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The Sweetheart Birthdays

Check out all of the new pictures in the Photo Gallery! Almost all categories have new pictures added to them.  LOTS of cute little faces:  

Tiny SmilesMinisFamily Smiles, & Birthdays

This weekend I will be tackling and posting my first furniture makeover! Hoping to complete for under $70! Holding my breath and keeping my fingers crossed! Here is a hint:

Yellow paint + grout + $25 dollar dresser = ? TBD

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Life Lessons for LB {sharing my heart}

I have been keeping a journal (a gift I got from LB's Dad).  It isn't so much of a journal as it is letters to my son.  I catch myself writing ongoing life lessons.  He's only two and a half so he is going to have a lot of reading to do by the time he is eighteen.  I feel like this has been therapeutic.  I have a way of sharing with him the things that he just can't possibly keep stored.  Now, he will have it forever. 

There is a great quote by Elizabeth Stone, ‘Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside of your body.’ This is very true.  You will learn this when you become a parent.  When you cry, my heart cries.  When you get hurt, my heart hurts.  When you smile, laugh, and love – my heart does the same.  A piece of me resides within you.

Oh the places you’ll go – “There will be times in your life when you feel stuck.  It’s up to you to decide where you’ll go.  Keep on trekking.  Go, go, go kid.  You’ll move mountains.”  I have not a doubt in my mind that you will do just this.  Be strong, be kind and there is nothing you can’t do.

Accept others.  Be kind to everyone.  Everyone has their own story, their own challenges and struggles.  Accept them as they are and treat them with respect – they deserve it until they show you that they don’t. 

Being a man. It isn’t defined by the extra curricular activities that you pursue.  Being a man, being you, is defined by your character.  Be emotional, be sincere, be you.  I am always proud of you.

Work with your hands.  Our family comes from hard workers.  They have dirt on their hands, literally.  I want you to know how to change your oil (and your moms) and I want you to help Grandpa in the field.  This will help you to be a well rounded individual. 

Go to College.  This is not an option and absolutely not negotiable.  I will support whatever you want to do with your life but you have to have a degree and the experience that comes with going to collage. 

Find your passion.  Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.  Do it as your career or on the side as a hobby.  Always know that life is worth living.  It goes too quickly and it is wasted if you don’t enjoy it.  If you live this way, you will inspire others to do the same.

Never stop learning.  If you don’t know the answer to something, ask.  Why and how create stimulation in your brain. That is how you learn.  Figure out the mechanical, chemical, environmental causes for everything.  Take classes for enjoyment ~ Solely for the purpose of learning. 

Respect. Period.  Show it to everyone.  You are no better or worse than anyone else.  Friends, family, loves, strangers, earth – all deserve your respect.  You get what you give.

Put the toilet seat down.  Seriously.  Not only is it polite but it is sanitary to do so.

Dream.  Smile.  Love.

 And last but not least, home is where your heart is.  Go and explore.  Travel and experience life.  Just know that you can always come home.  I will always be there with open arms and with a kiss in the crook of your neck (that’s my favorite place). 

Kisses times 10, LB. Love you! 

 

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February 1 {one month follow up}

Well, a month ago (give or take a day) I wrote Reflection and Anticipation {2011 Review / 2012 New Beginning} and I am happy to say that I am making progress - and progress can never be a bad thing.  Here are the action items I highlighted for resolution for 2012: 

Smile more, frown less: I think I am doing A LOT better here.  I am making a conscious effort to control my thoughts, both the positive and negative and I can honestly say my outlook is better.  I continue to check Marc and Angel for some helpful tips but all in all I can say that after 30 days in, I am smiling more. Very important question: Can frown lines be reversed by smile lines??  Here's to hoping!! 

Compliment more, critique less:  I am complimenting more.  If I think it in my head, I try to say it out loud.  Critiquing is more of a conscious effort to not be negative so, ...  I am working on it :)

Be a more effective listener: Still not very good at this one.  I interrupt A LOT!!  And I multi task while listening, which does not make me a very effective listener.  So, much improvement is still needed here!

PATIENCE: Still working on this.... 

Challenge myself: I think every time I take pictures, blog, and tackle one of my DIY projects I am challenging myself so I would say this is going well.  I am hoping I can add many more posts in February. At least 2 per week - that is my goal. 

Live a healthier lifestyle: Daily struggle.  I am a yo yo junk food junkie...  I go in kicks - buy healthy food = eat healthy food.  Buy junk = eat junk.  It is a vicious cycle! One the positive side, I am working out in the morning!  A few things that are helping my motivation: 1) the gym is right next door to LB's daycare -literally next door so I am not wasting time driving.  2) I am working out with my girlfriend.  We text every night to coordinate schedules.  Having someone else to keep me accountable has been beneficial! 3) Realistic standards - my goal is 3 times per week and if I go more than it is a bonus! I am hoping to get up to every weekday - but I am trying to keep realistic standards until I can develop my routine. 

Take more pictures: check! I still want to do more but until I can have a cool phone (I have one from the 1990's to save money) that will do this for me, it just isn't as feasible to drag the Nikon around everywhere I go.

Set the 'To Do' list aside: I AM making less lists - but, I am also forgetting a lot of things at the store due to my lack of lists...  working on the balance!

Life, Love and Lemons Update: For the month of January I had 232 unique viewers and almost 2000 pages viewed!  That is more than double for December! I have a couple of photo sessions to edit and add this week and a few more to take this month.  Looking forward to February!  Don't forget to get updates via the Facebook page and to contact me on great deals to capture your special moments! 

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Finding Inspiration {meant-to-be-meetings}

Do you ever look back in your life and say, “Wow, this was supposed to happen?  Something greater than me, greater than life had a hand in this?”  Well, I had one of those moments this past fall.

During a challenging transition point in my life I stumbled on this post about Virginia.  I follow Virginia is for Lovers on Facebook…  part of my heart is still there.  It brought me to the blog website of Amy Kolz.  I found her post cute and funny so I decided to do a little more reading…  and I continued to read and read.  I stayed up late one night reading all of her posts.  Some made me laugh – most made me cry.  I felt like I knew her.  It reminded me a lot of myself.  From that moment on, checking her blog was as regular as my morning coffee.  This one here I love reading.  It is about motherhood.  It is about being enough, your love as a mother is enough.  When things get hard I recite her words to myself.  I can look at LB and I know that everything isn’t perfect, but what we have is special.  It is something that a Mother and Son share, and there isn’t anything else like it in the world.

I wanted to highlight some of my favorites.  It would be easier to tell you to just go read them all but, I briefly picked out a few that even though I had already read them months ago; rereading them made me cry all over again.  The ones that really get me are the ‘Mom and Son’ entries.  LB is my world.  He is growing up so quickly.  Amy’s son is grown and she does some powerful reflection on the years past…  It makes my heart ache for her, and it makes mine hurt for what is coming, LB growing up.  Here are a few Mommy entries:

Holding you, I held everything…

If only I had known then

So, after ‘meeting’ Amy it set me on this path of perpetual searching for more, to do more, now. She opened this world of bloggers, photographers, and DIYers.  I have always had a creative nitch (I get it from my Mom) and have had a longing to be a photographer.  I got my camera as a gift from LB’s dad a few weeks before he was born.  It was a “Thank you for carrying our son for 9 months gift”.  I cherish the camera and the intentions behind the gift.  So back to Amy – She inspired me to start now.  Do the photography.  Start the blog.  I am exploring my creative side too.  I started to teach myself to crochet and do other little things…  I am sure I will post more about them once I can perfect my skill some (seriously, you should see the scarf I attempted - it looks more like a headband)!  So in the weeks to follow I made a site, purchased the domain name, purchased the site and got to work stalking people to let me photograph them in exchange for advertising…  which, I am still doing! :)

So, about 2 weeks ago I got an email from no one other than ... Amy Kolz.  She saw traffic from my site and thanked me for posting her as one of my links.  WOW!  I felt like I was talking to a celebrity – no joke.  So from there, poor Amy got this LONG email from me telling her what an inspiration she is to me.  I probably scared her!  But, bless her heart, she humored me and wrote back. 

And the rest is history.  My life is forever changed by the talented Amy Kolz – writer, photographer, and daydreamer.  Here’s to meant-to-be-meetings ;)

 You can read more about Amy at www.AmyKolz.com.  Here are a few more posts that I love:

what i'm learning

fearless fridays {then and now}

helicopters in the sand

"Sometimes it's the smallest decision that can change your life forever" ~ Keri Russell

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Learning by Doing... {And loving it}!

"If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things
you cannot learn any other way."
- Mark Twain

I haven’t posted anything in a while…  I have had so many exciting things going on (and a sick 2 year old) that it is keeping me busy …  too busy to blog!  However, here are some of my exciting happenings:

Reorganized my photography section on Life Love & Lemons – Pictures are now under Gallery and divided by photography theme.  I have several exciting topics that I don’t have active yet.  One of them is going to be dedicated to Birthdays, of all ages!  I have several birthdays that I will be capturing in February that I can’t wait to photograph and post! The other section will be Birth Stories.  This is special and deserves its own post – so, more on that topic later.  You have to check out the engagement and belly pictures that were added. 

The engagement pictures were done outside in Ottawa at Allen Park.  The bridge and river gave a pretty backdrop, it was cold but beautiful.  There are a few things I would have done differently and some additional shots that I wished I would have captured but all in all not bad for a first time.  The couple is adorable so each picture is beautiful just because they are in it.  I will definitely utilize Ottawa again for some of its unique older buildings, the bridge, water, churches ect.  If you are looking to have engagement pictures taken, I can offer you a great deal!  Contact me for details!

The belly pictures I think turned out great!  I am really happy with them.  Mama and Daddy were so cooperative, and too cute for words!  I have lots of favorites and I am still editing! We took over 200 pictures! If you or someone you know is expecting, contact me for a great rate on belly and newborn pictures!

Last week as I was doing some late night editing and restructuring of my site – I noticed I received an email…  and I was excited (because  I LOVE that someone is interacting with my site) but not only was this someone, this was Amy Kolz.  If you are not familiar with her, you should be!  This requires a separate post as well…  coming soon!

I love checking on how many people are looking at my site and I appreciate you reading and looking at the pictures.  I really encourage your feedback.  Another set of eyes with an open mind and a different perspective is always welcome.  

This is all new to me, the website / content building and photography – I am learning by doing… And LOVING IT!!

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The sweetest thing...

It is amazing how a cookie first thing in the morning can start your day off just right.  Now, this isn’t totally as it sounds – however, I am not a stranger to eating cookies and sweats in the morning but this story isn’t about that, well, not entirely.

Yesterday, as I am getting ready to leave for work, LB points to a package of store bought cookies on the counter and he starts to whine.  My first reaction was, ummm, no you can’t have cookies for breakfast.  But, he was insistent on the cookie and the little tike had been sick and feeling miserable for several days now so I figured what could it hurt?

I open the package and hand him the last cookie form the container.  He hands it back to me.  I look confused and I say “Here LB, you can eat it” trying to reassure him that it is ok.  He hands it back and says “Mommy!’  I was taken back…  He was giving me the cookie…  really?!  I of course squealed in delight.  What a sweet gesture from a tired, sick toddler.  Then I thought, “Does this Boy know me or what? Cookies for breakfast? Yes, please!”

(Side Note:  I bought a package of cookies a few days prior and managed to eat an entire dozen almost all on my own in 2 days. I am addicted to sweats.  ADDICTED.  I bought these cookies because they were calling out to me.  Caramel Toffee Macadamia Nut – need I say more).

Here are a few recipes I will have to try:

Toffee Macadamia Nut

Pretzel Butterscotch Chocolate Chip


 

 

 

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What I love about Sundays

I love Sundays...  especially when they are filled with wonderful people and beautiful photos!  I had two photo sessions.  The first one was for an engagement announcement picture and the second was for a baby belly and family!  Below is a sneak peak - I am still doing some editing but I love them too much not to share!

Then, of course time with LB.  Can't beat an all day pjami day!

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How do you eat an elephant?....

So, I LOVE this saying...  You may be wondering, if you haven't heard it before, well then, how DO you eat an elephant?  Well, the answer is: ... one bite at a time.  

Sometimes,...  most of the time, in life I would like to be able to just be where I want to be.  But, as life should have it; it doesn't work this way.  Bite by bite, or step by step you eventually get to where you are supposed to be.  Sometimes you may choke and sometimes you may stumble but with a lesson or two you eventually learn to chew more slowly or exam better the path you are walking.  But, you do in fact  get there... or at least that is what I am told.

I choke / stumble a lot :)  I have learned that about myself.  I learn by doing and sometimes the ‘doing’ that I choose doesn’t always work out the way I thought.  My life isn’t exactly where I had anticipated it to be at the ripe ol’ age of 29…. Actually, it isn’t even close… and that makes me laugh a little because I can’t really imagine it any other way but exactly how it is.  I think back to all of the different path options and the different ways my life could have ended up …  but really, what is the point of doing that.  It’s called hindsight for a reason.  

In my new little venture, I have to continue to remind myself to move slowly and to stay focused.  And in the grander scheme, my life, I need to remind myself of that as well.  I sometime get so caught up in what I want for my life that I skip the necessary steps to really get to where I am going, and with that, a lot of the excitement that comes a long with figuring it out gets lost too.  

I dislike using the word ‘mistakes’…  I prefer to say lessons for progress.  I have had my share of mistakes, er, I mean, lessons (the lemons). I am a work in progress, and for me,  I wouldn't have it any other way - If I stop being 'in-progress' then what do I become??

I heart my lemons.  Without them, I wouldn't be exactly who I am.  

If you ask this guy, who I am isn't too shaby...  

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Life, Love and Lemons {official logo}!!

I just have to say that B-land Desgn is the best!  And, I am not just saying that because he is my brother-in-law :) He took exactly what I had in my head for an image and made it digital.  AMAZING!

I also made a few page changes based on some much appreciated feedback I received - I also wanted it to support my new color scheme! 

Let me know what you think! 

 

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What My Smiles are made of:

2012 has started off with a new sense of focus and calm.  I took a few days off work to spend time with the big guy LB, it doesn't get better than that! We played with little cousins (we worked on sharing) and ate pizza! Then opened some late Christmas presents and played.  It was totally relaxing and fun not having any where to rush off to.  In honor of one of my resolutions (taking more pictures) here are a few from that day: 

He LOVES sharks, one of his new favorites.  He is becoming very accustom to my pictures - he even says 'cheese'!

Then after work yesterday we went to "Mommy's school" ( I take some night classes) and he LOVES going with me because he is infatuated with dinosaurs.  Classes were out so he was able to roam.  We had so much fun - just chillin, no where to be but in the moment.  Check out his smiles:

...and mine are behind the lens :)

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Reflection and Anticipation {2011 review / 2012 new beginnings}

Over the past few days I have been seeing a lot of posts on New Years Resolutions for 2012.  I have never been one to take these very seriously...  I make the remarks, "My New Years Resolution is xy or z" but that is about as far as I go.  However, this year I have actually given it some serious thought.  I even wrote it on paper... NOW, I am posting it, publicly.  So, I guess I am inclined to at least attempt to 'resolve' a thing or two. 

I read this really great article - actually, they have a lot of really great articles - I definitely recommend subscribing to them.  It is called Marc and Angel Hack Life.  They have a lot of motivational tips to make you have a more aware and involved life.  The article I read yesterday, 30 Challenges for 30 Days of Growth is a really great read - and I would say they are overly ambitious :).  He is doing each of those action items everyday for at least 30 days, and most likely to follow the rest of the year.  Go Marc!  However, I will settle on a few for 2012.  The motivation behind my 2012 progress has several layers; parenting, personal growth and a more positive outlook, healthy living, and professional progress.  My rough draft list is (drum roll, please):

Smile more, frown less. (this one is for a more positive outlook - but, I also have a serious frown mark on my forehead that needs to NOT get worse)

Compliment more, critique less.

Be a more effective listener.

PATIENCE.  I am not a naturally patient person.  So, I have to consciously work through this one.

Challenge myself.  I love learning and doing new things - I just don't actively pursue the unfamiliar because I get complacent. 

Live a healthier lifestyle.  I have horrible eating habits.  And, I believe that has rubbed off on my son, or he is just a picky 2 year old, however I want to demonstrate healthy eating and hopefully he will come around too.  I want to find fun new recipes and give them a try.  Exercise is so important for a strong mind and body.  I need to put my healthy mind and healthy body higher on my priority list.  It has always taken the back seat to not having enough time and being too tired when I actually find the time. 

Take more pictures.  My family would probably wonder how that is even possible - I take a lot of pictures.  But, I want my camera to become attached to me everywhere I go.   I see so many great views from my drivers seat.  I want to pull the car over a snap a few shots - I never do that and I am missing a lot.  It isn't the physical picture file that I am missing but the moment to take it in and see the art and beauty. 

Set the 'To Do' list aside.  I am a list maker.  I skip out on opportunities to play and laugh because there is laundry and dishes to do.  I need to realize that in 15 minutes from now or tomorrow morning the items on my list will still be there but those moments that I am taking a pass on will not be. 

 2011 was a lot of changing / adjusting.  2012 will be settling in and growing for us.  We are happy and we are looking forward to another great year! Bring on 2012!  Happy New Year!

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It's the simply things...

making gingerbread houses.

sprinkles on cookies (that later get eaten by the dog).

wearing Mommy's sunglasses (that end up broken).

time with family.

the love of Santa.

smiles.  laughter.  joy.

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Late to work {...and so worth it}

LB was up early today, but was not interested in cartoons or breakfast.  All he wanted to do was snuggle... and snuggle... and snuggle...  So, 30 minutes into our snuggle session, I decided that showers were over-rated and work wasn't going anywhere - so we snuggled.  That was of course followed up with an insane amount of running around trying to get out the door, but it was nice while it lasted. :)

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The First Snow!

I live in the midwest, oh the cold! - I have NEVER liked the cold!... well, I assume I did as a kid, but not so much anymore.  I dream of the day when I can hear the crashing of the ocean and feel the heat of the sun, everyday - flip flops will be optional, barefoot is always best!

But for now, this is home, and it isn't so bad.  In past years I have dreaded the coming of winter.  However, this year is different.  I wouldn't go so far to say I am embracing it, but I have an anticipation for it that I haven't felt in a very long time.  Do you want to know what that is? SNOW!  I can't wait for the look in LB's brown, curious eyes when he sees it for the first time.  The expression on his face when he touches the crisp, cold snow.  (To be honest, he did all of that last year, but he didn't get it - actually, he screamed - he hated the entire 5 minutes he spent sitting in last years first snow).  I had high expectations for this year.  And today, I got them! I woke him up with a new excitement today - SNOW!  As he rubbed his tired eyes, I took him to the window, "Look LB! SNOW!" He could see the excitement on my face, and in my voice - and he echoed mine, "SNOW!"  That smile, that sound - priceless.  In those moments I tell myself, don't ever for get this - DON'T EVER FORGET THIS.  We bundled up and went outside.  He was curious, but not too curious to initiate the meeting, the shaking of hands with 'snow'.  So, I made introductions.  I made a snowball and placed it in his hand - quickly he dropped it, but smiled and said, "Snow,... cold!"

It was a perfect start to my day, and I hope to his as well.

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Here it is: {the first, of many}

I have been brainstorming and planning this blog for months now.  The photography has really been the heart and soul of it all.  For as long as I can remember, I have loved photography and always dreamed that it would help shape the person that I become.  It gives me a sense of pride, of course in seeing the 'fruits of your labor' in a final product.  However, it is much more than that.  It makes me more aware of the beauty there is on ever turn and every face.  Beauty surrounds us. This is very much a work in progress, or maybe organized chaos... or potentially unorganized chaos...  So, as this unfolds, please be patient with me.

until next time, ~puckers and hugs (I am working on my sign off, get it - pucker because of the lemon?!?) haha!

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