It’s okay if I look tired, if I look happy too.

You look tired. (5)

I actually hear this often. If doesn’t offend me. It’s just that I actually AM real tired. That’s just a side effect of motherhood, accompanied by the occasional boogers found on my clothes.

As a mom, we make sacrifices. Ones that we typically lovingly and willfully commit to. And some that we, like our toddlers, kick and scream usually on the inside, yelling noooooo! I feel this way when my sleep is interrupted. I know this is expected, but I still scream it on the inside every time I’m woke up at 2 a.m. (or anytime between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. honestly). 

It’s okay if I look tired, if I look happy too.

If I’m living my life inspired.

If I’m extending the grace instilled in me to others.

If I speak the truth and spread goodness where I go.

If it means I’m teaching my children a solid work ethic.

If I’m modeling what a true friend is.

If it means, I’m fulfilled creatively.

If it means I’m growing and learning.

If it means I’ve found something that matters to me.

If it means I’m free to live the life I choose and the negative judgement of others holds no weight.

That’s okay. I’m okay with tired then, because I know I’ve truly living an authentic life and my days are filled with laughter, joy, inspiration and unique challenges. I am energized by creative living and the solid foundation in the relationships I’ve developed with my friends and family.

Today and everyday, I challenge myself and you (if this is you) to choose to live your authentic self. The life you aspire for. The happiness that can truly be yours. The work for what you want.

After all, the dream is free. The hustle is sold separately. 



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10 Tips for Taking Amazing Photos of Your Kids

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I’m no perfect mom, but one of things I have had plenty of practice at is photographing my kids. I love it. Not only because I selfishly want to freeze time and lock these memories away to remember them forever, but also because I love the creativity of capturing emotion and storytelling through photography.

I’ve been interested in and enhancing my photography skills for over 10 years now, but it honestly, it doesn’t take much to learn. But like any interest, it takes practice. So a few tips along the way can be quite helpful.

Assuming you’re ready to get started, here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Invest in a quality, but affordable camera. You don’t need a top of the line cameras to obtain great results. A basic DSLR (or mirrorless if you prefer) will do. Whatever you choose, it should be a quality camera that you are committed to learning how to use. The camera is simply a tool to bring out your vision. If you’re looking for a recommendation for a camera. This is a great starter Canon DSLR and affordable for most. If you prefer Nikon, this would be it’s counterpart. I don’t plan to get involved in the Canon and Nikon debate because in my opinion they are both equally as great in quality, however in my opinion Canon is just easier to learn to use. Some people fall in love with the idea of owning a Nikon, without really understanding the first thing about them.                                                                                 IMG_1536
  2. Learn to shoot in manual mode. You can learn photography on your own, after all the camera comes with a manual. You can learn from YouTube or even in college. I’m mostly self-taught, but after years of persistence, I finally became a lifetime member to ClickinMoms. This was the best decision in enhancing my photography skills. They have a basic course on understanding the exposure triangle. This is when photography finally really ‘clicked’ for me (pun intended). I cannot recommend it enough.                                                                                                                     IMG_1259-2
  3. Keep the camera handy. A lot of people keep them hidden away and are afraid of damaging them so away it sits (gathering dust albeit). Here’s the thing, the camera only produces amazing quality photos if you exercise it!                                                       IMG_2947
  4. Get down to their level. Stop hovering over your kiddos and asking them to look up at you. Get down to where they are and be a goofball.                                                     IMG_3220-2
  5. Be ready. Keep the camera on. Saving battery is something you need to do on a long day trip or if you’re already low on batteries, but typically, just keep it on so you’re ready to go for a funny moment. Many cameras will have an auto shut off too, so don’t stress it.                                                                                                                                    IMG_0292
  6. Plan to wait. Your kids will do something silly and funny. It’s just a matter of time. Wait for them. Listen to them. Heck encourage them. Talk about farting or (gasp) even poo maybe! Hey, whatever works! I have boys – so this works for me!                       IMG_8201-2.jpg
  7. Use the viewfinder. Some of the best photos come from keeping my eye up to the shutter. Most cameras have the bigger screen to look at, but I’m old school because looking up to the shutter gives me a better view of the shot. It closes me out to the shot around it. I feel, I receive better results by looking directly into the viewfinder.   IMG_8627-2.jpg
  8. Overshoot. You can always delete photos you don’t like. Typically when I’m editing pictures, 90% of the time I wish I had more.                                                                                IMG_0298-2.jpg
  9. Make shooting a priority. Eventually your family will get on board. My kids actually enjoy it now. Certainly, there may be a day that they don’t, but right now cheese it up and I’ll take it! Talk to your family how important it is to you to have these memories captured.                                                                                                              IMG_5152
  10. Find the color. Bright outdoor spaces, colorful clothes and/or color can even come in the form of props or activities. (A red wagon, sidewalk chalk, finger paint, bubble sticks, books and even food. Watermelon anyone?                                                                                          IMG_4387



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The weekend [Mothers Day]

This was a mother’s day for the books, er blog. Excited to share our weekend through photos. It started with a picnic of hot dogs and pineapple. My kids can eat an entire pineapple. No, I didn’t let them, but it was amazing so I can understand why they wanted to.


IMG_9240As an NDSU Bison Alum, we love to ‘Go Bison’ with our fingers.

IMG_9290Cooper is still having a hard time with it, so instead he’s spreading world peace.

IMG_9279And sharing his beautiful smile with his mom all weekend.

IMG_9283I hope they’re best friends forever.

IMG_9286My liquid gold, (ahem) energy.

IMG_9395No, puppy you can’t eat my cookie!

IMG_9426Best fur friend cousins.

IMG_9380This is Murphy’s dog show pose. Just don’t ask him to do it again.

IMG_9370Because nature.

IMG_9449 Chubby slimy phalanges.

IMG_9455A green blob.

IMG_9461I only like blue…. ‘Bwooo’ as Coop says.

IMG_9468Give me all the chalk!

IMG_9486Our Mom art.

IMG_9326Sometimes, life knocks you down… Sometimes it’s a little tiny white doggie that drags you to the ground. You’re tool cool to stay down, Coop.

IMG_9532I met this beautiful gentle giant on Saturday afternoon. Sybil, Sadie is a teddy bear.

IMG_9512My first visit to the water this year. Oh how I missed you so.

IMG_9582On Mother’s Day, the kids just might consider a mini photo session on the sidewalk before church.

IMG_9613Let’s jump and be nuts.

IMG_9603Let’s be cute.

IMG_9619Let’s run again.

IMG_9611Starting to get sick of it. It’s been a full 2 minutes.

IMG_9629Tickle him, Cooper. (It didn’t work. 3 minutes later, it’s time to go.) Mom needs coffee.

IMG_9637But first, smile!



Time to play.

IMG_9704Family get together.

IMG_9669Let’s play house!

IMG_9670Coop says he’s calling, ‘Pa Pa’. He’ll probably never actually use a phone like that in his life, honestly.


Great-Grandma turned 85. Let’s celebrate.

IMG_9729Like most kids, frosting first.

IMG_9759They even had a chance to meet their cousins prize bunnies.

It was an awesome weekend of outdoor adventure with my boys.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to be their mom and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Someday’s I question if I’m doing it right. After all, you don’t really know until it’s all over, right?

Overall, my efforts are focused on attention. They don’t have the nicest clothes. They aren’t in expensive activities. They ride in a minivan. But what they do receive is a lot of love and a concerted effort to give them my time. They are worth my time and attention and so much more. They are lifted up when I’m proud of them and see what they have accomplished. They aren’t afraid to talk to me because I choose to listen. And they even say cheese when I bribe them with fruit snacks. No, I am not above that. That’s just smart parenting.

Happy Mothers Day, friends!



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