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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!

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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

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.

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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!! :)

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