This sweet boy and I had a ball earlier this summer at my Summer Minis! When his Mama reached out to recruit me to capture his 1 Year Milestone I was over the moon! All that cake smash messiness and baby baths gives me life!!
A set custom created to mom and dad's specific desires for their blue-eyed baby boy, they wanted colors that would make their little mans eyes POP, I think we did it!
No epic cake smash is complete without a few tears LOL
One of the most awesome things about my Cake Smash & Splash Sessions is you get to go home with a (relatively LOL) clean baby! Even more fun than the Cake Smash is the Bath, especially when bubbles are in involved!!!
Mama has taken a photo of this sweet baby boy every month with his little hand made, gold fish baby blanket to document his precious growth and monthly Milestone. When we were discussing what theme she had in mind she was thinking of something Nautical or Beachy, perhaps, and then we thought it would be fun to incorporate his baby blanket somehow, as it seemed fitting to finish his first year with the baby blanket in tow!
I always tell Mom and Dad, a One Year Milestone isn't just a Milestone for the baby, it signifies the completion of that first epic, trying year of teething, sleepless nights, fever changing phases and cues, going from no kids or to more kids, it's always an all around adjustment for everyone! It's a celebration for all of how they've ALL grown together as a family and transitioned to a new Normal.
I tailor my custom Cake Smash Sets to the parents wishes and I take care of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! All they have to do is bring the baby (and an outfit change, if desired)! Depending on the schedule and demands of my families, I love doing on in-person consultation or we can do it all on the phone, whatever works for them! Mom sent me a pic of the baby blanket and arrived to a custom designed set of intricately hand crafted fish cut outs to match her sweet boys baby blanket and an awesome balloon arch to really give this little set some dramatic flare, as well as an artistically decorated cake ready to be smashed (this artist edible was done by the talented Heather's Hot Buns Bakery)!!
My Cake Smash & Splash Sessions always include a good clean up in a fabulous bubble bath in either my granite basin or little baby clawfoot tub! And what FUN the babies have freely splashing!!
When you're a Mom, every day is the same, and every day is different. We wake up to either one of two alarms; the one we manually set before we go to bed, or the ever-reliable baby face, bright eyed and bushy tailed, morning breath and/or poopy diapers infiltrating the sensitive mom nose at the butt crack of dawn, with way too much energy for the adults who are sleepily squinting, struggling to get one eye open. The hurdles Moms face in the day-to-day to keep the pieces of ourselves together when we spread ourselves so thin over so many different places are endless; the mountain that grows daily no matter how much of it you chip away, similar to the dreaded laundry pile.
Whether you stay home with your babes, you work the 9-5, the nightshift, work from home (while managing your kids, yikes!), your kids are in daycare, you have a nanny, you're a single parent, co-parent, etc.; we are all sitting next to each other on the same struggle bus, and yet we still sometimes feel so lonely. You may have a partner or spouse, or you may be rocking Motherhood all on your own. Before having kids, when you heard the saying, 'It takes a village', the reality of how many hands, eyes and ears you could use becomes an epic light bulb moment once you take that sweet little bundle home. Sometimes our village is absent, or lacking in villagers, leaving us with this guilt and panic of not being able to simply 'keep up'. Our challenges might not all be paralleled, but they are, in some sense, the same.
We all love and adore our children with boundless limitations, I think that goes without saying. We would die for you, but, no, I don't want to share my doughnut (no shame!). I would take your illness and suffer it myself in a heartbeat if I could, but if you wipe your snot on me one more time...!! As I sit here and write this, I am attempting to keep my 3 & 6 year olds entertained outside, taking 20 minutes to set up a kiddy pool with toys galore, they have an amazing play set, a 4 wheeler, all the while still requesting something every 2 minutes (I timed it!), 'Mom, look at me!', (adorable), 'Mom, look at this' (still cute), 'Mommy where is [insert toy that is within their eye sight]' (heavy eye roll), 'Mommy I want to go inside', (OMG!!!). I am one of those parents who works from home, who has one of her kiddos in daycare 2 days a week and the other is in school 4 hours a day. My struggles are my own, but they are everyone elses, too. While I attempt to get work done after they go to bed at 8:30 every night, some nights it's all I can do to keep my eyes open till 9 pm and I'm super excited to get to that sofa to fall asleep to This Is Us (because I'm not ready for 'bed' yet, damnit, and it's finally my ME time!). Some nights I'm up till 2 am with deadlines that cannot wait and I'm paying for it the next day with the aforementioned kiddy alarm system.
Society recognizes Mothers Day in May, but our babies recognize us every day. With the nuzzles so hard you'd think they were trying to get back in your belly, the kisses that eliminate the need for facial moisturizer, the way their little hands grab onto yours when they feel scared, or nervous or overwhelmed. There is literally nothing like being a Mom. But we are so, SO much more than that. We are Strong and Beautiful, Wise and Resilient. We are Resourceful and Creative, Soulful and Selfless. We are Sexy and Loving, Patient and Impatient. Some of us are Career-driven, some of us have found our joy in being solely a Mom and caregiver. When you are lucky enough to have a partner in life, an equal, and someone who treats us as such, it is everything. You have won the lottery. I am not dismissing the idea that Dad's have amazing roles, too, especially ones that help to fold the continuous loads of laundry, do the litany of piling dishes, change the poopy diapers and handle bath times. But May is for Moms! I am highlighting some local Moms this month who tell us all about their struggles, their role as Mom and Entrepreneur and how they juggle it all. Leave a comment and/or tips other moms can take and apply to their lives. Who doesn't need a little help?!
Tell me about your career and/or Tittle and a little about your business related responsibilities?
Hi, my name is Maria Kramer and I am the founder of Hooray! Smiles, Slides and Coffee but most importantly, I am a mother of two young girls, Katerina (3 years old) and Juliana (1 year old).
Since I was around 12 years old, I knew I wanted my career to be related to guest services so after high school I decided to move from Guatemala to Gainesville, Florida to pursue my dreams and study Hospitality Management. My passion for guest services and hospitality management drove me to graduate with a triple major in Event Planning, Restaurant Management, and Hospitality Management from UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management. My experience in the hospitality and event planning industry includes executing conventions at the Gaylord National Harbor, corporate events, military events, weddings, family reunions, adult birthday parties, baby showers, kids parties, fundraisers and more.
When I read Brandi’s question in regards to my business related responsibilities, it took me a while to think about what they really are. Basically, if you have been to Hooray! and seen me running around you must be thinking… girl, she is all over the place! Being the owner of a new, family owned, local business comes with a whole range of responsibilities and job titles. Some of them include business owner, manager, front desk agent, event manager, social media and marketing manager, and of course #Momboss.
What led you to today’s career path?
What led my husband and I to create Hooray! is parenthood. We moved to Virginia Beach from Washington DC when I was about 5 months pregnant to be closer to Dennis’ family. I arrived to Virginia Beach already feeling a bit lonely as moving here meant leaving my dream job, my friends, and the “city life” that I absolutely adored. Even though I knew being close to family in the biggest journey of our lives, parenthood, was more important than any title and city life, I couldn’t help to be a little bit sad about leaving that behind.
When my first daughter arrived, I took a three month maternity leave thinking that it was going to be a “vacation” but, girl, was I wrong. My maternity leave was during winter time which kept me cooped up in our house for the entire winter season. What I thought was going to be the most amazing three months of my life ended up being just about the opposite. I was lonely, emotional, scared, and exhausted. For the first time in my life, it was a struggle to make it through my day.
It was after I went back to work for three months that I called my husband and pitched him the idea of Hooray! and somehow convinced him that it would be a great addition to the community of Virginia Beach. I wanted families in the area to have a place where they could go with their young children and feel welcomed. I wanted to help relieve parenthood stressors by having a clean, safe, and enjoyable place where you could not only come when you where feeling lonely, stressed, and overwhelmed, but also a place where you can celebrate life’s milestones and interact with your kids. About a week after pitching my husband the idea, I called him and told him I was quitting my job… two hours later my boss had my one month notice and about 18 months later the dream of Hooray! became a reality.
What does success mean to you, as a Mom and as a Professional?
Through out the past couple of years, I learned that success does not come easy, in fact at least for me, success comes with heartache, tears, restless nights, family and social life sacrifices and finding strengths I didn’t know I had before motherhood or owning a start-up business. Success is something that can’t be measured in quantities.
In order to hold on to my sanity in both my Mom and professional life, I learned to live in the present. Success to me is measured in a “just for today” scale. I wake up with a purpose and a reasonable goal for the day, and as long as I give today my all, I am successful. I live by the quote “Forget yesterday. It has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow. You haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes, and your heart to a truly precious gift; TODAY.” And be present!
Describe a typical day that involves both your professional role and your mom role.
My days are long, busy, and full of love. I am very blessed with having Dennis as my partner, husband, and baby daddy! Our day starts around 6:00am and ends around 11:30pm.
6:00am - Dennis walks our sweet dog, Penny, while I make the girls breakfast and get them ready for the day. When Dennis is ready for work, the girls are ready for daycare. I think it’s really sweet how every school day he drives them; it’s their thing, and I love him for taking time out of his busy schedule to make special time for them.
8:00am - 5:30pm - Being that I am all over the place when it comes to my business role, I had no choice but to ask my friend and coffee manager Brittany to describe Maria as a business mom.
Maria through Brittany's eyes:
“From the moment Maria pulls up to the building I know she is on a Mission. I sit back and watch and wonder what is coming out of the mini van; then I proceed to guess what she has in mind for the day. I always know what kind of day she is having based on her coffee drink of choice… if she orders what she refers to as a “Black out”… which of course in the barista world is known as “Black eye”, that means it’s ON! And let me tell you… sometime it doesn’t end there. LOL.
In Maria’s world, no task is done half way… she is truly compassionate in everything she does. In her world, there is no such thing as a small or big project. She goes far beyond what everyone expects of her. If it is not about a party, it is about an upcoming event, social media and marketing strategy, or always thinking of a way to help our community grow into a brighter and better future. She never stops. As a business woman, her heart is at Hooray!. When she leaves, I am 120% positive she is equally as compassionate and dedicated in her role as a mom or even more so if that is even possible.” - Brittany
5:30pm to 8:00pm - Back to my Mom Role. Sometimes I try to beat Dennis for school pick up as it makes me feel a little bit more accomplished and less guilty when once in a blue moon I make it to their school before he does. Once we are all at home, we hang our business hats and try to make the best out of our time together even when we are exhausted. We cook dinner, we give the girls a bath, we get them ready for bed, and then usually Dennis reads Nina a bedtime story while I cuddle Julie to bed.
8:00pm to 11:30pm (if we are lucky) - When the girls go down, we work together as business partners and I usually fill Dennis up with what the day looked at Hooray! Then we talk about business plans, future ideas, events, work on social media posts, schedule meetings, and work on everything that needs to be done with the hopes of keeping Hooray! successful and our customers happy. If on that day we get a review, a message, or a simple compliment we know that on that day we were successful!
How has your partner contributed to you as a Mother and as a career oriented woman?
Dennis is my partner in crime, my rock, and my cheerleader. Without him, none of this would be possible. Our relationship is not perfect. As any other marriage, we have our moments. I would lie if I told you we have the perfect partnership. We argue, we annoy, we cry, and we have bad days, but mostly we laugh, we strive, we grow, and, most importantly, WE LOVE. He pushes me to my limits and because of that I find strength in ways that I didn’t know possible. He is hardworking, caring, loyal, an exceptional father, and human being. He believes in my concept and because of him and his dedication and support, Hooray! is a reality today.
I truly believe in our wedding song “God gave me you” because despite our happy or sad moments, we always manage to overcome everything stronger than the day before. HE has given me the biggest gift of all in Motherhood and together we have created wonderful things for our family and other families in our community.
What, specifically, brings joy to your daily life/ guilty pleasure?
My husband’s caring ways, my daughters giggles and innocent ways, and of course our customer's appreciation and sweet reviews.
In my “time off”, l love cooking, photography and watching a good show.
Describe the most rewarding day as a Mom/most rewarding day in your career.
Everyday I get to spend with my children and my husband is a win for me. With our business being open 7 days a week, my husband having a full time job, and Hooray’s birthday parties and events happening during the weekend, I don’t get a full family day very often. All these things have made me appreciate the moments we get together way more than I used too.
I would say that emails, reviews, and letters from our guests mean the world to me. I love receiving notes, gifts, and compliments from people that visit our facility. It makes my day knowing that our hard work and dedication to Hooray! has impacted someones life in a positive way.
Describe your most challenging day as a mom and career.
This is a hard one to answer, to be honest with you everyday feels like a challenge to me. I struggle with separating my business life and mom life on a daily basis, but when my daughters are happy to see me and give me all the love I need after a long day, I know I am doing something right.
Are you the Mom you envisioned you wold be? If not, how is it different?
Not at all. I always thought motherhood was easy and came with a manual…I was totally wrong. I’ve learned that everyday is different and it is ok to not be a “perfect mom” and let things go. I used to be really hard on my self about little mom things, but I’ve learned that “There is no way to be a perfect mom but a million ways to be a good one.” I am doing my best and I might not be perfect, but my kids are happy, healthy, and very loved and that is my own version of perfect.
I am usually documenting Families, Babies and Bellies. But every once in a while I get to capture something magical and inspiring, enter Kimmi & Thomas. These two were all sorts of giggles and starry eyes when we met for our Consult/Gown fitting. I love to hear the story of how it all began. Everyone has a story, the one you'll tell your children one day, the first chapter in your book. These two met when they were both working at Chik-fil-A! While their romance may not have blossomed there, it was the start of a beautiful friendship that was destined for more...
This being their very first professional Portrait Session, I was elated to show them all the fun that was in store! Believe me when I say they were total naturals in front of the camera and the electric energy between them is undeniable.
Gorgeous Hair & Make Up by Glam by Jazzy Adams
Listening to these lovebirds tell me their story, there were way too many coincidences to deny that these 2 are meant to be. Pleasure House Point was the perfect, romantic spot to capture their love. Kimmi donned a Chicaboo gown and flower crown from the AEC client closet, clearly one of the most versatile garments ever as this works beautifully on a size 2 or an expecting mama!
Once I get my couples to relax we get to play, which is when the real magic happens; the adoring gazes and the giggles (and, sometimes, attempts at choking LOL)!
This classic ring belonged to her parents and now she gets to begin her journey wearing it with the man she adores.
A gorgeous couple with a gorgeous sunset, what more can you ask for?!
Looking onto the adventure ahead, full of joy, love, smiles, tears, new places, new challenges and changes, and they cannot wait to face it all together.
They will be saying their vows to each other in front of the ones they love in July at The Founders Inn, it is bound to be one of the most intimate, beautiful, epic moments of their lives!
This sweet boy has been in front of my camera since he was in his mama's belly! Few things bring more warm and fuzzy feelings than getting to capture a little one from birth to Milestone!
This little man's mane was something to ROAR about for sure!
How many takes does it take for 3 brothers to look like they're playing nice...more than 4! LOL
No matter how adorable the babies are, you always have to get a 'NOT happy' capture!
I am SO elated to finally have a face diver in my studio!! He went face first into the cake and mama and I were loving it!!!
He was face first not once but multiple times, he attacked that cake like a little Lion, YES!!!!
What better way to finish off a lathering in icing than a Bubble Bath?!
A very happy happy birthday to this little Valentine, her sweet, spunky little personality shined through during her 3 year Milestone session and I had an absolute blast catching her precious giggles!!
A pretty princess portrait isn't complete without some glitter!
You know you've got a winner image when you can see the personality of the kiddo, and hers is as shiny as glitter!!
Just as sweet as when I met this little gal back in 2017...
This sweet boy was full of personality and spunk, and he only had eyes for mama! I just adore this little sailor outfit, the latest sweet addition to my client closet!
There is something so precious about this stage, as they begin to sit with more strength in their little bodies, they begin to see a whole new world with every inch they rise.
What expressions this baby boy had, he lasted through 3 outfit changes and then he was done!
Gotta love those sweet little feet!!