April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

I hope you all had a joyful Easter yesterday, we sure did. It was a holy day of celebrating the risen Christ with our church family, we loved it. UBC is such a gift to us, we always joke that if it didn't exist we're not sure we'd find a church in Texas! It is such a unique place and it is hands down the best "fit" of any church we've ever experienced (and between Adam and I over 35+ years, we've experienced a lot of church). We don't have words for how much we'll miss it when we move, a tough act to follow to be sure. Yesterday was emotional for me (shocker...story of my life these days), as I looked around  and thought of all the people we'd miss and knowing it was our last Easter in that holy place. Our pastor's son got baptized yesterday, and baptisms always make me cry, the dying to your old self and being raised new in Christ, its always so moving to me. And since we're Baptist and don't practice infant baptism, for us when you come to an age of understanding what it means to follow Jesus and you choose to get baptized, its such a neat thing to watch/experience/be a part of.

Following church we went to our friends house and a bunch of us brought food and spent the day lounging and in fellowship together, the family that we've all created in each other and done life with together over the years - it was so good. We didn't get home until about 7:45pm, we were among the last to leave...savoring every minute we have left with these people, such a blessing.

These are some lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Matt Maher:

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he's alive! he's alive!

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/matt-maher/christ-is-risen-lyrics/#KFHKXEtxtJppvSLG.99
Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he's alive! he's alive!

Last Easter our pastor, Josh said "We get to stand at the empty tomb and almost mockingly say "Oh death, where is your sting?"

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

April 18, 2014

like comfy old jeans

Last night...I slept, and it was wonderful. I think I just needed to get through this week and I did and I am starting to feel normal again and I'm so thankful. Today B is off from school and Adam is off from work! Score! We get a relaxing day at home, just the 3 of us and I couldn't be more thrilled. I'm going to do laundry (something I've neglected for quite a while), wash the sheets (don't ask mom...its been a while on that too), and purge. I'm going to separate some things into a pile for sale and a pile for donation. I've decided that since we are on the verge of a MAJOR downsize, as much as I love some certain items...they need to go. I'm going to be selling furniture, home goods, etc. at a home sale in a few weeks (exact date TBD). I think it will be good, good to simplify and pare down. I know life isn't about things, but keeping in real, I do kinda love my "things" -so, it will be good for me to let some of them go. Sigh.

You know, life is funny...its full of so many twists and turns. Last night Adam said to me "I keep thinking about all the places this job search could have taken us, and all of the small Christian schools out there, etc. and yet, we're ending up right back at our favorite place to be -isn't that crazy?!" Yes, yes it is. Although we love Texas, and Waco in particular, and we were more than okay with it being home forever, I can't help but be overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy over going back home to Pasadena. I've never been quiet about my love for the dena, I tell folks all the time that "if I could afford to live there, Pasadena is where I'd choose." Well, I still can't technically afford to live there but it is my favorite city (right up there with Paris :) and I can't believe we get to live there again. Spoiled. I'm not gonna lie, I'm sad to leave my house - I love this house and its been good to us and we could have potentially lived in it forever, but...its just a house. I get excited when I think of trading in my 2700 sq ft house for a 1000 sq ft cottage, something stirs inside me and it just feels right, like comfy old jeans. It feels familiar and right and good.

These next few months are going to be challenging and busy, but its all pretty darn exciting. Happy sigh. I just updated my blog, head on over here to see a cute senior! xo

April 17, 2014

still here

Its only a little after 10am and its been hustling and bustling around here. We just had the a/c guys back out b/c something was going on in the tippy top that needed resolved (breaker issue, no biggie), the dish network guy has been out b/c something is going on w/ our TV service, and I've been placing photo orders and editing since I got out of bed. Oh, and writing mi casa letters which makes me feel emotionally drained and exhausted but the days are slipping away and its got to be done.

Sigh...moving, so draining! We had some folks out yesterday looking into inspection issues so, it just seems like our house is a revolving door of activity but, things are getting checked off the list which just means the move is actually happening. I think May is going to be here before we know it, any one else get that feeling? Well, B has early dismissal today and is out of school Friday and Monday for the Easter holiday so I gotta get going to make the most of my time today! Thanks for checking in! xo

April 16, 2014

chocolate peanut butter cheesecake & Wendell

Yesterday was intense, period. I didn't stop all.day.long. and I'm so thankful its over and that I survived. :) It was just busy with lots of stuff but the end result was this delicious cheesecake that I made for mi casa to celebrate Natalie's birthday -YUM. I would definitely recommend if that sort of dessert is your thing, it was SO delish. I didn't sleep well again last night, sigh. I think I'm at the point where I almost don't expect to sleep so I can't -I'm hoping to break out of this pattern soon. My darn mind is racing and its making it hard to relax and not create virtual lists in my mind. Anyhoo, today is going to be another busy one so I gotta get after it. Head on over HERE to see sweet baby Wendell! xo

April 15, 2014

done and done

So, that was crazy. I got home at 1am and woke up and instantly started working. I have a FULL week ahead and it almost seems surreal that I was in California yesterday (and for the several days prior). It was a busy trip but I purposefully didn't pack it as tight as I usually do, wanted some time to roam the streets, look at neighborhoods, visit longer with friends then I normally have time for, etc. I'm e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d. I haven't been sleeping really well lately, a lot on my mind that I can't shut off when my head hits the sheets but I think better days are ahead. :) This week is nuts but next week calms a bit and Aunt Robin and Uncle Lawrence are going to come visit us -we can't wait! The timing is perfect, right after the crazy and before the next wave of crazy hits!

Well, yesterday I officially enrolled B in school! It was a bit nerve wracking w/ the whole address thing but no one asked anything, I did have to write down her previous school and the location of it so...curious if that will ever come up but all in all, its done and I'm so relieved. Hooray for registration being done for the foreseeable future!!! Now...onto our housing! Yilkes!

Our inspection went fairly well, as expected with old homes there are a few things that may need addressing and some folks are coming out today to look into those...pray for smooth sailing! I just want it all to move along and for the new owners to love their new home!

I think that's all the news for now, I need to run to the store to get some ingredients to make a cheesecake per a mi casa kiddo's bday request...hope it chills in time!! Then I have a sr photo shoot this afternoon, lots going on over here! Thanks for checking in! xo

April 10, 2014

she's in!

So I STILL hadn't received "the call" and couldn't wait any longer, I needed to know as I had shoots booked this weekend, etc. Anyhoo, I called, they confirmed she got in and said I had until Monday to register her! WHO HOO!!! So, tomorrow off I go! It's going to be a crazy couple days but we are so.thankful. to have this taken care of! Our friend ended up not making it into town last night so, it was kinda nice to have a breather and just sit on the couch for a bit. The folks who bought our house said they loved it so that's great! Tomorrow is the inspection so the ball is officially in motion! I gotta go pack and get some things done before I fly out tomorrow, thanks for your prayers and for checking in! xo

April 9, 2014

I didn't get much sleep last night

Yesterday was a total zoo, running from one thing to the next with mere minutes in between each thing. After mi casa last night Adam and I both collapsed on the couch and watched some mindless TV for an hour before crawling into bed. Even though I was exhausted I was up and looking at the clock at 2am, my mind racing with things. Today I was up and at 'em, getting the beds made, dishes put away, picking up crumbs my munchkins left behind. :) Nothing like having a house of college students over the night before new owners are coming to see their house for the first time! Adam and I both had to be out of the house by 10am so the new owners could come hang out here and check every nook and crannie (can you just imagine buying your first house sight unseen and then finally walking in the door?!) -I hope they loved my house as much as I do. Sigh. (I really *don't* want to sell my house, sniff).  :( But onward and upward...right?!

Our friend Matt is in town from the UK, since I might be flying to CA tomorrow (still waiting for the blessed phone call) tonight is potentially the only night I'll get to see him! So, he's coming over tonight after he gets done with his dinner thing he has to attend. So, it will likely be a late night on minimal sleep and possibly an early flight tomorrow? :) (aren't you all just plain jealous of my life right now?? .....................crickets..................................................................).

Today is supposed to be a warm one, I have a shoot later this afternoon to throw into the mix! I'm thankful for the sun but wouldn't mind it a tad cooler while shooting. :/ Well, I just got home b/c the new owners have been in the house for hours so I had to make myself scarce, lots to get done! Happy Wednesday, all! Oh, really quick -I tried a new recipe for mi casa last night per one gal's request for her bday, google: sopapilla cheesecake -it was so easy and so delish! One last thing, I got a blog post up so head on over HERE to check it out! xo

April 8, 2014

a little wiped

Its been a crazy couple of days. We had someone here yesterday creating a hole in the wall for the new a/c unit to go into, today the a/c unit was installed, we had a house showing late yesterday afternoon so I spent all.day. cleaning and getting ready for it. The folks who are moving here ended up accepting our counter offer yesterday evening so the house is officially under contract (woot!) but they are seeing it for the first time tomorrow. So, that means we're trying to keep it tidy in the midst of workers in and out w/ dirty boots, etc.. I just feel mentally and physically exhausted. I've been doing so many "if this then that" scenarios with many different things and I'm just kinda wiped. I called the school district yesterday and they confirmed that "it was looking very good" for B to get into school but that they wouldn't make phone calls until Wednesday (probably). So, I'm still on standby waiting to see if I need to buy a plane ticket to CA this week. And to add to the crazy I'm shooting today and tomorrow, whew! The weather has been kinda nuts here and I feel like I'm running from one thing to the next and checking my phone calendar like a crazy person convinced I'm going to forget something and/or drop the ball somewhere. Sigh. Tonight is mi casa, which even though it brings some stress to make dessert and pick up the house in the midst of everything, I find that after my munchkins have left, I'm more relaxed and that it is a nice breather/distraction from my racing mind.

Well, stay tuned to see how everything goes down...we have an inspection on the house Friday, so prayers that would go smoothly are appreciated!! Thanks for checking in on our crazy. xo

April 7, 2014

2+3 = 5 ...............right?!

So this is crazy, but its also not b/c that's how God works, He is in the details. I was told by the Pasadena Unified School District that I needed to look at their website this weekend as the projections of spots filled would be posted, and they said it would give me a very good idea if B had a shot. So, this Saturday, first thing I pulled up the projections.... math has never been my strong point so I stared at the page a really long time before running downstairs to check with Adam to make sure I was understanding it all correctly.

Projected openings for 2nd grade: 5

Folks who registered by the deadline and took the spots: 2

Brennan's spot on the wait list: 3

3 + 2= 5

They haven't called me yet but if I'm doing the math correctly, Brennan is going to get the very.last.spot. at the school of our choice. WHAT?!!!! Is this for real?!!! Again, I haven't received the blessed call that will then cause me to buy a plane ticket and hop over to Cali but its looking REALLY promising. Please keep praying that this all pans out, we're SO close! I would love to move on with my life and stop dreaming about missing phone calls, re-scheduling things in my mind incase I'm out of town, etc.

When I think of B (potentially) getting the last spot it makes me chuckle a bit, this isn't the first time this has happened. When Adam and I took a big risk and up and moved to Texas out of a desire to do what was best for our family and to create a life amidst a lot of unknowns, we flew to Waco for a couple days. The goal of this little trip was to buy a house and get Brennan enrolled in pre-school. We found our dream house after 30 seconds, and Brennan got the last.spot. at the pre-school we wanted her to go to. I remember it being such a feeling of reassurance that we were doing the right thing in our leap of faith and that God would take care of the details, and He did. I had such a peace about the whole thing when I boarded the plane to go back to Oregon to pack up our life -I just knew we were doing what we were supposed to do. And now, nearly 4 years later, I think it is one of (if not "the") best things that has ever happened to our family. Leaving Texas is going to be really hard, but watching the Lord orchestrate this move is also another faith building journey and although nerve wracking to watch it unfold, such a blessing too.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers about this school business, it really has meant a lot to me. Clearly, its not a "done deal" just yet but I will keep you posted! Looking good!!! xo

Here is a peek at a senior I'm working on! More to come!

April 4, 2014

that angst feeling

I feel like I'm getting to that point in this stage of limbo where the angst creeps in a bit. Sigh. There are SO many unknowns that I just want.to.know!!!! B's school being at the top of that list. I have the Pasadena Unified School District phone number memorized as I have called them...a lot. Really, they should just let B in so we can all move on with our lives. :) I did learn some new information yesterday, the school where we're hoping B will go has projections of their openings, almost the whole school had ZERO openings except for 2nd grade! Amazing, right?!! That's the good news, the bad news is that there were only 5 projected openings and B is #3 on the waitlist, so the other 5 folks ahead of her in the lottery got those spots, so we technically needed there to be 8 openings. Sigh. (SO close!!!!) BUT, some folks may move, or go with a different school, or have forgotten to actually register, etc. I just talked to the district office and they said they'll know more this weekend about if I have hope or not...and then they said at the end of the month is the absolute deadline so I can technically keep hope alive until April 28th but after that its a done deal. So, PLEASE be praying she gets in and that we'll know this weekend, I'm a ball of nerves about it all. I'm all but taking my cell phone into the shower with me just on the off chance that is when they might call (I wish I was kidding). Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. This lottery business is no joke!

In other news, we got an offer on our house yesterday! That's exciting but we counter offered so its not a done deal by any means, hopefully we can work something out. So, a bit of angst from that whole situation too.

The weather this weekend looks just plain awful which is a huge bummer b/c I was supposed to shoot Saturday AND Sunday and at this time of year I run out of days to re-schedule as folks need their grad photos for announcements, etc.. It gets dicey, and clearly, there is zero I can do about the weather. Angst.

We found out we need to replace the A/C unit in the tippy top and that we need to have someone come in and cut a hole in the wall and add doors for a new access panel..that's going to be expensive. Angst.

Sorry if it feels like I just threw up on all of you, my mind is racing these days with lots of things and sometimes it just feels good to process through writing. I realize in the grand scheme, this is all no big deal, that most of the world would kill to have these be their "big issues," I know, its all perspective. Thanks for indulging me and my first world problems, have a lovely day! :) xo

April 2, 2014

the long goodbye begins

Last night at mi casa we had to bring up the fact that mi casa is almost over...it is April and all and they graduate in May -WHAT?!! It was hard, several of them wanted to ignore it and pretend it wasn't happening, several were in shock at the reality, and some were just plain sad. It was hard. We discussed some ideas for what we want the "last" mi casa to look like -they were adamant it had to be at our house and that I would cook, they said going out just wouldn't feel right. I agree. What they don't know is that Adam and I have committed to writing each one of them a letter, a personal heartfelt and dense letter specific to their strengths and hearts. To make this doable I've started writing a couple a day -its heart wrenching. I hate saying goodbye, let alone to kids who I've poured myself into for 4 years. I've been doing youth ministry for about 20 years now and what never changes is the goodbyes - I hate it. I always tell people photography is what I do to pay the bills, I do love it and have a passion for it -don't get me wrong, but my HEART, what my "calling" is, what I'm created to do, is pour into kids. Thankfully this is something I've known for a long time, the Lord placed this in my heart at a young age, its what I went to college for, what I was made for, and its ultimately what breaks my heart. I undoubtedly learn more from "my kids" than I "teach" them, and I'm always left amazed that they choose to share their lives with me, that they show up to my house each week when sometimes all we do is talk about random things and have no agenda, but they still come.

Our friends have started taking us out to dinners, inviting us over for our last this and that, that's hard and wonderful all at the same time. I'm so thankful for the many people Adam and I have gotten to meet on this crazy, long journey -such a blessing, I just wish I could take them all with me and not have to say the dreaded "goodbye" word. I'm a bit emotional these days and imagine I'll stay in this place for a while, and that's okay, but if you think of it we'll take your prayers. :) Well, I'm gonna go write another letter or two and then gather myself for the rest of the day. Whew! Thanks for reading and checking in. xo

March 31, 2014

keepin' on

Whew, its been a morning! We had a house showing yesterday, the realtor called first thing this morning and asked if she could bring the folks back over again today...good sign. Meanwhile the A/C unit in the tippy top is on the fritz....lovely. We had some guys out to look into the situation, its not proving to be super easy to deal w/ due to the roof lines...ay yi yi, always something right? This is the week we should hear about B's school situation so I'm on pins and needles and starting tomorrow will not be without my phone should they call me with good news! If that happens then I'll be off to CA within 24 hours to register her in person. In the midst of all of this crazy its also tax season (ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh). Adam and I thought we were so responsible...setting money aside for Uncle Sam, etc.. Well, turns out due to MWP what we anticipated was no where NEAR the reality of what we actually owe. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I think I'm still in shock, I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around these numbers. Taking lots of deep breaths over here.

This weekend was good, some dear friends took us out to a lovely dinner Friday night, Saturday B had a bday party to go to, then that evening I had a baby shower, super fun. Last night was love feast at church, our last one...sniff. The reality of the move is hitting me more and more each day. Sigh. All in all we're very thankful folks around here, just have a lot on our plates, but keeping it all in perspective and taking a day at a time. Head on over HERE to check out my latest engagement session that's up on the ol' blog! xo

March 28, 2014

The Big Easy

Sorry for the blog lull! It has really just been kinda crazy around here! But good crazy so its okay. Whew, okay, I want to blog about New Orleans while its fresh in my mind. I picked out a handful of photos to share that I hope I can look back on and be reminded of this great trip. For the past couple of years Adam and I have mentioned several times how we want to go to NOLA, its close enough to drive and we've both never experienced it (Adam went for a conference a couple years ago but he didn't get to "see" the city). So, the 3 of us hopped in the car and off we went on our 9 hour journey. After being in the car for about 6 hours B asked if we could just go home.....sigh, but she quickly realized how nuts that was! Anyhoo, I'm not exaggerating when I say I probably looked for a place for us to stay for at least 8 hours. I was searching for a shotgun house that is so common in NO b/c I really wanted an authentic experience -I didn't want to stay in a generic hotel. Well, I quickly realized most private accommodations only house 2 people as most shotgun houses are 1 room, those that did house more were either booked (as mardi gras was the week before) or they would not allow children under the age of 12! Ay yi yi -needless to say, it was a long search but I really did find the most perfect place for our family of 3! It was a darling updated shotgun house, we had the back portion of the house with its own gate/private entry, it was back further from the street so completely quiet, and it felt really safe. I would absolutely stay here again.

Before going to NO I did a lot of research on kid friendly activities and asked some folks for recommendations. I had a long list and not enough time! Our dear friends Katie and Timmy live in NO so they gave us some ideas and we met up with them as soon as we got into town and ate one of the best meals of my life. It was a long wait to get a table (the restaurant only had about 10 total) but so worth it -if you are headed to NOLA definitely check out Adolofo's - so unique, quaint and delicious! (bring cash and be prepared to throw down...yikes, but worth it!).

The next day it was a bit rainy but still warm, our first stop was café DuMonde for the famous beignets -OMG, to.die.for. That is a stop not to be missed! Then we walked around the French market, walked around the French Quarter, got snacks here and there, walked down St. Charles Ave, did a little shopping, got B rain boots so she could puddle jump, ate a fabulous dinner at this quirky restaurant called Jacque Imo's, and ended the day by getting a fabulous dessert at Sucre'. It was a fantastic day.

The next day we went to City Park and B climbed on trees, we walked around, we went to Story Land, ate lunch at this recommended Pizza joint on Magazine St, I shopped for about 20 mins while Adam and B waited (not so patiently ;), then we drove about 35 mins out of town for a swamp tour. This was fun -we got to cruise around the swamp with about 15 other folks and see lots of gators! Adam and B even got to hold one! (I passed, I was happy to capture the moment instead :)

Inside the swamp tour office -an albino alligator!


When we got back from the tour we hung out at our cute house and napped while we waited for our friends to get off work and then we met up with them and they took us this restaurant that has the "best po boy in town." It was DELISH. I had a fried shrimp po boy and it was awe.some. Then we all came back to our house, put B to bed and the 4 of us had some wine and chatted and caught up until around midnight. It was a practically perfect day.
The next day we got up and headed into town, had some beignets (not near as good as Café DuMonde), and walked around the French Quarter a little more, the weather was nicer on this day so the street artists were out and the sun was shining, it was lovely. In the early afternoon we got back into the car and started the long journey home.


I love how you can see little B walking around the corner in this photo below:

This was a fantastic memory making trip with my sweet family, we all LOVED it (B didn't want to go home)! I think we all agreed a few more days would have been nice. If you love food, beautiful architecture, and enjoy an "alive" city  -you MUST spend some time visiting the big easy, it does not disappoint. xo

March 19, 2014

its been a crazy week

Wednesday already?! I'd hoped to have New Orleans blogged by now but that's gonna have to wait a bit longer. This week has been kinda nuts. We got home from NOLA late Thursday night, I had to be up early on Friday to shoot a house for HGTV's show "Fixer Upper"(that will air next month) which was fun b/c this particular house belongs to some of our besties here and it was such an a-maz-ing transformation! Can't wait for ya'll to see it! Anyhoo, that day was us somewhat running from here to there and then Adam and I were treated to a yummy dinner by our sweet friends. Saturday we had friends over until late, Sunday church, etc. Monday was running errands and Bible Study, then last night was mi casa and it was a kiddo's bday so I made this grapefruit pie (pretty darn good, I'll have to search for the link). This morning I'm up and at 'em b/c my sister flies in today!!! SO excited to have Steph in town for a few days! She hasn't been to Waco yet so I'm excited for her to see it before we have to leave (sniff). We're spending the night in Austin tonight and having a girls night out on the town! Fun! Anyhoo, all that to say -its been nuts around here so I'll catch up on blogging soon! I did get an engagement session blogged so check it out over HERE. Have a great rest of the week, everyone! I'll be having fun w/ my sis so will be away from the computer the rest of the week! Thanks for checking in! xo

March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day -what?!

St. Patrick's Day already?! It really snuck up on me this year! HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY everyone!! I've said this before but I'll say it again, since living in Ireland this holiday has special significance to us, Winns. In the past I've thrown big parties for it but this year, it really came too fast for me to even think about. Today, before B went to school she said "Mom, you know how you normally get me a shirt for St. Patrick's Day...did you this year?" DOH!! I haven't...yet, I think I need to rectify that while she's at school!!! Here is a photo of us IN Ireland ON St. Patty's day a few years back! My, how time flies!

New Orleans was fantastic and I will try and blog about that tomorrow, but today, I just want to honor the Irish and give a shout out to our friends who are in Ireland! Happy St. Patrick's Day, all, wear green and drink a Guinness!! xo

PS Head on over HERE to check out a lovely bride! (I finally updated my blog!)