Strawberry Picking 🍓🍓🍓| Boone Hall Plantation

I love, love, LOVE the low country and I've been on a mission to explore all things, South Carolina. It's where I'm from and I should know a thing or two about my state.

Surprisingly enough, I have never been strawberry picking. My dad's family were farmers and they grew a little bit of everything but when I was younger, I was too cute for the fields. Now, it seems as if the things I didn't enjoy; I have a long for now. 

I stumbled upon Boone Hall Plantation while discovering things to do in Charleston, SC and I knew this was the place I wanted to go. Now, I will say it took me a while to do some digging to figure out exactly when they would be open but after reaching out to them they were very helpful and the prices weren't bad either $1.99/lb.

Photo: Dave Allen Photography/Shutterstock

Photo: Dave Allen Photography/Shutterstock

The drive down was beautiful, I'm in love with the oak trees there. It feels like you're going on a magical adventure.

I'm a kid at heart and I believe I was more excited than anyone else. I couldn't wait to get out and  see everything.

Warning: The plantation and patches are in two different locations. Not far from each other about a 1/2 mile apart.

 

 

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The weather was a little iffy but it still made for a great day. There were only about 100 hundred people out there when we arrived but the fields are large enough to where you don't feel crowded. Everyone was so pleasant and resourceful. The ladies ringing up our strawberries gave us great tips to keep our strawberries fresher longer. 

Our sweet treats - Strawberry Shortcake 

Our sweet treats - Strawberry Shortcake 

Mom Tip: This was a great inexpensive trip that my daughter won't forget. We were able to talk about farming/where your food comes from and healthy eating habits. We spent $20 for 10 lbs of strawberries. You can freeze them for smoothies, bake them in cakes or pies, your options are limitless. Get creative!

Most importantly you're getting your children outdoors and active. 

5 Tips To Help You Better Prepare For Your Next Family Photoshoot

Photo By: Denise Benson

Photo By: Denise Benson

Family sessions are something most moms get excited over, yet dread simultaneously.  It's probably been far too long since you last had photos of your family taken so you know you're long overdue to book a session, but the thought of getting yourself, possibly your spouse and your kids ready and prepared is a daunting task.  Sometimes so daunting that you put if off over and over again.  Being in the photography industry for seven years, I've worked with many families and I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be a huge undertaking.  If you go into your session with a positive attitude and the following tips then you'll be ready to knock it out of the park the day of your shoot.

 

1. Tell the kids all about it.  Let the kids know well in advance that you've booked a session.  Get them excited about it and if they're old enough have them help you pick out their wardrobe and accessories.  Involving them in the process will make them feel special and like they had a hand in making this happen.  Tell them about the photographer that will be working with them.  Give them his/her name and even show them a photo so they won't feel like a total stranger the day of the session.  The more they understand about this entire situation, the better they will feel going into it.
 

2. Go with the flow.  I tell all of the parents that book with me that most children between the ages of 1-5 years old have a limited time span to be in front of the camera.  It's not in their nature to sit still and smile pretty for an hour so if you can book a shorter session with your photographer or catch them when they're doing a mini session special that will be the most ideal situation.  But if that's not an option then be okay with giving them breaks when they need it.  Don't become frustrated or angry when they don't cooperate.  Instead give them a few minutes to play or do their own thing.  During this time the photographer can either take a few photos of you alone or with your spouse (because when was the last time just the two of you had photos taken? I'm guessing it was on your wedding day!) or they can use that time for candid moments while the kids are just being themselves.  Either way go with the flow and it'll make the experience better for everyone.

 

3. Don't be above bribing.  I know most parents expect their children to be well behaved at all times, but it's not realistic.  And the chance for a mid-shoot meltdown is quite possible so before the session even takes place let the kids know that if they behave well that you'll take them out for ice cream afterwards or that you'll all watch their favorite family movie once you're back home.  A little incentive never hurt anyone.  And if the session starts to take a turn you can use this incentive to help get them back on track.

 

4. Pack the essentials.  Make sure to bring along one or two toys that will make your child feel better should they become upset during the session (and make sure you're okay with this toy possibly making an appearance in some of your images), pack drinks and/or snacks in case they get hungry or thirsty (nothing with a lot of food coloring that could stain their clothing or mouths), wipes, lotion, lip balm and possibly even a change of clothes in case of an accident.  The more you're prepared in advance the better you'll feel the day of your shoot.

 

5. Preparation is key.  Most moms become flustered the day of the shoot because everything is done last minute.  The more you can do in advance of the shoot day, the easier the day will flow.  This includes, but is not limited to, getting any haircuts/salon visits done a few days in advance, for an early morning session this could include bathing the kids the night before, laying out everyone's wardrobe 1-2 days before the shoot, and packing up all of your essential items (snacks, toys, etc) the day before.  The more you can get done before your session date arrives the more relaxed you'll feel.

Photo By: Denise Benson

Photo By: Denise Benson

 

These are just a few ways you can prepare not only your children but yourself the next time you decide to book a session and make the entire process easier for everyone involved.

BONUS TIP:  Make sure to schedule your session around nap time whenever possible.  No one wants a cranky or groggy child during their session so whenever you can schedule it before their nap takes place or well after so they're rested and ready to go!

 

Thanks, Denise for sharing great tips and stay tuned because my family session photos are coming soon! 

Motherhood Uncensored: It's Okay to Cry

Motherhood is difficult...and rewarding.
— Gloria E.
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Whoever said motherhood would be glamorous lied! They didn't tell you that some days you'll spend more nights crying than you do laughing. They didn't explain that when your child messes up it doesn't make YOU a failure.

Maddy Grace and I

Maddy Grace and I

Parenting is hard work - a job that can't be taken lightly. I believe it takes a village to raise a child. Children need supportive people pouring into their lives. They need to see what role models look like in real life - not what they see on television. 

Lately, motherhood has been hard and I mean REALLY HARD. I can't remember the last time I've cried this much over my children. In case you're not hip to me, I have two girls currently 9 and 5. My 9-year-old is a cake walk compared to the 5-year-old. The 5-year-old, Maddy, is a complex creature; one minute she is affectionate and courteous and the next it's like the Bride of Chucky. My mom says she is just like me; I was a handful growing up. I know I was challenging but my goodness, I did not know it was this bad. I was very strong-willed and you 'no' was never a word. (It still isn't, I don't like to hear it, lol)  I have apologized a dozen times because if I was anything like this, OMG!  

Sometimes, I get so frustrated because it feels like I don't get a break. I'm constantly working to better myself so that in return they can have a better life. Some days,  I wish I had my tag partner so I could tap out for just a few but I don't...unfortunately. I'm not complaining...just venting. I remember being told that when a woman gets pregnant she has to know that she may have to do it ALONE. I didn't understand that at first but Lord knows I do now. 

I'm not saying every part of motherhood is bad because that would be a lie, but it can be difficult. I'm going to wipe my tears and keep trucking but I want other moms to know that we will be okay. One day we're going to turn around and wonder how did we raise such wonder humans. I'm certain this won't be the last time I cry over the rough patches but in the end they will be worth it. 

 

"Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can't have a rainbow without a little rain." -Unknown 

 

Mom, you deserve it!

Often times we feel guilty about doing things for ourselves. As a single parent, I constantly deny myself to make sure that my children have what they need and want. One thing I believe we fail to realize is that we need to be taken care of too. 

To my fellow single moms out there, do something for yourself. Every now and then...do something. I picked up a cute pair of shoes. I saw them online and KNEW I had to have them. It's the small things. 

Brownies...Anyone?

Soooooooooo, I’ve had a major sweet tooth lately and while shopping in my local Walmart, there was a huge display for brownies. I have a thing for fudgy brownies and when I saw the box labeled “fudge” I knew they were just for me. Surprisingly, I didn’t go home and bake them right away but I waited for the weekend and O-M-G they were worth the wait! I followed the instructions exactly and got the fudginess that I was looking for. Good look Betty!

P.S. Moms, this was super cheap and fun to do with the kids.

Family Values

I believe you are never too old or too young to learn from someone else. Ever heard the saying, "Out of the mouth of babes"? (you know what I’m talking about lol) I've been blessed to have a great and inspiring friend, teacher and mentor over the years. As I began my workout journey, he would yell this chant with his children:

 

My Friend: “What do we do?!” 

His Children: “We work!” 

 

This is amazing! It’s crazy that you can see something so simple and become inspired. Whether we want them to or not, our children are watching and they WILL model your behavior!

 

I’ve also noticed that people have come up with their own family motto/mantras and I think that is so cool! It is important that families do this because to teach your children a sense of unity. I, however, don’t have one...yet! I plan to work on that.

 

Take a look here if you would like to create your own also leave some comments below and let me know what your family motto is.

 

http://family.lovetoknow.com/family-mottos

Co-Parenting

Close to a year ago I saw a video floating around on Facebook on the topic of "Coparenting". Personally, I do not co-parent. It has been a dream of mine but I also understand that not everyone can co-parent. 

 

I have always been taught that a child is better off with 4 parents rather than two that don’t get along. That is a motto that I’ve held close. My children’s father and I CANNOT be together and we know that but how awesome would it be to share a certain level of cordiality for the sake of our girls. 

 

I want to hear from you! Have you tried co-parenting? What are the benefits? Drawbacks? Let me know how co-parenting works for you. All healthy tips welcomed!

 

Check out the video below:

 

School's Out

Can you believe it? School is out for the summer and I must say it is truly bittersweet. I work in the education system so on one hand I’m screaming YAY! but I DO work during the summer. Bummer, right? I don't get much of a break but it is nice to not work such long hours. 

 

So, what do you have planned this summer for your kiddos? Right now, I have nothing major set in stone BUT I do plan to hit the beach as often as possible. That is a big luxury of living so close to the ocean! Nothing compares to listening to the sound of the waves, building sand castles and letting the sun hit your skin (minus the sunburn, of course).

 

Side note: I received the best gift EVER from one of my students on the last day. It was a super cute cup and card. She told me, “Ms. Natalie, I know how much you love your water and are always losing your cup.” Lol and she is exactly right. I stopped bringing my Yeti cup earlier in the year because I would always leave it. It's always the thought that counts! 

 

Proudest Mom Moment

Biggest Success/Proudest Mom Moment

 

As a mom, have you ever stood back in adoration and gave yourself a pat on the back? Sometimes it is necessary to congratulate our successes as parents. We're human, so we make mistakes but they only make the successes that much sweeter! 

 

My proudest moment as a mom would have to be hearing my oldest tell me how much she loves her hair. O M G!! The waterworks wanted to come but I was a G and held it together. This world teaches our little black girls to hate themselves! The media preaches to them that their hair is not beautiful unless its straight or their curls are long and bouncy but NO ma’am! 

 

Little black girl you rock! 

 

The way her face lit up when she saw herself was amazing! I wouldn't trade that moment for anything in the world. In the purest of tones she said, “Mom I look so beautiful.” I told her “Baby, you are.”

 

Now with my baby…I don’t know if this would be considered a proud moment for me or her- either way, it was awesome. I had trouble with her walking and talking for a long time. She experienced memory lapses at a very young age and it scared me half to death. I finally took her to the doctor and we started therapy around 18 months. By her second birthday she was walking without falling, her health was improving and I couldn’t do anything but praise God for restoring her.

 

I know there will be many more moments like these and I plan to share them along the way. Remember to brag on your babies for they are your greatest creation, accomplishment and responsibility! 

 

And don't forget, Moms ROCK too! 

Parenting Failures

As parents, at some point, we have felt like an ultimate failure. Parenthood does NOT come with  a guide. No matter the books you read, research you've done or classes taken, you are never truly prepared for what life throws at you. 

 

With my oldest, I was not ready to be a mom but I knew that I had to do it. As a high school student, I realized it was the unpopular choice but I did not want to think back on “what if.” Could I live with the guilt of not giving birth or giving her away? A lot of people wanted my daughter. They felt that they would give me a new lease on life BUT that wasn’t the right option for me.

 

My biggest failure was allowing violence and hostility around her. I was in an abusive relationship with her father and for so long, I stayed. She became familiar with the yelling, screaming and the often breaking of items in the house. One day I'll share the story of how I got out but I can't help but wonder how that experience affected her. Would she be more outgoing having not been exposed to this at an early age?

 

With my second child, I did my best to get it right and in my efforts, I may have over indulged with her. I spent almost two years at home and she was attached at my hip. Now don’t get me wrong I LOVED being a stay at home mom. It was the best decision of my life BUT I realized that I needed to teach her some independence in order to have a well mannered and balanced child. 

 

No parent is perfect. What IS perfect is the depth of love we have for our children. We never stop trying to get it right. Hold your babies tight! Know that you will make mistakes but your love will never fade and love conquers all!