Sunday, January 15, 2017

Baby News!

I'm so excited to announce that my little sister, Haley, is pregnant! Haley and her husband, Joe, are expecting their first baby, or first baby without fur, I should say. I had the pleasure of taking a few pregnancy announcement pictures for them a couple weeks ago. They are due on July 22nd and are super excited. So are we! This will be our 12th niece or nephew and make six on each side! They will not be finding out the gender ahead of time, so it'll be a long wait until we know if it is a girl or boy.

I have had the opportunity once before to take birth photos for an awesome friend of mine. Haley and Joe are also planning on allowing me to take birth photos for them.  I'm so excited! Of all of the photo shoots I've ever done, the birth photography (and the adoption photos I took once) was by far and away the most overwhelming and incredible to experience.  I can't wait to do it again!

Congratulations Haley, Joe, and Maybelle (are you supposed to congratulate dogs on their owner's pregnancy??)! This time will fly and that sweet baby will be here before you know it.

This was my favorite of the announcement photos.  The weather turned out to be perfect for what we wanted to do and this was such a fun way to showcase baby's first picture.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I'm Back!

Hi everybody!

It's been such a long time since I've written a post.  Life with 2 kids, a pet, a house and all of the responsibilities that go with that has just gotten in the way of my blogging.  I don't expect that I'll go back to blogging several times a week, or doing many reviews and such, but my goal for 2017 is to try to write a blog post at least once or twice a month.  Maybe if I'm lucky it will be even a little more often than that!

A lot has changed since my last post in 2014! The kids are now coming up on 7 and 5 years old! This fills me with mixed emotions.  I love that things are getting easier, they are becoming more independent, and we are able to do a lot more things as a family, but I do miss having really 'little ones' around.

Brennan is in 1st grade and loves school.  He is both an excellent student and friend.  He he does quite well with math and science (taking after Dad), but also is a good reader has has an incredible vocabulary and all around grasp of the English language (Mom's traits).  He loves Legos and still loves dinosaurs.  He is cute, smart, funny, witty, clever, strong, and a joy to have as a son.  I'm remarkably proud of him and the little man he's growing into.

Bryleigh is in Pre K-4 and just like her older brother, she LOVES school.  She loves her teacher, she loves her friends, she loves doing crafts, and she loves learning.  She has been doing an excellent job learning her letters and their sounds, and she's already had her numbers and colors down for quite a while already.  She likes dolls and all stuffed animals, being outside, and going to Gigi and Juju's house (grandma and grandpa). She is funny, incredibly caring and loving, girly, beautiful, kind of a spitfire, goofy, smart, and so wonderful to be around.  

The cat, Rocky, A.K.A. The Rock,  is doing well. He just turned 3 at the end of December and he definitely isn't lacking in attention or love.  He gave us quite a scare last summer when he disappeared for over a full day.  He had definitely been gone for several hours or for part of a night in the past, but he ALWAYS had come back for his meals!  We were so relieved when he showed back up completely unharmed and happy.

Ryan just started a new job, but he is still at the Mayo Clinic.  He is now a Technical Specialist in the specimen processing area of Mayo's Biorepository. This was a promotion he has been wanting for quite a while and I'm thrilled for him.  He no longer works as a volunteer EMT in town, but instead he is on the city's ambulance commission and gets to help to make decisions about how the ambulance service runs and functions.  He ran for city council in 2016, but unfortunately was not elected.  The competition was stiff with 12 people running for 3 positions!

Ryan and I have both officially joined the 30-something crowd.  I'm busy as always between being a stay-at-home Mom/Jane of all trades at home, my part-time photography business, and telecommuting part-time from home for a company in Dallas, TX.  I've done quite a few home improvement projects and well as countless different crafts during my blogging hiatus.  I also worked hard in an effort to change the animal ordinance in our town to allow for raising a small flock of chickens within city limits.  Though it was originally voted down for some very silly reasons, we are now starting the process over with the new city council that just took over this month.  I'm very hopeful that within a few months I might have a few chicken of my own!  Get ready to start handing out name suggestions!  But perhaps my next news is more exciting than chickens.  I became a God-Mother twice over to our good friends' second son, Jaxon, and to one of our nephews, Beau.  It was such an honor to be asked in both cases!

My oldest sister dressed as Santa for this fun Christmas shoot
that my other older sister did.
That leads into another huge thing that happened during my blogging break.  My oldest sister had triplets!  This was such an incredible blessing after they lost their first son during labor and delivery.  (I did blog on this before.)  The triplets were born in June 2015 and are now happy healthy 19 month olds!  There are 2 boys, Beau and Wyatt, and one girl, Savannah.  We love following along with their lives through all of the many Facebook photos and videos, but do wish it was easier to visit!  Texas and MN aren't the closest...

We've also gained another niece and nephew during my break!  Reagan is 15 months old and lives in Texas.  She's Ryan's brother's second daughter.  She's adorable and I hope to get to know her more through visits over the years.  Tyler is 11 months old and is Ryan's sister's 4th child.  He's got a killer smile and his siblings can't get enough of him.

Both Ryan's and my families are doing well.  My Dad had a hip replacement last year at 60 years old. It's made a miraculous difference in his life.  It had gotten so bad that he could barely limp around. SO glad he got it fixed!  

Libby just days before
her surgery.
My parents' dog, Libby, is now 13, coming up on 14 years old.  She had a very close brush with death this summer after suffering of Pyometra. Pyometra is a uterine infection.  It was unclear for quite a while what was actually going on with her, but it was very clear that she was near death.  My Mom decided to try the surgery, which is basically a hysterectomy, in hopes that she would pull through.  This was an incredibly hard decision considering that Libby was an old girl and had already lived a long, full life. It turns out that Mom made the right call because Libby recovered well from the surgery, and has been acting more like a puppy than she has in years.She's always dragging toys around, jumping, and skipping everywhere she goes.  We believe that she had actually had a minor infection for a few years that had been making her feel somewhat sick, because she's a new dog. Hopefully she has a few more great years!

Well, that's enough for now.  Hopefully that sort of brings you back up to speed.  I definitely want to go back and post some photos of the projects I've done and tell some more detailed stories of other things that have happened over the last couple of years, but this is a start!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Our New Playset!

The kids in this house have recently been spoiled.  We decided to purchase a play set for the backyard.  We weren't able to get it together immediately, but we finally got a free day on Sunday (I think) and used the day to work on it.  We got it finished and were so excited to show the kids!  Here are a few pictures of it and the kids using it.

Our selfie upon completion!

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Quick Catch Up!

It seems like every post that I've written lately starts out with an apology that it has been FOREVER since my last post.  Well, today I'm not going to apologize.  I'm just going to tell myself that I'm doing the best I can and that something has to give.  Lately, that something is the blog.  With all the constant work I have to do around the house, working part time Online, taking care of the kids (and trying to keep them entertained) all day, and lots of outdoor work/projects that we are trying to take care of this summer I just haven't had any time leftover for much of anything- much less blogging.  But this morning I found a few minutes and thought I would share a couple of recent things that have happened.

Our biggest and probably most exciting happening is our new addition- our cat, Rocky.  We decided that the kids were ready for a pet, and after a pretty extensive search, meeting a few different cats (most of which didn't really like kids:/) we finally found a little kitten that seemed like he would be a good match for us.  Kittens seem much more adaptable to kids and changes than a full grown cat would be.  Rocky was at our local humane society, and thought I kind of wanted to change his name, Brennan wouldn't allow it.  Rocky is the name of a member of the Paw Patrol, so his name stuck.  He has been working out well with our family and I'm glad we've been able to give him a good home.

Rocky is now a little over 5 months old and much bigger than in these first pictures!  Here is a more recent one.

Brennan is happy to announce that has moved up to 4-year old preschool for next year.  He will be going two half days per week and he is very excited!  His summer rec Tot Lot class begins this morning, too.  More excitement for him!

The kids are doing a better job of playing with each other lately, too.  Yes- they do still fight like cats and dogs sometimes, but quite often I can hear them playing and imagining together and I love to just quietly listen to them.

We have a lot of outdoor improvements planned for the summer- mainly getting our grass growing better, doing a little more landscaping in front of the house, building a fire pit in the edge of our woods, and doing lots of cleaning up of the dead trees and brush in our area of the woods, as well.  The kids are ready to help!

We are coming up on our 9th anniversary already on June 17th.  I can't believe where the time has gone!  Ryan will also be celebrating his 30th/Golden birthday this year.  If he thinks the old man jokes are bad now, he has no idea what he has in store! :)

I know this summer is going to be very busy, but I'm hoping I can find some time to write a few posts at least!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another Round of Birthdays!

 Well, I can barely believe it, but the kids both just gained a year.  Brennan is now a handsome, clever 4 year old and Bryleigh is a pretty 16 year old stuck in a 2 year old's body.  Time has sure flown. 

We had some nice, but low-key birthday parties for them and I just wanted to share a few pictures.

Brennan had a 'Paw Patrol' themed birthday, and honestly, we could have done a joint birthday party since they both LOVE Paw Patrol.  But it is fun to have a day that is all centered around you!  The Grandmas pitched in to help with Grandma Mary embroidering him a Paw Patrol shirt and Gigi (my mom, Grandma Sue) making the 'Marshall' cake.

And since we celebrated his birthday the day before his actual birthday, we decided to try to make his 'real birthday' supper a little more fun.  He had his favorite, peanut butter and chocolate (Nutella) and Mama surprised him with some candles in it. :)

For Bryleigh, we just did a hot pink and zebra theme.  Her Grandma Mary made the shirt and the bloomers and Mama made the hair clips. I also made her cake (a successful first with marshmallow fondant), which I'm quite proud of!



Monday, March 3, 2014

Our Reptile and Amphibian adventure

Last Saturday, one of our local libraries held a special event where they brought in lot of different reptiles and amphibians.  I'd been to a show like this before a long time ago when my niece and nephew were little, but never with my own kids.  When I heard about it, I knew Brennan would love it!
Brennan did really enjoy it.  The zookeeper brought 3 different kinds of an alligator, turtles, some crawly things like a toad, salmander, and legless lizard, and of course, the highlight of the event, the snakes.  During the show, Brennan had answered a snake question about an Anaconda (with a little help from Mom), so when it came time to find volunteers to hold a Boa Constrictor, the zookeeper was looking for Brennan!  He was VERY happy to help.  Ryan's really NOT a snake person, so it's funny that Brennan was so excited to do it.  Bryleigh even got pretty mad that she couldn't go hold the snake, too, and got to pet it later.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ella Bella Photography Backgrounds Review and Giveaway!

I've been using cloth backdrops for my indoor photography since before I even had a backdrop stand or 'real' backdrops.  They work fine- some better than others.  But still, I've been very interested in trying a paper backdrop.  I love how they look in pictures- so smooth, crisp, and clean.

To my delight, I was given the opportunity to do a product review of Pacon's Ella Bella Photography Backgrounds.  Ella Bella is an up and coming photo backdrop product that offers nice, affordable backdrops suitable for both amateur and professional photographers.  You can find out more about it, giveaways being offered, and get awesome photo tips by liking their Facebook page: Ella Bella's Facebook Page.

I received four different designs to try: Vintage Wood, Classic Damask, Dots- Soft Pink, and Dots- Soft Blue.  I really like them all.  Each would work wonderfully for different applications.  Pacon encourages the backdrops to be used for infant, child, and product photography or even video backdrops, etc.  They would also be great for any sort of close up photo or head shot, as well.  The Classic Damask would would be stunning for a young lady's senior pictures!

Set up was quite easy.  I just slid the tube onto my backdrop stand and used a clamp to hold the paper against the top bar so that it couldn't unroll. I laid another one of the backdrops on the floor, going under the other vertical one.  Then I set a piece of white baseboard that I had along the bottom to hide where the backdrops met.  I used another clamp on each end of the baseboard to hold the paper nice and tight against it.  All set up it looked beautiful!  I took a picture to show you how simple the set up really is.  You don't even need a backdrop stand to use this paper.  Just tape it up to a wall and shoot away.

My almost 4 year old son was anxious to help me try out the new set up.  He isn't always a huge fan of getting pictures taken, but the newness really helped.  Plus, he was pretty sure his dinosaurs wanted their pictures taken, too.

Here's what we got!

My daughter was up next.  She was wiggly and not real cooperative, but I got a few good shots of her, too.  One is frame-worthy.  I just need to decide where to put it!

The paper is pretty durable.  Of course, it is paper, so it can tear and wrinkle, but it seems like it takes a lot to make it do so.  I got a couple little tears on the bottom of the hanging background where I had the clamps on the baseboard, but only because my daughter dove into it before I could grab her!  But even with that dive, it made no creases in the paper.

Besides the gorgeous prints, the thing that impressed me the very most about this backdrop paper is how non-see-through it is!  That is one of the things that frustrates me most about using my fabric backdrops.  You can always see light through them.  I could see NOTHING through the paper. It was wonderful.  Actually there was a window behind part of the backdrop and you couldn't make it out at all!

The price of the paper is also great!  You can pick up a roll of backdrop paper at Hobby Lobby for only $11.99.  Use one of their 40% off coupons and pick that same roll up for only $7.19!  Yeah!  This product is definitely a winner!  For that price, everyone should keep a roll around.  What an easy way to improve the look of the snapshot you take of your kids, pets, products you are selling on eBay, etc!

Pacon has generously offered to give away another 4 rolls of backdrop paper to one lucky winner!  Good luck!

*I was given this product for review purposes.  All of my opinions about this product are solely my own.  Your opinions may differ.  I was not compensated to write this post in any way.*