Michael and Laura

A Very Kenya Christmas Video

I know we have said it a million times, but we are SO insanely grateful for all our generous friends and followers.  We raised enough money to provide all 100 abandoned children at Happy Life a Christmas present this year.  AND had people go above and beyond to get some extra goodies for the house moms and teachers.  These kids were so excited, and it has been so much fun watching them play with all their new toys over the past week.

We put together some of our highlights from this Christmas.  And because it was such an awesome day, it is about 10 minutes long.. real sorry.  It’s so hard to cut video of these beautiful faces!  Enjoy.

Gearing up for a very Kenyan Christmas

I seriously can not believe we have just a week ’til Christmas!!!  To be honest, being in Kenya has lacked a lot of Christmas spirit.  There aren’t any decorations at the Children’s home.. No picking out a tree, hanging countless strings of lights, or driving to see all the decorations.  It’s not cold here.. So there is no bundling up and drinking hot chocolate, ice skating, or making snowmen.  We don’t have an oven, so there has been none of the normal Christmas treats, or decorating cookies.  We don’t have a radio, so there is no 24 hours of Christmas music, and without Netflix, no endless stream of holiday movies.  Yeah.. In a lot of ways it hasn’t felt much like Christmas here, which is a bummer because it is my favorite time of year!  But there has been one thing that has held us from being too upset we won’t be spending Christmas with our families under sparkly lights.  In fact, we are SO excited.  Maybe more excited than I have been since I was a little kid.  It’s because of the gifts.  No, Michael and I haven’t bought awesome gifts for each other, in fact, we aren’t exchanging gifts at all.   It’s the gifts for the kids.  A few weeks ago we thought how awesome it would be if these children could have a true, big Christmas celebration.  How much fun it would be to see them all be able to open a gift and see their faces light up.  To give them something that may let them know how very loved they are.  The problem is, Happy Life Nairobi has 45 children living here.  And another 52 at their location in Juja.  There was no way Michael and I would be able to get gifts for 97 children.  So we thought maybe we would narrow it down to just the children we spend every day with here at the Nairobi location.

But still 45 gifts would be way more than we would be able to pull together.  So we decided to reach out and ask for help getting a small gift for each child.  And we have been blown away.  The amount of generous donations we have receive has brought me to tears.  We have had so many sweet people share our registry, donate, or write us really encouraging notes.  So many generous hearts that our registry for the 45 children here was completely filled.  And then even more people who contacted us saying they wish they had been able to contribute.  So we added to it.  There are a couple things here that the house moms could use to help provide for all these children.  And then those things were filled.  So we added again.  We thought of a few things that could make their play areas so much more fun.  And then those things were filled.  And we were shocked. And overwhelmed. And overjoyed.  So we thought of the 52 beautiful faces at Juja and how exciting it would be for them to have a little something too.  That having a few recess and after school play things would be so exciting for them, or even a few things to have a school to make the day a little more fun.  So we added so that these faces may have a beautiful Christmas too.

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Even though we are missing out on some of the things that make this season so much fun, we couldn’t be more excited for Christmas to get here.   An old friend of ours, and one of our biggest contributors (who decided instead of giving gifts this season, she’d donate to kids here in people’s names) posted this video she helped create this Christmas season.  And we are really feeling it.  Watch, enjoy, and get excited for this time of giving.  And if you feel inspired, consider giving $5, $10, $20, or whatever feel like to those beautiful faces above.

In Kenya

Michael and I are ecstatic to announce our big news.  Well, if you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or know us at all, this won’t be much of news.  Regardless, we are excited and feel like we can’t pass up an opportunity to blog about it!.. Michael and I have moved to Kenya!  We are now in our third week Volunteering at Happy Life Children’s Home in Nairobi, Kenya.  We have had to make a lot of huge decisions to get here, for our business, for our life, for our finances, but we feel like this is where we are supposed to be, and we are HERE!  It has been so tough turning down weddings and portrait sessions as our little business is really starting to grow, but we know this is the time to do something a little crazy with our lives and follow a calling we have both had for a long time.  AND we are so excited that we have already started to accept bookings for the fall of 2015! We have quite a few little projects that we are working on while we are here, and I am SO excited to be able to share them with you all.   In the meantime, we have a few really fun sessions to post from before we left, some adorable baby faces to share, and updates from our little Kenyan adventure. We are so honored that you all continue to follow us..   Week1&2-04 Week1&2-05 Week1&2-08Week3&4-13

Our Honeymoon – Part III

This is the last one, I promise. If you didn’t catch part I or part II of our amazing month long honeymoon, go check it out!
To finish our month abroad, my sister, Lindsay, who was backpacking Europe at the time met up with us for our quick visit to Barcelona.
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The amazing Sagrada Familia is enough of a reason to visit this awesome city. 2014-08-27_0066.jpg
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And Guell Park.. 2014-08-27_0072.jpg
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…and of course La Rambla for some sangria and tapas
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We ended our wonderful night at the magic fountain.. so much fun!
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We absolutely LOVED planning our honeymoon.. everything turned out remarkably well.. 3 rental cars (returned without a scratch), 2 ferries (get to those EARLY.. we missed one of ours and had to catch a later trip.. it was no trouble though), 1 overnight train, numerous taxi rides, hotels, airbnbs.. it took a lot of planning, but it was well worth it! Enjoy planning your honeymoon! Let me know if you have any questions!

Our Honeymoon – Part II

If you missed part I

After going to Ireland we took a ferry to England to visit Michael’s family.  We rented another car and drove south to stay a couple of days.

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After spending some quality time with Michael’s family, we drove to another ferry from England to France.  We picked up a car and took a short drive to Brugge, which is an AMAZING little city.

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We got there in time for dinner, went to the city center after stopping quickly in our adorable hotel ^, and sat at the first restaurant we saw.  We asked our waiter what we should eat while we are in Belgium.. he said, ” Four things.. Mussels, Beer, Waffles, and Chocolate”, so we got all four. 2014-08-11_0071
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2014-08-11_0072 2014-08-11_0074After Belgium, we drove to Paris.

2014-08-27_0003.jpg 2014-08-27_0004.jpg2014-08-11_0075The Louvre was INSANELY packed.. I guess a Saturday afternoon in the summer is an ideal time to visit.  I think this was the most empty room in the place.

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The Arc De Triomphe was our favorite.
2014-08-27_0009.jpg 2014-08-27_0010.jpg 2014-08-27_0011.jpg 2014-08-27_0012.jpgThe Lock Bridge

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This is what happens when you ask someone to take a picture of you with a DLSR… we have lots of blurry pictures.. but I love ’em anyways..
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Our lock.. the key is at the bottom of the river.
2014-08-27_0015.jpg 2014-08-27_0016.jpgTold ya we had lots of picnics..
2014-08-27_0017.jpgI thought this was really high.. uhh no.. This is the first level.. The third is wayyy higher.. and scary during a storm.
2014-08-27_0018.jpg2014-08-27_0019.jpgscary and windy..
2014-08-27_0020.jpgEclairs and Crepes.. yum.
2014-08-27_0021.jpgAfter Paris, we took a train to the Barcelona and got on the cruise!

Now cruises are SERIOUSLY the way to go people.  Everything is planned for you, daily activities, shows in the evening, meals, you can even buy excursions planned by the ship to do in ports.  It’s pretty much the perfect holiday for indecisive people like us.
2014-08-27_0022.jpgFirst stop.. bike ride in Cannes
2014-08-27_0023.jpg 2014-08-27_0024.jpg 2014-08-27_0025.jpgI wish I had some pictures of the set ups we use to take selfies.. they were dangerous.. I can’t believe our camera survived it.  This one is on a rock IN the water..
2014-08-27_0026.jpg 2014-08-27_0027.jpgSecond stop, Livorno.  We took an excursion with the ship to Pisa.
2014-08-27_0028.jpg 2014-08-27_0029.jpg 2014-08-27_0030.jpgThird stop, Civitavecchia.. we took another excursion to Rome.  If you ever visit Rome, use a tour guide!  It saved us so much time, and we wouldn’t have known how to get anywhere/what anything was without a guide.
2014-08-27_0031.jpg 2014-08-27_0032.jpg 2014-08-27_0033.jpgThen we went to the Vatican.. Ladies, make sure you bring something to cover yourself up when your there or they won’t let you in.
2014-08-27_0034.jpg 2014-08-27_0035.jpg 2014-08-27_0036.jpgThis church is seriously AMAZING..St. Peter’s Basilica.2014-08-27_0037.jpg 2014-08-27_0038.jpg 2014-08-27_0039.jpgWe became slightly obsessed with gelato..
2014-08-27_0040.jpgOK, so on our cruise, we decided to choose to sit at a table with other people, and we are so happy we did!  They sat us at a big table with three other honeymoon couples, who were SO much fun.  We had a blast eating with them everyday and even traveling with them in ports.
2014-08-27_0041.jpgForth stop, Athens.. Parthenon is easy train ride from the port.
2014-08-27_0042.jpg 2014-08-27_0043.jpg 2014-08-27_0044.jpg 2014-08-27_0045.jpg 2014-08-27_0046.jpgFifth stop..Santorini to hike a volcano2014-08-27_0047.jpg 2014-08-27_0048.jpg 2014-08-27_0049.jpgThese donkeys were IMPRESSIVE.. I couldn’t even walk down this steep hill without slipping ever three feet..

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2014-08-27_0054.jpg 2014-08-27_0052.jpg 2014-08-27_0055.jpgSixth stop.. Positano.. absolute favorite.  We took a water taxi along the Amalfi Coast to get there, most beautiful day ever..
2014-08-27_0056.jpgwith the best meal ever..
2014-08-27_0057.jpgThe lemons that grow there humongous.. and delicious
2014-08-27_0058.jpgMore gelato..
2014-08-27_0059.jpgOur amazing waiters/magicians for the week.
2014-08-27_0062.jpgThe honeymooners.. miss you all.. anniversary cruise has gotta be soon, right?
2014-08-27_0063.jpgMy parents went on a cruise for their honeymoon too.  I have always loved this picture of my parents from their honeymoon, so we decided to recreate it on ours.
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There is still a part III.. coming soon.  Long honeymoons are the way to go!

Our Honeymoon – Part I

I can’t believe that we haven’t posted our honeymoon pictures!!! I feel like a year after our travels is a little too delayed, but so many people have been asking us about it recently and asking for suggestions in planning their own honeymoon, so here we go.

Michael and I threw out a lot of different options about where we might want to go on our honeymoon. My parents went on a cruise for their honeymoon, Michael had never been on a cruise, and I love cruises, so we thought that might be a good option. But we also wanted to try and tack on a visit to Michael’s family (he is from England) who weren’t able to come to the wedding. And I had always wanted to go to Ireland. So we were bouncing between all these different options, and then they somehow molded together into one big trip. We figured flying is the big cost of a trip to Europe, I was off for the summer, and Michael was able to take the days off work, so we might as well go BIG. And we sure went big.. our little cruise turned into a month long honeymoon. Lots of people told us that if we could make it through a month of traveling together, marriage would be a piece of cake.. in fact so many people alluded to the fact that we were getting ourselves into something crazy, that I started to get nervous that maybe we were going for a little too long.. but it was AMAZING. So suggestion #1, if you can make it work.. go for as long as you can.. it’s your change to go big.

So we started off in Ireland, flew into Shannon and rented a car.  Michael driving on the tiny Irish roads in a rental.. on the left side of the street was terrifying.. every time we went around a round about I shouted “Left! Left! LEFT!”.  But we made it alive, no accidents even.

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We got off the plane and immediately tried to make our ferry to Inis Mor.. we hit traffic and were super late.. I thought we had missed it, but I think our “bride” and “groom” shirts from Caitlin saved us.  I can’t believe they let us on.. we were SO LATE.. but we made it.  The second Michael got on the ferry we pulled away.. so worth the trip though. The little fishermen’s town is adorable.  We biked around and it was the perfect day.  I wish we had more time, but we had to make it to our B&B, so we caught the ferry back.
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After our original flight being cancelled, we had to fit two days of travel into one.. we skipped staying the night in galway and drove straight to the Dingle Peninsula (all the way south). But we couldn’t pass the Cliffs of Moher without stopping!!!
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We finally made it to Dingle (at like 2am) and our AMAZING host at PAX house was up waiting for us.  Seriously, if you go to Ireland, do not miss this amazing B&B!!!  We drove through the dark, so we were pretty happy when we woke up to this amazing view from our bedroom.
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Seriously, stay here.
2014-08-11_0011.jpgOur amazing host gave us a binder (literally) full of stops to make while we were in Dingle.. like Conor Pass
2014-08-11_0012.jpg 2014-08-11_0014.jpg 2014-08-11_0015.jpgI think the ice cream truck was Michael’s favorite part..
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When we told our PAX house host that we were on our honeymoon, he told us we had to go get remarried in Dingle.. thankfully he explained himself ’cause I was super confused.  Apparently this is how people got married hundreds of years ago.  They would stand by this cross (that has sunk into the ground) and meet their thumbs together. It was said that if two people in love did this, they were married in the eyes of God. (Kilmalkedar Church)

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Then off to Killarney

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We had lots of little picnics.. with amazing views..

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Kissing the blarney stone.. which which involves laying on your back leaning over a large gap while someone holds you to kiss a rock.. but ya just gotta do it..

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Our castle home for the night. It was amazing.

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2014-08-11_0039.jpgThe first of many Airbnb stays..
2014-08-11_0040.jpg2014-08-11_0041.jpg2014-08-11_0042.jpgthe gorgeous walk to the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge
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Our FAVORITE!!!  Giant’s Causeway

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2014-08-11_0054.jpgFinn’s shoe!
2014-08-11_0055.jpgAndddd to Dublin..
2014-08-11_0056.jpgThe beautiful long room library at Trinity College.  Home of the Book of Kells
2014-08-11_0057.jpg2014-08-11_0058.jpg2014-08-11_0059.jpgAnd you MUST go to the guinness storehouse
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It’s so special they keep the barley in a safe..

2014-08-11_0064.jpg2014-08-11_0065.jpgWe stayed in another airbnb right next to the amazing Temple Bar
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And that was Ireland.. let me know if you have any questions about traveling Ireland.  We LOVED it and will answer any questions you have!

“I love”.. summer

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We have an awesome tradition at our school; on the last day, the students all pack onto the bus and all the teachers stand and wave them off as they go around the bus loop a couple of times.  I love seeing all my students, past and present, hanging themselves out the window waving goodbye.  It’s always a bittersweet feeling, but I am so excited for this summer!  We have so many AWESOME things planned.  Hopefully we get to them all!  You can keep up with us on Instagram (and most likely a few blog posts) with the hashtag #MLbucketlist.

What is on your summer bucket list?  Help us add to ours!

  • go to Newport News Park (we’ve NEVER been!!!)
  • walk the Noland Trail
  • go to many more concerts
  • go to busch gardens
  • have a picnic in the park
  • visit williamsburg
  • go camping
  • go to a farmers’ market
  • try some pinterest how-tos
  • clean out the closets
  • pick fruit
  • spend a day on the lake
  • go to the eastern shore
  • go wine tasting
  • plan an awesome baby shower
  • go to the watermelon festival
  • go to D.C.
  • go to the VA beach music festival in july
  • attend and shoot some AMAZING weddings
  • road trip along the pacific coast highway
  • help friends with wedding planning

 And just incase you missed this ‘lil gem..

Album Sale

We are VERY excited to announce our first ever album sale!  All albums are 25% off, past and present couples are able to take advantage of this awesome deal.  Not only are they all 25% off, but we are adding 10 pages (5 spreads) to every order at no cost.  Very excited!  Pictures are meant to be printed.  We look at our wedding album constantly and I love it!

Last, and possibly most exciting, parent albums (duplicate 8×8 albums) are an additional 20% off!  They make such a perfect gift for parents – our parents LOVED theirs! My mom kept hers with her and showed our pictures off to everyone for weeks!

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***These are not our images, they were taken from our professional printer so you are able to get an idea of what these beautiful albums look like!

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Gram’s Birthday Celebration

 

A couple weeks ago Michael and I traveled to one of our favorite places, OBX, to meet his family for a little celebration.  Michael’s sweet, sweet grandma turn 80 this year (and when you see her, you will never believe she is 80! I hope I look that good, and have that much energy at 80!).  We stayed at a beautiful house in Corolla, NC.  It was a blast to be able to spend some time with Michael’s amazing family!  And we had some beautiful weather, so we are leaving for our honeymoon (TOMORROW!!!!) with a great tan.  Thanks Lori and Lisa for planning such a wonderful vacation for us!  Can’t wait to see you all again soon.

Enjoy some of our favorites from our long weekend.
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​We drove on the beach (my first time doing it!) and found the wild horses.  It was so awesome to see them roaming – and it was a beautiful morning (topped off with some Duck Donuts).
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Gram's 80 birthday celebration-1727 Lisa and Lori came up with an awesome birthday gift.  Each child and grandchild got a charm to add to Gram’s new bracelet that represented them.

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Guess which one we got her 😉

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Thanks again for an awesome trip! ​