the true meaning. OR when I wanted to kill my children on Christmas day.

After a day of amazing gifts and fun family moments I was standing in the living room talking to C’s aunt when Bailey came in and asked to whisper something in my ear.

She said, “When do we open more presents?”

And that’s when I lost it.

I told her to walk away from me RIGHT NOW, I excused myself from the conversation and walked across the room to whisper to Chris what SELFISH kids we have. I was aghast. After EVERYTHING they’d been given! After ALL the time I’ve taken to read the Bible each night and do things for others and talk about how Christmas is important because it was the day Jesus was born. I just couldn’t believe it.

So at 6:30pm on Christmas night we took the kids to bed. After having decided previously they could stay up late and skip baths. Instead we herded them upstairs to the tub.

Before they got in, Chris told them to pick up their room and then he wanted us to all sit in a circle on their floor. Of course Parker was already naked and Grayson had NO idea what we were doing! But we all sat down together and Chris told them how sad we were that they just weren’t understanding the true meaning of Christmas. He talked about how some people have so much less than we do and how we need to live as much like Christ as we can and do good for others instead of wanting all the good for ourselves. He talked about what selfish means and reminded them about Jesus.

And then he asked us to all hold hands while he prayed for us.

In that moment I couldn’t have loved him more!

Today was really amazing.  We have the best families and received great gifts (I will link to our favorite gifts tomorrow or as soon as I can) and gave good gifts and were lazy and got to see friends and family we rarely see and it was just perfect. Even when I wanted to kill my children and thought I had failed at parenting completely.

Because it showed me a side of Chris I have never ever seen before. And for the first time, we knelt on the floor of our tiny bedroom holding hands and prayed together. That was perfect.

The three day+two nights PAID trip my parents got us was just a big fat dollop of icing on the magical cake!

Merry Christmas!

OMG.

That’s all I keep saying.

OH MY GOSH.

Over and over again.

And I can’t tear my eyes away from my computer.

Why you ask?

Because Lyndsay Stradtner just sent me our photos!!!

If I could ever make just one of my clients feel the way I do right now I’d be a happy lady.

Lyndsay seriously captured my kids and my family in the most beautiful way I could have ever imagined. I’m literally speechless I love them so much!

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My favorite family image of us EVER!

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Ummm. Seriously. Could this not win awards??? And let’s just say I have the canvas ORDERED already! AWESOME!

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Love is not strong enough a word for how I feel about this photo.

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OR this one!

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Bailey, who jumped right in the ocean and was soaking wet while Lyndsay was photographing C and I… this will forever make me smile!

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AGAIN. How big should this canvas be???

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Oh my Bubba.

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This was good for me in so many ways. First, I was desperate for some amazing photos of my family and these are more than I could ask for. Second, the preparation for the shoot, the clothing choices, the session, the 2 hour drive to and from the session, the coordinating, the waiting, the anticipation, the EXCITEMENT and the decisions on what to print, where to hang and HOW BIG HOW MANY HOW MUCH are all things my clients go through. I’ve never really been through it until now. Stalking her blog for our sneak peek even! It was so good to be on the other side of things for a change! It truly taught me a lot!

And I just pray that my images make my clients as happy as these make me!

Thanks Lyndsay!

Please leave her some LOVE via the comments! Tell her how beautiful we are! HA!

UPDATED: she blogged us HERE! GO see some others I didn’t post! :)

Florida seems like a million years ago already.

Why is it that the week after vacation always kicks you in the tail? It makes the vacation feel like a memory with real life stretching far and wide in front of you with no breaks in sight.

Or is it just me?

We got home one week ago today but it seems like a lifetime. And I hate that.

This week I had 4 Fresh Art sessions, 2 Jodified sessions and 1 NILMDTS session. My sister and her family were in town, as was my Aunt, Uncle and 3 cousins plus a second Aunt… I barely got to see any of them. Grayson ran a fever for 4 days until we finally got him to the doctor where my diagnosis of MOLARS was wrong and he really had a raging ear infection due to the fact that his tube had come loose in one ear. Chris also started back to school which meant I was scrambling for sitters while I worked 7 sessions.

Maybe it’s just that this WEEK felt like a lifetime which pushed back the joy of vacation further than I’d have liked.

Anyway. I’m tired. I woke up tired. I went to bed tired. I’m sure I’ll be tired all day. And last night as I was working I realized that my tiredness is finally starting to effect my life in major ways. Because with three kids 4 and under of course I’m going to be tired. But it was worse with three kids under three. And bad when I had two under two. I’ve been tired for about 4 years now. But I always put on a happy face and masked my true exhaustion fairly well, allowing it to rear it’s ugly head very rarely. But NOW with a growing business PLUS my real life I’m faltering.

And I don’t know why I got on this tangent, I’m tired and my stream of consciousness is in full force it seems.

I think I’m telling you all this because I get asked daily in person or via email HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL? NO SERIOUSLY, HOW DO YOU DO IT?

And the answer?

I don’t sleep.

Every spare second I have I am working. And when I’m behind like I am right now I work really late. And my kids still wake up at night a lot with bed wetting, nightmares, general wakefulness so even when i should be sleeping I’m usually not. And my kids get up EARLY. 5:30am early. So when I hit the sheets at 1:30am, one kid wakes up at 2am, another one wets the bed at 3am and Chris is waking me up at 6am so he can leave for school… you do the math.

But we need my money. We need me to work. Hard. We need my business to keep growing so there isn’t such a strain on C’s teaching salary. And in a funny not laughable way I HAVE to work or I would go insane. I love working. I love blogging. I love new client inquiries. I love my camera and creating art out of everyday life with it. I love Photoshop and my computer. I may go to Mommy hell for saying this but I need the break from my kids this allows.

Whew.

So those of you that really wonder HOW I DO IT?

Just know I am tired. Know I work really fast when I need to. Know I am beyond passionate about growing my business and getting better at my craft. And please please please know that I fail at most things every single day. Not getting back to clients right away, taking forever to get prints delivered, keeping track of the money going in and out, keeping my office clean. And that doesn’t even begin to cover what suffers in my real life like playtime with my kids, friendships, etc.

But do you want the REAL answer to the question?

I do it because I love it. Every single part of it. Even the parts I hate, I love.

Now how about some freaking photos? HA!

This is another Florida session but they are actually from Missouri! We met at a flea market where Elizabeth had the cutest booth around! I told her I loved her stuff and asked if she had a website? She said no but that she was thinking about starting a blog. I gave her my card and told her to email me if she wanted help getting a blog up and running. Instead she called to book a session in Florida! So fun!

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And her family was so sweet… I could have taken her daughter home with me!

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Thanks Elizabeth+family! You guys were SO great to work with and I appreciate your patience in seeing your sneak peek!

Next up is my last Florida session and I KNOW Jessica is dying to see them! :) Either tonight or tomorrow Jess!

And I had a super cute session last night to share also.

AND head over to Fresh Art to see what we were up to this week also!

AND thanks for reading if you got through my ramblings at the start of this post!

WINNER announced tomorrow from yesterday’s post! Thanks for all the comments!

more tomorrow.

Yesterday Oakland, Missouri got hit with a tornado. Now I know the weather and news stations aren’t exactly saying that, but trust me, it HAD TO HAVE BEEN A TORNADO! Anyway, I have tons of photos that I’m too tired to upload, but listen to this:

We had no power from yesterday at 3 pm until today at 3 pm. No big deal. My parents had FOUR trees fall, one window EXPLODE due to wind, one sky light shatter from a tree falling on the house, a transformer crash in the street next to their house, 3 holes in the roof, and right now, as we speak, there are numerous fire engines/gas people/Ameren UE people/police outside their home b/c when the electric company drilled a hole in the street to put in the new pole/transformer to get their power back on, they HIT a 4 inch wide GAS LINE! There is gas shooting into the air right now two block from here. I also have photos of this, but again, too tired.

I will give you the whole story tomorrow, after we survive the Kuhn Reunion (my family). Say a prayer for my parents that everything is fixed by tomorrow.

Good night!

today.

By 6:30am this morning I was already vacuuming the back porch. I both love and hate days like this, when I’m sitting here at 7:30am and feel like I have worked enough for the day already while most people are still sleeping. It give me a sense of accomplishment and also makes me crazy.

I’m off to work on laundry, the bain of my existence, and because that puts me in such a bad mood, here’s a photo from yesterday that I am in love with:

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She’s becoming such a kid.

Because I’ve been doing so many chores lately, I wanted to share the song that is blasting on the computer lately while I clean:

Download fergie_big_girls_dont_cry.mp3

Bailey can even sing along!

Here’s to a day of chores! Go enjoy it!

just about done.

Well, it’s almost midnight and although I feel like I could stay up all night finding new and better ways to hang balloons and crepe paper, I’m calling it a night. There is so much to do in the morning before 10am when the guests start coming, but somehow I know I will make it.

1. clean the bathroom
2. mop the kitchen floor
3. mix tempera paint
4. blow up giant jumpy thing
5. fill kiddie pool
6. cut fruit/cheese
7. fill baskets with crackers/snacks
8. shower
9. make bed
10. straighten play room (deep cleaning is done thank goodness)
11. straighten house after the few morning hours of play time
12. drop Parker off at my parents house to be babysat (decided running the party and enjoying it was too much to have Parker there too… so she’s missing the festivities!) :(
13. put laundry away or close bedroom door and threaten death upon entering
14. unload dish washer and reload
15. change laundry loads (me and the girls leave Mon for a week long trip, trying desperately to catch up with laundry to pack)
16. ENJOY IT!

Maybe I really should just stay up all night.

No, I need my beauty sleep.

I promise photos will be posted tomorrow night!

catching up

I had to reread what I wrote last night to remind myself what I promised to write about tonight! The porch, photos from yesterday, etc. I will get to all of that, I promise, but let me just say a few other things first. Because after all, this is my blog!

So last night Parker was up three times to eat. If she had her own room I would have told her to go fly a kite and let her cry it out b/c come on, she’s not a week old anymore and has NO reason for being so hungry! Chris wanted to put her outside and let the squirrels raise her. Not a bad suggestion at 4am. I have made an appt with St. Luke’s Sleep Center so that we can finally figure out what to do with these kids and the non-sleep we’re all getting. I have a phone call scheduled for this Friday and then an office appointment for May 7th. I can’t WAIT until May 7th! I will keep you updated, but if any moms out there have any suggestions until then, I would love to hear them! Our problem is that Parker needs to learn to sleep through the night and when Bailey went through that stage it was about a week of tear filled nights. I’m fine with the whole “cry it out” method, but how do we do that when they need to share a room? So right now Parker is in our bed and Bailey is upstairs until we figure out something else. Which should be May 7th! Please pray that this sleep specialist will give us a plan that works and we can finally get some shut eye!

This is going to sound silly, but Bailey says “happy” now. She came up to me tonight, put her arms around my neck (she loves giving “backwards hugs” when I’m sitting on the floor) and said “happee”! I swear my heart slid out of my body and melted all over the floor. Later, when she had Parker cracking up, she pointed to her and said it again. “Yes, Parker is happy, you’re making her happy!” Seriously, this is why I need a video camera taped to my forehead so I can capture these sweet moments. I will never forget that chubby little finger pointing to her chubbier little sister and saying “happy”. This is why I love being a mom.

Ok, enough chatter. It’s photo time.

These are from yesterday when we pretended that Bailey wasn’t sick and took her outside for some sunshine. It was 80 degrees and beautiful! We had the sprinkler on, the t-ball and golf sets out, etc. Of course I had the camera, and thank goodness b/c I got some amazing shots, if I do say so myself!
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Bailey and her blankie.

WARNING: These photos are not for the faint of heart or non-adventurers out there. There were no children harmed in the taking of these photographs. Fun was had by all, I swear.

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Are you ok? Still breathing? Good. Those are some of my favorite photos thus far in life! Let me know what you think, I love comments!

And now, what the world has been waiting for. Ok, no one really cares, but I want to share our back porch with you. It started out a little rough and last fall we cleaned it out and painted the floor and walls. Then this spring we’ve worked on the decorating. My MIL, Terri, made the amazing curtains and most of the pillows. My dad made the birch ladder. My wonderful husband and FIL, Bubba (aka Bill), hung the new ceiling fans. My mom worked her bottom off in the yard hauling mulch, and although you can’t see it in these photos I had to include her b/c she worked hard too! And I guess I supervised? No, I cleaned and placed and decorated!

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Standing at the back door. The window seat is my favorite, as are the directors chairs that Terri recovered with monogrammed fabric, love that!

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Standing at the back door and looking right, the eating area and swings.

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Standing at the picnic table and looking back.

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Looking at the backdoor.

So that’s our porch. We love it, every nook and cranny. Don’t you love the curtians hung by clothespins? And the two swings side by side. I mean, can you get cuter? :)

I’m not going to end this with what I’m showing you tomorrow so that I’m not stuck tomorrow night! I will tell you that I’m going to make a photo album soon of my all time favorite Allen family photos. But soon, in my vocaulary, could be weeks, so don’t hold your breath! Good night!

twirling, spinning, dancing and eating

Today was a very intense mommy day. I don’t think I’ve had one second to myself until just now. It was overall a great day, just exhausting. Thank goodness I chose sleep last night or I wouldn’t have made it through!

My favorite moments of today were painting paper mache Easter eggs (I have one more step and then I will post photos of the whole project b/c it’s a great thing to do with kids) with Bailey, getting Parker to have one morning nap and one afternoon nap instead of cat napping all day, twirling and dancing with Bails, watching Parker laugh at Bailey being silly, and feeding Parker rice cereal for the first time.

Here are my favorite photos of today:

TWIRLING (Bailey in my arms)
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DANCING
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Parker’s FIRST bites of rice cereal
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Great day. I love the twirling/dancing photos with the streaky background and out of focus faces. It really shows how fast we were twirling together! I challenge you to take more photos of your everyday life. My “photo shoots” (the Parker baptism dress photos currently posted on here) I love b/c of their beauty, and of course big life moments are wonderful… Parker’s first bites of food, the Easter egg hunt this weekend, etc. But when do you grab your camera when you’re in the living room just twirling with your kids? Grab it! THESE are the moments you’ll want to remember when your kids are punk teenagers.

I’m off to craft. Watching The Deadliest Catch on The Discovery Channel… love it! Watch it!

The Allen Follies

Today we went to Lowes as a family. I’m sorry if some of you think this is pathetic, in our life, it’s a fun family adventure. We bought two new ceiling fans for the back porch (photos will come soon, when the fans are up and I can clean it will be ready!) and then decided to get the biggest mother of a trash can you’ve ever seen. It holds 96 gallons! Since we knocked down the privacy fence outside our trashcans were scattered everywhere and ugly, so we’re hoping this monster will hold all our garbage. Anyway, we were so proud for getting good deals and using a coupon (I’m a coupon addict) that we didn’t think of the most important thing until we’re walking to the car giddy with excitement over our purchases. The trash can was too big for the car. Img_0621
Forget the fact that it’s my car and barely fits the double stroller, that was IN it at the time. And forget the fact that because of the stroller and two car seats we couldn’t lay down the seats to make more room. No matter if we cut the seats out and sat in the can itself, there was no way it would have fit in my car. The thing was as big as my car. We stood there for at least 5 minutes just staring at it trying to telepathically make it smaller. Finally, a few minutes and two fussy kids later we realized it was a lost cause. I wanted to leave Chris there so he could call someone for a ride. He thought the best idea was to balance it on top and just drive slowly. Finally, after 15 minutes in the parking lot looking like a big bunch of idiots, I went back inside and asked for some rope. The free rope they offered me was no more than dental floss, but we made it home safe and sound. Let’s just say this sort of thing happens to us often. More often then we will admit. But all’s well that ends well and we now have the biggest baddest trash can in the neighborhood! Now isn’t that something to be proud of?