Make My Book and Capture Memories Forever

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I confess that gift giving is hard for me.

It’s not that I don’t have the spirit, and it’s not that I don’t have the heart in it, but the problem is I need gifts to be too perfect. And since I’m more of a big picture girl, instead of being able to see and and carry out tasks in small, manageable chunks, I tend to get overwhelmed and paralyzed by Gift Giving Fear. Sometimes? I give something that doesn’t match my heart and thoughts. Sometimes? I give up completely. NOT good! I want to be someone who wears her heart on her sleeve.

And I want my gifts to reflect that.

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As many of you know, my life travel dream was to go to Alaska. Cassidy and I went there on a belated honeymoon in August. We had never had a honeymoon because of money and timing and having Scarlet fairly soon after we were married. This was my ultimate travel dream – my ultimate adventure. Although there were rocky times and overcast weather, the memories are still so strong. I hope they always remain that way. And if they don’t, we have the option to make beautiful photo books.

Looking for a perfect gift for ANY occasion? #Shutterfly has the Make My Book Service and it's easy, time-effective, and gorgeous for your #photography. #ad

The Make My Book Service at Shutterfly is affordable and so easy to use!

Looking for a perfect gift for ANY occasion? #Shutterfly has the Make My Book Service and it's easy, time-effective, and gorgeous for your #photography. #ad

This is THE solution you’re looking for – to think of the perfect gift for loved ones, and to get gorgeous photo books designed and created with ease at your own computer. When I used to shoot film, I’d keep my photos in boxes and albums.

These days, custom photo books are the perfect gift.

This year for Valentine’s Day, I made Cassidy a custom photo book of highlights from our trip to Alaska. I want our kids to see what we did and to dream about their own adventures – perhaps even taking such dreamy adventures WITH us someday.

The book arrived – so beautiful and well-printed. You KNOW I notice this stuff after 15 years as a photographer.

What do you think he thinks as he looks at this book?

I think he sees adventure and love. And a whole lot of living.

I feel so lucky to have this book, but also to have found the perfect gift for loved ones! It’s easy, customizable, meaningful, and a good gift for ANYONE, including yourself. That’s right – you can make yourself a photo book easily! This is big. This is the best way to capture memories, and I know not everyone chose photography as a career like I have, but everyone has photos they love. Everyone has occasions to celebrate and remember. What photos will you choose? What will your story say?

Have you been thinking of getting photo books beautifully designed just for you? Let Shutterfly help you choose your photos and help you design your book. Check out the Make My Book Service and see what it can do for you!

We Are Teaching Peace

Yesterday was Scarlet’s 100th day of school, give or take.

I'm linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is

I say “give or take” because there were some sick days, some snow days, and certainly some days we were at Disney World instead! You get the point, though. Look at how far we’ve come! Scarlet had to collect 100 pieces of something to bring to school. Two years ago it was stickers. Last year it was LEGO pieces. This year? She counted out 100 Shopkins. Naturally.

Two years ago on the 100th day of school, the kindergarten classes marched around the school like a parade. Unlike with second grade, in kindergarten we were often invited to partake in the celebrations and festivities in the school.

“Scarlet’s school celebrated their 100th day of school earlier today with a parade. Scarlet celebrated her 100th day of kindergarten with a snazzy vest decorated with 100 stickers at home, and with a snazzy crown she made at school.”

The then and now contrast actually astounds me! It makes me grateful that Des is still a full year younger than that little glowing nugget I love so much in the above photos. If you really want to squeal? Her grandmother took this video two years ago. It’s been on my mind because I remembered it being around this time of year, and sure enough, it was exactly that.

I know it’s not the best quality, but LOOK AT HER FACE AT THE END.

I showed the video to Cassidy last night, after digging it up because it was on my mind, and we both knew I wasn’t going to rest until I found it. We were both stunned into silence and he rested his chin (or his hand?) on my head. We were gripped.

Yesterday she asked me, “Why don’t the other kids say thank you to the lunch ladies?” I had no immediate answer because I wanted to blame the parents, but sometimes we can all (definitely me included) be oblivious. There are so many things to juggle at once. She said she always does and it makes them so happy. I, of course, wanted to credit my own awesomeness, but she said it was her kindergarten teacher Mrs. L., who said to the kids, “They work SO HARD. Always thank them. Always.”

We are teaching peace by what we do and what we say.

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And boy, do I need reminders as much as anyone!

I feel peace from her pitch and her tone, from Des’ infectious smile, from Cassidy’s strong hands, from Juniper’s steady purr, and from following a confident Athena onto every path and into every forest. It’s all the places I’ve gone, and all the places I’ll go. It’s a voice on the phone, a finished batch of edited photos, a published blog post, my words forever entombed in a book, and photographs on the walls. It’s a milky bath, in between the pages of a book, a panic button, or just knowing you have the option to use one. Rarely, do you actually push the button. It’s nice to know it’s always there should you need it.

I'm linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is

I find peace when I truly let go – the difference between holding on too tightly, trying to control every twist and turn, and hating the whole thing until it’s over, or giving in to the almost-dizzying, almost-sickening, head-spinning, stomach-flipping MADNESS that is the roller coaster itself, and also the roller coaster metaphor for life. And then maybe going for round 2?

SPOILER. I did it! For real, and for metaphor. And yes, we are going to actually pay for these photos..


I actually wrote this next bit for yet another FTSF prompt, at another time, but it rings true:

The thing is, if I could teach the world one thing, I’d be teaching it to myself too. Even more. Teachers aren’t just teaching – they’re learning as they go. We all teach each other, and we all learn. It never actually stops. Shouldn’t stop.

It gets both closer, and further away.


teaching peace


What I’d like to teach the world is hope. Finding your way out, up, safe. Sometimes things seem so murky but your brain and heart are always trying to find their way out, up, safe. We’re self-healing machines, inside and out. Remember that.

finish the sentence friday

The weather will get better. Winter ends, unless that’s your thing, in which case I’ll tell you that summer ends too. We are all pushing through the murky messes of personal, national, and global politics, traumas, and confusion. It’s overwhelming.


If I could teach the world one more thing, it would be peace. Inner and outer. I would teach it to myself, to be able to teach it to others. I have in no way broken the mold on this. I can feel restlessness and irritation settling into my bones sometimes. And this is me. Mostly hopeful, sunshiney, cookies-eating, me. What’s it like for people being dealt harder blows, or with less mental equipment to find their ways out, up, safe? Maybe that where hope comes in. Hope for peace. Peace for hope.

peace on earth

I’d like to teach the world to let yourself get overcome. Don’t push it down, only to have it explode back up. Push it back, push it down, whatever you need to do in a world in which we’re sometimes screaming from the inside out, or outside in, and you can’t be as hungry, in love, roaring sad, sexual, strong, or whatever else it is that your true, wild, dream self is. Take it out and put it in your hands. Hold it in your arms. Honor it. Keep it alive, and send it spinning through our world. We need it.

What will you do and say?


This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “I feel peace from…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.