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My Life Monday | Beets, Pickles, Pie – Oh My!

My husband must be worried….if, even slightly.  I’m turning into “Harriet, the Homemaker.”  No offense, of course, to all those out there named Harriet.  I happen to love the name;  however, I’m thinking my husband is thinking that I may have been abducted by aliens and brought back another woman.  Clearly, because baking (from scratch), canning, and making a new German dish….all in the same day, mind you – is not like me….at all.

When a  day like that comes around, I go full bore, as they’re pretty rare.  But, they have been more frequent, I must say.

We had a our local church Fall supper yesterday and as a member, I was to bring two pies.  I thought it would be an awesome idea to make my own pie crust.  I’ve never made my own pie crust.  Ever.  And not for one pie, but for three pies. One pie was the “trial pie,” so that if the crust was a total flop, I would then not take the other two and just buy two pies.

I used an old recipe I had gotten from my aunt Delores (age 87 and kicking as ever) and it really was easy to work with, once all mixed.  Once baked, I thought it tasted too much like Crisco, as did my husband.  However, now that it’s a couple days later, I think it’s actually pretty good.  The crust baked beautifully and I even made some fancy-shmancy designs prior to baking.  I did cheat on the filling though.   Next time, I’ll really impress the hubby and make a whole pie from scratch.  There are a lot of pie crust cheaters out there.  I know, I was one of them.  But when you just feel like having a little taste of “back in the day,” this is a perfect way to count your blessings for all of the conveniences we so take for granted.  Or, you could use your microwave….that would probably be easier.  lol!  The recipe?  I never thought you’d ask!

Perfect Pie Crust

Mix together:

5 cups flour

2 cups crisco

Add:

1 cup 7-up

1 tsp. salt

Makes about 6 single crusts.

perfect pie crust recipe

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! :)

In addition to the pies, I made an old recipe I came across just days before – honey cookies, courtesy of my grandmother, Bertha, who died when I was 8.  I didn’t remember eating these cookies until they actually came out of the oven.  The smell and how they looked, once baked, really took me back to my childhood.  Kinda like that Glade commercial whose marketing is spot-on, if you ask me.

They’re not sweet enough for my sweet-tooth husband or Alexandra though, saying “these would be perfect with chocolate chips.”   The rest of us like them and I know I will be making them again.  I have some new ideas I’m wanting to try in how I share information, so I do promise I will be sharing the recipe, just not today.  It’s kinda a “special” recipe to me. :)

Pies and cookies aside, I also did some canning.  I got several jars of regular pickles, bread & butter/refrigerator pickles, and also finally got my beet jelly made.  I will be sharing all of these recipes coming up, because, seriously – anyone can be canning.  I almost put “anyone can can” but that just sounds weird.  But really, if you can follow a recipe, you can can.  Okay, there I had to use it. :P  Aside from beet jelly, which, in my own admission, feels and is an all-day process, pickles are so easy.  The regular pickles are less involved than bread & butter, but still easy enough – just more steps.  I recently acquired some tomatoes and will be trying my hand at homemade tomato soup (if I find I have enough), or I may just make salsa – not sure yet.  I’ve never messed with tomatoes, so it will be a first.

So, there you have it – that’s what I’ve been up to.  I’ve also been working on a wedding album design from last year’s wedding of Steven & Crystal.  They’ve had a busy year, and I’m excited to get their album in their hands.  I surely could have chosen the images for them, but with my wedding clients I never did that.  Because, it is their album, not mine.

A lot cooking in the kitchen, figuratively and actually, and hopefully whatever you’ve been cooking up lately has also been bringing you joy.

And just because you and your girlfriends may be interested in, what I think, would be a great time and offer some great laughs…..if you do go, I want to hear how it was!  Since it’s a weekday – it’s not the easiest to get away for me.

Menopause The Musical

Happy cooking in the kitchen of life, my friends!

My Life Monday | Fall is Upon Us

A week into school and Labor Day weekend just around the corner; it’s that time of year when we start to say that Fall is upon us.  We slept with our windows open last night and it’s probably the best sleep I’ve had in several weeks.  Even Tony didn’t wake up, as he usually does, prior to his alarm.  The chill in the air today had the kids getting on the bus with pants and sweaters too. It’s a “brrrrrr….” kinda day today.  And it makes me think of Fall family sessions.  I’m starting to book in September, so if you’re thinking about a session, it’s never too early to book – especially if you’re needing a Saturday. :)

This past week just seemed to go so fast.  I thought my days went fast when it was Jozlyn and I and the other two were in school, but now it feels like noon gets here in no time and before I know it, kids are getting off the bus.  I am definitely getting more done, but I seem to make my lists longer now and it feels like I have so much left undone at the same time.

Since the kids have been in school, I have gone from not being involved with much outside of my kids and business to being on community committees, volunteering myself to the church, and really just putting myself out there more in the community, in general.  It’s felt good to feel like I now have the ability to devote more time to my area communities.  I’ve always shy’ed away because I have had a child in tow for so long.  It is nice now, to know, that should my help be needed somewhere, while the kids are in school, I can give more of my time to others.

In other news, this past Saturday was mine and Tony’s 11th wedding anniversary.  The elevator was closed due to the weather, so he got the day off, and it was also the 5th Annual Courage Against Cancer Walk.  Despite the weather, I think it was a good turn-out.  The ones who ran/walked, probably woke up not really “feeling it” or really wanting to walk/run, but I think we all who did participate (I ran the 5k) would agree that those who are fighting can’t quit or those who are fighting and who have lost, simply can’t run or even walk that far.  And above all, Joyce Scherr, survivor for whom this event was originally started, wasn’t sitting indoors with her feet up.  She has walked the 13 miles, rain or shine every year for the past 5 years.  It’s really a wonderful event, with great fellowship of community, a great meal, and for a wonderful cause.  I’m proud to be a sponsor for it as well.

My gal-pal, Lori, was my 5K running buddy.  Our mutual friend, running rockstar, Susan, ran the half-marathon.  Maybe one day I will….I think I would need a year of training before I would attempt that!  So, kudos to her, and Andy Nolz, who I believe, also ran it. And, of course, to all those who walked it.  Thirteen miles is no walk in the park! :)

Courage Against Cancer Half-Marathon & 5K

Tony and I did celebrate going out for supper in Mound City, which is always delicious, followed by evening mass.  We get a little crazy when we celebrate, I know. lol!  At this point in marriage, it’s really the quiet, and ability to hold adult conversation that you really learn to appreciate, regardless of an anniversary or not.  So, although it felt like any other day, we did manage to carve out some time for us and conversation.  But we don’t just do that on anniversaries, but on a weekly basis.  Kids ears are always listening, it seems.  And the best thing we ever did for our marriage was having a set bedtime for the kids since the day they were born.  It’s the one piece of advice I would give new parents too.  Create a routine and stick to it.  Routine has given us time – time to decompress after a long day, time to communicate, time to discuss important matters/issues the kids need not hear, and just time to enjoy each others’ company.  I really think, in this day in age where 1 out of 2 marriages end in divorce, that anything you can do to make time for communication, is key in longevity in marriage and your own sanity.  It’s definitely helped us in our marriage and to be better parents.

11 year anniversary date

And, while I’m blogging today – I want to say Happy 2nd Anniversary to Paul & Terisa!  Two years ago today I got to photograph a very important day in each of their lives.  I’ve also gotten to photograph their new addition, Nora.  I love that I have been able to photograph these very important moments in their life.  Cheers to two years and to many, many more (and maybe many more little fingers & toes too)! :D

love and parenthood

Well, I hope all the kids getting ready to start school after Labor Day enjoy their final week summer, although it may not feel like it outside.  And I hope all those reading have a blessed week.  Until next time…..

……….laugh with the ones you’re with…for laughter is the best kind of medicine. :D

 

Parent’s Prayer When Children Are Leaving Home

I read this today in my daily prayer book and I found it fitting for all the parents who will be sending off a little piece of their hearts off to college.  And even if they’re not going to college, they’re still having to let them go into the big, big world.  I have several years to go, but I can wait for those years.  Until you become a parent, you never imagine how you could possibly love another human being so much.  So, I feel for all those having to let go this week.  The worry and the love never ends…no matter how big your babies get.

Please share this prayer with someone who may need to read it.  I think it’s so beautifully written.

“Gracious God,

you blessed me with the gift of this child

and entrusted me with his/her care.

Now he/she leaves this home

and begins a new life apart from me.

Surround him/her with good people,

and watch over him/her each day.

Let him/her know that I will always be near

whenever he/she may  need me.

Heal any hurts we may harbor with one another,

and forgive our failings as we learn to be in a new kind of relationship with each other.

And when the sight of his/her empty room

         pierces my heart with sadness,

may I find comfort in knowing that my child

         is your child too,

filled with your grace and sheltered by your love.  Amen.”

        – Diana Macalintal, The Work of Your Hands

My Life Monday | First Day of School

Happy Monday!!  For the first time in 9 years, I am childless, as my youngest, Jozlyn, just started her first day of kindergarten.  Her brother, Xavier, starts 4th grade, and her sister, Alexandra, starts 2nd grade.

The girls were nervous last night already…well, at least Alexandra was.  The lightening and thunder storm didn’t help, but the girls attempted twice to sleep in the living room.  This morning Alexandra asked Jozlyn, “does your tummy kinda hurt, Jozlyn?”  Jozlyn had said “no.”  Then Alexandra followed up with “mine does;  I’m nervous.”  I’m sure there was comfort, those first two years, for her, that her teacher was also her grandma.  I know her new teacher will calm her nerves today though and she’ll be just fine.

Here are a few pictures I took this morning.  Gizmo was whining, wanting outside, when we went out to take pictures.  Shortly thereafter, the bus came.  When I came back inside, there he sat….by the door whining.  It’s now been an hour and a half since the kids left and he’s been outside three times, and not to go potty.  I think he is lost without them. To him, those are his litter-mates;  he’s pretty attached to them. He’s been wandering around, seemingly unsettled.  After a few days, he’ll get the routine down though.  I think I’ll have to record the homecoming today as I think he’ll go pretty nuts! lol!

first day of schoool

Now that the kids are gone during the day, I will be able to get caught up on everything on my to-do list.  I still have a couple session images to finish up, some design work to do, and also some business things that have been put on the back-burner for a LONG time (including a sewing project I started this past winter)!  So, I’m excited to have the opportunity to do that – and without the guilt that plagued me when I did try to work when the kids were around.  Balancing parenthood with business has been the hardest  the last several years.

Which brings me to a special anniversary I would like to mention!  Today, is not only my brother & sister-in-law’s 2nd wedding anniversary, but also the anniversary of 5 years of being in business in this area!  Five years ago, my previous website officially launched and around the same time is when I officially and legally became a sole proprietor.

I accomplished what a lot of people thought I wouldn’t – and that is actually grow my business in a town with 80’ish people.  I had a lot of doubters or maybe those that just thought I was plain crazy and being a wishful thinker.  But a studio space actually developed from my growth as a business owner.  And to think….even after expenses, I’ve actually been able to earn a paycheck and help provide for our family too!  Photography has been my way of life and my livelihood and none of it would have been possible without the encouragement of my husband or those that really saw in me, what took so long for me to see in myself.  And ultimately, none of it would have happened at all if it weren’t for those who came to me for my services in the first place.

So, as I reflect on the last five years that seemed to have just flown by, as my youngest starts kindergarten, and what feels like a new chapter in my book of life begins, I just wanted to say “thank you” to those who have been supportive.  Thank you to those who have contributed to my passion;  not only by investing in me as their photographer and giving me a purpose, but also investing in their own lives through professional, quality photographs and keepsakes.

My business is very much my clients’ business.  The two go hand-in-hand.  It took me a while to realize that and many of the changes I’ve made along the way, have resulted from open communication with my clients.  I genuinely care what my client base is wanting/looking for when they seek out professional portraiture.

Although, what I offer, may not be what everyone wants/needs/values, I know that I am serving those that do want what I offer, and that gives me a great deal of satisfaction and ultimately very excited to work with each and every client.  Understanding that I can’t be the photographer for everyone has been thee hardest hurdle to jump in my business.  A lot of self-doubt creeps in when you are in a business that is not a commodity, like detergent , for example, that everyone needs, but rather offer something as personal as portraiture.

With all of that being said, I would like to celebrate in some way.  So, here it goes!!!  I look forward to giving back to one amazing client and to working with some new ones as well!   Will that new client be you?  Get in touch by 4:00 P.M. tomorrow!  I look forward to meeting and working with you! :D

5 year anniversary promotion

I wanted to offer something that I felt my previous clients would love to receive, even if it’s from a client session 5 years ago. Memories are memories, right?  And yes, I have a very hard time deleting images!  Although, I do only guarantee images to be on file a certain amount of time.

I also wanted to offer a great incentive for those that may have thought about booking me but just needed a kick in the pants, or even previous clients that would love another session with me.  Either way, you have 24 hours to book.  And tomorrow, one lucky client will be notified they will be receiving all of the digitalfiles from one of their sessions in the last five years.  If you’re a client who has had several sessions, your name will be put in the drawing for each session you’ve had with me!  This drawing excludes all weddings and most engagements, however, as those clients received their digital files, as well as sessions that have not already placed an order.

So, be on the lookout for the announcement tomorrow morning.  I will be posting a recording, I think (if I get it to work), of Jozlyn drawing the winner! :D

Enjoy your Monday, everyone! :)

 

 

 

 

My Life Monday | Shots, Frogs, oh my!

One more week until quiet from 8ish to 3:30ish and I am one excited mama.  Is that terrible to admit?  I may have to get a side job just to keep myself entertained and not bored. lol!  I’m usually one to stay busy, or at least try to.  There’s always something to do or to be done.  I am excited though, to work more on my business rather than in my business – and there is a difference.  There are many tasks that need to be completed with each session from start to finish, and more often than not, I feel guilty doing those things when my kids are around.  So, to actually work in my business on top of those other tasks, has been a challenge all these years.  I don’t get much quiet time to think, create, and implement business ideas, so it will be nice to have the quiet within the day to really push things up a few notches, once the kids are in school.  One of those things is social media.  I am so terrible at it and really find it challenging, as I would rather have a face to face conversation than feel like I’m talking to myself or just sharing things no one really cares about in the first place.  I go through spurts but maybe, with more business time in my day, I can be more consistent with it.  I hope, anyway!

Here’s a photo of Jozlyn (previously shared on my FB and personal pages, so sorry if you’ve already seen this) just before her kindergarten shots.  She dressed herself. lol!  She’s my goofball – by far!!  She took her shots like a trooper – in both arms and never cried.  She didn’t even flinch!  Although, the nurse was pretty experienced in that department and had some pretty good tricks!

IMG_2859

So, how are you spending this last week (or maybe a few, depending on where your kiddos go to school) of summer vacation?  My kiddos are finishing up their swimming lessons, which were rescheduled from last week due to weather.  Other than that, working in some appointments, taking some back to school portraits, and spending some more time at the pool while we can before they close for the season.  Jozlyn has really made considerable improvements in her swimming skills this summer.  She will even dive down to get a water toy!  Last year, during lessons, she would often sit on the side of the pool to wait her turn.  It’s amazing what confidence can do for a child.  And to see it as a parent, makes me so happy.  The adults I know, who don’t know how to swim, regret never learning.  You just never regret learning how to swim and I’m glad there is a wonderful program available so close to us in Herreid.

One of the things me and some girlfriends like to do is get together and we have our friend time, while the kids have their friend time.  It’s been a win-win this summer and we’ve all really enjoyed it.  The last time we all got together, the kids went on a frog hunt and holy moly did they find the frogs – a bucket full!  Jozlyn is not squeamish at all and neither is Alexandra.  But Jozlyn usually is the dirty one in the bunch.  She’s definitely our tom-boy!

I hope you all enjoyed the weekend.  The kids and I went out camping with family and although the weather was off to a rocky start on Saturday, it turned out to be a pretty awesome day.  The kids were (again) catching frogs, and there were some frogs that were so tiny, and according to my brother-in-law, they are often tree-dwellers.   I had to take a photo of one of these unique little creatures.  We hadn’t seen them before.  And if you ever see my daughter, she’s likely wearing just what you see her wearing because the kid wears the same thing over and over. :/  And who do people think never does laundry?  The mom of the household.  Although, I give my husband all the props because I can’t remember the last time I really did laundry.  If I do laundry, it’s usually in the washer for several hours and starts to get stinky before I remember.  Which, begs the question – why don’t washers have bells and dinger-things, while dryers do?  Seriously……good question – isn’t it?  I thought so too! :P
tree frog

Well, I hope you all enjoy the rest of summer vacation, before your kiddos go back to prison, as my 9-year-old son would say!  He is looking forward to seeing all his classmates again – even got teary-eyed one night at the dinner table just talking about it.  Makes sense, considering he’s spent his summer seeing his sisters day in and day out.  I can probably see why it makes a brother emotional with joy!  lol!  I can soooooo wait for the teenage years!!!!!!

Have a great week, everyone!! :)

“The healthiest relationships are those that breathe — that move out 

and then move back together.”

 – James Dobson

My Life Monday (on Tuesday) | Love me some Brooks

Happy Tuesday and hello August!  Two very short weeks until school starts.  Unbelievable!!  Yesterday, we got all the kids’ backpacks ready to go.  I was actually pretty on top of it this year and was ready a week ago.  Shocker, I know. lol!  Would be awesome if I’d be just as “on top of it” when it comes to these weekly posts.  I ended up having several ordering appointments back to back and have had my nose in Photoshop with design projects, as well as trying to get this month’s e-news out.  Speaking of which, if you haven’t already, you can sign up HERE and I’ll get this current (awesome promo included) issue out to you (shameless plug, I know). ;)

We’ve been enjoying the warm days of summer.  The kids have been having swimming lessons with awesome Holly and her crew at the Herreid City Pool.  And I can say that this is probably the first year, they’ve all really shown an improvement.  They’ve all been little fish this summer.

I haven’t shared previously, but I recently finally updated my running shoes.  I had been wearing Avia’s that I probably got 3 years ago.  When I started running, it didn’t take long for me to get blisters with every run.  I swore after my longest run (6 miles), that I wasn’t going to do another long run with those shoes again.  I went to Brooks website and took their shoe questionnaire to find the perfect fit for me.  These are certainly heavier than my Avia’s but far more comfortable.  I opted for the gortex version, in case of inclement weather or snow running (we’ll see about that one).  I found them on sale on Zappos website.  I ordered them at 4pm and by 3pm, the next day, they were on my doorstep.  I can’t recommend Brooks shoes enough, and I certainly recommend Zappos!  Crazy-fast service!  I also ordered some new Reef sandals (after wearing my old Reefs out after 11 years).  I sure have some happy feet now!

brooks running shoes

Otherwise in life, it’s the mad-rush before school starts and I’m in the “procastinatin’ mom’s club” getting my kids’ appointments all squeezed in, the dog’s shots, and whatever else pops up.

Next week I’ll be sharing more images from my latest senior session with Rylan.  In the meantime, enjoy the last couple weeks of summer vacation!!  If you have a Class of 2015 Senior, I’d love to hear from you too – always looking to take on more fun senior work! :)

And in case you don’t subscribe to my newsletter or follow my Facebook page, I shared this promotion going on through October.  I would love to photograph some awesome area kiddos! These will be worked into my schedule so book early!  :D

Back To School Portraits

 

Steph & Tayton | ND portrait photographer

Happy Tuesday!  Today will be a mix of My Life Monday, which I just didn’t get to yesterday, and a little bit of wedding love.  This week has been busy with swimming lessons and prepping for ordering appointments and a session too coming up that my Monday blog post kinda got the back-burner.

Now, those that have followed me long enough may be wondering…”but I thought you don’t do weddings anymore?”  This still is the case;  however, I’ve received so many inquiries from people really mostly wanting to be sure they have beautiful, professional family photos prior to the ceremony.  After receiving several such inquiries, I decided that, maybe this is a need I should consider fulfilling.  Much of the challenge, for me, when I did [full] weddings, was finding childcare for a 10+ hour day for 3 kids…..during the summer months.  Who wants to give their entire Saturday, which, pretty much amounts to an entire weekend, when a lot of people enjoy camping and other outdoor lake/river activities.  So, I relied much on the help of my own mom, as well as my mother-in-law (bless their hearts).  Then, my mom’s work situation changed;  she’s since not available weekends anymore.  My mother-in-law and her spouse enjoy camping and other little getaways too, now that my father-in-law is enjoying retirement.  So, as life changes for those I rely on, so does mine.  And I’m okay with that.  It has forced me too, to enjoy summer with my own family.  And that –  I have done and I can say wholeheartedly, it’s been wonderful.  Life is just too short and when you get to my age (you know, that mid-life crisis age – lol!)….you start to feel the years slipping faster and faster.

All that being said, showing up and making a fool of myself in front of a large group of people (for wedding portraits) to get them to smile naturally is just as easy as it is in front of a high school senior.  Both are about the same amount of time.  It’s just easier to find a high school kid to watch my kiddos for a few hours as opposed to from morning to night.

Also, I have learned that usually a wedding is the last time a family photo was taken.  I’ve done enough anniversary sessions to know that it usually takes a wedding to get the group together.  You might as well invest in those family portraits and make it count.  Your loved ones will likely have only those images to hold onto for many years to come.  So, call it an a-ha moment or what have you, but I see a need and if it means a couple hours out of my Saturday, just as it would be for any other portrait session, for a family to have beautiful, professional portraits at a wonderful celebration…then why not offer my services?  Whether you want just the pre-ceremony portraits, just the ceremony or both, I’d be happy to oblige.  Many people don’t realize that most church pastors/priests frown upon flash during the ceremony.  Some don’t even want a photographer near the front, as I’ve personally encountered.  It’s just a day you can never get back and although I truly miss doing the whole day for weddings and creating beautiful leather-bound wedding albums that tell the story of the day….it’s just as wonderful to capture some of the day in order for a family to have some lasting family heirlooms and memories.

So…there you have it!

Next week I’ll share more my life type of stuff.  This week, it’s all about Stephanie & Tayton and how much I enjoyed photographing their families and bridal party.  In just 90 minutes I think I managed to convince them I’m at least a little bit nutty….just ask the ring-bearer & flower girl! lol!

Congrats again you two!  Enjoy your honeymoon! :)  By the way, such elegant bridal gown and bridesmaid dresses!  So, so beautiful!!

bride and groom alter portrait portrait of bride bride and groom bride and groom kiss bridal party wedding church portraits wedding family photos

Thank you for choosing me to be a part of your day, Stephanie and Tayton!  Your families were wonderful and I can see there is so much love to go around.  And hey, I think Tayton even enjoyed pictures…..at least a smidgen….you think? ;)

maid of honor and best man

Book Session with VLV Photography

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.

2014-07-21_0001

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

Book Session with VLV Photography

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