Winter / Spring 2012
Photography continues to be my favorite creative endeavor, and I am loving the process of growing and improving in my art. This past year, I continued to develop my photography skills, and enjoyed networking with local models and makeup artists. I teamed up with Benicia and Imani to create the image below for a contest. Radiant Cosmetics produces quality makeup and is actively working to fight human trafficking. We were one of their chosen finalists and won a bunch of free lipsticks!
I also partnered with Bella Vue, a boutique in downtown Sacramento, for several events. They hosted a party for local fashion bloggers, and after taking several pics, I jumped at the chance to have my hair and makeup done to play model myself. It is definitely weird for me to be on the other side of the camera! I loved this dress so much that I ended up coming back for it!
In late winter, we reunited with friends for a weekend cabin getaway in Lake Tahoe. The more time goes by, the more grateful I am for friendships that last the years. Especially as they start having kids... wow. It seems like just last year that we found out our friends were pregnant, and now their son is becoming a little man. Their growing son and his buddy were the trailblazers on our hike down to Emerald Bay. I love this innocent moment of childhood friendship:
Hiking and camping are among our favorite activities (they also happen to pair well with photography), and we are always trying to plan out our next trip to the great outdoors. This year's big trip was a weeklong camping trip to Yosemite National Park. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and home to my favorite hiking trails.
We were joined by my mom and a few special friends. Highlights included deepening great friendships, seeing a bear, snagging a private constellation tour with a ranger, watching Christina invent new ways to make coffee, celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary, and climbing to the top of the world!
This summer was also special to me, as I was asked to display my photography in my first art show. RAW: natural born artists hosts nationwide events to promote local artists, and I was selected to share my photography. Instead of selecting from images I already had, I decided to shoot a series specifically for the show. It was a huuuuuuge project to accomplish in a short amount of time, but with the help of creative and devoted friends we pulled it off. I was beyond happy with the outcome. I loved the final images and felt that the display represented me well as an artist. I am already scheming what I would like to do for my next personal project...
The summer was also the time to celebrate a great milestone - Gary's graduation from seminary! He started taking classes at Western Seminary in 2001, to expand his biblical knowledge after we had started leading small groups for youth and adults at our church. He started out one class at a time, and had to take a year off during our around-the-world mission trip. He persevered though, and was finally able to complete his Masters of Divinity Degree. I am so proud of him for his accomplishment!
Last but not least, the end of the summer brought the realization that we would be moving into a new chapter of our lives in more ways than one: I learned that I was pregnant! We are expecting a little baby boy to join our family in May 2013! We are so very delighted and are really enjoying this time of expectation. After 13 years of being just the two of us, it feels very surreal to imagine how drastically life will change in just a few short months. In so many ways, though, the timing seems so very specific as to prove to us that God has a plan for this special little life. Pregnancy has definitely been an exercise in learning to slow down (which I have been pretty good about embracing) and trust God (this has been more challenging than I expected). All in all, though, it's been a great experience, and we are looking forward to parenthood with all of our hearts.
Each Halloween, we host an annual Candy Poker Night. It's a good excuse to hang out with friends, play games, and eat too much candy. Halloween falls 2 days after Gary's birthday, and 7 days before mine, so it's always a celebratory time of year. We've carried on the tradition for at least ten years now (including the year we were in South Africa) and always enjoy welcoming new faces to the mix. I'm pretty sure that no one has ever won twice! Molly was this year's poker champ, and if we'd had a costume contest, she would have won that too. She had the best peacock costume I've ever seen (it may be hard to see in this picture, but she has wings glued to her back)!
This year's Thanksgiving was bittersweet, as it was the first time that Gary and I spent the holiday apart. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Gary went to southern California to see her
through a surgical procedure. The surgery was right before turkey day, so he stayed to help and share Thanksgiving with her. Fortunately, my mom and dad had planned to come up, so I was still able to enjoy some good family time. I am pleased to announce that my turkey recipe is evolving nicely, and that I didn't forget to defrost the turkey (although how could I, since my parents make a point of reminding me EVERY YEAR about that ONE TIME!)!
After eating way too much, and playing too many games of Settlers of Catan, my mom helped me bring in our Christmas boxes and we set up the tree. I was very thankful for the help, because lifting and reaching tasks have become a bit more, uh, challenging lately! I have kept my promise to not inundate Facebook with pictures of my pregnant self, but couldn't resist including one for the blog. This is me about 3 1/2 months along!
All in all, I count myself blessed. I have an amazing husband, a sweet baby on the way, friends and family that enrich my life, and a job and hobby that I love. Life has its frustrations and heartbreaks, but the happy memories are what I want to remember, and the blessings are what I want to hold on to. 2012 has been memorable, and I expect 2013 will be even more so! I am thankful that you are a part of my life and I pray that God blesses you richly in 2013 with an abundance of His joy.