Capturing Family Christmas Pictures {November Blogathon}

This past weekend, after getting back from the wedding we shot in west Texas...we attempted Christmas pictures of our own.  I can't tell you exactly how many family sessions I've had over the past two month, but I know for sure there has been a lot...mainly of families with young children.  We seem to be able to get the shot, most everyone smiles, looks happy, etc.  So you'd think getting a few pictures of my own kids would be a piece of cake right?  Well most years I've ended up yelling at my mom (or dad) and gone straight I figured this year, we'd just attempt the kids (no parents) to keep our my sanity in check.  And you know what?....It wasn't that bad.  I'll do a big reveal here after our Christmas cards go out (I'm weird like that), but here are a few Christmas pictures from years past.

// 2013 //

// 2012 //

// 2011 //

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Holiday Gift Guide For HER {November Blogathon}

Happy Thanksgiving Week, Y'all!!!

We're in the home stretch of the November Blogathon and I'm pretty sure this will be my favorite themed week of the challenge...all about the HOLIDAYS!  Today's prompt is talking about favorite Fall/Winter trends, but I went ahead and just put a gift-guide spin on it because isn't that what's on our minds anyway!?!

So here's my labor of love gift guide for HER.  I say labor of love because I truly spent a chunk of time researching and finding each one of these special gifts that would be perfect for any lady in your, SIL, MIL, aunt, BFF, sister, and the list could go on.  I'm sure you'll love a few of these for yourself as well, so feel free to share it with your family as a little hint, hint of what you'd love to get this Christmas!

Quick Tip:  I set up this gift guide image to be shoppable, so all you have to do is just click on the + sign next to the product and viola, you'll be taken straight to the online store at which it's sold.  This week is the ideal time top shop for the holidays...several of the below gifts are already significantly discounted.  Happy Shopping!!!!!

How I Got From There to Here {November Blogathon}

For a couple of hours last night, instead of editing, blogging, packing, and the million other things I needed to do...I worked on a holiday gift guide...and let me tell ya', it's pretty amazing!  That's just how excited I am for next week - the last week - of the November Blogathon.  I can see the finish line and I'm getting my second wind!

To wrap up this week's self-reflection theme, I'm talking today about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  From a very young age, I had a clear picture of what career path I would take.  I was going to be an astronaut.  I was obsessed with space exploration and absorbed everything I could learn about it.  This carried throughout junior high and some of high school when I actually started looking into college majors, etc.  Discouraged that I'd probably have to join the Air Force (which now I see that wasn't necessarily the case), mid-high school I changed directions and decided I wanted to be an anesthesiologist.  Enrolling at Texas Tech University, I majored in Chemistry/Pre-Med.  This was exciting to me...I loved science and wasn't horrible at math...and I wanted to play a major role in the medical field.  The perfect path for me...or so I thought.

Cut to spring/summer after my freshman year when I was offered an internship at Motorola.  This was a great opportunity and I was so pumped for the experience....however, they kind of preferred I was more business-directed in school.  Meaning, it would "be really great if I were to change my major to Management Information Systems"...or something of the like.  Around this time also, I was being realistic with myself.  Yes I would love to have a career in medicine, but more importantly, I wanted a family.  I wanted to have kids young in my life and several of them at that!  Being in school for 8+ years did not facilitate those family goals.  Things weren't lining up for me.

So, I did in fact change my major.  I know, what a sell-out.  But this internship provided me with not only great money, but experience of real corporate life.  I ended up returning again to Motorola the next summer too.  I look back on those decisions I made to change the course of my career path, and while my heart wasn't necessarily in it, turns out that it was the right choice to make, as it then put me on yet another path.

MIS was NOT my jam.  I did not care about that stuff one single bit...and more so, it annoyed me.  But I was already in the business college and looked to change things up again.  At the start of my junior year in college, I decided to change my major to a double major of Finance and Marketing, which I now have degrees in.  Isn't it funny how life works?  I never would have guessed I'd now be a photographer, a blogger, and a momma of four...having realized my goals of having kids and now being able to actually use my skills I learned in college with managing my own business.

<Speaking of my own business, check out this amazing camera scarf one of my clients gave me!  In LOVE!!!!>

Not far deep under the surface, however, is still that little girl who dreams of being an astronaut.  Those dreams have never died...other dreams just trumped them...their names are Blake, Tyler Bree, Riley, Blakely, and Bennett....and for them, I'd change my life course as many times as needed.

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What I Prayed For Today {November Blogathon}

My earliest memory of an answered prayer was when I lost my first tooth.  I had a Precious Moments tooth pillow that I had been so looking forward to using....but when I finally lost my first tooth, night came and I had no idea where the pillow was.  I looked high and low, everywhere I could possibly think of.  I ended up going to bed devastated that I'd lost my tooth pillow.  I remember praying so hard that somehow I'd find it.  After a few minutes, a thought came to my mind of where the pillow might be...I got out of bed and looked in that exact spot (a place I had already looked several times), and there it was.  That memory has stuck with me all these years that no matter how little or insignificant the desires of my heart, our loving father in heaven cares and answers my prayers.

Prayer is a huge part of my life.  We pray as a family every morning, we pray for meals, we pray with our children at night...and of course our own individual prayers.  What a comfort it is to know my family is protected and blessed through praying.  Here's a few things I've prayed for today...some might sound insignificant like my little tooth pillow, but others are of the utmost importance to me:

Today I prayed:

  • That I'd make it to a place to air up my flat tire when another place I had barely made it to had an out-of-order sign on their air pump.  (I did make it.)
  • That we'd have the holy spirit present in our home...and for harmony. (Bickering has become prevalent as of late)
  • In thanks for my family and friends who make my life so wonderful.
  • To keep my children safe when they're not with me.
  • For Blake to have peace and productivity in his work.
  • In thanks for answering my prayers.
  • Asking for help in preparation with a wedding I'm shooting this weekend.
  • That I'm enough.

I've often thought to keep a prayer journal and I think I just might start one.  I like the idea of having a tangible record to keep of what to both be thankful for and blessing for which need asking of God.  I know a few people who do this and they say how much more meaningful (and less rote) their prayers are.

I'd also like to add to my prayers for all of you....that you might have a wonderfully special holiday season with family and friends, making memories and enjoying traditions!  XO!

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Forgiveness {November Blogathon}

I'm really interested to see how many of you blog about today's November Blogathon prompt.  It's something most people don't like to talk or think about...forgiving others, possibly even themselves.  Whether you say you have forgiven someone/something or not, I believe it takes much more than that.

I'd like to think I'm pretty good about not holding grudges, however it's one of those things that you don't necessarily realize you do.  Just the other day an old memory came up that gave me yucky feelings about a person, and it hit me like a brick that I had been holding a grudge against this person even though they hadn't crossed my mind in years.  That not only is unbeneficial to myself, but unfair to them.  People change (or don't), but that's irrelavent to the essence of forgiving others.  Forgiveness is for yourself, as we are only forgiven of our wrongs as we forgive others.  Thinking of it that way truly puts it in perspective, doesn't it?

I can think of one person I'm having a hard time forgiving...mainly because the repercussions of this person's actions are still occurring many years down the road.  I need to get over it.  Actually, I thought I had and think I'm almost there...but not quite yet.  So I've found that sometimes it helps saying it we go, will you do it with me?

<Insert name here>, I forgive you for ______________.

You know what?  I actually feel better.  Like I said, I don't know if I'm 100% there yet, but I will be.  Holding grudges is just a weight on our heart that we don't need.  It can consume our thoughts and actions, which only hurts ourselves...not anyone else.  Holding grudges doesn't change the past, but causes your present and future to be burdensome.  So take a cue from Elsa and just Let It Go.  :)


P.S. Have you ever read that quote about happy marriages are the result of the union of two forgivers...or something like that?  I found this little info-graphic that I thought was really neat, and since we're talking about forgiveness today...

A Few Of My Photography Faves

Since today's November Blogathon prompt references a post I've already written (here), I thought I'd just share what I've been up to the past month...what has consumed nearly all of my time.  In a good way, of course.

This time of year for photography is super busy, as everyone wants pictures for their holiday cards and basically, it's just a really great season for layered clothing, fall-colored trees, and the overall feeling of nostalgia.  So today I'm sharing with you a few of my favorites of late.

In related news, my photography website will be up and running soon!!!!  I'll be sure to post the big reveal here first!  Happy Tuesday Friends!

p.s. Are you ready for tomorrow's blog prompt.  It starts getting deep this week!

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Hometown Favorites...What To Do In Austin {November Blogathon}

Wow y'all...blogging today is a bit of a struggle.  Those of you doing the blogathon with me, are you feeling it?  Either way, I've committed to do this and pushing myself was part of it.

This November Blogathon theme is self-reflection week....I mean really, who doesn't love talking about themselves.  But there's a few prompts that get a bit deep, so this should be interesting.  :)  

Today's is all about my hometown, Austin.  I grew up around Austin, but it's really the entire area I call home.  So whether you're a local reader or have aspirations to someday visit here (PLEASE don't move here), I'm recommending some of the best places to do, eat, play in Austin.  Here we go!

Best Date Nights Spots We Love:

  • Alamo Draft House:  Movie and dinner at the same place, with a unique Austin vibe...for the win!
  • Hop Doddy:  Easy date night with yummy food.  I always order the Ahi Tuni burger with the Salted Caramel die for!
  • Olivia's:  Eclectic, chic, and delish!
  • Eddie V's:  For a nice night out...we've frequented this place for years and it's still a favorite.

For A Family Fun Day:

  • McKinney Falls State Park:  We like to hike, take a picnic, and take a lot of family pictures.  It's just right outside of town!
  • Lake Travis:  Being on the water is one of our favorite activities.  Our kids love riding on a boat and soaking up the sun!
  • Austin Hike & Bike Trail:  Now that the trail extends over to the east side, we love taking the family (and dog) along the new area that jets out over the water.  Great views of downtown!

Favorite Family Eats (Kid-Friendly):

  • Gourdough's Trailer:  Heaven help our arteries.  Three words --- The Flying Pig.  The End.
  • Galaxy Cafe:  Healthy food that our kids love....we always frequent the Brodie and Slaughter location.  Their sister restaurant Zocalo is bueno as well.
  • Jack Allen's:  We neither of us can make a decision and we know the upscale comfort food will hit the it's loud enough that taking all 4 of our kids is perfectly okay.

I absolutely love Austin...there's really no place like it.  If you're ever in the area or planning a trip here, feel free to email me with questions, suggestions, etc.  Blake and I were both born and raised around here, so we've gotcha covered!

But really....


Please don't even think about moving here.

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