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Ben & Mackenzie’s Lifestyle Session || Eighth and Roast

Eighth and Roast is a little coffee shop tucked away in the industrial-chic section of 8th Avenue in downtown Nashville. It boasts gourmet java and a very friendly staff (they were super nice about us shooting there!). I’d never been before, but when Ben, Mackenzie and I were all brainstorming their session, this place came up right away. We were looking for a super casual space that would both showcase them as a couple (naturally), and not be too engagement-y (I know, not a word). Since coffee is sort of a huge thing for them, and they are kind of that hipster-chic couple, this space ended up being PERFECT!

SarahMariePhotography_0209They supplied us with these blue mugs when they found out we were doing a session. It even matches the outfits!SarahMariePhotography_0210I stayed away and asked them to have a real conversation and kiss “when they felt like it.” As we went along, that became a little more often:-)The snuggles in the in-between were so precious though and they were so comfortable with each other.SarahMariePhotography_0211Doing these kinds of “love sessions” after a few years of marriage is super important I think. Most people get engagement pictures, wedding pictures, and then pictures of their kids forever and ever, and they lose focus that it all started with them. Even if you have kids, you should still have these kinds of moments with your spouse, and be proud of it!SarahMariePhotography_0212SarahMariePhotography_0213Ben and Mackenzie have been married for two years and they are incredibly cute together. They needed some shots to freshen up their home, and since Mackenzie is a hair genius, we traded services!SarahMariePhotography_0214Flirting=AWESOMENESSSarahMariePhotography_0215SarahMariePhotography_0216We wanted to get a few of them by themselves to use for jobs and, of course, profile pictures!SarahMariePhotography_0217This was so much fun. Ben and Mackenzie are the nicest people and I’m so blessed to know them! It was hot outside, but good company can overcome that any day, and the result was just magic.SarahMariePhotography_0218Love you guys! I hope you’re as in love with these as I am! Thanks for coming out with me and making it a blast!!

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Me, the Do-It-Yourselfer ||DIY Headboard

Me! I did this! What?!

I’m not very crafty. Granted, I want to be crafty, and I try really hard, but it doesn’t come natural to me. I would love to learn how to do woodwork and make jewelry, or come up with cool crafts and learn to paint, but if I ever do that, it will take me a lot of time and effort. So, since I am now a stay at home mom with no kids while I wait for our foster placement, I have time to spare, so I’m getting stuff done! I decided that our kids room is REALLY cute, but not totally complete. I have two ideas in mind, and one I completed in one day! I made a headboard! This blog won’t be a step by step blog, but I will post the link to where I learned how to do this. It’s surprisingly easy and fast and I really love the result.

1-SarahMariePhotography_0197This was the bed before. It just looks lonely in that corner and needed a boost. At first I measured for just a headboard, but later saw what it looked like with a corner piece, and decided to do that instead.

I got all of my supplies at Home Depot and Joann’s. Altogether, it was about $100, but I also had to buy a staple gun and staples, so I was completely starting from scratch. I got board, batting, fabric, a staple gun, staples, and a hanging mount (which I later returned). Here’s the blog I followed to do this:

2-SarahMariePhotography_0196The hardest part of this by far was picking out the fabric and then hanging the headboard up. I needed something neutral, and all the fabrics I liked were too girly or too expensive. I ultimately found one, but I spent a lot more time at Joann’s than I anticipated. We tried hanging mounts to attach the headboard to the wall, but the board was so thin (I used 1/4 inch) that the screws would poke through the wood. We finally ended up just using huge nails and nailing it to the wall, but BOY it took a long time. Since nailing it to the wall was not my original goal, I hadn’t made pilot holes and it took a lot of elbow grease to finally get it up. I do like the way it looks though, and when I find out if we are getting a boy or a girl, I will cover those holes with the appropriate colored buttons.3-SarahMariePhotography_0198Ta da! I just love this little nook and how it turned out! It’s comfy and secure, and makes it look like the bed is more permanent. What do you think? Do you like the polka dots?!

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Ryker’s Newborn Session || Sarah-Marie Photography

I met Ryker’s family about a year and a half ago when his brother was born and they booked a Baby’s First Year package with me. At that time I was still a little green with the newborns, but we spent a lot of time and Kian’s pictures were soooo cute! Fast forward to a year later and right before I was about to get all misty-eyed because the last session was over and I wouldn’t likely see the family until 2 year pictures, mommy let me know that she was expecting another client! Those were her words, not mine, and I thought it was adorable! Well, that little client has arrived and he is just as precious a his predecessors. His sister Kaya presented me with an adorable handwritten card upon arrival at their home, and Kian pretended to go all shy on me. He was a little tough to get with his new brother, but by the end he was super smiley and we got something really cute! Ryker was veeeery interested in what I was doing so he never fell asleep, but he was still very snuggly and we had a good time. I can’t wait for the next session with them, coming up soon!!SarahMariePhotography_0192We snuck that last shot in of Ryker and Kian. We were pretty tricky.SarahMariePhotography_0193I love this last one. All three kids are kind of doing their own thing, but they just exude comfort with each other and that sibling bond that usually takes a lot more time to come around.SarahMariePhotography_0194Baby feet and hands. So sweet.SarahMariePhotography_0195He’s only pretending to sleep in these. They were blinks!

I can’t believe I just told you my trade secrets…..

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We Are Licensed Foster Parents! Now What?

13 days ago we found out we were finally licensed. It was Friday, May 1st and we got the email while we were eating dinner, and we were so excited. SO excited. We cheered out loud, and when we were in bed talking that night, we talked about when we thought it would happen, and (half) joked that we hoped we wouldn’t get a placement call that weekend because we had picnic plans on Saturday and Avengers in theaters on Sunday. The following Tuesday we got our first call while at MC (Missional Community or small group for church) and it was nerve-wracking, but ultimately pretty painless. It didn’t end up working out and we haven’t gotten a call since. So, we are licensed. Now what? We’ve gotten a lot of questions from people about how this all works, and it seems that mostly people are a little fuzzy about how it all works, so here it is!

We wait.


No really, that’s how this part goes. We wait and wait for a placement call, and in the meantime nothing much happens. The placement call is kind of a vetting process. Basically a child comes into a new foster home two ways. Either they are already in foster care with another family and that family has to “disrupt the placement” or they are coming into foster care for the first time because of a myriad of reasons. Sometimes those placements are overnight (emergency placements) or a few days or a few months or even years. You rarely know how long you will be with the child when they come into your home, and even emergency placements can end up being longer term sometimes. The placement call is usually not only to one foster home. Usually the caseworker assigned to the child(ren) calls or at least attempts to call several families who might be a good fit and finds out if they are willing to take the placement. Your willingness to take that placement might depend on age, amount of kids already in your home, their history and whether you are equipped to care for their particular needs, amount of kids in the placement and the room in your home, when the placement will take place, how far away they need to travel for school, visits or therapy, and many other things. After they find out which families can do it, they pick the family that they believe will be the best fit for that child or group. So getting a call is only the first step, it doesn’t mean you’ll get a child in your home.


When you do find out you’ll be placed with a child or sibling group, you could have a half hour’s notice or weeks ahead of time, depending on the situation. If a child has just come into care suddenly or is an emergency placement while they seek out family members (like in the case of a serious accident), you might get them VERY quickly, even in the middle of the night. If your child is coming from another home who cannot keep them, but it isn’t because of an emergency, you may have a lot more time, and maybe even a transition period, although those are usually for adoptive placements. Adoptive placements don’t happen as often because if a child becomes available for adoption, the first people they ask are the current foster parents. Only if they say no do they look for foster homes that might want to adopt. You can see now why the process could take a very long time! Most of the time my understanding is that you might have a day’s notice once you get the call.

SarahMariePhotography_0190So that’s how it works! Once you get a child or children in your home there are a lot of things to do. For placements that are new to the system you have three days to go to a doctor and get a physical, you have a month to go to the dentist, and of course there is figuring out the school situation and such for older kids. You aren’t allowed to homeschool foster kids so that won’t be an option. A lot of kids come into the system with very very little, sometimes only the clothes on their back, so those first few days can be kind of hectic. Plus, of course, you need to bond with the child. Grand trips to the zoo are out, and play dates right away are definitely not helpful. Time in the home to get used to everything, establish a rhythm and bond are incredibly important. I’ll hopefully be making some freezer meals in anticipation of this!

We have been given SO much stuff from people, it

We have been given SO much stuff from people, it’s filled up our garage!!

One more thing. I’ve been a part of several foster care groups in Facebook since December and have learned a lot from them. One thing that I think is not too obvious and I wanted to share with my friends and family is that it is not proper or kind to call the kids “foster kids” around them. If strangers compliment me on their smile I will simply say “thank you,” I won’t correct them. If you see me in church with a new child and am trying to register for Sunday school, ask me their name, but that’s about it. I can’t and wouldn’t share intimate details with you about their lives, and of course you wouldn’t want them to feel weird about just popping in. The most important thing is for me to treat them exactly as I would a biological child, and for you to do the same. I have an amazing group of friends, church family and regular family 😉 and I am not worried about this even a tiny bit, but I would be remiss to write this blog about what to expect and not say it. I can’t wait to welcome a new child into our home, whether they stay a short while or forever! I can’t wait to immerse them in the wonderful life that we have, and to do whatever we can to make them feel loved. I am so excited that I have so many friends who want to help and babysit and contribute and I am so so thankful. Here we go!

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My Dreams Are Coming True

Age four. That’s the earliest I can remember deciding that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. By then I had two or three sisters (depending on if it was the beginning of the age four or the end) and always helped my mom with them. Of course I had my first doll (I still have it actually, although she’s a hot mess. Her name is Carrie.) that I took along with me, and I remember that learning to cook food seemed to be the most important thing to learn. Of course along the way I had aspirations of being a figure skater (too poor and too tall) or an actress (too impractical), but mostly I stayed true to course. Even in high school when I was trying to decide what I wanted to become I nixed Photojournalist, Chef and Writer because they were too time intensive, and instead debated between Teacher (so that I could be home when the kids were) and Photographer (so I could set my own hours). I guess you know which one ultimately won out…

The desire for foster parenting came a little later, as a senior in high school. I always planned to homeschool my own kids, but as I did research I learned that you can’t homeschool foster kids, so even waaaaay before I could, I knew I had to pick a house in a county with good schools. Jason and I even talked about fostering and me wanting to be a stay at home mom on the first date! It was kind of a big moment too. We’d spent about 12 hours together non-stop, and during that time (and the time before when we were chatting on eHarmony) I checked everything off of my list for a future husband except for that one thing. When we got to the end and he was excited about that plan, I knew I’d found the guy I was going to marry. That was one heck of a first date!

So my dreams, since I was so little, and then expanded upon about 11 years ago, are finally coming true! Granted, it’s not the way I planned. I always thought I would have one or two kids of my own, wait until they were about 10 years old, and then start fostering younger kids, with the foster kids getting older as my biological kids got older. It’s been nearly two years now since we started trying to have a family, and it seems God wants us to start fostering now instead of later. It is well with me! Trying (and failing) to have kids for so long has been incredibly difficult at times, but since January when we started taking classes to become licensed, I have been blessed with an overwhelming peace about it. I wasn’t high strung or stressed before, but this is a new level of contentment that I am so happy to have.

Our color scheme is gray, yellow and teal! It

Our color scheme is gray, yellow and teal! It’s not all done, but I love how it’s coming!

I’m excited, ECSTATIC, about the thought of having kids in my home in a few months (or less). We have been over the top blessed with clothing and toy donations from so many people and have a full heart from the support people have shown us. We have a bedroom set up, toys all arranged, outlets that are plugged up and even a land line (I know, I didn’t even know you could still buy those!) in our kitchen. Right now we are waiting on all the paperwork to go through the government channels so that we can be licensed, and when that happens it could be hours before kids come (or months, but I doubt it). So what about my dream from age four? Well, I’ve given my notice at the home where I’ve been a nanny for almost two and half years, and starting in May I will be a stay at home mom. I am so so over the moon, it’s actually kind of hard to even write about. We are ready. SO ready. It’ll be a drastic life change, a major income reduction, a lot of hard work and be full of plenty of drama, but I am ready. I was meant for this. Made for it. Maybe my body was never meant for my own kids, but my heart was made ready for this a long time ago, and I. Can’t. Wait.

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