Two things to celebrate!

When Shelby and Connor reached out to me, they had two very important announcements to make!

If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that despite all of the negativity, hurt, and sickness, there are still so many beautiful moments going on all around us and it is so important to remember to celebrate all of the good coming out of this year!

After moving into our new neighborhood, I quickly had the opportunity to start meeting some of the amazing people living around me, including these two cutie’s, Connor & Shelby.

They moved in a few weeks after us and found me via the local neighborhood Facebook group with a request to have photos taken to capture them and their handsome pup, Lincoln, as they became first time homeowners!

But there was one more announcement to make in addition to building their first home together…

A baby boy is on the way! After taking some shots outside, the two lead me inside and I was shocked to see how put together their home was after just one week of moving in. #goals. We have been in our new home for three months and it still doesn’t look as complete as theirs!

I couldn’t be happier for Shelby & Connor as they embark on this next chapter of parenthood, congrats you two!

What things have you celebrated this year? Drop a note in the comments ❤

Grandparents Fill the World with Love | Family

When Destini reached out to my for a surprise shoot for her parents, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to finally get back out there with my camera!

It has been quite some time since my last shoot. After my fall sessions last year, I took a break and planned to get back into booking shoots in the spring. And then, COVID-19 hit. I have been on a hiatus all spring and summer due to uncertainty, fear, and a huge lack of time on my end. When the opportunity came up last minute to take photos for a family whose parents were coming into down to meet the latest member of their family, I couldn’t pass it up! I miss taking photos so much and interacting with all of the amazing people I get to meet along the way.

Enter, the Anthony Family! This beautiful bunch of people were so lovely, and I so enjoyed my summer evening with them! Destini reached out to me because her father was coming to visit from out of town and it would be the first time he met their new baby girl. She wanted to surprise her mom and him with a photoshoot to capture these special times. The shoot took place in our new neighborhood that we are moving into next week, and that made it extra special to be able to meet this family who would soon be our neighbors and to further explore the community (and potential locations for future shoots!) Enjoy!

Anyone else have the sudden urge to go frolic barefoot through the grass? Ah, summertime ❤

xo, Jen

Selling Our Home During a Pandemic

Since buying a house was what prompted my blog in the first place, it seems only fitting that I take it full circle and tell the story about our experience selling our first home.

When I started this blog 7 years ago, my first post was centered around the process of buying of our first home together. Since buying a house was what prompted my blog in the first place, it seems only fitting that I take it full circle and tell the story about our experience selling our first home.

When we officially signed our contract to build a new house back in February (more info on that in a future post), we had no idea what was in store for us and the rest of the world in March.

March came in with a bang and the excitement of building a new home was quickly replaced with feelings of anxiety and fear from all of the headlines about COVID-19, death, and quarantine. March through May we worried about our timing, was this still the right time to sell our house and move into a new home? Would we lose our jobs? How could we possibly list and show our home while the world is closed for business and human contact is essentially cut off? I will say those first few months, we had no idea what was going to happen, but we continued to push onward with all of the preparations as if everything was still on track.

Prepping Our Home to List

Pre-pandemic, we had a list of contractors at the ready to help us check off all of the items in order to get our house ready to put on the market and we planned to list our home at the end of April. Fast forward to April and we realized it was not the time to list our home yet. We still had a lot to do to get the house ready and all of the contractors were closed for business. On top of that, the market was very slow and it seemed that people were hesitant to do the traditional showings due to fear of spreading the virus.

So, we did it ourselves…well, I should rephrase, Bryan did it all! From electrical work, to painting, to drywall, to power washing, to landscaping – and he freaking crushed it! At the time, we were both working full time jobs from home WITH the kids home from daycare which was closed. I still don’t know exactly how we did it all, and I may or may no have some sort of trauma from those few months, but we basically never slept and used anytime we could that was leftover from working and watching the kids to get the house ready to list.

Putting it on the Market

Fast forward to the end of May. Our awesome realtor, Drew, came to the house to ensure the house was ready. He helped us with last minute enhancements and repairs, took photos, wrote up our description of the home, and then BOOM the listing was live June 1.

To our surprise, there really couldn’t have been a better time to list. Because of the pandemic, there were limited houses on the market in our area and the interest rates were at a record low due to economic uncertainty. This creates the perfect market for sellers.

We listed our house on a Monday and by Wednesday afternoon we had 4 offers. I am so grateful the house went under contract so quickly because showing a home while all four of us (and the dog) were home 24/7 was near impossible. Trying to keep the house clean with a 2 and a 4 year old, lugging both kids and Rooney in the car every time we had a showing, and trying to pre-plan to go to a parents house to be able to be on Wi-Fi and work for the day was insanely stressful, and that is putting it mildly. Thank goodness it only lasted three days! We ended up going under contract and accepted an offer over asking price. I can’t stress this enough – if you are even thinking about selling, now is the time.

Moving Day

So a bit of a hiccup in our selling journey…we accepted an offer where the buyer wanted to settle a month sooner than our new build would be complete. What does this mean? Displacement. During a pandemic. BUT, we had a plan if this were to happen. My dad and step-mom SO graciously are allowing us to stay in their home in the interim and we are so so grateful.

Even though we have a place to stay, that doesn’t take away that we then had to plan (and pay) for a double move! We spent weeks packing as much as possible and about a week before the movers were scheduled to come they dropped off boxes and other packing materials and again we had those long sleepless nights.

I literally never want to move again after all that packing. My back, legs, everything was sore for weeks! This past Monday, the movers came and took most of our stuff to storage, Tuesday I spent the day making trips to bring remaining items to my dad’s garage, Wednesday Bryan got everything else, Thursday the cleaners came, and Thursday night we went to the house one last time to say our goodbyes.

The Final Goodbye and Settlement Day

I knew saying goodbye to our home would be hard. This was our first home. We were married in May and moved into the house in August. A few months later we brought our puppy, Rooney into our home. In 2016 we had Lucy, and two years later Conor. This house was where we became a family. These walls have seen it all, the highs and lows and everything in between. The memories we shared together in the house almost 7 years will forever stay in my heart and I thank the house for keeping us safe throughout the years.

As I mentioned, we went to the house one last time to say goodbye. The kids were having a hard time with the move. The first night at my dad’s they were unsure why we weren’t sleeping in our beds anymore and crying because they couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go “home”. Going to the house provided the closure we all needed. Seeing the house empty helped me realize that while it was a wonderful home to us over the years, the real magic was what was inside of those walls. It was us, our family, that made that house a home.

I wanted to create one last memory in the house before we left for good, so after the kids went screaming through the house checking out the emptiness and hearing their echoes bounce off the walls, I had them check the freezer. I had ice cream waiting and together we sat in the middle of the living room on the floor and said our goodbyes while having an ice cream party.

The next day was settlement day, and in true quarantine fashion, we sat outside the settlement lawyers office on a picnic bench, signing our papers in masks. I wish the new buyer a wonderful journey ahead as she gets to start her own story in the house. We handed over the keys, and off we went!

It is such a relief that the selling process is officially over. It was overwhelmingly stressful, but in the end we had limited hiccups and made a decent profit on the house. And now, all we have to focus on is the fun part, MOVING INTO OUR NEW HOME! I will be posting about that once we get into our new home. Currently we are looking at an August 11th settlement date, so stay tuned!

xo, Jen

What Matters the Most

A brief summary of my 2019 and our new family photos where I took a turn in front of the camera ❤

2019 – what a year you have been!

In some ways, the year went by at warp speed, and in others, it’s moved slower than Lucy does when she comes upstairs for bedtime. All in all, without going writing a novel, the year was amazing. There were far more ups than downs which is all anyone could ever ask for. Some of the highlights? We took a vacation this summer for the first time since the kids were born to spend a week in Michigan with my sister and her family. At work, I was able to work on the graphics and AV team once again at our Global Business Meeting in California. In the home office, our team of two grew to a thriving team of five. In terms of my passions, I have stepped up my photography game this year and have had the opportunity to do far more photoshoots than ever before!

The largest and most important highlight was that 2019 was a year of good health and happiness for our family. Bryan and I have been able to embrace the craziness of having a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old and have filled our weekends with family time. We began to really understand that this time is temporary, and even though we may not have a ton of time with friends, date nights, or energy for our own personal hobbies – the time we are spending with the family is what matters the most.

On a whim, on the last weekend of November, we were able to do a family photoshoot with the incredibly talented Ashley Jayde Photography. Before finding Ashley, the original plan was going to be for us to juggle the two kiddos, use a remote and tripod for my camera, and hope for the best. Through a series of very fortunate events, we found Ashley and she captured these gorgeous photos for us at Crown Rose Estate.  I will cherish them for a lifetime and am delighted to share them with you!

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Wishing everyone a beautiful New Year!

xo, Jen

chelsea | maternity photos

Bloom Baby, Bloom!

Earlier this month my beautiful mama-to-be friend Chelsea and I took a Sunday morning stroll through a garden that could have been straight out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The garden belongs to Chelsea’s family friend, Julie Gaver, an incredible woman who I had the opportunity to meet who brings together women in the community through Must Love Shoes. There were gorgeous photo opportunities around every corner, but Chelsea truly stole the spotlight with absolute elegance as she sports her adorable baby bump and radiating pregnancy glow. It’s hard to believe that in three weeks or less this friend of mine will experience the life changing joy of motherhood.

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After leaving the garden, Chelsea and I went to her house to take a couple photos with the rest of the family – her husband Tim (an incredible potter: Sherman Ceramics) and of course their two golden retrievers Tucker & Charlie who are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of their sweet baby sibling!

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Cannot wait to go back next month once baby arrives to capture the new addition to the Sherman family!

Downtown Frederick | Family

A Daddy/Daughter 1950s style sock hop later in the day was the prompt for this retro family stroll through Downtown Frederick!

Almost one year ago, I had the opportunity to do a Mommy & Me shoot among the flowers with Asia and her daughter, Autumn. This time, Asia contacted me to do a Daddy & Me shoot featuring Autumn’s father, Antwan – just in time for Father’s Day!

Antwan and Autumn were going to be attending a Daddy/Daughter sock hop dance later in the afternoon, hence the adorable 1950s style pink ladies jacket Autumn is rocking out with her tutu. For the location, we decided to forgo the planned on natural park setting and head to downtown Frederick for more of that city feel. Being that it was my first time shooting downtown, I didn’t know how easy it would be to navigate around the busy streets filled with people taking in the beautiful Sunday. To my surprise and excitement, everyone was so aware that a photoshoot was going on and would go out of their way to avoid getting in the shot – it ended up being such a fun experience and I look forward to more city photoshoots in the future! Also, I can’t even count the number of people that commented on Autumn’s adorable outfit!

Goal of the session – get some great photos of Autumn with her Dad. Thank goodness, as usual, Asia came to the shoot glammed up and photoshoot ready because the reality of the session was that in order to get said great photos of a busy 4 year old, Mom ended up having to join the photoshoot! I can’t tell you enough how great it was spending the morning with this family, they radiate love and adventure and that shines through in these photos!

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There is no greater gift than spending time with family.

To end with a quote from Asia herself:

Becoming a parent will give you a strength like you’ve never known, love like you’ve never felt, and an unimaginable fear. But for that child you will break all chains and push through all obstacles.

— Asia Holland

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P.S. If you are local to Downtown Frederick, check out The Perfect Blend Cafe! ❤

 

 

The Conor Express

What do you get when you combine a one year old and a cake? Take a peek…

Our little snuggly baby has officially graduated to our big squirmy one year old and i’m sitting here still trying to figure out where the past year went. Time went fast with Lucy, but with Conor it has been flying by at TURBO speed. It’s hard to even remember Conor when he was a tiny little infant, especially since now he is off the charts in his height and weight and I struggle even trying to hold him! The past year has been incredible seeing his personality shine through. He has a devious little sense of humor (just like his sister!) and has such a knack for picking up on all things physical. We gave him a golf club and he instantly knew to hit a ball. We put food in front of him the first time and he picked it up and perfectly and placed it right in his mouth. And, I swear, his throwing arm is already better than mine! I think we have a future athlete on our hands.

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For Conor’s first birthday party, we kept it very small with just a few close relatives to join in on the celebrations. With so much going on – it made sense to keep it minimal this year. Even though it was a small gathering, that didn’t stop me from going a little overboard on trying to play into his train themed party. We decided to continue the theme of a train party to play off of his train themed nursery.

The cute train themed paper goods (cake topper, cupcake toppers, food signage) came from BlueOakCreations. A lot of the small items you will see (the fun conductor hats, lantern, wooden train letters, whistle) are from my last minute impromptu visit to the Brunswick Heritage Museum where I had the pleasure of meeting the museum owner and exploring the gift shop inside. I am really looking forward to going back to the museum with the kids once the model train exhibits open back up next month! Another highlight of the party, was the whimsical smash cake and cupcakes designed by our favorite local baker, The Farmers Daughter Bakeshop. This was our second cake by Keri, and I just love the creativity she used with the icing! Conor, as you can see below, managed to demolish that cake in about 5 seconds flat and required an IMMEDIATE bath afterwards. Another big win in all of the party planning, was getting the party catered by Chipotle. After struggling with a food idea, a friend of mine suggested a Taco Train (thank you Megan) and having Chipotle cater made it way too easy to do and at a really great price.

I want to thank all of our parents for their help with parts of the party, and especially my mom & stepdad for hosting it at their home. The kids are so lucky to have such amazing grandparents, and having 6 our of 7 of them joining in on Conor’s big day was so special!

I hope you enjoy scrolling through these photos from Conor’s party!

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Cannot wait to see you grow up my baby boy ❤ We love you so much Conor!

Christmas Cards and Cookies

Can I just use these photos on the rest of my Christmas cards for the rest of my life? Not sure I can get any better than this!

You guys. This was officially first year that I was A.) on time with sending out Christmas cards and B.) had a real family photo on the card.

I have my friend and fellow photographer Tammy to thank for that. She captured these super fun Christmas pajama photos for us in her NEW home studio. If you are in the northern, VA area and need any photos Tammy, owner of Berks Nest, is where you need to go. The kids felt right at home in her studio and you can see evidence of that with their huge smiles below!

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For any of you wondering….how did I get my husband, Bryan, to wear these coordinating family pajamas? Simple. He had no idea until the morning of the shoot. Once the car was loaded and we were ready to go I hopped in the car with mine on and his and the kids in a bag. Not enough time for him to try to get out of it!

#whenmomishappyeveryoneishappy

Merry Everything!

And so I’m offering this simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two – although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you!

This year feels a bit different, I felt a sense of completeness as I hung up stocking #4 for the first time. Lucy & Conor truly make this holiday (and every holiday) feel magical. It’s like I relive my own childhood as I see the wonderment in their eyes.

Reflecting on the past year, I still can’t believe we have TWO kids. Conor has been such a blessing to our family this year, and I was so excited to show him his very first Christmas tree. I am a bit obsessed with the teal and red bulbs we have on our tree this Christmas. While the kids are small, hanging anything too fragile seems a bit risky, so instead we used mostly stuffed ornaments and I just love how whimsical it is!

As much as I love the idea of making our own memories and traditions, there is nothing like bringing back the best ones from your childhood. When we were young, my dad always put a huge model train under the tree. This was no ordinary train, it had real sounds, lights, smoke puffs, you name it! We even would set up a little village with homes and tiny people in fake snow. I haven’t quite made it to that level yet, but in the meantime we have a beautiful little train set by FAO Schwarz that simply mesmerizes the kids as they watch as it passes by.

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And although it’s been said many times, many ways…

I feel like i’ve hit the jackpot with these sweet & silly kids.

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Masha and the Bear

To say Lucy loves Masha is an understatement. And, as proof, Bryan, Lucy, and I can recite every single word of every single episode verbatim.

If you have little ones, there is a good chance you know about the Russian animated series called Masha and the Bear. To say Lucy loves Masha is an understatement. And, as proof, Bryan, Lucy, and I can recite every single word of every single episode verbatim.  I am pretty sure every polite thing Lucy has learned has been from her incredible daycare, and every naughty thing she has learned has been from Masha. For Halloween this year, Lucy wanted to dress as Masha, and Conor – by default – well…you guessed it…will be the Bear. It is going to be a sad, sad day when I can’t match these two cutie pies costumes together.

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This past weekend, I dressed Lucy in her adorable handmade Masha costume made by Anna Fanosyan, owner of AnyutasCouture. She loved her costume so much that we left it on for half of the day, including our trip to find a pumpkin and our stop to the bakery (cake pop stains may or may not be a part of her costume now). For the past month and a half, Lucy has been asking me, “Is it Halloween yet?” so I am delighted to finally have her wake up tomorrow morning and say YES, it is Halloween!

Conor Boy’s cuddly bear costume makes him the perfect Bear to Masha and he was more fascinated with playing with the grass and mulch than taking photos. We are so excited for Conor to experience his first ever halloween and push him around in the stroller as we trick-or-treat through the neighborhood tomorrow night.

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Wishing all of the little trick-or-treaters out there a happy and safe halloween!