The cake smash that had no cake smashing.

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The cake smash that had no cake smashing.

I've been a mom for seven years, and with every birthday, I'm always surprised I kept children alive that long.  (You can send me my Mother of the Year plaque whenever you want...)

First year of Matthew's life was the longest year of my own.  I was raising him alone for six months while his dad was off with the Army, and I've never felt exhaustion like that in my life.  First year of Matthew's life did not fly by -- I felt every second of every minute of every day.

Charlie, though -- I blinked and now he's turning one on the 24th.  One whole year old.  Not sure why this time around was different.  Maybe it's because I have two kids now and I have to divvy up my attention between them, my husband, and the dog.  Maybe it's because I don't feel alone like I did when I had Matthew.  Maybe it's because my brain can't handle it, so it shuts down periodically so as to not overwhelm me.

Who knows.

What I do know is, I planned this session to the T -- location, time of day, colors, clothes, props, everything.  What I didn't plan for was my son -- who will take a tuna fish sandwich out of my mouth so he can eat it -- not eating the cake.

Go figure.

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N Family

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N Family

Kids have their own agendas, and either you get on board or you get run over.  Amiright?!  This shoot was basically my workout for the year.  (Not that I ever workout, but if I did, I'd meet the year's quota.)  Mom made the best out of a crazy situation, and here some of my favorite shots.  :)

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What's in the box?!

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What's in the box?!

Seriously, though, what is it with kids and cats and boxes?  We ordered a playard for our littlest, and it came in the biggest box ever.  Should have just bought a big box instead of the playard!

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S-R Engagement!

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S-R Engagement!

Mannnnnn, I've got to tell you -- this couple was fun to work with.  And having fun makes my job even better!

It was a beautiful day in Alabama and the colors were just starting to change for fall.  They wanted some images to commemorate their engagement, and I think these came out beautifully! (If I do say so myself! :))  They selected the images they wanted printed, and those images will stand the test of time.  Passing down photos to your kids' kids?  Priceless!

Thank you both for being wonderful!

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B Family

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B Family

The National Military Family Association held a contest a few months ago for military families.  The winners -- at more than a dozen different installations all over the world -- won a free photoshoot.

What an amazing experience working with this family was!  I was so fortunate to be paired with them.  I really wanted to shoot in their home, and they were totally game.  Mama had a baby, and Baby was a treat to work with!

Here are some of my favorite photos.  You'll also find them around my site.  ;)

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Baby!

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Baby!

So, after 13 years of being pregnant, I finally had my son, Charlie, in February.  It's been a long few months, but he's just such a happy baby and my family is very blessed.  Here are some newborn shots I took of my littlest guy.

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Maldonado-Sanchez Wedding

It has been so, so long since I last updated.  I've been taking pictures, but life got in the way.  We moved from Korea back to Alabama, and I'm so very pregnant.  :)  As of today, I am 34 weeks pregnant, but I feel like I am 34 months pregnant. I had the privilege of photographing my brother's wedding back in September.  (Yesssss, I am just now posting the photos.)  My brother and his now-wife were married in beautiful Central Park in New York City, and it happened to be the same day of a protest, which made everything that much more interesting.  What a crazy day!  Here are just a few images from that day.

 

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Yongsan Family Park, Seoul, South Korea

We have stumbled upon really random things living in Korea, and it's always as much of a head-scratcher as much as it is awesome. My husband and I took our son to Yongsan Family Park to just hang out, and I brought my camera, hoping to capture some photos of Matthew playing.  We stumbled upon a pen of rabbits!  I have no idea why they were there, but I asked in my very best sign language if Matthew could pet the bunnies and some random person said okay!  (At least that's what I chose to believe.)  So, he got to pet the bunnies, and for about five minutes, I was the best mom ever.

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Easter at the Graces, 2014

So, I am not the best parent in the world.  Thankfully, I don't claim to be, otherwise I'd have some 'splainin' to do.  When I have to do things with my son that require him to be creative, I cringe pretty much the whole time.  I am a perfectionist by nature, and creative license should not be issued unless one is deserving.  (See first sentence.)  However, I desperately try to keep my mouth shut and encourage him.  I have the stubs where my fingers used to be to prove it. We didn't have an Easter egg hunt this year because, well, see my first sentence.  Instead, the Easter bunny brought presents and stuff to decorate eggs.  Since my son decided waking up at 6:20 AM was a great idea and I decided it most certainly was not a great idea, I have no pictures of him opening his presents.  Here's what happened when I did wake up, though.

 

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Filming of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Seoul, South Korea

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Filming of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Seoul, South Korea

So, have you heard there's going to be a new Avengers movie?  There is!  And they are filming in Seoul, South Korea, not too far from where my family and I live.  So, we headed to the Mapo Bridge/the Han River, where they were supposed to be filming today.  Did we see anything remotely exciting? No.

We saw where they held the actors' trailers and a bunch of Korean-secret-service type of people standing around, guarding the blocked off roads/bridge.  Was I bummed?  Little bit.  But... The Cherry Blossoms are blooming!  It's my favorite time of year in Korea, and I was glad I (at least, for crying out loud) was able to capture these images.

 

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Seoul Fortress, Inwangsan, South Korea

So, I am thinking this hiking thing is going to be a regular occurrence with the Grace family.  We went to Seoul Fortress today.  From Discovering Korea Travel & Culture Blog:

Hiking Seoul Fortress (서울성곽) is one of the best ways to experience a conspicuous remnant of Seoul’s ancient past. First constructed in 1396 – just five years after King Taejo founded the Joseon Dynasty – the earthen wall was built to join the ridge lines of the four small mountains that surrounded Seoul proper – Namsan (남산)  in the south, Inwangsan (인왕산) to the west, Naksan (낙산) to the east, and Bugaksan (북악산) in the North. Although much of the old Seoul Fortress wall has been torn down, significant portions remain and others are being rebuilt.

It took everything in me to not pass out from the hike, but I am glad we made it as far as we did.  I mean, we didn't make it to the top, but I also didn't tuck and roll to my death, so it was a win.

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Mount Gwanak, Gwacheon, South Korea

It certainly has been a while since I posted photos from a family outing.  Really, it's because it's too cold to go out so there are no photos to upload.  Haha.  It's been a mild winter, especially compared to the states, but it's hard to leave a home with warm floors to brave the cold! So, the family and I took a trip to Mount Gwanak in Gwacheon.  I am a true city girl -- not even a little outdoorsy!  To say I was scared hiking up the mountain would be an understatement, but I am glad we did it.  I didn't make it to the top, but I am glad I accomplished what I could!

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Seodaemun Prison, Seoul, South Korea

About a month ago, my husband and I went on a trip to visit Seodaemun Prison here in Seoul.  The prison was wrought with horrifying displays of what the Koreans went through when the Japanese invaded.  It was heartbreaking to say the least.  Definitely glad we didn't bring our four-year-old!  

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W Kids

These kids?  Are probably the sweetest teenagers you'd ever meet.  Every session should be as great as this one was!

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What walking around with your family can bring.

So, my husband insisted (read: nagged) me about taking my son to a playground with him.  I was tired, but he bribed me with food, and food?  Is my kryptonite.  There is so much beauty everywhere.  Here are some of the things we saw.

P.S.  Thank you, Tom, for your persistence.

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