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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...

A letter to my Ramona Moon on her first birthday.

My sweet Ramona,

Today you are one. Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the year–what a crazy, beautiful whirlwind it’s been. How you’ve grown from a helpless little bundle in my arms, to a willful, vivacious little moon who has opened my eyes to all the wonders of the world. How do I write you a letter when my heart is so full, and my words, so few? I love you. I love who you’re already becoming at just 12 months of age. Your thirst for life astounds me. Your sense of humor, already sophisticated, intimidates me, and your compassion breaks my heart. You are RAMONA the REMARKABLE. You are everything I could have imagined you would be a year ago and so, so much more. When I watch you with wonder, I am constantly reminded that you are not even mine. “You are the daughter of life’s longing for itself. You are with me, but do not belong to me”. I am honored to be your mama. And I will forever cheer you on as you both dance and stumble through this life.

You are just one year-old and I am convinced, you have more life than some adults.  I love that the second you wake up, you point to 10 different things in the room, ready to take on the world.  I love that you wave your little hand and say “hi” to everybody that passes by.  I love that you laugh to yourself randomly, knowing that you must have something brilliantly funny going on in that little head of yours.  I love the shape of your head–that it once  fit perfectly  in my palm and is now heavy in my lap.  I love that you have long pieces of hair that grow over your ears and that you have none on top.  I love your bottom little teeth that you show off with pride.  I love that your smile sincerely brightens a random stranger’s day.     I love your chubby little hands and your finger that is pointing and questioning everything–  “Sthat?”.  I love that you love animals–both stuffed and real.  That you scramble on to “Big Bear’s” lap when you’re scared and that your first clear word besides Mama and Dada was “chicken”.  I love that you hate shoes.  I love that you love taking baths with me—laying on my chest some nights and splashing me on others and then laugh hysterically.  I love that you can dance the hokey pokey and have horrible taste in music.  I love that you love to make coffee with me in the morning. That you’ve learned to smell the fresh ground beans.  I love that you have only wanted to face forward since the day you were born.  That you want to see the world out front, even though I wanted you to snuggle into me.  I love that you have preferences–that you like “Goodnight Moon”, but not the “Little Engine that Could”.  And more than anything, I love your ability to laugh when others are laughing and crawl up on a lap when somebody is crying.  You are incredibly gifted when it comes to matters of the heart and the ability to read people.

One of the hardest things about being a mama is knowing that I can’t always protect you.  You will experience pain in this life  and it kills me.  I wish I could stand in the way of this, but it’s part of life and I do believe that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.   But I can promise you this.  I will always tell you the truth.  I will always listen.  I will always put your life before mine.  I will always sing you to sleep if you need it, always stroke your hair when you want it, always kiss you on the mouth, always hold your hand when you want it and put it in my pocket when you’re embarrassed.  I will always laugh with you, cry with you, and support you in whoever you choose to be.  I will always be your biggest fan.  I pray that you will never lose your confidence.  I will guard it with my life, if you will.  I pray you will know that your smile is like gold, that your heart is like God’s.  That you will continue to thirst for life, try new things, make new friends, scrape up your knees and get back up.  I pray that fear only protects you, never inhibits you, and that you’ll climb mountains like you climb the stairs now–never looking down, but always looking on, as you squeal and praise yourself.  I pray that you will be wise and defend the good in life.  That you’ll drink wine in celebration and not in woe.  And I pray that you’ll let yourself fall in love with many things and places and people. Love is truly the nectar of life.    You are special, Ramona.  You are here for a reason.  I believe that will all of my heart, and I am the luckiest mama in the world to get to hold you in my arms and kiss your toes every day.  I promise I will not take a day for granted.

Happy Birthday, my brave, wild, fun loving daughter.  You are my light in the dark.  I love you.

Watch a slideshow of our little lady here (sorry for the incomplete black border and lack of video controls… I hate Showit!)

mom - Thanks, Julie — Beautiful slide show. (Now you understand why I always wanted slide shows at birthdays in our family.) As I’ve said to many…falling in love with Ramona was not a surprise to me….I KNEW I would be head-over-heels about her. The greatest joy has been watching you and Jesse as parents. She is one blessed child!! I love you 3!!
Happy Birthday, Mona-Baby!! I love you ~ Mimi

Linda - oh …. What a doll! I know she will treasure your “gift” of words as she grows up. YOU write beautifully. Your mom says that she looks like Jesse … but, I see all of the Harris’ in her expressions. She sure is a lucky little girl .. Blessings for all of you. xoxo, Linda

You’ve Stolen My Heart, My Moon

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” – Debra Ginsberg

I find myself tearing up these days, sometimes at even the slightest provocation. A photo of my little gal can do the trick sometimes. Looking at a photo my wife took, of our jointly created little person, absorbing that face, that brilliant smile, the realization that humanity in its purest, simplest, most gloriously innocent distillation is before me now, prattling on in an unknown language, touching simple objects with great interest and taking in the world quite literally for the first time. Or I can get watery imagining all the fun we’ll have together as we both get older and the seasons of life continue to unfold. I already know that I’ll be a mess on the day she gets married. It’ll be embarrassing.

And when I hear that some poor parent out there has suffered the loss of a child, it crushes me. Now that I’m a father, the thought of losing my little girl is something that I do not want to even imagine could be possible. It is a terrifying notion that I quickly shake out of my mind. When the Newtown massacre occurred, I wept every day for three days straight. I struggled to find emotional distance from the nightmarish tragedy. I felt that those parents must be going through a hell on earth that few can imagine. And I prayed that I would be spared such things, that such unspeakable awfulness would never visit me or mine, that no act of evil or sickness or accident will ever steal away my daughter. And I pray that it never will. I pray it a lot.

Because things have changed; they are different now. I’m a father. A dad. I’ve changed demographic addresses. But far more than that, my heart, for lack of a better description, has grown mushy. Softer, more tender, more apt to injury and pain and fear. And joy. And love. And an unbelievably new awareness and wonder and consciousness about this world and this existence

I smoked cigarettes for twenty years. And drank a helluva lot too. And, honestly, I don’t know how much I cared if I went out early. I enjoyed my life for the most part. But I liked living it on my terms and I liked to smoke. And drink. And party. It was fun and I like to have fun.

I don’t smoke anymore; it’s been two years. I still drink but at a few gears lower. I love to party but the word means something else now. A party can be a small gathering of friends we know well and a glass or two of whiskey or wine, some good conversation and then we say goodnight. Then Julie and I will go watch a movie for a little while in bed if we have the energy. I go to bed earlier these days. I’m trying to eat better. Trying to take care of myself. You see, I need to be alive. And stay alive for as long as I can. I have a little person to tend to, a person to love and protect and guide and nurture. I need to be her dad. She needs a father and I want to be around to be hers.

I’ve always been someone who prays. I pray about things big and small, serious or silly, tremendous or trivial. But now, I pray often for my little gal, Ramona. Moonshine. Moon. My heart lives outside of me now. My family of three—Julie, Ramona and myself—are the point of it all for me. I worry sometimes thinking of how vulnerable I am. That if something bad was to happen to my family then I could be destroyed. But that’s what love can do, I guess. It makes you love people so much that it can do harm and cause injury. Love so much that it’s frightening. Love can make you as easily as destroy you. But it’s worth the risk, I think. No, I know it is. Anything worth having or doing or becoming is not without its risks.

And so, my heart beats for my little girl. It always beat for my Julie but it’s different with a child. She’s stolen my heart and filled me with wonder and fear and love and tears. And she lights up my life like the sun. And I thank God every day for my beautiful little Moon.


Caitlin - Wow. Just wow. So beautifully written. So honest. LOVE!

mi-mi - Jesse….beautiful! I have loved watching you with her since I first saw her in your arms, Jan 25,2012. You are a sweet, sweet daddy!

Heather - Tears in my eyes and tugging on my heart strings. I agree completely. Parenting opens up a whole new section of your heart. What a gift to experience this love on Earth. xoxo

Janna - Beautiful.

Empty Nest Syndrome

I can hardly believe that I’m saying this, as I was doing everything I could a year ago to put myself into labor, but I think I miss being pregnant.    Perhaps I’m  hyper-nostalgic right now, as Ramona’s 1st birthday is right around the corner and there’s something in the winter air or in my Clary Sage oil bath that is bringing back these memories of anticipation.  Yes.  Anticipation.  I think that is what I miss more than anything–knowing that a little girl would soon be in my arms—not knowing when or how or even where I would deliver. I was excited to see who would look like–would she have hair?  How much would she weigh?  Will I see myself in her? Or maybe even my grandmother, for whom Ramona is named after.  All of these anticipatory feelings were similar to being a kid at Christmas time. I knew there was a VERY SPECIAL package coming my way.  A year ago today I was washing and folding all of her tiny little clothes and placing them perfectly in the yellow dresser we bought just for her from a thrift store.  I was shopping for fun items for my “labor”, like massage oils and slippers, and I working on my birth mix.  I was singing to my little bean and beckoning her to come out.  I was EXCITED.  Not that I’m not excited now—the next year will be sure to hold tons of amazing “surprises” and moments that are sure to be incredible, but there’s something weighing on my heart saying that I will never again experience pregnancy again like I did a year ago–that it was a virginal, and one in a lifetime experience.


So in celebration of this nostalgia  I thought I’d post a few maternity photos that I’ve shot over the last year or so.


Here’s to pregnancy–may we savor every week (even when our feet are so swollen, we can’t wear shoes).

alison - I hate to say this but I have never missed pregnancy for a second! Maybe mine were especially miserable! I love the photo with the nod to the American Gothic painting! Funny!

Heather - I love this post! I am currently pregnant for the first time, and, although I am having some ups and downs with pregnancy, I totally agree with the feeling that there will never be another time like this. Thank you so much for this post and all of these wonderful pics of happy, loving pregnant couples!

Christmas 2012

Ramona has finally gone down for a nap.  She is all life and non-stop play.  Jesse is in the kitchen cleaning up what has become a monster mess from all the cookie plates, half drunk wine, empty pizza boxes, and loads and loads of recycling from opened presents that have gathered by the back door.  I’ve finally taken a minute to sit down and look at some of the photos I took this season.  It wasn’t many.  I put my camera away for the last 10 days except for the essential Christmas moments and two portrait shoots that I booked in September.

I have never worked a season like this one.  I usually take a break–go to Paris, or some other place to decompress and “re-stock the pond”  creatively.  But this year I needed the money and took almost every shoot that came my way.  That made it a 28 wedding, 120 shoot season.  Too much.  Never again.  I think I’ve burned that candle at both ends a little too much this year.  So in attempt at some R&R, l I’ve done NOTHING work related in the last 10 days.  I didn’t answer most emails, didn’t take meetings, didn’t blog.  It was incredible.  I could probably do this for 3 months straight and still want more down time.  But today, with my 2012 favorite songs mix playing in the background, my baby slumbering with all her new fuzzy friends, and my husband doing some house work, I somehow felt inspired.  I’m drinking some strong black coffee and am taking a moment to reflect on just how blessed I am.  I could live in a double wide with the two loves of my life and be happier than in a mansion without them.  Cliche, but true.   We have a warm fire in our fireplace, plenty of leftover goodies in our fridge, and a few bottles of nice bourbon that we got for Christmas, but above all we have PEACE that I’ve never known.  This first Christmas with Ramona has truly brought gifts that money can’t buy. Getting to re-live the season through the eyes of a child is almost better than experiencing it as a child.  I have been overwhelmed with Joy, Peace, and Love.  I can honestly say that there isn’t anything else in the world that I could ask for.  I hope you all have these same gifts and are experiencing a beautiful 2012 holiday season.  Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year.


gillian - ah, julie! i love this post. we are so much alike, even though i haven’t seen you in a million years. let’s try to get our families together some day. really. happy first baby xmas. it’s pretty tremendous, yes? love you.

jan - Oh Julie these are so precious!!! I’ve missed your blog lately .. busy out here in California, but your work and the sharing of your family is a blessing to me. The best to you and your sweet family in 2013!!