A long three weeks

Here’s the truth: it has been a long three weeks.

In my new role as stay-at-home-freelance-photographer-videographer-mom, I am blessed with keeping my kiddos during their 3-week intercession break from year round school.

That’s three kiddos for three weeks. That computes to
…let’s see here

But my tired is absolutely worth these kids’ smiles.

I choose to treat intercession break as “mommy camp.” I want my kids to have a memorable time away from school, and I also aim to wear them out every single day so that they can rest their little souls in the afternoon. 

Here’s a slideshow of our first intercession break, “mommy camp” style.

What are your favorite school break activities?

Entering a child’s world

My love for kids should not come as a shock – I have three of my own little blessings. My face often hurts from smiling so big around them.

In my role as a photographer, I get to meet new kids all the time, and it is honestly one of my favorite parts of the job.  I get to be the person with camera in hand, acting goofy, hoping a child will feel comfortable enough to share their precious smiles and giggles with me and my Nikon.

My most recent photography client was an early education nonprofit and our shoot location was none other than a child care center, where so much of the magic happens.

Take one look and you’ll know why these types of photo sessions make my heart grow.

These two sweethearts gravitated toward me from the moment I set foot on the playground. I didn’t deserve their attention, but they gave it to me.
Then there was this nugget. She followed me around for the morning and was amazed by the camera. And then she was amazed by some music. And then she was amazed by a puzzle. She was just bursting with amazement. And is there anything better for a child?
Freedom. Joy. Childhood. There is just so much to love about this crew. They were willing to climb aboard some tree stumps and soar off into the air for me.
As a parent who once upon a time dropped off my lil babies at a child care center, this scene gave me the feels. Early on in parenting it can be hard to believe that your child could love, let alone feel comfortable with another human. But when you go behind the scenes at a daycare, you see the love and the comfort and the learning and the interaction.
School had just started for the kiddos in this preschool classroom. They were dealing with new rooms, new friends, new teachers, new routines. And then there was this hug between a teacher and a child, greeting each other in the morning. This kind of trust and friendship is built in a great environment. It makes me smile knowing how well the professionals in our community take care of our children.


Visit a child care center and see if you don’t emerge with a grin and many new friends.

Off to elementary school

Today was just like any other Monday, except that today marked another Busbee entering the enormous world of K-12 learning. 

Together, Natalie and I picked out her first-day-of-kindergarten clothes, and all of us Busbees gathered ’round the breakfast table to fuel up for the big day.

Raise your hand if you are excited for the first day of school!

Baby Cameron was our energetic, encouraging cheerleader.

Natalie was as proud to be a kindergartner as one could hope. She’s been patiently awaiting this day, as have mom and dad. But, oh so suddenly it was upon us.

Our tiny little Nattlebug – all five years of her – stood anchored with her backpack and lunchbag ready to take on this next chapter. 

She had a great helper in her big brother. He passed down loads of valuable information on the car ride to school.

Then it was time to set Natalie free in her classroom. If I recall the details correctly, she did tenderly push me out the door, eager to be an independent kindergartner. 

I held my tears. I did what came next, which was walk away from her classroom and up to the 2nd floor to drop Caleb off in his third grade classroom. He settled in with ease. He wore dark colors and chose a dark backpack and lunchbag, because “that’s what third graders do, mom.”

I collected my thoughts and emotions, shuffled out of the school, got an iced coffee and took a mini hike down the American Tobacco Trail with my only non-elementary-school child, Cameron.

Once I returned to the house, all was well. And then I saw Natalie’s beloved blankie sitting in solitude on the kitchen table bench in our quiet house. I realized that she hadn’t even asked to bring it with her to kindergarten. 

If there was only one sign that she was ready for kindergarten, this would be it. We survived the first day!

The reward is in the work

I am fortunate to sit on the Board of Directors for a Durham-based nonprofit, The Exchange Family Center. They provide free child abuse and neglect prevention services to area families (either voluntarily or court-mandated cases) and have done so for 25 years now. This video I created recounts those 25 years, from the humblest of early days to present day, when their services are highly sought after, respected and there are burdensome waiting lists. They are working on fundraising to get those waiting lists down, because families in need should not have to wait.

One way I was able to help in their efforts was to produce this video, which ended up being tremendously rewarding.

The Exchange Family Center celebrates 25 years from Melanie Busbee.


I’ve only known the Center for six years now, but working on this project enabled me to sift through numerous photos, newsletters, headlines, etc from their earliest days. The folks who founded the Center did so with kind, willing hearts and their vision has continued and grown over the decades. They must be extremely proud and I hope their hearts swell when they look back at their legacy.

Just check out these priceless images…

Congratulations to the Exchange Family Center and here’s to another 25 years!

Ready for take off

For years I’ve been told that the RDU Observation Park is a must-visit gem of the Triangle, particularly with young children. Today, I finally brought my children to check it out, and it did not disappoint. 

It has an observation deck to watch planes of all sizes take off and land, a climbing area built over a sandpit, a “runway,” sprawling grassy areas and restrooms. The air is filled with the soundtrack of jet planes. It is only a short walking distance from the General Aviation Terminal, which is air conditioned and features big glass windows for private flight viewing.

This is one of those magnificent locations that is fun for families, unique and works quite well for some interesting photos. I’m so glad I packed a camera to test out the space on my favorite subjects, my Busbee babies.

Let kids be kids

Would ya take a look at these two sweeties, Cameron and Mia? Their relationship is nothing short of incredible. They like to make one another laugh and they play together pretty seamlessly, despite the 4 years of age between them. 

Photo of Cameron and Mia

We had plenty of fun together during our Sunday afternoon family photo session, and these two had gorgeous smiles each time I aimed the camera their way. But, they were truly at their best when I asked them to do what kids do best — play:  they raced through the grass, they rolled around on top of one another, and they told me their favorite jokes. Sometimes, you just have to let kids be kids. And this applies to “serious” photo sessions too.