My Family

Our next adventure!

We have had so many adventures so far… When we moved to Alabama 7 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a successful photographer, have 5 kids, home school them, be planting a berry patch, or a fruit orchard, have bee hives, chickens AND about to build a farm house on 17 acres of land…

Our family is finally complete, and in less than 2 weeks we will be moving out of the only home 3 of my kids have ever known, and in to an apartment close to my favorite photography location.  Our land.

This video is to help us remember right now, before everything changes. Our dreams are on our doorstep and I can’t wait to document every beautiful detail along the way!

Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to get future updates as our dreams grow even bigger! <3

 

10 healthy dinners that my whole family loves!!!

Lets talk about something that has absolutely nothing to do with photography.

Something that is only one step above my least favorite daily thing I do every day.

Something that CREATES my least favorite thing to do…

Cooking food.

I know…  There are a lot of people out there that LOVE cooking.  I just don’t.  AND it creates dishes.  I hate doing dishes. So I play this game while I am cooking, to see how few dishes I can use to create dinner. Lol.  I am also a firm believer that no “unitasker” belongs in my kitchen (thank you Alton Brown <3)

So why am I writing this?

It’s complicated.  You see, as much as I have an intense dislike for cooking, I actually care about the food we eat quite a lot.  Health starts in the gut, and through my Hashimoto’s diagnosis last year, I strongly believe that our food really matters.  My mom was always a bit “crunchy”.  Growing up, she often baked our bread to avoid the preservatives, there was always a veggie tray on the counter as our snacks, fruit was the go to sweet treat, and most everything she cooked didn’t require a box.

I started off with a good model of what “healthy eating” looked like, but matched with my distaste for cooking, and how much more work creating meals with fresh items is, and 6 years in college (working full time AND going to school full time) I developed a more “simplified” way to eat (packaged food on the go) After that came about 4 years of seriously struggling with my thyroid levels, and barely keeping my head above water.

Fast forward a few years and we moved from Alaska to Alabama.  We were on a tight budget, and I hit couponing HARD!  It got us through the lean times, but it truly wasn’t a healthy way to eat.  Slowly, I started to shift.  I found a local co-op where I could order high quality food in bulk to get the price a bit lower.  I found a source for raw milk and I started cooking from scratch.  All the while, I was popping Sudafed and Motrin like there was no tomorrow!  For the past 8 years, I easily had a headache that bordered on migraine 5-6 days a week!  It wasn’t always like that, but around the time my thyroid crashed, I started getting them, and it slowly started to take over my life.

My husband finally got mad at me. “JENNI, you are spending a ridiculous amount of time providing healthy food for our family, but you have got to stop “just medicating”, and figure out what is wrong!  Its not healthy!”  He was not nice about it… but it was said in love with lots of frustration.

 

He was right.

I started researching different supplements that might help treat the cause instead of the symptoms…  It took 6 months to finally stumble upon Turmeric.  Apparently, my headaches were driven by inflammation (something that makes complete sense now that I have my Hashi’s diagnosis) and Turmeric helps decrease inflammation.  Once I had that figured out, I learned that there are 5 main foods that contribute to inflammation in the body.

Sugar   –   Wheat   –   Soy   –   Corn   –   Conventional Dairy

I began to pay attention and keep a food journal.  I noticed that sugar gave me an instant headache, and wheat made my joints feel 20 years older.  I could eat some corn and soy in moderation, but too much would give me a lot of edema in my hands/feet and make them ache like I had arthritis.

I can’t even tell you how amazing AND frustrating it is to FINALLY figure out why I have felt like crap for the last FOURTEEN YEARS only to realize I will never be able to indulge in Christmas morning cinnamon rolls and birthday ice cream cake without serious consequences.  I had figured out the puzzle to feeling better, but the answer was difficult to accept.

You know what happened though?

The headaches went away.  I don’t feel like there is sand in my joints anymore, and I actually have motivation to DO things again! So when I talk about “eating clean” or “healthy food”, I’m not just talking about something trendy or a way to loose weight.  I am talking about dramatically improving the quality of my life, and actually enjoying living it again. <3

All that to say, I have gotten really good at cooking healthy foods that don’t require a ton of time or require you to use every dish in my kitchen! (I know, I know…  Took me long enough to get to the point. lol)

 

So, here you go!  My favorite 10 healthy dinners that my whole family loves!!!

 

Rainbow Chicken Salad (My kid’s favorite salad!)

BBQ Ranch Salad (Probably MY favorite salad in the whole world!  I replace the onion with avocado, swap the tortilla strips for crunchy onions, and make the BBQ dressing by thinning BBQ sauce with seasoned rice vinegar and a dash of cyan!)

White Chicken Chili (Had this last night and they ALL went back for seconds and thirds.)

Home Made Spaghetti (I always make a huge batch of this and freeze the extra for a quick dinner.  It’s the same sauce I use for ratatouille, meatball marinara and spaghetti squash bake as well.)  This is a family recipe, so don’t loose it!!!

  • 1 lb. Hamburger
  • 1 tbs. Dried Onions
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Basil
  • 2 can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can Tomato Paste
  • 2 tbs. Sugar
  • 2 Trappeys Jalapeños chopped
  • 2 tbs. Jalapeño Juice

Brown hamburger with dried onions. Then add basil, oregano and sugar. Salt and pepper to taste. Dump in cans of tomatoes, sauce and paste. Add jalapeños and juice. Simmer for about ½ – 1 hour. Cook noodles for 10 min and eat.

Tacos (I normally skip the tortilla and put it all over lettuce.)

Hamburgers (Just add a package of Lipton’s Beefy Onion Soup Mix and a splash of Worcestershire to the meat before making patties.)  No sugar apple sauce and sweet potato fries to the plate and call it done.

Breakfast Casserole (I add spinach, mushrooms and sausage to this as well.  I also intentionally make extra and my husband eats it for breakfast the rest of the week.)

Chicken on the grill with mashed sweet potatoes, cooked mushrooms and broccoli. (I also do the meat in my instant pot if the weather is crappy.)

Beef and barley soup. (It is SOOO good!  Shout out for the Eating for Life cook book!)

Pork Tenderloin with asparagus and sweet potatoes. (Love me some Alton Brown. <3 )

 

I plan to share more recipe/food ideas in the stories on my Instagram account in the future (all mixed in with pretty pictures of course) if you would like to follow along.  <3

 

I get my chicken from Zycon Foods

I order a lot of stuff from Azure Standard

I also order a lot of stuff from Amazon

 

So that’s pretty much it…

I hate cooking, dishes are even worse… college, couponing, headaches, medicating, buying in bulk, autoimmune disease…  and all along, the thing that “fixed” me wasn’t medicine (although I do take thyroid daily), it was food.

If this helps even one person, it was worth the time to write it. <3

Leave any questions in the comments. <3

Dark kitchens and crappy light…

Hello!

It has been WAY TOO LONG since my last personal post.  I am sure the 5 kids, homeschooling, busy season, the holidays, an autoimmune diagnosis and a teething baby have something to do with it… lol

It is what it is, and I will try and do better. (but no promises) ;-)

So I joined a “Project 52” this year.  There aren’t any weekly themes and the only rules are that you submit 2 images each week that were taken that same week of your own personal life.  I decided to join as a way to stay accountable.  My own family’s photos sadly, fell through the cracks this past year.  We had our last baby this past year (who is now ALREADY 7 months old!) and we will be moving out of our home and in to a rental soon, to get ready to build on our 17 acres of land.  So many changes and adventures are coming our way, and I desperately want to document it.  This is our story, with our completed family, and the first step towards so many of our dreams will be happening this year.

The last time I participated in a 52 week project, I lasted until week 22 and then fizzled miserably.  Since then I have thought “if I’m not going to finish, whats the point?”, until I was going through personal photos a couple months ago…  You know what?  Some of those shots I took in the first 22 weeks are some of my FAVORITES!  Who cares that I didn’t finish!?!  I got some precious shots I would never have otherwise been motivated to take, that represented us, and perfectly documented them.  This year, I will need all the accountability I can get. lol.

One of the reasons I am so excited for our future home (which isn’t built yet) is that it will have LIGHT!  Currently, our home has the kitchen and living area in the middle of the house.  There is very little natural light, and as you know, I love light!  I can’t help but pick up my camera when the light is beautiful, but on the other hand, it is really hard for me to get inspired when the light is crappy.  Add in 5 kids worth of messes, and my house is just about the least inspiring place for me to take photos in the entire world. lol

The problem though, is that we live our entire life in the kitchen and living room!

Last week I was scrolling Instagram (Are you following Jenni M Photography, Jenni M Designs, and my personal account?) and had the thought “I can’t wait to take sink bath photos in our new house!”  Just as quickly as the thought came, I realized, “I won’t have a baby by the time we finally get the house built!” :-(  Time never slows down…  As close as we are to my dream of a light filled, more minimalist inspired home, my baby just won’t wait that long.

I have to document our “now” right NOW or else it will be lost.  I can’t document her rubber band wrists, the fascination of dripping water, her back rolls and the way she kept licking the water off her lips like it was a special treat in a year, because it will be gone.  forever.

So the light…  I had to figure something out…  I loaded the dishwasher (because I ALWAYS have dishes in my sink) cleaned the sink, filled the sink and got my camera ready.

I knew our crappy florescent bubble light on the kitchen ceiling wasn’t going to cut it.

I then turned it off to see if that would work.  Nope.  Too dark.

Then I tried the LED light by itself.  Nope. Too harsh.

Then I grabbed the milk jug, put it in front of the LED light and turned on the overhead light as well.  Yup, that will do.

My house wasn’t picked up, my other 4 kids kept trying to “help” and the rest of my kitchen still needed to be cleaned, but I kept telling myself “If they don’t turn out, I don’t have to share them anywhere.  They are about her, nothing else.”

And you know what happened?  I freaking love them!  I can’t even tell you how much my heart hurts at the thought that I was just going to not take them because I didn’t have a beautiful sink with a window behind it.  They aren’t perfect, but they are our “right now” and that is priceless to me.

So if you are still hanging in there and have read this far…

Stop waiting until your life looks perfect.  Stop waiting until your house looks better, walls are painted, clothes are clean, kids are easier, floors are clear, weight is lost…

Because as much as I believe professional photography is worth every penny, I also believe your every day moments need to be documented too.  Who cares if they are crappy cell phone photos!  If you take 20 and only 1 “turns out”, THAT’S OK!  Photos are about remembering.  We love them so much because they bring back memories.  If you want to learn how to better use your cell phone for every day moments, I can’t recommend the Every Day Artistry guide enough.  It’s beautifully written, and has so many great tips on how to get better images from your camera phone.

So what does my life look like?  I am truly excited to share some peeks and highlights with you over the course of this year.  You are welcome to join me in the Project 52 as well (hosted by the same photographer that wrote the guide I linked above)!  You don’t have to be a “pro photographer” to be a part of it.  Come document your life with me. <3

Our Moments In June

Holy chicken!!!  I can’t believe how many pictures I took this month!  It’s a good thing I started editing them early…

 

What would the 4th of July be without sparklers and fireworks?!?

 

I hear “Can I hold the baby?” about a million times a day and it seems like we are all a little extra tired lately. lol

She has changed our world and we are all so much better for it. <3

 

Dress up

We found a blue hat at Unclaimed Baggage that he absolutely fell in love with!

 

Madie had her newborn photos taken with Heartstrings by Heather.  Heather is a wonderful photographer and seriously amazing at styling! I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  I got to take a few behind the seines shots for Heather while she worked.

 

3 week check up!  I am wondering if the scale was off… lol.  She was only 7lb 1oz when she was born.  I am having a hard time believing she gained a whole 1lb 10 oz in just 3 weeks!

 

My Aunt Patti came down from Indiana to visit!  While she was here she cooked for us (many times), cleaned my house, painted both of the kids rooms, watched the kids so I could go run errands and gave us some great tips on how to improve our bowling score!  Can’t wait to see here again in September!!!

 

I couldn’t help it!  I decided to take a few newborn images of my own. <3

I don’t know how she didn’t wake up with 4 wiggly kids touching her at the same time, but I seriously love how it turned out.  So much sentimentality in one image!

 

I may need to take a shot like this every month.  The couch cushions would be a great way to show her growth!

Emma decided Madie needed someone to snuggle with.  She told me that she loves her baby doll and wanted Madie to play with her. lol

 

#FarmLife

She was just standing there in her cute “twirly dress” and the wind was blowing in her Xtrutuf boots…  I absolutely love going out to the land.  So many beautiful moments while we work on our dreams.

 

Many of the images I took this month were taken on my new Fuji x100f.  I purchased it primarily for my personal photos but after taking these with an underwater housing I am seriously considering using it to offer pool sessions next year!  I seriously LOVE it!  I have always struggled with needing an extra bag and an extra hand for my D750.  The Fuji has enabled me to capture personal moments that would have just gone undocumented.  It’s small enough to go with me EVERYWHERE (including the pool!) and that is exactly what I needed.

I think I may need another external hard drive if I keep taking pictures the way I have been this past month! lol

But seriously, I am so pleased with my Fuji x100f.  It’s small enough to bring it everywhere with me and I can hold it with one hand! (a must if you have 5 kids)  I have been able to capture so many more moments than I would have with my Nikon.  It’s seriously a game changer as I pursue documenting my own family. <3

Our Moments

Wow!  I knew this past month felt busy, but as I went through all the photos I was surprised at how many I had.  I am really enjoying my renewed commitment to our own family photography.  I am having a hard time remembering to bring along my camera, and now with a newborn, I won’t have 2 hands to take photos with.  I have been eyeing the Fuji X100F.  I finally pulled the trigger and ordered it yesterday.  I am hoping it will give me the ability to continue documenting our moments with one hand on the go! lol

This past month Michael was mowing the back yard and saw this little bunny.  It didn’t even move when he walked over to pick it up.  The kids all got to hold it before we let it go through the hole under the fence. <3  Emma cried when he let it go though.  She told her daddy later “I wanted to keep the baby bunny forever.”

 

I have been adding items to my client closet quite a bit lately…  Lots of mama dresses, but I am also trying to have a good selection of children’s accessories and outfits as well.  The hat and suspenders are from Roman & Leo and the adorable outfits my daughter is in, are from a local boutique designer, Petticoat Patch.  I absolutely love it when I get to use my own kids as models.  It gives me an excuse to get some “professional photos” of them.  I honestly have so many ideas that I want to do with my kids but finding the time to pull it off doesn’t often happen.

The truck they are sitting on was my husbands Grandpas.  My husband is planning on restoring it with our boys as they grow.  Until then it makes the perfect classic “Southern Summer” prop as they ate their fresh peaches.

More pics of different dresses available in the JMP client closet. <3

 

I read somewhere that “Children don’t truly own anything, so when they give you a gift, even if it is just a rock, they are giving you everything they have.” As soon as I processed it, I realized how true and meaningful that bit of wisdom was.

He gathers treasures for me everywhere he goes. I have a special little pile of dried flowers, rocks and little trinkets he has found for me over time sitting next to my computer. <3

 

This past month we celebrated my husbands Grandparents 60th wedding anniversary.  A good chunk of his family came to town and we had a great time visiting and catching up.  We both come from large families so when we all get together it makes quite a large group!

It was also the weekend of Fathers Day.  After taking photos for the “big group”, my 4 year old Noah (who idolizes his daddy and after we gave him his new shirt ran in to his bedroom and changed his to “match”) asked me to take a picture of him and dad together.

 

The biggest thing that happened this past month was that we were blessed to welcome Madison Joy in to our family.  Born June 30th at 3:15pm, 7lb 1oz, 19in long.  Long story short, she is completely perfect in every way and we are head over heals in love with her.

I am already looking forward to going through all of the photos of our kids getting to know their little sister for next months post (and experimenting with my new camera!). <3

Huntsville & Madison Family Children Lifestyle Photographer Jenni M Photography – My June Moments

I am a photographer, but way before I was a photographer, I was a mother.  In fact, the whole reason I was drawn to photography was because I had all of these gorgeous “mommy moments” that I wanted to remember for always happening every single day that I just had to figure out how to save them.

I LOVE what I do, but this past year got a little out of control!  JMP grew way faster than I anticipated, but it came at a time we really needed the money.  We have been dreaming of buying some land to build on for a long time, and 2 months ago, all of our hard work and saving paid off when we closed on 17 acres of property that is just perfect for us in every way.  We couldn’t be more excited!

Now that we have the property, so many things need to be done!

BUT

In all of the crazy, I keep thinking “Our new home will be perfect to take more photos in!”, and then after a bit I started realizing that isn’t good enough.  We probably wont be in our new home for another 2-3 years. (getting this house ready to sell, selling it, moving, finding a builder, building a house, then moving again…)  Our 5th child will hopefully be born later this month (DD is June 30th so I am PRAYING she doesn’t come late. lol) and I refuse to wait until she is 2-3 years old to start documenting our moments again when it will be easy, because to be honest, with 5 kids I am pretty sure there will never be an easy time to do anything!

I have to make our own moments a priority!  NOW!!!

So here is the first month.  There aren’t nearly as many every day images as I would like but it’s a start.  My goal is to blog our own moments once a month over this next year and get a lot better about taking my camera out for my own family much more often. <3

 

Both of my girls love to color and draw.  Part of Lauren’s school work is to do a drawing lesson each day.  Emma came along after she was done and decided she wanted to do a bit herself. ;-)

 

I went to the most amazing photography workshop this past month.  In the airport on the way home I found a blue (his FAVORITE color) airplane with doors that open and close.  He has played with it constantly ever since.

 

Little hands with big imaginations.

 

“Mom, can I have some tap stick?”

 

A day on Lake Guntersville.  It was gorgeous. <3

Sunset.  My favorite time of day.

 

Waiting for the bats to exit their cave for the night!

These are getting printed ^^^ <3

 

She is trying SO HARD to not take naps any more…  Sometimes she just can’t help it though.  These sleepy days won’t last much longer…

 

Michael, my husband graduated with his BA this past month. Accomplishing this while working full time, taking care of us, being a fantastic dad to our 4 kids and now he is talking about getting his Masters.  Love you like crazy!!!

 

Every year in Kodiak, Memorial Day weekend was the time that they hosted the Kodiak Crab Festival.  Technically, it wasn’t anything special.  Fair food and rides (but they had to be small enough to fit on the ferry).  We always enjoyed watching the survival suit race and the Coast Guard drills, but the thing that made it special was the people.  The beauty of a small town is that you know just about everyone.  Even if it was raining (and it does that an awful lot in Kodiak), you would find people you knew out visiting with their hoods up to protect them from the rain.  It was always a weekend that we looked forward to.

When we moved to North Alabama, we knew we needed to find something to keep the homesickness at bay.  Photos of the festivities “back home” would fill our Facebook feed and we needed to stay busy.  When we heard about the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic, we figued it was worth a try.  It was so much fun!  This was the 6th year we have been, and I have never gotten tired of watching my kids as they take it all in.  We still see images of friends in Kodiak roll across our FB feed, but we have made so many new memories with our new tradition, and they are our moments forever. <3

This was the first year our youngest was old enough to understand what was going on.  Watching her eyes get big as the first balloon rose from the ground, wincing a bit when the heat of the burners hit her face, covering her ears from the noise of the fan…  It was all new but so magical for her.  She has been talking about it with bright eyes ever since!

It was a good day <3

Overall, I didn’t pull out my camera enough this month…  I really need to make it a habit, but I took it out more than I did the month before, and that is progress.  Little victories right?

 

I specialize in “Family” Photography (Children, Newborn and of course Families) with a lifestyle and fine art twist.  I love this style blend as it helps me focus on showcasing beautiful connections while incorporating the imagination of the every day magical moments.

For more information about my packages click HERE.

To book a session call (907-942-2358) or email jenniMphotography@gmail.com
I would love to hear from you!

Huntsville & Madison Family Children Lifestyle Photographer Jenni M Photography – Baby Jane

These two. <3  Seriously love them both!  This is my sister in law and my sweet new niece.  My brother is deployed overseas right now so these two came to Alabama to visit.  It’s the first time we got to meet Jane and she is just as sweet as can be!  My kids absolutely fell in love with her and I can’t help but be excited for when they meet their new sister in June.  I am going to have to keep a really close eye on our new one…  They might just smother her with toys and kisses. lol

Welcome to the family sweet Jane.  As you grow, you will find that we are BIG (there are lots and lots of us), and loud, and crazy, and opinionated but we love you like crazy and you are stuck with us for life. ;-)

I specialize in “Family” Photography (Children, Newborn and of course Families) with a lifestyle and fine art twist.  I love this style blend as it helps me focus on showcasing beautiful connections while incorporating the imagination of the every day magical moments.

For more information about my packages click HERE.

To book a session call (907-942-2358) or email jenniMphotography@gmail.com
I would love to hear from you!

Huntsville & Madison Family Photographer Lifestyle – My own backyard

So many times my own personal photos never make it to the blog.  Rarely do I to a “whole session” with my kids.  It is a little here, a little there whenever I see something I want to capture and they happen to be having a happy moment. lol

I need to post more of them though <3  So here are a few of my favorites from the past little bit of time. :-)

JMP FR-2

JMP FR-5

JMP FR-4

JMP FB-4

I specialize in “Family” Photography (Children, Newborn, Birth and of course Families)
as well as weddings and focus on showcasing the unique bond
and beautiful connections that are found in your own relationships.

To book a session call (907-942-2358) or email jenniMphotography@gmail.com

I would love to hear from you!

Huntsville & Madison Alabama – Family Children & Lifestyle Photographer – January Family Photos

My January installment of our personal photos :-)

New experiences for a new year!!!

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Cold and bright <3

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A busy day didn’t allow for a nap…

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This blanket is her most favorite thing in the whole world!

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5 months old!

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Madison Alabama Huntsville Al Family Children and Lifestyle photography

Madison Alabama Newborn Lifestyle Photographer: An Unexpected Gift

My life is a little crazy right now…  It is a wonderful crazy but crazy none the less.  I am determined to rock this “mom of 4” thing but right now I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water!  Emma was born August 1st and I gave myself 1 month before we started our home-school year.  Our last 3 weeks of school have gone great but there is no way to get around the fact that it is just one more time intensive thing that I have to fit in the day.  Ethan is 6 and working his way through 1st grade, Lauren is 3 and enjoying lots of preschool activities, Noah is 1 and BUSY, Emma is 7 weeks old now and is just needing the normal amount of attention a newborn requires.

Did I mention my life is crazy right now? lol

When my husband and I got married he said he wanted 3-4 kids and I said 4-5…  Fast forward 11 years and our 4th child is 7 weeks old and I am struggling with the idea that this might be our last baby.  I LOVE babies so this is a hard thing for me to process through.  Do I want to be pregnant again? NO!  Am I feeling overwhelmed with what is currently on my plate? YES!  Do I dream of a time when I will have more time to devote to my photography business? ALL the time!  Am I ready for the idea of being “done” with babies?  Now that is a MUCH harder question to answer…

With that said, our most recent addition was not a “planned” addition.  We knew we wanted another baby but she was not “in the plan” yet.  This past year was supposed to be all about JMP!  Instead I spent it pregnant and knowing that I would have to take things much slower.  It was a struggle.  I had planed out the whole year already and all of the sudden everything I had planned needed to be changed or put on hold.  Emma is just about the sweetest little person you have ever met.  I can’t imagine our life without her and she has 3 adoring older siblings that we have to protect her from because of how “aggressively” they love on her!  We are blessed beyond measure and I thank God every day that he didn’t let me have my plan.

I was busy cleaning up our living room trying to get ready for company and glanced over to her swing.  I can’t express the love I have for this little person.  She is simply perfect, exactly the way God intended her to be, in our family for a reason.  How is that not one of the most beautiful things in life?

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How she can possibly sleep this peacefully through a 6, 3 and 1 year old’s noise I have no idea but I know without a doubt she is a precious gift and I refuse to wish away the days!  I am going to try my hardest to soak it all in, because babies don’t keep and she just might be my last…