The Perks of Not Giving Our Kids a Cell Phone

I was in a Parenting class on Sunday at our church when the question came up.  “What is one UNPOPULAR decision that you’ve made as a parent for your children?”  It took me a few minutes, but then I figured ours out.

Thus far, we have not given our kids their own cell phones.  And for as long as we can, we’re going to stick with it.  With a son in 7th and a daughter in 4th I knew the days were coming where the pressure would start for them to get their own.  After all, many of their peers have them and so of course, they want them as well.


But for me, it’s been such an internal conflict.  On the one hand, I know there are perks.  For instance, it’s nice to have an option to keep in touch with your kids.  It’s nice to be able to know what they are doing and where they are at.  We actually started out the year with a third “Family phone.”  Which meant that it wasn’t for texting friends, but only for us to get in touch when needed.  It didn’t end well.  Because the first one technically ended up dropped in the Bay and the replacement was also dropped (screen cracked) and started to introduce some of the many non-perks of letting your child have a phone.


A bit of history.  Jeremy and I grew up in the late 80s into the 90s.  We played outside all day long, we rode bikes and we talked face to face with our fiends.  Sure, my sisters and I played games on our Super Nintendo, but often times it was with each other or with friends and since it was connected to our family television, it was naturally a limited privilege.  Sometimes, looking around and seeing toddlers who can navigate cell phones better than some adults makes me wonder.  What will a generation of kids who have access to constant screen entertainment grow up to be like?


I should make note.  This post isn’t to judge or to shame.  It’s simply my mom’s heart, trying to express concerns that I have for our own kids who are growing up in this tech generation.  I very much love kids and other people’s kids, but I have a huge burden for our own kids and for our desire to raise them to become successful and productive and God-loving adults and so this is where these thoughts are coming from.


We went to Maine a few weekends ago.  Our kids got to explore some of the most amazing places.  They could have stayed and played for hours.  And it made my heart so happy to see them outdoors, enjoying this incredible world that God has given us.  A keener awareness of the world around them, is definitely a perk of non-phones.


Another is teaching them to find their self worth and value in who they are, and not in how many people like their social media.  We have a daughter, and I have this extra burden with her that she would not get caught up in the comparison game that happens all around us every day.  Social media tends to enhance this, since you can see what everyone else is doing all the time, and it naturally feeds the need to compare.  I want her to be strong and kind and beautiful because she has a beautiful heart and because she is confident in who she is because she is loved not only by her friends and family, but most of all by Jesus.  If they ever develop an app for that, then that would be worthwhile, right?


Like I mentioned before though, our decision to not let our kids have cell phones isn’t alway a popular one.  They aren’t always thrilled by it, but too bad.  My goal as a mom isn’t that our kids get everything they want in life.  My goal is that I can help them as much as I can to be kind and good and hardworking adults that aren’t a menace to society.  But this doesn’t just happen.  It takes work.  And sometimes them not being happy with me.


I know that when our kids aren’t plugged in so much to their technology, they are encouraged to get plugged in to the world around them.  Our son has taken extended technology breaks in the past, and these times have been so incredible for his heart and his body and his mind and his attitude.  Kids don’t need to be constantly entertained.  They need to be bored.  They need to go explore and to be outdoors.  They need the quiet time.  They need to daydream and to think and to have time to just figure it all out.


There is so much to see and do in this world, in this life.  And I want our kids to see it and to do great things.


It’s not an easy call.  And for the record, they do have access to other forms of technology.  We have iPads and they watch shows on tv, well, Netflix.  We aren’t completely off the grid.  But we do consciously work to limit it.  We give them set amounts of time and are trying to teach them that it’s a privilege and something earned after they do the things that they need to do.  I’ve already been interrogated by our older child as to why we are so STRICT.  But I’m mostly okay with being strict.


Because as I said, my end game is for their benefit.  We are desiring to raise our kids to be teens and adults that are present and personable.  We work with them so that they will hopefully learn a balance.  I’m sure at some point, things will change.  But for now, this is where we are, and as unpopular as it maybe, it’s what is working for us.


Finishing up this post, there’s totally this little voice in me that wonders if I’m the only one that has this struggle?  If you can relate, I’d love to hear any feedback… either in the comment section here or through Facebook🙂

Holiday Sessions 2016

As a professional photographer, I’ve taken other people’s Family Pictures for the past eight years.  It’s something that I truly love to do, because I love people and their families and I love giving them a portrait that they will love for years to come.  However, I truly understand that getting everyone dressed and together for a family picture is not always the easiest thing to accomplish.  Case in point was yesterday, when I got my own family together for a quick session of our own.

Now first off, I’m like most moms I know…  I love my family and when the Holidays roll around, what I want most is a nice picture of the ones I love.  I want it for our Christmas cards and I want it because it captures a moment in time where this is who we were.  But probably like most moms, I set my expectations super high and was somewhat stressed out before we even got started.  Since you probably couldn’t tell that from the picture, I just thought I’d put it out there, in honor of keeping it real.  The whole family picture went pretty well.  Thankfully, we had met up with Pastor Jerry and Deanna (because I was taking a picture of the two of them) and in turn they were able to take the one picture that I couldn’t, which was the one that I was in.  Overall, it went pretty well.


After that, it was time for one of the kids.  They did fine at the beginning.


I took one of the boys, and they had fun and in this shot helped to emphasize the photography rule of “no floating hands.”


Then I passed off the camera to Jeremy who captured this one of me and my favorite girl.


And I probably should have stopped there.  But as Mom, I just wanted one more of my precious kids.  Unfortunately, those precious kids were cold and ready to be done, and then it got tricky.  It became a pleading match of me asking them not to smile so weird and to try to look truly happy while they tried to convince me that it was too cold to do anything but be done.


It wasn’t picture perfect.  But by God’s grace, after a few tears and cross words from both sides, we called a truce and ended up finally getting the shot.

And I write all of this to let families (and especially moms know) that the struggle is real and I feel your pain.  It isn’t always easy to get good shots of our families no matter how much we try.  But this is where I come in.


Let me come and take your Holiday portraits.


I shoot on location, so we can meet practically anywhere.


I’m friendly and very much a people person, so chances are your family won’t mind me telling them to smile.  I also work quickly (because trust me, I get it) but get lots of great shots in the process.


I’ve worked with so many wonderful families over the yeas and this year, I would love to work with yours.  I have a lot of great locations that I shoot, or I can even come to the comfort of your own home.


And the result are portraits and pictures that you will love for years and years to come.  This year, I’m offering two different Holiday packages to fit the various needs of my clients:

The Digital Package Price: $250

The Digital Package includes a one hour, on-location session, and on-line gallery. You will be able to choose 10 digital images from that session on a disc, with copyrights so that you can choose where you would like to create all of your holiday cards, prints and gifts.

The Digital and Print Package Price: $350

The Digital and Print Package includes a one hour, on-location session and an on-line gallery. You will receive a package of Gift Prints including one 11×14, 2 8x10s, 4 5x7s and 4 3.5x5s in addition to a disc of all of the images from your session with copyrights, so that you can choose where you would like to create all of your holiday cards, prints and gifts.

To book your session, you can email me at: or contact me through  Facebook.  If you prefer, you can also call or text me at: 631-448-1100.

Holiday Sessions make the perfect gift for anyone!  Let me take the challenges out of getting great pictures of your family by booking your session today.


Strength for Michael

Today, we picked up our friend Sami and Michael’s sister Sarah and drove up all together to Kings Park.  When we got to the Rehab it was so good to see Michael.  He really looked great.  He had his arm and leg braces on when we greeted him and was wearing a cozy looking flannel, perfect for this chilly fall day.

It was a good day.  Which was extra special because Michael had had a really rough weekend.  He battled with a stomach virus which left him feeling pretty miserable, as you can imagine.  But thankfully today, it seemed to have mostly run his course and Michael was doing so much better.

We had a nice visit with Michael and Sally.  I delivered well wishes and greetings from many friends and even one from Michael’s high school Physics teacher, Mrs. Ward.  We had met at Christian’s Cross Country meet yesterday and I promised her I would tell give her greetings to Michael when we visited.  He double blinked his acknowledgement response and I’m sure it made him happy to know that Mrs. Ward was thinking of him.

Sally and I made plans to get a print of this beautiful sunset picture for Michael’s room.  It was taken by our friend Steve-O when Michael was at Stony Brook and to this day remains one of Sally’s favorites.


We thought it would look nice next to Michael’s poster.  His cousin Lauren made it for him and it’s always hanging up in his room, a constant reminder of the many family and friends who love Michael and are praying him through recovery.


I commented on the fun new fall decorations on Michael’s windowsill.  Sally shared that Mike (Michael’s Dad) had picked up the “Give Thanks” pumpkin and this was pretty heartwarming to me.  It was a simple reminder, that no matter what, gratitude can be a beautiful and powerful way to work through difficult times.


I also loved today’s visit because I got to see Sarah spend time with Michael and since the beginning, that has been one of my favorite things.  They have such a deep bond and there is something that is just so special about it.  Today, Sarah was working with Michael, helping him to do a “thumbs up.”  She was helping to hold his wrist up and we all were so excited to see the small movements as he worked to move his thumb.


All in all, it was a very nice visit.  As I mentioned before, we brought our friend Sami Argutto to see Michael today.  Sami was one of our Youth Group students and leaders.  She moved to Michigan for college and graduated this past year.  She hadn’t seen Michael since the accident so it was very special for her to get to spend time with him today.


And now for the exciting news.

Last week, I asked for prayers for Michael because of his upcoming Baclofen pump surgery.  He did some pre-surgical testing and many people were praying for good results with this.  God heard and answered our prayers and Michael is set to go in for surgery on Thursday.  He will be at Stony Brook and his scheduled surgery time is 6:30am.  In simple terms (because I’m not a medical professional) this surgery will be to implant a Baclofen pump.  Baclofen is the medicine that Michael takes for spasticity which basically makes all of his muscles tighten up.  The Baclofen helps to relax these muscles.  Having a pump means that the medicine will go right to his spine, making it hopefully much more effective and consistent.

All in all, I truly believe that the Baclofen pump will be something that will help Michael tremendously.  He did very well when they tested it through a Trial and now it’s time for the real deal.  So please join me in praying.  Praying for good health in the next few days.  Praying for peace for Michael and his family as he prepares for his upcoming surgery.  Prayers for the nurses and the doctor who will perform the surgery.  And prayers for a quick recovery and for success for Michael.  We pray that this pump will open doors for Michael in rehab and that God would continue to heal and restore all that he needs.


Thank you for following Michael’s story.  Thank you for praying for him.  I’ve met many wonderful people who have shared their love for Michael and their faithfulness in praying for his healing and it always means so much to know there are many people who are thinking of him.  Please share this request and please continue to keep Michael and his family in your prayers.

Eastport’s Little Secret: Fall Fun

It’s Fall in Eastport.  The air is crisp and the leaves are brilliant shades of reds, oranges and yellows.   It’s arguably one of our best times of year.


Fall is happening in beautiful ways all around us, and it’s certainly made a presence in our little town as well.  This past week, I found it at my favorite local boutique, Eastport’s Little Secret.


If you love shopping for sweet and unique treasures, then Eastport’s Little Secret is the store for you.  I’ve always been a fan of supporting locally owned shops, and this one is by far my favorite.  Owner Faye Michaelides, always keeps her shop stocked with fun and brilliant finds at fabulous prices.  She is friendly and personable and I always love chatting with her as she carefully wraps up my purchases in her signature gift bags and ribbons.


I could talk about Eastport’s Little Secret all day.  But what would probably be best is to just give you a glimpse of the fun products that Faye is currently carrying in her fantastic shop down on Eastport’s Main Street.


Even though we had a few unseasonable warm days this week, today was a great reminder that colder weather is well on its way.  Which would make these incredibly cute and cozy slippers a great gift for anyone.


Walk a few feet further and you’ll find an adorable display of boot socks.  Boot socks like these usually serve multiple purposes.  You’ll get warmth and comfort along with a fun style that peeks over the tops of your boots.


With Halloween just around the corner, I had to smile at these little stuffed creatures.  As a  parent, I loved that they would make the perfect non-sugar treat on a holiday that is, well, mostly surrounded by sugary treats.  I’m sure any dentist would approve as well.


Yes, Fall is most certainly in the air at Eastport’s Little Secret.


I absolutely loved the Thanksgiving products that Faye had on display.  These pillows have the perfect Fall feel and are even made in the U.S.A. which I always think is nice.


And right next to them I found the cutest Mud Pie Platters.  I love celebrating a holiday that thrives solely off of gratitude, because being thankful is an incredibly beautiful and fulfilling way to live life.


Against the back wall were some fashionable bags with a very local East Coast feel.


If you’re looking for a stylish bag with complementing accessories, you’ll definitely want to stop in and check out this selection.


And yes.  I know I’ve shared about these before.  But I can’t say enough about how much I love the MantraBands.  I have a silver one that says “Let Your Light Shine” and when I wear it, it’s such a great reminder of the way that I want to live my life.


Faye just got a new shipment in, and I was eyeing these two because I absolutely love the messages that they portray.


Speaking of jewelry, if you’re an Alex and Ani fan, Eastport’s Little Secret still carry a great selection of their bracelets.


As well as other reasonably priced earrings…


And fall scarves in the most fun patterns and styles.


If you give yourself time to look around, you can pretty much find a huge variety of gift items that any family member or friend would love.  Like these cozy and cute Monogrammed gloves.


Speaking of family…


Nothing speaks more family truth than this adorable spatula, right?


Looking around, Eastport’s Little Secret had some fun new items for the little ones as well.


And for the older kids in your life, more cozy stuffed animals


As well as some adorable and fashionable winter gear.


At Eastport’s Little Secret, you’ll find tons of gifts for those you love.  But what I think I love most, is the feeling I get when I’m shopping around for that perfect gift.  There are subtle messages everywhere in the store about living life in the most wonderful and beautiful ways.


And if you get the chance on a non-busy day, chances are, you’ll get to stop and have a little conversation with Faye.  In talking to her, you’ll quickly see the beautiful heart that she has, not only for customers and for her family, but also just for the world in general.  I know that whenever I can, I always pick up gifts for my friends at Eastport’s Little Secret.  I absolutely love supporting Faye and her shop because I know I’m supporting someone who looks for little opportunities each day to share love and to make a difference in the lives of others.


Wrapping this post up, I’ll share that even though summer is over, you can still find your beloved beach themed items in store.


There is also a great selection for pet lovers as well.


And finally, you can find already put together gift bags for those who are health and nature conscious.  I personally love the Naked Bee products and have bought them for myself as well as my friends.  I actually picked up this gift bag for a friend who shared today that she was very delighted by it.


And that wraps up my Fall post for Eastport’s Little Secret.  If you haven’t done so lately, stop it for yourself and see the fun Fall things that Faye has stocked up on.  You’ll easily find a gift for a friend or loved one, or even just something special for yourself.


*I have an ongoing photography partnership with Eastport’s Little Secret.  All of the opinions in this post are mine.

Close to the Brokenhearted

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”    Psalm 34:18

We first met Sarah Powell when she came to our Jr. High Youth Group many years ago.


Her Aunt Sandy was one of our Youth Leaders, and still is to this day.


Sarah was such a sweet girl and had a great group of friends all around her.


And, as is often the case, because we met Sarah, eventually we met her younger brother Zach.  He started coming around when he was in Jr. High as well.


He also, was a great kid.


And also was often surrounded by a great group of friends.


Zach came to our Jr. High Youth Group as well.  Throughout those years, we really enjoyed getting to know him.


He joined us for our Breakaway Winter Retreat.


And funny enough, the year he finished Jr. High I was hired to come and take pictures at his final 8th Grade Dance.


Zach would go on to attend Center Moriches High School and we’d see him on and off over the years.  It’s funny, because last night around 11pm, I was feeling nostalgic about our over 13 years of Youth Ministry here in Eastport, New York.  Jeremy and I both consider it such a blessing to be able to do what we do.  Working with teens, no matter how long or short our interactions may be, is something that we love and value so much.  I’ve learned that teens will come and go, but that it’s always our goal that they would know that they are loved, by not only us and our youth ministry, but most importantly, by Jesus.


When Jeremy came back home this morning, and told me that he needed to tell me something, I knew right away that it wasn’t good.  With pain in his eyes, he shared that last night, around 10pm, Zach Powell was killed in a car crash.  Another young man was also killed and a young woman airlifted to Stony Brook in critical condition.

It’s hard to know what to write.  This is a heartbreaking situation.  My first thoughts were to our very good friends, Sandy and Mark and of course, to Zach’s parents and sister Sarah.  Zach was 20 years old and the accident happened only ten minutes away from Eastport.


All that being said, tonight, there are families and friends and communities that are grieving.  And I can only know that God promises to be close to us when we are brokenhearted and ask for prayers for everyone who is hurting.  I know that I always feel such sadness for lives that are lost during times when it seems as though they should just be beginning.  So please join me in prayer for the loved ones of both Zach Powell and Christian Goody, for healing for the young woman who was also in the car and who is currently at Stony Brook and for the difficult days ahead for their many friends and loved ones.


Be With Us

Yesterday, we drove up to Kings Park and spent time with our friend Michael.

I’m always happy to walk through the doors of St. Johnland’s Head Injury Rehab Unit.  That probably sounds strange, but I am.  I’m happy because it means that we get to see Michael and often times Sally, which was the case yesterday.  We brought the kids (because they had school off) and they brought sketch books and did some drawing over in the lounge area of the Rehab while we visited Michael in his room.


General updates for Michael would be that the Baclofen trial went very well and that his doctor is in the process of working through the necessary paperwork with the goal of scheduling a date for Michael to receive a Baclofen pump.  Recently, Michael also had an appointment to check his shunt, and everything is good with that as well.  Sally did share that Michael wasn’t having the best week overall, but that is somewhat common with the ebb and flow of his injury.  There are good days and there are rough ones.  Overall, Jeremy and I had a good time with Sally and Michael and were so thankful that we got to visit them both.

I actually didn’t get the chance to share yet, but two weeks ago, I drove up and spent the morning just with Michael.  Sally was working and just needed someone to come up to be with him for a few hours before his therapies started.  I was so happy that it worked out, since I hadn’t seen Michael since our trip.

We had such a nice morning together.  When I walked in the room, Michael made a lot of humming noises.  I told him that is was so good to hear his voice.  We talked for a bit and it was just good to see him and to catch up.  When Sally called to see how things were going, she asked if I could help put Michael’s arm brace on.  I was a little nervous, but also determined that this would be a way that I could help.  So little by little, Michael and I worked to slowly stretch his arm down until it fit perfectly in his brace.  In the end, I was proud and he was probably relieved that we were able to get it on just right.

One of his doctors stopped by and spent time talking with Michael about how he was doing.  Michael did a great job with his “yes” and “no” eye blinks.  The time went by quickly and soon enough the Assistants came in to get him in his chair and out to his therapies.

Looking back, it was a great visit.  It’s always good to see Michael.  As good as it is though, at times, it’s still so hard to see our friend that we love and care about struggle.  At times it’s so hard to understand the hardships that this past year has brought for all of the members of the Einfeldt family.  And at times, my heart just aches for Michael and for the long road that he continues to journey on.


But I still write all of this with such gratitude for the hope and faith that I know that we can always have.  Hope for healing and hope for the help that Michael needs.  Faith to believe that God will continue to work good in and for this family.  And ultimately faith that God is in control, no matter what difficult situations life brings.

Please join me then, in continuing to pray for Michael.  Right now, the biggest prayer needs would be for Michael to have success with getting the Baclofen pump.  I am so hopeful that this would be something that could help Michael take a huge step forward in his progress towards recovery.  Please also continue to pray for Michael’s family.  They have not wavered in their faithfulness in being by his side throughout this entire journey.  Please pray for strength and for wisdom and for peace for them.  We don’t always know how life will go, but we can always know that God is faithful and that He loves Michael and his family and that He will continue to work in their lives and in ours as well.

“May your unfailing love be with us Lord, even as we put our hope in You.”

Psalm 33:22

East End Fitness is for You

Recently, I reached out to East End Fitness and struck up a photography partnership.  So over the next year, I’ll be periodically sharing about this gym and the amazing classes that they offer.  All of the opinions in these posts are my own.

If you take a drive about halfway down Frowein Road in Center Moriches, you’ll find a new gym that is just for you.  East End Fitness is family-owned and operated and opened up at the end of September (at the location of the former Powerhouse Gym).  Being a bit of a gym fan, I was pretty excited to go and check everything out.


It was nice to be greeted by a kind face as I walked in the doors.  One of the goals of East End Fitness is to foster a friendly environment that is welcoming and supportive to their members.


My first stop was the room that hosts all of the group fitness classes.  East End Fitness currently offers a variety of free group classes as a part of their monthly membership.


Current class options include Spin, Yoga, HIIT Boot Camp, Zumba, Kickboxing and even Dance Aerobics.  I also learned that they would be adding more classes in the future.

Now, I just have to say a few things about group classes.  I personally love them.  They were the main reason that I spent three and a half years going to this actual gym.  I can’t tell you the hours and hours that I spent in this very room, sweating my heart out while building muscle as well as relationships with some amazing friends as we all worked out together.


Group classes are a great way to meet new friends and to have accountability as you challenge yourself to reach your fitness goals.  East End Fitness even offers a kickboxing class where you get to use this fun equipment.  I have a friend that has tried that class and had a pretty solid review for it.  It might have to be one that I check out soon.


For those who enjoy the gym for all of the options outside of the group fitness classes, then this would be the room for you.


I liked the organization and neatness of the areas around the gym and was happy to see that there was a great variety of equipment available to use.




I also personally appreciated this simple reminder.  East End Fitness has lots of equipment that lots of people use, so being reminded to be courteous to others is always a good thing.


Everything in the gym has gotten a bit of a facelift and I have to say it all looks great.


All of the weight machines have been re-upholstered as well.


On the day I visited the gym, I actually ran into a few friends.  They were kind enough to let me take a few pictures as they worked out.  This particular friend happens to be a high school student.


I think exercise is an amazing thing for everyone, and especially for teens.  At East End Fitness, you can get a membership if you are 15 or older with parental consent.


I was also so happy when I saw that my friend Renee was at East End Fitness.  This girl has the most beautiful heart and the most amazing passion for working out.  She’s also obviously crazy strong.


A few more things to share.  I stopped in to get a picture of a Yoga class that was in session while I was there.  Looking at the class list, I was so happy to see quite a few familiar names.  I’m also really excited to get to know the new instructors that are at the gym.


And if you’re a parent like I am, there are times that you might need to bring your kids to the gym with you.  Well, the best part for us, is that East End Fitness offers free childcare to their “Future Members.”


On the day I stopped by, there were quite a few kids hanging out and playing while their parents worked out.


The room was bright and inviting and is easily visible from the main gym.


I have to say that overall, I was very impressed with everything that I saw at East End Fitness.  They are growing as a gym, and also growing in their presence online.  Following them through social media is an easy way to get a delicious smoothie at the end of a hard workout.


After touring the gym, I had a few minutes to sit down with Tracy Belmonte.  She, her husband David and their daughter Adoreè are the new owners of East End Fitness.  They have a huge desire that East End Fitness would be a community and family-oriented gym.  Tracy shared that she believes that “Good health is not just physical, it’s everything.  It’s your mind and spirit and even what you eat.”  She shared her passion for cultivating a beautiful gym environment where people could learn and grow together while achieving their fitness goals.  She highlighted their passion for supporting families and family fitness as well.  In the near future, they hope to add more classes for parents and for kids so that they could learn to be strong and healthy together.  In talking to her, I also learned that she is just an incredibly kind and caring person.  I’m a huge fan of kind people, so this  was also another great perk of being part of East End Fitness.


My first impression of East End Fitness was solid.  If you are looking for a place where you will be cared for as you set and reach your own personal fitness goals, East End Fitness is for you.  Membership options are $40 per month with EFT or $50 on a month to month  basis.  Discounts come with paying in full for multiple months and special prices are also available for military, police, firefighters, teachers, students and seniors.

You can follow East End Fitness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  But my best recommendation would be to just go in and check it out for yourself.  The new owners are incredibly friendly and caring and the environment is clean and inviting.  Good health and fitness is so important for us all, and East End Fitness is the perfect place to achieve these vital things.