Alexis + Matt || New Orleans, LA Wedding


Alexis + Matt || New Orleans, LA Wedding

Valentine's Day: what a perfect day for a blog post!  Yes, I am one of "those" people who believe that Valentine's Day is a legitimate holiday.  Any holiday that gives me the excuse to eat a lot of chocolate and smooch my husband is a-okay in my book!  And actually, it gets even better.  Today I get the honor of blogging a wedding for a couple who first began to seeing each other on Valentine's Day 8 years ago!  Amazing how things work like that!

It's also the perfect day for their blog post because Alexis and Matt are two romantics at heart.  The story of how Matt proposed to Alexis gave me some serious chills (think roses, champagne, photo album, secret photographer all on a balcony overlooking the city, with their parents secretly watching down below, and then driving to re-visit the exact spot in the city where they had their first meaningful moment together!)  so I knew their wedding day would be so beautiful.  They intentionally created some sweet moments in their day that celebrated their love for one another before they even met at the altar. I love it when brides and grooms write letters to one another to read before getting married.  I can see those being cherished mementos for years to come, not just for them, but for their children and grandchildren.  It really is true that your wedding day feels like it flies by, so by making sure you pause and reflect (possibly by reading letters?!), you create more opportunities to soak all that wedding day bliss in.   You could also have your adorable pup brought to you while your getting ready to get some last minute snuggles in as well.  Just wait until you see this crazy cute dog!

After their lovely ceremony at the Holy Name of Jesus Church, Alexis and Matt celebrated with all their friends and family at The Cannery for their reception.  There was amazing dancing.  There was incredible food.  And to top it all off:  there was a s'more bar.  Yes, a s'more bar.  I wasn't sure if it was reality, so of course I had to test it out (after taking photos of course!).   But I think my favorite part was honestly capturing all the amazing dancing.  Alexis is a fantastic dancer (ok, Matt is too!), and it really runs in her blood.  After a slow father-daughter dance, Alexis' entire immediate family joined on the dance floor for some sweet latin dancing.  Some amazing hip action, guys.  

Ok, so I'm sure you have some chocolate to be eating right about now, so I'll cut to the chase and let you see a few of the happy, beautiful moments of Alexis and Matt's day!

Huge thanks to Lauryn Atwood of L. Atwood Photography for her amazing second shooting!  And to these vendors:

Videography: Mary M Cinema

Wedding Planner:  Sue Rudiger at Beth's Florist

Makeup:  Makeup by Meggan

Hair:  Flawless Bride

Florist:  Beth's Flowers

Catering:  The Cannery/Toulouse Catering

Band:  Az Izz Band


Katie + Brad || Gulfport, MS Wedding


Katie + Brad || Gulfport, MS Wedding

It's hard to believe that a year ago I was meeting up with Katie and Brad in New Orleans for their engagement shoot!  That shoot was one of my most memorable engagement shoots to date (we ran around the aquarium and then the French Quarter and it was an absolute blast!) so I knew their wedding day would be even better.  

Katie got ready with her mom and her bridesmaids at the Blown salon in Biloxi.  And the answer is yes, Katie's hair color is natural and it's superb (oh hey, second red headed bride in two weeks!).  Her sweet and hilarious mom kept everyone entertained with fun stories about Katie growing up.  And her bridesmaids were glowing with joy for her.  After her big reveal of her dress to her gals (wait until you see it!) they got in the limo and headed to The Chimneys in Gulfport.

Katie and Brad chose to do a First Look, which meant lots of time for bride and groom shots.  We started their First Look on the porch of the Chimneys as the light was fantastic there and it was beautifully decorated with bulb lights and greenery.  It was so romantic and elegant.  Jean and her team at After the Proposal does a superb job of creating a beautiful wedding day for their brides!    

The wedding ceremony was beautifully heartfelt and drenched with amazing natural light.  Since we had taken all of their formal photos before the ceremony, Katie and Brad were able to get right into the reception festivities, starting with dances.  Somehow I was able to hold it together through all of these, as Katie surprised her mom with a beautiful mother/daughter dance.  When you're 8 months pregnant, it's not always easy to not be moved by stuff like this!  Katie also danced with her grandfather as well.

Their reception was one of the most lively I've ever shot and Marcel with Nightshift Sounds kept everyone on the floor pretty much the whole night.  I got a little creative with some of the reception shots, which was really fun.  Their last dance was to "Time Warp" from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  These two are too fun. 

Hope you love these as much as I do, Katie and Brad! 

Huge thanks to my talented and fun second shooter, Lauryn Atwood!


Sara Ashton + Alec || Bay St. Louis, MS Wedding


Sara Ashton + Alec || Bay St. Louis, MS Wedding

Theirs is a love that started in Lane 2 at the St. Stanislaus pool in high school, that has lasted through college, and onto law school. . .Sara Ashton and Alec have such a beautiful relationship!  They started dating Sara Ashton's senior year and Alec's junior year of high school, after being friends for many years.  Those really are the sweetest love stories. . .so much history and fun stories before they even had their first date!  I have loved getting to know these two better over the past year.  Sara Ashton reached out to me at first because she had just gotten engaged and she saw one of her friend's bridal session on my blog and said that she loved the photos.  Well after she started doing some research, she discovered that we are actually cousins!  Long story, but I didn't grow up in Mississippi (being a military brat) but I have a large, amazing Italian family on the coast, many of whom I've never met or gotten to know!  I do remember seeing Sara Ashton and her family at the family's annual Italian Sausage cookout on Christmas Eve over the years though.  We sat down and talked for a few hours at a coffee shop not long after that, and she and her wonderful mom, Kim, were so warm and kind that I not only felt like family to them, but friends!  

I'm not sure how she managed to do it, but Sara Ashton managed to finish law school, study for the bar exam, pass the bar exam, and plan a wedding all at the same time.  And still be incredibly kind to everyone around her in the meantime!  I mean, seriously?!  Big props to Alec as well, as he's finishing up his last year of law school!  Talk about a couple who is going to take on the world.  I loved that they wanted to have their first look where it all started, at the St. Stanislaus pool!  The day was beautifully overcast and somehow the bride and groom were both super mellow and calm before the first look.  After just taking it all in for a few minutes, we started bride and groom portraits right at the pool, and Alec shared one of his favorite stories about him and Sara Ashton, pre-dating.  It had to do with one of them not shaving their legs and putting them around the other and announcing that they hadn't shaved their legs.  The other was left wondering if that was technically flirting.  HA!  

The rest of the day was so beautiful and full of love from family and friends.  These two know how to work hard, but they also know how to enjoy life and love people.  (And it showed, as the large church was pretty much filled to the brim with happy friends and family.) I think that's a recipe for a beautiful life.  

I am so thankful that Sara Ashton and Alec chose me to walk this journey with them and capture all the moments of joy and beauty of their day!  

Huge shoutout to my incredibly talented second shooter Christina Hawkinson!

Amazing vendors:

Hair:  Lauren Sandidge

Makeup: Kristen Legrende

Flowers: Pine Hills Floral 

Catering:  Vicky Necaise

DJ:  Elvis Ta

Coordinator:  Paula Spears


Destiny + Chandler || Jackson, MS Wedding

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Destiny + Chandler || Jackson, MS Wedding

Destiny and Chandler's wedding was such a breath of fresh air.  The mood of their day was joyful, lighthearted, and celebratory, but was also punctuated by very meaningful moments of profound awareness of just how important this event was.  From the moment I got there, I knew that this day was going to be so much fun and beautiful.  I loved that Chandler made Destiny a video to watch while she was getting ready. . .expressing how excited he was to get to be her husband and for their journey ahead.  He even included a blooper version as well!  (Good job going above and beyond to make your bride feel cherished and loved Chandler!)

The bride and groom got ready in separate areas of their venue, which made it really easy to take most of the bridal party and family formals before the ceremony (even without doing a first look!).  The Ice House in Jackson is a great place if you are looking for a venue that has that as an option. 

A few other details that I really loved about Destiny and Chandler's day:

-Destiny's bouquet was inspired by paint chip colors that Destiny brought to her florist.  Instead of showing her a photos of flowers that she wanted, Destiny had specific colors in mind that she wanted.  I never realized how gorgeous burnt orange and yellow looked with blush pink and light purple.  Her bouquet had so much texture, it really was a work of art.

-Chandler and Destiny chose to have their bridal party surround them for prayer during the ceremony.  It was a really powerful moment.  These two really love Jesus and their whole ceremony was a beautiful act of worship.  

-Chandler and his mom had the best surprise dance for Destiny and the guests.  I've seen a lot of father/daughter choreographed dances, but never the groom and his mom!  Destiny and her bridesmaids answered back with an equally fun dance.  

I'm so so honored to have gotten to know these two during their engagement and also to have been the one to capture all the joy of their day!  

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Carly + Kenneth are engaged!


Carly + Kenneth are engaged!

Excuse me while I wax poetic for a moment.  I loved photography the minute I googled, "World's best wedding photographers."  I'm not sure what made me google that, but I was sitting at the desk at the dental office I was working at and all of the patients were gone for the day.  Plus I had just shot my first wedding ever totally out of the blue (my coworker convinced me to shoot her daughter's!) and I wanted to see how "real" wedding photography looked.  And I was literally blown away.  It was like a whole new world was opened up for me.  So now, 5 years later, I can honestly say that I love it more than I ever have!  And really it goes waaay beyond trying to take pretty photos.  I do love pretty photos, but as I've gotten to know my clients and their stories, I find that I fall in love with the people and their stories more and more.  If I was just in it for taking pretty photos, I'm not sure I would still be doing this 5 years later.  I do love photography itself, but it's my amazing clients that push me to further my skills and learn how to serve them to the best of my ability!

All of that to say, Kenneth and Carly's story is so much fun.  I really don't think love gets better than when it's a long friendship that turns into something more.  Well in this instance, it started out as a work relationship, turned friendship, turned love.  These two are both nurses and Kenneth was actually Carly's supervisor for 3 years before they started dating (Carly confessed that she found Kenneth attractive the very first day she met him!).  The day he left that position for another, is the day they started dating!  I can see why they are the perfect match for one another. . .both are incredibly smart, have a great sense of humor, are adventurous, but also like just melting into the couch together and watching Netflix, ok and they both have amaaazing smiles.  They were amazing to hang out with and photograph.  I can't wait for their wedding next May!  


Britnee + Scott are engaged!


Britnee + Scott are engaged!

I loved the first email I ever received from Britnee.  It was so warm and friendly and she immediately dived in with her and Scott's story.  I'm a sucker for a good love story, so I was already drawn to them from the get go!  She told me all about their personalities (down to earth mainly, woohoo!) and how important photography was for her day.  She also mentioned that I shot her cousin's wedding and she loved how quickly and easily I was able to get through the family formal photos (so yeah, a not-so-humble-brag to include this fact, but every photographer has certain things they pride themselves on!).  She comes from a large family and I know how crazy the formals can get when you have massive groups of people.  I was a cheerleader (ok, for a year in junior high) and learned how to make my voice carry in a crowd.  Life is just so much easier for your brides when you get a little loud at times, mmkay?!

We met up for coffee to discuss the specifics of booking with me and I left feeling like I had just hung out with the sweetest person alive.  Britnee truly and genuinely is such a kind soul and makes you feel like a friend from the get go.  I was excited to meet Scott, and knew he had to be pretty fantastic as well, and I wasn't disappointed.  These two are kind of like fire and ice.  Britnee could light up a room with her smile and disposition. . .and Scott has the best dry sense of humor ever so they are a great combination.  He told me that he's not a smiley person, so it was a fun challenge to get some genuine smiles from him.  I love when people just tell me how it is. . .if you aren't a crazy smiley person, don't feel like you need to be for me!  But as you'll see, he has a great smile and I think their photos turned out beautifully.  I'm also happy that we got to feature Scott's awesome WWF belt buckle in a few of the shots towards the end of the shoot.  It was a gift from Britnee and she gives him a little bit of a hard time for wearing it a lot.  It was a cute moment for sure when she showed it to me.  

These two are fantastic and have such a fun way about them!  I can't wait for their day next June! 


Karishma + Owen || Biloxi, MS Wedding


Karishma + Owen || Biloxi, MS Wedding

When I first met with Karishma and Owen at the Cat Island Coffee Shop over a year ago, I remember thinking that their wedding sounded too good to be true and how in the world would I get to be the one to capture it?  I was pretty over-the-moon excited when they decided to book with me.   And now, looking back at this wedding, I kind of feel like, "Was I really there?  Did this really happen?!"  But it did!  And I have proof!

Their love story is really fun, and really beautiful.  It's one of those love stories that makes you chuckle (just wait till you hear how they met), but also shows you how strong love really is and how it can defy time and being separated by continents.  Owen is in the military, and many of his assignments take him overseas.  He first met Karishma at a briefing at a US Embassy.  Karishma was the one doing the speaking. . .and Owen was the guy who forgot his pen.  He had to ask her to borrow one, and she may have chastised him for it.  So her first impression of him was that he didn't have it all together (who goes to an Embassy briefing without a pen?).  And his first impression of her was that she was intense and outspoken.  They happened to run into one another later that evening while they were both out with friends.  Owen got to see an entirely different side of Karishma.  That besides being a bit of a firecracker, she's incredibly playful, fun, and kind.  And he was smitten from then on.  (And she was too, so somehow he redeemed himself!)

When I met up with them, they were planning their wedding for almost a year out, but where also still in a bit of a time crunch.  Owen was about to deploy for an extended amount of time.  When I say that their love defies time, I mean they have gone through 3 years combined of deployments.  And only seeing each other 3-4 weeks during each of those years.  Oh man.  It makes my pregnant self teary-eyed.  After their engagement session, Owen left for deployment and Karishma did one of the things she does best: she worked hard.  She worked on planning all the intricate details of their wedding and she also worked at Owen's family's wedding rental company (Apex Party Rentals).  And she counted down the days till Owen returned.  I can't imagine how hard that must have been.  

Their wedding day was such an incredible celebration.  So many beautiful details came right into place (like the wedding clothes that were handmade in India and carried by Karishma's mom onto the plane!).  Karishma has always dreamt of a beach wedding, but the weather leading up to their wedding weekend was atrocious.  Even the day of the wedding, we weren't sure if a wedding on the beach would be feasible!  But the sun came out beautifully that morning and dried up all the water that had pooled up where their ceremony was supposed to take place.  Beyond all the stunning details (and amaaazing Indian food. . .much of which was made at the hotel by Karishma's mom!), Karishma and Owen's focus was on the family and friends that were there to celebrate.  People came from literally all over the world!   It was a beautiful wedding and family and friend reunion rolled into one!

Karishma and Owen, you two are amazing and I am so honored that I got to be the one to capture your day!

Incredible vendors:

Second Shooter:  My Seymour Photography

Rental Company: Apex Party Rentals

Hair & Makeup:  Makeup by Ashley

Catering:  Orchid Indian Restaurant

DJ:  P & I Productions (Elivs Ta)

Cake:  Fleur De Lis Bakery  


How to have the best engagement session ever!


How to have the best engagement session ever!

I realize the title of this blog post is a pretty tall order.  Usually the engagement session happens pretty soon after you book your wedding photographer, while you're still trying to iron out all the details of your wedding, and possibly starting to feel the stress of it all.  I sometimes get requests from couples to take the engagement session out of their package, for multiple reasons, but I strongly suspect that a big reason is that they just don't want to have to worry about having one more thing on their to-do list with wedding planning.  I get it!  I promise I do!  It may just seem like more decisions on your all ready full plate of things to do (Where do we go?  What do I wear? Will this be even be worth it?) Hopefully these few tips will help set your mind at ease and maybe even convince you that an engagement session is actually the perfect way to take a break from all the planning.  And actually, if we do it right, it will feel like the best date the two of you have ever had!

TIP #1:  Location, location, location: where do you feel most "yourselves"?  

I think a lot of people have this idea that to have amazing photos, they need some spectacular backdrop (yep, I drool over the mountain top engagement sessions too!).  Yes, pretty locations are awesome, but I'm not Ansel Adams so I'm not out there to shoot the best landscapes I can.  I am there to capture you two and all the wonderful, unique things about you, so let's actually go to where you feel most "at home."  Wherever you are most comfortable is where you will really look and feel the best!

A few ideas to get the brain juices flowing: where would you two go if you had a free day all to yourselves?  Would you hit up a local hiking trail?  Would you explore a cute downtown area together?  If you feel most comfortable getting lost in the bustle of the big city, let's go!  Or think about places that have significant sentimental meaning to both of you.  Did he propose at the the beach?  

Angel and James are lovers of the outdoors.  I loved the coziness of this shoot!

Katie and Brad's favorite place is the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans.  I kind of cringed when I saw the line to get in that Saturday (it was a 30 minute wait!). But dodging the crowd was so worth it and actually tons of fun.  I think we laughed half the time we were shooting!

TIP #2:  What NOT to wear. . . basically whatever everyone else is in their photos.

Ok, I'm going to go a little against the grain with this one.  I don't recommend jumping right onto Pinterest and checking out what everyone else is wearing in their photos.  I would even go as far to say don't go out and buy new outfits.  Why not wear what you guys would wear on your normal date night?  (But if getting a new outfit would make you happy, treat yo' self!)  Just don't feel like you need to wear the same super girly, long, flowy floral dress you see on all the photography blogs (unless that's totally you!).  Again, you guys will look and feel your best with something you are comfortable in!  Also, feel free to text or email me photos of what you are thinking of wearing.  In case you need some extra reassurance. 

(Bonus tip:  Most couples wear two outfits for their engagement session!  Usually the first outfit is more casual, and the second outfit is a little more dressy.)

TIP #3:  What to do with your hands. . .

how about, "forget about them!"  This is actually my favorite tip and I think it will be yours too!  I think we all know what it's like to feel awkward while having your photo taken.  I would say 80% of my clients mention to me at some point, "I'm not good in front of the camera."  And then, honestly, I get excited because I know that after 20 minutes, we are all going to loosen up and have a blast!  (I'm a nervous ball of energy the first 20 minutes too. . .just to be honest.  I love that I never stop having that "butterflies in my stomach" feeling before shoots!)  I'll have some tricks up my sleeve to help you guys loosen up, and hopefully forget that the camera is even there.  I'll give you some gentle direction on posing, but for the most part, I'll have simple actions for you guys to do that are fun and really bring our your personalities.  Because when it comes down to it, we aren't there to capture your outfits, or the location, but really how amazing you two are together!  So how your mom told you a million times growing up, "it's the inside that counts". . .it really is true and that's what I'm trying to capture in this session.  It could be how he makes you laugh like no one else. . .or how you make all his worries disappear when you're around just by being yourself.  That's the good stuff.  That's the stuff that matters.

Here are a few of my clients being just having fun together.  I have a few more tips after these!

Here are a few more suggestions to make this experience the best!

4.  Try to make a day out of the shoot.  The shoot will only be for a few hours, but I suggest planning to do something fun beforehand (go grab a cup of coffee just to unwind, or watch your favorite show on Netflix), or afterwards (dinner!) just to really make the day something you look forward to!

5.  Hair and makeup or no?  This is totally up to you!  Some my brides do a trial run for their makeup the day of the shoot and then get their hair done.  It just takes some of the pressure off of you and it's nice to be a little pampered beforehand.  This is totally not necessary though, you are beautiful as you are!  

6.  Fill out my questionnaire!  I'll be sending a short questionnaire your way about a month before the shoot.  This helps me prep for the shoot and get to know the two of you a little more.  If you can fill it out together, it makes it even better!


Emily + Jim || Long Beach, MS Wedding


Emily + Jim || Long Beach, MS Wedding

I just might say that Emily and Jim's day restored my belief in fairy tales.  Because really, their wedding day felt just as beautiful and magical.  But in this story, the princess was crazy smart and completed her PhD around the same time she was planning a wedding.  She also didn't need a prince to come and save her, but he showed his love in the best way. . .by driving hours and hours and proposing by her hospital bedside after she was in a head on collision.  And in the end she still got to wear an insanely beautiful dress adorned with beaded flowers that was perfect for twirling (especially to classic rock at her reception).  

I didn't get a lot of time to get to know this couple, as they currently live in Iowa. But I loved getting to chat with them over beignets a few days before the wedding. Neither seemed crazy nervous, just calm and ready to make this amazing commitment.   And same can be said the day of their wedding!  Everything flowed so beautifully and even though it felt like the hottest day of the year, everyone was totally game for shooting outside in the beautiful natural light!  The light was seriously so beautiful for us that day.  Add on to having an incredible group of family and friends surrounding them with so much love, joy, and laughter that day, it really felt like the perfect wedding day.  

Thank you Emily and Jim for trusting me completely to capture your day!

The amazing vendors:

Second Shooter:  Lauryn with L. Atwood Photography

Hair + Makeup:  Chuck Kelly Salon

Caterer:  Simply Seafood & Catering

DJ:  Nightshift Sounds Entertainment



Katelyn + Michael || New Orleans, LA Wedding


Katelyn + Michael || New Orleans, LA Wedding

What happens when you are trying to create a sneak peek and it turns into 100 images?  You move it over to your blog!  Actually, maybe I'll start doing this from now on?!  I can't usually help myself from editing my favorite images from the day right after the wedding. . .

So the first time I chatted on the phone with Katelyn I remember thinking, "wow, this girl really has her stuff together!"  She asked the best questions, was very to the point, and I think also knowing that she worked for a professional basketball team (the Pelicans!) was pretty impressive to me as well (ok, being honest here!).  I'm always a little nervous before engagement sessions, and just having this amazing first impression of Katelyn, maybe a little more so than usual.  It's like a first date. . .will they like me, will it be awkward, what if I accidentally hold their hand (ok, not the last one, but it's a funny thought)?   The minute I met her and Michael, I instantly felt comfortable.  They literally had me laughing from beginning to end and they are both so down to earth!  I think these are just a few reasons that they were so amazing to work with and their day was seriously incredible!  Katelyn was so detail oriented that the whole day just flowed wonderfully, but she's also incredibly down to earth and kind.   I felt like I was honestly hanging out with friends the whole day!  

As you'll see, Katelyn and Michael's wedding was a wonderful mix of elegance, tradition, quirkiness, and exuberation (and that last one is not a word, but it shows up in Urban Dictionary?!).  I was swooning over Katelyn's beautiful, custom-made wedding gown, and Michael looked so handsome in his classic black tux.  I couldn't believe how calm both of them were right before the ceremony.  They were each just ready to marry their best friend.   Michael's first look of Katelyn coming down the aisle was a beautiful moment to capture and it was like no one else existed in that church at that moment!   After a beautiful ceremony, everyone met outside for an exuberant second line to the reception.  The rest of the night was just as amazing!  I hope this couple loves these images as much as I do! 

Biggest thanks to my amazing second shooter, Lisa cooke!  

Amazing vendors:

Church:  Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church

Reception Venue/Getting ready:  The Roosevelt Hotel

Hair + Makeup: Verde Beauty Studio

Videographer:  Ashley Marks Media

Florist:  Beth's Flowers

Wedding Dress and Veil:  Wedding Belles Nola

Tuxedo:  Men's Wearhouse

Caterer:  Zoe's Kitchen

Live Event Painter:  Pappion Artistry

Band:  Louisiana Spice


Summer Travels || Personal Blog Post


Summer Travels || Personal Blog Post

I think I might be a closet adrenaline junky.  By looking at my life, you would probably think the opposite. . .I'm very much a homebody most days and I usually like things to stay pretty mellow and safe in my life.  But some days I wake up with an itch to do something a little crazy.  And I think driving with a toddler all the way across the country might just qualify for that.  (Shouldn't I get some kind of a cool bumper sticker with a toddler silhouette and a 4,000 on it showing that I went that many miles with a toddler and managed not to lose my mind?!)  My mom reminded me today that she took me, my sister, and my brother (who was 6 months at the time!) on a week long bus tour of Italy when we were stationed in Germany.  I do remember some nights where we all slept on the bus as it drove.  So I think I come by it honest?!  But I can't imagine sleeping on a bus with a 6 month old. . .shudder.  She's amazing.  

All that to say, this trip was absolutely incredible.  I try to make it back to California at least once a year, because I get so homesick for it!  And this time I really wanted my husband to come with me.  For some selfish reasons (like helping me with a toddler), but also because I knew he would love it!  Which he absolutely did!  

Ok, before I get to the photos, I'll share a few things I learned about road tripping (especially with a toddler) . . .and if you're a bride, I have a sweet offer at the end of this blog post so make sure you pay attention at the end!!! 

1.  An 8 hour drive will be closer to 12 hours with a toddler.  

2.  You might have a whole heck of a lot of principles that go out the window for the sake of sanity when you're driving 12 hours a day ("Only 30 minutes of screen time a day", "Don't let your child eat an entire container of puffs in one sitting," etc.)

3.  Road tripping with a toddler will grow and strengthen your marriage. long as you are willing to apologize for things you said when you were hungry/tired/frustrated. 

4.  I have a whole new appreciation for vacationing.  I used to think it was a nice luxury, but I've realized it's more essential to our health/wellbeing than I ever realized!  We have to get out of our normal routine and make intentional time to just enjoy one another and life.  

5.  In N Out needs to come east.  Like yesterday.

Get ready for photo overload!  

Las Cruces, New Mexico

If you ever take the 1-10 route across the US, Las Cruces is a place you really should stop in.  My friend Juliana told me about it and I'm incredibly grateful because I don't think I had ever heard about this magical city before!

San Francisco  (Golden Gate Park, China Town) & Muir Woods

Ricky was especially excited about San Francisco.  I was excited, but also exhausted, as we had just got in from a 3 day, 40 hour trek, the evening before.  But I couldn't deny him experiencing the city! We started our day at "Tartine Bakery" after I read a VRBO blog that said it was one of the best bakeries in the world.  Not going to lie, the inside is really, really small (ie not toddler friendly) and having your toddler melt down in a teensy tiny cafe filled wall to wall with sophisticated urbanites and bearded hipsters was pretty awful.  The stink eye was strong with these ones.  However, their morning bun was literally out of this world good (and worth robbing a little peace from the city dwellers!).  After that, we took a (misty) walk through part of the Golden Gate park and Will enjoyed watching dogs and jumping in every puddle he could find.  Our day was concluded by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Muir Woods.

Truckee, Lake Tahoe, Lake Donner

This is actually the reason we came out to California!  To spend a sweet summer weekend with some of my college friends.  Well our sweet summer weekend turned into a cozy winter weekend as the temps stayed mostly in the 40s and 50s.  And on our second day there, we got to experience a little snowfall!  Oh yeah, if you go to Tahoe in June, you can expect snow from time to time.  Something else I learned.  

I have so missed these friends of mine.  I think the friendships forged in college are ones that really do last a lifetime.  It was fun to revisit college joys, pains, and awkwardness (most of it mine!) with them.  

PS Oh yeah, I did stop a group of Renaissance festival goers and asked them to hold my kid for a fun photo (and the awkwardness continues. . .)