pushing pause.

One day I may be back here again but for now I’m simplifying my online life and only blogging over HERE only.

Oh, and in case you haven’t checked in lately, I’m actually starting to BLOG again. Kind of like the old days. You know, back in 2007+ when I blogged constantly? Trying to get back to my roots now that I’m actually photographing my kids regularly again… adding in a few words here and there to document our lives. Because while some days still feel long I’m already sensing how short the years are. And I want to remember this wonderfully fun and incredibly hard time of life we’re in right now.

So if you still want to read about our little family head over to Fresh Art where you’ll find my family, my clients and whatever else pops into my head!

Thanks so much for reading!

The backseat conversation.

Some things I just want to remember…

Last night we were leaving church after the kid’s choir practice when Parker commented on how pretty she thought the big round stained glass window is on our church. I told her it is located up in the balcony and could show her sometime. She asked what a “balcony” was and I said it was the place in church where we sit sometimes but have to climb stairs to get to.

Bailey said, “Yeah, and Parker, it’s also where Abraham Lincoln was killed.”

Parker, “He died? In the balcony?”

Bailey, “Yep!”

Parker, “Oh that is so sad! Is he still dead?”

Bailey, “Of course Parker! He was our 16th President! He’s like been dead for, like, 200 years.”

Parker, “Wow. That is so sad. I will miss him!”

The conversation kept going as Bailey told her story of the Lincoln assassination and I was laughing too hard (quietly) to remember all of it. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her he didn’t die in OUR balcony! And my sweet little empathetic PJ just kept saying over and over how sad she was that he was dead. How she can miss someone she didn’t know existed is beyond me but that is totally her heart!

waking up.

Yesterday I came home to two sleeping kids. We had a LONG weekend so I asked Terri to make Gray and PJ nap which is very unusual but at the time very needed. I honestly didn’t think they’d even fall asleep but by 4pm they still weren’t even stirring and that meant bedtime would be tough. And since I literally wait all day to get the kids in bed and have some quiet time I knew they needed to wake up.

So I crept upstairs with my camera and snapped a quick shot of Parker who was buried under her covers. At the click she started to wake up so I just kept shooting.

And then I dropped my camera and crawled into her warm bed to cuddle my sweet girl.

life shots.

SO many times during the day I think of random things I want to blog about. Sometimes I even keep a list going. Or I write post-its and stick them to my computer. But then by the time the kids are in bed, the emails are answered, some editing has been done, etc. my head hurts so much I have to call it quits and close the computer.

But I know keeping updated photos on here at least keeps our family super happy so tonight while I wait for a call to head to the hospital for a birth and while I grumpily deal with enjoy my second night of soccer season I thought I’d get a few of these posted.


Every day I swear I’ll keep up with my blog better. I love to write. I take photos every single day. I have folders of images just waiting to see the light of day. Ugh. If only I had more hours in the day!

And I’m going on my second week of no Mountain Dew. That is NOT helping anything!

Ok, enough grump for one night!

little gifts.

There are days and moments when being a mom is extremely hard and then there are others you just want to pinch yourself because you couldn’t imagine a better life. And so many times it’s mere seconds between those two feelings.

We had a late night last night at our church’s Mardi Gras (a night of skits and so much laughter your face aches for days!) and then hanging at our friend’s house for a little mini after party. Of course we came home to a screaming Gray who was coughing and in pain from pink eye so I think I finally passed out on the couch around 2am (the only reason Gray calmed down was because I let him sleep with Daddy). Needless to say this morning I was TIRED. And I had two responsibilities at church so I had to get up early and go. When I got home I was wiped and I felt myself starting to get cranky. Those thoughts of “if I weren’t a mom right now I could lay down and take a nap” started creeping in.

But when I walked into the kitchen I found this.

Parker had left her cat eating lunch in the kitchen.

And I smiled.

And relaxed.

And remembered just how good I have it.

Our Valentine’s Dinner. And a super long and multi-themed tangent at the end.

When the kids were younger I always dreamed of cooking neat+themed dinners for them with table decorations and fun kid-friendly food. But back then, even just a year ago, I was mainly trying to survive and anything past a box of mac n’ cheese seemed literally impossible. Now that everyone is potty trained and not nursing and sleeping through the night in twin beds instead of cribs I have more time+energy for the nights I always dreamed of. Two jobs takes its toll on my time of course but after FOUR days away with my parents my mom needed to be in the office so I took the day off to hang with Grayson, giving me the perfect storm to put something special together for my sweet family.

My evening started with Chris bringing home flowers! He NEVER does that so it was a huge surprise! Of course they were in this horrific red+glass vase with plastic hearts sticking out of it so I quickly took the flowers and tossed them into my old jars to make the whole thing feel more like ME. In this case, it is totally the thought that counts!

They were perfect on our table!

Then I used cake plate doilies for under our normal plates and laid their gifts on them. Each kid got a new frame for their dressers with a fun photo inside… totally boring but the Pop Rocks were a huge hit!

I got Chris a bunch of his favorite candy and penny candy plus a new travel coffee mug and gift card to Starbucks. Nothing super exciting but he loved it all!

For dinner I just used a basic pizza crust, put it in the shape of a heart and made two pizzas.

One was just pizza sauce, cheese, black olives and pepperonis. For the kids. And Chris.

The other one was mostly for me (with left overs for work tomorrow!) and I just used our favorite alfredo sauce, sauteed some broccoli+cauliflower ahead of time, chopped it up and added cheese. SOOOO yummy!

Aside from the Pop Rocks the kid’s biggest treat was REAL Fitz’s Root Beer, their FAVORITE! And soda on a school night? Unheard of! They were SO excited!


Did anyone else have Bat Man to dinner tonight? HA!

It was SUCH a great night.

We had an awesome dinner (salad was the only other piece of the puzzle), laughed hysterically numerous times and I really felt like a MOM tonight. Do you know that feeling? Like so many days you’re still just trying to survive and then others you just sort of rock?

What was really interesting to me tonight is that throughout this entire day I had some really rough moments. My temper has been flaring lately which is unusual. Even at Bailey which is truly unusual because that kid does so little to get in trouble about. Gray on the other hand…HA!


So even while I was doing school parties and running around and planning dinner surprises and all around feeling like a pretty stellar mom+wife I was just out of it. Snapping at the littlest thing. Seeing the pain on Bailey’s face, multiples times today, when I wasn’t just proud of her but instead insanely disappointed. For stupid things like not organizing her pants drawer and using the wrong beads for her bracelet they made at their party and being too slow while taking her clothes off for bath time. INSANE.

I took a tangent there from my thoughts and am realizing that in the morning I’m going to apologize to her. Very specifically because for some reason I really was just off today and she got the total and complete brunt of it.


The whole point of me telling you that I was off was to say that in the midst of doing the exact thing I’d always dreamed of doing for my family I was still feeling pretty miserable. I was doing laundry and needing quiet and just wishing they would all go away. I kid you not, but I think having the kids gone for four days this last weekend only fueled my need for alone time more. Has that ever happened to you? Where you get a few days break and just desire more? I’ve never had it feel so real and ugly like it does so far this week.

So I was feeling this way times a billion right after dinner, as if getting done with my big dream dinner was as much as I could handle, and I shut myself in our room with last night’s episode of Smash and FIVE loads of laundry to fold. And for about 5 seconds I was cruising back into my happy place. Which right now just means alone time. When kid after kid after kid came in to take their clothes off and ask me about homework and who knows what else. I was about to seriously lose my mind when Parker came in to go over her speech homework. I told her we’d do it in the morning which is a huge HUGE lie because I can’t handle anything in the morning more than the bare essentials for just getting out of the freaking door. And as she started to walk away I told her to come back because it was like I just couldn’t lie to her one more time. (In the grand scheme of homework, and truly only one kid even having legit homework, speech homework takes the back seat every single day.) So she came back in, I paused my show AGAIN, I set down the jammies I was folding and I sat down on my bedroom floor with her. And for 20 minutes we went over her words.

It was the best 20 minutes of my entire day.

And I still got the laundry done and I still finished my show and I still got some alone time.

Just 20 minutes later than I planned.

Twenty minutes where I actually got to see first hand the sounds she’s struggling so hard to hear and say and master. Twenty minutes when I got to see just how funny this little middle child of mine really is. And how easy she can laugh at herself. And how desperately she’s trying to do and say the right thing. In twenty quick and easy minutes I got to know things about Parker I never knew. How in the hell is that even possible?

I have three kids. If for one hour, ONE HOUR, I locked myself in my bedroom for twenty minutes with each of them I wonder what I would learn? What stories will Gray tell me? Will the stories be about “mean guys” or the quickly fading New Parker? Would Bailey actually open up and tell me about school? About her friends and her joys and her hurts? Would Bailey want to work on homework one on one with me or just sit and chat? I wonder what her face would look like if she had that option?

When my kids were little and I was struggling to just hang on to my sanity I never had time or energy to plan themed holiday dinners for my kids. But what’s so completely backwards is that I spent HOURS a day with them. Hours. We colored and painted and played and read and cuddled and snacked and ran. We were together. Now I have time for dinners that they will probably never remember (I say this because I know C’s mom did things like this all the time and he can’t remember ANY of them and I can’t remember if my mom did or not!) but don’t make time to sit on the floor and go over the homework that’s my job to help with. Let alone spend time just BEING with them. When did I get so turned around in priorities and HOW IN THE HELL do I get back?

The scariest part is that I’m not sure I’m capable of going back. A big part of me wonders if I gave my kids so much of myself in those super intense years (four years at least I would say) do I have anything left? Is that why I’m craving so much alone time? Is that why I hide in the bathroom playing games on my phone? Or why I have a sudden love of laundry because it means I can close my bedroom door and fold? After so many days and weeks and months in a row when you couldn’t remember if you brushed your teeth or not do you just need a few years to recoupperate? Is this normal?

I hope that my feelings from tonight stick around longer than I’m expecting them to. I pray that next week and next month we’re so used to our “time with mommy” that it just becomes a fixture in our day. I pray that I’m not completely and utterly screwing up my kids because I’m not a full-time stay-at-home mom who has oodles of time to give to her kids day in and day out. And I pray with all my heart that days like this, when I watched my daughter’s sweet little 6 year old heart break as I denied her the affirmation I could clearly see she was yearning for fade quickly for them but stick with me. I need her hurt little face to be burned into my brain so that next time I can come outside myself and give her the smile and hug she needs no matter how I’m feeling.

Today was Valentine’s Day and I think I really learned a lot about loving my family. Or at least have thoughts that will keep me up tonight as they slowly sink into my thick head. I love my family with this crazy passion and yet, I’m so flawed. Praise God He’s there to fill in where I so desperately leave gaps.

on being rocked. and then putting the whole damn thing into perspective.

Yesterday was the most intense emotional roller coaster ever. It just sort of rocked me to my core and today I feel like I’m just scrambling for air. And I hate that feeling.

I spent the day in the hospital with the sweetest family that lost their baby unexpectedly during labor. One minute you have a healthy baby kicking and squirming as you suffer through natural labor and the next it’s an emergency c-section as you deliver a dead baby. WTF? Every second of last night and today I’ve been wondering what the mom is doing. Praying for her. Just wondering if she’s eating and thinking about their other kiddos and hoping she’s sleeping.

A friend said you can have a hangover after such an emotional day and that’s what this feels like I guess even though I’m not sure I’ve ever truly suffered from an actual hangover. Maybe this weekend while the kids are gone I’ll get totally drunk to see if the two compare.

Or not.

Then I also got some news that I didn’t get excepted into this group I was trying to get into. Which basically means these other professional photographers don’t consider me a professional. I literally read that email the second I got home from the hospital which sent me into such a tear-fest I didn’t know I had that many tears left in me. Do I think I’m a perfect photographer? Hells no. But do I consider myself a professional? Um. Yeah. And they don’t. Because my work isn’t good enough.

And what sucks the most is that the people judging are talented photographers that I respect. SO it’s kind of like getting kicked in the gut and then peed on. Or something equally disgusting and horrible. I watch too much CSI and Law and Order and Criminal Minds.

I did get some good news yesterday too. A super reputable design company wants to use our images on their products. Super cool. I mean, they use a TON of photographers work so it’s not like it’s ONLY my work but still. Cool to be recognized.

And yet, totally infuriating! How can one reputable place think I’m crap and one want to use my images to promote their products?

The kids are leaving tomorrow to spend the weekend with my parents and my sister’s family up in WI. From Friday morning until Monday afternoon we are KID FREE and it’s going to be glorious. An epic weekend for sure.

Of course my main goal after getting the taxes done was to finish an absolute crap load of editing and now I can’t get past ONE image. I stared at the same gallery for TWO HOURS tonight wondering if the skin tones were too blue or too red. How as my composition? Did I need to crop or was I ok? How am I technically? Is it creative enough? AHGHRGHARGH.

I hate this feeling of being just rocked to my core. If I’m not worthy of being considered a professional than what the hell am I? Professional in the sense that people pay me for my images but not pro enough to be accepted? I guess that’s it. There were some incredibly sweet notes on my FB page tonight after I mentioned this rocked feeling and the main thought was to just let it slide. Move past it all. Ignore it. Learn from it. Grow. Which I would LOVE to do b/c some of their words were true. The areas they noted I need improving on are mostly correct (I HAVE to say that what ticked me off about the whole thing is that they critiqued the Mohr adoption session! That was shot at like ISO 6400 in a DARK courtroom hallway! Not only was it a free and non-pro session, it was absolutely the worst lighting conditions ever. How do you get perfect skin exposure there?) and I do know there are some changes I really need to work on.


The part I’ve been struggling to move past tonight is the doubt. And lack of confidence. This feeling of being completely and utterly paralyzed. How do you have someone say you’re not worthy of being a professional “among us” and then go on to edit your paid client work? How do you not doubt all of your post-processing every step of the way that just two days before you could have done in your sleep?

And yet.

I keep coming back to the fact that this came yesterday. Of all days. When I was so concerned for that sweet family I hardly had time to think about that email. Did God ordain that so I would be reminded of keeping perspective? Because the entire day yesterday felt ordained by Him so the timing of it all shouldn’t surprise me.

Tonight my three beautiful children are sleeping upstairs in their beds where I can go kiss them one last time goodnight. Tonight there is a woman safe at home with her three children who are, I’m sure, sleeping just as peacefully as mine are. And I bet she’s giving them one last kiss too. But one of her babies is sleeping with Jesus tonight. And it’s not fair.

If SHE had gotten a critique yesterday it wouldn’t have mattered one teeny tiny iota to her. How is that even a blip on the screen after you’ve lost a baby?

And so? Fuck that critique. I’m going to delete it and chose to grow from it. I’m going to PROVE THEM ALL WRONG. Prove that I am a professional and can survive in this business. Because my babies are sleeping right now and that is absolutely more important than anything else.

teeny bits of life.

Chris took the kids to a basketball game up at Webster today and left Dog Dog there. Awesome. Tonight should be fun for the Grayman.

I am obsessed with Aldi’s pretzels. If you’re not from here, Aldi’s is like the discount of all discount grocery stores. Like tonight this woman was ARGUING about the price of something because she just COULD NOT believe it cost $0.75! ABSURD she kept yelling! But MAN. Their pretzels are skinny and salty and oh so incredibly amazing. I drive all the way there, take in my Trader Joe’s bag and buy 6 bags of those damn things at a time. BIG bags of delicious pretzels for $8. It’s awesome.

I’m also eating way too many candy hearts right now. Yikes.

The girls decided it would be fun today to clean the bathroom. I feel like all the years of bleeding nipples and stretch marks and exhaustion and all the other truly crappy things that come out of parenthood finally paid off. And then when I told them I would pay them a whole dollar every time they cleaned it you would have thought I just offered my 16 year old a mustang (or some other really cool car that I don’t know the name of) with how excited they got. And dude they CLEANED it! Like clearing all the soaps out of the tub and scrubbing places I don’t bother with. The day Gray mows the lawn we’ll consider this road as parents just about done.

Have you tried the new iPhone game “scramble”? It’s like Boggle but with magic tokens and your FB friends to compete with. Kim told me about it today and HOLY CRAP I will never get another thing done ever again. It’s that awesome.

I stopped playing “words with friends” for a long time but now I’m back at it. Again, SUPER DUPER time suck but I swear it makes me smarter and that’s a good thing right? If you play either of those look me up!

I’m also trying to get on board with Instagram but my ancient iPhone is SO freaking slow right now I might as well draw on a notepad what’s happening at any given moment it takes so long to load. I know I need to a. dump the last two years worth of photos and videos that are on there and b. upgrade in March when it’s time. I can’t wait to meet Siri who I just know will be my new best friend! BUT if you ARE on Instagran look for me b/c if nothing else I’d love to follow YOU!

And Pinterest. While we’re talking about time sucks. I’ve not been on there as much lately either. It’s amazing what having your partner step back does for your favorite things to mess around with as I just have so little time to get the things done I’m actually paid for it leaves hardly anything for FUN.

Which is why I’ve been strapped to my desk chair ALL day doing tax crap. Ugh. The horror. I HATE HATE HATE crunching the numbers. Especially when I’m guessing I’m going to owe like a hundred million dollars to the government soon. SO depressing.

Chris told me when I end up in hell it will be because tonight while the kids did their “performance” for us I looked at him while they weren’t looking and put my fingers to my head like a gun blowing my brains out. It was torture. And not even the cute kind of torture. The kind when three kids play crappy toy instruments all at the same time for 15 minutes straight. I would have rather been doing my taxes.

What is it with older men and long nails? Twice recently I’ve encountered REALLY long nails on an older gentlemen and it makes me want to vomit. Does this bother anyone else?

We just converted the very back room of our house into my office and while it’s not totally finished and not cute yet and not looking like my Pinterest boards say it should look it IS at the very back of the house which means when the kids call down for something after they’ve gone to bed Chris is the closest one to them! HA! Love it.

Now to blog over at Fresh Art, finish entering receipts, eat some Aldi’s pretzels and head to bed. Don’t you envy my Saturday night?

everyday shots

Well, I didn’t capture EVERY day of January but that wasn’t my intention. It’s ok to not hit every single day. The days I missed were either big shooting days for Fresh Art which meant by the time I got home the camera just needed a break OR it was the day after a huge day of shooting and I just needed a break. But that’s life. By giving myself this tiny bit of grace I’m hoping it will allow me to keep up better with this project.

If we’re friends on FB you can see the entire month but here are the latest…