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if it’s special to you, it’s special to me. (rocky mount, nc baby photographer)

During pre-consults with clients I always ask them to bring favorite books, lovies, blankets, toys, etc.  I can’t promise we can incorporate them but I always try.  I’m pretty careful to not limit what’s “photoworthy” since you just never know.

Case in point: got a four foot giraffe?  No problem.

So, if you have room for it and it’s special to you, bring it.  You just never. know.

this is how you do it. (rocky mount, nc blackberry photographer)

I can almost hear Montell Jordan in the background…

Husband is out of town.  Ironically, doing Guard Duty on Memorial Day.  So there was me + three kids 6 years old and under.   What do you think is the perfect Memorial Day?  The park?  A family picnic? Sprinklers and yard work?  Nah; we spent last week doing all that stuff.  We chose THE MALL.

And we had a blast.

The girls love the bookstore.  Evyn has learned to read, and Ashlyn loves the train table, and Cam…well, Cam is still crawling and doesn’t get a vote yet.  Our local bookstore got rid of the children’s reading section (shrug).  So we headed to Raleigh.

Wanna know how we managed four and a half  HOURS at the mall without even a trip to the food court (I even got to visit two stores just for me)?

(cue Montell) This is how you do it:

1.  Bookstore.  Have your new reader show off her skills while keeping middle child entertained.  This gives you enough time to feed the baby a snack.  Where do you get a snack?  The coffee shop.  Milk and bananas. $2.47/child.

2.  The elevator is a game!  Let them push the buttons.

3.  Train table.  If you don’t know about the train table you probably don’t have kids.

4.  Make sure the baby is comfortable so he can kick back and relax.

5.  Let the kids shake their sillies out at the kid’s Romp and Kick and Scream section.  Most malls have one.  Do your best to wedge this activity between the obligatory trip to the Gap (where you will make a $15 return in exchange for a $68 purchase) and the bookstore.  This activity is the bait to keep them behaved at Gap and is also the wear-them-out-so-they’ll-be-quiet-at-the-bookstore trick.

6.  While waiting in line for the handicap dressing room (the only dressing room you can squeeze three kids into), let them play with the mirrors.  Let them dance, twirl, and make silly faces.  Don’t worry; almost everyone else in line is finding this entertaining.

7.  Get in the picture.  You know how I feel about this.  If I could have found a photobooth, I would have done that, too.  But crossing your fingers and hoping your phone will catch something will do.

8.  Box the baby into a corner of the Romp and Kick and Scream section, lest he get romped and kicked by the seven year olds.

9.  This is probably the single-most important factor to surviving – and even enjoying – the mall with three little kids: the stroller that actually holds three kids.  Worth its weight in gold.  The oldest did a lot of walking, but she got short rests on the “stand” part of the Sit-n-Stand.  Middle child found the backwards seat amusing.

10.  Double-fist the Starbucks.

Notes: 1) we left immediately after lunch and I packed a snack for the road, 2) we did get to make a stop at Children’s Place where Evyn picked coordinating skirts for herself and Ashlyn (on sale, of course), 3) I did make my own stops for clothes speedy and asked the girls for their opinions, 4) we did the Drive Thru at Burger King on the way home.  The key was to keep it all entertaining.

We really did have a great day and I’m so glad I took pictures to remember it.  Yes, they are crappy phone pictures.  But sometimes what makes the image beautiful is that you took it at all.

the mommy files: Bev. (Rocky Mount, NC photographer)

Meet Bev.  It would be easy to look at her and think her life must be perfect.  But it’s been a tough year.  And I’m glad she’s on the sunny-er side of it.

ME: What has been the most challenging thing about being a mother – besides doing it with a pacemaker?

Bev: Let’s see.  Well,  you know, motherhood isn’t something that you get to fail at.  It’s a constant thought – I don’t want to fail them in any way.  I want them to thrive in every situation.  I want to protect them and have life with ease.

But they’re going to have to go through things.

I know. You can’t build character without going through things. But, you know what I mean – you have hobbies and jobs in your life that you can survive failing at sometimes.  But the thought of failing your own child – that just kills you.  So you have to always be on your toes and one step ahead of them. (pause)  Especially when the second child is not anything like the first.

I know; there’s not one learning curve.

Just when you think you’ve learned something you have to learn something else.

What’s been the most rewarding thing?

The whole “you never thought you could love somebody so much” and “unconditional love” thing.  The BEST thing is seeing little people learn things…I never get tired of watching them.  Maybe that goes back to being a teacher.  I just love seeing them learn new things.  Just seeing them develop – everything they learn just tickles you.

I have a fondness for sister-relationships.  Do you wonder about your daughters as sisters – their future?

I constantly instill in them to watch out for each other and use encouraging words for each other.  Maybe some of my tactics are actually brainwashing, I don’t know.  Of course I want them to have a closeness and know that I won’t have to worry about them because they’ll have each other.

Let’s list some of your favorite coping mechanisms for life in general.

Sarcasm.  Truly, sarcasm has taken me a long way – especially with the whole pacemaker thing. Maybe that’s sick.  But if you can’t laugh a little…after a while, being serious all the time is just depressing.

Girl dates…when we can make time.  Sometimes the effort of getting together with friends is more than just staying home.  It’s the season we’re in.

I pray.  And I go to the people I know will pray with me.

And –  maybe this is to a fault, and maybe I say too much – I know I say too much – but it helps me that everything is just  out there.  I vent.  And share.  I talk about it…what I’m going through.  Maybe that’s why I’m known as The Girl That Everything Happens To.  Because that’s all everyone ever hears about.

And another thing…when I first got my pacemaker, I had all these friends who felt bad for me.  But nobody could actually understand what I was going through, so I got on the Internet.  And I found this support group of women with pacemakers and it has been so cathartic and helpful.  That’s my advice to anyone going through something hard: find someone else who has a similar life experience just so you know you’re not alone in  your plight.  You have to look for them.  They’re not going to come to you; you have to seek them out.  And then its worth the effort.

Good for you for taking the time to get past the pity party part.  Because there’s always that stage.

Well, it took me a long time.

Totally off-subject: Maybe this is just an urban legend, but I thought I heard you laid your own hardwood flooring. Is this true?

Haha – who told you that? Ok, I do do a lot  of things for and around the house.  I did not do the hardwood floors.  But if I could have I would have.  I am the handyman.  Recently someone told me they were talking to Sophia and the conversation turned to something about a broken lawnmower.  They told her it’s okay, her daddy could fix it.  To which she replied,  “My daddy’s not a fixer; he’s a doctor.  My mommy’s going to fix it.”  I love that she acknowledges that I work at home.

You keep it real as a friend, mom, and I’m guessing as a wife.  What advice do you have for moms out there who are trying to do it all and appear polished?

Advice?  I don’t know.  In the South, you’re taught southern hospitality, manners, etc.  And so you’re expected to act a certain way, lest somebody’s mama say, “I know she was raised better.”  What I have learned is I want it all and I have these idealistic visions of how something’s supposed to go – say, Christmas, or a party.   And in the end I can’t be everything to everyone and my plans come crashing down around me.

If your bar perfection, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Right.  And you don’t necessarily have to lower your expectations of yourself generally– but you do have to balance and decide.  You can’t do fourteen crafts and throw five parties.  Don’t lower the bar, but  worry about the things that HAVE to be done and prioritize.  Each day my challenge is, how can I be the most efficient so that my kids aren’t being put off?

So some things HAVE to be done, but in the name of “not everything has to be done,” what are some things you put off?

Well, when I’m not trying to sell a house – the dishes and the floors.

But you are trying to sell a house, so what are you putting off these days?

Exercise. [haha] Generally, things I want to do for myself – massage, scrapbooking, talking to a friend.  Some would say that’s bad, that you need to take time for yourself.  But I think there are seasons for everything and I’m not going to let it be this way forever.

Wait, so are you saying that I’m barging in on your children’s time right now?

No, because I’m folding laundry while I’m talking to you.  And the kids are asleep.

And, by the way, I appreciate you think I’m real because that’s all I want is for people to see me as I am.  I’d never want to have to explain myself or for people to see me differently than I see myself.  I want to be honest in every way.  I mean, I do think we’re always changing.  To a point.  I don’t think you can ever say: “This is who I am. The End.”  Because every circumstance is going to skew your trajectory a little bit.  But I hope my core and my values stay the same.

Let’s talk about you moving to Nashville and how jealous I am that you’re moving to my all-time favorite town [I lived there for a time and miss it so!].

I never grew up thinking that I longed to live in Nashville.  But He has a purpose for you being where you are and I’m excited.  Of course, I have these moments where I’m really sad.  Like the last day of BSF.  I looked around and thought about the people I’d grown to love and I almost bawled.  I know it’s going to be difficult to see people even when I come back to visit.  Thank God for Facebook.

Love Facebook.

Sidetrack – I love Nashville’s airport.  Have you been to their airport yet?

Yes!  I love that when you land they’re playing live music.

Get used to it.  You can go to a karaoke bar and hear great music.  And you’ll always be two degrees away from someone cool like Vince Gill or Rascal Flatts or Faith Hill.  But, of course, it’s not cool to be all star-struck by it.

Right. When I run into them I’m not going to think a thing about it.  Instead I’ll ask them if they can recommend a good mechanic.

You’re one of my “picture moms.”  You’re the daughter  of a photographer, and generally just  snap-happy mom.  All I have to do is say “pictures” and you’re there in lightning speed.

It really doesn’t have anything to do with being a photographer’s daughter.  It’s because I’m very sentimental. I’m not a packrat except for things that are sentimental.  I still have letters I wrote in high school and programs from some play I was in.  I want to always remember.  I think I would love to get into photography.  I don’t want to run a business but I do want to learn how.  It’s just not the right time.  I’d like to go to medical school, too.  But there’s no time for that either.


Yeah, I really did want to be a doctor.  But I didn’t have the confidence at the time.  And now – it’s just not the right time.  I have babies and that’s all I need right now.



Bonnie Wright - Crystal and Beverly–both of you are wonderful mommies. Great article and great photos. :-)

Judy Preston - What a wonderful article of my WIRED sister….we knew she was amazing and this article proves it.

Love Judy
Your Canadian Wired sister (wired for 48 years)

mommy interview (rocky mount, nc photographer)

Meet my friend and client MB –  I interviewed her for this post, but really, I’m actually usually this inquisitive.  She didn’t flinch, so clearly she’s used to me by now.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – – –

Me:  What is the best thing about having children?

MB: How happy they are.  Today Hayden hugged me ten times just because she was so happy.  And Ethan has even started crawling up my leg.

ME:  What is the hardest thing about having children?

MB:  Whining.  Whining, whining, whining.  And being the disciplinarian.  Because you just want to enJOY them.  (pause).  Oh, and there are no instructions.

Me: What worried you the most about having twins?

MB: That there was only one of me and two of them.  And the sudden realization that everything was too small.  The car was too small.  The house was too small…

Me:  What has been easier than you thought it would be?

MB: Logistics – managing them.  Feeding, bathing, taking them out…it’s easier than I imagined.

Me:  Really?  What’s your Mommy Trick to taking twins and a three year old to the store?

MB: Give in.  Totally give in – with lots of toys, pacifiers, and juice.  Pretty much everything you’re not supposed to do.

Me: How are things different now for you than for your mom?

MB: I’m able to work less.  My mom was a single mom and took every opportunity to work.  I’m able to take time to make cookies with my kids.

Me: How do you find yourself like your mom?

MB: I hear myself say the same things.  And they’re kind of funny.  The average person might tell their kids, “Don’t talk to strangers.”  My mom would say, “Don’t talk to strangers.  Because they’ll take you away.  And then you’ll never see me or your family or your friends again.”  I say the same thing to my oldest and my mom and I laugh about it.

[we laughed about this for quite a while. the lengths we’ll go to to scare our kids into obeying us. ;)]

Me: What is your prayer for your children?

MB: Gosh, there are so many.  That they be truly happy in life.  That sounds so cliche.  But I never want them to be hungry or heartbroken or want for anything.  But I think that’s every mom.

Me: I’ve been to your house several times and it’s obvious by the photos everywhere how much you value them.

MB:  Yeah, because those remind me of who the are at that moment in time.  If they’re done well, pictures help me remember the way they smelled, the way they sounded, just…how they were at that time.  I lost my phone with pictures and video of the twins and I regret it.  That’s my piece of advice regarding pictures: develop them, buy them,  back them up.  And don’t think about the price if you love them.  Well, within reason.  I am a mother of three, after all.

Thanks for entertaining my questions, Mei.  And happy Mothers Day to you every day…

shalonda - love the interview, love the images, love the adorable kidlets

Melinda Brown - Love the interview, sounds just like her….she is a wonderful person and an awesome mom!!