Friday, October 11, 2013

Finding the Beautiful

There's something about me that's usually a good thing.
Occasionally a very frustrating thing, especially when I'm around people who just want to vent to me.
I find the good in it.
I find something good about every person or situation.
Seriously. Sometimes people just want to tell me what's wrong without my finding something good about it.
I think it's probably why God taught me to be thankful last year.

I realized something this morning. Or, rather, fit it all together.
I do the same thing with my photography.

I take in a scene that might not be very attractive, and find something beautiful about it and capture that.
and you know what? People are much more receptive to that than they are to my butting in and saying, "ooh, you know what I think?" when they're complaining.
So I think I'll learn to let my camera do the talking.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I can't help it.

Sometimes I just have to post here. I can't pretend otherwise.
But I'm going to allow myself to be as inconsistent as I want and need to be.

It may be more random topics, too. I'll write about whatever I've been processing, or find amusing, or whatever. I'm not writing it for anyone specific; just writing.

So today: My Kids.

Here's a collection of things my kids have said over the last week, plus pictures from a photo shoot we did last week!

'"Mommy, can you make this into a weal light sabeh, but not Weally?"

Hudson: "Mommy, this page needs you. There's some weading on it."

Hudson: "Mommy, pick a number between 1 and 66."
Me: "30."
Hudson: "My number was 71. I win!"

Part II:
H: "Pick a numbah between 76 and...76."
B: "76."
H: "76. I won too."

Part III:
"Pick a number between 66 and...67."
Me: "Jasmine, that's not how you spell 'foam.'"
Hudson: "it needs a postwophe!"

Jasmine: "I would like to grab my sweater, in case they *refrigerate* the store."
Jasmine's grammar sentence:
I might see a ______________________ at the zoo.
Her answer: palm tree

Hudson: "Mommy, you can fight the bad guys with this" (plastic sword)
Me: "I don't know any real bad guys!"
Hudson: "Yes you do! I had a dweam..."
Jasmine: "it's me...Bek--Jasmine, I mean."
I no longer feel bad about getting my kids' names mixed up. She doesn't even know her own name!!

Jasmine, during the France show: "finally Paris. It's kind of like the best place in the world. Kind of."
(Asked her what was the actual best: America)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


I'm in the middle of a fantastic book, "Start: Punch Fear in the Face and do work that matters." I've read everything he's published (I would say "everything he's written, but I'm as bad about reading blogs as I am about updating mine.that's foreshadowing right there.).
His last book, Quitter, inspired me to start focusing my energy with more purpose on the things I wanted to see thrive (i.e. photography) and less time on things I enjoyed but would distract (like when I was invited to join the local fire station's drum-and-bugle corps.) I almost didn't read it, since I'm not in a position to quit what I'm doing full-time right now, and it's another 14-ish years before that job will be finished. I'm glad I did, though, because I realized it's not actually about quitting. It's actually about NOT quitting your day job before it's time to do so. It's about honing your skill in your spare time without letting go of your former obligations.
So this one picks up where that one left off, and I'm excited to see where I want to aim with even more focus. I want to push my photography and actions-making to the next level, continuing to improve my ability and output and see where it leads.
I've been realizing that to do that means I need to be more aware of how I spend my time. So I'm starting to spend less time playing games on my iPod. More time just getting in and doing the housework, and less time planning it out. And letting go of things that I do out of duty but really don't need to be done.
Like this blog.
Unlike my fabulous friend Karen, who writes often and so well, I've never been a consistent writer. I've never really enjoyed writing. It's always something I feel like I *should* do, not something I *want* to do.
I know I have a couple people who depend on this blog to see pictures of the kids, since they refuse to join Facebook. I will start emailing them the pictures as I post them on Facebook, though if they wanted to just join already I wouldn't mind ;) They don't have to post. Just read. That's fine with me!
So without further ado, I bid this blog adieu!
(that was just too fun a play on words not to use)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

Last weekend, we headed to Anna Maria Island to spend Memorial Day with most of Josh's extended family. It was a wonderful weekend. I hadn't seen most of them since Jasmine was a baby or even longer!

There were 4 kids close to the age of 4, plus Bekah and Jasmine. The girls all thought Jasmine was the best ever! Hudson was the only boy, but he's very comfortable playing with girls. He probably preferred it!

We watched the sunset two nights, since we were one block from the beach. It was so perfect!

(I'm printing this one HUGE for the wall!)

Saturday morning we took a sightseeing cruise that included time to get out on a sandbar to snorkel/look for sand dollars. Jasmine found a sand dollar, and the boat driver found this guy!
(I think it's hilarious that Bekah was willing to hold him, but Bekah would barely pet his back!)

We spent Sunday with dear friends. We usually see them in Orlando, so it was awesome that we could see them in their neck of the woods this time!
The kids get along perfectly. The moms are total kindred spirits, and the guys are two peas in a pod. Too bad we live 2 hours away, or we'd be inseparable!

And we spent a lot of time in the pool. Well, by "we" I mean the 4 of them. I did actually bring my suit, but I stayed out of the water. I'm starting to suspect I'm part-cat.

Jasmine, on the other hand, is part dolphin. She spends more time swimming underwater than she does on the surface. Incredible.
Came across this intersection on the way to our friends' church on Sunday. I'm printing this for his wall!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

101 in 1001, completed
It's been almost 3 years since I wrote up that list. (how is that even possible?!)
How did I do?

70: completely done
24: not done at all
7: done in part

Not too shabby! I've actually started up yet a new list, but I'm thinking it will be a couple months before I finish creating it ;)

A couple pictures of life:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mud Run

Josh's sister Charity is in town for the week, which has been wonderful. The kids are loving getting time with their Auntie Chairty!!
One of the things we planned for her trip was a Mud Run, the FL ROC. (Florida Run Obstacle Challenge). She doesn't like to get dirty, so you know just how much she loves her brother that she'd do it with him!
(not only do I not like getting dirty, I don't like the thought of the obstacles! I do still want to get back into running, yet again, and try a 5K. That's about as daring as I get ;) )

They had a fantastic time. It was 86 and humid, with the first mile being solid (?) mud to trudge/climb through.
We didn't get to see them until the last little bit, when they ran, swam, climbed three things, and went under a net. We were very impressed!
Two obstacles couldn't be done because there was a 2-foot aligator in that pond. They said it was small enough that it wouldn't have hurt anyone ("100 people running towards it and it's not going to attack") but knowing that where there's a baby means there's a mama not too far away...yeah. It was good that they didn't do that part of the challenge! Josh is rather attached to his legs.
They ran 4 miles and completed 30 obstacles in 1:28. The fastest person was 36 minutes, and most people did it in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Josh just found the rankings!!
They finished 574th and 575th out of 2000+ participants! Josh was about halfway through his age bracket for guys, and Charity was in the top 1/3 of hers!!
Congratulations, Josh and Charity!!

Thursday, May 09, 2013


Our family loves Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom.
It's pretty silly and very dated, but we love it. 

I'm never going to have my wrapped presents pictured on Pinterest.
I'm okay with that. I get it done in about 1/3 of the time of Josh (because his actually look nice!).

Sometimes I wish I were still 7. (yes, she's jumping over the cone!)
But then I couldn't be her mommy, and that would be a tragedy.

I get as excited about going to Disney as my kids do.
Maybe more.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Designing Anniversary!

I've now been a designer at TDC for a year!! It's my first anniversary, and that's really awesome!!
I'm in a fun "parade" with a ton of other designers. For the month, you can go around and collect little pieces of a really awesome (and huge) scrapbooking kit. Most of the links are on Facebook Fan Pages (so just like the page to get to the link), but a few are on blogs.
Here's my piece!
If you've never used actions, it's like a little program that Photoshop and Elements can read to change the look of a photo. This one softens the photos and makes them a little more dated-looking.
Click on the photo to go to my Facebook Fan Page and get to the download link!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Things

This week we started school up again.
Jasmine's a third grader, Bekah's in first, and Hudson's technically pre-kindergarten.
People always ask about teaching preschoolers. Though this picture makes it look like we're all official and stuff, we're not. Not at all.
To me, being 3 or 4 is all about learning about life. He's learning grammar and pronunciation (he's got it mastered except for those pesky /r/s). He's learning his letters and counting, shapes and colors and rules of the house. He's learning about chores and playing fair. He's learning to sit still while we read the Bible. He's drawing really cute pictures of people. He's coloring better every time he picks up a crayon (something he's practicing on doors and couches).

We're starting to work on reading, but it's very slow. He's interested, but doesn't want it badly enough to sit still for a lesson. It bothers him that he's not mastering it already, so we go a couple weeks between lessons most of the time. And that's fine! He just turned 4!

He's learning that if you ask Jasmine what 10 plus 4 is, she'll give you an answer that's another number.

And that the abacus is involved in that:

Jasmine, on the other hand, is in very formal school these days. She's got  the same spelling and math books as last year, but we're adding in new grammar books (Easy Grammar and their Daily Grams) and new history for the year (Story of the World, vol. 1). A month ago we heard about Reflex Math and I'm sold!! She's mastered 60% of her addition facts in the past month. 
We're starting to learn Spanish as a family (though I think the system we got will work best for Josh and I and I need to find something a little more gradual for the kids).

My spunky little First Grader is continuing to do work above her level, though she's slowing down a bit to being where she belongs. She's nearly halfway done with her first grade math, starting second grade spelling, and I have to get her the second grade phonics book.
It's a little tough for her to get used to the idea that school is less voluntary now, but she's getting there!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jedi Training

Yesterday, we left the house nice and early (actually, I'm not sure I'd call it "nice") so we could get the kids signed up for Jedi Training at Disney Hollywood Studios.
They saw it last year and they all wanted to do it, but it's for ages 4-12, and there was no way Hudson would have let the girls do it while he sat and watched.
So between that and the fact that you have to get there when (or before) the park opens to get them signed up, we waited for Hudson's birthday to do it.
Which was, of course, yesterday!

Jasmine said afterwards that she was nervous. Bekah was completely confident, and Hudson was adorable and did a great job. (Jasmine did too, despite being nervous)

Monday, April 08, 2013

Sporadic Posting

I am such an inconsistent blogger.
But it's okay. I'm consistent in my inconsistency.
I'm also very inconsistent in how quickly I respond to emails.

Anyhow, rather than get frustrated with myself, I'll just do it when I feel like it!

For my birthday, I went to Gatorland with my friend Stacey.

Now, before you get all angry with me for going without my kids, lemme 'splain.
Gatorland has a Photographer's Pass. They let you in 2 hours before the park opens, so you can take pictures of the birds and the gators without the crowds. I knew the kids wouldn't do so well for a full 2 hours, and we only have one car, so Josh and the kids couldn't have just joined me later. So this was my opportunity to go enjoy the photo ops. We'll go as a family at some point down the line, but not to the early-morning part. (it was great, but I don't know if I'd want to do it again. I think I got enough pictures the first time!)
Here are most of my favorite pictures (I realized after I exported this that I missed one, but oh well):

 And the gators:

It was really, really fun. It was sprinkling in the morning but stopped when we got there, and the sun actually peeked out for a few minutes.

Then yesterday (Sunday), we went to the East Coast for the afternoon. We found a relatively quiet park and spent a few hours there. The kids chased (and then ran away from) waves, I took pictures, and we all got very, very sandy.

Have I said lately how much I love living here?? 
Probably not. I've tried not to make people sad, but I really am so happy and thankful to be here. I love the sunshine, the weather, the attitudes here (people are just happier, and it means they're also friendlier), the proximity to awesome places, the easier homeschooling laws, the utter lack of snow...

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


Everyone talks about having “wilderness experiences,” when life feels directionless and slow.
I’ve had two of them.
The first was after an awesome two years living in Istanbul. I didn’t want to come back to America but knew my time overseas was up. I fought it. I complained. I was miserable.
And I was directionless.
When I was 12, I knew that I wanted to be a wife and mother, but I got to 24, and then 25, and 26, and still didn’t have a love interest.
Teaching jobs I tried for dried up.
I worked a couple part-time jobs while living with my family. And not necessarily being the most helpful member of the family.
Miserable. Frustrated. I didn’t know why God would put something in my heart and not give it to me.

What I didn’t realize then was that the Israelites were given 40 years in the wilderness because they complained instead of trusting God. What was supposed to be a short trek across the desert turned into 40 years of not having a home. Of only eating manna. Of moving when the cloud moved, and stopping when the cloud stopped. They were required to learn to trust God.
They did learn it. (though of course they forgot it as soon as they got to their Promised Land, but that’s where I’m choosing not to let the analogy continue in my life!)

Right after my 26th birthday, God brought me out of the wilderness and brought me to Josh. The wilderness time was over.
Until 6 or so years later, when I started getting the itch to move to Florida. I knew the whole family was headed there eventually, but they seemed to be dragging their feet.
And the exact same feelings started up again.
Frustrated. Miserable.
I wanted to move, and NOW. But I couldn’t do it on my own, and no one else had the same motivation to just go!
This time, though, the Lord brought someone into my life. As we started talking about our struggles with living in Buffalo and not where we thought we were supposed to be going, He worked in both of our hearts.
I fought it at first, just like I’d fought it at 24, but gradually I started realizing I needed to learn something and not just fight it.
I started to focus on being thankful. I started taking things that normally frustrated me (like snow) and finding something I really, truly appreciated about it. (like the fact that the snow allowed the apples to grow!)
It took a long time, but I started sensing a different attitude. I really wasn’t miserable anymore. I found myself worshiping instead of griping.
Then the big day came: putting the house on the market! We were free!
…until it didn’t sell that summer. Or in the fall. Winter came. The winter I didn’t think I was going to be in Buffalo to experience.
It was hard to keep my eyes on what God had been teaching. Oh, so very hard. Reading the listings and watching houses come and go from the market, seeing Josh’s parents close on their house down here, packing up our warm-weather clothes in exchange for dreaded hats and mittens.
It felt like my final exam. Did I really learn how to trust? Did I really learn how to be thankful in all things?
I chose to be thankful. I chose to trust. I didn’t understand why it was taking so long, but I chose to believe.
And 5 ½ months after putting a sign in our front yard, we finally got a real offer.

When we first moved down, I worried that I was only thankful because we were here. But I know I really did learn how to be thankful. I really did learn how to trust. And if another test comes along, I know that I now have the tools to keep my mind on Jesus instead of on my situation.
It doesn’t mean I want another test. Or that the next big thing to come my way won’t be completely different. But I learned and won’t have to struggle the same way through this particular test next time!

Friday, March 29, 2013


When Jasmine was 4, shortly after a haircut, when she looked something like this:

...she saw a woman with beautiful hair down to her waist.
And she told me she wanted to grow her hair that long.

I said that would be great, but figured she'd fizzle out after a few months. After all, she was my mini-me, and I couldn't grow my hair out.

Boy, was I wrong!
Unfortunately, her being 7 and the child she is (and having the mother she has), it didn't get brushed or washed as frequently as long hair would prefer. So I started putting the idea in her head that maybe she could think about cutting it. I didn't tell her it had to go short, though I did mention she'd have fewer snarls if it was shorter. And I told her about Locks of Love.

She decided she wanted it cut for her birthday. (May 10th).
But this morning, since Josh and Hudson were getting haircuts anyhow, she decided she could go along and get her hair cut too!

We'll send in her donation on Monday. She's very happy to be sending it in. Can't you just tell by her picture? (moral of the story: don't take pictures when they're watching Star Wars)

I'm very proud of her, and I love the way her hair looks.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How to know if you have a Jasmine in your house

Do you suspect you have a Jasmine living in your house?

What follows is a simple diagnostic test to find out for sure.

1. Do you hear words like regleear, name-bee, and renember?

2. Do you hear phrases like "as clean as a feather," "as happy as a bird chirping," and "as sad as an ant doing none of its work"?

3. Does the person in question skip everywhere she goes?

4. And sing in the bathroom?
5. Is every outfit change a character change?

If you answered "yes" to all these questions, you, too, might have a Jasmine living in your house!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jasmine's Fish Sandwiches

Jasmine got a book for Christmas, "101 things to do before you turn 12."
In it, they suggested making up your own recipe. So Jasmine jumped on that one.

1. I didn't make my own bread this time. We just used some Publix Multi-Grain.

2. Her fafrit fish is haddock. I sprinkled on some Garlic Garlic I just got from Tastefully Simple.

3. I threw it in the oven
(Hudson immediately says, "thwew it in the oven??" No, Hudson, not actually threw. I placed it gently.)

I cut it in half lengthwise, because these were thick but short fillets. I had to get it to fill 5 sandwiches.

4. I shredded up some cheddar cheese ("string cheese" means any cheese that gets stringy when melted) and had Jasmine help me butter the bread.

4b. I then grilled the sandwiches until they were perfect.

5. And THEN it was finisht.

I thought it was really good. Next time I'll use a milder cheddar, so it doesn't overpower the fish, but it was really yummy!