Underwater Family Portraits | ISR

Virginia Beach, VA

underwater family portraits

I was amazed that we captured the image below in camera!  The girls went underwater to do a handstand and Christen Buchert, The Swim Lady, released the baby at just the right moment! I love how he’s looking at his big sisters!

We did this shoot to celebrate him graduating from ISR.  The kiddos can start as early as 6 months old learning to float if they accidentally fall into the water.  Once they can walk they learn to float and then swim and float until they reach the side of the pool or safety.  This is such an important skill for the little tunas who live on the Outer Banks or near water!

Underwater Family Portraits

These two would go underwater and then when they would pop back up he would laugh and laugh!!  They both have the most beautiful smiles!!  We love when parents get in, especially in their clothes! The kids are going to look back on their child hood photos and say, “Wow! Look how fun my parents were!”

Underwater Family Portraits


A Month in Chile | Villarica Volcano

Traveling with a Baby and a 4 Year Old

We found that Google Maps were not very accurate at determining the amount of time it would take to get from point A to point B in Chile. They usually said it would take double the amount of time as it actually took.  Our goal was to get from the Santa Cruz Valley to Villarica Volcano by Pucon however, it said it was about a 10 hour drive so we decided to break it up with a stop in the middle near LA at “El Rincon.” While it was beautiful it was pretty far out of the way, especially after a 4 hour drive with the kiddos.  We arrived with peanut butter and granola bars for snacks but since we hadn’t signed up for the 3 course dinner they offered there was no food available even though they grew all their own vegetable and fruits right outside.  We had to leave and drive at witching hour to LA to the grocery store where we got cheese, crackers and carrots for dinner since there also was no access to a kitchen.  This was quite stressful with the kids, Pops hadn’t napped and after driving for so long, arriving and Pops being so happy to be out of the car and then having to get back in the car to go back up long gravel roads to the highway it was melt down central.  We should have planned better and had more food with us to avoid this but in retrospect we could have just driven the 2 more hours to Pucon and avoided El Rincon all together since it was just a single night stop over before getting to Pucon.  They only allowed 2 people per room so John and Poppy had one room and Peaches and I had another.  The mosquitoes were pretty bad so they had mosquito nets over the beds which Poppy loved, it was like a princess bed! However, this was the most stressful part of the trip and if that was it, we will take it!

Planning is key on a trip with the kids.  They did provide a wonderful breakfast the following morning and Poppy enjoyed throwing leaves in a little ditch that ran down to a larger river and watching them go over the “waterfall.”

We packed back up after breakfast, showers and playing and headed to the Lake District, Volcano Villarica above lake Villarica. It was an uneventful drive with lots of “eye spy” and explaining what “junkies” and hitchhikers are. The things we had to explain on this trip were pretty out there, but isn’t that the point of travel? To learn things you would never encounter or experience at home!  Then we played rhyming and spelling games as we drove to Villarica and then up to Pucon where we drove around the busy town before finally finding a parking spot and a pizza joint.  We had a yummy veggie pizza where the server told us the volcano was at “red alert” which we had kept checking because it is set to go off any year now. There has been lots of activity in it and it usually goes off every 25 years but now it’s been 30 years. It has been spewing some lava and lots of smoke but the server was wrong it was not a red alert but still a yellow alert. This terrified John and he was already on edge from navigating (I drove everywhere and he told me where to go), finding a grocery store and water and he was slightly nervous about the volcano but the red alert scare sent him into a bit of a panic.

We discussed it and decided to head on up to Mirador Los Volcanoes after hitting up a grocery store.  It wasn’t far but there was no proper map to tell us how to get here. We arrived and even in first gear we kept stalling out and sliding backwards. We had to get a “running start” to get up the mountain to reception. We checked in and the receptionist drove us back down that mountain and up another to our cabin which was well worth the crazy drive!  It was an amazing 2 bedroom cabin with a view out the sliding glass doors of the volcano. Good for me, but the constant pouring of smoke out the top kept John on his toes.

There were 2 playgrounds, 2 pools, 2 hot tubs, sheep which Pops loved herding and a grill. And even better it was booked on AM Ex points so it was “free!”  The girls played for a bit, Pops on the playground and Peaches on the bed learning to crawl.

A highlight of the trip was us taking turns going to the hot tub down the mountain with the volcano in the background at sunset. It was magical, other worldly….

Mirador Los Volcanoes by Villarica Volcano was our favorite part of the whole trip. It was beautiful, easy and such an adventure.  Turns out the week after we left, the volcano erupted!  Which wasn’t surprising, you can see at night the lava at the top which you can’t see during the day.

Villarica Volcano Chile

Poppy and I went horse back riding to a spot down the mountain with the volcano in the background.  She did such a great job!

Villarica Volcano Chile

Peaches figuring out how to crawl!

Villarica Volcano Chile

John imagining the worst!

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Magic! Villarica Volcano Chile


A Month in Chile | Santa Cruz/Colchagua Valley

Traveling with a Baby and a 4 Year Old

This stop was dedicated to wine tastings, visiting vineyards and outdoor pool time.  This was the only hotel that included a pack n play for Peaches (6 months) which was nice so we could leave hers in the car and made for less to unpack.  The staff was so friendly and the bed and breakfast feel was perfect.  It was a king bed with a single bed beside it for Poppy (4 yo).  Peaches bed was in the corner and the bathroom had a jacuzzi which Pops loved and treated as her private indoor swimming pool.

We only stayed 2 nights but enjoyed being able to put the girls to bed and then walk down to the lobby while they slept.  The hall way was right off the lobby and we were the only ones staying down in, thank goodness because Peaches did some screaming at night!

While the girls slept, John and I stayed up reading. Around 9pm we felt shaking and it sure enough was a 5.9 tremor from an earthquake that morning. The family sitting at the dining table beside us kept pouring his glass of wine and playing cards without looking up. That was our first earthquake.

We woke up after a night of Peaches crying like a Chilean gremlin. Peaches soaked her outfit and Poppy just wanted to go back to bed, but we carried on. The hotel staff had a nice breakfast waiting, with coffee, fruit, yogurt and some Chile biscuits. We jumped in the car, and drove for miles through pretty farm villages, over old cobbled dirt roads and past all sorts of farm animals, making for a great game of I Spy. We arrived at Vina Vik, an amazing winery and vineyard on a 10,000 acre private estate consisting of an entire valley. We were led on a private tour through the farm, where Poppy ate handfuls of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The tour led us to the winery, which looked like a spaceship that had landed in a mountain valley. The walkway to the winery led through a reflecting pool dotted with giant boulders. The pool sat over a giant 1500 barrel storage room that was cooled by the water running over the concrete above. The tank room was equipped with all new stainless space age equipment, and the wine tasting was done in a small glass walled room among the tanks. It was crazy. The wines were great, but the setting was so intense that the wines were certain to impress. We could only afford one bottle, but were thankful for the tour and the opportunity to see what must be one of the most impressive setups in South America. We followed that up by driving back in to Santa Cruz for a lunch at Vino Bello, an Italian restaurant situated among grapevines.

We got to taste the individual wines from the exact barrels that went into their single bottle of wine made for that year and then we got to taste the final wine.  Poppy was so good, coloring away and smelling each wine and Peaches just smiled at all of us.  After this we had lunch and pool time.  Poppy met a little girl who was 4 who was staying at the bed and breakfast and although they spoke different languages they had fun playing “hide and seek” and charades.  Pops learned the Spanish names for cat, dog, horse, ballerina and a few other animals.



Above the ceiling is the pool which cools the tanks and barrel room.


John and his gals in our hotel room before nap.



A Month in Chile | Pichilemu

Traveling with a Baby and a 4 Year Old

Pichilemu Domos were the second stop on our month long Chile tour.  John spent so much time researching the whole trip and he planned the perfect amount of time for each place based on activities to do around the areas.  We love the beach so he booked 4 nights here and we loved every second of it!

The Domos were so spacious with three bedrooms, one being upstairs and 2 downstairs, a full kitchen and living area, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect set up!  It was right across the street from the beach you just had to walk down a hill, across the street and down a path and you were there with a great view from the porch!  Since it had a tent top as the roof, it got as warm as it was outside during the day and as cool as it was outside at night.  They provided a heater and plenty of blankets so you could stay cozy at night.  It varied from the 40’s to the 80’s.

This is Pops frolicking down the path to the beach with her fern.  On the way to the beach I taught her how to pull ferns off their stem and then make a “flower” and toss them in the air, something I loved doing as a kiddo.

I took my 85mm and 24mm lens with me on our walks as I never knew which one I would need.  I know I would be more in the moment without my camera but what good does it do you 20 years from now when all the little moments are revisited by our kids and grand kids?


We took turns taking Pops to the beach while Peaches was napping, this is the domo with John sending us on our way with an “I Love You.”


Valentine’s day is always a special day in our household and I love that John is continuing that tradition for the girls!  He proposed on Valentine’s day and we’re usually off on adventures so it’s a fun day to always remember! He went to the store and came back with a rose for his girls.


There were gorgeous black sand beaches and the ocean was super chilly but it was their summer and all the locals got in anyways!  The surfers wore wet suits and Poppy just ran away! This photo was taken on a Saturday in the summer, the weekdays are much less crowded.  The sun sets around 9:30pm and this was taken close to 8pm.


We went to the point called “Punta de Lobos” to watch the surfers.  There was a very large sea lion swimming amongst them, from our vanish point on top of the rocks, the sea lion looked to be as large as the people!

Pops loves holding Peaches although she isn’t always so sure about it she never fusses!


We took a day trip to Buchelemu to see the tiny fishing town and watch the fishermen bring in their catch.  They go out in the rough ocean in small boats and fish with nets, drive back to the shore and have tractors pull their boats up.  They fillet the fish on the boat and sell to whoever comes by, restaurants or private households.  You can tell who the tourists are!


  • Kathryn Roebuck Holding - Love reading these posts about your trip, Brooke! Your girls are precious. :)

A Month in Chile | Casablanca

Traveling with a Baby and a 4 Year Old

I had planned to blog more on our trip but the day we arrived I plugged in our noisemaker for the girls into the power adapter and blew up both of them.  From then on out we had to rely on the hotel we were staying to have an adapter and most did not. Luckily we brought car chargers for our phones but next time we will make sure to bring a car adapter so we can charge computers or phones in the car as we drive from place to place.

John did a phenomenal job of planning our trip.  He chose 11 amazing cabinas and he seemed to know the perfect amount of time to have us stay at each one based on what he found to do around the area and the size of the house.

We started out in Casablanca, about 45 minutes from Santiago airport.  We used credit card points to book Hotel Casablanca and we loved it.  It had one double bed and a small partition to separate the room, on the other side were two twin beds and the bathroom. The main bedroom area had a balcony that led to the pool and restaurant, which was delicious.  It was perfect to put the girls down for bed or nap (Peaches slept in the bathroom in her pack n play so when she fussed at night she had less of a chance of waking Poppy.) There was an indoor heated pool, an outdoor pool and a hot tub made from a large wine barrel heated by a wood stove that you had to put wood in when you wanted to heat it.  Poppy was in heaven! Since we had an overnight flight, we landed at 9am and were at our hotel by noon after we went through customs and got our rental car.

We had snacks of peanut butter, granola bars and dried fruit as we drove to the hotel.  Once we arrived Pops and John hit the pool while Peaches napped and I rearranged our packing.  Instead John having a bag and us gals having a bag, we moved all cool weather clothes to one bag and warm weather to one bag, this way at each location we only had to bring in our day bags, backpack, Peaches bed and one valise.

Pops declared she didn’t like Chile immediately because it was too hot and she thought it would be cold.  This was the only place it was hot day and night.

We drove into town to go to the grocery store and stopped by Maceradeo Restaurant for a heavenly lunch of Chilean Sea Bass, a delicious salad and wine.  At most restaurants we found they brought bread (more like a biscuit) with a tomato salsa and butter.  We usually would split an entree and salad amongst the three of us.  The day we left we also ate here and purchased handmade scarves, plant holders and hair bows.

Although most places said the drinking water was safe, we bought bottled water as I was worried that if I got a stomach bug I would be too dehydrated to nurse Peaches and most places we went did not have a large store where you could purchase diapers, baby food, formula or even fruits or veggies. The stores were more like convenient stores unless you were in a larger town and found a “Lider” which is the Chilean WalMart.

The following day we went exploring and found 2 wineries, Vina Indomita, which had the most gorgeous views of the coastal mountains and a porch where you could taste wines overlooking the vineyards below with an amazing mirror that reflected the valley and we went next door to Vina Mar which had such a fun champagne tasting! I learned the bubbles should start from the bottom of the glass and go towards the top and should not dissipate for at least two minutes and you should tilt your glass when you pour.  My favorite was the Extra Brut.

John and I took turns tasting from a man who spoke English outside on a terrace.  Peaches was sleeping in the car while Poppy played on the playground right by the car.  It was a perfect set up, a wine tasting ALONE!  Usually Poppy is with us and loves to smell each wine and try to decipher what it smells like, pretty funny!  This was a time where everyone got to do what they wanted at the same time!

We only met a 6 people the whole month who spoke English and the gentlemen who did our wine tastings were two of them.  I learned a little bit of Spanish but thank heavens John is fluent!

After our tastings here we went to Tanino in a winery called Casa Del Bosque for lunch. The two restaurants we ate in Casablanca were our favorites and the only ones we ate in more than once.  We came back to these two the last two days of our trip.

I took my camera almost everywhere with me. I tried to remember “the best camera is the one you have on you” and I tried to make it my D700 and used my 24mm lens for most the trip. I find landscapes are most striking when taken horizontally so you can see more of what the human eye sees.  At times when I didn’t have my good camera with me I did have my iPhone.

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Next post will feature Pichilemu!


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