Today I found myself deep cleaning the space that was the home of our dog, Poly, in preparation for our Christmas tree. (read more about that here) I scrubbed on hands and knees the dog hair and grime from the grout lines between the stick-on floor tiles we applied in haste upon our purchase of this home in 2012.
You see, this house is as old as me, and had a floor plan and finishes to show that fact! We knew that we wanted to make big changes in the semi-near future, but I was expecting Camden, Carter was a busy toddler, and I was working full time in a physically demanding teaching position. We needed some quick, easy, and cheap facelift tactics to make our house feel more like home, pronto, so stick-on floor tiles it was! Imitation marble replaced parquet, and on we marched.
As I scrubbed I reflected, planned, and dreamed.
I have big dreams for our family, as I’m sure all do. This blog came to be as a method to help catapult some of those dreams into reality, but I’ve been stuck in a world of perfection trying to make it all come to life. Some of the functions don’t work just right. A bit of the formatting isn’t spot on. I couldn’t see investing time in something that wasn’t yet perfect. These days we’re bombarded with curated feeds on all social media outlets and it is easy to begin to think that all of the feeds really reflect the owner’s pristine every day life. Since my life is far from pristine, carving out time to share is near impossible. Scrub, scrub, scrub.
That’s when it hit me.
Who needs another perfect looking blog or social media feed? We’re all just looking for some reality. It’s the reason my lifelong friend, Kim, and I are always messaging each other with our latest story.
We’re always asking – “it isn’t just me, is it?”
We want to know that we aren’t alone.
So with that, I ditch the idea of perfection. I embrace the messiness of life, and vow to share it with you anyway. Even if the background colors of my Instagram don’t flow just so, or if there’s baby snot on my shirt. Because that’s what’s real. That’s my crazy, wonderful life.
With that, I know that sometimes it might really be just me. And I’m ok with that – I just ask for your grace in those moments, because we all need a little more of that, too.
Scrub, scrub, scrub.
Our dog, Poly, passed away in a terrible accident three weeks ago. I was at fault, making it even more traumatic. It was awful, as those of you who have lost fur babies know, and I could go on and on about it, but that isn’t what this post is about – it is only the catalyst, so for all of our sakes I’ll move on.
Poly was a great hunter. She was the master of her domain, our yard, and she loved to explore from dawn to dusk, unless it was raining or super cold. She romped in the the leaves, rolled in the dusty dirt, and even brought in the occasional “gift” of her hunted bounty. (ick) She loved us and loved people, but wasn’t a cuddler. In no way was she the lap dog we thought she’d be. She was a doer and explorer. As a family with young kids, we quickly learned that she needed her own space and needed to be able to come and go from the comfort of that space at her leisure. Enter the lovely dog door that has graced the front of our home for the last 4 years. Next came baby gates to barricade the foyer so that her toys wouldn’t be mistaken for children’s and vice versa, and so that her “sweet” gifts wouldn’t make it into the hands of a child before we noticed. She had her own little house, right in the heart of our home. How empty our foyer has felt the past three weeks! It epitomizes the hole in our hearts and I’ve been faced with the dichotomy of doing something in that space to move forward, but not wanting to feel as if moving forward somehow lessens the loss we feel.
The Christmas season is upon us and our family tradition is to put up our tree and decorations the weekend following Thanksgiving, but that didn’t happen. I’m in a slump of unfulfilled to-do lists, inaction in place of production. Sadness is in part responsible, coupled with the overwhelm of three young kids, a home, and a growing business. As Chris and I discussed a game plan, we couldn’t decide where to place our tree this year. You see, our youngest, Caleb, is just over a year old and we lovingly refer to him as the tiny terror. He can get to and destroy just about anything, and we could envision what putting out our holiday decor would lead to. No thanks.
Chris suggested the foyer as the ideal tree space this year. Easily visible from the living room. Simply barricaded by a baby gate. Emptiness and sorrow replaced with joy and hope. Isn’t that the meaning of the season, after all?
[part of the Monday for Moms blog series – small tips and tricks that will make big changes in photos of your children, parenting, or life]
It’s no secret that I think photos are really important to the family unit. Aside from documenting life and preserving memories, pictures are actually a great way to boost kids’ self esteem! (more on that here) One key point that we often miss out on, though, is actually displaying those pictures where we can see them. Not just posting to social media. Not just saving to our phone or computer’s hard drive – but actually PRINTING out those suckers and laying eyes on them each day.
When decorating with pictures, people often choose small print sizes – 5 x 7, 8 x 10, but in reality the bigger, the better. A good rule of thumb is that a face in an image displayed on the wall should be around the size of a fist. How many pieces do you have in your home that actually follow that rule? Ditch those small prints from time to time and display larger images! For most homes, this means printing at 16 x 20 or bigger.
Now, I know, rules are meant to be broken. And it’s h.a.r.d. to invest annually in larger pieces (aka Wall Art) that you’re pretty certain you’ll want to change out soon. Along with just trying to narrow down your favorites from a session, it just seems so much easier to print a bunch of smaller images! So, here’s my advice – choose a few statement images of each of your children to display at a larger size (remember the face at least the size of a fist rule). Then, print a larger canvas collage with a few of your favorite images from a session. For my home, I printed this at 16 x 20:
This gives me a larger statement piece that is the appropriate size for my walls while also helping me display several of my favorites since I couldn’t choose just one. Additionally, since I only printed one canvas, the cost was lower and I won’t feel bad changing it out with updated pictures when the time comes (and it has come. and passed. Sorry that you aren’t in any family photos on the wall yet, Caleb 😉 ). Huge shout out to Jessica Trimble for our family photos! Thanks, lady!
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[part of the Wednesday for Weddings blog series – wedding venue, vendor, decor, and idea suggestions]
My new favorite day of the year – SPA DAY for my brides and mamas of the past year! It is the perfect way for the mama of a newborn to relax, or unwind after the stress of wedding planning. Bluestone Bodyworks provided the perfect oasis to refresh before beginning a new year. Thanks to Cassy for organizing our group and the entire Bluestone team for pampering us!
You may think, “Great. Sounds fun. Why is this a Wednesday for Weddings post?” Well, let me elaborate. 🙂 Bluestone is the PERFECT place for bridal party prep! With a front porch fit for the south, several treatment rooms and a chill room for small groups, this is a wonderful space to relax and hang out with your bridal party on your big day!
Run, don’t walk! Schedule some time at Bluestone Bodyworks today! You will not regret it!
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[part of the Tuesday for Travel blog series – reviews, recommendations, and stories based on our travels and excursions]
For the past couple years, Chris and I have tried to make a point to take at least one trip a year without the kids. Although we end up missing them and talking about them constantly the whole time we’re gone, it is a good opportunity to refresh and recenter. Marriage deserves that sort of attention every now and again – especially with busy, fast paced everyday lives. Last March we took off to Charleston, South Carolina for the first time. I left my camera in the room for most of the trip because it was HOT, we were walking everywhere, and I was hugely pregnant, but brought it out for our biggest excursions.
I don’t have any photos to share of the food, but OH the food. I could have existed alone on She Crab Soup (I’m looking at you, Noisy Oyster!). We tried several places, all of which we’d recommend. Amen Street, TOAST, Noisy Oyster (their house citrus salad dressing is perfection!), Fleet Landing, Low Country Bistro (my first experience with chicken & waffles may have set the bar too high – yum!). We are serial appetizer eaters, so we typically bounce from place to place sharing small bites just to get a sample of what everyone has to offer.
We did have a true dinner one night at Hank’s Seafood and it was spectacular. We had to change rooms after dinner because ours had a water leak. In the process of moving I moved my leftovers to the mini fridge in the new room first, because they were obviously my most valuable possession at that time. Later, I opened the fridge for a snack and discovered they WERE GONE. I almost cried when I found out a housekeeper tossed them out because she thought they were leftover from the previous guest. I’m not sure it it was the pregnancy hormones or if the salmon was literally that. good.
History is kind of our gig, so a trip to Fort Sumter was a must. The boat ride over was a bit sketchy – it seriously felt like the boat was Civil War era along with the Fort remains, but we none the less enjoyed looking at the relics.
We came knowing we wanted to check out a plantation, but had no idea which one. When we found out that Boone Hall Planation was the filming site of a few scenes from The Notebook it was a no brainer!
Walking through “Slave Street” was incredibly humbling. They’ve converted these former slave quarters into a museum of sorts to document the horrors of slave living.
We LOVED Charleston. The history and food is A+++. The only downside is that it STINKS. It literally smells like a fishbowl due to the way animals decompose in the water and every time the wind blows in from the water you get a not so lovely whiff. The further from the water, the better it gets, but since we’re water dwellers we don’t want that. Our final analysis is that this is a great place to visit, but we’d never make it our home for too long. 🙂
Where should we visit on our next excursion? We love recommendations, and I love to hear from you! Comment below.
[part of the Monday for Moms blog series – small tips and tricks that will make big changes in photos of your children]
While I have nothing mind blowing for you today, I DO have a VERY important reminder.
Phones these days. They travel everywhere with us and capture every moment – from those sweet smiles at the park to the thousand selfies your 3 year old snuck while you were trying to use the bathroom with an ounce of dignity. Then – the unthinkable happens. The phone gets dropped in the water, run over by the car, you name it. Poof. Photos gone.
A few days ago I spent some time looking back through some old photos and videos of my kiddos taken on a less than advanced smart phone, but they are still the most special memories that made me “oo” and “ah” and maybe shed a tear or two. They have grown. so. fast. I can hardly believe how big they’ve gotten. So stop. Today. Backup your phone images! While they may not be the most awesome images that you want to blow up and frame on your living room wall, they are still so important to have. While you’re at it, print a few, too. You’ll be glad you did!
And just a few blasts from the past:
Spaghetti Monster Carter!
Camden, a few days new.
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It feels like we waited for.ev.er for our friends Tyler and Casey to have their first baby. When we heard Casey was expecting we were ecstatic. After spending our college years double dating with them and our “fifth-wheel” (love you, Chuck! 😉 ) dreaming about our families growing up together, finding out that they would be welcoming their first child right around the same time we welcomed our last was such sweet news.
Welcome, sweet Caroline. I cannot wait to see what life has in store for you (although becoming a part of the Hokie nation is a given).
I love to hear from you! Comment below.
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If you’ve visited my website in the past six months you are likely to have encountered an “under construction” page or a hodgepodge of half finished web pages with just enough information to barely scrape by. I’ve slowly been chugging along working on the details, but we’ve had a big year!
I know it’s been a LONG time since you’ve heard from me on here, so let me help you catch up. 🙂 In February 2016 we had a HUGE surprise. We found out we’d be welcoming a third sweet addition to our family! I managed to keep up (somehow) with family and business responsibilities in the midst of an exhausting pregnancy. I may have had an overflowing sink of dishes and laundry baskets runneth over, but everyone was fed and loved, so that’s a win in my book. 😉 August marked the start of Kindergarten for Carter, which was a big adjustment for both of us.
He is my sleeper, so we’ve encountered many a morning beginning with, “uuhhhhhhh! Just five more minutes, Mom!”
In October our sweet baby Caleb entered our lives and he has been such. a. joy. I laid low for a few months reveling in our new little love – and trying to adjust to mom life with THREE boys.
Last month, Camden started his first official ball season, so now we are bouncing two boys between two baseball fields 3-4 days a week. We know this is just a peek into what our lives have in store for the next 18 years, and the craze of it all just makes us giggle.
Nvision had a big year, too, adding a new service – birth stories – while continuing to document wedding days and growing families. I have SO much to share with you, but there will be time for that in the coming weeks. 🙂 For now, let’s leave this here –
I’m SO happy to finally announce the completion of this labor of love! It’s LAUNCH DAY! Check out the new online home of Nvision Photography!
Oh yeah – comment below and share this post on Facebook to be entered to win a complimentary one hour photography session of your choice with 5 digital files.
Thanks for your endless love and support as I chase this little dream of mine.
(Complimentary session may choose from family, maternity, senior, family, Fresh 48, or lifestyle newborn. Posed newborn is not included.)
Happy birthday to my husband, father of our crazy offspring, endless provider, Netflix binge partner, and best friend. I am amazed daily by your dedication to our family, ceaseless persistence at work and at home, and your ability to be my rock and my soft place all at once. You’ve got it all, babe.
We’re too practical to be gift givers, but I’m excited to spend the weekend celebrating your 28 years and looking forward to a lifetime more. Love you. <3
If it seems like things have been a little slow around here lately, I can assure you that the complete opposite is true! My radio silence is the result of some deep thinking, detailed planning, and exiting news!
I’m absolutely thrilled to announce Nvision’s newest service – birth stories!
Here’s a short FAQ for wondering minds. 😉
So…just what is a birth story?
A birth story is consists of photography coverage during labor and delivery – from the beginning of active labor until 1-2 hours after birth.
How does that work?
First, an expectant mother needs to discuss photography options with their care provider. Some providers may have certain restrictions (that the provider may not be directly photographed, for example) or the delivery location may have stipulations to consider (like only one support person in the operating room in the case of a c-section). Once you’ve discovered any possible guidelines or restrictions from care providers, we discuss operating within those expectations and get together and get to know one another. Since everyone has different preferences and visions for their birth story, a questionnaire allows you the opportunity to express the nitty gritty details of your photography coverage. No matter your specific preferences, your birth photographer will stay in the background during your labor and delivery and remain respectful and considerate of your birthing environment.
Since birth is an unpredictable event, my team is on call day and night during a 4 week window (typically between weeks 38 and 42 of your pregnancy). I am always the first photographer on call, but have back up in place when I’m photographing a wedding, have a familial obligation, or a personal emergency.
When should I book?
To assure each of my clients receive the best possible care and attention, I accept a limited number of births each month. Schedule as soon as possible to ensure your delivery month!
Why should I have my birth story professionally photographed?
If I am 100% honest, I have to admit that I look back on the photos of my children’s birthdays more often than my own wedding images!!! 🙂 We hire a wedding photographer without second thought – and for good reason! The day is the most important day in your life up to that point and is the marking point of the official beginning of your family. If you’re a new mom, I’d like to assure you that the birthday of your precious bundle will trump that all important wedding day….hands. down. (Repeat mammas – you know what I’m saying!!) Labor and delivery is such a mind-blowing process and it’s easy to look back and realize you’ve forgotten the details after working so hard to bring a new life into this world. The images from your birth story are awesome reminders of the sweat and tears that went into that special day. Sure, your support people could take a few snapshots for you, but they are often (and rightfully so!!) caught up in the moment and so many details are left out. Having gone through the process myself, (twice!) I know how important it is to have your partner and support people present and focused on helping and not responsible for documenting. Birth environments also have tricky lighting situations – from dim for mamma’s relaxation and focus all the way to bright spotlights for the OB during the actual delivery. Having a professional to navigate those tricky waters can make all the difference in the quality of these important memories.
Oh, and not only do I love looking back and remembering the birth stories of my children, but my kids also love looking at the images, too!
Where do you travel?
To ensure my clients the best service possible, I travel up to 1.5 hours from zip code 22827.
Have questions about birth stories? Leave a comment or email me a firstname.lastname@example.org .
I look forward to hearing from you!
Harrisonburg Birth Photographer | Charlottesville Birth Photographer | Luray Birth Photographer | Staunton Birth Photographer