Barak Mommy and Me Mini

Getting to capture the little moments between a Mom and her child is so precious and Jennifer and Lucas are no exception.  It’s nice to get to focus on the Mom and her bond since they aren’t always given the chance to be in front of the camera.  That’s what inspired the Mommy and Me Minis was the chance to get to focus on motherhood and the love between mother and child.

I loved this session because Lucas is at a fun age where is is walking and running, exploring and so giggly!  He loved to look at the flowers and snuggle with his momma.  I love that we got so many gorgeous images of them giggling together!  Jen – you are gorgeous and such a wonderful mother, I hope you get to cherish these for a long time.

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Mommy and Me Mini Giveaway Winners!

These two!!!!  These two were SO FUN at our session!  Little Miss Sulli Grace is a firecracker!  I just LOVE kids with big personalities and really hope that Sterling and my kids will be full of energy and personality like Sulli.  She was a HOOT!  Very smart and a great talker, willing to listen and do anything for her mom.  She is fun and silly but also very caring and snuggly.  Best part of the session was at the end when she very sweetly came up to me and said “Okay Alex, all done with pictures.” and then preciously lifted her arms up for me to pick her up and carry her.  ::SWOON::

I was over the moon when they got the mini giveaway because I know Krista has been flirting with getting a session for awhile now.  Plus from the times I’ve interacted with Sulli prior to this she has always been seriously precious!

Enjoy some of my favorites from the day!

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CH CH CH Changes

hate change. Ugh hate it.  It makes me a monster enslaved to anxiety and I fall into a mopey madness of “The grass is always greener where I was last”.  This flaw, which yes is a flaw for me, is my least favorite.  It’s my least favorite because it’s OBNOXIOUS, it holds me back in comfort rather than letting my adventurous heart soar.  I yearn to be one of those people that just rolls with the punches and celebrates new experiences, jumps for joy over unplanned adventures. While I’m working on it, praying over it, actively practicing, it’s still really hard for me.

My journey into/back to/exploring my faith more deeply has helped me so much.  It was this past January that a friend asked if I wanted to go to church with her and I thought “Sure, why not!”  I went with hope and left with peace.  We have had a lot of changes since January and going to church and giving it to God has given me so much peace when normally I would be an angry ball of crazy.  Faith has made these transitions, big decisions and changes easier for me because I’m choosing to give it to God.  In all honesty, I have to because I hate the feeling of not knowing what will happen.  I hate the idea of making big mistakes or of going down the wrong path.  It makes it easier to trust in a greater power that is watching out for me, has my best interest at heart.  Without God, it’s all up to me and since I’m far from perfect the anxiety of choosing the wrong thing is paralyzing at times.  I love praying for God to take my fear, my anxiety and give me peace.  The reality is, everything will work out.  I am deeply blessed and I need to remind myself of this in the midst of decisions and change.  Giving my fear to God gives me the brain power to remember that certain changes are good and that everything happens for a reason.  

Before I chose to walk more closely with God I firmly believed in fait and especially the expression of “everything happens for a reason”.  Now choosing to believe more deeply gives me a greater sense of this.  My life feels more purposeful than arbitrary decisions that could lead to regret.  Now my choices, paths and changes feel like a step in my story versus a potential mistake.  This mind-shift has enabled me to trust my path and embrace change more readily because it can’t be a mistake, just a part of the story.  While I may not always understand and I may hate the anxiety of change I’m forcing myself to remember that everything happens for a reason and I am blessed and need to be grateful.

The ugly truth of this flaw of mine (that I hate change) is that it makes me ungrateful for my blessings.  I realized it this past Sunday at church.  I have been SPITTING on my blessings.  Prayers have been answered, doors opened, great wild beautiful adventures revealed and my poor little silly heart is so swept up in fear and sadness because of change that I have been spitting on all those beautiful blessings.  Instead of singing out with gratitude and seeing the potential and the excitement of these changes I have instead let myself wallow.  Yes wallow.  Silly little girl making problems out of blessings instead of blessings out of blessings.  It hit me this Sunday and I felt sorry.  And I pronounced right then that it is time to stop.  Stop wallowing in change when change means I’m moving forward, walking step by step in my story and living the life I was meant to live.  One of my favorite quotes from Pinterest that I saw a few years ago is “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships are built”.  I’m ready to embrace the change, or try at least because let’s be real, I can be a hot mess sometimes and I’m not perfect.

Sterling and I have some big changes coming soon that many of our close friends know about.  We are praying for a few final details to fall into place before sharing big news with everyone.  What you need to know now is that I am hopeful, grateful and working on embracing the change that is another part of our story.

Prayers welcome, if you’re a prayer.  If not – pizza and giggles over girly movies are SO WELCOME too.

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Newborn Portraits – Virginia Beach Session – Sexton Family

These two are probably one of my all time favorite couples!  They started dating at JMU and so when Sterling and I started dating at JMU we would all meet up on the dance floor on Friday and Saturday nights!  Mike (also fondly known as Big Sexy by almost everyone) lived in the house behind Sterling’s house and we were always at either of those two places during my Grad year.  Kevyn is a teacher like me and tons of fun!  The two of them are the kind of friends you want to stay have in your life forever.

The two of them are genuine in every sense of the word, they are loyal, kind and warm.  Kevyn has a spirit that lights up any room she’s in and a contagious laugh!  Mike gives the best hugs and an equally good listener.  The way they treat their friends though is nothing compared to the love they have for each other.  It’s undeniable.  Even just the way they look at each other from across the room, you can tell that they deeply cherish one another.  It’s a love that their son is so blessed to be a part of, one that some people only dream of and others can only emulate; true, constant, big love that pushes into everything they do.  To see these two as parents was amazing because it’s as if the love they have for each other just grew ten fold to include this little tiny baby boy.

Mike and Kevyn, we love you guys and feel so blessed to call you friends.  I’m so glad to have gotten to take these images for you.

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Ps.  You may also remember them from their engagement session!  Click here to walk down memory lane!

Mommy and Me Minis!

Save the date and grab your spot!  May 19th I’ll be hosting my first Mommy and Me minis and I’m partnering up with Becca from Stella and Dot!  All the jewelry will be available to wear at the session and order on site or ahead of time through our exclusive trunk show.  It’s time to treat yourself or the mom in your life!

Each session slot is 30 minutes for $125.  The focus is motherhood!  Whether you are an expecting mom looking for maternity images or needing a gift idea for your own mom or grandmother in your life, this session is for you!  For all the dads out there this is a great gift idea for your wives and could be an extra treat to let them pick out some jewelry that they like too. 🙂

Want to pre-shop the Stella and Dot goods before the session?  Check out Becca’s link here! 

There are only seven slots left so grab yours quick!  Email me at alex@alexandra-michelle.com if you’re interested!

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Balch – One Year Portraits!

This little girl quite possibly takes the cake for the best facial expressions!  This whole session she had me won over!  The best part was seeing how much she LOVES her parents!  She lights up when they talk to her and just howls with laughter when her dad gets her going.

We had this session over at Belle Isle and the light was gorgeous!  The trees were blooming which gave the perfect pink glow in all the pictures!

Katie and Dan – you have the sweetest little girl!  Thank you for sharing this milestone with me, I had so much fun!

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Austin Trip!

We have been friends since we were kids.  Camp friends, the kind that of friends that share a special bond.  You see camp friends are special.  We used to spend 6 weeks of the summer living in extremely tight quarters laughing, crying, sharing secrets and being absolutely ridiculous.  Then the summer would end and we’d go a whole year without seeing each other (well except for some birthdays).  Our AIM conversations, a few long distance phone calls and some care packages were the only ways we kept in touch until that fateful June day when we’d all run into a new cabin screaming with delight.  So now that we are older and stretched out all over the world our friendships are still in tact because well, we’re used to the distance.  Our friendships were never based on having to spend all our time together, every weekend or every lunch.  Our friendships were based on those giggly, truly free selves that we were able to be every summer away from the pressures of our home realities.

Last year we were able to see a fair amount of each other because we were all bridesmaids in Lauren’s wedding in May and then they were all bridesmaids in my wedding in August!  Two bachelorettes, showers, weddings and all the moments in between left us in September on a friendship high with no real plans for the next time we’d see each other.  Until we realized that this was the year of the 30.  The year we were all turning 30.  It had to be celebrated and what better way than together.  The only question was – where?

Originally we thought – Vegas!  It boasts of constant fun and plenty to do!  But, we quickly reminded ourselves that 5 days in Vegas might be a little too much fun and would inevitably be pricey.  So then we landed on Austin, Texas, quite randomly too.

This past week we traveled to Austin for our Spring Break shenanigans!  Brooksie came from Amsterdam, Elysia from LA, Natalie from NYC and Lauren and me (plus boys) from Richmond! We had the GREATEST time!  Austin is very unique and fun!  We all kept saying over and over again “I’m just so impressed!  Austin is so cool!”.  It has great food, plenty to do outdoors, is walkable and tourist friendly.  There are bike rentals everywhere, live music all the time, a beautiful river and tons of charm.  We couldn’t get over how dog friendly the city was and how clean, safe and accommodating it is.

I could keep writing and give you a true play by play of the entire trip but instead I’ll leave you with my top favorite things/moments of the trip (in no particular order):

  • The pontoon boat trip we took!  So great to be on the water all day and meet new people!  Plus there were some pretty great dance moments!
  • DINO Succulents!  The succulents in Texas are HUGE!  Really!  I kept calling them dino succulents because they were like the dinosaurs of the succulent world.
  • Mexican Food – Such good Mexican food everywhere you go!
  • Barbecue – If you go to Austin and don’t get brisket barbecue then you’re doing it wrong.  Cooper’s and Uncle Billy’s were amazing!  Wish we could have gone to Terry Black’s but it was packed.
  • THE BATS!!  We weren’t sure if we’d see them since it’s still pretty early in the year but we held out and got to see them!  I don’t think all of them were there yet but there were still THOUSANDS!  We lucked out that we were standing in exactly the right spot, the other half of the bridge couldn’t see them because of how dark it was.  I may have been the only one to appreciate this part of the trip but it was seriously cool!
  • Graffiti Park – It was dirty and very crowded but I’m glad we got to see it since they are apparently going to tear it down soon!  It was worth seeing although I don’t think I’d do it more than once.
  • Barton Springs – A natural spring that the city has sectioned off as a swimming hole for anyone (who pays just a few dollars).   There were tons of people with their dogs and kayak rentals to take out to the main river!  Inside of the pool where the spring is there are natural rocks at the bottom where endangered salamanders (The Barton Springs Salamanders) live!  They have lush grass hills to spread out on and since the springs are naturally 72 degrees year round there were plenty of people out swimming!  I’d love to do this again when it is a little warmer!
  • Quality Time – The best part of this trip was getting to check in with one another and spend some quality time together.  Our first dinner together we went around and talked about what we were going to leave behind in our twenties and what we wanted to take forward with us in our thirties.  The week was full of great meaningful check ins that keep us connected.  These conversations paired with tons of giggling made for a wonderful trip.

We had the best time!  Not only because we got to see a new city but more importantly because we got to celebrate a new phase of our lives and friendship together.  Cheers to our 30s!

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Cooper’s was FANTASTIC!  They literally cut the meat right in front of you, dip in sauce and serve!  They also have AMAZING mac & cheese.

We walked over to South Congress and stopped at the Yeti Flagship store – they have a bar with Yeti coolers as the seats!

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These two love each other!  Two peas in a pod!

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I seem to mind Maryland everywhere I go!

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It’s a really funky and unique city – with art EVERYWHERE!

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I LOVE the vibrant colors of the west!

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We visited the State Capital and had to take a picture with the statue tribute to the Alamo.  Sterling is related to William Barret Travis!

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We visited University of Texas!

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I wish I had more pictures of Barton Springs but nothing could do it justice – especially since it was so big!

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On the last day before our flight Sterling and I rolled our suit cases around Zilker Park.  This river access is right below Barton Springs and dumps into the main river.  So beautiful – bright green/blue water and tons of kayakers!

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Richmond Newborn – Rennolds Family

My first real memory of Leslie was initiation night my first year at camp, circa 2000.  She was a JC (Junior Counselor) and this year’s JC group decided to dress up as crazed electricians.  Or something to this affect.  You see, at camp every summer we initiate our first year campers will a scary (and often times silly) story, a walk around camp and a fun introduction to the rest of camp.  Leslie’s group being the “crazed” electricians were dressed up in jeans, plaid, hats and drawn on fake beards (if memory serves me right).  I was 12 as a first year camper and she was 16 and we had no idea we’d be such good friends.

Fast forward 5 years and Leslie is my first co-counselor at camp.  I felt pretty lucky actually because Leslie was the “Mother of the Row” and I was less nervous knowing I’d have help from a pro!  We lived in Pony Express with about 12 nine to ten year olds and boy was it a crazy summer.  Note-ably of course, was the 2 week long guessing game of “who is wetting the bed?”.  Which ended with a surprise twist and cabin sweeps for three cabins.  Truly a memorable summer!  In our time as co-counselors together she taught me how to sweep away homesickness, laugh through the weird moments and of course get 12 crazy nine year olds to bed, which is not always an easy task.  She was a role model that I always looked up to.

Leslie quickly became a very close friend of mine and a person who I can always call on for help.  She is fiercely loyal, a great listener and silly.  Greg is the calm in any storm, easy going and a perfect match for Leslie.  Seeing them become parents has been a real honor.  It is already evident that Greg and Leslie are great parents, they are grounded in love for each other and their new baby.  This family of five (let’s not forget the two pups) is simply lovely!  Congratulations Leslie and Greg!  I’m so happy for you guys!

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Newborn Portraits – Sam – Charlottesville

Meet my new nephew!! That’s right this little cutie is my sister in law’s son and so obviously I’m biased in thinking he’s precious!  He is officially a month old now and doing very well!  His sister Cora has adapted so well and is really sweet with him.  She is gentle and kind and even calms him down by saying “It’s okay little buddy, it’s okay.” ::swoon::  Sam meanwhile is an observer, calm and quietly takes it all in.  He has big blue eyes that watch you intently.  It’s going to be great watching these two grow up! Read More »

2018 – My Butterfly Year

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The end of 2017 had me doing a lot of reflection and in the midst of all this reflection I came across this post on the Tone It Up account and it really struck a cord with me.  You see I found myself lost a lot this past year.  Unsure of who I really was and where I wanted to go.  It was the hardest year for me professionally and I personally didn’t feel connected to who I really was.  I didn’t understand where all this came from until seeing this post and reminding myself that it was just a season.  2017 was a year of ups and downs that I needed in order to realize what was really happening, I was growing and I just didn’t realize it.  While I felt like I was in a cocoon, wrapped up in self doubt, there was a ton of people in my life who were there for me and knew what I could become.  I needed the hard moments of last year to make me see how far off course I had gotten from who I truly was.  I didn’t feel like myself because in all honesty, I wasn’t being myself.   I had lost sight of the goofy person who never cared what others thought, the girl who said yes to adventures over sitting on the couch, the girl who saw the good in everyone first and was uncomfortable bringing them down.  That girl wasn’t around in 2017, but she is now.

While I questioned a lot this past year, I was consistently guided back to things that bring me joy.  I prayed a lot this year, which I’m usually very private about, but I have to say that in doing so, in asking for guidance, I found that I got the answers that I desperately needed.

When I was discouraged in the classroom and decided to look for new opportunities a door swung open to a job that I LOVE.  I got my sparkle back that I was losing and now am able to share my sparkle with others and help people which fills me with so much joy!

Relationships is the heart string of 2017.  When I needed it the most, old friends came back into my life and reminded me of the girl I really am.  I found myself closer to my sister this year when I found myself stressed and overwhelmed by wedding planning. These friendships that I had neglected for a long time are now breathing truth and new life into me.  Reminding me of who I really am and helping me focus on what really matters.

I’ve also been consistently reminded of how many people are in my corner.  Each time I’ve shared out something personal I’ve had hundreds of people who have been there encouraging me and reminding me how blessed I am.  And of course, through everything, my relationship with Sterling has been the most constant force, having him as family is the the best part of 2017 and my future.

While 2017 may not have been a year of a ton of outward growth, it’s been a year of tons of internal reflection and appreciation.  I’m ready for 2018 and I’m ready to show up and be a better person.  I’m ready to reconnect with my genuine self and spend more intentional time with people I love that remind me of my focus and my heart song.

This year I’m determined to try…

  • Saying YES to positivity and gratitude
  • Saying YES to adventures
  • Saying NO to gossip and negativity
  • Saying YES to relationships that bring me joy
  • Saying YES to helping others
  • Saying YES to eating healthier
  • Saying YES to working out consistently and getting stronger 
  • Saying YES to my faith and strengthening it
  • Saying NO to silly spending in order to say yes to long term savings
  • Saying NO to soda (this makes me sad, but it has to go)
  • Saying YES to more me time

In 2018 I’m focusing on reconnecting with myself and my genuine happiness.  I’m determined to put intentional energy into old friendships that I deeply cherish and lift me up.   I’m excited for 2018 because I finally don’t feel as lost as I did in 2017.  I don’t feel like the caterpillar who is hungry for more and I don’t feel myself hiding away my true self in the cocoon.  I’m ready to be the butterfly and try new things, open my wings and show off my true self.  This is my year.

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