Journey Through Life Blog

Snuggle Sessions

August 6, 2015

Snuggle Sessions

The story behind snuggle sessions....

I have 3 beautiful children (I know all moms think that their children are beautiful).  I love them like crazy ... keyword "crazy."  More like they sometimes drive me crazy.  My journey to motherhood was not easy.  After multiple miscarriages years ago we decided to take a break on ttc (trying to conceive).  When we began again I couldn't get pregnant.  I suffered from endometriosis and adhesions.  My doctor once told me that endometriosis doesn't cause infertility, but many people who have fertility problems find they have endometriosis.  So is it the chicken before the egg or the egg before the chicken?

Right when I gave up on having biological children, I found out I was pregnant.  I was probably more nervous/scared than excited.  I remember the day I finally had the courage to set up the crib.  I cried like a big baby because of my fear of losing this new child in my womb.  Every yucky symptom of pregnancy was actually a little blessing to reassure me that this baby was growing strong.

When Abigail was born I was determined to nurse. 

Back story:  I had a breast reduction when I was 13. Yes, you read that correctly, 13.  Breast cancer runs very strong in my family.  My mother had it twice.  So having the surgery helped reduce my risk.  However, many of my milk ducts were cut so I would struggle with my milk supply due to this.

Abigail was born and she struggled to latch.  On top of that I got diagnosed with hypertension and had to actually be on bed rest after she was born.  So add stress on to reduced milk ducts and you get the picture.  I was married to the pump and non stop feedings trying to build my supply for 6 weeks.  I tried the sns, but she would scream when I tried to use it.  The neighbors probably heard me crying when I finally had to make the decision to stop.

My second was born and he was a sweet little boy named Emory.  He latched on great and my supply was a little better, but they couldn't get my blood pressure under control.  They had to put me on meds that weren't safe to nurse so I only got to nurse him for 3 weeks.

My third child born just 5 months ago was a sweet baby girl named Naomi.  She did great nursing.  Thanks to my awesome IBCLC Stacy with Bestfeeding Lactation Services, I was able to hand express colostrum from 36 weeks on (permitted by doctor).  I had enough to bring with me to the hospital that I didn't have to do any supplementing while we were there.  I produced so much more and was able to nurse her for 3 months.  I still had to supplement, but I did produce more.  However, once again my blood pressure went haywire and the stress of figuring it out dropped my supply so low that I lost my chance to continue nursing.  Also, I was told I had high cholesterol and had to go on meds for that.  Yay me!

So, long story short... not really, I feel a bit inadequate about my motherhood skills. I know that may sound ridiculous to some, but to those of you who have been there you probably understand (unfornately).  The personal shame game began along with the jealousy of seeing other women nurse.

I am a very modest person and with the added emotional hurt I have from my own experience of nursing I've always struggled to photograph women nursing.  However, I was recently able to photograph a woman who had made it over a year of nursing and was getting ready to leave her sweet baby girl for the first time for 4 months!  We did a few shots of her nursing at the end of her engagement session and I simply fell in love with the emotion I saw and felt in those images.

At that moment I decided I needed to offer these sessions so mother's have something they can look back and cherish forever.

Snuggle sessions are meant for mom or dad.  They are not specifically breast feeding images.  I wanted to open it to others who couldn't breast feed.  I remember, and still do, how it felt to see these wonderful bonding images and never feeling like I could participate.  This would once again confirm the lie I believed about being less of a mother.  

So schedule your session to capture a moment with your little one or even not so little one.  These are meant to be beautiful images that capture the relationship you have with your child (whether young or old, mom or dad).

Book your session now!

*Not family sessions.  Limited to 1 child/1adult.

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Christmas Gift Certificates

December 19, 2013

Email to claim this offer.


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Family Summer Beach Session Fundraiser / Virginia Beach Family Photographer

September 25, 2013

I recently had the chance to photograph this sweet family during their son's senior session.  When Michelle called me to do Daniel's senior session I offered to photograph her family at the end of the session.  She loved the idea.

I have known this family for almost 10 years, my husband has known them even longer.  Just writing it seems hard to believe it has already been that long.  I had the chance to teach with Doug at Norfolk Christian years ago and was able to teach his daughter Katherine.  I even had the opportunity to do Katherine's senior portraits a few years back.  So I was really excited to photograph Daniel for his senior session in August.  As many might know this is an incredibly giving family and they have a true heart for the Lord.  Some of you may also know that they received some not so pleasant news this August.  

That is why I am here... to tell you their story and give you a way to help if you would like.  

The #1 way you can help is PRAYER.

Here is their story:

Doug Sandwell was diagnosed last month with stage 4 lung cancer.  The news came as a great shock to his family, including his wife and 4 children, since he is a non-smoker and is only 45 years old.  As Bible teachers at Norfolk Christian, Doug and Michelle have dedicated their lives to reaching young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as their medical bills begin mounting we want to bless them with some financial support.

 The #2 way you can help is through the Mini Session Portrait Fundraiser I am hosting.

These sessions are 30 minutes long and each package is all inclusive, meaning it covers sitting fee and product.  There are 3 packages from which to choose.  A portion of each package sold will go directly to the Sandwells to help them with their medical bills.  This would be a perfect time to get an updated family picture, capture a baby milestone, an individual portrait, etc. So not only would you be checking something off of your to do list you would be helping another family in need.  

Things to know:

Location:  Virginia Tech Arboretum at 1444 Diamond Springs Road  Virginia Beach, Virginia

When:  November 9, 2013

Time:  Slots available



  • Not intended for newborns or senior portraits
  • If a large group (more than 6) I would suggest booking 2 slots (2 packages required)
  • 20% non-refundable retainer fee to hold spot
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your session begins to ensure the event runs smoothly
  • Drinks and snacks will be provided
  • Once you are registered I will contact you to discuss your ideas for the shoot and will email you a model release/contract
  • You may choose online gallery proofing or in person proofing


      1.  $ 125

  • 30 minute session
  • 1 Digital Image
  • Print Release
  • 2 5x7 Gift Prints

      2.  $ 235

  • 30 minute session
  • 3 Digital Images
  • Print Release
  • 2 5x7 Gift Prints
  • Mounted 11x14

      3.  $ 375

  • 30 minute session
  • 5 Digital Images
  • Print Release
  • 20 Christmas Cards
  • 11x14 Wrapped Canvas 

Related Links:



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Virginia Beach Senior Photographer / Urban Senior Session

August 28, 2013

It has been so great getting to work with Imajae'.  Her genuine spirit shines through in all of her pictures.  Also, God gave her some amazing eyes.  She has her mama to thank for that.  We had fun playing around at the Va Tech Arboretum doing some garden style poses and some urban poses.  Crazy mix, I know, but they turned out awesome!

I wasn't kidding about the amazing eyes.  She pushes herself to be the best as she is active in her Senior Fundraising Club and also on the Varsity Cheerleading squad.  

I have had the pleasure of photographing Imajae's awesome family, as well as using her as a model on several occasions.  She is an amazing girl and I know she has a bright future ahead of her.

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Family Fun Photo Sessions / Chesapeake Family Photographer

July 26, 2013

You love your kids!  That doesn't mean they don't drive you crazy, give you grey hairs or less hair, but you wouldn't trade it for anything - most days... just kidding.  I used to think I wanted twins so that I could be done and over, but having 2 kids just short of 19 months apart makes me realize I probably would be totally bald if God had given me twins.  He definitely knows what we can handle.

It makes you sad to think how fast they are growing and how much they are changing (by the days, weeks, months).  So you set up an appointment to have their pictures taken so you can remember them as they are, but in reality we want the nice smiley pictures too.  If the following scenario sounds like you, then you are not alone...  

"Pictures are scheduled for the next day and you've forgotten to plan outfits so like a mad woman you are running around the house looking for coordinated outfits (let's face it, you are looking for non-wrinkly, non-stained, sort of matching outfits).  If you do not succeed a light bulb goes off and you realize you could get yourself a non-kid shopping experience at target out of the predicament you're in.  The husband is more than happy to get his frantic wife out of the house."

"The next morning you are preparing the kids for the session or bribing, black mailing, practicing your evil eye (whatever you want to call it).  As the session time is getting closer everyone gets dressed and threats about messed up hair, spilling on clothes, bad attitudes are reiterated.  Little Jonny refuses to wear the shoes you bought and Sally wants bows that don't even match her dress.  You can feel the tension in the air.  Have I forgotten to mention dad yet?  Hmmm... Ever heard the saying, "If Momma aint happy, then nobody's happy."  Well, the real truth is "If Daddy aint happy, then Momma's not happy, therefore nobody's happy."  Ask any photographer and they will tell you."

"By the time you get to the session, the family that normally loves each other (or at least gets along most of the time) is now ready to pull each other's hair out.  This sounds like a great time to take pictures of each other showing the tight bond they all share, right?  Not!"

Here are some tips for preparing for a session with kids:

1.  Kids can feel the tension in the air and most of the time it causes them to stress.  They don't know how to handle stress well (does anyone?) so they tend to act out.  Try to relax as much as you can which in turn will help the kids relax.  Don't put so much pressure on them to perform, remember you are trying to capture who they are not a hallmark card.  Also remember that children have short attention spans, so breaks to wiggle a little in the session are helpful and not always necessarily an act of defiance.  

1a.  Don't forget teens are a whole different ball game.  They are struggling with self image, figuring out who they are (or want to be), and how to feel good about themselves.  Give them a little freedom in choice of clothes (to an extent - we remember the pictures of ourselves where we thought we were cool too) and allow them to have some input on the session.  Teens are less likely to fake what's not there, so spend quality time with them being silly and getting to know them (don't embarrass though).

2.  An incredible children's photographer named Tamara Lackey had some great tips for helping kids and preparing parents. She warns her parents that the kids will probably misbehave and she is totally fine with that.  She says they are testing their boundaries and seeing how much they can trust this stranger.  She pushes parents to let loose for the session time and allow them a little wiggle room.  The biggest thing she wants parents to know is that she has seen it before so no need to get embarrassed or go full-on drill sergeant on the kid.  The harder you push the more they will push back.  ** Did you know that most of the time if a parent is not in the room the child does better. (Doesn't always work with toddler/stranger danger stage)

3.  Prepare daddy.  Bribery may work for him, but really, make it about being fun.  Get him involved.  If he's not interested, ask him what is the least painful thing he wouldn't mind doing for a picture with his family.  Remind him that these will be passed down for his grandchildren to see and does he really want the grandkids to ask, "Why does Grandpa look like he's constipated?"

4.  Make it FUN!  Gone are the days of the statue poses.  Pick a fun location, create a theme, fly a kite, bring balloons, read a book, pretend to be the "Incredibles."  Just remember that these are memories too and you want to look back and laugh or at least smile.

5.  Now Momma go and reward yourself for a job well done or at least done!

** Stay tuned for upcoming classes on how to take better 'day to day' pictures of your children **

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