I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

11 Mar

wppi & random thoughts

Last year when I was just starting out in my photography business, I so badly wanted to attend WPPI {Wedding & Portrait Photographers International}.  It ended up falling over one of our already planned vacation dates, so I set out to make sure I attended it this year.

And I did.  In Vegas.  And CJ came with.  And we had a blast!  Yes … a blast!  ;)

In going to the show, I was mostly interested in the tradeshow and looking into a few specific things for my business … so I decided not to take any of the classes or education programs.  I’m glad I didn’t.  I know I missed some really good things, but it was quite overwhelming and I think my plan was perfect for this year and getting my feet wet.

And besides, spending some extra time with the hubby ended up being just what the doctor ordered!  My health took a nose dive last week Thursday.  Mostly my arms and legs … just started getting pretty heavy and weak.  In fact, Friday I got a cane.  :(

I didn’t end up having to use it, but I did a great deal of dragging my feet while walking.  Anyway … Saturday morning, I was feeling stronger, although exhausted, as we boarded our flight to Las Vegas.  I slept most of the plane ride, and we laid in bed most of the afternoon when we arrived.  Grabbed a quick dinner and back in bed.

Over the next couple of days, I started feeling stronger and am feeling back to my normal {albeit, exhausted} self.

Anyway.  I wanted to share … I don’t think CJ and I have laughed together this much in a long, long time!

A few random stories:

  • I got back to the room one afternoon and noticed the housekeeping services card stuck inside a drawer on the desk {exhibit below}.  I didn’t think too much of it and took it out.  So we’re sitting at dinner later that night and CJ goes incredulously, “I found a hidden camera in the room!”  I thought a minute and started laughing, “You mean the TV remote thingy?”  See, our TV was hidden in the desk and comes out when you turn the TV on.  What CJ thought was a hidden camera {and so cleverly covered up}, was actually the source that the remote “reads” to turn the TV on.  We got some mileage out of that this weekend!  In fact, I think I may use that one for life! ;)

  • Then there was the time CJ was laying out some plans for the afternoon and I told him I was “down” with the plans.  Now come on, who among you has heard me say that before?!  Well, apparently, not CJ.  He was dumbfounded.  “You’re what?!” he asked.  And then proceeded to ask me to, “run that jive talk” past him again.  Ohmyword!  Should I admit my husband is the guy that wears black socks with his sandals?  His older daughter calls him the German traveler.  And yes, I might just be busting my gut right now laughing!
  • Let’s see … then there was the time we were shopping and the clerk noticed my purse {that has my girls proudly displayed on it} and was surprised I had four girls {oh! and she thought Taylor was me, so that I only had 3 girls! … and yes, I bought something from her} because my belly didn’t look like I had 4 kids.  And yes, I had a bit of a blousy shirt on … but still.  What does my hubs say?  “Oh, that’s cuz she has a blousy shirt on.”  Really CJ?  He begged me not to Twitter it, but I did.  And I told him he was in all sorts of Twitter-trouble.  And we laughed about it.

Some of the other things aren’t coming to mind … but what I do remember is that we laughed a lot.  At each other and at ourselves.  And it felt good.

Another highlight of the weekend?  I got to catch up with this lovely lady!  I met Cathy at Me Ra’s Discovery Workshop last year and feel like we’re kindred spirits.  We’ve kept in touch and continue to support each other.  It was great to spend some time talking about our businesses and where we’re headed.  Then we took head shots of each other {cool advantage to having photogs as friends!}, and then we walked the tradeshow together for a while.  Her hubs was with her and it was great getting to know him and listening to his advice for us.

Ain’t she pretty?  Bonus is, she’s beautiful on the inside too!

After a long weekend and wishing I could instantly morph home Tuesday … I came home to these awesome goodies!  Besides all the hugs and kisses from my littles {and teen}, these totally lifted me up!

I’m sure you get it from the note … but these are from my lil’ sis.  Do you see the lemons in the water?  How totally clever!  Love it!  Thank you Trishie!

And then happy mail galore!!  I got these from my bloggie friend Katherine … totally surprised me!  Here’s her jaw-dropping post on her cupcake “theme of the week.”  Thank you Katherine!  The girls gobbled them up!  They’re also super curious how you baked them in the jars.  Hmm … I’m thinking I’ve got a project around the corner!

Lastly, my bestie Heather sent me this!  I’m a lucky, lucky gal!  Thank you Heather.

Thank you everyone!

Downside to the weekend?  Awesome mom-of-the-year moment … and I wasn’t even in town!

The three year old had a birthday party to go to … one of her besties and she was so excited to attend!  The timing was towards the end of church, so my dad took Hunter out a little early and took her to the party.  I had even emailed the mom and told her Hunter would be late because she had church, etc.  So Sunday afternoon, I get a call from my mom that dad’s outside Chuck E Cheese, but they have no party listed for her friend.  Hmm.  What to do?  I’m halfway across the country.  I have no phone numbers, plus the party’s already started.

I thought maybe I had the wrong day?  The wrong place?  But there’s only one Chuck E in our town, so that didn’t make sense.  I could vividly see the purple invite, but for the life of me, couldn’t remember any of the details.

Turns out the party was at the local gymnastics center.  Gymnastics … Chuck E … easy mistake, right?  :(

Posted in curt, mom-of-the-year, multiple sclerosis, photography, random

13 Oct

the moment

I had a growing list this summer of activities I wanted to do with the girls.  As the days flew by, my list grew longer.

We seemed to have a really nice summer routine going, but I sometimes felt myself anxious inside that my great intentions of activites fell by the wayside.

One particular forced activity stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of the oh so important adage of staying in “the moment.”

It was such a great activity and the summer was counting down so quickly … I really wanted to get it in.  And if I dare be completely honest … it was great blog material too!

And now I am blogging about it … but as a “don’t” instead of a “do.”  Well, kind of.  I “do” recommend the activity … but I also recommend doing it at the right time.

I completely choose the wrong day … I think I may have had a photo shoot in the morning, so my mom was with the girls in the morning and had kept them busy and stimulated.

So by the time I get at them, it’s high noon, and way hotter than forecasted.  So let’s see here … I’ve got hungry, hot, cranky girls … but yeah, perfect time for an activity!

A month before, I had read about a “listening walk” here and thought it’d be right up my girls alley.  So I tagged it, ordered the book … and put it on my to-do list.  Okay, and seriously?  My “to-do” list?

So here are the photos I took while convincing the girls they’d really love this activity …


listening walk

The idea of the egg is to have everyone close their eyes when they’re holding it.  It’s suppose to help them concentrate on what they’re listening to.

They bought it at first …

listening walk

And here’s where the crank set in …

listening walk

We have a pretty large piece of property with a path that surrounds part of it, so I figured we’d just go around the path.

We hadn’t gotten very far before the “crank” set in.  They were hot, so I told them to get undressed.  You can do that in your own yard, right?  And besides, I was desperate at that point.

It was shortly after the strip-tease when I knew they were done.  I’d packed lunch and figured we’d have it half way through our walk.

Plan B had us having lunch two minutes into our walk!  They complained the whole time and wanted to know why we couldn’t just eat inside.

I finally huffed that “fine, let’s just go in!”  We packed everything up and started inside … when Piper looked at me and said, “you sad mom?”

Yeah … as a matter of fact I was sad.  And in my huff, I kind of wanted them to know it.  You know … in one of those awesome mom-of-the-year moments.

listening walk

It wasn’t until a bit later when I realized … remembered really … this was totally an activity that I wanted to do.  And not that they wouldn’t have wanted to … but they didn’t want to at that moment, and I should have honored that.

Pick your battles, right?

I didn’t have to mark this off my to-do list.  It could’ve stayed on there forever.

The right moment would come … and we all would’ve enjoyed it much more at that point.

I’m reminded of something I read a long time ago.  It was written by Harry Connick Jr, on parenting.  He told a story how he really wanted to go to the park with his little girl, but she stopped before they got to the car {or park … can’t remember exactly} and was fascinated by some small rocks and really didn’t want to go to the park.  He started fussing and moaning that it was getting late and they really needed to get going or they’d never make it to the park … when he realized that it didn’t matter whether they went to the park or not.  What mattered is that she’d remember that time with him.

The gift I’d like to unwrap for you today … is the small reminder to stay in the moment.  Why fight and argue over something we want to do?  It’s these small moments, with us in them, that they are going to remember.

Posted in family thoughts, mom-of-the-year, parenting, tuesdays unwrapped

14 Aug


Alternate titles:

  • what the heck!
  • help please
  • needles hurt
  • give me a break!
  • i don’t like shots
  • my crazy life
  • stop the world, i wanna get off!  {my personal fav!}

I was in full on mother-of-the-year mode the other day.  Complete with a crazy threat of leaving the baby in the car while we went into a store.  Really?

But come on … haven’t you been there?  Pretty please say you have!

There are all kinds of activities and crafts I’ve been wanting to do with the kids this summer, but for some reason … life {?} keeps gettin’ in the way!  So I had a day planned where we were going to do some fun things on my list and maybe get some school supply shopping done.

Plans went awry when it looked like Hunter had a suspicious case of chicken pox.  So we started the day with a trip to the doctor’s office.  No chicken pox, whew!

Then we went school supply shopping.  I think I must’ve started the day on a short fuse.  Had to of.  There’s no other way to explain that I could’ve gotten cranky with:

  • The frowning, rude lady behind the concession counter at Target, who pretended not to see us standing there.  Then looked at me like I’d just asked her for her firstborn, when I was only asking for a couple of smaller cups to split a bag of popcorn between the obvious children flocked around me.
  • The other crabby Target lady who yelled at me to get my kids down from climbing the counters in the concession area.  I looked at her patiently and replied, “They aren’t mine.”  Seriously.  How many did she think I had … that would’ve given me six.  Hmmm.  Sad thing is, I almost did ask them to get down.  Funny how we can feel intimidated so easily by others.
  • My very crabby three year old.
  • My slow moving fourteen year old.
  • My cart spinning five year old.  And I should mention, we grabbed the Cadillac of carts, so the thing was a mile long and she was dangerously close to knocking out the entire school supply area!
  • The very cranky man in the parking lot who came around the corner out of no where.  I stopped, so he could pass {remember, I was trying to maneuver four cranky kids and a mile long cart}.  Then looked at me and said dryly, “Excuse us.”  Really sir?  Didn’t he know I was already on the verge of tears?

Then … I noticed in the morning that I had a lunch date planned with a friend.  Totally forgot it was on the calendar, so sent her an email asking if we could reschedule.  It was getting later in the morning and I hadn’t heard from her, so left her a voice mail.  Get a text well after our meeting time that she just got my voice mail.  She’d been at lunch and I was a no-show.  I suck.

Then it was shoe shopping and meeting daddy for lunch.

I should admit, in the midst of this … I just plain wasn’t feeling well.  It’s so hard to explain … it’s sort of this fog that I’m living in.  Sometimes things seem like slow motion.  I can’t process more than one thing at at time.  So when all the kids are whining talking to me at the same time, while I’m trying to figure out what shoe fits or doesn’t, or what’s on their supply list or not, or where we should go to lunch and to call dad, etc. … my mind is yelling, “STOP WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF!”

On top of that … part of my face is numb and tingling and annoying!  Blagh!

But at least I can admit I’m cranky right?  I told CJ I wasn’t doing well, so when we got home I laid down.

I was feeling better when I got up and ready to continue on with the day.

Shortly after, CJ needed to leave for a meeting … so I was at it alone with the kids.  No biggie, I do it all the time.  Only that was before I turned into a newbie injector!


A little later, as I was working on dinner … Hunter fell asleep.  At first she fell asleep sitting straight up watching TV.  I kept trying to wake her.  Her eyes kept rolling and closing.  She was down for the count.  So what did I do?  Yeah, pulled out my camera!  :)  Isn’t she precious though?

She hasn’t napped since the nukie party.  Before the nukie party … she was a napping queen.  This no-nap thing is really taking a toll on me her.

Anyway.  Dinner was ready and I wasn’t feeling well, so didn’t eat dinner with them … I also had to give myself my shot before we left for church.  And miss teenager was up in her room getting ready.  I knew it was a risk leaving the three ‘little’ ones to fend for themselves, but honestly, I didn’t have a choice.  Oh! and by this time, I was able to get the baby awake and sitting at the table to eat.

So I’m in my bathroom preparing my injection, when there are kids calling me asking for this, or that.  I tried to explain that “I was giving myself my medicine and I’d be there in a few minutes.”  Nope!  They wanted me and wanted me now.

It was crazy.  Seriously, I thought … give me a break!  Can a mom just give herself a little injection here?  Reminded me of how many times I’ve had convos with other moms about not being able to ahem, do a #2 alone getting any privacy in the bathroom.

I was finally able to give myself the injection.  Ouch … I don’t like needles … I don’t want to do this anymore … I don’t want to be brave … I don’t want to be sick … needles hurt … shots suck!

And then I packed up all my paraphenlia and went out to the kitchen to face the madness tend to the children.

And then to church to pray, and be filled, and gain strength, and feel peace.  Tomorrow’s a new day …

Posted in eye update, family thoughts, mom-of-the-year, multiple sclerosis

4 Jul

4th of july & a valuable lesson

Happy 4th of July. One of my very favorite holidays! One of my other favorite things? Photography.

So what better opportunity to combine two of my loves? Photographing the fireworks.

We’re up at the lake this weekend and on the night of the 3rd, there’s an awesome firework display right on the lake. This year, with my newly honed photography skills, I was super excited to experiment photographing the fireworks.

Before I get to that experiment, let me back up to the hours leading up to the firework display. Piper spent the majority of the day with a friend who’s family has a house up here and is vacationing this weekend too. When it was time to say good-bye, Piper’s eyes were full of her famous crocodile tears and she was close to a melt-down.

Beside this, there’s the little fact of timing of the fireworks … which are well after this task-master’s set bedtime for her kids!


Darkness sets in, Piper’s c.r.a.n.k.y!, we’re scrambling to get the kids together, make a snack, get them in warm clothing, flashlights, etc. All the while, I’m excited to get my camera on the tripod and get it set up.

We venture outside … Piper’s crying that she wants to stay in {she’s had super sensitive hearing since birth} because of the loudness. Oh! and did I mention she’s having a melt-down crying?

Full steam ahead, we drag her down to a small lake house on the water where CJ was going sit on the roof with the girls and I was going to set my tripod up on the dock below them. We told Piper she could sit inside the house during the fireworks.

This might sound all patient like and caring … but it wasn’t. It was threating, telling her “fine, but you’re going to miss everything.” “Fine, but you’re going to be in the house by yourself.” “Fine, but you won’t get any snacks.” You know {or at least I hope you can relate}, all that awesome mom-of-the-year award-winning parenting.


Everyone’s getting settled, we get Piper set in the house. She’s still crying, but we pretty much give up and leave. Note: we’re literally just outside the door from where she’s sitting.

I grab my camera and am excited to go down the stairs to set it up on the dock. My brother-in-law is already down there {I knew he was} getting his camera set up, and I set my tripod next to his. He gives me an evil glare {no lie!} and tells me we can’t both shoot from down there. Seriously?!?

I sort of give a huff and say I’ll find another spot. I failed to realize, there really wasn’t another spot.

Tears starting to form {yeah, I can be sensitive}, I go back up to the balcony and set up there. Right in front of a large tree.

The fireworks started and I wasn’t getting much, they were all going off right behind the tree. And worse even … I had a straight line of vision to my BIL’s camera below me, so I could see everything he was getting that I wasn’t.

I did my best to get a few shots. It was totally going to be a learning, practice thing, I just really thought I’d have more time and material to work with. Not so.

I really liked this shot below … you can see my family and friends in the lower right corner of the image. And all the little dotted lights along the bottom of the image are the boats in the water facing the firework display.

070409  lake owen 04

Anyway. I’m standing on the balcony all full of bitterness, taking some pretty useless and crappy photos. Piper’s in the house behind me sad, tired and probably a little scared. And in front of me, I see the rest of my family sitting on the roof enjoying a beautiful display of fireworks.

070409  lake owen 05

I managed one creative thought and shot directly through the trees, while quickly turning the zoom on my camera {forgot my wide angle at home} … and got this image. Not bad. But not good enough to keep me shooting and trying for more. I suddenly had this thought of “what the heck am I doing?”

I shut my camera off and went inside with Piper. We snuggled and watched the fireworks through an even worse view than I had while take photos. A few minutes later, Wynter came in and snuggled with us too.

I guess in a way, I’m glad it happened that I didn’t get the spot on the dock. Yeah, I was bitter as heck and you bet CJ heard exactly how I felt about his bro at that moment … but in hindsight … wasn’t it much better to sit with my tired, cranky, scared little girl? Enjoy my favorite holiday and firework display with the ones I love?

There will be other times to photograph fireworks. And even if there aren’t … will I be any worse off?

Again, would my kids rather see some photos mom took of a firework display … or would they rather remember the night that mom came in and held me and made it all better?

070409  lake owen 06

Look at these girls. They’ve grown too fast … they continue to grow too fast. I need to remember what’s important.

Taylor’s going to be a freshman next year … yikes! Last I looked, she was Piper’s age below …

Taylor’s in Texas this weekend visiting her dad. I miss her something fierce. She’s having a hard time this weekend for some reason … says she’ll talk to me about it when she’s home. She had a tweet that read “I didn’t know I could miss home so much.” Can’t wait to hold her tomorrow!

070409  lake owen 08

Big sigh.

And since I was posting a few photos, I thought I’d throw in a few more … :)

Here’s Wynter working on a hopscotch game. It was adorable watching her so intent on her work. She made 23 boxes and was super proud.

070409  lake owen 01

I mentioned Piper’s school friend who’s also up here this weekend. The girls kind of teeter-tottered between houses yesterday … but here’s a moment when we went out fishing. I have yet to post about our recent trip to Canada for fishing, where Piper really honed her fishing skills. But here’s Piper teaching Ellie how to cast … too cute!

070409  lake owen 03

Okay, now for some grossness. I tweeted about a frog and a spider the girls found … well, here’s the spider with her eggs. We finally decided to let it go … just in case her eggs hatched, the netting of the bug house would in no way contain 100’s of baby spiders! Eeek!

070409  lake owen 02

And to counter the grossness … how ’bout some cuteness? This is our little mini-dachshund, Puddles.

Curt and I have gone biking each morning and CJ likes to take the doggie along. He’s incredible {the dog that is! :)}, he runs along-side us and keeps up. Note: car traffic is scarce.

10 miles for a small dog can be a bit grueling though. At one point yesterday, I realized CJ wasn’t behind me, so I stopped and waited. He finally came over a hill, but Puds was no where around. I started riding again and yelled to Curt, asking where the dog was. He said he’d sent him home. This was about 4 miles from home.

I was shocked. How would he know where ‘home’ was … he’ll just know Curt yelled back.

Alrighty then. I continue with my ride.

Shortly after that, CJ passed me … I look up and see the image below …

How cute is that?

070409  lake owen 07

I hope the 4th is treating you well. And I hope you take some time out of your day to remember the men and women who fought, sacrificed and gave their lives so we could have the freedom we enjoy today.

God … bless America.

Posted in family photos, family thoughts, holiday, mom-of-the-year

10 Feb

tuesday randomness

Alrighty … so dad’s out of town.  What does that mean?  Sumin’s going down, that’s what it means.
Piper, Wynter and Hunter all have strep throat!  What the heck?  And then I couldn’t even take them to the doctor, so an awesome case of ‘mom-of-the-year’ guilties set in.
Tay had her modeling class in Brookfield and there was no way I could do both.  And Curt was traveling.  What’s a family to do?  ‘Super Granny’ {my mom} to the rescue … fractured wrist and all!  Thanks again mama for taking them …
Today, Hunter and I had lunch scheduled with my bestie and now we’re all home sick.  I think it’ll be a great day to work on valentine’s cards, goodie bags {how did I get signed up for both girls valentine’s parties?!?}, and I might be stretching here … but maybe we can even work on this!

And for some more randomness … I’m not sure I posted about the birthday party Curt threw for me back at home {I know I gushed all over the Mexico party}?  Anyway, I’ve got the photos from the party up here {thank you Neil & Front Room Photography}.

The party was a blast and I sure was spoiled!  We had a bowling party, dinner and then rented a theater for a movie.  Curt had the video he put together for me play before the actual movie … all our friends were there … it was an awesome night … and I am blessed.
Now off to tend to some sick kiddos!

Posted in birthday, blessed, mom-of-the-year, random