Category Archives: personal

My Thoughts on our Disney World Trip

The Disney World post the world is waiting for

That, is sarcasm. I am pretty sure the last thing the internet needs is another Disney post. But, I’m doing it anyway…with pictures!

In early February, we traveled to Disney for a week. I have always loved planning trips, and Disney certainly allows for plenty of opportunities to plan. Although I’m still not an expert, I do know more about every Disney ride, attraction, and restaurant than I ever thought I would. So, while I’ll spare you my boring opinions on all of that, here are my general thoughts on our experience.

We left our house for our flight at about 4am. The only upside of a flight this early that I can come up with is the pretty light streaming through the windows. I thought the kids might all sleep, but I think the excitement was too much. Thankfully, I have found that the best way to fly with kids is with lots of activities, lots of food, and lots of lysol wipes. The lysol wipes part I learned from our last trip. [Shudder]

For our first day in Disney, we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I thought the kids would be really into seeing the animals out the window and that it would keep them entertained all day. It did not. The picture above is Julia after we had been there for about 5 mins. She was more excited by the hotel bed than the giraffes visible from our balcony. Kids are weird like that.

Disney is huge and we did so much walking every single day. If we could have had a triple stroller, Florence would have been into it. In my opinion, strollers in Disney with little kids are an absolute must.

If you are a morning person, good news, Disney is made for you! If you are not a morning person (like me) get ready to be one!

So, this isn’t strictly a must, but when we got up and to the parks before they opened, we really had the best days. There weren’t long lines and we avoided the hot Florida February afternoons. I didn’t know that hot February afternoons were a thing in Florida, but apparently they are. And by 10am there would be three hour lines for rides that we had ridden three times in a row with no wait when the park opened. So waking up at 6am for those tradeoffs felt super worth it. It’s not like our kids sleep in anyway.

While there were some big things we’d planned that didn’t end up being a hit, and little things that we never would have realized they’d like so much, there was one big thing that they absolutely loved; Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. For kids like mine, who love dressing up, I can’t imagine anything more perfect. Julia regularly prances around in a pair of high heels that are half the size of her feet and meant for a stuffed bunny. So ya, this is made for them. It’s not cheap, but they do such a great job. 5 out of 5, would recommend.

This photo is when I told them they were getting makeovers. The best.

And this is Julia for sure having the best day of her life.

Who taught these children how to pose for a photo? Maybe my favorite photo from the trip though to be honest.

I know people aren’t always super into the idea of bringing a baby/toddler along on such an expensive and exhausting trip. I have to say though, Louisa was a delight. Because of the long days, she slept great at night. So many of the rides there are baby friendly and she absolutely loooooved them. On every one (especially any with animatronic people or animals) she would cheer and scream “yay!” I know she might not remember it, but I will. And the memories are pretty great. Oh, and she’s free – so why not, right?

The rest of the photos from this post are from the Disney Photo Pass photographers. I have some mixed feelings about the photo pass. However, being a mom who is always taking all of the photos and never in them, I will get it every single time.


First of all, there are always going to be gems like this from character meetings. And you will definitely want those.

Oh ya, remember when I said Lou loved the rides? She did not feel the same about the characters.


Second, that is me in the photos with my family. Priceless.


Third, yeah, they’re not always going to be winners. I think that’s kind of in the positive category too though. Perfection is over-rated.

Overall, it was a pretty great trip. Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself to be a “Disney” person, I’d still recommend it. The magic factor for little kids is off the charts and makes it worth every penny.

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A Year of Us

My First 365 (368) Project in the books

I did it! A year of documenting our family – check! Actually, it seems I failed to share three photos somewhere over the year, so we have ended up at the nice round number of 368. Not only did I take all of these photos though, but I edited and shared them on my instagram and facebook (outside of those missing three of course). That is something close to a miracle. At the risk of sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech, thank you to everyone who followed along and commented and liked my photos. A 365 is a marathon, not a sprint, and it really kept me honest.

While I did keep up with sharing on instagram and facebook, I didn’t share on here as much. Whoops! So I’m sharing a few of my favorites below. I’m also including the slideshow that I made for the entire year (including the three missed photos). And if you run into me, PLEASE ask me if I’ve made my 365 album yet. Gotta keep me honest.

Philadelphia Documentary Family Photographer

“Florence and Julia were laying like this on the couch yesterday morning and I gave Lou to Flo to get a quick photo of the three of them together. I was trying to get them to laugh and asked them to say some silly things. Florence turned knowingly to Julia and said in a very matter of fact tone, “You don’t have to say it Julia, just laugh. That’s really what she wants you to do.” She then burst into over the top hysterics. A little over a month into this 365 project and I guess we’re officially on autopilot.”

a year of documenting our family

“It’s like A Beautiful Mind, but palm trees instead of math equations.”

“All three in the bath! ?”

a year of documenting our family

“Yesterday was new shoe day, but it was really all about the balloons. ?” | “For most of the year, Julia has accompanied me to Florence’s dance class and patiently waited for class to be over before heading home. About a month ago, she decided that she had had enough of that. After Flo’s class, she proudly walked in with the other 2-3 year olds that were about to begin class and announced “now I’m doing dance!” As all the other little girls watched, I pried her tiny hands off of the bar and explained to her that she wasn’t taking dance and we had to go home. “But I haven’t danced yet!!!” she sobbed as I carried her out of the room. It was kinda just a little bit heartbreaking. So needless to say, Julia takes dance now too.”

Bonus Photo

Louisa was not so sure about this whole doctor appointment business.

“These two do their fair share of fighting (Why do children who have thousands of toys always want the exact same one at the exact same moment? What is that?), but they also love each other so much. There is literally nothing in the world that makes me happier than seeing them play together like this. ??”

Bonus Photo

“Post-dance hopscotch. “

Bonus Photo (with fabulous blanket, hat, and sweater made by Grandma!)

“Can I share some honest thoughts here? I didn’t feel like taking a photo yesterday. It was a busy day, and under normal, non-365 challenge circumstances, I wouldn’t have touched my camera. But Flo floated into the kitchen in this number while I made dinner, and I grabbed my camera and made it happen. If I’m being really honest though, the kitchen was a hot mess when I took this photo, which is also something that tends to make me feel overwhelmed and uninspired. So, for the sake of complete transparency, I’m sharing a little “behind the scenes” moment in the swipe right. Real life…ya know? It’s not always neat.” (this is my swipe right…my favorite in the end)

“How yard work gets DONE around here. ?”

“Forget about Christmas. This is the most wonderful time of the year. ???????”

“Last night’s sunset was kind of awesome. ?”

Bonus Photo

“Last night, the unspoken agreement that kept Julia in the crib that she is fully capable of climbing out of, broke down. She no longer agreed and probably left her room (and was subsequently returned) no less than 15 times. It felt like it went on forever. She would escape, I’d chase her down the hall as she laughed hysterically, return her to her room, and before I even had the door closed she was working on coming back out. I tried putting a child-proofing door knob cover on and she just laughed maniacally as she whacked it off in about five seconds flat (if I’m being honest, I had trouble not laughing at that). Poor Florence requested ear plugs in case this starts happening every night. It didn’t end until I ignored her as she rolled around under my bed for 5-10 mins and FINALLY asked to be put in her crib. The worst part is it happened again tonight! Aaaaah! Obviously tomorrow she’ll be in a big girl bed, which we had actually told her we’d be doing this weekend anyway, but how do we keep her in her room?!?! ?”

“There were a few photos from yesterday that I liked, but this one captures the best memory from the day. Julia was so amazed when she saw this stilt walker (or in her mind, an extremely tall woman) that she chased her half way around the tent on her short little legs until she caught up with her. It almost made my heart explode with the cuteness. ??” | Bonus Photo

“This porch is my favorite place to be. We planted lilac bushes on the side and this is the first year that you can smell them wafting across the porch. On a day like yesterday, it’s perfect.”

“We are now fully in the mischief making phase with Lou. But on the positive side, a couple of nights ago she slept 12 hours straight. If she starts doing that on a regular basis, she can toilet paper the whole house if she wants.”

“Recently, balancing three kids has felt extra challenging. Not the physically caring for them part, but finding the time to give them each the individual attention they want and not just losing my patience. It’s just so hard when you have three people who are all needing something from you at the exact same time. And by the end of the day, all I really want is silence. But last night, we did something really fun, pretty much by accident, that I plan to make a regular thing. After Lou was in bed, Jason and I took turns taking the girls on a mini one on one trip for ice cream. I took Julia first and then Jason took Florence. Julia and I held hands while we walked there and she had me hold her like a baby in line. She ordered her own ice cream (strawberry with sprinkles), standing on her tippy toes at the counter, and then we sat on the steps of the post office while we ate. I kept trying to scooch over to take a better photo of her, but every time I moved, she moved with me. When we got home, she got her own bath (she still asked if she got the front this time) and her own bedtime with just me. I’d like to say that all of this individual attention resulted in a completely peaceful bedtime, without threats, but instead I will say that it only involved one time getting out of bed from her and one threat to take away all of her purses from me. All in all, I’ll go ahead and call that a big success.”

“Yesterday ended with dinner on the porch with these crazy people. It was a good day.”

“esterday, Florence wanted to stay up late enough to see the fireflies come out. She caught one in her hand and brought it over to show Julia and I took this photo just as it flew off and she said “bye bye, firefly.” Something about the memory of her sweet voice and the mix of awe and sadness on her face makes me tear up when I look at this photo. It’s hard letting things go sometimes. ??”

“Oh Vi, you crazy bubble killer, you. ??”

“Julia ??”

“The Katy Perry performance was taken up a level yesterday when Julia went into the sunroom and came out with a cat eye she’d created with black marker. Florence disappeared and shortly came back with a similar look. As I was lecturing them about making good choices and trying to figure out what sort of marker exactly they had used, I looked over and saw Julia standing with an open green marker in her hand. I said “don’t. you. dare.” She stared me right in the eye as she drew the green marker clear across her forehead without ever blinking.”

Bonus Photo

“Normal Friday. Nothing of note.”

“Florence and Julia turned in a couple of their library summer reading tickets for free ice cream cones from Scoops. Last night, we went to get the ice cream. Florence rode her bike there with two cat stuffed animals in the basket to match her cat helmet. Julia walked home eating sprinkles off of her dress. Both girls had to go immediately into the bath. I’d say their prizes were a big hit. ? ??”

“..When your friend comes over and borrows your favorite accessories.”

“I love when they get fancy for a walk around town. I did make Florence put back the parasol though (which is usually turned into some sort of sword). So I’m not that fun.”

“I think Halloween might be my very favorite holiday.”

“Halloween. ?”

“Julia was not impressed with sharing her dolls with Lou.”

“Winter vibes. Happy New Year everyone!”

 
Although the 365 is technically over, I’ve still been taking a picture every day since it ended. So, I’ll definitely still be posting to my instagram and facebook quite a bit. Come follow along! And if you are interested in a session for your family full of every day moments, contact me! Let’s chat!

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Documenting Everyday Moments

Starting a 365

Back at the end of January, I impulsively (as I do most such things) began a 365 photo project. I’m taking a picture every day over the course of a year. Overall, I am loving it. There are definitely days when I wake up and don’t feel like taking a photo and when taking my camera out feels like a job. But at the end of every day, I have found such joy in plugging my memory card into my computer and seeing what I got. It reminds me a little bit of how I used to feel developing a roll of film I’d just shot.

Photography Workshop Inspiration

One particular thing that helped me tremendously in starting this project when I did, was that I had just taken two wonderful workshops. I love photography workshops and I take one almost every year. There is always more room to learn and grow as a photographer and I also just love being surrounded by other photographers, on a similar journey.

The first workshop that I took in January, was Editing for Artists with Roxanne Bryant. As someone who is a bit of a control freak, it had always bothered me that my editing relied on tweaking lightroom presets. I wanted to know what to do to my photos to get them to look exactly how I wanted. This class absolutely came through. If you are looking for a really thorough course on color theory and lightroom editing, I cannot recommend this class enough. As a bonus, I actually like editing now. Hooray!

The second workshop that I took was The Magic of Light with Summer Murdock. This was the second time I took this course and it was just as inspiring as the first time around. Summer is kind of like a light magician…or maybe a scientist. The first time I took this workshop, it revolutionized the way I shot and approached sessions. And this time, even though the material was the same, I still somehow got so much out of it. Summer is a wonderful teacher. If you love photography – take this workshop.

365 – Month One

Little girl with straw hat, holding umbrella and looking out the window.

The photo that started it.

Black and white photo of toddler girl climbing on cabinet in the background with baby, older sister tossing doll and dog in the foreground.

2 of 365

Conshohocken photo of girl getting out of minivan with mom taking picture in reflection

I’m really going to try to get in more pictures this year. I’m starting off small.

toddler girl reading magazine at Goldfish Swim School in Fort Washington

“I’m reading about the peoples.” First swim lesson without me is in the books and not a tear was shed. In fact, she was so excited, she ran in without me and asked to go again today. My brave girl.

Two girls in martial arts poses with headbands on their foreheads.

“I’m a striker! I’m a fearless fighter!” … If only this photo could convey the sound effects that Florence was making as she struck her various fearless fighter poses. {Actually…scroll to the bottom to hear just this!}

Documentary photo of baby sleeping on her dad's chest with white dog sleeping on the bed next to them.

This baby…she keeps us tired. Demands to be held 24/7. Recently, Jason has taken over her bedtime while I do bedtime with the older two. Once Flo and Julia are in bed, I skip around the house doing all the things! Last night I did all the dishes, picked up the house, ran the vacuum and folded laundry! I never could have imagined how exciting that itinerary would be.

Documentary photo of mom reading books to baby and toddler girl on bed.

I’m in the photo!!! This is what weekday nap time prep for Julia looks like these days.

Conshohocken girl walking on wall at elementary school with green wall and windows behind her.

Most years, in January, I like to find a photography workshop to take. In the dead of winter, it’s sometimes hard to feel inspired and being in a classroom again with other talented photographers, even a virtual classroom, is a perfect way to start off the year. Right now, I’m taking The Magic of Light for the second time and it’s as inspiring as ever. Yesterday, Flo joined me on my light walk around town, looking for interesting light. The assignment this week was to take photos without people, but I couldn’t resist taking a few with Florence.

Documentary photo of baby being bathed in the sink, looking at the water running into her hands.

This was the first bath where Lou didn’t scream almost the entire time. She was just fascinated with the way the water hit her hands. What a delightful change!

Conshohocken Documentary Photo of girl with robot helmet on on sidewalk with large shadow

Florence made an astronaut helmet and wanted to wear it to show the bus driver yesterday morning. She’s been making improvements on the helmet and started on her space ship last night. Stay tuned.

Toddler girl standing in just a diaper while holding her clothes in front of her.

If you watched the Marie Kondo show on Netflix – like me, and most of the world it seems – then you might have an idea how beautiful all of our drawers have looked for the last month. Unfortunately, just last week, Julia learned how to dress herself. She has proceeded to put this skill to the test roughly 10 times each day – trying on not only her own clothes, but Florence’s. She also likes to pick out new outfits for Louisa so that they can match. It would seem that The KonMari method is no match for Julia.

Baby girl in exercauser looking up at the camera.

As of today, 6 months of this sensitive, sweet girl turning everything upside down in our house. We love her so, in spite of her rather strong opinions on how things should be and her very, very loud protests when we don’t live up to her expectations.

Toddler girl looking out through window with reflection of dog in the window.

I took a few pictures of Julia from outside like this and when I tried to come back in she said “awww…take more. I like it.” Someone is getting used to being documented at all times. I guess I should appreciate it while it lasts.

Closeup photograph of two girls holding hands in hazy sunlight

Last night I took some photos of Flo and Julia in that gorgeous sunset light. This one caught my eye immediately. That light and their two little hands. I hope they are always this close.

Little girl looking at the camera through sparkly streamers

This is a bit late, but we’ve had a busy weekend with this girl turning SIX yesterday! She’s sweet, sensitive, friendly, caring and one of the best big sisters around. I am so lucky to be her mom.

Photograph of little girl playing with legos with a lego house in the foreground.

Julia and a tiny, intricate lego house is like Godzilla in Tokyo. (And it certainly looked like Godzilla had struck after she was finished.)

Conshohocken snowy day toddler girl and dog looking out the window at dad cleaning off car.

Yesterday was my birthday and I meant to do a self portrait, but then I didn’t feel like it. Since it was my birthday I gave myself a pass. Plus, I’d already taken this cutie photo of Julia watching Jason leave for work on the snowy morning.

Two girls playing with umbrellas in the snow with umbrella in the foreground.

Snow day!

Reflection of little girl in puddle with pink boots and blue sky.

Puddles and clouds and a little Julia.

Little girl looking down at heart lollipop with her profile illuminated.

Heart day! Flo was eating this lollipop and I asked her to come stand in this pretty light for me. Right after I took this picture, she chomped her heart right up like the owl in the tootsie pop commercials. Glad I got this one shot!

Image of baby girl with red hair and blue eyes in harsh sunlight on bed.

Little Lou. I wanted to capture that red hair and blue eyes, in case either change.

Little girl bouncing on bee toy with toddler little sister looking on in the background in messy playroom

…bouncing into Saturday.

Documentary photograph of two girls sitting at the dining room table playing a game.

For a couple of hours in the morning, there is a small, beautiful pocket of light that lit up Flo and Julia’s game of Picture Lotto just right yesterday.

Girl looking at wall of art hanging on the wall in her living room.

Florence clearly got sick of my indecision about what to hang on our walls and has taken matters into her own hands. A small, hand-made plaque next to this gallery wall reads, “Florence and Julias art wall.”

Baby sleeping on a pile of different patterned blankets

When you don’t sleep at night…or at nap time…sometimes you just pass out wherever.

Little girl sitting on windowsill looking out at snowy scene with toddler girl playing legos

Snow day!

Black and white image of baby about to take a bite of a spoonful of food.

This baby has been less than thrilled with eating so far. Very on brand for her.

Image of toddler girl in crib having just woken up.

Post-nap rosy cheeked Julia.

Four kids dressed in saint patrick's day gear sitting on a step and hugging.

When your cousins bring the party.

Image of little girl blowing out three candles surrounded by blackness.

Three.

Image in Whole Foods Market of toddler girl peeking out from behind a pole in the background with baby girl sitting on a cart in the foreground.

Yesterday was the sort of day that started out with me running up and down our street, in the wind, collecting our recycling that had blown all over our neighbors’ lawns. Which is to say, it wasn’t the greatest of days. It was also Lou’s first time riding in the front of the shopping cart and Julia’s first time walking free alongside of the shopping cart. If you know Julia, I need not say more.

More, More, More

You will probably not be shocked to learn that I actually take more than one photo per day. So here are a few that I took in the first month of the year that I still love, even though they didn’t make the official daily photo cut.

Street photograph of brick wall with reflection in a window.Photograph of bridge underpass with a bit of sky and wires in the backgroundDiptych of two images shot at sunset on a small town street

Documentary photograph of little girl holding magnifying class with kids and dogs in the backgroundImage of little girl's eyes and hands peeking through mail slot of red front doorImage of baby with surprised face with older girl upside down in profile laying next to herdocumentary photography image of little girl in princess dress dancing with her dollImage of two girls standing in front of a window with their hair blowingPhotograph of little girl sleeping on a couch with an uneaten sandwich on her lapPhotograph of house through a window with raindrops on itPhotograph of a snowy dayblack and white image of mom on a bed with two little girls, one looking at camera and the other kissing herColor photograph of 6 year old girl looking at the camera and smiling surrounded by ivyReflection image of girl standing near a windowImage of girl blurry in the foreground with two dogs in the background reflected in a mirrorPhoto of little girl in a princess dress making an annoyed face Image of girl in hood smiling at camera at duskshadow of mom and little girl holding hands and tree on church wall with red doorDocumentary photograph of a family of five gathered around while girl blows out six candlesblack and white photograph of little girl in profile making a silly faceImage of little girl reading with her dogImage of little girl playing with a doll illuminated in a doorway with dog on the bed, dimly lit in the foregroundBaby and dad sitting together with dog laying on their lapsImage of girl and dad dressed up in homemade pirate gear with baby an dog sleeping

That’s it for month one. If you’d like for me to photograph your family’s everyday goofy moments, contact me and let’s chat! And if you’ve made it to this point in the post and aren’t following along with my 365, you can follow on facebook or instagram. I’d love to see you there!

 

Last but not least, a little video of one of those magical daily moments. Kids man, they’re kind of the best.

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Louisa Willow | Family of Five

Meet Louisa Willow! A couple of weeks ago, we became a family of five when Louisa was born. She is very sweet and little and we all love her so much. I almost don’t even mind that she prefers to be held while she sleeps. Who can say no to extra newborn cuddles?

At the moment, I’m taking some time off as we adjust to the chaos of an extra kiddo. But I’ll be back to work in September and can’t wait! **My weekends in September and October are almost fully booked. So if you were hoping to book a session with me this fall, contact me ASAP! katie[at]kmcmenamin.com**

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My name is Katie and these are my people. You can get to know us and see my family's story in pictures here. I would love to hear your story too. 

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