baby dane | newborn session

Details

One of my favorite jobs to do are birth stories. I love being there when the world stands still for just a minute when that little one enters the world. I love capturing those moments in photos that will last years after those sweet seconds. A few weeks back my sister delivered her second precious little boy and I was able to be there as he entered the world.

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Kellyn

 

My sister was a champ. I hope I can handle labor and delivery like her when my little makes his entrance. She was laughing and joking with us the whole time before and literally pushed 3 times and he was here. She is a pro.

Tools

Hello

Amazing how much love flows into the room the second that little one makes their entrance into the world. It hits you like a brick wall, and this one was no exception. He is so loved.

 

Handhold

 

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Weigh

One of my favorite parts of watching a birth is to watch the bath after they are born. The nurses are so gentle and love their job. I also loved playing ‘Thor’ with my nephew.. he is a grand little dude.

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BrigsBath

Welcome to the world baby Dane. You are so loved by so many people. I am so glad you joined our family and that I was able to be there for your special day.

 

Dane

 

Love your auntie.







baking | gingerbread man cookies

Title

So there is something about the smell of gingerbread and cinnamon that makes it feel like Christmas to me. So of course I had to share one of my recipes for gingerbread men with all of you! That way you can use it to build your houses and cookies this year! These cookies take about 1hr and 20 minutes to make from start to finish. These work awesome for building custom houses, like we do each year – mobile home, teepee, tent etc- cause you can custom cut your shapes and then bake! Also today I am sharing an awesome recipe for royal icing, this stuff sets up pretty fast and tastes pretty dang good.

 

Gingerbread Recipe

3 cups of flour

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1 TBS cinnamon

1 TBS ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup of butter – softened

3/4 cup molasses

2 TBS milk

 

 

Mixer

In a mixer add flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and soda. Mix on low until combined. Add in butter, you can chunk it into pieces if you want. Mix on low until it creates a sandy type texture. Add your milk and molasses. Mix until the dough is evenly mixed and moist throughout.

DoughSheets

 

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Scrape the dough down and divide in half. Place half on a sheet of parchment paper, and place another sheet on top. Roll dough until it is about 1/4 thick and transfer to a cookie sheet.

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Do the same with the other half. Put these in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes (or refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight). Preheat your oven to 350.

Cutout

Remove one of your stiff dough sheets and remove the parchment paper. Cut out your shapes and transfer to a cookie sheet. Bake them for 8 to 11 minutes – depending on how hard you would like them and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to fully cool before icing.

 

Royal Icing

5 TBS meringue powder

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup water

food coloring

 

Start off by adding your meringue, sugar and vanilla together. Slowly add water, the more water you add the thinner the icing. I add slowly until I get the consistency






I want. Beat on high until it is glossy and stiff. You want it to set up pretty well, this is what helps keep all the cute decorations or the glue for your house. Add food coloring if you want, and then transfer it to a icing bag or a squeeze container to help you decorate. Then let your creativity run wild!

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I love this recipe to use for gingerbread houses, because you can make the walls hard by baking about 10 minutes. Then you can get the coolest house award at your next party!

baking | pumpkin pie

Ingredients

 

So pie is one of the most wonderful things about this time of year. I don’t count it as just a Thanksgiving treat.. that is right we have it until past Christmas. Pound that pie. I figure the more time I can shove desserts into my belly the better, and also I am convinced that calories don’t count after Halloween. So today I am sharing with you my recipe for pumpkin pie.

 

Here is what you need :

 

3/4 cup of sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

2 eggs

1 can of pumpkin

1 can (12oz) evaporated milk

 

pie crust : you can find my recipe here.

whipped cream (optional)

 

Start off by mixing sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl (I put in in the mixer). Stir in the sugar mix and the can of pumpkin. When well mixed, add the evaporated milk. Mix in slowly until it is well mixed. It will be like thick milk.

MixerCrust

 

Pour this mixture into your pie shell. I blind baked mine before, but you don’t have to. To blind bake, roll out your crust and put it in your pie plate. Put down two sheets of aluminum over the crust and weigh it down to prevent shrinking. I used rice. Bake it for 15 minutes at 375. Remove and then fill with your filling.

Prebake

 

Put your pie into bake. The oven needs to be at 425 for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 350 and set a timer for 40 to 50 minutes. Stick knife in the center to assure that it is cooked, when the knife comes out clean it is done. Cool on a rack for 2 hours and then refrigerate serve immediately. Top with whipped cream if you like and dig in!
Finishedpie


12 days of Christmas | gift ideas

 

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There is always some fun to be had around the Christmas season. Giving gifts and sharing moments with family is really what the season is meant for. I love giving gifts to others, and especially when I can make them fun. This year my younger brother is living out of state, in New Jersey and won’t be home for Christmas. So we decided this year to make him a 12 days of Christmas package. I mean what is more fun than opening a present every day?!

So we made our own version of the 12 days of Christmas, with a little flair of course. Here is what you will need to make this fun package for your special someone.

 

Pear Jelly Bellies : We used these because they are one of my brother’s favorite. You could use any kind of Pear Flavored item, or pears themselves if you can get them there without being spoiled.

2 Dove Chocolate Bars : Since shipping live birds is out of the picture, dove chocolates work perfect for the second day of Christmas.

Box of French cookies: We found a set made by pepperidge farms that were half dipped in chocolate. You could find a different type or use ones like pirouettes in place of these.

Box of Nerds : This was our version of bird seed for calling birds, since he really has no use for real bird seed. You could use Trail Mix or some other type of seed looking candy as well.

5 Ring Pops : Nothing better for 5 golden rings, unless you can really get golden rings.

6 Easter eggs : We found a few of these among our Easter decorations, and then filled them with candy. But you could fill them with money or someother fun toy!

Peeps : We found the little snowman versions they have at Christmas time. They seemed more festive than the actual peeps that look like birds.

Blue Gatorade : This goes with the peeps, it is the ‘water’ for the swans that are supposed to be swimming.

Hot Chocolate : Since shipping a cow would be quite costly we figured Hot Cocoa would be much more appealing than a pile of cow poo. We sent a box of packets.

Dancing Santa : We found a wind up santa that dances for the nine ladies dancing. Seemed more fitting for Christmas, but you could send a hula girl or something cute like that.

Socks : This one was hard, lords a leaping. We opted for something foot related, so naturally we went with socks. Who doesn’t love some new socks?

Kids pipe toy : We found ours at Zurchers, but you could look at a party supply store. We just sent a little kids version of a flute. Fun play on pipers piping.

Suckers : Instead of drumsticks that really melt or make lots of noise, we opted for a bag of suckers.

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So for my brother, he is currently serving a mission in New Jersey. So we were limited to the presents we could send. So all of these are mission friendly, but you could alter the words on these to fit your needs.  After you gather all the presents, print the files for the present tags.

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Cut them apart and tape them to your present BEFORE you wrap them. Then wrap the gifts individually and use the number tags to have them open them in order. Lastly place them in a box, and wrap that, attach the outer tag, I placed the rhyme inside on top of the wrapped gifts then ship and you are ready to go!

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It is a perfect way to spread holiday cheer with those who can’t be near you this year! The gifts would have to start on either December 13 or 14th (if you start on the 13th they open the last one on Christmas Eve, the 14th on Christmas day) depending on when you want them to end.

Here are all the downloads you need to make your own 12 days of Christmas package! Happy Holidays!!

Numbers Numbers Presents Presents Tags

can I just punch them in the face | infertility



Family




If you know anyone who is going through infertility issues, you know that it is a emotional roller coaster. It is something that you can’t predict their reactions. I am sure it is hard to really know what they are feeling.

When you are going through it, you are just white knuckling the bars in hopes that you don’t get bucked off. I shared our infertility story a few weeks ago, you can see it here, and I thought that I would take a few to address what it feels like going through it and a few things we learned to help us cope with it all. Trust me, you need those coping mechanisms.

 

Let’s start at the beginning. When you first start your journey, you are amazingly optimistic. You figure that you can get pregnant as easy as the next girl and that starting your family will just take a genie blink. So you start. It is all fun and games. You seduce your man, you play around, and you wait. Months start to pass and auntie flow, or as I call it shark week, comes every month still. So then you start to get a little more devoted, you invest in the pee sticks to see when you are ovulating. You pee on those things on schedule and start your mapping. You now know exactly when those wee eggs start their journey to the jungle every month. So then you plan your seduction times to intersect with those sweet eggies. You do this for a few months and still nothing. This is when your hope and optimism starts to take the first dip. It isn’t the worst you will experience but it hurts.

 

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You start to think about contacting a doctor, and after working up the courage and convincing your husband you make your first appointment. You are all nerves but you go any way. I mean you want that kid. You start to talk with them. They tell you they need to start tests. Usually they start with the husband first, let’s be honest it is way easier for them. So you schedule the test and the follow up appointment. Hopefully this solves the issue, but not always. In my case it was part of the issue, but not all of it. So you start over again. The hope is back, you know hopefully know the issue and you are taking steps to fix it. You start your calendar again and your planned ‘mattress mambos’. You try this again for a few months, and alas no results are coming. Again the dip comes, this one is a bit harder. Are you meant to be a parent? Why can’t I have a kid?

 

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Usually at this point some of your ‘bipolar’ tendencies have started. Now I don’t mean you are really bipolar, but with the never ending roller coaster you have apparently boarded without your knowledge or even your consent, they happen. I mean come on no one really wants this deal. So the tendencies that start are..

. You can’t look at any social media without hearing that some other person is pregnant. I remember that literally every day I logged into facebook and instagram another friend of mine was pregnant. This went on for WEEKS.. Of course I wanted to be happy for them, I mean they wanted the kid too right? But on the other hand I wanted to punch them in the face. I wanted to unfollow them and hope that they got like circus tent gianormous and that they couldn’t lose their weight so at least I would still be skinny. Even though let’s be honest, you still being skinny doesn’t solve the real anger here.

Barbados

. You can’t be really happy for a friend or family member for being pregnant until you have had your ‘mental breakdown’. This one is really hard. I had my sister get pregnant twice and 3 of my sister in laws get pregnant all while dealing with these ‘issues’. Now don’t get me wrong, of course it was awesome being an aunt and knowing you have a niece or nephew to spoil. That is pretty exciting. But at the same time you feel as though your heart has been broken into microscopic shards of glass that they threw on the ground and then proceeded to run over, stomp on, spill crap on and dust off their shoes on their way to happy preg-o bliss. So when they tell you, hopefully they do it with respect and kindness, you most likely bust into tears and then put on your fake smile and tell them congratulations. Deep down you really are excited, but you can’t show it then. The next few weeks / months your Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde make their appearances. You are excited that you’re going to be an aunt! Shouting and dance parties ensue. Then on the other hand, all you can hope for is that your fist can accidentally make contact with their throat. This is usually followed by denial, enough tears to fill a olympic sized swimming pool, resentment – those B*#ch@s how could they?? – to feeling like the ultimate failure.

. You have to avoid any baby aisles at the store and any baby showers at all costs. Just the sight of those little onsies and burp cloths is enough to make you fall on the floor and throw a tantrum like a toddler. I mean at this point you probably wouldn’t care who saw your break down, but the break down is followed by the tear shedding- resenting- name calling anger and you just got over the last episode. Baby showers are just a cruel reminder of what you can’t have. It is a dagger to the heart, with a side of sharp twist in there as well. So you graciously tell them you have other things planned so you can just avoid the whole situation, I mean who has the time to hold their shiz together for a 3 hour shower?? Definitely not me.

Jet&Mom

So while these are beginning to rear their ugly head and can happen at a moments notice, you trek through. You start to discover that the issue might lay with you. Wonderful-licious. Just what you wanted to hear. You start tests. Now these tests are beyond humiliating, they are degrading on about a million levels. Your legs are spread eagle, you are lubed to the moon, they cause nightmare cramps and for some odd reason every test you have to have done is by a dude. I mean really?! For the love can’t their be a girl tech there that day?? By the third test you are so used to spreading them, that there is no more embarrassment. It is just habit to throw those legs open and see what the spelunker of the day can find in your cave of wonders. Test after test happens. Some bring answers, others appear to be fine. I mean really.. Sometimes good news is great, means that you are healthy. But at the same time you want them to find something, freaking anything, so you can make the effort to fix it. There has to be something you can do. But you push on. These tests drain your wallet, and push your marriage to the limits. Sex is no longer fun, but you do it any how. Maybe there is just that one time where something works. You are still constantly angry or upset with life and are convinced that people literally wash their underwear together and a baby appears. You might even feel like a pregnancy magnet. That everyone around you is pregnant, like you are the good luck charm. Can’t it just rub off on you??

 

Here is where you need to learn to cope. Everyone’s coping mechanisms are different, but make sure you find at least ONE. It is important to find a method that works with you and your partner, but also one for just you. You need to be able to address things calmly on your own. Here is what we did, feel free to use it!

. For my husband and myself we turned to humor and breaks. Every time someone would ask us when we were having a kid we responded with something to make them feel as equally uncomfortable. Our favorite go to was “Well we saw your kids and decided not to have any, thanks for saving us from that”. First off let’s make something perfectly clear.. it is NO ONES business when you are planning your family, how many kids you want or how you are going to go about having it. So this technique usually helped get them to stop asking us about it. Plus their reactions were CLASSIC, and hilarious. They gave us hours of laughs later.

Cody

Every test we endured we just came up with a stupid name for it, and just laughed about it all. For example my husband’s sperm tests we called his ‘Dates with Dixie’. I mean it wasn’t an actual dixie cup, but close enough. And most people didn’t know what we were talking about which made it even more fun – like a secret code, watch out Mission Impossible peeps.

We learned to make each other laugh when we were having a hard time. And yes the guys struggle too. We would find fun ways – reliving the most embarrassing moments we have had or a stupid experience that was just too good to forget. Then we would relive those moments, laughing through the whole thing.We would watch a funny TV show or a movie that we knew we both could enjoy. Or go people watching and come up with absurd stories for them including voices. Anything to trigger a laugh.

Another big key is to take breaks. We would have a month or two, up to 6-8 months at one point, where we didn’t do ANYTHING baby related. We didn’t talk about it, we didn’t have planned sex we just went with the flow. We had a date night and just enjoyed each other. We found each other again, the reason we love each other and connected as a couple. If you can take vacations, do that. Even little weekend trips were life savers. It gets you away from the pool of people who do know what is happing with you. Sometimes you need to be around no one who knows your story.

Me

. Now for you. A few things I highly recommend you do individually. First is find someone that you can talk to, that ISN’T your spouse. They feel just as bad about all this too, they have a front row seat and can’t do anything to change the outcome either. When you talk to someone else, they can usually calm you down or help you see something from a different perspective without being neck deep in it with you. For me it was my mom. I would come home and cry to her, and tell her all my frustrations. It helped me work through things before talking to my husband about it. Which I am 100% sure helped our relationship through those low lows.

Another is make sure you have a release. You need a way to get your stress out. For me it is the gym. I can go and beat myself up as hard as I can handle and it helps blow off steam without hurting anyone or saying something that I didn’t mean. I never wanted to say something hurtful in a moment, when I knew that wasn’t really what I meant it was just what I felt at that moment. Now I did spend almost every day of those 5 years at the gym, I mean I am not going to complain it lets me eat all those candy bars and cakes. So find a way to let off steam – yoga, gym, meditation what ever works.

Lastly I would keep a journal. It is a free way to express yourself without hurting any one. You just write what you feel no matter how bad and then it is out. It is also a way to record what is happening all the tests that are happening and what you are finding out. Then on the hard days you can go read about a day that it worse, or when it is good you can see how far you have come. Just a way to keep you in check.

Us

Fertility isn’t easy, it is one of the most difficult things a person can go through. No joke. Now this is just a taste of what you experience, I will share more later. But for those of you out there going through it – know that is 100% normal to want to knock out a friend or scream at the top of your lungs. Just as long as you pick yourself up after it is over. And for you supporters out there, help them work through those rough patches. I know it is hard, but your hugs and caring mean more than you could ever know.

Happy Birthday Dad!

dadfaceSo I owe my old man a birthday post. Yes it his birthday, his 56th as a matter of fact. So here is my ode to you dad.

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They say that dad’s are a girls first love. My love took only minutes for you. The moment you came with that bottle of chocolate milk, I was yours. The countless popcorn movie dates on the floor, having you read a book to me every night. Rubbing my legs as I got those horrid growing pains, and laying on the floor in my room at night so that dreadful creature didn’t get me while I slept. All these moments just made my heart grow more for you.

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We reached my tween years, let’s be honest I was a real turd. I had an attitude the size of Australia and could throw a fit at a moments notice. Heaven help us I don’t know how you survived, let alone how I did – how did you not kill me? I had my rough spell with you around here, probably because I didn’t like the way you held to the rules and you were always the enforcer- I blame mom.

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We reached my junior year of high school and life started to get better. We started to repair the tween damage I had created, and our relationship started to deepen. We spent every saturday together working in the yard, or dressing the house in christmas decorations. It was my ‘dad’ time and I treasured every minute of it. By my senior year we were pretty close, I loved talking with you – except for about boys- you were my person.

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You made me move away, I know it was to help me grow up and learn how to be an adult. It worked, but it was hard. I loved coming home to see you, or calling you on the phone. We talked a lot that year. I finally moved home, and back under your roof. We started going to scary movies that mom wouldn’t see with you, those were treasured times. We went on drives and I helped you do shopping and chores. I lapped up every moment I could. I got to watch my siblings go through the attitude phase, and realized just how hilarious you are. I must have missed that between the stomping and bawling. I blame the hormones.

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I found a boy, you scared the crap out of him, but he asked you if we could get married any ways. You agreed, you liked him (even though you wouldn’t admit it then). The wedding plans started, and the craziness ensued, but you were always there with your humor to keep the mood light. The day I said ‘I do’ was a treasured moment. I will always remember the way you gently hugged me and kissed my forehead, it was like I was 5 playing dress up. A moment stamped on my heart. I started my new life with this boy, we struggled to adjust, but you always gave me the push I needed.

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We still spent every saturday together doing some project in the yard (how many times did we rebuild that stupid rock wall??) to make it just right. Every time mom was sick I got to go grocery shopping with you or out for presents around those times of year. Those days were just as if nothing had changed. It was treasured, still is. I started to want a family and realized a while later that things were going to be harder than I anticipated. I was frustrated and upset, and I am sure I cried thousands of tears on your shoulder. You always held me tight and encouraged me to continue the fight. When I found out I was going to be a mom, I think you were more excited than I was.

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Now here we are. I treasure every minute I get with you, every drive, every conversation. My love for you is deeper than it ever has been. You are my daddy. My first true love, my rock, the person I can always depend on. So to you dad, on your birthday, I hope it is the very best. I love you more than anything I can express, and I hope with every fiber of my being that I can be as good as a parent to my kid as you are as my dad. And trust me, I am going to need all the help I can get, so be prepared for more tears and more talks – they are coming.

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Love you always and forever – me.

 

Mom&Dad6

baking | caramel brownies

intro

Alright so as we have established, I am a sucker for chocolate. I am also a sucker for caramel. My pants aren’t fans of these weaknesses, but alas I can’t stop. So when I found this recipe from a friend I knew I had to try. I mean brownies (chocolate) plus caramel?? How on earth could this go wrong. It can’t.. that is the right answer.. EVER. So I would highly recommend these if you are a fan of chocolate or brownies.. just wear your fat pants, cause it is gonna happen.

prebrownie

Here is what you need:

1 box of german chocolate cake mix

1 package of caramels

1 can of evaporated milk

butter

semi- sweet chocolate chips

 

Start out with your cake mix, dump that in your mixer. Add 7 tbs of butter (softened) and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk. Mix this up until you get a dough.

caramels

 

Take half of the dough and spread it in the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Make sure you go all the way to the edges, the caramel is a BEAST to get out if it leaks to the bottom. Place this in oven and bake it for 7 minutes.

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While this is baking, unwrap 30 caramels and put them in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/4 cup of evaporated milk to the caramels. Microwave these until they are soft and mix into the milk making a caramel sauce. (It takes me about 2 minutes to microwave in 30 second increments) After pulling the pan out of the oven, sprinkle with chocolate chips. You can be as liberal as you would like with these, the more you add the more gooey chocolate you have. Pour the caramel sauce over the top of this. I spread it around to make sure to get almost to the edges so every brownie bite has caramel.

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Take the other half of the dough and crumble/ lay the dough on top of the caramel sauce. I kind of squish it to about 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and lay them on top of the brownies. Remember they will expand so you don’t have to cover every inch. But make sure you have good coverage near the edges. Place this back in the oven and bake for another 15-17 minutes.

 

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Allow to cool, until warm and serve up with a dollop of ice cream. Cause let’s be honest what is better than warm brownies and ice cream.

Finishedbrownie

And tell your fat pants your welcome. I just did them a HUGE favor :)

personal | our anniversary




Cody&Teagan2Sorry ya’ll this post is going to be a little guishy. But I figure it is in order, we have reached our 9 year anniversary. So I thought I would give you the story of how we met today. And a break down of our marriage.

 

Our story started years ago. In fact in the year of 1996. Yes, I do realize that is back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and cell phones were all but a dream. But that is where our story begins.

I had moved back to Utah two years prior and attended my last two years of elementary at a foreign school with a whole new crowd. Needless to say I hadn’t really gained a great set of friends as of yet. I was a floater. The thought of middle school was a great gift. This meant that everyone had to start over, all new friends, new teachers and I would no longer feel like the lone duck wandering the ponds. Finally the playing field would be even.

Summer passed and the first day of school arrived. I was beyond antsy to attend, of course this would be the best year yet. I showed up to school ready to go with my trapper keeper and 90′s bangs. After a few weeks of adjusting, tryouts for sports were upon us. I decided to try out for cheer. I could dance, surely I could tackle cheerleading. So I prepped and tried out. And I made it! Rolled socks and cheer shoes never looked so good.

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I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on Cody. It was my first football game to cheer at. I was so excited to show off my cheers and make my parents proud. I showed up early did warm up and waited for the game to start. Cody was on the middle weights team, the team I was cheering for that night. I spotted him from a far before the game started. He had the cool surfer dude look, blonde long hair, gorgeous tan and his piercing blue eyes. So cute. But alas it took us months of games to finally talk to each other. In a perfect middle school style. We soon decided to be friends. Before we knew it the end of middle school was upon us, and the new adventure was about to begin.

High school started with a bang, the new fresh start was upon us again. I welcomed it. After middle school and cruel class mates, I was looking for a fresh start. I didn’t see Cody as often any more. With classes all over and the halls being spread out, it was a few and far between thing. Freshman and Sophomore years passed. I had a major life change, involving detention and a forced new group of friends (thanks parents). Let’s just say my rebel years came in the middle of high school. After all these changes junior year was another new start for me.

I had a new group of friends and a new out look on life. I was going to be friends with every person that wanted to be in school. Part of that new outlook was sparking up old friendships. Cody was one such soul. We started hanging out and going to lunch together during school. Before we knew it, the Sadies dance was here. It was girls choice this time so I decided to ask Cody. I knew it would be a fun time. That dance was one of the best times of my whole high school life.

 

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We continued to be friends and the school year came to a close. After a month of hanging out we decided to try dating. Strange, but why not we had known each other for ages. We started dating the last part of summer and into the beginning of Senior year. After months of dating, I expected a kiss. Dates and hangouts passed and still nothing. I was starting to get aggravated by the whole thing. My mom even made him a ‘kissing kit’ complete with chapstick and breath mints. I mean come on I can’t be that bad looking, I had grown out of the 90s bangs and was onto the sleek straight hair and straight jeans. I even had a cell phone, that I shared with my mom, but still.  But alas nothing. After a few months I couldn’t take it any more and called it off. I didn’t want to hang around in a relationship that was going no where.

 

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Ironically after we broke up, we still stayed friends. We would still go to lunch together, he would come nap at my house while I ate. We did homework together and studied together. But no dating. This lasted through the end of our Senior year. I was slated to move away from home for a year at a out of state university. Cody was staying here and going to a local school. I moved and yet we still chatted every week, we knew what was going on in each others life. We knew about the others boyfriend/girlfriend and talked about them often. Whenever I came home for a visit we would go to lunch and catch up. It honestly was the best friendship with no pressure attached.

 

I moved home after a year of school and started working. We still saw each other, but it was less than before. Cody’s girlfriend didn’t like me much and was bothered by the fact that we talked all the time. So we just continued with occasional encounters. I had a chance to go to Europe with some friends. So I jumped on it, I mean traveling to a bunch of countries and seeing amazing things, why the crap not?! So I was off. After a week and a half of traveling around and seeing amazing things, I had a moment of clarity I missed Cody. So I decided to call him from france. I called and didn’t get an answer, but I left him a message.

A week later I arrived back in the states. A few days after I got back, Cody came over. He had heard my message and wanted to come say hi. We chatted for a few and he helped me get a job. However he was still dating his girlfriend. So we just stayed friends. A few months passed, we saw each other at work almost every day. It was great. I liked having my friend back. In July on the night of the 3rd I was sitting on the parade route waiting to stake a claim on our spot. Cody and his friends were out on scooters. I signaled him down and we went for a ride. As we were out on the ride I learned that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend. The next few weeks we decided to try dating again. And it was amazing, better than before. A few weeks later he kissed me for the first time. It was short sweet and great. All I could say was ‘about time sherlock’, in retrospect that probably wasn’t the kindest thing to say, but it worked.

 

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A couple weeks later after I had finished photographing a wedding, we went to dinner with some friends. We were in salt lake and decided to take a ride in the horse drawn carriages. Half way through the ride he started to tell me how amazing I was and how he was so glad we had become friends all those years ago. I agreed. He continued to tell me that I was everything he wanted out of life and that I make him so happy, that he couldn’t let me run away again. That I needed to be with him. And he proposed. It was the best night of my life, one that I will never forget. He was so nervous and so sweet to me. And I am so glad to this day that I chose to spend my life with my best friend. And here we are, 9 years later, two dogs, two houses, a billion hours of schooling, and a baby on the way. I’d say its been an amazing trip.

 

So babe, Happy Birthday (yes we got married on his birthday) and Happy Anniversary! It has been the best 9 years of my life, can’t wait for the rest to come. Love – Me

infertility | our story

Infertility is no joke, it is rough and difficult and the most emotional thing you can ever experience. Our story thankfully has a happy ending, but for those of you out there that are still going through it my heart goes out to you. If you know anyone that is going through this journey, be extra sensitive and give them all the love you have to spare they need it. Love is a wonderful bandaid in helping patch the holes you gain along this road.

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Our story started about 5 years ago. We had always talked about having a family and kids. I had a ‘life plan’ all figured out. I was going to finish school at the age of 25 and work for a few years, then get pregnant at 27 and have our first kid around 28. Then wait two years and have another. Ending our child years around 31, so we could still travel and see the world when they were grown and moved out. Funny how life never lets your life plan go according to your ideals. I was 25, I had just applied for graduation, we had been married for 5 years. I was starting my job search and had a few good options. I approached my husband with the idea of starting to try and have a baby. I told him that it would most likely take a few months to get all the birth control out of my system and then at least a few more months to get pregnant and then the kid had to bake for 10 months. So we had most likely 18 months or more ahead of us. After laying it out, begging and listing all the pros (which took months) he agreed to start to try. It was now November 2010. I stopped taking the pill. I had gone to my GYN and she had warned me that since I had been on the pill for 5 years, it would take a bit to get out of my system but she could see no reason why I couldn’t have a baby.

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Months passed. It was now October 2011. My sister had just announced that she was pregnant with her first baby, and was due in June. I wanted to die. There is nothing worse than hearing that someone close to you, who knows what you are going through, is pregnant. Now, of course I was excited. A nephew was going to join the family and I got to be an aunt. And no I don’t expect people around me to stop their lives and not have kids, it is just a easier playing field when people are not having kids with you. I took the announcement to heart and had an emotional break. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mom, and we weren’t supposed to have kids. Am I not trying hard enough? Is there something wrong with us? The list continued and the emotions ran high for a good deal of time. I contacted my doctor again and she said that she couldn’t look at me for infertility until we had been trying for at least 16 months. That fertility doctors in the area wouldn’t either. We had to wait. Naturally I spent oodles of time on webmd and google (dangerous places for an emotional person) and started to panic about all these things that could be wrong.

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Around this time we started to notice that my husband was starting to struggle a bit with his health. Not hugely, but little changes. He was tired ALL the time. He had started to gain weight in his stomach, despite exercising and eating as best he could. He also seemed to lose all interest in intimacy. Concerned that it was something like his thyroid, I urged him to make an appointment. My sweet love is very anti-doctor, anti-medicine, basically anti anything related to the field. Finally after months of coaxing, and telling him it wasn’t about having a baby I convinced him to visit his doctor. We went to his appointment and told him about his symptoms. After a series of questions and a blood draw later we learned that he had low testosterone. His doctor prescribed him testosterone injections, which were to be given once a week. Grand, the dude that hates medicine is supposed to give himself a shot once a week? Oui. So we started injections.

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We had now reached April of 2012. I could go see my GYN about fertility finally. I made an appointment. She suggested that we do tests that checked for fertility signs, but could be looking for endometriosis. My doctor had suspicions that I had it because I have horribly painful periods that are incredibly heavy – like blow through a extra super tampon in less than an hour heavy. So we started testing. I went through a series of ultrasounds and dye testing to see if I had blockage or extra tissue. It was discovered that I had a large ovarian cyst on my right side, but no other signs of endometriosis or complications. She told me to wait 2 months for the cyst to dissolve, and then to try again. And perhaps have my husband tested, because guys are always easier to test than girls. So we waited the 2 months for it to pass and then tried some more. At this point I had my ovulation cycles down to an art, and could tell you exactly when things were going to happen. We had continued doing shots for my husband and he had started to feel better. I noticed an improvement in his weight and he wasn’t very tired any more. Success!

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In june we welcomed my sweet nephew and it only made me want to try that much harder. We continued to try and still no success. After much debate we decided to take a break for a few months and see if we could just refocus on each other and life. To not allow infertility to be the elephant in the room all the time. So we did.

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We have now reached May of 2013. We took trying slow for the rest of the year, spent time with each other and tried to just be us. We decided to try again. And still no luck. I was talking to a dear friend of mine who suggested we see an internist. That maybe there was a issue with his hormones, other than testosterone that could be causing the issue. So I searched around and found one in our area. We made an appointment, two months out. We had run out of the prescription for shots, and after talking about it decided that we would take a break from them. We waited our two months and it was finally time for our appointment. We went in and were evaluated and after a large blood test, determined that his hormones were out of whack and that the shots weren’t helping. He put him on a diet and added supplements and added clomid in place of the testosterone shots, we were to time the clomid with my cycles. We were told to try for two months and that he promised we would be pregnant. So we started. He was diligent about his diet and the pills, things were going pretty well.. except still no baby. Two months passed. Still nothing. I hadn’t been convinced that changing his diet would ‘cure’ our infertility issue like the doctor had claimed, so I took to researching it myself. I soon found a doctor in Salt Lake City at the Univeristy of Utah who specializes in male hormones. Perfect! I convinced my husband to go, because at this point I didn’t care if we had a baby or not I just wanted him healthy. The kid could come later. So we made an appointment. Again, 2 months out.

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It was now November 2013. We travelled to the doctor and told him about our story and how we just wanted him to be healthy. Having a kid was an added bonus but we just needed to get his health figured out. He asked about the previous treatments and then told us this. Testosterone replacement therapy KILLS your sperm. That is right, kills them. Dead, done for, toast. It tells your body that it doesn’t need to produce its own hormones since you are giving it yourself, and since it is synthetically made it doesn’t trigger sperm production. Holy cow. At this point we hadn’t been on them for about 6 months, so the body was clearing if not cleared of it. He also informed us that the internist while having good intentions, was wrong about the diet. It wouldn’t change the outcome of sperm production. He proceeded to order a few tests and give us a prescription for clomid that instead of cycling with my cycles he was to take every day for the next 2 weeks and then retest. So we left, took the test did the clomid treatment, and retested. Our follow up appointment was a few weeks after that. At the follow up appointment we learned that his sperm count had gone from 1 million to 15.4 million. (The normal male produces around 12 million). Wow!! So he told us to get busy and try. And if by March I wasn’t pregnant to call his female counter part and see her. So we were off.

 

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February of 2014. I find out that I am indeed pregnant, the day before I lose it. A faint double line on a pee test. Then poof, it is gone. I am heart broken, but also feeling hopeful. If I could do it, then maybe I really can be pregnant. Then the crazy body starts. I have a period for 3 months. You heard me, THREE months of bleeding every day. I decide to call the specialist and ask about what to do. She tells me to come see her. So I make an appointment for the end of April. We again learn that my sister is expecting baby number two due in November and my sister-in-law is expecting and due in December. The heartbreak starts all over, many tears are shed. But I have my appointment to look forward to. We go in and meet with the specialist, she does an ultrasound and discovers I have another large cyst on my right side. That this is the reason why I am still bleeding. She prescribes me a medication to stop the bleeding and start a normal cycle again. I also have to come back to have a sonohystagram of my uterus done to make sure I don’t have fibroids.

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Luckily the medication takes and I am back to normal. After my next period I go in for my test, it is May 2014. Everything is great looking and the cyst is shrinking. Phew. So on to the next step. Since we had been trying so long she recommends we do IUI. Intrauterine insemination. I am to wait for my next period, start taking clomid to boost egg release and then come in as soon as I get a positive ovulation test. So we start. She had warned us that it took 3-4 IUI treatments to get a result, so be prepared to do this multiple times. My period comes, I take the pills and pee on a stick twice a day. Finally on a friday I get my smily face, I am ovulating. We call up and make an appointment for the next morning.

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It is June 14th 2014. We travel to the Salt Lake office. My husband goes and does his ‘thing’ and the donation is left. We are told we have to wait 2 hours while they prep the sperm for injection. We go and have a nice breakfast together, talk about how excited we are but not so excited that our hopes will be crushed if it is a negative. We slowly make our way back to the office. We are called back and prepped. The nurse is the sweetest thing and is so gentle with me. We ask her a billion questions and she answers all of them. The procedure starts, it takes about 10 minutes and then I am left there to lay for 20 minutes. We laugh and chat about how today could change our world, and eventually the 20 minutes pass. I get dressed and stop by to thank the nurse. We are given instructions of no medications other than tylenol, for pain. Rest as much as I can the next few days and to wait 2 weeks and take a pregnancy test. If it is positive then call and make an appointment for a viability ultrasound.

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Two weeks is so hard to wait, you just want to pee on that stupid stick. So knowing myself, I didn’t buy any until the day before I took the test. This way there was no temptation in the house. The  morning of the test, my husband leaves to go to an airshow in Salt Lake. I am alone. I take the test. Is there a positive? I think so, but I can’t tell. I hurry to my mom, and ask her to confirm for me. I swear I’m hallucinating. She looks at the test and just smiles and says “Congrats, Mom.” I break down and cry. I decide to wait to tell my husband until he is home. I want to see his reaction. I go out and buy a tiny baby onesie and make him a card. The hours painfully pass. He is finally home and comes right to me to ask. I take him into the other room and hand him the card, and wait. He reaches the point where I tell him he is going to be a dad. He looks shocked and happy all in one. He gives me the sweetest hug and kiss I have had to date and tells me he is so excited. We have the viability ultrasound and pass. We are now 5 months pregnant with a sweet baby boy.

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Our story is a unique one, we did get lucky and have IUI work on the first try. They never did find any issues in either of us as to why we couldn’t have a baby. We were told that sometimes two perfectly healthy people just can’t do it for some reason, and we are in that category. While yes our story is one with a happy ending, and I am very happy that it is, know that not every one has a similar story. Some are still fighting for their sweet bundle. For all of you out there struggling with fertility, know you aren’t alone. Although you feel VERY alone and like you are the only person out there going through it, you aren’t. There are people out there who are more than willing to talk with you and give you a shoulder to cry on, myself included. Don’t give up hope, your bundle is out there waiting for you.

tips | 5 ways to find your ‘golden’ hour

Have you ever heard of the golden hour? I am not talking about twilight with it’s beautiful light, I am talking about your golden hour. The hour(s) that you work the best, where you are the most productive and you know you can get shiz done. That hour. We all have one, and sometimes it is the worst trying to find what works best for you.

I can remember my junior year of college sitting in a class lecture and having the teacher talk about her golden hour. She found that she works the best from 10pm-1am every day, so that was the time she chose to work on things. I remember sitting there and wondering.. uh? what the? I have never had a ‘golden’ time in my life. It is like a struggle to push through those assignments almost every time until I am like 20 minutes into it or I have a plan. What in the h-bomb is she talking about? It wasn’t until later, my senior year and the year after I graduated, that I found my ‘golden’ time.

After analyzing times and really just working through different stretches of time, I found my golden time. I work best in the afternoons, between 2-5pm. I can also do evenings around 9p-12a. So my friends, here are my 5 tips on how to find yours.

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1. Are you a morning person or a night owl? I know you think this is a stupid question, but bear with me. I myself am anti-mornings. Like I am pretty much allergic to them. I wake up grumpy as an unfed black bear, unable to carry on a decent conversation without snapping. This is usually always accompanied by a grumpy attitude towards being up, doing anything and a hair do that rivals Edward Scissorhands custom look. Needless to say the first 2 hours of my day is me waking up, calming the unruly do and attempting to have a conversation without ripping peoples heads off like they are mini stress balls. I myself am a much better night owl. I can stay up for hours working on things, reading or watching shows. So with this in mind, I knew that my happy hour wouldn’t be anywhere near that dreadful time called morning. It would be closer to the afternoon or evening.

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2. Does it take you a while to get into a project? For me I knew this was true, especially when I tackle something that I don’t have a pre-planned game plan for it. My art projects always turn out a million times better when I have an idea in mind and how I want it to be conveyed at the end. The ones I try to throw together look like a 4 year old in preschool attacked it with their Elmer’s glue and dry pasta, rather than a piece that can convey the emotion that I am searching for. (no offense to all you preschoolers, your art is great!) Since I knew that I would need time, I had to make sure to find blocks of time where there were no interruptions and distractions. I would need more than 20 minutes to accomplish something, I would need at least a few hours. Sometimes knowing when you can find that time to be ‘alone’ with yourself, opens up when your best time is. If you are opposite of me and can do amazing things in 15 minutes, I freaking applaud you. I often wish I had that skill, but alas I am lacking.

 

3. If you are in school is there a class that you really love and do amazing in? This was a tell tale sign for me. Not only because I liked the subject matter, but when I got to that class I could really buckle down to work and my peers couldn’t distract me. I found that the class I did the best work in was always right after lunch and around the hour of 2. I could really get into that class, whether it was a lab day or a critique (which I detest) I could really concentrate and have it be a valuable time. Knowing this, I knew that the classes I had then would come easier to me and I could focus my extra efforts elsewhere. I also knew that when I didn’t have school, that time was when I needed to work on getting crap finished.

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4. When are you most productive? It is hard to spot at first, but when you really analyze your work and when you get stuff done there will be a trend. There is always a time of day that works in your favor. I knew when working for a previous employer that if I took my lunch later than everyone else and came back around 1:45 that I did the most amazing work after that. I could tackle huge projects and get ahead on stuff that needed to be finished. After watching myself for a while I noticed that the days I took a later lunch were much more productive and I felt more accomplished. Thus the trend was born.

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5. When are you most alert? I don’t know about you, but I feel like some times of day I straight up have the worst case of ADD known to man. That no matter what I sit down to do, I can’t seem to focus on it. I HAVE to clean that mess up, or that floor I vacuumed yesterday HAS to be done again cause I see a lint fuzzy. Or suddenly I have the urge to pay bills. Uh.. So when looking at times of day and when I was most alert, they were the times I got things done. I had my few hours to wake up and adjust to people, I had eaten at least twice and wouldn’t have a alien egg nesting in my empty stomach growling to be released. I need substance (read sugar) and time. I also work good at night when I catch my never failing second wind. Somehow I can be drop dead exhausted by 8:30pm and then suddenly at 9 I am more alert than a lion stalking her prey.

 

The only sure fire way of finding your golden hour(s) is to try them out. After answering the questions above you probably have a good idea of when that time frame is. Then just work through those hours and watch yourself. You will find it if you are looking for it. For all you morning gems, I applaud you. Maybe after I have this kid my hours will change and I will suddenly be a morning person. Or maybe I will just drug my child so he has to sleep later so mama grizzly gets her dang sleep. I am leaning towards the later, no judgement.