In Love | Friday Wine Night -personal

In the 41 years that I’ve been lucky enough to be around to tell my life stories, I’ve never had such a roller coaster adventure (besides parenthood!), since I first started online dating just over 4 years ago. I relived a few of these interesting life highlights in my “Getting to date 23” blog posts, but I am not sure I reiterated quite enough just how grateful I am for the 23rd date! That of course, was my husband, Aaron.

We “met” via E-Harmony in January 2012. The system that particular site uses has you screen your potential date through closed ended, then open ended questions, which leads to offering up open chats. As a mother, and a woman skeptical in general about what I was seeing online, this seemed perfectly acceptable and safe to me! I remember the first picture of Aaron to pop up in my daily feed. he had THE biggest smile ever!!!! Atop his head was a little beanie, he had this little beard, and he looked adorable! I was happy when we started communicating, though he said a couple of things I still tease him about! It seemed though that he was blowing me off! I am all for meaningful conversations and getting to know you, but relationships can’t be deepened online, we had to meet. I finally decided I’d say something about this, being the straightforward woman I am. I said he seemed far too busy and I was interested spending quality time with someone. I assumed this would chase him away for my being too bold, instead he immediately asked me out for Saturday. By this point in my social life I was down to a coffee, a glass of wine, or a hot cocoa type date. Chat, sip and run was how named them in my head. Aaron however insisted we were going ice-skating. I reluctantly agreed, fearing making a fool of myself, and the fact that I couldn’t just bolt if I wanted to!

My fears diminished when a few hours into the date and one sore fall later we were having the best time. Neither of us wanted it to end. We decided to go have some sushi. We got there, it was closed. I was going to leave, and he had to be in D.C. later that evening, but again we decided, “let’s go somewhere else”. We chased down the next nearest sushi place. Alas, closed again. Was this fate? A sign? I knew of one near my home, but out of his way, and he happily said he could go! CLOSED. by now it seemed obvious that the sushi gods were against us spending more time together. We were about to part when we looked up and laughed. Agreeing on Mexican food instead. This time, success. It was open. We talked and laughed and talked and laughed and it was the longest date of my life, in time, but the quickest in terms of the blink of an eye cliche. We had to part. Thankfully he friend requested me on Facebook and after 3 days of making him wait so I could preserve some cool points, we became Facebook friends and he posted a steam of sweet things on my timeline, and his own.

We went on a couple more dates, and talked in between those. I was searching for the “does he like me” signs: a hand hold, a hug, a flirty comment. Nothing. Hmm. I should make sure he knew I liked him, but that if he was friend zoning me, the dates had to end! On Valentines day of 2012, I was at lunch with my daughters, and a waiter wanted my number. I declined. So he kept our bill to the amusement of the girls. I had a date with Aaron later, and wanted it to take a turn towards actual dating…but hadn’t fessed up to my kids that I was seeing someone. Well, POTENTIALLY. I didn’t let them into my dating stories till that point (with one exception), but I had to break this rule when my youngest wrote down all of my personal information on a napkin (pretty much everything from height and what she thought I weighed, to email address and physical address!), so I explained about Aaron. The revelation was met with curiosity and excitement. They asked what the plans were: horror movie and dinner. They are like me, and understand that horror movie is romantic in the un-obvious ways, and would be less crowded than the latest Nicholas Sparks film also showing.

Tonight I was seeing for sure if Aaron had romantically inclinations and intent towards where we were headed. I put on nice lipstick (make him think about kissing), a nice shirt ( a date like shirt, not a church shirt ) and sprayed my GOOD perfume. I was set.

The date as usual was fun, it was playful, it was FRIENDLY. I HAD to be just a friend to him, even though it was Valentine’s day. There was still hope. The movie would surely intake some snuggles, or a hand holding opportunity. And did it? Nope. Once I THOUGH i saw him try to reach for me, and hesitate. Then reach again, only to grab popcorn. It was truly lovely popcorn but HELLO, here I was giving all of the most ladylike indications that I was dateable, kissable, and interested. My head was becoming stubborn and defiant and I was telling myself that it was ok. I could be his friend and that this was the LAST “date” he would be getting. I almost saw my own head shake back and forth and a mental finger wave like a Tyler Perry character.

Outside, ah. God painted a pretty winter and magic night. Snow was softly falling. The cinema was in a pretty lamppost and twinkle light lit patio area that looked like a scene from Bridget Jones diary. God was setting the tone for a romantic good-bye. Could Aaron be so oblivious?! (I know, Im a girl).  Well, here we were. End of the date. Its been 2 months of build up and 4 lengthy dates that had been promising, if platonic. He leans in, I pause dramatically and look up, and I am presented with a hug. And a one armed hug at that. I was dismayed. I was annoyed. I was sad. I was incredulous!

I walk away. He says good night.  I keep walking. All the while telling myself it was ok, it wasn’t me, it just wasn’t meant to be. I look back. I don’t know why I did. I am however glad I did. Because he was standing there in the snow looking at me. Whatever came over me next was what I can only describe as Kate Winslet did in The Holiday,a s gumption. I walked. No, I marched over to him, and looked at him and said “Sorry, but I have to”. And I kissed the boy. The girl went for it. I made the first move that I told myself Id never do. It was a mere half a second before his arms went around me and he kissed me back, and right then I knew there was NO way we were just friends! It was THE.Best. Kiss. Ever.

He looked so happy, that big smile shining under the lights, and he said he was glad I did it, because he had been too nervous and didn’t want to spoil it!!! I now know him well enough to know that even my most blatant statements still don’t, to him, seem as obvious as they are to me. But in that moment, it was alright. There was a connection. there was a spark with the Nicholas. There was, well, magic.

Needless to say it only got better. One year later exactly, (minus one day) 2/13/13, we were at our church having a very small intimate exchange of vows with some very important witnesses, and in October of 2013, we celebrated a wedding with family and friends. The one with cake the dress the dancing the fun. I get to celebrate BOTh days. Our anniversary, today. And our wed-iversary, in October. With a Valentine’s day thrown in there too.

And, we still kiss under that lamp every single time we pass it by.

Happy 3rd Anniversary Aaron!!!!

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Photo courtesy of Tiffany Joyce Photography

Friday Wine Night: What’s my name again?

My Friday wine night posts are meant to be a way to open up about me personally. Something that I in all honesty have not been very good at. The typical girly thoughts of judgement, over sharing, fallout, and general “what will people think of me” fears have halted ALOT of what Ive wanted to say! In fact I’ve pulled posts down! However for this new year, I want to finally take my journey in a new direction. I am old enough FINALLY to understand who I am and what I want. I am the first to admit there is always going to be room for growth, but at least I am owning who I am.

Who am I? Well, thats a long complicated story, and something that for most people usually starts with a name. My mum died when I was very young, and we (my sister and I) lived with her when she passed. She had divorced my father. She was actually engaged to someone else. Getting ready to have a new name herself. I was born with a very simple and plain, in MY opinion, name. My name was Debbie Smith. A Basic name if ever there was a name! I apologize to ALL of the Debbie Smith’s that are in the world! Im sure you are all lovely and beautiful and unique, but for me, the plain-ness of my name went further. I wasn’t the cutest child. I didn’t have the typical happy home. My dad actually changed his own name for personal reasons, and ours along with it. So I didn’t get to really connect with Smith, or the “new” name. When I married my ex husband, I naturally took his name. Again, it wasn’t really MY name but I WAS married. When that marriage ended after 13 years, I though diligently about what to do. I had daughters, and one day they too would marry and their name would be different. The name my dad changed it to legally wasn’t mine (found this out doing background checks for a US visa!) so who was I going to be? On my birth certificate the Debbie and the Smith were completed with my middle name, and my mother’s maiden name. I looked at her name. I could be connected to her still. Laughlan. I liked it.  So, I officially and with all of the paperwork with one small adjustment. I changed the spelling to Laughlin. With an “I”. For ME. It was MINE.  I started my new single mother life, and indeed my business, under my new name. When I married my new husband,  and this sweet man learned all about me, he completely understood why I wanted to hold on to this new me. Why I hyphenated my name, in order to show respect for my marriage. To make life a lot simpler for the dreams I want to do, I am keeping the Debbie Laughlin business, and on social media, dropping the hyphen. Its long, its hard to look up, and I want to be accessible. if the unimaginable happens and I get to write my book (my dream!), that too will be under Debbie Laughlin. My wedding ring, my certificate of marriage, all of our personal bills and household ALL contain my married name (and I LOVE LOVE love my husband and being his wife!), but going forth, all social media and search engines will say just the Laughlin. Im opening up about this because I lost myself before, in relationships. Now that Ive found me again, and more importantly, now that I am APPRECIATED just for being ME, I want to revel in that name too. This photo below is me, with my Dad, who is also a photographer. He is a writer, a poet, and very creative. I certainly get my love of these things from him. Just, now, only our names are different. 11908237_10153252578119132_1484945146_n

My Spring & Summer Brides

In this very blessed second year of my business, I was beyond thrilled and excited to be the photographer telling the stories to the following spring and summer brides! I was fortunate enough to see two beautiful elopements in the outer banks, attend a tea party mad hatter style, shoot in downtown Richmond at an old railway, plant a tree in a storm on arbor day, capture seriously romantic DIY country weddings, travel to Ohio for an old friend, capture beautiful brides saying I do, go out on a cruise of July 4th, ride on some awesome golf carts to get the perfect shot, literally see a “shotgun” wedding and watch a sailor come home from deployment and finally get his girl! To each and every one of my spring/summer brides, I dedicate this blog to you! DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-111 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Tom&Marina-101 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Maggie&Jeff-762 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-13 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-12 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-WedPic-1 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Engagements-1 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Katelyn&William-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-AndyRobynWedding-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-506 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Barbara&Ed-18 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Barbara&Ed-16 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-1 copy 2 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mina&Kevin-4 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mina&Kevin-3 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mina&Kevin-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-255 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-227 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Tom&Marina-150 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-103 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Laighann&Tim-6 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Laighann&Tim-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Heather&JP-17 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Dana&Glenda-5 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Dana&Glenda-4 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Bridals-2 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Tom&Marina-117 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-SpiritofNorfolkWedding-369 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-SpiritofNorfolkWedding-80

2/13/13| Personal

Before you tell me Im using the wrong date, Im not. Not in the sense of the way Im going to use it in this post. Im aware that today IS indeed 2/13/14.. One whole year after the date in the title, and therefore, One whole year after the REAL date of my wedding. Yes, its true, and I am sure this comes to a huge surprise to some of you, as we made the decision to NOT tell everyone. Even some of our friends and family members. We celebrated very happily a wedding celebration in October, of 2013, and my dad flew over from Scotland, and several people flew in from Aaron’s home state of Texas.  Was it shotgun? no. Was it rushed? no. Were we lying to people? No… So why? Three reasons: Lauren, Caitlin and Rory.  Blending a family comes with a new set of rules. Raising girls comes with challenges as it is. Trying to raise young women of faith makes these things even harder. We are trying to be examples. Right and wrong… I lean on a lot of my own mistakes and things Ive learned to try and make better the decisions that face my daughters. Does it always work? No. Is it my fault? No.. What I CAN continue doing is leading by examples. Good ones. And being that faith and my desire to be a better Christian woman is so important to me, when it came to dating as a single mother, I tried very hard to be open with the girls. All the while acting and conducting myself accordingly in what I thought was how I should be! I let them see my heartache, and tried through that to say to them thats its ok to hurt, and you can get through it. That we don’t always get the life we think we want in that moment. I didn’t like them seeing me eating mass quantities of ice cream and crying, but as a mother, it was very real. As was letting them see when someone treats me well, because as my engagement to Aaron proceeded, I wanted them to see how they too should hopefully be treated one day. I tried to be the fiancee that I hoped would encourage the girls in the promise of love, and so because of this, and a good deep talk from my pastor, Aaron and I decided to make the big “move” in together, and to do that “right”, we also made the decision to marry.

There was no big dress and bridesmaids, I was at my church with some people close to our hearts, though a few were missing. We told my 19 year old, who was there at the ceremony, and in telling my 12 year old, we were met with mixed emotions and confusion, BECAUSE there was no big dress or bridesmaids. She still believes that was “civil” and our REAL wedding was October 5th, with all of the trimmings.

For us, in that moment, it was what we knew in our hearts was right. It wasn’t about the guests, or the fairy tales. it was taking the commitment and the love we had for one another, and our family, seriously. It was us trying to walk the walk in front of the ladies we are trying to raise. It was for US, it was real, and it WAS 2/13/13.

I could sit here and say sorry to everyone who didn’t know, but I can’t. I believe in my heart it was right, and it was for us. And thats exactly how it was celebrated. Now, now its time to share with everyone else.

I loved the event that was our wedding day, in October. We finally go the fun and the frills and the families together. It was personal and intimate and mostly DIY so we could enjoy something tailor made to our loves and our families combining. I think we both feared people wouldn’t show up if they knew they already missed the big premier!

Marriage is hard enough, without complicating it even more. So as everyone gears up to celebrate Valentines Day tomorrow, we are sitting here reminiscing about this day one year ago. Our commitment to one other then, is as strong as it was in October, and just as dear to us today.

Happy Anniversary, Aaron. _MG_2147-3053996259-O _MG_2153-3053996846-O

Thank you to Holly at Shutterly Sweet Photography for these images!

“The Greatest Love On Earth!” a styled shoot

I am very proud to FINALLY announce, alongside Jennifer Krieg Photography, I will be hosting a beautiful styled shoot, for photographers of all levels, using a circus inspired and “Water For Elephants” themed design throughout! The event will be filmed by Holly of Shutterly Sweet Photography, so we can forever remember this event!

This styled event will be taking place on February 23rd, 2013, on a scenic and secluded private farm, Southern Gaits Paso Fino Farm. This location is a picturesque horse farm, with well over 30 horses of all colours in our background! There is a gazebo, a lake and an array of shrubs, in the winter look. Also, a swing. How fabulous we get to seat a bride on one of those!

We are so fortunate in that we will be joined by some amazing and talented vendors, who will be providing floral, hand crafted background pieces, hair and make up, paper products and our cake! We will feature a bride and groom, as well as bridesmaids, a best man, and some small children as our “extras”. We will even have the honour of using one of the prettiest white Paso Fino horses I have seen!

We will have several stations and photography opportunities available. We will be offering complimentary head shots to all participants also. Following the shoot, we will have a champagne and desert gathering in the stables, to toast what is sure to be a wonderful success!

The investment for the event is $150, with a $25 discount available if you sign up before January 18th. Please follow the link below to view our page and invest! Following confirmation of your participation, you will be added to a private Facebook group, where you will see sneak peeks posted as they are finished or in progress, and vendor information for the event! I am SO SO very excited about this and hope to see you there!!!!

Information available, as well as ticket investment, through this link: http://debbielaughlinphotography.com

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My New Year Resolve…my new word for the year too..

Ive been trying to think of the word to be encouraged by, for the whole year. Just one word, to motivate and excite me, to overcome things with, to challenge myself with, and to hopefully all around make me a better person. After all, with each new year comes new resolutions and promises to oneself about the “New You”. I however, have spent the past 5 years learning to love the old me. And you know what, Ive decided Im not so bad afterall! I have met challenges, had my heart broken, single parented my way through a bevvy of draining and rewarding parent-trocities and really learned to trust more in myself and faith. It worked for me. I got through it. I even got a “happy ending”, by marrying someone who treats me like a princess!

So, rather than find a new me, Id like to keep bettering the REAL me. To hone my photography craft to the next level, to take my business to new markets, to be a better mother, a more patient person, a better friend, a deeper Christian and a more content Debbie. My word is Refine.

v. re·finedre·fin·ingre·fines
 verb \ri-ˈfīn\

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)

: to improve (something) by making small changes

v.tr.

1. To reduce to a pure state; purify.
2. To remove by purifying.
3. To free from coarse, unsuitable, or immoral characteristics: refined his manners; refined her speaking style.
v.intr.

1. To become free of impurities.
2. To acquire polish or elegance.
3. To use precise distinctions and subtlety in thought or speech
This will guide me in all areas of my life. Not just personal. Not just photography. Not just in faith. Because Im not just ONE of these things. Im ALL of them.
I have grown sadly accustomed to comparing myself personally and professionally to those around me who, on facebook anyway, certainly appear to have it all together. However, I know there was life before Facebook, and while I commend these people for having such a great outlook and command over a mulitude of things, I am “old enough to know better” and see beyond a social media status to accept its not all bubbles and kittens.
I also resolve to start a blog, a series of 4 or 5, on being a seasoned mum. Baby balancing in a chaotic life is crazy enough, and focus tends to be on actual important physical needs. However, our offspring do not remain cute energetic toddlers and infants forever and I know there are mothers,, and fathers, like me out in the http://www.com universe who may learn from, or commiserate with, some of the challenges us hard working (in all senses of that word) mothers of children/teens/young adults face, that we cant get past with a visit to Toys R Us. First blog will be posted tomorrow, and I hope you come back to read, with totally honesty, how it is for this business owning mother of two, and step mother to one, deals with the challenges of blending families, juggling personalities and maintaining control of her sanity, all while being a great wife and whole person!

Empty frames and full Laundry Baskets – Personal

Being a work from home business owner, I had at first though it would offer me much more time to be super home maker extraordinaire! Laundry would be done Mary Poppin’s style and forest animals would hang by the windows and doors as I happily swept and whistled while I

worked! I dont like admitting Im wrong, but boy was I ever. Though I do admit to whistling (and singing off key and badly, but with enthusiasm) while doing my work, and loving what I do…the severe lack of Bambi and Thumper, the piling up of clean, and sometimes unclean clothes, and frustrations with the ever growing unwed and newly divorced socks has quite firmly instilled in me how hard it is to keep it ALL up!!! I also am usually camera shy, and thought Id have the wonderful ability to capture by self timer a fabulous shot of myself and my fiancé and photoshop all my wrinkles, lines and blemishes, thus transforming me into a picturesque hot super model of stay at home perfection. I glance around the house and see the myriad of empty frames and realize thats an improbability! I also have to work at a consistent rate during the day, instead of being distracted (Squirrel!) by everything else, and the thought of “I can do that later”. Later turns into late nighters, and last night my hubby-to-be came in and kissed my cheek and said “Dont forget about me!”. 

So, a new month, a new business quarter, a new school year, and new goals:

Working hours will be set. 

Gym time needs scheduled, after all, Im exactly 9 weeks from today away from being one of those frame filling brides!

I will find those socks that are unpaired! WHERE can they go!

I will schedule photographs for my sweet Aaron and I, by a photographer I admire, and admit its a good thing.

I will accept Im not Elle McPherson!!! I am who I am and I will try to look at myself in a less negative way when I see me in pictures!!!

I will get my red curtains up to match my cute little office space that, although busy , and in no way fung-shued, its all mine and I love it! 

I will WILL WILL mail these invitations sitting on my desk!!!!!

I will follow up with myself and all of you at the end of this month to see if I can do this successfully!!! Wish me luck or give me tips. Insert frivolous “youre beautiful” comments to pump me up for my pictures to be, and accept my thank-yous for listening to me ramble!!

For now I leave you with the pictures I have: A fun couple shot courtesy of my fun friend/bridesmaid  Carly, the black and white head shot by Bethanne Arthur Photography and my in the grass pose by Tiffany Joyce Photography! Plus a look at my cute little office area, with a shelf made by my handsome guy!

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