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Home Life Christmas || Spring Hill Photography

This family. They are special. I’ve been photographing the Jones’ for so long that the kids know what I mean when I say “test shot” and “pose.” Since we started when the middle one was an infant and have done two back-to-back Baby’s First Year Sessions, I’ve seen them pretty much every three months for the last two years. Lucky me, because they are sooooo wonderful. The kids are smart and funny and have the cutest smiles, and mom and dad are so kind and welcoming and make me feel like family when I come over. For this session we themed it Christmas, and I am SO excited to share it because it’s just stinkin’ cute!!!SarahMariePhotography_0333We started with the family pictures, and I just love the way they each have their own personalities shining through!SarahMariePhotography_0330Cute as buttons, these three.SarahMariePhotography_0329When we changed into PJs, the magic happened! I can’t even say how much I love this set.SarahMariePhotography_0328SarahMariePhotography_0327And they got to open presents for the occasion! These are the kind of kids that are grateful no matter what, so their expressions are sooooo sweet as they open up and see their little gift. They act like it’s the most exciting thing in the world!SarahMariePhotography_0325But of course in typical child form, the bag/box/wrapping is always more exciting than the actual present 😉SarahMariePhotography_0326SarahMariePhotography_0324Love this head in the bag…SarahMariePhotography_0323SarahMariePhotography_0322We decided to finish with a “night before Christmas” set. Sleeping first…SarahMariePhotography_0321Then running to the tree….SarahMariePhotography_0319And finishing off with the cutest reaction ever.SarahMariePhotography_0320Christmas always produces my favorite sessions ever, and this is no exception!

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Our Foster Family Christmas || Tree Decorating

Last night we decorated our Christmas tree as a family.
 
I’m not sure if you remember, but last January is when we started foster care classes, and one year ago is when we made the decision to go ahead and become foster parents. Jason and I had talked about being foster parents in our first date– it was always part of the plan. Doing it this early though was a direct result of our struggle with infertility. We always planned on having our own kids first and then when they got a little older we would begin fostering very young kids, raising the age as our own kids got older. Fostering before we had kids was never ever even thought about. When we went two years with no kids though we felt we were being led to start sooner. Why waste time when we have no kids anyway and there are kids out there who could need us now? That was our thought process, and I remember last Christmas saying that hopefully this Christmas there would be kids in our home, one way or another. God made that wish come true.
 
Decorating our Christmas tree is easily one of my favorite traditions every year. We go to the same lot every year, pick out a specific kind of tree and set it up the night before. White lights are a must, and though I’m not as precise as my dad always made me be growing up (we had to string each light to a specific branch. It took HOURS), I still weave the lights in and out of the tree to light the whole thing up. This year Cee held the lights behind me so I wouldn’t get tangled and we got it done in an easy 45 minutes. Steven Curtis Chapman’s old CD, “The Music of Christmas” is my absolutely-can’t-decorate-without-it-music-of-choice, and I continue my parents tradition of pizza and punch (made with 7-up and sherbert) for dinner while we decorate. Bee couldn’t believe I put ice cream in her soda, and Cee was singing along with the CD after the third round.
(Continued below. Sorry about the iPhone pictures…)
SarahMariePhotography_0334After the lights were strung up we put on the ornaments. I’m a little OCD about my ornaments, but I let Kay hang hers all in a row on the SAME branch, and then snuck them somewhere else later when she didn’t notice. She exclaims “I did it!” after every one and took a hug for that accomplishment each time. Cee wanted to reach to the top for EVERY ornament (just because she could) and we had to tone that down a bit, and Bee takes direction very well and carefully hung ornaments deep inside the tree as well as on the outside. We start with the generic ornaments, snap pictures, bump into each other, and drink more punch. As we go we start on with the important ornaments. The ones with our pictures on it, the ones we made as kids, Baby’s 1st ornaments, and of course a Hunger Games and Harry Potter ornament. Those ones we hang one at a time, and the girls love the special privileges of hanging those ornaments (Cee was thrilled with the Hunger Games one and Bee loved the globe topped with tiny presents I made one Thanksgiving in Maine when I was about 12 or 13). When its all done everyone gushes. Kay gives the tree a hug, and then another, and Bee says she’s never seen a Christmas tree as beautiful as ours. Cee adds that this is already the best Christmas she has ever had, and my heart is so so full. And I agree with her.
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My 3rd Annual Hunger Games Party || Food and Games

It’s no secret that I’m a little obsessive, and by a little I mean a lot, about The Hunger Games. I have Hunger Games earrings, a necklace, bracelet, night shirt, jogger pants, t-shirt(s), sweater, blanket, key chain, a whole lotta posters and random trinkets, and lots and lots of blogs about it. I’ve seen The Hunger Games movie 16 times, read through all the books five times, and my ringtone, text tone, and alarm clock are all Hunger Games music. I also want to say that I ace pretty much every trivia test out there. So yeah….

Introducing my 3rd Annual Hunger Games party! My first party I arranged for the one-year anniversary of the first movie, when we still had EIGHT months to wait for Catching Fire. That was a miserable wait…

My second party I planned before Mockingjay last year spur-of-the-moment when I realized one of my friends hadn’t read the books or seen the movies, and I had to get her caught up fast! This year for my third party (I should probably have 74 right? Sounds doable.) it’s for the release of the final Hunger Games movie.

Honestly, I can’t tell if I’m more sad or more excited that it’s coming. I just don’t want it to end!!! I know a lot of people didn’t like the last book, especially the ending. The most common complaints? Too rushed, not enough languishing over deaths, and a not-super-happy ending. I agree, but I am very excited because I really believe the movie can fix every one of those things, and it could possibly become the best of the series (I don’t know though, Catching Fire was incredible). So, as we wait and see, here is my party!!!

First, the decor. I have kept my Hunger Games magazines from each year, and they make great decoration. The photo in the middle was from the official Hunger Games Exhibition in New York City (yes, I planned an entire trip to NYC so I could go to the exhibit…), and the banner I made with this amazing FREE printout!

I planned this all with Pinterest, so if you want to follow my board, here you go.

Hunger Games DecorMy husband is a Graphic Designer and made this amazing Katniss poster below, as well as the two other signs. You can visit his Etsy shop here.Hunger Games ArtworkAs people came in, they entered the Reaping, grabbed two “Mockingjay Pins” (clothespins) and two stickers (Green for Katniss’ favorite color and orange for Peeta’s).The Reaping BowlI was VERY proud of this display below! I used black chalkboard wall stickers over my table, and recruited two of my kiddos to trim it with orange streamers. Then I put out the snacks and homemade popcorn boxes for movie snackage!Hungry Girl Mix TableMy Hungry Girl Mix consisted of Cornucopias (Bugles), Tracker Jackers (Cracker Jacks), Coal (crushed Oreos with marshmallows), Buttercups (mini Reeses cups), Nightlock (blue M&Ms) and Girl on Fire Crackers (Spicy Cheez-its). If you’re a true Hunger Games fan you’ll know the significance of all those things:-)Hungry Girl Mix IngredientsHungry Girl BowlsThese homemade popcorn boxes were from the same designer as the flag banner above. You can make your own with this link.Arrow Popcorn CupsI really love the way it all came together.Hungry Girl MixNext up, party foods!!!! I am immensely proud of how it turned out! Red, yellow, orange and black were the main color scheme of course, and I saved table space by doing most of the decorations on the wall behind it. I got the two large posters from the movie theater at the Catching Fire release since I was head to toe Katniss in a wet suit for the premiere (the theater manager just stopped by and gave it to me, the story is here), Jason made the other two, and the picture on the table is also from the Hunger Games Exhibit in NYC. The food is the main attraction though, so here goes:

Hunger Games Party Table setup

Hunger Games Party Food TableDistrict 12 Apple Tart. I used this recipe, and included a quote from the books with each food element.

“In the Fall, a few brave souls sneak into the wood to harvest apples. But always in sight of the Meadow.” – Katniss EverdeenApple Tart

My Nightlock Punch made its reappearance for the third year in the row, but this time I used a new recipe that I liked much better. I just made it up with Blue Hawaiian Punch, White Grape Juice and 7-Up. I didn’t do any specific servings of it, just kind of threw it all together. It turned out!

“My father’s voice comes back to me. ‘Not these, Katniss. Never these. They’re nightlock. You’ll be dead before they reach your stomach.’” -Katniss’ Father

Nightlock PunchI don’t know why I never thought of this before, but of course, Haymitch’s favorite drink had to make an appearance…

“All right, I’ll make a deal with you. You don’t interfere with my drinking, and I’ll stay sober enough to help you.” -Haymitch AbernathyHaymitchI love Taquitos, and I thought they made for a better meal than the first year when I used fruit inside waffle cones as the cornucopia, so these made it back for a second year. Yum!

“Just as the first ray of sun glints of the gold cornucopia, there’s a disturbance on the plain.” -Katniss EverdeenChicken CornucopiasPrim’s Goat Cheese Platter was probably my favorite food of the night, with my friend Katherine going ALL out to make it spectacular. She had goat cheese Brie, blueberry Cheddar, dried blueberries, crackers and walnuts, grapes and Lavender Honey all presented beautifully and I about drooled with excitement.

“On the table, under a wooden bowl…sits a perfect little goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves. Prim’s gift to me on reaping day.” -Katniss EverdeenPrimMeatballs are such a great party food, so I’m glad it was easy to fit them into the Hunger Games world foods! Greasy Sae is known to take pretty much any meat and make it a meal, but I’m pretty sure this was beef. We used this recipe.

“Once it’s in the soup, I’ll call it beef.” -Greasy SaeGreasy SaeThis was my third year doing “Peeta” chips and hummus as well, but it still always gets the best reactions. It’s so funny to me! The first time I read the book I thought… “Oh, Peeta? Like Pita? Not like Peter? Okay…” So “Peeta” chips were an obvious choice for a party food, but for some reason people crack up when they see it among the other party foods. So funny.

“To this day, I can never shake the connection between this boy, Peeta Mellark, and the bread that gave me hope…” -Katniss

Peeta ChipsWith a bakery being Peeta’s home, I had to make something special. This was delicious and was the first thing eaten at the party. Here’s the recipe.

“I don’t want to lose the boy with the bread.” -Katniss Everdeen

Mellark Bakery Cheesy BreadThe “Weapons” were back as well.hunger_games_party-57So that made up my Capitol feast! It was quite a spread. If you can believe it, this entire party was $110, but that’s because I asked my friends to bring various foods. I provided the Nightlock Punch, Mellark Bakery Bread and Apple Tart, my friends got the rest. The remainder of the money was spent on the decorations and party supplies and prizes.Hunger Games party foodAfter we all had our fill, it was onto games! We did five party games, all Hunger Games themed, none with a lot of moving around (because we are old). This first one we played was called “Staying Alive.” Here’s how you play, and here’s where I got most of these awesome game ideas.

Staying Alive: As guests arrive, tell them each to take clothespin (Mockingjay Pin) and read a list of words on a sign. I used “play” “fun” and “game”. The way the game works is that if someone gets caught by someone else saying one of the words on the list, they get to take their pin. The person at the end of the party with the most pins wins!

Simultaneously we played “Tribute Battle.” It was reeeeaaally fun! Every time someone “died” I “fired my cannon (Canon)” and took their picture. The credit for that hilarious consequence is my friend Katie.

Tribute Battle: Put one sticker on each person’s back. Draw names to see who you need to “kill” and try to take their sticker (but you can’t tell anyone who you got). The last person standing with a sticker wins!

Staying AliveWhile this was all going on, every ten minutes or so we held a “Reaping.”

The Reaping: As your guests arrive, have them write their name on one slip of paper and put it in the jar. After your guests have all arrived, begin your “reaping.” Every 10-15 minutes, depending on how long your party goes, pull a name out of the jar. Whoever’s name gets selected is out. The final name left in the jar wins a prize!

We also played Real or Not Real Trivia and a Hunger Games Would You Rather? Click on the links to see the questions!

SarahMarie_BeanBoozledYou might be wondering why I’m making these faces? Well that, my friends, was our final game “Nightlock or Not.” It was hilarious! You know Nightlock right? The berries Peeta thought were blueberries or something and almost DIED from??!! Oh, spoiler alert… sorry. The game was basically BeanBoozled, with a vindictive element.You have to eat one, but you also get to pick one other person to share in your misery. Muahahahaha…

Nightlock or Not?: Choose a starter, then work clockwise from there. The first person picks out two Nightlock of the same color and picks who else gets the other one. No picking the same person twice in a row, and you must chew at least four times. Once a person has been picked three times they are dead and don’t eat any more. BeanBoozled ReactionsAccordingly to my friends, Vomit and Dog Food were the worst flavors. Katie and Felicia had the best reactions:Katie and Felicia BeanBoozledYou know how I’ve been mentioning prizes? Well, I definitely had prizes. See that wrapping paper? Can you figure out why I chose it?? No? Well, it’s snowflakes right? Snowflakes? SNOWflakes? President Snow of course! He’s the giver of the “generous” gifts, such as Tesserae, so it’s only fitting. My gifts were ranked 1-5, easiest to hardest, because each one had a Hunger Games element, and you had to figure out what that was before you got your prize.

Prizes:

  1. A box of “Life” cereal. Well, duh, because your life is the ultimate prize in the Hunger Games
  2. Lifesavers. I know I don’t have to explain this one either, these two were basically throwaway answers they were so easy. Here come the harder ones.
  3. Chocolate Barkthins. No…not because of trees, not because of the mutts at the end of movie #1, but because Katniss eats Pine bark in the first Hunger Games when she has yet to find food!
  4. Trident gum. Whose weapon of choice is the 75th Hunger Games? Why Finnick’s of course.
  5. A box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers. Yeah, this one was tough. I was SO proud of myself for coming up with it. Well you know why Panem is called Panem right? Because it means (loosely translated) “bread and circuses.” Animal crackers=bread, Barnum=circus. Boom!

 

President Snow prizesAlso, please note my Hunger Games inspired Jamberry nail wraps, in Pumpkin Spice! I think it looks very “girl on fire.”EveryoneHere’s the whole clan! Man, was that fun! Thank you all so much for coming and bringing food and playing the games with gusto!

Also, for being so dang good looking!

Gay Hope Mayles - November 17, 2015 - 5:36 am

Sounds amazing! I always enjoy your blogs about your parties. Such dedication and devotion and very clever!

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Hubbard Family Newborn Session

I always chuckle a little when I’m doing a session with a brand new person and inevitably (it happens almost every single time), the mom or dad says “Wow, I couldn’t do this job.” I get it. It’s hot (really hot!), baby’s cry a lot and wiggle around while I try to pose them. The other siblings see a new person, or a camera, and want to perform for them instead of take pictures, and it can be hard when you’re wrangling them and keeping a baby asleep at the same time. It takes much longer than any other kind of session, and since baby’s feed on your energy, you have to be happy and calm the whole time. So, yeah, I know why I get that statement so often. But (and this is a big “but”), it’s SO worth it in the end. All that work and heat and exhaustion is forgotten in a second when I get home, upload my pictures and squeal with excitement. I mean, I’m talking calling everyone to the computer to come see this precious newborn (I really do that)! For me its not the fact that my artistic vision is realized or that I know the parents are going to be thrilled, it’s the fact that I know these pictures are going to be with this family, and this 10-day old human for 80 or more years. They are going up on the wall, in baby books, on coffee mugs for grandparents and all over the announcements. They will follow the kid through high school and end up in the embarrassing page of the yearbook when they graduate. Those photos will make their future spouse oooh and aaah as they wonder at the love of their life ever looking so small. Later, their kids will compare themselves with those pictures and then later still, someone will say “that baby looks just like their grandma did as a newborn!” And how will they know? Because for two hours today I spent time in a hot home with a squirmy baby and an excitable kid and made something beautiful of it. What an immense privilege.
untitled-21SarahMariePhotography_0262SarahMariePhotography_0263SarahMariePhotography_0264SarahMariePhotography_0265SarahMariePhotography_0266SarahMariePhotography_0267SarahMariePhotography_0268SarahMariePhotography_0269Thank you to the Hubbard family for letting me capture this beautiful baby girl! She is so incredibly precious!

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Fall Mini Sessions Are Here!

Fall mini sessions have arrived! This time of the year I get SWAMPED, so if I didn’t do mini sessions, there’s no way I could get in even half of the people who are trying to get those annual photos in. I know, it’s important. Today I booked our family’s mini session too, and I am sooooo excited! This is one of those things not to skimp on, and I intend to completely LOVE having kids this year for our photo sessions (we are brand new foster parents). To get in on this excitement, fill out your reservation and pay here: http://www.sarahmarieclicks.com/minisession/ We will be meeting at Aspen Grove park, which has beautiful leaves in October!

Oh by the way, these sessions will go towards our adoption. We are only $2,000 away from our goal and have already started the paperwork and are soooo excited!

Fall-Mini-Sessions banner

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