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Thank goodness for family pictures at the Grand Canyon.  This was the only day the Allex family showered while camping. GrandCanyon_189  GrandCanyon_218  GrandCanyon_222

My favorite.   I will cherish this picture forever.  So glad we had friends to share this fun trip with (and to snap this photo).GrandCanyon_232

This is Sebastian’s “I really want the candy you have in your hand so I’m going to smile really big” smile.
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Hope these kiddos will be lifelong friends.
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Until next time GC!GrandCanyon_298

Category: Personal, Portraits, Uncategorized

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Last week we met our friends from Denver in the Grand Canyon.  It just so happens that the Grand Canyon is half way between SF and Denver!  While camping at the Grand Canyon our families took the opportunity to (shower and) take pics in front of this giant hole in the ground.

 

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Someone pointed out on Facebook that they looked scary close to the edge.  I assure you they look closer then they really were!GrandCanyon_210 copy  GrandCanyon_213  GrandCanyon_246

I absolutely love this picture of two sweet sisters.  I hope they treasure this forever.
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This is Marina’s service dog Jive.  She alerts Mike and Nicole when Marina’s blood sugar is low or high.  We witnessed this about 40384 times on this trip. She’s one incredible dog.  I’m so glad the Werner’s have Jive…type 1 diabetes is hard, and scary.
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Matt has known these two friends since college and I’ve known them since I’ve known Matt.  So glad we have kept in touch over the distance.  Looking forward to many more family vacations in the future!

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Category: Uncategorized

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If you’ve been to my son’s birthday parties (or seen the blog posts), then you know I love themed parties and this beach themed party was so much fun! What made it even better was that it was right next to the beach!  Have I mentioned yet that I love living on an Island!?!

Starting off with my favorite from the day…I call this the superman pose!

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I love elaborate cakes just as much as I love themed parties.  This one did not disappoint!
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I mean…fondant flip flops!AviBday3

The perfect party favors! AviBday4

Sweet birthday boy.AviBday5  AviBday6

Little party animal.

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Time to smash the cake!AviBday8

Avi wasn’t so sure about the cake…
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Mommy and daddy stepped in to help.AviBday10  AviBday11

Oh Avi, you have the cutest little smile!AviBday12  AviBday13

Baby friends!!
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Category: Birthday parties

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Henry and his little sister Audrey had one big birthday bash!  This was my first (ever) of 4 birthday party shoots in the next month.  I’m so excited that shooting birthday parties is a thing…or I’m making it a thing, because it is perfect for me!  I love candid event shooting, I love being around kids and birthday parties are so much fun.  Double bonus when I get to bring my favorite 3 year old sidekick with me!

Henry had SPIDERMAN at his party…I mean how cool is that?!?!

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And the sweet little one year old princess!H&Abday2

Loved all the details, Courtney put into the party.  Especially the capes.  The kids were all so stinking cute running around with superhero capes!

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We set up a fun little photo booth for some of the guests…H&Abday7  H&Abday8

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Meeting Spiderman!
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All the kids were so excited about Spiderman!

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Who knew Spiderman was also a magician!?H&Abday12  H&Abday13  H&Abday14  H&Abday15  H&Abday16

Such a pretty mama and baby!  Gosh, those blue eyes though!
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My favorite part of a birthday party….cake time!

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Audrey wasn’t too excited about her big cake, so we tried a cupcake.H&Abday20

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Sebastian (my aforementioned sidekick) especially loved the piñata!
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What a great party!H&Abday27

Such a beautiful family!
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Category: Portraits

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I feel like not a whole lot has changed since last month.  Sawyer can roll over both ways now, but hardly ever does.  He doesn’t seem quite as quick to hit milestones as Sebastian was and I’m okay with that.  I’m definitely not ready for him to start becoming more mobile any time soon!  He is starting to sit up for a few seconds at a time before falling over though.  His sleeping schedule is getting much better, thank goodness!  His red hair is getting longer and more obvious.  People are starting to comment on it now.  He’s also just a little clone of his daddy which I just love.  I really don’t think he looks much like Sebastian (or me for that matter) at all.  I’ve tried (and failed) twice putting the boys in the same room to nap.  Sawyer napped (for a little while) but not Sebastian.  I’m not quite ready to move Sawyer in Sebastian’s room at night…I want to wait until he drops the 5:30 wake up time. I definitely don’t need Sebastian waking up that early!

Stats: We won’t get stats until his 6 month well check.

Likes:  His big brother Sebastian.  No one can get as big and as many giggles out of Sawyer as Sebastian does.  He completely adores his older brother, watches everything he does and thinks he’s the funniest thing in the world.

Dislikes:  He still doesn’t like to be put down for more then a few minutes or so at a time.  It’s starting to get a bit frustrating.  I mean, I love holding my baby, but I would like to be able to do a couple things two handed.  Also, he will fuss sometimes when I walk out of the room.  I’m guessing he’ll have separation anxiety when he gets a little bit older.

Nicknames: The nickname Sebastian uses the most still is “Little Flubber”.  I don’t know where that one came from, but it’s starting to catch on a little as I find myself wanting to call him that every once and a while.

Firsts: I honestly can’t think of any first this month.  Just the same old same old!  Loving our new life in California!

Milestones: Rolling over from back to front, starting to show interest in what we eat.  He also found his feet the other day and likes holding them.

Sleep: Sawyer is finally going to bed a bit earlier then before which gives us more down time in the evenings and he started sleeping through the night again.  Thank goodness his 4 month sleep regression is over!  His bedtime is around 9:00.  He usually sleeps straight through until about 5:30, wakes to eat and then goes back to sleep until about 7:30 or 8:00. His first nap is usually around 9:00 and naps for about an hour or so every couple hours during the day.  There is somewhat of a pattern starting to develop which is making things a bit easier and more predictable.

Sebastian’s reactions to Sawyer:  Nothing different here.  He still adores his baby brother and will do just about anything to get him to laugh.  He’s also really great at trying to comfort Sawyer.  Although we did have the first incident between the two where Sebastian was swinging around a plastic hot wheel track piece and accidently hit Sawyer’s little forehead.  Sawyer was in his swing and I was in the other room.  It left a tiny little scrape on his forehead.

Category: Personal

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You guys, I think I’ve found the secret to happiness.  At least my version of it, and it feels so good.  So all you have to do to find it too is to move to California.  Okay, just kidding, kind of, but it definitely seems to have worked for me.  Here’s how:

 

1. Being the best mommy I can be.

I think I was meant to be a stay at home mom.  I was pretty shredded when I had to go back to work after I had Sebastian.  I tried to find a way to stay home, it just wasn’t financially in the cards.  I made the best of it and my job (and the 5:30 am alarm clock) and lived for the summers when I got to be home all day every day.  Moving out to California has allowed me to stay at home with my boys and I love it so much.  It’s taken a couple months (and Sawyer to get out of the newborn stage) to start establishing a routine, but we’ve figured out a good schedule that has worked for us. The boys go to bed around 9:00pm, we get an hour or two of adult time before we go to bed.  The kids wake up around 8:00.  On some mornings (depending on how late I went to bed or if Sawyer was up a lot), I get up at 6:30 or 7:00 to have some ‘me time’.  As soon as the boys wake up, we slowly start getting ready for the day.  Making breakfast, getting everyone dressed, packing a lunch for Sebastian, etc.  We are usually out the door by 10 to walk to the park, walk to Park street (with shops and restaurants), walk to our friends house, go to the zoo or any of the other 10 million things we’ve found to do here.  Getting out and doing something is key to having our day go as smoothly as possible.  Afternoons are reserved for naps, or these days trying to get Sebastian to nap.  I’m trying to find something to fill the 4-6pm time slot as those hours before Matt gets home seems to drag a bit.  There have been a few days where a walk around the block or a run to the corner store to buy ingredients to bake with Sebastian, or going to the gym (see below) have been a great way to fill that time.  Also, Sebastian is starting to become obsessed with legos and that’s a fun way for both of us to spend our afternoons…we just need more lego sets!

 

Now having a good routine definitely helps for a smoother day, but we are talking about taking care of little humans, and that is no easy task.  3 year olds can be unpredictable, emotional and down right jerks.  I’ve been working very hard on keeping my cool and talking with my sister (whose job is to work with kids with behaviors), my mother-in-law who raised 4 super successful adults, and my friend (will mention her later in the post) on how to be a better mom.  I’ve learned what works with Sebastian…when he is mad or hurt, is to leave him ALONE or he will scream at you and make the situation worse.  It’s pretty simple, but hard to do.  Once he’s calm is when I can approach him and try to talk him through what happened.  I may have to write a whole separate blog post for what I’m doing with Sebastian to try to get him to stop screaming and teaching him how to calm himself down without hitting or throwing something.  Mostly, I just trying to raise him well and do a good job being his mom.  I’m reading a book called The Danish Way of Parenting.  If you feel like you are struggling with your tiny human, you should check it out!

 

2. Mind, body and soul

When I first moved to California in January, I still had 13 pounds left from my pregnancy weight.  I wore baggy shirts and clothes to hide it (and only had about 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants that fit me).  The first couple months, I walked everywhere, and most places with a heavy baby strapped to my chest.  I also watched what I ate and tracked my calories using the MyFitnessPal app.  That took care of about 10 of those pounds.  Then, I started talking with a new friend about a gym membership at the place where Sebastian plays soccer.  The biggest draw to this place was that it had 2 hours of childcare a day.  Get a couple hours break from my boys AND get to workout and take care of my body?  Sign me up!  I haven’t worked out since before I was pregnant with Sebastian but I jumped right in doing Barre classes and I love them.  If you don’t know what they are, look up a couple Youtube videos.  I feel stronger, I feel happier, I feel better about my body.  Gosh, this is a no brainer win, win.  And Sebastian has a bounce house to play in while I’m working out, so I assure you, he is just fine…and it’s good to get him some time away from me.  He’s teared up a few times I’ve left him there and I want him to become more comfortable again without me.  The baby is fine too, and spoiled.  He likes to be held (like fusses after 5 minutes of being put down every time) and every time I go to pick him up, he’s in someones arms.  I feel a little bit bad, but at least it’s only 2 hours!

As for my soul, just walking down the adorable streets of Alameda, on the way to the park, with my two favorite (little) people in tow, with the gorgeous weather and amazingly good smelling flowers everywhere…well it’s hard to hate it.

 

3. Friendships- Surrounding myself with happy people

It is so easy to make friends here.  My first friend I made, I met at the park right after I moved here.  I spotted her from across the park (talking to someone already, darn) wearing a baby, watching her toddler son.  She looked just like me, also wearing my baby and watching my toddler son.  We eventually found each other nursing our babies on nearby benches and used the best mom pick up line “how old is your baby” and the rest is history.  We’ve been hanging out and taking our kids on adventures about 4 times a week or so since.  It’s so nice to have a mommy friend and she’s such a great mommy and great example for me when it comes to managing toddler (preschooler) behaviors!  I also have my gym buddy who has two kids, one is Sebastian’s age which is probably the biggest thing that gets me motivated to go to the gym.  And the boys love playing together.  Even though we live in a city, it definitely has a small time feel and the more we go certain places, the more we see the same people over and over.  It’s great to be new in town, but still recognize people throughout our days.  We also have my brother and sister-in-law and niece a 20 minute (or so) drive away in one of the coolest cities.  It’s so nice to have family so close!

 

4.  Building back my beloved business

I have loved taking photos since I was (at the very least) a freshman in high school.  I did the whole darkroom, artsy photography thing all through high school and college and started my business the summer after my first year of teaching.  Since then how busy I’ve been with my business would depend on what was going on in my life.  For a while there I’d have about 15 weddings a year (alongside teaching) with several portrait sessions. Once I had Sebastian, I quickly realized I couldn’t do all three, be a mommy, teach full time and continue my business so photography had to go.  I still did a few portrait sessions a year and a couple weddings but nothing like before.  Now that I’ve dropped teaching, I feel that I have time in my life to pick photography back up and am thrilled so far with the response and shoots I’ve gotten so quickly.  Hopefully it can continue to grow! This stage in my life, I’m not as interested in weddings (as it takes up so many weekend hours), but I am extremely interested in families.  If you have been following my blog, you’ll see I’ve had a couple really great shoots already.

 

5. Constantly learning and working to become a better version of myself

From watching webinars for my business to reading parenting books, to following “people who seem to have it together” on social media, to talking to my people about how to best raise my children…I am always trying to be a better version of myself.  Rachel Hollis from The Chic Site is a huge motivator for me…she posts inspirational messages on Instagram and Facebook, does live streams and has a motivational book coming out next year that I can’t wait to get my hands on.  I also have a friend from NC who started ‘Spreading Kindness Confetti’…An idea just to be kind and do kind acts for people. It’s such a simple idea and for some reason seems hard to fit into your day, but is so important.  She does these kind acts all through the month, but has come up with one a month for you to do.  Last month it was to donate books and this month it’s to give someone flowers.  (We need to get on that before the month is over).  I can’t wait to see what she has for next month!

 

There you have it, 5 easy steps to be happier!

Category: Personal

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I’ve been in California for 3 months now and so far it just keeps getting better and better!  We took these gorgeous pictures at the beach just 5 minutes from my house!  Okay, this is just a photographer’s dream.  The sweetest family + the coolest location = beautiful images!  I’m so excited about these!  I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot more of this beach!

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I didn’t think it was possible for two boys to be as cute as my boys…but these guys definitely are!
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Dimples!McDevitt_032  McDevitt_039

Littlest love.McDevitt_053  McDevitt_060   
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These boys are so close to the same ages as my guys!
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I’m in love with these beach shots!
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Who doesn’t love playing on the beach??
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Category: Portraits

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Hello!  Happy Friday!  This is the third night in a row my baby has slept through the night, so I’m feeling good and got up early.  I’m getting some ‘me time’ to drink my tea and write a Friday blog post!

 

1.  I was driving around my Island yesterday trying to get my kids to take a little nap before we went on to our next thing and it hit me that I live on a Freaking Island. Like seriously, I was thinking is this real life?  We have to drive over a bridge to get off the island, there are palm trees, and we can walk to the beach.  It’s the cutest island ever with like 3 playgrounds in walking distance from our house and has the cutest houses I’ve ever seen.  I can’t get enough of walking around.  We also have a strip of restaurants and stores just a 10 minute walk from our house.  Oh and one of the coolest cities ever (San Fransisco) is just a 20 minute drive over the coolest bridge.  I really couldn’t have dreamt up a more perfect place to live.

 

2.  Speaking of my baby sleeping through the night, he actually started doing it a few months ago and then the last month has been going through this crazy ‘leap’ of cognitive growth and sleep regression.  Thank goodness we are almost done with it!  If you have a baby and find that every few weeks or so he’s fussier then normal, or not sleeping as well check out the app the Wonder Weeks.  It doesn’t fix the fussiness but it at least tells you why and how long its going to last.

 

3.  You guys, I just got a gym membership two days ago and used it for the first time yesterday!  I went to a barre class and it was awesome.  This is the first time I’ve really worked out since before I was pregnant with Sebastian, so like 4 years ago.  I was able to mostly keep up with the group and didn’t feel like I was dying too much…and the after effects were great.  I really felt great all day (after the initial dizziness and shakiness went away). And so far, I just feel a tiny bit sore today, but I always feel more sore two days after the fact, so we’ll see how tomorrow goes.  I only have about 3 pounds left of pre-pregnancy weight on me, but I still feel way squishier then I did before. And the instructor had some amazing arms…I wouldn’t mind having arms like hers… At this gym you can take your kids to childcare for up to two hours a day, which will give me a little break to workout, shower, or just sit in the back of the gym at the bar with my laptop getting work done.  There is also a decent climbing wall so Matt and I have talked about dropping the kids off at the daycare and going climbing together.

 

4.  Speaking of work, my photo business is picking up some steam here and I’m so excited.  I think I also may have discovered an untapped market here and something I’m really excited about doing.  I don’t want to talk about it yet (I don’t want to jinx it), so be looking for blog posts in the coming months of shoots I haven’t really done before. I also have my friend (and college roommate) working on revamping my website/brand a little and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.  She always does an amazing job!  Also, if you are on Instagram and want to follow along on with my business, check out and ‘follow’ my new photography page. https://www.instagram.com/silverleafphotos/

 

5.  Today we are off to a place called Little Farm in Berkeley.  I think it’s basically a petting zoo, which I know Sebastian will love.  He’s so sweet and say’s ‘hi’ to every animal he sees so this place should be right up his alley.  My boys and I get out of the house 4-5 times a week (mostly with our friends) and we are always finding new, fun places to explore.  I love being a stay at home mom and couldn’t imagine having it any other way at this point.

 

I hope everyone has a happy Friday!

 

 

Category: 5 on Friday, Personal

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This is my second year in a row participating in the Easter basket blog hop and my 3rd year posting pics of my kid’s Easter baskets.  This year is extra special because I got to put together 2 Easter baskets!  I really enjoy doing themed baskets each year.  Last year for Sebastian I did a Cars theme.  This year I didn’t quite do as much as I normally do.  It turns out being a stay at home mom makes it harder.  I can’t just stop by the stop to pick up a few items on my way to pick them up from daycare anymore.  Jess from secrets of a stay at home mom made Sebastian’s basket last year and had to mail me the cutouts this year to make Sawyer a matching basket.  Thanks again Jess!  Miss you guys!

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Sebastian’s Camping/Outdoor themed Easter basket

We are taking Sebastian (and Sawyer) on their first big camping trip this summer.  Since moving to CA, I have been super anxious to start checking out all the nationals parks within a 15 hour drive.  This year we have decided to meet some friends (who live in Denver) at the Grand Canyon!  I have never been and hopefully the trip will be a success (with a 3 year old and 6 month old).  Sebastian’s basket includes a bathing suit (from Nana) and sunglasses (that don’t break!).  A bubble gun, flashlight, rocket stomper and glow in the dark bracelets for camping.  I also include a chocolate bunny every year because my sisters and I had them in our baskets growing up.

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Sawyer’s Baby/Baby food themed Easter basket

Sawyer is a little over 4 months old and we will be starting solids in a month or two.  I figured the Easter basket would be the perfect way to start stocking up on baby food items.  Sawyer got a matching bathing suit and sunglasses.  I can’t wait to match the boys this summer!  For feeding he got silicone bibs, reusable food pouches for when I make baby food, and suction bowls.  I also threw in some cute bandana bibs because he drools like crazy.

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I enjoyed linking up and seeing what everyone else did for their Easter baskets.  See you next year!

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Category: Personal