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I love my quiet mornings alone on the screened porch of our little house. Although, if I'm honest, I'm never alone, and it's never truly silent.
This particular morning, raindrops fall on the stone path outside my door. I write while the frogs sing their low morning songs, happy that the drought is finally over and the rainy season has come. Little bunnies rustle in their hutches and wash their long ears. The cat curls up in the next chair over, pleased to have me for company. I faintly smell citronella and lavender along with the dampness of the rain, and I check on my small collection of potted herbs growing on the porch, so pleased that they have not met their demise under my care. A pair of mourning doves land in the yard, seeking breakfast. A squirrel shimmies down the palm tree, competing with the doves for food. The sweet birds give up and fly away. Rotten squirrel.
Hours later, after the morning chores are done and breakfast has been cleared, I return to the porch, sit beside the peace lily and listen to the rain continue to fall. Listen to the frogs singing a little higher, a little longer, a little more distant this time.
And I feel a little higher, I can stand up a little longer, and my troubles are a little more distant now too.
A reminder to myself: make time for these not-so-quiet, not-so-alone mornings. Whether on the beach or on the screened porch. These mornings are restorative to my mind and refreshing to the depths of my heart.
Do you have a favorite time of day? A few minutes of time that you prioritize each day? I'd love to know how you refresh your heart and mind.
Mine is a story familiar to many suburban mamas of school-aged children, I'm sure.
With three kids in three different schools, much of my life is spent waiting. Waiting for a school bus, waiting in car line, waiting for grades to come out, waiting for a kid or two to get ready or to finish their homework. Waiting for music lessons to start and finish, waiting in lines, waiting for our name to be called up on the "choice school" waiting list, waiting at red lights from one thing to the next.
We all need an abundance of downtime, so I am very intentional about our family not overextending ourselves. Each kiddo gets to pick one extra-curricular thing per season (if anything at all). Also, I try not to schedule more than one event per day for us, for the sake of my own sanity. Sometimes I'm great about that, but other times it can't be helped. However, there are still the end-of-school events and project presentations and honor roll assemblies, class programs and concerts and volunteer lunches to attend and field trips to chaperone.
Today, Parker had state testing for reading comprehension. Since he's in Virtual School, I had to bring him to the school board across town, to test in a classroom there. A couple hours of testing today, a couple more hours tomorrow, a few hours next week and again the week after that.
So. Many. Tests.
Is it summer yet??
Until then, I sit and wait for my kids. And wait a little more. I work in between dropoffs and pickups and lessons and dinnertime. I schedule sessions while I'm at bus stops and I plan my month out during the few hours of alone time I get each week. It's just the season we are in right now. Shifting tides, balancing acts.
Life is fluid like that.
After Parker's testing ended today, we had lunch and then sat at a coffee shop to finish his school and my work. He wanted to sit in the sunshine, I wanted to sit in the shade. So we both got a bit of alone time. It was such a nice day and I almost wish that we could have stayed longer.
But then again, we still have tomorrow to sit and wait. And next week. And the week after that.
It's that time again! Mini Sessions and Signature Sessions are booking up more quickly than I'd imagined. That's a blessing and a beautiful thing, and I'm extremely grateful.
Click the image below to reserve your Mini Session before they're gone.
*Updated 9/30 at 7pm: YOU SWEET-HEARTED PEOPLE. WE ARE ALL BOOKED UP FOR MINI SESSIONS THIS YEAR!! I do hope you'll reserve a Signature Session on the two open weekends I have left open until Christmas, or a weekday morning or evening. I cannot thank you enough! xoxox
Or if you'd rather have the next weekend and a morning session....
I only have a few weekend dates left open through October and November, so if you're looking to have gift prints, albums and/or cards in time for the holidays, I'd highly encourage you to get in touch with me today to reserve your session.
If you're flexible, I can definitely offer you a weekday morning or evening. But those weekend dates are booking up more quickly than I'd anticipated. Be sure to reach out to me if you're even remotely interested in reserving a session with me this Fall, so that I can make room for you and your sweet family.
Thank you my sweet friends, for your love and support this past year. I hope to see your precious faces soon.
Ribbons and sparkles and twinkle lights and princess crowns, and the sweetest girl ever. This session was an absolute joy to photograph, from beginning to end.
Isn't she just a dream? She read her mommy's childhood books and played with her adorable puppy, and we giggled and talked about life through a four-year-old's eyes. I'm happy to say that I've been able to photograph this darling girl every summer since she was born. I have the coolest job ever to get to meet the sweetest families in Tampa Bay.
I am currently booking for October and November sessions, if you would like your own sparkly, magical, beribboned canopy session in the forest. And with a puppy, of all things. What could be better?! Reach out to me and let's make it happen!
Beautiful darling girl. Such a delight and loved beyond measure.
Those rolls. That head of hair and tiny toes.
Photographing newborns in black and white is something I truly love to do. Look at that soft light falling across those sweet baby features. There is something special about their softness, their roundness, wrinkles and creases, that look so timeless and perfect when limited to natural light and black and white tones. So simple and classic. Newborn images like this look amazing when collected in minimalist albums or framed large on the wall. They don't go out of style, even when you change the decor of your home, or when your little baby girl grows up and starts kindergarten. :)
If you're expecting and would like for me to photograph your little one soon, I'd encourage you to reach out to me sooner rather than later: I want to meet your little one freshly home from the hospital if I can! And if you're nesting, wouldn't it feel so great to get this crossed off your checklist now? Click here to let me know your due date, and let's collaborate!
Raise your hand if you sent a child to school these past couple of weeks. I sent three. Three! THREE kids to school and I have so many feelings about that. My baby started Kindergarten, you guys. How is that possible? Lila started 3rd grade, and Parker started 7th. Time is flying.
I have mixed feelings about back to school. You all know that I love my kids more than life itself, but let's be honest. I work from home. So take your three kids to work with you for eight weeks straight and you'll have an idea of my summer. :)
Now that we've been in school since mid-August, we've found our bearings and we are settling into a nice routine.
This is our first year of trying Virtual School for Parker, and I think it's going to be a really good thing. It's our county's program, and he was able to stay in advanced and honors classes, even a couple that count for high school credit. Pretty cool for a seventh grader. And it's tough to beat a flexible schedule, Skyping with your teachers, and Minecraft breaks once you've finished your algebra. Parker has essentially moved into my office, with the desktop computer all set up for him. So I have an office buddy again, after several years of working from home alone. It's kind of fun! I'm getting used to listening to his techno music while I work, although I've embraced my own pair of headphones so that I can continue to edit in my peaceful place. ;) We are totally okay with skipping the drama of Middle School this year. Sixth grade for sure wasn't the coolest, but we lived and learned. So we'll see how it goes and update you again come Spring.
I can't get over how grown up Lila looks. That braid. Her dimples. Those perfect freckles! She's in her third year of Spanish Immersion at her school, and it's amazing to hear her read in another language. This year, she is all about her friends, and it delights my heart. She is responsible and good, and is always the one who finds Charlotte's constantly misplaced glasses for us. :) When she was about three, I would often ask her, "Lila, what would I do without you?" and she would sing, "You would cry and cry and cry." And it's still true. I rely on her for help with Charlotte and she never fails me.
And Miss Charlotte. Our tiny firecracker. She was just four when she started kindergarten (she has since turned five and she tells everyone who will listen). She smuggles that well-loved Baby Ariel, with her silky tag, into her backpack every morning. She promises that she doesn't take her out at school, so I have just pretended not to notice for a few days! She is so confident, despite her smallness and reluctance to leave her baby at home. All the safety patrols fawn over her in he carline already.
I have loved seeing the hilarious photos and videos of these excited moms doing happy dances in front of their kids' school buses, etc. My friend Bree even threw her kids a Back to School Party to bribe them with cake, I mean, get them excited for school. Although I did not craft something so funny or wonderful or embarrassing, I can absolutely relate!
How about you? Were you singing, "Boo hoo," or shouting, "Woo hoooooo!" this year? I'd love to hear from you!
The biggest, tiniest grins.
The sweetest, scrunchiest yawns.
And the most adoring, loving first-time parents.
If you'd like to schedule your lifestyle newborn session with me, I'd love to hear from you! Click here to get in touch.
Peony season is quite possibly my favorite. It reminds me of slow summer days in Kentucky and the smell of freshly cut grass. It reminds me of our green house on Damron Branch with the big yard and the peach and apple trees. It reminds me of my sisters, playing between our mom's four peony bushes in the backyard. Slender stems holding heavy, snowball-shaped blooms that dipped toward the ground due to their weight. Dad would mow them down every Fall and I'd be so shocked that he was mowing down Mom's flowers. I remember running to tell her what I saw happening, sure that she would be angry. I didn't know that was what made them come back next year.
Peonies remind me of all of my grandmas. Momaw Bertie could grow them beautifully, and so could Momaw Jiggs. Momaw Jiggs had these gorgeous blooms (below) in the corner of her property. This particular plant belonged to my Momaw Grace before that, and the roots came from her mom, my Granny Houck. Who knows how many generations before them started this beautiful thing.
What is even sweeter is that my two sisters now have this dark pink peony plant that you see above. They divided it last Fall, and it's blooming in their gardens this year. Five generations later, or more. Nature is amazing! And so is my Popaw Deb for taking this Polaroid for us in the 1980s, so that we could reference all these years later.
Unfortunately for me, peonies won't grow in Zone 10. But I watch my local Whole Foods (Countryside Mall for my local friends who want to fight me over their supply, haha) and grab up as many bunches as I can. And then I photograph them so that I can enjoy them on my walls the rest of the year.
If you'd like a peony print for your own walls, you can purchase them HERE. If you'd rather have one from this blog post, just let me know and I'll substitute for you. xoxo!
Every morning I stand at this kitchen window to make my coffee.
While the water boils, I admire the African violets that remind me of Momaw Jiggs, that also grow in her very own planters. When the coffee is ready, I drink it from my Momaw Bertie's cups. I think about things that they used to say and do. And I pray for my Popaw Deb and Popaw Lucian who are missing them fiercely, but pushing forward.
It's sacred time for me.
I used to marvel at how this corner window was the only place in my house where things would grow well.
Now, I don't wonder anymore. It's growing me, too.