Category Archives: Me

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You’re here! I’m so excited! On February 26, 2005, I started this blog, and for the next two weeks, I will be looking back at the past TEN YEARS of blogging!

Ten years has gone by in the blink of an eye. At least, it seems so at times. I’ve been browsing back through old posts and, while the style of my photos (lots of borders and filters in the early days) has changed, the core of the posts has not. It started with a few posts about my kids and that’s pretty much the same today. I wrote about things we did, places we traveled, movies I loved, following my love of photography into a business, family, friends, parties, scrapbooking, memories, happy times, sad times, publishing my novel. So much of our life.

Ten years is a really long time.

So, for the next TEN DAYS, I will be looking back, sharing old photos and favorite posts, and there will be GIVEAWAYS!!!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)


I’ve got a paperback copy of my first young adult novel ready to sign. The Truth About Drew was published last May.
It’s a sweet, uplifting, heart-warming story full of friendship and family with a journey to faith and a mystery surrounding a boy and his notebook.
Enter below. Tell a friend! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions at all about the giveaway, feel free to ask.


hello, monday

Wow! I opened my phone up last night to see if there were any pictures I wanted to share this morning. The last picture I took was on Thursday. It was a quiet weekend mostly spent on the couch or doing housework or moving files from this site to my new web host. Exciting, I know.

The process of switching to the new server will take several days. If all goes well, it should be seamless and the site should start loading from the new host without any interruption. My files are in the process of moving from one site to the other, so hopefully this will all go as planned. Crossing my fingers.

Thanks so much for your patience over the past couple weeks.

While transferring files this weekend, I came across some gems and thought I’d re-share some of them since I took zero photos in the past few days.

Remember that tree I mentioned in the Halloween post (if you were able to see it!). Here are a few more pictures I shared that year. It really was so pretty with the colors and the lanterns. Favorite!

Haha! This is me a few years into my wedding photography business with my Lightsphere, affectionately nicknamed among photographers the “Fong Dong” because of its creator, Gary Fong. I took these with the photobooth program on my iMac. Me with freshly colored and curled hair while I was getting ready to head out to Lindsay and Jim’s wedding.

A couple favorites from 2010 at my parents’ farm. Zach silhouette.

And Jake and my brother Tim being their usual silly selves.

What does your week look like? Mine will be all about moving the website and editing, editing and more editing on the book. Last night I realized that, for some reason, Maggie likes to throw things at people. Breadsticks, cell phones, muffins. I don’t know why. She just does. ;)

Happy Monday, all!

Project Life Spotlight and a book giveaway

Every couple weeks, Becky spotlights one of the members of the Project Life Creative Team. Today, it’s my turn to be featured. Hop on over to Becky’s Blog to read more about how I use Project Life.

Also, as a little bonus, Becky is giving away one signed copy of my book. Enter before Monday, August 4th, to win.

for today

Outside my window… It is sunny and bright. High of 55. I’ll take it!

I am thinking… of all the things on my “to do” list and how unmotivated I am to do anything today but blog and read blogs. ;)

I am thankful for… Spring! The long winter really sucked all the life out of me and I’m ready for this new season.

From the kitchen… baked up lots of salmon and sweet potatoes for Jake’s lunches. Jake made a bunch of hard-boiled eggs. Pre-cooked meals and snacks are the way to be successful with our healthy eating.

I am wearing… a minty green/grey striped shirt, jeans and grey moccasin slippers.

I am creating… layouts for our Project Life albums.

I am going… nowhere today and that’s fine by me.

I am reading… my favorite blogs today. Here are a few:

Becky Higgins – Becky shared a recipe today for what looks like delicious chocolate chip banana bread. My mouth is watering right now.
Elise Blaha Cripe – Today, Elise wrote about three things she knows to be true related to small businesses.
Emily Freeman – Emily shared my favorite quote from the movie “Hope Floats” and the announcement of a new website she and her family are starting called “Hopeologie”, about home, family and soul.
Karen Russell – Karen has a new photography guide available, all about focus. I love her recent spring break trip stories, too.
Sara Janssen – I’ve been following Sara since she and her family traveled the country in their veggie-powered motor home. Such fun adventures. Now, she is writing about her life settled in the mountains of Colorado, her family, her home, homeschooling, faith, etc.
All the blogs of my fellow Project Life® Creative Team members – I love reading about their lives and seeing their layouts and getting to know all of them better. Such a great group of girls.

I am hoping… to launch my book by May 1st. Fingers crossed.

I am hearing… the distant sound of a chain saw. Lots of people are finally cutting up the branches that fell in the big December ice storm.

Around the house… so gross … we discovered a mouse had been in our bottom kitchen cupboards, so we set a trap and have caught two. Hopefully no more.

One of my favorite things… 2048. Jake introduced me to this game this weekend and it’s totally addictive. Not that I need another time-sucking game, but it’s got numbers and matching so it must be good for the brain, right? ;)

A few plans for the rest of the week… coloring Easter eggs and frosting cookies, Chloe’s last gymnastics meet of this season, crossing a few things off the “to do” list, some running, some walking, and possibly dinner with Mom and Dad O.

A picture to share…

Project Life® | March layouts

This layout is very different for me. I’m not used to focusing an entire spread on myself and my thoughts. My Project Life albums have always been very much about documenting our life from week to week, the events, travels, etc. But over the past few months, as I’ve been digging into who I am and learning so much about myself, I’ve gotten a little deeper on my blog and the text I used for this layout was from a recent blog post that I thought really showed who I am right now and what kind of things I’m thinking about.

I used the Jade core kit, which has such fun colorful cards but also a lot of great neutral cards as well, which I chose for this layout to go along with some black and white selfies I took of myself for that blog post.

As is the case for a lot of mom photogs out there, I don’t get myself into our album as often as I should. It’s awesome to have so many wonderful pictures of our kids and the day-to-day stuff, but I need to hand off the camera to other people every once in a while or set the TimerCam app on my phone and get more shots of me.

“second thoughts” layout:

Click for slightly larger image

And here are close-ups of the left and right sides of the layout if you want to read the journaling. You can also read it HERE on the original blog post. :)

Products used for this layout:
Jade core kit, Design A and Design D page protectors

2014 album:

Seems like I’ve been doing just a few layouts a month when I get a chance and this month I chose to do only this one for the weekly album. I’m OK with that. I did get photos printed for other layouts, just haven’t put them together yet. No biggie. No pressure.

This was the week of more cold and snow, another snow day, lots of scanning of my Grandma’s negatives and a movie and day at Craigs Cruisers for Chloe’s birthday with her BFF.

Click for slightly larger image

Here’s a close-up of the left side with all the journaling:

Products used for this layout:
Midnight core kit, Design A page protectors

Digital layout:

This was a fun layout I made digitally for a little project for the Creative Team. Zach was such a little rascal for like a week when he turned 3. He was never really one to get into things he shouldn’t or make crazy messes – that would be Chloe – but this butter incident along with dumping out a bunch of baby powder to drive his matchbox cars through were probably the worst messes he ever made and I’m so glad I chose to grab my camera and capture it instead of freaking out and getting mad at him.

Close-ups of left and ride side:

I used the following digital products for this layout:
Boy Theme Cards, Slate Core Kit, Design A and Design D templates.

Note: I hand wrote my journaling on white paper with black marker, scanned it into my computer and cut/pasted/manipulated the text where I wanted it on the page. A little tricky, but I like how it turned out.

Project Life® is an amazing and simple system designed by Becky Higgins to help you get your precious photo memories into albums. For more information, click HERE, like now. ;)

second thoughts

Maybe people look at me and think I’ve got it all together. I’ve got a loving husband and two great kids. I’ve been able to work from home and be at all my kids field trips and class parties and soccer games. I’ve had my photography and scrapbook pages published in magazines. I’ve put “my life” out there on this blog for the past nine years, sharing all our trips and birthdays and moments. But it’s not the whole story. It’s not all pretty pictures and happiness 24/7.

Inside, I’m a swirl of emotions most of the time. But I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding it.

Sometimes I think about that line at the end of Titanic when old Rose says, “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” I’ve always liked that and felt it was true of me. Deep down inside, where nobody but Jesus can see, are wounds and scars and insecurities and doubts and fears. Things I don’t share with anyone.

I could. I could open up more (“open” is my one little word for the year after all). But for some reason, I feel like my deepest secrets are boring to everyone but me. And I’m sure it’s my own insecurity and fear of being hurt that keeps me from sharing. I used to be an open book. My friends from high school and college will tell you. I told them everything that was going on with me and everything that was in my heart. I let them in. What you saw was what you got.

I’ve been reading “A Million Little Ways” by Emily Freeman this week. It’s all about finding the art that God made you to do. One of the things she talks about is “first thoughts” and how a lot of times we edit ourselves and push our first thoughts – our true feelings and desires – back inside and go with our second thoughts instead for fear of failure, of being judged, of not being accepted, to please others.

This is so true of me now.

Maybe it was my broken heart. Maybe it was the years completely consumed by my business, or no longer feeling like our church was “home” anymore. Maybe it was Jake losing his job and the humiliation of going through a bankruptcy, or feeling like a failure – in my business, as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as the maker of our home. Maybe it was just life and years passing by and feeling like I should know what I’m doing by now. But I don’t.

I don’t think I’ll ever have it all figured out. This life. And I don’t think we’re supposed to. I think we’re supposed to question and search and seek answers. And I’m OK knowing that one day, I’ll get to sit down with Jesus and all the things that I never quite figured out here in this earthly life will make complete sense because they won’t matter at all. Things that seemed to be the hugest deal will pale in comparison to sitting in His presence and knowing that THIS is where I’m meant to be. HE is what matters most. No second thoughts about that.

monday’s list

Such a weird weekend overall. The kind you wish you could do over or, better yet, just forget every happened. Maybe it’s the cold and this never-ending winter. We were all kind of on edge and on each others’ nerves.

The bright spot of the weekend (aside from overall grumpy attitudes) was Chloe’s gymnastics meet. She did really well and scored three blue ribbons and one red. They also held a handstand contest when the meet events were over and she won for the ages 9-11 group. So fun.

At church on Sunday, as I was trying to climb past someone to sit with my parents, I hit my knee cap really hard on the little wooden cubby that holds the hymnals. Ouch! I crumpled onto the pew and started rubbing my knee, tears filling my eyes, trying to grit through the pain. Oh man, it hurt. Mom gave me a kleenex so I could wipe my tears and I sat with a throbbing knee all through the service. So stupid. Had to sit with my leg up for the afternoon.

Jake had to run errands for me since my plan to go to the store was ruined. I was just annoyed by the whole thing, which kept the grumpiness going in our house. I needed to have some pictures printed for my Project Life layouts so I could get them submitted by today. I had hoped to get them all photographed yesterday, but by the time I had the prints in hand, it was getting too late and not enough light. I always use the natural light in the kitchen or dining room to photograph my pages. So I had to wait until this morning to do it. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. But I got it done.

My knee is feeling better today. Still tender, but not painful to walk on. Thankful for that.

I really think this winter is getting to me. I haven’t been happy about it from the start, but after a while, it really does start to kill your mood. I’m trying to stay positive, but it seems there is no end in sight. More cold and more snow this week. The temperature right now … 7.

And this weather zaps all motivation to clean or work on projects inside the house. I’ve got a list a mile long, but all I want to do is put on my cozy robe and get under blankets to stay warm.

Lately, I’ve been doing just that.

I have been working on my book. While wearing the robe. With blankets over my lap. I’ve got quite a system going. I scan Grandma’s negatives and edit the book at the same time. When one strip is done, I put another in and start that one scanning, resize the images and save them in a folder by date (if I know it), then I edit some more on the book, and repeat the process. Multi-tasking! Yeah!

Well, this isn’t much of a “list” today. Ah well.

Next up, I’ll be sharing several Project Life pages with you. A nice big post. I’m still loving it and loving how being on the team is motivating me to work on my albums more. See ya’ back here tomorrow! ;)


One afternoon, during our Florida vacation, while some were napping and others were swimming, I had some time to reflect on the trip and think about the things that I had been trying not to think about all week (it was only a month or so after Dave’s funeral and my mind was still very much on the events of that day). I sat on the balcony sipping coffee, watching Chloe and our niece, Scarlett, swimming down below, and it struck me how carefree and light things are for them.

Oh, how I longed to feel that lightness again.

If only I could guard their little hearts from ever having to feel the kind of heartbreak I have felt. I prayed then that God would spare them that and lead them each to the right man, one who will cherish and adore them and treat them right.

Before I knew it, tears were falling down my cheeks.

It’s difficult to look back at the girl I was twenty years ago, so young and naive, so blind to everything but him. So focused on future plans that I didn’t notice what was going on around me. I want to shake that girl and yell “Wake up!” I guess with age and experience come clarity and understanding. I can look back now and see things so differently. We were just kids. I was only 8 years older than Chloe is now. What? So young. But in all our vast teenage wisdom, we thought we knew what we wanted.

God knew better.

I thought I felt it then … the lightness. Before everything went wrong. I think it was there at times, in the happier moments. I’m starting to accept that there were some of those. But for all these years, it was just easier to make myself believe that it was all a lie, that there was no love there at all. It was the only way I could move on. But it wasn’t true. I know that now.

I’m beginning to let a little thankfulness seep through as the memories flow – for those happy moments, for the years of friendship that led to us. I choose not to focus on the bad. I’ve focused on that enough over the years. The things we go through change us and, while my heart still feels heavy over it all, hopefully, one day, it will feel a little of that lightness again.

monday’s list

• I’ve been sick with the flu for a week now. Not the best way to start the new year. Jake started coming down with it on Friday, too. Two sick parents is not good. Our poor children have had to fend for themselves. :( Pretty much spent the past week on the couch. Am more than ready to get my energy back!

• Only two days of school last week after all the snow days. Such a weird January so far.

• Good news for Zach. They have rescheduled the class ice skating field trip that was cancelled due to a snow/ice day. I was so disappointed for him to not have that last fun Christmas event his last year of middle school. Good call rescheduling that.

• Loving all the Project Life Creative Team girls sharing their pages this week. If you get a chance, check out their blogs. They’ve got some great layouts.

Here’s to a healthier week ahead. hopefully. ;)

20 days

Today is the first day the kids are back to school after the foot of snow we got last weekend. Three snow days this week extending our Christmas break to 20 days. I’m thankful for the extra days off. I started feeling a bit of a sore throat on Monday and ended up with a painful cough and a fever that’s been hovering back and forth between 99 – 102 for the past couple days. The worst part is the headache, which I can’t seem to shake. No fever meds/pain relievers are taking that away. Chloe had this over the weekend and complained of her head hurting so I know it will pass soon. It’s just miserable and has kept me from doing anything around here. The kitchen counter is piled a mile high with dirty dishes. The Christmas tree is still up. The table is covered with piles of papers, books, boxes, Project Life stuff. Really hoping I feel better this weekend so I can start getting caught up on some of this stuff, but for now, I’m taking it easy so I can get well.

I did spend a little time Project Life’ing (yes, it can be used as a verb!) the other day on a couple pages from December and the cover page for my 2014 album. I’ll share those soon as well as another album I’m excited to work on this year.

AJAXed with AWP