Moms Make it Work: Leah from Minnesota

Today we have Leah from Marital Bless posting for our Moms Make it Work series. Where do I begin with Leah? As she says below, we have 'known' each other for many many years---commenting on each other's blogs for maybe six years now? I can say I have officially met Leah in person twice now and can call her a 'real life friend,' instead of an 'internet friend'. She and I have gone from newbie bloggers to mommy bloggers together, with a lot of growth, pictures, and posts in between. I've enjoyed watching Leah's career focus change along with her gorgeous family growing through the years--change can be a great thing! I figured her take on this series would be an interesting one since she was working full time in an office while also running a photography business, and now she made the switch to focus on running her business after leaving the corporate world. Oh, and caring for three going on four kids at the same time;) Enjoy!  


Julia was the first blogger that I commented on without prior knowing and the first to in turn comment on my blog. It was through her that I truly learned how much of a community blogging can create. Having been through several stages of being a working mom and ultimately now running a business that supports our family, I definitely wanted the opportunity to reach out and share!

About me:
Hello! I am Leah and am married to Tony. We’ll celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary this August, after being an online dating success story. We have three wonderful children: Isaac (will be 5), Ezra (will be 3) and Miriam (will shortly be 1) and are unexpectedly expecting baby #4. I’ve blogged, with much more frequency than I do currently, for over 6 years now and my archives are a treasure trove of examples in my growth, or good grief I sure hope they are! I am overjoyed to say that I am a full time photographer and business owner, allowing me to work from home and spend time with my children, after working full time in a corporate position for over 4 years while also building my business.

A lifetime ago, or so it feels, I graduated with a degree in marketing from Southwest Minnesota State University, where I attended thanks to a soccer and academic scholarship. Between graduating in May and marrying my husband in August of 2006, I half-heartedly applied for positions while I continued to waitress, as I had for several years throughout high school and college breaks.

[aug 5, 2006]

Once married, I threw myself into obtaining a job that actually utilized my degree and was thrilled to take a position with Target Corporation in downtown Minneapolis. I will never regret beginning my corporate career with Target, as it established, without any doubt, the standards of a highly productive corporation and the talent that they employed to produce consistently.

Through a series of events, after eventually leaving Target, I found myself with a 50% pay cut while 5 months pregnant with our first child. Unfortunately the pay cut forced us to rely on our line of credit and I furiously searched for any position that could pay me more than ½ of what we’d been used to, as we were quickly drowning in debt. That’s how I finally met Erin in person, as she referred me to the online university where she worked. It was a job!

I didn’t love my position at the university, but I was happy to be employed with solid benefits. Having the mindset that I would have no issue returning to work, I was beyond unprepared for the desperation to stay home with my son, when he was born exactly 3 months after I started at the university. I was  willing to do anything to make it possible to stay home and it broke Tony’s heart that there was absolutely no way for us to make it happen, none.

[backyard picnic with our family of three]

Suddenly, not loving my job was a million times more painful, as I felt like it was a barrier to doing what I actually wanted, staying home. My Mom did daycare at the time and happily welcomed our son into her care, so there was no concern with hoping he was well looked after. But it didn’t matter, because I wasn’t the one with him.

God knew exactly what he was doing though, as a job that I detested was the exact starting point I needed to completely change my life and our family. He also knew what he was doing in aligning my choice in a photographer, my now best friend Gina, when I wanted to do a mini-session while pregnant with Isaac. I bet you were all wondering where photography actually came into play, and this is the unexpected answer.

Following our session, through a series of events, emails, text messages and phone calls, Gina and I eventually became very close friends. She was the first to invite me to assist her at a wedding and Tony and Gina ended up conspiring to encourage the development of my photography business. I can’t tell you how many times I thought our goal for me to quit my day job was an absolute pipedream.

[loving life with the addition of Ezra]

Over time and with experience, my business grew, leading to impossible hours. I would work from 7:30-4:00, plus commute, pick up the kids, come home for dinner, family time, bed time and then it was time to finally put a few hours into my business. On the weekends, if it were the summer, you’d most often find me shooting a wedding, followed by at least one session on Sunday. There was absolutely no work life balance. It doesn’t bother me to reminisce about this time for our family, as it forced Tony and I to be very intentional and focused on the family time that we did have.

[we made a point to soak up all the family time we had]

It eventually did catch up to us though. Nearing the end of the 2012 wedding season our lives looked to be in shambles, as did our house and our marriage. There just gets to be a point where you can no longer coast. We didn’t quite want to commit to a quitting date, but my Mom also wanted to retire, but couldn’t bear the thought of her grandchildren going anywhere else. Knowing that we just couldn’t go on much longer with the status quo, we set a date, at the end of 2013, I would quit at the university to be a full time photographer.

[our annual snowbank picture circa 2013]

As the date approached more and more quickly, the reality of our choice became scarier, but we had faith that God had guided us through the choices we’d made. And sometimes, that’s literally all we had to go off of.
[just two weeks before we met our little miss]

I always joke that I can make a short story long, so I hope to have concisely consolidated 5 of the most challenging and growth filled years of my life.
[loving on our daughter, Miriam Joy]

Our Current Situation:
Being a full time photographer now, and actually being with my children, after years of pining for it, is absolutely everything that I thought that it would be. I consider myself a stay at home mom hybrid, instead of a work from home mom, as I don’t do most of my work at home and am able to leave the house to conduct my business, shooting my sessions and weddings. This is absolutely our ideal situation, although there is room for improvement, if I can continue to increase my income.
There have definitely been challenges, like my quick onboarding to spending so much time with my children being the most awful winter ever, cooping up two rambunctious boys. But no longer feeling like I’m being paid 8 hours a day to fill an office chair for the sole purpose of being away from my kids has been amazing.

The best part of our situation now is that I’ve been given 40+ hours of my week back and it’s being directly poured back into my family. I honestly thought that I’d be able to do a bit more photo work while home with the kids throughout the day, but unfortunately it just hasn’t shook out that way. And when I say a bit, I literally mean, just a bit, I was not under the impression I’d be trading 40+ hours of the corporate world to pull up the chair at home for the same length of time at home while caring for three children.

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[our first pizza party at the new house]

I’ve always loved to cook, but so many everyday things, like laundry for instance have been largely neglected since 2010. I’m really not joking in the slightest. Without a monumental effort by Tony and I, once my wedding season began, laundry was expected to come from a hamper, or the dryer, or the floor by the dryer. We honestly packed clean laundry, unfolded or sorted, in a huge cardboard box to our new house when we moved this past October, and I publicly celebrated putting all of it away, summer shorts included, just a month ago.

It’s been fantastic to have our family function in an actually healthy capacity, for the first time really, since shortly after Isaac was born.
[the first year has flown by!]


I hope that my story can be an encouragement to working mothers struggling with an unrealized dream or the desire to stay home with their children. I felt like my efforts were futile for months at a time. I’d often wonder why Tony and I were struggling so hard to pay down our debt and support my crazy hours in pursuit of the wildly insane idea that my photography business could someday replace my income.
[our family this fall!]

It didn’t happen overnight.

I honestly have had people mock how slowly we progressed towards our goal. But the fact remains that through faith, hope and dedicated hard work, it did, in fact, happen.

I don’t know how long I will be a full time photographer, but I’ll be grateful every day that it allows me to be with my children.

Thanks, Leah! Find the rest of the Moms Make it Work series here.


  1. I've enjoyed following Leah's blog for a couple of years now & it was fun to read her full story:-) Congrats Leah (with God's help) on making your dreams a reality!

  2. Awesome Post! All the photos are so beautiful. I love that you worked together for so long to make it happen and now you're so happy.

  3. I think this may be my favorite from this series so far! Leah and her family are beautiful and strong, but she doesn't sugar coat the challenges and I really admire that. Thanks for sharing, Leah!

  4. Great post, Leah! I'm so glad it has worked out for you to be at home with your (growing!) family now, and pursue a career you really love!

  5. Awe I've been following your blog for many years, Leah! Great post.

  6. I don't know how I missed this one when it was first posted! But I searched it out and loved it - really happy for you and your family that you were able to achieve your goal and your dream! I have loved watching your family grow over the years. :)


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