2018 in 36 photos // A Year of Change

… And exhale.

We made it through 2018.

There were times it felt like we’d never get through the year.

My pregnancy felt long.

The move felt, at times, impossible.

We started in Hawaii and spent a couple months in Arizona before finally landing back home in Minnesota.

I think we’ll talk about 2018 a lot as the years go by and it’s hard to believe it’s already a memory. I know for sure 2019 will be a bit more low key and I welcome that.

You know I’ll be here, documenting along the way.

Here’s a photo recap of 2018, choosing only three photos from each month. I completed my first 365 project and I couldn’t be more grateful for the year I chose to do so. I can’t wait to hold that book in my hands.

Many blessings my friends,



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December in Review | Exhale

… And exhale.

We made it through 2018.

There were times it felt like we’d never get through the year.

My pregnancy felt long.

The move felt, at times, impossible.

We started in Hawaii and spent months in Arizona before finally landing in Minnesota.

But we did it. We made it and now here I sit from our beautiful home with my two boys settling into life. It feels good.

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Our little Mikko Jam turned one month old. He’s just the best baby there ever was. It’s hard to believe he’s already here let alone a month old but I guess that’s just what babies do… grow so very fast.

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Our first Christmas in our home was pretty low key, exactly how we wanted it! I can only imagine Christmas getting more and more fun over the years as TG was just starting to get into it. Tom and I decided being the parent is the best. Looking forward to making our own family traditions over the years.

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I had the opportunity for some creative play this month, too, and I never say no to that. Photographer Jessica Holleque came over to my house to photograph my children and I for her Mothers and Makers project. Talking with her about art, family, life and motherhood was just the best. TG had a great time turning the kitchen floor into an art studio. Please check out her instagram to see her work!

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We spent the very end of the month surrounded with family and it provides the perfect reminder as to why we moved back in the first place. That’s what it’s all about and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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2018 — a wild year. I just placed the last photo in my 365 book and I just can’t wait to send it to print. This project has meant so much to me… documenting the days. The years do go so fast.

Thank you for following along on the journey.

Wishing you all nothing but a New Year full of blessings, health and happiness.


November in Review | New Life


The month we’ve been waiting for all year!

A crazy month, a busy month — also, the month we welcomed our new little boy into the world.

I took my last official bump photo at exactly 38 weeks pregnant. I actually documented my bump starting at 8 weeks back in Hawaii. I never missed a photo, shooting every other week until he arrived! It’s so fun to look back on, it really seemed like I was pregnant forever!

38 weeks pregnant

38 weeks pregnant

We also got to experience our first snowy, cold Minnesota days. Honestly, it hasn’t been too bad because I haven’t left the house much. I’ve been totally and willingly hibernating and I wouldn’t have it any other way. TG loves being outside and I’m lucky enough to have a husband that enjoys it too! You can find me inside sippin’ hot cocoa watching a movie or putzing around my house!

Adores the snow and his daddy even more!

Adores the snow and his daddy even more!

On November 12th at 10:01am we welcomed our son Mikko James into the world. What an experience it was! I’m a birth story nerd and you can read all about Mikko’s HERE. It was much different than my first almost two years ago. You can read George’s story HERE.

Mikko James Jokinen | November 12th, 10:01am | 7lbs. 1 oz. 21in.

Mikko James Jokinen | November 12th, 10:01am | 7lbs. 1 oz. 21in.

Since Mikko’s arrival we’ve had plenty of visitors! My mother in law stayed with us for a week and a half (the best!), aunts, uncles, sisters, cousins and grandparents. Each visit reminds me of why I moved to Minnesota and makes me grateful that family is so close.

New life visitors

New life visitors

“40 weeks” holding a one week old Mikko James

“40 weeks” holding a one week old Mikko James

It’s been wonderful and tiring. Knowing how fast it goes gets me through the early morning hours. I wouldn’t trade this phase of life I’m in for anything… the best moments of my life as well as the most challenging. Motherhood… motherhood.

This right here is real life with a two week old

This right here is real life with a two week old

It’s been quite the adjustment for my little Thomas George. He’s doing the best he can and we’re doing the best we can to help him. It hasn’t been easy sharing the attention but I know it’s just another phase we’ll get through. He does better every single day. We sure do love this boy!

Thomas George, 23 months old

Thomas George, 23 months old

We are nearing the end of our 365 project. What a year it has been and I am so grateful to have been documenting it day by day. I’m part of a blog circle and this month it’s me and Laura.

Laura just had her third baby boy, so getting to travel this path together this year has been so fun. Please check out her post and incredible work!

I’ll see you guys next month. Many blessings, always!

Birth Story -- Mikko James

When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I read a million and one birthing books. I typed up and printed out a very solid birth plan. It was my greatest desire to have an unmedicated birth. If you’ve read his story, you know things didn’t go as planned that day. TG’s birth taught me so much about control, strength and surrender. His birth made me feel so strong but I also knew that when it came time to do it again, I’d want to do things differently.

When I started thinking about labor and delivery for baby number two, I decided to go in with the same exact birth plan. An unmedicated birth free from intervention was truly how I wanted to bring this boy into the world. This time, however, I knew if it got to be too much I had other options. Nothing was set in stone. I decided to play it by ear letting baby boy lead the way.. my job was to do the best I could. Nothing more, nothing less.

It was 7:30pm on November 11th when I felt my first faint contraction.

I had gone to my room just about an hour before to lay down and rest. I was 38+6, so when I felt some light cramping in my abdomen I didn’t think too much into it.

The cramping disappeared and returned — disappeared and returned. I laid in the dark room with my eyes closed feeling it all. Wondering. Preparing.

I walked downstairs to fill my water and told Tom that I might be having contractions but couldn’t be too sure.

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When I got back upstairs I pulled out my camera and took some photos in-between the waves before getting ready for bed.

If things were going to be different this time I knew I needed to rest.

I was tracking the light contractions on my phone and they were 7-10 minutes apart lasting anywhere from 30-50 seconds.

At 10:00pm I actually fell asleep tossing and turning pretty minimally. At 3:09am, though, I felt the first strong contraction and it lifted me right out of bed. I began tracking again for an hour and a half as they started to get stronger.

Finally at 4:30am I woke up Tom. Things were getting real. I was definitely in labor. I quickly texted my Aunt Peg to see if she could come over to be with TG. We had Tom’s mom flying in that afternoon but we were going to have to leave for the hospital a lot earlier than that!

At 6:50am we arrived at the Woodwinds birth center and I was on my way to triage for my IV by 7:00am. I had tested positive for group B strep (again) and needed to get on antibiotics right away.


I felt rested, everyone was lively and I was breathing through contractions consistently. I was so grateful it was morning and I got decent sleep the night before. I was also able to fuel with a big bowl of oatmeal before we left the house. Food and sleep felt so important to me this time around and so far so good.

At 7:20am I met the midwife Karen and she gently checked me for the first time. I was so curious to see how far I was dilated.

She asked Tom and I if we had any guesses.

“5cm?”, we said in unison.
The midwife laughed as she nodded her head.

We were right on.

Wow, I was already halfway there! I seriously couldn’t believe it!

It was official. I was in labor and we got the go to check in. It wouldn’t be long now.

When I had my first appointment at Woodwinds, I found out they had a water birth suite. One room available with a large tub that you could actually give birth in. When they asked if I was interested, I said absolutely so! I had read all about the benefits of a water birth and hoped when the day came the room would be available for me to use.


To our luck, it was! We were all checked in to the water birth suite by 7:30am — 12 short hours after I felt my first faint contraction.

Once we were all set up in the room they gave me the go to do some walking. At 8:15am with Tom by my side, we set out to do some laps through the halls. We made it around the loop twice before the contractions got too intense.

At this point they were painful and the doubt set in hard. I told Sarah I was pretty sure I was at my pain threshold. I could do this but I don’t think I could handle anything more. I hinted that I wanted an epidural. I pictured myself laying down in the bed with warm blankets as they took all the pain away. I couldn’t get that out of my mind.

Sarah and Tom encouraged me. They reminded me of everything I said I wanted when we got there. I knew they were right but I just didn’t know how much longer I could go. Just then, Karen came in and asked me to give the tub a try.

Alright, yes. Tub.

I stripped down, climbed the edge of the tub between contractions and lowered myself into the warm water.

Oh, my, goodness… the relief. The relief! The instant I got in the water I felt myself relax. Melt.

I bobbed until I felt a contraction coming. I grabbed the edge of the tub with my head down, totally focused. This time though, the sound I made was different.. softer. Nothing felt as intense as it was before.


Tom was right there and he rubbed my back and encouraged me. Hearing is voice and having his touch was absolutely everything. He was right in my ear reminding me that every single contraction I made it through brought us closer to the delivery. He’d be here so soon.

Not long after I got in the tub, at 9:10am, my midwife Karen came back in to check me.

9cm. 9CM!?

I couldn’t believe the way things had progressed. Was it really almost time to push?

At this point though, my water bag was still in tact. Karen asked if she could rupture it and I agreed.

As she turned around to get ready, I was hit with a contraction that took my breath away. Right in the middle of it I felt a burst.

I watched as a speckled yellow cloud made it’s way through the water around me. I couldn’t talk because my contraction was so strong. Tom didn’t say anything either because he thought maybe I had peed and he didn’t want to bring it any attention. (So thoughtful, isn’t he? :])

Finally, my contraction ended and I was able to get the words out — “I think my water just broke!”

Indeed it had!

As soon as Karen saw the water, she advised the team to get the bed ready. There was meconium — baby had pooped — in the amniotic fluid and now it was in the water. This is one of the only reasons they have you get out of the birthing tub to deliver baby.

Tom held me as I made my way back to the bed.

At this point I wasn’t upset about leaving the water. It did what it needed to — I was to the point of no return and the only thing left do to now was bring this boy into the world.

I got to the bed at 9:37am. At this point I was feeling it all and let me tell you, it was painful. I bounced back and forth between determined and focused and scared and doubtful. The encouragement from the room (Tom, nurses & midwife) really kept me going.

At 9:50am my cousin Danielle arrived to root me on, too. Oh man did I need it. I was just given the green light to begin pushing. I remember saying “Nooooo.” though my contractions, and I know there was a point when I “hit the wall.”

I felt a contraction coming on and I didn’t even want to push. I wanted to be done. It hurt. I felt like I was never going to get through it. I wanted so badly to stop. I was filled with resistance and pain.

As much as I wanted to stop though, I could feel my body continuing on. It was doing it, with or without me.

During my next little break between contractions, I got SUPER focused, super determined. I had to. I remember thinking the only way out of this is through. I had gone too far to turn around and it’s so close to the end. My nurse and midwife recalled this moment with me after the birth because they both saw the shift. This change was everything I needed in the moment, and it felt very spiritual.

It was time to push again but this time around I seriously gave it everything I had. Everyone, in unison, cheered, “PUSH!!!” And boy did I push. I gripped my legs with more power than I knew I had and every single bit of my body was alert and working. It truly felt like I was trying to push myself inside out.


One more contraction coming and my God did I push. Then I felt it. I felt him leave my body.

I did it. He was here.

At 10:01am they lifted up my son and placed him on my chest. Everything was in slow motion. Seeing his face, his little body.. he was so tiny and instantly I thought, “he’s perfect.”


I looked for Tom, he was crying. I glanced at my midwife and her smile was profound. My nurses… just joy. There were tears and smiling and joy. We were all sharing this incredible moment of life and all I could think was, “Thank you. Thank you God for this little miracle.”

Looking back at my delivery now, I realize how short it actually was. From the moment I got to Woodwinds to the moment I was holding him was only three hours. I only pushed for 15 minutes.

Everything seemed much longer than that.

As for medication and intervention? We didn’t use any. The best part was there was no episiotomy and I didn’t tear. The water got me through and we did what we set out to do making my recovery much more smooth.

As I reflect, I realize what a different experience I had with Thomas George, everything about it. It also reminds me of what I first wrote on the post of TG’s birth.

Nothing has felt more true.

I'm convinced that going through labor and delivery is the most intense, 'in the moment' experience of all time. You can read and plan all you want but you can never truly prepare for what will play out. I'm convinced that women are incredibly strong and heroically brave and I'm 100% convinced that every single women's experience, no matter what it is, is absolutely perfect and beautiful. What a miracle.

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Mikko James Jokinen
November 12th | 10:01am
7 lbs. 1 oz. | 21 in.

Thank you to all of our family and friends near and far.
We felt all of your prayers and well wishes.

The BUMP -- Mikko James

From Hawaii to Arizona to Minnesota -- I've been on a mission to document my bump progress every two weeks. It's been so fun to look back and see the growth each and every month!

I think 22 weeks is where I really “popped” but I can’t tell for sure!

8 Weeks

8 Weeks

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38 Weeks

“40 Weeks” — holding Mikko James (one week old) on my due date!

“40 Weeks” — holding Mikko James (one week old) on my due date!

I gained a total of 31 pounds this pregnancy… it sure felt like more! My hubby likes to remind me that I lost all of my muscle tone… lol. It’s true!

Oh well, I’m too busy with baby snuggles to think about any of that right now.
Busy with baby snuggles and grateful beyond measure for my body that created this miracle.

Transverse to Breech to Head Down :: Our Story at 37 Weeks

I went into my 34 week appointment feeling good. Big, but good.

We had our appointment routine down and it was typically the same. I made our appointment for 8am. I met with the midwife. They weighed me, asked me questions, gave me some paperwork and away I’d go.

Week 34 was a little different.

“Well, it feels like baby is transverse.”, my midwife said as she was palpating my stomach.

My head quickly flicked her direction. “Wait, what?”

“Transverse.”, she said, explaining his positioning within my womb.

That wasn’t what I was expecting but after she said it, it made sense. I felt his kicking in different places, it was extremely uncomfortable and what I thought was a round little butt I was feeling when I put my hands on my tummy was actually his head.

Well, darn. I needed to know more!

She said it wasn’t a big concern at 34 weeks and he’d most likely flip head down in the coming weeks. I was given a Spinning Babies website to check out and she advised me to start doing some exercises to encourage him to flip.

As some of you know, I was really set with Thomas George’s birth plan. Although empowering and perfect, it didn’t go the way I’d wanted at all. This time I was going in with the same birth plan — my number one goal of experiencing an unmedicated birth.

This? Transverse? This threw me for a loop.

I jumped online and read different articles. I did my spinning babies exercises everyday. On the couch, upside down, stacked pillows, inverting, ice packs.. Tom even talked to my pubic bone a few times!

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36 weeks

We went to our 36 week appointment and I was hopeful. Two weeks had passed and he moved around so much that I couldn’t really tell what end was what. I felt a little lump I prayed was his butt in my ribcage but didn’t want to make any assumptions.

“Breech.”, was all she had to say this time.

He had made his way from transverse to completely breech.

My heart sank. That wasn’t the news I wanted to hear at all. She assured me that it was good he was moving and that he still had time to turn.

I wasn’t feeling confident but she let me know I was a great candidate for external version. She gave me a card to call and schedule an appointment with the OB downstairs.. we were going to try to manually flip this baby.

Before the consult, they wanted to gather as much information as they could for the OB. They had me schedule an ultrasound at 7:00am the morning of Halloween.

I went to the appointment without much thought, got home and Tom headed into work. When they called with the results, it was the last thing I was expecting.

They told me that my amniotic fluid was low, really low. They thought maybe my water broke and had been leaking. The mentioned cord compression and I started to cry. I wasn’t feeling the best anyway. The nurse said they wanted me to pack a bag and get there ASAP — they needed to monitor and check me. She told me to prepare to stay for a couple days.

I should have taken a couple deep breathes before I called Tom but I called him right as I hung up with the nurse. All of the emotion came up when I heard his voice and I could barely talk between the sobbing. Poor Tom! He came straight home.

We arrived at the Maternity Care Center in Woodbury midday and they had my room ready. Right away they hooked me up to an IV and started to monitor baby.

When I met with the OB Dr. later in the evening he had very few options. He said even if my amniotic fluid went up, there is no way it would get high enough to be in normal range. If it didn’t change at the morning ultrasound we’d have to get baby out via c-section.

Our other option, if the fluid went up a bit, was to attempt the version to flip baby. If it worked, he wanted to induce me so that we could get baby out of the low fluid. If it didn’t work, he still wanted to do a c-section.

Worried about the baby, the compression, the c-section — I was a mess. Thank goodness for my midwife who brought me tissues and promised me I had options. She said to wait until morning before I get too concerned and we’ll go from there. One thing at a time.

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Going to bed that night, I was almost 100% positive we’d be meeting baby the next day. From the way the morning started to how the day was ending just wasn’t what I was expecting at all, I just tried to go with the flow and believe it was all playing out as it should.

Tom arrived the next morning at 6:45 and we headed to our appointment downstairs.

I laid on the table, they gunked up my belly and she started the ultrasound.

Instantly the tech looks at me and says, “So you did have the version.”

Tom and I locked eyes, “No, no we didn’t do the version.” I quickly responded.

“Well baby is head down. Yep, there is his head, far down into your pubic bone.”, she said.

With angels singing her words rang through my ears and I couldn’t help but smile the biggest smile in the world! He flipped in the night!

We were so happy knowing we didn’t have to do the version. There were still so many things up in the air and we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves but the fact that baby was head down meant a lot and it just really set the tone for the day.

When we got the final results from the ultrasound we couldn’t believe it. My amniotic fluid levels went from a 2.3 to a 7.9 overnight. (We were hoping to get them to a 4 or 5). The nurses and midwives celebrated with us in our room and when the OB walked in that morning he said, “It’s magic!”

Magic, prayers or the will of baby boy Jokinen — we got discharged a few hours later.

With baby’s head down, I’m so much more comfortable. I’m feeling so ready to knock out the final weeks at home and prepare for a water birth. (Hey, anything is possible and I believe that even more now!)

So grateful for all the well wishes and prayers from family and friends all over the US! We love you guys so much! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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October in Review | FALL is here!

The 365 Blog Circle is a collection of friends working through their 365 photography projects together. We are posting favorite shots on a monthly basis. Welcome to our October round up! 

FALL in Minnesota!!

If there was one season I really missed while living out of state for the past 10 years it was FALL. I love crispy air so much and there is truly nothing more beautiful than the changing of the leaves.

Whenever our family found ourselves back in Minnesota it was always in July — it’s been a while since we’ve experienced fall and it’s magnificence.

Seeing it all with new eyes.

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I said I wanted visitors, didn’t I? Well we got them! Five weekends in a row! My parents and in laws and sister and hubby’s buddy from Dallas and more sisters and more in laws and cousins and aunts. THIS IS WHAT I ASKED FOR and I love, love, love it.

It felt like I was turning over my house like a hotel and the visits are never long enough but it’s been awesome actually hosting people in our home.

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With all the action going on having visitors every weekend, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to dwell on my pregnancy. I hit 30 weeks and next thing I knew I was at 35 in a blink of an eye. By the end of the month, I’ll be at 37 weeks with only about 3 weeks to go!

We’re slowly but surely checking things off our list to prepare for our newest addition and our family has made it so much easier already!
All the little clothes are washed, sorted and hung in the closet. We’ve got a nursery that is ALMOST set up and I just had the carseat installed last week!

34 weeks preggy!

34 weeks preggy!

Next time you hear from me, I’ll be a mama of TWO, family of four! I’m going to do my best to do a November recap but if you don’t hear from me right away I’m sure to be positing squishy baby pictures on instagram.

Oh, before I go — last weekend I got to do a real photo session and it was the best!! I won’t be sharing photos yet (it was a Christmas card family session) but I’ll definitely recap it at the beginning of the year with some thoughts and dreams moving forward. Can’t wait for more camera play in 2019 — maybe we can connect!

Up next: Photographer Kris McNeil — beautiful photos of her recent travels. Check it out!

As always, I appreciate you guys being here and reading.

Many blessings,


September in Review | Let the Settling Begin!

Sweet September.

Warm days, cool days and the wind down of summer.

It was the first full month in our new house and as you can tell by the tardiness of my post, it was a busy one. (Will I ever not say that?)

We took the time to really settle into this place and dang that felt good. It was the first time we’ve had a chance to do so since we were in Hawaii at the beginning of the year!

All of our boxes are unpacked and I actually organized my kitchen! There are still so many projects to do, I’ll putz forever, but as of now, it feels like home.

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One of the things that made September was going to the Renaissance Festival with my aunt. It has been so long since I’ve had a chance to go and it’s so fun to get lost in the magic. My all time favorite festival for sure!

My hubby picked up a work car which has made life so much easier already! With my appointments increasing to weekly, this felt so necessary!

The start to our 5 weekend of visitors began this month and it was everything I hoped it would be. I love being close to our family!

32 weeks pregnant!

32 weeks pregnant!

Soaking up every minute before the summer fades to fall.

We’re here, in Minnesota. Settling in a house. Preparing for baby and just taking a big exhale.

I almost feel ready to start reflecting on the year, what a year it’s been, but we still have a little living to do. Hope you are all enjoying the small moments and taking time to exhale in your own way.

Thanks so much for reading,


August in Review | Home Sweet Home

Sweet, sweet August in Minnesota. I don't know if there's anything better!

Crisp morning air and sun filled days... I've loved every minute of it and so has George!

It was a busy month, I'm sure each and every one of us could say that!

Walks to the park, a trip up north and spending time with family. We did the State Fair and a birthday party at the Mall of America. We celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary and my 31st birthday. We had baby appointments and pediatric appointments and sure enjoyed the downtime in between.

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The most exciting part of August though, was purchasing our first ever HOME.
We did it! We found one and they accepted our offer!

We got our keys at the very end of the month and it's been an incredible whirlwind of days since.

You guys, it feels like we've waited so very long for this moment and it's here. I cried twice on moving day. My greatest dream is to create place for my children to grow and flourish.. a place they can always come back to.. a safe, warm home with good food and so much love.

I see it here, I see it all here! 

My beautiful niece on a trip up north -- she's just the coolest little girl!

My beautiful niece on a trip up north -- she's just the coolest little girl!

28 weeks ~ in the third trimester!

28 weeks ~ in the third trimester!

Self portrait on my 31st birthday.

Self portrait on my 31st birthday.

I've been dabbling in my dreams a bit and we've been almost too busy to fully grasp what it is I am doing here but I know there is magic to be made ahead.
Women. Photography. Art. Light. Words.
I have faith it will all come together at the perfect time!

243/365 August 31st -- the first day in our new home!

243/365 August 31st -- the first day in our new home!

I appreciate all the shared enthusiasm this month - family and friends, near and far, personal and social - you're all the best! Thanks for following as I document the biggest life transitions for my family. What a trip.

There are a few of us still going strong for our 365 Project Blog Circle. I'm so grateful for these talented women who keep me motivated to shoot every day. If you click through to Alyssa Kellert's post, you'll see a beautiful new website with a summer recap. These are the Days

Onward to September!


Baby J -- GIRL or BOY?

When we first found out we were pregnant, we decided that we didn't want to know if we were having a girl or a boy until labor and delivery.

Ok, well, yes, that didn't last. Anyone who knows me knows I surely don't have the patience for that. As soon as we could find out, I wanted to know. 

For our first, Thomas George, we did a big reveal party. It was so much fun, but I knew I didn't want to do that again.

So at our anatomy scan we had them write the gender down for us and put it in an envelope. We got home that night and decided we'd open it that weekend. Just 48 hours later we were holding a photo in our hand. I reached down and touched my belly but this time I knew....

My second little SON!

We're having another boy and I have to tell you, we're pretty darn excited.

There it is! Another little    BOY    bump!

There it is! Another little BOY bump!

Now, to be honest, when I found out I was pregnant with Thomas George I really, really wanted to have a girl. I grew up with two sisters and just couldn't imagine having a son.

This go around though, after knowing my little dude and the heart bursting love I have for him, I felt SUPER cool either way!

A boy. Bros. Boy mom.

Dad cried, I cried.... all the grandma and grandpas cried.

What will he be like? What color will his hair be? Will he look like mom or dad? Tall like his brother, er, I mean whole family?

I just don't know and that's the most exciting part of it all.

In just 11 short weeks we'll be meeting our second son and I am pretty sure we already have his name picked out! A family of FOUR!