Our own family sometimes gets the shaft when it comes to sessions.  And unfortunately, they almost never make it to the blog even when we do get the sessions done.  But today is our oldest nephew’s birthday, and it just so happens that we did their family session down at the lake last week, so today they will be blogged!  We were originally scheduled to head to the beach for a session that evening, but thanks to Irma that was rescheduled.  Actually, though, that worked out really well because Rebecca, my sister-in-law, wanted to have their family portrait at the lake house that has been in her family since she was a little girl.  And this turned out to be the only night that we could do it.  So I guess there’s one good thing that came from Irma.  We knew exactly what we were after and worked super fast, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way this all turned out!  Guys, it was fun!  And Happy Birthday, Tallon!  We love you!

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Y’all, I almost feel like we cheated with this session.  This sweet girl was a dream!  She came in with that giant smile on her face and kept it there the whole time.  And that smile she has is such a great one!  It’s a whole face smile, and everything about her lights up!  Leah, we loved seeing you again!  Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

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This little one’s grandmomma posted a photo of him on Facebook yesterday and described him as a sweet little lump of sugar.  YES.  Most definitely, YES, Reid is a sweet little lump of sugar!  And he was just the cutest at his newborn session!  Y’all know we love small, local business, and Reid was born into a family chock full of them.  I love that each was represented at his session!  That photo of him on the watermelon table at Lamb’s?!?  Great Day, I could eat him up!  Sweet Reid, Collin and I had the best time with you!  See you again soon, Buddy!

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It’s breaking my heart that Florida is being pelted with this monstrous storm.  Obviously, I’m super thankful that it looks like our coast will be spared this time, but we absolutely LOVE Florida and some of my favorite memories that we have made as a family are from our time spent here.  And many of those are from just last week.  For the past several years we have taken the kids on one final summer trip before we gear up with the Fall craziness at the studio.  We start school on August 1st, and then when everybody else heads back to school we take a week off and head out of town.  It’s a fun way to ease into our school year and spend time together when the other vacationers have cleared out.  This year we camped at Bahia Honda State Park down in the Florida Keys.  We spent the week exploring the beach towns of the Keys, swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing, eating really good food, bike riding, reading, playing loads of card games, and being lazy.  It was WONDERFUL!

Bahia Honda is situated on Big Pine Key just beyond the Seven Mile Bridge, about half way down the Keys.  It was such a great spot for day trips to Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West, but it was also a perfect spot to stay for a beach and snorkeling day.  We loved this beautiful campground!

Of course while we were there we took the time to do a family session.  I loved my girl in this pretty pathway!  And I love that she still loves a good twirly dress.  I hope she never outgrows that. =)

And then we did family.  Praise the Lord they have finally figured out that if they will just smile it will all be over with and we can move on to something more fun.  Photographing our own family used to be torture.  I’m so thankful that we’ve moved beyond those days!

These next two photos make me laugh!  Collin and I had no idea that all of this was going on until we got back home and were looking at the session on the computer.  Collin had given Makgill the remote to the camera for a few, and this is the result.  I LOVE them!  Back of the Christmas card material, for sure!

Now to the rest of the trip!  By far our favorite thing that we did was a jet ski tour in Islamorada.  Collin drove CB and Mak drove me.  We went crazy fast and I thought I was going to fly right off of the thing, but it was SOOOOO Fun!  We saw the most gorgeous homes, explored the mangroves, and stopped at the Islamorada sand bar.  That’s where this was.  Beautiful!!

That’s our tour guide photo bombing CB.  He was great!

This kid was in his element.  Pretty sure his life goal is now to grow up to be a jet ski tour guide. 😉

A few phone pics from that morning…

After the tour we headed to Robbie’s to feed the tarpon.  Clara Beth was completely freaked out by the pelicans.

Snorkeling back at the campground in our alien masks…

We saw the sunset each night.  That’s always my goal on beach trips.  That’s the old train bridge that Henry Flagler built to connect the Keys to the mainland by train.  This was my favorite beach because it had the least amount of sea grass in the water.  But for that same reason it was the worst beach for snorkeling!

There’s a trail in the state park that leads up to the old bridge.  The views from up there are amazing!

We saw flamingos flying overhead!  I don’t know why this fascinated me so much, but it really did!

The Butterfly trail…where we saw not one single butterfly.

We did have to do some school work and some studio work while we were there in order to stay somewhat caught up, but honestly there’s nothing more relaxing to me that reading in the Airstream.  It’s one of my favorite parts of every camping trip.  Mak would most definitely disagree.

Airstream Office.  Searching for signal in order to keep that hot spot going just a little longer. =)

Key West!  This day was so hot, but we loved exploring this town for the day.

The kids wanted to drink from a coconut and they finally were able to here.  Clara Beth loved it, Mak still isn’t sure if he liked it or not.

Sucking on a few key limes at lunch.  Also, we had the best cuban sandwich here!  It made me wish we had eaten more Cuban food on this trip.

At this point in the day I was pretty much DONE.  We were hot and exhausted and tired of walking.  So we found a tour and rode around the city for an hour and a half.  It was great, and we got to hear the history of Key West.

We saw so many cute beach cottages!

And ate the best key lime pie!

And finally it was time for the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square.  The views were beautiful and the entertainment was hilarious!

Back at the campground they decided to break open that coconut and taste it.  They weren’t fans.

And on our last full day we decided that our very favorite thing that we had done that week was the jet ski tour, so we headed to a different place, this time in Marathon, to do another one.  Now we all want jet skis!

The tour guide took us back into the mangroves where we saw boats that had been sunk in a hurricane years ago and left there.  An entire little fishing village that was just abandoned.

Iguanas were everywhere!  Like squirrels are here!

One last swim/snorkel/sunset before we packed up to make the drive home.  It’s always sad to leave, but we sure did have an amazing week.

On the drive home we realized that the way our GPS was taking us, Disney would only be about 45 minutes out of the way.  And y’all know we love Disney.  Obviously we wouldn’t have time to go into the parks, but on the off chance that maybe there was some availability, I checked to see online about the possibility of staying at the campground that night.  They had several sites available!  We booked it at noon and were there by three, and even without going inside the parks it was such a fun night.  We love this place and are itching to get back there soon!

As thankful as we are that South Carolina isn’t getting nearly what we expected from Irma, we are heartbroken for Florida.  The eye of this storm is getting ready to pass right over Bahia Honda.  Praying for the safety of the people who stayed behind, the homes and businesses, and praying that we can make it back to this beautiful state soon.

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Whew!  So, Irma.  Have the rest of you been riding the roller coaster of emotions this week that we have?  Certain we’re doomed with a direct hit one minute, then the next thinking maybe it will shift east…now west…Goodness!  No matter who gets hit, we are fervently praying that the impacts are less than they are predicting.  And trusting that the Lord is most certainly in control, even in the midst of the worst of storms!  But you know what helps, no matter what the fear is?  Happy babies on the beach.  In fact, I think happy babies on the beach are the answer to many of life’s problems.  And that I can give you today.  Sweet Ava and her big brother Eason at Garden City.  They are so precious, and they make my heart smile SO Big!

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