Sunday, December 27, 2009

• Merry {be-lated} CHRISTmas! •

Wow... the last couple of weeks have just been a whirlwind! I did most all of my Christmas shopping online (what a breeze!). Amazon Prime membership gave me free 2nd day shipping and no tax! I saved tons of money! If you're a shop-a-holic you gotta get an Amazon Prime Membership! It's well worth it. I had a few last minute gifts and stocking stuffers to buy and managed to do that on Christmas Eve, in between running to family dinners. We went to my grandma's for lunch and my mom's for dinner. The kids were excited for Christmas even though they knew mom was cutting back on the gifts this year. After the year we've had, missions trips and our eyes and hearts being opened up to the needs of soooo many people that we never thought of, it seemed senseless to spend lots of money on meaningless gifts that will be broken or thrown away or outdated in a year or so.

I once again spent Christmas Eve night wrapping gifts. Up until today there have been no presents under our tree and the kids haven't minded one bit. They know mom procrastinates on wrapping and Tanner is the only one who was even a little concerned (for a six year old I'd say this was pretty good). He just kept reminding me once Christmas break from school started how many days I had left to get his presents. :o) lol
Christmas morning came all too early. Tyler woke me up at 5, 6 and then finally at 8 a.m. when the other two joined forces with him we had no choice but to give in and open presents. :o) Tanner got his leapster he wanted, a snowboard and the G-Force movie he wanted. We watched it three times on Christmas day..... "Poop in his hand! Poop in his hand!" will be stuck in my head for MONTHS. Literally.
All Taylor ever asks for is books... and movies. So, she got a bunch of books that she has been wanting to read, and a few movies to add to her stash. She says when she leaves home, lives on her own and can't afford cable, she'll have a huge library of things to watch. Her favorites this year that she got were "The Notebook" and "Amazing Grace" and we added "Faith Like Potatoes" to her new favorite list. Pretty cool movies. She has a heart like no other.
Tyler seems to get some of the oddest gifts from everyone else in his family and even friends, but leave it to mom and dad to know what his favorites are. He got a DVD player all his own, board and card games and a couple of movies of his own. Did I mention we also watched Night at The Museum at least twice already....
We had winter storm warnings and went to bed on Christmas Eve with the snow starting to fall and within 24 hours were snowed in. Eric spent the day after Christmas blading the driveway and gathering wood. We got stuck in the driveway and the yard. Finally gave up and decided we really didn't need to go anywhere and have been hibernating.
See... hibernating in his man-made snow cave. I don't know how many inches of snow we got but it was nothing 'major' for a Missouri winter. However the wind has created some massive drifts around our house and farm. The kids have had a ball playing in the snow.
And mom.... well, I've been playing with my new Christmas present! Daddy got me a new serger so I could sew a bit more productively and stop cursing the crafting serger I was trying to use on clothing. I never really realized just how awesome a 'real' serger could be. Holy cow!!! I'm having a blast making clothes right and left. Lots of new dresses have been made, headbands and a new birthday outfit for a best friend's little China doll who will enjoy her very first birthday in about two weeks as an American Citizen! I'm excited! Let me clarify that.... her 4th birthday, but it's her first one with her forever family in America. :o)
I've been having so much fun making clothes and started an etsy shop (see the link in the sidebar), and creating a blog/website to sell boutique clothing as a fundraiser for our adoption advocacy mission. I hope someday the funds will be for my own adoption but if not.... I'm sure God will send us a family that is in need of financial assistance for their own adoption and I'm looking forward to being able to help provide. :o) If you want a sneak peak at the website, visit  Remember it's a work in progress of lots left to be done. But I'm uber excited about it!!! Share the link with your friends!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

[ Awesome Weekend ]

This weekend was very special to me. It was spent with friends who I consider family now. When we traveled to Haiti this past summer on our mission trip we met and took along Barb to surprise her daughter Bobi for her birthday. Meeting Barb was like finding a friend that I'd lost as a child and reconnected with like we'd never been apart. Her daughter is an amazing and beautiful young woman that has done nothing but missions for her adult life. Listening to Barb tell the story of how she knew this was what Bobi was meant to do will give you goosebumps. But that's a story for another time.
Bobi and Marcus met this summer during their mission work. They fell in love and decided to marry in just three short months. But it's just as God designed it to be. Bobi shared her heart with us this summer and how she was so discouraged about not finding someone to share her life with and wondering how that would ever happen while she was in a third world country. Doing God's work leaves you completely at His mercy. He will provide. He did provide. The beauty part is Marcus has the same heart for missions and the children of Haiti that Bobi does and even though they returned to the states to share their wedding with family and friends they will return 'home' to Haiti after the holidays. It's where they belong right now, and home.... well, that's wherever they are together. ♥
Marcus and his brother are so funny. I could see how easy it was for Bobi to fall in love with such a man with a heart for God and a kindness that pours out of him and his family. They are wonderful people.
I hadn't been to a 'holiday' wedding in YEARS. But I distinctly remember the first time. It was beautiful and Bobi's wedding was even more breathtaking than the last one. Candles and Christmas trees lit the sanctuary. It was very simple, yet elegant. Just like a fairytale. I cried....
Yes, I'm a sap at weddings, how I ever get through photographing them I'll never know. I'm usually wiping tears from my face, but at least I can hide somewhat behind my camera. It's even worse when I know the bride (or groom) personally. Yes, I blubbered like a baby at times yesterday. Lord help me when it's my daughter's turn. :)
I can't begin to tell you what these two women mean to me. I will cherish them and their friendship always and thank God for bringing our lives together. That was the bonus of the weekend on top of everything wedding..... friends from Haiti came home to the states for the wedding. Leslie and Elsie were there. It was so great to see them. So made me miss Haiti so. Time will take me there again. That part I know is in God's plan. I can't wait for the day to arrive that I can say "this is the day I fly to Haiti again."

I'm hoping to soon switch into Christmas mode, but with all these beautiful distractions I may never get around to Christmas shopping. Yep.... you read that right. Twelve days before Christmas and I haven't begun my shopping. And don't intend to anytime soon. For one thing, I don't like shopping and another.... it drives my kids crazy that there are no presents under our tree. lol :o) yes, I'm evil like that. I hold out on sharing the loot as long as possible, no need to get them crazy and driving me nuts asking is it this is it that.... bigger than a breadbox? Smaller than a basketball? 'Cause again....half the fun is never wrapping something in the size of box it requires. Always go bigger or scrunch things in smaller boxes if possible. Anyway..... tired and delirious from the weekend. My gift to the bride and groom was being the photographer. A job I loved tremendously, but forgot how much it tires me out and makes my feet ache.... I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

[ Snow Day! ]

Today was our first official snow day! The boys were up bright and early and Tanner was so anxious to get to the snow. We never did get Taylor out of bed to play, I guess being a teenage girl must really be stressful and wear a person out. Cause she was still sleeping by lunch time. Lazy bum...
I don't know who had more fun playing in the snow, Eric, the boys or the dog! I've seen video clips and youtube clips with bulldogs riding on skateboards etc, but when it really happens to you it is drop dead funny! We laughed so hard at Tater trying to catch the kids on the sled and then jumping on top of them and riding along. He even took a turn by himself but by the time I turned to catch it with my camera he had hopped off again and was chasing the kids. I think we wore him out too.
Our homemade redneck sled is nothing but a good 'ole dumpster lid tied to the four-wheeler. Of course Eric takes it a bit slower with Tanner but it's nothing less than a challenge to see if he can throw Tyler (and Taylor when she plays with us) off. You could hear him scream from time to time... watch out dad!! You almost made me hit the....wood pile, tree, water hydrant, fence, swingset. Most kids would jump off at the first sign of fear but it's a game of chicken with my kids and their dad who will cry uncle first. Eventually Eric wins and the kids are thrown off, mostly from laughing so hard and losing their grip. Either way, it's great fun for me to watch the whole thing. And of course take pictures. :) My favorite time to take pictures outside (besides fall) is in the white fluffy snow! Makes the best reflector of course, but it's just plain fun! Everything seems to pop. Eyes, little red cheeks and bright colored snow suits. (not to mention my husband's favorite hunter orange stocking cap.... ) We're not the most fashion conscious people you'll ever meet. Just rednecks from the country who love snow days. It's nice that dad has a job where he can play hookie with us and have fun just because.
I set my camera up on the woodpile (on a very dry cardboard base thank you), and had the boys take pictures with me. Tanner wanted to work the remote and take some of us so I explained the button. Which of course will not stop clicking if you don't let go of it!!! I think he ended up taking about 150 pics before I realized it wasn't shutting off and ran to stop it. However it records every shutter and won't stop until it has completed the task at hand. I had to shut it off, remove the battery and flash card just to get it to stop. I deleted the 50 plus shots of my butt running to the camera to end the madness. ;o) He doesn't smile until he realizes what he has done and then grins from ear to ear, got too close to the camera for the focus to work and made faces at it laughing hysterically. Ahhhh...... boys.
We all came in to dry off, be lazy and enjoy the rest of the day. Eric is taking his afternoon nap, the boys have been playing games and uploading pictures to facebook and I'm thinking I feel the urge to sew some more. I'm making little girls clothes out the wazoo, some for gifts, some for fundraisers. And I'm lovin' it! So much fun. I set a turkey breast out and think we'll have turkey and mashed potatoes and noodles for supper. Which means the kids and dad will expect homemade bread to go along with it so I better get my hiney in gear and get to cookin' something. I think the boys are headed out to play in the snow again.

There's nothing like a good old fashioned snow day in the country. :o)

Monday, December 7, 2009

[ Shopping With a Cause ]

The Christmas season is upon us! I don't know about you, but I have yet to dive into my shopping! I dread it for so many reasons. We no longer buy gifts for the adults in our family and only buy for children (our own and nieces and nephews). This year I want to do something different, when I shop and buy something (if I don't make it myself) I want it to be something with a deeper meaning and purpose than just something I grabbed at the last minute from the shelf at the department store. Below are some links and photos of items that would make great gifts but also support wonderful charities or families adopting so .... shop without guilt!!!! Know that money you spend not only buys a gift for your loved one, but provides funds for others to bring their loved ones home to forever families. :) Shop till you drop!!! I dare ya! :o) (and just a little heads up.... soon to come, we're making our own little boutique shop with goodies for the same purpose! Future gift giving ideas will be found at Pish Posh Tots too!!!)

Need hair bows, look no farther! So cute and so unique and for a great cause!

Beads For Life The beaders and tailors are primarily impoverished women who are hardworking, intelligent, and strong in their desire to improve their lives. They make gorgeous handcrafted paper beads from recycled paper and turn them into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Because the beaders use recycled, colorful paper, the beads help prevent environmental degradation. What was trash becomes beauty, money, food, and hope.

Last year I gave these SUUBI beads as end of the year teacher gifts and for Christmas! They are very cool and go with so many things and support the women of Uganda! There are also other items for sell here.

This talented mom has the cutest baby slings I have ever seen and they are affordable! Stock up even if you don't need on enow because they make great baby gifts and help fund their adoption!!

This talented adoptive mom and grandma makes beautiful jewelry and You can keep up with her on her blog as well!

These are the cutest shoes ever!!! You buy one pair and then purchase straps is additional patterns! Go and read about the wonderful things they are doing in Uganda and support them by SHOPPING!!
What a WIN-WIN

Hand knit in Alaska and 100% goes towards their domestic adoption fund. If you are aware of a mother looking to place her baby for adoption this family's profile can be seen here!

It's Poppy Dip
Here you will find some of the cutest and most affordable outfits for your little girls! Sallee is the blessed mom of 5--3 bio and 2 adopted from Ethiopia! She is sewing these beautiful clothes to raise money for their 3rd adoption! SHOP! SHOP! SHOP!!! These are photos of my girls enjoying their Poppy Dip outfits!

Need cute Christmas cards, birth announcements? This creative mama is using her gifts and talents to raise funds for their adoption. All you have to do is pick out what you like, insert your photos and info and them have them printed! SOOOOO Cute!

who doesn't like coffee..... even if you don't buy it knowing that 100% of proceeds are reinvested into the lives of orphaned children!

147 Million Orphans
Here you can find cute hats, shirts sweats, bags, jewelry....and each purchase tells you how many orphans in Uganda will be fed with each purchase! Knowing that makes shopping fun!! Adopting families can also sell their shirts as fundraisers for their individual adoption!

This family is beading their way back to China for a little sister because their son has convinced them that is where she is!

JUSTLOVE If you love coffee you can buy free trade coffee here and part of the proceeds help build a school for older children in Ethiopia. If you are an adopting family you can also sell their coffee as a fundraiser!

This family is selling some really cool shirts, bracelets ,etc to raise funds for their African adoption!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

[ So Much to be Thankful For ]

The week surrounding Thanksgiving had been very busy and the days following pretty hectic too. Sorry I haven't been around much. We had big plans for Thanksgiving that fell through, but enjoyed staying home with our kids and just being with our family and playing board games with the kids and eating all day. I cooked from sun up til sun down and we played games at the same time and through the evening. I got to sew and enjoy time away from work. Being self-employed and enjoying what I do (being a photographer) it's hard to pull myself away from work and separate. There's always something fun to do in photoshop or things to look up and research on the internet, or just surfin' other photogs sites for inspiration. It was nice not to touch a computer all day long. :)The one thing we ask the kids to do on Thanksgiving was before playing games and forgetting why we should all be thankful they needed to find and share their favorite bible verse on being thankful. I quickly learned even more reasons why I'm thankful for the wonderful children God has blessed me with. Taylor wrote down four different verses, so I picked my favorite from her list:

"You received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live as Christ's people. Sink your roots in him and build on him. Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving."
--Colossians 2:6-7

Tyler shared his verse and then told me what to write down, but the verse number was wrong. :s So when he gets home from school I'll have to have him look for the right numbers to share. it was awesome too. My kids are such a blessing I'm so thankful for EVERYDAY.

Then came the weekend and I moved my studio to a new location. I hate moving but it was a beautiful day and I had lots of help so it went pretty smoothly all things considered. My new studio is going to be awesome if I ever get everything put away and sets designed. I've got lots of plans. One of my favorite parts about the new studio is that I have a small sitting room that I decorated for our adoption ministry. The girls and I are still advocating for orphans and planning things for the community. We're sewing away for fundraisers and the room I set up is very homey and has all the adoption application packets, pamphlets of information, the lending library and the boutique with children's clothing. It's awesome. And probably my favorite part about the new studio. I've combined the best of both worlds, and those two things God blesses me with I love sharing with everyone I meet. Adoption and Photography. What could be better?! :o) I'll post pictures soon when I get all the debris and empty boxes hauled out and I'm completely settled in.

Now.... something that can be exciting (or at least I think so), is to follow my bloggy friends "The Baker's Sweets" this week. They left yesterday on their way to China to get their daughter Ava! Their adoption story is amazing and I can't wait to follow them on their journey this week. You can also find their link in my favorites on the sidebar. Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week. I'll try to check in and post sooner next time! ♥