Birth & Photography: My two worlds collide.

I have sworn over and over, “I will have 5 more babies before I watch someone give birth again.” A statement made by my 19 year old self after being a part of a friends birth that left me tired and sore, and slightly traumatized by the use of the vacuum method of suction to get the baby out after 3 1/2 hours of pushing. (My births have been quick. Pushing at the most lasted 15 minutes.) And then after more babies, and a few years of experience as a mom, my heart has completely changed towards the process of giving birth, being a part of a birth, and watching life come into the world. I LOVE it. I love the raw emotion of an exhausted mama finally getting to hold their precious new baby.

I was chatting with a friend about feeling “significant” the other day. Those times when you start feeling like what you’re doing is great, but is it important? This wasn’t a pity party conversation. Not one to reassure that I’m good at my job. But simply one of those times where you have that stirring that there’s something bigger you’re missing. Her response to my feeling of anxiety about it was this:

“I’m just going to share with you the first thing that came to my mind.

I read a quote a few months back that gave me great peace.

And amazing perspective.

“Doing something unimportant well, doesn’t make it important.”

Is photography important? Unimportant? Should you quit? I don’t know. What I do

know is that anxiety and doubt are not from God. The fact that you are feeling both right

now suggests to me that, while you may feel insignificant at this moment, you very well may

be on the verge of something big. Bigger than you. And girl, nothing rattles Satan more. “

I literally have had that quote in my head ever since. Just because I can do my job well, doesn’t make it important. Just because I know how to work my camera, doesn’t mean that every picture I take will be significant.

But last Wednesday I felt a feeling of such contentment and joy in what I do that it made any doubt about photography disappear. I got to photograph my sisters c-section.

I got to give her the gift of capturing those moments in the operating room when she found out she was having another baby girl. I got to watch as her doctor pulled this healthy little life out of the womb and introduced her to the world.

If that’s not significant, I don’t know what is.

A small little gallery of that morning. A preview of my feeling of significance. Jumping off the edge into something bigger.

Birth stories may have just captured my heart.

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The Zuritas: Family Love

Some families just hold a special place in your heart. This is one of those families. A few things I love about them:
The way they’ve always called Miss Lola “fancy”.  The way Eric immediately will give the cheesiest smile when he looks at Jody. That they may or may not have called in sick on an occasion to get pictures done. The way they’re willing to trespass into random orchards and property with me. The way you can feel their love, even when they both work crazy schedules, go to school, and raise babies together. I love that they plan vacations together without the kids, because it’s obvious they are still totally in love. And even more that they invite my husband and I along to Mexico with them! My list could go on and on. This family is one of a kind and I am so thankful to have them not just as clients, but now as friends as well!

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Tiff & Brody: Expecting

I’m so excited to meet my new niece or nephew tomorrow morning!!!! I’m crossing my fingers that when I show up at the hospital tomorrow morning at 530am for my sisters scheduled c-section, that the anesthesiologist lets me in to do her birth photography! Lucy Belle is going to make the best big sister and I’m still blown away that Tiff and Brody were able to keep the sex of the baby a surprise this whole time! Hopefully one of my next posts will be the birth of this little one. Congrats sister! You are the most beautiful preggo mama ever! MUAH!!!!

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Life is either a daring adventure…or nothing at all

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My husband took me mountain biking 3 times in our marriage. The first was around Applegate Lake. Actually I shouldn’t say around because I didn’t actually make it around or even halfway around. I had a sweet bike. I had all the gear I needed. But I was out of shape and scared to death I was going to fall off the trail and into the lake. That ride ended abruptly with the first big hill I encountered and had to walk my bike up. I was done.

The second ride started uphill at the Ashland watershed. When I say uphill I mean riding my bike back and forth on the road so I didn’t fall off and lose all of my momentum. It sucked. And I was not a happy camper. How on earth do people do this for fun? It was torture in my opinion. We made it to a point where we could ride a trail back down and I thought for a second I would finally have it easy. Nope! The trail was so steep I kept falling off just trying to lean back to not go head first over my handlebars. Another epic fail.

My last experience riding was the worst. And best. Dom took me out to Lost Creek Lake to ride “all the way” around the lake. We’ll see about that. It starts out with 3 miles of uphill road. Ok I can do this. Third time the charm. I have to prove to Dominic that I am capable of doing the one sport he LOVES! I’m tough. I’m not a girlie girl by any means. I SHOULD be able to do this. Now comes the 11 or so miles of trail riding. Just don’t look down, or mind that tree in the middle of the trail, or the rock garden he breezes through like its asphalt. Just KEEP UP! Halfway through I’m hitting a wall. I begged him to ride back and get the truck and pick me up. No. We’re almost to the concrete and then you’ll be fine from there. Oh dear Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding me. Ok. I did it I made it to the cement!!!! It’s all easy from here. And it was for a good 3 miles. And then we started uphill again. And around every corner I wanted to quit. But he told me “this is the last one, right around this corner is downhill!” But it wasn’t. Corner after corner was a letdown, and with every turn that revealed another stretch of hill I wanted to punch him in the face. I told myself, if the next corner isn’t the end I’m sitting my butt on the side of the road and he can come get me. But it was the end. And when I saw the downhill portion and felt the pressure release on my legs and the pavement flying under me at 40MPH it was amazing! I was so dang proud I actually finally completed a ride with him.
Let’s not let the celebration last too long though. This isn’t one of those stories where I say I was so invigorated I was hooked and wanted to mountain bike all the time. I actually sold my bike! Haha. Yes. Sold my bike, and haven’t mountain biked since. It’s just not my sport.

But this was supposed to be about Dom. Sorry babe. I get carried away.

The point of this post was actually to talk about how over the past 2 years I’ve finally got to watch my husband do the one sport he was made to do. Mountain biking isn’t a sport that you can just go and watch. And my few experiences going with him were spent in such self pity that I didn’t actually take the time to care how good he was because I was too busy being pissed that I couldn’t keep up with him. Before his accident he would ride, but he never really had a group of friends that rode regularly so his rides were few and far between. After his accident, when he recovered he decided he needed to get back to doing what really made him happy. So he bought a new bike and started talking to some friends about doing the same. They put together a group that rode every week, sometimes a couple times a week.

Being so consistent in it really changed him. I could always tell when it had been a week or so since he’d been riding because his stress level was high and he would get irritable. “Go for a bike ride!” I would tell him. Please, go ride so you can be nicer. And it always helped.
And then he had the grand idea of me hiking in and taking pictures of them hitting the jumps. I can do hiking. I get to be outside, have my camera with me, take the dogs down the trails, and watch my husband in his element. All of his friends would tell me how good he was. How fast he was. How he would hit jumps they wouldn’t even think of hitting. But I’d never seen this side of him before. I’d seen pictures and iphone video of the stuff he jumped off of, but until you’re there in person, it does it absolutely NO justice. We made a trip up to Black Rock Mountain Bike park outside of Salem specifically for me to take pictures of their adventure there and my mind was blown. Watching him hit jumps, fly off of rock drops that I didn’t think were possible, and navigate these trails like it was effortless made me fall in love with him all over again. He is seriously talented. He breathes this stuff. And not once did I look at him and think, this is dangerous. I know, I know, stupid. Of course it’s dangerous. But I didn’t doubt his ability. And that put me at ease.

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Does that make me naive? Maybe. But I never denied the fact that there was always that possibility that he could get seriously injured in this sport. Him and I have both just had the mindset since his neck fusion that he’ll never do the stuff he loves pain free again, but that doesn’t mean that life stops. That doesn’t mean that he gives up his active, athletic lifestyle for a desk job and knitting. It’s not us. God hasn’t called us to a life of fear. He’s given us a spirit of adventure for a reason. Did I ever think Dom would break another major bone and have surgery again? No way. But it happened.

I’ve had so many people hear about what happened and their first response is, “Weren’t you so mad? I bet he won’t be mountain biking again! I hope you sell his bike.” What good would being mad at him do? Let me just go ahead and demean my husband and make him feel like a real ass….he doesn’t want to be in this position. He doesn’t want to put me in this position of having to care for him. He’s a man to his core. One that wants to and always will provide for his family. And what kind of woman would I be to make him feel any less? Yes, his bike is for sale. But not because I never want him to ride one again. We have bills to pay and he rides a significantly expensive bike that will help pay bills until he’s back at work. And then I PRAY when we can afford it, that he buys another bike. That he does choose to ride again, because it’s who he is. And when we stop living our lives we might as well be dead.

So I encourage wives and husbands today. I encourage you to support whatever dreams, sports, or adventures they have. Make them happen. God already has your story written out, and if you’re supposed to get hurt it will happen whether you’re crossing the street or skydiving. Wives, push for the things that make your husbands hearts beat faster. Chances are, that when he’s full of life and has you beside him he’s going to appreciate you more. He’s going to brag about you to his friends and be proud. Husbands, love your wives and encourage her hearts desires. Make them possible for her and you’ll earn a loyal and respectful woman who wants to meet your needs. Don’t put your kids in a bubble, even when everything going on in the world makes you want to hide them away to protect them.

I’m so thankful that I got to spend the last year on the trails with Dominic. I’m glad that I got to witness his talent firsthand and capture his love for a sport that not everyone is capable of doing. And I look forward to when Little Dom asks me to come take pictures of him doing the same stuff when his time comes!

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” -Helen Keller

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Prayer & Bubble Wrap

I know the definition of rock bottom is “the lowest possible level”. But how do you explain when your rock bottom is watching your other half hit theirs? I wrote “How to Pray for your Husband” over a year and a half ago, and the response to it was overwhelming. The amount of people who struggle in marriage, is well, just about everyone. And when I wrote about our experience I had no idea that even the vague overview of our rock bottom would hit home with so many people.

Looking back now though, I realize that my story was just that. It was vague. It was guarded. It was about as emotional as I’d let myself be at the time. And that was a plastered on smile saying, “We made it through that phase, stronger than we were before.” But I didn’t offer much else because maybe that would scare people off. People want to see you pull through. They want to see the comeback story. And while our story is just that, there was a lot more ugly I didn’t show along the way that really has helped us get to our life RIGHT NOW.
I like to think I’m an open book when it comes to people asking me about my marriage. It almost failed. I couldn’t hide that. It was pretty obvious when I would either kick him out or move myself out every six months for the first 4 years of our marriage. I would update my facebook status to say separated or disfunctional at best! And then here comes the part where we recommited ourselves to our marriage (or the part where my husband gave me an ultimatum and said I love you enough to let you keep doing this, but I respect myself enough to know that I can’t so either get home by 11 or I’m done).

Next comes the season of why? We have 2 kids. We’re back to being the “all-american” family. We sign papers on our first home. We go out to celebrate that day, and find out we’re pregnant with #3. (Yes, at the celebration lunch, in the Si Casa bathroom!) God is good and this is amazing. Two weeks into getting into our fixer upper, Dominic breaks his neck. And our world starts unravelling.

I wrote before about Dominics battle with prescription drugs. The withdrawal, the depression, the anger. It’s any wife’s worse nightmare, no matter what the addiction is. I’d never witnessed prescription drug abuse, or really any drug abuse growing up. I lived in a home where the motto was always “tough it out” and I never saw my parents take a sip of alcohol until I was probably 21. And even then, it wasn’t a full glass of wine. So I feel like my naivety enabled his addiction to go on way longer than it should. I don’t have any unrealistic guilt, but looking back hindsight is always 20/20. He was hooked on Lyrica and Hydrocodone for a year and a half after his actual neck fusion. And I can remember my rock bottom with him vividly. It wasn’t sitting down and having the conversation, that was the turning point the day after the bottom.

Our family walked on egg shells with Dom. We had 3 little kids. Bubba was 5, Hadley was 4, and Paisley wasn’t even a year old yet. We had a house full! So I was constantly walking around behind everyone, careful to pick up the pieces, quiet crying, clean up spills before Dom would lose his temper. To say it was exhausting doesn’t touch what my life was in those months. Then one day it was just too much. The kids were disobeying on a bike ride, the dog kept running in front of his bike tire, and he just lost it. I heard them ride up to the house and I knew immediately the kids were in tears. Being mama bear I get them all inside and in my room to shield them from the wrath I knew was coming. He knew it was no one’s fault. He knew it was every day life stuff. But for some reason that day it was too much. And he stormed into our room, grabbed his revolver, and he just stared at me as I sat on our bed with all 3 of the kids squeezing them and crying hysterically for him to calm down and put his gun away. And then he left.

I sit here and I type this, and I cry because in that moment my kids had to watch their dad leave the way he did. They are smart. They get it. They know in their little tiny hearts maybe dad isn’t coming back. We all thought it. And my heart still breaks that they had to witness that. But on the flip side I’m thankful that God gave me the courage in the moment to hold those kids and pray and pray and pray and pray and pray. And then he did come home. And our story picks up from that moment.

I told the story of his withdrawal from drugs. It was brutal. It was heart wrenching. But it was encouraging. Because recovery was possible. Once he got off his pills it was like being back with the man I originally married. Please hear me out, recovery didn’t make everything that happened go away. It didn’t take back his actions. It didn’t undo anything. But it made a clear line of communication to be able to walk our family through it. One step at a time.

Now fast forward a year a half.

Life has taken so many amazing turns. Dominic finished up his apprenticeship and got his journeyman plumber card. He went to work for a great local company for a boss who treats him really well. He has made some of the most loyal and caring friends. I’ve had some fun drama along the way, like most girls do! And can’t wait to write some posts about the way God has seriously done work in my heart through failed and redeemed relationships along the way. Good stuff!
Baby #4 is on the way. 7 months down and Miss Eliza Reign will be here before we know it. I’ve had my share of complications this time around. Testing positive for an antibody called the anti-FYA which can cross the placenta of this baby and attack its red blood cells, having horrible morning sickness (which I’ve never experienced), and then getting hospitalized with poison oak covering my whole face and chest and spreading into my mouth and throat! It is SERIOUSLY rare that Dominic EVER has sympathy for me. And a couple weeks ago when I got poison oak, he finally felt bad for me. Like actually sat with me and told me how sorry he felt for me, asked me if he could help, took care of the kids and let me eat benadryl and sleep as long as I could. He’s just not a sympathetic guy so even though I was beyond miserable, it eased the pain just a tiny bit to have him feel bad for me. And I HAD planned to milk that sympathy for as long as I could when I got out of the hospital that Saturday.

But no, he got me home, tucked in on the couch and loaded with benadryl again and then took off to go on a mountain bike ride! I had a quiet house with no kids home and I was asleep before he even left. Then 3 hours later I wake up to my phone ringing and his friends name on my phone. I answer it half asleep only to hear Ben on the other end in the sweetest voice possible…..”Ashley…..I’m really really really sorry. But I think Dom broke his arm and I’m pretty sure it’s bad. And I need to know how fast you can up to 4 corners to pick us up?” WHAT?!?!?! Please tell me you’re kidding me. My husband has NO insurance. And he solely supports our family. “Ummmmm, what does bad mean? And I can leave now and be there in maybe 45 minutes.”

“Well I mean he’s ok. We just need you to get here as soon as you can.”

They were fortunate enough that the owner of Ashland Mountain Adventures shuttle was able to take his personal truck and come up and get to them probably 30 minutes faster than I could have and drove them to the hospital where I could meet them. My husband had enough sense before he went into shock to have his friend take his jersey off and tie his arm up and to his body and get all of his gear off of him before they had to hike themselves out to where they could get picked up. We looked like one big hot mess at the hospital. I still had my hospital bracelets on from my stay at one across town the night before, my face was still swollen and I was covered in pink calamine lotion sitting waiting for him! And then in they wheel my pale white husband ready to pass out and I’m not sure the ER nurse knew which one of us she was admitting.

Here comes the good part. Dominic broke his humerus in half. Right at his bicep. Just snapped it. Like really? You couldn’t just have a slight fracture? Something easy that can be casted and heal up in a few weeks and you can still go back to work and do some stuff? Nope. When he gets hurt he makes sure he needs to get put back together with plates and screws.

And then my heart stopped. The second the nurse attached his IV and shot him full of pain meds my heart sunk into my stomach and I immediately felt that despair. Please Lord no. Please please please don’t let him go there again. This is not happening. Surgery means prescriptions. Surgery means depression. You’ve got to be kidding me. I can’t do this again. I’m not strong enough to carry this again. All the worry of how the heck we were going to pay for this completely faded and all I could think about was how the heck I was going to make sure he didn’t get addicted to pills again.

So we have 3 days at home before surgery. It’s my job to keep him drugged up and in as little pain as possible until then. But I’m struggling with even giving him any once I get his prescription and it’s hydrocodone. So we make it to surgery, and we get discharged the same evening. We want to keep our cost as low as possible so we won’t be paying doctors bills for the rest of our lives. The first 3 nights are hell. Literally 100x worse than neck surgery initially. And through this whole process my thoughts just keep bouncing back to his rock bottom.

Lord please keep me strong enough to give him tough love. To stay in control of the pill situation.

But to be honest. We were already covered. In the past year and a half the people who we’ve been lucky enough to surround ourselves with were already a step ahead of me. Everyone close to us knew how bad our situation was before, but most of them weren’t around to witness it. When you’re in such a dark place, having friends is impossible. To watch his friends send him messages, show up at the house and the hospital, come for dinner, sit with him even when he was dozing in and out of sleep, and force him out of the house even if it was just for a car ride or to watch a movie has been a weight lifted off of me. They have continually reassured me that they won’t let him go there again.
I can’t say these past few weeks have been easy. It’s scary to think that Dominic will be out of work for 2-3 months. But here’s where it gets good. God placed photography in my lap when Dom broke his neck to help ease the financial strain for the specific reason that I’m able to be home to take care of my family and still at the drop of a hat book sessions and help pay bills. God placed our specific families around us who without even thinking twice would pay for him to get his surgery, take our kids, and start looking for other ways to bless our family. God put every single one of our friends in our lives at this moment to ease our stress. From meals, to house cleaning, to babysitting and carpooling, to money, to just coming by and visiting. Every single one of them has helped. And God had Dom turn down his job offer in Seattle last month because He knew this community we live in would restore any shred of doubt at how amazing humanity can really be. We have had complete strangers make donations to help our family. To pay for our surgeon. To drop off meals and lunch stuff for the kids. We’ve had help on top of help on top of help, and prayer going up on our behalf even when they didn’t know us personally. It is OVERWHELMING!!!!!! My heart is so full that I just cry, all the time. Every time someone drops something off the tears just start flowing. We are being shown love at every turn and it makes me turn and say “Lord I’m sorry I doubted your ability to cover us.” We’re almost 2 weeks out of surgery and Dominic already has stopped taking his pain meds during the day. And while it sounds corny, thats a BIG deal.

I know I keep saying it on everything I’ve posted on facebook and instagram, but we are SO thankful for each and every single person who has reached out to us during this whole ordeal the past few weeks. It’s brought us more encouragement and full bellies than we’ve had in a while and my list for thank you’s is growing by the second.

We’re thankful that where we’ve been continues to influence where we’re going. And hopefully we can encourage others that even in the most hopeless times there’s a bigger plan. There’s a divine work happening in each of your lives even in the dark.
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It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back…

“It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back. So shake him off.”

Florence + The Machine

Pretty simple right.

I like to dance so I have this vision of being in what I call the “dance zone”, and having this nasty little gremlin on my back grabbing at my arms, tripping me up (which I have a hard enough time as is), and maybe even throwing a reach around fish hook or rear naked choke as I’m on the dance floor trying to do my thing. Sounds like a real cramp in my style, not to mention extremely embarrassing!

But if we think about, we live like this on a daily basis. We let the enemy just climb right up on our back, and whisper in our ear these little and sometimes huge lies, that cramp our lifestyles. They change the way we function in relationships. They affect every single aspect of our day to day routines. And worst part…we have the complete power to turn around and throw him off our back if we so choose.

What lies do you choose to believe?

I know he hits me with a lot of image and relationship lies. Absolutely always has.

Your legs are too thick. Your butt too big. Your lips too thin. Your forehead is actually a five-head. (LOL I actually think that one’s funny now!) You’re not as good looking as your husband. How did you manage to get him? You’re not a good friend. You don’t cook dinner enough. Etc…etc…etc.

LIES. These are all lies I have believed. Along with plenty of others. I vividly remember after I had my 3rd baby feeling so gross. It was about 3 weeks after I had her and I was in my closet crying that none of my clothes fit and that I had nothing to wear and that I was fat and depressed (this went on most mornings). Dominic came in and finally had enough. He yelled, “Get out of your closet! Seriously, I don’t care if you sit in the living room in sweats. Just get out of here. Satan lives in your closet and he’s tearing you down and ruining every day for you, which then ruins all of our days! So stop being so hard on yourself! You had a baby 3 weeks ago. Give yourself a break!”

What? Give myself a break? What was that? Because last time I checked I had to live a perfect life, in my pre-pregnancy jeans, with my perfect hair and makeup done every morning. I had to have friendships that never had fights. I had to have a marriage that was all rainbows and sunshine, where we have sex at least 5 times a week, and I was always waiting at home with a kiss as soon as he walked through the door. Oh, thats only according to facebook and instagram you tell me? It all makes sense.

I refuse to keep believing the lies the enemy tells me. And it’s not out of selfishness or cenceit that I say, I managed to get and keep my husband, because I now know I’m a wife worth fighting for. I possess the very qualities that he always wanted. I’m witty and funny. And I constantly challenge him to be a better man. I work to make his life easier. And while I’m not going to do it perfectly, I will go down trying! My kids will know that I love them. Even in the times I check out to conserve my sanity. Or on the nights that Dominic puts them to bed because I’m emotionally exhausted. My friendships now thrive because my worth doesn’t lie in proving anything to any of them. My pride is learning to accept their concerns and honesty knowing I’m becoming a stronger woman because they can speak up. And I can put more effort into how they are now that I’m not constantly consumed with the battle going on inside of me.

It’s way easier to see the worth that everyone around you has. I watch friends who haven’t had that switch flipped yet struggle through life decisions because they don’t yet realize the value they hold just in who they are. Some are literally drowning in self doubt and insecurity based on lies. I told my sister in law the other day that I have so many moments where I just want to grab some of them and shake them and yell, “Don’t you see how beautiful you are? Don’t you get how smart and powerful you can be? Don’t you see how much talent you possess? Or what you have to offer your family, your spouse, your friends? Why can’t I be the one who convinces you to see it?”

I can’t save everyone I come in contact with. I can only do what’s in my power. I want that one thing to be to speak truth into their lives about who God made them. That every single person is made perfectly imperfect.

“Where our worth lies, should not be based on a lie.” Says me. Yes, I made that up right now, so write it down and then figure out what lies the enemy tells you on a daily basis that you continue to believe. And then work to fall in love with YOU just as you are.

Then turn on some music and shake the devil off your back!

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Brutally honest…..without being brutal?

I want to write.

But I can’t seem to find the motivation for any one topic that I feel I can just be raw and honest about without offending someone who doesn’t see my heart in it. I think we all get sensitive at times to certain topics. Maybe areas we know we need to work on, or areas we’ve been hurt. But I feel like we’ve lost the ability to come to people in honesty, without having a dishonest motive. You know…. being brutally honest, without being brutal.

So how do we lose the fear of offending someone with our honesty?

I know in my life, I’ve avoided subjects on my blog or in conversations because I don’t want to look like a finger pointer. Even if I feel in my heart super passionate about something I’ll sometimes keep my mouth shut because it’s an area I fail and I don’t want to look like the girl who is preaching at everyone else, all the while dealing with my own issues. It’s a hard line to walk. Being someone who just wants to keep the peace (and not offer up vulnerable aspects of your life in fear of making relationships messy) and being someone who’s a peacemaker (who will dive in to those hard subjects and be willing to walk in truth and honesty even if that includes making others able to hold you accountable).

On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible now to disagree with someone without “attacking” them. I only say attacking because that seems to be the new word. Oh you’re telling me your honest opinion and it doesn’t line up with mine, so therefore you must dislike me as a person so you must be attacking who I am. NO!!!!!!! When did we lose that key ability to just agree to disagree??? So we didn’t vote for the same person. So we don’t like the same music. So our priorities are different. So what??? If you’re able to convey your opinion without degrading someone else there should be no reason two people can’t JUST disagree.

In my lifetime, I’ve managed to be more brutal than just honest. I always assumed that my words were justified as long as I wasn’t lying. “Well, I was just telling the truth!” became a commonly used phrase for me. The problem wasn’t that I was telling the truth, the problem was that I was telling the truth with the wrong motives. I wasn’t coming to anyone in love and stating my opinion. I was doing it out of selfishness. I was doing it to gain the upper hand. I was doing it for my own satisfaction of being right. Ouch! Giving myself a taste of my own brutally honest medicine….

I’m still a work in progress. I still struggle to tell the truth tactfully.

So no matter which end you’re on. Be receptive to the people around you. Know that disagreements don’t always have to end relationships. Know that being an honest friend will only benefit them if your heart is in the right place. Care enough to call out the good, the bad and the ugly. And don’t be afraid to make things messy for a while.

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An “intimate” look at my best friend…

“She seems really nice, but I just don’t think we’ll have anything in common.” Famous last words spoken by me about my now one in a million best friend. (When I say best friend, I have a couple…but I don’t say “one of my best friends” because each of them are my best friends in different ways!)

“You didn’t like me at first! How could you not love this face as soon as you saw me?!?” She constantly teases me about our first few times of not hitting it off.

Not long after my hubby introduced me to his friends long distance girlfriend, I found out we had just about EVERYTHING in common! Our love for Food4Less ice cream, new shoes, T.J. Maxx, photography, pizza, the beach. We wear the same size shoes, and can share closets. We’ve spent the majority of our adult life being baristas. Oh and we both love coffee! But despite all the things we have in common we have some pretty large differences!

Like the fact that I love driving. Anywhere, actually, at any time! I love going on drives! She on the other hand falls asleep if she’s driving more than 20 minutes…(she’s borderline narcoleptic..hahaha). That, and the fact that she’s significantly nicer than I am. And nice in a genuine, no one can dislike her, infect every square inch of space, nice.

She is so full of love, joy, happiness, spunk, laughter, and every accent imaginable that she really makes everything around her more beautiful. When she laughs you want to laugh with her. When she smiles you really can’t help but smile back. She’s the best example I could ever think of, of someone being so beautiful from the inside that it absolutely shows everywhere on the outside.

So when I said an “intimate” look at my best friend you thought I was just going to talk about her amazing heart! Well, not exactly. Although I could ramble about how great she is all day long, she’s actually given me permission to post her boudoir session from a few months ago on our trip to Portland.

This girl has worked her booty off…literally since the time I met her she’s lost over 30lbs. I am so proud of my friend! And she decided, after a lot of convincing on my part, to do this shoot. She is real, she is beautiful, she is funny, she is an inspiration. I am so thankful for her irreplaceable role in not just mine, but my family’s lives!

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Trash the Dress

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a “trash the dress” session. To be completely honest my wedding dress got put away 7 years ago and has never been reopened! Soooo why wouldn’t you want to take the opportunity to get it back out, get all pretty, take it out in a field, or a lake, or the ocean and have a little fun making memories once again in it? You most likely did pay a lot of money for it, so why not get some more use out of it!

For the next 2 months I’ll be offering “trash the dress” mini sessions for $125 including a high resolution CD!!! You can bring your man, or grab a couple friends to join in on the fun!

I did my very first trash the dress session on Maui’s Big Beach! We managed to gather quite the crowd of onlookers for this one! :)

 

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Hadley Grace with the lovely face!

“I think you should check again.”
Those were the words that came out of my husbands mouth when the ultrasound tech delivered the news that our second child was in fact a baby girl! He had his mind made up. He only made boys! (Ha! Typical male thing to say) ;)

So the baby naming game continued….because of course we only had a boys name picked out. I managed to spout off every name in every book at least 3 times before my husband finally said….”How about Hadley???”

WHAT!!!! I had said that name 2 months ago! And now you want to take credit for it! His excuse was that he wanted to hear them all before he made his decision. So Hadley it was. And then she got here….and we looked at each other….hmmmm she doesn’t look like a Hadley. So do we change it? What do we name her now? Oh lord.

Fortunately, we kept her name. After a few weeks she grew into it. And now, it is absolutely the perfect name for her.

This last weekend my little peanut turned 5. She’ll be starting school in August and I see my baby turning into a young lady right before my eyes. She is so unique. She is so entertaining. She is such a free spirited little spitfire.

I know without a doubt that Hadley is going to do big things. Not only is she beyond words beautiful, but she will make you laugh until you cry. She constantly melts my heart with her prayers. She keeps me on my toes with her witty little comments. And makes me blush when she says inappropriate things in public!

I don’t know if I’ve met a child that takes things being said so literally. When she was just a nugget, my mother in law (I refer to her as Milly, MIL…get it) told her to say statue. “Stach-me” was her response. No, statue. “Stach-me”. And so it began. Her literal personality was born and has continued to make us laugh day in and day out for the past 5 years. 

This was a text I sent to my husband the other day after another one of her very literal meanings of kidney protectors. :)

Truth is, this little girl has changed my world. She challenges me to be a step ahead of her. She brightens up my mornings when I find her curled up next to me. She makes my cheeks hurt from smiling. She drives me up the wall being stubborn and hardheaded. She leaves me a never ending pile of laundry from changing her outfits so often. She has stolen every tube of lipgloss or chapstick I’ve ever owned. She is thoughtful and caring and her heart is as beautiful as her blonde hair and brown skin. I am so proud to be her mom and my prayer is that she always has the confidence to know that God made her EXACTLY how He wanted her. That she would never let anyone change her way of thinking. And that she will never lose her creative, free spirit that makes her perfectly her.

 

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