Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ciji Ann Photography


   Ciji Ann Photography

We are one of THOSE families.. you know the one that always gets new pictures each time a holiday or a new season comes up. We can't have enough pictures of our precious babyboy and I am always on the hunt for a new fun photographer! 

We found Ciji Ann Photography through Facebook and we were immediately impressed with her work!! We set up an appointment for a Valentines Mini and upon arrival to her studio.. we were in awe! They literally had 8-10 different set-ups with adorable unique designs (as you will see in pictures). 

She was VERY professional, courteous and made us feel at home. My son took to her very well and she was a natural with him! She even made us feel at ease when he had a little accident when playing "cupid" for some of her pictures!  We have been bragging about how wonderful she is to all of our friends.. and we will be back!!

FUN FACT: It has taken less than two weeks to get our pictures back.. this is a record for us! SO excited about that!!

Interested in learning more? Check out our interview:

1. When did you start doing photography? 
 I've enjoyed photography as a hobby since I was 15, but didn't start photographing professionally until about 4 years ago. 

2. From the past year, What was a funny mishap that happened on a shoot? 

Oh goodness...there are probably too many to count! I have fell backwards over buckets, tripped in holes while walking and shooting, you name it...I've probably done it. We have a lot of fun on our shoots. However, your little peeing cupid definitely tops my list! 

3. Are you open to all types of shoots? 

Yes I am. In fact, I love to be challenged with something new. It keeps it fun and interesting. My favorite sessions are usually the most creative ones. 

4. Do you want to give me more information about your "prop" and "backdrop" person?

 For my props, I use and abuse my little sister (19 years old) she sews and makes all my petti rompers and tutus for my little girls. She even makes cute onesies for my little boys, like shirts with suspenders. I'm an antique junkie! I usually hit up the local antique and thrift stores once a week. I have an awesome set designer I used for themed sessions, her name is Lindsey Knox and she owns Leave It To Lindsey. She rocks! Most of my backdrops come from Photo Prop Floor and Backdrops. 

5. How many mini-session do you do each year? 

Last year I averaged 162 mini sessions and about 150 full sessions, and 18 weddings. Which was NUTS! I was exhausted! I've learned a lot over the past year and to pace myself. This year I'm only taking 8 newborns a month and an average of 6-10 regular sessions per month. Mini sessions used to be all day events for three days straight. This year I've cut that down to only half a day and capping out sessions to only 5 a day and giving myself a day or two in between to edit :) I have a vivacious little boy that needs my attention and my energy :) So I have to stop and rest and not take on more than I can handle. 

6. Are you willing to travel to shoot? 

Yes. In fact, I love traveling to new places. The farthest I've been is to Colorado this year to photograph a wedding.

7. Name 3 fun facts about yourself that you would want parents to know!

 I love jokes that come off a popsicle stick, I can't pronounce the word sausage, and I don't mind making a fool of myself to get a child to smile :) 

8. Want to offer my readers any advice on booking with you? 

Book early! Especially if you have a newborn on the way. Book during the non busy season, because once March and April come around my weekends are already booked up for the year. 

Don't hesitate!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Gwinnett Gladiators

Looking for something fun for the whole family?
Why not attend a hockey game at the Gwinnett Arena which is home to the Gwinnett Gladiators!

The Gladiators have called Gwinnett home for the past decade. The games are always action-packed, intense and leave you hanging on the edge of your seat. We attended a home game last Saturday and were SO excited to see everyone in the crowd completely in a trance! These were die hard fans.. my toddler was even hooting and hollering each time we scored!

I would say our favorite part was the constant effort to keep the crowd involved. During breaks the staff would go around shooting off t-shirts and they also offered the Kroger "Chuck A Puck" to win a a $700 gift card shopping spree!!! We caught up with Maximus the Lion, Mascot in the hallway even though he wasn't able to stop and pose for picture... the look on my sons face when he walked by was priceless!

We attended during the tenth annual Teddy Bear Toss, that benefits many children’s charities. Many fans brought stuffed animals to throw onto the ice after the Gladiators scored the first goal. These stuffed animals will be distributed to many Children charities throughout Atlanta. The Gladiators take part in many theme nights throughout the year including, Pink in the Rink which is the Gladiators highest annual fundraising effort.

So if you feel like getting out with the girls, the guys, the kids or just a date night.. this is the place to go! Be prepared time flies when you are having fun..


-Free Parking
-Get there early to find your seats
-The Will-call is conveniently located right next to the main doors
-Many options for food inside the facility

The Producers Review

                                      The Producers at The Fox Theatre

Yes, its true! The musical is back in Atlanta after 8 years and the word is getting around! The Producers has received RAVE reviews and is a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical! Some of you might be familiar with the film but there is NOTHING like watching it live.. especially at a place as magical as The Fox Theatre.

Bialystick and Bloom are out to get 2 million dollars, Atlanta native Stacey Todd Holt as Leo Bloom, with a carefully orchestrated Broadway flop called "Springtime for Hitler"! You won't believe the crazy antics this new found friendship goes through. The no-fail flop ends up a SMASH hit with laugh out loud funny moments the whole time!

Keep a close watch on Roger DeBris the "director" and his "assistant" Carmen Ghia. These two MADE the show for me. Especially Carmen Ghia, who kept the audience laughing nearly to tears the whole time. The "assistant" really pulled you in and went "overboard" with his flamboyant personality! He was very sassy and charming! He deserved a standing ovation!

Don't forget the lovely Ulla, who was the tall charming eye candy for the men to gaze at! She did wonderfully with her song "When You've Got It, Flaunt It" and was very feminine and tasteful even with the constant affection from both of the main characters! She stole the show from the "mostly male" cast and brought a little sex appeal to it!

The end only leaves you begging for more even with a hilarious song to get you on the road! The jokes are well thought out and hilarious. This is a show you can see multiple times and you are guaranteed to be thoroughly entertained every time! We have every intention of going back and are anxious for the next round of "Springtime for Hitler"!

-Arrive 30 minutes early to get snacks and be seated
-There is $5 public parking about a block away
-Lots of "Adult content" so I would only advise older children to attend.
-At The Fox every seat is a good seat!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Best Family Fun Attractions in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge

Ripleys Attractions!


As I have written in the past, I am a big aquarium enthusiast. This aquarium was so hands-on and interactive it was literally mind blowing. With two stories housing 11 exhibits there was sure to be something to please everyone.

The newest exhibit being Perfect Predators: Sharks! In this exhibit, You have 30 Hands-on Interactive Displays which challenge young and old minds alike. This was my husbands favorite exhibit and we almost had to drag him out of it. We enjoyed stopping by each display and learning many new things.. and seeing some very unusual sharks! If you want a reason to go here.. do it for the sharks! Kids LOVE them!

Another favorite was the Penguin Playhouse! Well this was MY favorite. This exhibit was so unique! You can crawl through tunnels and see these amazing birds in their huge indoor and outdoor habitat! View penguins from above and below the water in this unique and interactive exhibit. Pop up on the penguins’ private beach and get nose-to-beak! Also with an outside area you are sure to have a good view of the penguins! They even had a small play area for tots which entertained my son while we listened to the employee give a few fun facts about the penguins!

Looking through the pictures we took.. I keep forgetting about all the stuff there actually is! There is a huge pool that you can look down onto the sharks as well which I have never seen anything like it. That is the kind of stuff other aquarium offer in the "Behind the scenes tours"... This is my favorite attraction in the Gatlinburg area!

                                                  Be sure to check out all of there exhibits:
Tropical Rainforest, Ocean Realm, Systems Controls, Coral Reef, Shark Lagoon, Discovery Center, the Gallery of the Seas, Stingray Bay, Touch a Ray Bay and our Penguin Playhouse.



You can't miss this wacky attraction which is right on the main strip in Gatlinburg. It features three stories of over 500 Outstanding and incredible Artifacts from around the World. This exhibit is very interesting and we consider it very time consuming because we like taking our time and reading about each thing!

Bring your camera for many GREAT picture opportunities and this is also very kid-friendly and intrigues little minds as well.

I don't want to give away too much but have you seen a shrunken human head? Well you will..



As a child, I was a huge fan of the books. I ALWAYS got the new one at the school book store and spent days reading.. and re-reading all the records. Wondering if I would be in the book someday? I haven't made it yet.. but maybe one day!

I am excited to instill the dream of making it into the book into our son. We loved the museum and literally could have stayed inside forever reading about each persons accomplishments! We watch the show at home religiously but experiencing the excitement of the museum was enough to guarantee we will be back..

Maybe next time with our names on the wall for something funny!?


So you think this is just a little mirror maze? Think again!
Encounter surprising corners, dead ends and continuous circles! Guaranteeing you a new experience each time you try!

We enjoyed this exhibit .. well my son and I did.. My husband kept getting frustrated when he could swear his way was the right way.. and well I was right about 99% of the time! Just listen to me next time, honey! haha

PS- Take your time! Your kids will love to lead the way!

Dont forget to stop by Ripley’s Candy Factory which has hundreds of your favorite candies, from old time classics to the latest treats!



No no.. you haven't missed it! This Ripley Attraction is located about 10-15 minutes away in the city of Sevierville. It is SO worth the drive and its only down the parkway which takes your through Pigeon Forge so PLENTY of places to stop and sights to see along the way! When you see pigs flying.. you have arrived.

This is the MOST family-friendly mini-golf with all three miniature golf courses feature animated barnyard characters, water features and interactive elements at every turn. So it even appealed to my tot who squealed at each new hole anxiously awaiting the new surprises!

If you enjoy mini-golf I do suggest the drive to get the FULL experience that your kids deserve! We will be going back.. as my tot is insisting on it since he was in tears when we had to leave!

Best Educational but FUN Exhibit in Pigeon Forge

 Titanic Museum Attraction


You can't miss this HUGE exhibit it is the worlds largest museum attraction! This 30,000 square-foot, ship-shaped structure overlooks the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It holds 20 galleries with hundreds of artifacts on two decks.

You begin to live the experience as soon as you are about to "board" the ship. The captain briefs you and you are given "boarding passes" that have names of people who actually were on the ship. Its a fun adventure in itself to figure out who your boarding pass belonged to and your story on the ship. You are also given small recorders that coordinate with certain areas of the ship that tell the story, you have an option of an adult and a kid-friendly version.

This exhibit is also very kid-friendly with many opportunities of hands-on interaction such as touching the FREEZING waters, reading about the dogs aboard the ship and even has a little tot area right in the middle of the tour which allows your children to take a break.. run around and play games. You will also have a family picture opportunity inside the exhibit which you will be able to pick up when the tour ends.

My favorite part of the tour was the recreation of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase. This was created using original plans and is centered under a wrought iron and glass dome that duplicates what was installed on Titanic. They spared no expense to give you the experience of walking up the staircase! You feel like first class (they also have an elevator close by for convenience). Additionally, there is an accurate re-creation of both a First Class suite and Third Class cabin.

This is the BEST educational but FUN experience in the Pigeon Forge area! This is an exhibit I will be visiting year after year and learning new things!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

BEST shows of Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg!

The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show:

This was our FIRST dinner show.. ever. The building looks like a real-life cartoon and this place didn't fall short on any decorations or props to get you feeling like you are part of the show even before you enter.
We arrived right on time to be seated. If you are going around a holiday be prepared for the line and to take a picture with one of the many wacky hillbilly characters before entering the theater.

 Upon entering, You are in awe of how upscale everything looks and the lovely arrangement of the theater and guarantees every seat is the BEST seat. The waitstaff was very friendly, quick and kind. We were taken back by the large portions and the quality of the food... it was DELICIOUS! I am getting hungry thinking about the mashed potatoes now.. Also don't forget about dessert a yummy chocolate sundae! 
When the show started you were briefed on how each show is shot individually each night and how the audience is incorporated into the performances. They took many audience members on stage including kids and went around the room with the camera making each person feel like they are part of the show. 
The show is best described in just a few words.. HOOTIN' HOLLERIN' FUN HILLYBILLY TIME! You will be laughing the whole time! This isn't anything like you would expect from just any dinner show this has excellent singing, dancing and acting! These characters are the whole package and appeal to the whole family! This is something we look forward to attending again for many years to come!

The Country Jamboree Breakfast Show:

Yes, the rumors are true! You are able to enjoy a delicious country breakfast while enjoying chart topping traditional Country and Gospel hits by the one and only Blackwoods! 
This was our sons favorite show as he enjoyed dancing to the inspirational music and it was a fun and fantastic way to start off your day! The food was plentiful and delicious while the waitstaff was very attentive.
With the beautiful voices and a silly tribute to the King of Rock this is one I do suggest EVERYONE attend! 
They even had a very famous side act come up and do a "ventriliquist" show that hilarious and had the whole audience roaring with laughter. 
We left here feeling good and ready to start our day and wanted to go back the next morning, but can you blame us? We WILL be back here again each time we visit Pigeon Forge!

Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry

This multi-million dollar Christmas production is one of the most amazing shows I have seen and even when you first enter Santa sits upon his chair greeting you and you are taken back by all the bright colors and beauty of the inside.. its like screaming Christmas Joy!

The show features Santa Claus, a mischievous elf, talented actors, singers, dancers and ice skaters. With its breathtaking decorations and the areas largest living nativity this is a one of a kind show that is too good to be true.

My favorite part of this venue was the "Childrens Skybox" which allowed a great view of the stage with comfortable seating and toys to accommodate the "noisy" tots.. like our son. We were able to enjoy the show while he was able to play.
This is not a dinner show but does have a snack bar where we purchased the most delicious peanut butter cookie I have eaten (warning REAL peanuts in cookie). This show also has an intermission which allows you to take a break and purchase snacks mid-show so don't worry about missing anything. I don't want to give too much away but be prepared to get your moneys worth plus more! Be expected to laugh your butt off at Slim Chance.. in my opinion his silly antics made the show! Also enjoy the "snow".