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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...

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

A Little Dirt…


Mama got a lot of work done in the yard last week thanks to this makeshift sandbox–errr, dirt box?  We are still working on figuring out a sandbox solution, but for now this is really doing the trick.  I mean, HOURS of fun for Ramona.  Be it cold weather in her winter coat, or the nice 70 degree spring days in a onesie, Ramona is game to dig all day in our dirt–and now I have a nice spring till for my herb garden, thanks to her little plastic rake.  At first I worried about her eating the dirt.  And of course she did, and even ingested some vermiculite (which according to the poison control center is harmless in small doses).  But the mouthful of earth and the dirt under her fingernails and in her thigh rolls were all a small price to pay for a couple of hours for me to do my own digging in the yard.  But honestly, the best part about it all is seeing Ramona enjoying some independent play time and perfecting those fine motor-skills.

margie woods brown - I LOVE these!! She is so darned CUTE!! XOXOXO

Jamie - oh my goodness look at her!! She is such a doll! I hope my little girl will help me in the garden this summer too! You’ve got me inspired! miss you julie.

Lillian - Love the capture of her focused work! Grandma

Megan - Holy crap I love these. I want to swim around in those amazing eyes of hers! Plus dirt and kids are just kind of synonymous, right? Just beautiful.