/10 on 10/November 2015

I'm going to be blessed with another nephew at the end of this year! I was honored to take some photos for my sister and her family this past weekend...

I'm joined in this 10 on 10 project by a group of awesomely talented ladies. Please head over to Carri's blog to see her 10 then follow the circle around until you land back here.

/Letters to My Children 2015/ October

Dear Emma,

We finally made it to Sesame Place! After our first attempt a couple of weeks ago got rained out, gorgeous fall weather last weekend meant that it was all systems go for a road trip to Langhorne, PA. You were equally excited about getting to stay in a hotel as you were to meet Elmo, Abby, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang - especially because Nana and Grandpa Ed were coming, too.

I'm amazed you had any energy left for a day at the park after a morning spent wrestling with Ed and jumping on the bed. (Oh that's right, you're 4.) I was a wee bit nervous how you'd do with the costumed characters after a Pete the Cat encounter when you were 2 had seemingly scarred you for life in that department, but you did GREAT. You were a little apprehensive at first, but once you saw your girls Abby and Zoe you were all about it. You went on rides, saw a musical, and steered your brother around the park showing him all the cool stuff he could do.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend for the Shellaway crew and once again your bravery and enthusiasm left me feeling all kinds of proud. 



I'm joined in this Letters project by a group of fabulously talented photographers... I encourage you to head over to Ally's blog to read her letter to her boys.

/VIDEO/ Our Everyday Happy

I'm so excited to finally share with you what I've been up to the past month. I've been wanting to learn DSLR video for a while now, and when I learned of Emily Mitchell and her awesome workshop, I knew it was time to sign up. Let me tell you guys - this workshop is INTENSE, but so so so worth it. Whether you want to learn to shoot video for clients, or just to document your own family (me!) Emily teaches you in a way that's approachable, thorough, and supportive. You learn camera settings, stabilization and shooting techniques, editing, audio, music... the whole shebang. I had ZERO video skills when I started this class, but now I feel like I have this awesome tool to help me tell my family's story. I really can't recommend this class more highly.

The video above was my final assignment... a month of taking video and somehow it all came together into this sweet glimpse into life with my 3 favorite people. It's not perfect, but it's us and I'm so very happy to have it.

/Letters to My Children 2015/ September

Dear Jonah,

In 2 more days you will be TWO years old! And what a difference a year makes... you went from bald crawling baby to a walking talking little boy. Full of energy, curiosity, sweetness and stubbornness. At some point this year you discovered that if you're going to have a mischievous streak, it's quite helpful to also be very charming. We both know that sweet smile of yours makes it awfully hard to stay mad at you.

This year also brought some big changes... right after your 1st birthday, we moved into our new house. And just last month you started Montessori preschool. It's been a tough transition at times, but your teachers adore you and you love having Emma right across the hall. The teachers asked me if you guys ever fight because you seem to have such a strong and loving bond. I had to laugh at that one. While the strong and loving bond part is certainly true, you definitely know how to push each others' buttons. But I promise you no one will be there for you like your sister, and vice versa. I'm excited to see how your relationship continues to grow as you get older and can do more things together... you want nothing more right now than to be able to keep up with your big sister!

Daddy and I love you like crazy and feel pretty darn lucky we get to be your parents... we can't wait to see what the next year brings for you! Here's to another year of adventure, snuggles, and endless smiles.



I'm joined in this project by some brilliant photographers... please head over to Melissa's blog to read her letter, then follow the links around until you end up back here. 

/10 on 10/ September 2015

My poor old laptop had to get sent off to Apple for a new logic board so my apologies that my 10 on 10 is actually a 10 on 20. These are from our Labor Day weekend trip to the cabin...

/Letters to My Children 2015/ August


Dear Emma,

Summer break with you sure flew by this year! Even though it's only 2 weeks, we always pack so much fun into that short time together. From the backyard to the creamery and many adventures in between, we spent our days being silly and carefree. I think my favorite day was when you and Jonah turned a simple art project into a full on body painting extravaganza. I hope I never forget the sound of your laughter as I hosed you off afterward. :)


As you head back to school this week, I want you to know how very proud of you I am. You have one of the kindest, most thoughtful hearts I've ever known, and that's no more apparent than in your love for Jonah. It's his first week at your school, and while you're very excited that he's finally in the same school as you, he's naturally having a lot of anxiety as he adjusts to new people and new routines. I can't even tell you how proud it made me to hear from his teacher that you went over to his room yesterday to help him feel better, and that his special treat after nap was to go see his big sister. It was your first day back, too, and you had every right to want to spend it playing with your friends. But instead you were there for your little brother when he needed you. That's a big job you took on, and you did it with the grace and generosity of someone well beyond your 4 years. They say our children are our greatest teachers, and you my girl make me certain that's true.




I'm joined in this letter writing project by some very talented photographers. I encourage you to head over to Melissa's blog to read her letter, then follow the links until you land back here!

/Letters to My Children 2015/ July


Dear Jonah,

If you have a season, it is most certainly Summer. You have been living it up the past couple of months, taking in all that Summer has to offer. We kicked off July at the cabin, where you loved playing in the water, palling around with your big sister, and generally being a messy, adventurous boy.


Summer wouldn't be summer without lots of water play, and you are definitely a water baby. You and Emma love when we chase you around the backyard squirting you with the hose. It's in those laughter-filled moments that time seems to stop and the afternoons feel like they could go on forever. But looking at these photos of you, I know time is moving way faster than I'd like. You're far more boy than baby these days and I'm coming around to being okay with that. Slowly.   


Summer coming to an end means big changes for you... the biggest being that you're starting at your sister's Montessori school. I'm both excited and nervous for you. I know you'll thrive in that school, but I also know you'll be confused at first and missing your beloved daycare provider. It'll be hard on all of us, but I promise to be there with extra uppies and snuggles when you need them. And when all else fails, we just may have to bring in the big guns - a vanilla cone with rainbow sprinkles. :)

Love you, buddy...


Head on over to my talented friend Ally's blog to read her July letter...

/10 on 10/ July 2015

Another great 4th of July at the cabin! The highlight of the weekend was Emma finally fishing on her own (she's been building up to it for the past two summers). She was fearless, persistent, and hilarious. She named each worm, named each fish, and comforted the fish as Jared removed the hook. She probably caught 10 fish all on her own by the time the weekend was over, and was so thrilled to be a "real fishergirl!" :) /1/ Taking this big sister thing to a new level


/2/ Perfectly capable of doing it on his own2015-07-09_0002

/3/ My favorite old door in all the land2015-07-09_0003

/5/ Got a bite!2015-07-09_0004

/6/ Back to wandering2015-07-09_0005

/7/ Time to cool down2015-07-09_0006

/8/ I believe this one was "Slimy Joe"2015-07-09_0007

/9/ Reel 'em in!2015-07-09_0009

/10/ My guys <32015-07-09_0010

Please head over to Dominique's blog to check out her incredible 10 on 10!

/Letters to My Children 2015/ June

2015-06-24_0001 Dear Emma,

Happy 4th Birthday, my sweet girl. People have been assuming you're 5 for a while now, so it's about time you finally turned 4! That assumption mostly comes from the fact that you're so tall for your age (91st percentile!), but also from your independence and maturity. It's been awesome to watch you blossom into this sweet, thoughtful, silly, creative little girl over the past year. It's like we can see the older you taking shape right before our eyes.

2015-06-24_0002 2015-06-24_0003

Don't get me wrong - you still have your toddler moments! Those moments can serve as (sometimes much needed) reminders that you've only just turned 4... there's so much you're still figuring out. You're just starting to navigate the social world - discovering both the joys and challenges of friendships. You've been asking hard questions about love, death, and what things mean. Daddy and I aren't always ready to tackle these topics, but we always try to answer you with respect, empathy, and honesty.

2015-06-24_0004 2015-06-24_0005

For your birthday this year, it felt like we celebrated all week long! We kicked things off with a princess party at the Little Gym where you celebrated with all your school friends. From the games to the Disney tunes to the Rapunzel cupcakes, you had a blast. After that, we headed home where our family was waiting to keep the celebration going. Your favorite gifts were your princess dresses and a book of Disney bedtime stories.2015-06-24_0006 2015-06-24_0007

For your actual birthday, I took the day off of work so we could hang out. It started with you finally getting your big present from me and Daddy - a new dress up cart! We built it from scratch just for you, and I even spray painted knobs bright pink for you to hang your bracelets and necklaces. If someone had told me when you were a baby that 4 short years later I'd be immersed in all things princess I would have told them they were crazy. But what can I say? It makes you so happy, and I'm learning to embrace the fact that our house is permanently covered in glitter.


Before meeting up with Nana, we stopped at the Frederick Rescue Mission to drop off the Backpack Drive donations you collected at your birthday party. Daddy and I were so very proud of you for thinking of others on your big day. One of the things that makes you so unique and wonderful is how innately thoughtful you are. You are always thinking of others' needs and feelings, even if it's something small like sharing with Jonah or bringing me an ice pack if I stub my toe. Daddy and I are hoping to teach you different ways you can use that gift to help others, because the world so desperately needs more people like you. 2015-06-24_0008

After that, we met up with Nana at Build A Bear where you - of course - built an Elsa bear. It even sings "Let It Go" which Daddy and I are super thrilled about. ;) We capped off the day with a family dinner at your favorite restaurant, Cafe Bueno. All in all, a perfect day and a great way to kick off age 4. As much as you want to skip ahead to being 5 like your older friends, I know this year will be filled with wonderful discoveries, important lessons learned, and happy, carefree times with family and friends.



Please head over to Ally’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/10 on 10/ June 2015

We were in North Carolina this past weekend, and despite 15 hours in the car with 2 toddlers over 2 days, we had a great time. The kids were especially excited about their first hotel stay (that they remember). /1, 2/ morning cartoons


/3, 4, 5/ when in Rome2015-06-09_0002

/6, 7, 8/ back in the car2015-06-09_0003

/9, 10/ big kid cups are the best2015-06-09_0004

Click here to check out Carri's stellar 10 on 10!

/Letters to My Children 2015/ May

2015-05-24_0001 Dear Jonah,

Oh my guy... you must be the cutest, sweetest little wrecking ball that ever was. If it can be dumped out, poured out, crushed, mashed, or deconstructed in any way, you'll find a way to do it - with a huge smile on your face, of course.


Eating with you lately is particularly entertaining. You've become very opinionated about what you want, and even more so about what you don't want. Meals are a contact sport full of charm, equal parts laughing and yelling, and big messes.




But for all your Bam Bam ways, you still melt my heart every single day with that sweet smile, your huge hugs, and fierce love. You are adamant about the family all being together, Rocco included. If someone's not there, you say their name Stanley Kowalski-style until they appear (or you get distracted by food). Emma has become your partner in crime, your biggest annoyance, and very best friend. And Daddy? Daddy's your superhero, rockstar, apple of your eye, center of your universe, best dad in the history of all dads. There is no one on the planet you adore more than him, and getting to watch you two together is one of the great joys of my life.




Here's to a summer filled with grand adventures, long weekends, less Super Glue, more patience all around, and lots of snuggles and sloppy kisses. I love you to pieces and pieces and pieces, my JoJo.



Please head over to Melissa’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/10 on 10/ May 2015

/1/ breakfast antics 2015-05-10_0001

/2/ riding the "bus" to school2015-05-10_0002

/3/ a different perspective2015-05-10_0003

/4/ who needs gymnastics when there's mama and daddy's bed?2015-05-10_0004

/5/ school picnic face painting2015-05-10_0005

/6/ Time to wake up!2015-05-10_0006

/7/ waiting for her polish to dry2015-05-10_0007

/8/ she named him John and brought him grass to eat2015-05-10_0008

/9/ it's amazing how one tiny brownie can multiply in volume and mess making potential when in the hands of a toddler2015-05-10_0009

/10/ story time2015-05-10_0010

I'm joined in this project by a group of super talented photographer friends. Please head over to Jodie's blog to see her entry for this month, then follow the circle around until you end up back here!

/Letters to My Children 2015/ April

2015-04-24_0001 Dear Emma,

My darling girl... my almost 4 year old. What a joy it is to be your mama. I get a front row seat to the sweet, hilarious, fierce, thoughtful, creative wonder that is YOU. Spring has brought on a new, more mature phase for you... morning goodbyes at school are easier, you're taking on new responsibilities, and you've become so observant and curious about the world and people around you. We even have a special time before bed dedicated to you asking me whatever questions you want. Which always leads to more questions, and more questions after that. I think you'd stay up all night asking me questions if you could.



Your obsession with all things princess continues to intensify, and I'm slowly coming around to being okay with it. I always try to remind you that what makes the princesses we learn about most special is how kind, brave, and caring they are - not how pretty they are or how fancy their outfits may be. I don't know how much of that is sticking, but a mama's gotta try.


More than anything, what's best about this phase is how incredibly sweet you are with your brother and what an awesome big sister you're becoming. You've always been a great big sister, but now that Jonah is bigger and you can really play together it's clear what an important role you're going to play in each other's lives. You are so quick to show him things, share your food and toys, and comfort him when he's sad. He's still learning and not always the best at reciprocating your desire to share, but you're pretty understanding.





Nearly every night at bedtime, you say goodnight to Jonah by singing a song you learned from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. You just randomly started singing it to him a few months ago and we had no idea that you even knew the words, but it was pretty much the sweetest thing we'd ever heard. It goes:

"The moment I first held you, you seemed to me / The most wonderful gift to our family / Goodnight, sleep tight / Dream dreams as sweet as you"

Emma's goodnight song for Jonah from Allison Shellaway on Vimeo.

He'll learn to love it. ;)

We love you so much, my sweet girl, and are always so proud to be your parents.



Please head over to Melissa’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/Letters to My Children/ March 2015

2015-03-24_0001 Dear Jonah,

What an awesome couple of months it's been since I last wrote to you! You are becoming a little boy right before our eyes, cute as can be and keeping us on our toes. You are eating constantly and have recently discovered how to get into the pantry. We have to be super diligent about putting the child lock on so as not to find you arm deep in a container of puffs and about to move on to the raisins. (Not that that happened or anything.)


Your curiosity knows no limits these days, and you're rapidly discovering all the new places you can reach, things you can turn on and off, doors you can open and close. Daddy and I are trying to pacify this desire by putting more Jonah-friendly things within reach, but that stuff is apparently quite boring compared to everything else just out of reach.


What I love most about this stage with you is how much you're talking and how excited you get when you can say a new word. You've put a great priority on learning all the food words (shocker), but you've also started saying "love you!" which is the best thing ever to hear at the end of a long work day. Just this week you finally got a handle on "Emma" (you used to call her Mama, which was rather confusing for all of us), and have been saying her name constantly for the past several days. You two have your sibling moments, but I know she so loves hearing you saying her name and asking for her.


When all is said and done - or eaten in your case - you're still our ever sweet little Jo... a snuggle bug who gives the best sloppy kisses and has one of the world's truly great smiles. We love you so much and can't wait to see what the next couple of months have in store for you.






Please head over to my very sweet friend Ally’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/10 on 10/ March 2015

We busted the Learning Tower back out last weekend and Jonah is a wee bit obsessed with it. As soon as he got up there we couldn't get him to come back down. Half an hour later, I had my 10 on 10 for this month... /1/ 2015-03-09_0001










Please head over to Christine’s blog to see her 10 on 10 for this month!

/Letters to My Children/ February 2015

2015-02-27_0001 Dear Emma,

I've been so drawn to taking portraits of you lately... You're growing into your personality more every day and I so love capturing all the many sides of you. You're oh so silly, and astoundingly smart, and most of all incredibly sweet and thoughtful. You're also emerging as a bit of an introvert, which isn't surprising since you hail from a looooong line of introverts. We're working on helping you be more social around people you don't know, but daddy and I are so proud of your maturity and independence. Even when you're in a new situation where you don't know the other kids, you happily find your own way.

2015-02-27_0003In school news, you've been making awesome progress with your moveable alphabet, and just this week started writing words! With no help from me, you sounded out and spelled "hat" all by yourself. You were so proud and excited. "Mama! I spelled a real word!!"  It's like it all clicked for you and after that you wanted to write every three letter word you know. Dad, cat, bat... You were on fire and it was truly awesome to watch. Not too shabby for three and a half. (Thanks, Montessori!)

2015-02-27_0005We love you so much, bubba, and are so proud to be your parents. 



2015-02-27_0007Please head over to my very sweet friend Ally’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!