Chatbooks

In 2012, I found Instagram to be a new home for my One Day, One Photo, One Year blog posts and have never looked back.  Each year I posted to my blog, I printed a coffee style book to have a tangible product that my family could look back on.  My boys love to sit and see thier history unfold for those three years.  I am so grateful I documented it as I have been terrible about documenting anything else, to include their baby books.

When I moved over to Instagram, I was worried I would not have the same luxury of a printed product.  But that is when the folks over at Chatbooks quelched all my fears.  "Beautiful photo books, Easy, Automatic" was all I needed to hear.  The app prints a book for you after 60 Instagram entries and sends a beautiful 6x6 soft cover book right to your home.  They keep track of it all.  I do nothing except post, and pay a $6 fee for each book.  Yep.  $6.  Oh, and shipping is free.  Crazy.

The app is available over at the App Store.

Thank you Chatbooks.

xo

Throwback Thursday | The Melendez Family 2005

Over a year ago, I updated my blog from Wordpress to Squarespace.  In the process of transferring all of my work, I somehow ended up losing all of my blog entries since 2007.  Since 2007.  Ugh.  So. Hard. To. Say.  Carefully curated moments in time, both in words and images.   Gone.

Although my posts were far and few between, it was a running record of my personal life as well as my professional work.  I still have hope that the content still lives somewhere out in the ginormous world wide web and someone will be able to find it for me, but in the meantime I am grateful for the theme of #tbt, otherwise known as Throwback Thursday.   You see, with this theme, I can bring back some of my favorite shoots from the past.  They may not be my original blog posts, but at least I still have photographs stored in safe places to retrieve.  Moments in time. Captured.  And now valued even more knowing how easily things can be lost.

To start this series, I chose the Melendez family.  They were one of the first families who hired me after moving to Maryland and I loved their free spirit…four kids, kind, energetic and happy, with awesome parents.  I remember thinking I hoped to be just like their mom.  She was so relaxed, attentive and fun.  

The day of the shoot was the hottest day of the summer and it was back when "people piles" were my favorite pose.  I am sure those kids loved me when I told them to place their sweaty hot bodies on top of each other for a picture, and as polite as ever, they obliged.  Since then, my candid style has remained the same, however people piles are no longer in my bag of tricks.  

The session ended with a hose and kiddie pool.  Fun.  Energetic.  Happy.  Meet the Melendez family, sometime in the summer of 2005.

I hope to continue this series throughout the year…maybe you will see a familiar face here and there…a distant memory brought back to light...I hope you can follow along.  And remember, print and backup your moments. 

xo

a family session | the miles 2014

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Meet Kristine Miles.  One of the first times I ever remember meeting Kristine was when she was pregnant with her youngest.  Radiant and carrying so beautifully, she was always smiling and made pregnancy seem effortless.  After a few more times of seeing her, I noticed how she made others around her walk a little taller.  She always had something encouraging to say.  She is genuine.  And kind.  And she surfs.  In crazy places around the globe.  Enjoy getting to know her.  I know I have.

Q.  List a few of your boys favorite things to do….

A.  My boys enjoy time with their friends, playing sports and participating in the fun activities on the Severn River. They also love hanging out at home relaxing and playing many different types of games. We come up with the funniest games and laugh a lot.

Q.  What is your most humbling moment as a mother…

A.  When my children were born.

Q.  Who influences you as a mother?

A.  My mother influences me. She was the most amazing mother and person I have ever met.  I can't even begin to put into words how beautiful she was in ever way.

Q.  If you had more time, you would...  

A.  Spend more time talking with my family.

Q.  Best advice you have been given as a mom...

A.  You gave me the best advice Lee.  You told me to take as many photos of my children as I can, especially of their hands and feet because they grow so quickly. I love that advice. 

Q.  How did you create balance between motherhood and career? 

A.  I try to go with the flow each day and not worry too much. No matter how organized I am something unexpected comes up each day that changes my best laid plan. 

Q.  What is your beauty routine…

A.  Rest, good food, exercise, Obagi.

Q.  What is your exercise routine…

A.  I love many different types of exercise and decide each day what I'm in the mood for, whether it's running, paddle boarding, hiking, or lifting weights, etc. I do not like regular exercise routines.  I like to change things up because I get bored easily. I like my mind to exercise just as much as my body.

Q.  Something you wish you could do better as a mom….

A.  Teach my children many languages and show them more of the world.

Q.  What is your proudest moment as a mom…

A.  My proudest moment was being on the set of Fox 45 Morning New and watching my sons do the weather forecast live with Jonathan Meyers.  It was so much fun and I will never forget it. I loved every minute of it.

Q.  What is your favorite part of the day…

A.  Early morning before the world around me wakes.

Q.  What do you like to do on date nights?

A.  Our very favorite thing to do is to hang out at our house after the kids go to bed. We also enjoy going to dinner or playing sports with each other and with friends.

Q.  Raising boys is....

A.  Fun. They continually make me laugh and they are so gentle and lovable.

Q.  Favorite designers, artists, etc….

A.  I do not lock myself into favorites. My tastes continually change.

Q.  Your style…

A.  I buy what I love. I don't stick with one design or fashion theme. 

Q.  One of the hardest parts of being a mom? 

A.  Knowing my kids will be leaving the nest in a blink of an eye.

Q.  List a few things that keep you sane….

A.  Exercise, healthy eating, and reflection keep me sane, and my husband too. Also, I make it a practice to not over-commit myself or my family with too many activities.

Q.  What do you hope your children will learn about life….

A.  LOVE

happy accidents | the red dress | 2014

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Sometimes when I am working with little ones, I am moving in and out of light and this happens before I adjust my settings.  But since my high school photography teacher encouraged me once to enter a contest on one of my "happy accidents", I am often inspired to see them again here and there in my gallery.  I picture this image as an oversized large canvas, titled "The Red Dress".

a family session | The Bailey Family 2014

Meet the Bailey family.  A beautiful family both inside and out.  "Mrs. Bailey" used to be my boys teacher in elementary school.  We swore bluebirds flew out of her mouth when she spoke.  Needless to say my boys were like putty in her hands…and still are.  

Emily is a wonderful mother and I asked her if she would be willing to participate in my "That Mom" series which focuses on the mom that you aspire to be…you know the one!  She is truly so dedicated to her family and it was inspiring to spend a little time with them this month.  Enjoy getting to know her...

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List a few of your favorite things to do….

Shopping, running, cooking and eating, drinking coffee and wine, decorating our home, chit-chatting, and doing anything, and everything, as a whole family.

What is your most humbling moment as a mother….

At this point, it is the moment that each of my children was born.  Everything else in the world did not matter at all and I knew I would never be the same now that they were with us.

 Who influenced you as a mother?

My own mother’s willingness to always put her four daughters before herself has greatly shaped me as a mother.  However, I am completely surrounded by so many incredible moms. The women who influence me the most, and for whom I have endless admiration, are the mothers who spend their day keeping their family together, safe, healthy, active, happy, fed, excited, prepared, etc.  They don’t care if anyone is giving them credit and they don’t expect anything in return.  They do it because their love is unconditional and they would not have it any other way. 

You are always so generous to the neighborhood children, who inspired you…..

I had a sweet, sweet neighbor across the street growing up who treated my sisters and I like her own grandchildren.  She would keep her cabinets stocked with candy to share, invite us to help in her garden, and make us feel so special.  When my mom became a grandmother, we named her Mimi after this lovely friend. But in our neighborhood, everyone is so kind and caring to one another, especially to the children running around our yards, driveways, and houses that it is definitely contagious.

Best advice you have been given as a mom…

Don’t worry about trying to make everything perfect. It’s so much more important to stop and enjoy what is going at any given moment, because time goes way too fast.

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What is your favorite part of the day…

I have lots of favorites.  But right now, sometimes it works out that Vera wakes up, I have my special morning time with her, and she goes back down for her first nap before Henry is even awake.  Then I get him all to myself while Vera is asleep.  I feel so lucky to be able to start our days slowly.

How do you create balance between motherhood and career?

Teaching part-time creates a wonderful balance for me. After Henry was born this was the deal Mike and I came up with, and it works for us!  Summers off are a necessity, and always will be. And although during the school year it is hard for me to leave, even for a few hours of the day, it makes me appreciate my time at home that much more.

A few things that keep you sane….

Running, wine, and friends.

What is your beauty routine…

Hmm, I guess it’s more of a strategy – Do the best you can with the 10 minutes you have to try to look nice before leaving the house.

Something you wish you could do better as a mom…

I wish I could be more spontaneous. I am such a planner, but wish I could more easily put my to-do list aside and not worry about what isn’t getting checked off that day. 

What do you like to do when you have a night out on the town?

This almost never happens, which is pretty much ok with me at this point in my life.  But when we do, I love first heading to a wine bar and then off to try somewhere new and delicious for dinner.  Oh and we love, love live music.

Hardest part of being a mom?

Feeling like I cannot give each of my children every ounce of my attention. Henry does a very good job now that he has to share us with Vera, but whenever he gets upset, it is almost always a result of us needing to give his sister more attention at that moment.  That is hard for me. 

What is your exercise routine…

I love to run.  I would run everyday if I could.  For now, sometimes I only get one good, long run on the weekends, but I’ll take what I can get.  Running feels peaceful and productive at the same time.  Two birds, one stone.

 What do you hope your children will learn about life….

To always be kind and considerate of others.  That a positive attitude goes a long way. To treat each day like a gift that they should enjoy to the fullest.

What is your proudest moment as a mom…

When Henry tells me he loves and that I’m his best friend, when Vera kicks her arms and legs, grinning from ear to ear when she sees me, and when I overhear Mike telling people what a good mom he thinks I am.  Mike and I also feel so happy when we see Henry being playful, silly, and comfortable with other kids and adults.  It makes us feel like we are doing something right.

Share a favorite recipe…  

I live off of my sister’s granola recipe-

Add ½ C Olive oil

T Salt

Cinnamon

½ jar Honey (about 1 ½ C)

Mix

Add 3 C Rolled oats

4 C Mixed nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, macadamias, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds)

1 C coconut

MixFlatten on medium sized baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Bake @ 350 for 20 minutes

MIX and flatten again

Bake for another 20 minutes

Let cool for 2 hours before breaking apart

p.s.  On my next shoot with the Bailey's, I am spending more time on the interiors of their home…a home so tastefully built (by Mike) and decorated so thoughtfully (by Emily)!  Stay tuned!

larriland | 2014

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our annual trip to larriland.  a fond summer tradition.   an event that always makes the summer bucket list.  

as a parent, when you do something each year, you actually see how much your children are developing and the independence they are acquiring.  the days of carrying one on your hip, while helping another, with a box of fresh picked berries so that it doesn't spill, are long gone.  they run to the fields and get lost in the maze of fruit.  only giggles are heard above the rows of plantings as they eat, toss and collect their fruitful earnings.  

each year, i follow along with my camera to document the outing.  it gets harder and harder as they are more aware of the camera.  i try to be more strategic with a bigger lens so that i don't invade their preteen/teenage space.   but i did have them pose at the top of the hill to get one group shot.  then i tried one of my photographer tricks and asked them to run down the hill.  without missing a beat, all of them, began their exaggerated runs.  this is what children of a photographer looks like.  mocking me along the way.  awesome.

round bay teen camp | 2014


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our community has hosted a beach camp for the neighborhood kids for years.  a co-op run laid back gathering of neighbors who meet at the community beach for a couple of hours 3 days a week during the month of July.  each parent takes a day and plans an activity from popsicle stick frames and photos, to painting river rocks to messy art days, seining, fishing and crabbing, scavenger hunts, kick ball games, candle making, etc.  the cost is minimal, $30 per child.  under $100 for my three boys to participate.  a camp fee hard to find these days.  

last year, jill galloway noticed a group of kids who would soon be "graduating" (usually around 12 years old) out of beach camp.  but these kids were still looking for activities to do and a place to gather.  she decided to create a "teen camp" for those kids who were entering 7th grade.  they would meet on fridays and do an activity.  it was a raving success!  and she continued it again this year with the help of her husband and children.

this year, the teens met to plant red buds around the community, an idea sparked from a willow tree that was planted at our main beach by jill's mother in law for her son.  the tree now serves as a landmark to many boaters and residents as she waves her beautiful branches all year long.  

the teens also built a osprey nest for our local winged friends.  on the another friday they built trebuchet's, a catapult that is used to hurl stones (or tennis balls!).  they began with a diagram, all the pre-cut pieces (thanks to mr. galloway), a drill and a team.  then they had a competition to see whose ball would launch the farthest.  the girls won.

each week, the camp grew larger.  word was spreading that this was a place to be on fridays for this sleepy teenage group.  on the last day, it was the annual cardboard box regatta.  cardboard was collected, duck tape, box cutters and oars.  the rules:  build a boat out of cardboard, drive it around the bouy and make it back to the beach.  winners were selected based on three categories, 1.  speed boat award, 2.  titanic award, 3.  designers award.  as the rain began to fall, we ordered our snowballs, and headed to the beach to watch the races.  

all in all, the teen camp was good old wholesome fun.  like the days before technology.  i am grateful for the galloways.  for the smiles they placed on these teens faces each week and for their continued effort to make this place a wonderful place to raise our children.  thank you galloways.