Tag Archives: travel

vegas bound!

20 Feb

This is where I’m going for a couple of days this week!!

Woo hoo! Jason and I are heading to Las Vegas for WPPI which is a huge convention that happens annually for photographers. We are STOKED to be able to make it this year! So we packed up and headed out! And YES. The boys are going with us! We love traveling with them and bringing them with us whenever we can. And we are blessed this trip to have my mom on board to help watch them when we are at the convention. I’m so thrilled that she was willing to come. We rented an awesome house in Las Vegas from Home Away.com so we all have room to spread out. It’s SUCH a great alternative to renting a hotel. We’ve stayed in multiple homes from this site and we haven’t been disappointed yet.

The boys actually travel pretty well. So long as the snacks don’t run out and the DVD player doesn’t die. And I’m so grateful they do because I LOVE to travel. Traveling with kiddos might be hard sometimes, but it’s always worth the experience. We never wanted having the boys to slow us down too much. I think kids join your life and go where you go and do what you do. So while it DOES take a lot of planning to head out of town with kids, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

We’ll take lots of photos! Can’t wait to share them!

* Image found on Pinterest.

they’re on vacation

17 Aug

While we were at Disneyland, I hardly had time to really focus on all the people watching I love to do. I love to just stare at people sometimes. Seriously.

Don’t even pretend like you don’t do it too.

Anyways. I didn’t have time for that. Did you know that there is only like, TWO PLACES IN ALL OF DISNEYLAND THAT SELL CHICKEN NUGGETS??? Ok, there might be more than that but I had a hard time finding them. I’m not sure why. And when you can’t get your kid to eat anything BUT chicken nuggets, you will search high and low for places that sell them.

(Don’t roll your eyes. I’ve tried the approach of feeding him what we are eating and my kid can go almost an entire week without eating what I present before him. SO. I search for the nuggets while we are on vacation. When we are home, I’ll take a stricter approach.)

So, I’m searching for nuggets. At one particular point on Day 2 that we are in the park, I am scurrying through the one and only chicken nugget line to make sure my little man has a full belly. I’m picking it up and bringing it back to where the rest of my family is eating. We picked a place to meet and we were all grabbing our own thing. But no one else wanted chicken nuggets.

I don’t blame them.

So I’m leaving the line and I’m grabbing packets of ketchup when I overhear two Disney workers chatting as they were emptying trashcans. Ok, I like eavesdropping too apparently. You know you’d do it too. Don’t pretend like we ALL don’t do it. Actually, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop this time BUT I did manage to hear one worker saying to another that they were frustrated about all the people that were in Disneyland. He said and I quote,

“Man, they don’t care about trash. They’re on vacation! They don’t care that other people here are working. And aren’t on vacation. And are tired and working hard to clean up after them.”

It sort of stopped me in my tracks. And made me think. And I felt really sad about his comment. I’m not even sure why I’m blogging this. Other than to say, I had been respectively enjoying my own vacation. I wasn’t NOT thinking about others. But I wasn’t exactly thinking about all the people it took to make my vacation a success. It’s so easy to NOT think about others sometimes, huh? Easy to be wrapped up in your own agenda. Your own situation. My own chicken nuggets for my own children.

I wondered what had maybe happened. Had this worker had an interaction with a visitor that was rude? Probably. Had he already been working a long day and was ready to go home? Most likely. But it still made me think. Because it’s odd- I actually HADN’T thought about my vacation through this lens. So it made me really aware from this point on how I was treating and viewing all the workers there that I came into contact with. How unfortunate to be having fun but forgetting that there are a lot of people around me who are NOT on vacation. And just want to go home to rest.

Vacation is fun. But I’ll always approach it in a slightly different way from now on. It wasn’t a huge deal. I know this post might not impact you greatly. But it was sort of a defining moment for me. Why? I’m not sure yet. But it really hit home. So I share it here.

Because that is what I do.

bisbee trip 2011

14 Jun

This past weekend we were able to travel South to Bisbee, AZ for a rad photo shoot that we can’t wait to reveal. We went with some clients/friends of ours who were busting at the seams to do a 50’s inspired photo shoot at The Shady Dell. Have you ever been there?? Oh my gosh. It’s the coolest place ever. We stayed in a trailer that looked like this:

Rad. Seriously rad. They have a wide assortment of trailers, all of which are authentically decked out to the max to fit the 50’s perfectly. It’s seriously like a time warp as soon as you get there. I had NO IDEA this place was there until our friends asked us if we’d be open to traveling for the shoot.


So we ventured down there for a night and snapped our little cameras away! It was a blast. It was my first night EVER away from Rider AND the first time Jay and I have gone on a mini vacation/getaway with NO KIDS since we HAD kids.

Sad moment, huh? We’ve totally made a mental note to do that every once in awhile because it was great for us to have a break together. And while we were working the whole time we were there, it didn’t really feel like work. So that was nice. Up until now I’ve been spending 8-10+ hours a day behind my computer and can’t complain because I love what I do. But it was nice to leave the computers behind for at least 24 hours.

It was weird to have been away from Rider since he’s only 9 months old. I think Cruz was over one the first time I ever left him over night. But it wasn’t as hard as I thought since we had a blast! It’s always refreshing to get a break as a mom and to allow yourself to sleep in until 8:30 am once in awhile, uninterrupted. Yes, 8:30 is BIG TIME sleeping in for me. But it rocked.

Bisbee is SUCH a cool place! Have you ever been there?? I had NO IDEA the gem it was until we got there. The downtown area is kind of to die for and we ran into ALL SORTS of interesting things. To say the least.

Cool place that I never really paid much attention to. It was great to get away for work and I CAN’T WAIT to go back. You should take a road trip and stay at The Shady Dell and eat at Cafe Roka. OMG Amazing.

We’ll be revealing the two photo shoots we did with The Blackwell’s soon! I’m so excited to share them. We all had such a great time!

home again

16 May

I’m home again and very thankful to be here! Although, I had a BLAST in Cali and the Boudoir shoot I did went amazingly well!! Girls weekend away is definitely a MUST and I really should try to do it more often. This time I was away from Cruz for two nights, which is the longest I’ve ever made it away from him. It wasn’t hard, but I did miss him terribly.

Seeing him and Jay are the reason’s I’m thankful to be home.

So today I head out to photograph a wedding with Jay as Session Nine Photography! I’m stoked about it, it’s going to be a beautiful wedding! Let’s hope Rider allows me to work and doesn’t sit so high up that he causes my back to KILL. Like he’s been doing lately. Doesn’t he know by now that mamma’s gotta work?? Ha!

So I’m glad to be home, grateful for the trip I just had and ready to embark on the next two weeks which are going to be CRAZY. The packing has begun and wow. We have a lot of stuff.

But I’m grateful always to come home to this face. I love this picture- taken last October.

I’m not sure that it gets any cuter. I mean, really.

number 9- check!

24 Feb

Jason and I made a list several months back- you might remember it. It’s our 101 Things in 1001 Days list. I need to update the list again, because there are several things I can check off. But our most recent one is #9- Visit the Strehles! I’m so thrilled to say we can check this one off, because I didn’t think we’d be checking it off any time soon. I hoped we would but didn’t see it happening for a little bit.

Jason and I met Zach and Amber Strehle through the church we used to go to. I was on staff with the 5th and 6th grade program there and Amber and Zach were volunteers. They have 4 kids (FOUR!), two of which (TWINS!) were in the 5th and 6th grade program. Amber and I became fast friends and we had a blast spending time together. Then we discovered that we lived in the same neighborhood! We got to know them even better while we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to get our spending habits and budgeting under control. I’d tell you what Amber used to call it but it’s not appropriate. HA! (Just kidding Amber… sort of.) They are the sort of people that you can be real with. And I’ve pretty much said it all to her and she still loves me! Ha!

Then they decided to move back to Washington, which is where they were from to begin with. Talk about a bummer! But ever since they’ve moved, Amber and I have actually kept in pretty good touch. We both started our photography businesses about the same time and we have a lot to celebrate together as friends and as artists. I so wish she lived closer.

Well, we DID have the chance to live closer since they live in Washington. So while we were visiting Seattle, we set aside a night to catch up with these two. It was nuts- they were getting ready to get on a plane to head to Arizona the very next day! I think they timed it. But whatever.

So we still haven’t been to their home or to check out the town that they live in yet, but that will have to be for another trip. A trip that we can take to Seattle and really get the chance to explore and do all the touristy things! But we can scratch it off the list since we did in fact visit them in their state. And Amber, we are both photographers- how did neither of us get a picture of us to document?? We were all just too excited to catch up and chat about life. And we were there interviewing and they were trying to leave town. So it was a little nuts.

But it’s always great to see good friends. And so we can successfully check off good ol’ #9!

endless energy & exhaustion

8 Feb

These are my thoughts exactly.

What an incredibly long day. What a long weekend.

Cruz traveled home a little better. It was still rough, but the airplane ride was way more tolerating than it was the way there. We had two flights today- the first was from Seattle to Sacramento. The second was from Sacramento to Phoenix. I think it helped Cruz that it was a little more broken up and that he was able to stretch his legs between flights. But the last stretch was kinda rough.

We are exhausted. It was a great weekend (exhausting and long, but still great!) and we are feeling pretty positive that we’ve made some decisions. No, I’m not ready to share them yet. We need to tell a few people what we’re thinking first before we go announcing a decision. Sorry! It will be soon, I promise. It feels good that we are at the beginning of moving into our decisions. I’m ready to make something happen rather than to just wonder about it and hope and think. We finally did get some clarity this weekend and so that feels good too. But it’s been exhausting.

Speaking of exhaustion, this whole ‘extreme fatigue’ thing that happens in your first trimester is really hitting me hard. I think that was a huge factor as to why this weekend was super difficult for me- that on top of the normal stresses of a trip like that. It’s so hard that I can’t just lay down and sleep until I feel better. When I was pregnant with Cruz, I slept my first trimester away I’m pretty sure. But now that I have to take care of Cruz, I can’t just stop and sleep all day. I know everyone gets through it because everyone has more than one kid usually and everyone is working it out. But it’s just hard to feel completely exhausted but to have to run around with an almost 15 month old- who has more energy than any little kid I’ve ever known. I mean, seriously. Geez.

Before we left the bed and breakfast this morning to catch our flight, I looked out the window and saw this:

That is Cruz’s toy camera that he decided to throw out the window at some point during our stay. In case you weren’t aware, it rains a lot in Seattle. So after I spotted it, I had to bundle myself up and Cruz and head around the house to go retrieve the toy camera. Which was soaking wet and struggling to work. When I got there, I found three other toys that he had thrown outside the window when I wasn’t looking.

Endless energy. I’m laughing about it now, but there are times when his endless energy kinda drives me nuts! Ha!


6 Feb

We had the whole morning to ourselves yesterday. It gave me and Jay some time to sort of debrief everything we’ve taken in so far, which was nice. We’ve had little pockets of alone time where we’ve just looked at each other and said out loud, “Can we see ourselves here?”.

Like I said in the last post, we are staying in the most awesome little bed and breakfast. It’s so wonderful. The food here is magnificent! I can hardly wait for it to be breakfast every morning just so I can have the delicious homemade quiche, banana pancakes and yogurt parfaits. It’s a different breakfast every morning, but those are some of my favorites that have been served here so far.

Yesterday, Cruz started stirring at about 5:30 am. Which is way too early for me. But we all finally got up at about 7:00 am. Cruz’s schedule has been completely out of whack since we arrived, so he’s been a little more moody than you may know of him. Honestly. So that’s been weird to navigate. But we got up yesterday and I made him breakfast. We don’t have a highchair or booster seat, so I thought I’d just sit him at the table like an adult. It was pretty darn cute, and I even managed to snap a picture. Then I turned around for .001 seconds to set my camera down and within the time that I looked away and looked back, he had managed to fall off the chair! He fell pretty hard too and of course cried and cried and cried. He was ok, I think it scared him more. Needless to say, we’ll be eating breakfast at the coffee table from now on. But the picture is priceless.

After breakfast we headed to the park that is across the street, called Woodland Park. The parks are amazing here. And very green, which is something you don’t really see in Phoenix. This park is right next to the zoo and we’re told that if the wind’s blowing the right way, you can hear the monkey’s at night! We haven’t heard them yet, but I hope we do while we’re here! We might even continue with a tradition that we started with Cruz and go visit the zoo while we’re here. We’ll see! But here’s a few pictures that I snapped in our morning exploration at the park. Cruz loved it. He kept finding sticks to carry around, just like a typical boy! He had a blast!

In the afternoon we were blessed to have a tour of the entire city with a real estate agent who goes to the church we are looking at. He was amazing and was so full of information about Seattle. He really helped us to understand the city and gave us a lot of financial information as far as pricing goes for housing. It was a lot to take in and we must have driven through no less than 8 or 9 different cities/neighborhoods in Seattle. But it was great to get our bearings and to get a small feel for the area.

For dinner we went to this amazing little pizzeria in Queen Anne. I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me, but it was such great food! We had great conversation with the lead pastor and his wife. It’s been so amazing that they’ve taken time to get to know us and show a real interest in who we are and if we actually are going to be a good fit for this community. I don’t feel like we are unrealistically being ‘wined and dined’ at all. It’s real food, real conversation, with real people. And they fully get it that we might actually decide to stay in Phoenix. So that’s been a huge burden relief in the sense that they aren’t pressuring us to do anything either way.

The only reason I wasn’t relaxed during dinner is because Cruz was a terror. Seriously.

So we’ve been having a great time here. I knew I’d love Seattle. It’s such a cool city with so much character and a beautiful climate. I’ve always wanted to visit here and it’s just been great to come check out this opportunity. The people here are just awesome. Is it the right fit for us? We still aren’t sure at this point. We are waiting to check out the services on Sunday, which will be a huge deciding factor for us. But the conversations Jay and I are having are hard, honest and real conversations that completely take out the ‘glamorous’ side of moving up here. We are really trying to set aside how awesome the city is and really make the best decision for us. Because the truth of it is, the opportunity in Scottsdale is a pretty amazing one too. With really remarkable people in another fantastic city!

Thanks for letting me process through all of this. I think my posts might be sounding a little redundant, but I’m not sure what else to say or share. No matter what, this decision is going to be very tough. And we still haven’t had the moment of clarity that we were hoping for. But we’ll see. Right now, we’re open to anything and we are just trying to stay focused.

first impressions

5 Feb

Yesterday was a whirlwind! It was a crazy day.

We all woke up pretty early to head to Seattle for the weekend. As you may or may not know, Jason has been in the interview process with a church in the downtown area and we have been flown out here this weekend to check out the church, city, people and to see if this is in fact, somewhere we could see ourselves moving, living and doing ministry.

It’s pretty crazy that we are even entertaining this idea. When we left the church we were last at, the idea of moving out of state sounded very exciting. And to have no limits to where we could go was exhilarating. But honestly, I didn’t really think we’d leave Arizona. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t think we would. And now to even be exploring this option is nuts and it’s totally an adventure for us too! I’m excited to be here and to check it out, because if we decide not to go, we always would have wondered had we not come and checked it out.

And maybe we are supposed to be here. That’s what we are processing. I find myself freaked out one minute and totally stoked the next. So it’s scary, exciting and every other emotion you can imagine.

Especially for a pregnant lady.

So we woke up super early and headed to the airport to catch our flight. It was Cruz’s first time on an airplane and I’m not surprised to report that he did not do that well. Ha! This kid was meant to be an explorer, I’m sure of it. He can not and will not sit still for very long at all. Luckily, the flight was only half full so we were able to bring his carseat onto the plane. We were hoping he’d fall asleep, but we weren’t so lucky.

Once we landed, we picked up our stroller and put Cruz in it to head to baggage claim. I’m not kidding, the minute we put him in his stroller he passed out. So he slept for about 15 minutes- from the plane to the curb where we got picked up. But he wasn’t that fussy, so whatever.

We headed to downtown Seattle and let me tell you- my first initial thoughts of Seattle are exactly what I thought they’d be. I love the city. I love the cloudy days. And it’s gorgeous here. Obviously, I’ve been here for about 5 minutes, so these are first impressions, but it’s a very neat city! And that’s what everyone has been telling me!

We grabbed lunch Red Mill Burgers, which we’ve been told are the best burgers in town. I haven’t had any other burgers in Seattle yet, but this place was SO good! And there was a line out the door the whole time we were there. Cruz loved the french fries, which were big and fat. I wish I would have taken a picture there, but I was so caught up in conversation that I didn’t think about it!

Then we headed to the bed and breakfast we are staying at. It’s called Chelsea Station Inn and this is possibly the cutest place I’ve ever stayed! Our room is more like an apartment, complete with a dining room, kitchen, two bathrooms, living room etc. It’s not huge, but definitely a perfect size and very comfortable. I snapped a couple pictures with my small camera, even though these pictures don’t do it justice.

So that’s really all I can say about Seattle this far. We just got here and we are just excited for the opportunity to explore our options. No matter what we decide to do, I’m happy with where God’s leading us- either in Seattle or Scottsdale. I kinda feel like there’s not going to be a ‘right’ answer. I feel like we are being blessed with two amazing communities to pick from and for that I am eternally grateful. I know I always say it, but a year ago I never thought we’d be here. I just feel very blessed and very proud of Jason. He’s such a good man and leader for our home and family. I literally looked over at him on the plane today (in between Cruz’s screams) and was overwhelmed with gratitude for him. There’s no one I’d rather be on this journey with than him.

So life is crazy. This journey is nuts. But I’m thrilled to be checking out all of our options so we can make the best decision for us.

Whatever that may be.

first night away

5 Dec

This is my very first night away from Cruz. It’s the first time I’ll be away from him for a full 24 hours, actually. I’m currently in California- my dear cousin Sarah is having a baby and I am out here to attend her baby shower and to take her maternity pictures! I’m so excited about these pictures, it’s not even funny.

It’s a quick trip- I flew in tonight where she picked me up, we picked her husband Jake up and the three of us went to Olive Garden for dinner- where we all agree that we just ate WAY too much! But how could you not? It’s just so yummy and although I am doing P90X, I am allowing myself one cheat meal a week.

So there.

I’ve just been having a blast with those two. They are such a cute couple and compliment each other so well- we just laughed over so much during dinner and all the way home and in the hallway of their house. It’s just so great to come hang out with family. I don’t see them nearly enough. Sarah is pregnant with their little girl, Jillian, AKA ‘Jillybean’, and I just love her to pieces already! I can’t wait for Cruz and Jilly to play like I used to play with all of my cousins. We are going to make sure that they know each other well and that they are great friends. Sarah is due in a couple months, and I just can’t wait to meet Jillybean!

Sarah and Jake have been so gracious to let me stay here. Tomorrow we have fun pictures planned all over town- and I even found the sweetest car down the street that we are going to try to use. I’m completely stoked.

It’s been a great few hours away so far, even though it is a quick trip. It’s crazy to think that I haven’t had a night away from Cruz since he’s been born. And although he is only one year old, that is a long time to never be apart from somebody. I think a night away was completely needed, but I also miss the little guy like crazy! He’s with Jay, and I of course know that he is being well taken care of, but it’s still hard to let go and relax.

But I’m going to try! I’m heading to bed because I have a long and extremely fun day ahead of me tomorrow! We are getting up bright and early to take those maternity pictures all over Cali.

After we get coffee.

And on that note, I am going to leave you with the most adorable picture of the most adorable boy on the face of the planet, who I miss terribly. I will see him tomorrow, and I have to remember that space and time away is good for me every once in a while.

Even if I do miss those chubby cheeks.

101 things in 1001 days

7 Aug

Jay & Jess

So Jay and I got this idea from this blog and thought it was an awesome and inspiring idea! We are all about stuff like this and were very encouraged to think creatively to compile this list. 

As we were on the way home from Disneyland we thought, Sure! Let’s start writing out our list and we’ll have it finished in no time. It took the entire car ride and longer.

We’ve been home from Disneyland how long? And we have just now completed this list. It was really hard. We could’ve listed 101 places to travel to, but that’s  totally not realistic for us right now.

So we thought long and hard about things that we really want to accomplish within the next 1001 days. It was a really difficult task. But it was so awesome because we were really able to talk about the different things we want to do, goals we each have, and brainstorm about what the next 1001 days is going to look like for us!

In the end, we are super happy with this list, very encouraged about the future and excited to get started!

So here we begin… We are starting this list today, August 7th, 2009. And in 1001 days we hope to have most, if not all of these things completed! Our end date will be 1001 days from now, which is May 4th, 2012. That seems so far away!

Check out our list and remember- these are not in any specific order at all. And we don’t plan on completing them in this order. Ha!

And you should definitely do this if you’re planning on being in the car for a long time. It’s a great conversation piece and it takes forever.


101 in 1001 Days

1. Get out of debt

2. Go to New York

3. Have another baby

4. Go to San Francisco

5. Photograph a wedding

6. Complete P90X

7. Sky dive

8. Take the X Train Photoshop Class

9. Visit the Strehle’s

10. Get a second camera

11. Buy a new car

12. Go to a Coldplay concert

13. Take Cruz to Sea World

14. Redo our back yard

15. Visit Aunt Teri & Uncle Bill in Georgia

16. Finish creating our dream board

17. Go to The Ellen Show

18. Give all the money we make from 1 wedding and 1 lifestyle photo shoot to someone who needs it- anonymously. 

19. Eat at Fred’s

20. Learn to play the piano

21. Paint Cruz’s bathroom

22. Take vocal lessons

23. Get our photography blog up and running

24. Go on a missions trip

25. Put Cruz in swimming lessons

26. Go to Yellowstone National Park

27. Take an all girls vacation for one weekend (Jess)

28. Take an all guys vacation for one weekend (Jay)

29. Go fishing

30. Get passports for all three of us

31. Visit Grandpa Stribling’s gravesite

32. Stay at a Hyatt Resort somewhere other than AZ

33. Swim with Cruz in the ocean

34. Go on a Disney Cruise

35. Finish decorating our bedroom

36. Write our will

37. Take a nap together in a hammock

38. Take a dance class (Jess)

39. Print our favorite pictures from certain photo shoots and print on canvas’s to display

40. Finish school

41. Kiss in the rain

42. Visit Grandma in Payson

43. Clean the carpet

44. Eat at Serendipity’s in New York

45. Take Cruz to the snow

46. Lose 15 pounds (Jess)

47. Make our family Christmas card

48. Turn our blogs into blog books

49. Make our promo video

50. Create our family photo albums

51. Read the whole Bible

52. Take a gondola ride

53. Go to The Cinema Supper Club again

54. See Harry Potter in the theatre

55. Take Cruz back to Disneyland

56. See Phantom of the Opera live

57. Serve on a Second Saturday

58. Have dinner at the Compass Room

59. Get all of our personal pictures backed up and organized

60. Buy a new iMac

61. Do a cash flow plan every month

62. Learn how to do couponmom.com the right way

63. Get health insurance

64. Finish decorating/organizing the office

65. Stop gossiping

66. Blog 2-3 times per week (Jay)

67. Get better at sending birthday cards

68. Spend more time together

69. Treat someone to lunch once a month

70. Get a Flip Mini HD Camera

71. Visit Ron & Anna Merrell

72. Set up our business policy

73. Plan Cruz’s 1st birthday party

74. Go to 3 or more baseball games each season

75. Go to The Oprah Winfrey Show

76. Go to the batting cages and hit balls

77. Get an iPhone

78. Groom Audio regularly

79. Get ice cream at The Sugarbowl

80. Go on monthly date nights (or more if possible!)

81. Go to a concert at The Hollywood Bowl

82. Rent a luxury car for a date night

83. Get a Wacom tablet

84. Ride a zip line

85. Buy a new router

86. Fix the couch

87. Be intentional about sending thank you cards

88. Finish the plate collection 

89. Resave our emergency fund

90. Read a new book every month

91. Pick a pumpkin at Schnepf farms

92. Purchase a piano and restore it

93. Get a Disneyland pint glass for our collection

94. Clean out kitchen cupboards

95. Get ink for our printer

96. Get a massage

97. See John Mark McMillan in concert

98. Get a Wii

99. Start working on our next 100 list

100. Book a boudoir photo shoot (Jess)

101. Get new curtains