I met Alex, Jen, Kensington & Blakely on a beautiful May evening back in Champaign, Illinois. We met at the Japanese Gardens on University of Illinois campus. We were extremely lucky on weather as we had been rescheduling from a really cold and windy day. We were met with sunshine and 75 degrees. Its hard to imagine what that weather feels like now that we are in the middle of summer heat and sunshine! One major thing I miss about the states is AIR CONDITIONING!
We were scheduled for these as our spring minis, well spring decided to embrace winter on the date we scheduled! So for the makeup, I knew we weren’t going to get the beautiful blooming trees we had hoped for, but the gorgeous weather and light made up for it! I loved that we were able to use a gorgeous willow and we had trees with leaves on them! It made for a beautiful backdrop for a lovely, sweet, and kind family.
I felt an instant connection with the Williams family. Everyone was so kind and genuine, you could see their love and respect for each other shine through. Alex and Jen are high school sweethearts and now have two little girls! Such a parallel to my own life! The girls, Kensington & Blakely, reminded me so much of my own girls that I couldn’t help but race back home to mine to hug at the end of the night. Kensington showed me some of her wonderful twirling skills and Blakely reminded me just how independent little ones can be at 18 months! I enjoyed talking with, singing and chasing the girls to capture their individual personalities.
Jen & Alex are amazing parents and I really enjoyed talking with them as we walked around the grounds and I captured their family. Jen was telling me about her career as a teacher and how she was debating the merits of homeschooling. We instantly bonded over this as my family is homeschooling our girls! As a teacher, I know she will excel if that is the path she decides to go for!
I really enjoyed our time together, and I can’t wait to work with them again!
I always love getting to know my families even more, so here is an in depth “about” for the Williams Family. They are the SWEETEST. Enjoy!
Alex, Jen, Kensington (4), Blakely (18 mo.)
Tell me about Jen & Alex:
Alex and I started dating in 2007 (when we were sophomores in high school!) We grew up in a small town and went to the same high school. We later went to college locally- Alex for athletic training and Jen for teaching. We got married at 25 in 2016. We called Columbia, Missouri home for several years while Alex began his athletic training career at the University of Missouri.
I taught elementary school for five years, before we had our first daughter, Kensington. When I was pregnant, I knew staying home with the baby was something I’d really love if we could make it work. I always thought becoming a teacher would help me be a better mom, so staying home with our littles seemed like a good fit. (Side note: While I’ve learned there is no textbook to parenting, I have found that my career taught me the importance of patience.)
Mid-pregnancy I discovered online teaching, so a few months after Kensington was born- I started. Online teaching gave me the flexibility to work from home, while pursuing my passion. I’ve been doing it off and on with different companies for the past four years.
Alex was offered a position at the University of Illinois shortly after Kensington was born. Being only an hour from our hometown, this felt like a good move for us as we started our family. Since then, Alex left his career in Athletic Training to pursue a managerial position within my dad’s company.
During the shutdown, we realized how valuable time is and started visualizing what we wanted our days to look like. The career change has allowed Alex to be home with us more, rather than on the road or working late, which is all we could ever ask for.
As far as our personalities, I’m more of the “free spirit” and Alex plays by the book, which I think balances us out. Alex is supportive, hard-working, kind-hearted and genuine. He loves his family and works hard at everything he does. I’m the planner, always dreaming up new opportunities and projects. “She is the most loving person I know,” says Alex. “Jen is caring, detail-oriented, and most of all, does anything for her family.”
How would you describe your family?
I would describe us as your typical young family, just trying to figure it all out! Growing up in a world where the mental health crisis is on the rise, we really try to teach social-emotional regulation to our girls. We feel our generation grew up in a time where feelings were suppressed or pushed aside, and we try really hard to teach our girls to speak up and set boundaries.
While we’ve found we’re still learning ourselves, we are hopeful as they grow that these skills will give them the courage to talk through difficult times rather than shying away and being silent.
Tell me about the girls’ personalities.
Kensington is our spunky, silly 4-year-old who has a love for animals and constantly wants to be on the move. She loves visiting parks, morning donut runs, dressing up, and playing doctor. Quality time is definitely her love language! <3
Blakely is our laid-back, little helper. If I tell Kensington to pick up the blocks, Blakely beats her to it and starts helping me. She loves to unload the dishwasher with me in the mornings and somehow finds a way to help even when she’s not asked! (At 18 months old!) I think she gets it from her daddy. 🙂 She’s our cuddler girl and loves playing with baby dolls.
What are some things that the girls love and are interested in?
They are happiest when they are outside or playing with water! They love to help cook at the counter in their toddler tower and enjoy spraying the counters, furniture, or floors when I’m cleaning.
We LOVE books in our home. So much so, that we’ve turned a hallway closet into a reading nook. While it’s mainly filled with board books, we hope that it will grow with them and be a little library they can find at home.
What types of things are you interested in as a family?
We really have a passion for traveling and discovering new places. Kensington has been on an airplane 6 times in 4 years, which is kind of wild.
Florida has always had our hearts. We joke about moving south pretty often. We’re avid Disney lovers (which was something that was in the marriage contract 😉 jk). And we equally love the Gulf Coast.
While we haven’t branched out as much with our vacations as a family, we love finding new parks, playgrounds, museums, and restaurants to try close to home.
What types of things do you like to do to create memories as a family?
We really enjoy summer nights in our backyard and going on walks when it’s warm. We’re grateful to have family close, so we try to spend as much time with them as we can. Whether it’s getting together for weekly dinners, spending time on the lake, or having cousin play dates- family time is important to us.
While we try to be flexible with our schedule, we prioritize our routines because we know that’s what makes children feel safest. We try to find joy in everyday moments (even when it’s hard) whether it’s during bathtime or prayers before bed. We know these things will create lasting memories for years to come.
What do you want to remember about this season of life?
“You were all they ever needed.”
Williams Family, thank you SO much for spending your evening with me! It was truly a pleasure to work with you four. I hope to see you guys again soon!