Elsie’s Birth Part 2

Elsie’s birth was really an amazing experience, and if you haven’t had a chance to read the first part of her story, here’s the link. But I wanted to write Elsie’s birth part 2.

I got pretty lucky having three of my closest friends there for Elsie’s grand entrance to the world! I wasn’t sure it was going to work for all three of them to drop everything last minute and come to the hospital for however long it would take! They left their kids and responsibilities just to come help me. (Insert crying emoji and giant heart here!)

It was amazing having my first child, Kiera. The delivery went very well and she was completely healthy. My second child, Leila, was delivered via C-section, so that was a whole new experience. We had waited longer than we wanted for child number 2 to join our family. I was so excited for Kiera to meet Leila. My husband excitedly brought her to the hospital so she could hold her baby sister. But the hospital wouldn’t let Kiera in to hold her. It was flu season. I was more than upset. Isn’t it ALWAYS flu season? Aren’t there always germs around? Besides, this little baby was coming home to her sister anyway, what was the big deal? So we never got that experience of having the older child meet her new baby sibling.

I delivered my third child, Ryder, in a city in California that was 45 minutes away from home, depending on traffic. As badly as I wanted the older kids to meet their brother, I didn’t feel like it would work to bring the kids that far. I settled with them meeting Ryder at home a day or two later.

My Silly Dream

This is probably very silly for many people. But when I was pregnant with Elsie, all I could dream about was having all three kids there after her birth to hold her and love her. I desperately wanted them to come to the hospital to meet her! But this time, the hospital wasn’t 45 minutes away. It was an hour and a half! What was I to do? Beg. Yep. I begged my mom. She’s pretty amazing so it didn’t take more than just asking her to come. So she came before Elsie was born and then she brought the kids to meet Elsie. My mom is the one who made this dream come true. As soon as Elsie was born, she packed up all the kids, snacks, jackets, diapers, dinner, toys and iPads to make the trek to the hospital.

My kids travel fairly well, but this wasn’t an ideal time of day. There was a potty break on the drive and spilled food all over her car. My mom really rocked it, though, and made everything fall into place, just for Brandon and me.

The Hospital

The hospital pictures aren’t going to win any awards. The lighting is terrible. There’s no great posing going on. My kids’ clothes aren’t even clean. But these pictures bring me so much joy!

When Leila held Elsie for the first time she said, “Mommy, can we keep her? She’s beautiful!”

Talk about my heart melting! Kiera and Ryder were so gentle. You couldn’t wipe smiles off their faces! It felt like Christmas! Everyone was so excited to meet Elsie. The love in that room was palpable. There was an instant instinct to want to protect their little sister. Each child wanted to hold Elsie again and again.

When it came time for the kids and my mom to leave, they all wanted Elsie to go too.

My dream had come true to have the older siblings come to the hospital, and I locked every moment of it into my heart.

Thank You Mom

So thank you, Mom, for your incredible sacrifice. Thank you for staying with us before Elsie came. Thank you for dropping everything to come help me clean and organize before this baby came. Words cannot express my appreciation for driving three hours that night just so Kiera, Leila, and Ryder could meet Elsie for thirty minutes. It meant the world and more to me. These are memories I will have for forever. I love you Mom!!!

Elsie's birthElsie's birth Selfie at Elsie's birth

Hughes Family

Have you ever wished family lived a little closer? I’ve wished this on certain occasions. I wish my kids could have more time with their grandparents. Maybe it’s because I’ve been missing my grandparents lately. Well, this family, the Hughes family, is one of the lucky ones! With their grandparents across the street, and a grandmother down the hall, these kids are best friends with their grandparents! In fact, they told their grandmother she could never move, ha ha!

Hughes Family

Ricky and Melissa just had their 5th baby! And boy is he sweet! It is crazy how fast they grow. I always seem to forget how little they come, even though my own baby is only 4 months old! This baby brother is loved to the fullest by his siblings, parents and grandparents. His oldest brother was pretty excited to finally have a brother after three little sisters!

The three girls in the middle were a total blast to photograph! I coached them in the beginning with knee pops, hands on hips, and twisting at the torso. But by the end, they were reminding me that they were nailing the posing! Their smiles were infectious! They were up for anything that I wanted to try. I have the best clients!

Ricky and Melissa, I have grown to love your family so much! I can see how close you are to each other. I see your love and respect for each other. I love hearing about family dinners with grandparents. You really put family first. I admire that so much. You have taught your kids values and morals. They work hard in school and extracurricular activities. You have set a wonderful example for all parents. Thank you for allowing me to capture this time in your life when your children are little and growing! Congratulations on that sweet, new baby!

Hughes Family Hughes Family

Brandon Zile

Before I knew Brandon Zile, I knew his amazing mom, Megan. We met at a church Halloween party. That’s where I first learned that they lived on a ranch an hour outside of town. And by an hour outside of town, I mean outside of our teeny-tiny town. So they lived really far out!

Megan told me stories about her kids at the party. She told me about the ranch they lived on and how it was hard work but really wonderful too.

Megan and Dave have “yours, mine, and ours” kids that keep them on their toes. Brandon is the oldest of the seven kids. Two girls live in Southern Nevada, so when they all get together for Christmas break, we have to take pictures! We did family pictures as well as Brandon’s senior pictures. And let’s not forget Roger, Brandon’s dog! It was really fun having Roger smile for a few pictures!

Brandon Zile

Megan has often told me how proud she is of this fine young man. He is Dave’s best worker on the ranch! He works hard and has common sense when issues arise. Brandon has strong core values. He puts his family and God first. And when the work is done and it’s time to play, you will find him shooting hoops and doing wheelies on his mountain bike!

Brandon, you are one focused senior! I love that you are driven to work hard. You have a humble attitude that people can’t help but love! Your confidence in yourself is well balanced by your humility. What a wonderful example you set for your younger siblings! They look up to you and love you so much. The Pershing County Mustang basketball team is going to miss you! I hope this senior year leaves you with amazing memories. Thank you for sharing a little piece of it with me! Good luck, Brandon, in all your future endeavors!

Brandon Zile Brandon Zile

Nick and Susan’s Family Pictures

I love when families can be together for Christmas and the Christmas break! In this case, its super rare for this beautiful family to all be together! The kids are spread out, living in Hawaii and California. Kids are working and going to school, busy with life. So it is quite the treat to be together for the holidays!

Family Pictures and Making Memories

A great way to make memories is to have family pictures while everyone is together. Though it can be stressful getting everyone ready and together, putting family pictures on the walls of your home can help kids feel a sense of belonging and love. I feel honored I was able to take pictures of this fun family while they were here for Christmas break.

Boys, Boys, Boys…

Seeing this family reminds me a lot of my own family. There are so many boys! I really love all my brothers and the fun they bring to the family. This is true for this family too! The girls just get to sit back and laugh while the littlest guy gets spoiled and all the attention!

Levi, the littlest boy, brought nothing but excitement and joy to this session. His smile is my favorite! He loves his brothers and sisters so much. I loved capturing that!

Dear Nick and Susan

Nick and Susan, I have so much admiration for you and how you are able to juggle all the demands kids bring into the home! You have children out of the house that still need you. You have children in the house that demand your time and energy.

These are some amazing, talented, and kind kids! I know you play an enormous role in shaping the kind of people they have become. You are wonderful parents. It was great seeing the personalities of each one. I hope your Christmas break was special and full of memories. I hope everyone travels home safely! Thank you for allowing me a peak into your beautiful family!

family pictures

Moura Family

I had the pleasure of doing a family session for the Moura family. These are some of the kindest people in Lovelock, not to mention, super easy-going.

As we were walking through the stickers and weeds, they had smiles the whole time! Their two beautiful kids are so smart and talented in academics and sports. You can tell Lisa and Anthony are amazing parents because their kids are such great people.

I first met Anthony and Devin, their son, through a meat purchase. Not at the grocery store though. Anthony and Devin raise cattle to be butchered and sold, and a friend recommended Anthony as a place where we could buy a 1/4 cow.

Anthony has been so patient with me and my meat questions! I’m pretty sure we are his biggest fans as the best place to buy beef. It will be a sad day when we move away and have to get our meat some place else!

It is always a lot of fun for me to get to know people through photography. Although, my excitement to take pictures may have scared Devin just a bit, he totally put up with my craziness. 🙂 Hey, you can’t blame me, the clouds came out and gave us some beautiful light. I was elated! Most guys aren’t thrilled to be in front of the camera, but I had the best time teasing Devin that he should make a career out of modeling.

And, Daralyn and Lisa were total naturals in front of the camera. They are beautiful ladies on the inside and out. I’m pretty sure I could take pictures of them all day long!

Moura family, thank you so much for letting me get to know you! Thanks for trudging through the stickers and weeds, putting up with my crazy excitement for cloud cover, and just being wonderful. I know your family is a big part of this community. I’m so grateful to get to know you!

Elsie’s Birth

I woke up pretty exhausted which was normal for that late in the pregnancy. Between potty breaks and only being able to sleep on my side, every morning was too early. But this particular morning I jumped out of bed and into the shower, even though the clock read the ungodly hour of 4:45 am! You could say I’m not a morning person. But not this day! There was no feeling of wanting to pull the covers back over my head! You see, my deliveries always start early in the morning with contractions. That’s when I knew it was time! Elsie was coming! Wake the hubby, we were having a baby!

Living an hour an a half away from the hospital, Brandon was pretty nervous we wouldn’t make it in time. His biggest fear is that my water will break in the car and he will have to deliver the baby on the side of the road. I mean, I don’t blame him. If I were in his shoes, I’d be pretty petrified of that too! So that morning, he was hustling. He hustled showering. He hustled packing. Of course, I knew I wouldn’t get to eat again for hours, so I took my time and made myself some eggs for breakfast. My sweet mother was there taking care of my other kids. She was getting them ready for school.

Finally (it seemed to Brandon), I finished my eggs and we left for the long hour and a half drive to the hospital. He would ask me about every 10 minutes, “How are you doing?” worried my water would break in the car at any given moment. His nervousness was both sweet and annoying. “I’m fine honey! I’ll let you know if anything changes!” He really takes such good care of me!

Coincidentally, I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled that morning. We were very early to the appointment thanks to Brandon’s hustling. Once I was brought back to an exam room, my doctor checked me. He informed me that I had dilated to a 4.5! Things were progressing and that was exciting. My doctor recommended we head over to the hospital.

That’s when I called the best reinforcements a pregnant lady could as for! Soon, 3 of my closest friends were by my side, Ashley, Jessica, and Courtney. I had decided not to do an epidural, so I knew I would need extra help. We walked. And walked. And walked. You know the scene well, I’m sure. Brandon, along with my friends, was the greatest distraction! Each played such an important role. Brandon never left my side. He never once said, “I’m tired of walking, is it ok if I sit?” He was a rock the whole time.

Ashley has this amazing gift. She has the gift of laughter. It’s this uncanny ability to make you laugh at the smallest things.  She would crack jokes at just the perfect time to make me laugh instead of groan, haha! She brought lavender and rubbed my feet when I didn’t want to walk anymore. She timed each contraction to let me know they were almost done. She also has a photographic eye. Every picture in this post is because of her determination to capture the experience! She has an artistic eye. I will forever treasure each and every one of these pictures that tell the story of Elsie’s birth.

Jessica has the gift of encouragement. She cheered me on like a Sea Hawks fan! When I couldn’t remember how to breathe, she was there to reel me back in and focus. When I mumbled, “I can’t do this anymore,” she loudly encouraged, “You got this, Cass! Your body was made for this!” She has 4 kids, all delivered without an epidural! She was my voice when I couldn’t tell the nurses, “Can we do this later?” She totally fought for me to be able to hold Elsie uninterrupted by nurses. I know they have a job to do, but I was so grateful Jessica told them to give me time with my new baby.

Courtney brought the gift of knowledge. She is a labor and delivery nurse with experience of having 5 babies all natural, herself! When we had questions about the machine reading the contractions, she was there to answer them. When I was discouraged that my doctor hadn’t shown up to break my water, she was there to explain that I was still making progress, even though it didn’t feel like it. When it was almost time to push, she was there to remind me the most efficient way of pushing. When I felt like it was time to push, and there was no nurse, no doctor in the room, she was there to say, “Okay! Now its really time to get the doctor!”

Each friend made sacrifices to be there for me that day. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about their incredible friendship and love. I feel so unworthy to have such unbelievable friends. Brandon was such a trooper to let these ladies come. He told me later, he too, was profoundly grateful for each one and the role they played to help bring Elsie here.

After one or two pushes (it’s all a blur, really), Elsie Belle was born. The doctor did finally make it after I was ready to push. She weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces, 20 inches long, my biggest baby! She has been such a joy every day. Her birth story is one I will never forget! We love you Elsie!

Murphy Family

Kids filed into the gymnasium. It’s where they always gathered as a school. It was another regular day at the elementary school. Respect shirts could be seen worn by students and faculty. Invited parents had taken seats in the back. After the assembly, Mrs. Murphy, the principal, asked the kids to stand. Projected onto the screen was something unexpected. Something that you wouldn’t see in most elementary schools, but something that reflected Mrs. Murphy’s spontaneous personality. The Tooty Ta dance. Now if you’ve never danced to the Tooty Ta dance, stop reading and do so now!

As the song started, you could hear some kids giggling over here, and some over there. Simple moves, thumbs up, elbows back, feet apart, knees together, bottoms up, tongues out, eyes shut, turn around. It was not long and everyone was laughing! Mrs. Murphy was at the front, showing her moves, being the silly, fun, and cheerful principal as she always is. Parents pulled out their phones to video the comical scene. There wasn’t a single kid in the gym who didn’t enjoy themselves that morning.

Mrs. Murphy, you are the best principal I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. I see your love for each child. I admire the way you can turn anything boring into something really engaging. You are a lady of class and confidence! You radiate goodness. Your enthusiasm for life is infectious. I loved being able to photograph your family. I loved your willingness to trek through the weeds and stickers in a dress for this desert session! You and your family have an easy-going attitude that made for an evening of laughter. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you, your wonderful husband, and your talented sons over the short time I’ve been here. You guys are the reason my job is so enjoyable. Thank you for being wonderful!


My Best Friend

It was a normal day, just like any other in Carson City, Nevada. The sun was shining on a spring morning. I was taking care of my little girl when the phone rang. It was Courtney, my best friend, calling as she often did just to say hi and if I needed anything from the store. Then she asked me to do her a favor. Of course my response was, “Anything! You’re ALWAYS serving me!” She chuckled as she said, “Can you just ask me how old I am?” I had to laugh! It was her birthday the following day.

“How old are you Court?”

“29 Cass, I’m 29! I’m just 29 years old. Just in case you were wondering, I’m 29 today!”

“Courtney, one more time, how old did you say you are?”

“Oh I’m just 29 today Cass. Twenty…..Nine.”

We laughed and laughed! Then, the day before I turned 30, I had to call and return the favor. Courtney and her sweet husband, Dan, are always making me laugh. Their smiles and happiness are contagious!

She is also a labor and delivery nurse which has been a great source of knowledge to me over the years. Recently, she was there for the birth of my fourth child. I couldn’t have asked for a better advocate, right next to my husband, Brandon.

Courtney, you are the greatest friend in the entire world! You are always looking out for the interests of others, wanting to serve them at any given opportunity, no matter how busy you are with your own family. Your intentionality with parenting is moving and such an inspiration to me. The way you teach your children to be kind, good listeners and serve others is a direct reflection of the exceptional parent you are. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to call you friend. I love you all, Budd Family!

Wright Family

Meet the Wright family! I’m so grateful I have been able to get to know this family. They are an example of strength, faith and courage to me. They are the kind of family that bonds together during hard times, not separate. They are moving away after putting down some roots, so it was my privilege to take their photos. Its always hard to start over and move some place new, but I know this family will be just fine. They are easy to love and will make friends fast in their new area. I’m just hoping to stay in touch! Thank goodness for social media to make it super easy! I love you, Wright Family!

Knight Family

Meet one of my sweetest, dearest friends, Ashley. She has this amazing family, you see. Four little boys, a sweet husband, and then came her beautiful daughter. She’s the kind of person who never judges you. She’s the kind of person who makes extra pumpkin muffins just to share with you. She’s the kind of person who laughs at the simple things in life. She’s always inspiring me to be my best self. She is the easiest going person you’ll ever meet, not to mention completely generous and beautiful! This session was crazy with rain and wind that came from nowhere, but they were total troopers to run from the car to the weeds to get a few shots when the rain lightened up!  Gosh I love this family!