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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Slowing Down

The last two weeks I've been moving at break neck speed. I've been exhausted and stressed. My body has ached, my anxiety has been high, and I've more of less taken horrible care of my body through it all. Not enough sleep, eating all the wrong food, etc. etc. etc.

But today we reached a milestone. A BIG one. ALL of our stuff is FINALLY at our new home. It took us almost a week, and 2 U-haul trucks plus a lot of other driving back and forth in our car for all the "small stuff." But it's done now. The rental house is cleared out, cleaned up, and keys returned. We have officially closed the door on that chapter of our Arizona adventure. And I couldn't be happier about it!

Don't misunderstand, there is still a LOT of work left to do! I'm sitting on the floor surrounded by boxes that will likely takes weeks to unpack. Both garages are full of things that were just tossed in haphazardly so we could get the firsts U-haul returned before incurring yet another day's charges. There are 5 ceiling fans still in boxes sitting under my stairs and even more curtains waiting to be hung. (Nothing like moving into a new home with no window coverings to make you feel like you are living in a fishbowl.) The kitchen table is still buried. Clothes are still in suitcases.

But we are here! We have beds to sleep in and the kids feel like each day is Christmas as we find and unpack one more box of "lost" toys.

And I finally feel like I can slow down. I embrace the fact that it will take weeks (maybe months) to feel settled in and I can relax a little. I can take time to take my kids to the park again. (The weather is finally cooling down so such an activity is actually pleasant now.) I can go to bed at a decent hour. I can work my body without completely beating it up. I can take the time to eat a decent, healthy meal. I can take a morning to go volunteer at school. I can watch a movie or read a book or take a bubble bath! Because if this is going to take weeks anyway, what's the rush?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby Steps

All those stairs

 I just got up and I already want to go back to bed. Partially because I am still tired, but mostly because moving day is now less then a week away and I haven't yet begun to pack. I packed up some of the kids' toys last week but I haven't yet REALLY started to pack. Every time I try I stare at everything not knowing where to even start, then I get overwhelmed so then I just find something else to do instead. I just can't seem to wrap my head around the idea of moving again. I am very ready to be in our new home I just wish I didn't have to go through all the hassle of moving. It just feels like I JUST did it! It hasn't been long enough for me to forget what a pain it is. And this time we are really on our own to do it. Maybe that's why it's so hard this time. I just keep imagining me being the only person helping my husband lug heavy furniture up the stairs. All those stairs! What was I thinking?

I guess deep DEEP down inside I know things will somehow work out. I just wish I could convince the growing knot in the pit of my stomach of that.

I guess I just need to start somewhere. Baby steps, right? So, now it's time to get to work. I have some packing to do.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Piping hot bowl of Crazy


There was a line in an episode of Scrubs in which JD refers to Elliot as a piping hot bowl of crazy. My husband laughed and laughed at this line, and has quoted it many times since.

Unfortunately, that is likely how the lady at the utilities department now describes me to all her friends and coworkers.

I'd like to blame it on the anxiety of the impending move and the associated anxiety and stress of getting ready to close on a new home.

Although that may have accounted for some of my craziness today, I think I mostly just got tired of stupid bureaucratic rules that I feel powerless to change.

I called the city utility company today to arrange for the water to be turned on, and the lady on the phone asked for my Social Security Number. I had already talked with both the gas and electric company who both also requested my SSN, so this request didn't surprise me. I declined to give it to her, as I had with the gas and electric company. Both the gas and electric companies wanted it so they could do a soft credit pull to make sure I was going to pay for my utilities should they go to the effort of turning them on for me. Upon refusing to give my SSN both utility companies instead assessed an up front deposit that will be refunded once I have made 12 on time payments. This is not a practice that I'm thrilled about. It sort of feels like a "guilty until proven innocent" approach. I mean what happened to just turning my power off if I don't pay? But, the deposit is refundable and it gets me out of giving my SSN. So I pay the deposit.

I assumed the city utilities would have a similar policy, so I politely declined to give my SSN. The lady on the phone informed me that I would then have to come into the office in person and provide identification before they would agree to service. And so I loaded my 3 kids up on the car and drove an hour to the City offices because it is that important to me to not give out my SSN unless absolutely necessary.

Upon arriving at the office I provide my ID and then the gal behind the desk again asks me for the SSN. I explain to her that I was under the impression that if I came personally into the office I wouldn't have to give it. I explain that I packed up my 3 kids and drove an hour specifically to avoid giving that information. She proceeds to explain that she is sorry I misunderstood but I still have to give my number, coming into the office was just to prevent me from having to give it over the phone.

At this point I'm starting to get mad because loading my kids in the car was NOT the way I wanted to spend my afternoon and now she was telling me it was all for nothing anyway. Assuming she wants my number in order to do a credit check I provide her with a copy of my credit report (with my number blacked out) that was given me by my lender.

At this point she explains to me that they don't do a credit check. The purpose of providing my SSN is merely to provide a unique identifier so that when I call on the phone they can assure they are talking to me. She tells me, "It's a security measure."  So just to clarify I ask, "so basically you are just using it as a PIN?" She confirms that they ONLY reason they want my SSN is to use it as a PIN.

So of course I ask-why can't you just assign me a randomly generated 9 digit number then. As long as I know it and you know it it provides the same amount of security when I call on the phone without the exposure and risk associated with giving you my SSN.

Her response? "It's just our policy to use your SSN?"

"And what if I refuse to give it to you?"

"Then we will refuse service."

"What is to stop me from giving you a bogus number?"

"I guess if you feel good lying to me."

"Well that's just the thing. I don't want to lie to you. But I need water turned on at my house and I see NO need for you to have my SSN. So what choice does that leave me?"

The conversation went back and forth like this for quite some time. I tell her about how my Dr's office was at one point hacked and my SSN was compromised.The office then had to provide credit monitoring for everybody whose records were compromised and had opened themselves up for a class action lawsuit and this is what the city was opening themselves up to with their antiquated policy of requiring a SSN. Her response was that in all the time she's worked there they have never had any problems. To which I replied by saying that no problems in the past doesn't guarantee no problems in the future because let's face it, their little office isn't exactly Fort Knox.

I may or may not have used a few, shall we say, choice words. (Ok, I did.) I asked several times to speak to a supervisor, which she continued to refuse to let me do. We argued around and around and around in circles until I was so angry I was literally shaking and on the verge of tears all at once.

I swear I'm not typically "that" customer. This confrontation was so not typical of me. But something inside just snapped.

In the end, I am sad to admit, I gave her my number because bottom line is that I have to have water at my new house. I wish I had given her a bogus number. I'm typically a very honest person so I'm not proud of the idea of giving a fake number. But I'm not too fond of the idea of them having my SSN either. Really the only reason I didn't give a fake one is because I was so worked up at that point that I couldn't think straight enough to come up with something that I'd remember later.

I have since though written to the Utility Billing Administrator (yes, that is a real job title) explaining my dislike of the current policy and requesting that my number be scrubbed from their system and that I be assigned a random 9 digit number as in PIN. I cited Section 7 of the Privacy Act  of 1974 (thank you Google!) that says

"It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number."  Sec. 7(a)(1).

I don't know that you can interpret water and sewer service to be a "privilege provided by law" but it's a start anyway.

I also intend to write a letter to the City Council as well as to the Mayor if needs be.

Is their policy outdated and in need of revision?Defiantly! Am I getting just a tad worked up this? Perhaps. Am I a piping hot bowl of crazy? You bet! But I've never heard of a single person who changed the world by rolling over and playing dead.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Form Vs. Function Follow-up

Thanks to everybody who weighed in on my Form Vs. Function dilemma.

In the end we ended up with a completely different fan that wasn't even originally in the running.

Zoomed: Hunter 52" Alden Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan

This fan is brushed nickel, has 52" blades, and holds 6 40 watt bulbs (for a total output of 240 watts). The biggest downside of this fan is the downrod mount but that is made up for in the fact that this fan was only $39. Yes. $39. (It appears to be an old model that they are clearing out.)

Yes, when I realized I could get 8 of this fan delivered to my door for $344 the decision was easy.

In this instance turns out price was king.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Form Vs. Function

We've been shopping for ceiling fans. Turns out when you build a home in AZ they don't actually put light fixtures in the bedrooms or living areas. Instead you get a switched outlet and the idea is that you plug in a floor lamp.

I am not a fan of a floor lamp being my only light source plus I am a huge fan of ceiling fans so we optioned to have the bedroom and living areas pre-wired for ceiling fans. But it is just that-a pre-wire. No fans included.

At Lowes yesterday we found a fan that Mike is in love with and a fan that I am in love with. And this is a classic Mars vs. Venus scenario. Mike is completely focused on functionality and I am fixated on style.

Here is the fan I like.


I like it because:

-It is brushed nickel, which is the color of the hardware throughout the house
-It is decently sized with 52" blades
-It holds 4 40 watt bulbs, for a total light output of 120 watts
-I hate when you look at a light fixture and you stare straight at the light bulbs-this fan solves that problem in what I think, is a very stylish, unique fashion.

Here is the fan Mike likes.

Zoomed: Hunter 60" Regalia Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan
He likes it better because:

-It, too, is brushed nickle to match our hardware
-It has bigger blades-60" to be exact, which means more air flow
-It hold 3 60 watt bulbs, for a total light output of 180 watts
-This fan has an option for flush mount. The one I like requires downrod mounting, which can sometimes lead to more wobbling at higher speeds
-This fan also hides the bare bulbs for softer/diffused lighting but I argue it's a more traditional way of achieving that, and is not nearly as stylish.

So what do you think? What is more important.....Form or Function????

Monday, August 29, 2011


Do you ever feel like you are drowning in your own life? I am so craving some normalcy and organization and order to my life right now. I think a big part of it comes from living in this temporary house right now and having half my life still in boxes in the garage.

I actually thought that having less stuff unpacked would mean I'd feel more organized and put together. I thought it would be a chance to try out a new Zen lifestyle. But I find that it just makes me more unorganized then ever. For example all the office is all packed so I don't have my paper filing system in place. So papers from school pile up all over. I mean it's just little stuff like that but lots of little stuff is starting to add up and I don't feel like I have a handle on any part of my life.

The 2 1/2 hours spent in the car each day running to and from school isn't helping any, either.

I literally have 6 half finished blog posts. And ideas for half a dozen more. I'm flowing with ideas-but never have 20 uninterrupted minutes to get any of them out!

So while I try to catch up with my life if you have a minute today tell me your favorite, easy, inexpensive time management/organization tip. I could use ALL the help I can get!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Things that touched and inspired me today.

Courage is a Heart Word over at Brene Brown's Ordinary Courage Blog

We Can't Escape our Essence over at Andrea Scher's Superhero Journal

Monday, August 8, 2011


I am ALMOST ready to write about my experience at Skip's Summer School last week. I just need a little bit longer. A little more time to recover from the small wounds of vulnerability and to fully embrace the magic of vulnerability. (Don't you find it amazing how it can be both at the very same time?!?!?!)

In the meantime, something a little funny to make you smile today. Because I'm a giver like that.

A few weeks ago I sent a text message to my parents with a picture of our new driveway.

Driveway and slab were poured this morning.

A few days later we found ourselves stopped at a red light right next to the construction site for the Gilbert, Arizona Temple. So of course I snapped a picture and sent it to my parents.

Gilbert, AZ Temple

Weeks later my dad sends me the following email:

"A while back you sent a picture of your foundation and driveway being poured. Not long after that you sent a picture of the Gilbert Temple going up. I didn't read the caption and was very surprised to see how big your new house was going to be...."

(Thanks for the chuckle, dad. Hope you don't mind me sharing it! If you do, it's too late. I already did!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Not yet

I am home from my trip to Skip's Summer School in Las Vegas. Everybody keeps asking how it was, and I want to tell you. REALLY I do!

But you see, I'm still kind of processing it all and although parts of it were great, other parts left me a little bit broken. So I don't think I can write about it.....yet.

But I will.

In the meantime I will share this.

Sunday morning before Summer School started I was having brunch at the Paris buffet. From among all the things I could choose from to eat I decided to grab a fortune cookie. I honestly didn't even want to eat it. Part of me just needed a good fortune. I was feeling a bit nervous about what lie ahead of me and I think I was looking for a little comfort or encouragement.

I don't think it was by accident that I chose the cookie that contained this fortune.

Keep true to the dreams of your Youth.

A simple enough message. Little did I know how much I would need this message in the upcoming days.

Monday at lunchtime I was feeling particularly exposed and vulnerable. I slipped over to grab some lunch at the food court across the street. I was standing in line for Chipotle but the line was long and taking forever and adjacent was a Panda Express that had no line at all. So, I jumped lines and grabbed some Orange Chicken. Which meant I also got another unexpected fortune cookie.

Stay Close to your inner-self.
 You will benefit in many ways.

Once again, the perfect message to encourage me when I was struggling.

I'm still trying to piece together all my thoughts and feelings about my experiences over the last week. I feel like I am on the pinnacle of an important decision and I don't want to rush into it. But whatever I choose I will be forever grateful for these two little gems of wisdom sent to inspire me at a time that I needed it most.

You may call it coincidence, but I call it a remarkable blessing!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Terrified... mortified... petrified... stupefied... by you

I wanted to write this post about how I am beginning to have a bunch of fears associated with my upcoming trip to Vegas for Skip's Summer School, and thought that since I haven't done a Name that Movie Monday in a while I'd throw one in as my title. Fitting, right?

I know, it's not Monday. So sue me.

Actually don't. We went back to our builder this week and opted for the wrought iron banister and so now they want more money. (Go figure.)

But I digress.

I leave for Vegas in 16 days, and with each passing day I grow a little more terrified. I'm excited, yes, of course. But I'm also terrified.

Why? Well because......

....everybody else is going to have a better portfolio then me.

....everybody is going to have a better camera then me. (I shoot a Rebel XSi)

....everybody has more lenses then I do. (I own exactly two)

....I prefer to shoot JPEG

....what if I prove definitely that I don't know the difference between an f-stop and a pit stop?

....I have nothing to wear!

....I've put on a few pounds. (okay more then a few.....) pedicure is about worn off and I don't have time or $ for a new one before I go.

I know what you are thinking-clothes and pedicures have NOTHING to do with photography. You try telling that to my irrational fears.

I feel this added level of anxiety because I was hand picked from nearly 100 other photographers to attend Summer School on Scott Bourne's dime (he picked 10 of us total) and what if I am a disappointment? What if he ends up wishing he had picked some other deserving photographer instead?

I am determined to prove that he didn't make a wrong choice. So I've spent this week re-reading my camera manual. I may "only" have a Rebel, but I can know it forwards and backwards.

I've been reading up a little more on all sorts of aspects of lighting so that I don't feel lost in any of my workshops.

I've been re-watching my Zack Arias downloads from CreativeLIVE.

I've been reading my Shutter Sisters book.

But mostly I've been praying that I won't make a complete fool of myself.

Which is why I am SO glad that Skip Cohen posted this on his blog today.

According to this post 41% of attendees meet his definition of "newbie." That makes me feel like at least I won't be the only one there terrified of making a fool of themselves. It also means I am going to try harder to go out of my way to make others feel safe and comfortable there, because I am hoping others will be doing the same for me.

Also, according the Skip's post he has gotten a large number of questions from new photographers worried about fitting in. He says he has even been ask "what should I wear?"

Yea!!!! I'm not the only one freaking out about what I should wear!!!!

I'm still terrified. But at least now I'm feeling a little less mortified and petrified.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


One of the lessons in the Mondo Beyondo course is about vulnerability. We all try to hard to be so guarded all the time, trying to never open ourselves up to being hurt or ridiculed or embarrassed or shamed. So we put, what we consider to be, our best foot forward. We hide secret parts of ourselves and sometimes those secret parts are the very thing that makes us who we are. But, we're shy or embarrassed or afraid, so we keep it under wraps, pretend to be who we think other want us to be.

But sometimes daring to be just a little bit vulnerable is just the key to opening up new doors.

So I've been toying with some ideas, and trying vulnerability on for size. And I had this idea the other day. I was painting, because I'm always painting these days. I had the tunes cranked and was singing as dancing along as I rolled paint on the walls. Because this is what I do. I sing and dance. All the time. Not that I'm particularly good at either. But I like it. No, I LOVE it. My husband laughs at me a lot. And claims that I wished my life was a musical. (I tell him my life IS a musical, just nobody else has learned the choreography yet.)

Just for a minute I got brave. I set up iPhone up on the step ladder, turned the camera on, and was just me for 5 minutes. I painted. I danced. I sang. I painted a little more. I danced some more. I painted to the beat of the music. All in a day's work for me.

I had every intention of then posting that video here on my blog, because that would be a HUGE exercise in vulnerability.

But I couldn't do it. It's a tad too embarrassing. A tad too real.

Well actually I was going to suck it up and just post it before I could have second thoughts. But I asked my husband if he would be embarrassed for me if I put it on my blog....and he hesitated, just the slightest bit. So then I got all worried that it was even worse then I thought it was and I chickened out.

So there will be no video of me busting a move with a blue paint roller in my hand. At least not today. I think maybe that was like jumping into the deep end of vulnerability and maybe what I need is to just dip my toe in. Test the waters before I drown in them.

Do you have any stories about being vulnerable? How did they turn out?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's about more then just the color of the walls

Yesterday I was painting walls, again. I feel like I have been painting walls for an eternity now. I literally have blisters and callouses on my hands from gripping a paint roller. Painting an entire house in a week is a LOT of work.

So there I am, all alone. My hands hurt and my neck hurt and my arms hurt. I started to question why I was going to all this effort. Yes, the walls were all neon yellow and florescent orange. And no, I didn't want to live in a house with neon yellow and florescent orange walls. But it WAS just a rental. And really we are just staying for 5, maybe 6 months until our home is done. And I started to think that all the people who said we were CRAZY for going to so much effort to paint a rental were right. Maybe we were in over our heads. Maybe it really wasn't worth all this.

The conversation with myself was negative, and exhausting and I had to get out of my own head.

So I started listening to some of my Mondo Beyondo interviews.

Shortly I came to the one where Jen Lemen interviews Kelly Rae Roberts. Jen talked about how Kelly's entire house was a place were dreams could thrive. And then they spent the next 15 minutes talking about how important it is to create a physical environment that is conducive to dreaming. A space that is YOU. Where your essence is at home, at peace.

And suddenly felt so glad we had made the CRAZY choice to paint. Even though this house is just a rental. Even though we will only be here for 5-6 months.

Because it is 5-6 whole months! And moving to Arizona in the first place was ALL about following dreams and following our crazy intuition and taking risks and finding out who we are. And what a shame if all that was sucked up in the neon yellow and florescent orange walls. How sad would it have been to lose our momentum and excitement because we were always hating those neon yellow and florescent orange walls.

Painting was no longer about the color of the walls. Painting was suddenly about creating a safe space for my dreams to thrive, because my dreams (and I should add my husband's dreams) are big enough and important enough and sacred enough to go to all this effort. At that moment painting the walls became almost spiritual to me. (Don't laugh, I'm being serious.) Making the walls clean and fresh and pretty again took on the feeling of a ritual cleansing of sorts, and it was no longer drudgery. It was a work that I was thrilled to be a part of.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The little things

Last week had a few rough patches.

One of the things that pulled me through was looking for small things to be grateful for.

The 97 cent spray bottle from Walmart. Every time I got so hot I thought I was going to literally melt into the pavement I had one of the kids spray me down with some cool water. Did the trick every time.

A furniture dolly/hand truck.

A ramp from the trucking company that was wide enough for the furniture dolly. At one point I was feeling tired beyond limit. Even with the furniture dolly unloading the truck was taking extreme effort and I wanted to quit. As I was directing one load down the ramp I noticed how narrow the ramp was, and how the wheels for the dolly really just barely fit. I was suddenly aware of what a wonderful thing that was!

A landlord who happened to have a fully furnished rental around the corner that he was willing to let us stay in. Oh how wonderful it was to have a clean spot to eat a meal. A bed to sleep in that wasn't surrounded by the chaos of moving. I know that was a luxury most people aren't afforded when moving.

My iPod full of tunes that kept me moving, kept my spirits up.

Kids who have been mature beyond their age and have found ways to play together and entertain themselves and help one another out. My kids have been amazing little troopers and have rolled with the punches in an amazingly inspiring way.

A husband who was patient with me when I needed 10 minutes (or maybe a little more) to let the overwhelming feelings flow in and be experienced so they could flow back out.

A healthy body. It may have been sore and tired but it just kept doing what I needed it to do. I spent a lot of time thinking about my dear friend, MaeLynne, and how her last months were spent in near constant pain, her body refusing to work the way it was supposed to. My body was just stiff and tired.

We are still working hard this week. The truck is unloaded but there is still a lot to do before we are "at home" but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm going to Summer School

I hate to boast-but life really is good right now.

Yes, we are still wandering gypsies without a place to call home.

Yes I am sore from painting for the last 3 days straight and I still have 6 more rooms to paint.

Yes I still have a 28' foot moving truck to unload before Monday morning.

And yes, I am feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed and afraid and tired.

But life is still good.

Maybe it is the Arizona sun after a long, dreary Utah winter followed by an abysmal spring full of day after day after day of clouds and rain.

Maybe it is the excitement and hope that I am infused with from my participation in Mondo Beyondo.

Maybe it is all the time I've been spending with my husband and kids. (We have taken family togetherness to an whole new level these last few weeks.)

Or maybe it's a little of all the above added with just a pinch of magic.

There truly must be some sort of magic involved because yesterday something truly magical happened.

I have had my eye on going to Skip's Summer School for quite some time now. But things were all up in the air as far as when we were moving, and where exactly we would end up. Plus there was the expense of moving itself. So I just kept quietly wishing I could go, but telling myself it wasn't likely to happen.

So yesterday morning I was quickly scanning my twitter feed before heading out to go paint some more when I saw this tweet from Scott Bourne.

Scott was offering to pay for 10 photographers to attend Skips Summer School. I read it and my heart skipped a beat. And I got butterflies in my stomach. And my gut told me I needed to respond. NOW. I went through the negative self talk about how 100's would likely respond why should I win and that I had SO much to get done today I didn't have time.......but I silenced my self-doubt and sat down and composed a simple email to Scott.

Then I went to work. I had a house to paint. I figured it would be a day or two before winners were announced anyway.

I had an email back from Scott in less than an hour. It simply said "Hi Nicole. You're in. See you at Summer School."

I stood there in stunned silence, a paint roller in one hand, my iPhone in the other.

And the surprises were just beginning. A short time later I received a phone call from Skip Cohen to finalize my registration for Summer School. Not a secretary or an assistant, but Skip himself. And he asked me about me, and what I wanted to accomplish, and directed me towards the classes as summer school that he thought would most help reach my desired goals. It was an extremely surreal experience. And the REALLY fun stuff is still to come!

All because I wrote one little email.

Yes, life IS good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Beginnings

I just wanted to let my faithful followers know (all 4 of you) that I have started a new project and blog.

It is my 365 day photo challenge. A photo a day for a year, starting on our first day in AZ.

Head on over for further details and join us on our new adventure.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Hard to part with

I wrote the above caption on that box 8 years ago, when we were packing to move into our home. In case you can't read it, it says "Nicole's tapes that she needs to chuck but she can't yet-still emotionally attached".

We were newlyweds, moving into our very first house together, with a baby on the way. So much was new and exciting, but a part of me just needed to hang onto those tapes. I knew they were outdated. I never actually listened to them anymore because, well, my CD's produced much better sound quality. Plus iPods and other mp3 players were all the rage. I mean NOBODY was still listening to tapes. But I still couldn't part with them.

Those tapes were the soundtrack of my childhood and teenage years. They contained the songs that got me over the heartbreak of losing class elections, or a friend who was gossiping behind my back at school, the songs of celebration when I aced a hard test. They were a part of who I was I just needed to hang onto them just a little longer.

Fast forward to now, 8 years later. I have spent the better part of 2 months cleaning, and dejunking and packing up my house. 8 years and 3 kids later we've accumulated a lot of "stuff." I found myself easily tossing or donating things I didn't want or need anymore. So many things in my house just seemed to be weighing me down, holding me back. I was looking forward to the new adventure ahead, to the new beginning that this move would mean, and much of that stuff I was content to leave in my past.

As I got rid of the physical "junk" a strange thing started to happen. I found myself getting rid of other things that were holding me back. Letting go of relationships that were no longer serving me. Saying good-bye to old habits that were draining my time and energy. Deleting blogs from my reader that no longer inspired me. Unfollowing people on Twitter who were just trying to sell me something. Anything that wasn't serving a specific, positive purpose in my life was slowly disappearing. It was like doing one of those popular juice cleanses, but without all the extra time in the bathroom.

But then the other day as I was packing the office I came across that box of tapes. They were still in the same box I had packed them in 8 years ago, the quickly scrawled sharpie marker message still (mostly) readable, a thick layer of dust on top. I haven't even opened the box in all the years I've lived here.

But despite my recent rash of purging I didn't toss this box in the garbage can. Instead I lovingly wiped the dust from the top, and carefully opened the box to glance at my past. And decided that part of my past still serves me. It is a part of me. And so I closed the box back up and placed it on the pile of boxes to be loaded on the moving truck.

Because no matter how far I move, or how many new adventures I start, or how many times I try to "re-invent" myself-the true inner me remains the same. My core values remain unchanged. And I think those things are quite alright to hang onto.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Daring to Dream

Dear Universe,

I get the message. You REALLY want me to stop making excuses, stop being scared, and to finally start following my dreams. I know it's taken me awhile, and I don't always pay attention to the messages you send me, but I'm paying attention now. How could I not be? You are screaming at me loud and clear!!!!

In ways too numerous to mention you paved the way and put all the pieces in place for our upcoming move to AZ.

Then you inspired Andrea and Jen to offer a two for one on Mondo Beyondo. And then you inspired my soul sister Andria to invite me to be her "plus one" for the whole adventure.

Then Saturday when we ordered Chinese food this was my fortune in my fortune cookie.


Then you used Sunday's post on Shutter Sisters to make sure I was REALLY getting the point. How could I not get the message when the post started with this quote:

"We need to find inspiration whenever we can, because when we're spiritually tuned in, everything is a clue pointing us in the right direction."- Sarah Ban Breathnach, Peace and Plenty

So today, as Mondo Beyondo begins I'm listening. I'm jumping in with both feet. I'm ready to find the path you are trying to lead me to. I'm finding the clues. I'm making room for stillness.

Let the dreaming begin!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"You may be right, I may be CRAZY. But is just may be a lunatic you're looking for."

Most couples have a song. And, generally speaking, that song is romantic.

Billy Joel's You May Be Right is our song.

Even after nearly 9 years of marriage we frequently quote the lyrics to each other. "If I'm crazy then it's true, that it's all because of you, and you wouldn't want me any other way." That's just the way we roll.

And, truth be told, we both are a little crazy. But we are each our own unique brand of crazy, and somehow we compliment each other perfectly.

My husband is the type who washes his hands 10 times after being in a public place, and who will drive around the block 3 times just to MAKE SURE he closed the garage. He also MUST hear the beep the sound makes when you lock the car from the keyless entry 3 times before he is REALLY SURE the car is actually locked.

Me, on the other hand, will often walk out of Target only to find I never actually locked the car.

I have my own version of crazy though. For instance, when I was packing for our Disneyland vacation I would pick one day's clothes for a child (Shirt, pants, socks, underwear) and then roll that day's clothing all together, put the whole roll down in a gallon size zip lock bag, and then write the child's name on the bag. (Yes, I really did that!!!) That way each day I could quickly account for if I had packed enough clothes for everybody, plus then each day on vacation I pulled out one bag for each child and just handed it to them and knew they had everything they needed to get dressed.

So yesterday I called my sister-in-law and told her that packing to move was bringing out all my crazy. I said "I always knew I was a little OCD....." to which she proceeded to laugh hysterically, then between tears said "I love that you think you're just a little crazy." (I'd be offended, except that she is right!)

See, I was packing toys yesterday, and I couldn't bring myself to just toss all the toys together in a big box. I would first pack each individual type of toy in it's own zip-loc bag and then put the bags into a bigger box.

So as I sat on the floor of my daughter's room separating Fairy shoes from Princess shoes (because heaven forbid fairies should mingle with princesses) I realized just how crazy I really am.

Even the baby dolls got packed away in their own bags to keep them from getting dusty or dirty.

And yes, I do get that it looks like they are in body bags. Which amuses me to no end, which also makes me a little crazy.

Last week I had packed all the Lightening McQueen-type cars and toys, and clearly labeled the box. Then taped up the box and moved it to the basement.

Then yesterday, way in the back of a closet, I found Flo.

A normal person would've just tossed her in with the Hot Wheels since there is an entire box of them as well, and that box isn't sealed up. But no, my OCD required that I go downstairs, cut open the already sealed box, dig to the bottom to find the cars that are just this size, open the zip-loc bag, place Flo inside, reseal the bag, repack the box, then reseal the box.

Yup! You may be right, I may be crazy!!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Practice! Practice! and then Practice some more!!!!


I always leave the house for a shoot feeling like it's going to be the BEST SHOOT EVER!!!!

Usually I just read a new photography book, or watched a creativeLIVE workshop and I feel like I now know everything I need to know to rock the shoot.

But then I get there and the baby is in a bad mood.


Or the sun is in the exact wrong place and everybody has to squint. (Okay, or maybe the photographer is just in the wrong place.....)


Or I take a picture that I love, only to get home and find that it is woefully blurry!!!!!


There are just so many stinking variables to account for all the time. The professionals make it all look so very easy! But I, at times, find it all so overwhelming.

Yet-the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice!!!!

So, as always, a big thanks to all my guinea pigs who let me practice on them. Like the lovely Burton Family.


Sometimes the key is to just sit back and wait for the moment....






And let's be honest...sometimes I just take a ton and pray for one to turn out just right.




But at the end of the day I'm just so happy to be out doing something I love. (And I don't mean that in a cliché way. I mean it in the I really have fun doing it even if my pictures don't turn out 100% the way I had hoped kind of way.)


Thursday, April 21, 2011


That is a picture my husband took of me taking this picture.

Which really has NOTHING to do with this post.

My brother-in-law once said that he was impressed by my ability to get things done.

This particular ability of mine has less to do with work ethic or organization and more to do with impatience. When I decide I want something done I want it done NOW!!!! Just ask my husband, he'll concur.

Like the time I was driving home late at night and saw the neighborhood clean-up dumpsters out and upon arriving home made my husband rip out the carpet in the family room because we could throw it in the dumpsters that night. Never mind that we didn't have new flooring yet. Or that we hadn't even talked about new flooring. I just decided I wanted it done and I wanted it done NOW.

That's the way I roll.

So I'm sure you can imagine that for an impatient person like myself waiting is about the hardest thing in world for me to do.

Which is why I am doing everything in my power to fill today up with busy work that occupies my mind so that I can stop thinking about the fact that I am waiting.

Waiting on something that I have done as much as I could possibly do about and is now in somebody else's hands. No amount of pushing or prodding or hoping will change that I am no longer in control of the situation.

And so I wait.

Maybe patience is not the real issue. Maybe it's that I just like to be in control. Because when I'm in control I know how things will turn out in the end. When I relinquish control I have to rely on hope and faith.

In fact, the more I think about it the more I realized that my problem with waiting relates directly with my problem with stillness.

Waiting implies not working, at least for a time. Waiting means submitting. Waiting is stillness.

President Ezra Taft Benson once said, "Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace."

I read this often, and tell myself I WANT to turn my life over to the Lord. But then when I get to the whole "waiting upon the Lord" part I get impatient. I want to submit, but can't be still.

But today, I have no choice. Something is truly out of my hands and my only option is to wait.

My amazing, creative, talented cousin Andria brought me this locket last week.

Did I mention she also MADE it? And that her timing could not have been more perfect!!!!

I have worn it nearly every day and when I am tempted to be impatient, to turn suddenly in a different direction just because I am tired of waiting, I feel the metal against my skin. I pull it out from beneath my shirt and hold it in my hand for just a moment. I breath in. I breath out. And I find the strength to be still. I find the courage to submit.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Wild Child

I blog, I don't blog. I blog, I don't blog. It's random and sporadic, I know. But, ya know.

But I have new pictures to share-so I decided hey, why not.

This is my beautiful niece.

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On my sister-in-law's blog she calls this child of hers the Wild Child. So-I figured it was okay if I referred to her thus.

At the beginning of March she got baptized, which means I had to unique pleasure of photographing her special day just as I did her older sister and her older brother.

Any special day must start with a special dress

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And shoes. Don't forget the shoes!

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The really fun thing about photographing kids getting baptized is that they are at that fun age when most of them are losing teeth. And I LOVE capturing them JUST like they are.

The Wild Child had a front tooth that was just barely hanging on a thread.

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If I was working for a family magazine I'd photoshop that tooth-but I actually love the way it is dangling there. Just keeping it real!

And by real, I mean real gorgeous! Anybody else jealous of her hair?

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Now you need to know something about the Wild Child. Despite her beautiful princess-like appearance in these pictures she is a little bit, what's the word....not exactly tom-boy but not exactly girly-girl either. Is there a word for that?

So I told her to lean up against this gate and this is what I got.

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I love the way she flops herself against, much the same way she would flop herself down on a bed. It's just SO HER!

And don't be fooled by her sweet look here. Do you remember the character, Sarah Baker, from Cheaper by the Dozen? You know, the one who was suspended from Lacrosse for using excessive force? The one who comes up with the elaborate prank against the unwanted boyfriend to which her dad responds, "You have a dark gift, Sarah Baker." I'm pretty sure this movie character was based on the Wild Child

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And yet, when you see these pictures it's so hard to believe.

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In all honesty though, she is a truly delightful child and it was such a pleasure to spend the afternoon with her!

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Friday, March 25, 2011


Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God

I think one of my biggest problems right now is that I don't know how to be still. Not really. I will send a prayer up to heaven or quick a quick verse of scripture but then I "get on" with life, never giving any of it a chance to really sink in, to really touch my heart and soul.

I fill my days and hours with dishes and laundry and kid and iphones and email and tweets and text messages and phone calls. Even when I do find what could be a peaceful moment-the kids are outside happy and content-perhaps I am folding laundry or doing dishes-but if I tried I could still open myself up in these moments. But instead in those moments I still to to fill the silence. I turn on music, loudly and then wonder whey I feel over-stimulated all the time.

Even the quiet hours after the kids are in bed are usually spent watching whatever sitcom DVD came in the mail that day. (I do love Netflix, not gonna lie.)

Today I am in Oregon, in a hotel room. no kids. No husband. No laundry. No dishes. No car. I had originally planned to grab my camera and go explore on foot and enjoy the solitude. But I told myself that instead I needed to dedicate myself to being still.

But it's 2:30 and I don't think I've been truly still yet.

I have spent time reading, emailing, sleeping, eating-but still not really taken the chance to just be still.

What am I so afraid of? I hope that once I get myself to that place of stillness that God will finally come into my soul and show me what I've been missing, fill that emptiness that I try to fill with noise. But even the busy-ness doesn't really fill up the empty. When I check my email or my tweets and there is nothing new I feel even more lonely, empty, disconnected. Social media is supposed to make the world seem smaller but so often it tend to make me feel even more isolated.

Maybe the problem is that although I hope God will come in and fill all my empty places, but I am not sure if I have enough faith for it to truly be so. And so I continue to keep myself busy instead of allowing myself to be still because then there is no chance for me to be disappointed.

Maybe I don't really know how to be still. Because I don't think that being still is a passive thing. I think being still takes effort-I'm just not sure how to do it.

I feel like I am at a major crossroad in my life right now. I believe that some amazing blessings and opportunities are on the horizon. And yet I feel a little like I'm floundering. Like I don't know which way to go in order to get those blessings and opportunities.

I've had to work so hard for so much of the good things in my life that perhaps I am scared that if I am not working hard enough the blessings and opportunities I yearn for will slip through my fingers.

And so I work and push and stress and tire myself out on life's treadmill, but fear that in the end it will be the stillness that brings the blessings. That they will only come when I finally stop trying to get them for myself and let God instead give them to me, as a gift. A sweet gift that He has always wanted to give me. A gift that I only need to ask for, if only I would be still enough to receive it.

Even the waves of the sea listened when the Savior said unto them, "Peace, be still." (Mark 4:39)

So why can't I?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The Oregon Coast

Life is topsy turvy right now. But not necessarily in a bad way. Changes are on the horizon and I'm excited. Stressed and scared and unsure, but excited.

Right now I sit all alone in a hotel room in Oregon. For the last two days I have fully intended to grab my camera bag and just go walking and photograph anything that inspires me.

That's been the plan. But it's been raining and I have instead found peace in a cup of hot chocolate and my the pages of my journal. I can't remember the last time I had this much quiet time to sit and think. And then to listen. To really figure out what I'm thinking and feeling. What my hopes are. What my dreams are. My life is so wrapped up in my home and my kids and my husband that sometimes I completely lose me.

I think perhaps that something bigger than just the rain is at work here, keeping me in. I'm often so quick to fill up every minute of every day. I think something, somebody is telling me to slow down. To relax. To refuel. To regroup. To figure things out because once I get home life is going to come at me lightening fast.

I've written a bunch in my journal these last two days. Some of which I am thinking about sharing here. But I'm not sure yet. It's quite personal. And yet I yearn to feel the connectedness I feel when I am writing often. I miss blogging and the sense of community I feel from it. Life just got busy. And it became just one more thing to do. So I've kind of let it slip away from me a bit.

Plus I also feel a bit vulnerable right now. And I want to know that what I put out here will be embraced, not judged.

So I'm still on the fence about how much to share-but I'm sharing that I'm on the fence about what to share, and that's a start, right?

Friday, February 25, 2011

sugar and spice and everything nice that my niece is nearly 5 months old I'm finally getting around to posting her newborn pictures.

Good thing nothing that has life and death ramifications is dependent on me these days. Just sayn'


Isn't she sweet? Don't ya just want to pinch her little cheeks?

I have a thing for little baby feet and toes. So I took lots of pictures...




And little baby hands. What's not to love about tiny fingers?


Call me, we'll do lunch!


She really wasn't into cooperating with the whole pictures of sweet sleeping babies thing. But she did such a good job of looking sweet even while awake so I can't complain too much.


Okay, I may have gotten one that looked like she was sleeping.


Stay tuned and maybe by the time she is 1 I'll post some 6 month pictures. ;)