Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pregnancy Etiquette

It might seem strange that I am writing this post right now, after all I'm not currently pregnant. But if I write it now then I can tell everyone I was completely in my right mind, unaffected by pregnancy hormones, and trying to write from an objective perspective. Objective perspective, that was fun to say. :)

I just don't understand why when you are going through the most life altering, physically challenging and beautiful miracle of your life people somehow assume this gives them license to say whatever they want to you. Maybe they think it's funny? Maybe they don't understand how you feel? Maybe there's some weird universal mindset that if your tummy is sticking out in front of you that is automatic permission for perfect strangers to touch you in inappropriate ways??? I don't know, but whatever the reasons but I'd like to set the record straight.

One more thing I'd like to preface this with and that is this: For some reason our culture automatically signs all pregnant women up for this competition with each other. If the competition had a title it would be something like "Whoever can look like they're not doing what they're actually doing the most wins!!" Translation: Whoever has the tiniest bump at the end is the most fabulous. I don't get the weird obsession with being tiny in our culture. I totally get eating healthy and being fit. But healthy/fit does not always equal tiny. In the same way, successful pregnant woman does not equal tiny bump.

Ok people, for all of you that aren't pregnant this is your handbook. For all of you that are, feel free to share this with the people in your life that are driving you crazy ;)


I mean seriously people.... does it EVER feel good to be told you are huge?? Would you like someone to randomly approach you and tell you that you are huge? Huge does not have a nice connotation to it... it brings to mind things like whales and the great pyramids, expansive things of that nature. Don't get all crafty and sneaky and go calling her large, big, or ginormous and think you're somehow not breaking this rule either. Realize that she is carrying a HUMAN BEING INSIDE HER BODY and have a little tact. I mean, why people look at you in surprise and say things like this when they know you are pregnant is beyond me.

Rule Number Two: DO NOT ASK A PREGNANT GIRL IF SHE IS EXPECTING TWINS JUST BECAUSE SHE HAS A BABY BUMP THAT MAY BE LARGER/SOONER/ROUNDER THAN YOU THINK IT SHOULD BE. (Chances are your judgment is not based on reality, chances also are that she is not carrying twins.) 

I don't know if people think this is a funny little one liner, or that they are being original, or that this is something we can all laugh un-awkwardly about when she informs you that no, she is not carrying twins... But I'd like to clear the air on this one. No it's not a funny one-liner. No, you are completely unoriginal, this is the oldest line in the book. No, it's not going to be a funny little joke between you and the pregnant lady. I mean, when she answers no, she's going to be feeling like you just told her she's twice as big as she should be. This is not to say that women don't ever have twins. But let them tell you, don't you ask them. Also.... If someone is pregnant with two 5 lb twins, or one 10 lb baby, can you do math?? (God bless those who have 6 & 7 lb sets of twins, you are my heroes!!)


I'm talking about things like "Why haven't you had that baby yet??" Believe me, at the end, all we want is for the baby to come out, if we knew the answer to why it hadn't yet, you wouldn't be asking that question, because we would have already done the thing to make it come out and wouldn't be pregnant anymore, therefore this conversation would not be happening.


I'm talking about the classic: "You're pregnant? Don't you know how this happens?" Yes. Yes we do. Chances are we did it anyway. Or maybe we even planned this. Please don't act like our babies are all accidents.


I'm not sure where the myth was born that you are supposed to grow, and grow, and grow, stretching your body to max capacity for nine months, and then POOF! The baby comes out and everything snaps back to how it used to be. I mean, for goodness sake people! Do you know what happens inside when there's a baby taking up all the space where your organs used to be?? Your lungs get squished up so high you feel like you can't take a full breath, your stomach is so smashed up under your lungs that when you lay down at night you have heart burn from acid reflux because there's just not space for that stuff to stay where it's supposed to, your bladder is being stomped on, pummeled and squished downwards so far that you have to pee every five minutes, and let's not even talk about our skin and abs... Ok, wait, let's talk about it. Those nice tight abs that having always been about 6 inches from your back bone are now so far out in front of you that you can't see your toes anymore, and your skin is just trying to keep up whatever way it can. So when that girl has that beautiful little baby and comes home from the hospital and happens to not have a nice flat abdomen right away, that's actually normal. Unless the girl is going into labor in front of you, or you hear her telling her husband to feel the baby kick, don't go up to her and ask when she is due. Cause if she's already had the baby and not pregnant anymore, it's going to be a little awkward for you both. This is one area where it does not pay to be a risk taker and try to be the pregnancy predicting hero....

I'm positive there are more rules that could be added to this list... things like "don't tell her she waddles" "don't rub her belly without asking if you may do so, your skin is itchy anyway when you're pregnant and you just made it worse" or even covering basic body language, for example: eye brow raising, mouth gaping open, and head shaking while talking about her bump.... But I'll leave it at those top five. And because I'm nice, I'll even provide a list of appropriate conversation topics when communicating with a pregnant woman.

Appropriate Conversation:

1. How are you feeling?
2. You look great, you are glowing.
3. How are you sleeping at night?
4. How's the nesting going? Are you having fun getting ready for the baby to come?
5. When is your due date? (clarification: This is not to be asked until after she has confirmed that she is, in fact, pregnant.)
6. Do you have a name picked out?
7. Where are you planning to deliver?
8. Do you know if you're having a boy or girl?
9. Compliments. Those are always nice to hear when you're feeling so very out of your element.
10. Is this your first baby?

There you have ten basic, kind, low-key conversation topics if you want to discuss pregnancy with an expecting mother. And if you don't know if you can trust yourself to talk to her without breaking any of the above rules.... well then just rely on the good old "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" rule.

You're welcome. ;)

The Murray Family

I LOVE getting to take photos for my cousin David's family. I say this every time, but they were some of the earliest to believe in me and give me a chance at a family portrait session. They are so good at carving out time to make sure they have updated family photos about every six months. While there is one shot they like to get each time of the four of them walking away together holding hands, beyond that it is a fun challenge that pushes me to come up with creative ideas, unique angles, and new shots each time. We have taken their photos at an ice cream shop, at their house, in a local park, by a creek, and now with a vintage truck :) This truck belongs to a friend of theirs who very kindly let us use his property for their photos. As always, we had a blast. I was on the ground laughing so hard I was crying at one point. :)
(If you'd like to see past sessions of theirs you can see them here, here and here. The first was done before I was blogging)

There are so many more great images, but I'm sharing a few of my favorites here today: 

I absolutely love the two below of Noah & Ethan sitting in the driver's seat. Love that you can see the sky and trees reflected in the windshield. :)

"M" is for Murray! :)

There was a giant orange ball the boys were playing with and rolling down the hill during the shoot... As Ethan ran in front of the ball he headed straight for his mama and I caught this shot when she scooped him up in her arms. Ever so slightly out of focus, but honestly it just captures the movement of the moment for me and makes it all the sweeter :)

Love these two below!! A mama's gentle love, a daddy's playful love :)

Look who's got the wheel! Hang on boys!!

And a few off just Dave and Shirley together.

This is what makes candids so great, you capture expressions you can hardly get when people are posing. Dave turned to say something to one of the boys and I just love both of their expressions.

And here's the traditional shot for this session!! :)

One of the neighbors of the family that owned the truck had this beautiful brick bridge as a part of their driveway. Love this shot :) 

And all the action and expression going on in the one below... love it :) 

I always seem to get a priceless photo of Noah holding either his Mommy or Daddy's hand. Love this of him and Shirley walking together.

This barn was also right down the street from where we started out. This one is my favorite, Dave and Shirley kissing, Noah and Ethan making muscles in front of them :)
 The sun was just starting to go down behind them when we shot this, I love the big rustic barn and the fresh green of spring with the setting sun and their family cozied up right in the middle of it all. 

And the one below. Probably my very favorite. Noah and Ethan were playing and running again and I looked over and saw Shirley standing there just taking it all in, watching her boys, the sun coming in so beautifully behind her, and click. The moment was frozen forever. It speaks so much to me being a mom of little boys too... her expression says it all. They might not even notice the way we are always there, always on the sidelines, sometimes silent, sometimes cheering, watching, taking it all in. But always, always there watching them. 

Last but not least, Family Forever No Matter What. :)

Love you guys, can't wait to get you the whole cd so you can see the rest, but I hope you enjoy these for now!! :) 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sisters, Projects, My Boys, & Casting Our Crowns (aka Random Post)

Sisters. I don't know what I'd do without mine. My sister in law moved in from the midwest YESTERDAY!!! And my other sister-in-law is visiting my sister in Virginia. And all I can think of is going to visit my sister too, so soon, and taking a long walk on the beach and catching each other up on all the pieces of life that can't be related in the 5 minute phone conversations we squeeze in whenever we can. 

Besides my heart being full of sisterly affection for these amazing girls in my life, I am super amped up to get projects I've been dreaming of for a while under way. Painting the living room and seeing the end result sparked something in me and now I am ready to go! The top three projects on my list are transforming an antique fan, re-finishing a beautiful secretary desk, and painting our laundry room. 
Here's the "before" of the fan :) 

And my boys. Oh my goodness they are so full of imagination. I can't count how many times lately I stand just out of their view, peeking into the room they are playing in to marvel at their imaginations and creativity. It's seriously so precious and beautiful and adorable all at the same time. They made up this word they call each other… I have no clue how to go about spelling it, but I'll give it a try: Bungable? (pronounce the "g" like a "j"... guess I could have spelled it bunjable but that would have been too easy)) Isaiah tells me this story every day. "Once I went to a jungle and saw a tiger, and he was nice, but then he turned mean and bit me!!!" And when Drew drinks water from a coffee cup at church he says he is drinking "woffee". And my favorite recent story... About 2 1/2 weeks ago Isaiah and Drew were getting into these heated arguments on a daily basis. It would start like this: 

Isaiah: I am four years old, and you are two years old Drew. 
Drew: No, I am four, and you are two. 
Isaiah: (somewhat louder) NO! I am FOUR, and you are TWO! 
Drew: (slightly less patient) No, Saiah, I am four and YOU are two. 
Isaiah: (full out screaming) I AM FOUR YEARS OLD!!! 
Drew: (No also raising his voice) ISAIAH- YOU ARE TWO!!! 

Upon which moment I would coming running in to make sure it didn't turn physical, and tell Isaiah that he was, indeed, two, and Drew was four, and Isaiah would usually crumple into a pile sobbing on the floor at this point. After multiple replays of this same scene we were in the backyard playing one night when two neighbor boys came over. The one looked at Drew and Isaiah and said, "let me guess, you are four (pointing at Drew) and you are three (pointing at Isaiah)." To which Isaiah very nonchalantly replied, "No, I am two years old, but I am big for my age." And having someone else think he was older than he is? That seemed to completely resolve the revolving fight of the ages for him. 

Jaden loves when he gets to be a big boy and sit at the table with his brothers. :) He is sitting up, though still wobbly... he gets excited and throws himself back so I have to either sit with him or have something behind him. He says "ma" and "mum" when he sees me or wants to be held now. And he is so smiley and interactive. Drew and Isaiah compete to make him laugh. I think he is about to get a tooth, he makes "brrrm" noises and makes the funniest faces with his tongue and lips like he is feeling for a tooth. His hair is really starting to come in, but it's so blonde it's hard to see. I still swaddle him at night but sometime during the night he finagles his left arm loose and I find him sleeping with it bent and his little fist up next to his face in the morning. He still wakes up 2 or 3 times a night, which elicits sympathy from some, but really I feel fine and barely notice the interruption of sleep. I just pull him into bed with me, feed him and put him right back in the basinet. He is so sweet and snuggly I kind of look forward to him stirring and needing me for a few minutes in the night.

Drinking smoothies at lunch time... They were trying to give themselves mustaches. :)

I looked out the back window and saw them like this. They said they were looking for bugs. 

My current favorite color combo is red and turquoise.... Especially this lace dress with this turquoise pendant. (And I really can't help but mention that the turquoise pendant was 1 cent on amazon. ONE. CENT. Shipping was 3.99. So technically I spent 4.00. But STILL!! I love it!) 

red dress: Ross about a year and a half ago, $12.99.
sandals: My FAV, birthday gift from my sister & brother this year. Urban Outfitters
Feather earrings: AE, 3 years ago.
Turquoise Pendant: Mentioned earlier, Amazon.
Cute Baby: Mine all mine :) 

And then this... it's been on my mind and heart for a few weeks now. I told Shaun that I always feel uncomfortable receiving a compliment. I love to give them, but it makes me feel awkward and I never know how to respond if I get them. I think it stems from the fact that I don't like to be in the spotlight. I don't mind being in a group of people if there's equal interaction going on, and I love one-on-one time... But I think that's a bit of a rabbit trail. My point is that when I shared with Shaun about wondering how to act or what to do with a compliment he said something really profound. He said "cast your crowns." That's what the elders do before the Lord constantly. They take what is precious and place it at His feet.  I don't desire praise from man for myself, but if I ever receive it I now picture myself laying it at His feet as an offering. Anything I am or do that is good is only because of Him. I saw this quote by Kris Valloton the other day and it totally confirmed this for me: "The goal of being a light set on a hill isn't to admire the light, but so people can see where they're going. When I turn a light on its not to stare at the light but to see the room. God's goal isn't that people see you it's that they see the Kingdom." I desire to be a light, but not so that people see me, so that they would see the Kingdom. Hopefully that is encouraging to you if you ever feel in the same situation, where you desire to inspire and speak out but don't naturally feel comfortable in this role.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who Do You Want To Be?

Over the six-going-on-seven years I've been married I've grown a lot as a person. And I like myself a little better now than I used to. There are still lots of things I'm working on, reactions I'd like to improve, natural tendencies I'd like to see disappear... and then there's patience. I could always use more patience.

But here's what I'd like to share: Do you know that you get to decide who you'd like to be? Cause you do.

I think the first time I ever made a conscious decision about who I wanted to be was when I decided I wanted to be a good big sister. That was sometime while I was in middle school. My neighbor had the best big sister ever, and I knew I wanted to be like her to my younger siblings. (You'll have to ask my brother and sister how I'm doing on this... it's gotten harder to always be there since having babies, but I'm still trying!)

When I first went into marriage I knew I wanted a good marriage, but it took me a little while  to accept the fact that in order to have a good marriage I was going to have to change. I went into my marriage with Shaun hanging onto every little piece of who I used to be, and getting all offended and mad if he even hinted at asking me to do anything differently than I was used to doing it. I'm really not sure why... I think maybe I "didn't want to lose myself"... I thought I wouldn't be happy and wouldn't know who I was anymore if I compromised on anything. (I'm talking about the way I washed dishes, whether I took my contacts out in the bathroom or next to my bed, how I left lights on... really stupid minor things like that... things that I should have been willing to compromise on) But the truth was I could only really be happy if I changed, if I allowed myself to grow into us instead of just staying me.

I enjoy my marriage so much more when I allow space for there to be TWO of us. When I stop fighting for myself and start fighting for us, when I am ok with compromise and change for the purpose of growth.

The season I am currently in is one I am so thankful for. I have purposed in my heart that I would really like to become the person Jesus intended for me to be. I would really like to bloom to the fullest and with the most brilliance possible. I want to become as much like Christ as I can. That means constant change. Constant evaluation. Constant willingness to lay down another part of who I was, being willing to be broken and re-crafted. I know that my life is in His hands, and He is a master creator. Instead of fighting Him when I am feeling nudged toward change, I want to embrace it.

Here is a huge thing I have learned:

The surest way to never grow as a person is this: Whenever a problem/situation/difficulty arises in life or in relationship, begin looking for all the reasons you are right and they are wrong. Begin building your defenses. Begin fortifying yourself and reinforcing the mind set that you did nothing wrong, things are the way they are, there's nothing more you can do, and that where/who you are is where/who you want to stay forever. 

The surest way to grow into the person you were made to be is this: Whenever a problem/situation/difficulty arises in life or in relationship, being asking yourself self-reflecting questions. Ask yourself what your true motivations are. Ask yourself if maybe, just maybe, you could have done things differently. Ask yourself if part of the problem lies with you. Ask yourself if you might have been wrong. Ask yourself what changes you can make to help prevent similar problems in the future. 

If you can have the mindset of continual growth, suddenly every situation in life is a new opportunity for gaining wisdom, a new chance at learning, and there is purpose and beauty in every season. Nothing in life is a waste, there is something to be gained from it all. Even the most heart breaking of circumstances can be redeemed. The Holy Spirit is my convictor, but you know what?? It's not just to make me feel bad, guilty, tell me I'm not good enough... It's to grab my attention and propel me into making changes that make me a better person. It's for my good.

Defining who you'd like to be is such a cool thing... once you know your core values then you can ask yourself questions to find out if you are staying on course to being refined into that person. For example, I'd really like to be someone who is inspiring, someone who speaks the truth in love, someone who is genuine. I want to be loving to my family, I want to reflect the character of Christ. I want my home to be a place of connection and peace and beauty. I want to do things because I enjoy them, and not because I feel like I have to keep up with so and so.

You can also define who you don't want to be. For example, I don't want to be a show-off. I don't want  act like I have it all together and end up making people feel discouraged. I don't want to be a self-promoter.

If you haven't already, take some time to figure out who you want to be, what you want to be known for, and then at every opportunity ask yourself questions about why you do or act the way you do. It will take you on an incredible journey.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Raspberry Mint Lime Water

So this beverage was completely inspired by the drink my sister-in-law fixed for us on Mother's Day when they had us over for dinner. I'll share that recipe first, because it was HEAVENLY, and then I'll share this everyday version that I made too. :) 

So Steph's drink was fresh squeezed raspberry lemonade. It was so refreshing, perfectly tart, and absolutely delicious. To make a half gallon you need approximately 6-7 lemons, one little box of raspberries (1/2 pint?) water, sugar, and ice cubes. So first fill the pitcher partially full of ice cubes. Then use a citrus press to squeeze the juice from the lemons into the pitcher over the ice. Meanwhile make a simple syrup on the stove (the ratio is a cup of sugar to a cup of water, for this recipe she used 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water... to make the simple syrup you just boil the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved in the water) Pour your simple syrup into the pitcher, mash the raspberries and add them, then top off with water. Stir to combine the flavors and mix the raspberry pulp throughout. 
Then pour yourself a glass, close your eyes, and taste the best thing ever :)

So I don't have a citrus press, and I don't like to have sugar in my beverages on a routine basis, so I made a different version of this yummy drink... I used a 1/2 pint mashed raspberries, fresh mint leaves from our garden, and the juice from a lime (more would have been better, but since I don't have a press I only used one) This was much less tart and not as sweet, but still very refreshing and a fun way to make dinner seem fancy one night. Not to mention it was just adorable in these tiny glasses and healthy as well :) 

Drew was watching me take these pictures and as soon as I was done he swooped in and grabbed the cup. I started to take the garnish off for him but he asked to keep it on because he liked how it looked :) 

Hope this inspires you to make a fancy drink sometime this summer. Even if it's not a special occasion and just for dinner one night for your family, it's such a fun treat and so simple to make something fresh like this. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

Johnson Family Continued :)

When I did the Johnson family's photos a few weeks ago we intended to do these as well... but their truck ended up in the shop so we decided to meet later at a park close to my house and just spend 15 minutes or so getting the rest of the photos they were wanting. I am so pleased with how these came out, love their matching t-shirts and the smoke blowing out of the truck along with their kids reactions (a little bit of terror that was quickly resolved by just covering their ears...) :) My favorites are of Josh and Brax looking under the hood. Enjoy these fun photos :)

As always, it was so fun working with you guys :) I loved letting our kids play at the park together afterwards too... you guys are such a great, laid back and sweet family and I am seriously honored to get to help capture these memories for you guys :) 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

An anniversary gift photo shoot

Melissa & Greg are brother and sister, and for their parents' anniversary they got pictures taken of their families together. Melissa & Jon have two sweet baby girls, McKenna & Lily. They have the most insanely blue eyes and are so cute!! They love their cousin Shaun, and it was so fun to photograph the three of them together in a few of these. We did some of the whole group, and then split up and took some of just Greg & Sherri and Shaun, and some of just Melissa and Jon's family too. Beyond the posed-everybody-look-and-smile-photos I love working with Melissa because she is a big believer in candid moments (as am I!!) and I just love the moments I was able to capture of them all playing together too :) 

Here are some favorites!! 

 Love this one of Greg and Sherri on the gazebo steps. :)

Oh my gosh, the two below of McKenna and Lily are too precious!

Cousin Time!!

The one below is out of this world adorable!!

The adults together:

Everybody playing:)

And ending with my very favorite :)

Thank you guys for having me take these photos for you, I hope you had a great time and that your parents will love these!!! You all were so fun and easy to work with :)