Spreading Some Love

A couple of weeks ago, I had a mother daughter photo session with Dottie Beasley. A friend of mine told me about a “pay it forward” payment plan Dottie recently started offering, and after reading about it and Dottie’s bio on her site, I just had to reach out to her. I knew instantly that Dottie was someone I would want to be around, so I emailed her, asked her to be friends and booked a photo session.

Her “pay it forward” plan is simple. You book a session, do something nice for someone (anything!), take a picture of you and said person, send Dottie the pic with a few sentences describing your “pay it forward” experience and voila! Your photo session is paid in full! Isn’t that incredible? It’s Dottie’s way of spreading love around and making this crazy world we live in a happier place. It’s genius and beautiful.

For my “pay it forward” fee I decided to treat some new friends of mine. You can read about my story here, but to sum it up, I wanted to let my new “mom friends” in my life know I appreciate them. They have given me support, company, sanity and a lot of laughs over the last several months and I am oh so so thankful for them!!! New moms, trust me, you need a great group of Moms in your life.

And, NOW I can share the outcome of my photo session! I love them and I cannot thank Dottie enough for capturing such beautiful candid moments between me and Luna. We literally just danced, sang and played in one of Nashville’s coolest coffee shops, Atmalogy, while she snapped away. Here are some of my favs.

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Romper from Rags to Raches

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Dottie says she wants to take photos of us that hold up a mirror and say ‘Look! You’re awesome! You’re beautiful! And you are loved’. Well, Dottie, that is exactly how these photos make me feel. Thank you for doing what you do and spreading love around as you do it! People like you make this world a happier place.

For any of you locals looking for a photographer, I highly recommend Dottie and suggest you check out her work here and here and here!

Cheers!

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have mothered, longed to mother or helped mother others. You are heroes!

The Third Edition of Annual Friend Photos

Welp, another year has come and gone, meaning another year of “annual friend photos” has taken place. Remember those stunning photos my BFF’s and I took last year? And the year before? We take a group photo each year to 1) make sure we always get together at least once a year, 2) commemorate our time together, and 3) watch our families grow, and grow and grow. We actually took this year’s photos over Thanksgiving break, but because I am SO behind in life, I’m just getting around to sharing them.

That's one BIG group
That’s one BIG group

The amazing, talented, sweet, loving and life-saving Simone from ST Photography took our photos again this year. To be honest, we originally scheduled with another photographer (simply because we planned to get a new photographer each year, just as part of the tradition). However, at the last minute lots of things went wrong (no one’s fault) and our session with our new photographer got canceled. I had very limited time left in Texas, and we were all certain the annual photos were not going to happen. Enter Simone. She literally rearranged her schedule to fit us in, never rushed us, was incredibly patient and somehow managed to get 5 sessions squeezed into one hour before the sunset. ALL with 6 very active kids! It was nothing short of miraculous. Maybe we should call her Saint Simone?

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BFF's
BFF’s

God, my friends are beautiful, inside and out.

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Annddd then, there are the family photos.

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It’s magical. Photographers are magicians. Thank you, Simone for giving us these bits of magic to cherish forever and ever.

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Cheers!

New Friend Friday: Meet Simone

I’m so happy to introduce you (or re-introduce you) to my friend Simone. I’ve talked about Simone from ST Photography a few times on here. She took our 2nd annual Friend Photos, our extended family photos and our very first family-of-three photos. I also went to high school with Simone and we were even in the same youth group for a few years. It’s so cool that over ten years later we can keep in touch through social media and even catch up when I go back to Texas and have her take our photos. Simone is much much more than a photographer and tonight I get to share her story with you!

Meet my friend Simone: (and I’ll sprinkle some of her awesome photos throughout her interview too!)

Simone with her two beautiful girls.
Simone with her two beautiful girls.

Tell us a little about yourself…

Well, I am a wife, mother, photographer, hydraulic sales assistant, and beach body coach. Wow, I’d like to see all that on a business card! I love big families, all out belly laughs, simple moments that should never be forgotten, beautiful light, polka dots, baby toes, soft smiles, baby feet in cake, selfies with my babies, being on the golf course with my love. I have three tiny humans, 7, 5 and 3, who give me more joy and a messier house than I ever imaged! I have also been married to my best friend for the past 9 years. I love to tell people about how he took me to my highschool prom.
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You have multiple jobs and multiple kids…how on Earth do you manage to juggle so many responsibilities without totally losing it? What’s your secret?
I love Sonic Tea. Ha! The Beach Body coach in me should tell you to run away from the sweet tea, but hey, I am an imperfect person and strive to be completely honest! But for real, I have the best most supportive husband in the world. Our life is crazy and not perfect in any way but I couldn’t do it without him. We have had a crazy ride in our 9 years of marriage and we always have remained thankful. I guess that is how I keep going, in the midst of the crazy, I am thankful for what the Lord has provided me and look forward to the future…..and hit up Sonic happy hour every chance I get.
When did you get into photography and why?
I have always loved photography. My aunt gave me my first camera, a Nikon SLR, when I graduated high school. It went everywhere I did and I still have it. In college I took some art classes which furthered my love for capturing the moment. I got a C (I am not an artist!) but it helped me grow artistically. I started professionally taking pictures 6 years ago.
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What inspires you?
I am inspired by artists who started with nothing and now are my role models. I am inspired by woman who stay at home day in and day out and are an example of grace and Godliness while doing a million thankless things for their families all day. I am inspired by the future and what it can hold for me and my family.
Tips for Moms who plan on getting professional photos of their families?
Two things. One, find a photographer you trust and can connect with. It makes all the difference! Look over their work, ask questions before the day and make sure both you and the photographer know what you are looking for. Secondly, have fun with it! What does your family like to do? Who are you? Try to incorporate that in your family pictures. Play with your kids at the session and don’t worry about trying to get that perfect shot. If you keep your cool and stay relaxed the real moments will come and I guarantee you will have moments of love, happiness and joy.
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Favorite workout or workout move? How has becoming a Beachbody Coach changed you/your life?
I LOVE T25. It was my first program and still a favorite. I don’t know anyone who has not seen amazing results from this program. For me, being a BB Coach has been amazing. Not only do I get to help others live a healthy, active life, but I am pushing myself to do the same. I have literally sat at my desk and cried over messages from people so excited about achieving goals. I helped them. Nothing beats that moment.
How do you handle anxiety?
I would love to give some amazing secret miracle to anxiety, but honestly I don’t have one. We did talk about Sonic happy hour already, right?? Honestly, I am a worrier. I don’t let things go. So in order to sleep at night I talk it out with two very special ladies in my life. They listen, give advise and support. 
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Funny memory from photo session.
Oh! This one is pretty recent, but I loved it. About a month ago a super sweet family brought frogs to their session. Yep, frogs. And we had frog racing on a picnic table. It was one of the funnest moments I have ever had! And goes back to what I was saying earlier….who are you? what does your family do? For this family, having their boys play with frogs was perfect. It was their life. I loved that.
Something you want readers to know about you?
I genuinely care for each and every family I come in contact with. I love watching their families grow. I am happy with them in their joys and have cried and prayed for them in times of need. I think it’s why I have such a hard time saying no sometimes – I want to be there for everyone because I care about them.
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Best beauty product?
This is totally not my specialty, but I do love MilkShake leave in conditioner! Its awesome with Texas humidity and my girls love that it smells like cookies.
Most common color in your closet?
Mint / Teal. I am a little in love with that color right now!
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Most embarrassing song in iPod?
Oh goodness, I would say the Grey’s Anatomy Season 1 soundtrack. I love it!
Finish this sentence: My dream vacation would….
A cabin somewhere near the mountains. Somewhere we could play golf, enjoy nature, roast s’mores and end the endings playing board games with the kids. And of course get some updated family pictures in the beautiful scenery!
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To find out more about Simone you can follow her on Facebook or check out her photography blog!
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Cheers!

A Quality Photographer Can Make All the Difference

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While in Texas I was lucky enough to have Simone from ST Photography take photos of my little Luna. I do not have her edited photos yet, but I have to share our experience with you. Photographers seem to be a dime a dozen these days. Everyone (myself included) has a fancy camera to play with and half of these fancy camera owners have started their own photography business. In some ways, this is great because we have so many options, locations, prices and people to choose from when having photos taken. However, it’s often hard to know who has not only professional quality, but a professional work-style. Trust me, it’s no fun to pay for crappy pictures.

Here’s how our photos session in Texas went… First of all, Simone asked us to take photos in a field of wildflowers because everything was in bloom and beautiful. She knew exactly where to go and knew I’d love to have baby photos taken. I follow her on Facebook so I know she is always driving around searching for the perfect locations and excited to try new places and ideas, so I trusted her opinion.

the field, so simple yet so perfect
the field, so simple yet so perfect

Of course, as soon as we were all dressed and ready the bottom fell out and we all assumed we would have to cancel the session. Immediately, I received a phone call from Simone. She was not only willing to reschedule for another day (which would have been sometimes this summer), but she was also willing to play it by ear and work with us and the weather. Luckily, it stopped storming after an hour or so. It was almost sunset and I was sure that it was too late and too wet to go through with the photos, but when I called Simone she immediately left her home and her family to drive out and meet us just before the sunset. It was rushed and a little muddy, but she made it work.

All dressed and ready before the rain started.
All dressed and ready before the rain started.

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Luna was a happy smiley baby when we woke her up and dressed her for photos, but almost 2 hours later I was certain she’d turn into a fussy grumpy baby. Not long after lying her down with the flowers she began to whine and was on the verge of tears when Simone instantly picked her up and soothed her. She hugged and loved on her until she was happy again. This happened a few times and we were somehow able to get through the entire session with no tears. I kept waiting for a meltdown, but Simone was like the baby whisperer. I only wish she drove home with us afterwards!

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She’s not only good with babies, but she can tell adults what to do also! I need someone to give me direction and Simone isn’t afraid to say, “look this way…put your hand here…fix that wild hair…etc”.  Clearly, Simone is a pro and I am so glad I can use her for family photos when we are in Texas. I cannot wait to see how all the pictures turned out, but until then here’s a little spoiler!

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If you live in Southeast Texas and need photos taken for any event I highly recommend Simone from ST Photography.If you do not live near her, then I suggest searching for a photographer with a website and a Facebook page with lots of updates, comments and followers. It will give you the best idea of how they work.

Thanks Simone!

Cheers!

 

 

Annual Friend and Family Photos

Last year, some of my closest friends and I decided to take “Friend Photos”. We rarely have the opportunity for all 4 of us to get together, and often forget to snap a photo during those rare times. Life seems to be flying by for all of us and changing as each week passes, so we want to capture our times together at least once a year. The photos from last year turned out so great that we decided to make this our new annual tradition.

Our sample photo
Our sample photo

I haven’t actually got the nice edited photos yet, but I did get a couple of teaser pics to share from Facebook! ST Photography did our photos, and I CANNOT wait to see how they all turned out! Simone, the photographer, was so patient and so good with the kids! All of our families are growing, which means our photos are going to start getting more complicated and a little more wild each year. It took a couple of hours to get all of our group and family photos done, but I know it will be worth it.

Husband and I took turns snapping a few candid and behind the scenes shots while Simone did the real work.

Telling us how to pose and making sure we look good.
Telling us how to pose and making sure we look good.

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The two baby bumps!
The two baby bumps!

Halfway through our photo session we found a corral and decided it was the perfect place to round-up the kids. “Run around! Pretend to be a horse! Giddy up!” It worked for about two minutes.

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One happy mommy
One happy mommy

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Because friend photos weren’t enough activity for one day, I also took family photos with ST Photography on the same day! It was actually fun to do two photo shoots, and I of course had to do a “costume change” between the two. Here’s a Facebook teaser from the family session.

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During this particular photo we had a little, well a big, guest sneak in for a photobomb…

Photobomb shot from the back of the camera!
Photobomb shot from the back of the camera!

The horse was actually trying to pull the sunglasses from my Dad’s back pocket and then decided to get a little taste of each of us. I think he just wanted his 15 minutes of fame.

Of course, we have some more behind the scenes photos from this session too.

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We were doing our best to get Micah to smile.
We were doing our best to get Micah to smile.
Daddy/Daughters shot
Daddy/Daughters shot

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It won’t be long until I get the fancy professional photos from Simone, can’t wait! Thanks so much for ST Photography for putting up with us for so long and capturing our families during the holidays.

Does your family take annual photos? Have you ever done friend photos? It’s a tradition I’m glad we started. It isn’t easy for all of us to get together, set up a time for photos, dress-up and make it work, but it really is worth it.

Cheers!

 

Bridal Portraits!

Yay! I am officially married!!!! Well not as I write this, but if you are reading it then I am definitely married! Woohoo! To celebrate via blog I would like to FINALLY share my bridal portraits with you.

I had the most wonderful photographer, Jeff Guy, take my photos. We took them where I grew up (small town Texas) because I really wanted a little bit of home involved in my wedding, especially since the wedding is so far from home. Fiance and I came up with the idea to take the pictures in some really casual, fun, hometown places. We loved the contrast between a fancy wedding dress, and something old, and maybe even a little dirty! I pitched this idea to Jeff, who loved it, and he gave us some even better ideas.

The weekend I went home to take the pictures was the same weekend as my lingerie shower, bachelorette party, and dress fitting. Needless to say, it was a crazy hectic weekend. We actually had to get up at the crack of dawn to have time to take pictures. So thank you thank you thank you to the very nice girl who did my hair (and was very pregnant!), and a special thank you to Jeff*. You are truly talented. I mean seriously…you make me look good!

taken at a Catholic church in my neighborhood (actually the church of one of my best friend’s)

a blueberry patch in front of the church, we kept waiting for someone to yell at me for sitting in them…
The street in front of my Mom’s dress shop, which also runs through the middle of town. (That’s her car in the background.)
The town’s Dairy Queen, one of our fav hangouts in high school. Also owned by one of my best friend’s Mother.

STARBUCKS! Obviously.

The steps of the Julie Roger’s Theatre, where I had my dance recitals growing up.

I love them, and I am so excited to finally share them! Yay me!

Cheers!

*Jeff is actually my cousin, but even if we weren’t related, he would be my first choice. Can’t wait to have another reason to take pics, Jeff!