Shine.

The hubby shared this video with me last night and I think it's just stunning… plus I have always loved this song. And! They used more than 700,000 Light Bright pegs to make it! Totally animation-free! Amazing. And what a sweet and sad and heartwrenching story to go along with it. It made me cry, but then again, I'm a sucker for these things- the song brought tears to my eyes long before I ever saw the video.

Thank you for overcoming this heart of mine, o God.

Shine by David Crowder Band.

http://www.vevo.com/VideoPlayer/Embedded?videoId=US82Y1000066&playlist=false&autoplay=0&playerId=62FF0A5C-0D9E-4AC1-AF04-1D9E97EE3961&playerType=embedded&env=0

Linnea vs. Shiloh

I went to a dear friend's baby shower this past weekend and LJ had to accompany me since Cody had to work (on a Saturday. Bleh). While there, LJ got her first celebrity look-alike comment: Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. So I looked her up and I couldn't resist:

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Kinda weird.

I don't know… here I thought she was just the spitting image of her dad… who is apparently the new Brad Pitt look-alike! Only without the wife-cheating and seventeen out-of-wedlock children.

Mommy’s solo day out.

Ahhh… yes. The loner in me got to breathe a big sigh of relief on Monday when I got my very first "Mommy's solo day out." OMG… how I needed that. My mom and dad were kind enough to take LJ off my hands for the day so I could go out and do… WHATEVER I WANTED. I've forgotten what that felt like! Here's what I did:

Visited Last Chance. What a madhouse. This article sums up the experience nicely. I got two rad pairs of shoes for a fraction of their original price- SCORE!

Went to Macy's where I fell in love with and purchased a new backpack that we will be using as a diaper bag. It's perfect! Waterproof, lightweight, and SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE. Is it back to school season or something? I wasn't super nuts about the pattern initially, but it quickly grew on me. It's by Le Sport Sac, and in my humble opinion, with all the cloth diapers we have to carry around, it works so much better for us than the Petunia Pickle Bottom bag I was eyeing earlier this week… even though I love that pattern with an everlasting love.

Backpack diaper bag

I enjoyed my new favorite treat, fresh mint frozen yogurt with thin mint cookies, at Mojo Yogurt at the Biltmore. I'm slightly obsessed with this combo and think I might die if they ever stop carrying that flavor.

I ended my day by going to see this all by my solo:

Eat-pray-love-movie 

And now… all I want to do is eat pizza and drink red wine. Therefore, to feed this craving, Cody and I will be visiting Pizzeria Bianco for the very first time like… right now. We will need a babysitter for this outing. Any takers?

Pizzeria Bianco

I kind of can't stand the thought of waiting another second to eat their world-famous pizza… heck, if I can't go to Naples for my pizza like Julia Roberts did, this is no doubt a close second!

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{Pizzeria Bianco photos via The Girl Who Ate Everything}

The hubby called and texted during the movie wondering where I was and I got back to him after the movie got out. He was in a tremendously good mood, considering the fact that I had been out having fun doing things like shopping and watching movies all day long while he was at work slaving away. Then I caught on that perhaps HE was enjoying his solo time too. And he was. So I took my time getting home so he could savor it while he could.

Needless to say, as much as I enjoyed my day, I couldn't wait to get back to this face and get home to her daddy.

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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.

It’s been A DAY.

Can I just be real for a second? Like… really, really transparent with you?

Today has been A DAY. The kind of day where I feel like I matter so little that I ask myself why I even bother. The kind of day where I want nothing other than to be understood and yet I feel like nothing I say will make anyone understand me. The kind of day where I seriously wonder sometimes if I am completely invisible unless someone wants something from me. The kind of day where one little thing happens and it brings back EVERYTHING that has ever made me feel the same way and makes me feel an inch tall, not to mention like I'm still stuck in high school. The kind of day where I just. don't. feel. GOOD ENOUGH.

Ugh. I hate days like this. This is not who I am… but it brings out the worst of my insecurities. What's my age again? Thank you Blink 182 for that profound question. I wonder that myself sometimes. One would think at 30 that this kind of crap would be behind me already.

When I was in elementary school all the way up to when I was 20, I had this friend who I considered my best friend. And repeatedly throughout those years, she would bail on our friendship and on me to go be BFFs with someone else. And then when that person bailed on her, she would come back to me and I would forgive her and be her best friend all over again- as long as she decided to keep me around, anyway. My parents and my grandma warned me over and over again to be cautious
with this person because they saw how hurt I was every time I would get
left behind. Maybe I was just obnoxious but I would rather lose a friend permanently knowing that I was obnoxious so I could change rather than wonder what is so wrong with me that someone can desert me temporarily, but keep me around for convenience. This went on many times until she completely wrote off our friendship when we were in college with a handwritten, mailed letter saying she didn't want me in her life anymore. At that point, while I was confused and once again hurt and wondered where she got off being so self-righteous and condescending, I felt as if I were much better off without this so-called friend, and I never responded and moved on with my life. 

It really sucks being used. The very meaning of that word in the
context of relationships implies that, eventually, you get thrown
away-discarded- without any regard for the fact that it really, really
hurts.

Fast forward six years when she tracked me down on MySpace and asked for my forgiveness and for a restored friendship. And I forgave this person, truly, and we are again friends. But what I never made peace with is the effect that friendship had on me through the 12 years I endured never being good enough to be her friend after someone better came along.

Growing up as an only child (my brother and sister were grown and out of the house when I was born), I placed a high value on friendships. I still do, but as an adult I now have more solid boundaries. And I suppose the problem is that this hurt that I never truly processed has made me hyper-sensitive to unbalanced friendships and relationships and the rejection that accompanies them. Being treated like I don't matter to someone I hold in high regard is something I have a really hard time dealing with. Sometimes it's outright shocking and other times it's just like, "OK… but… seriously?" I don't blame my friend for the fact that I haven't dealt with things completely- that is my responsibility. It's just what happened. What I am learning in light of this is that balanced friendships are rare, valuable and definitely to be cherished. The rest deserve respect and kindness but in the end don't really matter, because they won't be there for you when you need them.

OK… enough with the pity party. This is also the kind of day where I totally need to get over myself. I
know this all sounds incredibly narcissistic- half the time the things
that hurt me aren't even about me- they're about the other person.
That's another thing I've learned as I grow older. When all is said and
done, I'm fine… I just need a hug from my husband when he gets home
from work tonight. Tomorrow is a new day.

I know that Linnea will mostly learn from her own mistakes. Now that I'm a mom, I understand that as much as I want to teach her the things I have learned and protect her sweet little heart, experience is going to be the best teacher. I can only pray that she is guarded from being too hurt and that she is wise in her decisions. I can guide her and teach by example. But that will require first that I make peace with my own past, and make the most of the days I am blessed to have. God willing, I will someday fully experience where my true worth lies- not in the opinions and insecurity of others, but in Christ alone. I have searched and searched and no matter who I encounter, another person will never value me as much as my God does. The same is true for all of us.

Are there things in your life that you haven't made peace with yet? Would you be willing to share? If you're a mom, or soon-to-be, are there things you want your children to know based on your experiences? Sometimes, even if the situations are completely different, it's good to know that other people are human and have things they have to deal with too. I normally don't do this, but… today, I just had to get this out.

On another note, I am really thankful for these people:

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Bri, Brett, Cassie, and Matt! These are the folks in our small group… and they are simply wonderful.

I am also thankful for this person, my BFF through thick and thin, through all my highs and lows:

Alley Baby Shower 8
This girl is the real deal- God has shown me his love, friendship and loyalty through her in big ways. I would not have kept my sanity all these years without her listening ear and no-nonsense advice. If she wasn't on a ten-day camping trip with her hubby this week, I probably would have unloaded all of this on her and you wouldn't have had to read any of this long-winded nonsense. Ha!

My new lover.

I have a confession to make: I'm cheating on my husband.

I've been saying for a while now that I DESPERATELY NEEEEEEEEEEEEEDED a DSLR camera because I NEEEEEEEEEEED to be able to take the BEST pictures POSSIBLE of Linnea while she's growing up.

That's my excuse, anyway. 

We have a great point-and-shoot camera that Cody's mom gave us for our anniversary- we absolutely love it and take it with us everywhere. I officially caught the SLR camera bug when I went to my mom and dad's house and came across this beauty:

Vitomatic
My grandpa's old Voigtlander Vitomatic II that he bought in Germany back in 1958.

No idea how to use it. All I kept hearing from my parents was, "It takes the most GORGEOUS pictures EVER," but didn't have time for a crash course on how to use a fully manually operated camera. As a consolation prize, I dug out my old 35mm Canon EOS Rebel 2000 SLR
(that I bought waaaaaay back in 1999 when I was a photography major for a semester) and took it with us up to Flagstaff for a day trip.

Four rolls of film, one set of camera batteries and $53 later, we had our developed pictures back the next day. And don't get me wrong- they were great. But some of them were underexposed. Some were overexposed. Some weren't framed right. Sure, I could mail in the negatives to a scanning shop and get the negatives on disk… at $0.69 a pop. Needless to say… I loved shooting with this camera, but it was starting to get ridiculously expensive.

So we finally did it. I had already been researching cameras and decided on the Canon EOS Rebel T2i AND I LOVE IT. It was a HUGE splurge, but to me it was worth every penny we have to pinch in the meantime. I'm still learning how to use it, and so far it has taken some amazing pictures. Meet my lover, Leon:

Canon t2i

I know the basics, but I will be DEVOURING the tutorials on The Pioneer Woman

So what if my kid was the perfect excuse to get a fancy camera? She's the perfect subject. Can you blame me for wanting the best photos possible of the two loves of my life?

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Sorry, Leon. As exciting as you are and as much fun as we have together, I'll never leave him for you.

Know any fun photography tutorials? Share them here!