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...

Yearnings for the Brashness of Youth

Ghandi said that “True happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”. I don’t think I’m there yet.  Just under a year ago I wrote a post about letting go.  Letting go of my career, the expectations I’ve had of myself, the success, etc.  And though I wrote about it last year, it’s still an evolving concept/feeling/thought/meditation that I want to talk about… apparently… because I’m writing about it now.  Again. Maybe that’s because being a mother, for me, is like dying and being born, over and over again;  my identity being crushed and created in a constant cycle. And I certainly believed that “letting go” would be a good thing, but I’m not sure I’ve been able to let go of me and I’m not quite sure if I’m happy.  Or maybe two years into motherhood with another one the way, I’m a bit more sober.

It’s five degrees outside and I eagerly ventured out in blizzard-like conditions to visit a suburban pizza joint to savor my weekly glass of wine and some alone time.  Romantic and adventurous, right?  Let me tell you that just three years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of visiting a suburban pizza joint for a glass of wine.  It would have needed to at least be a bottle to endure a strip mall. But let’s just say a few things have changed in the last three years.  Just a few.

About a month ago after one of my weekly self-pity breakdowns, I pleaded to Jesse that I needed some “me time”. I had a realization that having a two year old, being pregnant and living out in the sticks should buy me a night out once a week where I might read, write, go to a movie, see some live music, drink alone in a seedy bar… whatever. The notion excited me and Jesse was just as excited to have a night to himself without my griping and to have a happier wife for the few days that would follow.  Strip mall (still not my cup of tea, but certainly better than putting a 2 year old to bed for the 7th straight night in a row) or strip club, I am  thoroughly enjoying the luxurious time alone where I can gather some thoughts and feed my hungry ego. Let me reiterate the “hungry ego part”.  I’ve been struggling a bit with what you might call an identity crisis of late.  In just 2 years, I have gotten pregnant, had a baby, become insanely disillusioned with my career  of choice, moved from LOHI to a house out in the country, lost 2 dogs, swallowed my pride, have daycare three days a week and have finally decided to leave the wedding photography world altogether. Oh, and did I mention that I am pregnant?  Again? With another girl?  I think in the same rant pleading for this weekly date night with myself,  I dramatically  flung myself onto the couch and sobbed “Who am I?  What happened to the Gypsy in me? I don’t recognize this girl!  I don’t even know if I like her!”.  Jesse just nodded and listened as he often does,  knowing that I would be just fine after a hot bath and some sleep.

There is a quote that kind of sums all of this up for me by James Balog, the photographer who inspired the documentary, Chasing Ice.  He said, “The brashness of youth takes you far”.  When I heard that quote the other night, I literally jumped up and yelled “EXACTLY”.  What happened to  that brashness that I used to have?  By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was making a six figure income as a wedding photographer, had purchased two homes, traveled, partied, and basically denied myself nothing.  I had attained my dreams at the ripe age of 26 and basically lived under the assumption (the brash assumption) that anybody could do anything that they dreamed of as long as they fearlessly pursued it.  I thought you could have it all.  By the time I was 30, I had purchased another property, this time a commercial property, a gorgeous store front property in the up and coming neighborhood of LOHI and  was at the height of my success.  I   was more popular than ever amongst my peers and colleagues and was overall quite satisfied with myself.  BUT.  BUT… with success comes many obligations–social, financial, energetic, etc.  And it wasn’t long before I got fed up with my own dream.  I started to realize that you have to give to get.  I was tired.  So I got pregnant.

The rest of this story is history.  I am reevaluating my life these days. I spend these nights alone doing serious soul searching.  I don’t make the money that I used to–partly out of choice and partly because the wedding photography industry has gone to pot due to over-saturation of weekend warriors,  and, of course, because of  Pinterest.  Ugh.  I have a love hate relationship with that one.  I don’t know if I am a cautionary tale or a success story.  Perhaps I’m both.  But there isn’t any question as to whether I am at a crossroads in my life.  For the first time in 20 years I don’t know what my dreams are.  I am in a scary and vulnerable place and am just hoping and waiting with an open heart and mind for something to move me into a creative alpha state where I can once again dream and love photography, or writing or both.  Who knows.

I do know this about myself and for now it’s enough.   I know that there will always be a little gypsy in me.  I do know that when my two year old daughter kisses my booboos, that I am the most wealthy woman in the world.  I know that I will always be a fun mom-, taking my girls on some of those same spontaneous (less expensive) trips that I did in my twenties. And I know that I will never ever live a conventional life.  So maybe it’s not an identity crisis that I’m experiencing.  Perhaps it’s the wine I’m drinking, but I will say that today, I know that you have to give to get.  Nobody can really have it all.  I have traded success for peace, partying for wholesomeness, and late nights for early mornings with my sweet Ramona.  And today, for this moment on, I am trading in the nostalgic yearnings for my “brash youth” for some wonderful, lovely, glorious freedom.

Rachael Weaver - I just want to say, I love you. You are amazing and from the moment we met, you have been an inspiration and someone to look up to. I can’t wait to see you in the spring, and I think we’ll need to add a little extra time just to catch up. 🙂

Jenifer Canning - You write so eloquently.
Congratulations on the new baby. You see and express the world in ways than others can’t – behind a lens or written on paper. It is a beautiful gift to pass on to your girls, and they in turn can make the world a more beautiful place. Best to you.

Sommer Bannan - You are so beautiful inside and out!! Thank you for your honest and vulnerable words! This spoke to my heart today! Lets meet at the pizza parlor and talk when you have some time! We have a lot to catch up on!! xoxo!

Jessica Green - Amen friend! You are not alone. Me too. Thanks for the transparent honesty!

Alison Christofferson - I must say I’ve been through a similar but less dramatic struggle. Quite simply, I believed that becoming a parent would not affect my ability to be adventuresome and ambitious. I was wrong. I had my children pretty young, first baby born when I was 26 and second at 28. I recently realized that I will be a mere 44 years old when my first kid goes to college, 47 with the second. That made me realize that my frenzy to figure out what “great” thing I was going to do with my life can wait a bit. The way our world is going I can start a whole new career at 44 and work as long as many of our parents did in their careers. As my grandma likes to tell me, you can have it all, just not at the same time. Hard to accept when you’ve been an ambitious woman but might just be true. Hugs to you! When is your next baby due?

Megan Maxwell - I can completely relate. But do not leave photography- you are far too gifted.

Kellie Coughlin - Beautifully said Julie 🙂

Caitlin - I love you so much. I am so proud of you.

megan alvarez - So lovely and honest and poignant and a great read for me this morning.

I feel like I am desperately grasping for the gypsy, especially now that I am pregnant with my first and in a constant state of various forms of total panic and I can feel my former/present self slipping away a little bit despite my excitement and anticipation. It’s always a relief to know I’m not the only one.

I seriously think we should get together sometime, especially now that you live in my neck of the woods! =)

Thanks for sharing this today. Such a talent.

anne singleton - So I just love you so much, and am so proud of you that you are talented enough to choose when you want to be on hiatus. I wish I could do the same in my career. Choose when I want to be on and choose when I want to be off. And the fact that you revel in your alone time, strip club or strip mall, maintains to me that you are still a gypsy. Sometimes I can’t muster the will to put on mascara and leave the house, let alone attempt a seedy bar to sit alone and contemplate. I think you have finally arrived…. barefoot, pregnant, and living in the sticks with your beautiful girl, your gadlfy hubby, and your amazing talent, still lining your walls, willfully in hibernation until you feel like getting on the bike again.

Amanda - The root of the word happy is hap.. it’s latin, translates “by luck” or “by chance” – you are building something so so so much deeper that will not leave you. You do things with a camera that you just shouldn’t be able to do. That gift will only get better. You make me cry, my story’s different but I very much sympathize. So so so many congratulations on another one. Amanda

Our Quiet, Early Morning Cartoon and Cup of Joe

Almost 2 1-2-14-9689

I am one of those moms who plops her baby down in front of the TV. There.  I said it.  I am no Mother of the Year and yes, I let Ramona watch a little T.V. from time to time (time to time being, about 4 out of  7 days a week).  But in my defense, it’s only for 20 minutes or so, until I have ingested enough coffee (and Ramona, enough milk), to kick start my brain.

I have NEVER been a morning person.  And there hasn’t been a single day since Ramona was born almost 2 years ago that I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on another day of motherhood.  Especially in the winter, when Ramona wakes up and it’s still dark out and  freezing cold in our house, and I can barely find the light switches, let alone put together a puzzle with my little nut.  So–T.V. it is.  And I have to say that this morning ritual has become a very sweet time for us.  Ramona, usually wrapped in a fluffy blanket, snuggles in on my lap while I sip my hot coffee and stroke her sparse (yet growing) hair.   We essentially wake up together, watching “The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That”.  After the heat has kicked up and my coffee kicked in, we are ready to move on to more “stimulating activities”.  T.V. paranoia aside, I actually dig this  morning cartoon time with my girl and am so ever grateful for the 20 minutes of hot coffee.

Elaine Thomas Harris - I remember, with such fondness, watching Mr. Rogers with Mark after you 3 “big kids” went to school. Ahhh…sweet snuggle time 🙂

Melody Zobel - Sweet. These days it’s Chris and Joey in the morning. I can’t move….other lovely dvds from early on HBO Baby Dance and Baby Music, The Snowman, Little People, Word World, and Dinosaur Train. Hmmm. These days it’s Phineas and Ferb! Love you Jules. Mel

Lillian Chatham - So sweet! It sounds like you have a good system down 🙂

Lillian M Chatham - You rock!

Pepper Glory

There are no words to express the jubilation that I feel in my heart today.  My dear, dear friend Tracy gave birth to her first daughter at 7:45am.  Tracy and Matt have been waiting and praying for this little bundle for 10 years and she is finally here–in all her glory.  And she is breathtaking.  She is already comfortable and so content–as if she knows that she is supposed to be here–that she knows that there is a calling on her life.  I believe this.

Tracy’s water broke at 5:45 and by the time I got to the hospital to photograph the birth, little Pepper had already arrived.  I missed it, sadly but was ecstatic to meet her and photograph these first few moments of her life.

This post is short and sweet as I truly am speechless today with wonder at the miracle of life, but I just had to post some  images of my sweet little niece.  Meet Pepper Glory.  Welcome to the world, sweet girl.  I can’t wait to spend some precious time with you.

Crystal - These photos seriously made me cry. Tracy what a beautiful baby girl. I’m so happy for you. You were the best older friend to us and I know you will be the best mom. Love you. -Crystal Thomas

From LOHI to Farmland – This “City Girl” has Moved to the Country


I wish somebody had a camera on me–at this moment just after I’ve turned off the stereo to tune into the goats instead, mawwwwing  just 100 yards away on the property east of us.  It’s Monday afternoon and I’ve just cancelled an engagement shoot in Denver due to rain.  I’m celebrating the down time while sitting out on my large deck snuggled up in a quilt and writing these thoughts down–pen to paper.  It just dropped 20 degrees, the wind is blowing my hair across my face and I’m making a mess with my wine.  I’m taking deeper breaths, longer sips and feeling overwhelmingly grateful that I’m right here, right now, in the country.

Yes.  I said country.  This “city girl” has uprooted with her little family to sow some deeper ones out here in Boulder County.  I guess I’m finding my way back to those hippie roots that have been beckoning to me for some time now…  We made this decision while on our way to the Broadmoor Hotel in mid June to celebrate our 9th anniversary. We went for it, getting our place fixed up and rented while becoming renters ourselves and, so luckily, scoring this lovely home in the country on over an acre-with goats and horses as neighbors instead of, well, neighbors. All in under six weeks.

Life in the country is good. Coffee drinks a little hotter out here and I drink it a little slower.  I write outdoors  in my t-shirt and underwear knowing that nobody can see me except for that creepy rooster.  I, a notorious lead-foot, drive the speed limit in my new neighborhood to respect the horse riders and cyclists that I share the roads with and to take in the dynamic landscape.  People out here wave to each other instead of flip each other off and there is a carton of fresh peaches that I just picked up from an outdoor farm stand just a mile from my house.  We attract jaybirds and chickadees instead of pigeons in Ramona’s little bird feeder now. And I’m more worried about coyotes than I was of squirrels.  I could go on and on about all the little things I am loving about this new home, but each treasure deserves it’s own space and story and I refuse to do an abridged version this early into our adventure. I just wanted to plug  in (literally) for a moment to let everybody know that I’m still out here–still working as a full-time photographer and blogging when I can.  I’m just OUT HERE with satellite cable and a 20GB data limit ( another post).  I’m not saying that the country is better than the city or that the city is better than the country.    I’m only 35 and honestly don’t know quite who I am yet and am certainly not willing to put definitive statements on myself.  For surely, I haven’t tasted enough or explored enough of this little world to make those kind of generalizations. And I hope that I never will. For that is half the reason we made this move… to taste and see, to live and explore, and of course, to be a down-home Mama and live vicariously through my  wild toddler as she soaks it all in.  I have tasted.  And I am loving.  Just saying that for now…


anne singleton - I love your little house and your fabulous, simpler life…. I am glad I share it with you in little pieces. 🙂 I do need to correct you though- you certainly DO know you you are, more than anyone I know! Don’t be too far from the city so you can still have margs with me!