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The other side of the lens (year II)

Well, this year marked the second year of our family pictures and we added another little smiling face. It went a little better then last year, I didn't get mud on my pants but I did have to edit out my spanx from my creeping dress :) Brayden was his typical 4 year old self - cooperative and sweet, until he decided not to be.  Then, it was utter refusal.  Miranda did really well - she is on a good streak - lets hope she will be so use to having her picture taken that she will just beam any time I ask! 

We were waiting for John to arrive after work, so I got a lot of pictures of me and the kids - something that rarely happens.  I wanted to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight before I had these done, but, like I encourage others to do, these kids will only be this small for a very short time - and, they love me regardless of the extra weight I have to loose.  

Here's our little family:



Thanks again Chris Bland with B-Land Design Photography, you are pretty fantastic! ;) 



new smiles

In Brayden's 3 1/2 years of life - He has had more dental work done then many adults. 

At 5 months, he got his first 2 teeth.  But, when they came in, they had a greyness to them.  Over the next several months, they chipped away - eventually exposing his nerve.  So, at 13 months old, he had to have a double root canal. 

6 months later, the veneer cover popped off.  The entire cap needed to be replaced.  We had to do the entire thing all over again.  After it was all said and done, Brayen loved his new 'toothers'.  He loved telling people about his 'new teeth'. 

Then, just a few weeks ago I noticed a lump on his gum.  Come to find out, it was an abscess - he had an infection in the roots of both teeth.  The dentist told us he would need to have them pulled.  

This is really small potatoes to many things in life - I thank God daily for my healthy, stubborn, lovable little man.   But, at the same time I am vain enough to admit I love Brayden's toothy little grin.  He looks just like his Mom :)  I was worried about how he would look - and now with the wedding coming up, he will be toothless for all of our pictures.  More then all of those things, he would have to experience something scary - scary for him, and for his parents.  Watching him being taken away by strangers and worrying about him being scared is a terrible feeling.  

I took some pictures of him at T-Ball this week, I wanted to capture his last days of this smile.  

Yesterday, I saw the dentist round the corner.  He said Brayden did great.  He gave us the 'to-do's' and 'do-nots' to care for his gap, where his precious little fake teeth use to be.  As he was explaining, I saw my little man round the corner - 4 stickers on his shirt,  a little prize in each hand, and a bloody gauze between is lips.  I removed the gauze and looked...  it was scary at first, but he was still that adorable little man - he just looked older.  And he added a cute little whistle to his words when he speaks.  

Throughout the day yesterday, We made our rounds to show off his new look.  Every time I looked at him, I smiled ear to ear, "I love your new smile, Brayden - you look so cute!"  I truly do.  I realized I had the same feeling when they were going to cap his first teeth - sad and scared about the process and what he would look like.  But, he is always my adorable little man.  One day, his big boy teeth will decide to come in.  I have no doubt I will love that awkward little smile just as much as I have loved the different versions it has already gone through.  He is more then his teeth - He is Brayden, my beautiful little boy.  

 I do love that adorable little toothless smile ; )



the beauty I stumble on

I fell short on completing my "blog everyday in May" challenge.  The summer starts to pick up a lot for my little photography shop - Busy most weekends, be it taking pictures or editing them.  So, my intention started out very gung-hoe, but it was hard to keep up.  There are still a few of her topics that I plan on blogging about...  I just need to wait until I get caught up.  The blogging is fun, it has turned into my hobby and therapy and the photography is a business - so, the clients come first.  Well, truth be told, they are second...  this little guy comes first:

It makes me a little sad to say out loud, but Brayden and I had 5 days in row together.  No work.  No Photography.  I think the last time we had that many days in a row together without much interruption was last summer for vacation.  I didn't realize how much I miss that time with him - this week back to work was brutal - all 3 days of it.  And, Brayden is with his Dad this weekend - and, I really miss him.  That time together spoils us both - it is really hard to get back to that routine, that 7:30-5:30 daily grind.  He is growing up so fast - I feel like time is slipping away.  He is going to turn into a teenager in the blink of an eye - I pray, daily, that he will still love me like he does now.  I pray, daily, that he is gentler on me then I was to my parents.  I pray we respect each other, like we do now - but with greater appreciation for where time has taken us.  

During our break - the 3 of us went to the zoo - they have a dinosaur exhibit.  And, if there is anything Brayden loves as much as his Mom - it would be his dinosaurs.  He has loved them for forever it feels like.  He is inherently all boy.

 I use to worry about Brayden missing the everyday male role model, that I would be confusing his 'maleness' - If there is even such a thing - but, I know now that even though he still likes to put on my jewelry and play with my make-up from time to time, he is all boy.  He loves sticks, and worms, and monster trucks, and dinosaurs, and being outside and 'rough houseing'.  I apparently us that term now much like my mom use too.  It probably sounds something like 'if you boys are going to rough house, go down stairs' - because Brayden now uses that phrase, "John and I are going to rough house - I will be the rough house.  Downstairs, right Mom?"

I wish I had a video to capture every silly phrase, every hug, every kiss, every 'so much" response to my "I love you".   He will never be like this again.  I find myself being happy and sad, excited and terrified all at the same time.  

These feelings surfaced up this week being back at work...  and then this morning I read this article that was shared on FB - To Parents of Small Children - Go read it.   You will laugh and cry - because we all feel it.  Because parenting is hard.  Because parenting has all of those emotions that you just don't get until you have children to raise...  to witness and participate all at the same time.  Both Parent and child learning as we go.  Parenting is frustrating and exhausting and down right scary sometimes.  But, it is the best thing I have ever done, ever.  And, I imagine it will always be #1 on my list of accomplishments. I love when I stumble on beauty - the article reminded me of the zoo pictures that I hadn't looked at yet - and then, as I opened the folder, I stumbled on the most beautiful faces, Brayden and John, my family.   

In the Life, Love & Lemons front, I updated the Home page with a few of my fav photos.  I have the most beautiful families.  I also added a new proofing and purchasing site.  AND, I bought a new camera!!  John asked if I was excited as I examined the new Nikon...  my response, "No.  I am scared sh!t!#ss".  I needed to upgrade, but it is hard to bite the bullet and spend the money.  But, now that I have it I am so fascinated by the upgraded / updated technology.  I will put it to practice this weekend shooting some of my vintage rentals for my website. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! :)  Thanks for stopping by!


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Day 16: My lot in life - My becoming

My lot in life is much the same as it has always been.  I have been surrounded by my immediate family, always.  Even when there has been distance - physical or emotional - we are never far from each other.  

I have always been the child of six to do things a little differently - often against the warning of my family.  And, although I respect their opinions, I know that their choices and decisions and their way of doing things is not always the same for me.  

I have a long list in my head - all of the things that my family said "I told you so".  But, at the same time, they have always been there.  I have to discover on my own.  I also have to suck up my pride and ask for help when my plans don't hash out.  For them, my list is probably longer then they would like it to be.  For me, I know there are many things that I still didn't do - and, I wish I would have (and maybe still will).   My place on earth was meant to take this route of self discovery by trial and error, by being knocked down and getting back up.  My lot in life is to be the child that gave my Mom grey hair and go against my Dad's better advisement.  It has also given me Brayden, and now John.  My journey hasn't always been the typical route, but I eventually find my destination, sometimes it is just a bumpier path.  

From someone or somewhere I have this sense of dreaming big - I am convinced it is genetic - so, my parents can blame themselves! ; )  This lot, this life is all about doing and learning.  And, I am beyond happy.  

I owe most of it to my parents who has kept me grounded with values - but let me fly (even if they didn't want me to).  Deep down, I think they are proud of 'how' I am - and who I am becoming. 


My lot, my family, my choices have all helped to develop the person I am becoming - but, part of me has always just been me.

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catching up - blog everyday in May

So, I guess I am getting about a C- in the 'blog everyday in May' challenge.  

I am going to do some catching up.

Day 10: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill. .... Umm, yeah -I am passing on this one.  I did photoblogs instead :) here, here, and here (encase you missed them)

Day 11: Sell yourself in 10 words or less

I can learn and do anything (and then I smile).  


Day 12: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life...)

I miss Virginia, but I love my family more so in the Midwest I will remain, for a while anyway.  I miss parts of my childhood.  Not school - but being on the farm.  I didn't know how much I loved it until I am without it.  I would love to experience that again, knowing what I know now. 


Day 13: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.

I have nothing for this one.   Boring, I know. 


Day 14: Ten things that make you really happy

1) Brayden

2) John

3) My family and friends

4) Country Music

5) Being creative - Photography, editing, painting, designing, etc.

6) Learning, anything and everything

7) Field Work.  I love the smell of spring time and fresh tilled earth.  I love seeing planters and combines that start work early and stay late - often to beat forecasted rain or to get it done well Mother Nature will allow.  

8) The American flag and songs associated with it

9) Shopping (I would be a liar if this wasn't on my top 10 list)

10) Dreaming of the future


Day 15: A Day in the life (include photos from throughout your typical day - this could be "a photo an hour" if you'd like)

Please excuse the cell pictures, but it is a glipse.  

Wake up to this:


Shower, coffee (made a delivered by John), breakfast for B (usually in bed), finish getting ready, walk to daycare, walk back home, leave for work, Manage a "Quality Management System" and all of the joys that go along with my 9-5'er, get Brayden, go home, snack, make dinner, do laundry, get ready for the next day, Bath Brayden, Play with Brayden, say "no" a million times,  Say "yes" and answer "Why" a million times, and in between it all I answer photography emails, schedule appointments, take pictures, edit pictures, edit more pictures, blog about pictures or life in general.  And currently planning a wedding...  Caterers, favors, bands, center pieces, photographers, rings, shoes, ...  Oh, and I shop for antiques or vintage items - always explaining 'why' to John.  "It is for the wedding or it is a prop or I am going to paint it and resell it."  God Bless him, he usually just smiles :)  Our days are busy, and sometimes long - but, I love it. 

Basically, it all revolves around this adorable little man :) 


Can you blame me? :)  He's so cute!! 



Happy Mother's Day Weekend

I am looking forward to this weekend.  Not only is Sunday Mother's Day - but, I get my boy back from Virginia!!  

For all of the Mom's out there, take the weekend to relax.  Dishes, laundry, dusting can wait.  Just enjoy the little people that gave this day to you.  There really is nothing else in life that can compare.  So, start celebrating today and make the whole weekend dedicated to being a great mom - and let your kids know how much you appreciate them for giving you the best gift in the world, Motherhood :)




Day 9: A moment in your day

Day 9, Thursday: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)

a gift from my Mom - does she know me or what! 

Most of days look the same....  The mornings are usually crazy.  Hit snooze one too many times, shower, make breakfast for B, get dressed, maybe make-up, maybe blow dry, get B dressed, grab the remaining bits of breakfast for him to eat in the car or at Mrs. A's house.  His daycare is literally 2 blocks from the house.  I have wonderful intentions of walking there now that it is nice out...  I will also have to get up earlier.  Either way, I always run 'late' too work.  I just say my hours are from 7:45 to 5:15... instead of 7:30-5:00 like they are supposed to be :) 

A few of my favorite parts of my morning, is my coffee - not only is it a necessity, but John makes it for me and delivers it to whatever room I happen to be frantically getting ready in.  From there it is a hurried kiss good-bye.  I love that part of our morning.  It isn't much, but it is the little things that make it special.  My other favorite is Brayden...  Even on the frustrating days when he begs for just a few more minutes to finish his cartoon (which is typically why I run late) or when he gives me his sad face because he just wants us 'to stay together'.  And yes, even though I hear it multiple times a week, it always breaks my heart.  This week, he is in VA.  So, I have actually been to work on time....  which is fun to watch people do a double take when I walk in the door BEFORE 7:30.  But, I miss my little buddy.  I miss his questions.  I miss his smile.  I miss his pucker when we kiss good-bye, and kiss hello.  I am ready for him to be home.  I miss the chaos.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  



story of my life with, story of my life

A young lady I have been following posted a challenge to her fellow bloggers - Blog everyday in May.  This is a challenge - but, she gave us the topics to write about every day.  So, in addition to my photo blogs, I will be trying to type about her topics as well.  Sometimes with writing it is organizing a relateable topic into one, not to long, post, that is often the challenge.  It is very helpful that she provided the cues to push us to write about.  So, go check out Story of My Life with Jenni - she also has amazing photography as well.  

so, here we go with, the story of my life (in 250 words, approximately)

Proud conservative, Catholic, farmers daughter - I am the third of six.  Growing up on a farm - with a stay at home mom and a third generation farming family is something that isn't heard of often anymore.  I love that my story is very different - it involves working as kids walking beans, doing chores, and being active in 4-H.  I couldn't have written a better life for myself - I hope someday to provide that same kind of pride to my kids in some way.  

 My family is my roots, and I am the sibling with wings, very diferent from my grounded siblings.  We all share very similar characteristic (our spouses, significant others say that common thread is stubbornness).  I seek out adventure, always thinking of my next new and exciting step, often before I have followed through with the stride I am in.  My family is always good to be the realism - even though I usually do what I want anyway - they are always there.

 I am the proudest Mommy of the most adorable 3 year old on the planet.  He brings out the light in my heart and I ask everyday to keep him little so we can keep our lovable little life just as it is.  But, I know he will grow.  With his height, and with my age - my pride will grow too.  I know he will accomplish great things in his life.  He is my everything.  I finally found the love of my life, who was right around the corner, literally, all my life.  We just needed the right moments to align for us to meet.  We are planning a wedding in August, but more importantly, plan for a life together for the next 60+ years - with babies and a home.  And God willing, lots of traveling in the service of others, someday.  

 The center of my soul consists of family entangled with my little passions that are always growing with antiques or old stuff, ( that I am sure someday my family will turn me in for hoarding), painting furniture, photography, and dreaming of my next big move....  and of course, great country music...  

Pretty sure that was more than 250 words ....  :) oh well - I was never much for following rules anyway.



beyond contentment

I reference Mark and Angel often on here.  I find their writing and insight thought provoking and attitude altering.  Today's post is 6 Reasons Someone Wishes They Were You.  Go read it (after this one of course). 

Before I blog, I often mull a topic over for a few days.  I get the premise of what I want it to say and I visually type it out in my mind.  I have been thinking for a few days about my own happiness and my own contentment in the day to day.  It is interesting to me that a year ago, my life was in a completely different place.  It was without John and the comforts of his companionship, but I was happy and content with where my life was.  I was evolving into a person that was learning the comforts of my own skin.  I didn't have everything that I wanted, but I absolutely had everything I needed - our basic needs were met: work, apartment, food, entertainment, photography...  Most importantly, I had Brayden and our health.  Now, in this short time, our lives have had a major shift - and it hasn't always been easy - but we are so happy.  

We are planning this wedding - oh my, what an exciting, frustrating, time consuming, costly, momentous event this is.  I love it and curse it all in the same breathe.  A friend said to me the other day that I will miss the planning...  I told her she was nuts.  But, I assume she is right.  She has been there before - maybe there will be some parts of me that will miss the excitement and the nerves of planning for the event that puts us on the course of 'for the rest of our lives.'  John and I explore buying a home where we will start our family, and we dream about that growing family - picking names for both boys and girls, and how their name and their being will carry on parts of our history.  In the today, I could easily say we are content with our lives, but it is much more than that.  I feel we are far beyond contentment.  We are so blessed with our everyday life.  Sure, more money and a bigger house would be fantastic.  But, we are comfortable - we both work really hard to provide for our everyday and we save for what we want for the future.  We dream.  We dream near and distant futures.  I dream big, John dreams realistically.  I know exactly what I want to be doing by the time I am 55.  There are many, many things that need to happen in these 25 years but I believe no matter what course we take we will end up at one single all-encompassing destination, happiness.  

Speaking of happiness, look at the source of mine.  

This happiness, it reaches far beyond the depths of my soul.  I now know that I always dreamed of this little man - even in my younger days when I said I didn't even want kids.  I think I always knew that I did.  I think I always knew that someday, God would give me Brayden.  In Brayden, I found the true meaning of love and happiness, in responsibility and work.  I learned how to live life because I had to live it for him, with him.  I got to spend one of these recent few sunny beautiful days with him.  We planted flowers, played in the yard, hung a bird feeder, and practiced being ninjas and superheros.  I laugh at the conversations I have with this little man.  He loved planting flowers.  Without prompting, he knew exactly what these plants needed.  He said to me (as we were getting ready to transfer them from one container to the next) "these flowers will be so happy in their new home.  Now all they need is love....  and water."  I stand smiling, nearly crying.  Where?... How?... When did he become so smart, and grown up?  His intelligence far exceeds his age.  He is right.  It is what we all need.  A place to feel at home and a little love...  and water too :)  

In this life we lead, be more than content.  Thrive.  Live on the thrill of the little feet we chase and the noses and bottoms we wipe.  Breath in the air, rainy or sunny - they each have their own distinct beauty.  Learn from the past. dream for the future. live for today - beyond the contentment.  Live and love with excitement, like a 3 year old :)




stay together

Mornings are crazy busy.  Anyone with kids, no matter what the age, or if you work or stay at home, can testify that trying to get everyone out the door usually feels like a cluster of chaos.  

This morning I arrived at work at 7:39.  9 minutes late.  And for me, that is doing pretty darn good.  I told my self, if I had just not hit that snooze button I would have made it here on time.  Who created the 'snooze' button?  Worst idea EVER.  Anyway.  The morning unfolded as it always does.  An interrupted shower by a little guy that wants to spend extra time with his mom.  So, he gets in with me.  I really love my nice quiet hot showers, on the rare occasions that I get to experience them, but I love the interrupted ones too. After the shower,  Brayden sits naked (he loves being naked) watching cartoons just long enough for me to get dressed.  Then he gets shuffled downstairs for breakfast.  Today was apples and m&m pancakes (warmed-up) from Monday when they were made fresh - but, he doesn't mind, it's m&m's for breakfast.  I hurry to finish up.  Partially blow dry my hair, throw on some make-up and then it's his turn for clothes.  We wipe off the syrup stickiness, I feed him bites in between clothing items.  He gets his daily meds and a 2 minute warning for the cartoons.  I run bags and coffee out to the car, start it up and turn the heat on high.  I run back in and do a double check for anything I am forgetting.  We grab coats and we are out the door.   I get maybe 30 seconds (2 minutes if I am lucky) of regular music, mommy music, before Brayden makes the request to hear his music.  I swore my kids would NEVER listen to those goofy kid songs...  but, he loves them.  And, he looks adorable singing along.  So, I ask, " Which one?  Rum Sum Sum?  Monster? Honk Honk?"  Today was the Monster song, so we start to sing.  

Then, right in the middle of the song, Brayden breaks my heart.  He has been saying this phrase daily, for weeks now and every time he asks, my heart hurts.  I struggle with how to respond (seriously, I am open to suggestions on how to answer this question).  Brayden says,

"I want us to stay together."  

My usual response is, "We will all be together when I pick you up after work.  Then we will go home and see Jojo (I through Jojo the cat into anything and he is usually happy).  However, today he asked "Why can't we stay together?"  I said, "Mommy has to work.  I have to make money."  Then he asks, "What's money?"  I try a diversion of pointing out anything in the scenery - but, it didn't work.  "What's money?", he asks again.   "It's how we pay bills and buy groceries," I say.  "What's bills?" he asks.  Ugh. "Ummm, it is electricity and it's mommy's car...."  "What's electricity?"  oh my.  this is never going to end.   I am having flash backs from our trip home last night explaining fog.  I used words like precipitation and condensation - which is good, but I am not the best at explaining what those are....   Can I go home yet?  It isn't even 7:30 and my brain is fried.  At this point I turned up the 'clean-up' song and he was happy with that.  

"I want us to stay together" is a phrase that haunts me every morning.  I know that as soon has he wakes up this comment is going to come out of his mouth.  And, he gives me those sad brown eyes and it hurts, every day.  

Appropriately enough, I saw an article shared this morning about "What Not to Say to a Working Mom".  I laughed - but, it hurt too.  All of it being honestly true.  I work because I have too.  But, I also work because I like too.  I wish it meant that every minute we are together it is pure bliss, but it isn't.  There is a lot of yelling, sadly.  He is 3.  And I am tired.  But seriously, we are so happy.  Even with the chaos and negotiating bites of peas, we are happy.  Everyone has a different way of running their homes.  I believe it is hard to organize and balance everything that life throws our way but, we all do it.  Day in and day out - there may be the occasional yelling and tears but there is lots of laughter.  Lots of kissing and hugging.  And lots of "I love yous." At the end of the day, we are together - and that's what matters. 




Random-ness from the weekend

Everyday (ok, multiple times a day) I check the activity on my website.  I look to see how many unique viewers I have had, what they looked at, and how they navigated through my site.  I like to see how a person may have clicked from one thing to another.  It lets me follow them through what they read, how much, what tabs they clicked on, etc.  I do this almost obsessively.  I realized about 10 days ago that January had the potential to be a record breaking month for unique readers.  So, I made a goal that I would break my own record of 598 unique viewers from the month of November.   I had carefully planned out what I was going to blog about this week to ensure I got my numbers.   I was going to do a few sneak peaks of my potential wedding venue... but the appointment got cancelled due to weather.  AND, a peak at the store /  studio - but it wasn't done.   So today instead, I am sharing some pictures of Brayden.  Although my exciting plans for the weekend got cancelled,  I did get to spend extra time with this adorable little man.  So really, I think it worked out for the best!


Guess who is in the box?

...  Jojo, poor Jojo.  But, he loves her! 

...  And, she loves him.  

Today is like 60 degrees - yet, on Saturday we had snow...  But, it was nice enough to play outside.  Brayden loved it! 

Also, thanks to Pinterest and my post about chalk paint - I had traffic ALL weekend.  I broke my record without posting anything new!  665 and climbing.   Maybe I will aim to break the 700 mark!  

I have been painting for the past few weeks to get items into the store / studio!  I have 3 peices finished that I can't wait to share!  I had a good helper too! 

How was your weekend?  Any unplanned, fun activities that stumbled your way?  




my son-shine

Yesterday, Brayden and I (and of course Jojo) were getting ready to snuggle for a late afternoon nap.  He was winding down, not ready to close his eyes, and not realizing what I already knew, he was was ready for a nap.  He was in good spirits - and he probably could have gone without the nap, but I feared the monster that would appear in the early evening if he didn't get some rest.  So, we took our time snuggling and gigging.  

Brayden tells me at the most random moments, "I like you, Mommy!"  And, I am always a little taken back... "like?"  What's with that? Have I been demoted?"  Now I am use to it.   I just say "I like you too," or "well,... I LOVE you!"  Yesterday, after I replied with the "I love you" he said, "why?"  Again, taken back... and not knowing just what to say, or how to explain it, I fumbled and jumbled my words and came up with, "You are my son. You are my little boy.  You are my sunshine. I just do; that's why."  So, after we goofed for a little bit longer until he decided to finally close his eyes and his cute litle almost-a-snore crept in.  I laid there in the silence with my little boy wrapped in my arms and thought about it. I looked at him, still trying to answer the question that he has long forgotten he even asked. 



It isn't something I contemplate very often.  How do I explain love?   Especially to a 3 year old.  The love for him, or for John, or for our families.     I thought of all of the different adjectives that could be used to explain love.  Someday, this question will come up again, and I would like to be able to give an educated, sincere, thoughtful response.  

I laid there in silence, just watching him breathe.  I looked at his hands.  Those big hands.  They have been big since the day he was born - but, they are changing.  When they are chunky babies, they don't even appear to have knuckles - just dimples.  He still has those, but less apparent from when he was a baby.  He use to snuggle me and fit right into the crook of my arm.  Not anymore.  I use to tend to every whimper - Now, I wait until it sounds serious before I go running to check on him. He is growing.  Parenthood, love, gives us this incredible amount of satisfaction, yet longing to cling to moments that just wont stay just as they are.  Love pushes us, excitedly, to look forward to the someday, but at the very same time ache to hold the moment we are in.

 I decided:

1.  Love is a feeling.  Webster and Wikipedia can try to explain it all they want.  They could use all of the words in their dictionary and it wouldn't do it justice.  Love is felt.  Love is shown through commitment, honesty, dedication, respect, and sacrifice. 

2.  Brayden already knows.  That's why he tells me "Mommy, I like you" or "I just love you so much." 

We just feel it.  He to me, and me to him, and us to the world.  Love is felt. 



2013 quickly approaching

The past 5 years have represented many changes in my life.  And, as life should have it, I know 2013 will be filled with many more.  Some that we can plan for, and some that we can't.  But, I am really looking forward to 2013. 

Just over a year ago - I started this photography journey.  It has been a excellent way for me to develop a different side of myself.  And with that, I stumbled into this writing that is turned into my own type of therapy.  I love writing.  I love sharing the challenges of parenting and living, and rejoicing in all of the everyday blessings that are so powerful.  It is the little things that make life worth living - they are why we do what we do.  We love and connect with people - our friends, families, strangers.  We share joy and sorrow - we empathize, together.  That is what makes us human.  I want to celebrate more of those connections. 

photo credit Chris Bland

This year, in the quickly approaching 2013, my focus is connecting.  I love the connection I have found from the past that has come to bless me this year, and every upcoming year for the rest of my life.  This is developing through my engagement and wedding planning...  but most importantly, life planning.  In my personal life, I get to share wedding planning and many, many more stories of my baby boy that is quickly turning into a little man.  

I love the connections I have made with new families and clients and I look forward to the many more that I will meet and the continued experiences I will get to share with the clients that call me to capture their life.  For Life, Love & Lemons Photography, I will be opening a studio!  It isn't all mine - I am sharing it with a wonderful and ambitious young lady, Abby,  that I happened to connect with through taking her family pictures.  She is opening a baby boutique, Knee High to a Grasshopper - and I will be sharing some space with her.  I am really looking forward to the expansion of my business and the many, many new faces I will meet along the way.  Click on the logo to take you to her FB business page - like and share! ;)

I will be selling some of my painted furniture within her store as well.  I am SO excited to be able to dedicate some time to this side of my creativity.  I have 6 pieces I am working on now for the store...  a few for sale and a few for display. 


My website.  I was ready for a face lift - so, I made a few changes to bring in the new year.  My Gallery has finally been updated!  It is great to say that I have been so busy that my gallery was not reflecting my most recent work.  And, now it does.  I still have some updating to do - but, I have started and feel proud to display all of my beautiful clients.  Same layout, but different, yet kindof the same color scheme.   And, the linen vintage fabric look is a great representation of another new avenue I am working into.... 

Vintage Rentals.  I don't know what this scope is totally yet, but I have a lot of old stuff.  And, I have an addiction to keep buying so - I thought I might as well rent it out!  I will have different pieces that can be rented for events: Parties, Baby and Bridal Showers, Weddings, etc.  A big investment I have been making is in China :) I have almost 250 complete table settings available for rent.  This will include silverware and napkins, dinner plates and salad bowls, teacups and dessert plates.  It is my newest love and addiction.  I will be working to get my own rental gallery online for viewing and rental.  The hard part is the name...  I want it to be connected to my lemon theme but still have a name for itself...  So, I will be kicking that around.  

This busy wonderful life never ceases to amaze me.  It is full of new exciting experiences, the planned and unplanned!  The best part is - I know that wherever I (we, John, Brayden, and I) end up - we are exactly where we are suppose to be.  There is always a plan that is bigger than our own, and I know there are great things in-store for us in 2013. 

Bring on the new and meaningful connections of 2013! May you all have a happy and safe New Years Eve and New Years Day.  God bless! 




surviving Christmas

I survived Christmas.  

I more than survived - I made the most of my first Christmas without Brayden.   I enjoyed my first Christmas with John.  

We woke early on Christmas - but laid around in the quiet.  I was suddenly struck by horror - I had forgotten my camera at his Grandma's house...  oh no!  John being the wonderful man that he is, thought it was just important to have...  not just blurry camera phone pictures - so, he went and got it, for us.  I stayed in bed and sipped on my coffee.  

It was different then the past 3 years - but, it was very pleasant.  We made our own fun - silly. goofy. lazy. All before the running around began from one family to the next.  

Here is a a glimpse of us more than surviving Christmas, but loving it. 

John LOVES Kentucky Wildcats - I bought us tickets to go to a game - he bought me Kentucky shirts...  not sure if they are really for me...  or for him!  (My Mom is a Duke fan and is NOT happy about this)!

I love clothes - John loves sports.  Our gifts received from the other defiantly reflect this theme!


Our other little roommates enjoyed Christmas at home with us too! Jojo is just like a kid - she doesn't care about any real gifts - she is perfectly content with a box and tissue paper. 


Brayden's Dad sent me a lot of pictures.  Cookies for Santa.  Food for the reindeer.  Lots of gifts under the tree.  He was beyond excited.  Beyond happy.  And, although my heart literally aches - I smile with tears because I know he is having so much fun - and, he is so loved.  It doesn't always seem fair - but, he is happy and that is really all that matters. 

Here he is at the end of his Virginia Christmas....  clearly he had no fun at all! ; )

I am still counting down...  3 more days...   


I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful and safe holiday as well! 



invest in love and happiness

Everyone deserves a day or two to disappear.  A day or two to sulk.  A day or two to feel sorry for yourself.  Life isn't always easy and at times it is hard to hold everything together.  Life these days are busy and full - and that can be a great thing - but, sometimes it is overwhelming too.  So, we should allow ourselves a small breakdown, and not feel bad about it.  Then, we need to get back up, wipe away the tears, brush it off and charge on. 

Last night after work, I walked in the door, dropped my bags, grabbed the cat and went directly up to bed.  And there, I sat for 3 hours.  Doing nothing.  I had no more tears.  I stared blankly at the TV and watched useless, yet very interesting shows.  I like the history channel - I  learned about JFK, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, and the Berlin Wall.  Many details that I embarrassingly enough to admit, knew very little about.  I learned about JFK's contributions to our country and the world.  I listened about the Bermuda Triangle and the theories of it's destruction.  I watched a current day mummification - I thought that was cool (I am a science geek too).  

The world continues to spin even through my breakdowns.  So, at 9 o'clock I decided to shower and let it all go.  And I did.  Today is new.  

Us on Wednesday - home sickI reflect on my mood and behavior yesterday and I fight with the anger the wells up.   Having a split family is really hard.  It is harder then I could have ever imagined.  It is hard on both parents, from different angles - for different reasons.  None of which I am going to go into details on here - if you live it, you already know - and if you don't, you are lucky.  But, don't think I down play the efforts it takes to run a family unit, together.  It is really hard.  I commend all families of all types that do the day in and day out.  



It is the every day things that we don't see.  We loose touch with the significance and the beauty that is in a sleeping child, the laughter and love they show in the smallest way, and how quickly they learn and grow.  Someday, they will be us.  Us.  Our actions.  Our words.  Our outlook.  I pray that Brayden is different than me.  I pray that he is better than me.  I hope he exudes patience and optimism.  I hope he gives his time and talent and never expects anything in return.  But, in many ways, I pray he is just like me.  I pray he finds a passion and follows it.  I pray that he waits to find a perfect love.  A love that is built on friendship and mutual respect.  I hope he has determination in life and pushes to succeed, especially through the failures.  Through the failing, you learn far more lessons then succeeding. Failing keeps you pushing.  Keeps you driving.  Keeps the hunger for success alive.  If you always succeeded, what would you have left to do?  I hope he invests in love and happiness.  For him to do these things, I have to be the example.  I have to invest in love and happiness.  We all should. 



I haven't written much about my ongoing relationship with God and Church.  But, I am doing it - not perfect - but, I am better then I was a year ago.  I assume a year from now, I will be better then I am now.  A sermon the other Sunday still rings in my ears.  Treat everyone as you  want to be treated.  Invest in loving and respecting others, and they too will invest in loving and respecting others.  I am a work in progress.  I was very rude to a customer service person the other day - it wasn't his fault my order was wrong.  I have no excuse for being rude or impatient.  I don't want Brayden to pick those traits up from me.  I need to be better - little eyes are watching.  He is always watching and learning from me.  And, others do the same.  Love, Respect, Happiness resounds with everyone - doing onto them, will do onto others.  

So, as the new year approaches, I will begin my list.  It's a great time to reflect on the person I want to be and the example Brayden deserves.  Investing in love and happiness for him, for me, for everyone. 



they come and they go

Since I have moved back to Illinois, I have had to face a few obstacles, challenges, and changes.  Well, not just 'I', but 'we'.  Brayden and I have done this together.  Outside of the everyday hustle and bustle I am typically a pretty optimistic person.  However, I have been struggling more recently.  Maybe it is just the holiday slump, or maybe it is just part of the peaks and valleys we go through in life.  

Last Saturday I had a little break down.  I had a self pity party that lasted the entire day.  I have a problem letting things in my life overcome my mood.  I don't think I could count the number of times I have spoiled joy for myself because I was too busy dreading something else that is out of my hands. Too many, I guarantee. 

I always turn to my Mom.  I find that to be a reoccuring theme in my life.  My Mom always makes me feel better.  She can't fix it (even though I am sure inside she wishes she could).  I vent.  I complain.  I let it all out in one very long winded rant.  I whisper so others in the house won't hear that I am falling apart.  Mom just listens.  She always just listens.  And then, in the moment when I stop to catch my breath, she looks at me to be sure I am done, then she says, "This is just life, Megan.  Being mad is habit.  You have to just decide to let go and be happy."

I knew she was right.  And throughout the rest of the day, I fluctuated between happy and mad.  Happy when things were going right...  and then when the littlest thing would happen, a tantrum from Brayden or misdirections to our destination would put me right back. On top of it, I would get mad at myself for ruining a perfectly beautiful day.  You see,  Brayden will be leaving me again in a few short weeks.  He is spending Christmas in Virginia. Ten days. 10 long days.  I am struggling.  I keep trying to just tell myself that it is just another day.  We can recreate it when he gets home.  And, we will.  But, I know the struggle that is approaching - or possibly the one that is already here.  It is the everyday that I have difficulty getting through when Brayden is gone.  I just got him back.  I will only have 2 weekends with him and he will leave again.  Then add Christmas to it...  ugh.   I lost Saturday for no reason at all, except I was already letting myself be miserable - and he hasn't even left me yet. I won't ever get that Saturday back.  

I know the hard times - they come and they go.  I am more familiar with the pattern then I care to be.  But, that is life.  I continue to reflect on all that we have been through in these few short years.  I stay stuck in the tough times instead of rejoicing in the everyday that is perfectly normal. Perfectly wonderful.  It is a pattern of behavior;  Always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I need to stop that.  I need to stop expecting people to let me down, waiting for them to prove me right.  That's what I have learned.  People will let me down.  Those people, they will come and they will go.  The good ones stay.  They support me.  They encourage me.  Even if they sometimes disagree with me - we have an appreciation for each other's point of view, no matter how different.  I have a few select friends that hold this definition and of course my family, and John.  Brayden and I have been and will always be that to each other, just like my mom is to me. 

Sunday morning came - sun shining.  I took Mom's advise.  I wanted our day together to be as beautiful as it was outside.  Sunny and warm - completely beautiful.  So we did - and it was just that beautiful.  

We visited Santa at Pete's Train during the Holiday of Lights.  We went to the Indian Creek Christmas Tree Farm to cut down our tree.  It was 60 and sunny!  This is my kind of winter!  We went home and got to work on decorating.  We even squeezed in some family portrait time :) I can't wait to share them!  

From Sunday came Monday - and I was off work! :)  Brayden and I had a wonderful day.  Nothing special but just time together was really nice.  

The tough times, they will come and they will go.  The good ones, they last forever.  Here is a glimpse of some the lasting ones :)

Pete's Train and Meeting Santa:

Cutting down the Christmas Tree:

In search of the perfect tree  :)

Found it! 

Sneak Peak of family pictures! (I may be biased, but seriously...  could he be any cuter?)

So much to be happy for :)






on the hard days

I feel like a broken record.  I am so busy.  I am always saying , "just one second...." , "be there in a minute, I just need to do this really quick", "Hurry.  We are running late."  

All of the mom sayings could go on and on.  They seem as never ending as my guilt.  

How do I do it all?  Why isn't there more time?   Where can I find more patience?  Why does it seem like just when I can't add anything else or deal with one more thing to go wrong, in fact one more thing happens and another thing goes wrong.  Somedays, I feel like I am fraying at the ends, all of them.   Somedays are just hard.   Today is one of those days.  

My list of things to do grows longer and longer, and my time to do it gets shorter and shorter.  I cross one item off and add three more.  

I cried on my way to work today.  Not because of the lack of sleep contributed by my worrying mind or the  adorable little boy that doesn't want to eat his breakfast or put on pants, he never wants to wear pants.  Or because of the lost favorite dinosaur that we can't leave the house without.  But, the discussion in the car ride about the sun.  I wanted to pull over.  I wanted to just be late.  I wanted to just hold Brayden and cry it out because that's what makes things feel better.  

I pointed the rising sun out to Brayden.  I said, "see the big orange ball?  That's the sun.  It is rising for the day.  It will go way up high into the clouds. "  Brayden said, "I don't like the clouds."  I assume because we say that is where the sun is hiding when it is raining, and why we can't see the moon and stars sometimes at night.  That's what I think, anyway.  But, then I added, "the sun is hot."  "Like fire?" he asked.   "Yes, Brayden - just like fire."  Brayden looks at the sun, then back at me as I glance over my shoulder, "there are dragons on there breathing fire.  That's why it's hot."

I love his little mind.  I love how the world appears to him.  I want more days of dragons on the sun.  I want to slow down.  I want to spend more time before those days are gone.  So, I cried.  Because, on the hard days, it's all I can do. 



Birthday of a Champion {belated birthday post}

This post is a few days late.  The past couple months have been so busy it is hard to get my personal blogs up. 

Picture taken by Aunt JenSo, to Drew - I am sorry your post is over due.  But, I want to take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday, to You! (that is as good as my rhyming gets)

Drew is my nephew.  He came into our lives as just a little guy, who at a very young age had already overcome many obstacles.   I remember celebrating his first birthday.  I have a picture of the two of us.  It is from back in the day when pictures weren't really digital.  They were printed and filed for later viewing...  if you can find them.  Well, I would love to have had that picture to put on here, but I can't find it.  I can still see it in my head.  Drew is in a cute red sweater, and I am in blue.  I am tickling him to try to get him to smile for the camera.  And, it worked. All these years later - that smile hasn't changed.  It is big and beautiful.  He has that same sparkle of wonderment and curiosity in his eye.  Drew is lovable.  And for those that meet him, love him.  

picture taken by Aunt Jen - Riding his horse at Blazing saddlesBirthdays mark a milestone for everyone.  To each person, it holds different significance.  For Drew, it is just another day, like most kids.  On his birthday he gets the cake, presents, and people to celebrate with. Drew doesn't realize the challenges he has overcome because it is just how his life has been.   But, for those that have conquered the years past with him, his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and advocates - Drew's Birthday is special.  It represents many, many victories.  It is the birthday of a champion.


Picture by his Mom - 2nd place at fair for his horse paintingNext year, we will all reminisce about the past year and how far he has come - and each year after that, we will do the same.  Drew continues to amaze us all, and will with each birthday. 


Happy Birthday Drew!
We love you and are so proud of you!


The whole family - picture by Chris Bland



Far from, but not yet

I was told the other day by a good friend, whom I respect very much, "You are not getting any younger.  You need to decide what you are going to do with the rest of your life."

At first it bothered me, for two very obvious reasons:

1) Am I old?  - I didn't realize!  

2) Am I not fulfilling my life?  What is wrong with where I am at?

After pondering this statement for a while, I came to some very important conclusions.  First, I let what other people say and think get to me WAY to much.  And, I know my dear friend had the best intentions, and he was trying to inspire and motivate me, but  I am perfectly content right where I am.  For now.

I am a list maker.  I have lists and sticky notes, every where.  I have so many 'chores' to keep organized, not to mention just the ideas and dreams that rush through my head on a per minute basis.  I make these lists to keep me organized, to keep me focused.  I budget and plan out my tasks for the week.  And, If I accomplish half of what is on my list - and stay relatively close to my monthly budget, I am doing ok.

I have been applying that same principal to my life.  I use to plan, plan, plan exactly how my life was going to come together.  Instead, I watched my life unfold and fall apart.  I would pick it up and do it again, and the same life unraveling would happen.  As all of us have experienced, life happens.  More often then not, it doesn't go 'as planned'.  It is how we react and respond to those life happenings that actually change the outcome of our life.  It may not change what actually happens, but it impacts our perspective - and it impacts the lives of those who surround us.  So, I make mental notes of all of the things I want to do in my life; be it going back to school, a different career choice, places to travel, how many children I want to have, to crafts and food I want make.  If I can accomplish even half (maybe a quarter) of my long list, then I know I am doing ok.  

I can say, most often with a smile, This was not the plan :) My life, as I see it, is so much better then I could have ever listed out.  My life is unfolding as it should be.  And there are days when it seems to be far from perfect - when in actuality, every day that we are living is perfect.  Through cars that won't start, alarm clocks that got ignored, trains when we are already late, sick kids, grocery store tantrums, and bottomless piles of dirty clothes.  That is how I know what I have is perfect.  I know because running late means I have some where to be.  I am needed.  I have a turning 3 to quickly, healthy little man. I stress out about the occasional fever and ingrown toe nail - how lucky am I?  I am healthy.  I can walk, I can run, I can breath, I can see and I can hear.  I can experience life.  The good and the trying.  I get to live it.  I get to be present in it.  

"Far from what I once was, but not yet what I am going to be"

So, the statement / question that my friend posed doesn't bother me any more.  I know where I am supposed to be.  It is right where I am.  I know the direction I am headed, I walk it one step at a time.  The destination isn't determined because I may detour and end up somewhere perfectly unplanned, which to date is exactly how it has worked so far.  I am doing my best to live in the present and look forward to the future.  I know that whatever life gives me - We will make it the absolute best, because we decided to do so.