Recent November Happenings

11.25.2014
I'm sorry for the radio silence on this little blog; it feels a bit strange!  But rest assured everything is hunky-dory here.  With the Holidays drawing near, life is just moving along at terrific speed.  Plus, I'm up to my eyeballs with pictures to edit.  I feel guilty taking the time to blog when I have several paid sessions that need my attention.  My little photography business has really taken flight this year.  It's exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  Thankfully, the "busy season" is coming to a close.  I'm looking forward to working on some personal photography projects and blogging a bit more.  On the bright side, with all the extra income, Christmas is really going to rock this year!

So let me fill you in on a few recent happenings...


1.  Don't let this adorable little face fool you, Levi is like living with Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde!  Yes, the terrible two's have come barreling in like a freight train.  Levi is normally a sweet and silly kid, but boy does he have a temper.  Like a light switch, Levi's happy demeanor can turn into an hysterical screaming fit if something doesn't go his way.  He's also been pushing all the limits, like coming out of his room over and over again at bedtime.  "Go to bed, Levi,"  I say sternly.  "Mom, I want to give you a kiss," he responds sweetly.  He then plants a giant wet one on my cheek.  How can I possibly discipline that?!  (A.K.A.  How I've been manipulated by my son for the 1000th time and I don't even care.)  

Fortunately, despite Levi being very different from Jed, this terrible two phase seems to be easier the second time around.  Perhaps it's because I'm used to the noise and misbehavior?  Or perhaps I've learned a thing or two as a parent?  Either way, my stress level isn't nearly as high.


2.  After 20 weeks, (yes, it had really been that long!) I finally got my hair cut and colored and my eyebrows tamed, er I mean, shaped.  I didn't realize what a little self-love meant for my self-esteem!  I feel like a whole new woman and am loving it all.

Levi also got his very first professional hair-cut.  Bron has cut it at home three or four times, but the curls are getting too difficult to deal with.  He needs a pro.  Luckily, Levi was all smiles at the salon and still talks about the sucker he received afterwards.

On a related note, Levi has gotten into the habit of shopping with me alone.  We went grocery shopping and got his hair cut all while Jed was at preschool last week.  So after we dropped Jed off at the bus stop yesterday, he said he wanted to go to the store.  Okay!  Spoiled kid.  I love having a little extra one-on-one time with him.

  
3.  We set up our Christmas tree.  I blame the snowstorm.  Cheers to being the first folks on the block with their Christmas tree up!  I just couldn't wait.  I had my brand new nine foot tree sitting in a box in the garage and all its new ornaments I'd bought on sale the year before sitting in the attic practically begging to be put up.  My tree is a Christmas dream come true!  I love that it's up early this year.


4.  Since I haven't said much about Jed, well, he's an awesome four year old.  I love him to pieces!  He's obsessed with coloring and coloring books, often falls asleep on the bus ride home, and likes the crunch of brown leaves, ice, and snow beneath his feet... just like his mama. 

5.  Bron and I left our boys with a sitter and drove all the way to Pocatello on Saturday night to meet up with his life-long friends, Tyson, Travis, and Sam.  I met them when Bron and I started dating in college, waaay back in 2005.  Then Travis started dating Kim and the six of us frequented Texas Roadhouse on the weekends--for years--all the way up till 2009 when Bron and I left for New York.  Somewhere in there Tyson married Stef and it's been a party ever since.  So meeting for a much needed date night at Texas Roadhouse was just the ticket.  It felt so so good to catch up with everyone in person, Sam's beard and all!

On the way home, Bron mentioned that the paring knives always have spots and it bothers him!  I just laughed because there is no way I am scrubbing those by hand after every single use.  That naturally led into why our glasses our foggy.  Note to self: never ever buy Oxi Clean for the dishwasher ever again; it simply doesn't work.  Lemi Shine is the magic worker.  So we stopped off at WalMart in Burley for a family size bag of Lemi Shine.  And then we browsed the toy section.  It made me so incredibly excited for Christmas! 

In other words, it was a really great date night with my main squeeze!  I sure love Bron and am grateful for our sweet, fun, and rewarding marriage.


6.  All three of my boys had a blast at Jump Time last night with friends.  Happy Birthday, Owyn!  I, on the other hand, stayed home with a stomach bug.  Boo.  I think it was food poisoning.  Geez, that was violent.  My sweet man has been taking good care of me, doing his job as well as mine.  What would I do without Bron?  Thankfully, I'm feeling much better tonight--just in time for some Thanksgiving pie making.  I'm excited.

I hope you have a wonderful and  
Happy Thanksgiving!!!      

The Weekend We Repelled 90 Feet Into A Giant Hole in the Ground

11.20.2014

I need to begin by saying that Bron and I have been blessed with some really awesome friends.  They're the super awesome fun kind of friends that would give us the shirt off their backs if we we needed it.  And while we're each very different, we all share a love for the outdoors and a little adventure!

So for Aaron's birthday, the Horsely's invited us down to his hometown of Lund, Nevada to celebrate by exploring a humungous hole in the ground known as Whipple's Cave.  With our combined nine children in tow, we braved a snowstorm Friday night.  Thankfully, we all made it without incident.  The weather further south was crisp and clear Saturday morning.  We left the kids with Aaron's sisters for the afternoon and began our epic adventure!

It started with a 90 foot repel down into the earth.  I haven't had much experience with rock climbing/repelling; I was a bit nervous.  Okay, I let out a giant scream right before I went over the edge!  But I did it.  And it was a rush!  Then we all donned our helmets and headlamps and followed our fearless leader into the pitch black darkness.

The cavern was enormous!  The ceiling was easily forty feet high and the room just as wide.  All sorts of shapes and sizes of stalactites and stalagmites hung from the ceilings and grew from the floor; some acted like giant pillars holding up the room.  Tapping the edges lightly made a musical noise, like a xylophone.  So. Dang. Cool.

We crawled through a small opening where I had to be helped over a thirty foot deep crevice on the other side.  The hole opened up into yet another giant cavern with small water pools.  It was so uniquely pretty.  Yes, it was very dirty.  And we saw plenty of bats taking their afternoon naps.  But it was sooo much fun exploring!

And then... we had to get ourselves out.  We used ascenders to hoist ourselves back up the repel rope.  Talk about a workout!

I am so glad we braved the snowstorm and spent the weekend gallivanting through a cave with friends.  (Because honestly, what else could we have done that would've been cooler?)  There was even peach cobbler and chocolate cake!  Thanks for having a birthday, Aaron, and thanks for inviting us down to Nevada to share in a little piece of adventure from your hometown.  We'll never forget it.

And now, the pictures!  These are a combo of theirs and ours: phone, my old rebel, and point and shoot.  They don't do the trip justice, but at least you can get an idea and they help preserve our memory.

  ^^Where we parked the truck, up in the hills somewhere.^^
 ^^Amy peeking over the edge of the giant hole in the ground.^^
 ^^Repelling in.  Do I look nervous?  Because my heart was thumping pretty fast up there.^^
 ^^Entering into the dark abyss^^
 ^^The stalagmite on the right looked like it was covered in green snot.  Eeew!^^
^^We were convinced that the octopus looking thing was alive... until Bron poked it with a pocket knife.  It wasn't.  Haha.^^
^^Incredibly shaped cave formations.  We tried not to touch.^^
^^I spy a sleepy bat^^
^^Hey!  We found Golem from Lord of the Rings hiding down there!^^
^^The steep ascent back up out of the cave.^^

The triumphant couples:
 ^^Nick and Amy^^
 ^^Aaron and Amy^^
^^Bron and me^^

I hope there's a next time, Nevada!

Monthly Photography Challenge: Night Shots

11.15.2014
There's even more fun, inspiration, and interpretation for this month's theme as I have teamed up with four other professional photographers who all just happen to be moms too: Alea, Lauren, Miriam, and Rachel.  I'm really excited about what these monthly challenges have suddenly turned into!  I'm not sure how long this will continue, but I'm enjoying the extra challenge of trying something new and the opportunity to get my creative juices flowing.  In fact, since attempting this month's theme, I have at least five more specific shots in my head I'd like to capture sometime this winter. 

When I first thought of night shots, I knew I wanted to capture an image of the Perrine Bridge over the Snake River Canyon.  And then I needed a picture of our local LDS temple as well, of course; it's a bright beacon in the dark!  So I grabbed my tripod and a coat and went to "work".  (Since when is photography ever work?  Haha.)  It took me several tries to hone in on the right settings, but once I found my groove, it was a lot of fun!  The most entertaining part was pressing the shutter strategically between sets of cars rushing past the temple.

 
And then the awful time change occurred.  The sun sets so early now!  But I'm trying not to complain.  The dark actually wound up being an inspiration for some in-home shots one evening.  Since my new camera has ISO that goes on for days, I knew I could embrace the grain and play with some hard light.  I'm so lucky to have such cute models willing to pose for me.

^^Watching cartoons inside the teepee.^^
^^I told Levi there was candy in the fridge.  Hehehe.^^

Now please click on over to the next talented gal in our photography circle, Lauren Jensen Photography, to see some more creative night shots.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

All About the Week My Sister Came to Visit

11.13.2014

Let's talk about my sister!  Last week my sister, Lauren, came all the way up from southern Arizona with her two little boys, Carter and Jaxon, to enjoy some of the Autumn colors.  They stayed at our mom's house near Boise.  Naturally, I dropped everything so that my two little boys and I could be there too!  It was a full house, but a reunion probably shouldn't be any other way.  It was different this year since our mom is working full time. (We may be bona fide adults but we still need you, Mom!)  However, we still made a host of special memories.

But before I tell you about the highlights, let me be clear about some realities: four little boys ages four and under undoubtedly gave us our fair share of chaos and high-stress moments.  Like when we knew going shopping with all of them would end in disaster but we went anyway.  Levi literally laid on the tile floor of Ross kicking and screaming as I made my purchases.  I carried him out in tears (His tears or mine?  I can't remember.  Probably both.) under the stares of everyone else in the store.  Luckily, some folks wore understanding smiles.  Whew.   

Fortunately, the highs definitely out-weighed the lows.  We actually had a lot of fun!  The kids went wild one evening playing at an indoor park with tubes and ropes and ball pits alongside their Uncle Ryan (who is only ten).  We admired the blazing trees during golden hour at the park on two different afternoons.  We enjoyed gabbing the evening away with some cousins over dinner.  We explored the aquarium and touched live sting-rays and giant lizards.  Lauren and I even got to sneak away together for a few hours for some recreational shopping.  (I came home with a 9 foot Christmas tree bought at half price!  Woohoo!)  It was a full trip!

Of course, I took some pictures...

^^View of the pond at Fuller Park^^
^^Levi summed up in one photo.  I can't get over this one!^^
^^Um, isn't my sister gorgeous?  She let me snap some pictures of her when the light was just phenomenal.^^
^^Yes.  Yes, Levi came to find us with his pants down.  Haha.^^
^^I keep coming back to this photo of my sister and nephew. Carter's face is priceless! He sure loved that swing ride last week.^^
^^Levi diving head first into the pack 'n play.  Crazy kid!^^
^^Admiring the giant lizard at the aquarium!^^
^^Carter and Lauren petting the sting-rays!  They feel like wet cheese.^^
^^Jed felt brave and got his hand in the tank too!^^
^^Few things feel sweeter to me than resting with a baby on your chest.^^ 
^^Jax is the cutest nephew that ever lived.  Those big eyes slay me.  And his cheeks are like soft giant plums.  I just want to smooch on him!^^
 ^^Chips for breakfast^^
^^Our mom with her grandboys.^^

Honestly, I think my favorite parts of Lauren's visit were just getting to spend some quality time with her at home.  We stayed up one night just talking and taking ridiculous personality quizzes.   It's amazing how similar we are and yet so very different too!  And we LOVE making music together.  We practically gravitate towards the piano and violin in the front room.  I'm a little embarrassed to share this, but I promised my sister I'd compile our musical nerdiness into one short video. Our talents for music are quite different.  Lauren sings.  I play the violin.  When Lauren listens to the radio, she hears lyrics. When I listen to the radio, all I hear are notes. Thus, a little Yellowcard and Payphone for your viewing pleasure mixed with one crazy child.  It's what we do best together!  All those years of music lessons...I wonder if we make our mom proud or not?  Ha!      



I couldn't help feeling suddenly lonely and a little sad as I hugged Lauren goodbye and drove away last Friday.  Seeing each other just five, six, maybe ten days a year simply isn't enough!  I love you, Sista!  And I love the silly bond we share.

Snapshots of Life Lately and Some Silly Anectdotes

11.06.2014
 ^^Posing with his army guy pumpkin^^
 ^^My newborn posing beanbag is good for more than just photo shoots.  It's the best place in the house to curl up and watch a movie!^^
 ^^A trip to the dentist, complete with cool dude sunglasses and some new toothbrushes.  Jed loved it!  Good news: he has a healthy mouth full of teeth.  Levi, on the other hand, stayed glued to my lap with apprehension.  Fortunately, I was wise enough not to make an appointment for him too.  But Levi did take a quick ride in the chair! 

::  With the weather turning cooler, it's time to bust out the play dough and crayons once again.  The boys often sit at the table for up to an hour each morning entertaining themselves.  They love making little men, an entire army of them!  Then they ask for my help in making "pack packs" and hats for each one.  "Walk, walk, walk!  Go to school!"  Levi sings.  Sometimes Jed's play dough guy needs a gun for hunting "terrible tigers".  It's so much fun watching their hilarious little imaginations come to life!

::  In the days after we went apple picking this Fall, I taught my two little boys the whole, "Apple Core.  Baltimore.  Who's your friend?  Me!" rhyme.  The boys were chanting it like broken records at the dinner table one night.  Naturally, I felt compelled to pull up the old Donald Duck video for them to see.  We laughed hysterically!  The boys giggled and begged to watch Donald Duck pegged with an apple over and over.  And I laughed at their laughter.  I'm so proud to be passing down my own warped sense of humor to the next generation!   

::  One evening as as I gave Jed a piggyback ride home from a neighbor's house to help keep up with two little girls on bicycles Jed blurted, "Jesus can ride his bike really fast!"  I couldn't help laughing a little.  "Yes, I think he could," I said through a smile. 

::  One night a thunderstorm blew in at bedtime.  We could all hear faint rumblings as rain pitter-pattered against the house.  "I scared," Levi shivered.  "Don't worry, Levi!" Jed reassured him.  "Jesus can stop the storm and make you feel not scared."  Oh, what a proud mommy moment!  Just a few days prior we had read the story in the New Testament about how Jesus calmed a storm just after his disciples were sure their ship would sink.  How wonderful it was to see that Jed really is soaking it all in and can even apply what he's learning to his little life!  It opened an opportunity for a little family gospel discussion right then and there.  I am convinced those few moments we spend reading scriptures at the breakfast table are the best five minutes I spend every day.

::  While showing Levi some pictures from Halloween: "We go candy picking?" Levi asked.  Like apple picking, but door to door for candy instead.  I thought it was funny.  Clever kid.  Haha.     

::  When I grabbed the fly swatter...
"No, Mom!  Don't smash my pet!"
"The fly is your pet?" I asked.
"Yeah.  Don't smash my pet!"
"Eh, you can have a new one tomorrow," I responded with a loud WHACK.
Jed took it all rather well.  He thinks he's suuuuper funny.  What a tease!

::  "He's a parrot," Bron explained to someone about how articulate Levi is.  Then a voice from our knees called, "I a parrot!"  Yes, this kid hears and repeats EVERYTHING!