Class of 2015 Representing.

At the end of last year I was done photographing seniors. I had some bad experiences with people and even though I love photographing them, I decided I was done. No marketing for them. No reps. No magazine. Just.plain.done.

And then people started finding me. So I shot. And I loved all of them!

Here are my seniors from 2014.

Way to represent, class of 2015! You guys are all pretty amazing!

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Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a photographer

I remember the days when my boys were adorable and little. I snapped a million pictures a day. You know the ones…the bath pictures, the sledding pictures, the giggly pictures and the spaghetti face pictures. The lighting was all wrong. The focus was off. The technical details were just bad. But now I have albums filled with tons of “bad” photos that I absolutely adore. I love looking back at them and seeing how much my kids have grown. Remembering Ry with his bowl hair cut and the days AJ was actually shorter than me!

Then I had to go and become a professional photographer. My hard drive is chockablock filled with images of other people’s adorable kids with just the right lighting, great focus and technical goodness. And the pictures of my own kids? Are few and far between. And when I do take them? I almost immediately feel like I can’t post them because people are going to look at them and go…what was she thinking? Those are all wrong!

But ya know what? I need to get back to that. I brought my camera with me to a couple of AJ’s games. And I have to admit, I almost begrudgingly dragged it with me. Thinking…ugh. I have to bring the right lens, and try to be creative with where I am sitting, and then I have to go home and edit them. And what will people think when they see how out of focus everything is? And on and on and on.

It’s weird when you have to remind yourself to CHILL! Just chill. I am a regular old mom, who is going to her son’s game. Sitting in a tiny gym filled with noisy fans all up in my grill. And I am just going to snap some pictures so I don’t forget when my son was in the 8th grade. I want to be able to see him playing with his friends, and then be able to look back at these when he is a senior and say…Look at Nathaniel and Luke! They look so different! And I want to remember what Riley looked like as an 11-year-old. With his tooth just growing in, and his hair all not-done! I just want to remember. And I want to not care what anyone else thinks. I want to take a picture and print it out because it’s that face AJ does when he is laughing the hardest. And it is the expression Riley makes when he is making people laugh. I just want to remember that.

There are days I wish I wasn’t a photographer. I just want to be a mom. Just a mom at her son’s game. So tonight, that is what I was. Just a mom.

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Some real life at the Chase’s

I don’t always post about what is going on in my every day life. Partly because I think I would stress myself out even reading it. ha. Things are…busy. Always. But I hate the thought of coming across as a complainer. And reading about the stress of someone else’s life doesn’t really seem like it would benefit anyone.

So here’s just a little bit of some real life at the Chase’s. We are in the middle of indoor soccer season for both boys, and middle school basketball for AJ. That means AJ has practice every day, and games Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Riley has games on Monday nights as well which has made for some difficult maneuvering.

We are loving the excitement that comes with opening The Porch every day. After 5 years, it still doesn’t get old for us. We have new kids coming in almost every day, and I am still just so thankful that God has decided to use us to reach hundreds of kids with His love. It may seem insignificant to some, but I am positive it is not insignificant to them! We are offering a community service project this week that I’m really looking forward to.

10834882_1005958926099812_1753805727605941193_oMy busy season for photography is slowing down, although I had a proposal shoot last weekend, a family shoot next weekend and a wedding in a few weeks!

Things are starting to slow down a little bit for us with school, so we were able to relax a little bit this morning and just enjoy reading with no pressure of having to write a paper about it or anything!

I love being with these boys. I honestly never even thought far enough ahead when my boys were little that they would become my friends when they grew up. It’s not that I thought we would not be friends, I just never thought of this aspect of parenting! It is pretty amazing. These boys make me laugh, take care of me, and bring so much joy to my life every single day.

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Threads, Kicks and Frosting ~ Flannel for the win

Flannels and plaid are totally the way to go. You can be comfortable, but still colorful and stylish. If you don’t have a flannel shirt? Go get you one. Or…you can raid your husband’s (or your son’s!) closet for one. Pair it up with a pair of jeans and boots, or (if it’s long enough) a pair of leggings! This time of year especially will always be flannel for the win!

2014-12-16_0001 2014-12-16_00032014-12-16_0002I am currently accepting submissions to be featured on my blog! If you have a great outfit for yourself or your kids, or want to talk up a great place to buy clothes, please contact me here for info on how to be published on my Threads, Kicks and Frosting series.  I would love to hear from you!

Mommy Monday ~ Giving your kids excuses

You know exactly what I’m talking about. Your kids throws a temper tantrum and you look at the people staring and say sheepishly, “She’s over tired.” Or maybe you’re at a friends house and your son grabs a toy out of their son’s hands so you find yourself saying, “He hasn’t been feeling well lately.” or “He’s hungry”, or any other number of excuses.
Now…before you think you can’t relate to this post, it doesn’t stop when kids are older. I have seen the same thing happen with teenagers who mouth off to their parents. It’s been a bad day at school, or they had a bad game, and on and on it goes.
Here’s the thing.

You are not doing your child any favors by giving them excuses!

Disobedience is disobedience. No excuses.

And not only is it just bad when they are young, you are setting them up for failure when they are older! How many bosses will tell their employees that the slacking off and rudeness is ok because they were up late the night before?! None! It is just not acceptable.

The training starts at 2 years old when kids are allowed to use excuses to get them out of bad behavior. And it’s not even the kids who are coming up with the excuses, it’s their parents!

Stop giving your kids excuses!

I’m not saying that we can’t have mercy and show grace during difficult times for our kids. There is a time and place for that. I remember a young mom telling me that she didn’t know why her 2 year old was throwing a fit one night. I discovered after asking a few questions that she had taken her daughter out shopping, and it was 10:00pm and she hadn’t eaten supper yet! That is just setting her up for failure. Don’t do that. It doesn’t help anyone!

When your child is overtired? Make sure you are still calm and in control. They need to know that you understand how tired they are, but that you are still expecting them to obey you. If you normally give one chance to obey before discipline? Maybe tell them that you are going to give them 2 chances this time, but after that they will be disciplined.

Set them up for success. Teaching them how to have control when they are tired, hungry or disappointed is going to help you in the future. Just tonight, we were driving home from AJ’s basketball game. He had lost a close game.  Riley was in the back seat and he was still a little bummed that we had to miss his soccer game to be at AJ’s game. Riley said something that bugged AJ, and AJ reacted quickly. He almost immediately said. I am really bummed about losing my game…but it’s not a good excuse to say that, Ry. Sorry. 

And just like that, after years of teaching self control over your emotions, they worked through a disagreement without any help from me. Let me tell you…that made me so proud. Because it’s what we strive for! It’s what we work so hard for. And to see it pay off is just so rewarding.

So. If your child is 2 or 3? A couple tips:

1. Set your kids up for success not failure. If at all possible, don’t put them in situations that are going to require a lot of them when you know they are tired.

2. If that is not possible, be prepared to calmly take care of the situation with discipline without falling back on excuses for them. That is not going to help them.

If your child is older than that? A couple tips:

1. Set your kids up for success not failure. If at all possible, don’t put them in situations that are going to require a lot of them when you know they are tired or disappointed. (sound familiar?)

2. If that is not possible, be prepared to calmly take care of the situation. Remind them over and over that disobedience is disobedience. They are responsible for their actions regardless of how tired, hungry or disappointed they are.

Don’t you think we would have a whole lot more fun as a family if we just stopped giving others outs for the behavior?! Let’s work on this together. If you have been in the habit of dishing out excuses for your kids? Remember that is not going to be worth it in the long run. Let them take responsibility for their actions. And then watch them start learning and starting to obey without being told!  You will fee so good that you did!

Wifey Wednesday ~ Let’s talk about sex

Gasp!
What is this post possibly going to be talking about?! Don’t worry…I won’t make you feel uncomfortable!

When I decided to write about this topic, it was for a very good reason. I have watched a lot of marriages over the years. Some marriages have lasted through trials and storms, and others have broken up at the first sight of trouble. For years, I have also seen people trying to figure out what the secret is to keeping a marriage together. Some people like to use the standard communication is the key answer, while others come up with long lists in keeping your marriage strong. Some make sense, others don’t.

It is no secret that I believe keeping God as the foundation of your life is the key to keeping a marriage strong, but even that is kind of a generalized answer. I don’t have all the answers. I am not trying to claim that I do. But after being married for over 15 years I have definitely learned some things about how to and how not to act!

If I could only give a woman just one piece of advice on how she needs to act as a wife, it would come in the form of a question:

Does your husband fully trust you?

Provberbs 31:10-11 talks about a virtuous woman (or a woman of noble character) when it says this… A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. The King James version says that the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.

I have seen over and over again wives who think it is perfectly acceptable to put their husband down, talk bad about his character and make him look awful in front of him as well as behind his back. I do think that this is a huge problem, but that is not actually what I am talking about right now.

What I am talking about right now is sex…And all the talking about it. And here is what I believe. There should be at least one thing in your marriage that is just between you and your husband.
No one else. And that one thing should be your sexual relationship. Sex is something that has become totally normal and commonplace not only with adults, but with children as well. I see that all the time in my line of work. Sex is nothing more than another act of “love” or lust in any given relationship. With all the movies and books written about it, people are being encouraged to talk about all the aspects of it with their friends. When this happens, it now makes your marriage relationship no different than your friend relationships. I mean, what is any different about it? Nothing is sacred, everything is open for discussion.
Sex was designed to be something between the husband and the wife. Not the husband and the wife and the girls down at the coffee shop.

So the next time you go to talk about the good or bad details of your sex life with your friends, maybe think again. Think about if your husband would still have full confidence in you if you continued to talk about it. Think about if your husband’s heart is safe to trust you when he knows you are going to be hanging out with your best friend. Then just stop. Keep sex the one thing that is just between you and your husband. It becomes the unique and differentiating strand that keeps your relationship stronger than any other relationship. And isn’t that what you want?

So when I say Let’s talk about sex? What I really mean is let’s not. Let’s keep it the way God intended it, even when the rest of the world is screaming different and convincing messages our way. When I look around me and see the way marriages are ending? I sure don’t want any advice coming from those screaming voices. I want advice that is tried and true. I want advice from the designer of marriage. That is the kind of advice that is going to make my marriage last. Let’s make sure our husbands can safely trust us. It will keep our marriages strong.

Threads, Kicks and Frosting ~ Headbands

I love headbands but sadly, I get headaches really easily and so pretty much any kind of headband ends up coming off after a couple hours of wearing them!

I found this really cute headband that was tight enough to not fall off, but not too tight where I would get a headache! I bought it at a boutique in a town near me, and was planning on giving a little push for them in my post tonight….then I went to their website so I could link back to it, and I was really pretty disgusted with the images on the site. I have absolutely no desire to give them any props because honestly? Enough is enough already with sexualizing every stinking thing in life.

So…here are a couple of pictures of the headband that I really like, but no information on how you can get one exactly like it! ha!

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However, I know there is a great headband company that a lot of my friends use called Strawberry Revolution. The headbands there are very similar and you won’t have to feel like you need to jump on top of your computer to cover the screen if your boys happen to walk into the room!

Anyone know of any other good places for headbands?

Mommy Monday ~ 3 Things to remember when raising teenage boys

I wrote this a few months ago, but thought I would re post it in light of some conversations I have had lately about raising teenagers. Raising teenage boys is no joke!

Here I am. The mother of a teenage boy. You know, that stage in your life that you have heard countless moms talking about with dread and fear?

If there is one thing I have learned about pretty much every single area of life, it’s this:
Stereo-types are bullies. 
They come in and get all up in your grill and try to convince you that their way is the right way. They tell you that this is how things are because that is what everyone has always said, and who are we to try to interfere? They don’t care who they affect, and they don’t let up, no matter how much time has gone by.
I’ve never been a big fan of bullies.  And I decided a long time ago that I was not going to sit by and let other people and their opinions boss me around.
With that being said. I wanted to give you 3 things to remember when raising teenage boys. And because I like to make things easy to remember when I write and when I speak, I made them all start with the letter “a”. You’re welcome.

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1. Teenage boys need a lot of attention.
You know how things were when your boys were little. They needed constant attention. They needed their meals made for them and fed to them. They needed to be dressed. They needed you to take them to the bathroom, rock them to sleep and sing to them when they were scared.
Obviously, things change the older they get. But don’t forget: They change. They don’t stop.
Big difference. Here is where I want to challenge you with:
They don’t need less attention the older they get, they just need a different kind of attention the older they get.
Of course you aren’t doing some of the things that you used to do, but make sure that you are not taking away the attention that they need from you entirely. You may not have to literally put food in their mouths anymore, or sometimes even cook for them. But everyone loves attention. Be sure to make a conscious effort to make their favorite meal every once in a while. Take out a bowl, spoon and cereal and leave it on the counter with a note. Leave messages on the mirror in the bathroom. Do one of their chores, look them in the eyes when they are talking to you, step away from your computer or turn the tv off to make sure you are making it very clear that they are important. Be interested in what they are interested in! When AJ wants to talk about this soccer player, and that soccer stat, I really don’t have a clue who or what he’s talking about. But I still love to listen. I love to hear him talk, hear him laugh, and watch him smile. Don’t take those things for granted. Enjoy being with your teenager. And don’t fake it…they will be able to see right through it.
Never stop giving your kids attention. Never.
Do you know one of the first people I look to when I want attention? My mom! I want my mom’s attention and I am a grown woman, myself! We never stop craving attention from our parents, and that is how it should be.
2. Teenage boys need a lot of affection.
Don’t forget about the stereo-type bully. I don’t know who ever started making it “embarrassing” for a boy to hug and kiss his mom in public. It’s stereo-typical, and it is not something you have to be pushed around with. Now. If you are not a super affection person naturally, I am not suggesting you start getting all crazy for the first time ever once they hit 13. But if hugging has always been a natural and normal part of your family’s life, why on earth would you stop when your boy hits his teen years? And for crying out loud, don’t ask them if it’s embarrassing! Why even put the thought in their head?! Why would it be embarrassing? You should make it so that he would start to wonder what was up if you didn’t hug him! Of course, everything has to start with communication.
A lot of moms I have talked to have told me that their teenager just won’t talk to them. Well…Two things for ya, momma… 1. The fact that your teenager won’t talk to you is not just because he’s a teenager. There are some other root issues going on there. Don’t use that as a cop out.  2. That doesn’t happen overnight. If your kids are still young? Start making it a family practice now to be open about everything!
I’ve said it many times before, but every once in a while, ask your teenager (or any age child) if you have done anything that day or that week that upset them. Ask at a time that allows for you to apologize and make things right in case the answer is yes!
Keeping current is so important in every relationship.
Hug that boy of yours. Rub his back. Kiss his cheeks. Put your arm around him. Show him that you enjoy being with him and you love being near him.
3. Teenage boys need a lot of approval.
I mean, duh. We all need a lot of approval! I think that you have probably picked up on that main theme here. A teenage boy is no different than any other person. We are all just humans, with basic emotional, spiritual and physical needs!
During these teen years there are going to be so many people who disapprove of your son. The biggest one I find disapproving of mine is…himself. They are going through so many changes- changes with their friends, their school, their body, their emotions, their moods! Sometimes I see AJ disapproving of himself, and that breaks my heart. Understand the major importance of teaching your teenager that you approve of him, and that more importantly God approves of him. At the end of the day, the things that you need to be pushing and showing approval in, are his attitude, his service, his acts of love – not only his soccer skills, his academic excellence, or his number of friends. Yes, I think it is very important to show approval in every area of life. You are still building confidence in them! He needs to hear you cheering at his games, complimenting his good test score, and saying good things in his ear shot about how you can tell what a great kid he is because so many people like him. And it is equally as important to be careful not to show disapproval over the temporal, fleeting things. I hear way, way too many parents screaming at their kids when they play poorly at a game. It breaks my heart. I want to scream at them for behaving poorly as a parent! Yes, I see the irony there. Ha!
You can show your approval by actually speaking it. By bragging about him behind his back so he overhears you. By writing a note. By making a special meal. By taking him out. By hugging him. By buying him something.
When a teenager feels approval by his parents, he is not going to be desperate to
find approval everywhere else. 
Be the place he knows he can be himself without fear of being made fun of. Be the place he can laugh his hardest, burp his loudest, and act his craziest!
Don’t allow the stereo-type bully to push your son around. Don’t let him fall into any trap that make him feel like he has the right to not talk, to not show affection,  or to not honor his parents. He is responsible before God, just like the rest of us to be living a life that is pleasing to God.
But he still needs you. He needs you there to support him. To know when to speak and when to listen. When to hug and when to walk away.
Enjoy that teenage boy of yours. They make the best friends.

The Red Barn at Outlook Farm ~ Zach & Ruth’s Fall Wedding

Zach and Ruth’s wedding took place on a beautiful fall day. You might remember them from their beautiful engagement session.
It was brisk, I’m not gonna lie. But The Red Barn at Outlook Farm in Maine is an absolutely gorgeous place to get married. The sun was shining and the smiles on Ruth and Zach’s faces said it all. These two make a perfect match, and being able to take part in their day was such an honor for me. The ceremony was God-centered and so beautiful to watch.

Congratulations you two! So incredibly happy for you!

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