Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dream On

I've had this bucket list knocking around in my head for awhile.

I have yet to actually take the time to sit down with a pen and a pad of paper, think carefully, and write them all down. I haven't wrote it out, because actually seeing it on paper, I fear, will fill me with anxiety that maybe most of the list will stay just on paper, as most of my wants are far away travels, or conquering things I fear most, my Mount Everest's.

Instead, I keep the list safe in my head, away from my eyes, where I can imagine I am fearless and triumphant, where I can have a conversation in my head that says "yes, you can!, or, "go ahead!" instead of my eyes reading a list, saying "no, you can't" or, "Dream on!"

I've been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching these last few months, questioning what it is I truly believe, and my purpose in this life. I think of these in terms of what comes from the core of me, not apologizing for any of my truths or molding to what other people think, or want me to be. Maybe that's what you do in your thirties? Start to cement these findings into a person that is honestly and uniquely you? I feel as if I am just starting to wake up from a coma. I am feeling again, I am wanting again, which is new. I was so used to the numbness inside, I thought it would last forever. Ten years ago a person died inside of me, and is just now starting to regenerate. There are pieces of her, blown apart, that were annihilated, unrecoverable, tossed into the throw away pile, and pieces of her that were somewhat salvageable. These pieces are broken, but still being woven into the new that has pushed past the surface, all these years later.  The bucket list is back on my radar after taking a long hiatus, asking for some attention.

On Thursday, I got to check off one of my top 5 off my bucket list, something I have so badly wanted  to do since I was eighteen years old. We went to a Pink Floyd concert. I had this deep, soul satisfying moment, up in row 15 , seat #7, as Roger Waters sang "Goodbye Blue Sky" one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs. I almost couldn't breathe, mesmerized by hearing the amazing music live, as if they were singing it just for me. That's what happens when you cross something off your bucket list. A big, black marker draws a line through the words in your brain, and in its place, a memory is made, diving straight into your heart. Bucket list satisfaction.

The concert quenched the thirst for that drink, but I am still thirsty for more. There is more I intend on crossing off that long list o' mine.

 Get a tattoo.
 Yodel across the Grand Canyon.
 Feel the mist on my face standing on the cliffs in Ireland.
 Run barefoot on Bermuda's famous pink sand. 
 Be able to go on a plane again.
 Kiss Jeremy under the Eiffel Tower.
 Swim with dolphins in the freedom of their own waters
 New Years Eve in NYC
 Go an a walkabout
 Hold my own grandchildren
 Watch the bats fly out of Bracken cave, TX (seems morbid, but, 20 million fly out!, wanna see that!)
 Spend Christmas in Hawaii
 Learn Spanish

The crazy thing about a bucket list, is you have no guarantee when that bucket will fall over. Could be tomorrow, could be years from now. It's easy to be caught up in the everyday, stay comfortable in routine. I am very guilty of that. I call it the "beige life." Beige is safe, beige is neutral. Why not push yourself into the green? Dip your legs into the blue? Bring the red up to your lips for a taste? This life was only meant to live once, no backsies, no trade-sies. Why not take that life of yours and run with it?

It is yours, and waiting.

You just need to push past the beige.

      I saw my sister-in-law this weekend, and she showed me this. We have been talking for years about getting butterfly tattoo's in memory of Vanessa, since her name is a type of butterfly. She did it, and got one, a check off the old bucket list. Thanks, Bets, it's so beautiful, and means a lot to us. XO

Sunday, May 20, 2012


There are things in life you search out to find, and things that just happen on into your life that fit in like a glove. A couple weeks ago, I mentioned about a new beginning for our little family. I wish I could say it was a new baby coming, or some other super exciting news, but I will settle with being pleased with the news that our beginning we can truly enjoy as a family. Our beginning of adventure.

I just happened to be on the computer late one weeknight a couple weeks ago, and up popped up this cute little 80's fifth wheel for sale on my screen. Just, reached out and bit me, it did. Wasn't even lookin' for one. Now, whenever Jeremy and I have vacationed, as we head down the highway, we have always looked forlornly at campers and RVs as they head down the highway with us. "Someday," we'd say to each other. We'd check out the state names on the plates to see how far away from home they are, oogle at the really nice mansions on wheels, and laugh at the ones held together with duct tape. We'll, no more laughin' and lookin' forlorn, cause we just bought ourselves a beauty straight out of 1988.

Now, don't pass me the banjo, or rip off my t-shirt sleeves yet. I might take a pair of Keds and ankle zip jeans if you have them, though. She may be from the 80's, but this girl is clean as a whistle and as straight as an arrow, with lots of personality. As soon as I stepped foot inside, and saw my girl bouncing around with her tanned legs and curls flying, I was completely sold. Sold on the idea of giving Grace some great memories of state hopping, site seeing, and exploring, something we have never really done. This will allow us the opportunity of stepping out of our comfort zone, stretching our legs to see the world around us. I am so excited, I can barely contain it! We have lovingly stocked her already with some cooking essentials and toiletries, and have even given her a name.

Y'all, meet Lavern.

My girl loves her. If you look closely in this picture, you can see her smiling in the window. But, if you look even closer, you may just pass by the camper and see this staring at you:

Let me take you on a little tour.  Promise it won't take long. : )

This would be our loft. Pull back the curtains in back to stargaze the night sky.

After school she heads straight here to do her homework.

And, play house.

I like to join her, and perch and watch.

Had to throw in a picture of the throne and shower.

Daisy approves too and loves to push her snout against the low windows.

We are looking forward to all the new adventures Lavern holds for us. Lake Quinault, Ohanapecosh, The Redwoods, Grand Coulee,  Lake Crescent, Icicle Creek, Hells Canyon, Rouge River, these are all names that just weeks ago lay dormant in our minds but have sprung to life. Travelers, we'll be.

Okay, you can pass me the banjo, now.

I can't wait!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mama Bear Love

Grace made a keen observation the other day.

"Mom is always the last one to the table, " she moaned, a little annoyed that I was making her wait to eat, as I feverishly sprinted around the kitchen making sure everyone had what they needed before I sat down. The rule in our house is, we return thanks, and eat the first bite of our meal after everyone has sat down at the table, together. Before I could open my mouth to give a curt answer, Jeremy chimed in and let her know why.


I could have summed it up for her in one word.

Mommy hood.

I'm not complaining. There are days that the repetitive-ness of picking up pajamas left on the living room floor for the ump-teenth time, or digging out dirty socks stuffed in the folds of the couch drives me a bit over the edge, and sometimes I handle it well, and sometimes I don't.  I try to be a good parent, I really do, but I have this crazy anxiety that I'm not doing it right. Does anyone else feel like that?

I am constantly second guessing my actions and what I tell my daughter, and how I raise her. There have been guilt ridden, sleepless nights I have gone to bed chanting one thought in my brain over and over, " I will do better, tomorrow. I will do better, tomorrow."  Jeremy has come home to me announcing to him on occasion that I have given myself the "bad mommy award," for the day.
But, I try and learn from my mistakes, and tell myself this: "There are no perfect parents. Learn from your mistakes. She deserves that. She deserves the best."

And that I can do. I can give her my best. It is not perfection, but I don't think that is what she seeks. She just wants me. Mom. At my best.

 I have come to the conclusion there is no one right way to raise children, only some obvious wrong ways you should avoid, and the rest is up to us. All kids are different and have different needs for their unique personalities, which makes it is impossible to define a "right way."

 What this mama's heart beats to, is her daughters rhythm. I love her to pieces, and then some, more than she will ever, ever know, much more than can fit into words on this little blog of mine. Grace is a great kid. I have to remind myself that, that just didn't happen. Mama had a hand in sculpting, finessing, and fanning that sweet personality of hers to bloom. It is her flower, but I did the watering. Chances are, when you stand back and look at your own kiddo(s) from an outside perspective, they are some doggone, awesome little beings. Yes, it is them, but pat yourself on the backs, mama's, because you done good. You are doing your best, and it is paying off ten fold.

I wish all you wonderful mama's out there a most lovely Mother's day weekend. I know some very special little kids, and not just a handful of them, more like a bus load of them, and they are a reflection of some serious Mama Bear Love.

Simply, the best.

I thought I'd leave you with a classic recipe for a cheese pie adapted from my "More from Magnolia Bakery" cookbook. I make it once a year when the strawberries arrive at the market. It's a perfect Mother's day treat, or breakfast, or splurge, or whatever you'd like to call it. It needs to spend overnight in the fridge, so make it a day before you plan to eat it.  Mama Bear's love it!

: )

                     Mama Bear's Strawberry Cheese Pie


                                   1 stick of unsalted butter, melted

                                   1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

                                   3 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar


                                   1 lb. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened

                                   1 Cup Powdered confectioners' sugar

                                   1/4 Cup Sour cream

                                   1 tsp. Vanilla extract


                                   Generous handful of fresh strawberries, sliced up



        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

       In a bowl, mix together the ingredients for the crust. Lightly butter a 9-inch glass pie dish, and press the graham cracker mixture firmly into it, to make the crust. I use a 1/3 C measuring cup which packs it down nicely.



         Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, then let it cool completely before putting
 the filling in.

       Once the crust has cooled, make the filling. In a stand mixture or in a bowl using those mama bear arms of yours, combine the filling ingredients, whipping it well, until no lumps remain, and it is smooth.

     Spread the filling evenly into the cooled crust, and it let sit in the fridge to set up overnight.

     In the morning, slice up your strawberries, and starting at the outside diameter, arrange the slices in a circle, moving your way to the center.


                           When you are finished, put the pie back in the fridge until ready to serve.


Sunday, May 6, 2012


It is my Sunday ritual.

Here I sit, in my corner computer desk, sipping a mango kombucha, soaking in the late afternoon sun that falls softly through my curtain less west facing window. My feet are cold, and rimmed with remnants of spending the day in the garden, and a little sore from breaking in a new pair of summer thongs. The foot warmers, the usual suspects that usually gather at my feet are missing, and can be found lounging on the deck, watching the world go by on this late, cool spring evening. My desk is messy, with all tall stuff pushed to the side so I can get a clear view of the screen, and there is a fleece blanket draped on the back of my chair ready to whip over my lap as soon as the sun dips below the treeline. In about ten minutes, Jeremy will come up, and bring me dinner as I dine with my computer. Ahhh, Sunday evening.

Jeremy asked me earlier in the day, "what are you going to write about?"

"Dunno," I answered. There has been so much running through my head, that necessarily doesn't run in tandem with my heart, it's hard to pick a subject to blab about, since they are rarely on the same page these days. One thing that the both of them have been chewing on, is beginnings. The last two weeks have been spent witnessing beginnings.

My friend and fellow photographer Sarah and I spent last weekend wrapped in the arms of two beginnings. My childhood best friend got married, as well as one of my brother's childhood best friends, and Sarah and I had the awesome pleasure of being their wedding photographers. My, what an emotional weekend it was, and I gotta say, we got to photograph two of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen.

Friends, meet Janna.

Gorgeous, I know, right?

I met Janna when I was four and a half years old. Lucky for me, she happened to live right next door. My childhood was spend attached to her hip, and she was the bestest of the best. I cannot imagine what life would have been like, growing up without her. My heart hurts just to entertain the thought. She was the first person I ever trusted completely, the person I laughed the hardest with, the person I watched Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with probably over 20 times with, the person I had no problem sharing anything with, and she most defiantly had a hand in shaping the person that I am today. Thank you, my dear, sweet, friend, for that part of my heart.

When I first met her husband to be, my heart settled into a good place. I liked him immediately, with his warm and gentle nature, and the way he looked not at Janna, but into her. They connected on a very deep level, and it was obvious to anyone who spent time with them.

It was an extreme honor for us to be asked to do the wedding photography, and I cannot help but look at the images and be so humbled to be such a big part of a beginning. The beginning of them.

Next, meet Shannon and Kip.

Kip is one of my brothers best buds from back in the day. He was a regular at our house growing up, and as you can see, loves to be a goof ball. Jeremy knows when I'm editing their wedding photos by the the whoops of laughter coming from the room I am in. The photos are hilarious, with his animated nature and his new brides lovely silliness too. We had a blast with them, such a fun, fun couple to photograph. I hadn't met Shannon until she walked into the room for portraits that day, and took every one's breath away. Her laid back nature put us at ease, making our job so enjoyable just to be in her company. I did manage to get a couple serious photos to mark the beginning of them, but mostly fun, silly ones that perfectly matches their style. So, raise a glass with me to welcome a new beginning, to Kip and Shannon.

The next new beginning, is one that hurts my heart so good. I missed the birth of my brand new niece because I was sick, so I had to wait a bit to finally meet her. As you know, babies are hard for me. Previous loss and loss of the hope of having another baby have twisted into a big, raw, ugly, wound that starts to throb harder the minute I smell diapers.  I never know how I'm going to react, and that makes me scared, guilty, and terrified, all at the same time.

As we walked to the door of my brothers house, my heart was beating wildly in my chest. I so wanted to keep that crazy, wild haired, emotion in check, so I hid it away in that closet in your heart that stores the unwanted junk. She was asleep when I got there, so I waited a good twenty heart pounding minutes before I slipped into the room she was sleeping in, by myself, to meet her.

The minute I saw her, the pounding on that emotional closet door stopped, and a door engraved with the name Lexi flew open with a bang. I was in love, no question, and it hurt, but the good kind. It's amazing how fast love can push everything away and be the clearest, purest, whole encompassing thing in the room.

So, world, meet sweet Lexi.

The beginnings these weeks have been beautiful, and I am left reflecting.

 I have one more beginning, but it's in the works. Nothing too terribly exciting, but exciting for our little family. I'll blog about it in the weeks to come.

Happy, beautiful beginnings, and love to Janna and Brian, Shannon and Kip, and my new beautiful niece, Lexi!