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I have been on a quest lately to find my youngest son almonds processed in a peanut free facility, because he is allergic to peanuts and I don’t want to take a chance with cross contamination. During my search, I became seriously discouraged by what I found. Because of two minor outbreaks of salmonella from almonds, the FDA mandated that all almonds from the US be pasteurized. Pasteurization in theory is good…it kills all of the bad bacteria…but unfortunately in getting rid of the bad, it also kills the good stuff.  When pasteurizing almonds, the two most common methods are using a high temp steam on the almonds or spraying the almonds with a nasty chemical called propylene oxide or PPO (which is a highly flammable, carcinogenic toxin…sounds tasty). Many almond growers can’t afford the steam method, so they are forced to spray this crap on your “raw” almonds….thanks FDA.  So now, not only do I have to make sure the almonds I buy are peanut free, I have to try and find ones that aren’t sprayed with PPO…and they aren’t cheap, but what is these days? And wouldn’t you know it, God would take my research about almonds and lay on my heart an area in my life that needs some work: How I talk to my children.


I want my children to be “good”, to be respectful and to listen. If you are a parent, you know this can be a daunting task, especially when they have siblings to fight with. When they don’t make wise choices, I tell them how they should behave…in a sense, like pasteurization, I want to wipe out their bad behavior…I mean, who wants to have spoiled nuts kids?!  But, there are times that I don’t talk to them in love….I talk AT them…showing no patience, no peace…just frustration and anger. Sometimes I say things I don’t mean and I’m ashamed of myself… it’s like word puke coming out of my mouth and I can’t stop once I start. So, in my attempt to make them “better” behaved, I’ve actually been making them worse by not showing them the grace that God shows me everyday.  I never imagined parenting would be so hard….that these beautiful little beings could make me laugh with indescribable joy and cry with my face in a pillow all in one day. They are my everything, and I want to build them up, to give their sweet souls peace..not tear them down because they didn’t brush their teeth long enough or pick up their ten million Lego’s on the floor. 

God, please forgive me for not taking every opportunity to show them your love and mercy. Help me to daily speak love into their lives and be an example of patience and grace. I don’t want to just  focus on their outward actions; I want to focus on the state of their hearts. Amen.

For as much as I want to be…I’m not a planner. So why wouldn’t I decide to do a last minute Valentine’s Day shoot with my kiddos?  I don’t have a studio and a bunch of cute backdrops, and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money or time trying to make something…so I came up with this simple backdrop for a total of $17…I know it could have been cheaper, but I didn’t feel like cutting out hearts. I bought a pack of scrapbook paper at Michael’s for ten bucks and then bought some red hearts at Target from their dollar spot.  My boys ripped out the scrapbook paper for me and we just taped it to a white backdrop that I had (you could use a wall as well).  It doesn’t look so pretty up close, but I knew it wasn’t going to be in sharp focus and it would give me the look I was going for.  I placed the backdrop in my dining room across from three windows and there you go…I had a quick, inexpensive Valentine set up.  Now go take some pics of your kiddos!!

Every January 1st, it stares me in the face….the not so anticipated new year’s resolution. I have to admit, I’m not a big fan.  I don’t really need one more thing to put pressure on me…especially the pressure of failing that shiny new year goal…whatever it may be.  I think to myself, if I couldn’t do it last year, what makes me think I can do it this year?…because undoubtedly it’s probably the same resolution/s I’ve had every year…And when I do fail, because no one is perfect (no matter how hard I try), I kick myself over and over again because I couldn’t maintain the level of expectations I set for myself.  So, are resolutions bad?..No, absolutely not.  But, how I respond to myself when I can’t maintain my (often times unrealistic) resolutions is bad. What am I going to do about it? If I say I will change, doesn’t that sound like a new year’s resolution?! I guess what I am hoping to accomplish is to live this next year with goals in mind, but not putting so much pressure on myself if (and when) I don’t live up to them……For example:


I would like to spend more time alone with God, but I will not condemn myself if I only read a page from a devotional book

while sitting in the bathroom. 

I would like to feed my family more clean meals (yes, I’ve jumped on that wagon), but I will not condemn myself when I take them to McDonald’s on occasion….because a kid needs a happy meal every once in awhile even if the chicken isn’t real. 

I would like to actually “enjoy” cooking, and if I ever get into a nice dinner making groove,  I will not condemn myself for using store bought meat and tomatoes from a CAN…because I just know if I eat too much chili using canned tomatoes, I will surely kill us all….

I would like to spend more time connecting with my children, but I will not condemn myself if I can’t give them my full attention every second of the day. 

I would like to be a better photographer, but I won’t condemn myself when I can’t devote as much time to it as I used to because I want to have more time with my family. 

I would like to learn to play the guitar with my son, but I won’t condemn myself if I only learn the basic “g” and “c” chords and never get beyond the “smelly cat” song talent. 

I would like to be more patient, but I will not condemn myself when I have moments of yelling…because let’s face it, I have four children and my patience was near gone after two. 

I would like to be an all around better person, but I will not condemn myself when I don’t live up to my expectations of being that “better person”……

My hope for you and for me this year is to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and to be happier knowing that we are perfectly imperfect!  

What do you hope for this year?

photo by Ashley Sommer Photography

At 11:45 tonight my baby girl will be one! I simply cannot believe it.  I waited for nine long months to find out if we were going to be blessed with boy number four or a girl…and sure enough, we had a you..Adley Rose. You have changed our lives so much, I can’t imagine it without you. 

(some emotional images captured by my friend Janelle at Happinest)
I couldn’t even look at you because I was crying so hard. I kept saying, “it’s a girl? no way, are you sure?!”

And just like that, we celebrated your first birthday this past Sunday. You were so adorable when you opened your presents. You were excited about everything. 

 Today, I followed  you around a bit and took your picture to remember your big day of turning one..it was exhausting for you. 

I love you so much moo moo!

In February I wrote a blogpost about my grandma, which you can find here. Soon, she will be with the Lord…. I can’t sleep….so I write. 


Dear Mimi,

 You will never know what you mean to me. As your time here on earth is coming to an end, I find it hard for me to tell you what’s on my heart. The only thing I can muster is I love you…which I do to the moon and back..but there’s so much more I want to say.  So, forgive me for my random thoughts…but I know this will make me feel closer to you.  
I will always long for your arms to reach around me like they did when I was younger. I want to hang out around your kitchen table and make you laugh so hard you pee your pants. I want you to be able to make macaroni and cheese and pickle chip dip sandwiches. I can see your kitchen drawer full of pencils (I can smell them!) and Avon catalogs…no, I don’t want anymore skin so soft. Now I understand why I made you so mad when I messed up the curtains in your “good room”.  Do you remember all the forts I made in your backyard and how I always requested (yelled for) the green girl cup at lunch? Sometimes you would get stuck in your stupid glider chair from Kroger and I would have to pull you out..that’s what we get for buying furniture at the front of a grocery store.  Thank you for always buying me silver dollar ice cream bars from the schwan’s man, I realize now how expensive they were.  I never liked it when you wore a wig, I could always tell.  I’m sorry I whined and bugged you until you gave in and gave me what I wanted, I was a brat.  I wish I could grow plants in my house like you did.  Who is going to inherit the big Christmas stocking? Do we still have it somewhere?  When you were watching tv, I would sneak in your bedroom and put your jewelry on my head and pretend I was a princess…I’m pretty sure you knew though.  Why in the world did you put contact paper all over your fridge?.. it still looked like an ugly fridge.  I can still smell the musty smell of the closet beside your kitchen and the little wooden fold up stool.  Remember when I saw a mouse and jumped on your table? Remember when I broke out in hives from penicillin and you gave me more of it because you thought it would help?, lol…I looked like violet from willy wonka..but at least you held me in your lap until my mom came to get me.  You always gave out the best Halloween candy (I was mad at you when you said I was too old to get my own special basket of candy).  Thank you for always going to my dance recitals, sporting events, and special moments in my life. I always put my fingers in that ugly oil/string lamp that you had in your living room…it was rather mesmerizing.  I will never be able to iron like you, I never understood how you could put an iron pleat in jeans.  I felt so bad when you fell on one of those moving floors at the airport and broke your front teeth..but I couldn’t help but laugh because you looked like a hillbilly…so glad you got those fixed.  I still laugh so hard about the time when aunt Vick kept shutting the camper door in your face when you were trying to get out of the bathroom because she didn’t know you were in it.  You were always there for me…to lean on, to hug, to love. Life will not be the same without you in it. I won’t be able to go to mom and dad’s without expecting to see you in your chair. Why didn’t I come over everyday just to say hi? I know you are tired, and I want you to know it’s ok to go home. Jesus has a much better place prepared for you, I’m sure it even has the Hallmark channel (every movie is the same, yet we both sit there in your room and watch them over and over..). You will have a perfect body, you will have no pain, and know no sadness. I will cry when you leave, but I know you are saving me a place beside you. When you get there, tell Aunt Sis and grandpa that I miss them everyday. You are an amazing woman and if I can only be half the grandma you were to me, I will be honored.  I will carry you in my heart forever. I love you the mostest infinity. 

love, Colie
This is the smile I will always remember…