Thankful.

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.

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Agritopia Community Garden.

I was super stoked when my friend Vanessa asked me to share a plot at the Agritopia Community Garden with her and her mom. I have been dying to learn to garden and this was the perfect opportunity. The soil is what Vanessa refers to as "magical soil" AND the garden is strictly organic. I love the idea of feeding my family things that I was involved in from seed to plate, and not only that, but to share in that fun with a good friend!

You may remember Vanessa and her husband Jason from this post featuring some of their maternity pictures. Their little boy Lincoln was born on 10.10.10 and he is such a handsome little nugget! I got to see him last week and he is sooooo precious! I forgot what it was like to have a baby that small… and it hasn't even been that long. Oh boy.

Anyway, three weeks ago (the day before Vanessa's due date/inducement!) we headed out there and seeded our 20' x 20' plot.

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And thirteen seconds later, Lincoln was born.

About ten days later, Amber and I headed out to check on our little sprouts, and we discovered that we are indeed in business!

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I'm heading back out there today to check out the progress and see if anything needs to be done. I love being a part of something that fosters community and friendship and mutual support and healthful living. We are in very good company with other novice gardeners, urban farm experts, restauranteurs and friends, all who are willing to offer advice and share what they are learning along the way. It's so much fun and I hope my little girl learns a lot from these experiences in the coming years!

Kelly and Mondo.

The weekend of October 16th was a wonderful time of celebrating the wedding of our dear friends Kelly and Mondo! I have known Kelly and her family and friends for several years now, and although they all grew up together in a small town and have been friends since childhood, they have never made me feel like an outsider- they have always treated me as if I had been there all along, and I simply adore these ladies!

I hosted the bachelorette party that Thursday night with the sweetest MOH ever, Katie, at our house and it was a super fun, laid back time with some really great women. Katie and I set up a taco bar and a dessert table and asked the ladies to bring their beverages of choice.

My BFF Amber came into town that weekend to partake in the festivities, although we missed her at the bachelorette party. She came into town on Friday night after the rehearsal and joined us at Boulders on Broadway for the rehearsal dinner. Our friends Erick and Rochelle are the owners there and let me just say, the pizza was dee-lish!

Saturday was The Big Day, and all of the bridesmaids (all 8 of them!), along with Kelly's mom and cousin, came over to our house to get prettified for our big walk down the aisle.

I didn't have a chance to take many pictures over the weekend, but here are a few of my favorites (party printables made by moi via the TomKat StudioSwanky Chandelier collection):

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Kelly wedding cupcakes

These delicious cupcakes were made by Kelly's sister, Lindy, who also happened to make the gorgeous, bird-nest cupcakes for my baby shower! SHE'S GOOD. If you need baked items, let me know so I can get you in touch with her.

Session Nine did the photography for the Rivera wedding, so be sure to check out their site in the near future for some amazing images of the event. It took place in the huge backyard of what quickly became our dream house- the Richardson family took a quaint little house and remodeled it into something that belongs on HGTV! Again, with the lack of pictures!

Kel, thank you for asking me to stand with you as you married the love of your life! It was truly such an honor! I adore each of you separately, but even more so together… and I can't wait to see what God has planned for the shared life that's unfolding before you. You both chose well, and it was an amazing weekend! Just remember, if it weren't for my and Amber's phenomenal and lawyer-like pursuasive skills at the YH last year, you may not have taken that risk and jumped in with that amazing guy from Colorado who is now your husband! Haha! Kidding. And p.s., the traveling pants will be making their journey your way very, very soon.

My first photo shoot: Vanessa and Jason’s Maternity Photos

So I never had any aspirations to become a photographer. Then I met Leon. Leon has opened my eyes to all sorts of new adventures and I have officially caught the bug. I offered to take maternity pictures for our dear friends Vanessa and Jason (who are expecting their little one in three weeks!) since they weren't planning on having any done professionally. I was like, "Hey, you're going to want these later, and I have a new camera that I need to practice using, how about we do this!" And to my amazement, they agreed! And I had a blast. Not to mention, it's hard to take credit for anything when you're working with people who are THAT PHOTOGENIC. They were super comfortable with each other and in front of the camera, which was a huge help for someone who's never done this before!

I'm super excited because I'm sharing a garden plot at the Agritopia Community Garden with Vanessa, so we'll get to spend some quality time together as new moms with our little ones. She and Jason decided not to find out what they're having, and everyone can barely wait to meet this sweet baby of theirs! I don't know how they can stand not knowing. Haha. Anyway. Here are a few of my favorites from the shoot. Enjoy!

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Thanks for letting me capture this time for you guys! Can't wait to meet my newest photography subject in a few short weeks! 😉

Tea time with Hippo.

Earlier this week I got to visit with my dear friend from college, Iku, who lives in Japan and visits the states every couple of years. We went to La Grande Orange for breakfast where we spied the cutest little stuffed hippo! After we ate, LJ decided to be a fussy monkey, so I picked her up and walked her around the grocer to check out all the fun and original items they have for sale there. I picked up the hippo and made silly voices and she immediately started giggling, she loved it so much. Well, Iku, being as sweet as can be, observed this from our table, and when I went outside with LJ, Iku snatched up the hippo and sneakily bought it for her. She came out with it and was like, "I got this for the baby!" and it was just the sweetest thing!

Iku is such a joy to spend time with and I love that whenever she comes to town she always lets me know so we can get together and catch up. And she always brings me the yummiest Japanese candy! I last saw her two years ago right after Cody and I got married… and I was so happy she got to meet LJ while she's still a wee one. Here's a couple of photos of the two of them together:

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Yesterday, LJ had tea time with Hippo.

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Simple living: What would you keep?

This morning there was a feature on the Today Show about a couple in Portland (with a very fun and interesting blog) who gave up all but 100 possessions, downsized to a 400 square foot apartment, and got rid of their car. See below:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Of course it got me thinking. We live in such a materialistic society… would we really be happier with less?

My husband has always said that he wants to live simply. And I love the idea, but to be honest, I also love stuff. How shallow am I? Ha! But for a while I have been wanting to clean house. So here's my top ten list of things that I absolutely would not give up if I were forced to get rid of everything else besides the bare essentials (which includes at least one car- we live in the most sprawling city in the country- not to mention the hottest!- so a car is a must- even more so with a baby!):

1. My iMac. I make my living by this thing- not to mention it houses all of our music and photographs!

2. My camera.

3. My sewing machine.

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4. My Amma's china set. She bought it one piece at a time while she was working hard and living in Iceland. Priceless!

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5. These two Bibles (yes, I'm cheating): the first I carried down the aisle on our wedding day. The second belonged to Mum Mum.

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6. The artwork that our friend Trish painted that was displayed at our wedding.

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7. My Hummell music box… it's beaten up and cracked and worth nothing to anyone but me, but I used to fall asleep to its music every night when I was a kid. It's now in LJ's room.

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8. This photo of Mum Mum and me.

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9. Henry. 

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10. This silhouette of Linnea:

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I'll tell you what, this exercise sure does make you realize how much crap is sitting around in your house that is completely ignored and also makes you realize that perhaps you don't need all this stuff after all. But then again, even though we could get rid of so many things and never miss them, it's hard to imagine a virtually empty house… my head might explode. Is that wrong? Maybe we need a smaller house so it will feel more full with only the things we need… hmmm… I don't know. Either way, I prefer to live in a home that has character because of its decor. Do I need the decor? Nope. But because it's something I personally love- to be surrounded by beauty- it's meaningful enough to me to warrant staying in my home. Cody and I also love entertaining- so that requires a fair amount of kitchen ware and enough place settings for everyone. It's all a matter of what your priorities are- and that's different for everyone.

It's the things sitting in my closet that I haven't seen in ages that I question. And lots of other things.

Stuff isn't what makes me happy ultimately… it isn't what makes anyone happy. My family and friends and the experiences we share together are what bring me joy, and I'm sure you would say the same of your own. I think it's about time to start cleaning out our closets, organizing, and passing along the things we don't really need to others who would appreciate and have a need for them.

So what are your thoughts on this? What are some of the things you would never give up?

p.s. I think I would die without a car in Portland. Have you BEEN there? SO MUCH TO DO AND EXPLORE.

Jessica’s baby shower.

Whew… what a week! Alex and I threw Jessica's baby shower today and it was so much fun! We went with a Vintage Circus theme a la TomKat Studio, complete with frilly and feathery hairpieces for the mom-to-be and smaller ones for ourselves. Our friends Rachel and Joy were so helpful in pulling everything together- not to mention it was held at Joy's AMAZING new home!

We hosted an open house as opposed to a formal shower with games, etc. None of us are big on baby shower games, haha. We had all kinds of food and drinks that you would find at a circus- popcorn, mixed nuts, candy, peanuts in the shell, Mexican Coke, and lots more. It was incredibly relaxed and good to gather with dear friends and Jess's family.

Here are some pictures… enjoy!

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Welcome to your shower!

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Jess LOVES Coke, so of course that had to be our featured drink!
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An old-fashioned popcorn maker… so fun and SO vintage circus!
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Joy and her adorable little peanut zippin' up the stairs!
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Alex and me hostessing it up.
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Jess and Joy.
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Lots of fun presents… including a so-ugly-you-can't-help-but-adore-him, yellow, googly-eyed monster. Can you spot him? (I mean, seriously… how could you not?)
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Another one of THESE? I'm not sure I can handle it… the cuteness, that is.
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All of us girls after the festivities- Rachel, Joy, Jess, Alex and me.
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Jess with her sweet mom and sisters and Cruzer.
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Love this girl like a sister! Happy shower day, Jess!
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We can't wait to meet the newest addition to the Williams family!