Bike rides and balance.

LJ and I went for a ride today with her new bike trailer. I think she liked it.


Mama sure did! I can't wait to go for family bike rides… finally!


Quality time with this precious girl and her daddy is top on my list of priorities for 2011. I spent 2010 trying to be one of those "do-it-all mamas," and guess what I figured out? That's not me at all! I realized how much more balance I need in my life and I'm seeking it out now. I have no doubt that God has some great things in store, but I need to be more open to what He has planned instead of filling every moment of every day with busyness. That's how I've been feeling lately… and I just need some time to be… still.

“Be still, and know that I am God…"
-Psalm 46:10

I'm also praying for the families of those who were murdered or injured in Tucson on Saturday. My heart is completely broken for them. Life is truly unpredictable and short- may we all make the most of our days.

OK, so… WHOA.

I should be posting about how LJ turned one at the end of last month. Or about the fun rustic cowboy/cowgirl birthday party I threw for her and her dad. Or the photos I took of our Christmas decor. Or the sweet NYE photo we took with our friends the Pirates. Or a recap of 2010 complete with a gushing letter to LJ about how fast this past year has gone and that I can't believe how fast she's grown. Or her first word or first steps. Or the bazillions of pictures I've taken with full intentions to post them here. However, having come off the most insanely busy month OF MY LIFE, I feel as if I need to get everything down on paper or laid out in front of me just to sort through the mess that has become by brain.

One thing is for sure: I can't sustain the kind of pace I did last month and keep my sanity too. Looking back I've learned that I need to work on setting better boundaries to guard my time. I want to simplify things so that I can focus on the things that matter most to me: my work and photography, my family and friends, my home, my husband, time with the Lord, and this precious little face:

So on that note, this is my entry for this week's I ♥ Faces challenge: Absolute Best Face of 2010. How on earth I was supposed to narrow it down to one picture I don't know, but this is what I chose. This was taken in October at a campground east of the Valley- one of my favorite places to get away when I need peace and quiet and nature and stillness. No matter what, she will always be the Absolute Best Face of 2010 to me.


I ventured out with LJ tonight to scout out some photo locations and we found ourselves in the middle of a dazzling sunset. Most of the time I'm driving in the car or don't have my camera or I'm home and totally oblivious until I see it posted on someone's FB page, "Oh, WOW, people, this SUNSET!!" And then I run outside and have completely missed the whole thing. But not tonight! Tonight we were in a park, camera in hand, baby was happy and I started shooting away. It was amazing.

Also, check out my new logo/watermark! It will be a little bit before I launch my new site (I'm thinking sometime in the new year) but I pretty much love it. Cody designed it for me and I put the finishing touches on it. What do you think?






If you ask me, the scenery in this last photo is the most dazzling of all :)


Today, I am thankful for…

Amazing friends. The real ones… the ones who forgive me for my shortcomings. The ones who I don't connect with for months- years, even- and our friendship doesn't skip a beat. The ones who love me enough to let me be me and who cherish me because of who I am. The ones who encourage. The ones who have been around forever. The ones who just walked into my life. The ones who will never walk away. The ones who show me who they truly are and let me love them. Those who are near and those who are far. I am SO THANKFUL for you.

My family. The time I had with Mum Mum before she died. The new time I get with Amma. The fact that my dad is still here and better than ever. My brother and sister and their endless love and generosity. My mom and her support and her unconditional love. My husband's family. The way that they all love my daughter to the moon and back.

My husband. His patience. His love for the Lord. His encouragement and support to help me follow my dreams. His new role as the most amazing dad I've ever seen. The way he looks at me. The way he looks at our tiny little girl. The joy that's written all over his face when he's with her. That he loves me sacrificially and stands by me through thick and thin. That I love him just as much.

My daughter. The light that dances in her eyes. The way she grasps my index fingers like mini vice-grips signaling that she wants to go walking. Her opinions. That she knows how to sign for "more" and it's so dang cute. The way she dances to music or when I sing… when I sing anything to her. Snuggling her in the mornings. Her excitement over our pups. Putting bows in her long, blonde hair. Making her giggle uncontrollably. The sheer joy and privilege of being her mama. Wondering every day why God decided to bless me with this amazing little creation. Watching her grow… and learning what it is to experience a love so big and vast and wide that I would give up my life and my world to keep her safe.

Photography. Seeing the world in snapshots. Capturing moments in my own life and those that I love that can be cherished long past our expiration dates.

My fur-kids. Those sweet little white fluffs that demonstrate forgiveness and unconditional love in a way that only dogs can. Their wet kisses and black noses. When they cuddle up next to me when I cry because they know that sometimes I just need a hug and a quiet reminder that I am loved.

My job. I work with two amazing women who have become like big sisters to me. They understand, support and give me advice on how to balance my life as a mom and a professional because they've been there. I get to travel and connect and be creative and just be me. A year ago I didn't know what we were going to do to support our soon-to-be family of three… and here I sit, in a better place than I could have ever dreamed up at the time.

The beauty that is there if we just take the time to look for it.

The contentment that can be found in nothing but Jesus and given to us by the Spirit.

This life that I have been given… the moments that have been entrusted to me… the responsibilities that are mine alone and the joy it is to have them. My health, my home, my love, my life. That I am not without knowing Who these things came from.

I am thankful for so much today, and I pray that you are too. May you be given the eyes to see that your blessings do indeed outweigh the hardships in your life. Our God has made it so, for He is good, all the time.

"I thank my God every time I remember you."
-Phillipians 1:3

Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones. You are loved.


It's hard to believe that the trip we have been anticipating for months has already come and gone! Cody and I went sans LJ and I have to say, as much as I adore her and missed her while we were gone, I am glad we chose to leave her with my parents (much more fun for them too!). There's no way that Cody and I would have gotten to experience Nashville the way we did had we brought her along. (She is currently in the "can't-sit-still" phase. Imagine the plane ride.) And we pretty much experienced Nashville via our taste buds.

I was really hoping for some abundant fall color, but unfortunately we arrived a little late for the best of it. There was still some color here and there, and I soaked it up as much as I could!

We had some amazing BBQ, phenomenal espresso, the best cocktails we've ever tasted, made a stop at White Castle (a childhood favorite of mine!), and checked out some of the places that were recommended to us by helpful locals and friends who live there. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights:


Nashville Crema sign

We literally couldn't get enough of this place. We went three times. I wanted to pack the whole thing in my suitcase and take it with me back to Arizona. I learned much about the craft of espresso when I started working at Liberty Market and am thankful that I know a good shot of espresso when I taste/see/smell it. And Crema was IT! Loved the atmosphere too. I do believe this would get the Joe stamp of approval.

Nashville espresso

Nashville latte

Nashville downtown

Nashville Crema
Yeah. It was love.


Nashville Marche

I was too busy enjoying my savory tart with parsnips, gouda and caramelized onions and tasting Cody's cinnamon croissant french toast to bother with pictures. But this was by far our favorite food experience on our trip.

Patterson House

Nashville Patterson House

Before we went to Nashville, I had no idea what a speakeasy was. But everywhere we went, people kept talking about "that speakeasy the Patterson House." In fact, while at dinner when we mentioned to our server that we were headed over there, she got this dreamy look on her face and said to us breathily, "It's wonderful…" She was momentarily transported out of her current reality as our server before snapping out of it and taking our payment. Little did we know… we'd be doing the same thing after our experience there.

There is a waiting list… a heavy velvet curtain dividing the waiting area from the bar… and once you're inside, you're handed a menu full of drinks made the old way- think an experience that transports you back to Prohibition times. We sat at the bar and enjoyed two drinks each made by our bartender Matt- who was awesome enough to buy our first round in honor of our anniversary. We heart him forever. I didn't have my camera with me (I was KICKING myself) but we went back and snapped this photo. Hands down, most memorable part of our trip- we LOVED it.

Fall Leaves

Nashville sidewalk leaves

Nashville red leaves

Nashville red leaf

Nashville house

Nashville life and death

Of course, being from AZ, we were super stoked to see some actual fall color. And experience some cool fall weather (it stays well into the 100s through October here). Much to my chagrin, it was warmer in Nashville when we arrived than it was in AZ! COME ON! Thankfully, that changed quickly, but sadly for us, we missed the bulk of the color.

Honky Tonkin' 

We also headed down to Broadway to do a little bar hopping and BBQ eatin'. Jack's was SO GOOD. Again, didn't bring the camera (and it's a good thing- the honky tonks were PACKED!) but I took a shot of the area:

Nashville Broadway

Before we hopped on our plane home, we met up with Courtney of Pizzazzerie and being the sweetie that she is, she treated us to lunch at Nuvo! It was so fun meeting her in person and getting to know her a little more. She's a doll and I can't wait to see her again when the TomKat girls and I venture to NYC in January!

Nashville Courtney 2

Nashville Courtney

And finally, here are some pictures of us from the trip.

Nashville Cedars of Lebanon

Nashville East

Nashville piggy back

Nashville Gallery

Nashville AEA fall leaves

Nashville couch

So… the verdict? We loved Nashville. Maybe even enough that we could live there… someday. But not now. Phoenix is home and as much as there was that we loved about Nashville, I actually left with a new appreciation for all we do have at our disposal here in Arizona. All in all, we had an amazing trip and loved the time we had for just the two of us. Nashville- we will be back!

Happy 3rd anniversary to the love of my life!

Where do we go next year? It will be, after all, 11.11.11!