Monday Confessions, Recipe Round up

This winter has had me inside cooking a ton. It has led me to some great recipes so I thought I would share a few hits here on the blog today. I have even crowd sourced recipes on Facebook and dinner ideas, so I thought I might share some too. I also am starting a bit of an eating change (let’s not call it a diet) for a bit to see if I can get my body to change and feel better. Many of you that have followed me know that I have wrestled with sleep issues for quite some time, so I’m hoping it might help with that as well. None of these are necessarily diet friendly but they are all family friendly!

Super easy Tortellini Soup: Delicious, easy and budget friendly ingredients, especially at Aldi.

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Shauna Niequist’s Berry Crisp: This is delicious and clean eating if you’re on a plan. Can be a great breakfast with greek yogurt or a nice light dessert.

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Ayesha Curry’s One Hour Bread: Bread intimidates me, yet this one was simple and delicious. It was actually simple enough that my 9-yr old daughter helped me make it!

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie: This is a yummy dinner crowd pleaser and even easier with left over rotisserie chicken and pre-made pie shells. It feels like you worked for hours for this hearty dinner but it’s easy as can be.

Paula Deen’s Shepherd’s Pie: This has been a winter favorite of our family for years. It’s especially easy when you have any left over mashed potatoes from another meal or ground beef you need to cook up.

Pot Roast Hand Pies: These are my 9yr old son’s absolute favorite. They’re meant to use up left over roast beef but I actually made them last week with left over taco meat and made it more like a little cheese burger. Again, if you have pre-made pie shells in the fridge, these are a breeze and kids like to help cut out the dough circles for each hand pie. I serve with a veggie on the side and wa-la!

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Joanna Gaines Chocolate Chip Cookies; Self explanatory deliciousness! No diets here :)

Here’s to having a great week and let me know if you decide to try any of the recipes I shared!



Monday Confessions, 5 things to stop doing in order to produce more Joy!

I don’t know about you friends, but January usually finds me trying to slow down and take stock a bit about what’s important. It’s sometimes a forced change in pace. The winter weather keeps us in, the hustle of the holidays are over and things are just generally slower for me in business. I need this “reset” so badly but I also find myself resisting it. So, instead of resolutions of things I need to start, I’ve actually been thinking about some things that I know I need to stop doing in order to allow for more joy in my days!

Listen friends, I am taking this advice as much as I am giving it. I’ve been wrestling with chronic stress and insomnia (see also “Mommy Burnout” by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler) so these are things I need to stop as much as anyone to gain fresh joy and perspective in my life, as well as my health.

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

1. Stop over scheduling: This seems self explanatory but we all need to take a good look at our schedules, especially as we head into spring and a new season. Don’t try to jam in too many things for yourself or your family. Kids need margin too. They need free play and even, boredom. I know how much it causes me to get frazzled when I am rushing everyone around and nothing puts disappointment on a kids face like telling him he has to rush off somewhere instead of getting to play outside with friends/siblings.

“Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to over schedule, over inform, overprovide.” - Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

2. Stop Comparing: We all know the saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and yet so many of us live constantly trying to see how we measure up. I think this affects each of us differently, but it can be everything from body image, to clothing style to our home or kids…It is any area of life that we find ourselves comparing and lacking. Don’t do this to yourself. If you find yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself why?

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -G. K. Chesterton

3. Stop wasting too much time on internet: See above about the comparing issue….so much of this springs from our internet culture. We don’t all need to know what the housewife in Wisconsin is baking or decorating or wearing today. It’s not that all these things are bad things, but it’s just that it takes up time and mental space that you could devote to other things in your days. Set a timer if you need to or remove apps from your phone. A big help is turning off notifications so that you aren’t getting dinged constantly and beckoned to come look at your phone. I promise more days with less internet will bring your heart joy.

“Deep breath. Are we all inhaling intoxicating Pinterest fumes? An oxygenated reality? And if so, can we call it true inspiration? The definition of inspiration is the drawing of breath, an inhalation, a gasp. A filling-up that offers an abundance of energy for your day, for the task, for that project, for this life.”

- Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

4. Stop acting like you don’t have power to change: I heard a podcast the other day talking about maintaining a family’s schedule and the interviewer said, “it feels more like the family schedule controls me than I control it.” I do understand this feeling for sure, but a question arose while I listened. Are we not in control of what we choose to fill our lives with? We truly do have the power to change things if they aren’t working for our lives or families. If nothing else, America is certainly the land of choice. We have options about schools, jobs, foods, etc. We can change things that aren’t working. Does that mean it’s easy? No, it most likely won’t be easy. I can revisit a lot of feelings from early last year when we contemplated moving…it was by FAR not easy and 2018 was the year that tried to kill me, but now sitting on the other side of that journey in our new home, I can see it was worth the huge change. This idea of the power to change can apply to all kinds of habits, from our health to our housework, so don’t be afraid and start small! One small change can lead to big differences over time.

5. Stop with the frantic: I know all these suggestions here are like a spiderweb that all connects at this point, which they do. This frantic part though, it’s not just a pace but the frantic part is a mind set. Frantic has you thinking, “when your mind has to work seven steps ahead instead of just being where you are, because this deadline’s coming, and the laundry has to get done before that trip, because you can’t forget to pack snowpants for school, and you need to beg for more time on this project. Again…Good things like efficiency and multi-tasking go off the rails so far that sometimes I find myself running in my own house, shuttling things from room to room like my life is a timed obstacle course. This is insane.” (excerpt from Shauna Niequist, Stop Hustling and Get Your Life Back).

I find myself getting like this all the time, worrying about everything from big decisions like education all the way down to what is for dinner. It’s not like we can escape a lot of these parts of life, but we can make room for more slow time and quiet. It’s the opposite of what culture teaches us constantly, which is to dominate, to hustle, and to succeed at all costs. Sometimes “success” needs to just being to slow down and play with our preschooler on the floor. Our souls need a lot more of that type of interaction than the constant hustle. As I am exploring my serious need for rest and a change of pace, this is not only a preference issue but an absolute necessity for me. I need to change out of the frantic if I am going to find health again.

I hope you hear my heart on this Monday morning, we are in it tougher. What are some things you need to STOP doing in order to create more joy in your days?



Monday Confessions, 2019

Maybe you were like me and were waking up to the first Monday of 2019 with calendars and to-do’s swimming in your head or maybe you too just need the reminder of the sunrise. I was letting the thoughts swirl and then I looked out my window to see this sunrise. It’s a reminder to me that a fresh day is dawning, full of new mercies.

“Anxiety is an expensive habit. Of course, it might be worth the cost if it worked. But it doesn’t. Our frets are futile. Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease. God leads us. God will do the right thing at the right time. And what a difference that makes.” ~Max Lucado

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So as we have new beginnings for the year and for the day, just remember the creator of it all is here with us. We can set goals or make changes, but he’s meeting us with grace all along the way.

Monday Confessions, a few favorite things

December is in full swing and it got me thinking about a few of my favorite things I’ve been loving lately. I thought this is the perfect spot to share, not necessarily as a gift inspiration but maybe as some ideas of things that might encourage you in this hectic but sweet season.

Here’s what I am loving…

  1. Our new home. It has started taking shape as a place that we not only live our daily lives but we are starting to make memories. It’s been a CRAZY year for us in 2018 with making the decision to move, but finally being in our new home and settling in for the holiday season has been sweet.

  2. Come Let us Adore Him devotional from Paul David Tripp. This book has a reading for each day of the month, allowing us to focus on one aspect of the advent season. It also has a bible tie in and a central idea if you want to chat about it with your kids. I am first to be distracted by all the “to-do’s” of the season and daily life busyness, but this is helping me to remember the big picture of Jesus coming to earth in flesh.

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3. Simple Addiction Leggings are amazing. If you are/were a Lularoe fan but no longer have a local rep, these are an amazing and affordable, very similar option. I love the plain black but I do have a fun holiday pair as well.

4. LIIFT 4 Workouts are also a new favorite. I am beginning week 3 of the plan this week and it has challenged me but is getting me back into a good routine. It’s 4 workouts each week and none of them are more than 40 minutes. It’s a combo of lifting and hiit, which is my favorite combo. (Remind me I said that when I get done this post and have to head to the basement for my workout!)

5. Dunkin Donuts coffee is always a favorite of mine and right now if you have the app, they’re doing a great fundraiser with a large hot coffee that’s only $1.49 for the customer, while Dunkin’ donates 50 cents for every coupon redeemed to regional food banks. SO basically it’s win, win. You’re getting a great and inexpensive cup of delicious hot coffee and helping your neighbors in need. “Help Roast Hunger!”

6. I recently got hooked on the show Nashville, I know that I am WAY late to the party. I had heard Kimberly Williams Paisley talking about it on a podcast (she played a character named Peggy in the show). I decided to check it out and got hooked right in! If you love country music with a side of drama, it’s a good show. And I mean who doesn’t love Connie Britton?! (Tammy Taylor for president!)

7. SO earlier this week I lamented on Facebook that I wasn’t excited about our elf returning this week BUT I have had a change of heart over this little guy. I was wisely reminded that our kids are growing up so fast and in fact the oldest two are on the verge of not believing so I am taking this little guy as my nightly reminder to savor the season with the kids. They excitedly wake up each day to see where he is or what he is up to!

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

8. Have you heard about Iceland's “Yule Book Flood” tradition on Christmas Eve? A holiday where you hop in bed to each chocolate and read books is totally a holiday tradition that I can get behind! What books are on your wish list or your gift list?!

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I hope you have a wonderful week and December is giving you great reasons to be thankful. Share some of your recent favorites with me in the comments!

Family Fall Portraits, Newark, DE

But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.” 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

We caught the very end of the fall colors and the beginning of the autumnal chill during these portraits last weekend. I can’t express as a photographer how truly sweet it to capture the same families over different seasons and especially if it’s someone who has long been a friend. Not to mention, seriously how cute are these kids and family? Happy Friday internet friends!

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Monday Confessions, It's been a while

Hello dear friends, I know it has been a while. I wasn’t sure if any of you were even missing these weekly installments of things on my mind in between photo posts, but I have been assured that a few of you appreciate these posts! So I have decided it’s better to just hop back in than to keep skipping. The thing is, I can’t even describe the level of tired I am feeling this morning. It’s been months of moving, transition, changes, surviving and then moving again. My whole family is feeling the tired seeping into our bones. When we decided last April that we were going to put our house on the market, that started the wheels in motion to first the prep and eventual selling of our house. That led to having to move everything we owned into storage and living with family while we found and then waited on settlement for the home we are now in. Then of course that meant moving again on the heels of the holiday season.

I think the very hardest thing is that daily life doesn’t stop for you in the midst of huge changes like this. Kids need need 3 meals a day, clean clothes and a place to sleep at night. It’s hard to keep the juggle of daily life while finding the energy to try to do everything else well. It’s not an excuse, but certainly a reason that this blog has been a big neglected. I have been steadily working photography jobs but have been hit or miss with posting. In this constant sifting of priorities, I am sure that I mess it all up sometimes but as I remind my kids, “I am one person and I am doing the best I can.” I am thankful for this little corner of the internet where I can share my life and work! So without further ado…here’s what I confess today…

  1. I confess that I don’t like time change. Even with the autumn “adding” an hour, it basically has just made my 3 year old away at 5:15 every day and we are all over it. I think the time change has added to my general exhaustion.

  2. I have been awful at self care since we put our house on the market earlier this year. I am slowly getting back into better and consistent routines like workouts, reading, and sleep…sleep has been a hard one. I got a migraine on Saturday evening which I had felt coming because of the stress, lack of care for myself and lack of sleep. My body tells me when I need to take a step back from the stress and find ways to take care of myself.

  3. I just hoped in on a reading plan with She Reads Truth on thankfulness that started today and I am looking forward to leading up to Thanksgiving week. Trying to focus my heart and mind on the right things first in the day, can help the rest to get done.

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4. I got some questions about my hair yesterday so I thought that I would post here. First, thank the fall weather for the humidity going away! Lower humidity makes a huge difference in my hair type. The other tools contributing to good hair days are Aussie 3 minute miracle, heat protectant spray and my Hot Tools 1.5” gold curling iron. Use heat spray before the blow dry and using the 3 min miracle every few days is helping the condition of my hair after summer and color processing. Use the curling iron to curl away from face in a few inch sections. My favorite hair tutorial blogger is Kate Bryan at Small Things Blog.

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5. It’s Veterans Day, which should give us all pause to thank a veteran in our lives. I am thankful for those who have protected our freedoms and been committed to preserving the lives we enjoy.

Service is selflessness--the opposite of the lifestyle that we see so much of in America today. The things that entertain us don't often lift us up, or show us as the people we can rise up to become. The people who appear in this book--and others who did things I can't talk about--are my role models. They quietly live out the idea expressed in the Bible (John 15:13): "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 
― Marcus Luttrell, Service: A Navy SEAL at War

Here’s to Monday confessions being back in the rotation! What are some things you’d like to hear from me? HeHave a great week!

Sweet Summer Evening

  

"May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth

And see the lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous

Stand upright and be strong

And may you stay forever young"

~Bob Dylan

Enjoy this sweet summer evening session of siblings that I shot this last week. I hope it brings a smile to your Monday!

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Sweet M Newborn

    We got a beautiful new niece a couple weeks ago over the first weekend of March and she couldn't be sweeter! Her big sister P is just a little over a year old and very curious as to what this little baby is doing at her house. Thankfully the cousins all played with Miss P to keep her happy while I snuck up to the nursery to snag some photos of little Miss M. Her nursery has lots of sweet floral touches crafted by Grandma! It's such a cute little room for a tiny new little sister. May Miss P & Miss M grow up to be close in spirit! I've always wanted a sister of my own so thankfully life has given me great sister-in-laws. Congrats to you Ashley & Ken, she's beautiful and we can't wait to see her grow into her own person. 

A sister is a gift to the heart. A friend to the spirit. A golden thread to the meaning of life.” ~Unknown

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Monday Confessions, Merry Christmas

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"Joy to The world! the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev'ry heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing"  ~Joy to the World

May this Christmas day find you surrounded with love, laughter and the truth that Christ came for you too! Now that Christmas is here, allow me to share a few of my favorite images from our fall session with Christina Vance Photography. She's wonderful and I am so, so thankful to have some updated family images that include Benjamin! 

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Sweet little family session, Wilmington, DE

“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."

~William Cullen Bryant   
This sweet family met up with me early afternoon for a session with their two young boys and thankfully they were so sweet! It's amazing what a little sugar treat can do for encouraging smiles for photos! We also got some sun after a rainy morning which makes all the difference in these images. Happy Monday friends! I aim to resume the usual "confessions" on Mondays in November.
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As always, I am so thankful for new clients and referrals from others. It's honestly the best way to grow a business! If you're looking for updated family photos, I have limited December bookings emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com

First Day of School 2017/18 Year

        As I write, I just sent my 3 big kids off to school for the first day of the year! They all went to bed excited for today. My little first grader had magical confetti under his pillow from his new teacher and it just overjoyed him! My one third grader who will remain nameless did not sleep in ONE day this summer, yet I had to wake him for school today. Go figure right?! It is still hard for this mama heart to believe that my little 5 & 6 pound twins are third graders, but I'm also enjoying their growth and development. We are absolutely blessed with the best teachers at their school, so I know they're in good hands all day! Here's to a new school year and I will leave you with Dr. Seuss for inspiration, 

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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First Grade

First Grade

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Summer family session, Smyrna, DE

 "The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change." 

―E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

It's August and I am starting to hear those crickets chirp...

   Photography has been such a great way for me to both meet new people and keep in touch with old friends. When I got a message from Brandon, an old college friend, to come photograph his family, I was excited to see them all. Brandon and Hannah have not only a beautiful family but a lovely home that's more of a farmette. They are able to have some animals to keep them busy along with their kiddos. We were so lucky to have some of the milder August weather last weekend to have an evening session. I have to say, it was really enjoyable and the kids hung in there!  They may or may not have been smiling for candy :)  What's not to love about summer white outfits, sunshine and family?!

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6 months Sweetness, Wilmington, DE

    I am always thankful for photography to allow me to meet new people and make new friends. It's the best when clients and friends refer me to other new families! I was asked to come do a six month session for a sweet little man and I had such an enjoyable time photographing him along with his family. This adorable family included a big puppy as well as a baby so how could I not love it?!! The hardest part here is for me to choose what to share from the session and not just want to share the whole session. The nursery was perfectly styled and practical as well! I loved all the details! Sweet B-man rocked this session from his gummy grin with 2 bottom teeth all the way to the drool between he and puppy Solomon! As always, what a gift for me to be allowed into the lives of families to capture their memories!

Collective "awwwwww".....

Collective "awwwwww".....

Monday Confessions, It's May!

        It's May this morning and I hear the birds singing! It looks like a warm day ahead here in DE and I'm hoping the fog burns off to see the sun. Are your Monday mornings full of a  to-do list that sometimes feels daunting? Mine usually are. So here I sit, with my warm cup of coffee and just taking it one thing at a time. Here's whats on my mind to confess...

1. If you've known me for some time, you know that I swear big earrings can make an outfit (or distract you from a boring outfit or a tired face :) I am currently loving the leather earrings from Nickel and Suede  and I just wore these champagne shimmer earrings over the weekend. You know I also love supporting small, family run businesses which this particular business is!

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2. I am currently listening to XM Radio's channel 61 called Y2K country. Don't laugh, it's amazing! It's all the songs I used to listen to in college and there's nothing like driving with the windows down singing Wave on Wave  by Pat Green. You should try it!

3. I confess that I am not always a huge fan of our fast paced technology driven world but I have been cracking up this week as my 21 month old climbs up on the couch and says "Lexa.." to try to give our echo dot Alexa some directions. 

4. I confess that chasing my 4th toddler in 8 years has been challenging lately. He is oh-so-cute but oh-so-feisty! It's a tricky time of him trying to insert his independence and explore his surroundings all while having no real sense of danger. It's been nice to get outside to play but chasing this kiddo is wearing me out!

5. I confess we are really missing having a dog in our family but I am trying to be realistic about the amount of living things I can take care of under my roof. I keep torturing myself looking at puppies available or dogs for adoption. I am just hoping that the right thing will eventually come along but we are just not in a position to rush into getting a pet. The kids definitely know how to get to us, like our kindergartener telling us, "We were talking about the pets we have at school and I don't have one any anymore." Knife to the heart right?! Ha.....

Well my lovely friends, I hope the week that lies ahead is a good one for you! Hope you see some sunshine today! 

Eastern Shore Sunset, Salisbury, MD

Silk Ribbons by @tornandtied (on Instagram)  Details and set up by @mandaweaver and @littlerustyshop (on Instagram)

Silk Ribbons by @tornandtied (on Instagram)

Details and set up by @mandaweaver and @littlerustyshop (on Instagram)

       This image was just a week ago as I arrived at Providence Farm, Salisbury, Maryland.  I was there for the Seasidebride Workshop hosted by Manda Weaver and a handful of others. It was a great time to get away for the night, make new friends, shoot some styled sessions and think about business. It's hard being both a creative and a business person. I can't speak for all creatives but sometimes the "business" part can suck the life right out of me. I have a long business to-do list, including the update of this very website. In the midst though of all the thoughts about what I need to do though, it was good to just shoot for the sake of being creative. I'm still editing much of what we worked on during those couple days and some things are under wraps awaiting submissions but God gifted us all this beautiful sunset as we were leaving last Wednesday evening! It reminded me of the original creator and how we are in his image. 

"When you're taking on creativity, you're taking on soul work. This is not about what we do - the is about who we are."

Brene Brown on Magic lessons podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert 

Sunset on the Eastern Shore, April 5, 2017

Sunset on the Eastern Shore, April 5, 2017

Monday Confessions, Apple of Your Eye

    I was trying to get in some morning reading yesterday before the morning chaos but it just wasn't happening. I got the kids settled and my first cup of coffee made, only to come across this quote from exactly a year ago on my phone. I don't know who to give it credit for but it was absolutly the most timely words I needed to hear. 

"If you’re running yourself crazy trying to be more and acquire more, to the point where your children are a distraction rather than the apple of your eye, is it worth it?

Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6) "

     I've been thinking this over for the past 2 hours and it's hitting me hard. It's a longer story than a blog post, but wrestling with motherhood, calling and priorities has been a constant in my life over the last 8 years. Even getting away overnight last week to the Seasidebride Workshop, I was wrestling with these questions. The above bible verse seems to be giving me some clarity, in that it is better to have a little less (insert material things, success, etc) than it is to have more of those types of things and be constantly stressing. The whole idea that I could be treating my kids as a distraction instead of the main subject is pretty convicting. It is my prayer this week that I can start to see ways in which I allow this mentality to creep in and pray that I would be shifting more to a heart posture of keeping my family the main focus. I think it's even more meaningful that this is Holy Week, the week of the year where we remember Jesus' last week in human form on earth.

     Obviously all the other things I am responsible for are really important as well, like teaching and this very photography business, but I need to make choices to keep my time well spent and my sanity in tact. Busy mom friends, how have you found ways to keep the correct focus? (I won't even dare say "balance" because I don't think that exists!)  

       Here's a cute iPhone shot from yesterday's egg hunt and Easter bunny visit! (I had all 4 kids there by myself so there was no chance of me having my big camera and chasing!) Hope you have a beautiful week! 

Eater Bunny visit 2017

Eater Bunny visit 2017

Odessa, Delaware Family Session

Remember this beautiful wedding couple from 2013? They're old friends of mine and I adore the opportunity to photograph their growing family any chance I get! They're expecting a baby boy in the next month and we had a family session to celebrate. Their sweet Della is preparing to be a big sister and will turn two this summer. How cute is she?!

Newborn Baby Girl, Townsend, DE

"She is loveliness itself." -Jane Austen, Emma

    I am always honored to be asked to photograph a newborn baby. The miracle of a precious new child is not lost on me. I think the more I grow in age and wisdom, the more I know that it is truly an honor to get to be a part of this moment in a child's life.

    This past week, I got to meet sweet baby A and photograph her in all her pink, cuteness. As a mom, I know how fast these moments fly and how fast the baby will change. In a newborn session I seek to capture all the little details of the newborn, as well as the story of the family. This sweet family even included some fun, furry members and we didn't miss out on including them in the session! Sweet baby A was just 5 days old here!

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Sweet Benji at 18 Months!

       Happy Monday friends! Today I will share a handful of shots that capture my sweet Benji at 18 months old. I shot these last month (because he's already actually 19 months) but I know how the time is fleeting! Matt and I were looking through a lot of old photos and videos over the weekend, which tugged at our heartstrings. It truly is amazing how the days are LONG but the years are so SHORT! We hardly remember much about our twins being babies and welcoming Maxwell only 23 months into parenthood :) We went from no kids to 3 kids in less than 2 years, so we've learned the importance of trying to take photos here and there to remember! 

       When I tell you this kid is pure joy, we mean it! He's busy and never stops, but his laughter is infectious! We are thankful for this little bundle of personality to bring up the caboose of our family. We all love you Ben! And yes...he's already a huge super hero fan!

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Taking a taste of Hans solo...

Taking a taste of Hans solo...

I love his chubby baby hands that are quickly changing...

I love his chubby baby hands that are quickly changing...

Thanks for bringing us so much love and sweetness Benji!

Thanks for bringing us so much love and sweetness Benji!

Monday Confessions, on Tuesday!

    This photo cracks me up because it's far more honest than the one I actually put on my christmas card with the cherub smiling faces! It's also pretty much how all of us felt this morning getting back into the grind with the kids back to school. Thankfully though we had all prepared well last night so we were ready this morning as much as we could be. The slow, soft rain falling did not help anyone get out of bed though! With the new year, I will share a few goals of mine with you. (And I get it, goals are easy to set, not easy to accomplish. I mean remember how every year for the last 3 years I have sworn I would get more organized around my house?! If you check my closets, you will see that is still a far reaching goal.)

   Last week I got  a little alone time and used the Dream Guide from Jennie Allen to think through some areas of my life.  I like how she gives categories and then some sub-categories to ask yourself a few questions in. I just did this over a bowl of soup so it doesn't have to be a crazy in depth process if you're intimidated. So where did I land with all of these thoughts? 

1. Self-Care needs to be a better priority this year. I know, it's a classic "mom" thing to just let yourself constantly ignore your own needs in order to care for everyone else, but it's legitimate. When I say self-care, it encompasses everything from sleep to exercise to water in-take. We all get on the merry-go-round of life and let important things go the wayside. I've been inconsistent in sleep and exercise since having Benjamin almost 18 months ago. So much of life has been daily survival, that I had forgotten I function so much better when I at least pay attention to the basics my body needs. 

2. Spiritual focus is important this year. So many of us also let the disciplines of bible reading and prayer fall fast to the back burner when life gets in the way. I certainly don't mean any of this legalistically, such as if I do these things, God will love me more. No way! I know for a fact that his grace is sufficient in my weakness. I just know, like with the other self-care, that the better I am tuning in to my spiritual practices, the better I will be in my daily life. I am far more patient with my kids in the morning if I have spent a few minutes with a devotional (& maybe a cup of coffee too ;) 

3. I want to be committed to the creative process this year. I know this might sound simplistic, but so often as a photographer I create for clients. I am often guilty of not taking the advice I give to my students to always have personal projects going as well. I miss the act of creating for creativity's sake. Photography is my usual medium of choice but I miss the days when I would do ceramics or paint or other tactile creative endeavors that had me experiencing the creative process on a different level. I love these lines from Brene Brown

"There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear."

We all need to create as an act of being human and I think it's another thing to important to neglect this year! I don't know what this will look like this year or how it will play out, but if I don't put it out there, it never will!

4. Renewal in relationships is also important. We can get into patterns with our spouses, our kids, our friends and sometimes we can stay there. Sometimes I find myself in a pattern with my kids that I know I need to break, like being impatient. The good news of a new year is that it is an opportunity for a fresh start! I am going to use this flip of the calendar page to make some changes in the relationships I hold dear.

5. Keep reading...all the books ;) I have realized how much in this season of my life, I still need to learn from people. When I was out in the ministry and working world for more hours of the week, I interacted with people on a deep level all the time. In a way, I still do this all day with my family of course but it's on a different intellectual level than I was used to. I have found that keeping up with reading and podcasts have kept my mind stimulated in times when I get weary of conversations with little people!