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  • { MAMA LOVES MOONSHINE } A MOM AND BABY BLOG

    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...

The Cesarean Birth of John Campbell Singleton

I am calling it a Cesarean birth because a C-section simply doesn’t do it justice.  It’s a birth.  It’s just as miraculous as a vaginal delivery and has the same outcome.  A baby that has been in gestation for 9 months takes its first breath and is ushered into the world.

My dear friend, Anne, did her laboring for 9 long weeks of bed rest, in which seven of those were in the hospital.  She made the ultimate sacrifice and gave up life as she knew it to basically be like a mama duck and sit on her egg.  No work, no shopping for the baby, no nesting.   Anne didn’t really get to experience the pregnancy that she had dreamed of because she was at a 45 degree angle for seven long weeks, slowly losing her mind in a hospital.  Now that everything is said and done, we can laugh and pat her on the back. But truth be told, we didn’t know if Campbell (what John Campbell is going by) was going to make it.  Anne went into the hospital just shy of 26 weeks, 95% effaced and ready to go into labor at any moment.  Every day that passed was a triumph.  Every week, a monument.  And our little Campbell made it to term which is less than 10% of babies who have mamas with a similar issue as Anne.

Getting to photograph Anne’s birth was one of the great honors of my life.  I wept.  I squealed. I thanked God.  It was truly a miracle.  I’m so excited to have Campbell in my “family”.  Ramona is going to eat him up–maybe literally.

On a more personal note, photographing a Cesarean birth was healing for me.  I’ve still been mourning my Cesarean birth back in January and photographing this whole experience somehow made me realize that we truly have no control over how or when or if our baby is going to come.  It’s always a miracle and it’s always so beautiful.  I’m still thinking about this nearly a week later as witnessing a birth is insanely spiritual and I’ll probably blog more about my feelings and experiences at a later time.  But for now let us rejoice and welcome John Campbell Singleton to the world!

 

Alison Rhodes - Oh Julie. You have done it again. These images are simply amazing and evoke such strong memories and emotions for me. You are ridiculously good and I’m so glad you share your gift with us!

And to Mama Anne- you too, are amazing!

Chris Humphreys - Wow. Amazing stuff Julie. As always. 🙂

Thanks for sharing an inspiring story and images!

Jennifer - Hi Julie
I was in a wedding in June (Lanka Milnor) and got to see first hand your amazing pictures and talent. But this may take the cake. Completely covered in goose bumps, face wet with tears. This mama is blessed on so many levels. Congrats to Anne and her family. Welcome John Campbell! My Campbell Grace (8mo) can’t wait to meet someone who shares her name!

Celia M - This series of images brought me to tears. You are so gifted at capturing emotions and life. Thank you.

Jess - Every birth is amazing. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing. LOVED my sister’s pictures and love pics of your family and friends. Best to you,
Jess

abby a. - wow…incredible and so REAL! thank you Julie and Anne for sharing, i felt like I was there even though I am halfway around the world! What a miracle baby, what a story of strength and persaverance. God has blessed you Anne….so proud of you, my heart wells with love!

thejoyofthis - Just beautiful!

A “Day in the Life of” Ramona

 

 

I got a new toy.  I finally ordered the Fuji X100 which is a pretty sweet film/digital hybrid camera.  It’s got an undeniably cute body that is simple to use and feels just like my 35mm Nikon FM2.  I’ve wanted the camera for awhile but didn’t know if it was an appropriate wedding camera so I held off a year and waited until I simply couldn’t any longer. The other day I bought this camera for ME.  I don’t think I’ll be taking this to weddings, but I can put it in my purse, carry it over my shoulder as it’s light weight, and basically take it everywhere to document life with Ramona (as well as some other side “street” projects I’m working on).  I spent the entire day Friday playing with Ramona and my new camera and pretty much documented every moment of 8/17/12,  from the early morning news through late night melt down time with my sister who was in from out of town.  These images are pure PJ.  Enjoy.

lindsay - beautiful photos captured of miss r. she is beautiful! {long time follower of your photography blog, first time poster} 🙂

Lauren - These photos are all amazing. I so enjoyed scrolling through them this morning! I think #2 takes the cake, though. You are quite talented!

Ramona is growing fast, huh?

The Amazing Metamorphosis of my Wife: From I Don’t Think So to At Least Three or Four

Partying in Vegas

Blue Steel

 

Alabama Whirly from True Romance on Halloween

Julie’s favorite place in the world

Three sheets to the wind

 

met·a·mor·pho·sis [met-uh-mawr-fuh-sis] noun

1. Biology . a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.

2. a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic or witchcraft.

3. any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.

——

My Wife Has Changed, A LOT, Since the Birth of Our Baby

It has been a remarkable thing to watch my wife be transformed before my eyes.

Many of you may know my wife, the wonderful Julie Chatham (aka Julie Harris to most but she honored me by taking my last name just before our Ramona arrived). If you’ve known my wife for any length of time, you know how vocal she used to be about her ambivalence regarding having children. She used to say things like: I want to be able to travel… It’s a lot of work and responsibility… I don’t know if I’m cut out for that sort of thing… What if our kid turns out to be an asshole?

In fact, many of our friends were surprised and a bit bemused when they learned that we were expecting. We heard it said more than a few times, “But I thought you guys didn’t want to have children.” And who could blame them for their confusion? Any witness to our hard partying ways over the years and our confessed ambivalence towards procreation would likely have precluded us from the “oh, what wonderful parents they would make” conversations.

In our defense, I will say that we were always very sober about the challenges of parenting. We knew that if we were to have children, we would not want to half-ass things. We wouldn’t want to give our children anything less than our best. And that’s exactly why it took us eleven years to finally throw the dice: we had a lot of growing to do during those years both as individuals and as a couple.

In 2011, we took the plunge, became pregnant (Julie, that is), and today are blessed to be parents of a remarkable little baby girl named Ramona.

Oh, and my wife has become someone else.

Truth be told, Julie has completely and totally fallen head over heels in love with our little baby. She is utterly smitten and full of a caring, tenderness and joy that she confesses she has never known and didn’t know existed. And she has found herself to be something she was unsure she could be: a deeply nurturing mother.

You see, Julie’s favorite time of the day is putting Ramona to sleep. She loves rocking her in the dark room, holding her, feeding her the bottle and singing to her softly as she works her mother’s magic to charm our little lady to slumber. And she tells me she wants at least three or four children now. She doesn’t want these moments to end. She loves this all so much that she (yes, I’m talking about Julie here!) wants to be pregnant multiple times and raise a brood. I still smile and marvel at this new Julie nearly every day. It’s amazing how a person can change.

Of course, I knew that having a child would change our lives and it has, for the better in almost every conceivable way. And I knew that I would change and that Julie would change, and we have. But it’s still a remarkable thing to witness my wife’s deeply maternal spirit spring out of seemingly nowhere. It’s as if she was always made for this, always capable of being a mother, always possessing a deep reservoir of tenderness, patience, energy, devotion and wisdom, always ready to love with abandon. And, in fact, she was.

I believe that women are, in many aspects, superior to men. And I would venture that one of the biggest reasons for their supremacy over men is the almost universal ability of a woman to love a child profoundly and completely.  Most women will do everything in their power to change whatever needs changing and do whatever needs doing in order to give their child the love and comfort and nurturing they need. They lay down their lives for their children, often gladly.

Men are vital  too, of course. We also play a hugely important role in successful parenting. We love our children deeply too and most of us desire to be good fathers. Nevertheless, mothers are, literally and figuratively, the givers of life. Their role is undeniably paramount. And this holds up in my own experience observing my wife be a mother. Her mothering has leapt forth from her biochemical, primal, instinctual and spiritual self in an almost unconscious fashion.  She is a mother now. She mothers. She provides and nurtures and sways and sings and coos and holds and kisses and soothes. She loves. She is transformed.

My wife was already an amazing woman before our precious Moonshine joined us in this world. Today, she is transcendent. Watching her be changed by love has been breathtaking and inspiring. It’s not difficult to understand why she wants more children. I am deeply thankful to be a witness to this beautiful metamorphosis even as I, myself, am being transformed too.

Till next time,

Jesse

Caitlin - Beautiful, beautiful account of a beautiful woman and family! I love you guys!!

Kailee - So beautiful. I love you guys. Crazy to think I was at your wedding toastig you with a water bottle. And that Julie was my age when my
Mom was pregnant with me. Now it all comes full circle 🙂

Sarah - Ohhh and I cry for days. You guys are such wonderful parents! I can’t help but think about Ramona (and babies Chatham to come!) reading this blog when she grows up and getting glimpses of the love her mom and dad had for her from the moment they knew she was on her way! Change is, arguably, always beautiful 🙂 XO

Chris Humphreys - Wonderfully written Jesse. 🙂

mama-lainie - I love the way you love my daughter and my grandbaby. You, too, have grown into a wonderful papa

Jodi - I adore you!!

Lauren - What a beautiful post. I think it’s so much more awesome when people take parenting seriously and truly try to understand what a sacrifice it will be before they plunge headfirst into it. So here’s to taking your time to decide, and not half-assing it!

The Top 10 Baby Products that got us through the First 6 Months

I really can’t believe 6 months have gone by since our little moonshine was born.  It seems like just yesterday when I was counting the days until she would be three months old.  I had read that at three months old, things start to get “better”.  I’m going to be really honest here and say that the first three months were pretty dang hard.  It was all about survival–keeping Ramona alive and also remaining functional.  I was running on  3-4 hours of sleep a night.  5 hours was a luxury.  I was barely squeezing time in for a shower and our little baby girl would never sleep!  To this day, Ramona doesn’t like to take naps.  We’ve worked through some kinks but even today, she was up at 5:30am and I just got her down for a nap 4 hours later.  These is little to no time for ourselves as new parents–a worthy sacrifice however for having a sweet little baby in your life.  Today I don’t count down the days until she’s older.  I love her age.  I suddenly want things to slow down. I’m not eager for crawling or walking or even talking right now.  I’m really enjoying every second with our little bean.  6 months rocks!

I’ve got two friends who are expecting babies at the end of this month.  I remember feeling “in the dark” about what I needed or didn’t need before Ramona came.  I dreadfully went into Babies R Us and was nauseated by the thousands of pacifier options and the 14 different baby monitors.  Not to mention the florescent lights and  the smell of mass manufactured polyester is also nauseating when you’re pregnant!  So the other day, I thought I’d make a list of the things that have been essential in our day to day life with Ramona.   Of course every baby has her own preference.  God knows Ramona did.  I tried out 4 different wraps before finally surrendering to the Baby Bjorn.  I’ve learned to listen to her and roll with it.  But for us, these 10 items below have been life savers.  They are not in order of “importance” but rather stages.  I hope this helps you have a shorter shopping trip to Babies R Us, or better yet–do some online shopping and put your feet up!

 

Vibrating Baby Bouncer by Fisher Price

Holy cow, from week 2 we were putting Ramona in this thing.  She’d sleep in it, we’d sometimes feed her in it, and she could be by our side no matter what were were doing.  Ramona spent tons of time in the kitchen with us and had lots of cooking lessons.  She also came outside for happy hour by our fountain and even learned how to garden out front.  It wasn’t until she was about 2 months old that she started to love the toy attachment, but that was also a life saver. At 2 months, she  was endlessly entertained by the little cartoon bugs that she could swat at like a cat.  Today, Ramona is holding her own bottle but needs to be at an incline to do so.  She no longer likes to chill in the vibrating chair, but she does love to feed herself, so she’ll kick back in the bouncer for a quick snack while I get some work done.

Bumbo Seat

Once Ramona started to be able to sit up with support, she was over the bouncer and on to the Bumbo.  Same idea though–we can take her anywhere, put her in her Bumbo seat and get things done.  We’ll surround her with toys and she’ll sit in that thing for hours, if need be.  Ramona doesn’t love to be held.  She already likes to do things on her own and participate in the things we are enjoying, but in her own space.  Again–many a happy hour or cleaning session is had while she babbles and plays blissfully in her Bumbo seat.

Baby Bjorn

The Baby Bjorn is maybe the best thing that has come into my life besides Ramona since motherhood.  I resisted buying it at first.  I had heard that they can be bad for babies hips.  But again, my little bean isn’t into cuddling and wants to be facing out and looking at the world around her rather than cuddle and be shielded by her mama. So the inward facing Ergo and Moby wraps were out.  I was sad at first–I really wanted a cuddly, breastfed, Moby Wrap worn baby but alas, Ramona has her preferences and her prefernce regarding a baby carrier was the Baby Bjorn. Now I LOVE THIS THING!  I can do anything with her in it.  Even if she is screaming mad and way past a nap (which happens often), I can pop her in the Bjorn and she is content.  I went shopping yesterday for shoes for 2 hours and she didn’t complain once.  She loves going to the grocery store with me, and loves to water the flowers.  We also have a morning ritual of walking down to the coffee shop and then on to the park.  Did I mention she’s not a fan of strollers?  Ha!  I’m banking on this Baby Bjorn for her first plane ride in October.  I’m pretty sure that as long as I’m allowed to walk up and down the aisle with Ramona in the Baby Bjorn, I won’t have one of “those babies”.

Blankie

My good friend Regina got us this little blankie and I had no idea why it was so small at the time!  It didn’t seem very functional as a blanket.  Ha–just goes to show that I knew nothing going in to parenthood.  The size is exactly why this blankie is perfect for Ramona.  She can pick it up easily without getting tangled and frustrated.  Ramona won’t take a pacifier, so her blankie acts as just that.  She sucks on it and rubs it against her face when she needs to be soothed.  It goes everywhere with us and is essential for naps or bedtime. The best part about this little blankie is that it has about 5 different textural fabrics on it.  Ramona loves to touch and examine different textiles–and this blankie has it all.  Unfortunately I have never been able to find another one like this one.  Some have the satin and the bumpy soft circles, but not the other fabrics.  I’m sure it would be fun and easy to make if you’re into sewing.  I, on the other hand will be on the prowl for another one that I can buy, in case something happens to this one.

Pack n’ Play Cradle

My Dad made me a cradle before I was born that I and all my siblings slept in.  It’s beautiful and I imagined that Ramona would sleep in it as well.   But of course Ramona wouldn’t have it.  She would get out of her swaddles and flail her arms about, knocking them on the side of the cradle, which just made her mad.  I co-slept with her in the bed for a long time, but knew I couldn’t do this forever, so we tried this Pack n’ Play Cradle.  For the first week she had it, she slept 8 hours through the night! Then she got used to it and started waking up again–but only every 4 hours.  I don’t know what we are going to do when she outgrows this thing.  Now that she’s rolling and sitting, the crib is a nightmare because she moves around too much to sleep.  The pack n play keeps her tight and snug and we can put it in a room with a window unit air-conditioner.  Oh, and it folds up and travels well.  It’s da bomb.

Sophie the Giraffe

Did you know that Sophie is from Paris?  But that’s only the reason I bought her. The reason I keep her  is because she is the perfect first  toy for a baby.  First a hand toy, she’s easy to grip and suck–there is a nice long narrow neck to grab, and Sophie has lots of nipple-like shapes on her little giraffe body that are great for sucking.  Now, Sophie has become a teether. Ramona smiles and kicks excitedly  when I hand Sophie to her, then chews away while Sophie makes squeeking noises that will only drive you crazy for awhile.  We love Sophie the Giraffe.

Orbit Baby Foot Muff

I’m not sure why they call this a foot muff.  It’s basically a sleeping bag for babies that fits perfectly into a carseat, making a cold car ride or stroll around the block so much more comfortable.  Ramona was born on January 25th and it was a COLD month to be taking a newborn out on walks.  But this warm sack made my life so easy.  I never had to bundle Ramona up in heavy clothes, I’d just throw her in the Foot Muff,  zip it up and know that she would be snuggly warm.  It has buttons so you can button it up to the eyes, or fold it down around the chest.  I really like the Orbit brand.  I don’t even have an Orbit stroller, but I loved the make of it.   Unfortunately it is expensive but the inner material is a soft organic cotton rather than fleece (which makes Ramona sweat like a little piglet)  like so many of the other “bundle-me”s out there.  It’s also flame retardant.  The bottom of the sack lets out for bigger babies and toddlers, so I’m hoping I can get at least another year out of this!  I feel really good about this purchase–it was one of my “splurges” but has been worth every penny.

 

Wooden Mobile

When Ramona was about 2 weeks old she started noticing the world around her and I knew I needed a mobile.   I hadn’t bought one before, as I generally find them tacky.  But I found this one at Tallulah Jones and bought it. It’s actually quite simple and sweet and was the most fascinating thing in the world to Ramona for about 2 months.  I could plop her in her crib and take a shower knowing that I’d have 10 or 15 minutes.  She outgrew this pretty fast, but the little wooden parts come off and act as rattles.  They each have a different sound and look and Ramona loves them to this day.  When we put music on, she reaches for these and shakes them like maracas.

 

 

 

Goodnight Moon

Ahhhh the classic, Goodnight Moon.  It is the only book that will hold Ramona’s attention at her young age, and she loves it.  She loves the colors and the way the words almost rhyme. I’ve read it to her three times in a row sometimes just because she seems to want more!   It’s a nighttime ritual and sometimes an afternoon toy.

 

Munchkin fresh food feeder/teether

My sister in law turned me onto this one afternoon when I had forgotten a bottle and Ramona was starving, poor girl. She pulled this little gadget out of her drawer and threw some watermelon in it.  It didn’t make up for the bottle, but bought us some time for Jesse to run to the store to buy a bottle and formula.  The fresh food eater is basically a net with a handle on it.  You put the food into it, babies grab it, suck on it, puree the food, and most importantly don’t choke.  It’s brilliant actually.  Our favorite thing to put in it is frozen bananas.  It’s a nice long distraction, a great teether, and a wonderful way to introduce a myriad of solid foods into your babies diet.  Plus they are cheap and easy to carry around.

 

Katie - I LOVE your stroller in the picture above! What brand is it?!

Katie Roach - Love it! I could have written the above list, and you’re dead-on, those things are essential!!! My new favorite is the Peke Moe, the most amazing sleep sack ever. It’s truly magic. May work when sweet Ramona is too big for her cradle, and if she’s a swaddle Houdini it might be your answer. It sure saved us from about 7 months on with Briar! Hope you are all doing well! xoxo

Lauren - I love this list! We share many of the same favorites I think. Your baby girl is gorgeous (and so are you– love that picture of you two in the grocery store)!

Just stumbled across your blog and I can’t wait to check out more. Cheers!

Lilly Sue - So beautiful!! I love 🙂