A. L. PARKS..author..friend..beautiful lady extrodinaire

Move over Nora Roberts..there is a new kid on the block and she is my friend!  Meet A. L. Parks!!



A.L. Parks currently lives outside Washington D.C. with her family. They spend many hours exploring the area and the deep history of this beautiful land, while experiencing as much of life's wonders as possible. She has traveled abroad and lived in almost every corner of the U.S., and hopes her writing reflects various cultures, people, and places.

The Return is her second book. It is Book One of the Return To Me series. Her first book, Strangers, published in September is available on Amazon.

Twitter: almparks2012

Everyone is invited to "The Return Release Day Holiday Party and Book Signing" on December 6th, from 3:00 - 7:00pm at the Honey Hive, in Edgewater, MD. We will have lots of food, fun, music, prizes, and an opportunity to meet the author, and get your book signed!

Synopsis of The Return:

Eve Carlisle had a singular purpose - sell the rustic house nestled in the Colorado ski resort town.

Tortured by her husband’s betrayal, the beautiful divorcee refused to give her heart to another man. But Jake had been a happy surprise, with his mesmerizing blue eyes, warm smile, strong but gentle nature – as well as being incredibly sexy.

She had convinced herself the relationship with Jake was nothing more than a fling. After all, she had a life in Newport, with society friends and a lucrative career as a family court judge. Still, Jake had a definitive hold over her, and she was finding it hard to think clearly where he was concerned.

The demons of prior failed marriages haunt them both, and threaten to end things just as they are beginning. When Jake tells Eve he is falling in love with her, Eve refuses to believe it can last. Returning to Newport, the hollowness of her existence exposed, she must confront her fears before she loses Jake forever




How to Have a Fabulous Weekend Close to Home!

There is a jewel of an island called, Kent Island, just over the Bay Bridge and the perfect getaway without all the travel!  And, there just off Route 50 is the beautiful Kent Manor Inn which became our home for a weekend.  (I did not take my camera so the photos you see here were all taken with my iPhone!) 



I know the Kent Manor Inn from photographing countless weddings over the years and always wanted to go back to experience it!  I was disappointed, though, that the dinners are no longer served in the restaurant.  However, there were many restaurants close by so it didn't take us long to hop in the car and go to a casual dining spot overlooking the water!!  Our room was wonderful!  It had a working fireplace that overlooked the glass enclosed Octagonal House and it had a beautiful four-poster king size bed plus a great balcony where we enjoyed beautiful views as you can see from these images.







So what's to do on Kent Island?  Well, for starters if you are a nature buff and love the outdoors, visiting the Chesapeake Bay Wildlife Center is a must.  Just minutes away from the Inn, we walked the trails and were lucky enough to see eagles and hawks in flight.  Here are some images to tempt you in the hopes that you, too, would love to see some wonderful sights so close to home.








And, what isn't a weekend without visiting Historic Stevensville!!!  After our nature walk and a quick pub lunch, we wandered over to the historic part of Stevensville to do some antique shopping (the Ren Man who is a train buff found a couple of old cars and I found a wonderful product to restore pine furniture plus of a couple of "new" scarves!")  Then we visited Positively Fabulous, which really lives up to its name!!! It is so worth going to this wonderful new shop, especially if you are looking for that special gift for a girlfriend.  Filled with unique and fun items (I can't spill the beans because I went a little crazy buying Christmas presents for my young professional step-daughter).  But suffice to say, if you like wine...do yourself the favor by visiting this wonderful unique shop!!!



And, just as we were ready to leave, the Ren Man pointed out the Cottage Chic Shop, better known as the  Paris Grey Shop.  It has a variety of antique and vintage decor, painted furniture, coastal and seaside decor, industrial and architectural salvage, linens, lavender, Dash & Albert rugs. The shoppe is vintage chic, mixing the old with the new.

So, we wandered in.  And what a delight it was for all the senses!  The soaps were heavenly, the lace was beautiful and soft to the touch and the decor was simply "to die for!"  I found the most amazing basket for newborn sessions, an old tool box which will store incoming mail and an almond bar of soap whose aroma just fills the room!!  Sheila, the owner was so pleasant to talk to: the kind of person that you are so happy to meet and who just makes you feel great!!  I will definitely pop in again in the near future!




Saturday evening was capped off with a little visit to Italy via Rutico Restaurant and Wine Bar, a fine dining establishment that will win over anyone who loves authentic Italian food, fine dining and exceptional service!!  Definitely a 5-star establishment and one I would highly recommend for someone looking for a wonderful culinary experience!!  We will definitely be back.  (I had already been there once for lunch with a dear friend and couldn't wait to share this beautiful place with the Ren Man who througoughly enjoyed the meal, the ambience and the great service!) 


And to cap off the wonderful weekend, we enjoyed a Bailey's Irish Creme (well, OK, I enjoyed the Bailey's Irish Creme) by the warm and cozy fireplace!


It was difficult to just up and leave on Sunday morning so we made reservations for Sunday Brunch at the Inn and enjoyed a scrumptious champagne brunch, all the while sitting in the porch overlooking the garden and the Octagonal House.


And, alas, it was time to go but not without one last stop at the outlets where we shopped for holiday gifts for family and friends and then it was back to the farmhouse to have Casey, our Yellow Lab greet us with Casey kisses.  But before we did, we had to go over the dreaded Bay Bridge and how does one get over one's fear?  Take lots of photos and before you know it you are on the other side!



If you live on this side of the bridge or on the other side of the bridge, no matter...Kent Island is a jewel just waiting to be discovered!  Make it a point to visit Historic Stevensville...you will be pleasantly surprised!!!


The RenMan (ie, Michael) had received an invitation to a reception at the Ravens Stadium and asked if I, Shaun,  Rory and Mike, Jr. would like to go and meet Vonta Leach as well as have a tour of the locker room and the stadium.  Ah, yeah...I would, very much so!  And, as the RenMan always does, he promises and delivers!!

On a wet Friday night, we drove up to the Stadium where we met up with Rory and Shaun and were greeted at the door and escorted to the event.  Who should greet us but two beautiful Ravens Cheerleaders.  The RenMan readily agreed to have a photo taken with them.




After drinks and eats, we hung around a bit and while waiting for Vonta Leach, we managed to get a few family photos in...


My three sons, Rory, Mike, Jr. and Shaun...they look so bored, don't they?


Shaun, Me and Rory...waiting for Vonta Leach


And then Vonta quietly showed up.  No fanfare, no big announcement, just quietly showed up.  Here he is with Shaun.



He graciously answered questions and then posed with many guests.  Rory and Shaun stood in line and took advantage of this opportunity to meet and greet and have a formal photo taken.  Afterwards, we were directed to the Ravens locker room where we were free to roam.





And, then the grand finale...actually stepping out onto the field!  Here is a photo of Shaun in the pouring rain!  To actually stand on the field where the Ravens ,the SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS,  play was truly a remarkable moment!  GO RAVENS!




And, here is Rory's version of running the field.  Worth the watch....a 100 yard dash for a  T O U C H D O W N!!



What a fabulous night we all had.  Not only was it a night to remember (truly memorable) but it was also a fun family night to remember!  Thank you, Ren Man for making dreams come true.




Kyle and Joanna's wedding!

I had the fortunate opportunity to photograph this beautiful couple recently!  It was such a pleasure and honor to do so, esp. since I have known Kyle since Gator Soccer Days!!  Kyle's Mom and I were the quintesstinal soccer moms!  Since, this is a very special couple, I wanted to share their wonderful story with you!





Joanna and Kyle both work for Davidsonville United Methodist Church.  Kyle is the Assistant Pastor and Joanna is the Director of CrossRoads Child Development Center.  Ironically, even though Kyle has attended longer (it is his home church), Joanna has been an employee for two years more than Kyle.  Joanna remembers during her interview, after mentioning her love for singing and theatre, it was suggested that she talk to Kyle.  Kyle, currently leading theatre and doing music at the church, was told the same thing about Joanna.  However, for years, despite innocent intrigue, the two did not pursue each other.  Joanna thought the punk rock Kyle would never be
interested in her type and that he had some growing up to do. Kyle felt the same way about Joanna and her presumed yacht club membership.  However, as fate would have it, Kyle did grow up and Joanna managed to stay youthful at heart.


They both remember the earthquake of a couple years ago, when they were both at the church.  Joanna, always worried about any serious weather phenomena, consulted Kyle for reassurance.  Bible in hand, they had their first at-length spiritual conversation.  Little did they know how that may have laid the groundwork for over a year later...
It wasn't until the summer of 2012 that Kyle and Joanna finally began realizing a romantic attraction towards one another.  They both remember the earthquake of a couple years ago, when they were both at the church.  Joanna, always worried about any serious weather phenomena, consulted Kyle for reassurance.  Bible in hand, they had their first at-length spiritual conversation.  Little did they know how that may have laid the groundwork for over a year later...
It wasn't until the summer of 2012 that Kyle and Joanna finally began realizing a romantic attraction towards one another.  They both remember the earthquake of a couple years ago, when they were both at the church.  Joanna, always worried about any serious weather phenomena, consulted Kyle for reassurance.  Bible in hand, they had their first at-length spiritual conversation.  Little did they know how that may have laid the groundwork for over a year later...


Given their positions at Davidsonville United Methodist Church, they both knew the responsibility that would come with a relationship, and so, upon receiving the church's blessing (and at the encouragement of the youth), they dove headfirst into dating and haven't looked back since.  


Since then, Joanna has grown in her knowledge of theology and her understanding of biblical exegesis, and with special help from Joanna's son Harrison, Kyle has learned new things like how to change a diaper and the names of all the trains on Thomas the Tank Engine.  In truthfulness, Kyle fell in love with and committed himself to Harrison just as soon as he did to Harrison's mommy.  It is true, Kyle, Joanna, and Harrison already felt like they were a family and are thrilled that it is now finally official!







Kyle and Joanna share a love of Starbucks (and possibly a mild caffeine addiction!), however, during one of their initial conversations they realized they also both enjoyed Caribou Coffee.  So, it was only a small surprise when Kyle showed up at Joanna's office with a latte from Caribou one day. Little did she know that Kyle had written, "Dinner Friday?" on the inside of the sleeve (she still has the sleeve) until a text message encouraged her to check.  Joanna loved how sweet and clever Kyle was and was so excited for their first date at The Melting Pot where they closed the restaurant down.  Their second date was to see the movie, "Rock of Ages" where they further discovered their mutual love of music and musicals. 

The Proposal:
On May 21st, after a walk downtown Annapolis by the water, Kyle stopped with Harrison in his arms and whispered something to him.  Harrison looked up at Joanna and shouted, "Surprise!" Kyle said, "Wait!  Not yet." and whispered more in Harrison's ear as Joanna stood there wondering what they were talking about.  Then Kyle said, "Why don't we show mommy what we're talking about?!"  
Kyle got down on one knee with Harrison sitting on the other knee and as he and Harrison reached into the pocket of his jacket, they pulled out a jewelry box.  Kyle opened the box and asked if Joanna would marry him.  Harrison immediately wanted the ring, saying, "I'll hold it."  Then said, "That's for mommy!"  
What Joanna and Kyle didn't know was that some tourists visiting Annapolis took pictures of all of them while all this was happening! After, they approached Joanna and Kyle and told them they took pictures, they exchanged contact information and got a priceless photo (see our website) of Kyle and Harrison putting Joanna's engagement ring on her finger!






Why We Chose Our Theme:
We have always said our life together is like a musical.  The quote on our invitation says it all, "We have come to a place where everything is music."  During our wedding planning process, Kyle described our wedding best saying, "It's like you're going to a Green Day concert designed by Kate Spade."  We felt the best representation of our personalities was an emphasis on music and color.  We also strongly value our family and our faith, so it was important to have our family members participate in the service as well as involving both Methodist and Catholic clergy as officiants.  Getting Kyle's Youth Group to help was an added bonus.



And, they lived happily ever after...






End-of-Summer Celebration

OK, I admit it!  I am in love with my job!!  I get to photograph the darnest, cutest kids ever and today's session is no exception!  I have been photographing this family for 8 years and have photographed them each year so it is always such fun to see them grow up!  They loved their summer which was spent at their grandparents home in upstate New York as well as a trip to Ocean City!  They love swimming, fishing and even love each other (well, most of the time!)

Today's session was a blast!  Here is what they got up to.

I thought it best to get this image to show the connection without showing their faces.


And, here they are, full of sweet, wonderful expressions!  How cute and adorable are they!



As we are exploring the gardens, we meet up with our resident bunny.  This bunny has nothing on Mr. McGregor's bunny, Peter.  This bunny lives in Ms. McCarthy's garden and yet has a name.  Suggestions were:  Luke, Jr (guess who came up with that one!) and Bubbles!!  They wanted to know if the bunny had to pay for a session!!!!



So, Luke, Jr or Bubbles rather enjoyed the company and paid us no attention at all.  He/she was happily having a late breakfast!  Here he/she is with my little spitfire!



After fishing, exploring the gardens and goofing around, I got this photo which really sums it all up!  Yes, they were truly having fun at the farmhouse!!



And, what's a photo session at the farmhouse without trees?  Trees!!!  Climbing trees...here's a quick peek of one child in a tree:





And, here are the girls..growing up altogether too fast!




Do you know what I like best about this photo session???  Mom recognizes that these are fleeting moments and now we have turned those fleeting moments into happy, lasting memories!


Happy Summer, Everyone!







August is here and with it comes our annual DOG DAYS OF SUMMER SPECIAL.  To read all about it and Canine Companions for Independence, please click here.  Our August newsletter is full of valuable information such as the deadline for ordering your copy of the 2014 Little Angel Calendar to benefit AAMC NICU, a What Fun playdate at the Farmhouse and Smyth Jewelers fundraiser to benefit CCI.


It took an Angel to Save his Life




Meet Levi who had served his purpose with his previous owners and was destined for the meatlot.  A wonderful woman saw his photograph online and something about his face compelled her to save him!  She paid $1000 and brought him to Freedom Hill Horse Rescue not knowing where he would end up. She just knew it felt right! 

Her instincts proved right.  Levi found a home at my client's place where he is being trained as a therapy horse for her son who is autistic.  Although skittish when meeting new people, Levi's beauty and character draws the viewer in wanting to know more about him and wanting to assure him all is right with his world.  He is loved and well taken care of!  My client contacted Levi's angel to let her know his new purpose and Levi's angel burst into tears!  Sometimes one is driven to do something without knowing why.  It just felt right for her.  She has been assured that Levi has a loving home and is serving a beautiful purpose as a therapy horse for a beautiful little boy who never ceases to amaze me when I see him.   

And, I too, found something hauntingly beautiful in Levi's face!