January 26, 2018     |     Personal

Where Time Stood Still

Dear Graham and Lucie,  
 
We lived in a Hippy Hut in Byron Bay for 2 weeks together, just the three of us. Your Dad had to go back to the United States to work. We were so sad to see him go after a full month of being together in French Polynesia, New Zealand, and Australia. He works so hard for us, we are so lucky. Graham and Lulu, I want you to know, to remember, that it was here in this place where time stood still. We settled into a perfect little routine: pancakes and eggs in the morning at our Hippy Hut, a quick stop for coffee on the way to swim lesson, body boarding in the waves, adventures in the afternoon and the playground walk in the evening.  
 
Graham, I was able to give you some independence here, to run around with the other kids at the caravan park. You rose to the occasion as your new role of "Daddy" while your Dad is working for us. You made eggs on your own, you followed the rules, you watched out for your little sister. You demanded apologizes and made sure everyone was getting along. You were so sweet and responsible and I really appreciate your help in taking care of our little family. I also loved watching you make new friends. Without hesitation, you are able to walk up to someone and ask "would you like to play with me?" and I know this trait will serve you well in your life. 
 
Lucie, you turned 4 here! You asked for pink cake, a tutu, and an adorable little swimsuit. You invited all of the caravan kids to the party, even a few we didn't know. Graham blew out your candles and you loved it so much. Then you both put your faces on the cake and laughed hysterically. You are so close and such good friends. I have loved watching you bond together on this trip and I can already see that you will both be loyal to each other and take care of each other. Lucie, we shared a bed, a bed that is now covered with sand as I sit and write this letter to you both; a reminder that we are living our days to the very fullest here. 
 
Each night after showers, milk, and books, you would both ask me for your "sages" and you loved these sweet massages, making sure I didn't miss a toe or a leg or an arm. I have loved these moments so much. I have loved making shadow puppets on the tent wall and telling you stories about when you were babies. I have loved being with you, we are having so much fun together! We are such a great team! I love seeing the world through your eyes! You are my greatest gift. I am so incredibly proud of you, my little world travelers! You are strong and happy and free. You are truly experiencing this journey to the fullest, even if you dont know that you are. I love you both so much.  
 
Graham and Lucie, I hope that when you are older, you won't feel the need to fly around the world to stop time. I hope you make sure to practice being totally engaged with the environment and the people around you. The riches of life exist in these moments, these moments when you are totally present. I hope you can balance the distractions and work and stress of life with ease. I know that when I return to our normal life, I will definitely make sure to be more present and more engaged and I will think back to our time here in Byron Bay. In fact, I will think about our time here in Byron often and with the fullest heart. This time here with you, totally engaged and in love, was one of the best experiences of my entire life. The memories we made in Hippy Hut #6 will live in my heart forever. Thank you for being my best travel mates!  
 
Love,  
Momma 
 
I hope to do another post with all of my recommendations for a perfect 2 weeks in Byron Bay but here are a few things I wanted to jot down for my own memory... 
 
Things I remember from our time in Byron Bay: 
- Tent windows down and the sound of the ocean 
- Nightly massages for the kids 
- Bedtime stories - Australian classics Magic Possum and Edwina the Emu were our fav 
- Graham and Lucie running free around the caravan park 
- Our walk/bike to swim lessons each day 
- Our drives through Hinterland  
- Our visit to Killen Falls when Graham found a giant log and the kids pretended it was a boat, Graham was the captain and the kids went under the waterfall without fear 
- Swimming in Tea Tree Lake with Lucie and watching Graham catch tadpoles 
- Facepainting with Ms. Sally in the park - one night Graham asked to be a clown with Hulk Smash Hands and vampire teeth 
- Lucies 4th birthday when Graham blew her candles out and she laughed hysterically and then they put their faces on the cake 
- Lucies sweet birthday portrait on the beach when she ran away from me laughing and playing 
- Brunswick Heads when the kids ran around like crazy in the shallow river 
- Graham learning the backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle in swim intensive! He also was given a swim cap that he wanted to wear to bed, he was so excited 
- The Solar Train which the kids both loved - they ran around and laughed and stuck their heads out of the window 
- The lighthouse walk down to Little Wategos Beach where we played aquarium for around an hour, Graham giving me a tour of each tidepool and all of the creatures inside 
- Watching Graham and Lucie climb to the top of the tree in the playground and make friends without hesitation 
- Bodyboarding in the waves 
- Watching the kids play with his surfer dude toys with his friends Bronx, Darius and Sandor 
- Swimming with Lucie in the pool while Graham had swim class 
- Sparklers on the beach with our new friends the Girrens  
- Silent Disco on the beach 

September 16, 2016     |     Personal

Spirit of Adventure

Friends, I have something to tell you. Our trip to Argentina was awesome, like knock your socks off amazing, inspiring and life changing. Every day was new and exciting. I loved learning Spanish with my tutor in the most beautiful cafes in the city; eating alfajores and watching my kids play in Plaza Armenia at sunset; and drinking Malbec and eating provoleta with Steph into the wee hours of the night. But when I came home, our family went in different directions (as in school and work) and I was stuck behind my computer editing photos and eating a lot of junk food! Our adventure was over and my spirit died a little. It was sad, and even though we weren't abroad very long, it was challenging for me to re-enter as the same person with the same routine and outlook on life. I thought a lot about what is next for me in my life, what exactly am I contributing, when we can go on our next adventure and what makes me the most happy? How can I find meaning in my work to make my life as fulfilling and exciting as it was when we were abroad exploring a new country? I listened to Ted Talks and a lot of self-help books on Audible, I found inspiration by watching the entire Chef's Table series on Netflix, and thought a lot about turning 37 years old! During this time, I looked at social media and felt more social isolation than connection. One day I said to myself "look at me, I am actually physically alone on my couch liking photos". By myself! This is just not acceptable to me anymore! If there is anything I took away from our trip to Argentina, it was watching people be engaged in the moment, in a conversation at lunch with a friend, being engaged in their own life, without the distraction of technology.  
 
So here is what I propose. Here is my heart song. I love capturing moments for people and the joy it brings them when they can see those moments come to life. I love creating, it moves me and fulfills me in a way I never knew was possible. I love adventure and I love being with people! There is no reason why I cannot always be on an adventure with my family, friends and new friends, even in my small town of Charleston! So what if for the year, I push myself to take pictures of these adventures! Not on an iphone but with my amazing cameras, and invite people to come on this journey with me! I have a few ideas in mind already and would love to hear what you would like to do as well! I feel that by organizing these outings, my adventure will live on! And I will be connecting with people in real life, in a real moment and have a REAL experience! Isn't that what life is all about? Actually living it instead of liking it on a computer screen? 
 
So who is with me? Some adventures will be for Moms, some for Moms and children, some for couples and some for the whole family. Some ideas I have so far are to go flounder gigging, do a beach bonfire series, travel to Bull's Bay, paint en plein air...some will cost money and some will be free. But here is the catch: these adventures are my gift to you. I want you to live in the moment and to feel a distance from technology. If you want to Instagram images immediately, this experience is not for you. I will take the pictures and you can Instagram them later, or keep them to yourself. Most of my adventures (not all) will also be alcohol free, only because I want you to go home feeling refreshed and inspired and have a productive weekend with your family. If there are any proceeds from these events, the profit will go directly to the Lowcountry Maritime Society (more on them in a later post). I look forward to shining a light on this incredible new organization. I feel so good about this! I already feel like I am living a more meaningful life and I haven't even started! I feel like I am setting a good example for my children by encouraging them to get outside and learn something new. I will be pushing myself in my own photography work and I cannot wait to see my portfolio after a year of adventuring.  
 
Here are the deets for the first adventure:  
Saturday, October 8th  
Meet at Huriyali downtown for a meet and greet! 
Eat delicious Acai Bowls! 
Travel together to Folly Beach for a 2 hour surf lesson with Kai at Sol Surfers 
Have an inspiring time together in the water, cheer for each other, take it all in!!!!  
Dance party on the way home 
Jean shorts and trucker hats encouraged! 
No phones (if you can)!  
First come first served - I honestly have no idea what kind of response I will get here! (eek!) 14 people max! 
Cost is approx $200 for lesson, food and transport with all proceeds going to Lowcountry Maritime Society 
You will have some awesome pics of yourself on adventure, new friends and a whole heck of a lot of fun! 
 
Holler back with your adventure ideas and let me know what you'd like to do and learn! Absolutely cannot wait to have an adventure with you! XOXO, Char 
 
PS: I am still taking wedding clients, doing portraits and a crazy amount of commercial work. I absolutely love my work and this adventure series is an extension of that love, it is a passion project I am doing in my free time for my own soul.

April 4, 2016     |     Personal

Jose Ignacio, Week 2

Our last week in Jose Ignacio was quiet and blissful and was a perfect way to end the trip. We relaxed at the beach, hit up our favorite restaurant La Huella one more time, played at the beach house (in the pool and the trunk of the car). The electricity went out one night which made for a super cozy evening. This was the night we had a babysitter and Steph and I went out to dinner, it was lovely. We tried out a new coffee shop and played at Playa Mansa for sunsets. Our grand finale was a visit to Francis Mallman's restaurant Garzon, which was absolutely fabulous! We had dinner overlooking the olive fields and the kids ran all over the beautiful property. The morning we left, I took my little G bug out for one last little drive to the old town Garzon and we got some pics of cows and the dusty old town. It was a perfect ending to the most incredible adventure. Steph and I are working on a "Best Of" list for both Buenos Aires and Jose Ignacio so I'll post something for you all soon in case you wanted to escape to South America for bit.

April 4, 2016     |     Personal

Day Trip to Montevideo

This was easily the most ambitious trip I took during our time away. Jose Ignacio was COLD and RAINY for a while and we got cabin fever quite badly. Steph had to work every day and couldn't really help me so I had to get out of there and go see something new. I realize this was a little selfish but I was not going to let the kids stand in my way of seeing something new in Uruguay. The other option was going to this little bouncy house thing in a strip mall and I chose Montevideo instead. Steph booked a cute little hotel for us in the historic part of town. The hardest part was timing the trip so that they would (hopefully) both be asleep for the long car ride without car seats. Luckily, this worked out quite nicely and they woke up when we were about 20 minutes away from the hotel and were so excited to see the "big city"! The trip took about 2.5 hours and we parked right outside of our hotel. We checked in, got a map and headed straight to the closest playground. It was getting dark so we left the playground for a little walking tour of the historical section. (I had one baby on my shoulders and one in my arms for most of this walk). It wasn't ideal but we made it with only 1 meltdown and 1 bribe (they each got a lollipop for holding hands and not running away). I attempted to eat with them at a restaurant but that was no good so we got some street food and took to back to the hotel for dinner and a shower. The next morning we had a lovely little breakfast in the hotel (we had to remove all of the fine china from the table) and then we went to the playground again. Here are a few pics from less than 24 hours in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay!! (Also, I think my computer put some weird little filter on these photos but I don't have time to re-export them)...
The kids just needed a change of scenery and SO DID I!!! Sometimes you just have to go with the wind, you know? Get out and do what you want and the kids will love it too!
Little sleepy heads on our morning walk!
Here's our little hotel in Uruguay.
Kids needed a city playground! Oh how we were missing our Plaza Armenia! Got our fix at this one...
Here we are on our night walk, hit up a few historic sites!
Typical pic of me trying to get G to pose in a photo....the man in the bottom right hand corner was so concerned with this little escape artist that he ran out the door after Graham and then took him inside to show him an old telephone on the wall.
Oh man, we look like hell here but we did it!!! We made it work!
I am the worst Mom, I am not letting him have M&Ms (or Rockets as they are called in Uruguay)...so he is melting in front of this Kiosko.
The morning we left, we were able to check out the Mercado del Puerto (the market of the port), which is densely packed with parrillas. This is a meat lovers dream come true, I am so sorry Steph missed this! We ordered a chorizo and some papas fritas then hit the road.
Overall, we loved Montevideo and I am so glad I was able to see the capital of this sweet little country, albeit we only really saw the Ciudad Viejo (Old Town). The trip was tough with my two in tow and no stroller or car seats but we did it and now we can check that off of our list!

March 26, 2016     |     Personal

Cabo Polonia

Here are a few pics from our day trip to Cabo Polonia. If you are up for a little exploring, I would recommend this little day trip from Jose Ignacio. It was a cloudy day so we didn't mind being in the car and discovering something new. We took this trip on a Saturday so Steph could be away for a whole day. We drove about an hour to this small terminal in Cabo Polonia where you purchase a ticket to take a dune buggy out to a very rustic little town on the beach...read: RUSTIC...hostels and makeshift homes in a National Park. The dune buggy itself was such a fun adventure for the kids since it bounced up and down and we got to ride on the beach. Once we reached the town, we hopped out and walked to the lighthouse. We were told that there was a colony of sea lions living there and sure enough, they were there and the kids loved to see them! We then had a light lunch on the beach (Lulu slept through it), took a little stroll through the hood and took the buggy back to our car. We then drove about 20 more miles north to a little surf town called Punta Del Diablo. Steph and I had caipiroskas, fruit smoothies and empanadas. We walked around a bit and talked to some locals and then headed home. The kids were exhausted, it was a perfect way to spend a rainy day.

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