This years trip to the beach was the best yet, except for the fact that we thought it would be a good idea to bring our dog with us. Ha! Other than the dog, the wildcard this year was of course, the two-year-old. On last years trip, he was completely obsessed with the water. As in, constantly crawling into the waves and laughing while getting hit in the face with salt water. He was fearless. It was really fun to watch but also a little exhausting.
Knowing that he has developed a healthy fear of things over the past year, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The afternoon we arrived at the beach, a summer storm had just blown through and it was dreamy out. Slight cloud cover, dark clouds in the distance, cool air. Just dreamy. We took the kids down to the beach, fully clothed, for a bit just to get our fix in before hitting the beach first thing in the morning. The big kids were so excited. They love the beach love that we have a tradition of visiting the same place every year.
We unloaded from the car, put the baby in the sand, and all eyes were on him. What was he going to do??? He was very curious at first. He loved the sand and didn’t seem interested in exploring. He didn’t seem to notice the water at all. Finally, bored with his lack of reaction, the big kids ran toward the water and began to play and look for seashells. The baby looked on as they got closer and closer to the water. He followed. All the way to the waters edge. And then he wasn’t so sure.
You get the picture. He spent the next few days in love with the sand and unsure of the water. It really was kinda nice for my mama heart. I didn’t have to constantly worry about him running into the ocean and drowning. We were able to coax him into the water from time to time to cool off but he wasn’t thrilled with it. And someone had to be holding him. And he would only go into the most shallow area where water was barely touching him.
Until the last 30 minutes on the last day of our trip. And then, all of a sudden, it clicked. And he was walking into the water and sitting in it, playing so peacefully. You better believe I grabbed my camera so fast because it was a moment that I had been waiting for!
What about the big kids? Of course, they had a blast. Fighting was kept to a minimum. They played together nicely. And did well staying up late. My oldest spent a lot of time at the beach with her camera in hand. She is falling more and more in love with the art and I am hoping to get her a nice camera someday soon. It melts my heart that she loves something as much as I do. My middle spent a huge chunk of time looking for seashells. He loves science and nature and looking for shells really feeds that part of his soul. Plus it is a peaceful activity that I think he seeks out sometimes to get a little space from the chaos. I have always loved walking the beach to look for shells so this was a great thing for us to do together every day.
We stayed in a townhouse (thank you VRBO) that has a community pool. This was SUCH a great asset during the middle of the day when it is just too hot to be at the beach with little people. And bonus that the pool was literally right out our front door. Everyday our routine was basically the same, wake up early (because my children have yet to embrace “sleeping in”. ever. especially not on vacation) We would pack the cooler and head to the beach by 8am or so except for the one morning we were there at sunrise having donuts on the beach. Which was amazing. After about 2-3 hours on the beach we would pack up and head back to the condo for a mid-morning break. Kids would rest and watch cartoons while the adults fixed lunch. After lunch the baby would nap (in a closet. for real) and daddy would take the bigs swimming. When the baby woke up, we would meet them at the pool. After a couple hours of swimming we all came in to shower and get dressed. Every night we went out to dinner followed by a sunset walk on the beach. Every day looked the same but they were all a little different and so much fun.
We normally take our annual trip later in the summer but this year we went as soon as school got out. It was an awesome way to kick off summer break but now we are left feeling a little sad that the annual beach trip is already over. I am trying to work on my husband and see if I can sneak in a beach weekend later this fall:)
We have been doing this trip for several years now and there are a few things that I absolutely cannot live without at the beach. I thought I would share them in case anyone needed some suggestions. Without further delay, the things that I am loving right for the beach right now are:
Pacific Breeze Pop Up Tent: Y’all we have had a lot of beach tents over the years. This one is life changing. It opens and closes in seconds. SECONDS. There are no weird poles to work with and you don’t have to twist it in a weird way to get it to fold. You pull a cord. Simple as that. Pull a cord to open it. Pull a cord to fold it. It is glorious. Just ask my husband:)
Stansport Beach Chair: We love these chairs. They fold up small and are easy for both adults and kids to use.
Puddle Jumper: This quite literally saved us. Of course, we constantly keep an eye on our children but with three of them it gets a little crazy at times. We kept this on the baby and it gave us a little extra peace of mind. No, it won’t save your child’s life nor does it give you a free pass to let them out on their own. But it adds a little extra protection and that is always nice.
Dicapac: Wonder how I get DSLR big camera photos in the water? This bad boy is how. It doesn’t seem like much but it is amazing. I have had it for a couple years and have used it in the pool too and I love it.
Go Pro Hero: I have told so many people this but if you have never had a GoPro, they are a blast. Especially at the beach. I suggest renting one before committing to buying but they are a blast. I know they are typically used for video but I actually really love them for still photography in the water too. If you are interested in renting first, I love renting from BorrowLenses.com (this link gets you a code for $20 off your first rental!)
As a bonus, don’t forget to bring a good book. Of course, if you are going with kids you probably won’t get any time alone to read until after they are in bed but one can dream, right? I just finished this book and it is phenomenal. The Nightingale If you need a good beach read (or anywhere read for that matter), this is it.
Now, for the pictures. There are a ton. So sorry. Ok, not really:)
Ever look at pictures from a vacation and think, “I really wish we had a photographer here with us to capture the fun?”… Just a reminder that I do that! Shoot me an email with where you are going and when and I would love to tag along for a day to capture your family and all the magic and chaos that is travel with kids.
I spent Saturday sitting sitting in my grandmother’s living room listening to it thunderstorm outside. While her space has been her home for the past 14 years, it is the third home of hers that I remember. In fact, growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I even lived with them for a period of time when I was a toddler.
My grandfather has been gone for 24 years now and in those years, my grandmother has continued to be a constant support and companion for me. She and I have traveled the world together. We have shared countless stories, giggles and glasses of wine. She has taught me more than any other person on this planet.
Out of all of my fondest memories from my life so far, Mimi has been apart of almost all of them. She encouraged me in everything, helped me choose and helped finance my college education. She passed on her wanderlust heart to me teaching me about the beauty of travel- no matter how big or small the trip. She helped me plan my wedding, decorate my first home and all three of my nursery’s. I have spent every Christmas of my life, except one, with Mimi. She is my person.
4.5 years ago, Mimi was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I remember that phone call and how terrified I was. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that, “this was it”. And thinking that I hadn’t had enough time with her. All while knowing that I had been blessed by the life and relationship I did have with her and trying not to look past the importance of that. Nor the importance of the completely amazing life that she has lived.
She made it 4 years without much of a blip. Several rounds of radiation have eased pain and slowed tumor growth. The years of medication and treatments and hospital visits and appointments have made her weary. Despite those things, she was still doing quite well to the outsider. She still drives. She still plays bridge. She still travels a tad and lives independently. These are all remarkable for an 86 year-old woman who has been battling stage 4 cancer for so long.
Then 2017 came along. Her scans at the beginning of the year showed new growths and new problems. Things seemed to be progressing. Two rounds of radiation earlier this year left her more tired than ever. A followup visit post radiation showed a new cancer that is incurable. Her doctors have finally given her the designation of “terminal”.
Those words have hit hard. We don’t have a timeline yet but we know this is it. Mimi is trying chemotherapy currently. She has been adamant from the beginning that she will only undergo chemotherapy treatment as long as she does not become sick. She hates vomiting. She flat out told her doctor that the first time she vomits from treatment she would be done with it. She doesn’t want to live out the remainder of her life that way. It was too painful of a memory to watch my grandfather go in that way and she refuses to let us see her end of life look the same.
So far, she is 6 weeks into treatment and doing pretty well. The anti nausea medication that they are giving her at treatment seems to be working. She has lost her hair, which doesn’t bother her. She still has an appetite, which is wonderful. The worst part right now is how tired she is. If you know Mimi, you know that she does not like to slow down. She still has her wits about her but has had a hard time allowing herself to rest.
Right now we are in unknown territory. Her doctors are not ready to give her a timeline yet. But they also know that chemotherapy at her age may not be a long term plan. She and I are making big decisions about hospice care, funeral arrangements, decisions on who takes what art pieces, and family heirlooms and such. Overall, she is in good spirits. When she told me that her diagnosis had been changed to terminal, she said that in a weird way she was relieved. It has been a long few years with a lot of back-and-forth and what-ifs. This is a concrete answer. This is definitive and real. I understand her relief.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I putting this out there for the world to read? I don’t know really. I wanted a place to write down my thoughts. And, this is “my” space. I wanted a place to put it out into the world that she could use your prayers and good thoughts. I wanted to let it be known that this throws another added “challenge” into my schedule. I will be traveling to Houston as much as I can, indefinitely. Currently that looks like once a month-ish. As things progress it may be more than that. I am 100% confident that my clients will be supportive and understanding about that.
So, there it is. Where I am and what I am doing currently. This is where my heart and mind are currently. I may, or may not, write more about this later. I may, or may not, document Mimi in pictures through this process. I don’t know yet. What I am certain of is that my family would appreciate the prayers and support that you can offer us.
This family and this story are so extremely beautiful. It is a story about loss and redemption in the biggest and most perfect way that only God himself could have written. I still get goosebumps when I think about how it all unfolded. It isn’t my story to tell but just know that their story makes this amazing session all that more perfect. There was so much love and emotion and energy bundled up in the couple hours that we spent together. It was truly magical.
Now, lets talk logistics… There are THREE newborns here. Triplets are no joke. I have photographed my fair share of twins but this was a first. And quite honestly I was equal parts excited and terrified.
After a few setbacks and reschedules, the day of the session finally arrived. About 5 seconds in their home and I was instantly at ease and knew that this session was going to be nothing short of perfection. With triplets, as you can imagine, someone always needed something. Mom and Dad were total troopers and laughed a lot. Which I loved. And honestly, what else can you do? Having three babies is pretty comical at times.
As the session progressed I just kept thinking what a privilege it was to capture the early days of this miraculous story. Watching the chaos and the laughter and the emotion unfold was so real and so beautiful. I kept giggling and telling the parents that while things might have seemed a little wild at times, this was going to be the easiest photo session they ever had with these three babies…I mean, can you imagine a 1-year session with triplets running in opposite directions?!?!?
If you are interested in a lifestyle newborn session with me, I would love to hear from you. Shoot me an email through the contact form here.