Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cardstore.com! {a review}

I was recently contacted by Cardstore.com, and asked if i would like to receive a free coupon code for a photo card, in exchange for a review.

I have to tell you... I get these kinds of emails very often, and i almost always delete them. It's almost always something I really could care less about. Or it sounds like it came from a robot. So, no thanks!

But Emma with Cardstore talked like a real person. :) And, um... excuse me... did you say, CARDSTORE.com?!?! As in a CARD STORE?! See, i love cards. I have always been a bit obsessed with cards. I still send snail mail... often! I love cards. LOVE THEM.


I've seen a few other bloggers review cards from cardstore.com before, and thought it looked like a cool site, but not necessarily better than Shutterfly or any other site like that.

Well, I have to tell you... I was VERY impressed with cardstore!!! :)


The ordering process was very simple, and their website is really cute (which is important, you know). I would give you screenshots, but i forgot to actually take screenshots. But I am pretty sure you can figure it out without them!

But y'all. My cards. They came out GREAT! I am thrilled with them. I love them!

I couldn't decide which pic of mine to use, so i ended up doing two of them. I did a rectangle postcard type card of my picture from downtown. It came out so crisp!
 

 I chose the option where you can put a little something on the back. :)


For another card, I used the pic I took of a hydrangea at LSU's Hilltop Arboretum. The colors are so vibrant! I love it.



And i put it on the back, too!


I have to tell you that one thing i was VERY happy about is the type of paper it is printed on. I hate how cards I have ordered in the past, from other places, have that shiny kind of paper where your ink smears??? You know the kind I mean? I have cards from similar sites that I have never used, because I can't find a pen that will write on it without smearing or looking bad! But this paper??? Perfect!!!!


Another thing I should mention... on the same day i ordered these cards, I also ordered a few prints from mpix, and a few prints from Shutterfly. I didn't use special shipping on any of them. Just regular shipping. My cardstore cards came in first, then mpix, then Shutterfly. So, there's that, too. Fast shipping. :)

And there you have it! My review of photo cards from Cardstore.com!! Check them out! :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hope.

I want to say thank you to all of you who have prayed for me during this season of infertility. And that's what it is: a season. It will not be forever. One day, I will get a big fat positive on a pregnancy test. One day, I will become a mom.

Obviously that is a far cry from the tune i was singing just last weekend, when i cried to all of you about how much infertility hurts, and how i am so scared that i will not get to be a mother. My one lifelong dream. And if i let it - if i let my thoughts go that direction again - I will start to fear that again. In fact, infertility puts you on an emotional roller coaster, so i can pretty much guarantee that I will! But for right now I am believing that I WILL one day get the privilege and honor of being someone's mom.

As I mentioned to you all then, I had picked up the book Baby Hunger to read through a second time. I needed help. I needed to be reminded that God is a god of miracles. I needed to be reminded that God is not limited by my crazy cycles or my weight or my insulin resistance. That is not to say that I shouldn't lose weight, but I am just saying... he is not limited by any of those things. He isn't. With God, nothing is impossible.

And i guess i always knew that. But before, i knew he COULD allow me to conceive. I just didn't know if he WOULD. And now i believe that He will. I really do.

There is one thing that Baby Hunger said, that really got me. And you know, this was my second time reading it. But it really struck me this time. It said something like, "Always remember, you have a choice in this infertility story. You can allow it to cause you to run away from God. Or you can run TO Him. Straight into His arms." I guess when I read that I realized something. While I don't think I was running away from God, I certainly wasn't running TO Him. I mean, how does one do that? Especially when you know He could give you your miracle if only He would. Well, when i read that, I decided right then that i would run TO God. How can i possibly think I can make it through this without Him?

It is strange to me that God would use my infertility to bring me closer to Him. I mean, this isn't a pain that comes from some guy or from a mean girl or from an abusive parent. This is a pain you can't blame on anything but life. And those kinds of things you kind of WANT to blame on God... I mean who else could be responsible?! He could answer my prayers if He wanted to, but He won't! And why not? So it would be easy to blame Him. I have been angry with Him about it before, and I don't mind saying it. It is natural to be angry with God when it comes to things like this. And He can take my anger. I even believe He understands my anger.

Anyway, in deciding to draw closer to God, I bought a worship cd. I mean, that makes sense, right? :) I ordered Christy Nockels' cd, Into the Glorious. For one thing, I've heard a song of hers and loved it. For another, I had a new car, which requires new music. (Somehow, in my mind, it does.) I am quickly falling in love with each song. And i am finding myself worshiping my Father in the car on my way to and from work. And other times too. Random times, like during this post, I have had to stop and listen to one of the songs several times. Tears stream down my face (both now, and in my car!) because my heart is FULL of the reminder of how faithful and good God is. It's so crazy, because I am almost overwhelmed with his love right now. Even through this infertility battle.

Anyway, one of the songs I am in love with is called "Wonderful". And there is a part that goes like this,

And my life will burn for You
Cause your light shined in the darkness
I was hopeless, but you lifted up my head
To sing for joy
I will sing
With a song that breaks the silence of my worship
Now I'm singing all the day
And forevermore, You will be adored
Because you are wonderful

And i realized... hm... that sounds familiar. Sounds like a Bible Verse I used to know. A Bible Verse that goes like this,

Psalm 30:11-12
For you turned my wailing into dancing, 
You removed my sackcloth and covered me with joy, 
That my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
Oh, Lord, my God, i will give you thanks forever.


Do you see the comparison? About God turning your sorrow into joy which brings about such a change that all you want to do is sing His praises, forever and ever?!

If you've read here for awhile now, you may remember me mentioning that verse before. It is what I call "my testimony verse". When i was a teenager, and even into my early twenties, i had a really tough time at home. There was a lot of emotional/verbal abuse going on, and it was very very difficult. I cried a lot, i was very very depressed, i hated myself (when you are called stupid, you tend to believe you are stupid. etc.). And i remember that at some point, God really began to do a work in my life. He healed me. He spoke to me. He loved on me. And one day I found that verse and realized that is what God had done for me. He had done SUCH a miracle in my life, changing me completely inside out from a depressed and broken person to someone FULL of the joy of the Lord.

I never forgot that verse; I still refer to it as my testimony verse. But I don't think I ever thought of it as something God would do for me AGAIN! I just thought of it as my testimony, as in, past tense. Only, when that song made me think of it, I felt like God was saying He was going to do that again in my life. That the same God who turned my sadness into joy about 15 years ago, could do it again in my mid-thirties, as I face infertility. He can & He will. He wants to.

So if you are wondering if your prayers are being answered, they are. Maybe I am not pregnant yet, but I am feeling a joy and a peace that i have not felt in a very long time. So thank you. And I hope you know that this entire post doesn't just relate to infertility. Whatever you are going through - just remember times in the past where God has shown himself faithful. He will do it again. He loves you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Emmy Rose is ONE! {photography}

Remember Mallory, the girl I did headshots for awhile back? Well, she asked me to take 1-year pics for her daughter, Emmy Rose. I met them at the park last weekend & we got to work! I got a few pics of Emmy with family, like this one with her mom...


But once we put her down to get shots of her alone... well... she just wasn't having it!

 Oh, dear... 

This one makes my heart break. And she's not even mine!

 After some time, we gave up and i told Mallory if i didn't have any birthday invitation worthy pics, I would come by her house during the week for a retake session. That is what we ended up doing, and i am really happy with how the retakes came out!! Little Emmy was in a perfectly good mood... maybe she's just not a morning person! :)








Happy Birthday, Emmy Rose! :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

This weekend, I...


This weekend, I enjoyed dinner with my love at Bistro Byronz. Love that place. 

 He's so cute. :) 


    It actually was not 110 degrees! It felt nice. We sat outside on the patio! 
This is just unheard of in July! 


This weekend, I went to a performance of Les Miserables at Theatre Baton Rouge, the community theater i am involved with (formerly Baton Rouge Little Theater). It was my second time to see it, my hubby's first. Once again, it was PHENOMINAL! I just am amazed! And kind of sad it's over. 


This weekend, I got my car washed! I still am in love with my new car. I think i wanna marry it. :) It's just so pretty. And i didn't take care of my other car, but this one i AM! And that means regular washings! Fievel was with me when i got the car washed. He was kind of perplexed. 

 He looks so skinny... he's really not that skinny! Ha! But this is right after his haircut. :)

This weekend, I got a much needed haircut! I went to see Erika, one of my Aveda graduates, at the new salon where she is working! Love my haircut! Loved visiting with her. So proud of her for sticking it out at Aveda and graduating and passing her stateboard exam! Woohoo! 

  
This weekend, I went to church. 


I love singing on our praise & worship team!


 Hubby & I got a little silly while waiting for service to start. :)

And then we took this one - having no idea anyone was behind us! Haha! That would be Andy, our youth pastor, coming to ask Brad something. I didn't even see him pop his face there (we were using my phone, and the screen was facing us!!)! I went to post the pic & was shocked to see another face! Ha! Andy is hilarious.

This weekend, I relaxed and chilled out watching back to back episodes of "The Secret Life of the American Teenager"... still can't believe i am watching this show!!

How was your weekend?!


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thoughts on Infertility

I don't know if i can express my thoughts on this topic in a way that anyone will understand. But I'm going to try.

Infertility is by far the worst and hardest thing I have ever been through... and I haven't even started fertility treatments yet!

Infertility sucks. Bad.

There are days my heart literally feels like someone is squeezing the life out of it. It feels like a punch in the gut would feel... except in my heart. Although sometimes i feel it in my gut, too.

It is the deepest of aches.

It is not just a sadness. It is GRIEF.

I can remember before getting married, so before we started trying to conceive, thinking about women who had trouble getting pregnant. And thinking, "Gosh, that must be so hard." And that's really all I thought about it.

I HAD NO IDEA.

I sometimes think, as a way to describe it to someone who had no trouble getting pregnant, of saying, "Think of the beautiful kids you have now. How much joy they bring to your life. Now wipe them out of your mind. You do not have them. You never conceived them. You are still trying to get pregnant for the first time. How would that feel? And how would it feel, that no matter what you do, no matter how many times you have sex on the right days, you still do not get pregnant. And you still do not have the wonderful little family that you have. How would that feel? Now multiply that pain times about 100."

It just hurts SO BAD.

I don't talk about this much in life. I only have email conversations about it with friends going through the same thing and one or two people who are not going through the same thing. Sometimes i feel like we are so alone in this. Sometimes I want certain people to know, people who would pray with us and help us. But the more people who know, the more chances of people saying the wrong things... and the wrong things being said are painful to deal with. (If you are unsure of what is not nice to say to someone dealing with infertility, read this. I feel like it is a pretty comprehensive list!) Those things are hurtful and they don't make the burden of not being able to conceive any lighter. I also am afraid of being misunderstood. Although if someone asks if we want to have kids, i do not lie. I tell them yes, and that we have been trying for quite awhile now. But mostly the only people that ask now are people i don't know well, people just making small talk.

I have wanted children my whole life. I was the kid who played with dolls, I even got made fun of for still playing with dolls in fourth grade, when the cool kids in our class were playing with makeup. (Yes, in fourth grade!) I got so jealous of my sister when she got to babysit before I did, because i wasn't old enough yet. And the day my dad came home and told me his coworker, who lived in our neighborhood, needed a babysitter and wanted to meet me, you would have thought he told me he was buying me a car. From then on, i babysat ALL the time. I would miss doing things normal teens did because i was always babysitting. The kids loved me. The parents loved me. I could get kids to obey me when the parents could not. I loved kids and couldn't wait to have them. I taught preschool, i worked in daycare, and then i was a nanny for several years. It was the best job. I was in my twenties by this time, with no groom in sight. But i couldn't wait to get married and have kids.

I finally got married at 30, and though i did want a little time with my hubby before having a kid join us, i knew i couldn't wait TOO long at my age. I thought 33 would be a good time to start trying. And so we did. And, nothing. We finally figured out something was wrong and I went to my doctor. And here it is... over 2 years later since we started trying... and I am still not pregnant.

I have had seasons of doing exceptionally well with this, and then seasons of NOT doing so well. This season, unfortunately, is in the "not so well" group. I have good days and bad days.

Life with my hubby is still the best thing ever, he is my best friend and we have so much fun together! Everything about my life is good and blessed, except the fact that we do not have kids. It sucks and it hurts so bad, i sometimes think my heart is literally breaking in half.

I should tell you that while i do not hate anyone who is pregnant or who has young kids, i have DEFINITELY struggled with jealousy. And anger. I told my husband once that I have spent more time angry and jealous in the last few months than in my whole life. I am afraid that is not an exaggeration. I was never an angry or jealous person before. But now i am. Because everyone, even people who didn't WANT to be a mom, can have sex and get pregnant just like that. Except me. (And others i know also going through this. But sometimes it feels like it's just you.)

I  know i have blogged about this before, but rarely. I have struggled with making that what this blog is about. My friends who blog their infertility stories are of great help to me, so i know i should blog it. I just never did for awhile, because i thought i would get pregnant and then this nightmare would be over! I thought i didn't need to blog about it because it wouldn't last this long. But, here i am. 2 years later. And then some. I might as well write about it. I NEED to write about it.

I do have to tell any of you that are going through this or that know someone that is going through this... Baby Hunger, by Beth Forbus, is SUCH an amazing book. I just read it for the second time. It is a deeper look at several women in the Bible who also went through this. And back then they didn't have IVF or IUI's or clomid or charting or ovulation predictor kits. They didn't have tests even to know what was wrong! And also back then they were EXPECTED to have babies... EXPECTED. As in, if they couldn't get pregnant, their husbands could kick them out! It was perfectly acceptable for them to do that. Not only did they have to get pregnant but they had to have a boy. It was serious business. I cannot imagine going through this back then. This is bad, but that would have been worse. So don't think for a minute that these women of the Bible would not understand our pain.

One thing I keep reminding myself... all of these women from the Bible eventually did conceive and have a child. (And not just any child! Isaac! Samuel! Samson!)

So I am praying and believing that our miracle will come. Soon. Please pray for me too. And thank you, to those of you who have let me vent, who have prayed for me, who have known about this and truly cared. You are the best.

The book, Baby Hunger, also reminded me that i can choose to draw nearer to God during this season or run from him. I think for awhile there i was... well, I wouldn't say i was running from him, but i definitely wasn't talking to Him. But now i am running to him. He is my only hope. He is my answer. I recently got the Christy Nockles cd. This song stays on repeat. I love it.

Loves & Hates {a random list}

 These are in no particular order. Just random as they come to my mind.

 LOVES: 
Les Miserables
Theatre Baton Rouge
Christy Nockles
My new car!
Photography
Coffee
Lazy days
My hubby
My doggie
Good friends
My coworker, Frankie
Nice people
good customer service
When i do well with eating healthy
photographers that encourage me in my photography 
my iphone
Instagram
weekends

Love/Hate
Facebook.
The show, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" - i don't know what possessed me to start watching this, but now i can't stop. I do not like the lead character, Amy. She started off sweet but is now VERY unlikeable. Sometimes, i want to reach through the screen and slap her! (Yes, I know it is fiction!)

 HATES: 
Racism
Jealousy
phone solicitors
That i cannot find a zumba class at the right time/location for the life of me! 
When i do not do well with eating healthy!
Teen sex...  it's stupid. They're too young. The end.
That healthy food is not as convenient on the run as bad food is
Bugs... especially the flying stinging kind
Humidity
Infertility
Infertility
Infertility

This is the most boring post ever, right? I just don't feel like posting a real post. And yet i want to. Maybe i don't feel like typing much? Ha. Who knows. Anyway. I hope you all had a great weekend. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Amber's Maternity Session {photography}

I recently did a photo shoot for my friends, Tim & Amber. She is expecting their first child in August, and then, guess what!? They are moving to London! Tim was accepted into a master's theatre program there; he is a great actor/director.  So about a month after Baby Autumn comes, they will be moving to another country! Geez.

A photographer friend of mine always has gorgeous backgrounds for her pictures. I asked where she takes them, and she said the gardens by the state capitol downtown. Crazy! I never go to that part of downtown when i do photo shoots out there! Who knows why. In fact, i hadn't been to that area in years! I was thrilled when Amber suggested doing her photos there. It made a beautiful spot for this maternity shoot. And i have scheduled an engagement session there for late August!

This ended up being one of my favorite shoots. Amber was a beautiful model for me, Tim is hilarious, everything went smoothly. Enjoy!




Awesome crop job by Laura. :) I cannot take the credit!


 


 



 


Congrats, Tim & Amber! :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

This weekend, I... {bought a car!!!}

Wow. What a weekend! I am excited to tell you that i got a car, finally! And i am super excited about it! My Saturday was INSANE, as i knew it would be. I knew we would be car shopping soon, but hubby (who was figuring out all the financial stuff for it) wouldn't tell me WHEN we could go. So i went ahead & planned things. Like a photo shoot Saturday morning, and a baby shower for a dear friend the same evening. When he said this Saturday was the day, i didn't hesitate. Would be a long day, but NO WAY was i putting off car shopping another weekend! I have BEEN READY for this!

ANYWAY. Here we go!

This weekend, I headed to the nearest park for my friend, Mallory's daughter Emmy's 1 year photo shoot. Emmy is adorable, but wasn't really in the mood. The shoot mostly went just like this...

Um. Yeah. We are going to try again Tuesday. Pray she is a little more photo-ready!? :)

This weekend, after the photo shoot, I said goodbye to my 1997 Chevy Blazer, which I have been driving for almost 10 years.


This weekend, I - along with my husband & father-in-law - got to drive on the new Central Thruway to head to the car dealerships. Y'all. I know this means NOTHING to you. But they have been working on this new road since, like, forever. Basically you used to have to drive around the world to get to what you KNEW would be a very short minute drive - if ONLY there was a ROAD there. Well, they have put a road there. It now takes 5 minutes to get to O'Neal Lane, when it used to take at LEAST 20 minutes. YAY! And even though we don't live in Central, it is still affecting us in a good way. And one day we do hope to live there. I am so excited! I love it! 

And the drive is so beautiful. It's all trees and hilly green pastures. LOVE. But i am sure it will be developed at some point. Which is both sad & exciting. ANYWAY. Enough rambling about something that means nothing to you, but yay! Such great news for a lot of people on this side of Baton Rouge!

This weekend, I BOUGHT A NEW CAR!!! It's a 2010 Toyota Camry.

 
I wanted a Camry, but didn't know if i would be able to get one. But that's what we got! It's beautiful. EVERYTHING about this process just fell into place, it was just easy! Thank you, LORD! I am so thankful to Him, honestly! And yay for a car that, you know, has a working gas gauge, has a lever to open the trunk & hood (mine on the blazer didn't work. The lever for the hood was rigged with a wrench, and you had to actually climb through the car to push out the back window for that to open!). Yay for windows that don't leak, a temperature knob that actually TURNS, and lights that stay on when you turn them on. Yay for a rear view mirror. So many other things, y'all. Basically, everything WORKS on this vehicle. AND it's pretty. I love it!!!!


This weekend, after the car purchase, my husband, his dad, & i met his mom and my parents at FIVE GUYS to celebrate. EVERYTHING is celebrated with food, isn't it? That isn't good. But that's another post! 

This weekend, I helped to host my long-time best friend, Sarah's baby shower. She is having her 4th kid, and her 1st boy, very soon. (She is due the 31st but he has been threatening to come early!)


This weekend, I went to church & felt like God really spoke to my heart about something I have been going through for too long now. Infertility. I have been in a LOT of pain about this lately, and sometimes I don't even know how i am going to make it another day. It is just unbearable at times. But i felt like God really met me where i am today, whispering to me that he is working in this situation. I hope to blog more about this soon. But please pray for me if you think about it!

This weekend, i was THRILLED to see my good friend, Amanda, and her family at my church!! They are moving back from California & I am SO excited!!! They have bought a house while here, and they go back home Tuesday. Then they return to us in August - FOREVER! YAY! I am thrilled. Love you, Amanda, if you're reading this! :)

This weekend, I bought a cd on Amazon, and discovered Amazon Cloud Player. Um, i love it. It makes me happy. Am i the only one? Basically you buy a cd & automatically get the downloadable version of the songs. And you can go ahead & download them to your itunes, computer, iphone, whatever! Awesome! :)

Um, hmm. I think that is it for this weekend?! Let's hope! This upcoming week contains a re-shoot for Emmy, a headshot session for a theater friend of mine, and a date night with my love! Along with the usual 40 hour work week...except i get to go in my new car! Yipee!

Have a great week, everyone!  


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Broiled Tilapia & Oven-baked Broccoli

It has really been ages since I have posted a recipe. If you check out my recipe section, you will find lots of casseroles and desserts and other not-so-healthy recipes. Then i began to really try to eat low-sugar/low-carb, and so the dessert recipes stopped. And then i started doing Ideal Protein, and even though your dinners can and should consist of meat & veggies, I still wasn't cooking! 

That diet has gotten boring and near impossible to follow - mainly because I am not trying new things or keeping the fridge stocked with yummy vegetables to eat! I finally started pinning some new healthy recipes to try.  I miss cooking! And I am sure my poor hubby misses me cooking, too!

This Parmesan Broiled Tilapia was SO easy & took almost no time to make! As far as the broccoli, we usually just steam ours. But I went to a friend's house a few months ago & she baked hers in the oven, and it was DELISH! Here is how to do it that way if you are up for something different.

You will need to do the broccoli first, take it out of the oven, and then turn the dial to broil for the tilapia. You can prepare your tilapia mixture while the broccoli is in the oven. The tilapia takes almost no time to make, so your broccoli won't get cold while you wait on the fish to cook! :)

This has to be the easiest quickest meal EVER. I will definitely be trying it again!

PARMESAN BROILED TILAPIA 
pin | original recipe

4 tilapia fillets (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons of mayo (i think you could also use greek yogurt or sour cream)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh dill (i didn't have this so i improvised with a lemon pepper seasoning)
pepper to taste

1.) Turn your oven on to broil.

2.) In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except tilapia. 

3.) Place fillets on a foil-lined pan.


4.) Broil tilapia for three minutes.

5.) Remove from the oven, flip over, and spread the parmesan mixture over the uncooked sides of the tilapia fillets.




6.) Return to the oven & broil again for 3-4 minutes, making sure not to overcook the fish.

OVEN-BAKED BROCCOLI
from my friend Ashley :)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt (best if you use kosher or sea salt!)
Pepper
Fresh broccoli florets

1.) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2.)  Toss broccoli with olive oil, salt & pepper


3.) Place broccoli on foil-lined baking sheet.



4.) Bake for about 12 minutes.




And that's it! So yummy! (Sorry... the fish was very tender, and not very photogenic! Although if you look at the original recipe, you will find a much prettier picture!)