Farm Sunset October 2016

Being Here, in 2017

Friends! It’s the start of a new year…and honestly, it’s a time where I can get easily overwhelmed. In the past I’ve written about lofty goals and ideas I want to tackle in the next 350+ days, but this year feels different. I have been struggling to wrap my head around last year and plan what comes next in several facets of my life. But after a chat with a good friend I realized something really important:

I’m already here.

The last three years or so have been a crash course in goals, resolutions and overcoming obstacles. Almost every facet of my life has gone through a fairly extreme overhaul…from my marriage to my career to my parenting status to my family. Illness and health have been a huge factor in the past few years, both for myself and for those I love the most. After really taking a look back on last year and everything I went through, I felt a sense of calm. Did I accomplish every goal I set out for myself last January? No. Not even close. But I learned so much and one of the biggest lessons was that I don’t have to wait until January 1 to decide to change my life for the better. I make that choice on a daily basis.

Farm Sunset October 2016

Last year was a big one for my business. I completely overhauled my pricing and the way I sell my photography. I created and facilitated the 30 Days of Summer Photo Challenge, which had hundreds of participants. I did a dozen television segments. I went to Greece to photograph a refugee camp. And I photographed dozens of families, newborns, children and couples…it was a fantastic year! Personally, I went through many (MANY) challenges, but I’m very proud of how I came through it all, even though there is MUCH to improve upon. One of the biggest personal goals last year was getting fit, slowly and surely, over about nine months of hard work, exercise and nutritional changes. I feel better physically today than I did in my 20s, which is saying something! I am officially in my mid-30s now and I feel stronger than I ever have. I also started working to find ways to make an impact as an activist in my community. This is something I didn’t plan on when 2016 began, but now I’m grateful for the opportunity.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to some more changes in how I do business, with a focus on continuing to be profitable while also serving my family, friends and community. There will hopefully be a few more writing and blogging projects (which took a backseat last year) and maybe even a new creative endeavor or two! I want to create more than I consume, and make the world a little more joyful every day. I am excited to reach out and work with even more creatives and amazing people doing wonderful work in my community.

If you’re interested in working with me in 2017, or you have an awesome project you want to chat about, send me a note at Let’s make this the best year yet!

Bê Sînor - Sinatex Cultural Center

The Bracelet

In the next few months, I plan to share more about my trip to Greece in October…this is the first post of many that will hopefully convey a bit of what we saw at the refugee camp outside of Thessaloniki. I hope by sharing these stories, I can help raise awareness for the Syrian people who have fled their war torn country looking for a better life for themselves and their children. For more information please visit the the Bê Sînor – Sinatex Cultural Center on Facebook.

Bê Sînor - Sinatex Cultural Center

As we drove to the Bê Sînor – Sinatex Cultural Center (the refugee camp I visited in Greece in October), we chatted with our cab driver. A kind man, he even stopped at a cafe on the way because he noticed I didn’t have a frappe (an iced coffee drink that’s super popular in Greece) and wanted me to have one. We talked about the city where we were staying and he told us about his teenage son. Soon the topic moved on to where we were headed…the refugee camp outside of town in the old textile factory. He was kind, but firm about the challenges facing his country as they deal with the ongoing economic and refugee crises there simultaneously. Greece is in extreme financial peril, and yet, due to their geography and location across the sea, they have taken in more refugees from Syria (and Africa) than any other nation in the European Union. They have the least in terms of resources to support this influx, and yet, the boats still come.

Bê Sînor - Sinatex Cultural Center

I could sense his frustration and while I didn’t agree with everything he was saying, I understood why he felt the way he did. He said he didn’t understand why we would come visit his beautiful city, just to head out the camp, where no Greeks visit. He shook his head in disbelief, but drove us to our destination, and then promised to return to get us later in the day.

Bê Sînor - Sinatex Cultural Center

That day was one I will never forget, but one of the most significant moments in my memory is when my friend Theresa was interviewing a few of the teachers for her research project. The kids immediately noticed the teachers were sitting down to talk with Theresa, so they ran over (as all kids would) to figure out what was going on. As I saw the teachers struggling a bit to concentrate on Theresa’s interview with kids hanging on their every word, the old camp counselor and coach in me came out, and I started playing with the kids to distract them. We played hide and seek, did puzzles, painted and threw around a football. One sweet girl with huge brown eyes pulled me over to a quiet spot on a large rock under a tree, and asked me to hold a knotted end of string. She started braiding, carefully and slowly, little fingers making sure every move was perfect. She asked me where I was from, if I was married, and if I had any kids of my own. She wanted to know my kids’ names, and then she repeated them over and over…their American names foreign to her ears and tongue. She held my hand for the most of the afternoon, and whenever she had a free moment, she stopped to work on the bracelet she was crafting out of string. “For you,” she said.

Bê Sînor - Sinatex Cultural Center

Before we knew it (and honestly, before I was ready, even though it was almost dusk) we saw the cab driving up the dirt road to pick us up. The sweet girl tried to finish the bracelet as quickly as possible so I could take it with me, and while she worked, the cab driver got out of the car and waved at us. As we gathered our things and headed toward the car, my new friend followed me. I loaded up my belongings, and she ran over to hug me, kiss my cheeks, and thank me for telling her about my life. She handed me the half-finished bracelet and I promised her I’d finish it up and wear it, always.

The cab ride home was quiet. Our driver’s mood and energy was completely different. I could tell seeing the children, especially my interaction with the little girl, had affected him. His words were kind. He spoke of the refugees in a different way on the drive home. He asked questions about what we saw. He softened. We were quiet.

Today I wear my bracelet with pride. I brought home the unfinished project, and completed it at my kitchen table, with my own children by my side. Right after the election, I noticed it had fallen off and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was devastated…but when I texted Theresa to tell her how sad I was that the bracelet was gone, she simply replied with, “But your heart is there.”

She is right. As always. My heart is there.

A week ago I found my bracelet, hidden just under my bed. I am wearing it again, and I hope it will always remind me of the sweet girl with the brown eyes…who not only gave me a beautiful gift, but softened the heart of a kind man with nothing but a small act of love.

2016 Crazy Bananas Reader Survey + Giveaway!

UPDATE : This giveaway is now closed. The winner (chosen by random number generator) is MELISSA KELLY! Thank you so much for everyone who helped out by filling out the reader survey. I can’t wait to bring you new, fun content this year!

It’s that time of year again friends…time for the Crazy Bananas Reader Survey! I’m always looking to you guys to learn what you want to read about here on this little blog of mine, so I try to check in from time to time to see what you’re loving, what isn’t your favorite, and what you’d like to see more of. You can participate by clicking HERE to complete the 2016 Reader Survey, which shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.

Giveaway + Reader Survey

I know your time is valuable, so to thank you for sharing some of it with me, I am giving away a fun prize pack to one of you who completes the survey. This prize pack includes the following:

– Two (2) Tickets to A Night with Janis Joplin at the Kauffman Center via the Kansas City Broadway Series
– One (1) Complimentary Game of Bowling or Bocce at Pinstripes Bistro
– One (1) Sunflower Print from my Etsy Shop

Not too shabby, am I right? All you have to do is click the link above, complete the survey, then leave a comment below this post to enter to win! Easy peasy!

Want to up your chances of winning? I hear ya…so here are a few more ways you can gain additional entries:

– Following Crazybananas on Instagram
– Liking Crazybananas on Facebook
– Following Crazybananas on Twitter

Don’t forget, once you’ve followed any of my social media accounts (or if you’re already following!) to come back to this post and leave a comment so I can be sure your entry is counted! This giveaway will close on Monday, February 29th at 5 p.m.

Thank you again for all of your support, love, guidance, silly memes and high fives throughout the years. I am so humbled and grateful. I’m not really a hugger, but I’d give you all a huge bear hug if I could!

A Note From the Trenches of Motherhood

Oh, hey there friends! Is everyone doing okay? Keeping your heads above water?

Sunday Morning Project

The last few weeks have been overwhelming and awesome. There are days when I am so, so grateful to have a flexible work life so I can be with my kids when they need me, and days when all I want to do is drop them off at daycare and run out the door. These few weeks at the end of summer are always challenging, as our summer babysitter heads back to college, but my kids don’t yet head back to school. This year was doubly challenging because we had gone on an amazing vacation, so the work had piled up while we were away, just in time for me to be a full time mama again. Yes, I realize these are ridiculous problems (oh no, too much work AND an amazing vacation…poor me!), but they are problematic nonetheless. I realized pretty early into this three week period, I would have to suck it up, and some things would have to fall through the cracks. Things like this blog.

Now, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me to not be able to find time to blog (please see note above about ridiculous problems). This very summer I taught a blogging workshop for creatives where I proclaimed bloggers MUST BE CONSISTENT! BLOG ON A REGULAR SCHEDULE! USE YOUR EDITORIAL CALENDAR! PLAN AHEAD!


While I still believe all of those things wholeheartedly, I also believe a person’s health and well-being are more important than a consistent blogging schedule. Also, when I’m stressed I get insane writer’s block. I’ve learned that trying to force it when I am blocked just doesn’t work, so this time around, I decided to let it go. I still had writing deadlines for some of my freelance jobs, plus photo sessions to edit and new projects to plan. My coveted screen time had to be reserved for those priorities, and so the blog sat quietly.

But that’s the thing I’ve learned about blogging in the past 11 years…no matter what, the blog is always there. In previous years it’s sat dormant for over a month before I could write, and it didn’t disappear. These days I’m lucky to have an amazing social media following, so I can still connect with my readers and followers, even if I don’t have the time or energy to devote to a full blog post. In fact, some of my favorite projects have been created during these types of dry spells. Just this morning I woke up inspired and decided to create a new photo series called the “Sunday Morning Project.” Will it be amazing? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just an idea that will fade. I don’t know. All I know is that my head is currently above water, and within the next week, both of my kids will be back in school. So for now, there’s just one thing to do….

…just keep swimming.


Elsewhere : A Roundup

You guys, it’s been fun around here lately! I’ve been so fortunate to have a ton of new opportunities head my way in the past few months, but often, I forget to share them with you once they are out in the wild. While this blog and my photography will always be my first loves, it’s pretty cool to be able to write for other outlets and share about things that might not be a good fit somewhere else. With that, here are a few things I’ve been working on…

parenting with an age gap
My first post on the Kansas City Moms Blog went up last week, and it’s all about parenting kids with an age gap.

Most of my friends and family had children within one or two years of each other, meaning when they have activities or plans, for the most part all of their children can participate and enjoy. Taking a 9-year-old to a preschool play date isn’t exactly her idea of a great time! And my son is constantly whining because his sister gets to have sleepovers with friends and more independence. When I try to explain that he is only four, and sleepovers don’t happen in our family until kindergarten, he usually just stomps off in a huff. I get it. Being little stinks sometimes. It can be extremely frustrating to parent children going through completely different life stages. On one hand you have a toddler temper tantrum, but on the other you have a tween rolling her eyes and crying over friend drama. It’s exhausting, and can feel like you’re constantly switching gears.

Read more about how we’re taking on these challenges on the Kansas City Moms Blog!

A few weeks ago I assisted for a Senior Elite Photo Session with Amanda Yount Photography! It was such a fun experience! There is a great write-up and video from the session on her blog.

This spring and summer in Kansas City has been one of the wettest in recent history. For almost a month it rained daily, with flooding becoming a real threat to the area. So we weren’t surprised when the rain clouds rolled in, but we prayed they would pass over without incident. We arrived at the baseball fields and the girls changed into some adorable Royals gear, but as we gathered in the bleachers, the wind picked up and the rain started to fall. We all ran to our cars, and decided as a group to try and wait out the storm. There was lots of texting between cars, and I’m so grateful for these girls, who were total rockstars. After about 30 minutes, the rain slowed and the clouds parted! The team wiped down the bleachers, and we were ready to go!

See more (along with the amazing images) on the Amanda Yount Photography blog! Expert Blogger

I’m so proud to be a Recovery Expert Blogger over at! One of my favorite things is helping other people through telling my recovery story. I feel like everything I’ve gone through is worth sharing, especially if it helps even just one person. My first post was all about how I coped with being a summer mama while going through early recovery.

After that initial outing, I found other tools to help me through the hot summer months. The biggest and probably most important was learning how to ask for help. Before recovery, I was an A+ parent who refused any assistance. But as a mom in recovery, I had to learn how to ask for help when I was overwhelmed. And I quickly learned something amazing: People want to help! It makes others feel good when they help you! What a revelation! All that time I’d assumed that if I asked for help I would be seen as a burden. Turns out asking for help made me stronger than I’d ever been.

Read more over at!

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