Losing Teeth and Loving Life

A certain little miss has lost both of her front teeth. If you ask her about it, she will excitedly tell you, “And, I have TWO dollar bills from the tooth fairy.”



This look cracks me up. It’s a look that Aaron gives me often, which means something like “you’re being totally ridiculous.”

Throwing leaves is definitely a favorite thing of hers to do.



That’s my silly six year old.

Don’t forget about the MudLOVE bracelet pre-order going until Sunday!

MudLOVE Bracelet Fundraiser

(photo from MudLOVE's instagram)

(photo from MudLOVE’s instagram)

A friend of mine sold these awesome bracelets to fundraise for her summer hosting fees. I bought a few– one for myself and one for each of my kids’ teachers as end-of-the-year gifts. Mine is well loved. It’s a cute bracelet, but in a pinch, I’ll even use it to pull back my hair, which is very doable because it has adjustable elastic.

My friend suggested I sell them as a fundraiser myself and I jumped at the chance! These bracelets are awesome. These make great gifts for others, but they’re also a fun gift for yourself. Think Christmas stocking stuffers, holiday teacher gifts, or even just another way to remind yourself of a positive message throughout the day, like “stay positive” or “hold fast”.


This is a pre-order, until next Sunday, October 26th at 8pm CT. If you have a specific bracelet that you’d like, now is the time to order it. Once I have the pre-orders in, I’ll place an order for all of the pre-ordered bracelets + some of the most popular colors and words. I’ll keep selling them after 10/28, but you’ll be limited to what I have in stock. Pre-ordered bracelets will ship by mid-November.

The bracelets are made out of clay and elastic. The clay is SOLID. I’m hard on my stuff and I’ve definitely given it a good chance at breaking, but I haven’t even gotten a crack or chip out of it. MudLOVE will even replace them for free(minus your cost to ship it to them) if you do break it.

The bracelets have an adjustable elastic band, so they can fit around my wrist, Aaron’s wrist, Gus’s wrist, etc. Very much one-size fits all.

The bracelets are $12 for one bracelets shipped, $20 for 2 bracelets shipped and $10 for each additional bracelet. So, if you want 5 bracelets, that’s $50. If you want 22 (because, why not?), that’s $220.

For the pre-order, you get to pick both the word/phrase and the elastic color. Here is the full list of options.

Word Choices

  • abide.
  • alive.
  • amor.
  • be still
  • be the change
  • beautiful
  • believe.
  • beloved
  • best friends
  • blessed.
  • breathe.
  • brothers
  • carpe diem
  • celebrate
  • change the world
  • committed
  • community
  • courage
  • create.
  • dance.
  • deny self
  • determined.
  • don’t lose heart.
  • dream.
  • endurance.
  • epic
  • esperanza
  • explore.
  • faith.
  • family
  • fear not.
  • Find a Cure. (with a ribbon)
  • focus.
  • forever.
  • forgiven.
  • free.
  • freedom.
  • friends.
  • grace.
  • heart.
  • hold fast.
  • hope.
  • I ♥ Africa
  • I ♥ You
  • imagine.
  • inspire.
  • John 3:16
  • joy.
  • justice.
  • laugh.
  • listen.
  • live.
  • live simply
  • love.
  • loved.
  • mercy
  • music.
  • never give up.
  • overcome
  • passion.
  • patience.
  • peace.
  • Phil. 4:13
  • play.
  • pray.
  • Proverbs 31
  • purity.
  • read.
  • redeemed
  • relax.
  • rise up
  • Rom 12:2
  • saved.
  • serve
  • set free.
  • shine
  • sing.
  • sisters
  • smile :)
  • stay positive.
  • strength
  • surrender
  • survivor
  • teach.
  • thankful
  • thrive.
  • trust.
  • water=life
  • worship.
  • WWJD
  • xoxo
  • Yahweh


Band Color Choices

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Neon Green
  • Green
  • Red
  • Hot Pink
  • Purple
  • Turquoise
  • Blue
  • Navy Blue
  • Brown
  • Black
  • Grey

Ready to pre-order?

The button below will take you to Paypal, where you can pay for your bracelet(s). In the notes field, enter the word/phrase you want and the elastic color that you want.

Pre-order MudLOVE

Risk Taking, Hosting and A Matching Grant

Part One: Risk Taking

Sitting outside one afternoon, I talked with a friend while Gus climbed up on our fence, just about a foot off the ground. Thud. His bottom hit the ground.

A few tears, a hug and all was healed.

When I glanced over again, there he was up on the fence. Again. Why does he do that when he JUST got hurt? He’s just going to fall again, I thought.

But, I kept on watching him. Tiny feet stepping across the bar. He stretched his legs around corners.

I could see the risk was minimal, but for him, this was a difficult mountain peak and he was climbing without gear.

He didn’t fall again. This time, he called out to me, “Mama! I did it!” In his 3 year old brain, he made it to the summit.


Part Two: Hosting

The conversation I was having that afternoon was about hosting Big L again. Project 143 told us that we needed to decide if we were going to host her again, or if they should find her a different host family. I told my friend how I didn’t want to host. I didn’t want to open myself  and my family up to more hurt. I didn’t want to get myself off the ground again and take the risk.

I had starting to feel peace in the uncertainty, not ready to make a decision about re-hosting or adoption. I wanted to begin the healing process, not rip the bandaid off again. But, we needed to decide.

I talked with those few people I know will offer me wisdom in the face of a huge decision. Questions like, “What does it mean if you don’t host her again?”; “How will you feel if… (insert any number of probable scenarios here)?” “If you don’t, do you think you might regret it?” And, support like, “You can do hard things.” and “I support you no matter what you decide.”

On that day, I hadn’t talked to Big L in over a week. She hadn’t been online and I hadn’t called her either. Our last few phone calls had been pretty forced. She would barely talk. But, I decided to try calling, before we made a decision about hosting.

Instead of listening to the phone ring and ring for a few minutes, I got a quick answer and a happy “Hi!” I was shocked and the only thing I could think to say was “I miss you.” “I miss you, too,” she replied, without hesitation. She asked me about our family and, as it was getting quite late here, I was the one who told her that I needed to go for a change.

I had been ready to give up, but that little conversation was the spark of hope. Maybe the girl we knew is still in there.

Aaron and I agreed after that: Saying “no” to hosting meant saying “no” to her forever. Saying “yes” to hosting meant one more chance.

I thought of all of the people who have been a constant presence and source of encouragement in my life,  all of the people who have loved me when I made mistakes and given me second chances, all of the wonderful people who’ve had my back no matter what. The people who’ve showed up for me even when I haven’t deserved it or wanted it or had any inkling that I needed it. People like my own mom, my sisters, the friends who’ve loved me for years. The answer was clear. Give her another chance.

If there is one thing that I know about God, it’s that He loves us with a relentless love. A love that never gives up, a love that endures, a love that chases you and seeks to meet you wherever you’re at.

And if there’s one very most important thing that I believe is my responsibility as a follower of Jesus, it’s to be a reflection of that love. To do my very best to love people unconditionally. Even, especially, when it hurts.  Here’s our chance to live that.

This isn’t about adoption. We’d still love to have her as a permanent part of our family, but even if this only gives us clarity on adoption and a few more weeks to pour love into her, that’s okay, too.

We can’t worry about the bigger picture right now. As Glennon Melton says, “just do the next right thing”. The next right thing is four more weeks.

Part Three: A Matching Grant!

We have about $3000 to raise in the next month to cover her hosting fees.  A super generous friend offered  us a $250 matching grant, but before I could even share this news here, I shared it on my personal Facebook page. As of right now, $320 has been donated, taking care of the matching grant! We still have over $2000 to go. Thank you to everyone who has donated and shared about our need.

Here is the link to donate. All donations are tax deductible.

…also know that Moose Prints will be returning soon and I’d love to squeeze some fall photo sessions in as well!

Apples and Pumpkins

If I had a fall bucket list, apple and pumpkin picking would be on it. These activities seem quintessentially fall to me. Plus, cheap apples. We love apples!

My two cooperative kids and that future bouncer in the middle.

I’ll admit that I found this little trip would be a fun photo op, too, and debated helping my kids find better clothes for the occasion. I didn’t. Although I did tell Lena she couldn’t wear socks with sandals. Bad mom, huh?

This was absolutely Gus’s favorite part. He also loved this when we went to the Louisburg Cider Mill last year.

Gus didn’t quite understand what we were looking for in apples. He also thought that the apple bag was the trash bag and when I told him an apple was good, he thought that meant to throw it on the ground.

We picked 3 different varieties of apple.

Reed and Aaron took turns climbing trees to pick apples. Both of them love to climb trees, so this was right up their alley.

They’d toss apples down to the other, to put into the bag.

Of course, we sampled the apples.

One of her front teeth is SO close to coming out.


26.5lbs of apples.

We also grabbed some pumpkins.



We had a lot of fun. Reed even thanked us for taking him when we got in the car. I love it when he does that.

Apple pie, here we come.

365 Photos

My Project 365 is finished. One photo, each day for a year, done.

I am somewhere in the mix of proud and relieved. I’m great at starting things, but I struggle to finish them. So, this feels like an accomplishment.

A lot of people said, “How do you complete a Project 365?” Of course, the instructions are simple: take a photo every day. But, the challenge is actually doing it every day for a year. I know, because I’ve started it before and stopped just a few months in.

However, completing it this time, I came away with two big things that I think made it possible to keep this up every day:

I took my camera everywhere. It was pretty much always in my bag. In the few times that I didn’t have my camera, I used my phone. I have photos in McDonalds and Target and the doctor’s office and a whole lot from the school playground. I definitely got a few odd looks. I even had one woman who works at my kids’ school tell me that she wondered why I always had my camera with me, until she mentioned it to Lena’s teacher, who knew about my blog. There were definitely funny looks or eye rolls throughout the project as I toted my camera everywhere, but perhaps a little hidden benefit of the project is that you stop caring what people think of you after awhile. :)

I didn’t try to take the perfect photo every day. Most days, I just tried to be done! This sounds silly, but I think if you do something every day for a year, you’re bound to learn something, probably quite a bit of somethings. But, you’re not always going to get it perfect or get what you want. I got sick twice in my first few months of the Project 365, once with the stomach flu and once with strep. What I was able to accomplish either time wasn’t impressive, but I’m glad I kept going. I think that it would have been easy to give up on those days, but I probably would have missed dozens of photos in future day if I had given up.

Some of you might be wondering what the point of this sort of project is. For some people, it’s the act of documenting every day. That is part of it for me. But, the larger part is that I want to improve my photography skills and the best way to do that is by lots of practice. Committing to take a photo a day will naturally cause improvement.

I made two goals for myself this year.

  • Practice composition, particularly in candid shots
  • Focus on getting images right SOOC (straight out of camera)

Let’s talk about how I did with those goals.

Practice composition, particularly in candid shots

This is still a bit challenging for me, but I feel like I’ve made some improvements in this area in the last year. It feels like baby steps over huge strides. I think I’ve gotten a lot better about “chopping limbs”, meaning that I cut off a foot or hand when it should have been included. I still find slowing down long enough to really focus on composition to be a challenge. I’m also starting a mentorship with another photographer and this is something that we will work on.

Focus on getting images right SOOC (straight out of camera)

This is one area when I feel like I’ve improved a lot. I shoot entirely in manual mode, for the complete control over my settings. I’m spending a lot less time editing than I was a year ago, doing basic corrections. I think it’s still a bit of a challenge sometimes to change my settings fast enough if I’m chasing kids around, but I think that’s just because my kids move fast!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the past year.  There are a ton and it was still hard to pick!



I love the way that these photos help me remember these moments. I also love how they remind me of what is important. Photography helps me see the beauty in moments I might have overlooked. 365 days of beautiful moments.


Just a little game of catch. Aaron had a long day of work + yard work + kid time so I could rest.


I’m sure it’s probably the last thing that he wanted to do, but even after this full day, he called Reed outside to play catch.

Perhaps he had told Reed he would earlier in the day. Or perhaps he just knew that Reed wanted to. But, he took the time.


A big challenge for me, and I think a lot of parents, is not taking the time for moments like these. Moments when you know you’re not raising the next Babe Ruth, but maybe you’re letting your son know that he’s worth your time.


A simple game of catch = love.

Oh, and I love this guy. I’m glad my kids have him for a dad.

September Photo Recap

September is over. Which also means that my Project 365 is over, but I’ll save that recap for another post.


September Must-Capture List:

  • Gus’s start of school
  • My birthday :)

Gus’s Start of School

This fun day got its own blog post. It’s a lot of fun to see my littlest guy hit these milestones and I’m glad to be able to capture them.


My birthday

This was a lot less exciting. I was feeling pretty sick on my birthday, so we really didn’t do anything for it. I enjoyed a sunset and we did eat cake, which you’ll see on the second to last picture for my September calendar.

I completely neglected to mention our happy news from September: I have a new niece! She is gorgeous and I cannot wait to meet her. We did get to meet her on Skype, which was very exciting. She is definitely the best thing to come out of September 2014!

September was a very full month and had a lot of unexpected events. I’m glad I kept this last month’s goals simple. I’m excited to share my post on the Project 365 overall, so look for that in the next few days!