My Office Sanctuary

When we first moved in to our new house in May, our office furniture was kind of thrown into its place and with everything else going on, it really hasn’t been touched since. So it’s look like this for the last 5 months:


Boring. Sad. Depressing. Something needed to be done.

These past 2-3 months have been so incredibly busy but wonderful for my budding photography hobby and I’ve been clocking many, many hours at this desk every night, trying to keep up with my own life. Last weekend my husband went out and splurged on me, purchasing us a new MacBook laptop. It’s such a sleek, fast, beautiful piece of machinery and it motivated me to get my “space” together. I actually already owned many of the things I am now using in my office, so it was just a matter of taking some time to get myself organized – and I love the way it turned out!

A couple of my favorite things: I created a Kate Spade-inspired scripture print and used a frame I already owned = a completely free wall print. I snagged the globe from Goodwill for $0.50 last winter and it’s sat in a box since then and I was excited to finally find a place for it. I also found a sugar jar on sale at Target for $3 with a cute tiny chalkboard label on it that I am using as a pencil holder. And of course, my favorite Greenroom notebooks that I take on every shoot with me.

Pretty, comfy, organized and inspiring 🙂

We also changed out the lighting in this room. As a general rule, our house had awful lighting in it. Everything was straight from 1980 and hadn’t been touched in 35 years. Burnt orange ceiling fans and old, dated fixtures. So it’s something we’ve slowly replaced throughout the house and it’s amazing what a HUGE difference good lighting makes in a room – it instantly looks modern and brand new! Our office used to be the old dining room but we converted another space in our home for that so this gaudy gold chandelier had to go. My bruised head thanks my husband for finally changing it out – we’ve bumped it so many time and we’ve sworn all summer it needed to go.

Bon voyage, gaudy 1980’s light with too many bulbs!



Our Great Lake

Last week while we were on our vacation, my husband made an off-hand, wistful comment of, “Why don’t we move up here and live on the lake?” I agreed with him – how great would that be? Then I remembered that we literally live 3 minutes from our very own lake. Hm.

Why was that so easy to forget?

As kids, my mom took us to the lake all the time. She grew-up in Lorain and the lake was like her backyard. Sure, we never belonged to a fancy yacht club or owned a million-dollar lakeside mansion. But did we need to?  We visited Put-In-Bay, camped on Kelly’s Island, ate icecream at Huntington and watched 4th of July fireworks at Lakeview. It’s easy to be a  negative-nancy and talk about how dirty, murky and contaminated our lake is, but where is all our pride? It’s great to see so much effort and love going into cherishing our lake, protecting its ecosystem, clearing out the litter and garbage…and I think the time for a lake revival is here!

The water isn’t always bluer on another lake

So thinking about how much we take Lake Erie for granted, I made a promise to enjoy our own beautiful Great Lake more fully and thoroughly. This doesn’t have to mean buying a big yacht and traveling the seas but just delighting in the fact that we have one of God’s great lakes right here in Northeast Ohio.

Yes, summer is coming to an end but we didn’t let that stop us. Today we spent our morning in Vermilion at the Main Street Beach. We had the beach to ourselves and we collected rocks and played in the sand. The sun was shining and all was right in our piece of the world.

Our Adventures in Michigan

It’s Sunday evening at home and I am gearing up for a new week with laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and reviewing our calendar. We just saw my husband off on another airplane, this time west to Boise for the week. I can’t help feel a little wistful that my vacation is officially coming to an end. Reality begins again very early tomorrow morning and I’m left to face it by myself.

My family just returned from a week in Michigan, enjoying the adventures that “America’s High Five” has to offer. It was blissful, relaxing, peaceful and yet energizing, rejuvenating, inspiring all at the same time. It was perfect. I didn’t want to leave.

We visited Grand Rapids and Saugatuck the first couple of days then drove up to the Upper Peninsula and spent the rest of the week in a cabin on Fisher Lake in Glen Arbor that belongs to a family member of my husband’s. There are so many lakes and bays in this whole area, making the water visible and accessible from pretty much any where you go. Every turn of the road offers a new breathtaking view of the blue, crystal clear lake and I couldn’t get enough of it. Every town is a coastal town, giving the trip a very nautical, seaside feel and I fell in love with the entire vacation. What is it about water that automatically relaxes me? We must go back.

We explored Glen Arbor and Glen Haven, spent time in Leland, a historic fishing town, and Traverse City, one of the larger cities in the area. We didn’t watch a single minute of t.v. and it was truly amazing. The air was so crisp and clear and my kids thrived being outdoors all day long for an entire week. We went boating, kayaking, biking, canoeing and swimming. We played on the beach and visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We went on hikes and read books on a hammock next to the lake. We ate lots of local sea food and not nearly enough ice cream. We shopped at local galleries, artisan shops and vendors. We shopped at a apothecary shop and a lavender oil and soap company that was incredibly inspiring and amazing. We visited museums and historical landmarks. We made a quick stop on the way home in Frankenmuth and were completely overwhelmed by Bronner’s.

It was perfect. I didn’t want to leave. We must go back.

My Pro-Life Ice Bucket Challenge

I knew this day would inevitably come – I finally got nominated to do the ALS Bucket Challenge by my brother-in-law today.  I’ve seen video after video fill up my Facebook news feed and requests to donate to the cause ( I’ve also seen people actually grumble about the videos clogging up with their feeds that would normally be filled with complaints, negativity, celebrity nonsense, selfies, and clutter and noise. I love that this has gone viral and brought so much attention and money to actually HELPING people who really and truly need it.

I’ll admit, I know very little about ALS (or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and I can’t even begin to empathize with the people who suffer from it or the caretakers who lovingly support and care for these people around the clock. I won’t even pretend to be an expert or say I’ve given this disease much thought before this campaign started. So naturally, I wanted to investigate into what I’m exactly donating towards and see where all this campaign’s success was going.

Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t one I could stand behind.

I’ve never been the silent type when it comes to my faith and it’s no secret that I’m adamantly pro-life so this ALS bucket challenge is no different for me. In 2013, contributed over $500,000 to NEALS (Northeast ALS Consortium) and I’m sure that dollar amount will be much higher with all their fundraising success this year.

Here’s where the problem for me lies – NEALS conducts embryonic stem cell research on electively aborted babies past the 8-week pregnancy mark. Research on aborted babies. It actually made me sick to my stomach when I read this. All those unwanted babies, not only treated like disposable garbage by their own mothers but then passed along to be dissected and experimented on without their own consent. All those precious tiny toes and little  fingers, kissable chubby cheeks and bubbly giggles, small hearts that will never beat in this world and curious eyes that will never see their mother’s face. Not okay.

JP2Instead, my donation for ALS will be going towards John Paul II Medical Research Institute, an organization that is dedicated to pro-life ethical research for ALS and many other neurological diseases. People like this are the reasons we are doing this and the reason why research is so important – this is a deadly, scary disease and it affects real people.

But I urge you, no matter where your donations dollar goes, to investigate how and where your money is being used and make sure it aligns with your own beliefs. Don’t donate just to donate but put your dollar into something you truly believe in. For me, it’ll always be LIFE.

Without further ado, here’s my video 🙂


Cozi: our new Family Organizer

Do you ever have one of those moments when you look at your calendar and just feel overwhelmed? Heavy? Disorganized?

I went through that over the weekend when I was single-moming it, had 2 photo shoots, my husband traveling, a project due for my childhood church…and my laptop completely crashed. So  I decided to take control over our family’s schedule because being disorganized is a feeling I am not use to and is highly avoidable.

My husband travels somewhat often for work, usually 2-3 a month or more but never regularly or consistently so I have problems keeping track of his schedule. Fall gymnastics, swimming and story times for the kids are starting back up and I am scheduling photo shoots through the end of the fall season already – so many wonderful blessings in our lives! But so many things to keep track of…

Problem solved!

My husband and I downloaded a shared family organizer/calendar app called Cozi and we paid the extra $29 for the yearly subscription because the extra “Gold” features are worth it for us and I hate all the pop-up ads that kept appearing with the free version.

We haven’t delved into all the detail too much and I’m sure there are so many calendars out there that do the same things, but we had to just pick one. I already love that we are able to create users for each family member (including our pup!) and color code our calendar depending on who’s event it is. It makes it easy to read and see what exactly is going on and reminders can be sent to any of the users so nothing is ever forgotten. As my husband makes changes to his calendar, I am able to see the updates in real-time on my calendar. There are also to-do lists for my ever-turning brain and a grocery list which is so convenient when one of us is doing the shopping.

With the month of September pretty much booked up with a vacation, work trips, photo shoots, weddings and classes, we will be putting Cozi through the test for sure.

Let’s do this!

One of Those Moms

Yes, I am one of those moms. I enjoy photography and I obviously love my kids so I tend to photograph all the small moments I cherish throughout our day. Like my Dad showing the kids how to garden, or practicing how to write her name with my daughter, or my son having a “moment” with his dog, or Sunday morning snuggles in our pajamas before church. You know – the little moments that warms a mama’s heart and fills me with such joy.

Maybe I overshare on Instagram but I don’t care. Because they make me feel happy and loved. And blessed beyond words.

The Beast that is My Hair

Haircuts are one of my favorite things. The pampering, washing, combing, trimming off old dead ends – I love it and I always look forward to it. I really want to get my hair cut now but I’m never sure of what to do to it exactly.

I have such a love-hate relationship with my hair because really does have a mind of its own. I love how thick and full it is, and yet I hate how thick and full it is. Sometimes I love my big, unruly hair and other times I just want it to be easy and quick. My hair is more like a mane and actually doing my hair is never quick because there’s just so much of it. But I can usually can do anything I want it to – it holds a curls nicely and I can manage to straighten it every once in a great while.

And then I throw the whole being-a-mom thing into the mix, which means 5 days out of my week, I’m in a simple tee and worn-in jeans, sometimes with my hair in a bun, sometimes hiding it under a hat. I don’t have a lot of time (or energy) to devote to making my hair perfect every morning, nor do I even care to.

My main problem is I haven’t really found the “perfect” length or style for it. I never know whether, having so much hair, if it’s better to keep it long or just chop it all off. When it’s short, it’s so full and fluffy that I feel like it looks like a mushroom. When it’s long it’s so unmanageable and I just keep it in a ponytail the whole time. I’m usually somewhere in the middle, but I get bored so easily with it. I’m pretty sure I’ve been every color under the moon although I’ve been my natural blonde for some time now.

I have had my hair really, really short.

I have had my hair really, really long.

And most of the time, I usually wear it somewhere in between.

When it air dries, it’s naturally very wavy, like this:

What I wouldn’t give to have a personal hairdresser just do my hair each day…

Thoughts? Ideas? Help!!!!

Ah well…maybe I’ll just pull a Britney and buzz it all off.