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January 19, 2016

[part of the Tuesday for Travel blog series – reviews, recommendations, and stories based on our travels and excursions]

We’ve headed to Williamsburg for a pre-Christmas trip for the past few years.  Our primary destination has been Busch Gardens Christmastown which our young children llooovveee.  If you have small kids, plan to take the trip next Christmas!

In years passed, though, I’ve had smaller kids.  A 1.5 year old or younger.  Or, a 1.5 year old AND pregnant.  If you are fluent in mom-ese, you know that this is synonymous with tiiiiiiiiired. Like, fall over and take a nap any time of the day because you haven’t had a full nights rest in a year kind of tired.  After an evening shuffling 1 or 2 kids around a theme park and the idea of doing it again the next night kind of killed my desire to go check out anything else in Williamsburg.

BUT….this year, my kids were older!  A 4 year old and 2 year old sleep much better on a nightly basis and don’t require near as much of my physical energy as they did when they were smaller.   Thank goodness!

I finally had the gumption to explore Colonial Williamsburg all done up in it’s Christmas glory and it was pretty spectacular!  If you like history and enjoy learning traditional customs, this is a great stop for you to make next year, too!

So…I may have an undergraduate history degree but my history knowledge is at times embarrassing….not sure what this building is exactly, but it sure looked grand against that stark blue sky!

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The Christmas decor is required to be made out of natural materials that would have been found in colonial times.  I loved the way these materials were brought together to form really unique and beautiful decorations!

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Loved this primitive clothesline.

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Camden enjoyed his funny shaped/HUGE gingerbread man!

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These boys…getting themselves in trouble, like usual!! 😉

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My heart!!

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Lemons and wood shavings…who would have thought??  So pretty!

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The boys loved watching the band march through.

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And…a funny shaped tree. 😉

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Lastly, a few beautiful white horses.

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I love to hear from you! Comment below.

– Nikki

Virginia Wedding Photographer | Blacksburg Wedding Photographer | Harrisonburg Wedding Photographer | Charlottesville Wedding Photographer | Staunton Wedding Photographer | Luray Wedding Photographer

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January 18, 2016

[part of the Monday for Moms blog series – small tips and tricks that will make big changes in photos of your children]

Each year I dread the annual trip to the mall to visit Santa.  Not only do I loathe shopping + the mall, but I despise spending the unnecessary money.  And let’s just face the music.  The picture always costs at least $40 and. is. terrible. The colors. The paper. The inks. The focus.  Everything about it makes me cringe!  Can you relate???

When I found out that John from J. Ellis Photography in Harrisonburg, Virginia was offering studio sessions with Santa I was THRILLED.  Hello to correctly exposed images with accurate colors and quality print options!  Yippee! Another plus is that we were able to schedule a specific time and barely had to wait in any line.

Jessica from It’s Your Day planned and coordinated the event including cookies, candy canes, and coloring activities.  Great job guys!  Thanks for turning a dreaded obligation into a fun, efficient, and quality experience!

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Have a topic you’d like me to discuss? I love to hear from you! Comment below.

– Nikki

Virginia Photographer | Harrisonburg Photographer | Charlottesville Photographer | Staunton Photographer | Luray Photographer

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January 14, 2016

Baby M’s first time in front of my camera was while he was still inside his sweet momma’s belly. 🙂  This precious boy made his debut with a headful of hair and curiosity to boot!  He slept for about 15 minutes of his newborn session and was wide awake taking in the scenes the rest of the time.

I so enjoyed my time with this new bundle and can’t wait to watch him grow as we follow along with him his first year.  But first, let’s take some time to enjoy those sweet cheeks!

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Thank you for allowing me to capture this special time.  See you in 6 months! 🙂

– Nikki

Virginia Photographer | Harrisonburg Photographer | Charlottesville Photographer | Staunton Photographer | Luray Photographer

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January 12, 2016

New Year’s Resolutions.

Goals.

Restarts.

You know, that “all things new” and spectacular guise we place on ourselves year. after. year.

Today I’m breaking free of the Pinterest pretty act because, NO, we don’t all run perfect homes with well mannered children armed with homemade snowman decorated treats to share with their classmates at snack time.  We aren’t all able to keep well manicured homes with decor straight out of a Pottery Barn magazine.  We just can’t do it all!  We also probably can’t stick to the unrealistic expectations we set on ourselves each year to be a Pinterest worthy wife, mother, and business owner.

The good news is that we CAN choose an area in our life that is causing hardship and tackle that.  Making small improvements here and there can contribute to a landslide of good in our everyday lives.

So here’s my very ugly confession that my husband will be oh so happy to hear – he’s only been telling me this for years!! 🙂

I am a hoarder.  Not in the TLC afternoon special kind of way – our home isn’t dangerously stacked with piles of stuff – but in the way that everything could be used for something and who wants to get rid of stuff you might need next week?  I get it honest.  I come from a long line of “savers”.  Almost every Halloween or school play costume I ever wore came straight from either my mom or grandmother’s closet.  Between the two of them they seriously have everything.  All well organized and pretty – but just so. much. stuff.  That coupled with my inner elementary school teacher soul is a nightmare.  Every used coffee can or peanut butter container screams “PICK ME! KEEP ME! USE ME!” but here’s the truth of the matter – I’ll NEVER have time for all of those homemade teaching game ideas (again – darn Pinterest!).  I’ll never need 1/4 of the things I’ve accumulated thinking, “Maybe I could use this to….” or “This might be good for…”.  All it does is collect dust in boxes in my attic or take up useful storage space that could be much more functional in my home.  More than that, it gives me an antsy soul.  Creeps up on me during my most treasured times.  Creates a to-do list tally longer than minutes in a day.  The excess “stuff” within the four walls of my home only serves to clutter my mind with meaningless tasks and useless goals.  My children would much rather play a *GASP* store bought game with me than experience me stress over the desire to make them something neat I found on the internet.  And really, if I haven’t used that kitchen gadget in at least two years I don’t need to keep it.

So here’s the real un-pretty.   The dig-down-deep-hurts-to-share-this honest truth. THIS is what my office looks like right now.

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Not appealing to the eye and certainly not Pinterest worthy!  But, all that clutter and mess is the just the inner beauty of the process.  The actual clearing out, getting rid of stuff.  The stacks of things that will soon be leaving my home and heart forever. Hallelujah!  (ps- those Crayola crayon art containers the boys got as Christmas gifts aren’t a part of the junk – they are just supposed to belong in this room…somewhere…)

The time I’ve wasted saving, feebly attempting to organize and keep tidy, and stressing over unimportant things will be put to better use.  My biggest treasure – those I love – will gladly fill and make those hours joyous.

So I challenge you to begin to tackle the clutter in your life today – literal, emotional, or otherwise.  Toss out the things that are weighing you down, holding you back, and taking precious time away from the things you love most.

Let’s get rid of the trash to make more room for treasure.

This year, may my photos be Pinterest worthy, and may I give myself grace when other areas of my life are not.

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January 11, 2016

[part of the Monday for Moms blog series – small tips and tricks that will make big changes in photos of your children]

A huge deciding factor in how images of your children will look is WHERE you decide to print your images.  Lots of options exist, but many places (think pharmacies and big box stores) use really cheap inks and paper.  The machine operators also have different levels of knowledge which may cause you to get good prints one day and terrible prints the next.

My favorite consumer lab is mpix.com.  As a division of one of the professional labs I use, they use higher quality materials than many local stores and have better quality control.  They also have super fast shipping.

The only con I’ve experienced is that because of the fast shipping, occasionally quality control workers miss small defects in an order – so be sure to thoroughly check your orders upon receipt.  The amazing thing is that even if you should need to occasionally have an order reshipped to you because of an error, you’re likely to still receive it before an order from another store would have first arrived.  It’s that fast!

Happy shooting! 🙂

Have a topic you’d like me to discuss? I love to hear from you! Comment below.

– Nikki

Virginia Photographer | Harrisonburg Photographer | Charlottesville Photographer | Staunton Photographer | Luray Photographer

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January 7, 2016

I love weddings.  I love babies. More than either of those things though, I love to watch a family grow, change, and fall more in love as time goes on.  There’s nothing quite like capturing all these special milestones and truly getting to know a family through these continued interactions.

This year I had a good mix of maternity, newborn, and family sessions.  We took care of the newborns yesterday, so here are a few of my favorite maternity and family images from 2015!

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And then of course, my own little sweeties, because they are my favorite of all!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Thank you to each of my families for a great year!

– Nikki

Virginia Photographer | Harrisonburg Photographer | Charlottesville Photographer | Staunton Photographer | Luray Photographer

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January 6, 2016

If yesterday’s best of 2015 wedding images is my favorite post, this has to be my second favorite.  As I told you yesterday, being a mommy is the only dream I’ve had since I was a tiny girl.  I’ve ALWAYS been obsessed with itty bitty, squishy, snuggly, yummy smelling freshly born babies.   I guess that’s why I wanted 10 of them when I was little! 🙂

Newborn photography can be a little difficult.  As all mothers know, newborns are on their own schedule and really do not care about our plans to take their photos.  For this reason, newborn sessions are the longest session that I offer (outside of weddings & events, that is).  We need plenty of time to allow for diaper changes, impromptu feedings, and extra mommy snuggles when baby needs a little break.  I spend about 2 – 2.5 hours to capture each newborn.  My favorites from this year are below!

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Thanks for allowing me to capture this precious time.

– Nikki

Virginia Photographer | Harrisonburg Photographer | Charlottesville Photographer | Staunton Photographer | Luray Photographer
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December 29, 2015

[part of the Tuesday for Travel blog series – reviews, recommendations, and stories based on our travels and excursions]

Each year since I can remember our family has enjoyed scouting the best Christmas lights around.  A few years ago we visited Busch Gardens Christmastown for the first time and ever since the lights I see can’t begin to compare to the display in Williamsburg each year.

Each “country” in Busch Gardens is decorated according to the customs and traditions of that area and the variety along with sheer amount of decorations is astounding.  I only snapped a few pictures this year, but if you haven’t made this trip yet you should definitely add it to your travel plans next winter!

This was the best I could assemble the entire family. 🙂

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Camden checking out the purple lights in France. Purple is his “favorite color.” 🙂

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Frosty the Snowman – Camden is a little leery of large costumed figures (Santa included). 🙂

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Most rides are closed for Christmastown, but many of the children’s rides are open.  The boys enjoyed driving the planes and bumper cars.

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I love to hear from you! Comment below.

– Nikki

Virginia Wedding Photographer | Blacksburg Wedding Photographer | Harrisonburg Wedding Photographer | Charlottesville Wedding Photographer | Staunton Wedding Photographer | Luray Wedding Photographer

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December 15, 2015

[part of the Tuesday for Travel blog series – reviews, recommendations, and stories based on our travels and excursions]

Instead of shopping, we embarked on our first trip of Christmas on Black Friday.  It’s only fitting because I DEPISE shopping.  I seriously made 95% of my Christmas purchases online this year and having them delivered right to my door was amazing!

We decided that our gifting with our parents this year should be experiences instead of things.  We all have way to much stuff and any time we need/want anything, we just go get it.  Far more beneficial to us AND our children is spending time together having new experiences.  So, gift #1, a family train ride with my parents to see Santa at the North Pole. 🙂

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The boys were SO excited.  I prepped them the night before by watching The Polar Express and all day they waited for nightfall so that we could leave.

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Looks like Nini was a little excited, too! 😉

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In true Carter fashion, he examined every detail and compared the actual ride to the movie.

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Both boys enjoyed a “snowball” fight with stuffed or air filled snow balls.

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The conductor came to punch the kids’ tickets.

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The kids even got to jingle sleigh bells while singing Christmas carols.

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After riding past the North Pole and seeing it all lit up with beautiful Christmas lights, Santa boarded the train and visited with the children.

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Camden was a little leery of a strange man holding him, Santa Claus or not! 😉

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Sharing some hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookie time with Grandpa.

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Camden had to drink every last drop!

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Smooches for Daddy!

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Here’s a sip for you, too, Dad! 🙂

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The trip was enjoyed by all – especially the sugar rush from late night hot chocolate and cookies afterward! 😉

I love to hear from you! Comment below.

– Nikki

Virginia Wedding Photographer | Blacksburg Wedding Photographer | Harrisonburg Wedding Photographer | Charlottesville Wedding Photographer | Staunton Wedding Photographer | Luray Wedding Photographer

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December 7, 2015

[part of the Monday for Moms blog series – small tips and tricks that will make big changes in photos of your children]

Whoever said that a picture was worth a thousand words must not have been the mother of a two year old hurricane named Camden.

Let me paint you a little picture.

It’s Sunday morning.  The children are dressed in their best – button up shirts and ties to boot.  Both looking handsome as can be and quite grown up (which I might not have been totally been ok with…).  They’ve been practicing their recitation for the Christmas play at church for weeks.  Carter has memorized his perfectly and also knows Camden’s so that he can help him if he gets stuck.

Their turn arrives and Carter takes Camden by the hand, leads him onto the stage and begins his most perfect recitation to date.  Midway through, Camden grabs a microphone stand, pulls it over and the play director has to jump up and grab it to keep it from toppling over.  Camden then steps up to say his part, and baffled at the microphone amplification says, “Whoaaa.  This thing makes it LOUD!” and proceeds to laugh and make random noises into the microphone while Carter patiently whispers his part into his ear.  No dice, but good attempt at keeping your little brother on track, buddy!

No photo could have painted that story.  Luckily, I videoed instead. 🙂

I planned to have some photos to share with this post, but after said Hurricane Camden proceeded to roll down the center aisle rather than play his role in the Nativity scene as a camel, I wasn’t quite able to convince him to cooperate for a. single. picture.  Instead, enjoy a photo from a less-forceful-one-year-old Hurricane Camden. 😉

Wow! They’ve grown a lot in a year!

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So friends, remember to video from time to time.  Capturing your kids in live action is just as important as photographing.

– Nikki

Virginia Photographer | Harrisonburg Photographer | Charlottesville Photographer | Staunton Photographer | Luray Photographer

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