Monday, October 17, 2016

Life Upside Down

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"I seriously want to give up on homeschool. Alex is in a funk I cannot break. I am beyond frustrated... How do you keep your sanity while catering to multiple styles of learning. Oh, and correcting nine years of confused parenting? I did some crying out to God today on my knees."

This was the exact words I texted to my bestie last week.The week before had been horrible. The homeschool honeymoon was over. Let me add this texting conversation was only 45 minutes after thinking I should really put up a blog post, one that was all colorful and warm, about how homeschool was going so far this year.

Her response: "You make a lot of mistakes, you eat a lot of crow and you pray a lot! It is worth it though."

And this got me thinking, "Why did I begin homeschooling in the first place?".Ahhhh yes, it was a prompting from the Holy spirit.

It was a little voice of mommy intuition that cried out each time I dropped a pair of sweet brothers off at the local school. When the "what if's" began to surface. And looking into their innocent eyes I would promise them that if ANYTHING ever happened that I would do everything in my power to come and get them and bring them home to safety. But you and I both know that school shootings are now a growing scary list.

It was a loss of values in this great country of America. Having conversations with an eight year old about why some of the kids in their class may have two mommies or two daddies and how this isn't God's plan but that we must still be kind and quietly pray for them to learn the truth.

It was dozens and mountains of heartfelt prayers. A marriage to a man who doesn't voice whether or not he may say a prayer and likely does not was an obstacle I was certain that would only be overcome by the Lord Himself. Car rides to school usually involved a tearful prayer from two small boys crying out to God that if it was the right thing for our family, could we please homeschool?

It was support from an amazing group of Christian women who I meet with weekly who encouraged me to consider praying that I could homeschool. We talk about the world around us and feel pretty strongly that we are given children as a gift so that we can teach them in the way that they should go.

It was the desire to extend a little devotional here and there to daily studies that bring the Bible into every facet of our lives. I didn't want to hope that they learned what was necessary from the coloring sheets and songs on Sunday's. The Bible is the most incredibly written and complete life manual for teaching!

Why did we have such a horrible week? It was likely a beautiful reminder from God himself that even when life is turned upside down He is in the details. We humans are funny that way. We need a reason to remember why we follow His leading in our lives. By crying out to Him I have realized exactly why we  are on this journey of homeschool. Homeschool is an opportunity to live life as he intended for us and for this I am grateful. By falling low I was given the chance to cry and out, pick up my cross and follow Him.

And what did I do with this rough week? I followed it with a week of Joy. Play dates with friends, math worksheets on the couch while all snuggled up to mom, lunch in the park with a book, a trip to the library, movies that teach gratefulness and a breath of fresh air.

Boy am I blessed.

In Him,

Thursday, September 8, 2016


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"Be careful of the thorns when gathering fruit and understand when it's time to prune."
-Robyn R. Rasmussen 
This simple statement should have been at the forefront of my mind when deciding to start a business.

If you are reading this blog you have likely become accustomed to reading blogs and searching the Internet for information while being entertained.  Innocently enough my quest for business began much the same way and found it's way out in the photography world starting and ending with photographing food.

Food in it's simplicity and still beauty was and is my favorite thing to capture in pixels. Preparing a beautiful dish and then hunting for dreamy sunlight brings me joy. Sitting on my bigger behind for eight hours a day diligently editing for looming deadlines of holiday cards and high school yearbook deadlines does quite the opposite in the way of my feelings.

Photography to make money is like convincing yourself that sugar-free syrup is delicious. It seems totally possible, as the deep amber liquid flows from the bottle. It is sure to bring a sweet delicious calorie-free morsel to your mouth and then you place the first bite in your mouth it's believable. Then suddenly you get the after-taste. The slightly tangy, distinct, non-syrup, non-sweet taste clings to your tongue. You convince yourself that maybe the next bite will be better but it just never does. Eventually you get used to the unusual taste and decide that this is just the way that having pancakes calorie-free will have to be.

Year after year I was really good at forgetting the bitter taste and digging in for another calorie-free bite only to realize once again that things have not changed. Photography is just as challenging and unexpectedly hard year after year, season after season. Perfection only complicated this process as each year I held myself to yet a higher standard of skills and offerings. And much like diet food in general, my family was not buying it.

On the flip side of dieting you have exquisite four course meals at a five start restaurant in Chicago that you dream of dining at one day. There is an elite list that you desire to top. Soon you find out that topping the list means reaching high goals, long hours and sacrifices.

As I have grown in a deeper understanding of where God has placed me in this fading world I have realized that my focus as a Christian was less than Christ-centered. It was business centered with a Christ flavor. The original focus of my photography was to glorify God but in the quest to make things make sense I lost my footing. Rewarding were the smiles of a mother who has dealt with loss and then watched me photograph her new baby daughter or the gentle reassurance to the mother of a six-month-old when telling her that I would be praying for her as she was up in the night. Rewarding was revisiting children that I have known since babies and now documenting their senior year.

The moment it changed was the moment it was my sole career. I spent hours being encouraged online to make money doing what I loved. And the simple of idea of making money was what brought it all downhill. Money took control. The dollar trumped my family, my values, my weight, my health and most of all my faith.

Finally, 3 years down the road I began to realize with the still small voice of God that I was not on the path He had intended. I was wandering further and he was ready to help me gently turn back. And it was almost overnight that I decided to sell my camera and quit the photography business. I have not turned back for a moment. It has been beautifully rewarding and worth every moment.

Do I love all those clients and experiences that I had along the way? Absolutely yes, I loved every minute of it. Did I get carried away in my quest to make a greater salary? A resounding yes. Where do I go from here? I'm not sure. It is a work in progress. For now, I am focusing on my family and taking photos with my iPhone.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

First Snow of the Fall

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I have to be careful saying first snow of the year... because quite honestly we have had plenty of snow early in 2015. Drawing closer to the Thanksgiving week and kickoff to the holiday season we have been given 8 inches of heavy wet snow. And the family could not be happier!

I was supposed to be sleeping in because I work overnight tonight but much like a kid on Christmas morning I hopped right out of bed and ran out to take some photos of the first snow of the fall.

Our dogs, both Pitbull and Springer Spaniel mix, adored the snow and could run in it for hours. The tiny little puppy ran in circles with snow up to her belly and she didn't mind a second!

The older the boys get the more they enjoy it. Once they dug the snow pants and boots out they were able to completely dress themselves, a HUGE improvement from last year. And, when they went out they were happy to play for over an hour.

As I watch my boys grow I am so excited that we are at this stage in life. Memories in the making!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

PB&J Popcorn: A Healthy Game-Time Snack

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Looking for a healthy football season snack?

Stove top popcorn is a favorite in our home and I thought it would be fun to change it up to make a new flavor. While in Target the other day I found this amazing berry chocolate and started dreaming about PB&J creations I could make. With five ingredients and a couple of minutes I made a yummy and healthy snack.

1/2 cup Popcorn kernels
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2-4 Tablespoons PB2 powder
1 Teaspoon sea salt
4 squares berry flavored dark chocolate.

Popping Popcorn On Your Stove top:
Place coconut oil in a medium pan with lid on medium heat. Once hot, add the popcorn kernels and heat, covered until you hear it sizzling. Then, leaving lid on, shake the pan as you hear the kernels popping. Remove from heat once you no longer hear kernels hitting the sides of the pan. You must continue to move while on the heat in order to keep the popcorn from burning.

Add your seasoning:
Transfer to another dish and sprinkle the PB2 and sea salt over and mix thoroughly. Then spread out on parchment paper.

Add your toppings:
Heat dark chocolate in microwave until melted for drizzling. Spread the popcorn and drizzle over the top.

I have also been known to spread the popcorn out on a baking sheet and sprinkling M&M's and marshmallows on top before sliding the mixture into an oven at 350° until the marshmallows are browned and puffy.

The seasoning is lightly PB flavor with just a kick of berry sweet chocolate. Enjoy your hint of PB&J popcorn!

For more healthy snack tips and ideas you have to visit this page

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Meet Rosie {Our newest adopted puppy}

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We have soft hearts over here. Our girl Daisy was adopted into our family 3 years ago and we just adopted a new baby girl puppy we have named Rosie. When I find out that these sweet dogs are headed to the pound we just won't let it happen. It's really a great lesson on spaying or neutering your pets. Quite simply, while we love both our girls to pieces, they both were products of neighbor hood dogs running around without being spayed or neutered.

I'm not bashing the fact that the families who had these puppies because I know that the surgery does cost money and it seems like a fun idea to get a random litter of pups. However, we made sure to save up the cash and spay our Daisy as soon as we could and we are happy we did so.

Now for the story of how we fell in love with Rosie.

Meet Rosie a mix of Pitbull and Springer Spaniel

Monday I hear my back yard neighbor telling me she "had a puppy for me". I actually thought she was joking because it's not a typical line to hear. So I moseyed over to find the cutest little baby girl puppy. I fell in love instantly. 1. because she is cute and 2. because she looks to be the identical mix of breeds as our girl Daisy. Clearly Pitbull mixed with what looks to be Springer Spaniel. This sweet little puppy has kind eyes and a little spunk to her step. She instantly warmed up to me and I was hooked.

My husband got home from picking the boys up from school about the same time. I  wanted to have the same effect on my family that the neighbor had on me so I simply told them "I have something to show you". I didn't tell them what. I knew that as soon as they would see her we would have to take her home with us. I was not wrong.

Our neighbor had also grown a bit attached so I wondered if she would be willing to let her go. The story is that a neighborhood family had a litter of pups and another girl in the neighborhood had taken our puppy home. When she got home here grandfather refused to let her keep a second dog. So, they took it back to the home of the mommy and pups and were told that they could not take it back. Now we had this puppy with no home and so my neighbor took her in to care for her for a couple of days until she hopefully found a home. Sadly without that kind neighbor and our family she may have ended up at the pound. (Which absolutely breaks my heart!)

My neighbor told us to think about it overnight. She did not want us to make a decision based on emotion without weighing out the pros and cons. We discussed it at quite some length but my husband knew that I had already made up my mind.

We have been visiting the idea of a bearded dragon for months now. We have visited pet shops, watched YouTube videos and talked with many people who have had them as pets. However my eight year old son is just  a bit on the young side to handle such a responsibility. I have never had reptiles and was a bit turned off by the feeding and cage cleaning. But, I will say beardies are the cutest little reptiles that may still find a way into our home in the future. But the child who was sold on getting a beardie chimed in "If we get the puppy I won't keep begging for the bearded dragon!". We explained to him the amount of work a puppy is but he was also decided.

The next morning when I woke up I was excited as a little kid on Christmas. I rolled over and told my husband. "I want that puppy." And not more than a couple of minutes later my youngest son walked in and I asked him what he was thinking about with a big smile on his face at 6am. "That puppy".
Mommy and Rosie. 

The wait for my neighbor to come home that day was the longest wait ever. As soon as I saw her I ran over and told her that "I want that puppy" and I'm hoping that you haven't decided to keep her! :) She was overjoyed that I had decided to keep her because our family was perfect for this puppy.

I had explained to my boys that the neighbor may keep her and that we had to be ready to accept that as I dropped them off to school for the day. Then my husband and I picked up the puppy and brought it along in the car line for school pick up. The reaction when they saw her on my lap was priceless.

After we finished our happy tears we took a couple of pictures.
Rosie curled up on mommy's lap.

Yes, he was so excited the picture was blurry and the seat belt was incorrect. We made sure to fix that before we left the school parking lot. :) 

Full of happiness and excitement we went and picked out her first collar and leash as well as getting her a couple of fun new toys and a metal collar tag for making sure people know she is ours. And then it was home again to help big sister Daisy warm up to her new little playmate and sister Rosie.
Ezra loves his Daisy! He calls her "his girl". 
I was not worried about Daisy and her reaction to the puppy. She is a very gentle mannered and kind dog. Our little Ezra did tear up when he realized that "Daisy wasn't the only girl anymore". We have been very careful to give Daisy all the regular attention she loves and encourage their friendship.

Checking out the new toys.

We all had a great evening together playing and cuddling. We even had a successful first day with only one "half" pee accident. Over all I think that Daisy is pretty excited about her new baby sister.

 Daddy & Daisy in their regular cuddle spot with their new visitor. Daisy shared her space nicely.

While we always have a little bit of homework and dinner to make we still found time to play with our sweet new girl! 

The first night went pretty well. Mommy slept on the couch next to Rosie's kennel and I had the alarm set for every two hours to be sure I woke up to let her go potty. Well, Rosie made sure I was up every 1 1/2 hours instead. She had a very good night of going potty outside and then settling right back in to her bed. 

First thing in the morning Alex was happy to take her outside for her morning potty. Although he had to learn how to manage holding a wiggly pup and hanging onto a leash while opening the door. 

Mommy then had her first successful day at work with coming home every 1 1/2 hours to let her out to potty and play. We set up her kennel to face Daisy's kennel so they won't be lonely. I have noticed that now Daisy doesn't whine when she hears me come home if she has the puppy facing her in her kennel.

Last night went much better and we have settled into a nice routine. We do feeding 3 times a day, water when thirsty, play for 1 hour and sleep for 2 hours with the exception of nights when we sleep all night with potty breaks about every 2 hours.

I'm sure you will be seeing more adorable photos and videos as well as some puppy training woes. It's much like having a newborn at home without going through the labor. We couldn't be happier and love our little family so much!