Category Archives: musings

Getting back into it

I’m sad to say that with the move to our new home, I needed to make sure there was constant work coming in for Lifelong Impressions Photography in order to make all of our living expenses happen.  We love the new home as we have spent so much time choosing the right one among custom home designs, as well as the new people we live with, but one casualty of this change is this family blog has gotten severely neglected since those plans went into place.  I’m ready to make some commitments to even out my time to this personal blog, Lifelong Impressions Photography and the new creative website my friend Aleesha and I love doing!  This is the year of bringing balance back into our lives.  Finding a way to work smarter and finding all the joy we can capture in this life.  Can’t wait to see what happens!!

One of the new things in our life we love is a local charter school called Exploris Middle and Elementary School {currently taking applications for 2015-16 school year}!!!  Found HERE on Facebook.  The twins were so lucky to get into the brand new elementary school opened up by Exploris Middle School.  They are an amazing school with dedicated leaders and teachers.  The kids are absolutely delighted to go to school most days.  The school is a project based school with an emphasis on experiences in learning.  We love this philosophy and love seeing it in action.  The classes are very dynamic with adjustments made all the time in reading groups and other aspects of learning as the children grown and progress.

Blake and Mia are now 6 {excited to turn 7 in April}.  This is what they looked like at the beginning of the year.

The elementary school classes combine grades so there is K/1, 2/3 and 3/4.  It is a similar structure their Montessori preschool had with ages 3-6 all together.  I love this structure.  It fosters such a great shared learning experience and helps the older kids learn leadership skills while younger ones learn to accept peer help and all learn cooperation.  The teachers are all very enthusiastic, especially with the general public school structure and philosophy.

We were so worried about schools when we were attending out super amazing Montessori preschool.  There were just so many things I heard and saw about the education philosophy & practices here that were worrisome.  This school has been the fresh air we needed and we have found the right fit for our family as the kids go through their school career.

One small thing that is really cool is a program called Explorations.  These are 5-6 week modules one day a week for two hours.  Parents, teachers and community members sign up to lead a group of children for a 1 or 2 hour block in a course.  The courses range from The People in our Neighborhood {walking or bus riding to different local places}, yoga, circus training, culture, reading or pretty much anything parents are good at or can dream up to share with the kids.  I led a recent one for photography.    Maddie {who goes by Mia at school} selected my module while Blake chose The People in our Neighborhood.

Here are some images taken in the last couple weeks.

These next few are from the kids classroom.  Their teacher is a big Dr. Suess fan.

The clocks show the cadence of their day.

Monday was our last adventure as a group.  We tried to gather together for a group shot.  One of the moms was using my camera to capture us.  I think it is funny how the girls were there with me and the boys are sooooo not cooperating for a group shot.  This action shot of trying to gather everyone makes me laugh.  Mia was a bit sad and grumpy that day too.

Happy Halloween 2013!!!

Halloween is so much fun.  One of the amazing things about being part of a church community is the, well for lack of a different word…


I’m from a very very large metro area.  Phoenix, AZ.  It is so large with millions and millions of people spread across the valley floor and beyond.  We have lived in the Garner, NC are for 8 years now.  With each successive year it feels more wonderful.  We know more people.  We feel more intertwined in all of its doings.  Our church family is a large part of feeling of right and love.

How funny.  This wasn’t at all the direction my blog post was going to take.  My original thoughts were just to mention our family celebrated Halloween with our church family last Friday.  Then on Wednesday the kids got to wear their costumes again for a school party.  Yesterday we headed out after school to the Garner business trick or treat at White Deer Park.  Different business and community organizations set up tables periodically along a mile long path handing out candy, flyers and the requisite toothpaste {when did toothpaste become a thing???}.  

We dressed alongside the car and set of excitedly to meet up with Guy who had to arrive separately.

We had our dragon/lizard, sherif Woody and Cinderella.

Being as how Guy wasn’t there yet, there was no one to rush me past a pretty site for a picture of the kids.  Yes, he, like most men, have little patience for stops not on task.

I quite love the resulting image.

Landon’s costume does have wings, but he did not think they were for him.  Thus, our little dragon was affectionately called a lizard.

This face kills me!

My little Blake is so ‘On Task’ with a serious quest to do the best he can.  Here, he was convinced that his hat would come off without his knowing it.  After a while he finally figured out it would stay on just fine  and relaxed.  

{man unknown}  Landon was lagging behind until I told him daddy was ahead.  

Little did we know he was actually coming from the side and behind us!  After getting a tap on his shoulder, Landon backed away until he realized it was his dad.  lol  This is where it starts to dawn on him it is his dad. 

At the beginning of a long event they are always so peppy and happy.  Twoards the end it was all….  “Mom, I’m tired. My tummy hurts.  Can I have a candy now?”

For the past year, I’ve been pretty obsessed with color images.  All of a sudden my love love of B&W images is back!  Did I mention yet it was a warm and balmy 75 degrees yesterday with thick low clouds?   Awesome!!!  It is never fun to pile on layers under, over or around costumes.Back to this image!  I adore Landon holding Guy’s hand, a little part of Maddie and Blake looking back.  :

They were checking out each others beginning hauls.  Soon the boys buckets were overflowing.

“Dad, I need to tell you someping.”

There are times I wished Landon looked 2.  He TOTALLY got Halloween.  He loved every moment of taking his bucket, saying trick or treat and watching his stash get larger and larger.  He was the only one who had to have a candy while actively trick or treating.  He would get there first, then circle back around the other kids to hit up the person for another offering.  lol  We tried to curtail this, of course, and teach him to only go once, wait his turn and the like.  If we weren’t super hawk eye watching the stinker, he was off to the next station or checking out the music blasting from the middle of the park.  Seeing a 4 year old kid isn’t a worry.  If you see a 1 or 2 year old apparently separated from their parents it is a worry.  Had he gotten farther away from us then he did, people would be unlikely to worry much seeing him not next to a parent.  Scary.

The kids were all excited about the pinwheels.  Of course, we passed one on the ground which I did not pick up after making sure we had our three.  Not 10 minutes later  Maddie has lost her pinwheel.  Why, oh why, did I not listen to the prompting to pick up that stray pinwheel??

This girl is soooo pretty to me.  I adore her.

The fall color is finally taking hold this last day of October.  

Towards the end when the kids steps got heavier, spirits lagged and the cowboy hat was toooo much for Blake’s head, daddy saves the day with head and hands full of kids items.  No, he isn’t mad, he’s just a big intimidating Guy with a strait face.

Guy took off to get his car while we stopped to give everyone an opportunity to veg & do their own thing. 

Madison Loved the teeth.

Blake had a tougher time figuring it out.

And wasn’t super excited to wear them…  She wore hers for 20-30 minutes.  lol

Even though we called Landon a lizard since he didn’t wear the dragon wings.  He called himself a dragon exclusively, because he loved to roar with his hands up in claws.  Too bad no one was paying him attention.  

Mad ran on ahead to the car so she could peal off her itchy dress that had already been half off most of the time.  :-) That’s my girl.  Loves the dresses and hates itchy seams.  Landon followed suit asking for his costume off as soon as his feet were in the car.  The car looked like we had been living in it with so many clothes items, lunch pails, shoes, hoodies, candies, camera bag and more strewn about.  Guy had to help me get it all in the house.

Random bits

Quotes are amazing!  Sometimes they make us think or laugh or cry or roll our eyes or have a major epiphany.

My favorite quote to live by is:

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

A quote I grew up reading on our wall and wish it was more ingrained in me:

Be careful of the words you say

From day to day

Keep them soft and sweet

You never know which ones

You’ll have to eat

Today I saw a quote on Pinterest {follow me HERE} that really moved me:

I value my work,

but it doesn’t define me.

When I work, I do excellent work,

but when I am home,

I’m immersed there.

  – by Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla

Wow, that is my deepest desire to accomplish in life right now.  I’m trying to do my best with scheduling as people call me to book their family, maternity, newborn, senior & wedding sessions.  If I book at a certain pace, I can manage my work and be an integral part of my family really living!  If I book with a certain pace and additional weeks of overload, my life doesn’t settle for months.  As of now the next 4 months is booked at the perfect pace, I think.  So excited to see how this all goes!!!!

Also today, I put a status update on Facebook that quite a few people hit the Like button on and some commented.  Well, here is the comment again along with an image….  lol

One of these days my cooked veggie dishes will be tasty to my kids. Todays very yummy zucchini cakes with a cool dill yogurt sauce was gagged and dry heaved back onto the plate! People pay good money for this stuff in restaurants!!! Seriously kids, you WILL love this stuff someday.  Until then I will keep plugging away as the ONLY person in my family who will eat cooked veggies {the ones that need to be cooked} and make them try everything every time it is in front of them.

A future garden

One of the things my mom is dreaming of doing in her retirement {less the 1/2 a year!!!} is growing a garden.  She has all these imaginings and told me she has already  done some drawings of the raised garden beds she wants.  Way to plan mom, so you don’t have to squat or bend over when working the garden!  I’ve also started a garden board on Pinterest with all kinds of vertical garden ideas plus whatever interesting tips pop up.  You can check out the garden pins HERE.

The kids last few weeks of school were very much about nature and gardening.  To say that has been their favorite topic since starting school two years ago is an understatement.  Madison is especially enamored with the whole growing process.  They would excitedly talk about how their seeds are progressing and how things grow.  They also learned a lot of technical terms about plants and flowers.  Love it!!

They each brought home a plant they started from a seed.

Little plug here:  Montessori education is amazing!!  We love Country Garden Montessori and the two fabulous teachers there! {We’re having the kids attend kindergarden there as well!!!  All of us are really excited to see what they learn this year.}

Blake’s plant grew a bit taller and Maddie had the first flower as shown here.

Of course, all three kids were happy but completely unable to look at the camera at once.  lol  I still love their expressions and interactions in all the images.  It is real life.

The plants are both still doing great weeks later in front of our townhouse.  The kids haven’t lost any interest in looking at them every day and making sure we water them appropriately.  For them it means 2-3 times a day…  lol  Good thing we keep in check on the water.  They would have drowned the poor plants weeks ago.

Now that school is approaching quickly, we are thinking of things we should probably jump on to help them start on the best footing.  There are all these wonderful apps to download for iPads that are free or have decent free versions especially geared towards the Montessori education.   The goal is to have them do those ‘games’ for 20 minutes a day leading up to the start of school.  

This face cracks me up.  It’s the face he gives when he is asked to smile or thinks he needs to smile on cue.  lol  Most of the time joking around with this kid is the only way to get a real smile out of him.  This one is adorable though and will certainly give future girl friends a laugh.  :-)

Growing up

Growing up.

At different times of my life these two words have had vastly different meanings.   The last few months I feel like I personally have grown up a lot.  Until someone in your own immediate circle like a similarly aged family member or very close friend has a life threatening event or dies I think we mistakenly feel like life is definitely going to be long.  When something happens so very close to you with someone you have spend important parts of your life with this outlook suddenly changes.  My ‘baby’ cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer around Christmas time.  We are only four years apart.  It seems like her outlook is good and the course of action will kick cancers butt.  There was still that initial reaction, plus the lack of guarantee her treatments will work for sure.  I have faith and hope the outcome will be wonderful.  I envision us doing our annual cruise together next year with the warm sun all around us as we tackle some fun new adventure or just explore along a beach.

{Amber with her youngest of 3 daughters}

But still…

Now I make more time for snuggling with the kids, and have made sure to cut off work to spend time with the family on days Guy is home.  We have always valued our family time.  We love to spend time together.  Playing with the kids making funny noises, chasing and tickles is a daily part of our life.  Hopefully, it is a daily tradition we can continue long after the normal age where kids do not like to be around their parents.


They are growing up.  Each of our children has gained much maturity of late.  The big kids carry on thoughtful conversations as they continually map out their world around them and how all of the pieces of life come together.  Our baby is losing his little baby face morphing into the cheeky toddler.

Madison still wishes to be a princess and marry a prince, but now she also wants to be a photographer as she is starting to recognize the value of work in life.  She is much more helpful around the house with less complaining too.  Every day she comes up with an outfit to wear based on her mood.  Sometimes I let the whacky tacky look be her suit of armor for the day.  Other times I coach her into a more pleasing match or weather appropriate outfit.  This girl is an artist who will draw image after image one after another for over an hour.  Each scene will have it’s own story or plot.  She loves to show of her work looking for glowing approval at her brilliance.

Blake is our responsible man in the making with a very emotional side.  He looks forward to waking early enough to crawl into bed with me and snuggle.  He offers to do the 30 second back scratch as a way to make mommy extra happy.  He’s also hoping mommy will rub his back for a while basking in the individual attention.  We lost him at Disney world in January.  We had Karissa watch the other kids as we each headed out in search of him.  Around the 15 minute mark our friend, Molly, found him happily chatting with a Disney employee.  He knew who to find once he couldn’t find us.  This was a fantastic moment for him to really show us how smart our little 4 year old is!   Blake is looking forward with single minded ness to being just like his daddy and tries to do everything the way he does.

Landon bug is a happy bug.   He has no interest in potty training much to my disappointment.  He will have no choice in July though!  :-)   The kid thinks babysitters are his own personal bonuses in life as he most often eagerly heads off with them.  This week he has been boinging around the house much like a little joey kangaroo.  Working with electronics must be his calling in life as I’ve never seen a kid so in love with anything phone, notepad, TV, movie or other electronic.  His brain is a homing device eagerly noticing and claiming the nearest electronic.  So far he has figured out how to work any electronic not password protected of ours plus any friend or clients have.  It’s quite amazing to watch him intuitively poke around devices as he gets the type of program he wants working.  We have ALL of ours password protected, but he still figures out how to get onto my emergency calling so he can activate the numbers screen.  The Wiggles are his very favorite show too.   Me thinks we are in trouble.

Its all the little and big moments in our lives.  Spending time with those that matter to us most is how we make life so very worth while.  Growing up isn’t so bad after all.  I know we’ll encounter more sorrow, more disappointment, more love, more laughter and more spiritual moments.  Each step of the way our lives will be enriched as will our compassion, knowledge, skills and love.