Call me narcissist if you must but this blog is all about ME. I have another blog about my kids, whom I love and adore writing about. But I was Nicole a long time before I was mom and I don't intend to give up being Nicole overnight.

You can read all about my kids at Naptime Optional.
Or you can follow along on our Arizona adventure on my 365 project blog.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas comes this time each year.....

Tree 2010-14

This is our tree this year. Perhaps you can tell just by looking at it that 3 children under 4 feet tall decorated it. I thought about redistributing some of the ornaments towards the top but in the end decided against it. This is how they decorated it, so this is how it will be this year.

There is a lot of ornament clumping, too. I think I count 4 on this branch alone.

Tree 2010-7

And another 4 on this branch.

Tree 2010-9

Nearly all the ornaments on our tree are from my childhood. We had a tradition in our home of getting Christmas ornaments on as our souvenirs when we went on vacation. In addition my grandmother also gave us each an ornament nearly every year as well.

What this means really is that now that I'm married with my own family decorating the tree is only meaningful for me. As I pull out certain ornaments I relive certain memories from vacations as a child. But these aren't shared memories for my husband or children.

We do have an ornament from our family trip to Yellowstone.

Tree 2010-6

But everything else is from my life pre-marriage.

It got me to thinking that I REALLY need to update our Christmas tree. I want it to be meaningful to my kids. I want it to be fun and interesting for them. Which means it's time for some new family traditions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails

That's what they say little boys are made of. But last week I photographed my newborn nephew and I'm pretty sure that, at least for now, he's made of pure sweetness with a dash of new baby smell.

BYU Baby-47

Despite his innocent countenance he was kind of a nightmare to photograph. Okay, nightmare might be a bit harsh. But man, newborns are hard to photograph. Especially when you strip off all their clothes and then rip them out of the arms of their mother. They don't like that. Just in case you were wondering.

BYU Baby-14

I turned the heat up in the house. We used a heating pad to keep the bean bag warm. And then we snapped quickly during the 2 seconds he was content each time we put him down.

BYU Baby-31

BYU Baby-9

BYU Baby-23

He was so anxious for us to not unwrap him again that he was hanging onto that blanket with everything he had....

BYU Baby-17

This is his old man face.

BYU Baby-5

And is there anything more precious than tiny baby feet?

BYU Baby-61

Hugs and kisses new nephew! Welcome to the family!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Photo Friday

Like that? I just made that up.

Because I sitting here watching Tamara Lackey teach about children's photography on creativeLIVE and sorting through pictures (you know, trying to pretend to be effective with my time) and I found this picture I wanted to share. Just because.


I LOVE LOVE LOVE that they are holding hands. I didn't pose that. It was completely natural.

I even love that are not looking at me. Mom was off to my side making funny faces and I love that they are so amused with what mom is doing.

Yup, love this picture.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Traveling with kids a.k.a. Pure Insanity!

This post could also be titled "Pure Insanity".

I saw this quote today. "There are two classes of travel: First class, and with children." -Robert Benchley I have to admit, I didn't know who Robert Benchley was, but the quote seemed appropriate. You see, I'm beginning to get a tad bit apprehensive about taking the kids to Disneyland next month. I've been reading a couple of guidebooks and now I'm wondering if I am certifiably insane.

At any rate, the trip is already paid for so it's too late to back out now.

So my BIG question, the thing I am losing sleep over, is which camera do I take???

In as much as this is the kids' first visit to the Happiest Place on Earth I anticipate lots of magical memories and I want to capture each and every one. I've invested a decent amount of money to have a nice-ish camera. I even just ordered a new lens. (50 mm f/1.8) What is the point of my investment if I leave the camera home?

And yet, I'll be honest, sometimes when I take my camera it feels like an extra kid to take care of. I have to be aware of where it is at all times. I have to protect it from getting wet or damaged. And I'm pretty sure I would feel uneasy about leaving it in my hotel room during the day. Which means if I take it to CA with me it will pretty much be with me ALL the time.

One of my other concerns is that my current camera bag is a backpack. I love it when on a shoot. But I'm wondering if it's going to be a pain getting on and off rides at Disneyland. Do I want to carry it around my neck ALL day? Plus I'm worried if I'll end up SO worried about getting THE PICTURE that I'll forget to just have fun and live in the moment. I want to capture the moment, not ruin the moment. It is a dilemma.

I'm considering just taking my Powershot point and shoot. But wonder if I will regret that decision....

And then there is the question of whether or not to take the video camera. My iphone has video capability and is quite compact. Do I take my still camera only and depend on my phone for video moments? Or use my iphone for stills and take the camcorder? Because I draw the line at taking BOTH the DSLR and the camcorder. It has to be one or the other.

Advice, please! How can I most effectively navigate being both a mother and a photographer?

Monday, November 15, 2010


I think I need to clear up a little misunderstanding. On my last post the lovely Andria commented, "You're so cool and organized and you use holidays for teaching moments."

I would like to nip that little assumption in the bud. Trust me, I'm not as organized as I pretend to be. And to prove it, I'd like to give you a little run down of how my Veteran's Day really went.

I was awakened by my 3 year old. He excitedly ran into my room (at an hour way too early for him to be quite so chipper) and told me that the flag was flying in the front yard. (The local boy scouts do a yearly fund raiser in which they put a flag in your yard throughout the year for several of the holidays.) In my still groggy state I tried to conjure up in my memory what November Holiday warranted a flag in the yard.

I'm a little ashamed to admit that it took me a few minutes to figure out. But once I did my head started spinning about all the things I SHOULD be doing because it was Veterans Day.

So after breakfast and a quick shower I dashed down to the school room and started googling Veterans Day and kids activities.

I put Adam to work writing in his journal (an exercise I force him to do every morning even though he complains. See, I'm mean and make him write me AT LEAST 4 sentences. ) While he was writing I was quickly printing coloring sheets and a fact sheet about the history of the holiday.

I searched at great length the PBS kids website, hoping one of the shows had done a show about Veterans day. Seemed like the thing you might see on Arthur. But no such luck.

Of course, during this time Adam finished his journal entry and was bugging me about what he should do next. So I told him to write 2 more sentences. And draw a picture. And color the picture.

As for the younger kids, I told them to go upstairs and play for a few minutes. Which turned into 20 minutes.

But I was FINALLY ready to stab at teaching about Veterans day. It was halfway through reading the fact list on the history that the idea to check the History Channel's website occurred to me.

So as the kids colored I quickly jumped back onto the computer hoping the History Channel would come through for me, since PBS kids had not.

After reading about the Tomb of the Unknown Solider on my little fact sheet I decided I wanted to show the kids a picture. So Google became my friend, again. And it found me the youtube clip of the changing of the guard. Which was 10 minutes long. And my kids were bored of by about minute 4. (See I didn't tell you all this before. And you thought I had super kids, willing to sit still through anything.)

Next I forced my kids all to change their clothes. And they whined. And questioned why. But my perfect pictures of perfect kids wouldn't be perfect unless they were wearing patriotic colors. So I persevered through the questions and forced them to change into clothing of my choosing. Then I made them all sit still while I combed their hair. Because we can't have pictures of uncombed hair.

And then I forced them outside, into the wind, without coats. Because coats would cover up their patriotic clothes. And they complained about being cold. But I made them stand there anyway as I clicked away.


Good thing we still had these dollar store flags from the 4th of July. That was pure luck. Not planning ahead. Trust me.


I even made them march around a bit. It didn't work out so great.

Then I had in my head the idea for them to sing a song for their grandfathers. But I didn't have the music. Or a car. And Google failed me this time.

So I punted. I called my dad, hoping he was working from home. I knew the songbook I wanted was at his house and I hoped he could bring it to me and play the song for me as well. But no such luck.

So then I politely asked (practically begged) my brother to come over, stay with my kids, and let me take his car to get to my parent's for the music book. Luckily, he said yes.

But the difficulties were not at an end yet. Oh no. Because now I had to actually teach the song to the kids. Which, at one point resulted in me storming walking calming out of the front room in complete exasperation. I may even have said something like "I guess you guys just don't care about our Veterans. Apparently I'm the only one who wants to say thank you." Yea, not proud of that moment. But I'm just trying to keep it real for you here.

In the end they did sing the song. (I had to play it myself which was not as good as my dad playing for us....but I was punting, remember?)

And then I spent the next SEVERAL hours (too embarrassed to admit how many) trying to edit together pictures and the singing and the marching. Which means I kept telling the kids to go away and play. Sometimes very loudly.

And because I had holed myself up in the office trying to convert files that wouldn't convert and import files that wouldn't import I neglected to start dinner. Which means on the way to the concert we hit the Wendy's drive through.

And that, dear readers, is the truth behind my so called organized life.

Disappointed? It's okay, this always makes me feel better.

And as long as we are keeping it real, this post only took me about 12 hours to write. Yea, life with kids.

Friday, November 12, 2010

We Honor You

We took a break from our normal school work yesterday in order to spend the day learning about and appreciating our Veterans. I figured that since they have a grandfather and two great-grandfathers (one of which passed away last year) who are war Veterans that they needed to learn about the importance of this day.

First I read to the kids about the history of the holiday. Then we watched a couple of clips about it on the History Channel's website. We also watched a Youtube video showing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

At 11:00 am we observed a minute of silence.

And then I let them color for a while.





Then I taught them a song that we recorded and sent to their Grandfather and Great-grandfather to honor them on this important day.

Of course, I don't like to do things half way so I also took a bunch of pictures of the kids with flags.



I had every intention of editing the pictures over the top of them singing to make a cute little Veteran's Day salute. But my iphone captures video in .mov format. And use a PC. Which doen't play nicely with .mov. I downloaded a few file converter programs but after about 3 hours I was frustrated and gave up on the whole project and took the kids to a Veteran's Day concert instead.

Veterans Day Concert

I'm not sure if my kids totally understand yet, but I hope it's a start.

Glory, Glory Hallelujah

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


At church this week a gentlemen was extolling the virtues of motherhood and he said that he felt that there was a special place in heaven for mothers who go to the grocery store with more than 2 kids.

Seriously, if that's all it takes to get into heaven I'm about to be sainted any day now.

Trust me when I say that none of us mothers actually enjoy taking multiple children to the store with us. Really we don't. In fact, I put it off as long as humanly possible because it's stressful and tiring. I feel my blood pressure rising right now just thinking about it. Which is why I imagine a world were everyplace I need to go has a drive through.

The bank has a drive through. McDonald's has a drive through. But the post office does not. Neither does the grocery store. Or the library. And frankly, I see this as an enormous oversight.

In my fantasy world I could have milk, eggs, stamps, and library books all delivered directly to my car. No more of the endless bucking/unbuckling/re-buckling of kids' car seats. No more chasing children through the store as I painstakingly make my way ALL THE WAY to the BACK of the store, which is where the milk is ALWAYS located at EVERY store.

No more futile attempts to keep my children quiet and respectful as we wait in line just to buy stamps.

And no more over-due fines at the library on the half a dozen DVD's the kids talked me into checking out when I dash into the library for one single book I have on hold.

Please tell me this day is somewhere in my near future.

Picture 373

(Trust me, they are not quite as innocent as they appear.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

and the truth shall set you free

I've been keeping a secret. Mostly because when I mentioned it to some people just in passing the response was not positive. And as much as I pretend I don't care what other people think, sometimes I do. I want to be liked. I want to be accepted. Don't we all?

But this secret has become such a big part of my everyday life that it's becoming impossible to talk to people without letting it slip. And frankly it's becoming wearisome to try to have a normal conversation all the while thinking about not telling my secret.

So, I'm telling. And you can think I'm certifiably insane or you can think I'm the coolest mom ever or you can think I'm something right in between. The point is, I don't really care. This is my new reality and what you think doesn't change that.

I am home schooling my 1st grader.

There, I said it.

It was an agonizing decision. I cried. A lot. I have so many family members and friends who teachers. Let me rephrase that-who are GREAT teachers. People I love who have given years of service to public education. I, at times, felt like a traitor in their midst.

And to be fair I actually REALLY loved my son's teacher. My choice to bring him home was all the more difficult because I loved her and thought she was amazing was trying her very best to teach a classroom full of 6 and 7 year olds.

But that's just the problem. She had a classroom FULL. 27 to be exact. A handful of which are reading on a 2nd or 3rd grade reading level. And a larger group that barely knew their alphabet. I know because I volunteered each week reading with the students in the class.

And how can a single teacher give each individual student what they need when she has so many all on such different learning levels? She can't. But not for lack of trying. Because she is trying!

I did my best to work in the system. I volunteered more often, and talked to other parents trying to get them to volunteer more often as well. But that meant continually finding a babysitter for my 2 kids still at home. And most the other moms of kids in his class work so volunteering is not an option. I tried to get him moved to a different class. I read a stack of books that focused on helping boys succeeded in school. I asked for extra work to do with him at home, but after being as school for 7 hours the last thing he wanted to do was more work at home.

And in the end I realized that our kids aren't all cookies cut out of the same cookie cutter mold. They don't all learn the same. And my son wasn't thriving in the classroom environment that he was in.

I admit that this isn't the right choice for everybody. Like I said, kids aren't all cut out of the same mold. It just happened to be the choice that worked for us for now.

I'm also not sure if this is a long term solution. Right now I'm looking into lots of options. We've only been at it for 3 weeks and still trying to figure out a routine that works for us so it's too early to tell. But for now, it's what we're going with.

growing up

Monday, November 1, 2010

And thus goes my life

Every time I try to save money it ends up costing me money.


Like the time I wanted to re-do the kids' bedrooms and thought I'd save money by buying Ikea quilt covers to put over their existing comforters. The patterns on the old ones could be seen through the new covers, clashing terribly. Plus the old comforters shifted around so terribly in the new ones that I eventually ended up buying quilt batting, stuffing it inside thee quilt covers and typing them like quilts which, in the end, cost me just as much money plus lots more of my time then if I had just bought what I wanted in the first place.

Or the time I wanted new curtains for my family room. I found the ones I liked. But feeling like they were not in the budget I found a really cool blanket at Ikea (again at Ikea....maybe Ikea is my problem) that I cut up and hemmed up to make the curtains. Only problem was that the first time I washed them they shrunk and were now smaller then the windows. After a few weeks I was so frustrated with the too tiny curtains that ended up back at Target and just bought the ones I had wanted in the first place.

This is how I do things apparently.

See-every year I think that it will be cheaper if I make the kids' Halloween costumes. Now, I've heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I have been a mom for 6 1/2 years now. You would think I would learn that making Halloween costumes is ALWAYS a nightmare. But somehow I always seem to forget.

So this year was no different. (And now you already know how this story is going to end.)

Zoey wanted to be a witch so I found some black and orange tights for $3 and thought it would be really cute to make her a black tutu. I went to 4 different Wal-marts only find they were ALL out of black tulle already (even though it wasn't even October yet) so I ended up at JoAnn. I had a 40% coupon so I decided to splurge and get the glittery black tulle only to find out that I couldn't actually use my coupon because it was already 20% off. Which means sticker shock at the cash register when my 2 yards rang up the almost $8.

I then found an orange sheer curtain at Walmart on the clearance aisle for $2 and bought it, too.

Then I walked into Target and found an already made black tutu (complete with silver stars) for 10 bucks. Yea, you do the math!

But since I can't return cut fabric I already felt committed to making it. So I grumbled all the way home to my sewing machine.

I had no idea what I was going to do with my $10 worth of fabric but in the end this is what I ended up with.



I'd like to give you a tutorial on how I made the skirt but I really was making it up as I went and I have no idea what I did. This also might be a good time to mention that the glittery tulle was not such a great idea, cost aside. I forget that glitter goes everywhere and sticks to everything!

For her top I took a spool or orange ribbon from the dollar store and hand stitched in a criss-cross pattern onto a cheap black shirt from Walmart.


And the hat was from the dollar section at Target with some orange tulle hot glued to it.


I was going to hot glue some more ribbon around where I hot glued it but ran out of oompf.

And so now I guess you're expecting a picture of the little witch.

Well, ask and ye shall receive. Ask nicely.....

Well, okay, since you did say please.

Gardner Village-26

So, in the end it cost me money and LOTS more time to make it myself. But the consolation prize is that next year she can wear an orange shirt and be a pumpkin using the same skirt.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All the Single Ladies

Okay, I have to admit that I got that idea for a title from my friend Emilee.

She was asked by our Young Women president to come take picture of all the Young Women in our ward and Emilee graciously asked me come along as her second shooter.

Can I just say shooting teenage girls is so much different then shooting toddlers?

All of them are exceptionally beautiful young ladies. I really mean that. I hope they all know how beautiful they are!

I know all photographers say this, but it's hard to pick just a few of my favorite. It really does feel like trying to pick my favorite child.








Monday, October 11, 2010

A treasure beyond measure

A little over a month ago I had the opportunity of taking pictures for a Primary (children's Sunday School) activity. It was a Grandparent's "T" Party.

A couple of weeks before the event I was able to watch portions of the CreativeLIVE Jasmine Star workshop Jasmine Star is a very successful wedding photographer, and although I don't aspire to wedding photography I never turn down the opportunity to learn ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I can about photography, so I tuned in.

At one point Jasmine talked about attending a Zack Arias One Light Workshop (who was the keynote speaker at Photocamp Utah last year and is, by the way, TOTALLY AMAZING!) and him telling a story about a man wanted to shoot the World Series. (The story was probably about a now super famous sports photographer, and I'm totally messing up the story by not being able to tell you WHO he was....but it is what it is. I've got 3 kids-only so much info stays in my head at any one time.) Anyway, the point is, the only gigs he was getting was shooting Jr. League T-ball. And for a long time he shot the games like he was shooting Jr. League T-Ball. Until one day he realized that he needed to start shooting even T-ball games like he was shotting the World Series. And, so of course, you know what happened. Once he changed his mindset it wasn't too long before was, in fact, shooting the World Series.

I likely massacred that story, but hopefully the underlying message remains. At any rate it inspired me to change my mindset. I didn't want to go into this thinking "Oh, I'm just shooting a primary activity." I wanted to be as serious and professional and creative as possible.

Jasmine also talked a lot about building your brand as a photographer. She has 3 words she uses to describe her own photography and every picture she takes should be a reflection of those 3 words. She encouraged the photographers who were attending her workshop live to pick their own three words.

I don't know that I'm to the point of picking 3 words to describe all my photography, but I decide to go into this particular assignment with 3 words.

Since it was an activity for grandparents I chose as my 3 words: vintage, antique, priceless. Because that's what I think of grandparents. They are not old junk. They are antique-something that maybe has been around a little while, but that very thing is what makes them of great value.

So armed with my 3 words I set about trying to create that feel. I got this idea in my head that I wanted an old barn door to use as a backdrop. Amazing photographer and all around nice guy, Rich Legg, came to the rescue and loaned me a very weathered section of wood fencing. It was perfect!

So, enough talk already! What you really want to see is some of the pictures.

Remember, I was going for VINTAGE, ANTIQUE, PRICELESS.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Brightly Colored

At church yesterday my boys were wearing bright polo shirts and my daughter a bright pink polo dress. My friend saw them in the hall and commented that what they were wearing would make great picture outfits. Which was so funny that she would say that because that's exactly what they were! We had our family picture taken a few months ago by the very talented and all around super nice guy Rich Legg

See, here we are in our brightly colored polo shirts.

that's us!

My mom saw the pictures and said we looked like colored Easter Eggs.

Zoey was hamming it up for the camera!

miss "take my picture"

Adam was his typical goofy self

His goofy face

And Harrison was looking WAAAAY too grown up!

looking TOO grown up!

you want me to what?

Thanks again Rich!!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Choo Choo

Now that I blogged out of order I inadvertantly gave myself permission to pretty much blog about whatever I want, whenever I want. Do you have any idea how freeing that feels? I seriously should've done this a long time ago! My blog may not have been so neglected for so long if I had.

So today, I picked, at random, something I have been intending to blog about.

Way back in March (yes, 5 months ago!!!!) I went to a Photowalking Utahphoto walk at the Union Station in Ogden.

I took my oldest son, Adam. He loves cameras and trains so it seemed the perfect opportunity to take him on his very first photo walk.

Here are some of my favorites from the day.


watch your step
Watch Your Step

restoration shop
Restoration Shop



christmas lights in march
Christmas lights in March