Friday, December 30, 2016

Catching Up!!!

I haven't been posting my photos like I used to. So, I decided to do some catching up. Here are some of the scenery photos I have done. 

Fall is here!
Monsoon season is winding down.

Photos of the Verde Valley from Jerome, Az. This is a place everyone needs to see!

Photos from on top of Mingus Mountain of the Verde Valley.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016!!!!

Thanksgiving has come and gone again for another year. We had a great time with family and friends. We tried starting our day with the parade like we do every year, but the kids quickly got bored so it didn't last long. Plus, we got busy right away with preparations of food and table settings. My daughter, Ashley, has the job of setting the table and she loves it. She won't let anyone else do it! The past couple of years she has also taken on the job of making apple pie. She is very successful at it!! My other daughter, Hailey, has her jobs each year of preparing the relish tray, cranberries, buns, and of course lefse. If you don't know what lefse is you are missing out on a real Norwegian treat.
The easiest way to explain it is it looks like a tortilla made with potatoes. You dress it with butter and
 sugar or brown sugar, roll it up, and enjoy! Yum!

The boys, Brendan and Adam, help with odds and ends such as bringing in extra chairs, tables, or running out to the freezer or fridge in the garage to get us this or that. I, of course, have a very important job. I cook all the traditional yummy foods. My hubby usually has the job of cooking the turkey though. We have for years used a turkey fryer to cook our turkey. We tried it once and were sold and have done it that way since. Except this year, he got the day off because some sweet friends who joined us for Thanksgiving, brought the turkey. It was a special treat!!

After we ate and cleaned up and refilled the dishwasher for about the 3rd time, hehe, we sat down and enjoyed a movie or visited until our tummies could endure a piece of pie. I went away from the traditional pies a bit and added a chocolate chip cookie pie for my hubby. His favorite dessert is obviously, chocolate chip cookies. Lol. We also had pumpkin, which is a must, as well as Ashley's apple pie. It was all wonderful.

We ended our day by saying good bye to our friends and thanking them for the incredible turkey, and then drew names for Christmas. The kids love this part! They look forward to getting and also giving gifts. We set a budget and everyone updates the gift list I keep on our main computer to make buying a little easier. Of course, Mark and I exceed the budget a bit and buy a little extra for the kids. We don't go crazy though because we don't want it to become a greedy time of the year. We want it to be special and fun and another fond memory as a family who loves and works together.

I am so thankful for my family. I think I thank God everyday for them. I feel like I have done what I wanted to do when I see them get so excited about days like Thanksgiving. I pray it will always be a day they will look forward to.  I pray yours was a day with fond memories as well! Until next year, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mistakes Parents Make!!!

Every morning I start out my day by reading a devotional. I have a great Bible app that has hundreds of them and that is where I got the info for this post. It is a devotional called 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid by Tim Elmore. I thought it had a lot of good information. Some of
it was a reminder and some of it was very convicting. I decided to share what I learned. 

I learned that it is ok for my kids to fail sometimes. It doesn't mean they are not going to be successful adults but failure actually helps them learn to be strong adults. The problem is I don't want my kids to hurt and I want them to be happy all the time. I want them to look back on this part of life with wonderful memories. That is what every parent wants, isn't it? It is, but I learned that my kids need the bad with the good. They need consequences for their actions and if I just keep telling them next time there will be a consequence but don't follow through, I am hurting them not giving them happy wonderful memories. They learn so much through consistency and discipline. 

This next point I see way too often in our society now days. We give our kids what they should be earning. With technology the way it is, kids a getting and getting and getting without doing anything to earn all this visual stimulation. Again, we want our kids to be happy and if Joey next door has the latest and greatest we don't want our kids to be left out or teased for living in the stone age. When they earn a new Ipod, they appreciate it so much more. They value it and take much better care of it. 
There has been a great debate over whether or not to give kids an allowance. I don't think there is any right answer to this debate it just depends on your own family. We give an allowance and it has proven to be a great tool in teaching our kids the value of money. We now have 2 older kids who have more money than we do sometimes in their savings accounts. There are things we buy them but there are things we draw the line and say they need to buy for themselves. It really has taught them so much! We also have our kids do chores around the house. In our family we feel that it is important for everyone to pitch in to help this home run smoothly. We all have a part to play.

Along the same lines as what I have already mentioned, we have a tendency to do things for our kids. Ok, my hand is raised. I do this! I admit it! I have been known to go back over a chore so it is done the way I like. Or when showing them how to do something, before I know it I have done the whole thing and then said "See? That's how it is done." What did they learn? If they step back long enough, mom will do the whole job. Lol! Ugh! Again, I want my kids to be happy, but what am I teaching them by helping them more than they need. So, I have stepped back and let them figure it out on their own. I find now that I look forward to those moment when I can teach them to do something by having them do it on their own. I am growing up too! Lol

Lastly, this really hit me. Do you know how a mother eagle parents her young? It is very interesting and we could learn a lot from her. When her young are first hatched, she lines her 6 foot wide nest with her own feathers to make it super soft. She is nurturing her young. As they grow, she begins to remove her feathers to make her nest become a little less comfy but instead more prickly. It's as if she is saying "Don't get too comfortable here." As they get bigger still, she begins to flap her wings to prepare them for when she starts pushing them to the edge of the nest.                                                                                                                                                                (photo by 

And finally, when she feels they are old enough to go out on their own she pushes them out of the nest and then swoops to catch them over and over again until they learn to fly! I love this picture of parenting! She didn't read any books or blogs on parenting. She just does what God put in her to do by instinct. We should parent in this way! 

No matter how you parent remember one thing. Your child spends about 3000 hours a year with you. Yes, 3000! That is a lot of hours they are learning what we are and what we are not teaching them. Use those precious hours wisely. I know I am going to! 

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Sunday, September 11, 2016

In the Pursuit of Happiness!

I am so guilty of trying to live a life in pursuit of happiness. What is discouraging is that I heard that happiness is elusive and if you live your life trying to find it you will often be disappointed. Sigh! What does the world say happiness is? Money, success, material possessions, sex, relationships or the need to be in one.....the list goes on and on. These things can provide happiness for a short time but it is not long term happiness. 

Image result for happinessThen I learned that there is a difference between happiness and joy. I always thought they were one in the same, but I was wrong. The definitions are even similar, but in life they are very different. Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes depending on the situation. Joy is more than a feeling. It is a knowing that even when times are tough, life is still good and we are going to get through. Joy can still be there even if we don't feel happy at that moment. 

My devotional the other day told me that one way to experience joy is to love others as myself. Well, that is not easy. I spent a good part of my life not even liking myself. That wouldn't be nice to treat others the way I treated and talked to myself in my own mind. Ugh! But that changed as I got older. The things I didn't like about myself didn't seem as important and I began to see myself in a new way. This is all because of  God's grace and love. Now I can love others as I do myself, but it still isn't easy. People can be rude, self seeking and down right mean. How do I love them?  I pray and ask for help. I can't do that myself. But I can do it with the help of the one who strengthens me and loves me like no one else could.

God will also protect your joy from being stolen. The Bible says there is an enemy of our souls that seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). One of the first things he tries to steal is our joy. He wants us to be happy in this world but true joy comes from above and he doesn't want us to have that. He wants us to choose this world over God. The world provides moments of happiness and maybe even joy, but only God can provide a joy that never leaves despite the situation. 

I do continue on my pursuit of happiness, but I seek it out much differently than I used to. I look in my Bible and devotions and prayer times for joy and happiness. God has not let me down yet because He is the one who invented joy. Ask Him to show you His true joy and then watch for it. You won't be disappointed!!!  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Throwback Thursday!!!!

I love this photo! Such a sweet face! I did this photo session 3 years ago. This is one of my favorites from that session. She was smiling for mommy. Precious!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Please contact me on Facebook or at my email for more info.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Praying for Our Needs!

I have mentioned in past blog posts that I like to save money. I grew up in a home that didn't have a lot of money so I learned about using coupons and comparison shopping for the best prices. I admit we have gone on spending binges, but only little ones. Lol!

 I decided to write this blog post about spending because of a recent situation in our home. We were told that my hubby's car is in need of some really expensive repairs. When we bought this car we found it online by a private buyer who was selling it at a great price. Well, when we were told that the repairs were going to cost about the same as what we paid for the car we decided that it is not an option to fix it. We would not get that money back out of the car and the car is not worth what we would put into it. It still runs for now, so we continue to use it. So, what is our plan of action? Prayer. We began to pray for God's guidance in this situation. 

Let me back up a little bit. A few years ago we took a finance class that I recommend to anyone. It is called Financial Peace University. This class teaches about what the Bible says about money and gives steps to get out of debt and stay out. We have been working on these steps for some time now. We are very close to being out of debt aside from our mortgage. Right now we have no car payment and                                       want to keep it that way. 
It would be easy to go out and get financing for a different vehicle. The interest rates are great right now so the payment would be low and there are so many options for great family vehicles out there. But, that is not how we want to do it. 
We have some money in our savings, but not enough to buy something decent. So, I go back to us praying. By the way, this was not our last resort. This was the first thing we did. As we prayed, we came to the conclusion that a loan was not the way to go. 
God says in the Bible that he will provide for all of our needs and knows what we need before we even do. 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:25-34

We are going to trust in his provision, because we know he already has a car
picked out for us. In his timing he will provide the funds as well. How do I know? Because he created the heavens and the Earth, so he can whip up a car in no time. He also owns everything, a car is something he can afford. ;)

I am writing this also, so those who read it will be able to know and see how God does provide for his people. It is not easy to wait. I want to jump in the car and go get that financing and the car I want, but then where is his hand in that? I want this to be on him. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts.

          "Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
                    Commit your way to the Lord;
                  trust in him and he will do this:" Psalms 37:4-5

 He loves us and loves to give us things. Plus, I want what he wants for us. He knows much better what car will be best and work best for our families needs. We may make the wrong decision if we just run out and buy what we want. I will keep you updated on the situation so you can see how He provides. 
Money problems are one of the top issues in families and our nation today.
According to a study done in 2015 by, the average household has $130,922 in debt with credit cards being $15,762 of it. There is a way out and it isn't too late to start. 
If you want to learn more about FPU, simply go to It hasn't been an easy road but it sure has been fulfilling! 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Where Are the Department Store Portrait Studios?

This is a photo from my last session. My client informed me that she had been going over an hour away to get her daughters photos done because the department stores who used to have portrait studios do not have them anymore in our area. She liked that she could save money on her photos at these convenient studios. 
 Well, for anyone else who misses those department store studios, I can help you out. I offer a package that includes 5 poses saved to a CD for only $69. I wish I could offer $8.99 like the others did, but I can't. I do offer 4 more poses than they did and the ability to make as many prints and sizes needed of each pose. Those department store studios did not offer that!! ;)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Letting Go!!!!

I don't usually do this but I am going to share something I wrote after God woke me up and wouldn't let me go back to sleep until I wrote it. He is a bit persistent sometimes. Lol
I wrote a blog post not too long ago about the empty nest or preparing for it. He woke me up with something that I was going through related to this topic. This is what I wrote:

We all experience loss at some point in our lives....loss of a loved one; loss of jobs; loss of health. Those are pretty obvious losses. And then there is the losses that are not so obvious.
Those life changes that involve loss but we don't even realize we have lost something. Things like moving to a new home or town, graduating high school, or having your first child. You are excited and happy because you are gaining something but deep down there is a sense of loss that we often cannot pinpoint. We often call these times bitter/sweet.

        (Sesame Street)

                                                                                                              (happy face clipart)

What am I getting to? I am on the verge of having 2 adult children. When my kids were very young, I thought if  we made it through this (which had to be the hardest part) and we raised them right, they would make most of the right decisions and go on to be successful adults and I could retire from parenthood happy and rich in memories of a job well done. It was that easy!

It turns out it is not that cut and dried! It does not get easier the older they get. It gets more complicated!
Right now, I am at a crossroads. I can continue to be mommy, but risk hindering what they need to learn for themselves or I can step back and let God teach them through life what they didn't learn from us. Sounds like an easy decision to me, but it isn't. Stepping back means giving them back to God to be the parent. But I am the mommy! I have held this position for over 20 years. It feels as if someone is saying "We're sorry, Maam, or should I say Mom, your services are no longer needed." What?! I have put so much time and energy in this project, and now you are telling me I am no longer needed? (Or at least it feels that way!) This is the loss I was talking about that I didn't realize I was going through. I thought I was gaining freedom, which I am, so why does it hurt so much?

My kids don't need me as much. I need to step away and let God take over and I think it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I want to go back to the simple times where I taught and they learned and if they did wrong there was a consequence. If they fell, I kissed them and picked them back up. Oh they will still need me from time to time but not in the same way. I am grieving this loss, and just as in any other loss, there is a grieving process that I have to let run its course. I  will not learn what the heavenly Father has for me to learn if I don't.

So, I reluctantly gather my belongings and place them in a box and leave my office. I know I will be called
upon if and when I am needed again. I know, so dramatic, isn't it. Lol. Well, hey, it was the middle of the night.
                                                                                               (Bethel gospel radio)
To sum this up, we lose and gain in this life all the time and God has a gift in each and every loss and gain we go through. We need to take the time with Him to see what that gift is. Believe me, it is priceless! I am still in the middle of this process and He is right there walking me through it all. Teen and adult children are hard! We aren't meant to do this alone. The Lord created them and put them in your care for a reason. But at a certain age, He takes them back to continue what we have begun. I trust that He knows how to parent much better than me, so Lord, they are all yours!                                                                                                                                        

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Got the Shot!!!!

I went outside last night for a few minutes and saw this great photo op. I ran back in the house and grabbed my camera! I got it! I got the shot!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4th of July 2016

We had a great time celebrating the 4th of July with some great friends. The guys played some basketball and us women sat and chatted or took a walk. The weather was beautiful. The kids had fun with their friends! It was a perfect day! I took some photos of the beautiful fireworks. Here's to perfect Summer days!!!!

Creating a Legacy: Family Fun!!!!!

We all have those family times in our childhood that we remember fondly. Those family vacations or events that are in our hearts forever. These times are part of what makes us who we are and what we love to do by ourselves or in families of our own. Some of mine were camping trips, church outings, and family or friends we spent time with.

There were things I knew I wanted to do when I grew up and had my own family. I am so big on traditions and making memories. My kids will probably have more memories than their brains can store. Lol! But I guess that isn't such a bad thing. In this blog post, I would like to share some of the things my family does to keep us close and create a legacy for our kids.

I have a larger family than the typical American family, so we always have a budget. When the kids were younger we had what we called a Family Fun Bag! This bag contained little slips of paper with all sorts of different family activities on them. We tried to keep them very low budget. Such as making rootbeer floats or ice creams sundaes, have a movie theater night, or play games.
Saturday was our designated family day. We would start with a family discussion time. We would discuss all sorts of different topics that pertain to our family, such as, treating your siblings with respect or where should we spend our next family vacation. We followed these discussions with whatever was chosen out of the family fun bag. It gets harder to keep up with as the kids get older and are off in different directions, but it was valuable to our family!
If you would like me to give you more family fun ideas, please message me and I will send you a list to make your own bag. The internet is also a great resource for ideas.

As I said earlier, one of my fond memories as a kid was camping. I carried this on into my own family. We used to camp almost every weekend. Camping can be inexpensive, but can get expensive very quickly, so again we had our budget. We have had campers and we have had tents. The only type of camping I haven't done is sleeping right under the stars. Not my thing! hehe Unfortunately, as each one of our kids got to be
about 15 or 16, camping was no longer family fun. It turned into whining and pouting and "do I really have to go?" So, we invested in a timeshare. I know....timeshares have gotten such a bad rap. Well, I am here to say that it has been a huge blessing to our family. We can go on family getaways and the kids really enjoy it and we don't hear anymore whining or pouting until its time to go home. The condos have kitchens, so I plan a menu and we save money by not eating out everyday. We go to places that are within driving distance to save on airfare. Airfare x 6 = no money left in the bank!  Timeshares are not something to just jump into without doing some homework but I do think it is worth looking into. Again, if you would like more info about them, please message me. 

We like to go hiking, take a day trip to a nearby town or have a picnic in the park. We pretend we are camping at home by spending the day outside playing games and roasting hotdogs over a fire. 

No matter what your budget or family size, making memories is not only possible, but in my mind a necessity.
You are leaving a legacy for your children whether you intend to or not, so why not make it one that lasts a lifetime and can be passed on and on. This is priceless!!!!

In my next blog post, I will talk about the many traditions in our family. I don't mean just holidays, I mean traditions we keep. Some are weekly, some are monthly, some are yearly. Until, then, keep making those family memories!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Preparing for the Empty Nest

Today's topic is preparing for the empty nest. My nest will not be empty for at least another 6 years, but I see signs of it on the horizon. We have kids ranging in age from 20 down to 12.  

Our 20 year old, Ashley, just graduated with her associates in Equine Practition. Now she is looking for a job.
Our 17 year old son, Brendan, just got his first job. How he is going to tackle working as well as being a Senior in high school, once school begins again, I don't know. I guess we will see when the time comes. Our 14 year old daughter, Hailey, just graduated 8th grade and is moving on to high school next year and our 12 year old caboose, Adam, is going into his second year of middle school. I can't believe how they have grown1

Family trips have changed as well. Ashley has stayed home to work while the rest of us are enjoying a vacation.  This one is hard. Part of what I love about family vacations is watching the kids have fun and when one is not there, well there is something.....or someone missing.

Then there is the boyfriend!!!!! Yep, Ashley has been in a relationship for over a year now. They have talked
marriage, but want to wait a couple years! Yes, please wait! I am not ready for that yet! Right now she lives with us to save money for her future but we can't keep her forever.

 Brendan will be a Senior in the coming school year. He has already been talking about living here while he goes to the 2 year college in our area and then moving out and pursuing more school after that. I am so glad he is planning, but it is strange to hear. 

Driving 3 hours to see boyfriend all by herself!!!!!! 

All indicators that the kids are growing up and beginning their own lives!
Don't get me wrong! I do think this is all great! I am proud of my kids! But who am I now? I had to ask myself that question. Who am I? Am I still a mom? Do they still need me? I need to start letting them go and figuring out who I am without them. Who am I when I don't have anyone but my hubby to cook for? Who am I when I only have to do a few loads of clothes a week instead of everyday? Who am I when I no longer hear them call me mommy? Ugh, I want to cry! No! This is what being a mom is all about!

So, I have pulled myself together and started to tackle this new life that is not so far away. 
My hubby and I have started doing more alone together. We need to figure out who we are as husband and
wife without kids hanging on us. 
We have also started talking about our future and what we would like to do when we have more time and money! It has been rather fun dreaming about it!

I still get sad at times, but I know that I will make it through this adjustment just as I did all the other adjustments in my life. My kids have been such an amazing part of it, but they are just a part. There is so much more I have put up on a shelf until I have more time. Well, it is time to take some of them down and dust them off. 
This might be fun! I get to know God, my husband, and me in a whole new way! I can do this!
Phillipians 4:13 says "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Amen!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Video Gaming......yay or nay?

Video games......good or bad? Pros and cons? Yay or Nay? What a controversy! Ok so maybe not! I know of homes who don't have them. I know of homes that do have them but put a limit on them. And I know of homes who have them and have no limit. Whichever home you live in, video games are here and I think they are here to stay. There is such a huge market for them that our stores are busting at the seams with the games themselves and everything else they can sell with a photo or logo on it referencing gaming.

We have them in my home. We have an Xbox 360, a Wii, Nintendo Ds, Playstation 2 (I think), and Ipads.
Whew! That almost hurt trying to think of them all and I probably forgot something. But......we put a limit on playtime. I have set up a system that I feel works well. Here it is:

   *During the school year the kids are allowed 30 minutes a day of video game time. Friday and Sunday are free game days, so they can play unlimited games those days.

   *During the Summer or other times off from school they still get free play on Fridays and Sundays and their 30 minutes a day but they can also earn more time by either going outside and play or doing chores around the house. The time it takes to do a chore or play outside is the time they earn doing video games. This one can be tricky though. When I first came up with this idea, I thought maybe I had made a terrible mistake. My kids went outside for about 3 hours. I was so happy! They were actually playing outside, which I had come to think was a lost art. And then I realized oh no, what did I do? Now I have to let them play for 3 hours straight. Their brains are going to melt! Ok so a bit dramatic!
But on the other hand, I was not listening to "mom I'm bored" and they were actually going outside and playing. They were getting exercise and using their imaginations! Maybe it was worth it! I get what I want and they get what they want! I don't know if this is the best way to deal with it, but it works for us.

My 17 year old son and I had a conversation
this morning about this system. He feels he is too old to have to follow it. How could I compromise with him? How could we both get what we want out of this? We made a deal that if he spent some time outside with his siblings each day and did his chores like he should then I would let him determine his own video game time. When I stop and think about it, he doesn't spend all day playing like the younger ones do on their free days. So I guess I can cut him some slack! Plus I figure it won't be long before he will be on his own and there won't be much I can say. I better start loosening the grip now.

                                                                                   (Ok so the photo does not even come close to                                                                                                depicting me and my teenage son, but I thought it                                                                                                             was cute. LOL)

Video games I think have gotten a bad rap. I believe in moderation and like movies, I monitor what they are allowed to play. So, whether you are a gaming family or not, this is how my family deals with this one form of technology that is here to stay. Oh but there are so many others! We can talk about them later! Until then, happy gaming!