The One In Which Honesty Is An Understatement..

..however, as I told Stevie from Joy in The Midst Of, “You’re making me get deeply honest here, but not uncomfortably honest.”

I’m paired with the radiant Stevie for today’s #AskAwayFriday, and for once, I actually somewhat remember how I met her. That’s not usually the story with my favorite bloggers/connections but she so awesomely reminded me recently that we met on my SITS Day back in July. I hope you don’t mind that I went to fact-check this, Stevie, and found the words that won me over:

“I am a little late, but I wanted to be sure to stop by and wish you a happy belated SITS day. Can I just say, your blog just instantly made me smile? You have such a happy joyful vibe! Your pictures are lovely and I love your tagline – soulful writing and photography. I’m really excited to meet you and find your blog. I look forward to reading a little more of your writing!”

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And so it began. And so it begins..And I love this journey. And I love her questions for me.

May they shed some light for you on some of the rhythms of my heart..

1. I know I have told you how much I loved reading your series on How I Met Your Father and the subsequent, What it Felt Like to Write That. What’s it like to be married after such an epic love story? How have you and Cassidy changed since that time?

Oof, you’re off with a bang here! My mom once had a famous quote in my story about how the first time we were together, it was like pouring hot lava into two dixie cups – we weren’t yet strong enough to withstand the power and heat. When we were together the second time, two years later, she said it was like pouring hot lava into two strong clay cups. We were now strong enough to withstand the power and heat. I will add some yada yada about being strong enough for the lava, but soft enough to still be molded closer to each other. Of course there have been parts of me that have said, “Well..that’s great and all, but now what?” after having such an intriguing “how we met” story. And the “now what” is that you have to honor that story and that magic and power. And of course, love. I’d be lying if I said we honored it daily, or weekly, or even monthly the way you honor such a story. However we’re a fantastically messy, and messily fantastic work-in-progress. And I can work with this kind of clay.

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2. Speaking of Cassidy, how does he feel about your blog? Does he read it?

Yes, he does read my blog and I believe he reads every post, if not right away. I think his feelings for it probably evolve. There have been times in which we were having tensions and he said my blog read like that of a single mom, even though I wasn’t one. And I think it evolves as we do. Even during the worst of our arguments, I know he has always been rooting for me. Even when he doesn’t like what I’m saying, he can appreciate the way I say it (the writing part) or the way other people relate to me.

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3. You often include song lyrics in your writing, as a way to illustrate the feeling and mood of the story. What song tells your story, your life as it is right now, in this moment?

I’m definitely still on my “Safe and Sound” (by Capital Cities) kick that I’ve been on for exactly three months. For me it’s all about feeling safe and sound and fighting the situational anxiety I’ve been prone to for years. It’s also about taking baby steps to greater success, clarity, and fear-overcoming, while still feeling safe and sound. And every now and then it’s nice to not at all feel safe and sound. As long as you can get back to that place later that night at home, or at some point. Doing scary things is pretty awesome. My second choice would be “Jump” by Madonna. It’s about..the good kind of jumping. Faith leaping, really.

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4. I am taking a clue from Eli’s (Coach Daddy) six word stories. Tell in six words, what is the essence of who you are?

Oversensitive and humored, high on life.

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5. You know I have babies on the brain. I remember you saying that you didn’t have time to plan and prepare for being a mom, so I am guessing Scarlet was a bit of a surprise. What did it feel like to find out you were pregnant?

Total shock to the system. I had been SO SURE the test would be negative and me being ten days late and hating the smell of garlic was somehow stress related? The instructions on the pregnancy test said it could take up to three minutes, but in a matter of 30 seconds, it very boldly and digitally said, “PREGNANT.” My first instinct was to cry into Cassidy’s shoulder. I was scared. And on a really stupid but honest note, I’m an emetophobe and I was afraid of having morning sickness. Luckily, I never did. For about a week after the positive test, I would wake up panicked in the middle of the night and just think there is no way it could happen. Nature gives you nine months to prepare for a baby, but by my second week after finding out, I was rapidly excited.

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6. I know from your How I Met Your Father posts that you used to work in an office environment. But I also saw in an older post that it was your first week as a stay at home mom. When and how did you make that transition?

I’ve gone back and forth one too many times. When I graduated college and after I had sufficiently screwed around and traveled for awhile, I worked as a school photographer doing class photos. Eventually, the wear and tear of lugging the risers, medium format camera and various lighting kits at 5:00 am in the morning got to me and I settled into a nice, cushy office job for four years. Then I moved to California and did some awful temp stuff, then worked for a year as an innkeeper. Then we moved back here and I did more awful temp stuff, then had Scarlet, then did more awful part-time temp stuff. Then Cassidy settled into a full-time job with a good company and I went back to stay-at-home mom status. However, through it all, I’ve been discovering that writing and photography? Those things are IT for me, and what I’m working with and towards. No more awful temp stuff!

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7. I have my Canon Rebel DSLR for about six months now and I’m still getting the hang of it. Are there any resources you recommend for a newbie photographer?

I think people will point you in all kinds of directions – Clickin Moms, I Heart Faces, & various magazines, websites and online photo classes. I’m here to tell you to go to and create a log-in. You don’t have to be a mother to join, but you do want to be either a parent, an expectant parent, or someone starting that journey. In the community section, join their photography groups. I swear I have learned more in their community forums than anywhere else ever. And from there, you can get even deeper resources. These women really analyze and study every detail of everything ever. Not just photography!

8. I love seeing some of the pictures that were taken inside of your house. It’s a little glimpse into Tamara’s daily life. How did you choose the house that you live in?

I don’t think we had any intention of moving from the very happy condo we lived in for three years, but we used to go to open houses just for fun. And it really was fun, because we hadn’t fallen in love with anything. At one house that I was not even in like with, the realtor who was selling it saw us for the goldmine that we were, and she asked us to list our absolute deal breakers in a house. Of course I put that it needed to have more than one bathroom and central a/c. She told me I might want to broaden my horizons, but I never really did. After weeks of email listings, we were intrigued by a house. We took it to the next step and scheduled a second viewing. It didn’t have central air, but that wasn’t the problem. I wasn’t feeling it. I looked through many listings and so did Cassidy and we both came to the other with an interesting listing we had seen for a funky house in the woods, but in the town we already lived in. That’s our house now. We walked right in at the open house and I nearly glared at anyone else that set foot there after us. It was ours, all along, but I wanted the process to be speedy. Luckily it was.

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9. I know you and I have both written about our struggle with self-doubt and self-confidence, and how that comes and goes. What is one thing you really like or are really proud about yourself?

Funny you should ask, because it’s something you definitely have and you write a blog about it! I find joy easily. I remember first getting high on life when I was ten, and maybe earlier than that. I can almost skip with joy on a consistent basis. I hope I won’t lose that ever, but I don’t think I will. I seem to be wired this way.

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10. Okay a totally self-serving question here. What do you think about a guest post swap?

Um..YES! How has this not happened before?

Okay since that was a cheat question, I’ll do one more. You have said that you were blogging for a long time before you really started getting serious and started networking with other bloggers. What was the impetus for your change in direction?

Hey, that’s a good one! There wasn’t really one defining moment, but a series of them. I had just gotten serious about my photography business and I was working with a web designer on a website and logo. I was afraid I’d lose the writing aspect of my life, so I wondered how I could take that further too. Everything seemed to point to joining a blogging community and SITS was recommended to me a lot. I am exponentially happier blogging with a community than blogging alone. mom used to be my only commenter and she got really busy with moving my grandmother up to New Jersey around the same time..

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  1. I love that the two of you did this! You both have such a distinct voice and honesty to your writing, it's a very good match! I'm headed to Stevie's blog next to read "the other half!"

  2. I had no idea that's how you found your house. WHAT A GREAT STORY!! You have an epic love story AND an epic house story. It was just *totally* meant to be!! Squee!! –Lisa

    1. Thanks, Lisa! It was so cool that we both found the same house and came to each other with the listing. I wish you could visit because it's a grand old (new) place!

  3. Just reading the above comments about house envy, and I have house envy too! I even wrote about it today. I don't even know how everyone comes up with such good questions for Ask Away Friday, since I'm so lousy at it! These are great questions (and great answers!)

    1. I usually think I did ok, until I get the emails from the person I swapped with and then I feel horribly unworthy. These questions are so great! Same with every #AskAwayFriday I’ve done. I bet yours are fantastic too! I can’t see any other way from you.

  4. There is so much in this interview – that I really don't know where to begin! Who ever would have thought that some of the best photography advice resided at Baby Center? And the songs lyrics that I've seen accompany some of your posts are always perfect. I still remember when you wrote Upside Down – one of my top 5 favorite posts of yours ever – I can even remember where I was sitting when I read it – and infused it with the Tori Amos song. That was pure awesome.

    1. Babycenter even has a message board for dealing with in-laws, and the stories will have your jaw drop to the floor!
      I feel like “Upside Down” really cemented us as kindred spirits. Although there were 100 ways before that, and continuing ways after that too..

    1. Well! I am giving you a "Cheers" with my Dunkin eggnog blend, only they forgot the syrup so it's actually eggnog flavor-less and is just regular decaf Dunkin.


  5. I think most marriages go through 'you write like a single mom' or something similar. Maybe it's because I have always been a stay at home mom? Or the traveling which was done for work? But I remember being told it was like the kids and I were the family and he was the outsider. When you spend all day every day together you have experiences beyond what other people can possibly know. You get into a much deeper cadence with each other. It's not a thing you can plan for or against, it's just what happens. It's like being on a good basketball team. You get a guy in there who plays with the team for half of the hours and, well, it's just different. Sometimes he doesn't pick up on the subconscious cues because he missed stuff.

    This was my typical long-winded way of saying: It's totally normal.

    Some day I will get a big kid camera and learn to use it. Some day. xoxo

    1. See above what I wrote to Alison! Can't speak for Stevie but surely she sees how awesome you are!! xoxo! We're getting a snow storm this weekend. Jealous? Probably not.

  6. Your house makes me miss MA …SO MUCH! And as you know I am a huge fan of your photos and writing! The How I met your father series is a favorite of mine! I wish my memory was as detailed!

    1. Aw, come visit! There's only a giant snowstorm coming. Think of all the fun we could have on Hospital Hill! No for real, though, I went there once and nearly froze my buns off. And I was too afraid to go down the big hill and just went down on the small side.


  7. I'm glad it is. I think at first I thought, "But we're so magical! Arguments are so…typical!" And really, matter how you get to where you are, love is love, and maybe we just had to fight harder to be together. And we have to fight just as hard as anyone to stay together.

    It's kinda magical, but we're all kinda magical.

  8. I’d heard Safe & Sound before but never really listened to the words — thanks! And I think this may have finally convinced me to get involved with SITS Girls. =)

    1. Oh yes! I thought you already were in SITS because you’re blogging friends with so many of my blogging friends.
      It’s really a great place to connect! And I’m glad you liked the lyrics.

    1. Thanks! It took me over a month and it was INTENSE. I was pregnant too, so maybe more emotional than ever. Maybe not, though. I'm usually like that!

    1. Maybe he sneak reads it? Cassidy doesn't talk about it often, but every now and then he'll mention a post and I'll ask, "You read it?" And he'll say, "I read them all."

  9. Such a great Q & A! I love of your answers and now I have to go back more and read your How I Met Your Father series. What a brilliant series idea! Your house is beautiful by the way. Even from the outside it just looks so warm and cozy!

    1. Thanks! It can be hard to heat, but with the fire blaring and the tree lit..well..I just wish it could be like that all winter long. Generally we take the tree down after the new year and I'll miss it always!

  10. I find joy freely, too, Tamara – maybe that's one of the reasons I like you so much 🙂 I feel very lucky to be that way. Stevie rocked the questions to you, and you didn't disappoint. Two soulful writers in one place – yay!

    1. Maybe that’s why I like you too! And you’re kind and funny.
      I loved this team up. I really feel like each week I am so lucky. I’ve had four great ones in a row! And I think I’ve only had four in all..

  11. I love your joy, Tamara. I feel like I have that at times, too – like I just can’t contain it and there must be skipping and laughter that is just-a-bit-too-loud.
    I also love seeing the photos of your house in the woods – it looks so bright, cozy, and peaceful in the snow.

    1. I think that's why we became fast blogging friends! That, the parenting thing, the Doctor Who thing, etc. It's really a wonder to have this joyous high on life moments every now and then. I used to say they couldn't be all the time because I would fall down with the vertigo!

  12. First off let me say, the picture of your house is beautiful! I love AAF, because I always get to learn more about my favorite bloggers. That’s so great that your husband reads your blog. Mines doesn’t read it that I know of, but he does support me strongly in it. Every so often he’ll peek over at what I’m blogging and give it a read. Its really nice to have that support. He also loves to be featured on my blog, so in a way he’s kind of the man behind the blog. Funny enough, he’s responsible for half of the recipes on it and is always reminding me to take pictures of things for my blog.

    1. Thanks! We love our house. The winters can be longer and darker here, but not by much. And the rest of the year more than makes up for it.
      I really love AAF. You should join, if you haven’t already!

  13. It is such a cool thing to dream up these questions and then to see the answers! And I'm kind of tickled that Dna called us soulful writers! I have a spring in my step!

    I love the story of the clay cups. I think that makes so much sense. And even if you don't feel like you honor that story every day, it's still there, it's the undercurrent. Alex reads all my blog posts, and even if he can't relate,or doesn't understand, he does support me. I think every great love comes with struggle. Being human, making a life together, learning how to intertwine without breaking, it's hard and messy. I haven't written about it much, but Alex and I had a very dark period in our earlier days. I learned so much!

    Love your house story, your Scarlet story, and everything about this post.

    And I am totally checking out Baby Center. Who would have thought?

      1. Wow..that's the thing. You never know. It always looks like fairy tales when it's other people you admire. However, maybe to be that close and romantic, you had to struggle first. Not for everyone, but I'm sure coming out on the other side time and time again is really all you can ask for. There will always be tough times mixed in with the joy.

    1. She doesn't talk about it a lot, though! She also won a photo contest once. She focuses more on her diorama dream boxes and her illustrations. Multi-talent!

  14. I hate getting sick too. And unfortunately, it was bad when I was pregnant with Tommy. I'm talking dry heaving, puking every 5 minutes, the works. With Natalie I just felt incredibly sick but I would will my body NOT to throw up. I do that when I'm sick too. My husband is like, "You know if you throw up, you'll feel better," but I cannot!

    I love your horse drawn carriage by the way. And I will join some photography groups. I have no idea what I'm doing when I take pictures.

    1. You just reminded me that I have a good friend who is on her third pregnancy and she is TRYING to puke. She think it will be better than endless nausea. I can’t imagine, but I’m sure she’s right.

  15. Aw! I love that you and Stevie paired up! I never saw that picture of you in the horse and carriage! Such a dream! That picture of you and Cassidy in front of those mountains is breath-taking! I showed Harroll the picture of your house. I wanted to know what he thought of it. It's so beautiful! I sort of felt like you before I settled into stay at home mom status…coming and going sort of. You are seriously one of the most awesome people I've met in the blogging community, it still baffles me that you could be even the slightest bit unconfident sometimes 🙂

    1. The mountains picture was Yosemite! I’d looove to get back there someday. Have you been?
      And thank you so much for those words – it really means so much, especially in this big old unconfident head.

  16. I love how you include lyrics and song titles in your post Tamara! They are always so appropriate. I wondered about the outside of your home after that ginormous Christmas tree post. It is absolutely breathtaking. I can see why you fell in love with it!

    1. Thank you! I love that I could provide a visual for everyone! I snuck into my old computer (stopped using it a year ago) and it was a goldmine of old photos.

  17. Now I want to listen to “Safe and Sound.” Oh – and check out I’d never have thought of it as a source of photography knowledge.

    I love seeing the outside of your house, Tamara. How fun. It’s gorgeous and so “you!”

    1. I seriously never would have imagined it! I used to hang out on my birth board and everyone there was nuts or fighting with each other. Then I’d get amused by the in-laws board. The photography board has some serious pros on it.

  18. I really really love your photos!! Your house is soo cool and beautiful too. 🙂 When I read your answer about pregnancy, I immediately realized that what I felt when I found out I was pregnant was no different than how you felt. Scared and then excited.. Then came pure bliss upon seeing your wonderful angel.

    1. Yes, it grew and grew! I could have gone on forever with my answer there. I could have talked about the first time I felt the kicks and when we knew it was a girl… much!

  19. Oh man so much to love about this post. I really think this is my favorite ask away friday EVER! First I love what your mom said about the lava and the dixie cups! SO perfect! Then she asked a question that I have been having inside of me ready to go–baby center?! REALLY?! I get super obsessed with that site when I am pregnant. Like hours and hours of reading! Now I am headed right over. I seriously need to star taking classes — I adore photography and I just want to get better!

    1. Babycenter can be so ridiculous, right? The birth boards are NUTS. After I learned that each board was incredibly detailed, I hung out on other boards. Really, good stuff in there. Hidden gems.

  20. It's so obvious that you both are just beautiful people! The questions were so well-crafted, as though with intense interest, and your answers respected that. Of course you know I love you, and have told you before that reading your blog just makes me feel lit up inside. 🙂

  21. I loved y’all’s match up this week!!! Some really great questions and answers. I loved the house story (and picture!). And, I think you talk about Cassidy a lot on here – love that he reads your blog!

    1. There are apparently lots of us! I actually had friends at my old job – FOUR friends – and we all had it. Three of us went on to have children too. And one of them has a child with digestive problems..poor her.

  22. First of all, can I move into your house? It’s gorgeous! Babycenter? For pictures? I have been there so many times, I wonder how I missed that? Going to have to remember that one. I love all of those pictures of you and the babies, so sweet. One thing I love the most: your open, honest, sincerity of wearing it all on your sleeve. I would totally be your neighbor and bring you cookies and coffee (even through I don’t do caffeine) every day!

    1. I have often thought we’d make great neighbors!! And the babycenter thing is really weird. They have a board called “Amateur Photography” and it’s not amateur at all! There are some serious pros in there. Ones who have won awards, and many who have well-established businesses.

  23. OMG….How much do I adore and relate to you? I am crying, and I’m not even sure why. The love story? Er, maybe. The rest? Dunno. So beautiful and amazing….

  24. I think your feelings on being pregnant were very normal because mine were somewhat the same! LOL! I think all women (at least the ones I have talked to) have some of the same feelings…you are one ball of emotions…from crying to laughing and planning! I love the pictures of your house…its beautiful!!!

    1. Yes, it was totally like that! And very surprising too. With my son, I had a range of emotions but he was carefully planned differently, so there wasn't the shock value.

  25. I’ve learned so much here! I love getting to know you better when I think I already knew you…does that make sense? My other favorite is the “dixie cups with lava in them” – OMG I think that is exactly my husband and I. We are def more in the clay cups now but some days I still feel like a “dixie!”

  26. I don’t think I have ever seen a full on shot of your house before. It’s beautiful and seems to fit your personality well.

    I have to check out these photography sites you recommend. Now if I can only get a decent camera. 🙂

  27. Such good questions and I love both of your blogs!! Can’t wait to check out Stevie’s post too! I think it is so great that Cassidy reads your blog…I wonder how many husbands do. I know mine doesn’t unless I ask him to. But every once in a while he surprises me with a comment, or one of the kids does!

  28. I so enjoy reading your writing, Tamara. These were great answers to awesome questions! And I love the fact that your husband reads your blog. My husband never reads mine. I think he looked at one post in 3 years of blogging– and it was a Christmas wishlist lol.

    I'm going to catch up on more of your posts now (especially How I Met Your Father).

    1. Thank you so much for visiting! I love reading your blog during these fun Fridays, and I want to catch up more soon. You asked Brittnei great questions too!
      Funny that he read your wishlist! I guess he needed good ideas!

  29. Ummm, can I just say that I love seeing you and Stevie paired together?! Two of my favorite people. And you both had such amazing questions for each other. It’s funny, when I first started blogging my husband made a similar comment about how I wrote like I was a single mom which wasn’t my intention at all. I just didn’t want to drag him into all my writing all that much and to respect his privacy. And I do believe that I have you to thank for getting me hooked on “Safe and Sound.” Can’t stop listening to it!

    1. Thank you! I love this pairing too. The questions made me think for days! I dig that. And I'm happy to hear the solidarity of other women writing like single moms. Oops! Again, it was early on and I didn't know what to do about privacy yet. He's generally been very ok with everything, but I had to tread lightly at first.

      Safe and Sound rocks!!

  30. I just love reading your posts even when you swap questions. I am also loving the photos. Your wedding shot is absolutely amazing. btw hubby doesn't read my blog which I don't mind anyway. He wouldn't really be interested in anything we write. 🙂 As for house hunting, you guys got a beautiful house, love the look of it with all that snow. Absolutely beautiful! Hope you're having a great weekend.

    1. Thanks! I'm having a GREAT weekend, thanks to you. It looks like a lot of spouses don't read our blogs. I'm shocked! I think everything you say is very interesting but I suppose he's lucky enough to get to hear you talk every day!

  31. You have a very omygosh amazing wedding! I was in love with the horse and the carriage idea!! Your house is also beautiful and the life story you have is deeply interesting, more family drawn and inspiring to moms like me.

    1. Thanks so much. It was very fairy tale like. I wish I could have been even more present and less anxious. Oh to do it all again! And I kinda wish I could take photos at my own wedding.

  32. Such great questions and answers! It is awesome that you skip with joy! 🙂 Your pictures are so amazing! I hope to swap with you soon! 🙂 The house is absolutely beautiful and while I don't like snow, it certainly adds such a dreamy quality! Have a great week, Tamara!

  33. Great interview and best of luck with the photography business 🙂 Your answers were very true to self and honest so it’s nice to see that – and i’m envious that you can find joy quickly as I am more of a negative nancy trying to be a positive penny, not much success yet! Have a great one Tamara! -Iva

  34. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you skip with joy!!! Lets skip together!!! 🙂

    These Q and A’s are so cool!! I just love getting to know you even better Tamara!!! You are such a gift. ALL of you. And your pictures ALWAYS take my breath away… just such ART. Mwuah!

  35. Your house is beautiful — the perfect little {well, not so little} cabin in the woods. Except the snow right now? Um, unless I was wearing your red peacoat no thank you! Ha!!

    I love those pics of you with your baby. So precious. It's criminal to think it was so long ago and yet not so long.

    Want to skip with me??



    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

    1. Girl my red peacoat isn’t warm at all! I have to wear a puffy Land’s End contraption for this weather. In my vision, though, we are both styling in peacoats.
      I would love to skip with you.

  36. Great questions and answers!! Love your story about finding your house! Reminded me of when we found ours! And what a great trait to be proud of – I wish I found it easier to find joy, but I'm working on it and slowly getting better! 🙂

    1. It's nice to have a good story about finding a house. My realtor told me you should never fall in love (with houses), because you're bound to get hurt, and I told her I could never do it without falling in love. Ick.

  37. Thank you so much! The sunlight does come through but this time of year, it's pretty much gone by 3:00 pm. And sometimes I'll walk out to get the mail or drive somewhere and I'll realize that it's not really nighttime yet! Just in our house.

  38. I would love to skip with! We should do that sometime.

    You're the best commenter ever for when I'm not in a good mood. I read your comment and it's like medicine.

  39. I really enjoyed this little Q&A. Very cool. Your story about learning you were pregnant with Scarlet is so similar to mine. I thought the test made a mistake. Matter of fact, I thought the first 3 test made a mistake. Ha! Your house though? Can we say EVERYTHING?! So, so beautiful. Like postcard beautiful. A real life gingerbread home. Cute!

    1. With Scarlet, I only took the one test. With Des, even though he was totally planned, I took FOUR tests. I still couldn't believe it.

      I like that. A real life gingerbread home! Wish I could eat the walls.

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