Mommy & Me Portrait Studios: Blog en-us Mommy & Me Portrait Studios 2021 (Mommy & Me Portrait Studios) Thu, 10 Sep 2020 04:58:00 GMT Thu, 10 Sep 2020 04:58:00 GMT Mommy & Me Portrait Studios: Blog 80 120 Family The Backbone to Our World

...our Families


As I sit here in front of a blank screen I struggle with the words that are racing through my head.  It has never been easy to articulate just what I am feeling or thinking, but it's time to talk about something so important... our families.  Our families love us for who we are and not what we can do for them.  They teach us how to look out for others and not just ourselves, they are a warm hug and kind word when you are struggling and they are our biggest cheer leaders when we have accomplished that oh so hard goal in our lives.

Our families pass down wisdom and knowledge to help us from making the same mistakes they made, yet these words are often dismissed by us in our younger years and often hoped for when it is too late to get their advice.  While we are young we can take on the world and our family is there to love us whether we find our wings and fly or we find gravity to be a bit too much and we fall on our faces.  Our family holds on to memories that make us laugh until we cry, and lend a hand of comfort when we experience a loss like no other.  We learn how to love people and how to become more aware of others intentions.  Compassion, kindness, love, empathy, strength, self worth, a sense of belonging, pride, and hopefulness are just the tip of the iceberg when we talk about what we receive and what we give to our family.  

There is a reason why belonging to a family is so important, we thrive when we are allowed to fail and still feel loved.  When we make drastic mistakes and are not worthy of compassion, but they show us we will find our way if we only continue to get back up and try again.  An unconditional love... other that my Lord Jesus, there is no other than family.  This family is not only bound by blood, my step dad was the best daddy I could have had.  He loved me like no other.  I often tell my son he has his grandpa's facial expressions even though that is not possible.  He was very young when we spent time with my dad.  And just because there is a blood bond, doesn't mean they are family.  I was sexually molested by my biological father until I was ten.  The very one I needed to be protected from was my own blood.  Without him I would not be here.

I have reached a point in my life where I am missing what I once had.  Most of my extended family is gone, people that spoke into my life and help me become the woman I am today I can never hear their voice, feel their embrace or see their smile.  In the photo's below each one has someone I have since lost, some this was the last time I saw them.  My great grandmother, Gram (my children made us one of the few five generations living at that time), My Step Daddy, One of my best friends growing up - my Grandma Hutch, and a man who pushed me and challenge to know who I am and what I believe -my brother in law Larry.  I show these photos not for you, but to honor my family to my children and to hope they will continue on with their children, my grandchildren.  

Hug your family and make sure to capture those memories in a photograph...printed for you to hold on to and share the memories with your children.


5 Generations 1992This is the last time I saw my great grandmother Gram. We were in Germany expecting our 3 child when we got word that she had passed. 2008-Last family photo togetherThis family photo was the last of it's kind as it was not too much after this my grandfather passed from lung cancer. My mom was their only child, I was their only granddaughter and my kids were their only great grandchildren. This was an amazing moment for all of us to be there. DaddyMy DaddyHe didn't even remember who I was. We had to keep reminding him that I was his daughter. The anniversary of his passing is coming up this week. Thomas family 2008Thomas family 2008This is the only family photo of my husbands side...and it is from 2008! Children have grown and married with kids of their own, marriages separated, and my brother in law Larry has past. It's times like these, I am so thankful we did this.


Misty 121719-5488Misty 121719-5488


About the author: Being an only child from an only child, family has always been number one priority in Misty's world.  She is a mom of 4 adult children, mom-in-law to three, and the grandmother of 6 amazing grandchildren, in addition to being the founder, co-owner, and lead photographer at Mommy & Me Portrait Studios located in Chester Virginia. Misty is a strong advocate for documenting families in any season of life because we never know what we will miss in future years. Once a homeschooling mom, she has also developed our K.I.D. Video series to share her passion for teaching and learning and encourage families to engage in activities with crafts and recipes! 



(Mommy & Me Portrait Studios) Child Self Esteem Families family Strong Generations importance of family Memories Thu, 10 Sep 2020 04:58:08 GMT
Paper Airplanes Paper Airplanes Brought to a New Level

This week on our Mom Tip Tuesday post we shared a video for a paper airplane target that can be made fairly easily with a large piece of cardboard and some supplies.  We also had some guests in the studio to help us.  Josiah and Micheal showed us how to make two very different paper airplanes to use with our "Flight School" paper airplane target.  The fun that ensued after was priceless.  

When I host a KID Video Series project, I strive for the ages of about 5 to low teens or games the entire family can join in to create fun, long lasting memories.  I had no idea that these two guys would go on and play and experiment long after I turned in for the night.  

Fan FlightFan FlightWhat happens when your project spurs on further thinking and problem solving! Not only did they modify their paper airplanes to figure what worked best (the 118429465_3044232615675114_7334333337239454516_n118429465_3044232615675114_7334333337239454516_n weighted plane made it more often after Micheal folded wings on each side) but that led to some creative "Fan flight".  By the time Gabrielle caught up with them, they had turned a fan on it's side, pivoting it to be parallel to the floor and turned it on to see how it would effect the flight.  My guys are all grown up, but I still love when a project goes beyond me and becomes something of their own.  

Here are a few cell phone images caught from their shenanigans!



video-1598380042 To check out the KID Video that kicked off this play time, check it out below!

Misty 121719-5530Misty 121719-5530


About the author: Misty is a mom of 4 adult children, many furbabies, and the grandmother of 6 amazing grandchildren, in addition to being the founder, co-owner, and lead photographer at Mommy & Me Portrait Studios! Once a homeschooling mom, she has developed our K.I.D. Video series to share her passion for teaching and learning!

(Mommy & Me Portrait Studios) COVID family Fun D.I.Y. DIY DIY family games DIY paper airplane Family Activities Family fun at home family games Flight School Flight training KID Video math games Mommy & Me Paper Airplane paper airplane target point games Wed, 26 Aug 2020 19:00:00 GMT
Breastfeeding should be simple...right?? Breastfeed should be simple, right?

"It’s natural and that’s what I want to do, it’s that easy!"

    Nursing Session052820 Joshua Nursing Session-0026"Love in a moment"

That is what I thought as I was preparing for my oldest to arrive.  My reality was going to be anything but simple.  The first hurdle we had to figure out was latching! I had multiple lactation consultants and nurses stop by to offer advice, all of which told me that my son, James, was latching great and I was doing an amazing job as a new mom!  As our 3rd and final day at the hospital arrived, James latched, for real, for the first time.  And let me tell you, that was one of the weirdest feelings I have ever experienced, I just wanted to point that out.  Though I felt some frustration at the error of the consultants, I didn’t yet know that this was the beginning of a very rough feeding journey.

The following months went by and feeding went okay, among adjusting to everything else that comes with motherhood. However, James would have bouts of nonstop crying for several hours in the day.  Nothing I did would console him. When daddy came home from work, he was happy and smiling so my husband never really got to see what was happening.  I’d check his diaper, I’d try nursing even if I had just finished feeding him, I tried putting him down in his usual bed, nothing worked.  There were times that I would put him in his swing, where I knew he would be safe, and let him cry until he fell asleep for about 5 minutes and then repeated the cycle while I sat on the couch, in tears myself.  I didn’t know what I could be doing wrong.

Fast forward a few weeks from that and we discover James is not gaining weight as much as he should be, so we did the next logical thing, we introduced baby cereal and baby food!  He was 3 months old at the time and, well, it’s food so it’ll help him gain weight, right?  Well, thanks to our amazing pediatrician at the time, we found out this thinking is flawed.  If you look at what is in baby food, it is literally just one ingredient at the introductory level, not enough nutrients or calories to be gaining weight on, no matter how much of it you put into their diet.  With this knowledge, I began to start pumping after every feeding to try and increase my supply since I was still aiming to nurse and not formula feed.

By the time he was 5 months old, I was nursing every 2 hours during the day, every 3 hours at night, and pumping for 20 minutes after every…single….time.  To put it simply, I was exhausted.  But there should be progress, right? All this work couldn’t be for nothing!  Unfortunately, in a 2-week period, James had barely gained a few ounces.  Now the pediatrician and I had to have a conversation.  He told me there were 3 options with where we were at, 1. I could go to feeding him every 2 hours around the clock (which he did not recommend because I was already so exhausted), 2. I could find things to do to increase my supply, such as lactation cookies and supplements, or 3. I could start supplementing formula into his diet, starting with just a few ounces here after each nursing period just to top him off and give myself a break.

This conversation happened 3 days before my Husband had to leave for his 3rd deployment and 4 days before I was headed on a drive from Colorado Springs, CO (where we were stationed) to Watertown, NY (where my family is) with a couple members of my family who came down to help me.  I struggled so much with this decision. I wanted to be that amazing mother who had no issues with doing what was “natural and simple” to so many others! But reality was, I was tired and I was stressed (which doesn’t help when you’re trying to nurse) and I was just done.  I ended up deciding do supplement the formula and that was the best decision I could have made, not just for me, but for my son as well. I no longer dreaded feeding time, I wasn’t a feeding machine for 80% of my day anymore! And on top of that, his family got to have some quality time while feeding him as well!

Now, I have my second son.  What did I decide to do this time you may ask?  I decided to try nursing again!  Every journey, every individual, and every baby is different!  You will never have the same journey twice!  My second son, Joshua, took to nursing much quicker than his brother, fulling latching within hours of his birth!  I actually got engorged (which I didn’t realize I hadn’t before until then) and my milk came in easily! He is chunkier than his brother was and seems to be gaining weight very well!  There have been a few times now that he will cry after I have nursed him and because of COVID19, it’s difficult to get in to an appointment to double check his weight.  However, with my knowledge from my first experience, it was much easier to make the decision to add a little bit of formula in his day to make sure he’s getting enough nutrients.  Now, I am still trying to nurse him longer than I did his brother, who was fully formula fed at 6 months old, but I am more mentally prepared this time for whatever may happen.

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to share my story with you to show that you’re not alone!  There are many others who have been on this journey or are currently traveling it and they understand the struggle, they understand the heartache!  The biggest thing to take away from this, is you are not a bad mom.  You are not a bad mom if you nurse your babies.  You are not a bad mom if you decide to never nurse.  You are not a bad mom if you have to supplement formula because you’re tired and stressed!  Sometimes the best decision for you is the best decision for your child too.

You are an amazing mom! <3 <3

Nursing Session052820 Joshua Nursing Session-0026"Love in a Moment" Nursing Session052820 Joshua Nursing Session-0026"Love in a Moment" Nursing Session052820 Joshua Nursing Session-0026"Love in a Moment" Nursing Session052820 Joshua Nursing Session-0026"Love in a Moment"

MnM Headshot Stephanie-8603MnM Headshot Stephanie-8603

Author: Stephanie Monsen

Stephanie is a military wife of four years and a mom to two adorable children, who regularly keep her on her feet.  Her 5 month old Joshua (pictured above) is just learning to crawl and discover all the new things at his level, while his big brother James (who is 2 1/2) has shown his parents just how many things are not child proof in their home!  She has many talents and gifts to include crocheting, painting, and encouraging moms all over that it is okay to not be okay.  

(Mommy & Me Portrait Studios) Babies Breastfeeding Motherhood Nursing nursing struggles struggles with breastfeeding Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:18:51 GMT
Photography Scavenger Hunt 2020 photo hunt2020Squarephoto hunt2020Square


While kids across our community are at home for the next few weeks we wanted to bring you guys some fun activities that will keep them creatively busy and give you some time to spend with them or send them on the hunt and you can get a few minutes to sit and rest.

This week we are bringing to you a Photography Scavenger Hunt! Every day there will be a different challenge/hunt that they need to complete. All they need is a camera phone or a tablet with a camera and a collage app downloaded and ready to go.

*UPDATED April 13th – While the initial week long challenge has ended, this Scavenger Hunt can be completed at any time for kids to enjoy and focus their creative energies! We still invite you to post the results on social media and fill the form out at the bottom when all 7 challenges are complete.


How Do We Play?

It is easy!

  1. Get a digital camera ready to go. It will be easiest to use a camera on a phone or tablet for this scavenger hunt.
  2.          Your kids can complete each challenge and create either a single collage image, or a few, depending on the specific prompt.
  3.   Share their photo creations on your own Facebook page with the hashtag #mnmeasterhunt or on Instagram and tag @mommyandmestudios. There are too many stressful posts on social media right now. Let’s fill the feed with positive and fun things our kids are doing! You can also share them in the Facebook Group to encourage others.

Check back in your email daily for tips, tricks and ideas to help your kids get their creative juices flowing for each challenge.

p.s. This scavenger hunt is meant for kids of all ages. Even adults can participate as well! I do encourage your older children to help the younger ones out for each of them complete their own hunt!

Now … let’s get this party started … I can’t wait to see what your kids create.


Day 1 Challenge

Remember to use the #mnmeasterhunt when posting your photos! Don't forget you can use these to brighten your facebook newsfeed as well! We can't wait to see your photos!

Day 1 MNMPhotohuntDay 1 MNMPhotohunt

To give you an idea of what to do … here is what I did! I searched for my letters and photographed each letter close up and then used PicCollage to assemble the letters into a collage that made my name (I’ll post the pictures in the comments). I would only show this to your child if they need help getting started. Otherwise let their creative minds take over! Then each collage will look uniquely different! Have fun and I can’t wait to see what your child’s name collage looks like!

91799935_316757919283790_3824834411933728768_n91799935_316757919283790_3824834411933728768_n       92289089_1382376911946463_6154658237900652544_n92289089_1382376911946463_6154658237900652544_n


Day 2 Challenge


Make sure to count the letters in both your first and last name to complete this challenge!

Day 2 MNMPhotohuntDay 2 MNMPhotohunt

Need to give your kids some hints for Day 2? Try looking at calendars, clocks, books, TV stations, thermostat, game boxes, house number, etc. There are so many numbers around your house if you start to look for them!


Day 3 Challenge


Day 3 MNMPhotohuntDay 3 MNMPhotohunt

No matter what time of the year it is, there are always flowers to be found! Whether it is a beautiful plant or found in a pattern, look outside through the windows and all around the house!


Day 4 Challenge


Day 4 MNMPhotohuntDay 4 MNMPhotohunt

Need some hints? Remember, there are many different toys throughout the movie – more than just the iconic ones of Buzz Lightyear and Woody. As an added bonus, have movie time with your kids and watch your favorite Toy Story before or after they finish their hunt of the day!


Day 5 Challenge


Day 5 MNMPhotohuntDay 5 MNMPhotohunt

We know that some days you may not be able to go outside, and that’s okay! Look outside through the windows, or just look around the house! Don’t forget to take pictures of your finds!


Day 6 Challenge


Day 6 MNMPhotohuntDay 6 MNMPhotohunt

As we get closer to Easter Day, let’s do something Easter themed… like the Easter Egg Hunt that so many families do each year! But this time, be searching for anything that reminds you of Easter in and around your home!


Day 7 Challenge


Day 7 MNMPhotohuntDay 7 MNMPhotohunt

You did it! You made it to day 7! Our entire purpose as Mommy & Me is to capture moments and document time. This last challenge fits exactly what we do...and now we want to see you document time. A time that will be recaptured year after year here on Facebook. Make sure to post it to your newsfeed with the #mnmeasterhunt so we can see all your beautiful faces!

Finished? – Time for the Reward!

Did your child finish all 7 days of the challenge? If so we want to send them a Way to Go card in the mail hand written by Gabrielle or Misty along with a sheet of stickers just for them.  Email us your child's name and address at with "Photo Hunt Blog" in the subject line!


(Mommy & Me Portrait Studios) fun for kids GIFT OF TIME Photo fun for kids photo hunt PHOTOGRAPHY SCAVENGER HUNT QUARANTINE GAMES scavenger hunt STAY AT HOME KID ACTIVITIES Summer Fun Mon, 04 May 2020 22:11:26 GMT
Model Spotlight-Maci Since we moved from Northern New York and open our photography studio here in Chester Virginia last year, we quickly realized we wanted to really get a feel for our new space, and learn the layout of our new surroundings.  A fun way to do this is by looking for the perfect models to help you.  This past fall, we listed our ad for our very specific models; for specific looks or locations.  Many applications came in but only a selected few were chosen.  

Meet Maci!  She is 2...almost three.  We met with Maci's family to interview them for a very special project.  We were looking for a little red head with blue eyes so we could do a few specific portraits inside the studio and out... what we found was this amazing little girl, so sweet and shy, but also silly and full of adorable sass once she warms up!

Maci 121019-5370Maci 121019-5370


One of the favored portraits of our session came from inside our Mommy & Me Portrait Studio here in Chester.  The sharp contrast between her beautiful red hair, brilliant blue eyes and her ivory skin with this black background gave us an opportunity to capture a great moment.  It was no accident the small daisy was selected for this sweet little girl.  We are so glad she is a part of our Mommy and Me model Family!

(Mommy & Me Portrait Studios) Fri, 07 Feb 2020 14:00:00 GMT
Just the begining Light Family SetLight Family Set

This marks the beginning.

The beginning of a new life, a new way of thinking, a new way of doing things. 

This is the life of one of one of our owners/photographers, Gabrielle Tanner.  She is amazing and her family is just as amazing.  After living in upstate New York for many years, the decision was made to make a great move.  While she was pregnant her and her family trekked down to RVA area in Virginia in search of a new city, new house, new adventure.  The strength she has shown is definitely celebrated with this little one, baby Josiah and her husband Josiah. Not only did she move with all of her worldly belongings, her mom (and co-owner) her hubby and her brother, but she set up her household and sat down to start her business in capturing moments of peoples everyday lives to help them hold on to the fleeting moments.  If we could sum up what Mommy & Me Portrait Studios is all about it is Leaving a Legacy, and Gabrielle walks this out in her everyday family life.  Faith of a mustard seed, strength of a mighty women of God and grace with tenderness like an angel, these are the words that describe Gabrielle.  A love for people has set her on a course to help others leave a legacy in their portraits.  Mommy & Me Studios is a home studio located in her newest location, Chester Virginia and is getting ready to for their soft opening for model calls this month and opening for appointments in the middle of January.  Make sure to say hello and receive a warm welcome from Gabrielle.

Family Love - Mommy & Me StudiosFamily Love - Mommy & Me Studios Family Love - Mommy & Me StudiosFamily Love - Mommy & Me Studios Family Love - Mommy & Me StudiosFamily Love - Mommy & Me Studios Family Love - Mommy & Me StudiosFamily Love - Mommy & Me Studios

(Mommy & Me Portrait Studios) Mon, 07 Oct 2019 13:00:00 GMT