Eeyore 8th Birthday Party

May 30, 2013


My younger daughter requested an Eeyore-themed party for her 8th birthday, and we had a great time transforming our backyard into our own version of the 100 acre wood.  As it turns out, Winnie the Pooh themed party items are in low supply these days, with most of them being designed for baby showers or 1st birthdays.  So I scoured Etsy and Pinterest for ideas and forged ahead with the Eeyore theme.

I found a cute birthday banner, chocolate Eeyore-shaped lolipops, ribbon sculpture hair clips, and a custom dress for the birthday girl on Etsy.   I found the map of the 100 Acre Wood and the giant Eeyore for the Pin the Tail on Eeyore online.  They are giant stickers that were intended to hang in a nursery, but worked great for our purposes.   And we picked up some Pooh and friends ears and tails, and made some Eeyore quote boards to make an Eeyore and friends photobooth.

My husband learned wood-burning to make our yard signs, and I made mini versions in pots to label the food.  We added in some balloons and streamers and viola! a party-transformed yard.  The kids had a blast crafting, playing, and posing for pictures in our photobooth.

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Posted 10 years, 11 months ago at 10:38 pm.

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Color Run!

May 29, 2013



🙂 photo credit: Jeramie Kopp

A week and a half ago I celebrated a month of hard work getting in shape with an incredibly run 5K: the Color Run.  I found a friend who was crazy enough to sign up last minute for the race, dress up in neon tutus, and have a fun race!  In preparation for the race I Googled the Color Run and read a bunch of blog entries that were super helpful in getting ready for the race, so I thought I would add my own experience for others who are prepping for the race.

First, how did we get a last minute registration for the run?  The races, especially in big cities like Washington, DC, fill up within days of when the registration opens.  I was able to get a transfer registration from a runner who couldn’t do the race, and makes it very easy for the racers to transfer the registration to a new runner.  So I was able to find a bib for myself and my friend the week before the race.   If you’re in the market for a last-minute registration, check out the Facebook page for the local Color Run, there are a lot of people looking for transfer their bibs.

We decided to go all out and bought the tutus and tube socks at the packet pick-up.  The packet pick-up was amazingly well organized and fun, with ample volunteers, goodies available for purchase, and fun music.   Our kids were not running but we wanted them to be part of the experience so we bought the Color Run t-shirts to wear to the race as well.

The DC Color Run was held at National Harbor, which is about a 30 minute drive for us, so we got up bright and early to avoid the anticipated lines for parking.  Traffic on a Sunday morning was light and we arrived before there were any substantial lines for parking, so it was very easy to park.  We had been closely watching the weather because there was a 60% chance of rain.  I had done some nervous reading about what happens if it rains on the day of the Color Run, and we had decided to brave it, even if it ended up raining.  We lucked out and with the exception of a little drizzle as we were running, the rain held out for the morning.

We headed for the race start corral, and were in the first wave of runners.  The DC race had about 5,000 runners, so I had read it was good to be in an early wave so there would be fewer strollers and walkers to dodge if you intended to run the race.  There was plenty of entertainment while were were waiting for the race to start with goodies being given out, photo ops with unicorns, and people-watching.  Our kids and husbands explored National Harbor while we waited, and we were pleasantly surprised that they started the race 15 minutes early for the first wave.

As we headed out along the Potomac, we soon approached the first color station where volunteers toss colored powder on you as you run by.  We came to the yellow first, and got covered in yellow.  We had decided to stop along the way to take pictures, since it was an untimed race and we weren’t running for time anyway.  Then as we ran along we ran through the other color stations until we finished up the 5K and then met up with the families and all headed into the fun at the finish.  This is when the kids joined into the color fun and we got covered in even more color.  There was a little area with colored powder in barrels, and the kids enjoyed covering each other in color.  Then we headed over the the stage where there was music and every few minutes there was a “color toss”.  They invited kids to come up on stage for a dance contest and my younger daughter enjoyed dancing on stage.

The whole family had a blast at the event, and I hardly noticed running 3 miles with all of the fun.  I’m so glad we did it and wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try!  Next time we hope to come back and have the kids run with us as well.


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Posted 10 years, 12 months ago at 9:37 pm.

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Mission: Get Mom Back in the Picture… Success!

May 17, 2013


It has been a month since I started my personal challenge to make better choices about getting in shape.  I spent the month of attending bootcamp 3x per week, taking more opportunities to run, bike and walk, and tracking my eating and activity on,, and my handy Fitbit pedometer.   The change was prompted by the good fortune of winning a contest from CFC Fitness for a free month of their bootcamp and a subscription to diet4rewards food.

While I wasn’t able to keep 100% to the diet4rewards food plan, I did learn a lot from the plan, and was able to incorporate it into my monthly diet.  I learned that it is possible to have real food meals in reasonable portions, and real, easy, healthy snacks not be hungry while losing weight.  The plan basically cuts out excess carbs from the diet and keeps you eating real, unprocessed foods.   I ate the D4R meals when I was eating at home, and then when I went out to eat with my family I tried to make good menu choices, like keeping to reasonable portions, cutting out unnecessary sauces and extras that add calories, and cutting down on my white grains.

Between adding exercise and changes in eating, I was able to eat three meals a day plus snacks (I didn’t even give up my occasional Oreos, and made it through an entire box of fudgecicles) and I lost 8 pounds.   And not only did I lose some weight, I also am feeling much more fit, and happier in my clothes.   I opted to sign up for another month of the bootcamp and have recruited some friends to join me.  It’s hard work, but the group is great, and it is so worth it!  The photo above was a quick self-portrait I took yesterday.  I joined the local “Moms Run the Town” chapter at the encouragement of some of the girls in bootcamp.

I’m happy I was able to keep with my plan this month despite some challenges and obstacles, and meet my personal weight loss goal.  Beyond that, I have made an impression on my girls about how mom can make time to take care of herself as well.  The photo on the right shows part of my Mother’s Day gift from my daughter–a poem where she says mom is “outstanding at running.”

I have an exciting celebration planned in honor of meeting my goals–I have signed up to run in the Color Run this weekend at National Harbor.  It looks like a blast, and I’m looking forward to showing my girls how much fun we all can have in the name of fitness.

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Posted 11 years ago at 4:55 pm.

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Mission: Get Mom Back in the Picture, update week 1

April 23, 2013

For those who have been following my progress since my first post last week, I thought I would provide an update after my first week.  I have survived, and I have to say, after the initial aching, I feel great!  Last week I started with the Custom Fitness Concepts bootcamp and revved up my fitness routine quite a bit.  Here’s what the week looked like:

Monday: 3 mile run on the trail (while my daughters were at dance class)

Tuesday: Bootcamp with Tina

Wednesday: rest… trust me, this was a good thing 😉

Thursday: Bootcamp with Tina

Friday: Bootcamp with Tina

Saturday: lots of cheering for my kids at soccer games (maybe we’ll call that “rest” as well)

Sunday: rest

I tracked my eating on and kept my calorie intake to reasonable levels.  I weighed in this morning, and I am down 3 lbs.  So that’s progress!   A couple of things I took from my experience last week:

1) I wasn’t sure about going to Bootcamp two days in a row (Thursday and Friday) but I am glad I did.  The workout is different every day, and even though I was still pretty sore from Thursday I managed to do fine in class on Friday.

2) Having a great trainer and good company is half the battle.  The group of ladies at the Merrifield CFC bootcamp are perfect workout buddies.  They are fun, encouraging, and a good mix of fitness levels.    It’s nice to go back and see friendly faces and have folks great you by name.  It’s a more cohesive group than what I’ve found at my gym.

3) I can still eat out and eat well.  Seasons 52 at Tyson’s Corner is my new favorite restaurant.  They have a great seasonal, local food-based menu, and nothing on their menu is over 475 calories!   I went for a date lunch with my husband last weekend and we both made it out of there eating a full meal for less than 600 calories.

4) My friends and acquaintances are very supportive and many have the same goal of making more time for themselves to get fit.  I have gotten lots of positive feedback on Facebook and when I run while the girls are at dance class or walk while the girls play soccer, the other moms I see are very excited about the idea of trying it themselves.

So that’s my report from this past week… I have run into several other local moms out running or walking, so I think the spring weather will get a lot of people moving toward better fitness this month.  Have you started your own personal goal?  If so, feel free to share your progress in the comments section!

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Posted 11 years, 1 month ago at 10:59 am.

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Mission: Get Mom back in the Picture

April 15, 2013

There I am, posing with the family for our Easter picture this year.  Like many moms I know, I think that the kids are the cute ones, the ones that people really want to see.  I am tucked behind my little girls because, well, I am not in as great shape as I would like to be.  In every photoshoot I do for children I try to offer for the moms (or grandmothers) to jump in and join the children for some portraits.  All too often I hear “No, I didn’t fix my hair,” “No, I need to touch up my roots,” “No, I didn’t dress in the right clothes,” or most frequently, “No, I need to lose some weight and then I will schedule a portrait for the whole family.”

Now think back to your old family photos from when you were a kid.  Do you care how mom looked, or are you just happy that mom with in the picture with you?   When you find photos of your great-grandmother, do you care is she had grey hair and aged skin, or are you comforted that you have photos of her?   As women, we want to look good in the photos we leave for our families, but we need to do our best to jump in the photos for the sake of ours kids.  So I try to practice what I preach, but if I’m going to commit to being in the portraits, I too would like to try to look my best.

As a mom with my own business and two girls who dance, play soccer, swim, and play violin, finding time for myself in our busy schedule is difficult.  I have a long-standing gym membership which some months goes completely unused.   I spend hours watching my kids exercise but do little myself.  I feed them fruit and yogurt for snacks and I eat their Easter candy.   I know there are simple adjustments to my routine I can make to help make a change in the right direction, like walking with other moms while the kids are at soccer practice, and walking the kids to school rather than driving.  But it was too easy to continue with the status quo and put those changes off until another day.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I went to a trial Custom Fitness Concepts bootcamp class with a friend, and I entered an essay contest to win a free month of their fitness and food program.  It took a lot for me to enter an essay contest, because those who know me know that writing is not really my thing.  My dad is an author, my brother is an English teacher, but I am more of a picture person, and writing doesn’t come easily to me.  Even looking at this blog you’ll see I mostly let the photos speak for themselves.  But in the essay I described how I would use the prize as an kickstart to making some positive changes and making healthier choices, and much to my surprise, I won!  And now I have have no excuse not to lose.

Last week I started making a few changes to my routine to try to get more exercise doing the things I would have to anyway.  The girls and I walked to school rather than driving.  This an easy way for both me and my little dog to get some much-needed exercise.   Then I recruited another mom to take a walk with me while our girls were at soccer practice.   I also managed to take some time to go to Zumba classes with a neighbor at our gym while the girls were at school, and went for a family bike ride over the weekend.

This was a good start, but the hard work will start this week.  I will start working hard with my trainer Tina at the CFC Bootcamp, and will be watching what I eat with their meal plan.   My goal is to be in much better shape, and maybe lose a few pounds as well, by the end of the month.  And then I can try to continue what I’ve started and get myself feeling more confident for family beach portraits this summer.

So there it is, my plan to get mom in the picture.  I challenge my clients to make their plan to get on track to do what they need to do to get themselves feeling comfortable to be back in the family pictures as well.  Whether it’s getting fit, or getting our hair done, or just finding the right outfit, we moms owe it to our kids to be confident enough to join our families in the photos.



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Posted 11 years, 1 month ago at 10:04 am.


You’d better not pout…

November 19, 2012

These were some hard-earned shots with this adorable little 6-day-old.   But as you can see our hard work paid off and we managed to get him some adorable portraits with and without big brother.

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Posted 11 years, 6 months ago at 8:53 pm.

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The Photographer’s Safari Travel Gear Guide

September 6, 2012

This summer I was lucky to have the opportunity to travel to South Africa and go on safari.  It was an absolutely amazing trip, and a photographer’s dream to be surrounded by such amazing nature and have the opportunity to photograph animals in their natural habitats.  Before I left for my trip I scoured the web for advice on what to pack and what gear to bring.  So for the benefit of others who may have the chance to make that trip in the future I thought I would share what I found the real necessities for the trip and why.

First the gear:

F-Stop Stowe Backpack with ICU

My camera bodies, lenses, laptop, binoculars and other electronics traveled safely and subtly in a green F-Stop Stowe  backpack with a large pro ICU.  I probably could have even gotten away with a medium ICU.   The bag is very flexible, you can use it with the ICU was luggage for your gear, and then after you arrive you can remove the ICU and use the bag as regular backpack.   The green canvas is cute, and the compact, boxy design allowed me to disguise a heavy, packed-with-valuables bag as a lightweight backpack and get it through all of the approvals as cabin baggage.  It even fit under the seat in front of me on a propeller flight.

Eddie Bauer Sling Bag

In place of a purse I chose to bring a small sling bag.  This option from Eddie Bauer was even big enough to carry my D700 with 80-400 lens.  It has a front organizer pocket that was great for passports and boarding passes, and a larger main section where I kept things like a spare jacket and umbrella.

Eddie Bauer Travex Vest

For the ride on the open air Landrover I found the cargo vest a great way to keep extra batteries, sunglasses, an iphone, and a point-and-shoot camera.  The Eddie Bauer version has plenty of pockets to hold all of the gear and a great, stylish look.

Ex Officio Bugsaway Pants

Bugs can be a nuisance or even a health threat in most countries where you go on safari, and I decided to give these special Bugsaway pants a try.  I can’t vouch for the insect repellant qualities because as it turned out there weren’t many bugs in South Africa in the winter, but nevertheless these pants were a great lightweight and comfortable addition to my wardrobe.  They are also versatile, with snaps to roll them up and use them like capris.

And the photography equipment:

Nikon D700

The D700 provided great low-light performance for both the early mornings and late evenings went spent on game drives.  I chose the more compact D700 over the larger professional models so that it would be easier to shoot hand-held in a crowded vehicle.  I also brought me older D300 as a backup, a travel battery charger, extra memory cards, and 3 spare batteries.

Nikon 80-400mm

Probably the hardest decision for me to which lens to bring to be able to best capture the wildlife.  I brought a wide angle lens, a mid-range lens and the 80-400.  In the end I only needed the 80-400 for 99% of the shots, and used my point-and-shoot for the other shots.  The 80-400 lens was a reasonable size for the bumpy open-air vehicle rides, but a long enough lens to be able to get close-ups of animals and even birds.  The wider end of the range was nice to capture full shots of nearby giraffes and elephants.  The F/4.5-5.6 was slower than I would have wanted at times, but I could usually compensate with higher ISOs.


I hope this basic gear guide is helpful in your trip planning!

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Posted 11 years, 8 months ago at 10:26 pm.

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March 13, 2012

I first photographed this big sis when she was still in her mom’s belly.  I saw her a few weeks ago for her baby sis’s maternity session, and she was back again this week to show off her new sister.  When big sister was a newborn we photographed her on a guitar, and today mom and dad brought a mandolin to use with little sis.  The musician genes are definitely running through her, as we had placed her hand on the strings while she was sleeping, and she was already playing for us.   Here’s a quick look at their family of three growing to their family of 4!

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Posted 12 years, 2 months ago at 1:28 pm.


Future W&M Grad

January 23, 2012

The funny thing about women growing up and changing their names is that sometimes you don’t realize you already know someone until you see them in person.  The mom of this adorable little one-year-old was actually a sorority sister of mine and through all our emails back and forth to set up the session I didn’t realize we had known each other back in college.    It was fun chatting about our college days while capturing the smiles of their little blue-eyed cutie.


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Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 9:34 pm.

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With Daddy’s Guitar

December 10, 2011

Now that my holiday sessions are done and most portraits orders have been distributed, I can relax and enjoy the newborn sessions that I have scheduled for this month.  This was the first of the newbies: a little 9-day-old baby girl.   Her mom loved her in pink and frilly, so we had a lot of fun playing with accessories.

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Posted 12 years, 5 months ago at 11:06 pm.

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