About Me

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After being told I would never be able to have children, I am now a stay-at-home Mommy to Maddie who happens to have Down Syndrome. I've been married 16 years to my best friend, having the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our little journey through life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

She Has a Good Heart!

Maddie went to see her cardiologist today.  
Not only does she have a good heart spiritually, but physically as well!  

The main issue we've had since she was born is a tiny hole in her heart.  
Although it's not a huge concern, we've been hoping it would close up on its own. 

No such luck.  
Unfortunately it's still there.  

There's nothing that we will do to address the issue while she's young.  
It may cause problems as an adult.  
If she develops migraines or has a stroke, it will have to be surgically closed.  

Other than that, her heart is great!  
She did so well for her appointment today.
After the nurse took her blood pressure she told him thank-you. 
She gave herself a round of applause after sitting so still while the Dr. listened to her heart.
While the ECHO technician was working on getting a reading, Maddie gave her arm a gentle hug. 

A good, good heart indeed!  : )

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kansas City Trip

Somehow I've gotten behind on blogging!
Since we weren't able to see Kyle's family at Christmas, we went up for a visit a couple of weekends ago.

I still haven't posted pictures yet!  
So, here goes. 

We went to the zoo, which oddly enough, was the most beautiful spring-like day right in the middle of January!

We decided to treat it like a mini-photoshoot so I could get some more practice in.  
It was fun!!

These are the kind of shots you can get when you use the concrete sidewalk as a reflector.
  Even with the cap on, there are no shadows hiding his eyes! : )  

As soon as Maddie saw the carousel, there was no way she was passing it by!  

There were lots of little spots for good portraits along the way...

I just love the backlighting on these shots!!

Still practicing reflections...

Play time with daddy while walking to the elephants!

Gotta stop for a snack...

and finally, picture with Grandma and Grandpa!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Silent Grief

A lot of people have asked how I'm doing since the miscarriage.  
Sometimes, I honestly don't know.  

When it first happened, I just wanted to quickly close the chapter and move on.  
But... Grief has a way of letting its presence be known.  

I learned this wasn't something that could be shoved down and forgotten.  

I know nothing about long-suffering.
I'm one of those people its easy to hate because everything always works out for me.  
I live with sunshine, rainbow-filled days overflowing with optimism and oozing joy. 

Grief is new.
Grief is foreign.

I feel it expanding my understanding and stretching my humanity. 

It's not the type of grief that threatens to take over.
It's more of a silent grief that shows up in the single, solitary tear that falls when I'm alone.  

I'm learning through the wise mentoring of several ladies from my Ladies Bible Study group that grief is something that stays with you always, changing who we are and how we see the world.  

I don't need to understand why.
I do need to embrace the grieving process and learn as much as I can along the way.  

Thank you for all of the wise counsel and prayers!  
I may consider this a silent grief, but it helps to know through your connection and prayer, I'm not alone.

And I have found so much healing there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Product Photography - Homemade Dishwashing Soap

I've been making my own dishwashing and laundry soap for a couple of years now.
A friend needed the recipe the other day and I realized I should share it on the blog.
Plus, it gives me a chance to practice product photography.
Product photography certainly isn't the most fun or exciting, but I've been playing around with it because you can really learn a lot about the light and I've been studying "subject centric lighting." 
Plus, all the products are very cooperative and hold the poses really well. : )

So, to get started you only need these four ingredients...all of which can be found at Wal-Mart.  
1)Borax (of coarse)
2)Washing Soda
3)Lemi Shine
4)Kosher Salt

Here's the recipe:
2 C. Borax
2 C. Washing Soda
2 C. Lemi Shine
1 C. Kosher Salt
Mix all ingredients into a bowl...

And put them in containers of your choice...
AND...that's it!!

Use 1 Tablespoon per load and use white vinegar as a rinsing agent.  

Easy Peasy!

I use these containers from Penzeys (2 cup size)
I have 3 of them.
 I half the recipe above and it's enough to fill 2 containers.
  That way, when I have two empty containers, it gives me plenty of time to make up the recipe (not that it takes too much time, but anyway) and I use the third container to ensure I never run out of soap. 

So, go make some...
Your budget will thank you!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My New Favorite Website

Have you guys heard of Kiwi Crate?  
It's this neat company that encourages creativity in children and ships out monthly kits with everything you need to complete projects based on themes like dinosaurs, gardens, color, etc.  
It's $20/month and I haven't taken the plunge to sign up yet, but I'm really considering it. 

The other cool thing is they have a separate site that has a variety of activities and projects.  

You can save your favorite projects and search for ideas by theme or products you may have around the house.  
This separate site has been really cool.  
If you sign up for the email, they will send you a daily project idea to do with your kiddos.  

Here's one from last week:

Shredded paper snowman!  
It was an easy project and I had everything we needed already.  
It only took about 10-15 minutes so it's definitely something easy to work in throughout the day.  

I discovered Maddie loves feeling the shredded paper...ok, I confess...I made the snowman while Maddie played with the paper. 
But it was still time spent together and I had fun and she had fun so it's a win-win!!
Check out all the cool things you can do with your kids at The Studio
(or you can do while using your kids as an excuse!) : )

Monday, January 14, 2013

"It's Sad."

The other night Maddie had a tummy ache.  
I asked her if her belly hurt. 
She rubbed her belly and said, "It's sad." 

Friday, January 11, 2013

12 of the Best of 2012

It's January.
Every January I think back through the year and begin to cherish all of the memories.  
Photos are such an important part of who we are, I cannot imagine life without them.  

Narrowing it down to just 12 was much more difficult than I had imagined!
(I only had 10,902 to choose from)  
(and yes, those are just personal, everyday photos)

Thank goodness we live in a world of digital : )  

1) I love her smirky smile in this one.  

2) I absolutely love it when she plays dress up!  She always has to have a hat and layers as many items as possible.
3) Her first Snowman!!  That was such a fun day : )
4) Playing peek-a-boo around the tree...life doesn't get much better than this.
5) Practicing sunflare.  Love the light in this one, makes her appear angelic.
6) The joy of a rain puddle!  It was so great to experience it through her eyes.
7) LOVE this sweet little expression! And I love this photo because her dress was handmade...a treasure I found at the consignment sale for $2!
8) This is Maddie at her best!  I was practicing for school portraits and whatever she was imagining in her head, expressed themselves in several various faces in  a matter of seconds!  
9) Watering the garden...she couldn't help but play in it!
10) This one is so sweet, and Kyle took this shot.
11) I love this one because the environment of the park speaks to who she is at 4 years old. 
12) And finally, more water play!!  We found this was the best way to beat the summer heat.
So that's it!

What do you guys to do remember the year? 
Do you keep a journal?
Do you print your photos?
Do you make an album? 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You Know You Love Your Job When...

1.  You attend a tax workshop and discover you've put the cart before the horse and now you owe six months of interest and penalties but you never think of quitting (more on that later).  

2.  You resent your husband when he gets "caught up in work" and forgets to call to say he'll be late not because you had dinner ready to go and it's getting cold, but because you wish you could be the one getting caught up in work.  

3.  The one thing that would make the perfect day is just a little more time to practice.  

To all my photographer friends looking to start their business:  

I am learning the hard way that just wanting to do the right thing won't be enough for the tax guy.
As it turns out, the photography industry is the only industry who has to collect sales tax on EVERYTHING!!
Prints and products...collect sales tax. (that one totally makes sense, no brainer)
Time...collect sales tax (what?)
Labor....collect sales tax  (what?)
Equipment...pay sales tax now and forevermore (what?)
I asked the tax man why they are picking on photographers. 
I have to say before I go any further that he was a very nice man with honest answers and the one forced to enact the decisions of others.  
But what it all comes down to is the bottom line...
We are an easy target to get the state more money.
So, there's a few kinks in the road but nothing too insurmountable...I hope!
It's just made me realize that pursuing my passion is something worth fighting for.  
And that's how I know I love my job!


Friday, January 4, 2013

It's Cancer...

I took Gracie to the vet yesterday to get her stitches taken out.  

We found out the tumor they removed was cancerous. 
  The good news is it appears they were able to remove all of it.
The bad news is, it was graded a 2, which means it could have already spread.
She already has another lump on her back.
We are monitoring it for 2 weeks and if it grows, it needs to be taken out.

I didn't have the courage to ask the vet what would happen if it needs to be removed and we can't.  

It looks like we will be making some hard decisions soon.  

At what point do you decide you can't spend more money?
At what point do you weigh the quality of life with a little more time?

Is it more humane to let her go or do everything you can to extend her life?  

This is where the lines of nature taking its course and nature becoming a part of the family gets blurred.  
I'm going to be so sad when she's gone!
I'm sure we'll have several more months with her, but I doubt there will be many years. 
I don't even know how to begin preparing myself for this.

I guess I'll start by refraining from telling Maddie, "Let's go home and see Gracie!"
It's my go-to line to get her excited about leaving a place when she would rather stay.
It works every time : )
And Maddie trots in and proclaims, "Hey Gace, we home!" 

I know many of you have been in this situation before.  
I really would love any and all advice you could offer!
How do you say a long good-bye?   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Photography- How to Transform the Scene

I recently had the honor of photographing one of my best childhood friend's maternity shoot.  

She and her husband are such a great couple and I know they are going to be amazing parents!

When planning the photo shoot, I envisioned a big, open field with a rustic barn.  
Things didn't go as planned (they never do!) so I had to use what I had.  
Which was my backyard  (and a little of my neighbors too.)  

So, here's one of my favorite shots from the session...

In reality, this is what the scene looked like...

That's the beauty of photography! 
With the right lens, angle, and vision you can take what appears to be nothing special and make magic : )