November Goals | 2018

  • Monthly Goals:
    • Finish all Christmas shopping by November 30
    • Plan December Meals
    • Date Night Swap with friends
    • turn 31!
    • December goal party with Sarah
    • finish How to Break Up With Your Phone 
    • make book list for 2019
  • Weekly Goals:
    • Write the Word 2x a week
    • Weekly budget meeting with Marshall
    • Get to yoga 1x a week at the Y
    • Instagram only on Wednesdays and Sundays
  • Daily Goals:
    • up at 5am
    • drink 2 liters of water (via Camelbak or Smart Water liters)
    • write one blog post a day
    • go outside, breathe and look at the sun
    • look at Everydollar budget every day (set an alarm reminder)

June 2018 Goals

20180607_May Everyday01


Once upon a time I decided February 1st would become my January 1st, and then not long after that it became March 1st, then April 1st and HERE WE ARE! June 1st was my January 1st! I think I finally have my bearings after having my daughter a year ago. Maybe? A little bit? Now that we’ve left the magical little baby stage behind and the kids are a little bit bigger and a little (read: VERY LITTLE) more predictable, I am building some new rhythms for myself as a working at home mama of two.

Monthly goals! I actually think it’s been a full twelve months since I’ve blogged my goals, and it took me several months, but I just wrapped up the Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters and I am fired up. The entire premise of the Powersheets is “where do you want your life to be when you’re 80? Does this goal help you get there? If not, move on. If so– cultivate it.” Truly an incredibly fresh outlook on goal setting.

  • Finish the spring semester strong!  Actually this was wrapped up as of Tuesday at midnight, but I still wanted to include it. A MAJOR VICTORY! Although I felt like I was limping over the finish line, I FINISHED. 
  • Finish designing 2017 Chatbook
  • Order the 2016 Leap Year, 2017 Family and Emmeline Grows Chatbooks
  • 1:1 meetings with my RAL photo team members
  • Plan July RDU Creative Team Night w/
  • Shoot at least 5 Love Week Events!
  • Continue the 100 Days of Blogging
  • Get to the Y 3x a week (yoga, total body and THE POOL)
  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning before I do anything else
  • Strong start to my online summer session!
  • Cultivate morning routine: drink water, kiss Marshall, create (write or read)

This is going to be an awesome summer. I CAN FEEL IT! Let’s go!

February Goal Type Things 2017

  • set up and start bullet journaling 
    • I have the most wonderful undated monthly/weekly/daily planner from Target that I discovered was a one time collaboration and it sent me spiraling into the depths of the internet to find a new one. I’m super duper not interested in paying more than $20 (even that’s more than I’d want to pay…) for something I will scribble on, spill coffee on and that potentially has features I do not need, care about or plan to use. Per the recommendation of my sweet friend Marie, I finally Googled some bullet journaling tutorials and that is TOTALLY how I already run my work flow/schedule– except I was using a pre-made undated planner. Amazing. I’m excited to try it, and am looking forward to having a central location for lists too. I have a running tab of lists in my phone and legal pads about and the idea of having them all in one place gets me so excited. I found a cheap-ish one on Amazon that will arrive tomorrow and now I just need a good black pen. Hit me with your favorites. 
  • start teaching round 2 of Financial Peace University
    • It’s starting February 19th! We’ve partnered with Elevation Raleigh to offer this course AGAIN with free childcare, coffee and no rush hour traffic. We will meet at Millbrook High School on Sundays during the 9:30 worship experience. The course runs for 9 weeks and you are free to come check it out without investing in the kit– it WILL change your life! Register here:
  • go to Ikea (FINALLY YOU GUYS) 
    • I get paid on February 10th and we have quite an Ikea list. Several house projects are in the works and we are borrowing a mini-van and plan to fill ‘er up! Yippee! 
  • assemble king bed + move queen bed to the Big Boy Room + move crib into the Baby Girl Room! 
    • We’re playing musical beds! We’re getting a memory foam king bed (adulting, so much adulting) and our queen mattress is going in Lincoln’s room and his crib (now toddler bed) is getting moved into baby girl’s room. 
  • make a nesting to-do list and clean out, organize and start preparations for Baby Girl’s Room!
    • We’ve already gone through the clothes, downsized tremendously and have a ton of NB through 3mo stuff washed and ready, just need to get it in the room, put it all away and hang stuff on the walls. Post coming soon with inspiration for her room. EEEEEEP. 
  • complete Foto February Challenge
    • I came up with this photo challenge for the month just for funsies. I’ve only done one so far, and it’s really fun! And really challenging to let go of the pretty image ideal… jump in! There are no rules! 
  • finish reading Respect Dare
    • This book has been pivotal in this season of transition. We’re not quite newlyweds, we’re preparing to transition to two kids, we’ve been in our house for five years.. it’s an interesting place to be and this book has provided such a shift in perspective for me. It is cheesy at times and the lil’ feminist in me sometimes screams and wants to stop reading it, but I’m finding it important that I challenge my thinking on all front and see things from other perspectives.  I’m slated to finish it in the next two weeks (I’m a bit behind) and there are already quite a few “dares” that I haven’t really done full out and I’d like to do again. Perhaps this fall will be a good time to do that, I think! Regardless, I totally recommend it if you’re looking for some guidance in approaching marriage biblically. Men speak respect, women speak love and it’s a really great combination of these ideas with some practical tips, “dares” and reflections. A great “quiet time” piece and has sparked some wonderful conversations between Marshall and I. Highly recommend! 
  • maintain existing + continue developing good habits
    • I’ve upgraded my water bottle to a 1L and am drinking 2-3 liters a day. Want to keep that up! 
    • I’ve been getting up early to work in the mornings and it has been a game changer for my stress level! Finding such peace and joy working in the wee hours of 5 and 6am. I don’t even know who I am anymore…
    • I lowered my step goal to 6k a day, and some days it’s easy to hit and surpass, others not so much. Get back to walking every day and yoga 1x a week once I hit 30 weeks. 
  • enjoy at least one Lincoln + Mama day each week
    • I’m getting all nostalgic about only having ~13ish weeks left of this pregnancy, and the transition to 2 YEARS OLD hasn’t been too bad, but there are definitely a few more tantrums than there used to be. It’s getting more difficult to wrangle him in public when he decides to not obey, BUT– it’s worth it. We’ve been going to Marbles a lot, would like to maybe go to Pullen Park and ride the train one day, go get special donuts at Levant… and also, would like to document one of these with my big camera. 

November 2016 Goal Type Things

HEY NOVEMBER! I really like you. Not sure if these are goals or just a list of things to look forward to, either way, I’m down!

  • turn 29! Celebrate the weekend of with so many of my favorite things: Cornhuskin’ at my alma mater, dinner with wonderful friends Friday and Saturday night, shooting child dedications at church on Saturday, shooting the worship experience on Sunday, and who knows what else! 
  • start leading Financial Peace University on Tuesday nights at our house 
  • print our Halloween photo from this year (and two years ago, couldn’t find it before) to stash w/ our fall decor
  • lots of fun essential oil/diy projects. Order glass bottles and:
    • make Thieves sanitizing hand spray 
    • re-do face toner w/ YL oils 
    • make lavender linen spray
    • make ACV hair rinse
    • make floor cleaner
    • some roller blends (immune boost, fever decreaser, stress away, etc.) 
  • go to Ikea and purchase our KING SIZE BED
  • before going to Ikea phase 1 of big boy room prep: get all baby clothes boxed up and ready to go through once we find out gender of #2 (probably not until December); go through the room and THROW AWAY/DONATE anything that is just sitting there taking up space
  • knock some things off our fun fall to-do list
    • paint pumpkins (we didn’t squeeze this in before Halloween so we’re gonna make Thanksgiving pumpkins? Whatever that means)
    • make and enjoy a little just us family (paleo) Thanksgiving before the big day 
    • donate to the Food Bank 
  • Second Annual Tacosgiving with my sister and her family and my dad. The day after Thanksgiving, we will eat tacos and finish off the night with cutie cousin boys in matching Christmas pajamas. 
  • start prenatal yoga
  • make a pregnancy “don’t forget” list– only 26 more weeks! That sounds like a lot but it doesn’t feel like a lot… 
  • select and print a minimum of 10 family/Lincoln photos from the year to hang on our hallway photo wall
  • make detailed Christmas list and budget spreadsheet, including giving 
  • decorate our house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving! 
  • create the frame for Lincoln’s baby book. I was INSPIRED a few weeks ago to totally redo/finish his baby book. 
I’m ready! Let’s finish strong 2016! 

July Goals

If you’re keeping score, you’ll notice that I dropped the ball on May and June goals. Oopsies. But, I’m back and we’re officially in the second half of 2016 and I’m here and reporting for duty.
Since I last checked in, things have been wild and crazy! I wrapped up the 2015-2016 school year *praise hands*, and started the 2016-2017 school year in a brand new LMS and it’s amazing. My friend Stephanie and I started a mom group through church and have held weekly playdates which has been  super enjoyable, and not very stressful as I initially thought it would be. My course load for the summer is low, so I’m enjoying a slow summer. This is very welcomed, especially after last summer, so we’ve been enjoying slow summer days with a little bit of work scattered here and there, and lots of fun things for me. I’ve been gardening (we’ve eaten three zucchinis from our yard!) and walking and writing and Shopkicking and just general chilling out, loving my people. I’ve been tempted to fill my days with things, but one of my dear friends candidly told me last night that I live my life at one speed: warp speed. This made me chuckle, but it is kind of true… so, this is me. Slowing down, and trying to stay awake. Really I have two speeds: warp, and sleeping. I take an annual sabbath week between Christmas and New Year’s, but I’m open to the idea of observing one in the summer months too. 
So here’s my slow and easy July goals! 
  • Finish Wild and Free, start Greater
  • Host my first outreach project with Elevation Raleigh during Love Week– a dance for my friends at the Durham County Special Olympics. I am so in over my head with planning this, but it’s going to be fun! If you’re local, sign up! You don’t have to go to Elevation!
  • Celebrate the Elevation Raleigh 2 year anniversary on July 24!
  • Second shoot a wedding with my wonderful friend Stephanie Byrd.
  • Use Nikon lenses with the Mark ii for our “everyday” July photos.
  • Get to bed by 10pm every night, wake up at 6am.
  • Go for an intentional walk daily and/or meet 10k step goal.
  • Write every day– not necessarily to blog, but just for fun.
  • Get my nose pierced. I’ve been thinking about it long enough. It’s happening. It’s time. 

Our Everyday Photos: The End of May

My goal of documenting a whole day from start to finish has become increasingly challenging, as this baby of ours is turning more and more into a little boy right before my eyes! These photos were taken over the past week, just having my camera in tow and sitting out at home. I took almost 600 pictures, flagged 100 and narrowed it down to these 35 to blog. Man oh man. I have a hard time deleting pictures of Lincoln.

It’s summertime, and as much as I’m dreading the 100º weather, and the sweat that comes with it, I love spending these days with this kid. Last week I wrapped up spring semester and my year long courses, and we have just a few weeks to hang out, take naps, play with cousins before summer session starts. So, this is what we’re up to these days now that it’s officially summer break!

I’m growing my first food garden. I started simple with zucchini, herbs and carrots this year. So far we have two baby zucchinis and one carrot is flourishing! I’ve already killed one basil, but rosemary is going strong.

Lincoln’ loves to play his jingle bells in the backseat when we ride in the car. It’s seriously his favorite. Dances and sings along to whatever music is playing, and lately plays the jingle bells too! 

We got to spend the day with my sister and nephews last week and played outside some. The boys loved it. I am so thankful they are close in age and aren’t too far away so we can get together and play! I love this picture. It reminds me of baby pictures of Marshall so much. 

Lately, Lincoln is all about wearing his water shoes around the house, sitting on the couch by himself and having very specific opinions about which cup he wants to drink out of. 

We’ve been drilling “look but don’t touch” towards computers since he started pulling up (10 months). Clearly it’s going well. 

Marshall cooks dinner pretty much every night (he’s the best), and so my job is to entertain Lincoln, unless I’m working and Marshall somehow does both. 

We love the little applesauce packets from Aldi, and a few weeks ago they had some “special buy” ones with sweet potato and blueberry, and spinach and pear! I bought like 10 boxes because Lincoln loved them when he was younger. The labels are different than the other ones, and he seriously gives them a once-over before eating them. If it has the new label (pictured above) he doesn’t want anything to do with them. Smarty pants. 

He has gotten SO tall lately. Seventeen months old this month. 

So tired. I think this was a short or no-nap day. 

I think he’s had a runny nose since his birthday. 

Lately loves to play “I’m gonna get you!”. If you say, “I’m… gonna….” he starts laughing like a crazy person and runs TOWARD you. 

Breakfast for dinner is one of our favorite things! We love these waffles so much. 

 Lately Lincoln has started noticing when we pray at home before meals and when we’re at church or if he’s at egroup or a church meeting with me. It is the best. He says “baaaaaaaby” instead of amen. Tonight at dinner he kept reaching for our hands and saying “paaay”, which is also how he says “play”. So cute. We’d take turns thanking God for stuff (mama is feeling better, it’s not raining today, yummy porkchops and broccoli, yummy water to drink, etc.) and he would babble something in Lincoln-ese and then say “baaaaaaaby” and Marshall and I would say “aaaaaaamen!”.

 And this is how a lot of dinners go these days. There’s usually a mid-meal meltdown.
 My super favorite dramatic Lincoln crying pose as of late. Covers eyes. Wails. 

 But, it’s all good once a parent holds him and lets him eat off their plate (it’s usually mine, but I was taking pictures).
 And bonus points if parent’s plate gets moved to the high chair.

 Sunday mornings when I shoot and Marshall plays bass, we get this kid up at 5:30am and head to church by 6 and he LOVES it. This was in between bites of banana at 6am and he was so happy to be there! I could write volumes about our church and how much we love serving on Sundays, especially together. They love us and our boy so well!

 Dude has become quite a picky eater as of late, and so I figured all of America may be onto something with the whole PB&J thing, so I made him one on gluten free bread (of course) and he loved it. It’s become kind of a staple around here the past week or so, but just PB and honey. We are out of J, which is totally fine with me 🙂

This daredevil is all about standing in his high chair, which I halfway want to get in a picture, but also feel like if I let him do it long enough he’ll fall / think it’s okay to do. So…. this is what I got before I intervened. 

After most meals or snacks, if it isn’t nap time we’ll head upstairs and play in the playroom. He’ll run in saying “paaaaaaaay!” which is the cutest thing ever. He’ll usually play by himself for a little bit (it took him a while to be able to do this) and sometimes I’ll sit on the futon and read, play with my phone or work (not this week, though!) and I try to sit down and play with him for a few minutes. Lately he wants to sit with me on the futon or he’ll come over to me and tell me “paaaaaaay!” which is fun. He loves the shape puzzle (and apparently taught himself how to do it a few weeks ago… I might be a first timer, but I was SHOCKED when I saw him put all the pieces in the right place!), Legos and lately is super into cars (rooooom!) and trains (too-too!). We watched an episode of Little Einsteins the other day and Rocket turned into a train and I thought Lincoln was going to pee his pants. He was SO excited about the too-too. 

Like this week Lincoln has started playing with the camera I got him for Easter. It has interchangeable lenses which I LOVE and today he sat for like 15 minutes just swapping the lenses in and out and saying “cheese!”. 

I just want to memorize those baby fingers and toes and keep them forever. 

“Cheese!” not sure if this is just toddler backwards-ness or if he’s taking a selfie. 

Oh, little man. I love these days just the two of us. They are so fun, exhausting and messy. We pretty much have food all over our face (and some boogers, and some dog hair) a lot of the time. Sometimes we go to Target in the clothes we slept in. We have messy hair pretty much constantly. Wouldn’t trade this time for anything. Here’s to summer number two! 

Our Everyday Photos: April 11

Monday, April 11th was a fun day! We woke up and went to the park with our friends, came home and ate lunch, played some more downstairs and upstairs in the playroom. Lincoln took a good nap after falling asleep standing up in his crib (this week was marked as “cry it out”week. Hard, but very very good and very necessary!), and woke up, had a snack and then we went for a walk. While we were out walking Dada got home and started making dinner and while he finished up dinner we played around downstairs. After dinner I had to teach a class so I missed bedtime, but next time I want to get pictures from wake-up to sleep time! Each of these is such a sweet part of our days right now. Playing, podcasts, bananas, crazy hair, reading books, baby Legos,  talking on the “phone”, snuggling stuffed animals, walks, fun talks about farm animals, obsession with bubbles, trying to eat with a fork… we have fun. Play all day! 

March Goals

Hellooooooo March! I can’t lie, I am overjoyed to see that February has passed. Fingers crossed we are done with winter weather and moving on towards greater things (like, I don’t know…. SUMMER?!). February was great! I did a pretty terrible job of my goals overall, but I’ve seen the areas that need improvement and I have a plan. And in the words of Lara Casey who spoke to me yesterday through her book: Progress– not perfection. And I’ve made some progress. Some.

February Goals:

  • Check Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter only once a day. I really, really did a terrible job at this. I’m pretty sure there’s some science out there about abstaining from something and then bingeing on that thing…and that’s pretty much what happened. I started checking social media more. Anyway, I’ve decided to check it morning and night, and keep it off during my work day when I go upstairs to work. Logging out and everything. 
  • Post daily on Instagram an iPhone pic of the “ordinary” for my #chaney366 project. It was bound to happen, but I missed a day: February 28th. Womp. I decided to post twice on leap day (the whole point of the #366 thing, too!) but it’s all good. I’m loving this. Totally doing this every year from here on out. I am finding it so hard to pick one picture for the day though! I am constantly torn between a Lincoln pic and a just-because pic. 
  • Finish work before Marshall gets home so we can relax after dinner once Lincoln goes to bed.  This did not happen most days, although it happened some days. We were transitioning to a new babysitter this month so I didn’t have any help for the month of February which basically meant I started my week behind. The new babysitter started yesterday (and she is wonderful!) and I have high hopes for the month of March. It all boils down to being more disciplined and not resting or procrasti-cleaning when L is napping. 
  • Get in bed by 10pm (at the latest).  This happened some. Cracking down this month! Sleep is EVERYTHING. 
  • Go to the dentist. This happened and it was terrible. Marshall went too and we both have cavities and will be going back again before our 6 month check this summer. So much adulting.
  • Blog my personal “every day” pictures from January! Check! 
  • Blog Lincoln’s first Christmas and birthday. Didn’t blog his birthday yet, but I will in March!
  • Move our personal photos on to my Smug Mug page from Lincoln’s first year and my pregnancy. Smug Mug is changing my life! A post all about it will follow. 
  • Savor this season of “long days” and “short years”.   Wondering if I jinxed myself into the no-babysitter situation with this goal, because MAN days are long when you’re constantly back-and-forth momming and teachering. Cutting back on social media has really allowed me to really take-in the everyday moments that I usually miss when I’m scrolling through Instagram. Appreciating that. 
  • Celebrate my nephews turning 2 and 4! 
  • Go to at least one free yoga class at Grow The Boutique. 
  • Start a new book.  Started and Finished “Make it Happen” by Lara Casey! A good quick read, although in this current season I feel pretty content. I think it will be good for me to re-read in a couple of years when we are out of debt with older kids and I’m looking for new direction. I feel pretty confident and content in where I am and my purpose these days. 
Goals for March:
  • Host a baby shower for my sweet friend Emily! She’s expecting a little girl this summer and I am so excited!
  • Be going to bed consistently at 10pm and waking up at 6am by the end of the month. Transition by getting up a little bit earlier each day until I reach the goal. I have discovered the bliss of having time to fix myself breakfast before little people get up and demand things. 
  • Host and participate in the #moreveggiesinmarch challenge on social media! More about that here: I’m shooting for 5 servings a day! Tomorrow is grocery day, so pickings are kind of slim around here… I’ll probably be eating 5 salads.
  • Read (Un)Qualified by Pastor Steven Furtick. 
  • Read New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else). (Two books in one month is VERY ambitious!).
  • Blog Lincoln’s First Fiesta.
  • Blog “everyday photos” from March.
  • Go to “The Most Excellent Way to Lead” conference at Newspring Church in SC!
  • Go for a walk every day that it is not raining. 
  • Pay off the bottom Sallie Mae loan.
Happy March-ing! 

2016 Goals: part two

(Read my 2016 goals part one, review of 2015 goals)

“If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry 

and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, 

Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, 

your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. 

I will always show you where to go.

  I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— 

firm muscles, strong bones.

You’ll be like a well-watered garden, 

a gurgling spring that never runs dry.

You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.” 

Isaiah 58: 9-12 | The Message translation

This year my word is thrive. I kind of forgot that I had chosen this for my word a few weeks ago until today when I was talking to Marshall about a verse I was looking for. It seems like a perfect successor to 2015’s (newly appointed) word of survive. This is going to be a great year, for sure. We’re a bit more settled into our lives as parents. I have found a good groove with working from home and being the primary caregiver for our Lincoln guy. We have some friends expecting their first babies (at least three that we know about already! eee!) and Marshall’s brother plans to get married this fall. There is so much to look forward to, especially with our teeny little jokester who is turning into a toddler right before our eyes. It is amazing how much he has grown and changed in just the past two weeks, I can’t really fathom how quickly he’ll be two and telling me ‘no’. Marshall and I were reflecting on the year a few weeks ago, discussing what worked well and what did not work so great and I mentioned that I really wanted to thrive in 2016. I want to grow as a mom (to match the demands of my growing boy!), as a wife, and in my role as an online teacher. 

This season of new parenthood has changed me completely. My whole perspective on everything is just plain different. My heart change paired with my health struggles last year have really made me realize the importance of self care and what it means to care for myself so I can be the best mom, best wife and best person I can be. For me, the biggest foundational block is food. What I put into my body is super important and really affects me physically. In anticipation of frustration and temptation of doing the autoimmune protocol diet for a few months I asked Marshall to help me find a verse, quote or word that would help me to re-focus on why I’m doing this in the first place. He did some Googling (does it seem more spiritual if I say ‘researching’….?) and read a few to me and Isaiah 58:11 stuck out to me: 

You’ll be like a well-watered garden, 

a gurgling spring that never runs dry.

I immediately got this mental picture of the Garden of Eden (or what I imagine it looks like) before all the illegal apple picking went down. Lush, green fruits and vegetables growing with waterfalls and flowers, sunshine, blue skies, 60º perfection… a picture of the word thrive. I want to be a well-watered garden! 
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places– firm muscles, strong bones.

Our father is the best. A full life in the emptiest of places. Nothing about my life is empty, that is for sure. I have so much. A home, a job, a family, my health (although I’d like it to improve in some areas, I can sing, dance, walk and jump!). My life is full, for sure. But what a promise, to give us life in the emptiest of places, whatever that may look like.
So here’s to 2016! I’ve got some lofty goals (looking at you, dentist and reading list) and some loose ones (moving and blogging), and I’m excited! I also have absolutely zero goals for myself this year professionally (except for one, which will be easy), which I think may be the most exciting thing about this list. 
  • Complete (at minimum) 8 weeks of the Autoimmune Protocol Paleo Diet and keep a food journal of food reintroduction to identify potential sensitivities (including: eggs, sugars, dairy, chocolate, coffee) 
  • Take “real camera” photos each month of day-to-day life, Lincoln or family/friends events. Take LESS photos, but MORE intentional photos with a focus on improving technique. Blog each month for accountability. 
  • Develop a workflow for personal photos in Lightroom; at the end of each month take time to edit, save (delete RAW files), and print and/or add to photo book. 
  • Complete Lincoln’s baby book before he is 18 months old. Complete and order Lincoln Grows Volume 3 from Chatbooks. 
  • Move every day. Go for a walk, wear and meet FitBit goal, Mommy + Me classes, Kinect Yoga or Just Dance. Plan each week with meals. 
  • Blog once a week. Participate and learn from local blogger groups (Peony Project and TriFabb)
  • Read for a minimum of 10 minutes every night before bed.  
  • Pay off the bottom Sallie Mae loan (~$4k left), get the last one under $5k (currently ~$8k)!
  • Go to the dentist at least once. Bonus points for going twice. Double bonus points for getting husband to go, too. Quadruple double bonus points if he goes twice. 
  • Meet our neighbors on all sides, learn their names. Attend at least one HOA meeting. 
  • Utilize social media to build an online teacher presence through Periscope, Instagram and *gulp* Snapchat. 
Loose and lofty, that’s how I like it! Happy New Year, friends! 

On Babies, Debt & Big Dreams

It’s been about a year since I got pregnant. This spring weather has me feeling so nostalgic for those few weeks where I was pregnant and totally (shall I say, blissfully?) unaware. Every day I can’t wait to read my little Timehop app and see what I was doing and it just makes me giggle. Sweet Kellie. No idea about the little person in her belly just growing away. Drinking so much coffee because she was so sleepy. Oh, the giggles. 

Finding out we were expecting a baby was a total surprise, and –in total honesty– a little bittersweet. We had just paid of the second of five of my Sallie Mae loans after paying off all of Marshall’s. We were in the home stretch of our snowball (or as Marshall saw it, more like a giant ice mountain) and I was working face to face teaching elementary school Spanish. I switched to this job from teaching high school for several reasons: less planning required since I was teaching essentially 6 lessons a week (instead of 15), less grading (okay, no grading) and no extra duties other than the occasional open house. The switch made it possible for me to use my nights and weekends to work extra jobs online to add income to our debt snowball. 

Marshall had been the driving force  (In Dave Ramsey speak: The Nerd) behind our debt-getting-out-of-palooza and he, understandably, had lost some steam after two years, paying off his car, his loans, cash flowing a ton of house projects and the down payment on a house. It was like we had worked and pinched for so long and then turned a corner to see a mountain. It was discouraging. Paying off that second little Sallie Mae loan though, was just what I needed to pick up where he left off and I was SO motivated! We literally stayed up until 3am one night in early April just talking about life and we decided that we would definitely wait to be out of debt before having kids and then, we may even try to adopt first. Decided. Done. Cool. We were powering through the next two years to pay it off, a time investment now for a future of our dreams. 

Fastforward a few weeks, and that pregnancy test took all advertised three minutes to flash “pregnant” and our plans changed. The debt snowball came to a halt and that money was thrown into savings and spent on baby things. We needed to replace the flooring to make our upstairs livable for a tiny crawling human. We needed to stockpile cash for labor and delivery costs and got the rest of the stuff off of our baby registry that we didn’t get from showers and hand-me-downs. I savored every second of my pregnancy, from the onset of first-trimester nausea, baby kicks and rolls in the middle, all the way to my swollen feet at the end. I was just filled with so much joy as we made the transition slowly from newly married to becoming a family of three. Yet, as I watched our savings grow to a number I had never seen before in a bank account that carried my name (I am ‘The Free Spirit’ of our family) I felt a twinge of remorse and starting wondering “what if”. What if we had made just one decision differently, what would our financial situation be like? Would we be out of debt even sooner? This of course prompted an onset of undeniable “mommy guilt” which I’ll save for another day…

So, now. Lincoln is here, four months old, healthy and sweet as can be. I remember putting him in his crib one of those first few weeks and looking at him, so teeny and tiny in that big boy crib. All of a sudden it was like my whole life was staring me in the face. I felt a little nudge that seemed to say: this is it. This is where it counts. I had heard people say that they didn’t remember life before their kids and at the time I could not fathom such a feeling. But now, with my new perspective, I totally get it. 
For me, it is not that I don’t remember life before (although at times I truly wonder if sleeping all night really was a thing I did for twenty seven years) but it is more like that previous life was a practice run. The stakes are so much higher now. I want every minute to count for something. I want every second to be filled with joy. I don’t want to spend my days working, working, working, just to get a paycheck just to pay my bills. I want a life.

Whereas before, I really believed our life was changed for the inconvenient, I see now that it is so much better. I now find myself dreaming with a fervor like never before. This is it. This is my life. Time passing was just dates on a calendar before, but this growing, thriving little babe is my daily reminder that time is indeed passing. Every new trick he shows me, holding his head up, rolling over, smiling, getting stuck in his crib– is time flying by! God has given me so much in this little babe, so much perspective.

The last four months have been wonderful. They’ve been difficult. They’ve been exhausting. But I wouldn’t have changed a second. I think the hardest part (besides the sleep deprivation) is just the whole transitional thing, and not really knowing what to expect. I am leaving my face to face job to teach online full-time so I can be at home with Lincoln. This is amazing. I feel so grateful to be able to work from home. Making this change throws us into some uncertainty in terms of income and cashflow, as most job changes do, and my motivation to get out of debt is stronger than ever. Since meeting Lincoln, I have been daydreaming day after day, wondering how I could bring in extra income to get this thing done. 

This brings me back to photography. I love photography. My parents got me a little Kodak film camera for Christmas when I was 8 years old I spent all of Christmas day blowing through the rolls of film they gave me. I set up different backdrops with my American Girl Dolls and took pictures of them. I could not wait to get those pictures developed! I loved a summer camp, or birthday party or family vacation that meant getting a disposable camera to take with us! And now in the digital age where number of pictures doesn’t matter? Even better! There is just something so special about life being captured in photos. I remember getting our wedding pictures back from Nancy Ray and just being in tears, reliving our sweet wedding day. Even now, I can go back and flip through our wedding album and I just feel the jitters and anticipation leading up to the moment of walking down the aisle to my now husband. I can feel the sweet breeze on my face and the nerves in my belly that made it impossible for us to eat anything. I feel the complete and utter joy of having our closest friends and family all in one place, celebrating our love. 
Now, having Lincoln and the whirlwind that was his labor and delivery (that seemed an eternity long) I am so grateful my sister was able to be there to take some pictures of the first few minutes of his life. The look on Marshall’s face while holding his son for the first time. Our first few minutes as a family of three. These images represent the biggest or happiest seconds of our life that I want to live in forever. I want to save these moments for others. I want to give them images of their happiest minutes that they can look at and savor forever. 

So, photography. I’ve tried to start a “business” before. I’ve tried having websites before. I’ve tried before. I tried to be bigger than I was ready to be. I’ve tried to be like other photographers. This time is so different. This is about being genuine. Being myself. Doing things right. Doing things slowly. Being honest in business and with myself. Doing what fires me up.  Taking pictures. Blogging. Creating. Writing. Being a photographer. I am a photographer. 

Dreaming these dreams and taking the steps to make them a reality, I just think about little new Lincoln in his crib. I want him to be proud of his mama. I want him, at my age, to look at me and my life and see that I spent my days doing something that mattered, not only to me, but to others. I want him to see that it is possible to take a dream and make it real with discipline and wisdom. I want him to see that I took a chance, and maybe I didn’t get it right the first time, but I learned, and changed and grew. I want him to know that there is nothing between him and making whatever fires him up a reality but creativity, hard work and patience. I want him to know that life is about being true to yourself, honest, genuine and hardworking. 
So, photography details are forthcoming. There will be a post outlining all the goodies that are in the works– giveaways, collaborations and more! I am so excited for all of it. Once released, details and pricing will live at the top of this page under that little ‘Photography’ tab. I am so excited. Did I say I was excited? I am excited. So thrilled to grow this little space of mine. I have so many talented and creative friends that are going to be a part of this and I am positively giddy.

Dream big, today!