Category Archives: photography

Introducing Emma Irene

Hey guys! New Mom here. That still feels weird to write but it provides me with a new excuse for my delay in posting to the blog so I’m going to run with it.

Cool?

If you’ve been following along on social media, you’d be crazy not to know that Matt and I were greeted with an early Christmas present last month in the form of 6 pounds 5 ounces of sugar and spice and 20 inches of holy crap now we have a lot of pink clothing.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene
Definitely not a boy despite nearly every stranger and friend’s prediction, Emma Irene Zalewski joined us at 1:20 a.m. on Christmas Eve and our world has been brighter ever since.

Emma Irene, newborn, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl

Leave it to me to bring you on a roller coaster of a journey of life and death in just two blog posts, but if you’ve followed our story for any amount of time you’d know that timing isn’t really our thing so it’s no surprise that these two major familial changes happened just a few weeks from one another.

If I told you we were a few weeks away from buying a new house too would you believe me?

It’s tradition in our family to tell your birthday story each year somewhere between when the plates are cleared from dinner and the cake is served. You may think this sounds redundant and in some cases it might be, but in our family, each year provides a new opportunity for relatives to share their perspectives from the day and bicker over ‘alternative facts.’ And if you play your cards right, each year provides you the opportunity to fine tune your birth story for oversharing with friends and family in the future.

I’ve also heard its tradition in the blogosphere to share a child’s birth story as a token post shortly following their birth.

So in an effort to make sure Emma is equipped from the get-go on both fronts, I thought I’d share a few details from the day she decided she’d like to share a birthday weekend with Jesus.

#blessed.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

The Friday before Christmas, Matt and I drove up to Springfield to celebrate the holiday with the Murphy/Bosch side. My mom was hosting her side of the family on Saturday and if all went well, we could stay and celebrate Christmas Eve with my family the next day. If we’re being technical, Springfield was just outside of the recommended distance for a 37 week pregnant lady but I was feeling good and had no indications that she would arrive early. In fact, I was fairly certain that she would be late, likely 8lbs and a boy so that just goes to show how good I am at this kind of thing.

Disclaimer: I’d like to clarify that my gut is typically right on nearly everything except apparently babies.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

I woke up around 4:30 Saturday morning with what I thought was just a reaction to the rich food we had the night before. (Shout out American Harvest for your labor-inducing seasonal handmade short rib ravioli). At this stage in the game the wake up time was not unusual nor was the random discomfort, although I hadn’t had any contractions previously. It wasn’t until the 30 minute mark of consistent every 5 minute cramping that I determined they might be contractions so I did what any wife might do, I let my husband continue to sleep and downloaded a contraction timing app on my phone and laid there and tracked them for the next hour, absolutely sure with each one they would eventually stop and Christmas could go on and we wouldn’t have to drive back to St. Louis and we’d have two more weeks to finish work projects and we’d get the tax break next year and my child would never come early unless it’s just like his or her father so it’s for sure a boy if this is for real and so on.

holiday sugar cookies, iced sugar cookies, christmas cookies, baking, dessert, sweets

After about an hour of consistent every 5 minute contractions I finally woke Matt up and brought him up to speed. I would tell you we rushed out of the house to get back home but once again convinced labor would either 1) stop or 2) take a really long time so instead we had breakfast, called the doctor, helped my mom set up for the party and then finally came to terms with the fact the contractions weren’t stopping and packed up to head back mid morning.

For the sake of time, I’ll fast-forward through the labor portion of the day which consisted of little more than a drive back from Springfield, a car seat installation, some present wrapping and hospital bag packing with a side of 7-minute apart contractions before we decided to head to the hospital around 5:30 pm. once again convinced they would tell us to go back home and come back another time.

Here’s a tip for all you winter Moms-to-be. Go into labor on Christmas Eve Eve and you practically get the entire labor and delivery floor to yourself.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

I don’t know why I was expecting more noise and urgency when we arrived at the hospital, but I was. Not so much for me but for another mom-to-be who I pictured rushing past me in a wheelchair while yelling at her husband just like the movies.

Instead we arrived on an eerily quiet labor and delivery floor to ‘susan’ who pressed the copy button slower than that frog lady from sing.

In the assessment room we found out 1) my OB just so happened to be the on call for the holiday weekend so he would come in and say hello and then 2) how loudly he could laugh when I asked if we were going back home after he checked me.

Instead he told us we’d likely have a baby somewhere between midnight and 3 am on Christmas Eve because we were already halfway there.

Um. Say what?

I would tell you the next few hours were spent killing time until I progressed enough to push but let’s revisit the fact this child clearly has her father’s sense of punctuality so we had just enough time to say hello and thanks for leaving your Christmas parties to come sit in a hospital waiting room for us to both sides of family before (as predicted) Emma Irene Zalewski arrived at 1:20 a.m. the morning of Christmas Eve.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Key accomplishments in her first few minutes of life:

1. A solid set of locks. Perhaps our first and only indication that she was a she was our OB noting that her hair was at least an inch long just prior to her arrival. #hairgoals

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

2. It’s a…girl! I had a feeling after point number one was established late in the delivery but we were both shocked and delighted at the surprise.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

3. An escape attempt by Emma when the nurses tried to weigh her. All staff and parents quickly learned that this girl could not only roll over to her side from birth but she had the potential of pulling herself out of an incubator if not monitored closely.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

4. Future middle hitter-sized hands and center midfielder-worthy feet, much to the joy of her sports-enthusiast parents.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

5. A strong will and a surprisingly cute face. Disclaimer: I never doubted Matt and I would have cute kids but the baby portion of the journey I was a little doubtful on. Fortunately God gave her a deflated version of my cheeks and Matt’s hairline so she’s off to a good start.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

It’s hard to believe we’ve had this sweet girl in our world for 4 weeks now. Provided I haven’t already overwhelmed all of you with Emma photo overload, we’re looking forward to sharing monthly updates with you as we continue on our new journey as a family of three.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

We can’t thank everyone enough for the kind words, meals, flowers, gifts and did I mention pink clothes? It sure is easier bringing a new life into this crazy world knowing she’s immediately surrounded by so much love and support.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

With love, Sarah, Matt and Emma Irene.

For this child, we have prayed

It seems fitting that I begin any of my less-than-frequent blog posts lately with an apology. The intro is typically where I tell you how busy we’ve been or how sidetracked I’ve gotten with work or Finn or my success in developing a white chocolate chip cookie recipe with a texture hard enough to break records for Matt’s birthday this year.

The flavor was good, though!

So I suppose I should start this post by apologizing for my absence on the blog lately.

My bad.

The truth is I thought this would be one of the easiest posts I would ever write. After all, I’ve written this post in my head more times than I can count over the past two years. Drafting the words and willing the opportunity to actually be able to put them into print (or in this case digital format) to finally share them with our friends and family.

If you’re starting to worry, stick with me as this story has a happy ending, but given the road that brought us here, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the challenges we faced along the way.

Because as many times as I prayed for this outcome, I faced the reality of another month where the only draft I had was an alternate version that involved all kinds of tests and ‘it will happens’ and doubt.

I wanted to share the struggles we experienced because I know how many other couples face them too. I wanted to share them because I knew there were so many more that would continue to struggle even after our prayers were answered.

But I couldn’t find the words.

How ironic that when the time finally came where we felt comfortable enough to share our good news, I still struggle to find the words to actually share it with you.

For those of you keeping track, you can go ahead and mark this down as one of the few times I was ever at a loss for words in my life.

Ok, let’s move on.

And don’t think I was the only one. A lot of folks get prayer credit for this blessing. Bonus points to my mom for including it in her Lenten journey this year.

So without further ado as I just totally buried the lead by making you read this far, Finn has some news he’d like to formally share with all of you.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,

Sure he may look excited in this photo, but that was only after we told him that he and the baby would share a love for frequent naps and meals.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,

Reality soon set in once he realized all the attention would no longer be focused on him on a daily basis.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,

We are overjoyed to be able to share our good news with all of you and we are looking forward to an exciting New Year. Thank you for your continued prayers. We can’t tell you how much it means to us to be surrounded by so much love.

baby announcement, greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, baby, letterboard frame baby announcement,

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cookies: New Additions to the Family

If you follow me on social media and/or are a co-worker or family member (which let’s face it is about 99.9% of my readers), then you know I recently finished up a batch of sugar cookies.

I know what you’re thinking.

We get it Sarah. You bake. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

If that’s what you’re saying in your head right now, you’ll be happy to know I was ‘over them’ about a week ago. Truth is, if I don’t post about them today, we’ll be into the New Year and my sugar cookie-filled jolliness will be overwhelmed by resolutions and complaining about all the new people at the gym.

So in an effort to not repeat myself from year’s past posts about similarly shaped cookies, I’ll simply focus today’s post on the new additions to the Murphy Zalewski Christmas Cookie Family.

Fun fact: Did you know that Matt doesn’t even like these sugar cookies? Each year I end up making alternative batches of cookies and treats each year for him because he prefers a soft cookie to a hard one.

#peoplepleaser

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

This year’s bunch featured some old favorites (see presents and trees) and a few newbies.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

It’s amazing what opportunities open up when you decide to add two new colors to the mix. The trees got trunks, Frosty got a hat and nose and Frosty’s faceless friend Gingerbread George made an appearance.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In other news I finally discovered that the squiggly portion of the ornament was actually the metal part so they joined the fam again after a few years of being shunned for their awkwardness around the holiday.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite Santa, who got a spray tan and his brows done for the 2016 holiday season.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In an effort to always improve, I thought this year might be a good time to share how far we’ve come with this particular Christmas cookie family.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And just like the holiday season, some years your tree is pretty and some years Santa threw back one too many before the annual family photo. The important thing is that you all spent time together.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to make a long and unrealistic list of fitness and organizational goals for the coming year. Here’s to giving it the old college try!

Happy New Year!

 

On Christmas cards 

Oh hey guys.

I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that I have not prioritized spending quality time with my blog as much as I should have lately. Turns out when you move closer to friends and family you actually end up spending more time with friends and family. In person. Like real life BFF and heart eye emojis. I suppose that’s actually good news packaged as bad news but I’m an optimist so sue me.

The other good news is that my wordpress domain automatically renewed itself so at least one half of this relationship is committed for another year.

You may be wondering, so Sarah what’s it like to have all these words and random musings in your head but not making enough time to share them with the blogosphere regularly?

You’ll have to ask Matt but I’d imagine it’s equivalent to the reaction you’d get by bringing your husband with you to Target two weeks before Christmas. #somanythresholdmusthaves #somanypeopleintheaisle

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Speaking of husbands, it’s time for double Jeopardy.

I’ll take things husbands say each year when it comes time to order Christmas cards for 800, Alex.

People actually pay professional photographers to take Christmas card photos? Seriously? Well, we will not be those people.

Can’t we just buy some with snowmen or holly on them and be done with it? 

They cost how much? 

We might as well send Valentine’s Day cards at this point 

Next category is things you hear when your sister asks you to bring home your camera for the weekend to ‘get a few photos’ of she and the boys for Christmas cards and you have approximately 35 minutes of daylight and 10-12 minutes of patience from 3/4 of your subjects.

I’m cold.

I’m cold.

I’m cold. 

Think we got any good ones? 

Ok let’s go I’m cold. 

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By the power of the Christmas spirit we survived another Christmas card season. Even with Jake in tow.

 

Matters of the heart

They say time flies when you’re having fun.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

And they also say you should probably create your wedding video prior to the eve of your first anniversary.

Well I say two out of three ain’t bad.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since our wedding day. On the one hand it feels like just yesterday we were finalizing details and using all the big-ticket grandparent prayers we could for what turned out to be a beautifully sunny and warm spring day. On the other hand it seems like so much has happened over the past 365 days:

Dinner and a view. 🌅

A post shared by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

  • We enjoyed some romantic meals and date nights

Romantic training room lunch today with @mtzalewski.

A post shared by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

  • And we had a lot of visitors

Two out of three are already on their second icee in as many innings. #gobirds

A post shared by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

So since I’m sure my husband is already celebrating our anniversary across the world right now in Goa, India (barring another record heat-induced power outage), I thought I’d share my better late than never look back on the day that I was blessed with the opportunity to walk through life holding this guy’s hand.
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Sarah + Matt

(photos courtesy of the oh-so-talented Wright Photographs)

Wedding Snapshots: Bridal Party

You know this whole newlywed thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sure it started off easy enough. Honeymoon in Italy. Frequent trips to Crate and Barrel to buy more ramekins. Date nights every weekend.

But then three months go by and you find yourself feeling isolated and filling the time with conversations with your dog. OK, so you’ve always talked to the dog but last week you were somewhat convinced he actually had an opinion on which direction you began your evening walk.

They say communication is the key to a good relationship and considering I received a bachelors degree in it, I’d have to agree, but I’d go ahead and put an addendum in it that added the following:

FaceTime.

FaceTime. Saving marriages where one party goes to Prague for 11 days, comes back for 4, leaves for Manchester another 14 days, comes back for 10, leaves for Mexico for 7 days, comes back for 14 and then spends the remainder of October in Chile. Not that I’m counting the days or anything.

Technology is an amazing thing. Sure the time difference can be tough and the frequency in which you bounce ideas off the dog instead of your new husband a little odd, but the truth is, being able to communicate with someone even when they’re across the globe for work is pretty awesome.

I’ve always considered myself a pretty independent person. If independence is defined as someone who surrounds herself with family and friends and loved ones because she feels more whole when she’s spending time with others than when she’s by herself. See also needy extrovert.

So what are you getting at with your facetious references to marital woes and global technology, Sarah?

I’m so glad you ask.

I’m starting to think distance may in fact make the heart grow fonder? At least it seems to be working for me as it relates to Matt, my family and our friends.

When your social circle shrinks exponentially whether it be due to a cross country move, the addition of children or a busy work schedule, your blessings really seem to come into focus.

Blessings in the form of friends and family who take time to reach out amongst their busy schedules. Who maintain friendships over the years even as shared interests and activities wane and who most recently, spend time and money to be a special part of your wedding day, not getting nearly enough credit or publicity for doing so:

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So I’d like to invite you to the grand opening of the Murphalewski B&B this September. No pressure to book early, but I should mention that our beach was recently named #1 in the USA on TripAdvisor and we have over 250 days of sunshine annually.

See you soon!

Wedding Snapshots: the details

When it comes to wedding and party photos, I’m a sucker for detail shots. And if you’re a sucker for detail shots then we should be best friends. Which is pretty much what our photographer and I became as soon as I looked at her work and saw that she appreciated the little details just as much as I do.

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There’s just something in the details. Don’t get me wrong, you may not get the same emotion with a detail shot as you do with a candid, but I love the way that the details give you a feel for the entire day. As if the theme (if there is one) is all wrapped up into a pretty little detailed package.

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So without further ado, here are some details from our wedding day taken by the talented Wright Photographs out of Champaign.
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