Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cruise Sneak Peek

Because I've been threatened. Haha     More to come soon....

Norwegian's private island, and our last stop. yes, I'm pouting, I want to go back! We enjoyed a nice drink here. (SOOC)

I love the wheelchair, so funny! I wanted to ask to use one just for fun. (SOOC)

There were how many people on our boat?? 

Looking back at our vessel, the Sky. Aint she pretty? Only had my 28mm with me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To

There is a reason I haven't been dying to post pictures of Nicole's Birthday, well, more than one. We tried hard to pull off a great 1st birthday, but not very successfully. : (

We had all been so sick and didn't even have energy to put a party together. The morning of, I set everything up to take nicole's pictures (I always take the kid's pictures on their birthday). She was still so sick and sleep deprived that she screamed almost the whole time, even with lots of bribes and daddy nearby! There was also another inversion so absolutely no light to be had.

At least the cake looked fabulous, and tasted great too! Almond cake with chocolate frosting! mmm A big thanks to Kari from Cake Couture!
The balloon helped for about 3 seconds.

Nicole did learn how to show that she is 1 that day! So cute!

We wrote a special letter to her birth parents as we reflected on the last year with our baby girl. She is such a great addition to our family, and we love her dearly. She is so calm and easy going, and is teaching us all so much. 

I am getting better at doing her hair, and Natalie's hair also gets done more often as a result. She is helping our community in breaking cultural barriers, stereotypes, and opening people's minds, all while teaching us love and acceptance. We are forever grateful for a sacrifice that is enriching our family.

We have to laugh now when we go places and find people staring at us, we always wonder if our clothes look funny or something. Then, later we realize the reason. We have found that so many people, all different types of people, love to talk to us now when we're out, and it is great. Nicole is a beacon of love, people are drawn to her and want to talk to her. 

If you missed my post on our family blog of our adoption story, here it is, it's long, but worth the read......

12:00 pm Friday March 6th
We sat at a small table eating our lunch, wires on our heads, goop in our hair. It was snowing outside and cold. We laughed and talked; talked about sleep. Soon it would be time for another nap at the sleep center, hopefully our last nap of the day. 

It had been a long night already, neither of us sleeping well, separated in an office and lying on strange beds, covered in colorful wires. We were almost finished with our sleep apnea and narcolepsy tests. 

2:00 pm

I felt a touch on my shoulder and pried my eyes open, pulled out my earplugs, and stretched. "You're all finished," the nurse said, "I'm going to go wake up your husband." I started to gather my things and happened to check my phone, there was a message...

"Hi Evelyn, I have some exciting news. There was a little girl born this morning and we need a family to be there tomorrow. We called you first, but I really need to know very soon or I will start calling other families. Please call me as soon as you can!"

I couldn't breathe, was this a dream? I saw Jeremy sitting up in bed out of the corner of my eye and jumped into his room and blurted out the news. The nurse helped us pull off our wires and we raced to the car to call Jane. We needed more information, this was a huge decision that needed to be made right then. There was no time to waste. 

We said one of the most important prayers in our life, and probably the shortest. I called Jane back with shaking hands and asked her what we needed to do to make this happen.

In the blink of an eye we were in a hurricane of motion and tasks to be done. First to the doctor's office for a blood test. I know people thought we looked strange with goop and orange marker on our heads, and crazy wild hair, but I didn't care! Next we decided to split up.

4:00 pm
At home I began to throw things into a suitcase while making hurried phone calls. Find place for the kids, pack, someone to feed dog, change my mind on clothes, repack, ask people to write reference letters and fax to Jane, pack clothes for kids....

Meanwhile Jeremy was at the bank, begging them to break some rules and let us withdraw money from our loan right then and there. I'm sure I can think of a couple of thoughts that crossed their minds based on his appearance! After much consideration,  a phone call to Jane, and a very nice bank employee who put his neck on the line, Jeremy got the check. 

We booked our flight, took a much needed shower, and got the kids off safely with Grandma and grandpa, and finished packing the suitcases. We got our things in the car and headed to Jane's house, completely exhausted.

We arrived at Jane's house to fill out all our paperwork and talk about the process and what to expect. It was nice to just sit for a minute, although I thought I might fall asleep. I don't remember what was said that night, it's all a blur. After our visit we were off to the airport.

1:00 am Saturday March 7th
Our plane took off. I put on that thing that airlines call a blanket, rested my head and tried to sleep. I heard Jeremy snoring on and off, and I know I managed to drift off a few times myself, but knew it wasn't going to be enough for the day ahead of us.

6:00 am - ??  ET
Gotta love the Atlanta Airport! It seems that no matter where a person is going you will almost always end up in Atlanta. I still couldn't sleep. Jeremy was curled up on the floor, lying on my backpack while I squinted at a page in the Reader's Digest. We half-heartedly ate a plain croissant for breakfast, hoping it would make our sick tummies feel better. Turns out, no solid sleep for two days makes you feel a little queasy. 

About 10:00 am CT
The moisture clung to our faces as we left the plane in Jackson Mississippi. The warmth felt so good. We drug our feet down to the baggage claim to find, nothing. Not a single bag. People were walking all around us, trying to figure it out. I was too tired to move, I thought if I stared at it long enough our bags might magically appear! Finally someone said the baggage line was broken and all the bags were being taken to the missing bag station. Jeremy and I were delighted to see our bags in the hall. However, not so delighted to find out our car seat was missing, it didn't make the flight. They also didn't have any infant ones in stock, so we had to march through half the airport to find one to borrow. Our next adventure was renting a car. We tried a few lines, but the sales people were busy, it didn't even matter what company, we just needed a car fast. We picked out a shiny red Nissan, that we both decided later we hated, the design just didn't make any sense. And we were on the road again, not at all safe to be driving at this point. We were headed straight to the hospital. From the last news we had heard, we thought we might be bringing the baby home from the hospital with us that day, and were told to get there as soon as we could. 

Around 12:00 pm CT
Our first taste of the south! We stopped for lunch at Hardee's for lunch where we found exemplary customer service. We should've known better when a biker dude at the nearest table told us it would be faster to go somewhere else and that he'd been waiting there for a LONG time. We ordered anyway. We sat and we waited, and we witnessed the southern way of life. Lots of people were waiting, while all the cooks were arguing about how to do things. And for as much as they argued and talked about how to do things, nothing actually got done, and so we waited some more. This became a theme we saw a few times on our trip. 

About 1:00 pm CT
We found our way to the hospital in Meridian Mississippi. We knew we wouldn't be bringing Nicole home that day and were relieved. As excited as were, we needed a good night's sleep. 

Not wanting to come in empty handed we went to buy some flowers. You would think with about 5 hospitals in the area one would have a gift shop open on a saturday?! Nope. Only one florist was open. Back to the hospital. Both of us wanted to freshen up a little since we had been traveling all night, we wanted to look somewhat presentable to S & M (names withheld for privacy).

When we made our way to the baby wing the nurses told us what room S was in. I was so nervous, more nervous than I have been for anything in my life. I laughed and asked Jeremy, "She knows we're white, right?!" My nerves were fried, every horror story I'd ever heard about adoption and birth moms changing their minds popped into my head! We came in slowly and were greeted by S. She was the kindest woman, I knew that immediately. It felt like she was the best friend I never knew I had. We talked for a minute and she asked if we wanted to see the baby. Of course we did, I said yes, feigning to be a little less excited than I was, trying not to jump up out of my chair with joy. 

That's when we met our new baby girl, this beautiful, tiny baby. We both took turns holding her and stroking her head. I think it was love at first sight. We talked with S for a while and then M joined us a while later. We loved our time with them, getting to know them and their personalities, what a blessing it was for us to have that time with them. They were so much like us, we knew Nicole would fit into our family very well after meeting S &M.  We talked as long as we could, but our sleep deprivation couldn't be ignored any longer. We said goodbye to S & M and baby Nicole. 

Around 5:00 pm CT
Longing for sleep we headed ... to Walmart. There was no time to pack any baby things in our mad dash the night before, we needed supplies. Onsies, bottles, formula, blankets, etc. On to the hotel. It turns out that after you've been awake for a very many number of hours, it takes a certain percentage of that time to wind down and go to sleep. I don't remember what time we went to bed that night, but I do know it was late, and I also know I slept extremely well!

8:50 am (We thought) CT Saturday March 8th
I pushed my glass up to the juice machine and nothing came out. Still groggy I tried a few more times, still not working. Jeremy and I started to get some food and noticed a maid taking things away. A man sitting at a table laughed and said, "You did the same thing I did! I forgot about daylight savings. They're cleaning up, you'll have to ask them to turn on the machine." Oops, yes we did completely forget about that. It's not like we had anything on our minds!

After a few phone calls we discovered that S was able to go home the previous night and we called her at home to discuss details for the day. We were going to meet at the hospital after the doctor had checked in on Nicole the last time. 

Around 11:00 am CT
We made it to the hospital first and waited in an empty room. S & M came soon after and we got to visit for a few minutes before the nurse came in and started the check- out process. She was packing diaper bags for us and handing documents and tags to S. I knew this day was going to be hard, but I was not prepared. I was trying not to cry; I was excited, nervous, scared and had no idea what to do or to expect. We all went to the parking lot together. I asked to get a picture of S & M with Nicole so that Nicole will have that when she is older. They took a picture of her as well and buckled her into our car seat and into our car. We gave hugs and said our good byes, M told me to keep in touch (which we will), and they left.

We sat in silence for a moment, finally able to breathe. I looked at Jeremy and every emotion I had poured out of me through the tears streaming down my face. I was happy, truly I was, but in that moment I was also in the depths of despair. I felt their loss so fully that I couldn't help but sob. I was sad for them and for the feelings they were going to experience in the future. Part of me felt terrible, like I had stolen their baby. Part of me wondered why they couldn't keep her, why we were being blessed through their bitter situation? I tried and tried to stop, but my heart was breaking for them. Jeremy felt the same way I did. 

Back at the hotel we sat and stared at our miracle, happy and still sad, and in love. We made some phone calls and wrote e-mails to make our announcement. I took a few pictures because I knew everyone was dying to see what she looked like. And finally, when there were no more tears, hunger took over. We decided to go out to dinner....

We went to dinner. We had heard that people in the south love to fry things, and sure enough they do. We tried the fried lasagna at Olive Garden, not bad. This was our first outing with Nicole; we were mentally exhausted and didn't expect all the attention we received. 

The couple next to us began a conversation with us about Nicole and adoption. On any other day, I would have politely ignored them based on their appearance (yes, sometimes even I am judgmental). Both had tattoos head to toe (they ran a tattoo shop, go figure), but proved to be the nicest people. The best part of our conversation was when I asked, "Is there anything interesting to do here?" The response, "No mam, I'm sorry, you're in Mississippi!" The gentleman added, "You're doin' it!"

As we ate a few workers came by to take a look, but one girl made my day. Remember, I was tormented with guilt and sadness all morning. She marched over and said, "I heard you adopted and just had to come over here and tell you, God bless you. You are doing a great thing! I'm adopted. Thank you for doing what you are doing. There will come a day when she pulls "the, you're not my mom thing," but she won't really mean it. Thank you again!" I think I really needed to hear that at that moment, another blessing!

I don't remember the rest of that day, I know it involved more phone calls and e-mails, and I think another trip to the store for a few things we forgot. 

Monday March 9th
One Olive Garden employee told us about a park nearby that we thought we'd venture to. We had nothing else to do, but wait for S & M to sign their paperwork. So we packed a bag and went out. (Oh, we finally got our own car seat back from the airline. Isn't Nicole the cutest thing in her car seat, she was so tiny!)

The park was beautiful. It was actually a lake with a road around it and small benches and parks all around. We stopped at a swing and sat in the sun for a while. That was a very relaxing morning. Later in the day we got the news that S & M had signed the papers and were directed to drive to Tupelo Mississippi. So, once again, we hurried and packed. 

That was THE longest drive of my life. Not in actual time or distance, but in my perception of it. The landscape in MS is all trees, trees in every direction; huge, tall trees. You can't see anything but trees! We were on a small highway surrounded by trees. Every once in a while you would see an exit cut through the trees, and a few shacks along the sides of the road, but other than that, there was no way to tell if there was any civilization any where nearby, or how long you would have to drive to reach it. There were a few signs that were pretty funny. One was for a restaurant advertising fried pie! They really do love fried foods!

Anyway, I had to go to the little girl's room. I held it, and held it until I couldn't hold it any more. It was an emergency! Trees, and more trees! Finally we saw an exit that said Mississippi State College - 17 mi. I told Jeremy to take it and he hesitated, saying, it's 17 mi! "I don't care, get off!" I screamed. Luckily, it wasn't that far off the exit; I ran into one of the buildings while Jeremy had to explain to the security guard who we were! I think the drive was only about 3 hours in reality, but it took forever!

Tupelo. I think the town is just about what you'd picture in your head from the name. We ate some dinner and found our hotel. 

Tuesday March 10th
By this time Jeremy and I were sick, but trying to feel better and not admit we were getting sicker. Meanwhile, Nicole had a Dr. apt scheduled at 10 am that morning. Picture the oldest, sweetest Dr and 70's era exam tables and equipment and you're there. The Dr. was nice and examined Nicole to follow the legal requirements of the state. Once again, we were playing a waiting game. The paperwork was supposed to be fed-exed to Tupelo on Monday, but didn't make it. So we had time to kill. We drove around the town looking for local places to shop (even though we didn't end up buying anything) and took in the scenery. One small drive-in offered fried bologna sandwiches, mmm, tempting (Jeremy took a picture of the sign, but sadly, he can't find it).  When we were tired of driving and window shopping we went to a movie. 

Movies don't start in Mississippi until 4pm and there are only 1-2 options that aren't rated R. We chose the only movie not rated R at that theater and were the only people in the theater! That's the great thing about newborns, they like to sleep a lot during the day. Jane called us during the movie to tell us that we had a court date, tomorrow! Wow, another huge blessing. As soon as we were done in court we could go home, we were really ready to get back home! 

We met with our lawyer late that night to sign more paperwork and to prepare for our time in front of the judge in the morning. 

Wednesday March 11th
I couldn't breathe. My nose was so clogged I sounded silly and my cough had taken my voice away; my throat burned and my chest hurt. Jeremy was in the same boat, we were horribly sick! This was supposed to be another very happy day for us and we were worn out. Nicole decided to cry all morning, too. We all dressed nicely, even Nicole in her new yellow dress and headed for court. 

Inside the old court building there wasn't a single empty chair, the place was packed! Our lawyer escorted us to a small room to sit and wait, seeing all the people there that day we all thought it would be a long wait. The Lord was merciful once again and we were bumped to the front of the list, it was our turn. Nicole stopped crying long enough for us to make our appearance to the judge. He was an old, single man and asked us each about ourselves. He asked if we waived our right to wait 6 mo (umm, yes, we wanted to go home). He signed the document and told us that was the only happy thing he would get to do that day and thanked us.
We had thought about celebrating and taking pictures, but Nicole started crying again and we couldn't even breathe, we were miserable. So, sadly, no pictures of that event either. instead we rushed ourselves back the old doc.

We saw a different Dr. this time, a woman. She said we both had Bronchitis and gave us a prescription and told us we should get a shot as well. So in march 2 nurses with long needles who tell us to drop our pants. I asked where it was going, "right in the hip sweetie." Ouch!

Now that we had some medicine we could plan our trip home. Let me tell you, one way tickets purchased the day of and the day before is not the way to go, so expensive. We weighed our options, 3 different airport choices,  huge price differences, and lots of layovers. We found one flight out of Tennessee that was a direct 3 hour flight, it was worth the huge fine from the car company to return the car somewhere else and get the shortest flight. It was also faster to drive up to Tennessee than to drive back down to Jackson Mississippi! The flight was early in the morning so we needed to get there that night. Another whirlwind packing session and we were off!

This time we made sure to take a legitimate highway with gas stations and fast food restaurants close by! This drive wasn't as long as the last, I think it was because of the road and because we were headed closer to home. I was looking out the window thinking to myself when I looked over at Jeremy and saw his chin against his chest for a split second before he jerked it back up! Ahhh! "You fell asleep!" Jeremy will still deny this, but I know what I saw. Needless to say, we pulled over and switched drivers for a while. I wasn't very safe on the road that day either, but at least I didn't fall asleep!

Memphis Tennessee
Jeremy drove us into the city and followed the map quest directions to our hotel near the airport. The directions landed us on the back side of the hotel with a large pedestrian walkway in between us on a dead end street. He went to go talk to someone in the hotel about parking and was immediately asked for money from a bum, who seeing which car he got out of, came and circled our car until Jeremy came back. That was our first impression of that city. The hotel manager asked what the guy looked like and stormed out to go to and find him. We decided we didn't even want to leave the hotel room that night after we asked a bell hop about places to go to dinner. He looked at us and at the baby and his watch and said it would just be better to order in! Ok, sounds good to me. 

We made sure to set our alarm so we would have plenty of time to get ready in  the morning, but as a precaution we also packed as much as we could that night. Good thing we did!

Thursday March 12th
I awoke to Nicole's cries and barely had time to think before Jeremy said, "Our alarm didn't go off!" As if we hadn't been rushed enough times on this trip, we had to hurry. We showered and packed as fast as we could and got lost on the way to the car return. Jeremy parked the car and I dashed to the waiting bus to make sure they didn't leave. Once at the airport we had trouble at the ticket counter (the only seats available on-line were the exit row, we took them, knowing we had an infant). They had to change our tickets. Jeremy got upgraded to 1st class, but told me to sit there (I love him). We boarded the plane last and they closed the door. We were lucky we made it when we did, another flight had arrived late and about 10 people were waiting at the gate to get on. They wouldn't let them, they got there 2 minutes after us! That was another huge blessing for us, we actually made our flight!

I was comfy in my first-class seat and served a nice, warm breakfast. I rested while Nicole slept in my arms the entire flight. We were going home, with our new baby!

The kids were so excited to meet their new sister. The adventure of course continued when we drove from the airport to Kai's school to pick him up and he was MISSING, but that's a whole other story. We did eventually find him  (he had ridden the bus home with another student), but not until I almost had a heart attack. After picking him up at a stranger's house, we went to Jeremy's parent's house to introduce Nicole to the whole family. Now I can end with the happily ever after part! : )

Monday, March 15, 2010

Natural Beauty Bath Products - Utah Bath Supplies

Natural Beauty will be officially open for business in April! To see descriptions of the products, and the story behind them, head on over to my sister site!

This week I am taking pre-orders for my first batch of goodies before we leave on our cruise next week. Once I am back, the store will be stocked around the clock and new items added frequently.

Up for grabs this week:

*Baby Bath Truffles: small bath fizzies that soften and clean baby head to toe, sold in a 4 pack.

*Adult Skin Softening Bath Bombs: made with almond oil and sea salts to soften skin and draw out toxins

*Adult Oatmeal Milk and Honey Luxury Bath Bomb: made with real oats and goat milk for a sweet skin treat

*Whipped Body Butter: made with the finest butters and oils that have the closest molecular match to our own skin oils for ultimate moisture and skin nourishment

Friday, March 12, 2010

Baby Kade- Sneak Peek Utah Newborn Photographer

I had the pleasure of photographing baby Kade yesterday and he was such a doll! Mom followed my instructions and so he was sleepy, bendy, and oh so much fun! I've only had time to edit one picture, but I'll post more later today.

Ok, Here's some more sweet baby goodness!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Trying Something Different, Just For Fun

I had a fun Teen Shoot last night, we all froze to death, but it was worth it.

To see more, hop on over to the teen site!

Monday, March 8, 2010

For Aspiring Photographers

This is what the photographer's staircase looks like. 

At first, photography is hard, there is a lot to learn to just take that first big step and there is a long distance of practice and hard work before you take the next stair. 

Then you start mastering your settings and learn to see light and you conquer another large stair. After more practicing, learning and growth, the stairs become smaller. Your learning gap closes as the stairs become closer together. 

Eventually, you are climbing with little effort until finally, it all clicks, and you are walking, or running on even ground!
Never give up! Get past the huge stairs and it will get easier and easier. 

Towards the top you can call yourself a pro (if that's your goal) and start charging money. Charge what you're worth, and preferably, close to the amount top professionals in your area are charging. If you don't have the confidence to do that, then you're probably still somewhere on stair 2 or 3, and that's ok. Keep learning and keep going until you gain more confidence in your skill. Good luck, now get out and take some pictures, attend classes, read books, and most of all, practice!

p.s. it took me 12 years to get near the top step, I'm still not quite on level ground yet. But I have seen people make the journey in a month, so anything is possible!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What I've Been Up To...

Besides, sick kids and wishing with all my might for Spring to arrive? Well, it's already been a busy month!

First, I have a new website dedicated just to teenagers and have so many fun shoots planned for Spring and Summer! As soon as there is some green out there,  you'll find me outside having a blast with my camera again. : )

Second, I've discovered a new passion in life and will soon be launching my own body care products like bath bombs, body butter, lip balm, butter massage bars, bath melts, and more! I started experimenting to try and find some relief for Nicole's poor dry skin, and have fallen in love with making natural bath products. Who knew?! My husband isn't exactly thrilled about adding a second business to our already crazy life, but he's a VERY supportive husband (I really have the best husband ever). Wish me luck.

This weekend Nicole will be turning one, so I'll be making a post about that soon. And in another week Jeremy and I will be on our way to the Bahamas on a cruise! Ahhh, sunshine.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Client Wall Gallery

I love it when clients show me what they've done with their pictures. If you've hung up photos I've taken in your home, take a picture and send it to me. I might just feature it here on the blog.

Thanks Gina


I got an e-mail from a woman who creates beautiful slideshows with your personal photos. Check out her work here.  (These are for personal photos unless you have a copyright release from a professional photographer).

She has a few specials right now too! : ) You can choose one of the following specials.

1.  10% off for new customers
2.  Refer a friend and you both get 10$ off
3.  $25 mommy and me slideshow (for moms with babies up to 3 months old), you get 1 song, 15 photos, 2 titles, and 5 enhanced pictures.