Hello, hello!

2016 is bringing a lot of changes for me personally and with my business. I would eventually like to focus solely on weddings, engagements, and bridals but for now I’m still taking family sessions. I guess you could say that I’m essentially “rebranding” myself. I see the big picture of where I want to be, I just need to start climbing that mountain in order to get there!

One thing that my clients always tell me how comfortable they feel with me. I’m not a photographer that will book you without meeting you, I’m not a photographer that is a stop on your assembly line during the making of your wedding. I get to know my clients, I want to hear about your stories, how you met, how many kids you want (if any) and what your goals are. I want to know what type of pets you have, what your hobbies are, I want to know who you are as a person. (I swear, I’m not some creeper! I find that this helps me tell your story. If I get to know what your style is and what type of couple you are I can better serve you on your big day. I take an interest in you because I care about you!)

So, I thought I’d introduce myself to the world and let you know a little bit about who I am. One of my big goals for 2016 is to blog more! I used to reserve my blog for special occasions and favorite sessions, but not anymore! I’ll be posting snippets of my life on here so that you can see who I am and get to know me! That way when we meet and I hug you (because that’s who I am, I am a hugger!!) it’ll be like we’re old friends.

I’m more than just a photographer. I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a weight lifter, a dog rescuer, a basset hound lover, a Catholic, a Philadelphia Phillies and (most of the time) Eagles fan, a best friend, just a girl who loves being silly, and a sufferer of fibromyalgia. I’m so many more things than these…I just figured I’d keep the list short!

I met my husband a little over 11 years ago while I was in college at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. My roommate and I were walking her dog when we saw another dog get hit by a car. My first instinct was to run and make sure the pup was ok, which for the most part he was. His face was a little ruffed up but otherwise he seemed to come out of it with a few scratches and no big breaks. He didn’t have a collar on so I followed him to see where he would end up. He stopped in a backyard  near a dog house that I assumed to be his, so I ran home and wrote a note to the owner explaining what happened and taped it to their door. I left my and my roommate’s information and the went out of town the next day to see my brother. Long story short- the dog’s owner came by to say thank you, introduced me to his brother (my husband) and the rest is history. After two weeks we were inseparable, at 5 months he proposed, and 14 months later we were married. There was never a doubt in my mind that we were rushing it or that we didn’t know each other well enough to get married. In January of 2006 he moved to Virginia to start a new job and I didn’t follow him until July. In that time period we saw each other twice! The second time was only for 2 weeks before we were married in August of 2006. This is why I am a total believer in love and fate. We’ve been through so much together and have come out stronger. God placed this man in my life for a reason and I’m beyond blessed to walk through the rest of my time on earth with him by my side.

I’ve always been a basset hound lover. I grew up with one and by the time Justin and I had been together 10 months we got our first dog, Peewee, from the pound and our second dog, a basset hound, Sophie, from a breeder. Once we were a little more settled in our marriage we decided to foster bassets. We ended up failing twice and adopting two boys- Bubba and Stanley. Bubba passed from cancer about 2 1/2 years after we adopted him and Stanley has defied all odds and is still with us. We don’t know how old he is since he was an adult by the time he got to us. Every vet tell us he is at least 12+ years old. He’s been by my side for 6 wonderful years and hopefully we have many more together. Unfortunately we lost Sophie this past fall and our family hasn’t been the same since. The greatest gift I’ve ever been able to give her was to hold her in my arms as she peacefully passed. As much as it comforted me to do that it also broke my heart. She was our protector, she ran to greet my son every day when he woke up from his nap, and our family will never be the same without her. If you follow me on instagram (my personal account) you’ll see my feed blow up with photos of my babies. One day when we’re ready I’m sure we will add another hound to our family, but for now we are content loving on Stanley and Peewee.

After being married for 6 years we started talking about expanding our family. I have had fibromyalgia since I can remember, and because of this and other medical issues doctors have always advised me against getting pregnant. I was sent to a high risk doctor when we relocated to Memphis and by some sort of divine intervention he discovered I had a clotting disorder. My disorder causes miscarriages in women in addition to the normal concerns that comes along with blood clots. He gave us the green light to go ahead and expand our family, but I knew that I would be going for ultrasounds every 4 weeks, that I’d be giving myself injections in my belly every day, and that my pregnancy would be anything but normal. 30 weeks into my pregnancy my liver started to shut down and I developed ICP, bile was beginning to pool under my skin, and at 35 weeks and 6 days the doctors decided my body was too toxic of an environment for my son to stay in. We were induced and after 19 1/2 hours of labor Brody was delivered via c-section on June 18, 2013. He spent 2 long and emotionally hard weeks in the NICU  where he got worse before eventually getting better. He was born with a fever and jaundice and very rapid breathing. After 48 hours (that seemed like years) I was finally able to hold him! I thought the hardest part was over, but it was just the beginning. He developed a pneumothorax (hole in his lung) and was put on a vent. Every time we left the NICU to return to our room the phone would ring and a nurse would be on the other end delivering terrible news of another mishap that happened after we left him. It was awful and I was so worried that I would be taking the drive home without my baby. Something amazing happened though, our family and friends rallied and started a huge prayer chain for us. Our Memphis family went to our church, St. Ann’s, and lit candles for us. Brody’s godmother called one of the Deacons there, Deacon Chip, and arranged for a Priest from Our Lady of Sorrows to come and baptize my son. Deacon Chip also started a prayer chain across the world so that every hour around the clock there was somebody in the world praying for our son. How amazing is that?! Father Pat came to the NICU to baptize our son and before he left he taped a piece of Mother Teresa’s habit over Brody’s incubator. He told us that every hospital patient he lent that piece of habit to would improve and go home. 2 days later the hole in his lung healed and on July 3rd we were able to take him home. We had a lot of struggles with him for the first year of his life. The vent caused minor trauma to his throat and when he swallowed fluid would go into his airways. He turned purple two times before we finally got answers and much needed thickener in his formula to weigh his flap down. He’ll be 3 this year and I thank God for him every day. He’s your typical nose picking, dog chasing, Disney song singing toddler!

After I had my son I did what any typical woman would do- I started hitting the gym every day to lose my baby weight. I’ve always been active and played sports when I was younger but man, once you hit 30 it’s like your body just morphs into something else! I met one of my swole sisters, Heather, at my gym (JW Fitness Memphis!) and she got me into weight lifting. She hooked me up with an amazing trainer- Travis Woodbury, he will change your life!!!- and Travis had me get over my fear of heavy weights. He totally tore down the notion of women getting bulky by lifting weights and introduced me to my new therapy- weightlifting. I’ve competed in one powerlifting competition so far and am excited for my second one this April. I’m 5’2″ and can deadlift 275 lbs, squat 200 lbs, and benchpress a very ugly and unimpressive 120lbs. My fibromyalgia has *never* been better and I don’t need pain pills and muscle relaxers the way that I used to. It’s absolutely amazing what exercise has done for my health! I’ve never felt better, I’m stronger, and I’m fit! I will forever advocate weight training and drop Travis’s name!

So that is my life in a nutshell…I’m sure that if you keep up with me you’ll get to see and hear all about it!

About Andrea

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