Honestly.


This is a typical morning for us.  In all of the images that I have made of my girls, it’s the loose ones that I love most–the real moments–Momo’s pink tangled hair or Sylvie slipping in the bathtub.  It’s a typical, messy, long long morning that one day I will look back on through images and wish that I could relive just once again. We can’t go back–so at least I will have the photograph.  And that’s why I do what I do–in a nutshell.


Check out Rachael Weaver and Lauren Penland’s take on Life in the Moment


Elaine Thomas Harris - I love these! You captured them!

Jodi Peterson Cox - Beautiful Julie. I just adore these!

Amy Barnard Hughes - Julie, wow. Wow.

Gail Jackson - Precious photos, even more precious daughters. Looking forward to meeting them in May!

Maria Khoroshilova - Beautiful photos! And I always feel as I’m missing on the moment itself if I’m behind the camera. There are just so many things I do want to capture in my everyday life, but each time I’m behind the camera, I feel that I’m missing on a mom side.. Thank you for sharing links to other photographers’ work. I just love these out of life moments. Sweet and precious.

Life in The Moment 3/27/15


My house is a mess.  A disaster.  I call it CHAOS actually–Cant Have Anybody Over Syndrome.   Last Sunday was supposed to be a day for work–Momo and I had grand plans of cleaning up the yard, front and back and getting our garden ready for some early spring seeds.  Peas, carrots and broccoli were all laid out ready to sow and the soil was aching to be amended.  What happened instead was complete spring fever.  The mop turned to into a witches broom, the garden, a glorious box of “powder’ for “cakes”, and the car was suddenly Elsa’s castle.  No cleaning today.  We had multiple wardrobe changes from fairy, to Elsa to “school clothes”,  basked in the spring sun and ended up drinking beers on a blanket at sunset in a messy, messy yard. There’s a reason things aren’t tidy around here.  I guess I prefer it that way.  There’s always next week–the peas can wait.


**This post is a part of a new project I’m collaborating on with two other incredible photographers. Check out their “Life in the Moment” posts at Rachael Grace and Sea and Rhythm