Sunday, July 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

This Friday, we celebrated Justin's 31st birthday!  Woohoo ... someone is into his thirties now.  No matter your age, we love you so much! 

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Leap of Faith

Why is it that so often once we become wives and mothers (or husbands and fathers, men), it feels necessary to let die the dreams of our youth?  I fear that is a sad reality most of the time, even for me.

I finally decided to take a big leap of faith and challenge that norm.

This afternoon, my professional website for Favorite Things Photography went live!  That's right ... I am at the dawn of my "portfolio season" as a professional photographer.  I am also at the dawn of a much awaited dream.

My heart is a-flutter ... and, yes, I'm nervous about this big step.  However, my nerves are quieted by my eagerness to perfect my art.  I suppose, there's no better day than today to start "living the dream."

Please take a moment to view my sample galleries at and contact me if you are interested in one of my complimentary session as I am learning.

Spread the word!

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams."
- Willy Wonka 

Quick Links:
professional website:
professional email:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Human Nature

It is interesting to me the way "human nature" works. We are slave to it, in my opinion, whether or not we like to admit it. I'm being rather introspective as I compose this post from my seat at the Alamo Drafthouse movie theatre awaiting a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." I am realizing that while my reason stands to believe that the tragic movie theatre massacre in Colorado was a single act of violence not a new fate for all moviegoers, my psyche begs to differ.

I stood in line to enter the auditorium scanning the crowd ... looking for suspicious persons (not that James Holmes would have been someone I would have considered of suspect). Did that worker just give me a strange smile? Whew! Thank goodness there is a kid sitting beside me! Where exactly ARE the emergency exits again? To be perfectly honest, I even tapped around beneath my seat to see if I could reasonable wedge myself beneath them should the need arise. Then, I am also oddly comforted by the realization that we are not ever promised a tomorrow. So, I'm glad to be making my moments count by enjoying a "date" with my husband.

One thing I cannot rationalize, minimize, or fail to mention, however, is the profound sorrow I feel in attending this film. I refuse to let the murderer spawn fear and avoidance in me. In fact, I feel that would be an insult to the memories of those who lost their lives at his hand. Contrarily, I think my feelings of sorrow are healthy. Why am I allowed to live while so many other young lives (my peers, really) were lost? I do not know that answer. What I do know, however, is that I have heard so many stories of heroism and human sacrifice emerge from this tragedy. And that encourages me -- the unspoken "Batmans" that laid down their lives to protect friends, family, and strangers.

We cannot escape our human nature. But here's to hoping that at our essence, most of us are truly good.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Posey Posey

I went back and looked through my images and realized this one was cute.  Look closely, they are posed very similarly on their own!

Sometimes, it's the small things that count.

Foto Fun

Just snapping a few photos of my boys this afternoon ... taking advantage of some nice lighting from our big front window.  Enjoy!

Exceptional Child Night

A large indoor play arena near us, called Monkey Joe's, has an awesome monthly event called "Exceptional Child Night."  It is 3 evening hours where the facility closes to the general public and children with any sort of "special need" can come play free of charge.  We took advantage of this special night last month as well, but I forgot my camera, so it wasn't documented on the blog.  This time; however, I managed to remember to snap a few quick photos of Jackson enjoying himself.

We really LOVE "Exceptional Child Night" because Monkey Joe's isn't very crowded and Jackson can play sans shirt to keep cool ... without a lot of stares.  It really is an awesome little event.


(The above picture is quite a feat!  I have to climb that ladder on the right ... pulling myself up with one arm by the ropes ... while carrying Jackson, in cast, in the other arm ... quite the work out!)

But totally worth it!

Oliver enjoyed himself as well.  :)

And, let me tell you ... this fella is learning his Mama well!  He saw me holding my camera ... and posed with a huge "cheesy grin" for my to snap this photograph without me mentioning a word.  Gotta love that boy!

Thanks Monkey Joe's!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Swagger Wagon

This is about my new ride ... gotta LOVE it!
(pause my background music on the right-hand column to hear it)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

You get what you pay for (or, so they say)... and sometimes, you don't even get that.

This is a rather sad story with (hopefully--fingers crossed) a really happy ending.

You might remember a blog post back in December where I was really happy that Justin bought me a Kia Sedona minivan for Christmas.  At that time, it was what we could best afford, and I was just ecstatic to have a new car with lots of room and features for the kiddos.  Well, unfortunately, my excitement soon turned to concern when the day after we purchased the Kia, the "check engine" light illuminated on our way home from Roanoke where we purchased it at Hart Kia.  

(please note: I am purposely name dropping in hopes that I might save someone else my troubles)

We first assumed that this was probably a minor issue such as a loose gas cap or sensor malfunction.  However, that was not the case.  Even our local Kia dealership kept fixing minor issues in hopes of fixing my "check engine" problem.  My "new" van was in the shop seven times during our first eight weeks of ownership.  Finally, our local Kia asked corporate Kia to become involved in the matter.  Upon doing so, our local Kia had to FORCE Hart Kia (of Roanoke) to fax over ALL SERVICE RECORDS to their dealership.  Please keep in mind that we were sold this vehicle as a gently used, low-mileage, "clean CarFax" gem.  What our local Kia uncovered was that our van had had MAJOR engine issues and repair at only 5,000 miles (we are talking pages of repairs).  NONE of these issues had been disclosed to us during the sales process ... although ALL maintenance had been performed AT Hart Kia.  Thankfully, our van was still under warranty and our local Kia was able to fix them free of charge --- GOOD THING, because the engine repairs had been performed INCORRECTLY at Hart Kia as well -- resulting in damage to other car parts which also had to be replaced.

Therefore, I very quickly lost trust in my vehicle ... so every little "lurch" or "drag" or noise concerned me although all of the issues had been properly fixed.  My van had a second home in our local Kia's service department.  So, we began exploring the idea of trading in the Kia Sedona for a Toyota or Honda minivan due to their excellent reputations.  I telephoned Hart Kia to ask a question about canceling our extended warranty ... never complaining or asking for a resolution to the previous problems.  However, their business manager, Andrew -- pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed me to consider "doing business with them again" so that Hart Kia could "make it right."  He promised me extra money on my trade in and an ability to obtain another Toyota or Honda van of my specs from another used car lot.  He ensured me he would speak with the General Manager, Woody Smith, and get back with me.  Yesterday, I called Andrew back to set up a time to come to Roanoke to look ... and WOW HAD HIS OFFER CHANGED!!!  (I am assuming Woody Smith did not like that Andrew had made these original promises to me)  He told me that he would give me "Kelley Blue Book" value for my trade in (the van that Hart Kia fraudulently sold us) and that I HAD to choose a van from their inventory (no Toyotas or Hondas).  

To me, that offer was rubbish ... and sounded more like a gimmick to put money back in their pockets by forcing me to take another vehicle from their lot.  Neither Justin nor I were pleased at all to say the least.  The VERY LAST thing we wanted to do was "do business again" with Hart Kia of Roanoke after being sold a vehicle fraudulently.  We could essentially get what they were offering us from any other reputable car dealership and wash our hand of them.  The were obviously not really interested in "making it right" ...

So that's what we did!

So, after only 7 months, I traded in my 2011 Kia Sedona for a 2011 Toyota Sienna!  And ... I'm pleased to tell you that this Toyota dealership gave me MORE MONEY on my trade-in than Hart Kia offered me in their pathetic attempt to "make things right."  Now, here's to hoping that the awesome reputation of the Toyota Sienna proves true for my new van!   Sure, it might have cost a little more ... but in the long run, I'm hoping we "get what we paid for" this time ... and we get a much better quality vehicle and service from our dealership.


Here's our newest addition:
(which also just happens to look much cooler than my Kia as well)

The (happy) End.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Fourth

What's the Fourth of July without fireworks?


... and a photo opportunity ...

(checking out his cooling vest)

(lil' redneck)

Suffice it to say, it may have "rained on our parade," but we made the best of celebrating our service members, our independence, our freedom, and our family.

Happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I suppose it's appropriate that on Independence Day, both Big Jax and Little Oliver are expressing just that ... their independence.


For the first time, they had matching outfits to wear.  While Jackson did notice and point that out to me (how sweet, right?) ... he still wasn't exactly keen on getting photographed alongside his little brother.

"Now boys, please just let Mommy get one good picture."

"Just one picture guys ... it's not that difficult!"

"Okay ... that's it ... just lie on the floor then ... this is ridiculous!"

"Forget it."

"Fine Dad, she can take our picture ... but we definitely won't smile and look cute!"

True Story.