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It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks..this little one that I love so much will be a year old.  It’s been a a QUICK year.

Not sure how or where time went.

I never thought of myself as a child photographer, that was until Amelia Grace was born.

Once she started getting older and started developing her personality, it’s been so fun to photograph her.

I think I really like photographing children but that’s easy to say when it’s Amelia  because she knows and loves me and my camera.

 When it comes to photographing other children…it all depends on how they react to strangers and how quickly I can warm up to them or them to me,

as well as their temperament. But I love trying…and playing with them.

We took Amelia out to a small farm in Suffolk…where we played in pumpkins, cotton, buckets of corn, cornfields,  pumpkins and a pig named Carl.

The cotton fields they had around were smushed and pounded into the ground by the dozens of preschoolers that visit the farm

So as we left I said a little prayer..Lord, I really would love to photographer Amelia in a pretty cotton field if you could point us in the right direction…

And within seconds He answered the simple prayer of an ernest Mia.  and Wa-La. There was the prettiest cotton field that had not been harvested yet.

Complete with a perfect little area for us to pull off park and photograph her.  It was the best shots of the day…funny how that works.

Amelia Grace…one day when you read these blogs and see the photos I hope you have good memories of our adventures.

I love you.

Love Mia.


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Oh..Mia. You crack me up.  🙂  This is her peek-a-boo face.

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My two babies…I love them so!  Wet sloppy baby kisses are the BEST!

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Tell you how excited I was

when Sharon emailed me to say….” Bri and I would like to invite you to dinner….we have a few upcoming projects we want to include you in”  I of course said yes lets do it…

I sit so much in front of my computer during the week….dinner with new friends sounded amazing!!!

 I had only met Sharon twice…and Bri once when I was asked to photograph their BEAUTIFUL Chic Unique inventory at their cute little shop in Suffolk…and there was an instant feeling of having known them for a long time!  What two wonderful souls they are!!

Dinner was soooo good at the Riverstone Chop House in Suffolk…I HIGHLY recommend them and the fish taco’s  YUMMY!

But getting to know them a little more was even better!!

Bri…I hope you don’t mind that I oooo’d and awwww’d at your day job….She works for NCIS!!!  How cool is that…I felt like I had met a movie star..LOL.  She was kind enough not to burst my bubble…about how the show and the real life NCIS were different hehe…  And then to realize that Sharon has one of the toughest jobs imaginable….in Hospice.  Just make me appreciate these two ladies even more….

But when they pulled out a pretty little green bag with pink paper and a white curly bow…and inside I pulled out this little beauty below…

I had a hard time (even now thinking about it) holding back the tears….

Bri had even researched MY  “M” font from my logo for it….I was speechless for a second…

…then blubbered probably way to much and to loud as the table next to us kept turning around and looking at me LOL..

Sorry who ever you were…but I was excited. 🙂


When I got home I just kept thinking how lovely a gift….THEN…when I opened it today (with Amelia’s help as you can see) to make it a permanent member of my camera family…

… And I started reading the box…and again I teared up!!!

 Not only is it a beautiful strap with MY font….and my branding color.

But the company they chose also has a non-profit side…which just make me smile even bigger…

…because most of my “corporate career” jobs have been in Non Profits…like Make-a-Wish, Operation Smile, and Operation Blessing.

And I have always had a heart for non-profits who help those who can’t help themselves.

So to know that something I will take with me to every wedding has helped someone less fortunate…is like icing on the proverbial wedding cake SWEET!

So I immediately went to Fotostrap site and hit LIKE…on their Facebook Page and so should you!

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Sharon and Bri  have no idea how something like this blesses a heart like mine!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU…

I am very excited about our working together in the very near future on the projects we talked and look forward to wonderful fun!



If you haven’t already….you should go like their FB page and tell all your friends and brides about their VAST selection of cool vintage items!

Chic Unique Vintage Rentals Facebook Page…Here!


It was 12 degrees this morning in Chesapeake, VA.  That is very cold for this area….in my opinion cold without snow is pointless!  I like snow, but I like it only one or two times then I am ready for spring.

On cold days we all like warming ourselves by a good fire or with a bowl of soup….today I have both!  A warm fire and I made 12 can soup.  This recipe started out as 10 can soup, but being normal Mel…I ad-lib and make it my own.  The creative side of me spills over into cooking too!  🙂

Here are the ingredients  that I use to make this warm and yummy soup.  It makes A LOT of soup so for two people it’s more than we can eat so I usually freeze the other half ( in smaller portions) and have it on hand to pop in the microwave on days when I don’t have time to cook and I want soup.

-two cans of Rotel tomatoes (I used Harris Teeter Brands when I can find them)

-two cans of green beans

-one can of corn

-one can of chili beans

-one can of deep red kidney beans

-one can of seasoned black eyed peas

-one can of diced tomatoes (I used seasoned with sweet onion)

-two cans of Progresso Minestrone Soup (or three Campbell’s Minestrone Soup…I have a hard time finding them)

-one and a half pound of browned hamburger

-one can filled with water…I use the Progresso Soup can (this is the 12th can)

Here are the steps:

1.  First grab a can opener…a frying pan and a BIG pot.

2.  Brown your meat (about a pound and a half will do) season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Open all cans and dump into the pot, liquids and all.

4.  Add an onion (optional but not necessary if you don’t like them)

5 . Let it simmer for about an hour (or more)  just to mix all ingredients well…..Like spaghetti, it’s usually better the next day 🙂

This is a YUMMY soup….made from cans of this and that and ground beef…you could use turkey…chicken…I guess.    The minestrone soup, the Rotel tomatoes are the base of this soup, so I am not sure I would change those ingredients…but the other ingredients I guess are changeable to preference….I love all of these so they are in there!  Go wild!  🙂

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PLEASE DON’T JUDGE ME BY MY DIRTY STOVE TOP!   I will NEVER EVER own another white stove top…they are soooo hard to keep clean.

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I add an onion but I  love onions in my food, be it chili, spaghetti or hamburgers, grilled with steaks…YUM. I use them in most everything I cook.

 This is probably why I always have mints or gum on me!  🙂

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Add crackers or a grill cheese sandwich….and enjoy!

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TRUTH…I am NOT a birth photographer…I am a wedding  and portrait photographer, I love weddings…it’s my mantra…I will say it over and over again….but I love a love story and this is a true love story that is close to my heart…so when your a photographer and your daughter gets engaged…gets married and has a baby…you take on a different genre of photography even if it’s one that is out of your comfort zone….even if it’s  birth photography. Our Amelia Grace blessed us with her arrival on November 7th at exactly 4:10am. I could not be more in LOVE…and so proud of my daughter and son in love…here is their birth story.


 FACT…Paula was the 12th baby born in this very hospital 27 years ago…in November….how ironic Amelia was born here too…in November.

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Early on…smooth sailing.

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Candy crush…but not for long.

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These girls are all mommies….and they are some of her best friend.  They have been there for each other through thick and thin…

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Things get serious quickly…pitocin working…epidural not working…she was a rock star to do this without a ton of pain meds and a ton of pitocin.

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She was still able to be goofy and  smile in-between contractions…but not for long….again Rock Star!

I am not sure where she got her  tolerance for pain…but I know it was NOT from me….I have zero!

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One of the hardest things to experience as a mom is watching your child suffer and not be able to do anything but hold their hand…it’s heart wrenching.

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They sat in the corner like church mice…awaiting their newest “girlfriend”

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One final push…and…

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Her birthday…..Welcome Amelia Grace.

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Daddy’s girl….already has him wrapped.

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Dr. Bass

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One proud daddy….this makes me cry every time I look at this.

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Amelia had some very special visitors her first 24 hours…Her Nanny and great grandma…

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Papa…her great grandpapa.

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Gam and grand-dad….they are pros…they have 3 more grand babies.

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Her Poppy…or Papa John…:) but I think that’s already taken and trademarked…

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I will be Mia…or Glam-ma. 😉 preferably Mia.

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Her new uncle Dr. Jake…

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She has no hope of being anything else but a Redskins fan.

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Waiting to go home….

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Thanks to Papa John…for picking up the camera…and capturing these.

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Practicing her girlie…pinky up etiquette.

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These dimples….oh my.

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Listening to some country music with momma…before heading home…

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Funny story:  When they took off her foot bracelet it set off the alarm in the hospital…alerting everyone and locking down doors we could not get out….we had to be escorted out through private elevators…just like rock stars!  🙂  Now that’s an exit.

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Three Stones…head off into their future… <3  It’s going to be grand.

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I will be the FIRST to admit…Birth photography is hard work…and worth every penny and more for what they charge for their coverage for this very important life moment….professional wedding photographers work an average of 8 to 10 hours, for an average of $3500.00 for their time, talent and images (and we work very HARD during those hours too)…but birth photographers work between 10 and 24 hours (with no respect to when that time starts or stops)…to capture moments that can NEVER be repeated for that child’s birth.  If your considering hiring a birth photographer (and you should! it’s so worth it to have those moments)  please please please contact Kimberlin Gray Photography.  She is truly the best in this area for this and worth every penny (and more) for the work and time that she provides to capture the birth of your child.  My hat is off to  you Amanda….Although I would not have been anywhere else on earth than right there capturing the arrival of our Amelia Grace….I will repeat the mantra…I am a wedding photographer and “I love weddings”  🙂




  • Anna - November 13, 2013 - 11:04 AM

    Momma Gills I CRIED when I saw these! So glad that Paula was surrounded by so many amazing people that love her, Justin and little baby A. Miss you guys so much – she did so good, what a beautiful Mommy!!!!!!ReplyCancel


It’s like time has been put on fast forward and I can’t slow it down…..because it was just yesterday that I was bringing Paula home from the hospital…

and in just a few short weeks…

she will be brining her baby girl Amelia Grace home from the hospital….someone pinch me.

Baby showers are fun…and a lot of work, but this one was a labor of love (no pun intended!)

She has some of the most amazing, caring friends and family in the entire world….it’s what every mom wishes for her kids…to have amazing caring friends and Paula does a lot of them.  One of her BFF’s flew in from Vegas…just to be at this shower why? because that’s what 233’s do.

We rented a house at the beach and had over 50 people that gathered to celebrate with us.

It was an amazing day full of tons of love and tears…and poopie diapers…(candy of course!)  and gifts galore for our sweet Amelia Grace.

If the amount of shoes alone she received is any indication of the closet space she will need they are in BIG trouble 🙂

We had to open gifts in shifts to fit in games and let Paula get up to stretch..

Heres some of the fun…and details.

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These girls….have been through thick and thin together since somewhere around 5th grade.

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Her 233..Britt flew in from Vegas to share in the fun and excitement for the day…friends since 2nd grade…

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Her other besties….Kelly is part responsible for Paula meeting and marrying her baby daddy Justin. 🙂

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I love you already Amelia…I can’t wait to hold you in my arms…

Love:  Jo Jo…Aka Mia…aka Glam-Ma.

My name is yet to be determined.  🙂