The End of Endless Spring Break

I’m writing this the day before our first day of school for the year. Our family chose to do remote learning this semester, as I’m still working from home and we felt that was the best option for our family. And technically, right now all the students in our school district are remote for the time being, but knowing that we have a full semester ahead of us feels a bit daunting. Instead of focusing on the unknown, I’m looking back at the summer we were able to have, even with the restrictions due to the pandemic. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to safely and cautiously travel a bit this summer, both to Colorado and multiple trips to my family’s lake cabin. After being together in our home working and schooling and living for months and months on end, a change of scenery was extremely welcome.

I want to remember all the good times we had this summer, not just the disappointments, cancelled vacations and camps, and challenges. I want to remember Lucy falling in love with skateboarding in Aspen, Tate learning how to waterski, watching my brother-in-law get married in the mountains, hiking and biking, watching the sky change at sunset and staring at the Milky Way at night. I want to remember watching my kids actually play together, laughing and acting silly, not putting on a facade for friends. I want to remember sitting around a fire pit with my family, making s’mores and listening to them talk, laugh and share. I want to remember that the summer of 2020 wasn’t all bad. In fact, there was a lot of good in there too.

Scenes from our Quarantine

The following post includes photos from my daily #ScenesFromOurQuarantine series on Instagram, along with portions of my journal entries from the past six and a half weeks. While I have certainly gotten quieter on the blog in the past few years, I thought it might be nice to share some thoughts and images from this strange time in our lives. I am sending love to anyone and everyone reading this…I hope you are healthy and safe.

March 15, 2020

I truly cannot believe that any of this is happening. It feels like a dream (nightmare?) and when I wake in the morning, for a quick moment I forget it’s real. It’s here. COVID-19 is here. This weekend, while we hunkered down at home, doing our best to practice “social distancing” – a term I’m sure we will grow to hate – irresponsible people went out to bars and parties. A majority is not taking this seriously, and it’s scaring the crap out of me.

There have been bright spots, like watching Little Women with Lucy. We both sobbed when Beth died and she yelled out loud at Laurie for being a complete dumbass! I went and got journals for them to write in because I think we will want to remember this in 20 years. Plus, I’m hopeful it will help them process everything. It’s only going to get more difficult and strange. I hope I am able to guide them through it.

March 16, 2020

Today I finally received notice that we will be able to transition to working from home. The minute I got the call, my stress lifted, and I immediately felt safer. This evening we found out all schools will be closed until April 3rd, and starting at midnight, all restaurants, retail shops and movie theaters will be closed. It just doesn’t feel real.

March 19, 2020

The kids and I went on a family walk with the dog today. There were tons of families out together, keeping a good distance, but trying to enjoy themselves and each other. One of the gratitudes I am finding right now is that life seems to be slowing down. For years I’ve talked about how out of control our life has felt, espeically as the kids have gotten older. Just a week ago I was getting up at 5 a.m. so I could get Lucy to skating before work. Then I’d work all day and come home to practice or lessons or a board meeting. I’d fall into bed and then wake up at 5 the next day and do it again. Now all of that feels like another lifetime.

March 29, 2020

For now, I think it’s okay to find small joys. To be hopeful. To smile and laugh and find gratitude. I’m sure I won’t feel this way for long. I am grateful we are doing everything we can to stop the spread. We won’t be perfect, but we will do our best. It’s all we can do.

April 6, 2020

I know while my ability to stay home is a privledge, it is also my duty. If you can stay home, you should. So we do. But it’s just incredibly odd. We are finding this new normal. Our lives are going to be really different from here on out. I feel weirdly calm about it. And then I feel guilt for feeling calm. So many are suffering. And all I can do is hope we’ve done enough.

April 7, 2020

I’m feeling grateful every day that I have had years of practice “staying in the day.” Recovery really was a crash course for how to survive a pandemic. Everything is changing, but we can’t focus on the past or the future. Right now is where we have to live, and thank god I’ve had practice because I’m awful at it!

April 8, 2020

Today was a harder day.

April 13, 2020

Another Monday in quarantine is done. It’s been four weeks. It feels like such a long time. Almost like another lifetime. I’m grateful for all the time together with the kids. It feels like a good thing to have a lot of control over there whereabouts right now. I haven’t had to worry about my kids being in a school shooting, overwhelming peer pressure, too competitive sports, school friendship drama or grades in over a month. And that has felt glorious. Those were all huge weights I was carrying with no end in sight…and now they are just gone. I don’t miss them. I do miss quiet time in my car, coffee at my desk at work, endless hours to get things done at work (not really, but looking back, being at work vs working from home while home schooling meant it felt endless), stopping at Target after work, the library, movie theater popcorn, chats with other moms in the bleachers at skating, my in-laws, watching Lucy skate or Tate hit a home run, evenings at the farm, my dad’s hugs….a lot. Just like everything else, there is good and bad. I guess we are all learning to live with it.

April 23, 2020

Today was a better day.

April 24, 2020

Gratitudes of Quarantine:

  • Family dinners (which we’ve never done before)
  • My garden
  • Don’t have to dress up or wear makeup
  • My sleep is the best its been in years
  • No rush to get out of the house in the morning
  • Leisure time in the evenings
  • Runs and walks with Tate
  • Watching my favorite movies with Lucy
  • Trent and I sharing the load at home
  • I can work easily from home
  • Shatto Home Delivery on Thursday mornings
  • Our quiet neighborhood now that the cars are not loud on the neighboring highway
  • So far, no one I love is sick
Fox 4 Aquarium Segment

Summer Fun Activities : How to Build an Aquarium with Your Kids

Everyone, we are ONE MONTH into summer vacation! It is just flying by over in our house, but it makes me happy to know we still have over half of summer left to enjoy. Since June is National Aquarium Month, I headed over to Fox 4 Kansas City, to share how putting together an aquarium with your kids can be a perfect summer activity. The team from Picasso Exotic Aquatics taught me the best tips for creating an aquarium and I am super excited to share them!

Click here to view video!

Building one gives your children the chance to learn responsibility, critical thinking and patience. Aquariums can also be a nice escape from technology (we are dealing with a video game and tablet obsession this summer) and have soothing qualities that have helped my kids become calm, especially at bedtime.

Here are my top tips for building your own aquarium:

  • When creating an aquarium with kids, it gives them the chance to work with their hands and learn about nature. Make sure to talk with the about the science and let them really get hands on with the process.
  • Get a test kit and cycle your aquarium. Not only is this beneficial for the health of the aquarium in the beginning, it allows your children to learn how to test water and learn about water chemistry. Use your test kit often: regular testing aids give your aquarium longevity.
  • Let the child help Aquascape the aquarium. Aquascaping is the art of placing the stones, plants, and other decor in a natural and aesthetically pleasing manner. Allow them to be proud of the new and beautiful home they have provided for their fish.
  • Add live plants. These feed on aquarium waste, keeping the tank cleaner and algae production to a minimum.
  • The location of the aquarium is important — people are naturally drawn to them. You want to be able to enjoy your aquarium while also allowing others to as well. Placement can also determine the aquarium’s stability.
  • Keep the aquarium away from direct sunlight. Those beaming, morning sun rays can grow a mass amount of algae. If you want to place the tank right near a window, it is good to keep the blinds closed when the sun shows the most. Drafts from a window can affect the aquarium’s temperature.
  • Cool or hot air blowing onto your aquarium can cause temperature changes and more evaporation. Especially in the winter when the air is dry. Buy an aquarium thermometer to help monitor changes and a heater to warm the water to tropical temperatures.
  • Your aquarium needs it’s own space bubble. Allow room on the sides of the aquarium so you can easily do maintenance. More room to work is motivating when maintenance needs to be done.
  • Locate an outlet for easy access and regular cleaning.
  • Consider putting the aquarium in a part of the home you would like to inhabit more. The aquarium may draw you and your family to occupy a room not usually visited.

Welcome Charley Paige!

I feel like life has been full of amazing and joyful moments lately, I’m often overwhelmed by all the goodness in my life. And this DEFINITELY falls under the category of GOODNESS! In January, we were blessed with the birth of our brand new niece, Charley Paige. Have I mentioned how much I love being an aunt? Because it is simply the best. I became an aunt for the first time 18 years ago, but I still get a happy feeling in my heart when I think of a new niece or nephew to love on.

I’ve taken a bit of a break from family portraiture, but I couldn’t resist sneaking off to Western Kansas to photograph the newest addition to our family and shoot some video as well. I loved being able to capture these moments with sweet Charley, who has already changed so much since we took these images! It’s incredible how fast these little people change and grow, and I think it’s so important to capture these fleeting moments if we can. Because we all know that with a new baby in the house, we’d never remember them otherwise!

I’m so excited to see my in-laws, Ashley and Adrian, take on parenting for the first time! It’s such a beautiful, messy, fun, exhausting ride, and they are just at the beginning. So much love and laughter is in their future, I can’t help but smile every time I think of it!

If you’re interested in capturing family or newborn images on film or in video form, sent me a note at for more information…I’d love to work with you!

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”

–Laura Ingalls Wilder

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

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