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    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...

Good Old Days

I think I was seriously depressed just 2.5 years ago–or seriously situationally depressed, anyhow.  I remember thinking that I didn’t have any dreams left–that I had lived and played out all of my fantasies and that I had nothing left to look forward to. I kept trying to force the dreams–like I would say to myself that I wanted to be a fashion photographer like Helmut Newton and live in Paris.  I would think  about landscaping my backyard and plan my next social event.  What would I wear?  But the problem with these pseudo dreams is that I never acted on them.  I didn’t have time.  I was too busy shooting 40 weddings a year and drinking myself into a haze every night that I didn’t get to them.  And of course I had to work to support this life that I had bought myself.

Then I found out I was pregnant and everything changed.  I didn’t even think I wanted it, but having a child has flipped “nothing to look forward to” on its  ass.  My future is bright every morning (after 9)  because Ramona is surprising me every single day with something new.  Today it was the word, “lizard” that came out of her mouth perfectly  the very first time she uttered it.  And I can’t explain it, but my dreams are now about making Ramona’s dreams come true.  I want a petting zoo in my backyard (seriously) instead of landscaping.  I want a 2 month trip to France with my family instead of a photography sabbatical. And I want to spend the lazy summer weekends when I’m not working going to parks and visiting Colorado festivals.  Oh, the festivals!  I’ve missed  so many over the the last 10 years shooting weddings every Saturday that it’s almost tragic.  So last weekend we visited the Good Old Days Festival in Lyons.  Jesse grew up in Lyons so it truly was the “good old days” for him.  And for me,  it was a dream.

I couldn’t help but laugh when looking at the images in the middle of this series while I was going through them.  I’m chasing Ramona in almost every one.  Each image is  of her back.  She is up ahead of me and I’m behind, watching her. This is literally how I’ve been spending most of  my days–chasing Ramona around making sure she doesn’t kill herself while  noticing how long and curly her hair is getting. But these images seem almost metaphorical.  Ramona is taking the lead.  And I’m content watching her back while she paves her paths and learns to be true to her authentic self.   I’m happy reveling in her endless curiosity and exuberant vivacity. In a nutshell, my dreams are now hers.  She is my dream.  Or  maybe I’m perfectly satisfied  just being present and don’t need “dreams” as much as I had thought. Either way,  I’m the happiest I’ve ever been–right here, right now–watching this little bean grow.


Maria Healey - Julie, there is such beauty in your honesty! I, too, realize that my dreams have changed and I find more joy in wanting to help create the dreams of my son, rather than insisting on pursuing my own in a more selfish fashion. I had a great time in my 20’s chasing those dreams and I wasn’t sure I’d even want to become a mother, but motherhood has become something I’m so passionate about now and I couldn’t be more thankful my husband and I made that decision to start a family of our own. It’s good to see there are other women out there with the same situation. Thanks for sharing your story!

Grzegorz - “Three things we have left of paradise: the stars, the flowers and the eyes of a child” – Dante Aligheri. I know, that when You look into Ramona’s eyes, You are in Paradise Julie. And You can’t be depressed in Paradise.

Sarah Weinberger - Seriously crying right now! SO beautiful and meaningful! I love this SO much!!

Mom - Julie Darlin’… No one could have told you about all that you are feeling now – as a mama to our beautiful Ramona! I think the love we feel for our babies is the closest we can experience to perfect love. It is un-earned love. It is love that grows because we give so completely of ourselves, expecting nothing back. It is unmanipulative love. I believe heaven will be full of that kind of love. I am so grateful you and Jesse chose to be parents. You are wonderful at the job!! xo

Jodi - I just love these…I want to squish that little face and cover it with kisses. These are some of my favs….so Julie Harris, soooo Ramona!

Christa Chatham - Wow Julie! This is beautiful! I am so happy for you and Jesse!!! I have noticed a very big change in the both of you… I feel your energy is lighter and you seem very happy! Ramona is so precious and growing so fast… I am truly going to miss that little smarty pants… She will surpass most and very quickly! Mua!! Love you and your dear family!!!

Kailee - I love her. And you and Jesse 🙂

Mean Little Girls

This is my daughter, Ramona Moon.  Ramona, the Remarkable.  Confident. Brave. Gregarious, Joyful.  Proud. Free spirited. Innocent.  Adored.   I would give my life to safeguard these beautiful traits in her and protect her from anyone or anything that might rob her of this purity.  But I know that it’s just a matter of time before insecurities will set in.  There will be a day when she is too shy to say “Hi” to every stranger that walks by. Too embarrassed to stand at the top of the slide and sing loudly.  A day is coming when she will be afraid her peers might not approve of her clothes, a day when she hates her precious wavy hair. A day when she comes home crying and heartbroken because somebody said something mean to her–chipping away at her innocence and confidence in who she was born to be.  And as cynical as this sounds, I think that day is soon.

Last Sunday we were at the park.  Ramona is just starting to learn to climb up all the stairs on her own, find her way to the slide and then tummy down.  She usually climbs to the top of the slide, stretches her arms out (see image above) and squeals with pride.  I usually clap and squeal with her, of course.  She’s amazing!  But on Sunday, I was sitting on the bench about 10 feet away, Jesse on another bench,  while we took a breather and let Ramona taste some independence when something happened that astonished me.  I mean, it rocked my world and scared me and broke my heart all at once.  Three little girls about the age of 6 or 7 decided to sit on the steps of the stairs up to the slide.  Ramona climbed as high as she could, stopped at their roadblock and beamed at them.  She  put her sandy little hand out and waved saying, “Hi”, “Hi”,  “Hello” over and over again.  The little girls just stared at her and didn’t say “Hi” back which was bad enough.  I didn’t realize that I was a Mama Bear, but I wanted to jump in a scold those little girls for not saying “Hi” back.  How rude.  But it got worse.  Instead of saying “Hi” to Ramona and moving over so she could get to the slide, they started whispering and giggling at her.  At first, I thought–they must be laughing at how cute she is. But that wasn’t it. They were, in fact, maliciously ganging up and  mocking a 15-month- old!  I couldn’t believe it!  And it stopped me in my tracks. What could I do?  I don’t want to be the parent who steps in and scolds other people’s children.  I don’t want to be Ramona’s voice. But in this instance, what I was most afraid of, was drawing attention to the fact that these girls were making fun of her.  Ramona didn’t know they were sneering.  But it hurt me, none the less.  Jesse, who was on another side of the park, saw what was going on and said he could also feel the female “relational aggression” from 10 feet away.

We left the park and talked about it later, both astonished that this was a conversation we were having as parents of a 15 month old toddler!  Jesse thought I should have said something or engaged the little girls.  Maybe I should have.  I just don’t know.  I just know that I walked home from the park that day holding Ramona in my arms while Jesse pushed the stroller.  I didn’t want to let her down.  I wanted to squeeze her and kiss her and give her a surplus of affirmation to make up for any little bit that might have been taken.

And there is a lump in my throat as I write this because I know that there is little that I can do to protect my daughter from the cruel world out there.  I know this because I, myself, was a mean little girl.  I never knew why I was mean, but I bullied other kids in elementary school, taking a precious piece of their confidence away and breaking hearts (parents and children’s alike).  Why?  What is this all about?  Why are kids sometimes so cruel?  I’m not a mean person now. If I could go back and red0 those years, I would be the nicest girl in the world.  Instead of mocking or tearing others down,  I would praise them and build them up and encourage them to be their beautiful, fullest little selves.  Unfortunately, as children, we don’t even begin to become self-aware until it’s much too late-so much damage has been done to so many little hearts.  So I guess as I sit here and reel in my Karma and digest the inevitable and the ironic, I realize that the best way to protect Ramona is to help her protect others.  I can teach her kindness, empathy and compassion rather than stepping in to protect her (although I will do that if necessary).  I’ll send her off to school everyday with a note in her lunchbox reminding her that her name means “Wise Defender”, that she is deeply and fiercely loved and to remember to:  “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”  (Plato).

It’s a start…


Mommamcclure - Not that I am one to give parental advice, but those are the precious moments that Ramona will be an inspiration to other kids…… oh girls I see you notice how cute Ramonas hair is, how do you like it? Oh girls I see you have a beautiful smile like Ramona,do you remember being that little? I think engaging those who have no idea how to interact is an opportunity for those who are ignorant or have not experienced the ‘joy’ that life offers. What a wonderful Mom you are and hope special to have a child who will grow up ‘aware’ and in touch! Hugs

Alison - As a person that works at a school (although I’m not a teacher)and see’s the impact that adults have on children that aren’t their own, I personally feel that a few well placed words from an adult that is not your parent can sometimes be more powerful then the subtle lessons a child might be learning at home. I personally air on the side of saying something in situations like this. And I have LOST FRIENDS over this point. But I believe it takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes the villagers have to make their standards known! (I might be inviting some serious internet hate here!)

anne - Nobody makes fun of my Ramona Moon! I would have taken their little cupcake eating asses down!

April Ingram - Julie – My oldest, Cate, will be finishing her 3rd grace year tomorrow. She’s 9 years old and she is just different. She’s a free spirit, doesn’t care what people think about her clothes or her hair. She’s just Cate, you can take her as she is, or you can leave her alone. The thing is, when you are able to raise a kid to not care what people think, they have an automatic forcefield around them that keeps bullies out. Cate’s been made fun of, and the way she puts it “I just pray for them, and then ignore it. ‘Cause I don’t care what they think about me!” I cringed yesterday when Cate insisted on wearing her ratty-old tennis shoes, and totally un-cute clothes to school because it was awards day. I sat in the audience and saw every other girl in that school in pretty little dresses and bows in their hair that were so big I wondered how they didn’t tip their little heads over. My girl was up there getting 8 awards in her rag-a-muffin outfit and she was just as confident walking on that stage as any other kid there. Kids are ALWAYS going to be jerks. You just have to equip your kid with enough confidence to not care what those jerks think and to just be themselves, even if it means that you are the parent in the crowd of the ONLY kid who didn’t dress nice for awards day. You keep being the awesome parents that you are, and Ramona will never stop being that care-free, free-spirit that she is today. You can’t control what other kids do, but you can help build up your own child enough that they can’t be torn town by hateful people, and teach her how to treat other people.

april Ingram - *3rd grade. Not 3rd grace. Oops!

Jenny C. - You are a wonderful writer. I really enjoy reading through your findings and thank you for sharing.

mamamoon - Thank you so much, Jenny!

Considering Taking Maternity Photos? Some Tips and Ideas That Might Inspire You….

Reasons You Should Consider Maternity Photos

Not all Mamas feel at their photographic “best” during pregnancy. And I’m guessing that’s why  a lot of women opt out on the maternity session, or maybe it’s the cheese that they see out there on the Internet or Pinterest when searching for “Maternity Photos”.  I see lots of hands in the shape of a heart on the belly, or a couple hovering over an empty crib (which is frankly just creepy).  I can see why maybe some mamas might say, “It’s just not my thing”.  But I’m here to argue. I beg to differ.  It’s every expecting mama’s “thing”.  Any Mama can document her pregnancy–even if it’s a photo of her eating cake or having her husband tie her shoes.

You don’t have to strip down and bear it all for the camera with your sexiest mirror face. There are lots of ways to document this time in your life.  And you should.  It’s only 9 months of your life.  Even if it’s the longest nine months of your life, you’ll one day miss feeling that little nugget’s elbow poking you in the ribs or the joy you felt the first time you felt hiccups.  When the baby comes, those moments fade quickly and you’re caught up in other incredible but also fleeting moments.  (Another blog post).

Here are some tips and ideas that might change your mind or inspire you

1.) Be real.   I’ve never personally been into having my photo taken, and I’m certainly not the type to “gaze” into the camera with a sexy expression. But I was determined to have some authentic moments captured while pregnant.  Jesse and I had our photographer come to our house and document us in a “day in the life of” style.  We made tea, ate cookies (like 10), went on a walk.  Took a breather.  Walked some more.  Hung out with our dogs,  laughed at the fact that my coat wouldn’t zip, etc, etc.  There were certainly no “hearts”  or cupped breasts in our photos but I’m glad that we had some images that really depicted some of our daily routines during my pregnancy.  Choose to do a session that well represents your lifestyle.  Do you cook dinner together?  Do you take walks or run?  Bike?  A trip to Target, perhaps? A picnic?  A game of UNO?  The options are endless–be creative!

2.) Do it for your kid.  These images will be precious to your child one day.  In one of my favorite movies, The Family Stone, one of the main characters, prints, mattes and frames a 20-year-old  beautiful maternity  image of her boyfriend’s mother.  She wraps five of them up for Christmas and gives each sibling a 16×20.  Obviously, the adult children are moved to tears (as is the mother) with this beautiful gift (the mother happens to be fighting cancer).  Today, when I do a maternity session, I often think of that scene in the movie and of that image–how honest it was. These images will most likely one day be heirlooms.

3.) If you can’t afford it, have your partner take the photos.  Put on something comfortable and cute and go outdoors at magic hour (one hour before the sun sets).  Take a few shots outdoors.  If it’s cold, bundle up in a hat and scarf to accentuate the fact that it’s a winter pregnancy.  If it’s summer, find a pool!

4.) Wear comfortable clothing. The most important thing about your images is that they look natural.  Don’t wear a bunch of clothes that you feel insecure in.  I recommend tight tank tops, boy shorts, yoga pants, t-shirts, prairie skirts, flip-flops, or absolutely nothing.  Less is more here.  I’m certainly not against doing nude or semi-nude sessions.  I think they are absolutely stunning and if you’ve got courage to do it–ROCK IT, SISTER.  All bodies are beautiful.  Especially when they are carrying life.  Bottom line–don’t over think the session with clothes and props.  This is supposed to be a session that captures “you” at this time in your life.  Be true to that.

5.) Do the Session between 32-37 weeks.  You don’t want to be a swollen, cranky fat lady, but you also want the bump to be conspicuous.  This seems to be the sweet spot, time-wise.


A day in the life of… US!

It had been way too long since we had our little family photographed.  Almost a year, in fact.  Luckily, I have a lot of photographer friends who are willing to trade.  I photograph their families, they photograph mine.  This shoot was done by the incredible Jenna Walker.  I asked her to simply come in and photograph “us”–doing what we do.  No need for looking at the camera and posing, no need for pretty light, no need for anything fancy.  Just US.  And she nailed it.  These images sum it up. Thank you, Jenna. We will treasure these forever.  And what a precious a gift to Ramona–she will look back on these in 20 years and know how loved she always was.  xo

Sara Thornton - Such beautiful family pictures, Julie!!!

Mary - So beautiful and natural! Love them!

Liz Vest - She has the sweetest face 🙂
Love her little teeth

Grzegorz - This is how Happiness looks like! Love You!

Jamie Barry - my god, Ramona, I want to meet you SO BAD!! It kills me. Julie–she is STUNNING! These are awesome pictures. Especially the one of the 3 of you in the doorway, and the one of Ramona turning around toward the camera in the red wagon. its actually really hard to pick my favorite. They are totally you guys though. she captured you guys very well. miss you. xoxo