Category Archives: babies

Maternity Henna for Our Second Born

Maternity photo with older sister

Four years ago today, I published a post about my wife getting a henna design on her pregnant belly. She was seven-and-a-half months along, and we didn’t know the gender of the child. The baby was a mystery, a hidden identity that we couldn’t formulate until his/her birth. So the design that our artist, the talented Amy Haderer-Swagman, created on that day embodied some of that mystery. It centered on a gallant, masculine peacock within an expanding, feminine sunflower. On March 7, our little girl was born, and everything about our life has been better since.

In two weeks or so, we’re going to welcome our second born — another little mystery, an anonymous kicker and roller who keeps Hailey up at night, but delights her with little motions. Varenna will be a big sister, and life will get doubly good. To celebrate, Hailey had another henna design commissioned for her pregnant belly, and this time, Amy created an unfathomable masterpiece.

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The Wagner, Lineberry and Lamberton Families

(Click on images for a larger view)

It has been a good two years since I did a family portrait shoot, so when I was asked to photograph the Wagner, Lineberry and Lamberton families out at the Wagner family farm near Hudson, Colorado, I was a bit nervous. “How do I do this again?”

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Headwaters Content

Kevin Day (Principle/Content Strategist; Headwaters Content) and Hailey Day (President/Digital Artist; HeyDay Creative)

You should never start a blog post with an apology for not posting recently. It’s just bad form, and truthfully, who reads this blog regularly anyway? Even if you did, you’d notice that I haven’t posted anything — anything — since January.

But I feel the long absence is worth noting, if for no other reason than the major personal changes I’ve undergone since my last post.

I’ve started my own company.

Not a hobby company. Not a dabble-in-it-and-see-if-it-fits company.

A livelihood. A bona fide “wow, this is what I ought to be doing in life” company.

My business is called Headwaters Content, and its one of Denver’s first content strategy firms. What brought this about is a long and probably boring story (I think it’s interesting. You probably don’t). But needless to say, maintaining a photo blog has been a free-time activity, and since February, setting Headwaters up has been rather consuming, both from a labor-intensive and mentally fatiguing perspective.

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At Home With Varenna


And so an amazing first two weeks at home with our little girl has come to a close. Back to work tomorrow, but the journey, the adventures, the milestones — they will only keep coming with greater regularity. I feel like I’m meeting a new Varenna everyday. A bigger, smarter, savvier little girl with each sunrise.


Two weeks ago, she was a swollen little newborn who could barely keep her eyes open. She’d claw at her cheeks and eyebrows, the sensory experience of her new life too much to handle. Tonight, while lying on my chest, she wiggled her way from my sternum to burrow her face under my armpit, as though she’d find a food source under there, the whole time making ravenous little grunts. I could hardly contain my laughter it was so cute.


Varenna looks a little like me, and she looks a little like Hailey. And yet at the same time, she looks, and acts, not at all like either of us. It’s so incredible to see the individualism of a newborn. She’s mellow, content, and yet capable of incredible assertiveness. Her eyes are blue one day, blue-gray the next, hazel the next, blue again the next. The fact that I can’t peg her personality, let alone her physical traits, down makes parenthood all the more surreal.


Since we’ve come home, we’ve had several visitors come over. Hailey’s parents have visited, and we’ve Skyped Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law in Virginia and grandmother in St. Louis. My mom and dad came by for dinner, and this Thursday, since we were feeling pretty house-bound, we took Varenna to their house in the foothills southwest of town. Four or five sets of friends have stopped by to meet her, and my brother and his family have come by, with his wife Amy spending last night at our place (what a trooper … she even helped with night duty). I thought that our wedding was the once-in-a-lifetime event where gratitude for these friends and family would be the most intense. To have that experience twice is truly a blessing.


Varenna’s room has turned into a neat little sanctuary, complete with woodsy creatures, stuffed animals and a soundtrack of birdsong that we like to play on a compact sound system. Whether Varenna the Newborn eventually becomes Varenna the Outdoorsy Girl is entirely up to her, but for now, she’s got a lot of cuddly creatures surrounding her.

I’ve set up a blog just for Varenna photos. I did it mainly for family and friends to keep tabs on her (and to keep the Tanager Blog focused on travel, portraiture and other photography). My favorite post so far has to do with the many faces of this girl.


So there you go: our little family. Hope you are all enjoying spring …

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Introducing Varenna Autumn Day


Life has changed for the better. Way better.

On Sunday, March 7, my wife gave birth to our first, a daughter, Varenna Autumn Day. Weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces, she is a big baby, and as we’re finding out — once that big baby has been delivered — big is beautiful. She’s strong, healthy, sleeps well, feeds well and just might be rolling over in the next few weeks.


Varenna has lived in anonymity for the last 9 months. She was bashful during both ultrasounds, and despite our desire to know her gender and start formulating her life story in our minds, we had to wait until her entrance to get to know her on that level. The doctor’s announcement of “she’s a girl!” was a moment of sheer elation — like a first kiss, never to be duplicated again.

Girls are a rare thing in my family. In her generation, the Days have produced three boys (my brother’s sons Andrew, Isaiah and Jeremiah); in my generation, one girl out of five. On the Reitzug side, she is the 15th in her generation, but only the fourth girl. Even the doctor predicted a boy when she realized how big she was … her entrance was the best surprise of my life.

Last Sunday was a grueling day — labor started around 5am, we checked into the hospital by 11am, and she arrived shortly before 5pm. Hailey’s parents were her first visitors at 5:45pm, followed by my brother, his wife and their boys (that’s 6-year-old Andrew holding her above) and then my parents shortly thereafter. The next thing we knew it was midnight and the parade of late-night feedings had begun. What just happened?

Big kudos to the staff at Rose Medical Center, especially the nurses in labor/delivery and post-partem. The level of care they offered to Hailey and Varenna was outstanding.

We’re home now (have been since Tuesday), and I’ll get another post up on life at home with Varenna. After that, the Tanager Blog will continue to focus on travel, portraits and the other photographic work I do. I’ll be setting up a baby blog just for her, and for the friends and family who want to see how she grows.

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Momma Gets Henna


So far, this pregnancy (and therefore the blog) has been devoid of belly pictures. Well, not any longer.


On Sunday, Hailey had a henna artist — Amy Swagman, who has her own henna design business — come over and paint a beautiful henna tattoo design on her baby bump. There was no deeper reason for doing it. Just a “hey, that would be fun for the baby shower” kind of impulse. And since I haven’t gotten around to doing maternity pictures … well, here they are: our documented evidence of what pregnancy with Baby Xerxes was like with six weeks to go.

Amy began with a peacock design over the belly button, and the design emanated from there.

Our babe is a real roller. Loves to kick, tumble and do gymnastics all day. Made for an interesting spectacle as Amy tried to apply the design. Crazy kid.

As the design transpired, I bounced between taking pictures and watching the J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets! defeat the Chargers. That was awesome.

And here is the final design. The ink dried, and then came off in the morning with the wrap that went over it. Now Hailey has this beautiful tattoo for the next two weeks, at which point it will fade away.

But by then, the Olympics will have started, and then once the Olympics are over, the bags will be packed for the hospital and we’ll be on guard to the finish line. Not sure how many blog posts I’ll get up there before then….

If you are interested in any kind of henna design, look Amy up. Here is her website: http://www.hennadenver.com.

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Portraits For Our Baby’s Room

Aunty Amy … married to my brother Ben and mother of Andrew, Isaiah and Jeremiah

(Click on each image for a larger view)

A few months back, I mentioned on the blog that we were working on a series of photos for our baby’s nursery. We just entered the third trimester, and we now have a crib (minus the mattress). Above the crib is a wide wall that can accommodate 10 frames at 8′x10′.

So here’s the concept: We want our child to know that they always have their family close by. So, beginning in August with Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law, we’ve been photographing them on a white backdrop. Rather than do just a headshot, we thought it would be fun if each image captured the playful, inner child of our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our nephews. On Thanksgiving Day, we completed the shoot. This post is devoted to the ones we’ve selected to frame.

Uncle Benji and Cousin Jer’

Cousin Andrew

Cousin Isaiah

Grandpa (Hailey’s father)

Nana (Hailey’s mother)

Funpa (my father)

Oma (my mother)

Uncle Jason (Hailey’s brother)

Aunty Ali (Jason’s wife, Hailey’s sister-in-law)

There are more images of Jason and Ali from a post I did in September.

What I’ve come to realize is that these images are a family heirloom, something to treasure more than any antique. At age 1 or 2, just as our son/daughter is beginning to figure these relationships out, these pics will be their guide. By the time they’ll be in high school and college, this will be a snapshot of who we were back then. Such an awesome family … we’re thankful for each person within it.

Can’t decide whether we should complete it with pictures of the two of us being playful or not. I don’t know … the kid’s going to be seeing plenty of us!

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The Hall Family

(click on images for a larger version)

On Saturday, Hailey and I did a family portrait shoot with the Halls — Bryce, Marni, Oliver and Harrison — at their Centennial home. Marni is my sister-in-law’s sister; she was the maid of honor at Ben and Amy’s wedding while I was the best man.  So we’ve known each other for roughly 15 years, and it’s such a treat to see her and her wonderful family these days, especially since Hailey and I are expecting in March, making their two-month-old son Harrison an automatic play buddy for our baby.


We did much of the shoot in their front room, which for me was conveniently empty and east facing, making it very studio-like with lots of natural light (yes!). Their two-year-old son Oliver took only a few minutes to warm up to us (after all, it had been a few months since we last hung out). He showed us some of his awesome toys in his play room, and then he had fun jumping off an ottoman onto a massive, pillowy, stuffed sheep chair. He’s also a natural in front of the camera. Look at that smile and pose!


Harrison was born just two months ago, and he’s at that super sweet age where his eyes search everything and he’s smiling a bit. The blanket in these images below was knitted by Harrison’s grandmother, Linda (Bryce’s mom).


After the shoot at their house, and a little lunch, we all went to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. This place is awesome. Locomotives and cabooses of all kinds, a Galloping Goose engine that makes circuits, and all sorts of memorabilia in the gift shop. I’m not a model-train collector by any stretch, but we’re definitely hitting this place up when our child is old enough to love it like Oliver does.


Thanks to Marni and Bryce for such an awesome shoot. Really fun, really engaging and easy-going. What more could a photographer ask for? We had a blast!

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The Reitzug Family Reunion (The Cousins)

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(Click on each photo for a larger version)

Last week I was able to get a post up on my Mom’s amazing family, The Reitzugs — mainly, generations 1 and 2. Well, they’re back on the blog, this time, generations 3 (which I belong to) and 4. Rather than try to make sense of this massive family tree, I’ll just do this.

ABOVE: Elsa, daughter of my cousin Holly Rydel … I think I’ll entitle this sequence After Effects of a Blue Raspberry Lollipop.

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ABOVE: Aidan, Jimmy and Nick Reitzug, sons of the oldest cousin in my generation, Joe Reitzug and his wife Stephanie.

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ABOVE: Mark, Peter and Damian, three of the four Leonard boys (their brother Andrew, couldn’t make it to the reunion due to his house selling). As you can probably note from their choice in sunglass styles, they’re all outdoor-active types. Mark and Peter schooled me in soccer on the final night and they were, um … well, my teammates.

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ABOVE: Mr. Andrew Gunnison Day. My nephew, my bud, and popular star of such previous blog posts as Us Kids Know and Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitchers.

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ABOVE: Byron Lillie and Kate Balerud. Kate took the 40D from me at the tail end of the photo shoot and did a sequence of shots of Hailey and I jumping in the air in front of the white backdrop. Through no fault of Kate’s, they will not be posted on this blog. Let’s just say that I look like a complete bozo.

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ABOVE: Alex Reitzug, son of Aunt Maria, trampoline extraordinaire and a fellow photog.

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ABOVE: Isaiah and Jeremiah Day, my nephews. See also Us Kids Know and Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitchers.

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ABOVE: Amy Bierman and Randy Rydel (left); Rebecca Reitzug (right). Amy and Randy are roughly the same age as Hailey and I, and we spent a good deal of time hanging out with them at the reunion, including two memorable meals in downtown Santa Fe. I also got to know Rebecca better this go around … we’re about 10 years apart, but with each reunion, those age gaps matter less.

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ABOVE: Quinlan and her mom, Mary Beth TeSelle. At left, Quinlan is showing off her fabulous Fourth-of-July-themed rub-on tattoo.

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ABOVE: Nick and Guilia Reitzug with their son Lorenzo (left); Stela Reitzug (right). Nick and Guilia live in Rome, and were kind enough to host us for a few nights when we visited last year. This year, we got a chance to reciprocate in Denver, and carpool down to the reunion in New Mexico (with a stop at the Great Sand Dunes). My cousin Stela is headed to Kosovo right now for missionary work. She’s originally from Albania, so the trip is holding great significance for her.

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ABOVE: Elsa with her grandpa Mat (left); my mom Angie with her oldest brother Henry (right). OK, so this isn’t generations 3 and 4 as promised, but I had to include them because they are two of my absolute favorite shots. If you are wondering where my preoccupation with cameras comes from, look no further than the ‘Zugs.

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And finally, I have to include a shot Hailey took of me with my mom Angie and brother Ben. Dad had to return to Denver the day before, so we’ll have to do a reshoot to get the true family portrait.

As soon as the family book and family tree are done, you know me, I’ll get another blog post up. I loved this gig, and am looking forward to shooting more family reunions, especially with the white backdrop.

Contact me if I can offer this service at one of your own family reunions.

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Mexican Jer

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I’m about to work on part 6 of my Mexican Travelogue, and it’ll be a lengthy one. I’ve finally reached the Holy Week parades, a collection of images from one of the most intimate events I’ve ever encountered. But as I was sorting through the images, I decided this one warranted a quick post all its own.

This little guy was sitting in the middle of a Biblical scene along the parade route, and he resembles our nephew Jeremiah in so many ways its hilarious. The messy hair angled forward. The puckered lips. The shape of his ear. The character of his eyes. And so he has become known to us as “Mexican Jer.” Makes us smile every time the photo comes up.

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