This Last Year I…

At the beginning of the year I committed to do several things.

Here’s what I accomplished:

Had a baby!

The rest of my goals? I didn’t finish them 100% like I wished I would.

A few that I accomplished partially:

I lost 25 pounds.

Then gained 5 back. So I’ve lost 20 of the 30 lbs I vowed to lose.

I shot 7 weddings for Jenna Cole.

Kimberly and Bradley

Kathryn and Eric

Natalie and Jeramy

Laura and Matt

Kate and Cormac

Lauren and Richard

Brynn and Jeff

I finished three nonfiction LDS books.

And those I didn’t even come close to accomplishing:

Finish college courses except last foreign language class. (Not currently working on this right now.)

Clean out my inbox by the end of January. Reply to Jenna Cole emails within 24 hours. Reply to personal emails within 72 hours. Reply to blog comments within one week. (I cleaned out my inbox by the end of January, but if filled right back up again.)

Dream up a “concept shoot”. Find models. Find props. Make artwork I can be proud of. (Someday this will happen, but my paying clients always have to come before my personal goals.)

Attend the temple at least once/month after the baby comes. (I’ve only been twice, once in Dallas and once in SLC.)

After baby is born, devote an entire day to myself. Get a facial/pedicure/massage, go to a museum, take pictures of whatever inspires me, do no laundry/no dishes/cook no meals. (This is one I should definitely work on in 2011!)

Cook/bake one dish from the Polish cookbook TH’s aunt gifted us. (I have the poppyseeds. Maybe for Valentines day?)

My 2009 goals, and what I accomplished.

This year I’m going to start working on 101 goals to be finished in 1001 days. I was inspired by Emily, and you’re free to join us if you’d like!

Luxurious Christmas

I am typing this from my new iPad. The photo at the top of this post was taken with my dSLR, uploaded directly to my iPad, edited (poorly :) ) and inserted into the post. Frankly it all feels a little bit unbelievable. My sister and I had suspected a possibility of an iPhone 4 Christmas, but my parents made it clear that wasn’t going to happen. I was fine with that, my sister was a little bummed though because she really needs a new phone. I put an immersion blender at the top of my list and started thinking about how much easier it was going to be to make butternut squash soup with my new kitchen gadget.

My parents had different plans though. My dad opened an iPad, a surprise from my mom. My sister and I opened our boxes, and then my mom opened one from my dad. Yes, 4 people, 4 devices. Insane.

I admit, I am left feeling confused. I don’t feel guilty that I have the gift, after all my parents work hard to earn what they have and they are free to spend their money how they please (mom and dad I love that you are spending things this way :) ), but this is the first time I’ve felt weird talking publicly about something I own. The act of admitting that I have it feels like bragging to me.

I think this comes from the luxury status of the gift. I have a LOT of nice things. A dSLR and many expensive accessories but I’m working hard to pay for all of those. We live in a nice apartment but it isn’t a luxury apartment according to most American standards, just a really nice place for two students to live. Our car certainly isn’t luxurious, it’s 15 years old and we plan to drive it into the ground, but I appreciate that it’s reliable and we can afford to pay to park it under our apartment building. My life is a mix of items used and new, cheap and fancy, and I don’t have any problem talking frankly about what I have, but this iPad feels different.

Maybe it’s the newness of it. Or it could be that I’ve really longed for one since it was announced and I’m still in disbelief that I own one. More likely though, it’s a sense of guilt that I have so much when others have so little. TH and I frequently bemoan the reality that the more educated and aware you become, the harder life becomes. How much do I have to give to others and how much can I keep for myself if I want to be a “good person”?

I don’t know the answer to this, and I really don’t think there is one right answer. The best I can do is to look back at what I’ve done in the past and figure how to change for the better in the future. I can talk about the nice things I have as long as I remember how lucky I am to have them. And, I think, I can enjoy the gift from my parents. They gave of their worldly possessions to make me happy (it worked!) and one way to show gratitude for that sacrifice is to let myself completely enjoy what I’ve been given.

Thank you mom and dad. I think you can tell from the way it’s never out of my sight that I SO love this gift.

A few questions today:

When you receive something that feels luxurious, do you feel guilty? How do you deal with that emotion?

How would you prefer that the bloggers you read talk about this sort of thing? Does it annoy you? Feel like they are bragging?

And of course, if you have an iPad yourself what are your favorite apps? :)

The Christmas Truce

Our home teacher (a congregational member assigned to teach and care for our family) came over last Sunday and shared this story with us, a story I’ve never heard before. My eyes are tearing up as I type this, as it’s one of the most beautiful examples of the power of the Christmas spirit that I’ve ever heard. The text below was excerpted from an article in the New York Times, which can be read in full here. Each paragraph below represents an account from a soldier who was present at this miraculous event.


It was a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere; and about 7 or 8 in the evening there was a lot of commotion in the German trenches and there were these lights -I don’t know what they were. And then they sang “Silent Night” – “Stille Nacht.” I shall never forget it, it was one of the highlights of my life. I thought, what a beautiful tune.

Then suddenly lights began to appear along the German parapet, which were evidently make-shift Christmas trees, adorned with lighted candles, which burnt steadily in the still, frosty air! … First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up “O Come, All Ye Faithful” the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.

I shouted to our enemies that we didn’t wish to shoot and that we make a Christmas truce. I said I would come from my side and we could speak with each other. First there was silence, then I shouted once more, invited them, and the British shouted “No shooting!” Then a man came out of the trenches and I on my side did the same and so we came together and we shook hands – a bit cautiously!

We shook hands, wished each other a Merry Xmas, and were soon conversing as if we had known each other for years. We were in front of their wire entanglements and surrounded by Germans – Fritz and I in the center talking, and Fritz occasionally translating to his friends what I was saying. We stood inside the circle like street corner orators. … What a sight – little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! Out of the darkness we could hear laughter and see lighted matches, a German lighting a Scotchman’s cigarette and vice versa, exchanging cigarettes and souvenirs.

Our Padre … arranged the prayers and psalms, etc., and an interpreter wrote them out in German. They were read first in English by our Padre and then in German by a boy who was studying for the ministry. It was an extraordinary and most wonderful sight. The Germans formed up on one side, the English on the other, the officers standing in front, every head bared.

Eventually the English brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as our friends for a time.

Santa Baby

Here we have 20+ pictures of T1 looking pretty much exactly the same (adorable) wearing nothing but a diaper and a santa hat. Soooo mommy blogger of me.

I feel like I really struggled with the color while editing these. The red screams with you and I can’t expose the skin as brightly as I would like because of the bright white in his hat.

I like these better in black and white, but you lose the red in his hat that way.

Two things for Tuesday:

1. We aren’t ever going to tell our kids that santa clause is real. Leaves no room for confusion regarding the difference between Jesus and Santa, helps kid realize that money doesn’t grow on trees and that presents come form parents who work hard to provide them, allows us to better focus on Christmas as the birth of Christ (not the time when a fat man brings you whatever your little heart desires). I’m sure there will be posts on how we handle this as he grows older, but you’ll have to wait a few years for that.

2. We aren’t giving T1 any presents this year. We’ll give him an old rag and a box to play with or something. I guarantee you that will make him just as happy as anything we can buy at the store.


Sometimes when I get him up from his nap, it looks like he put blush on while he was sleeping. I tell him that his makeup looks very pretty.

Also, whine whine whine about the annoying back-focusing issues on the 50mm 1.2. I took 50 photos of him in two minutes time and only two are focused the way I intended.

The end.

Happy Monday!