Baby Visser

I remember going on a walk with Kylee last fall, around Lake Hodges, and her telling me that she and Austin had decided to wait to get pregnant.  She had just taken a new job, and didn't feel it was the right timing. 

"Many are the plans of a person's heart, but its the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

And prevail, He did. Just a few weeks later, she told me she was pregnant. She was such a HUGE support for me during my pregnancy and new-motherhood.  I was elated for her, and excited at the opportunity to give some of that support back. 

Kylee and Austin decided to be surprised on their baby's birthday with the gender. I love how neutral the baby nursery is! 















I love their silhouettes in the window.

How great does she look?! She was just a couple weeks away from her due date when we took pictures.







Love LOVE love you friend!  So so excited for you and this journey you're about to start on. You and Austin will be the BEST parents!!!

Baby Brody

A few weeks after Brody was born, I snapped some pictures of my little nephew.  Even at three weeks old, he was the sleepiest baby! He was a dream.  Also, please take notice of the adorable nursery that my sister put together!!! I told you she had an eye for decorating! The pillows, bed spread, rug... all of it was an amazing little back drop.

Get ready for a whole lot of cuteness!



Look at his LIPS!!!
Presley in a princess dress, of course :)



!!!!!! Just too much for me to handle..

I love the next series of shots... Big sister Presley watching over him..





Bill & Kristina Part 2

Thanks for coming back to see part 2 of Bill and Kristina's engagement session. After little outfit change, we went exploring more of Balboa Park.




Bill's smile with his girl at his side says it all. Perfection!






Seriously. Get out of here! So fierce.



LOVE!!!

I had so much fun with you two. I can't wait for your wedding!!!

Bill & Kristina Part 1


It's pretty amazing how God writes our stories, isn't it? Kristina and I were good friends in high school.  She has a fun, energetic and playful personality.  She drew me out of my seriousness and brought me along on her fun adventures.  Her parents were fun, she had a rad house to hang out in, and she was a good friend. Then, our older siblings started dating. Kristina is now my sister in law, by marriage.
After we graduated, we both went our separate ways with school.  We stayed in touch through family get-togethers. I remember the day when Kristina told me she had met up with Bill, and that they had been hanging out. And, I remember thinking that he could be the one for her.  We all went to high school together, but Bill hung out with different people.  I have run into him a few times since we graduated, and each time, he was so genuine and easy to talk to.  I have always remembered him to be a good guy, honest, caring, and a hard worker.
I could tell that Bill fell hard for my friend from the very beginning.  The way he would watch her from across the room, and be protective over her.  He let her know how he felt.  I'm fairly certain that Bill is different than most of the guys Kristina has dated, and I could tell because Kristina acted different with him.  She was more confident. She was happy. She was  more of herself than I think I've ever seen her be before.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Bill swooped in and took this girl off the market for good! It's an amazing feeling to know that your friend is loved.  Its amazing to watch it unfold before your very eyes. Bill LOVES Kristina better than anyone I have ever seen.  Bill, thank you for making my friend happier, and more of herself than I have ever known her to be! You two were completely created for each other, and I am so thrilled to be apart of that in some way. 
 
Now, to the pictures.  Kristina is amazingly photogenic, and because of their amazing chemistry, I have a LOT of pictures to share.  Here's part one!

 
 









Stay tuned for Part 2 on Friday!!

The day Brody was born

We all anxiously awaited the arrival of  my sister's little baby.  At Jen's 20 week anatomy scan, the technician found an oomphalocele on the baby's belly. Typically, that kind of defect is also coupled with other physical and genetic abnormalities. I remember my sister telling me about the phone call she received after the results from the ultrasound came back.  In tears, Jen, Daniel and I sat and prayed over that sweet baby.  Prayed, hard, that God would protect the baby, that the doctors would have all the information needed to proceed with care, and that Jen and Daniel would be strengthened and comforted as they walked a road unknown to them. 
They did a lot of testing, and watched the baby as it grew, and PRAISE JESUS, the doctors determined that there were no other defects, and that the size of the oomphalocele was fairly small. Still, the baby would need to have surgery within the first couple days of it's life. All so so scary and hard to process when you are still carrying the baby in your womb.
My sister was a champ.  She remained strong, calm, and graceful, which I know she attributes to God. Because of the potential complications and stress a vaginal birth can have on a wee babe, the doctors scheduled a c-section.



 Daniel texted my parents and I to come out into the hallway at 9:41 am.
 We all took guesses on what she was having. Most of us thought it would be a girl.  But to our surprise, it was a BOY!

 My sister's lips!
 Wheeling the baby into the NICU.






 They only allowed two people back in the NICU room.  My mom and I went in to find that Jen had just been wheeled in from her recovery.







 It was heavy, seeing him hooked up to everything.  And I even had the comfort of knowing that his defect wasn't that bad.  My heart broke for the other babies in the NICU, and their parents.

 Brody's sweet nurses.


His surgery went really well, and he is a healthy baby boy with a bellybutton :) I can only imagine the stories he'll make up as to how he got his scar.

Welcome to the world, Brody!! You are loved!

Connor, Class of 2014

I walked down the path to the beautiful ranch house at Leo Carillo Ranch, and I reminisced about my senior year of high school.  Connor is graduating from my alma mater (SM you KNOW!), and while my old high school looks completely different, I remember the all the excitement that pulses through your veins as a senior, especially in the last semester.  Connor is going away for college, and I remembered what that was like for me. Everything you've known for most of your life, all your routines, most friends, hang outs... they all change when you graduate. There is a new sense of freedom, but with is a huge responsibility.

Talking with Connor came pretty easy.  He's like an old soul.  He was humble, quiet, and I would bet he is one loyal friend.  I know that Connor will succeed, and I also know that he will fail, because moving out and growing up promises both. But I think his humbleness and loyalty will help him navigate those failures and successes with grace. It was great to get to know him, and I am excited to see him  conquer life.

Connor and his little sister, Rylie. She still has a few years left of high school. Life will be far different for her also!

I love the next few.  The 'tough guy' look comes so easily, so catching a few of him smiling and laughing was rewarding.  I'm pretty sure the question I asked him related to a girls :)





Connor is a talented baseball player, so it was only fitting to have him bring along his base ball gear.  I remember the guys who played ball in high school, and you could almost never find them without their hat.  What I find interesting is that each guy had a certain routine they followed when placing the hat on their head. Shimmy-ing it around for a good fit, pulling the brim up just a bit, smoothing the hair down in the back. Connor was no different.



Congratulations Connor!

Jen's Maternity

Playing a bit of catch-up here. Some of you may already know that my sister, Jen, had her baby already, but I had to share some pictures from her pregnancy... after all, it will be her last, and she was just too radiant to NOT share them.

Jen and I are four years apart. Those four years seemed like decades when we were young.  But once she was in college, and I was in high school, the distance started closing. As we got older, our friendship grew stronger.  She is so creative.  She has a knack for picking out the best prints, and her vision for a room is amazing.  My people pleasing ways usually hold me back from speaking up, even if what I want to say is gentle and honest.  Not Jen. I have always admired how she stands up for herself and others around her.  She tells it like it is, and she knows what she wants. As someone who is always mulling around feelings and shoulds and shouldn'ts in my head, she is refreshing. I always know where I stand.




Get outta here! How gorgeous is she?!


I love this next series of her and Presley.  As she's gotten older, P is very independent (like mother, like daughter!!!).  She isn't really into snuggling much anymore, so capturing a few of them together was really special.


Beautiful, right? What you don't see in this picture are Presley and Will running around like crazy people behind me :)





Love that last one!!

And I had to share a couple of Will. Notice the dirt on his face? He had been rolling around in it while I was snagging pictures of my sis... what ever keeps him happy so I can shoot! :)


Oh Friday...

Hey, peeps, its Friday. We made it through the week! Hooray!

I am thankful its the end of the week. My heart and brain have been processing through some things this week. I am worn out mentally and emotionally.  I don't want to be a Debbie-downer on this fine day.  Sometimes, the best Band-Aid to issues that take time to get through are distractions. Its nice to lose yourself a little in things that are awesome.

Today, I'm sharing some of the things that are distracting me, in a good way :)

1. The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell: I received this book as a gift for my birthday this year. It is blowing my mind, in a really good way.  I've always considered myself a nerd, and gravitated towards math and science. To my surprise, I am growing more and more fascinated by studying people and why they do the things they do.  This book analyzes social epidemics and how they work, whether they are fashion trends, diseases or behavior patterns.  I have always found history borrrrinnnnggg, yet, after reading the first few chapters of this book, I want to know more about Paul Revere. Why was his midnight ride SO effective? Did you know there was actually another guy who went in the opposite direction to let people know the brits were coming? Yeah, neither did I. Malcom uses his theory of social epidemics to explain why Revere is in history books, and why William Dawes isn't. Again, so fascinating!

2. Prints by Lori Danielle: We are getting close to finishing our home, and I am daydreaming about what will adorn the walls.  A few of my favs :
Image of A Bushel & A Peck {Print – Blue}
 
Or how about these in my kitchen?
 
 
 
3. Backsplash: I had originally thought I wanted to use 3"x6" white glass subway tiles like these:
 
  
 
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Traditional Kitchen by Kennewick Kitchen & Bath Designers Darryl Vaughn- Kitchen & Bath ReStylers

until I saw this backsplash from one of my favorite designers, Sarah Richardson:



How beautiful is that?!
New Ravenna | Backsplash | Mosaic Tile | Medina | Quilt | Ming Green | Thassos White
(New Ravenna Designs)

I am in love with the patchwork type feel of the tile.  The gray, white and green are so fresh. We will probably move in before we do the backsplash anyway... now we might have to wait a little longer to install it so I can save up for some just like it!

4. The Tale of Two Tings: I've been following this blogger for a while now.  Besides being ridiculously cute, she and her hubby are currently on a 6 month trip traveling all around south east Asia. It has been fun to read about their adventures. The experience of a lifetime, for sure!

Enjoy your weekend!






 

Happy Birthday DJ

Where there is dirt, you will typically find Will. Will and Presley were playing outside, while the rest of us were in the house.  It was oddly quiet, so I grabbed my camera and went looking.  My parents had a tree removed from their backyard recently, which left a large area of loose dirt. Dirty kids are happy kids.

















We got together for my little sister's birthday. Danielle (we call her DJ) turned 22 back in February.  I have always had maternal feelings towards her I think because she is six years younger than me.  I am sure that was annoying to her, after all, she already has a mom, and another older sister, so she effectively had 3 "moms". As she has gotten older, those maternal feelings have shifted more towards sister-friend. She is driven, but not pushy.  I have always admired her for knowing who she is, even from such an early age.  She is not often swayed by other people.  She is kind, and gentle, and has a way with children that I could never understand.  She watches Will for me and is going to school to be a computer geek... I mean... she is studying computer science :) (love you Deej!). She is smart, talented, and loves on my little guy while I am at work, which I am forever grateful for.








 
Happy Birthday DJ! You are awesome and we LOVE YOU!

Jimmy & Jessica Part 2

We started their session at their house. Jimmy and Jessica like to do projects together, so Jessica prepped these cute little L  O V E blocks.  I hope they keep them forever. How neat will it be for their kiddos to look back on these pictures one day and see the same blocks still displayed?










How rad is this drafting table?!




See that birdcage candelabra? Jimmy made it for Jessica! LOVE that!

The rest of these were after they finished reading their letters to each other.




These next series of photos make me laugh. Jimmy picked up a few rocks and skipped them across the lake.  Jess tried also, but was a little less successful (Sorry Jess!!).









My favorite!

Jimmy & Jessica part 1



Jimmy and Jessica have been married for 5 years.  They wanted to do an anniversary session to celebrate their time together.  They both came with letters they wrote to each other.  We found a secluded spot along the path.  They sat down.  With Jimmy’s hand on her knee, Jessica began reading what was on her heart.  The whole time felt sacred to me, and if I felt that way, I can’t imagine what they felt. 

I don’t remember much of what was in those letters. My brain muffled it out, as if it was almost out of respect for them and their words to each other. I do remember one thing, though. And I have been thinking about it ever since.  I’m not sure if they discussed beforehand what the content of the letters should be, but near the beginning of both of their letters, they apologized to each other.   



I find that so interesting, and so endearing. I think our culture has moved away from, and almost teaches us, to not apologize. Because, an apology recognizes that you are either wrong or caused someone else to hurt.  Who likes doing that? Instead of hearing an apology, we hear:

I can say whatever I want.  If you are hurt by it, that’s your problem.
I was just being honest.

Well, its the truth!
I am entitled to feel the way that I feel.


Apologizing is hard, and it certainly does not align with the ‘do what you want, when you want to, with whomever you want and don’t care what others think’ mentality that is so prevalent these days.


But what people forget is that an honest apology is a reconnection. It says ‘hey, my actions/words drove a wedge between you and I, and I don’t want that.’ Apologies are important in any relationship, but ESPECIALLY in a marriage!  Look, we are human. We are going to mess things up.  Multiple times a day! We will put ourselves first before our spouse. We are going to be quick to anger, blurt things out instead of thinking of the right words to address the situation.  We are going to act on feelings and emotions instead of thinking and talking about them. We hurt each other,  it needs to be acknowledged, and we NEED to be reconnected.


You know that feeling you get when no one else understands you but your spouse?? There is no other explanation needed. They just know. You are both on the same page, things are clicking.. and it feels GOOD. Removing all that built up stuff by saying 'I'm sorry' gets you back on that road. On the road to togetherness.  And, to me, that's what these pictures show.



Jimmy and Jessica, I think this is just the beginning for you two.   You acknowledge your shortcomings. You celebrate each other whenever you can. You love doing things together.  You make each other laugh. You see the best in each other.  Your love was evident in each picture I took. I am honored to be apart of such a sacred time in your lives, and I hope these pictures will be forever special to you.

 


 
Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!
 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasured Forever

Saturday was a rush rush rush rush type of day. I headed to the café at our church for dinner after the Saturday night service. It's the best thing because 1. I don't have a to cook, 2. its only $5 for a full meal, and 3. Its usually really yummy!  I was surprised I even made it to church that night. Rich had something else going on that night, and I needed to meet with the nursery coordinator because I am volunteering to help out once a month. I also had signed up to bring a friend and her growing family dinner that night.  It didn't go as planned.  I used a thermometer to help cook the tri-tip to perfection.  It beeped letting me know it had reached the right temperature. I, stupidly, tried to remove the thermometer from the meat, which had been in the BBQ for a bit, and burned the tar out of my thumb, pointer and middle finger on my right hand. OUCH! I brought the meat upstairs, cut it in half only to find the inside of the meat entirely too rare. Dang it. I'm late at this point, so I had to text my friend to preheat her oven so the meat could keep cooking.. I run the meal by  her house on the way to church, which by the way, I was almost a half an hour late for. I figured I was going to miss the beginning of the message, but that I should go anyway to meet with the nursery coordinator, like I said I would. I get to the nursery, and William walks right over to the helpers. I was astonished.  Lately, he's been crying every time we leave him. The coordinator tells me to go on to the service, and to just come talk to her afterward. I am embarrassed at how late I was. I walk through the sanctuary doors, and to my surprise, the pastor hadn't started yet.

Nothing really clicked while all of this was happening the other evening. I just kept feeling bad. Bad that the meal wasn't cooked thoroughly. Bad that I was late to my meeting. Bad that I was late to church. Bad that my fingers hurt something fierce! Ha. But as I sit here and type it out, I can't help but see that if I had just listened to those voices in my head, to give up because I was late, then I wouldn't have gone to dinner in the café and ran into Kurt. I was disheveled, with too many things in my hands and a baby on my hip, but a few people let me cut in line so I could go over and say hi to him.  He's older now, and I didn't really expect him to remember me.  But to my surprise, he did. He didn't remember my name, but he remembered me.  We chatted a bit about what we've been up to for the past 12 years, and then we parted ways to eat dinner. I've been thinking about it ever since, and I KNOW it was not by coincidence that we were both getting dinner at the same time that night.


Kurt was the trainer at my high school.  All the athletes in school knew him.  Whether he treated them for a sprained ankle, or provided water bottles for their team, he and his training room was there. It was like a staple on campus. I sprained my ankle pretty bad in volleyball when I was a junior, so I spent a LOT of time in his room, icing.  I loved going into the training room and look at all the plaques, pictures, and newspaper articles that lined his walls.  He had been the trainer at my high school for years.  Like I said, everyone knew him, and his walls proved that. He was a smart man, who didn't mince words.  I'm not sure if everyone liked him, but they respected him. He demanded that. He had his own 10 commandments of sorts, only it was more like 15-20, because if you give teenagers an inch, they love to think they can take a mile. When you were in his training room, or if you needed water bottles, or a bag of ice, you had to use proper English.  May I, not Can I. Because if you asked Kurt, Can I....? He would respond with, I don't know, CAN you? He would ask you to leave if you cussed.  In fact, if he heard you cussing outside his training room, it was not uncommon to be doused with a pitcher full of ice. Students had to behave kindly, and with manners. And, they did, mostly. 


I'm not sure how he came to know me and remember me, because there were hundreds of kids on campus that walked into his training room each day.  But he did. One day, I was icing in the training room at lunch.  I think I was a sophomore. I was so impressionable in high school, and placed my worth and identity in being liked by other people, and hanging out with the cool crowd. I was involved in ASB, knew a lot of people, and I was dating a senior. I was cool. I looked like just another high school kid on the outside, but on the inside, I was incredibly insecure. I sat in Kurt's office and iced my foot.  Since it was lunch time, there weren't a lot of kids in there. I gathered my things to leave, and went to dump my bucket of ice-water into the sink.  I was wearing a cute, low cut pink top, and a jean squort (I know, SO COOL RIGHT?! LOL), similar to ones that lots of girls wore, but looking back, was too short. Kurt asked me to come sit in the chair next to his desk.  I sat down. I remember feeling nervous, because I had no idea what he was going to say, and he was intimidating! I can't remember his exact words, but they took on a paternal tone as he told me that the outfit I was wearing might cause others to have a certain perception of me, and it wasn't a good one. His words were gentle, and I did not feel like I was being criticized, but rather, I felt protected and cared for and loved.  He knew who I was, and not just me as a person, but my heart. He didn't want others to think badly of me because I chose to wear things that were much to revealing.  Though he didn't say it outright, he wanted me to know that I was WORTHY of so much more. That I was LOVED and ADORED, and what I was wearing was attracting people who would probably not treat me like that.

I cringe a little when I think about who I was as a high schooler. Crazy as it may sound, I really don't remember ever being told why modesty was important, besides that its what the Bible says, and you have to follow the Bible! Besides, when they preached it at church, I felt that it was more of a blanket statement, meant for everyone.  Like it was something they had to tell us.  It was just another rule, and I was good at following rules, but also at bending them based on what my friends were doing. I don't remember having talks with my parents about why I shouldn't wear certain things, I just remember being told that I needed to change my clothes from time to time because my outfit was unacceptable. And being mad because they just didn't GET it. I have struggled, and still do from time to time, with my identity. I have put it in far too many things and people that are bound to let me down.  That tell me You are not worthy. Which is a lie. Jesus tells me over and over that I am worthy. Just as I am.  Even after all the terrible things I've done or thought or wore, I am worth dying for.

Do you have a daughter? If so, can I challenge you? Find the words to gently tell her that she is worthy of love. That popularity, clothes, boyfriends, how well she does in school, her weight.. (fill in the blank, because really, anything can fit).. all of that could come crashing down.  She could  fail in EVERY SINGLE arena of her life, and she would STILL be worthy of love. And if she rolls her eyes at you and says, Moooooom, or Daaaaaad.... tell her again. And again. Find different ways of telling her that. Every girl deserves to have one person in her life that tells her that. Saying the things that Kurt said to me took courage.  He had no idea what was going on in my life, what I had been through, or if I believed in God or not. He just felt the need to tell me that. And its something I have tucked away in my heart for a long time, and I will NEVER forget it.  I promise that even if she acts like she doesn't care about what you said, or if she immediately zones back out on her phone, she will remember it. It may take her a long time to finally start believing the truth, but how amazing will it be for her when she begins to live that out?  It is a gift.  A gift that cost you nothing but some courage, and will be treasured forever.

Connections and Confidence

I met Marie and Emma by way of referral from a great lady. Emma needed some fun headshots that showed more of her personality.  As usual, the pictures that end up being my favorite are the unplanned.  The spontaneous. The ones that capture real life.  

I realized quickly that  Emma has a quiet sweetness about her that made me want to know what she was thinking.


That green sparkly dress is Emma's favorite.  She calls it her Little Mermaid dress.  What little girl doesn't love to twirl in a pretty dress?! I can still remember as a little girl, twirling in my favorite dress, and how it made feel pretty and lady-like, and that I was special. 



About halfway through our session, Emma told me she was bored. I loved that she told me that. And, really, I couldn't blame her.. Taking pictures for an hour, after she'd been in school all day, should be boring for a 5 year old. So, it pushed me to be more playful with her, to see what she likes.




The sun was setting, and we were finishing up. Emma ran over to this sculpture and poked her head up through it.  She looked at me and said, "Let's pretend that I am in middle school and my friends are mad at me."  I could tell that she thought being that age was cool, and in her mind, that was the type of thing middle-schooler's dealt with.



I asked how that would make her feel, and she said, sad. And then she gave me this face.



I know these last two aren't really what I had in mind to capture for "fun headshots" but they are special to me. I remember being younger and day-dreaming about what it must be like to be a Junior-higher. The cute clothes, the cool kids.. the boys. How much more freedom I'd have, and what fights would look like. My time with Emma surprised me because I was not expecting to be able to relate to her. It's crazy what a hour alone with someone without distractions can do (i.e. my husband, my son, my phone..).

But, I did relate to her, and I think she sensed that, because as she skipped along-side her mom, on the way back to their car, I heard Emma ask her mom, "Can we play with her again soon, Mom?"

And then my heart beamed.  And I remembered about all the times throughout our time together where I was a little uncomfortable, or questioned my ability.. was the light right? Would I be able to deliver pictures that mom had in mind or that she was used to getting with her regular photographer?

My confidence grew a little that day.  But mostly, I was grateful that I even get to do this at all. I'm realizing that for me, its less about the pictures, and more about the connection.  Well, the pictures obviously are important, but the comfort and ease that comes from a great connection makes for better pictures than I could have planned on. Sometimes it takes a little more work, but there's always some connection to be had, and seeing the pictures that come from it is more rewarding than I imagined.

I never made a birth plan


As Steve, Bethany and I walked among the avocado trees, I asked them if they were ready.  They looked at each other, laughed and said “I guess so?” I loved their response, because it reminded me a lot of how I felt when I was weeks away from having my son. I thought I was ready, but ready for what? Everyone told us, Oh, your life is going to change!! But what does that MEAN?! I had no idea. And really, I could set up as many hypothetical scenarios in my head as I wanted, but I had no clue until I experienced it for myself.





 
I never made a birth plan. What's funny is that I am a rule follower, a cross-off-my-to-do-list type of girl, and yet, I wasn't remotely concerned with having a step-by-step plan of how I wanted my labor to go.  I guess I felt that voicing my wants and desires on how I envisioned my delivery to go was like setting expectations for myself on something that I had never experienced before.



 

And we all know how that goes… the disappointment that comes with not meeting expectations. I knew that for me, the disappointment that would have came with those un-met expectations  would have held me back from fully experiencing my son's birth. From experiencing the JOY when my son was first placed on my chest. From being completely wrapped up in him and all the sounds he made. From recognizing that his eyes are his daddy's, and his chubby cheeks are mine. From understanding the depth of my love for this little tiny human, who I was now responsible for. From getting a glimpse into how much He loves me.
 

 

 
 I didn't want to be let down that I couldn't handle the pain on my own, because I wanted to do it all natural.  I didn't want to go in to my labor knowing that I was going to get an epidural as soon as I could, because I had never done it before. I didn't know what I could handle, and I wanted to give myself the option.





Mostly, I wanted the focus to be on my healthy baby boy, not on my own ability. Because, lets face it, I will disappoint myself. I found that when I turned my focus onto the GIFT that was given to me, I realized that God surpassed ALL of my expectations with my boy.


 
 PS. These last two photos are special to me.  I had asked Bethany to change her position slightly by placing her hands right on top of her belly.  Right as she put them there, baby girl kicked.  It's like she was telling her mom Hi!







Confession..

Something a little different than Friday-faves...

Confession time.. Ever just believe a lie about yourself, and before long, you notice you're way off in a far away land, when everything you want and envisioned for yourself, are miles away?

Lie : I should have it all together.

Most days, I feel like I have my stuff together.  I meal plan, and do laundry, and spend time with my husband and son, I blog, I work full time, I go to church, etc etc.. and before long, I start believing that little voice in me that tells me, "Man! You have it all together, Christina!" and "You are doing such a great job! Look, Will is happy, and bathed, and dinner was on the table by 6pm! You got this thing DOWN."

Usually, dinner time is what gets me.  This is how it's been going lately... I pick him up from my sister, and go home.  It's 5:00pm.  Crap, I forgot to pull the chicken out of the freezer!! I plop the bag into some hot water in the sink.  Will is getting into that drawer again, the junk drawer with all of the tools in it, which is right at his level.  I pick up the Phillips screw driver and pliers and put them up out of his reach. He cries, upset that I'm taking his toys away.  I start prepping the veggies for the meal, that will likely be ready after 6:30pm now (I HATE eating late, and that is late to me). Chop. Chop. Chop. Will is at my feet, crying, whining, hitting my legs and biting because he wants me. Rich is home, and in the living room, but my boy wants me.  Its pretty hard cutting stuff up with a very wiggly and curious boy on my hip.  Doesn't he just understand that I NEED to get dinner ready? Why does this have to be chaos?

Does this all sound silly to you? Because re-reading now, it just sounds silly. Why does this get to me like it does? So many other people struggle with far more, so why am I not handling this well? Since when have I decided to be perfect? I have unknowingly set some very HIGH expectations of myself. Most of all, where is God in this?



I read this post the other day, and I asked myself, what is he learning? What example am I setting? When I get frustrated in the kitchen, what does he see mommy do? I probably look like a stress ball.. I feel like a stress ball. If I keep this up, he'll grow up thinking that the kitchen a is stressful place. Every day. That I don't have time to answer his questions or play with him. Better yet, that to avoid that stress, he just shouldn't ask at all. Even though I may be saying the right things, are my actions backing that up? I know he's still young, and won't have any memory of this, but, I can't help but think that if I don't stop some of those behaviors now, that IS what his memory will be.

Here's the thing.  I actually REALLY like cooking! I like making a warm, home-made meal for my family.  I enjoy it!  But, man, do I show something different. My behavior, the way I handle dinner time, is really just a reflection of my heart. A selfish heart that is obviously desires to cross things on my to-do list off way more than seeking what He wants of me in this moment, in this short time, when my family is young. I so badly want to do right by my kids. What parent doesn't?

Truth is, I've believed in Jesus since I was a little girl, and I struggle with the entirety of the gospel. Sure, it brings life after death, but it also brings life TODAY. I will fail my own perfection every. single. day. But that is not what He asks. He simply wants me to want a relationship with Him. And He will take a legalistic, perfection-ist wanna-be, like me, and make me new.I trust that He will make all things new. Even my little ol' dinner time. Because He loves me that much.

I've been thinking and talking to God about this lately, and, here's some things that I think need to change.  The TV and phone need to be off and out of reach (unless I'm using the phone for a recipe :)) Lord knows I don't need any more distractions.. spending time with my family and making dinner are enough! Maybe play some music? Also, give my boy some undivided attention right when I get home, for maybe 10 minutes.  I can tell that he misses me during the day, and when I get home, he wants some mommy time. I need to let go of making dinners every night.. and that there will be nights where everyone needs to fend for themselves.. and that's OK.

One day I will BEG him to play with me. I'll probably fight him to get off of the computer or video games or whatever it is, and spend time with me. I want to cherish this time that I have with him now.


Still with me?? That was pretty long :) I reward you with some pictures of my boy. We had just taken out the trash, and the door was open. Of course, he thinks it is the coolest thing. I turned around and found him inside :)


 And a few from our house. He is concentrating so hard on filling up that cup with dirt and rocks.. his little tongue sticking out just kills me. I wonder if that'll be what he does when he's concentrating, as he gets older.
 Helping clean up! Gotta start 'em young ;)


I'm working on a blog post of our house and the progress we've made thus far.... I'll post it one of these Fridays :)

Have a great weekend!


The Carpenter/Werland/Delavar Family

When I was little, we lived in San Diego. My mom worked during the day and my dad would work graveyards so he could watch my sister, Jen and me during the day, and not have to pay for daycare.  He also watched my cousin Marissa.  We are 5 months apart, and were inseparable.  I have the fondest memories of spending time at her house, being the older cousin to her sister Alicia, and playing with all the neighborhood kids on Appleton St.  My cousin always had something fun planned. She is the adventurous one.  She likes to try new foods, and go to different places. I was always more cautious.  That's why I love her so much. I wanted to be around her all the time, and so it forced me to try new things also.  I'm sure I was annoying, but she never let on if I was :)

My cousin has moved a few different places, and now lives with her husband in New Mexico.  They came out for Christmas, and I was honored to be able to take some pictures of my family :) They are a big, blended family now, with lots of love.


The whole gang!

Marissa & Chris


They love their mama!
Brandon, Justin and Devin
My Uncle Mike and his girls!



I don't know who made them laugh, but thank you!! They both had the same response, and I caught it!

My pretty cousin Alicia with her boyfriend Connor.


Pretty sisters! Love them!

Friday Faves


1. Worth it: Are you one of those people who loves to find bigger items online for the best price? (If anyone said no to this, you are obviously crazy... :)) If you have some time to hunt, this website allows you to keep track of those items, and it will only email you when the item goes below a price that you designate as "worth it" on various reputable websites.  I've been using this a TON lately with camera items.  It basically watches the prices on different items and lets you know when they drop. It's great!  In the market for a new BOB stroller, or have your eye on a fancy handbag?  Track their sale prices with this site :)

2. The cutest paper-goods from Greylein on Etsy.  Kimi is a very talented friend of mine who started designing invites and cards recently and her shop has just taken off! My fave is this print.. you guys, its only $5.99 for the digital download! Get it NOW!

Home is wherever I'm with you // tribal / teepee / arrows / home decor / poster

3. I'm a huge Katie Daisy fan, and one of my sweet co-workers bought me this calendar for my birthday (which was Monday).  I'm in love with it, and I'm even  more excited to frame all the artwork after I'm done with the calendar next year!



And for some pictures! My niece turned 3 two weeks ago, and I got a couple really awesome pictures of her blowing out her birthday candles!
 My boy and me
 Princess Bell (I think??)

Me and my seestars :)


The Wood Family

I met Tom, Sarah and little Harper down at Shelter Island just before Christmas.  I know its probably hard to remember how cold the nights were around Christmas time with how HOT and dry its been lately! It started off really nice, but then got really cold! Sarah brought the cutest little fur hat, hoping Harper would keep it on for a few pictures before she took it off, but it ended up being so cold that she wanted to keep it on for most of the session! Poor little thing! She was so cute and warmed up pretty quickly to me.  I love it when that happens!




Harper loves her wagon! She was perfectly happy riding around in it, rather than wanting to get out and run around like most toddlers I know.


I'm in LOVE with how this one turned out! Definitely one of my all time favorites!!


How sweet is she?!









Thank you Wood family!  I had the best time getting to know you guys!

Friday Favorites

I have a couple of goals for 2014 with this little blog space of mine. One is to blog more consistently.  I am hoping to blog at least twice a week.  And the second is to share a little more about me :) Some of my favorite photographers and bloggers are ones that not only share pretty pictures, but also make me feel like I know a little bit more about them than that they are photographers.  So, I hope my readers (Hi mom!!) will feel like they know ME too. 

Friday Favs:
1.  Plan to Eat: I was gifted a subscription to this website for Christmas by one of my lovely coworkers.  This site is rad because it allows me to save my favorite recipes, and then I can drag & drop those recipes onto a monthly calendar.  From those planned meals, it will also generate a shopping list for you, based on the recipes' ingredients.  I try every month to meal plan, and am usually only successful for one week, and then I get busy and overwhelmed.  If you are a working mom, and like to be organized, this is for you! You can also sign up for a free 30 day trial to see if you like it. Let me know if you sign up! We can be friends and share recipes through the site.  I just went through and added 50 recipes this week.. here's to more home-cooked meals (and saving $$ by not eating out because I wasn't prepared!).

2. I haven't shared too much about this, but my husband and I recently bought a home. We saved for a LONG time, and now have the opportunity to renovate the inside.  We are beyond thankful and grateful to make a home how we like it. Originally, we were only planning on doing just a few rooms, but, you know how renovations go... things change quickly and constantly! I am in the process of trying to decide design styles for the bathroom, and I love these tiles:

 
from here
And for a pretty penny more, these!!!


from here

You can follow my pinterest board here to see what I am currently loving for the house.


3. This post on goals for the new year.  I love how Ann Voskamp writes... its like she takes it right out of my heart. I've printed two copies of her manifesto, one to keep at work, and one at home. 


What are your goals for the new year?? 

And, because I feel the need to post pictures, here are a few from our Christmas eve with my parents :)

 Growing up, we always had Christmas Eve at my grandma Connie's house.  She made tacos and enchiladas.  My grandma and my uncle came up to my parents house this year, and she didn't make all of the food, but the menu stayed the same.  It's one of my most favorite traditions.

A little blurry, but these are my favorite Christmas decorations.  My mom hand made all of our Christmas stockings, and they are all so intricate.  I have made stockings for Rich and me, and am working on one for Will. I hope my kids will love them as much as I do.
My niece, Presley, loves to wear my shoes.  Whenever I take my shoes off, she'll go try them on and walk around the house in them.  She so coordinated! She's been doing this since she was about a year and half.
And of course, we made her pose for some pictures in front of the tree in her fancy shoes.. hand on the hip! Kills me!


Notice a little shadow on the stairs?
Hey Bubs :)

Playing with a new toy.
My parents got Will this little push train.  He loves it!

Have a great weekend everyone!


 

Disclaimer: I did sign up for the Plan to Eat affiliate program which means that if anyone signs up for a subscription from the link I posted, I receive a very small percentage for the referral. I found the website online and loved it so much that I wanted a subscription.  Basically, the opinions are my own :)
 

The Keller Family

Howdy! Happy New Year!  It was quiet on here over the Christmas holiday... I took a little break to spend some time with my family, and work on the house (more on that later).  It was nice, relaxing, and busy all at the same time.  Now, onto some pictures!

Meet the Keller's! Mike and Miranda are two of the sweetest people I have ever met.  And not in obnoxious, there's-no-way-your-life-is-that-great kind of way.  You just want to be around them!! We got together just before Christmas at Discovery Lake to get some picture of their growing family. Logan is full of energy (just like my William).  I had such a great time chatting on parenthood and catching up with them :) 














 

 Love those open mouth kisses!
 

 LOVE!!!



 How cute is Logan??!