Monthly Archives: December 2017

I LOVE to read ya’ll!  I’ve always been a bookwork all my life.  Point me in the direction of a library or the book store and you won’t find me again for hours.  I also love the feel of books more than my kindle but I won’t lie, I do own a kindle.  Sometimes the actual need to have a new book right when I finish one wins over the actual smell and feel of the pages.

Once I became a mom, the number of books I can actually read in a year decreased. There’s just not enough hours in the day and sadly, my nights (which is my favorite time to read) started to become shorter and shorter as I found myself falling asleep earlier and earlier.

However, I do still find SOME time to read and this year has been an incredible year for me in books and I can’t wait to share with you some of my most favorite!

Like I said before I love ALL kinds of books so you will find a little bit of EVERYTHING in this list!  If you love fantasy, hey I got you covered.  If you want to better your life or yourself, I got that covered too, in a BIG WAY!  If your looking for a feel good book to just take you away:  got that one in the bag!

Are you ready?!  I hope you are because I’m just super excited to share!  I’m sharing this because some of these books had a HUGE impact on my life, ya’ll they CHANGED IT in a big way.  I mean the Kindness Diaries… WOW!  Other’s, ya’ll they took me away, they helped me escape and sometimes we all just need that!

Books have such an enormous power to do these things and I feel like we could all better our lives by taking a few moments to carve just 10 minutes out of our day to read more!  Heck one of the books on my list for next year talks about exactly that!

So here we go, in NO specific order because ya’ll, that would just be WAY to hard!  Maybe one of these books might spark a change in your life, or help you to escape!  You just never know!

  • THE FOUR AGREEMENTS:  Wow ya’ll, I could write an entire blog post on this book alone!  This book is short, sweet and to the point!  It’s the perfect little book about a code of conduct ALL of us should be following on a daily basis!  Be impeccable with your word, Don’t take anything personally, Don’t make assumptions, and always do your best!  These four agreements seem incredibly simple but when you actually think about your life, can  you honestly say you live them all the way?  The best part about this book is not what these four agreements are but how and WHY we NEED to be living them that makes it should a necessary read, especially in these days and times where social media is king!  I have found myself coming back to this short and simple book again and again and I find myself trying to instill these four agreements into Linc.  At the end of the day there is nothing more important than who we are as people and how we represent ourselves.  Are we kind?  Are we truthful?  Are we doing are best each and every day?  Are we serving others?  If you are looking for a book to better yourself in the new year, this is a great short read!
  • The Kindness Diaries:  I think I’ve talked about this one before and currently you can watch it on netflix (I haven’t done that yet so I can’t honestly say how the movie is compared to the book!)  This book gives me goosebumps just even talking about it!  It just changed my world!  It’s a true story of a man who decides to embark on a journey with only his yellow motorcycle.  He leaves his wealth behind and decides to see if he can travel the world on the kindness of strangers.  Along the way, he is touched by the stories of other’s frequently talking about the desire for true connection!  What is most inspiring about this book is hearing these stories of all these incredible people, really strangers, who decide to take him in, another stranger, and give him what little they have themselves.  What’s even more amazing and what gives me the goosebumps is how this incredible man who is making this journey finds a way to give back to these people who are unsuspecting in the most generous and wonderful ways!  This book just leaves you with the most beautiful feeling that deep down people really are good!  People want to connect and help one another and in a world with so much hurt going on, this book just brings hope and love and joy!  It made me want to scoop up my little family and travel to world giving whatever we could to whomever we could.  It made me want to listen to everyone’s life stories and learn all we can from people!  That is what life is all about:  our shared stories and how we can truly learn from one another!
  • The Night Circus:  This is a book I read a while ago, but re-read it again this year and had to put it on this list!  If you are a fantasy lover, please pick up this book and give it a read!  This book is filled with magic, mystery and a forbidden romance!  This was a book I could not put down and read long into the night and early morning hours.  It was magical in every sense of the word.  The characters are incredible and beautifully well written and developed.  The circus itself is divine.  I didn’t want the book to end and I’m still searching for a book as magical and entertaining as this one.  If you loved Harry Potter, you will love this book.  They are two very different books altogether but they are the same type of page turners!  I can’t give away any more details of the book because it’s just too perfect to share!
  • Big Magic:  If you are a creative, this book is a MUST!  It was such a great read and one that just clicked for me on so many levels!
  • On Fire:  7 choices to a radically inspired life!  Ok wow!  This book I listened to on audible and holy moly it was an inspiring book!  His story alone is one that will make you hold your breath and gasp out loud all at the same time and I know that seems impossible but I’m here to tell you it’s not because that’s exactly what I did!  I listened to the majority of this book while I was driving to and from a photo shoot at the beach and I was just glued to every single word he spoke!  I want to go back this year and actually read the book because I retain more when I can see the words and ya’ll, his message and words are powerful.  His story is tragic and beautiful all at the same time.  He is inspiring and if you are a person of faith, you NEED to read this book!
  • The Library at Mount Char:  Ok Woah guys!  I got this recommendation of Melissa Hartwig’s instagram account and her warning was that this book was creepy good!  I started this on the airplane to Virginia Beach when I was going for a visit with Linc.  Let’s just say it was a good thing Linc was sleeping in the bed with me that trip because creepy good doesn’t quite describe it all the way!  I stayed up way past my bed time to read this book and creepy doesn’t even come close to what this book is.  It’s twisted and a lot messed up but sometimes you need that in your life!  It’s like Harry Potter and the Night Circus came together with the Magicians but in a world where dark things happen.. a lot!  It’s a darker read than I normally would like but as I said before, sometimes you just need to break out of your box and it’s all good! I have to admit, I was confused, a lot.  I was still somewhat confused in the end but I didn’t hate that about the book or the author.  It actually made the ending better for me that I was left a little bit hung up.  It’s one of those books that I will probably pick up again when I need to totally escape!  For me, it’s probably the closest I will ever come to a Stephen King novel!
  • Rules for a Knight: This book was given to Tuck by my dad to give to Linc one day.  So, naturally I was curious and scanned it.  Scanning lead to eventually reading this gem and it is a gem.  It’s a super short read and one that is a great book for father’s and sons or anyone really that is in love with knights.  The book was written by Ethan Hawke about a knight who was afraid he wouldn’t survive battle.  This knight wrote letters to his surviving children about all that he learned through his life giving them a code of conduct to live by.  The story is beautiful and the code is something that truly everyone could use:  humility, forgiveness, grace, courage, pride and patience are among many of the characteristics he writes about.  It’s a book I hope that one day Linc comes to cherish!

I’ve read lots more books this year but these are the ones that really stood out for me!  Ones that I will keep coming to time and time again if I’m asked for a recommendation or what I read this past year that will go on my list of books that stuck with me!

Books on my list for 2018:  My goal is to read 10 books~  Here is the list I have going so far.  If you have any recommendations, I would LOVE to hear!  Notice this list is LONGER than 10… I like to shoot big and I also like options, so if I hit 10 out of these lists… I’m a happy camper!  I would love for you to read along with me because you never know what could change your life!

Miracle Morning:  Hal Elrod

The Child Finder:  Rene Denfield

Alone:  Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean

Daring Greatly:  Brene Brown

Option B:  Sheryl Sandberg

Rising Strong: Brene Brown

When Breath Becomes Air:  Paul Kalanithi

This is Water:  David Foster Wallace

Start Punch Fear in the Face:  Jon Acuff

The Energy Bus: Jon Gordon

The Slight Edge:  Jeff Olson

(Ya’ll, I might need help with this one above right here, but my girl Alli says this book changed her business so I’m going to go big with this book and commit!  Ya’ll gotta help me through this one here!  Anyone want join me on this one?!)



This is something that has been on my heart for a while to share, but as a mom and a parent, I’m never going to be truly 100% comfortable putting out there.  This is something that is incredibly personal and makes our family vulnerable, but I know we aren’t the only ones out there that experience this!

I know we aren’t the only ones that question ourselves and I know that if MY family is experiencing this and if I can share my story, then maybe someone else who is also experiencing this too might be able to benefit or at least say HEY… oh my gosh me too!

Our son Lincoln is a pretty amazing kid… most of the time!  He is wild and spunky and has a thirst for life that is just magical to watch!  He is super excitable and he wakes up each morning ready to greet the day with as much joy as he can muster!

Linc is also incredibly strong willed and I don’t say that lightly!  He has his own ideas and opinions about things and if you say the sky is blue, he will argue you with you like an experienced lawyer with sound thoughts and ideas that the sky is indeed devoid of color which makes you only think the sky is blue.

He likes to form his own choices and doesn’t like to be given choices by authority.  He likes to try things out for himself and that means we go through lots of natural consequences in our house.

He also likes to push the boundaries on just about everything and when I say push the boundaries that means test out his limits on every single rule, limit, consequence possible.

As parents, we try our best to pick our battles with him but sometimes, we have learned, you just have to be a brick wall that he comes up against.  This leads to what we like to call Hulking out.

All kids have tantrums, some kids have  tantrums worse than others.  Linc has Hulk outs.   Our tantrums start pretty normal but then he just see’s red:  he lashes out physically and if you know the hulk you can pretty much imagine what I’m talking about.

The sad part is, Linc has no control over himself.  It’s almost as if he blacks out during these Hulk out sessions.  He goes into fight or flight mode and it not only scares us but it scares him too.

I thought we were completely alone in this and ya’ll…. I never would have shared this ever (to be honest for fear of judgement) but after talking with several of my girlfriends who have boys similar ages to Linc, I’ve found out, we aren’t alone!  Ya’ll, how crazy is it that those three little words, you aren’t alone can bring on a real whoosh of relief over your entire body!

After talking with several other boy moms and even some girl mama’s out there… this seems to be a somewhat common theme among strong willed kiddos and even some NOT strong willed kiddo’s and this is why I wanted to share this post today!

If you too have a kiddo that has HULK like outbursts, seriously physical tantrums, or just plain see’s red when they get angry.. guess what friend ME TOO…  WE AREN’T ALONE!

I feel like when we were younger, most of us were all people pleasers!  So it’s hard for us to understand this kind of super physical behavior!

Plus for me, it’s kind of scary to see someone so little, whom you just love so much act in such a physical way! I’m always in the moment at a loss for what to do and how to help him because it’s just so foreign to me.

As Linc has gotten older (he’s 5 now) we’ve seen a decrease in these type of super physical outbursts, which I’m incredibly thankful for!  But if he’s tired or overwhelmed, I can almost predict when one will hit!

I always asking myself after these episodes “what did I do wrong?!” and I try to figure out what I did or pin point the exact trigger or moment to explain WHY my kiddo acted this way or that way.  I try to explain the reason why he is so different from all of my other friend’s kiddos!  In my mind, his friends seem so normal and calm and perfect.

But here is the thing friends:  Parenting is an evolving, living and growing being. We are always changing and our kids are always changing and so are their needs.  So our parenting is constantly growing and changing.  There aren’t truly ever going to be reasons “why” our children do the things they do.  Sure their might be certain “triggers” but in all honesty, we can’t control every little thing, we can only control how we react and how we teach and guide them after!

I’ve learned that the best thing that I can do for myself and for Linc is to focus on the present moment and identify what I can do right in the here and now to help him!

I’ve also learned to give myself some GRACE!

Talking with other’s has helped me to see that I’m not alone and that it’s OK to share my story and see that we all have our struggles as parents.  No parent is perfect and no child is perfect!  We are all learning as we go!  Every child and every parent has their own personal struggle.  It might not be that their little one hulks out but it could be another struggle they have and that’s why every parent deserves a little grace.

Our children have so much pressure and expectations put on them these days!  They live in a different world than we did when we were growing up.  Their world is a world of instant gratification and that can be incredibly hard and confusing for a child when one minute you can have exactly what you want downloaded anywhere you want when  you want it, and the next second you parents tell you NO, STOP, WAIT, BE PATIENT and you are expected to understand.  Their world is a world of constant stimulation and activity where our world was a world of play and down time.

It’s no wonder they have strong personalities!  These personalities will take them incredibly far one day and I can’t wait to see what they will do and become.

I think it’s important to remember sometimes, that with strong personalities come strong reactions and maybe we just have to be patient with them while they work through them!


It’s December and I’ve already begun to think about my goals for this upcoming new year!  In these last few months, I’ve been inspired by a lot of different things.  I’ve been inspired by the people around me, friends and neighbors and people I don’t even know but follow on social media or favorite authors etc.  I’ve been inspired by books and music.  I’ve been inspired by food (yes food!) and even in the images that I’ve seen around me.  So, in all that inspiration, I’ve been keeping track of things that I hope for myself and for my family in this upcoming new year.

Now I believe very deeply in the power of putting it out there in the universe.  If you want something,  you have to put it out there, if nothing but to motivate yourself!  You have to say it out loud!  I also believe that writing down what you hope for helps to keep you focused and accountable.  It makes it real and not just in a wish list kind of way.  It makes it real in a tangible, let’s make this happen kind of way.

So here goes it!  These are my goals.  These are my hopes for this new year, personally, for my business and for my family!

  • Start and finally follow through with a 365 day project!  I’ve always wanted to do this and I start (gosh, I start every single year) but I find that I forget one or two days… or three weeks and then I beat myself up and never pick u the camera for the project again.  This time however, I’m in a different place.  I’m finding that right now, this December, I’m a point where I truly might just need this project!  I need to push myself both creatively and in certain low light or tricky situations in order to grow.  I also am realizing that Linc is growing.  He’s not home very much anymore and my opportunities to photograph him are dwindling.  He also is asserting his will and doesn’t want to be photographed and that just breaks my heart.  I need to be willing to use my camera in more creative and stealthy ways.  This type of project challenges you to capture your entire day in one single frame, so let’s see if I can do that this time!
  • Travel more spend less:  We have realized the value of travel and we’ve been bitten by that bug BIG TIME!  We have so many plans already including Iceland coming in March and Normandy in the summer.  A big part of traveling for us is making sure we are spending money where it counts.  We are huge amazon lovers and that can be tricky sometimes.  I mean come on, who doesn’t find themselves spending more money on amazon than they want!  You can get EVERYTHING on amazon and usually prime!  My goal is to stop the amazon one click, and save so we can spend that money on the places we want to go!  Places like:  Africa, Japan, The Mediterranean, Greece, Russia, Transatlantic Disney Cruise, Alaska etc!  There are so many places we want to see!  Obviously we won’t be traveling to all these places anytime soon but our next stop after this summer will be Africa 2019!  We realized when we started studying with Dave Ramsey, and looked at our actual budget that we spend way more on material things than we actual need.  We spend way more on food than we actual eat and it usually ends up going to waste.  We also realized the value of quality time with Linc verses just buying him things.  Kids don’t need or necessarily WANT toys.  They just want time with you and that’s why we’ve decided to purchase less and DO more!  We want to see more of the world and give him the gift of culture!
  • Pause and take TIME when shooting my own family vacation portraits:  Coming home from this past Disney Cruise, I learned one valuable lesson:  I do not show my own family the same professional curtesy that I do my clients in capturing memories.  I am inpatient.  I am rushed.  I don’t take the time and pay attention to what I am seeing through my lens.  I don’t pay attention to the 3 L’s (something I learned from Katelyn James, Light, Location, Layout).  I just point and shoot, and ya’ll that SUCKS.  I’ve been photographing children and families for almost a decade and my own family photos from a beautiful bahamian location don’t even show it!  IT IS SAD!  And I have to be honest, I was mad and ashamed with myself.  I also don’t carry my camera with me enough.  Yes it’s my vacation and I need a break.  Yes I had just photographed over 20 sessions in less than 3 weeks and I was a little burnt out from my camera.  It’s still no excuse, I always say I want what I give to my clients and here was my chance.  In fact I had even promised myself I was going to get video and put together a slide show like I give to my clients, and I failed.  NO MORE!  I learned my lesson from this trip especially!  It’s time to slow down and really appreciate where we are and what we are doing.  It’s time to breathe it all in and capture the shot.  I may not get as many but what I will have will be quality!  I, too deserve the best I have to offer, not just my clients!
  • Get to the gym or workout at least 3 times a week minimum!  I used to be great at this but man, now that Linc is 5 and I’m running him to and fro, I’m finding it harder and harder to get myself there!  There’s no excuse because once he’s in school, I have the morning to myself.  I just need to schedule the business tasks with the home life tasks so I can get in the door!  It’s all about time management!  This also is all about health for me.  I have some pretty rough genetics coming at me and I need to make sure I’m going to the gym and taking care of myself the best that I can so that I can take care of my family for years to come!
  • Finish Linc’s photo albums!  You can really tell when my business started to pick up because that’s when I stopped keeping up with Linc’s yearly photo albums.  It’s so sad really because I really enjoy putting them together.  It’s time I actually MADE the time to finish them.  I stopped at year 3 so I have to catch up soon otherwise it will just become a giant snowball.
  • Map of the world: Tuck and I were inspired by our friends who have traveled the world with their twins so I can’t take credit here.  They have a giant map of the world framed and they have pins placed wherever they have been!  Tuck and I would like to do this in our kitchen dining nook surrounded by a gallery wall of images from those places we’ve traveled.  It will be a work in progress, probably for the rest of our lives, but it’s something that we are both really excited about!
  • Family Traditions:  It’s always the little things that matter the most and now that Linc is 5 and growing these are starting to matter more and more, especially to him.  I want to start creating little family traditions that will last!  Things like my mom and dad created with me.  Family picnics/romantic dinners (ya’ll this was just a blanket on the floor, potted meat or hot dogs, and 7-up in plastic champagne flutes but it meant the world to me!), Sunday night family movie night, game night with just us and with family friends!  Weekly check-in’s with Tuck on our second floor porch.  I want to create little routine traditions that will stick out in Linc’s memory and create a lasting impression!
  • Family Walks:  This may go along with Family Traditions but I’m putting it down separately because I want to create a habit of taking nightly walks.  I don’t want it to fall under family traditions, even though it will become one, I want it to become something that is just a habit by it itself.  Linc always seems to have an “energy hour” after dinner rather than a witching hour and living in Florida we can take advantage of this beautiful weather by allowing him to ride his bike in our small town neighborhood while Tuck and I trail behind him.  It’s a nice chance for Linc to get rid of some of that wild energy while Aaron and I can use the time to connect and chat.
  • Morning “Miracle Hour” :  My friend Allie has coined this term or at least I think she has and I want to take a page out of her amazing book!  Every Monday she sets aside time for herself where she has a few things she does routinely to help her stay focused.  She has quiet time with her bible, she reads a book, she journals for her son and she takes a moment to look over her schedule.  I need to learn time management in a big way and this is one thing I need to start doing for myself:  scheduling time in my own schedule for myself to do the things that I want to do to better myself.  I want to read more books, I want to take time to write and use my power sheets, I want to work on Linc’s albums and our own family albums and the way that I can do that is to start using Alli’s Monday Miracle time!  I just have to schedule it in there for myself and make it a priority!
  • Utilize my word for the year in every choice, interaction and decision this year!  Each year for the past 6 years or so, I’ve come up with a word for the year to guide me and each year about half way through the year, that word gets lots in the chaos of the day to day.  I always find my way back to that word at the end of the year and can reflect on it and usually that word has a lasting impact that can been seen throughout the year, but it isn’t something that I have truly embraced through the entire year.  It hasn’t been something I can honestly say I’ve been intentional about which is kind of ironic since intentional was the word I chose for last year!  This year, I want to truly pick a word that I can embrace for the entire year and be truly guided by in my day to day surroundings and work!  I think I already know what I’m going to choose but I want to reflect on it a bit more to make sure it’s the right message to guide my year!

There are so many hopes and wishes I have for this new year!  So many big dreams and big intentions, especially for my family, but for right now these are the tangible goals I have for us as this upcoming new year approaches!

What about you?  What are your dreams for yourself and for your family?

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