#Weekend10: Happy Easter!

A few shots from our weekend. About half of these were taken by Annie. She likes to steal my camera these days. :)

The Easter bunny brought Game Stop cards, because what else do you get for a 15 year old boy. And jewelry-making supplies, which made for a fun and meditative kind of afternoon.

There's been so much going on. Maybe I'll get to the place where I can write more about it. For now, I've been dipping my toe back into this space which used to be so familiar. Things have evolved so much online, and so much in my life, too. Sometimes I want to say all the messy things. Then I safely hide behind pretty pictures. I'm still finding the balance. But also feeling that thing that happens when you stop "being inspired" and start moving again. When you stop assessing and agonizing over being "right" or "perfect". And suddenly it's possible to be creative again. To let something go, so other things can come to life. I'm feeling the symbolism of Easter today.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend too, friends. x

Weekend 10

Things have been a really crazy around here lately. This past year has been full of transitions. And transitions are filled with uncertainty (my favorite!). So the result is a lot of worrying. And my mind starts to yell at me, "Control the things! You must control all the things!" And I'm too ADD for meditating and my body was made with no muscle mass, so yoga is out (don't tell me to go I can't I mean it). So I've been trying to get back into the habit of picking up my camera. It's always been a way of wrangling my mind into focusing on what is actually happening around me, now. Versus the endless reel of what ifs and what thens and how abouts and if I'd onlys. And I miss writing, too. I miss the creativity and connection of this space. I miss doing things for no justifiable reason other than it's fun. So here I go again (just like Whitesnake).

Pretending with all her might that it is summer already.

I don't think they caught him, but it helped that there was a frog in the rocks that they could only get if they went in.

A meticulous audience.

A meticulous audience.

"Next time can you not feed her on my favorite hand towel?"

"Next time can you not feed her on my favorite hand towel?"

She'd rather hand wash. So we run out of dish soap pretty much every day.

She'd rather hand wash. So we run out of dish soap pretty much every day.

Early Sunday morning, getting perfectly lost in TED talks and blogs, some that I haven't read in years.

Early Sunday morning, getting perfectly lost in TED talks and blogs, some that I haven't read in years.

So a few months ago she told me she hid a Kermit doll behind a gas can (I must have said I wasn't going to buy it). She said she put it there because "no one ever buys gas like that". She was so excited when I told her we were going to eat breakfast there after her sleepover, because she could FINALLY rescue him... Only to realize that apparently people do buy gas like that. Darn it. :|

“There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & to say that it was good.” Brian Andreas. (One of my favorites)

Lately.

We didn't have travel plans for Thanksgiving this year. But as the day approached, I wanted it to feel like more than the five of us just eating a regular old dinner at our regular old house. So at the last minute we decided to mix it up for an easy trip up the road.

It was the perfect kind of gloominess, like the sky is giving you permission do nothing but eat and sleep and be lazy. 

Which was great since everything was closed except for the movies and restaurants, anyway.

Thumb wars.

Thumb wars.

A visit to the TX State History museum, while we waited for The Hunger Games (in the IMAX theater attached). They had lots of educational movies, but the kids said they didn't want to watch a "learning movie". (we are stellar parents)

Then we continued to eat all the rest of the food in Texas.

Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner.

And a few shots from this weekend. We finally got the decorations finished. Not pictured a 20 minute argument over a 6 foot string of garland (Who It Belonged To!!!), with A Very Merry Christmas playing in the background. Because of course it was.

I hope you are all surviving the madness this year.

Happy Sunday. -xo

Family session: San Antonio

Karen is my friend and ObGyn, which isn't as awkward as it sounds. I've been photographing her family for years. So it's always fun to catch up and see how everyone has grown. This time we met at Mi Tierra, a kitschy Mexican restaurant downtown that has been open since the 40's, and stays open 24 hours a day. There are lots of colorful walls around the area, and an all around fun San Antonio vibe.

Unless of course you are a teenager and your mom/photographer is making you wear a sombrero. Thanks for being a good sport Ben! :)

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I have three openings left if you need photos in time for Christmas. Which is only four weeks away holy cow let's get through Thanksgiving first. Email me if you want to schedule.

Happy Sunday! xo

#StepAwayFromTheScreen

Just some random pictures I took around the house today, when I needed a break from the computer. It gets to be too much sometimes. All of the things. And I'm trying to get back into the habit of grabbing my camera. So it was a good excuse to get outside and away from the keyboard, even if I felt a little silly doing it.

This fern is determined to live, poor thing. I am a terrible plant mom. Most of her friends look like this:

And this:

Flowers from friends, obviously on their way out but I thought they were still kind of pretty, overexposed.

Flowers from friends, obviously on their way out but I thought they were still kind of pretty, overexposed.

But the seedling that Emily brought home from her class in a dixie cup a few months ago has survived the odds. She's a little beanstalk, and we have done exactly nothing to help her along either.

It always kind of astounds me that flowers can turn into food.

And Miss Draga. She lives upstairs in the kid's playroom. Her favorite food is applesauce. And Annie can rock her to sleep by mimicking the sway of a tree branch. She has a little personality, which I never knew was possible for a reptile. Just don't ask me to touch her... that's going too far.

I felt like a ding dong wandering around my house taking pictures of nothing in particular. When there were a billion other Things that I Should have been Doing. But afterwards, it made me happy. It reminded me how much I miss creating things. And it reminded me of my sweet friend Laurie who started the amazing site, Step Away From The Screen. She is an inspiration, that one. I think part of making time for things like this, is getting over how clumsy you feel at first.

Happy Thursday. xo

Weekend 10 + A Bag Giveaway

It stormed all weekend which made me happy. It's like the sky is giving you permission to stay home, drink wine, read, and do nothing that requires getting out of pajamas.

I also needed to rest after completing the most daunting task of the century, which is to have a photograph not only printed (!), but also framed. In a frame you guys. That I purchased at the store for framing. My friend Kristen aptly deemed this a miracle. So you can imagine that I needed the whole weekend to recover from accomplishing the 8th Wonder of The World. 

Crappy iphone pic of the majesty that is a framed photograph.

Crappy iphone pic of the majesty that is a framed photograph.

But then I got kinda full of myself and decided to try to actually hang it up. On an actual wall. On a hook. In my home. And that's when I realized I'm not cut out for so much ambition. 

The messy hallway between my girls' bedrooms.

The messy hallway between my girls' bedrooms.

Notice The Framed Photo that is just propped against the wall? That is the story of my life. Because I am apparently allergic hammers and nails and commitment. What if I put the hole in the wrong spot! And I'm way too lazy for all that measuring nonsense. So shut up for suggesting that Pinterest. I am an overwhelmed victim here.

So that's when I decided to switch to stickers. 

Because who can mess up sticking crap onto a bucket? Well, apparently I am also an expert at messing up basic children's crafts. 

However if you ask me, it was false advertising. Those stickers should have come with a prominent warning stating, "These will not stick to your Pinterest dreams. Just give up and drink more wine."

So that's what I did. 

We also sat around eating fajitas and watching Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets. I think I was the only one out of 20 million people who hadn't watched them. But if you are the other person who never watches late night anymore, they are celebrities reading the mean tweets that they get from people, and it is hilarious.

The kids hung around being ragamuffins and working on crafts that were more successful than mine. 

If you're in the US, I hope you're enjoying the long Memorial Weekend. I'd love to see your Weekend 10 pics, and I thought it would be fun to give another bag away.

To enter to win the style of your choice:

- Post a comment on this post with the link to your Weekend 10, and use the hashtag #Weekend10 on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. 

AND/OR 

Enter using this form: 

Last day to enter is 12:00 noon, CST on Friday. And I'll announce the winner here by 5pm CST. 

Have fun! xo

**UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS Elizabeth Ollinkoski! We'll be in touch soon! Thank you to everyone else for your entries. Have a great weekend!**

Senior Portraits: Aly

This is cute Aly. Her mom is my friend Kristi, who happens to be one of my oldest friends in Texas. We met eleven years ago when our kids were in the same preschool class. And you know if you can survive Sesame Street On Ice together, you can pretty much survive anything.

I went through a really hard time when we first moved here, having three little ones under the age of five, not knowing many people, and being away from my family. The Flaningans became that to us. We spent Thanksgivings and Christmases together, and almost every weekend telling stories on one of our back porches. So much has happened over the last decade. They moved to Dallas, our kids are growing up. But no matter how much time or distance goes between us, Kristi will always be like a sister to me. She's the type of person who always hugs you a little tighter, and who seems like she's kind of made out of sunshine. And clearly the apples don't fall far from the tree.

The picture above is the only serious shot I got, and it lasted about two seconds before she burst into laughter again. So much fun to shoot, and such a sweetheart.

Sisters.

As a side note, if you're in the Dallas, Frisco or Plano area and need a real estate agent, call Kristi! She is really good and fun to work with.

GNO at The Arcade

I don't know if it's San Antonio, or just my friends, or maybe we're getting old. But we are all allergic to driving if it takes more than ten minutes to get somewhere. I have a very good book club friend moving Across Town. She will literally be twenty miles away, and I have to keep reminding myself that yes, it is still possible for me to see Christina again in this lifetime.

It sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud. But this is partly how I lost touch with my girlfriends before. And I don't want that to happen again. So I'm making an effort to venture past the ten mile corridor of my neighborhood. Because I love them. And also because I am exactly like Daniel Boone.

So we went to The Arcade, which is in a trendy part of town. You know the kind where they make chandeliers out of milk crates.

After dinner, we walked over to Il Sogno for one more drink, and opted to sit outside because the weather was so nice that it was worth getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. 

If you care about wine, they have a smarty pants Sommelier (yes, I just had to look up how to spell that). His name is Adam, and he will bring you all kinds of treats in a glass. I'm pretty sure that's the official term for what he does.

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But then if you're like us, he will realize that all of his hard-earned wine knowledge is being wasted on people who have never met a screw top they didn't like. And then being the gentleman that he is, he will still get you a citronella candle. Which did help actually.

All in all, a good night with great company. And happy birthday today Michelle! xo

Belated Happy Rainy Fourth of July

Sometimes success is about setting the bar low. For instance, if you see getting up out of bed in the morning as a personal triumph, then everything else you do is just overachieving. I mean, look at you... walking out to that mailbox, picking up that dry cleaning, eating that chicken salad sandwich with extra mayo... what are you some kind of prodigy?!

And that's how I see it with this blog... which let's face it, is now just a public scrapbook so that my Mom knows I'm still alive. So in the interest of low bar setting, I've decided to define success as posting photos of something that happened, while still in the actual month that it happened. Because I'm just a very hard worker like that.

So, Jason's sister and her family drove all the way from Tennessee to stay for the weekend. It was a great excuse to swim, and eat too much, and light things on fire.

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Do you guys know about these food tent things? They were like $5 a piece at World Market, and a million dollars worth of avenging satisfaction. Also, maybe I have officially gone over the suburban deep end.

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It stormed on our parade, so Jenny thought it would make a funny picture to have them all look upset.

But this is closer to how they really felt about it.

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I hope you are all enjoying summer! I have no idea how it's already almost August. It feels like Christmas will be here in five minutes.

MEXICO: Girl's Trip

I've said before that it took me a while to like Texas. When we moved from California I was adamant that we wouldn't stay beyond two years. Eleven years later, I can't imagine leaving. But having grown up in Hawaii and California, there are times when I really miss the beach, and am grateful this is just a 2 hour flight away. 

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I used to go to dinner every week with these sweet girls. Then I'm not sure what happened. Work took over, I moved across town. There are a million excuses, but the truest reason I think, is that I just got out of the habit. Because as much as we love to see friends, you know it takes a certain level of commitment (at least for me) to wash, blow-dry my hair, and find something in my closet that isn't made of spandex… (workout clothes are only for the gym?) Anyway, the more time that passed, the more awkward it felt to email them and say, "hey, remember me your lazy friend who has been MIA for years? Can you put me back on the email list?" And not doing that turned out to be a dumb waste of time. Because real friends want to see you whenever you can make it, regardless of whether your hair and makeup is done. 

And I realized this again when I got a message on Facebook that turned into a lunch with everyone which turned into us planning a girls' trip to Mexico. 

It was fun and relaxing and just like no time had even passed. And having been on a few girl's trips by now, these are the things I've learned about them.

1. Groups of 8 or less are easier when it comes to the spa or activities or dinner reservations. But either way, call in advance to schedule everything. You may or may not end up going, but at least you have the option.

2. Do your own thing. If she wants sushi and you want tacos, just meet up again later. There's no pressure to stay together and/or try to control what other people do.

3. Bring your own music to the pool. There are tons of portable speakers that hook up to your iPhone. I always thought this was rude, because I didn't want to bother other people. But outside, it's hard to hear past the immediate area. And it makes your trip more fun if you have the music you like. 

4. Bring a vacation friendly book. One year, I don't know what I was thinking, but I brought Sarah's Key, a historical fiction book about the holocaust. There I was, on the lounge chair with my friends, bawling. No bueno. 

5. Take a nap when you need one (and you know you will). I'm bad at this because I never want to miss out on anything. But I've learned that whatever small thing I miss, pales in comparison to that refreshed feeling of waking up in a hammock on the deck. 

6. Also, take a nap in a HAMMOCK. Why has no one ever filled me in on The Joy Of This? The only ones I ever laid in before are the kind with a big bar across the top. You know the ones that seem like they're going to dump you on the floor? This one was like a cocoon, which I know in itself doesn't conjure images of ecstasy. Maybe more accurate would be to say it was like cocoon where George Clooney was rocking you to sleep and singing you lullabies. And now I want a George Clooney cocoon for my house, and maybe to take the place of my bed. 

We stayed at the Villa Del Palmar, which is was nice. Decent food, clean rooms, nice pools, beach and bar, and inexpensive. In fact, the whole trip from Monday-Thursday was $800 (all-inclusive with airfare). 

Oh wait! My last and best tip: If you have lost touch with a friend who you miss, but so much time has passed that it feels awkward to call them, JUST CALL. Or email. Or Facebook them. Or whatever. It is so worth it. 

This is the only picture we have of all of us, taken with my iPhone. Does anyone know how to fix white-eye (not red-eye)? I have been googling for apps, it seems to be an issue with the iPhone. And I would like to make Judy not look like the devil. 

This is the only picture we have of all of us, taken with my iPhone. Does anyone know how to fix white-eye (not red-eye)? I have been googling for apps, it seems to be an issue with the iPhone. And I would like to make Judy not look like the devil. 

(love you Judy, Tina, Misha, Courtney, Joi and my new friend Jill) 

 

WEEKEND 10 + 10 Bag Giveaway!

I'm forever trying to make myself take more pictures of my family. I got to thinking, since I have more time on the weekends, maybe I'd just focus on that. And to make it more manageable, just give myself a goal of taking ten simple shots from Saturday and Sunday. Here's my first set. 

It's finally warm enough to sit outside in the mornings to have coffee. 

These are the miracle plants that I am proud of not murdering. Who knew they just needed water? 

I wouldn't say it's really warm enough to swim yet. But you know how kids are, smiling through the hypothermia, "I'm not cold!"

What did you do this weekend? If you want to play along with me on Mondays, just post a link to your ten images in the comments or hashtag #Weekend10 online. 

And to make it more fun, I thought I'd also give away ten Epiphanie bags. Over the years, they kind of stack up around my house. I might need a sample or have one produced that doesn't go into production. As a result, I have a closet full of new bags that I'm always pushing on my friends or donating. But I think it would be fun to give them to you! Some of them are colors that have never been produced, so if you win, you'd truly have a one of a kind bag. 

It's hard to see my shirt, but it's from very talented Miss Farrah Braniff. Check sells lots of cute photography related things, and just came out with a fantastic book about how to photograph your children. 

It's hard to see my shirt, but it's from very talented Miss Farrah Braniff. Check sells lots of cute photography related things, and just came out with a fantastic book about how to photograph your children

There are two ways to enter: 

1. Follow me on Instagram using the form below.

OR

2. Post a link to your Weekend 10 in the comments below. If you didn't take any photos this weekend, post a link to 10 images from any weekend. Don't forget to include your email so we can contact you! 

*Note: Entrants linking in the comments will be added separately, so don't worry about using the form below if you don't have Instagram

*Bonus Entry: Follow me on Twitter using the form below.

Ten winners will be chosen at random by noon on Friday, and announced here by 5pm CST. If you're curious, the bags I'm giving away are: Caramel and Slate Blue Ginger, Turquoise and Red Clover, Mustard Lyric, Fuchsia Belle, Chevron Charlotte, Caramel Lola, Turquoise and Teal Sydney. We'll take bag choices in the order emails are received. 

Have fun!


Sorry, we posted the winners on Daily Epiphanie, and I forgot to link to it from here. You can find all the winners on THIS POST. Thanks for playing everyone! If you're one of the lucky ones, you should have received an email. Or you can email support(at)epiphaniebags(dot)com.

I still have a bunch of bags in my closet, so I'll do this again sometime soon. And I'll be posting the Weekend10 here every Monday. Would love for you to come back and share links to yours too!   xo



Stanley Bay and I swear the last Hong Kong photos that I will inflict on you.

Stanley Bay was almost the last destination on the tour. We liked it enough that we just decided to stay. It was a nice break after being confined to cities for the whole week. Fun people watching, and probably my favorite part of the trip. Partly because who really needs more than a glass of wine and a view of the sea. And also because it was our last night after ten days, and I was ready to be home with the kids. Even though they were having the time of their lives with Grammy The Incredible who flew in from Kentucky to be with them. Don't know what we would have done without her. 

This Superkid volunteered to play, and a huge audience formed around him as he killed it on Stairway to Heaven and Sweet Home Alabama (which I will admit was surreal listening to, so far away from Alabama). I also realized, after seeing the group of teenage girls collect and swoon around him, that teaching your kid to play the guitar might be the most generous thing you can do for his future dating life. Or most dangerous… you pick. 

This is where we had dinner, and I'm sure overjoyed the waitstaff by the four hours we spent in one of their best seats on the upper deck. Damn tourists

I'm not sure, but I think Jason is posing for a Riunite commercial. Do you guys remember them? That's pure goodness, right there.

Great, that Riunite song is stuck in my head. And now I want to have a Riunite theme party.  

Hong Kong: Aberdeen Harbour

We started at Victoria Peak and the Stubbs Rd Lookout, which are supposed to have views that look like this and this. That day it looked like this.

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Which I think this is the norm, because the guide had clear-day photos with her to show everyone. Still pretty none the less. 

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Bamboo graffiti

Bamboo graffiti

They are serious about this… $200 USD fine if you do. 

They are serious about this… $200 USD fine if you do. 

After that, we went to Aberdeen Harbour and took a ride on a sampan. There was lots to see, including this Floating Restaurant, which has a pretty interesting history behind it. 

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Happy Tuesday! :)

Australia: Bondi Beach

One day, while Karen was visiting with her friend who lives in Sydney, I decided to grab a cab and venture out by myself to Bondi Beach to take pictures and smell the salt.

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A little ironic, given that we were there checking things off our Life List with Go Mighty.

A little ironic, given that we were there checking things off our Life List with Go Mighty.

And I know there is something inherently wrong with wifi at the beach. But WIFI. at the BEACH.

And I know there is something inherently wrong with wifi at the beach. But WIFI. at the BEACH.

Plus wine and a burger… it was the perfect little day. 

Plus wine and a burger… it was the perfect little day.