So many gifts

I love this sweet girl and her precious mama and daddy. I met them when this very big preschooler was just a babe in her mama's tummy, and I've been so blessed to be able to watch her grow these past three years.

Earlier this summer, to mark Isa's 3rd birthday, we went back to the Sand Pearl, which holds very special meaning to Isa's parents. We read her favorite books, we twirled in tutus, we giggled, we dressed up, we played Mommy, we played on the white dunes, splashed in the Gulf, jumped a few waves and got a little bit wet :) and snuggled in blankets with her Mama at the end. 

I left the session so full and happy, nostalgic and thankful. Like I'd just opened a gift that meant the world to me. 

Stacey Woods lifestyle photography for children
Stacey Woods, lifestyle photographer
Horton Hears a Who, by Stacey Woods
Horton Hears a Who 2, by Stacey Woods
Toddler Feet, by Stacey Woods
Sand Pearl Ballerina, by Stacey Woods
Just Like Mommy, by Stacey Woods
Style, Baby  |  by Stacey Woods
All the Giggles, by Stacey Woods
Kisses from Daddy, by Stacey Woods
Family on the Beach, by Stacey Woods
Family on the Dunes, by Stacey Woods
Kicking up Sand with Daddy, by Stacey Woods
Little Girl Curls, photography by Stacey Woods
Catching a Wave, family beach photography by Stacey Woods
Lifestyle Family Photography, Stacey Woods
Kids beach photography by Stacey Woods
Lifestyle Family Photography on Clearwater Beach, by Stacey Woods

Isa's grandparents were in town to visit her (they're from Kentucky too... my favorite kind of people!), and they told me how many of her photos they have up in their home... how they sometimes tear up when they look at them, and how much they appreciate having these photographs to keep Isa close, even though they can't see her every day. 

It was precious of them to share this, and it was encouraging for me to see them so delighted about something that I can give them. A connection to their sweet girl miles away. 

And I will use this gift of mine somehow, someway, until I don't have anything left to give anymore.

Sister and Fur Brother, by Stacey Woods

Just for old time's sake... the last photo (with her cute fur brother, Spencer) is from 2014. It's unbelievable how much Isa has grown and changed in a year! Time passes quickly, friends. Don't waste a minute of it.

xo,
Stacey

Meeting Noah

It was an absolute pleasure to meet this sweet new mama and daddy. We got to talk about parenting philosophies, infant sleep patterns (and techniques for getting them to sleep!), living close to the water, surfing and teaching, and everything in between. I have dearly loved not only photographing these new little bundles of joy for the past 7+ years, but also to be welcomed into their "first homes". To be able to get to know the wonderful people who have the privilege to guide their little hearts through their journeys in this life. 

Tampa newborn photos, Stacey Woods
Stacey Woods newborn photography
Stacey Woods lifestyle newborn photography in Tampa Bay
Stacey Woods, Tampa Bay lifestyle baby photography
Clearwater newborn photographer
Lifestyle Newborn Photography by Stacey Woods
St Petersburg newborn photographer

xo,
Stacey

Cora's Crusaders: An Update

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." -- William A Ward

WeHeartCora

Sweet friends, we are absolutely blown away by your kindness and generosity in just the past 24 hours. Our family, our friends and acquaintances, people who know and love Cora's family, even perfect strangers who have only heard their story... have donated over $3,000 to Señor G and his precious family. (Go here for yesterday's blog post about why we are raising money for them. Put yourselves in their place for one minute and I know that you'll be compelled to help them!)

Our goal is $5,000. Can you help us get there??

Please, give today in honor of that great teacher in your life who helped you see things in a new way. The one who inspired you to do better, to be greater, to reach further, to go higher. Señor G does this for our children every single day. 

Can I just tell you? Lila now understands Spanish beautifully, although we don't speak it at home. She can speak Spanish conversationally. I am taking online classes just to understand what she's saying! She comes home singing songs en Español, and I can only translate them because I know the English version. :) And she just began Spanish Immersion this year. It's amazing what our children learn when they have a teacher who truly cares about them.

And as you can see above, the kids love him right back. 

Bless you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. #CorasCrusaders #WeHeartCora

Amazing Teachers and Cora's Crusaders

My mom is one of the greatest teachers I know. She put herself through college while my sisters and I were little, and obtained her graduate degree over the years with evening classes and summer school. I have so much respect for the sacrifice she still makes in order to teach her kids. The money she spends from her own pocket to get extra supplies for her classroom, because the district's budget just isn't enough. The years she spent tutoring kids after school. The weekends and evenings that she still spends grading papers at home. The weeks it takes her, before and after the school year, to get her room ready to greet the next class of children. Educators are a special, dedicated group of folks, aren't they?

Besides my mom, there have been so many teachers who have made an impact on my life. Mrs. Burton encouraged my love of reading; Mrs. Robinson was always incredibly kind to me and taught me how to write in cursive. Mrs. Storey still brags on me to my parents, to this day. Mrs. McDavid encouraged me to write more. Mrs. Williams showed me that algebra might actually be fun if you treat it like a puzzle to solve instead of work to do.  Mrs. Preston used to tell us funny stories about her dog, Stevie (as in Nicks). Mrs. Burchett taught me how to type, a skill that I'll forever be grateful for. She even took me to school several mornings my freshman year, since we were neighbors, and I'll always appreciate her for that. Mrs. Porter warned us girls that if we popped our knuckles in 5th grade, we wouldn't be able to wear our boyfriend's class ring in high school. ;) 

Our kids have been lucky to have had some pretty amazing teachers too. Lila is in the Spanish Immersion program at her school, and she speaks/hears/learns in only Español for half the day. It's pretty amazing what she's learned from Mr. G this year. But that's what happens when you have teachers who are invested in your child's education. Teachers who really care about your kids and truly want to help them love learning.

And it's an amazing thing when you have an opportunity to give back to them.

You see, Mr. G's baby girl, Cora, is in the hospital battling leukemia. She is only 7 months old. She's such a tiny thing to be fighting such a big monster. And while we know that we can't do anything to help Cora beat cancer by ourselves, there is still something we can do to love on her family...

"Love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn't just keep thinking about it or planning for it. Simply put: love does."  ~Bob Goff

Cora's Crusaders

These beautiful, compassionate kiddos from Mr. G's classroom (my sweet Lila is up there holding the C) absolutely adore their teacher. And we as parents have created a fundraising website to raise money for this family's medical expenses, their commutes to and from the hospital, groceries, help with Cora's 3 year old sister... just whatever they need to make this burden a little lighter to bear. 

Would you help them, sweet friends?

Cora's Crusaders

CLICK HERE to donate any dollar amount you feel led to give. Even if it's just five bucks from skipping your morning coffee run. Every dollar helps! Cora needs treatment more than we need those calories, am I right? (Make your coffee at home for a week and see how much it adds up!)

Or, make a donation in honor of that fantastic teacher in your life. You get to pay it back and pay it forward, and make a difference in the life of a child. I'm sure your teacher would be super proud of you.

Also, we'd love to spread the word via social media, blogs, email, the news, your office's break room bulletin board.... any way you know how, and wherever you have a voice. Please save the class photo above (just right click and save to your desktop). Copy this link: http://www.gofundme.com/nn8hsw?fb_action_ids=10153313885613069&fb_action_types=og.shares and share away, friends! Use the hashtag #WeHeartCora if you can! It's all about her, and getting her family the help they need to make it through day to day. 

I hope you're blessed tenfold in return for the kindness that you show today. Thank you so much for helping us lift this family up when they need it most.

All my love,
Stacey

Maybe Tomorrow

The dishwasher is humming as I type. The yardwork is done for now, the house is being cleaned and disinfected due to little and big ones being sick at home this week. Charlotte is in daycare for the first day all week, the older two kids are at school, and the day ahead looks so productive for me! I have my coffee in hand, Pandora on, and my to-do list ready. 

//

Charlotte my sick little one

I kid you not... I typed those words above and then my phone rang. "Charlotte is sick again." So off I went to get her, and now she's snuggled on the couch with an ice pop and her blankie and Baby Ariel.  

And I am snuggled beside her too, because now I'm not feeling well. Doesn't that just figure? It comes with the territory I suppose.  And here I was so relieved that I'd fought it off the whole week.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe tomorrow will be productive. Maybe tomorrow I'll get caught up. Maybe tomorrow she won't ask to take her nap "in yuh ahms, Mama," instead of in her little bed, and I'll miss it terribly. 

 

Ace and Charlotte

From this morning... 

Rescuing Ace, Stacey Woods Photography

I walked into the kitchen to find Charlotte stooped down over Ace, giving him another hug. My office is just off the kitchen, so I doubled back and grabbed my camera. He was perfectly happy to lie there and let his littlest girl love on him. 

Rescuing Ace the Labradane, Stacey Woods Photo
Stacey Woods Photography, #rescuingAce the labradane

For those who have asked, Ace is a labradane. I didn't even know there was such a mix, but he has the friendliness and coat of a labrador, and the size and temperament of a great dane. We rescued him back in December from the Pinellas County Animal Shelter, and he had just turned four years old the week prior. I don't know his history, but I can't imagine why his previous owners would have given him up. He's a gentle, amazing friend to the kids and makes us laugh all day long. He doesn't really love to fetch; instead he'd much rather run down the street to chase squirrels. We have to watch the screened porch door (the kids are forever leaving it open!) because he slips out behind them and sprints down the street at lightning speed. (Have you ever tried to chase a 140-pound dog on a squirrel mission? Forget it.) His sheer size absolutely terrifies the small dogs in our neighborhood, and they all go to pieces yapping when they see him coming... but in all reality, he's the gentlest giant you could imagine and he only wants to sniff them. Not eat them. :)

If you want to keep up with our adventures with Ace, I'd love it if you followed me on Instagram. You can also click on the hashtag #rescuingAce to read our rescue story from the beginning!

Love Languages: A New Blog Series

I'm starting a new series on the blog, entitled Love Languages. I've always been intrigued with how people give and receive love, and it is one of my favorite things to witness when I'm photographing people: how they show love to one another. 

I've you've never read the book, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, then I highly suggest you click over right this minute and grab a copy. It's not just for couples; there is a wonderful version for children that is so insightful. I think about love languages every time I'm with my own kids, when I'm planning sessions with clients, and when I'm actively shooting and talking to them from behind my camera. 

The five love languages are: 
Quality Time
Physical Touch
Words of Affirmation
Receiving Gifts
Acts of Service

According to the author, we all have one primary love language that we cannot do without. In addition, we may have secondary love languages that we enjoy as well.

My own three kids each have different love languages, and it's a joy to be keyed in on their individual brands of heart-speak and to be able to love them how they each need to be loved. When I'm loving them in their love language, that's when they feel it most... why would I want to love them in any other way?! So during this forever-ongoing blog series, I'm going to show you what love looks like between myself and my own sweet babies, for me as a mama/wife/sister/daughter/woman, and for my clients and their families. I hope you'll join me... I cannot wait to share this insight with you!

To start us out, I thought I'd share one of the love languages of my daughter: quality time. She's an amazing little girl with a heart of pure gold, and it is my pleasure and great honor to love on her! Lila sweetly says that she wants to stay home with me every single day, even though she loves school. To make her feel loved, all I have to do is simply spend one-on-one time with her. Doesn't matter what we do, as long as it's together. We braid hair, we take a walk, we bake gluten-free goodies together, we ride bikes, skip down the sidewalk, read together, snuggle in bed, I have lunch with her at school, we hold hands or play games or go shopping together. Just the two of us.

I also find that when I love her the way she needs it most, I fill her little love tank to its brim. And with that, she is more open with me in return, more patient, more well-behaved, more helpful and cooperative. (And in our house, friends, we high-five and call that a win-win.)

Stacey Woods, lifestyle photographer
Stacey Woods, black and white family photographer
Stacey Woods, Tampa Bay family photographer

Interestingly enough, Lila's love language to me is often acts of service or giving me gifts. She writes me letters (check out the hashtag #lilawrites on Instagram), leaves me little notes, she does extra chores to help me out, even tells me I'm beautiful when I don't wear any makeup... she is just a delight. She is so kind to her brother and sister, and loves her daddy like no other.

My Lila

So tell me, dear friends... how do you find yourself giving love? What does your spouse do that makes you feel adored, noticed, beautiful, appreciated, loved? What do your children do for you that makes your heart light on fire? Let's find your love language. Then find that of your significant other and your children. Spend this next week consciously showing love in the ways that your family receives love best, and see what it does for their hearts... and yours!

Love to you,
Stacey

The Good Stuff | Tampa Bay Lifestyle Photography

I just delivered prints to this family, and then I realized that I hadn't shared them here on the blog. :)

I absolutely LOVE this type of session... in a client's home, relaxed, with plenty of time for snacks and snuggles. Cuddled up in bed with blankies for soothing, thumbs for sucking, and goldfish for nibbling. A newborn baby in Mama's arms, and toddler tickles and funny faces with Daddy.  These are the days, aren't they?

I hope these two darling brothers will always know how much they are adored. 

Clearwater Lifestyle Photographer Stacey Woods
Tampa Bay Lifestyle Photography
Lifestyle Photographer Stacey Woods
Lifestyle Photography Tampa
Lifestyle Photography details
Stacey Woods Photography Clearwater
Stacey Woods, Photographer for Tampa Bay
Lifestyle Family Photos
Stacey Woods Photo
Woods Photography Tampa
Lifestyle Baby Photography Tampa
Stacey Woods Newborn Photography
Lifestyle Photography Clearwater area

Rescuing Ace

If you follow me on social media, then you already know.... we got a dog. :) But not just any dog. We rescued a sweet boy from the Pinellas County Animal Shelter on Friday morning. He'd been there for a little over a month, and I know in my heart that he was just waiting for us to come get him and take him home. We visited him Thursday morning and Thursday evening, and the kids cried when we had to leave him there. So I went back first thing Friday morning and stood outside the doors for 30 minutes until the shelter opened. 

Ace the Labradane, #rescuingAce

And I brought Ace home. 

He is our Clearance Puppy. He was $12 on sale during a promotion the Pinellas County Animal Shelter is having all month long. Twelve dollars... that is all it took to change his life. I've bought candles that cost more than that.

Rescuing Ace

And he couldn't be more perfect for our family. He's about four years old, and seems to be a Labradane, a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Great Dane. He's massive, but he is a love. He wants to ride everywhere with us, and he lets the kids hug him a thousand times a day. Lila fell asleep in the floor with him, his first night home. He woke up but refused to move because he'd have to disturb Lila. He sleeps quietly by Parker's bed at night, knows basic manners and commands, and he walks really well on a leash. It amazes me that anyone ever let him go. 

But we are glad they did.

Rescuing Ace
Rescuing Ace
Rescuing Ace, Rescuing Us
Rescuing Ace, Rescuing Us

Prepare for an influx of dog photos here on the blog, and on Instagram and Facebook. And maybe even a hashtag. ;)