3 years old.

dhara_blog1

dhara2

dhara3

dhara4

My baby girl is 3 years old.  How do I have a 3 year old?  I guess time flies when you’re having fun.  I remember when we brought our cupcake home from the hospital just like it was yesterday.  We were so enthralled by our firstborn, and three years later, we still are. She’s quirky, so fun to be around, has the funniest cartoon voice when she talks to her brothers, she’s smart, wise, and is a little chatterbox right until she closes those pretty eyes at night.  Dhara loves fun and anything that has to do with it.  She’s got tons of energy and can play all day and all night if you let her.  Bedtime is not her favorite time of the day because that means she has to waste the time she could be using for play — kinda like Olivia. She’s got quite the imagination, and loves playing with anyone who will dare to imagine with her.

Dhara loves her brothers.  She talks to them like they’re much younger than her. She calls them “buddy.”  She still tries to pick them up and roughhouse with them — something we’re repeatedly having to tell her not to do.  She loves going under the covers with them, and they love it too.  Rohan won’t put up with much of Dhara’s antics, but Kieran will give her a fight.

Now that Dhara is three, Greg and I are interested in starting school with her.  Of course we’ve been teach her things along the way, but I’d like to introduce something a little more than the live and learn approach we’ve been doing.  More on the topic of homeschooling later.

As of November of last year, Dhara has learned to use the potty.  Up until then, it was a disaster trying to teach her — she’s smart in so many things, but using the potty like a big girl was something she just didn’t want to do.  Thank God she knows now, and she goes all by herself — what a relief!  I always tell people that I wish kids had an automatic download of information at age 2 that enables them to know exactly how to use the potty. As you can see, I didn’t like the whole process of potty training.  I guess the only advice I can give is: put them in underwear (pull-ups are pretty much diapers), and take them to the bathroom every 30 – 45 minutes.  It takes time for them to “get it”, but consistent repetition is the best way for them to learn.  Otherwise you’ll do what I did for the longest time and be cleaning up a ton of messes because I didn’t stick to the 30 – 45 minute window.

[Thanks Ohio Becky for the adorable salvar Dhara is wearing in her 3 year shoot!]

dhara5_blog

dhara6

dhara7_blog

dhara8_blog

funny face

dhara9

dhara10

For Dhara’s 3rd birthday party, it was part of a combined Christmas party/Dhara party/and Josh’s graduation party.  We had a lovely gathering of family folk.  We cooked and baked up a storm — as it’s been in years past, Dhara’s strawberry birthday cake was homemade by Zumie.  It was so delish!  Dhara was super shy when everyone sang happy birthday to her, she couldn’t quite get her speech out in the end (like last year).

bday

bday5

bday2

bday3

bday4

bday8

bday7

This last photo wonderfully portrays my daughter.  She can be so naughty at times, but she’s hilarious and so full of spunk.  The above photo was taken as soon as she got caught sneaking a cupcake and eating it quietly in the corner before her party began.

my brother.

josh

My little brother isn’t so little anymore.  I remember the times when we were younger.  I was 8 when he was born.  Times like, having to wipe his little 3 year old tush after hearing him repeatedly yelling from the bathroom, “somebody wipe me!”, or him riding my brand new REI bike without my permission and having it stolen and not telling me for 3 weeks, even him coming to my horseback riding lessons and laughing uncontrollably when I almost fell off my horse during a gallop, or when I would hear a knock on my attic bedroom door in the middle of the night because Josh, around 7 or 8 years old at the time, was afraid of the dark — hey, what are big sister’s for??

josh2

josh3

josh4

josh + greg!

Babies always love Josh — as long as I can remember, that is a known fact in my circle. My own babies are no exception.  They love him so much it’s quite interesting actually. You see it on their faces as soon as they lay eyes on him.  It’s like their thinking, “oh that’s my dear Uncle Josh.  I love that guy.”  Josh is a baby lover.  He would come home from college after midnight — you’d hear him walk in, throw his backpack down, and race to Greg/my bedroom — a quiet tap on our door would come next.  “Are the babies awake?” he’d always ask in a whisper.  And the answer would almost always be the same, “No, Josh, they’re sleeping.”  He never gave up though, so on occasion if a baby stirred at that moment, I would let Josh hold them.

josh5

josh + my mom admiring the boys

josh6

uncle josh singing to his niece + nephews

josh7

loves his nephews to death

So my little brother isn’t so little anymore.  In the last few years I’ve seen him grow into a man.  He’s persevered through trials, put his faith into action, and has seen mighty miracles.  He’ll surely have many beautiful tales to tell his nieces/ nephews, kids, etc when they get older.  As of recently Josh casually walked into a career fair and landed a corporate job with his dashing good looks and pleasant ways and the unmerited grace of God.  Before he starts his job this coming June, he’s doing a 6 month Internship at the International House of Prayer (IHOP).  Even though he’s lived out of the house for 4 years now, and has been gone for summer internships, it’s the first time my family felt the heavy feeling that he’s really leaving Maryland, and we’re not sure when and if he’ll ever be back as a permanent resident.  Of course he’ll visit, but that’s never the same.

Life is interesting that way — you grow up with people, dear people, and because life’s paths are so different for everyone, you are left with the memories of days gone by.  We miss him alot, but we are so very proud of who he’s become.  A good brother, a humble son, an amazing uncle (their one and only uncle!), the loyalist of friends, annointed worship leader, a broken sinner, and best of all, a child of the Living God.  [My apologies for the sentimental post.  I had to get this all out.]

IMG_20121221_114605

graduation day

IMG_20121221_115150

greg, josh, and my paw paw

IMG_20121221_162316

rohan + josh

IMG_20121221_164928

kieran + josh

josh10

greg praying over josh at Chi Alpha UMBC, josh’s last meeting

josh9

brothers for life

josh8

church eldership praying over josh on his last sunday at ICF

Josh, may “the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Number 6:24-26.  You’ll always be my little brother even if you’re not so little anymore.  Love you!

smith christmas card 2012.

Here I am still catching up on posts, please bear with me.  Once Greg and I started a family, I knew I wanted to start doing family portraits for our Christmas card every year. And the last 3 years, I’ve managed to accomplish it no matter how crazy hard it can be photographing wee ones on a chilly fall day.  But it’s always been worth it in the end.  I love seeing us all happy, in love, and growing as a family — it’s something I love sharing with family and friends.  I’m hoping to get into the habit of turning each one into a Christmas ornament – a fun way to cherish these moments for years to come.

2012′s family portrait came from the 6 months old film we did for the boys.  This is one of my most favorite family photos yet with our two new babies being priceless additions to the Smith Family.  I couldn’t decide on if I liked the color version or black + white version better for our Christmas card, but ended up going with color since there were fun splashes of red and green.

colorfamily_vintage

bwfamily2

christmascard_2012_Page_1

christmascard_2012_Page_2

And just for kicks, here’s a runner up to the above picture.  I love the expressions on all three children — jovial Rohan, pure joy; darling Dhara, my dear girl always ready to laugh; and swashbuckling Kieran, with the face of those early century children you find in old black + white photos at antique stores, plus he looks like he’s totally up to something mischievous.  : )

family_edited-3

[christmas cards from 2011, 2010]

5 years!

As November rolled around, a part of me swore we were only married 4 years.  But then I would repeatedly count the years on my fingers and come up with the number five.  No way.  Although my mind can’t wrap itself around the idea, based on repeated counts, we have surely been married 5 years.  Wow.  Four didn’t seem so old, but five is definitely old.  : )

Five years, three kids later, I look at the man I married and I am so happy I waited, persevered, and saw the miracle that is Greg and I.  It’s what brings a smile to my heart when I see our children, or when we have to face something difficult, or better yet, when I gaze over a crowded room and see his face.  I’m glad it’s him.

I’m thankful to Jesus for His goodness in our lives these past five years.  “Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”  Psalm 16:5-8

For our five year anniversary we stayed a night in Lancaster, PA.  We started off the evening at a lovely restaurant, stayed the night downtown in a quaint room overlooking the city (thanks to Greg’s parents!), and spent the following day antiquing in the antique’s capital of the United States and hitting Central Market for a Mennonite cookbook!  (Greg knows me all too well.)  We walked away with some lovely loot to refinish and restore. Here’s to good times ahead with my love.

greg3

greg4

IMG_20121117_121041

IMG_20130125_031511

IMG_20130125_032703

IMG_20130125_032936

IMG_20130125_031137

IMG_20130125_033211

IMG_20130125_032822

IMG_20130125_033400

smith twins: 8 months old.

8months15As the months pass it’s so amazing to learn how different our little guys are from each other.  They are completely different in every way.  And it’s their differences that we love about each one.  It’s becoming more and more fun to have twins. Yes, there are still lots of hard days — but just having them here with us outweighs any sort of bad.  As parents of twins, Greg and I feel so blessed that we have so much help at my parents house.  Of course we would get through it if we lived on our own, but having the help and family around really takes the stress off our shoulders.  Everyone here loves taking care of them, so once in a while Greg and I can even sneak out for an evening together.

8months

8months2

8months5

8months3

8months4

8months6

Rohan is becoming a little less smiley and watches more.  Yes he still has that beautiful smile, but it comes out a little less.  I think he’s realizing that he doesn’t know new faces, and prefers the faces he sees everyday.  Rohan loves to be carried.  He’s not very mobile at the moment — only being able to roll — he watches Kieran zip here and there on all fours.  Sometimes he attempts to get up on all fours, only to sway forward and backward — a little timid to move forward. He started shaking his head for “no” — it’s really adorable to see, (but not for long, right??).  He also says “mama” and “dada”, but if I ask him to say “mama” he shakes his head “no.”  It’s become a fun little game between him and I.  Rohan is a solid baby.  Solid cheeks, solid thighs, solid little feet.

8months7

8months10

8months11

8months9

8months8

8months12

Kieran is so funny.  He is a ball of energy, that’s for sure!  He’s rolling, crawls fast like lightening, and pulls himself up to a standing position.  Sometimes he even attempts to crawl up on kid chairs.  He’s a daredevil.  When he falls he gets right back up — unless he bonks his head real hard which happens alot these days.  The boy needs a helmet! He’s very cheery, and is quick to smile.  He loves to give kisses, the only problem is that he has enough slobber for two babies.  It’s funny to listen to him talk because he has so much to say.  Lots of syllables, sounds and slurs.  Compared to all my babies, he’s significantly lighter in weight.  Weird, since it seems like I usually have the rolly polly ones.

8months13

8months14

8months16

8months17

smith twins: 7 months old.

I’m so behind on posts!  So let me begin my catch-up with the twins turning 7 months old. I missed their regular monthly shoot, so I decided to make it up with my beloved Instagram photos.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I love Instagram. I’m currently in the process of making our family photo book for 2012 capturing an almost day by day Instgram photo — so excited about this!

rohan

IMG_20121119_105417

IMG_20121119_102454

IMG_20121115_135139

IMG_20121125_130324

Rohan: sits up with help.  rolls over onto tummy, but then can’t roll back, so let’s out a big wail for help.  can say “umma” (“kiss” in my language) multiple times. smiles all the time.  bottom two teeth crowned.  camera ham.  loves baby food. calm + gentle.

kieran

IMG_20130122_231233

IMG_20121122_174113

IMG_20121120_181459

IMG_20121125_130140

Kieran: crawls.  sits.  says “mama” and “dada.”  bottom two teeth crowned.  so energetic/always moving.  loves real people food.  loves to be where the action is. resilient.

mykella + joshua.

I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the wedding of a special friend.  Mykella and I met in Chi Alpha 8 years ago.  At the time, Greg and I (not married) were Chi Alpha leaders at the University of Maryland after graduation, and Mykella was a student.  As a student, she was super smart, had a gorgeous smile, was shy, sweet, and chock full of creative ideas.  Not to mention, she had an entrepreneurial streak — the girl started a stationary company in college!  And I have the stylish cards to prove it!

Fast forward 8 years, Mykella introduces Greg and I to her fiance, Joshua — a gentleman, jovial, gregarious and just a godly guy who comes from an amazing family.  I was especially touched by Joshua’s Jamaican grandfather who gave a touching and bold speech about the power of family and togetherness.  Greg and I were also touched by Mykella and Joshua’s decision to have a super simple wedding.  They spent all their savings on a beautiful turn of the century home, instead of a grand wedding.  I’m truly proud of them for their wise decision.  I wish I had done the same! ;)

Mykella + Josh, you are an extraordinary couple!  Many blessings as you live this life together for God and His glory!  Your testimony is powerful, and your love is so evident.  Congratulations!  Here are some of my favorites from their special day!  Special thanks to my second photographer/hubby who gives me the confidence I need to grow as a photographer.  I love shooting with him, and I look forward to the many more photo opportunities we get to capture special moments together!

blog2_blogmykella

wed2_blog

wed3_blog

wed4_blog

wed7_blog

wed5_blog

wed9_blog

wed11_blog

wed10_blog

wed1_B_blog

wed8_blog

the martin family, take 2.

I was so happy when high school friend, Lina, messaged me to do another family session and document the baptism of her third bambino, or I should say bambina. That’s right. The first time I photographed the Martin’s, we welcomed Brian + Lina’s second baby boy, Joey.  Now two years later, they are blessed with three! Their newest edition, Baby Rita, is oh so tiny with the most delicate and beautiful features.  Lina’s boys are a hoot, and are as cute as can be!  Boys will be boys! Makes me wonder what my own boys will be like in a couple years.

It was wonderful to catch up with her again.  I have to add that I’m really proud of Lina and all her crunchy ways. : )  The girl is a lactation consultant and doula!  She recently started her own business called F&P Breastfeeding Services.  Lina, you are awesome!  If you were local, I would have SO consulted with you! : )  There was such a feeling of de ja vu as I photographed this beautiful family for the second time and the baptism of their sweet baby girl.  Congrats Brian + Lina!

IMG_1405-Edit_blog

IMG_1282-Edit_blog

IMG_1291-Edit_blog

the boys are holding hands despite their desire NOT to!

IMG_1292-Edit_blog

martin3_blog

martin1_blog

IMG_1199-Edit_blog

martin2_blog

IMG_1239-Edit_blog

IMG_1263-Edit_blog

martin4_blog

IMG_1271-Edit-Edit-Edit_blog

martin13_blog

IMG_1364-Edit

martin9_blog2

IMG_1422-Edit-3_blog

IMG_1427-Edit_blog

IMG_1452-Edit_blog

IMG_1404-Edit_blog

IMG_1442-Edit_blog

IMG_1390-Edit-2_blog

IMG_1457-Edit_blog

smith twins: 6 months old.

I did something a little different for the boys’ 6 month update.  You may remember Dhara’s 10 month film.  I thought it would be lovely to do a little family film in similar fashion.  I’m so excited about this one — Josh filmed it, but he wasn’t sure if he got enough footage.  I wasn’t sure either, but I love a good film challenge!  After sitting down and going through each clip, I found bits and pieces that I loved, and reacquainted myself with Final Cut Pro.

The final product contains all the necessary pieces that really make for a successful Smith Family film: my husband sporting his fall beard and a lumberjack shirt, our comfy cozy leather chair that reminds us of a baseball glove, a beeeeautiful fall afternoon, and a baby, or two.  Enjoy : )

smith twins: 5 months old.

I’m still a whole month behind on these little guys’ monthly photo shoots.  They just turned 6 months old — but these 5 month photos have got to be posted!  My lovies are getting to be big boys!  I can’t believe I have two sons!  Two rolly polly bundles of goodness who are completely different in every way possible.  At times they don’t even feel like twins because they are so different.  Rather, it’s like we’re caring for two babies who could have been born to us consecutively instead of at the same time.  This month it was all about the boys recognizing familiar people, smiling a whole lot, laughing out loud, grabbing things, and lots of baby talk.  Oh, and their hair has finally started to come in, so say goodbye to my baldy boys.

Rohan is definitely the bigger one of the two, but both boys are above average and have the chunky thighs to prove it!  This month they both began rolling.  Rohan was the first to roll due to his heavier weight.  He easily can roll from his back to his tummy, but not the other way around.  When he gets tired of being on his tummy, he sets his forehead down on his arm and cries like there’s no tomorrow — it’s hilarious to see, but of course we quickly scoop him up for a hug and lots of kisses! Rohan is not at all afraid of strangers — he’ll give anyone that huge handsome grin.

Kieran is our mover, shaker and thinker.  While he couldn’t roll as fast as Rohan initially, he can roll from his back to his tummy, and can roll back to his back, and quick too!  He can also scoot from one place to the other.  Kieran is very loving.  I love the way he tenderly holds my face and gives me wet slobbery kisses. Kieran is more apprehensive when it comes to new people — he will stare you down like no other.  But not to worry, he has beautiful, twinkly, almond shaped eyes that make you forget why he’s staring you down.