Fam photos: Santa Barbara, CA

On the last day of our recent trip to California we drove north to meet up with my longtime photographer friend Kelly Sweda. I have fallen in love with her corner of the world through her instagram photos and it's been a dream of mine to have her photograph my family there.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon as we climbed a hill onto this grassy bluff overlooking the Pacific. All of the light and magic and ocean breeze of this place....UNREAL. It had Nate and I eyeing up the real estate the whole way back to the airport. :) And Kelly did such an amazing job capturing it all. Sharing just a few of my favorites here.

December

It's a warm night in December. The sun white-washes everything I see, ratty blonde hair whipping around, Maggie's cheeks bouncing as she runs around the yard, the tiny ridges of Stella's first big tooth growing in as she lays back on the hammock, eyes closed tight, singing loudly. Two baby calves nearby cry back in response. The wind blows and pine needles fall. My girls wrestle in the grass and fight over sticks and scream and laugh. I want to remember it all.

I went to a birth recently, a goddess of a woman with dark hair flowing over the edge of the bathtub. Her pearl earrings and teeth glinted in the light that poured in through the window. She opened her mouth to grimace, then breathe, then smile. She squeezed her husband's hand until his fingers turned white and at the last minute she reached down and pulled her baby up onto her chest, pink and screaming. Her face looked heavenward, eyes closed, sobbing.

These little clusters of memories are embedded into my soul. They give me pause and fill me with gratitude and stand as reminders of how merciful The Lord has been to me. And to my family. And to all of us. So happy to be celebrating His birth this season, a birth that has truly changed my life and the way I live it.

I'm 28. It's almost Christmas. Life has never felt more difficult but I have never been more happy. 

This is the last entry in the "11 on 11" series that I was so lucky to participate in this year. I have grown to love these girls and their families: Sara Kaleho (MN)Sanna Lee (MN)Marie Sant (UT)Kelly Sweda (CA), and Brandi Tejeda (CO). Thank you so much for following along and for the kind words of support over the past year. You can check out Kelly's last post of the series here

Stripped

If I were writing the story of my life this chapter would be called Stripped. Because it feels like that's what has been happening, a slow, systematic and unrelenting peeling away of my former self. Maybe other people who have gone through similar life altering experiences can relate. All of the fluff that used to take up so much of my brain space has blown away. Not only because I don't have time for it anymore, but I don't want it anymore.

I used to spend a good portion of our income on buying clothes and home decor and things. And now we can't afford any of that, but I'm seeing how silly and transparent and unnecessary it all is. With all of the driving and sitting in class and clinic my butt has morphed from grapefruits to pancakes. It still makes me feel depressed now and again but it seems to always come down to either working out or taking an hour to study my scriptures and pray, and I know that having buns of steel can't compensate for feeling spiritually empty. All of my shallow friendships have dried up and the deep ones have grown even deeper. 

I wake up every day surrender. It sounds so cliche, but really. I roll off of my back and onto my knees and say, please help me to give up whatever you are ready to free me of. And please help me to focus on my blessings instead of what I feel like I'm missing. 

I know that this journey I'm on is being led by an omnipotent, loving God. And while the stripping away feels uncomfortable, I know that what I'm shedding is exactly what is holding me back from becoming who I was designed to be. And that realization turns any resentment into instant gratitude. 

These are photos from a trip to Missouri last month. We celebrated a wedding in Nathan's family and spent some time on the Schmoe homestead where he grew up. 

Down by the creek with Papa Schmoe. Learning how to skip rocks and catch turtles and dig with oyster shells.

Down by the creek with Papa Schmoe. Learning how to skip rocks and catch turtles and dig with oyster shells.

This entry is part of an "11 on 11" series I'm participating in with some photographers whose work inspires me: Sara Kaleho (MN)Sanna Lee (MN)Marie Sant (UT)Kelly Sweda (CA), and Brandi Tejeda (CO. We all post 11 photos on the 11th of each month, just for fun. 

We link to each other to create a blog circle. You can follow along by checking out Sanna's post.

what i'm trying to say is....

Midwifery school has turned me into a ghost lately, sneaking in at night and leaving before the sun rises again. It's been hard but rewarding and mostly, really overwhelming. And I feel like it has ostracized me a bit from everyone. You know when you're going through something and you can try to tell people about it but you know they won't really get it? 

 The gist of it is - I am so freaking busy all of the time. I've been home for less than 5 waking hours for the past 8 days and driven close to 900 miles. I found myself buying groceries in the ghetto as the store was closing the other night. I sat in my car and scribbled a grocery list and then ran around trying to find everything in 5 minutes flat. When I got to the checkout the cashier smiled and asked, how has your day been?  and what I wanted to say was, well, I have a sick baby at home and I'm sleep deprived and my other baby got a bad gash in her foot and I'm worried that she's going to get tetanus and die and I'm trying not to internalize the issues that one of my yoga students uncovered in class today and I'm cooking breakfast for thirty people tomorrow morning and oh yeah, I just helped two new people enter this world today, right in their own living rooms, it was crazy.

But instead, I just smiled back and heard myself say, it was great, thanks.

A reprieve from the insanity. We took trip to Utah to watch my brother get married last month. I turned my phone off for a week and we played all day long.

A reprieve from the insanity. We took trip to Utah to watch my brother get married last month. I turned my phone off for a week and we played all day long.

At a cabin tucked away in the mountains, playing tag with cousins at twilight, barefoot, on grass that feels like carpet.

At a cabin tucked away in the mountains, playing tag with cousins at twilight, barefoot, on grass that feels like carpet.

Attached to me like two little fleas. I'm ok with that.

Attached to me like two little fleas. I'm ok with that.

This entry is part of an "11 on 11" series I'm participating in with some photographers whose work inspires me: Sara Kaleho (MN)Sanna Lee (MN)Marie Sant (UT)Kelly Sweda (CA), and Brandi Tejeda (CO. We all post 11 photos on the 11th of each month, just for fun. 

We link to each other to create a blog circle. You can follow along by checking out Kelly's post.