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

Endless Summer

This summer has flown by. I say that now, but then in the next moment it feels like we've done so many things and have spent so many mornings and afternoons and nights together.

I still don't want summer to end.

June held the end of school for the two older kids, a bit of finishing up for me, Lila's first ballet recital, her seventh birthday, the arrival of her long-awaited mermaid tail and then exciting pool days, lazy mornings together, all the peonies, playtime with neighbors, nighttime hide-and-seek (the boys call it Manhunt), and video games and Minecraft until I'd get frustrated and confiscate all the screens. (I know I'm not the only mama to do that!)

Lila's School Concert
Charlotte at Lila's school concert
Workspace
Lila's first ballet recital
Birthday Brownies, Stacey Woods
FinFun Mermaid Tail, photo by Stacey Woods
Stacey Woods, Photographer
Stacey Woods Photographer
Mermaid Hair, Stacey Woods
Diving Board, by Stacey Woods
Lazy Mornings, by Stacey Woods

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July brought a trip for Parker and Lila to North Carolina and Kentucky, and lots of one-on-one snuggle time for Charlotte. We hosted visits from both sets of the kids' grandparents, visits from neighbors and friends, and visits of fleas for Ace. July marked the start of gymnastics classes for the girls, and rain every day of the month except six. Honestly, we trekked through rain everywhere we went, and lightning scattered us from our neighborhood pool on several occasions.  We ate ice cream, played board games, watched movies, read books, went to the zoo and splashed in puddles. 

Parker & Lila, by Stacey Woods
Just Dance fun, Stacey Woods
Music Lessons: Upright Bass, by Stacey Woods
Reading to His Sisters, by Stacey Woods
Neighborhood Pool, by Stacey Woods
Rained Out
Lowry Park Zoo flamingos, by Stacey Woods

So far, August has rained every single day, and has flooded our little neighborhood as well. Our retention ponds overflowed, and our neighbors with full-to-the-brim pools had to drain them into the street to keep their homes from flooding. Parker saw a duck swimming across our street. Frogs and tadpoles were displaced onto the grass, the sidewalks, and everywhere you looked. Tadpoles swam down the sides of the road where the puddles were deepest. There were even catfish walking in the cul-de-sac. Crazy. Town.

Tampa Bay Flooding 2015, Stacey Woods
Tadpoles

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