I finished my summer classes two days early to spend some time with my mom's extended family at a cottage they always rent the last week of July. I always enjoy spending time with them, but the fact that it marked the end of my summer classes only made it that much better. Oh, and the fact that my beautiful, wonderful, absolutely perfect brand new camera arrived at my parents house(sending it to my townhouse meant it could be waiting on my doorstep in our slightly sketchy area...wasn't going to take any chances) the day before I was planning to go to the cottage. Seeing as there's lots of little children running around the cottage, I had plenty of opportunities to play around and learn with my new camera. Here's some samples.

Jenna, the flirt.

Ty, with his cute smile.

Jacob, with his new glasses

Jacie, with her big, beautiful eyes.
Ryan, looking more grown up than I've ever seen him.



I do a lot of reading other people's blogs. It's entertaining and thought provoking and just something I generally enjoy doing, especially with the ones that are really well written.

On one of these such blogs, the author made a list of thirty things she wants to do before she turns thirty, and other people have adapted this concept and made their own lists. I've decided to jump on the bandwagon. I've noticed that many of the other people on this bandwagon are a bit closer to the thirty mark than I am, but I still enjoy the idea.

My 30 before 30
1. Do a REAL picnic lunch. Like, with the basket, the watermelon, the checked blanket. Okay, and blanket will do. But go to a nice park with a good friend, plop down in the perfect spot, eat a great lunch and then lie on our backs and look for shapes in the clouds.
2. Buy myself a generally expensive bouquet of flowers.
3. Bike enough to justify buying a new bike. Or at least a new super cushiony bike seat.
4. Go to NYC.
5. See a show on Broadway.
6. Try one of those deep fried Oreos and not care about the calories.
7. Graduate college. This one is most definitely going to happen, short of me going brain dead, but it's still something big I'm going to accomplish before I'm 30.
8. Live without roommates. Unless I get married. Then I can just live with my husband. But have a house that is mine all mine to decorate. I assume my future husband will not care about the decorating so much, hence it being okay if I go from roommates to married without living on my own first.
9. Go to Chicago with Leslie. Shop, maybe see a show, just walk around. Enjoy the city.
10. Play with sparklers, and play with taking pictures of sparklers.
11. Go on a spontaneous trip. To somewhere at least an hour away. Decide to go within 24 hours of leaving.
12. Go to a spa and get one of those hot rock massages.
13. Grow my hair out. Like, long. Past my chest long.
14. Visit a country I've never been to before. Ideally, Greece. But since that's a long way away and may not be possible before 30, I'm putting just any country, so if I have to, Canada will do.
15. Figure out a way to really make a difference in the lives of the people I photograph. Use my talent to give them confidence not in just how they look, but in who they are. Especially with younger girls. Figure it out by 30, implement it for the rest of my life.
16. Try yoga.
17. Make a CD of me singing. This thought completely embarrasses me, but a gift like that is something my grandparents would love.
18. Drink champagne in a limousine. Document this with my camera. Probably at a wedding.
19. Own a smart phone. Be a little tech-y.
20. Tell my mom I almost missed my first college exam because my alarm didn't go off and I slept through the first 45 minutes. And pray by then she thinks it's funny.
21. Ask my Grandma about how she fell in love with my Grandpa.
22. Shoot a boudoir session. Or, get married and have one done myself as a wedding gift to my husband. Or both.
23. Be in a musical. Whether it's one at church or one that I actually have to try out for, do it. And remember why I love it.
24. Clean out my closet at my parent's house. And laugh at all my old notes from high school.
25. Work at a summer camp. For a whole summer or a week, one that I stay at or one that's just a day camp close to home. Just as long as I'm working with kids.
26. Lose 15 pounds. And probably gain them back and lose them again over the next nine years, but lose that much at least. Try not to weigh more than I do now at 30. Unless I'm pregnant. Then I get a free pass.
27. I hope I've had children by then. Or at least am seriously close to having some.
28. Manage to not miss a day of flossing my teeth for a whole year. I'm the worst at this.
29. Learn and retain enough of a language to be able to get by visiting that country. I feel like that really varies depending on the country, so it might not be that difficult.
30. Tell one of my family members or friends that I write a blog. And give them the address.



I've decided to try something new. I'm going to start randomly posting posts dedicated to people I'm thankful for. Maybe like one a month. It gives me time to reflect on that person and put why I'm thankful for them into words, a process that makes me appreciate them even more.

For my first post : my friend and roommate, Laura.

I'm so thankful for Laura's generosity. Nothing is too big a task when it comes to the people she cares about. I admire that trait in her, and love that I can call her at 11 at night to freak out about a guy or my family or whatever happens to be on my mind and she's so willing to listen.

I'm thankful for her spontaneity. She's as crazy as me, and she loves running outside in the rain. I'd never done that before I met her, and now whenever it rains I hope I'll get home before it stops so we can go be crazy and laugh until we cry.

My favorite thing about Laura is how we communicate. We always pick on each other, saying "get out of my head!" whenever we say aloud what the other one is thinking, but I'm so thankful that she's in my head. She gets me, she thinks the same way as me, and I love that we can talk without words.


Now that I've spent time reflecting on Laura...it seems like it'd be wrong to end this without thanking the one who allows me to have that friendship in the first place. Karen Kingsbury is one of my favorite authors, and at the end of her acknowledgements pages in every book she writes she always says something like, "And to my Heavenly Father, who has, for now, blessed me with these." I've always loved that...and it seems appropriate to put something similar after posts like these.

So, thanks God, for blessing me, for now, with Laura, and the friendship we share.



So a while ago there was this thing floating around facebook, where you were supposed to come up with 25 things about yourself and write them out and post them in a note. I did it, because I am a dork. And then I recently found the document in my files and thought I'd post it on here too.

Without further ado, 25 things about moi.

(1) I didn't want to do this when I first saw it and then I got bored and now I'm giving it a shot. Twenty-five things could be tough.

(2) I think it's possible to fall in love with activities in a similar way to falling in love with people. Like, what you're passionate about. I'm totally in love with photography and it's a part of my every day. Something I would miss and feel slightly lost without, the way I would feel if I lose someone I loved.

(3) I absolutely despise the smell of cigarette smoke, sometimes it makes me ill, and yet I waitress in a bar and love my job.

(4) I'm a hopeless romantic. All the grand gestures that guys do in movies I totally love...but only if they're heartfelt. If some guy covers my home in rose petals and writes me a song that he sings to me passionately when he doesn't even know me that well, I'm going to be annoyed, not swept off my feet. Stuff like that takes time, you can't really appreciate someone until you know them.

(5) That being said, a guy with a good voice is a huge turn-on. But is also by no means a requirement. Being able to appreciate music, however, is kind of a requirement. And also a turn-on.

(6) For a while, my facebook profile said I was interested in both men and women. I have no idea how that happened and it's definitely not true. I'm into men.

(7) I have a lot of my eventual wedding planned, like even down to who I want to photograph it. There's no groom in this picture, just flowers and dresses and details. It's a girl thing. I've been thinking about it since birth. Photographing weddings every weekend does not help matters.

(8) I have a desire to learn to bartend, because where I work, the bartenders have to work faster than the waitresses, and I love fast paced environments. I actually like working for my money.

(9) I'm a Christian, and I don't know how I'd get through my life without knowing there's a God who loves me unconditionally, and who has a plan for me and who gives my life worth.

(10) I'm a compulsive tooth brusher. Seriously, like five times a day. Definitely in the morning and at night, and then whenever I'm leaving my apartment or after I eat. I just like having fresh breath.

(11) I love fashion and style. Experimenting with clothes, makeup, hairstyles. Soaking up advertisements, learning from the marketing. Watching shows about housing design, devouring blogs. I love all of it.

(12) I used to think that girls using Halloween to dress like a total slut was retarded...and then I tried it. Granted, my definition of slutty is probably much tamer than most people's, but I when I had to dress up for work I was a naughty school girl and I loved it. I then decided that if at any point in your life it can be considered just plain old fun to dress slutty on Halloween, it's when you're in college. It's one day where you can kind of get away with it.

(13) I love kids. I cannot wait to have my own even though I'm absolutely terrified of going through pregnancy and child birth and having the responsibility of raising a child. But seriously, no one totally knows what they're doing, and it's not an experience I'm going to be scared out of. And the same way I have my wedding planned, I have potential kid names picked out. It's what I do in class when I'm bored.

(14) My favorite color is yellow, and I have a phone cover that's bright yellow. And I really don't care that it makes me look like a teeny bopper college kid, it helps me stand out as an individual, and I'm okay with that.

(15) Ice cream is my kryptonite.

(16) I'm independent. I don't date someone just to have someone to hold me, and when I am dating someone, I still need things that are mine. I like my life to be busy and I like to accomplish things on my own. I need that independence.

(17) NYC. I need to go there before I die. And see a show on Broadway, and see Times Square.

(18) My favorite t shirt in the whole wide world is a plain white v neck t from GAP. I got it on sale for like six dollars. It's the softest shirt ever and I can put my vest or a blazer over it and look casual preppy or I can wear it with sweats and just be comfortable and it's wonderful for layering. Basics are underrated.

(19) Songs from musicals tend to get to me more than any other song. I think it's because I understand the character, there's background there. So many more ways to apply it to my life. It's why I like TV shows better than movies, you spend more time with the characters and love them more because of it.

(20) I like wine. I'm not a person who likes to drink to get drunk, but I love the idea of a glass of wine with dinner and love trying different wines.

(21) My dogs are like my children. I don't expect this to change until I've had actual human children, and even then, my dogs will be an important part of my life.

(22) I love swimming and being in the water. Possibly because it's something I'm generally good at that's athletic. I'm not going to win any races or anything, but I can hold my own and swim for long periods of time. Waterskiing is one my favorite things too, and I really want to learn to wakeboard well. I'm currently pretty pathetic.

(23) I've always been this kid who got along better with adults. I think it's because I don't have any siblings. I was always around adults, and I was always just a little bit more comfortable with them.

(24) I have this guilty pleasure called Gossip Girl. Stupid, silly, overly dramatic show that makes me happy. I also love Grey's Anatomy, and Bones.

(25) I'm internally optimistic. I can't help it, and while I have my bad days, I tend to always think glass half full about things. Why would I enjoy life if I didn't have reason to be optimistic? It's just how I am.


I read this blog called Dooce. I started reading it a few months ago, and Heather Armstrong, the author, is hilarious. She has the most wonderful sense of humor, and posts beautiful photographs to accompany her posts. Plus, she talks about her dog a lot. She just had her second child, and she's mentioned the depression she struggled with after having her first little girl. This struck my interest, and I decided to go back to before I started reading her blog and read all her posts from that time in her life.

How heartbreaking. Terrifying. And beautiful.

I've given some thought to postpartum depression because my mom struggled with it after she had me, and to some degree, it's genetic. She mentioned this to me one day, telling me if I ever felt like that when I have children to make sure I called so she could come help me out and get me through it.

Obviously, if she talks that casually about it, she didn't experience depression as badly as she could have, but it's something that's scared me a little bit ever since she told me. I want kids more than anything. I want a family. So, naturally, as I started reading about Heather's experiences, I started freaking out. I don't want to go through what she went through, I don't wan to have to go to a psych facility, I don't want to feel that helpless. I got scared, and I switched into freak out mode.

But then I got to the end of the story. The part where she got better, the part where her fantastic humor starts coming out again. The part where her husband was there, the part where she got the help she needed. She wrote this about her husband during that time:

"Jon has been a Superhero throughout this whole thing and I am once again reminded that I scored the Best Husband in All the Land. He is so supportive and giving and so very, very hot. I miss him so much that I physically hurt, and when he visits I plunge my face into his neck so that I can smell the shaving cream he used earlier that day. That is my favorite smell in the world, right up there with the smell of Leta's(her daughter's) head and the smell of bacon frying."

He was her strength. From the posts he wrote, he didn't even realize it. But he helped her more than he knew, simply because he was there for her to fall into his arms. And doctors helped get her on the medication she really needed to help her through that time. She was broken, but it became an encourging, beautifully heartbreaking experience.

I'm not sure she'd see it that way, she has no problem saying she's not a Christian. But I am a Christian girl, a girl who believes that everything happens for a reason. And looking at the people she's touched by sharing her story, looking at how her husband was able to help her, looking at how the doctors were able to figure out a way to make things better...if that's not God, I don't know what is.

My parents were divorced before I was two. One of the factors that can increase risk of postpartum depression is poor support from your spouse, or a high amount of stress. Something tells me both of those factors were a part of my mom's experience.

Yeah, there's a possibility I could struggle with postpartum depression myself. Maybe more of a possibility than the next person. But the beauty in that is I won't be alone. I'll have my mom. I'll have my future husband. And most importantly, I'll have God, who reminds me just how big He really is every day. There will never, ever be a moment that I'll have to do anything on my own, at any point of my life. What more could I ask for?



So this past week I had one of those milestone birthdays. I'm now twenty one. I think that means all the exciting, happy milestone birthdays are over, until like 100.

Turning 21 wasn't as exciting to me as it is to most people, the due to the whole not-drinking-alcohol-much thing. But it is nice to know that there are certain things I can now enjoy, like being able to go out to a club and go dancing. I was so excited about that, despite the fact that my dancing skills are laughable. The place we went out to recently cancelled their DJs on Wednesday nights due to the lack of people out during the week, but they let us make our own playlist and played all those songs for us. It was even better that way.

I played some darts...got two bullseyes and also managed to not even hit the board on a couple throws. Definitely random, no skill involved at all. I didn't even try pool.

The best thing about turning 21: All the friends that showed up for the occasion. My roommate from freshman year who's still one of my best friends came and spent the night in Green Bay with us. My roommate from sophomore year and her best friend who also spent a lot of time in our apartment came and brought a friend. My current roommates. Two good from high school and college came out that I haven't really seen all summer. One of my best guy friends from high school who I can pick up a conversation with like no time has passed came out. It was just such a fun time being able to see a bunch of my friends from different circles all hanging out together.

The worst thing about turning 21: At work whenever a creepy guy that I'd been waiting on all night asked me to stay after my shift and have a drink or meet them someplace later, I'd always say, sorry, I can't, I'm only 20! Um...WHAT AM I GOING TO SAY NOW?!



Big news...I'M BUYING A CAMERA!! I realize I'm the only one excited about this, but that's beside the point.

I'm also freaking out a little bit about buying a camera because, well, they're not cheap. But I can afford it and it will make me money and it's also going to help me learn faster than the camera a currently have, plus it can accommodate lenses my current camera can't. So it's a wise purchase, just still an expensive one that makes me slightly mournful about the serious bite it's going to take out of my checking account.

Just look at it! The sight of it nearly makes me drool with anticipation.

Then, today, I was scrolling through the blogs I often read, and on one called Stuff Under Twenty(that's full of deals that are under $20! Some of the cutest stuff, home decor and clothing items, and they often post more than one post a day. Splendid!), they're doing a giveaway for a Designs by Jessie slip cover for camera straps! I definitely put my name, how awesome would it be to win a new drool-worthy camera strap to go with my new drool-worthy camera?! Happiness!

Here's my favorite, I think. I really love yellow with black and white lately. So summery!

I also really like this one though, more elegant. The giveaway allows you to pick the cover you want, so cool! I've got my fingers crossed! :)



Sometimes when I'm editing pictures I get really excited because I can see a big difference in my ability, and it's awesome to see that all of this practicing and learning from Adam and reading forums and trying to soak things in is actually working!

I think this one is possibly my favorite picture I've ever taken at a wedding.

Eee! I stole the posing idea from Jeff and Julia Woods, an amazing husband/wife photography team, but I was still so excited when I got it all to work out the way I wanted it too. Yey!



I just found out a friend of mine lost his mom. She went in the hospital for something minor, and it didn't turn out to be that way. She's got more kids, some who are young teenagers.

To go into the hospital thinking everything is going to be fine, that the whole situation is minor, and then to lose your mom...just, ugh. My heart breaks for their family...it's hard to lose someone at any stage of your life, but to lose your mom, before you're married, before she's seen your kids, before you've graduated high school. My mom is my stability. She drives me nuts sometimes, but she is who I go to for everything. When I don't talk to her for a few days it seems like a forever. I can't imagine finding out she was gone.

The hardest part for me is always what to say in a situation like this, and I know I'm not alone. It's just, I'm used to knowing what to say, that's never been an issue for me. And then when it comes to something like this, when I so want to say something that will really help this person feel better...I'm at a loss for words.

When my Gramma died, it really wasn't awful. It wasn't sunshine and rainbows, but I had peace. I knew what to say to help my family members, I knew how to handle the whole situation with ease. But my Gramma was sick. It wasn't a shock. We knew it was coming. We had time to say goodbye, and she was so ready to go home.

To me...that peace is so important. When I die, I want there to be no mistake about where I'm going. I want everyone who had any sort of connection with me to know without a doubt that I've gone home, that I'm happier than I've ever been, and that they'll see me again someday. Then it's easy to know what to say.



This 4th of July I really, really wanted sparklers. Like, more than I wanted regular fireworks. Which is weird, because regular fireworks are supposed to be way cooler than plain ole little sparklers. I didn't wind up finding any sparklers though, oh well.

I spent Thursday and Friday with my family, on the lake skiing. My cousin was doing some pretty crazy stuff, hop docks(hopping off the dock with one ski on as the boat pulls you) and fly docks(jumping off the dock as the boat pulls you off it with a barefooting suit on and no skis, wrapping your feet around the rope and riding on your butt until you stand up and barefoot) and barefooting. The old timers ski show was coming up, and he had to prove to himself he still had it. He pulled everything off flawlessly. It was so nice to get out there, first time this year, and fireworks on the lake are always better because you can see their reflection in the water.

The actual 4th I was back with the boy, and it was so fun. There was a cookout at his house, and then we went and watched friends play softball(and win!) and came back for a homemade fireworks show. Let me tell you , those boys love fire!

Last night made me thankful for my boyfriend's friends. I love spending time with him, and he's happy and silly and fun when he's with me, but he's got a whole different kind of happy that comes out when he's spending time with his guy friends(and playing with fire) that's important too, and I'm so thankful he has that the same way I have that with my girlfriends.



I was out of commission the last week while I was at CountryUSA. Talk about a crazy summer week filled with no sleep and lots of concerts and screaming! It was so fun, and so exhausting.

Some of the headliners included Montgomery Gentry, Dierks Bentley, and Brad Paisley...all of them putting on excellent shows. I really do love country music. Taylor Swift was a headliner too...but honestly not that great. Her songs are more hang-out-with-your-girlfriends type songs...and I was with as many guys as girls. She made a valiant effort, it just didn't do it for me.

My favorite group was Lady Antebellum...they weren't a headliner but I know every single one of their songs and am kind of a little bit in love with them. I always enjoy groups just a little itty bit more than solo singers because I get lost in the harmonies. That's the choir geek in me.

When I got home my mom asked me if I still think I'm compatible with my sweet boyfriend after spending a whole week with him, and I was happy to report that I totally still think so. I think I could be around him forever and not get sick of him. We work well around each other...I had school work I needed to get done, he had Russian to study...we were with each other but we both knew we had other things to attend to. I need that...someone who needs my constant attention will wind up with attention from my fist.

...okay, so not really, but it'd drive me nuts. It was nice to realize that we do really get along quite famously even when we're ridiculously overtired and cranky. I mean, I'm sure that won't always be the case, but at least, for the most part, we're 'compatible'. Such discoveries make me happy.