Highlights of 2017

I sat in the movie theater for the 2nd time this week for break...I'm normally not a big "movie/tv" person.  Oh, I have a blog post coming soon with books, books, books, as I'm more of a lover of WORDS more than anything.

Does that seem odd coming from a person whose job it is to take PICTURES...wouldn't you think that the "seeing" of the image would stir more in my heart than words on a page?

Maybe I don't expose myself to enough worthwhile cinematic productions perhaps?

All I know is that I enjoy things that tell a story, that evoke emotion, that cause my insides to rumble and stir and draw me into imagination or thinking or working things out in my mind...

We were watching the movie Wonder.  As a book, it's an excellent read, and I saw it the first time with my middle daughter. I had read the book with her & my eldest many years back and thoroughly enjoyed it. My youngest finally closed the book after crying her way through the last page...and I knew I'd be back at the theater again with her.  This baby girl of mine memorizes text...she actually began to recite the script as the actors & actresses portrayed their characters...she was adamant about what was and was not in the story...and at the same time, swept away in the story (just like her momma)

This time though, I paid attention to little things I missed before...snippets of conversations muttered under breath...relationship quirks that I missed...but most importantly for me, the story within the story...

I could go on and on about R.J. Palacio's book.  (but, I'm going to save that for another post for now) What triggered me this time around in the movie, was actually the play Our Town, in the middle of it all. This play about the virtues of humility and simplicity...the appreciating of the moments.  It hit me square in the chest as "Via" playing "Emily" spoke about finding joy in the everyday...

This is probably why I am attracted to History, Historical Fiction and stories that focus on relationships of the past...the nitty gritty, the hardships, the trials and the power to climb out from under difficult circumstances...

All this to say...as I look over this year, I don't want to forget the little things...the seemingly insignificant things that actually play a large role in my heart and life...

Of course I'm thankful for my family & friends...of course I'm thankful for my home, for health, for protection...but, as I look over the year...there were BIG and tiny moments that equally played a part in shaping this year, in affecting my heart and reminding me of the Wonder of it all...

And soooo, here are my Highlights from 2017!!!

1. Watching my girls try new things, motivated on their own to branch out...the ability to watch the unfolding...

My middle girl...my introverted, quiet, introspective daughter, suddenly obsessed with all things drama club & broadway musicals...a confidence blooming on stage...she amazes me...she makes her mind up and then goes after it with all she has, to the best of her ability...

And then my eldest...
we aren't an overly athletic, nor competitive family...I don't say this because my girls do poorly at sports, but rather to say that we aren't necessarily the ones expecting scholarship for athleticism...but, that doesn't mean that we don't give all that we have while on the court/field...So when she earned MIP for last year's tennis season, I was so proud of her efforts!

2. The opportunity to have excursions with my family. 

I didn't grow up going on many vacations, or adventures...most of that traveling actually came as I got into high school with youth groups or in college and as a single adult into married life.  Therefore, the fact that my husband and I have the ability to take our girls on adventures, it is amazing to me and every.single.time. I find tears in my eyes as we begin our journeys...thanking God for just the opportunity to try something new...

This year began with a trip to see the Harry Potter Books come to life at Universal.  You can read about our entire excursion (and get some tips for your visit HERE


Our second trip took us to Chicago for a long weekend...just the 5 of us...I was sick as a dog, but I would not let that slow us down...it was filled with inside jokes and learning the subway & Uber...You can read all about it HERE too, in case you missed it.

3. The friendship of Framily ;)

If you would have told me that friends we made in college would become more like family and continue into vacationing together and growing our children up together, I wouldn't be able to imagine it.  I've never experienced anything like it, but now I understand it...

Our summer times together in Michigan with this family has been not only uplifting and encouraging, but filled with hilarity and much amusement. We love these two as if they were our own flesh and blood.  They know the REAL us and we can "let our hair down"...they've been our besties, our counselors, pranksters, comedians...so thankful for our time with them...

You can read about 2017's Michigan adventure HERE


Adding onto that "framily" highlight, I'd like to say that there is something about God's family...there is a connection that happens because you Belong to Someone and are already "siblings" in a way...It happened while in Florida with this family...just "coincidental" that we met up, but God kept throwing us together too...and then we realized there was a deeper connection that kept pulling us as well ...and now we have these amazing lifelong friends (who live stinkin' far away!!! but, still!) You can read about our meeting them
 HERE

5. Pippa...the diva...competed in 4H

If you've followed me for long you know that even though we love our dog, she is a challenge.  I'm not sure if it's her hyper anxiety or if we messed something up when we first got her as a puppy, but the fact remains that she isn't the most friendly of dogs...she's nervous all the time and acts often more like a cat than she does a dog.  She only likes "cuddles" on HER terms and then she wants to be alone. For the safety of friends, we put her upstairs when others come over.  It's not that she's aggressive, but incredibly nervous around others and thinks everyone is "out to get her".  Before anyone sends loads of advice, please know that we've hired trainers, we've been to the OSU behaviorist...we spent hundreds on our little girl...You get what you get...and then you just love them with all you've got.  

When our middle girl wanted to attempt 4H with Pippa, we were very apprehensive.  Infact, halfway through the summer training, after tears upon tears dealing with her, we almost gave up.  But my girl would not throw in the towel...

In September she competed at the fair and I just about fainted (or cried tears of joy) when they called her to the ring for earning a 5th place out of the 15 competitors!  Definitely a highlight of 2017 for us! 

 6. Peers & lifegroup

Middle school and high school is hard...my goal as a kid was to survive! Even as an adult, I am INCREDIBLY intimidated by teenagers...I'm learning, but my stomach still gets butterflies when I begin to "think" about being in a large group of them. I know that sounds ridiculous for a 40 something year old extrovert to say, but it's true...I do much better with just one on one in these cases...

When my husband and I felt led to begin working with the youth together this year...not just at church, but creating a home environment where school friends could just hang...well, I can't even begin to tell you how inadequate and ridiculous I felt.  I've never been "cool"...and to top that, I'm a former "teacher"...so I get all "teachery" and "bossy"...I wasn't quite sure how it was all going to pan out...

What I learned was that I LOVE these kids. I love when they come to my home, I love when they just talk, I love hearing about their days...Momma Bear comes out when they feel down or when they have troubles...and I just want to love on them...

I do not do it right all the time and I never replace their parents, but I swallow the "stupid" that I feel and just hug or smile and let them know that they are amazing just because!!!


7.  My sweet grandmother turned 90 this year.  She is a treasure and the fact that our whole family was able to gather together to celebrate her was a huge blessing!


8. Achieving some business goals!  First, by placing #7 in the Senior catagory worldwide photo competition.



and secondly, being named #1 on a parent/community site for Family Photographer! You can check out their site HERE!


THANK YOU 2017
For giving opportunities to grow, to encourage, to be challenged, to love...

There are actually LOTS of highlights that I could mention...from unique family gatherings to words spoken in the quiet of our home...

Every year, every moment is a gift...I try not to let my past dictate my future, but it leaves it's memories impressed on me...there are times that the "doomsday...when is the other shoe going to fall" thoughts consume my life...and that is when my focus is needed most...to remember to cherish the moments we are given... (you can read a bit about my past HERE

to hang onto the simple and mundane while still relishing in the big successes as well...

Happy New Year...I'm excited to see what 2018 will bring! 




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Best Christmas Gift Ever...

Christmas came a bit early this year...


Oh, the weather outside may have been frightful and cold, but it was toasty and warm with anticipation inside the Courthouse last week...

And in just a few short minutes, many lives were changed forever...


It's amazing to me how things can change in an instant..
irreversible, life-changing, unforgettable moments...


Where there once was only 2, now there are three...
where there once was a future filled with unknowns, now there are endless possibilities...
where there once was "all alone", now there is a sea of hearts that are forever hers...

Her momma kept telling her, "you can't give us back"...and it is so!

It is an amazing story that will be theirs to share for eternity...
but it began with a choice, a sacrifice and a commitment...

Moments like these shake me to the core, because the solemness and weight of the decision is so evident and binding...

and because it is here that the GREATEST gifts can be witnessed...

they are found in the waiting, 
in the hoping, 
in the stead-fastness, 
in the tears of the pain and of joy,
in the believing,
in the hard work and the never giving up,
in the selflessness,
in the placing focus on Someone who has it planned already...

Lives are changed...

There are guaranteed to be days of huge successes and FUN and laughter...
but also of struggle and frustration...

ahhh, this journey of parenting...of family...

and yet together, there is no other path quite like it...
and the rewards far outweigh anything else...

Congratulations sweet family...thank you for allowing me the privilege of watching it unfold! 














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FAMILY SESSION: Christmas can come now

My very last Family Fall Session of 2017!!!

Because we are soooo close to the holiday season, I'm just sharing "kid pics" for this blog post so that I don't ruin the family pic surprise for Christmas cards! 

I think the thing that struck me most about the gallery of images was the HAPPY...

I look at these pictures and think, "these kiddos are HAPPY!" Isn't that what we all want for our children?  outside of healthy, intelligent, wise, respectful and all the other things too...we love when our kids are content and happy...

Everyone can look at a camera and stretch their mouth into a smile, but it takes sincerity and genuineness to get the giggles and the laugh...it takes the playful banter to bring out of the goofy and FUN!

It's been a fantastic Fall 2017...I've met up with some of my sweet, loyal families and I've had the privilege of meeting new ones too..

Merry Christmas to you all! 











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FAMILY SESSION: Trees & laughter

I only did a handful of Christmas Tree Farm sessions this year...they are a special treat!

I love the feel of Christmas, the evidence of life in the Midwest...the smell of the pine, the field of green...

It was such a pleasure meeting this little family of 4...the boys were full of smiles and goofiness enough to keep us giggling, even through the chill of the November weather!

I want to wish all my sweet clients a beautiful Christmas season...it is experiences like these pictured here that make my "job" worthwhile!












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"Teach us to number our days, (savor the moments) so that we may gain a heart of wisdom" ~Psalm 90:12

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