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This is THREE. Young, wild, and THREE!!!

Today my little Michael is THREE and this boy-mama heart cannot believe how quickly the time goes! All I ever wanted was to be a mom and for years I patiently waited with those that still wait their turn. This sweet, spunky boy answered my prayers and made me a boy-mom! Since the day he entered into this world he’s challenged me physically, mentally, emotionally… he’s made me exhausted at times but has filled my heart with so much love! Watching Michael and Thomas build their brotherly bond is something I cherish daily.

Michael is in preschool, he’s potty trained, and sleeps in a big boy bed! He occasionally still sucks his thumb and his lovie is his crib sheet, called “Sheet”, and it goes almost everywhere with him. He loves dinosaurs, swimming at the rivah, playing with his cousins, chasing his DaDa, tickle traps, chocolate chip pancakes, all animals, trains, and reading books. He learns a new word every day and talks nonstop! He’s full of energy, curiosity, and has a bold loud personality.

As a motherhood and family photographer… you know that we had to do a smash cake session! I’m typically not a fan of props but for Smash Cake birthday sessions… bring it on! The other day I setup everything during nap time in my driveway. I was worried that I set the bar too high in getting carried away with the various props I wanted to use… surprisingly he cooperated throughout the entire 9-minute session! He read through his favorite dinosaur book, we sang “Happy Birthday”, and roared like dinosaurs!!!

Looking forward to the fun-filled celebrations to come this week for this THREE-Rex! Stomp, chomp, & ROAR… Let’s party like a dinosaur!

» OPEN POST »

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Be still my heart!! Where did my babies go, y’all?! Michael will be 3 on October 17th and Thomas is now 18-months old. I’m having all the feels today as Michael starts his 2nd year of Preschool (the Twos class, 2-3 year olds) and Thomas’s first year of Preschool (the Toddlers class, 16-23 months olds). We’re starting at a new school for us too so it’s a first for all of us this year. Lots of familiar faces at this school and highly recommended so we’re excited! How cute are these two with their matching shoes and totes?! Tote bag personalization by The Crafty Neighbors. Scroll down for my 1st photo attempt of the two of them, HA! Pretty accurate, LOL!

I’m so very proud of my smart (and wild!) boys! Back in February, we transitioned Michael to a big boy bed and this past summer we got started with potty-training. He’s pretty much pantless when we’re at home (with no accidents!), LOL, and he still wears a diaper at night. Michael gives every single day 110% and talks nonstop… he’s a go-getter from 6AM-7PM (he thankfully still takes a nap). He loves dinosaurs, cars, trucks, and riding his scooter. Thomas loves music, dancing, snuggles, tickles, clapping, and chasing after his big brother. Thomas has always had a go-with-the-flow demeanor, he’s my daredevil but a good listener… and his big smile will truly melt your heart. These two brothers are like peas and carrots one minute and like vinegar the next! It’s been a longggg summer reminding Michael each and every day to be gentle. Although Michael has some tough love at times… he loves his little brother to pieces.

I’m excited for them to meet new friends, listen to others, explore, play, and learn!!… {and for this mama to get a break M/T/W from 9am-12pm… can I get an amen?!}. I love my boys! But they can be a lot to handle at times, LOL! It’s loud in our house… lots of dinosaur roars, squeals of laughter, some lots of tears (toddler tantrums!), and memories made! But all moms need a break to recharge batteries and refuel so we can be better moms. We had a lonnnnnng summer together… since Michael wasn’t yet 3 and potty-trained he couldn’t do any of the camps or Bible Schools… so we had to improvise! Also, with Ryan home full-time the entire summer… we all had lots of family time together. Now Ryan is back at work and the boys are off to school!

While I’m sad my boys are growing up way to fast!!… I couldn’t be more ready for a new season, a new chapter, a fresh start, and more daily structure in our routine. Michael’s preschool schedule is 3 days p/week and Thomas’s is 2 days p/week. SO! That means for two-days per week September to May I will have a total of SIX blissful hours all to myself each week. I haven’t had that since before kiddos. Six whole hours to shoot, edit, create content, run errands, schedule doctor appointments… or heck(!), take a bubble bath or even take a NAP (I was never a napper before motherhood, LOL). I’m looking forward to still having some one-on-one time carved into my week with Thomas on Wednesday mornings since Michael will be in school.

So! It’s the first day of school… I drop the boys off at 9AM… What am I up to on this fine Tuesday morning?! Whatever I want!… I have plenty of time to be productive in the days/weeks/months to come… so, this morning will likely include some relaxing “me time” and a mimosa (or two!). Cheers!

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TOMORROW is the BIG DAY, friends! In the spirit of tomorrow being the first day back-to-school for many kiddos here in Richmond… it will also be Ryan’s first day at Davenport & Co.!!! For those that have followed my blog for a while now… you know that I like to share and be open with you about my business, my personal life, my marriage, my children... all of the ups, downs, and in-betweens. I do this to connect, inspire, and engage with my readers.

Our close family and friends know that this past May, Ryan experienced his first corporate layoff. As the primary breadwinner to our family of four, this unexpected news was stressful and unsettling to say the least. Looking back on these last 3-months, I couldn’t be more proud how Ryan handled this life-changing situation. Now that today is his first day at Davenport we can share his career news with all of you! » OPEN POST »

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We survived summer 2019! Mission accomplished 👊🏻!! Mom life sure ain’t for sissies!! Can I get an amen?! Oh, there were days when the struggle was real y’all! Whew… Jesus take the wheel! But I’m forever grateful to be their Mama. Michael (3 next month😭!) and Thomas (18-months) are the breath to my life. One more week to go for us before it’s back to school next Tuesday!!

Happy Labor Day to all of you hard working Moms and Dads out there. Parenthood is hard work! Enjoy a day of fun and rest… you deserve it! Exactly one year ago on Labor Day weekend we were announcing our pregnancy (with Thomas!). This year… this is us! Just livin’ my best life over here with eye bags (work hard, play hard!), no makeup, and unwashed hair… but with a happy heart!!

This was our first kickoff to summer experience since Michael attended preschool 2 days p/ week last year. I was both excited and a bit overwhelmed at the time… what are we going to do every single day this summer?! During the school year we are all so busy! There is rarely any white space on the calendar as we’re jumping from one thing to the next… summer brought more flexibility, spontaneity, and freedom to our days. We loved having Ryan home with us all summer long… We all enjoyed having more quality family time together.

With no camps to take advantage of… we spent the entire summer together. PS… God bless the gym day care and afternoon naps, LOL! We did have somewhat of a weekly routine which definitely helped. The kiddos started to know what to expect each day. Back in May we started potty training Michael which has been interesting. Michael is so proud to a big boy!

Someone once said

Some sweet family memories from this past summer…

  • 1st family of four beach trip
  • 1st trip to the aquarium 
  • Playing in the backyard sprinkler
  • Michael’s first time fishing
  • Thomas’s first time on the jet ski
  • Michael starting potty training
  • Trips to Kings Dominion
  • Adventures to the RIVAH
  • Painting our entire downstairs of our house & garage reno!
  • Lots of snuggles! (and ear infections!)!!
  • Pool days
  • Dinosaur roars!
  • Watching my boys play together
  • Michael staying up until 10PM one night, just because!
  • Sleepover with Ryleigh (Ryan’s niece)
  • DC Zoo Dino exhibit!
  • Crab festival in RVA
  • 1st trip to the movie theatre (we saw Sing!)
  • Relaxing on the ACAC rooftop (adults only!!)
  • Momcation!
  • Date nights, birthday & graduation celebrations, bunco nights, and neighborhood gatherings!

I don’t know about you but I say… bring on Fall! A new season, a fresh start… already starting to decorate my house!!

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Book your 2019 Fall Family Mini-Session

Hi, friends!! It’s official! Today is the day… my booking site is LIVE to reserve your 2019 Fall Family Mini-Session. I look forward to these mini-sessions every year! As always, my current ASP Family clients got one-hour early access to my booking site this morning. Limited availability… so don’t walk, RUN!

I’m grateful that these timeslots sell out every year! The location will be announced two-weeks prior to your mini-session date (surrounding Richmond area). Regarding the rain dates, you must also be available for the selected time on the rain date.

The Details:

  • 20-minutes of photography coverage
  • Maximum of 5 individuals photographed
  • Digitally enhanced editing to images
  • Online gallery & print release

*** Please note: Due to the timing constraints of a mini-session, group family sessions (5+ people) are encouraged to book TWO back-to-back sessions (i.e., bring your grandparents and/or siblings along!).

I look forward to the opportunity to capture your family!

Click here

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Hi, friends! I’ve got another fun before/after reno project for you today! You may recall reading my blog post last August when my office was moved from our upstairs bedroom to the garage. It’s been my new space to tackle all things photography business and Crafty Neighbors business. Slowly taking over Ryan’s man cave, LOL! The before and after photos from that initial transition was huge and I’ve been loving my new cozy corner! I’ve spent many, many hours during preschool hours, nap time, and/or late nights in this space. Ryan is now using our computer more out there so we tag-team office hours. On days when it’s nice weather we can open up the garage door to let more light in (especially now since the pollen has calmed down!). It’s awesome!

So, this is garage reno 2.0… » OPEN POST »

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Hi, friends! Today I’m excited to share with you our latest fixer upper home makeover project… NEW PAINT!!! This week marks 7-years in our home! It was about time we stopped procrastinating and painted — we’re SO happy with the end result! Luckily, we haven’t had to do much with regards to remodeling since we moved in July 2012. Last year we tackled updating our master bedroom/bathroom with fresh paint and new furniture and we spruced up our backyard with a playset and paver patio.

This Summer, Ryan and I were both itching for a project and we agreed to tackle some painting together. The walls were looking a bit outdated and dingy with age. Throughout our entire house was this beige/taupe color… while there is certainly nothing wrong with this color as it is versatile throughout our home… it just was becoming a bit boring and dated… plus our living room was a dark, dark green that had to go! We had a contractor quote us how much it would cost to outsource the whole thing (because… toddlers!)… he told us $3,200 which included labor and supplies… So!… we decided to save the cash and do it all ourselves! Talk about an arm workout!

We started this project thinking that it would take all summer long… we weren’t really in a rush to get it done (since we procrastinated for almost 7-years now!). We were quite proud of ourselves that we tackled this project in only a few weeks and we strategically painted our entire downstairs… the downstairs foyer/hallway (and the upstairs hallway), family room, kitchen, dining room, living room, and bathroom. We figured while all the paint supplies were out… and we were motivated… that we just kept going room-by-room primarily during nap time… because paint, wet brushes, tape, and ladders do not mix with 2 toddler boys running around the house!! » OPEN POST »

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Hi Friends! If you follow me on Instagram Stories then you already know we have our first trip to the beach as a family of four. Thomas is now 15-months old and his older brother Michael is 2.5. We have made countless trips to the RIVAH over the years but this coming weekend is our first family beach getaway! 4 days, 3 nights… all of us snuggled in one hotel room! Wish us luck!!

My mom’s side of the family has a family reunion every year over July 4th weekend (close to 100+ in attendance most years!) and a gathering filled with laughs, family stories, and dancing! Tons of fun! We haven’t been back in 2-years (pre-baby!) so this is the first year we’re going with toddlers. While we’re obviously excited to see everyone!!… I was quite overwhelmed when it came to the packing list this week… SO much to bring along with 2 toddler boys in tow!! Pretty much packing all the things!! Also the stress that comes along with littles on the beach… gotta bring my A-Game! But… it’s gonna be great!

In the spirit of summer vacations upon us… I thought I’d feature a blog post on my OCD packing list in case this is helpful for YOU as you pack for your next family vaca. Now, a quick disclaimer… I’m an over-packer! You may already know this based on what I packed in my hospital bag, LOL. I tend to pack some odd-ball random things that I will likely need while I’m there so I’m ultra prepared. The key is to consolidate the packing (have everything in a bag so it’s easy to transport) and not go too overboard.

SO! I’ve put together the ultimate beach family vacation packing list (for toddlers!)… I’ve organized it into sections and included Amazon links below! Let me know if I’m missing anything! {Not photographed above… all of our food/drinks and mom/dad overnight bags.}

A few other travel tips prior to hotel check-in…

  • Call the hotel one-week in advance to confirm reservation + call day-of to request an early check-in.
  • If you’re traveling with friends/family then request for adjoining rooms! More space to move around.
  • Contact friends/family in the area of where you’re traveling to lockdown a babysitter for one of the nights — that’s what we did for this trip but not too sure how it will all go. It helps having my parents adjoining rooms with us so the babysitter can be in there while kiddos “sleep” in the other room.
  • Most hotels offer a microwave and fridge in the room… I prepped (fruit/snacks/meals) in advance and put them in ziplock bags to put in fridge at check-in.
  • Search around for fun things to do in the area — we’re going to the aquarium one morning! Michael is so excited!!
  • Take deep breaths and go into the vacation with a flexible schedule and a sense of humor! I’m fully counting on the boys waking up super early… like 5:30AM… just because it’s a new sleeping environment for them… so will be pleasantly surprised if they sleep in until 7AM!
  • Check out my Instagram Stories on how I strategically organize our hotel room upon check-in to maximize space in our room for day/nighttime + keep it baby proofed! I’m going to have Ryan take the boys to the hotel pool while I get us unpacked and settled in the room.

Packing list…

  • BOB Stroller (the Cadillac of all strollers! All-terrain tires for the sand is a must. Great for strolls on the beach, providing shade, and it reclines all the way back for naps!)
    • Waterproof picnic blanket
    • Camera/tripod – As a photographer, I’m obviously bringing this along but lots is captured on my phone since it’s what I have on me at the time. Thank goodness for the iPhone 10X’s amazing camera where I can basically shoot in manual mode!
    • Booster seat – For Thomas’s meals
    • Stroller hooks – These are seriously AMAZING!! Heavy duty and great for holding purses, backpacks, shopping bags (and anything else with a handle!)
    • Stroller cup holder – For hands-free morning coffee (and happy hour!) walks
    • Baby Bjorn – To hold Thomas so me/Ryan can be hands-free with him in the ocean/pool
    • Puddle jumpers
    • Bike lock – Great to keep attached to the stroller for when you want to lock it up and pop into a store, restaurant, coffee shop, etc.
  • Beach cart – We got ours at Costco but there is a similar one here. It holds all of our beach gear and has a cooler!
    • Pop N’ Play Playyard – To keep Thomas contained in one place and out of the sand as much as possible! You can also use a fitted sheet, a baby pool, or dig a big hole in the sand for little ones but Thomas would just crawl out of that.
    • Umbrella/screw – The sand corkscrew is a game-changer!
    • Baby float/canopy – Great for the ocean/pool for Thomas so I can be hands-free in the water
    • Beach chair – We got ours at Costco but here are similar ones. The Tommy Bahama chairs are great because they typically have straps to wear as a backpack, have pockets, a cupholder, and a built-in cooler. Yes, only bringing one beach chair — will be lucky if I actually get to sit down and relax on the beach, LOL!
    • Beach toys
    • Beach towels and hooded towels
    • Cooler – To hold all of the snacks, fruit, water, etc.! Will use the free hotel ice! Ours is from Costco and I love all of the pockets for storage!!
  • Beach Bag or you could use this amazing backpack diaper bag (went viral on my YouTube channel!)
  • BOYS:
    • Pack n’ play/sheets (for Thomas) – Hotels will often offer these but with it being a holiday weekend I didn’t want to chance it.
    • Single air mattress/sheets (for Michael) – Easy to deflate and roll-up in the morning to conserve space in the hotel room
    • White noise machines/lovies/night lights/books
    • Baby gate – Because we will have adjoining rooms with my parents
    • Potty chair (for Michael)
    • Travel medicine/aloe – I bought some Zarbee’s sleep melatonin liquid for the kiddos to help with all of us sleeping in one hotel room!
    • Baby cam – To hookup to hotel WiFi (we plan to have a sitter for 2 of the nights!)
    • Clothes/PJs/sleep sacks/shoes
  • OTHER MUST-HAVES:
    • Hitch Cargo Trailer – We love our Yukon because it’s so spacious but this cargo carrier has been a game-changer! Great for holding large items (i.e., stroller, cooler, etc.) for road trips and it helps spread out all of the luggage so it’s not stacked too high and causing blind spots in the trunk space.
    • Shower curtain tension rod/shower curtain – To provide a divider for Thomas in his pack n’ play
    • Bose/charger – My go-to speaker for on-the-go!
    • Trash bags – For dirty diapers (to keep on the hotel patio), laundry, excess trash, etc.
    • Hand sanitizer – For beach bag, diaper bag, purse, etc.!
    • Nightstand fan – Have to have a fan on me!
    • Nightlights – So we can more easily navigate the room in the dark while the kiddos (are hopefully!) asleep
    • Extension cord – For the extra needed outlets I know we’ll need!
    • iPad/case/charger – For screen time during witching hour…
    • Wine opener – Yep!
    • Plastic plates/utensils – For meals in hotel room
    • Food prep! I’m planning to make sandwiches, rinse/slice fruit, prep lunches before leaving on the vacation so everything is ready in advance

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Happy Thursday, friends! Happy Spring!! Back by popular demand… it’s launch day for MOMMY & ME MINIS!!!

Spring is so very gorgeous in Virginia! This is a great time of year to spruce up the photos in your home. Before we dive into the details… real talk?! As a fellow mom raising a 1 & 2.5 year old… our lives are busy! It’s that time of year where we’re covered in pollen, we’re tired, we feel like we’re going 1,000,000 miles p/ hour, schedules are hectic… allergy season is upon us… the idea of scheduling a photo shoot and preparing for picture day may sound a bit overwhelming to think about… I get it! But! Spring is here! You’ve conquered Spring Break and Easter… Summer is just around the corner… flowers are in bloom… it’s not yet too hot and humid out (!!), annnnnd it’s almost Mother’s Day!

It’s really the perfect time to get motivated to pull down your spring/summer clothes from the attic (I tackled this yesterday!), grab your favorite spring colors or flowey maxi dress… whatever you feel beautiful in… block off 20-minutes with me to have it be all about YOU and savor some special time and snuggles with your children! » OPEN POST »

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My sweet little Thomas is a lucky ONE! This birthday theme couldn’t be more perfect for our little lucky charm. He’s 26 pounds of joyful thumb-sucking squish… I tickle, squeeze, and smooch on those pudgy cheeks and thighs every single day. That strawberry blonde hair, that little smirk, that laugh, those blue eyes, those doughy biscuit rolls… I’m in awe of him.

One year old today… my how time flies! The nights are long but the years are oh so short. Ryan and I were quite surprised (and grateful!) to find out only 8-months after our Michael was born that I was pregnant again with Thomas. God works in mysterious ways. Michael was only 17-months old when Tommy was born (birth story here!). While raising two under two most certainly had it’s moments of pure exhaustion… In being a stay-at-home boy mom-preneur hustling two businesses… the struggle is real each and every day to find that perfect work/mom/wife/life balance. But I always knew no matter how hectic of a day, week, or month I was having… that I could count on Tommy’s smile and dimples to make it all better. He and Michael remind me on a daily basis just how lucky I am to be their Mom. Our hands and hearts have never been more full! » OPEN POST »

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