• Life & Love: Share Your Easter Memories with Me!

    So, LMP mommas, now that Spring Break 2015 is a memory of the past and our calendars all officially say “April” at the top (March, where did you go?), today we’re talking about all things Easter!

    If you and your family enjoy old movies and haven’t seen the MGM classic musical Easter Parade, I highly recommend renting it this week. One of the most famous songs featured in the movie has these lyrics:

    “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it / You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.”

    I love it! It sets the tone for today’s blog post perfectly as it recalls those sweet memories of dressing up for Easter. Of course, Easter Sunday is clearly about so much more than what we wear. Still, there’s something about the time-honored tradition of dressing up in our very best frocks-and-frills and parading down Fifth Avenue (ahem…the aisles of our churches) just like Judy Garland.

    Today, I still get excited about the “What are you wearing for Easter?” question. And why wouldn’t I? I was trained to look forward to this moment from a young age! I can remember the excitement of going shopping for “the dress” with my mom and ultimately choosing pastel or floral dresses adorned with big lace collars, hats with ribbon hanging down the back, white gloves with little pearl buttons (yes, gloves, thank you very much) and absolutely loving every minute! The prep that took place the night before Easter was no small task either, and included pink sponge rollers and a swipe of polish on my nails. And then there were the boys who looked oh-so-uncomfortable in Sunday School thanks to their slicked back hair, jackets, and clip-on bowties. Oh, the joy of it all! (And let’s NOT talk about how my brother and I looked like we were dressed as characters from the It’s a Small World ride at Disney World… or the fact that we look less-than-thrilled about not being barefoot…)

    Easter Throwback

    All of this—the sweet moments from my childhood and the new memories I’ll make in just a few short days with my girls—is so special to me. Which makes me wonder…do you feel the same way, LMP mommas? Did you take your daughter or son (bless his heart) shopping for that perfectly cute Easter outfit and then take a photograph or twenty afterward? Or maybe you spent hours dyeing and hiding the most gorgeous Easter eggs imaginable, and then proceeded to forget about them until the “I haven’t taken out the garbage in months” scent kicked in?

    Whatever your memories are, I want to hear all about them—and being a photographer, naturally I want to see photos as well! Please join me in the LMP Easter Memories campaign by posting photos to your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts along with a sweet memory or two. Be sure to include the hashtag #LMPEasterMemories and encourage other mommas to “hop” in on our conversation over the next few days. This should be FUN!

  • Moments With Me: Making the Most of March

    I just have to say… I am loving the month in review via Instagram. If you would’ve asked me what happened in March, or what I’ve been learning, or if I had any meaningful experiences this last month, I would have looked at you with a glazed stare because I literally feel brain-dead right about now. Granted, it is seven in the evening, and I haven’t eaten… and my thoughts are always a little more understandable and bright and shiny about mid morning.  Anyway, making an intentional effort to take images with my phone and post them on Instagram/social media has taken on a new meaning for me. I’m able to quickly look over all the images I took in one month and can see all the memories… how much my girls are growing and changing, and because I’m the one taking them, I have memories attached to what I was feeling in those exact moments.

    Don’t be fooled, though. My March was typical of any Texas suburban mom. It was spring break and instead of a ski trip or the beach, we opted to stay home and cross off all the things on Mia Grace’s wish list.  Those wishes and goals are evident in many of the images of roller skating, having a ball at an arcade, spending time with special friends, and playing softball.  We also started doing family dinners with my brother and sister-in-law, my nephews, and my parents. Seeing those images of the cousins together and the candid family scene warms my heart and makes me thankful I have a way to keep them forever.

    What’s most interesting is that I have felt such incredible peace this month — and as I reflect on it, I realize it’s been our busiest month in a while. I think what sums up life at this moment is wrapped up in the very last image I posted this month of me, half asleep in bed with Ellie fingers on my face.  Here are my thoughts from that photo straight from my Instagram feed …

    “I woke up early this morning, unable to sleep and found this on my phone. I guess Mia Grace took it without my knowing. Even though we had an epic busy day yesterday, the girls just couldn’t fall asleep last night. I was utterly exhausted when they came in for extra snuggles, and just let Ellie contort my lips and face with her dirty little hands saying, ”Mia Grace! Look!” over and over with a giggle. Despite a day of two sports games, a rehearsal for the school play, a swim party followed by cleaning up throw up from a big girl whose mother forgot to feed her lunch while in the sun all day — washing wet sheets from a little girl whose nap lasted too long while we prepared for my family to come over for dinner– no baths before bed, and a little tiff with the Mr. that she also caught on video exactly two seconds before she took this (yup! NOt even kidding ! And its nearly a FULL minute long), I felt such peace. And during this quiet morning before the sun comes up , I have finally realized that the peace I’ve longed for isn’t found in the absence of conflict or business, but rather, those fleeting moments when no matter what the truth of my life reflects — I just know that no matter what, we’re all gonna be ok.”

     

    March Collage

     

    Maybe in the next month I will relish in the reality of this peace… (and I mean… we must be doing something right because my girls’ clearly felt peaceful enough to video their parents’ fighting… 😉

  • Rush 101: The Recruitment Information Packet

    **2017 UPDATE** In addition to totally FREE résumé + cover letter templates, I now offer completely custom Recruitment Information Packets that are available for purchase! Packets are available in 8 unique + chic designs and include personalized letterhead, mailing + address labels, stickers, and more! Shop all products at SororityPackets.com.

    We also just launched our brand new eBook, Everything You Need to Know About Sorority Recruitment (seriously…everything!). I hope this guide is everything you need to feel physically, mentally, AND emotionally prepared for the sorority recruitment process. Happy rushing!

    Everything You Need to Know About Sorority Recruitment

    RUSH 101: THE RECRUITMENT INFORMATION PACKET

    I was talking to one of my cute clients the other day, and she said something that really caught me off guard: “I’m starting to work on my sorority recruitment packet this month.”

    Wait, what? I thought. That can’t be right! I know this makes me sound completely old, but “back in the day,” I’m pretty sure that girls sent off their transcripts and résumés during the SUMMER and that recruitment began in the fall. Now, it seems like most colleges host events for freshman during the summer months, which means that the “unofficial” recruitment process begins much earlier.

    Other things have changed, too. Instead of asking mom to take a picture in the backyard (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything), my senior girls frequently bring special outfits to their portrait sessions so that they have the option of including professional prints in their recruitment packets. And instead of mailing a basic cover letter along with SAT scores and a transcript, I’m seeing girls create branded notebooks, custom sticker labels, logo-embellished stationery…the works!

    Quick note: Don’t panic if you haven’t started thinking in the direction of sorority recruitment yet, and don’t feel like you have to design a couture personal logo, either! Honest information always trumps flashy presentation. That being said, creating a unique look for your sorority recruitment packet IS a fun way to show off your personality and set your application apart. Bottom line: tackle this recruitment task (and the entire rush process!) in whatever way feels most like YOU.

    Let’s take a look at the basic information you’ll need to include in your packet. After you’ve read through our list of recruitment essentials, be sure to download our FREE cover letter template! Switch out the example monogram with your own initials, swap out the colors until you find a look that fits your style, and voila! Your packet is ready to go and sure to shine!

    WHAT IS A RECRUITMENT PACKET?

    A Recruitment Information Packet, also known as a recommendation packet or a sorority packet, is a compilation of all the information an alumna of a sorority needs in order to write you a letter of recommendation. You will need to create a separate recruitment packet for every single sorority on the college campus you will be attending. 

    WHO GETS YOUR RECRUITMENT PACKET?

    You should send a recruitment packet to a local alumna of every single sorority housed on your college campus. If you don’t know a former Theta, Kappa, or Delta Gamma personally, don’t worry—your local Panhellenic organization should be able to provide you with a list of women to contact.

    HOW DO YOU SEND A RECRUITMENT PACKET?

    Call and ask each alumna on your list if she would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. After she agrees (because really, who WOULDN’T want to write a rec letter for you?), set a date and time for you to drop off your packet at her home. (Alternately, you can mail the packet to her home address.) After writing your letter of recommendation, each alumna will mail your completed recruitment packet to the proper sorority house on your behalf.

    *RECRUITMENT PACKET ESSENTIALS:

    • Large envelopes: 9 × 11.5 inch envelopes should work perfectly. You will need to include a stamped envelope that’s been pre-addressed to a specific sorority house with every packet you deliver (the alumna will mail this envelope to the sorority on your behalf). If you are mailing your packets to alumnae, you will need to place your pre-addressed/stamped envelope inside of a larger manila or booklet sized envelope for mailing purposes. More info on that here.
    • Postage: You are responsible for paying the postage for your recruitment packets, not the women writing your letters of recommendation. Make sure to weigh your packets in advance so that the proper amount of postage is included on each envelope. 
    • Label stickers: Print your return address and the address of each sorority house on label stickers for a uniform look. Be sure to research the name of each sorority’s VP of Membership and address your packet directly to her—she’s in charge of the entire recruitment process, and personal touches really do make a difference! 
    • 1 copy of your résumé
    • 1 copy of your high school transcript 
    • 1 copy of your ACT and/or SAT scores 
    • Cover letter: Your cover letter should be addressed to the alumna writing a recommendation on your behalf, NOT the sorority house your packet will be mailed to. If your letter-writer doesn’t know you personally, this is your chance to introduce yourself and tell her all about why you’re looking forward to attending college, joining a sorority, and getting involved on campus! 
    • Three pictures: Most sororities will ask for a variety of shots—at least one headshot, a full body pose, and a three-quarter view (learn more about the types of photographs to include in your Recruitment Information Packet here). It’s a great idea to affix a label to the back of each photo that includes your name, hometown, and high school—adorable label stickers are included in our Recruitment Information Packets, for the record!
    • RIF/Letter of Support: Alumnae will take care of adding these docs to your packets prior to forwarding on to the sorority houses.

    OPTIONAL ITEMS:

    • Presentation folders: Folders are an excellent choice for those of you who will be dropping off your packets in person. If you’re planning on ordering a set of our Pocket Folders, you also have the option to add a customizable sticker to give your packets a polished, branded look!
    • Additional copies of your résumé, transcript, and/or SAT and ACT scores: Including two copies of these items isn’t 100% necessary, but the practice is sometimes suggested by alumnae Panhellenics. The thought is that one copy of each item will be used exclusively by the alumna writing your letter of recommendation, and the other copy will be sent on to the sorority house. Think of this as a preventative measure taken against finger marks and accidental coffee spills!

    *Be sure to check each sorority’s website and your local Alumnae Panhellenic website for specific requirements!

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    Congrats! You are now equipped with our recruitment packet essentials list and, if you click the button above, a super cute cover letter template! You’ll find the next installment of our Rush 101 series right here: How to format a recruitment résumé.

    xoxo,

    Crystal


    PS:
    Just wanted you to know that you’re MY rush crush. Every single one of you!

     

    Crystal: Hi Kyra! The small card + envelope comes with our Recruitment Information Packets at sororitypackets.com. These personal note cards are used to write a thank you note to alumnae after they have completed your RIF and/or Letter of Support. You can learn more about sending thank you notes strategically right here: https://sororitypackets.com/blogs/news/how-to-thank-the-alumnae-writing-your-letters-of-recommendation To answer the second part of your question, the cover letter is for the alumnae writing your recommendations only. This letter will not be forwarded on to the sorority house. We recommend that you provide each alumna with a pre-addressed and stamped envelope so that she can send her recommendation on to the sorority house along with your resume, photos, and other information. Thanks so much for commenting, we hope this is helpful! (Apr 17, 2017 at 14:48 pm)
    kyra mcrae: what is the small card and envelope for? also does the alumna leave the cover letter in or take it out? and does she put her letter of recommendation in with everything else or seal it separately? thank you (Apr 17, 2017 at 10:10 am)
    3 Photographs to Include in Your Sorority Packet - Love, Me Photography: […] semester of your Freshman year in COLLEGE) is still far away, now is the time to begin compiling a Recruitment Information Packet that sororities won’t be able to resist. Yep, I know it’s February. Yep, I know that […] (Feb 09, 2017 at 10:09 am)
    Rush 101: Sorority Recruitment Tips and Terminology: […] What is a Recruitment Information Packet and what should it include? […] (Aug 14, 2016 at 09:22 am)
    How to Thank the Alumnae Writing Your Letters of Recommendation: […] Letter just how much her time means to you. If you’re modeling your cover letter off of my free download, you can include a handwritten note of thanks at the bottom of your typed (generic) letter. I also […] (Jun 10, 2016 at 11:43 am)
    Anh Rosso: Fantastic article . I loved the points . Does anyone know if my assistant might obtain a blank a form document to fill in ? (Apr 27, 2016 at 03:23 am)
    Rush 101: What to Wear During Sorority Recruitment: […] this point in our Rush 101 Series, we’ve covered the following: Recruitment packets, letters of recommendation, and the all-important resume. Don’t get me wrong—I have loved […] (Dec 23, 2015 at 08:19 am)
    From Seniors to Sorority Sisters: […] process via the Love, Me Photography Rush 101 series, and I LOVED working with them to launch LMP Recruitment Packets, a rush-ready set that includes templates for a letter of recommendation, resume, address labels, […] (Sep 28, 2015 at 08:41 am)
    Rush 101: Perfecting Your Resume: […] Alpha-Delta-Kappa-Panhellenic terminology, be sure to swing by the first installment of our series: The Recruitment Information Packet.  All set? Let’s dive right in by breaking down a standard resume section by […] (Apr 16, 2015 at 08:19 am)
  • Life & Love: More than a feeling…

    To all the wonderful Love, Me Photography mommas out there who are beginning that final descent toward graduation day, I want you to know how very honored and thankful I am to have the opportunity to capture the wonder that is your child in every single frame I shoot. Every time I take a look through the lens of my camera, I see these amazing young men and women who are so talented and bright with endless possibilities before them, and I can’t help but think of these lines from the Dr. Seuss book Oh, The Places You’ll Go: “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way!”

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    I’m so excited for them and all of the adventures waiting around the next corner. But then, because I’m a mom, I can’t help but stop and think of you. The one who has been a constant from the time of their birth until now. The cheerleader who has clapped her hands over every last achievement. The comforter who held his hands and wiped away her tears after every difficult disappointment. And I wonder…what are you feeling right now?

    Although my girls are still young, in a small way I feel like I can empathize with my LMP senior mommas. I’ve found that there are seasons when I have to remind myself to be intentional about pausing and reflecting on all that is swirling around me. Naturally, this awareness and call to “be still” usually pops up when I’m going full-steam ahead, totally booked, and completely stressed out. Still, if I don’t throw on the brakes, I know I’m prone to miss the moments that are really important…those moments with my family that cannot compare with anything else this world has to offer (the talented Tara Whitney captured this sweet moment with my oldest girl a few years ago… still loving it).

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    So, I just have to ask: What feelings are you experiencing right now as you prepare for “the day”—the one when your son or daughter is all packed up and pulling out of the driveway? Are you feeling thrilled, nervous, sentimental, bittersweet? Or are you already mentally remodeling their room to make way for that great craft area you’ve always wanted? No judgment here! No matter what it is you’re feeling, I’d really like to hear about it.

    Whatever “it” is—good, bad, or rip-your-heart-out sad—here’s my prayer and hope for you: May you be gifted with a few minutes (or 60!) when time stands still for you and your senior. May you sit and talk and laugh and dream about what lies ahead for BOTH of you. And may you remember that despite whatever you’re feeling during this crazy transition process and despite the many changes on the horizon, you’ve got a forever connection with your senior that’s never going to go away.

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    P.S. Calling all moms who’ve already been through the empty nest drill: I would LOVE to hear from you, too! We need your voice of experience, so please chime in via the comment section below!

    Much love to you all. I feel for you! (Literally.)

  • Savvy Senior: Dorm Room Dreaming

    College applications are out of the way. You may have already gotten an acceptance letter or two. If you’re super ahead of the game, perhaps you’ve even researched—and dare we say, applied for—a few scholarships. Our point? All the hard parts of senior year are over. Well, minus end of the year exams, the inevitable onset of *senioritis, and ensuring that your skin stays perfect before prom. But that’s all beside the point…and that point being, to put worries aside and celebrate the next chapter of your life by day-dreaming about dorm room décor!

    We’ve created two unique looks that combine all the furniture essentials you need with a hefty dose of personality. Check them out and let us know what you think in the comments!

    FOR HER

    Chic-and-sleek furniture pieces combine with pops of color for a look that’s sophisticated yet playful. The perfect environment for studying AND hanging!

    Dorm Room - HerDorm Room - Her

    photo credits: duvet: Dormify | zebra + text mom pillow: Dormify | gold and white desk: Pottery Barn Teen | tribal pillow, Kate Spade stapler, throw, and art print: Dormify | wall hanging: Urban Outfitters

     

    FOR HIM

    A rustic color palette and woodsy materials create an upscale atmosphere that’s just right for hitting the books (and relaxing afterward).

    Dorm Room - Him

     

    Dorm Room - Him

    photo credits: desk: Pottery Barn Teen | bookends: Dormify | grizzly bear: Urban Outfitters | scratch-off world map: Urban Outfitters | duvet: Target | alarm clock, universal battery, and wooden desk accessories: Pottery Barn Teen

    Not ready to stop dreaming about your dorm-room-to-be? We don’t blame you! Here are a few more links for those looking to do some follow-up reading:

    1. For DIY dorm room projects, click here and here. 
    1. Feel like online shopping? Dormify is filled with tons of super cute temptations.


    *Has senioritis already struck? Tackle your lack of enthusiasm by revisiting these 5 organizational tips — guaranteed to make the rest of senior year a breeze!

  • LMP Radio: The Ultimate Spring Break Playlist

    So, you already have your super sweet Spring Break Staycation planned, but you don’t have a soundtrack to go with it!? Don’t worry, I have you covered. If you liked the Valentine’s Day playlist, trust me when I say you will LOVE this one just as much, if not more. I may have thrown in a little old school Britney and some TLC for good measure, but this is sure to give you the upbeat vibe you want for you adventures and the mellow tunes you need after a relaxing mani/pedi or a long day in sun on the golf course. Click play below and let us do the work tuning your “radio.”

    Some of my favorites on the list this month are Hypnotic by Zella Day, Waterfalls by TLC (obviously), and Peaches by In The Valley Below (without a doubt included my beloved Counting Crows — do I even have to say I love them? I love them).

    Who are you listening to? Did you find anyone on this list that you never knew you loved? If you have any suggestions for next month’s #LMPRadio leave a comment or tweet them to @lovemephoto.

  • Life & Love: Spring Break Staycation

    Spring break is upon us, meaning it’s time to spring into action (couldn’t resist) and start making some plans for quality time with your favorite senior! I know many of my LMP mommas look forward to spring break as an opportunity to get away—literally—from all the stress of senior year, and I totally agree that there’s nothing like a change of scenery to keep everyone’s chi in check. This year, though, I’m thinking something a little closer to home might fit the bill (and save a few bills)—and that “something” would be a staycation!

    Not only is a staycation easier on the pocketbook than a traditional spring break vacation, these DFW-based ideas can help give you and your senior time to really appreciate each other without the hassle of planning and packing for a week-long trip (and, hello…a week’s worth of laundry).

    Convinced? Fantastic! Ready, set, plan!

     

    DAY ONE

    The scoop on hoops: Is your son or daughter a fan of the Dallas Mavericks? Good news! They’re in town for a couple of games during spring break season. Find your tickets hereGo Mavs!

    Mavs

    Up the “cool mom” factor: Mavs games typically end late at night, so think about booking a room for your family at the W Hotel. It’s just steps away from American Airlines Center! Check in before the game and treat yourself to tasty sips and drinks before cheering on the Mavs to victory.

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    DAY TWO

    Boot scootin’ boogie: If you and your senior are into cowboy boots and country music, consider getting tickets for the Miranda Lambert concert on March 12!

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    Horse around: Speaking of cowboy boots, they would sure come in handy on a good old-fashioned trail ride at Austin Ranch. Don’t let the name fool you—this dude ranch is located just minutes away from DFW Airport! 

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    DAY THREE

    Fore score: Do you have the next Tiger Woods or Michelle Wie in your family? They might really enjoy a day at Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, billed as “The World’s Only NFL Themed Golf Club.”  Even if you’re not “up to par” in your own golf game, you can still act as caddie (I hear the pay is pretty great). Bonus: Riding around in the cart gives you lots of time to talk and laugh together. You can book a round by clicking here.

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    DAY FOUR

    Nail it: For a staycation that’s geared more toward LMP moms and daughters, a quiet and relaxing stay at a bed and breakfast in Grapevine, followed by a walk to a nearby spa for a mani/pedi, might just put some “spring” in both your steps! Check out the adorable Garden Manor B&B here, then call to book your beauty appointment at Renata Salon and Day Spa.

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    DAY FIVE

    Old classic, new twist: And finally, the always popular dinner-and-a-movie outing takes on a whole new meaning at Look Cinemas, which allows you to enjoy a new film while relaxing in a power recliner (with service call buttons) and basically being waited on hand and foot. That’s right—this scenario sets you up as the servee, NOT the server. Total win/win!

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    At this point in your child’s senior year, it’s all about time. So make the most of the time you still have together and use these ideas as a spring board (again, couldn’t help it) TODAY.

    PS: The photographer in me has to remind you…don’t forget to Instagram those memory-packed moments using the hashtag #LMPstaycation!

    LMP Radio: The Ultimate Spring Break Playlist: […] you already have your super sweet Spring Break Staycation planned, but you don’t have a soundtrack to go with it!? Don’t worry, I have you […] (Mar 07, 2015 at 10:16 am)
  • Client Love: Elizabeth “Lizzy” Chastain | Center for Home Education

    When Elizabeth’s mom called to book her session and the planning began, I must say, I was worried we may have idea overload! I really strive to capture the true essence of my clients and I never want to take a senior and mold them into a cookie cutter version of something seen on Pinterest.  When visions of bubbles and books and vintage bikes and classic Audrey Hepburn were being tossed around, I gotta be honest and say I thought —whoa, I don’t want to seem like she has an identity crisis! It wasn’t many minutes later that I learned that Elizabeth is a phenomenal actress, a “theatre kid” as she affectionately called it and that she lives and breathes singing, the stage, and spotlight.  This WAS her – so her, in fact, that not having variety would have been the opposite of who she actually is. It was then that I began to get overly excited and simply could not wait to meet “Lizzy”.

    Our time together was a dream. Lizzy was so sweet and enthusiastic and each and every outfit and theme was my very favorite (you’ll see how hard it is to pick just ONE look… just wait).  She is one of those people you meet that have a zest for life that is absolutely contagious and as you can see, she is simply stunning.  Every expression was on point and I felt a true collaboration from one artist to another. I didn’t want the session to end!

    Here are my favorites from our time together. Get ready because there are so many!


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    I know I said I couldn’t choose, but if I had to, I would say I am most in love with all the books she brought to the session. Especially with all this snow and ice we are getting here in Texas, they have such a cool, smart, coffee shop vibe that I adore!  (And, I mean, kindred spirits right here with all this good reading material!)

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    Makeup for this session was done by my talented best friend and assistant, Monica. She is available for makeup with all senior sessions and is just phenomenal. For this session, we collaborated with a second look (Audrey) and I put my hair skills to use and Monica copied the classic actress’ iconic look. And can I brag on Monica a bit and say she TOTALLY nailed it? Because she did…

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    I also wanted to throw in this sweet photo of Me and my daughter, Mia Grace with Elizabeth.  It’s no lie that I love my clients and want to be friends with all of them, so when Elizabeth invited us to come watch her perform at our ordering session, I knew I wanted to bring Mia Grace. I’ve felt for a while that she would shine on stage and we had the best Mom and daughter date going to watch Lizzy in her element. nothing bring me more joy in the world than witnessing someone using their gifts. Elizabeth was the lead role in the musical, The king and I and watching her literally become Anna before our eyes was such a treat and an experience I will always cherish! She is seriously talented you guys … really blew me away!

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    Lizzy, keep shining girl … your light makes us all a little brighter!

    What to Wear for a Winter Photoshoot: […] Now, let’s talk about winter wearables – cozy coats, adorable scarves, and knit beanies just begging to be worn during your upcoming senior portrait session! In case you’re still on the hunt for a photo-ready look or three, I’ve put together a few no-fail combinations that I’d love to see on camera. Put your own spin on the looks showcased on these inspiration boards, or pull together something completely different. I can’t wait to see your personal style shine through during our winter shoot! […] (Nov 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm)
    A New Kind of Quiet: […] I couldn’t have said it any better, Audrey. (And speaking of Audrey, how much do you love this gorgeous girl’s Audrey-inspired senior portrait session?) […] (Sep 16, 2015 at 16:38 pm)
    Beverly Dalton: Crystal what a beautiful tribute to our Elizabeth. She is an amazing young woman with many talents and as you said has a great love for people and life. You did an awesome job at capturing many aspects of her personality and it was truly a tough decision to choose the ones we liked the best.........we absolutely loved them all. Thank you for all you did to make this dream happen and giving this Nana a keepsake that I will cherish and love forever. God has given you a beautiful gift and it has been such a joy to get to know you. (Mar 04, 2015 at 22:16 pm)
    Sammye Waldrip: You did an amazing job on these pictures. You also had a beautiful subject to work with, I must say. Ya'll did an amazing job on the makeup and I see what you mean by picking a favorite. Elizabeth is beautiful inside and out and I have enjoyed seeing her grow up. Thanks for sharing these pictures. (Mar 04, 2015 at 18:46 pm)
  • Moments with Me: love from February

    My favorite month of the year, February, flew by in a flash. In case you missed what’s been happening in my life, here’s an Insta recap.  Come follow me while you’re at it, and don’t forget to follow along with my professional feed (see the nifty little thing on the right over there??)! Stay tuned for some fun giveaways and maybe a free coffee, but you must be a follower to be the first to find out!

    Anyway, my goal to increase the amount of images I took of our day-to-day life seriously increased this month. I even received a copy of our 27th (what??) volume of Chatbooks.  If you haven’t heard of chapbooks yet, you must check them out!  I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to have our life documented with little to no effort on my part — lazy moms unite! I’ve said it a million times … Instagram isn’t just for teens. Moms: you should really come join in on the fun.

    Other highlights of the month include a right on schedule #Icemaggedon 2015. If you don’t live in Texas, let me tell you what happens if even a single icicle is hanging off the roof — we basically close the whole state.  I wrote in my gratitude journal this month that I randomly realized I love Texas weather… it fits perfectly with my spontaneous personality. I love that we busted out the sled and stayed in our pajamas for 48 hours, and then was able to rock my Counting Crows t-shirt (die hard fan forever, no shame) and jeans the next day.  Also of note: my epic bedhead made two appearances – with the most recent being my best ever effort I would say! And yes, I was basically exhausted after that two hour nap.

    Ellie started soccer and ate cookies bigger than her face and decided she likes Chai tea like Momma (as if you couldn’t tell — I realize I’ve turned into one of those people that take pictures of their coffee mug every day – oops).

    Mia Grace did a sweet photo shoot where she is working it so hard, explained to Ellie (in true big-sister wisdom) that ice is not, in fact, “frosting,” as it is not edible, had a date with Zorro (her Valentine horse), practiced her swing to start softball for the first time, and all the while happily let me coach her basketball team for the third year in a row.  This season I realized how much I truly love coaching/ teaching the game of basketball and am now dreaming big that one day I’ll coach some “big” girls — you know, those teenagers I’m always talking about loving so much.

    And even though Mike didn’t make much of an appearance this month (he was gone for a whopping 8 days leaving me to single parent #thestrugglewasreal), he was in fact  present on several of those chai dates to Redefined Coffeehouse (love them, you should, too!)  and he played his ongoing role of “fun parent” while I sat inside during Icemaggedon 2015.  He also was super wonderful and brought me a chocolate donut heart from the new Krispy Kreme that opened up down the street to officially break our Whole 30 diet — well done, sir (I knew I married that guy for a reason… 😉 ).

     

    February Collage

     

    Here is to more hugs and kisses in other months besides February.

    xoxo

  • Moving Moms: Q & A with Kimberly Trant

    I met Kimberly when I photographed her daughter, Annie, several years ago, and I have since learned what a brilliant woman she is. Kimberly Trant is not only a mom of four (as if that isn’t super-heroic enough), she’s what I call a Momager, and now, an AUTHOR. You guys, she is one of those incredible people that found time in the midst of everything life could throw at her, and strung enough words together to create an entire book. If that doesn’t qualify her as moving, and courageous, and just down-right gutsy, I don’t know what does. (For those of you who haven’t picked up a copy of #hashtagged, you can purchase it online here, and here.) I had the opportunity and the privilege to photograph Kimberly (not-to-mention the MOST fun time during our session), and now I get to share it with you all, plus an exclusive Q & A she agreed to do! So, without further delay…

    Q & A with Kimberly Trant
    Author of #hashtagged

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    Q: What were your hopes and dreams as a high school senior?

    A: I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas where a tornado ripped apart our town while I was in high school. Not long after that, my parents divorced. I think that those two events resulted in a certain reluctance on my part for long-term planning. I truly had no plan.

    It’s hard for young adults today to imagine, but it truly was a different time. We didn’t have visibility to the greater world. Saturday Night Live was the edgiest part of our lives. I suppose my hope and dream was just to go see what was possible.

    Q: Would your 17-year-old self be surprised at your job/career choices?

    A: Oh yeah, big time.

    Q: Why or why not?

    A: I never planned on a career in technology or as a writer. I just seemed to be in the right place at the right time in terms of technology. My mother worked for the Texas Education Agency and brought home one of the early TRS-80s.  If you’ve never heard of that, google it for a laugh. She insisted I learn how to use it. Everywhere I went, it seemed there was new technology to learn and I just rolled with it. I always wanted to be a writer but could never quite see the path forward for that as a career. I think my 17-year-old self would really be surprised to see that I had finally accomplished this.

    Q: As a working mom, what has been your greatest challenge?

    A: My own expectations of perfection. I think that Elsa from Frozen says it best… you just have to learn to “let it go.”

    Q: 
What advice do you give to your children about following their own dreams?

    A: I told them what my father told me, “You can be anything you want to be.” Well, I told them that until my son and daughter-in-law gently told me they were moving to Minnesota with my granddaughter, then I just said “No, J.”

    Seriously, as parents we have one job: Prepare them. This is not just about life and paying the bills and mowing the lawn and working for the man. Prepare them to follow their dreams — whatever this means.

    Q: Where do you hope to be in five years?

    A: I would like to be finished with my day job, writing more, traveling more. I want more time… more time for the little things.

    Q: What are your top tips for keeping home and work life in balance?

    A: Learn to speak up; people can’t read your mind. Let your family know what help you need before the stress overwhelms you (I’m still working on this one).

    Q: When you’re feeling stressed, what helps you unwind?

    A: I have to bang around a bit—do something physical like take a walk, put up the dishes, anything.

    Q: What energizes you?

    A: There are so many things that energize me—knowing that I have helped someone, hearing that someone enjoyed my book, having a meaningful conversation, laughter….

    Q: What is your proudest moment?

    A: This is impossible to say. I have a large family. There are just too many amazing moments where our hearts have overflowed, our laughter has exploded, our hands have reached for each other in the sure knowledge that we will all be there.

    I can say this (it is kind of tied to your first question): In High School, I probably imagined many proud moments in my future that would all be centered around me.  Looking back now, I can tell you this was in no way true.

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    Q: When did you first realize you wanted to go into business for yourself (or become an author, etc)?

    A: I’ve always wanted to do this. Fear held me back. After my kids were all out of high school I realized that Ferris Bueller was right, life does move pretty fast. So, I just jumped in and gave it a shot.

    Q: What steps did you take to arrive where you are today?



    A: I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still a work in progress. I’ve spent the last year learning the most basic aspects of the publishing business. This took some hard lessons learned. However, I do think that now I’m ready to really move forward and turn this into what I would like it to be.

    Q: How do you define success?

    A: One person at a time.
    My book, #hashtagged, is not the kind of book that everyone likes. I think it has a unique niche in terms of readership. I love to hear from anyone that has enjoyed it.

    Q: Has your definition of the word changed since starting your own business?



    A: Not really. Success is personal. It is one person at a time.

    Q: What’s next for your business?

    A: I have struggled with how the publisher priced my book. I am moving forward with self-publishing so I can control more of the process and the price point. It’s kind of scary—fun scary, but still a bit scary nonetheless.
    I’m also playing around with a Young Adult idea—something a bit more marketable to a broader audience. I would love some early readers for that if you have anyone interested!

    Q: What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?

    A: My proudest moment was when my kids and their friends started sending me selfies with my book!

    Q: What is one product or event you’re most excited about?

    A: I’m a guest at Texas A&M’s version of ComiCon—AggieCON! I’m part excited, part terrified!  I have to speak on a few panels and really have no idea what to expect.

    FAVORITE THINGS

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    Place to Visit: Stonehenge

    Style Essential: Shoes, shoes, shoes.

    Can’t Live Without: Books

    Read: I read almost anything except biographies. I have a hard time with biographies. If anyone knows of an exciting biography, I would like to hear about it! 

    Is there anything else you’d like to share? Here are my words to live by, shamelessly stolen from Ghandi: “There’s more to life than increasing it’s speed.”

    And here’s a sample of the session I had with Kimberly with the purpose of getting a natural and timeless headshot for her book. I think she looks smart, approachable and beautiful! I loved our time together so much.

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    Paula Ordway: Oh, my dear, beautiful, inspiring, precious cousin. You are truly a blessing to all. The photos capture everything about you. I would love to hug you. Thanks for sharing. (Feb 24, 2015 at 06:38 am)