I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this session with Tammy, Bryan, Emilia and Auntie Beth.  Their family is precious, and I have looked forward to this session for months!  Actually, I photographed them just last fall during my holiday mini-sessions, and was so excited to have them book a full session with me this summer!  And this time I got to meet and photograph Beth as well.  So sweet to watch her with her niece, who she clearly adores. florida child photographer

In the above shot, Tammy and Beth's ancestors painted the watercolor above Emilia's chair.  I love incorporating precious things like that into sessions!

And from yesterday's post, by now we've gathered that Snow White didn't like to eat more than a single bite of her apple.... but she LOVED her grapes!kids photographer clearwater

And she loved to read.  And call Mommy "Ariel" (she has beautiful auburn hair) as she read through her princess storybook.

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stacey woodsAfter we read a little, snacked a little, and twirled a little..... we set off for the library to return a few books.

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safety harbor kids photos

clearwater kids photographyThis is why I LOVE being an on-location photographer.  We're not limited to a studio with the same-old backgrounds and props... rather, we can meet at your home, play with your children's special and meaningful things, document your home and the way it looks while your children's belongings fill the rooms and line the walls (because they won't always), and then take off and enjoy a typical morning doing the things your child loves most.  And for me, it's so refreshing!!  And it keeps the kids moving, too, which is especially great for the two-and-under crowd.  ;)

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And then we decided, why not just break ALL of the rules and have an ice cream sundae before lunch??

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Of course, after the ice cream and strawberries, we certainly needed a bath.  ;)

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I really hated to leave.  I could have stayed there all day long if I didn't have a sweet couple of kiddos waiting for me at home.  (And I treated them to ice cream next!)  I have said it before, and I feel it goes without saying, but again: I LOVE MY JOB.  :)  Thank you to the sweet families of Tampa Bay who open their homes and hearts to me and trust me with photographing their children over and over.  I SO appreciate you!!


I'm starting to fill up for fall sessions, so if you'd like to have me photograph your family this autumn for Christmas and Holiday cards or for those special gifts, definitely give me a call soon to reserve your most convenient date.  I'm booking into October and November, and have a few September dates still open for those who need sessions right away.  Talk to you soon!

our twelve days of christmas...

Santa gave to us:  33 hours of driving, 2,000 miles, 8 traveled-through states, 5 traffic jams, 6 road constructions, 2 tired parents, 2 relieved kiddos, 164 relatives, 194,857 Christmas presents, 3 much-needed gift receipts (wink), 1 spotty internet connection, 2 days of baking (and laughing uncontrollably) with the "girls", 7-degree weather in Kentucky, 1 bout of freezing rain, 4 sniffly noses, 1 stomach virus....  and a partridge in a pear tree.   We're back, folks.  Our little family took a 12-day Christmas road-trip (a 'la the Griswolds), from Florida to Kentucky (to see my family) then down to North Carolina (Chris' family) and then back down to Florida again.  (Yay for Santa bringing Mama her GPS.... FINALLY!!!!)  Everyone keeps asking us how the drive went.  Um, I wouldn't recommend it!  LOL!  Two children strapped into car seats for 6-, 12-, and 15-hour trips is not a fantastic idea.  Especially when one of the aforementioned children is just getting over a tummy virus.  (Total of 8 family members have had it now in the past three days.  Watch out.)  But sickness aside, we had a really lovely time spending our Christmas with family whom we adore, and who adore us right back.  Lila got to meet -- and get her cheeks and rolls pinched by -- all the aunts and uncles and great-grandparents.... and even a great-great-grandmother (photos of that to come later).  Parker had a wonderful time with his cousins.... and the Wii.  ;)  I don't know who liked the Wii more, by the way... Parker, or the "grown-up" boys in Chris's family (including Daddy!), who found the boxing and baseball games so much fun.  (I'm still on the lookout for the Wii Fit for myself....  gotta lose that "babyfat" while I can still blame it on Lila!)  :)

SWP is still closed for the rest of this week -- just trying to regroup from our trip and nurse the kids back to health.  I've got a few galleries to finish up from sessions right before Christmas break, so clients: watch for those this coming week while I'm behind closed doors and can proof-proof-proof away.  Shooting resumes January 5!  And I have lots of photos to come back and share with you soon as well.  Hope y'all had a beautiful Holiday, no matter what you celebrated!

Here's to a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year in 2009!  *muah* 


**EDITED TO ADD:  My email is still really funky -- I can't see my new messages, or if I CAN see them, I can't reply -- so if you're waiting on a response from me, I will try and get this jam-packed inbox plowed through by tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience!!  :)

Merry Christmas! Come on in...

Okay... so I'm a bit late.  But I have a very good reason.... I was finishing designing my Christmas cards.  Which will most likely be mailed out to y'all from either Kentucky or North Carolina... or some random town in between here and there!  I'll be addressing from the road this year, so I'm warning you now to overlook my sloppy handwriting.  Although, you probably won't even notice the handwriting because of the sweeties all over the card itself.  :)  Guess who. Anyhow.  WELCOME to the Florida portion of the Christmas Tour of Homes 2008.  I'm happy to be participating this year!  I must tell you the truth though, I haven't taken as much time this year to decorate as I usually do, because this portrait season kept me SUPER BUSY.  (THANK YOU, my Sweet Clients.  I love y'all, and believe me -- Parker loves you too, because you are indirectly putting a "Wii Box that you put Wiis in" under the Christmas tree for him this year.  LOL!)  So it's finally festive around here, and we're all lit up, so let's get started!

Aaaand before you make fun of that wimpy little artificial tree at my front door, I will have you know that said tree will forever be a part of my holiday decor.  Because when I was 20 years old, living 5 states away from home and B.R.O.K.E, I went and purchased that shabby little pre-decorated tree and it was the only decoration in my whopping 513 sq ft apartment.  Besides the dying dracaena plant and the secondhand couch.  ;)  Every year, when Chris hands it down to me from the attic, I smile and remember that pitiful Christmas when I only had $10 to my name, and I think about how blessed I am today with my amazing family, so many friends, a career that I truly love, all four of my grandparents and one great-grandmother living, my two healthy babies, etc.  I could go on forever!!  But the point is, I'm proud and oh-so-thankful when that tree comes out.  So.  The shabby tree stays. 

The first little tree (above left) is Chris's tree.  I made this for him several years ago, including all the things he likes best:  Redskins football, Cincinnati Reds baseball, Tar Heels basketball (blech!), billiards, bowling, cards, etc.  So it's become a tradition now: Parker and I choose a new surprise ornament for Daddy's tree every year.  I think next year we're going to need a bigger tree!!  

The shot above right (and below) is of Parker's little tree in his room.  I let him decorate it himself, however he wants, and it's filled with very special ornaments that are going to get broken that are very meaningful to him me.  I adore this sweet tree.  And P loves having such a big nightlight in his room at Christmastime.  :)

I just noticed that all the Sesame Street characters seem to be mooning us.  That silly Parker.  Not a one is facing out!  LOL!

Oh, and for more of Parker's antics...  remember this from last year??  Stinker.All stages of his four little years here on this Earth so far, including the many phases boys go through:  Sesame Street (this phase was way too long for my taste and tolerance, I might add), trains (which was way too short for the amount of money I spent on Thomas and Friends), Charlie Brown (a constant favorite!), all kinds of cars and fire trucks, and the Florida Gators.  (Since he was actually born here in Florida, he insists that he is an "Alligator Fan".  Chomp.)  Even Darth Vader is represented on this tree in all his Christmas cheer.  ;)And yeah, I know, you've probably already seen these shots of our main tree (MY TREE, the one that has to be "pretty"), but I like it... so you're going to see it again!  :D

I'm in love with mercury glass this year!  Love it.Our New and Unmatching stocking this year.  Poor Lila.  I had to make it especially girly for her, it was the least I could do.  :)  The rest of our stockings are cream wool, with jingle bells and our names embroidered on them.  Maybe next year we'll be a matching set again!

Oh!  And I have to tell you about my new stocking holders.....They're handbag hooks, similar to these!!!  If you're local, you can pick them up at Kookie Krums in Dunedin.  Their true intent is to hold your purse from the tabletop when you go to a restaurant, so that you don't have to plop your handbag down on the dirty restaurant floor.  (Great idea?  I think so!  They're really pretty, too!)  But that ingenious Janet had stockings hung from her coffee/cookie bar this way, and so four of these little hooks found their way to my um, bookshelf-cum-mantle-for-the-season.  :)  (Hey, it's Florida!  It's been in the 70s most of this past week.  Who needs a fireplace?!)  

Anyhow, we had those big, tall, clunky metal stocking holders before, and I was absolutely petrified that eventually, they would not be able to bear the weight of the stockings' contents, and tumble down onto the kids' heads.  I don't even want to think about it!  Well, no more worrying.  PROBLEM SOLVED.  If these little trinkets can hold a heavy purse, they can surely hold what Santa can stuff into my kids' stockings!Can you just see the Visions of Sugarplums dancing over his little sleepy head?  :)  Oh, I turn into mush looking at my sleeping babies.....  especially when they're wearing Monster Jammies.Okay... that's it for now, but I'll be back tomorrow with more photos and more hall-decking!  Hope you enjoyed your tour!

And..... last but not least, make sure you take some refreshments on your way out the door!

PUMPKIN BREAD WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS (courtesy of my awesome friend Stephanie - xoxo)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two loaf pans (I use the glass variety) with nonstick cooking spray.

3 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 15 oz can of pumpkin

2 tsp baking soda

4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3-1/2 cups self-rising flour

2/3 cup water

1/2 cup pecans, walnuts, whatever you prefer

1/2 cup (um, I usually double this!!) chocolate chips

Mix sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin.  Mix baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and flour in a separate bowl, then gradually stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.  Add water, then stir in nuts and chips.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake at 350 for one hour.  Yields 2 loaves.  

***Chef's Note:  Every time I make this, someone asks me for the recipe.  The bread is not dense like traditional pumpkin bread... rather it's the consistency of banana nut bread!  It's extremely moist.  (And oh-so-delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk!!)  And it's always GONE.  FAST!  Ya might wanna double this whole recipe just in case.  Hey just think of it this way to reduce your guilt: it's a serving of vegetables!  Hee hee.

ENJOY!  And thanks for stopping by to see me!  This was fun.  And you're welcome anytime.  :)

A love letter.....

Dearest Coco,   Oh how I adore you.  Thank you for being so sleepy and wonderful and squishy and bendy for our session.  You were a treat to photograph, as were your beautiful parents.  In your beautiful house.  

Give your wonderful, adoring family a big HUG from me for being so well-prepared for our little session together, and for having such amazing built-in props there, just waiting for me to take advantage of them....  :)

And for your Mama being sweet enough to GIVE ME that gorgeous cocoon we snuggled you up in for awhile.  The one that you apparently loved, because you slept so peacefully inside it!I know you'll never wonder for a single second if you are loved.  Because you will be smothered in kisses for the rest of your life.... I'm quite certain of that.  :)  You are surrounded by love, little one!

Hope to see you soon, sweet baby girl.  You were truly the highlight of my week.

Love, Your Smitten Photographer  :) 

Now for the boys....

So many families of girls I've photographed recently!  This shoot was 100% boy, however.  Trains (both Thomas and the authentic variety), soccer in the backyard, crazy animal sounds, lots of snuggling with Mama and Daddy, and laughs by the barrel-full.  See for yourself... I think they were pretending to be tigers here.  ;)  LOVE that Mom and Dad joined in, how fun is that?!

Such handsome faces.....  


Hailing Thomas...  ;)

Thanks so much, guys, for an awesome playdate.  I had a blast with you, and all of your boyish-ness!

Shhh, don't tell Daddy....

TOP SECRET STUFF HERE.  :)  If you know Captain Daniel Long of Otherside Charters, then shhhh, don't tell him you saw this post!!!  This session is a sweet surprise for his birthday, from his beautiful wife and two adorable daughters.  I thought it was a fantastic idea!  His wife, Janet, is the owner of Kookie Krums, a yummy coffee shop/boutique in downtown Dunedin.  (Make sure you pop in soon, because I did some commercial work for her this year, and she's ordered a whole slew of my canvases to decorate her boutique!)  Anyhow, back to the surprise.... The gals and I headed up to Honeymoon Island to play.  (All of you with young kids know... that I sometimes call our sessions "playdates" and that I always make a point to play with the kids, make it fun, and let them loose to just RUN at some point in the session (well, some sessions have lots more running than others, I must admit!  Especially with the toddler crowd.  ;))  Well, there was so much to do on this particular playdate.  Like hiding in the sea grapes.... um, do y'all see a little blond-haired girl anywhere?!  Where did she go???  ;)

I must add that I love her nail polish.  LOL!  And after hide-and-seek was over, we made sea-shell castles.  (If any of you have ever been to Honeymoon Island, you'll understand why.  There are more shells on that beach than there are grains of sand!)


Then, there were strolls to take and waves to "kick" of course....

How I *adore* my wide-angle lens at the beach.  :)  This next shot is one of my favorites!!

And of course, there is always time for cuddling and snuggling with Mama.  It just wouldn't be a playdate without a little bit of snuggle-time!

I'm in love with this next shot.  Such adoration from Mama, and that sweet soft backlight gets me every time.  So summery and relaxed.

I loved the graininess, and the soft movement of Janet's hair in this one....  and don't tell me that you CAN'T hear the littlest one laughing!  :)  Love that.

Do you think Daddy will be pleased?  :)  Remember, no spoiling the surprise!  

By the way, I refuse to apologize for showing so many images at a time nowadays!  I'm thrilled that my blog finally shows my photographs nice and HUGE, so I get on a roll sometimes and can't stop adding.  LOL!  Have a great night, everyone!!