Fall is in full swing! Since Facebook still enjoys reeking havoc on my images, I'm going to try to at least do a collage of my photo shoots so you can get a better idea of what the images actually look like. Here's a collage, with a few photos featured, from a recent photo session. Enjoy!
Back when we were living in Ohio, we used to dream of the day when we could go hunting for wildlife with Uncle Nick and Aunt Jenna (who are both Fisheries and Wildlife Majors from Mizzou). These people seem to find the most amazing creatures wherever they go! I had no idea Missouri even had salamanders until they started posting pictures of their adventures. That may be because I was never outside at night after a cool rain, hunting salamanders with flashlights...I mean, how was I supposed to know that's what you do?
Step one, wait until almost dark...
Step two, it must have just rained and be somewhat wet outside. Step three, grab your flashlights. Step four, assemble your crew! FYI, it helps to have an animal hunting expert on your team. In this case, I am referring to Sydney ;)
Step five, find a salamander!
You may even encounter some other wildlife on your adventure. We saw several deer when we started out (they were too far away and it was too dark to get a decent picture of them). We also saw several snails...
We saw several little frogs the size of my thumb, and we saw this big 'ol toad (Ben's favorite)...
We also saw a wooly worm, an earthworm that was at least a foot long, crickets and beetles.
And if you want super amazing pictures of the wildlife you find, you should have Nicholas March with you. This is the kind of salamander we were finding last night (small mouth salamander)...
And there you have it! How to find a salamander in 5 easy steps :)
I wanted to blog about this shoot for two reasons: 1) An ADORABLE family and 2) A new park/photo location that I LOVE. Meet the H Family!
First of all, these are the people whose home we bought here in Columbia! When we looked at the house, there was a girl's room with Sydney letters on the wall (which is also our daughter's name) and a lot of other details that made it feel like it was supposed to be our new home. Meeting them briefly at the closing, I already knew how adorable they were, so I was so excited when Michelle contacted me to take their family photos this year!
Look at Sydney's little hands in her pockets-ahhhh so cute! Not only were these girls cute, but they were amazing posers and loved the camera-a photographer's dream!
I did not even ask Sydney to put her hand under her chin, she just did it. They are both such naturals!
Hand on the hip, check! Pose, check! Be adorable, check!
Such a beautiful family!
How sweet are mom and dad???
LOVE (my favorite pic of the session)!
How stunning is Michelle?? She looks like a cartoon Disney princess. Gorgeous.
Thank you H family. Thank you for passing your beautiful home along to us. Thanks for letting me know about this awesome park. Thanks for booking me for a session so quickly after settling in here. I hope this is the first of many sessions with your beautiful family!
Several months ago, I got an email from a former high school classmate that he would be getting married in the Fall. He saw that I was moving back to Missouri, and wondered if I would be interested in photographing his wedding. I was especially excited when he told me they were getting married at the winery in Rocheport!
When September 21st finally arrived, we could not have hoped for a more beautiful day! Sunny and in the 70s, the vineyards were green and full of bright purple grapes. A perfect day for a wedding overlooking the bluffs. I first went to meet Bethany in Columbia, where she was getting ready.
What a gorgeous dress!
Her bouquet was simple, elegant and perfect.
The time came for Jeff and Bethany to have their "First Look" at the winery before the ceremony took place. We met up by an old barn next to the vineyards. Love when the groom tears up a bit :)
Bethany was a gorgeous bride!
And Jeff wasn't looking too shabby either ;)
And now it was time for the ceremony, and what a beautiful ceremony it was!
Jeff's daughter, Ryan was just as much part of the ceremony as Jeff and Bethany. She was SO adorable throughout the whole day!
Here comes the bride!
This was the part of the ceremony where Jeff, Bethany and Ryan all poured their own colors of sand into the vase to symbolize their bond as a family-SO sweet!
They did it! :)
Here are my favorites of the wedding party. The first is just a beautiful group of ladies overlooking the bluffs.
This is my favorite of the guys because I went to high school with several of them, and even grade school with one of them. This is how I remember them. I was having serious deja vu. Boys will be boys! :)
The first dance was very sweet and full of love.
Immediately followed by some serious dancing! Woo hoo!
And of course, I'm a sucker for a photo booth at a wedding reception. Love them!
Thank you, Jeff and Bethany, for having me document your special day. It was beautiful!
Well, today was the day....the day I have been both looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Though it feels like they are definitely old enough to be going to school, I still wasn't quite ready for them to go. They've been with me 24/7 for over 5 and 1/2 years, and most of that time they drive me crazy, but I sure as heck miss them today. As much as I will enjoy getting my hair done, kid free, at the salon today...and going to the grocery store, kid free.....and not being asked to get anyone a snack every 10 minutes or if we can get out all the art supplies, or God forbid, the playdough....it is very quiet here today...almost too quiet. I am anxiously awaiting their arrival home, and I hope to hear that they had a blast!
They started off the morning with breakfast, and reading cards from Grandma Vicki wishing them a great first day!
Our morning routine went remarkably smoothly this morning, especially for a first day. Luckily, the bus doesn't come to get them until close to 8am, so we aren't having to wake up too early.
The bus stop is just a 30 second walk from our house! Today they got to meet some of the other kids going to Mill Creek. One of them is even in Sydney's Kindergarten class.
As the bus pulled up, my heart filled with both excitement and sadness. I know they will have a great day. I know they are safe. I know I will miss them so much. Luckily, I will be able to volunteer in both of their classes several times a month, and we will be able to go meet them for lunch anytime we want :)
I came home after putting them on the bus, and wrote this poem for my sweet babies:
To Ben and Sydney on your 1st Day of Kindergarten:
I watched you a little bit closer today,
As you ate your breakfast, and then got dressed,
I can’t wait for you to go learn and play,
Knowing how much I have truly been blessed.
I pray for you that on this new day,
As you get out your scissors and your glue,
That you will make new friends and find your way,
And maybe even learn something new.
I know your day will be filled with fun,
With recess and lunch and art and reading,
And though your mama is a sad one,
I know you’ll be getting what you are needing.
Ben and Sydney, you have my heart,
And I’m always just a phone call away,
I’m hopeful for you in this brand new start,
Though I cried as I watched you walk away.
Onto the bus, you ran with joy,
I couldn’t believe how much you’d grown,
Even though you’re still my little girl and boy,
I will trust that I’ve taught you to be on your own.
But at the end of the day, I’ll be waiting for you,
I hope to hear that you had fun,
You have so much to learn and do,
Your school career has just begun!
Mommy and daddy are so proud, my dears,
We are sad, but we are happy too,
Don’t worry about our silly tears,
Remember how happy we are for you.
And tonight when I tuck you into bed,
I will hug you a little bit tighter still,
For you are still my babies in my head,
I love you and I always will!
It's been one week in our new home. It has definitely been a LOT of work, but it is starting to feel a little more like "home" every day, every minute even. One of my first priorities whenever we move, is to have a guest room set up for anyone who would be so kind as to come stay with us. I love having guests, and I want to make them feel as comfortable as possible. So, I'm feeling a lot happier today now that I have an almost finished guest room. As for the rest of the house.....well, we'll get to that sooner or later :)
This wall color was a very bold and different choice for me. Bold, in that it is very neutral and I am generally a color girl. The guest room is in the basement, and I wanted it to feel as light as possible. I thought it would be fun to bring colors with accessories as opposed to an entire room of a certain color. The name of this paint is called Woodrow Wilson Putty :)
I got this wall art idea from a KC photographer that I admire. She does a blog that includes all kinds of things, and this was something that really caught my eye. It's just embroidery circles (about $1.50 a piece) and you choose whatever material you want to display in them. So fun and inexpensive!
And here's our son, Ben, testing out the room. Seems to be making him sleepy :) The room even contains a real live plant (if I can keep it alive), and a corkboard for pictures of all the people that come visit. I'll be scoping out thrift stores for a bookshelf worth refurbishing, but other than that, I think the room is done. Just needs a guest. Will it be you?? :P
Ahhhh Taco Truck. It's simple. It's amazing. It's delicious. It's cheap. It's a truck parked in the alley of small town America. Very unassuming, but it is a MUST VISIT locale if you enjoy authentic Mexican street vendor food (which I ADORE). My love for this food began in 1999 when I lived in Torreon, Mexico for the summer. Don't think this is the same food you will get at Taco Bell...or even El Toro...it is the real deal. And my kids love both the food and the yummy flavored sodas :)
Ben chose Mandarina (orange soda), Sydney chose Limon (lime) and I chose Fresa (strawberry). On this day, we were meeting up with friends. There is only one place to eat: a communal wooden picnic table set under a blue umbrella, which is placed right next to the truck. The same lady cooks the food every day and each meal is cooked to order.
She is an adorable lady who hails from Guadalajara. NOTE: She only speaks Spanish (or at least very little English), but all the Spanish words for the food (with English translations) are written on the side of the truck. You can't go wrong if you say "Me des tres tacos de pollo, por favor, con cilantro y cebollas."
I had 2 chicken tacos with cilantro and onions (Mexican style), Sydney had a chicken taco as well, and Ben had a cheese quesadilla.
My friend Lina had tacos al pastor (pork tacos) and I have also had their carne asada (steak) tacos, which are all delicious. This is a picture of the pork tacos.
While you sit at the table, your kids can safely play in the alleyway next to the truck. The occasional car does drive through the alley, so make sure they stay off the main roadway. This gentleman here chipped in and helped entertain the kiddos while Lina and I enjoyed our lunch :)
And around the corner are some cute little shops, clothing from Asia, coffee shops filled with treats and pretty artwork, and more.
The taco truck is fun for all ages. Vincent especially enjoyed drinking Fresa straight from the bottle.
And he even offered la Senora help taste-testing the food :)
The moral of the story is WE LOVE TACOS!
Special thanks to my friend Lina (and her adorable crew) for coming to taco truck with me for the first time last year to check it out, and for probably my last time before I move to Missouri. I wonder if I can talk la Senora into driving her truck to Columbia? She's welcome to park in front of our new house :)
For now (until I convince her to come to Missouri with me), Directions to the Taco Truck are as follows:
Coming from Dayton, take Brandt Pike (201) north all the way to US 40. Turn right (East) until you get to 235. Turn left onto 235 (heading north) and go until you get to New Carlisle. You will turn left onto Washington Street, and the taco truck is parked directly on the left in the alleyway. You can park on the street. Tip: I would go closer to 11am or 1pm, as it can get very busy for lunchtime. Also, bring CASH, she does not take credit cards.
Meet Deborah and Hunter.
This was the very first image taken. Boom. Keeper. That rarely happens. But when you have two, young people in love with such gorgeous eyes and genuine smiles, you end up with a LOT of keepers during an hour long photo shoot!
I met Deborah through her sister Dianne, whose wedding I shot last April. Dianne's wedding was only the 2nd wedding I'd ever done, and it turned out to be a rainy day. But it was beautiful nonetheless, and I got some of my favorite shots ever from that wedding!
Now fast forward to this past February: Hunter asked Deborah to marry him :)
You can tell within about 5 minutes that they adore each other.
So, these two have known each other since childhood. Though Deborah remembers Hunter pulling her pigtails on the bus (early signs of love), they didn't start dating until they were adults.
Isn't she pretty??
Deborah says she hopes their kids have Hunter's eyes, but I'd say they can't go wrong either way.
All through the shoot, I could hear them whispering "I love you" constantly to each other. It was adorable.
You'd never know these two have been together for 5 whole years already. They are definitely still in the newly in love phase :)
And their plan is to get married on the beach in the Bahamas on August 4th (so jealous and SO wish I could tag along!)
Here's some more fun facts from the day: 1) Their power went out at their house while Hunter was covered with soap in the shower, so they had to drive 30 minutes to his parents' house to finish his shower. 2) They drove almost 2 hours so that I could do their engagement pics (super flattered!) 3) They wanted to get married on August 5th, which has a special meaning to them, but that day just happens to be a holiday in the Bahamas (what are the odds??)
Thank you, Deborah and Hunter, for letting me capture this special time in your lives. I have no doubts about you guys. You are committed, you are in love, you are truly happy, you are great friends, you are positive, and I wish you all the best! Have a GREAT time in the Bahamas! Enjoy every lovey dovey sun soaked minute of it :)
So you know how everybody's always like, "My baby's growing up so fast! I can't believe she's already (insert age here)!" Well, I never understood that phrase until this past year. Having twins and always living far from family, we felt every last minute of every day, yearning for each milestone..."I can't wait until they can sit up" or "I can't wait until they are talking" or "I can't wait until they're potty trained" and on and on. We never got to enjoy the baby phase like others seem to. The first 3 years of their lives felt more like 6. When people would say, "I can't believe they are already 3!" we would say, "Already???" Other peoples' kids seemed to grow up incredibly fast, but not ours.
But things changed when they turned 3, and we put them into preschool. At first it was only 2 days a week for 2 and 1/2 hours a day. Their first day of Preschool was in August of 2011.
Their backpacks were about bigger than they were. I don't know who was more excited for this day, them or me! They were "growing up" and getting to experience what school was going to be like. I was getting 5 whole hours that I could use every week to run errands, clean the house, take pictures or do whatever I wanted KID FREE! I would take them to school, the 2 and 1/2 hours would fly by like 5 minutes, and it was time to go get them again.
Last Fall, they began their 2nd year of Preschool (or Kindergarten Readiness). They were gonna go 5 days a week for 2 and 1/2 hours each morning. Once again, they were excited to be seeing their teachers and friends, and I was excited to be able to go to the gym again (among other things)! Ben also attended Public preschool on an IEP to work on his socialization Monday through Thursday for 2 and 1/2 hours every afternoon. As much free time as I thought I was gonna get, I didn't factor in the 2 hours every day in the car that I would be picking them up or dropping them off. Most of the time I would book a photo shoot while they were in school, so I didn't find that I was able to get a whole lot done, but I still appreciated the extra "kid free" time I was going to be getting.
And now here are my "babies" all grown up and officially graduating Preschool for the 2nd and final time.
Ask me again if my kids are growing up too fast? My answer is YES!! I wish I could freeze them in time. "Please stop growing!" I beg them every day. And knowing these are gonna be our only 2 kids, I feel this even more urgently. I'm sad that I wished their babyness away so fast. I'm sad that I wasn't able to enjoy it like other moms can. But I AM enjoying age 5 with a passion! And all I can do from now on is enjoy every year that comes that much more!
Like last year, the twins had their graduation ceremony. They sang songs and recited little poems. And Ben and Sydney were chosen to hold the flag for the whole class. I was a very proud mama :)
And as I'm watching them get their "diplomas," I can only guess that this will be their high school graduation before we know it. This year, Ben shaking his teacher's hand and receiving his graduation bear....next year, Ben shaking his Advisor's hand and accepting his PhD ;)
And now I will place my hand over my heart, "I solemnly swear to never wish away one more second of this life away because I feel like the future will be better or easier, especially when it comes to my kids."
Passion for all things photography, mother of 6 year old twins, Ben and Sydney, wife, daughter, sister, friend. Lover of old movies, anything chocolate, laughing, traveling, speaking Spanish and French, summer, the beach, camping (if s'mores are involved), and being with my friends and family.