“Mother” Added to My Resume

I’ve been a mother to fur babies for 17 years and now I’ve recently added “mother to human baby” to my resume. Koda Joy Levine is brand new to our pack! She is strong, beautiful and full of fire. I loved her the moment I knew she existed and was so happy to meet her when she entered the outside world.

I am one lucky mama.


To say that having a newborn baby has been an adjustment is a huge understatement. I’ve always respected mamas and now that I am experiencing this journey firsthand I have even more admiration for them. I am slowly adjusting to this new “normal” and will continue to do so with each passing day. I am learning and growing almost as much as my little one.

Motherhood is expanding my heart and building up my life’s resume. It will no doubt contribute to my creativity in a positive way (once I get just a littttttllleee more sleep!). I am looking forward to very soon getting back into some creative time with my photography and painting.

I feel it’s important to be honest about both sides of this gig. Motherhood for me is beautiful and incredibly difficult! (Full disclosure: I felt the same way about pregnancy!) There is so much contrast in my life right now. Within 5 minutes- or really even within 5 seconds- I can experience a large handful of very different emotions– tears of exhaustion or stress in one moment can turn to tears of joy in another.

It’s like everything is out on the table, for both this baby and myself.

I am more vulnerable now than I have ever been in my life. The experience is both beautiful and terrifying. Having a newborn has already reminded me of the preciousness of life and how quickly time passes. It has reminded me of how important it is to pay attention to who and what matters and to what fills your heart. This experience has further validated how important my job has been as a photographer. Capturing the love and connection that exists in family (fur or otherwise) has always been an honor for me, but now, I think it will be even more so as I know first hand this level of vulnerability and connection. The time really does go by quickly in many ways… I even get nostalgic over photographs I took yesterday of this little one. I am looking forward to getting back into being there for my clients and their beloved families soon with this new perspective. I do my best to be in the present moment as much as possible. Having said that, I’ve already taken a thousand photographs of this baby girl and I am sure to take a hundred million more.

We had professional portraits created by Pinkle Toes Photography when she was just 12 days old and I am so grateful to have them to cherish. I will continue to have portraits created of us as a family– primarily because I want to be part of them!
We have so many memories to create and capture and I am incredibly honored to have added this new role of mother to my life’s resume.

Thank you to my dear friend Michele at Pinkle Toes Photography for this gorgeous portrait of Koda and me.

Thank you to my dear friend Michele at Pinkle Toes Photography for this gorgeous portrait of Koda and me.

Combining Sights and Sounds To Curate Unique Memories

On this recent session I had the opportunity to capture the sights and sounds of life with baby Penley and her loving moms.

Creating an Audio Portrait for this family was a very special experience for them (and for me).

Since I know that life changes so quickly, especially with little ones, I thought it would be valuable to provide Chelsea and Kerry with a final Audio Portrait that represents and reflects their life right now. I wanted them to be able to watch their slideshow years from now and feel exactly how they felt while their little girl was making all of her fun noises, crawling around  house as her dog brothers took advantage of her leftover scraps of food. I knew it would be valuable to Penley to have later in life as well. We can all take snippets of videos, photos, etc., but I wanted this to be a curated piece that represented them in an artful, thoughtful way. I can’t get over Penley’s little growl and I am in love with those big beautiful brown eyes. 

I’m so inspired by creating these audio portraits for my clients. This format really allows me to dive deeper into connection on every level, and honestly that’s a huge part of why I do what I do.

Here’s what Chelsea had to say about her Audio Portrait experience:

"Norah’s creativity shines in the Audio Portrait she did for us, which so beautifully captures our baby girl’s personality and character at 8 months old. It’s amazing how she was able to deliver such a personal and touching piece— from the audio arrangement to the photo arrangement, each second of the video holds the potential for a smile or shed a tear of joy. Photographs are wonderful but having a piece like this, with a story and voices built into it, and that is so shareable and is just the right length to watch over and over again, is truly special. Norah crafted something that we intend to play at every one of our daughter’s birthday celebrations, every graduation, when she gets engaged, and married, and has babies herself!"

Navigating Mother’s Day as a Mom: 5 Ways to Honor Mama

Best Mother's Day Gift for Your Mom It’s an interesting dynamic, Mother’s Day as a mother. We spend our whole lives honoring our moms on that special Sunday in May. Then one day, you become a mom yourself and you’re automatically made part owner of this special day. A holiday all for you -- except it’s not, because it’s still for your mother. It’s kind of like sharing your birthday with someone else. You want the day to be all about you, but you know that the other person also deserves their time to shine. You have to decide how you’re going to balance this quandary. It’s confusing, but it's also pretty awesome. After all, you’ve spent your whole life learning from your mom, right? This is just one more bond that you get to share.

As I thought about this new and odd dynamic, I started thinking about my own mother and our relationship. I started to realize: even though I’m a mom, I still need MY mom -- like, all the time. I guess I’m lucky, because she puts up with all my constant “help me adult” questions. The amount of times I have to call her to help me with a recipe, with something my children are doing, or just because I need somewhere to vent is immeasurable. I’m so grateful for her patience and for her guidance; she has shaped me into the mother that I am today. While I sure don’t say it enough, she is the greatest mom that anyone could ask for. She has sacrificed so much in her life to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of her children -- she has given in ways that can never be repaid.

Now that I’m a mother to two little ones of my own,  I get to be part owner of this special holiday. It’s special and beautiful, and I feel grateful for the honor -- but this Mother’s Day, I want to honor ALL the moms, both fresh and seasoned. No matter what stage of motherhood you’re in, Mother’s Day should be all about you. After all, you work day in and day out to keep other humans alive and quite frankly, that’s a pretty darn important job. Whether your mom lives near or far, here are 5 simple ways to truly honor YOUR mom, now that you’re a mom:

  • Plan an adults-only Mom’s Day Out: Yup, you read that right. Adults only. Meaning you and your mom SOLO. What you actually DO can vary depending on what you and your mama are into, but the idea here is to just get out and spend some time enjoying each other’s company. It can be hard to spend quality time together and actually talk like adults when there are little ones tugging on your heels the entire time. Find a time to leave the kids with dad or grandpa and get out of the house… together.
  • Set up a “restaurant” at home and serve your mama a special Mother’s Day lunch/dinner: Can’t get out just the two of you? No worries. As moms, we all get it. Bring the party home! Plan mom’s favorite meal (homemade or take-out) and have an afternoon in. Depending on the age of your kids, they can help plan, cook, and serve the meal! I highly suggest you get LOTS of photos of this, to remind them how much they loved you when they’re being ornery teenagers.
  • Write mom a handwritten “thank you” note/letter for all the ways she’s helped and inspired you: I mentioned it above, but I should really tell my mom how much she means to me. I think it often, but I don’t say it nearly enough. Gifting your mother with a heartfelt “thank you” can often mean more than any store-bought gift. Stuck on where to begin? Consider something like this Letters to My Mom set from Uncommon Goods. It provides you with situation-specific prompts on cute little cards (and includes envelopes!) that you can fill in for mama. There are topics like “read me when you need a good laugh” and “read me when you miss me” to provide you with a variety of heartfelt notes and stories.
  • A keepsake journal: We all know that grandmothers and mamas have lots to share, but it often gets lost and forgotten. A keepsake journal can provide a space for your mom to record all her stories and memories, and it can be passed down for generations. I love this one, which is a sewn, clothbound journal that outlines a gorgeous, timeless, personal narrative. This is sure to be a favorite!
  • Just be together. Maybe being together means a cookout at your house. Maybe it means going for a fancy dinner. Maybe it means you FaceTime from 3,000 miles away. Whatever “together” looks like in your family, do it. Now that you’re a mom, you know how important quality time can be. How just a simple “I love you” can make you go all mushy. How the words “thank you” can mean more than all the compliments in the world. Put down the phones, turn off the TV, and just BE.

Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be a huge production or filled with store-bought gifts. The real joy of Mother’s Day can be found in heartfelt, honest moments. As we ebb and flow through the different stages of motherhood, we will continue to grow and change. When I was younger, I remember hearing older women scoff, “I’m just like my mother!” and, “I can’t believe I’m turning into my mother!” I remember them sounding disgusted, uttering the phrases with disdain for their newfound personality traits. At the time, I didn’t really understand what they meant. Now, I often find myself thinking those same thoughts, but with a much different tone. I couldn’t imagine learning from a better role model than my mom. I am thankful for this journey and proud to be “just like my mother." My hope for you is that you enjoy this journey (as hard as it may be) and that you feel even a little bit the same joy when thinking about your mom. Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.




About the Author: Jess is a multi-tasking extraordinaire, trying to navigate her way through life as a wife, friend, teacher, and most of all, mama. She’s a lover of fresh air, coffee and wine (equally, not together), fitness, and writing. She boasts an eclectic style which is a mix of classic, boho, and mom life -- which mostly means that the majority of the time she’s wearing workout clothes with food and drool smeared on them. You can see her life in little squares on her Instagram and follow her honest and sarcastic motherhood truths at her blog, www.playdatesandprosecco.com.