Monthly Archives: July 2017
It’s NO secret that our family LOVES all things Disney and today we wanted to share with you why we think the Disney Cruise is the bomb…. dot com!! When Linc was three, we decided it was time to for our first Disney family vacation! We packed ourselves up, flew down to Orlando and spent a week here visiting the Disney Parks and especially Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We loved it so incredibly much that we decided to move here! I mean, we also had life long friends living in Celebration so that was part of our visit and kind of sealed the deal on our choice to move haha! We’ve been living here for over a year and we’ve been around the parks a few times more than we can count, and I think it’s safe to say we have some tricks and tips up our sleeves! We decided back in March that it was time for our family to experience our first Disney cruise. We had been hearing so many amazing things about the magic on board and that once you go, you just become addicted! We were curious to try it for ourselves and let me tell you, addicted does not even cover it. Once you go once, you are hooked! The Disney Cruise line is phenomenal friends! It is every bit as magical as you can imagine and of course, every bit as amazing and magical as the Disney parks! I swore up and down that 3 was the magical age to bring your little one to Disney… but now I’m singing a different tune.
While we were cruising we learned a few things and one of the most important take away lessons that we felt personally was that if you have a little one the Disney Cruise Line is the way to go OVER the Disney parks and here are the 5 reasons why! (Now these are just our personal opinions and what works best for our family as well as others we know well! You have to figure out what is right for your family!)
- Absolutely Everything is Already Taken Care of for you! You don’t have to worry about where you are going to eat for dinner or where you will eat for lunch or what the days plans are going to be (except for when you are at port if you have an excursion planned) because the cruise line has that all planned out for you! It’s genius and wonderful and amazing! When you arrive on the ship they let you know when you will be dining and where and trust me, the dining does NOT disappoint! Your room is taken care of and it is immaculately cleaned and prepared for you every day. If you need a nap, you just go to your room and it’s OK! Your cruise director has a plethora of activities and entertainment for all ages at all times of the day! There is nothing for you to do except wake up, chose your activities and as the dining room requests “be their guest!”. When you visit the parks, it can be overwhelming with all the choices and activities and magic to choose from! It is still overwhelming for us and we live here! On the cruise, the magic is all around you and it will find you whether your little ones need to rest, or you choose to be incredibly busy! You will experience everything!
- Character Meet and Greets Without the Crazy Hot Lines: The characters are on board the ship as well and you know exactly where they will be and what time you need to be there to greet them. You can go early to avoid the “lines” and if you do have to wait, you will be indoors in the AC and out of any rain! There are also opportunities to meet special characters and you can choose to sign up for them early when you book! You can meet them every night you are on the ship or you can choose to avoid them if you know that is something your little one might not like. You can design the vacation that is perfect for you! Linc did not want to wake up early to meet any of the characters and on the day we decided to meet stitch he decided he would rather finish the movie by the pool! When I say movie by the pool, ya’ll it’s like drive in movie style. The movie screen is HUGE and you can swim and watch or lay out on the lounge chairs and watch, or as Tuck did… eat all the ice cream your stomach can handle and watch! The best part about the cruise line is that you are there and you can go and do as you please! We did get to met Tianna at her restaurant and she spent time at each table talking with every child that was there. Linc even received a special kiss which made his entire night! We also met Jake and Sophia at their pirate and princess party which was an hour and a half long dance party! That was awesome!
- Disney’s Oceaneer Club: Each ship offers amazing recreation for kids of all ages! They have the “it’s a small world nursery”, the “oceaneer club”, the edge tween club and the vibe for the teens! Since Linc was just old enough to go to the oceaneer’s club we decided to pop in for orientation thinking it would be fun for him to at least see it, but you know… it’s a family vacation and he wouldn’t be spending much time there. Boy were we wrong! The club was so incredibly fun and inviting (designed partially after Andy’s room from toy story, the wandering oaken from Frozen and something like a super hero’s lair from Marvel) that Linc refused to leave. We had to bribe him to come out and hang out with us! He woke up early on our first full morning on the ship and begged us to drop him off specifically for training and web slinging with Spiderman! Tuck and I had no idea what to do with ourselves for our free time! We enjoyed the adult only pool area on the serene deck and then tried to pick Linc up an hour later but he refused. It was training time with Captain America (seriously, THE Captain America was really there) so we wandered out and kept ourselves busy until lunch time when we forced Linc to come out and hang with us. You could honestly take two separate vacations if you wanted that’s how amazing the kids clubs are! You could have your own adult vacation with your spouse and your children could have their own time hanging out with the youth directors and all the fun characters! They will feed them in the kids club and they have on going activities from sun up to midnight! We kept Linc away the second day because we were afraid he would stay all day long and we wouldn’t ever see him again! I’m dead serious you guys, we avoided the club at all costs which was hard because our stateroom was on the same floor!
- Dinners! The dinners on the cruise are phenomenal and unlike at the parks you don’t have to plan anything! When you attend your first dinner you are introduced to the wait staff that you will have the entire time on your cruise! This is wonderful because they really get to know your family. By the time our last night came our waiters would already have a coke waiting for me and milk waiting for Linc. They would have the wine we ordered already set out and waiting for Tuck. They would make us laugh and preformed the most amazing magic tricks for Linc! They always knew to ask Tuck if he would like to order 2 desserts! If you don’t like your order, it’s OK… you can just switch it up and try something different. Nothing on the menu that your little one might like but they loved the dinner from last night, great! It’s no problem, they will find a way! It’s always dinner and something extra magical! And hey… want to try a bit of everything?! Go for it. Want two appetizers and two desserts… of course! I sometimes still dream about our dinners on the cruise! They were some of the best meals I’ve ever had. Right after dinner, we would walk around the ship which was a nice time because there was often live music playing and kids dancing! I think I loved it so much because it was just full of children and families! Kids would be dressed up in costumes for dinner and there was just laughter and joy everywhere. At Tianna’s restaurant, they played jazz music and invited all the kids to dance wildly which Linc adored! It was a true family affair and it’s the way Disney should be!
- It’s Not Only Disney, It’s An Adventure to a New Place! Not only are you getting the Disney experience (meeting Mickey and other characters, watching disney movies while swimming in the pool,watching live theater shows every night) but you are traveling to a new place that is possibly a new country! It’s an adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life and your doing it Disney Style! We took a Bahamian Cruise so we ended up on Disney’s Castaway Cay which is just gorgeous. Linc had a blast swimming to the sunken ship in the middle of the island where he could slide down the waterslide! The water was freezing but that was not stopping him! Disney thinks of everything so even though we didn’t have an excursion planned, there was more than enough activities that we could do (and we are an activity driven family!) While we were there, a stormed rolled in and we decided to head back to the boat early. This was genius because while everyone else stayed on Castaway we met up with friends and sipped hot chocolate in the hot tubs, enjoyed ice cream and watched the Lion King by the pool before dinner! The kids even got to ride the water slide a few times without waiting in line!
- Bonus 6 Reason: MOVIES: If you happen to be cruising at the time of a new disney movie, you could be the first to view it before it opens! During our cruise we met new friends who were telling us about this! They are frequent cruisers and were able to watch Frozen before it even premiered and was released in the US!
We loved every moment of our Disney Cruise! Linc is obsessed and as soon as we got off of the ship, he asked when we could go back! In hindsight, we wished we had thought to do the Disney Land and Sea (which is both the cruise and the parks) before coming down for Mickey’s Not So Scary.
As a 3 year old, Linc wasn’t truly able to do much at the Disney Parks. We were really limited to the Magic Kingdom and even then, there weren’t a whole lot of rides that Linc wanted to do. He was in love with all the characters and for that I will forever be grateful because that experience was magical! It was one I will never forget! That is where I believe the true Disney Magic lives. There is absolutely nothing like seeing your child hug their favorite character and have a conversation and that character come to life! It’s still my most favorite part of Disney to this day and I hope it never gets old!
The cruise was a completely different experience and one that was magical for our whole family! There was soo much for everyone to do that we weren’t able to fit it all in! There is still so much left for us to explore on the ship and we already have ideas and experiences we are planning for our next trip in March!
So if you are planning a Disney trip soon and you have a little one, please take a moment to consider the Disney Cruise! The Magic Kingdom and the parks will always be here!
But speaking as someone who brought her 3 year old here and loved it…. in hindsight I wish we had taken the cruise first!
It’s much more magic for your hard earned vacation time and it’s something that truly EVERYONE can enjoy!!
Want a Bonus activity that we were shocked about and had us rolling in laughter that proves Disney Cruising is for everyone of all ages?! Head over to our instagram account and watch our instagram stories!! Trust me… you won’t want to miss this! 😉
I’m a boy mama so I live and breathe all things boy every day of my life! I also have learned over the past 5 years (gosh I can’t believe my little guy is 5 now) that there are certain little tricks and certain elements that you just need to embrace if you want to capture little boys in camera in their raw, natural element have them still be endearing, joyful and full of that boyhood magic! I don’t even want to waste time by mincing words here, I just want to get straight down to business because guess what: that how boys are right?!
You can’t just show up and take your time with boys! You have to be ready to go! So after all my years of working with children and families and after my 5 years of being a boy mom and having my own little stinker be my subject, here are 5 of my very best tips and little important things to remember to help you have the BEST TIME when little boys step on your scene:
- Embrace the Movement! Most boys are wild! Ok, that’s probably not true, I am sure there are many many boys that aren’t crazy like my little man is 100% percent of the time, but the truth of the matter is that all boys are usually in constant motion and like to be active. Embrace that movement and give them something to do! Task them, give them an activity or engage them in something requires them to put their body in a stop-go motion! This will immediately gain their attention and bring out their personality! My little man is often times best photographed during that crazy before witching hour time when he is HYPER! It’s his natural energy and it’s real, it’s raw and there are no forced poses or faces there! I’m capturing his true, uninhibited personality in those moments! These moments are when the best candid moments happen and I can let my guard down and forget about directing him. I can catch him in his best little boy silly moments when he is completely acting up and his own special magic is running wild!
- Crash and Burn! Talking about letting them go wild, most boys I know will run that energy hard and then crash and burn! This is why it’s always great to keep your camera out and at the ready! I keep my camera usually somewhere near my kitchen since that’s the hub of our house. This way when my little man has one of his rare, quiet moments I am already prepared to capture it. These moments can be where they are totally immersed in playing alone quietly or whether they just happen to fall asleep right where they are sitting! It’s totally up to you but here at my house, those are what we like to call winning moments! Sometimes, when I am out shooting a family with little boys, these rare moments might be sitting with a parent and snuggling or day dreaming off in a field! Any moment where there isn’t a ton of energy and movement is a moment where I want to make sure I snap a quick shot! Usually with boys, you have to be quite stealthy too because once they see you coming, oh boy that quiet moment is over!
- Talk the Talk (and usually it’s bathroom talk!): Whenever I’m shooting ANY child, I”m always having a conversation with them! I’m always asking them questions about their favorite TV shows, their favorite toys, what they love, what they don’t love, etc! With boys however, the conversation is a bit different! Boys I have learned over the years (sadly because I am a proper girl) LOVE bathroom talk! If you want a laugh or a natural smile, start talking about potty words and bam, I’m telling you it works every time. Beyond that, my wish is that you embrace all the different emotions and having a genuine conversation whether a child is 2 or 22 is a great way to capture those! Just make sure you are ready to click and that you have already established a good relationship and the camera isn’t an issue! Conversation happens when you have that relationship first!
- Play A Game! This has worked for me a million times over and when Linc was 1-2 years old, it was THE ONLY WAY, I was able to take any photos of him! Playing a game with them and it can be a simple game (like slap this spot on the wall faster than mommy, which is how I got Linc to pose for his clark kent shoot when he was 18 months old) to the games we play now which are more elaborate that he creates ( mommy you be the dragon and I will darth vadar ninja)! Being a part of their fantasy world allows you not only capture their magic and their personalities of play but also allows you to gain their trust so you can capture those beautiful candids, those personal portraits and their real, raw emotions!
- If you build it they will come! This last tip is something that I have been “coerced” into learn in the past few years and I say that with all of the love! I am all about the natural, candid moments but sometimes you just have to create the moments in order for them to fall into place, especially when your boys get a bit older or your little ones aren’t a fan of the camera. I’m talking about PLANNING! Sometimes I will see a moment happen and dang it, if I’m just not quick enough to catch it, or maybe it’s in the wrong lighting, or maybe I see it but I can quite convince my subject to finagle it in just the right way. This is where planning comes in handy and re-creation can really make “the magic happen!” I had a moment where Linc was on main street in Disney one day watching a parade and he was enthralled, but the lighting was harsh and we were rushed for time! I knew I couldn’t make it happen and it wouldn’t be the best image. The following evening I knew we would back and I knew it would be a much better parade. I grabbed Linc a giant lollipop, sat front and center on main street and let that magic happen! To date, it’s one of my most favorite images I have ever taken! Sometimes a little planning can go a long a way.
- Always be willing to get a little dirty! There is nothing more fun than getting dirty, wet or both! Whenever I go on a session I tell ALL of my clients, especially if they are boy mom’s to pack an extra change of clothes in the car (pajamas are the best!) I even pack a pair myself because I know that at one point or another in the session, we are all going to get a bit dirty and that is perfectly fine by me! There is nothing more that my son loves than to dig in the dirt, jump in puddles (the muddier the better) dig in the sand or run wild through the grass barefoot! If he can do all of that and more, he will have the time of his life! I can’t tell you how often I have to clean my gear because my poor camera see’s the dirt too! I am known for playing leaf monster, straw monster, swamp thing and more! If it’s raining outside… GREAT! Let’s go grab our rain jackets and rain boots and go jump in the puddles! Rainy days should be captured too! Boys will be boys and they love to get dirty. They love to go on adventure hunts and search out worms and bugs and all the creatures, so hand in hand thats where I go too! I always put on my hunter’s and go off on sessions ready to get down and dirty and usually it’s in those moments where you can grab the best candid action shots!
I love being a boy mom and I love that it has opened me up to not only a ton of adventures but an adventurous style of shooting photography! There are no boring days in our house thanks to my little man over here and you won’t find me just standing behind my camera anymore. Nope, shooting my little boy has left me rolling around, jumping, dodging and even underwater!
I hope that you can find at least one of these tips helpful when you are out there shooting your own boys! I hope that you find yourself shooting many of their adventures and that while you are shooting it opens you up to your own adventures in shooting just like it has done for me!
I don’t often write about my husband! He doesn’t like the spotlight and in fact, it was his job to stay out of it in a big way for his and our safety! But, have you ever heard a song on the radio and it just takes your breath away and makes you feel all the feels?! I’m talking thinking all the thoughts and really ALL THE FEELS?! Phillip Phillips, home did that to me yesterday morning as I was on the drive home from taking Linc to camp. It was so bad that I completely missed my exit and had to drive 5 miles out of my way towards Tampa ya’ll! Yikes! But that is besides the point! I’ve heard this song a million times but yesterday, it just spoke to me in a different way. They say home is where the heart is and honestly that couldn’t ring more true to me now more than ever. I always thought that my home would be in Virginia Beach, where I was born and raised and where my family is and has been their entire lives. But now, I truly believe with all that I am that home doesn’t exist in four walls. Home isn’t alive in the area you might live in where your mail is delivered or your postal code. No… it’s way more simple than that. Home is where your heart is and friends… that can be different for every single person out there. My home exists where my people are and it took me a long time to learn that! It took me until yesterday morning to learn that as long as my people are near me, I can make just any place my home!
“Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home”
Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home”
We’ve been married for almost 8 years now and while the time seems crazy to me, I mean 8 years WOW… I look back on all of our adventures and I feel like we’ve been together forever! It hasn’t been easy and it still isn’t easy some days, but truly Tuck is my home!
It’s easy for me to see him as a normal guy. He’s just my husband and he’s Linc’s daddy and those are normal roles… but ya’ll he is anything but normal. He’s kind of awesome and he’s a real hero and I’m not just saying that because of all he does for us on a daily basis. If I could only tell you what he has done in his life and all that he has accomplished before he met me and in the job he has done before I asked him to take a safer one… he truly is one incredible hero! One day when Linc is old enough to truly understand what his daddy did, goodnes ya’ll it will blow his mind!
But the fact is, he is a hero at home too because those lyrics in that song ring so true! With all that we have been through in these 8 years ya’ll… woah!
But that’s not why I’m writing this blog today! I’m writing for you….
Why is it that we get so settled down in our lives or in our ways that we don’t necessarily go and do the things that we want to do? Maybe its out of fear or maybe it’s because we listen to the voices in our head that say it’s not the right time to do this or do that. Maybe it’s because we are listening to others around us that for selfish reasons (and who can blame them) don’t want us to try something different or move away or leave the safe path behind. But friends…. we only get one life and I’m here to tell you that we all NEED to step out and go and do these things! To find out where our home really is… whether home is in a different place, a different job, or a different person!
Tuck has always been able to do this for me: to tell me to settle down, to stop listening to the doubts and the fears. He pushes me to be better and to challenge myself! Who is that person for you?! If you don’t have someone… BE THAT PERSON FOR YOURSELF UNTIL YOU FIND THAT PERSON!
Right now, I’m here to tell you home isn’t in four walls like I used to think it was. Home isn’t always where you grew up… like I thought it was. Home isn’t even staying in your comfort zone.
Home might beyond your front door. It might be somewhere far away actually or in a place that for a little while makes you very uncomfortable. Home might be in a person even… it’s in two people for me.
You won’t ever know until you go out there and find out for yourself.
So GO…. FIND OUT!
You won’t know what your home is until you leave it…
Tuck made this place my home….
so who makes yours?! what makes yours?