About Me

My photo
I love Jesus. I love my family. I love photography. I love books. I love thinking. Probably in that order. I have a wonderful husband, five beautiful daughters, a house, and a camera. I enjoy spending time talking to my husband, playing with my girls, redecorating my house and shooting things with my camera. In my spare time, I sleep.

Friday, January 29, 2010

How I became the Mom I am Today

A couple weeks ago, my blogger friend Tiffany at A Moment Cherished wrote a blog about five experiences that shaped her into the mother she is today.  Her post has caused me to ponder what the major influences in my life have been.  What things were the most pivotal in shaping how I respond to my children & the life impacting choices I have made for my family?  I've been stewing on this ever since I read Tiffany's post and it's hard to pinpoint specific experiences because so much of who we become is because of the cumulative effect of thousands of small seemingly insignificant day to day experiences.   But here I sit still wanting to nail down some specific things that have made me the mom I am today.  So, let me go boldly forth in this endeavor and shed some light on who, what, why & how I became what I am.

1)  One of the most obvious influences on my parenting is my parents & how they parented me.  My dad & mom loved me and I knew I was loved...(not every kid can say that, sadly.)  My dad hugged me a lot; my mom bragged on me a lot.  They took me to church every Sunday; they read aloud to us; we always ate dinner together as a family; birthdays and holidays were celebrated with exuberance.  My family was always really open about things that other families weren't...I always kind of had an understanding of the workings of the female body because my mom just existed openly with us...while my best friend didn't even know what pads & tampons were until sex ed in 4th or 5th grade.  My parents expected us to take our responsibilities seriously but they never forced any responsibilities on us (I don't recall ever having set chores)...most were of our own choosing (like 4-H & extra-curricular activities.) There are so many things that I learned from my parents that I do with my children.  They are so ingrained in me that I cannot separate those behaviors from my identity as a parent.

My parents did so many things right...but they did a lot of things wrong too and the things they did wrong influenced me as much as the things they did right.  I recall as a teen specifically making notes to myself about what I was NOT going to be like as a parent based on what my parents WERE like.  I laugh at that now but the truth was--it did have an enormous impact on my parenting style now.  Sometimes when I run out of patience with my girls and start making unreasonable demands...I remember my notes and I pause...I take a moment to acknowledge the new found understanding & appreciation for my mom and then I try to do things differently because I still can remember how it felt to be the kid.  When I get into a battle of wills with my 2 year old...I remember the battles of wills I had with my mother and I know that if Jasmine is anything like me...I need to change my strategy because when my mom pushed me--it only made me push back harder. (I'm speaking figuratively, of course. *smile*  I don't want you thinking we literally were pushing each other!) Because of these experiences with my mom, I know that her approach didn't work and that I need to find a better way to change my stubborn child's behavior.

2) My salvation is another HUGE factor in my role as a parent.  I grew up in the church.  From the moment I was born, I was sitting in the pews with my family.  I can't tell you the exact date of my acceptance of Jesus as my Savior.  I can't tell you how old I was for sure...BUT I can tell you that I remember it.  I hold the belief that I was around the age of 5 but I could be wrong.  It was during my church's summer VBS program.  I remember going to the alter and praying.  This is important for so many reasons.  One of the obvious reasons is that knowing Jesus changes the way you see the world and a person's worldview is THE thing that most affects how we live our life and thus raise our children.  But coming to the Lord at such a young age gave me confidence to know that a child's salvation prayer does mean something to God.  Even at the age of 4 or 5, a child can understand enough of Christ's sacrifice to make a decision for Him and God honors that.  As a mom, the confidence in this knowledge, affects my view on spiritual training.  It also gives me perspective on what it means to have a child like faith...I remember specific instances when I had such a child-like faith and it was honored by God.  Like the concert I knew I was going to be invited to and the summer I prayed that God would keep the snakes out of the yard.  (Click here for more details on that.) Now as a mom I have access to those memories and hopefully I use them to encourage & strengthen my children's faith and to recapture that faith within myself, as well.

3) Meeting Russ & his family is another biggie in so many ways.  He introduced me to a world of "thinking outside the box".  I was brought up very conventionally and was taught to think pretty conventionally.  While I have always been the "rebel thinker" in my family--it wasn't until I met Russ that I started to learn how "normal" it is for some people to be different.  Meeting Russ influenced my thinking on health and changed my views in regard to food.  Meeting Russ & his family challenged my thinking on the government & social obligations.  Meeting Russ expanded my views on education & gave me more conviction in my desire to home school.  My relationship with Russ certainly rearranged & shifted some elements of my worldview and in that way certainly has had a huge impact on the decisions we make in regard to our children.  I certainly wouldn't be the mom I am today if I had never met him and his family.

4) The books & magazines I've read and the programs I've watched have been incredibly influential on my parenting.  While I am not the kind of person who thinks I need to follow any book, philosophy or experience exactly or I'm failing, (I'm pretty go-with-the-flow in my parenting...I figured they'll be fine no matter how many mistakes I make as long as they know I love them at the end of the day.) I am all about learning from other people's experience and trying out good ideas when I can so I have soaked up a lot of information about parenting from outside sources.  I often access my internal files for a way to better handle things with my children.  I utilize ideas I've learned  from Gary Ezzo,  Kevin Lehman, the Nanny & Cookie magazine.  Sometimes they work & sometimes they don't but in combination they have shaped the way I think about parenting and (occasionally) the way I actually parent. ;)

5) The births of my children are what make me a mommy & not just another working woman.  I've always known I wanted to be a mom...when I was in college (and single) and people asked me what I planned to do with my degree if I decided to be truly honest I would tell them that I wanted to get married and be a stay-at-home mom.  I usually wasn't that honest because, unfortunately, being a homemaker isn't highly valued in our acedemian society, and I guess I was ashamed to admit it.  But when Eden was born and they put her on my chest seconds after she left my body, I wept and marveled at her warmth & weight (5 lb 14 oz!) and in that moment (when I officially became "mama") it was like getting a glimpse of the Divine. 
What could be more important than being a mom? God gave me this perfect precious little child and trusted me with leading her from this helpless squirming cone headed state into womanhood.  What an honor!  And now I am Mama to three girls who I must always remember are only mine for a time, by God's grace, and must parent them with that in mind.  I have been entrusted with His daughters and therefore I have to try my best to raise them His way and through His leading and learn to let Him have them back when I want to cling too tightly and trust that He loves them even MORE than I do and thank him for trusting me enough to let me be their mommy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Photo Edit

Pixel Perfect is doing a blog hop today featuring photo edits we've done.  We show our OOC (Out of camera shot) and then the after edit shot.  Instead of showing off a recent edit...I decided that I wanted to reminisce a little with one of my very first successful photo edits. (Now I can't hardly show a photo without editing it a bit first!) 

This photo was taken in 2006 and due to the extreme blur in Russ' face, I normally would have seriously considered deleting it, but since Eden's face was so darn cute I decided to try my hand at editing to see if I could salvage it and this was the result--of which I was super proud. (I also have one like this in color...but I like the black & white one better.)



Monday, January 25, 2010

Don't you just love baby bellies?

This past weekend I got the opportunity to do my first maternity shoot with a wonderful couple who I've known for a very long time. (My first wedding job 2 1/2 years ago was theirs!) It was fun and I just wanted to share a sampling of what they went home with!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Healthy Snack

So I am attempting to eat more healthy this year...Trying to cut back on sugar & processed food and eat a lot more raw fruits & veggies.. It's been challenging because I eat ALL the time! I am a snacker....especially in the evenings. Anyway, I was so proud of myself last week when instead of chips or dessert or my typical carb-ish snack, I had a bowl of carrots wrapped in spinach. And I really liked it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Russ!

Today is my husband's 32nd birthday. I feel so blessed to have him in my life. I am so grateful to my in-laws for raising him to be the wonderful man, husband, & father he is. I love you, Russ.  






 Aren't I lucky?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Heart Faces: "We are Family"

This week's I Heart Faces photo challenge is "We Are Family".    I took this photo of my parents & my daughter at my parent's 30th anniversary party.  Don't forget to hop over to I Heart Faces and check out the other beautiful & fun entries.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My new hair

So, after months of saying I needed a haircut...yesterday I finally actually got a haircut.  My attempt in the morning while my girl's were at dance was a failure so I went back in the evening after supper while Russ stayed home with the little rugrats and was met with success.  I had the back trimmed and my layers restored.  I actually went back after the original cut to have the guy cut a bit more off the front to frame my face.  Now it's back to the cut I like.

I also colored my hair.  But out of a box...I decided that our budget just didn't allow for a professional's help but I was really getting bored with what I had.  I went out on a limb this time and dyed my hair a color I've never dyed it before...so after a night of turning our bathroom into what Russ says resembled "the set of Psycho" my hair is now red.  Not red, red but a darker red (like mahogany) with some lighter red (copperish) highlights.  It's actually not that dramatic of a change and I really like it.  I'm not very impressed with my highlighting job (it's much trickier than it looks and with as thick of hair as I have...) but it doesn't totally suck.  So overall I'm much happier with my hair than I was last week.  Now I just need an excuse to sport it for the public.  For some reason I'm just not motivated enough to style my hair for a day of cleaning, cooking & tushie wiping. (Go figure!)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I've been tagged.

Tiffany from A Moment Cherished has tagged me.  For this particular tag we are required to write a list of  7 things about ourselves and then tag 7 more people.  So here I go...

1)  I spent the entire day reading.  This morning, I finally finished a 264 page book that I've been working on for over two weeks and then read an entire 329 page novel this afternoon. I could easily read a novel a day if there were no other demands on my time.

2)  I am basically anti-pet.  I don't like how cats shed, scratch & purr (yeah a cat purring annoys me).  I don't like how jumpy, yappy, slobbery & sniffy dogs are.  Plus I can't stand to see a loved animal die.

3)  When I was in high school I used to believe that  I'd end up married to a pastor...but so far there has been no such calling on our lives (and I'm relieved about that.)

4) There have been days when I've wondered if God could possibly want me to be the mother of a large family (5+ kids) but most days I wonder if I'm in over my head with the ones I have.  My current position is that I'm content with three but I'm open to the possibility of more.  I don't think I'm cut out to be responsible for more kids and I selfishly want to pursue personal goals that don't involve babies or young children.  We'll see if another kid is in my future...in the future.  For now I'll just enjoy the three sweet girls I have.

5) I went to a hearing specialist when I was a teenager because I had experienced some hearing loss.  We learned that it was a one time trauma loss and not gradual hearing loss (which was good).  Also, it was at this appointment that I learned of the "wart" inside my nose.

6) If I were ever to move from where I live now (where we live because of proximity to family, which is very important to us) to a place of our own choosing, I would move to Arizona.  None of the other states really interest me that much and I would really like to live somewhere where it rarely, if ever, gets cold.  I hate snow & ice & freezing temps.

7) I once failed a class because the professor accused me of plagiarism (it was entirely unintentional on my part) on the final paper (which took me days of agonizing torture to write).  But when I retook the class the next year (with the same professor) I got an A+ on the final paper (which I wrote in one afternoon (at the last minute.))

Okay so there are my 7 things.  Now it's your turn...Proud Mom, BrookeShay, Meanma, KaralynSixbehrs, and Mandie.  You've been tagged.  Can't wait to read your lists. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Heart Faces: Best Face Photo Entry

This weeks I Heart Faces is celebrating their birthday and this week's contest is all about faces shot up close and taken recently (within the last 6 weeks). I chose to enter this photo of my middle child. I love her expression and how well it captures her own style & personality!

Please go to I Heart Faces to view the other great entries or enter your own.  There are some EXCELLENT photographers to discover over there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Adventures in toddlerhood parenting...

So tonight I was sitting upstairs in my recliner reading a book about being the mother to toddlers (ironically!) and Russ was downstairs playing video games. I was holding the baby and Eden was running back and forth between us. I assumed *always a mistake* that Jasmine was downstairs with Russ and he thought she was with me. When we realized that she was unaccounted for we went looking for her. We found her in the bathroom, like this...

The lesson learned?  Never assume ANYTHING when it comes to toddlers and never let Jasmine do her own makeup--(unless she's training for a position as a circus clown or auditioning to play the Joker.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My love & me

So...since I had all those photos of the girls I thought it would be nice to get some similar ones of Russ & me.  (I'm considering making a collage of them to display.)  I set up my tripod & focused where I wanted and then Eden stood on a step stool, looked through the lens, told us whether or not we were in the shot and then pushed the button.  It was fantastic.  When she gets a little older I think she'll make an excellent assistant for me when I start my own photography business. ;)    Don't you think she did great?


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Progress report

So Eden is 4 1/2. She knows all her numbers & letters and is getting very good at writing them.  We are working with her on learning to read but she isn't very confident and resorts to guessing sounds & letters if she has any doubt at all.  She has been able to write her name for almost a year now and has been learning how to write/spell several other names & words.  She knows: Eden, Jasmine, Acacia, Russ, and Teagan.  I have also been working with her on simple math.(2+2=4, etc)   She has become very proficient in her computer skills.  One of her favorite activities is playing games on pbskids.org.  And we don't mind much because she seems to be learning a lot through that website.

Jasmine is 2 1/2.  She mastered colors & shapes over a year ago and has recently learned most of her letters & numbers.  Although she cannot write it, she can spell her name aloud & her baby sister's name when asked.  We are now working on teaching her to spell her big sister's name.  She was recently potty trained although she still has accidents sometimes (particularly at night.)

Over the past year I have been teaching the girls about relationships and so Eden now enjoys displaying this knowledge by calling her grandma "Dad's mom" instead of "Grandma".  I have also spent a lot of time teaching them the different jobs that their relatives have.  It is fun to hear Jasmine say that Papa is "a farmer/rancher". :) 

Acacia is 3 1/2 months old and is one of the happiest babies I've ever seen.  She is starting to "talk" a lot.  She tries to copy us when we talk back to her.  We all swear she has said "hi" back to us on several occasions.  Acacia has also been displaying a desire to "sit up" but she doesn't yet have the strength or balance to do that on her own.  (But she sure wants to!)

That's it for now.  Just want to record this info somewhere for my own poor memory and thought some of you might enjoy it as well. Caio!

Pretty in Pink

So after seeing the photos I took of Acacia yesterday, my mom wanted to see some of the other two girls that "matched."  Here are a few of Eden & Jasmine that I took today to meet that request.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Acacia's 3m Photos

Acacia turned 3 months old on Christmas Eve. I had photos of both my other girls taken when they were 3 months old against white backdrops so I wanted similar photos of Acacia. These are the results.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Book List for 2009

Books I've read in 2009

  • 58) 'defiant heart' by Tracey Bateman 12/21
  • 57) 'Home For Christmas' by Coble, Cox, Fowler, & Martin 12/17
  • 56) 'Colorado Weddings' by Joyce Livingston 12/15
  • 55) 'Coming Home' by David Lewis
  • 54) 'A Bride Most Bregrudging' by Deeanne Gist 11/21
  • 53) 'Child of the Mist' by Kathleen Morgan 11/17
  • 52) 'A Bride in the Bargain' by Deeanne Gist 11/10
  • 51) 'What's Science Ever Done For Us? What the Simpsons can Teach Us about Physics, Robots, Life and the Universe' by Paul Halpern 11/9
  • 50) 'Darkness Visible: Memoir of Madness' by William Styron 11/2
  • 49) 'Broken For You' by Stephanie Kallos 10/30
  • 48) 'The Last Summer (of You & Me)' by Ann Brashares 10/26
  • 47) 'The Birth Order Book' by Dr. Kevin Leman 10/26
  • 46) 'Levi's Will' by W. Dale Cramer 10/13
  • 45) 'Echoes' by Robin Jones Gunn 10/7
  • 44) 'The Believer' by Ann H Gabhart 10/5
  • 43) 'The Missing' by Beverly Lewis 9/29
  • 42) 'Nights in Rodanthe' by Nicholas Sparks 9/21
  • 41) 'Songs of the Humpback Whale' by Jodi Picoult 9/18
  • 40) 'The Parker Grey Show' by Kristen Buckley 8/19
  • 39) 'Battlefield of the Mind' by Joyce Meyer 8/12
  • 38) 'The Shack' by Wm. Paul Young 8/3
  • 37) 'Naked Babies' by Nick Kelsh & Anna Quindlen 7/27
  • 36) 'Whispers' by Robin Jones Gunn 7/22
  • 35) 'Secrets' by Robin Jones Gunn 7/21
  • 34) 'Through the Fire' by Diane Noble 7/16
  • 33) 'When You Believe' by Deborah Bedford 7/14
  • 32) 'Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus' 7/12
  • 31) 'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult 7/9
  • 30) 'Tested by Fire' by Kathy Herman 7/3
  • 29) 'In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms' by Dr. Laura Schlessinger 7/1
  • 28) 'The Hope Chest' by Wanda Brunstetter 6/24
  • 27) 'Plain & Fancy' by Wanda Brunstetter 6/23
  • 26) 'Ever After' by Karen Kingsbury 6/21
  • 25) 'Looking for a Miracle' by Wanda E Brunstetter 6/5
  • 24) 'A Merry Heart' by Wanda E. Brunstetter 6/3
  • 23) 'Everything and a Kite' by Ray Romano 5/30
  • 22) 'Light on Snow' by Anita Shreve 5/11
  • 21) 'Joy School' by Elizabeth Berg 5/8
  • 20) 'The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood' by Vicki Iovine 5/1
  • 19) 'Veil of Roses' by Laura Fitzgerald 4/24
  • 18) 'The Guy not Taken' by Jennifer Weiner 4/22
  • 17) 'Catch Me if You Can' by Frank W. Abagnale 4/15
  • 16) 'Even Now' by Karen Kingsbury 4/14
  • 15) 'The Secret' by Beverly Lewis 4/4
  • 14) 'Remember Me' by Deborah Bedford 3/7
  • 13) 'The Exploits & Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy' by Elizabeth Aston 3/5
  • 12) 'Mr. Darcy's Daughters' by Elizabeth Aston 3/2
  • 11) 'The Choice' by Nicholas Sparks 2/13
  • 10) 'Darcy's Story' by Janet Aylmer 2/12
  • 9) 'In Her Shoes' by Jennifer Weiner 2/9
  • 8) 'Summer of Light' by W. Dale Cramer
  • 7) 'A Rose by the Door' by Deborah Bedford 1/28
  • 6) 'Plain Truth' by Jodi Picoult
  • 5) 'Prep' by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • 4) 'Toliet Training in Less Than a Day' by Nathan H. Azrin & Richard M. Foxx
  • 3) 'Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind' by Ann B. Ross
  • 2) 'Blessing' by Deborah Bedford
  • 1) 'Anathema' by Colleen Coble 1/3

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Me & my girl

My sister-in-law took these pictures of Jasmine & me on New Year's Eve and I loved them so I edited them a bit and wanted to share them.

See more Christmas & New Year's Eve Pics HERE.

Friday, January 1, 2010