Doug, Cathy, Ben & Erik: A Seneca Creek State Park Family Session

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You guys.
This family was *so* much fun. I have never seen kids as expressive as Ben and Erik were, and the whole gang did their best at quacking like ducks in hopes of making some magically appear, because the boys love ducks. The boys also did really great, in spite of the fact they were less than impressed with the idea of getting their photos taken. Family photos can be challenging – for the photographer and the families – because kids have a mind of their own, but they are also some of the most fun and rewarding sessions, because kids just let their personalities and feelings come through, and I love that!

Cathy and Doug, thank you again for spending your morning with me, and introducing me to such a beautiful location in Seneca Creek State Park.  I hope to see all of you again soon!

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Cassie & Scott: We’re Expecting! An Oatlands Plantation Baby Announcement

Blair-13I was *beyond* excited when Cassie reached out to me to let me know that she and her wonderful hubby, Scott, were expecting a new addition to their family and wanted to do photos to announce the pregnancy and gender to their friends and family. And I was bonus excited when Cassie told me she had gotten baby Chuck Taylor‘s to bring as well. Can you get any cuter than that?!

The greenhouse and grounds of Oatlands Plantation was the perfect place to shoot. I had actually never been to this location before, but it quickly became a favorite. The greenhouse was cute and perfect, and even without flowers in bloom yet, the gardens on the grounds were still great to walk through. I hope to find my way back here again soon.

But enough of that! On to the pictures, which is why you’re really here anyway, right? Congrats again, Cassie and Scott, and I can’t wait to see your little one rocking those Chucks!

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Relax & Renew: Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

I planned this yoga retreat long before I knew how much I would need it at this time of my life. I did my first yoga retreat several years ago, in Nicaragua, and I loved it. I’ve been doing yoga for more years than I can count at this point, but retreats are special. It’s a great opportunity to deepen your practice and spend time with like-minded people, exploring a new place. Ever since Nicaragua, I’ve kept an eye out for the right retreat and timing and, luckily for me, a studio I practice at locally, Radiance, was putting together a retreat. Before I could find a way to talk myself out of it, I put down my deposit and was locked in. I didn’t anticipate that by the time I was boarding my plane, I’d be in the midst of a divorce and trying to come to terms with my senior dog being a newly diagnosed diabetic, but I’d like believe the universe had set me up to be right where I needed to be when I needed it most, connecting with the best people to help me on my journey.

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After two flights and a long, sometimes bumpy van ride, we arrived at Ahki Retreat. I’m not sure I can do justice describing how it really is a paradise setting, so I’ll just let the photos do the talking for me. We spent a week here, doing two yoga practices a day and eating amazing vegetarian food for all our meals. I am the furthest thing from a vegetarian in real life, but I promise you, if the staff at Ahki were cooking for me at home every day, I would be in a heartbeat. So good. When we weren’t yoga-ing (or eating), we were hanging by the pool (there is no better nap in your life than one on a swinging bed in a poolside cabana), getting massages and body treatments, and exploring everything Costa Rica had to offer by going horseback riding, surfing, shopping, stand-up paddleboarding, and ziplining.

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I did both the horseback riding and the ziplining. I don’t have photos from the ziplining – I was way too terrified to even think about taking photos! – but I do promise that it was worth it. After I got past wondering how to say “holy shit!!” in Spanish, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I am terrified of the idea of falling, so doing it was a big step in addressing and overcoming that fear, and the ziplining guides were awesome. I highly recommend both a sunset horseback ride and ziplining if you find yourself in this area of Costa Rica!

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We also spent some time in the closest “big” town, Nosara, getting ice cream and shopping. Towards the end of the week, we went out for dinner at La Luna, where we enjoyed a lovely, leisurely dinner literally on the beach while we watched the sun set into the Pacific Ocean.

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I am so grateful for this trip, the experiences I had, and the people I met. I can’t wait to do it again. Pura Vida!

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The Library of Congress

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, containing over 164 million items, including over 38 million books. The Library is the research arm of Congress, but anyone 16 and older can register for a reader card and have access to the Library’s resources for doing research. Twice a year, the Library opens its main reading room to the general public for viewing. Being such a huge bookworm and having Columbus Day off work, I headed down there to check it out.

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have lived in the DC area for almost 15 years, and this is the first time I’ve set foot in the building. And I was really missing out. Aside from the reading room, the whole building is really a work of art. I was so happy to be able to spend some time enjoying such an amazing space that houses so many treasures. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took, and if you are ever in DC when the reading room is open, I highly recommend taking the time to take a peek.

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Yep. They have a *real* card catalogue.

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Most of the items they had on display were (really impressive) facsimiles, but this is the real deal – a Spanish dictionary from the 1600s. They have others in storage so are allowed to have this original out for people to touch. The librarian who showed it to me said a lot of people who do research on that time period will use the dictionary so they are getting the original meaning of the words. So cool to be able to see and touch a book that old!

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Nostalgia: My Alma Mater

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons, or the season of change I am going through personally. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking back on the people and places that have helped shape who I am. As for a lot of people, a big part of that for me was my college experience. I went to a very small liberal arts college in the hills of West Virginia called Bethany College.  Bethany was affiliated with the church denomination I grew up in, and when I took a trip to Bethany in middle school as part of a church history education trip, I decided that was where I was going to college. I toured only two other colleges (Miami of Ohio and the University of Cincinnati, in case anyone cares) and applied only to Bethany (which, in retrospect, is not really an approach I would endorse, because what if I hadn’t gotten in? But that’s what I did). And then I spent four wonderful years there.

Bethany is so beautiful, and it was about the perfect distance from home – close enough I could go home for a weekend if I wanted, but no so close my parents could just pop in unannounced. :) It was also not far from Pittsburgh, so if we wanted some city shopping, clubs, or food, we could be there in about an hour. And I’m not kidding when I say Bethany was *small* – my graduating class was around 200 people. Even “big” lecture classes were engaging, and for our  smaller seminars and classes, professors would even sometimes host us at their homes. There was one bar in town, Bubba’s, and who can go wrong with a bar called Bubba’s?

Because of its small size, you got to know your classmates really well. I’m fortunate that I’ve retained a lot of friendships from school, particularly from my sorority.  I went into college dead-set against against joining Greek life, but once I met the women from Kappa Delta there, I knew I had found a home away from home. We were, by and large, a band of misfits, but damn, did we have fun together, and loved each other as fiercely as sisters should.

I was up in WV a few years ago for a wedding (my Bethany freshman year roommate!) and had some free time, so drove up to the school to wander around a bit. And then I never did anything with the photos, until this weekend, when my nostalgia encouraged me to finally get around to them. So, without further ado, here is dear old Bethany.

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Abandoned in Virginia

Maybe I’m weird, but I love things that are falling down or apart. Not too long ago, I had the chance to explore an abandoned home in southern Virginia. I hope you find this house as interesting as I did!

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Todd, Whitney, Bailey & Peter: A Herndon, VA Family Session

OMG, guys. This family. So much fun, and the kids were a riot. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen siblings get along as well as Bailey and Peter did. Peter would just light up whenever Bailey grinned at him, and they laughed (and made us laugh!) so much.

I was *so* happy to get to do this family session. Whitney and I have been friends since shortly after I moved to this area. She and I were roommates when she began dating Todd, and I think one of the best things is when friendships last long enough to see your friends evolve through the different stages of their lives. Whit and Todd will be married 10 years this year, and it’s clear how in love with each other and their kids they are. I am so very grateful to be involved with this whole family, and am glad I got to capture the fun they have together.

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