anniversary trip to St. John, USVI

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When we toasted our 5 year wedding anniversary in April, J and I decided spur-of-the-moment to book a trip to St. John, where we were married, to celebrate at the end of the year. Reservations made, we looked forward to this tropical getaway all summer long. It was what helped keep our eyes-on-the-prize when the weeks were long and time spent together as a family seemed too infrequent.

Last week was the week! Balancing illness (with an emergency trip to the island health clinic!) and the heart-breaking news of a dear friend's passing while away, we did our best to eek out a week's worth of QT squeezed into one cozy hotel room and focused on being grateful, being present.

We opted for the most family-friendly of island accommodations, The Westin, to ensure plenty of amenities for the kids and no cliffs to fret over. After smoothies on the beach each morning, we loaded into a Wrangler and set out to show our littles the most significant spots we adore on the island, opportunities that left me breathless more than once: High Tide by the ferry dock (welcome drinks), Skinny Legs (rehearsal dinner), Hawksnest Beach (ceremony) and Caneel Bay (honeymoon). We watched their eyes widen to meet donkeys and spy a "pirate" on the street corner, ride in open-air taxi-trucks, dance to local music, make strides with their swimming, indulge on the best fish we've ever had, marvel at the sunset's colors and wake with an up-for-anything sense of adventure each new day.

Despite still very much being in toddler-chasing mode, I did bring my camera along and used it if I was confident my kids weren't going to, say, get stepped on by a donkey (shoot, that did happen). But mostly, I tried to enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to just be. Together. Crazy hair, bug bites, $14.45 loaves of gluten-free bread, holiday season pressures and grief lingering and all. We loved it so much we bought a Westin timeshare and are counting the days until we get to go back.

Brooks-Brewer family portrait at French's Point in Stockton Springs, Maine

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The Brooks and Brooks-Brewer families are the kind of people who greet you with the warmest smile and most open arms.  I loved photographing the Brooks-Brewer side of the family last year, while a little Miss Bristol was in utero.  She finally entered the world six months ago, and over the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I was able to meet her for the "second" time, along with more of the Brooks clan at their private estate in Stockton Springs that hosts weddings and events year-round.  Jessika's mother and father, Bonnie and Bob, and Jessika's younger brother Rob and his wife Pam, joined the usual suspects Fred and the kids -- 6-year old Bailey, 4-year old Payton (who still loves pirates!), and 2-year old Camden.  It was beautiful to see French's Point in the winter with a fresh heap of snow covering the grounds.  There's something special about that place no matter the season.  For me, it was extra special to be there with the entire family who have so much history on this beautiful peninsula with its breathtaking views.  Thank you so, so much for having me document your family again!  I loved our Saturday together!

Higgins Beach winter engagement session

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Baby, it's cold outside!!

Hopestill (Hopie) and college sweetheart Nicholas met me at Higgins Beach where they had their first (surfing) date while attending Colby College. They are marrying in Falmouth next spring, where Hopie grew up, and wanted to be sure these special sands were somehow captured as part of their wedding story.

Initially they had proposed a surfing shoot. At sunrise. YES! I'd be game for that! But when the forecast offered numbers nearly in the teens, a bundled up afternoon stroll on the beach with pup Willow seemed a more comfortable alternative.

Twenty-five minutes in (or out, I should say), we retreated to their friends' place to thaw and waited for the sun to drop. We had one final dash back out to the beach with some dramatic light to end the afternoon.

I loved the chance to get to know these two and appreciated their up-for-anything attitude in possibly the most extreme cold I have photographed in quite some time! So looking forward to next June!
 

Henry and Asa in Cape Elizabeth

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The cute factor is off the charts with these two! The perfectly adorable children of 2010 wedding couple Jenny and Lee were a joy to photograph at their Cape Elizabeth home on Sunday. I had met older brother Henry three years ago during our Pink Initiative pop-up portraits on the Eastern Prom on a very cold, cloudy day. Meeting younger brother Asa and seeing big brother dote on him made my heart mush. Sibling relationships are magic! Such buddies already, and so much fun together! I took note of the tenderness between each member of this treasured family as we tossed leaves and even played catch while I photographed (a new found photo skill!). I was so glad to have the chance to spend some time together and look forward to watching these brothers grow!

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