Enough is Enough: Mommy Guilt

Freedom. That’s what I felt the day I decided not to return to nursing school but instead to stay home with Evie.
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And boy oh boy did we enjoy that summer and early fall together. We did crafts and went on trips and explored all that Baltimore has to offer. The Webers Apple Festival. Airplane sightings at the Thomas Dixon park. Birthday parties. Zoo outings. Family trips to the Aquarium. The Great Frederick Fair.
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And then, well then I was blessed with a business that became instantly successful beyond my wildest dreams. October family sessions snowballed into November family craziness. And after I started newborns in December, the rest was history. I did 163 sessions this year. I worked 7 straight weekends this fall. I struggled to do it all well, not wanting my child to feel lost in the shuffle. Unimportant.
I let myself believe that I wasn’t a good mother. That I was a disappointment for not having the hang of running my own business while mothering. That somehow my child would be scarred by the fact that we missed Library Tuesday or that I didn’t have a craft theme for the week. That the store bought snack I bought for her school party was a tragedy.
Well…I was lying to myself. I am a damn good mother. And those crafts and day trips were never what made me a good mom anyway. What makes me a good mom is the unconditional love that I have for this child. That she wakes up each day knowing that I’m madly in love with her. That I believe in her endless potential. That I am proud of her.
If you can lay your head on your pillow at night and say “I did my best today” than that is enough. Some days my best is shit. Some days my best is amazing. But it’s always my best. And these little humans are quite forgiving. We could learn from them.
I took a moment and made this little collage of “selfies” from this year. The same pose was in my camera again and again. Evie hugging me as tight as she can, loving me like I am the best mom in the world. Because to her, I am perfect. And for me, that is simply enough.
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MJ: One but not done

MJ: The face that launched 1000 ships. Or in my case, the face that launched my career. She was my very first newborn client and you may remember reading about her newborn session here:
and her 5 month session here:
For her one year session, we were able to reuse the same tieback (from Sew Whimsey) and I love seeing how different it looks now that she’s a toddler!
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We dared to interrupt her nap for this session and at first…she was MIFFED.
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But then we brought out this fabulous red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and all was forgiven.
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When is it this adorable to shove cake in your face? For all you people who do this at your wedding, I promise you it’s only precious when you’re a toddler.
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Until next time MJ. Until next time.

Cake and other such terrible trajedies

Right out the gate, I knew we were going to have a great outdoor portion of our session. The sun was perfect. The parents were GORGEOUS and Colin was all smiles.
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We got to the studio and Colin enjoyed GQ posing in my boat prop.
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Then.came.cake. I joke that I should make these smash cakes out of pureed sweet potatoes or peas. Something babies are used to eating. Because clearly they are not impressed with French buttercream frosting and raspberry jam filling. Colin’s total indifference is absolutely priceless. Here’s hoping his parents enjoyed chowing down on the leftovers!
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Awaiting Basil: Bump and Beyond

Instantly connected. That’s how I felt when I met Tia and Bruce. Like I wanted to crash their post-shoot dinner date because they were so much fun to be around. Tia was all baby and her simple shots were some of my all time favorites. And check out her dynamite smile. Apparently I say “just a smidgy” over and over again when shooting. Bruce thought it was borderline insane!
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My intuition told me Tia was carrying a boy and well…I was correct! Basil arrived with a head of dark hair and the sweetest, most relaxed demeanor. He was a model newborn, game for any pose including Daddy’s idea to have him hold a Christmas ornament. I like to think he was a pretty terrific early Christmas gift!
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Carlie & Vince: Bringing the heat to a cold winter day

A year ago, I photographed Carlie and Vince’s 1 year anniversary at a tree farm. These two were total naturals in front of the camera and their pictures were so romantic!
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This year, we decided to choose a Baltimore landmark, the Visionary Art Museum, as our location. They said every year they want to go somewhere different and Carlie even has a date and location picked for November 2014 (gotta love planners!).
My $5 investment in fingerless gloves saved me on our shoot date; It was absolutely freezing cold. Take a look at these pictures and tell me if Carlie and Vince look cold. Nope…their love is keeping them nice and toasty. Cheers to 2 years as husband and wife. Way to keep the flame burning!!!
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7 fun holiday kids activities you can do on the CHEAP!

If you are anything like me, you get a serious case of the Holiday Fa-la-la’s starting in early November. I crank up the Christmas music (favorites of mine include Mariah Carey and The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack) and start watching Elf on repeat.
But holiday festivities can start to get expensive. So I came up with this list of 7 things you can do for $10 or less!
1. Go see Santa.
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Now…I did spend $30 on pictures because I’m a sucker but many places allow you to visit Santa free of charge. Get your kiddo dressed up and make it a special moment for them! We practiced what Evie would say for days and she was so proud to tell Santa her whole name.
2. Bake cookies
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Every year my Mom and I bake tons of cookies. This year Evie was old enough to stamp the imprints in the Lemon Criss Cross cookies on her own. Find little ways that your child can help, be it mixing the batter, rolling the dough or cutting out the shapes.
3. Make a felt tree for them to decorate and re-decorate
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I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was GENIUS! Last year Evie insisted on taking all her ornaments off her little tree every day. This is a much easier tree to re-decorate and she had so much fun bedazzling the ornaments with little gem stickers. If your child is old enough, they could cut the ornaments out themselves (although felt is a bit tricky to cut). Total cost for this project was $8.50
See the original pinned idea here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/166914729913658621/
4. Make a Santa face
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We actually made this craft last year. You probably have everything needed to make it right in your house: a plate, some construction paper,cotton balls and glue. What kid doesn’t love glue??? I’m pretty sure I ate a good bit of it as a child but that’s a story for another time!
See the original pinned idea here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/166914729913658626/
5. Fingerprint Christmas Lights
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I’ll be honest, this isn’t our finest effort but we literally did this one night while waiting for dinner to cook. If you want to see how a SuperMom does it, check out this pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/166914729913658628/ All it takes is a little fingerpaint and some level of drawing ability (which I clearly lack). Don’t cha like my fridge full of magnets? The bottom half is completely covered in princess stickers, thus confirming the fact that I have turned into the kind of parent I swore I’d never be!
6. Decorate a Gingerbread House
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Now if you want to be all Martha Steward like, you can make your own but I bought this beauty at Harris Teeter for $9.99. It was great because the kit included everything and Evie LOVED decorating the house and sneaking candies when she thought I wasn’t looking. I displayed it on a mirrored glass tray and surrounded the house with fake snow that I got at Target. Here’s a link to an article that reviews Gingerbread kits: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/166914729913658623/
7. Get in your car and go find the best aka tackiest Christmas light displays
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This is one of our favorite things to do as a family. We get in the car, cover Evie with a warm blanket, and drive in a different decoration as we search for the most wildly decorated house. We put the Christmas music station on the radio and enjoy the sights. This was our best find so far! Pardon the iPhone shot!

Want more holiday inspiration? Follow my “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” blog on Pinterest!

Now go make some memories!