Bike rides and balance.

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

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

Dazzling.

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?

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

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.

In the garden.

As promised, I went to check out the garden with LJ yesterday. Turns out she's a huge fan of dirt, and I'm a pro at breaking things. The soil looked a little dry, so I decided to turn on the timer for a quick 30 minute soaking. As I was pushing the button to set it, the whole thing snapped off the spigot, and water started pouring out into our neighbor's plot! Uhh. Way to go, Andrea. Apparently I shouldn't be left alone in the garden unless you want important components to get completely destroyed.

Our radishes and green beans are champs just like last time, and everything else is either sprouting or will any day now. Since I can only post so many photos of the garden's progress before you want to stab out your eyes with hot forks from the boredom, I decided to add a little interest in the form of a cute baby in pink. Not that I don't post enough pictures of said baby as it is… but babies are a little more interesting to watch grow than sprouting veggies.

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I Heart Faces: In the Orchard.

I've been tied up the past couple of weeks not only with work, but also with getting ready for Kelly and Mondo's wedding day! More on that later- it was an amazing weekend and I was so honored to stand up for one of my dearest friends as she married the love of her life!

I got really excited when I saw that this week's challenge for I Heart Faces is called "In the Orchard." On Saturday we did the wedding photos with none other than Jason of Session Nine with Chris Ward at this gorgeous Pecan orchard. I've seen the products of some photo shoots done there and thought it made a stunning backdrop, but I hadn't been there before. I took LJ back there today for a little mini-shoot and here's my entry- I love this sweet little angel!

 

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The dirt and the boots are growing on her. The ants… not so much.

Be sure to check out the other fun entries here. If I can settle into more of a routine, I hope I will get to head out for shoots more often- ESPECIALLY now that fall seems to have officially made its debut here in Arizona!