Photography - Cookie Decorating

9-year-old: I might get a godzilla from Santa.
Me: You think?
9-year-old: Yeah, because what I know about Santa is that he knows what kids want and he knows if they are on the good list or the bad list.
Me: Which list do you think you're on?
9-year-old: Probably the one I'm on every year...the good list. This year was a pretty good year...but last year, I think me and my brothers barely made it. #ChristmasConversations

I've been working on upcoming posts and will be excited to start rolling those out in 2017. Happy New Year everyone!

Photography - Colorado

I see the fingerprints of God...
The golden hour, when the sun sets and makes everything look more brilliant - this is my absolute favorite time to photograph. (Top photos.) Pictures taken this summer in Colorado.

Why Mom Mistakes Can Be Good

I didn’t tuck my tween-age son into bed.

Instead, I slipped into my own bed and fell under the trance of Downton Abbey. (Which dashing suitor is Mary going to wed? I can’t believe that happened to Edith! HOW DID I JUST NOW DISCOVER THIS SHOW?) Forty-five minutes into my television coma, my son came upstairs. His tall, lanky figure loomed in the doorway…

“Mom, you forgot to tuck me in.”

Forty-five minutes.

He waited that long for me. ("Mother of the Year." Nailed it.)

So we went downstairs. I pulled the soft blankets over him, briefly chatted, whispered a prayer, planted a kiss on his cheek, and told him how much I love him.

Then I climbed back upstairs with a huge smile on my face.

Just when I thought he was getting too old and a little weary of mom’s ridiculous showering of affection in tucking him into bed, he reminded me even older boys still need their mamas. I love that I forgot to tuck him in, because I got to experience this moment.

Mamas, why do we stress so much about making mistakes?

Photography - A Convenient, Eye-Pleasing Background

One of my favorite things in all of life is a good family photo.

Thanksgiving can be a perfect day to try and get that. You’re already dressed up. You're meeting family and friends, so readily have someone to take the picture. And everyone’s happy because turkey and pumpkin pie does that to people.

You do need a good background, but that might not be as hard to find as you think. That bustling business with its packed parking lot you tend to daily drive by and ignore? Once the cars have cleared, it can become a fabulous simple, modern background. These pictures are taken in such a place.

Then, it's fun to do a quick edit to enhance the photo. I love black-and-white shots. On my phone, I use the VSCO app to create the effect. On Photoshop, I use Shutter Pulse Actions. For the color shots, I didn't run any actions, simply increased both the brightness and contrast. (This can be done with any editing software.) 

Also, I must add, I’ve given up on long photography sessions with my family. They max out at fifteen/twenty minutes, so we just go with that. I usually get at least one photo I like. So, I’m happy with that…

…and if not…well, there’s always the pumpkin pie…

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Sadness Over Change {And The Good Stuff It Means}

I thought it'd be fun to post pictures of our home we sold. So many big life moments happened there: birth of our last son, two babies lost (miscarriages), a season of being a stay-at-home-mom, success in our careers, a job loss, birthdays, holidays, raising kids, and lots of DIY projects as we flipped that home...oh goodness, how did we close the chaper already? I had myself a good cry about leaving our sweet space. (And our beloved neighbors.) But I think when we feel deeply sad about a transition, it means we really lived, learned so much, overcame, loved each other, and overall enjoyed the season before. Ultimately, that is a good thing. So I'm taking a moment to cherish, then eyes forward. [I'm also posting these pictures because then I can look back and remember my house as clean. Because if you post it online as clean, then your home always was clean, right?!?! ;) ]

Hope Will Find You

Something I’ve noticed about hope, it always comes back to you.

It’s like how my son sends his yo-yo rapidly towards the ground and yet, when it reaches the bottom, it curls its way back up the string to be caught by ready hands.  Or just when you think the night can’t get any darker, the first of the morning rays peek over the horizon. Or when you’ve told your dear friend you’re fine and no worries, yet she later sends you a check-in text anyway.

What's something you can do when you feel hopeless?

Get up. Take a shower. Eat breakfast. Hold your head up high and carry on about your day. And you wait for it. Look for it. Expect it.

Hope will show up. It might be the tiniest of slivers or the entire sun itself, but it'll be there. It'll show itself. 

It always does.

"...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

To the Mountain Before Us

To the mountain before us: Do you know how resourceful, creative and strong our God is? There are many ways to conquer you. We can scale you the old fashioned way with salty tears, gripping sweaty hands, and determined steps. Or a cheerleader helicopter pilot might swoop down, tuck us under the safety of strong wings and help us fly over. We can gear up with backpacks, granola bars, and sleeping bags to long haul the hike around you. We can stare you down until we simply know – just know – our only choice is to one-eighty-around and walk away from you. Or we perhaps rest at your base and let time shift our perspective. We might decide you’re not quite as bad as we initially thought; we’re going to stay because we’re seeing beauty in the view. To the mountain before us...our God will move us forward despite you. It might not be how we initially envisioned, but GOD IS FOR US. So that means you are conquered. However that turns out to look like. #YourWillBeDone#JesusWeAreWithYou #SpeakLife  
The words are mine, but image credit:TobyMac

Photography - Hawaiian Beach

One thing I noticed about the Hawaiian beach we were on: Contrary to your inner dialogue and opposite of what advertisers want us to believe, NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE IN A SWIM SUIT. Everyone is too busy enjoying themselves. I came up with this theory: When there's breathtaking scenery and a relaxed environment, cellulite becomes invisible. No amping, I speak truth. Feel free to test my theory. Tell your husband he needs to take you to Hawaii. Or grab your girlfriends and head for the shore. For the sake of research. 

In this round of Hawaii photos, I wanted to capture the complexity yet simplicity of the water. The people in these photos are more props while the star of the show is the beauty of water. The turtle photo doesn't really count, but he sure looks good tucked in the water shots, doesn't he? Also, the picture of the kids throwing food into the ocean was at the fabulous Restuarant 604. When the kids were done eating, the waiter told them to grab their leftovers and feed the  fish. Our kids were smitten with the place, and at least I felt like the broccoli didn't go to waste. (Just kidding, we didn't even get as far as ordering veggies. Fries, please. I can't worry about everything when we're on vacation.)