Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Round 2

Remember how I told you about my sister? The pastry chef who works at Cacao and the St. Regis? (not the one who just got married). Anyways, she had to work on Thanksgiving day, which is one reason we decided to go downtown and eat with April's family on Thursday. Our family meal, we enjoyed together on Friday. With Emma. And my Oma (who Jayci calls "oma oma"). Oma made her famous pears and cucumbers. Which sounds a little weird, but really they are two separate and completely delicious dishes. Emma brought an apple pie. And we contributed a pumpkin pie we purchased at Publix. Well technically, I guess my parents' purchased it since it was actually leftover for the large meal we brought April.

Regardless of the many pointless details I tend to share, the day was a success in every way. We relaxed, we ate. We re-heated leftovers and ate some more. And I had two or nine helpings of the Pioneer Woman's Soul Sweet Taters. Because Thanksgiving, for me, is all about the stuffing and the sweet potatoes. And the pumpkin pie. Oh and being thankful of course.

And this year, especially, i know that I have so so much to be thankful for. A new house in a new neighborhood. New neighbors and old friends moving with us. A small group who supports and encourages us and that we can truly do life with. My family, my husband and my little girl. Who often says "i not silly, i a WIITTLE GIWRL!" It's cute.

I'm also thankful for a husband who likes to do crafts. And make hats. And wear them too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanks and Giving 2010

For the last couple years, we've had a few of our kiddos from downtown join us for a Thanksgiving meal at my parents' house. We talked about doing the same thing again this year, but we felt led to do something a little different instead. One of the reasons we usually have these particular kiddos over for Thanksgiving is because their family is never able to do anything for Thanksgiving. I mean, one of the kiddos asked me if I could bring him a bologna sandwich for Thanksgiving. Umm, no, I will not. That's just plain wrong. ANYWAYS, sorry for all the rambling that has nothing to do with my point. That never usually happens around here. ha.

This year, we felt like it was really important to give this family a Thanksgiving dinner that they could enjoy AS A FAMILY. Rather than taking the kids out of their neighborhood and to our beautiful house in the suburbs, we wanted to remind them what a gift their own neighborhood and family are, and to give them a chance to celebrate that.

Since I have literally never actually made anything for Thanksgiving dinner, I was grateful that my parents chipped in and helped us order a complete Thanksgiving meal from Publix. I was shocked to realize I still had to spend hours in the kitchen "reheating" everything. And by "I," I mean Adam. I mean I definitely helped. If by "helped" you mean "sat on the couch and watched Mary Poppins."

We finally finished warming everything up, packed up our car, and headed to the park that is about a block from our new house (side note: for the LOVE when will we get to move into our new house?!!). One of the many reasons I'm excited about moving to this particular neighborhood is that our house is just a few blocks away from this family (who we have worked with and become friends with for a few years now). The park by our new house has some covered picnic tables, along with a playground, which we were hoping would help entertain the kiddos when they weren't eating their food.

Adam and Jayci played on the playground while I guarded the food and shared the picnic area with a some other folks who might or might not have been engaging in some "extracurricular activities" involving illegal drugs. Luckily, they left just as Danielle came back with our friends. We served up the food, gave thanks for a beautiful day and wonderful friends, and ate. And ate some more. My favorite part of the meal was when April (the kiddos' momma) got her food and sat at an empty table, all her kiddos (all 6 of them) gathered their plates and left our table to join her at hers. And that, right there, is exactly why we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving this way this year.

I was really excited to get a picture of sweet and beautiful miss April with all her kiddos. I realized, however, that this is an impossible task seeing as her kids literally never stop moving. Literally. And I also realized that I have never admired a mother more than I admire April. She has raised her children with dignity and love, despite really difficult circumstances, not a lot of resources, and not enough help.

They wanted to take a picture with Jayci, and I warned them that she was a little less, ummm "rough and tumble" than their brothers, so look how sweet they were. Love it.
haha this is how they spent most of their time.

I love this special family. And I am thankful for the way they have changed and enriched our lives.
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing
" Psalm 68:5-6

I Heart Faces: Scenic BW

Adam is insistent that he wants to get a camera for himself simply so he can take pictures of nature. He loves nature. Now I like nature myself, but I have almost no interest in taking pictures unless there is a person in it. Emotions, relationships, faces . . . those are the things I delight in photographing. HOWEVER, if I can capture both a beautiful landscape and some human emotion, that's a total win for me. I love it. The picture I'm entering this week is one of my favorites from this session. Such a beautiful family on a beautiful night on a beautiful farm. That's a lot of beautiful.

To see more scenic BW pictures, visit I Heart Faces this week!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Very Merry Gift Guide

I'll be honest and tell you I'm not a huge fan of the after-thanksgiving madness that is Black Friday. I much prefer Cyber Monday, on the couch, in my PJs, with free shipping. I think it goes back to this one time when our whole family decided to go to the outlet malls at midnight on Black Friday. I believe I've blocked the trip out of my memory, but I vaguely recall lines triple wrapped around the store and someone shoving my little sister.

I do however, love me some online shopping. And since my love language is gifts, shopping online for gifts is basically a double-win in my book. And since this is THE week for giving (and being thankful of course), what better time to share a little gift guide with y'all!
For the little ones. Because Jayci loves animals of all kinds, and this one is just plain cute -handmade stuffed owl from Dancing Zebras.
Handmade soap from Intown Sundries. . . smells good and helps support a great cause (in our soon-to-be-neighborhood. Read more about the Beltline Bike Shop here).
For the photographer: I get asked ALL the time where I got my cute camera strap. That's how I know that a cute camera strap is probably the best gift ever for a photographer. Obviously.
For the mom, or grandma, or best friend . . . Anything from the Vintage Pearl. I got this for my best friend last year. And I'm pretty sure she loved it. And I have one too. And I love it.

For anyone and everyone: This makes me feel warm and cozy inside. And really ready for Christmas.For people who like to laugh. Because Modern Family is literally the best show on TV right now. And it cracks me up. every. single. time.
For the fashionista. I have a headband from Allora Handmade, and I get complimented on it all the time. So now I'm convinced I need the necklace too.
The Glee Christmas album - perfect for the music-lover. Or the "Glee-k." Or the Christmas-lover. Basically, for anyone who is breathing. Jayci asks for "Chis-mas music" all the time.
Here's the deal, there's a little chocolate place tucked away in downtown Atlanta. It's called Cacao. And it makes chocolate from the bean. All the way handmade and handcrafted. And amazing. And my talented pastry-chef sister works there. So order some delicious chocolate and my baby sister will literally make it for you herself.
I love decorating my house for Christmas. Unfortunately, I don't have my own house to decorate this year, so I'm just going to have to share the ruffle-y goodness of these beautiful stockings with y'all, and live vicariously through your decorating cute-ness.
I LOVE books. And I love hand-drawn art. And I love Vol. 25. It's literally my favorite. But seriously, I need this print.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Little Painter

No words today, just pictures. Enjoy.

*Don't forget to enter my giveaway for some family-friendly Christian Hip hop music!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'd Say It's Half-Empty

I try to keep things somewhat upbeat around here. Or at the very least sarcastic and (at least a little bit) funny, even if I'm upset or down about something. Right now, however, this is the most I can muster up. And any encouragement you feel like giving would be appreciated. I also will accept cheese dip and diet coke. Because nothing cheers me up like eating my emotions.

See this buying-a-house-in-the-hood process is taking a really long time. Much longer than I had planned. I even had all my winter sweaters in a box, which is now somewhere in the back/bottom of a stuff-to-the-brim-storage room in my parents basement. Which means I've been wearing the same fleece (Adam's) nearly every day that it's been chilly lately. If only we didn't need every last penny of our money for the down payment on our house, I'd just buy some new winter clothes. Eating and shopping, those are my healthy ways for dealing with disappointment.

I found out today that we had to push the closing date back by another 2 weeks - making it dangerously close to Christmas. Keep in mind, too, that this is just the closing date -- then we still have to make it livable. Remember, there's no windows and there was a crack addict arrested in there a week ago with a prostitute (aka we need to seriously rip out that flooring - ick). Basically, I cannot understand why God would lead us here and then allow the entire process to be so riddled with stalling and mistakes and waiting and UGH! Anyways, I know in my head that I can trust His perfect timing, but it's hard to live that out when I'm tired of living in my parents' basement. When I feel like we're letting so many people down. I know my parents' probably want their clean and quiet house back (because if you haven't guessed, we are neither clean nor quiet). And my sister is moving back home, so I'm sure she's not thrilled that she will rudely awakened at about 5am by a loud tantrum-throwing toddler. Not to mention the two friends who will be living with us downtown but are stuck waiting because of all the MESS going along with this stupid loan. Seriously, we have the money and want to buy a house in a bad neighborhood to try and make it better. You'd think they would WANT to make this happen.

Ok rant/vent over. I apologize for that. Please don't stop following my blog. I will be back to my usual self in mid-December once we finally close on the house. Oh I kid, surely my attitude will turn around before then. Let's hope.

I think that sometimes God allows stuff like this to happen simply because He wants me to turn to Him not just when I'm sad, or when I'm joyful, or when I need something -- but even when my heart is ugly. And I need His holy presence to calm and re-focus me. Because it always happens at times when my best friend moved to Texas, another friend lost her phone, and another is in Chicago . . . so I realize that the only place I feel like I have to turn is the one place I should have turned in the first place -- to HIM.

Now that I'm done venting, here's my I Heart Faces entry this week. Because I am nothing if not good at transitions. Ha. Plus, how can I NOT be cheered up looking at this sweet little thing? She cracks me up. And even when she drives me crazy, I am eternally grateful that she is my daughter!

(LOTS of paper around, and yet she chooses to paint herself - naturally)

*And for the love, please enter my giveaway - y'all are going to hurt my Frank's feelings if you don't!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Complex EP - and a Giveaway!

Right now I am trying very unsuccessfully to multi-task. This post has been open and sitting here blank for at least 20 minutes. I better get a move on before Jayci wakes up from her nap, because then all hope will be lost of getting this done!

I dont know if y'all remember, but a while back I posted about Frank and his Rubberband Man video. Well this same Frank (aka Complex the Exec) of Rubberband Man fame, has put out his very own EP. And Jayci and I love it. Jayci begs for "FANK" all the time, and she has to stop whatever she is doing to dance when it comes on.

Here's a preview video for the new EP, "Grace". You can hear Complex, see some of our kiddos dancing around (and maybe Adam too if you look closely).

The best part about this whole endeavor is that Frank's heart was so moved by his experience at camp that he wants to donate all of his proceeds to Camp Grace! That's right, all of the money will go towards camp scholarships to pay for an amazing camp experience for kids who couldn't otherwise afford to go to camp. That means your $9 is totally well-spent - not only do you get a sweet cd of music, but you get to send our kiddos to camp! (And as an aside, when I bought my EP off of Amazon, they sent me a $4 coupon to use on an online rental of a movie or tv show . . . bonus! ) If you want to get your own copy, simply go to Complex the Exec's website.

And because I love y'all, and apparently Frank loves y'all too, we have one copy of "Grace" to giveaway! Wohoo!

All you have to do to enter is go take a peek at Complex's website, and then come back here and leave me a comment! I will pick a winner next week Friday. But even if you dont win, you should buy the album. Because it's for the kids. And it's like Frank and Rolando say, "it's bigger than us."

*Sorry for the confusion with the name, I know I keep switching back and forth willy-nilly: Frank = Complex the Exec -- I just never know if I am supposed to call him by his real name or his "stage name" - because I'm cool and hip like that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Links and Such

I am so so honored that my sweet (seriously the sweetest) friend Becky interviewed me about my photography on her blog. If you're interested (just humor me and pretend you are) you can read it here. Oh and while you're there, you should definitely poke around Becky's blog -- you'll be glad you did.

Speaking of photography, I somehow have 500 fans on my facebook page. Want to join in the fun? You can. Right here.

STILL speaking of photography (I promise I'll be done soon), here's one of my favorites from my latest family session -- I love fall colors for photography! And you can see more on my photography blog.

OK, enough photography already. Here's a few other links and posts I've LOVED reading this week. And I hope you do too. Because I'm all about spreading the cheer.

*This post about having a three year old both cracked me up and reminded me of my 2 year old. If three is really worse, like everyone keeps reminding me it is, we're in for some trouble!

*Freedom’s Just Another Word For So Much From Which To Choose. Love this.

*The Journey is one of my favorite blogs ever. Go there and read, and cry, and blubber. Or maybe that was just me. But seriously, it's amazing and incredible the work that Katie is doing. And my bestest friend Gini is doing this cool thing on HER blog where she's selling crafty goodies and giving all the proceeds to Katie's ministry. Very cool.

*Finally, the Lord has been teaching me so much this week about having FAITH in the things He is doing and preparing us for. We have some crazy and exciting things ahead, and I'd love your prayers along the way!
One LAST thing (I promise). If you want/need to get one of our Christmas cards/newsletters this year, just send me your address in an email and I'd be happy to put one in the mail. Because I love Christmas, and my cards are cute this year (my email address is on the side bar of the blog. Set it over there?)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This One Time, We Went Hiking

This weekend, Adam and I FINALLY had a free day that we could go hiking. Now let me back up and explain that Adam has been practically begging me to go hiking with him for, oh, four years or so. See, my husband would describe himself as "outdoorsy" and so he really enjoys doing things like hiking, and camping, and fishing, and kayaking, and so on. I, on the other hand, prefer lounging by the pool and reading a good book. Or laying on the beach and drinking a diet coke and eating cheese dip. See? I'm flexible and versatile.

Anyways, we've been so busy that I keep putting off hiking with Adam because of one thing or another. So this weekend, we finally had a day to go - and we took advantage of a nice day, with no plans, and spent the morning hiking. And, surprisingly, it was fun (and not too entirely strenuous).

It helped that it was literally a perfect fall day.
I mean, can you even believe how blue that sky is? And I promise I didn't make it more blue in photoshop.
Jayci is a lot like me in many ways (as it turns out, according to my parents, I was also a stubborn and bossy as a kid). However, on our hike, Jayci was basically a miniature female Adam. She was enthralled with RUNNING down the mountain (bestill my stressed-out heart) and jumping from rock to rock on the river. I far preferred having my little-bitty-baby strapped into this backpack contraption.
While Jayci and Adam were rock-hopping in this river, I laid on a rock in the sunshine (now if only someone had brought me diet coke and cheese dip - it would have been perfect).
I spent some time praying while I was laying there. Because it's nearly impossible not to pray when you're entrenched in the Lord's beautiful creation. I was asking My Father about this period of our lives. And what He wanted us to learn during this time of waiting. And suddenly Psalm 23 popped into my head and nestled itself in my heart.

"He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake. "

As I gazed at the still water beside me, I knew that God was using this time to restore my soul. To guide our steps. But why? FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE. To bring Him glory with our lives. In every step.

And then the rest of the Psalm reminded me that God is also using this time to prepare us for the next season in our lives:
"Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me"

I am filled with thankfulness that I have a God who knows my needs so perfectly and intimately. I am thankful that He is restoring my soul and giving me rest, and reminding me that even when we move into a dark valley, we have NOTHING to fear. Because He is with us. Always.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Heart Faces: Silhouettes

I realize it's been a while since I entered an I Heart Faces contest. It's because of all the busy around here, not to mention the lack of pictures I've been taking. Ha, right. Clearly I am still taking pictures a plenty, and I actually had several silhouette pictures I love to choose from this week. I settled on this shot because I love the emotion it captures between these two fabulous people. I loved working with this couple for their engagement and wedding -- their zest for life and love for each other was seriously contagious. I also picked this one because I love love love that you can see the Atlanta skyline in the background. I LOVE my city, and cannot wait to be living there in the heart of it soon (fingers crossed).

Don't forget to visit I Heart Faces to see more fabulous silhouettes this week!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ice Cream and a Winner

Jayci likes ice cream. I mean, not that I can blame her. But she REALLY likes it. And she also enjoys whipped cream, which she calls ice cream. So we get many requests for "ice cream" around here.

The ice cream was a way to distract Jay while I took pictures for my friend Jessica for the amazing ministry she helps run, Princess Night. We used roses for the photo shoot, and Jayci was enamored with the roses (well, once she was finished with her ice cream). Sweet Jessica let us take some home, which made Jayci eternally happy. And by eternally I mean for a few minutes. But I take what I can get around here.
**The winner of the book giveaway is Christie from Our Family's Journey! Yay for Christie! I'll email you with details :-)


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