Leap Day | Little Leapling Photography


It’s February 29, 2024. Happy Leap Day, friends! Do you know where Little Leapling Photography got its name and what it has to do with Leap Day? Read on for the story, all about the mascot, and a special Leap Day question and answer session with my daughter, Kaia, who my business is named for!

Kaia was actually my second kid to arrive spontaneously on her due date. When I found out my 3rd baby was due on such a special date, I didn’t think there was much of a chance of that actually happening a second time. But, after going into labor at 4am on February 29th, my sweet girl barely pulled it off, arriving at 11:24pm.


Little did I know how wonderfully meaningful that birth date would become, and how much fun we’d have celebrating it!

When Kaia was about 11 months old, I was cuddled up in bed with her, scrolling through my Facebook feed. I came across these unbelievably beautiful and powerful pictures of birth photography. I’d never seen anything like it! I’d long been passionate about birth and even thought about becoming a doula. When I saw those pictures, I knew exactly what I wanted to focus my energy on. I wanted to be a birth photographer.

I pondered a bunch of different business names. Lots of photographers use their own name, but I wanted something more unique and memorable. As I stared into the big, beautiful, brown eyes of my special Little Leapling, I was sold. And after a quick google search, I realized nobody else was using that name! LittleLeapling.com was mine!

Within two weeks, I was photographing my very first birth, and Little Leapling Photography was also born.

Eleven years later, Little Leapling Photography is well-established in the Manhattan, KS, area, and I feel so lucky that I get to have a career I’m truly passionate about.


Okay, enough about me! It’s time to introduce you to the mascot of my business, my Little Leapling, Kaia.


I have always gone out of my way to make a big deal out of Kaia’s Leap Day birthday. And no, we don’t just celebrate her birth every four years. We have fun every year! Each year, we do at least one special photo shoot, go out to dinner wherever she wishes (it’s almost always the Hibachi at Umi in Manhattan, KS), and make not one, but two cakes. When February 29th does finally roll around, I insist that her birthday party be ON Leap Day. Other years, since she doesn’t have an actual birthday, we sometimes wait for nicer weather so she can have a party outdoors. That kid LOVES nature.

When Kaia turned one, we did the traditional cake smash. I was pretty new to photography still and didn’t have a studio, yet. Here are a few pictures from her very first taste of cake.

When Kaia turned 2 (or 1/2 in Leap Years), I photographed that very first birth client’s first year cake smash. But, the little cutie didn’t TOUCH her cake. Mama left the cake behind, so Kaia got another cake smash! And so began our annual tradition. I’ve made an extra cake for Kaia to destroy every single year. And we have no plans to stop!

Here’s a cute video I made in 2020 with Kaia demonstrating how the annual cake smash works.

How to cake smash

And here are some more pictures of the annual happimess!

I think the most memorable cake smash was actually for her 2nd real birthday (8 trips around the sun). She got to smash a cake in the studio AND I made special baseball cupcakes for her to take a swing at. The whole family had a blast with that one!

This year, we not only did her annual photo shoot and cake smash session, but we had two more extra special opportunities. I happened to run into the midwife who delivered Kaia just a few weeks ago. I asked if she might be interested in seeing Kaia again. Then, ” Hey, we should take pictures!”
And then my creative brain really got rolling and my vision played out beautifully. Check out the pictures!

Midwife Reunion

Kaia also got to be interviewed by the Topeka Channel 27 news station for a special Leap Day feature just a couple days before the real celebration. Kaia loves talking about her special birthday, but I’m going to try and stick to the questions the reporter asked Kaia since I recorded the full interview.



Q: What’s it like to have a Leap Day birthday that only comes around once every four years?
A: It has its perks and disadvantages. It’s really fun to tell people my Leap Day age and joke around about that. But, there’s also twice as many ages to keep track of! A lot of people ask me, “When do you celebrate your birthday?” We normally celebrate all week because we have fun things like cake smashes, a birthday party, and all kinds of fun stuff.

Q: Can you tell me what a cake smash is?
A: We bring in whatever cake I like and I get messy. I dive in, get it all over my hands, my arms, and my face. It’s really fun! We do it every year, so I’m getting a lot better at it. I have a lot of experience.

Q: Do you have a most memorable cake smash?
A: I’d say the one we’re doing this year will be pretty cool. It’s going to be an ice cream cake. I really like ice cream cakes, so I’m kind of excited. It’s supposed to be like a brain freeze theme.

Q: This is your third birthday, so is there anything you do differently when you get to actually have your birthday on February 29th versus a non-Leap Year.
A: I mean obviously, it’s just an overall bigger event. I mean, not really? Sometimes we do more events, more photos, more gifts…that’s an upside. And my mom makes sure we always have a party ON February 29th.

Q: Would you say that you get more excited for your actual birthday?
A: Oh, 100% percent! I’m so excited. Ugh, then it’s going to be March 1st, so I have to wait another four years.

Q: One of the things my parents used to tell me was, “Good things come to those who wait.” Do you feel like that’s true for you getting to only have your actual birthday once every four years?
A: I think so, yeah. It’s definitely very exciting. I mean, I still get to celebrate my birthday every year. I’d say since it is a special birthday, I get more recognition.

Q: I talked to someone today who is going to be celebrating her 11th birthday here on Leap Day, 44, and she tells me that as she’s gotten older, she appreciates it more and more because it’s so unique. I told her that I was going to interview you for your third birthday. And a little boy later who is going to have his 2nd. So, now that you’re having your third, do you have any advice or prospective you’d like to share with anyone who is new to the Leap Day birthday?
A: Have fun with it. You can trick people with it! Some restaurants have age limits for like free meals for little kids. I’ve tried to get away with that by giving my Leap Year age. “I’m 2, so technically, do I get a free meal?”

Q: Is that your favorite part? Playing with your age and saying, “Oh, I’m actually only 2.”
A: It’s kind of fun seeing people’s reaction. Yeah, I do really enjoy that a lot. I do think that my next birthday is going to be even bigger for my Sweet 16. I’m going to have a lot of sugar.

Q: Is there any one thing that you really want to do for this birthday. Other than the cake smash, obviously.
A: I’m excited for my birthday party. It’s going to be at Leap. And every year, we’ve made a tradition to go to Umi for dinner to celebrate.

Kaia: The question that I have for any other Leap Year babies is could you technically celebrate your non-Leap Year birthday on February 28th just before midnight? Is that what time it takes place? I want to figure that out. Like is there a 30 second gap or something like that.

Fortunately, I don’t think Kaia has ever experienced any negative feedback for her Leap Day birthday. Although, I do remember her once telling me that one of her teachers didn’t believe her. We definitely go all out to make her feel special!

Here are some of the pictures from her special 3/12 birthday at the Manhattan Public Library.

Here’s more of my 2024 Little Leapling including new cake smash photos!

I’m so thankful that Kaia still loves having her pictures taken and still gets a kick out of being the mascot for Little Leapling Photography. She’s such a fun-loving kiddo. She has always been fearless, creative, and loves animals and all things creepy crawly. She’s also an amazing artist, spends countless hours reading, is an incredible athlete, has a new found love for cooking and baking, and absolutely loves to make people laugh. She was even brave enough to do a stand up comedy routine recently!

And Kaia has always been an amazing helper when I get to bring her along to my family photo shoots. She is great with little kids, has adopted a lot of my silly sounds that get the little ones giggling, and is even getting good at taking pictures! When she grows up, Kaia wants to be a veterinarian. But really, the sky is the limit. I don’t think there’s anything this awesome human won’t succeed at, and I’m so excited to watch her continue to grow and blossom into a fierce, yet kind, and talented young woman.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Kaia. And Happy Leap Day from Little Leapling Photography!