"Find magic in the little things, and the big things you always expected will start to show up."
"Find magic in the little things, and the big things you always expected will start to show up."
"Find magic in the little things, and the big things you always expected will start to show up."
Giving generously is something that I feel called to do. I quietly donate sessions to families that come into my life, when my heart leads me to do so. It happens quite frequently, to be honest. I am certain that I donate more of my work than is financially advisable for anyone running a small business, but I digress. My heart feels good for sharing when I can.
In addition to personal giving, there are a couple of favorite local charities that I love to support.
One of my favorite charitable organizations is Cure on Wheels, specifically the Crack Up Cancer annual fundraiser at the Tampa Improv in Ybor. My clients (and now friends), Jack and Brittany Bevilacqua, founded this annual event 8 years ago to honor Jack's parents who lost their fight with cancer, to celebrate life and greet obstacles with a light heart (as his mom did), and to raise money for local cancer research organizations. What's most impressive is that 100% of the profits from the event will directly benefit local cancer patients in Tampa Bay: specifically Moffitt Cancer Center and St. Petersburg YMCA Livestrong Program.
I'm proud to have donated my photography services to their raffle for three years in a row (congrats, Lesley!), but last night was the first year I was able to attend in person. What an experience!! So many wonderful local businesses and company freely gave their goods and services to be raffled off. And like Jack said, "that makes me want to do business with those people."
Besides the raffle, the event offered several hilarious comedy acts, great company, and a tribute slideshow of survivors, fighters and sadly many who have lost their lives to this horrific disease. I got choked up several times throughout the slideshow, just thinking about my Momaw Bertie and her current fight with breast cancer. About my last visit with her this summer, wondering if it might be my last. I thought about Momaw Grace, who lost her battle years ago, and about so many friends and family members who've been affected in large and small ways.
If you've never been to a Crack Up Cancer event, please reach out to Jack and Brittany and get on the list to be notified next year. Or watch my blog for updates next summer/fall. You won't want to miss this.
Cure on Wheels also holds two annual bike challenges to raise additional funds (this one and this one). You can join in or learn more about this amazing, all-volunteer group of survivors, fighters and supporters at www.cureonwheels.org. Makes me want to grab my kids and our bikes and join them!
Holiday Mini Sessions are here, and I can't wait to see your beautiful faces in just a few weeks. I've chosen a new beach, something special and different and a little closer for the North County folks. It offers natural, largely un-fussed-with landscaping, soft Gulf waters, mossy rocks, lots of greenery, and the prettiest sunsets you ever did see.
Get in touch ASAP if you'd like to reserve your mini session. Reservations are extremely limited this year.
If you think you'd rather have a full 1-2 hour Signature Session instead, well then I'd love to see you that way too! I have a few open dates left in September and even fewer in October. (The holiday season tends to book up in reverse!)
I hope to see you soon!
This is one of my favorite families. I met them when their oldest was just a teeny baby, and what a gift to also be able to now photograph their third baby... a third son.
What a lucky mama, to be loved and adored by three little boys.
And a lucky daddy too. (Is that not the sweetest newborn grin you've seen?)
The photo above of the boys looking at their parents' wedding album just melts my heart. Further proof that your family photos are not just for you to enjoy today, but eventually to bless your children. And theirs.
Some days, it's hard not to get distracted by the dirty dishes and the leftovers, the unfolded laundry and homework to check, the little noses to wipe and naps to enforce. The bills to pay, papers to file, errands to run. Donations to give and people to serve... they are all good things, either necessary or important and all certainly worthy of my time, but my heart gets as tired as my body.
This week, I chose cuddling a sick one over getting work done, and I have to admit... I begrudged it. Even as sweet as my little patient was. I'm not proud of that, but it's the truth. I worked late hours after the kids were asleep, to make up some lost time, but without the option to sleep in or nap the next day, I got tired and rundown myself and guess what? Sick, all weekend.
Yesterday I slowed down, turned off my phone and email, read a book, and baked a batch of cookies to share with the neighbor kids who came over to play. I recharged in as much solitude as you can get with three kids in the house, and I went to bed early, accepting more of His grace. Not because I deserve it, but because I desperately need it.
If you have been reading here for awhile, you know that I like to keep things positive here on the blog as much as I can. In all honesty, I would love to only show you pretty pictures and have you believe that my life is easy, my children cooperate for photos and are obedient and kind. But on most days, that's not real life. And I believe in being authentic, as you'll also know if you've been with me for the past few years. Even if it's not pretty.
Along with those delicious homemade cookies comes a messy kitchen. Both literally and figuratively speaking.
Anyone else in need of grace this Monday morning? You are not alone, friend. Life is tough sometimes whether you have no children or five of your own, if you manage your own business or if you work long shifts for someone else, whether you're a great cook or if you fight the urge to order takeout every night. And I'd rather you not know how messy my kitchen/life is, but if sharing my daily struggles, along with the highlights, will encourage another mama... then I'll gladly share.
Let's be real. Ok? And then let's lift our chins together. I've got a plan to make this week as productive and positive as it can be. I've made coffee, have taken two kids to school, and have snuggled and settled the sick one in. My to-do list won't know what's hit it today. We are equipped to handle whatever the day brings. Even if it gets messy.
I'm just like you. I may never "have it all together", but if you share your burden with me, then maybe it will be a little lighter for you. I'd love to encourage you if I can.
I took this on the night of my dad's birthday, in the front yard of their house, just as the last of the light was leaving the sky. It was the first birthday I'd been able to spend with him in years. And looking at this today, I'm a little emotional. (What else is new, right?!) ;)
I love the gray in my dad's mustache, the laugh lines that he so happily earned (mostly from telling stories and jokes and pulling mischievous pranks). His bright, smiling eyes. That familiar grin. His warm bear hug. I look at this picture and I see my features that so closely match his. I am awed at how similar our faces are, 22 years apart. I realize how alike we are and yet how different. And I hope that I can keep a warm smile on my face and enjoy my family just as much as he does, in 22 more years.
I remember the arguments we had when I was a teenager. (Don't all dads & teenage daughters have those?) But I remember when he allowed me the freedom to make my own choices, and how good it felt to have his approval, even in adulthood. I flash back to him in the hospital years ago after he'd had a heart attack, and how afraid I was that I'd lose him. I remember how he flew to Clearwater in July, just to get right back in the car and help me drive 1000 miles back to Kentucky with my kids. How he mailed me back all the little items I'd left at their house, and included a letter and money for me to spend on his grandkids. How he'd fly right back here in a heartbeat if I told him that I needed him.
I see a man who loves Jesus with all his heart and mind and soul. One who tries his best to show his love for others every single day. One who always says that the only thing he wants for his birthday (and Christmas, and Father's Day) is for his family to be together, to hug him, or to call and tell him how much we love him. He's sentimental and affectionate, and he pays close attention to the small things in life. He believes that there is always a Great Plan in motion.
I see a musician, a talented man with gifted hands who can play any instrument you give him. I hear the bass guitar and the banjo and see him nodding his head a little bit to the beat, and I hear his deep gravely voice singing the low notes.
As for me, I see a tired mommy. :) One who was a little weary from the day, and dreading the long trip home that would begin the next morning. I remember that I had cried all of my makeup off earlier that day, but I'd been comforted by reassurance and encouragement from my sweet parents and from using my camera, as always. I see peace and strength. I see a woman who still lives to create, to document relationships and emotions and love. I see reflections of my family's blessings and joy in that last bit of daylight. I was proud to take this photo with my dad, on his birthday. Makeup or no. To document this moment. To celebrate him.
That's what I see when I look at this photograph. I thank God that my dad is still here on earth with us, and that he stopped to hug me and smile with me and my camera that night. And I hope that one day my kids can look at our picture albums together and tell me what they see in our faces. Maybe they'll see similarities between us too.
My belief is that images aren't just representations of what you look like right now. They are so much more than that... the good ones, at least. I think photographs are supposed to make you feel something, to remember, and to hope. To look at the past, the present and the future.
What do you hope your children see when they look at photos of you together?
Just a little movie watching on Bubby's bed before dinner. They were quiet and still for a few minutes of Mary Poppins while I finished up some work.
I can't believe summer is almost over and the two big ones will go off to school next week. Charlotte will miss them so much.
We spent an afternoon last week visiting new friends. Ginger and I have known each other through our photography circles for a few years now, and we were so happy to finally meet in person! My "circle of friends" is intentionally very small, and I'm always amazed at how God brings people into my life who just KNOW what my heart needs at any given moment. Ginger is that kind of friend, truly.
Our kids got along beautifully too... and we joked that they were all inspiring each other to be fearless. They splashed in the lake, jumped off the dock and leapt from the deck of their boat that was moored just a few feet off the shore. Ginger's kids taught mine to kayak, and even my little Charlotte was brave enough to try to paddle by herself (with Parker swimming along behind her). They played soccer, ate popsicles, and swung on the tire swing. We had lunch on the back patio and watched boats go by, as we laughed and talked like we'd been best friends for years... serving each other's children, wiping little mouths and drippy chins, refilling juice and pouring more tea.
And pouring fresh life into one another's hearts while we did so.
In her son's room, a sign on the wall reads "Go Jump In The Lake". It's the perfect charge for an adventurous little boy. It inspired me too. Ever since that day, I've been thinking... into what "lake" should I just take the leap? How can I be fearless? Which amazing adventure should I choose? (I have a few ideas already.)
Here is my collection of images from our afternoon, and you can see Ginger's beautiful set of favorites HERE.
And you know what else? I jumped off that dock into the lake too.
I held Lila's hand, we ran and jumped at the same time, and I yelled all the way down.
It felt amazing. Lila was almost as happy as I was.
Go jump in the lake, friends. Those beautiful waters are good for the soul.
This family never fails to impress me with their gorgeous parties, from their thoughtfully planned details to the hours of hard work they put into making everything come together in the end. I know that they stay up late, get up early, plan for months and consider the needs of every person who attends. Especially the lucky birthday boy or girl!
This particular session was all for Miss Amina. She turned five and her mama told me months ago that she'd asked for a Frozen party... by the pool, of course. ;) I love the way kids think! Undeterred, they made it happen, with help from an amazing team of creative, talented and skillful folks. (See the bottom of this post for resources!)
Party planning by Kelly Lyden of The Party Dress (author of Stylish Kids' Parties)
Customized party goodies also from Kelly Lyden at The Well-Heeled Hostess.
Cake by Cakes By Pink (formerly A Better Cheesecake)
Catering by Delectables Fine Catering of Palm Harbor
Elsa and Anna appear courtesy of Starlite Princess Parties
The kids and I have been traveling this month, roadtripping to Kentucky to visit my family and then to North Carolina to visit Chris's. Thirty hours in the car with little ones? Yes, I am certifiably crazy. But we made memories. We saw my grandma who is very ill (it was hard leaving her house, knowing it's likely the last time I'll kiss her soft cheek this side of Heaven). Lila learned how to swim and Charlotte splashed and pretended she was a mermaid. Parker wanted to take home every dog he saw (bless his heart). We caught lots of bass and bluegill from the best little fishing hole ever, we sipped honeysuckle and picked blackberries and we ate yummy homemade country food. We visited my sisters and my kids' cousins and all three of my remaining grandparents. We met new friends and played with old ones, we fed bread to ducks and grilled hot dogs and paddled a boat on a pond in the twilight and touched lilypads. We watched a field of cows graze on grass and we climbed apple trees and ate fresh tomatoes and corn on the cob. We swung on porch swings and tire swings and rope swings. We caught "lightning bugs" and kept them in a jar, and we slept late and stayed up even later. We watched movies and played games and ate cake and celebrated two birthdays. We took lots and lots of photos, more than I can count. WE LIVED LIFE TO THE FULLEST. And it was beautiful.
So I thought I'd share some simple iPhone photos from our trip with you. I have a lot more from the "big camera" that I'll share soon too. I also had the honor of photographing some sweet folks from back home during my visit, so look for those to be featured on the blog in the next week or so.
“People, there's no such thing as, THE BEST CAMERA BRAND, but yes there will always be THE BEST CAMERA AT ANY GIVEN TIME. Technology will change, but not art.” ― Ashraf Saharudin
I post a lot on Instagram these days, because it's easier than blogging and lets me post short, one-image entries rather quickly. Sometimes I post client work, sometimes you'll see more personal reflections and my kids' memories-in-process, but whatever you see will always come with a lot of heart. If you'd like to get to know me a little better and catch up with me more often than simply here on the blog, then I'd love for you to FOLLOW ME @staceywoods on Instagram.
Have a wonderful Friday, my friends.
The kids are out of school and we've been puttering around the house most of this week. It's just soul-soothing to me after a busy rush of school activities, soccer tryouts, projects due, field trips and running around, naps interrupted by school pickup and deliveries and errands. Home is my refuge, and my ideal morning consists of coffee on the patio, ruffling through a book with music playing behind me, redecorating and moving furniture and tweaking rooms to my heart's content. I surround myself with neutrals and natural textures from outdoors, and find so much peace in simple white dishes and fresh greenery in terra cotta pots. It helps that the kids are always finding and collecting things from the yard and the beach, and so our home is filled with these little treasures: feathers, beach rocks, seashells, bird nests, and leaves shaped like hearts. They're the best kind of art, I say.
We've also been staying at home because both the girls have been under the weather: Charlotte is getting over croup and Lila is on day 4 of a mystery fever (I truly hope it isn't a repeat of Parker's mystery fever a few weeks back, which turned out to be pneumonia). We missed a friend's birthday party today and two trips to the beach this week. Oh you awful virus, please just go away and leave my babies alone.
Here's to a restful weekend, lots of recuperating and refreshment, and maybe even a nap or two.
One of my favorite mamas EVER is on the blog today. Meet Ruth… and Olivia and Maryn. "Everything has changed. What used to be important seems just silliness now. My every waking moment is focused on these two precious girls and our family."
"My mom loves to play the piano; she encouraged all of us (6 siblings) to play an instrument. Since we have grown up, she has continued to expand her talent through lessons and daily practice and is an amazing pianist. When she visits, I know I can count on daily serenades and even her own compositions."
I asked Ruth about her favorite characteristic of each of her girls...
"Olivia: her beautifully kind spirit. I used to pray when she was still in utero that God would allow her to bring joy to everyone she meets--and she does!"
"Maryn: her scream! She is not afraid to let her presence be known. She will need this characteristic as she gets older. :-)"
"I love seeing moms that are calm in the midst of chaos that children naturally create. They give me hope that I too can not worry or not stress about the little things."
I also asked Ruth to tell me about the most important lesson her own mother ever taught her…. and Ruth's answer made me tear up. And I dare say that it will make her mama proud to read her words….
"To honor your father and mother. She was an only child (after her twin sister passed away from Leukemia at the age of 5) and she remained a supportive daughter to her mother until my Grannie's recent passing in 2011. Her daily emphasis on the importance of family and the sacrifice that daughters/children can and should make to honor their parents has made a life-long impact on me. Family is our greatest treasure."
Our greatest treasure, indeed.
"God gives us kids so we'd know how He feels about us." - Bob Goff
Do you ever wonder if God looks down on us throwing our "tantrums" and disobeying Him, and instead of getting angry with us, He just thinks, "but she looks so sweet when she sleeps." And then He is merciful to us, and forgives us when we ask Him to. He shows us grace instead of the justice we deserve.
I don't always show grace and mercy to my kids. Sometimes consequences are necessary. They do receive their fair share of discipline and guidance, and I am quick to throw out the "no screens for a week!" card when the rules are intentionally broken or one kid is picking on another. But I yell too loudly, and too often. I lose my patience more quickly than I'd like to. Sometimes I forget to return a permission slip, or I have to break a promise. I don't always have it all together; in fact it's a rare day when I actually CAN say that I have it all together. I let them play electronics more than I probably should. I nag them about their chores and I expect far more help around the house than they ever want to give me. Sometimes we have to say, "sorry, no company today," or skip a class birthday party. (Speaking of which, I did not send in cupcakes for Parker's birthday last month and we didn't throw him a big party, and I did not feel guilty about either one.) I'm not always attentive, my iPhone is in my hand far too often, and I do not bathe them every single night. Poor Lila has been asking for gymnastics classes for over a year now, and I've yet to sign her up.
But. BUT. I open my arms to them when they creep into my bed in the middle of the night, scared from a bad dream or that monster under the bed. I hold her like a baby because she asks me to. I show him how to stick up for himself and how to be polite and how to respect women and teachers and grandparents and adults. I know each one of their unique love languages and use them to lavish affection upon them as often as I can. I pray with them and for them and in front of them. I read an extra chapter at bedtime just because. I love their Daddy absolutely to pieces and try to set an example for them for how a strong marriage should be. I teach them good manners 24/7 it seems (oh little boys, you are so gross). I tell them about God's love for them and about Jesus' sacrifice and about Heaven waiting for us someday. I encourage sharing and respectfulness and kindness and asking nicely and thinking of others and not spending your allowance all in one place. I am real with them and show them that I am human as well, and I try very hard to explain truths to them in ways they can best understand them. I chaperone field trips and help with homework and shuttle them to school and soccer practice and birthday parties. I pack Lila's gluten-free school lunch every single day and I bake gluten-free brownies and buy gluten-free cookbooks and make homemade granola bars because they love them and eat them all up within a day. I nurse fevers and administer Tylenol and hold cold washcloths on their foreheads and pour orange juice and hold their hands and say extra prayers. I change wet sheets and find missing blankies and dolls and I French-braid hair over and over until it looks like Elsa's. I "holdju" and help them clean up their messes, and I fix endless meals and snacks and cut off all the crusts. And I love them, fiercely. With all my heart and then some.
I'm not the perfect mama, because there is no such thing. Repeat after me, THERE IS NO SUCH THING.
But I'm the perfect mama for my children. And that is enough. Because He says it is.
I'm convinced that Bob Goff had it right when he stated the quote above, and I am trying daily to view my children the way God sees them. I want to parent them the way God parents us. He's not always gentle (after all, even natural consequences do sting), but He always cares for us and even His discipline comes from a place of love and protection and guidance.
Being a mama is a full-time, exhausting, rewarding job, no doubt. And if I do all of those things above and more, can you just imagine all the little things that God does for us, day in and day out? And even after we've been disobedient and rude and disrespectful, He still thinks we are worth saving. That we still look sweet when we're asleep.
Just like our babies.
With Mother's Day just around the corner, I asked some of my favorite mamas a few questions about motherhood, how it's changed their lives, what they love the most. Some of the things they shared with me made me smile. Some answers made me giggle, and other responses made me cry. (You know me!) I'm very lucky to know so many amazing mamas who have hearts of gold! I've known these sweeties since Ocean was in his mommy's tummy, and I'm so blessed to have been able to document his sweet family every year since.
Best. Advice. Ever.
Ocean's Grandma got to join us for our session too, and it warmed my heart to see them playing together. I know that little boys tend to have their own ideas of what constitutes "fun", so we decided to sneak up behind the ladies and "trick them".
Grandma was a terrific sport! Mamas and Grandmas of little boys are pretty lucky, I think.
And so are those little boys.
Don't forget that Mother's Day is this coming Sunday! All this month, I'll be featuring photographs of some really inspiring mamas, who are offering their best advice and thoughts on motherhood. There is even a giveaway or two in the works, so be sure and check back or add this blog to your reader/rss feed.
And if you're thinking of having your own photo session sometime in the future, make sure you sign up for our newsletter over there to the left! I promise never to bombard you with email, but only let you know of fun things, special announcements, and upcoming dates and events. If you're sold on a session right away, then click on the word "contact" below this post, or in the menu bar at the top of this blog. I can't wait to chat with you.
How have you evolved through motherhood, like Ocean's mama says? Do you stop folding laundry and play with your kids? (That one convicted my heart.) I'd love to know your thoughts, so leave a comment below this post!
You deserve a break. You deserve a little recognition too, for all you've accomplished.
Whether you work from home, at home, or away from home, I know that you are busy 24/7, and that you have a BIG JOB no matter what.
Just think about the roles you play on a daily basis...
However. YOU are rarely in the photos. And if you are, it's just a quick snapshot taken by Dad or a passerby at the beach. (Sorry, Dad, we know you mean well.)
But guess what? That's not enough.
You deserve more.
You deserve a professional photo shoot with you and your little ones snuggling and singing and holding hands and swinging and laughing and hugging and tickling each other and giving Eskimo kisses.
That would make the perfect Mother's Day gift, wouldn't it? Either from someone else, or even as a gift you give to yourself (and indirectly, to your children as well).
And my whole reason -- my very heart's desire -- for this special event is that it might just give you a little encouragement to pull that mini-album out of your purse during soccer practice or week's they're away at camp. It might make you stop and be grateful for these fleeting moments when you look at that sweet framed photograph on the wall, after dropping them off at preschool (or middle school) on the first day. It may make your celebrations sweeter to be able to flip through photo albums with your children each year, as you reflect on how much they've grown, and they see through your photographs just how much they were loved, even way back then.
Photographs of my children are my most treasured material possession. They are what we will grab in an emergency, only after each other. They cannot be replaced or duplicated or substituted.
And you deserve them on this special day... the day that reserved just for hardworking, well-intentioned, sacrificing Mamas like you. No matter if your children are still babies or if they are teenagers already.
It would be my honor to give you such a gift.
Session availability is extremely limited, and mini-sessions begin tomorrow.
Friday morning, April 11th Friday evening, April 11th Saturday evening, April 12th
Several sessions have already been booked, but there are a few openings left.
They are waiting for you.
Reserve your Mother's Day Mini-Session now by calling 727-698-0344 or by replying to this email. Your Session Fee will be required to book; all major credit cards are accepted.
"Mama, I want to give you one hundred kisses!" ~my Lila (about twice a week) And I'd happily let her.
One of the things that I love most about being a mama is... getting one hundred kisses in a row. :) Truly, I love the affection my children give me, and the affection they allow me to give them. It's a wondrous thing. Snuggles are one of our love languages, and we always hug and kiss each other every time one of us leaves the house. Even if it's just to the grocery store.
Our favorite way to watch a movie is cuddled up on the couch together, pillows thrown all over the place.
Lila kisses the palm of my hand every morning when I drop her off at school, a la "The Kissing Hand." Just this morning, she held up the car line because she jumped back into the van to kiss Charlotte on the head. No one minded a bit. :)
Parker melts into a puddle when I scratch his back or run my fingers through his hair. It's how I used to get him to sleep when he was a baby, and he still adores it.
Charlotte won't go to sleep at night without running into the living room to "get Daddy's kiss" first.
One of my favorite quotes ever is this one: "Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives." ~C. S. Lewis
How do you and your kids show that you love each other? Do you have your own little "love language" or bedtime snuggling rituals? I'd love to know more about how mamas love their babies, so tell me in the comments below!
From now until Mother's Day, I'll be doing a blog series on motherhood, entitled What I Love About Being a Mama. Yesterday, I shared with you a bit about sibling relationships and asked you for tips on fostering friendships between your children. Today, I'm shared with you how much I adore their sweet cuddles and affection. Stay tuned for the next few weeks of this series... I'll be featuring interviews, giveaways, and special gifts just for my readers. I promise, you won't want to miss a single post! :)
Also, don't forget about Mother's Day Mini-Sessions happening this weekend! It's a terrific gift idea, and one that most mamas will appreciate far more than flowers and dinner out. Photographs last forever, and I hope you'll let us encourage you on your motherhood journey by photographing you with your own little loves (and even your own mama too!). Click here for more information, and register through the CONTACT button at the top of this website or by calling 727-698-0344. Sessions are limited, and several have already filled up, so don't wait! Book your Mother's Day Mini-Session now!
Undoubtedly, one of my favorite things about being a mama is when I get to witness how much my kids truly like one another. Not just "we-love-because-we-have-to", but actual friendship. Snuggling, tickling, laughing, playing because-they-want-to friendship. It warms my heart to no end to see these sibling friendships developing and growing.
I was folding laundry on Lila's bed yesterday, and Lila climbed into Charlotte's crib to play with her, like she so often does. They just began snuggling under the covers and tickling each other and giggling like little girls do. My heart melted into a puddle when I saw them being so loving toward each other, all on their own.
My camera was in my office, but my iPhone was nearby, so that is what I used here. After all, "the best camera is the one that's with you." ~Chase Jarvis
I actually texted this photo to my two sisters immediately afterward, because it made me think of them. We're still best friends to this day, even as mamas ourselves.
Parents, never underestimate the importance of fostering real friendship between your children! I'm so very grateful for my sisters... the way we have always helped each other through different stages of life, having all of those inside jokes that no one else thinks is significant, much less funny. How we support each other even if we don't agree, how we can call or text in the middle of the night if we need a listening ear or a bit of advice about a sick baby. How we've comforted and encouraged one another through breakups and boyfriends, marriages and babies, through life and death and sickness in between, through prosperity and heart-breaking loss, through cross-country moves and changes that cannot be reversed. I am sp grateful for our undying friendship and our unconditional acceptance and support of each other. I know that my sisters always have my back, even though we are scattered across the country.
Our parents gave us these most wonderful gifts: each other.
It is my intention to guide all three of my children to not only love each other, but to truly like each other now and forever. To give them what I have with my sisters. And it's a beautiful thing to witness this unfolding before my eyes.
So what about you? Are your children also friends? Let's talk! I'd love to know your tips and ideas on how to develop sibling friendship in the comments below!
I'll go first! :) There were three of us girls, but only two bedrooms upstairs. So the two who were arguing the most would have to share a room until we learned to get along. We didn't like it at first, but it worked like a charm. Mom was pretty brilliant like that.
Now it's your turn!
Today is the first day of my new blog series entitled, "What I Love About Being a Mama". Stay tuned for the next few weeks as we celebrate mothers all over the world. I'll be featuring interviews with other mamas, special gifts, and giveaways just for my readers! Be sure and subscribe so that you don't miss a single post!
I also hope you'll join me this Friday and Saturday, April 11th and 12th, for Mother's Day mini-sessions at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin! I'd love to melt YOUR Mama-heart into a puddle when you see images of your children loving on each other, and loving on YOU. Register now by emailing me through this website (contact link above) or by calling me at 727-698-0344. It would be my honor to celebrate you and your children, even if they're grown up and not-so-little anymore. They'll always be your babies, after all, right?
Mother's Day Mini-Sessions are now open for registration! I'm honored to be photographing sweet, sentimental mamas and their beautiful children in Tampa Bay next weekend, and I hope you'll join us!
I want to be very clear... These Mother's Day Mini-Sessions are meant to be shared and enjoyed and made as meaningful to your family as possible. If you'd like to, consider inviting your mother to join in! Ask your mother-in-law. Your grandmother. Your children. Your grandchildren. Your special aunt, perhaps. Or your mama-figure, whomever that is in your life. Think about how precious a multi-generational photograph would be to your family.
We just want to celebrate you!
Sessions will take place in 30 minute increments:
Friday, April 11th morning 8am - 9:30am
Friday, April 11th evening 6pm - 7:30pm
Saturday, April 12th evening 6pm - 7:30pm
These sessions are limited, and some of the above appointments have already been filled by current clients and email newsletter subscribers. If you'd like to reserve your session, get in touch with me asap at 727-698-0344, by emailing: stacey at staceywoodsphoto dot com, or by using the contact form on this website.
This year, receive a gift that won't fade or wilt, one that won't break or go out of style. A gift that encourages you, just as much as you encourage your children, every time you walk past it hanging on your wall.
I can't wait to meet you.
Ever since I was a little girl, Mother's Day has seemed so happy and magical to me. At church, our pastor would give special recognition (large, full hanging baskets of flowers) to the youngest mother, the oldest mother, the mother with the most children present in the service that morning, and the mother whose child(ren) traveled farthest to be with her that day. My own mom actually won once. She tied for "mom with the most kids present" by having us three girls there. She tied with Donna Prichard, who usually won that title, but tied that year because one of her four kids didn't make it there in time. ;) Donna graciously let my mom take the basket of flowers that day, and I've never forgotten that.
Mother's Day has always been a big deal, but even more so when I became a mama myself.
And not because it meant that I'd get a gift. ;) Like many of you, I don't think it's really about the gift itself... it's about the thought behind that gift. Right, moms? It's an opportunity to teach our children how to love well, to give with intention, to show honor and respect, and to make someone feel amazing and appreciated for the job they do and the sacrifices they make.
Truly, I could not be happier if I only receive homemade cards from my children, because their love is pure and sweet and simple and these precious art pieces are straight from their little hearts!
But.... Daddy doesn't get off the hook so easily. ;)
My husband knows that I want to be recognized, appreciated for all I do for our family. Whether that may be shown with a sweet gift that he thinks I'll like, or a special dinner out alone or with the family (so I don't have to cook or clean up the mess), or a bouquet of my favorite flowers, or lavish attention and a day of extra-special honor in front of our children.
Just notice me. Recognize me and pay special attention to me today. Encourage me that I'm really doing okay at this motherhood thing. Tell me you love me and that I'm making a difference in our children's lives, even if it doesn't feel like it some days.
Because some days, don't you think that being a mama is the most challenging job in the world??
SO. DO. I.
Here's the thing: we all know that even the most beautiful flowers still wilt and fade. Stylish jewelry goes out of style eventually or it gets shuffled around and forgotten in the jewelry box. Dinner is only delicious for an evening. Eventually I'll have to cook again, and the dishes will pile up in the sink tomorrow. (Those handmade cards, though? They'll be precious forever!)
What I'd really love is a memory. A keepsake. A way to freeze this precious time of life, to actually see how much my children love me, how happy they really are, after all. An encouraging reminder on tough days (cause they're coming) that I'm still doing a good job. That I'm doing meaningful work, and that I matter to these tiny people who call me Mama.
Do you feel the same way? I thought so.
With that in mind, this year I'm planning something wonderful for my photography clients:
MOTHER'S DAY MINI SESSIONS.
Sweet mamas, these are just for you and your children! (Or you and your own mama.) A few wonderful minutes, captured on film, with your children on your lap, in your arms, and holding your hand. Your place of honor. A printed, tangible reminder of their love, on the wall for years and years (because don't we all have kind of a sinking feeling that the teenage years are going to be worse than the teething ones??).
So I chose a gorgeous new location with lush greenery, sand and sea. I have fun, sweet ideas in mind for getting you and your babies snuggled up close for real, beautiful portraits that will be an encouragement to you for years to come. I've got special Mini-Collections that allow you to own digital files, matted prints and/or a beautiful modern album telling the story of your day. And I'm offering them to you now, in plenty of time to have your prints in hand (and maybe even framed) by Mother's Day.
Now. Tell me that isn't better than flowers.
(Mamas, forward this post to your significant other TODAY. If they are anything like my husband, they truly do appreciate it when you spell out exactly what you want!)
Or, gift this special session to yourself, to your mother, or to your children! I promise, you'll never regret making the investment in photographs of your sweet loves.
Stay tuned this week for your opportunity to register for one of these limited-edition sessions. I can't wait to give you this beautiful gift and to encourage you in your mama-journey.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Sometimes the most interesting parts of a photograph are the details and possibilities that are suggested.
I'm not sure what I love more about this photograph: the seen or the unseen.
I love the visible part of this sweet girl's legs and feet, as she's jumping ever so slightly above the edge of the wave... Daddy standing tall nearby to protect her and lift her should she lose her balance. It's a quiet, gentle image of a father and daughter that I find myself coming back to again and again.
But I'm also drawn to the reflection of her, arms stretched upwards in a ballerina's pose. That water-filled dip in the sand that suggests that she was just standing in that very spot, just before the tide washed its most recent wave up to the shore. Just before she leaped over that wave and into the deeper tide. Bravery and spirit, confident youth.
Daddy -- and his shadow -- planted as firmly as possible in the soft, wet sand, watching over his little girl to make sure she doesn't dance too far from his protection. He knows that someday she'll dance a little further and further from him as she grows up, as she moves confidently into her life's path, into her own oceans.
So I'm curious... what do you see? :)