We love the finest things – family, friends, togetherness, home…and the occasional exemplary cupcake.  We’re thrilled you made it here…cozy up to see the latest sessions, our favorite things and a dose of inspiration for living a life committed and connected to what matters most.  Hope we remind you of your finest things so you can treasure, savor and celebrate them!

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8 tips for more wonderful travel

this summer we clocked 6700 driving miles in one trip.*
and we loooooved it.

best.family.trip ever.

i’m not even joking :)
but given the scope of the trip, there were a few moments before we left where i questioned our sanity.

mostly because jason worried.
but also because everyone around me seemed to be headed off to a super laid back sort of trip and all of a sudden, our cross country trip seemed….well, like too much.

gratefully, it wasn’t…we had an amazing time and it was even better than we’d anticipated.

so, in the spirit of wonderful travel, i wanted to share part of what helps us make trips great.
travel is one of my favorite things…maybe somewhere right after god, family, simplicity…yup, it’s #4 :)

it’s a line item on the budget :)

when you’ve got a major trip….

1. plan…the longer in advance the better.
anticipation is one of my favorite feelings.
the best stuff related to your travel will cross your path and you can tuck it away in a google doc/ evernote/ iphone note.
i love planning on google maps and sharing it with jason – i plot out all the spots and it’s easy to see what’s close to where we’re at.  i made a super casual screen video in one take to show the process.

we like going into a new city with a good dose of options but we’re flexible on what happens each day.
yummy food (with options for each meal – not just dinner).
fun things to do.

i look for city guides online mentioning the city i’m headed to, type the city name into lexpublib.org to see if they have any interesting guide books (we blow through these in one sitting so i don’t want to buy them) and also children’s books – there were so many great ones we read about yosemite, poll friends on facebook, search the hashtag on instagram, etc.

pretty often i’ll cross-check any mentions that look like they’re up our alley on yelp.com so that if it’s a restaurant, you’ll see reviews on what’s really great to order there. jason does a bit of searching too but on entirely different sources than me which helps us cover more ground.

2. get clear about *how* you prefer travel. and that’s something we learn more about with each trip – like how jason prefers not to spend a full week in just one spot.

or how for me, a trip is elevated with a wonderful meal.
so imagine the perfect trip and what it looks like….how did you arrive? what fills the day?

with a longer vacation, we like variety so we sprinkle in short stops with longer multi-day visits…it gives the trip some movement/variety when we’re rationing out dear husband’s vacation days.

i’m also willing to trade luxury for a longer amount of travel. but it’s nice to sprinkle in at least one
really great stay and wonderful food when we’re exploring a city.

trust yourself on what your family will enjoy.

3. divide and conquer. jason works on the route and how far we’ll travel in a day and i work on options for each place we’re going to visit.  thank you to the ever brilliant megan winfield for helping me crystallize that during a late night conversation…before it was just a mess of us each trying to work on the same things.

4. pack well and light.
for us, on a roadtrip, packing well means bringing some food.  travel takes so much longer if you’re searching for food…and roadway food can leave you feeling awful. i pack our cooler with my favorite veggie sandwich fixings (cucumbers, tomatoes, hummus or guacamole in separate containers) and do the same for jason and audrey. then a simple side. a batch of homemade cookies, carrots, grapes, cheese sticks or greek yogurts, granola (the last two make a simple breakfast) and 3-4 days worth of green smoothies. we also have some things that don’t need to be cool that we can throw in a bag – raisins, granola bars, etc and refillable water bottles for each of us.
i get a bag of ice most days when we have a gas stop.

other than food, i’m a super super light packer…audrey and i in a carry-on for 2+ weeks is totally
doable. that’s a whole other post! (if you want details, just say the word in the comments below)

5. we don’t limit ipad/movies during travel after the age of 3 (kiddo specific tip #1)
since we don’t watch tv everyday and we watch even less before a trip, i feel zero guilt about letting audrey pass the cartime with as many movies as she wants. and because the ipad isn’t available *except* when we travel, it’s a huge hit. we have a range of other options gathered (travel journal, coloring books, rubberneckers game, etc).

6. carbucks (kiddo specific tip #2)
i know not all of you are traveling with kids yet but on the chance you have even an extended trip to the zoo with a niece or nephew, here’s how you make travel awesome: carbucks

i’ll say it one more time because it’s *that* indispensable. c-a-r-b-u-c-k-s :)

for every 45 minutes to an hour of awesome behavior in the car, you hand over a carbuck. we’ve been doing this for at least 5 years and it gold. i have a few items that she can earn…they aren’t even revealed (which might be half the allure) and i’ll say i have something she can earn for 1, 2, 3 or 5 carbucks, she saves up and picks the mystery prize. these might be things i’ve noticed her checking out in the month preceding travel, something i’ve ordered from amazon, or more than likely part of my ‘week of’ prep.

have lots of little things if you can…maybe even ones that build into a little collection. but make them small in size so you aren’t overwhelmed with stuff and have a little pouch ready for them to go in.  carbucks can also earn special treats along the trip!
when you hand your child a carbuck, be sure to acknowledge their great behavior. oh, and just set a timer to make it easy to remember :)  plus, find situations where you can offer genuine praise about what great travelers your children are.

7. be clear on the reason for your trip & be flexible…let the why lead: we had a couple changes while we were on our summer vacation due to tremendous crowds (carmel) and wild fires (sedona) which were both cities i was really looking forward to spending time in, but that wasn’t the purpose of the trip…it was much more important to look on the bright side, engage in rerouting and be grateful for all the fun we’d already had.

8. finally, take time to reflect on what worked well and what you could tweak to make better – we do this every time and it makes us such a better traveling team.

make sure you add something to your home from your trip…like a little photo from an anniversary trip for your bedroom dresser. it’s a chance have feelings of gratitude wash over you every time you take a moment to remember it.

i could go on and on – if you want to hear more, just say the word!

* if you’re on instagram, you may have seen part of the trip mentioned (#mauersummerroadtrip2015)

it’s so great to be back – grateful for a life intertwined with yours in telling your beautiful story!


lovelies from around the web:
audrey loves avocado toast so i was grateful for this!
a sweet cheery cottage
garance dore takes the words right out of my mouth. and a double yes to getting rid of the wallet the size of kanye’s hummer ;)
#100happydays – this makes me smile – there’s always time to be happy!


what are your favorite travel tips??

xoxo, -melanie-

a deeper look

i generally share one image from a session.

for a few reasons.

it’s simple.

i like to sit with one image and enjoy all it has to tell.

sometimes with more than one image we don’t really pause to see.

blogging (as lovely as it is) takes time away from living and photographing and that’s where my heart lies.

sessions are intimate – if you’ve had one, you know that.  and for some reason they often feel almost too personal to share.

and i fall squarely in the quality camp if we’re picking sides in the quantity vs. quality debate.


sometimes a deeper look is called for.

below is a day in the life session with the fenwicks.

they deserve the #goodpeople hashtag for a multitude of reasons.

they’re generous.



as you’ll see very soon :)

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096 098 053 055 061 044 047 030 031

the bravest are the tenderest, the loving are the daring. [ william wadsworth longfellow ]



limited edition [ summer fun ] mini session

excited summer is here!

schedules get turned completely upside down but they also relax a bit.  and that feels good.

so, in case you want a quick session while skin has a little more color to it, i’d love to help!  (i know, i know – we’re supposed to be putting spf2000 on when we head out the door…and i’m getting better at it!)

i most love sessions at home but mini’s are so perfect for a quick update of a growing child and we’ve also had them used for maternity and engagement sessions…or even gathering your siblings and then enjoying a meal together – because your parents would be over the moon for that as a gift for christmas!

aaaaaand, we did a little poll on Facebook to see which city would get the most votes for our second mini and Louisville won so we have *two* options for you!  (and it’s about time because so many of you have traveled to Lexington).


limited edition [ summer fun ] mini session

when: saturday, july 11th

where: keeneland, lexington ky

kindly pick your preferred time


details: a 15-20 minute mini session, $175 session fee

1-2 children (or you and a child), for additional siblings/family members please add $25/person. since these will be outside, please plan for the possibility of cooler weather. prints, digital files, etc are purchased a la carte after you’ve had a chance to see the images.

on aug 18th, we’ll present 5 too cute images! email katrina (info@melaniemauer.com) for a spot as soon as you can – they fill quickly!! can’t wait to see you!

and second…..

when: saturday, august 29th

where: cherokee park, louisville ky

kindly pick your preferred time

yay for summer!!  xoxo, -melanie-


xoxo, -melanie-

at home

thanks to a beautiful workshop, i feel closer to my personal vision…and part of that is shooting in your home as much as circumstances allow for family & children sessions.  we do this pretty often anyway but i’ve realized more of why they are such favorite places for me artistically.

i love what’s available to us there.


favorite toys.

a space that your child feels natural in.

everything looks a bit cozier and connected at home.

xoxo, -melanie-

you’re awesome

a friend from college with three great kiddos is battling cancer.  during a session at the end of last year, i asked her kiddos to write the one word that most described her.

and i then promptly melted into a puddle from their responses.

i get to see the best things.

and it bursts my heart wide open.

lessons learned.

with preschoolers, elementary & middle schoolers often as my teachers.

fast forward another 20 years and the result of that parental love extended is seen again at weddings.

so what are the words you hope describe you?

let’s live the embodiment of that today.

you are more huggable, awesome and gentle than you know ;)

xoxo, -melanie-
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