MLK Darkness and Stars

Darkness and Stars : Ways to Serve With Kids

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about service and how to be a helper in your community. We love spending our day off doing what we can to help others, no matter how old or young we are. Here are a few ways we like to serve others on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and every other day of the year!

MLK Darkness and Stars

1. Clean Up the Local School Playground –
Grab some trash bags and gloves and spend 30 minutes to an hour picking up any loose trash that might be laying around. Make a game out of it and see who can pick up the most!

2. Go Through Your Gently Used Winter Coats, Boots and Gear and Gather Items to Donate – We like to give ours to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City or to the Willow Domestic Violence Center.

3. Volunteer Together – Some of our favorite places to volunteer as a family are Harvesters of Kansas City and the KC Pet Project!

4. Take Dinner to Someone in Need –
Do you have a friend who has a new baby? Or maybe an elderly family member who is a bit lonely? Have your kids help make a nice dinner and drop it off together. I also like to have my kids draw pictures as gifts to go along with the meal.

5. Happy Chalk – When the weather is a bit warmer, we like to take sidewalk chalk and decorate the neighborhood with kind words of encouragement. Imagine being on a walk and looking down to see a happy note saying, “You are loved!” staring back at you. It’s pretty fun!

How do you serve your community as a family? I’d love to hear your ideas and add some new acts of kindness to our repertoire.

2016 Goals

Goals, Resolutions and the Recovering Perfectionist

It’s the beginning of January, so I’m gonna guess this isn’t the first post you’ve seen regarding “setting goals” or “resolutions” for the new year. Am I right? I thought so. Well, if you’re feeling over the whole thing, I hear you. I am not a natural goal-setter and honestly, the thought of making a list of things I want to do sort of makes me want to gag.

I wasn’t always this way. As a Type-A Supermom, I used to love writing down all of my resolutions and then checking them off, one by one. I got a strange satisfaction from looking at this yearly to-do list and feeling the superiority of completing it. On this very blog I hosted a bucket list of 100 things I wanted to do in my lifetime. But there was one problem. I wasn’t the best at failing. And when you’re trying new things, odds are high you’re going to fail once or twice (or a hundred times). For me, failure didn’t feel like an option, so often I’d push myself to complete tasks I’d lost passion for or didn’t make sense anymore, just to prove I could do them.

When my perfectionism came crashing down around me a few years ago, I swung in the other direction. I hated goals. The word “resolution” gave me chills. Any talk of pursuing anything new or scary was just not in the cards for me. This isn’t a healthy way to live either, because if you don’t strive for anything, how will you ever get anywhere?

So about two years ago I came to a balance that has worked well ever since. We decided to make goals and resolutions as a family, and work together to help each other and keep ourselves accountable. (You can read a post on our family goal setting night here) Shockingly, it worked! Does that mean I complete every resolution on my list? Nope, not even close, but that’s part of the process. Sometimes we think we want something (a thinner body, a new job, etc.) and find what we wanted isn’t exactly what we thought! Maybe we start out the year wanting to do more yoga, and realize we hate meditation and would rather run marathons instead. Does that mean we failed? Nope, if anything, we succeeded.

F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning

I love this acronym. LOVE. Because that’s really what it’s all about, right? In the end, it’s not about checking items off a list, but using those items to learn about ourselves and the world around us. Having this mindset changed my whole perspective, and now I get a rush out of setting resolutions again. Not because I want to show how amazing I am, but because I start to imagine all I’m going to learn along the way, and that my friends, is pretty freaking exciting.

My personal goals this year are pretty tame. I want to do a project with my husband. I want to continue simplifying my life and my home (i.e. KonMari everything and get rid of all the “stuff”). I want to get back into the habit of daily journaling, something that fell by the wayside during my busy work season followed by the holidays.

My business goals are a little more lofty.

2016 Goals

Is it because I think I can really accomplish all of this in a year? Heck, I have no idea. And honestly, it really doesn’t matter. Because it’s not about getting it all done. It’s about the different paths and routes I will end up taking on the journey. And you know what, if I end up failing at all of them, it’s okay. There’s always next year.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015 : The Nerd Awakens

Halloween 2015

Yes, I know, it’s a little late for Halloween photos, but as it’s my busy season, I should be thankful I got these photos edited and uploaded at all! The weeks leading up to Halloween this year were completely insane, in every good way. I was fully booked for photo sessions, had four large writing deadlines for freelance projects AND did two segments on television all about making a DIY Halloween. Ironically, my family had no interest in wearing any of the 15 costumes I conjured up for these news segments, and instead were insistent we go as “Star Wars.” Okay, then. Luckily, my awesome neighbors threw a Halloween party and put me in charge of the photobooth area, so the costumes did get some use.

Last year my husband made us all promise we’d do a group costume this year, but when it came time to decide, there were a lot of disagreements in our house. First we were planning to be ghosts. Then vampires. Then Star Wars. Then Lucy refused to be Star Wars because she wanted to be some character from a Disney show. Then Trent ordered Star Wars costumes for himself and Tate. Then Lucy convinced Tate to go as vampires. Then we nixed that idea because we already had the Star Wars costumes. What followed was a lengthy negotiation, wherein Lucy promised to be Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but only if she could be a vampire for trick or treating. So this group costume lasted about 15 minutes, but still…small victories, you know?

Tate went as the newest Star Wars baddie, Kylo Ren, and Trent went as a Storm Trooper (I said he was Han Solo in a Storm Trooper costume from A New Hope, because we all know how I feel about Han Solo). I went as Princess Leia from the Hoth Rebel Base in Empire Strikes Back because I am totally over the cinnamon bun hairdo from the most popular Princess Leia costume and I refused to wear a gold bikini.

Halloween 2015

Thus ends the nerdiest post-Halloween belated post ever in the history of blogging. How will we top this next year?!

Back to School


The day is FINALLY here! Today Tate went back to preschool (it’s only a two-hour first day back, but I’ll take it!) and Lucy has been in school for about two weeks now. While I’m thrilled to get back to our normal daily routine, there are definitely some challenges getting back into the grind. I recently wrote a post on this very topic for While you might think, “I’m not in recovery, this doesn’t apply to me,” I believe many of the ideas I stress in my recovery are applicable for any mom, anywhere. We aren’t that different, you know?

Back to School

I would get caught up in the “Parenting Olympics,” trying to be everywhere and everything to everyone. It was an impossible task, but one that even “normie” parents (those who aren’t in recovery) get caught up in. Our schools are super-competitive, and it’s easy to believe that if your kid isn’t enrolled in every activity or sport, they will fall behind. For me, 90% of what I did and felt was driven by insecurity. I wanted to be the best mom in the world and I assumed that if my kid wasn’t the star of everything, I was a failure. It was a hopeless cycle, for myself and my family.

These days, I work very hard to make sure I don’t get caught up in competitive parenting. I’m quite lucky, because once I got into recovery and opened my eyes, I realized my school community is extremely supportive and not nearly as competitive as I had thought. Turns out, a lot of my insecurities were inside my own head and had nothing to do with my child or any of her buddies. Once I realized that I am a good mother regardless of whether my kid is the star of the soccer team or on the honor roll, my entire perspective changed. Back to school season became less about “me me me” and more about my child.

You can read more, including some tips on how I’m managing to keep things simple this school year, over at

The Lake Life

Fishing at the Lake

Lately I’ve found myself so inspired by my own life. I don’t say this because my life is totally amazing in every way, but because for a few years I found myself utterly bored by my surroundings. The funny thing about boredom is that most of the time it has nothing to do with what is happening around me, but everything to do with what is happening inside my own head. I spent the last few years learning how to appreciate this beautiful life I’ve been given, and now, when I look around, I can’t help but be in awe.

If you’ve been following along with my photography journey, you may have noticed I’ve been including videos with my family clients’ photo reveals. This is something new that I started earlier this year, and I love it! I think the mix of images with short video clips really brings the experience to life for those of us watching. I think of these videos as a keepsake for my clients, something they can share with friends and family, and hold on to in order to look back and remember these silly, funny days of parenthood.

However, lately I’ve found myself inspired by photographers like Kansas Pitts, who not only makes these videos for her clients, but also for herself! Now, unlike Kansas Pitts, I don’t own a drone or a GoPro or live in a beautiful beach town…but that doesn’t mean I can’t document my own family’s adventures in my own unique way.

This summer has been especially lovely for us because for the first time, my kids are fairly independent and we able to experience more without the hassles of traveling with very young children. There are no more diapers, baby food or loads of gear to drag along with us. For the past few years, traveling to my parent’s lake cabin has been hit or miss…Tate didn’t love the water, Lucy was afraid of seaweed and neither slept well when we weren’t at home. But this year has been fantastic! The kids spend hours jumping off the dock, swimming, fishing and playing. We ride the jet ski and tube, kayak, float on rafts and roast marshmallows over the fire in the evenings. It’s pretty stinking magical, if I do say so myself.

So on our last trip, I decided to try and capture some video along with images and make a little keepsake of the first summer of relative freedom. It makes me smile, and I hope it makes you smile too. Life is good. Lake life is better.

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