Thursday, December 18, 2014

Road Trip to Oregon

This past summer, Brian, Noah, Zoey and I traveled to Bandon, Oregon to spend a few days with Brian's family. 

It was a fun trip, filled with laughter and beach play and picnics and animal park adventures and deep breaths and hugs and jelly beadz and fresh seafood and warm sand and boat rides and more deep breaths and bubbles and chats about traveling in France, essential oils, and the joys and challenges of raising young kiddos.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip. (All photos were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III.)

Riding on a seesaw for the first time
Noah liked it.
And so did Zoey.

The merry-go-round was also a hit.
But it's way more fun when cousins jump aboard.
This is, perhaps, my favorite shot. Zoey's reaction is priceless!
Playing with depth-of-field. (Thanks for being a very patient model, Hailey!)

Brian and his sister, Lori

Brian and his mom
Visiting the West Coast Game Park Safari
A total hands-on experience, unlike any other animal park we've visited.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Currently | December

Around here, I'm...

drooling over Straight No Chaser's rendition of Carol of the Bells. Think crazy good a cappella harmonies! It instantly brought to mind Boyz to Men, but instead of four guys, there are 10 performers. (Thanks Pandora for introducing me to this awesome group.)

submitting two photography articles to Improve Photography.   

editing photos in Lightroom from our San Diego trip.

buying shot glasses. (Oh yes, you read that right. I don't drink, but I'm planning to serve homemade eggnog in them.)

listening to The Carpenters Christmas Portait album. If I had to pick ONE Christmas album to play over and over again, this is it.  

hanging framed scrapbook layouts on my office wall, all the while reminiscing with an ear-to-ear grin.

splurging on an inkjet photo printer. (Merry Christmas to me!) 

watching A Charlie Brown Christmas with Brian and Noah.

enjoying Brian's homemade chicken soup. Yum!

draping an electric blanket over my lap while I write downstairs. ('s cold!)   

running on the treadmill (after a much-too-long hiatus). Feels awesome!

loving Melanie Burk's Instagram feed, which is full of inspiring quotes and gorgeous handwriting.

reading High Five (like Highlights magazine, but for little ones) with Noah. His favorite part? The Hidden Pictures puzzle! 

getting excited to see my sister Kate and her husband Preston.  #itsbeenayear #only10moredays #ineedakatehug

smelling our fresh Noble Fir Christmas tree. (Thanks to Costco for another steal-of-a-deal!) 

looking forward to riding the Polar Express train with Noah, Zoey, Brian and our good friends, the Liotine's, tomorrow.

What's happening with you currently?


Monday, December 1, 2014

Week in the Life 2014

Welcome, December. You are quite possibly my favorite month of the year.

Today begins December Daily, an annual practice I've come to love, in which I snap at least one photo a day from now until December 25th. 

It's all about documenting the stories of my life leading up to Christmas.

Today, Brian, Noah and I unpacked all of our Christmas decorations, and I had so much fun flipping through my previous December Daily albums, reminiscing and laughing and reflecting and "awwing" at how little Noah was (in 2012 & 2013).   

Usually by now, I have a December Daily album started, but not this year.

The good news is that I've ordered bits and pieces from Simple Stories' Snapbooking Christmas Cozy line, and I'm super excited to bring it all together later on in the month. (Simple Stories also has a December Daily kit available in case you're interested.)

Before I embark on my December Daily, though, I want to share my Week in the Life album.

In this album, I used Simple Stories' SN@P everyday collection, which I serendipitously discovered at Michael's recently.

Seriously, it was love at first sight. 

I was drooling over the bright colors, the hearts, the stripes, the polka dots, and the chevron patterns. They are SO me.  And of course, the camera graphics are awesome, too.  

SN@Pbooking is similar to using Project Life, but on a much smaller scale. You buy the divided page protectors (they come in a variety of sizes), stuff them full of photos + journaling cards + ephemera, and place them in an album.

Scrapbooking simplified. #totallyrad 

Here's a look at my Week in the Life 2014 album:

I learned a really quick and easy way to create a 4x6 layout that includes (1) 4x4 photo and (2) 2x2 photos without using Photoshop.  

Using the PicFrame app (which costs 99 cents), I was able to quickly create 4x6 layouts, fill them with photos from my camera roll, save them to my iPhone, and then upload them to Costco's website for printing. 

(If you need step-by-step instructions, check out this awesome tutorial!)

This process was so much faster than PS, and I loved that I could do it all on my smartphone.   

 As you can see, I kept the journaling pages super simple. I didn't want to spend extra time decorating them; for me, it's all about the words.

About one-third of the photos were taken with my Canon 5D (examples: the four 4x4 photos above) and two-thirds with my iPhone 5S.

 I adore that "winking" photo of Noah.

That jack-o-lantern photo above is just screaming for some word art down the left side. Definitely want to add that in and reprint.  

Again, a super simple journaling page with lots of words.  I used the "some days" prompt to include a look at our daily activities.

 Celebrating Halloween with two toddlers: In a word, magical.

I wrote this letter to Zoey (above) detailing the happenings of her birthday party (since she won't remember it), and I'm also planning to print out this blog post and slip it into the album.   

Another week in my life lived and documented.  Feels good.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I Want You to Remember (A Letter to Prospective Adoptive Parents)

The letter that follows has been brewing in my brain for some time now.

When I first began penning it, I was writing to prospective adoptive parents. But the more I typed, the more I realized, it is as much a piece of writing for my own use as it is for others.


Dear Soon-to-be Adoptive Parent,

You're awesome!

Now, I know what you might be thinking, Wait a minute. How can you say that? You don't even know me.

You're right, we've never met. I don't know much about you. I couldn't tell you your favorite ice cream flavor. And I'd probably guess wrong if I was asked where you went to college or what baseball team you root for.

But I know one thing: You want to adopt a child.

And knowing that one fact automatically makes you awesome in my book.

I also know that you've probably jumped through hoop-after-hoop-after-hoop on your adoption journey.

Or if you haven't yet, you most likely will in the future.    

Adoption is beautiful, but also messy.

I know.  My husband and I adopted a baby boy in 2012. (And we're currently walking the adoption road for a second time, hoping to adopt a baby girl soon.)

During the messy times, I want you to remember a few things. (And when I say "you," I mean me, as well.)

1 | I want you to remember your goal: To adopt a baby. When you feel yourself getting discouraged, overwhelmed, anxious, pause, close your eyes, and envision yourself holding your precious little one. I've also found that having visual reminders in my home has been helpful. In my closet, sitting on a shelf at eye level is a pair of black patent leather baby shoes. Each time I see them, I send up a quick prayer, asking God to send a healthy baby girl into our lives. There's also an adorable pink floral dress hanging in the nursery closet. When I pull open the closet door, a smile creeps across my face as I think of dressing my baby girl in it one day.

2 | I want you to remember that sharing your life and your dreams with friends and family and complete strangers takes courage. Some people may criticize your decision. Some may ask questions like, "Why aren't you trying IVF? Why aren't you adopting from the foster care system?  Why aren't you adopting internationally?" Don't feel as if you have to answer those questions. You get to decide what to share and what not to share. In many instances, simply saying, "We feel domestic adoption is the best option for us" works well. 

3 | I want you to remember that telling people about your adoption dreams (as scary as it may seem) is a good thing. It does not mean you are bragging about your life. It does not mean you are perfect. It does not mean that you have to share every. single. detail about your fertility journey or your adoption journey. But people need to know you are wanting to adopt in order for them to share your dream with others.   

4 | I want you to remember to ask for help. Ask for prayers. Ask for positive energy or good thoughts. Ask for advice or suggestions in an adoption support group.  Ask for financial support, if needed.  

5 |  I want you to remember to breathe. For me, just reading the word breathe, causes my body to automatically inhale slowly and exhale slowly. Did it work for you, too?

6 | I want you to remember that adopting a baby privately in the United States is expensive. You may have to cut back on your entertainment expenses, eliminate some travel, take on a second job, eat at home more, or hold a garage sale (or a combination of these), so you can afford to adopt.  Some prospective adoptive parents choose to borrow money from a bank or from family.   

7 | I want you to remember that there will be birth parents who do not choose you. With each situation, the reason(s) will be unique. They may not choose you because you already have a child.  Or because you live too far away.  Or because you and your husband are Caucasian and they want their child to grow up in a mixed race family. Or because they fell in love with a family two profile books ahead of yours in the stack and never even made it to your book. It's tough when you're not chosen, but for me, it just means that we're not the right parents for that particular child.

8 | I want you to remember that the adoption process could take time. You may have to wait and wait and wait. But your time will come.
And when your little one arrives, all of the time and effort and money that went into this process will be quickly forgotten. All of the worry, the fear, the anxiety will be replaced with bliss, as you cradle your newborn in your arms.  

All you will focus on is that beautiful child in your arms. All you will focus on is how lucky, how blessed, how happy you are.

That's what I want you to remember.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Currently | November

I'm currently...

missing my niece, Zoey.

packing for a spontaneous trip to Southern California.

reading this blog post and this blog post, both filled with tips for taking a toddler to Disneyland.  

boxing up all of my used rubber stamps to send off to my cousin.  (Thanks, Chris!)

eating yummy fresh pineapple.

listening to this podcast with Ali Edwards.

sporting my first ever pair of Converse shoes. (They're rad.) 

enjoying a massage.

piecing together a fall/winter capsule wardrobe. 

finishing up Music Together classes with Noah and Zoey. 

looking forward to doing it all again come January.

laughing out loud at this video. (If you have young kids, I think you'll chuckle too.)

scrapping my Week in the Life book using Simple Stories supplies. (I just discovered their products at Michael's and I'm in l-o-v-e!) 

doing more cleaning than I've done in awhile.

enjoying lunch and a pedicure with two of my favorite Mountain Moms. 

checking off my holiday shopping list. 

feeling grateful for time with Noah.

typing up three things each morning (that have happened within the last 24 hours) for which I am grateful. (And it's so cool to read back through my list from the last week and relive all the good things that have happened.)

renting this lens for our trip. (I'm ridiculously excited to shoot with it!)

loving these free printable thank you cards.  

What's happening with you currently?

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