• Children

    Noah, Myah and Bria on the run

    The last time I photographed the B. Family, Bria smashed a cake for her first birthday.

    They sure have grown and changed in a year and a half…

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    After waiting out a typical spring Alberta snow storm we met for their photos on Noah’s 8th birthday…

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    He’s an amazing big brother to his sisters. Their protector for life…

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    Now photographing a 2 year old has it’s challenges. Much of the session went like this…

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    Their patient Mom (who happens to be celebrating a birthday today) knows them well, she played their favourite music which brought on a little dance party. Out of nowhere, Bria pulled out a summersault…

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    Myah is a sweetheart, she was pretty proud to wear her beautiful spring dress.

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    Thank you for the fun session! Happy birthday Noah and Kristine!

    From my heart to yours,

    Christine

  • Children,  Couples,  Maternity

    The Family We Choose

    Meet the Little Family…

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    They are our family. Not by blood, but through years of growing, memories, good times & hard times, much laughter, many bottles of red wine (soon Char can toast with us again), and a whole lot of love. We’ve been through so many of life’s roller coaster events together, and I am so honoured to be a part of documenting this next exciting chapter for their beautiful family…baby #2.

    Our plan was to rent a Studio location downtown to achieve the full-of-light, ethereal, romantic feel we were going for, but they were thrown a big curve ball when Char went into pre-term labour. Thankfully, they were able to stop the contractions; however, at a cost of one Momma at home for the next few weeks putting her feet up and relaxing.  This is no small task for active, vivacious, full-of-energy Char.

    So an at-home session it was, and I’m really pleased with how it all turned out. Sometimes things are just meant to be.

    Shy, proud to be 3, and her little buddy Duke…

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    She’s going to be the best Little big sister ever…

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    She’s so adorable! She’s our little buddy.

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    Her Mom and Dad shower her with a ridiculous amount of love and support…

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    Char is glowing at 34 weeks…

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    Char and Barry compliment one another perfectly. They are an amazing couple who we love and respect so much…

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    Thank you for another great session! I can’t wait to meet “Mini” Little.

    From my heart to yours,

    Christine

  • Personal,  Travel Eye Candy

    First Family Vacation to Sandos Playacar ~ Part 2

    Yesterday, I posted the first part of our first ever family tropical adventure to Sandos Playacar Resort & Spa in the Mayan Riviera. Check it out HERE. I’m posting a ton of pictures for those who are also researching the resort and want some visual eye candy and tips.

    There was so much to see and do at Sandos.

    We spent most of our days lounging and swimming under swaying palm trees at the main pool.

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    My kids loved the mini golf which snaked it’s way into an eco sanctuary under the canopy of vegetation where monkeys would jump from tree to tree, iguana’s would scurry past, and the sounds of a peacock floated in the humid breeze. Check out the archery and tennis courts as well.

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    tip: climb up the treehouse, and there’s a couple of comfy seats up there to relax in and read a book.

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    Beside the mini golf in the La Bambola bar, there is THE BEST Crepe station filled with the ingredients of your choice made by the kindest woman named Rosalinda. She was so good to my kids, and they came back often, thank you!

    Tip: Try Nutella or Chocolate with peanut butter topped with soft ice cream. So good!

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    We booked a Hacienda suite so all 5 of us could stay together (2 double beds, and a pullout, there’s also a 2 bedroom option). The Hacienda’s are a block of 8 suites centrally located with shared access to a private pool, hot tub, and swinging hammocks. We felt like we had our very own pool, as it wasn’t occupied by other families most of the time.

    Tip: there are golf cart transports around the resort if your room is further away from the beach.

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    If you need some further relaxation, book a massage either in the Spa or right on the beach. There’s also a gym by the spa if you’d rather work than relax 😉 The trainer there is very helpful and will give you tips/advice on your workout.

    Tip: before you go for your massage, visit their steam room and hot tubs.

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    The entrance to the spa…

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    I had read that it’s a bit of a walk from some of the rooms to the beach. I loved every second of the walk and often took the long way through trails of lush green vegetation greeted by the sounds of monkeys and birds. This trip may have cured my illogical fear of birds 😉

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    Another favourite part for my kids was the cupcake cafe and the Teen club (next to the meeting point). I think they ate their weight in cupcakes and enjoyed the arcade in the evening.

    Tip: try the “Michael Jackson” cupcake, the cheesecake, fresh fruit smoothie, and the iced mocha coffee.

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    If you are looking for something to do Ocean side, try the daily Zumba, beach volley ball, collect seashells, enjoy some drinks & food at the Bagel Cafe, or kick back for a siesta on a lounging bed while you listen to the gentle ocean waves.

    Tip: try the Miami Vice slushy drink or order a Dirty Monkey

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    The food! There were many options to eat from Buffets to a la Carte. We loved the food there. You will never ever go hungry. Like ever. Breakfast was our favourite and kept us going right until supper.

    Tip: Try the Brazilian and the Steakhouse a la carte, and if it’s busy at the Festival buffet, go around the corner to the Italian buffet where you have access to both buffets (they are connected). We loved the atmosphere at the Italian Buffet.

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    The entrance to the Italian buffet…

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    I saw this on my walk, and I assume it’s used to cook.

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    We checked out bikes one day (included in your all-inclusive) and road them to the local market in Playacar which is very close (there’s even a Starbucks at the market).

    Tip: We found just as many treasures at the Playacar market than at 5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen. I enjoyed the no-hassle atmosphere of the smaller Playacar market and the bike ride there was so pretty.

    Our biking trip before and after…My husband was so excited to find the biggest fishing hat, I laughed all the way home watching that big hat flop around in the breeze. ha!

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    In the evening there are shows to enjoy in the Theatre or by the Festival buffet.

    Tip: Check out the Circus show, we absolutely loved it.

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    We ended our trip with a family photo shoot on the beach at sunset. Because I’m a photographer, we asked someone to take a photo for us, but there is a Photoshop there with great photographers who are excited to capture your family experience. What’s a family vacation without photos to remember it?

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    There’s so much more you can do in Mexico that we didn’t even get to in our week there. We will definitely be back to explore some more!

    Thank you to the wonderful staff at Sandos Playacar, you made our stay perfectly memorable. I will always treasure ever memory we made there as a family.

    If you want to book yourself a little trip, check out their website: http://www.sandos.com/hotel-playacar-in-playa-del-carmen.htm

    or find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sandos.Playacar.Resort?ref=br_tf

    From my happy heart to yours,

    Christine

  • Personal,  Travel Eye Candy

    Our First Tropical Family Vacation to Sandos Playacar Mexico ~ Part 1

    Living under a direct flight path near the Edmonton International Airport in snowy cold Alberta, I see many planes fly overhead everyday and I always wonder what magical destination they are flying to. We have happily dropped off many a family friend to the airport, yet our family of 5 has dreamed of our very own tropical vacation as we have never travelled outside of Canada together. We finally saved our pennies, and as our oldest son will be 18 this year, we figured 2014 was our year to fly. I’m a researcher (it’s annoying really), and for weeks I researched different resorts and destinations. I quickly realized it’s no small task finding a nice yet affordable resort that is family-of-5 friendly. Most resorts tailor their room bookings to maximum occupancy 4 (thank you Tanya Schneider, at Fareconnect for all your help). Our friends recommended Sandos Palyacar, a convenient 40 minute drive from beautiful and sunny Cancun, Mexico. I spent weeks pouring over reviews and searching for photos. This is the main reason for this lengthly post, in hopes other families will find it useful in their research.

    After much annoying research, I was confident that Sandos Playacar was a perfect fit for our family as there are many activities for our kids (ages 9, 12, and 17) plus lots of perks for us adults too. We booked a Hacienda suite for all 5 of us, which included a smaller pool, hot tub, and hammocks right outside our door (shared pool space with 8 other suites, but we mostly had it to ourselves). My kids were over the moon excited, they have never been on a plane or dipped their toes in an ocean. We needed this time together as a family.

    Finally, the much dreamed about day arrived, and we travelled to the airport through a typical Alberta spring blizzard. My kids giggled in their seat as our plane took off. My daughter wrote a special entry in her journal during the flight…

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    Five and half hours later we arrived and the heat hit us like a warm welcoming hug defrosting the Alberta icicles of our soul (we’ve had a loooooong winter, no exaggeration). The sun was setting as we travelled to Sandos Playacar, the palm trees were gently swaying in the humid hot breeze and we pulled up to the resort.

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    Check in was quick and we were all served something cool to drink. We were whisked off to our “Hacienda” via a lively little golf cart ride. It was dark at that point, so the next morning carried with it so much eye candy this photographer geek didn’t know what to do with herself.

    We awoke to the sounds of birds of paradise as beams of sunlight flooded our room. My husband and I enjoyed a fresh cup of hot coffee on our patio as the kids quickly wiped the sleep out of their eyes and jumped into the little pool outside our room.

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    Palm trees, coconuts, pools filled with happy families, mayan ruins, a peacock, monkeys, donkeys, papaya trees, vibrant flowers, and the most pristine beautiful white sandy beach along the crystal clear blue green ocean awaited us just a few sandy steps away.

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    The first thing we did was take our kids to see the ocean.

    This moment right here? My kids very first toes in the sand ocean wave experience…

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    Yay I have long arms, they come in handy…

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    We quickly learned the staff at the Sandos Playacar resort are very kind, friendly and helpful. We booked an excursion through the resort with “Mystic Adventure” to see 2 Cenotes via Quads. The word “Cenote” is derived from the Mayan word “dzonot” which means sacred well.  A cenote is a natural phenomenon, a fresh water sink hole that the ancient Mayan civilization used as their main source of fresh water. The Mayans also believed the Cenotes had healing properties and considered many of them to be sacred; an portal to the underworld to communicate with the Gods.

    The first Cenote we quadded to was small, refreshing, and beautiful.  A private paradise in the middle of the jungle rich in history and meaning.

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    The second Cenote we went too is called “Dos Ojos” meaning “two eyes”. It’s actually two circular cenotes which provides many areas to scuba dive, snorkel, swim, and explore under a canopy of limestone. It was amazing!

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    I wasn’t sure how my 9 year old daughter would do with her first snorkelling experience, but I should never have doubted her, she did great.

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    We all loved it, definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

    We attempted an underwater family shot…

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    After noticing our family flailing around in the water with a camera, our tour guide offered to get in the water and take one for us 🙂

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    After enjoying a hot tamale we headed back to our resort to explore even more that Sandos has to offer.

    Read more about Sandos Playacar in PART 2 of our family adventure: click HERE 🙂

    From my happy heart to yours,

    Christine