Florida VACAY 2018

If I were just independently wealthy I'm fairly certain that I'd choose to spend my money helping orphans, traveling around the world and perhaps funding my affinity for coffee and dark chocolate...and maybe a few remodeling projects to funnel my inner "Joanna Gaines"...but I digress...

The point is, I'm a regular SAHM mom with 3 daughters, slowly approaching college and someday perhaps weddings *gasp* and by golly, I want my hubby to retire early so we can have FUN for our last years...

And so...

we budget like the rest of you...we save and save...and we choose where we will spend some of it...

In the more recent years, our girls have opted to use our vacation fund for camp.  It's a phenomenal camp and one in which we have seen such value that we are fine with channeling our moneys towards that end, than perhaps other really cool adventures across the country.

Again, that independently wealthy option looks SOOOO good right about now...

but really, life isn't about things, or even traveling and experiences...Don't get me wrong, they'd be AWEsome...but, I'm pretty sure that when I'm on my death bed (which I'm really hoping that's the way it is..a nice comfy bed and not some type of nightmarish thing because seriously my brain goes there sometimes and it's not a pretty sight...good grief, I can't stay on topic...ANYWAY...) I won't be thinking back on landscapes or flights or even beautiful pictures...but, rather I'll be remembering conversations, checking off that I said all.the.things. and I listened all.the.times. and that I gave lots.of.hugs. 

In other words, I will be remembering our story...the line of relationship that travels through the settings and the details and the numerous plots that take place over a lifetime...however, the most important part of the story will be my characters...

So to that end...is how I tend to capture our "vacations" with my camera.

Every other year, my husband's entire family get themselves down to Florida for an extended Family vacation...it's the whole crew...aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins...and we soak up a week together...

I say all this to give you an idea of how I approach my vacation time...because let's be honest, my camera is HEAVY...I don't want to be lugging it all over me ALL the time. Simultaneously, I have a hard time remembering things as I am climbing my way to yonder, older years...I WANT to capture the moments...and, well, my girls are cute...so there's that too!

I go into MUCH MORE detail about this "philosophy" during my SNAPSHOP classes (WHICH BTW I'm having a class on July 18th in the evening and I have room for at least one more!!!)

But, let me give you the "cliff note" version...

First of all, I tend to think in terms of "story elements"...sooo, if we are walking to the beach, I'm thinking about what story element I want to highlight in order to "remember" the event...

Characters
Plot
Details
Setting

Sometimes I snap a picture of just one, or maybe 5 pictures of "setting"...or maybe I focus in on details, character and plot...

The point is, I think it through, I compose my image, snap it and then I put the camera away until some other story elements forcefully hits my creative senses again...

By doing this, I know that I'm being purposeful, I'm capturing the "story"...when all the pictures are put together, all the elements will be there to make an entire "chapter" of that particular story...AND I can also relax and be IN the moment as well...

Because remember what I said earlier?  It's about RELATIONSHIP...and that requires a CHARACTER to be ACTIVE in the STORY...and considering that I am the main character of my own story, I need to be ALL THERE too!

Here is just a snippet of the images that I'll use to fill a few pages of our Family Yearbook for 2018...I make sure I include the Story Elements...I use Details that will trigger a memory...I snap pictures of the Settings so we can almost "smell" the coconut scent and "feel" the steaming hot ground on our bare feet...I get a few action shots that show the Plot of certain activities (like rock climbing or lazy rivers or water slides)...and I definitely get the Characters...

Each of them composed in different ways...I have a couple handfuls of "tips" on composing images so that it mixes things up, keeps it interesting, but still gets the point across (again more things covered in my Snapshops)

They aren't perfect...I've never claimed to be...but, I do aim for Meaningful...for the Happy and for the Memories to be shared...

















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Summer Reading Ideas 2018

I've had a bunch of people asking about books to read with kiddos this summer...whether it's long car rides or summer reading programs or just wanting to get them away from the "screen time"...I've got a list for you, from which I'm sure you'll find something that will suit your littles (and yourself!)

This is by no means exhaustive...these are just books that I've used with my own daughters over the years...and we've tried MANY...

We've done read alouds, audiobooks, quiet reading time...If you missed my PICTURE BOOK post from awhile ago, it gives not only some good ideas for those (learning ones too!) but also WHY reading is sooo important!  You can check it out HERE

I am in the middle of about 5 other books right now, once I finish them up, I'll have some more to add to this list AND to an Adult Book List (post coming soon!)

Be sure to let me know your opinion of these picks as well! ...AND if you have any to add!!! 


Let's start off with READ ALOUDS!
These are the books that are just fun to read TO the kids...it might be before bed, or maybe in the morning while everyone is eating breakfast.  These are the books that typically have a bit more of the "rich vocabulary" and hearing it roll off the tongue of a parent often makes it easier to comprehend than trying to sound out words on their own...(it's also pretty fun to do voices when appropriate...so soak it up!)

Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
*The Adventures of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Wonder byR.J. Palacio
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Half Magic by Edward Eager
*Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
*Clementine by Sara Pennypacker


*denotes "series" books...you can either keep reading into the next book in the series, or use it as a launching pad to keep them reading on their own once they get the gist of the plot.

If you want to keep them reading all summer, sometimes a series is just what you need!  I've often used the app "Overdrive" to give them Audiobooks alongside the actual books...then they can read along with the narrator...

Juvenile Novels for those quiet reading times:



Princess Academy (series) by Shannon Hale
The Penderwicks (series) by Jeanne Birdsall
Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
Clementine (series) By Sara Pennypacker
Ramona (series) by Beverly Cleary
American Girl (series)


ANY Audiobook by E.B. White as he reads them himself:
Trumpet of the Swan, Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little

Frindle by Andrew Clements
The Vanderbeekers by Karina Yan Glaser
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


For "younger elementary...1-3rd graders"
*please note that most of these are geared more toward girls, as I have daughters...but I've heard Magic Tree House series and Big Nate series have been fun for boys, along with BoxCar children.


Kylie Jean (series) by Marci Peschke
Meghan Rose (series) by Lori Scott
Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

For "older elementary...4-6th graders"


The Unwanteds (series) by Lisa McMann
Inkheart (series) by Cornelia Funke
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

I'm adding this one quickly and I realized that Laura Schaefer has a TeaShop series of books...you can check them out HERE on goodreads.  I'm interested in her style for my youngest daughter, especially.

Littler Women: a Modern Retelling by Laura Schaefer

for teens:



The Selection (series) by Kiera Cass
Ruby Red (series) by Kerstin Gier *this one is fun to listen to because of the British accent*
Between Shades of Gray or Salt to the Sea both by Ruta Sepetys
Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Veronica Roth had a new book come out in 2017 similar to her Divergent series, I'll be picking that up soon to check it out.  It's entitled, Carve the Mark. I've also been reading some other adult fiction that could easily work for Teen reads as well...I'll compile a list for that soon too!


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FAMILY SESSION: Doppelganger beauty

When we first met in the parking lot, I kept thinking, "Hmmm, this beautiful mom looks like someone and I can't figure it out..."

This happens a lot to me...

my memory is slipping friends...

it was all that Diet Pepsi in college...the aspertame, the whateveryoucallitchemicals that ate up my memory cells...

I digress...

I pushed it to the back of my head though, because the littles came with silly energy and we were off on a scavenger hunt!!!

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that my daughters & I have been painting rocks and then leaving them in different locations for my sweet families to find when they meet up with me!

These girlies were excited to see if they could find some!  
And...they did!!!

this cute little "chicken rock" became a fave of the evening!

We laughed and talked about books and summer and twirling in their dresses!!!

Finally, it hit me...oh my goodness, this gorgeous momma looks like the actress Lauren Graham back when she was on Gilmore girls in the year 2000. 

You'll have to google it and see if you agree...

Regardless, it's evident where her daughters get their twinkling eyes, beautiful smiles and gregarious personalities...

These beautiful days of summer leave me contented and smiling! 














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FAMILY SESSION: little old soul

You all know that I have all daughters...

no sons...

that's not a bad thing...or even necessarily the "best" thing...

It's what God thought best for my hubby and me and I'm great with it...

He has such a sense of humor I think though...I never thought I'd be a "girl mom"...when I taught school, I tended to get along better with the little elementary school boys than I did the girls...

I'm still learning my way around emotional hormones, hair straighteners and makeup...I wasn't necessarily a "girlie girl", so I've always felt like I was in new territory or even just treading water some years...

perhaps that's God's way of keeping me humble...

therefore, when I get the opportunity to hang with little men, I relish it!

This little guy didn't disappoint either!

And his mom and dad are surely doing some right things because this little guy will just blow you away with his manners, his gentleness, his compassion...all these big words for just a little guy!

but it's true!!!

I don't think it's because he's innately a people-pleaser OR that he's fearful of mistakes, etc...

rather, he seems a kind, gentle old soul of a boy...

His daddy is his hero and his mommy is his love...

He was a joy and I can't wait to have the chance to watch him grow over the years...














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The best way to contact me is either through Facebook Messaging or emailing me at ctphotomemories@gmail.com

I can't wait to hear from you!
"Teach us to number our days, (savor the moments) so that we may gain a heart of wisdom" ~Psalm 90:12

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