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

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!

View More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfieldView More: http://berksnestphotography.pass.us/pajamaminis_whitfield

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!

Asia & Autumn | Mommy and Me

What do you get when you combine a 2-year-old, matching twirly pink dresses, and a secret garden? This fairytale Mommy and Me session!

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” 
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

I had the absolute pleasure of shooting a Mommy and Me session for Asia & Autumn this past weekend! They are such an energetic pair full of love, laughter, and playfulness and when you combine their cheery personalities with gorgeous matching pink tulle ballgowns, you get a photoshoot that dreams are made of! I went to school with Asia and when she contacted me for a Mommy and Me session, I was overjoyed! We originally had plans for a spring shoot but rain caused us to postpone. Finally this past Saturday on the day of our shoot, we lucked out with a 70 degree summer day. It was absolutely the perfect weather to explore the magical gardens of Surreybrooke. The endless gardens on the property were blooming with beauty, and sweet little Autumn loved to walk around the paths to see what she could discover! Whenever I have the chance to take photos of children, I can’t help but smile as I catch a glimpse of the world through their eyes. Autumn loved watering the flowers, chasing the kitty that walked around the property, and having a tea party with her mommy. Enjoy these photos from our magical morning!

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Fun fact: Asia didn’t show Autumn her dress until the day of the shoot. When Autumn saw her dress she couldn’t wait to put on her pretty princess dress. She spent most of the time at the gardens twirling around in her dress and anytime her flower tiara fell off she wanted it back on immediately! #princessautumn

Thank you Asia for allowing me to capture you and Autumn’s special bond. Now time to schedule a playdate between Autumn and Lucy ❤

The Biggest, the Loudest, the Craziest Party Ever!

A pink-rainbow-Troll-tastic recap of Lucy’s 2nd birthday party!

GUYS…Lucy is TWO – how is that even possible?! These past two years have been nothing short of amazing with our little girl in our lives. She is silly, loving, and so very smart! She sure does keep us on our toes. I am lucky that her birthday fell while on my maternity leave because it has given me actual time to plan a fun party for her!

It was a no brainer this year when deciding on a theme for Lucy’s 2nd birthday party. This girl can practically recite the movie Trolls word for word, not to mention her love for belting out all of the songs. We used Trolls as the main inspiration for the party and that went hand-in-hand with incorporating a whole lot of pink and rainbows as well!

We had such a great time celebrating and I wanted to share some of the pink-rainbow-Troll-tastic party details with all of you!

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Can we all drool over those cake images for a second? Keri at The Farmers Daughter Bake Shop baked up the a cake that was MADE for this theme! It was overflowing with rainbow-y goodness inside and out and tasted absolutely delicious! For the rest of the food for the party, I tried to think of as many rainbow treats as possible, hence the fruit skewers, Rainbow Goldfish, Rainbow Chips Deluxe, and the pretty (but not that great tasting) rainbow popcorn. Though the Million Dollar Dip I made had nothing to do with rainbows, it was a huge hit and I highly recommend it for your next party or get together. We used Wegman’s catering for the sandwich platters and they did not disappoint! Their menu options were much better than the traditional go-to Costco sandwich trays and the same price point!

A shout out to a few other vendors we used: I found the perfect customized banner and cake topper at ShopSwayDesigns. The favor baskets I put together included awesome sound and light bubble guns (a must for bubble obsessed toddlers like Lucy) and wouldn’t have been complete without the adorable Trolls headbands made by BlackBoneBows. For Lucy’s outfit, I found a sweet and affordable rainbow tutu.

love & lots of whit – jen xo