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My Life Monday | Summertime Fun

Hello to another Monday and almost to August!  It’s just now starting to really feel like summer…and like we’ve finally been able to enjoy it.  So, it’s a bummer to realize that soon the kids will be back in school.  Although, those in Bismarck get a break until after Labor Day weekend.  I’m still not sure where I stand on that.  It’s nice to get out earlier but on the flip-side, August is obviously more summer-like than the last weeks of May and into June.  So, when would you rather be outside?  Probably August, right?  I’d be torn on how to vote for that one, I think, should the opportunity ever arise.

Anyway, we had a great past week as my husband took some vacation time.  I actually worked some, while he had the kids with him.  It was one afternoon, but one afternoon of pure bliss;  no interruptions, just me and my editing software.  I didn’t even listen to music while I worked!

One of the days this past week we took the kids to Aberdeen, which is something we try to do every year – hit the water park and maybe Storybook Land.  We usually stay a night in a hotel, maybe do some bowling too.  This year we just went down for the day.  We got all the school supply shopping done and spent all of the rest of the day at the water park.  It was so nice this year because two years ago, when we went, Jozlyn was only 3 and Xavier was the only one tall enough for the big slides.  This year, he was still the only one tall enough for the big slides.  You have to be 48″ and Alexandra didn’t quite make it, despite her efforts of drinking extra milk the week leading up to going.  lol!  Maybe next year but I’m thinking it will be two for her.  And Jozlyn….well, she’s a little squirt so we’re probably looking at another 4 years at the rate she’s going! ha!

It was a blast though and Jozlyn was conked out not far out of town.  The first set of images are pre-water park opening, just playing in the park.


And it’s so inexpensive to go too!  I get asked if it’s better than Raging Rivers in Bismarck, but I can’t say as I’ve never been to Raging Rivers, but I can say that it’s cheaper entrance fee.  You pay for all day, stay as long as you want and there is something there for all ages.  There’s a sand playground area too, right there, with outside showers.  It’s just relaxing, as a parent too because there are lifeguards EVERYWHERE.  You just feel more at ease as a parent.  They are constantly blowing their whistles too – no horseplay allowed, which is great too!  There is also a separate huge pool as well with a high and low dive and more slides as well.  I just can’t recommend it enough!  If you go, take a padlock – they have outdoor lockers free to use! Read all about the aquatic center HERE!

Aberdeen Aquatic Center aberdeen, Sd water park

This is a latest image from an evening run last week.  This was the night I ran 6 miles.  I had never ran that far in my life, ever.  I never planned to this night either.  I started out feeling pretty good, made my way out of town, thought “I’ll go three miles, then I’ll have no choice but to go three miles back.”  The additional thought came to mind “well hey, I would have ran my own 10K.  I had talked about doing a 10K with some friends coming up soon….why not?!”  So, all this was going through my mind as I was running and as you can see, not something I planned to do even at the start of my run…probably not until a mile in.  I knew my shoes aren’t the best, but I was feeling good, the weather was great, the wind was calm….why not?!  About the third mile, the sun was starting to go down and I knew I needed to turn around or I would be stuck in the dark.  At that moment, I only had about 10% left on my phone.  Immediately after (and I mean immediately after) I saved the workout, my phone died.  I guess 6 miles was meant to be that night.

I’ve been asked why I run.  I run because I can.  Honestly, it started out a year ago as a challenge from a friend to do a 5K…just for fun (thanks Jen).  I hadn’t ran in many years and even back then I wouldn’t have called myself a runner.  I would have rather gone to the gym and sweat it out doing cardio and weights for two hours than run for even 15 minutes.  But as I’ve gotten older and (spiritually and mentally) matured, I have found running to be my favorite “adult me” workout.  It’s my time of uninterrupted peace and is a reminder of what my body can still accomplish. I run because I am blessed with two legs and two feet to take me one step at a time.  Each and every time I run (genuine truth here), I am reminded of all those veterans who lost a part of themselves while at war and the many who now walk/run with prosthetic legs.  I run for my health and to help me keep up with all these young seniors and families and kiddos I photograph, while schlepping my gear.  I run because of all the workouts I’ve tried and done over the years, it’s the one and only thing that shapes the two areas (many) women struggle with the most – thighs and butt.  I run because it gets me out early, to start my day with a sunrise, or end my day with a sunset….it fills my heart every time.  Nowadays, a beautiful, calm morning/evening is not only perfect photo session weather but also perfect running weather too.

I believe that any otherwise healthy human being can be a runner too.  You just gotta start.  And starting is always the hardest part.  But boy, watch out when you start getting going!  Nothing can stop you…but maybe hungry mountain lions….yeah, those might stop you.  Speaking of which, I should probably start carrying some mace on me while running on country roads! lol!  Need some motivation or an accountability partner?  I’m here for you.

Enjoy your week.  I plan to get a few runs in…how about you?  Even walking is a start, not to mention good for your bones and your heart!  And I know some speed walkers who kill it on a weekly basis on the app MapMyRun.  Do it for you.  What do you have to lose but your ass, right? :D lol!

*Disclaimer:  You should probably get clearance from a medical doctor before starting any workout regimen, including but not limited to speed-walking or running.*  Just had to throw that in there!

Blessings to you and yours this week! :)

nd sunset

My Life Monday | Hold on Tightly

I took this photo the other morning at the start of my run, so this is an iPhone photo…which makes me sad as the dpi/ppi is not suitable for print [insert sad trombone].

Today, I just want to talk about something that has really come to light in my life, and specifically, as of late.  What I want to talk about is unconditional love.  And the quote on the image is what triggered my thoughts I’m about to share with you.

What is unconditional love?

According to Wikipedia it is this:

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations. It can be also love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism, complete love, or “mother’s/father’s love.” Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging. It is a concept in ones mind comparable to true love, a term which is more frequently used to describe love between lovers. By contrast, unconditional love is frequently used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships. An example of this is a parent’s love for their child; no matter a test score, a life changing decision, an argument, or a strong belief, the amount of love that remains between this bond is seen as unchanging and unconditional.

In religion, unconditional love is thought to be part of  The Four Loves; affection, friendship, romance, and unconditional.[1] In ethology, or the study of animal behavior, unconditional love would refer to altruism which in turn refers to the behavior by individuals that increases the fitness of another while decreasing the fitness of the individual committing the act. In psychology, unconditional love refers to a state of mind in which one has the goal of increasing the welfare of another, despite any evidence of benefit for oneself. The term is also widely used in family and couples counseling manuals.

foggy ND sunrise

Look at the relationships in your life….are there ways you could improve on the concept of “unconditional love?”  I know we all falter at times.  We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, however.

Maybe it’s easier to identify if we’re guilty of conditional love, if we look at the opposite meaning of unconditional love.

According to Wikipedia, conditional love is described as such:

Some authors make a distinction between unconditional love and conditional love. In conditional love: love is ‘earned’ on the basis of conscious or unconscious conditions being met by the lover, whereas in unconditional love, love is “given freely” to the loved one “no matter what”. Loving is primary. Conditional love requires some kind of finite exchange, whereas unconditional love is seen as infinite and measureless. Unconditional love should not be mistaken with unconditional dedication: unconditional dedication or “duty” refers to an act of the will irrespective of feelings (e.g. a person may consider they have a duty to stay with someone); unconditional love is an act of the feelings irrespective of will.

Unconditional love separates the individual from her or his behaviors. However, the individual may exhibit behaviors that are unacceptable in a particular situation. To begin with a simple example: one acquires a puppy. The puppy is cute, playful, and the owner’s heart swells with love for this new family member. Then the puppy urinates on the floor. The owner does not stop loving the puppy, but needs to modify the behavior through training and education.

I think we all have experienced conditional love at some point in our lives.  It can be a painful realization.  So, what do you do about it?  Well, what I have tried to do – and that is stay close to anything [and anyone] that makes me glad to be alive.  I like this quote too:  “If you can’t change the situation, change how you feel about it.”  <—-that’s been a hard one.  The point is, if people shut you out of their life [or place conditions on their love], that is beyond your control.  And it says a whole lot more about them than it does about you.  So, again….stay close to anything [and anyone] that makes you glad you are alive.  Because chances are, when you do that, you have unconditional love from the other side.  And what a wonderful gift it is.

Thank someone today, for loving you no matter what.

What a gift you have been given.  Hold on tightly.

“Be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowances for each

other’s faults because of your love.”

 Ephesians 4:2 

My Life Monday | A hodge-podge re-cap of June

Consider this blog post just as the post is titled:  a hodge-podge!  Where the heck did June go?  Anyone else feel that way?  It has been go-go-go this month and I can’t say I’m sorry to see it, well….go.  Swimming lessons are scheduled for July and we have a little family vacation mingled in with a long-time friend’s wedding to attend and before we know it, July will be over as well.  Summer feels very short-lived this year.  And it hasn’t helped though, that it’s been either raining (which, really is a good thing as we don’t know how dry July will be) or incredibly windy.  It’s made camping and s’more season hit or miss.  We are probably the only people, along with some friends of ours, that actually hook up and go camping as it is raining out.  ha!  We always hold out hope though that the skies will clear.  And it has, but we’ve had some chilly, windy camping days – that’s for sure.  But, we have to go when we can or the camper would never get used.  And regardless of the weather, the kids love it.  Once harvest starts, we’ll pretty much be spending the rest of summer at home…..unless, of course, it rains.  ha!

It’s been a busy few weeks around here though, hence my absence from the blog.  I also recently got a terrible head and chest cold that is lingering onto week 2, day 2.  It’s the cold that never ends, I swear.  Why do summer colds seem so much worse?

The kids will have their final t-ball/coach-pitch game tomorrow night so that will soon come to a close.  I’ve had several sessions this month as well and look forward to blogging those sessions in the next few weeks.  All in all, I’m so thankful we have all that there is to do around here.  Between the swimming lessons, t-ball/coach-pitch, basketball camps, etc….it all takes time to work into a family schedule but I wouldn’t change it.  Summers are suppose to be crazy-busy-fun, right?  Right?  Just gotta savor the sunsets.  The plus of this summer thus far, are the peaceful nights (when we do have them) without the critters.  Mosquitoes haven’t been bad at all yet.  The cooler weather has also been nice for working in the garden.  It took me two and half hours of weeding one night because all I can apparently grow (really well) are weeds. :/  If someone would invent something that eliminated garden weeds without harming the fruit/veggie plants, you’d be one rich billionaire!  Weeds are my nemesis.  I can’t think of any other one thing that I would hire someone to do…okay, I take that back – cooking…I’d so hire that out too.  Where’s that doggone wife when you need her?  I could use one of those!  I’ve been working on my husband the last few years though to make me a raised garden bed.  I’ve convinced myself that a raised bed is the way to go;  greatly reducing the overtaking of weeds.  We had one several years ago and it was seriously the best thing ever – hardly any weeding required.  Maybe one of these years I’ll get one.

Here are a few pictures to re-cap some of our June.  Leaving a t-ball game one night, Jozlyn decided to spin the merry-go-round and not paying attention (cuz that never happens), got clocked in the eye by the handle bar.  We also celebrated Tony’s 35th birthday yesterday!  We actually celebrated all weekend by going camping (in the rain) and even decorated the camper for the ocassion. We had cake with some family early though….look at all that smoke!  Sheesh!  I almost didn’t have room for all 35 on his cake!  The day I’ll be sad about getting older is when I’ll require three boxes of candles.  And that will be here before I realize it!  Boo!   In other news, Jozlyn is now riding bike on two wheels.  And if you’re reading this and you’ve ran into us, she’s probably already told you that.  She tells everyone we run into:  “I can ride on two wheels now!” Alexandra beat Xavier’s contest of  “the first one to lose a baby tooth” this weekend.  She was so excited to find her $1 on the floor this morning.  Immediately, Tony looks at me and asks “why didn’t you put it under her pillow?”  To that I replied: “because I’m trying to get tooth fairy unemployment benefits.”  Seriously, why would I NOT put it under her pillow!  Drrrr….we are such a loving, sarcastic home. lol! ;)

my life monday

I wanted to share this image I captured on the blog.  I’ve shared it on Instagram and on Facebook, but it’s an image that I’m so grateful I captured.  I can’t think of a more beautiful silhouette image (other than of my kids).  I absolutely love our hometown church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  It is the church in which we were married, and one that people come from all over to see.

On this night, after a storm, I was just about to go to bed when I looked from our living room and saw the kitchen and entry were just filled with this intense, gorgeous light.  I looked out the window and couldn’t believe my eyes.  I’ve just never seen a sunset like it and likely never will again.  The clouds were perfect, filling the sky with all this light – soaking it all in.  It didn’t take long, after taking this image, for the clouds to break apart and this sunset to be gone forever.  I want to do something special with this image, I’m just not sure what.  I’ve considered offering prints, with the proceeds going to charity.  A few ideas have come to mind…I’m just not sure.  Please share any suggestions and thank you to those who have taken the time to “like” or comment on this image on other social media.  I really appreciate it.  God sure provides some beautiful.  (P.S. For anyone wondering – very little editing was done to this image.  I darkened areas of the church, removed some image noise, sharpened, and that’s about it.)

Hague catholic Church at sunset

And I want to say HAPPY FIRST ANNIVERSARY to Mr. & Mrs. Steven Sauter, who celebrated one year yesterday.  How fast that year went!!  Thank you again for having me be a part of your day.  :)

2013-07-02_0008 St. Mary's Catholic Church, Bismarck, ND bridal portrait at the Bismarck Capitol building

Finally….just a few images to share from recent sessions with the best clients!  I truly get to meet and work with the best down-to-earth people!  Just my kinda-peeps! :D

extended family session extended family anniversary session ND senior photographer ND family photographer

Phew!  If you’re still with me, thank you for scrolling down! :)

I hope this Monday’s post made you chuckle, made you smile, or just plain  made you forget about anything negative about your day.

My wish for you is that your week is joyful, your spirit light, and your mood infectious….in a good way.  I’ll take that advice myself…my mother is coming to visit.  LOL!!  If you weren’t laughing before I bet you are now! ha!

Thanks for reading!

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of it for another.”
- Charles Dickens

My Life Monday | Forget the Worry

Most of the time, these “My Life Monday” posts are about me sharing what’s been going on in my life the past week.  However, I think there’s a lot more good that could come out of my posts than what new dish I’ve tried or what parenting technique has absolutely flopped.  I’m pretty transparent and what you read is generally how I talk, minus the swear words because I tend to cuss like a sailor and I don’t think I need to cuss when I’m talking about freaking chicken or my crabby-ass kids.  lol!

Anyway, I tend to think a lot and often too much.  I read into things, analyze, pick apart, and try to see things from various angles before coming to my own conclusion.

Like you, I have worries, concerns, what-to-do’s, what-not-to-do’s, and some things cause me to lose sleep at night.  I’m sure you’ve experienced that too from time to time.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced growing pains, periods of self-doubt, and overall just a poor mentality at times.  I’ve learned that, no matter what, I hold the cards of my life, and more importantly, my attitude.  And like everyone, I just want to be happy.

So, how does one get happy?  How do you pursue happiness?  Well, I’m still working on what happiness looks like for me and my vision of what that entails has changed over the years.

Something I read today though, has prompted me with the desire to write.  It was the following:

Quote about worry

I wanted to share this quote with you in this week’s post because 1.  it’s what was on my mind and 2.  maybe it’s just what you needed to read right now.

Every person you meet, talk to, run into, etc., has something they are struggling with, going through, maybe even just that day, maybe it’s something they just can’t seem to get past and push through.  You just never know the struggles of another, unless you ask.  So, take an inventory of your relationships.  When was the last time you had someone you really felt you could talk to.  When was the last time you gave someone your time to really allow them to open up to you.

If we all continue on this path and each of us continue to worry alone, I don’t event want to know what kind of world it will be when my kids are older.  It is only when we can release our burdens in some way, whether through prayer, to a friend, journaling, exercise, what have you…do we truly really find happiness.  Because how on earth can you be happy when your mind is constantly filled with worry?  You just don’t need it.

Leave your worry behind.  And if you need to phone-a-friend, I’m here. :)

On another note more like my previous MLM posts, I got to spend this last Saturday morning with a cute little one-year-old and sneak peeks to come soon of that.  And this coming weekend, it’s a wonderful celebratory extended family session.  The weather is suppose to be beautiful!  I can’t wait!  Oh, and a family wedding is also this coming weekend so I suppose I best get my dancing shoes ready! :)  We also have some t-ball games this week.  So, it’s a busy week around here.

I hope you found some encouragement in this post today….and maybe a freaking chuckle or two.  Make it an awesome week, everyone! :)

My Life Monday | Meet our Furbaby

I’d like to officially introduce you to “Gizmo.”  He’s our new furbaby as of a week ago this past Sunday.  He’s a whopping 3 pounds 6 ounces.  His parents were both 9 pounds.  I’ve read you quadruple their weight at 8 weeks and that’s a pretty good indicator at full size weight, so that would make him to be 10 pounds fully grown.  Havanese vary greatly in weight and colors.  But they are considered a toy breed, with reaching 11 1/2 inches height or so (mid-calf on me), on average.

havanese puppy

Oh  my gosh, talk about cuteness overload though!  I can’t stand it!  My husband wishes he would stay this small.  However, like all of God’s newborn creatures, they do grow up.  There is a pretty good chance he will turn mostly white, as both of his parents are pretty much all white.  But, I sure hope he keeps his copper-colored ears.  :)

Mr. Gizmo, as of today, is a 9 week old havanese.  The havanese originated in Spain, where they were then brought by their wealthy owners to Cuba.  Only later were 11 havanese brought by ship to the U.S. by their wealthy owners.  This breed was bred as companion dogs only.  Barbara Walter’s has one, and I think there was a former president who had one as well, although not sure anymore who.  The fact this is not a “working” breed is what was appealing, as those traits/characteristics that are common with “working” breeds, simply don’t exist with the havanese.  For example, various terrier breeds being rodent catchers or the border collie’s being cattle dogs.  This breed mostly just wants to give love and be loved.  So much so, they can become “velcro” dogs if not properly socialized or taught to self-entertain from puppy-hood.

I’ve already noticed our Gizmo does much better at meeting other children than he does other adults.  Although, he does quickly warm up to strangers.  I just really don’t have a lot of negative things to say about our experience from week one.  After three nights, he will sleep through the night, although, last night I did get up in the middle of the night to take him out despite him not whining and he did go (paperwork included, if you know what I mean – lol!).  He’s just so considerate of my beauty sleep, I guess. ;)  But, I think at his young age, it’s likely torture to have to hold it too.  So, I’m thinking I’ll just continue to get up but slowly work up to lengthening the time.

He’s so darn smart.  He’s learned to sit, lay down, roll over, peek-a-boo, give five, come, go potty, and leave it.  Although, it is harder for him to follow commands when there are distractions, which I’m hoping will change with maturity.  We work on training a few times daily with kibble treats, sometimes mozzarella cheese, and lots of praise.

So, this is what has kept me pretty quiet on social media.  I’ve been more productive inside and outside housework-wise, but haven’t had a lot of time on social media.  We’ve started to settle into a routine though and I’m finding it’s not as exhausting as I thought it would be.  We had tried the adult rescue dog thing before as going with a puppy, at that time, seemed very overwhelming.  Although, I have invested a lot of time this past week, it’s been paying off.  I know that it is up to me to set Gizmo up for success and help him become a well-mannered part of the family and a joy for others to be around….one day at a time.

Flea & Tick Prevention Tip

I will share something I’ve learned in this very short week, as flea and tick season is upon us and I know a lot of pet owners.  I had read a lot on prevention and had ultimately decided to go with Frontline spray.  I put it on him the other night before bed and he immediately flipped out.  It was as if his skin was crawling…the way he was rolling around, jumping…seeming to be very irritable.  The next morning he seemed very tired too, so I’m not sure how much sleep he really got.  So, I decided that I wasn’t going to use it anymore and looked online for alternatives.  And I found one – coconut oil, of all things!

I have the organic, extra virgin kind which can be found at Wal-Mart.  I use it in baking/cooking.  For the furbaby in your life though,  take a little in your palm, rub your hands together to melt it down and then rub your pooch’s (or kitty’s) coat;  also getting the legs and under-body as well.  You can also feed it in their food or orally and the guide for that is 1 tsp. per 10 pounds or 1 tbsp per 20 pounds or more.  I just give a pea-size amount, if that.  Not only have I read about the benefits for flea and tick prevention, but also for treatment for various skin conditions or even lesions.

Not long ago my mother-in-law became the adopted mother of a kitten that was all alone under her porch.  There were several ticks found on her, she was malnourished, and meowing like crazy from hunger.  A few days of some food, and two days with coconut oil on her and not a single tick since.  So, I really believe what I read that it does work!  Try it for yourself and let me know your results! :)

Well, I hope you found that tip helpful and I will definitely share any pet tips/tricks I read about, try, and hear along the way of our pooch experience.  If you know of any, I would love to hear your thoughts/tips/suggestions as well!

Thank you so much reading and tomorrow my monthly e-news will be coming out!  Tomorrow the kids have a 4-H activity too; planting flowers at the Strasburg Care Center!  Hopefully we have good weather!  This month is also t-ball, 3 on 3 basketball for Xavier, some senior guy sessions, a family session, and a kiddo session, and before I know it it will be July.  Phew!  This summer is going to fly…I can see that already!  Enjoy some fun in the sun while you can!! :)

My Life Monday | Making memories this Memorial Day weekend

First, if you’re reading this and are serving or have served in the military, THANK YOU for your service.  Below, is a picture of my personal hero, my dad, taken while in Vietnam.  So grateful for the very few photos I have of him;  especially ones like these before cancer.

I learned something new today – on Memorial Day you are suppose to fly your flag at half staff from sunrise and only until Noon.  Interesting…..now you know for next year!

Vietnam vet

We had a busy week last week.  I had cracked open a can of exterior paint to paint three new steps on our deck but ended up painting the entire deck.  It was perfect conditions for painting outdoors.  Also, painting with white paint on an already white deck with it being a mostly overcast day, sure beat painting last year in mid-summer on a hot, sunny day!  Talk about a headache!  It’s like staring at a white sheet of paper reflecting the sun right back in your face for several hours.  I don’t recommend it!  lol!

Our boy, Xavier also turned 9 on Saturday.  I can’t believe it.  One more year and he’s double-digits.  Remember when that was such a big deal when you were a kid?  Well, it was when I was a kid.  lol!  He was disappointed when I told him he can make his own oatmeal from now on.  I said “You’re 9 now;  you only have 9 more years to learn how to cook.”  So, I’m probably not the most qualified to give lessons in the kitchen, but in all honesty, I could at least make mac-n-cheese by age 10.  lol!  The boy has got to learn, right?

Backtracking to the Thursday before his birthday, he had invited the boys in his class for his birthday.  I was having fun making water balloons and making up games.  They all seemed to enjoy it, anyway! Nearly every year I had mentioned the kids should bring their water fun gear.  Never before were they actually able to use it.  So, the one year I don’t, it was perfect water fun weather.  BUT, it was also NOT his birthday!  So, from now on, his birthday party will be either shortly before or after his birthday.  And sure enough, on his birthday it did rain.  It didn’t amount to much, but during the time I would have had his party it sure rained.  I’m sure that kid was born with a rain cloud over his head as I’m pretty certain it rained on the day he was born too.  lol!  Ah well, rain is good luck, so they say!  ha!

water fun in the sun

Birthday celebration with Xavier’s favorite kind of birthday cake – rainbow layered Angel food made by his dad.  Tony had to brag so guess what he gets to do make for every single birthday to follow??!!  lol!

IMG_2587 IMG_2596



Before I had all the kids come, I wanted to get the deck done – which I did, and I wanted to get the lawn mowed, which I did, and I figured I better get the garden planted or else we’ll never have one.  I just have to be in the mood for most things like that – the things that are time-consuming.  I don’t mind mowing though.

Anyway, rambling on and getting nowhere…….

It was just a wonderful week of productivity, fun with the kids during the party, and we joined family camping over the weekend too.  We came home and celebrated Xavier’s birthday as a family with Tony and yesterday I picked up a new member of the family….an 8 week old Havanese pup.  Go ahead – call me crazy! lol!  This pup was a couple months in the making.  I heed and hawed over it…went over the pros and cons, and was settled on a shnoodle breed when the stars just didn’t line up to get one of those.  When, one day, I came across the Havanese, just really fell in love with the breed itself after all I read, watched on YouTube, and researched, and ended up finding one available within 3 weeks.  It was a bit of a drive to get him but I’m pretty happy (so far on only day 2) with the one I picked.  I seriously even researched on what to look for when choosing a puppy – personality and health-wise.  I think he kind of picked me too though.  I wanted to get one as soon as possible before school starts up again, so that by the time the kids are busy with school stuff, the pooch will hopefully be housebroken and somewhat trained.  This breed has been known to be circus performers and they were bred for companionship only – not as “working” dogs.  So, I’m very excited to see how well trained he can become.  And I realize that is all dependent on me and the time I put into training.  But a well-behaved, friendly, loving, lifetime family companion for our family will be worth it.  Although, I’m not saying  I may not lose a little hair along the way. ;)  We had tried two rescue dogs in the past and neither of those worked out for us….and to no fault of the dogs entirely. The first one was terrible timing and hadn’t really been socialized with kids (which became apparent rather quickly).  The other was scared of Tony…she saw or heard him, she piddled right where she was.  So, the moral of the story – if you want to add a pooch to your family, I would just recommend doing your research on breeds, throw your expectations out the window if you’re looking for a rescue dog (and realize that if you have a family that may or may not be the best idea), and mentally prepare yourself for the hurdles.  I *think* I’m prepared, but you can only read so much.  But my husband said “just don’t screw this puppy up.”  But I agree with him, the pup doesn’t know any better.  So, here I go again….a different kind of newborn;  minus the diapers.  Wish me luck! lol!

One of our favorite camping spots – Beaver Bay State Park.  But something caused my ankles to swell up and little welts to appear on my feet, ankles, hands, and arms.  I have no idea what but never had that happen before!  I had never taken one of the trails down to the water before either so something didn’t agree with my skin along the way.

Beaver Bay State Park

Meet “Gizmo.” :)

Havanese pup

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial weekend and thank you, again, to all those who serve, have served, and ultimately gave their lives for ours.  And we can’t forget the veterans who struggle on a daily basis, where the life they once knew and had, will never be the same.  If you want to support an organization that is making things happen and that I personally love and support, please take a moment and check out “Wounded Warrior Project.”

My Life Monday on Tuesday | Summer Vacation Begins

Well hello there summer vacation!!!  Good thing I got myself an ample stash of duct-tape prior to school letting out!  Nah….it hasn’t been that bad yet.  But yesterday my youngest did end up in the corner for bullying her sister.  That girl is such a firecracker!

We’re still working into a routine of some kind.  Kids just got me all thrown off being home!  lol!  I was doing pretty well with meal planning for our evening meal but now with lunch, I just can’t rely on a fried egg or whatever is in the fridge for just Jozlyn and I.  So yesterday it was pancakes for lunch.  I think I need to start working on meal plans for lunch too.  Day one and two I was scrambling….not sure what to make.  And my kids won’t eat tuna fish or chicken salad or stuff like that either. :/  Darn picky kids.

Yesterday I had every intention of doing this blog post.  I went outside with the intention of just painting three steps and following that was going to come in and blog, when I ended up painting the whole doggone deck.  I love painting and yesterday was a perfect day to do just that.  I was on a roll, in a mood, and the conditions were right so I just went with it.

All morning Jozlyn was bugging and bugging for me to help her learn to ride bike without training wheels.  In the morning I was getting stuff done around the house and promised her after lunch.  So, after lunch but before painting we worked on that and I was pretty amazed at how well she did!  She needs to learn the handlebars and that the bike will go where she tells it but overall, I’m sure by the end of summer she’ll be a bike-riding pro.  (feel free to turn your volume down…my son decides to make a loud squeal with a blade of grass towards the end)

Back-pedaling a few days….I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable graduation weekend.  We ended up going out of town for a nieces birthday and also did some shopping.  As you can tell from the image, the kids were wiped (Xavier had just woken up) and Jozlyn really loves her new sandals – she had to wear them on her hands! lol!


Well, I hope everyone has a fun summer vacation.  I’ll still plan to blog weekly – although, may not always happen on Monday depending on what is going on.  The kids have activities planned for this summer:  tball/softball, 3 on 3 basketball, swimming lessons, and hopefully some camping trips in there.  Before we know it, it will be the start of another school year and my house will be a whole lot quieter after 8am.  Makes me sad just thinking about it.  I was rejoicing all of this past school year just thinking about all the peace and quiet I will have but the closer it gets, the more it makes me sad.  I just don’t have babies anymore.  I’m sure a lot of you moms and dads felt that over the weekend…..the time goes so, so fast.

Enjoy the joy and laughter that summer brings, everyone! :)

“The best gifts are tied with heartstrings.”


Tribute to the Class of 2014

A big weekend for a lot of young men and women…graduation is here!! I just want to say congratulations to all and particularly those whom I had the opportunity to get to know a little better and photograph!

You have no idea how fast the years will go. Enjoy every opportunity that comes your way. Learn something from every person you meet. And never forget where you came from because there will never be a place like home. Plus, your mom and dad want you to visit…or at least call! :P

Best wishes to all and thank you again, to those who chose me as your photographer. :)

Lane | ND HS Senior and Family Photographer

Lane is such a happy-go-lucky guy.  He was a bit shy at the beginning of the session, but after I found out his sweethearts’ name, I was able to break the ice, get some genuine smiles and laughs, and I’m not saying I didn’t have to bust out my best German accent to get them though.  Ha! Ha!

It was a bit chilly the day of the session, so much so, that once we wrapped things up, it started to snow.  His session was an adventure though – heading out to where his cows were grazing, finding some bales to use as his backdrop, and working with three pooches for some family pictures as well.

What I love about what I do is that every client brings something different to the table;  their own ideas, their individuality and hobbies, their dislikes, and even more so – their own hesitations and insecurities.  I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to bring out their very best;  what works for one does not work for all.

Lane is a guy that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.  At least, that’s I how I see him.  And I have to say that he has quite the role model in his mom.  From my perspective, anyone that runs their own business has got to have a backbone, has strong work ethic, and is not afraid to take risks.  I’m not saying that not having your own business doesn’t mean you don’t have those traits.  However, I will say that entrepreneurs are a different “breed” of people, in my opinion.  Unless you are one or know one, it’s hard to understand what I mean.  I would say most people I work with are entrepreneurs, as majority are farmers.  And as we all know, a lot goes into that.  And Lane can learn a lot from his mom.  Having his own cattle, I can see that he’s got a bit of the “entrepreneur bug” in him as well.

I say it all the time, but my clients teach me so much.  I just don’t know what else I could ever possibly do that would be as fulfilling.

Thank you, Lane and Claude, for sharing your day with me.  Too bad we never got the snow (when we needed it), in order to have the other portion of your session.

Lane – best of luck to you and all of your life’s endeavors.  When in doubt, listen to your mom;  she knows what she’s talking about. :)

ND family photographer ND senior photographer senior guy with hunting theme

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”

- Mark Twain





My Life Monday | It’s the final countdown…

Because I know you needed to get your ’80′s man-chick hair fix in this week’s My Life Monday……just a little Europe:  The Final Countdown for your Monday.  Because, soon…moms and pops….school is out.  Friday is our kids’ last day, in fact.  And this next fall, all three of mine will be in school.

And for some very excited graduating seniors, it is the final countdown!!

In my house, there’s a song for everything.  I should start a list, there are just that many we come up with on any given day.  For example, when the kids are being whiny because they want something, I’ll sometimes just bust out in song…”you can’t always get what you want…”  You know, the song by the Rolling Stones?! lol!  They HATE it.  Or a simple “you asked, I answered” sometimes is enough.  But they hate when we sing so that is our fun go-to thing to do.  ha!  Try it…there really is a song for a lot of things you likely say to your kids on a daily basis.  lol!  The joys of parenting! ;)

I can’t believe it really is the end of another school year.  This past Thursday I had to pick up Xavier from school.  He had been complaining of a headache all morning and after lunch he just couldn’t take it anymore.  I got him home, he quickly developed a fever, that increased, despite giving him liquid ibuprofen.  He was also complaining of lower back pain.  I scheduled an appt. because of the increasing fever but when I noticed a sudden swelling on one side of his neck, I took him in sooner.  Turned out he had a sinus infection, which within 24 hours, I believe, developed into strep as he started complaining of his throat hurting.  He did go to school the next day, after having 3 doses of antibiotic, but it just all came on so suddenly.  So, he will not have perfect attendance this year – and only a week shy.  Alexandra will though.  She didn’t have perfect attendance in kindergarten and Xavier had yet to make a whole year with perfect attendance.

I don’t know if it is a fluke or not, or an extreme coincidence, but I know a lot of people whose kids missed school for stomach bugs and such, which my kids never did (which has always been an issue in our house several times a year).  Starting this last fall I started making fruit and veggie smoothies.  Over winter we would have one nearly every night with our evening meal, when their dad was home.  Now that it has been getting busier at his work, we haven’t as often and sure enough – that’s when the “sicky bugs” pay a visit.  Alexandra is terrible for eating veggies and rarely will any of them eat a salad, so if they can get arugula, baby spinach, and romaine in a smoothie, maybe some carrots, with grapes, apple, banana, orange, maybe some honey, or whatever else I throw in there…than I feel much better about what they’re not eating on their plates or what a vitamin can’t provide.  It’s also made going to the bathroom easier for our youngest – she’s getting more raw fiber.  A commercial-grade blender was one of the best investments I made for our family last year.  And after one school season of seeing a difference, I feel even better about that investment.  My husband would have purchased 10 crap blenders before he would have spent what I did.  I just value quality a little more than he does. lol!

Well, I think that’s about it from my end.  How about you?  Mentally prepared for summer or not quite?  I’m so excited for all the seniors graduating, with whom I had the privilege of working with and getting to know.  I know I’ll be able to keep up with some of them on Instagram and Facebook, but I just remember how exciting it was for me when I graduated; seems like forever ago.  All the decisions they will be faced with and choices they will have to make….and each one will impact their life in some way.  Exciting, exhilarating, and a very overwhelming thought all at the same time.  Fortunately, at that age, you don’t think that way.  But you sure look back when you’re older.  And that kids, if you’re reading, is why your mama always knows best.  A little thing we call “wisdom.”

I want to add that I hope all the moms, moms-to-be, mom-figures…all had a wonderful Mother’s Day.  My kiddos shared little notes, I got a letter from Xavier, and picked me “flowers” (a.k.a. dandelions).  It’s the little things….. :)

And I’ll close with saying to all the moms, who are using their loving hands to prepare for one of the biggest days of their child’s life, give yourself a hug.  Take a moment to reflect on all that you have accomplished, as a mother, as a parent, as a confidant to your child.  You have laid the groundwork and the rest is up to them.  Be confident in knowing you did the best job you could possibly do, with what you knew and what you had.  I have years before I am in your shoes and I already nearly shed a tear thinking about the day when I am.  My thoughts are with you, parents, as you prepare to let go.  How hard it must be….or maybe not….maybe you’ll throw a shop party for all the parents?  In this part of the country, I have a sneaking suspicion that may not be out of the question. ;)

Thank you for reading and have a joyful week and safe graduation weekend.

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