Monday, September 30, 2013

Screw You Lemonade Makers!

Whoever said "when life gives you lemons make lemonade"... I'd like to find that person and karate chop them in the throat!

Because sometimes there is NO TIME TO MAKE LEMONADE!

My morning... oh my morning. Good ol Monday morning.

You see... it started out quite nice... the kids were good this morning. No problem getting them ready for school and out the door. Easy peasy. I decided I wanted to go to Panera for a while... so I did. I stopped at the craft store first to pick up some yarn I needed to make something to finish off my fall decorations. And then I went to Panera and relaxed and read and relaxed... and relaxed.

At 11:00 I decided to go home so I would have fifteen minutes to clean before I had to go get Jason from school. I jump in the van, turn the key and think "that doesn't sound right!" Turned it off and tried again. Nope... not right. Not even going to try driving that.

I was stuck. I ran back into Panera, turned my kindle on and left a note on facebook hoping someone would see it and get Jason from school... because I was walking home and didn't think I would make it on time.

And then I had to leave because I didn't have time to wait for a response. And I walked... and walked... and walked... and breathed in car exhaust the entire way. All 2.5 miles. It. Sucked. I kept looking at my watch and I hit that point where I was certain I wasn't going to make it... where I knew that the day had finally come when I would totally let my baby boy down. And I didn't know if anyone had got my message to get him for me.

I was praying the whole way "please God! Let them dismiss a little late today!"

And that's the only bright spot in this story... because I actually did make it in time. I got close and just started running... looking like a total dork because I wasn't dressed to be out for a run. 38 minutes after finding that my van wouldn't run right I showed up at the school and all the other parents were still standing there.

Whew! I wouldn't have to let my baby down after all.

But I am not happy! My van is sitting at Panera. My legs are dying. My stomach is cramping up. My feet have blisters. I want to walk around kicking people in the shins... just because. Thankfully I live right by the school and didn't have to go any farther. I got Jason home, threw together a quick lunch, took my second shower of the day because I was drenched in sweat from my unexpected workout, and then practically crawled back down the stairs because my legs hate me. (I guess that's what I get for not exercising in forever!)

I'm planning on sitting on the couch watching movies the rest of the day. I would read but the books I want to read are in the van... at Panera... 2.5 miles away and I have no way to get there. The yarn for my project I want to work on is also in my van... at Panera... 2.5 miles away.

And I just had another cancel for a photo shoot... somehow I went from having four in one weekend to only having one. Nice.

So today... to all the lemonade makers out there I just want to say SCREW YOU! I'm having a bad day and I am not making lemonade. *And now I feel like I should stick my tongue out and do that little spit thing*

Family Time... With Animals

We recently took a family trip to one of our favorite places... Living Treasures. The kids get out of school at 2:15 on Thursdays which means we have plenty of time to enjoy the animals before the park closes. And with Mike's new work schedule he was able to go as well! 

4 things...

1. The Lions.
I was standing at the viewing window by myself when this guy stood up, snarled at me and then charged the window!! Never before have I had to so completely put my faith in a window and electric wire! I think my heart stopped for a second!

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This girl... apparently not happy either.

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2. The Camel.
Since it was just days before Liza's birthday when we went we treated the kids to a camel ride. They always ask but if you do everything while there the cost really begins to add up. But birthdays are special times that deserve special things. 

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3. The Birds.
Liza is an absolute lover of all things animal. She always looks forward to the birds. Pretty sure she would hang with them all day if we let her. We had the bird house to ourselves and Liza was just loving it!

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4. The Baby Leopards!!
Doesn't get much cuter! They were still a little unsteady on their feet. Adorable! We need to go back.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Worth It

On August 22 I wrote about how I was going to stop surrendering to food. I was going to stand up and say "No more food! You are no longer in control of me! I will no longer surrender to you and I am going to take control of my life when it comes to you."

I know it sounds silly but I WAS surrendering to food!

Angry? Food will love me.
Sad? Food will make me feel better.
Cookies? YES PLEASE! Because I don't know how to say no.

But then I stopped surrendering. I realized I had a choice... every. single. time. There is always a choice.

But man! You guys!!! It has not been easy.

Last weekend we celebrated Liza's birthday. I was sitting at home suffering through PMS (hi guys!) while Mike baked Liza's cake. The smell! It was so divine. I looove cake. And everything in me was telling me I NEEDED it! Like NOW! No joke... I emailed the girls I do accountability with all "I'm DYING!!! I want to eat the cake. My mouth is watering and it won't stop! The thought and smell of cake is consuming meee!" Yeah. I can be a bit dramatic. But I really felt like I was sitting here salivating like a dog over the thought and smell of cake. It was out of control! I blame the hormones.

In all seriousness though I was completely obsessed with the idea of cake.
And I had a choice.
Surrender... or don't surrender.

I chose to not surrender this time. I took control. I told myself no... because giving in would have been surrendering for me this time because I didn't feel in control.

The cravings and the need for cake passed and I never had a piece. I didn't even lick my fingers or the knife after icing it.

Then it was my birthday on Wednesday and it's weird to have a birthday and not eat cake... but I knew I wasn't ready for it.  So I had friends over for breakfast instead of indulging in a cake. :) It was a great choice and it was tons of fun!

I have had plenty of opportunities to surrender to food in the past 38 days. It has been all kinds of hard and at times torture. But this morning the scale gave me a great big congratulatory fist pump and shouted "IT WAS WORTH IT!" (Wouldn't it be awesome if scales actually did that!?) In 38 days I am down 8 pounds and the only thing that changed is that I stopped surrendering to food.


But clothes fitting better...
Feeling better about myself...
Eating what is healthy...
Not feeling bloated all the time...
Taking control of food...

All of it has been worth the struggle!

This weekend concludes our birthday marathon as we celebrate Mike's birthday. I will continue on with my NO SURRENDER spree!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The P. Family

I recently got to photograph a wonderful family we know from church. I like this family. :)

We got a later start than I wanted because I was at a conference all day long. Then they were about 15 minutes late (it's tough getting four people ready for pictures!) and well... we were running out of light fast... and the kids were exhausted. Poor Addison just yawned the whole time. (It was pretty cute!) Thankfully the kids were cooperative and we were able to get everything in in one hour... including a walk to the spot I like to use!

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Grace Unplugged Book Review and Giveaway

 "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I was given two books to review and I also have a copy of both books to give away to ONE lucky winner. I will start with all the stuff I have to post and below that you can find my thoughts about the books and giveaway information.
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About Grace Unplugged the Novel
Grace Trey is an 18 year old singer as passionate about her Christian faith as she is her phenomenal, God-given musical talent. Both traits come from her father, one hit wonder Johnny Trey who found Jesus after losing his chart success two decades ago. 

When Grace encounters her own music break of a lifetime, the sudden dive into the "real world" puts her deeper beliefs to the test. Pop superstardom is just within reach but appears to require some spiritual compromise. Will Grace reject her faith, or will she own it? 

Grace Unplugged is based on the motion picture of the same name starring AJ Michalka (Super 8) and Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men) with performances by award-winning artists Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace. 

About the Grace Unplugged Author
Melody Carlson has sold more than five million books. A professional writer for twenty years, she recently received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Melody has two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.

Grace Unplugged
Written by: Melody Carlson
Publisher: B&H Books
Paperback: 304 pages 
Release Date: September 1, 2013

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About Own It, Discover Your Faith in God
The movie Grace Unplugged tells the story of Grace Trey, an ideal Christian teenager who is also a phenomenal singer. But when she is pushed into the “real world” at the tender age of eighteen after getting the music break of a lifetime, her faith is put to the test.
Own It mirrors the film by asking what it means to really “own” your personal faith rather than just automatically following in the footsteps of parents, friends, or other influencers. Best-selling authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco help readers understand what to do when faith meets real world challenges.

Without solid beliefs, poor choices are likely to follow. You must take the time to really know who you are, who you are becoming, and who God made you to be. It's your personal faith . . . own it!

About the Own It Authors
Hayley DiMarco is the best-selling author of more than thirty books including Dateable, Marriable, Mean Girls, and The Woman of Mystery. She has been a featured speaker at Women of Faith, Precept National Women's Conference, and MOPS Intl. among others and has consulted on the creation and enhancement of some of the largest stadium events for teens and young women in North America.
Michael DiMarco is a skillled communicator and teacher who has authored more than a dozen bestselling books including the 2010 Christian Bookof the Year for Youth, B4UD8 (Before You Date). He and his wife, author Hayley DiMarco, have one daughter and live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Own ItWritten by: Hayley and Michael DiMarco
Publisher: B&H Publishing
Paperback: 192 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2013

 My Thoughts...
Grace Unplugged was a really good story. It took me a few pages to not be annoyed with the way the girl acted... but then I remembered this is a young adult novel and the girl was a teenager and that IS how teenagers act. (In fact, I just sat at Panera this evening and listened to a teenage girl acting quite similar with her parents.) I thought it was a realistic story of what happens when teenagers think they know more than their parents and parents try to over-protect their children. It's a story that I could imagine actually happening. It's a story about God's grace, surrender and learning to own your own faith.

You can find more info on Grace Unplugged in the links below. You can also check out the movie trailer! The Grace Unplugged movie will be released on October 4th!

 Stay Connected
Grace Unplugged Movie Facebook:
Grace Unpluggled Movie Twitter: @GraceMovie
Grace Unplugged Website:
B&H Facebook:
B&H Twitter: @BHpub
And remember to check out the Grace Unplugged movie trailer.

Own It is a book I would recommend for teenagers or people who are new to Christianity. It discusses plenty of topics that will make readers process whether or not they have surrendered every area of their life to God and challenge them  to truly own their faith. Whether you are new to Christianity or if you grew up in a Christian home this book is for you.

Giveaway Info
ONE person will win BOTH books. To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment. You can tell me a funny joke if you want because my kids are always looking for new ones... but you don't have to do that. You can just write "I want to win!" Winner will be chosen on Friday, October 4 and contacted by email. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Oh my.
Somehow my baby girl has already turned SEVEN!! Where does the time goooo!?!?

Her birthday was on Sunday and we had some family over for cake and ice cream... and presents. What's a birthday without presents??

Liza was just loving all the attention. 

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She's just SO GIRLY! She certainly didn't learn it from me... but SHE is teaching me to embrace the girly side of life.

And when everyone sang happy birthday she just soaked it in. The attention. The love. She has no problem being the center of attention. 

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Liza is such a fascinating little thing. I just love her to pieces! This next picture... she was eleven months old... fully walking... at the beach in Florida running toward the water with no fear at all.


It was a very telling moment of who she is at her core. Liza is determined and fearless. She wants to learn how to do things for herself. She will talk to anyone and go anywhere. If she wants to try something, she does. She is motivated and daring. A risk-taker.

But she is also kind and caring. Loving. Sweet and silly. Feminine. Smart. And she loves Jesus.

She is my Liza and life without her would be so dull.

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Friday, September 20, 2013


I decided a while ago that I am taking a year off from recurring commitments. I'm leaving my days open to spend as I see fit for myself. I'm resting.

And it. is. WONDERFUL!

I needed this rest.

I wouldn't say that I was already a burnout... but I was definitely weighted down by a lot of things happening in my life. I'm not superwoman. I can't do everything at once. And so I didn't even try.

I stripped away the things that I could.
I simplified my life.
I got down to the basics.

And now I can truly focus on the few things that really do need my focus at this time. What is it that really needs my focus? Relationships.

My relationship with God.
My relationship with my family.
My relationships with others.

I'm resting... and waiting on God for direction. 
And during this time I am finding that I am being refreshed.

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

If you need rest... STOP! Stop and get that rest. We are much more effective in every area of our lives when we take care of our own needs. It's not selfish to take care of me. It's necessary.

We don't need to feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. 

Rest is goood.
And being refreshed? It feels amazing!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Summer Snapshots... FUN!

This summer Liza and Jason were gifted what is a large amount of money for a five and six year old. They used some of it to buy themselves scooters.

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They also discovered the joy of playing in the rain!!

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(Just realized that Jason is totally ripped!)

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Walk In Darkness When You Can Walk In the Light?

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Liza has been waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom lately. Probably has something to do with her drinking most of her water in the evening now instead of the morning because of school. Anyways... it's kind of comical.

The first night I heard her little feet walking through the hallway. The bathroom light switched on and she took care of business. She flushed and washed her hands and turned out the light before returning to her room. Except she had a little bit of trouble finding her room. It went something like this...

light off
light back on
light back off
"oh man"
door banging on wall
"Wait! Where am I? This isn't my room!"
back to the bathroom and light back on

I laid in bed laughing in my half asleep state.
Mike got up to help her find her room.

Last night she woke up again. When she was ready to head back to her room...

light off
light back on
light off
light back on
door closes
Liza runs to her room with the bit of light that shows from the cracks.

Smart girl. She figured out a way to have light in the darkness.

And what a good reminder to us that we can also have light in the darkness!

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Amen! We don't have to walk in darkness. God's word is a light to us. It shows us the way. We don't have to walk around making guesses hoping we "made it to the right room".  We can have light on our path.

AND! We also get to let our light shine so that others can find the way.

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Don't hide your light.

When Liza woke up in the middle of the night she was in a familiar place. She walks that space several times a day in the light and has no problem. But when it was dark she got confused and lost and couldn't find her way... so she kept running back to the light. 

There is someone out there that needs YOU to be light. They need you to show them the way to Jesus.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Bash and the Pirate Pig Book Review and Giveaway

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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When I was given the opportunity to review this book I couldn't pass it up. The title alone had me curious and I figured it would be a good book to read with the kids. Needless to say they loved the quirky characters and their adventures. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and Liza and Jason were constantly begging me to read more of the story.

I enjoyed how the story kept things about God so simple. Sometimes as adults we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be but Bash refers to the Bible as the Farmin' and Fishin' Book and when they get lost Bash simply says "we need to ask for directions" and stops to ask God to show them the way. It's a great reminder to just trust God.

My kids are 5 and almost 7 and while they enjoyed the book I think the perfect age would be ten year old boys. What a great book to inspire kids to get outside and enjoy adventure instead of spending their days inside in front of the tv!

The only thing that would have made the book better for me would have been a few less uses of the words "stupid" and "idiot".

The stuff I have to tell you...

About Bash and the Pirate Pig 
Bash and the Pirate Pig, by Burton Cole, is the story of a cranky city kid named Raymond "Beamer" Boxby who must spend summer vacation at his younger cousin, Bash's, farm. 
Beamer prefers air conditioning and video games. He can't see what good can come of this so-called country fun that includes riding cows, river rafting with a pig, or playing with skunks. 

But hang tight, Beamer, because Bash's zany adventures with his "Fishin' and Farmin' book" (The Bible) just might lead to the coolest discovery of all. 

About the Author
Burton Cole is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist with thirty years of experience and more than fifty humor writing awards to his credit. He grew up on a farm in northeast Ohio and attended a small-town church with a slew of cousins and buddies. That same boyhood inspires his colorful stories today. 

About the Illustrator 
Tom Bancroft has more than twenty years of experience in the animation and illustration industry and worked with Disney on films including Beauty and the BeastThe Lion King, and Aladdin. Other clients have included DC Comics and Big Idea Productions. 

Bash and the Pirate Pig 
Written by: Burton Cole 
Illustrated by: Tom Bancroft
Publisher: B&H Kids
Hardcover: 224 pages 

Stay Connected
           B&H Kids Facebook:
           B&H Publishing Twitter: @BHKidsBuzz

And now for the fun stuff!! One of you can win a copy of this book!  All you have to do is a leave a comment telling me about something fun you did this summer. Giveaway will remain open until Wednesday, September 25, and winner will be contacted by email.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lauren and Andy ~ Engaged!

Andy is my cousin and his fiance is BEAUTIFUL! I've met her twice now... when meeting about photographing their wedding next summer and then to do engagement pictures. I like her already!

The day came to do their photos and the forecast said rain at the time we had set to do the shoot. I asked if they could start a little earlier in hopes of beating the rain and we moved the time up. Just as I was leaving to meet them it started raining. The rain didn't last long but the darkness kind of lingered. I knew it would be really hard to reschedule them so we just went for it and hoped the rain would stay away.

Well not only did the rain stay away... by the time we were wrapping up the session the sun came out and it was beautiful. And guess what... that was right about the time we had originally planned to start. I guess it was a day where I was destined to lose with the weather.

BUT I did not lose in the photography department that day. :) Here are some of my favorites from my time with Lauren and Andy...

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