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Stop. Right there.


Enough. Enough torturing yourself. Enough comparing yourself. Enough looking over your shoulder. And stop wasting your time! You ARE good enough. Enjoy where you are. Enjoy your journey. Enjoy your progression. Give yourself some slack. Or Grace. Or patience. And for Pete’s sake, stop comparing yourself. Stop wasting your time. You will drive yourself crazy. And Lord have Mercy we already have enough crazy people.

It comes. The skills come. The clients come. But if you’re twisting your insides out you’re not going to enjoy it when it does happen. And the likelihood of you getting frustrated and burnt out will go way up.

I had an interesting run in this week. A woman in my neighborhood who I met at the Easter Egg Hunt called me. She said I gave the appearance I was someone who “didn’t give a crap what others thought”. I just about spit out my coffee when she said it. I do very much care what people think, to a point. But I have gotten to a point in my life where I don’t have time to do anything with it. I have better things to do. And so do you.

There are a few ways to drive your inner self crazy. Be a super harsh critic. Or compare yourself to everyone else.

Perfection does not exist. By all means, aim for it. But settle. Settle for excellence. Settle for Great. You will drive yourself bat-shit crazy trying to attain the impossible. Every image can’t be award winners. And when you are constantly bombarding yourself with what others do, it is really hard not to compare yourself. Not to size yourself up. Not to feel defensive, or just weak.

I have been busy taking my life back.

Let it go. Tune it out. Put your head in your own business. For every 10 minutes you’re spending on someone else that’s 10 minutes that could have been for you.  That’s ten minutes you could have been blogging, or emailing, or marketing, or reading, or out there shooting. You’ve given your own time to the same competition that you’re trying to be.

Unlike, Unfriend, Unfollow anything that is not healthy for you. Period.

There is real life. There is your family, or your friends, in person and online. Then there is everyone else. Prioritize. For me, I needed to drown out the noise. The negativity. And I needed to drown out the things that I was becoming resentful of. If someone did this, or didn’t do this. I needed a clean clear space. I have a phone number. I have an email. A Facebook relationship doesn’t determine whether or not you ever speak to the person again. I plan on taking my friendships off social media. I even plan on writing letters. Actual snail mail *gasp*. Who doesn’t love receiving a letter or card in the mail? Seriously.

Thoughts on leaving toxic friendships: It’s hard. But I have a house to run, family to feed, and a husband to care for. Everything comes second to that. My own mother comes second to that.

But it’s the subtle ones that are the hardest. The ones that nag at you but leave you miserable. Do it. Pull the plug. Life is too damn short. If you were told you have six months to live would you really be wasting time messing with it?

And, if you back out and are a total coward, which let’s face it. I left a few people in my life that I can’t stand. Unfollow. You don’t have to subject yourself to it.

And for pete’s sake. UNPLUG.

Ironic, because here I am typing a blog. But set boundaries. People ask me ALL THE TIME how I do anything. Folks, it doesn’t get done on its own. You make it happen. You make the choices that determine what happens. Like right now. I am writing a blog so tonight it’s frozen lasagna. It’s all about choices, right?


That one time we decided to chuck the plan and move across the country.


I remember the day really well. I was laying on the bed nursing our new baby and Michael was in the rocking chair picking his lip as he always does when he’s distressed, thinking, or day dreaming. We knew he hated his job. It was a good job. It wasn’t draining. It paid all our bills and then some. He enjoyed his coworkers. But it was mind numbing. Michael wanted to be on the front lines of the industry. He wanted to do something that had never been done before. And he knew that would be quantum computing. We talked about a company in Vancouver, Canada often, but we knew that a move like that would be costly, and we knew the housing market there was really expensive. So we started a plan. We called it “The one year plan”. We would pay off debt, save money, remodel the house, and plan for this move. We also knew there was a new startup company in Berkeley, California. But Michael was trying to keep a deal we made early in our marriage where I said “never. I never ever want to live in California.”. I hated California. I spent nearly every summer as a child here. And several as an adult. My mom is from California. And my dad’s family retired there. I. hate. traffic. I hate crowds. I need to breathe. So we laughed. Like, oh, hahaha, that will never happen.

So the one year plan went something like this. It was August. That was the start. Michael had applied to a graduate program to make him a more likely candidate for the company and we figured in one year he would be able to add enough to his resume to get him an interview.

“You should email someone at the company. Tell them you’re interested in working there and you want to know what would make you a better candidate. Ask them what they need. Let them know you’re passionate”, I said.

Famous last words. lol.

Michael sent off an email. A bloody brilliant email. And they responded instantly with an appointment for an HR interview.

This was early September. Not even one month into “the plan”.

They offered him a job in Dallas working with the company, but not working with the technology he was desperately seeking to help develop. So he declined the offer.

But the day before they called he threw this one at me. “Oh, I also sent off an application to the startup in California. They had a tab that said, “do we need you and not know it yet”.”

Well, I guess they needed him and now they knew it. Because two days after they got his application they sent him an HR interview request. And then another interview. And then two more telephonic interviews. One that involved a hilarious encounter with a rattlesnake, but I’ll save some of Michael’s dignity and not share that one.

And then a trip to San Francisco to interview on site.

It was still September.

He flew back and he agonized. Scrutinized. Stressed. Did he do well? Did he ace it?

But I knew. I’m pretty much married to Good Will Hunting. He’s a freak. He’s brilliant. And dedicated. And passionate. How could someone interview him and not know what he could do for them?

And then the CEO called. He said this is the modern day mission to put a man on the moon. He wanted to know if Michael could give it some blood, sweat, and tears. And Michael kindly responded that between the army and having six children, he had it in spades. He lived in a zone of pain and discomfort, daily, lol.

And that was it. He offered a job.

It was now October. The first week of October. We had finished remodeling one room. One freaking room. And Michael had to be at the new job in November.

The next few weeks and months were painful. Like, on a scale of 1-PTSD we were definitely in the PTSD category. Six children, remodel, live apart from spouse, clean a house, sell a house, pack a house, move,  buy a new house, unpack a new house, and begin remodeling new house. That was the new plan.

We did it. I’m not sure how, but we did. We interviewed real estate agents. We cleaned, gutted, purged, organized, staged, and I was able to keep the kids out of the house for showings and open houses. We were aggressive. We picked a price we knew we could sell quickly with. We did it. We did the cookies in the oven. We did the oils in the bedrooms. We did everything pinterest said to do. Oh, by “we” I mean me. Michael was in California already. lol. The house sold in 10 days.

I tried. I really tried to start packing. And at first it was easy. All the non essential items went in. I had four weeks so I left the necessary stuff out. And then we got sick. And sick again. And we took a pause for Christmas to celebrate one last holiday in our home. And then we were down to crunch time. We had 10 days to pack.

And then it happened. Brody crawled on my back while I was laying down. I thought it was sweet. The pressure of his little body on mine felt good. And then I heard that sounds. And I knew. We were all going down. Vomit. Vomit everywhere. For days. First Brody. Then me. Then Pippen. Then Campbell who got it the hardest and longest. It swept through the house. We tried. We tried to pack. We tried to sterilize the house. Michael was flying in with three days left. We had to pack the whole house, clean it, and hit the road.

We had Michael’s grandparents in town to help and we blew through it as fast as we could. The movers showed up and we were still only about 75% done with packing. It became a race at that point. And then of course, Michael got sick. Really sick. He took a bucket to closing sick. He was on the ground on the sidewalk heaving sick. It’s pretty hilarious now, but at the time, oh gosh. He was on the ground, I was trying to get the baby in the car and get out things so I could help him in. I saw our realtor coming. I saw her step off the curb to avoid the likely homeless drunk wrenching on the ground. And I saw her reaction when she realized it was not aforementioned homeless bum, but rather her client. It was awful.

But we made it. By the skin of our teeth, but we made it.

I had one last good cry. I said my goodbyes to the space that I had called home for over 3 years. This has been the longest I have called any place home since turning 18. I crawled in the bathtub where I had birthed two babies. I cried. And I said my goodbye.

We dug up our Saint Joseph and we began our move to California.

It was dark. We knew we wouldn’t make it far, I would have been okay if we’d only made it 30 minutes outside of Austin. We pushed 3 hours to Sonora, Texas. We drove at dusk. By we I mean I. Michael was still holding his bucket. We were a team though. We were deer spotters. I had never seen so many deer in my life. And they all wanted to play chicken with traffic. We crawled, slowly, painfully, sorely, and made it to a Best Western in a cute little Texas town. We did it.


Seriously, renting a dumpster was the best decision EVERRRRRR. We will do it every time we move. All that junk after the movers come. All that stuff you can’t give to goodwill and need to trash. Bam. Best 300$ ever spent. DSC_8162z

I cried. A lot. I cry every time we move. I also look like I’m 30 pounds heavier here. Thanks, Lularoe. DSC_8165z

The first photo of the road trip. And they became fewer and fewer. It is REALLY hard to try and road trip, vacation,  keep six children alive AND take photos of it, so we focus on the other parts. DSC_8170z

Rise and shine in Sonora, Texas! We slept in. Indulged in hot breakfast. And hit the road again for El Paso. We were supposed to do Indian Lodge. But NOOOOO. The ONE freaking week a year they are closed. Bastards.


In my new obsession I came across this quote from Erin Loechner retelling a story, “You make room for things you love”.

And it stopped me in my tracks. Yes, I absolutely do. And I cram it in one way or another, and despite how full I am, I squeeze it in. But, what if I am tired of squeezing. What if I want the things I love to have a little more wiggle room. To collide and bump into each other all happy like? What then? DSC_2774z

Well, then simply put, GET RID OF THE THINGS YOU DON’T LOVE. Bloody Brilliant.

Let’s back up. A recap of my last ten years.

  • 2007-2011 fight like hell to earn an engineering degree with three children underfoot, have two more miscarriages both at 12 weeks.
  • 2011 fight like hell to get a job, and when that failed, join the National Guard and go on active training for months.
  • 2012 Work in the National Guard, get a 9-5 *cough 24/7/365 cough* day job as a drilling engineer, AND have a surprise pregnancy.
  • 2013 Werk werk werk, cross country move, full time student husband, surprise, another pregnancy!
  • 2014 Work, new baby, NICU stay, goodbye sleep, forever, flying back to Alaska for work trips every 3-4 months
  • 2015 Work my ass off, get laid off as a thank you, transition to full time mama/part time photographer.
  • 2016 Have another baby, begin homeschool, remodel the house, sell the house, life apart from husband as he takes new job in California
  • 2017 Cross country move, six weeks in Alaska, spend months looking to buy a fixer upper that cost an arm, a leg, and a first born child. Begin remodel. Continue homeschool.

It has been full of suck. I mean, there are amazing moments in there. And I absolutely adore my family. I am incredibly happy. But, you know that point where you’re running, or exercising and you just want to throw up. You’re exhausted, you’re questioning everything from why you were exercising in the first place, to whether there can truly be a God, and just knowing you’d rather be sipping an 800 calorie sugar drink from Starbucks and stuffing your face with carbs. That friends, is the suck. And I live there. All. Day. Long

Something’s got to give. We are human. And for me, I’ve been able to juggle really really well. Incredibly well considering the fact that I cannot juggle literally. I rotate. I lax on my parenting one week, the house another, I do good healthy eating this week, but didn’t manage a trip to the grocery store or meal planning so we order take out for a few days. I budget really well for three weeks and then bam, amazon prime for the win (or loss?).

And my life has been a constant shuffle. And the victories, while I have enjoyed them, they haven’t been as large as I would like to continue living at this pace.

So, alas, I bring you back to my point. Make room for the things you love.

This will look different for everyone. But for me, I am grossly stepping back from photography. I will no longer off the live run of my workshop. I will be purging all the excess junk from my home in an adventure to simplify. I have sterilized my Facebook, both of friends and pages in an attempt to reduce the noise. I am online less, but available more. I have begun reading again. Maybe just a few pages at night, but something.

I will make room for what I enjoy and love. I am pursuing simplicity and I am finding more joy. Or at least I will once I finish this bloody remodel. *eyeroll*DSC_3509z



The birth story of baby #6. (most photos taken by Aubrey)

You would think that a woman with 5 kids would be an expert at the signs of labor. But yeah, I am a believer that sometimes the more you learn the less you know. What the hell does that mean? It means that the more you learn the more you realize that there is SO much out there that can happen, everything can be different, and it’s a humbling experience.

I went to bed watching a marathon of House, MD episodes and go figure I had weird dreams of mercury poisoning which in my dreams presented as a stomach ache. Or did it? I woke up at 7am and I just felt weird. The dream was weird. My stomach ache was weird. Michael was already up and getting ready to go to work. My mom was up with the kids. I was 8 days past my due date. I didn’t know if I had a stomach ache, had to poop, or was in labor, I had no idea what was going on because in my head I was dying of mercury poisoning. lol.

I walked around my room and decided that I would take a bath and see what was going on. It felt like cramps, not contractions. They didn’t hurt, they were very light and on the surface. It honestly felt like braxton hicks contractions before it felt like real contractions. But they seemed rhythmic. So I decided to get the contraction timer out. They were every 3 minutes. That couldn’t be right, and that couldn’t be real labor. 3 minutes? If I were having a hospital birth, that would be the OH shit zone.


So now it’s about 745 (took me 45 minutes to figure out what was going on) and I’m thinking, OK, we should call the midwife and let her know that I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I don’t want to be that girl that says she’s not in labor and then a head pops out of her vagina.

Soon the contractions are 2.5 minutes apart and I am definitely aware that I’m in labor. But the midwife was stuck in traffic. She calls a backup midwife who lives closer to midtown and who might be able to get to our house faster than her. But all is still manageable.


Well that escalated quickly. About 15 minutes later I’m now no longer able to talk through contractions and probably starting to make some primitive noises. It was enough for the midwife to say, “oh shit” loudly enough for me to hear it. “oh shit, what do you mean oh shit?” She starts to tell us that we need to be prepared to call 911 if we think the baby will arrive before she does. Say what? At the last midwife visit we discussed BRIEFLY what to do in the event the Michael had to deliver the baby, but uhh, we had a midwife, several! We didn’t live that far away! But in Austin during rush hour traffic 20 minutes can turn into an hour. 30 minutes, well, we found that it can take more than hour.

It’s 830 and I’m in full on labor. The hypnobabies worked well to a point, but the best technique I have found is just to breathe, count, breathe, count, so at this point my labor sounds like a psycho trying to count to 15. But all is well, there is some back labor, the kids are running a muck naked with their breakfast and watching cartoons. Michael is with me, Aubrey is there, my mom is rubbing my back, and we’re just doing our thing while I say, “I don’t understand, I feel like I’m much further than I really am”. <<<< Yeah, I’m a dumbass.

So now I’m starting to get nauseated. Normally this would mean I’m at least 8 cm, but I refused to psych myself out after Broderick’s long labor.  Nope. Not gonna have the midwife tell me I’m at a 3. I get some peppermint oil on a washcloth and dab it on my forehead and give it a few sniffs. We call the midwife again. She tells us again if I think I feel the urge to push or if I think that baby is coming to call 911. Nope, I’m still fine, trucking along, long ways to go.


“Call 911. Now!!!”


Michael is on the phone with 911. But the backup midwife comes in, she starts talking, something about who she is, wants to know if the baby is head down, “yeah, yeah, yeah, just check me and get this over with, I really don’t want to lay down”. Nice introduction Courtney.

“Am I dilated?”

“ohhhh yeah, you’re complete here”

Complete? Wait!! I need to start the tub! I feel the need to push, but I am determined for my water birth. So we run into the bathtub real quick and I stuck it out for a few extra contractions. Our actual midwife comes in right as I’m ready to push.


But here’s the thing. I REALLY don’t like pushing. So I give it a little half ass push, maybe 30%, just to see if the baby is really there. Then okay, maybe a 50%. So at this point my midwife tells me to stop screwing around and just push the damn baby out, it’s even more hilarious with her German accent.


And I got right to business. Next contraction I get the head out, but she yelled at me to keep pushing she wanted the baby out in one push because she sees some meconium coming in behind the baby. So, poof, out comes baby.

All 10 whopping pounds and 22 inches of baby. And they weighed her after she unloaded her bowels twice and peed. Good Grief.


Michael tells me it’s a girl. (I double check after the questionable announcement of baby #4.)

Yes, it’s a girl. And she’s beautiful. She’s chubby. She’s got beautiful big cheeks. Pippen Jane has arrived at 9:06am. Fifteen minutes after the first midwife had arrived.

We start transferring back into the bedroom. Now here is where you think a two hour labor and one push birth is a golden ticket. And don’t get me wrong, I was very happy about it, but it feels like your body has been hit by a truck and the endorphins are a little slower to kick in. And now I have to get my Free Willy ass out of the tub with a baby still attached to my innards. Not graceful friends, not graceful.


But I finally got everything I wanted. I had my home birth, a water birth, AND I got to stay home. I got to recover in my comfortable bed, in my wonderful home, surround by my family. We did our herbal bath… now in my head I planned on doing that alone with the baby. However, Campbell and Brody were still naked, and they heard the bath being run and snuck in before anyone noticed. So, we had ourselves a little herbal party and we all sat in there with this beautiful new baby girl. They were in love with her from the very first glance.

Everette came home from school and came bouncing into the bedroom and made it halfway in before she saw the baby on the bed. She was so excited she dropped to the floor and started crying. She was a big Team Pink fan.


Colton came home and he asked to hold his new sister and he had tears run down his face. It was really moving.

We are all absolutely smitten with this new baby and it feels as if she has been with us all along. Dare I say she is the best baby of all six. And big chubby cheeks, grumpy cat expressions. She is just perfect.




The BRING IT ON Homeschool curriculum plan for the Rust family. And. Uhm. I may have gone a bit hog wild. For a few reasons:

  1. Complete inexperience.
  2. Lack of local options to really check things out.
  3. Last minute decision to homeschool.
  4. Complete excitement.
  5. I love bullets and lists.

So, as we get further into the year we can scale back, or make some adjustments. I may end up hating some of these materials and need to find a used curriculum site. But, this is our plan for now. A lot came from resources listed from some wonderful bloggers. Some of my favorite resources have been:  Wild + Free, Cloistered Away, School of Life Learners, and about a dozen other IG accounts that are always giving me ideas.


10th grade Homeschool Curriculum:

  • Algebra 2: Teaching Textbooks
  • Chemistry: Khan Academy , Chemistry Matters, and a CD lecture series that I need to find and link at some point
  • English: List of classic lit novels, traditional essays, and technical papers, plus boomerangs. Also, Easy Grammar. Two different packages of SAT prep cards. Also, Brave Writer— this is her version of fun.
  • World History: AP text + prep materials (plus Story of the World, even though it’s much more elementary for this level), Netflix documentaries, and another site which I cannot find for the life of me, but once I do, that too.
  • Electives
    • Keyboarding:
    • Latin 1: Rosetta Stone
    • Poetry: Varied books and online sources
    • Art (watercolor classes, pottery classes, artist studies, etc)
    • Music: Viola Lessons
    • Horse Riding Lessons

And then she’ll be taking AP exams or CLEPS at the end of the year for the appropriate sections.

8th grade Homeschool Curriculum:

  • Algebra 1: Teaching Textbooks
  • Science: Chemistry Matters, and a CD lecture series
  • English: List of classic lit novels, traditional essays, and technical papers, plus boomerangs. Also, Easy Grammar.
  • US History: People’s History of the US and History of the US series
  • Electives
    • Keyboarding:
    • Latin 1: Rosetta Stone
    • Poetry: Varied books and online sources
    • Art (watercolor classes, pottery classes, artist studies, etc)
    • Music: Cello Lessons


5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum:



All that combined with some flexibility. Some Grace. Some IDGAF. Some possible and probably change to said homeschool curriculum. But. Here it is.

homeschool mission statement

I’ve found that writing a semi articulate homeschool mission statement is extremely helpful in guiding me through our homeschool adventure.

Step One | Identifying Goals

  • Instill a love for learning
  • Instill critical thinking skills
  • Become resourceful and independent for solutions
  • College Preparation

Step Two | Developing a Plan

  • Course Selection
  • Curriculum Selection
  • Scheduling

Step Three | Lord be near, we’re diving in

  • Staying on track
  • Keeping it fun

Step Four | Staying Sane

  • I have absolutely nothing to suggest here except a lot of coffee and Jesus.

I’ll admit I went a bit bonkers when I first started. I bit off more than I could chew. And I bit off more than I could possibly teach in a day, or a week, or in a year. And I hit a panic mode that made me question whether I was doing the right thing. I knew in my heart the “why”. I just didn’t know if I could find the right “how”. My super supportive husband asked me what my goals were. And then from there we developed “the homeschool mission statement”. And from there a plan unfolded.

I wish I could say that there is a one size fits all, but there isn’t. I wanted this super relaxed system, but I can’t do super relaxed. I didn’t want a box curriculum, but I’ll admit that I was kind of balking at the price. And that makes zero sense because I have most definitely spent more than a box curriculum. I went through a phase, of “OH, that looks awesome, I’m buying that” followed immediately by, “oh that looks great too, I’m buying it”. Let’s just say I think I’m set for years and years of homeschooling.

I needed to find a system that worked for ME. For Us. I researched and researched and researched. I wanted to see everyone else’s plans and methods. I took a little here there and everywhere. And I tried to use what worked for everyone else. But in the end, I did exactly what I didn’t think I wanted in the beginning. A schedule. Actual daily tasks. But, the whole do a little every day wasn’t going to work. It especially wasn’t going to work after the light load we did for four months while we were moving.

After ordering and exploring lots of different options I settled in to some that I knew would work. Since the year was split into two segments that we will call “before the great big move” and “after the great big move” things were kind of crazy. We took about 6 weeks off entirely and 6 weeks on a real light load with just reading and math. Once we got started up again it was easy to take stock of where we were and where we needed to be. I tried to do a loop schedule, but I found that I wasn’t holding myself nearly as accountable. I had avoided a scheduled task list at all costs, but in the end, that’s what works amazing for us. I don’t stress too much if I don’t make it through everything as I give myself a week between each term and a few thrown in catch up days. Also, we will finish our “year” nearly a full term early so if something needs to spill in to that session, that’s fine by me. And if we don’t spill over, the kids will start on the next year material six weeks early.


So after months and months of very little serenity (remodeling, house selling, moving, home buying) we are finally getting settled in our new home. While we were staying in a hotel we made a point to travel each weekend– what’s the difference between staying in a hotel in the city you’re moving to and staying in a hotel in a city nearby?

Our first destination was Monterrey, California. I have had the local aquarium on my bucket list for years. Years and years. This aquarium and the Boston Aquarium which I have yet to visit. But oh how Monterrey did not disappoint. The weather, the sites, the food, and of course the aquarium. Happy times. And I must admit, there is not much more serenity to be found than sitting on a beach at sunset.



The Serenity Circle is a collaborative blog project sharing our serene photographs with you each month. Please continue on the journey and visit the next blog to complete the circle.

Click HERE and check out the fabulous Iris Nelson and see what she found this month.

Motherhood Is…

A balance of telling your kids not to do something and laughing at your kids doing things that are highly inappropriate. Or a combination of both.

I used to be a really strict mom. I had a schedule that I did not veer from. I would never in a million years considered co-sleeping. Frankly, I was that mom that I would roll my eyes at now.

When my husband talks about his childhood he talks about his strict father, but when we go visit, I see the most gentle and tolerant man on the planet.

So what happens?

Uh. Life. Lack of sleep. Lack of will. Age. We get worn down. We have to pick our battles. We give up.

I have been parenting for 15.5 years. And I’m still having babies. Let me tell you, if there is anything worse than that phase of no sleep, tantrums, carseats, potty training it’s doing that while having teenagers. There better be a day when these children turn into grown human beings and all fight over who is going to take care of me in my old age. I mean, I want fist fights over this shit.

But, in the meantime, I’m just trying to raise semi decent humans. There is one feral one that I’m trying to domesticate. It’s not going so well. Between the pointing and yelling, “I DON’T LIKE YOU”, or the lovely biting. Well, 5/6 decent humans is still a pretty good turnout, right?

All images are film. A mix of Kodak Gold, Portra 400, HP5, and Fuji 400h


Motherhood Is… is a blog circle project celebrating motherhood through photographs. Please click through the links so you can see all the wonderful projects put together by this fantastic group of women!

Click to see Carri’s “Motherhood Is” blog HERE

Motherhood is being fierce. It’s standing up for what you believe. For making choices and decisions and standing by them.

I am in charge of living my life and raising my children (with my husband). Anyone have a problem with that? Fight me.

I’ve given in over and over again. And I’m just done. Put a fork in me, done. When I compromise my beliefs and values, it makes me less of a person and quite frankly, it makes me less of a mother. It takes emotional energy from me and hinders my abilities and mental faculties for that day, or two days, or week.

I am an adult. I answer to myself, my husband, and God. I am responsible to my children, the people I have brought into this world by my choices. They are counting on me and I do not want to let them down. I won’t let them down.

My word for 2017 is First.

So today I am putting me first, to put my children first. I’m putting on my oxygen mask first because, without it, we all go down.

And these amazing human beings are worth my everything.









Motherhood Is… is a blog circle project celebrating motherhood through photographs. Please click through the links so you can see all the wonderful projects put together by this fantastic group of women!

Click to see Gretchen’s “Motherhood Is” blog HERE

  • January 29, 2017 - 3:57 pm

    Gretchen - OH MA GAH!!! that Pippen Jane is so stinkin adorable.
    Love your words. Your kids are lucky to have you!ReplyCancel


This has been a growing trend here recently. “Saying no to say yes.” And though I started to put it into practice this year, I feel I just struck the surface with it.

What is saying no? 

It has been to become more comfortable with literally saying no.

It has been to remove the Facebook App off my phone.

It has been to take a step back from all networks and all screen time.

It has been to need, want, and buy less.

It has been to do less. Post less. Share less.

It has been to evaluate friend vs. acquaintance vs. dramatic time sucking asshole

It has been to stop looking over my shoulder.

It has been to come to terms with the depressing fact that our time here on Earth is limited. And to recognize that my time is most valuable and I want to shower those that I love with attention and affection.

But, though possible, I don’t think you can say no to everything. And the point of saying no is to say yes to what matters.

So what matters? 

My family. My husband. My children. My #1-#7s. My priorities. My reasons for living. My everything. This– is my focus. Every day in 2017 and every day after that. This.

My home. This is where I do all my living. And as I am packing everything into boxes I am trying to be very particular on what belongs. And I will be even more selective on what makes it into my next home. I have a feeling the Salvation Army may need to make more than one trip to my house.

My friends. It’s strange to see what happens when you’re a super giving person. People will just take and take. They cross boundaries and become entitled with their expectations. I cannot quantify how many people have put themselves above my family. I have six children, that’s about three times as many as most of my friends. And I shake my head thinking about the people who feel that I’ve let them down by having a family or a life that I put above them. I lost a long time friend a few years ago. She posted about having a friend that disappointed her so much she didn’t know how to explain it to her children. She posted that she was upset the friend wasn’t calling, or texting, or asking how her pregnancy was doing. I liked the FB post. It turns out– I was that friend. But was I? I did call. I did text. I did ask her every single week how her pregnancy was. Until I was knee deep in a move, getting 3 children enrolled in school, pregnant with my fifth child, and working 60 hours a week. What kind of friend was I? You’ve got to be kidding me. I did not marry this person. I did not knock up this person. I did not birth this person. But I had spent the better part of our friendship being an 80/20 friend. I did 80% of the work, and she did 20%. When I was no longer able to do 80, our friendship dissolved. That is a problem. And it’s not the first time (or the last time) I have discovered this type of friend in my life.

So, goodbye to 80/20 friends. My idea of friendship will look a little different in 2017.

My Photography. I have a gazillion photography related balls in the air at any given time and some of these I will be taking higher and some I will be dropping. Photography is my happy place. And it is something I have for me amidst being a wife, a mom, and someone living life at 1000 miles an hour. It is my slow down. It is my time freeze.

And lastly.

Quality. Quality time. Quality memories. Quality moments.  Quality Products. Quality choices. I could go on and on, but I think you get it.

So this brings me to my word of the year. A first for me. And okay, a little trendy and cliche, but, alas…


More on that to come.