where stories are told
9/10/2020 0 Comments
I'm getting a little sappy, a little sentimental. I feel like the summer has flown by. Do I say that every year? Is it something crazy that happens in your 30's where life begins to go at super-sonic speed?
This summer has looked so drastically different for us... and I'm sure it has for ya'll too. While there is a big part of me that sad, I guess hindsight is 20/20 and I'm seeing things in a little bit of a different light now that we are entering the fall season. We've spent all of our time together and I will never, ever regret that.
You see, I look forward to summer every year. I get so excited. I usually have the kids make a "summer bucket list" and we check their items off one by one. Not only that, but we buy season passes to Busch Gardens and Water Country and we visit the theme parks weekly- even in the blistering heat! We love it!
But other items include beach days, zoo days, aquarium days, the summer reading challenge at the library, lazy days, walking around Colonial Williamsburg, picnics at the park, splashing around at the Botanical Gardens and walking "the long trail", kayaking, swimming, hiking at the state park, shell hunting, and visiting local ice cream shops.
I try to jam pack all the fun I possibly can into our summer. They've worked so hard at school and I've missed hanging out with them, so I plan as much family time and family activities as possible. Sadly, we've only been able to do a few of those things. We've spent a lot of time at the beach, riding bikes, and having those lazy days.
It seems only fitting though that we say farewell in such a sweet way, right? We visited the iconic Lolly's Creamery near the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach. We took in the artwork of the vibe district, ate delicious ice cream, and let the salty ocean breeze whip through our hair.
I love supporting local small businesses and it doesn't get much more local than Lolly's. They handmake their ice cream and come up with the most delicious flavors! This evening, we enjoyed Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookie Monster, and their limited edition Blueberry Lemon bar (which may have been the best ice cream flavor I've ever tasted in my whole life!!).
For a few minutes we experienced something that almost felt normal. Ice cream on a summer evening. Sticky kids sitting at a picnic table, stealing bites of each other's ice cream, smelling the "beach" smell, the setting sun...for a few minutes the pandemic didn't exist and we felt normal. That just doesn't happen much these days- and that's priceless.
Visit Lolly's at 414 Virginia Beach Blvd. in Virginia Beach, near 17th Street Surf Shop. Here's Lolly's website if you want to check it out.
1/23/2020 0 Comments
Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing the Hartness family. But in order to tell you about their session, we need to go back to the beginning...way back to our time in East Tennessee.
This family was one of my very first clients. So new in fact, I would call Meggie to bring herself and her little girl over when I needed to practice some new skills. She even helped me out taking pictures of my middle guy when he was just a little baby!
We became fast friends and kept in touch throughout the years and through 2 PCS's ( for you non-military affiliated folks, that means that our family moved due to military orders).
Fast forward to a few weeks ago...
Her husband contacted me and said he was putting together a little surprise for Meggie and wanted me in on it. He said that he wanted to surprise her with a quick family vacation and as a double surprise- have me photograph it! Of course I was on board. How could I not be? Do you know how hard it was for me not to send Meggie a message and just SCREAM at her that I would see her again soon? And that we would get to meet each other's 3rd babies that we had only seen via social media? And that our big kids that were toddler playmates would get to reunite?
It was hard. You get the point. It was like word vomit. I needed to tell her and talk to her about it. But I kept quiet and patiently waited until about a week before their session and finally her husband caved and told her the whole plan. After all, they were about to drive approximately 530 miles with their 3 kids.
And so he told her (he received much fanfare for being the best ever and giving their family an awesome gift! **hint, hint husbands of the world-- here's a surefire way to make her swoon!**) and they began their journey to Norfolk, Virginia where we met early in the morning for delicious coffee and hot cocoa. I followed them around for the morning and captured fun memories of them exploring a new city. We ended our day with a visit to our favorite park to explore our favorite marsh and play at our favorite playground.
I think the session served a few purposes:
1. It was a fantastic excuse to see each other, hug her neck, and catch up with an old friend.
2. It gave them updated family portraits.
3. It allowed them a spur of the moment getaway where they were able to spend quality time together as a family.
4. Beyond updated family portraits, it gave them the opportunity to have a physical representation of their love and connection with each other. The images serve as a reminder to them, each and every day, of how much they love each other.
5. They now have the best souvenir ever of their time in Norfolk.
When I was a kid, I always could mark the nearing of Christmas when we began to gather supplies to pack in shoe boxes to send across the world via Operation Christmas Child. Our whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, everyone!) planned their boxes seemingly all year round, always picking up things here and their for shoe boxes. School starts after Labor Day in our part of Virginia, so this year, we spent our last day of summer gathering and prepping our boxes for their journey to a special child. The kids were so excited to pack their boxes and were so happy and were filled with joy to know that they would be helping some child, some where out there, have a brighter day. It's a special memory for me, so I wanted to document the day with our own kids. I hope that they will continue to enjoy giving and find joy in serving others.
We packed the following in our boxes:
I saw the idea for the tic tac toe bags on Pinterest from a blog called Suburbia Unwrapped. She used paint markers for her muslin/canvas bags, but I chose to use acrylic paint that I already had at home. I simply cut a piece of craft foam to go inside of the bag so that the paint wouldn't bleed through. I painted the board on the bag and instead of doing X's and O's, I opted for 2 different colored stones. I could make 4 tic tac toe boards for $2 total. They are so cute and fun! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some behind the scenes of the game and packing our boxes!
The wooden peg dolls/Waldorf dolls I ordered unfinished from Amazon. I painted them here at home. I ordered a case of 50 dolls. I am separating them into groups of 10. I plan on giving each of my children a set under the Christmas tree as well. They have had lots of Waldorf inspired toys over the years (and are you surprised that they still play with them? I'm not!) and I think that they will love these to play with. I chose to paint them in a rainbow of colors because I think their little imaginations will be sparked by the simplicity of them and they can pretend that they are whoever they want them to be!
We had so much fun packing our boxes and I'm glad I busted out the camera for just a few seconds to document these little hands doing mighty work. If you are interested in packing boxes to send to children who may not receive presents otherwise during the Christmas season, check out Hobby Lobby. They usually have Operation Christmas Child boxes there you can pick up, also some local churches have them as well. Pinterest is filled with great resources on what to pack and how to pack to maximize space in the boxes. I'd love to hear what you put in yours or other fun ideas!
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.
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