The most wonderful–and my most favorite–time of year…

It’s no secret. Winter is my favorite season. I grew up in South Florida, never knowing what a change of seasons looked like except for the two weeks at the end of most every year that I spent in Ohio. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to live up North. Snow has always held this ethereal, magical quality for me. And in the middle of my second winter up here, I can say that it hasn’t changed a bit. Also in this wonderful season is my favorite holiday: Christmas. I grew up in a Christmas-loving family with a ton of traditions. The house was decked from top to bottom with timeless, beautiful decorations. There was my mom’s huge tree in the living room filled with delicate, magnificent ornaments. I used to just sit in there at night and imagine which ornaments she might pass on to me when I grew up and got my own tree. Then there was the kids’ tree in the family room full of macaroni Christmas trees, clothespin reindeer, and beaded candy canes. It was colorful and crazy, just like us. I am so lucky that the man I get to call my husband has embraced my Christmas-crazy, and carries on many of my family’s traditions with me. Last year was our first Christmas up here, on our own, away from our family, and it was honestly the most special perfect time. I felt so loved and so blessed, and I will remember it forever.

As the holidays approached this year I kept thinking back on that and I knew this year I wanted to do something for someone else in the hopes that their holiday season might be that much more blessed. So with a little idea inspiration from my sister I reached out to a local MOPS group. For those who have no idea what that means: MOPS stands for Moms of Pre-Schoolers. There are groups all around the country that come together to support one another while nurturing their children. I think they are a wonderful, beautiful thing. I am grateful for my sister’s group and the friendships she and her children have built through it, and I know one day I will reach out to one myself. So I contacted the Derwood group and offered to come to a playdate and set up a little holiday mini session for the kids in each family. I know how fast time flies when you’ve got little ones, and especially in the holiday season moms are so focused on making the time as magical as possible for their babies. So I wanted to give something to these wonderful women that would allow them to look back on this season. I could not have asked for a more beautiful day or location to be shooting, and it was honestly just one of the best days of my year. I love what I do. I love playing with the kids and getting those giggly smiles. I just love every minute of it, and this day especially I think that joy shined through into my work.
Derwood MOPS Holiday Minis-Blog-1Derwood MOPS Holiday Minis-Blog-2Derwood MOPS Holiday Minis-Blog-3

A few weeks after the MOPS sessions I met back up with a handful of the families to get some more holiday images of the whole brady bunch and in the golden light of the sunset, the park totally transformed and I fell absolutely in love with it all–the families, the sessions, the scenery, all of it. I’ll definitely be going back there again and again. Here are some of my favorites!
Murchison, Family-Holiday 2013-Collage-2Murchison, Family-Holiday 2013-Collage-1Dickens, Family-Holiday 2013-Collage
And that wraps up this year’s holiday minis! We’re headed home for Christmas this year, and I couldn’t be more excited! My family has not been all together since my wedding, I haven’t seen my brother since then, and I haven’t spent Christmas with them since 2010 which was the last Christmas in our childhood home before we sold it and moved over to the gulf coast. So needless to say but I’ll say it anyway: this is a pretty big deal for Christmas-crazy-me. My brother’s flying in from CA for three days, we’re driving down for four. It will be a short trip, but it will be just perfect. Hopefully Baby Ryan will make his entrance while I’m down there, and I’m also hoping to sneak in a quick session with my cutie-pie nephew so keep on the lookout!

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