Our Atlanta trip

We returned from Atlanta this past weekend and I thought I’d take a moment to share a bit of the fun we had with you all. After learning that the Chicago Cubs were playing in Atlanta last week we decided that on Hope’s last day of school we’d take a trip to short trip to Atlanta to see the game and have a little fun. Though Orlando is a nice size city, I have to admit that it’s not quite as large as Atlanta. During our trip we stayed downtown at the Westin and loved the view from our room – the moment the kids and Jason walked into our room was quite memorable. Of course seeing this moment began what would become a trip where the camera rarely left my hands.

The view from our 65th floor room

Our first night in Atlanta we went to the game. The kids were excited, but no where near as excited as Jason was to see his cubbies play and to bring his kids to the game. It was Jaylen’s first trip to the ballpark, which was certainly a proud moment for his proud daddy.

watching batting practice

Jaylen was quite excited to be at the stadium full of stairs. We were left trying to hold him so he wouldn’t go tumbling down the stadium.

154/365: at the cubs vs braves game

Just before the game was set to start the rain began. Then it poured. And poured. And poured down rain. It rained for hours. We remained hopeful that the rain would stop and they’d be able to play the game but unfortunately the game was rained out.

Rain delay

The next day was very eventful. We started out our morning at the Georgia Aquarium. It was an amazing experience for the kids to see all the underwater creatures!

The jelly fish were cool!

At the aquarium

They seem so small

We also took a trip to the World of Coca-Cola where we were allowed to taste all 64 flavors of coke products. Hope had a blast trying out all the various flavors of coke.

Coca-cola taste test!

We also went to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta where they had a ton of creative and play spaces for children to play with. Hope wanted to stay all day and play.

painting at the Children's museum

We ended our day 2 at Stone Mountain which we originally had not planned in our trip. We heard a lot about it after arriving in Atlanta and decided to check it out. It was definitely one of the most memorable and enjoyable parts of our trip. When we first arrived Hope saw they had a huge climbing obstacle course. Jason and Hope decided they’d try it out. Once they were up many feet in the air we realized it was a little more challenging than originally expected. Though Hope was a little nervous at first she moved forward and completed the entire first level.

Stone Mountain Adventure

Stone Mountain Adventure

Stone Mountain Adventure

If you’ve never been to Stone Mountain I have to tell you it was one of the best unexpected parts of our trip. The scenery around the park was pretty amazing.

Stone Mountain

We enjoyed the view from the top of Stone Mountain park. The park overlooks Atlanta’s skyline.

on top of Stone Mountain

Though Hope was super cute during our trip, some of my favorite pictures of her from our trip were taken at Stone Mountain. She was super cooperative as I took the most pictures during our trip at Stone Mountain Park.

at Stone Mountain

Of course one of the things I looked forward to most was our trip to the zoo. On day three we went to the Atlanta zoo and visited the panda bears that I adore so much. This little guy was super cute taking a nap during our visit.

baby panda at the Atlanta zoo

Another panda was sleeping right next to the glass and Hope was able to go right next to the glass to admire it.

Hope near the sleepy panda

We took breaks at our hotel and there’s no doubt that the kids just loved the window in our room. They were usually either looking out it or playing near the curtains.

admiring Atlanta

He stayed occupied with the window

Our last night in Atlanta we went to the observation deck on the top floor of the Westin at sunset and took a few photos to help us remember the view.

Sunset at the sundial

So we’re off to a great start this summer. It looks like we have a trip back to Atlanta in a couple weeks for the make up game that was rained out. In the mean time we’re working on getting use to the new summer routine now that Hope’s school is out. We’re keeping the kids busy swimming this summer and much more. Hopefully you all enjoyed a few snapshots from our trip. You’ll find many more photos from our trip in flickr.

Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 10:53 pm  Comments (1)  

365 with our family


What is it you ask? The number of days in the year, yes, but that’s not all. For those who haven’t already heard, I’d like to introduce our latest challenge.

{Insert another one of my crazy ideas here}

My Neverending to do list

Yes, you see…I have this crazy idea that I can add more fun to my busy days. All last year (yes, since about mid January) I contemplated doing a 365 photography challenge where I would force myself to take one photo a day – and even more challenging…make sure I’m in the photo. Yes, me…the one who is typically behind the camera – you know…the one everyone refers to as the paparazzi. So last year as I gave it lots of thought I decided I’d start on January 1st of this year – and of course because my kids mean the world to me (far more than silly pictures of myself) I wanted to put as much into doing the same 365 challenge taking photos of them.

And yes, I know I hear you all telling me how I take “soooooo” many pictures as it is. Well, I admit…I do. But in focusing on learning more about photography this year I’ve found that so many times I’d end up places without my camera – and be so frustrated unable to capture moments. I’ve learned that you also get better at things when you immerse yourself in what you’re doing. In fact, most people never take their “best” photo in the first photo they take of the day – so through this the challenge will force me to take MORE photos and to improve my photography skills. Of course, in the process I have this feeling I’ll learn a thing or two about not only photography but life…and best of all – through this project so many more memories will be experienced. At the end of our 365 we’ll be making a book with all the best photos.

Of course, I’d love to take credit for the 365 idea, but I’m definitely not the first to attempt such a crazy idea. In all the research I’ve done about the various approaches – I have been most inspired by the idea that not only will it help you create memories but it’ll help you see life in a whole new way. Over the last year in researching this idea I’ve been so inspired by so many others who have participated in a 365 challenge. Day after day this past year I’ve enjoyed watching Allison’s (snippets_from_suburbia’s) 365 challenge – which was quite funny, real, and filled with hilarious moments that anyone can relate with. And this is only my first try at 365, some people like this guy Pete (arkworld) have attempted not just once, but twice. After his first 365 he took another stab at it with a cool fisheye lens approach. I’ve even been inspired by those like Lisa (LH*Photography) who threw in the towel after a couple months of photos. Seeing their awesome work certainly helped give me the motivation to start 365.

So let me go ahead and introduce our first three days of 365.

Here’s Hope, who’s been an amazing assistant. Helping with Jaylen and Bella – and even her Daddy. Heck, she’s even helped me with my first photo of the day (that you see above) as she helped position the tripod. My first 365 photo above I decided to have fun with all my crazy ideas and all the things that keep me busy and so as she saw me coming up with the concept she said she wanted to make a to do list for me too.

1/365 - Mommy's to do list

of course it’s hard for me to take just one photo, especially of the kids. On day one I took a few other memorable shots of her.

1/365-2 - Hope on New Year's day

Day two we went out to lunch at Panera…she loves salad. So photos with salad it was for day two.

2/365 - salad!

And on day two she started planning day three…blowing bubbles with her gum. We had soooo much fun taking these.

Blowing bubbles

of course, here’s the making of the photo above:

The bubble shot in the making...

I have to admit that my photography obsession in the last year has really been spawned partly from my pleasure of taking photos of Jaylen during his first year (not that I didn’t obsess over taking photos before). Through his first year I truly wanted to capture as many moments. Though it’s a little harder now to snag the perfect shot now that he’s more active – I love taking the time to capture these little moments of him as he’s growing so fast. I was a little sad on day one taking photos of him because some of the BEST photos I took of him were the ones of him crying. I got him all dressed in his “girls get in line” shirt that I’ve been waiting to bust out for a cute photo opportunity – and then he cries. All I have to say is “no” these days and he gets his big pouty lip and crocodile tears. And though I felt bad, I must admit that I did see it as an “photo opportunity”. So you can see in the photos…he was a little emotional. For some reason though I think all the girls will love these photos! How can those tears NOT pull at your heartstrings?  :o)

1 - Get in Line Girls

Of course I was thrilled that we managed to see his happy side too…thanks to Hope and Jason’s help.

2 - Get in Line Girls

Day two when we went to lunch I took this one of him with his pacifier.


And on day 3 he had fun rolling around in the blanket, which he enjoys doing often these days.


On day 3 he was also missing Jason after he left for work so Hope helped distract him with her nintendo.

After daddy leaves for work...

Of course I didn’t originally plan to take photos of Jason every day but on day one when I saw him cooperating with Hope as she was having fun with the camera I just adored the moment so much that I told him he’s going to do it too. He surprisingly agreed. These photos were taken by Hope…of Jason acting silly on day one (and me too). (of course if you’re looking for a laugh…you can see the video in flickr)

Silly daddy

On day two, he wasn’t as cooperative. He had to return to work and really didn’t have lots of time. I told him just one photo. He agreed.

2/365 - he complies for day two!

On day 3 he was also busy getting ready for work by the time we got home. But he stopped for a minute to take a photo with his little guy.

Daddy's boy

Much like Jason’s photos, I didn’t plan to take photos every day of Bella. After committing Jason to this 365 challenge we agreed to make it a family project – and Hope got excited when we said we’d include Bella. I told her I’d only agree to that if she agreed to help take photos of her (…which of course she agreed to). On day one Jason used his laser pointer to get Bella’s attention and Hope took the photo.

Pretty Bella

On day two, we waited until late in the evening – again Hope took the picture.

2/365 - "Hey, what about me?"

On day three, I was up early so I went out and took a photo of her in the beautiful morning sun.

3/365 - pretty girl

At the very beginning of this I posted my day one photo – and I must admit it was challenging. I set up the tripod (with some help from Hope) and used my remote to take the photo. I had to have taken 50 or more photos until I got the right focus and positioning. Then I doodled all the scribbles and added them to the photo…oh, do I love to doodle. On day 2 I took a photo of Hope and I. I really love how she’s enjoying this little challenge – she keeps coming up with so many cool ideas and has been such a great helper.

2/365 - helping her aspire to dream big

On day 3 I decided to use the thank you card I received the day prior from Talia’s mother as a way of sharing her story AND as a way of thanking everyone for their support.

3/365 - Thank YOU

If you haven’t joined flickr and/or added us as a contact I’d encourage you do so. I highly doubt I’ll be posting pictures every day on the blog too and I’ll likely have lots of our other photos set to private (which you’ll only be able to see if you join flickr and add us as a contact!). I’ll be returning to my classes at SCAD and teaching very soon – so it should be interesting having fun with this through busy times. You can count on me taking pictures every day and I’ll do my best to share them as often as I can. I’m quite amazed with the response in just three short days.

In starting this little challenge I have been warned and reminded how so many people start and never finish. I’ve heard how many throw in the towel after days, weeks or even months. I imagine after doing this for that long it may be easy to lose inspiration or get frustrated – I guess we’ll have to see. But, I have no doubt that seeing everyone’s interest and hearing all the encouraging words that it’ll be the fuel to help us come up with some pretty awesome and amazingly fun stuff for 365.

So when you have a little time this year check out our flickr account or you can quickly access our 365 photos here. Let us know what you think!

ONLY 362 days to go!

Published in: on January 4, 2009 at 1:41 am  Comments (5)  

2008 Christmas cards

For the third year in a row, Hope and I created our family Christmas cards which are now in the mail. Hopefully by now most of you on our mailing list have received them but I wanted to take a moment to share the fun process we went through in the creation of this year’s cards.

At the start of the fall we came up with the idea to screen print our Christmas cards with some of Hope’s art work. We started working on our ideas way back in October in hopes of getting a head start on this project knowing how new I was to the screen printing process. Here Hope was back in October with one of her drawings:

Yes, it's October...

Of course starting in October was merely that, a start. I spent the next two months researching, reading, and learning everything about the screen printing process. I spoke with many designers experienced in screen printing and soaked up every ounce of knowledge about screen printing eager to experience screen printing for the first time. Between October and December Hope drew many more holiday drawings and words. Here’s most of the drawings I saved:

2008 Christmas cards progress

Once we finally finished up our final designs, I was fortunate to get to spend a few hours at Lure Design to see how they approached the screen printing process. I must extend a huge thanks to Sarah Blacksher for answering my never ending questions a few weeks ago where I saw first hand their process from burning screens, to printing, registration, duplexing, and reclaiming screens. Once I returned home I was eager to get started on printing the cards. My eagerness quickly turned to disappointment as I quickly found out that some of the artwork and handwriting had a bit too much fine detail for the screen mesh I had ordered (approx 150 count). Here’s one of my first screen prints of our cards which was planned to be printed with white an silver ink on brown paper with a light blue interior.

2008 Christmas cards - screen print attempt

Of course, I always have a back up plan, and so printing these traditionally was always the “other” option. It did allow me to use more colors, which some might find more fun. We printed about 100 cards this year and there are two versions. So if you haven’t had an opportunity to see our cards yet, here they are:

Version one:

2008 Christmas cards

Version two:

2008 Christmas cards

The back of all cards have a picture Hope drew of herself along with her super cool new signature:
2008 Christmas cards

The inside of the cards have a drawing Hope made of our family along with everyone’s name:
2008 Christmas cards

2008 Christmas cards

We sent out with most cards photos of the kids, here they are:

Christmas card photos - 2008

Christmas card photos - 2008

Christmas card photos - 2008

Many thanks to all of you who answered questions along the way as I learned about screen printing!

We hope you all enjoy this year’s cards. After this year’s experience with cards, we might just need to get started on next year’s cards in, oh…February. :o)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 6:51 pm  Comments (7)  


I can’t deny it any longer…my baby is one.

The time since Jaylen was born has passed entirely too fast. We continue to feel blessed with the fact that our little guy is doing quite well and has filled our family with more love than we imagined was possible. His birthday was a memorable milestone where I found myself reflecting on how much he’s grown this past year.

Jaylen's first year

We decided that we’d hold off on having an actual birthday party, knowing Hope has a birthday coming up right around the corner. We still did something small to help recognize his special day. Here are a few highlights from today:

Hope & Jaylen playing early in the day.
happy kids

Hope decorated balloons for her little brother.
balloons decorated by Hope

Hope even made a card to accompany the gift she helped pick out for Jaylen. She’s so sweet to her brother. She wrote:

on the front: Happy Birthday Jaylen – you are a cool bro

on the inside:
I wish you were still little Jaylen but the time has come you were so cute now you are one I love you so much I love you
love Hope to: Jaylen xoxoxoxoxox kisses hugs

you are a cool bro...

Jaylen enjoyed opening his gifts.
opening gifts...

We sang happy birthday to him, he seemed to enjoy it.
Happy birthday to Jaylen!

Of course he loved the cake. He wasn’t so sure what to do at first, but in the end he enjoyed it so much that at one point he was even shaking to reach for it.

So as I reflect on this past year and wished there was a way to freeze time to keep some of the moments from ending, I now instead smile…knowing many great memories are ahead.

Here’s to you little guy…Happy Birthday Jaylen!

If you would like to see photos of Jaylen from the past year you can check them out in flickr.

Published in: on October 13, 2008 at 1:16 am  Comments (18)  

My velociraptor

This past month I was humored to hear Jaylen’s crying compared to a velociraptor. He’s started to become much more vocal and and expressive, which includes his cries. So the next time you watch Jurassic Park you may just think you’re hearing my baby dinosaur crying. Here’s a little video I took of him yesterday (January 24, 2008):

Though he’s got a shrieking cry, I must admit it’s all worth it when we get to experience his true personality shining through. Jaylen is quite an active little baby and can often be found these days smiling and cooing nearly as much as he cries. He really loves to hold conversations with Hope these days. Here’s another video I took yesterday of Jaylen & Hope:

Published in: on January 25, 2008 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Starting the photobooth tradition

December 20, 2007We’re starting a new tradition. As of this month we’re going to take the kids to the photobooth on the monthly anniversary of their birthdays. We’re going to take this time to not only have fun but to look back at the photos taken monthly to see just how much the kids grow over the months and years. On their birthdays I’ll montage the photos for the year for each of them so we can all see just how much they’ve grown over the year!

With how much technology has changed over the years with digital photography you might ask why waste the time, right? Well, I certainly love starting traditions that give the kids something fun to look forward to. I remember growing up how much fun the photbooths were. I figure it’ll let them have a little fun, act silly, and just capture some cute moments that they’ll remember.

Though I use to love photobooths, I have begun to wonder myself who really pays to use those photobooths that you find in the malls, etc. – especially now that most people own digital cameras. And though I’d love to take credit for this idea, apparently others started it long before I did. In fact, in flickr there are groups for photobooth photos. How fun!

So keep an eye out in flickr for new photobooth photos every month.

Published in: on December 21, 2007 at 12:43 am  Comments (1)  


I realize it’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone, but understandably we’ve been quite busy. My how time flies! This past week we’ve had a lot to celebrate – Hope’s 6th birthday and Jaylen is now 6 weeks old. It’s amazing how much life has changed these last few months!

HopeHope is certainly enjoying being a big sister. She runs to help with Jaylen just about everytime he cries. He’s the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up and when she gets home from school. I couldn’t help but laugh today when she told me she had a headache from all Jaylen’s crying. I was curious how she’d handle all the crying that comes those first few weeks and joked with her one day when he was quite fussy – asking if perhaps we should take him back or trade him in. She responded, “no way Mommy, he’s my baby brother”. There’s no doubt that she’s proud to be a big sister.

Hope’s also still enjoying school. She talks about school constantly throughout the day. She’s learning to read and I’m quite impressed with how well she’s picking up new words. Over a week ago she even performed in a play at school with all the other kindergarteners called “Bugs”. She was a cute little lady bug. It was adorable seeing how much she enjoyed singing and performing with the other little kids.

Jaylen @ 6 weeks 2 days oldJaylen has grown beyond belief in these last six weeks. When he was four weeks old he was the same weight and height (10 1/2 lbs and 22 inches) as Hope at 2 months old. In fact, he’s quickly grown out of most of his newborn clothes. He’s beginning to get a lot more expressive, making little noises, grunts, and smiles. Though we miss him being itty bitty – we’re anxious to watch him as he grows through all the cute stages to come.

Published in: on November 25, 2007 at 8:23 pm  Comments (2)  

Sharing a few videos

We thought we’d share a few videos with you all. It’s been cute watching Hope and Jaylen the first ten days since he was born. Hopefully this helps those of you who live further away and aren’t able to see the two of them that often.

Hope Introduces Jaylen Nathaniel (October 14, 2007)

Hope spells Jaylen’s name (October 14, 2007)
Hope spells Jaylen’s name for those of you who still aren’t sure how to spell it.

Jaylen’s hair (October 14, 2007)
This one’s for you Mom…I couldn’t resist. I know this should bring back memories of me when I was little “petting” a baby’s hair.

Who’s doing all the hard work… (Oct 14, 2007)
Jason was sure to capture the first time I was on the computer after having the baby – you’ve got to love his humor!

A chronic case of the hiccups (October 17, 2007)
While Jaylen was in the hospital last week we captured this cute video of him hiccuping.

Hope feeding Jaylen (October 18, 2007)
Hope feeds Jaylen his first bottle.

Jaylen in his swing – take 1 (October 21, 2007)
These three videos Hope took of Jaylen in his swing are hilarious.

Jaylen in his swing – take 2 (October 21, 2007)

Jaylen in his swing – take 3 (October 21, 2007)

Hope’s the boogie man (October 21, 2007)
Hope is so silly in this video – so for all of you who think she’s a quiet little kiddo this should show you just how silly she can be.

Published in: on October 22, 2007 at 7:56 pm  Comments (10)  

A blessing in disguise

restingI never would have imagined I’d spend five days of the last week since having Jaylen in the hospital. In fact, the first two nights home with the little guy went really well and we presumed he was doing just fine, that is until we went in to the routine doctor’s visit. Originally we thought the pediatrician might have been a little too cautious by sending us to the ER with Jaylen to do labwork for jaundice, turning a dusky color when crying (also referred to as cyanosis) and having a heartrate that was slightly lower than normal – but after all we’ve been through and now learning how serious things could have gotten we are so thankful that things were caught this early on.

This isn't too comfyIt’s definitely been a tough few days. We’ve sat by Jaylen’s side at the hospital and watched him under go blood work, catheters, an EKG, xrays and ultrasounds (of his heart, kidneys, and bladder), a spinal tap and a VCUG procedure of his kidneys and bladder. Initially they had concerns about his heart, kidneys and bladder. Just the thought of anything being seriously wrong with him was especially difficult for us to accept. Luckily the tests Jaylen underwent showed that everything was normal and functioning properly. As you might imagine it was so difficult seeing him in pain as he was poked and proded these last couple of days, but fortunately all of these procedures were done as a precaution due the initial concern of cyanosis. However, his labwork did come back positive for a urinary tract infection. We were told that in newborns infections can be very serious and should not be taken lightly because something like a urinary tract infection can easily spread to other areas fast in newborns. So we had to sit and wait for 48 hours as more labwork and procedures were completed to rule out any other infections or abnormalities internally. Thankfully all of the tests came back normal and Jaylen just needs to be given antibiotics for the next week.

Stay strongWhat was the hardest for us was that we never even felt as though anything was wrong with Jaylen – so to take a trip to the ER and have umpteen procedures done on him when we originally thought he just needed labwork completed was a shock for us. But looking back now we certainly understand and appreciate the thoroughness of the pediatrician’s desire to prove everything is okay with Jaylen. So I guess this stressful time has been what some of you have been telling me – a blessing in disguise. It undoubtedly has helped me appreciate how fortunate we are. Though this was a tough time for us we found ourselves especially lucky after seeing just how serious some of the situations other families are dealing with at the hospital with their sick children.

After a long 2 1/2 days, we’re finally home now and finding a way to settle back into a routine at home. As I sit here and reflect on these last few days – I have to admit that there’s no doubt just how blessed we are. We’ve decided to share some of the pictures we’ve taken these last few days in the hospital with everyone (visit our pictures in flickr to see the photos). As you can see from the photos, this experience has only strengthened the love we have for Jaylen.

Our little blessingThanks to all of you who have expressed concern, shown support, or have went out of your way to help us this last week. And yes, we realize there are still many of you who may be finding all this out for the first time as you read this. Just know it was tough for us to repeat telling this entire experience with everyone. We also didn’t want to alarm everyone before we knew more details and results of tests. Thankfully this entire ordeal has had a happy ending and we can now move on with raising this little guy.

Published in: on October 18, 2007 at 6:37 pm  Comments (11)  

Finally – he’s here!

Momma's boyThe last few weeks have seemed to last forever, so we’re thrilled to announce that our baby boy has finally arrived!

So, can you please finally tell us his name?
Jaylen Nathaniel Kern.

And how’d you pick the name?
We’ve had the name Jaylen picked since before we had Hope when we were deciding on boy names before we knew that she was a girl. Nathaniel was chosen due to it’s biblical context, and much like Hope’s middle name (Elisabeth), it means “gift of God” – which is exactly what he is.

So how big was he when he was born?

Thankfully, only 7 pounds 8 ounces. He was 20 1/2 inches long. Though he’s bigger than Hope – we think he’s just the right size!

And when was he born?

We are so fortunate that he was born the day between Jason and my 10th wedding anniversary and my birthday. Jaylen was officially born at 4:42pm on Friday, October 12th, 2007.

That must have been fun spending your birthday in the hospital, right?
Sure, honestly he’s the best birthday gift I could have received!

So what does Hope think about being a big sister?

DSC_0098.JPG She’s thrilled. She loves to hold him and helps whenever we need it. She’s adjusting amazingly to all the changes that come with being a big sister. She was so cute this morning as we were admiring her little brother, she reassured me by saying, “I think you’re going to be a good mommy, Momma”

So seriously Amanda, what took you so long to update us? We figured we would have heard the news on Friday!
Yes, we can joke – but I seriously do not have my laptop connected to me as some of you might think, especially during delivery, recovery and caring for a newborn. It wasn’t until last night that I had the energy to post pictures.

All joking aside – we are curious to hear how you’re doing since having Jaylen?
Not too bad, just recovering from the typical things that come during post pregnancy – but I’m starting to regain my energy and eager to get moving around again.

We’re a little anxious to see pictures of the guy, where can we see pictures?
As always, I’ve been posting pictures in flickr. We’ve made some public, but many are private and only available to those that we’ve listed as a contact in flickr. If you haven’t joined flickr yet – go join so you can see the rest of the pictures!!! We also hope to post a few videos to share with you all soon – so stay tuned.

Do you have anything else you want to tell everyone?
We can’t thank everyone enough for their support. It’s overwhelming and very reassuring to see all of the care, support and generousity that has come our way these last few months.

Is there anything else we can do?
Well, if you still haven’t voted for me for that scholarship you can take a minute to go vote! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The voting deadline is October 28, 2007.

Published in: on October 14, 2007 at 2:05 pm  Comments (26)