2021 Fall Minis

It’s happening!! They are here!! The most wonderful time of the year!! It’s MINI SEASON!

I know I say this every year but I just LOVE mini-season!! I love love love that 90% of mini sessions are returning families and I get to see these kiddos grow up and get bigger and bigger each year! These sessions are SO fun and we’ll do just about anything to get the smiles! I LOVE all the bootie shaking, fart joke giggles, and silliness that happens during minis. I LOVE how excited the kids get to see me โ€“ almost as excited as I am to see them! I love catching up with families that have become friends and hearing about the new things that have happened in their lives. And I love being able to serve these friends with beautiful images of their families that they can keep and cherish.

All minis are 30-minute sessions at one location. You are guaranteed at least 15 images โ€“ the perfect way to snag a holiday card image and update your family albums. ๐Ÿ™‚ย Keep scrolling to see how to snag your spot for Richmond Minis 2021!

RICHMOND MINIS

Minis will be hosted on three separate days this year and at varying locations to add some versatility. All three dates also have rain dates mapped out and both weekends must be available in order to book in case of rain. Spots are more limited this year than in years past so donโ€™t hesitate to grab yours!

To reserve your spot, email me at Alex@alexandra-michelle.com for full details. For details on how we will stay safe amongst the pandemic scroll to the bottom for COVID Precautions.

COVID INFORMATION:  

In order to keep your family and my family safe, weโ€™ll have to be extra cautious because of COVID 19.  Please see the guidelines below that weโ€™ll follow to make sure we are all safe.  These are subject to change depending on the case numbers in Virginia.

  • All participants must take their temperature the morning of the session.  If any participant has a fever or feels sick or is showing COVID-19 symptoms, they must forego their mini session.  They will not have to pay the remainder of their balance and will be refunded their deposit. 
  • Social distancing between myself (Alex) and participants will be kept when masks are off (6 feet at least)
  • Masks may be worn by adults when not being photographed. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for use by participants 
  • Unlimited air hugs will be available at any time.  
  • 25% Deposits are due upon booking and can be refunded only for cancelation due to coronavirus (aka showing symptoms, spiking a fever, exposure etc.).  Final remaining payments can be made after the session has been completed and before galleries are delivered. 
  • All payments must be paid online and cannot be paid via cash or check in order to limit germ exposure.  
  • IF the state of Virginia goes into a statewide shutdown due to COVID numbers increasing and businesses are not allowed to operate and/or it becomes unsafe to host minis, the mini session may be canceled and full refunds will be made with advanced notice.  

To all my Maryland families:

I am so sad I won’t be able to make it up to Maryland this year for minis. I want you to have the best portrait experience and so I’m sending you an email with a list of other photographers in the area that I think would do an amazing job!

My 11 year Quilt(s)

This. took. forever. A labor of love for ELEVEN YEARS and I am SO glad to be done and also so proud of myself for finishing. So many mistakes were made, so so so many, which is why this quilt did not turn out as one big 6ft x 7ft quilt but instead became TWO MINI QUILTS. I’ll get into that in a second. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also DISCLAIMER: this post is SUPER long but it’s only fitting since it took me SO LONG to finish this quilt haha.

I’ve made a total of 2 (well I guess now 3) quilts in my life and each time I started a quilt it was during a summer when I didn’t/couldn’t go to summer camp. Each time I found myself so camp sick and wishing I was in the Shenandoah mountains, jumping in the river. I needed something to keep my mind busy so I wouldn’t go crazy from boredom. Lesson learned: summer camp is more consistent fun than ANYTHING ELSE you can do in the summer, always choose to go! So this quilt was my second project and I started it in the summer of 2010. I had just graduated undergrad from JMU and my graduate school program started immediately after in May. All my college room mates moved out to go on with their grand adventures and I was in Harrisonburg in my very lonely townhouse. I couldn’t go to camp that summer since my grad classes started in May lasted through July before picking back up in late August. So I decided to pick up a new project and this quilt was born. I sat down with a pen and graph paper and sketched out the design. I wanted it to be a full sized throw so I did all the math calculations for how big each block would need to be in order for the final design to be 6ft by 7ft. I picked out five green fabrics and five yellow fabrics and started to cut! First mistake made.

Now you should know that this entire quilt, from start to finish, was one mistake after the next. I nearly gave up and threw EVERY BIT of it away multiple times. The first big mistake I made was not understanding basic quilting techniques. I thought that I would sew all of the diamonds together and so I cut out the large diamonds before really figuring out how I’d piece them together or do the edges…. So yeah, I have TONS of precut squares of EVERY fabric for this quilt just sitting in bags upstairs… because they were the wrong size once I finally figured out how to do it properly…. Mistake number 2: I bought more fabric and cut MORE fabric for the new pieces instead of just making the old pieces work…. (so many face palms here).

Well then the quilt lay dormant for a few years because I realized I didn’t actually know how to piece these together. Then I met a friend teaching at Quioccasin Middle School who also liked to quilt and was far more experienced than me! She invited me over to her house and we had quilting dates were we hung out and did projects together. In all honesty, without her encouragement and guidance, I would have NEVER finished this or actually enjoyed the process. Well I finished about half of the blocks and then, I got busy with life. I’d pick it up here and there and do a little bit more before putting it back down again. What I realize now is that Alex in her 20s didn’t dig the meticulous process that is quilting. I didn’t love having to sew and then iron and then cut and then sew and then iron and then cut and on and on and on it went. It was too slow for me then. So even when I wanted to finish it I just couldn’t get enthusiastic enough to do it. And then I was doomed. My sewing machine died.

Yes it’s true. The sewing machine I got when I was in 3rd grade and had ever since, called it quits on me. I tried taking it to the sewing machine doctor to get it fixed but was ultimately told that the machine I had had run out it’s life and wasn’t fixable. So that was that. My pieces of this quilt sat in a box for the next 5 years traveling from house to house to house. In grand total this quilt has moved with me to 10 different homes. WOW.

Flash forward to Mother’s day of last year when I was pregnant with Finley and my parents gifted me a new sewing machine for my first pre-baby mother’s day. I now had the opportunity to finish this quilt! I didn’t have any more excuses. The reality though was that I honestly didn’t want to finish it, I just didn’t like it anymore. I fell out of love with the fabrics and couldn’t get myself geared up to finish. The real reason I finished this quilt was because I made myself do it. I have three (or more if we’re being honest) projects that I am SO excited to start and I looked at this big box of fabric and half pieced quilt and said “I’m not allowing myself to do any of the fun projects I want until I finish this d*#$ quilt.”

So with a new found motivation I sat down and BUSTED IT OUT! I mean really! The quilt in total is 42 blocks and before this moment I had finished 20 of them. In TWO WEEKS I finished the other 22 blocks and was ready to piece the whole thing together. I was PUMPED! I instra-storied the whole layout of the big quilt, organized the rows, sat down to start pinning and realized the biggest mistake of the entire eleven year project. The blocks didn’t fit together.

Yup. All of the blocks that I started on my old machine measured 12in x 12in (almost) exactly. All of the new blocks from the past two weeks… measured 11in x 11in (or even 11.5in x 11.5in)…. Yup. It’s because my old machine had a quarter inch seam presser foot and I assumed that the edge of my new machine’s presser foot would also yield a 1/4 inch seam… No such luck. It instead was 3/8inch seam. And yes, the 1/8th of an inch did make that much of a difference. Full discloser moment: I did notice the mistake earlier on in the process but that that maybe all of the fabric had collectively shrunk… at the same rate… over the course of the last eleven years.. Yeah, my brain was off that day.

You might ask – “So what? What’s the big deal?” Well with the blocks being off by an inch all around meant the points on the diamonds didn’t line up and the edges didn’t match. Huge deal with a HUGE headache of solutions that was WAY MORE work. “UGGGGHHHH” + tons of curse words was my response. I literally sat slumped in my chair staring at the pieces for 30 minutes thinking “Welp, I’m done. I’m throwing this all away.”

I reached out to my old quilting buddy friend for ideas and she was such a help problem solving with me. And then I realized the answer. Just split them up and make two tiny quilts. It was almost evenly split with 12x12s and 11x11s and so I took what would fit together and made two separate baby quilts. Each quilt used 15 blocks, totaling 30 of the 42 blocks. Blocks that were too small, wouldn’t fit, or in a fabric I no longer loved, got tossed to the side and I only focused on what I could make work. The other 12 pieces became scrap for practice or are still being stored in my attic. (Shout out to anyone wanting them! They are yours for the low low cost of FREE!). Years before I had bought new yellow and green fabric to use for the quilt instead of older fabric I no longer liked and it happened to be just the right size for the backing fabric. Within a few weeks I finished both!

With a TON of broken needles, A LOT of cursing, the wrong walking foot purchased, a trip to the sewing machine doctor, and mistakes made EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, I finally finished, eleven years later. With the final touches of quilt labels hand sewn onto the backs and a vinyl applique of our camp’s symbol ironed on, they are done. Since I was on the green team, Finley is going to keep the quilt with the green backing and the quilt with the yellow backing is going off to Richmond for my camp friend Lauren’s baby girl Rook (Lauren was on the Buff (a version of yellow) team).

Now that they are done, I kind of love them. I also love that they are two separate quilts and will have a longer life in two homes. I love that the quilts are twins and can connect Finley and Rook, if they want of course :). I don’t typically brag on myself but I have to say that as many visible mistakes as there are (like 1/4 of a block being cut off the top), I’m really proud of these. I’m proud of them not because they are beautiful or perfect but because they are done. I didn’t let myself throw away years of work just because I was bored with it and now I have something to give away that represents finishing the job even when it’s not perfect and when you’re mentally over it. ๐Ÿ™‚

So here are some pictures of the finished projects and of course some cutie pics of Finley too since she was my side kick through the final push! You won’t have to look too closely to see the mistakes haha but I think they’re pretty regardless. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also it’s worth mentioning that the 30s version of me LOVES the slow meticulous process that is quilting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Finley deserves an award for most patient self timer baby!
The two quilts compliment each other with opposite backings and bindings. Finley will keep the one with the green back and my good friend Lauren’s baby will receive the yellow backed one. I used Terrial Magic spray to stiffen fabric. Then I was able to print directly on the fabric to make the quilt labels. More mistakes were made when I didn’t set the ink with vinegar before sewing it on to the quilt. Of course it bled everywhere the second it got wet and I had to tear it out and redo the process…. (Face Palm).

Meet the Toomeys!

I met up with the Toomey family this past fall in the charming DC neighborhood! We walked to their neighborhood school which has the most amazing park-playground. I knew I’d mesh well with this sweet family because we got connected through a camp friend of mine who happens to be child hood friends with Ellett. Their daughter is just a little older than Finley too and their two boys are full of spunk and energy!

We had a blast! Starting off with Coleman, their oldest, turning on his jet packs to blast off! It couldn’t have been cuter seeing him run around pretending to have his jets on. Then he’d say “jets off” to stop. :). He also informed me that he never runs out of fuel for his jets (what a hoot!)! Reid, their other son, is one step behind his brother, running and playing just as fast as he can too. His sweeter side comes out though as he loves his family! He watched to make sure the were all close and ran after anyone who ventured off. So sweet! We spent the session letting the boys be boys and run and play and climb as well as letting them teach me things. Coleman was the best at describing things and I really loved when he’d own not knowing something. At one point I said “Okay! So we’re going to zig zag down this bridge, do you think you could do that!?” and he goes “Yes! But first – can you tell me what zig zag is because I don’t think I know.” My teacher heart swooned!

Since we were at the park-playground where Coleman would go to school I naturally asked how school was going. And he explained all about how school hadn’t really started yet because of the “germ days” and I have to admit that I loved this explanation.

We were lucky enough to be able to wear masks and keep a fair distance between all of us to stay safe but still have a nice time together. Ellett and Kevin were so kind and easy going, which makes a huge difference when photographing littles. I loved their ability to laugh along with the fun and the images of the five of them laughing together are some of my favorites!

Finley’s 3rd & 4th Month!

I have been trying to get this post created for (obviously) two months ::face palm::. I have been making a concerted effort to get TONS of pictures of our life with Finley as she gets older. I’ve been taking my camera everywhere and unapologetically been demanding pictures because the cliche saying that they grow up too fast is too true – THEY GROW UP TOO FAST. I’m so glad I have these images and these frozen moments in time but now I have a back log of images to share :). A good problem to have, no doubt.

That other cliche saying of “I wish there were more hours in the day” is also very true of parenthood. In the hubbub of Fall Minis, a 12 week growth spurt, the holidays, Christmas shopping, and a four month sleep regression, I have found so many excuses to put off writing this post. The thing is, I WANT to share these images because in a few months, a year or more I will be so glad that I can look back on this post. I have been blogging here since 2011 and every so often I’ll go back in time and look at personal blog posts of what I was randomly doing. This place is like a scrapbook of my post college life and I LOVE it! So as much as I’m sharing these images for you to see – I’m totally sharing these images for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

NOW the reason for the post – Finley updates!!

In the past two months she has really grown SO much! Not only is she significantly bigger but she also has a bigger and bigger personality! Between 3 and 4 months she became so much more interactive and you can see it in the pictures below. At three months she’d make eye contact, track us and smile but also had a real serious face (as seen below) and would still space out. Jump to 4 months and she smiles ALL the time, has tons of little facial expressions and even laughs! Even her doctor kept saying at her four month check up “WOW she is so expressive!” :).

I love that she LOVES being read to and will even grab the book and push to move the pages. She is OBSESSED with her play mat and all the things we have hanging from it for her to grab, chew on and feel. She found her hands and loves chewing on them. She LOVES the bath and makes a HUGE mess as she kicks like crazy – splashing water EVERYWHERE. ๐Ÿ™‚ At 11 weeks she started sleeping through the night but has recently hit a bit of a sleep regression. We’re hoping it won’t last long but who knows. It’s hard that she struggles to fall asleep but I do love that she’s easily comforted by being held and snuggled, so I’m exhaustedly soaking up the snuggles.

I’m so glad to be sharing these images and want to give you fair warning that this is a pretty big photo dump. ๐Ÿ™‚ We love this girl more and more and as hard and exhausting as it is – it is truly the so much fun watching her grow and learn!

Finley LOVES this fox. We named him “Mr. Fox” and she thinks he’s the greatest.
The face on the left KILLS ME – I’m DYING laughing!!

The next few pictures are from the beginning of October when Finley had just turned two months (and was in her third month – thus being included in this post). We had just taken the Perez family pictures and we hung back after their session so Sterling could get some pictures of me and Finley. She looks SO different here! It’s amazing to see the difference, she’s so much more interactive with people and her surroundings now.

One day this past October I was driving past the Maryland Agriculture Resource Council and noticed this GORGEOUS road that was tree lined with BEAUTIFUL colorful leaves. I came home and said to Sterling that we HAD to get fall pictures there before the leaves fell. Thank God we did because three days later I drove past it again and EVERY leaf had fallen off. We tried so hard to get a family picture together using my tripod but the distance was too far for the phone remote app and none of them turned out. I’m so grateful I got preordered a clicker for my camera to own for any future spontaneous photo shoots. ๐Ÿ™‚

When we were in Richmond for minis Sterling’s family came over from Charlottesville to have a socially distanced lunch with us. Sterling’s sister’s family had never met Finley so it was especially nice. His mom even got a COVID test so she could hold Finley.

GiGi and her Granddaughters

FOUR MONTHS

Now for some iPhone pics

These bear outfits kill me ๐Ÿ™‚
Holding her bottle for the first time. I only sobbed a little bit ๐Ÿ™‚
She looks so much smaller here!!
My friend Jessie, Finley and I went to a park and walked around together. We took off our masks for a second to snag our own socially distanced pictures in front of this really cool painted barns.
Oh she just loves her Daddy
Happy Halloween indeed.

Perez Family Southern Maryland Fall Sessions

As I wrap up another amazing fall season with over 30 families served I have made a goal for myself to actually blog and share the images from this season! You see, every year I get so wrapped up in the hustle of the fall season and holiday minis that I always lapse on sharing the images! The Perez family is a perfect example! The images from their second milestone session last year were some of my favorites of the season but I never got to share them! So this year I cheated a bit and combined the images from their second milestone session from 2019 and this years fall session โ˜บ๏ธ. You can check out their first milestone session here.

Julia and Chris are friends of ours from college and we have many a late night shenanigan story shared with them. Whatโ€™s fun about our sessions is that we have recently tried to schedule them so that Sterling can come at the end and we can at least spend time together. This year with COVID we havenโ€™t gotten to see them so it was especially exciting to get to take their pictures and meet up at a park to socially distance spend time together. Finley was only 2 months old so we planned for Sterling and Finley to drive with me and hang out at the park while I took these images. It worked out great because they got to meet Finley in a socially distanced way.

Whatโ€™s crazy to see in this joint post is how much of a difference a year makes! Jackson looks SO much older in the 2020 images than from the year before! Heโ€™s notably taller but has lost some of his baby face too. Each boy is so uniquely different and great in their own way. Jackson is outgoing, adventurous and a strong leader. Ryan is observant, loving, sweet and independent. I had a blast walking through Black Hill Park near Gaithersburg Maryland for our session this year and downtown Frederick last year with this sweet family. We played games, used our imagination and laughed a lot!

Enjoy this joint blog post of our sweet friends and their precious family!

2019

2020

2020 Mini Schedule!

Today, in so many ways, feels like Christmas because I seriously look forward to Minis all year! I love getting to see so many families that I cherish and have worked with for YEARS! Last year 88% of my Richmond Minis were families I’ve worked with before! This alone makes it so worth it! I get to see and catch up with people that I LOVE! Whether these are people that I’ve taught with, went to camp with as a kid, know from JMU or met while photographing years back, I’d consider them all friends.

Last year I added Maryland Minis to the mix and it was such a success! I had two times my expected number of sessions and got to scope out a new local location. Maryland Minis were such a treat because it was more relaxed and spaced out and I could easily go home during breaks. Plus I got to meet a bunch of new families with the cutest littles.

So for 2020 I’m going to do host both Richmond and Maryland Minis again! With all things COVID and having a new baby at home, I’m taking extra precautions for each session. For Richmond I’m asking that everyone make sure that the session date AND the rain day option work since we have to be outdoors and cannot reschedule outside of the rain plan weekend. I’m also asking that everyone take their temperatures leading up to the day of the session and the morning of the session. Additionally everyone will need to bring and wear masks while not being photographed and we’ll have to do air hugs from a distance (the worst restriction in my opinion). We will all keep a safe distance apart (at least 6 feet) and I’ll be using a longer focal length lens to make sure you still get dreamy images while staying a distance away.

I know I’ve said it a MILLION times but being able to see these kiddos grow up and get bigger and bigger each year is such a blessing! I LOVE all the bootie shaking, fart joke giggles, and silliness that happens during minis. I LOVE how excited the kids get to see me – almost as excited as I am to see them! I love catching up with families that have become friends and hearing about the new things that have happened in their lives. And I love being able to serve these friends with beautiful images of their families that they can keep and cherish.

All minis are 30 minute sessions at one location. You are guaranteed at least 15 images – the perfect way to snag a holiday card image and update your family albums. ๐Ÿ™‚ Since this is my FIFTH year hosting minis I’m also going to offer a FLASH SALE of 10% off the session fee if you book (deposit paid) within the first 24 hours (aka today September 25th by midnight). ๐Ÿ™‚

To reserve your spot, email me at Alex@alexandra-michelle.com for full details. For details on how we will stay safe amongst the pandemic scroll to the bottom for COVID Precautions.

RICHMOND MINIS

Minis will be hosted on Saturday and Sunday November 7th and 8th with the RAIN DATES on November 14th and 15th. Both weekends must be available in order to book in case of rain on the weekend of the 7th and 8th. Spots are more limited this year so don’t hesitate to grab yours! Can’t wait to see you in November at Byrd Park!

MARYLAND MINIS

Minis will be hosted on October 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th! YES that’s right we added another weekend! Session times are limited to evenings which to grab that beautiful golden hour light. Session times range from 3:00pm -6:00pm. Minis this year will be hosted at Oregon Ridge Park!

And of course – here is a glimpse back at some of my favorite images from last years minis ๐Ÿ™‚

COVID INFORMATION:  

In order to keep your family and my family safe, we’ll have to be extra cautious because of COVID 19.  Please see the guidelines below that we’ll follow to make sure we are all safe.  

  • All participants must take their temperature the morning of the session.  If any participant has a fever or feels sick or is showing COVID-19 symptoms, they must forego their mini session.  They will not have to pay the remainder of their balance and will be refunded their deposit. 
  • Social distancing between myself (Alex) and participants will be kept at all times (6 feet at least)
  • Masks will be worn by adults when not being photographed. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for use by participants 
  • Unlimited air hugs will be available at any time.  
  • 25% Deposits are due upon booking and can be refunded only for cancelation due to coronavirus (aka showing symptoms, spiking a fever, exposure etc.).  Final remaining payments can be made after the session has been completed and before galleries are delivered. 
  • All payments must be paid online and cannot be paid via cash or check in order to limit germ exposure.  
  • IF the state of Maryland or Virginia goes into a statewide shutdown due to COVID numbers increasing and businesses are not allowed to operate and/or it becomes unsafe to host minis, the mini session may be canceled and full refunds will be made with advanced notice.  

Finley’s Newborn Portraits

New mom confession: We took these pictures weeks ago (like 10 days after she was born) and it took me until this past weekend to finally finish editing them. One thing I love about Finley is that she loves to be held and is such a snuggle bug. But, one thing that’s hard about Finley is that she loves to be held so I don’t have full access to my hands to get things done. My mom guilt made me feel pretty bad that it every day editing these images was on my to do list and each day I just couldn’t get it done. I eventually had to realize that this is my new normal and I needed to give myself all the grace!

Read More »

Finley’s First Month

It has been a whole month since our baby girl was born and it feels oddly like it was yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. It’s 9:38pm on the night before September 1st and I am forcing myself to sit down and write out this post because 1) it has been on my to do list for awhile now and 2) I know I will be so mad at myself if I don’t. So… in the full transparent parent truth, I’m sitting here with the messiest bun, spit up on on my shirt, haven’t eaten and Sterling is taking one for the team trying to put Finley back to bed as she’s upstairs crying. Now this picture may seem chaotic (and it is) but through all the chaos and tears, mess and poop, this has been the most beautiful month of my life.

Read More »

Building the Crib

One of the things I was most looking forward to doing for our baby as new first time parents was picking out and building the crib.ย  It felt like such a “parent” thing to do and made me feel like I was doing something specific for our baby.ย ย We bought our crib from Target and decided to get the one that will convert into a toddler and then full size bed when she’s older.ย  We felt oddly particular about which one to get and spent a fair amount of time comparing different styles before settling on the one we picked.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Read More »